Mike Santana on leaving AEW, never winning the AEW Tag Team Titles, splitting up with Ortiz


By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Insight With Chris Van Vliet with guest Mike Santana
Host: Chris Van Vliet
Podcast available via Podcasts.Apple.com

On leaving AEW: “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, and I just needed to take a break and deal with the things that I needed to deal with. And yeah, so then the injury happened. So, a lot of that was going on during that time.”

Did AEW want to re-sign you? “I’m not sure. But I wasn’t really actively pursuing it, the time was coming up. Like I said, it was June when I got hurt. Our contract was up August, I think. And I wasn’t really like actively pursuing [and saying] ‘Oh, are you guys going to re-sign us?’ Because already in my head, I was like, Yeah, I need to get away. I need to take a break. But I’m sure something would have worked out and they probably would have re-signed us. But yeah, man. During that time, it was a very dark time for me.”

On never becoming an AEW Tag Team Champion: “Your guess is as good as mine. I will be real, I’m gonna shoot straight with you. The reason I was given was that there were too many other people fighting for that spot. And that pissed me off more than anything. I understand that when you get to a certain level in this business, if you don’t fight for yourself, if you don’t advocate for yourself, you’re gonna get nowhere. And that was a big part of my fight within my team. And when I heard that, it just validated everything that I was like, alright.”

Was there ever talk of becoming AEW Tag Team Champions? “There was in the beginning. It was right before the pandemic. We were feuding with The Bucks, we were ending our feud with The Bucks. And they both told us, they were like, hey, after this, you’re gonna go and start working a program with Frankie (Kazarian) and Scorpio (Sky), at the time they were still champs. And then you guys are going to grab the belts from them and whatever. So that was the week of New Year’s Eve. And then we were supposed to have a match New Year’s Day, and then start the program with them. We were gonna go into some promos. And then that morning, I woke up and got the call that my dad passed away. So I had to leave. So I left and then I was gone for two weeks. And in those two weeks, everything changed.”

On the fallout with Ortiz: “Well, we were together for ten years, I think. And when you’re together with someone that long, it’s like a married couple. Right? 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. And 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. And it is what it is, everybody has their thoughts. Everybody goes about things differently. But yeah, like I told you, I’m a go-getter. I like to create opportunities for myself, I like, I’m more than willing to fight for our spot. But also, I’m not going to be the only one.”

Where there still heat between them “I wouldn’t say [so]. I mean, for me, I don’t hold any [grudges]. I told him after the match, Yo, I hope the best for you, hope you do well and there is 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’.”


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