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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Lance Cade, Dead at 29... plus SummerSlam Preview 
August 13, 2010

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OOWrestling.com

 

I knew I'd be doing a little write-up for SummerSlam this weekend, but I thought I'd just stash it in the OOfficial PPV Discussion Thread in the forums...
 
But the cosmos had other ideas, and thus, I get home and find myself having to spend my late afternoon on Friday mourning another dead wrestler. So I guess we'll talk about Lance Cade first, and I'll just throw in the SummerSlam talk here on the same page.

 

LANCE CADE, DEAD AT 29
 
Lance Cade (real name: Lance McNaught), a former 3-time WWE tag champ, passed away late Thursday night or early Friday morning at the age of 29. WWE.com reports that Cade's father cited "heart failure" as the cause of death, and other sources say that Cade had been unwell earlier in the week to the point of making an emergency room visit.
 
We'll have to wait and see what may have been ailing Lance over the past several days, but there's still a rather large elephant in the room... namely: anybody who's been around and reading OO over the past decade (or reading any other similar sort of outlet for wrestling information) is already well-trained to see "heart failure" listed, all while knowing there's probably more to the story than that. We get suspicious when "heart failure" is cited for guys in their 40s pass away mysteriously early... I can't imagine avoiding the same sorts of questions and suspicions surrounding the death of a guy in his 20s.
 
Especially one whose struggles with substance abuse have not exactly been a secret, like Cade's.
 
Cade was fired by WWE in October 2008, while in the midst of the most significant singles push of his career, because of an overdose incident that caused Cade to go into arrest/seizure while on a plane. WWE did not publicize the details of Cade's incident/firing, mostly due to the fact that Cade's public overdose didn't fall under the Wellness Policy (in fact, Cade's ability to overdose meant he had been evading the Wellness Policy, which meant disclosing the reason for his firing would have forced WWE to open up a can of worms it didn't want to open).
 
The lack of information at the time caused some fans to wonder if WWE was just heartless for firing Cade after an epileptic seizure or something like that, and were embarassed that he caused an entire flight to be diverted to the nearest landing spot so he could be rushed to a hospital... but eventually, the rest of the story did get out (most notably via a series of blog posts by Jim Ross), and it became clear Cade had a drug problem (pills, not street drugs) and made a very big and very public mistake on that airplane.
 
Almost exactly one year after his firing, Cade was rehired on a developmental deal in October 2009 after convincing WWE he had kicked his painkiller addiction. He made only a handful of appearances for FCW before he was again sent to rehab; in interviews, Cade has admitted that after kicking painkillers, he had trouble sleeping and thus got addicted to sleeping pills. After Eddie "Umaga" Fatu died in his sleep late last year, Cade began to realize his new habit could be just as dangerous as his old one.
 
Stories differ on what happened after that -- Cade has claimed he asked to go to rehab, but it's also thought that some of the friends he had confided in about his problem may have done something more "intervention-y" to convince him rehab was a good idea -- but Cade did complete an in-patient program in February and March of 2010, on WWE's dime.
 
On April 2, 2010, Cade was released by WWE once again. The release came just four days after WrestleMania, where Cade's trainer, mentor, and friend Shawn Michaels was famously "retired." Michaels had championed Cade's cause, and now that he was finished with WWE as a day-to-day fixture, it's widely assumed that there was no advocate for keeping Cade around.
 
Cade himself did an interview in which he says he had a heart-to-heart conversation with Michaels following his second rehab stint, and Michaels told him point blank that WWE management had lost faith in Cade and that Cade was "done" as a possible top-tier guy. With WWE's well-known fetish for "scratch off lotto ticket" talent development (to the detriment of a sustainable mid-card of "lifers" and "rounders" who don't have main event potential, but who are solidly entertaining), it's pretty easy to connect the dots: Cade no longer had the faith of WWE brass, WWE brass only employs guys who could some day be main eventers, Cade's chances of being pushed to the main event went away the second time he needed rehab, so Cade became expendable.
 
In the same interview in which he recounted the Michaels discussion, Cade questioned the validity of the WWE Wellness Policy, claiming that he thinks he essentially got fired twice for drug use, all without being "caught" once or given the same "strikes" that other guys get when they really are caught. The first time, obviously, you can't defend, but the second time, he says he admitted the problem and never failed a test, then successfully completed rehab, and still, once he was given a clean bill of health, he was canned again.
 
There may be something to those claims in the sense that the WWE Wellness Policy is not as air-tight as WWE would like you to believe, and is also perhaps not administered evenly and fairly across the board... but I also think it's nearly impossible to question WWE's actions with regards to Cade's first firing, and as I outlined above, it's easy enough to connect the dots to come up with a less-nefarious/simply-business reason for his second.
 
In either case, it's kind of sad that a guy finds out at the ripe old age of 29 that he's "done" in the eyes of his employer, and I'm sure that wasn't easy for Cade to deal with the past 3 or 4 months as he continued to take indie bookings.
 
On the upside, he really did leave a deceptively robust legacy behind -- mostly in the tag ranks -- thanks to a 5-year tenure in WWE. Some quick highlights...
 
At the age of 18, Cade enrolled at the Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy in Texas (HBK's little side project during his 4-year "retirement"), and almost immediately clicked into place as one of the school's most promising prospects in terms of talent and -- more importantly -- the lone prospect who clearly had WWE's desired size and look. Cade was a well-build 6'4" who was being called "the next Barry Windham" (by no less an expert than me) before he was even of legal drinking age.
 
When Michaels decided to return to wrestling and get out of the training business in 2001, his school had turned out 4 guys who HBK believed were gonna be stars. WWE passed on hiring 3 of them (although they eventually DID hire Brian "Dan Bryan" Danielson a decade after the fact), but pounced on Lance Cade. He did tours of duty in the Memphis developmental territory, the Cinci-based HWA developmental group, and WWE's top tier training facility OVW, before making his WWE TV debut in 2003.
 
Initially presented as a singles wrestler -- and briefly renamed "Garrison Cade" due to WWE's policy of not allowing two wrestlers with the same first names on the roster at the same time -- Cade didn't find much traction. So WWE decided to try him in the tag ranks, pairing him up with similarly-sized prospect Mark Jindrak. The two had a solid run as a top heel team on the RAW brand for almost a year, including getting a Tag Title Shot at WrestleMania 20.
 
The 2004 Draft Lottery split the Cade/Jindrak duo, and Cade was slated for a singles push as the main henchman for Eric Bischoff and Jonathan Coachman... however, after winning a feud against Tajiri, Cade was sidelined with a serious knee injury.
 
Cade was out of action for almost a full year, and returned to TV in autumn 2005 after a 2-month rehab stint in OVW. Once again billed as "Lance Cade" (because Lance Storm had since left WWE), Cade was packaged as a tag wrestler right out of the gate. Vignettes presented him and Trevor Murdoch as a kind of southern-twanged "odd couple" pairing, with Cade as a smooth talkin' pretty-boy and Murdoch as a rough and tumble barroom brawler.
 
Cade and Murdoch won the RAW tag titles less than 2 months after debuting, but Murdoch fell out of political favor with WWE (he was blamed for an injury to the Hurricane), and the team was broken following a 3-week-ish reign, with Cade remaining to get a singles push. It didn't really take, and once Murdoch was back in everybody's good graces, it was decided that they'd reform the Cade/Murdoch tandem. After WrestleMania in 2006 and the subsequent draft/roster shuffle, Murdoch returned to TV as Cade's partner.
 
As heels, the duo just sort of simmered underneath for the most part, save for a brief mini-feud with DX (seen by most as an attempt by HBK to help his old protege, but not taken seriously as a push by WWE management)... after almost one year of being staples on the b-show "Heat," Cade/Murdoch returned to the forefront of RAW (once again, after WM and the subsequent roster shuffling in April 2007). They entered into a feud with tag champs, the Hardy Boyz... though starting as heels, Cade and Murdoch won over the Hardyz (and the fans) during a hardfought rivalry. The Hardys won the two biggest PPV matches, but Cade and Murdoch asked -- as "friends" -- for one more chance.
 
The Hardys granted it, and in their third PPV tag title shot, Cade and Murdoch became 2-time WWE Tag Champs when Cade pinned Jeff. Jeff had put his foot on the rope, thinking he got a break, but Murdoch pushed it off before the ref saw it. Thus re-entrenched as evil heels AND holding the gold, Cade/Murdoch had their most productive and high profile year from April 2007 to April 2008, including a third tag title reign that came about as a result of a "phantom" title switch during a tour of South Africa.
 
In 2008, the post-WM roster shuffling struck again, and this time, Cade and Murdoch were split apart. Most deduced this meant Cade was deemed ready for a singles push, while Murdoch (a chubby short guy, and not exactly Vince's idea of man-candy) was probably not gonna be around for long... and that's about how it started to play out when Cade got involved in Shawn Michaels feud against Chris Jericho.
 
For the first time ever, it was openly mentioned on TV that Michaels had trained Cade, which led to an on-screen partnership where Cade stood by his mentor's side against the increasingly-heelish Chris Jericho... of course, as things played out, Cade turned on his mentor, and sided with Jericho, and along the way cut the sort of promo that finally displayed why so many people (dating back to 2000) had him pegged as a future star. He told the story of his betrayal by referencing all the partners HBK had betrayed in the past... Cade sold it that he just was not gonna stand around and wait to be the next Marty Jannetty on Michaels' long list of discarded friends and partners, so he betrayed Michaels first, and aligned himself with a good and decent man in Chris Jericho.
 
With Jericho's "goodness" and "decency" a matter for some debate, there were any number of ways that story could have played out with Cade emerging as a new solo star. However, he pissed it all away when he OD'd on that flight in October 2008. The last time Lance Cade was on WWE TV, he lost a very solid Street Fight against his friend and mentor Shawn Michaels on a live Monday Night RAW.
 
Cade took a year to try to get straightened out, leading up to the above-recounted re-hiring (and re-firing) by WWE, and eventually to last night's/this morning's unfortunate turn of events. As if a guy dying at age 29 isn't bad enough, Cade leaves behind two daughters (by two different mothers), ages 10 and 2.
 
I'm sure all of OO Nation joins me in sending out condolences to all of Lance Cade's family, friends, and fans during these tough times.
 
 
SummerSlam 2010 Line-Up and Preview
 
On a happier note, rasslin' fans can look forward to Sunday night's SummerSlam, which WWE always takes pride in presenting as its second biggest, jam-packed show of the year.
 
Following Monday's RAW, it's pretty clear that they've captured fans imaginations with regards to the top 7-on-7 Elimination Match... I'm not sold on this card's overall depth, but in terms of SummerSlam serving up a little something special that we don't exactly see every day, I think WWE's done a good job creating a Big Show Atmosphere.
 
I encourage everybody to get your SSlam Swerve on by starting out with Adam's SummerSlam 2004 retro-revue (oddly enough, it too features a newly babyface'd Randall Orton trying to win the WWE Title, just as he'll be doing this year)... and it goes without saying that you need to be back here on Sunday night when I post all the results/recap for you after the PPV concludes. Discussion/predictions/etc. will, of course, be on-going at all times this weekend in the Forums, too.
 
But for the here, and now, let's just quickly run down the matches for Sunday Night...
 
Team WWE (Cena, Jericho, Edge, Bret Hart, Morrison, R-Truth, and ???????) vs. the Nexus (7-Man Elimination Match). The graduating class of NXT Season 1 stormed RAW, en masse, about 3 months ago and haven't looked back since. They took out GM Bret Hart (leaving us with the new Anonymous Virtual GM), they took out Vince McMahon, and they've been doing everything they can to make life hell for John Cena (including costing him his WWE Title). What's the ultimate goal for Nexus? How exactly does their behavior threaten the very existence of WWE? None of that's exactly clear, but fans have bought into it, and the result is that Cena's quest to assemble a 7-man team has been one of RAW's hottest issues over the past 4 weeks.
 
Jericho and Edge have decided they hate Nexus even more than they hate Cena so (for now) they're on-board. Bret Hart was "hospitalized" by Nexus, and now he's back for revenge (and providing a little extra sizzle as a special attraction who won't really wrestle much but will provide "veteran leadership"). Morrison and Truth are a long-standing tag team who want a piece of Nexus... and that leaves us with one spot open. It had belonged to the [redacted] Khali, but Nexus beat him up and now he won't be in the match.
 
Will the Mystery Partner be a genuine super-cool mega-suprrise? Or will it just be Miz (who has campaigned for the spot)? Who knows? But just remember that no matter if it's Triple H (said to be injured till November, but we know how WWE loves to lie about injuries so they can suprirse us) or if it's the Brooklyn Brawler, AT LEAST IT'S NOT KHALI~! A winner is us!
 
The elimination rules set this up to (probably) be a showcase for Superman Cena. Nexus has never done anything except for entire 7-man attacks; for this match to have genuine drama, their entire team probably has to remain intact for as long as possible. With likely in-fighting (Edge and Jericho can't really co-exist with Cena, can they?) and a need to limit Bret's physicality, you could get to 7-on-3 REALLY fast... and then, it's just a matter of what story WWE wants to tell with Cena. A lot of that will depend on who the Mystery Partner is, and if there's some kind of SHOCKING SWERVE~! coming on Sunday night... I'll admit it: my curiosity is piqued.
 
Sheamus vs. Randy Orton (WWE Title Match). Sheamus won the WWE Title from Cena, thanks mostly to Nexus interference. Randy Orton won a #1 Contender's match (over Jericho and Edge). So here we are. Whee. When Sheamus is the more scintilating and compelling choice for champion, you know there's something wrong dere, fella. And yet, unless HHH really is set to return RIGHT NOW (to get his vengeance on Sheamus, who sidelined him back in April), it seems like pretty much a lock that the Turd Generation Superstar, Randy Orton, is set to become champ once again.
 
Interesting side bar: Miz has the MitB Briefcase, and has threatened to cash it in on Sheamus several times in the past month, earning the ire of Orton in the process. Now, he's pre-threatened to cash it in at SSlam... so if he doesn't get the Team WWE spot, Miz might be messing around with these two on Sunday. That could spruce things up a bit.
 
Kane vs. Rey Mysterio (World Title). Up until a month ago, Kane had been a babyface, seeking revenge for his brother the Undertaker (who was found in a mysterious coma back in May). Then Kane won a MitB title shot and cashed it in almost immediately against an already-beaten-and-battered Rey Mysterio. Not nice, Kane. Then Kane started amping up the creepiness before finally blaming Rey for what happened to Taker. In the meantime, Rey won a #1 Contender's match and countered Kane's claims by an accusation of his own: Rey says Kane attacked his own brother in an attempt to get out from under Taker's shadow.
 
Taker has a clean bill of health following surgery to repair a broken bone in his face (caused, in reality, by Rey, which is an ironic little side bar to the on-screen silliness about comas), and is probably the best man to tell us who REALLY attacked him, so a lot of folks are thinking there will be a Dead Man sighting on Sunday night. What ever will he reveal?
 
Dolph Ziggler vs. Kofi Kingston (IC Title Match). Kofi had been doing quite nicely as the champ until Ziggler (the pet project of Quasi-Figurehead-of-Some-Kind Vickie Guerrero) started sniffing around. Ziggler beat Kofi in a non-title match when Kofi was DQ'ed for no apparent reason except that I guess it's now illegal to do wrestling moves in a wrestling match (thanks G-rated WWE!). Then Ziggler beat Kofi in a rematch where the title WAS on the line (thanks to an assist from Vickie). This is Kofi's chance to regain the title.
 
Big Show vs. the Straight Edge Society (Handicap Match). CM Punk's been just sort of milling about the sidelines for the last 2 months, nursing an arm injury (and his wounded pride after being beaten and shaved-bald by Rey Mysterio... but mostly: the legit arm injury). He ended up crossing non-wrestling paths with the now happy-go-lucky babyface Big Show, and Show ended up removing the mask that Punk adopted to hide his bald-headed shame just for shits and giggles. Punk, however, was not laughing, and marshalled his forces (Luke Gallows and the now-revealed Hoodie Man Joey Mercurty) to go after Show. They wound up breaking his hand, with the delightfully strumpetuous Serena getting to deliver the final metacarpal-crushing stomps... so this match leaves Show up against 3 men AND without full use of his right hand (the one used for chokeslamming and KO-punching); luckily, there have been hints of dissent in the SES, so perhaps that's at least one thing that favors Big Show?
 
Alicia Fox vs. Melina (Diva Title). Alicia Fox is so totally the best woman's wrestler ever, and destroyed every diva on RAW. Until Melina returned from injury 2 weeks ago. Melina won a non-title match versus Alicia, and now she gets a title shot on PPV. If Monday's sloppiness was any harbinger of things to come, fans should mostly just hope that nobody gets greivously injured in this match...
 
Kelly Kelly/Tiffany vs. Michelle McCool/Layla. Team "LayCool" tout themselves as "co-Women's-champions" and so far, all attempts by SD GM Teddy Long to figure out what the hell that really means or make them declare one or the other of themselves as a singular champ have failed. Though it all, LayCool has been feuding with The Vortex Of Cute in various singles and tag configuration, and now, we're doing it again on PPV because, apparently, we aren't sick of it until WWE tells us we're sick of it. [LATE NOTE, added Saturday afternoon: Tiffany was temporarily suspended by WWE on Friday following a loud public confrontation between her and her husband Drew McIntyre, which required the police to intervene. This match is now off, and last night's SD was edited accordingly.]
 

With six matches on the docket, there could -- conceivably -- be room for more. But the top 3 contests should all be quite lengthy (the ring entrances alone will take 15 minutes for the 7-on-7), so maybe this will be it, save for a few Miz Antics and non-stop video packages. I mean, who needs to be reminded that the Harts are tag champs, anyway?
 
I do believe that's all I got for today. See you Sunday night (or Monday morning if you gotta go to bed before midnight) with the results/recap from SummerSlam, kids.


  
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RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 
 
E-MAIL RICK SCAIA

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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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