If I hadn’t forgotten that today was the third anniversary of the passing of Michael “Johnny Grunge” Durham, I might have been tempted to mention him in the same column with Eddie Gilbert and Curt Hennig that I posted earlier today.
Then Grunge would (if he could have) kicked me square in the ass…not seeing himself on their level, but being as big a mark as I was for wrestlers like both Hennig and Gilbert.
But after being reminded by Dave Meltzer’s mention, I couldn’t fail to remember Grunge somehow on his anniversary.
My favorite Johnny Grunge story wasn’t one in the ring, but was from the night that Johnny played Pied Piper to an entire bar.
It tells the story of how fun-loving and loyal Grunge was…and of the whole Team ECW feel of those days.
One night after an ECW show, the post-show “festivities” took place at the Radisson Hotel near Philadelphia International Airport, since the usual ECW post-show haunts weren’t open for some reason and wrestlers and fans went down the road from the Comfort Inn. The bar was packed with ECW talent and fans, making for very happy barstaff and management when they saw the bar tabs being racked up.
Well…what actually happened to this day I don’t know, but as the evening went on, one of Grunge’s friends was asked to leave the bar. Grunge found out about this, and went to see what was going on. After he was told the friend wouldn’t be allowed back in, Grunge played Pied Piper, told the bar his friend had been kicked out; and proceeded to tell us his friend had been treated unfairly and that we might want to let the bar know what we felt.
The entire (and I don’t mean most of the people, but the ENTIRE bar) proceeded to clear out, and those assembled walked into the Radisson parking lot. The barstaff and management took one look at hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of the evening’s proceeds walking out into the parking lot. After about two minutes decided whatever had happened with Grunge’s friend couldn’t have been that serious…and allowed him back in.
Like I said, Grunge would have kicked me in the ass if I’d put him in the same column with Eddie Gilbert and Curt Hennig, because he’d be the first to tell anyone that Gilbert and hennig had their place in wrestling and he had his…both of which were notable in their own ways
When I first wrote this story about Grunge, I said that somewhere up above…the match Paul Heyman always wanted to do would finally take place: Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr, Los Gringos Locos, are taking on The Public Enemy as we speak….and that given that this week will see the anniversary of Eddie Gilbert’s passing, Eddie was running around Heaven trying to book return matches for multiple venues over the next two months.
God, the DVD of that match will be fun to watch if I ever make it up to Heaven some day.
Until next time…
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