Saturday, July 23, 2011

The 27 Club

With the recent and unexpected (I mean, really. Who saw THAT coming?) death of English singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse at the tender age of 27, we were all left wondering whether she did it on purpose just to be in the 27 Club alongside fellow dead-at-27-rock-artists like Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain. Arguments began surfacing about whether Winehouse was even worthy to lick these artists' boots. Throw in blues legend Robert Johnson and Pete Ham of Badfinger, and some would say Winehouse better join some other club and beat herself over the head with it.

Winehouse apologists soon came to the rescue by saying she's at least as worthy as The Gits' lead singer Mia Zapata and Hole bassist Kristen Pfaff. Detractors countered by stating that, at best, Winehouse might belong in the 27 Club somewhere between Andrew Cunanan and the Elephant Man.

Amid all this bickering and me hiding in the closet shouting, "Mommy, Daddy, stop!" I thought to myself that if Winehouse had only pulled an Andy Kaufman or a Snooki during her short career, she might have been welcomed with open arms into professional wrestling's 27 Club.

Yes, professional wrestling, the pseudo-sport we only pay attention to when Hulk Hogan is relevant or another champion murders his wife and son, has a very prestigious 27 Club. Not familiar with it? Let's go to the ring:

J.C. Bailey

While Bailey's death might have been as predictable as Winehouse's, you have to wonder how Abdullah the Butcher has celebrated 70 years of life when little Joseph Carl Bailey Jr. went at such a young age.

Bailey wrestled for the IWA Mid-South and Combat Zone Wrestling, among others, and was known for being a bloody mess. Multiple barbed wire matches and light tube matches, and wrestling guys with names like Necro Butcher, Brain Damage, and Thumbtack Jack left J.C. with more than a few concussions. He died of a brain aneurysm in August 2010, and his brain is still expected to be donated to Boston University.

Russ Haas

If you're a wrestling fan you must surely be familiar with Charlie Haas, superstar of World Wrestling Entertainment and Ring of Honor Wrestling. What you may not know is that in 2001 the Haas Brothers were poised to take the WWE by storm.

Russ Haas, trained by the legendary ten-year arm cast wearing "Iron" Mike Sharpe, had a damn good career ahead of him until a heart attack in September 2001. It was the one three months later that killed him.

Masakazu Fukuda

If you can't tell, Fukuda was a Japanese wrestler, wrestling primarily in Japan. You can check out his match against Jushin Liger on YouTube.

In 2000, Fukuda collapsed unconscious during a match against Katsuyori Shibata and died a few days later from internal bleeding of the brain. That will almost always kill you.

Louie Spicolli

Easily the most known wrestler of the club, Louis Mucciolo Jr. wrestled under many names during his career, including "Rad Radford" in WWE, "Madonna's Boyfriend" in Mexico, and "Cutie Pie" in the UWF.

While he was known as Radford in 1996, a neighbor found Mucciolo unconscious after he overdosed on Soma and suffered a seizure. He survived, but WWE soon released him, what with the steroid scandal they were still getting over. He began wrestling as Louie Spicolli in Extreme Championship Wrestling later in '96, but still had the drug problem. After leaving ECW under bad terms in '97, he headed to World Championship Wrestling. His time there was short-lived as he passed away in February 1998 after again ODing on Soma and alcohol.

Ibem Seleem

Who the fuck was Ibem Seleem? Just a man whose real name was Charles Harvey who was driving through the beautiful state of New Mexico in 1939 and got himself into a car accident that killed him. That's who.

Yeah, little else is known about Harvey/Seleem. If wrestlers who died in the 21st century end up as media unknowns who are just names on a list, what the hell chance do you think Ibem Seleem ever had to be remembered?

And there you have it, the exclusive 27 Club of pro wrestling. Of course, with wrestling you have a death club for nearly every possible age. There's the 23 Club (Chris Cash, Emiko Kado, Shane Shamrock, Mike Von Erich), the 26 Club (Basil Bozinis, Kasavubu, DJ Rizz), the 28 Club (Art Barr, Kelly Tabor, Yuel Lovett, Billy Redwood), the 29 Club (Trent Acid, Lance Cade, Gino Hernandez, Plum Mariko, Bobby Shane, Chris Taylor, Lee Estabrook. Yeah, this is a good club), and the 30 Club (Rick McGraw, Jay Youngblood, Tony Nash, Giant Ochiai), just to name a few.

So, no, the 27 Club doesn't fascinate me. At least not nearly as much as the 12 Club, which features Heather O'Rourke, Nkosi Johnson and Sadako Sasaki.

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