Local pro wrestler returns to his roots this weekend

Drew Gu­lak

Drew Gu­lak has wrestled in North­east Phil­adelphia be­fore.

In April of 2005 - two months be­fore he gradu­ated — Gu­lak made his pro­fes­sion­al de­but at North­east High School. Back then, he was just get­ting star­ted.

“It was my first match, but I had trained for about a year be­fore,” said Gu­lak, who starred on the Vik­ings’ wrest­ling team. “That was a fun place to start be­cause it was my home.”

On Sat­urday night, Gu­lak re­turns to North­east Phil­adelphia as part of House of Hard­core. The pro­mo­tion will hold an all-star event at the Pennsylvania Na­tion­al Guard Ar­mory, Southamp­ton Road and Roosevelt Boulevard, where the Rhawn­hurst nat­ive will meet Tony Nese and Petey Wil­li­ams.

The match is part of a big card that in­cludes Tommy Dream­er against Abyss in a Mon­ster’s Ball match and former ECW le­gends the Dud­ley Boyz against former TNA stars Chris­toph­er Daniels and Frankie Kaz­ari­an.

“Tommy Dream­er asked me if I wanted to wrestle, he came to CZW for a few matches and he asked me if I’d be in­ter­ested, and, of course, I was,” Gu­lak said. “CZW is great, but our home base is Voorhees (New Jer­sey) and even though it’s right over the bridge, it’s not Philly, so a lot of people don’t come over to see me.

“I’m ex­cited be­cause Tony Nese was in TNA, I watched him there, and Petey Wil­li­ams was in TNA for a long time. They’re both very good wrest­lers, so I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting in the ring with them.”

Gu­lak has wrestled all over the United States and has done tours of Europe. And while he is a proud mem­ber of Com­bat Zone Wrest­ling, he isn’t your typ­ic­al blood-and-guts star in the pro­mo­tion known for wild brawls and bloody matches.

In fact, the crazy barbed wire and glass matches that CZW is known for is what drew Gu­lak to the pro­mo­tion. But once he star­ted train­ing, he made a prom­ise he wouldn’t take part in those dan­ger­ous matches.

“That’s not at all what I do, even though I love that kind of wrest­ling and it’s what made me start watch­ing,” Gu­lak said. “But I don’t do that. I was ac­tu­ally the CZW heavy­weight cham­pi­on for a while, and I love CZW, but I’m more of a wrest­ler. It’s good be­cause CZW has something for every­one.”

Gu­lak is one of the top in­de­pend­ent (think not signed with WWE or TNA) wrest­lers in the coun­try. And be­cause of that, not only does he get to wrestle high-pro­file matches, but he’s able to pass on that know­ledge. He’s been teach­ing at the CZW Academy for years. 

“I didn’t really think I was young to be do­ing it, but I guess so,” Gu­lak said. “I came in and learned. And then the more you wrestle, the more you learn. Then after I was do­ing it for a few years, I would go and work out with new wrest­lers. It’s something I en­joy do­ing.”

Wrest­ling is something that Gu­lak does be­cause he’s good at it and he loves it.

And while he’s quite suc­cess­ful, he has yet to make it his full-time ca­reer.

He ad­mits he prob­ably could do it if he con­stantly traveled around the coun­try, but right now he’s con­tent star­ring for CZW, work­ing as a swim­ming in­struct­or at the North­east Rac­quet Club and spend­ing time with his girl­friend, Liz Deitz.

“I love work­ing as a swim in­struct­or be­cause I teach chil­dren, adults and adults with learn­ing dis­ab­il­it­ies,” Gu­lak said. “All are very re­ward­ing. I love when I take an adult who has nev­er swam be­fore and teach them. It’s in­cred­ible to see how great they feel after ac­com­plish­ing that.”

Teach­ing kids swim­ming? That doesn’t sound like such a bad guy.

But be­lieve it or not, the good-look­ing 27-year-old has been just that. It’s all part of pro wrest­ling.

“Wrest­ling is all about be­ing a psy­cho­logy,” Gu­lak said. “I stud­ied be­ha­vi­or­al sci­ence in col­lege be­cause I wanted to get bet­ter at read­ing people and do­ing either what they want if I’m a good guy or what they don’t want if I’m a bad guy. I like both.”

Still, he’ll prob­ably be the con­quer­ing hero on Sat­urday.

And he’s look­ing for­ward to see­ing a lot of friends in the crowd since he’s com­pet­ing about 10 minutes north of his home in Rhawn­hurst.

“I think this will be a dif­fer­ent crowd than I’m usu­ally wrest­ling in front of,” Gu­lak said. “I think there will be a lot of old ECW fans there be­cause of Tommy Dream­er. And I think there will be a lot of people who just love wrest­ling. Hope­fully, I get a bunch of friends out, fam­ily, and have fun.” ••

For tick­ets to the show, vis­it www.house­of­hard­core.net

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