A Road Trip; Been a long time since I Rock and Rolled…

First of all, RIP Bobby Jaggers. 

Bobby Jaggers

I took a road trip this week and learned Tuesday night that Bobby had passed away on Sunday, Sept. 30.  This week marks the birthdays of Michael McGillicutty (Joe Hennig) Oct. 1 and Hall of Famer “Bullet” Bob Armstrong Oct. 3. It is also the 15 year anniversary of the death of Brian Pillman Oct. 5 and Gorilla Monsoon passed away 13 years ago Oct. 6.

I knew Bobby from my time in Portland during 1984.  He was known as one of the more creative story tellers on the road and in the dressing room.  If you did something, he did it bigger and better.  Everyone understood that was Bobby and he was a character.

Gorilla Monsoon

????????I got to commentate with Gorilla Monsoon and Michael Cole during WWE Metal many years ago and he was always a gentleman and classic performer.  He was a kind and entertaining guy off camera as well.

I got to know Pillman briefly during his short time in WWE.  He was the kind of guy I would have like to hang with but he was with a different crew and stable.  No doubt Pillman was a star that burned out too soon.

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Brian Pillman

I watched RAW from a comfortable hotel room and no matter what anybody might think about Good ‘ol JR, it was nice to see the outpouring of genuine love and respect from WWE and its talent.  I worked for JR when he was head of Talent Relations and there’s no doubt he loves his job.  Many times I would get the impression or hear others say how “grumpy and miserable JR was” or “Man, what’s wrong with JR?  He just bit my head off!”  I don’t think anybody can judge someone until they walk in their shoes. JR can be stern and adamant in his beliefs.  Some say he can be down right stubborn.  Wow.  Where have I heard THAT before? 
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Good ‘ol JR

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But there is no denying the passion, hard work and long hours JR put (and still puts) into WWE.  Only those who work the long hours, don’t take breaks or vacations and overall dedicate their life to this business can understand there might be times when your frustration is hard to hide.  But you have to keep keeping on.  And JR has kept keeping on for many years.  It was nice to see the aftermath of Vince making a public declaration that JR has surpassed the great Gordon Solie as the greatest wrestling announcer ever.  Recognizing JR as “The Voice of WWE” moved him with genuine emotion and after all the trials and tribulations he’s been through in life it was fitting. 

Congratulations JR.  No matter what the feelings are between you and I, there was always respect and admiration from my end.  You might have ate my ass out or been short and to the point at times but I realized what you had to deal with and who you had to answer to wasn’t always a walk in the park.

I made a 10 hour trip by car on Sunday and forgot how much time you have to think and observe various “activities” on the road.  I’m a big talk radio/news talk fan but there were points along the way where my best friends were CDs.

In the old days I might have been “tokin’ on a number and diggin’ on the radio” (Charlie Daniels reference for you ‘kids’ out there.  Uneasy Rider..helluva song!), but I found myself with some real ‘gems’ that some people wouldn’t be caught dead admitting they owned.  But some David Lee Roth, a few CD’s with various songs and artists, a little Hank Jr., Lynard Skynard, Aerosmith, Zeppelin and classic 70’s music set me right for the ride.  No ‘numbers’ these days.  Riding down the road with the boys was some of the greatest times ever!  Getting to and from the town was part of the journey, fun and experience in this business.  Especially if you found some good riding buddies that shared the same tastes in fun and music that you did.

So I had a lot of time to think.  Listening to DLR tell his ridiculous but poignant stories through his songs, Hank Jr. telling his stories with that ‘I don’t give a damn attitude’ and Lynard Skynard talkin’ ’bout “That Smell” and “Give me three steps” reminded me of many road trips I took around the Southeast with some of my rowdy friends.

But now I’m driving alone and my mind is wandering.  Not wondering.  Wandering.  I’m re-playing things I’ve done, said and been a part of over the years.  And I thought “Ya know, at one time I was a pretty nice guy.  I mean, I didn’t think I had a problem with anybody!”  Sure I did things my way but for the most part I did my job, lived my dream, was passionate and dedicated.  I arrived early and stayed late.  Hmmm.  In the end, does any of that really matter?  I mean, if you’re really good at what you do, it doesn’t really matter what you do…does it??

The answer is no.  No, it doesn’t.  I did some good stuff over the years.  I trained some good people and think I ran a pretty good developmental system.  I didn’t do it by myself.  But I was the Head Coach so I take the heat no matter where it comes from.  Was there anything I could have or should have done differently?  I’m sure there is.  But I did what I thought was best at the time.  DLR’s “Sensible Shoes” rolled on the speakers as the doubts started hitting…

I thought about wrestling always being sports entertainment.  The Sept. 27 edition of Rolling Stone has an article about how ‘TV reinvented the NFL.’  All sports are meant to be entertaining!  Some of the ideas and camera angles were used in the XFL but now owners and TV executives are understanding it’s not just a game!  You must make it an event.  And it has to be exciting, interesting and easy to follow! How great was it to have scab referees blow major calls?  What press!  What attention!  Hell, it’s show-biz!!

Thoughts going in and out of my head about the old days.  Those days are gone!  So what’s left? Whenever JR got fired or released, he called it “an interruption of service.”  I like that.  That’ll work.  I am in the middle of an “interruption of service.” 

Ronnie Van Zant just took me into “What was your name?” and I forgot about the present and reverted back to the past.  Screw it.  What’s done is done.  I know what I did.  And I know what I’m capable of doing. 

I didn’t cause many waves when I was wrestling.  I let the pieces fall where they may.  I didn’t really take an active role in guiding my career.  I was living the drugs, sex and rock and roll life style.  Didn’t care if I lived or died.  I wasn’t planning on hitting 30.  Dammit!  But I don’t think I did anything too outrageously wrong.  I was wrestling and having a good time.

Then when I started training people in 1996 and had an actual office in Stamford on the 4th floor I started seeing the business from a different side.  Now I can understand the pressure or stress JR and others were dealing with a little better.  It was a great job and lots of fun but JR handled the executive decisions and made some difficult ones at that.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  So if JR happened to be in a less than stellar mood that day, I could only imagine what or who he was dealing with.

Rod Stewart’s “Every Picture Tells a Story” took me back to realizing no one, and I mean NO ONE can judge me for what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve been through.  You see something on the outside and make a judgement call. I’ve been just as guilty of being judge, jury and executioner myself.  But looking back on the way things went down whether it was my life or career, I did it myself.  I brought it on. 

I know what I did and I know who I helped.  I know WWE people read this.  I’ve heard from them.  That’s OK.  WWE is a great company.  But business is business.  They…wait.  Who are “they”?  Well, “they” know who they are and wanted business run differently.  The “we’re going in a different direction” is the old stand by line but I get it.  Then word was I was “too negative.”  Really….

Well I would like to see the guy in charge and did the deed walk in my shoes on a daily basis.  Not just opening and closing the school but dealing with everybody else’s problems and issues too. More kids from developmental came to me with personal and professional problems that I did everything I could to help, because they knew if they came to me I would help.  It didn’t matter if it was putting gas in their car or hearing about a family member with cancer and they needed some time away. 

But again, that’s business.  20 hours (10 up, 10 back) is a long time to ride by yourself and think.  I don’t hate anybody. I’m not a negative person. I’ve said before I will do something absurd to demonstrate how absurd looks.  I call it “performance art.”  Those that got it, got it.  Those that didn’t, never will.  I accept that.   People like to talk about being so honest and real.  Some like to talk about being “born again” and how they changed their ways.  But when you question them on their values or ask them to explain themselves, they’re not so quick to turn the other cheek or explain their ‘questionable’ actions.  I know judge not and ye shall not be judged, right?  Well if you’re actions don’t match your words, I have questions.  I know people of faith that don’t mind being questioned.  I know others who claim faith that become irate and defensive when you ‘dare’ challenge them or their faith.

I’m no angel or saint.  Don’t claim to be and never have.  And when you’re in an environment with stress and underlying agendas, you tend to pick up on certain things.  I’ve been around long enough to smell discomfort and BS.  Again, part of this business.

People have asked me a lot of questions.  None of the questions or  answers matter.  I am a wrestler and trainer/coach.  I’ve been up and I’ve been down.  I would NEVER compare myself to Jim Ross.  He’s one of a kind.  Period.

But I put my heart and soul into this business and will continue to be what I am.  I am a positive, can do and will do person.  No matter WHAT it takes.  I’ve heard and listened to all the rumors and statements and it’s time to stop.  It is what it is.  Change is the only constant.  This is my time of “interrupted service.”

“Wanted Dead or Alive” followed by “Freebird” brought me back to nothing matters in the end.  The King had a heart attack, Bobby Jaggers just died. I started thinking “Who’s next?”  It doesn’t matter. We’ll all say what a great guy or ass he was and move on.  Life goes on.    I had a few hours to go and only want to think about the good times.

Congratulations and best of luck to JR.  If anybody deserves recognition, he does.  Talk about walking a mile in somebody’s shoes…I don’t think I could even lace his….

Thanks for reading

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