Santana and Ortiz ultimately wanted to make history on a new stage with AEW instead of being a small piece of the puzzle in WWE.
The ‘Proud And Powerful’ duo recently spoke with Chris Van Vliet and said coming off of their IMPACT Wrestling run, they were being courted by WWE and talks with them were even before All Elite Wrestling was formally established. Santana and Ortiz turned down offers to go to WWE, but they say the company made it a difficult decision due to pretty much offering to sign the team for whatever they wanted. “Pretty much they were like, ‘Write your own ticket and we’ll make it happen,’” Santana said.
“We were either gonna stay in IMPACT, we might go to WWE or maybe Ring of Honor, we were playing it this way. We’ll see what’s up,” Ortiz said, “In our head, we made a good amount of noise in IMPACT, but I feel like we need to bring up our name value a little bit more. We can go to WWE and cash it in now, but I feel like maybe we bring up our name value a little bit more and be more wanted by them.”
He added that WWE was interested enough to make an offer and said they had people in the company pulling for them, but he didn’t want to get lost in the shuffle. “When we first got an offer, it was like, ‘We’re not going to get into a bidding war with anyone.’” Ortiz said. “Then it ultimately went down to, ‘Alright, what do you want?’ and it was only because of AEW.”
The team clarified that this was for NXT with a guarantee to go to the main roster eventually, and said they would’ve also been able to remain in New York instead of moving to Orlando due to the company wanting to accommodate them. Ortiz says the big decision came when they asked if they want to be part of something established or something history-making.
“Best case scenario, we’re going to be small fish in a big—in an ocean. There’s so many people there. It was gonna be an uphill battle. Not saying we wouldn’t be able to do it because we’re confident in our abilities,” Ortiz said, “but we could be a part of history and be a part of change. We could be part of change that—you’re literally seeing it. We were just talking about this before the camera went on. It’s changing wrestling for the better. No matter what happens with this company, wrestling has changed for the better and it’s continually changing for the better. And we were like ‘we want to be a part of history. We want to make a change.”