AS I SEE IT 5/08/2001
This week's column is earlier in the week than normal, for reasons that will be
obvious upon reading it.
Many longtime readers know that I've mentioned the late WCW referee Brian "Mark Curtis" Hildebrand often in this column. Brian was a good friend who was responsible for two of the most special experiences of my life, Fanweek 1993 and 1994. For those who aren't familiar with them, SMW Fanweek was held every summer from 1993 through 1995. It was made up of a traveling road show, combined with barbecues, Q&As, and marathon videotape parties; with fans flying or doing all night bus rides into Knoxville from as far away as Japan.
Brian was the reason those yearly celebrations were possible, because of his non-stop organizational work during the weeks leading up to the events; and during the moment to moment problems that occur when one is trying to please 55 human beings and Jim Cornette, AND work as referee 'Mark Curtis' all at the same time.
Brian always did this with such unfailing patience and good humor. He never forgot to be a fan of the very business he worked in until literally his dying day....to a degree that defied the imagination of those who consider ourselves bigtime fans, as well as those he worked with. Thats the reason Brian always used the word 'Mark' in his ring name.
Brian served as an example to those in, around, and out of the wrestling business with the way he fought cancer for over a year before his passing in September 1999. He refused to allow cancer to stop his incredible spirit and his wonderful sense of humor. All of these together are the reason he is remembered so fondly by so many people.
This column features two items regarding events celebrating his memory, one showing the pettiness of corporate America, and one showing the wrestling business at its best.
First, the corporate pettiness.
It was reported in the Wrestling Observer this week that Ric Flair was told that he will not be permitted by AOL/Time-Warner to take part in the Brian Pillman Memorial 2001 or the Mark Curtis Fantasy Camp associated with it this August. One would also assume that this also means that anyone still under Time-Warner contract will be barred from the events as well, including Kevin Nash and Shane Douglas who have taken part in them in past years.
Now before you say the obvious...well, the wrestlers are getting their contracts paid off, so Time-Warner has the right to do whatever they want...keep this in mind...this is a charity event honoring the memory of two remarkable talents and human beings.
On the AOL/Time-Warner website, you can read many thoughtful statements about the charitable efforts of AOL Time Warner subsidiaries and hear about how great a corporate citizen AOL believes itself to be.
Given AOL/Time-Warner's size, the fact of the matter is that AOL/Time-Warner likely blows more money on hors d'oeuvres for its yearly Christmas parties than the two events honoring Brian Hildebrand will raise this year.
AOL/Time-Warner didn't want WCW as a part of its giant conglomerate. Further, AOL/Time-Warner didn't even inform WCW's employees as to what was going on during the last days of the sale, then threw them out the door without even allowing them time to say goodbye. Yet this corporate conglomerate has the consummate gall to make decisions about whether or not Ric Flair can honor his friend.
It should be clear that no corporate harm would come to AOL/Time-Warner from allowing Ric Flair and others to honor their friend. So let someone reading this from AOL/Time-Warner explain their reasoning for these actions in some language resembling English, and with something resembling common sense, let alone a heart.
I'm not holding my breath waiting for an answer.
For those of you that do have something resembling compassion, and are interested in the Mark Curtis Fantasy Camp and Pillman 2001 events, (which will take place on Wednesday August 8th, and Thursday, August 9th); go to here for Pillman 2001, or here for the Mark Curtis Fantasy Camp 2001.
I'll be providing updated news on Pillman 2001 on the website you're reading this column on as we approach August.
Also, if you have a minute, send a little note to AOL/Time-Warner and let them know what you think about they're doing, via their feedback page.
Now for the business at its best...
As they did last year, Southern States Wrestling is sponsoring its annual "Mark Curtis Memorial Weekend of Champions" in honor of Brian Hildebrand, in conjunction along with its third annual "Kingsport Hall of Fame and Legends Reunion" on May 11th and May 12th. Brian worked a shows for SSW only days before his death.
The weekend of events begins this Friday, May 11, with a big night of wrestling in Johnson City, TN at The Central Elementary School with two title matches, a double main event and more. Proceeds will benefit the school.
Then, on Saturday, May 12th, events move to the Kingsport, TN National Guard Armory for a Fan Fair and the "Kingsport Hall of Fame and Legends Reunion" show, as well as a dinner with a number of Southern wrestling legends.
From 12:00 noon until 4:00 pm on Many 12 will be a Fan Fair, where fans can meet the stars of Southern States Wrestling and wrestling legends, visit the many vendor tables and find those hard to find wrestling items.
At 5:00 PM, there will be a meal with many Southern wrestling legends for Golden Circle Ticket Holders.
Already confirmed to appear are NWA Referee Ron West, former NWA World Tag Champion and SMW executive Sandy Scott, former NWA Southern Tag Champion Jim White, Nancy Caldwell (widow of legend Whitey Caldwell), Jodie Bass (widow of Sam Bass), former NWA Southern and Tennessee Tag Champ Don Wright, former ICW Star Hoot Gibson, and many others.
Then, at 8:00 pm, is The Night of Champions and Hall of Fame induction event.
Here is the full card:
* The main event will be a Steel Cage/Loser Leave Town Match with SSW Tag Champions Brad and Bart Batten (with Scotty Ace) vs. "Handsome" Beau James & K.C. Thunder.
* In a grudge match, Tracy Smothers takes on "Rock-n-Roll" Ricky Harrison.
* For the Southern States Wrestling Title, Champion Brian Overbay vs. Former NWA Mid America Champion Tony Falk.
* In a "Challenge Match", former NWA Southern/Mid American/National Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel joins former UWF/NWA TV Champion/National Champion Terry Taylor to take on former UWF Tag and US Junior Champion "White Lightnin' " Tim Horner and former USWA Tag Champion Cody Michaels.
* For the Nationwide Championship belt, Champ Bull Pain takes on Mid-America Champ Todd Morton.
* In a "Legends Match", Don Wright and Wayne Rogers go against "Indian"Harry Fisher and Hoot Gibson
* For the Appalachian Title, champion Porkchop Thomas challenges Bryan Wayne
* A "Young Guns" Battle Royal will be held with the winner getting a Title Shot at Young Guns Champion Allen King.
Proceeds will benefit the Children's Miracle Network.
Tickets are on sale at Cat's CD and Tapes on Fort Henry Drive in Kingsport.
Gold Circle tickets (which give you seating in the first two rows, a ticket to the Fan Fair, and a ticket to the evening Legends meal) are $12 in advance, or $15 the day of the event.
General Admission tickets are $7 in advance, or $8 the day of the event, with all kids tickets $6.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)