In a recent discussion with Highspot Superstore’s Turbo Tuesday, AEW’s Jake Atlas opened up about one of his biggest influences in pro wrestling: Edge.
The Rated R Superstar actually made a lasting impression on him when he visited NXT and gave a pep talk about mental health.
“During COVID, he came and spoke to us for a few hours where we all sat down and we got to learn from Adam Copeland. He was very adamant that during that whole speech, that we addressed him as such, and I really took a lot out of him. Because he didn’t really talk much, he did talk about wrestling, obviously, that’s what he made his career in. But he talked more about the mental health side of what we do and that to me was just, at a time when I was confused, wanted out by any means necessary, and was just having a miserable time.
“And just hearing him speak about how important it is to have something out of wrestling, and have something out of it. You know, at the time I was with WWE, having something outside of WWE, that you’re not always talking about WWE. You’re not always talking about wrestling and having something that is for you. He would always speak about every time he introduces himself he’s like, ‘I’m Edge,’ sorry, ‘I’m Adam’.
“And just that kind of distinction was just so powerful coming from him. And he said, ‘I was in a dark place when I just mixed the two together. The second I separated, I was like, ‘this is who I am,’ was just a beautiful thing’. That was the one thing I most remember, and he gave us all his number, and I said, ‘text me with any critiques on matches.”
Jake Atlas elaborated more on the difficult times he faced emotionally when he was still in WWE NXT. He points to uncertainty about his identity and how he wanted to present himself as something that spawned sadness.
“It was just a really weird time of my life and you kind of touched on a little bit saying that maybe doing the grind outside of WWE would’ve maybe toughened me up a little bit and shown me a different side of wrestling that I would’ve, that I kind jumped into when I got hired,” Jake said. “And I think it just, my whole life I’ve struggled with identity issues and, you know, trying not to be a different person than I am to you, or her, or him, and all of that comes with struggles of my sexuality. And on top of that, I’m sure clinical depression and anxiety. But just all of that just coming down on me, on the entire time that I was there because I just didn’t know who I was.
“And not only that, I wasn’t someone like Timothy Thatcher getting signed who had an identity. Or someone like a Kross, who had an identity before coming. Like I was finding my stride barely when they saw me and got hired. And it was just a lot of pressure, and there were times I would cry before I would go to work because I just didn’t want to go. Like I was scared and I would hate myself, and I wouldn’t take criticism well and I didn’t want to wrestle anymore at times, probably pretty early on because I just didn’t have any confidence anymore.
“It was shot from me. You know, I think it takes two, right? I think, I think a lot of it came from the company and I think a lot came from my own unwillingness of not being able to stand up for myself and speak up for what I believe, or even if it’s just finding my voice. Like, ‘hey, I don’t want to talk like that, or I don’t say that’. Not having that plays a part, but it was very, very, very dark and I feel like I had no one.”
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Highspot Superstore’s Turbo Tuesday with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
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