Every now and then we like to feature a column from the Columns Forum here on the main page of Lords of Pain. Going on in the CF currently is a tournament named CFGP and saw two columns forum hall of famers go head-to-head in the semi-final. 'Plan would have to bring everything he had to the table to knock out CF Leader and Host of The Late Shift (if you aren't checking out LOP Radio, why not?) on the subject of music in wrestling. He certainly did that. But I felt the column deserves a wider audience than just the forums, so please enjoy this amazing tribute to three of the greatest ever...
My Eulogy by 'Plan - Columns Forum Feature
Aug 12, 2014 - 7:46:22 AM
I said I wouldn’t do it. When I made the decision to throw my name into the hat for the CFGP I told myself I wouldn’t write anything personal. There’s no real reason why; just a private choice, to see if my ability alone could get me there. But then I got this topic and this stipulation and an idea popped into my head very quickly; so quickly that it was clear to me there was only one column I could ever write in this round.
So I’m going to write about my favourite musical wrestling moment of them all.
I will begin with a few haunting questions.
Did you know that 34% of WWE’s singles Hall of Famers are no longer with us?
Did you know that almost half of that percentage died after being inducted, while just over half died before they could be given the honour in person?
Did you know that 29% of WWE’s tag team Hall of Famers are similarly absent?
Did you know that 86% of them died prior to their induction, despite their average age upon induction being only 58 years old?
And did you know that out of all the wrestling promotions on the planet there is only one I feel does beautiful justice to these long-gone but no less beautiful performers 100% of the time?
There are plenty of promoters, companies and peers capable of paying these men tribute, do not mistake me, but no-one apart from WWE is quite able to put together the heart-warming, soul-touching highlight packages of these performer’s careers that reduce grown men to shameless tears. Their combination of sound bites, imagery and music are as powerful a tribute to those who have been taken from us unfairly and before their time as you can find anywhere in the world.
It seems strange to consider moments of tribute as moments of music; one wonders if it’s grossly oxymoronic, but such is life when at its cruellest.
I focus on the pain,
The only thing that’s real.
The monochrome image of your expression when Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” kicks in sits in my memory like a mural carved into stone. I was watching when you reached the top of the mountain to become WWE Champion. No-one I knew then was, but I remained. I was overjoyed to see you overcome the past that seemed to once torment you. It pains me greatly to think that past, in the end, asked an impossible price of you that no man could have paid.
But then that pain gets washed away by the simple fact that so many men, women and children had their lives touched by yours. Here I sit, thousands and thousands of miles away from the country you were born in, grew up in, lived in and died in, a man whose name you do not know and of whose existence you were never aware, a nameless face in a crowd robbed of a chance to see you wrestle in person, and your loss leaves a hole in my world that I never thought any stranger could leave.
I guess you were never really a stranger.
You may have shuffled off this fragile mortal coil, but there is no demon, ghost or monkey on a back that could ever dare hope to dent the legacy you forged for yourself by giving the very best part of you to us, while asking for nothing in return bar a smile.
I miss you.
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end.
I’m writing this column on different days because, truth be told, it fills me with angst contemplating these things too much. This paragraph I am writing on a very special day – the 100th anniversary of Britain entering into the First World War. In just one hour forty minutes as of writing, I shall be joining in an event named Lights Out, sitting in darkness by only the glow of my computer screen to remember those who lost their lives when the lanterns of Europe were blown into darkness.
I bring this up because it strikes a chord with me that professional wrestlers don’t receive memorials made of granite and marble; I am not contesting that they should. Indeed, there’s not really any need. It seems somehow fitting that there is no physical Hall of Fame, no building to house those many pairs of unlaced boots; too many pairs of unlaced boots.
I am not a hell fearing man, or a man expectant of paradise. I don’t know what waits for us on the other side, or if there is another side at all, but I do like to think that there’s something incorporeal waiting for these gladiators, an afterlife where a man sits grinning in a bouncing low-rider as a tornado of colour storms by underneath the bemused gaze of madness. They deserve it, and so does everyone involved in the business - from performer to promoter to fan - because professional wrestling sees lanterns blown out every single year and each of them needlessly. It is a brutal, cannibalistic profession, and yet there are those that would launch themselves willingly into the maw if it means giving me a night to remember. I love that. I love that so much.
So right now there’s no need for the memorial or the hall because of the powerful musical moments WWE put together every time we lose a member of our extended family. It’s amazing that songs I had never heard before have so quickly become firm sentimental favourites of mine, each one meaning a whole host of things because of their momentary attachment to a library of work that comparatively few people in this world will appreciate, with fewer still even aware of it.
How can we go back
To rewrite this from the start?
One More Time.
I do not know if you’re anywhere out there still, but if you are I want you to know that my name is Sam and I was a huge mark for you. Though you came under criticism for a great many years, and though many of us fell prey to WWE’s revisionist assault on your memory, it will never take away from the fact that I have never had quite as much joyful fun, nor felt quite as much weightless elation, than when you went charging down the aisle to the ring to lay waste to whoever stood in your way.
Wrestlemania XXX was a special week for me for many reasons, but out of it all one of the greatest memories I have is waiting up until the very, very small hours of the morning, alone, to see you enter the hall you belong in; the Hall of Fame.
You were the Ultimate Warrior, I was an Ultimate Warrior fan and I regret that I was never as proud of that as I should have been while you were still with us. You were, and still are, an inspiration and I am proud to say it outright.
Wherever you are, if you are anywhere, keep on press slamming clouds and splashing angels, and know that what you did in life made us bleed deep and believe in something larger than life; that your essence, your spirit and the running you did will live forever. You are still loved.
I miss you.
I’ll give it all
Just to see your face.
Another day, another paragraph; I’ve never found emotions an easy thing to deal with. Whenever it comes time to have a deep, meaningful conversation with someone I feel horrendously uncomfortable and self-conscious. I don’t handle compliments well and, in all honesty, when it comes to meeting people face-to-face I loathe confrontation. Emotion is not something I enjoy. I think it is perhaps because of a lack of control. My name probably betrays the fact I am at my best when dispassionate, informed and completely aware.
That’s why these musical moments, these short minutes-long memorials, are so dear to me. “Just one more time” is a thing beyond our boldest hopes for those we’ve lost, but I can play these musical moments over as many times as I so desire to relive a lifetime of joys provided for me, and so many others like me, in what was sometimes only a very few short years. I can do that whenever I like and I can do that in private.
In a good professional wrestling match you will live a hundred lifetimes and come out the other end a better man for it. The same can be said for the moments I’m gushing about today, and I know a lot of this may feel like bloated, near-empty rhetoric but it’s far from it. This is not proving an easy piece for me to write because of my aforementioned antipathy to wearing my heart on my sleeve, but I mean every word more sincerely than I’ve meant any word I’ve ever written in any other column. I started the week trash-talking with Steve, playing up to the tournament and having fun, but as the days have worn on I have prevented myself from continuing. It somehow felt tasteless to me, given the understanding I have come to; that my urge to write this column, and only this column, means it isn’t about being at my best, and I don’t care if it doesn’t get me through in this competition, just like I don’t care if it’s riddled with errors. I just wanted to sit and give these men the tribute they damn well deserve from me, personally.
As inappropriate as it sounds, there’s something quite grimly ironic to me at the heart of my choice to go down this road. For a long time I’ve been hoping someone would write a column recognising the brilliant production work WWE achieve with their promotional video packages. Every year at Wrestlemania, or sometimes any other show, a video comes out that ingrains itself in your memory, along with the soundtrack to it, and it strikes a note with you so deep that it becomes as much a part of the match as the finishing sequence is. Yet, for all the recollections of excitement and exhilaration it is, for me, the videos attached to something painful and melancholic that I love the most. I am not sure if that says something about me.
Death is inevitable. Memory, too. What is a choice is the decision to allow someone that meant something to us to transcend such states. This just isn’t about video packages or musical moments; it’s about man-made immortality.
I can’t think of any men more worthy of the honour.
Nobody said it was easy.
It’s such a shame for us to part.
Truth be told, when you were alive I did not have a full appreciation of your accomplishments or your talent. I knew you were good - damn good in fact - and I knew that you were one of a small class of the all-time greats. Just how far it all went I never pondered though.
Then you died, and I felt a sorrow inside of me that I never expected, and certainly never dared to imagine. Yours was the first death in professional wrestling that truly, deeply affected me.
It is for those reasons that, wherever it is you may be – and I don’t care if that’s among the clouds or in the dirt – I want you to know that I realise now how great you were. You were the Godfather of a company that has yet to afford you the recognition you deserve, and I would like to think that is out of respect for your wishes while you were still here. You laid out a formula in the ring that every wrestler today takes inspiration from. I am a Macho Man fan like you couldn’t begin to believe, and there are others even more so than me.
The way you were snatched from us was cruel and an injustice you did not deserve. The way you performed for us was wonderful and a gift no fan could ever thank you for enough. The memories I have of you, though few, will grow no less radiant with the passage of time; in my past, you will always stand perched high atop that top rope, with Elizabeth beside you, who, I would say, loved you more than any of us, if it were only possible to imagine such a love.
It is never easy when we lose someone in this industry; so many before their time, so many paying a price they had long since earned forgiveness for. I never knew it would be so difficult when it came to you though, and Hall of Fame or no Hall of Fame, your mark is indelible. Thank you for the matches, for the memories and for the WWE I know today.
Pomp and Circumstance was never more apt.
I miss you.
Nobody said it was easy.
No-one ever said it would be this hard.
It is WWE’s powerful tributes, to me their most musical moments, that I wanted to write about today. They are like canvases of my life’s inspirations, and each one an excruciating reminder that I can no longer rely on those inspirations for fresh encouragement when the sun rises tomorrow; it never will for them again. Yet that is precisely the reason they mean so much to me. The tracks used in those videos are now immediately related to the imagery of those wonderfully freeing performers, with every bar, and every note, music to my ears. So thank you WWE; thank you Eddie; thank you Warrior; thank you Macho; and thank you for reading this column and taking the time to remember, with me, the very best men I never knew, though I wish that I had.
…I came to write about my favourite musical moment though, and know that none of those videos carry that title. My favourite moment wasn’t put together by WWE, but by us; the a cappella chorus of the most touching soundtrack to the beautiful memories of beautiful careers, composed by beautiful people, without any of which my life would be much less bright. In actuality it comes from an unrelated time of celebration, rather than a time of sorrowful recollection, but if anything I find that more fitting. The message, certainly, is no less relevant.
Eddie; Warrior; Randy: you deserve it.