Wrestle: List recently interviewed former WWE star Zach Gowen. Below are some highlights from the interview:

Meeting WWE Creative:

"They asked me "Where do you see yourself? How do you see your character?" And I'm this underdog guy that's just kind of grateful to be there and to show people that what they think are their limitations we can exceed those through hard work and dedication. And it's kind of this feel good story. Everybody seemed to agree with me and then I fly home and Bruce Pritchard calls me and he's like "So we're going to have you on Smackdown next week with Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper! So I said "Great!" (laughs)"

Struggling mentally with the WWE:

"I was so completely insecure the way I acted was to overcompensate for that. And I think that's where people get that I have an ego from, or I was arrogant, because my actions reflected that. Truth be told, I wasn't emotionally ready to receive the gift that they were giving me. I was 19 years old and I'd had about 20 matches before the WWE signed me. There were guys there that had been wrestling 10, 15 or 20 years. I didn't have enough respect for the art form coming into the place. Mixed with immaturity and insecurity and that comes across as an ego."

Struggles with drugs and alcohol:

"I left WWE and I don't think getting fired caused me to turn into an alcoholic and an addict I think it definitely propelled me towards that direction. I think I was headed towards that path whether I was in WWE or not. If you look at the studies, they say alcoholics and addicts have pretty much two things in common which is childhood trauma, and a close relative with a strong genetic trait or disposition to alcoholism. And I had both of those things, and so I think I was on that path already.

"But the thing is, I thought I was going to be a WWE superstar forever, and then that gets taken away from me, and then once that gets taken away from me then the fame of being recognized gets taken away from me. Once that's gone, and then the money dries up, and the girls stop coming around, and then all of a sudden everything is gone and I'm left with myself. And at this point I don't like myself at all.

"My biggest opponent wasn't the Big Show or Brock Lesnar, it was the man in the mirror. There was some kind of void inside of me. And drugs and alcohol work really really well to fill that. That was my constant and that was what I turned to. I pursued that high aggressively for a long time and it took me to a lot of deep, dark places."

Source: Wrestle List