Ricky Starks has practically disappeared from AEW television since a 28 September Dynamite squash of Eli Isom, despite the former FTW World Champion looking like a surefire pick for a monster push after defeating partner-turned-rival Powerhouse Hobbs at Grand Slam.
There's a good reason for this. Rather than Starks' absence being a case of booker's neglect, Dave Meltzer reports in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that Ricky has been out of action "due to something not wrestling-related."
Ricky's five-week absence from AEW Dynamite and Rampage understandably bred speculation on his status, given how over he had become during the summer. 'Absolute' never commented on the absence directly and despite not wrestling on TNT or TBS, he did compete at AEW's Dark tapings on 13 October, besting The Factory's Nick Comoroto. This aired on 25 October.
Nonetheless, Starks' televised absence comes to an end on tonight's episode of Rampage in Atlantic City, New Jersey. AEW has announced a talking segment featuring the former Team Taz member via Twitter:-
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Perhaps AEW will use this to establish Ricky's first feud following the Hobbs rivalry, which concluded at Grand Slam.
Ricky Starks' Red-Hot 2022
'Absolute' had emerged as one of the most popular babyfaces in AEW prior to his break from television, getting over huge with live crowds throughout 2022. He and Hobbs appeared to be breaking out as a tag team through their many battles with Swerve In Our Glory. Starks was presented as a fiery, reflective babyface throughout this, commanding increasingly loud crowd reactions, leading to Hobbs turning on him.
Powerhouse bested Ricky in their first singles match at All Out 2022. Two weeks later, Starks felled the big man at Grand Slam, doing so in an Unsanctioned Lights Out match.
Hobbs is currently in line to challenge TNT Champion Wardlow at Full Gear 2022 on 19 November. Starks is currently without an opponent (or feud) for the pay-per-view.