As you all might have heard already, CANOE said goodbye to some of our colleagues last Friday. As the result of some cost-cutting measures, a handful of faithful employees and good people were laid off in the latest round of cuts. Among them were SLAM! Wrestling’s Greg Oliver and Stephen Laroche.
Greg Oliver is more than just a co-worker to me. He is a treasured friend and will always be my “partner in crime.” We have been through so much together in running SLAM! Wrestling. They are experiences and memories I will cherish for the rest of my days.
SLAM! Wrestling grew out of our friendship together. Once we both discovered we were life-long wrestling fans in the early days of CANOE, the wheels started turning and the ideas began flowing. Though it took months of arm-twisting and convincing, we got the greenlight from the “Powers That Be” at CANOE to launch the site. It has grown well beyond what we or anyone else ever imagined it could be.
As serious journalists, SLAM! Wrestling become a source of great pride for us. It is quite a unique experience to see something you created out of thin air take on a life and status of its own. To be recognized by the industry and the mainstream media is an honour but I know I speak for Greg when I say that none of that comes close to matching the respect and loyalty we garnered from wrestling fans here in Canada and around the world. That is why and who we created SLAM! Wrestling for in the first place.
From the very beginning, it was our goal to cover pro-wrestling as legitimately as possible. No “marking out”. No damn kayfabe bulls–t. No letting our status as fans interfere with our objectivity, even if we took heat from the fans…which we have quite often. Looking back, I’d like to think we did an honest job and definitely had a hell of a lot of fun doing it…most of the time.
Greg forever will be the heart and soul of SLAM! Wrestling. A virtual walking-talking encyclopedia on the sport, Greg’s passion for pro-wrestling knows no bounds. It is impossible to calculate the number of unpaid hours he put into SLAM! Wrestling. The Canadian Wrestling Hall Of Fame was his pride and joy. A master organizer and workhorse, he was the backbone of the site in every sense of the word. Plus, he worked with the many, many freelance writers out there who contributed pieces to the site. He also launched the recent Question and Answer page.
Working on SLAM! Wrestling without Greg being directly involved any more, will not be the same or as much fun for me. I have lost more than friend. I have lost a person with whom I shared and achieved some of my hopes and dreams with. Our dream became a reality and for that he has my undying gratitude. I will never be able to repay him for his contributions to the site or our partnership here at SLAM! Wrestling. All I can do is offer my deepest thanks for daring to dream with me and for being a tried and true friend.
Professionally, I am a better person for having worked alongside Greg Oliver. SLAM! Wrestling itself will assuredly not be what it once was without him. That is the honest and cruel truth. When he left last Friday a part of SLAM! Wrestling went with him never to return or to be replaced. He will be missed here more than anyone will ever know.
Stephen Laroche (“Nuke” as we affectionately called him) was a key contributor to the site. Though he wrote many great stories for us, much of his work was behind-the-scenes and not noticeable to the average reader. An unsung hero, so to speak. Laroche was somebody you could always count on to come through for you and never shied away from an assignment no matter how big or small it was. I remember once Stephen called up Ric Flair on a whim for a story he was working on. Much to Stephen’s surprise, Flair himself actually answered the phone. “Nuke” couldn’t stop talking about the incredible experience even days afterwards. It was a delight to see. A “fan” of the site before he even began working at CANOE, Stephen’s genuine enthusiasm for pro-wrestling and all the work he did for us will never be forgotten.
At the time that I write this it is unknown where SLAM! Wrestling will go from here or what contributions Greg or Stephen will be making (if any) in the future. SLAM! Wrestling is not a part of our job descriptions, but instead an extra that we have done for years out of love of professional wrestling; it was an extra that got better and better as we got more and more readers who constantly expressed their appreciation for our hard work. Its future is something we, the remaining office staff at SLAM! Wrestling, must discuss in the days and weeks ahead.