2004 Ted Petty Invitational

One of my all time favorite weekends in the wrestling business was the 2004 Ted Petty Invitational tournament.  I can remember as it was happening being impressed by the collection of talent for the show.  However, looking back on it 8 years later and seeing what that talent has accomplished since is just amazing.

CM Punk – Best In The World – Current WWE Champion


Austin Aries – Current TNA World Heavyweight Champion


Samoa Joe – Former TNA World Heavyweight Champion & TNA Triple Crown winner (World, X Division & Tag)


AJ Styles – Former TNA World Champion & TNA Triple Crown winner


“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson AKA Daniel Bryan – Former WWE World Champion


Petey Williams – Former TNA X Division Champion


Matt Sydal AKA Evan Bourne – Former WWE Tag Team Champion


Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin – Motor City Machine Guns – Former TNA World Tag Team Champions


Chris Hero AKA Kassius Ohno – Multiple ROH titles and now under WWE contract


Claudio Castagnoli AKA Antonio Cesaro – Multiple ROH titles and now under WWE contract


Then if you consider the independent stars that were on the show that are known around the world but haven’t broken through to the WWE/TNA level of success: Super Dragon, Mike Quackenbush, Arik Cannon, BJ Whitmer, Delirious, Jimmy Jacobs, Ian Rotten, Danny Daniels and Eddie Kingston…the guys that we have since lost tragically Chris Candido and Larry Sweeney and the 2004 TPI was the Wrestlemania of independent shows.  Such a phenomenal (pun intended) weekend from top to bottom.

Can any independent show, most of ROH shows included, touch that lineup?

While last week marked the 3 year anniversary of my retirement from professional wrestling, it is weekends like the 2004 TPI that make me have fond memories of my time in the business.  I will share a couple of quick stories from that show for the readers that have made it through the rambling so far.

I had met Chris Candido a couple of times back in 2001.  To say that he wasn’t in the greatest of shape sobriety wise in those days would be putting it mildly.  I am practically blind in my left eye and it makes driving at night very difficult because the oncoming headlights bother my good eye and I have no depth perception.  Ian and myself along with a dear friend , Rich Wayne, had run into Candido and Sunny at a wrestling convention and we offered to give them a ride home from the convention.  We had 5 people, a TV/VCR combo and a ton of IWA VHS tapes and way too much luggage crammed into my car.  It was pitch black outside.  I couldn’t see anything and I was very distracted by the beautiful Sunny sitting on Candido’s lap in the backseat so all I could see in the rear view mirror was Sunny from the chest up.  (I tell this story if for no other reason than to have an excuse for posting this picture):


To say that it was an eventful drive to Atlantic City would be an understatement.  I don’t think Candido went 5 minutes the whole trip without letting me know that he didn’t approve of my driving.

Anyway, as I go to get Candido from the airport for the 2004 TPI, I kept thinking about the previous story but thanking God that there would be no way in hell that Chris would remember me let alone that story after 3 years had passed.  I parked in the garage and went inside to meet Chris at baggage claim.  As soon as he saw me, he ran up to me and gave me a giant hug and said, “I hope you have learned how to drive since the last time I saw you!”  My heart sank for a moment but then it picked up as we quickly bonded and became friends.  Chris got on the phone and let Sunny know that he had arrived and met his ride (it was always the first thing he did every time he came in for IWA.)  We hit the road towards the show and started telling stories.  We only had a run in to do on the show and it was early in the show.  The rest of the night, Candido was bouncing off the walls.  He couldn’t take how long the show was.  “Let me put on a mask and go out there and wrestle.”  Ian kept saying, “Chris, you’ve worked for me before…you knew I ran long shows.”  Chris responded: “I was NEVER SOBER…I didn’t realize how long it was!”  Chris cut one helluva promo that night that still gives me goosebumps to think about.  We even got to rough up The Toolman a little bit.


I miss the hell out of Chris Candido.  I miss him calling me JJ Dillon all the time.  I miss driving all over Nowheresville, Indiana listening to his stories and getting advice about the business.  RIP Chris…you will never be forgotten.

I guess that is enough for this trip down Memory Lane.  If you haven’t watched this DVD, why the hell haven’t you?  Off to work I go.





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