IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Can I Ever Go Back?
By Al Laiman
Jul 13, 2012 - 5:56:08 PM
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IN LAIMAN'S TERMS: Can I Ever Go Back?
It seems like longer ago that I was following the Indy scene avidly. Making the trek out to shows at least once a month and watching the grapplers I felt better personified what professional wrestling should be, it was an addiction. I couldn't get enough of it. I sat and cheered through shows that would still be in my DVD collection, had certain things not happened...
When I made the switch from watching the Indies to wrestling in them, I met a lot of great people. I traveled all over three different states to perform; sometimes in front of ten people, sometimes in front of two hundred. The adrenaline rush is unmatched, the feeling of taking that perfect move in the ring unbelievable and impossible to explain to someone who has never done it. I'd probably still be going out to support my friends, had certain things not happened...
As I watch guys I followed on the Indies finding successes, it takes me back to a nostalgic time where a three hour road trip satiated my thirst for great wrestling on a monthly basis. Some of the best names in the business wrestled in those gyms and are now on television winning championships. Even a few I was fortunate enough to call a friend have made it, one of them recently winning a championship. I can watch from my television set, and it's like I've never left the business. I still feel right there, watching the action and commenting on it for all of you.
However, something's changed in the last two years. Something is a lot different since I moved out to Minneapolis in the winter of 2010. There's a possibility that it may never be the same for me, and I find that kind of sad.
Most of the names in the places I followed are now unrecognizable. Many have moved on to better things, especially WWE, TNA, or ROH. However, even in the latter two, reading the results leaves me with a bunch of names and no faces. While I was thrilled to see Shiima Xion winning a major wrestling championship, half the names on the card left me with no recollection whatsoever. Only a few years ago, I knew a bunch of the roster, some of them personally. What happened?
Have you ever lost something that meant a lot to you? Did you ever associate a place or event with someone you love, only to lose that person? Did you ever find it difficult to go back? Do you try to step back and let it go, returning to that place or event, but all of the memories come rushing back, and you're too overwhelmed with emotion to proceed?
That's how indy shows are for me. I've been to all of one since the passing of my late friend Larry Sweeney. He left us in April of last year, and I was 1100 miles away and unable to visit the memorial shows. Once I moved back to Pennsylvania, there was an opportunity to wrestle for a re-boot of a company for which I had wrestled before. Everything came back and I felt all right, and was even considering wrestling again on a regular basis.
Chris took his life almost a year to the day that Larry did.
Before that show on which I wrestled in October of this past year, the last Indy show to which I'd been that I just watched as a spectator saw the return of Larry Sweeney against Christopher Daniels. It was one of the greatest wrestling nights I'd ever had.
My return, and likely last, wrestling show on which I performed, one of the roster members who left a lasting impact on me by his kindness and behavior passed away, and I had to watch his tribute on YouTube because I was unable to make the show.
I gotta be honest, I don't know if I could ever go back. I handled WWE okay, but that's so impersonal. Nobody can hear you, you don't get to meet anyone, and for the most part, I don't know any of them personally. An Indy show, that'd be something different...
I haven't been to one as a viewer since one of the most charismatic individuals I've ever met strutted back and forth in the ring, using his promo abilities to garner the kind of heat most heels today wish they could conjure. I haven't been near a wrestling ring since one of the nicest people I've ever met was taken away from us, and I was unable to properly pay my respects. I don't know if I'm okay with this.
I don't know if I could handle getting attached again; to a new wrestler as a fan, to an old wrestler as a former fan and former confidant. I don't know if I could sit through a show and then handle another one being taken from us far too soon. I don't know if I could be near that ring and not think about how it just isn't right. Every time I read about wrestling, I have to remember the stories about the jackasses. I have to remember the times I was shot on, treated like shit, and bullied around by asshole veterans or hotheads. I have to remember how Larry told me it was a dirty business and I should never get involved with it. Then I have to wonder why such an amazing person like Larry Sweeney or Chris Arkadian isn't here anymore, and then I have to stop thinking about it.
I didn't listen to Larry that day. I have that interview on film in full, where after I told him he was my inspiration, he told me not to say that. He didn't want to be responsible for a kid getting into the business. As he said adamantly: "It's a bad business." I never got it until now.
I don't regret spending my time in the wrestling business. It enabled me to give you readers on LOP a different perspective than you normally receive. But after receiving many invites to attend wrestling shows on the Indy circuit involving people I know, I've always found a way out of it. After receiving one to attend a new show with nobody I know, I had to confront the fact that I really don't know if I could ever go back.
I don't know if that'll ever change. One tribute tattoo on my arm is enough. Another will soon join it when the time is right. I don't know if I could handle needing another one.
For followers of Jaded Hope, if you haven't seen it yet, check out the best of Season 2 here. This week's new episode is posted at the top, as per usual: