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News From Cook’s Corner 5.25.20: Memorial Day

Memorial Day almost feels too accurate, for this edition of Cook’s news…

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Memorial Day Weekend holds a great deal of importance across the United States in which I live. It holds a little extra importance to me, as my birth took place on a Sunday during Memorial Day Weekend. I must admit it’s always been a little weird getting birthday presents during a time when we’re supposed to be somber and remembering those who gave their lives for our country. Or are we supposed to be happy about that? I’ve never really been sure, and I think if I asked ten different people I would get ten different answers. It’s difficult to say anything other than “Memorial Day is a day where we are supposed to remember soldiers while not working”. Some make a big display of it, and some complain that others don’t make enough of a display of it. Me, I just wish that people wouldn’t use it for political purposes, but I know that they will, and it’s pretty gross.

While all this is going on, I have a birthday. There is a low-level celebration at this point, since the numbers are getting bigger and I’d prefer to forget my actual age. I actually did for about six months a couple of years ago. It was pretty great. As far as presents go, I don’t ask for much, because the things I need are way too expensive for me to ask other people to pay for. A house, fancy car, good therapy…all these things cost way too much. Until Tony Khan slides into my DMs, I won’t feel comfortable asking anybody for these things.

This past week has been one of the worst I can remember as a wrestling fan. It would have been bad enough if it was only one of my best friends passing away far too soon. We had two wrestlers beloved by many pass way before their time.

There was other news over the past week. An AEW pay per view event. WWE getting mad at Owen Hart’s widow for no real reason other than she’s right. None of it is worth mentioning when we have so much to unpack. This Memorial Day edition of News From Cook’s Corner serves as a memorial to two fallen wrestlers, and something I need to get off my chest about the way my friend’s death was reported by the wrestling journalist with the most influence and most time in the profession. I prefer to write about good times…there aren’t any to be had this week.

Hana Kimura was 22 years old.

She had a whole life in front of her. She had the potential to do great things. Hana had already established herself as one of joshi’s top young stars, and had the ability to branch out & go other places if she so desired. She recently expanded her horizons by appearing on Terrace House, a popular Japanese reality show. From what I can tell, everybody Kimura worked with in wrestling loved her.

Unfortunately, we’re finding out how beloved Hana Kimura was by her peers because she’s no longer with us. STARDOM announced she passed away on Saturday in Japan, coming hours after Hana had posted some self-harm images on social media (later deleted) and left a message that can only be described as a goodbye.

What happened?

Like many reality shows, Terrace House has a very dedicated fanbase with a percentage of folks that take things way too seriously. An episode aired recently where Hana grew upset with a fellow castmate that accidentally washed her ring gear that had already been washed once, then threw it in the dryer causing it to shrink. She didn’t react well, leading to a torrent of online hatred from a portion of Terrace House fans who were already inclined to hate Hana for other reasons they’d decided on based off her appearances on the show. None of which would be acceptable reasons for telling somebody they need to kill themselves…because there is no fucking acceptable reason to do that.

I will never be able to wrap my head around why people think it’s ok to do that. Even if we all had super thick skin and never let anything people said ever bother us because we’re manly men or alphas or whatever…why would you tell somebody to kill themselves? It doesn’t compute to me. Now, I’ve said some pretty mean things over the years, especially in my younger days. I’ll probably say some things in the future that aren’t very kind. There are certain lines I wouldn’t cross. That’s because I have a sense of empathy. Even if I don’t particularly care for somebody, there’s still a human being in there somewhere.

I’m also smart enough to know that if I don’t like somebody that’s on a TV show, IT’S A TV SHOW. TELEVISION. ENTERTAINMENT. Not only would you have to be a sick piece of shit to send such hateful messages to somebody, you’d have to be a dumb piece of shit to not realize that even if it’s a “reality show”, it’s a show that’s largely based off the whims of the producers and what they decide makes a “good story”. Though, from what I can tell, the people that disliked Hana mainly did so because she had “big shoulders” and didn’t have the look of a typical Japanese woman. So maybe there was nothing the producers could have done to stop that.

Wikipedia tells me the episode in question debuted on Netflix Japan on March 31, and production on the show stopped on April 13. One would assume that Hana had little else but to deal with this abuse during the lockdown. It’s sickening. It’s all of the things that’s wrong with society in 2020. When we’re happy to empower those that abuse & denigrate others, this is what we end up with. A large group of people that believe that the only way to bring themselves up is to bring others down. Or, they don’t mind being down and just want everybody else to be as miserable as they are. They even have a nice little keyboard they can hide behind.

Most people could not handle what Hana had to deal with every day, and I’m saying that just based off a few messages I saw. I’m sure there was much worse, and there was obviously a lot more of it. A lot of people will say that they could, and there are plenty of folks that seem completely unbothered by what other people think. Maybe they’re just untouchable alphas. You don’t know unless you’ve been in that person’s shoes.

I’d like to think that if anything comes from the unnecessary death of Hana Kimura, it’s that some of us are just a little nicer to each other. A little more empathy from all of us would be nice. I’m keeping my expectations low because I’ve noticed that some people refuse to ever learn anything.

Hana deserved better. I’m terribly sorry for the loss to her family and all the people around the world that loved her, but couldn’t drown out the terrible monsters that did her in.

Shad Gaspard died a hero.

I think most fathers would make the same choice Shad did, given the situation. He & his son were caught in a rip current. Once lifeguards arrived, Shad instructed them to save his son first. I’d assume they would have done so anyway, but then I’ve never been in a rip current or had to save anybody from one, and it’s been years since I watched Baywatch. Unfortunately, once Shad’s son was saved, Shad disappeared. He didn’t re-appear until a couple of days later on the shores of Venice Beach.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost ten years since Gaspard was part of WWE. Some have commented that they were surprised how much news his death made considering that Cryme Tyme was never really a major part of the show and weren’t one of WWE’s longest-tenured acts. They had an affiliation with John Cena for like two weeks, which was mentioned in a $40,000 donation to a GoFundMe for Shad’s family. All this tells me is that Cryme Tyme probably should have been featured more back in the day. They always seemed over to me. I wouldn’t put them in the same category as Morton & Gibson, but they were a popular tag team.

I remember when Cryme Tyme split up and everybody thought he was going to be the star that broke out. Instead, Shad got released, and JTG stayed on the payroll for years without actually doing anything. I don’t think anybody bet on that one. Gaspard did some indy bookings here and there, with some alongside JTG as “Crime Time” once WWE finally let him go.

Shad had other interests though. He did some acting, some modeling, wrote a graphic novel. He did motion capture work for multiple video games. Started a family, obviously. There was also the time where he detained a drunkard that was trying to rob a gas station. You hear nothing but good things about Shad Gaspard, and I can’t say I remember hearing anything bad about him while he was alive.

You feel bad for his family, and you hope his son can cope with the traumatic event.

I’m not the first person to have a bone to pick with Dave Meltzer on this website.

I’m certainly not the first person online. In fact, picking on Dave has become a bit of a cottage industry for some people. Conrad Thompson figured out years ago that he could have some pretty successful podcasts by reading old Wrestling Observers to old-timers. Bruce Prichard & Eric Bischoff were happy to use erroneous information to bump up whatever talking points they were selling, and fans were happy to pick on Dave.

I’ve always held back a little bit. For one thing, I’ve never claimed to be any kind of insider. I’m just a guy that spouts off on the Internet. Some of it might be true, some of it might be false, some of it might be unintelligible. Somebody that lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw stones, and there’s a reason why I’m afraid to change clothes too often.

Also, I have respect for Meltzer’s longevity. The guy has been writing about pro wrestling nonstop since before I was born. I’m not exactly young anymore, so that’s a lot of material produced over the years. Dave Meltzer has been sold to us for years as pro wrestling’s pre-eminent journalist, which most of us didn’t argue with because of the competition. We’ve got some young guns out there fighting over who’s next in line, but right now Dave’s still the head honcho of this game.

That being said, when you’re pro wrestling’s #1 journalist, the guy everybody looks to when the news breaks and things are happening, you’re held to a higher standard. That’s the way it has to be. Dave Meltzer has to be on his best at all times. He’s not a backwoods hillbilly with no connections like me, who can write any sort of rubbish because that’s what’s expected of me. People expect better from Dave F’n Meltzer.

So when I was informed that Dave wrote about Larry Csonka in the Observer, and informed of what he wrote, I was surprised to learn something I didn’t know about my buddy.

Honestly, while talking with some friends about it, I wasn’t sure if we should dispute it or not. “Motorcycle accident” kinda makes Larry sound like a badass, right? Especially if he’d already had part of his leg amputated. I might have missed Larry’s biker years, but I can tell you that he absolutely did not lose his leg due to a motorcycle accident. The truth isn’t as sexy.

Larry suffered an injury while moving a paving stone for some yard work. He patched things up, he went on doing what he usually did, which was review wrestling shows. Sometime during the next week it got infected. The pain became too much and he had to go to the hospital. Had to finish reviewing his second show of the day though, because he was Larry Csonka. (One of those was a freaking Wrestle Kingdom show too. I’m telling you, the guy wasn’t human.) They had to remove part of his leg. The second operation happened after he didn’t react well to the first one.

To be honest, I wasn’t 100% sure on Friday when I was informed of Dave’s bit. I remembered part of the story, but I went back to the podcast Larry did on his injury to make sure I had things right. Heck, I went back to another one that Dave also appeared on. In his defense, it’s not like I’ve listened to everybody on every podcast I’ve ever been on. But, I dunno, if I heard that Jerome Cusson was going to talk about how he lost an arm the other day, that might interest me. You don’t hear about that every day on a wrestling podcast, I don’t think.

It’s an amazing thing that I thought to go back to a podcast somebody did about their injury to properly write about it, yet the pre-eminent journalist in our field, who, by the way, has people writing on his website & appearing on podcasts there that knew Larry & knew other people that knew Larry, just went off what he thought happened. He could have left out what he thought happened, said Larry lost his leg previously, and we wouldn’t have thought anything of it.

Apparently somebody went in and fixed it for Dave, so at least there’s that. I guess.

I’m not even mad about it. I’m disappointed. We expect better from the man that who has done this longer than anybody, and has had more success than anybody at it. I am starting to understand why Bruce & Eric get so worked up about these things Conrad reads them. As much as I’ve heard both are full of it, I get their vitriol towards Dave. When you hear something about a friend that you know is 100% untrue, but you also know that a lot of people will believe it because it’s Dave F’n Meltzer, and you hear multiple things like that every week, I imagine it adds up.

Not to mention the fact that when you read one thing you know is untrue, it calls into question everything else Dave’s written over the years. That’s a lot of things to call into question, and makes me wonder if we can ever have a true history of pro wrestling that isn’t sanitized by WWE for our protection. That’s not good.

I just want Meltzer to be a better reporter than me, somebody who has never done any reporting in his life. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Thanks for reading. I can 100% guarantee you that next week will be better. Until then, keep your stick on the ice.


Let us know what you think on social media @ChairshotMedia and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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