It was 2 years ago today, December 11, that I drove out of Winnipeg to establish an office in BC. I have since put on 55,000KM plus rentals, flights, cabs and rides. 7 days ago I skidded on the icy sidewalk of Winnipeg Airport to head back to LA via Chicago. Today I dipped my foot in the Pacific Ocean and grabbed some grub on the Venice boardwalk, waiting for my laundry. Tonight I spoke with Chyna. I count my blessings everyday.
Last night Gorgeous Michelle Starr called. We saw each other in July in Compton, when he and Dan Denton first went to meet the Revolution Pro promotion I had found at the XPW show in May. (Thank you, Steve Rizzono). He asked me what I thought of Chris Jericho becoming World Champion. Starr asked how Ron Rivera (AWC) and his Revolution Pro crew did at our CPW card on Sunday. And of course, we talked about ECCW's decision to put their belt o my friend, Chance Beckett. The more we talked, the more I realized that the 3 questions were related. It all comes down to dreams.
The Rev Pro kids all have dreams. Super Dragon, Rising Sun, #1 contender Disco Machine, these are young men with straight jobs, many do movies and TV here, yet they still risk themselves in Lucha spotfests in venues with no showers. They are paying their dues. They all have respect for the business and there is not a smart-ass in the bunch. Guys like Buddy George and Cpl. Stryker couldn't be more helpful
in getting the ring up. They dream of Japan, of not just the big offices but the niche ones where proresu lives in the hybrid of lucha/shoot/strongstyle in the Orient. And deep down, with no alternative to dream of, for sure some of them dream of the WWF.
Chance Beckett was a kid from Cranbrook BC, a theatre kid who led a band and had a dream. He went thru torture in the Hart Dungeon, damn near the last of the era, and struggled for years to find his stride. Then came his stint in The Player's Club with Gigolo Steve Rizzono, and he found his character. When he committed to Vancouver full time to wrestle and train rookies, he stayed at and helped organize my office. He is my friend.
His natural ability and charisma were evident 2 years ago and I told ECCW that. What they didn't see was his dedication. Beckett absorbed tape after tape, old AWA, his favorite Stampede stars like Dynamite Kid and Chris Benoit, every Shawn Michaels tape I had, AAA When Worlds Collide, 1995 ECW, shootstyle PPVs and even the indy stuff from Winnipeg. "What the damn diddly?", after Bulldog Bob Brown busted PuppyDog Peloquin open with a plastic 8 gallon jug.
Chance has matured to the point he is ECCW's best worker, in a company with Tony Kozina and Bret Como and Torch. Owner Dave Republic said that the best indy match he ever saw was Asian Coogar vs. Mr.. Showtime Chance Beckett. I have seen him make green opponents like Scotty Mac and Seth look good last March. He is a great trainer. Now, Chance is the charismatic featured performer in an era where there is a lot of talent he can be showcased with if there is the will. Doors can open worldwide. But I remember the long talks about Chance Beckett's dream - Wrestlemania with the WWF. WWF. The kid from Cranbrook still dreams.
THE CHAMPS FIRST DAY
I met Chris Jericho his first day in the wrestling business. It was July 1, 1989. Strangely to think of it now, but it was not nearly the Canada Day holiday we now celebrate, a lot of people thought nothing of working on July 1, to many people it was still Dominion Day, which was never a patriotic or big deal. So on that sunny day, at the usual wrestler haunt of the AWA, the Polo Park Inn, an indy crew was meeting to go up north. This young slightly built teen came up to me and shook my hand.
"I'm Chris Irvine."
"'Oh ya, I heard, you're Ted Irvine's kid. I met your dad a couple of times at Jets games...why do you want to go on the tour?"
"Well, I'm helping with the ring."
" Uh-huh, I know but why go up north to haul a ring around?"
"I wanna be a wrestler."
I couldn't believe my ears. In those days, it seemed unlikely, to be kind about it. He was small and short and young and I couldn't believe that this aspiring Red River College journalist, son of an NHL hockey player, wanted to get into the ring. But Chris had a dream. The road trip he took will be covered later. With the kinds of vets (Joe Cagle) on the tour, for sure Chris saw some weird things that summer. He survived somehow.
Off to Calgary and the indy grind. He and I spoke a few times when he'd pass through doing shows for WFWA, we went to the Grant Hotel one night where Chi Chi Cruz or Gene Swan was bouncing. Chris was always a nice guy to me. This was in 92 or 93- then he was off to Mexico, Japan and ECW.
Years later one of his closest high school friends, Geoff started coming around my office to watch those silly old Jericho tapes I have from Winnipeg. He became like a second family to me. Yet his house has tons of Jericho memorabilia. On a daily basis, I get asked if I know him. Then when Starr asked me how I felt, I realized this was a very strange, once in a lifetime occurrence.
How many people can say they met a world champion his first day in the business? How many share close friends with one? From the same hometown?
Worked guys in common? These are all small numbers. Yet when Chris Irvine became UNdisputed World Champion at WWF Vengance, my life had a little bit of history added to it.
I told Starr, this business is like lightning in a bottle. Right place, right time. The right crew, the right house, the right opponent, the right finish. Jericho rode a wave that took him from Winnipeg to the top of McMahonland. That was his dream. Maybe it could have been Cruz or someone else from Winnipeg instead, but lady luck, talent and duel citizenship helped the breaks fall to Chris.
Now the Revolution Pro guys, and Chance Beckett too, look to capture lightning in a bottle. Their dream is the same one Chris Irvine had in 1989. New York, Wrestlemania, World Champion. That dream, a one-in-a-million shot, is what drives the fire inside indy wrestlers nowadays. In that regard, his victory may not draw a dime but it has given hope to every underdog in the locker room that one day, maybe they will be signed, they will be asked to carry the ball.
One of Jericho's big programs in WWF was with Chyna. Tonight I met Joanie Laurer at a take-out in Marina Del Rey. She was gracious and looked great. She said she loved the business, but it wasn't what it was. She loves where we live but also enjoys going to Toronto to film. I told her I never had more opportunities than when I went into the film business. I am not at all comparing Joanie's career with my own. It is just that we both had dreams in the wrestling business, now we have dreams of success in Los Angeles, thanks to the wrestling business. Hollywood, like wrestling, is in the business of dreams.
For Joanie the doors opened into the WWF. For Jericho the same. For Beckett or Super Dragon, or Spyder or Vance Nevada in Winnipeg, or a thousand other indy workers, they dream and sweat and bleed and ache, for that dream of that door opening. Keep the faith, boys.
Me, I used to dream of Venice Beach...