More on Benoit

June 27, 2007

I never know whether I should be happy or bothered when someone accurately captures the way that I’m feeling, but better than I do.

 From my favorite sports journalist: Bill Simmons at ESPN.com’s Page 2

Bill Simmons: I am still gathering my thoughts, waiting for all the facts to come out. It just doesn’t seem like any non-wrestling fan realizes how huge this story is to everyone who actually follows wrestling – in my opinion, it’s the biggest sports story of the year even though wrestling technically isn’t a sport. Benoit was one of the 12-15 greatest wrestlers of the past 30 years. For the wrestling world, it’s like the OJ thing all over again – only its worse because his little son was involved. It might be the single worst sports story since the Rae Carruth thing.

And from someone else in the same chat recap:

josh ut: Just one more thought on the Benoit situation for the non-wrestling fans. This was the equivalent of a Derek Fisher or Donovan Mcnabb or Derek Jeter committing the act, one of the most recognizable class acts of a sport. The man was known as classy individual and had the respect of everyone he worked with. If your kid was going to be a wrestler, you would have wanted him to be Chris Benoit. This is why it is so hard for the wrestling community to come to grip with this tragedy.

Well put by both people.

I wrote in an email to my friend Boner yesterday (and yes I’m in my mid-30s and have a friend whose nickname is Boner) that now I know how Buffalo Bills fans feel about OJ Simpson. 

This guy was one of my top 10 favorite wrestlers of all time.  I had tears of joy on my face when he won the world title at WrestleMania XX.  There’s an image, a classic image, of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero (who are now both deceased), both world champions, hugging in the middle of the ring.  And the unspoken words between the two were essentially: “They told us, we weren’t big enough, weren’t good enough talkers, couldn’t draw fans to the arena, that we weren’t good enough, and look where we are now, buddy.”

I mean, I didn’t cry because Benoit had won something. People in a boardroom, looked at the demographics, the buyrates, the television ratings, the Q-Rating, and merchandise sales and determined that Chris Benoit could win the title at WrestleMania XX.  What made me cry was that Benoit ignored the criticsm, busted his ass every day, doing his job, working hard, putting his body on the line, and he was rewarded. That’s a good story for anyone.

Is that moment tainted?  Should it be, if it’s not?

Killing his wife, while reprehensible… is at least understandable.  We all have been enraged by someone.  And those who are closest to you, can in an instant drive you the craziest.  And someone with the strength of a professional wrestler, could most likely hurt someone, before they truly realized what they were doing.

Killing himself… I don’t believe in suicide, but I believe in the right to kill yourself. They say that it’s the coward’s way out, and in some cases I believe that, but we all have moments of cowardice. Benoit killing himself denies us answers, but it also removes the circus of a murder trial. I can see him, being regretful of what he had done, seeing no other option other than his own death.

Killing his son…

No.

No justification.

It’s an innocent life.

Even making the arguement, that the kid would be emotionally traumatized by the death of both of his parents, and maybe even more so with the child’s Fragile X syndrome.  Even so.

Then take into account that it occured the following day, so it wasn’t ‘in the moment’.  When you think for that long of a period of time, you have moments of clarity, that is unless he was mentally ill or chemically unbalanced.

But that is supposition. And there is still responsibility for the act.

My current feeling is that I cannot really watch wrestling anymore. Not that I watch it much anyway. Once Suzanne moved in, Monday nights turned into CSI: Miami nights more than Monday Night Raw. And Zack basically turned wrestling time into bath time.

But it’s more when you have a bad reaction to food, sometimes remembering your upset stomach or worse vomitting the substance keeps you from returning to that food. I haven’t had Southern Comfort in 14 years, and the thought of a Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak with blue cheese makes my stomach turn.

I’ve been watching this stupid ‘sport’ for close to 20 years now. And that is really scary. Since the advent of the Internet, learning about backstage politics, advanced booking, and pay-per-view results, had been more of an addiction than the actual action in the ring. But I have no appetite for it now. I don’t see going cold turkey, but I don’t feel the need to watch it anymore. If I could remove the wrestling websites from my memory, I would.

There’s more thoughts, but trying to keep things brief for now.

Cheers,

Robert

Advertisements

Quick Thoughts: Chris Benoit

June 26, 2007

I turned on wrestling last night, while Suze was upstairs nursing Zack.  I saw John Cena talking to the camera, very somberly. As they had been pretending that Vince McMahon died when his limo exploded, I thought this was some rather tasteless part of that angle.

I flip back to read the words in the bottom left corner, “Remembering Chris Benoit.”  My jaw hit the floor.  And within a few more minutes, I learned that Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and son Daniel were all found dead in their home.

The early reports suggested some sort of poisoning, but as I went to bed the news in Philly said: “The police in Atlanta are investigating this as a murder-suicide”

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=2916498

So, talk about a range of emotions.  How do you feel, when a ‘hero’ of yours (hero only meaning someone whose accomplishments, in this case athletic accomplishments, you admire) does something this horrible. 

I mean I’ve learned over the years that wrestling is a seedy business and that most professional wrestlers are dispicable human beings, but that’s more from the self-absorbed, womanizing, substance-abusing bullies standpoint.  To a degree, it’s probably difficult to devote your life to semi-violent entertainment, and turn it off when you leave the ring.  But this is something else entirely.

He was one of the best.  But unfortunately, that does something sometimes…  I dunno…. Can make little sense of it all…

Cheers,

Rob


The Return of ECW

April 27, 2006

Okay, let’s look at this thing rationally.

This past week, World Wrestling Entertainment announced that they would be bringing back Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). It will supposedly be run by Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman, with a roster of existing ECW stars and existing OVW (and I’m guessing WWE stars who aren’t doing well on RAW or Smackdown!) wrestlers.

Okay, there’s the bad in this situation. First off, ECW was the rebel promotion. How can they be rebellious, and run by the establishment they were rebelling against? Second, it’s hard to believe that the McMahons are willing to let Paul Heyman or Tommy Dreamer run ECW without putting their stamp on things. Third, ECW was about letting wrestlers do what they want to do in the ring, I don’t see that happening with anything run by the WWE. Finally, the professional wrestling world is saturated with promotions where the wrestlers aren’t quite at major league levels, and WWE is just adding one more group to the list.

Fair nuff.

But… Keep this in mind:

The WWE needs a true minor-league promotion in which to teach their wrestlers how to create feuds, characters, and develop angles. ECW was the place for that. Paul created dozens of memorable characters, and chances are he can still do it. We see talented guys come into the WWE all the time, who just aren’t ready for this level, but there isn’t anywhere for the WWE to send them. A true minor league system is exactly what the WWE needs.

A Paul Heyman driven promotion has always been exciting for wrestling fans. Look at ECW throughout its history. Look at Smackdown when Heyman ran it. And from all reports, look at OVW under his tenure. Paul Heyman can provide exciting ECW television.

There are dozens of ECW alumni who really could benefit from one more run. They are too old for the indy scene, but not talented enough to be on the WWE roster: Axl Rotten, Danny Doring, Roadkill, Steve Corino, The Sandman, Kid Kash, Scorpio, Justin Credible, Johnny Swinger, Simon Diamond, CW Anderson, Perry Saturn, and dozens of others. I’d enjoy seeing them getting one more paycheck in their careers.

And finally, to be able to go to an arena, and have a moment of ECW nostalgia, to see decent wrestling, to see the ECW faithful again, would be enjoyable. Especially if the price was fair.

ECW has done more than any other indy promotion, it has survived. If only in the memories and hushed whispers of its fans. The WWE and the McMahons respects ECW and respects the power of ECW. Maybe it realizes it’s a viable entity. Or thinks its edgy enough to fit in the arsenal of WWE programming.

But this won’t be ECW as we remember it. No question about it. Anyone who goes to One Night Stand, or is excited about ECW coming back, under WWE guidance should realize this. The federation known as Extreme Championship Wrestling is dead.

However, that doesn’t mean that the wrestling ‘brand’ known as ECW couldn’t be a little bit fun.

Cheers,

Robert


Eddie Guerrero R.I.P

November 14, 2005

Eddie Guerrero

I’ve been a fan of professional wrestling since I was a teenager. In college, I became a little more obsessed about it, but such is life at that time. I had discovered Eastern Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1994. It was a fun little Philadelphia based independed promotion that was loosely associated with the, fallen from grace, National Wrestling Alliance. I could only watch ECW when I was in New Jersey, on a local cable access channel.

So, when I returned to the shore in 1995, I searched for ECW television. Much had changed in a year. Eastern Championship Wrestling was now Extreme Championship Wrestling. A new look and a very different attitude.

Alot changes in a wrestling promotion in a year. The ECW fans were now cheering for The Sandman. There were now two Pit Bulls. Mikey Whipreck had developed some offense. And, boy that Raven guy seems really familiar.

And then I saw the highlights from the Eddie Guerrero versus Dean Malenko feud. ECW called it “The Malenko Guerrero Classic”. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from both men. Dean Malenko was one of the best mat wrestlers I had ever seen. But Eddie Guerrero was one of the most complete high-flying wrestlers, ever. Eddie did things that I didn’t think were possible.

I was hooked.

When I heard that Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko were going to have a 2 out of 3 falls match at the ECW Arena, I made all plans to go down and see this. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away during this time, and as much as I love pro-wrestling, it certainly takes a back seat to that.

The thrill I felt when ECW television showed the entire match in later weeks, was unbelievable. And it was and still remains one of my favorite matches ever. The match ended in a tie. The two wrestlers were leaving ECW to go to WCW. The crowd gave both men a standing ovation as the two men hugged each other in the ring.

That was ECW. And that was Eddie Guerrero. I was a fan.

Other wrestlers grabbed my attention. I followed Eddie in WCW when I could. Good matches usually followed him. All of his problems in and out of the ring have been well documented.

He went to the WWF as one of the Radicals. Eddie quickly became a man who could make you laugh in the ring. His ringwork was awesome. Eddie gained that last little bit that made him into a superstar.

The Internet Wrestling Community had heard rumors that Eddie had gained enough popularity that the WWE was thinking of giving Eddie the world title. I laughed in disbelief that a wrestler who weighed 235 lbs at best would win the title.

Then I remember hearing that Eddie Guerrero was to face Brock Lesnar at No Way Out in February of 2004. Lesnar was due to face Goldberg at WrestleMania. It was a dream match. It was basically signed sealed and delivered.

The joy in my heart lept to the surface. Eddie Guerrero was going to win the World Championship!!!!!

I don’t know why I care that a person wins a championship when the sport is fake. I guess it’s confirmation or validation that the federation recognizes the wrestler’s talent that you yourself have always known was there. I was thrilled for Eddie. Especially knowing the problems that he dealt with over the years with pain killers, drugs, family problems, and wrestling problems.

Professional wrestling has not made me cry for joy on several occassions. The embrace of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit at the end of WrestleMania XX, had me bawling. Two wrestlers that I liked and respected were on the top of the mountain. A tear or two ran down my face.

Eddie Guerrero had made it. He would always be a world champion. Put him in the sentences with the Steve Austins, the Ric Flairs, the Hulk Hogans. Yes they are multiple champions. Yes, they are worldwide superstars. But Eddie gets mentioned in their company.

Eddie wasn’t a great champion, and they took the belt off him fairly quickly. Such is life. Eddie still gave great performances in the ring.

I came into work today. We were meeting the new VP of Development. I quickly hopped on the internet to see what happened in wrestling over the weekend:

WWE News: Guerrero death headlines local newspaper, fans treat situation with respect

My heart entered my chest when I saw the headline. Now, there are two Guerreros in the WWF. (And you will never read this Chavo, but please forgive me.) I was so hoping that it was not Eddie. But in my heart I knew that it was.

Eddie Guerrero died in a hotel room over the weekend from a heart attack.

Eddie was three years older than me. He was 38 years old.

The life of a professional wrestler kills your body. It’s that simple. Whether it’s pain pills or recreational drugs or steroids. They have no off season, and those at the top (at the WWE level), work 4-5 days each week. And it kills at lease 1/3 of them before they reach the age of 50.

I don’t want to preach, so let me stop. If I really cared enough, I would stop watching the stupid mindless crap.

Goodbye Eddie Guerrero. You have thrilled me. You have made me laugh. You have made me cry. You made me care about you. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you…. and god rest.

Robert


Back if only for one night

June 14, 2005

Back if only for a moment…..

I drove in front of that square building on the corner of Swanson and Rittner in Philadelphia. And the smile returned to my face, the chill ran up the back of my spine. I was back. Back at what is now called the The New Alhambra Sports & Entertainment Center . But we all know better, don’t we. The building may be torn down one day and a Baby Gap put in it’s place, but it will always be the ECW Arena.

I will not try to big league myself and tell you that I was a regular there. I was good for three or four trips per year to the place in my heyday. I could say what I saw, but plenty of people saw the same stuff.

ECW filled me with joy, week in and week out. When I heard that the WWE’s version of ECW would be at the Hammerstein, and that Hardcore Homecoming would be at the Arena in Philly. I knew which one I would be attending.

The mood was right. Me and my buddy Michael ate sandwiches at Tony Lukes. We waited in line with the other fans, sweated to death in the hot sun, bullshitted rumors and stories with the people in line. Stared at the hot chicks (dare I say ring rats) standing in line with us. And cheered as a few of our heroes showed up in the hot sun to say hello.

Kronus was there, much shorter than I had remembered him. Axl showed up, hardcore as always, but in a great mood. And finally New Jack showed up, to the utter delight of the crowd, as someone played Natural Born Killaz.

We got into the building pretty much on time, and without too much hassle, which is definately not ECW-like. The building was hot as hell. I had to stop chanting ECW once or twice, because I started to get a headache from the heat. (The five beers before the show might’ve helped with that).

The crowd was absolutely amped up. Ring announcer Bob Artese got a standing ovation, that’s how happy everyone was. Not to mention, Todd Gordon, Joey Styles, Cyrus, Joel Gertner, and all of the referees. I forgot how loud that place gets. The E-C-W chant is probably still echoing off the walls.

The card itself was enjoyable. A good wrestling show? Not as such, but I didn’t go for a good wrestling show. I went to remember. I went to be in that building one more time, with the wrestlers that I love watching.

Thoughts on the matches:

– Simon Diamond & CW Anderson vs Mikey Whipreck & Chris Chetti
Decent for what it was. Everyone hit their finishers. And it was good to see them.

– The Blue Meanie vs Tracy Smothers w/ JT Smith

Of all of the members of the FBI to get a match, Smothers gets the nod? I just wish they had let JT Smith sing.

– Tribute to the deceased ECW Wrestlers

Very moving in the audience. The Candido chant was absoutely off the chart.

– Entrance of Pit Bull 1, Johnny Grunge, and Tammy Lynn Sytch

I was surprised to see Tammy. She seemed very moved by the night. She has indeed gained a lot of weight. But also was very surprised to hear a “show your tits” chant. She was sweet

– Pit Bull & Johnny Grunge vs Roadkill and Danny Doring

It was okay. Johnny is VERY out of shape. 911 made the save to the delight of the crowd, even though they didn’t hit the music quite right.

– 2 Cold Scorpio vs Kid Kash

Great to see both of these guys back in the ring. Scorpio’s body is just all dis-proportionate anymore. But decent enough contest.

– Bad Breed (Ian & Axl Rotten) vs John Kronus & New Jack

I just love hearing the song, Natural Born Killaz. And to see the entire place with their arms raised in the air. New Jack moves like my grandfather, though. Don’t look for the WWE to hire him any time soon.

– Jerry Lynn vs Justin Credible w/ Jason Knight

Best match of the night. Justin is still young enough to move as he did back in ECW, and Jerry is just an amazing machine. The man is 42 years old, and still hoped around the ring like it was 6 years ago. Fun match too. Jazz showed up at the end for a good pop.

– Raven w/ The Musketeer & The Blue Meanie vs The Sandman

I love Raven, and maybe he was playing the gimmick, but he seemed bored to be there. However, I was having dreams in my sleep about seeing the Sandman’s entrance one more time in the ECW arena, and I was not disappointed.

– Terry Funk w/ Tammy Lynn vs Shane Douglas w/ Francine vs Sabu w/ Bill Alfonso – barbed wire match.

I liked that they went this way for a match, but I don’t want to see a man in his 40s, a man in his 60s, and a man who just had a tribute event to raise money for his medical bills play with barbed wire. That’s just me. Shane Douglas was puking in the ring, it was so hot. Mick Foley popped the crowd huge. I never expected it. And I have no idea how he got to the ring. When Funk went up on the ladder, the entire building told him to get off of it. We thought he was too old/concussed/much loss of blood, and didn’t know. Everyone came out of the backstage area to watch this one.

Standing ovations and hugs following the match, with a big “Thank You Shane” and “Please Come Back” chants.

It was great. Get the DVD when it comes out.

One last ECW weekend.

Time to Experience the Revolution

Cheers,

Robert


The Death of Chris Candido

April 29, 2005

I got in to work this morning and found out that Chris Candido had passed away last night from a blood clot. Many of you may not know, but Candido is a professional wrestler. He had worked a long time to come back from drug addiction and was making his way back.

I won’t sit here and say that I was a huge fan of Chris Candido. Or that I saw him back in the early days, and knew he was a big star.

I first saw him debut in the WWF as Body Donna Skip along with Sunny. Curious about this new star, and who he was on the independent circuit, I did some research (either internet or Apter-magazines), and found out that Skip was formerly Chris Candido. I had heard of Chris Candido, but had no idea of his wrestling abilities.

Skip never impressed me that much. (Sunny impressed me greatly, but that’s a different story).

So, in fall of 1996 I was watching ECW television. And I heard AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. I thought to myself, “Who is using this entrance music?” AC/DC was very different from the cutting age music I was hearing on ECW.

And out walked Chris Candido to a huge ovation from the ECW faithful. From that moment on, I started to see what the fuss was about. Candido had gone from the baby blue & red fitness outfit back to simple black tights. There was a cockiness, a swagger, and a confidence in Candido. And the delight on his face that night was apparent to everyone. The look on his face said, I am so happy to be me again.

I won’t say that I was ever a Chris Candido fan. I doubt there were many who were. But Chris brought a smile to my face. Chris made me laugh. I always warmed to the thought of a Chris Candido match, because I knew it would be a good one.

I was very happy to hear about Chris’s comeback this year. I thought that maybe this troubled guy had perhaps turned his life around.

And now today…

When I hear “Back in Black”, I will think of you and that look on your face.

Go in peace…..


And We’re off and Running, I guess……

February 4, 2004

Okay, this is the first entry…. Who knows what’s going to happen…. whether this turns out to be a permanent thing or just a temporary one…..

Just read on 411Mania.com, that at the WWE No Way Out PPV, that Kurt Angle, The Big Show, and John Cena will be in a match to determine who faces the WWE Champion (currently Brock Lesnar) at WrestleMania XX.

Ladies and gentlemen, this means that Eddie Guerrero is going to defeat Brock Lesnar at No Way Out!!!!!

Unless the WWE has totally scrapped its plans to have Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg face each other at WrestleMania, that’s what this means. You can see it playing out before our very eyes. Goldberg causes a distraction that allows Eddie Guerrero to defeat Brock Lesnar at No Way Out, setting up Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle for the WWE Title, and Brock Lesnar vs Bill Goldberg.

I thought Chris Benoit might get a shot at the title, but I never figured that Eddie Guerrero would get one. Especially considering where Eddie was at one point in time in his life. I mean, WOW.

Now, I’m not even sure if I expect Eddie to make it past WrestleMania with the title. (Actually, I do, because they probably want Brock to take it back). But to have Eddie Guerrero listed as a WWE Champion, that would fill my heart with joy.

Okay, that’s it for now…