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Monday, July 02, 2007

AS I SEE IT 7/2: 13 years

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

It seems surreal to be posting
this column again, as we're still in the middle of reeling from the Benoit
family tragedy....but here we are.

The song quoted below has an additional and poignant meaning in light of the
events of last week as well.

When I post this column each July 4th holiday, I remember how many years
it's been since the death of former WWF referee Joey Marella in an
automobile accident on the New Jersey Turnpike, while traveling to Newark,
NJ from a WWF show in Ocean City, MD.

But since that tragedy happened, so much has happened in our world and in
all of our lives since that day a decade ago. The world is a very different
place than it was in 1994, with terrorism and war now an everyday concern
for those of us in the United States, as well as the rest of our world. The
fruit of our country's youth is coming home in bodybags from Iraq and
Afghanistan on an almost daily basis. Terror is also being visited upon the
United Kingdom over the last 48 hours.

Nonetheless, the passing of one person and the need to remember it, still
stands out above and beyond things that we often can't understand or
control, like terrorists using the name of God as a justification for what
they do, or the actions of world powers toward other countries; or
inexplicable murders of an innocent child and a wife by a man we thought we
knew...and knew far less than we all thought.

One thing we can control, however, is to remember those who are and who were
important within our lives...or within our areas of personal interest, like

Thus, a remembrance of former WWF referee Joey Marella, who left this world
13 years ago on July 4th. I thought I'd again add last year's foreword from
Kathy Fitzpatrick, who is, as always, is mentioned in the article below. Her
remembrance from last year adds to the yearly AS I SEE IT I do remembering


"On this 4th of July after the picnics and parades, I always do one thing
that I thought I wouldn't ever have to start a tradition of doing...going to
the cemetary to remember a dear friend, Joey Marella. Joey was taken away
from his friends and family way too soon, and this is the 12th anniversary
of his passing.

That fateful day will always stay with me no matter whatever may happen to
me. The reason it sticks with me is that I was one of the last people to see
Joey. it was after a WWE show in Ocean City, MD and I was staying with
friend in Baltimore. I am the person that Bob speaks about in the column
below that wanted Joey to stay with us. But Joey and Bruno Lauer had to go
to Newark to drop a car off and fly out.

I will always remember his last words to me... no, nothing mushy... just
"call me I go to the Phillipines on Friday" Well, that Friday was when Joey
was laid to rest in NJ. Joey was a great friend and will always have a
special place in my heart.

I just want to say that Joey was a very important person to me and so many
other friends and co-workers; and on this rememberance of his passing, I
just wanted to remember a friend by saying I love you Joey. My prayers are
always with your family...

Kathy Fitzpatrick"


"Looking back on the memory of...
The dance we shared...
'neath the stars alone...
For a moment...
all the world was right...
How could I have known...
that you'd ever say goodbye...

Dance, (Garth Brooks and Tony Arata, 1989)

Every July 4th, most people remember the holiday for fireworks, barbecues,
and patriotic speeches. But some of us remember it each year for different

I remember July 4, 1994, all too well. I was sitting down, eating lunch,
getting ready to watch an early round World Cup soccer game when the phone
rang...two friends, one of whom was a ECW referee; had left messages on my
phone within five minutes, but I didn't think anything of it.

Then the phone rang again. I finally picked it up, realizing something had
to be wrong. I heard the agonized voice of a friend over the line... I could
make out about every third word being said. Gradually, I pieced together the

Joey Marella had been killed in an automobile accident while returning from
a WWF show in Ocean City, MD the previous evening. Joey had fallen asleep at
the wheel on the New Jersey Turnpike; and was involved in a one car accident
together with Bruno "Harvey Whippleman" Lauer. Joey wasn't wearing a seat
belt, and was killed, only miles from the Marella family home in
Willingboro, NJ.

Only hours before, my friend had been with Joey and friends after the
show...they'd tried to get him to crash with them up in Baltimore, but Joey
told them he had to get going, up to Newark Airport. The person was on the
phone going through horrible, but unnecessary, guilt for somehow not making
Joey come to Baltimore with them.

For many readers of this column who might not have been around back then,
Joey Marella was a WWF referee who worked many high-profile WWF matches
during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Joey's career highlights include PPV main events, such as the legendary
Hogan-Andre the Giant match at WrestleMania III from the Pontiac Silverdome
in March 1987, Ric Flair's first WWF title win at Royal Rumble 1992, Bret
Hart-Davey Boy Smith at Summer Slam 1992 from London's Wembley Stadium, and
Owen Hart-Razor Ramon in the final match at King of the Ring 1994 from
Baltimore. He also worked many high profile WWF TV events, including the NBC
and Fox Saturday Night Main Event shows, and the 1993 debut of Monday Night
RAW. Joey even made a brief appearance as himself in the Hulk Hogan movie
"No Holds Barred".

Aside from the ring, some readers may even know he was the adopted son of
Robert (Gorilla Monsoon) Marella. This led to a running inside joke on WWF
TV of Monsoon telling viewers how "horrible" that referee Joey Marella was,
each time Joey "missed" heel interference in a match.

But some of us knew another side to Joey.

Joey Marella was a "big brother" to many within the wrestling business,
particularly the World Wrestling Federation. He was always there with a
shoulder to lean on, or with time to listen to those who needed it. Joey was
loved by many, including a friend of mine who was quite close to him, who's
kept a special place in her heart for him to this day....the same friend of
mine I told you about earlier.

I knew Joey through this friend, so on that July 4th, the feelings weren't
from the death of someone distant. They were strong and deeply personal.
Joey's loss was felt deeply by many in and out of the World Wrestling
Federation. The loss is still felt deeply to this day.

As one example, WWF ring announcer Tony Chimel (the announcer on Smackdown
and house shows) named his newest son after his friend (and Godfather to his
other two children) Joey Marella. Some would argue young Joey Chimel is just
as mischievous as his namesake. One hopes he's half as good a person.

On this upcoming July 4th holiday, please keep a special place in your
thoughts for Joey Marella, who left this world at the age of 31. Keep also
in your thoughts those others who left wrestling far richer for having been
a part of it, yet poorer for having left the business and their loved ones
too soon, including Owen Hart, Rick (Renegade) Wilson, "Hot Stuff" Eddie
Gilbert, Art Barr, Brian Pillman, Louie Spicolli, Sylvester Ritter, Jay
Youngblood, Rick McGraw, David, Mike and Chris (Von Erich) Adkisson, and
Buzz Sawyer.

Finally, on this upcoming July 4th weekend, I'll repeat the motto I leave
you with frequently: Be sure to treasure those in your own lives... for we
are never promised tomorrow.

"And now, I'm glad I didn't know...
The way it all would end...
The way it all would go...
Our lives are better left to chance...
I could have missed the pain...
But I'd of had to miss the dance..."


There are far too many within wrestling that have left this world too soon,
just since that list above was first compiled in July 1999, by natural
causes after a long life...or due to the recreational and growth-enhancing
drugs and emotional turmoil so endemic to professional wrestling: Chris,
Nancy, and Daniel Benoit, Sherri Martel, Flash Barker, Cowboy Lang, Cocoa
Samoa, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bob Luce, Mike Awesome, Ray Stern, Badnews Brown,
Black Shadow, Ernie Ladd, Arnold Skaaland, Angel Azteca, Abe Coleman, Sonny
Myers, Sandy Barr, Elizabeth "Miss Elizabeth" Hulette, "Bruiser" Brian Cox,
Kodo Fuyuki,"Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig, Naoto Morishita, Yukon Braxton, "All
American" Jeff Peterson, Billy Travis, Davey Boy Smith, Shoichi Arai, Randy
"Pee Wee" Anderson, Dave Casanova, Jeff "Rattlesnake" Raitz, Russ Haas,
Rhonda Singh, Terry "Bam Bam" Gordy, Masakazu Fukuda, Bobby Duncum Jr., Gary
Albright, Tony Rumble, Brian "Mark Curtis" Hildebrand, Jackie Sato, Alex
"Big Dick Dudley" Rizzo, Dave Casanova, Chris Adams, Mike Davis, Gary
Albright, Jumbo Tsuruta, Rick Rude, Rodney "Yokozuna" Anoai, and The Sheik.

There was Stu Hart, Road Warrior Hawk, "Classy" Freddie Blassie, Michael
"Crash Holly" Lockwood, Anthony "Pitbull #2" Durante, Hercules Hernandez,
Larry "Moondog Spot" Booker, Jerry "The Wall" Tuite, Mike Lozansky, Sandor
Kovacs, Buck Moore, Jack Tunney, Beetlejuice, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Dave
Levin, Dinty Parks, Danny Hawke, John Heath, Dano McDonald, Hercules
Hernandez, Power Mike, Texas Outlaw #1, Dr. Destruction, Stephan DeLeon,
Goliath, Rattlesnake Brooks, Pepper Gomez, Kurt Von Brauner, Malcolm Monroe,
Victor the Bodyguard, Pat O'Hara, Balk Estes, Sandor Kovacs, Billy Redwood,
Pat Roach, Gentleman Ken Timbs, J.W. Hawk, Dr. Wagner, Jim Barnett, Enrique
Llanes, Ray "Big Boss Man" Traylor, Chuck Molnar, Billy Spears, Jack
Donovan, Misterio de la Muerte, Xtreme, Samson Kutsuwada, Ray Villmer, Pez
Whatley, wrestling photographer Tony Lanza, Roger Mackay, George Culkin,
Chris Candido, Guy Brunetti, Spider, Ricky Romero, El Texano, Emory Hail,
Jackie Pallo, Johnny Grunge, Kay Noble, Sammy Steamboat, Bull Ramos, Prince
Pullins, Earthquake, and Crazy Luke Graham, Antonio Pena, Joey Maggs, Ill
Kim, Huracan Ramirez, Sputnik Monroe, Tiger Conway, The Spoiler, among many

Back about 4 years ago, I received a kind letter from Joey's sister Valerie
regarding the version of this column that was published in 2002:

" I just happened to come across your article about Joey while I was at
work, and I wanted to thank you. You really seemed to know alot about him,
not just as a referee, because we both know he was so much more than that.

I am his younger sister, and in addition to Tony Chimel naming his son after
him, I had twin boys 2 years after he died; and named one Joey after him,
and named the other Gino after my father.

Thanks for making my day."

Hopefully...in an era when lives seem to mean a lot less, with daily deaths
in foreign lands reported on the evening news as if scores in some obscene
video game; we can remember Joey's passing in some manner similar to the way
his sister did...and to remember those important in our own lives.

Take a minute to say a prayer for or give a thought to them, as well as all
within wrestling who've left us too soon as you approach this holiday
weekend; and remember to see human beings, and not just anonymous performers
when you watch RAW, Smackdown, TNA, and syndicated TV shows...or your local
independent promotion...because some of those performers were and are
remarkable human beings.

Until next time...

If you'd like to add advertising on PWBTS.com (the flagship website of this
column), banner ads are available for $400 for one year/$200 for six months.
These ads would appear on each newspage appearing on the newsboard. Cube ads
are available for $200 for one year, which would be placed on the main
newsboard page.

If you have comments or questions, if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT
column to your website or for advertising requests, I can be reached by
e-mail at bobmagee1@hotmail.com.

(As always...this column represents the view of this writer and not
necessarily of the website on which it appears).

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