Zack Clayton’s passion for pro wrestling and growing his career remains a top priority. The star, also seen on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation, has been on the grind for a number of years looking to make a name for himself. While others like The Miz have jumped from the TV realm to the ring, Clayton was already a regular on the independent scene well before meeting his now-fiancée Jenni “JWoww” Farley.
“I feel like the people I speak to now get me. They understand me. Getting the others who don’t understand me to understand is a challenge,” he said. “I was a professional wrestler first. That was my first love for seven years before other things. That’s what I want to do. That’s still in me. That’s my goal. The other things help. You can do other things outside of wrestling and still be successful. He used it the other way. He was on TV first and became a wrestler. I was and am a wrestler first. I always tell people that. It’s always what I want to be and focus on.”
After making appearances on AEW television in the last year Clayton hopes it opens the door for future opportunities with the promotion. He says communication remains open from the two sides.
“When there is availability, I’ll go down [to Jacksonville]. I still keep in touch with them all the time. I’m looking to go down as soon as possible and solidify something more solid because they are great and treat me very well and are great guys,” he said. “When I do business with somebody, that’s all I care about. Are they good people? Money is money. TV, all that stuff doesn’t matter unless you’re treated right by people. They do that for me.”
The COVID shutdown may have limited his wrestling dates, but he remained active in different ways. Clayton even got engaged in quarantine, documented this season on Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.
“Our relationship developed into a much bigger thing and a more important part of my life,” he added. “We were able to stay busy. We had skeleton crews shoot the show because we were still working whenever we could at the house. We’re doing home videos and things like that. It gave me a chance to expand my home gym. I wasn’t going to gyms, so I had to make do with what I had here. I have a pretty good facility in the basement in the house. So I don’t have to go back to the gym.”
Clayton sees the wrestling landscape as a rebranding overall thanks to the new world we live in today. A restart.
“AEW did a fantastic job during the shutdown and did new things and bounced back,” he said. “Touring is starting again. It’s a new kick, which I think everyone needs to get pro wrestling back and sports back and entertainment back and life back in general.”
Clayton credits his wife-to-be with helping him think more about expanding name value, branding, and business. He says they work together as a unit.
“Jenni, and I might be a little biased, but I think she is the one from the Jersey Shore cast that has taken that and evolved it into so much more,” he said. “She has helped me tweak ideas and come up with ideas that I did not have. New ways to do things. She has helped me a lot, especially branding. Getting myself out there.
“She helped me become not so introverted. It’s weird because she is a very introverted person. She helped me break out, which was a very good thing. You can never stop marketing and branding and selling in my opinion. She helps me a lot, and I`m very grateful for that.”
When it comes to breaking out of his shell, Clayton is a work in progress. He’ll cut promos at home. Given what we see on Jerzdays, believe it or not, Jenni isn’t one for trash talk.
“Jenni hates cameras. It’s so funny because you would think the opposite. She hates being the center of attention,” he said. “If I’m practicing promo or something I tell her, ‘Okay, you go.’ She is like, ‘No.’ I can film myself and all that stuff, but she can’t. She hates it. She hates hearing her voice, and I do too. A lot of times I don’t go back and watch episodes of things because I don’t like watching myself either.”
With the country opening up a bit more, the potential for a busier schedule is there. Clayton is ready to get back out there in front of crowds on a regular basis.
“Jenni understands it for sure,” he said. “I hope we are able to balance the trip and travel. We separately have a lot of travel with the other things we do like for MTV. We can make those things work too. Wrestling is a priority for me. We’re going to make whatever work. That’s the way we’re going to go about it.”
Jersey Shore: Family Vacation airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on MTV. You can find Clayton’s full interview via the embedded players below: