The End of a Dream: A Look at the Career of Drake Maverick

Just days removed from a passionate promo about jumpstarting his in-ring career in the upcoming interim NXT Cruiserweight Title tournament, Drake Maverick released another video that was equally emotional – only this time it was heartbreaking than inspiring. Drake Maverick was one of the first names announced on Wednesday as part of WWE’s talent cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was the first to address his thoughts on Social Media. Drake Maverick was on the verge of finally being able to be taken seriously in the ring with the WWE and now a lifelong dream has ended for the nearly 20-year veteran of the ropes.

The End of a Dream: A Look at Drake Maverick

James Curtin – the man behind Drake Maverick – was a lifelong wrestling fan from Birmingham, England. In 2001, he started training with Jack Storm and Chris Gilbert at K-Star Wrestling in his hometown, as well as with “Charming” Don Charles at the SAS Wrestling Academy. In 2003, now named Spud, he began working with another Midlands promotion, Future Championship Wrestling (FCW), as well as Revolution British Wrestling (RBW), where he would win his first gold, the British Welterweight Championship.

In 2005, he got a big break in his career working with some of England’s top promotions, like Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA), International Pro Wrestling: UK (IPW) and the Knight Family’s World Association of Wrestling (WAW), emerging as a top prospect in a growing UK indie scene. The following year would see him make his debuts with top US indies like Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), as well as winning IPW Tag Team titles with Dragon Pheonix in the Dragon Hearts.

His international status continued to rise, and in 2007 he would first work with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling during events in Portugal as part of a series of events co-promoted by Associacao Portuguesa de Wrestling (APW), to determine a #1 Contender to the TNA X-Division Championship, while continuing to work with FWA (now renamed X Wrestling Alliance), IPW, and more promotions. He won the XWA Flyweight Championship in 2007 and a year later won the XWA British Heavyweight Championship. The rising star was coming up through the ranks at the same time as some other UK prospects like Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr., Jimmy Havoc, and Nick Aldis.

In 2011, the UK indie scene was expanding quickly, and he soon began working with newer promotions like Fight Club: PRO and Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE), and he a year earlier captured the IPW British Cruiserweight Championship. Spud was soon one of the most exciting young prospects in the UK independent circuit. By the beginning of 2013, TNA would once again come calling.

Spud appeared in the 2013 edition of TNA’s British Boot Camp, defeating out Marty Scurll for a contract with TNA. In a five-year career with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling as Rockstar Spud, he became a 2x TNA X-Division, but found some of his greatest success as the associate of TNA World Champion EC3. When the duo split, Spud had a classic match against his former friend. He would soon fade from TNA storylines before re-appearing as the chauffeur for Aron Stevens (Damien Sandow) in his “Gorgeous George”-style character, before departing TNA in 2017.

Spud continued to work more and more UK indies during his tenure with TNA, including Revolution Pro (RevPro), Scotland’s Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), and Preston City Wrestling (PCW), and in 2016, made his Mexico debut with AAA Lucha Libre. By the time he departed TNA in 2017, the UK indie scene was in the midst of a renaissance and now Spud was no longer the eager young dreamer but was now a passionate veteran with a greater hunger for more. He would spread his wings further into the UK scene with PROGRESS Wrestling and WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW, later Defiant Wrestling), while still working the US indie scene on occasion. And in October of that year, he finally hit his endgame – he signed with WWE.

Due to visa issues, he would be unable to start with WWE until early 2018, and when he debuted on January 30, 2018 as Drake Maverick, it was in a non-wrestling capacity. Instead of entering WWE’s rebooted Cruiserweight Division as expected, he was revealed to be its General Manager instead, now running 205 Live. For the next few months, Maverick played it straight as a tough but fair leader on 205 Live, as the brand took a more wrestling-centric approach than ever before.

In August of 2018, he would turn heel, becoming the new manager for the tag team Authors of Pain, guiding them to their first Raw Tag Team Championship that November. The union was short-lived – by the end of the year, AOP’s Akam injured his knee and the team went on hiatus. Maverick remained solely the GM of 205 Live once again. Maverick’s stock began to rise once again by the spring of 2019, with the introduction of the new WWE 24/7 Championship, with Maverick and R-Truth becoming the stars of that title belt for much of the summer. By the end of 2019, Maverick was a 5x 24/7 Champion.

Which leads us to earlier this week, when Drake Maverick’s name was included in the Group A bracket for the Cruiserweight title tournament. Fans were astounded at this inclusion – after all, we’d barely seen Maverick wrestle in WWE and when he did it was comedic relief. On April 12, he released a heartfelt promo on Twitter where he revealed that he had gotten that hunger to wrestle in the ring properly again and was going to do just that in this tournament. In order to concentrate on his in-ring career in WWE, he had stood down as the GM of 205 Live and returned those duties to NXT General Manager William Regal. It seemed like the WWE Universe would finally find out what Spud was all about.

Until the devastating news on Wednesday afternoon, when Drake Maverick’s name would be the first name on the first list announced by WWE in a Black Wednesday for the industry – a grotesquely prolific list of talent cuts that followed an earlier morning report that cuts from top to bottom would be starting due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on business. In his heartbreaking statement following the cut, Maverick revealed that he was still competing in the tournament but that these “very likely may be the last matches that I ever have.” Hopefully, he only meant in the WWE Universe, and that James Curtin’s 19-year career won’t end on such a sad note.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.