A Dream Deferred

Patrick Clark, the young man we all fell in love with watching appeared on WWE's Tough Enough in 2015. He didn't win the competition and we all thought that was the end of the road for him. However, soon he popped up at the WWE Performance Center. He quickly turned heads and made a positive impression. Soon he would appear on our screens as The Velveteen Dream. Things were looking up for him, then it all seemed to crumble over the course of a year and nobody really knows why.

To understand Patrick Clark we have to go back to when he was just a rising star, before he became Velveteen Dream. Back when Maryland Championship Wrestling began taking in students Patrick Clark signed up alongside the likes of Lio Rush and Jessika Carr. Soon he was joined by Rush, forming the tag team, Sudden Impact. The team didn't last long, but the two became close friends. The end of the team was brought on by Patrick Clark being cast as a contestant on Tough Enough

He quickly became loved by fans and hosts alike. On one occasion it was revealed that Patrick was the only person who stayed up late to watch a WWE Network from Japan. He was dedicated, sincere, wowed the judges with both promos and ring work. The only problem was he didn't treat it as a reality show to be won, he truly was trying to build a career as a wrestler. 

When Patrick Clark was eliminated, people were disgusted. Not just the fans watching at home, but other wrestlers sent an outpouring of support through social media. However, the most notable had to be the live reaction from The Miz that night. Booker T, Lita and Billy Gunn, the coaches for that season went on record about how he was the best student by miles. 

Despite that it wouldn't be long before we saw him again. Patrick Clark was destined to be a star. Even before Tough Enough he had become a meme Online, by accident. In a viral photo attendees realize there is no flag during the American National Anthem, so they do what they must. They turn, and salute the pants of Patrick Clark. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Performance Center and NXT. 

It didn't take long before Velveteen Dream became one of the top stars in WWE, not just NXT. It can't be denied he was delivering some legendary promos and putting on some top ranked matches. For many people he shot to the top of their favorites list during his feud with Allistair Black. The flamboyance of Orlando Jordan with the toughness of Elijah Burke was an undeniable combination. But then in 2019, it began to fall apart and continued until 2020. 

First, rumors of drug addiction began to swirl in 2017. Dream vanished from TV with only a mention of him being injured, although no injury was ever sustained. People suspected he was having a personal issue as he had not been at the performance center either. In 2018 reports began to surface that WWE had been hiding Dream's Wellness Policy violation. This led to people suggesting he may have some sort of drug addiction and the time off may have been used for a rehabilitation program.

In late 2019, an arrest warrant was issued for Clark. Video surveillance showed a Black male driving up to a vehicle parked near his home in Orlando. The man then smashes the window and drives away. The car was registered to Clark who was then picked out of a police lineup. However, the warrant was never served and charges were dropped. This led people to assume WWE or Clark had simply paid the victim to change his mind about the incident. 

In April of 2020 the first allegations of sexual abuse appeared. The allegations were that Clark had been grooming a young man, and sent a nude photograph to him. However, Clark said the photo was sent without his consent and many people looked away. 

Later that year, pro wrestling began the #SpeakingOut movement, which exposed many predators in the business and around it of all genders and orientations. Fans who sexually assaulted other fans, wrestlers who assaulted other wrestlers. Fans assaulting wrestlers and vice versa. The movement succeeded in purging the business of many individuals who had harmed others. Velveteen Dream was one of the names.

Clark had three main claims against him, and admittedly the situation was muddy. One was an adult man, well past 18 who had indeed received nudes photographs of Clark, but claims they were nonconsensual despite texts stating otherwise. Another was an underage teenage boy, by American standards. This is important to mention as Clark most certainly was grooming the boy and in America his actions would carry some kind of criminal charge, but the boy does not live in America and charges were not filed here meaning legally there is nothing that can be done. The third accuser however does live in America, and was being groomed by Clark. However, his allegations have been ignored largely in part because he was a white Male who belonged to an Instagram group called "setting up niggers."

Let me be clear, my personal opinion is that Patrick Clark is attracted to what the porn industry would call "barely legal," young men, or men just over the age of consent usually between 16 and 18 depending on the state or county. Legally, there is nothing that can be done, but it is a very fine line to walk. A line that Clark seems to skip across without regard for legality or the wellbeing of his would be victims. Everyone will have their own opinions on the morality of this, but I can state my opinion. I do not care if a 21 year old has a healthy relationship with an 18 year old as they have similar mind states and there are places they could reasonably meet; college, internships, jobs and so on. But, Clark is currently 25 and seeking out 16 to 18 year old boys; at some point the line has to be drawn on what is normal and what is grooming. There are not many places a 16 year old would run into a 25 year old on equal footing.

In the midst of the allegations Clark was hospitalized due to a car accident. He ran through a red light and struck another car. Again, this accident had been coveted up and was not discovered until months later. After the accident, WWE looked into the allegations of abuse against Clark. There was no wrong doing found on his part. Again, this is because Clark walks a thin line between what is legal, but also immoral. HHH would later state that the only thing keeping Velveteen Dream from becoming the biggest star in WWE, is his immaturity as Patrick Clark.

At this moment, people are calling for him to be fired. Despite being a great performer, the reactions aren't the same. Sure, many people can look past his actions, but many more question if he belongs in the ring still. Other wrestlers have been known to like tweets or even share them about Dream being fired, despite this he is still featured prominently on the card weekly. As wild as it may seem, this is a story that has been told before.

Art Barr
Art Barr is a name that isn't spoken much these days, but it once was. He may even be known as Beetlejuice, The Love Machine or any of the other name he chose to wrestle as. Art Barr had traveled the world as a professional wrestler and worked with the likes of Eddie Guerrero and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. But, there were many issues in his past. 

Similar to Clark growing up with Lio Rush, Art Barr grew up alongside the legendary "Hot Rod," Roddy Piper, but their paths also diverged. The reason being was in 1989, Art Barr was arrested and put on trial for the rape of a 19 year old girl. During the lead up to trial Bart continued working as Beetlejuice, a kid friendly character. Barr would strike a plead deal the day before trial where he would do community service and pay for medical and counseling expenses of his victim. Oregon wasn't exactly pleased with this and local newspapers continued to report on him. 

His wrestling license was not renewed on the grounds of previous arrests due to his addiction and possession of cocaine. Because news didn't travel as fast then, he managed to get a job in WCW, on the other side of the country. Until someone found out and began faxing and mailing reports and articles. Still struggling with cocaine Barr went to work in Mexico. Eventually he found his way to NJPW but died of an overdose less than a year into working there.

I tell you the story because Art Barr is one of the biggest "what if," stories in professional wrestling. Similar to Dream, he was a great wrestler, incredible talker, and had shown himself able to create multiple lasting characters. Despite that, his inner demons killed any chances he had of a successful career. Barr did this in a time when the way to spread the news was faxing newspaper clippings and mailing letters. We have no idea what else could have been going on in Barr's life, but with dream, we know. There's cameras everywhere, medical reports leak and with social media as soon as one person knows, the world knows. People will forever call out Dream, but we've seen celebrities, even other wrestlers, come back from worse, even if nobody is really cheering for them.

What happens next is unknown. Does Dream become the star people wanted by simply ignoring allegations like Ric Flair? Joey Ryan is a wrestler who faced similar accusations, but was fired almost immediately by IMPACT Wrestling, nobody will him anymore. Is that where Dream's career is heading? Perhaps his career just sags like a heavy load, the way Art Barr's did. Nobody really knows what happens to a dream deferred.

You can check out some of my fiction at 12 AM Fiction or follow my web serial Exsanguinate and of course hear me on the Powerbomb Jutsu podcast.

A Dream Deferred A Dream Deferred Reviewed by Darrell S. on Friday, October 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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