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Off-Topic: Quick Comments On An Obituary Today

04/11/2011

Some people probably still think the life of a wrestler is quite the glitz & glamour, but it always isn’t. For every Hiroshi Tanahashi or Keiji Muto there are 10 times as many (if not more) guys wanting to make a career out of it or just struggling to get by, or dealing with even worse. Although this isn’t puro-related I just learned that veteran American wrestler/manager Larry Sweeney, best known as a heel manager in several top US indy promotions, is dead. Suicide. He reportedly hung himself at a wrestling school in Louisiana. His death illustrates an ongoing terrible problem throughout wrestlling-drugs and depression, which ultimately did him in.
Born Alex Whybrow, he began training in 2003 with Chris Hero & Mike Quackenbush among others before debuting in 2004. His prime came starting in 2007 when he acted as a wrestler and also a heel manager for Hero and ultimately formed a stable in Ring Of Honor called Sweet & Sour Inc., while also occasionally doing some commentary for CHIKARA (many CHIKARA wrestlers also ake turns calling matches). He was regularly compared to a young Bobby Heenan during that period, and in both 2007 and 2008 was voted Best Non-Wrestling Peformer in the entire industry in the Wrestling Observer poll and placed highly both years for Best of Interviews. But soon after drug issues and depression followed, ending his ROH run in April 2009. He did make some appaearances under a mask in CHIKARA in 2010. But he never could get away from depression and it only got worse over the years, especially after he moved away from the spotlight. And either last night or this morning came the tragic ending as he took his own life.
I personally was not a Sweeney fan (I hated him when I was an ROH fan) but there’s no doubting his talent and especially his charisma in the ring, but his mic skills and commenting abilities were very good as well as he demonstrated in CHIKARA. Sometimes his heel skills reminded me of the heel Jeff Jarrett has been at times during his runs in WWE and in the earlier days of TNA. But it’s also a stark reminder that these guys who are on the road a lot do take a lot of physical abuse to entertain us and drug use-especially painkillers-is all too common and often becomes dependent or abusive, as can the stress of being on the road for long periods of time. We don’t see much of this in puroresu as except for Osaka Pro, the promotions generally take a couple weeks off between tours instead of only a couple days off after TV shows then turning around and doing weekend-long runs and no breaks leading up to TV. And even Osaka Pro takes a day off every week.
My deepest condolences go to the family and friends of Larry Sweeney, who left the fraternity way too soon-I was shocked to read that he was only 29. RIP and God Bless, our departed brother.