Rhyno recently spoke with Sporting News and revealed that he turned down a new WWE contract before his deal expired back in July. The former SmackDown Tag Team Champion then returned to Impact at their Slammiversary 17 pay-per-view in a segment with Michael Elgin, wearing a mask.
Rhyno, who has now signed a multi-year deal with Impact, was still under contract to WWE when he appeared at Slammiversary. It’s been reported that WWE will take no action for the appearance. He would not confirm his contract status at the time of the Slammiversary appearance.
“I cannot confirm or deny,” Rhyno said. “But I will go on the record of saying I was still under contract no matter who I worked for. Whether it’s my word or a contract, I will do it justice. But with that being said, Rob Van Dam was also under contract when he appeared on Monday Night Raw for the Reunion show. So, does Impact and WWE have some sort of backdoor understanding type of agreement? Or was that not me? Or was that me? Did WWE allow me or give my blessings? Because at the end of the day, what are they going to do? Fire me? But at the end of the day, doing business is one of the essential things in wrestling. I try to stress that to younger talent. It’s always beneficial to do good business because it ends up being best for the wrestling business and the fans.”
Rhyno did confirm reports that he turned down a very lucrative deal from WWE, to sign with Impact. He was asked about those reports.
“That is true,” Rhyno said. “Basically, I was talking with Mark Carrano (WWE Senior Director of Talent Relations), and Vince (McMahon) threw out a number. It was double my downside. It was more money than I would have made in wrestling altogether. I love being on the road whether it’s working with independent promotions or with Impact, AEW, or WWE. My window of being on the road is closing. I realize that. My thing is I enjoy being in the locker rooms and helping people out. My goal is to find the next John Cena, the next Steve Austin or the next RVD. I can’t do that if I’m sitting at home. I’m more beneficial to being on the road.
“One of the things I talked to Mark Carrano about is putting in the car with guys that are coming up from NXT or currently in NXT. I don’t need to be on TV. Put me on the live events. I can show up at TV’s and do whatever. A lot of the men and women who get to Raw or SmackDown are very talented in the ring. I told Carrano, ‘You and I both know it takes a lot of money to get a talent to Raw or Smackdown. And then you’re investing more money in TV time to get them over. And if they mistake in this day of age, they are in trouble due to the social media and are likely to be fired. I can get the talents in the car for a few weeks and teach them the ways of the road and do something like that’.
“But I thought I wouldn’t be on the road and be able to do that because there are so many people under contract. So that’s one of the reasons I turned it down. I figured I would throw a stupid number out there and if they bite then if I sit at home, I’ll have to learn how to be happy. But I realized money doesn’t always make you happy. I’m glad they turned down my counter. They made a counter and wondered if we could meet in the middle. I was like, ‘No, I don’t think we’re going to meet.’ I realized there that I just didn’t want to collect a paycheck and told them we’d just part ways respectfully. There was no heat or anything. At the end of the day, I would have been miserable, and there isn’t an amount of money to make you happy when you can’t do something you love.”
While he chose to leave WWE for Impact, Rhyno said he loved his return to WWE. He also talked about getting paid to just sit at home, and admitted that he got lazy and comfortable into the run.
“I loved it,” he said when asked how he would characterize the return. “The last three months of my contract, I was sitting at home. And a lot of people would say it’s a punishment. It wasn’t. It was just business. I can’t say one bad thing about WWE just for the simple fact of that they allowed me to make money. You have to be responsible for your actions. I think what had happened is when I was going into WWE, I was burnt out because I was running for office. I was on the road making all of my bookings on the indies and then doing the shows on the weekend. Then during the week, I would spend 10 hours a day knocking on doors from 10:30 a.m. until you couldn’t go anymore because it would get too late and you can’t knock on people’s doors amid summer time in the heat and running a campaign and figuring things out. You have to remember it’s just a business.
“And I didn’t take that time to go and get in better shape. When I got there, and I’ll be honest with you, every time I went to the ring, I gave 110 percent. But I got lazy. I got comfortable. I didn’t diet. I always went to the gym to stretch and do a little cardio. I really didn’t go crazy. With me, I have to have a low carb (diet), eat every couple hours in small portions because that will keep my metabolism up and workout five days a week. It was unfortunate. WWE never said anything to me. They never said anything to anybody to the best of my knowledge. I just didn’t put in the effort. Having time off before starting this new venture with Impact made me realize, look back and reflect on what I did wrong, what I did right and what could I improve on and what could I not improve on and what needs work. I think that was a blessing in disguise. Sitting at home proved to be beneficial. Money isn’t everything because I had a downside guarantee.”
Regarding his return to Impact, Rhyno gave the company some praise for improving over the last few years. He was asked what the return to Impact means.
“It means a lot on several different things,” he said. “One, just for the simple fact that it’s a company on the right path for almost two years. They have been moving in a direction where wrestling fans want a company to go in terms of letting the talent be the talent, having bookers booking the matches on the card opposed to writers.
“I think a lot of fans are drawn to a promotion like that. Not speaking against other promotions, but you other promotions doing it differently because they’re very successful. But I think there’s nitch where you have to let talent be talent and have enough talent where it’s not drowned out too much and where you don’t have enough TV time and run enough shows to use them. It’s up to the talent, whether to sink or swim. And Impact because guys have more control when their contracts are up.”