Former NXT star Tino Sabbatelli — who was among the many performers released by WWE in April due to financial concerns brought about by the coronavirus pandemic — will be making his debut for All Elite Wrestling on Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dark.
On Monday afternoon, AEW released a teaser video on Twitter which previewed the eight matches that will air on this week’s episode of the company’s YouTube-exclusive show. These include a tag team match between Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent) and the duo of Brady Pierce and Sabbatelli, who is now billed under the ring name Sabby — a variation on his real name of Sabatino Piscitelli.
As noted by Wrestling Inc., Sabbatelli was signed by WWE in October 2014 after spending some time in the NFL. He mostly teamed up with current Monday Night Raw superstar Riddick Moss during his time in NXT, though his stint on the black-and-gold brand was marred by multiple injuries. He also was featured on his former employer’s Breaking Ground series, which spotlighted athletes hoping to make their name as professional wrestlers while training at the promotion’s Performance Center.
During an appearance on former NXT superstar Dan Matha’s The Drop podcast in May, Sabbatelli commented on his then-recent release, noting that he was cut just two months after he came back from a torn pectoral muscle that had sidelined him for 22 months. As quoted by Fightful, the 36-year-old suggested that some of the officials he had worked with, including head trainer Matt Bloom and senior director of talent development Canyon Ceman, didn’t seem to agree with the company’s decision to cut him.
In addition, Sabbatelli said that he doesn’t consider Vince McMahon’s promotion to be the only option he has in his in-ring career.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity they gave me, but I’m far from being done. That’s the mindset I have. I’m not going to put all my effort into a craft and try to master it, and get these skill sets and throw it to the wayside.”
As of this writing, Sabbatelli is the first performer among the dozens of in-ring talents who were part of WWE’s coronavirus-related budget cuts to be confirmed for an AEW appearance. However, several individuals who were included in that massive wave of releases have been linked to the upstart company. These include the likes of Matt Cardona and Brian Myers, who were previously known by the respective ring names Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins.