Ring of Honor star PJ Black, who worked as Justin Gabriel in WWE from 2008-2015, recently spoke with Chuck Carroll of CBS Sports and revealed that WWE tried to bring him back in 2018 to work the WWE NXT brand.
Black said the offer came after he bumped into Vince McMahon and Triple H while backstage at the 2018 WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It was noted that the deal would have been ideal from a stability standpoint, especially for a 38 year old wrestler, but Black had concerns over the WWE schedule, as he didn’t want to put the daily wear and tear on his body, and he didn’t want to deal with the same creative frustrations that he faced during his first WWE run. It was also noted that WWE offered him decent money, but not quite what he expected.
Black was asked what kind of pressure WWE put on him to sign with them for a run in NXT.
“Oh, no pressure at all, because they kind of just remembered me from what I was doing when I was there,” Black said. “And while they did like me and stuff like that, they don’t know the stuff that I’m doing right now. I’ll give you an example, Drew McIntyre, he went back to the indies and just reinvented himself. He did fantastic, and they had to have him back. I was out for a year or two, three years due to a base jumping injury, so I feel like in wrestling, out of sight, out of mind.
“So they kind of forgot about me, and while they did make a decent offer, it wasn’t strong enough for them and they didn’t force anything on it. Plus, I live in downtown LA, so Survivor Series was in Staples Center, and that’s a block away from my place. So I just walked over one day just to say hi to everyone, and that’s where it all happened. I ran into Vince McMahon, ran into [Triple H], and we started talking. It was never like they kind of reached out first. It was kind of like I was just being at the right place at the right time. I never told them that I had other opportunities. Maybe that was my mistake. Maybe I should have, they would have pursued it more aggressively. But yeah, I did tell ROH I had another offer, and that’s maybe why they pursued it so hard. Which, again, they win.”
Black would eventually sign with ROH, making his debut last fall. He recently signed a one-year deal with the promotion, and officially debuts under that deal this month. Black confirmed that WWE was offering him a multi-year deal, but he was worried because he says WWE promises a lot of things to talents that they usually can’t keep to. He said, “Yes. They usually do three to five years, which is also very tough because a lot can happen in a year or two, and nothing’s guaranteed. In NXT, I don’t want to say too much about how they work, but they promise a lot of things, which 90% of the time they can’t keep to.”
Black admitted that he was also concerned about NXT talents going to the main roster, starting hot and then falling off into oblivion. Black went back to the claim of WWE not following through on promises and said he hears it all the time from friends who still work for the company.
“That’s exactly what I was eluding to,” Black said of the main roster promises. “They’d be like ‘Oh, you’ll be on the main roster in six months or seven months, or whatever it is, and even if you’re not, you’ll still get your pay increase or whatever it is.’ I know for a fact because I speak to guys on a daily basis. All my friends are still in the WWE and in NXT, and I speak to these guys all the time, and I know for a fact none of the stuff that they were promised happened. Obviously, there are exceptions here and there, small exceptions, but those guys are just happy to be around and still be making money and being on TV. While most of them are not happy with where they are, that’s what they wanted to do. That’s still their dream job.”
The former WWE Tag Team Champion is a big skydiver. He broke both ankles after a base jumping accident in 2016 and then suffered a broken hand, broken leg and the loss of a finger after an accident in 2017. He revealed that he pitched a skydiving entrance to Vince several times, but never got the chance to make it happen. He also joked with WWE Hall of Famer Jeff Jarrett about jumping into a WrestleMania event with the Global Force Wrestling logo on his parachute, back when Gabriel was working for GFW. Gabriel said Jarrett was ready to bail him out of jail.
“Oh, I’ve pitched that multiple times to Vince [McMahon] and he was like yeah, once you get better at this, we’ll do it,” Black reveald. “Mainly I was always open. Yeah, we’ve had multiple discussions on that. Even when I did the Global Force thing, Jeff Jarrett was like yeah, why don’t you just jump into, well I made a joke. I was like why don’t I jump into Mania with a Global Force parachute. I’m gonna get to go to jail, you might have to bail me out. I was just joking and he goes, that’s a great idea, let’s do it.”
You can read Carroll’s full interview with Black at this link.