One of WWE’s hottest rising stars is LA Knight, a cocky and aggressively cocky heel whose superior promotional skills often draw comparisons to The Rock. But it was a long road for LA Knight to make it to WWE, a road that not only included a stint on NXT in the early 2010s, but a career as well. impact wrestling.
On Impact, he went by the name Eli Drake and wasn’t much different from the LA Knight WWE fans know today, but he accomplished a lot over a four-year period. Let’s take a look at what the future LA Knight was up to in the Impact Zone.
10 Debuted in the Gut Check Tournament
Before making his official Impact roster debut, Eli Drake had his first major appearance a month earlier. In mid-February 2015, Impact recorded a Just one night pay per view called bowel control, which featured a tournament of sorts where Impact hopefuls would go up against regular roster members for a chance at a multi-man elimination match in the main event. Drake, working under his real name Shaun Ricker, ended up defeating Crazzy Steve, but came up just short in the elimination match. Strangely, the pay-per-view ended up airing later that fall.
9 Member of The Rising
Eli Drake’s official debut as part of the Impact roster came in mid-March 2015, when he debuted alongside Micah (aka Tanga Loa) as part of Drew Galloway’s new faction, The Rising. The group’s goal was to aid Galloway in his feud with MVP faction The Beat Down Clan, but the trio ultimately came up short in a handicap match against four BDC members where the losing stable had to break up. It was a very brief existence for The Rising, as the group lasted about three months.
8 He turned heel on Drew Galloway
It was only a matter of weeks before Eli Drake turned on Drew Galloway. It all happened in a fight where Galloway was challenging Ethan Carter III for the Impact world title when Drake attacked Galloway with a crutch, costing his stablemate the fight.
From there, Galloway turned his attention to fighting Drake, and the two faced off in several singles matches, with Drake winning the first thanks to a rope-assisted roll pin. Galloway ended up shutting down Drake in a rematch at return point 2015, and then successfully defended the world title against Eli once he finally won it.
7 party won or fired
One of Impact’s longtime gimmick matches was the Feast or Fired Match, where wrestlers fight over four briefcases attached to poles at each corner of the ring, three of which hold contracts for title shots, while the fourth is an instant shot. In early 2016, Eli Drake scored one of the briefcases, earning a world title shot, while Scottish comic wrestler Grado was fired. Grado accused Eli Drake of trading his bags, so a feud ensued between the two, with Grado defeating Drake in a ladder match to keep his job.
6 He had his own talk show
While WWE is more often associated with wrestler talk show segments, Impact has its own as well, including one with Eli Drake. Drake wasn’t sure he was a good idea at first, as he thought the talk show segments were “cheesy”, but his fact of life segments turned out to be a highlight of many episodes of impact wrestling. In addition to using it to start Drake’s fights, the program featured a button on his desktop that the self-proclaimed “Silly Namer” could press to emit a nasty snippet of sound.
5 king of the mountain champion
Eli Drake’s aforementioned Feast or Fired briefcase earned him a title shot at the King of the Mountain Championship, which used to be known as the Television Championship or the Legends Championship. In late May 2015, Drake cashed out, Money in the Bank style, on Bram after the champion suffered a seizure. Over the course of his 82-day reign, Drake feuded with James Storm after an encounter at fact of lifewith Storm dethroning the champion in early August.
4 Feuded with EC3
Another Eli Drake fight lit by his fact of life The segment was with EC3, in which Drake mocked his guest for failing to beat Bobby Lashley for the world title in bound for glory days earlier as the two feuded, EC3 ended up scoring another title shot, which only served to intensify their rivalry with Drake.
The feud between EC3 and Eli Drake came to an end at the end of November 2016 with a single stipulation. EC3 put his title shot on the line, but if Drake lost, he wouldn’t be able to speak for the rest of the year. Drake ended up taking advantage of EC3’s rear-naked choke and spent the remaining weeks of 2016 muted.
3 Tag Team Champion with Scott Steiner
In the spring of 2017, Eli Drake won another briefcase from Feast or Fired, but this time it contained a contract for a World Tag Team Championship shot. While Drake didn’t have a partner when he captured the briefcase, he did manage to find a surprising second in the form of tag team champion Scott Steiner. The duo ended up dethroning LAX (Santana & Ortiz) for the belts, but only held them for a few weeks before handing them over to DJZ and Andrew Everett.
2 impact world champion
During the first two years of his Impact career, Eli Drake had a few world title shots, including one where he cashed in a Feast or Fired briefcase that he won from original contract holder Moose. In late August 2017, Drake finally rose to the top of Impact by winning the World Championship, albeit in a 20-man bout for the vacant belt. His 146-day reign included defenses against Matt Sydal, Alberto El Patrón and Johnny Impact (aka John Morrison) before losing the title to Austin Aries.
1 Formed a tag team with Eddie Edwards
Eli Drake’s last big Impact storyline before his departure saw Drake on a crusade against hardcore fighters, which started because Abyss tabled him in bound for glory 2018. As part of this angle, Drake feuded with Eddie Edwards, who had embraced the hardcore style but developed a respect for Edwards when their singles match ended with Edwards winning via roll-up pin. The two ended up coming together as a team and even ended up challenging The Lucha Brothers for the Tag Team Championship, though they did not win.