Wrestling Inc. president Raj Giri was recently on a media conference call with Impact Wrestling superstar Eli Drake. As someone who has worked hard on growing into an all-around performer who can perform as well on the mic as he does in the ring, Drake was asked his thoughts on the importance of character development in today's wrestling industry.
A common criticism that has been belabored extensively regarding the current state of professional wrestling is the emphasis on in-ring performance at the expense of character work. The wrestling industry is filled with wrestlers who can work a good match but cannot cut a solid promo. Drake said up-and-coming wrestlers need to start realizing what's most important in pro-wrestling.
"It's lacking, and it's lacking because guys are getting lost in what's actually important. Guys are trying to do cool moves over telling good stories," Drake said. "The bottom line of what we do is entertainment, at the end of the day that's exactly what this is, that's what it's always been, it's never been anything different. So guys are getting into all these comic book moves, which are cool and they have a place, but at some point you got to tell me who you are, and you got to be able to tell a good story."
Drake mentioned the lack of casual wrestling fans nowadays and how characters from the Attitude Era were able to bring in people who previously had no interest in wrestling. He said it's important for companies to do more to attract casual fans and the way to do that is by creating interesting and compelling characters.
"How do you recapture those people? Not with cool moves, because every week when they came in they were talking about the funny stuff they saw [and] the really good character stuff they saw," Drake said. "It's a matter of entertaining the people, the moves are almost secondary. It's really who are you, what are you doing and how are you doing it, and being able to have a character on top of that.
"If they see a segment like 'This Is Your Life' with The Rock, if they see Ric Flair on the TV telling you about his gators, or if they see Steve Austin," he continued, "people remember quotes, they remember moments, they don't remember moves. So that's what's lost."
Giri asked Drake if he likes any other wrestlers who have developed their characters. Drake said he tries not to pay attention to other wrestlers because his main focus is to become a better wrestler every day. He did, however, mention Braun Strowman as someone who has greatly improved from where he started. He went as far to say he would like to work with Strowman in the future.
"I have seen a little bit of Braun Strowman, not to put over the other company," he said. "But I knew that guy, we started together over in WWE, and I didn't know if was gonna be able to do much or loosen up, but man he's really taken the reins and gotten really good. And hell, that's a guy actually down the road that I'd like to work with, if I'm honest."