Matt Taven says he and fellow Ring of Honor wrestlers Jay Lethal and Dalton Castle drew suspicions for possibly being spies during a visit to Joe Exotic's Oklahoma zoo.
Exotic, who stars in the Netflix hit documentary series "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," apparently thought the group was working for his nemesis, Carole Baskin of Big Cat Rescue.
"Me, Jay Lethal, Dalton Castle actually went to Joe Exotic's zoo. Yeah, we did," Taven said in an interview with Brian Rowitz of ESPN West Palm. "We had a show in Texas and then the next day we're in Oklahoma City. On that drive, you see nothing but billboards saying '240 exotic tigers' and then all of a sudden you see a billboard with Joe Exotic on it and you're like, 'I'm sold, I need to see what this place is all about.'
"So we went and we had no idea at the time, and I kind of found out after listening to a podcast before 'Tiger King,' but they got really weird when Jay Lethal told them he was from Tampa when they asked where we were all from. Because that ends up being where Big Cat Rescue and Carole Baskin is from. So they thought we were some sort of spies instead of some random guys walking in without a family like everybody else to this tiger zoo. So they thought we were some sort of animal activists or spies. I think after they saw our reactions to, like, 'Woah woah, we're just here to see some tigers,' they realized that we had no other intention besides exactly that."
Exotic is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being found guilty in January on two counts of murder-for-hire against Baskin, among other charges.