Indie wrestling veteran Joey Ryan was a guest on the most recent installment of Chris Jericho's Talk Is Jericho podcast. Ryan took some quality time during the interview to recap his first experience when auditioning for WWE, mentioning how TNA / Impact was struggling with finances at the time he departed.
"I guess the closest I ever came [to signing with WWE] was when I got let go from TNA/Impact," Ryan explained. "TNA let me go because I was told it was budget cuts. They were filming in Orlando, Florida every week and Eric Bischoff decided that they wanted to take the show on the road, and run different arenas, and they weren't drawing well at all, and just bleeding money. At that time they didn't resign RVD, they didn't resign Matt Morgan, and they let a bunch of us and Taeler Hendrix, Christian York go because they were bleeding money, and I mean till this day, I am always like, so, TNA wasn't doing great. And Sting is an amazing guy and so cool, and gave me input when he didn't have to. So I love Sting, but when you think about how much they were paying him to not draw."
"They let me go and now it almost transitioned to WWE. I was let go in July of 2013. That month, I was invited to be an extra in WWE," Ryan said. "William Regal and Road Dogg liked me and Regal had someone call me and said that we have a tryout in August because, at this point in 2013, everyone is going to the Performance Center for tryouts. We have a tryout in August or December but Mr. Regal would want you to go to the August one. I was like, 'Okay, sign me up for the August one.' I thought they were wanting to put me on a fast track to sign me but I go and do the tryout and for whatever reason, Bill DeMott doesn't like me at this tryout and he put a halt on me to get signed."
DeMott and WWE's rejection hit Ryan rather hard emotionally. An episode of depression and considering hanging up his wrestling boots for good would only come to an end when a fellow PWG wrestler and eventual NXT referee, Drake Younger, invited him to participate in a match that ultimately reminded him why he loved pro wrestling in the first place.
"It got me pretty depressed and wanting to quit wrestling," Ryan admitted. "I was so close and here was my opportunity; William Regal likes me, Road Dogg likes me, but then Bill DeMott doesn't. It's kind of like the same situation as to why The Young Bucks didn't get signed, because Booker T didn't like them. So it was something similar to that. That kind of got me down a little bit. I really almost quit wrestling after that. I did my tryout, I left, I knew Bill DeMott didn't like me. I did a PWG show with Drake Younger [the NXT Referee]. He was so energetic and was telling me he had these ideas about pulling out these Legos and we're going to treat them like they're thumbtacks, but we were just having fun. It was a really fun match so I thought, 'Okay, if my goal is no longer WWE, if that deal is off the table, then I am just going to wrestle for me, and have fun with it, and be more open to ideas, and not worry whether or not WWE is watching. Or if there is any reactions to it, I'm just going to wrestle for me and have fun."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.