August 29, 2010
It has been a horrific month for the pro-wrestling industry. I was away on vacation for the last couple of weeks and in that time there has been eight deaths in the pro wrestling industries. I did not know all of the people who passed away and thankfully many of them were not early tragic deaths but a couple of them certainly were.
The only death that really strikes close to home, for me, was that of Lance Cade. I knew Lance and worked with him often during my time in WWE and as soon as I head the news I knew I would have to write something as a tribute to him. I did not know the others well enough to really comment too much on their passing but thought I would be disrespectful to at least not mention them briefly and offer my condolences to their friends and families.
Mickey Garagiola passed away this morning at age 89.
Mickey Garagiola was the longtime television ring announcer for "Wrestling at the Chase" in St. Louis.
Kotetsu Yamamoto passed away the morning of August 29th in Japan at the age of 68.
Yamamoto was from what I understand more famous as a trainer for New Japan than a worker and is credited for mentoring, Jushin Liger, Akira Maeda, Nobuhiko Takada, Koji Kanemoto, and Hiroshi Hase, to name but a few. That is an impressive list so Kotetsu Yamamoto has certainly left his mark on the wrestling industry.
Anton Geesink passed away August 27th at the age of 76.
I had never heard of Anton Geesink before and he was actually far better known for his career in Judo than that as a professional wrestler but I found it fascinating to learn that he was actually an Olympic Gold Medalist (in Judo) who got into pro wrestling long before Kurt Angle took credit for being the only Olympic Gold Medalist in pro wrestling history. Geesink won Gold in Judo at the 1964 Olympic game in Japan, and went on to a brief five year pro wrestling career for All Japan pro wrestling from 1973 to 1978.
ďToughĒ Tony Bourn also passed away on August 27th, at the age of 84.
Tony Bourn was before my time so I canít even say Iíve ever seen him work, but in addition to being a successful wrestler in his own right he was the father of wrestler Matt Bourn, who most people should remember as either Big Josh from his WCW days or as the original Doink the Clown in the WWF.
Luna Vachon was found dead on August 27th at the age of 48.
Iím not sure I ever met Luna but if I did it would have only been a brief introduction, but I certainly knew of her and knew her work. Luna had a 2 year run in the WWF from 92-94 and then moved on to ECW from 94-97. She left ECW right before I got there having a brief WCW run before heading back to the WWF until 2000 again leaving right before I got there. Luna was an amazing character and a really strong worker. 48 is far too young she will be greatly missed.
Skandor Akbar passed away August 20th at the age of 75.
While I had never met Skandor I am certainly familiar with his work as the infamous heel manager in World Class Championship Wrestling. Akbar was the leader of Devastation Incorporated which was a tremendous heel faction. Itís a shame that great heel managers like the Skandor Akbar are a thing of the past in this industry, and it is of course an even bigger tragedy that Skandor Akbar the person is no longer with us either.
ďNightmareĒ Ted Allen passed away on August 19th at the age of 54.
I had to really shake my brain to remember Ted Allen but I eventually jogged my brain sufficiently to remember that I met Ted Allen in 1994 while I was working for Smokey Mountain Wrestling. There was a brief period where SMW used one of Ted Allenís wrestling rings for shows and it was during that period that I met him. I donít recall ever seeing Ted work, but like Kotetsu Yamamoto he has a fairly impressive list of guys he trained in the business, guys like: Arn Anderson, Scotty Riggs, Ranger Ross, and the late Big Bossman.
Lance Cade passed away on August 13th at the age of 29.
This death hit me pretty hard. I was away on vacation when I got a text message telling me about his death, and I really didnít want to believe that it was true. It didnít take me long to confirm the news and I canít begin to put into words how disappointed and sad I was.
I worked with Lance Cade a lot during my time in WWE including having his WWE debut match on Sunday Night Heat. It was the battle of the Lanceís, which I won with the sharp shooter (match available on YouTube) which led to him being renamed Garrison Cade in coming weeks, because WWE decided they didnít want two wrestlers named Lance on the same show. I have no idea who came up with the name Garrison, but Christian and I always used to rib him about the moniker and joked they should have called him Barry so he could be Barry Cade (Barricade).
After being renamed he was partnered with Mark Jyndrak and we again worked together in countless tag team matches both on TV and on the road. We always had a lot of fun together and I would often structure our tag matches so we were paired up in the ring and got to work together as much as possible.
Lance was also my opponent for the infamous ďBoring MatchĒ I had on RAW where Steve Austin came out with a blanket and pillow and started my big ďBoringĒ gimmick push. We also crossed paths again in OVW after I retired and became a trainer. Cade was down in OVW for a while getting back in shape after a knee injury before bring brought back up to the main roster in a tag team with Trevor Murdock, this time as Lance Cade since I was no longer on the roster.
I didnít know Lance that well on a personal level but do feel I played an in ring mentoring role for him during his time in WWE, and I have nothing but fond memories of him. Rest in Peace my friend you will be missed. Iím sorry I wasnít there to be an outside the ring mentoring presence for you as well. I will always wonder if I could have made a difference.