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(Photo Credit: AEW)
Stokely Hathaway made his AEW debut this past May at Double Or Nothing, which came not long after he was released from his WWE NXT contract on April 29. It was reported that Hathaway turned down a contract renewal not long before his release. Hathaway recently appeared on The Sessions with Renee Paquette, and discussed why he left NXT, checking himself into a mental institution, and more. Below are highlights:
Why he didn’t stay with NXT when the contract extension was offered, checking himself into a mental institution:
“It was really interesting because I think I would say that a lot of people kind of looked at me as if I was the bad guy. I kind of get it, or I do get it, because you know, I’m sure they’re were plenty of people who would kill to be in the position that I was in. At the time, like, I just couldn’t do it, you know? I never really said why. I did a comedy show and like, I alluded to it, but the wrong message came across from that show. So, I mean, to be completely honest, in February, I woke up one day, and like, I just felt miserable. Like, I just felt, I guess the right word would be crazy, right? Like, I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what was going on. It kind of went away, and then it kept increasing to the point where like, it was just debilitating. So, you know, I voluntarily just committed myself. This was on a Friday. I think I got out on Sunday. It was a very interesting experience mainly because I would say in Florida, it’s like, prison for the mentally ill. So when I went in, I had no idea what I was in for. I was in kind of, like a cell. It was like, no real sheets. It was just like a metal frame that you laid on. Like, obviously, like the sink was, you know, one of those things that was like, rigged to where you know, it was like motion detected. It gave you like a little thing of soap, a little thing of toothpaste. It was literally like, you couldn’t go into your room until 8 or 9 PM and then you had to wake up at 6 AM. Then you just walk the floor. It’s like, that was it, like you just like walk back and forth to fill up the time. So that was like three days of that, and then afterwards, I was like, maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought.”
What led to Hathaway making the decision to check himself in:
“I think it was just trying to just manage everything. I do regret leaning into the being funny thing, because I think it’s hard for people to take you seriously. So like, who am I going to say, ‘Oh yeah, like, I feel this way, I feel that way.’ Like, I don’t think there was anyone to really like, listen or that I could talk to. Then especially with like social media, like everything nowadays, like it’s, one, it’s hard to take people seriously, and two, I feel like, I don’t want to say it’s like a thing to use mental health as like a crutch, but I just felt like no one would believe me if I said, ‘Hey, like, I feel this way or feel that way.’ So I just felt like it was the right thing for me to do.”
What he thinks may have caused this:
“I think for me, there was a lot of pressure. I think there’s always a lot of pressure because I feel like as a black talent, I get judged more harshly than other people. Like, I feel like everything I do is analyzed, over analyzed, right? Obviously, everyone gets a critique, but I feel like mine is at a different level, and I’m also incredibly hard on myself. So like, it was one of those things where I’m hard on myself. I had to realize that like, it’s wrestling. It’s just wrestling. This isn’t a live or die situation. So for me, it was just dealing with that, and it was also like, you know, again, I regret leaning into the funny thing, because, you know, like, I’m very, like, very introverted, like, very closed off, and I went, ‘You know what? I have this small circle of people that I trust. I should probably utilize that.’”
If he feels there were moments when he was not connecting with the audience of if there were times he had confidence issues:
“I mean, I think it’s one now, to be honest. Everything that was supposed to happen, like, with The Firm, did not happen. I think if people back at All Out, and you know, what happened immediately after the pay-per-view, that’s a huge part of it. Who we were supposed to directly feud with is no longer in the company, and that was one thing that I was looking forward to because I was hand chosen for that role. So, you know, I’m just gonna say it. I don’t know the specifics, like people are choosing sides, whatever. I just know, for me, the fact that CM Punk said, ‘Hey, I want to work with this guy’, like that holds a lot of weight. It means a lot, you know, regardless of what has happened, what will happen. So when that didn’t happen anymore, it was literally rewriting everything on the fly. So you know, everyone in the group is trying to do their best, but we are trying to figure out how to make this work because the original purpose isn’t the purpose anymore, so it’s like, what are we going to do? With Ethan Page right now, I think he’s doing great. I think The Gunns are doing great. Lee, you know, he’s gonna go into this feud with Hook. So like, things are slowly, you know, no pun intended, gearing up, it’s just gonna take a few weeks, and I think the way wrestling is nowadays is, I get it, first impressions are everything, but it seems like it’s a little bit difficult to change people’s minds or to get people into like, you know, obviously I get it. Most people do not want to see Picasso work on this painting. They just want to see the shit done. So I think that’s the phase that we’re in. We are working on it, but people don’t want to see anyone working on it. They want to see the finished product, which I completely understand, but at the same time, it’s like we’re all human.”
Below is the full interview with Hathaway:
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(H/T to WrestlingNews for the quotes)
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