Ricky Starks was not a free agent for very long.
Speaking with Wrestling Perspective Podcast, the Team Taz member was asked about his transition from the NWA to AEW and what that process entailed. He calls Spring 2020 a life-changing time, saying that he was ready to take a chance on himself after things with the NWA ended sub-optimally. Here was his full comment on the matter:
"Around this time, it kind of changed my whole life. In 2019 I went to Japan. The only reason I went to Japan is because I went on Twitter and said, 'hey, this year I'm going to go to Japan.' So I worked hard, I put in the work and I manifested. I spoke it out into existence.
The NWA contract came up, and it was pretty much like they were going to renew it, but the pandemic just happened and they were going to go and start doing this thing called Carnyland, which to me, I thought was corny. I thought it was the worst idea imaginable. On top of that too, they cut my pay and I was already struggling to make ends meet. So I said I'm done, I'm not going to renew. They weren't happy about it, but it was what it was. So I took a chance in saying like, well, I'll just keep busting my ass and make things and figure it out, right, everything just works itself out. I had been through enough in life with sleeping in my car and being homeless and not being able to eat that I stopped stressing about it."
When asked if AEW was aware of him, Starks shared that he hadn't had any contact other than saying hello to Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes in passing once while visiting his friends. He continued on, detailing how he wound up answering Cody's TNT Title open challenge on June 17th and subsequently getting offered a job. Starks said the following:
"Then there was the Dynamite where Cody came out and he announced there was going to be an open challenge, and then he went on Twitter and said 'oh no, this is open to everybody.' I swear to God, the next day I was at the gym and this vision of me walking out and cutting this promo on Cody Rhodes before the match and having this match kept popping into my head for those few days. That Sunday, I got a call from AEW asking me if I was interested in coming in and doing a match with Cody. I was like, yeah for sure. I was like, what the hell is going on? I get there and theoretically I didn't have a promo live in front of him but I wasn't supposed to have a promo at all. I'd go and do some b-roll stuff on Tuesday and Wednesday and they chopped it up because the producer had liked it so much and he pitched it to Tony like, hey, maybe we do a promo package before he comes out. Dude, the promo package! I came out, I had an entrance and theme song.
I had the match. After the match was over I legit thought it was just like a one-off and said 'well, at least I can raise my rate and go onto the indies, gain some more momentum, and then once the pandemic is over get back in touch AEW or WWE and see what's happening.' Sure enough, that Wednesday my match airs and I get a call from Tony and he offers me a job. It was the most insane thing that's ever happened, just because it started up here [points to his head] and then just materialized so quick."
When it was all set and done, Starks believes it was less than two months between his NWA deal ending and getting signed by AEW.
On Sunday, March 7 at AEW Revolution, Starks and Brian Cage will face Sting and TNT Champion Darby Allin in a Street Fight. Fightful will be providing live coverage of the event.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit Wrestling Perspective Podcast with a h/t and link back to Fightful for the transcription.