AS I SEE IT - 11/30/2002:
Jeff Peterson 1981-2002
by: Bob Magee
Jim Kettner's ECWA announced on their website this morning that ECWA and northeast indy wrestler Jeff Peterson, who has battled lymphoma since April 2000; finally lost his battle yesterday, November 29th.
"Hero. A four letter word rarely used to its proper context in today's world full of chaos and turmoil. What characteristics does a true hero possess? Strength, perhaps? Courage in the face of severe adversity. The ability to put on a smile though the heart is aching. In this life, and more particularly in the East Coast Wrestling Association, a young man of eighteen years is the obvious choice. Since he was a toddler, all Jeffrey Peterson ever wanted to do was wrestle, nothing more and nothing less. Nearly three years ago, his uncle and ECWA promoter Jim Kettner awarded him to opportunity to live a dream.
On March 21, 1998, WrestleTech's first student, 'All-American' Jeff Peterson made his pro-wrestling debut. The then-sixteen year old was a picture of charisma, a true underdog who had overcome the odds to achieve his goals. On February 27 of the following year, Jeff was allotted the chance to live another dream, wrestling in the annual Super 8 tournament.
On that very night, Peterson wrestled Christopher Daniels in a match that will forever be remembered by many as the greatest in tournament history. Young Jeffrey Peterson had once again defied the odds. It was his turn to bask in the spotlight.
One year later, he did it again, battling Florida independent star Jet Jaguar in a classic, high-flying game of chess. It would be his last match in the ECWA, at least for the time being. A month later, Jeffrey was dealt a curve ball that a normal teenager would get caught looking at, to borrow a line from baseball. But not Jeff, not now, not ever. Jeff Peterson was diagnosed with cancer. Months passed with Jeff receiving treatment after treatment and going in and out of the hospital in his home state of Florida.
Emotions were at an all-time high when the 'All-American' made his triumphant return to the ECWA on July 22. Another superstar fans rightfully call a hero, Cheetah Master, declared that one man whose dreams could not be denied was Jeff Peterson. Jim Kettner agreed, thus setting the entire East Coast Wrestling Association on the 'road to the Bob.' Jeff Peterson, tears in his eyes, embraced his uncle as the entire locker room surrounded the ring, pounding the mat to 'Jeffrey, Jeffrey' chants in the ultimate show of unity and team spirit. Jeff is fighting his horrible illness with dignity and unheard of bravery. He has spat in the face of adversity. Jeff Peterson is a hero of the heart."
His last actual wrestling appearance was on the April 6, 2002 ECWA show, working Ruffhouse Rivera. It appeared he had beaten cancer, as it was announced that his cancer was in remission.
Seldom was I happier to go to an independent show than I was on April 6th, then, to see Jeff in the ring. As I said in the April 9, 2002 AS I SEE IT:
"...The lineup wasn't a blow-away lineup....it was pretty much a typical lineup for an ECWA show.
There weren't any new workers I hadn't seen before, and was anticipating seeing like I had the month before...and there weren't any ***** matches on it as there had been at the promotion's annual Super 8 show the month before.
Still, I came home very, very happy that I was there.
Jeff made his comeback on that April 6th show and worked a match with heel Ruffhouse Rivera. The match won't make any Dave Meltzer Match of the Year list. Rob Feinstein and his RF Video won't sell tons of the tape of the show, as he has of the 2002 Super 8 from the month before...except perhaps to the ECWA regulars and to the people who know Jeff Peterson.
But the show was far more important than the far more ballyhooed (and deservedly so) show of the month before....because a gusty young man came back from the worst killers of all... cancer; and has returned to live out his dream of being part of the business he's loved since childhood....professional wrestling.
Far more important than a ***** match, a good buy-rates or a TV ratings, a courageous young man got to live on and keep living his dream.
That's why I was happy to go to St. Matthews Parish Center on April 6th."
Peterson was last seen by wrestling fans on a tape airing at the July 20, 2002 ECWA show via videotape on the promotion's video screen, airing to the audience at St. Matthew's Parish Center.
Sadly, the cancer returned just two months later, and with Jeff continuing to battle it until his passing yesterday.
My favorite thought on Jeff Peterson comes from one night back in 1999 at an ECWA show down at their homebase of St. Matthew's in Newport, Delaware. It was at the end of another of the traditional heel-babyface matches Kettner favors. As the end of this tag team match approached, my younger brother and I played armchair booker and tried to guess the finish. Then, one heel stood on the apron holding one of the babyfaces with his arms pinned waiting for the inevitable punch; so we said out loud "rollup, or...".
Immediately behind us, chirped this voice (in a carny stage whisper) "skiz-ool-biz-oy", with a grin on his face. It was Peterson, who was back in the crowd being a fan, after he'd already worked earlier in the evening.
PWBTS, all its reporters and columnists send their sympathies out to the Peterson family, Jim Kettner and the ECWA locker room, the friends, and the fans of Jeff Peterson.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)