AS I SEE IT - 6/30/2003:
by: Bob Magee
As I usually do when each July 4th approaches, I make mention in AS I SEE IT of former WWF referee Joey
Marella, who died in an automobile accident on July 4, 1994 that occurred while he was returning from a WWF show the night before in Ocean City, MD.
It's also in keeping with the theme of a number of my columns regarding the need to remember the human cost to those who perform for us.
This weekend featured another such reminder of life's importance, as one of the more notable American independent promotions featured experiences of both birth and
death... and of the need to celebrate life even after death, as ROH wrestler Danny Lopez (aka Maffia of the Hit Squad/Danny
Maff) lost his father Rufrio after an extended illness. In what had to be a surprise to many, Lopez chose to work his scheduled booking with Samoa Joe for Ring of Honor in Philadelphia. Lopez felt that he wanted to be around his friends and celebrate his father's life through his work. On that same evening, Tom (Reckless Youth) Carter was forced to miss the very same show as his wife went into labor the night before.
It's a reminder that no matter what anyone says, that there are far more important things then whether HHH keeps getting pushed by his wife and soon-to-be
father-in-law... most especially the preciousness of life itself.
So again this year, here's my AS I SEE IT from July 4, 1999, in remembrance of Joey:
"Looking back on the memory of...
The dance we shared...
'neath the stars alone...
For a moment...
all the world was right...
How could I have known...
that you'd ever say goodbye...
The Dance, (Garth Brooks and Tony Arata, 1989)
Every July 4th, most people remember the holiday for fireworks, barbecues, and patriotic speeches. But some of us remember it each year for different reasons.
I remember July 4, 1994 all too well. I was sitting down, eating lunch, getting ready to watch an early round World Cup soccer game when the phone rang...two friends, one of whom was a ECW referee; had left messages on my phone within five minutes, but I didn't think anything of it.
Then the phone rang again. I finally picked it up, realizing something had to be wrong. I heard the agonized voice of a friend over the line... I could make out about every third word being said. Gradually, I pieced together the news.
Joey Marella had been killed in an automobile accident while returning from a WWF show in Ocean City, MD the previous evening. Joey had fallen asleep at the wheel on the New Jersey Turnpike; and was involved in a one car accident together with Bruno "Harvey
Whippleman" Lauer. Joey wasn't wearing a seat belt, and was killed, only miles from the Marella family home in Willingboro, NJ.
Only hours before, my friend had been with Joey and friends after the show...they'd tried to get him to crash with them up in Baltimore, but Joey told them he had to get going, up to Newark Airport. The person was on the phone going through horrible, but unnecessary, guilt for somehow not making Joey come to Baltimore with them.
For many readers of this column who might not have been around back then, Joey Marella was a WWF referee who worked many high-profile WWF matches during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Joey's career highlights include PPV main events, such as the legendary Hogan-Andre the Giant match at WrestleMania III from the Pontiac Silverdome in March 1987, Ric Flair's first WWF title win at Royal Rumble 1992, Bret Hart-Davey Boy Smith at Summer Slam 1992 from London's Wembley Stadium, and Owen Hart-Razor Ramon in the final match at King of the Ring 1994 from Baltimore. He also worked many high profile WWF TV events, including the NBC and Fox Saturday Night Main Event shows, and the 1993 debut of Monday Night RAW. Joey even made a brief appearance as himself in the Hulk Hogan movie "No Holds Barred".
Aside from the ring, some readers may even know he was the adopted son of Robert (Gorilla Monsoon)
Marella. This led to a running inside joke on WWF TV of Monsoon telling viewers how "horrible" that referee Joey Marella was, each time Joey "missed" heel interference in a match.
But some of us knew another side to Joey.
Joey Marella was a "big brother" to many within the wrestling business, particularly the World Wrestling Federation. He was always there with a shoulder to lean on, or with time to listen to those who needed it. Joey was loved by many, including a friend of mine who was quite close to him, who's kept a special place in her heart for him to this
day... the same friend of mine I told you about earlier.
I knew Joey through this friend, so on that July 4th, the feelings weren't from the death of someone distant. They were strong and deeply personal. Joey's loss was felt deeply by many in and out of the World Wrestling Federation. The loss is still felt deeply to this day.
As one example, WWF ring announcer Tony Chimel (the announcer on Smackdown and house shows) named his newest son after his friend (and Godfather to his other two children) Joey
Marella. Some would argue young Joey Chimel is just as mischievous as his namesake. One hopes he's half as good a person.
On this upcoming July 4th holiday, please keep a special place in your thoughts for Joey
Marella, who left this world at the age of 31. Keep also in your thoughts those others who left wrestling far richer for having been a part of it, yet poorer for having left the business and their loved ones too soon, including Owen Hart, Rick (Renegade) Wilson, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, Art Barr, Brian Pillman, Louie
Spicolli, Sylvester Ritter, Jay Youngblood, Rick McGraw, David, Mike and Chris (Von Erich)
Adkisson, and Buzz Sawyer.
Finally, on this upcoming July 4th weekend, I'll repeat the motto I leave you with frequently: Be sure to treasure those in your own lives... for we are never promised tomorrow.
"And now, I'm glad I didn't know...
The way it all would end...
The way it all would go...
Our lives are better left to chance...
I could have missed the pain...
But I'd of had to miss the dance..."
There are far too many within wrestling that have left this world too soon since that list was compiled in July 1999: Elizabeth "Miss Elizabeth"
Hulette, "Bruiser" Brian Cox, Kodo Fuyuki, "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, Naoto
Morishita, Yukon Braxton, "All American" Jeff Peterson, Billy Travis, Davey Boy Smith, Shoichi Arai, Randy "Pee Wee" Anderson, Dave Casanova, Jeff "Rattlesnake"
Raitz, Russ Haas, Rhonda Singh, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, Masakazu Fukuda, Bobby Duncum Jr., Gary Albright, Tony Rumble, Brian "Mark Curtis" Hildebrand, Jackie Sato, Alex "Big Dick Dudley" Rizzo, Dave Casanova, Chris Adams, Mike Davis, Gary Albright, Jumbo
Tsuruta, Rick Rude, and Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoai, just to name a very few. (Ed.
- also "Classy" Freddie Blassie).
Take a minute to say a prayer for or give a thought to those, and all within wrestling who've left us too soon as you approach this holiday weekend; and remember to see human beings, and not just anonymous performers when you watch RAW, Smackdown, weekend and syndicated
shows... or your local independent promotion... because some of those performers were and are remarkable human beings.
Some who were more remarkable that most... like Joey Marella.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)