AEW’s Ricky Starks joined Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette to talk about his wrestling career. Prior to joining AEW, Starks worked as an extra for WWE for years. He described his experiences, starting with a match he had with Ryback years ago where The Big Guy didn’t go easy on him.

“So that took place in Laredo at the Energy Center,” Starks recalled. “I got slapped in the face three times. He (Ryback) never told me he was going to slap me, so when you see me, like, tense up, that’s me being legit. Cause initially I was trying to cry. And Michael Hayes came to me and said ‘you ain’t gonna cry like that in a real fight, would ya?!’ I said ‘hell no, you’re right.’

“I really enjoyed it. They paid for my shirt that he ripped up. I remember walking to the back and Miz and Punk were like ‘oh good job on that whole segment, ect.’ That was the end of it. It was really nice of them, I really enjoyed it.”

Starks would later be approached by WWE, but only after his Dynamite debut against Cody for the TNT Championship. He recalls his time as an extra fondly, but realized at one point he had hit a ceiling there and needed to move on.

“When I was brand new into the business and getting the call I was like ‘oh, this is how I get hired,'” Starks said. “And it’s a great feeling. Honestly that’s how I learned the most. I sat up on RAW days, I sat up on the bleachers, with Regal, while they’re testing the music and he’d tell me these stories and I’d ask questions. And I’m a very observant person, so sometimes I just sit back and I just watch. I watch everything.

“It was great, it was an awesome time. But I think, at a certain point, I got tired of it, because I felt like there was a ceiling that I just kept hitting every time I came. It’s like ‘well if y’all didn’t care for me after the seventeenth time, how is the thirtieth time going to be any different?'”

Paquette then asked what Starks’ goals were in wrestling. The former NWA Television Champion, who is now out for three months with a neck injury, said he wants to be the wrestler he wished he had when he was growing up, as well as being the guy that makes pro wrestling cool again.

“My goal is to essentially be the wrestler that I wish I had when I was younger,” Starks said. “I don’t really think there’s someone that looks like me on TV. I don’t think there’s anyone that can represent a multi-racial guy, from New Orleans, who literally just came out of obscurity in a sense. So I want to be that, because that’s what I wish I had when I was younger. I want to be the person that takes wrestling out of this bubble. Because wrestling’s all cyclical and I feel we are on that turnabout where we’re going to hit a peak.

“And I really want to be the person to lead the charge of it being popular and not being so corny. I want to be responsible for that. I want to be responsible for the emotional part of you watching. I feel like we’re kind of desensitized when we watch wrestling nowadays. Guy does this, guy does that, you go ‘okay.’ But I want to bring that emotional part to it. So I want to be that guy. I want to make the company (AEW) a lot of money. I want to have that lasting legacy that people can look back, especially my family and my kids, and go ‘damn, he did a lot. Even the small things.’ And then go off and go do movies and rest up my body. I’m all about ‘be like water’, you know what I’m saying?”

If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription