Amidst all the buzz of WrestleMania week, including a pretty huge spectacle at the Hall of Fame induction involving Bret Hart, it’s tough for some news to break the white noise. But on Sunday morning, IMPACT Wrestling announced they had released Eli Drake. The press release was short and sweet:
Impact Wrestling announced today that it has terminated its relationship with Shaun Ricker, known as ‘Eli Drake’.
Eli Drake is a 17-year pro who began working in 2002 in the Ohio indies with Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA). As Dick Rick, he was an HWA Television Champion and frequently paired with Pepper Parks in The Crew. In 2009, know going by Shaun Ricker, he formed the tag team Natural Selection with future IMPACT workmate Brian Cage. He spent the next few years on the West Coast, working with the likes of Championship Wrestling From Hollywood, where he captured the CWFH Heritage Championship.
He made his debut with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling in 2015 as part of The Rising, the stable lead by Drew McIntyre that also featured Bullet Club‘s Tanga Loa. The three were on a mission to bring back tradition wrestling to TNA and it helped introduce Eli Drake to the TNA fans.
Over the course of the next four years, Eli Drake became one of the company’s top heels, a craftsman on the mic, who won the IMPACT World Heavyweight Championship in the summer of 2017. He held it for 146 days, before losing it to a returning Austin Aries in January of 2018.
Since then, Drake has remained bouncing around storylines without ever really getting back into the title picture. He was originally booked for WrestleMania week’s United We Stand show from IMPACT, in an intergender match against Tessa Blanchard, but after some disparaging remarks on Twitter about his thoughts on intergender wrestling, he was quickly replaced by Joey Ryan. While many thought it may have been a work to set something up down the line – similar to what we saw happen with Disco Inferno and Scarlett Bourdeaux – it may have been more real than initially thought.
You couldn’t have hit the nail more directly on the head.
Although that said, I will not participate in a one on one intergender match. https://t.co/Hv5MydU8P6
— Eli Drake (@TheEliDrake) February 22, 2019
Eli Drake’s contract was apparently up this coming May, but for whatever reason, it looks like IMPACT Wrestling has decided to move on from Eli Drake and the former World Champion is now a free agent.