Between shepherding the Blackpool Combat Club in AEW and starting a brand new podcast next week, William Regal is a busy man. And in his remaining free time, he’s also been telling people some of the talents he wanted to bring into NXT when he was still under the WWE umbrella.
On Thursday evening, Alex McCarthy of TalkSport revealed on Twitter that he had recently spoken to Regal, who gave McCarthy some interesting information.
“William Regal told me he was planning to sign Daniel Garcia, Ricky Starks, and Wheeler Yuta to NXT before WWE ‘changed directive,'” McCarthy tweeted.
William Regal told me he was planning to sign Daniel Garcia, Ricky Starks and Wheeler Yuta to NXT before WWE “changed directive”.
— Alex McCarthy (@AlexM_talkSPORT) May 26, 2022
In some ways, this isn’t breaking news — both Garcia and Yuta were reportedly on WWE’s radar last year. Garcia, in particular, impressed WWE enough in a match against Tyler Rust on WWE NXT that the promotion would trademark the name “Dante Rios” for Garcia, with the intent of signing him full -time.
Instead, Garcia would ultimately sign with AEW in the fall of 2021 and has gone on to become a member of the Jericho Appreciation Society alongside Chris Jericho, 2.0, and Jake Hager. He and his JAS teammates will take on Bryan Danielson, Eddie Kingston, Jon Moxley, Ortiz, and Santana this Sunday at AEW Double or Nothing in the first-ever Anarchy in the Arena match.
Yuta, meanwhile, would never be contacted by WWE again after a tryout in the spring of 2021, and would join AEW soon after as a member of the Best Friends stable. He has since shifted his allegiance to Regal’s Blackpool Combat Club after a memorable “AEW Rampage” match against fellow BCC member Jon Moxley, and is also wrestling in New Japan’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
After Yuta began appearing in AEW, Fightful reported that NXT passing on Yuta was seen as a sign that things were about to change for the black-and-gold brand. That and other signs would prove true when NXT was rebranded to NXT 2.0 that fall, returning the promotion to its roots as a developmental brand rather than a gathering of independent stars. Regal, along with several other NXT higher-ups, would be released from WWE in January of 2022, paving the way for Regal to join AEW at AEW Revolution in March.
As for Starks, the FTW Champion and Team Taz member joined AEW in June of 2020 after he challenged Cody Rhodes for the AEW TNT Championship. This could indicate Regal has either confused Starks for someone else he meant to sign in 2021, or that plans to change NXT were already in motion a year earlier — Starks would later reveal WWE contacted him after his match with Rhodes, though he ultimately chose to sign with AEW.
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