As a TNA original, James Storm wrestled in the company when it was known as NWA:TNA back in the early 2000s. After a lengthy career in TNA/Impact, Storm then made his return to NWA in 2019 and he made an immediate impact by winning multiple championships.
"We did our last taping around the end of January. That's the last taping that they did and it's something where I actually kind of had another month on the contract that I had, but it was actually the Thursday before Royal Rumble that WWE contacted me and asked me if I would like to come in and stuff," revealed Storm. "But the bad thing is, I didn't get the damn email until after the Rumble and I got my call on Wednesday because the email on my phone was not working. So, they were basically like, 'Since we're getting into WrestleMania season, let's kind of just hold off everything until right after Mania.'
"I talked to Billy Corgan and told him, 'Whatever you guys need me to do to go out the right way, I'll do it.' They were going to plan a show around that WrestleMania weekend, where all the shows go on and I was going to drop [the tag title] down there and just as I say, do good business on the way out the door."
Storm and Eli Drake did end up dropping the tag titles in Storm's last appearance for the company with the taping airing on January 26, 2020. That was the same date as Royal Rumble which has historically had many surprise entrants and Storm was asked if there were plans for him to be one of those.
"I don't think it was to come in for the Rumble, because I never did say. You know how it is. You never know until it's over with really. You're in the ring, you head to the back and take your boots off. But I kind of felt that way, because like I said, it was on that Thursday and I didn't answer the email until I got back home on Wednesday. And it was Heyman that wanted to bring me into RAW and he was basically like, 'Hey, I need guys like you that know how to work' because I tell everybody all the time, 'WWE, AEW, New Japan, they get guys that can do every move in the book.' I said, 'There ain't no move that you're going to come up with that one of those guys can't do.' I said, 'There's a lot of guys who don't make it really believable even more' in my eyes anyway," said Storm.
He then went into more detail about his conversations with WWE and what plans they had for him if he were to join Raw.
"Well, I was going through [SVP of Talent Development] Canyon [Ceman] and it all just kind of trickled down and stuff. They were straight upfront. They were like, 'We want to bring you in to help a lot of our younger guys and stuff' and I was like, 'Hey, if it pays the same, I don't care' and to be able to do that anyways, especially at that level. If they trust me to go in the ring… because I was always telling people, 'You can tell people what to do all the day, but unless you have that talent that can work with them in the ring, it kind of gets lost in translation,'" stated Storm. "And I mean, they were straight forward and they said, 'Look, but you never know. You can come in here, catch fire and then, before you know it, you're off to the races doing something else.' And I felt confident enough in myself, knowing that I can go in there and do the job they want me to do, but also at the same time, I know I can go in there and get myself over with the WWE Universe."
Ever since then Storm has mainly worked the independents and at 43 years old, the chances of WWE contacting him to work an extended run are slim. He was asked if he envisions a scenario where WWE would present him with another opportunity.
"As they say, 'never say never in pro wrestling.' Hopefully, it does, because I was really looking forward to it. I busted my ass to get into shape. I actually got down to 10 percent body fat, which for me is ridiculous, but it's just one of those things where it was kind of a blessing in disguise that I was going to wait until WrestleMania on the last taping at NWA. I hyperextended my knee real bad. I actually thought I tore my ACL or something like that and so, I went to the doctor and I was getting cortisone shots and working out with a trainer to get that done," stated Storm.
"But then, some of the other guys that talk to them were up there like, 'You got to be careful with the drug tests, even with certain pre workouts or coffee could pop up the tests, so be careful' because I was actually going once a month to a doctor and going, 'You see these? I got to make sure none of these is in this system, come this date.' And so, I was paying out of my own pocket and everything. I was ready to go."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Busted Open with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.