----Greg Anthony with a new column.
Has any one person had more controversy surround him in such short amount of time? Being our areas only legit third generation wrestler made sure that the spotlight was on him from the very beginning. Thanks to RRO News we've been front row for his triumphs and his tribulations. Does Eric live up to his name? What about his reputation? This is just my take.
Reggie B. Fine was running Mondays nights in Memphis under the shadow of the coliseum with Derrick King at the helm. That was the first night I worked Eric Wayne. DK came to us and said that he wanted me over and to come up with a good finish. About 3 seconds after that Eric starts talking about "we can do this, or we could do that" and I told him, politely, to shut up and listen. We went out to work the match and I had to tell him to shut up and listen a few more times when he tried to call stuff over me. The match went well, I knew he was going to be good... if he could just shut up and listen.
Now this wasn't my first encounter with Eric. I was actually around when Eric started reffing. Hard to believe sometimes that I've known him since he was 15 years old. Ken was making him pay his dues by reffing, training, putting up and tearing down the ring. It was said then that if Eric was going to wrestle then he would have to go to college first. I don't think that ever panned out. You could tell then that he was bitten by the bug and once that happens its pretty much all she wrote.
The Kick! Yes, that kick. I was booking for NEW then and was there, although I didn't actually witness the kick until the following week. I remember hearing a thud and an immediate reaction from everyone in the building. It was careless, never should have happened but in a way it needed to happen. For Eric, for us, for Greg King. I'm not a religious man but if you are then you have to believe this was a small part of something greater.
In that single moment several people learned a lot about themselves. Greg King, like a novella, learned about a series of unfortunate events. I was the one that calmed the situation that night, trying to keep everyone level headed. I talked to Greg several times in the 24 hour period after the kick but then like a ghost he was gone. He cut himself off from everybody and everything about the business. His mother didn't support his wrestling and was in attendance that night. As a father I understood her concern but as a man, who never had the support of his family, I knew that nobody could ever tell me not to wrestle. I'm not saying that Greg should have wrestled with a fractured face but if he had the heart that I thought he had, then it wouldn't have been as easy as it was to walk away and I ,for one, miss Greg King.
For Eric, the kick was a wake up call. The backlash and outcry from the boys was an onslaught. Eric for the most part at that time had acted like he was entitled. Because he was Ken Wayne's son, Buddy Wayne's grandson. He hadn't been wrestling that long but came off to the students at the school like they owed him something. I could see it in every interaction with them and feel a subtle, uneasy tension between the group. The kick humbled him, made him realize that mistakes were going to be made, things that were his fault and how he handled them and how he was perceived was going to be the bottom line.
Eric learned that you never stop learning in this business. That the sharing of knowledge is the only way the business can flourish. I see Eric being a lot more gracious with people. I see his overall interaction with Ken's students and the locker room improving everyday. He is commanding respect instead of demanding respect. He is also made a conscious effort to be safer with everyone.
Eric Wayne made mistakes but guess what? It was some of the same mistakes I made, that we all made. Most of us were allowed to learn and grow under the radar. Eric has since been one of our best in ring performers and willing to learn from everyone. Its been a tough road but he is one of my favorite people in the business. Reputations and perceptions are hard to change, I hope that if you have any negative feelings that this article maybe will shine some light on some dark subjects. Some people may not forgive and no one will probably forget but just remember there isn't a man that hasn't made a mistake, I promise.