Finally, I want to send out a shout out to my close friend Chris Candido. Get well soon, I know you will be able to bounce back from this temporary set back.
I ended my first column with Inside Pulse with those wishes, and I never in my wildest imagination (and I do have a pretty big one) did I ever expect my life to be turned outside down to where I’m writing a column to honor Chris because of his unexpected passing.
I met Chris and Tammy in a pretty unique way, I became a fan when they first started the then World Wrestling Federation. I didn’t get Smokey Mountain Wrestling footage until after the fact, and I grew up watching wrestling ever since I can hold memories with my family. At 15 or 16 years old, I decided to start a online fan club for Tammy, called Tammy’s Team, but made it unique was I made it where not everyone was automatically accepted like a wrestling email list. I had to be told why they were fans of Chris and Tammy. There was no cost but I wanted the most loyal, true and passionate fans to be in the club, when I mailed out newsletters on the latest happenings and set up a web page. I decided to write a long letter to Tammy and Chris and forwarded it to address I was given where I knew they would read it. Nothing had to come from it, but they sent back two autographed color promos with thanks, their love and blessing and asked me to start Candido’s Crew, and Chris’ first autograph to me which you can see in my online profile with Inside Pulse, thanking me for my comments. I gave my good friend, Brett Schwan, who had been running the Bodydonna Brigade for Chris and Tammy before I came along, the name to use because I didn’t think it’d be fair for me to do both – so we became brother and sister clubs of each other. So I started as a fan and over the years, Chris, Tammy and I became closer as we kept contact. I would write letters, then we kept in touch via phone, they would do a online shout out to the Team and I through the WWF online crew whom I had a good relationship with at the time, such as Bill Banks, and then they became part of the online community finally and kept in touch that way.
Chris and I would always talk about anything and everything. As I said in a online letter to CC, for some reason, he called me Bammer. Maybe he liked the sound of it, I hated the sound of Bambi because of how official it was, so I have always went by Bam with people I considered friends. I accepted his nickname and no matter where I am in my life, I can always hear Chris going ‘hi Bammer, what’s up?’ on the phone with me. We would discuss his matches, the latest storylines, the behind the scenes and of course Tammy and everyday life. Chris has one of the quickest wits and minds I have ever known. When Tammy and Chris first got online, they called me to help them get set up. Chris understanding my sense of humor, took my invitation to go into a wrestling chat with him on AOL and just participate and read. People never believed it was him, and my philosophy about wrestling talent taking the time to mingle with fans, for whatever reason, people can believe what they want. We would have good times as Chris would produce zingers in his at the time, trademark ALL CAPITAL LETTERS WAY OF COMMUNICATING ONLINE. It wasn’t “shouting” because he had no idea, it was Chris’ way of talking online. He introduced me to a friend who just happens to be employed within one of the big companies, whose identify I wish to protect, that I’ve become close friends with over the years, so that was also a blessing in my life too. He introduced me to her as his friend he met in Los Angeles. I didn’t make the connection until a little bit later, which embarrassed me a bit but it goes to show you that no one cared about the fame aspect, this was just Chris’ friend and I was only too happy to meet one of Chris’ friends. We did some discussion of Chris recently, and our online chats where no one bought that they really got the real deal. Lots of laughing back in those days, between the three of us. My philosophy with Chris is this and always remains, anyone who Chris considered a friend or family I will consider a friend too.
Chris as a career has been nothing short of amazing, every up and down of it. I think you have to go through the bad to really experience and treasure the good. He’s wrestled for every major company there is to wrestle for, has held numerous titles for numerous promotions over the years, being cemented in history with other greats. What sticks in my mind about Chris is he truly needed no gimmick, in life or in wrestling. He basically had the same ‘character’ over the years, with the exception of the WWF work as Skip, has basically been a extension of himself. I think of his fast talking Jersey accent, performing on the stick or in a promo. My favorite promos were the ones he did his famous impersonations over the years – the two that stick in my mind were in ECW: whenever he folded his arms up and stuck out his chest like Taz and pointing up the air to imitate Sabu with that Chris look on his face. That look of ‘what did I do?’ and innocence combined. One of the promos I think about was also in ECW, where he explained his Triple Threat tattoo. When I had bad days growing up, I would play Chris promos and they made me laugh and made me feel better. Chris had a gift for comic timing, in his matches and with his promos. His gift in the ring went without saying — he could do it all. He could technical wrestle with the best of them, as well as hit a Blonde Bombshell, a top rope powerbomb as well as hit a top rope leg drop and do his trademarked standing and holding suplex for a 10+ silent count. Anyone who wants to get in the business needs to study Chris’ tapes. Chris always tried to study his tapes and better himself, he constantly was seeking reviews of his recent work – he wanted to know how you were reacting. As a lot of fans, my favorite period of his career was in SMW and ECW. Chris Candido was ECW as much as anyone would be – he would never take the credit he truly deserves for all his contributions, both inside and outside the ring.
When I first brought Candido Online online, and got the word around to friends within the wrestling Net community to put out the word that we were back online, I excitedly told Chris that we got 300,something hits since it came back in December. His words were, “wow – holy shit Bammer.” That’s exactly how Chris would feel about the amazing outpouring from workers, family, friends and fans throughout the world. Chris never knew how loved he really was, I know I can’t remember anything like this since Owen Hart’s passing. That hit me hard, as it did Chris and Tammy, but this has leveled me because I lost my extended brother I never had too soon. I want everyone to know that Chris was genuinely thankful for all the good in his life, his family, friends and the ability to work. I have never remembered Chris happier in recent memory – he loved working for TNA, he loved being the positive role model backstage, he loved that people cared about his opinions backstage. He felt appreciated, he was happy to be involved with TNA whenever we talked about it.
In a business where people don’t always mean what they say, Chris Candito is a man of honor. He and Tammy respectfully took this writer/fan from North Carolina, and made me apart of their family as much as they are apart of mine. My father stood stunned in silence as I was hysterical at 7:30 am when I opened my mailbox to a ‘I’m so sorry’ emails from my friends Tim and Mike, to not reading the email clearly because I was half awake to reading the headlines and then going to the TNA web site to find out that it was true. Family is everything when your family isn’t always close, it’s not something to be taken for granted. There isn’t a day when I don’t think about the man I consider my big brother. I thought we’d have more time. I just heard from him last week when I asked about May 21st and the three scheduled appearances he had to make that day – I wanted to make sure there wasn’t any errors, that he wasn’t being improperly booked on the Net. He took the time to say hi, explain that he was going to make all appearances, thank me for asking and that he loved me. Tammy and I were in close contact about his ankle surgery, we all expected this to go just fine and he be back in the ring and we all knew he would miss zero dates and the bookers were more than willing to work around the injury. I can’t explain or understand why this all happened the way it did. I will never understand why he was called away. All I know is I miss him already, I missed him the moment I found out, that I wanted to be selfish, and keep him here for everyone that loved him. I find myself talking to him and God now as I try to fall asleep at night, which isn’t a easy task when it never was to begin with and I have yet to be able to remember dreams like I used to. Chris brought in my life himself which in itself was a great joy – a man who I hope I’m similar to in his great attitude, love, and joy for living; and my soul mate best friend and sister in Tammy; he brought many friends I made through the work I’ve done and will continue to do over the years through the web site and the Team, he brought entertainment to the entire world when he came down to the ring, strutting and raising his arms to Back in Black with the Triple Threat sign high in the air. Chris did one thing often in his match, after a good spot in the match he would do a ‘that’s it, it’s done’ wiping of the hands and go for the pin. He never got the victory usually after doing that sign, it was this smart psychology that he implemented that I associate with CC alone to get a reaction. Chris, your work is done here – and your work continues where we can’t see it. I’m sure you are somewhere entertaining the boys and pulling some great ribs. Can’t wait to hear about it. I know you will watch after Tammy, your family, myself and all your friends. We love you, and I promise to keep your work available for fans to remember for as much as I can control. Thank you for making me apart of your life, my book on the NWA will be dedicated to you and you will always remain close to my heart.