After securing his first-ever AEW Pay-Per-View victory at Revolution, Ricky Starks was riding high. He'd beaten Chris Jericho for the second time in 2023 – a feat no one else had accomplished – got his hug with Tony Khan, and boldly declared that he was ready to compete for championship gold, and could even see himself holding the AEW World Championship, the TNT Championship, and the All-Atlantic Championship if afforded an opportunity.

With a promo segment already booked for Dynamite and, presumably, a new feud rapidly coming his way, Starks stopped by D-LO & KC to discuss his Revolution win and how he's ready to take a step forward in his career by bumping heads with one of the top guys in the promotion.

“I've proven to those established guys that, I can stand shoulder to shoulder with y'all. You have experience on me, for sure, but when it comes down to it, I can be up there with y'all and stand on me own and be chest up, head high. I don't need the 15 years to get that confidence, I have that already. Now, what I need from y'all, is to help me sharpen my sword.' Iron sharpens iron,” Starks said. “Sharpen it a bit more so I can be a complete asset to the business. That's what I'm getting at AEW. I'm proud to be working with these people because they have so much to offer. It would be silly to not take advantage of that.

“If there was any doubt, if there was any doubt a year ago, I feel I've proven that ten times over. There are times when I'm like, ‘how much more do I have to prove to somebody?' It gets to that point where I am so grateful to be allowed to be myself and to have people truly understand me. That's one of the worst things to feel like, to not really be understood. You couldn't even get one person to understand you? That's a bad feeling. If I can have somebody that even feels like they can relate to me, if I can get anybody that feels like, ‘I see myself in that dude' or ‘I know somebody that's like Ricky and his personality,' I feel like I won. I feel like I've done my job, and I'm good with that.”

What does AEW have in store for Starks now that he's finally getting the sort of push fans have been clamoring to see for what feels like his entire run in TK's company? Only time will tell; maybe Starks will come out after Orange Cassidy's match with Jay Lethal, maybe he'll enter into a program with the winner of the TNT Championship match, or maybe he'll even really step up and become the next long-term challenger for MJF, as the duo do have history that could be revisited in the not-too-distant future. Either way, AEW is lucky to have Starks, even if he has been spotted at WWE once already this calendar year.

Cody Rhodes takes responsibility for Ricky Starks' Royal Rumble appearance.

Speaking of WWE, in a recent interview with Out of Character with Ryan Satin, Cody Rhodes was asked about Starks' surprise appearance in his posse heading into the Royal Rumble, and “The American Nightmare” took responsibility for letting it get out.

“I'll take full blame. My fault,” Rhodes said. “It was a friend coming to see me in a very big, truly emotional moment. To lose your confidence as an athlete, a fighter, and entertainer; to get back up off the mat, and not just get back up, you have to be at the level you were. I liked having people in my circle around me. I think also, that will be the only time anyone from another company is ever present because it creates a conversation that is not accurate. It creates an outlook…this is my friend. He wanted to be there to support me. He should have stayed his butt on the bus, he did not, and because of that, no friends at work anymore. I'll make some new friends at WWE so there is not random surveillance photos of them and I walking backstage. You know you're pretty popular when people are making a story out of that. So, I guess good for the Rick Man.”

Starks, too, was asked about accidentally appearing at the Royal Rumble in an interview with Stephanie Chase and let it be known that he was happy to be there for his friend regardless of what fans thought.

“It was important to me because that's my friend. That's a guy who has helped me out through a neck injury. That's a guy who had helped me out through my career, even before AEW, when I was an extra at SmackDown. This guy talked to me and gave me advice when he didn't have to,” said Starks said. “That's what's important. I don't give a sh*t, and I want everyone who's watching this to do this verbatim. I don't give a sh*t if there's some tribalism from the fans. I don't care if someone from my company or over there thinks it's a bad look. I don't give a f*ck. That is my friend. One thing about me is I'm genuinely going to be a friend no matter what, and if you ride for me, I'm gonna ride for you. So it's important that I go there and see a guy who is ultimately on the biggest chapter of his career. It was important for me to be there because I would want the same d*mn thing.

“Like I said, I don't care what tribalism happens from the fans, from the people I work with, over there, it was important for me to go and support my friend on one of the biggest nights of his life because that's what friends do. If there's one thing about me, it's that I'm a genuine down-a** person that will ride for my friends, and nobody will question me for that. I refuse to let anybody question me. Or even try to give me any type of pushback on it. Because I'm a grown-a** person, I can do that.”

Could Khan be booking Starks for a prominent push because he knows jumping to WWE is a possibility for “Stroke Daddy?” Maybe yes, maybe no; either way, it's clear if Starks were to hit the open market, he would have no issues with taking his talents to WWE.