wrestling / Columns

Looking at Eli Drake’s Impact Release, Madison Rayne’s Return, and More

April 25, 2019 | Posted by Dino Zee
Eli Drake

It’s been a little hectic here, if I’m being honest (and I am). WrestleMania weekend caused the piece on Allie’s demise to be delayed slightly, but after going through such an emotional, heartbreaking journey, I needed the rest anyways. Besides, two extremely big Hoodslam shows took place around that time (end of March and start of April saw the yearly ArnoCorps and Entertania shows, which were both insanely fun, as usual), so I hadn’t been able to keep up properly with the current events in Impact.

Having the last week or so to get back into the groove was exactly what I needed. Impact has its big Rebellion event coming up, and we will most likely provide an in-depth look at a few of the matches next week, if not all of them.

This time out, however, we decided it might be best to cover a couple different topics in quicker fashion, similar to my old Smart Marks format. Because, to be clear, there has been a lot of things going on in Impact, and I just haven’t had the time – or the energy, really – to cover it all. Losing Allie, as many of you were able to share, really hurt. I think, though, that what she’d want from us is to carry on, and to continue to support Impact.

The Big Loss: Impact Releases Drake

It’s no big secret that I’ve long been a huge fan of The Namer of Dummies, so when news broke towards the end of the first week of April that Impact had released E_Li_Drake, I was more than a bit let down by the news.

However, I can’t say it was at all surprising. This is a man who, since he first showed up in the company, has had to fight for every single inch as he worked his way up the mountain. Regardless of the people in charge, Drake was always targeted as some type of malcontent, a loud mouth who would never be happy, and so no attempt was ever made to please him.

The man who famously came in as The third guy in a group with a guy named Micah would slowly show that he was more than someone who could say funny things with a microphone. In time, he’d become a King of the Mountain Champion, a Two-Time Feast or Fired winner, and both of those briefcases were turned into championships as well.

His greatest moment in the company – for my money, anyways – was his performance in the Gauntlet for Gold in August of 2017. After getting in the face of then-management member Jim Cornette, Cornette would try to stick it to Drake by making him enter the match at #1, forcing him to outlast 19 other wrestlers if he wanted to become then-Global Force Heavyweight Champion.

It seemed like there was no way Drake could overcome this – he’d shown a desire to take the easy road, to use shortcuts before – and yet, when the smoke cleared, it was his hand being raised, and it was his hand holding the championship.

Immediately, the company did all that they could to bring his run to an end. For 5 months, Drake defended against any and all comers, and always managed to leave just as he had entered – as Champion. For 5 months, Impact management squirmed behind the scenes, bringing in anyone that they could think of to challenge him.

Of course, they finally found the perfect set of circumstances when, in the beginning of 2018, they were able to sign Austin Aries, who then surprised Drake with an unearned and impromptu challenge for the belt, ending with Aries as the new champion. Just like that, without any real fanfare or respect towards their champion, Drake’s run at the top was unceremoniously ended.

Since then, he’s done his best to stay relevant, but with the obvious forces working against him, it’s been met with mixed results. A randomly put together team with Scott Steiner, formed only when Chris Adonis bailed, did win the Tag Team Championships, but lost them and imploded almost as quickly.

Recently, Drake had been trying his heart out to restore Eddie Edwards to the wrestling champion we all knew and loved, and to get him to shed his more hardcore leanings, especially his fascination with Kenny the Kendo Stick. It was only about two weeks ago that the team even scored an impressive victory over LAX on an episode of Impact Wrestling. The team was absolutely working, even if it was an uneasy relationship.

That win over LAX, it appears, will be the last we see of Drake. After scoffing at the idea of facing Tessa Blanchard and then seemingly looking for his out via social media posts, he apparently got what he wanted.

As a fan of Impact, I will of course miss this blindingly bright spot of their shows. As a fan of the wrestler, I know that he will land on his feet, and he will do just fine. I don’t want to speculate as to where he’d go, but I think all the major usual suspects would do well to think about adding him to their roster.

At the end of the day, the loss here is Impact Wrestling’s. They obviously felt that the relationship had gotten to the point of no return and that they needed to sever it, but perhaps a little self-reflection would have revealed that, almost from day one, it was the company that treated the man like an afterthought, only to show incredible spite and jealousy once the afterthought realized his worth.

Fittingly, that’s not an insult to Impact Wrestling. It’s simply a fact of life.

… Yeah.

The Killa Queen Returns

With one door closing, another opened, and it allowed Madison Rayne to return to Impact Wrestling, where she immediately let it be known that she’s here simply to regain the Knockouts Championship which she’s held five times before.

Her first night back saw her wrestle valiantly, but still ultimately fall to Jordynne Grace. Even in the loss, Rayne showed that she had spent her time away wisely, still looking as spry as ever. There was no shame in losing to the woman who is currently recognized as the #1 Contender to Taya Valkyrie’s Knockouts Championship.

Those who did read a bit into her loss, however, would have to rethink their hypothesis when, the very next week, Rayne would step into the ring with Tessa Blanchard. Rayne entered the contest holding two previous wins over Blanchard, a fact she wasn’t slow to mention while they argued backstage. Tessa was quite ready to show Rayne how far she’d come since then, demanding a third match.

The contest itself was a competitive affair, until Gail Kim’s Ego forced her to leave the announce desk and interfere in the match. Much as she did at Homecoming, Gail’s actions would lead directly to Tessa’s loss, as she continued to distract Tessa from outside the ring, allowing Rayne a sneaky rollup for the win.

Fair play to Madison, for doing anything to get the win. And despite being perfect, perhaps Tessa should have decided to ignore Gail until the end of the match. However, Gail getting involved at all is the real crime here, as her months-long crusade to try and steal some of Tessa’s diamond-shine while Gail’s own dims out into the void has just become sad to watch. Either way, it was a big win for Madison, and shows that she’s absolutely not hear to rest on her past accolades, which is a nice change of pace from someone like, say, Gail Kim.

I’ve always been a fan of Madison, and am eager to see if she can fulfill her dream of a sixth championship. She won’t always have Gail Kim available to interfere though, so hopefully she’s aware of that. Regardless, this was a great pickup by Impact to help bolster the Knockout Division, especially in the wake of losing Allie.

Plus, she’s using Killa Queen again, which is a personal favorite theme of mine from the company.

Moose: This Ain’t Cool, Man

Quickly, a note to Moose. I know I’ve questioned your killer instinct before, but you were starting to win me over in recent months. Picking fights with The Rascalz, however, is not the way to keep that momentum going. You should be chasing championships, not hassling these guys!

Plus, I have a feeling that at some point, you’re going to be on the wrong end of an angry 3-on-1 beatdown, and you might be too embarrassed to ever come back.

For now, all this journalist can do is advise against this current strategy. Unless the end goal is an X Division Championship opportunity, I just don’t see how you think beating up The Rascalz will get you anywhere you want to be.

Of course, as I’ve pointed out for a while now, Moose doesn’t exactly think things through.