AEW’s Ricky Starks recently spoke with Instinct Culture about a variety of topics including the broken neck he suffered back in April. He notes how although he has been able to get in the ring since Summer, his neck won’t be fully healed for two years after the incident, so AEW is taking their time getting him back to full-time wrestling.

“The situation is that I’ve been cleared since July. I had a match in Austin and that was my first match after the neck injury, and I’ve been cleared there after,” Starks said. “For whatever reason, people just put together ‘well he isn’t on TV because of that.’ That was never stated, that was never confirmed or anything like that. I do appreciate having the time off though, to further heal up my neck.

“When you have a broken neck, when you have a fractured neck, whatever type of bone that is broken, you have 3/4 months that it’s healed, but to fully heal it takes like 2 years. That’s just from a doctor’s point – a bone doesn’t fully heal until 2 years after,” he added. “So I am always gonna have that, but to have the time off and to have the time where I am still on TV and commentating and things like that, I am very appreciative of it, especially AEW giving me that time to slow it down and take my time with it. Anyone else could have rushed me back into the ring.”

As the reigning FTW Champion, Ricky Starks thinks it would make for an entertaining segment to hold an open challenge for his title belt. He also took a moment to address anyone who might claim his FTW title isn’t a “real” championship.

“I like the challenge of having the FTW belt because I don’t fit the stereotypical mold of what that is as history has shown. We have Taz who is a very hard-nosed, badass basically, and I am a badass in my own right…. I would like to have an open challenge for it. Regardless of whether people recognize it as a real thing or not, the fact of the matter is I am a champion regardless, and at the end of the day, I will remain a champion. So it would be cool for me to have somebody to come and challenge, or I throw out the bait and see who catches it. But I think, for me, most important is that it’s Ricky’s title, it’s Ricky’s vision of what it is, and no one can say it differently. I can have the type of momentum that the TNT title had with the open challenges and things like that.”

All Elite Wrestling continues building an exceptional roster with signings like CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, and Adam Cole. For Starks, he sees this growth as an opportunity for younger stars like himself to only get better in the squared circle.

“I think because we have such a good rapport with the fan base, and a reward system, and giving wrestlers a chance, and letting them have the opportunity to actually go out there and wrestle, and all of these things – it’s a big thing, a big melting pot of success that will only get better as we keep moving forward. When I came into AEW in 2020 during COVID, it was a night and day difference. The landscape was totally different, so to see it go from that to what it is now – and we have so much more to go, I am still amazed by that…. But I think in part, it had to do with the help that we got, the signing of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole and things like that. And from that point, I do want to say, we were building a base before these guys came in, we built a platform, a home, for them to see, ‘Hey, that’s a place we want to go.’

“So don’t get it twisted, the people that were here originally built all of this,” Starks pointed out. “Just like any type of building piece, we had that, then we had them come in, then we have the young guys that are moving up now being the stars they were being built up for. It’s just so many cool parts. I think it’s cool to have someone like Punk, Bryan, and Adam Cole because iron sharpens iron and we cannot get better if we just wrestle the same 50 guys that we did the past ten years. So, I am a fan of it. I am really excited for it. The more the merrier as long as they come to work, and wanna help out and not be selfish.”