Curt Hawkins tasted main roster success early in his WWE career. He was aligned with World Heavyweight Champion Edge and won the WWE Tag Team Titles alongside Zack Ryder before he was 24.
But after the Edgeheads broke up, Hawkins' star faded and he found himself on the outside looking in as Zack Ryder moved to the ECW brand.
"Ryder got drafted to ECW and I maybe stayed on SmackDown. I didn't have an idea. I had no clue what Curt Hawkins was going to be if he wasn't a tag wrestler," recalled Hawkins on Talk is Jericho. "I stopped getting travel and I had been around long enough to know, 'that's a sign of death.' After maybe two or three weeks, I called Johnny Ace and was like, 'I'm not gonna travel, I know what that means. I'm not gonna sit at home and get my emails ignored. I can't do anything from my couch. I'll go to FCW if you want me to. I'll work every guy you have done there and prove myself.' He goes, 'Okay, but I'm not paying you because I'm not sending you. That's your choice.' I went to FCW, unpaid for a year, and did every practice and every show to get back to the main roster."
Chris Jericho was stunned that Hawkins wasn't paid for a year. Hawkins explained that because it was his choice, he wasn't owed money.
"I was under contract, but I wasn't owed any money. I got my video game check that month and that was my full shitty downside. Johnny made it clear 'we're not sending you there. We don't think you suck and need more work, this is your choice.' I bet on myself and it paid off," he said.
After spending a year in FCW, Hawkins returned to WWE SmackDown and was aligned with Vance Archer (Lance Archer in AEW). Hawkins would continue to find himself in various tag teams until his first release in June 2014.
Elsewhere during the podcast, Hawkins revealed the origin of the Edgeheads. You can find his full comments by clicking here.
If you use any of the quotes above, please give a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.