Year In Wrestling Special - Mr. Perfect Is Dead
Posted by Michael Benjamin on 02.11.2003
Mr. Perfect is dead...
Thirteen years ago, my Dad’s company was remodeling the Lee Civic Center in my hometown of Fort Myers, Florida. As a perk of the job, he could basically come and go as he pleased to any event, any time.
I still remember that day in second grade when he came home and told us that he had a surprise for us after school the next day if we cleaned up our rooms. We were excited, but had no idea as to what he had up his sleeve.
At 3:30 the following day, my Dad came to school and picked up me and my twin brother Jay (Bower) in his old Blazer. We stopped for a snack and then headed out for the surprise.
As we pulled into the back gates of the Civic Center, we saw the huge trucks emblazoned with the WWF logos, and immediately erupted in excitement.
The next three hours before show time consisted of hanging out with one of the Hebner’s as he set up the ring, fishing in the lake behind the arena with Jim Neidhart, and running from Earthquake.
The wrestlers were amused by these shy little twins awkwardly walking around the arena before the event. Most stayed in character for our benefit. My Dad hates wrestling and didn’t really understand most of what was going on (such as the Bushwhackers trying to lick his head… he would have NONE of it), but he did recognize the wrestler who’s action figure got more play than all of the other’s combined… Mr. Perfect.
We were way too shy to approach him, so my Dad took the liberty of mentioning to him what big fans of his that we were.
With a huge smile on his face, Hennig walked directly up to us, held out his hand, and asked what our names were. His response…
”Those names are PERFECT… like me.”
He motioned for us to come close, forming a miniature huddle. He looked both of us in the eye and said, “I’ve got a big match tonight against Bret Hart… I shouldn’t have any problems with him, but I need your help guys… you see him wrestle on TV every week… can you give me any tips?”
We peeked around to make sure no one was looking, and then whispered to Perfect that he should watch out for the “Scorpion Deathlock,” and the double axe-handle. Hennig nodded, listening intently to the advice that we gave him. Mr. Perfect thanked us for the advice and told us that he was going to win the match tonight for us.
As the huddle broke, Bret Hart put down his fishing pole and walked up to us. He told us that we shouldn’t be hanging out with “this loser.” Shyly, we stuck up for our hero. Hennig and Hart exchanged words before Hart went back to fishing, telling Hennig that he’ll “See him in the ring.” Hennig patted us on the back, thanking us again for our help. He gave us a wink and a smile and headed back to the arena.
The show itself was right on par with what you’d expect from an early 90’s WWF TV Taping: nearly five hours of the same jobbers getting their asses kicked five or six times in one night. My Dad would shake his head and grumble under his breathe to the Dad next to him what bullshit it was to have the same guy come out still bruised and red from the previous match just to get his ass kicked again.
After nearly three hours of waiting though, the biggest match of the show was upon us: Bret Hart vs. Curt Hennig.
For twenty minutes, Hennig and Bret Hart waged war on one another. The highlight of the match, at least for us, came when Bret Hart came off the top turnbuckle with a double axe-handle. Hennig, having been warned of the dreaded move by a couple of puny marks, sidestepped, countered with a fist to the stomach, and looked over at us. He smiled, pointed to us, and mouthed “Thanks Guys.”
The match ended in a twenty minute draw, but both men came out looking like a million dollars. Bret Hart made his way back towards the dressing room as young girls grabbed onto his arms for dear life. Hennig eventually made his way back to his feet, stopping to grab his patented towel from the ring apron. We were in the second row clapping and cheering in our scrawny voices for Hennig when he began walking towards us with the towel. He smiled, tossed us the towel, and thanked us for the help, noting that he was just toying with "The Hitman" that evening.
Mr. Perfect smiled at my Dad before heading back to the dressing room to pack up and head on to the next city.
I was on an emotional high for weeks after that experience, all thanks to one man going above and beyond the call of duty and being nice to us. He could have easily just said, "I'm a heel, I don't need to pay any attention to these annoying kids," but he didn't. He took five minutes out of his hectic life to make two of his biggest fans happy.
Over the course of the next decade and a half, I gained and lost interest in wrestling more times than be counted, meeting many other wrestlers along the way.
None came close to Hennig. None.
On that particular April evening back in 1990, Curt Hennig was one of the genuinely nicest human beings I’d ever met.
About five minutes ago I received an IM from an old friend that I’ve known for 20 years.. The four words he sent to me left me speechless.
”Mr. Perfect is dead.”
I can't believe it. I honestly can't. I know wrestling is a demanding business, but damnit, this isn't right. Davey Boy Smith... Brian Pillman... Owen Hart... Curt Hennig... it's not supposed to be like this.. Not for these men... not so damn young. Tragic is the only word that can properly describe it. Absolutely, insanely tragic.
At the age of 44, Curt Hennig is dead. I don’t know how, and I don’t know why, but he’s dead. The reasons don’t matter. The causes don’t matter. What matters is the fact that one of the most influential and technically gifted wrestlers the world has ever seen has passed away.
His amazing, natural ability, his arrogant charisma, and his ground-breaking overselling made Hennig a pure joy to watch in the ring. From his legendary feud with Bret Hart, to his RAW classic with Ric Flair, to his career rebirth in WCW, to his final stint on RAW, Curt Hennig has come as close as humanly possible to being damn near Perfect.
He will be missed dearly by those who's lives he touched, whether it be on TV, at an arena, or across the ring. He will be remembered always by those lucky enough to see some of his epic battles.
And he will sorely missed by the family he leaves behind.
Thank you "Mr. Perfect".
Thank you Curt Hennig.
Your blood, sweat, and dedication will never be forgotten...
“You know, everybody needs a change in the weather every once in a while.”
- Curt Hennig, 1997 (Prodigy Chat)
Here's hoping that the weather's beautiful up there buddy..