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  Tuesday, April 23, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Saying goodbye to SLAM! Wrestling

By JOHN MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

"And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain".

-- Frank Sinatra, "My Way"

'Ol blue eyes said it best, folks. All good things must eventually come to end.

As some of you might have heard already, there was another round of layoffs here at CANOE last week. In the aftermath of this latest act of corporate downsizing, several people lost their jobs. I was one of them.

After three years as a reporter and editor here at SLAM! Wrestling, I now find myself among the ranks of the unemployed. This past Friday was my last day of work, this column the last piece I will write for SLAM! Wrestling.

And so I depart, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Not exactly the way I wanted to go out, but then again, there are people in this world with far greater problems that it would be callous of me to complain.

So how shall I bid adieu?

Hmmm.

There will be no bitterness or sadness expressed in this column. No diatribe about how Vince McMahon has successfully duped fans and mainstream media agencies into accepting his revisionist version of wrestling history as fact (93, 000 at WrestleMania III? Yeah, right!). No holier-than-thou rant about how Japanese wrestling, in terms of in-ring product, is superior to pro wrestling in the U.S. and Canada. No crying of foul over HHH and his backstage politicking, Hogan's out-of-control ego (Yet another title run, eh? Oh, my.) or Stephanie McMahon's laughable writing of WWF storylines (At least she isn't on TV anymore). No jokes about Kevin Nash's work-rate (What work-rate?). No taking pleasure in the fact that Chyna can't get a decent job in Hollywood now that she's no longer employed in the wrestling business (chuckle chuckle). No criticism of the WWF and its hypocritical media ban.

None of that.

The only thing I wish to express is my heartfelt gratitude to you, the loyal readers, and to everybody involved in SLAM! Wrestling.

These past three years at SLAM! Wrestling have been very special to me and a big reason why is the core of readers who visited the site each and every day. Not a day went by when I didn't receive a thoughtful e-mail from a reader about the coverage found on our site. Whether it was a compliment or criticism, it was always written in the best of taste and expressed an articulate, poignant viewpoint. Time and time again, SLAM! Wrestling readers demonstrated why they are considered amongst the most passionate and intelligent wrestling fans around.

That's not to say we always saw eye-to-eye on the relevant wrestling issues of the day. Quite the contrary. More often than not, I expressed an opinion in a column or editorial that ruffled the feathers of more than handful of readers out there. During his tenure as one of the senior editors of SLAM! Wrestling, Greg Oliver was besieged with a constant flow of e-mails from irate readers, all expressing the same thing: "How come Molinaro has to be so negative all the time?".

At the same time, others applauded my bold, straightforward and uncompromising approach, appreciative of the fact that I dared to question accepted "truths", in pro wrestling and reveal the dark underbelly of the industry. By writing in such a frank fashion and challenging wrestling's powerbrokers, a portion of SLAM! Wrestling's audience started to see that, perhaps, all is not peaches in cream, in the wonderful word of pro wrestling.

The poet Robert Frost once wrote..."Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference." Frost's credo is how I have chosen to eek out a living as a journalist: Unflinching. Unapologetic. Uncompromising. Unwavering.

Whether you loved me or hated me, agreed with me or were staunchly opposed, thought I was a good reporter or convinced I was a hack, hopefully, if nothing else, you respected me.

Because, truth be told, I respected all of you.

I can't even begin to tell you what an honour and pleasure it was to write for such a smart and well-read audience. Without knowing it, you inspired me to push myself every day.

Wrestling web sites differ in approach and content, each one unique in its own way. What has made SLAM! Wrestling standout over the past six years, in my view, has been the high journalistic standard it has tried to set. More than just a news board or rumours page, SLAM! Wrestling featured actual news articles and feature stories written by dedicated journalists and a network of passionate freelancers who tried to provide the most complete coverage of the wrestling industry.

Because of this editorial policy, I was allowed to pursue and write full-length stories like the life and times of Love Machine, Art Barr; the legend of El Santo; the 25th anniversary of the Ric Flair plane crash; looking back on the career of Jumbo Tsuruta and the tragic story of Johnny Valentine.

Stories that you wouldn't see on any other site but SLAM! Wrestling.

And for that, I am extremely proud.

I'm also proud to have helped to expand the scope of coverage found on SLAM! Wrestling by writing and reporting about the latest happenings in Japanese and Mexican wrestling. When I first started at SLAM!, we offered very little coverage of the international wrestling scene. But thanks to the support of Greg Oliver and John Powell, I was encouraged to cover it by way of news articles, historical features and analytical pieces. In doing so, I received a e-mails from readers who told me that they we're going to look into purchasing video tapes of Mexican and Japanese wrestling after reading one of my articles.

A greater compliment I have never received.

But when it comes right down to it, it's the people involved that make SLAM! Wrestling what it has become.

Working alongside ex-staffers like Stephen Laroche and Alex Ristic proved a fruitful relationship as they inspired me and pushed me to do my best. Our wonderful network of freelancers added an entirely new dimension to the site. Their hard work was absolutely vital and integral to us gaining the reputation in the wrestling community that we have. I tip my cap to people like Chris "Hardcore" Gramlich, Aaron Henry, Nick Tylwalk, Bob Kapur, Yves Leroux, Donnie Abreu, Chris Schramm and Jon Waldman for their dedication. It's been a pleasure working with all of you.

A special thanks to colleagues in the wrestling media who, at one time or another, trumpeted work I had done and lauded me as someone with an actual trace of talent -- go figure! People like Bill Apter, Mike Tenay and Mike Mooneyham were always very supportive of my work and made sure people knew it. A special thanks to Jeff Marek and Dan Lovranski at Live Audio Wrestling and Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer who went out of their way to offer support to myself and everybody here at SLAM! Wrestling. I can't thank you enough for your help and for your friendship.

Of course, I owe the biggest thanks of all to both Greg Oliver and John Powell for helping to shape and mould a young, "wet-behind-the-ears" journalism school graduate into the poised reporter I am today. Words can't even begin to express the gratitude I feel towards both Greg and John and what they have meant to me, both personally and professionally.

Patience is indeed a virtue and over the years, Greg Oliver's was tested when it came to yours truly. Whether it was handling angry phone calls from the WWF over a scathing column I wrote, dealing with readers who complained I wrote too much about Japan and Mexico or editing yet another editorial that took Vince McMahon (AKA Satan) to task, Greg never lost patience with me. It seems trite to say I learned so much working with him, but trite as it may be, it is the truth. Greg pushed me and prodded me to do better each time, challenging me to tackle a story from a different angle and taught me that sometimes, less is more. If there's one person I am heavily in debt to for my writing and reporting style evolving and maturing over the past three years, it is Greg Oliver.

As for John Powell, I learned the valuable lesson of never backing down when facing a challenge. When SLAM! Wrestling became embroiled in a war or words with Jim Ross and the WWF two years ago over its archaic media policy following an editorial I wrote, it was John Powell who proved to be my closest confidant. He took up the cause with me, writing his own editorial. Together, we put enough pressure on the suits in Titan Tower that shortly after the WWF opened its doors to the wrestling media. Much more than that, John has proven to be a shining example of professionalism and how to properly conduct oneself in the course of doing one's job. Thank you for showing me the way, John.

In a few months, my first book on pro wrestling (published by Stewart House Publishing) will be out and in major bookstore chains. It's safe to say that without the guidance of Greg and John that I never would have had the opportunity to tackle such a project. I am eternally grateful for everything they have done for me. Two better co-workers and friends I couldn't possibly imagine.

With my departure, the future of SLAM! Wrestling is unclear at the moment. With only John Powell left, serious decisions have to be made over the next few days. Once that is cleared up, I'm sure John will inform you of what lies ahead for the site.

And with that, I bid a fond farewell to you all and thank you for the kind (and not-so-kind) memories. SLAM! Wrestling readers wishing to drop me a line via e-mail can reach me here.

And for anybody interested in speaking to me in person, you'll be able to find me on the corner of Bloor and Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, panhandling for spare change. I'll be the one sitting on the cold, hard pavement holding a cardboard sign that reads "WILL SLAG VINCE MCMAHON IN PRINT FOR FOOD".

Till we meet again.

"For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!"

-- Frank Sinatra, "My Way"




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