When Lance Cade died on August 13, 2008, Trevor Murdoch lost far more than a tag team partner. He lost his best friend, someone that his children called Uncle Lance.
“WWE thought they were putting two guys together so they could make a million dollars. What they didn’t know is they were putting two guys together that became best friends. And it breaks my heart every day,” Murdoch choked as he broke down in tears, “it’s hard to talk about it now, man.”
But talk about it Murdoch did.
In an exclusive hour-and-a-half conversation with SLAM! Wrestling, Murdoch shared his memories of Cade, and talked about the addictions that ended his friend’s life at just 29 years of age.
“My partner’s been gone three and a half weeks now, and you’re really the first person I’ve spoken to just for the simple fact that I don’t want anybody thinking that I’m trying to capitalize on my best friend’s tragedy, and my best friend not being here,” Murdoch said. “Because I would trade anything in this world besides my wife and children to bring that man back here, and for him to be here with his kids. It is a tragedy and it is something where personally I’m struggling with Jesus right now, because I really don’t understand what the point is, taking a good man like that.”
Murdoch and Cade were teamed in World Wrestling Entertainment from 2005 to 2008, and held the WWE Raw tag team titles on three occasions. Neither have been on WWE TV since 2008, though Cade was briefly re-hired in late 2009.
Now running a bar in Eldon, Missouri, and wrestling part-time on weekends, Murdoch (real name Bill Mueller) insisted that his thoughts not be cleaned up. As he was on TV, Murdoch is “country by nature” and his colourful twang comes through.
“My kids called him uncle. He’d come down for Christmas parties. When we were in Omaha, where he’s from, I would go have dinner with him and his sister and his grandma,” Murdoch said. “When we were in San Antonio, I’d stay at his house and we’d have dinner there. He would show me San Antonio and I’d meet his buddies. And when we were in Missouri, [we were] always hanging out.” In Eldon, Cade would head down to Harley Race’s wrestling school, where Murdoch learned the ropes, to workout with the students.
When Cade died, Murdoch was awoken by his wife, Amanda, and fellow Race trainee Darin Waid, who is also the manager at Murdoch’s restaurant. His first thought was that something had happened to Race.
“Nothing has happened to Harley, something has happened to Lance.”
“You just woke me up, what the fuck?”
Murdoch grabbed his cell phone, and saw that there was a text message from Shawn Michaels, who trained Cade and was a friend of both men, telling him to call.
“I called him. I said, ‘Shawn’ — I don’t cuss around Shawn, I try to be respectful — ‘what’s all this shit I hear about Lance dying?’ He said, ‘Kid, I’m sorry, but he’s gone.'”
Michaels was a rock, helping him deal with his grief, said Murdoch. “It was so comforting to know that a man of his stature was just as brokenhearted as I was over this, and that I had somebody there that could understand and could do his best to try to make this as comfortable as possible.
“Shawn went completely above and beyond, out of his way, in this whole situation, not once worrying about the way he feels. The fact of the matter is… one of his boys is gone. At the funeral, at the visitation, it was very evident, the impact that Lance had made on his life and on my life. You don’t understand how important somebody is to you and how much of an impact they make on your life until they’re not there.”
Murdoch finds himself reaching for the phone to call him “all the time.”
“I’ve got pictures of us all over my house. My son has action figures of him.”
The death of Uncle Lance has left a huge hole in the whole family’s world, said Murdoch.
“It broke their hearts. How do you explain to a four-year-old and an 11-year-old that a 29-year-old man with not an ounce of fat on himself has gone to heaven? My son, God love him, he doesn’t quite understand that we put his body in the ground but his soul is in heaven. How do you explain to your four-year-old son that he’s still alive in his heart?
“Some parents might say you don’t take your kids into something like that. In my opinion, at the end of the day, when they get older, my kids want closure. It is difficult for him to understand it, and for us as parents to explain that to him. But I’m hoping that as he gets older, he’ll be able to understand what I mean, that he is living in your heart and in heaven, and he’s around us all the time.”
The funeral didn’t have many industry people. “There was me, there was Shawn, there was Charlie Haas and there was [referee] Marty Elias. To be honest with you, those were the four most important people that should have been there.”
MEETING A NEW PARTNER
Struggling with his emotions on many occasions, Murdoch trudged on to tell the intertwined tale of Cade and Murdoch.
Murdoch was wrestling as Trevor Rhodes, a graduate of Race’s wrestling school, when he got a break to work a WWE dark match. John Laurinaitis and Chris Benoit took notice of the youngster who had previously competed briefly in ECW and TNA as Stan Dupp, and he was hired, with the intention to send him to the developmental system.
At the same time, a pitch had been made to re-utilize Lance McNaught, who was wrestling as Garrison Cade, into something more. The idea was that Cade would team with a truck driver-type, someone who fought for the fun of it. Kevin Fertig, who would later become the “vampire” Kevin Thorn, was a top candidate for the role, but Laurinaitis saw something in Murdoch and asked Cade to choose.
“Lance manned up. He was closer to Kevin, he was tight with Kevin, he had worked with him down in developmental. … He said, ‘I think me and Trevor would work better together,'” recalled Murdoch. “That’s how Cade and Murdoch came to fruition.”
The new team was pushed almost from the get-go. “We weren’t expecting it at all,” admitted Murdoch, who found himself facing a steep learning curve.
“I did it as old school as possible. I never went through developmental, so I had no idea how WWE operations worked, how the game is played to a certain extent; like any job, there’s ways to go about it to make your life easier, there’s ways to get dangerous — you’ve got to figure out how to play the game,” he said. “Well, Lance and the guys who had been through developmental had slowly but surely been introduced to that, learned how to play the game. I was kind of playing follow the leader a little bit with Lance on the political end of it.”
The differences in their physiques and attitudes in the ring made for an interesting, memorable pairing.
“From bell to bell, him and I were always right on point, always on the same level. That was one thing I appreciated about Lance is the fact that he understood me as a character and as a wrestler, and appreciated me for those aspects right there,” Murdoch said. “A lot of people out there are very judgmental of the fact, ‘Oh, I know why Trevor Murdoch didn’t make it, because he was fat and out of shape and all that.’
“Lance knew that I always had his back, and I was always there. It did not matter what I looked like, because the character itself needed a guy that looked like me. Don’t get me wrong, I may be sweetening this up and just covering up the fact that I’m just lazy and hated the fact that I hated being in the gym. But the fact that I did look the way I did helped my character because I wasn’t trying to come across as an athletic pro wrestler. I was trying to come across as an aggressive, athletic, mean, brawling, bad motherfucker.
“Lance understood that, and Lance respected me on that side. He never seen me being as big as him being a negative in the tag team; he never seen me not being as jacked or cut up as a lot of the guys as a negative to the team, because he knew from bell to bell that I could hang with him and anybody else and that I had his back, and that I brought other things to the team that most guys don’t do nowadays.”
On the reverse, Murdoch thought Cade performed his role perfectly.
“I understood him as a character, because he was a pretty jacked-up 280-pound gorilla. I’m going to go ahead and concede to the fact that he’s a pretty motherfucker. Pardon my language, but he was. I know I talk about him like a gay lover, but he was my best friend.”
HITTING THE TOP IN WWE
Whether paired with pretty boy tag teams like Jeff and Matt Hardy or Brian Kendrick and Paul London, or with tougher teams like Cryme Tyme or the Highlanders, Murdoch and Cade had a plan in mind.
“We went out there and made people believe that we were brutalizing people. That when we were hitting people that there just was no question,” he said. “For us to stand out, we wanted to brutalize individuals … ‘You know, I don’t like those guys. I think that Murdoch guy is fat, and I think that Cade guy couldn’t talk if somebody gave him a script to read. Bottom line at the end of the day is that them guys beat the shit out of people.’
“That’s how we wanted to stand out, was that every time you saw us get in the ring, every time you paid that money for a ticket, or you took that time out to sit at home to watch us on TV, that you knew you got a fight, no matter if it was five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes. No matter what it was, you knew at least that you got to see a fight.”
Murdoch said that their opponents would always welcome the chance to get back into the ring with them because he and Cade were always there for the match. It’s also why he felt their perfect foes were the Hardys and London and Kendrick.
“Those guys would do whatever they could, even if it took us degrading them. They did what they needed for the match. Then they knew when it came time to give it back to them, that we would,” he said. “As much as those guys hated it, they knew that we only had six minutes but it was quality not quantity. At the end of the day, those matches were far better, in my opinion, than most of the stuff on the program for the night. Those were the guys that cared about wrestling.
“Lance and I, you talk about the Hardys, I guarantee you in any interview you hear with Lance, he’ll tell you the Hardys were the best time of our career. I’ll tell you the same thing. The only people really second in that is Paul and Brian, and Shawn and Triple H. And the only reason that Shawn and Triple H are bouncing around in that second position is because we only had six weeks with them. In the wrestling world, that’s a blink of an eye.”
Cade and Murdoch held the World tag team titles three times, starting in the fall of 2005, with a final run two years later.
The duo spent so much time together that Murdoch’s wife referred to Cade as “The Other Woman.”
“Ninety per cent of the time, it was just him and I. If I got to a town before he did, I’d wait for him and we’d get a rental car. If he got there before me, he would wait for me,” said Murdoch. “It was a strong partnership, and not just a partnership, but a friendship.
“When we said we were the last of the old-school tag teams, it was a shoot, because him and I, literally, we shared hotel rooms together, we shared rental cars together. When you seen one, you seen the other. That was another little running joke in the locker room, if you took on one of the guys, you knew you’d have to take on the other one no matter what it was. Lance and I would work it out; ‘Why the hell was I mad at that guy?’ We worked it out on the back end of it, but initially, in this business, a dog-eat-dog world, he knew that I had his back, and I knew that he had mine.”
Only a few were ever allowed into their world; referee Marty Elias was one, and Cade’s trainer, Shawn Michaels, was another.
The Heartbreak Kid was also a mentor and sounding board. “There’s certain things that Lance and I would do on the road, and there’s certain things you’d do on the road with Shawn Michaels in your car,” explained Murdoch. “And it wasn’t like — and I’m not trying to name drop — but when you’re with Shawn, it’s not like Shawn said, ‘You can’t cuss, you can’t smoke, you can’t chew.’ It was never like that. It was out of straight personal respect from Lance and I, especially because Shawn would cuss every now and then too. It was just out of personal respect. We didn’t want to put him in that environment.
“He had it everywhere else when he was outside. At least when he got in the car, he had a couple of guys who didn’t always, ‘F this, F that.’ Shawn always was open with us about what he used to do, and why he used to do what he did. You talk about a guy that really saved our careers on numerous occasions, and it wasn’t by going to speak to Vince or Johnny or anybody else, it was because Lance and I knew we could come and vent to him and he could explain things from the inside out. He wasn’t stooging anybody off, but he’d been with the company long enough that he knows what’s going on, he knows how things work.”
Murdoch launched into a story where Michaels made a difference. He and Cade thought they were ready to move up the card.
“We went to Shawn going, ‘Okay, we’re going to go walk into Vince’s office, right fucking now. We don’t care who’s in there. We’re going to tell him what we want to do. We’re going to tell him what we’re going to do, because this is what we deserve, and this is what we know we can do, and this is how he’s going to make money with us.’
“Well, then Shawn would go, ‘Listen, you idiots, I just overheard them talking about you guys and the Hardys. … You need to chill out now, dumbass. Just be quiet. You guys are hard workers, they’re noticing it.’ He would tell us, ‘Believe you me, it’s not because I’m in there telling them, they’re seeing it for themselves.'”
The bond between Murdoch and Cade is decidedly old-school, which is how Murdoch thought it was supposed to be.
“I’ve seen a lot of tag teams that don’t even work a tenth as good as Lance and I, because they didn’t get along a tenth as well as Lance and I did behind the scenes,” he said.
The getting along extended into the breakup of the team in 2008, with the intention that Murdoch head to Smackdown as a country singing babyface, and Cade stay on Raw, aligning with Chris Jericho.
They had been warned that the split was coming, and plotted to get each other over as best as they could. “I’m the one that spoke up and said, ‘Hey, listen, man, just pound me down. I need some sympathy as a babyface.’ Nowadays, a lot of guys think they’ve got to be cool to be a babyface. Yes, I agree. But in my opinion, the people that actually care about the babyfaces are people that you can actually emotionally have emotional contact with. And who doesn’t understand your buddy turning on you? You’re trying something different and he turns on you. I’m telling you, if you go back and watch that, brother, do the slo-mo, watch that big, friggin’ gorilla crack me right in the head. But we both understood, and he understood too, that he knew that that would get him good, solid believable heat, leading into that thing with Jericho.”
Cade was unable to split Murdoch open the hard way, with his knuckles. “After we got in the back, I’d never seen my best friend ask me so many times if I was alright. Then I think it freaked him out when I looked at him and went, ‘I’m okay,’ knowing that big fucking gorilla gave it his best shot. Then I started poking him, ‘You hit like a girl. You couldn’t even split me open. I stood there. You puss.’ ‘Oh, you know I …’ ‘I felt it you motherfucker. I know you were hitting me hard.'”
However, when Murdoch’s impromptu singing didn’t go as well as planned — he had no formal training and was winded from the bout, and the announcers did little to get it over — any feud evaporated.
“They didn’t really let the fact that we were three-time World tag team champions, that we were probably the most viewed tag team, the most frequently-seen tag team they’ve had in the 2000s, in my opinion, and certainly in the four years we were there together. We really felt we had enough, the people knew us well enough that we deserved to have a good, long split up. Certainly, at the very least, given us what they gave Cryme Tyme — they gave them a leather strap match! Are you kidding me?”
The singles push on the individual brands was to be a step on their common dream, said Murdoch.
“Lance and I always talked about wanting that Intercontinental title. It was always kind of our personal dream, for both of us — and we knew we couldn’t have it at the same time, we both knew we couldn’t be a tag team if one of us had that. But it was always a personal goal because that Intercontinental title was like the workers’ title. Even back in the day when Hogan had the heavyweight title, the workers, the guys that carried the show, were the Intercontinental title holders. Especially when Shawn had that title. A lot of guys that could work their tails off carried that title.”
Instead, Murdoch opted to head home, asking for his release. He’s been working the indy scene regularly, and was briefly in TNA as “The Outlaw” Jethro Holliday.
BEGINNING OF THE END
Cade was at Jericho’s side for a few weeks, and then an incident on a plane resulted in his release in October 2008.
On the red-eye flight out of California to San Antonio, Cade was suffering from a sore shoulder. According to Murdoch, Cade “took a couple of Somas, and he passed out, and he did what he would normally do, knowing that he was going to be on the airplane for three hours — he buckled himself in, put his sunglasses on, put everything up, and lay his head up against the plane to go to sleep to wake up and be home, landing in San Antonio and to be home. Well, what happened was, he had his foot pop out into the aisle. The stewardess who tried to get his foot back in realized she couldn’t wake him up. Lillian Garcia is sitting next to him. Lance had chew in his mouth, and he had some chew running out a little bit from his mouth. And she freaked out and said he was having a seizure.”
The need to sleep on a plane is pretty common, said Murdoch. Often, wrestlers head right to the airport after a show rather than heading to a hotel for just a few hours.
“If he was being irresponsible, he’d have done it in the airport. No. He waited until he was on the plane. His shoulder was bothering him. He waited until he was in a situation where he knew that he could sleep and not bother anybody, not be in any danger. And someone took it and blew it way out of proportion. What happened was, he told me, he woke up in the hospital. The medicine that he took did its job. He took it to pass out and wake up when he landed in San Antonio. But everybody took that situation and blew it out of proportion. Now, you look at it and go, did they really blow it out of proportion, yes. That situation, they blew it out of proportion.”
Murdoch continued. “It didn’t deserve the response it got. It didn’t deserve him being released. But Lance also understood WWE’s position and the fact that they had to pull a plane back into the terminal, it was a very public situation and WWE had to protect themselves. He understood that.”
Murdoch can admit that it was a warning sign for Cade’s addiction to pain medication. “Lance told me, ‘Trevor, it scared me. It was horrible.'”
Sent home, Cade was eventually re-hired in the fall of 2009, but released in the spring of 2010.
It is a story of missed opportunity.
“I totally think he should have been a bigger star,” said Murdoch. “I think an addiction took control of his life, and he fought that addiction, and fought that addiction, and did everything he could.”
Not one to throw stones at glass houses, Murdoch admitted that he has used pain pills on occasion, as well as marijuana, to combat the difficulties of his profession. Like Cade, he has used steroids, but unlike Cade, it wasn’t part of his gimmick to look cut.
Yes, they did talk about the pain pill addiction, said Murdoch.
“We talked frequently about it, but it also got to a point where Lance didn’t want to tell me either,” he said. “And I knew what was going on.”
Like many fans, Murdoch admitted being slightly jaded towards the deaths in the wrestling business. “If it would have been anybody else, it would not have surprised me, because it’s a very easy way of relaxing, taking pills.”
The pain pills are a way to escape, he said. “It doesn’t start out to be an addiction, it doesn’t start out that I’m taking this to get a buzz. I wasn’t with Lance when he first started taking pills the very first time, but when I first met Lance, he was against marijuana, he would take a few pain pills here and there, but he felt very, very against it because of all the previous things that happened in the business. After a while, it was easier to do that, and at the time, there was no Wellness Policy. It was easier to do that than to drink, because you didn’t have the after affect, you could do it anytime, and you could do it and nobody else would know.”
Steroids weren’t a secret either.
“Okay, what I can say is that when he was with me, before the Wellness Program, he did what he had to do to get big. There’s only so much food and protein can do for you, okay? And he would have told you that, that he was taking anabolic steroids. In my opinion, that was, how can I put this, that use, and such a long, prolonged use, is what weakened his heart for him to eventually pass away.”
The Wellness Policy, instituted by World Wrestling Entertainment in 2005 after Eddie Guerrero’s death, was a positive step, said Murdoch.
“When he was in there this last time, he was on a straight path, he wasn’t taking anything, because you can’t. That’s the thing. If you are taking steroids, you have to know exactly when those tests, when you’re going to be tested. There is no, even Shawn and Triple H when we were there, they didn’t know when they were getting tested — and those are top guys,” he said. “Even [Triple H] would be like, ‘Holy shit, I’m on the list today.’ Well, why shouldn’t you be? Yeah, right, you should be on the list. The thing was you had to know exactly when that stuff was going to happen for you to take the juice, and if you did take it, it would have to be such a small amount that you’d have to make sure it was out of your system. That was the one thing that Lance was very proud of the fact that he never failed a drug test. Never.”
The evidence that the Wellness Policy is working is the difference in size of the workers today compared to then.
“Look at everybody, seriously, from before the Wellness Program, even before Batista peeled out of there — he’d always been cut, but even him, he’s shrunk. It may not look good on the WWE in that it shows you how many guys were on the gas, but it can also show you the effects of the Wellness Program and what it is doing for the company. But just like anything else, there are ways to get around things. I can’t say, because the toxicology reports haven’t come back yet, but I know with Lance out of the company, I can almost bet you 100-to-1 that Lance was back on the gas. And I’m not saying this to badmouth my friend or my brother. I’m saying that you cannot lie about certain things, and that toxicology report is going to come out.”
With Cade heading to Japan for the final few months of his life, there was no one there to supervise him, to reign him in, said Murdoch. “He didn’t have anybody. I think that’s maybe one of the bad things about him leaving WWE was the fact that at least when he was with WWE, he was held, he couldn’t take all the stuff that he wanted, he couldn’t do all the stuff that he wanted. It was very restrictive, which in my opinion, if he was still held to those same restrictions, he might be alive today. Now, it may have prolonged it, but it also might have saved his life. I don’t know.”
THE WWE — AND LINDA MCMAHON’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE WRESTLERS
In the conversation, Murdoch is neither an advocate or an apologist for World Wrestling Entertainment, his once and, likely, future employer.
“What no one wants to understand is that no one forced me and Lance to come to that company, no one forced us to work the shows. The only thing we ever asked out of Johnny Ace was more work. And he’ll tell you that for a fact. We didn’t ask for more money. We didn’t ask for better airplane rides, better cars. We asked for more dates, we wanted more dates, work us as much as we could, because we wanted everybody to know that we were willing to put in the time, were willing to put in the effort, to be the stars that we know we could have been. And I still can be, and he could have been. There was never at one time anybody telling us, ‘You need to get back in here, Lance, or you’re going to lose a job.’ You feel obligated. You’re talking about guys, number one, Lance and I loved the business, but we also look back at the fact that the guys before us worked 10 times more than we did, had it harder than we did, got hurt more than we did, and they still made it. We wanted to do it the hard way, not bitching, pissing and moaning. Go out there and work your butt off. If you get hurt, suck it up and go out there and man up as much as you can. Don’t do anything to ruin your career. But with Lance, part of him thought he could go on and he did. Just the fact of the matter is that he was using pain medication to cover that up.”
With former WWE CEO Linda McMahon running in the race to be a U.S. Senator from Connecticut this fall, Cade’s death at such a young age has been used as fuel by her opponents, including an old colleague of Cade’s — Chris Nowinski.
“Oh, please, let me make a comment — and you can quote me on this. Okay, I understand that there’s people in this business that want to protect or defend this business. He is one of those individuals that really only knows about a tenth of what he’s talking about,” Murdoch began.
“To be personally honest with you, Lance thought Chris Nowinski — I’m trying to be respectful, I don’t want to sound like a backwards redneck — but he didn’t have the highest opinion of Chris Nowinski. We’re talking about a guy who milked a concussion for three or four years, and was getting a paycheck. It’s really hard for guys who are going out there, busting their hind ends every single night to have great matches and to have that guy talk to you like he’s on the same level as you.
“Yes, Chris, congratulations, you did do something that I will never do, and that’s go to Harvard and graduate. But that does not make you a wrestler and that certainly doesn’t make you a fan of pro wrestling. Lance didn’t talk to him about his demons with addictions. And the times that he did spend with him, it was in developmental and they weren’t tagged up very often.”
Murdoch does his best to pull in his venom. “I don’t want to sound like an idiot on this, and I don’t want to bury Chris Nowinski. But the thing is, he needs to be more honest in trying, in my opinion, he’s speaking up to try to get his name out there because of Linda McMahon.”
Cade’s father, Harley McNaught, was also in the news, protesting Linda McMahon’s assertion that she had only met Cade on a couple of occasions. His tag team partner agrees with Cade’s father that they did meet Linda McMahon on many occasions, but that hardly meant that she knew them.
“When we met Linda, we were sitting there hanging out. Linda knew us by our first name, but I guarantee you, she couldn’t tell you our last names. You have to look at the fact that that’s her job, and the McMahons are very good at their jobs.”
“When we did talk, it was very vague conversation. ‘Are you boys healthy?’ ‘Yes, ma’am.’ It was like talking to your aunt that you only see once a year, because her job was at the office, it was in Connecticut. Unless she came to the TVs, we didn’t see her. Now I understand, I’m not denouncing what Harley McNaught said. What I am saying is that there are other ways to look at it. I think Harley was just brokenhearted, and I think when Linda said she might have met [Lance] once or twice, he felt disrespected, knowing that she had met him more than once or twice. But you have to please understand that those encounters weren’t anything in my opinion memorable. Does that make any sense? She did but didn’t have a direct influence on our career, you know what I’m saying? When it came to wrestling, I wasn’t calling Linda, when it came to my character, I wasn’t calling Linda. When it came to my money, I wasn’t calling Linda. And neither was Lance. It was literally, ‘Hi, how are you? It’s a pleasure to meet you.’ A very vague interaction.”
The wrestling business cannot be solely blamed for Cade’s death, said Murdoch.
“I think ultimately, at the end of the day, is that Lance was a man and he made his own personal decisions. But if you look back at the way things went in certain situations we were in, like when he hurt his shoulder when Bob Holly threw him over the top rope, dislocated his shoulder. He took six weeks off. It wasn’t because WWE asked him to come back early. It was because he wanted to come back. It was because, in this business, okay, you want to be number one. If you want to keep your spot, you have to keep working it, you have to be there for it. It’s not WWE, it’s not any one company. It’s just like in any other wrestling company. If you want your spot, you’ve got to be there to keep it. If you’re not there, there’s somebody waiting right there behind you that is willing to make sure that you look as bad as possible to get that spot.”
In his last interview, Cade admitted that he came back earlier than he should have.
“He got to a point where he was taking pain pills to cover up his pain, not to continue, but to cover up,” said Murdoch. “Lance would tell you himself that he didn’t want anyone to know that it was as bad as it was. He didn’t want to lose his spot. When he had an opportunity to have surgery, he chose not to, because he didn’t want to lose his spot. It wasn’t that Johnny Ace was coming up to us, it wasn’t that Vince was coming up to us, it wasn’t even Linda coming up, there wasn’t anybody coming up to us going, ‘Trevor, if Lance doesn’t show up in the next couple of weeks, we’re going to have to put you on the shelf and you have to sit home.’ It wasn’t that at all. The fact of the matter is that we’ve got to make money, and you need to work as much as you possibly can to make as much money as you can, because you never know when the train is going to stop. You never know, for no reason, you’re going to get called on July 3rd, and they’re going to tell you that they have nothing for you, and they’re going to execute their 90-day clause.”
Having given his friend’s death a lot of thought, Murdoch chooses to dwell on some of the positive memories.
“This Earth was a better place when he was on it, and the wrestling business, the locker room, was better when he was in it, this business was better for him to be in it. He wasn’t a fan when Stone Cold Steve Austin came out flipping people off; he was a fan from the time he could open up his eyes and he watched his first wrestling match. He loved the business, man.
“And every time you went out there, if you were wrestling with him, or hell, when you were tagging with him, your boots had better have been laced up tight because that 280-pound gorilla was a perfectionist. He didn’t care if it was five minutes, two minutes, 15 or 20, he wanted to make sure that when we went out there, everything, we were working for the number one company in the world, and he felt like everybody should be on point, everybody should have been the best. When you didn’t step up to that, he had no problem letting you know that.
“The thing is, Lance gave you the time to get better. Lance understood that not everybody got to be lucky enough to be trained by Shawn Michaels. I’m not throwing his name around, Shawn’s good at what he does, Shawn’s the best at what he does, to be absolutely honest with you. And if you were lucky enough to get trained by him, wouldn’t you take it? I got trained by Harley Race, one of the toughest men in his time. Hell, one of the toughest men today if you met him, if you hung out with him. Not everybody was lucky enough to be in the spot that Lance and I were in, and we understood that.
“The only thing we didn’t understand was when you’re given the opportunity to get better, and you’re given a place to go and learn, and get better, if you didn’t take that advantage, after a while, Lance and I started going into business for ourselves and did what we had to do to make sure the match was great. If you couldn’t keep up, if you didn’t want to put the effort in, if you didn’t love it the way we did, well then we did what we had to do to make sure the match was as good as it could be.”
With their decidedly old-school attitudes towards putting in time and not letting anything hold them back, Cade and Murdoch earned the respect of the agents and other veterans in the locker room — something that Murdoch said was important to them.
When things didn’t go their way, they didn’t vent publicly; they had each other.
“Him and I could go and get into the car or get back to the hotel, and him and I could tell each other, ‘Jesus Christ, this sucks.’ It was never, we never had to complain to anybody because we had each other as buddies, as friends, to say at least I’m not doing this by myself. And that was something I will always value,” Murdoch said. “As a man, as a friend, I will always be missing Lance. That I know that it’s something I will never have with anybody else again, that is going to be the one thing that I’m going to miss more than anything, is that my buddy, no matter what, has got my back.”
In conclusion, Murdoch’s life is greater for having Cade a part of it, and far emptier now that he is gone.
“He’s one of the few men in this world that I can say I love. And I’m not scared to tell anybody that I loved that man as a brother, as a friend, as an uncle, as an individual. He was good people. He loved his kids, he loved his wife. No matter what turmoil was there, he loved his mother, his father and his sister. He loved this business.”
Top Photo: Lance Cade by Mike Lano, [email protected]
Greg Oliver has been writing about pro wrestling since 1985, and listening to Trevor talk about Lance was one of the most heartbreaking, difficult interviews he has ever done.