AEW wrestler Colt Cabana recently sat down for an interview with Chris Van Vliet. Throughout the interview Cabana discussed his time with the WWE and when he felt like things weren’t working with him and the WWE.
“Oh, the first day,” joked Cabana. “It wasn’t not working. I always knew I [wasn’t] a bigger and larger than life guy. I didn’t look like Ricky Ortiz, who was [in Ohio Valley Wrestling], I didn’t have Dolph Ziggler’s body, I didn’t look like Jake Hager. These were all people who were there with me in OVW. I didn’t look like Drew McIntyre. I always knew I had to sneak in as a bit player.”
Cabana, who has also discussed his current role in AEW, identified Santino Marella as the type of role he envisioned himself playing on the WWE main roster.
“I always saw [myself in] the Santino Marella role, and I’m not saying as Santino,” clarified Cabana. “But the story of Santino is that they were going to Italy and needed someone Italian. ‘Oh, Santino, can you speak Italian?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ Boom, he’s on the show. . . So, what was I hoping for? That they were going to tour Israel, maybe they got an Israel TV deal and they needed a Jewish wrestler, maybe they needed a funny sidekick.”
During the interview Cabana opened up more about his time in OVW. Cabana talked about how over he was with the crowd due to him having wrestled there while on the independent circuit. Cabana said that even though he was over in OVW, it didn’t mean anything unless he was on the main roster.
“I [thought], ‘I’ll be in the system, I’ll be really good, I know I can get over in Louisville,’” reflected Cabana. “I had wrestled [in Louisville] for years in IWA. So, when I started in OVW the crowd knew who I was, so I was over right away. Me and Shawn Spears were the two times Tag Team Champions, I was a Television Champion. In that little system, I was over and I was good to go. But that doesn’t mean anything in the big-time system.”
Cabana also revealed the different pitches he made to creative, including a pitch for him to be General Manager of Sunday Night Heat. Cabana then talked about how the rejection for that idea resulted in him coming up with an even more absurd one.
“I had pitched ideas to be the General Manager of Sunday Night Heat, which at that point was taken off TV and was just on WWE.com,” recalled Cabana. “I thought that was a funny idea. I was trying to weasel my way in, somehow. I didn’t expect to be called up to wrestle John Cena. There is a story I tell where Dave Lagana goes, ‘Pitch me an idea.’ And I was like, ‘I want to be the Sunday Night Heat General Manager.’ He goes, ‘That’s what you’re pitching? You [have] go to think bigger than that.’
“And I was like, ‘Okay.’ So, the next week I wrote, ‘Here’s my pitch. I debut at WrestleMania; I beat John Cena. The Undertaker comes down, I piledrive him. I take both belts. I’m the champion. You send me to Letterman.’ And then [Lagana] was like, ‘Okay, I see what you’re saying.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I [have] got to sneak in the backdoor here buddy, that’s how this works.’”
During the podcast, Cabana also discussed taking a 50% pay cut when he left the indies and signed with the WWE. Cabana also recalled a friend telling him that if he signed with the WWE that he would at least have the potential to establish a career. In the past Cabana has also discussed who was responsible for him signing with the WWE.
“That’s just what it was,” shrugged Cabana. “I remember my friend. . . who was in the same boat as me, maybe a year-and-a-half before, and he [said], “This is the sacrifice you have to make, because the potential is there. And the potential isn’t there on the indies.’ And what’s funny is, years later, when I came back and I started my own thing, it got to the point in the 2012 or 2013, or whatever, where I was making more money than some of the lower card, or even mid-card WWE guys. Which, was not a thing, I don’t think it ever was a thing. It’s crazy that I can sit there and say that.
“At that point in 2007 [and] 2006, there was a ceiling to independent wrestling and independent wrestling money, for most people. So, I took it and invested in myself. And I said, ‘If I’m going to become a millionaire. . . I guess WWE is the only way I can do it. So, I’ll dive in, move to Louisville, and let’s give it a shot.’”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.