Former NFL Star On Why Contract Negotiations Fell Apart With WWE

Former NFL star Shawne Merriman joined Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette to talk about both his NFL career and his recent transition into promoting MMA. In the process, Paquette also asked Merriman about his brief flirtation with WWE. The former San Diego Chargers linebacker made several sporadic appearances for WWE between 2008 and 2014, and Shawn Merriman revealed to Paquette that his WWE fandom nearly turned into something more.

"Obviously for one, growing up and being a fan of it," Merriman said, explaining his interest in potentially working with WWE. "I don't know anybody that was around my age that didn't watch WWE, just growing up in general. Every time I got home from school, I was going to watch. If I had practice, I was going to watch WWE. So just watching from that standpoint. But I started talking to Paul, Triple H, before I retired, probably in 2011. We were talking about it at an event.

"We started kind of going back and forth, at an event in LA I believe it was, and I think I came out at One Night Stand. There was a PPV I did in San Diego and I was part of the show. I got really good feedback, and then we started to keep in conversation. I told Paul 'hey I'm going to retire here, probably in the next whatever.' So the plan was to work for the NFL Network, and then train half the time and then the other half of the time spend in Orlando at the Performance Center."

So why did a Shawne Merriman/WWE deal never come to pass? According to Merriman, the two sides began negotiating on a deal, but things ultimately hit an impass over Merriman's 'Light's Out' branding. That said, Merriman hasn't dismissed of future dealings between the two sides, telling Paquette he still talks to people from WWE.

"So I left, went back to NFL Network, and now I'm trying to work out schedules and now I'm talking contract," Merriman revealed. "One of the biggest holdups I think is this whole 'Lights Out' thing. We go back to me holding 'Lights Out' and name rights. That kind of ruffles some feathers a bit too. But all in all, I think the thing that really didn't work out was they were launching the Network around that time. And there were a bunch of layoffs and there was a lot going on at the time. I think they laid off about 10% employees of all of WWE.

"It was like 'come in as Shawne Merriman and we'll figure everything else out.' I was like 'guys, I've already kind of built this name. And more importantly, you want to have this there. And I'll work with everybody. Every licensing department, everybody in every division.' I knew everybody there in the company. Everybody who was somebody, I knew them, talked to them on a daily basis. So I knew exactly what they wanted and what they needed for me to do. And I told them 'Lights Out is what you guys want. So let's figure this out first.' It just kind of fizzled out after that. I did some stuff on the Network, hosting WrestleMania and Monday Night RAW, and I believe I did Smackdown too. And I still talk to a lot of people there too, to this day. So who knows?"

One thing Merriman made sure to state was his thoughts on WWE going after proven athletes such as himself. Knowing how much WWE loves big guys with athleticism, Merriman feels it's only natural for WWE to target guys who come from a sports background.

"They love monsters, right?" Merriman said. "The company wants the big, athletic guy. They want to go after athletes. And I've always said more athletes should be doing that. My boy Mojo (Rawley) was playing ball, and you've got a couple other guys who played ball as well. It's the perfect fit. When you're looking for looks, athleticism and what you're trying to build, they should be going after more former athletes."

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