What a long, strange trip it's been


Friends, Romans, countrymen…I'm in a reminiscing mood this week. Over the weekend, I caught up with a couple old friends from college, and we were remembering some of the stupid fun stuff we did, a lot of which involved going to wrestling shows. Hey, I went to college in Philly, the home of ECW and a bunch of other small-time promotions back in the day. And anytime one came around, we would go; they were fun, and we never knew when or if one of those guys would become the next big thing, or at least someone we enjoyed watching for one reason or another.

As I watched RAW this week, I had one of those moments. Here's a little known Louie Dee fact: I enjoy the tag team of Snitsky & Tyson Tomko. And on RAW, Snitsky & Tomko got a shot at the World Tag Team Championship; granted, it was a Fatal Four Way, and granted, they didn't do too well, but they had the opportunity. At that moment, I had a little déjà vu, as just this weekend one of the things my friends and I had a laugh over happened to be my "first day in the business." It was actually also the first time I met Gene Snitsky, although I didn't even know it was him at the time.

It was November 1999. I was in college, and there was uproar at good old Temple University, because wrestling was coming to McGonigle Hall. Thanks to my buddy Rob who did web development, I happened to meet Hunter Q. Robbins. Robbins was a manager/wrestler in the very early days of ECW, and was now the promoter of a small federation in New York State. Looking to expand, he decided to run a show in Philly, and we promoted the hell out of it in and around campus. However, poor Robbins really didn't have much of a crew, so he reached out to my friend. Somehow, my buddy Scott ended up getting a gig as the ring announcer for the night, and I was drafted to work the camera.

At the time, we thought this was the greatest thing in the world. We were actually officially working in the wrestling business! We even ran a story on it on the campus television news show, hoping people would come out and check it out. The main event was King Kong Bundy vs. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, and the next biggest "star" was another guy who wrestled in ECW back in the day. Despite all the press we gave it, apparently my friends and I were the minority. The total paid attendance was about 30, tops. Now, McGonigle Hall isn't the biggest building in the world, but they could've held this show inside an elementary school gym and it would've looked empty. 

So I ran the camera, which was actually a rented Hi-8 video camera on a tripod set up in the bleachers. The show was pretty bad, but there was a good tag team match between these two monsters called the Darkside Demons, who were the tag team champions, and some other tag team. I remember watching it thinking that the Demons were pretty decent wrestlers, and they were massive, which is a good combination in this business.

After the show, I brought the camera into the locker room, as we needed to film a couple promos for the television show. Yes, they had a television show. We did one for Bundy, then one for Snuka, and finally one for the Demons. Their match had ended in a No Contest, as another team ran in to brawl with the participants, and now they were angry. Hunter Q did all the talking, and the Demons stood around looking menacing. Now Bundy's a big dude, and did nothing but berate me the whole time because I couldn't frame him without standing on a bench. I didn't care, because I was just really in awe that I was actually meeting King Kong Bundy. The Demons, on the other hand, were actually pretty nice guys. They introduced themselves to us afterwards, thanked us, said we did a good job…you know, the standard post-job pat on the back. I never actually saw them take their masks off, but told them I hoped to see them move on to bigger things someday.

My payment for the show? I got an autographed picture with Bundy. Scott got paid because he was actual talent, but hell, what I got was enough for me. I was 19, I had just spent a night working in the business I loved, and I couldn't have been happier. Little did I know where I would end up five years later, or what would happen one fateful night on RAW.

Flash forward to 2004. I'm now working at WWE, watching RAW one night when some unknown dude named Gene Snitsky shows up to take on Kane. That week, me and Rob are talking about RAW (like we did almost every week), but all he could talk about was this Snitsky guy. After a while, I'm like "why are you all up on this guy's jock?" After a small chuckle, Rob says "You didn't know? He was one of Hunter's guys on that show you did at Temple. Hard to believe, huh?" I nearly spit out my drink when he said that. I remember thinking how cool it was that if he really was one of those guys I wished luck to…he actually made it!

And now, as 2005 comes to a close, I can admit that I enjoy watching Gene Snitsky. I even bought his action figure. Sure, it's mostly because he was one of the first guys I ever met in this business (even though I didn't know I had met him until five years later), but hey, that counts, right?  I've since worked with a lot more people, obviously, but I'll probably never forget Snitsky no matter what happens. He's certainly come a long way since that cold night in Philly, but more importantly, he reminds me that I've come a long way too. 

Thanks Gene, and here's to a big 2006 for you and Tomko.

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