Former NXT star Ari Sterling has commented on NXT coming “off the rails” in recent months and likened the black and gold brand to a famous Spongebob meme.
Sterling was one of thirteen talents from NXT to be released from his WWE contract on August 6th, 2021 amidst continuing budget cuts in WWE and perhaps a sign of major changes coming to the brand.
Now in conversation with The Wrestling Inc. Daily’s Nick Hausman, Ari Sterling has divulged his thoughts on what was happening in NXT and says after a positive spell, things apparently began to go wrong:
“I think, going in, there was this hiring influx and it kind of felt like there was a shift and change in the sense of ‘oh, they’re going onward and upward with this.’ Like NXT is getting a push itself. And then things just started to come off the rails. And everyone’s just like, what’s that Spongebob meme, where he’s like a caveman? There was a lot of that.”
Ari Sterling then discussed how arriving at the Performance Center and settling in soon confounded his expectations as to tales he’d heard of it before joining the company:
“The Performance Center as a whole, which is so interesting, because when I was entering into that atmosphere, you hear all these sorts of things going around. Especially in the wrestling community and on Twitter that’s like talking about how it’s kind of like this, I don’t know, turbulent sort of place. You hear a lot of different stories. But when I was there, everything was such a positive environment. It was a great work environment. And it was kind of unexpected.”
“So at first I’m walking in, kind of on eggshells, right? And then I slowly was like ‘oh, it’s not like that.’ So it’s a very cool environment. I can really appreciate the entire thing that they’re doing down there. Obviously, they’re going through, I truly don’t even know, but they’re going through something. I mean, you’re supposed to get lost in the sauce, not supposed to lose the sauce right?”
For Sterling, his time in the PC was a positive one and he believes the diverse mix of talents and their backgrounds provides a learning environment like no other:
“So they’ll figure it out. And so, a crazy, cool environment, and everyone there pretty much has the same aim in the sense that they want to do cool sh*t. It was really cool to be in that environment, four and five days a week, just working on the craft. And I feel I grew a lot working in that environment too. But also, there’s so many people who you don’t see on the independents, because there are these world class athletes who are just coming into wrestling for the first time. Never stepped foot in a wrestling ring until then.”
“So it’s such a weird mix of people, and of course it’s very diverse and stuff, with people from many different countries and such. It’s really cool, a really cool thing. And for me, that kind of helped in a way. I don’t have a traditional indie wrestling background. Mostly backyard stuff, yard boy, barely trained, just pulling it out of my ass really. So I was lucky to be in there with people who were new to the game too. So it felt a little less like the first day of school and more like ‘oh, we’re all in here trying to better ourselves and get better at what we’re doing.’”