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2002-12-11 - 9:03 p.m.
My friend Jeff Peterson died. He was a wrestler, and just a kid...He had lymphoma, and fought for along time.
This is going to be long. Very.
I came to my first indy show, three and a half years ago, with hopes of getting to know someone in the business to find out how I Could get trained.
I had came to the show, thinking I was going to see some big muscly guys that would tell me what i needed to know to break in. What I saw surprised me.
I looked at these two guys, and literally thought, okay time to hit the snackbar, these guys combined weigh less than me. (I was 245 lbs)
The third match on the show was one where Jeff wrestled Bino (naphtali) in a ladder match, and Jeff was playing the role of loudmouthed heel. He came out, and there were some snickers, but mostly there was a rumbling in the audience, and people were visibly upset just seeing Jeff strut down in his baggy hockey Jersey (a Pitt Penguins one) to answer the call of Al Bino.
Two minutes after Jeff held the mike half the marks sitting in my section were on their feet yelling and screaming at Jeff , the other half laughing at the taunting and ribbing he was laying on the fans in attendance.
Twenty minutes later, Jeff was selling a table spot, laid out and I was on my feet, amazed at what I'd seen. I'm sure that the match doesn't stand out to Charles, and probably not Jeff then, but to me it does.
They gelled in the ring, and put on an amazing display of mat wrestling, comedy, highspots, and gimmick spots, that had the crowd eating out of their hands.
A half hour later CJ Afi (Tony Mamluke) had carried a fat piece of crap to a watchable match and I knew that I had seen something special for 10 bucks, and was blown away not by the jacked up monsters, or the guys who fit the traditional definition of what a professional wrestler was (in my 80's reared mind).
I talked to Jeff after the show, and he was not only polite to me, a fat, overweight fan, who thought he could be a wrassler, but even gave me tips on getting in shape, finding a school, and giving 100% because as he said "either you feel it, and want it every day, or you won't make it."
I caught Jeff doing a babyface gimmick teaming with Bino a month later for FEW, and started to understand the concept of a "work" and began to smarten up, and started studying their matches..the way they worked the crowd, the way they worked their opponent differently depending on the crowd and the booking.
Six and a half months later, my trainer Frankie Capone pulled me in and let me work a battle royale, after he and Jeff had worked a great match in a broken ring (something Frankie seems to do alot of) and the first person to come over to me was Jeff.
He smiled and gave me a few right hands that felt like pillows, and kept laughing the whole time. He even gave me some, let me lay in the first (sh*t ty) punch of my unheralded career and sold like I was Ronnie Garvin.
In the back, still nervous and shaking and amped up, the first guy to approach me was Jeff, and he seemed as excited for me as I was (impossible though).
Three months later, I came across the coast, invited by Ron to come check out the school and to show the trainer what I had.
I came there, and Mike Marcello and Jeff were there waiting for me.
Jeff asked Mike if we could do some stuff to show him (mike) what I had and to get a feel for what I knew.I was very nervous, but Jeff helped me out and showed me a ton in that two hours that I still remember fondly and respectfully. Both of those two workers were tremendous in terms of ability and wrestling knowledge, and motivated me to push myself to the next level.
Fast forward a bit and I get a phone call from Jeff.
He's feeling sick, thinks he's got pneumonia and doesn't know if he can work that weekend (he does, of course). I tell him I'll catch his match since it's right around the corner.
Something came up, I never caught it....and I regret it very much, as it turns out it was his last match before his diagnosis.
Fast forward three months or so, and I'm working my first match for IPW, a three way where Frankie Capone and Mr Peskin beat the piss out of me, before Frankie yanks my mask off in the middle of the ring, and delivers his reverse stunner to eliminate me.
Since Jeff motivated me and inspired me so much, I gave that mask to his father, after the match, and it was, AND IS, one of the things I will remember always.
Four months later, living in NYC, I traveled to shows all over the northeast looking for work, and got to spend time with Jeff at his uncle Jim's shows a few times, and he always put me over to anyone he introduced me to, and helped me tremendously when I was recovering from my shattered arm. (Justice's fault. hah)
If it wasn't for Jeff I probably would have given up time and time again. He was amazingly resiliant, and to him, he had nothing in his heart but wrestling. His future, was so f*ck ing bright, that you just KNEW the guy was going to be something. I've never seen someone so young be so comfortable and at home in the ring.
If you never saw Jeff take a backbody drop, and in mid-air tell you how much it was going to hurt, throw you a wink, and then sell like he was split in half, you really missed something special.
I miss him alot, and while I have regrets towards not being there for him when he may or may not have needed me the last year, I do know that there are more than enough memories, in me, to keep a piece of him alive.
Jeff touched alot of people, and I'm sure that like Mikey, helped many potential wrestlers make that next step, that little push that they needed to see it through the road to becoming a worker.
Anytime I complain about wrestling, or feel like quitting, he pops into my head, little scrawny 18 year old Jeff, complaining about his legs being too skinny for his tights, asking stupid questions about girls, trying to sneak a beer from me, or rib me about my gut....he was everything that was good about wrestling.
I miss Jeff alot.