Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The "James Storm Era" begins in TNA



"Cowboy" James Storm is one of a handful of wrestlers to have debuted on the very first TNA event in 2002 and still remain in 2011. His hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to the TNA brand was rewarded with his first world heavyweight championship victory last week.

This is the first singles championship of any kind for Storm, who has been seen throughout his career as a tag team specialist. In an era in wrestling where tag teams have faded from prominence, Storm has been an intregal part of two of the best teams of the last decade.

He initially made his name in TNA with "Wildcat" Chris Harris in the tag team America's Most Wanted. They were two young, popular guys, who helped redefine tag team wrestling in the early days of TNA. The duo eventually turned heel and added an additional layer to their presentation. This is around the time Storm developed the beer-drinking aspect to his character. He would come to the ring with a beer bottle and usually wound up smashing it into somebody's head before stealing a victory.

America's Most Wanted broke up and Harris and Storm began feuding. Just about everybody saw big things out of Chris Harris and saw James Storm as just being there. After dominating the feud, Harris bolted for WWE. After a forgettable run there, Harris is nowhere to be found. His former partner is now the top wrestler in the number 2 promotion in the world.

In 2007, James Storm and Robert Roode were floundering. Storm was on the verge of becoming a midcard comedy heel, coming off his feud with Eric Young over a self-created "Beer Drinking Championship." Roode had recently turned heel and didn't really have anybody to feud with. He was in danger of just becoming another person there.

The two formed a team that combined their two characters - Beer Money. The beer-drinking country roots of Storm and the Wall-Street focused aspect of Roode's character. They were instantly hated and became multiple-time tag champs.

A funny thing happens in wrestling with the best heels. They always become faces. It's not on their own terms - the fans appreciate how good they are at their job and begin to respect them. That's what happened with the team of Beer Money.

As the summer turned to fall and the build to TNA's biggest event of the year - Bound For Glory - began in earnest, the big story was the sudden rise of Bobby Roode. He had emerged as the frontrunner in a points-style tournament system of matches held over the previous months, with the winner receiving a shot for the championship at BFG.

Roode won the tournament and received his match against Kurt Angle. After being heavily hyped for several weeks, Roode came up short in the match. In a bit of controversy, Roode's arm was under the ropes and Angle held onto the ropes for leverage while pinning Roode. Both of those facts should call for the referee to break the count.

Through some sort of legal loophole in the contract, Roode did not receive another shot at Angle. Storm challenged Angle instead. The match was made for the first episode of Impact Wrestling after BFG. The video above is from that match.

Storm's ascension to the top of TNA is very interesting and leaves the door open for a multitude of possibilities. Bobby Roode is happy for his friend shortly after winning, but will he want a shot against him? What about the rest of his Fortune stablemates, AJ Styles (himself a multiple-time TNA Champion) and Frankie Kazarian? Will Kurt Angle get his rematch? What about Bully Ray? Ken Anderson? Jeff Hardy? The list goes on and on and on and on...

Tune in every Thursday at 9 p.m. on SpikeTV to see what happens next.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Aftermath of 10-10-10; Looking at Impact Wrestling's last year (Part 2)

Total Nonstop Action wrestling recently held its biggest pay per view of the year, Bound For Glory 2011. Their version of WrestleMania, all of their top storylines are either settled or started each year. Last year's BFG, held on the ominous-sounding TEN-TEN-TEN (aka October 10, 2010), saw the formation of the Immortal faction. Click here to read part 1 of this blog, looking at the formation of this super-group, which merged with Ric Flair's Fortune faction and also took power of TNA away from Dixie Carter.

I'm going to first look at some gaps in logic with this storyline initially, then give a brief synopsis of 2011 in TNA and the Immortal faction. Finally, I'll look at some wrestlers that got a boost from being associated (either with or against) Immortal and who it hurt.

Immortal began when Abyss turned heel under the premise that "They" told him to and that "They" would reveal themselves on "Tennnnn Tennnnn Tennnn!" In order to turn heel, Abyss had to betray his new friend Hulk Hogan. He savagely bloodied Hogan in the ring, even attempting to seemingly choke him to death.

So, two months later, Hogan is the leader of Immortal, who was telling Abyss what to do. So, Abyss attacked and betrayed Hogan in order to join a group that is led by Hogan.

During Abyss' reign of terror, he assaulted TNA President Dixie Carter. Visibly shaken, she went to Bischoff for help. He brought forth some papers to sign so that they could prosecute Abyss to the fullest extent of the law. She signed them without reading them.

That was not a good idea. Turns out those papers gave Immortal control of TNA. I'm no law expert, but I really don’t think something like that would hold up in court. She signed those papers under false pretenses, and it was all captured on film and broadcast to millions of people on SpikeTV.

I could maybe overlook that aspect somewhat if lawyers weren't such a huge part of the angle in the beginning. As soon as Immortal took over, Dixie got her legal team assembled and went to work getting her company back. Nothing happened.

The first roadblock to the Immortal storyline was actually completely out of their control. A group of heels is only as strong as the faces they go against. Kurt Angle was being kept off television in anticipation of his feud with Jeff Jarrett. Rob Van Dam, the man who never actually lost the title being held by his former friend Jeff Hardy, was being used to help elevate the EV2.0 storyline, and Pope & Samoa Joe... Don't even get me started on that.

So, the first challenger to try and destroy Immortal was none other than Ken Anderson. Except for one little problem: Jeff Hardy hit him with a chair and gave him a concussion. The top face in the promotion is now out of commission and we have a pay per view coming up.

What does TNA do? Create dissension in their top heel group barely a month after the formation of it. Matt Morgan and Douglas Williams leave Immortal and become the top faces in the company. Morgan goes on to main event two pay per views against Hardy, while Williams feuds with the lower members of Immortal over the next few months.

A new character who had recently debuted in TNA after the formation of Immortal was Crimson. In January, he ominously tells Immortal that "They" are coming, in a similar manner in which Immortal was formed. Rumors start that this is the return of TNA's most famous stable the "Main Event Mafia." A 2009 heel group, the faction consisted of Sting, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner.

The rumors seem to be true when Angle and Steiner return to the company. Angle had been on storyline sabbatical, while Steiner actually signed a new contract with the company. Sting's and Nash's contracts had expired, which is why they were written out of the storyline initially, but both were still on good terms with the company. Booker T had left the company over a year ago and his status was unknown.

The Main Event Mafia storyline never came to fruition, as Sting had not renegotiated a deal in time, and Booker T and Nash both signed deals with WWE. Scrambling to come up with a Plan B, TNA hastily turned the Fortune faction (AJ Styles, Robert Roode, James Storm, and Frankie Kazarian) face.

So, Immortal was formed and had a face-off with Fortune initially. The crowd responded to it in a big way, only for them to swerve everybody by joining the two groups together. Then, TNA began promoting a faction where most of the talent wasn't under contract yet. When that didn't work out, they broke up Fortune and Immortal after less than five months together.

TNA loves to do work-shoots, which means they like to create staged events based on real events. TNA airs on SpikeTV. The network has helped finance the company in certain aspects, like paying for production costs and certain wrestler contracts. As a result, they have some input into what goes on the show. As a result of this, "The Network" begins causing problems for Hogan and Bischoff. One of The Network's first big things they do is name Sting the number one contender for Jeff Hardy's heavyweight title.

The Network representative is scheduled to debut soon. It would make the most sense for the rep to be Dixie Carter. She lost her company, so she joined up with the Network to get her company back. No, turns out the representative is Mick Foley. He causes a couple headaches for Immortal before he gets tired of working for TNA and gets out of his contract. The network representative idea is then dropped.

Anderson, initially the top face in TNA to battle Immortal, joins the group in the summer of 2011. He is ousted from the group by the fall. Scott Steiner also joined Immortal after initially coming back to destroy the group. Kurt Angle also illogically joins Immortal. After a months-long feud with Jeff Jarrett, which involved Kurt's ex-wife Karen Jarrett (who, as we can tell, is now Jeff's wife), Angle uses Immortal to win the TNA title and joins the same group as the Jarretts.

Shortly before the 2011 Bound For Glory, Immortal is beating down Anderson. Who comes out to save him? Abyss. Yeah, the guy who turned heel to initially set up Immortal is now fighting against the group.

Sting has spent the last year fighting to help Dixie Carter regain control of TNA. A match is set up for Bound For Glory against Hogan, with control of the company at stake. Sting wins. Dixie Carter owns TNA again. Immortal comes down to attack Sting, only to be fended off by Hogan! He's a face again.

Abyss and Hogan, the two most shocking heel turns to begin Immortal, are now back to being good guys. Dixie Carter is in control of TNA. Jeff Hardy is a face again. It's almost like the last year never happened.

So, there's how the last year played out, roughly. Now, let's look at who was helped and hurt by Immortal.

Helped:

Jeff Jarrett. This was the only heel turn that made sense. He explained it with conviction and got people to really hate him. In real life, Jarrett founded TNA. It recently became part of the storyline a few years ago. In real life, Dixie Carter took control of the company. Jarrett joined together with Immortal because Dixie Carter took his company from him. I honestly feel like Jarrett was such a strong heel that they turned him into more of a comedy character so that he wouldn't upstage Hogan, Bischoff, and Hardy. His heat got so intense, that it made no sense to have him do his silly mixed-martial arts skits to prove he was a better fighter than Angle.

Matt Morgan. He was a middle-of-the-card heel who was positioned as the 7-foot "muscle" of Immortal. He then broke off into one of the top good guys in the company, a position he stayed in for a better part of the year. He's still there, but not as hot as he was. He's in a much better spot than he was last year.

Crimson. He was nobody last year. He came into TNA as a new wrestler and was initially aligned with what was supposed to be the Main Event Mafia. He then went on a Goldberg-like winning streak, that he is still on. He is positioned to be one of the top stars of the future.

Gunner. When Jarrett started doing his MMA-themed gimmick, he came out with an entourage of people around him, just like MMA fighters. Two of them were independent wresters Gunner and Murphy. After that ended, Gunner and Murphy became a tag team. Murphy has faded from the scene, but Gunner has turned into one of the top young guys in the company. I wouldn't be surprised if he is a top contender for the TNA championship by the time we get to the 2012 Bound For Glory. And it's all due to his association with Immortal.

Bully Ray. The former Brother Ray turned heel and broke up his successful tag team with Devon. The two had a very intense feud for a few months, until Jeff Hardy was sent home by management (click here to find out why). After that, Ray was brought into Immortal to essentially replace Hardy. He has gone on to have one of the best runs of his career, and definitely has earned a championship run. His work lately has been nothing short of amazing. One of the MVPs of TNA in 2011.

Who it hurt:

"The Pope" D’Angelo Dinero. He was one of the breakout stars of 2010. After a forgetful run in WWE, he popped into TNA and became an instant hit with the audience. He joined up with Sting and Kevin Nash, seemingly as heels. The storyline twist here was that Nash and Sting were actually the good guys, which would then mean that the Pope was a good guy as well. Not exactly, as he stayed heel after the Immortal storyline began. He has literally done nothing of importance this last year. If TNA released him from his contract, I wouldn't lose any sleep. They have literally destroyed any momentum he had and turned him into just another guy there.

Samoa Joe. See what I just wrote for The Pope. When writing the book titled "Biggest Mistakes in the History of TNA" the handling of Samoa Joe will be the biggest chapter. Not just the last year, but the six years he has been a part of TNA has seemingly been an experiment to see if they can destroy one of the best wrestlers they could possibly have. They have pretty much succeeded.

Rob Van Dam. At this point, it's hard to bury RVD. He has a built-in audience from his years in ECW and WWE. But, when you look at his 2010 and his 2011, he is definitely not where he once was. He held the TNA championship for most of 2010. He lost the title without ever being defeated. He had a ready-made feud with his former best friend and current TNA title holder Jeff Hardy. They kept holding off on that match and waited too long. Secondary, lame, storylines had taken the luster off of RVD. Their long-awaited showdown was a forgettable matchup shown on Impact Wrestling for free.

* * *

That, in a nutshell, has been the last year for TNA. Did it all make sense? No, not really. Was it entertaining? Most of it was, I think. I'm not really a fan of "Ownership of the company" angles, which is one of my biggest complaints against WWE right now, with their Triple H/John Lauranitas deal going on. I feel like the main attraction should be the wrestlers and their pursuit of the World Heavyweight Championship.

Hopefully now that the company is back in the hands of Dixie Carter, she and all the other authority figures will fade to the background and let the wrestlers take the focus. You can have an on-air authority figure, but that person doesn't need to become a weekly character.

We already have some interesting developments to start the next year for TNA and Impact Wrestling. Tune in every Thursday at 9 p.m. on SpikeTV to see the start of the build to next year's BFG.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Little Acorns


This song has a nice message. Take all your problems and rip them apart.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers, "I'm With You"

I wrote a review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers latest album and submitted it to Concord University's student newspaper, The Concordian. I had planned on writing about the album more in-depth here in my blog, but decided to send it in instead. Never pass up an opportunity to get your name out there in print, if you can.

As you can see from my byline, the album received a rating of 8 out of 10. I don't know where that came from, as I didn't send in a numerical rating. I guess they thought that from the tone of my words that I thought the album was 80 percent good. I'll go with it.

"Guest Writer" is the eighth title I have had beside my name in The Concordian newspaper over the years. I started as a Staff Writer and eventually became Editor-in-Chief, holding just about every other title in between.

If anybody else wants to submit an article or letter to the editor, email it to concordian[at]concord.edu for consideration. The paper is printed every Wednesday, but for deadline purposes try to have it sent in by the weekend before the print deadline.

* * *

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with their first album in six years. Released August 26, and debuting at number two on the Billboard Charts, I'm With You can best be described as the Chili Peppers you remember, but just a little different.

The familiar sound is there, but the difference comes from new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, and drummer Chad Smith after long-time guitarist John Frusciante left in 2009.

Klinghoffer is not as experimental as Frusciante, and thus his guitar blends in more as opposed to taking over, as was the case with RHCP’s last album Stadium Arcadium.

Buzz for the 14-track album has come from their interestingly-titled lead single "The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie." What's the song about? With lyrics like "I want to rock you like the 80s," "Who said three is a crowd?" and, if you listen to the edited radio version, "[long pause] blocking isn't allowed," you can kind of get the idea.

The aforementioned blocking is the only direct reference to genitalia on the album. Indirect references abound, though. A RHCP song is usually about either sex or drugs, or sometimes sex and drugs. That theme continues on I'm With You, although with a slightly more mature outlook. Gone are the days of releasing a song called "Party on Your Pussy," which they did in 1987. Now they keep it a little more discreet, with lyrics like "I can't resist the smell of your seduction" on "Did I Let You Know."

On a serious note, the theme of maturity is there on other songs. With two band members in their late 40's and one in his early 50's, after a lifestyle of hard living, the themes of death and redemption are evident on songs like "Monarchy of Roses," "Brendan's Death Song," and "Meet Me At the Corner."

"Brendan's Death Song," in particular, is one of the strongest songs on the album. It's stripped down, musically and vocally, and shows the rawness of Kiedis' voice.

The piano has never been an instrument of choice for RHCP, but that changes on this album. "Happiness Loves Company," the best track on I'm With You, features an upbeat, fast piano track.

In his autobiography, Kiedis writes that he initially started rapping because he couldn’t sing well. Over the years, he learned how to sing better and his trademark rap skills took a backseat. He goes back to what brought him to the game on the track "Even You Brutus?" as he raps about a girl who breaks his heart. The lyrics are pretty sophomoric ("She was the cutest thing that I ever did see/Drink in her hand and I don't mean tea"), but if you like old-school RHCP, this song is for you.

I'm With You is a solid album, one you could almost consider to be a debut album for the "New" Red Hot Chili Peppers. They are a little older, a little more mature, but the sound is unmistakably Chili Pepper-esque, but with a new twist.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Aftermath of 10-10-10; Looking at Impact Wrestling's last year

The Total Nonstop Action wrestling company changed in a huge way in 2010. Two big names joined the TNA company in Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Wrestling fan or not, you know who Hogan is. Most know Bischoff. He is a former President of World Championship Wrestling, the chief competition to World Wrestling Entertainment. After WCW folded 10 years ago, Bischoff briefly appeared for WWE. 

[Click here to see a small blog I posted in 2009 after their signing was announced]

We are currently headed toward TNA's biggest event of the year, Bound For Glory. It is their version of WrestleMania. All of the big angles and stories build for a year and culminate at BFG. This year's event features Kurt Angle defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Bobby Roode and - in a rematch from one of WCW's biggest matches ever - Sting versus Hulk Hogan. If Hogan loses, his Immortal group will give ownership of TNA back to Dixie Carter.

If you don't keep up with TNA, you're probably saying to yourself, "What? His Immortal group will give ownership of TNA back to Dixie Carter? What is Immortal? Who is Dixie Carter? Is 57-year-old Hulk Hogan really wrestling 52-year-old Sting?"

Immortal is the group led by Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. Immortal formed at last year's Bound For Glory event, held on October 10, 2010. Or, as the booming voiceover guy would exclaim - "Ten! Ten! Ten!"

It appears as though we're coming up to the culmination of the Immortal angle. I'm going to look at the last year of TNA programming and see how this Immortal storyline has progressed, if it's made any sense, and who it has helped or hurt. The first part will focus on the build and formation of Immortal. 


The Backstory 

Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff debuted in TNA in January of 2010. In an additional surprise, 16-time World Champion Ric Flair also debuted on the same day. Hogan and Bischoff initially debuted as "tweeners," meaning we weren't sure if they were good guys (faces) or bad guys (heels). They eventually settled into a face role. Flair came in as a heel and - in a pretty big surprise - turned TNA's biggest face AJ Styles heel with him.

The story told itself - Ric Flair hasn't liked Hulk Hogan for decades. He still doesn't like him. He assembled a collection of wrestlers to take Hogan out of TNA. This continued throughout 2010. The group came to be known as "Fortune," a play on Flair's previous group the Four Horsemen. The initial group consisted of AJ Styles, Bobby Roode, James Storm, Frankie Kazarian, Matt Morgan, and Doug Williams.

Hogan formed a bond with a wrestler named Abyss. He was originally a brooding, evil, amalgamation of Kane and Mankind. He eventually became more human-like and his partnership with Hogan made him one of the top faces in the company.

Other faces in TNA: "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero, Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam

Other heels in TNA: Sting, Kevin Nash, Ken Anderson

Dixie Carter is the real-life owner of TNA. She is not a wrestling character and had no wrestling background. Until 2010 she was never mentioned as an on-screen character. People knew she existed; she just wasn't a part of the show. In an effort to "shoot," to appear more "real," she made a couple appearances and, as the build to the 10-10-10 Bound For Glory approaches, became a recurring character. 

The Build 

For most of the year, Rob Van Dam had been the World Heavyweight Champion. As summer turned to fall, we found RVD attacked backstage with some serious injuries. He had to be stripped of the title. A series of tournament matches would be held over the next couple months, with the finals culminating at Bound For Glory.

In a shocking twist, Abyss turned on Hulk Hogan and was revealed as the culprit behind the RVD attack. When asked why, he said that "They" told him to. Who are they? He won't say, but noted that They would reveal themselves on a certain date - "Tennnn! Tennnn! Tennnn!" That was the date of Bound For Glory, October 10, 2010.

Jeff Jarrett had formed a bond with Samoa Joe. They were involved in a months-long feud with Sting and Kevin Nash. In an interesting twist, Sting & Nash recruited D'Angelo Dinero to their side. They claimed to be fighting for the good of the company. Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, they claimed, were a cancer to TNA. Joe & Jarrett didn't see that and had to be taken care of as well.

Hulk Hogan had been seen only sporadically on TNA programming the last few months. He had been having back problems and had several surgeries throughout the year. Sting, Nash, and Dinero challenged Joe, Jarrett, and Hogan to a match at Bound For Glory. A few weeks before the event, it came out that Hogan would not be able to compete and it was instead a 2-on-3 match.


Abyss had been wreaking havoc on TNA, even assaulting Dixie Carter. She asked Bischoff for help. He handed her some papers to sign so that they could file charges against Abyss. She signed them without looking at them. 

10-10-10 

Tensions build throughout the night. In the first twist of the night, Jeff Jarrett walks out on Samoa Joe during his match with Sting, Nash, and Dinero.

The main event comes. It is a 3-way match between Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, and Ken Anderson. At this point, Anderson had become a face. So, there were 3 faces in this match for the vacant world championship.

Near the end of the match, Eric Bischoff comes out and looks like he's turning heel. Only one man can stop him - Hulk Hogan hobbles out on crutches and enters the ring. As the two face off, Ken Anderson and Kurt Angle are on the ground. Jeff Hardy stands up and looks at them. Hogan hands him a crutch. Hardy hits Anderson and pins him for the TNA Championship.

Abyss and Jeff Jarrett come out as well. They are "They." Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, and Abyss stand tall to end the biggest night of the year.






But wait... 

The group is dubbed "Immortal" at the next episode of TNA Impact. In addition to having the TNA Championship, Immortal also has control of TNA. Turns out those papers Dixie Carter signed without reading first gave them control of the company.

Their celebration is cut short, however, as Ric Flair and Fortune come to the ring. It looks like we have a new group to counteract Immortal. Not so fast, though. Flair extends his arms. Hogan embraces him. These enemies who have feuded for the last year are on the same page now. Immortal and Fortune have joined forces.

Dixie Carter is seen backstage trying to reason with Sting and Kevin Nash. They appear to be leaving the building. She apologizes for not believing them about Hogan and Bischoff. They tell her that it's too late for apologies and they are done.

Who can stop Immortal and help Dixie Carter regain her company? In the next entry, we'll take a look at Immortal's reign of terror.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Princeton; 10 years later (getting settled)

[Part 4 of a series of blog entries looking at the first year of my life spent in Princeton, West Virginia, in 2001. I'll look at my home life, school, pop culture, relationships, basically everything going on in my life one decade ago. Click here to read part 1. Click here to read part 2. Click here to read part 3.]

As we all know by now, my mom met a guy named Mark. He lived in Princeton. We wound up moving to Princeton to live with him. He was then sentenced to over a year in jail, shortly after we moved there. The two of us are now in Princeton by ourselves.

Mark lived in a trailer. More specifically, a trailer park. I had never lived in a trailer or trailer park before. I had some initial reservations about it at first, just due to the negative connotations involved. I will say this about it now, that trailer was bigger than the apartment I presently live in and it had two bathrooms.

Mark had lived there with a woman and her young daughter. I was getting the daughter's room. At this point, I still had not warmed up to the idea of living in Princeton. But, I had at least accepted that I had to. But, that didn't make me like it any more. I hated the idea of moving into that room. I didn't touch anything or move anything to "make it mine" for probably the first 8 or 9 months. That meant the giant poster of horses running through an open field stayed up. I wasn't ready to do anything to imply that I enjoyed living there.

As I mentioned in the previous post about music, I didn't do much at this point. I hadn't met any friends and would sit in the living room and watch television all day. Once or twice a week I would mow the lawn. Doing this led to my first-ever job.

I was mowing the lawn when these two women who lived 2 & 3 trailers down from me walked by. They waved and I waved back. I went back to work. I finished up and went to the back yard, where I saw my mom talking to the two women. One was named Jessica. I don't remember the others name. They wanted me to mow their lawns.

Jessica's husband was named Chris. He paid me $20 to mow his lawn. I remember when he handed me the money he said something about drugs, like jokingly telling me not to go buy any pot with it. We'll talk more about those two in a later entry.

Living in Princeton meant we needed to find out where everything was. We first moved down there and I needed a haircut. We had only been there a few days at that point (Mark hadn't gone to jail yet). Mark just had a buzz cut & kept the clippers at his dad's house. My mom said, "You want me to cut your hair?" This was back when I liked my hair pretty short and the length was bugging me. I said yes and she proceeded to cut my hair.

For the next haircut, we found a place off Stafford Drive (the main street in Princeton) called Tropical Sun. They did hair, tanning, and body piercings. I got my hair cut there for the next few years (and in 2002, got my lip pierced there). They eventually moved to a different location in Princeton. I recall getting my last haircut there in 2004. They eventually shut down.

One of the first things we found in Princeton was the library. We got signed up for library cards and checked out some books. My mom has always had this weird thing with the library - she loads up on books. Like she thinks she's not allowed to go back, or something. Like she thinks, "I have X amount of weeks, I can probably read X amount of books."

I don't think like that, so we have different library reading patterns. I picked out my two books and she loaded up on like 9 or something. Within a day and a half, I was done reading. She didn't want to go back to the library, since she wasn't done reading. So, I waited. And waited. And waited. Going to the library together turned out to not really be a hobby the two of us shared after that.

Speaking of reading, I recall reading the Bluefield Daily Telegraph a lot back then. One of the first "events" of the summer of 2001 was the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. I read about it in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

I finally started to accept that living in Princeton was going to happen for a while when it was time to get registered in Princeton's school system. The thing that I hated the most about this was that I was going to get a new lunch number. For those who don't know, you would say your lunch number, ex. 1234, and that number would get charged for lunch. You would then get your lunch bill at the end of the month.

In the third grade, I received a lunch number that I would keep until the fifth grade. For the fifth grade, I moved to a different school in the same county (Ravenswood to Ripley). They said I could just keep the same lunch number. I moved back to Ravenswood in the sixth grade. When they were putting me in the system, they told me I could just keep the same lunch number. The high school just took the middle school numbers. So, I had the same lunch number since the third grade.

It's something little, but at the time I was pretty upset about losing it.

The day we went to the school, I guess we had stopped at a Rite-Aid or something, because I had a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated in my hands. We went to Wendy's to eat lunch. I don't remember what I had, but my mom ordered a chicken salad. To say she was disappointed by the salad would be an understatement. She ranted and raved the entire meal about how bad it was and then swore off Wendys. "I will never eat at Wendys again," she said. To this day, I don't believe she has been back. And, I doubt she remembers why. If you ask her if she likes Wendys, she'll probably say, "Nah, not a big fan." If you ask why, she'll probably say, "I'm not sure. I just don't like it." But, I know why. And now you all do.

When we got to the school, they looked up my records to switch over and found out that there was another Chris Slater in the Jackson County school system. He was in elementary school. There are a few Slaters in Jackson County. My mom married a guy with the last name Slater, so we were only related by marriage. Kids my age, I knew John and Andy Slater. I didn't like them, but I knew them.

We got everything switched over and I was officially a Princeton High School student. We got back in that shitty red truck I've written about before. I picked up my issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I looked through it and learned that Eddie Guerrero had checked into rehab for alcoholism.

It's interesting the stuff you remember. Wrestling has always been a big part of my life, and it was in 2001. We'll go more into the state of wrestling in 2001 in a future entry.