February 26, 2005
True tales from the road
By "Hotshot" JOHNNY DEVINE - SLAM! Wrestling
So I was wondering this week what I should go into next here, while trying to both find a new place to live and fulfill all my other obligations. So after a frustrating, long week, I decided to talk about some of the crappier aspects of the biz.
One of the hardest things for a new -- or even veteran wrestler -- to deal with is a ridiculous travel schedule. The long hours on the road, be they driving or flying, take their toll, on both the body and the mind. There are always exceptions to every rule and guys who love the travel. But nobody loves the travel all the time.
If you already wrestle you know what I mean. If you don't, well, be ready to be uncomfortable a lot. If you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to be a really big guy (6'4", 260 pounds and up), I have to say, wow it sucks to be you. Finding comfort on a 3+ hour car or plane ride can be impossible, especially when you squeeze five or more guys in a car to save on gas.
When I lived in Calgary I would regularly drive with three to five other guys to Winnipeg and Thunder Bay to do NHB shows for Don Callis. Winnipeg is 13 hours from Calgary, and TBay another seven from there. And when we would do these shows we would drive out on Thursday to get a decent night's sleep, wrestle in Winnipeg on Friday, then jump in the van and drive the seven hours to TBay at four in the morning to be there in time for radio interviews or autograph signings on Saturday. Then we'd spend the night in relative relaxation in TBay and drive the straight 20 hours Sunday back to Calgary so that guys could be back to work on Monday. And that;s just a sampling. It can get worse with breakdowns, wrong turns or what have you.
Some great stories come from road trips though.
Once on the way back from TBay, myself, Johnny Handsome (driving), Highlander Rob Scott, and the 385-pound Juggernaut were doing about 140 km (approximately 85 mph) across the plains of Saskatchewan in an attempt to make good time. An RCMP car going the opposite direction clocked us and rushed to turn around and ticket us. At that exact moment about one mile up the road, a four-door sedan went into the ditch when the older driver fell asleep at the wheel. When he awoke and tried to recover back onto the road he caught his tires and rolled over onto the roof. As we passed them seconds after, I thought the man's wife was cut in half and hanging out the passenger window. We screeched to a stop and jumped from the van to help. As I got to the car I was relieved to see the woman was in fact in one piece and it was her red sweater that had fooled me into thinking she was near death. Another couple stopped and helped us do some first aid while the RCMP officer pulled up. When he got out of his car you could see by the look on his face that he was clearly not impressed that he had to deal with the overturned car, as he constantly shot us evil looks. Once we had established that everyone was going to be okay, we quietly -- and carefully -- slipped back into the van that Jugg had conveniently pulled closer and sped away. As we pulled away, we looked back and could see the officer watching us and deliberating on whether to follow us or not! Some times it IS better to be lucky than good.
It doesn't get any easier when you fly. There are always complications that pop up.
This is a "Showtime" Eric Young story of his travel from Orlando to Nashville. Bear with me, it's a long one.
He left the Sleep Inn in Orlando at 5:15 a.m. to catch a flight to Charlotte, NC. But the Charlotte flight got delayed two hours. So the lady at the US Air counter said that if he hurried he could make the flight going Philly; he was the last person to make the flight, but he made it.
From there, he was supposed to fly into Nashville, but when he got to Philly airspace, he was put in a holding pattern because the airport was really busy and the runways packed. He was in the holding pattern for a half an hour. His connection to leave Philly was supposed to leave at 9 a.m.; when he landed and checked the time on his phone, it was five minutes to nine. And his connection flight was on the other side of the airport! Not only did he have to make it across the airport but he had to catch a bus to another terminal all together. Now for those of you that know, the Philly airport is VAST! So now Show is running across the Philly airport trying to make it to another terminal. He makes it to the gate just in time to watch his flight being pushed back from the gate.
The next flight from Philly to Nashville was at 3:30 p.m., 6-1/2 hours later. So he was stuck in Philly airport for the next sixhours. Time was filled with two chocolate covered croissants and three magazines. Then 3:30 p.m. rolls around and an announcement is made that the flight is full but there are two people there with a family emergency and that anyone willing to give up their seat would get a free round-trip ticket anywhere US Air flys. So Show thought, what's another couple hours, and being the nice guy he is, gave up his seat.
The slight ray of sunshine in a crappy day is a free flight. But then the flight attendants discover that there is enough room on the flight and so no free flight for Showtime as he is put on the plane.
So now he's on his way to Nashville when the pilot comes across that they need to make an emergency landing and have been re-routed to Charlotte -- where he was supposed to be at 8:30 a.m.! He landed in Charlotte at 4:30, but they don't say why. He's there for two hours in the Charlotte terminal with no explanation of why they had to land. Finally, they tell them that they landed because they didn't have the FAA required amount of emergency fuel, and once on the ground they discovered something wrong with the guidance system.
After two hours on the ground, they reload the plane and are off to Nashville. He lands in Nashville at about 7:30 p.m. So what should have been a 1-hour, 50-minute flight turned into a 14-hour ordeal. And that I'm sure is one of the ordinary travel stories that wrestlers have to deal with on a regular basis.
For some great Canadian travel stories check out Edge's book, Adam Copeland on Edge, as he gives a great account of some of Tony Condello's northern death tours across the frozen tundra. Roddy Piper's and Ric Flair's books both have some great road stories as well. Believe me when I tell you that the ridiculousness never stops in wrestling. But if you can put up with it and deal with it you'll never be bothered by the little things again. Harder to deal with are the relationships that we cultivate as wrestlers with our spouses or significant others. But that is another column all together.
I am excited though for my next road trip which starts today. Showtime and I will be making our way to Memphis to wrestle at the historic Mid South Coliseum for Jimmy Hart and Jerry "The King" Lawler. I will cover what it's like to wrestle in Memphis in next week's column and hopefully, it will still be as Mid South tag team champions. We were also supposed to be in Albuquerque on Sunday, but unfortunately that show was cancelled. I was very disapointed to hear that, as I was really looking forward to meeting Nick Bockwinkel, one of my childhood favorites. Then Monday, it's off to Orlando for another TNA Impact taping. Happiness is being healthy and wrestling. God, I love what I do.
The promised mentions for other schools: Anyone looking for more info on the TNA training center, aka the Can Am wrestling school, they can be reached at email@example.com or call (519) 969-1245. As well in the Nashville area, Chase Stevens and Cassidy Riley have training classes two-three times a week, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. And promoters looking to book myself or Showtime Eric Young we can be reached at email@example.com.
Hope you all enjoyed this week's stories and learned something. If you want me to cover a certain subject, please email me at the above email addy, or send feedback or whatever. I promise I will get to workouts and eating for those of you that have asked. So take care all and stay hot.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!