wrestling / TV Reports

411’s Dark Side of the Ring Report: ‘The Double Life of Chris Kanyon’

September 24, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
Chris Kanyon

-Well, the second half of Season 3 debuted with a bang last week. We are still getting all the fall-out from the ‘Plane Ride from Hell’ episode. This week it’s Chris Kanyon and hopefully nobody says something foolish that costs them their job. Let’s get to it!

-As a reminder, Chris Jericho is the narrator for this season.

-Opening bit has the various talking heads putting over how ahead of his time Kanyon was. Jericho tells us Kanyon rose from obscurity and set the style for decades to come. They show Kanyon, as Mortis, hitting a Buckshot lariat. He kept being gay a secret and various talking heads tell us they had no idea. Keeping the fact he was gay hidden became an obsession and it led to crazy behavior. Some of the talking heads from the intro: DPP, The Young Bucks, and James Mitchell.

-This is ‘The Double Life of Chris Kanyon.’

-We start with a promo from WCW in 1998 just so we can hear the catchphrase: “Whose better than Kanyon?” That leads to The Bucks mentioning that you had to have a catchphrase in the 90s. Everyone gives their impression of Kanyon’s catchphrase.

-We meet Diamond Dallas Page who talks about his love of working with Kanyon. The Young Bucks next as they credit Kanyon with doing The Independent Wrestling Style before anyone else. They introduce themselves as good friends with Chris and they loved watching his wrestle when they were teenagers.

-Next is Rafael Morffi, AEW Executive, as this show loves their AEW guys. He grew up with Chris in Queens, NY and even worked with him in WWE. He talks about Chris being a wrestling fan and then says he doesn’t think Chris was ever comfortable with his sexuality because of his religious upbringing in school. Chris blurted out to a school Chaplin that he was gay and then got the spiel about not giving in to Satan or temptations. Chris told the guy that’s who he is and questioned why it was wrong. Rafael wished he knew Chris was going through all this.

-James Mitchell, manager, talks about meeting Chris and how he gave off this very New York persona with a catholic upbringing that hated homosexuals. Mitchell goes through his various characters in SMW and WCW. Kanyon gave James a tape of what he could do as far as wrestling and James wanted to get him trained and the only place he knew was with Fabulous Moolah. Kanyon marked out at getting the chance and Mitchell had to bullshit Moolah to get her to train a man. She was impressed with him and then would book him on shows where Mae Young would beat the crap out of him. “What’s going on? This bitch is crazy. She’s shooting on me!” Mitchell told him to relax and he would be okay.

-Kanyon gets the call to join WCW and is enhancement talent in a team called Men at Work. We then break the walls down as Jericho is also a talking head as well as being the narrator in this one. He talks about Kanyon’s accent and his lisp which made him nervous to do promos. For Kanyon though he was getting to life his dream and he was really happy.

-Mitchell tells the story of how Chris came out to him. It involved Kanyon moving and getting help from his cousins and a box full of gay porn spilled out. Kanyon freaked and said the porn belonged to Mitchell and he was playing a rib. He asked Mitchell to call his cousins and play along and that is when Mitchell was trusted with keeping Chris’ secret.

-GLACIER! BLOOD RUNS COLD! For those not around, Glacier was a much hyped wrestler in WCW that had vignettes running forever before he debuted. He was a character based on Mortal Kombat and then Kanyon returned as his mortal enemy, Mortis. DDP calls the Mortis mask the coolest mask in the history of wrestling. Nice touch by the music people for this show as they play a knock off of the Mortal Kombat theme.

-Another story from Mitchell as he and Kanyon were driving back to Atlanta and Kanyon went off on him. Kanyon kicked the passenger door open and started kicking out headlights, brake lights and anything he could. He fired Mitchell and told him, “If I didn’t have a lisp I wouldn’t even need you. It’s only because I can’t do a promo.” Mitchell took it in stride and thought “that’s a hell of a thing to say to someone who knows your secret identity.”

-Commercials!

-Kanyon becomes more paranoid with his colleagues finding out he was gay as The Bucks tells us that if you were gay back then you became the heel and the guy that would wear thongs and have their tights pulled down on sunset flips. They they show this happening to Billy and Chuck in WWE. Jericho mentions back in those days it wasn’t accepted as it is now and they show more WWF footage of stereotypes including Goldust feeling up Razor Ramon.

-Brian Cage next and he introduces himself as a fan, friend and unofficial trainee of Kanyon. Mitchell talks about a metal box that Kanyon would carry around that had information on all his boyfriends. It seems he would spend days trolling for men online and print out all the conversations they had. He became paranoid about the box and Mitchell asked him why he would bring it with him if he was worried about people finding out. He then wondered if Kanyon was hoping they would find out the same way he did with the gay porn falling out of the box on the U-Haul.

-DDP talks about The Mortis character and how Kanyon was able to hide behind a mask. Little did he know that Kanyon was hiding behind a different type of mask. Then DDP gets all serious as he tells us the N.W.O happened (I mean the nWo predated Mortis, but whatever). We see Hogan dropping the leg on Savage and cutting his promo. Apparently Kanyon looked at DDP and told him their push was dead. Wait, what? Again, Mortis came well after the nWo and it was the nWo that set off DDP’s rocket push. Wrestlers and their stories sometimes!

-Mitchell says all the gimmick stuff went out the window with the nWo and that stressed out Kanyon who lashed out at him. Apparently, Kanyon choked out Mitchell one night to the point, Mitchell blacked out. Kanyon then quickly apologized.

-So apparently the nWo kiled the Mortis character and he was given a new role. He popped up during DDP’s cage match with Raven at Slamboree 98 and unmasked to become Kanyon.

-DDP says Bischoff had a lot of confidence in Kanyon and sent him to handle all the wrestling stuff in the movie, ‘Ready to Rumble.’ The Bucks call it the greatest wrestling movie of all time and Kanyon taught David Arquette how to wrestle and was the stunt double in the movie for Oliver Platt. It was Kanyon’s idea to use the Triple Cage in WCW and they show the bump he took off the second cage through the entrance ramp.

-They briefly touch of Positively Kanyon and then Jericho mentions how well the boys were paid in WCW. That leads to Chris turning his home into party central with women all over the place, but the women pick up on the fact that Kanyon might be gay. His paranoia kicks in and he wants Mitchell to make a porno that he can show the boys as proof that he was straight. Apparently, he wrote a script and had Micthell find a “whore,” but Kanyon never showed. Mitchell let nature take it’s course, they followed the script and the girl was wearing The Mortis mask. Kanyon watched it the next morning and then flipped out as he accused Mitchell of using his hair conditioner. Mitchell pointed out he was basically bald, but could see Kanyon was getting back into that dark place that lead him to choking him out previously. Kanyton pushed Mitchell across the room, but this time Mitchell is ready and grabs a pistol he had under his pillow. Kanyon pulls him by the hair and they had a stand off. Mitchell then realized it was out of control though he admits he was ready to shoot him if needed. He checked all the laws to make sure he was in the clear for self defense.

-Commercials!

-Chris Champagne as he gets reinvented again. Then WCW goes under and gets bought by Vince McMahon. They were fans of Kanyon and he was a double champion in short order. DDP felt Kanyon was going to have a real chance to shine in the WWE.

-Mitchell says he would get invited by Chris to come and visit. Chris would spend 2-3 days sitting on the floor moving papers around and would tell Mitchell he was doing taxes. They weren’t taxes and instead were notices from the IRS. He would stay in bed for 6-7 days after he invited Mitchell to come and stay. Mitchell didn’t understand depression and didn’t understand what Kanyon had to be depressed about.

-Kanyon injured his shoulder and was worried about his spot, so he took steroids to try to heal faster. That was one of the few times Mitchell ever knew of Kanyon taking steroids. Somehow he left the needle sit out for days and got a blood infection.

-He spent 18 months recovering from his injury while also battling his depression. He was set to make his return on SmackDown and Rafael says Kanyon told him he was returning with a big role. Apparently Taker was high on Chris and thought he could help. Paul Heyman is presenting Taker with a gift inside a large wooden box. The Bucks tell us that anytime WWE comes to Southern California they run the shows no matter what. Kanyon was directed to come out of the box dressed as Boy George and sing with a lisp. The Bucks popped for Kanyon, but then he got destroyed by Taker. “Why did they bring Kanyon out just to kill him like that?” They then criticize the chair shot to the head. That’s funny considering AEW’s issues with chair shots. Jericho dumps on it as well and knows it was a bullying WWE trick. Rafael doesn’t blame the WWE as he doesn’t buy they would have someone train that long just to bury them. To him it just didn’t work out creatively.

-Jericho brings up that once you get slotted in a spot in WWE it is hard to get out of it. They eventually released Kanyon. Mitchell says Kanyon told him he was being punished by WWE for being gay, but then admitted that wasn’t true and he was using it as an excuse in case he felt the need to sue them. It got to a point that Mitchell thought of Kanyon as an unreliable narrator as he didn’t know what to believe from him.

-Commercials!

-Kanyon starts to mentor new wrestling stars after his release. The Bucks calls Kanyon a hero and they hit if off with him when they were booked on a show. Brian Cage also had a show and Kanyon told him he would show up and heel on the crowd. Kanyon told Cage it was his promotion and his town, so he needed to go over. Cage calls it one of the top 3-5 moments in his life. They have footage from the show and Kanyon even puts Cage over after the match.

-Nearly 40 minutes into things thing we meet Luke Hawx, pro-wrestler. He was friends with Chris and shows The Mortis tattoo on his forearm. Chris told Luke that he could live with him at no charge after his home was wrecked by Katrina. Luke then goes off into a Scientology story as Kanyon thought he saw aliens and needed to break into Scientology building to prove it. Luke and his friends knew they needed to hold him down and by morning he doesn’t even remember what happened. He ended up getting treated for bi-polar disorder.

-Kanyon then came to terms with his sexuality and the various talking heads discuss when he came out to them. Luke just told him okay and Kanyon was shocked that Luke didn’t hate him. “Why would I hate you?” Cage admits he was bummed out about it, but realized that it didn’t change anything and it opened his eyes to become more tolerant. In one minute he went from ‘aw, man’ to “who cares.” DDP says they were all happy for him.

-Mitchell says Kanyon discussed on and off about being an openly gay wrestler as he felt he could be a role model. He came out to the world at an Indy show in a match against DDP. After the match, DDP asks him if he is gay and Kanyon says the rumors are true and he is the first openly gay athlete in the country. DDP tells him he will always be his brother and they hug.

-Now Orlando Jordan was in WWE and he was going to come out as gay and it ticked off Kanyon as he felt they were stealing his gimmick. Mitchell pointed out that it wasn’t a gimmick and he can’t own being gay. He also didn’t bring it up to the WWE previously. He wrote a letter to Stephanie McMahon asking to be the one in that spot as he felt he could be a role model. She responded by telling Chris she was sorry to her of his struggles and didn’t know he was going through all the things he mentioned, but she needed to speak with legal about anything else and that was it.

-We go back a bit to WrestleMania XX. Rafael was WWE’s MSG promoter and in the ring is Benoit and Eddie. As the show was a few minutes off the air, Kanyon jumped into the ring and started posing on the ropes. The WWE invited Kanyon to the after party and Kanyon confronted Vince McMahon. “Thanks for inviting me to this party even though you fired me.” Nobody really defends his actions as they don’t know what was going through his head at that point. Jericho mentions you could see this wasn’t good and it made him taboo to work with.

-Another story from The Bucks as he called one of them and told him he had enough and was going to kill himself. He is on the call with Chris for 40 minutes and doing everything he can to talk him down. They prayed together and it saved Chris for the time being.

-Commercials!

-In 2006 Kanyon gets called to appear on The Howard Stern Show and becomes a regular. He takes shots at the WWE and says he was fired for being gay. Stern brings this up to John Cena and he says that Chris came out of the closet after he was fired from WWE and the truth is Chris wasn’t any good. Cage says it was a dirt bag thing to say and Cena was such a higher place than Chris and anything he said would stomp out anything Kanyon said even if he had truth in what he said.

-Next Ric Flair calls the show to speak to Kanyon and Cage tells us that Kanyon loved Flair. I can’t see this going well. Flair says that John made a good point and he is disappointed in Chris. You can see Kanyon breaking at hearing these words and he shoots back again about wanting to come out and WWE firing him. Flair just lays it out and says that Kanyon’s time has come and gone and he isn’t good enough to be on the show right now. Cage says that Kanyon didn’t want to admit that hearing it from Flair affected him.

-We are up to 2010 as Mitchell talks about the last time he saw Kanyon and it was at a show against Whipwreck and it was awful. The fans were laughing at them. They went to the bar after the show and Kanyon was making self deprecating gay jokes so people are laughing with him. As they head back to the hotel, Kanyon tells Mitchell he is sore because he threw himself in front of a car in an attempt to kill himself. That leads to a shouting match between the two before the hug and they let everything go. Kanyon drove him to the airport and they spent the entire time laughing about the good old days. Mitchell broke down and told his wife he thinks Chris is going to do it this time.

-Commercials. Next week it is Onita and FMW!

-DDP saw Chris for the last time and he knew he wasn’t going to be here much longer. Mitchell tried to call him and he wouldn’t answer the phone for weeks. April 2, 2010 he was found dead in his childhood home in Queens. He died from an overdose of anti-depressants at 40 years old.

-They all talk about how they felt and some were at a loss and others felt relief as he was no longer in pain. Luke breaks down a bit as he knew his friend wasn’t suffering anymore though it sucked to lose him. Mitchell breaks down and says he owes everything to him and he loved the guy. Luke loves and misses him as well. Jericho says that it is rare to have a guy that nobody talks bad about and Chris is one of those guys.

-Mitchell calls Chris a tortured soul and he wishes he knew more of what he could do to help. He tells people out there to do what they have to do get people help and save them. Bucks credit Chris as a pioneer and he would be a hero if he was still here right now. DDP says it is a different world as they have trans wrestlers.

-They show a highlight reel of Kanyon’s moves and then guys doing the same moves in AEW. The Bucks never understood why Chris always told them he would trade places with them as he enjoyed the journey more than the destination. They learned years later what he meant and he was right.

-Mitchell says he is clear to tell these stories because he and Kanyon would talk about it. “Shoot papa, shoot!” Mitchell wants a OUIJA Board to talk to him again and he would hug his ghost if he could.

-This was solid, but the bouncing around and time line being messed up for some of the stories was weird. It also seemed like another attempt to bash WWE in certain spots. For example they bring up Steph seemingly blowing Kanyon off first, but then bring up that oh yeah, two years earlier he was screwing around at WrestleMania and insulting Vince. The nWo talk seemed like it was shoehorned in there as well. Mitchell did the bulk of the heavy lifting on this one which was the right call as he was there for it all and he didn’t seem to have any kind of ax to grind and pointed out when Chris was full of crap and gave him love and props when needed. All of the talking heads had a tie to Kanyon in some way, and knowing how much AEW loves WCW you know if Kanyon was still alive he would be in AEW as manager, trainer, part time wrestler. Thankfully, none of the talking heads buried themselves unless you had hopes of a Cena/Brian Cage match. I had concern Flair’s old comments on Stern would be something that would fan more flames at him, but just backing Cena’s opinion that Kanyon wasn’t good enough was nothing shocking. Cena’s point that while Kanyon could wrestle, the E stood for entertainment and Chris wasn’t good enough. In the end this was fine and it’s always interesting to see how the ones involving someone who passed plays out because they obviously can’t defend themselves. As always thanks for reading and please keeps things civil in the comments section!