Corey Graves got his wish with Drew Gulak as a guest on After The Bell, something that he said he wanted for a long time. The two talked about Gulak's beginnings as a pro wrestling fan and as a pro wrestler. Gulak talked about the process of his WWE tryout and his entry into the Cruiserweight Classic.
"I went back to England to do another tour, and I got a random text message from Tommy Dreamer while I was in England," Gulak said. "He was like, 'hey man, your number passed to William Regal.' So I'm like yeah, absolutely. He message me and asked if I was interested in doing a tryout for WWE. In 2015 was when I came down to do a tryout. I was working a part-time job at the time, still doing independent shows [and] living in downtown Philadelphia. My tryout featured myself, Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Shane Thorne [and] Ember Moon, so quite a lot of people that I know.
"I think it was the first tryout that Matt Bloom was conducting on his own after he had taken over training duties at the Performance Center. That was my first time meeting him. We had the tryout. Oney Lorcan was at the tryout too, who was a close friend and rival of mine throughout my years in the indies, so it was cool to get to do that with my friends and experience that whole thing together," Gulak said. "Then a few weeks later, I got the email that said, 'sorry, we don't have anything for you right now.' I know people close to me took that a lot harder than I did, but I knew to just keep pressing on. Within a year, I continued working with Evolve, who was growing a relationship with WWE, and I was learning there under Gabe Sapolsky. The Cruiserweight Classic just started to happen. It was called 'The Global Cruiserweight Series' at first. I didn't have anything confirmed. My hopes were never up, but I knew I was gonna have an opportunity match to get into it against Tracy Williams, and then it worked out. Next thing I know, my picture is front and center on the CWC advertisement, which was crazy to me like you got all these international talents then you got Philadelphia Drew Gulak right dead center. That kind of stuff was very surreal."
When Matt Riddle vs. Drew Gulak was announced for Evolve's 10th anniversary show, fans knew it was special due to the two's involvement in the Catch Point stable. Gulak has filed a trademark for the stable name, and he talked about the origins of the stable and their best opponent.
"Catch Point was the name of a group of wrestlers and the style that we were championing at the time. If you have an opportunity, you take it. You don't worry about anything else. It really fits into the core of everything that I've done. You don't worry about that fan interaction. While there is that audience participation, but you're not seeking approval. You're seeking a long-term investment more than anything. So if I have an opportunity to climb up the ropes and do a moonsault, I'd rather just take the guy down and work into a pin," Gulak said. "There's a whole group of people that got into this at the same time. That group in Evolve was myself, Matt Riddle, Fred Yehi and 'Hot Sauce' Tracy Williams, and we added a bunch of people into the group as it grew. TJP was part of the group. Then Chris Dickinson and Jaka joined it later. We would feud with Timothy Thatcher. It was the perfect foil for us to compete against."
"He's an amazing, unique individual, Tim. He moved into his new apartment recently, and I said, 'man, I can't wait until you get a television.' He would be perfectly happy to just be in a room with a deck of cards, working out and just staring at the wall then maybe writing some stuff down," Gulak said. "He just recently got a smartphone, and it's the entry-level smartphone. This whole time I've known him he's had a flip phone.
"I can't wait to see him mix it up with some of the guys down there man. It's gonna be cool to see what kind of impact he makes. I think the world of him. He's like a perfectly timed rival of mine in the independents. Him and Oney Lorcan."
Gulak was not offered a contract after the CWC, so he spent his time back in the independent wrestling scene. He talked about getting a call to be on RAW for the cruiserweight matches that would be on RAW on occasion.
"My whole mentality was 'this'll go away. This isn't gonna lead to anything. Don't get my hopes up,' but at the same time, I'm gonna make the most of my opportunity that I have. After the Cruiserweight Classic happened, it was like, 'oh, something might happen soon. We'll keep in touch.' OK, great. I had my independent schedule as normal like I would do Combat Zone Wrestling, Chikara and Evolve. They were the three main ones that I would do all the time. I would do PWG just constantly every weekend traveling," Gulak said. "Then I'm working a PWG show, and I get a text message that says, 'hey, you're needed for RAW this week.' OK, needed for RAW this week. I get there, and all of sudden they're having cruiserweight matches on RAW. I don't even have a WWE contract. I know some guys got signed straight out of the Cruiserweight Classic, but I wasn't one of them. Now we're having cruiserweight showcase matches on RAW completely unrelated to anything other than we're bringing in the cruiserweight division in as attractions.
"The idea was that the atmosphere was supposed to change and it was supposed to be focused on the wrestling. One of Triple H's visions was the ring was gonna change like how the Cruiserweight Classic was, the ropes will be purple, the canvas will look different, all the lights in the arena will be purple and you guys will go out and do your wrestling match and you'll have time. It'll just be focused on the competition. That was really what it was supposed to be like just kind of something different, something different to have."
Gulak's time in 205 Live is best remembered for his politician-like character that would give PowerPoint presentations and instruct the 205 Live roster to not do high spots. Gulak talked about where the character came from and the process of putting it together.
"At first, they had me come in like, 'what do you want me to do?' It's like, 'we don't know just be a wrestler.' OK, I'll be a wrestler, but then it's like the tone of the show is changing completely. They needed to see more character stuff and foils, and that's when I approached the writing team of 205 Live who were eager to start getting things going and try different stuff out. It took me six months of talking about this character that I had done at Combat Zone Wrestling, who was a political champion of the people but really just out for his own interests and talking about the same kind of stuff like don't fly, don't do hardcore wrestling. That was the CZW version of it which is don't use weapons, listen to the referees and obey the rules that kind of stuff," Gulak said. "Six months later, I did a backstage with Mustafa Ali where I pull him aside like, 'hey man, have you ever thought about changing who you are and not jumping off the ropes so many times? Maybe it'll help you out more,' and it just grew from there. The team would come up with these gags like where I have my picket sign that would say 'no-fly zone' where I show that in people's faces, or I go out with a megaphone, which I never envisioned myself using a megaphone because that's been done before with Jimmy Hart. So I had to figure out a way to make it my own and just have fun with it."
205 Live would typically tape air after Smackdown in front of fans that would give little-to-no reaction to the matches. Gulak told a story about his feud with Ali and how the fans would get behind the match because of the story they were telling.
"I was proud of every moment that I got to spend in the ring or on screen with people. Everything. For real," Gulak stated. "Right off the bat connecting with Tony Nese, Noam Dar, Ariya Daivari and Jack Gallagher just being a group that would travel together and kind of be the backbone of the promotion at the time. Then getting the chance to show off that personality and go into a feud with Ali, that was so much fun. We got to do a lot of dramatic storytelling for our matches like we had a two-out-of-three falls match that capped off the end of that feud that was really fun [and] really stood out.
"There's a moment where he's down in the ring and tries a hurricarana, but I throw him off, and he's laying there. I go down for a second to see the takeover, but I look around and I start to climb the ropes, and the whole arena stands on their feet. We were used to getting no reactions at all because we're right after Smackdown. So it was like alright whatever. We're just gonna go out there and try our best and have fun, and people at home are getting into it, but it was still hard to us to generate the same energy because we didn't have the people all the time. Having them hooked into that match knowing everyone kind of understood the story of this whole feud really woke up something in my head like, 'they're still watching. They know what's going on.' Just that moment where I climb the ropes and everybody starts freaking out, and I missed and he beat me. That was a good pinnacle moment for that character."
Graves and Gulak remarked at the many changes 205 Live would go through in it's history. They did praise 205 Live for it's in-ring content and the wrestlers of the division. Gulak named two wrestlers from 205 Live that he calls the best in the company.
"After that, things would ride the waves. 205 Live has had a crazy [ride]. When you think about, man," Gulak said. "Some of the best wrestlers in the world. My god. Everyone is just so good there. Everyone is so good in the ring. I feel like Akira Tozawa and Jack Gallagher are two of the best in the world hands down in the company. Not that anyone else is below them, but I just personally feel like those guys are at the top."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.