Hustle Is Posting Right Now - Luck Be A Lady (A Re-post)
Oct 13, 2012 - 6:13:43 AM
Writer's Note: This is one of the very first columns I posted on the LoP main page. The original posting date is March 23rd, 2008. This one has been asked about on several occasions from some of my long-time readers, wanting me to post it again, but until this afternoon, I thought the column was lost forever. Now that I've found it, I figured I'd finally get to posting it again. It's nowhere near my best work. It is, however, one of my more requested pieces of work, for relatively obvious reasons once you read it. Let's get this out of the way so that I can go ahead and start working on my next brand new column.
Another Public Service Announcement
Before I get into this column, I've decided to warn all of you that this isn't going to be your normal edition of HIPRN. As a matter of fact, if racial slurs (in slang form, but slurs nonetheless) offend you, then you might wanna wait for the return of the "regular" version of my column. Along with racial slurs, there are other levels of language and violence in this column, and I just want people to be prepared for it if they're intending to stick around and continue reading. Going into this, I was in an interesting place as far as my mindset goes, and it spilled over into this column, for the most part. Luck is an interesting thing sometimes. I mean, there are times when you have nothing but good luck. There are also times when you have nothing but bad luck. There's even times when you'd kill just to have any luck at all. This is all about how fickle of a mistress this thing called "luck" can be. I think its time to make it happen.
We were at a NFL Pro Bowl block party, off doing our own thing. Admittedly, it was probably an intimidating sight for most people to witness. We were, at the very least, 10 deep, and when people see a large group of people together, almost entirely draped in red, they know what they're dealing with. Allow me to let you all in on WHO they were dealing with.
Salt Lake Bloods.
King's Krown Bloods.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, gang affiliation. This night wasn't supposed to be about any of that, though. This night was merely supposed to be about a group of people out having fun. We were having fun. We weren't bothering anybody. Things were good. We all had money in our pockets, with not a care in the entire world. Then we heard it.
For those not "down" with street slang, let's just say that "Sup Cuz?!" isn't something you want to say around a group of Blood gang members. We spotted them as we turned around. Sure enough, damn near all of them had blue on damn near from head to toe. While there wasn't as many in their group as there was in ours, we still weren't trying to escalate anything. We heard it again.
This wasn't going to go away on its own. That was immediately obvious. Trying to use our numbers to our advantage, one of our crew, Diego, returned the "call".
Looking back at it now, its almost humorous, but at the time, seeing this group of blue-clad guys back down as a group of red-clad guys moved towards them was no laughing matter. After a few seconds of hand signs thrown in our direction, they left. People were starting to notice. The smart thing to do was get out of there, or someone was bound to call 9-1-1. We watched as they walked away and headed off towards the parking lot. We continued on doing our own thing. We were lucky, you could say. It wouldn't be the last time we saw them, though.
For years, nobody thought he had it in him to become a star on his own. Maybe they thought he was too small. Maybe they thought he was too much of a one-dimensional act. Maybe they thought he couldn't talk his way in and out of situations. Whatever it was, though, people simply didn't buy Jeff Hardy as a solo star. Sure, he was one-half of, arguably, the greatest tag team in wrestling for multiple years, but all tag teams split up eventually, and the debate on whether or not the Hardy brothers could succeed on their own began. One thing that couldn't be denied about Jeff Hardy was the simple fact that he was over with crowds across the country, and for that matter, the world. It seemed as if his face pops were becoming louder and louder with every passing week. Surely, those who made the decisions in WWE couldn't keep ignoring that fact, could they?
For a while, it almost seemed as if that was exactly what they wanted to do. Just like when John Cena's face pops began turning into a growing amount of heel heat from live audiences, Jeff Hardy's growing face reactions were something that was increasingly obvious to viewers at home, but was never mentioned on broadcasts by Jim Ross or Jerry Lawler. Jeff continued to get air-time, so its not as if they weren't taking advantage of his popularity at all, just not to the extent that they probably could have or should have at that point.
Enter Triple H.
From all reports, Triple H was becoming a fan of the work that Jeff was putting in on a weekly basis, and he definitely noticed Jeff's rise in popularity with the fans, so he had himself aligned with Jeff in storylines. Now, I'm not here to debate on whether Trips was genuine with his Jeff Hardy fandom, or if he was merely trying to siphon from, arguably, the most over person on the Raw roster.. I've seen both sides argued before.. but the bottom line is that there was Triple H standing alongside Jeff Hardy on our TV screens, a strange "odd-couple" friendship brewing. It doesn't get much luckier than being befriended by Triple H, who is about as "untouchable" as there is on the WWE roster. The story for Jeff wasn't quite over, though.
Blow My Buzz
A couple days had gone by since the little incident at the block party, with no response or even hint of one from who we saw that night. We figured everything was cool. Everyone was off doing their own thing, and Diego went off to slang (as in, "I slang in my red tee".. to "slang" in this context means to sell drugs). A few hours later, my phone rang.
"These niggaz got me, man." was what I heard when I answered.
"Who got you? What you talkin bout?"
"Them niggaz from the other night, man."
"What? What happened?"
"They came to the spot, pulled a piece on me, and took everything. I'm on my way to Kenny's place."
"Alright. I'll meet you there."
This wasn't good. Things weren't just going to end here. That's not how it works in the mind of gangs. They don't just let things slide like that. If you do something to them, they're gonna do something back to you, which will lead you to do something back to them, and so forth. Its a never-ending cycle.
The "Kenny" that Diego referred to was another member of our group. Damn near Kenny's entire family was involved with the Bloods. His father, his brother, both of his uncles, one of his aunts, a few of his cousins.. and him, of course. We, as a group, didn't have an official "headquarters" or anything like that, but Kenny's place was as close to that as we had. I was closer to Kenny's place than Diego was at that time, so I figured I'd get there and I'd wait for him. I figured wrong.
Jeff Hardy was actually being pushed more than he had in the past. His "friendship" with Triple H was paying off immediately, as he was involved in higher-profile matches, more TV time, and was generally held in higher regard by a lot of people. He was more "believable", you could say. The same folks who could never buy Jeff as more than a tag team star and a singles midcarder were starting to change their minds a bit.
In the very beginning of this entire storyline, I was one of the people who only saw Jeff at a certain level. He was over, sure, but I'd only really seen him succeed in matches that involved some sort of combination of tables, ladders, and chairs (oh my). I had to wonder if he could put on quality matches of the "normal" variety. Yeah, the same thing was once said about Edge, but Edge had far better mic skills than Jeff does. Those nagging questions about Jeff would always continue to come up. As time continued on, though, I began giving WWE credit for how they were handling their booking of Jeff. Booking him against people like Umaga made his "risk-taking" more understandable, even without sections of Home Depot being used in his matches. He was wrestling more and more of those "normal" matches, and he was doing a good job of it. His face pops were getting larger and larger, and eventually, he became, arguably, the most over face on the entire Raw roster. I had to change my mind a bit.. maybe Jeff really could be a legit main eventer in the company.
Then the match was signed. Triple H VS Jeff Hardy, with the winner earning a WWE Title shot at the Royal Rumble. Talk about a buzzkill for Jeff Hardy fans. At that point, Triple H's plan started to unfold in people's minds. "Help build Jeff up a bit, so it'll look that much better when you beat him cleanly" is what people were thinking. They figured wrong.
Shit Can Happen
I got to Kenny's place and waited for Diego to show up. Kenny wasn't there, but most of his family was. I didn't say anything to them about Diego, for fear of things being blown out of proportion. Things tended to get blown out of proportion a lot in this particular lifestyle. After greeting everyone, I headed back outside. I sat on the stoop and I waited for Diego's call.
I waited some more.
I waited some more.
After a while, I called Diego myself to see what was taking so long, but there was no answer. Eventually, Kenny showed up and asked what I was up to. I told him what happened to Diego earlier, and that I was waiting for him to show up so things could be straightened out. Diego had a problem with thinking with his heart instead of his head sometimes. If we didn't get him to Kenny's place and calm him down, he'd probably do something stupid. Kenny sat on the stoop with me, and we waited together.
Eventually, my phone rang. "Diego" appeared on the caller ID, and I answered.
"Damn, nigga, where the fuck are you?" I asked him.
He wasn't on the other end. Instead, it was a member of the police department. Diego had been shot while on his way to Kenny's place. They took him to the hospital, but he didn't make it. Diego was dead. They called my number because I was the last incoming, outgoing, and missed number on his cell phone. He didn't have an ID on him or anything, so they couldn't call home or any "emergency contacts". The officer wanted me to come in so they could ask me some questions. I told him I'd be in later and hung up on him.
"What's wrong?" Kenny asked me, noticing the look on my face. I told him everything that I was just told. He broke down, right there on the stoop. Kenny's brother that I mentioned earlier.. the one that was also a Blood.. was Diego. Kenny was an absolute mess, as would be expected at a time like this. He got up and stormed back into his place, and within seconds, his father came out and asked me what was wrong with him. Needless to say, having to tell a man that his youngest son has just been murdered isn't exactly the most exciting thing to do. I couldn't take it anymore.. I had to get the fuck out of there, and that's what I did. Without saying a word, I just left Kenny's place.
Leading into the HHH/Hardy match, the disappointment felt by the Hardy fans was obvious. All the hard work that Jeff had put in.. all the effort that the WWE writers had put in to building Jeff up with the crowds.. all the energy and excitement that Jeff's fans had shown in helping him get to where he was.. it was all about to go down the tubes in a squash match as "The Chosen One" fed his own ego. What a prick that Triple H is.. fucking the boss' daughter and using that to his own advantage so that he gets special treatment from the McMahon family. Cocksucking asshole.
When the match was taking place (damn time zone differences causing me to get Raw late every week), I remember talking to 2 people on AIM. One of those people was a big-time Hardy fan, even going back to their days in OMEGA (this person is from North Carolina). The other person was not only a die-hard Triple H fan, but was a big Edge & Christian fan, as well, and therefore, didn't necessarily like either Hardy. Both of them were basically guaranteeing a Triple H victory, albeit in completely different emotions. I was getting constant updates on the match from both of them, and it was damn near like listening to a sporting event on the radio.. someone else was telling me the story, but I could see it playing out in my head like I was seeing it live. Then I saw the IMs..
"holy shit, Jeff won!"
"HOW THE FUCK DID JEFF HARDY GET TO WIN THE MATCH???"
It was almost as if someone was playing a joke on me. There was no way Jeff Hardy actually won the match, was there? After some quick research, I discovered the answer to that was a resounding "yes". Holy shit. Triple H may not be Satan, after all. Almost instantly after everything settled in, I made the prediction that Jeff Hardy would be the WWE Champion at some point in 2008, even if it was a Kane-like title reign that only lasted 24 hours. He was simply too popular and had too much momentum for it not to happen. People asked when I thought Jeff's reign would be, and I told them that the only thing I was sure of was that he WOULDN'T beat Randy Orton for the title at the Royal Rumble. I looked at it more like a "test" for Jeff. The company was putting him into a WWE Title match on one of their biggest events of the year, and were hyping it up like crazy. They wanted to see if the fans bought Jeff as a legit main eventer or not. If so, they'd continue to keep Jeff at that level, and the business would have the addition of another big money-maker to count on for PPV buyrates and all that mumbo jumbo. If not, it wasn't a HUGE deal, because he had already proven himself as an upper-midcarder at the IC Title level, and he could move back into that position with no problems whatsoever.
I sat in the 2nd row during Diego's funeral. Most of us sat there, seemingly in shock, not knowing what to do, say, or even think. Sure, there were a couple people with tears rolling down their cheeks, but for those of you who have ever dealt with the loss of a loved one (of any sort), you know that your mind doesn't always register the fact that they're gone right away. It may take you a few days to fully comprehend it. Hell, it may take weeks, months.. even years.. to finally come to terms with the loss. People kept filing in and walking past, offering condolences to his family. Some that knew us even stopped and offered condolences to us.
The service was really beautiful. Nothing overly spectacular, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Kenny and Diego's father spoke for a while, and the trembling in his voice as he tried to hold back his tears really shook all of us up. That man was like a mountain to everyone.. absolutely solid and simply could not be moved.. and here he was, on the verge of openly weeping tears of unadulterated sorrow. There were a few times where it seemed as if he wouldn't be able to continue, but each time, he dug down deep and found the strength to muster up another few sentences, before we'd be back at the "breaking" point for another go-round. Once he was done with his speech (that we later found out he completely ad-libbed), he thanked everyone for coming, and the service ended soon thereafter.
Once everything was finished, a few of us stayed back to help Kenny & Diego's family clean the room a bit, and then everyone met up outside. Kenny was the first one to say anything, after what seemed like hours of silence.
"I'm not gonna let them get away with this", he said.
Fuck. I knew EXACTLY where this was going, and I really wish I would've been smarter at the time, so that I could've possibly said something. Instead, I just stood there, listening to people talk. Fucking stupid decision on my part.
"So what's the plan then? We gonna get those fuckin crabs ("crabs" is a derogatory term for Crips gang members that is used by Bloods from time to time) or what?", someone else chimed in.
"Yeah. Fuck those niggaz, man. I'm not gonna let my brother go down like that." Kenny said.
Sure enough, that's where I figured the conversation was going. I was still numb to the entire thing and couldn't say anything. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I'd have spoken up. Lives were forever altered because nobody.. because I.. didn't say a word about this.
While it wasn't the greatest match of all-time or anything like that, I think that Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy had themselves a nice little match at this year's Royal Rumble. As I mentioned earlier, I knew Jeff wasn't going to be winning the match, but he still needed a great showing out there, ESPECIALLY in front of a "smarky" Madison Square Garden crowd. That's a crowd that really doesn't care about face/heel alignments. They're gonna cheer for who they want and boo who they want. If Jeff could go out and have a good match with Orton, and win the MSG fans over, it would be a tremendous success for him and his fans, even without bringing home the belt.
From the opening second of Jeff's entrance music hitting during the introductions, it was obvious that it wouldn't take much to get the fans behind him. If you get over in most places, its one thing, but if you get over in New York City, you're really doing something right. During that night, Jeff Hardy was in New York City, and damnit, he was OVER. They even gave him a nice show of respect after the match was over.
Later that evening, John Cena made his return to the company in the Royal Rumble match itself, and with Cena back in the spotlight again, people figured that Jeff's time in said spotlight was at its end. What, with Cena, Triple H, Randy Orton, etc there, Jeff Hardy simply wouldn't have room at the "big boy table" and would instead be forced to eat cut up pieces of hot dog and grilled cheese sammiches at the Playskool table (don't front, you people know what I'm talking about).
Surprisingly enough, Jeff was being kept at the main event level, still comfortably sitting at the "big boy table". He was placed in the Elimination Chamber at No Way Out, with the winner getting a WWE Title shot at WrestleMania 24. Jeff was stepping into the Chamber with Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Umaga, and JBL. Those last 2 names (well, last 3 names, I guess) were just there to take up space, as nobody in their right minds really expected them to win. Shawn Michaels was heavily rumored to be the man taking on Ric Flair at WrestleMania for Flair's retirement match. That left 2 men.. there they were again.. Triple H, and standing across from him.. Jeff Hardy. Could Jeff do it again and beat Triple H for a 2nd time, this time giving him a main event spot on the biggest event of the year? Jeff's fans should've known that the opportunity was too good to be true, as Triple H (somewhat) got his victory back, punching his ticket to Orlando for a WWE Title match, and sending Jeff scrambling back to where he was before his "teaming" with Trips. There was one more "big" match to deal with, though, and it was something Jeff looked to be a serious favorite to win.
Money In The Bank. You take a guy like Jeff Hardy, and you give him a match where he needs to climb a ladder to attain a briefcase. Inside said briefcase is a contract for a title shot of the winner's choosing, redeemable for up to a year. Folks, this was it. This was the match Jeff needed. This was the match that was going to allow Jeff to shine on the biggest possible stage, all while keeping his name fresh in everyone's heads as he carried that guaranteed title match around with him. Luck seemed to be with Jeff Hardy. When it looked like his push was about to be derailed, something would come up to make sure he remained on that path towards the top of the company. Of course, luck has a funny way of changing when you least expect it to, and when it does, watch out.
Kenny and I were sitting in the car, waiting, as time slowly passed by. It must've been around 10, maybe even 11pm, at that point, and we had no idea how long this was going to take. I did know we were going to be there as long as it took, though. I couldn't have talked Kenny out of it, no matter what. By this point, the air reeked of weed smoke and alcohol. Kenny always did feel that he thought better when he was high. I just wanted some drinks in my system to calm my nerves a bit. In between our seats sat the reminders of why we were here.. Diego's flag (in gang life, a "flag" is a bandana, or a "rag" as some may call it) wrapped around the handle of a brand new Ruger pistol.
Again, looking back on things, I'm extremely disappointed in myself. I should've known better. I really should've known better. There I was, though, once again, and now, alcohol had been introduced to the mix. I was faded, and my mind was racing in multiple directions all at once. I couldn't help but think about Diego. I thought about how I was the last person to talk to him before he died. I thought about how I felt at his funeral, watching people cry and break down all around me. I thought about how I felt when I first saw him in his casket. He looked so peaceful. The rage was building up within me, and I knew that Kenny was going through the same thing. Kenny was about as big of a "talker" as you'd ever be likely to meet in your life, and the fact that he had been quiet for almost the entire time we were sitting there said volumes more than any string of sentences ever could.
It took a while, but we saw someone walk out of the house we had been watching for the last who-knows-how-long. Almost immediately, we realized that it was who we were there for. We continued watching as he got into a car.. sure enough, a blue Cutlass Supreme.. and then started driving off. As soon as he started driving, Kenny started to follow. We were close enough to make sure we could see where he was going, but far enough away to not make it obvious. Eventually, the Cutty pulled up to the curb of a small stretch of houses. He was parked in front of a somewhat run-down place, and the house on either side sat empty with a "For Sale" sign in the yard. The car turned off, and the driver's side door opened up. When he stepped out, of the car, I noticed how the moonlight reflected off of the yard's grass with an eerie glow, almost as if it were a flashlight, and the world was a kid preparing to tell a ghost story on a camping trip.
"Let's go" were the words Kenny whispered that set the night's wheels in motion. With that, he and I slowly and quietly opened our doors and got out. We started walking across the street as our "target" closed his door and walked towards the back of his car. That's when he noticed us. He immediately reached under his shirt, obviously looking to shoot first, but we had him sized up already.
The first pull of the trigger almost seemed to be in slow motion. That, mixed with the alcohol-fueled haze I was in at the moment, meant that I didn't even hear the gun go off the first time. I saw the bullet pierce flesh, and I was nearly blinded by blood splatter in my eyes. The "slow motion" effect wore off after that. The 2nd and 3rd shots were as loud as you'd expect them to be. He had already hit the ground before the trigger was pulled a 2nd time, but the last 2 shots were.. well, I guess you could call them "exclamation points", of sorts. To be honest with you, I don't think he was even alive once the 2nd shot hit him. We ran back to the car and sped off into the darkness. Someone's luck ran out that night.
While we're on the subject of people's luck running out on them, that brings us back to Jeff Hardy. As expected, he qualified for this year's edition of Money In The Bank at WrestleMania. He even had the Intercontinental Title still, which he hadn't defended since he faced Razor Ramon on an episode of Prime Time Wrestling in November of 1992. I remember that match as if it were yesterday. Look it up on YouTube if you can find it. It was a 20-minute classic, and it was the match that ushered in the WWE "main event style", where each man gets to kick out of the other's finishing move. Anyway, things were going good for Jeff Hardy.
Enter "The Highlight Reel".
In what appeared to be merely a way to hype Money In The Bank more (and maybe, at that time, it was just that), Jeff appeared as Chris Jericho's guest on "The Highlight Reel". Even though it was a face-hosted show with a face guest, the expected trash talking ensued, and the segment ended with Jericho being hit with a Twist Of Fate. This gave us our 1st IC Title match in almost 15-and-a-half years, with Hardy defending the title against Jericho on the next episode of Raw. We, as fans, couldn't have asked for a better way to hype MitB.. take 2 of the bigger names in the match, and even though they're on the same "side", put them up against each other a mere 3 weeks before they climbed ladders in Orlando, and then add the IC Title into the mix. It helped that neither of them was Santino Marella in the ring, so the match was guaranteed to be good, at the very least. Seriously.. Santino fucking sucks as a wrestler, people.
When the match was over, and Chris Jericho was YOUR new Intercontinental Champion, a few eyebrows were raised from members of the almighty IWC, but most people chalked it up to the fact that Jeff was going to be moved beyond the "midcard title" level, and be kept towards the top of the company, starting by grabbing that briefcase at WrestleMania. Jeff Hardy fans went to sleep Monday night not realizing that their wrestling world was about to be changed overnight. When they woke up Tuesday morning, hopefully they brushed their teeth and washed their faces, and maybe even ate something for breakfast. A bowl of Apple Jacks or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, perhaps. Maybe even a glass of orange juice on the side. Some toast, maybe. After they finished eating and took care of the dishes, they probably decided to hit up the internet and see what was going on in the world. That's when they saw it.
Breaking News: Jeff Hardy Suspended For 2nd Wellness Policy Violation
Wait.. what? They clicked the link and went on to read that Jeff's loss to Jericho the night before was due to the suspension, and that due to the suspension being of the 60-day variety, Jeff would be removed from the WrestleMania card altogether. He was on his 2nd strike, with the 3rd strike being the one that would lead to his automatic release from the company. Just like that, Jeff's push to the moon was put to an end. Just like that, he became a walking, talking, living, breathing drug punchline, without people even knowing just exactly what it was that led to his violation. Hell, things didn't get any better for him days later when his home burned to the ground, killing his dog in the process.
When he returns to the company, he'll need to do some serious work in getting a lot of his fanbase back. People have turned their backs on him due to decisions he made in his personal life that they feel are "stupid", "selfish", "immature", or even "funny". I highly doubt he'll return to the company at the same level he was at when he got suspended. Hell, as a bit of a "lesson", they may even have him return on Smackdown or ECW, which many people feel are the "lesser" shows. Whatever happens, Jeff Hardy is a case of how luck can show up quickly, and disappear even quicker. It really is a fickle thing, not really caring if it arrives at a good time or leaves at a bad time. Personally, I wish Jeff Hardy the best, and I hope that he can get his life straightened out before its too late and his luck runs out, as well.
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