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Dak Draper – The Mile High Magnum By Brian Hoops

Posted by flairwhoooooo on October 18, 2017

By Brian Hoops
Photos Brian Kelley

July 31, 2014 was a career defining moment of young Sam Udell, having just been cut from his
WWE developmental contract, Udell faced an uncertain future. “It was weird, I didn’t know what I
was going to do, but I knew that I would be alright. I was excited for the new adventure. I love
stories. I love telling stories, I love listening to stories. I knew I’d get a lot of cool stories out of
the next few years,” Udell explained.

Udell was born in Denver, Colorado on March 20, 1988 to Chris and Janet Udell. Udell’s father
was a huge influence on him growing up. “My dad always knew that there was something
different about me. He would tell me that other people can grow up to work 9-5 jobs, I’m
supposed to do something else, I’m supposed to be in front of people.He was big on goal
setting, and being conscious of whether or not what you’re doing will bring you closer or further
from achieving your goals.”

Growing up in Denver, Udell was an avid sports fan, following the Denver Broncos NFL team
and the WWE (WWF at the time).

Udell played football and wrestled at St. Mary’s Prep high school in Colorado Springs, a suburb
of Denver and lead the state of Colorado in quarterback sacks his senior year from his
defensive end spot. Udell would win male athlete of the year and player of the year honors in
football and city and league wrestling champion and Tri-Peaks league wrestler of the year.

Even though he has the work ethic of a Champion Dak Draper always has time to enjoy the view in the mirror.

Udell was recruited by Chadron State, a Division II wrestling power house in Chadron, Nebraska
to join the University’s wrestling program. Udell wrestled and lettered three years and placed in
the top 12 in the nation his senior year in the NCAA national tournament. It was at the NCAA
finals that he caught the eye of WWE talent scout Gerry Brisco. “Late in the summer of 2011
they brought me to FCW for a tryout. I was in FCW for a week. The only thing I did well was my
promo.”

Udell didn’t get signed, but Brisco told him to work on his body and to find a wrestling school. “I
moved back to Denver and 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.”

Udell signed a two year WWE developmental contract in August, 2012. The first year he spent
in Tampa before the current WWE Performance Center was built in Orlando. Udell worked in
developmental as Travis Tyler, mostly in an enhancement role.

Udell was released from the developmental contract on July 31, 2014 and moved back to
Denver to work on the independent scene. Udell made ends meet by becoming a personal
trainer and wrestled weekends on the independents.

Unbeknownst to Udell, the wheels were in motion in Kansas City, Missouri for the biggest
opportunity of his wrestling career.

A lifelong wrestling fan by the name of Major Baisden sold his tech company, Iris Data Services,
for $134 million and was looking for his next business opportunity. Born in Sacramento,
California, Baisden graduated from the University of California-Davis at only 19 years old.
Basiden worked as a manager for the legal tech support unit of the California Department of
Justice and helped to move the company into the digital age. In 2007, Baisden moved to
Kansas City and formed his own company, Iris Data Services.

After selling his company in January, 2015 and staying on through the year as a consultant,
Baisden contacted Chris Gough. Gough had experience working for the WWE (1999-2003) and
founded Metro Pro Wrestling in Kansas City in 2010. Gough also produced the documentary on
wrestling in the Central States territory called “KC On the Mat.” Baisden offered to buy Metro
Pro Wrestling and hired Gough to run his new organization, the “National Wrasslin League” in
August, 2016.

Gough was named directer of operations of the new company and his duties include,
announcing, booking and hiring of talent. One of the first calls Gough made when recruiting
wrestlers was to Udell. Gough had always wanted to book Udell 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.”

Udell met with Gough and Baisden in Kansas City, liked what he heard and signed a two year
contract. Udell became Dakota (Dak) Draper from Denver, Colorado.

“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, Magnum TA. Draper says being a heel is natural for him. “Dr. Tom (Prichard)
told us the first day of (WWE) 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 exploded on the NWL scene and quickly became the most polarizing figure on the NWL
roster. Boasting to be 6’5”, tan and handsome; Draper’s arrogance attracted the ire of some
fans, but also the adulation of many more. Draper’s t-shirt is the best selling merchandise item
for the NWL.

Draper won a tournament to crown the first NWL Kansas City champion, defeating rival Blaine
Meeks in the final. Draper has since cleared out all challengers in the division and remains the
only undefeated member of the NWL roster.

While speaking into a microphone has always been Draper’s strength, his verbal skills and in
ring presence have improved during his time in the NWL. “I created a weekly YouTube show
called ‘The Magnum Minute’ which has helped me so much on the microphone. Editing videos
of myself over and over makes it easy to improve.

Draper appreciates being involved in the NWL 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.”

No one wrestler is more giving of his time in promoting wrestling for the NWL than Draper.
Draper’s verbal skills and outgoing personality make him the go to man on the NWL roster when
it comes to radio and television appearances for promoting upcoming events. Draper routinely
spends his free time making personal appearances trying to promote the NWL brand.

“I got the right basics in NXT and then went out and got a chance to apply what I learned on my
own. I got to think and grow with no safety nets,” Draper explained when talking about his in ring
performance. “I’m not playing a role when I’m out there anymore, I’m being who I’ve wanted to
be for my entire life. I’m comfortable when all eyes are on me, and I’m at my best when I’m
comfortable.”

Through aggressive marketing efforts, NWL has secured television time in Kansas City for the
first time 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.”

NWL television is also available in St. Joseph, Joplin and Springfield, Missouri as well as
Wichita, Kansas. The NWL you tube channel also shows the television program after they have
aired on TV.

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