Newly signed AEW star Tony Nese recently spoke with Chris Van Vliet about his time with WWE prior to debuting with All Elite Wrestling. He recalled a fond memory of opening WrestleMania 35 and being congratulated by Vince McMahon for a strong WrestleMania kick-off.

“Not necessarily. There were times where it would cross my mind of well it’s the kick-off show, but it is what it is. To WWE’s credit, they did very well in treating me and Murphy like we were on the main show as well,” Nese said. “That whole week, I felt like I was a part of WWE and not on some sideshow. That was really cool. After the match, Vince was in Gorilla. He stood up and said, ‘That’s how you start WrestleMania.’ I don’t care what people say, that’s cool.”

Nese was released from WWE in June 2021 as part of another wave of releases from the company. These have become somewhat of a trend since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I had one year left on my contract, but I knew [I was getting released]. As soon as they moved us to be a part of the NXT roster, me and Ariya Daivari were like, ‘It’s just a matter of time.’ We got these new contracts for the RAW roster,” he explained. “It’s a normal contract, but to the NXT roster, it’s like a ‘whoa’ contract. We were on the least cared about show in WWE history, and they just kept releasing and releasing. So we knew when it was time to look at NXT, we were going out the door.”

When Nese was still wrestling on the independent circuits and simultaneously working as a personal trainer, there was a period where he almost left the squared circle. It was his wife that encouraged him to hold on to his dream and continue pursuing WWE.

“Absolutely. The way it goes is the year before my try-out, that was my lowest point. I was working the same companies over and over, then do it again next month. Nothing was happening with WWE, so I started getting frustrated,” Tony noted. “I started talking with my wife and said this will be my last 2 to 3 years. It looked like I was going to be a personal trainer for the rest of my life, but my wife said, ‘I would rather live in a cardboard box than have you give up on your dream.’

“That was when I decided I would be with this girl for the rest of my life, but also, it sparked me. I did one more push, this time with a whole new attitude. I reached out and got a spot as an extra in Buffalo in October. Scott Armstrong watched my try-out matches and said, ‘If it was up to me, I would send you to Florida tomorrow. But it’s not up to me…’ I said, ‘Can I tell people you said that?’ He said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’ I hit up everyone and said that to them, that’s when they emailed me back and said could I do a try-out in January. It all just turned around from there.”

counter