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Journal 9
by Tony Kozina on 2000-01-26

After weeks of constant emails, and phone calls back and forth confirming, cancelling, renegotiating and finalizing everything, I finally packed my bags and headed to the Portland International Airport. I've heard wrestlers and promoters say in tv interviews that they "negotiated for hours", and have "finally reached an agreement" or "come to terms" on a certain match that would take place, and I always thought it was just hype for the show, which i'm sure in those cases it probably was. In my case however, and especially in the last week before I left, I was emailing, and making phone calls for up to 6 hours a day preparing for the trip. Oh sure, anyone who knows me would say I'm a "Nervous Nellie" which I can't deny. My mind is constantly going through all possibilities that could arise. Will someone pick me up at the airport? What happens if my connecting flight is cancelled? Where am I staying? Who will take me to the matches? and so on... So I usually whip myself up into a frenzy double, and triple checking to make sure that all bases are covered. By the time I boarded the airplane I was relaxed knowing that the good folks at NWA East/PWX knew when I was arriving. And I was more comfortable about traveling in general since I had just done the Charlotte trip 4 months earlier.

I was still tense about the plane ride, because I still have a tendancy to stare out the window waiting for the wing to fall off, or the engine to start pouring thick black smoke. On this flight however I enjoyed a great conversation with a man who as it turns out is a head professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology, and I remained calm the entire flight. I arrived in Pittsburgh and was greeted by Col. Payne and his wife. We went to the Wrestleplex and I got to meet some of the fellas who were just finishing working out. I stayed at Jim Miller's house, and watched some NWA East/PWX tapes to get acquainted with the talent, and their style. Friday night was the big night. Kozina vs. Kaplack- NWA World Junior Heavyweight title. I was calm, rested and ready to wrestle. You know, the interesting thing about indy wrestling is that you read names on the net, or in magazines, and it leaves certain impressions. Col. Payne for example. There are wrestler with similar names, and in my mind, when I see the name, I think of a certain style. When I see Col. Payne, I picture a Sgt. Slaughter like gimmick. When I saw him wrestle I was blown away at what I saw. Vince "Big Time" Kaplack is another one. I had breifly met Vince in Charlotte, and between him being a quiet kind of guy, and all of us running all around preparing for a battle royal I never got a chance to talk to him much. After our Pittsburgh match friday night I was impressed beyond words at his ability and professionalism, and look forward to wrestling him again. After the friday night show I took off with Chris Hero, who I met in Charlotte at the NWA 51st anniversary show. We had kept in touch since then, and when we both discovered that we'd be on the same shows, we made a plan to hang out for a bit that weekend. So we stayed p until 7am talking, laughing, and watching video tapes. Saturday was a day off, and it seemed as though there really never was a saturday, because we slept until 5:30pm, woke up and it was dark out, so we never saw the light of day. Very strange, but a got some much needed rest for the long day of tv tapings. Sunday orning I took off with Jim Miller to the show at 9:30am. I wasn't scheduled to wrestle for a few hours, so I hung out, watched some of the other matches, and got to know some of the other guys who were really cool and just as interested about the west coast wrestling scene as I was about the east coast. I had two matches that day, a battle royal, and shot a few interviews too. My matches went very well, and I'm hoping I can get a copy of whatever's on tape. The tapings went on, and on, and on, but I was having a blast. I met Preston Steel, and talked with him for a while. I had heard of him for years. He's about as nice a guy as you'll meet in this business. I also talked quite a bit with Super Hentai, who is another junior heavyweight that can really kick some tail. I got back to Jim's house at 4am, showered and konked out on the couch. Monday morning I was packed and ready to head back home. At the airport I knew it just wouldn't be complete unless I freaked out, so a quick anxiety attack before the flight home made it all good. I made it all the way to my gate, sat down, and then my mind started running wild. Am I at the correct gate? Was I supposed to get my boarding pass at the front counter? What if they don't let me on the plane? and so on... Of course it was all just fine. The ride home was smooth, and I didn't even freak out when we landed in bad weather at St. Louis for my connecting flight. After all is said and done, I have nothing but praise for Jim Miller, NWA East/PWX, all the wrestlers, and the way I was treated there. I'm hoping that I can make it out there again before too long, as well as every other NWA promotion. Well, now thing's should get interesting. The workload has just begun. Ooohhh, I was just informed of a tour of Vancouver Island next month. That should be a wacky adventure, as is always the case with those nutty ECCW. I should have some funny stories from that one. Take it easy...


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