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Michael "Crash Holly" Lockwood Dies, & the
Rest of the Column I Didn't Want to Write
November 7, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm supposed to be in preparations for a big weekend out of town, but instead, I'm here writing a wrestling column, one I thought I could reasonably skip and not feel like too much of a slacker.

But then again, wrestlers in their early 30s are supposed to be alive and in the primes of their careers, not found dead in a development so unexpected it just has to be reported.

To wit:

  • Michael Lockwood, who for all intents and purposes we might as well just call "Crash Holly" for the rest of this column, passed away yesterday.  He was either 32 or 33 years old.
    The circumstances of Crash's death, at least the ones that have been reported so far by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, almost assuredly dictate that today and over the weekend, the popular story here will be of a tabloid nature...  Crash's career, though deceptively remarkable, is still not one that is storied enough to overcome the details that have come out.
    A disclaimer in advance: I am writing this on Thursday night.  I have not had (and will not have) a chance to substantially investigate these details or add to them.  I will do something uncommon and actually urge you to keep an eye on other wrestling sites (or, at least, on the OO Forums, where folks are usually good about posting news items of interest) over the weekend to make sure that you have the latest and most accurate info.
    So let's get this out of the way: Michael Lockwood, ostensibly in the prime of his life, was found dead on the floor of Steven Richards' home in Florida on Thursday afternoon.  A known hard partier (though to be fair, that's not an uncommon label in the wrestling fraternity), Lockwood MAY have choked to death on his own vomit.  Again, credit the Observer for these details.
    As is my custom, though, I'd rather not dwell on these elements, at least not until we hear more official word about Crash's cause of death.  This situation does sort of have a taint of Louie Spicolli's untimely passing at this juncture, but let's at least try to step back and take a look at some of the good memories Crash leaves us with.
    I guess the same disclaimer goes for this that goes for the gory details: other than quickly calling up some title histories from my records, I'm really not gonna be armed with a ton of research as I do this.  I've got my own mental database of Crash memories, and hopefully, I won't screw anything up too badly....
    Often perceived of a newcomer when he broke onto the national scene in 1997 courtesy of ECW, Crash was actually a seasoned pro by the point.  His debut came in the late 80's, as he bounced around the California indies that operated near his home.  I'm not sure what name he debuted under, but I don't think it took too long before he adopted the "Erin O'Grady" gimmick...  by the early 90's, I remember seeing that name in newsletter/online reports from indie events, and though they were from promotions I'd never seen, the name was one that stood out.  "Why doesn't this guy spell it 'Aaron'?" I always wondered.  In later years, when he came to my attention in ECW, I realized the Irish gimmick thing, and also re-connected the odd name from years past with this new face.
    Anyway, I'm sure Crash was basically a part time wrestler for the first 8 years of his career.  Working weekend shows for All Pro Wrestling (which is the company that eventually gave him enough of a buzz to get a look from other promotions) or other groups in California is simply not a career.  A successful 1996 and 1997 in APW finally resulted in a try-out with ECW in the autumn of '97.  From that point on, Crash was on the road to following pro wrestling as his career.
    I know I saw Erin O'Grady for myself, as he wrestled a dark match prior to the ECW November to Remember PPV that year.  He may also have made it onto a few episodes of ECW's syndicated show, though it would not have been in a major role.  The reason: Crash clashed with the tight-knit ECW locker room.  Though, traditionally, ECW rookies showed respect for veterans and often pitched in by working on the ring crew and things like that, Crash considered himself an 8-year vet in his own right, and apparently above that sort of thing.  After a particularly major flare-up with Taz (now, Tazz), the man who  wrestling professionally as Erin O'Grady had his dreams of pursuing wrestling a a full-time career quashed.
    But it didn't take long before opportunity knocked again.  In early 1998, at the height of the then-WWF's attempts to out-recruit WCW, Crash was signed to a developmental contract by the Fed.  By summer, Crash (still using the O'Grady gimmick) was on board and assigned to the developmental territory in Memphis, TN (then called "Memphis Power Pro Wrestling").  Crash would work there for almost exactly one year before getting The Call.
    Right around SummerSlam of '99, Michael Lockwood jumped into the WWF with both feet and with a new gimmick plucked out of nowhere.  Suddenly sporting a blond crew cut, Lockwood became "Crash Holly," the cousin of "Hardcore" Bob Holly.  Without the benefit of a test run or anything, Crash came into the WWF to help his elder cousin cope with a company that was scheming against him (or something like that, I forget exactly what prompted Bob to call in his cousin).  Though the two cousins scuffled, as fiery family members are wont to do, they usually stuck with each other in the end.
    The result was the first of Crash's twenty-something WWF title reigns.  Crash and Hardcore won the Tag Team Titles in the fall of '99, winning them, if I recall correctly, from no less accomplished a duo than the "Rock 'n' Sock Connection" of The Rock and Mankind.  The title reign, however, was short (just a few weeks), but that brevity would become a signature of Crash's over time.
    After the tag title reign, Crash and Hardcore wound up going their separate ways, with Crash taking his belief that he (at all of 5'9") was a Super Heavyweight to absurd lengths.  His penchant for brawling against anybody of any size at any time led, eventually, to involvement in the WWF's Hardcore Division.  Crash's second WWF title was the Hardcore Title, which he won at some point just prior to WrestleMania 2000.  It was Crash who, again imbued with the confidence of a Super Heavyweight, introduced the title's now-infamous 24/7 Rule.  An off-hand remark by Crash during the Spring of 2000 about being willing to defend the title at any time and in any place led to the rule being adopted full time in rapid order.  
    Crash would, in title matches/switches that took place in hotels, amusement parks, parking lots, and anywhere else you can imagine, eventually end up holding the Hardcore Title on 22 distinct occasions, by my count.  The last came in the summer of last year, as Crash and Raven (among others) took the Hardcore Title's 24/7 rule to new lengths, often trading the title a half-dozen times over the course of a weekend's worth of house shows.  Crash would, however, eventually drop the title, and it was retired when Rob Van Dam won it and incorporated it into the InterContinental Title in August of that year.
    It's worth noting that, though retired, the Hardcore Title is one that is fondly remembered in a certain, perverse kind of way by a lot of fans.  And insofar as they remember it fondly, they need to credit Crash with the direction the division took.  Look, a title that had The Stooges and Terri Runnels as potential challengers is not necessarily a prestigious trophy.  And yet, the entertainment value of the Hardcore Division can't be denied.  When it was done right, the 24/7 Rule that Crash is responsible for was good for a much need laugh in the middle of otherwise serious programs.  It's probably not the best example, but honestly: I think when Crash hired "Shaft" (Samuel L. Jackson) to protect him from foes (I think he was concerned about Pat Patterson and Gerry Brisco, which makes it double funny), it was a watershed moment, one that showed just how amusing the Hardcore Division could be.
    But the Hardcore is not the only now-retired title that Crash enjoyed holding.  Nor the only one he enjoyed holding for only brief stretches.  In December of 2000, Crash held the European Title for about 2 days, winning it on a UK-only PPV on a Saturday, and losing it right back to William Regal two days later on a live RAW.  The Euro Title is another that was retired by RVD in the summer of 2002 after he incorporated it into the IC belt.
    Crash was also a WWF Light Heavyweight Champion for a few weeks.  Shortly after another Holly family member came to Crash's aid (Molly), he won the LHW Title around the time of WrestleMania 17, defeating Dean Malenko.  That one he held on to for about a month or so.  Crash had the distinction of dropping the belt to Jerry Lynn on a live, pre-PPV edition of Heat, in what was Lynn's debut match for the WWF after the dissolution of ECW.  This title was retired when X-Pac was injured while holding it, and then came back without it (the WWF had decided to discard this belt and instead honor the former WCW Cruiserweight Title as their belt for smaller guys).
    Done with tag, Euro, and LHW titles, Crash went back to his bread and butter in 2002, which is when he added 8 more (on top of 15 previous) Hardcore Title reigns to his resume.  Drafted to compete on RAW, he was involved in that division for about three months until it was abandoned.  And then, with the Hardcore Title gone, there was little reason for Crash to ply his trade on RAW.  During a time of shifting rosters, Crash was one of many guys to jump ship before a roster lock-down in fall of 2002.  He joined SmackDown!, where he was not only reunited with cousin Bob, but could also join the competitive Cruiserweight Division.
    Of course, nothing much materialized in terms of a storyline with Hardcore Holly, as Bob was injured during this period, and would spend the next year recovering from neck surgery...  so Crash wound up marking time as a Velocity workhorse and SD! jobber, mostly.  Then, in early 2003, he seemed to find another niche:  he became a Mattitude Follower.  Joined by Shannon Moore as a disciple of Matt Hardy, Crash looked to be getting back onto the main Thursday night show.
    But Crash's tour of duty as an MF'er was short, only about 2 months.  Crash Holly was released by WWE in June of 2003, in what was generally described as a mutual decision, at least in so far as Crash was displeased with his spot in the company, and the company was displeased with his displeasure.  
    It didn't take long for Crash to pursue an opportunity to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond.  In July, he popped up on an NWA-TNA telecast, dubbing himself "Mad Mikey."  The gimmick was that Mikey had trouble controlling his temper, and played out in weekly vignettes on TNA, as well as in about 4 or 6 in-ring appearances.  The last of these came on October 1.
    At the time of his death, Mikey had been planning on re-locating back to California, where he was slated to become a lead trainer at one of Southern Cali's wrestling schools.  
    So here's to Crash Holly -- Michael Lockwood -- who aspired to Super Heavyweighthood, somehow managed to accumulate 25 title reigns in the sport's most prestigious company (including being one of only a handful of men to ever hold four different WWF titles), and kept us entertained along the way.
    Condolences, of course, go out to all of his family, friends, and fans following this most unexpected twist of fate.
  • And since I'm here, I guess I might as well mention a few other things...
    We'll start with a quick mention of TNA's big news this week... that not only will Sting be back next week to continue his participation as the company builds towards a major pay-per-view event, but that Lex Luger will also be in.
    After Jeff Jarrett hit Sting with a chair to get DQ'ed in their main event match, and was joined by Don Callis' Red Shirt security for a beat-down on the Stinger, AJ Styles and Raven both ran in to make the save.  After Callis promised that none of those three would ever get a shot at Jarrett's title as long as he held power, Sting said that didn't matter to him... he still wanted to come back next week and face Jarrett in a match.  The catch: Sting would have AJ Styles as his partner.  Jarrett accepted, and shocked folks by announcing that his partner would be Lex Luger.
    Luger, of course, hasn't wrestled anywhere (much less on live PPV) since the death of Miss Elizabeth in May.  He was last seen this Spring on the WWA international tour (where he worked alongside Sting and Jarrett).  It'll be interesting to see if Luger's another guy that TNA wants to keep around in a semi-regular capacity leading to their big event or if this'll just be a one shot. 
    For a full report on Wednesday's TNA show, check Damian's Recap.
  • We can also touch on SD!, which is recapped in a more complete manner right here....
    But for right here, I just want to say that I really enjoyed the show, and think that SD! did all the things necessary to regain the Battle of the Brands crown this week.  Of course, that's just my opinion, and we got other folks who also vote.  We'll see what they say.  (And due to my schedule, it's a crap shoot whether or not you'll get to hear them say it today, or have to wait till Monday.)
    The Cena/Rey, Eddie/Bashams, and Tajiri&Nunzio/Dragon&Noble matches were all very good.  The main event was nothing to sneeze at, either, though I found it a bit one dimensional.  Even though I was heartened to see Nathan Jones look his most credible ever in a WWE ring and Matt Morgan look pretty crisp for a big man, there are only so many ways to play a match that is four big guys against two little guys.  Well, only one, really.  So that's what we got.  It was done competently, but I honestly think the more important thing there was the story, not the ringwork.  The story being that Team Angle is huge and unbeatable.  That part came through nicely, however, so no real complaints.  I just like all three of the other matches better.
    I'll also go ahead and retract the majority of my pissiness over the Eddie Guerrero situation.  I still say it could have been handled better, but the job SD!'s creative team has done in the last two weeks is impressive.  I honestly doubt that they carefully crafted this ahead of time, but on the strength of Eddie's promo last week and judicious use of footage from Eddie's "Week of Hell" (along with excellent story telling by Tazz and Cole), they've turned what I thought was an underwhelming missed opportunity into a lot of forward momentum for Eddie.  So hey, I'm a big enough man to admit it: I over-reacted and didn't see the big picture.  Now you know why I'm sitting here and not working for the Fed.
    Ummm...  my only other comment:  the John Cena face turn came off great.  Anytime you've got a crowd BEGGING for it like Buffalo was, you're probably not taking a huge risk, but they still did a nice job with it.  One cautionary word:  John Cena, the heel, could afford to have an off night on the mic and just go for cheap heat.  John Cena, as a babyface, has to have his A-Game at all times, because resorting to cheap catchphrases and shit like that is what gets fans wanting to boo (even against a man no less charismatic than the Rock).  I'm not saying I doubt Cena's ability to pull it off, not at all.  To the contrary, I do have substantial faith in the man.  It's just that I'm not prepared to label it a can't-miss slam dunk.  But it is still an open drive to the lane with a sweet finger roll at the end...
    OK.  Enough.  There's more from SD! in the Recap, if you really need it.
  • Might as well address this here today, too...
    If the Undertaker winds up getting Buried Alive at Survivor Series, and comes back at some later time (the Royal Rumble?) in his old "Dead Man" gimmick, it'll count as one of the least surprising surprises of all times.
    I remember it took no more than a few hours after two weeks ago's SmackDown (where they announced the Buried Alive gimmick) before the idea was first floated.  I think it was Erin who mentioned it, and I think my response to her was something dismissive on the grounds that it was not necessary to take a backwards step with the Taker character.  Actually, I'm not sure what my precise reasons were.  I was drowning my Game Five sorrows, so recollection is hazy.  Check with somebody else who was in chat that night...
    Point is, speculation only blossomed from there, and despite my own feelings on the matter, people are talking about the burial of BikerTaker and rebirth of the Dead Man as almost a foregone conclusion.  It's gotten so bad that Taker, in interviews, is being confronted with the question.  His response is so vehement (that he's got ZERO interest in ever reprising the Dead Man gimmick) that it does almost strike me as over compensation.  I mean, I certainly wouldn't expect Taker to say, "Yes, Bob, I will be returning with my old gimmick at some point in the next several month.  Please tell as many people as possible so that it's absolutely not a surprise."  But I know at different points in the last three years, Taker's generally had a line more like "Maybe I'd do it if the time was right."  The current outright denials, being a shift from that opinion, strike me as odd.
    Throw in the fact that Taker's in the middle of a four-week little break leading up to Survivor Series -- growing out his hair, anyone? -- and I could build up a nice little conspiracy theory, if I wanted to.  Doesn't mean I am a huge fan of the idea, at least, not unless Vince and Mark know something about the career longevity of the Undertaker that we currently don't (I always did want to see a brief reprisal of the gimmick in Taker's last 4-6 months, but once he goes back, I think it becomes tougher to un-do the re-do to sustain his career for any length of time)....  but at the very least, I figure I'll toss this info and speculation out for you folks to enjoy.
    If Taker shows up at the PPV with longer hair or is covering something up with a do-rag, well, then I'll buy it completely... till then, we're going on innuendo, speculation, and the fodder that stuff like Vince's "invocation" tonight gave us...
  • More on MLW's problems, which we have touched on in the last week...
    After canceling their October event, the group has now pulled the plug on what had been projected as a major fan convention and show in December.  The "WrestleFest" event's tickets had already gone on sale, and are being refunded.
    Along with word of the cancellation, MLW mentioned that despite the bad news and contrary to internet reports, this does NOT mean the company is dead.  Again, like I said earlier, I think the group might need to restructure or rethink their agenda, but I honestly do hope for the best for them...
  • More from OO's Indie Guy in Florida, Hugh Zeitlin, who also brought recent events on the "Bubba the Love Sponge Show" to my attention.  The deal is this: at the November 29 Full Impact Pro event in St. Pete, Bubba is getting in the ring with Dusty Rhodes to wrestle a tag match against [ahh, shit, I forget who... somebody], and on his show, asked his friend Hulk Hogan to appear in his corner.  
    On the radio, Hogan accepted.  In promotion for the show, however, Hogan's name, after first appearing on the FIP website for at least a cup of coffee, is absent.  Current thinking is that Hogan WILL be at the show, regardless, but that FIP is not allowed (for various legal and logistical reasons) to use Hogan's name in promoting the event.
  • Following up on the Rock Movie Update on Wednesday...
    I got about a million folks who mailed in about the "Namor: the Submariner" project...  Namor is not, as I (quite hilariously, if I do say so myself) posited, a former Boston shortstop languishing in the Seattle farm system.  Instead, he's a Marvel Comics character.
    In fact, he is a super Old School Marvel Comics character, one of the earliest of their super heros.  One reader called him "the Marvel equivalent of AquaMan, only not lame."  Others mentioned that his deal is that he's the Prince of Atlantis or something, and is banging Invisible Girl.  I don't know.  Something like that.  I don't read many comics.  Sorry.
    Anyway, Namor is apparently quite cocky and known for arched eyebrows, which does seem like something the Rock could pull off.  Of course, Namor is also known for little wings on his ankles that help him swim, so maybe Rock's still got some areas of weakness...
    What nobody was clear on was which Namor the movie would portray...  I guess there was old school Namor who was a hero (albeit the cocky, eye-brow arching one), but then there was a super villain incarnation of Namor, and then possibly even more face/heel turns over time.  And today, the version of Namor that's in comics is a teenage Namor (like "Smallville" on TV is a teenage Superman).  Again, I apologize if I'm not explaining this clearly.  
    In any case, it may not matter. What was explained to me in e-mails is that this isn't like Rock's other projects: he's NOT "attached" to it.  Instead, he's on a wish list somewhere; this project is still only in the early talking stages, and it could end up going in a lot of different directions.
  • Last thing for today: my old RSPW-mate Joe Petrow passed along word that Akebono, the outstanding American Sumo standout of the 90s, is taking steps towards our realm of fake fighting.
    Step one: he has agreed to fight Bob Sapp (you remember me talking about him, right?) on New Year's Eve for K-1.  Although Sapp also works pro-style (fixed) wrestling matches, this one will most definitely be a shoot fight.  And an interesting clash of styles at that.  No venue has been announced.
    Akebono had also been rumored to be considering a pro wrestling career back 3-4 years ago.  In fact, I think the story as I remember it was that he would have done it, it's just that the finances were too out of whack.  A sumo legend in Japan simply has no reason to accept a grueling year-long schedule for the WWF for a relative pittance when he can work random tournaments and live high on the hog as a sumo wrestler.  As Joe reminded me, though, although I reported details along these lines (and WL was one of the few sites to have the story, as I recall), Jim Ross did take the time to personally shoot down these rumors a week later.
    I believe my response was along the lines of "Well, if Akebono turned down their money offer, OF COURSE they'd deny having been in negotiations."  I still don't know what really happened, but the fact that Akebono is only now moving towards shoot fighting and/or wrestling certainly doesn't lend a whole lot of credence to my story, does it?
  • OK, enough reminiscing...  I'm out of here.  Hopefully, you'll reward my dedication to come at you on what I'd planned for as an off-day with a donation to the OO Annual Pledge Drive.  Remember, what you folks send me as we head into the final week of my blatant pandering is what the OO website will live off of for the next year, so let's make it good!
    Alright.  See you Monday. 


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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