The Un-Fantiastic Four

July 29, 2009

I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in April, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.

As promised I’m putting my “Un-Fantastic Four” on the Storm Front. These will be the four people I least enjoyed working during my career, not necessarily the four worst workers. People I disliked working and had to work with often will take priority over someone I hated but only had to work once.

My first and easiest pick is Koji Kitao. I worked with Kitao quite a bit back in my WAR days in Japan and man was it awful. Kitao was big, stiff, and uncooperative, which is not a good combination. Kitao was a former Yokozuna, and never wanted to sell. I’ve worked with guys like this in my career before, but Kitao was 6’ 8” and weighed 385 lbs, so making him sell when he didn’t want to wasn’t really an option. With making him sell not being an option, I was always left taking all of his offense and getting in almost none of my own. We had more than a dozen matches together (thankfully almost of them tags or 6-mans) and despite working together this many times he took a total of only one bump for me that entire time.

One bump for me, and I took countless ones for him and every one of them hurt. His kicks were bone jarring, his slams and moves were crushing and there has never been a person I hated getting in the ring with more. Fortunately his most painful move, a near 400-pound Senton, I managed to avoid. I’m not sure whose idea it was to have this 400-pound man start jumping up and back bumping on top of guys but it was brutal. If the 400-pounds wasn’t bad enough Kitao wasn’t particularly careful of where he landed and often landed on guys heads.

This may actually be the only move I’ve refused to take in wrestling and I remember it vividly. Kitao came up to me before the match one day and asked, “Tonight maybe you Senton… Okay?” to this I replied, “ Maybe…NO… Maybe I DIE!!” and that was that. To his credit he didn’t push the point, but had he tried to, I would have just agreed to the move and moved out of the way the second he left his feet.

Another of my least favourites is a guy I worked with in Europe during my days with CWA Catch. The guys name was Mile Zerno who was from somewhere in Eastern Europe. He was actually a really good worker, but I found working with him very frustrating. Mile was a very technical sound baby face that was nearing the end of his career. I think he felt threatened when I came over because I too was a technical sound highflying baby face but I was at the beginning of mine. Because we were both baby faces I didn’t have to work with him often but when I did he was such a huge glory hound. He was always trying to out shine everyone and would often tie you up in holds you couldn’t get out of, to get over to the crowd that he was the better wrestle. This used to make me furious because tying someone up when they are letting you put them in holds isn’t really a big accomplishment and really unprofessional.

I got so fed up with it, I eventually started doing the same to him, which got a great reaction from the locker room and Mile eventually stopped. I wasn’t the only guy who Mile annoyed and likely my favourite spot of all time occurred in a match between Mile and Fit Finlay. Fit after having all he could take of Mile’s show boating, called a leapfrog spot and instead of running under the leapfrog, double crossed Mile and jumped up and clotheslined him right out of the air. This got a huge pop from the locker room, and is my only fond memory of Mile.

For my next pick I’m going to jump to my WCW days and talk about The Cat Ernest Miller. Like Mile, the problem wasn’t that Ernest was a terrible worker; it was just that working with him was so damn difficult. The Cat was very limited in the ring, which made having really good matches difficult, and he was also so damn unpredictable. Quite probably the most frustrating moment in my career involved Ernest Miller and it typifies why I disliked working with him so much.

It was on either Nitro or Thunder and we were supposed to do a promo segment, which would set up an impromptu match. Ernest was to go to the ring and cut a promo, which I would interrupt and challenge him to a match. My opening line was going to be, “You talk a good game Cat, but can you back it up in the ring. “ This would lead to him accepting my challenge and we’d have a match. Cat went to the ring first, and as I stood back stage watching on, Ernest got in the ring, the ref handed him the microphone, Ernest looked at it, and handed it back. There was then a long pause and they hit my music. Keep in mind that this was not yet a match; we were supposed to cut the angle on the mic to set up this match, and my opening line was going to be, “You talk a good game…” and the Cat, thus far has said nothing. Everything I had planned was out the window and I had to adlib on a seconds notice to set up this match. After the match I asked Cat why he didn’t say anything and he just shrugged and said he forgot what was he was going to say.

For my last pick…Balls Mahoney. I worked with Balls in ECW and SMW, and I’ve never really enjoyed it. Balls was actually a pretty good worker but mentally I found him very frustrating. We had very different views on what matches should be and I never found a way to communicate this to him. Balls would show up with a ton of ideas, spew them at me at 100 mph, and never seem to consider that I might have ideas of my own. I don’t know whether he did this to try to impress me or if he was just that excited, but more often than not I just gave up trying to talk to him and found doing what he wanted easier than trying to talk to him. Because of this I never liked our matches and approached them more as something to just get over with, rather than something to enjoy. Perhaps this is my fault for not sticking up for what I believed in but Ball always acted like such a nice guy I never had the heart to just put my foot down. Maybe that was his plan and he worked me into always doing what he wanted in matches but he also worked me into hating work with him, and that’s not even taking into account his ungodly stiff chair shots.

That’s it for this month; the four guys I won’t be coming out of retirement to work.

Lance Storm