Ricky Starks has made waves recently, with a WWE appearance this year taking the internet by storm.
The former FTW Champion was spotted in a photo, backstage at the 2023 Royal Rumble event. He was there with Cody Rhodes, the man he debuted against in AEW.
This caused a huge buzz online, with some fans vilifying him for working wth the WWE, while others theorised that Ricky Starks could be working with the WWE in some way.
While he was just there to support his friend Cody Rhodes, who actually won the Royal Rumble match, it would not have been the first time Ricky Starks has worked with the WWE.
While he was rejected by the WWE some years ago, he since worked with one of their top stars. Ricky Starks helped The Undertaker get ready for his match against John Cena at WrestleMania 34, as he recently revealed in a tell-all interview.
Ricky Starks on The Undertaker
Before his return to the WWE in 2018, The Undertaker needed some help to get back into ring shape.
He sought out the help from Ricky Starks, who was an indie wrestler at that time. Still two years off signing for AEW, he was brought in to “spar” with The Undertaker in the wrestling ring.
Ricky Starks wrestled The Undertaker prior to his match with John Cena. It is likely this occurred in The Undertaker’s private ring, which he showcased in the “One Last Ride” documentary.
Ricky Starks spoke about The Undertaker, and their growing friendship after training together for the WWE, in a recent interview with The Wrestling Classic.
Starks called The Undertaker “my guy”, and revealed how he wrestled The Deadman before his match against John Cena at WrestleMania 34.
He also revealed how he still speaks to The Undertaker, and that The Phenom looked over his independent matches and gave him advice, prior to signing with AEW.
Speaking with The Wrestling Classic, Ricky Starks said about The Undertaker;
Taker’s like my guy. Taker’s my favorite wrestler of all time. The wildest thing is that as I got older, I actually met him. I had him watch one of my matches for the indies.
I sparred with him in preparation for his match against John Cena at WrestleMania. I kept in touch with Taker still to this day when I see him, still the same, ‘Hey man, how you doing? I’m proud of you.’
That’s what he’s told me, he’s proud of me and I’m doing great so yeah, it’s really wild to go from that to sitting on a couch with [someone] that you loved when you were growing up.
Ricky Starks has paid tribute to The Undertaker in AEW, using a variation of his “Old School” move on multiple occasions in the ring.
Ricky Starks At The 2023 Royal Rumble
Going back to Ricky Starks being photographed at the 2023 Royal Rumble event, he himself has commented about being caught backstage.
In an interview with Stephanie Chase on YouTube, Ricky Starks revealed how he does not care what the fans think about him being backstage with WWE, despite his frienship with The Undertaker.
He spoke about his friendship with Cody Rhodes, and revealed how he was just supporting his friend for the biggest match in his life.
“It was important to me because that’s my friend. That’s a guy who has helped me out through a neck injury. That’s a guy who had helped me out through my career, even before AEW, when I was an extra at SmackDown. This guy talked to me and gave me advice when he didn’t have to. That’s what’s important.”
“I don’t give a s**t, and I want everyone who’s watching this to do this verbatim. I don’t give a s**t if there’s some tribalism from the fans. I don’t care if someone from my company or over there thinks it’s a bad look. I don’t give a f**k. That is my friend.”
“One thing about me is I’m genuinely going to be a friend no matter what, and if you ride for me, I’m gonna ride for you. So it’s important that I go there and see a guy who is ultimately on the biggest chapter of his career. It was important for me to be there because I would want the same damn thing.”
With a friendship with Cody Rhodes and The Undertaker, Ricky Starks has some powerful friends in WWE.
This could be a factor in him leaving AEW to sign for the WWE in the future, with a big-money match with Cody Rhodes being a huge draw for the company.
Cody Rhodes also spoke about the controversy, taking the full blame for Starks being backstage, as he invited his friend to support him at the 2023 Royal Rumble.
Addressing the incident on Out of Character with Ryan Satin, Cody said,
“I’ll take full blame. My fault. It was a friend coming to see me in a very big, truly emotional moment. To lose your confidence as an athlete, a fighter, and entertainer;
to get back up off the mat, and not just get back up, you have to be at the level you were. I liked having people in my circle around me. I think also, that will be the only time anyone from another company is ever present because it creates a conversation that is not accurate.
It creates an outlook…this is my friend. He wanted to be there to support me. He should have stayed his butt on the bus, he did not, and because of that, no friends at work anymore.
I’ll make some new friends at WWE so there is not random surveillance photos of them and I walking backstage. You know you’re pretty popular when people are making a story out of that. So, I guess good for the Rick Man.”
Do you think The Undertaker will help bring Ricky Starks to WWE? Tell us what you think about it in the comments section down below.
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.