Drew Gulak

WWE's Elder Statesman. For A Better 205 Live!

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205 Live EVENTS!

After the Cruiserweight Classic in 2016 I was simply told, "Thank you. We will let you know if any other opportunities come up in the near future." I've heard this time and again throughout my career in wrestling. I believe that in life, no one is truly owed anything, and I am not one to get my hopes up or my heart set on accomplishments that are not in my control. That said, being eliminated in the second round of WWE's historic tournament was in as many ways a wake up call as it was a major accomplishment.

Back in 2004, after spending a year on the ring crew and helping to clean up after live events at CZW, my brother Rory and I were invited to the wrestling school an hour away in Deptford, NJ. The hour is made up of mostly traffic to anyone local doing the math between there and Northeast Philly. He was given a piece of paper with a waiver on it the week prior and we put both our names on it and had our Mom sign it. Our friend Pugsley drove us to the school in his pickup truck and we started training together that summer.

Zandig, CZW Owner/Deathmatch Icon, would run class here and there, Jon Dahmer being the head trainer at the time with DJ Hyde assisting. I remember Zandig took us outside and very bluntly told us we probably wouldn't "make it." He was simply being honest having seen so many people come thorough the school thinking they could just jump into a pro wrestling ring and live out whatever fantasy they had in mind. I've seen it many times myself. Whatever you want to pursue in life you have to be all in. And you have to want to be all in. You could never be let down if so.

Whenever an opportunity falls through I always remember that according to the boss we weren't supposed to make it. This is why I never get my hopes up. I love every aspect of what I do and as long as I get to share it in some way I am fulfilled.

A few weeks after the end of the Cruiserweight classic I got a last minute text message to be at RAW for a Cruiserweight appearance. I cancelled family plans, a common theme in this line of work if you let it become one, and it was game time. This went on for weeks without a contract or the promise of being signed to one. People have expressed to me that without a guarantee they would be worried. The truth is I had been living my life without guarantees since I turned 10 and we upped and moved one summer with my Grandparents into the city. It was reinforced when I started training in pro wrestling. It was reinforced every time I got an opportunity to perform in the ring whether it was training or in front of paying customers. Nothing in life is guaranteed.

When the decision to begin 205 Live was made, within days the Cruiserweight division was sitting in a meeting with the show's creators and directors. We were all told it was to become a touring brand with an identity of its own and everyone I knew was excited about the prospect. Then came the growing pains.

Growing pains are a necessary process in life. It's not truly a negative. It simply refers to the stress of tackling problems and creating new ones and they exist in anything that experiences growth or change. The roster has changed, the format was different, and everything we were doing was being "thrown into the deep end." I saw a lot of the same fear of uncertainty arise over the last year that I saw in others throughout my career. The stress of growing pains can toll heavy on a group but it tolls heavier on the individual. At the end of the day you are only accountable for your own actions and not for the ideals of others.

It has been over one year and 205 Live is still WWE's newest brand. It operates independently and coherently with the RAW brand, which is considered an anchor of WWE's programming. And now we are being granted another opportunity in the form of our first independent live touring events this January. Only one year into the development of an entire cast of performers will we be getting a chance to interact and perform intimately under the 205 Live banner.

I think back to all the opportunities I have been so lucky to have been a part of during my career doing what I love: Trying out at CZW, debuting in 2005, Winning championships there, touring the independents for promotions like CHIKARA, EVOLVE, and PWG, traveling abroad and learning all over the world, sharing it with my friends and my brother in particular, earning a tryout with WWE and not being called back until the Cruiserweight Classic a year later, earning a spot on 205 Live and eventually becoming a contracted member of a professional wrestling federation turned entertainment conglomerate that I had watched and studied my entire childhood.

Respect isn't given, it is earned. Opportunities aren't given, they are earned. Failure is normal. Change is normal. As long as you are able to find true enjoyment and fulfillment then the rest just becomes part of the process.

The next part of that process takes place January 20th in Lowell, MA and January 21st in Poughkeepsie, NY. Tickets and event information is below. Everyone on the 205 Live roster is extremely excited to be a part of this very personal milestone in the WWE.

205Tour.jpg

January 20th - Lowell, MA: Lowell Memorial Auditorium

Tickets - Event Info

January 21st - Poughkeepsie, NY: Mid-Hudson Civic Center
Tickets - Event Info

Use Code: 205Live

Textbook

At this point I knew of Tyson Dux via his reputation for about my entire wrestling career. He is a well respected veteran from Canada and even fought against Zack Sabre, Jr. in the opening round of WWE's Cruiserweight Classic. I believe this was the first time we got to have a match against one another and I felt like we just clicked. Hopefully one day we will get to face off again.

I had been lucky enough to travel to Canada almost as soon as I started wrestling thanks to Joker and Sabian (now BLK Jeez) taking me under their wings at CZW and inviting me on the road with them to places like UWA in the mid 2000's. It wasn't until 2015 that I was able to compete for SMASH wrestling in Toronto as a part of their Fourth Gunn stable with Chuck Taylor, Biff Busick, Johnny Gargano, and Tarik. They are always great to me there, fans and promotion alike, and would even allow me to bring trainees from the CZW Academy up to gain experience at their events.

If you're in an industry like pro wrestling I cannot stress how important it is for you to travel and learn from as many different people as possible. It's rewarding! And don't wait for someone to ask you, go and ask, and get it done yourself. You can read every book and study every piece of footage, there is just no substitution for experience.

Drew Gulak vs. Tyson Dux from Smash Wrestling's "Battle Lines"

You can buy this event and more online at ondemand.smash-wrestling.com!

Come and Take It

I just got back to our hotel room in San Antonio before Smack Down Live! and 205 Live, aka “Plaza del Nese et Gulak,” and I got to check out the town with a certain unbiased announcer who is most certainly not named Vic Joseph. I’m no stranger to traveling. I have been incredibly lucky to experience many different places around the globe. It’s an incredible way to grow and to learn, and it certainly is surreal to see some of the textbook images from my elementary school days become real life exhibits in front of my eyes. As a kid, I always took those things for granted, but there is a certain sense of fulfillment when so many years later I get to check those history lessons out in person. I had that feeling when I got to venture to Stonehenge a couple years ago, and I just had another one this morning.

The Alamo was never on my to do list. No offense to the city of San Antonio or the historic activities that took place here, I never get excited to sight-see. I take it for granted that we have so much history preserved in the USA. I believe that comes from living in Philadelphia all my life where there is a wonderful museum or a landmark every 20 yards. That said, I loved visiting the Alamo. It reminded me of being back home in Philly. Whenever there would be photos of the legendary fort I would see it up close or in an artistic rendering placing it out in the Texas desert. This is not true today. They built the city of San Antonio up and around the old monument. When you go into the outdoors exhibits they have the gardens built up so that you don’t get distracted by the neighboring skyscrapers. I could take in the experience in its entirety. It was a beautiful and moving experience that I won’t soon forget, and I highly recommend anyone visiting San Antonio to take a half hour and see it for yourself.

 Check out them resonably priced tours!

Check out them resonably priced tours!

Reflecting before RAW in Houston

As of last month, it's been 14 years working in the pro wrestling industry, depending on what you classify working as. Me and my brother started on the ring crew for Combat Zone Wrestling in 2003. We would just help them break down and clean up, usually leaving thumbtacks stuck in my shoes only realizing the next day in high school that was where the clicking sound was coming from when I walked. Oh yeah, every CZW event back then had a thumbtacks or glass match, leaving my sneakers with a nice floor scratching coating of whatever goodness the wrestlers felt like falling into that night. If it wasn't for independent promotions like Combat Zone Wrestling and people like John Zandig who said, "screw it" and started promotions like CZW themselves, I wouldn't be sitting in Houston, Texas today working for the WWE.

World Wrestling Entertainment is such a large organization. For the people that are familiar with it you might see statistics thrown around touting their incredible reach to people across the world but the production itself is rarely talked about in detail. In short, compared to companies like a CZW, the scale of the operation itself is awe inducing. And no matter the amount of people who work here, or their years of experience and training, or the budget, or the scope of their production, the same principals I was taught 14 years ago as an independent wrestler, ring crew personnel, or production assistant, all hold true to what I do here in the company of hundreds. It's what we were taught by the CZW crew so long ago just breaking rings down in parking lots. Be respectful. Be willing to learn. Work hard. Have fun.