Originally published at POLLOCK'S NEWS UPDATE: "The Double Life of Chris Kanyon"
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**Rewind-A-SmackDown will be LIVE at a special start time of 12:15 a.m. ET late tonight. Wai Ting and I will be reviewing both Friday Night SmackDown and the two-hour edition of AEW Rampage. Due to the late start, we will not be doing calls on tonight’s show but instead, the Extreme Rules POST Show will be live for all Patrons and will include calls on Sunday night. Rewind-A-SmackDown is live and available to download for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.
**Wai Ting and I have a separate show that is out and available for all listeners. In this bonus show, we have a review of Friday’s B Block show from the G1 Climax and a big review of the Chris Kanyon episode of Dark Side of the Ring from Thursday night. As a special bonus, we have included a 2008 interview that Mauro Ranallo conducted with Kanyon from Fight Network Radio (which is the show I worked on) where the two discussed their respective mental health struggles and felt it was an important conversation to share. I also want to extend a thank you to The Fight Network, for allowing us to run this interview.
**Brent Chittenden is the guest on the latest edition of MCU L8R with Wai Ting and WH Park. The three discuss this week’s episode of What…If?
**We will be doing our next G1 Climax podcast this Sunday for members of the POST Wrestling Café.
Tonight: Rewind-A-SmackDown with John & Wai (Special start time: 12:15 a.m. ET for all Patrons)
Saturday: UFC 266 POST Show with Phil Chertok & Eric Marcotte (LIVE on POST YouTube)
Sunday: G1 Climax – Day 5 Podcast (Patreon)
Sunday: WWE Extreme Rules POST Show (LIVE for ALL Patrons)
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF CHRIS KANYON
The story of Chris Klucsarits a.k.a. Chris Kanyon was examined on Dark Side of the Ring this week.
It is a tragic story involving a man that struggled with his sexual identity from a young age learning he was gay at age 12. He held onto his secret for fear of being shunned and later, concern over being ostracized in an industry he believed would be intolerant. This was coupled with the fact he suffered many concussions during his career, pegging the count at 11 in his book, while being diagnosed as bipolar in June 2004 several months after a suicide attempt the previous September.
Kanyon grew up in Sunnyside, New York, and was an ardent pro wrestling fan from a young age traveling to several WrestleManias. One of his prized possessions was a turnbuckle pad that he stole from the ring hours after WrestleMania 4 in Atlantic City when he snuck into the building. He attended many shows including the January 23, 1984, card at Madison Square Garden where Hulk Hogan beat The Iron Shiek for the title, multiple WrestleMania cards including ‘Mania 6 in Toronto. In a trivia note, Kanyon, Edge, and Lance Storm all attended the show in Toronto as fans.
He would make his pro debut as “Chris Morgan” in April 1992 on the same day as that year’s WrestleMania after being trained by Pete McKay, Bobby Bold Eagle, and Ismael Gerena. Shortly after, he moved to South Carolina and that’s where he met Jim Mitchell and was set up to train at Fabulous Moolah’s school in Columbia.
Mitchell and Kanyon would be connected through the rest of his life working together in Smokey Mountain and then in WCW with Mitchell playing “Daryl Van Horne” and then “James Vandenburg”.
Kanyon gained a good reputation as an enhancement worker that could take spectacular spots and came up with his inventive offense, which was a moniker he adopted in his WCW career. He frequently did jobs on WWF, WCW, and ECW programming and a brief run in Memphis with Billy Kidman as the hockey duo known as “Power Play”. When Memphis ended, he took his chances trying out at the WCW Power Plant and Jody Hamilton took a liking to him and he was put on the road making $150 per show.
His first notable gimmick in WCW was teaming with Mark Starr and later, Mike Wenner, as “Men at Work” that was a goofy construction worker team that came out in hard hats with measuring tape that was par for the course in that era.
A clip circulated this week of Kanyon retelling the story of making $30,000 per year in WCW, meeting with Eric Bischoff, and being nervous about asking for a raise. Kanyon threw out the figure of $70,000 per year and Bischoff upped it to $100,000, which you can imagine how impactful that was and a sign he had truly made it.
The character of Mortis was most remembered in WCW where the company had high hopes for a group of video game characters that they could license and merchandise. Kanyon played Mortis, Ernest Miller was The Cat, Bryan Clark played Wrath, and Ray Lloyd was Glacier. The “Blood Runs Cold” vignettes became a running joke running on and on and the characters never got the push they were intended to and came at a crossroads of the WCW’s overly cartoonish characters and a reality-based scene based on the success of the N.W.O.
He was unmasked in 1998 and wrestled under the Chris Kanyon name, having strong matches with Raven, Perry Saturn, and working with The Flock. In 1999, he was linked with Diamond Dallas Page and Bam Bam Bigelow as “The Jersey Triad” that was an underrated team and had two tremendous pay-per-view matches with Chris Benoit and Saturn in mid-1999.
Bischoff valued Kanyon a lot and sent him as the WCW representative to help with choreography on several projects. He was stationed in Toronto to assist with NBC’s made-for-TV movie on Jesse Ventura that aired the same night that Owen Hart died in May 1999. He also worked on Ready to Rumble, an HBO episode of Arli$$, and assisted with Jay Leno and Dennis Rodman’s matches when they worked with WCW. Today, he would have been a fantastic agent given his open mind towards the style that is successful today, his eye for talent when recruiting Cruiserweights, and his ability to teach.
In 2000, he had a hilarious run as “Positively” Kanyon that were genuinely funny segments where Kanyon hit Diamond Cutters out of nowhere and did a fun interpretation of DDP. He also played Chris “Champagne” Kanyon following his movie work in Hollywood.
His WWE career started off in a manner where you believed he would find a role, even if it was a comedic one. He held both the U.S. and WCW tag titles in the summer of 2001 and his “Who Betta?” catchphrase worked to his favor as one of the sidekicks of The Alliance. He got hurt in the fall and missed more than a year of action. When he came back, he was used in an embarrassing and humiliating segment dressed as Boy George and overaccentuating his natural lisp singing to The Undertaker and getting physically destroyed including a brutal chair shot to the head and claimed he was concussed.
Kanyon openly questioned if the segment was written because of his homosexuality and became his last notable moment in WWE prior to his February 2004 release. In public, he stated he was fired for being gay, although on Dark Side and in the Wrestling Observer obit on his career, that was questioned with the Observer stating he privately told people that he knew it wasn’t the case.
The years after wrestling was hard on Kanyon, whose life was geared towards making it in the business, and told Mauro Ranallo in a May 2008 interview that it was hard to move on once you make it in this industry.
Kanyon made numerous appearances on Howard Stern including a segment in 2006 where Ric Flair was sent by the company to discredit Kanyon and defend the company over his release. It was a sad scene where Flair ran down the skills of Kanyon and said there wasn’t a place for him on the show. Kanyon had the ultimate “checkmate line” responding to Flair and asking, “If I was such a bad wrestler, why did he once ask me to train his own son?” in reference to David Flair.
He publicly announced he was gay in 2006 and said in the interview with Ranallo that it was met with 98 percent positivity in the industry. Kanyon always had hopes of getting back with a major company but it never happened.
In April 2010, he was found dead at the age of 40 and it was ruled a suicide.
It is very difficult to assess the factors at play for Kanyon and what impact – positive and negative the industry played on him because there were examples of both. He was a lifelong fan that made it to the top company in the world by 1998 and had a strong position within WCW. However, his national run was over by the age of 34 and that’s a tough position for anyone let alone someone that was diagnosed as bipolar and fought those struggles.
It was comforting to see the acceptance of Kanyon by those closest to him when he finally disclosed his sexuality and it was met with a mostly positive response.
Kanyon sacrificed a burgeoning career as a physical therapist making good money in favor of his childhood dream. He put all his eggs into the pro wrestling basket and sadly, when the basket was empty, he was forced to confront who he was without professional wrestling. Hopefully, this episode can convey that he meant a lot of things to a lot of different people beyond just being a pro wrestler.
With notes from Wrestling Reality: The Life and Mind of Chris Kanyon and April 12, 2010 edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
**Deadline is reporting that WWE and MGM are working together to revive “American Gladiators” that would include talent from WWE. The outlet reports that Mark Burnett is pitching the non-scripted series to various platforms. In addition, a 30 for 30 documentary on the original series that ran from 1989-1996 is in development from ESPN and Vice Studios. The proposed reboot would see MGM and WWE hold executive producer credits.
**Dark Side of the Ring’s episode on “The Double Life of Chris Kanyon” averaged 214,000 viewers and 0.07 in the 18-49 demographic, according to Showbuzz Daily. The audience was up from last week’s average of 153,000 viewers for the Plane Ride from Hell episode while the 18-49 demo was 0.07 last week as well. It ranked 87th for the night on cable while the Thursday night NFL game between Carolina and Houston did 7,393,000 viewers.
**IMPACT Wrestling averaged 117,000 viewers and 0.03 in the 18-49 demographic on AXS TV Thursday night. IMPACT finished 140th among all cable networks. (Showbuzz Daily)
**Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics reported the quarter-hours from AEW Grand Slam on Wednesday night. The peak for both overall viewership and in the 18-49 demographic occurred during the second quarter featuring the middle of the Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson match. The opening quarter averaged 1,258,000 viewers and 622,000 in 18-49 from 8-8:15 p.m. ET, then grew to 1,373,000 and 679,000 between 8:15-8:30 p.m. The third quarter featuring the final minutes of the match, The Elite attacking Danielson, and most of CM Punk’s promo averaged 1,334,000 and 672,000. Overall viewership in hour two was very consistent, although the 18-49 did drop throughout the second hour with its lowest mark for the final quarter of the show with 564,000 for the ending of Britt Baker vs. Ruby Soho.
**Friday’s G1 Climax show at Ota City General Gymnasium only drew 816 people, which is down from 1,219 the night prior for the A Block show. That’s a very disappointing figure for a G1 card that included matches with Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi on the bill. Last weekend, the B Block card outdrew the A Block at Edion Arena in Osaka with 1,963 on the opening night of the tournament and 2,188 the next night for the B Block matches.
**Earlier this week, it was announced that Marty Scurll would be appearing on a CWA show in Puerto Rico on Saturday, October 23rd in San Juan. Scurll has not wrestled since February 2020 and was named during the Speaking Out Movement, which led to an investigation by Ring of Honor, which parted ways with Scurll earlier this year. Scurll was accused of committing sexual assault by a woman that stated she was 16 years old at the time of the alleged assault. Scurll issued a statement and acknowledged the encounter but stated it was consensual and legal.
**AEW Rampage has a special two-hour edition of the show airing at 10 p.m. ET on TNT. The show features the matches taped after Dynamite at Arthur Ashe Stadium including CM Punk’s first match on TV since beating Billy Gunn on January 20, 2014. The show is also highlighted by a major angle involving American Top Team, which I feel they should have shown a highlight of it over the past 24 hours to hype up the show and tuning in to see it take place. This will be a noteworthy episode as the odds are high this will be a strong audience given the star power of those wrestling and heavy promotion of the episode. With a big number, it only suggests that TNT and AEW will try the two-hour format again down the road, and then the question is whether they entertain the idea of expanding the length of the show. It’s premature to have that discussion now but it’s only logical given the success Rampage has had over its first six weeks and trying out this format tonight. Below is the line-up airing on TNT and TSN Direct in Canada:
*Lights Out Match: Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston vs. Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer
*Anna Jay vs. Penelope Ford
*The Lucha Brothers, Santana & Ortiz vs. Private Party, The Butcher & The Blade
*Chris Jericho & Jake Hager vs. Scorpio Sky & Ethan Page
*The Young Bucks & Adam Cole vs. Christian Cage, Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus
*CM Punk vs. Powerhouse Hobbs
**Friday Night SmackDown takes place from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia tonight and airs at 8 p.m. ET on Fox. It’s the last show before Extreme Rules, although it feels like the Draft next week is the bigger priority. The following matches and segments are advertised tonight:
*Intercontinental Championship: King Nakamura (champion) vs. Apollo Crews
*Liv Morgan vs. Zelina Vega
*Happy Corbin hosts “Happy Talk”
**Typically, the CMLL Anniversary card is one of the major events of the year but with the company in disarray throughout the pandemic, this show doesn’t have the same significance as the year’s previous. The 88th Anniversary card takes place from Arena Mexico tonight with a 9:30 p.m. ET start time on TicketMaster Live and we will have a report on the site courtesy of thecubsfan at Luchablog.
Below is the line-up for the event with the fan order determined by the fan`s voting and the women’s tag set to headline:
*Mexican National Women’s Tag Championship: La Jarochita & Lluvia (champions) vs. Reina Isis & Dark Silueta
*Mexican National Tag Championship: Rey Cometa & Espiritu Negro (champions) vs. Espanto Jr. & Akuma
*CMLL Heavyweight Championship: Ultimo Guerrero (champion) vs. Hechicero
*CMLL World Tag Team Championship: Volador Jr. & Titan vs. Los Gemelos Diablo (the titles became vacant after Mistico II left CMLL)
*Mexican National Middleweight Championship: Templario vs. Dragon Rojo Jr. (a match for another vacant title)
**Game Changer Wrestling is at the Melrose Ballroom for the second night in a row tonight with GetLostAlot streaming live at 8 p.m. ET on Fite TV. The company is on an incredible hot streak with the crowds they have been drawing and have announced a sellout for tonight. The card is highlighted by Minoru Suzuki as his U.S. tour continues as well as Taiji Ishimori being sent over from New Japan. Below are the matches listed:
*Minoru Suzuki vs. Homicide
*Nick Gage vs. Grim Reefer
*Non-Title: Mance Warner & Matthew Justice vs. Chris Dickinson & Starboy Charlie
*AR Fox vs. Alex Zayne
*Taiji Ishimori vs. Tony Deppen
*Six-Way Scramble: Jimmy Lloyd vs. ASF vs. Ninja Mack vs. Dante Leon vs. Nick Wayne vs. Deranged
*Atticus Cogar vs. Jordan Oliver
*Major announcement by Matt Cardona
**WWE has announced the following matches for tonight’s edition of 205 Live at 10 p.m. ET on the WWE Network:
*Ember Moon vs. Cora Jade
*Xyon Quinn vs. Oney Lorcan
*Ikemen Jiro vs. Malik Blade
**The G1 Climax has a day off on Saturday and returns with the A Block on Monday from Kobe World Hall. The show was supposed to feature a huge match between Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito but instead, Takagi will face Yuji Nagata in a non-tournament match. The main event in Kobe will be Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. In past G1 matches, Ibushi has gone 3-0 against Zack with wins in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The following matches are scheduled for Sunday with the point totals in brackets:
*Kota Ibushi (4) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (4)
*Tomohiro Ishii (2) vs. KENTA (4)
*Tanga Loa (2) vs. Toru Yano (4)
*Great O-Khan (6) vs. Yujiro (4)
*Non-tournament: Shingo Takagi vs. Yuji Nagata
*Non-tournament: Master Wato vs. Kosei Fujita
**NJPW Strong will hold tapings this weekend in Garland, Texas at the Curtis Culwell Center. They are taping Saturday and Sunday with Will Ospreay and Minoru Suzuki as the key names on the shows. According to WrestleTix, the sales have not been great as the set-up is listed for over 1,600 people with less than 460 tickets out for each night. To compare, AEW drew a sellout with 5,400 paid in the same building in July.
Saturday’s show features Minoru Suzuki vs. Fred Rosser, Will Ospreay vs. Karl Fredericks, Juice Robinson & Lio Rush & Clark Connors & TJP vs. Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo & Hikuleo & Chris Bey, Tom Lawlor vs. Ren Narita, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero vs. Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs.
**WWE has actually put together a Top 10 video of wrestlers getting destroyed in their hometown.
**Stephanie McMahon-Levesque turns 45 years old today.
**The WWE stock closed at $55.96 on Friday.
**The UFC 266 weigh-ins took place on Friday morning from Las Vegas where all the fighters hit the mark. The biggest news was that lightweights Dan Hooker and Nasrat Haqparast made weight after they arrived in Las Vegas on Thursday from their international destinations as visa issues affected their ability to arrive earlier in the week. If ever there was a situation to waive the weight limit and allow a catchweight fight without any fines, this was the example, and yet, both made weight and should be commended for their professionalism when circumstances were wildly out of their control. Below is the card and weigh-in results:
MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view)
*UFC Featherweight Championship: Alexander Volkanovski (144.5) vs. Brian Ortega (144)
*UFC Flyweight Championship: Valentina Shevchenko (124) vs. Lauren Murphy (125)
*Robbie Lawler (184) vs. Nick Diax (185.5)
*Curtis Blaydes (261) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (257)
*Jessica Andrade (126) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (126)
PRELIMINARY CARD (8 p.m. ET on ESPNews, ESPN+)
*Marlon Moraes (135.5) vs. Merab Dvalishvili (135.5)
*Dan Hooker (155.5) vs. Nasrat Haqparast (154.5)
*Shamil Abdurakhimov (258) vs. Chris Daukaus (231)
*Roxanne Modafferi (125.5) vs. Talia Santos (125)
EARLY PRELIMS (6 p.m. ET on ESPN+, Fight Pass)
*Uros Medic (156) vs. Jalin Turner (156)
*Cody Brundage (185.5) vs. Nick Maximov (185.5)
*Matthew Semelsberger (170.5) vs. Martin Sano (170)
*Omar Morales (145.5) vs. Jonathan Pierce (145.5)
**Prior to his arrest on Friday former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones spoke with the media ahead of Thursday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Jones and Alexander Gustafsson were inducted into the Fight Wing of the Hall of Fame for their September 2013 fight at UFC 165. Jones said he is currently about 255 pounds and his goal is to get up to 270 pounds with several more months of work to do. He said he is hopeful of fighting in the second quarter of 2022 and wants to fight for the title. He sees Francis Ngannou as a mega fight and a bigger star than Ciryl Gane. Jones said that Dana White “guaranteed” him a pay increase in his next fight and would be “pay-per-view based” indicating the extra amounts would be based on pay-per-view buys. Jones noted the relationship with UFC is good and working with Richard Schaefer has helped a lot.
ON THIS DATE
WWF presents its Unforgiven pay-per-view in 2000 that was promoted around Steve Austin’s return from neck surgery. Austin made an appearance on the show and they would save his first on-screen match until the following month’s pay-per-view to get the most value out of him. The card included a Steel Cage Match between Edge & Christian and The Hardys, who would come back the very next night and have a Ladder Match on the first episode of Raw on TNN:
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MCU L8R: What If…? Ep. 7 “Thor Were an Only Child?” (w/ Brent Chittenden)
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Martin Bushby & Andrew Thompson are back with another round of Wrestling Adventure. This month they are joined by Chinyere Okafor to go back to 2014 and the Pro Wrestling Guerilla show, Black Cole Sun.
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John Pollock & Wai Ting review AEW Dynamite Grand Slam from Arthur Ashe Stadium featuring Kenny Omega vs. Bryan Danielson in front of the largest audience in the promotion’s history.
SHOT IN THE DARK: Tanahashi & Ishii NJPW Strong debuts, Janela vs. Kiss
John Siino reviews this week’s editions of AEW Dark, AEW Dark: Elevation, NXT UK, 205 Live, NJPW Strong, NWA Powerrr, Ring of Honor, and Main Event in under 15 minutes on Shot In The Dark.
upNXT 9/21/21: Who?!
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REWIND-A-WAI #95: WCW Nitro (April 10, 2000)
John Pollock & Wai Ting review WCW Nitro from April 10, 2000, as Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff join forces on-and-off-screen to usher in a reality-based era of WCW television pitting The New Blood against the Millionaire’s Club.
REWIND-A-RAW 9/20/21: Triple Threat, Flair responds, Owen Hart-AEW
John Pollock & Wai Ting are back to chat about WWE Raw feat. Big E vs. Roman Reigns vs. Bobby Lashley, Ric Flair addresses allegations from Dark Side of the Ring, and AEW working with the Owen Hart Foundation.
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