In an interview with Denise Salcedo, Atlas described how he initially signed a three-year contract with WWE and later turned down a contract extension this past July. At the time, he wanted to revisit a potential extension a few months later, but he was ultimately released in August. Looking back on the situation leading up to his release, Atlas described how he had been “nervous” about the changes within WWE. Canyon Ceman’s release further complicated matters, and Atlas also explained that his mental health was at an all-time low during his time with the company. Atlas went on to describe how he didn’t want to leave, but he felt like the company wasn’t hearing his requests. [Transcription credit of Denise Salcedo, who passed along the quotes from the interview.]
“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,” said Atlas. “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.”
Atlas went on to explain that, in addition to these factors, the state of his mental health prompted him to ask for his release, even though he wanted to stay. In hindsight, Atlas noted that he didn’t know if he was on the “chopping block” anyway and emphasized that he prioritized his mental health and well-being above his job with WWE.
“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,'” said Atlas. “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?”
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When reflecting on his WWE run, Atlas stated that he didn’t know how to successfully handle the pressure of making the “big shift” to the company. He then revealed that he got COVID-19 in June, and the virus is still affecting him today. On top of that, Atlas reflected on how he put a lot of pressure on himself during his time with WWE, and this dynamic was one of the factors that contributed to his poor mental health.
” I got Covid around June,” said Atlas. “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, at least 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.
Atlas then noted that WWE provides mental health services, but he still had a mental breakdown earlier this year. He described how he felt “disconnected” from the performer he was seeing on TV, but he expressed his gratititude for getting help when he needed it.
“I remember saying ‘I need to do this or it’s gonna get ugly,'” said Atlas. “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.”
Finally, Atlas commended WWE for taking care of its performers during the pandemic and stated that, as far as he knows, that still holds true today.
The full interview is available here: