Will Not Die-aries: Thoughts on rival Gregroy Helms
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Hello, my amigos! It's that time of the week again; time for the second installment of the Will Not Die-aries! I plan on sticking to current topics with this column, and this week will be no different. I want to take a few minutes and talk about my one-time best friend that became my ultimate rival, Gregory Helms.
In case you haven't heard (and I don't know how you couldn't have), the O.G. Gregory Helms had MAJOR neck surgery this week. Helms has been the talk of the Internet the last week or so, so I decided I'd make him the talk of my WWE.com blog.
The first time I ever met Gregory "Shane" Helms was in Goldston, N.C., at the Goldston Sports Arena. Gregory was managing his partner at the time, Mike Maverick, and was one of those guys upon first seeing him -- you just wanna punch him in the face. He was extremely skinny, wearing a beret and talking trash in a very confident, comfortable and secure way. I remember very vividly Helms getting hit in the head with a rock from one of the crowd members. I knew if nothing else, Gregory Helms had the fans' attention.
A couple of weeks later, I was booked to compete at an event that Gregory was also on. After the horrendous show was over, Jeff and I went to eat with Helms and his partner. I actually clicked with the O.G. right from the jump, whereas Jeff wasn't so sure of him.
As time went on, Gregory and I continued to grow closer as friends. We both had the same dream, to make a career out of working in the wrestling business and making it to the Mecca of sports-entertainment: WWE.
Greg and I also shared a similar mindset in helping our partners and friends improve their crafts. We also both "got" the professional wrestling business, whereas many of the independent wrestlers you run into don't really "get" the business.
Gregory Helms and I also shared one other very important thing in common: We were both leaders, not followers. Greg, and his partner, Mike joined our crew of me, Jeff, Shannon Moore, Joey Abs, Joey Mercury, Christian York, Steve Corino, C.W. Anderson, and Marty "Cham Pain" Garner in OMEGA. We probably became the most talented, best independent group on the East Coast.
Helms and I competed in such a healthy way at this time. If Greg had a great match, I would do my damnedest to have an awesome match. If I did a crazy move that the crowd loved, Gregory would do all he could to do a bigger and better move. It all culminated one night when I wrestled his partner in a main event match for the OMEGA championship.
When Helms walked in, I looked up at the top of a 22-foot high tractor-trailer that was beside the ring and asked him if he would jump off it. He looked at me very calmly, said "Yeah," and headed to the dressing room. So I tried to beat him to the punch during my match. I attempted to do something spectacular to his partner off the tractor-trailer, but was countered. I took a huge fall off the tractor-trailer, which was crazy (and very painful). While I was hurt in the ring, Greg's partner put me on a table. Greg put me through the table by jumping off the 22-foot trailer with an insane splash that almost broke his neck.
That was the epitome of how we tried to constantly one-up one another. Shortly thereafter, I signed with WWE. I think this was the point where Helms started feeling some animosity toward me. I had achieved what we had always dreamed about. I think it hurt Greg because he looked at everything as a contest, even achieving our dream, and he didn't like to lose. A good leader never does.
A year or so later, Gregory Helms signed with WCW, and was making a great living and name for himself. I continued to gain success within WWE, and Greg was rapidly gaining notoriety in WCW. As time went on, our phone calls became less personal and more business driven. We have such a natural rivalry; we competed and debated on who had the better match on television last week, who had the cooler moves, who had the most fans (especially female), and who would be the first to win a World Heavyweight Title.
Helms is a tough cookie to compete against. He's extremely intelligent and ridiculously talented. Knowing our history and competitive rivalry, it drove me to work hard and be as good as I possibly could be. In 2001, WWE bought WCW and Gregory Helms was coming into my backyard. I was excited.
I remember attempting to give him advice on the inner workings of the WWE, but he didn't wanna hear it. We were definitely at different places mentally at this time. I remember one particular conversation we had about relationships, where we've ALWAYS had a difference of opinions. I stated my beliefs, and he looked at me like I was an idiot. He stated his beliefs, and I just nodded my head, giving off the "I'm not listening to anything you're saying" vibe.
The interaction between my friend and I was reaching the boundaries of being unhealthy. And that sucked. I didn't feel like I had changed, but I felt like Greg had, and he seemed cold and callous towards me. Maybe it was because Jeff and I had done really well, and won several World Tag Team Championships whereas his team in WCW never really got the credit or success they were due, especially with him being the standout.
Greg's first target in WWE was me. When he debuted his new bad attitude as The Hurricane, he directed his frustrations and aggressions at his former friend. And I think he justified his bitter, self- righteous, cocky demeanor when he beat me for the European Championship.
There was no doubt about it at that time -- Gregory Helms was up on Matt Hardy. As we all know, I've had a myriad of speedbumps throughout my career, and I took this as another one. I picked up and moved on.
Years later, Gregory Helms finds himself back on my show, Smackdown. He became the longest reigning Cruiserweight Champion ever in WWE -- more specifically, a longer reigning Cruiserweight Champion than me. Helms called me out and started interfering in my business and it was on once again. But this time it was so different.
When I looked into Greg's eyes, all I saw was hate and anger. But I still saw my former best friend that had once stuck with me through thick and thin. I was very torn -- but when I gotta go, I GO! GO! GO!
This issue came to a head at No Mercy 2006 last year in Raleigh, N.C., which is considered the hometown for both of us. In what I thought was one of the best matches of both of our careers, I defeated Helms 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring, with the Twist of Fate.
Gregory has joked about this since then, claiming that victory resuscitated my career. To be quite honest, maybe it did. From then on, I went on a tear and have defeated Helms, The Miz, King Booker, Mr. Kennedy and several others, as well as seizing the Raw World Tag Team Championship with Jeff.
Even with our relationship being so distant, I knew he was keeping up with my career, as I was his. And as weird as this seems, maybe it took this conflict between us to make us both surpass our original dreams and aspirations. Regardless of how you look at it, we've both played a part in driving the other to be successful. So therefore, in a very strange and bizarre way, we've always helped each other.
I will always respect Gregory Helms. We've been through the trenches together, we've fought together, we've partied together, we've done
everything together. And I'll be the first to say it; there's no one tougher, wittier, more talented or more resilient than Gregory Helms.
A week or so ago, I learned that Greg had a broken neck and was lucky to be walking, especially considering the severity of the injury. Last
Monday, Gregory had a destroyed disc removed, and had his C6 and C7 vertebrae fused together. It was a MAJOR surgery. If he's able to come back, it'll be at least a year before he can.
Knowing the fire and passion that burns within him is the same within me, I felt for him. We both have so much left to accomplish in this business. We always talked about who would be the first to achieve our ultimate dream--becoming the World Heavyweight Champion. And now the fact exists that Greg might not ever be able to wrestle again and fulfill that dream. Hell, that killed me.
I decided to call him last week and wish him well and let him know I was praying for him. I was worried it might be awkward, considering how rocky our relationship has been over the last few years. Just so all of you know, Greg's surgery went well and he's in good spirits. I'm so glad we had that conversation that day, it changed the entire complexion of our relationship. They say everything in this business comes full circle, and I believe that.
"Shane" Gregory Helms said something to me during that conversation that I'll never forget. I asked him if I could do anything for him during his time of need. Greg responded, "Win the big one for me." I emotionally responded, "I'll do my damnedest just for you, but only if you come back to wrestle me for it."
And I can't wait for that day.