"I've had a relationship with them for about a year now. I was at their first event in Vegas, Double or Nothing and just kept in touch with them since," stated Clayton. "They reached out for the opportunity and they said, 'Do you want to come down this week?' And it was like three days from when they had texted that and I'm like, 'Yeah, sure.' Cause I gotta be ready at this point all the time, you know? So, there wasn't any hesitation there. I went and that was the first time I was backstage like that to be able to meet and talk to everybody and see how things work there. That was just a great opportunity and experience."
Clayton then discussed what it was like working with the AEW locker room and how the backstage environment was.
"Great. I didn't see Cody until literally I was ready to go out for the match and we exchanged a little bit of words and I went out and then after I spoke to him a little bit. But everybody was great. It's a very friendly environment there and it's really just welcoming and relaxed, but obviously not too relaxed. But it's just a very friendly, welcoming environment there and I was really happy to see that," said Clayton.
Over the last few weeks, AEW has had more and more matches on AEW Dark. These have often featured new talents and Clayton was asked why he thinks they are having more matches.
"Well, I would like to think that it's so they can find some good talent. They have great talent but there's always room to expand, in my view. And I think that's what they're looking for. I also think they're not just picking random people anymore is what I was told. They're kind of making sure these people have some credibility. They're not just random people coming in which is a good thing," stated Clayton.
Clayton would have liked his AEW debut to come under different circumstances and not with the backdrop of a pandemic. He was asked about performing in front of a virtually empty arena and without any fans.
"You have to adapt to it, like everybody is. Everyone, anywhere in any field is adapting to it. But in stage performance, obviously a crowd is beneficial because that's what you feed off and we get energy off of and that's what you're made to work to – a crowd and for a purpose. Right? But I don't think it was any… some people say it's awkward and I didn't feel any of that," admitted Clayton. "I kind of was just in the moment of what I was supposed to be doing and what my character was supposed to be doing.
"I'm using the cameras now a lot more which is obviously better. But yeah, if there was a crowd there that would have been a lot better just to feed off of. We're going to get there at some point hopefully. Hopefully we all can get back to normal at some point soon and get back to our lives and how we knew them before."
Clayton was then asked about AEW's protocol for keeping everyone safe and healthy in regards to COVID testing.
"Everyone gets tested. I know people fly in and out from all over the place, but whenever you land there, you get tested by AEW which is a great thing to see as obviously you feel safe. Every day when you walk into the building, you get a temperature check a couple of times whenever you go in and out. So, it's a very safe environment and that was obviously good to know and I'm sure people like to hear that," stated Clayton.
Clayton has been performing on the indie scene for a couple of years now and he was asked what he'd like to do next in his career.
"I would love to get back to AEW very soon and hopefully that happens," said Clayton. "That's what I'm looking for. That's where my direction is in my mind."
You can follow Zack Clayton on Twitter @ZackCarpinello. Clayton's full interview aired as part of a recent episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.