Fond farewell for Frankie Kazarian
JASON CLEVETT -- SLAM! Wrestling
|Chris Sabin (back to camera) and Petey Williams say goodbye to Frankie Kazarian in the ring.
-photo by Mike Lano, WReaLano@aol.com
HOLLYWOOD - In a small gym at the Los Feliz Jewish Community Center wrestling fans said "so long but not goodbye" to one of their own. Frankie Kazarian made his final two appearances April 1st and 2nd at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's "All Star Weekend," allowing SoCal friends and fans to bid farewell as he embarks on a career with the WWE.
After teaming with Chris Sabin and being narrowly defeated by Chris Bosh and Scott Lost, Kazarian stood in the center of the ring, genuine emotion on his face as fans chanted "Thank you Frankie." He was stunned as the PWG locker room came to the ring to pay tribute. Partner Sabin spoke about Kazarian being a class act and traveling up and down the road with him before others took the microphone to pay tribute.
"When I started in this business, Frankie Kazarian was there, taking bumps he didn't need to in order to show me how to be a wrestler," PWG regular Joey Ryan said, stating that Kazarian is responsible for helping make him the wrestler he is.
"If anyone is going to talk about Frankie Kazarian, it should be me," Christopher Daniels said. "I was in the house the first day that Frankie Kazarian walked in the training center door. I saw you from the beginning to now, and you have earned everything that you have got and achieved everything the right way and you are going to earn the rewards of all your hard work in front of these fans and fans all around the world. Not only are you one of the hardest working men in sports entertainment, but you are also the coolest."
After Excalibur offered Kazarian a lifetime spot on the PWG roster, the wrestlers filed to the back and allowed "The Future" Kazarian a final moment in the spotlight.
"It has been a fun run in SoCal in the last eight years and you guys have been there since day one. Each and every one of you are the reason why myself and everyone in the back are here. Everyone in the back from the opening match to the main event, I thank each and every one of you I have had the pleasure of wrestling. I hope that you continue to support PWG the best federation in California. I will put a PWG show up against any show in the world. I am still the future... and the future looks good," he said as fans chanted his name.
Backstage, Kazarian admitted surprise at the locker room farewell.
"It was awesome, one of those moments where you realize that all your hard work wasn't for nothing and that people appreciate me," he told SLAM! Wrestling. "The boys coming out means a lot to me, as did the standing ovation. I was without words it meant so much. It is great to see the support for what we do."
Although backstage warming up and unable to come out for the ceremony, AJ Styles told SLAM! Wrestling that he was honored to be on Kazarian's final shows and made sure to share his feelings on Kazarian.
"We have never had a bad match. It is a shame that TNA dropped the ball on Frankie," said Styles. "I am thankful that I get to be on the same show. I hope the best for him and that he makes a billion kazillion dollars. He is a very talented guy and I am glad I got to know him."
Kazarian plays poker in the ring.
-photo by Mike Lano, WReaLano@aol.com
Having so many of his friends on the show made the weekend extra special for Kazarian. "Chris [Sabin] and Petey [Williams]
are two guys I hang out with a lot and will keep in touch with. Christopher Daniels has been one of my best friends for years. Guys like Ricky Reyes, A.J. Styles, all my old friends in California dating back to when I started -- these guys are my family and I love them. It was awesome to have them all here."
The night was emotional and brought about closure to a part of Kazarian's career that began in California in 1998.
"I feel good. It was sad being my last one but I am proud of what I have done, and what has been done in California. I will continue to support California indies, a lot of my friends are still here," Kazarian said. "It was emotional being my last one but we move on. It's moving on to the next chapter. Being a career independent wrestler, that part is over but I am moving on to the next level. I haven't been told what I am doing either way but hopefully will start right on the roster."
Like a lot of wrestlers, Kazarian is very proud of his long hair. Recent years has seen many of the WWE's stars trim their locks, and Kazarian hopes he won't have to. "If they asked me to cut my hair I would reluctantly because it is my job. As soon as I could grow it back I would."
While the fans in California had their chance to say goodbye, Kazarian wanted to take the opportunity to thank the fans around the world who have supported him and the wrestling business. His final message to fans was of heartfelt thanks.
"The fans are the reason we are here. I have met so many of you around the world and the one common thing fans and wrestlers have in common is that we love pro wrestling. I can't thank everyone enough for supporting what we do, fans are the reason I am in the position I am in. Keep supporting wrestling, whether it's ROH, TNA, WWE, PWG, any independents. Thanks for everything and God bless."
April 10, 2005: SoCal stars shine at All Star Weekend
April 5, 2005: Kazarian: I couldn't pass up WWE offer
Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!
See Frankie Kazarian in action
Order Pro Wrestling Guerrilla: Use Your Illusion 4 DVD
Jason "Not as cool as Kazarian but still pretty cool" Clevett is from Calgary, Alberta. He can be emailed at email@example.com.