Ring Rust Radio: There have been wholesale changes behind the scenes in recent months for Impact Wrestling. How has the locker room embraced the change and what’s the feeling backstage as the company continues to make improvements?
Eli Drake: It’s different for sure because you got a lot of guys have kind of establish themselves over the last few years under a different regime. No matter what regime, there is undeniable talent here. The fact is now you got a bunch of new faces coming in and it’s a mixed reaction because you look at that and it’s like these guys are coming to try to take my spot? Nah. That’s a problem. So, I look at it like that, but I enjoy that competition. All that does is light a fire under me and once that happens I start to get hot whether it’s verbally or physically, but it’s actually good fuel.
Ring Rust Radio: From your perspective, what have been some of the biggest differences, for better or worse, between the leadership of Dixie Carter and that of Jeff Jarrett?
Eli Drake: I don’t want to badmouth anybody, but let me just put it like this, since the new regime has taken over, there is definitely more structure. Things seem to be more level for relations between the office and the talent, a lot more organization if you will. Not so up in the air. There were too many questions before and a lot of it now seems we are getting a lot more answers, so that’s a big plus.
Ring Rust Radio: You’ve been signed with Impact Wrestling for over two years. How has the experience been thus far and what are your long-term goals with the company now?
Eli Drake: It’s been pretty amazing. I have to tell you, when I first got there, I had a goal in mind; make a lot of noise, be seen, make sure people that have seen me before see me again and they know that this guy is going to make an impact, no pun intended, Since I’ve been there it’s been really cool and great. They’ve given me a great platform to do things kind of my way in a sense. In the sense that I get to go out there and do my talk show and a lot of that is been at my own creation. A lot of that has been going out there and just saying what’s on my mind. If you saw the segment with EC3 back in October, it was a real and heated segment, it was one of my favorites. We just went out there and said what was on our minds. That’s kind of what I like about it. It is a tightly run ship, but at the same time there is a little bit of wiggle room.
Ring Rust Radio: It's no secret that some big names have departed Impact Wrestling in recent months, specifically the Hardy’s. When you see big stars like Matt and Jeff leave, as a performer do you view that negatively or think of it as an opportunity for yourself?
Eli Drake: Personally, I love the Hardys and I wish they hadn’t gone, on a personal and professional level. I just think they are incredible. Especially for the fact you can take guys that had an established thing for over 20 years and be able to reinvent themselves that way is amazing. That’s a huge talent to lose, but at the same time it’s the wrestling business. People are going to come and go and you got to keep churning and keep pushing and that’s an opportunity I salivate at. Now there’s a big void to be filled and who is going to fill that void? If I’m looking at it, I can’t see how I don’t fill that void. You got a guy that has all the tools, the total package, not Lex Luger, the actual real total package. That’s a great opportunity for me to kind of step up and get noticed and put me right in that spot.
Ring Rust Radio: We're big fans of the "dummy, yeah" catchphrase and the button. Everything seemed to click for us. How did you come up with that part of your gimmick?
Eli Drake: I’ve been saying “dummy” for probably five or six years on the independents. I just thought it is a funny word that nobody seemed to use. It’s childish I guess, but if you say with the right demeanor it still has some heat behind it. What ended up happening was for whatever reason; whenever somebody would ask me a yes or no question I would just go “yeah.” So, when we went in to record the sound for the dummy button, I was just saying different dummies and one time I just threw out “dummy, yeah.” Just out of pure habit. It was kind of an accident, but a very fortunate accident. So that’s the one we ended up going with and I think it fits perfectly. Now every time I go out there, everyone’s chanting “dummy, yeah.”
Ring Rust Radio: Whether it's from a company-wide perspective or something you can do as an individual, what's one thing that can be improved upon or changed to help Impact Wrestling solidify itself as appointment viewing for all wrestling fans?
Eli Drake: I tell you this: I am there, I watch the show, I’m in the show and that crowd is a lot more reactive and interactive than you can ever tell on TV. I don’t know if it’s just the mic in the crowd or the acoustics in the room, but that energy you can feel it in the room, but for whatever reason it doesn’t translate to TV. I think that would be a big thing that would help the viewers at home enjoy the show. If you see the crowd in house enjoying the show, you are going to enjoy the show that much more. I think that’s a huge thing. I think, and this might be a controversial thing to say, but I think taking guys from another brand or maybe mid-card guys and bringing them over and putting them immediately in the main event, I don’t think is a great idea. I think that kind of solidifies us as second place and I don’t think that is a smart move. That’s just one man’s opinion, though. I think that would help us move forward.