Former AEW Tag Team Champion Frankie Kazarian has revealed how he turned down the WWE after leaving AEW at the beginning of the year – instead signing for Impact Wrestling.
Kazarian joined AEW at the start of 2023, having negotiated out of his AEW contract after four years with the company. He has not been featured on TV much recently, being relegated mainly to AEW Dark after years as an enhancement talent with the company. He has generally been used as a way to introduce fans to new signings, wrestling against stars like Adam Cole in their debut match to get them up to speed on the AEW style.
Before that, he was part of an important tag team in the history of AEW. Along with Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels, he was part of SCU (So-Cal Unlimited), a top team in the early days of AEW. The trio wowed fans with their in-ring work, being only behind The Young Bucks and Lucha Bros in terms of abiliy.
The trio impressed greatly when they defeated The Lucha Bros on AEW Dynamite to become the first ever AEW Tag Team Champions. Their reign was impressive, with many great matches. They held the belt until January 2020, when they lost the belts to Adam Page & Kenny Omega on the Jericho Cruise. The group stayed together until 2021, when they lost a match to The Young Bucks and were forced to disband.
Kazarian went his own way and forged a new gimmick as “The Elite Hunter”. He wanted to avenge him and his partners for being forced to stop teaming together, due to the Elite. However, he was a complete failure. He lost every match against The Elite, even losing to Luke Gallows of all people. The gimmick was interesting, but maybe he shouldn’t have taken too much inspiration from Yoshi Tatsu for his gimmick.
He recently spoke to PW Insider to discuss leaving AEW and his signing with his former employer Impact. He is a legend in the company, back when it was known as TNA. He never held the world championship, but is an X-Division legend and had many memorable moments over the years.
He told PW Insider that he had “great talks with the people at WWE” which would imply that he was close to signing with the company. He talked glowing about the WWE, seeming very impressed by their professionalism. However, ultimately he decided on a return to Impact instead, which he claimed was a “better fit” for him, considering his history with the company.
In the spirit of transparency, I had great talks with the people at WWE. Those talks could not have been better, positive, more professional. I have nothing but great things to say about everybody in that organization, especially the people I spoke to and texted with. Ultimately, this was the best fit for me at this stage of my career and this point in my life. I have a great relationship with Scott D’Amore, I have history there, a lot of my legacy is there. At this stage, I was the best fit for IMPACT and IMPACT was the best fit for me.
Frankie Kazarian turned down WWE for Impact wrestling and made his re-debut with the company at Impact Hard to Kill 2023. He will likely work full-time for the company and looks likely to be inducted into the Impact Hall of Fame once he retires. He would join other TNA legends like Sting, The Dudley’s and Kurt Angle if he were to be inducted.
In the same interview, he spoke about leaving AEW. He revealed that his contract was up on January 1st, 2023 and that he told the company not to roll his deal over for two years and to let him out of his deal.
I still had two years left on my contract, two years to get rolled over. AEW management contacted me in early December, which was only a few weeks after [Josh Alexander] match. They contacted me 30 days out, which is what they’re supposed to do, and had talked about rolling me over and wanted to get the process going. I basically said, ‘thanks but no thanks.’ I voiced concerns and frustrations and goals and aspirations and had a really good talk with management and left it there. I was still going to TVs and the last television I was at was in San Antonio. I sat down with Megha (Parekh), head legal of AEW, and had a long in-person conversation. I basically gave her the list of reasons why I wanted to move on and bet on myself, and now was the time to do it. I’ve always done business the right way and been amicable about it. I wanted to get out before any feelings of resentment or bitterness. That message was relayed and they wanted to do right by me, which I respect the hell out of. As of January 1 this year, I was a free agent.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.