Part Four “Travel”

By Tiar’a Literary & Illustration


TRAVEL – a word that cultivates a sweet indication that a time of rest has come, and to others – a bloody nightmare in the making.

We’ve all been there. Missed flights, traffic jams, canceled flights, wrong booking information at the hotel front desk, and of course, car rentals that were never processed correctly. All these situations and more are often associated with the wonderful experience of travel. Makes you wonder doesn’t it. If we were meant to travel so often, surely our Lord would have created us with wheels, wings, and rudders.


For the general population, travel mishaps are few and far between and this is only because average Americans may travel once, perhaps twice per year. Let us clarify, when we say “travel”, we mean the type of travel that involves completely leaving one’s home, state, and or country for a prolonged period.

For those who live, breathe, and sleep within the wild and wacky world of professional wrestling, travel is a regular occurrence. At one time, a long time ago now, it was a near daily occurrence.

Many moons ago now, and in the days of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, (Trust me) travel was far more strenuous than we, or the general traveler could ever imagine.

At one time, professional wrestlers traveled on average three-hundred days per year. It is remarkable that the likes of Hulk Hogan, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, who endured those ludicrous schedules, are still alive today – albeit, barely. The stress of sleeping somewhere different most nights alone must have been enough to age both ten times quicker than the average joe.

When you look at what was glamourized as a fancy celebrity lifestyle for professional wrestlers back then, now doesn’t seem so fancy after all. Sadly, when professional wrestling schedules were so intense, performers had no choice [if they wanted to earn money and keep their spot within the company’s] but to turn to muscle-enhancing drugs (steroids), uppers (cocaine) and downer\s (sleeping pills), muscle relaxers, and pain blockers. It was recently reported that Hulk Hogan can no longer feel his legs and must now walk on a cane due to the countless years of abuse his body took while living “life on the road”.

For professional wrestlers of today, travel schedules are far less rigorous. Although, it is almost certain that some still choose to experiment with drugs to further assist their popularity. But that’s a topic for another article.

Before Frankie “The Future” Kazarian signed his first long-term guaranteed contract, he relied upon the independent wrestling circuit to earn money and build a reputation. Loosely translated, Frankie traveled to wherever the money and exposure was.

In the early 2000’s, Frankie was booked for a show in Lebanon – that’s in Beirut. That’s in the Middle East. That’s thousands of miles, an entirely different belief system and language away. Frankie was in his early twenties at the time and hadn’t traveled outside the United States. But the fact that established Mexican/American professional wrestler Konan (of WCW/NWO fame) was involved with the show, the young Frankie was more than game. “Sure, I’m in, I told him”, Frankie recalls as he chats with me about the memory.

“So, I land at the airport, and bare in-mind, this is in the early two-thousands. There’s no wi-fi, no smart phones … all I have is a piece of paper with the promoter’s number on it. So, I arrive at the airport expecting for the guy to be there, pick us up and go to the hotel. But he doesn’t show. So, I call the number on the paper and there’s no answer. I call Konan and he’s like – the promoter took the money and split, but people are going to show up at the arena expecting to see a show”.

The “promoter” of a wrestling show is like a contractor in the construction trade. The promoter is the guy who rents the venue (arena/stadium, etc.), books the wrestlers for the show and handles all advertising to sell tickets. He also collects all the money before distributing it to his workers (performers).

Regarding Frankie’s Lebanon show, the promoter had rented the arena, booked the wrestlers, sold all the tickets, and then ran off with the money. This meant that wrestlers who were booked for the show would not be getting paid, because a wrestler gets paid at the end of the show by the promoter unless arranged otherwise.

“Konan’s like, ‘we’re still doing the show … we’ll just sell merchandise, photos, and do autograph signings to make up the money’, so I’m like cool. Anyways, we manage to get a place to stay, we do the show, and it goes well, but then …” This is where things for the young Frankie become very scary. “There were these two guys on the show, and I mean these guys were big and mean. I think they were Russian or something. Anyways, they start arguing after their matches backstage, and it’s getting brutal man. One guy is literally smashing the other guy’s head against a concrete pillar … there’s blood flying everywhere. It was like watching someone smash a coconut against a concrete beam. So, Konan and I try to, ya know, break it up. Next thing I know, these two security guys with huge frickin’ guns show up and start pointing them at us like we’re to blame. We were like, ‘no, no – we’re just trying to stop it’. It was nuts man”.

To make matters worse, on the way home from Lebanon, Frankie’s flight got delayed, turned around – he didn’t think he would ever get back home. But when he did, he got out of the airplane and kissed American soil as hard as he could. “Man, I was never so grateful to be home”, he tells me.

Stories such as these are perhaps uncommon to the average traveler, but for the professional wrestler they are very common – apart from the bit about security with big guns pointed at them. Although, there was once an infamous plane ride that involved a slew of WWE wrestlers during the early 2000’s, which, if security had been onboard, would more than likely have resulted in all of them being arrested and fined.

“So, after having been on TV on TNA, thinking I was going to get a deal with them, to being back home working three jobs, crying myself to sleep every night, and wondering if I should quit this, I suddenly get a call from TNA … “

More next month…

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