AEW's Aubrey Edwards and Tony Schiavone had Colt Cabana on the AEW Unrestricted podcast to talk about why he signed with AEW. He talked about how AEW has connected with the underground fan and how the company's ideals matches with his of doing the things that make them happy with an independent spirit.
"When Matt, Nick, Kenny, Hangman, Cody and everyone kind of started tapping into the potential of underground wrestling and the underground fan who was just sick of what was put on television for so long, and it was our only option," Cabana said. "The idea of tapping into this fan that wanted something different and something that I have believed in for so long now just because I never really thought I would get to a higher stage in my career, but I loved wrestling. I always had this crazy entrepreneurial spirit in my veins. I wanted to be a pro wrestler, and I achieved the idea of being a pro wrestler but not like a rich pro wrestler, like a real struggling artist.
"I always championed those days of the independent wrestler and the independent thought. Kind of doing the thing that makes you happy and doing the thing that makes wrestling fans happy and not under some kind of crazy structure, and I really believe that it's all molded into AEW through those guys, a lot of the EVPs and obviously Tony [Khan] giving the platform, allowing it and taking a risk and a gamble. Just this idea of let's do wrestling the way we think we should do wrestling and not the way somebody else should do wrestling."
Schiavone brought up how AEW mixes the corporate and independent worlds with talent being given freedom to do what they want but under the umbrella of TNT and other corporate entities AEW is partnered with. Cabana agrees saying that AEW plays it safe but still does "whatever's fun and cool."
"It's weird because the ideas are a lot of underground thought, but the reality is it's on Turner Broadcasting. There's a lot going behind it," Cabana noted. "A lot of people, they play it so safe, and AEW does play it safe to a degree because you have to in some manners, but when there's all this money and all this corporate stuff, you just don't want to make anybody mad. AEW seems to really still have that heart and spirit of let's just do whatever's fun and cool."
In that thought process, Cabana brought up the moment in Fyter Fest where The Best Friends were driven into their match by Trent's mother Sue Marasciulo. He noted that the idea would have been looked at as a joke in any other company, but in AEW, it was something that was put on TV.
"You talk about the idea of The Best Friends coming down in Trent's Mom's van," Cabana pointed out. "Anywhere else in the back of the locker room, everyone's going, 'that's the greatest idea ever. Let's do that.' Then it gets to a point, and it gets thrown away. You're like, 'come on for real though. What are we doing?'
"The idea in AEW not only was it like said in a locker room once, it was then brought up the chain and everyone was like the best. That's the best. I think Sue Beretta really demonstrates the ideals of AEW."
Edwards pointed out that in Cabana's in-ring AEW debut, his video package said he had known about AEW from the beginning. Cabana talked about his friendship with The Young Bucks and them telling him about the idea at All In.
"I've been really close with The Young Bucks for years now," Cabana stated. "I'm someone that they talk to. They'll ask advice. They like pulled me aside, and they were like, 'hey this thing is happening. I'm sure you don't believe it, but I think we're doing this.' That was at All In, which from All In to when it all started was pretty long, so I kept that under my hood. I'm a good secret keeper, and it was pretty exciting."
Cabana said he knew that it was going to happen unlike the many other promises and offers he has been given throughout his career. He talked about The Elite's standing in the wrestling world and the gamble AEW President Tony Khan made in them and AEW.
"For some reason, I didn't doubt it," Cabana said. "I've been wrestling now 21 years. For a long time, I've been told different things. I once was given this contract. I can't remember his name, but it was kind of funny. It was another owner of a football team that was supposed to own a team, and I got a contract for it. I got a lot of like fake offers to China and to move to Hong Kong I remember. You just know these things aren't going to happen. So many tours to Africa and Israel that just never happened, but for some reason, it just seemed and sounded legit just as they were just kind of telling me.
"It seemed about right, and it also made sense. The Bucks, Cody, Kenny and Hangman, they were the hottest thing in wrestling. I watched it at Ring of Honor when it was x amount of people. Then Being The Elite became so hot. I watched the numbers go up. I watched everything go up. I saw All In. I was going to be able to be a part of All In. For someone to realize and to understand that, it's pretty obvious, but it's just so much to have to put into in order to get that thing on a higher ground, it made sense. So I understood why Tony would take this gamble and this risk."
Cabana talked about meeting Khan when he was doing commentary for AEW Dark. He said the meetings went well, and they had connected through their similar view of pro wrestling.
"I did AEW Dark as a commentator. I was kind of courted to come in and to meet Tony," Cabana recalled. "I was wanting to be a part of the team, but I think, like any boss, you want to make sure the guy that you're hiring isn't a schmuck. I think it was just the idea of meeting each other one-on-one and saying hello and understanding each other's values. It was a nice meeting, and I think we were two like-minded people when it came to the world of professional wrestling and how great it is and how great it can be."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit AEW Unrestricted with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.