Source: The Art Of Wrestling
Recently on Colt Cabana's Art Of Wrestling, Shaun Ricker, also known as TNA's Eli Drake, talked about a number of topics including ring rats, professional wrestling's "identity crisis", and his unmistakeable gift of gab.
"My one drug I've always had a problem with is girls, so that's what I'm out there looking for, when I'm out." Ricker added, "I always hear, like, the glory days stories, like, the rats and whatnot back in the 80s and 90s and I'm like, 'damn, man, I just wish that was around now'. Probably be really dangerous, but probably a whole lot of fun. And now I feel like you don't see it as much."
Interestingly, Ricker averred that pro wrestling suffers from an "identity crisis".
"Wrestling doesn't know what it is. I feel that wrestling has an identity crisis and what I mean by that is, we're almost meant to portray these characters 24 hours a day, but that's kind of a ridiculous, stupid thing. Like, you're not going to see Robert Downey, Jr. going out and pretending to be Iron Man when he does an interview. He's going to be Robert Downey, Jr. He's going to talk about his role as Iron Man and his choices and things like that and he's respected as a legitimate entertainer. But when I go and do an interview as Eli Drake and I'm like, 'well, Sunday, I'm going to do this and do that', it makes somebody who isn't a fan go, 'this guy thinks I'm going to believe this?' Within the vein of the show, yes, 100% it should be presented as 100% real because that's how it is with any other drama show."
Ricker went as far as to suggest that pro wrestling shows should have credits with the real names of the performers listed.
"Maybe I'm getting too deep here, but I feel like it should even be at a point where if you watch any drama show, comedy show, sitcom, whatever, you've got credits and why can't it say, 'Shaun Ricker as Eli Drake' or 'such and such as blah, blah, blah'? And that's a small detail, but I think that actually helps it get over the hump as a legitimate art form and source of entertainment as opposed to circus sideshow." Ricker continued, "if we want to get over that hump of not being looked at as a sideshow and being more of a mainstream, legitimate entertainment source or an art form as opposed to circus sideshow, I feel like it's one of the first steps to kind of really legitimizing it in a sense, so people don't think that we're trying to pull the wool over their eyes."
On the subject of Ricker's verbal skills, 'The Perpetual Motion Machine Of Badassery' admitted that he naturally has the gift of gab, but is also naturally an introvert.
"It was always kind of there. The weird thing about me is that I'm naturally an introvert, so I don't talk to people." Ricker acknowledged, "I don't make good connections with people and I don't know if that's an emotional block on my part. I don't know."
Ricker recalled that he gravitated towards pro wrestlers who could talk when he was growing up. Moreover, the former TNA King Of The Mountain Champion stated he was a fan of greats Hulk Hogan, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, The Rock, and Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, and Ric Flair and took pieces from all of them.
"Growing up when I was watching wrestling, if a guy couldn't talk, I didn't care about him. You could have the fanciest moves and be the greatest wrestler if all time, but if you didn't have a compelling character and you couldn't talk, I didn't care."
Ricker said, "Hulk Hogan, he was my guy. I was crazy about Hulk Hogan. Then, you get into high school, Steve Austin, I was all about him. Then, The Rock starts coming up and I'm like, 'Goddamn, that guy's good!' And so, I look at those guys, you can throw in some Jake 'The Snake', Ric Flair, and I kind of took a little bit from all those guys and put it into my own stuff."
In 2009, Ricker began working for Mach One Wrestling. Ricker said that working with Brian Cage and Paul Bearer, also known as Percy Pringle, was the first time he got to show off his mic skills.
"I found Mach One had a training center in Anaheim there. I went down there. They had me come in and work out. That's when I met Dave Marquez, probably the second or third night I was there. And he was telling me about this guy who was coming in who had just gotten released [from WWE developmental] and he felt we would make a great tag team and he'd probably get us a manager at some point, either Paul Bearer or Jimmy Hart."
Ricker remembered, "so me and Brian Cage are working as Natural Selection. And then, Percy Pringle comes in, he's our manager, and it was a crazy experience. From there, that was the first time I really got to showcase my verbal skills and I started to feel more at home in the ring."
Similarly, Ricker claimed that he was never meant to be a focal point in TNA, but managed to carve out a niche for himself on The Rising.
"When they bring this group together now, it's Drew [Galloway], [Micah], and me. And a lot of times I would be like the third hand, the third wheel, so I was like, 'well, alright. Obviously, they're not going to do s--t with me,' so I tried to make as many loud noises as I could. I cut promos where I could. I made statements where I could. And somehow, I guess, it must've worked out."
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