WWE Superstars returning after being away from the company is certainly nothing new, but it's very rare for one to be gone as long as John Morrison was before returning. He spent nine years out of WWE, during which he worked for various other promotions while also doing some acting and appearing on Survivor.
"When I first left, I thought that I was going to be back in a year or two... I left because I wanted to make a movie, and not just be in a movie, but I'm a film major," revealed Morrison. "I went to UC Davis [University of California, Davis]. That's what I studied in school. So, I wanted to do the whole process -write, produce, star, work on the action design. And when I left, I thought that was going to take a year, maybe two. Nope, that's not how movies work."
In 2017, Morrison released Boone: The Bounty Hunter in which he starred, wrote, and served as executive producer. He even sold his house to help finance the project and has since started working on another film which will be his directorial debut.
"I mean, the whole process, from coming up with the idea of until the release, is five years. I mean, it took a really long time, and I could probably do it a lot faster now because I could avoid some of the pitfalls. But I always intended to go back to WWE, and as the years went by, I kept in touch," stated Morrison. "I was never on bad terms with anyone and I remember whenever they were in LA, I'd visit. And I want to say, 2016-17, I had a conversation with [Mark] Carrano and he said, 'We'd love to have you back, although, if you sign again with Lucha Underground, it's probably not going to happen'...and I signed again with Lucha.
"It wasn't a 'Screw you, WWE' thing, it was just, 'take the shot.' It's not even a sure thing. It was just - I wasn't finished with the post on Boone. I was in the midst of things, I had a lot of things going. Lucha Underground, I liked it. I always feel like that's an underrated show that a lot of people missed out on, and they made me a really, really nice offer.
"Lucha Underground did and I took it in a nervous way because, you know, you always want to finish where you start in wrestling, especially if you started in WWE. You want to finish at the highest level, and I'd always seen having my final run at WWE. So when I hit Vince up and Carrano up about coming back, I was really excited when they seemed interested. I'll put it that way."
Now at 40 years old, Morrison knows he has more years in the ring behind him that in front of him. Or, at least, that's what most people would think, whereas Morrison won't define when his final run will be.
"I mean, yeah, my final run - let me explain what a run is. I mean, I'm still on like a 17-year run from when I started. So, this final run could mean 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, who knows? 17 more years? That's what I mean. Whatever happens, I'd like to finish out at WWE," revealed Morrison.
When Superstars leave WWE, some say the grass isn't always greener on the other side while others say it's the best decision they ever made. Morrison was asked what it's like leaving WWE.
"The, 'maybe I should have stayed' moment usually doesn't come for a year or two. When you leave and you're glad to be gone, the world is there. You can take whatever you want, you're free, your time is your own. It's not having a paycheck for a couple of years. Then, you kind of start thinking like, 'Oh, shoot. Maybe I should have stayed,'" said Morrison, who then talked about performing on the indies.
"WWE is the biggest and the best organization of them all. It always will be, and I love wrestling. I clearly never stopped, but I guess to your point and to answer that question, I didn't feel that way. I never really did, actually, because I just felt like as far as wrestling went, there were so many opportunities and I was having fun. Like AAA, Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling, 5 Star Wrestling in the UK – all these little independent wrestling promotions that were really good, I got to wrestle for and I'm glad I did it.
"I don't think that - actually, a lot of guys from the roster came up from the independent scene did that. They were there. I never was because I was from Tough Enough, but being able to see what that is, all those people hustling, trying so hard, wrestling in small buildings with tough crowds, wrestling in small buildings with no crowds. That, to me, as far as my wrestling experience, was missing, and it would have always been missing if I didn't leave."
Morrison mentioned earlier that he always stated in touch with WWE, and he revealed when he felt it was time to discuss a return to the company he started out in.
"So when season four of Lucha ended, they have some stuff on their contracts where there's a tail, and the tail doesn't start until the episodes stop airing. So, I signed with Impact, and when everything was free and clear, I decided, 'I'm a free agent again, completely free, no ties anywhere. I'm going to figure out where do I want to go?' So, I talked to WWE and I talked to AEW, and I had a really good conversation with Vince, and they made me a really nice offer, and I ended up taking it," stated Morrison.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Chris Van Vliet Show with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.