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"You got yourself a load of trouble now, you got yourself a bad deal.
You say i've got a bad attitude, how d'you think i feel?"

-Deep Purple

After the United States Championship match at Fish Fund, I began to write a scorching, scathing column on the GXW contingent and why they're something out of a bingo hall, barely given a second look and just as easily forgotten. And just to prove I'm an equal- opportunity bitch, I had an addendum that dragged the names GUNS, Eddie Mayfield, and Craig Miles through the mud just as thoroughly.

Yeah, I know.... you can't shame a shameless intruder.

Then I asked Bill a very simple question.... is the only thing he has on Sean the fact that we're together? He replied that it didn't matter - it was getting a rise outta him so it was going to continue. Fair enough, wrestling is one of those businesses in which repetition, if it gets the same reaction, is not a bad thing. But when ten seconds of comment from me, thrown in with promo after promo of GUNS and Trip going at each other is translated into Sean "hiding behind my skirt," I have to seriously question what orifice GUNS' head is shoved up inside.

So I had something there, and was even impressing myself with the insightful commentary on how women are seen in the world of professional wrestling, throwing in a recent broadcast of Old School Wrestling's SLAM program for hard copy proof, wherein my buddy Tempest, along with three other women wrestled in a four corners match for the top contendership for their WORLDChampionship.

Busily laying more venom to the keyboard while backstage at On Time.... I caught the FISH FUND replay. And for the first time I actually saw the Windham/Aho match.

I realized something.... maybe this is the wrong time for 'venom' to be spewed.

They say this business is cyclical in nature, and I agree. The same can be said for the wrestlers themselves, and perhaps no wrestler encompasses this idea more than Mark Windham. The beginning of the end for Windham can almost unanimously be pointed out as FISH FUND X, wherein during "Mickey's Challenge," he chose to try and regain his nickname at the expense of the health of his brother, Timmy. Uttering the now infamous words, "Timmy, forgive me, but a man's gotta do..." Mark demolished his brother's neck, and in the aftermath, I saw a man pushed past his ability to cope.

That night, the Living Legend died.

Sure, there were glimpses of the man behind the psycho at times, but most wrestling analysts would have agreed that his career was all over but the destruction. Windham took the EN World Title from GUNS in one of the biggest screwjobs in wrestling history, and turned around to lose it to Anarky, called by GUNS a 'Glorified Jobber.' Did Windham still have the ability? Without question, yes. But his eyes were absolutely soulless and vacant... he knew, just as everyone else, he was simply a tool that Hornet used to hurt GUNS. When Hornet was ousted at Fish Fund XI, he referenced Windham being 'left to the wolves.' That's all it took, as Windham certainly had the ability and personality to become the CSWA's franchise player... but the simple fact that he wasn't Hornet made the fans crap all over him.

The only opponent a wrestler cannot hope to overcome... is a ghost.

The rest, as they say, is history. He left Jewels, he left... everything. The rumors are that Windham was living on the streets, spending every dime he'd earned by wandering the country aimlessly. When the CSWA returned in 1998, we all wrote off the Awakening as just another sign that he'd lost his mind. When Timmy died, we thought that was all she wrote. When Timmy came back, seemingly from the dead, and accompanied by Mickey Benedict, sure, Mark wasn't so crazy that he was seeing ghosts, but he was rambling incoherently and obviously driven to the edge and a fair bit beyond. Wouldn't you, seeing your dead brother and your crippled nemesis joined forces?

Still, there was something missing. Something not quite on the level with Windham as we came toward Anniversary 1999. He seemed lucid at times... more direct. Like he'd found the answers he was looking for... or was laughing at a joke only he knew the punchline for. Maybe Sunshine Del Payne had something to do with it - maybe knowing he wasn't alone anymore gave Windham a goal beyond Timmy and Mickey.

For all intents and purposes, Mark Windham left the CSWA for the better part of two years. I have never had a conversation with the man, but as I see it, he found what he was looking for and left with it. All of a sudden, he's back, and he's got a look about him that I don't exactly recognize.

Clarity. Determination. Awareness.

Topping it off was the sense of nostalgia that wrestling fans seem to entertain constantly. There wasn't a single fan out there who was upset at the prospect of seeing new Mark Windham matches, because even at his lowest point, he has always known what to do in the ring to give the fans their money's worth. And I think Windham could have probably continued on the nostalgia trip indefinitely, giving the people an exhibition nightly and signing a few autographs after the show and wrestling some old enemies at ANNIVERSARY. Then he wrestled Eli Flair and the world was turned on its head.

Without a doubt, the victory Windham pulled out over Eli Flair drove home the point that he was more than a capable wrestler, more than a nostaliga trip the fans were eating up with both hands... he was seriously playing for keeps. And to his credit, Merritt noticed this and tested things out, to find something he never thought he'd see again.

Mark Windham was ready. A victory over Eddy Love to give him official Number One Contendership was academic, because Mark Windham was ready. The Fish Fund match itself took on a life of its own, with Hornet at ringside, Manny officiating, and a slew of guest stars who seemed to either have a personal stake in the outcome. Melton and Love seemed to have their own agenda just as Flair was obviously in place to keep the match between Aho and Windham. Even with Troy's interruption during the final moments of the event... the bottom line is that, injured shoulder or not, Windham took the World Title from Evan Aho and he did it clean.

And with Windham's almost complete disappearance from the CSWA for the bulk of the millenium so far, he hasn't really had a chance to make many enemies. I firmly believe this will translate into a World Title reign much akin to Aho's stellar run, where you are given World Title shots based on wrestling, not talking. And isn't that what it's all about?

The Living Psycho? He knows what a man's gotta do.

The Lost Soul? Not so lost with a ray of Sunshine.

The Awakening? I think his eyes are wide open.

The Human X- File? More gimmick, less way of life.

Call him what you will, but there's one thing that everyone has to agree on, grudgingly or willingly.

He's "The Living Legend" Mark Windham.

And he's the Champion.

This is Ivy.

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