June 22, 2008
I wrote the following for my ďStorm FrontĒ article for ďFighting SpiritĒ Magazine, back in March, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
This months Iíve been inspired by a student of mine. Iíve been fortunate with Storm Wrestling Academytm in that Iíve been able to attract students from all over the globe. Itís great to meet people from around the world and Iíve thus far had students from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Portugal, France, Canada, Denmark, Puerto Rico, The USA, and Australia enroll in Storm Wrestling Academytm. With this in mind, Iím often asked which student traveled the furthest to train with me. Geographically I guess it would be one of my students from Australia (Iíve had several) but if you look at each studentís individual journey to Calgary, the Aussie kid in my current session wins by a land slide and will likely never be dethroned.
Dean, said current student, had the milk run of all milk runs for his journey from Sydney Australia to Calgary, Canada. Past students from Australia often complained of their approximate 24-hour trek across the Pacific, but that pales in comparison to Deans 62-hr journey. I donít know whether Deanís travel agent was drunk, diabolical, or simply insane, but he or she booked him on the worst and longest travel route Iíve ever heard of.
Deanís epic adventure was a six-connection flight with an overnight stop. He flew from Sydney to Melbourne in Australia (1hr 30min), Melbourne to Hong Kong (9hrs), Hong Kong to London (13hrs 30min), London to New York (11hrs), he over nighted in New York City at a YMCA, New York to Dallas (4hrs 15min), and Dallas to Calgary (4hrs). That is 43 and a half hours in the air with 18 and a half ours in layovers. You could not pay me enough money to even consider taking a trip like that, and just thinking about it makes me so glad Iím off the road. That being said I thought it would be fun this month to take a look back at some of the worst trips Iíve had to endure during my career.
In 1992 I did a two-week tour of Lebanon, and my flight from Calgary to Beirut was the biggest milk run Iíve ever been booked on. There were only 4 legs to my milk run, but each leg was plagued with a huge layover. My trip started with a Calgary to Dallas flight, which took 4 hours. All of the talent was flown to Dallas so that the rest of the trip could be booked as a group fare. In order to allow for everyoneís connecting flights to arrive, our departing flight was booked quite late, which provided the Calgary guys a near 4-hour lay over. Our group flight from Dallas connected in Boston, allotting us another 3 and a half hours in the air and a 2-hour layover on the ground. From Boston we had a 6 and a half hour flight to Londonís Heathrow airport, where we were booked with our longest layover of 6 hours. The reason behind this ridiculous layover was that travel to Lebanon was banned by the US and no connecting tickets from the US could be booked into Lebanon. In order for us to fly to Beirut the promoter had to book us a completely separate ticket, which we had to pick up upon arrival in London. Since the tickets were booked separately it was our responsibility to make the connection so the long layover was booked to cover us if our arriving flight was delayed for any reason, and to provide us ample time to find the Middle East airlines ticket counter and check in. From London it was just the one last flight into Beirut, which lasted 4 hours and 45 minutes. The strange thing about that flight was that our boarding passes actually had Cairo listed as the destination despite our destination being Beirut, Lebanon. We asked several people about this but only ever got a hushed whisper like response to not worry about it, as if we were spies traveling covertly and things were better left unsaid. To this day I have no idea what the hell was going on, but we did land in Beirut as originally promised. All totaled that adds up to approximately 31 hours of travel merely one half of poor Deans trip.
The sad thing with my adventure was that the travel was likely the best part of the trip. During the 2 week tour of Lebanon I saw a man get assaulted by police, had my passport taken from me, was held hostage at gun point on the floor of my hotel, saw a man not 50 feet away from me get shot in the neck, broke a rib, and got horribly stiffed on my pay. Oh yah and we missed our separately booked ticketed connection in London on our return flight. It was a fabulous trip.
My one other travel hell was during my time working for WAR in Japan. The trip to Japan was always a long one with a 4-hour flight to LA, which required me clearing US customs, a 2 to 3 hour layover in LA, and the 9-hour connecting flight to Japan. Before this particular trip I got a phone call from Uno, the referee who always met me at the airport, asking me if it was all right if he was a little late picking me up. I was flying into Kansai airport in Osaka rather than the usual flight to Narita in Tokyo and the company bus had to drive down to meet me and may be a little late. I said that was no problem, I could easily kill an hour or so at the airport getting something to eat.
Uno and the bus arrived maybe 30 minutes after Iíd cleared customs and I thought everything was working out quite well. What Uno didnít tell me on the phone, or even when he picked me up, was that we still had a lot of driving to do and time to kill before going to our hotel. We drove on the bus for nearly another 6 hours before arriving at yet another airport. I was completely confused as I sat on the bus in the airport parking lot for another 2 hours before Uno returned with Abdullah the Butcher, who was the other foreigner on the trip. Turns out Abby was not willing to ride on the bus for the 7 hours required to get from Kansai to our first town and insisted on being flown directly to our final destination. Abby was a big enough star to make such demands, where I was not a big enough star to even be explained the situation and had to not only do the drive but sit in the airport parking lot waiting for Abby without any explanation what so ever. Once Abby was aboard it was only another hour or so to the hotel where I finally got to lay my head down after a near 27 hours of journey.
If these trips sound unbearable, the wrestling business is likely not for you. If you are foolish enough to give it a go anyway, I highly recommend Storm Wrestling Academytm. I also recommend you pack a good book; youíre going to need it.