Tay Conti has opened up about the struggle she went through to get her release from NXT with officials apparently telling Conti specifically they didn’t want her to become All Elite.
The black-belt judoka joined WWE in 2016, making her in-ring debut for NXT the next year in the spring of 2017. Conti was a part of the first-ever Mae Young Classic tournament, losing to Lacey Evans in the first round. Wrestling under her full first name of Taynara, Conti became the first Brazilian to compete at WrestleMania when she took part in the women’s battle royal at WrestleMania 34.
Speaking to Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone on the AEW Unrestricted podcast, Tay Conti discussed trying to leave WWE when she felt opportunities for her were few and far between.
“I was asking for my release for a couple of months, I was not happy. I was so unhappy there that I didn’t have any [backup] plans, I was just like, ‘I want to get out of here. I’m not happy.’ I never thought about, ‘What am I gonna do if they give me my release? I never thought about it. I was like, ‘I just need to be done with them.'”
Conti then says that the people she spoke to specifically brought up AEW, saying that they didn’t want her to sign with the company.
For Tay Conti, that option was far from reality as she noted that she knew nobody in that company:
“Of course, they said no a couple of times. We had a bunch of meetings. I was like, ‘Nope, I’m just done. Please let me go.’ So at the last one, they told me, ‘No, you’re not going,’ and they mentioned AEW. I remember they told me, ‘No, you’re not gonna go to AEW. [We’ve invested a lot of money in you]. You are a star.’”
“I’m like, ‘Yes, you guys don’t use me here. So I’ve got to go somewhere, but it’s not there. I know nobody there. I have no plans to go to AEW.’ I had no plans because I had no contacts at all. At the end of the day, we figured it out. They said no, and I still had two years in my contract. I was like, well, [what can I do?] I’m gonna be here. They told me, ‘Okay, you can be at home. We’re going to pay you. You can be at home.’ I’m like, ‘No, because I know everybody’s going to forget about me, and I won’t be able to work.’ I was like, ‘No, it’s okay. I’m going to make it two more years.’”
Tay Conti was released from her WWE contract along with a plethora of other talents on the 15th of April 2020. Conti made her AEW debut in July 2020 initially as Anna Jay’s partner in the Deadly Draw tournament. She has since become a full-time competitor with the company and had her first AEW Women’s Title match in April. Despite losing to champion Hikaru Shida, Conti impressed many with her in-ring efforts.