This past January, AC Mack defeated Alex Shelley to become IWTV Independent Wrestling World Champion. With his victory, Mack became the first openly gay male world champion in the history of pro wrestling.
He spoke about the title win and the accolades that came with it during our interview. It was the first time I’ve gotten to chat with A.C. since our first interview in 2020. He shared that he had several anxiety attacks leading up to the match with Shelley.
He explained that things were and have been overwhelming in the best way possible and if one were to ever be overwhelmed, the experience he’s having is the one he’d prefer.
What’s so funny is that I have really bad anxiety when it comes to performing and that whole week leading up to that match . It was just the beginning but the beginning of something great but the beginning for sure. I always tell people, all of it has been overwhelming in the best way possible. This is the type of overwhelmed that you wanna be. To be able to cut that promo right after the match, everything felt great, everything just kind of fell into place. I personally think that’s the best time for any wrestler to cut a promo, right after your match and you’re still fired up and zooted from the match itself. You still have that post-match high. It’s not cold as some would say so I think it’s the best time and the stars were aligned, they gave me a few bullet points to hit during the promo and the rest was up to me so, I just kind of had some fun with it, put some sugar on it and we went from there. My boyfriend was in the ring with me along with everybody else and at the time, we were dating for a few months. We weren’t even official right there in the ring. I kind of asked him, I don’t wanna say privately, because everybody can see. It was kind of a whisper like, ‘Hey, you ready to do this? We talked about it but, now seems like a good time to make it official.’
The crowd in attendance for the aforementioned championship match in Tyrone, Georgia was pro-AC Mack. When Shelley arrived in front of the audience, he was showered in boos.
A.C. was the crowd favorite as members of that audience saw his entire career play out. Mack credited Shelley for leaning into the heel role for the night, adding that the promo Shelley cut beforehand, Mack was not aware he was going to do that and described Shelley as a professional.
There were so many things going through my head and being nervous and everything that I didn’t even think about how divided or how one-sided the crowd would be . I didn’t think about that at all but when his music hit, he was walking out there and you’re right, they booed the sh*t out of him. I was like, woah! Oh yeah, I guess that makes sense. I didn’t think about that and then I did my intro and he cut a promo on the fly. We didn’t talk about that at all. He just leaned into it more. That’s the professional that he is and he was like, okay, if this is the story and this is what we’re going with, then bet. This is how it’s going to go and I just thought that was even cooler. It made it that much better.
With the title win being one of the highlights of Mack’s Title reign, he is pleased to know that the win is not the only highlight.
Thus far, Mack has had over 20 successful defenses of the IWTV Wrestling World Championship. He feels this run he’s on is the best stretch of his six-year career so far.
We’re almost at 2023. I have to look at the stats again but I think I’m either the second or third highest most defenses in the belt’s history… There has been so many more moments outside of the win. So many more opponents that I’m so glad I’ve gotten to get in the ring with, so many promotions I’ve gotten to defend the belt at, so many regions now that we’re taking it to. We had a whole season of Uncharted Territory that was kicked off by this reign and we were able to put the spotlight on so many guys from the southeast who deserve to be seen on a national scale, you know? So I love that when people look back at this reign, they’re gonna think of the ‘Southeast First’ movement, they’re gonna think of storytelling, they’re gonna think of promo work, they’re gonna think of the big national, civil rivalry between the northeast and the southeast so, and I just had a defense in LA. That was my first time taking the belt on the west coast so doing a lot of firsts here with this and I’m very, very proud of that. So proud of that and like you said, we’re still going. I still got the belt. It’s not over. We just announced more… We got Alec Price coming up, we got Hoodfoot coming up. We got some big, big things happening. Man, I’m so excited. Easily the best year of my career so far.
Spotlighting the southern independent scene is a priority for AC Mack. He’s expressed sentiment in media appearances and post-match promos. When he won the IWTV Title, he felt there was an opportunity to highlight the region that he came up in.
There was a bit of back and forth on social media between A.C. and Beyond Wrestling promoter Drew Cordeiro, with Mack noting that the southern independents will no longer be overlooked.
He told me that the situation was a blend of storyline and reality. He felt that when the public generally thought of hotspots on the indies, the northern portion of the U.S. was thought about. Mack recounted when he and Cordeiro were exchanging tweets, there were wrestlers and fans who were backing him and genuinely upset with Cordeiro.
It was so important to me , I ain’t gonna name any names but I had some people ready to go. Like, let’s get in the car and pull up. Like what’s up? I was like, ‘Yo chill, chill, chill, chill.’ But that’s what it means, that’s how real it is for us so for me to make that statement, it rejuvenated us once again and we were able to go and do something special with Uncharted Territory and I made the promise that the belt was being held hostage and I’m not defending it anywhere else and then on July 1st, we had the press conference and I made the announcement that we’re no longer holding this hostage because with Uncharted Territory, we’re able to bring that needed exposure that we fought so hard for. So in a way it was like, okay, we’ve completed the mission, now what? So we completed the mission and I’m like, okay, y’all been talking sh*t this whole time. ‘Oh, he’s not a real world champion because he’s not going nowhere,’ blah, blah, blah. Okay, bet, let’s open this up. Let’s send out some contracts, let’s see who accepts. So now I gotta defense in L.A. like I said, I got one in Houston, I got one in Indiana, we got one in Jersey. I’m a man of my word. I am a world champion but we have to get the point across first. That was the whole point so, that’s why it’s been so important. It’s like, hey, we’ve been saying X, Y and Z and nobody’s listening. Now I got the belt. Okay, now you have no choice but to listen to me and that’s why it was important. I like microphones and I needed to get the biggest microphone on the indies and that way, everybody could hear me.
Since 2018, Mack has been part of the Georgia-based promotion ACTION Wrestling. He was asked to explain what ACTION means to his pro wrestling career.
He said the promotion has played a role in helping him get all the exposure he has now. Mack highlighted ACTION Wrestling promoter Matt Griffin and the promotion’s fans for being with him on his journey. He threw in a stat and said he’s been on every ACTION show since the promotion’s launch.
It’s so funny, first of all, ACTION .
This month, Mack has three defenses of the IWTV World Title lined up. On 10/7, he’ll be facing Shazza McKenzie, 10/16 against Hoodfoot and 10/22 versus Alec Price. AC Mack can be found on both Twitter and Instagram @AC_Mack.
To hear the audio version of our conversation, click on the video player at the beginning of this article or head over to the Andrew Thompson Interviews YouTube channel.