Cezar Bononi, who was in NXT for five years until he was one of the pandemic releases, was a guest on fellow former NXT talent Dan Matha’s Spark in the Dark podcast.
Bononi spoke about how WWE didn’t want to help him get a Green Card, instead trying to tell him that a P1 visa was better, which would mean if WWE were to fire him, he and his wife would have had to go back to Brazil. Instead, he contacted an attorney and he ended up getting an EB2, which is given to people with exceptional abilities in sports and arts.
“It was hard to adapt. It was really hard adapting. It’s just me and my wife and it’s nobody close. Everybody told us, ‘don’t get close to Brazilians [in Florida] because Brazilians are gonna scam you,’ and we really believed that, even though we did not need to work with Brazilians so there’s no way we could get scammed by other Brazilians. We believed that so — that was a mistake that I did, because we were feeling alone. We did not have money to do anything. It took me two and a half years to go to [an] amusement park, living in Orlando, because money was so short that I could not do anything like that. It took them [WWE] a long time for them to help me out a little bit. Like, ‘Hey, here’s a raise.’ It took me almost two years. So, I was getting $600 for like six months [per week] then, when I finally got paid off, it felt like a raise because I was getting $750. Oh cool, I can buy a TV right now, but I cannot get cable and that’s how it was. It was hard in the beginning but that also helped me build my character even more.”
At one stage it looked like Bononi was on his way to becoming a major star in NXT. He had a TV win over Andrade to his name, and was even given the ‘Future Star of NXT’ award for 2017.
Since September he’s been a regular at AEW tapings, working a total of five matches to date for Dark. He said on the podcast that the first thing he did when he was released was speak with Shawn Spears, who put him in contact with AEW management.
Quote via POST Wrestling