Listening to Eli Drake and Johnny Impact in the same IMPACT media call couldn’t help making me think of the sultry song of French singer Serge Gainsbourg “Je t’aime, moi non plus” (I love you, me neither). Because as much these guys can hate what each other represent, they have a tremendous respect for each other and the same desire to rule the wrestling world. As far as they could disagree on their gimmicks or who’s going to the Global Champion, they know they’re two of the best players in the wrestling business and would do anything to prove it on IMPACT Wrestling.
The Mayor of Slam Town vs. The Namer of Dummies
As IMPACT is taping new episodes this week from Orlando, Eli Drake is absolutely sure of one thing. “E-Li Drake walks in as a champion and E-Li Drake walks out as the champion.” Something of course Johnny Impact disagreed: “There are people who are so deliriously convinced that what they believe is true and they will regret it as they’re absolutely wrong just like the other guys on the phone talking to you all.”
When it comes to his charismatic presence, Eli Drake thinks holding the title is one of the keys to it. “I think it’s a God-given ability. The fact is you’ve got to have confidence. I believe everything that I say, I am everything that I say, and that’s really the key. There’s one man who is holding that title. And why is that? Because I’m good with a microphone? Maybe. ” Johnny found his answer surreal. “It’s a good thing that we’ve got those 6 sides in the ring because 4 sides might not be big enough to contain Eli’s ego. You need to be a little bit delirious if you want to be Eli Drake because your confidence is way higher than your talent and you have to believe things that aren’t true.”
Johnny Impact has never stopped being innovative in the ring and when he was asked how he works on it, he insisted on the intense process it represents. “I’m applying a lot of the concepts of parkour to wrestling, using the environment as an advantage in a wrestling match. Going through all of those scenarios like a crazy outline in your head before the match and during the match, you come up with a bunch of weird, cool, outside the box, stuff.” A vision Eli Drake is not ready to share: “I pretty much keep myself to the most part of stuffs pretty basic, every now and then I hit you with something that’s a little bit of flash, but for the most part I keep my eyes on the ground.”
Bringing this business to the top
As different as they could be, when it comes to the business they have been a part of for more than a decade, they found some points of agreement. 2017 had been a fantastic year for wrestling, something they are both perfectly aware of. For Johnny, “what we saw in 2017 was the first time we started to feel the voice of the wrestling fans. You saw the rise of independent wrestling and IMPACT Wrestling. The alternatives to products that have been pre-existing for a long time started to rise in 2017 and I see that trend continuing in 2018.” Eli Drake confirmed: “You have two men on this phone that are the best players in the world right now. Anytime you get either of us in a ring, there’s gonna be a hell to show, you’ve got Johnny Impact flipping all over the damn place, you’ve got me punching him right in the face. I guess wrestling’s booming in a way but we’ve still got work to do because we haven’t even touched an inkling of the amount that I want to have their eyes on us.”
Being 2018 IMPACT best player
Johnny Impact made his debut with IMPACT the same day Eli Drake became IMPACT Global Champion, on August 24 in the 20-Man Gauntlet for the Gold Match. And ever since the two have competed again and again for the coveted Global belt. Until Alberto El Patron made his comeback at Bound for Glory. When I asked them how a chip he has become on their shoulders, their answers were clear. “In the past, I’ve been a big fan of Alberto El Patron, I love competition and Alberto always brings it. What I don’t love is Alberto sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. If you wanted a match with me and, I’d even dare say if you wanted a match with Eli, either of us, we would probably be happy to give him a match for the IMPACT Global Championship”, Johnny stated and Eli agreed on, as five stitches were necessary to repair the damages made by Alberto’s belt shot on Eli’s face that night.
If Chris Adonis is certainly one of the major reasons why Eli Drake’s been the Champion for more than 140 days, Johnny Impact is decided to make it on his own. “I’ve been really excited to be Johnny Impact and doing everything on my own without help from anybody. That is one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about Impact is, a clean character and a clean history.” So when they were asked what would it take to make them tag team, a clear “no” echoed. For Johnny, “It would take a lot from the 2 of us to team up. Eli is undeniably talented, we could be taking on just about anybody in the wrestling world. But would I have a good time doing it? No.” For Eli, “You can bet that there is no other team on Earth that could touch the team of Impact and Drake. Is that going to be a sunny day in the park? No.”
Well, what’s bred in the bone comes out in the flesh… Eli Drake and Johnny Impact are decided to be 2018 IMPACT Wrestling Top Superstar, Drake by cementing his legacy as the Global Champion, Impact by adding on his mantel the IMPACT belt to the WWE, AAA, Lucha Underground and 5-Star Wrestling titles he’s won since 2007. And of this contrast of views could emerge one of the best years IMPACT has ever had…
All pics courtesy of IMPACT Wrestling