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Enter The Dream Realm: Rebirth – Vol. One: My Naveed (Part 2)

You shoot bolt upright, waking from a deep Dream, and find yourself on the floor next to your computer. You look around and find bright colored light coming from your monitor. As you reach up to turn it off, another bright white light issues forth, with a force behind it that knocks you back to the floor. As your vision blurs and begins to fade, you see a man step over you and smile. He whispers the words, “Sweet Dreams,” as you slip from consciousness, and once again begin to…

Rebirth – Vol. One:

My Naveed (Part 2)

08/16/2010

Link to Rebirth – Vol. One – My Naveed (Part 1)

“And I can’t live here anymore,
But it’s hard when you reach for that floor.
There’s something that tears me inside, so I can’t go.”
All lyrics from Our Lady Peace – Naveed

What do you do when the one thing that is causing you pain is the only thing that can take it away?

Now, I’m not being so blatantly over-dramatic as to suggest that wrestling was the source of all my emotional turmoil during this period of my life; far from it. The fact is, however, that my split from my ex-wife and the subsequent arguments, agreements, and settlements, were incredibly draining both mentally and emotionally. I simply wanted the purity of my release to return, untainted by the pain that accompanied Eddie’s passing. I needed that escape back so that I could clear my head from everything else that was going down.

Sometimes the universe aligns itself and gives you what you need, though it may not be quite how you expected it to go down.

Returning from work one day, I had a package waiting for me at my door. A package from WWE ShopZone. I had bought some new DVDs in the hopes that watching older material wouldn’t bring up the same feelings and push me away like watching the current product did. I opened the box and stopped, staring inside at something I didn’t expect.

They had sent along with the DVDs one of the black EG memorial armbands.

I took it out as I set the box on the table and sat in my chair staring at it. As my vision began to blur with the larval tears beginning to form in my eyes, I had a moment of clarity. Suddenly, it hit me that everything was going to be alright. All this pain I was harboring over Eddie’s death was being warped and magnified by my own inner turmoil over the real-life issues I was facing at the time. Eddie’s death, while a monumentally sad moment for me, was not the end of the world, nor was it an end to my love of the WWE and wrestling as a whole. Though it may not be the same, life would continue to go on without him in the WWE. Though it may not be the same, life would continue to go on without my ex-wife in my life.

That night, for the first time since Eddie’s death, I sat down and watched the entire episode of SmackDown! from start to finish, and I did so with a smile on my face.

“Brother, are you there? Now tell me is it wonderful
Or were you hoping to find, hoping to find, something a little more?”

Wrestling had come back to me as the welcome release I needed to escape from the troubles in the really real world. It was a welcome escape, especially as the troubles continued to pile up. My worries about my ability to maintain my apartment on my student salary had merit, and I was forced to find a new place to live at the end of my lease term. Those last six months I had on the lease burned through the rest of the money I had saved up, so I had to cut back on a lot of things, including buying Pay Per Views.

I know, right?

On top of all that, I was going through my Prelim Exams during this time, which is an oral exam given by five professors designed to humble the student and show them all the things they don’t know during their advancement to Ph.D. Candidate status. Shortly after Prelims, my advisor and I had a serious falling out. (She had become close friends with my ex-wife. Coincidence?) So, after four years in Graduate School, I had to start over again. New field, new advisor, whole new set of rules, ideas, and concepts. There were many times I had seriously considered giving it all up.

I needed people I could turn to; people that could help me get through these rough times I was going through. Unfortunately, thanks to years of self-imposed solitude, I didn’t really have any friends on the God Forsaken Island of Long that I could call upon.

Once again, wrestling proved to be a boon.

I had gotten heavily involved with the PWA by this time, which was the E-Fed predecessor to the current LOP fed, LPW. I had really gotten into the character development and promo side of things, and had started to share a role on the booking and writing committee. It was my first experience with such a thing, and it really made me love the creative side of things. I loved cutting promos in character and letting my personality shine through. The creativity involved with this process was a welcome break for me, as it let my mind focus on something else for a time, and left me better able to deal with things when I came back to them. The guys I met and worked with during that time also became good friends, some of whom I still keep in touch with.

More importantly, I spent a fair amount of time in the ensuing months talking, both on the interweb and on the phone, with Monkey, Zuma, Random, and especially Steve. These guys were really there for me when I needed someone to vent to, or just to bullshit with over trivial matters. They came through for me in a pinch, and helped me get through a very dark time in my life, and for that I will be eternally grateful. Steve and I actually had a string of epic conversations that lasted until one of our phones would run out of batteries; usually on the order of 2-4 hours. We’d do this probably twice a week, and the topics would vary from real life issues to wrestling to music to television and back again several times during a single call. I still contend that if we could have recorded them, they would have been some of the best podcasts in history.

Actually, it was podcasting that would really help pull me out of my slump.

Climbing down the hours and I need to know now,
Do the hands of time only rule this chapter?
I’ll have to try once again.
I’ll have to try when I want to, try when I want to.”

Random contacted me one day and asked me if I would be willing to give co-hosting his audio podcast a try. He had been doing the first few episodes with his roommate at the time, Shropy, and was looking to expand the horizons of the show. I told him I would give it a shot, so we scheduled some time to sit down and record our first outing. There were a couple of rocky patches in that first run, but afterwards, I think both of us knew we were on to something that could be really big. Our chemistry worked well together, and we had a natural flow that would develop over the next couple of weeks where we really meshed and worked well as a team.

Thus began the golden age of the Monday Night Countdown. We were having a great time putting out the shows, and it even led to the development of a ring of websites that were somehow associated with it. Part of the reason it was such a good time for the show was because it was such a good time for wrestling as well. Samoa Joe trampling through TNA, Kurt Angle jumping ship, Edge, Kennedy, and more things than I can really mention kept us as fans more than interested in the product we were seeing. Sure, it had its shortcomings, like Khali, Hogan talking smack, and Don West, but those three things became some of our most popular running joke segments (and websites).

There was a symbiotic relationship between the MNC and wrestling for me during that time. The Countdown was rekindling my passion for wrestling, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The fact that I was enjoying the product so much made me all the more excited about doing the Countdown. I ended up with some massive computer troubles during this time that brought a premature end to my column-writing stint on the Main Page, but I took that in stride as the Countdown was giving me more than enough satisfaction in the wrestling discussion department. I was almost having more fun talking with Random about wrestling topics than I did writing about them, and the fact that people were enjoying them so much made it all the more worthwhile.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

“And I can’t live here anymore
But it’s hard when you reach for that floor
There’s something that tears me inside.
Oh I can’t live here anymore. Anymore. Anymore…”

Things were continuing to go well for the MNC, but we were starting to have a harder time coming up with ideas for the show. For a while, there were so many things each week that we would have to cut them down to only 10, and sometimes it was hard to come up with three things that sucked. As time wore on into the Spring of 2007, that trend reversed itself. Things like the criminal misuse of Samoa Joe, the continued SuperCena push, and the departure of Ariel from the company were starting to take their toll on us. Both Random and I started to feel our passion wane again.

Despite that, my love for wrestling remained strong. So strong that I had contacted and gotten information from a local independent federation that ran in New York. I’ve never mentioned this publicly before, but I had gotten myself signed up to begin training as a wrestler. The business I had watched for so long had finally reeled me in completely, and I was going to try to be a part of it. I never had grandiose dreams of one day being a World Champion, but I thought I just might have what it took to entertain.

That dream was not to be, however, as in May, I was involved in a car accident that crushed my left knee and confined me to a wheelchair for four months. Even though my leg eventually healed and is at about 85% now, the MRIs that were done following the crash showed several herniated and bulging discs in my spine. These disc issues made me a liability in the ring, meaning I was no longer permitted to train to be a wrestler.

This led to a lot of anger on my part. While I was stuck at home and out of work, I would continue to watch wrestling religiously, but I found myself getting angry and jealous that the people on my television were able to do what I could not. I’m not saying this was a rational anger, as I am quite sure I wouldn’t have been appearing on WWE television anytime soon, but the feelings were there nonetheless. This made it harder and harder for me to look forward to watching and discussing wrestling, though we still continued with what I feel are some of our strongest episodes during this time.

Then Random called me with the news item that would leave the entire wrestling world thunderstruck.

“There he’s on his knees again, trying hard to understand
Why Naveed would let a young man die.
Convinced that he might break, he reaches for that phone,
And then another day is gone…”

Chris Benoit and his family found dead in their home. I’m sure we’re all aware of the details surrounding this event, and how they unfolded, so I won’t bore you by restating them here. The fact is, this was the biggest wrestling news story to break during the days of the Countdown. Truth be told, it was the biggest wrestling story ever to break. It also began the countdown clock ticking toward the end of the Countdown.

I remember the feelings of disbelief I had at the time, and how most, if not all, wrestling fans were left in shock. We all felt hurt, confused, many of us angry, many of us sad, and some of us just numb. It took me a long time to come to terms with the act that he did it. For several weeks I continued to ask the question, “Where was Kevin Sullivan?” I just couldn’t wrap my head around one of my all-time favorite wrestlers becoming a monster. Slowly, it began to sink in, for all of us, and it became real. I think we all knew that after that incident, nothing would be the same again.

Random and I both knew it. We both felt it. The Benoit murder-suicide had changed something within both of us. We just weren’t as excited about wrestling as we once were. We still loved talking to each other, and interacting with the Mencee Nation, but we just weren’t feeling it anymore. Wrestling had somehow changed. We had changed. We all had, in some way.

The Winter of 2007 saw a rapid increase in real life activity for both Random and I. His job started picking up steam, and he began coaching football. I was back at work finally and was trying to make up for lost time so as not to delay my graduation too substantially. I also met a girl I fell absolutely head over heels in love with, and as it turned out, for once, the feeling was mutual. This was obviously good for me, but not so good for the free time required to watch all that wrestling and record the MNC.

Then, in Spring of 2008, Random and I realized that real life had caught up with us and we hung up the boots, retiring the Monday Night Countdown before it could pull a Ric Flair and turn into nothing but a sad shadow of its former glory.

“Oh, another day is gone…
Another day… Is gone, is gone, is gone, is gone…”

Real life continued to pick up the pace and keep me more than busy over the ensuing months. Combine this with the fact that there was nothing in wrestling at the time that was really keeping my interest, and I was falling further and further away from my old passion. I got married in the summer of 2008, and continued living apart from my wife for the next year while she finished her Masters in Geophysics at Ohio State and I finished my Ph.D. in Mineral Physics at Stony Brook in New York. Starting in the Winter of 2009, it became crunch time for graduation and there was still a lot left to be done. The deadline was on though: I had found a job.

Once I began writing my dissertation that Spring, I had no time anymore for much of anything, let alone wrestling. I had completely fallen out of touch with the current product and was back in a state of ignorance. I successfully defended my dissertation in the Summer of 2009, and promptly packed up my life and my wife to depart for my new job as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Land of the Rising Sun. Now, I am still at that same University in Japan, but have been hired to a longer-term position as a Professor of Mineral Physics and Geochemistry.

I wanted to get a good taste for Japanese culture while I am here, especially since I have a contract that is good for several years. What better place to start than with wrestling? Though I had completely fallen out of touch with the U.S. wrestling scene, I vividly remember discussions regarding Japanese professional wrestling from my days on the forum. I had a few DVDs, and had seen some matches on the web that definitely made me interested. So, I sought out all the Japanese pro wrestling I could find.

I found myself very disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the matches were outstanding, and the action was top notch. The problem for me was the language barrier. The promos were in Japanese. The announcers called the matches in Japanese. The names and titles of all the wrestlers were written in Japanese. Now, after being here for nearly a year, I can read some of it, and even understand some of what is being said, but not nearly enough to get by.

The more I thought about it, I wondered if it was the language barrier, or if I just wasn’t interested in wrestling anymore. Maybe my passion had died. I tested this theory by watching some of the wrestling DVDs I brought with me to Japan. I made the mistake of watching Disc 1 of the Royal Rumble Anthology first. Royal Rumble is a great idea, and I pretty much love them all, but that first one was really lackluster. After watching this disc, I was afraid it was true; that my passion for wrestling had truly died.

But I kept watching. With each passing disc, I got more and more into it again. I started going back to LOP for the news stories, and started to read some columns again. I was downloading shows and matches that I had missed, and trying to keep as current as I could, living all the way on the other side of the world. It wasn’t quite the same as before, but it would have to do.

Then Steve-atollah came a-knockin’. It was time to come home.

“And I can’t live here anymore
But it’s hard when you reach for that floor
There’s something that tears me inside,
No, but I can’t live here anymore.”

They say that you can’t go home again; that once you leave where you came from, both you and your home will change, and when you return, it just won’t be the same as it was. The fact is, I am now living in a country where I don’t speak the native language, and most of the natives don’t speak mine. Outside of the University, the only person around that I can talk to is my wife. We love each other dearly, but she’s seven months pregnant with a Lowercase M at the moment, and has better things to do than listen to me babble about things in which she has little to no interest. I need that release again; that escape from my surroundings. The PlayStation can only go so far. I need an outlet where I can interact with people and enjoy some conversations in a language I know that doesn’t involve some aspect of my work. I need something to take my mind off of things again and put me in a relaxed state where I can just sit back and enjoy something. I need wrestling again. I need LOP again.

But would they take me back? Would I really be able to go back to something I loved so fervently for so long after eventually having to let it go? Have I changed too much to enjoy it like I once did? Has wrestling changed too much for me to view it in the light I had for so many years? With everything that’s changed, could it ever be the same? I feared much the same thing when I first came back here to participate in the NXT competition as a Pro. Maybe I’ve changed too much. Maybe people here won’t be as accepting as they once were. Maybe there won’t be many people here that I used to know. Maybe no one here will know me. Maybe no one will care.

Thankfully, both wrestling and LOP have come through for me, and laid my fears to rest.

“I can’t live here anymore.
But I can’t live here anymore. Anymore…”

On second thought, maybe you can go home again. After all this time thinking I couldn’t go back to what was once such a huge part of my life, maybe that’s my good news. My ray of hope. My Naveed.

Maybe I can.

“Come, come, Naveed… Come, come, stay…”

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Monday, August 16th, 2010 at 10:20 pm • ETDR, WrestlingRSS 2.0 feed Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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