Missouri Wrestling Revival

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Draper Becomes the First NWL Champion

Posted by flairwhoooooo on April 26, 2017

By Brian Hoops
Photos Brian Kelley

In the National Wrasslin League, one man stands taller than the rest. At 6’5”, Dakota “Dak”
Draper is not only the tallest wrestler on the roster, he is the first ever NWL Kansas City
Heavyweight Champion.

Draper was crowned champion by defeating Blaine Meeks in the finals of a tournament held
over three months on April 1 at the Scottish Rites Temple in Kansas City, Missouri. The National
Wrestling League was formed in 2016 by  and started promoting in Kansas City
and St. Louis in January, 2017. Shows are run every other Saturday in Kansas City and every
other Sunday in St. Louis.

Draper, real name Sam Udell, was recruited to the NWL KC roster by NWL Director of
Operations Chris Gough. Gough was a former writer for WWE and had always wanted to book
Draper for his Metro Pro Wrestling promotion. “He was appealing to me because he had been to
the WWE like me. I knew he would appreciate this opportunity because of that.”

Draper, better known as “The Mile High Magnum” hails from Colorado. “I grew up a wrestling
fan and was huge fan of”, Draper told me in a phone interview. Draper ended up
wrestling collegiality at Chadron State University in Chadron, Nebraska, a Division 2 program. It
was at the NCAA finals that he caught the eye of WWE talent scout Jerry Brisco. “Late in the
summer of 2007 they brought me to FCW for a tryout. I was in FCW for a week. The only thing I
did well was my promo.”

Draper didn’t get signed but Brisco told him to work on his body and to move to Denver and find
a wrestling school. “I ended up meeting Pat Tanaka and trained with Pat for about nine months.
Gerry Brisco called me again and offered me another tryout. I did well in the ring and in the
promo again and after the promo, they pulled me aside and told me they were gonna sign me.”
Draper signed a two year developmental contract, the first year he spent in Tampa before the
current WWE Performance Center was built in Orlando. Draper worked in developmental as
Travis Tyler and worked mostly in an enhancement role. Draper was released from the
developmental contract in August of 2016 and moved back to Denver to work on the
independent scene.

“I gained a lot of confidence wrestling in the independents. That was the thing that held me back
in WWE, I was always trying to be a character instead of being myself. Now I can be Dak
Draper who thinks he is above everyone else.”

Draper refers to himself as the “Mile High Magnum” as a tribute to his home city and one of his
favorite wrestlers growing up, Magnum TA. Draper says being a heel is natural for him. “Dr.
Tom (Prichard) told us the first day of developmental that the best wrestling characters are
extensions of ourselves with the volume turned up. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but I
am starting to now.”

Draper is the complete athlete that can cause fits for his opponents on the ground and surprisingly in the air as well. Here he catches Blaine Meeks off guard in the finals for the NWL KC Championship.

Draper is one of the eight wrestlers who are employed by the National Wrasslin League. He is
signed through the end of 2018 and appreciates being involved in the promotion. “I really want
to make the NWL a successful company. Its really cool to be involved in the process of creating
wrestling instead of people telling you what to do.”

Draper is the first and only NWL Kansas City Champion. The NWL Kansas City Title will only be
defended in Kansas City and likewise the NWL St. Louis Title will only be defended in St. Louis.
Gough says by the end of the year a champion of the NWL will be crowned and the title will be
defended anywhere. At the end of the year in December, the NWL Kansas City Champion will
meet the NWL St. Louis Champion to determine the NWL Champion.

Gil Rogers put up a fight for the NWL KC title at the Scottish Rite Temple, but Dak Draper would show off his championship skills to retain the belt.

“The NWL championship match will take place in the city that has the best record in the series
between Kansas City and St. Louis at the time. We have a running total record of matches
between a guy from the Kansas City roster versus a guy from the St. Louis roster.” Gough
explained, “Tag Team Champions will be crowned down the road, but probably not this year.”
Gough, the primary recruiter of talent for the NWL is always looking for new talent and bringing in
fresh faces. Former Ring of Honor Champion Kyle O’Reilly has recently worked for the
promotion and “Hardcore” Bob Holly is signed for April 29 in Kansas City.

Fans of the promotion can watch NWL on its you tube channel. Fans in Kansas City can watch
NWL KC on broadcast television at 11 pm Saturday nights on channel 38, The Spot. Gough said
it is the first time professional wrestling has been on broadcast television in Kansas City since
the mid to late 1980’s when Central States was a TV staple.

I asked Draper if being on local television has brought him any recognition when he is out in
downtown Kansas City. “Actually, I was out in the Power & Light District and someone
recognized me. That didn’t happen, even in Orlando. I had some tickets to our next show with
me and gave the guy a couple of tickets to watch the Mile High Magnum

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