During a recent interview with Denise Salcedo for her Instinct Culture, former WWE Superstar Jake Atlas commented on finding out that he had been released from WWE, contracting COVID-19 in June, and more. You can check out some highlights from the interview below:
On finding out about his release: “I was at dinner, it was that Friday night and I got a call from WWE incorporated. So that must mean that I don’t have the contact because that was the caller ID. So I was like ‘that’s interesting, anyone that has to call me, I have their name saved.’ There’s a lot that needs to be unraveled, but I’ll answer your question first then we can dive into the specifics. It was John Laurinaitis who I’ve never had a conversation with, he called me and he said that they are executing my 30-day non-compete clause and that was that. It was a 20 second conversation, I didn’t ask any questions, I was already expecting it and I kinda just numbed myself for the phone call.”
On asking for his release a month before he was let go: “About a month or two before that happened, I won’t get into the specifics about the actual conversations, but I’ll give a little insight on what was going on behind closed doors. I signed a three year deal with WWE, so around June/July I got offered a contract extension by Canyon Ceman, I turned it down. For my own reasons, we had a conversation and I said we could revisit it in 6 months. Little did I know that within that conversation, between that conversation and whenever I got released, as you are aware there are a lot of changes going on with that company and I started to get a little bit nervous. My entire run in WWE was the most, and I don’t know how to word this, it was probably the worst mentally I have ever been. My mental health was probably the worst it’s ever been, the last two years that I was with WWE. So when I turned down the contract extension, I counter offered with some terms of my own and I more than anything wanted a meeting with Triple H and our conversations were kind of at a standstill and as you know Canyon ended up getting let go himself. So then that put me in a really weird situation, I had asked Canyon for my release at some point in our conversations, it wasn’t a ‘I wanna leave,’ it was more so a conversation of ‘ I want to be here, and feel like I have so much value and I feel like I am not being heard.’ I had requested a meeting with Triple H for 6 months, and I never got it. I think that that was the thing that kinda had me worrying the most in that ‘I don’t know how they see me, or how they view me, or how they value me.’ There were a lot of things that I wanted to do and talk about and I was just given the runaround. So I said that ‘I wanted to ask for my release, I don’t want to, I want to stay but my mental health comes first and I am suffering.’ I was told that I would get the meeting with Triple H and a couple weeks passed, I took a trip to LA, in between when I had the final conversation about what was going on with me. I took a trip to LA to unwind, and I wanted to go back for the summer, then I came back and it was the week after that I got let go. I don’t have the answer as to if I was already on the chopping block which is why I was hesitant to even say that I asked for my release because then people would be like ‘you’re ungrateful.’ I understand the narratives that people will want to say by me saying that I wanted to quit. You have to understand that my mental health was really bad, not at that given moment. I am strong now but the entire time it was not good. So I felt like I needed to leave for myself like I needed to put myself first. So I just want people to understand and not think that I was ungrateful for having a job because they’ve been releasing left and right. I take my mental health and my sanity and being alive before I take having a job. To this day I don’t know if I was already on that list to have been cut or if they went through Canyon’s emails after he got let go, saw that I didn’t want to be there. I wish I knew that answer, but I don’t want to ask. I’ve moved on completely, I obviously asked for a reason and when it happened it’s like be careful for what you wish for, you got it, what’s next?”
On contracting COVID-19 in June: “I personally don’t think that I was ready for such a big shift in my career, I didn’t know how to handle pressure well, I still don’t think I know how to handle pressure well but that’s something I have to cope with. The first year was magnificent but it was also a very weird year because a pandemic happened. I got Covid around June. That was something I stayed silent on and no one really knew until now. That really affected me, I got really really sick, it affected my lungs, I still feel like it’s affecting me, not like other people who have had complications, but you can definitely feel different, atleast I do after getting it. So I started to put pressure on my own performances, and kinda just started seeing myself kinda flee away from the wrestler that I was. I feel like in 2019 I was on such a high… It was just an immense amount of pressure, constantly being reminded by the fans that I shouldn’t have gone to WWE, always being told something about what I should have done. It really got to me mentally, then I didn’t feel satisfied with what I did, and I also didn’t feel like I was myself… I started training with Roderick Strong weekly, and I trained with him for about 6 months, one of the most positive influences in my career so far. Roderick Strong told me about different avenues that I could take to kinda better my mental health. WWE does provide many things, they provide therapy and counseling and they cover it and they encourage you to take it. I remember saying ‘I need to do this or it’s gonna get ugly.’ Up until March of this year, from March of 2020, which was only 3 months into starting there to March 2021 is when I just had a mental breakdown almost every day. There are days when I would just cry, it was just an immense amount of pressure again that I would put on myself. I just didn’t feel like I was breaking out or being myself or getting people to get behind me. I didn’t feel like I was offering anything authentic. I remember watching my matches back, and I would see this Jake Atlas on the screen and I remember just being so disconnected from what I was watching on TV. It was really rough and tough but I am glad I got the help that I got.