Drew Gulak Hopes To Bring Old School To WWE’s New Era

The independent wrestling star talks his journey to WWE's Cruiserweight Classic.

When Drew Gulak crossed the sidelines of Combat Zone Wrestling in 2004 into the world of Hindu squats, bruises, and paying dues, CZW owner John Zandig didn’t promise his new trainee a big payoff.

“On the first day of training, Zandig told me and Rory [Gulak], ‘You guys will never make it. You’ll probably never do anything. This never works out for anybody. I’m not going to bullshit you guys,'” Gulak said. “It was a real high note to start with.”

Fast forward 12 years and a nine-month CZW World Heavyweight Championship run later and Gulak finds himself in a 32-man tournament set to air on the WWE Network.

After winning his qualifying match against Catch Point teammate and EVOLVE Tag Team Championship partner Tracy “Hot Sauce” Williams at EVOLVE 61, Gulak earned his spot to compete in the upcoming WWE Cruiserweight Classic.

The 29-year-old first learned about the tournament in January. As winter turned to spring, management at EVOLVE began approaching Gulak regarding the Cruiserweight Classic and its qualifying match opportunities.

The promotion has been working with WWE—a monumental step in building the bridge from the pro wrestling juggernaut to the independent wrestling scene. It hosted two qualifying bouts at EVOLVE 61 and joined Progress Wrestling, Revolution Pro Wrestling, and American Combat Wrestling as promotions that have hosted such matches. Other qualifying match winners include, Zach Sabre Jr., Jack Gallagher, Noam Dar, Lince Dorado, Tony Nese, and fellow Catch Point member TJP.

Earning His Spot

In less than a week, professional wrestlers from all over the world will be competing in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.

On May 7, the bright lights of New York City shined on a nightclub in Queens which acted as the site of two of the three United States qualifiers.

Before his qualifying bout with friend, tag team partner, and protégé Tracy “Hot Sauce” Williams, the pair defended their EVOLVE Tag Team Championship against fellow Catch Point members TJP and Fred Yehi the night before.

The two traveled to Baltimore and back, crashing at Gulak’s house in Philadelphia before making the trip to Queens for their showdown.

While most nights at La Boom nightclub are filled with dancing, Gulak and Williams met with the same grace of a dance pair who are masters of their craft. Holds, counters, chops, and dives made up a match that left the EVOLVE crowd divided as to who to root for. Ultimately, the crowd concurred with a “both these guys” chant.

After a series of close calls, Gulak made Williams submit to his Gu-Lock—a revised Dragon sleeper—and clinched his spot in the tournament.

As the bell rung and both men regained their energy, Gulak simply told Williams, “Thank you.”

Bringing Old School To The New Era

While Gulak trained under many great pro wrestling minds, Chris Hero, who Gulak calls a “pro wrestling encyclopedia,” was his primary trainer. One night, while Hero was sitting on the bleachers, Gulak joined him and was introduced to a period of wrestling that would make up a large part of who he is today.

“Hero was watching old World of Sport wrestling matches on a portable DVD player,” Gulak said. “We watched Steve Grey versus Mike “Flash” Jordan and Steve Grey versus Johnny Saint. From there, I went on YouTube and started to watch old wrestling footage.

“Mark Rocco was also a big inspiration,” he added. “All those guys brought out all the stuff I like in wrestling. I was a big Ken Shamrock fan back in the day. But they were kind of doing the things he was doing before he was ever a part of WWE, and now it makes sense to me why I took to them. For them, and for me, it was all about the competition of the sport.”

Gulak has become known for his technical and European style, which is a rarity in today’s pro wrestling scene. But it’s what sets Gulak apart from the majority of the talent pool, and when the WWE Cruiserweight Classic begins on June 23, he plans on leaving the WWE Universe’s collective jaw dropped.

“I hope they all get a tingling feeling inside and go, “Oh, what was that? I like that,'” Gulak said.

“You mean professional wrestling?”

“Yeah,” Gulak responded. “That’s what I want.”

Featured video was directed, shot, and edited by  and appeared on WWNLive’s official YouTube channel.

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Mark Whited

Founder / Editor-In-Chief at Wrestledelphia.com
An avid writer and fan of wrestling since he was eight years old, Mark Whited founded Wrestledelphia.com in May 2014. While hoping to one day step foot in a wrestling ring, he also writes for a number of outlets, including The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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