The bartender could tell something was wrong. “You doing OK, man?”
I just kept shaking my head and staring at the ground in disbelief. Finally I said “Man, this started out as such a perfect night…” but it was barely loud enough for him to hear.
“What’s the matter dude? You’re in New Orleans…laissez le bon temps rouler!” I wanted to have fun, I wanted to “let the good times roll”, but instead I felt like I just got “coups de pied dans les noix.” (Translation – if you’re a guy that hurts.)
Seriously, it should have been a perfect night. I was strolling around Bourbon Street drinking a cold beer, the weather was beautiful and life was good. No problems at home, the job was fine, and Beth was the WWE Women’s Champion (I have always contended we are co-holders of the title, but that’s just a technicality). Then I thought I’d jump into a local bar, grab a refill, and check the Diva Dirt SmackDown spoilers. Just wanted to make sure my girl was still the champ after the Tuesday night tapings. Then I read the news… a 2-on-1 title match, Vickie’s back, a confusing ending, Michelle or Layla wearing the belt… what?!?! All I knew was that Beth wasn’t the champion anymore and I felt like my heart would explode from my chest. Not so much because she lost the title…but because I knew what this really meant – something was seriously wrong with her knee. “OH MERDE!” (Translation – very, very not good!)
The bartender said, “Hey, umm, can I get you a beer?”
I put my head in my hands and said, “Nah, I’ll take a Johnny Daniels over ice.”
“You mean Jack Daniels, right?”
I looked at him and mumbled, “He may be Jack to you, but when you’ve known him as long as I have…”
The bartender poured the drink and said, “Wow, you must really be upset about something.”
“You don’t understand, man, it wasn’t supposed to go down like this…I didn’t even get to write my Extreme Rules column yet.” Being that we were in New Orleans, lord knows what the bartender thought that meant. But I thought I had a few weeks you know? I wanted to be able to let the moment sink in and then write a coherent, entertaining column about one of the most exciting nights of my life. Now, the moment had passed, Beth had a severe knee injury, and Baltimore, MD seemed like a 100 years ago. The bartender said, “OK, then this one is on the house, you look pretty bummed out. Decu dans le Big Easy.” (Translation – I’m the only loser in New Orleans not having fun.) I looked back down at the floor and just kept thinking, “Did I jinx her? In some cosmic supernatural way did writing that stupid column about Melina’s injury cause Beth to blow out her knee?!” I don’t know.
I felt my eyes fill with tears. I took a few sips of my drink and then I got up and stammered out into the street, barely able to get my bearings. The rest of the night was a blur. Nothing made sense, and it still doesn’t several days later. All I know for sure is the Glamazon is going to be off TV for a long time, the championship belt is gone, and I feel disoriented and nauseous (which is typical after spending 3 days in NO, but this time it had nothing to do with drinking hurricanes.) By the way, I think Bourbon Street is WAY over-rated. All you see are bars, strip clubs, and cheesy gift shops and after awhile it is kind of depressing. Plus the whole area smells like Mike Knox’s gym bag. Of course, I am scheduled to go there for a bachelor party later this year. And if you think I am missing that, well, you don’t know me very well. “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” (Translation – I’ll need a new liver.)
This week’s column was supposed to be about Beth’s championship victory last month. I even started writing it. Here was my opening:
I feel like Tom Cruise right now. Sure, I’ll never fly a jet fighter or drive a race car or flip bottles in Jamaica…but because of the new WWE Women’s Champion I DO feel like Tom Cruise, because Beth – “you…complete…me!” She makes me so happy I wish I could jump up and down on Oprah’s couch. I might even dance around in my underwear. Cue Jerry Lee Lewis! “Just take those old records off the shelf!” I wish I could tell her this while wearing Ray-Bans. “Beth, you complete me.” Fist over heart. (And if you’ve never seen “Jerry McGwire”, please stop reading now…we can’t really be friends.)
Whew. Insert foot into groin. Now I feel like Rocky Balboa in the first Clubber Lang fight. What a ride the past 3 weeks have been. I guess that is what makes professional wrestling so much fun to follow…the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows. This is not life or death. I understand that. But this just feels a little….heavy. Did you see the look on Beth’s face when she won the title? She looked genuinely happy and appeared to have tears in her eyes. I feel so badly for her especially now after news broke that she has a torn ACL and will undergo surgery this coming week. Did you read in Beth’s WWE blog how she heard a “crunch” when she injured her knee? I’m telling you, she’ll always hear that sound. Yuck! Similar to Melina she will eventually recover and be back in the ring one day. But the timing could not be worse considering the care and feeding given to her character these past few months. I mean, the Glamazon was actually…over…with the crowd. “Très cool!” (Translation – yeah baby!) And kudos to Beth for her performance this past week – valiantly defending the title and pulling off a double Samoan Drop with both members of LayCool on her shoulders. Epic!
By the way, I’d like to thank Google Translate for helping me speak French this week. I tried to get a hold of Gail Kim but she didn’t return my tweets. “C’est la vie!” (Translation – you win some, you lose some. Or for Rosa…you lose some, you lose some. PS – I know it is not Rosa’s fault Beth got hurt, but I might hold her guilty by association. I need someone to blame other than myself.) I should mention that I have zero aptitude for foreign languages. I could probably learn to build nuclear reactors quicker than I could learn the Spanish alphabet. I still remember getting caught cheating on a grade school French test because I couldn’t memorize 10 vocab words. (I actually wrote the words on the desk…brilliant huh!? Apparently the other choice was just sitting next to the teacher and copying the answers.) I ended up taking 2 years of Latin in college and I needed all the…ummm…help…I could get to make it through those classes. I don’t feel too badly though. It’s not like I’m a doctor and I need to know the roots of every word in the English language. Plus I’m not a big fan of liberal arts colleges requiring me to take 2 years of a language yet having no math requirement (my major). So bite me Gettysburg College, and stop calling for donations. “E pluribus unum!” (Translation – who knows and who cares. Nobody understands Latin.)
So where was I going with that whole “You complete me” nonsense? See, I firmly believe in the “Rule of Five”. When you are counting down a list you always give your “Top 5”. Such as, “These are my Top 5 favorite movies.” Nobody tells you their Top 8 movies of all time. It somehow makes sense to count to 5, or a multiple of 5, such as your Top 10 favorite songs. Sounds right, feels right. Just ask our own Cryssi, she is always talking about her Top 5 favorite WWE stars (and by favorite, she means “hottest”. On second thought, forget about that, she squeezes 20 guys into that list…sorry).
I have been searching and searching, looking for THE one to complete my Top 5 Favorite Athletes of all time. I have always had 4, and as a huge sports fan this has been bugging me for years. I can easily name my Top 5 movies of all time (Bugsy, Star Wars, Fletch, Grease, and A Few Good Men), my Top 5 TV shows of all time (Dallas, Seinfeld, Golden Girls, Wings, and LA Law), my Top 5 singers of all time (The Bangles, Madonna, Cher, Debbie Gibson, and Shania Twain – I like chicks with guitars, so sue me). Anyway, you get the idea. But for the longest time I have had just four favorite athletes (Troy Aikman, Larry Bird, Fred Lynn, and Monica Seles). I could never find number 5. My “Rule of Five” was not complete and it stayed like this for years. By the late 90’s all of my favorites had retired and I’ve missed feeling connected to an athlete. I missed that excitement of seeing them on TV or buying a ticket to their games. I started to think I would never feel strongly about an athlete again. 10+ years is a long time. (Yes I know Seles didn’t officially retire until 2008 but after getting stabbed in 1993 she was never the same. To this day I can’t believe my favorite female athlete of all time got stabbed during a professional tennis match while she was #1 in the world. “Vous avez obtenu d’être freakin te fous de moi!” (Translation – I mean, really?!?) I love Beth, but I LOVED Monica Seles.)
Here is a depressing side note – all my favorite athletes had their careers dramatically altered by injuries: Aikman (concussions), Lynn (back), Bird (back), and Seles (stabbing). And now Beth tears her ACL just weeks after winning the championship. To cheer myself up I might go stick my head in the microwave.
Because of today’s media access many athletes greatly disappoint their fans because we come to find they are fundamentally not good people. (Steelers fans are shaking their head in agreement.) Right or wrong we usually hold athletes to a higher standard, turning them into heroes. I understand this and normally just try to enjoy athletes for what they do on the field. But when the Glamorous Amazon entered my life I suddenly felt whole because I had my Top 5. I knew Beth was the missing piece. I can’t even really explain the excitement. Those of you who treasure an athlete know what I am saying.
Hero. That’s an interesting word. By definition it means “an object of extreme admiration and devotion. A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability. An illustrious warrior. A person admired for his or her achievements, noble qualities, and great courage.” So taking it literally, yeah, I would say that Beth Phoenix is definitely a hero of mine. I admire everything about her…her achievements, her qualities, and her courage. But more than anything I admire her kindness. I have been fortunate to meet Beth several times and every time she has been warm and friendly. Not just to me, but to everybody. She seems to be a beautiful person with a real appreciation for her responsibility as a WWE Diva. So…finally…I have another hero to love. One day when my daughter Morgan Phoenix asks about her middle name, I’ll tell her she is named after an illustrious warrior, someone who daddy admired for her great strength and ability (and rocking Glamasuits). I want my little girl to grow up to be just as fierce and fabulous.
We use the word “love” a lot in our culture. I know I don’t REALLY love Beth. Not the way I love my wife and kids. But…I DO kind of love her, you know? I think there are all different kinds of love in this world. I think that is healthy, to have heroes that you allow to impact your life. Extreme Rules 2010 was one of the most important nights of my life. April 25, 2010. Before that night I had never been in the stands to see a favorite team or favorite athlete win a championship. When Beth hit a beautiful Glam Slam on Michelle and pinned her for the victory, I felt pure and utter happiness (even though the match was a little goofy). I screamed out loud. I jumped around like a little kid. I hugged my buddy so hard he could barely breathe. It was my moment. Our moment. Beth won the women’s title and I was there to see it. I remember saying to my friend, “Whatever happens after this doesn’t matter because nobody can ever take this away from me. I know she’ll lose the title someday, but for now, Beth is the champion.” It was magnificent.
Three short weeks later the Divas landscape has changed dramatically. To me the most interesting thing will be where Smackdown goes from here. Maybe this is why Vickie “returned” to Smackdown after becoming the GM on RAW for 1 night (even Bob Barker was given more time to be RAW guest host…jeshh.) Putting the title on Layla this past week was an interesting twist and keeps her and Michelle McCool as the focus of the program. I’m OK with this because Smackdown needs to maintain some consistency until they figure this thing out. And I’m personally thrilled for Layla…I swear I might become Mr. LaylaEl soon if she keeps rocking those Flawless hoodies (I’m such a sucker I even like LayCool’s entrance, spins and all.) But what does this mean for Rosa? What does this mean for Tiffany? And especially, what does this mean for Kelly? I wrote a long column about Kelly and her importance to the Divas, I guess now we’ll see if she is ready to grab the ball and run with it.
Next time I see Beth I’ll ask her about her knee, about the surgery, and about the recovery. Sadly we’re part of the same fraternity now. In her WWE blog she seemed hopeful and determined to come back stronger and more powerful than ever. I feel better knowing she is in a positive frame of mind. Still, “ca craint!” (Translation – don’t look that up.)
PS – What movie is that John Daniels joke from?? That’s one of my favorite movie lines of all time. One of my Top 5 anyway.
PPS – If you want, follow me on Twitter: @dlb19338. I promise to be neither funny nor interesting. You have my word.