Thursday, June 08, 2006

After Shock

In the summer of 1990 there was one worry passing my mind. It was the holiday before I had to go to the big school, as they say but it wasn't high school I was worried about.

Hulk Hogan had been manhandled for the first time ever (well, from my viewpoint anyway). The big Earthquake had beaten him to a pulp and cracked his ribs on an episode of WWF television and there was doubt he would ever return.

Sure, I was the biggest wrestling mark back then and I believed that it was possible that my hero wasn't going to return. Tugboat, another wrestler, had urged all the fans to write get well messages to The Hulkster and in return they were going to send Hulk Hogan wristbands to the Hulkamaniacs who supported him.

I didn't get the band.

But Hogan returned and defeated Earthquake at the Summer Slam event in August of that year. A few days later I started school.

Four years later I saw Earthquake wrestle at Cardiff Arena in one of the most memorable matches I have of travelling the UK watching wrestling. The former sumo star had by this time become a good guy, or babyface as it is widely known as and he was up against another behemoth in Bam Bam Bigelow.

I don't know what happened in the match but something happened that I still haven't forgotten. The two enemies were both laughing. Something had happened in the ring and as Earthquake was whipping his foe into the ropes they were both in hysterics and unable to keep in character.

It was a surreal moment seeing something like that happen in a wrestling ring. A few months earlier I walked down the stereet talking to Shawn Michaels and Randy Savage showing them the way to a gym in Cardiff yet that evening they put their show faces on and were rivals in the centre of the ring. Seeing Bigelow and Earthquake laughing along with each other allowed me to know that I was seeing something really different. If it had happeend at a TV taping then it would have surely ended up on the cutting room floor so it was something that I will always remember of when wrestlers broke character.

Over the years I had been able to keep tabs on Earthquake (John Tenta) as he was a regular poster on a message board I visit frequently. In recent years he had been keeping everyone informed of his health issues. A little over a year ago he told us in one of his posts that his doctor had given him only a few more months to live.

He passed away today after losing his fight with cancer.

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