Those we love never really die…they just go to sleep in our hearts.
The last time I wrote a column it was to reflect on the tragic passing of Mr. Brodie Lee, a moment in time that is still very difficult to forget. It’s incredible what we choose to remember, or rather, what we find impossible to ignore. Sometimes words, like memories, follow us forever.
Pro-wrestling is big, dumb, and silly fun. It is an art form that lives on the brink of farce and reality, and at its most popular, gave us characters that inspired us to fight for what we thought was right…even if what we thought was right is telling our boss to go f**k themselves. I’m certainly not breaking any new ground when I argue with those who are unfamiliar with the rasslin business, explaining to them that while it is pre-determined (and if you’re WWE literally scripted), FAKE implies that there is no layer of reality under the surface…and that as you know…is a lie. For decades there have been infinite examples of something real, whether it’s caught on camera or not, that has happened in this industry, and sometimes that thing is so embedded into our system that like words, it becomes impossible to ignore.
42 days ago Frankie Kazarian cut a promo on AEW Dynamite…and for 42 it has become impossible for me to ignore. Please allow me to explain.
On May 13th SCU teamed up for the last time in a losing effort against the Young Bucks, a match that saw Kazarian’s long-time partner, the great Christopher Daniels, covered in blood as he took the final pin. The duo had promised for months that the next time they faced defeat they would split apart forever, and for months they built up a winning streak(mainly on Dark) on the road to a tag team title shot. Minutes after the Bucks ended the dream and drove a dagger into their heart Kazarian and Daniels embraced in the center of the ring, with the few fans in attendance celebrating a journey that joyfully lasted 10+ years.
Cut to one-week later, Wednesday May 20th (42 days), live on TNT. Backstage Alex Marvez wanted to get SCU’s thoughts on the loss a week prior, and what this would mean for each man’s career going forward. Daniels chose not to answer, instead shaking Kazarian’s hand and whispering some words of encouragement before walking off into the sunset towards an unknown future. The scene resembled the final somber moment of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation as the whisper was not meant for the audience to hear. Like the lead characters in that film the relationship between Kazarian and Daniels will remain forever strong, but now they must follow their own path, the one they can only travel alone. Kazarian acknowledges this, telling Marvez that Daniels has earned the right to walk away, possibly forever, from the sport he continues to shed his blood for even at 51 years of age, but the sadness of being separated from his partner is easy to understand.
“Last week I lost so much more than just a wrestling match. I lost a part of myself…something very special was taken from me.” These are the early verses of Kazarian’s passionate rant, calling out each member of the company’s top faction (The Bucks, Good Brothers, Kenny Omega), and issuing threats that he refers to as a gospel.
“I am going to hunt down every member of the Elite. You are going to learn about loss, you are going to learn what it feels like to get your heart ripped out of your chest. I will have my recompense or I will die trying. Right now what you are looking at is a bomb that you can’t defuse and a gun that you can’t unload.”
Taking this at face value is seemingly enough. We know what Kazarian wants to do and most importantly, why he’s going to do it. Blaming the Elite for breaking him away from his dearest friend in the business is simple, easy storytelling, and has made for weeks of good television. But one aspect of working for a pro-wrestling site is that I read and am aware of all of the ongoings in the pro-wrestling world, and while the words Kazarian spoke worked in the context of this angle, the tragic reality is that something much deeper lived inside, a revelation that leaves an open wound.
Three days earlier (May 17th) Kazarian revealed this his father, also a Frank, had passed away. He wrote the following on Twitter:
“The older we get the more we have to leave behind. That’s life. I’ve lost so much this week. Today, this afternoon, my dad Frank, passed away. The immense pain, sadness, emptiness, and despair I feel is overwhelming.” He would end his passage with, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad, and they don’t come anymore special than mine. I love you dad.” See his full statement below.
If you’ve ever watched and enjoyed any match of mine, please read. This is immensely important to me. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/GVlhG9lraB
— Frankie Kazarian (@FrankieKazarian) May 18, 2021
As I was the one who posted the event on the day it happened, I was fully aware going into that May 20th episode of Dynamite that Kazarian was coming off quite possibly the worst moment of his existence. A man who is broken and alone, terrified and angry. As he began speaking to Marvez the look in his eyes was captivating, full of “emptiness and despair,” yet combined with fire and pain. They resonated to a degree that is hard to fully describe. And The tone of his voice? Tired, but focused. To say he surpassed a basic wrestling promo would be a severe understatement. Read his words again, this time with context.
“Last week I lost SO MUCH MORE than just a wrestling match. I lost a PART of myself…something very special was TAKEN from me. You are going to learn about LOSS, you are going to learn what it feels like to get YOUR HEART RIPPED out of your chest.”
I’ve always found Kazarian to be an exceptional performer. Tremendous in-ring ability, with a passionate charm that is fitting for a man with as great of a name as Frankie. However this was the moment that he, the Elite Hunter, became my favorite character in the promotion. There is nothing fake about this. This is the gateway to a connection that we all share, a path we must all face. The light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we see the light, and sometimes we are the light.
I always tell non-fans that when wrestling is bad it’s bad for all the reasons they think it is bad. Its silliness or lack of originality can at times be deflating, and because there is so much product across the world disappointment is bound to be felt at some point every calendar year. But sometimes…
Sometimes wrestling rises above the basic, above the ordinary, above the repetitive. Sometimes the tears we shed in the arena or from our couch in our Chicago home comes not from a place of enjoyment, but one of understanding. Sometimes something real, whether it is caught on camera or not, happens, and it becomes just too impossible to ignore.
42 days ago Frankie Kazarian cut a promo on AEW Dynamite, and for 42 days I haven’t been able to ignore it.