Ricky Starks Explains Why He Didn't Re-Sign With NWA, Talks Signing With AEW

Everyone has to start somewhere before they make it big, and for AEW's Ricky Starks, that start came in the NWA. The former AEW World Tag Team Champion began working for Billy Corgan's promotion in 2018, going on to win the NWA World Television Champion in early 2020 before departing later that year, paving the way for his eventual AEW debut. In an interview with "Hold the Mayo," Starks detailed why he decided to leave the NWA, even though the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing at the time, and how he managed to get connected with AEW soon after.


"I didn't re-sign [with NWA] because I felt like I had hit my ceiling already," Starks said. "I quit, basically, right when COVID happened. So I had no paycheck. So I was making all my money online from my t-shirts on my website. I had did this video. I make these different vignettes, these videos...a promotional package for myself. I direct all of them, I pay for all of them, I produce all of them.

"And I had posted it online. I posted it online, and Cody [Rhodes] had replied to it like 'Oh, this is cool.' That was...that may have been in May or something like that. The end of May comes around, I get an email from him saying 'Hey, we want you to come in and do this Open Challenge for the TNT Title.' I said 'Okay. I'm just cooped up in my house right now. I'll do it.'" 


Ricky Starks When Tony Khan Offered Him An AEW Contract

Though Starks had already had already known Rhodes and other AEW personnel through the independent scene, and from visiting an "AEW Dynamite" taping in Texas back in February 2020, he still wasn't expecting much when he arrived in Jacksonville to face Rhodes for the TNT Championship in June. Starks received a pre-match video package and praise from many backstage for his performance, but revealed it still took a few days before he became "All Elite."


"So I have the match," Starks said. "And then I walk to the back, and people were just like 'That was good. Good job. Blah blah blah. Good job.' But I didn't hear anything about if I had a job or not. People were just like 'Man, you may have a job. You did really good.' So I go home, and then the night that it airs, the match itself, I get a text from Tony like 'I'd like to offer you this deal...I'd like to offer you a contract.'

"The reason this whole thing is crazy is because one, I didn't think I was going to get signed during a pandemic. I thought afterwards they would've came back to me and said 'Hey, we want to bring you on.' No, they signed me right then and there. And not only that, it is...I don't even know another instance of somebody who had...I had a tryout/debut match basically on live TV. And got signed off of it. Like, who else?"


If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit "Hold The Mayo" and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription