Mike Santana Comments On His Split From Ortiz In AEW, Says There Have Been Discussions With WWE

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Mike Santana speaks on his time with AEW and his next moves.

Earlier this month, Mike Santana’s time with All Elite Wrestling came to an end. Alongside Ortiz and Proud and Powerful, Santana was an original member of the Inner Circle, although after a rumoured fallout betweent the pair, Santana decided to try his luck as a singles star.

In a recent interview with Chris Van Vliet, Santana commented on his decision to leave AEW, revealing that he felt as though he needed time to deal with some personal issues.

“My decision to leave AEW came well before my injury. I got hurt in June of 2022 and at that point, I was just dealing with so much in my life personally and professionally at work and I was just burnt out. My contract was coming up in September, I believe, and I had already made the decision that I’m not going to re-sign. I just needed to take a break and deal with the things that I needed to deal with and then the injury happened. A lot of that was going on during that time personally.”

-Mike Santana

Following up on that, Van Vliet asked whether AEW made any attempts to re-sign him before his contract expired, to which Santana stated that even if they had, his mind was already made up that leaving the promotion was the move he had to make.

“I’m not sure, but I wasn’t really actively pursuing it, like, the time was coming up. It was June when I got hurt. Our contract was up in August I think. I wasn’t really like actively pursuing, like, ‘Oh, are you guys going to re-sign us’, because already in my head I was like, ‘I need to get away. I need to take a break.’ I’m sure something would have worked out and they probably would have re-signed us.”

-Mike Santana

Santana then delved into some of the personal issues he’d been going through, one of which being his battle with addiction and his journey to sobriety.

The former Inner Circle member revealed that it was the pain he was causing for his grandmother and daughter that led him to take action towards getting clean.

“I knew it was getting bad because I wasn’t coming home. I would be out for days. Christmas was coming up and every year my daughter always wrote her Christmas list to Santa, and in her list, one of the only things on her list was that she wanted daddy to stop. Then my grandmother wrote me a letter. My grandmother has always been a savior of mine in my life. Growing up, I had a pretty rough childhood and she showed me that there was more to life than just trauma and a lot of the bullsh*t I was going through. She’s always been a savior of mine. Seeing that I was causing her pain, especially after my dad passed away, and then my daughter and her mom, it was like, when you’re an addict, you think you’re just hurting yourself and you don’t see the others around you and they’re hurting.”

-Mike Santana

Prior to Santana’s AEW departure, rumours began to circulate that he and his long-time tag team partner Ortiz had fallen out, with comments made by both men seemingly backing this up.

Addressing the fallout, Santana noted that the pair simply began to drift apart on their vision for the tag team’s future, and that he didn’t want to be the only one fighting for both of their spots in the promotion.

“We were together for 10 years, I think. When you’re together with someone that long, it’s like a married couple. There’s good, there’s bad, and I think, honestly, for the most part, it was like, I think we just grew apart over time. Also our visions for the tag team and its future and its success, we weren’t on the same page when it came to a lot of those things. It is what it is. Everybody has their thoughts. Everybody goes about things differently. I’m a go-getter. I like to create opportunities for myself. I’m more than willing to fight for our spot, but also, I’m not going to be the only one.”

-Mike Santana

Despite this apparent fallout, Santana harbours no ill will towards his former tag partner, adding that he wished Ortiz the best for the future.

“I mean, for me, I don’t hold any, like, I told him after the match, ‘Yo, I hope the best for you. I hope you do well and there’s no hard feelings. I hold no hate, no grudge, nothing. I’m in a different place in my life in general and I’m good. I’m chillin’.”

-Mike Santana

As is often the case when a talent departs AEW, speculation began to circulate that Mike Santana could be WWE-bound, and whilst it’s unclear as to whether this could still be on the cards, it certainly appears as though WWE held an interest in Proud and Powerful in the past.

Santana revealed that he and Ortiz held discussions with WWE as their contracts with TNA were coming up in 2019, although it was ultimately a more manageable schedule and the chance to be part of something new that led to the pair joining AEW.

“Oh, yeah. When our contracts were coming up with TNA, there was interest with AEW and WWE. We had spoken to WWE extensively and they made it very hard for us to turn them down, but our thing was that, so Cody was the one who hired us and we had already, before anything, we had spoken a while back and we had given Cody our word before anything and our word is everything. So by that point, they asked, ‘Hey, have you signed anything?’ We’re like, ‘No, but we gave our word and we would like to stick to that.’ At the time we both had young children and we wanted to see them grow up and the schedule was much easier with AEW. Plus the opportunity to be part of history, be a part of something that was brand new and fresh and be at the ground level, and honestly, like even now, I could honestly say I was part of that legacy and part of that history no matter what. People could always go back to the very first show, the very first main event, my name is there so I’m happy with that.”

-Mike Santana

On whether he’d join WWE today, Santana revealed that the two sides have held discussions, although he’d want to make sure he’s more than just another guy on the roster and feels as though he’s in a comfortable enough position financially to take time with his next steps.

“I’ve had some discussions. I’ve been very open with everybody. Right now is just going where I’m going to be able to grow the most. I don’t want to just be another guy on the roster. I already did that. I want to be part of something, I want to do something special. Thankfully, I’ve been smart with money and I’m not hurting and I’m taking my time with things, and you know, I just want to have fun.”

-Mike Santana

As noted by Santana, the pair spent time wrestling for IMPACT prior to joining AEW between 2017 and 2019, where they held the IMPACT World Tag Team Championship four times.

Asked whether he’d consider a return to IMPACT (now TNA), Santana noted that the company are doing great and that all options remain on the table at this stage.

“Everything is on the table and they’re doing great. They are doing amazing.”

-Mike Santana

As always, we’ll aim to provide any further updates on the future of Mike Santana and Ortiz as soon as we hear more.

H/T to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.

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