Monday, June 3, 2013

Thank you, Chris

Me & Chris Hagstrom @ his last Pro Wrestling Collision show
Photo courtesy: My 1-2-3 Cents 
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

This blog is long overdue.  For those who have followed my adventures this past month, you know I've been dealing with poor Internet connections.  That has made blogging nearly impossible to do, but we seem to be up and running now.  So I just wanted to say "thank you" publicly to a friend of mine, Chris Hagstrom.

I first met Chris via Facebook and Twitter three years ago.  While we were both in Phoenix at the same time for Wrestlemania 26, we never had the chance to meet face to face.  Nearly a year later, Chris sent me a message, asking if I'd be interested in helping him with a project for his video students at Southern Illinois University.  That project was for his students to produce a wrestling show for television, complete with color commentary and play-by-play.  Chris and I would be filling those roles.

Since it had been my lifelong dream to work in the world of wrestling, of course I jumped at the chance.  Because that first show was recording over the weekend of Wrestlemania 27 and I was in Atlanta, Chris and I met later and did the commentary in post production.  That first day was rough, as I'll admit I didn't know many of the wrestlers on the All American Pro Wrestling roster at the time.  Like I mentioned, I thought this was just for the class project, until Chris informed me of his idea to take AAPW Collision to local TV, not just any station, but the one I was (and still am) working for.

AAPW Commentary team
I thought it would be a hard sell, as public perception of wrestling isn't the greatest.  However, things took off and AAPW Collision debuted on WSIL on September 3, 2011.  By that point we had had two live-to-tape shows under our belts and I was getting into the groove of things.  Eventually Chris was named promoter of the company and worked very, very hard to find a permanent home for AAPW.  That home would be Black Diamond Harley Davidson.

Chris also worked very, very hard to keep the program on the air.  I don't know how much he spent through the years, but I do know it was a significant amount of money.  He did it all not to become a rich wrestling promoter.  He wanted to share his passion and love for wrestling with others who had the same interest in it.  Along the way, we became friends, and others got involved in the process, including Adam Testa.  The three of us nicknamed ourselves the Brain Trust.  We eventually started a radio program on AM 1150 Monster Radio called From the Rafters Radio along with Chad and Aaron Heller.  This was another Hagstrom funded endeavour and I can't thank him enough for that too.

The Brain Trust with Cross, Generico, PAC, & Cabana
AAPW Main Event
AAPW Collision aired every other week, and more fans started supporting the product.  That also attracted more help, guys like Drew Robbins and Nathan Norman became regulars on show days, which lasted 16 hours (or more).  Chris was there the whole time, rolling up his sleeves, hauling the steel and boards for the ring, making sure the audio and video connections were hooked up right, and tearing things down at the end of the night.

Long story short, without Chris Hagstrom, I would have never had the opportunity to live my dream.  I would have never got to be a wrestling play-by-play guy for two great independent promotions.  I would have never had the chance to step into the ring and have a match (which I won, thanks to Chris and Jay Spade), and more importantly, I wouldn't have become friends with a guy who is one of the most selfless people I've ever met.

Back in May, Chris stepped away from Pro Wrestling Collision, a company he helped create and bankroll as well.  It's time for Chris to focus on his personal life and starting a family.  I wish him well and will miss him on show days, but I know that our friendship hasn't gone down for the three count.  (Cheesy, yes, but I had to tie it up with a wrestling reference)

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