Former IMPACT star Eli Drake was interviewed by Chris Van Vilet from WSVN-TV in Miami to talk about his recent departure from IMPACT wrestling. Drake discusses in detail the issues he had with the intergender matchup he was put in with Tessa Blanchard, explaining that it made him uncomfortable. He would go on to praise Blanchard, even calling her the best female wrestler in the world. Drake also touches briefly on his non-compete clause, and whether or not he’s received an offer from WWE. Highlights are below.
On his departure from Impact Wrestling:
Back in January, I basically just let them know like ‘hey, I’m not intending to stay this year.’ I kind of let them know my intentions that I wasn’t planning to stay this year. I really thought about it last year and I almost left. I know they thought I was leaving, I thought I was leaving at one point and I ultimately decided to stay. I kind of came to the decision that there are a lot of options now. I wasn’t happy with how the first half of the last year went for me but I will say, the last part of the year was a lot of fun. Even though it was Ellsworth or whatever. Just doing what we did in New York, that play I had with the audience there and with him. It was so much fun. From then on it was a great time.
He said things with Impact were hashed out after he publicly objected to doing an intergender match and some other things that were said about the company:
Eventually, we kind of hashed it out. We had some emails back and forth and finally I had a phone call with Ed Nordholm [just before the beginning of June]. He was very gracious to reach out. We had kind of spoken at length on what we could agree on, what we could do to move forward in a way that’s amicable. I told him that I have no intentions of giving Impact a bad rap. They’ve been very good to me. I live a comfortable life because of the money that I made there.
Drake addressed the issues he had with the intergender match with Tessa Blanchard:
So they announced the match and I had no prior knowledge of it. Nobody had said anything. I find out about it on Twitter. That’s not terribly abnormal, I don’t think. I think that it’s a more special situation though only because I know that somebody else had already turned that match down because of his own discomfort with it. I understand that they have pressure to announce events and get it out there. I completely understand that. I completely empathize with that … When I saw the announcement, I immediately emailed the necessary outlets and said ‘hey guys, I’m not comfortable doing this. I will wrestle anybody else on the roster, I’m just not very comfortable doing an intergender match.’ … I have amazing respect for Tessa Blanchard. I’ve told many people that she is easily the best female wrestler in the world. She’s so intense with everything she does and her facials and moves.
What specifically made him uncomfortable about doing an intergender match with Tessa Blanchard:
I don’t even like wrestling really small guys a lot of the time. It just feels phony. Some people are gonna disagree with me on this but I kind of like to use people who aren’t big time wrestling fans as kind of a litmus test. I had a show in North Carolina last year and the guy that I wrestled was easily 100 pounds lighter than me. [My girlfriend] was like ‘it looked like father and son wrestling in there. It looked like you were beating up a child.’ So thinking about that and knowing that I’m leaving the company, I know that I’m not going over. That’s fine and for the most part that doesn’t matter but at the same time I don’t want to completely crush my brand.
On the 12-month non-compete that Impact was going to enforce:
I don’t think that Ed Nordholm actually truly intended to uphold that. I only say that because he and I never had any kind of issues. Never had a cross word. We were always very cordial. I would almost say downright friendly in our interactions. I think it was just a matter of communications from other upper voices, so to speak. Who knows?
Has he heard from WWE?
I have friends there that I talk to but there haven’t been any formal offers made or anything. They’re probably sick of me by this point. We talked for the last 3 years and they made me some offers but the offer to stay at Impact was just better.