A little over 17 years ago, a skinny baby-faced kid showed up at the Eddie Sharkey/Terry Fox professional wrestling training camp where I was a trainee. His name was Pete. He had wanted to be a wrestler ever since he had watched it on TV with his mother. They formed a bond, like she had formed while watching wrestling with her father. Pete idolized guys like Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect Curt Henning, Shawn Michaels and others. Through a lot of hard work, a lot of talent, and being the “practice dummy” for some of the bigger guys, that young kid evolved into a man and wrestled all over the upper midwest as “Playboy” Pete Huge.
After all the accolades, road trips, championship belts, and injuries, his career came to an emotional end at the Chanhassen, MN American Legion last night at a farewell show in his honor. While I was just expecting to be there to witness it all, I ended up being invited to say a few words at the beginning of the show along with some of his other peers, and I had the privilege to referee his final match.
It feels almost like the end of an era for me. We won’t be seeing him in the locker room at the next show, in the ring in singles matches or with his Junk Squad tag team partner and close friend Chris Jordan. Now that he is retired, there are really only one or two of my wrestling graduating class that are still active (notably Mitch Paradise). While some of the trainees that we helped through camp afterwards had national and international success and are still working (Austin Aries, Shawn Daivari) the rest have walked away, either voluntarily or because of injury.
While it was sad to see his wrestling career come to an end, he couldn’t have had a better send-off. From the outpouring of support from his fellow wrestlers and fans in the week leading up to the event, to the tribute at the start of the show, to the over-capacity crowd of people who love and respect him.
Pete, I want to thank you as an opponent, a (brief) tag partner, a friend, and a fan. The standing room only crowd was there because you’ve made a difference in all of our lives.