It has been a very, very long time since I sat down and penned an edition of “The Thompson Perspective” for RasslinRiotOnline. I won’t waste a lot of time with the opening paragraph of this particular column. I’ll just get right down to business.
As I look at the calendar, I rapidly see a “wrestling anniversary” approaching for me. In a matter of days, 14 to be exact, I will celebrate my 10-year anniversary in the wrestling business. My how time certainly does get away from us!
Ten years ago, I was given the opportunity to get into the wrestling business by Ben Oliver, who wrestled professionally as “Big Bad Ben” and to all of the boys was known as “Triple B.” I still have the old e-mail he sent me giving me the chance to start this 10-year rollercoaster ride. Here it is:
It's time to step up to the plate. I'd asked if you ever had thought about being a ring announcer. Well if you are still interested we have a slot open May 20th. Call me today 314 XXX XXXX.
Obviously the “X’s” indicate a phone number that he had at the time. I remember all this like it were yesterday.
Ben’s company was Gateway Championship Wrestling, based in St. Louis, MO. He started it just months after its predecessor Midwest Renegade Wrestling went out of business. GCW was a quality independent promotion.
In the previous 12 months, I had gotten my foot in the door at MRW by doing website reports and show recaps. When GCW formed, I started doing the same for them. It was a huge moment being able to go backstage at GCW’s first show. Today, it seems that everything is so open that I really wonder if it is as meaningful to break in as it used to be.
Anyway, I’m not going to rant and rave. There is plenty of that stuff out all over the internet.
I’m sitting here right now, reflecting on my career. It has been an interesting ride to say the least.
If I review my financial standing, based on my wrestling career, I can’t say that it has been a success. But if I measure the other things of more sentimental value – friendships, being able to perform in front of fans, meeting other people, getting to travel the country, etc. – then it HAS been a success.
Two of my favorite phrases when talking to friends such as Brian Tramel and “Golden Boy” Greg Anthony are “Let me tell you what is wrong with the wrestling business” and “Don’t talk to me today, I hate the wrestling business.”
Well, as frustrated as I can get, I still have to reflect fondly on the past 10 years and say that I have been truly blessed.
Let me tell you a true story that will, especially if you are in the business, make you feel pride in knowing what you are a part of.
When I was putting the initial plans for Ringside Championship Wrestling (RCW) together, I was looking at the Wynne, AR market. Jamie Jay and his PWA promotion had run a few shows in Wynne off and on, but I wasn’t sure if he intended to continue to do so or not. Anyway, I was in talks with a young man in Wynne about getting involved in the promotion.
It was his lifelong dream to be in the wrestling business. He was just 15, so actual in-ring competition was still far away, but as a student still in school he could be a great asset to help promote the new company. He was also a student who was taught by my wife during her recent internship.
This young man was very excited about the thought that in 2010, he would be involved with the wrestling business. Everytime I logged onto Facebook when he was also logged on, inevitably within 30 seconds I had a chat window pop up and he just couldn’t wait to talk about wrestling, RCW and everything. So we chatted. He had the usual exciting questions of, “Can I manage, can I do this or can I do that?” Of course, I had to slow him down and tell him that those things take time.
I was looking forward to having him on staff as a helper when we debuted.
I saw him around the first of December during the annual Wynne Christmas Parade, which is put together by the Cross County Chamber of Commerce where I work my regular job. He was excited to see me and to win the “Grand Champion” float prize for the work of the local boy scout troup he was involved with.
Around Christmas time, I stopped hearing from him. I didn’t think anything about it. My daily life was busy with work, family and getting RCW off the ground. Our first show was cancelled, then rescheduled and finally happened. Ironically, after all the build-up for it, I hadn’t heard a peep from this young man. I did know he had talked to Jamie too about helping with PWA, which was now planning to run Vanndale, AR, just five miles north of Wynne. I actually assumed that he got involved with PWA and was too busy to juggle helping both groups.
The other day, his face popped up on Facebook in the section that tells you to “Reconnect” with someone. So I clicked on his page. I began reading messages from people saying they missed him. At first I’m thinking, he just moved away. As I read more messages, it became more apparent that moving wasn’t the case. This 15-year-old young man had died in early January.
To say I was stunned would be an understatement. As I read more messages, specifically those from around his death, I discovered that he had had several major surgeries on his heart when he was just 18 months old. I had no clue.
Then, reading a post by his father, I learned that he was granted a wish by the “Make-A-Wish Foundation” to go to WrestleMania 26 this year, but he didn’t live to see that chance.
Shame on me for ever really whining about this business. Shame on me for complaining about making a trip. Shame on me for not always remembering what an honor it is to be a part of professional wrestling.
At least I got my chance 10 years ago and the dream continues to this day. This youngster didn’t make it that far.
(Brian Thompson is the co-owner, booker and announcer for Ringside Championship Wrestling. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)