EXCLUSIVE: AC Mack discusses ACTION Wrestling Title reign, his NXT appearance, AR Fox

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/09/01/exclusive-ac-mack-discusses-action-wrestling-title-reign-his-nxt-appearance-ar-fox/

 

AC Mack made his pro wrestling debut in 2016 and after four years in the wrestling business, he has made many of individuals aware of him. Mack is the reigning ACTION Wrestling Champion and has been the promotion’s champion coming up on a full two years. Mack is in his 20s and has competed for EVOLVE, WWE and a handful of other promotions in the United States.

I had the opportunity to interview AC Mack and among the many topics we discussed, the first he elaborated on was his lengthy reign as ACTION Champion. He spoke about how important the promotion has made him feel and them putting faith in him to have this tenure as their champion. He spoke about how the promotion views him and seeing his title reign as a reward.

“It means everything to me because for one, ACTION is a home base, for me. They’ve invested a lot in me and I would like to think I’ve returned that in the performances. To me, the main thing that comes to mind or the main word I should say that comes to mind is trust. They trust you to go out there and deliver no matter what, no matter where you are on the card, no matter how much time you have. They trust you to be a representation of the company as a whole. Not just there, but when you go elsewhere. When you’re at another show in a different state and you walk out with that championship, they’re gonna associate you and your likeness, your image, your attitude, your persona, they’re gonna compare all that or associate that with ACTION. So it meant a lot to me to be able to take that belt to S.U.P. in Boston. It meant a lot to me. It’s not just a prop. A lot of wrestlers see it just as a prop. For me it’s a little bit more. It shows that the company knows that you’re the man, they trust you and it’s just a reward, so that’s how I look at it.”

The COVID-19 pandemic put a delay on many people’s plans around the world but specifically on the wrestling front, one of the many shows cancelled by way of the pandemic was Game Changer Wrestling and AJ Gray’s ‘For The Culture’ show during WrestleMania weekend. The likes of Faye Jackson, Myron Reed, Calvin Tankman and many more talented black performers were scheduled for the show that was set to showcase African-American wrestlers.

AC Mack was also scheduled for that show and he spoke about about how excited he was for the event.

“Listen, I can not tell you how depressed I was from that. For those of you who are watching, GCW is probably the hottest or the most important independent promotion in the country. Between them and Beyond, they’re like at the top, and I was set to make my debut like you said. Mania week for EFFY’s Pride show and then AJ ‘For The Culture’ and ACTION was doing a double-header with Black Label Pro, like a combo show. So, I was really excited. I had friends up here who were coming down for it, I had friends who moved to Florida who were gonna drive to it and it’s Mania week. That’s the biggest week for wrestling fans so it was gonna be so many more eyes on you and so much more exposure and it all just got ripped away so that was really, really hard to stomach. Really, really hard to have to give that vacation time back, get the refund for the Mania ticket, not being able to do the shows. It was a bit much so, it definitely hit pretty hard.”

A spotlighted moment in AC Mack’s career came in December of 2018 when he wrestled Dominik Dijakovic in Dijakovic’s NXT TV debut. Mack detailed his experience backstage at Full Sail and what it was like to be under the WWE banner for one night. He talked about Norman Smiley being the agent for his match, how nice Dijakovic was to him and meeting both Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Shawn Michaels.

 

“It was nerve-wracking in the best way possible, because I had two friends who went down there as an extra separately on two different occasions and all they kinda did was stand around, they wore their suits backstage. They were kind of runners. They would help out whenever needed so I went down there expecting to do that, which was perfectly fine. I just wanted to be in the room, I wanted to rub elbows, I wanted to be able to network and just kind of start from there. When I pulled up, we had to be there at 1 PM. They started the tapings at like 7:30, so they told me, ‘Hey, you’re Mr. Mackey? Ok cool. You have a match with Dijak at the third episode taping. Go over there, get your second physical done. Your name is Aaron Mackey, fill this out’ and he started to walk away. I was like, ‘Wait a minute, hold on. First of all, thank you. I have a sh*t ton of questions. I’ve never done this before so let’s not — I’m still a newbie here’ and I met Dijak and he was extremely nice. Oh my God. Way nicer than he should’ve been. Gave me a tour of the entire place, told me who to talk to, who to stay away from. I don’t think — William Regal wasn’t there. I did meet Shawn Michaels. He seemed like he had something going on personally so he wasn’t around the extras a lot. He seemed kinda down for whatever reason. I met Triple H, who’s one of my all-time favorites so for him to kinda come over and talk to us and just kind of ease our nerves and get us excited for the show, that meant a lot to me to see how involved he was with NXT. That made me have even more respect for him if that was even possible. Norman Smiley was our agent for the match, so that was real cool. He kinda came over there and just helped us out. It was a very, very short match but you’ll be surprised at how detailed they are with putting everything together, making sure you sell a certain way, making sure you catch each camera out there. There’s a sh*t ton of cameras y’all. A sh*t ton of cameras and a sh*t ton of lights. I remember getting there and thinking, I was surprised at how small the venue was. Like this side had all your fans and this side had lights, just nothing but lights so, it was real cool.”

Continuing on the topic, Mack talked about the aftermath of his match against Dijakovic. Mack was met was some constructive criticism from Norman Smiley about his selling but overall, Norman and the rest of the NXT crew were happy with the match. He also recalled Paul Levesque and Kevin Owens being on the monitor/headset for the tapings.

“So it’s not a whole lot of room, but Triple H is watching. At the time for whatever reason, Kevin Owens was backstage. I guess he was just hanging out, watching the show. But they were both on the monitors. Norman Smiley was right here and he gave me the critiques as soon as I came out. They loved the entrance. They said it was great for it to be so last minute and you not to know. I was like thank God, because I just walked out there. I just winged it, and he was like… ‘You don’t wanna sell so much in the beginning.’ It was a little bit of the gaga in the beginning and that was on me. That was definitely on me because I was trying to get some more TV time because it was a short match and I was trying to elongate it a little bit more.”

The current state of America is not in a solid place and hasn’t been for quite some time as the treatment of African-Americans in the country continues to be unequal which is shown through police brutality. Both AC Mack and myself discussed this topic in-depth during the interview and shared our respective thoughts on the topic. One question that I presented to Mack was if what is and has happened to Black people in America ever affected him while he was in the ring. He says there have been times when he has watched a video of police brutality involving African-Americans and while he may not initially react, it later creeps into his mind while in the ring.

“I don’t wanna say damper. I think a good word for it would be… well motivation sounds weird too because it’s such a bad thing, but it’s a certain type of grit. It’s a certain type of pain that makes you work harder. So when you’re out there performing and I’ll just speak for myself, but when you’re out there performing — so you might watch something and we spoke about this earlier about sometimes it desensitizes you to it. You’re just so used to seeing it that you might not react initially. Sometimes it hits you while you’re performing. So, you might be able to pull that anger out or that frustration out and then channel that energy into your performance. I know there’s been plenty of times I’ve been in the ring and I’ll lose myself, because of stuff like that or I’ll be watching it back and thinking, ‘I don’t remember doing that. I don’t know where that came from.’ I think that’s a type of anger and a type of pain and a type of struggle that it comes out in the performance rather than spilling it out on social media and saying the wrong thing when you shouldn’t have said it. I think the best way and the safest way is for it to spill out in your art. So, in a way it kinda helps. It makes us work harder. We know what the issue is, but it’s about time to take action. Being specific with what we want. A lot of people are saying, ‘You’re marching but what do you want? You’re saying defund the police or this, this and that but what does that mean? What do you want?’ So I think it’s about time we get more concise. So, I think that’s at least what I’m taking from all of this.”

AC Mack was trained in Atlanta, Georgia by AR Fox. Mack has drawn a great deal of inspiration from AR Fox and went on to praise Fox while speaking about him. Mack feels that his trainer, much like Fred Yehi is too humble when it comes to taking the credit that is deservedly theirs. Mack feels that Fox is one of the best wrestlers in the world and after training under him, he’s aware that Fox is far more than what he has been labeled as in-ring wise.

Mack went on to speak about what Fox taught him and how he’s been able to take those tools and apply them wherever he’s gone in wrestling.

“It’s insane to me. They’re both — especially Fox. They’re both — I think they’re . ‘He’s only a high-flyer, he’s an indie guy’ but no, it’s not the case at all. We’re learning holds, we’re learning how to wrestle for TV. Nobody is pigeon-holed there. You can be whatever wrestler you wanna be. I don’t consider myself no indie high-flying guy but I was able to still learn from Fox because he was able to meet me where I was and help me there. No matter what idea you bring to him, whether it’d be in the ring or out of the ring, he always is able to take it, internalize it and make it better. No matter what style it is. I’ve seen him work every style so, all that other stuff is just a bunch of — I think he is pound-for-pound, legit one of the best there is out there. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve been places, I’ve seen how people are and he deserves to be right there with them if not above ‘em so…”

AC Mack has several dates lined up over the next few weeks as he’ll be competing at ACTION Wrestling’s show this month and he’ll be in action for St. Louis Anarchy as well. Towards the end of our chat, he teased that there are some things lined up in October that he can not reveal just yet.

Our full interview can be watched via the video player at the top of this article or on the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel. AC Mack can be found on both Twitter and Instagram @AC_Mack and his merchandise store can be found by clicking here.

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