Daniel Garcia and his beloved Kangol hat may now be living the life in AEW as a member of Chris Jericho’s Jericho Appreciation Society. But how many know that Garcia was close to taking a different course with his career early in 2021, when he was receiving interest from WWE?
In an appearance on Talk Is Jericho, Garcia detailed just how close he got to joining AEW’s rival promotion.
“I did one loop of Dark in September of 2020, and then I had my tryout (with WWE) in January of 2021,” Garcia said. “(I did) so many burpees to show that I’m a good wrestler. I did the camp and honestly, I crushed it. The promo was phenomenal, or I thought it was at the time. Looking back on it, it probably wasn’t, but at the time I liked it. I had a really good practice match. It was only me, one other indie guy, and then a bunch of football players. I thought I did really well.
“They asked me to stay an extra day to have a squash match on NXT against Tyler Rust. The match went really well. I remember I went to the back and Shawn Michaels loved it, Road Dogg loved it, and A-Train loved it. Triple H shook my hand and said ‘Welcome to the team.’ I think he thought I was signed, but I wasn’t at the time. But in my mind, I was like ‘Oh, I guess I’m going to NXT. Mom, I’m moving to Orlando!'”
It should be noted that WWE’s interest in Garcia appeared to be legit, as they trademarked a name for the young wrestler shortly after his NXT match. According to Garcia however, things quickly came to a screeching halt.
“I talked to Canyon Cemen right before I left,” Garcia said. “He said ‘Hey. Let me know if any other place has interest because we’ll sign you sooner.’ And in my mind, I’m like ‘That’s disrespectful to me. If you want to sign me, just sign me.’ Then I remember I was like ‘Okay, he wants to play that? I’ll play it back to him.’
“At the time I had interest from Ring of Honor, and I knew AEW wanted to bring me back in for extra work. But I was like ‘I’m going to make this seem bigger than it actually is.’ So I said to him ‘Well with that being said, I’ll talk to you very soon.’ And I think he kind of got hot at me for that. I think it shook him up a bit.”
“They emailed me a couple of weeks later, kind of saying ‘We’re going to stay in contact, blah blah blah,'” Garcia said. “That kind of made me mad. So I went on a crazy indie run and I signed with AEW.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription
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