“This is just the start… you know that right?” David Lagana tweeted days after Eli Drake debuted in Ring of Honor as the replacement for the injured Colt Cabana, partner to Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis. Lagana tweeted “I wasn’t kidding… it’s really going to go fast now. Keep your [eyes] open.
Eli Drake is a product of the Heartland Wrestling Association. Trained by Cody Hawk (the man responsible for training Jon Moxley, Karl Anderson, Sami Callihan, and countless others). Drake became a regular for the HWA towards the end of 2003.
It would be in October of 2009 when Drake would find his footing with the National Wrestling Alliance. There he and Brian Cage would form a tag team in the affiliate of Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Mach1 Wrestling. The duo of Cage and Drake would be branded as Natural Selection would win the M1W Tag Titles, later the NWA Heritage Tag Team Titles. The duo would also be joined by the Late Percy Pringle. After the tag team lost the titles Cage and Drake feuded briefly. It wasn’t long before Drake was slotted into main event matches, even challenging NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce on an episode of CWFH.
It was evident that Drake was being groomed as one of the top names in Hollywood. “[Drake] wasn’t on anyone’s radar but mine. That I know of,” admitted CWFH Promoter and former NWA Member, David Marquez. At the time, the NWA was in flux. The Worlds Heavyweight Title was being contested in a best of seven series: Seven Levels of Hate. Colt Cabana and Adam Pearce were battling each other all across the country, World title in tow. It seemed that if things were up to Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Eli Drake would have been one of the top challengers to the Worlds Championship. Matches pitting Drake against Cabana were at least discussed by the CWFH office. But during the middle of the Seven Levels of Hate, there was an ownership change. Shortly after Percy passed away Drake was signed by the WWE.
Drake never reached his potential in the WWE Developmental system. He eventually was released and pursued opportunities with Impact Wrestling. Drake took advantages of the opportunities presented to him and won the King of the Mountain Championship before winning the Impact Championship. A title previously held by Nick Aldis.
The National Wrestling Alliance now boasts a roster that features Worlds Heavyweight Champion – Nick Aldis, National Champion – James Storm, Woman’s Champion – Allysin Kay, Tag Team Champions – PCO and Brody King, Tim Storm, Jocephus, Bradley Jay, and War Kings (Jax Dane & Crimson). There has been no formal announcement for television taping, but Billy Corgan said at the Crockett Cup 2019 “Meet and Greet” stated that there was a plan to start taping in the fall.