Grizzled Young Veterans finally break down real reasons for quitting WWE
Posted by  badge Boss on Nov 29, 2023 - 11:07PM
Zack Gibson and James Drake have opened up about their shock departure (Picture: WWE)

Zack Gibson and James Drake have finally lifted the lid on their decision to leave .

The UK tag team – best known as Grizzled Young Veterans – had become a fixture on NXT since early 2021 and were alongside Joe Gacy and ’s daughter Ava before requesting their release in April and later leaving last month .

Speaking exclusively to, Zack said: ‘In a nutshell, this is one of the big driving forces as to why we wanted to leave and get out because without going into too much, we just weren’t particularly happy with how things were going.

‘It all felt a bit boring. And ultimately, you know, this is our job, but it’s also it’s our hobby, and it’s our life. So we want to be enjoying what we’re doing.

‘Now we’re back out in the wild west. It all feels exciting and fresh again, it feels a little bit like starting over, like you’ve got a new lease on life.’

Indeed, since making a surprise appearance for DPW last month, the pair haven’t looked back as they look to recapture the magic.

They’re getting back to their Grizzled Young Veterans roots (Picture: WWE)

‘It’s raw and like authentic and that’s one of the things that I guess that’s one of the things that we really missed,’ the Liverpudlian added.

For the duo – whose debut on NXT in the was halted due to the pandemic – they feel they have become victims of bad timing, with ‘everything moving so quickly’ behind the scenes and various regime changes having a big impact.

‘We ended up becoming, lack of a better term, like reliable sources,’ Blackpool-born James explained, pointing to the way they were used more as veterans to prepare the next generation rather than two wrestlers in their primes.

‘When company objectives shifts, sometimes you find yourself not lining up with what it is that they want at that current time,’ Zack candidly added, while pointing out that there’s no ill will on either side .

Zack and James were repacked as Rip Fowler and Jagger Reid (Picture: WWE)

He explained: ‘Our decision to move on wasn’t necessarily like, “we don’t like that company anymore!” It’s not a big middle finger to the company, the company is doing great business, it’s just we felt that as a product, we weren’t doing the best business.’

He noted: ‘One of my strongest suits in this job is talking. It’s always been one of my calling cards. And then again, situationally – no one was out to get us – but we found ourselves in a position where now we’re not talking. Now we’re just reading one line every four weeks.’

The pair – who are full of praise for and trainers like Steve Corino – admitted there came a point where they stopped clocking in every day at the Performance Center in Orlando because they weren’t getting as much from the environment.

Explaining how they ended up being asked to help out while trainers focused on inexperienced talent, James added: ‘It’s a nice compliment, but it got to a point where we were kind of in purgatory, where we weren’t getting any more resources with that stuff.’

The duo have no bad blood with Schism’s Joe Gacy and Ava (Picture: WWE)
They were happy to keep working under Shawn Michaels until their departure (Picture: WWE)

A lot of the decision to leave came from a desire to wrestle more than the NXT schedule allowed them to, with weekly tapings on Tuesdays and few other opportunities in front of live crowds.

‘I’m missing the thing that I like, this is what I live for,’ Zack enthused. ‘You only get X amount of time, on the on the planet, you only get one life. So you better spend it doing the thing that you actually enjoy doing!’

The duo – who had high praise for their Schism teammates – remained a fixture on NXT even after requesting their release, with and GYV happy to oblige.

‘A lot of people have had that in the past, and they’ve just decided to stay at home,’ James pointed out. ‘[But] it wouldn’t have been a good look for us, and it wouldn’t have been a good look for the company.’

However, they were still plotting their next moves and ‘getting excited about being immersed in the job again’, with the world at their feet.

That’s not to say they’re keen to jump onto the next big contract, despite naming , New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor as options.

‘Without giving too much away, all of them are on the radar,’ Zack teased. ‘We’re literally just enjoying exploring our options.’

A WWE return on Raw or SmackDown isn’t out of the question either, but they’re taking their time to enjoy themselves without worrying about the future.

‘If this is the end, at least we go out doing what we enjoy doing. But if it works out, we get to circle right back to where we were at before in the first place,’ he said.

‘Why don’t you just see where we fly first, and then we’ll land somewhere when we’re ready to land.’