After dominating Impact Wrestling's tag team division with four record-breaking championship reigns across three years, Santana & Ortiz had a massive decision in front of them when they left the company over the summer. The pair could either take a massive deal from the WWE to join their tag team ranks, or sign up with All Elite Wrestling before their first episode of AEW Dynamite had even aired. The two eventually decided to join the latter and made their debut at the All Out pay-per-view in August by attacking both the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers. Since then the pair have established themselves as one of the top heel teams in the company, working alongside Chris Jericho as members of The Inner Circle.
In a new interview with Chris Van Vliet, the pair revealed why they decided to turn down WWE even after company officials basically offered them whatever kind of deal they wanted.
"We were about to turn down WWE," Ortiz recalled We sat down and were like 'We don't want to burn a bridge.' We never want to burn a bridge anywhere because that's not how we do business, you should keep every avenue open. He [Santana] had this whole spiel, 'This is what we're gonna say so we don't burn a bridge.' And then we go, we get cut off, and they're like, 'Listen, just really think about your decision.' And then we stop, hang up the phone, and are about to turn them down but it's like 'Damn, they're really making this hard for us.'"
"Pretty much they were like, 'Write your own ticket and we'll make it happen,'" Santana added. The two confirmed that the deal would've had them join NXT with the promise of eventually getting promoted to either Raw or SmackDown.
"Honestly, the ultimate decision was, do we want to be apart of something that's already establish or do we want to be apart of something new and make history," Ortiz said. "Because, no matter what happens with AEW, we will always be apart of the first ever main event on the first ever television of AEW. We were like, 'Do we want to be apart of history or fade into black?' Best case scenario, we're just going to be small fish in an ocean. There's so many people there, it was gonna be an uphill battle. Not saying we wouldn't be able to do it, because we're confident in our abilities, but we could be apart of history, we could be apart of change. Literally, you're seeing the change. It's changing wrestling for the better. No matter what happens with this company, wrestling has changed for the better."
The pair also mentioned they didn't want to be on the road with WWE's schedule, as they're both fathers of young children.
The two will face The Young Bucks in a Texas Street Fight on this week's episode of AEW Dynamite.