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Austin Aries was passed over by WWE during “Tough Enough” try-outs a few years ago, but he seized the opportunity to join the company when NXT came around looking for big-name stars.
Aries told WWE’s website in a new interview that making a name for himself in WWE is his last goal in pro wrestling after competing in virtually every major promotion.
“Frankly, it’s the only thing I haven’t done in my career. I’ve accomplished every goal I’ve set out to. I’ve traveled the world, I’ve competed in just about every promotion there is. The last mountain to climb was the one that resides in the WWE Universe,” Aries said.
“I became a free agent in the middle of last year. I was seeing what all my options were and had a lot of different opportunities on the table. But from the moment I became a free agent, the WWE opportunity was the one I wanted. Obviously, there were strong plays made by some other companies, but in the end, when WWE offered me an opportunity, I could not turn it down.”
Aries, 37, said the cliche is to say he wants to be NXT champion, but he’s setting his sights on becoming a big star on the main WWE roster after traveling the independents and “other promotions” (TNA) for 15 years.
“You have to understand something about Austin Aries. I always set the bar higher. I set the bar high for myself, higher than anyone can expect. When it’s all said and done, I want to be Austin Aries, WWE Hall of Famer. That’s a lofty goal. As they say, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll hit the stars. I don’t have a lot of time to waste. Everything from here on out is geared toward that goal,” Aries said.
Back when Aries was passed over for Tough Enough, it was at a time when WWE was not recruiting the likes of Aries, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens. Now, things have changed with the rise of NXT and Aries says his mentality has changed along with it.
“They told me that for what they were looking for,” Aries said of previous conversations with WWE “I was a little too small. Maybe not understanding the process of how this game works and knowing that I was done growing, I decided that all I really wanted to do was wrestling for my career. When that door [with WWE] closed on me, I accepted that and said I was going to keep wrestling for my career.”
Aries makes his NXT in-ring debut against Baron Corbin on April 1 in Dallas as part of the next “NXT Takeover” special.