Friends, Foley, wrestling community bond for Shane Helms
By Scott Fishman
Former WWE superstar Hurricane overwhelmed from support
By Scott Fishman
For The Miami Herald
Posted on Tuesday, 11.08.11
It was an emotional October night for Shane Helms when fans, friends and colleagues joined forces to support a fundraising comedy show organized in his honor by wrestling legend Mick Foley.
More than $5,500 was generated at the event at the Comedy Zone in Charlotte.
Foley originally had the idea of proceeds from the show going toward Helms’ mounting medical costs, stemming from a severe motorcycle accident he and his girlfriend were involved in May.
“It’s hard for a guy like me or any pro wrestler to get medical,” Helms said. “All my attempts to get medical since I left WWE have been a dead end. I guess Mick knew I was going to have to front all these medical bills.
“You’re talking about a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Yes I did make a lot of money in the wrestling business, but nobody wants to lose a couple hundred thousand dollars. Mick wanted to do this thing. I wasn’t sure about it. People have their own things they are dealing with. This was my problem. I’ll deal with it myself. That’s how I felt, but I knew he wanted to do something.”
The North Carolinian decided instead to put the money toward a future PSA he wants to produce.
“The idea for the PSA was spawned pretty soon after the accident,” Helms said.
“I’m coordinating now with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol to get their involvement. There was a state trooper at the scene who knew me. He quoted that he never saw someone with that much facial trauma who lived. My helmet strap cut underneath my chin and cut close to my throat. That almost killed me. I almost bled out from there. So I just wanted to use his quotes and things like that to show if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. You never know what tomorrow brings.”
Close friend Jeff Hardy donated money and friends like Velvet Sky helped raise funds for the cause. Along with Foley, the comedy show featured appearances by Edge, Ric Flair, Gunner, Reby Sky and other members of the wrestling world.
It was a night the former WWE superstar will never forget.
“It kind of summed up how I always portrayed myself inside the locker room,” Helms said.
“When you have legends like Ric Flair and Mick Foley, who aren’t exactly the best of friends, put that aside and help me out, that meant a lot to me — to have those who I respect a lot come out for me. I idolized Ric Flair growing up and being from North Carolina. Everybody showed up. Even though he was busy in Toronto, Edge showed up. He has a home in North Carolina but flew down just for the event. The guys from TNA and the lucha libre girls were there. It meant the world to me.
“I will always remember when Flair got up on stage and started talking about me. Flair always had a way of bringing emotions out of people, which is probably what made him one of the biggest stars ever in the business. It’s a strange thing to become friends with someone you idolized as a child. I wish everybody could experience that.
“Then to find out that they love you, care about you and respect you as well. It meant the world to me on an emotional level. The highlight of the night had to be the ‘Karate Kid’ skit I did with Mick Foley for the entertainment value. It’s not PG. It was one of the funniest things I did in my career.”
The Lucha Libre USA contracted star received extra motivation on his road to recovery. After all, the Hurricane still has hours of painful rehabilitation ahead of him before he even thinks about returning to the ring.
“My foot was crushed. I almost lost my foot,” Helms said.
“It was crushed where I almost lost my foot. It broke both the main bones above the ankle. Right now I have four plates and 23 screws in there holding it together. I think I’m a little ahead of schedule. I think my doctor is basing his prognosis on someone who is not a pro wrestler. I’m not sure many doctors have an idea of what we go through until they start treating us.
“There is still the belief that we don’t get hurt. I don’t know why. I got a contract with Lucha Libre USA and luckily they extended my contract for when I come back. I would love to be ready by the end of the year and start 2012 off right. It’s hard to say when.”
Initially, the notion was not when but if Helms would ever be able to wrestle again.
“When we saw the initial X-rays of the foot, there was the thought process that I would never do it again. Not necessarily from me per se, but people who were diagnosing my foot,” he said. “I knew the desire was always there. It’s something I’ve done my whole life. I can’t sing or dance. I have to do something.”
Helms is now off crutches and hobbles around in his big boot. The former WWE superstar works out on his exercise bike, trying to get into shape.
“I’ve turned into the skinny fat guy,” Helms joked.
On his off time, he entertains with his trademark humor via Twitter, where he provides followers with his honest opinion on various topics. One of which was the ESPN E:60 segment on Scott Hall and his demons. The scene from one of Hall’s appearance at an independent show in particular struck a chord.
“It was tough to see,” Helms said.
“Scott was probably one of the greatest guys to never have been world champion. He was incredibly talented. Every time I hung out with him he was cool. He wasn’t one of those guys who dissed the mid-card or the opening card when I was in WCW. He was always cool to me outside the ring. I normally go by my personal experience. He was just a really funny guy.
“Somebody tweeted me about the popularity in drugs in this business. I fired back not to associate it with just this business. It’s a worldwide problem. Millions of people have that same problem. Wrestling is under a microscope. It’s sad to see so many, but at the end of the day it’s a personal thing. When you go down that road, you better be prepared to handle it. I think the education system as far as drug awareness in our country is really lacking.
“I used to be in a program where we used to talk with kids, and there was a lot of stuff you had to tell the kids that isn’t true. There just different things. I wish there was some way to use this to educate people more. Like Scott said, people get addicted to this stuff because it’s fun. Nobody gets addicted to things that suck. If you went and did something in your life, and it was God awful, you wouldn’t do it again. Jumping out of that airplane is awesome, but if that parachute don’t open, it’s you’re a##.”
Much like others in the industry, Helms is no stranger to scrutiny from the media for his own transgressions. He believes the idea of fame is a big factor for public figures in any part of entertainment to get into trouble.
“It becomes hard when you can’t go out without being hassled,” Helms said.
“Then you start partying by yourself or just a couple of you. That’s when I think the demons set in. You can’t go to clubs anymore because there is always some guy that wants to fight the wrestler or something like that. You just can’t go out with your buddies because you have the fans who want to talk to you and interact with you. There are some times when you want to do that, but there are the times where you just want to be yourself and don’t want to be that star for a while.
“If you take a look at Michael Jackson, who could never leave his house, your celebrity status becomes a prison. Then you look at these other ways to feel good. When I fell in love with wrestling, it was at such a young age that I had no idea what fame was. I didn’t understand what being a celebrity was and what it takes from your life. People that do it to be famous I don’t think know what they are getting themselves into.
“Problems can also come from everybody’s body being different. Chemicals that affect my body won’t affect somebody else’s body or in a different way. I know people that have to have a beer every day. I get drunk on occasion, but not every day, not even close. My record speaks for itself. I’m not above having a good time and having some drinks, but I don’t understand doing it everyday, because I don’t need it every day.”
The 12-plus year veteran hates to see the business he loves portrayed in a negative light. However, the E:60 segment sent a powerful message.
“There is the hope that Scott learned from it, and his son learns how easy it is to fall into this path,” Helms said.
“Nobody wakes up one day and says, ‘I want to be a drug addict today.’ Nobody does that. It’s generally a slow process. Pain pills are generally a different thing also. It’s not like a recreational drug. It’s not like cocaine where people go out to party. People get addicted to pain pills because they are in so much pain initially, and they take that to block the pain. You then become used to taking them and become hooked.
“I don’t think people understand that because drugs are always lumped into one category. They are all very different. I don’t think marijuana is a drug at all. It’s a plant you can grow anywhere. It’s not made in a laboratory. It’s just a weed that grows in nature. I think the tobacco in the cigarette is more of a drug than that. This is a worldwide epidemic.”
• Follow Helms on Twitter @ShaneHelmsCom. Visit shanehelms.com.
• “The Shane Event” is featured in season two of Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors, which aired 10 a.m. Saturday morning on MTV2 and Tr3. The show is currently “on a brief hiatus until a more convenient viewing experience becomes available.”
In the mean time check out past episodes at mtv.com/shows/lucha_libre/series.jhtml. Go to luchalibreusa.com for updates.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN, (http://twitter.com/#!/smFISHMAN), where I post links and information. Opinions expressed there are solely mine and reflect no other entity. I can also be found tweeting incessantly during wrestling shows during the week.
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