Ricky Starks' TNT Title match with Cody Rhodes got him signed, but not as quickly as many think.
Starks was fresh off of an NWA run as TV Champion, and left the company to pursue other interests in wrestling. This led to him taking up Cody for one of his open challenges in June. The common belief was that backstage after the match, he got signed. That wasn't the case, as Ricky Starks told Fightful in an exclusive interview.
"I wasn't signed on the spot. I thought this was going to be a one-off thing. I went in there and really thought that. There were no talks of anything after that match. I had this match and thought it was good, Cody enjoyed it. There were no talks of contracts or anything like that. I go back home and the following week it aired Wednesday. That's when Tony called me and we started talking and he offered a contract after the match aired," Starks said.
The fact that he was able to leave one job and find another in the middle of a pandemic was a fortunate situation. This wasn't lost on him, or longtime veterans of the business.
"Arn Anderson had mentioned to me that it's very rare this situation happens. A guy comes in off a one-off match, does it and gets signed off of that. When he told me that, it really put things in perspective for me. That love should go to AEW and Tony. Even AEW Dark. These people aren't under contracts and they're still wrestling and getting a paycheck during this period. That's forgotten by some people. This man is providing for people and at the beginning of March, people didn't know how they were going to make money. It's not something you can plan. It happened so fast," Starks noted to us.
Starks was quickly placed with Taz and Brian Cage to form a new group, leading to a feud with Darby Allin. A highlight of the feud came when Starks appeared with skateboard in hand, dressed as Darby, only better.
"I brought it up to Tony (Khan). I thought it'd be funny. Naturally, I make fun of people. I find it funny to make fun of other people and mock them. I took it to Tony and there wasn't much of a response to it in the sense of yes or no, just that it was pretty funny. A few weeks later he came up to me and we did it. I cut up my own shirt and jeans, did the face paint and all that. All the tattoos I had on. I feel like I was a sexier, better version of Darby Allin. Somebody steals your image and they look better than you? That's so offensive and you have to really evaluate your life after that," said Ricky.
You can see the full interview with Starks above, where he discusses the AEW Double or Nothing Casino Battle Royale, and much more. He'll be on this weekend's All Out show, which airs on PPV from Jacksonville, Florida.