Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Jake Shannon's latest desperate attempt to rewrite history in his favor

If you read the latest version of Jake Shannon's (now infamous) hit piece, "Matt Furey and Tony Cecchine: Catch Wrestling's Crisis of Conscience," you'll note that Shannon is these days trying to place a lot more emphasis on the suggestion (and that's what it is: a mere suggestion -- which is in keeping with Shannon's "covert hypnosis" training, known in lay circles by the more familiar "lies of commission and omission") that Tony Cecchine and Lou Thesz were never really friends. The proof of this? That Lou's only REAL TRUE PROTEGE!, a guy named Mark Fleming, never heard Thesz mention Tony.

Only problem is, this is more of Shannon's calculated innuendo -- and it doesn't tell you anything, other than that Lou Thesz didn't report to Mark Fleming about his social life.

Fleming worked for Lou (at one of his pro-wrestling schools). He is also a former UWFi wrestler, whom Lou described on his own site as a "very competent wrestler" who he believes was under-utilized in the pro game:

Mark Fleming was an opportunity WCW threw away. he is a very competent wrestler as well as a good performer. I think the wrestler part hurt his career because Crockett didn't have a clue what to do with him. He did wrestle with UWFi and worked for some local promotions.

He was a terrific coach and is still in VA. I see him at the Musuem [sic] each year in Iowa. He is a terrific guy as well as a very good wrestler and performer.
[my emphasis]

As is clear from the contemporaneous postings at Thesz's site, Fleming wasn't much in contact with Lou during the years in which Thesz and Tony maintained their friendship -- aside from seeing him maybe once a year. Thesz and Cecchine, on the other hand, would talk on the phone several times a week -- and Tony even visited Lou at his home in Florida.

All this occurred in the years between when the two met -- at a seminar put on by Matt Furey in PA in 1997-98 -- and the time of Lou's death in 2002.

Unfortunately for Shannon, all this remains documented if you know where and how to look.

Which I have. Because I tire of his lies and innuendo, and I tire of his faux-appeals to "critical thinking" and the scientific method -- even as he himself ignores its use entirely. And frankly, I'd like to see him exposed for the manipulating character assassin he is.

The truth is, Shannon has been "asking" these same questions for years. And though he keeps getting the same answers, he prefers to pretend the questions haven't been addressed, because doing so allows him to smear by hamfisted rhetorical innuendo. Which, it seems, is one of Shannon's only real specialties.

So let's take a look at the evidence -- which I'm pretty sure needs to be factored in to any equation billing itself as "scientific."

Mark Fleming first appears on Lou's website here, about a year after Lou's death:
My name is Mark Fleming I was a protege of Lou Thesz,and the coach at his wrestling school for 4 years. Lou took me to Japan to wrestle for New Japan Prom. UWFI Prom. on 19 tours. I learned more wrestling holds and hooks, that guys today don't know because nobody teaches them! I hear some people have asked on this messageboard my where abouts these days. I'm working on openning a Wrestling school and gym herein the Norfolk area very soon.
Later on in that same thread, here's what a regular from Lou's board has to say to Mr. Fleming:

You should visit www.catchwrestle.com and fire off an e-mail to Tony Cecchine. He is in Chicago and considered to be "the man" when dealing with CACC as it is known in the USA. I am sure he would be very interested in corresponding with you and doing whatever is necessary to help your dojo grow. He has helped so many people over the years and has recently started up the International Catch Wrestling Association to help promote the almost lost art of Catch.

ANY info about your school would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for sharing this info with us.

Now, why might someone say this to Fleming?

Simple: because for years, Lou and his wife, Charlie, had made it clear that they were close with Cecchine. And because, back before Shannon's years-long campaign to smear Cecchine, there was never much doubt about Tony's "legitimacy."

The shoot for Tony's Lost Art of Hooking series took place at the tail end of 1998. Lou's endorsement of Tony, which was originally part of the series (but was removed because of problems with copyright -- the set's producer had used clips of Thesz's matches that he hadn't obtained the rights to), couldn't be more clear:

Beyond that, here's Lou in 2001 -- close to 3 years after The Lost Art of Hooking was filmed:
Tony has done a great job, but it is not easy for me to just "instruct". I worked out with specific guys and coached them in certain areas, but never developed a coaching or training regime for anyone. I could probably do for someone what Tragos did for me, but who has the time or money to learn something so useless as a career.

I appreciate the value you put on my knowledge, and I too wish I could leave more of it behind. Conditioning techniques ahve [sic] changed and improved - for the most part - since I was playing handball with Ray and George. As for the hooks, that is where I do feel a loss.

I am trying to get Tony to move here and me work with him in his program.

Thanks for the support guys!

Now, if you are to believe Shannon's suggestion (gaze deeply into his eyes!), Thesz and Tony had a temporary business arrangement revolving around Matt Furey; Thesz was "taken in" by Cecchine; and the two weren't really friends, merely business partners.

But here's the thing: Tony and Lou NEVER did any material together. There was never any kind of contract. Lou endorsed Tony -- and never received a thing in return, save for his friendship with Tony. Not only that, but -- and this is key -- if Lou and Tony had a business arrangement, why wouldn't Lou's "only TRUE PROTEGE" know about such an arrangement?

The Master hypnotist can't have it both ways: if Fleming never heard Lou mention Tony -- and Fleming is Thesz's "true protege" -- then it is unlikely that Lou and Tony had a business arrangement, else Thesz's protege would have known about it.

And if Thesz and Cecchine didn't have a business arrangement, Shannon has no cause to doubt Thesz's endorsement.


Shannon wants you to believe that the relationship between Thesz and Cecchine is dubious. He likes to "suggest" such things in order to try to sully that relationship -- because Lou Thesz's endorsement of Tony is something that Shannon just can't seem to scrub from history -- no matter how many "authoritative encyclopedias" he, er, cobbles together. And the fact is, Lou's endorsement doesn't sit well with Shannon's long-standing suggestion that Cecchine is a "fraud."

So, being the "critical thinker" he is, Shannon waited until Thesz died to make such a suggestion -- ignoring the clear and readily available evidence that Thesz and Cecchine had the kind of relationship everyone else always said they had.

Let me repeat that: Shannon waited until Thesz died to make these claims -- and to do so, he ignored inconvenient evidence that flies in the face of those claims.

Very "scientific," this one is.

In fact, here's Lou's wife Charlie (posting under Lou's name) responding to a 2002 thread in which Tony's hospitalization is announced:


We are trying to keep up with Tony's condition, but there is little info. It seems the doctors are not sure what caused the seizures or paralysis. His Mom is very concerned,and Lou has spoken with Tony about a week ago.

To believe what Shannon is peddling, you have to believe that Thesz and Cecchine -- who met in 1997 -- remained "business associate" for the 4-5 years in between their meeting and Lou's death, even though they sold nothing together, had no contract, remained in constant touch, and Lou kept up his endorsement of Cecchine right up until the time he died. (Oh. And that Thesz's wife Charlie kept up the charade even after Lou's death!)

You also have to find all those who were around at the time and who will attest to the actual relationship unreliable, while relying on Jake Shannon and a guy who, while he worked for Lou, wasn't much around him in the years immediately leading up to his death.

Oh. And did I mention that the guy just happened to put out a DVD series? Produced by Jake Shannon? And sold through Scientific Wrestling?

Probably just a coincidence, that.

Saying that Mark Fleming never heard of Tony Cecchine is like my saying that Tony hasn't heard of some of my long-time friends from back east. Thing is, why would he?

Does that prove that, years from now, were Tony to say that I never mentioned one of my east coast pals, they couldn't possibly have known me?

Of course not.

Does it matter that Lou Thesz never mentioned Tony to Mark Fleming? You decide. To me, it matters more that Lou Thesz didn't call Mark Fleming a hooker. Instead, he bestowed that honor on Tony.

Jake Shannon relies on precisely this kind of sneaky disingenuousness to cast suspicion on his business rivals.

And he relies on YOUR laziness to sell his tales. They are rhetorical works. And you are his marks.

Be careful, or he'll have you hypnotized before you know it...

[note: here, Shannon asks the same question four years ago, and it is answered directly to him by Bruce H. Lee, who has known Tony since 1996:
"Is it possible that Mr. Thesz made a mistake about Cecchine (like Wicks admitted to) or perhaps Mr. Thesz perhaps had some monetary motivation to endorse Cecchine? (this was an idea suggested to me by Mark Fleming, one of Lou's closest friends)"

Anything is possible, a monkey can fly out of my ass, however, that's not the case here, the monkey included. Tony spoke with Lou several times on the phone and asked Lou to be present at the taping of LAOH. Lou's travel was paid by Paul Viele. He signed the consent forms for the extra tape that was only released for a short period of time for reasons only Paul Viele knows. Lou chose to be a part of the whole thing because, he told me, that he loves wrestling and seeing Tony was like seeing ghosts. I spent time with Lou and he was a great man and had great knowledge of wrestling and nothing but great things to say about Tony. I never heard nor read the negative comments Billy Wicks made publically. I spent a weekend with him and he was in Chicago, Ryan Stout was also in town training that weekend (and several weeks prior). Billy had nothing but praise for all he saw. Why he said anything other than that later I have no idea nor do I care.
That Shannon continues to pose the question -- even after it has been directly answered -- can only suggest one thing: he didn't like the answer, because it doesn't support the narrative he's been peddling.

And he relies on YOUR laziness -- and frankly, your gullibility -- to give his carefully constructed smears their power.