Fighting Back Against Cancer; My Memories of Owen

Nick Paglino

Fighting Back Against Cancer, Old Name, and My Memories of Owen
by Kevin Kelly

Fighting Back Against Cancer and the Wounds of War

I heard from an old friend of mine. We hadn’t talked in a while but he was catching me up on his recovery from cancer and a subsequent bone marrow transplant. I saw recent pictures of him on Facebook and you can see the effects of what he’s been through. But his spirit is strong and you can hear the hope in his voice.

Twenty years ago, he was a much younger man, looking to make it to the big time in pro wrestling. He fought every match like it was his WrestleMania and always did “too much”… Now, he’s making a comeback, as he did so many times as the undersized fan favorite in his matches.

When the time is right, I’ll share more about him and talk about what he’s doing to make this recovery not just about him but other military veterans as well. There is a truly remarkable, motivational story unfolding in OVW right now.

Old Names and the Current Landscape of Wrestling

Seen the New Age Outlaws lately? How about X-Pac? They’ve been doing some matches up in Canada and I recently worked with Billy Gunn at Lucha Libre USA. Yes, they aren’t kids anymore but how can Vince not think about hiring them at least as consultants? Same for the Headbangers… yes, the Headbangers. If the WWE is serious about wanting some consistency in their tag team division, why wouldn’t the WWE book them in a program to heat up some of the younger guys?

Surround the talent in FCW with the greatest teachers possible. Consultants from the biggest drawing era in pro wrestling are a complete no-brainer.

Booked the right way, an addition of some veterans can work with the younger guys who are on their way up the card or on their way out… Some feedback from in-ring veterans who check their egos is more invaluable to judge talent than “creative has nothing for you”. This isn’t about “one more run” for the veterans… this would be about using them and their experience and knowledge to help the next generation grow.

How Good is Mike Bennett?

Dripping with ego, The Prodigy Mike Bennett has made things look easy in ROH. For all of his success, the fans of ROH largely hate him. They say he can’t wrestle.

Got news for you… he can. He’s as good as the Rock and can be as big a star one day.

Don’t hate me because I praise him. He loves it when you boo him. He is a villain.

Making Plans for WrestleMania?

Who is more likely to face CM Punk at Landshark-Dolphins-Suck-Playing-Poorly-Want-Andrew-Luck Stadium this coming March? Chris Jericho or Steve Austin? Both have had Twitter tangles with Punk but I wonder if Triple H makes more sense. The NOC match left open many doors and while there’s lots of time for a rematch, I am starting to lean in this direction.

My Memories of Owen

I’ve had so many fans over the years ask me about what happened the day Owen died. Here is my timeline.

We did our “earlier today” interview early in the day. From there, he went in the ring in his Blue Blazer gear and began working out. I had never seen Owen move better. It was as if that mask made him more fluid and graceful but I am sure it was just my perception. His match with Godfather was going to be good.

Doors open, show starts, “earlier today” interview plays. I sat alone in the TV Locker Room watching. Now back live in the arena, I instantly know something is wrong when the live shot is nonsensical. Moving quickly down the hall past the location of our “earlier today” interview and a crowd is gathered around the entrance way with Bruce Prichard yelling on headset. EMT’s quickly run down to the ring. Panic is filling the room.

With tears in her eyes, a producer is now having me gather Jeff Jarrett and Debra for the interview that was to immediately follow Owen’s match. None of us knew Owen was dead. As Jeff, Debra and I stagger through the interview, we see the EMT’s rushing Owen to the ambulance with one paramedic pounding away on his chest performing CPR.

We later learn that he didn’t make it and the consensus was to just finish the show to get it over with. Dr. Tom and Mick Foley rode with me across to St. Louis, finally getting to the hotel after 4am. I turn on the TV and see the overnight news replaying my “earlier today” interview with Owen, telling the story of the tragic accident that killed him.

I think about Owen all the time, especially when I take a walk with my wife. Owen loved Martha and Martha loved Owen. He was crazy about his kids, Oje and Athena. He was 2 years and 2 days older than me.

Enjoy Ring of Honor Wrestling on television this weekend. Go to to see if a Sinclair Broadcast Group station (or two) is in your market.

Email me at or comment on Twitter @realkevinkelly

Thank you!

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