Of all the Sliding Doors DEAN opened when he started DVDVR, me and @Matt D having a bet as a result of the Punk/EVP drama to be settled on via originally a Segunda Caida article but then settling on a long post here, on the board where we made our silly little wager in the first place, is probably not as big as “the world’s biggest NFL writer used to go to wrestling shows with us when he was in college” but it’s probably pretty damn close.
If it weren’t for the board? I would have never met @EricR after realizing we were both North Bay locals, and I would have never been friends with Matt had it not been for meeting Eric, although we crossed paths more impersonally on various boards and offshoots of this place. DEAN’s legacy is a thousand stories like this: Some lead to content on a wrestling blog for two decades, others lead to the creation of a billion-dollar wrestling company. Potato, potahto.
So when that company hosted their All Out PPV last year and the brawl nobody wants to talk about (legal reasons or otherwise) became a thread so long and contentious we actually thought this might be the end of the Board, Matt and I instead saw a way to Create Content amongst ourselves by making a friendly wager on what the ultimate result of that brawl would be. In a selfish way? It’s how I get back on the site after somehow, some way, finishing Lucha Underground with Eric by taking over for Matt! No, I don’t know how we did it. It’s all there to read if you want to.
Of course, we then came to the conclusion that since the bet was made here, we might as well have the result of that bet here. Alas, my plan is foiled.
The bet was simple enough: After the fight, would that rascal CM Punk actually (be allowed to?) return to AEW? I was absolutely confident that he would. His impact on AEW over a year-plus span was too much for even a fistfight against the homeschoolers and The Personification Of Wrestling Otaku to dissuade. I also still like to believe the fight basically took place like the brawl in Anchorman; Ace Steel as Brick Tamlin, of course. Matt was less convinced Punk would return; for many, as it turned out, valid reasons!
Two things happened since that bet came to be, unchronologically. The first is I became a dad, the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me and something I still don’t believe has actually happened. The second is that DEAN died.
In the must-hear Exile on Bradstreet retrospective pod on DEAN’s life, the Phils and Kris talked openly about how much DEAN meant to them and where wrestling may have began the friendship for the Playaz, but it sustained through DEAN’s constant adoration and support for his friends and everything else in their lives. It was always more than just wrestling to DEAN when you interacted on the Board or the myriad chats he was a part of. As was said in the pod, it was about what he did to share his life with others, especially with the things he loved. And when he saw something where that love was equally expressed, he was always there to back it up or lend support. That was his legacy, more so even than the tildebang~!
I personally remember posting with pride about my broadcasts when I was in Dunedin with the Blue Jays what seems like a lifetime ago in 2009-10. My first pro broadcasting gig ever. And when DEAN of all people responded with an affirmation of how cool it was, it really did mean the world to me. That was one of thousands of times he did that for people, as many anecdotes have described, on the Board and off.
But they also talked about him as a father. And how much his kids just adored him and how much he supported them and how proud of them he was. I’ve talked with a few fathers in our community that reinforced that gleeful anticipation I had for when I became one and the two months since my daughter was born have only made that joy stronger.
That particular part of the pod just absolutely broke me, as did his daughter’s response to all our support after his passing. We all know how good DEAN was to us and how he built up this community; it was only fitting we supported the amazing community he built in his home.
So. This bet began on DEAN’s Board. About an incident that happened in a company that wouldn’t exist without him creating this incubator of talent on the internet. And I obviously won. So Matt now has to review three matches of my choosing, and in our original talks, the goal was to throw matches to the other person that would be a chore to watch, not unlike most of the discourse that happened after the incident. We had some spirited discussions of what routes to go that veered very much into the sublimely banal. Matt watches so much for posterity and enjoyment that the idea is you gotta make the other guy suffer as counterbalance. Or so it may have been. In the end, I went more thematic around the incident itself.
Since supposedly a chair was thrown when it all went down, and I didn’t want to have Matt review an episode of The Boondocks, I figured I’d give him a match with some of the most insane chair throwing I’ve seen. Since Punk not only came back but got his own damn show AND got the supposed worst offender in the brawl his job back after being fired, he and Steel were the “winners” of the brawl, so I figured a match with the two of them was a shoe-in. Finally, as tribute, a match fit for the Sport of Kings: A DEAN special all the way.
In the end, we all win because we found our way to this corner of the internet; DEAN just made sure it was enjoyable for all who wanted to be there. Here’s to bets between friends, both won and lost.