On this week’s “Insight With Chris Van Vliet,” Tino Sabbatelli talked about his NXT injury, his AEW match and feeling like the bridge is burnt, and how he first met Mandy Rose.
Tino talked about his injury in NXT:
“He (Velveteen Dream) goes to dropkick me and gets me right in my pec. His foot tore my pec, freak accident,” Tino said.
“So I have the surgery and as I’m out, I tell WWE I have an elbow problem, so let me get this sorted and I will be back at 100%. I go and get the surgery and it is supposed to be a 30 minute surgery. They get 8 pieces of bone fragment out, but the last one, the tweezers snap and vanish. I was on the table for 5 ½ hours while they were digging around. They finally get it out.”
“I wake up and they tell me what happened.They say it’s fine, but I’m like, no, something is wrong. I can’t feel my hand. Fast forward again 2 months later, and my hand has no feeling and strength. I had to have a third surgery again in December, and they told me, ‘It will be 3 months or 3 years, we can’t say.’”
“WWE stood behind me and paid for everything while I was on the shelf for 2 years. I remember Scott Hall pulled me aside one day and he said, ‘Kid, you have a candid ability for people to hate you.’ Those were like the moments where I still wanted to chase this dream.”
“Another was Dusty Rhodes. He said, ‘Son, you’ve got the it.’ Those conversations kept me going through the hard times.”
“Triple H said they want me back, so I started working my butt off and got through the physicals and got in shape. All of a sudden, I get cleared in February 2020, but 2 weeks later, COVID hits.”
“Vince McMahon said, ‘Anyone who hasn’t been on TV is gone.’ So I got a call from Canyon Ceman. He said, ‘I’m sorry, we have to let you go.’ I’m like, ‘You just paid me for 2 years. I just got back.’ He said, ‘It’s not my call. Trust me.’”
Tino on his one match in AEW:
“AEW calls me. Billy Gunn calls me and says, ‘Sabby, show up in Jacksonville.’ They don’t tell me anything. I show up and I see my name on the board. I’m like, ‘Wow, I have a match.’ So I had this match on AEW Dark, it was a tag team match, but they didn’t tell me anything. They didn’t offer me anything.”
“The same week, (NXT) coach Bloom texted me and said congratulations. I sent him a text back saying, ‘Thank you, but I didn’t sign anything.’ The next day Triple H reaches out to me. It’s funny, Canyon and Coach Bloom were trying to set up the meeting with Triple H for 2 months, but because he is so busy, it would get pushed to the back burner. I was getting so offended, but I know they were pushing for it, but it was funny that he reached out when I appeared on AEW. He said, ‘You’re the only person we are going to offer to bring back.’”
I was honored and privileged, but I asked for one thing, an opportunity. Everybody was saying, ‘Wait until Vince sees this’, and ‘Wait until you get that push.’ But it never happened because of the surgeries and just bad timing. But here we go, they signed me and they bring me back. Triple H goes, ‘Tino, come back to the PC and get the ring rust knocked off.” So I come back to the PC late 2020 and I am in every main event of the house shows in the PC to rehearse,” Sabbatelli said.
“They had me against Ciampa, Thatcher, every skill set. I kept getting put off like, ‘Oh, next week.’ I started getting a bit upset because I came back for the opportunity. Then I hear, ‘You are not right for NXT. We are going to put you on RAW or SmackDown. You don’t fit this brand.’”
We have a match. Jamie Noble and John Laurinaitis came, so did Prichard. They wanted to see promos and matches of their best talent. I cut a promo and I’m in the main event and I crushed it. Jamie Noble pulls me aside and says, ‘That promo, you can’t teach it. That confidence, you can’t teach it. Best promo of the day.’ I ask about the match and he says, ‘I loved it. I’m going to tell Vince.’ I heard I was a Vince guy. Two weeks later, I got a phone call from Canyon and I got released again.”
“Me and Canyon had a great relationship, and I could tell that he couldn’t tell me the reason. He was like, ‘I’m sorry, this is devastating to me.’ Then he hangs up on me. I didn’t get an answer. I was in the main event for the right hand men for Vince McMahon. Where is the disconnect? I lost respect because I didn’t get a call or text from Triple H. I don’t respect that.”
Tino feels that the bridge between him and AEW is burned:
“Tony Khan knows me from football, and when WWE offered me that contract, I actually texted Billy Gunn about it. They (AEW) hadn’t offered me anything.”
“I sent a nice text to Billy Gunn to thank him for the opportunity and I thought all was good. But when I got released again, someone reached out to AEW and said to Tony Khan, ‘Tino is a free agent and he’s going to be a star.’ Tony said to him, and I am paraphrasing, but Tony is upset I went back to WWE. Then 3 months ago, Andrade approached me and said he wanted me to be in a group with him.”
“Me and Andrade have always had a good relationship. He texted me personally and we shot a vignette together. He wanted to bring a group like Evolution to AEW. We shot the video and spent the whole day in Miami. He texted me back and said, ‘Tony Khan likes the idea, but no Tino.’ I would love to sit and talk to Tony. He might have been upset that I had one match and then went back to WWE.”
On how he met Mandy Rose:
“It was when she was doing the show Tough Enough. The first time I met Mandy, they were filming Tough Enough and they built a warehouse next to the PC. I saw them walking around and I’m like, ‘That girl is beautiful.’ I watched her go through the show and she got signed.”
“Her personality and down to earth persona just drew me to her. She was such a genuine person, and at the time she was engaged and we were just friends. But they broke up and we just escalated from there.”
If you use any portion of the quotes from this article please credit Chris Van Vliet with a h/t to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription. Also, be sure to subscribe to “Insight with Chris Van Vliet” on your mobile device by clicking here if you have an iOS device or here on your Android device.