I just received the news that another one of ours is gone. That kind of news hits me hard, But it doesn't really shock me anymore. When Owen Hart died it hit extra hard because he did everything the right way and still didn't get the pay off in the end.
Today's loss is the first to hit me that hard since Owen. Not for the same reasons, though. Today one of my best friends died. And today a bridge between the past and the future of our business has been lost. Curt Hennig is a personality that could light up even the most dismal locker room. He was perhaps the funniest, and funniest person I know. He and Owen had a lot in common that way. Two of the funniest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Both are no longer with us.
I just want to try briefly to give some people an idea, who might not realize the magnitude of Curt's contributions the careers of many of us, of the mark he left on Wrestling. Curt took me under his wing when I was 20 years old and just entering the WWF. He instilled many of the values I have in understanding the wrestling business, and that it is our responsibility to pass down the knowledge as it was passed to us. Or as he passed to me. But he has influenced the careers of so many of the greats in wrestling. Guys who then in turn did the same. Like a pyramid effect. Shawn Michaels and Scott Hall are the two I think of first. They were with Curt in the AWA days. I just remembered that it was Curt who actually coined the nick name "Heart Break Kid" on an episode of Primetime Wrestling. It was from a country singer named Chris LeDoux's song.
He always had a way of relating situations in wrestling to a country song. He loved driving down the road with friends and singing country tunes. I had some of my best times with Curt. He was also the kind of guy who could "hold court" any where. He was always laughing, and I will tell you that Curt Hennig enjoyed LIFE! He made sure no matter how shitty things were, he was damn sure gonna create some fun.
He was the King of All Ribbers as well. I ended up with no eyebrows after my first road trip with him. I actually have gone from tears to having a great big grin on my face as I'm writing this. I don't feel like Curt was short-changed in life. He had one hell of a life. He always told me that a guy should have fun no matter what. He would quote older wrestlers and I remember him talking about Lonnie Mayne. I think it was him, if not it was someone like that who said that he always said, "Every day is Christmas and every meal is a Banquet" or something like that.
If anyone was shortchanged I will say it was his children and wonderful wife Leonice. Leonice and Curt were together since high school. If ever there was a wrestler's wife who was a saint, it was her. She hung in there like a champ. He had four kids. Joe is the oldest, I think 22 or 23 , then Amy and Kate. Then there is Hank. He's a lot like Curt. His name is actually Curtis Henry, just Hank for short. He is my son Jesse's age, almost 11 years old.
I don' t know what the circumstances are surrounding this. I just know I lost a close friend and wrestling has lost probably the last guy from the old "guard" that wanted to still teach the new guys the right way.
A lot of people are going to use this as there reason to get back up on their soap boxes and talk about how bad wrestling is. Well, go ahead if it makes you feel like you are doing good. I know from living the life that things will be always be the way they have always been. Right or wrong. We all know and freely choose the road we travel through life on. Curt knew better than anyone, Just like I do and so many others that are here today or that have passed away.
I learned many valuable lessons from Curt Hennig, and I believe he taught me one thing above all else: It's how you live, not how you die, and you never know when your number is up, so don't think you'll do something tomorrow because there may not be one.
I Love you Curt, and you will be missed more than you knew. Thanks for everything. Thanks for giving back more than you took from our sport!