AEW Star Chuck Taylor went on a retirement tour in 2015, planning to hang up his boots for the last time.
This came after an NXT tryout which, while he thought it went well, did not end up in him signing for the WWE.
This was a shock, as he was one of the most popular names on the independent scene at the time, and gained a huge following online through his hilarious antics in matches.
There was even a supposed “leak” of a shirt prepared for Chuck Taylor when he signed for NXT. Following on the convention (at the time) of stars changing their name, the shirt featured the name “Dustin Taylor”, with the nickname “Kentucky Refined” also on the shirt.
(Chuck Taylor’s real name is Dustin, and he is from Kentucky).
Sadly, he did not sign for NXT. In fact, he never wrestled for the WWE, nor any of its developmental programs throughout his 21 year career (which began at 15 years old).
He did have an NXT try-out in 2015, which he confirmed in a Reddit AMA that year. He was asked how it went, to which Chuck Taylor dryly replied, “It went well I think. I didn’t get hired.”
Chuck Taylor later expanded on the WWE try out, claiming that it was tough, but that all the internet rumors surrounding it at the time were completely wrong.
“It was physically tough, just as I thought it would be. I was surprised how many people knew me and the other indie dudes who were there. We were treated really well.”
“Everything I read on the internet afterward was totally wrong. I don’t know who made that stuff up but basically none of it was true. Gargano didn’t fail any cardio drill, that dude’s a machine.”
“I didn’t throw a grenade in front of Triple H, I didn’t even meet him. I guess you can just make up whatever you want on the internet.”
This was really the beginning of the end for Chuck Taylor, and the moment he decided to hang up his boots.
He had wrestled for 13 years at that point, and had never made it to a big company. Taylor had wrestled sporadically in various promotions, most notably PWG and Chikara, but had never received a call from any of the big ones.
WWE, TNA and ROH all passed him by. His try-out with NXT seemed to be his last shot, as he confirmed later in the AMA.
Chuck Taylor glumly confessed that “there’s no options for me right now”, and that he couldn’t justify continuing without any interest from the mainstream wrestling companies.
He called continuing his career “masturbatory”, and said that it was “time to grow up”.
“There’s no options for me right now.” Chuck Taylor wrote, “None of the bigger promotions want me. Not ROH or TNA or Lucha Underground or WWE. How long until it just becomes masturbatory to keep wrestling? It’s time to grow up. I don’t want to be the sad old dude who has nothing else.”
A sad state of affairs, and one that made Chuck Taylor’s retirement decision seem much clearer.
…but lucky, he didn’t retire, and just a few years later found fame as part of the Best Friends tag team Trent Beretta and Orange Cassidy, as some of the biggest stars of the early days of All Elite Wrestling.
Chuck Taylor continues to work for AEW, and is now into his fourth year in the company. He also had a run in NJPW prior to signing with AEW, becoming best friends with Kazuchika Okada as a member of CHAOS.
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.