The perception and reality of Patrick Clark

On the heels of his jaw-dropping elimination, Patrick Clark talks humility, his stumbles on Tough Enough and the importance of following your dreams.

Social media exploded on Tuesday night following the elimination of Patrick Clark from WWE Tough Enough — quite possibly the most surprising elimination in the history of the show. Through five weeks of the competition, Patrick had largely dominated, excelling in both the physical challenges and the character challenges, along with the in-ring portions. However, despite his early successes, Patrick found himself in the bottom three and at the mercy of the WWE Universe at the conclusion of Week 5. Patrick chatted with WWEToughEnough.com Wednesday morning to discuss where he believes he went wrong, the best advice he has received post-elimination and what is next in his continued journey to WWE Superstardom.

Q: At what point do you think you lost the popular vote? Do you think your humbleness being questioned by the judges factored in?

A: I think I lost the popular vote in Week 3 when I finally beat Tanner and I decided to rub it in his face the way he rubbed it in my face. But then after beating Tanner, I continued to win, and as you win competitions you become the target for the rest of the pack. People would target me, and I would just be defending myself every week.

Q: To piggyback off that, Paige was the most aggressive toward you the past couple of weeks on the humility front. Do you agree with her assessment of you?

A: In the overall sense, yes, I agree with Paige because she’s where I wanna be — she’s on the WWE main roster and she knows how the locker room is — so I feel like she tried to teach me a lesson of humility. That way, when I do get to that level, it’s not a problem for me and I won’t have to learn the hard way. It’s kind of like she tried to shelter me, in a sense.

Q: A really impressive thing Tuesday night was how outwardly supportive Daniel Bryan and The Miz were on Tough Talk. With everybody that’s reached out to you since your elimination, what do you think is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

A: The Miz and Chris Jericho are tied for that. They both really wanted me to understand that just because you don’t win the show doesn’t mean that you can’t become a WWE Superstar and that I can use the platform that I have, because of WWE Tough Enough, to propel myself. This isn’t the time to slow down; this is the time for me to kick everything into high gear.

Q: Do you feel you were a victim to the audience vote to being seen more as a popularity contest than an actual vote to find the next great Superstar?

A: You know, you can twist it or look at it however you want, but it is a popularity contest at the end of the day, because the WWE Universe are the ones buying the tickets and they have their opinion —  it’s their right. I used to be a part of that WWE Universe, I still am, actually, and I completely understand. If I like somebody, of course I’m gonna be biased towards ‘em. I paid my money, I’m investing in the programming, so I feel like the company should invest in my opinion. So, I don’t feel like I was slighted in the least. I feel the WWE Universe picked who they liked because ZZ and Josh are likeable favorites. I did my job in making them hate me, though!

Q: Let’s just assume that your road to a contract here is not immediate; take us through your plan. Is it right back to the independents?

A: Well, I’ve already talked to my coaches back at home and I’m gonna start training again tomorrow when I get back home, and I’ve already got bookings lined up for this weekend, so I’m hitting the road again immediately. There’s no pause for me.

Q:  You were consistently praised on both Tough Enough and Tough Talk for your poise and your sense of accountability. Where does that poise come from, especially for someone so young?

A: It has a lot to do with my background. I understand a lot of the legacy my father left for me before he was killed, and it wasn’t a positive legacy; it was more of a negative one. All through growing up and through the Military Academy in Forestville, Md., which I attended until now, I realized that I need to carry myself in a manner where people respect me, because if you do end up learning my story, your first thought is gonna be, “He’s turning out just like his father.” When you look at my background and you look at my story, that’s the only possible route for a “guy like me.” But I’ve worked so hard my entire life to change that negative stereotype, and as I said in my Tough Enough video, to change the mold.

Q: That’s really commendable. On the other side of that coin, you were criticized for your bravado and lack of humility almost as much as you were praised for your poise. You were a big, braggadocios personality on the show. Was any of that amplified for the cameras, or is that just who you are when it comes to this business?

A: No, I definitely amplified it for the show. I realized this is a reality show and the reality of it is you don’t just have your diehard wrestling fans in the WWE Universe. You have the “Reality Show Universe,” if you will — “The Bad Girls Club” people, the ones that like the drama. You have them in the mix and they don’t understand wrestling or WWE. So I definitely amplified it. If I’m portrayed a certain way on TV, though, perception is reality. Triple H told me that when I pulled him to the side during the mini-camp. So I’m gonna own up to however you perceive me because it’d be an insult to WWE and USA Network if I was portrayed one way and tried to turn it around and act like that’s not who I am.

Q: Maybe perspective is hard to grasp just 12 hours after your elimination, but what’s your biggest takeaway from your experience on the show?

A: The biggest thing for me overall is, and it’s gonna sound a little cliché, but dreams do come true. All you really have to do is believe in your heart and put forth the action. I could sit here all day and say that eight years ago I could have never imagined myself being here …  but if that was the case then I wouldn’t be here, because I wouldn’t have put forth an effort to be here and I wouldn’t have believed in myself. I’ve believed in myself since I first saw The Undertaker Tombstone Kurt Angle in the middle of that ring, and I knew that I was gonna be here.  It’s just a matter of when and what is gonna open that door for me.

Q: Your favorite moment from Tough Enough?

A: My favorite moment had to be appearing on Monday Night Raw in Atlanta —  I call it “Pat-lanta” — in front of 18,000 strong and getting the reception that I did from them, because that was the WWE Universe and there was no mix of any other fan base in there. Those are the people that I want to entertain and to get that support and reception from them was very humbling, and it’s exciting.

Q: Do you have any regrets?

A: No, I don’t have a single regret. Everything that I did, I did it with intention. Whether it was good intention or bad intention, it was the intention to entertain overall, and I viewed it as a 24/7 job interview. I knew that somebody was watching me at all times. I knew that everything I did needed to be done to impress Vince McMahon, Triple H, Billy Gunn, Lita, Booker T, any and everybody who was watching me. I needed to make sure I impressed them, because they’re gonna be the ones who bring me back, not the reality show.

Q: What do you want to say to your supporters and those that have had your back the whole way through?

A: I just wanna say thank you. They don’t understand how much I appreciate the support. I didn’t get much support in other outlets in my life. When I started doing sports in the Military Academy, I didn’t have most of those support systems, so it was definitely a culture shock to me to be able to get the love and support of the WWE Universe. I want to thank them and let them know that if they want to follow my journey and continue to support me then they can do that through my social media accounts.

Q: Thank you, Patrick.

A: Thank you.

To keep up with Patrick’s exploits, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ToughPatrickC or on Periscope @Patriscope.

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