Thursday, May 29, 2014

Paul Heyman DVD looks good



Paul Heyman has long been one of the most interesting men in the history of professional wrestling. He has had a long and storied career, starting as a photographer for wrestling magazines in the early 80s, becoming an onscreen manager/character in the late 80s and early 90s, before achieving his greatest fame as the owner and head creative writer for Extreme Championship Wrestling in the 90s up until it folded in 2001.

He immediately joined WWE after ECW went out of business. Heyman and WWE have had a tumultuous off-and-on relationship in the 13 years since. He first came back as an onscreen announcer before settling into an onscreen authority role character and manager. He also had a couple stints on the WWE creative team, helping craft storylines and matches.

From what you can see in the trailer, it looks like we're going to get the complete story. It features comments from people who really love Heyman: Tommy Dreamer and Mick Foley, to name a few and it also features people who didn't like him: Jerry Lawler and Stephanie McMahon, for starters.

I'm eagerly anticipating this 3-disk release from WWE.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Episode 19: Small-town mentality



Here is episode 19 of the podcast. This one is called "Small-town mentality" and that's what we talk about. I look at small-town issues and what happens there. I discuss some things that I have noticed from living in Princeton over the years. I talk about women I see who smoke while they're pregnant. I talk about people who get into bad habits and spend time in jail. On a personal level, I talk about how I'm trying to clean up my life and some issues that recently arose when smoking marijuana. I was at a party and indulged. Then I got weird. What did I do? Recorded myself. It's included in the podcast. 

On the healthy-living note, I was riding my bike for exercise around Princeton recently. I had gone up a huge hill and didn't want to go up the next one, so I got off and walked my bike up said hill. While doing so, I encountered a man pushing a shopping cart full of aluminum cans. We chatted and had a nice moment. I left and began riding my bike down the street. My mind began racing and I thought about what an opportunity this was. I turned my bike around and went searching for him. I eventually found him and began the conversation you will here in the podcast.

Included below first is a partial transcript of me recording myself while high on marijuana. It gets a little weird. To hear the whole story, hit that play button.

* * *

Me high: I smoked some pot earlier. I'm. I'm high. I want to document this to make sure I know what's going on. I'm laying on a couch. I don't know where I'm at. I'm really cold. My head is chilly. People are just outside the door. [door opens] Shhhhhhh. Shhh. Shhh. Somebody just walked past me. They went into another room. They didn't notice me. I'm on a couch. I'm in a house. We're in Athens, I remember we drove too far. I didn't like it. I don't know; see, the thing is... [door opens] hold on, shhhhhh shhh shhhh. Okay, he just walked out the door.

The thing is, I sounded like I was distressed earlier. But, it's meta; I'm above it. I realized that I'm not actually... earlier was a lie. It's... You see... Fuck, it was clever. It really was. Oh, I was above it. Meta. Like, I feel like it's not real. But, it is real. But, really it's not. Parentheses inside of brackets. Oh my God. No, this is good. This is good, go with it. I didn't realize that it was real? Yeah, because they're out there. And, they realize that I've walked away. But, do they really realize it? Because there's two of them and I don't know who they are.

* * *

And that was me kind of out of my mind while smoking pot. I got past it and felt better within a couple hours. 

Below is a partial transcript of my interview with the guy collecting cans. As I mention in the podcast, I say that "collecting cans" is the nice way of saying this guy goes through the trash looking for cans. The first 8 minutes or so are below, the whole interview is about 17 minutes.

* * *

Chris: How long have you lived in Princeton?

Bobby: Shoot. I've been here ever since I was 29... Uhhhhh, no, 18.

Chris: 18. How old are you now?

Bobby: 61.

Chris: 61? And, do you live... Do you have a house around here? Where do you live at?

Bobby: I live across the bridge down there.

Chris: Oh, down...

Bobby: Down on Thorn Street.

Chris: Oh, down on Thorn Street. And, do you... What do you do for a living?

Bobby: [looks at his cans]

Chris: You collect cans?

Bobby: Yeah.

Chris: How much does that get you?

Bobby: I get about $13, $15 a day.

Chris: About $15 collecting cans a day?

Bobby: It's not too bad.

Chris: It's more than I'm making today

Bobby: How much you make a day?

Chris: It depends. I wait tables.

Bobby: Where you work at?

Chris: Outback Steakhouse.

Bobby: I don't know where that's at.

Chris: You know where Walmart's at? It's there.

Bobby: If I come over there, you gonna give me a free steak?

Chris: I'll see what I can do for you. So, do you... And, do you just kind of walk around the streets collecting cans?

Bobby: Yeah, I just walk down the streets collecting metal. Shoot, you can't hardly get a can or metal around here anymore. I'm lucky getting these.

Chris: So, what do you do? Just get them out of the trash or something?

Bobby: Yeah, just different places. Mostly when people throw them away in garbage bags, I open the garbage bag up and get the cans and then close it back up.

Chris: Is that all you do? You don't get any retirement or disability?

Bobby: I get SSI.

Chris: Okay. Where do you take these to after you get them?

Bobby: You know where the railroad museum is down here? I just go right up behind that road and there's a junkyard out there. You ever been out there?

Chris: I know where it's at, I've never been out there though. How long have you been doing this?

Bobby: Doing this? Shoot, I've been doing this since I was 18. 

Chris: Wow. 61 now...

Bobby: Yeah, good little while.

Chris: Yeah. So, even if it's like raining or snowing out?

Bobby: No.

Chris: So, what do you do? Like, when we had that snowstorm, what did you do?

Bobby: Stay in the house. Sometimes, I get out and shovel people's sidewalks.

...

Chris: So, how many hours a day do you go out collecting cans?

Bobby: Oh, I do it all day long.

Chris: So, you just store them in this little area here [points toward open door at apartment complex]. Is this a friend's shed or?

Bobby: If I leave them out here, somebody will see them and grab them like that. I had people do that to me before.

Chris: So, there's more people who go out and collect cans?

Bobby: Yeah, there's about 4 or 5 other guys.

Chris: Wow. So, 4 or 5 other guys competing for Princeton's cans. Do you know them? Are you friendly with them?

Bobby: Oh, I know them. They don't give me no trouble; I'm friendly with them.

Chris: Did anybody ever give you trouble, like they see you on the streets doing this?

Bobby: No. They're just friendly to me. Sometimes they give me money. But, Princeton ain't like it used to be. Seems Princeton has gone downhill.

Chris: What did it used to be like? What was a good thing about it?

Bobby: It was built up. It was a better stage, they used to have more buildings here. I remember when the old Lowes building was across the bridge.

Chris: That's the church now, right? That's what we're talking about?

Bobby: Yeah. And, I wish they had a bluegrass place around here that we could go out and dance. No doping or alcohol, that would be good.

Chris: Yeah. 

Bobby: And, they need to put a shelter in here.

Chris: Are there a lot of homeless people in Princeton?

Bobby: I saw one guy sitting up at the park. He was homeless.

Chris: What caused all the problems in Princeton? Do you know? Like, drugs?

Bobby: I believe it's these prostitutes. They go out and get money and buy drugs. They need to quit that.

Chris: Yeah, they do.

Bobby: They need to get off the streets. The government ought to put them in rehab, or in the army one.

Chris: Yeah, gotta do something. So, 61 now. How long do you see yourself out collecting cans?

Bobby: I don't know. I'll probably do it until I'm about 80 years old, if I live that long. You can't never tell when you're gonna go.

Chris: Yeah, we can only hope to live to 80.

Bobby: Yeah, you've gotta go one of these days.

Chris: On a day-to-day basis, do you enjoy your life?

Bobby: Yeah.

Chris: So, you enjoy waking up, collecting cans, doing what you do.

Bobby: Mmmmm hmmmm.

Chris: Do you think it could be better?

Bobby: It could be better. I wish I could go out here and get a load of them at one time. The trouble with me is I gotta go here and there, here and there, here and there. My feet get wore out.

Chris: So, you walk up and down the street collecting cans?

* * *

And there's more. There is a a lot more included in the footage of me being high. There's so much more to my interview with the old guy collecting cans. There's a whole lot to the whole podcast. Except for the first few minutes; I kind of waste time talking about games on my iPhone. Otherwise, the whole thing is a must-listen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Full Excerpt: My Night In Jail

I released my first book, "B-Sides: rarities and unreleased works, vol. 01" back in December. I'm proud of it and I have heard good things from the people who read it. Basically, the book is a collection of stories that I wrote, either finished or unfinished, over the years. I got a new computer and began going through the files on the old one and realized there was a lot of content there. So, I turned it into a book.

I wrote one original piece specifically for the book, which is what you'll read below. I got arrested for a driving under the influence back in October of last year. Yes, a DUI. Not proud of it, but it happened. If you read the blog regularly and listen to the podcast, correcting that area of my life is something that I have been working on.

I can't help but to write about anything going on in my life, so I did. I actually started writing it the next afternoon once I got out of jail. I finished it about a week later. It is one of many stories included. Click here to see what else is included. A link to purchase "B-Sides" is at the end of the blog.

* * *

"My Night In Jail," 2013

I'm a naturally anxious person. When I realized that older graduates from college were coming back in town for Homecoming, I got nervous. You see, I haven't graduated yet. At 27, I'm older than most of them, and it hurt me to see them come back for a nostalgia trip while this is still my life. So I avoided seeing them on campus. I felt horrible for seeing a familiar face and pretending like I didn't and walking the other way, but it's what I did. 

Friday night, I was feeling dejected about how I had acted earlier. A friend posted on Facebook that he would be at a local bar. A few others liked the status and I saw this as my opportunity to make amends for earlier. I would see people and interact with them, with the added bonus of a little "liquid courage" to help stifle any awkwardness. 

Long story short, I went to the bar and saw a couple people I knew. It was a decent-enough time. At around 2 am I walked back to my car. A friend wanted me to meet him at another bar closer to his house and mine. I started driving down the long, winding back road. I'm a naturally slow driver and I always get a little uncomfortable when people are behind me. I saw two or three cars behind me, so I sped up. That was a mistake. 

I see the police lights go on behind me. "Shit," I think to myself as I pull over into a conveniently-placed parking lot. My window doesn't roll down, so I crack my door open and explain that to the officer. He says it's okay. He adds, "I pulled you over because I noticed your registration was expired." I say okay and he walks away. Relief hits me, but it's short lived as I hear in the distance "I smell a strong odor." 

He asks me if I was drinking. I tell him I just left the bar. He asks where I'm going. The wrong answer is "another bar," so I tell him I'm going home. I make sure to tell him it's right down the road. 

He asks me to step out of the car. There are three other officers there, along with the guy who pulled me over. He talks to me for a minute before getting the breathalyzer gun and having me blow. It's a surprisingly light atmosphere, with the cops laughing and talking. One of the cops guesses that I'd blow a .09, which is above the legal .08 limit. I laugh and say, "I'm shooting for a .07." He laughs and I stop listening after I hear "Point One" come out of his mouth, because any number after that doesn't matter. I'm screwed. 

Or am I? He's talking to me and being cool, asking where I live. Another cop shines his light into my car and says he sees a bottle cap. The cop asks if I have beer in the car. I told him the truth - I didn't know how long I would be out and wanted to make sure I had beer in case I missed the 2 a.m. shutoff time. He told me he understood. That is, until he went over and saw that one was opened and emptied (presumably down my throat). 

"You've had a little too much to drink tonight," he begins. "I'm gonna need you to put your hands behind your back." Well, shit. Now I'm arrested. 

* * * 

The ride to the police station surprisingly isn't that bad. I figured being handcuffed in the back of a police car would be more unpleasant. He leads me into a holding area, which is really just a modified garage. There's a bench and a nice office chair with wheels. He takes my handcuffs off and I sit in the chair. He tells me he'll be back. 

After a while he comes back and I sign some paperwork. He asks if I need to use the bathroom and I go do that. He heads back for more paperwork and I take my seat again. The atmosphere is still light. I have my phone out and am texting my girlfriend who attends college in another state. She's freaking out a little bit and I'm telling her I think everything will be okay. I'm also texting my friend I was meeting at the bar about what's happening. He's offering to come get me if that's allowed. I tell him I'll keep him updated. 

After about an hour, another arrested guy is brought in. He's a little more aggravated about his arrest, so his handcuffs stay on. They sit him on a bench away from me. I walk over to a vending machine. I'm thirsty and some Coke would hit the spot. It's $1.25 and it won't take my $5 bill. I contemplate asking the other prisoner if he has change, but I already felt bad flaunting my "freedom" in his face. 

The officer comes back in and sets me up to get fingerprinted. It's high tech now, so there's no ink involved. You put your hand on a scanner and it creates an image of your fingerprints. Next is the mugshot. I stand facing a camera. He asks if I'm ready. Not wanting a Nick Nolte moment, I smooth down my hair and tell him yes. I feel like it would be pushing it if I ask if I can make a goofy face. Instead, I give a nice smile like I'm not being entered into a worldwide database of criminals. 

* * * 

The cop is really cool through all of this. He told me that since I was cool about everything he would try and make sure I received a "PR bond," which meant I was released from jail on my own "personal recognizance," which basically meant I wouldn't have to pay money to leave. 

I'm being transported to a jail in the next city over. He puts handcuffs on me, then stops. "These are my good cuffs. I'll never get these back." He takes them off me and slaps on a different pair. 

I get loaded into the back of a police car. It's a different cop taking me to jail. "I'm real tired," he says. "So, we're gonna fly down the road, okay?" That's okay with me. 

People talk about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If you can't get food, you can't worry about finding a place to live, etc. At that point, my needs were stripped down. I hate my job? Doesn't matter. I haven't graduated from college? Doesn't matter, I just got arrested. All of my problems, or what I perceived to be problems, were secondary at that moment. And, in a weird way, it was such a relief. That ride in the police car from Princeton to Bluefield, where I had my hands handcuffed behind my back, was one of the most relaxing moments of my life. There wasn't a care in the world because nothing else mattered. 

I got to the police station. I was brought in and they started filling out paper work to keep me overnight. An older police officer was talking to me. What struck me as odd was that he had stubble on only his upper lip, like he had just decided to grow a mustache. He asked standard questions, if I was on any medication, had diabetes, heart disease, if I had ever tried to kill myself. He took my blood pressure. My shirt was getting in the way of making the cuff work, so he had me take my shirt off. 

He looked at me in disbelief for a second. He was judging me. "A pink belt?" he said. I broke out my standard go-to line anytime somebody questions any aspect of my sexuality: "The ladies love it." 

He had me sign a paper after he was done that had the answers to all those questions he asked me, in addition to my blood pressure. I looked at a comment that he wrote and thought it was funny: "Appears to be intoxicated." 

I had to empty my pockets. I realized I didn't have my wallet with me, but then remembered I left it in the passenger seat of my car. I had my driver's license with me for some reason. I gave him my license, phone, and $36 I randomly had in my pocket. He told me to take off my belt. He looked at me for a second and said, "What's that thing in your lip called? A lip stud?" I took it out and put it in a large manilla envelope with the rest of my belongings. My hair was covering my ears so he didn't make me take out my earrings. 

"What kind of shoes do you have on?" I looked down at my feet. "Slip on shoes?" He said those would be fine, as he walked over to a big closet and grabbed a blanket. So not only are Toms stylish and buying them helps out the less fortunate, they are also acceptable prison wear. It was at that point I noticed a few pairs of shoes lined against a wall. 

The officer started walking me toward a cell and said something about the other inmates and that's when it hit me. For the first time since being arrested I was nervous. "You mean, there's gonna be other people in there?" At this point, it was like 4 in the morning. He assured me it would be okay. "They're all gonna be asleep." 

He unlocked a cell and we walked in. I spotted three other inmates sleeping. There were four bed areas built into the wall, with one above it, kind of like bunk beds. So, the cell could house eight inmates. I was the fourth one. The bed was literally a metal slab connected to the wall. The officer woke up one of the guys and asked if he had any extra padding. The inmate groggily stood up and pulled a piece of foam padding off his bed and handed it to the officer. He walked over to a metal slab and put it on there for me. 

"The phone's in here somewhere if you need it." We looked around for a second and I found it. I placed it on a picnic table that was built into the ground. It wasn't like the movies - a pay phone and you got one call. It was a cordless handset that I could use as I saw fit. With the advent of the cell phone the need to memorize numbers went by the wayside, so there was nobody for me to call even if I had wanted to. 

The officer left and I looked around. I saw a partially-enclosed area that was the toilet. There would have been privacy had one guy not been sleeping in the bed that faced the toilet. But, he was asleep and it was dark. I went over and peed. 

I sat down on my bed "Indian style" and wrapped the blanket around my shoulders. I looked at the three men sleeping around me. "There's no way I can sleep," I thought to myself. I started replaying the night to myself and wondering how it got to this point. "If only I'd stayed home," I thought. "Why did I need to go out and have fun?" 

I started thinking more and realized that it was somewhere in the 4 o'clock neighborhood. I knew I'd be out in the morning. "Sleep would not be a bad idea right now," I told myself. I put my head down on the padding. I balled the blanket up to make a pillow, but my legs were cold. So, I folded part of the padding to create my own pillow. It was then that I realized the note on the police officer's paper might have been right - my head was spinning a little bit; maybe I was intoxicated. 

* * * 

WHOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHHHHH! 

My eyes open. Somebody flushed the toilet. First thought: I'm glad I didn't flush the toilet last night and wake everybody up. Second thought: Fuck, I'm in jail. I roll over and take in my surroundings. It's morning and the lights have been turned on. I see two men standing beside the table. They're talking. I roll back over and try to go back to sleep. 

Words wake me up. I open my eyes again. My back is to everybody. I hear a man on the phone. "You know I didn't do it!" Of course he didn't do it, I think to myself. "I would never steal from him!" He started detailing what actually did happen. I closed my eyes and realized the sounds wouldn't stop. I turned back over and sat up. I looked at the picnic table and spotted a bottle of water. I walked over to the table and looked out of the cell. On the wall was a list of all the bond bailsmen in the area and their numbers. 

I looked down at the breakfast spread they left for us: A few boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios with a container of milk and a Styrofoam take-away container. I opened it: biscuits and gravy, with bacon. I was kind of hungry, but I didn't know what this would do to my stomach and I didn't want to risk having to use the bathroom there. I grabbed the bottle of water and went back to my slab of metal. 

I thought about sleeping again but didn't know if I could. The guy on the phone asked the person on the other line what time it was. Around 9 in the morning. I sat in bed and watched him argue with whoever he was on the phone with; I think it might have been a girlfriend or wife. He had one line that almost had me laughing out loud: "If I wanna get yelled at I'll get a cop down here!" He looked to be in his 40's and, not to judge, it looked like this wasn't his first time waking up in jail. 

Eventually he got off the phone. The other two people were asleep and it was just us. He asked me what I was here for. I thought about the best way to word my next statement before finally answering, "I guess I got a DUI last night." He asked me a few more questions and we "BS'ed" a little bit before we heard two names called out. Coincidentally, they were mine and his. 

We walked down the hallway together. An officer started talking to me about how he had meant to pick me up earlier but had been sent to the wrong jail. As I was signing paperwork to leave I noticed a large manilla envelope with my name on it. I glanced at it and saw that a list of all my possessions had been written on the outside. I chuckled to myself as I saw the words "lip stud" on there. 

As we were walking to the police car the officer jokingly asks if I know kung fu. I say no. He says, "Just making sure you weren't gonna 'Judy Chop' me or something, so I don't have to cuff you." We got in the car and started to pull out. I looked out the window and saw the guy I had been talking with in jail. He smiled and waved at me. We were both free.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE "B-SIDES: RARITIES AND UNRELEASED WORKS, VOL. 01"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Podcast thoughts

A few weeks back I scheduled several guests for future episodes of my podcast. The podcast is something I started late last year and was something I had explored doing for the better part of a full year. I got into it and enjoyed doing it.

It has been hard building up an audience for the podcast. It's been hard getting people to commit to listening to my voice and having me discuss things with people. I've been trying to broaden the horizon of the podcast and talk about a wider variety of subjects with more people.

It's not a good feeling when I ask somebody I respect greatly to listen to my podcast and get back a politely worded version of "I hate it." It's crushing when somebody says to me, "I've never listened to it."

I've been thinking of who I'm doing this for. My idea is to have people learn about something. Things like life as a freelance journalist (episode 3), Concord University's Beckley center (episode 4), what it's like to go to grad school in California after living in West Virginia (episode 6), and most recently roller derby (episode 18), among others.

I scheduled an interview with Concord University's President, Kendra Boggess. Why? I'm not really sure. It just seemed like a good thing to do. She recently became the first female President and CU is one of the only good things in southern West Virginia.

I showed up to her office on Tuesday. We chatted for a few minutes and then got ready to start. She had "liked" several of my podcasts on Facebook, so I figured she had listened to a few or at least knew the format. She told me I had 15 minutes, as she had a meeting coming up. With the exception of episode 01 (which I dubbed the "practice-cast"), I have not had an episode under 20 minutes, and I try to shoot for 40 minutes.

So we decided I would come back on Wednesday. In the day that passed, I began thinking more about why I wanted her on the podcast. I thought about our conversation that we had before I realized I didn't have enough time. She told me three times in the span of 10 minutes or so that she would make sure I graduated from Concord University.

And that's when it hit me. I don't want to graduate from Concord University. I hate Concord University and didn't enjoy a second that I was on campus that day.

I thought more about it. My hatred isn't rational. Why do I hate CU? Because I see my wasted potential. I was a somebody turning into a something. And then I kind of became a joke.

I specifically made a point to ask Wendy Holdren in episode 18 what she thought about Concord because I knew she would have good things to say about it. I wanted Kendra Boggess on the podcast so that she could say good things about Concord and encourage students to attend.

I then began thinking about why I do the podcast. Three reasons, the most important of which was to inform people and maybe help them learn something. The second and third reasons are purely selfish for me: it's fun and easy.

I woke up early on Tuesday and didn't get done what I wanted to accomplish. I felt like shit because I was tired and didn't get anything else accomplished. I woke up early on Wednesday and had a couple thoughts. I don't get paid to do this podcast. Those people I like and respect don't listen to it. This moment in my life is neither fun nor easy. So, I went back to bed.

I really hope that Tuesday morning is the last time I'm ever on Concord's campus. I have no plans to ever go back there.

If anybody's curious, below is what I had planned for the interview:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Episode 18: Wendy Holdren



About three weeks ago, I was thinking of podcast ideas and I noticed that roller derby had become really popular with a lot of my friends on Facebook. I didn't know much about the sport and after talking to a couple friends I realized that they didn't know a lot either.

A podcast about roller derby would then be on the agenda. My friend from days past at Concord University, Wendy Holdren, had been a participant and I figured she would be a good speaker on the subject. I pulled my phone out and sent her a text: "Hey. Would you like to be on my podcast sometime in the next couple weeks to talk about roller derby?" Her response: "Who is this?"

After we confirmed who I was, she agreed. We set it up and had a nice chat on the phone.

I recorded a little piece that airs before the interview setting everything up. It was a nice day, so I recorded it outside. As such, you can hear some "outside noises" at various points. The oddest noise is actually the moment you hit play. I'm assuming it's some combination of a car and a bird making sounds at the same time. It's interesting, so I kept it in.

As I mention in the intro, I had turned the recorder on and whenever we finished talking we were going to actually begin the interview. After I listened to it all, with the informal chat included, I realized that I liked it so I decided to keep it in. So, in addition to the regular interview, you get to hear about a couple mutual friends we have involved in roller derby and then you get to hear Wendy's (very indirect) role in the podcast being called "Communication Breakdown."

Topics discussed include:

- What Wendy and I were doing on August 18, 2007

- Wendy's thoughts on Concord University

- How the student newspaper, The Concordian, prepared Wendy for "real life"

- Mine and Wendy's biggest mistakes ever printed in the newspaper

- Wendy's favorite thing to write in The Concordian

- My role in helping Wendy become a better journalist

- Who got her involved in roller derby and how

- Reactions of her family and friends to being involved

- The minor injuries, bumps and bruises, associated with roller derby

- Her reaction to breaking both of her ankles

All that and more is included in episode 18 of Communication Breakdown. Let me know what you think. If you have any idea for future topics, feel free to let me know.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I've got it all (most)



Feeling better these last few days. I'm living my life in the one step forward, two steps backward style. I'm trying to get out of that. I've received several pieces of good news lately and I hope this is enough to help me turn the corner and start doing the good things I know I can do.

As I've mentioned a few other times, here & on the podcast, I have very grandiose plans for myself and what I see me doing in life. I just have to get past this soul-sucking miserable section of my life. And I'm working on that. I'll keep everybody updated on the future.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Unfinished Works: Raven's Redemption


In 2012, I was looking for something to write about. I was thinking about professional wrestling and had noticed that the quality of TNA Impact Wrestling had improved dramatically. While looking to point out the positives, I thought long and hard about the negatives that the then-fledgling promotion had made over the years.

I came up with a list that I considered to be the 5 biggest mistakes in TNA's history. Throughout the summer, I wrote posts about four of the mistakes, but never got around to the final one. The four posts I did write are below:





Number 5 was going to look at the abrupt end of the "Raven's Redemption" angle. What I have written in the picture above is below. Then I'll explain things.

Raven's Redemption

- Raven's history
     * ECW, WCW, WWE
- TNA; feud w/ Jarrett
     * First big name to leave WWE for TNA
     * "His destiny"
     * One of TNA's biggest feuds
- Feuds after
     * Shane Douglas
     * Jeff Hardy
     * Abyss
- 2005 ECW Nostalgia
     * won NWA championship
          - TNA wasn't on tv
- Lost title to Jarrett @ indie show days b4 spike show
     * never received match due to Larry Zybsko
     * quest to overcome Larry to get title back was compelling
          - dropped it
          - came back w/ Seretonin; Fizzled out; so did he

In the spring of 2003, TNA was less than a year old. The promotion was filled with older wrestlers from WCW - which had folded in 2001 - and unheralded young guys. Raven had joined WWE in 2000 and was released from his contract in - you guessed it - the spring of 2003. He made a surprise appearance in TNA a few days later, and the buzz was strong.

Jeff Jarrett was the champion and Raven was the biggest star in the promotion. They built it strongly. Jarrett was the good guy, the defending champion. Raven was technically the heel, but his intentions were noble: he wanted the championship because it was his "destiny."



It was a great match and was received well from an artistic and commercial standpoint. After that, Raven turned into a good guy and tried to get another shot, but always had issues in front of him. One of the biggest issues was his feud with Shane Douglas, which culminated in a hair vs hair match. Raven lost under dubious means, but took his punishment like a man. The hair shaving has been referred to as a "scalping," due to how badly Raven's head gets cut from the electric razor. Check it out below.



I was then going to write about Raven's 2005. That was a big year, as it was the official rebirth of Extreme Championship Wrestling nostalgia. WWE held a "One Night Stand" show and Shane Douglas organized his own version, albeit without using the letters "ecw" as WWE owns those rights.

TNA was looking to cash in on the nostalgia, so they threw one of ECW's biggest stars to the forefront of the promotion. Raven finally fulfilled his "destiny," winning the World Championship. He defended it throughout the summer, until losing it to Jeff Jarrett via shady tactics.

What was interesting about Raven's run as champion was that TNA wasn't on television. TNA's contract with Fox Sports Net had expired and they were negotiating with SpikeTV. There was a several-month gap between when one show ended and the other began. They still produced episodes of their show; it was just online only. Raven lost the belt a couple days before Impact Wrestling debuted on Spike.

Here's where the "Redemption" begins. Raven wanted the title back and to do that, he needed a rematch against Jarrett. Standing in the way was Larry Zbyszko. It was compelling television. Larry would usually put some wrestler in front of Raven and if Raven couldn't beat him, he didn't get a title shot in the future.

Here's where TNA made the mistake: they just stopped doing it for some reason. I think Zbyszko might have left the company. Raven could have gotten hurt. There are a lot of things that could have gone into this angle losing steam. 

As I mention in the note above, Raven does come back. He was famous for having stables. In ECW it was "The Nest" and in WCW it was "The Flock." In TNA, he organized a group known as Serotonin. He came back and nothing was said about him getting the title back. He just had this group. It went nowhere. It was basically the end of Raven's career; he still wrestled periodically in TNA, but after Serotonin fizzled out his career basically did too. 

And there's all of that. I just never got around to writing it back in 2012 and after a while it just seemed like too much time had passed to ever get around to finishing it. So, here it is in "Unfinished Works" format.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Live tweeting The Warrior

If you want to read a straight-up review of the new Ultimate Warrior 3-disk collection, my pal Eric over at Camel Clutch Blog already has that covered here - http://camelclutchblog.com/ultimate-warrior-wwe-dvd-review/. I wanted to share with you my off-the-cuff, straight-from-the-heart, non-censored thoughts on the Ultimate Warrior DVD. I popped in disk 01 the other night, pulled out my iPhone, and proceeded to “live tweet” all three disks. Below are those tweets. File this one under hashtag “long read.” 

From @chris_slater

Watching the #UltimateWarrior 3-disk #WWE dvd match collection. Warrior's new interview is especially poignant now. 

Watched a "Blade Runners" match on the Mid-South DVD. Showing more here. Sting & Warrior. That's how you book some monsters. 

Bill Watts, on commentary describing Warrior: "He picked him up like he was nothin.' Dropped him like a sack of puh-tate-uhs." 

Told the story of the "Dingo Warrior" name. Discussed the resemblance to Kerry Von Erich as the reason he became big in WCCW. 

Odd hearing #UltimateWarrior say "Sports Entertainment." Decent set of interviews between the matches on this disk. 

Squash match against Barry Horowitz. Bobby Heenan: "He's had to work on that body all his life. So he's never had a job or education." 

"He can't spell or read or write, but he looks really good." - Bobby Heenan, on #UltimateWarrior  

Squash match against @brawlerreal. Jesse Ventura, on #UltimateWarrior: "Why the face paint? Because he's a warrior?" #wwe 

Interesting 3-man commentary team for this match: Vince McMahon, Jesse Ventura, Bruno Sammartino. #wwe #UltimateWarrior 

"There's such a nostalgia for characters from those days. It's because the characters were allowed to create themselves." - #UltimateWarrior 

Uncensored "god damn it" from #UltimateWarrior. He was quoting Arnold Skoaland, so I guess it wasn't his own "GD." 

Cool selection of matches. Warrior talked about how #wwe was finally seeing him as somebody, then we go to #UltimateWarrior vs Harley Race. 

Harley Race just did the @TripleH "whipped over the top rope" spot. #wwe #UltimateWarrior 

Awesome match between #UltimateWarrior and Harley Race. Shows how great Race was, even at the end of his career. #wwe 

"Looking back now, being older. Older, not old." - #UltimateWarrior 

Bobby Heenan totally buried Warrior in the 2005 DVD. Here, #UltimateWarrior gives Heenan props for taking bumps at his age. 

Although, Heenan buried #UltimateWarrior so hard that it bordered on parody. Like, you couldn't believe that Heenan disliked him that much. 

2005 DVD only featured clips of the #UltimateWarrior vs Bobby Heenan "weasel suit" match. This one is showing the full thing. #wwe 

It's actually a pretty good match, with Heenan bumping everywhere and cheating w/ a foreign object. #UltimateWarrior #wwe 

Sean Mooney: "How do ya think Warrior got the measurements for Heenan in this suit?" Monsoon: "I guess he got one that's short and fat." 

Saw some recent pictures of Bobby Heenan. He's been struggling with mouth cancer and its effects since 2001. Sad to see. 

The ultimate irony is that cancer has robbed Bobby Heenan of his ability to speak, which he did better than just about anybody. 

Everybody has seen the #SummerSlam match where #UltimateWarrior wins the IC belt in 45 seconds. Here we have a rematch w/ @OfficialHTM. #wwe 

Wow. Upper balcony area of this arena for #UltimateWarrior vs HTM rematch is empty. Today's #wwe would never allow that to show up on camera 

Title vs Title match. #wwe World Champ Randy Savage vs #UltimateWarrior. In the months before @WrestleMania 5. Savage had turned heel. 

Savage would go on to lose his title to Hulk Hogan. #UltimateWarrior would lose to Rick Rude, then win it back. Then WM6 would happen. 

Looks like #UltimateWarrior was supposed to catch Savage on a cross body. Stumbled a little bit and became an awkward power slam. #wwe 

I'll take 80s short trunks Macho Man over 90s gaudy cowboy hat Macho Man any day. 

Little dig by #UltimateWarrior about @BretHart being a "belt mark." He then comments about how he didn't need a belt to "be ultimate." 

Hogan and Savage have rightly been credited w/ having amazing matches w/ #UltimateWarrior. Rick Rude needs to be recognized as well. 

#UltimateWarrior spoke very highly of Rick Rude on the DVD. Said he was focused and had great ideas. 

For decades now, my biggest criticism of #UltimateWarrior has been how he holds a championship title. 

Nice segment w/ #UltimateWarrior giving thanks to "jobbers," who he puts over as really helping make himself and several other wrestlers. 

"There will be people saying 'Boy, he took it seriously.' It was serious, becoming that character every night." - #UltimateWarrior 

Just heard a great Andre the Giant promo. That's rare. He wasn't known for his verbiage. It was 20 seconds and he spoke slowly. 

In Andre's defense, English was his 2nd language and he didn't need to speak for probably the first 15 years of his career. 

Jesse Ventura: "Now he's even painting his pecs?" Vince McMahon: "Hahaha and what a set of pecs on him!" #UltimateWarrior #wwe 

Somebody should have talked to Andre the Giant about those sideburns he had at the end of his career… 

In the 2005 DVD, they put over how much Andre didn't like #UltimateWarrior. In Warrior's defense, apparently Andre didn't like anybody. 

#UltimateWarrior speaks highly of Andre, saying the giant wouldn't do anything he didn't want to do, so he appreciated beating him. 

Howard Finkel introduced him as "Andre the Ultimate Giant" and the announcers referenced him as such. #UltimateWarrior #wwe 

Had his tenure w/ #wwe not been so tumultuous, I believe #UltimateWarrior body slamming Andre would have been presented as a bigger deal. 

Two Andre vs #UltimateWarrior matches included. One 15 second squash and one longer. Andre bleeding from the mouth in match 2. 

Beating Andre the Giant ends disk 01. Part 02 begins with build to @WrestleMania 6. #UltimateWarrior 

Go to @YouTube and search for Scott Hall and Larry Zbyszko watching Warrior/Hogan and doing commentary over the match. Pretty good. 

Showing the "Airplane" promo in its entirety. In the 2005 DVD, they had Christian make fun of it and do his impression. #UltimateWarrior 

Warrior mentioned that prior @WrestleMania builds featured one of Hogan's buddies turning on him. "But they couldn't do that with me." 

#UltimateWarrior vs Mr. Perfect in the weeks before @WrestleMania 6. They could have included matches like this in the 2005 DVD. 

Roddy Piper on commentary during #UltimateWarrior vs Ted DiBiase: "This ain't no Milli Vanilli song, this is the real deal." #wwe 

Watching more of disk 03 of the #UltimateWarrior DVD. @WrestleMania 7 vs Macho Man. Arguably, Warrior's best match ever. #wwe 

#UltimateWarrior said that if Randy Savage didn't want warrior to pin him with a foot on his chest, then it wouldn't have happened. #wwe 

Memorable spot in this match where Macho Man hits 5 elbow drops from the top rope. And #UltimateWarrior still kicks out. #wwe #WrestleMania 

After Savage hit the 5th elbow drop, #UltimateWarrior said something to him, but I couldn't make it out. #wwe #WrestleMania 

I like that #wwe didn't cut away right after #UltimateWarrior won. They showed the full Macho Man and Elizabeth reconciliation. 

Truly one of the great moments in wrestling. There are legitimately people in the audience crying. Just a happy moment. 

The cameras did close ups of 5 different grown adults crying at the sight of Macho Man and Elizabeth getting back together. #wwe 

One of my first wrestling memories up next: #UltimateWarrior getting trapped in a casket by #TheUndertaker. Legit scared me at 5 years old. 

#UltimateWarrior vs #TheUndertaker went to a no contest. One of the agents to come pull them apart was George the Animal Steele. #wwe 

#UltimateWarrior vaguely talked about leaving #wwe for the first time, then showed clips from the WM8 press conference after the event. 

Now we have a face-to-face interview btwn Warrior & Savage conducted by Gene Okerlund. Prior to their horrible SummerSlam title match. 

Flair interfered in that match. Then Flair beat Savage for the #wwe championship, then lost it to Bret Hart for his first title victory. 

Ric Flair interrupts the promo. "Warrior, I've been beatin' up people in face paint my whole career. I specialize in it." #wwe 

Flair wrote in his book about hitting his head after getting thrown by #UltimateWarrior & experiencing bad equilibrium problems for a while. 

#UltimateWarrior talks about learning a lot from Macho Man in the "Ultimate Maniacs" tag team. 

So far, they have mentioned leaving the #wwe twice & #UltimateWarrior has yet to mention why he left at any point. 

Has anybody ever asked #UltimateWarrior about having a tattoo of himself on his right arm? #wwe 

"So I called up Vince and said 'eff off' or whatever it was that I said." #UltimateWarrior discussing 1996 contract negotiations. 

"Linda called and asked if I'd meet with her. I wouldn't have gone back if it wasn't for Linda." #UltimateWarrior on his 1996 #wwe return. 

#UltimateWarrior DVD contains a promo exchange w/ @Goldust. Goldust wants to play super heroes and climb onto warrior's back. #wwe 

Warrior vs Lawler match is included. On the 2005 dvd, Jerry said that this was not a good match and their styles didn't gel. #wwe 

Lawler walking to the ring making fun of audience members before the match just made my night. Heel King was a master on the mic. #wwe 

Lawler: "Look at her face. It's women like you that turn men into... people like @Goldust." #wwe 

Owen Hart doing commentary during this match w/ JR and Vince. #UltimateWarrior #wwe 

In the 2005 DVD, Hogan talks about how bad and rambling the #UltimateWarrior debut WCW promo was. Showing it in its entirety here. 

Crowd chants "Hogan Sucks!" #UltimateWarrior replies: "Let's talk about something he doesn't already know." 

The Disciple is in the ring with Hogan. #UltimateWarrior says, "Who is he? This must be your barber." Heenan cracks up on commentary. 

And yeah, this #UltimateWarrior promo has run a little long. I'd imagine people probably switched over to see what #wwe #raw was doing. 

I didn't care for the supernatural elements of the #UltimateWarrior WCW run. Disappearing in a cloud of smoke and whatnot. 

#UltimateWarrior: "They used Ted Turner's checkbook to buy me to come back to wrestling to lose a match to Hulk." 

#UltimateWarrior closes the DVD by saying that you're finally hearing the full story, but that this was just the beginning. 

And, no, it was not. It was the end of the #UltimateWarrior story. It's good that he and his fans got this kind of closure.

Aberdeen



Small-town angst. This is a song about Aberdeen, Kentucky. I'm slowly drowning in Princeton, WV.

I honestly didn't think this area was so bad. I heard about "more opportunities elsewhere" but I thought a lot of the talk was just hyperbole. I knew bigger areas had more jobs and things, but I didn't think it was such a huge disparity.

Then I went to California for Thanksgiving last year. I saw what an actual place that is appealing to human life looked like.

I am going to die if I stay in Princeton, West Virginia. Maybe not physically, but mentally, spiritually, emotionally. There are no opportunities for advancement here. There's nothing but pills and skanks here. And I have associated with my fair share of both.

I can't handle this pressure anymore. Every day just gets worse than the last. I don't have good days anymore; I just have days. Sometimes they're not horrible, but at the best a day is "just there."

I am slowly drowning. My ambitions. My hopes. My potential. My future. It's all drowning in a pool of excessive alcohol intake and drug abuse. I've cleaned up my life, but it almost feels like a case of too little, too late.

I don't know. I just hate every day that I'm here. "Then move." I'm trying. Things cost money. I just don't know what I'm doing anymore. I'm aimless. Listless.

Anyway... I like that song. All the rest just started coming out when I listened to it.