(9/11: 10 Years later: FS Reprint
December 05, 2011
I wrote the following for my "Storm Front" article for "Fighting Spirit" Magazine, back in September, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
This magazine is hitting news stands around the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, so in memory of that day I want to share with you my personal story of being stranded on 9/11.
I was traveling with Justin Credible that weekend, and after RAW in San Antonio, TX on 9/10 we had a 3 hr drive to Houston for SmackDown. We arrived in Houston about 3am and checked into the Super 8 Motel on I-10.
I was woken up on Tuesday 9/11 by phone call from my Mom. She just saw the first plane going into the Towers on the news and knew I was in the United States and wanted to make sure I was okay. She called likely just before 8 am local time, so I was completely out of it and half asleep when I answered the phone. I assured her I was fine and brushed her off just wanting to get back to sleep. After I hung up I tried to go back to sleep but started thinking about what she just told me. My brain started to wake up and I realized something big was going on, sat up, and turned on CNN.
I started to see footage of the planes going into the twin towers and the scope of the situation hit me. I immediately woke up PJ (I never called him Justin) and we sat watching the news trying to figure out what was happening. We called around to find out what we were supposed to do, and were told to come to the building as usual and the office would let us know what was going on.
Check in was noon, but I think PJ and I got there by 11. The mood was very sombre as everyone walked around backstage killing time, and talking to their families, while waiting for news. We were eventually told that SmackDown was cancelled for the night but we would all have to hang around in Houston because we were going to do a live SmackDown show on Thursday.
PJ and I headed back to the Super 8 to wait until Thursday for the live SmackDown. I then had to call my wife to let her know that I would not be coming home as scheduled and to be honest I wasn't sure when I would be able to get home as all airlines were grounded.
I was nervous about doing the live show on Thursday. WWE was making a big deal about being the first public assembly after 9/11 and we were in the home town of the President of the United States. This sure seemed like a prime target for further terrorist attacks, so I think everyone was a little on edge, which made for a dark quiet mood back stage.
During the day we were told we could shoot individual comments which would be aired throughout the show. We didn't have to comment if we didn't want to but the pre-tape room would be set up all day if we decided to. I wasn't originally going to comment but Paul Heyman pulled me aside during the day and encouraged me to do so. He told me I offered a different perspective being Canadian, and that he thought it was important I spoke up. I spent the rest of the day searching for the right words, which I never found; I finally just went into the room and spoke from the heart.
For the match that night it was going to be me and Hurricane against the Hardy Boys, and all 4 of us knew this show was about just trying to have fun and making people forget about the events of Tuesday, if but for a few minutes. Arn Anderson was our agent and I still laugh when I think about him that night. We were still fairly fresh out of WCW and Arn was ever the politician when it came to giving finishes; a skill he no doubt developed agenting prima donnas in WCW.
Arn pulled me and Hurricane aside and started the long, "break it to them gentle" speech that we were going to have to do the job tonight. He started with, this isn't a regular show... with the events from Tuesday… tonight is more about making this a feel good show, so we were hoping to slide them over. "Slide them over" is covert slang which means you have to lose but also tries to imply that it is not really decisively and somehow allows you to save face. Hurricane and I had been putting these guys over since we got to WWE and more than understood the point of this show so we just looked at Arn, and said, we figured one of us would just take both of their finishers... Twist of Fate, Swanton right in the middle of the ring. Arn's face lit up with a, "thank God they aren't going to bitch about the finish" expression on his face, and replied, "That would be great, thanks" and off he went.
With the match plan out of the way the real decision making had to be done. How do we get home? All flights were cancelled so no one was flying anywhere. All drop charges were removed by rental car companies to better allow people stranded on the road to return home, which ended up helping out a lot of the guys, but didn't do me any good. Most of the boys lived in Tampa so they all packed up and drove the 15 hours home after the show, figuring that flights would be back up in time to fly to Nashville for TV on Monday, and if they weren't they were home, what did they care. Unfortunately for me, Calgary was a 34 hr drive and I wasn't about to do that by myself. I decided to just drive to Nashville and spend the weekend there waiting for RAW on Monday.
PJ lived in Connecticut and there were a few people doing the road trip back to the New York area, but he decided to dance with who brung him, and stayed on the road with me. I was very grateful for the company and we made the 13 hour drive over the next 2 days. I very vividly remember driving into Nashville Saturday afternoon and seeing a plane in the air and the relief we both felt that things were getting back to normal and there was a good chance we'd be able to fly home on Wed.
RAW in Nashville and SmackDown in Memphis I have no recollection of what so ever; All I remember is wanting to go home. The news was suggesting anyone flying arrive at least 3 hrs before their flight to allow for security delays, but what they didn't tell us was that airline employees would not be showing up for work 3 hrs early, so those on the first flight of the day, like I was, arrived in time to stand in front of an unmanned airline counter for 2 hrs doing nothing. The airport was a zoo but I did eventually make it home on 9/19, seven days late.
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