2020 was a wild time for everyone, but Dominic Garrini had the good fortune of signing a contract just ahead of all the terrible world events going down.
Speaking with Fightful, Garrini opened up about signing with MLW, as well as the extended amount of time that he had off during that period.
"It’s nice to have the guarantee, for sure. One of the big things that is nice about MLW is that, you know, Court Bauer reached out to me weekly during the pandemic. Not only to see how wrestling was, but how my personal life was, you know? I carry a day job while I wrestle because as awesome as MLW is, we’re not quite there to where it’s something where I can support myself. I went through six years of college, so I have a lot of student loan debt to pay off. But, I have a good day job. During the pandemic, my day job shut down for almost two months. Court would check in with me weekly just to see how I was doing, to see what I was doing, just to kinda talk, and we’d talk about all kinds of stuff. Whether it’d be just life or we would bring up old wrestling stuff to talk about. But, Court’s always had a really big interest in me since I signed," Garrini said. "That’s one of the things that really sets Court apart. I truly believe Court cares about almost the entire roster to the point of reaching out to us and talking to us and getting our opinions on things.
Garrini is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, knwon for sometimes wearing a gi when he competes. He used that as an example of some of the back and forth they had and how receptive MLW has been to his ideas.
For an example, one of the things was—Court, when I first started, was really big into my wearing the gi. He thought it set me off as different. Which is funny, because it was something Gabe and I talked about originally. I did not like the idea of it in EVOLVE because it was just too bulky for me. So, I agreed to start with it in MLW and we had some ideas of where we would go with some storylines on it. In the pandemic, I wasn’t a big fan of wearing the gi as well, if I was gonna team with Kevin I really wanted to look as part of a tag team. So, we pitched at the tapings for me to go into the gear that I’d gotten. Court was very receptive to that and that speaks volumes to him, you know? He had a vision for me and he was okay with letting me be comfortable in my skin and doing what I wanted to do. So, there’s that. To have somebody that’s so willing to work with me on that, that’s one of the big things," he said.
As it turns out, MLW got some help from an AEW employee in landing Garrini, when he had a few options in front of him.
"True story, one of the people have told me to sign with MLW, in September of 2019 was BJ Whitmer, who works for AEW. I have been very close with BJ since the start of my career, through AIW, and I had reached out to him, to weigh my options, he told me to go ahead and take the MLW deal and see where my career lies in three years at the end of the MLW deal. So, I respect BJ’s opinion as he’s been a guy who’s been around a little bit of everything—ROH, AEW now, he’s kind of done everything. BJ has always looked out for me. I remember when AEW was in town last February, we were in Cleveland last February right before the pandemic hit. He had gotten some seats for [Thorne] and they were, like, second row and [Thorne] had wanted to give me one, but BJ said, ‘No, you know what? I’d rather not put Dominic in a bad situation of him getting seen on TV.’ So, it ended up being I got a whole different set of seats that I couldn’t be seen. But, that’s just a good guy looking out for me so I didn’t get in trouble with my employer."
As far as MLW goes, it's usually Court Bauer or MSL making contact to bring someone in. In this case, it was MSL who reached out and made the deal happen.
"So, it was a little bit of me and MSL kinda touching base. MSL and me, at first, met back in—I want to say December of 2016—he was doing commentary for American Combat Wrestling in New Port Richey, Florida. I wrestled in a mall food court for them. He kind of seen and took a liking to me then and then the MLW stuff happened. MLW was always a peripheral thing for me. Obviously the original Team Filthy stuff caught my attention. I’ve been friends with Tom since he came to pro wrestling. I was pretty good friends with MJF at the time and he really thought that I’d be a good fit for MLW back when they first restarted," Garrini stated. "There wasn’t a lot of back and forth at first mainly because of my EVOLVE deal. Then, after EVOLVE had been done and I’d seen what they were doing, I wasn’t sure if I’d fit their vision, I had reached out to MLW. Then MSL was really my point man from day one on that. He kinda referenced, ‘Man, I’ve been watching you in all of your EVOLVE stuff and I’ve always thought about how good of a fit you’d be, but I wasn’t sure if there’d be mutual interest there.’ So, we kind of talked and then we did some negotiation and it kind of all went from there."
In the time since Garrini signed, the process of signing with a wrestling company has changed big time, just because of the nature of the world and the pandemic. That isn't lost on Garrini, who looks at some new WWE names, and how they emerged.
"Clearly, the signing cycle has been completely different than anything anyone could have imagined it to be. The pandemic stuff kind of put the signing cycle into hyper-drive. Two years ago, you didn’t know who Blake Christian or Alex Zayne or some of these guys even were and these guys now are WWE guys. Who knew who Ben Carter was at the end of 2019 besides Dylan Hales] Very few people did and now he was one of the hottest free agents this year, and him getting [to NXT:UK] was one of the bigger storylines post-pandemic. So, the signing cycle has been screwed. You could be one of those guys that says, ‘Man, if I didn’t sign, maybe I’d be signed.’ But, you can’t play that kind of game. MLW is willing to take a chance on me in September of 2019."
You can see MLW's Filthy Island on Wednesday, February 17, 2020 on Youtube, beINSports, DAZN, and several other platforms. Our full interview with Garrini is at the top of the page.