In 1996, this quote could almost seem prophetic. In 2016, this quote seems more like pathetic. What has the wrestling industry done exactly to stop this famine? How many performers do we look back on as part of this project and find them to be living long, happy, healthy lives? I don't want this article to sound bitter, but maybe it should.
Axl Rose, 44. Dead. Another name in a long list of men who have carved a career built upon the faith, strength and belief in entertaining others.
Only recently we lost Hack Meyers. Listen back to any ECW podcast - Pitbulls, Public Enemy, 911, Benoit, Eddy, Big Dick Dudley, Hawk, Eddie Gilbert, Louie Spiccoli... All dead. This is far from an exhaustive list.
Drug abuse, head trauma, mental health, heart problems; it is easy to look at these larger-than-life super heroes and forget that they are human. But when the crowd exits, the ring's packed and the lights go out; what then?
Back in 1996, you could be forgiven for seeing Axl Rotten as that guy who fought with his 'brother' in Taipeii Death Matches et al. A bloody brawler. A man hell-bent on causing destruction regardless of its impact on him in later life.
One of the many amazing things about this project is remembering Wrestling 20 Years Ago; but then also being able to remember the here and now when the tape cuts. Only as recently as two months ago, after writing about his friend Hack, I got the opportunity to talk briefly with Axl. He thanked me for my kind words. He was a gentleman, he was modest and he was just a nice guy.
Yes, he was far from a poster boy for Turner Network Television or the New Generation. Yes, he could often be found in a weapon laden brawl or with shards of glass taped to his fists. But, after all of this; he was a guy doing his damndest to give the fans a show to remember. Night, after night, after night.
Oh, and that war between Axl & Ian? PWI's Feud of the Year 1995.
Rise in Glory, big man.