AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Only two weeks…
Only two damned weeks…and it happens again.
Michael Lockwood, who wrestled early in his career for the California-based All Pro Wrestling as Erin O’Grady, in WWE as “Crash Holly”, and most recently in TNA and independents as “Mad Mikey”, died at about 1:00 pm on Thursday, November 6. Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer reports that Lockwood may have choked to death on his own vomit.
His body was found in the home of Mike “Steven Richards” Manna in Florida. Lockwood was a longtime friend of Richards and had lived with him for some time, to the point where he made jokes about being “Richards’s wife”, and even suggesting that it’s why he came up with the “Mad Mikey” gimmick, saying “if you were Richards’s ‘wife’ wouldn’t you be ‘mad’, too?”
Lockwood had been released from WWE on June 30, 2003, after he became lost in the shuffle among the other wrestlers acquired by WWE from WCW and ECW. It also didn’t help that he had developed a reputation for heavy drinking. This showed itself in an especially negative way at a function at WWF New York, where Holly fell asleep. He had been shunned by some members of the WWE locker room, due to this behavior….and was rumored to have been the person responsible for Bradshaw’s notorious locker room escapade, where an unnamed wrestler informally found guilty of inappropriate behavior was terrorized in a manner best left unsaid in this column.
Lockwood recently appeared on NWA-TNA PPV under the “Mad Mikey” gimmick tagging with Shark Boy, and was set to begin training students in the California-based Pro Wrestling IRON dojo this weekend. Lockwood wrestled only five days prior to his death at the Heartland Wrestling Association November 1st show.
People are mourning his loss…
Donovan Morgan, Frank Murdoch and Michael Modest of Pro Wrestling Iron expressed their feelings this way:
“…As we sit in our office this drizzly Friday Morning we find ourselves doing little work and a lot of reminiscing. Tomorrow we have the open tryouts, next Saturday – a wrestling show in Lathrop. A lot of work to do, with little time left to get it done. No work today. Today we are laughing, telling stories and feeling sad all at the same time because we have lost our friend Mike.
So many crazy stories-many of them not suitable for print. If only the dojo walls had ears.
Mike Lockwood achieved a dream that so many young athletes aspire to, but never quite realize. At 5’ 8” and all of 200 pounds, Mike achieved immeasurable success in a “big mans world”, against all odds. Mike made it to the big show. The upper echelon of the wrestling world, and when he made it there – he stayed. For a better part of five years, Mike proved to the wrestling fans that a man’s size is not measured in feet and inches. Heart, guts and determination is the measure of a man.
Mike paid his dues to the wrestling world and he left this world owing nobody. Mike gave his friendship unselfishly. Usually friendship is one thing and business is another, but not with Mike.
Mike came to the IRON dojo some months ago while wrestling for WWE in Oakland. It was a Saturday class. He hopped right into the ring and gave our students three hours of training and commentary. For many of the young students that train with us it was a really big deal. Their first personal meeting with a true wrestling Superstar! But for “Crash” it was fun and it was just a favor for his friends Donovan, Frank and Mike. He explained to our guys that he was grateful for all of his friends because he would not have been where he was without them. We all play a part in each other’s lives and each other’s success.
When Mike heard of our open tryouts, he hopped on a plane and was here immediately. No charge. Worked a show for our co-promotion IRON Lucha Libre the next day. Again, no charge.
Recently, just before we headed out to our show in Santa Cruz, we got a call, “Frank! It’s Mike. I’m in California driving on Highway 1. Do you mind if I stop by your show tonight?” We figured he would come by, maybe sign some autographs. Nope, not Mike. He came wrestling bag in hand and asked if he could work. Of course! When we tried to pay him. He insisted on only two beers and a dollar.
In Santa Cruz, he could have gone to the ring and just went through the motions. Work an easy match, do little in the ring and just get over on whom he was. But no, Mike went to the ring and busted his ass. He took a lot of heat and a lot of bumps and had probably the best match of the night with his partner Bart Blaxon against the Ballards.
He was an unselfish friend. He told us time and again to use his name, fame and credibility to our advantage as much as possible, while he still had it. He wanted nothing from us in return except a home.”
While no official cause of death has been published, it’s reasonably safe to say that Lockwood’s past problems may well have played a part in his death. Perhaps he was celebrating his move to California… and drank too much. All stories indicate that it wouldn’t be the first time.
But let’s face it, physically fit 30 year old adults don’t “just die” by choking on their vomit.
Louie Spicolli didn’t “just die” that way.
Art Barr didn’t “just die” that way.
Elizabeth Hulette didn’t “just die that way”.
There was a reason. In each of the preceding cases, alcohol and somas were involved.
It is common for those who drink and then do somas to be so relaxed that they regurgitate. If they do so while sleeping or while so impaired by the drugs that they can’t get their throat clear…this will happen. If no one’s there to save them, they’ll choke to death.
For someone who was apparently so unselfish that he’d give anything to those he worked with in California… not dealing with obvious problems could be viewed as a very selfish act. He was selfish enough not to deal with his problems so he could continue giving that talent to other wrestlers that greatly admired him. It was selfish enough that he denied that pleasure to fans forever after.
If this seems unduly negative (and, I’m well aware at least two other major newsletter writers were taken to task for writing similar articles)…I’m sorry. But I’m sick and damned tired of watching people die…over and over and over again.
I was at the SSA Convention in Secaucus, NJ this past Saturday afternoon…the convention that preceded Jersey All Pro Wrestling’s Sixth Anniversary show. Many tape dealers were there…and I watched the tapes they were showing on their vendor tables TVs. I saw face after face from the recent past…with too many of them no longer with us….Art Barr, Louie Spicolli, Rick Rude, Anthony Durante, Curt Hennig, and Brian Pillman. I saw faces like Shawn Michaels, Eddie Guerrero and others who… but for the grace of God, might just as easily have left us.
Even on a North Jersey afternoon cold enough to remind you that it was November, these memories and those faces hit me like an even colder slap in my own face.
I’ve written these articles over and over again. I’m getting to the point where I’m afraid to open my browser in the morning for fear of whose name I’ll read next with a birth and death date following it.
I’m of the opinion, much as I hate drug testing as a civil libertarian…that mandatory drug testing by State Athletic Commissions…on a widespread basis…may be the only answer to making wrestlers control their behavior. The one national promoter who could implement them, Vince McMahon, isn’t going to implement them unless he’s forced to. In WWE, drug testing… while nominally a part of company policy… is only done when those already addicted to painkillers and other drugs that make it so obvious WWE can’t ignore their situations any further.
Many independent promoters can’t afford to implement such testing. I can understand that on a financial level.
But State Athletic Commissions, those ever-present bodies that spend time telling performers what they can and can’t do inside and around the ring…that unwelcome presence to promoters that collects 5-10% of their gates… can actually DO something with the revenues they collect… besides acting as a cash cow for their respective state governments. They can start governing the artform they govern in a constructive way…by funding testing and counseling programs to keep alive the performers whose actions they’re supposed to be governing.
This would have to happen in enough states…major states like New York, California and others…so that wrestling’s 900 pound gorilla, Vince McMahon, couldn’t simply threaten to stop running shows in the states, as he did in the Pacific Northwest for years…owing to their State Commissions drug testing policies.
In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be necessary. As a civil libertarian, I hate the idea. But it is necessary now…because wrestlers aren’t going to govern themselves. It’s obvious that national wrestling promotions aren’t going to govern their talent, and seem to view them as a sort of cannon fodder…with short life spans. So someone’s going to have to make them do so.
Far too many wrestlers think they’re immortal…and continue on with the use of painkillers, “recreational”, and growth-enhancing drugs…until the day comes that one morning we fire up our Internet browsers…and read their date of birth and date of death…yet one more time.
Until next time…
If you have comments/questions, or if you’d like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.