Still just 22 years of age, the man who has become the Velveteen Dream started his career off in the humblest of wrestling beginnings. He began to train and develop while working for such promotions as Maryland Championship Wrestling (now MCW Pro). After only a few months of instruction, Patrick Clark emerged as one of the standouts for MCW and made his wrestling debut in October of 2014. His development didn’t just take place there, as he also worked under DJ Hyde at Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), and did some shows for the Samoans’ World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW). In speaking with Hyde, he recalls how Clark and former NXT talent and current 205 Live roster member Lio Rush came through their doors: ‘Most recently, guys that have come into our school that is becoming popular are guys like Lio Rush and the Velveteen Dream. Those guys would come up through MCW twice a week and do the dojo work program. I would have calls from Lio where we would discuss wrestling about once a week. ‘Hey, can I ask you a question and what are your thoughts about this?'” (from Pro Wrestling Post)
Clark clearly stood out, and didn’t simply aspire to be noticed, he demanded it. In 2015 he got noticed on a much grander, national scale when he was one of the contestants to appear on the newly revamped WWE Tough Enough. He certainly stood out then, with his unmistakable charisma, despite losing out in the competition, in fact being eliminated early on. However, it is important to note that Clark made a significant enough impact on the WWE administration and evaluating staff that his dream became a reality. He appeared at NXT live events shortly thereafter, but it wasn’t until 2017, after previously facing the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Austin Aries in NXT, that Dream would begin with a clean slate.
Everything fans had come to know about him was gone. He did retain one quality that fans already knew about, the biggest one from his time on Tough Enough, and that was his aforementioned charisma. That quality became magnified, and in his new role as the Velveteen Dream, his brash confidence was demonstrated for all to see. His Prince-inspired character also took nuances from what made Goldust so successful and placed a more contemporary twist on them. It was important that he stood out, and the best way to do it than to be himself. It is often said that the most successful characters are created when someone simply plays themselves, only turned up to ten.
Clark, now draped in velvet, took part in various feuds to help establish his character. His first major program was against Aleister Black prior to the latter becoming NXT champion. Little was likely expected of him as he was simply trying to get his feet wet and learn from a clearly established talent in Black. The banter back and forth between them was built on Dream trying to earn the respect of Black, but it was also about being valued by the NXT faithful watching him. Their rivalry came to a head at NXT TakeOver: WarGames when Black defeated Dream. The Velveteen Dream had simply wanted to have Aleister Black say his name, and after their match fans chanted ‘say his name,’ which Black obliged. It was an affirming moment professionally for Patrick Clark, and it also contributed to the fans’ growing respect for him and his tireless efforts. It was such a highly regarded match that their rivalry was acknowledged as the feud of the year in NXT for 2017.
To help further establish the Velveteen Dream as a meaningful talent, he then engaged in a feud with Kassius Ohno. A match against Ohno does certainly help as it means stepping in the ring with a notable competitor that is as committed to telling a meaningful story as anyone. In the end, Dream defeated Ohno at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia. During each exchange, it was crucial that he was as willing to push himself, as anyone that is scrapping to move up the card should do. With each match and confrontation, it was important for him to challenge himself and how far he is willing to go. His next major matchup was during NXT TakeOver: New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend. He along with EC3, Adam Cole, Ricochet, Lars Sullivan and Killian Dain, all competed in a ladder match for the newly established NXT North American Championship. Despite not winning the match, he certainly proved to be a major factor in the match.
As his prominence on the brand has risen, it has become important for him to not simply to take part in one-off matches. It was important to be part of longer programs. Most recently, it was time for him to face-off against someone that is similar in some respects, though quite different in others. He and one of the other competitors from the North American Championship ladder match, Ricochet, began a program with one another. Ricochet calls himself the one and only, but Dream stated that anything Ricochet could do, he could do better. This does beg the question, how far will the Velveteen Dream go when all is said and done? If a recent glowing endorsement from John Cena is any indication, he could see his dreams come true.