TJ Perkins' three-year run with WWE came to an end earlier this year and he spent most of that time working under 205 Live.
"We all had NXT deals. Mine was pretty big. They offered me two raises before I actually had a deal because they thought I might go somewhere else. I remember getting more than what was normal, but it was still an NXT deal," said Perkins.
Perkins said after the WrestleMania 33 in 2017 that they all switched over to main roster deals but lamented that he lost many of the things that NXT contracts covered that main roster contracts didn't cover.
"If you're on NXT and you're wrestling on the main roster, that's the best-case scenario because you're making a lot extra and getting to keep a lot of it because you don't have to handle rental cars and stuff like that," revealed Perkins before adding that WWE could have done more to help the reputation of the cruiserweights with things like merchandising.
"I did really well at the gate. I think even to this day none of the cruiserweights lucked out as much as what I got initially. I got like six shirts and two action figures and some of the guys are just getting their first shirts and figures now, which sucks. That's something that could have really helped the perception of the cruiserweights in terms of the fans if there was more stuff like that put out."
As a member of both NXT and WWE, Perkins had the opportunity to work for the creative teams on both brands. He talked about the main differences between the two.
"A lot of the [Cruiserweight Classic] guys did have to go to NXT and do like house shows and train at the PC," stated Perkins. "But I literally moved there to be told, 'No. We don't want you doing this. You're going straight to Raw.'"
As for the creative teams, Perkins said Vince McMahon is the main difference between the two.
"There's not much difference in regards to tone, but I think that only comes up because one group knows that they are gonna have to work directly with Vince on some things. And the other group knows they really aren't working with Vince on some things," said Perkins. "Other than that, they are two separate teams. So, just because you work well with one and they are familiar with you doesn't mean the other group will know anything about you."
By winning the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic, Perkins is known as the "first ever" WWE Cruiserweight Champion even though a different iteration of the belt dates back to 1991. He talked about the confusing lineage of the title.
"I think because it was a different lineage, it's kind of hard to explain without using a full sentence. So, they needed something that would fit on an index card-size writeup. It's hard to say, 'First-ever Cruiserweight Champion within the last 10 years of this generation only because we started a new title and are doing something totally different.' That's kind of hard to put on one thing, so you know what, just call him First-Ever," said Perkins.
Perkins then teased a match against Hornswoggle on the indies since he was the last person to hold the original Cruiserweight Championship in 2007.
Perkins admitted that WWE kept its performers in the dark about how the Cruiserweight Division would be handled, in part, because WWE itself wasn't really sure how it would unfold.
"I didn't really know it would a division. No one really did. I think around the last night of the tournament they were like, 'Ok. We're gonna have a bunch of you guys on Raw and include you like this…' We found out at the end of the tournament – almost at the same time as everybody else," stated Perkins.
"A little confusing but that's kind of the way they do business in terms of communication. They are vague and don't like to promise stuff because things are always changing. I can understand being in their shows because don't communicate something that sounds a certain way, because if it turns out to change, you don't wanna be left holding that bag.
"This is a perfect example of one of those cases where it was an ever-changing thing. So, it would have been a huge disappointment if it was communicated a certain way to us."
TJ's full interview with Wrestling Inc was included in a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it TJ discusses making more money on the indies that with WWE, why it didn't work out for him at WWE, frustrated Superstars taking to social media, working with Vince McMahon, the launch of AEW, his future plans and more.
You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.