AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
James Haase, better known as J.T. Lightning, who was an independent wrestler and promoter of Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling for several years, died on August 4 at age 41 after a long battle with cancer. Hasse ran Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling shows for some 17 years
He continued to run Cleveland All-Pro Wrestling shows even during his long battle with cancer, and actively followed and commented upon the wrestling business until his ilnness had worsened to the point that he had recently been placed in hospice care.
Many in WWE and independent wrestling have offered their sympathies, including the following:
CM Punk tweeted his condolences, stating that JT Lightning was one of the first to book matches anywhere with Punk against friend Colt Cabana.
Bull Pain said “I am at a loss for words and really don’t know what to say, but when I think of you the first thing that pops in my mind is friend, respect, talent and all around great guy. A pleasure to have in the locker room and a super talent to be in the ring with.”
Ring of Honor’s Cary Silkin shared the following: “We at Ring of Honor are very saddened by the loss of JT Lightning.He was always a gentleman and an all round good guy. J.T. always was helpful to everyone in our journeys to Cleveland. We will all miss you.”
Every mid-August, I remember a sad anniversary.
On August 18, 2005, that CZW wrestler Christopher “Chri$ Ca$h” Bauman Jr. was killed as the result of a motorcycle accident near his home. Bauman had been riding a motorcycle on Ellis Street in Glassboro, NJ when a Ford Taurus turned in front of it from Higgins Drive, striking the car on the driver’s side of a vehicle driven by Daisy Gwin of Glassboro, NJ.
Bauman Jr., 23, died at the scene, as did his cousin 27 year old Jeremy Bauman, 27, of Franklinville, NJ the driver of the motorcycle. Gwin, 68, of Glassboro, died en route to Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Washington Township, NJ.
Chris was always genuinely friendly in a way that a lot of wrestlers aren’t, but had the wild side we all had at age 23. He was a nice young man, in every sense that the phrase used to mean; and always felt obligated to call me “Mr. Magee” when I came to a show (even when I told him he didn’t have to), would
always say hello when I saw him at a CZW show and tell me he’d seen something or another on my PWBTS.com site.
Bauman worked for CZW from 2001 through 2005, with many non-CZW fans even taking notice of him at Cage of Death 5 in his absolutely psychotic ladder match with Blackout’s Joker (who left the promotion shortly afterwards to serve in the US military over in Iraq for one of his tours of duty). The oddest thing is that this match wasn’t even supposed to happen in the way that it did; as it was originally scheduled as a tag team bout, involving Deranged and Azriael, who were working the Jersey All Pro Wrestling show in Rahway, NJ, then come down to Philadelphia for CZW.
But in an almost unprecedented moment for those who know CZW… the show was actually running ahead of schedule. As a result, Deranged and Azriael were not yet at the building. Another version of the story had the two calling the building, telling CZW they were just leaving…and were told not to bother, because they’d never make it in time. In any event, this forced the promotion to go ahead with a singles ladder match, which turned out to be the best thing that could have happened, as it made two stars for CZW in one night with Cash and Joker nearly stealing the entire show. Psycho spots in this match included Cash bulldogging Joker while his head was inside a rung of a ladder off the ropes onto a chair, a top rope superplex onto a ladder stuck at a 45 degree angle into the rungs of another ladder; ending with one of the sickest spots I’ve ever seen in my years of shows at the ECW Arena, as Joker hit his Joker Driver (tiger driver from an electric chair position) off the top of a high ladder with Cash through a table for the pin.
Cash also main evented Cage of Death 6/War Games, as part of the babyface Team Ca$h (Nate Webb, Sexxy Eddy, Cash, JC Bailey) against heel team (turned babyface and heel again) Blackout (Ruckus, Sabian, Kingston, and Jack Evans. As usual, the match featured the daredevil spots for which Cash was known throughout his all-too-short career; including dumping Jack Evans via backdrop off the COD to the floor, and giving Sabian a Cashflow off of the scaffold through four tables, landing in the second row of the ECW Arena.
All I could think when I heard the news four years ago was: God…Chris was easily young enough to be my son. Sons aren’t supposed to die before the parents…or their contemporaries. At the same time, I can’t imagine Chris as a 40 or 50 year old. His spirit was too free and wild to have ever been anything but young.
Chris will be remembered again this year at the Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Show 2011 on September 10 at the ECW ArenaPhiladelphia with the main event a Champion vs Champion Match of current BJW Heavyweight Deathmatch Champion Ryuji Ito vs. CZW Ultraviolet Underground Champion MASADA.
Until next time…
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