The collective jaws of viewers watching “Tough Enough” on USA Network dropped this week when Patrick Clark Jr.’s name was called for elimination.
The competitor’s passion and knowledge for the product, combined with his athletic ability, made him a frontrunner to win the reality show competition. However, Clark received the lowest amount of votes compared to Josh and ZZ.
“My first thought was hopefully I could win a Slammy for Shocker of the Year,” he said.
“Second thought was disappointment. I definitely didn’t think I should have been the one going home out of the bottom three, but it is what it is. You live and you learn…I feel like as far as that particular episode goes, the audience didn’t like the way I tried to motivate ZZ. It was understandable. I was pretty much the bad guy on the show. My confidence ended up being an error for me and proved to be my downfall.”
The night was an overall humbling experience for the 19-year-old.
“If it’s not the Big Show laying his frying pan-like hand on your chest, it’s definitely Paige calling you out,” he said.
“And if it’s not Paige calling you out, it’s being eliminated from possibly getting your dream job.”
The unexpected results garnered this uproar on social media from not only fans, but those in the industry. The groundswell of support for the Washington D.C. native was surely evident on all fronts. For Clark, the show wasn’t what he expected it to be.
“I thought it would be more wrestling related,” he said.
“I don’t know if you saw what Mick Foley tweeted, but he said I made the mistake of thinking ‘Tough Enough’ was a wrestling show and not a reality show. I honestly did make that mistake. Five weeks was not enough time for me to fix it.
“…It’s an honor to have Mick Foley and Jim Ross, two WWE Hall of Famers, not only notice the effort I put in for ‘Tough Enough,’ but to take time out of their schedules to comment on it. To know it meant so much to a guy like Mick Foley, who may not even watch the program anymore, it’s really a shock to me. That tells me he felt highly of me. That’s a blessing and an honor in itself.”
Clark feels indebted to WWE for helping get through some of the most challenging points of his life. With the pageantry and escapism the company provided, he was hooked and found something and someone to believe in.
“My father was taken from me when I was two years old and as a coping mechanism I watched TV,” he said.
“I tried to find my father figure through there. I needed something more realistic than cartoons, and I found that through sports entertainment and WWE. My first memory was seeing The Undertaker appear in the ring. The lights go out and it’s pitch black darkness. Kurt Angle looks and turns around to see this figure in all black. It’s The Undertaker. Undertaker picks him up, puts the Tombstone on him in the middle of the ring. The lights dim, and the show goes on. I thought that was magic to me. I felt like these guys were cool. I thought this guy was a badass and couldn’t believe he just did that. I wanted to be him.”
At around age 12, the youngster realized sports entertainment was something he wanted to pursue. He wanted to give back to the company that gave him so much to look forward to in life. Clark, whose background includes wrestling for the Forestville Military Academy, began his pro wrestling training last June in the beginner class of Maryland Championship Wrestling’s Training Center.
“My coach Pat Brink actually had a developmental contract in FCW twice. He competed under Calvin Raines and Kaleb O’Neal. He really prepared me for what to expect as far as the physical and mental mind of WWE. I felt going into it, this helped me.”
Through his experience on the show, Clark is also grateful for Chris Jericho’s insight.
“He was the most helpful,” he said.
“He is the host of the show. He only sees us on Tuesdays, but takes time out of his schedule to come to the back and speak to us after the show. He gives advice every single episode to better myself so I could stay another week. It’s incredible. He doesn’t have to do that. He is a future WWE Hall of Famer taking time out to help a kid trying to break into the business.”
The proud member of the WWE Universe will always remember witnessing “Monday Night Raw” in Atlanta, or “Patlanta” as he likes to call it. The capacity crowd gave Clark a positive reception and a level of acceptance he will carry with him as he takes the next step. Clark now heads back to MCW to train and plans to take an independent book this weekend. The driven athlete also wants to stay in contact with everyone and anyone in WWE that he was fortunate to get in contact with while on the show.
“I can see myself being close to what CM Punk was like in WWE,” Clark said.
“I want my voice to be heard. I want to let people know they can let their voices to be heard, too. You can get what you want if you fight hard enough for it. That’s basically my life story that is going to carry on no matter where I go. I speak my mind and let it be heard. People like that.”
As for who Clark thinks is going to take home the $250,000 contracts, his picks are Josh and GiGi.
“Josh has proven himself since he has been here,” he said.
“Injuries stopped him with football, so he wants to play a sport and participate in a competition. He is a competitor. He is ready to move. He has his family ready to move. Whether he wins or loses, he wants to come to Florida to start a journey at NXT. GiGi has shown so much growth. She was this sweet little girl. Then on one episode she showed she can be this, you know what. She is ahead of the girls as far as the competition goes. She is on a roll. She is improving every single week.”
Clark remains motivated to have his WWE superstar aspirations become a reality.
“Triple H, at the beginning of this competition, told me to be myself and trust my instincts,” he said.
“Don’t come in here thinking this is how a wrestler acts or how a wrestler talks. Just be yourself because people have seen wrestlers since the 1970s and even before then. They want to see something real. They want to see Patrick Clark.”
Photos Courtesy: WWE