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THE CURSE OF THE DRAGONBORN

BY COLIN WEST

"We're our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves."
- Tom Robbins

The UWA Elite Army sat in shock, surveying the historic level of chaos that enveloped the end of iWrestle 2017. Some turned their eyes to the victorious Archadia, the dominant and illustrious Hall of Famer, as he soaked in the glory of his 3rd UWA Elite Championship. Others looked towards Brandon the Bull, the former champion who lost his title without being pinned or made to submit. The remainder of the crowd listened with captive breath as the new #1 contender Kyle the Beast challenged Archadia to an ironman match for the championship at Crossroads. 

I was not looking at any of them. I was too busy watching a six-year tragedy unfold before my eyes.

It is no secret that I am perhaps the most vocal supporter of Drake Chambers in my profession. From his UWA Elite debut in 2012, there was something about Chambers that I understood. It wasn't anything tangible - yes, he had an audacious and awe-inspiring offensive arsenal, a fiery passion and a strong fighting spirit.

But I was drawn to Drake for what he represented. Honor. Drive. Passion. For me, it was never so much about what Drake Chambers did as it was about what he represented.

In the six years Drake Chambers has competed in UWA Elite, "The Dragonborn" has certainly accumulated an impressive list of accolades. He is a 3-time iChampion, a Crossroads Tournament finalist, and is currently the only competitor in UWA Elite history to hold inidividual singles victories over Kyle the Beast, Sean "Damage" McNelis, Eric Corvis and Bowes.

But until August 5, 2017, Drake Chambers never had a match for the UWA Elite Championship.

Drake's absence from the main event seemed to be a thing of the past at Last Breath 2016, when Chambers captured the Golden Ticket Briefcase, enabling him to invoke a championship match at any time in 2017. From the moment he first clutched the briefcase, Chambers was clear - he would only utilize his Golden Ticket for a shot at the UWA Elite Championship.

From the moment it touched his hands, however, that Ticket quickly became fool's gold.

Chambers was first assaulted by the jealous Nicholas Kaye, who brutalized Drake from every angle for months. It took nearly half a year, but Drake finally vanquished Kaye. It seemed as though his path was finally clear - until Michael Massacre interfered with not one, but two separate opportunities for Chambers to invoke his championship opportunity.

The rivalry with Massacre became so uncontrollable that the two settled their differences in an unsanctioned fight at Massacre's home of Slaughter Beach, Delaware. Chambers drove four hours by car and survived a vicious affair to end Massacre's intrusions.

Chambers' path was now clear. The only trouble now was time. Drake had officially waited longer than any other UWA Elite competitor to utilize his Golden Ticket. And for the first time in six years, I began to witness something I'd never seen from the stoic, honorable Drake Chambers before.

Panic.

As the summer months wore on, the Golden Ticket became less of an opportunity and more of a burden for The Dragonborn. Speculation ran rampant. Fans asked him every month when he was going to "cash in" - when he was going to become UWA Elite Champion.

August 5, 2017, Drake finally chose his moment. And in perhaps the most personally heartbreaking moment I have experienced in my six years with this company, I watched him choose wrong.

By now, the facts of the situation are well-known. After a thunderous Bulldozer left Brandon the Bull and Archadia fallen in the center of the ring, Drake Chambers' music rang through the Holy Trinity Church. Chambers handed his Golden Ticket Briefcase to referee Austin Mitchell. He battled Archadia, and then Brandon. After his patented Dragonslayer scored, Drake's moment of triumph seemed inevitable. But Archadia struck from behind with a That's Gotta Driver, and it was all over.

Six years of climbing, fighting and honorable battles. Gone in 3 seconds.

The UWA Elite Army fell momentarily silent. Then, a slow chorus of boos began to rise, as the reality of Archadia's third UWA Elite Championship reign became reality. The popular champion Brandon the Bull had lost without being defeated. 

As Kyle the Beast stormed the ring to lay out his Crossroads challenge to the new champion, all I could do was stare at Drake Chambers. He lay in a corner of the ring, broken, defeated, dreams shattered. With Kyle and Archadia standing eye-to-eye in the ring and Brandon the Bull recovering at ringside, the situation was actually far worse than I first thought.

I began to realize that not only was Drake Chambers defeated, he was forgotten in plain sight.

I saw Chambers about 10 minutes after his defeat. I asked him how he was doing. He smiled, as Drake does, and said nothing. It was heartbreaking.

In the days that followed, the sting of such a monumental loss was compounded by the UWA Elite Army and locker room's reactions to the match.

Fans claimed Drake "wasted" his opportunity. Brandon the Bull noted on Facebook that he "was robbed because a guy with a briefcase thought it was his 'moment'". Even Archadia mockingly placed Chambers in the finals of his Crossroads Tournament predictions - only to have him lose, of course.

The fact that turns this mind-blowing level of defeat into utter tragedy is sad and simple - there's no one to blame for what happened to Drake Chambers except Drake Chambers. For a man who has made a career of rising to the occasion in the greatest moments of adversity, the irony of losing everything all at once in the most important match of his life is cruel.

I'm a lot of things in the wrestling business - commentator, manager, host, agent, marketer. But professionally, I am a writer and journalist first. And for six years, Drake Chambers has been one of my most reliable, forthright and candid sources.

I can't get in touch with him.

I am not a professional wrestler. I cannot imagine the level of physical, mental and emotional anguish that Drake Chambers is experiencing in the days and weeks following such a catastrophic defeat. In the past, I have watched losses of this magnitude utterly change the lives and personas of men like The Wretched Bowes and Joey Adams from good to evil, heroic to villainous, triumphant to twisted.

I do not think the same will happen to Drake Chambers. But I am not sure if that is because I truly believe it, or because I simply want to. The choice of the path of the Dragonborn Drake Chambers, and the events which follow iWrestle, is entirely up to him.

I hope in my heart he chooses well.