Interview With . . . Ricky Starks

Ricky Starks has taken AEW by storm, from being a promising young star to a full-fledged superstar – sharing the ring with the likes of Sting, and winning the FTW Championship.

Speaking exclusively with Inside The Ropes’Kenny McIntosh, Starks recalled his journey from NWA, his progression

Ricky, I appreciate the commitment to fashion, to even just talk to me today.

Well, I’m not trying. This outfit I just threw on.

That’s almost worse for me to hear that this is you with no effort, but anyway! You’re one of the hottest stars in AEW right now, but you’ve had a very interesting journey. I want to ask you about that near two-year run in NWA where I guess a lot of people first saw you and first got to grips with you. How important was that?

That was two years?! I could have sworn it was shorter than that!

I think it was like a year and a half, but it was like 2018 to to mid 2020.

It was late 2018, because we did the 70 anniversary show, but that was very crucial to my career, just in part that it was a good platform. I mean, to be honest with you, this was all a part of my plan to begin with. Like I already knew what I was doing when I signed up for NWA and I kind of had already predicted my future with them or the future of the company itself in terms of my career path. So it was very, very important for me to have that happen just because it was a way to get people more introduced and acclimated to me as a performer; and I could sharpen my skills a little bit more in that type of environment.

Yeah, for sure. You know, obviously, that you said you had a career path in mind that led you to the open challenge with Cody. How did it come about?

Well, the funny thing is, the challenge came out of nowhere. I was contacted by AEW about doing it. But the funny thing is, I had kind of predicted it in my head. Like, I kept having this vision of me walking out and then cutting this promo against Cody for the title and this and that. And that was on a Thursday, Friday. And then on a Sunday, I got a text message asking if I wanted to do it. So I’m a huge proponent of manifesting things and whatnot and I kinda believe that was the situation at hand. To me though, having the match, because mind you, this was during COVID, so I didn’t even know this was going to lead to anything.
I left thinking that this would be a great way to, you know, raise my stock and price when I went back to the indies, I didn’t expect to get a contract whatsoever. And so it was even a better moment in a sense, because I was offered something, just offered a match that was essentially a tryout match on live TV. So that’s pretty cool to have in my little back pocket there. But yeah, man, I didn’t expect to get signed at all. I just thought, once we got out of the COVID era, that maybe that we would circle back around and see about signing.

So you do the match with Cody, how long is it before you get signed?

Yeah. So the day that it aired, actually, was the day that I was offered.

What was going through your mind to get that offer in the middle of a time when typically people aren’t being offered the job of their lives?

Dude, it was insane. So not only was the response online just overwhelming in a positive way, but to get offered something was crazy to me just because I didn’t expect that to happen. Like I said, I thought for sure that the COVID situation was going to be the one that I would have to wait on. But I had left NWA, not knowing Covid would kick in, of course, I’d left NWA just knowing that, “Hey, I don’t want to do this anymore. The direction of the company is not for me and I’m just going to keep my wheels going on my own.” So that couldn’t have happened any better. I’ve obviously never predicted that to happen the way it did and here we are a year and some change later, and it’s crazy.

Then Team Taz happens. Tell us about that.

So the thing with Team Taz is that I had met Taz and, dude, the first time I saw him, he was like, “You know, you’re very unique in your style,” and this and that. And of course, I already knew of Cage, and so Taz had basically asked me if I wanted to join the group. And I said, “Absolutely, I would love to” – just because I think when people look at me, they don’t expect me to be of the personality of someone like Taz or of the personality of someone like Cage, these two badass dudes who are brooding and menacing in their own right. And I think people look at me and they go, “Oh, just a little pretty guy who, you know, he is what he is”. But I mean, I can still whoop anyone’s ass, I have no fear of anyone. So I thought it was a fit that worked out so well.

And what’s it been like working with Taz?

Man, it’s incredible, like there’s things that he tells me that I would have never thought of, he sits me down and gives me advice and the small little nuggets of knowledge that he has. So, I can’t put a value on it. He’s helped me out in my career aspects for in-ring stuff and then the business side of things as well. So it’s been great. Like, I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

So, you do the Cody match, you get signed, you’re in Team Taz then you’re working with Moxley, Darby Allin. It’s not “one day” – you’re straight in! I know you’re a confident guy so I assume you had visions of it happening at some point, but how do you handle being in that exposed spot straight away?

You know what? I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for anything, ever. You just prepare yourself and work hard until a situation like that comes up.

Honestly, I thought that it was very, very telling of the company and their trust in me to put me in those situations so quickly. I am a guy that only works under pressure. I like having that feeling of there being a ton of pressure, whether that’s what I apply to myself or whether that’s something that is a tangible thing, I like that. And that’s where I’m able to really hit my stride and succeed.

So to work with people like Darby and Moxley and then go on to wrestle Sting, like that’s insane. But it was a challenge that I loved and I think I knocked it out of the park.

I mean, you and Darby had – and have – such good chemistry together. How good is it to have someone where you just work so well together?

Yeah. You know, I can’t stand Darby as a person – still annoys me. And I think it’s the face paint, the half-face paint. But I can’t deny the fact that that dude has something that obviously everyone else can feel and sometimes you can’t. There’s an aura that you really can’t, like, pinpoint or really describe. He has that and on top of that, the chemistry that I have with him is undeniable as well.

I think that the reason is our mindsets are pretty much one in the same. And to be straight up with you, me and Darby aren’t that far off as far as being the same person, just on total opposite ends of the world. Two guys that came from the Indies that really weren’t popular, that really weren’t given a chance at certain companies and whatnot and knew that their value was always that of much more than what these companies were willing to offer or what they saw. And so I think with that in mind, that’s where the chemistry kind of plays in.


Thanks to Ricky Starks for taking the time, you can follow Ricky on Twitter here. You can catch Ricky Starks on Wednesdays on AEW Dynamite and Fridays on Rampage via Fite TV.