AS I SEE IT - 1/21/2000
by: Bob Magee
A welcome to Innovators of Wrestling, and Wrestling Cavern who
have picked up the AS I SEE IT column this week.
One PWBTS related plug as well: PWBTS has invited long time wrestling insider Bob Barnett to join us in the PWBTS Chatroom on Thursday, February 10th (corrected date), at 8:00 PM EST. Besides being an well-known Internet wrestling insider and Japanese Wrestling tape dealer, Bob Barnett is Vampiro's agent.
Judging by the recent happenings in World Championship Wrestling, there is no doubt that he will have the insight on that issue and much much more.
To join us in the chatroom:
#IRC: Connect to server: evilspeak.com port 6667 - Channel #PWBTS
JAVA: Go to http://www.infinity-irc.org/javachat.html. From there, type in your nick (where Guest is), and make sure the channel is set on #PWBTS. The rest of the info is already set.
I will join PWBTS writers, Ryan Boyd, and Matt McCormick in the chatroom. We hope to see you there.
Now for this week's column...
You've done it. Admit it.
You and your friends go to a wrestling show, whether WCW, WWF, ECW, or an independent promotion that runs shows near you. Two workers are in the ring, and someone blows a spot.
Suddenly it comes out of you... "You f&@%ed up...you f&@%ed up".
You don't even think twice about it. After all, it's just two guys in a wrestling ring.
Now let me take you to the night of January 14th at a small Catholic school in Paulsboro, New Jersey. NWA New Millennium Wrestling, a group that runs monthly shows with local independent workers and wrestling school students was running its regular monthly show. The match in the ring was Dave Mysterio versus "Primo" Robby Marino.
Dave "Mysterio" Guinip is a local independent worker has a scary resemblance to Rey Misterio, Jr. The same height. The same look. So much so that he couldn't convince a waitress at a restaurant after the Eddie Gilbert Memorial Brawl this past year that he WASN'T Rey Misterio, Jr. The path to him using the "Mysterio" gimmick all started when he worked as ring announcer for Combat Zone Wrestling. Because of the physical resemblance, the crowds there chanted "Rey-Rey" and "Hootie Hoo" at him non-stop, and the "Dave Mysterio" gimmick was born.
"Primo" Robby Marino appears in various Northeast independents as part of a tag team called the Kashmarino Brothers. It's a hilarious comic heel gimmick that's caught on in various independent promotions.
"Mysterio" and Marino have worked a program for the New Millennum promotion's junior heavyweight belt. They were working a match at Friday night's NMW show when Marino did a routine plancha at Mysterio, who would then block the fall. Just like lots of other planchas.
Except for one small problem.
Marino's foot tipped the top rope. He then hit the floor headfirst with a sickening thud.
When I saw it, it almost seemed to happen in slow motion. It reminded me of what I'd heard about the fall of independent worker Lupus, who has worked as part of the Northeast-based Misfits tag team of Harley Lewis (and previously Derek Domino), and very briefly with ECW alongside Raven. Lupus's fall occurred back in November 1999 at an NWA-NJ show where he did a diving spot off of a ladder to the floor, and clipped the top rope with his foot. Lupus wound up with a concussion, and a broken wrist. But the fall was bad enough that one of the NWA-NJ workers said to someone who called him about it that "Lupus dodged the bullet". I don't need to tell you what he meant.
Marino hit the ground headfirst the same way Friday night, with blood everywhere, enough that it had to actually be mopped up later. The locker room emptied and the crowd was stunned. Dave Mysterio stood there outside the ring looking helpless and distraught, basically having to be dragged to the back.
"Mysterio" hadn't been at fault, as he had been standing where he should have been for where Marino should have traveled with the spot. He had to
watch it happen right in front of him.
I watched, hoping to see something positive. First I saw Marino moving his hands, then his arms, then his legs, talking to those helping him at ringside. EMTs came and performed precautionary bracing of his neck and head as they stuck him on a body board.
As this happened, Marino had enough presence of mind to call a local photographer over to take a picture, staying perfectly in character and shooting the photographer the finger... more or less as a signal to tell everyone he was OK. The show resumed, and continued to its conclusion. But people certainly has Marino on their minds for the rest of the evening.
Marino was lucky. There was apparently no concussion, but he did wind up with 20 stitches to sew up the gash in his head from the fall. He then left the hospital after about two hours.
I hope I've communicated how frightening this was to see in person. As I've said repeatedly, I'm lucky enough to know a number of people within wrestling. When an in-ring accident happens like that, I don't and can't react just as if this is another piece of meat performing in the ring as some fans seem to do.
The degree of risk that these performers undertake on a nightly basis for those watching them can be incredible. More of who sit in the seats and watch the performance in front of you, need to understand that fact and remember to appreciate it. Next time someone blows a spot...or if a match isn't what you think it should be... next time you start to chant "You f&@%ed up...you f&@%ed up"...
Think of Darren Drozdov being paralyzed as the result of a routine spot.
Think about Steve Austin's surgery this week (fortunately an apparent success), at least partially the result of a routine piledriver from the late Owen Hart.
Think about All-Japan star Gary Albright dying in the ring from a heart attack at a WXW show, because he wanted to work despite chronic problems
with diabetes, and because he loved the business and wanted to help out his father-in-law with a weekend of shows in his World Extreme Wrestling promotion based in upstate Pennsylvania.
Or think about the stories you read about wrestlers who develop addictions to somas or other painkilling drugs, in order to deal with the physical pain
of working night in and night out...the pain of being away from families...the pain of not having a normal life.
Think of those who died (directly or otherwise) as a result of that drug use: Jay Youngblood, Rick McGraw, David (Von Erich) Adkisson, Mike Adkisson, Chris Adkisson, Kerry Adkisson, Buzz Sawyer, Eddie Gilbert, Art Barr, Brian Pillman, Louie Spicolli, Rick Rude, and more...
As I said in last week's AS I SEE IT column, try to understand what it took for the workers to get to where they are. Understand what they do for your entertainment. Understand the physical, personal, and emotional price they pay for being part of the unique business called professional wrestling.
Jackson Browne and Bryan Garofalo's 1977 song "The Load-Out" tells the story of the road... about what performers feel as they travel from town to town, night after night. They may have been writing about the loneliness of two rock musicians, but many of those words ring even more true about the journeys of those you see on Wrestlemanias and at spot shows at a junior high school gymnasium, whether for six-figure guaranteed contracts or for $10 a night.
Read the words of their song, and perhaps you'll understand.
Until next time...
"Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and last to leave.
Working for that minimum wage
They'll set it up in another town
Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet, they made the show
And that was sweet--
But I can hear the sound of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that's a sound they'll never know
But the band's on the bus
And they're waiting to go
We've got to drive all night and do a show
In Chicago or Detroit, I don't know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
and wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came
People you've got the power over what we do
You can sit there and wait
Or you can pull us through
Come along, sing the song
You know you can't go wrong
'Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You're going to wake up in your town
But we'll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here"
"The Load-Out", Jackson Browne and Bryan Garofalo, (c) 1977 Swallow Music and Gianni Music
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)