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28 November 2005

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So, the story is that Nick Dinsmore, or Eugene as he will probably always be known, has allegedly been sent to rehab after he collapsed following a match in Manchester.

I saw that match, and he certainly had more energy than I’ve seen from him in a while. Working an 80’s comedy match with Rob Conway, he made me smile. Which is good going, considering I’ve despised the character since the second it appeared. I’m sure you know my feelings about Eugene – I always considered it an offensive, locker room impression, which does the WWE no favours in the legitimate business world Vince craves so much.

A few months ago, I predicted that Dinsmore wouldn’t last long. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The character is valued. So is Dinsmore’s playing of it. They wouldn’t have (allegedly) checked him into a rehab centre, if he wasn’t safe. In today’s cost cutting era, any excuse…

If he is in thrall to some addiction, no-one will be too surprised. After all, wrestling has an unsavoury history of substance abuse. It’s set up beautifully for that tender trap – short bursts of energy, matched by an imperviousness to pain, coupled with a back-breaking schedule, all marinated in that eventual disappointment called fame.

I know that substances have a tendency to be available in a party atmosphere, but there are some wrestlers, strange as it may seem, who just don’t fall prey to an addiction. And I think I know why. It’s all to do with pride, prestige and the love of the crowd. Yes, Sally Field was right, but only about this. It is all about the love of the people, those fickle beings – they provide the feelgood factor, they are the reason to haul yourself out of bed and into the ring every night. That feelgood factor is what stops the rot. The allegations of the partying that 80’s icons Flair and Piper did is legendary, but neither of them fell into a crippling addiction, and that is because to them the work was all-important. When you can step through a curtain and have thousands of people salute your every move, other substances become tame.

But when you’re stuck at the business end of an unsuccessful character, having to win the crowd over every night, feeling their apathy or even worse, their antipathy, it must be a heavy burden to bear. Just ask “Man’s Man” Steven Regal. Just ask Matt Morgan. Oh, just ask Nick Dinsmore. The character of Eugene is a big one, all encompassing; you can’t just slip him on as an extension of your own, like Austin or the Rock. This one is a big performance, like the Beserker, and Dinsmore does have inhabit it, so when he hears the boos, and he has recently, there’s nowhere he can go, nothing he can change. What you see is all you’ll get. The frustration is huge, the temptation perhaps even bigger.

And then there’s the way Nicky D arrived at the top table. We knew he’d been waiting for a while. We knew he was considered talented enough to make it. We also knew he’d been passed over for other, maybe less deserving grapplers. And so when the chance came, he took it, no matter what it was – Matt Morgan also a suffered from this short sightedness. Nick should have stepped back and studied the downside, but he greedily grabbed for that brass ring. As such, people recognised that he wasn’t there for his wrestling ability, or a gimmick he’d perfected (and even Bobby Lashley has one of them) but just because he could play a character fairly well.

The secret is to believe in the work you do, and to be proud of it. That’s how to keep getting through the ropes every night, that’s how to keep focus, that’s how to believe in your work. If you sell out your wrestling talent just for a tiny shot at the big time, and people soon begin to hate you anyway, there’s not much left.

That’s the pride that I think Nick Dinsmore lacks. That’s why we’ve heard this alleged story. Pride in your work. It doesn’t always come before a fall.

The Cynic

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