Stokely Hathaway
Photo Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Stokely Hathaway Explains Why He Turned Down A WWE Contract Extension

Stokely Hathaway opens up about his departure from WWE.

Before lending his managerial services to All Elite Wrestling, Stokely Hathaway rose to popularity in WWE’s developmental brand of NXT. There, aligned with a few Superstars, most notably working with the dominant Diamond Mine faction. Hathaway — formerly known as Malcolm Bivens — received his release from the company at the end of April this year.

Following his release, Hathaway revealed that he turned down a contract extension in February, prior to his release, citing overall unhappiness as a reason. In a recent appearance on The Sessions With Renee Paquette, “Big Stoke” opened up more about his decision to decline WWE’s offer as well as checking into a mental health facility.

“It was really interesting because I think people kind of looked at me as the bad guy, and I do get it because I’m sure there’s plenty of people that would kill to be in the position that I was in. And at the time, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t really [ever explain why I turned it down]. I did a comedy show and I alluded to it, but the wrong message came across from that show. So, I mean, to be completely honest, February, I woke up one day and I just felt miserable. I just felt, I guess the right way would be crazy, right? I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know what was going on. It kind of went away, and then it kept increasing to the point to where like, it was just debilitating. So, I voluntarily just committed myself [to a mental health facility],” he revealed. “This was on a Friday, and I think I got out on Sunday.”

Hathaway continued, describing his “interesting” experience. “So when I went in, I had no idea what I was in for. I was in kind of like a cell, no real sheets. It was just like a metal-like frame that you laid on. Obviously, the sink was one of those sinks that was rigged to where it was like motion detected. It like gave you a little thing of soap, a thing of toothpaste. [You] couldn’t go into your room until 8:00 or 9:00 PM and then you get to wake up at 6 AM. and then you just walk the floor. [You] just like walk back and forth to fill up the time.  So that was like three days of that. Then afterwards I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought.'”

In addition, outside communication remained limited during Hathaway’s stay, following his phone confiscation. Luckily though, he later gained access to keep in touch with his dog sitter to arrange last-minute care for his pet. Stokely specified that he didn’t alert any of his close friends or family during this time but told those he trusted afterward.

Asked by Paquette if he knows what led him to this decision, Hathaway said he just felt like it was the right choice for him.

“I think I was just trying to manage everything. I do regret leaning into the being funny thing because I think that — I think it’s hard for people to take you seriously [when you’re known as a funny guy]. I didn’t think there was really anyone that could listen or I could vent to, talk to. Especially with social media nowadays, it’s hard to take people seriously and two… I don’t want to say it’s a “thing” to use mental health as a crutch, but I just felt like no one would believe me if I said, ‘hey I feel this way.’ I just felt like it was the right thing for me to do.”

Though the overall experience didn’t go as expected, Hathaway initially felt it was the right thing to do as he struggled to try “to just manage everything” in life and remained “hard on himself.” At the end of the day, “I had to realize that it’s wrestling, it’s just wrestling,” he said. “This isn’t a live-or-die situation.” So, he took action to prioritize his mental health.

RELATED: Stokely Hathaway Was Hand-Picked By CM Punk For Role In Post-All Out Feud

If you use this transcript, credit The Sessions, h/t WrestleZone and link back to this post.