I believe through the years, my feelings for professional wrestling have run in cycles. At times, being a fan almost felt like a ‘life decision’. I was either fully-invested, or completely checked out.
I slipped away from wrestling, and damn near everything, around 2006. For some reason, all the things I was once passionate about didn’t matter anymore, and there was certainly no ‘heat’ in my life. I had been involved in media, sales and promotions since the time I was 14, and had been suffering burnout. Along with that stagnation, I had developed a very serious drinking problem. It was one that eventually crippled me both mentally and physically.
Around eight years later, I found myself on a hospital bed, diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. My toxin count was 36 times the normal human level, and my organs were failing. I was given a literal DEADLINE of about 20 days to ponder the eternity of all the damage I had done. If my condition didn’t improve vastly, there wasn’t going to be nearly enough time to find a doner.
It did get better, slowly… and then all at once. For some astonishing reason, I took to some treatments that ended up saving my life. And while I can’t say I’m proud of how I got there, I can say that the survivor here today is a much better and smarter man than he was in his first life.
So I figured out a lot of hard lessons from my near-death experience. I also learned a little one that there’s no doubt about anymore: I’m DEFINITELY a wrestling fan.
Laying in that bed -hardly able to move for about three months- was not only brutal, it was boring. And while it was nice catching up with Tony Dow and The Fonz on Nick at Night, those re-runs were starting to get old. I needed some more excitement.
That’s when I turned to an old friend. I was clicking through the channels one evening and, like a stray returning home, stopped when I got to wrestling.
It was a ring reunion, but with a bunch of new family members. People were doing moves I had never seen, and fresh faces were popping up all over the place. I strangely even found myself compelled by the hokiest of storylines.
It was as if my ability to be judgmental had gone away. And as it did, so did my pain.
Or, maybe that was the morphine.
When I finally got home, I was exhausted, in excruciating pain and taking 11 different medications a day. Because of being incapacitated for 71 straight days, I couldn’t walk and the recovery was going to be a long one. It would be about five months before I stopped using my cane.
I was somewhat free, but still fighting illness, addiction and loneliness. So, I reached for the remote, and I kept on watching the sport that I grew up adoring.
Suddenly, I had a new life. A new wrestling life.
I began listening to podcasts and watching matches on YouTube, catching up on what I had missed. I touched base with friends from the business who had no idea what had happened to me. They were stunned; it was like they thought I had died or something.
In the meantime, I began to write sports again on a local, and then eventually, national level. Things were different, however. Sobriety gave me a magic and a creativity that I hadn’t enjoyed in my first life, and becoming a fan again was a big part of that.
When I was down, wrestling made me feel like I wasn’t alone. In that cold, dark hospital room, the pyro on the screen would flicker and dance in my little corner of the world. When I was fighting to stay awake, the action in the ring kept me excited. My pain was replaced by powerslams, and my suffering was slowly being stretched into submission.
Now, I’m not the kind of guy who preaches about miracles, and I’m certainly not saying that professional wrestling ‘healed’ me. But, for just a few hours a week, it at least put my misery in a headlock.
Three months ago, I started TheGorillaPosition, with that same kind of emotion and excitement. The one that I re-discovered at my darkest hour. What started out as a tragedy actually took me back to the arena. What could have crushed me, led me right into the loving bearhug of the squared circle.
And, a return to ringside gave also me an idea that I could actually write about the people and the stories that make the sport so great. To talk about the childhood memories that gave us goosebumps so powerful, they made your skin hurt. To remind people of the warm tears of watching a champion crowned, or the cold tears of seeing one pass away.
Or maybe… I just want that magic to live forever. Like it did when I was dying.
So, I suppose our wrestling life does run in cycles. I know mine has. It gave me entertainment. Then, it gave me hope. And now, it’s given me purpose.
This is wrestling. I live for this.