One of my long-time friends in the wrestling business, “Playboy” Pete Huge, passed away last week at the age of 41. He was a fantastic guy and gone way too soon. I still can’t believe it.
I was at the pro wresting camp run by Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox in 1998 when a skinny 19-year-old named Pete showed up for his first day of training. We used to practice our new moves on him since he was so light, but he quickly showed us that he was serious about improving and was willing to put in the time to earn our respect.
For the next three years Pete and I wrestled against each other in singles matches, and a few times we paired up as a tag team. Then at the end of 2001 I stepped away for a very long break.
I didn’t keep in touch for a few years, but ended up attending events as a fan a few years later, and then getting involved again in 2009 when I ended up wrestling in a Royal Rumble style battle royal. I didn’t plan on it, but I always brought my gear with me and the promoter needed another person. Pete was one of the participants in that match and he singled me out to do a spot with him and to make sure that I looked as good as someone who had been out for 8 years could look.
After that, I got into refereeing again, and whenever I walked in the locker room Pete was the first guy to get up off his chair and walk over to shake my hand and say hello.
In 2011, there was a retirement match of Pete’s first ever opponent, Big Brody Hoofer. Hoofer started wrestling camp about the same time as Pete. Pete and Hoofer had feuded for twelve years and this was going to be the last time they were in the ring together. They both asked me to referee their match because I was there when the both started so it seemed fitting to have me there when one of them walked away. It was a real honor.
In the spring of 2016, Pete was forced to retire from wrestling due to a series of concussions that were having lasting effects on his cognitive ability and health. He didn’t want to stop, but his friends, the other wrestlers, and promoters staged an intervention. To give him a proper send-off, they set up one last match for him (a controlled tag match where he didn’t have to get further injured). I was asked to referee that match for the same reasons as above. At the beginning of the night there were several of us that said a few words about his life and career, including Hoofer and several other retired wrestlers who had worked for him. It was really well done, and a subject of a documentary that I’ll try to find a link to later.
After his retirement, Pete remained active with the MIW promotion as a manager and as someone who (in the storyline) was feuding with commissioner Terry Fox and trying to take over the promotion. He continued to be the first one to greet me when I arrived, even when I wasn’t working on the show and had just stopped in to say hi. And he continued to help out the younger guys by offering advice whenever he could. I was hoping to see him at the upcoming show this weekend and that seemed to make the news of his death even harder to hear.
Pete really loved his family and friends and they loved him. He’ll be missed. There is a “celebration of life” event in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping that will help everyone who knew him to ease some of their grief.