Willie Mack isn’t worried about anyone else, he’s staying focused on being himself and keeping his X Division Championship.
Mack recently spoke with Wrestlezone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard after his X Division Championship win over Ace Austin on night one of the Rebellion special. Mack has been the X Division Champion for a little more than two weeks (IMPACT taped their most recent shows in Nashville in early April) and he says he’s been keeping himself busy at home by staying cool and playing video games like Doom, Predator: Hunting Grounds and Overwatch.
Some companies like WWE, AEW and IMPACT are fortunate enough to have content available due to still running closed set events, and Mack’s major win normally would have received a huge ovation— if there was a crowd in attendance. Despite this, Mack says there will still be good energy when you watch at home, and he says realizing he reached his goal of becoming champion put him in the right mindset.
“It’s kinda tough but the people at home will bring that energy. Going through that match your adrenaline is flowing so you usually don’t hear the crowd, but I didn’t hear the crowd when I hit that last big move. It took me out but then it took me right back in when [I realized] ‘You know what? I’m the champion now, anyway’ and that’s all that needed to be accomplished. I won my match and that’s what I came here to do.”
Mack has often been described as having a unique style and he’s a self-professed fan of the early TNA roster, but he says he’s not looking to emulate anyone in the ring. Mack says he’s also been compared to but they are almost nothing alike and he’s just trying to be the best Willie Mack he can be.
“You look at Junk Yard Dog and I didn’t do anything like him, the only thing I have in common with him is having a beard. I go out there and try to create my own style and I guess it was a good enough style to fit in the X Division.”
While he might not be taking inspiration from any wrestlers in particular, he did say video games do play a small role in his moveset, specifically Overwatch, and thinks fans might catch on to the reference when he’s in the ring.
“When I do my RIP-Tire—the corner cannonball move I do—I got that from the Overwatch video game. There’s a character on there named Junkrat and when you build up his special ability, he basically pulls out a tire filled with bombs and it’s got a motor on it, so he can make it blow it on impact with anything it touches.”
Mack was named IMPACT Wrestling’s “One to Watch in 2020” Winner and it would appear it’s paying off early, but one other name making great strides on the roster is Chris Bey. They’ve worked with each other several times, including a recent match in IMPACT, and Bey has a lot of hype but Mack says hype isn’t everything.
“The internet makes people do crazy things. When people get hyped up over something—it’s just like when fidget spinners came out and people were crazy about them then. You hear anybody talking about them now or playing with them? Exactly.
“If you take slow steps and build it up you’ll be good, but now it’s like being rushed and overhyping yourself, you get shut down real quick. So in my dealings with him in the past, it was alright, but now I’ve got to take this kid down a little bit.”
One other name that is gunning for Mack is Johnny Swinger, and the champion says he will probably give “The Swing Man” a title shot… just to get rid of him.
“I probably will just to shut him up and so he can get out of my face.”
Despite only holding the title for a short time, Mack was asked if he had thought about having the power to use ‘Option C’ and cash it in for a World Championship opportunity. Mack says he likes being champion right now and it could result in him without any titles, but didn’t completely write off the idea in the future.
“I don’t know. I just got the X Division title and I like having the title. Plus, you have to give it up to get a shot at the World Title, and that might end up backfiring. You could end up titleless in the end, which would suck. But hey, who knows?”
Diving back into TNA history, I noted that Mack was right about Option C not always working out. Rockstar Spud was unsuccessful in challenging Kurt Angle back in 2015, and Brian Cage walked away empty-handed after last year’s Homecoming pay-per-view.
“That’s the thing. You go in as the champion and I could give up the title with the hopes of winning [the World Championship], but you could end up with nothing and sit there with your hands out, like ‘what did I do?’”
We added some recommendations to the list and selected a good mix of bouts from Mack’s career, including highlights from his X Division title win and full-length matches Mack picked.
Willie Mack vs. Rob Van Dam
PCW Ultra Fantasm — January 20, 2017
Kurt Angle vs. Rockstar Spud
IMPACT Wrestling — May 10, 2015
AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe (Super X Cup Final)
TNA Sacrifice — August 14, 2005
Christopher Daniels vs. AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
TNA Unbreakable — September 11, 2005
Willie Mack vs. Sam Shaw (NWA National Championship)
CWFH Milestone 2018 — December 9, 2018
Keith Lee vs. Willie Mack vs. Jeff Cobb
FSW The Mecca — September 24, 2017
Check out all of the full-length, free-to-watch matches in the link below: