Exclusive Interview – Eli Drake: “There’s a PPV Coming up on Sunday and I’m Going to Make That Thing as Damn Good as I Can”

When he became the Impact World Champion in October 2017, no one was more surprised than Eli Drake. But the Impact Wrestling fans were not as, since 2015, Eli Drake has proven the world he was not only a talented wrestler but also a very charismatic man, a mic in hand. Drake fought his way to the top on Impact Wrestling. And he had to face and name a lot of Dummies for that… Tomorrow, at Homecoming, he will have to take a huge challenge, facing TNA Hall of Famer Abyss, in The Asylum in Nashville, where The Monster started to build his legend, in a Monster’s Ball match, which is Abyss’s signature match. Whatever happens, Eli Drake will give 110% in this match, because that’s the only way he knows.

SteelChair Magazine had the chance to talk to Eli Drake a few days ago. He talked about his ride with Impact Wrestling in 2018, his current “anti-hardcore” storyline, Homecoming and his upcoming Monster’s Ball match against Abyss, and what the future may hold for him.

This Sunday, at “Homecoming”, you will compete against Abyss in a Monster’s Ball match, which is one of the most gruelling matches on Impact. How do you apprehend and prepare for it?

At this point, I’m just trying to figure out how to avoid all the barbed wire and thumbtacks. I don’t know, we’ll see what happens.

It seems like Abyss won’t be alone, as Tommy Dreamer and Raven have been involved in the build-up of this match. How do you feel to work with these 3 hardcore legends?

You’re talking about legends in the business. There’s Tommy Dreamer who has spanned just about any company that has ever existed. It’s kind of the same for Raven. Abyss has been with Impact since Day One. It’s really cool to hear my name with the ones of those guys.

Where does this rowing paddle come from? We’ve already seen pretty unusual weapons in hardcore matches, but I think this one is definitely new, and bizarre. 

It just so happened to be in the trash can full of crap that Tommy brought out earlier. He made happen to bring that out, I took a liking to it and it super looks to my appendage, so I’m probably going to keep that weapon by my side for a little bit, even if now the thing is broken in half after I was whacked the chair with, the one that was on Tommy’s head, but actually I’ll have it with me on this week’s episode of Impact.

Do you really embrace that anti-hardcore crusade that is your current storyline on Impact?

It comes from an interview I did a while back on AMBY. I was giving my point of view on what wrestling was kind of becoming, and not just about the hardcore stuff. There’s a bunch of videos turning around with guys using light tubes and stupid crap like that. It looks a lot like the dancey-looking overly choreographed Cirque du Soleil spots that I can’t stand. It’s more the  150-pound tiny guys that I can’t stand, or the fat idiots that look like everybody in the crowd. I have basically stood against that kind of stuff and verbalized against. It’s kind of, in this sense, showed out as me standing against hardcore, but it’s a much larger spectrum. But hardcore is a thing to aim at right now. The real hardcore wrestlers were big men, larger-than-life characters. Now guys are decided to do stupid stunts to get attention, instead of actually being a star and learn how to be a star. You don’t have to do a bunch of stuff where you’re killing yourself every day and night.

What do you think of “Homecoming” as a whole, the PPV, the card, coming back to Nashville?

It’s cool because I think I went to Nashville for maybe 10 hours to go shoot some stuff last year, just before I went to Japan. But, other than that, I’ve never spent any time in Nashville. The fact that I get to go wrestle in Nashville for the first time, which is where this whole thing started, it’s amazing. It’s going to be really cool to go over there, I think we’re going to have a live crowd because you will have all these people who’ve been kind of clamouring for their homegrown product to come back. So we’re going back to the Asylum, the place where it all started. I think it’s going to be awesome. If you consider the histrionics of the man that I’m facing there, again a homegrown talent, Abyss, in Impact,  who has been there since Day One,  when it started in Nashville, I think it’s going to be really awesome. The card is stacked top to bottom, so it can’t go wrong.

2018 was not the easiest year for you on Impact. You were the Champion, Austin Aries came back and took the belt away from you. Even if you were wrestling, you were not involved in any major storyline. How did you live that situation? 

I definitely talked about my frustration over the past year on that exact subject. A lot of that comes from uncertainty, as far as my contract status is concerned. Going into the spring and summer, I wasn’t sure if I was going to stay or go. Eventually, I decided to stay but I don’t think anybody expected that I was going to, even the company themselves. So they pretty much didn’t prioritize me at that point, but it looks like now we’re moving back in the right direction.

Tell me a few words about Scott Steiner and the fact of teaming up with him, to the point of being Impact Tag Team Champions in 2018. 

Scott Steiner was awesome to work with. Here’s the guy again that I was watching when I was a kid when he was a part of the Steiner Brothers in the early 90s or when he was a part of NWO in the mid-90s. Working with Big Poppa Pump was a big deal. He may not be in his prime anymore, he’s 56, but he’s a guy who can still go at his age and throw a Frankensteiner off the top rope. I don’t know if anybody saw me on the side of the ring when that happened, but I think I jumped right out of my shoes.

After such a complex 2018, do you still think you made the right decision to stay with Impact? Do you still think it’s the right place to be?

There were pros and cons in either way you look at. If I had left, I would definitely have done myself a service in a way. But at the same time, I would have been doing myself a disservice, because the money that I’m making right now on Impact is good. I would have been making less money if I’d have gone elsewhere and I don’t feel that, after 15 years of the business, I really need to go back to wrestling schools five days a week, if you get what I’m saying. So, at this point, I’m making good money, I’m enjoying my life and the right to live where I want to live, which is in Southern California, as opposed to moving myself to Florida or wherever else. So it was kind of a lifestyle decision, as far as what I wanted to do. But coming up the end of May 2019, we’re doing the contract thing all over again, so who knows what I’ll do, where I’m going to be working with well. We will find out, but, as far as where I am right now, I’m an Impact company man. There’s a PPV coming up on Sunday and I’m going to make that thing as damn good as I can.

Follow Eli Drake on Twitter @TheEliDrakeAll pics and screencaps courtesy of Impact Wrestling.