You never forget your first time. For me, my first time as a wrestling manager came with the thwack of a steel folding chair to the back of my leg, a blow that shot pain down the length of my leg but caused me no real damage. At the time, nobody could have convinced me that the chair-shot was innocent enough and was such a mild sting compared to what professional wrestlers go through every time they step in the ring. I guess that’s why I’m not cut out to be a wrestler. In any event, I didn’t have any time to think about it anyway, as my charge – and VH1 reality star – Matt Riviera tripped over my hunched-over frame and was pinned by legendary tag team Demolition.
My first time was with former WWE Diva Stacy “The Kat” Carter … the person on the other side of that steel folding chair.
Since the time of my not-so-suave managerial debut, Stacy Carter has become one of my nearest and dearest friends in this wacky world of wrestling. I’ve seen her rise from the ashes of a career tattered and torn by her ex-husband Jerry Lawler to make a name for herself once again in the wrestling world. She has become a regular presence at conventions and on the independent scene. I’ve seen her find true love and happiness when she married another friend, Sinn Bodhi (Nick Cvjetkovich, WWE’s Kizarny) as the two carved out a truly unique life together and moved out west from their respective homes in Florida. And I’ve witnessed the sadness and the horror of the couple losing their close friend Shawn “Bad Seed” Osbourne (Shawn McGrath) and almost losing another in Shane Helms.
Last Saturday, I had the chance to catch up with Stacy once again at the Legends of the Ring convention in Monroe, New Jersey, and to carpool with her to a booking later that night about 100 miles south in Newark, Delaware, for the East Coast Wrestling Association.
Despite threats of physical violence against me by both Stacy and associates such as Vito and Angelina Love for kiddingly referring to her as “Stacy Keibler,” there were no stiff chairs to my leg on this day. I like to think that we’re past that now. In the time we’ve gotten to know each other and learn to read one another’s quirky personalities, I like to think that she’s gotten over my close association with the “Wreckage and Romance” team – Riviera and Jeff Jett – who terrorized her in 2010 and whom I seconded against her and Demolition. After all, it’s all in the past.
Hanging out with Stacy last week at the convention and on the long ride down to Delaware, I learned even more about her as a performer and as a person. I listened as she poured out her heart with stories about herself, Nick, their passions, and the beliefs and morals that have guided and molded them into the people they are today. She has made peace with Lawler once again, and considers him among her closest friends after their messy 2001 separation. In spite of the high degree of fame and success she achieved more than 10 years ago, Stacy is content to be at the place she is at in her career and in her life. She does not miss the daily grind of hitting the road, nor does she pine for the abuse that wrestling five times a week puts on one’s body.
Stacy and her husband Nick are two of the most genuine, free-spirited people you can ever meet in the wrestling business. Whether you are talking about late-night, into-the-morning phone conversations with a best friend pondering retirement (we’ll call him Adam), losing another close friend such as McGrath, speaking out in constant advocacy of a wrestler’s rights – and a promotion’s duties – when it comes to issues of dependency, or even just rescuing some animals until they can be adopted, you are not going to have an easy time finding anyone more good-hearted and well intentioned.
She has grown up physically, mentally, and emotionally. She is at peace with the level of success she has experienced.
For whatever reason, people tend to come into and out of our lives at a blistering rate sometimes. You might see a person every day for weeks at a time, then go years without being close enough to really get to interact with them. I wish I could personally say I have had the opportunity to be in Nick and Stacy’s presence every day. Unfortunately, a great deal of distance separates me from one of wrestling’s greatest couples.
Maybe that’s for the best, though. I have retribution planned in the form of a steel folding chair.