‘Absolute’ Ricky Starks has made quite the impression on the AEW faithful since his promotional debut back in June of this year.
Responding to Cody Rhodes’ TNT Title open challenge, the former NWA World Television Champion gave a great account of himself and in doing so, secured a contract with the fledgling promotion.
Having been suitably impressed during the match, company CEO Tony Khan was said to have immediately concocted a storyline for Starks (presumably his involvement with Team Taz) and announced the deal via Twitter just seven days later.
In fact, Starks revealed that shortly following his Dynamite bow, he received a call from WWE stating their interest:
The funny thing is, the day that I wrestled Cody I got a phone call from WWE saying ‘Hey, we’ve been watching you and we wanted to bring you in’. I said ‘Oh really? oh ok. Interesting. Of all days’. And so I entertained that conversation because I was curious but I think I knew already which decision I was going to make. And I had a very dear, great friend tell me once: you should look at the people who want to invest in you and not know anything about you as opposed to the people who only wanted you when they saw someone else having interest. So that put things in perspective and I don’t hold any ill will towards WWE but I really think they dropped the ball majorly on that. I’ll never know why and I guess I don’t care now.
Despite this late surge in interest, WWE had previously had an option on Starks following a try out back in 2017.
During the interview with Van Vliet, Starks recounted the trial and offered his opinion on how close he felt he’d been to a contract offer from the company:
I don’t think I was close at all and I’ll never understand why. I love wrestling. I’ve never played any sports, I never did anything, I only watched wrestling. And I have immersed myself and become obsessed with it and I love it to death. So when I did the tryout in 2017 and I was told and saw the reaction when I killed it in the promo class and I was keeping up with everybody when we were doing the workouts and even Matt Bloom was saying how good of a job I did, I realized that they didn’t want a wrestler. They wanted someone who wasn’t passionate about it that they could probably make into it. And I still don’t get why and that was a time period where I kind of went crazy; I died my hair and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. So I don’t know why that happened and I thought every time that I went to WWE I was like ‘This is going to be it. This is how I get in’ and it wasn’t and that’s fine. I’m ok with that.
Now firmly established with All Elite, Starks has pieced together a 14-3 singles record (at the time of writing) and in doing so, secured a place in the company’s Top 5 rankings.
His association with Team Taz continues to be a focal point of the programming, with the recent addition of Will Hobbs having closed the 18/11 Dynamite broadcast.
Ricky Starks’ full interview with Chris Van Vliet can be viewed here.