Current WWE superstar Jaxson Ryker sat down with Drew Rice of Wrestling Inc. and discussed a variety of topics, including his relationship with former WWE and current AEW wrestler Cash Wheeler. Ryker also discussed how his friendship with Wheeler later resulted in his befriending of both Edge and William Regal, and how they helped him get into NXT.
“Cash Wheeler and I, we are really good buddies,” noted Ryker. “We have known each other since 2004. I started wrestling in the Carolinas, and he is from kind of the same area that I am from. So [Cash] and I kept in touch together, and we traveled a lot together, and worked a lot of shows together.”
Ryker says that that Cash Wheeler signed with the WWE while Ryker was in TNA. Wheeler also lived in Asheville, North Carolina, where Edge later chose to move to, and Wheeler met Edge in a gym there and became friends. Ryker says it was through Wheeler that Ryker was also able to later develop a friendship with Edge, who later connected Ryker with William Regal.
“I would always send [Edge] tapes of my TNA stuff and he would always [respond], and he still does,” admitted Ryker. “He just loves what he does, he loves to give back. He’s just a true locker room leader and a true guy who respects those who came before him and the business up ahead of us. So, I always kept in touch with him.
“When I got released from TNA, I reached out to him, and he got me [William] Regal’s email or phone number. I just started talking with Regal and I think about two months after I got released, Regal said, ‘Alright, we’ll bring you down to the Performance Center. For an intimate tryout.’ Not one of those bigger ones they do where there’s 60 or 70 people. There were only four or five of us at the tryout. So, I did a week long tryout in July of 2015, right after I got released.”
Ryker said that he apparently impressed them, because they kept in contact for two years, but that there wasn’t a spot for him there at the time. Then in early 2017 TNA called Ryker and asked him to come back, but Ryker said he just did not want to go back. So Ryker decided to try his luck with the WWE again, which resulted in him signing with them and joining NXT that same year.
“So just out of the blue I called [Cash], and he called Edge, and then we talked to Regal,” recalled Ryker. “And about probably a couple of hours after that, Regal called and said, ‘Hey, we want to offer you a job at WWE.’ So, because I mentioned TNA, maybe that was a shotgun thing that helped me out.”
At WrestleMania 37, where Edge challenged Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan for the WWE Universal Title in the main event, Ryker says he thanked Edge for helping him get a job with the WWE. Ryker says that his friendship with Edge means a lot to him, and that Edge has greatly helped his career.
“Edge has always been cool for me as far as advice, even until now,” shared Ryker. “If I text him or whatever, he is always quick to reply. I just owe him so much, man. And I told him that at WrestleMania backstage. I just gave him a hug and said, ‘Man, you never had to stick your neck out for me, but you did.’ And [Edge] said, ‘Well, you know, I believed in you. If I didn’t believe in you then I wouldn’t have done that.’ So, I found it to be pretty cool.”
After signing with the WWE, Jaxson Ryker was assigned to NXT. Ryker discussed some issues he had early on with adapting to not having a character and having to wrestle under his real name.
“I reported [to the Performance Center] and it was one of those restart moments. I wasn’t Gunner anymore; I wasn’t Phil Shatter from the indies,” remembered Ryker. “I was just Chad at the time. I was literally wrestling as my real name, Chad Lail, for, man, I guess, almost a year. So for me, mentally, that was weird. Because I went from Gunner, where it was kind of was my character. It was an intensified version of Chad Lail, who played on the Marine Corps and stuff like that. I went from that to just my real name.”
Ryker said he would get deflated when the announcer would announce his name, because it was just him without a character. He said it was a weird experience, but that he was trying to learn the WWE style and learn what they wanted. When discussing his time in NXT, Ryker also praised the coaches that they had in NXT. He says they helped him out a lot, and really taught him what the WWE wanted from their talents.
“Terry Taylor, who I have named a hundred times, Shawn Michaels, Road Dogg, Scotty 2 Hotty, Matt Bloom, Norman Smiley, who I love to death, and all the coaches down there,” recalled Ryker. “These guys were just teaching what [the WWE] wanted, and what the TV product was.”
Ryker also spoke about how he, Steve Cutler, and Wesley Blake got their start together, and eventually became the Forgotten Sons. Ryker also spoke about the process of them teaming up, and how fast-paced it was.
“[Wesley] Blake, [Steve] Cutler, and I, always hung out and were always friends, we rode to shows together,” shared Ryker. “[Blake and Cutler] had been tag teaming a little bit, and I think Steve Corino mentioned to Blake that, ‘We are maybe trying to add Chad with you guys.’ And at that time, we were starting off the name Jaxson Ryker, which I got to pitch and come up with. Which, was very cool and very rare.
“So, lo and behold, we started doing trio stuff, like six-man tags on Florida shows, just playing around here and there. Then it flourished into the Forgotten Sons. We got to come up with that name, we got to come up with our gear, and run with the Forgotten Sons gimmick. That is how it was, everything was going quick. Then obviously with NXT, [the Forgotten Sons] blew up and blew up fast. We got a live TV spot and were like, ‘Oh man, we’re live TV now, we’re not just a network show.’ So yeah, it was pretty quick for me. Because some guys sat at NXT and some guys sat in the Performance Center for five, or whatever, years. And they didn’t even get any network time.”