AS I SEE IT - 10/31/2001
Most if not all of you have read about what happened last week to Eiji
(Hayabusa) Ezaki, who suffered a broken neck as the result of an accident when he
attempted to do a routine lionsault. He is currently paralyzed from at least the waist
down, but has regained some feeling and movement in his upper body.
Many puroresu fans worldwide expressed their feelings of sadness that this talented worker might never walk again, let alone perform his magic in the ring.
After this incident, I was reminded of a column I wrote in January 2000 about two independent workers.... known by far less people, Robby Mireno and Lupus, and the frightening incidents that occurred as the result of routine spots at two New Jersey independent shows; one of which I saw in person, but both of which were frightening:
"....You've done it. Admit it.
You and your friends go to a wrestling show. 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, 2000, at a small Catholic school in Paulsboro, New Jersey. 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.
"Primo" Robby Marino works in various Northeast independents as part of a tag team called the Kashmarino Brothers, a hilarious comic heel gimmick that's caught on in various independent promotions. He was working Dave "Mysterio" Guinip (a dead ringer for the real thing).
"Mysterio" and Marino worked a program for the New Millennum promotion's junior heavyweight belt. They were working a match at a New Jersey independent show when Marino did a routine plancha at Mysterio, who would then block the fall...just like with lots of other times.
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. 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."
While there was no permanent injury from that night, Robby Marino hasn't worked regularly since. He has an on-camera "Vice President" role on CZW television, but hasn't been in the ring.
Lupus worked perhaps once or twice after his injury, but has retired due to his injuries.
It's long past the time that fans understand the degree of risk that these performers undertake on a nightly basis....not just the internationally famous like Hayabusa. More fans need to understand that risk and remember to appreciate what's done on their behalf by whoever is doing it.
When you let loose with that "you f&@%ed up" chant, think about:
Hayabusa laying in a rehabilitation facility in Japan, able to move only his upper body at best.
Darren Drozdov being paralyzed as the result of a routine spot with D-Lo Brown.
Steve Austin's near-career ending surgery neck surgery that resulted from a routine piledriver from the late Owen Hart.
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.
Then think about the two independent workers that I spoke of earlier, who are only known by a comparative few of us independent wrestling fans in the Northeast.
Then don't forget to think about the stories you read about wrestlers all around the business who develop addictions to alcohol, or 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.
It's important that you understand what it took for the workers to get to where they are; and to understand what they do for your entertainment. But it's even more important for you to understand the physical, personal, and emotional price they pay for being part of the unique artform called professional wrestling.
Remember those who died directly or indirectly as a result of drug and alcohol use to combat the demons that were a part of that price: 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, Terry Gordy, and Chris Adams...
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.
That song told the story of the loneliness of two rock musicians. But when I've heard it, it reminds me just as much, if not more, of 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:
"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
Along with appreciating those who perform in the ring, take a moment and
appreciate the real-life heroes and victims of September 11, and to give them your help in
the following ways:
IWA Mid-South Wrestling will be holding its final show of a series of special Wednesday night benefits tonight for the Fire Department of New York Scholarship Fund. The shows will be held at the regular IWA venue, the IWA House of Hardcore in Charlestown, Indiana. For further information on these shows, you can go to the IWA Mid-South Wrestling website here.
Those in the Keansburg area (in Monmouth County, New Jersey) can attend a wrestling show on November 3rd, at Keansburg High School sponsored by NWA-Jersey in association with the Keansburg Police and Fire Departments. It is designed to benefit the agencies involved with aiding the victims of the World Trade Center disaster.
Tickets are available by calling (732) 888-1704. Golden Ringside tickets are $18.00, Ringside tickets are $16.00 and General Admission are $13.00. You can also get more info about the show here.
A joint benefit show of New England independent promotions, with talent from NWA-New England, Chaotic Wrestling, Yankee Pro Wrestling, Southcoast Wrestling, Primal Conflict Wrestling will be held on November 18 at the Elks Hall in Billerica, MA with a 4:00 pm belltime.
100% of the proceeds are to go to the American Red Cross. For information on this show, you can go to their official site here.
The All American Wrestling Alliance, in cooperation with the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association (POBA) will be holding a benefit show on November 30 at Jersey City's National Guard Armory.
The promoters of this event are not keeping any profit, meaning every dime above the normal show expenses (insurance, building rental, workers pay) is going directly to benefit the Widows and Children's funds of the NYPD, FDNY and Port Authority Police Department.
For information, call the Jersey City POBA at (201) 963-3484, or call(856) 435-8002.
Combat Zone Wrestling has designed a special t-shirt, with proceeds going to the September 11th relief effort. You can purchase this t-shirt at CZW events, call (856) 848-5070, or contact CZW at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who prefer to donate directly to charitable organizations:
You can go to any one of the many organizations listed at Helping.org.
You can donate directly to the September 11th Fund, administered by the New York United Way via this URL.
You can donate to the New York City Police Foundation Heroes Fund, the officially recognized charitable organization of the NYPD via this URL.
You can donate to the New York Firefighters 9-11 Disaster Relief Fund, administered by the International Association of Fire Fighters via this URL.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)