Colt Cabana's persistence got him out of a 90-Day Non-Compete Clause with WWE.
The current AEW and Dark Order member recently spoke with Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp (full interview above) about a variety of topics including his time with WWE from 2007-2009. After spending the majority of those two years in their developmental territory, Cabana debuted on SmackDown in August 2008 as Scotty Goldman. His run, however, would come to an end just a few months later in February 2009.
Upon his release, Cabana was told he was allowed to work independent shows but had to clear them through WWE's Talent Relations Department.
"Yeah, so when I was there and I got fired, a lot of people know this, when I got fired, my big promo was, ‘Got fired on a Thursday, PWG on a Friday,’" Cabana began. "So, I remember getting the phone call. I was in a Chipotle with Trent and Tyson Kidd. I guess it would be Ty Bailey at that point. Who’s the guy now? Canyon Ceman. So, it was Ty Bailey at that point, and Ty Bailey is giving me this big speech, blah-blah-blah, ‘Creative has nothing for you.’ Which obviously I then went to make a web series called that. My first question was, ‘Well, can I do indies?’ He’s like, ‘Yes. You can do indies, but you have to clear them through me. I’ll let you do anything, you just can’t do TV or anything on pay-per-view.’ I was like, ‘But, I can do like regular independent shows?’ He said, ‘Yes, but you have to clear it through me.’"
Having to get dates cleared didn't make much sense to Cabana, though, knowing that the company usually operates.
"I was so perplexed by this because I know how that company works. Once they’re done with you, they just don’t want to ever talk to you," Cabana explained. "But, here’s an invitation, him telling me, ‘You have to talk to me to do this.’ So, that night I got on the phone with Super Dragon and we worked out a deal for PWG. So, that night I’m texting him and emailing him, I’m bombarding him ‘cause I’m not hearing back. I just don’t hear from him. I gave him maybe six / seven messages being like, ‘I need to know, can I go? You told me I had to clear this through you.’"
Cabana didn't receive his belongings in a trash bag after his WWE exit and even jokes that he's not sure Scotty Goldman had enough in the locker room. Here is what he said:
"I don’t know if they were doing that at that point and also I don’t know if Goldman had much in the locker room department."
After not hearing back from WWE after several emails, Cabana went and performed for PWG anyways. As bookings started to pile up, Colt started bombarding Bailey with messages to the point that upper management offered to buy him out just so that he would stop filling up their inbox.
"So, he didn’t answer. I went and did the show anyway, hoping I wouldn’t get heat. So, the next weekend the bookings start piling up and I start emailing him, ‘Hey, can I clear this, this and this?’ He gets back to me, but I can tell he’s really annoyed. I loved that he was annoyed, right? So then I’m e-mailing him more dates, ‘Hey, I want this, I want this.’ I’m texting promoters like, ‘Hey, can you say that, ‘Hey, I want you to be on my show,’ just so I can text this guy?’ It gets to the point where I’m emailing him every day, different promoters. He’s so upset, but he knows that’s the protocol. So, he reaches out to me finally after like two weeks and is like, ‘Hey, upper management has made a decision,’ we would like to buy out your 90 days. He sent me a lump check. He’s like ‘Please, just leave us alone. You don’t need to clear anything. Here’s your money. Here’s a lump check. You don’t need to clear anything else through me,'" Cabana shared.
It was because of this that Cabana was able to perform for Ring of Honor and be Bryan Danielson's secret partner. He even recalls his legs shaking during the match after hearing the crowd cheer him. He says it meant so much to know that the true wrestling fans loved him.
"That’s how I ended up, there was a Hammerstein Ballroom pic of me being the secret partner of Bryan Danielson versus Jimmy Rave and his secret partner was Bison Smith," Cabana explained. "Rest in peace, one of the greatest. Please Google and YouTube Bison Smith. He was so awesome. Especially his matches versus Kobayashi in NOAH that’s in front of like 6,000 people that no one in America knows about, but you should. It was important that I kept on putting, ‘I can’t do Ring of Honor because of the 90 days,’ but my 90 days had been bought out. So, I was able to do that show as the surprise. There’s a clip I put up on YouTube, the Hammerstein Ballroom goes just berserk at my entrance. I get up to the second rope, my legs are shaking because I’m so excited. I can’t believe this welcome I’ve got from this crowd and also, it’s just very justifying and meant a lot because WWE just said, ‘You’re a failure.’ But, the true wrestling fans were like, ‘We love you so much.’ That meant so much, but that was all possible because they bought out my 90 days."
Cabana would go onto clarify that the lump sum he was offered was the same amount as what he would have been paid had WWE kept him on the books for the entire three months.
"No, it was the same," he revealed.
He concluded by saying that WWE was "So annoyed by me," and that get knew what he was going to do as soon as they told him to keep in touch. He added this:
"When he was like, ‘You have to keep in touch with me,’ when I know they just want to get rid of people and don’t ever want to talk to people ever again. I was so happy with what I knew I was going to go start doing to him."
WWE has released 86 on-screen performers and wrestlers since the beginning of the pandemic. Another nine have left on their own. The most recent round of budget cuts included the likes of Tyler Breeze, Fandango, and Tony Nese, among others. You can learn more about all the recent releases by clicking here.
Cabana, who has won 4 of his last 5 singles and tag team matches, can be seen on AEW programming every week as part of the Dark Order.