by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Drew Gulak began his career when he was just a 17-year-old student. Since that time he has wrestled for a slew of promotions with perhaps the most notable being CZW. At CZW he became the second holder of the CZW Wired TV Championship and to date has the longest reign of any wrestler to hold that title at 429 days. Prior to this he had two runs as CZW World Tag Team Champion along with Andy Sumner in the duo, Team AnDrew. Today, Gulak serves as the leader of the Campaign for a Better Combat Zone and has matches ranging from highly scientific to hardcore. This interview was completed on January 10, 2013. He can be followed on Twitter @drewgulak. In this interview Gulak and I focus on the topic of coming out of the wrestling scene in Pennsylvania.
Daniel Johnson: In a nutshell how would you describe yourself as a performer?
Drew Gulak: I’m a serious competitor who likes to voice his opinion when necessary. I care about improving the quality of our art.
Daniel Johnson: Who first got you interested in wrestling as a fan?
Drew Gulak: I’m not sure what you are asking here. If you mean how did I find pro wrestling then it was something I’ve watched from a very young age. A friend of mine named Wayne and his family would order the pay-per-views and invite me over. The wrestlers who hooked me when I was little were Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Yokozuna and the 1-2-3 Kid.
Daniel Johnson: Do you remember the first live show you went to see? Where was it and what was the atmosphere like?
Drew Gulak: The first live event I went to was a Smackdown taping when I was in middle school, so it took me awhile to go to one. I remember everything being smaller and closer than it looked on TV.
Daniel Johnson: Who, if any, were the first local Pennsylvania wrestlers that you really got into watching?
Drew Gulak: My first independent wrestling experience was through CZW, which was only in its third and fourth year when I got to see them live. Guys like Ruckus, The Amazing Red, The SAT, Sick Nick Mondo, Lobo, John Zandig and Nick Gage were a few of the people that all got me to come back time and time again.
Daniel Johnson: Being from Pennsylvania were you able to attend any shows held by the original ECW?
Drew Gulak: I didn’t start attending wrestling shows until they were in their final year or so in business so I pretty much missed out on ECW aside from what people would talk about in school. WWF at the time was what I was used to and enjoyed watching.
Daniel Johnson: What about CZW? What was the first CZW show you attended?
Drew Gulak: The very first Best of the Best tournament in Sewell, New Jersey followed by their very first TV taping the following month were my first CZW shows.
Daniel Johnson: When did you know that you wanted to make the transition from being a fan to being a wrestler?
Drew Gulak: There were two times in my life when I knew it’s what I wanted to do. When I was little I would watch wrestlers on Superstars climb the ropes while the opponent would just lay there waiting to take an elbow drop or something like that and I’d always want them to move out of the way. In my head I always thought, “If that were me I’ll bet I could move in time.” And then again from going to the live CZW shows and being so close to the action, I saw guys like Red who were in their teens doing amazing things in the ring. I thought if they could do it, I could do it.
Daniel Johnson: How did you decided where you wanted to train as a wrestler?
Drew Gulak: My brother and myself were on CZW’s ring crew for a full year after helping them break down the ring after the second Tournament of Death in Delaware. A year later, DJ Hyde who was assistant head trainer at the school approached us and asked us to come try out to wrestle and a week later we did.
Daniel Johnson: What was a typical day of training like in the CHIKARA/CZW Wrestle Factory?
Drew Gulak: Very physically demanding. We would always start with running and a combination of that and hurdle/hopping drills followed by tumbling and bridging techniques in the ring. Then we would learn a bunch of new moves and the background surrounding them during different exercises that would test our memory and skill. Practice would break down after 4-5 hours with some other kind of lesson whether it was running a match, shoot fighting or something similar.
Daniel Johnson: Have you trained anywhere else or just there?
Drew Gulak: I’ve had the opportunity to train at a wide variety of places over the years thanks to the connections and opportunities I have been given through my trainers.
Daniel Johnson: Who did you have your first match against? Also, where was it and what was the atmosphere like?
Drew Gulak: My first match was teaming with DJ Hyde against Sabian, Maven Bentley, and Robbie Mireno of BLK OUT. Eddie Kingston was at ringside and it was also at my high school for a charity fundraiser. I was 17 at the time so a lot of people I knew from school were there. It was a great experience. You can buy it from Smart Mark Video’s website if you dare! It’s the very first Maven Bentley Association show that was filmed.
Daniel Johnson: What was your first home promotion? Do you still wrestle there?
Drew Gulak: Technically CZW and yes I do!
Daniel Johnson: Who came up with the name “The University City Stretcher” for your nickname?
Drew Gulak: Our ring announcer at the time in 2006 was Ed O’Mac. He came up with the name after my tag team partner started being billed as “The Master of the Sambo Style.” I was living in University City at the time.
Daniel Johnson: Aside from being trained by them, CZW also is one of the more popular promotions you have worked for. What do you think makes CZW stand out today amongst other independent promotions?
Drew Gulak: What stands out the most is the violence they are known for as well as having the largest variety of acts in the US independents.
Daniel Johnson: Who have been some of your favorite opponents to work with in CZW and why?
Drew Gulak: Sabian aka BLK Jeez and I have a very similar mindset about everything. We get along very well and he has been an integral mentor to me from my first day of training. My brother too is one of my favorite opponents because I get another excuse to beat him up and our mom won’t yell at us for it.
Daniel Johnson: What was it like winning the CZW Tag Team Championship for the first time?
Drew Gulak: It was very emotional. I felt like CZW had faith in us to breathe new life into the tag division. It was short lived though as we lost the titles the month after. That helped to keep my ego in check.
Daniel Johnson: What memories did you enjoy the most as CZW Tag Team Champion?
Drew Gulak: Having the fans support us.
Daniel Johnson: More so in its early days than now CZW was known for its hardcore stuff? What was the most hardcore match that you participated in for the company?
Drew Gulak: The no rope barbed wire match I had against Danny Havoc at CZW’s Proving Grounds in May of 2012 was by far the most violent match I’d ever been in.
Daniel Johnson: What stood out most to you about holding the CZW Wired TV Championship for over a year? Are there any matches from this reign that stand out for you?
Drew Gulak: That title again showed me that people had faith in me to help build up an almost brand new championship. Being a champion is a responsibility to every other performer on the show and those that came before you as well as those that come after you. You set the mold as a champion.
Daniel Johnson: Outside of CZW what other Pennsylvania promotions have you worked for and which have you enjoyed the most?
Drew Gulak: In the past I’ve worked for GBW in Gettysburg and WXW in Allentown as well as any of the affiliate promotions of CZW. GBW was one of the first places I got to learn how to wrestle in front of a live audience and it was always a fun time.
Daniel Johnson: Are there any Pennsylvania based promotions that you have yet to work for that you would like to?
Drew Gulak: There are many places like IWC and PWE that I never got to work for.
Daniel Johnson: Who are some workers currently wrestling out of Pennsylvania that fans should take notice of?
Drew Gulak: Take notice of Rory Mondo, Shane Strickland, Matt Tremont, Usurper, and El Saguaro wherever he’s from.
Daniel Johnson: What is the hottest crowd you have ever worked in front of? What did you do to get the best reaction out of them possible?
Drew Gulak: WXW in Germany, a lot of the crowd in England working for All Star Wrestling, and any of the bigger CZW events get pretty rowdy. Depending on the situation you just have to do something that stands out to hook their attention and then expand on that throughout the match. One time Adam Cole and myself did a slow dance to a Backstreet Boys song mid match. So there was that.
Daniel Johnson: On the other side of the coin what is the worst crowd you have worked in front of and what did you do to try to get a better reaction out of them?
Drew Gulak: No story comes to mind specifically. Worst crowds would have to be the shows that could only draw a handful of people and in those situations I would just treat them like a learning experience. That’s a very intimate instance and it doesn’t take much to draw their attention.
Daniel Johnson: How did you first hear about Beyond Wrestling and what made you decide to work there?
Drew Gulak: I was out after a show one night and I met producer Drew Cordeiro. He happened to see my match with Zack Sabre Jr. from CZW’s International Incident and got a good understanding of who I was and what my beliefs were through that match. From there I went out and wrestled a match with Jonny Mangue, now known as Jaka, and I had a good time.
Daniel Johnson: What opponent’s do you mesh best with at Beyond?
Drew Gulak: Jaka, Mark Angel, Aaron Epic, Darius Carter and Biff Busick have been the best fit for myself so far. Eric Corvis and I had a good match too.
Daniel Johnson: Do you have anything that you would like to promote?
Drew Gulak: Follow me on Twitter @DrewGulak and catch up with me from there!
Daniel Johnson: I always like to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be able to share?
Drew Gulak: One time Robert “Ego” Anthony thought it would be fun to steal the Wired TV Championship from me and hang it on the ceiling of the arena in Philly. He had to take a genie lift to get it up there. Good one, Rob.
Daniel Johnson: As part of my last few questions I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. If you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer one of them just feel free to say, “skip.” Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Drew Gulak: I’m a big fan of The Office, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Big Bang Theory, that’s about all I watched this year.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out last year?
Drew Gulak: Even though I saw it last week it was released Christmas week, Django Unchained was excellent. I love all of Tarantino’s movies and this one was right up there with the best of them.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time last year?
Drew Gulak: Myself and a buddy of mine went to a Russian restaurant for the first time in our lives and we were pleasantly surprised with whatever we ate there. Oh! There’s a restaurant in Philly in Manayunk on the main strip called The Han Dynasty. They had the best Singapore noodles and in general the best Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life. If for some reason you read this and want a good recommendation Han Dynasty is worth checking out!
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out last year?
Drew Gulak: “Runaway” by The Killers
Daniel Johnson: Did you vote in your last local election? If so would you be willing to say for who?
Drew Gulak: Skip.
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part about being a professional wrestler?
Drew Gulak: The schedule, the random injuries like osteochondritis dissecans, the selfless dedication, the vast array of personalities involved. It’s so unique and strange that there are too many to list.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything that you would like to add?
Drew Gulak: Thank you for the questions and the support! Be sure to visit www.SmartMarkVideo.com to get your hands on some independent wrestling DVDs! Also check out www.CZWrestling.com, www.LookMaNoFans.com, and www.DGUSA.tv!
Witness Drew Gulak battle at Beyond Wrestling! From the company’s All Killer 04 show, which took place late last year, Drew Gulak takes on Aaron Epic. The match starts at about the 26 minute mark:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews