The Death of Friendships

I really enjoy sharing some of my stories of experiences I’ve had over the years in professional wrestling. I think that many of them are quite entertaining and hope that those interested can get a good laugh. Unfortunately, every story doesn’t always have a fairy tale happy ending. This will be the case with the next two experiences I plan to share in this weblog. This story as well as the next will be of a far more personal nature and dig a little deeper into my personality. I really have nothing to hide and don’t mind sharing these pieces of me because I’m sure those that may read this can identify with these experiences whether they are in the business or not. The focus of this story is about the death of friendship.

Before anyone reading misunderstands the context, no one has literally died but rather the friendships I had with these individuals is now non-existent. Arguments could be made that the professional wrestling business has played a role in the demise of these friendships but this is more just the harsh reality of life. Depending on your personal desires, ambitions, strengths, or weakness, things can dramatically or gradually change in your life that can adversely affect relationships with those you call friend. I am by no means taking the moral high ground in any of these situations and will try my best to be completely objective about each of these situations.

I’d like to interject just a touch more clarity into the psyche of Tom Carter before we go a little further. I am and always have been introverted by nature. While some of you have witnessed the extremely extraverted antics of my Reckless Youth character, nothing could be further from the truth of my true personality. In many cases, after the short periods of public display of that character, I would spend a great deal of time to myself to offset the uncharacteristic behavior. I would find myself doing very much the same before an event as well and this behavior seemed to confuse many people in or around the business. It was very much thought that my in-ring personality was an extension of my true self or my actual personality and nothing could be further from the truth.

Because of the nature of an introverted person, it was common to only maintain a small close network of friends. An investment is made in these individuals that you would feel would be lasting relationships that would transcend an event or specific periods in your life. I would consider many people acquaintances and hold a select few close to my heart. This might not sound like the reinvention of the wheel to most but those with extraverted or far less introverted personalities can make friends and or associate with people generally much easier than an introverted person. Couple this with playing a character far different from your true personality my subconscious self would counter balance by reacting even more introverted in every situation but an actual performance itself. Now that I’ve completely bored you to tears explaining details of my idiosyncrasies, I’ll delve more into the thick of it.

My oldest friend, Accie Conner, has been more affectionately known in the wrestling business as D-Lo Brown. Some may be surprised to know that he did not grew up on the mean streets of Chicago but rather the far less controversial streets of a little town in New Jersey called Burlington. I’m not sure what he is or isn’t admitting to these days since we no longer talk but much of the persona he projected in the D-Lo character was nothing more than a guise. Much of my character was as well but those that questioned me I would openly admit to that fact. Accie and I went to high school together and were first acquainted on the school wrestling team. We both shared a love for wrestling to the point that we would stage events during wrestling practice, start impromptu matches during gym, incorporate interactive interview sessions during speech classes, and hold public displays after school on public property for anyone to watch. I can fondly remember one time where he and I began wrestling in his neighborhood on his front lawn. After a short period of time, cars passing by stopped in the streets and neighborhood kids passing by all gathered to the point where we had quite a few people cheering each of us on until the end. This actually became a regular event in his neighborhood that was appropriately dubbed lawn wars. I actually have a smile on my face thinking about it now. This continued on and off even into our somewhat turbulent college years. I can remember holding indoor events at my house while family was away and lining the living room with mattresses. We gathered a few other interested people and it would typically end with neighbors calling the police and or furniture being broken. You can do the math on the type of destruction when you have a bunch of wired kids using reclining chairs as the turnbuckle and bouncing off the walls as if they were ring ropes. Again, I have an ear to ear grin.

Through a set of circumstances, Accie and I ended up at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory. All during this time, our friendship grew outside of the business while we began to develop success inside of the business. Contrary to what you might think, Accie’s World Wrestling Federation success was not the downfall of or friendship. Actually, we remained quite close all during that time and he championed me to the point that I was eventually signed much due to his diligence. Our downfall was due to relationships formed outside of the wrestling business and lack of communication at a critical time in our friendship. The death of our friendship was on September 11, 2001. Circumstances surrounding this day eventually drove a wedge between us to the point that I did not attend his wedding a few short days after that historic event. It was a culmination of events that led to that point but we would not speak until many years later which was the ultimate demise of the friendship. It pains me to think about it to this day but I’m sure he felt and still possibly feels just as betrayed as I did. We spoke on probably two occasions for a short period of time in the recent past but it has been abandoned by both of us considering how drastically our lives have changed in all this time when we did not talk.

If any of you have read many of my stories or been around me at events, you would know that I was very close with a wrestler by the name of Don Montoya. I struggled to refer to him as his character name over the years because he and I began so close outside of the business. It was common for me to refer to him as his real name Tom Alvarez. Most of the time people in the business would think it a joke when we both introduced ourselves as Tom. He and I became friends during the time that I was training at Larry Sharpe’s Monster Factory. I had been there on and off over the years and his class was at a point where there was no trainer. I had no respect for him or his friends that all seemed to join at the same time. This was a point where independent wrestling focus seemed to begin to shift from workers to ticket sellers. He and his friends had little or no training and would get prime spots on Monster Factory shows because of the amount of tickets they sold. I had a lot of resentment towards them because I had more of old school thinking with paying dues and earning spots. Because of money and booking arguments I had with Larry Sharpe, I was not allowed to wrestle at shows and often would be relegated to trivial duties at shows if I was at them at all.

Tommy began to distance himself from this pack of misfits and take the business more seriously after a few months. He would ask me quite a few questions about how I did certain moves outside of the normal course of what little training there was and I would refuse to answer him. He would ask me how I did the Texas Cloverleaf and I would tell him to learn how to do a hip toss or an abdominal stretch first. It wasn’t till he later would come back showing me that he self taught himself much as I did that he began to earn my respect. He and I seemed to share the more old school aspect of the business as far as getting your name out at your own expense. Over the next few years, he and I would regularly travel all over the eastern half of the United States for chances to wrestle for little or no money. It was not uncommon for us to get a $15 dollar payday in Ohio after a 12 hour car ride at our expense and we sucked it up. We bounded on these long trips working in Detroit on one night and Boston on the other. All this time we were financing our trips from money we made at our regular weekly clerical jobs.

As time went on, our friendship transcended into our personal lives sharing holiday or special family events with each others families. I had joked that over the years he had become more of a family friend than my friend alone as the years went on. This all changed drastically with an odd set of circumstances where he completely cut off communication with me and members of my family that deeply hurt everyone involved. The death of this friendship was one Christmas morning in the not too distant past. It was not until some time later that individuals in my family tried to pull him back into the fold. For obvious reasons, it was no longer a comfortable or trusting relationship for anyone involved. Because of these reasons, it fell apart again recently and the wounds of the past were reopened. I think it’s safe to say that there will no longer be attempted reunions. I would say that this relationship fell apart due to immaturity and a self-defeating personality on his part but I’m sure I had some part in what may have precipitated his reactions. Despite all of this, I laugh to myself and write quite a bit about all the jokes we played on each other and others around us during our wrestling experiences. It still makes me smile to this day regardless of everything that has become of our friendship.

I have one other friendship with a guy named Dave Keller that gradually ended more so because of changes in my life than anything he did. Accie, Dave, and I were intertwined in our early years backyard wrestling that eventually migrated to professional wrestling. Many of you would have never heard of Dave’s name because he stopped wrestling within the first year of his wrestling career. He was older than Accie and I with a family that he needed to provide for. Accie and I had the ability to sacrifice time and money to make our way in the business and Dave didn’t have that same luxury. As he pulled away from the business, our common bond with the wrestling business was shattered eventually leading to the death of that friendship. Dave was a key friendship in my life at a point that I was slow low that I considered killing myself. You read that right and this was a period probably 3 years before I even began training. I can remember Dave trying to recruit me for a weekend of backyard wrestling one time and I was very depressed in general over a long time girlfriend leaving me. He told me that no matter how down on myself I felt that I should always take comfort in knowing that I had a really good dropkick. Again, you read that right. He went onto explain with passion how difficult it is to have such a good dropkick and to never forget that whenever I allow myself to feel lower than what I truly am. As silly as those words may sound, it kept me alive and I still utter them to this day whenever I feel down on myself for any reason. It makes me chuckle to myself and realize that I can get through however difficult anything may be. I truly miss that he and I can no longer connect due to the fact that time pulled us apart.

I write all of this just as incite into my experiences that I’m sure many of you can identify with. At this point, those close friendships are gone and much of my focus has been on my family and career outside of wrestling. I have been fortunate to have met wonderful people in the business over the years but the three mentioned above were intertwined more in my personal life that transcended the business which hit a lot closer to my heart when they failed. May be you can get nothing from this story but entertainment and maybe that’s all there is from it.