From Wrestling to Porn

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 28, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

But in 2001, when Levesque left Laurer to take up with Stephanie McMahon, the daughter of the WWF’s chief executive, Laurer quit the federation and all but left the sport. From there, her celebrity quotient—as well as a run of well-publicized self-destructive behavior—superseded Chyna’s athleticism. She appeared on VH1’s The Surreal Life in 2005 and logged a season on Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew in 2008, shot two bestselling nude pictorials for Playboy and babbled her way, seeming dazed and incoherent, through more than a few TV and radio interviews. More infamously, Laurer was hospitalized for what she describes as a “mental breakdown” and arrested for domestic assault after allegedly beating up her on-again-off-again boyfriend, pro wrestler Sean “X-Pac” Waltman.

Article source: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/06/28/chyna-porn-film-pro-wrestler-s-new-role-in-adult-films.html

Masters of Mayhem – Honolulu Star

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 26, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

courtesy marc orbitoKapu of the Lords of the Pacific tag team was on the wrong end of a finishing move by Polynesian Power Trip at Battleclash 5.

For local pro wrestling organization Action Zone Wrestling, there is no better way to mark another year of high-flying mayhem than to welcome back the sensation who helped ring in its first anniversary.

Independent pro wrestling standout Matt Cross vaults back into the AZW ring on Monday as the group notches its sixth year of entertaining fans with antics both audacious and athletic.

The former competitive gymnast, also known as M-Dogg 20, will compete in the main event at Anniversary Annihilation 6, challenging current heavyweight champion “Mr. Athletic” Jeff Cobb for the title. Both men boast acrobatic wrestling skills, ensuring the match will be one of the biggest AZW has seen since it was founded by local actor Daryl Bonilla in March 2005.

According to Bonilla, the Cleveland native contacted him in 2005 about appearing in an AZW show. Cross got his chance at the organization’s first show in June 2006, but has not been back since.

“What I remember specifically is how friendly and welcoming everyone was,” said Cross, who had already spent five years making himself known in the wrestling world before his guest appearance in Hawaii.

Cobb said he is “absolutely thrilled” to defend his title against Cross, who earned two gold medals at the 1999 AAU Junior Olympics.

“He is an awesome performer and I am looking forward to putting on a five-star match,” said Cobb, whose athletic chops are equally impressive. The Hawaii native, who moved to Guam when he was 12, wrestled throughout high school and college and competed in the 2004 Olympics for Guam in freestyle wrestling.

Though Cobb joined AZW only a couple of years ago, he has become one of the organization’s marquee performers thanks to his good-guy personality, and his soaring backflips and world-class grappling skills don’t hurt, either.

Cobb and top-notch visiting wrestlers like Cross are two of the reasons AZW continues to survive in a market where independent pro wrestling has struggled to take off. Hawaii has been home to a slew of small groups since the close of Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling in the 1980s, and AZW is the only one still standing.

Bonilla said he is “pleasantly surprised to see that interest in AZW has grown with each show and continues to grow.”

“I truly hope to get AZW on a bigger scale on the independent landscape,” he said. “It’s hard since we are in such an isolated place in terms of bringing in outside talent or sending our talent abroad.

“I want to continue to grow.”

Still, AZW has overcome both obstacles throughout the years. It frequently attracts visitors from the mainland and Japan who are eager to test the Hawaii market, and AZW wrestlers have returned the favor.

Several also have had the opportunity to try out for national organizations. Cobb, for instance, has tried out for TNA, or Total Nonstop Action, and was a finalist in casting for “Tough Enough.”

“I know we are not like the big promotions like WWE and TNA, but for a smaller (market) we have better shows and better crowds, and that will alway push us to be better,” said Daniel Schuster, aka Kaniala, a veteran of the Hawaii wrestling scene.

People often dismiss pro wrestling as little more than a circus sideshow starring Spandex-clad men in compromising positions, but it takes years of training to pull off the daring stunts and fast-paced action that make the sport so entertaining for its fans. Wrestlers rarely walk away from shows unscathed, often sporting cuts, bruises and the occasional sprain or dislocation.

Cross, the heavyweight title contender, said he broke his big toe in three places only two months ago, and has broken his nose and pinky finger. He also mentioned the many stitches required over the years to close up a handful of injuries.

“It’s the nature of the beast that at some point, you’re going to get hurt,” he said.

Despite the risks, many on AZW’s roster say they thrive on the discipline and dedication the sport requires.

“It’s easy to be a fan, but you have to have the heart to be a wrestler,” said longtime competitor Kenjiro Katahira, originally of Japan. “It’s not something that anyone can do.”

“I’ve witnessed a lot of athletic and muscular guys try out and quit after the first practice,” he said.

Darnell Gamiao — Bobby “The Lightning” Bolt in the ring — wrestled in high school, but there was no opportunity to pursue Olympic-level wrestling in Hawaii. Pro wrestling, he said, “is another way of participating in such athleticism on a different level.”

Several wrestlers said they were inspired by family members to get into the ring.

Both Edwin C. Flores — better known as Kaimana — and Katahira said their grandfathers played a major role in steering them toward pro wrestling, watching matches with them when they were children.

“When he passed away I thought to myself, ‘That’s what I’m going to do to make my grandpa proud,’ ” Flores said. Katahira likewise said his wrestling is a tribute to his now-deceased grandfather.

Above all, the AZW wrestlers said, it’s the fans who matter most.

Flores and Richard Hamasaki, one of several referees in AZW, said the shows are a way to put aside the stresses of life for a few hours and entertain the audience.

“Even when we get injured, the fan reaction makes it priceless,” Gamiao said.

Cobb, the heavyweight champion, agreed.

“I never get tired of wrestling because I love what I do. If I didn’t, I would not put my body on the line at the shows and for people I don’t even know personally.

“But if they are entertained and go home happy, then I am happy.”

Article source: http://www.staradvertiser.com/sports/sportsnews/20110626__MASTERS_OF_MAYHEM.html

Thomas Turney/The Daily Advance

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 25, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Tonight, the gym at the former Elizabeth City Middle School will be rocking as Coastal Real Extreme Wrestling puts on a fund-raiser for the Police Athletic League.

Fans will be screaming and pointing when former World Wrestling Entertainment stars with names like Justin Sane, Doink and Ax go at it in the pro wrestling card.

But Friday, in the same gym, a handful of kids were practicing a more restrained version of wrestling in a PAL-sponsored clinic that might not exist without fund-raisers like tonight’s show.

Johnny E. Jones, the wrestling coach at River Road Middle School and a former head coach at Northeastern, knows the over-the-top theatrics that typify professional wrestling are wildly popular with young wrestlers, especially beginners.

“A lot of times kids will want to go with what they’ve seen on TV,” he said. “We have to de-program them and show them it’s not about big muscles, but flexibility. It’s also about thinking.

“That stuff that happens on TV is totally different from what we do. That’s why they call it World Wrestling Entertainment.

“When they come in with those ideas, as coaches we try to show them that testosterone can be adjusted.”

At the clinic, which started this week and concludes next week, Jones and his staff are focusing on conditioning, basic drills and skill development.

“We learned how to shoot and take down and half nelsons and all that,” Jarrod Bryant said.

Jones said the goal of the clinic is to “bring back the strength of wrestling in Elizabeth City.

“We want to spike interest in the sport so that we become a power again, like Currituck,” he said.

While Currituck has won the last four Northeastern Coastal Conference championships, wrestling appears to be on the decline at the two city high schools. Pasquotank barely fielded half a squad last winter and Northeastern failed to qualify a single wrestler for the region tournament.

Compounding the situation is that both schools are seeking new coaches after Phil Mayo resigned at Pasquotank and David Sawyer at Northeastern.

Jones said he has been approached about the Northeastern job, but prefers to stay at River Road.

“I love teaching the basics at this level,” he said.

And that’s why Jones is running the PAL clinic.

Unfortunately, only a handful of wrestlers have shown up.

“We were hoping to get about 30-40 kids and break it into two sessions so we could accommodate parents’ work schedules, but the advertisement about the clinic came right at the end of the school year and a lot of parents may have already had other commitments,” Jones said. “Also, I think football practice going on now is also a factor.

“But we’re going to do what we can with this and try to have another one before the regular season starts.”

Meanwhile, Jones is grateful to the PAL for providing a facility for him to conduct the clinic.

“We wanted to do this three, four years ago, but there was no place to have it,” he said. “We’re thankful to be able to wrestle in an environment that is controlled.”

Article source: http://www.dailyadvance.com/sports/saturday-nightrsquos-pro-wrestling-show-could-benefit-local-clinic-551627

Our parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased the "Ring of Honor".

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

UNTITLED – It’s about honor… It’s about toughness… It’s about some good ole’ wrestling.’
    Our parent company Sinclair Broadcast Group purchased the “Ring of Honor”.  
    And if you’re a fan of professional wrestling, that’s great news for you because R.O.H. Will be coming to our network in September.  

:  “9-24-11 will be a historic day in professional wrestling.”
KOFF:  “Ring of Honor is a product that needs to be seen and deserves to
be seen.”

And now  *you* will be able to.    With the purchase of the third
Largest wrestling company in the country, our parent company Sinclair
Broadcast group delivers the hard-hitting action slamming right into
Your living room.

:  “New faces, new stars – young people who have a love for this
great American art form.”
“I promise you  these guys are athletic marvels and you’ve never seen
anything like it.”

And that’s because it’s all about the in-ring  competition.  Throughout
This company’s nine year run, over-the-top story lines and gimmicks take
A back seat to the *action*.

:  “It’s gonna be a fresh approach.” “Rather than sports
entertainment, ROH is an entertaining sport.”

Your experience doesn’t end with the Televised show.

KOFF:  “The amount of work that’s going to go into this is what it’s all
about.”
: “Not only will the product be televised on all Sinclair
stations, we also intend to tour live events so the fans in all these
markets can see their favorites in action.”
:  “And also, the internet PPV’s.”

Like this Sunday’s “Best in the world”, broadcasting live from New York
City, where you’ll see former partners collide for the world title…

… And a huge battle for the tag team titles….    …
That almost took place at our press conference.

:  “We let the athletes speak for themselves…”  “Although some times they speak when they shouldn’t…”

… there will be plenty more, come September.

  “We want to take pro wrestling into the 21st century.”

    IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN CHECKING OUT “BEST IN THE WORLD” THIS SUNDAY
OR FOR MORE INFORMATION ON RING OF HONOR, YOU CAN HEAD TO
WWW.ROHWRESTLING.COM.

“Ring of Honor” Purchased By Sinclair Broadcast Group

Article source: http://www.weartv.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wear_vid_16324.shtml

Saturday night’s pro wrestling show could benefit local clinic

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Tonight, the gym at the former Elizabeth City Middle School will be rocking as Coastal Real Extreme Wrestling puts on a fund-raiser for the Police Athletic League.

Fans will be screaming and pointing when former World Wrestling Entertainment stars with names like Justin Sane, Doink and Ax go at it in the pro wrestling card.

But Friday, in the same gym, a handful of kids were practicing a more restrained version of wrestling in a PAL-sponsored clinic that might not exist without fund-raisers like tonight’s show.

Johnny E. Jones, the wrestling coach at River Road Middle School and a former head coach at Northeastern, knows the over-the-top theatrics that typify professional wrestling are wildly popular with young wrestlers, especially beginners.

“A lot of times kids will want to go with what they’ve seen on TV,” he said. “We have to de-program them and show them it’s not about big muscles, but flexibility. It’s also about thinking.

“That stuff that happens on TV is totally different from what we do. That’s why they call it World Wrestling Entertainment.

“When they come in with those ideas, as coaches we try to show them that testosterone can be adjusted.”

At the clinic, which started this week and concludes next week, Jones and his staff are focusing on conditioning, basic drills and skill development.

“We learned how to shoot and take down and half nelsons and all that,” Jarrod Bryant said.

Jones said the goal of the clinic is to “bring back the strength of wrestling in Elizabeth City.

“We want to spike interest in the sport so that we become a power again, like Currituck,” he said.

While Currituck has won the last four Northeastern Coastal Conference championships, wrestling appears to be on the decline at the two city high schools. Pasquotank barely fielded half a squad last winter and Northeastern failed to qualify a single wrestler for the region tournament.

Compounding the situation is that both schools are seeking new coaches after Phil Mayo resigned at Pasquotank and David Sawyer at Northeastern.

Jones said he has been approached about the Northeastern job, but prefers to stay at River Road.

“I love teaching the basics at this level,” he said.

And that’s why Jones is running the PAL clinic.

Unfortunately, only a handful of wrestlers have shown up.

“We were hoping to get about 30-40 kids and break it into two sessions so we could accommodate parents’ work schedules, but the advertisement about the clinic came right at the end of the school year and a lot of parents may have already had other commitments,” Jones said. “Also, I think football practice going on now is also a factor.

“But we’re going to do what we can with this and try to have another one before the regular season starts.”

Meanwhile, Jones is grateful to the PAL for providing a facility for him to conduct the clinic.

“We wanted to do this three, four years ago, but there was no place to have it,” he said. “We’re thankful to be able to wrestle in an environment that is controlled.”

Article source: http://www.dailyadvance.com/sports/saturday-nightrsquos-pro-wrestling-show-could-benefit-local-clinic-551627

Professional wrestling returns to Troy this Saturday, and I return to …

Posted by Joe Wrestling on June 24, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Click for full size.

I’ve quit a lot of things in recent years – smoking, fried food, soda, what etcetera – and in all those cases I never looked back. But this Saturday, I’m going to revisit an unhealthy 0bsession I had previously sworn off.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to a live professional wrestling event. It’s certainly not for want of live shows, since WWE has made Albany a regular stop on its touring cycle throughout the various incarnations of WWE (formerly the WWF) and the Times Union Center (formerly the Pepsi Arena and the Knickerbocker Arena) respectively. Prior to an arena in downtown Albany, the WWF and NWA made regular stops at the RPI Fieldhouse, with documentation popping up on recent WWE DVD releases showing famed World Title matches from the same mid-size arena that houses Division 1 hockey. And before that, Moose Tilly terrorized the denizens of the Washington Avenue Armory.

Professional wrestling is a fascinating, compelling, and revolting creature. Over the decades it has gone through a strange metamorphosis, starting as a fake sport that claims it’s real to a fake sport that admits it’s fake to a fake sport that admits it’s fake, revels in it, but still gets defensive and insistent that it deserves more respect than it receives. Thirty years ago, a top-tier wrestler could compete well into his fifties and even sixties, still headlining with a balding crown at the top of his head without the live crowd and television audience crying out for a youthful revolt. Then came the 1980s and 1990s. Wrestlers were now working an inexplicably high impact style under the guise of entertaining fans, though the real reason was that it was an easy way to get the attention of the men backstage that determined their placement on a card and, subsequently, the size of their paycheck. Those wrestlers, trained by the men who competed into their sixties, are lucky if they live past 40.

The truth is that shock factor, risks, and violence never compelled me or anyone else to watch professional wrestling. Rather, it was the confluence of competition and entertainment that can only be achieved on the banks of pre-determined outcomes, all dammed by a sturdy suspension of disbelief. Although to some extent that old tradition is still present in the modern version of the product presented to an increasingly shrinking fanbase by Vince McMahon’s WWE, it has been swallowed up by an industry that has transformed into a grotesque caricature of itself. The career of a professional wrestler has always lived and died by their ability to put fans in their seats, to make them believe through talk and in-ring action that they had a chance to take the title from the hero or give the villain a valiant fight. With Vince McMahon at the helm, however, it became riddled with drug-addled bodybuilders, owing directly to McMahon’s personal preference (that at times seems like a latent homoerotic fixation) for large, well defined men.

Wrestling doesn’t need to be this way, but it is, and unfortunately it drove me and many others out.

The seeds for my departure were planted when professional wrestler Owen Hart, younger brother of wrestling legend Bret Hart and son of Calgary promoter and legend Stu Hart, plummeted to his death from the top of the Kemper Arena in Kansas City. It was then that I started to pick up on the less desirable aspects of the industry. In the mainstream, the accident opened the floodgates, with pundits pointing out accurately that the industry had gone too far and pushed the boundaries of escapism past the point of reason. Wrestling put its priorities in the wrong places and bred a culture of self-destruction and death, but when put on display, the industry and its supporters instead got defensive, put on blinders and started swinging wildly at any and all critics. Fans called critics old-fashioned while Vince McMahon swore at interviewer (and one-time guest WWF commentator) Bob Costas and put his finger his face in front of millions on HBO.

For me, however, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the day we found out Chris Benoit‘s absence from his planned bout on a pay-per-view event the night before was because he had murdered his wife and child before taking his own life.

Though there were many attempts to blame steroids as a singular contributor to what drove him over the edge, the truth is that there wasn’t a single cause that contributed to a man so revered by so many doing the unconscionable. It was, rather, a perfect storm of everything that was wrong with the industry. Here was a man who at 5’6″ drove his body past the point of reason with high impact stunts that gave him permanent brain damage that after being examined post-mortem was found to resemble an eight-year-old Alzheimer’s patient. This dangerous lifestyle was compounded by a daily drug regiment that rivaled all of the athletes involved in the BALCO scandals combined (Benoit’s doctor later went to prison and launched investigations into a Florida pharmaceutical companies) and an insular world view that dangerously narrowed the priorities of a man who already wasn’t the most stable mind in wrestling. There was, undoubtedly, a darkness in Chris Benoit that was there before professional wrestling. Nobody can commit such heinous acts on loved ones without first having it in them to do so. Unfortunately, it was fed and bloated by an industry that enables the worst aspects of human nature and discourages anything resembling self-preservation.

This week is the fourth anniversary of the murders, a fact that had completely escaped my attention until fellow Times Union blogger Chuck Miller wrote today of his own fandom and the effect Benoit’s death had on it. Unlike Chuck, I lingered for a bit longer, but the more I read the more disillusioned I became. The rash of deaths in the last two decades opened the industry up for inspection from journalists, scholarly writers, academics, and whistle-blowers. Even the autobiography of perennial pro wrestling apologist Bret Hart, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Pro Wrestling, confirmed what I already knew: the industry isn’t what it was and never would be, having been taken over and overwhelmed by men so delusional they themselves often couldn’t see the insanity behind what they did for a living.

Yet, there is still a part of me that holds out hope that someday the industry in its current form will eventually burn and the love I had for that form of entertainment as a youth – especially those programs on TBS that had the guys with the normal physiques that could talk real good and had you on the edge of your seat with a simple headlock – would rise from the ashes.

Which is why I’m attending  ”Conquest Pro Wrestling: RISE” at the Troy Boys Girls Club this Saturday, June 25th. I have a hope that these young men and women on the card love the same thing I love, rather than the violent death march that’s dominated the cable airwaves the last twenty years.

Of course there’s a chance I’ll be proven wrong and that I’ll see all the things that caused me to walk away in the first place. But $12, and a short commute to the venue, is a small price to pay for the chance to revisit something that was lost.


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Article source: http://blog.timesunion.com/marshall/professional-wrestling-returns-to-troy-this-saturday-and-i-return-to-professional-wrestling/5444/

The Case For The Classification Of Pro Wrestling

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Camel Clutch Blog

There are those in wrestling media and among wrestling fans who’ll have you believe that wrestling should be classified a sport. They cover wrestling as if it were MMA, and often times combine the two together in their comparisons as if the only difference between the two were the staged results.

Conversely, there are those in the industry and among fans who will swear to you that pro wrestling is completely and unequivocally theater or performance art. Chris Jericho is actually one of those people, oddly enough. They feel that there is nothing sporting about wrestling, mainly because of the staged nature of it.

So, which one is it, sport or theater? That’s a hard question to answer, and everyone’s got their own opinion, including myself. Unlike some of the extremes, I find the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Continue reading at Camel Clutch Blog →

Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-case-for-the-classification-of-pro-wrestling-2011-6

Alicia Fox Gives Wrestling a Diva “Smackdown”

Posted by Kari on June 23, 2011 under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Pound for pound, wrestler Alicia Fox is a bronze beauty of pure T.N.T. in the ring, armed with kicks and blows that keep opponents quaking in her wake. Since debuting on the World Wrestling Entertainment circuit in 2006, this 24-year-old athlete has proven she’s made of the the kick-butt stuff that has quickly launched her to superstar status amongst the new school of female stars in the ring.

 

Before becoming a “fox” for the WWE’s SmackDown brand, she was born Victoria Crawford and worked as a model. In real life, this poised, soft- spoken Florida native decided to marry her two life passions, acting and being a former tomboy, to fashion a career change into wrestling. Thus far, it’s been a marriage made in heaven.

 

Fox’s fans flock to see her agile athletic moves in the ring, which have injected new excitement into wrestling standbys like the Scissor Kick and Monkey Flip. And by simply joining the collective of African-American athletes in pro wrestling, it’s evident from her catwalk ring entrance to her classy, yet trash-talking victories that Fox exudes the unabashed bravado and power that transcends her sport.

Article source: http://www.bet.com/news/celebrities/2011/06/23/alicia-fox-gives-wrestling-a-diva-smackdown-.html

The Case for the Classification of Pro Wrestling

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Camel Clutch Blog

A Unique and Beautiful Beast: The Case for the Classification of Pro Wrestling

There are those in wrestling media and among wrestling fans who’ll have you believe that wrestling should be classified a sport. They cover wrestling as if it were MMA, and often times combine the two together in their comparisons as if the only difference between the two were the staged results.

Conversely, there are those in the industry and among fans who will swear to you that pro wrestling is completely and unequivocally theater or performance art. Chris Jericho is actually one of those people, oddly enough. They feel that there is nothing sporting about wrestling, mainly because of the staged nature of it.

So, which one is it, sport or theater? That’s a hard question to answer, and everyone’s got their own opinion, including myself. Unlike some of the extremes, I find the answer is somewhere in the middle.

Continue reading at Camel Clutch Blog →

Article source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-case-for-the-classification-of-pro-wrestling-2011-6

The day my love for professional wrestling died

Posted by Joe Wrestling on under FUW News | Comments are off for this article

Four years ago this week, my love for professional wrestling was silenced.

I grew up with a very healthy appreciation for the sport of professional wrestling.  Yes, I know it’s about as scripted as an episode of The Bachelorette, and yes I know that the matches are predetermined 98.3% of the time, but for me it was always the excitement of seeing the good guys – the faces – the heroes – winning against all odds and defeating the heels – the bad guys – the villains.  Who didn’t cheer the day Bruno Sammartino finally defeated Larry Zbyszko in the steel cage match at Shea Stadium?  Or the time when “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat battled to one of the greatest matches ever in Wrestlemania III?

My love for professional wrestling survived many challenges.  I watched it in college – sometimes there were WWF matches at the Clinton Arena, and it was amazing sight to see one of the college drama professors sitting in the front row of the match, screaming and cheering as then-WWF champion Bob Backlund completely destroyed Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.  In the 1990′s, I would have “Monday Night Wrestling” parties over at my house, where I and some of Vicki’s friends and cousins would order pizza and watch WCW Monday Nitro and then – thanks to a working VCR – watch WWF Monday Night Raw.

I kept watching pro wrestling – even the times when the independent shows played in Schenectady at the IUE Hall.  I still remember a match at the IUE Hall between King Kong Bundy and Primo Carnera III.  It was supposed to be a “best two out of three falls” match, but after Bundy jumped off the second rope for a kneedrop, the force of the 500-pound behemoth hitting the ring mat actually snapped one of the bottom ring supports, and the mat sagged under the collapse.  No, the ring wasn’t gimmicked – it just broke.  Great stuff.

I kept watching pro wrestling – and, over time, I interviewed several professional wrestlers for magazine articles.  Bret “Hitman” Hart was a willing participant in an interview for Hockey Digest, where we talked about his ownership of a junior hockey team.  Chris Jericho discussed his metal band Fozzy as part of an interview for the music magazine Goldmine.  RoadKing magazine featured one of my articles about wrestling reunion fanfests, in which I interviewed, among other stars, Mick Foley and Bruno Sammartino.  And Toy Collector Magazine was the beneficiary of an article I wrote on professional wrestling action figures – and yes, I spoke with everyone from Luna Vachon to Ted DiBiase Sr. to Tammy Sytch.

Even through all that, I started to lose faith in pro wrestling.  I was in shock when, in 1999, Owen Hart died in a freak accident at a pay-per-view event.  I was stunned when I heard that the Modern-Day Warrior, Kerry Von Erich, took his own life.  And just recently, I was brought to reflection at the sudden loss of Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

But all those events pale to the tragedy of June 24, 2007.

On that sad and fateful day, we learned that professional wrestler Chris Benoit, one of the most gifted and talented pound-for-pound athletes in the sport, was dead – along with his wife Nancy, and their son Daniel.

At first, the news reports flooded the wrestling message boards and websites – that Chris Benoit and his family were dead.  We didn’t know why.  We didn’t know how.  Was there a home invasion?  Was the Benoit family marked for some sinister murder plot?  Was there a fire, a carbon monoxide leak, or was this – and I shudder to think at the time – some swerve by the WWE as part of some complicated-but-eventually-forgotten wrestling plotline?  We all wanted to know – what happened?

And the next day, on the WWE’s flagship program Monday Night Raw, we heard that the three bodies were found in the Benoit family home in Georgia.  And the hosts of Monday Night Raw and the wrestlers of the WWE talked about their memories of Benoit and what a great person he was.  I saw these tribute shows on Monday Night Raw before.  The day Brian Pillman’s heart gave out.  The day Owen Hart fell from the roof of Kemper Arena to his death.  And the day after Eddy Guerrero breathed his last.  The shows were tributes to men who achieved success against all possible odds.

Such was the case with Chris Benoit.  This was one of the early “high-flyers”, the Wild Pegasus who apprenticed with the legendary Dynamite Kid.  He was the “Canadian Crippler,” a man who helped rewrite the cruiserweight division in WCW – and it was he, along with Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn and Eddy Guerrero, that defected from WCW and joined the WWE as four of the top free agents in the sport.

This was a man who, when he held a championship title – whether it was the “Big Gold Belt” of WCW or the gleaming waist trophy of WWE – held it with pride and with respect.  You could tell that he earned every victory and he savored every win.  If you beat Chris Benoit, you were better than him on that day – but those days were rare and few and far between.  One wrong move and he would shatter your shoulders with rolling German suplexes.  And at the last minute, even if you thought you had Benoit beaten, he could sneak up behind you and slap you into the Crippler Crossface – a submission move that bent your neck one way and your arms and legs the other.

And then, slowly, suddenly, and sadly, the tide changed.  It changed when the first reports appeared that it was Chris Benoit himself that murdered his wife and child.  And then the next report, when he took his own life.  Some of the reports painted Benoit in a much darker light – that he and Nancy had many fights, that he killed Nancy – and then may have killed Daniel by smothering him or putting his boy in the Crippler Crossface – and then, trying to drown his anger and his grief, he took the cables from a barbell pulley machine and hung himself.

It was later reported that after the autopsy, samples of Benoit’s brain were sent for study – based on a theory by former WWE wrestler and current brain specialist Christopher Nowinski – that Benoit’s brain had suffered thousands of concussions and head traumas over the years, causing considerable damage to his brain.  It’s the sad situation we saw with Muhammad Ali, where the once razor-sharp mind of a professional prizefighter now battles fight-induced Parkinson’s syndrome.  Or the sad situation with some professional football players who still spend each morning hoping that today the pain in their heads and the ringing in their ears will be softer for just a few seconds.

We will never know the reasons for what happened that day.  Never.  All we will know is the aftermath.  Three lives cut down.  A hundred fingers pointing in a thousand directions, each one hoping that the correct point will solve the mystery, identify the reasons.  And why?  Will the answer bring Chris Benoit and his family back to life?  No, not any sooner than confirming that Lee Harvey Oswald acted solely and of his own volition would bring John F. Kennedy back to life.

But that day killed any desire for me to continue following professional wrestling.  Don’t get me wrong; once in a while I check an online “dirt sheet” and remark that I can’t identify half the lineups on the WWE rosters.  And that some of the wrestlers – Chris Jericho, Trish Stratus, the Rock – survived the 300 dates a year and millions of miles of travel and aches and pains and injuries and ruptures, continuing on and on like a treadmill to oblivion – and are now in other entertainment fields that don’t require taking a turnbuckle into the face.

Four years ago this week.  And it still feels painful and brutal today as it did four years ago.


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Article source: http://blog.timesunion.com/chuckmiller/the-day-my-love-for-professional-wrestling-died/8593/