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Raven's Blog | January 7, 2014

Editor's Note -- This was a lost blog, written by Raven originally for the UK wrestling magazine Powerslam in 2005 and meant for the website as well. In it, Raven discusses his love of the business and how it started. Check out this lost article.


Once you become a professional wrestler, its like an incurable disease, except that you don't mind that you have it. Once it gets in your blood, there's no way to get it out and that is the reason why wrestlers can never retire. Because your love for the business is so passionate and so intense and the rush from the crowd is so intoxicating that it becomes an addiction, so why would you want to quit? You wouldn’t want to, unless, of course, you had to and that’s why I plan on staying in good enough shape to still be taking bumps in my sixties. How I fell in love with the business, that's a completely other story.

I started watching wrestling as a child in Philadelphia where I was born and I was immediately enraptured by the simplistic black and white morality play. It was good versus evil in its most pure form. It was a drama, but it was sports and my two loves as a kid were sports and drama. Oddly enough, as a side note, once I reached the age of twelve and discovered women and drugs, sports didn’t seem all that important anymore, but once I fell in love with wrestling, I never fell out of it. I used to watch the WWF show every Saturday morning. At 9 am I would wake up and watch the Jackson 5 cartoon until 9:30, then I would watch the Osmonds cartoon until 10, then I would watch Roller Derby, my second favorite love until 11 and then the WWF would come on. I couldn’t wait for my hero, Chief Jay Strongbow, to come on. Chief Jay Strongbow was my favorite because every time he would get beat up, to the point where he had no chance of making a comeback, he would all of a sudden go into this Indian trance, become impervious to pain and go into his war dance, which is the equivalent of the superman comeback that Hulk Hogan and Jerry Lawler later popularized. There was something mystical, metaphysical, something in my mind as a child that convinced me that Indians, great chief Indians, could, if pushed hard enough, completely deny the pain and, in my warped young mind of age 6 through 10, I would root for Chief Jay Strongbow to get the crap kicked out of him just so I could see him make a comeback. I used to beg my dad to take me to the matches but he never would, so I would read all the magazines and watch all the TV shows. We would get WWWF twice a day on Saturday and some form of Texas wrestling on Sunday night. At age 10, we moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the AWA. Finally, my dad took me to the matches. Of course, it was only because he had bought one of those home barber kits and fancied himself a hairstylist and proceeded to scalp my head as if he were weedwhacking the lawn. Being the brave soldier that I was, I cried like a baby. Finally, to get me to shut up, he agreed to take me to the matches. I think my dad was the original heel fan because it would entertain him to no end to cheer for “the baddies” as he called them, just to annoy everyone else in the section. From there, we moved to Florida and the best thing about moving there was that we lived exactly 2/3rds of a mile from the West Palm Beach Auditorium.

Every Monday night there was wrestling at the West Palm Beach Auditorium and we would walk there every single Monday religiously for the two years I lived in West Palm Beach. Tickets were three dollars, 3.50 if there was a world title match because as they said championship prices were in effect. I found this to be hugely ironic than when we lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Dusty Rhodes was one of the top villains in the AWA. We moved to Florida, and he’s the top babyface. Of course, all my friends loved Dusty Rhodes but I couldn’t stand him because he was a bad guy. 3 weeks later, his charisma so overpowered me, that I worshipped Dusty just like everyone else did. Dusty was the most magneti,c charismatic individual this 11 year old had ever laid eyes on. I was very lucky as a kid to grow up with Florida Championship Wrestling because the booking and storylines were so tremendous. From what I’ve heard, although I never got to meet the man, Eddie Graham was one of the greatest booking minds of all time. I was a big fan as well of his son Mike Graham and his partner Steve Keirn. Keirn was a fabulous worker and having just been hired by the WWE as a road agent, it’s a shame that all they’re gonna remember him for is the character, Skinner. I thought it was a fascinating choice that when he played this character, Skinner, even though he was a great worker, he acted like he couldn’t because that’s what the character would do. If talent doesn’t listen to Keirn’s advice, they’re morons.

The other great thing about Florids Championship Wrestling was Gordon Solie. Gordon Solie was one of the 4 greatest announcers of all time. I would say Gordon Solie, Jim Ross, Lance Russell and Joey Styles. One of the highlights of my career was after only being in the business full time for three months, I was allowed to be the color commentator with Gordon Solie for the restart of Florida Championship Wrestling. Moving from place to place as a kid sucked. The only great thing about it was that I got to see such a wide variety of professional wrestling and ended up growing up in Florida where I don’t think there was any better wrestling. I think the next great show after that was in ’85 or ’86 I was in college and Bill Watts turned Mid South into the UWF. In fact, to this day, I still remember the single greatest finish I ever saw to a wrestling program. The UWF had stripped Terry Gordy of the UWF World Title and given the belt to the One Man Gang. The Gang was gonna defend the belt in a cage against Hacksaw Jim Duggan if, as Jim Ross said, time permits. There was always that caveat if time permits. You always hoped you’d get to see the whole match. Sometimes you would, sometimes you wouldn’t, but they made damn sure you’d tune in the next week. Anyway, The Gang was waiting in the Cage as Duggan made his way to the ring. The Freebirds and Devastation Incorporated all came out, Duggan got attacked started bleeding and a big melee occurred. Eventually, a bloody Duggan was dumped into the cage while everybody else fought to the back or was separated. The Gang’s finish was called the 747 and it was just a splash but it was back in the day when with his size, it looked pretty painful. However, if he gave you the 747 off the second rope, they’d stretcher you to the hospital. The Gang was a hell of a working big man and he pummeled the bloody Duggan. Jim Ross kept stressing we’ll stay with this as long as we can, but time is running out. The suspense and the tension continued to build as Gang set up Duggan for the 747 off the second rope. Ross is screaming, ”MY GOD, HES GONNA GIVE HIM THE 747 OFF THE SECOND ROPE, WE’RE ALMOST OUT OF TIME!” just as the Gang leaps up into the air, the show went to black.. To be honest, I have no idea what happened the following week, but I can still see the end of that show like it was yesterday. That was great TV. And that’s why unless I’m in any condition not to do it, I will still be taking bumps in my 60’s.

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