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RIP Jimmy Rave


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Absolutely heartbroken by this. Rave was in a weird way the first guy I absolutely loved to hate during his ROH run because his character was just such a bell end. He played it so well and seemed to love what he was doing. 

Every time I've read about his struggle the last few years it's been just worse and worse for a guy who seemed genuinely lovely by all accounts and this just sucks. 

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I was a big fan of The Rock and Rave Infection in TNA with a young Lance Archer. Absolutely cheesy but loved the gimmick. Always seemed to be a good hand in the ring as well. 39 is no age, but wasn’t aware of his health issues. How awful.

Edited by Hannibal Scorch
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Watched him effortlessly catch a bog roll at the Liverpool Olympia in 2006 and rocket it back into the crowd, hitting a kid right in the gob and knocking him off the chair he was standing on.

Poor guy seemed to just have just the worst luck over the last few years. RIP.

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I got introduced to Ring of Honor via The Wrestling Channel in 2004/05 and Rave was always someone who stood out to me. 

I distinctly remember his feud with AJ Styles over the Rave Clash and then a series of bouts with CM Punk, particularly a cage match not long before Punk left for WWE. 

It's been terrible reading about Rave's issues over the last few years. 

 

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This is harsh to take because not just the obvious tragedy of someone so young losing their life but the fact it didn’t surprise me given the battles he’s been facing in recent years.

Career-wise, Rave had a far more interesting run than I bet most people remember, full of reinvention and making things work that really shouldn’t have. During my prime years of following the Indy scene between 2002 and 2009 I can’t think of anyone I wrote off more times, but recaptured my interest.

The first time I lost interest in Rave was not long after discovering him wrestling various indies. Nothing particularly bad about him, he was just kind of “there” despite occasionally being referred to as a protege of AJ Styles from NWA Wildside, and he didn’t do anything noteworthy enough to make him memorable or worth supporting as a babyface. He wasn’t real rubbish like Nate Webb, but he was just kind of “there.” When he started regularly appearing in ROH, the same was true. Although in a place like ROH, mediocre often translated to “not good enough” to most of the fans. It actually became part of the story, amazingly - on comms Gabe would allude to him not getting a real foothold and his win/loss record also putting him in danger of being cut. He took the fall and the blame for the babyface team losing to Generation Next on the night of their formation and suddenly Jimmy was actively being portrayed as a loser. At least it was something.

Salvation came in the form of being made the “Crown Jewel” of the Embassy. For a supposed reinvigoration of a heel group this was underwhelming but in retrospect that was probably the idea. Maybe it was just the charisma of Prince Nana, the way he bellowed “Jimmy Rave!!” or pronounced John Walters’ name making me laugh, but slowly it won me over. It was ludicrous that he was trying to win the Pure Wrestling title, but in a fun way. The factor of “Ugh, this guy” gradually transformed into Jimmy being someone I enjoyed seeing get beat, especially during his little spats with CM Punk and the “Rave Clash” story, given how much of a fan I was of both Punk and AJ at the time. Yes, the toilet paper helped. Using “Greetings From Ghana” (a copy of the Pedigree) made him even more of a pantomime villain. The turn of Gen Next into faces and deposed leader Alex Shelley joining the Embassy lead to Jimmy being involved in some actually pretty damn good tag matches and the group got so over that when he wrestled Bryan Danielson for the belt at 4 Year Anniversary, I actually let myself think “They wouldn’t put the title on Jimmy Rave…. would they??” Of course they didn’t, but it was a triumph that I could even entertain the thought.

After Nana left, Jimmy had the losing streak gimmick which is always torture, and repackaged himself as a “serious  wrestler” type heel, surly rather than comedically reacting to fans’ bile, coming out to House Of The Rising Sun, stripped of everything that had made him fun. I lost interest. He started winning matches clean by submission with his heel hook and I didn’t buy it ; Jimmy Rave wasn’t good enough to beat really good wrestlers clean by submission, he needed the bells and whistles. I hated him. Soon that hate became fear that he would get wins over my favourites and quite by accident he was again someone who I was invested in. I went to the Fifth Year Festival shows in Liverpool and was overjoyed when Nigel McGuinness finally shut his trap - literally, credited with breaking his jaw. Unfortunately matches with the likes of Joe, Danielson, Takeshi Morishima and McGuinness in 06/07 did leave Rave with injuries which would begin his descent into painkiller addiction. This would be a part in his departure second time round in 2009 as the company knew of his problems and didn’t want him around any more.

In August 2007 Rave left ROH for the first time and joined TNA. As a TNA fan at the time I was doubtful Rave in the character he had been portraying would stand out but soon he was reinvented again as part of one of the most underrated acts of recent years - the Rock N Rave Infection. He was paired with Lance Hoyt (renamed Lance Rock) who is a great wrestler in the right spot and especially good as the big goon next to a smaller guy, and managed by the incredible Christy Hemme. Whether Jimmy being the Rave and Lance bring the Rock meant that Christy was the Infection was never elaborated upon, but I loved this act. I have a weakness for silly heel tag teams going back to the Rougeau Brothers and Quebecers so I loved the daftness of the gimmick and with the magnetism of Christy I could never figure out why they never really went anywhere. Rave left TNA in 2009 for a return to ROH and the reformed Embassy but as such it was short lived. His subsequent returns to the company came after I had lost interest in ROH.

To be honest most wrestling outside WWE and New Japan has passed me by over the last ten years so Jimmy has been one of scores of wrestlers that I lost track of through no fault of his own, until I learned of him losing his arm. It’s been beyond sad keeping up with his torment and hoping that he would be OK, and maybe it’s comforting that he’s finally at peace. When I have chance now to reflect on what his wrestling career meant to me I see a guy that never gave up and always found a way to become something different when something wasn’t working for him or when the goalposts moved, wherever he was working or whatever role he was meant to fill.

In an era where too many guys get by on just being “a good wrestler” without going the extra mile, it makes me wish more guys could be Jimmy Rave, who had to do more “extra mile” stuff to stand out and always managed it when a dozen John Walters, Tom Carters or Matt Strykers faded or became footnotes. That’s how I remember Jimmy, he went the extra mile, and he never gave up.

THE EMBASSY FOREVER!

 

 

Edited by air_raid
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