What an unexpected, yet totally expected, surprise.
You see I had expected to meet a wrestler while I sat there at that blackjack table several weeks ago. I was nervous to approach the majority of them. Why? You ask.
Simply put, I didn’t think I had it on me to write about wrestling anymore. I thought my days were limited. It had been years since I picked up a pen (or in this instance a laptop) and put my feelings of the industry out there for the masses. I walked away and didn’t look back.
Until I did.
The industry had grown exponentially since I had left. Companies were expanding their brands and the competitors were traveling around the world. Breaking free of the once secular industry. It was once all about your company and f*** the others. It was the definition of ‘Me not We’. We all saw what happened to those companies that were in their little bubble as the industry grew out of that ideology.
As did the names from those companies. The stars of a bygone era. The biggest fish in the small ponds. With the onset of social media they need to adapt.
At the blackjack table, fate sent me one of those big fish. A man that prior to 2019 was nothing more than a footnote in the annals of wrestling, and would be forever remembered as one of the industries biggest ‘What If’s”.
That man is none other than Shawn Warstein FKA Fuzz.
The man has been around in wrestling since he was fifteen years old. He was the proverbial big fish. There wasn’t anything he didn’t accomplish back in the day. From running title scenes all the way down to mentoring the new generation.
Anger, drugs, alcohol and depression, curbed what was already a legendary run. For the sake of his own well being and the crumbling of his family, Shawn did what most wrestlers couldn’t.
He walked away and didn’t look back.
For nearly a decade he didn’t follow the sport. If it was on TV he shut it off and if anyone brought it up he simply walked away.
To some they would say he abandoned the sport. To hear him tell it is a completely different story. What you get is one of a man who fought for his life. Fought for stability. Fought for those he cared about.
He would end up relapsing several times in his quest to become free from the dragon but eventually it stuck. He no longer shakes to sleep at night. No more does he feel sickly. It took him eight years to be able to have a bourbon on the rocks again. Another two before he could smoke a joint to relax.
So when he says he’s clean… It’s a half truth.
With his current girlfriend Kasey, Shawn has cut back on all intakes. From the bourbon to the weed. It’s as if he’s found something, or in this case, someone to do it for.
With sobriety Shawn has said, ‘It’s not that you think you don’t need it, you always have that thought in your head. It’s always an inner battle inside your own mind. You always need someone on the outside to lean on. So with Kasey, I have that again’. He would go on to describe the first time he tried to get clean.
How he didn’t want to get clean, he just wanted to see his son Jacob and his (ex)wife said that was needed. It didn’t matter than she had met him when he was knee deep or that she was well aware of the issues. So Shawn did it.
Yet we all know the stories. You have to want to do it for yourself first.
So he’d put up a charade of cleanliness when he was around his family, but the second he went back on the road…
All bets were off.
Drinking, drug abuse and generally being a dick; eventually led to his divorce. A broken man woken up to the harsh realities of the world around him. He was released from his contract shortly after his last and final drug test.
I wish I could say that was the moment that set him straight but it wasn’t. No. The moment that eventually led him on the straight and narrow was when he OD’d and woke up to an empty room.
No loved ones.
Just the humming and hissing of the machines connected to him. Something had to change. He had to change.
The work it took to get him to this point, no one will see. The struggles he deals with on a daily basis, no one bats an eye at. He’s given me full access to him and his journey.
That night at the blackjack table as I said earlier wasn’t a chance meeting. I knew someone would be there, I just didn’t expect it to be him.
Over the next several weeks, you and I are going to go on a journey of admissions, self discovery and above all else the hard work that goes into battling from the bottom of society, and into the lexicon of this industry.
How one man shattered his own expectations. Shattered the thoughts of others and shattered the precious bubbles of everyone around him. Until next week…
As I closed the lid of the laptop I furrowed my eyebrows and rubbed the inside corners of my eyes with my left hand. “Did you have to close with the XOXO?”
Donovan sat in the booth, directly across from me. The rundown 50’s themed restaurant way off the strip in Vegas. “Seriously mate? That’s what you have to say about it?” Donovan shook his head and lifted his coffee cup to his lips. Taking a sip and wiping it away with the back of his hand. “I’m literally trying to humanize you to the masses and you’re going to comment on my closing?”
“Yeah.” I shrugged unapologetically. “It’s no wonder you weren’t hired anywhere for such a long time. It’s writing like that that gets you thrown to the curb.”
“You know it’s a joke right?” With a quick raise of his eyebrows Donovan. “It’s from Gossip Girl.”
“What the hell?” A massive sigh as I pull out my phone and begin hammering on the screen.
“You know the show from the early 2000’s, it’s right in the wheelhouse of your fan base.” Donovan looks so proud of himself with an arrogant smile on his face.
“You mean the show that ended in 2012 and came back for one season a few years ago?” I said as I slid my phone across the table.
Donovan picks the phone up and quickly looks over it. “Well yeah exactly. It’s the perfect metaphor. It went away and now it’s back, just like you. Are you not getting it?”
“Oh I get it, but it’s misplaced. The new series isn’t anything like me.” Donovan slid the phone back to me.
“That’s where you’re wrong on so many roos. No one cared that you were back. Hell, mate, everyone thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere. And look at you now. Blood Money 2 winner. Top four finish in the PWE Rumble.” Donovan holds up his hands and then points to the phone. “You are the show Gossip Girl.”
“Please tell me how.” I said while shaking my head and leaning back in my seat.
“Do you think anyone was clamoring for a Gossip Girl reboot? No. Did anyone want you to come back to wrestling? Nope, but you did anyway. You always come back. No matter how many times you were supposedly put down, you always got right back up and went again.” Donovan rolled his head to the left and smiled. “Honestly I wouldn’t put it past you if you were back here in 2030 doing it all over again.”
“If that happens…” I use my hand to make a gun and place it in my temple. “Please put me out of my misery.”
“Come on man don’t be like that. There’s always room for the aging vet to get one last run.” Donovan tries to pull a name but it escapes him. “Just listen you can’t get yourself down because of your last match in prime against…”
“First of all it’s PRIME, and secondly I’m not mad that I lost. It happens all the time.” I begin to drum my fingers over the table. “What’s really gotten in my head is the fact that I’m put into a match that’s a fatal four way.”
“Oh that’s it? Mate, you just survived a hellish saunter through Disney. Three other fools in a match is nothing compared to that.” Donovan looks around the restaurant and then back at me. I wish I could say I had the same amount of hopeful optimism as he does, but it’s all feeling a bit… Blah.
“No. It’s fine that I came in for a tournament, but now this match. Their Survivor thing along with a million other gimmicks thrown at a wall, hoping that something sticks.” I take a deep breath. “Maybe it’s just too much. Honestly I don’t even feel like showing up.”
“Fair dinkum.” He pauses for a moment. “Orrrrrr, you show up. Kick the shit out of the three of them and walk out on top, like the fucking legend you are.”
I take a deep breath and sigh as I fold my arms, placing them on the table. “Maybe you’re right. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. I mean of course I’m going to show up, but after that it’s anyone’s game.”
“That’s the spirit mate.”
“Let’s get out of here. I got shit I gotta do before the show.” I stand up and toss a few bucks on the table from my wallet.
“Like what?” Donovan asks while standing up.
“None of your business right now.” I felt weird telling him off like that, so I guess I’ll throw him a bone. “But you know what? Keep the XOXO in there.”
“You finally came around?”
“No. It’s just going to make you look like an idiot, not me.” I slap Donovan on the shoulder as he sulks for a moment as we exit the restaurant.
Fade To Black.