Dak Draper dealt with plenty of hard times ahead of NWA Hard Times 3, but he’s confident that these struggles will pay off.
Previously, Draper was featured in Ring of Honor; he won the Top Prospect Tournament in 2019, and he went on to contend for the ROH Pure Championship and World Television Championship. But when ROH released talent from their contracts and went on hiatus after Final Battle 2021, Draper was left facing an uncertain road forward. After he spent several months on the independent scene, he landed in the NWA, where he has quickly risen to the forefront. He will challenge Cyon for the NWA National Championship at NWA Hard Times 3 on November 12.
In an interview with WrestleZone, Draper shared a glimpse into his mindset ahead of the pay-per-view. He explained why he feels like Hard Times is a fitting name for the show, given the way he has dealt with a number of obstacles over the pas several months, including the end of his time in ROH. He stated that his match n Saturday is the chance to take control of his career and climb to the next level.
“My mind approaching it is, it is so fitting that Hard Times is the name of this pat-per-view,” Draper said. “Let’s be candid, Ring of Honor releasing everyone from their contracts the way that they did, that put hard times on a lot of people, and it put Hard Times on me. I started to think, well, you know, Hard Times won’t last. Then other stuff happens. I break my wrist. Oh, it’s more hard times. You don’t, hard times won’t last. More trouble gets thrown my way, I keep thinking hard times won’t last.
“I started to realize, hard times lasted as long as you let them. So it’s really fitting for me to have this big opportunity at Hard Times 3 to face Cyon to show that I’m not gonna let the hard times for Dak Draper last. So this is about me taking control of my career and taking control of my life, and finally taking myself back to that peak where I want to be.”
When asked about his biggest takeaways from the end of his run in ROH, Draper stated that he learned to focus on controlling everything that is within his power, including his physique and his in-ring abilities. He described how he as focused on his physical training in order to ensure that he’s always in the best shape possible. Looking ahead to NWA Hard Times 3, he noted that he believes he’s in the driver’s seat.
“I think the big thing I learned was to not have any regrets for my career in the time I spent in a company, and to control everything that I could possibly control about my career. So for myself, I can’t force someone to sign me to a match that I wanna be in. I need to make sure that I’m in the best possible shape, that I’m ready to perform in the best possible way that I can, which I feel like I did when I came to Nashville for the NWA National Title #1 Contender Tournament, where I took control of everything that I could in order to be as successful as I possibly could. That comes down to things I do every day. I feel like if you look at a picture of Dak Draper in Ring of Honor and a picture of Dak Draper, I look a lot more muscular and more defined because I’ve been focusing that hard on doing everything I can to not have any more regrets.
“I used to think, ‘Oh, if I had nicer abs, maybe things would go better for me.’ Then I just thought that, and those are just thoughts, and it’s wasted thought if you don’t do anything about it. So I’ve wasted no thoughts. Everything that I’ve wanted to do, I’ve done. I’ve got my ring work exactly where I want it to be, my conditioning’s exactly where I want it to be, my physique is. My confidence, as you can tell, is higher than its ever been, and I am completely poised. I think I am in the driver’s seat, and I think it’s gonna be a really bad day for Cyon, and it’s not gonna be a very fun day for Austin Idol when he’s watching his son face Dak Draper.”
Draper went on to emphasize that he keeps pushing and moving forward because he has great gifts as an athlete, and he has cultivated them throughout his journey up to this point. He stated that he is confident that his story will end well, despite the aforementioned obstacles, as he continues to persevere and reach higher.
“They can expect to see one man standing in the corner of the ring who’s given everything that he has, lost everything he has multiple times for wrestling, but has made sure to keep going forward,” Draper said.”Because every time that I think about stopping, I think about all these gifts that I have, about my height, my charisma, my speed, my athleticism, all these great gifts that I’ve both been given and that I’ve cultivated through a lot of hard work, and that’s all for nothing if the story doesn’t end well.
“So I call myself ‘The Living Tall Tale’ because I believe that this story’s gonna end well, and I want everyone else to believe that this story’s gonna end well. Everyone that’s watching gets the treat of not just hearing a great story, a great tall tale that, generations from now, 2000 years from now, when society doesn’t exist and aliens come down to see what Earth used to be, they’re gonna read about how this guy, Dak Draper, kept getting knocked down and kept building back stronger and stronger and stronger until he was at the top of the industry.”
WrestleZone will have coverage of NWA Hard Times 3 as it airs, beginning with the pre-show at 7 p.m., on FITE TV.
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