The development of a compelling wrestling character takes time, effort, and meticulous dedication.
Refining one’s character over time may require many variations or reboots before the finished product is successfully unveiled. The evolution of Benjamin Satterley to AEW superstar PAC was no exception. After an often tumultuous and controversial series of events, the character metamorphosis is now complete. The transformation, however, was not without its setbacks and issues along the way. The performer, who once wrestled under the name of Neville in WWE, is now firmly entrenched in the All Elite Wrestling promotion. Let’s take a look at how he arrived in AEW and the journey that got him there.
“The Man That Gravity Forgot” entered the realm of professional wrestling in 2004 as part of the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF). The character Pac wrestled for both the IWF and 3 Count Wrestling promotions through 2006. The 33 year old high flying acrobatic wrestler hails from Newcastle, England and has wrestled extensively throughout the UK during the formative years of his career. Pac began wrestling for organizations such as One Pro Wrestling, International Pro Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Guerilla from 2006 through 2012. Pac was able to collect an impressive assortment of hardware during this era of his career. He was a two time 3CW champion, a PWG tag team champion, and an IWF tag team champion, among multiple other titles, during this highly successful stint of his professional career.
“The Bastard” spent some time between 2007 and 2012 wrestling through various promotions in the United States including Total NonStop Action (TNA), American Wrestling Rampage (AWR), and Ring of Honor (RoH), refining his craft and further developing his character which would lead him to New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) in 2012. Pac had an impressive stint in NJPW, winning his block and making it as far as the semi-finals in the 2012 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament.
Pac’s effort and dedication landed him a coveted spot in NXT. PAC would transition to the character of Adrian Neville during this time. Neville would win the NXT Championship, a title which he would hold for 287 days, a record for longest reign as NXT champion, eventually relinquishing the title to Sami Zayn. In 2015 Neville made his long awaited debut as part of the WWE main roster and began going by the simply awesome name of Neville. The highlight of his WWE tenure was winning the Cruiserweight title at the Royal Rumble by defeating Rich Swann.
In October of 2017 Neville abruptly left the WWE voicing his unhappiness with the promotion in part because he didn’t want to help Enzo Amore get over.
“They killed the King and gave the crown to a wannabe rapper…”
Neville said this during an instagram Q&A session when asked why he left WWE. He would return to Dragon Gate after his departure and reverted back to the character of Pac. Shortly after his return to the Dragon Gate promotion, Pac would defeat Masato Yoshino to become the Dream Gate Champion. Never one to shy away from the spotlight Pac, after winning the title, took to Twitter to let the world know “what an exceptional bastard” he really was.
In 2018 PAC was scheduled to face Adam “Hangman” Page at AEW’s inaugural pay per view event Double or Nothing. PAC reportedly backed out of the match over “creative differences” with the promotion. There was speculation at the time that PAC was not comfortable losing any matches while he still held the Dragon’s Gate title. Nobody other than PAC and AEW know the real reason but if the speculation is true, I for one support his decision. PAC showed loyalty and respect not only for the title and Dragon Gate but also for AEW and wrestling fans in general. Fans of a specific promotion or wrestler don’t want to see the product cheapend or devalued by having their champion, the face of the franchise, lose in another promotion. I think this was the right call by PAC.
The door to AEW opened for PAC when he lost his Dream Gate title at the Kobe World Pro-Wrestling Festival on July 21st. PAC, no longer being a world champion, had the freedom to wrestle anybody, anywhere. Kenny Omega would have the unenviable task of welcoming PAC to AEW at All Out from the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, Illinois. PAC’s debut in AEW did not disappoint and his high flying style delighted fans and resulted in a hard fought victory over Kenny Omega. PAC wasted no time in describing what his victory over Kenny Omega meant for him “…from now on I do whatever I want at this place.”
What all of the wrestling world is wondering is what’s next for PAC and who will be the next opponent? AEW has even raised the question via Twitter:
A wrestler with the rich history and championship background such as PAC has only one goal in mind and that is to be crowned AEW champion. Chris Jericho the current reigning champion has no shortage of suitors looking for an opportunity for a title shot as AEW transitions to TNT beginning October 2nd. The single’s division will have to wait as Chris Jericho and two mystery tag team partners are set to take on Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks in a six man tag team from Washington DC on the first AEW show on TNT.
Cody Rhodes will face Chris Jericho November 9th in Baltimore for the AEW title at the Full Gear pay per view. With no title shot on the horizon for PAC, I think this opens up an extremely interesting possibility for a feud with MJF. Both of these guys excel in the role of heel performer. Each man brings a high octane style that will energize the crowd and create an added sense of excitement to any venue. They have the possibility of polarizing the fans to one side or another which is always great for the sport. MJF instantly owns the crowd when he gets on the mic. He has them eating out of his hand even as he is insulting them. PAC, on the other hand, comes across as a “me against the world” wrestler who just wants to destroy anyone who stands in his way. The upside to this feud is very high with an enormous opportunity for compelling rematches and the continuation of the feud for months to come.
As a footnote, it is hard not to miss the character named Neville. I think the smartest, most intelligent people in the world are named Neville. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love Neville?
You can find me on Twitter @ngtriplett. Thanks for reading.