AEW’s Daniel Garcia is currently involved in one of the top factions in wrestling, but life could’ve ended up very differently for him had he signed with a hesitant WWE.
WWE’s strategy for signing talent has vastly changed in the last couple of years. No longer do they contract the hottest prospects on the independent scene, as they now favour non-wrestling athletes that they can build and mould into WWE Superstars from the ground up.
Before the change, it wasn’t uncommon for the WWE Performance Center to be inundated with the latest stars of the indie circuit. Among them, almost, was Daniel Garcia. ‘Red Death’ was in attendance for a WWE tryout in January 2021, during which he was reportedly “welcomed to the team” by Triple H.
Garcia was essentially WWE-bound, or at least he would’ve been had WWE been more persistent with his official signing. Daniel Garcia was a recent guest on Talk Is Jericho, where he discussed feeling disrespected during the entire tryout, despite performing well (h/t F4WOnline):
“So I did the camp and honestly, I crushed it, like the promo was phenomenal. Well, I thought it was at the time, looking back probably it wasn’t, at the time I liked it. I had a really good practice match against, it was only me, one other indie guy, and then like a bunch of football players. But yeah, and I thought I did really well, they asked me to stay another extra day to go on to have like a dark, not a dark match, but a squash match on NXT against Tyler Rust.
And the match went really well. I remember I went through the back, and like Shawn Michaels loved it and Road Dogg loved it, A-Train loved it. Triple H shook my hand and said, ‘Welcome to the team.’ So yeah, I think he thought I was signed, but like I wasn’t at the time. But in my mind, in my mind, I’m like, ‘Oh, like, I guess I’m going to NXT, hey mom, I’m moving to Orlando.’
And I talked to Canyon Ceman right before I left. He said, ‘Hey, like, let me know if any other place has interest, because we’ll sign you sooner.’ In my mind. I’m like, that’s disrespectful to me. Like, if you want to sign me, just sign me.”
Daniel Garcia wrestled two matches for WWE in total, having first lost to Drew Gulak in just thirty seconds on a July 2018 205 Live broadcast. Garcia was then defeated by Tyler Rust on NXT’s 27 January 2021 episode.
Currently the PWG World Champion, Daniel Garcia signed with AEW in October 2021. He’d previously wrestled a number of matches across AEW programming, forging an alliance with the then-2point0 pairing of Matt Lee and Jeff Parker, and sharing the ring with AEW’s best in Jon Moxley and Darby Allin.
Garcia would also explain how, despite Canyon Ceman’s insistence on keeping in contact with him, the entire ordeal “made him mad”:
“And then I remember I was like, ‘Okay, he wants to play that. I’ll play it back to him.’ He said, ‘So if you’re gonna sign anywhere else, talk to us sooner.’ And at the time, I had like interest from Ring of Honor. And I knew AEW wanted to bring me back in for like extra work. But I was like, ‘I’m going to make this seem bigger than it actually is.’
So I said to him, ‘Well, with that being said, I’ll talk to you very soon.’ And I think he got kind of hot [on] me for that. I think [that] shook them up a little bit. And, um, they emailed me a couple weeks later, kind of saying, like, ‘oh, like, we’re gonna stay in contact, blah, blah, blah.’ And then that kind of made me mad. And then I went on a crazy indie run that I signed with AEW.”
Daniel Garcia is currently a member of The Jericho Appreciation Society, and was recently awarded a five-star match by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer for his participation in the Anarchy In The Arena match at Double or Nothing.