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No stranger to adversity, 19-year-old Patrick Clark, Jr. looked like a force to be reckoned with on WWE Tough Enough. But in a surprising turn of events, he was eliminated last night. With independent wrestling experience already under his belt, Patrick talked with us about returning to his roots, dealing with loss, and his plan to move forward.
With Spandex: What have you been doing since the elimination last night?
Patrick Clark: I’ve pretty much been thinking about my next step. I’m planning on going to training tomorrow at Maryland Championship Wrestling’s training academy… I’m looking forward to taking my first booking since I’ve done the competition this Saturday.
The theme of this week was humility. Looking back, do you feel like you could have taken a more soft-spoken approach, or would that not have been an honest version of yourself?
PC: I don’t think I should have taken a soft-spoken approach. This is who I am, you either like it or you don’t. That’s how I’ve come across this entire competition… I went to go light a fire under ZZ [on this week’s episode], I feel like that was ultimately what cost me in the end. People are soft nowadays, they don’t like to see that.
You’ve said that pro wrestling was vital in coping with the death of your father. To someone who might not understand, how would you describe the escapism that WWE provides?
PC: WWE provided me an aspect of life where you see a bunch of jacked-up men with these huge personalities. They were my father figures. Those were the guys I looked up to… Kurt Angle, Undertaker, Triple H, Vince McMahon. They were role models for me since day one. I know it might sound a little phony, but it’s the truth… Going out there and ruthlessly taking whatever you want in life, that has always appealed to me.
We’re WWE fans, but here at With Spandex we also love independent wrestling. Can you talk about your experience on the East Coast indies?
PC: On June 3, 2014, I joined Maryland Championship Wrestling’s training academy… They trained me for about six to seven months, and I had my first match in February of 2015. I’ve wrestled for Maryland Championship Wrestling, World Xtreme Wrestling C4 with the Wild Samoans… just a plethora of indies all over that have given me the opportunity to improve my craft.
With the success of people like Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Paige, and Becky Lynch, do you feel like WWE fans are becoming more aware of independent talent?
PC: Oh, definitely. If you asked me five years ago what an independent wrestling company was, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, because all I saw was WWE. But I feel like the independents are in the best shape they’ve been in for a very long time… Ring of Honor stepping up [on Destination America] and becoming that number-two spot in the world, it really shows that the indies are starting to shift, and they’re getting more popular. And thanks to the success of Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and other guys who have made their way to the WWE coming from the indies, it just goes to show, don’t sleep on us. We’re here.
Reality TV isn’t a perfect representation of life. Do you feel like Tough Enough glazed over any aspects of your personality?
PC: No, that’s who I am, I just dialed it up to 100 percent. If you know me, you’ll see that I’m pretty much at 45 most of the time, but I dialed it up to 100. You got to see Patrick Clark as confident as ever.
Did you make any lasting friendships during your time with the cast?
PC: I made a friend in ZZ. I’m very hard on ZZ because he’s not hard enough on himself. He sometimes thinks he can lie back and take it, but ZZ, he’s my best friend in the house. We’re both 19, and we both kept each other in check.
Last week, Gabi picked you to win. Do you have any predictions, or would you rather not say, in case these picks turn out to be bad luck?
PC: Hey, if it’s bad luck, it’s not like I’m losing again, right? My predictions are Josh to take it for the guys, and Gigi to take it for the girls.
What’s next for you?
PC: Like I said, I start training tomorrow, I’m getting right back into bookings on the independents. And I’ve got to stay in contact with everyone I’ve had the fortunate blessing to meet here at WWE. I mean, I’d be a fool not to. So, my next step is to chase the dream again, just not through Tough Enough.
People like The Miz, Chris Jericho, and even Hulk Hogan seem confident that we haven’t seen the last of you. Until you pop up again, what would you like to say to the fans?
PC: I want to thank my supporters for following me this far on my journey, and I want them to know this is not the end. [The fans] have plenty of outlets to follow my journey back to the WWE… through my Twitter, my Instagram, my Periscope, and my Facebook.