December 08, 2006
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in August, and is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
This month on the Storm Front we are going to get serious for a minute, and talk about the traveling end of the business and how current terror threats effect those of us in the industry. I’ve said many times that the worst part of this business is the travel and that is most certainly the case in the post 9-11 era. It’s been 5 years since 9-11 (Give or take, depending on this months publication date) and when we were just getting comfortable with air travel and the level of security measures we had to deal with another severe terror plot is discovered in London. Thankfully this plot was discovered in time and we only had to suffer huge travel inconveniences rather than numerous deaths.
I still remember 9-11 like it was yesterday. Justin Credible and I were sharing a room in a hotel in Houston, TX. My Mom woke me up with a phone call of the news, and I turned on CNN just in time to see the second plane hit the towers. We still drove to the arena that day where we were told that we would post pone taping Smack Down till Thursday and do it live.
That Thursday was the strangest event I’ve ever worked. Most of us didn’t want to be there and I think everyone was at least a little bit scared. I tagged with The Hurricane that night to face the Hardy Boys. I still remember Arn Anderson was our agent and he pulled us aside to tell us, “We just want a light, feel good show tonight so we need you guys to slip the baby faces over.” (Agent tend to try justify asking you to do a job) I remember my response being, “Slip them over… like take both their finishes right in the middle.” Arn thought that would be fine (LOL). When the show was over I think we were all just relieved to be through it.
I had to stay on the road the whole next week because air travel was so restricted. Most of the boys drove home, but Houston to Calgary is a bit too far and chances of getting an International flight back to Memphis (For RAW the next week) were pretty thin. Justin stayed on the road with me and I remember how excited we were as we drove into Memphis a day or two before RAW and saw the first plane back in the air since 9-11, it was a sign that things were getting back to normal, but believe me they still had a long way to go.
For months after 9-11 tensions were high on all flights and the extended security delays were unbelievable. It often took an extra hour or two to clear check in and security, which may not seem that bad to most people but when you are boarding up to five flight per week, it can add up to an extra 6 or 8 hours of travel time to an already grueling schedule. Another thing that made it tough was all the additional searches that were done. In some airports checked luggage was searched on tables out in the open airport concourse. We would often get recognized and have fans standing around watching security going through our luggage. Random searches never seemed to be completely at random either and I honestly believe some of the boys were chosen as an excuse for security to talk to someone famous. In addition to the delays, extra searches, and added aggravation, was the stress on family members at home. I know my wife was increasingly worried every week when I flew, post 9-11. I think it took a long time before everyone could breath easy stepping onto a plane again.
It is because of this stress and inconvenience that I am so happy I am not on the road any more. With the new travel tensions and security measures in place in airports after the arrests in London, am relieved to be at home in Calgary with nothing more than a 15 minutes drive to work. With the new security restrictions and possible pending ones (like no electronic or food on board) travel will become even more unbearable.
I think fear is at a lesser level that right after 9/11, because this terror plot was discovered and prevented but all the travel restrictions and increased security has returned. In Europe now you are no longer allowed carry on bags, nor can you bring on food, drink, or electronic devices. I can’t even imagine having to travel regularly as a wrestle under these conditions.
If these measures are adopted in North America, the boys are going to go crazy. When I was on the road I never boarded a flight without at least a couple protein bars, and usually an additional bottle of water, to keep from starving to death in flight. Airline food is barely enough to keep anorexics alive and the boys, quite obviously, eat far more than normal people. How any of them are going to survive without protein bars and shakes I have no idea, especially on long International flight.
No electronics will be the last straw. I think I’d rather be on a plane with a dozen terrorists than on a long flight with the boys without their electronic equipment. No I-Pods, no laptops, no portable DVD players, no portable X-Box or Play Station 2s. I don’t know what everyone is going to do to avoid going crazy on board. This may seem like a small point but I’d bet on average the boys log maybe 30 – 40 hours in the air each month. That is a lot of time to kill, without their usually means by which to kill it. Perhaps reading books will become more popular and I can convince some of the boys to join my online book club “Book Marks”.
All the travel inconveniences aside, it is truly all about safety and it is because of that end I actually turned down my return trip to 1PW this fall. I had been holding off making a commitment because my right knee has been giving me some trouble, and I was on the fence trying to decide if it would hold up well for another match. I was pretty sure it would, but with my commitment to the school I wasn’t sure I should risk it. The day after the terror plot in London was discovered, I made my decision to turn down the trip. I talked with my wife and we decided even a small increase in risk wasn’t worth it. As much as I loved working for 1PW the first time, the potential travel risk, and the guaranteed travel inconveniences, just made the minuses, of the trip, out weigh the plusses.
Perhaps in the future things will settle down and the plusses will once again out weigh the minuses. I’ve always loved wrestling in the UK and I would very much like to have my match with AJ Styles over there at some point.
All the best everyone, and to all the boys, travel safe!