Ace Austin has become one of the top stars in IMPACT Wrestling since making his debut for the promotion in March 2019. At only 23, Austin has already held in the X-Division Championship and challenged for the IMPACT World Championship.
Before joining IMPACT, Austin wrestled across multiple Independent promotions and was used as an enhancement talent on WWE 205 Live in 2018.
Appearing on Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore podcast, Austin recalled being backstage at a WWE event and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible.
"I was living in the midwest and I got a call from one of the guys in Florida that trained with Afa. He goes, 'Hey, WWE is coming to the midwest and I'm doing extra work. Afa wants to know if you're interested in doing extra work, he will set it up.' You can't say no to something like that, it didn't matter what I had on my schedule. The first night on Raw, we just did the No Way Jose conga line. I just never stopped pacing (backstage) in WWE. I would go from one end to the other end, and anyone I ran into, I would try to have an interaction with and be at the right place at the right time. Before the show, [Drew] Gulak was there and he trained me a little before he got signed, so that was a good connection. He introduced me to a bunch of people and I stayed by the ring and saw Dean Malenko going over a finish with Mojo Rawley, and they asked me to take a bump for it to see how it looked. Triple H took a video of it on his phone. Other than those bumps, I didn't do much else," he said.
Austin continued, recalling his tryout match with WWE the following day and the feedback he received on the bout. Austin said, "On Tuesday, Nick Nero and I were driving there and we ended up putting something together where we would fake an injury during a tryout match. It ended up working out really well. The tryout matches, it's just guys sitting around and half paying attention. We do this match, it's going well, I hit this big fancy kick, and I 'tweak my wrist.' It gets quiet. Now, everyone is paying attention. When he works my wrist out of it, everyone buys into it. They gave us great feedback after and Scott Armstrong said, 'come see me after the tryout.' They said they were going to use us for the 205 Live spot."
Austin, working under the name Ryan DePolo, teamed with Chris Robinson to take on The Lucha House Party (Kalisto & Lince Dorado) on 205 Live. He said Scott Armstrong and John Cone gave him feedback that boosted his confidence before the match.
Speaking about the match, Austin said, "Things changed on us all night about the match. That's what Kalisto told me off the bat, 'things are just going to change constantly tonight, so whatever we put together isn't going to be what we do. Just be aware.' Throughout the night things changed, right before we went out things changed, and even in the ring things changed. It went great and I think I did a very good job with what I was given. The feedback I got from that was even better. I got emails from Scott Armstrong and [William] Regal after. It could not have gone better, but that wasn't the avenue I wanted to go in 2018. I felt like I was too young to go down that road."
Austin said he was happy over his decision, knowing the door to WWE wouldn't be closed.
Elsewhere during the podcast, Tommy Dreamer revealed to Austin that IMPACT had plans to put the World Title on him on two different occasions, but plans changed. You can find Dreamer's full comments by clicking here.
Austin is set to compete in the IMPACT Super X-Cup on Saturday at IMPACT Genesis.
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