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  1. #1
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    (YLC-RD3) No one ever wanted to be Barry Horowitz

    Growing up I didn’t have a back or a front yard to wrestle in. I had no garage roof to jump off and (thankfully) I was never brave enough to smash through tables or take a weed whacker to my back. My wrestling experience was very mundane and my whole career was spent running the ropes on my parent’s bed. My only opponent was my great nemesis known to the wrestling world as “Scott’s older brother” and every match would begin in the same way. “I’m Flair.” I would loudly assert, only to be told by “Scott’s older brother” that he was in fact Flair. “You’re always Ric Flair!” I would complain, hearing in return that I could be the Nature Boy next time but now I would have to be someone else. Inevitably I would take on the mantle of Sting or Dusty or Hansen and off we’d go.

    I can’t tell you my win-loss record and unfortunately, I was forced to retire in the early 90s when “Scott’s older brother” was too cool for wrestling and pursed music and girls instead. As I reflect on those days, the entire roster (2) wanted to be “The Man”. Sting was awesome but he wasn’t Flair. Hansen was a beast, but he wasn’t Flair. In our childhood wrestling careers, we knew that we wanted to be the best, no one ever wanted to be Barry Horowitz. That’s no surprise, is it? As children we were often asked the big question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, and usually we replied with something quite grand. We told our teacher or grandmother “I want to be President.”, and why? Because in those early days anything was possible. Life stretched out before us and as our identity was taking shape we reached for the stars.

    I’ve been retired from active wrestling for over 30 years and in the past year, I’ve turned 40. It seemed and seems like a significant moment for Mrs. Woodburn’s baby boy who, one day long ago, hoped to be the NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion. Birthdays tend not to stop me in my tracks but this one did. 40 years on planet earth, that’s 14610 days or over 21 million minutes. 40 years complete with an assorted selection of regrets in my pocket. Am I the man that I once thought I would be? No way. Will the next years be any better? I wouldn’t count on it. When I look in the mirror, do I like what I see? Rarely. When we put away our childhood dreams and ask ourselves in the darkness of the night “Who am I?”, the answer no longer mentions anything about the Presidency or the NWA. I’ve been there. I’m still there. What do we call it in those moments? Feeling sorry for myself? Identity crisis? Depression? Bad mood? I don’t know but I’m sure someone once said that to be the man you’ve got to beat the man. I haven’t beaten him yet and reckon he has been kicking my behind since 1979.

    I know too that I can’t stay pinned to the mat. Regret and self-examination and a crisis of identity cannot and must not be my permanent address - that way madness lies. Birthday number 40 sucked the air out of me but I know that it is now time for a deep breath.

    I may no longer wrestle but as I prepare for the next stage of my life, I realize just how much the sport has taught me. I have many dear friends who scoff at this notion. For them pro-wrestling is low-grade entertainment primarily for children. They all know who Hulk Hogan is, but it has been a long time since they’ve said their prayers and ate their vitamins. In their eyes I simply refuse to grow up and they guffaw as I often begin wisdom filled sentences with the words “If wrestling has taught me anything…”. This isn’t my catchphrase or a t-shirt design. I mean it. Wrestling teaches.

    Consider Mikey Whipwreck. Barely out of his teens he defeats the Sandman to become the ECW World Heavyweight Champion. Alongside Sabu and Tazz he is recognised as a winner of ECW’s Triple Crown and he has on his record a successful title defense against the man who would soon become Stone Cold Steve Austin. Yet Whipwreck after climbing to the mountaintop believed the title win left him with nowhere to go creatively. “The win I had over Steve Austin” says Whipwreck “was the beginning of the change and the frustration for me. It got to a now what? Because where do I go from there? I had this character that I could only evolve to a certain point, so it was there that I started to get frustrated at that point. I almost thought where do I go now?”

    Wrestling teaches. That which we pursue, and desire often disappoints when captured.

    Consider Owen Hart, Eddie Guerrero and Kerry Von Erich. Hugely talented performers who gave us memory upon memory and sacrificed so much for the sport of professional wrestling. Yet each one of them gone much too soon. The ancient Romans loved to celebrate a glorious victory and often the returning General would receive a “triumph”. There he was at the head of the parade with the adoration of his countrymen poured out upon him. Yet the wiser General would listen more to a servant standing behind him whispering “Memento Mori!”, “Remember you are mortal.”.

    Wrestling teaches. Life can be incredibly hard, incredibly tragic and incredibly short.

    Consider Ric Flair. In my view, Richard Morgan Fliehr is the greatest of all time. I’ve been watching him and quoting him and trying to be him for most of my life and yet I so wish that his in-ring career finished at the wrong end of Shawn Michael’s boot on the 30th March 2008.

    Wrestling teaches. In life, we need to know when it is time to walk away and say “enough”.

    Consider Rocky Maivia. Everyone loves the Rock, right? Not at first. “Die Rocky Die” was the chant before the millions and millions began chanting his name. “Rocky sucks” was the song before Dwayne Johnson became one of the biggest names not just in wrestling but in the entertainment industry.

    Wrestling teaches. The crowd is fickle. One day they boo, the next they cheer. Your value is not determined by the size of your following on Facebook.

    Consider Bret Hart. Multi-million-dollar contract one minute and screwed over the next. An indispensable “Hitman” today and then an inconvenient drain on resources tomorrow.

    Wrestling teaches. Don’t be surprised when the world moves past you to the next shiny object. It has always been thus.

    Consider Jake the Snake. An awesome talent. A man who could get on the microphone and cause me to despise him and love him at the same time. Yet a man who throughout his life fought with his issues. Indeed, it seemed he would slowly but surely dig his own grave until his friends removed the shovel.

    Wrestling teaches. Some problems in life are too heavy to bear alone. It's okay to ask for help.

    Wrestling teaches us. It has taught me repeatedly and at this significant moment in my life, it still speaks. You see as I reflect on who I am, I believe that what causes me to stumble is a desire and all-consuming hunger for significance. I want and need to believe that my life will mean something and be for something. When it is all said and done, I yearn for my years to have a weight and a value to them. This is my crisis, but thankfully when overwhelmed and undone, wrestling teaches.

    Barry Horowitz. C.W. Anderson. Dino Bravo. The Repo Man. John Kronus. Tom Zenk. We read a list of names like this and I suspect we can agree that none of these wrestlers will be considered among the greatest of all time. Yet as the names run through my mind, something amazing happens. I remember. I smile. I call to mind each of these individuals and many more. They didn’t reach the mountaintop, but they surely started the climb. I remember Horowitz patting himself on the back and how I was genuinely pleased when he scored his first win. I remember the Repo Man and how he made me laugh in a way that only those larger-than-life WWF characters could. I remember a time in my life when Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman rivaled Ric Flair in my favorites list. I remember discovering something called ECW and immediately connecting with Sabu, RVD and the late John Kronus whose 450-splash got me out of my seat.

    Wrestling teaches. A well-lived and incredibly significant life may never be anywhere near the Hall of Fame.

    I am thankful for this reminder and even though you and this 40-year-old “young lion” will probably never meet or eat BBQ in your yard perhaps this column has been a helpful reminder for you. Today I want you to consider that what is true of wrestling is often true of life. Sure, you have made mistakes and as you look in the mirror you may cringe as you recall the words you shouldn’t have said and the wrong turns you shouldn’t have taken. You once planned to shock the world and tripped over the door frame. You screwed up your well-rehearsed promo only to discover the show was live. There is an ache in your belly when you consider your place on the roster.

    You and I are strangers but hear me out. I’m convinced that there are people who smile at the mention of your name, who will recall fondly the time you gave them, who value the contribution you made to their lives. Little old you. You never quite reached the place of your dreams, but you have always, always, been significant.

    At 40 I’m not “the man” and I doubt I ever will be. I suspect that if my life were a wrestling card, I would barely make the pre-show, but I’m increasingly at ease not crisis. Wrestling teaches. Lay aside every weight that slows you down. Remove from yourself the baggage of the past. Forgive yourself and others. Memento mori. There’s a significance in you and in your years. Every time you invest effort and energy with your children. Every time you do a job you hate so that there is bread on the table. Every time you are dog tired but mow your elderly neighbor’s lawn regardless. Every time you deserve a bit of praise but receive none. You may not be Ric Flair, but my friend, surely you are significant.

  2. #2
    Man, your fandom is much like mine. Right before reading this, I just finished a rough draft on Brian Pillman. I love his wrestling work. Ric Flair is my all time favorite.

    But the writing here...man, it's surreal. Nobody wants to be Barry Horwitz, but he pats himself on the back, anyway! And you know what, he ended up getting that roll up on Skip. Did his confidence hurt him or help him? Wrestling asks questions.

    Great wrestling imitates life and makes life want to imitate it. Loved the personal stories. Loved that you poured your heart out. As far as I'm concern you've been the man around these parts lately, Mr. Woodburn.

    Keep burnin' that wood!
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 07-28-2019 at 04:55 PM.

  3. #3
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    There's a column I can definitely relate to. I never actually wanted to be a wrestler, for me it was always becoming a rock star. Today, at just a few years older than you, I've done that - in some of my local pubs. I may not have become rock music's Ric Flair, but I finally made it onto that proverbial ladder as the main star of a metaphorical local independent promotion.

    I may not be one of the judges, but I think this column is going to take some beating.

  4. #4
    Yo I love this approach and article ! Really enjoyed it!

    Really enjoyed your articles and you should be proud

  5. #5
    Part Timer Maverick's Avatar
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    Now THIS is what I'm talking about! Wonderful piece. No criticism to offer here. This might be the best of the tournament thus far.

  6. #6
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    Your way too polished to be a rookie. Surely you're not a rookie. If not, you're a wrestling column writing prodigy.

    I'd definitely say you're the favorite to win the tournament right now
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  7. #7
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    I don't think there's any 'might' about it, I think it's certainly the best of the tournament so far. If there's anything there to criticise, I'm not entirely sure what it is. I did wonder at one stage if you were using the refrain a little too much but how bizarre would that be as a critical point? You repeated your repetition too repetitively? Nah. Everything tied together wonderfully. It was poignant, profound, deeply personal and yet universally applicable. As Doc intimates, I'd be interested in knowing if this is 'your first rodeo' with column writing, and I'd still like to see you interact a little more with the community - but there's no obligations there, and it certainly doesn't even factor into what was ultimately a superb piece of writing. Very well done my friend.

  8. #8
    The Brain
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    At least Repo Man also got to be Smash! Though Ax was always better.

    I've long learned to be content with what I'm able to accomplish in life, and my love for the small players like Barry Horowitz is boundless (Iron Mike Sharpe is a true favorite). Wrestling teaches many lessons, and I hope one of them is you don't necessarily have to be on top of the mountain to prove your worth.

    Enjoyed this Scott, hope to see more of you around LOP.

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