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  • Writer's pictureTom Clark

Road to Resurrected

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

HVW Resurrected was much more than just a comeback show

HVW’s Resurrected event was the comeback show for the company. After an absence from the industry that lasted more than five years, High Velocity Westling returned with a vengeance to the pro wrestling scene in Western North Carolina.

This was perhaps the most important night in HVW’s history and with good reason. The stakes were higher this time because it was the comeback. That meant everything about the show had to be special, from the production to the matches, to everything in between. Resurrected had to be top notch because anything less would have been unacceptable. Too much was riding on this show. But for me, it was much more personal than that.

January 25 was a time for reflection. It was in September of 2019 when I received the call from Gary Benfield. The man I had always known as Viper was a blue collar family man, like myself. His raucous youth was far behind him and his wild side was a thing of the past. Now he was just Gary. Or was he?

I could tell by the tone of his voice what he was getting at. Our conversation began as it always had before. We had not talked all that much in the 20 years since I first met him. We chatted occasionally and when we did, it was usually good. Gary was always so full of life and entertaining as well. But it was never an act, not for my benefit or anyone else’s, for that matter. It’s just who he was. It was Viper.

So after we exchanged pleasantries on the phone, I waited for that familiar tone, the one that always accompanied the longhaired rebel that once rode with The Elements of Darkness. The EOD was my initial foray into the sport, my first exposure to the world that I had always witnessed from a distance.

The EOD circa 2001

I was always a fan and had been since I was a kid. When the opportunity came to actually get into a promotion, I took it. I was the manager of the EOD and I had a blast. It was more fun than I could have imagined. The word “fun” came back into play again during this conversation.

But this wasn’t Viper on the phone. This was just Gary and I knew what he was going to say before he said it. “I want to put HVW back together.” I knew that was coming because he had teased it to me a few times before. I never knew if he was serious or not, because after he brought it up in the past, nothing ever became of it. The timing just wasn’t right, I suppose. So then I waited for the words that came next and they came without hesitation. “…and I want you to be a part of it.”

This part was not a surprise to me either, not because I thought of myself as someone who would be the ideal addition, but because he had mentioned it to me before. I had no way of knowing if he was serious this time, or if this was just anther shot in the dark on his part. I never doubted his intentions, but I knew, just as he did, that life gets in the way all the time. Just when you think something will go one way, it usually goes the other. It happened again later.

However, this was indeed a much different phone call. This was serious. He was serious. I knew Gary enough to know that when he made a decision, there was very little anyone could do to change his mind. So I waited. I listened. I contributed. Then I got excited.

But I wasn’t excited just because I was involved. I was excited because the conversation, all of it, sounded like a blast. It sounded like 20 years prior. He asked if I was in and I responded with “as long as it’s fun, I’m in.” I meant every word. To say that I didn’t know the road ahead would be a massive understatement.

We spent the next two months talking, planning and booking. Gary’s vision for the new HVW was ambitious and his goals were lofty. But he was determined to make it work and he knew he was onto something. The more time that passed, the more I was convinced he was right.

Doors that had previously been closed began to open. What first looked like a mountain began to look like nothing more than a big hill. It was cool to be involved again. I had spent nine years as a pro wrestling writer and podcaster, so I was accustomed to being connected to the sport. But there’s nothing like actually being in it.

Along the way, I became friendly with a listener of my podcast. Nathan was a fan as well as an attorney. He was younger than me, but he had already lived more lifetimes than I had. He was a worldly type, a man who never asked “why,” but instead asked “why not?” He was the perfect addition to the HVW team. He was the next piece of the puzzle.

Team HVW was on its way and the Resurrected card took shape extremely quickly. Things kept falling into place and doors continued to open. High Velocity Wrestling was on the way back and I was not only the Social Media Director, I was Gary’s partner. It felt good to be needed and depended upon. I was ready for January 25 and I couldn’t wait for it to finally arrive. But I wasn’t ready for December 12.

My kid sister passed away on that night. Just writing those words still seem so foreign to me, like I’m talking about someone else’s family. But the truth is that my family endured more pain and more heartbreak in that night and the days that followed than I could ever imagine. No one could imagine it, there was just no way.

Everything changed after that. I lost all focus and in many ways, I’ve not regained it. Resurrected took the back burner and so did HVW. Nathan was there, both as a friend and as an advisor. Gary was there, feeling the pain from his son’s death just six years earlier. Both were brothers to me and brought me peace when life became too loud to drown out. The weeks that followed were some of the hardest of my life.

Surrounding myself with friends and family was what I did. I didn’t know what more I could do. But no matter how hard it was or how much I wanted to hide until the pain had left me, I still had a job to do.

Resurrected was coming and I needed it to get here as soon as possible. I was ready to experience it, to see the end result of the three month’s worth of planning and hard work. I wanted to see it all finally come to life. I wanted to have fun.

It was Nathan’s idea to set up an empty chair that night. It represented everyone who couldn’t be there that night, including my sister and Gary’s son. It meant a lot to me. The entire night meant a lot to me. The fans in attendance loved the show. The talent delivered on every level. Team HVW showed up and showed off. Resurrected was our big night back and for me, it was my first real attempt to somehow get back to myself.

I’m still working on the last part. Hopefully one day I’ll get there. The first part is easier by comparison. HVW is back and we’re moving right along. We’re happy you’re along for the ride.

Always forward, forward always.

Tom Clark is the Social Media Director and Lead Commentator for High Velocity Wrestling. He brings 10 years' worth of experience as a pro wrestling writer to the company and he is the host of two podcasts: The Official HVW Podcast and Tom Clark's Main Event. Both are available on iTunes, Google Play and YouTube

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