WWE, PWA, and a Pain in my Neck
August 29, 2011
It's been a while since I wrote a full commentary, which I apologize for, but for the most part it is unavoidable. When I'm not on the road my life is pretty routine and not all that exciting. August too is an off month for me at SWA so I tend to spend it with my family doing regular run of the mill stuff. I don't imagine many of you want to read about me walking my dog, or bike riding with my daughter. As you've no doubt figured out by now, provided you've spent anytime at all here at StormWrestling.com, I am not a very exciting person when it comes to my personal life. I read books, play with my kids, and stay home with my wife. All the said there were 4 big wrestling shows in Alberta this past week, so I've finally got stuff to talk about.
Before I get to that forever I do have some other important news I've been meaning to share as well. I've been having some health issues since the beginning of May, which I have been kayfabing, everyone on. I spoke about this in depth during my last Figure 4 Daily interview on the Wrestling Observers site (I do a show there every other week) and I've been meaning to address it here since then and I will finally do that now. The reason I kayfabed this "injury" so long is that I didn't have the problem diagnosed so I didn't see the point in talking about it until I had a handle on what was really going on. I've got the problem diagnosed now and thankfully it is not a major one and for the most part no longer a problem.
In the beginning of May I started suffering a headache and some dizziness. It started the first day of my in ring training of my May SWA training session. I did several somersaults and when I stood up I was quiet dizzy. This did not alarm me at first because for several years now slight dizziness after spinning or rolling has been fairly common. It only ever lasted a brief moment and I always figured it was just from some degree of permanent whiplash or something from years of bumping and getting banged around. The difference this time was that in stead of lasting a few minutes, an hour tops; it lasted for several weeks.
The majority of symptoms I was suffering were those of post concussion syndrome but they were not brought on by a bump to the head. I suffered through still teaching my class just trying to avoid rolling or spinning, because they exacerbated the situations. Oddly enough bumping didn't make things worse, but I did try to minimize what I did physically. I quit going to the gym and after class would for the most part just go home and rest not feeling well enough to do much else.
I went to my doctor who set up an MRI and referred me to both a neck and spine clinic as well as a neurologist to look at my brain. It took a while to get in to both places but thankfully after minimizing everything I did, my symptoms were tolerable. It was only a couple week ago I finally got into the neck and spine clinic and I found out that I have some narrowing on the nerve between C3 and C4. This not only explained my current problem but some minor discomforts I've had over the years as well. The problem was deemed no where near severe enough to require surgery so I've started physiotherapy and am feeling a million times better already. I am back in the gym, thank goodness, the 4 months away from the gym was the longest break I've had from the gym since I started working out in 1982. I've got some specific stretching, and strengthening exercises to do, and apart from giving up swimming (something I didn't do much of anyway) I'm pretty much good to go once again.
I had my neurology appointment this past week and they too agreed with the neck diagnosis, so any spelling mistakes or stupid comment I make here are just a result of me being an idiot and not as a result of any brain trauma or injury I may have suffered. On the up side of all this, my neck MRI revealed that the discs in my neck are all in really good shape, which surprised the hell out of me. After 21 years of abuse in the ring and the number of friends and coworkers who have been diagnosed with bulging, herniated, and even ruptured discs in their necks I figured for sure I'd have at least some degree of disc deterioration, which I don't. So in the grand scheme of things I am actually in better shape than I expected.
Okay with all of that now out of the way, on to the events of the past week. WWE was in Alberta last week, doing RAW in Edmonton and SmackDown here in Calgary. This is always a great opportunity for me because I get a chance to visit some friends as well as get some of my SWA students booked as extras on the shows. If you aren't familiar with the extras gimmick, WWE books 4-6 local workers for all televised events. They do this so they have people at their disposal for odd roles on TV. Many of the security people you see on TV, the guys you see handing out paper bags for Cody Rhodes, or guys who get killed by name guys in short squash matches are all guys booked as extras. In addition to the potential bit parts on the show the extras usually get to get in the ring in the afternoon and get looked at by WWE. The hope is if they impress enough they might land a developmental deal. I got 5 of my former students booked at these tapings, 4 guys and 1 girl. All 4 of the guys made TV in some capacity and they all had at least one match in the afternoon under the watchful eye of WWE staff. I heard a lot of great feedback and (fingers crossed) am hopeful at least a couple of them might hear back from the office in the near future.
For me it was just a chance to catch up with old friends. It started for me on Sunday when Christian flew into Calgary early for a day of Media on Monday before the SD taping. I picked him up at the airport and we went out for lunch and got caught up. I hadn't seen Christian in quiet a while so we had a long lunch and a great visit. He even picked up the check so he must have really missed me.
At RAW I realized that the WWE roster has changed a lot since I was there last and there aren't that many people still on the roster from when I was on the road. With Mysterio, Kane, and Big Show off the road right now I was really struggling to find familiar faces in the locker room. Thank goodness for the behind the scenes staff who are largely the same, to provide me with someone to talk to. Across both shows the only people on the active roster that were there when I worked there were, Christian, Mark Henry, Randy Orton, and John Cena. There were a ton of other familiar faces of course, like William Regal, Booker T, HHH, Jim Ross, Billy Kidman, Dean Malenko, and Kevin Nash, to name but a few, but it was certainly a different environment.
I had a great time at RAW in spite of the horrendous Calgary to Edmonton drive. I had to be on the road by 7:30 am Monday in order to meet up with my students and get to Edmonton in time for the 12 noon check in time. I didn't have to make check in time obviously but my students had to be on time and like me they wanted to play it safe so we made the show almost an hour ahead of check in time. Extra work isn't really a try out per say, but you've got to treat it like one and you never want to show up late to what could potentially be a job interview. We got out of the show around 10pm and then had the 3 hr drive home so Monday was a very long day.
SmackDown was a 2 pm check in without the long drive so Tuesday was much easier. I again hung out backstage and my wife and kids came to the show and sat in the crowd. My kids wanted to see the live show so WWE left them great tickets, first row just to the right of the announce desk (Thanks Steve). They really enjoyed the show and were brought backstage afterwards, to say high to everyone. My youngest daughter wanted an autograph from Randy Orton so I had to be the good dad and get it for her. I felt like a total jerk bothering Randy right after his match at the end of the night, but he was very cool and signed the autograph and had a short chat with my daughter. I always feel like such a mark asking the boys for stuff but thankfully I'd worked Randy several times and know him pretty well, which made it easier, and he was very nice to my daughter (Thanks Randy) Oddly enough, I actually gave Randy his first WWE TV match almost a decade ago.
If that wasn't enough wrestling for one week Friday and Saturday was our local PWA shows with Friday in Edmonton and Saturday in Calgary. 4 shows in 6 days, I was beginning to feel like I was back on the road, and unfortunately on Friday that road was the one between Calgary and Edmonton again, which as I mentioned earlier, is a horrendous one. It's not so much that it is a bad drive its just a very boring one, and since I do it every month for PWA already doing it twice in 5 days made it all the worse.
The upside to this trip though was that PWA had booked my old friend Tommy Dreamer on the shows so I would get yet another reunion. Tommy flew into Edmonton avoiding the afternoon drive but from there he would be riding with me so he'd get to experience the drive back as well as my hospitality because he would be staying at Casa de Storm while in Alberta. Friday night he has booked in a tag match, teaming with the PWA Champion facing two of my best students, and PWA top heels. I was the special guest referee so I knew we were going to have a fun night and a great match.
Out of the finish for the match we were going to do a bit of an angle setting up heat between Tommy and Chris Steele (his partner and PWA Champ). Post match Tommy was going to bump me, before trying to get into it with Steele. The other referees and security were to keep them apart, which we hoped would create enough interest in a match between the two of them to convince a few of the fans to make the trip to Calgary to see them fight the next night.
Unfortunately the confrontation got very heated and the crowd was so into the fight that they were booing very heavily when we announced that the fight would be taking place the next night in Calgary. I did not want to send the crowd home unhappy so as I was selling the bump I took from Dreamer I told one of the refs to go ask Tommy if he would be willing to do a short 5 minute match with me right now. The ref looked stunned but I told him again, "Go ask Tommy if he will do an impromptu match with me right now, I'll put him over with either the DVD or the DDT". The ref asked Tommy and came back to tell me, "Tommy said he'll do what ever you want".
From here we got Steele out of the ring, announced the match for Calgary, but before Tommy could leave I called him out for the bump he gave me earlier, challenging him to a fight, which he accepted. This was the most off the cuff on the fly match I'd ever done in my life but we were only going to go a few minutes and it's not like Tommy and I hadn't worked together a million times before. We fought for 2 or 3 minutes before Tommy hit me with his Death Valley Driver and he pinned me 1...2...3. The crowd popped huge and Tommy closed the show with a few words reminding them about the match with Steele in Calgary. The crowd went home happy and I believe a few fans did make the trip to Calgary to see the show the next night.
The drive back to Calgary was a lot of fun for a change, because it gave Tommy and I a chance to catch up and Tommy Dreamer stories are always entertaining so we laughed most of the way back to Calgary, arriving home at Casa de Storm at 3 am. Saturday we hit the gym and then the show. I wasn't involved in the show Saturday night but Dreamer and Steele put on a hell of a match, which the crowd was on their feet for almost the whole time. After the show Dreamer cut a great promo putting over everyone, capping off a great night for fans.
To make it an end to a true wrestling week, Tommy's flight on Sunday was at 6 am so we had to be up by 4 am the next morning in order to get him to the airport on time. It was like being back on the road all over again: 4 shows over 6 days with the up side of seeing all the boys again (I even had a match), and of course the down side, 16 hours in the car and a 4 am trip to the airport. If that wasn't bad enough, Dreamer's flight on Sunday had a connection (there was a direct flight available) it was delayed and the airline lost his luggage. Ah the wrestling business, you've got to love it.
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