Steve Maclin is feeling as good as he ever has in the professional wrestling business.
After being released by WWE on February 4, 2021, following nearly seven years of service, Maclin (formerly Steve Cutler) was left to navigate the free-agent waters. He would find a home with IMPACT Wrestling in June, quickly embarking on an undefeated streak. Six months later, though not without a loss on his record, Maclin has still yet to be pinned or submitted.
Speaking with Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp (seen above), Maclin discussed how IMPACT has embraced him, the freedom he's been given to execute his creative vision, and how his biggest strength is the unknown.
"It’s a great feeling just because IMPACT has embraced me and I’ve embraced IMPACT. The creative freedom I do have, also still working along the guidelines with creative, which is communication. Communication always the number one thing in professional wrestling or in any business, I feel, no matter what it is. Especially you in sports media. Communication is key. You want to stay up on things. So it’s in the know, what’s going on, what is my character doing, and what is the story in the end that we want to go to? This is one of those things where I’m just having a lot of fun with it and its been so great with D’Lo, Matt Striker on commentary. They always ask me questions of, ‘How can we see this?’ I just say, ‘Just say what you want to say. However you feel off of me, like ‘Hey, I like this,’ this sounds good,’ and it’s pretty much the same way back and forth. Creative said, ‘Hey, we liked this and this, but we didn’t like this.’ ‘Okay, cool.’ So when commentary says a certain thing, I like that. ‘Okay, cool.’ I’ll follow on the thread and to all the Twitter people out there—I read everything. Just because, why not? We’re a business. Everybody has their own business and your product. You’re trying to put something out there, I want to know what works and what doesn’t work. That’s, for me, a lot of fun where I can just toy with things. I have a lot of leverage, I feel, or at least I have a strength on my end. You have all this talent that’s coming out of NXT and WWE that’s going elsewhere. Everybody knows what they can do. Only I know what I can do. To me the biggest strength I have is the unknown. It’s the fun part because now I can go do whatever the hell I want to do," Maclin said.
In March, Maclin started releasing vignettes online that showed him sitting in front of a stack of papers (presumably contracts) and sipping a Jameson while Frank Sinatra's That's Life played in the background.
Maclin explained to Fightful how a friend of his helped him film the vignettes and how they ended up airing on IMPACT TV (minus the song) when they teased his debut beginning on June 3rd.
"When I got let go I was like, ‘Alright, cool. Let’s hit the ground running," Maclin began by saying. "I have this idea and I want to get it out there.’ I had my vignettes I had it written out for what I wanted to do. One of my good friends in the VA used to work with NASCAR and did a lot of production with them, so he’s like, ‘Hey, let me come shoot it. We’ll fly down, make a weekend out of it.’ Tanner has been nothing but a help to me because he’s helped me envision it. He gets what I want to do and of course Deonna helped me narrow it down my verbiage because she knows I like to just talk. Which, surprisingly, nobody knows that, but I love just talking. I love just talking the business. When it came about doing the vignettes it was an investment of mine, out of pocket. It was such a fun time because its allowing people to see something in me that I wanted to give people and show people and they couldn’t. I was never allowed that opportunity and it’s okay. It’s gonna happen in this business, no matter what. That’s why I love, from day one since I got let go, alright, cool. It’s all on me now. There’s nobody to tell me no anymore. It’s all on me. If they tell me no, I can say, ‘Okay, cool. I’ll go elsewhere.’ Or I’ll try it somewhere here until I get told yes or told no again and I’ll keep pushing for it. It was awesome. It was a lot of fun to get it together. Once I went to IMPACT and they told me they wanted to bring me in when I got signed, they said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna come in and shoot similar vignettes.’ ‘Okay, cool.’ Then once I got there Jimmy Jacobs and creative, everybody there, Scott D’Amore were like, ‘You know what? We’re just gonna use what you have. We’re just gonna change the audio in the background for the songs because of copyright deal, but we’re gonna go with what you have.’ I was like, ‘Oh, man. That’s awesome. Thank you.’ But that was just more of a compliment for the work that I put into myself."
He concluded by talking about how fun it is to put his own vision for himself on TV, debuting in an empty arena, and how fans are the lifeblood of professional wrestling. Here are his full remarks:
"It was one of those things from being a little kid playing with his wrestling figures and setting up a TV with No Mercy or WrestleMania 2000 and do entrance videos to now being me and putting a vision that I have for myself out there—it was a lot of fun. It was really cool. It was one of those things where, ‘Alright, cool. Let’s fucking go. We’re gonna get the wheels working.’ Then of course, it was weird to debut without any audience. It was very, very weird. Here I am with a totally new character—do I be serious? Do I be this? How do I want to come out and be seen? The first match I had—I had a few get over matches, squashes—it was like, ‘Alright.’ First one I didn’t really say much. Second one I talked a little bit. Third one I was like, ‘Alright, we’re getting in the groove.’ It was getting that confidence back and having fun again. Once we got fans… Fans are the life blood of professional wrestling. If people don’t realize that from the COVID era, it really is the difference."
Maclin has been chasing the X Division Championship and faced Trey Miguel at IMPACT Hard To Kill on January 8, but came up just short in an impressive match. You can see Fightful's review here.