ACH‘s career changed dramatically in November 2019. After WWE released a T-shirt for him that resembled blackface imagery, the 32-year-old-wrestler, who had been working in NXT under the ring name Jordan Myles, spoke out on Twitter about the design. Things escalated from there, and he soon quit WWE, then spent days on social media responding to fans and critics and commenting on the wrestling industry. After being released from WWE, ACH worked a handful of matches on the independent scene but has been on hiatus since February.
In the most recent episode of the podcast “Submission Squad Presents: Dollar Menu Midcarders” (hosted by tag team Evan Gelistico and Pierre Abernathy, who are longtime friends of ACH), the Texan wrester spoke in-depth about his career from his indie beginnings to his time in WWE, and addressed the T-shirt incident and its aftermath.
ACH says he was initially having a good time in WWE, but when the shirt incident occurred, it brought up issues not just with WWE, but how he feels he was perceived earlier in his career. “When the released this shirt of the minstrel show [imagery], it was like, ‘Is that what I am? Am I just a joke? Am I just like something that no one takes serious? Is that what I am?’”
ACH also addressed how smiling becoming part of his NXT persona:
I was told to smile because that’s a Vince thing. Vince likes that. Now, when I got there I wasn’t smiling at all, I would come out and I’d have a straight face and I would wrestle. That was my thing. And I was told ‘you should smile more.’ And I went, ‘Okay, you want me to smile more? You got it.’ And I smiled, and I smiled a fucking lot. And I’m one of those people if you tell me to do something and if I’m not feeling it, I’m going to do it because it’s my job, but I’m going turn that motherfucker up to a 10, and that’s exactly what I did.
Despite the character change, ACH said he was still having a good time in NXT until the T-shirt incident.
Then they released that shirt and I got angry. And I made a lot of comments that I’m not going to take back because that’s just how I feel. Now, could I have said them a lot better? Absolutely. Absolutely. I said a lot of things out of anger. If I had said those things a little bit more intelligently and calmly and came from a real place and not an angry place, it would have been okay. But I was just so angry and mad and disrespected and I just feel like a joke.
He says he talked to management about the shirt before addressing it on social media because “mistakes can happen,” but never got a clear explanation.
This guy [the shirt designer] lied to my face. He said that I approved the shirt when I didn’t approve that shirt. That was another thing that got me hot, when they released the ‘He approved of it.’ No, I didn’t. The dude told me that was Triple H’s vision for me. So how am I supposed to feel if I work for this guy and he thinks that’s what I look like?
ACH says he was told the design was meant to look like the famous Rolling Stones lips logo, but he looked at the designs side by side and thought they looked nothing alike. ACH offered an alternate logo for his shirt and says he offered to collaborate on another design, but the designer told him that Triple H wanted to stick with the first design. When ACH talked to Triple H about the issues, the WWE executive told him, “I thought you approved this.”
After the issue went unresolved and the shirt was released (briefly – it was taken down after people pointed out it looked like the racist depictions of black people from minstrel shows), ACH took to social media about the issue. With the Submission Squad, ACH addressed his mindset at the time and some of his comments, including when he controversially called ROH star Jay Lethal an “Uncle Tom.”
ACH says he used to look up to Lethal, but they did not get along in ROH and he knew they never would after an incident where Lethal slapped him. ACH says he still has “a lot of resentment” because of that and, “Maybe I should have not called him that. I should have used something else, definitely not an Uncle Tom. But I was angry and upset. At the time, I felt like he was an Uncle Tom.”
ACH described the kind of anger he had at the time as “toxic” and “unhealthy.” Though many online commenters went further and said his behavior must be the result of mental illness, ACH says that wasn’t the case.
I honestly wish I could have done things differently. I feel like I had people trying to tell me to use mental issues as not as an excuse, but you know, say that’s the thing. You know, ‘your anxiety or your depression…’ to help smooth things over. But I’m not one of those people. I don’t come up with excuses for myself. I was angry… I’m not going to be like, ‘Oh, sorry guys, like, mental illness!” because people deal with this stuff in serious ways. That’s a serious issue. I’m not going to publicly say things like that to smooth things over…
ACH went on to describe his online behavior as “a meltdown.”
I had a freaking meltdown in front of the entire world. That’s really what happened. I had a meltdown. I broke down in front of the entire world. The only thing is that people didn’t see me cry…
Truth be told, it’s all my fault. It’s all my fault. I’ll take the blame for this. I could have easily just put the phone down. I could have easily deleted my Twitter app like I normally do. Like, I didn’t have to go on there and say all those things, but I chose to because I was angry, and I felt like I needed to get a lot of stuff off my chest and that’s just not a place to get stuff off your chest. Social media’s just not the place.
Though he says the incident killed his passion for pro wrestling for a while, ACH ends the interview sounding ready to return to the ring once wrestling can resume. In his words: “This could be a really cool comeback or a really shitty ending.”