Most wrestlers when they get into the wrestling business is to get to the WWE. That is where they are likely to make the most money and the best chance to become a worldwide superstar. Make a mistake and it can all go away.
Eli Drake made his debut in 2006 teaming up with Jon Moxley better known as Dean Ambrose to take on The Big Show. In 2008, Drake was supposed to have a tryout match at a Raw taping. Drake made a cardinal sin, he showed up late to the taping and got himself into a whole bunch of trouble that lasted awhile.
"So 2008, I had a tryout with [WWE] at RAW," Drake said on The Art of Wrestling podcast. "It was in Philadelphia or something, or Washington, D.C. I worked a dark match, [they] loved it, brought me back the following week. They wanted me to go to Philadelphia and Connecticut. I went to Philadelphia. Jamie Noble was making sure I worked out ahead of everybody, so that the agents saw me because he was certain that I was going to get a job. The next day, on Tuesday, without too many details, I show up an hour late like an idiot and that was pretty much the end of the road for me. And they wouldn’t touch me for like… they wouldn’t even talk to me or answer my phone calls for over two years.”
Being exiled from any promotion isn't ideal, but being banished from the biggest wrestling company in the world is committing career suicide. The current TNA star had a pretty good reason for being late to the taping.
“I separated my shoulder maybe a week before that and I was in a lot of pain and so I just kept thinking, like, ‘maybe I can go somewhere and get it checked out'," Drake said. "I went to one place, they had a long wait. I went to another place, their X-Ray machine wasn’t working. I went to another place. They weren’t accepting walk-ins. I said, ‘screw this, I’m going to go to the gym and get a pump and go to the arena.’ As I get to the gym, there’s a physiotherapy place right next door. I go get them to check it out. She takes her sweet time, but it felt great. And then, I was like, ‘okay, there’s only limited time, but I can’t go in there flat.’ Especially 2008, it was a much more body guy business, so was like, ‘I got to get pumped up’. So I’m like, ‘maybe they won’t notice if I’m half-an-hour late’. Well, 30 minutes turned into an hour and, stupid me, by the time I got there, everybody’s bags are unpacked and they were already in the ring.”
Drake went back to continue wrestling on the independent scene until 2013 when he signed finally with WWE and was assigned to NXT. It was there where found out from Senior Director of Talent Development for WWE, Canyon Cemen that he had been blacklisted from the company due to the 2008 incident.
“I’m on great terms with them now," Drake stated. "One of the greatest things that ever happened, at least personally, to me as well, and I don’t mean to slather his ass up, but I really actually like Canyon Ceman. As funny name as he has, he’s a good dude. But it hasn’t always been nice, but we’ve always been very open with each other and very straightforward. He can say what he’s feeling, I can say what I’m feeling, so I’ve always enjoyed that. At the same time, the regime before him, you didn’t know what you were getting from one day to another, so that was very frustrating and that’s when I found out I was on some kind of blacklist for like two years. I had no idea. But then, I guess who was responsible for that got fired and that’s when Canyon came in and he has been cool to me since day one.
"There has been a little bit of adversity here and there. What happened when I was in NXT was Bill and I didn’t get along, Bill DeMott, which a lot of people say, ‘surprise, surprise,’ but even with him, I didn’t have anything [negative to say], I mean, there are certain days I have plenty bad to say about him, but as a whole, in general it was weird. Some days we’d get along wonderfully, and then other days, it was hot and cold. But still, generally, I don’t have a bad thing to say about the experience.”