View Full Version : [KOTC: R2] Cowabunga

02-16-2019, 10:57 AM

I could have sworn Mark Henry ripped off that steel cage door in a matter of seconds in late 2005. Marching down to the ring with Daivari by his side, intensity written all over his face and charging straight for that legit chained shut door. In my memory my reaction was like a wave of unbelievability sweeping over in the greatest way, gobsmacked by what this monster of a man had just done.

Well, that proves how reliable a witness I am.

Turns out it was nothing like that, in reality taking the man ages to rip the cage door open and Daivari was never there. Instead it was Melina! How in the bloody hell did I get those two confused?! The MnM manager was already out ringside distracting Batista, when she started eagerly shouting at Mark Henry as he charged the cage. Big Dave just stood there doing nothing, having to watch Henry struggle with this still admittedly impressive feat... not at all how I remembered it.

Nowadays I can’t think about that spot in the same way, that awesome moment now degraded to just cool in my memory banks. Corrupted by the research and re-watching of the event with a fresh context, knowing how things actually went down has stopped me from being able to look at it the same ever again. You know what? That sucks, I loved that moment.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve realised revisiting those moments from the past really does nothing but change the context in which you remember them. I loved the Super Mario Bros movie as a kid… yep, turns out that film absolutely sucks. After ruining that memory I daren’t touch my one of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III with a ten foot pole. Where the turtles travel back in time to ancient China and kick ninja ass and it’s obviously awesome! How could it not be with that banger of a plot?

However, in spite of that clear quality I stand firm. I refuse to watch that film ever again and will always remember it as the coolest thing ever. Sure my memory of it may be distorted from reality, but I wish to keep it that way and remember the thing as this film I loved as a kid.

That’s my choice though, unfortunately with life a lot of the time there’s nothing you can do to avoid that memory becoming ruined. Wrestling has been dealt many blows like this, with our heroes of the past seemingly dropping like flies over the 2000s. That’s the exact time I was getting into wrestling, an era where it became common to see an ‘In Memory’ graphic for a former star from the 80s or 90s. It was so apparent, that in 2009 I had to a presentation at school on anything I wanted… I chose wrestler deaths.

I only started watching wrestling in late 2005, but within just 4 years I’d gone from pure enjoyment to being painfully aware of the reality. There was a true cost and hidden side to the business, something that had been well and truly shaken into the spotlight just 2 years earlier. When I look back now, it hits me how death was such an ever present factor over the first half decade of my fandom.

Remember Mark Henry ripping the door off the cage? The exact date that took place was November 30th 2005, I’d only just started properly watching WWE two weeks prior and was so excited for the opportunity to finally see my favourite wrestlers do their thing on a weekly basis. November 13th 2005 was the day Eddie Guerrero died.

I was only 12, but it felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.

Fast forward back to 2009, I’d just finished presenting the tragic story of the Von Eric family and ended on the note of the recently departed Andrew ‘Test’ Martin, when my teacher asked, “Is Shawn Michaels around and ok?”

Turns out she loved HBK and had an enormous crush on him during her late teen years, without knowing I’d done a whole presentation on wrestler deaths in front of a former megafan from the 90s. So after listening to my presentation that was her very first question: “Is Shaw Michaels ok?” Not any notes on this clearly rushed Power Point from a student who had hardly shown up to any of her classes, but the worry that her former favourite may be one amongst the many.

I’d seen Latino Heat on the odd VHS, played as him on WWF video games, but their blurry in my mind. My first proper memory of Eddie Guerrero is WWE announcing his death. All the stories about how much people loved him were then second hand for me, I was just simply a kid excited to finally see someone wrestle, only to find out that will never happen.

What if Shawn Michaels wasn’t ok? He had his demons, he wouldn’t have been at the pinnacle of health the last time she saw him. Those memories clearly meant a lot to her, even though she’d moved on she still cherished them dearly. I would have never wanted to be the one to break that news.

When I look back at my own fandom, there are two men whose careers are a tad difficult for me to look back on: Jeff Hardy and Chris Benoit.

I loved some of the Rabid Wolverine’s matches, the first time I watched the Royal Rumble 2001 VHS at my friend’s house it blew my mind. That Benoit vs Jericho ladder match was truly something else, I was 9 or 10 at the time and had seen absolutely nothing like it in my life. Even watching it back now, the sheer pace of it is mightily impressive.

After seeing my reaction to that my friend immediately put on TLC 2, enter my immediate fandom of Jeff Hardy. My first ever WrestleMania match, still one of my favourites to this day. I didn’t care whether the first TLC was better, I didn’t even know it existed. All I knew is that I’d seen something I thought was truly incredible, it’s great to be a kid living in the moment.

But now knowing how much those men were hurting over the course of their careers, both mentally struggling in very different ways. How can I look back at those matches the same again?

Hell, one of my favourite Jeff Hardy memories was when he became #1 Contender for Randy Orton’s WWE Championship at the 2008 Royal Rumble. Every time I remember that match it brings back the song they used for all of the promos, going through Jeff Hardy’s climb and struggle to get that that high point. It fit perfectly… now that Lost Prophets song is a stain on the memory, I can’t listen to any of their songs knowing what their lead singer did.

We all know when everything to do with Benoit completely flipped, but I feel selfish when I think how much it sucks the memory of those matches will never be the same. Wishing I could watch them the same way I did back in the early 2000s as a naïve kid seeing the ‘most awesomest thing ever’. But I never will be, those memories were changed forever mid-2007 and 15 year old me was shaken a damn strong dose of reality.

Sometimes you can’t leave the memories alone, when they’re forcefully pried open and the contents within smashed with a hammer right in front of you. But I don’t care if I’m not remembering something right when it’s an awesome memory, I’d rather they were corrupted by me than by the outside world.

I wish The Super Mario Bros Movie didn’t suck now, but at least Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III is still awesome. That memory’s staying in its half-shell.

I love being a turtle, cowabunga!


205 Clive
02-16-2019, 12:36 PM
There seems to be a common theme among this round's entries in his memories of wrestling have been changed. You've managed to bring yet another unique spin on things.

With your younger age, you've brought a different perspective to the tragic stories of Benoit and Guerrero.

Also, while I can't remember the promo in question, what happened with the Lostprophets singer has indeed tainted almost every memory of a band I was a fan of. Having an influence outside of wrestling leave its mark on your enjoyment of WWE is a sore one to take.

Great column. And, FYI, Ghostbusters > Ninja Turtles (the cartoons anyway). Sorry, but these are just the facts!

02-16-2019, 01:20 PM
Imp, this was fun read for me, in spite of the sad down turns it seems we are all writing about this round. I like your perspective from being brand new to wrestling when Eddie died. What a strange time to get caught up. I am amazed and impressed that your fandom was able to withstand the 2005 through 2007. Good work here bro!

The Doc
02-17-2019, 10:55 AM
"Standing on the rooftops, everybody scream your HEART OUT!"

I really enjoyed this, Imp. The writing got a little sloppy at times, but it was an endearing piece that held my attention and told me a story about yourself and your fandom, to the point that I would've happily kept reading for one of your more epic lengths had it not been restricted to a word count. I find stuff like this fascinating.

02-17-2019, 01:03 PM
For what it's worth I still love that Mark Henry bit and while I've never seen Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3, based on the description you gave it the movie sounds amazing.

Rob S.
02-19-2019, 09:56 AM
I was a little unsure where you were going with the topic, originally thinking I had confused what word you were given. I actually started thinking you had "reality" at first. With that said, I think you can see that I thought it was a little light in the topic, even though it brought it back together at the end. I love personal stories, and as the elder statesman around here I have quite a few of them. I enjoyed reading about your trip through your fandom, and how the deaths of wrestlers affected you.

However, this was riddled with errors, which I found quite surprising. The winners here go to the Final Four and that just can't happen at this stage. I'll be tougher as the rounds go on with that.

Good luck!

02-19-2019, 07:03 PM
Ah, nostalgia. It’s a hell of thing, isn’t it? I guess I’m lucky insofar as when I go back to check out stuff from my childhood I’m usually able to still connect to what I liked about it, though I admit I haven’t gone back to check out TMNT3 since I enjoyed it as a kid. Really liked the story of your teacher, that hit home. Liked this overall, though it seemed a bit unpolished at times, and in the end I wasn’t completely sure about the point. Should we not re-examine or re-evaluate what we liked in the past? I think there’s value in that, it may expose something wasn’t as good as you remembered, but you might also discover new layers to something that makes it even better.

02-22-2019, 10:34 PM
I love how you started this column. The conversational tone of jumping right into that sentence, and then explaining it later – reminds me of some novels. And then your “Well, that proves how reliable a witness I am” single-sentence paragraph was a great little piece, too. I got the vibe of a record scratch and a kind of “Well, back to reality”. Almost 80’s movie intro-esque. Absolutely dig it.

I think you went with a great approach to your topic of “corruption” – more unique than the obvious road down which to travel, but still comfortably within the realm of logic. The corruption of the mind rather than of a system or industry or what have you – excellent little twist. Even better, I like that you went with corruption in the sense of inevitability rather than malice. One almost always associates corruption with some degree of malice, and yet you took it another direction without reaching. Great malleability of the topic without dodging it – perfect in a tournament like this.

I think you went a little bit in a side direction when you started talking about wrestler deaths. I think a gradual journey from how our memory naturally tricks us (i.e. the Mark Henry bit) into the Jeff Hardy/Lostprophets/Chris Benoit bit had some real legs to it, but I just have the feeling that jumping from one to the other with the school project/teacher asking about HBK section was a little too scrambly. I think you wanted to go for some heaviness, some impact, a bit of darkness perhaps, but I think you cast a second fishing rod while your first one had a bite. Just felt like a touch too much jumping around.

Watch out for things like “Shaw Michaels” instead of “Shawn Michaels” and especially “their blurry” instead of “they’re blurry”. Noticed a couple of comma issues. Also, you may want to double check your date on the steel cage match. Every source I’ve seen says that match happened in January 2006, not November 2005. I think you might’ve been able to get away with one if you had stuck that in your “Mark Henry ripped off the door in seconds alongside Daivari” section, as it was clear you were remembering the emotional impact and not necessarily the facts. Once you started speaking on the fact that you went back and revisited it, and started speaking matter-of-factly, one can’t help but pull you up on that error. Minor thing, mind.

Getting into even tinier nitpicks – great title, but I think it’s a hair better if you don’t have that final line in your column. Talking about the Ninja Turtles in the fashion you did was a fantastic analogy to a non-wrestling field, and tied in very well with your take on the corruption of memory. And if you end the column with “That memory’s staying in its half-shell”, without mentioning “Cowabunga” in the column, I love that. I wasn’t crazy about your final line – I think the “one and done” of “Cowabunga” as your title would’ve been perfect. Again, though, this is getting into serious microscope territory on the nitpicks.

Overall, I think you started tremendously well but plateaued a little bit too early. Still an enjoyable piece overall.