Eli Drake On Past Problems With WWE, Why He Turned WWE Down, AEW Deal Falling Through

Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin was joined on the program by NWA's Eli Drake. Among many other things, Drake talked about rubbing people the wrong way in WWE and Impact Wrestling.

On the subject of his brief WWE run, Drake said he rubbed people the wrong way as people tend to misunderstand his shyness.

"I can be very misunderstood in a lot of ways. When I was at the Performance Center, I was super hated for probably two or three months because I'm a quiet guy. I'm very much an introvert and it shocks people when they see what I do on TV because I'm verbose and I talk a lot." Drake continued, "everywhere I go that happens. I don't know if it is demeanor, the way I carry myself, or what it is. I think I carry myself very confidently, but then, me not talking to people I think translates [into] 'I don't want to talk to them' or whatever it is."

Apparently, Drake experienced similar issues at Impact until 'The Defiant One' let loose with the boys after Bound For Glory (2015).

"Same thing at Impact," Drake explained. "But one very sauced-up night after Bound For Glory (2015), a bunch of the guys like Robbie E., Simon Diamond, all these guys would joke that it was the biggest babyface turn in locker room history because I was super hated and then that one night it was just a big pivotal turn where all-of-a-sudden everyone loved me."

With respect to Drake's issues with former WWE trainer Bill DeMott, Drake indicated that the problems really began when he was late for Mattel action figure scans. Drake was not allowed to get scanned for his toy and he was pulled from live events and SmackDown.

"Mattel was coming in to do scans of everybody and I was put on that short list of guys to do the scans," Drake said. "Well, we had an NXT taping the night before and I had no food for the next day and again, being body conscious just like an idiot, not like an idiot, but in that moment like an idiot, I stayed up till 2 in the morning prepping food for the next day. Well, I had to get up at 6 am. to go to the Performance Center. I find out the hard way, I don't know what kind of phone you have, but I had a Samsung Galaxy at the time, and if you don't answer that alarm within 1 minute, it shuts off by itself. And I found out the hard way."

Drake continued, "I think I woke up 10 minutes before I was supposed to be there. I'm rushing in. I'm trying to call Bill, 'hey, I'm on my way in.' I get in there and I'm there 30 minutes late, but I'm still there before Mattel, so I'm like, 'okay, we should be fine. Fine me. Whatever you guys have got to do, I'm good.' And Bill's just like, 'no, you can't stay here. It sends a bad message.' And I'm like, 'Bill, you're killing me. This is a huge opportunity. Fine me! I'll do whatever we need to do.' And he's like, 'no, you've got to go.' He sends me out and I'm thinking, like, 'this is awful, this is terrible, this is really bad. It's a really bad punishment, but that wasn't the end of it. Then, I was taken off SmackDown. I was supposed to go to SmackDown in like 2 weeks. They took me off of that. They took me off the next probably three weeks to a month of live events in NXT. And I was like, 'Goddamn, you guys are really beating this one into me!'"

According to Drake, DeMott was the only WWE coach with whom he had heat.

"I don't know if you know Chris Chambers. Of course you know Michael Cole. Dusty Rhodes. Of course, you know Dusty. They're all putting me over. Like, 'you should be on RAW, SmackDown, whatever.' This is when NXT was still just coming up. They're like, 'you're ready for everything. I don't know if you have heat, this, that, or the other.' But I think I went to do a dark match in NXT one time and Michael Cole's talking about, 'we want you to go down and do this, this,' and he was saying something to Bill about, 'hey, can we have him for?' I forget what it was, but they wanted me for something at the Performance Center. I'm standing right there and Bill just goes, 'yeah, we'll do that, but he doesn't take direction very well.' I was like, 'well, goddamn Bill!'"

Drake explained, "he was the only coach I had heat with. Bill Gunn, we were great! Norman Smiley, we were great! Robbie Brookside, we were great! [William] Regal, we were great! All these guys, Joey Mercury always put me over, but for whatever reason there was just heat there. [DeMott] was the one guy who writes the reports and decides if you're moving on or not."

Drake noted that WWE legend and NXT guru Triple H told him that he is his own worst enemy.  

"At some point, when I ended up getting released, it was Triple H," Drake recalled. "I went up to talk to him the night before and I said, 'I don't know if you know a lot about what I'm doing, but I'd like to have an opportunity to try and showcase whether it's talking, character, whatever I do, and I was ready to make some pitches. And he was like, 'I know about you. You're very talented. People have been putting you over, but the problem is that you're your own worst enemy."

Drake has alluded to receiving interest from WWE in the past and clarified his remarks saying WWE had been interested for the last 3 years, but Impact kept giving him raises to keep 'The Namer Of Dummies' with the company. Moreover, Drake may regret not going to WWE given how much money WWE Superstars are making now. While Drake will reconsider his options in the future, he seemed content with NWA at the moment.  

"There [has] been interest from WWE for the last 3 years, but I kept turning them down because Impact kept giving me raises, which, maybe, in the long term, might not have been the best move only because your up potential in WWE is so crazy. Just the money people are making from the Saudi shows and now with AEW and whatnot, people are getting more money out of that too. But it was kind of to the point for 3 years, I was kind of ringing their bell, and then turned away, and went somewhere else. I probably annoyed the s–t out of them at this point, so I don't know.

"AEW, there was interest there. We kind of had a deal worked out, but that ended up falling through. And then, I talked to Ring Of Honor. I talked to NWA. The most appealing offer I had was from NWA with Billy Corgan and Dave Lagana. So at this point, I feel like it [has] got such a buzz. Obviously, it's brand new and who knows where it's going to go or what it's going to do? It's on YouTube now. I know a lot of people kind of look down at that, but you have to look at it like it is accessible to anybody anywhere. Maybe that seems a little low rent in some sense, but I actually think it's kind of rock 'n' roll, which is exactly what Billy is. As he says, he innovates in the space he is given and I think that's the way to go. Right now, I love what I'm doing with the NWA. Whether that means I stay there and make that place the best place it could possibly be or somebody comes along with an offer, at the end of the day, I'm a business man and I am my own business, so anything is possible, but it all depends on what is on the table. At this point, my main focus is NWA because it's hot. It's the only different thing, to me, that I see going on in [pro] wrestling today. Everything else just kind of resembles each other and we're the one thing that looks very incredibly different and feels different."

Drake added, "to me, it's NWA at this point."

Oh hell (dummy) yeah! If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.