As the Golden Draw and current X-Division champion, Jake Crist has been making waves in IMPACT both as a singles star and teaming with Dave Crist and Sami Callahan as part of oVe (Ohio versus Everyone).
Jake is an Ohio native, ‘Born and Raised’, and has been a wrestling fan from middle and high school, but for him, the focus wasn’t always on the squared circle. The young master Crist of the Jake variety had aspirations to be a baseball player.
His introduction to wrestling came in a rather unofficial manner, with his first forays into the sport coming from backyard federations. This led to a chance encounter where the federation was part of a TV-compilation, which highlighted the one he was part of. Reportedly, one Bill Kowalewski who said upon watching Jake and his fellow backyarders:
‘if I could train these guys, they could be really good’.
From there he had his first official match (22nd July 2002), which involved him looking like a third sibling of a popular WWE team and smelling of catfish – Jake recalls of this first match:
‘I remember my first, I looked like a hardy boy, short hair with green pants. It was an outdoor show and the locker room was the kitchen area where people were cooking catfish with guns going off in the background. At that time I went by Crazy Jay, even if one woman chanted for Crazy H’.
The reason he styled himself as the lost member of the Hardy Boyz is on account of him being a tag team fan, which started with the Rockers but developed into a fondness of Matt and Jeff, as well as the Dudley Boyz.
In fact, this proclivity for tag team wrestling is rather fortunate given his relationship with his brother Dave. Together they have been a team since at least August of 2003, with their initial characters being Crazy J (Jake) and Lotus (Dave). In many ways, it also helps that they are fairly similar in age, so can draw on similar experiences, which will only help them as a team. With them spending 35 years as brothers and 16 years as wrestlers, these two have created an amazing legacy. A legacy which has time and space to be added to even further.
This duo became features at Heartland Wrestling (among many other promotions) and the two Crists met future oVe team-mate, Sami Callahan. Since then, the team have been involved ways with one another, with Jake’s bold assertion that ‘only oVe can start riots in towns nowadays’ – they’re the only team who can generate as much heat as they do, which is an underrated skill.
Currently wrestling for IMPACT, Jake and his brother had a reasonably rapid but also meaningful ascent to the top, as Jake says;
‘It was all like a big rush, it meant everything to us, we’d been trying to prove ourselves as the best for so long’.
As an outsider looking in, it is weird to think that the Crists are part of the same roster as ECW luminaries such as Rob Van Dam, Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer. As it happens, Jake’s fandom of wrestling primarily stemmed from the ECW era, with RVD being a particular favourite. As odd as it is for me as an observer, it makes sense that someone as talented as him would be in IMPACT at the same time as his idols, but for Jake, it still seems quite surreal.
That’s not to say that everything about working for IMPACT is smooth sailing, there is a reputation that IMPACT’s predecessor, TNA has left behind and Jake treats this rather philosophically:
‘You can’t change the past, but the future is bright. I don’t pay attention to negative things and I try and keep social media to a minimum’.
Despite the trials and tribulations, he has faced in his career so far, the most difficult match he has been in was when he took on Nevaeh. He has known her for 18 years and they recently celebrated their six-year anniversary. For him, it was the scariest match of his career, presumably because if he injured his competitor in that match – it would affect his home life.
Focusing on the latest developments for him in IMPACT, he has recently won the x-division championship in a match against Rich Swann – who clearly couldn’t handle it. He has affected the moniker of being the Golden Draw, which has caused some tension between him and Sami Callahan. Who knows what the future holds, it could lead to oVe breaking up but if they band together and it truly is Ohio versus Everyone, then my money is on Ohio.