Let’s get it out of the way right from the start, it’s Nick Tylwalk, with two L’s. It took me a while to get that, and I don’t know why. Maybe because he’s the one and only Tylwalk I’ve ever met?

And in almost 23 years writing for SLAM! Wrestling / SlamWrestling.net, we have met exactly once, at WrestleMania X-7 in Houston, in 2001.

Vic Zhao, Nick Tylwalk and Aaron “Hank” Henry at WrestleMania in Houston in 2001, in a photo taken by SlamWrestling.net Producer Greg Oliver

When the next time comes to meet up, he won’t be a Slammer, as he is leaving the site for new, fertile ground. The good people at Gannett News have hired him away from us to run its planned wrestling section as a part of the USA Today world. (We had the scoop and had to sit on it!)

Officially, Nick is Senior Manager, Content/Managing Editor, Wrestling Content Initiative at USA Today Sports. (Maybe if we had given him a title?)

I had to dig a bit, but I’m pretty sure Nick’s debut was in a guest column, on March 5, 1999 — WCW starts to “get it” too. (It didn’t make the move to the new servers, but I just re-uploaded it!)

At the time, Nick was at Duke University, and became our weekly Monday Night Nitro reporter. He also became a regular columnist for a while, and we titled it, “Down the Ramp” initially. Some of those are still on the site, but retitled Mat Matters, as an editorial.

Since then, well, what can I say?

He’s covered all the different shows, including Raw and Dynamite, filled in when needed. He’s covered WrestleManias for Slam, and house shows. He’s reviewed stuff, too. Nick brought in a couple of friends to the fold too, and I have threatened him that he’d better not take Dale Plummer with him to USA Today! I’ll miss the dual-PPV reports that Nick and Dale have done for years.

Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer ready for any challengers in Las Vegas in 2021.

The story that stands out the most was Nick talking to Randy Orton in 2008 — Orton trying to be a good man, better bad guy — where he took a comment that Orton made and brought it to Rey Mysterio for an answer. Randy admired Rey’s commitment to family. Good journalism.

Nick himself married (to Diane), had kids (Elizabeth and JT), and shared his love of wrestling — and other geekdom — with them.

Over the years, he’s moved around to different jobs, but had one consistent — writing for SlamWrestling. He’s been a true team player, through all our ups and downs.

We wish him nothing but the best, even if he’s a Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Red Wings fan living in Central Pennsylvania. Stay in touch Nick, or else!

To close, here’s his debut Down the Ramp column, February 15, 2002, dated of course now, but still fun.

Nick who?

When John Powell and John Molinaro gave me the opportunity to become the regular Friday columnist for Slam! Wrestling, I jumped at the chance. I couldn’t think of a better way to express my opinions on a regular basis and I thought of all kinds of ways to make a flashy debut. Some of them didn’t even involve the letters nWo.

Then I had a change of heart. The proper way to start something, after all, is with an introduction. Maybe some of you don’t recognize my name from Nitro and Raw reports or from the rankings updates and pay-per-view previews. Maybe you’re a new reader who is discovering Slam! Wrestling for the first time. The obvious question arises: Why should I care what this guy has to say?

To answer that, I came up with the simplest method possible. It’s a list of statements and anecdotes, a definition of a part of myself through wrestling. Call it a creed of sorts, half resume and half mission statement. With apologies to Nas, I am…

… the kid who begged his parents to refuel at Stop 35 on the way to visit family in Western Pennsylvania. The truck stop had decent food but I knew it as a place to get wrestling magazines. That was my first exposure to names like Ric Flair and Rick Martel, the NWA and the AWA.

… one of four family members to get in trouble for being too loud in our hotel room on a summer trip to Cooperstown. Our crime was our impromptu imitation of Saturday Night’s Main Event.

… the viewer who got hooked on WCW Nitro and discovered ECW on local TV at the Jersey shore. I spent quite a bit of time in various stores on the Wildwood boardwalk hunting for a red and black nWo shirt before I finally landed one.

… the reader who anxiously sent an e-mail to Slam! Wrestling in 1998, hoping my experience in collegiate journalism would be enough to convince Greg Oliver and John Powell to take over the Nitro reports. Imagine my surprise when they said yes.

… the shopper who was stuck for Christmas present ideas for my father and five brothers in 1999. The solution turned out to be tickets to StarrCade, still the best example of all seven of us having a good time that I can remember.

… the first person to sneak wrestling articles into Duke’s student newspaper, first in Entertainment, then in Sports. It’s been done since but I like to think I set the precedent. The DX crotch chop also popped up a lot during my time at the Chronicle but I deny any responsibility for that.

… the owner of a Nintendo 64 game system which I purchased when WrestleMania 2000 was released. I own only one other game: WWF No Mercy.

… the traveller who has journeyed to wrestling events in Washington D.C. and six different states. From the very top row of the Continental Airlines Arena to the upper corner of the Dean Smith Center to the low oxygen heights of the Astrodome, I can give you the lowdown on a lot of cheap seats.

… an employee of K*B Toys, where I get a 50 percent discount. The vast majority of my purchases have been Jakks Pacific WWF action figures, though I don’t have space for any more in my room.

… the guy who has been writing for this site for three and a half years in various capacities, all of it for free. That’s called doing it for the love. I like to think I’ve contributed in some small way to making Slam! Wrestling the entertaining, insightful place it is today.

I didn’t present the list above to prove I’m the most knowledgeable wrestling fan in the world, as I’ll be the first to admit that I still have a lot to learn about the business. You’ll definitely never hear me claim to be the best writer. But if I got you to nod to yourself in agreement or think back to a similar story from your own life, then that’s the bond I’m looking for, writer to reader and fan to fan. Here’s hoping that will be enough to keep you coming back to check this space every Friday.

TOP PHOTO: Nick Tylwalk, New Japan superstar Kazuchika Okada and Nick’s son, JT, in April 2019. Facebook photo