The Night I Met Chris Candido And Went To T.G.I Fridays
Personal WWE Network 1990s-2000s Chronlogical Events
- Next: Wrestlemania 2000. When: April 2, 2000
- Previous: ECW Hardcore TV 362. When: April 1, 2000
At the final WCW Uncensored PPV from March 19, 2000 Chris “Hard Knox” Candido made his WCW debut to basically get in on some Crusierweight division action and make an inside (maybe) statement about wrestlers having female valets. If wrestling fans had been watching for years, they knew that Tammy “Sunny” Sytch had been the valet/manager for Chris Candido in both WWF and WCW.
At a previous PPV, Superbrawl, Prince Iaukea who had established his “Artist” Prince character had won the Cruiserweight championship. Artist also had a valet, former Nitro girl Storm, now going by Paisley. If you’re not familiar or forgot she would later join WWE and become Queen Sharmell, at the side of her real life husband Booker T aka King Booker.
Even though I didn’t know it yet, I was to become a fan of Chris Candido. In hindsight I get why he debuted at WCW’s take on ECW. Originally Uncensored was the hardcore PPV where the rules were thrown out. That might have been the actual slogan. I know uncensored was said a lot. Their was even a Hardcore TV episode that totally made fun of the original Uncensored. In hindsight watching three promotions chronologically it (extreme) ruled.
In 2000, I hadn’t previously known Chris Candido had been part of ECW. And maybe a “blink and you’ll miss it” second run in WWF. This is probably not saying much, Chris Candido was an entertaining character. Even with 2000 internet, (at least it was broadband) I wasn’t real aware that Chris Candido like myself is from New Jersey or that The Garden State “bred” quite a few professional wrestlers.
While I don’t know the exact date, most likely before WCW’s final Nitro in March 2001, it is probably why my friend Joe (the one and only) and I had a chance to go to an independent wrestling promotion event.
Joe and I grew up in the same town during our teen years. By the late 1990s he and his family had moved close to a Jersey shore point. That’s probably how he knew that Keansburg High School was going to have “indie” wrestling in the gym featuring “former WWF” stars. It had to be true, it was right their on the sign.
I had never been to an indie wrestling show before. Or since. I don’t know if some shows are like this today. It was one part “low budget” wrestling event, one part wrestling con, and one part vendors. Including the wrestlers selling their merchandise.
Former stars, (at times used loosely) King Kong Bundy, The Patriot, Ace Darling, maybe Gillberg. Nicole Bass, Tammy “Sunny” Sytch, Sabu, Al Snow, and naturally Chris Candido. I also vaguely remember one then indie guy that had Ice in his name. We saw him come through the same doors with zero security.
It cost Joe and I $12 USD each for “general admission” tickets where we basically sat ringside. Because you need to know I probably had to buy gas at a full service station for less than $2 USD per gallon. NJ really needed to continue to have a toll system.
Surprisingly you could meet the former WWF stars for free. Which we did before the actual wrestling. Of course you could pay for a photo/autograph. While I don’t remember prices, we talked to just about everyone, even if briefly.
At this time I didn’t really remember The Patriot and I had no idea who Ace Darling is. Really, still don’t. We were talking to King Kong Bundy who had the one iconic 8 x 10 photo of him putting a temporary halt to Hulkamania. A bit aways was Ace Darling who seemed to legitimately be getting mad at me for not knowing who he was. I had a slight verbal fight with him. For some reason my realness and this situation made King Kong Bundy laugh a lot. I didn’t feel like their could be a real problem. Maybe I thought King Kong Bundy would defend me. Joe also enjoyed how I cut a “shoot” promo against Ace.
As I hadn’t been able to watch ECW and wasn’t watching WWF in 1997 I didn’t know who Sabu was. He was pretty rude to both Joe and I. Before that night I had never stepped into a wrestling ring. I don’t think he had the patience. Why did we get into the ring? For some reason that’s where it seemed you had to take a photo with Sabu (I think separately) and Al Snow. With my allegiance to WCW over the years, the only wrestling t-shirts I owned were nWo related. As I was posing sorta for a photo with Al Snow he asked me jokingly why I was wearing that t-shirt. Al Snow was wearing his Job Squad tee. I was honest. I’ll admit meeting wrestlers can be a little intimidating. Yeah, I stood my ground with Ace Darling. I wasn’t right next to the guy.
Somewhere I still have the autographs and maybe some Polaroids. If I come across them again and scan them, I could share them.
I may not have thought of it, I didn’t get a photo that I can recall of or with Chris Candido. At the show I did something I thought was even better. I was enjoying the experience because as Joe and I knew, my mom wasn’t going to be happy with me the next day. I used the “emergency credit card” to buy a replica WCW Heavyweight Champion belt. It was so cool right?
It was Joe’s idea for me to ask Chris Candido to autograph it. With courage I asked him. I remember earlier in the evening how I told Chris Candido he should be world champion in WCW. He gave me a shoot answer about politics. Something I still knew little about. When it came to autographing my expensive replica belt Chris Candido seemed surprised and asked me if I was sure. I think Chris Candido really appreciated me asking and being a fan of his. If I had been watching since 1993 at least as I did in hindsight, I still would have felt the same.
He did and when I uh talked to my mom after the fact, the autograph belt became an investment. At least it could have.
Why could have? I still own the belt. In order to cleanse most of our stuff from smoke caused by a fire, the company used some oxygen process. It totally removed Chris Candido’s autograph! You can see it a little, the signature is small compared to the “big, gold belt.”
I’m pretty sure Joe had heard the wrestlers were going to a T.G.I Fridays locally. We became those guys who had to go to Fridays to a) see if it was true and b) if nothing else, eat ourselves. It’s night time and we were about to be on wrestlers schedules. By the time we get there, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, and other people, possibly wrestlers were already eating. They hadn’t even changed, still wearing their gear. A wrestlers life, right? We didn’t want to bother them and be disrespectful. We said something of the sort, which I think was also appreciated. We were partially looking to get more autographs. We were told if we waited until they’re finished at T.G.I Fridays, they would take the time. We believed it and now we had to prepare.
We hung around for a time and left, still hanging outside. Talking wrestling and whatever usual. In order to get the autographs we needed paper and the right color (to either of us) Sharpies. In the same shopping center was the former grocery chain Pathmark. For some reason being in that store and their dinner was to us taking way too long. It was getting later, I was tired, and it started raining. We get what we need and drive around the parking lot waiting.
Eventually Chris Candido who seemed to lead this stable of wrestlers leave the restaurant. Now the anti-climatic part. True to Chris Candido word I, maybe more Joe get their autographs. I asked Chris Candido if he was wearing Terry Funk’s tights. He said yes like it was no big deal. It seemed odd, yet the life of a professional wrestler.
Where I’m at in WCW chronologically I haven’t seen Chris Candido wear Terry Funk’s striped tights. Maybe he didn’t on TV, I’m not sure in hindsight.
After WWF bought WCW and a former wrestling company became an angle I didn’t continue to follow Chris Candido then current career. I didn’t know about his mostly independent run or Chris Candido being part of TNA in 2005.
Of interest, my next wrestling blog posts should be about my Wrestlemania memories and talking about the final (hopefully) direction of WCW Nitro.