Eli Drake recently spoke with Chris Van Vliet about his IMPACT Wrestling departure and the details that led to him leaving the company. Drake says he let IMPACT know earlier in the year that he didn’t intend to re-sign with the company, adding that he almost left a year prior but ultimately re-signed with them. Drake had addressed this during his appearance on the Wrestling Perspective Podcast in March, saying he considered the idea of leaving the company before signing his last contract with the company. He added that he enjoyed the last few months, but the first few months on his [then new] deal had him feeling like he’d been “written into oblivion.” Drake doubled down on those comments and told Van Vliet that he had a big decision to make, but did starting having fun around Bound For Glory through his final feud with Eddie Edwards.
“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.”
Drake’s departure from IMPACT came on April 7 after he was fired by the company, and it was later reported one reason for being let go was his public criticism of a planned intergender match with Tessa Blanchard at United We Stand in Rahway. Drake tells Van Vliet that he ultimately worked things out with the company and officially became a free agent a few weeks ago, and his split was amicable and has no reason to slander the company.
When asked about specific problems he had with the match with Blanchard, Drake said he found out about the match on social media with everyone else and immediately reached out to the proper channels to voice his issues with the match. Drake said it was nothing against Blanchard, putting her over as a great wrestler, but he specifically said the size disparity and losing on his way out of the company at the expense of his brand were things he didn’t want to do.
“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.”
“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.”
Drake was asked about the non-compete clause that would have seen him sitting out for 12 months. He says he doesn’t think Ed Nordholm was ultimately going to enforce that, saying their relationship was almost on a friendly level and that he believes it was just a communication issue. Drake was also asked about potential talks with WWE, saying he’s never had anything formal presented to him, but there have been conversations in the past and he ultimately chose to stay with IMPACT at the time due to those offers being better for him personally.
The full interview with Eli Drake can be seen in the player below. Chris Van Vliet also launched a new podcast format this week; the show is available on Apple Music (https://apple.co/2IGzIAt) and Spotify (https://spoti.fi/2X3de0h)