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Life Wrestling

To my old friend, CJ.

It’s crazy to think that it has been over 10 years since you and I last spoke. I don’t even know if your initials are still CJ. You could be married. It’s also crazy to think that we weren’t even friends for 2 years. You really made an impact on me in that time. I have no idea where you are nowadays or what you are doing with yourself. I have no way to get in touch with you either, considering neither of us use social media. I wish we had a way to chat. We squeezed in an amazing amount of friendship over that short period of time. “The flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”. It’s not quite the original meaning behind the quote, but it is certainly fitting when it pertains to our relationship.

It would have been in year 11 when we met. I’m tempted to say it was in Literature, but I’m not certain on that. I remember exactly where we sat and the classroom we were in though. You must have had a picture of a wrestler on your textbook or phone case or something. It was probably Randy Orton. You sure did love him. I would have made a comment and you were thrilled that someone else liked pro wrestling. From that point on, I couldn’t shut you up or get rid of you. Not that I ever wanted to.

Like most 16, going on 17 year olds, I had grown out of wrestling. At least publicly. It was something I watched at home with my brother, in secret of course. I wouldn’t talk about it anywhere else or with anyone else. You were obsessed with it though, like I was when I was a child. You didn’t gave a damn what anyone else thought, you loved what you loved and you wanted to share it with the world. I always admired that.

I can’t remember if we exchanged numbers instantly or waited a bit, but I remember as soon as you had my number, we were always talking about wrestling. You’d send me through questions about wrestling, day and night. “Do you prefer heels or faces?” (heels, duh) or “Who do you think the best technical wrestler in the world is?” (it’s obviously Kurt Angle) or “Who do you think does the best spear?” (easily Edge) and so on, so on. We’d talk for ages about wrestling. I’d say we debated, but it wasn’t often that we disagreed with one another.

Not long after that, you invited me over to come watch one of WWE’s PPV shows. It would have been after school on a Monday, so we would have been watching the replay. I went along and had an absolute blast. It was the first of many Monday afternoons spent together. A tradition that would soon grow to include Raw, Smackdown, ECW and TNA every Saturday night at 10pm-midnight.

Your family all loved wrestling too, but nowhere near as much as you and I did. They all watched together in the front room, you and watched on a different TV out the back. It was our little pad. We’d sit on our beanbags, eat McDonald’s or frozen pizza (that you would incorrectly heat up in the microwave, not an oven) and watch wrestling. If we weren’t watching wrestling (or talking about it) we were playing the latest Smackdown vs Raw title on your PS2. I can honestly say in all my years playing that game, I had never met an equal in talent until you.

I remember your family would love to watch you and I fight in that game. It was always a show for the ages. I honestly can’t remember who had more wins or losses, we were both pretty competitive but things never got to heated. Your family loved watching those bouts though. You mainly just wanted to play handicap matches, you and me (as Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy) would beat up whichever wrestler you hated the most at the time. It was usually Candice Michelle. You really hated her. Sometimes we also played Spyro the Dragon together. You loved Spyro.

When we both had the same free period at school, we would hang out. I was never really sure why, but you loved to go to Myer to hang out with J, who worked there at the time. You also loved to go to the cinemas, to see L. I think he used work with J at Myer, before he got a new job. We were a weird gang but we always had a good time together. I still see them from time to time, although it’s been a minute. Last time, J asked about you and I told him that we didn’t talk anymore. He was blown away that something managed to come between you and I.

After all, we were together basically always. And when we weren’t together, we were texting or talking on the same wrestling forums. I really wish I could remember the name of the one we used the most. wrestling forum.com? Surely not, that’s too obvious. Right? I fancy myself as a pretty intelligent wrestling fan. Most of what I know about the business, I learned from you.

I remember for my 18th birthday, I came over to your house and you guys had decorated our pad to celebrate. You guys got me some pretty cool wrestling gifts, the highlight of which was a life-size cardboard cut out of Jeff Hardy. You and your mom had travelled up to the city to get it. Just for me. I was pretty floored.

Obviously, we collected wrestling magazines and action figures. Not toys, action figures. One time at Myer we each purchased a WWE Tag Team Champion replica belt. That way we were the tag team champions. You wanted me to come over so we could take photos together. Naturally, I complied. We took some really dorky pictures in your backyard. I wish I had a copy. We talked about building a wrestling ring in your backyard so we could become wrestlers.

Eventually, all the talk wasn’t enough anymore and we enrolled in a wrestling school. We had to travel 2 hours to the city and 2 hours back home for every single training session. We didn’t really mind though, we were used to long car trips to the city. We went to many concerts together and many wrestling shows. We were pretty good at passing the time. It’s funny, you are the only person I’ve ever met who would always sit in the back seat, just so we weren’t separated. It was like your mom or L were our personal chauffeurs.

I loved the idea of being a wrestler, but I loved the idea of being a manager more. I wasn’t really cut out to be a wrestler. I had a pretty scrawny frame and on our second or third training session, I hurt my shoulder pretty badly. Turns out it was the early warning signs of 2 things. The first being my terrible posture and the second would end being an eventual diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis. I never told you about it, but I lost a lot of my confidence after that. I didn’t want you to know, because I didn’t want to let you down. I tried to tough it out for you, but I wasn’t mentally in it anymore.

Anyway, between all this time spent together, we had school and I had a weekend job. I worked every Saturday and Sunday. On top of all of that, I had a girlfriend. Upon reflection, I can see that I didn’t really pay her much attention. It was always you and I first. It was hard to have time for her, considering I was with you roughly 5 nights a week. I probably should have just ended my relationship with her, but I tried to juggle everything and make it all work. Eventually, she got into wrestling so she could spend more time with us. After that, I had to start watching the wrestling at her house sometimes as well.

Then there was the night that everything changed. It was just another night for you and I, but the ramifications of a seemingly innocent and meaningless event for us, lead to the eventual end of our friendship.

I can’t remember if we were in the city for a concert, training or a wrestling show. But we got back home very late on a Saturday night. It must of been after midnight. I had work early the next morning and the last thing I wanted to do was drive the 25 minutes from your house to mine, so I crashed the night. We shared your single bed and I woke up the next morning and headed to work.

When my girlfriend found out that I not only stayed the night, but we shared a bed, she wasn’t very happy. I can understand that. At the time though, I couldn’t see the big deal. I guess in her head, there was probably something going on that night and it involved very little clothing. That was so far from the truth. We were both wearing slightly too small pjs (because they were kids pjs from K-Mart, WWE ones, obviously) and we were so exhausted we went straight to sleep.

Things started to change after that. I had to spend more and more time with her, and less and less time with you. I imagine it must have been hard for you to feel betrayed by one of your closest friends. The ultimate betrayal came when I cancelled our Monday night PPV, at the very last minute, to hang out with my girlfriend. I felt really bad about it and you were understandably hurt. By trying to keep you both, I just lost you both.

I should have tried harder to make it up to you, especially after my girlfriend broke up with me, but I was too stubborn. I felt like everything else in my life was leaving at the point as well, so I just let our friendship go. My parents were divorcing and I wasn’t really talking to either of them. I wasn’t in contact with my brothers. I didn’t keep in touch with anyone when school ended. You were the last remaining part of that chapter of my life. I let you go, but I wish I didn’t.

I have a family of my own now, but I still miss you and yours. I got back in touch with my Dad. Even though I miss you, life went on and I’ve got a new best friend. She doesn’t care for wrestling, but she’s pretty great. I’m engaged to be married, hopefully in May. My fiancé is a very kind and understanding person. She puts up with all of my weirdness and all of my passions. Best of all, I have a little girl. She’s almost 2 years old and is obsessed with wrestling. You’d love her. She is always trying new manoeuvres out on me and she can’t even talk yet. Last week she hit me with a flying head-butt, just like Benoit used to, right from the top of the couch. She hurt herself and started crying, but after that, she climbed straight back up to try it again. I just know that one day, I’m going to end up building that ring in the backyard after all.

I still watching wrestling now and I think of you and our time together with fondness. I usually wonder if you are watching the same companies and shows that I am. I always tell my fiancé about you and our adventures together. And how I never met anyone else in the world who loved wrestling as much as you do. I always say to her “I bet CJ loves that wrestler” or “I guarantee CJ hates them”. Every time a new wrestler makes their debut, there is a part of me that hopes to see you walk down the ramp and into the ring. Wherever you are, I’m sure you’ve wreaked havoc on the independent circuit.

I really wish that we had a way to get into touch. I saw your sister about a year ago. We talked a bit, but I didn’t ask about you. It was pretty stupid of me. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I just want you to know that you were an amazing friend. I’m sorry I took it for granted and I’m sorry I let you leave my life. You were funny, passionate and bubbly. Definitely a weirdo, but I loved that the most. You meant a lot to me in my life, I’m sorry I never told you that. Who knew that on that day, in english literature, I would meet someone who would change my life so much.

Wherever you are, CJ, I hope you are as happy as I am and I hope you are healthy. And obviously, I hope you are the champion of whatever it is you are doing. I’m sure you are. We always joked about how we would watch Wrestlemania 100 together. I hope we can.

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