Austin Aries says he is setting the record straight again on the ending of his WWE run.
In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Aries took some time to talk about his time in WWE and the aftermath of a rivalry with Neville (now known as PAC) for the WWE Cruiserweight title. The two went to battle for the title multiple times, including at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules back in 2017. Once Aries lost a submission match against Neville at Extreme Rules that year, he was absent from WWE television as he requested a little bit of time off to nurse a neck injury.
But one thing that he wanted to make abundantly clear was that he did not request his release from the company and that it was WWE who made that decision.
“I didn’t ask for my release. I finished the Neville program and I’d been dealing with a couple of herniated discs in my neck. That [WWE] schedule is no joke. Going through the travel, I started to have some neck issues. I don’t think it was one bump, but I think maybe an accumulation of a couple of small things that kept getting worse. I was getting some cortisone shots, trying to manage through it. Coming out of that program, I started talking to the doctors because I was starting to have some sensation loss in my hand, some numbness. The issues were kind of getting worse," Aries said.
Fightful had been told in 2017 that Aries made it known by his actions backstage that he wasn't happy with his role with the company, and some higher ups took that as him wanting out.
Aries' final days in WWE started with a phone call from a doctor telling him to go to the WWE Performance Center to start rehabbing his neck injury and was under the impression that he would be healing up and getting a month-long break. Roughly 48 hours later, Aries got the call from Triple H informing him that he was released, per Vince McMahon.
“On a Wednesday, I get a call from the doctor and he said, ‘We’re moving you to non-contact and give you at least a month to recover. So go to the PC and start rehabbing.’ So Thursday, I went to the PC and I was actually kind of relieved. It’s nice to be able to get a break and make some money and heal up and work on some things. Then on Friday, I get a call from Hunter and just told me that I’m being released. He said he was really shocked, shocked as I was and that it was per Vince and they didn’t have anything for me. I asked him some questions and whether or not it was because of some contract things. I was surprised. I didn’t have any issues with anyone,” Aries said.
The only thing Aries could think of that might have helped shape the decision to release him was a comment he made about how he no longer had any value as a babyface cruiserweight on 205 Live following the Neville program. Aries said he told WWE he would be happy to have performed any other role, whether it would be returning to commentary, helping some of the younger wrestlers at 205 Live, going back to NXT or even be in a tag team with someone else.
As far as what he thought his role for WWE was going to be if he had been able to return from injury, Aries believed he was going to be a heel and help out those younger talent on 205 Live.
"That's where I thought I was going to do, that would have been great. That's what I needed to do. A lot of young guys didn't have TV time. I'm not going to do this for another 20 years. You need a guy that's a veteran who has had some experience that could help some of these guys," Aries said.
Following his time on WWE, Aries went on to work with a number of independent promotions and returned to IMPACT before eventually signing with Major League Wrestling. The full interview can be seen in the video at the top of the page.
If you use any of the quotes above, please give a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.