Tye Dillinger, now known as Shawn Spears in AEW, recently spoke to Chris Van Vliet about AEW allowing him to rediscover himself and have freedom, getting released from WWE, and the impact that had on his fiance Peyton Royce.
Chris sent the following transcribed highlights from the episode to eWrestlingNews. You can hear the full episode on YouTube, embedded above.
Spears on WWE granting his release, but not others’:
“That’s tough to answer because no one else was granted their release. And it’s one of three things, maybe it was a mutual respect that I had built up with them. I was with them for eight and a half years total including my first time around. I did things right, I never got into any trouble. I was professional and I carried myself well and always did what I was asked to do. So that was one thing, the other thing is that statement that I put out later that evening on February 19th kind of handcuffed them a little bit. If they would have kept me, that might have made a lot of people unhappy. If they would have kept me and utilized me in a negative way or have me get killed on TV every week that would have made people upset. I think it put me in the best position possible to get what I was looking for. And the third possible reason is maybe they didn’t see anything in me and they go ‘You know what? We don’t see any value. It is time to go, so go ahead and to be honest with you I really hope it’s that one. I really, really do because that just fuels a little more fire.”
Spears talks his 90-day no-compete ending before Double Or Nothing
“I asked for my release on my birthday, February 19th. I was verbally granted it on the Friday, which was the 22nd or something but I needed the paperwork officially and I didn’t get that until the following week. Had they waited an extra 24 hours I would not have been able to do Double or Nothing so I think WWE was being gracious. They knew what was going on. I think they allowed me to be out at that time to do whatever I wanted to do including Double or Nothing. I could be completely wrong and it might have slipped their minds, I don’t know but I like to think that I had earned that mutual respect.”
Shawn Spears talks nerves before AEW debut:
“I was scared s**tless because I was gone for so long and my career in WWE wasn’t exactly how I hoped it would be, especially coming from NXT and the momentum of the Perfect 10 character. The reality is if you tell people something long enough, good or bad, they’re going to believe it. And for a while, the picture painted was that I wasn’t exactly a favorable character. I wasn’t exactly a character that was going to be utilized to a certain extent. This is what it is and here’s what it is and you can take it or leave it. A lot of time had gone by, a lot of low time had gone by so coming out at Double or Nothing I was like ‘God, I just hope people remember’. I hope people react and I hope people care that I’m here tonight’. That was my biggest fear.”
Spears on why he turned down a “substantial” raise from WWE:
“Because I’m scared s**tless of regret. It’s going to matter to me when I’m 70 and I’m not mobile and I can’t do much else with my life except think, I’m going to think about three things: whether I was a good person, whether I was a good father and whether or not I lived a life worth living and that includes what I did with my career. So did I settle for money that I could no longer use. It might support my family, that’s great, but it’s no use to me selfishly. Or am I going to, when all I can do is think, think back and smile and go ‘I did it on my terms.’ I finished the matches the way I wanted to. I went out of my in-ring career the way I wanted to. Those things later on in life are all that I’m going to be able to think about. That was the deciding factor when asking to leave. I didn’t let them get the number out. They told me they were going to give me a substantial raise and I just went it’s not going to change how I feel tomorrow morning when I wake up.”
Spears on if he worried asking for his release would affect his fiance Peyton Royce’s WWE career: