wrestling / Columns

Remembering Larry Csonka: Past & Present 411 Writers Pay Tribute To A Legend

May 19, 2020 | Posted by Ashish
Larry Csonka

We’re all still coming to terms with the sudden and tragic loss of Larry Csonka. He was a foundational part of 411 and it will never be the same without him. It’s hard to really capture what he has meant to not just this site, but to the online wrestling community and the entire wrestling industry. What we saw transpire on Twitter and Facebook today following the news of his death — fans, wrestlers, promotions, wrestling journalists, etc. all uniting to pay tribute to a man who impacted them all — gave us all a glimpse of how many people Larry touched through his life and his work.

Larry was, of course, first and foremost a wonderful father and husband. He leaves behind a family that loved him dearly. He was so proud of his kids and had so much love for his wife. In a world full of negativity and hate, Larry was a genuinely good family man who was full of positivity, had a great sense of humor, and a personality that drew people to him.

As part of Larry’s 411 family, I worked with him for so many years and some things have been obvious to everyone — the man had a work ethic that was incredible, was full of integrity, and a love for wrestling that was second to no one. Loving what you do is a powerful thing, and he loved writing about wrestling and loved providing content for his readers. He got to follow his passion in life, and it resulted in an unbelievable library of show reviews and columns that turned so many people into wrestling fans, led to so many fans discovering new promotions and wrestlers, and inspired countless others to go into writing themselves.

Larry has been writing about wrestling since the early years of the Internet Wrestling Community, back when fans like myself would congregate on message boards or AOL chat rooms to talk wrestling. The wrestling media that has grown so large today grew from those early days and Larry was a part of that, growing from a writer (most notably covering TNA back in those early days) to a senior editor here at 411 and ultimately leaving his mark as a legendary wrestling reviewer. The thing I think stood out about Larry’s work though was that his heart came through. He wasn’t yet another cynical wrestling writer who got his kicks from tearing down wrestlers and promoters or trying to always be the contrarian. He wasn’t rushing to the keyboard every morning to deliver a “hot take” designed to get people worked up. He just tried to be fair. He wasn’t afraid to let it be known that he was rooting for the success of everyone involved, and that’s why he never made any enemies. Everybody has nothing but good things to say about Larry, and we’re seeing that now more than ever.

Larry was a tremendous leader here. Some people lead through fear or attempting to control, Larry’s leadership style was rooted in empowering people, encouraging them, and making them believe. He also led by example, always stepping up when needed, always jumping in to help others. As a result, everyone he worked with always was ready to be there for Larry, to have his back. His leadership created that level of loyalty and resulted in countless friendships and wonderful relationships. He fostered such a family atmosphere here. Everyone who worked with Larry said the same things about him — that he is so hardworking, so genuinely nice, so easy to work with and get along with. Larry left his mark on this business, and his legacy and influence will live on.

In early 2019, when Larry had to have part of his leg amputated, the courage and grace he handled that whole situation with was truly an inspiration to me and countless others. I remember the messages from people who wanted Larry to know how inspired they were by his journey. I remember my conversations with Larry at the time, where even though he was in the midst of such a horrific situation, he still maintained his sense of humor and positive attitude. I had such admiration and respect for Larry before all of that, but that admiration and respect grew tenfold when I saw how he faced such darkness.

Through his articles and podcasts, Larry was able to bring so much joy and inspiration to the people that followed his work, as well as all of us who worked with him here at 411. People’s days were made better because of Larry. People’s careers got their start because of Larry. People’s passions were discovered because of Larry. And through the way he lived his life, especially in the face of adversity, people facing hard times in their life were inspired by Larry. And I’m sure Larry’s wife and kids will find the inspiration they’ll need to face the dark days ahead by looking to the way Larry lived his life.

Larry, thank you for all your contributions to this industry and to the world. You will be missed.

Larry’s family has set up a GoFundMe to raise money that will go towards supporting his daughters. If you can, please consider making a donation, it would be a great way to honor Larry.

Of course, Larry impacted so many 411 writers over the years, many of whom have shared their tributes to Larry below.

JEREMY THOMAS:
“There comes along, every now and then, someone who truly changes your life. It could be a partner, a friend, a co-worker, or just some person you happen to interact with.

For me, Larry Csonka was one of those people. I was a reader of 411 long before I became a reviewer, or a columnist, or an editor. I was checking the site out way back in the day, even before Larry back before 411mania was a thing when it was 411wrestling. And to this day, I still remember the first time I read one of Larry’s pieces. I don’t remember the year (2003, maybe?), or even which show it was (Raw, maybe? Smackdown?) What I do remember is the smile I had on my face as I read his thoughts on what happened – whatever it was that had happened.

Ever since that column, I was a regular reader of Larry. Back when he did his first podcast, I would email in little things to him when he invited reader responses. But my interactions with him didn’t become more direct until I began writing for 411 back in March of 2008. I started off writing just for Movies, doing reviews of films. But through the 411 staff forums, I started to participate in the Wrestler of the Week columns which Larry was responsible for.

And of course he was responsible for it; there was little he wasn’t responsible for when it came to the Wrestling Zone. With nothing but the utmost respect and love to everyone who has written for the section over the years, Larry Csonka really was for all intents and purposes 411 Wrestling. I’ve never in my 43 years of life met someone who was so tireless in their work.

Eventually, my writing for the wrestling section would expand, and I began interacting with Larry on a more regular basis. I was just a little guy doing occasional fill-in stuff, but Larry was incredibly supportive and helpful. That continued as when I started doing news for the site in June of 2010. I was extremely intimidated by what I was getting into, and Larry continued that supportive and helpful nature – dropping a quick message to bolster me after a rough day or jumping in to approve comments or help out.

Over the past decade, Larry grew into someone I considered a close friend. We interacted daily and would share jokes, commiserate over news of the day, or just chat about movies, or wrestling, or even about a family thing here or there. Despite the fact that we were on opposite schedules by necessity of our 411 duties, we almost always had some chance to have an interaction.

When Larry had to step back from his editing duties at 411 last year, I was fortunate enough that he (and Ashish) had given me enough support and helped me grow as a writer and editor enough that I could step up. I’ve never filled his shoes and could never hope to. Those shoes are unfillable. But at least I’ve been able to slip them on and shuffle in them enough to keep them moving a bit.

I thought I had passion for the things I loved – movies, games, wrestling, comics, etc. But I’ve never met someone with the passion that Larry had for wrestling. To say he was a beast in his ability to consistently write stellar reviews is an understatement. He was critical when he saw things to be critical about, and he was both eloquent and colloquial in his praise when things deserved such. Throughout it all, he was consistently one of the coolest, most positive guys I’ve ever known and his ability to convey his love of wrestling was nothing short of uncanny. I don’t know if I’ve had more of a role model in terms of what I do in my career than Larry. I was always in awe of his ability and quite frankly, if I could ever be half the writer or editor that he is, I would consider myself gifted.

More than being a great writer, Larry was just a great person. He went through some real hardships at times, things that would have crushed other men. And he fought his way back, becoming just as dedicated in his work. His ability to remain positive in the face of his health difficulty was nothing short of astounding, and his strength in both his dedication and convictions were inspiring in the extreme. Throughout it all, he remained a friend and rock to lean on when I was struggling to live up to the high bar he set.

As it stands while I’m writing this, I’m still processing this horrible, tragic news. I’m currently listening to Wrestling Observer Live, where Bryan Alvarez and Mike Sempervive are paying tribute to Larry (It’s okay Bryan, I pronounced his last name “Kezonka” for a while myself). As I sit here typing at my computer, I see outpourings of love and condolences from no less than EVOLVE and Impact Wrestling. It is a testament to Larry’s impact and influence in the wrestling world that he is getting such words from big parts of the industry.

I have such thoughts of compassion and love to Larry’s family. I never met or interacted directly with them, but I feel like I know them all through Larry. He was, by everything I can possibly be aware of, a wonderful father and husband and if you guys are reading this I want to send my love. As much as this hurts us all, I can’t imagine what you’re going through and all my best thoughts and hopes go your way.

To Larry, who I’m sure is reading this from beyond this mortal ken: what can I say, man? I love you and I want to thank you for everything. You’ve changed my life in a very real way, and you will forever be in my thoughts. You said this to me so many times whenever you jumped in to help out with something on the site, and it’s the only way I can think of to end this: You’re my boy, Blue.”

JOSEPH LEE:
“I had enjoyed Larry’s reviews prior to getting the gig as a news reporter on 411, but hadn’t actually spoken to the man until I was offered the job, some four years after I had been writing reviews and my weekly column.

Larry was the one who showed me the ropes, taught me how to write up stories for this place and perhaps most important, keep a positive attitude in spite of whatever may come your way. I worked with him every weekday morning for eight years. During that time he’d send me stories to write up and we’d chat in AIM (back when that was still a thing), Slack and even Gmail when we had to. Even on days when we were super swamped and couldn’t chat much, we usually worked together to make sure everything got done and posted on time. Since Larry stopped doing news in 2019, I admittedly hadn’t spoken to him as much as I would have liked. We still talked on Twitter and things like that, but it did feel weird doing morning shifts solo after so long.

Just last week I was giving him some friendly needling over a comment someone left in his RAW review, because that was the kind of thing we did. I can’t even watch Children of the Corn anymore without thinking of him because we always joked about the use of ‘OUTLANDER! WE HAVE YOUR WOMAN!’ in it. I read his reviews even though my wrestling fandom has lapsed, because I was still a fan of his and just liked to read it. And there were times when he encouraged me with my work, even trying to get me to watch really, really bad B-movies just to talk about them in ABGT.

Larry had a great sense of humor, was a great guy to talk to and helped me get going on this crazy job. He taught me the value of hard work, which anyone can see by how much he did for this website. There’s going to be a huge, Larry-sized hole in 411mania that will never be filled.

It’s so strange feeling such a loss for someone I’ve never actually met in person. I wish I had. Would have been great to have a bad movie night with the guy and just crack jokes back and forth. I’m sure I’ve thanked him before for how much he’s done for me as a writer, co-worker, and friend, but I don’t think I ever thanked him enough.

Thank you Larry.”

JEFFREY HARRIS:
“Larry Csonka is a name that’s been synonymous with 411mania and 411 Wrestling for as long as I can remember. Larry is really one of the reasons I started reading this website long before I ever became a writer here. I always enjoyed Larry’s style and his unique way of recapping and calling events, not just for WWF/WWE or TNA or ROH but also for UFC, which helped make me become a huge UFC fans as well.

The news of his passing is devastating. More than anything, my heart and condolences go to his wife and two daughters. I can’t imagine what they are going through or what they’re feeling right now. It’s heartbreaking that Larry is gone. Larry was not only a talented writer and reporter, but he was also a loving family man. He was Mr. 411mania.”

STEVE COOK:
“I’m lucky to say that I knew Larry before most of you did. We both broke in around the same time on The Wrestle Talks Franchise way back in the day. Larry & I gravitated towards each other immediately, as we had many of the same beliefs when it came to pro wrestling. Fondness for upstart promotions. An appreciation for the art of tag team wrestling. Thoughts about lady wrestlers that probably shouldn’t be discussed here.

Larry made it here first, and brought me along soon afterward. You can either credit or blame him for a lot of the trouble I’ve caused over the years. If not for Larry, who knows where I’d be. I’ve had the good fortune of making a lot of friends here, which wouldn’t have happened without Larry giving me a chance.

We never had an argument. We had some disagreements, especially during football season when his Pittsburgh Steelers would beat my Cincinnati Bengals on a regular basis, but outside those couple of days each year we always got along. Podcasting with him through the years was always the best time. Contributing to his columns, like when we would do yearly TNA Awards in the mid to late 2000s, was always an honor.

Larry Csonka won’t be replaced. Several people combined couldn’t replicate his output as a writer. Nobody I know has the drive or dedication to writing that Larry did. He went through so much in the time I knew him, yet he always came back and blew all of our work out of the water.

411 & the Internet Wrestling Community (do we still use that phrase?) has lost one of its most trusted voices. Me? I’ve lost the Denny Crane to my Alan Shore. You folks that have been around us a while will get that one.

Larry Csonka.”

JEREMY LAMBERT:
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at without Larry. He guided me during my early days of 411 in the MMA section, gave me various opportunities on the site, and always encouraged me. Without Larry and those opportunities, I wouldn’t have many of the friends that I still have today. I’ll always admire his work ethic and understanding. But more than that, I’ll admire his friendship and kindness. Larry hosted me on multiple occasions when I just needed to get away. He made me feel like part of his family and I’m forever grateful to him, his wife, and his two children. RIP.”

TONY ACERO:
“When I look back on the time I’ve spent at 411mania.com, there has always been one constant; Larry. I struggled to write this without talking about myself and how long I’ve been here until I realized this was simply a byproduct of what Larry was good at. He wanted us to shine, individually, as a writer of the site. Larry wasn’t a mountain that left a shadow; he was an inspiring view just close enough to motivate, and far enough to let you live. It’s been ten years since I first covered a RAW for Larry so he could spend some time with his family, and within those ten years, the site – and Larry – altered the landscape of my life. Ten years ago, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer; Larry pushed me. Ten years ago, I didn’t know I’d publish two books; Larry pushed me. Ten years ago, I didn’t know I’d be a staple on a site I would read as a high school kid; Larry pushed me. He never shot any idea I had down, and didn’t even bat an eye when I considered helping out a friend with another wrestling site. He saw my worth, but never kissed my ass.

The internet is a strange place; it’s a world with a sheen on it. This thinly veiled world where anonymity gives strength and privacy is as powerful as one allows it. Larry let us into his life more than I think people give him credit for. We knew of his daughters, of his wife, of his mother, of his health scares, his leg loss. We knew far more than we should have, and yet there will always be aspects we will never know. Could never know. Those morsels are for his family, and I pray you remember them and cherish them. To his wife and kids: he spoke of you all the time. We knew of the love for The Colony and Hana, we knew the adoration for the wife. I hope they do, too.

If there’s one thing you could do right now; some dream that doesn’t seem realistic. A painting. A novel you’ve been working on. A mixtape. A song. A fucking new quilt. Do it. Stop the worrying; the fear of uncertainty, the possibility of failure. Just fucking do it. Don’t let anything stop you. Larry didn’t. He wanted to watch wrestling, and holy shit did he watch wrestling. Nothing stopped him. He turned that encyclopedic knowledge into something else. He ushered in a new era for a site that was just two colors. He touched lives daily. He made you feel. You can do the same for someone else. We all have a thirty-minute time limit in this ring called life, and sometimes the X gets thrown up early. Sometimes, it’s not all fun and games. Sometimes, the curtain call comes sooner than any of us would like. So go out and have the best fucking match you can with the people that you love.

As for this site; the readers; what we do here; I feel there will be some uncertainty. For me, I am here. For Larry, I am here. I am 411. I will cover RAW tonight and I’ll do it the best I can. I’ll maybe take a little sip of the bubbly in honor of Larry. I’ll fume under my breath that people are reading Csonka’s RAW review, and not my recap. I’ll get angry that he has more comments than me, and all he is doing is complaining while I’m actually working – even though no one worked harder than him. I’ll text him that my feed sucks, and he needs to find a replacement for RAW for the fiftieth time. I’ll leave him a long, drawn out message about what he and I need to do a podcast on, who needs to hear it, why I need The Rs back, what this site means, and a whole laundry list of items only for him to reply to me with:

RIP Boss Man,
Tony”

ROBERT LEIGHTY:
“Before I ever became part of the 411 team I was a daily reader and Larry was the person I spent the most time reading. Even after I was brought on the team in 2008, Larry’s reviews were something I would seek out immediately as a show ended. His output was second to none and became the stuff of legends. When I joined 411, Larry was the person that I sought out for any advice and looked at him as my “boss.” He would often go out of his way to throw ideas my way about shows that needed covered and would use reviews of matches I did for special columns the staff would do. I was always honored he did that as his reviews of matches and shows were the standard to which I always tried to reach. I soon realized I couldn’t and opted to go the route of reviewing WWE Network shows and Larry was right there to offer me more. In the last year as Larry had his health issues, I had others from the staff be my contact, but Larry still took care of me as he recommended me for the Backstage gig.

The best memory I have though is the e-mail I still have that he sent when my son was born in 2017. Larry was a family man and the love for his family was clearly seen by his social media posts. I did coverage of Talking Smack while in the hospital the night my son was born and the e-mail from Larry only wanted to know the details about my son. He knew of the struggles my wife and I had with miscarriages and he was there to listen if I needed someone. I never met the man, but he always told me I was good people because, like him, I was from SW PA. I kind of regret never getting the chance to meet him, but as a fan and then a person that worked with him I feel like I knew him. His writing had a way of making you feel like you knew him and was a source of great enjoyment. Funny enough, I often go back to some of his Hogan Knows Best reviews of all things because I can’t help but crack up laughing. The world lost a great man and the IWC lost the hardest working man in the business. That doesn’t compare though to the loss for his family of a father and husband. My condolences to his family first and to all those that knew him better than me. My heart breaks for everyone that has been affected by his loss whether family, friend, or fan.

To Larry I say thank you for the years of entertainment and then for letting me write about this crazy business we loved. Thank you for you being a mentor and friend. The IWC world is never going to be the same and I know I will be looking for your reviews out of habit for quite some time. I know it’s going to be hard for you, but rest easy now Boss. You will be sorely missed!”

RYAN BYERS:
“I have a distinct memory of logging in to my America Online account on the evening of May 23, 1999, when I would have been in the final days of my junior year of high school.

The second after I heard the then-ubiquitous “Welcome!” and “You’ve got mail!” greetings, an instant message window popped up from an online friend of mine who I had met in a wrestling chat room a year or two earlier. In the intervening time, he and I regularly discussed the WWF, WCW, and ECW.

“You watching the PPV?” he asked.

I told him that I had not been. He proceeded to tell me that during the show, which was still going on at that point, Owen Hart had fallen from the ceiling of the Kemper Arena as a result of a stunt gone wrong. Though I do not believe we had final confirmation at that point, by all rights it seemed he would die.

I was stunned. It was also the first time in my young life that I realized you could be legitimately saddened by the death of somebody who you had never met.

Fast forward six years. I have graduated from high school, I have earned by bachelors degree, and I am sitting in a lecture hall in the second year of work on my graduate degree. I happen to catch a glimpse of the open laptop of the student a few rows ahead of me. He is ignoring the lecture and reading an article on CNN.

The report? Eddie Guerrero had passed away.

I felt the same thing that I felt on that night in 1999.

Not even a full two years after that, I tuned in to Monday Night Raw one evening in June, a ritual that I had since the very first episode aired in 1993. I was greeted by news that three people – Chris Benoit, his wife Nancy, and his son Daniel – were all now dead and that the show would be a tribute to them.

Of course, we would ultimately learn that those deaths were something far more sinister than what had befallen Owen or Eddie, but, as I watched that episode of Raw and searched for whatever additional information I could online, I presumed as many did that it was an innocent tragedy, perhaps carbon monoxide poisoning or something similar.

Though my feelings on that situation would change greatly in the next several hours, in those initial moments I felt the same way that I did when I learned about the prior two deaths.

That brings us to today. May 18, 2020, almost twenty-one years to the day after I learned what happened to Owen Hart. About three hours before I started typing up this piece, I was sitting in my office at my day job and taking a quick snack break. I absentmindedly swiped open my phone and launched Twitter, perhaps the modern equivalent of logging on to AOL.

“In news that has left us all absolutely devastated, we’re extremely sad to announce the passing of Larry Csonka” read the tweet from 411 Wrestling.

My heart sank.

As described above, those of us who grew up as fans of pro wrestling in the 1980s and 1990s and continue to follow it online today are all too familiar the phenomenon of learning that somebody who we had previously only known through a television or computer screen has left this world at a tragically young age. Thus, in some ways, learning about Larry passing away felt like part of a macabre pattern that has followed us throughout our adult lives.

However, this one was so much more.

It is true that, much like the wrestlers whose names I mentioned above, I had never met Larry Csonka face-to-face. In fact, I had been in closer physical proximity to most of the wrestlers, as I had at least seen them at live events whereas, in the time that I knew Larry, he was mostly in South Carolina while I was bouncing around the Midwest and briefly Europe.

Physical proximity isn’t the end all and be all of developing a relationship with somebody, though. Despite our physical distance, I learned quite a bit about Larry Csonka after he and I both started writing for 411mania in 2004.

Most importantly, I learned that Larry was a dedicated family man. He regularly mentioned his wife in his early writings, she did some graphic design work for columns throughout the site, and she was even a co-host on the nascent version of his 411 podcast (where she was, appropriately enough, referred to as “The Wife.”) Though they never went into detail about their personal lives when they were writing or podcasting together, there are some couples whose love and respect for one another radiates outward from even their most mundane interactions. The Csonkas were one of those couples. You knew that they were going to stick together through thick and thin because you could tell that they were, above all else, best friends – the bedrock of any solid marriage.

If I may digress, a personal note to Mrs. Csonka, should she be reading this: Several years ago, a colleague and mentor of mine passed away unexpectedly in his late 50s. Earlier this year, I had a conversation with his wife, who he had been with for over thirty years. Her comment to me was that, though she obviously mourned her husband, she still ultimately felt fortunate. She felt fortunate because she got to spend decades with the best partner that she could have – which is a privilege that very many people never have. Though I cannot begin to imagine the emotions that you are feeling in this moment, my sincerest hope is that some day you are able to find that same peace.

Larry was also a supremely dedicated father. If I recall correctly, his oldest was already in the picture when I first started interacting with him, and he was always the portrait of a proud dad, whether sharing stories about her marital arts endeavors, taking her to pro wrestling shows, or, more recently, watching her become an independent young adult. Just a few months ago, I saw her tweet him about the fact that she recently re-discovered the signed Colony masks that he helped her obtain at a CHIKARA show when she was a child, and it brought the same smile to my face that it did when Larry first related the story of getting the masks for her many years ago.

Several years later, a second daughter came along, and Larry was just as proud, regularly sharing updates regarding the pregnancy and delivery. In some respects, it felt like this wasn’t just the Csonka family having a baby. It felt like every one of Larry’s friends and followers were having a baby alongside him – his enthusiasm was just that infectious.

I learned more about Larry Csonka than just his family life, though. I learned that he was an honest man. If Csonka said that he was going to do something, it was going to get done. There were no exceptions. I learned that he was a hard working man. The sheer volume of the content that he generated for his fans over the years (and the amount of wrestling that he had to watch in order to generate it) is mind boggling. I learned that he was a generous man. He was always highly complimentary of my work on this site in a public manor – probably even more so than was deserved. I learned that he was a fair man. Though “backstage drama” has been limited in my time writing for 411mania, when Larry was in charge and required to deal with a situation, you could count on him to adjudicate in the manner he felt best, not in the manner that would merely serve his own personal agenda.

Did Larry have his flaws and his shortcomings? Sure, we all do. But, at his core, he was a standup guy in a world where the supply of standup guys seems to be diminishing every day.

You’ll probably note that one of the things that I have mentioned the least in these paragraphs is Larry’s writing. There’s a reason for that. If you are reading this on 411mania right now, there is nothing that I can tell you about Larry’s writing that you don’t already know. Though he wasn’t here form the beginning, over the last fifteen-plus years this website became Larry Csonka and Larry Csonka became this website. If you didn’t think his writing was as insightful, entertaining, and accessible as I did, you wouldn’t be clicking through these pages to read this in the first place. There’s no need for me to tell you something that you don’t already know.

Besides, at the end of the day, professional wrestling doesn’t matter.

What does matter is how we live our lives and how we treat the others we come across during them, whether we come across those people face-to-face or in this crazy little corner of the world that we call the internet. Judged by that metric, Larry exemplified all of the traits that you would want in a co-worker, a friend, a father, or a husband.

We are all better for having gotten to know him, even if it was on the other end of tweet, an email, or a column.

Godspeed, boss. Godspeed.”

SCOTT SLIMMER:
“Writing about professional wrestling means writing about a surprisingly wide variety of topics. Sure, it means writing about wrestlers and matches and storylines and promotions. But it also means writing about what it means to be a fan of professional wrestling, about what a unique type of fandom that really is. It means writing about what it means to write about wrestling, about how to be a critic and a fan, about struggling to maintain your love for the industry while simultaneously acknowledging its many flaws. And it means writing about death. If you write about wrestling long enough, you’ll inevitably write about death at some point. It only took three weeks for me. The third column I ever wrote for 411 was about Eddie Guerrero’s death. It seems like I’ve written about death a lot since then. I’ve written tribute columns. More than I can probably remember. And I almost thought I had gotten used to it. But this time is different. Damn. This time is so much different.

I can’t separate my love of professional wrestling from the time I’ve spent writing for 411. Writing about wrestling is woven into every fiber of my love of the industry. And I can’t separate the time I’ve spent writing for 411 from Larry Csonka. He’s a part of every word I write, and that means he’s a part of every reason I love professional wrestling. Larry wrote the email telling me that I’d been selected to join the 411 team. He put up with two dumb Heat reporters trying to make a name for themselves by feuding with each other… about WWE Heat. When Heat mercifully came to an end, Larry didn’t ask if I wanted to keep writing for 411. He just asked what I would be writing about next. That little bit of nuanced phrasing has always meant the world to me. When embedded photos and videos and tweets became the standard in online writing, he gave me the freedom to be stubborn and just post a wall of text. Every damn week. When he needed someone to take over the WWE PPV live reports, he asked the guy who started out writing Heat reports. And now, fifteen years later, the first thing I do after every live report I post is wait for Larry to post his review so that I can see if I got the ratings right. It’s like taking a test and then looking at the answer key. We all know how incredibly subjective match ratings are… but in my mind, Larry’s were always the right ones. It’s going to be weird not knowing what the answers are anymore.

Larry was a husband and a father and a writer, but to me he’ll always be the man who shaped the way I love this industry that I love so much. And in that, I’m sure I’m not alone. All of us who write about wrestling for 411 have been mentored and guided by Larry. He was patient and trusting. He let us develop our own voices. He gave each of us the freedom to love professional wrestling and experience what it means to write about professional wrestling in our own way. When I wrote the acknowledgements section of my PhD dissertation, I thanked Larry “for giving me the freedom to rediscover my love of writing.” Being a fan of professional wrestling has often meant struggling to say goodbye to the very people who made us fans in the first place. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Eddie Guerrero so much today. Because much like Eddie, Larry has made me the fan I am today. He showed me that writing is an act of love, and he helped me learn to love how much I love professional wrestling. I watch professional wrestling every day of my life. And now, every time that I do, I’ll think about Larry, and everything that he gave me, and the debt I owe him that I’ll never be able to repay. But mostly I’ll just smile and be thankful that Larry was part of my life. And in that, I’m sure I’m not alone.”

ROBERT WINFREE:
“When my first contributor column went up for 411mania in 2011 or so Larry was already an institution in the internet wrestling community. I always tried to be punctual and professional in my work here, inspired in large part by Larry. Given that I spent the majority of my time in the MMA zone we interacted somewhat sparingly, but he was always supporting and caring. When I took over sole coverage duties for MMA I took no small amount of inspiration and guidance from his example, and while I could never be the Larry Csonka of the MMA zone (it would require me watching not only the UFC, but Bellator, PFL, ONE, Rizin, Titan FC, LFA, and whatever my local promotion is on a weekly basis), I always wanted to put for that kind of quality. I wound up being a kind of go-to for Friday night coverage whenever there was a schedule conflict, I covered Impact on Friday’s when Larry was in the hospital and my lack of other things to do on a Friday night meant I was a reliable pinch hitter. I also can’t blame Larry at all for preferring to cover an NWA PPV over the weekly SmackDown offering.

My relationship with professional wrestling has always been more intermittent, when the product isn’t for me I tune out. But I always read Larry’s reviews to keep more or less up to date on what was going on in the world of wrestling. His podcast was a fairly constant feature as he would praise, meh, and bag on decisions as he felt necessary. Larry always gave it to you straight, even if you disagreed with him he never pandered, never trolled, never praised or buried simply for the sake of doing so. His dedication to providing the best work he could do under whatever circumstances he found himself in was inspiring. He had a genuine love of professional wrestling, and he had an ability to find the positive in almost anything. He also wasn’t afraid to hold an unpopular opinion if he believed it (Dammit Okada, not everything has to be a 40 minute epic). His work was unmistakably his, unmistakable authentic, a constant pillar for the community, and a breath of fresh air if you were becoming jaded by partisan reviews or think pieces.

My heart is broken for his family, but I know he’s in a better place and still watching over you. I will miss the odd interactions we had on the occasional late night/early morning show when we’d joke on twitter about who had been awake longer, or whether a New Japan card felt longer than a UFC Fight Night from Singapore. The world was a better place for Larry Csonka’s having been a part of it. I’ll see you on the other side Bossman.”

BRYAN KRISTOPOWITZ:
Larry Csonka was an institution at 411. Seemingly every day he had something new on the site, be it a wrestling show review or a column. And his depth of knowledge and love for pro wrestling was immeasurable. I mean, I thought I was a wrestling fan and that I knew a lot about it. Compared to Larry, I didn’t know shit. I learned so much not just about the wrestling companies that seemingly everyone knows about, but about the companies and shows I didn’t even know existed. His coverage of pay-per-views was always a must read, both during a show and afterwards. And just his output in general was amazing and awe inspiring. I have no idea how he managed to cover it all, produce, and never phone it in.

On a personal level, I didn’t interact with Larry as much as some of my fellow colleagues, but every time I did he was always cool, always helpful. And he always there. That’s what’s going to be weird now and hard to accept. He’ll always be at 411 in spirit, but not having him around just seems impossible. Implausible.

Larry’s passing leaves a giant hole in the heart of 411, and his passing leaves an even bigger hole in his family. I can’t even imagine what his wife and kids are going through right now. All of our thoughts are with them now.

Goodbye, Larry. You are loved, and you will be missed. Rest in Power.”

STEPHEN RANDLE:
“Hi everyone out there in 411, I’m Stephen Randle, and if you don’t remember who I am, I’m not surprised, I’d like to say I still remember when Larry started at 411, but damn it, it was a long time ago for both of us. We actually started at roughly the same time, and nearly instantly, Larry went from our new TNA reviewer to basically running the site. It was a tribute to his insane work ethic that he managed to balance running 411, reviewing nearly everything wrestling-related to have ever existed, dealing with the chaotic and immature (and ever-changing) writing staff, and spending time with his supportive family that he loved more than anything else on this Earth. Even when an unfortunate series of circumstances took his leg, he remained upbeat and dedicated to bringing wrestling news and reviews to the fans. The man enjoyed what he did, even though it wasn’t always (or ever) easy, and while losing him this early is an incredible tragedy, we were so lucky to have him for as long as we did.

Larry probably won’t ever get his true due as one of the best wrestling journalists ever. He never got the book deals, the high-profile interviews, the backstage access, or the fanbase, but I say to you that he was one of the greatest and he deserves every bit of recognition we can give him, and more. He did it all, from filling in for live recaps when the Raw guy stopped showing up, to repeatedly reminding people that he wasn’t THAT Larry Csonka, to covering for his idiot Monday news reporter at the absolute last minute way too many times, and he did it all with good humor and professionalism. To lose him so suddenly is unfair, and we are lesser without him in our lives.

God bless you, Larry Csonka. You walked that aisle every day, doing 60-minute Broadways just to prove that you could, for the thousands in attendance, and the millions watching around the world. We can never repay you for what you have done for us. In all aspects, you are the Man, and we will miss you every single damn day that you’re gone.”

TJ HAWKE:
“The words are just not flowing. I don’t know what it is. There are so many wonderful things that could be said about you as a person, your impact on professional wrestling, and the doors you opened for countless people like myself. I’ll keep it simple then.

Thank you for opening so many eyes to so many corners of professional wrestling. Thank you for your kindness to me. And thank you for your public modeling of what it means to love your family. Rest easy, brother. The world is less bright without you in it.”

ROB STEWART:
“Just this past weekend, I wrote and posted an article in which I mentioned that Larry’s post-show reviews are the best substitute to actually sitting through episodes of Raw and Smackdown. And it’s tragic to think that we won’t be getting any more of those reviews.

With wrestling, I have gone through phases in the 2000’s where I would watch or not watch, but I always liked to at least be able to keep up with what was going on. I have no idea how many years ago it was that I first typed in something like “what happened on Raw” and found 411Mania. It has been my go-to site for wrestling news and columns ever since, and Larry was synonymous with this site. Larry WAS 411Mania. He seemed to work without rest or sleep to update the site constantly with every bit of news that fans might want. I could never imagine being as dedicated to anything as Larry seemed to be to 411Mania.

I’ve not had tons of interactions with Larry. A few years ago I contacted him and sent him some of my work to see about being a contributor to the site. We emailed back and forth a bit, and he’d ask for the occasional help on Fact or Fiction or PPV predictions or the like, but aside from that, I just sent in submissions and he published them. What I can say, is that he was abundantly complimentary, professional, and pleasant to talk to. He was as much of a joy to work with on projects at 411Mania as he was a joy to read as a writer here.

Larry was my favorite wrestling writer on the planet. He was as much of a joy to deal with behind the scenes as he was to read. All I can say is that I hope the absolute best for his family right now. He will be missed by many, and I hope he knew how many lives he touched.”

ARI BERENSTEIN:
“The news of Larry Csonka’s death hit like a shock and I am very sad for his passing.

Larry was a great family man, a prolific professional wrestling reviewer and an editorial icon for 411Mania. He gave me and many others an opportunity to write about our passions, for which I am very thankful.

More importantly, I will remember him as a devoted family man who loved his wife and children and did it all for them. You could tell the pride and love for his family by the photos of his daughters he would post of their accomplishments (especially RKO’ing snowmen).

I was privileged to join Larry and his wife on many a podcast reviewing Ring of Honor’s earliest Pay Per View shows in the early days when 411Mania was trying out that new-yet-old school form of communication. They were fun times and I enjoyed my conversations and interactions with him immensely.

Larry’s presence was a constant on Twitter and provided humor to almost any and every situation involving the world of professional wrestling, even with just one word or one meme. I felt like I could reach out to him at any point, even if just to make a witty joke. Sometimes, I would write a response just to him to get him to pop for something. It made me feel a better mood when he did.

My many fellow former and current writers for 411Mania and I will remember Larry for his prolific and extensive reviews of just about any and every wrestling show imaginable and for his humor and satiric wit. It is not easy being the workhorse-grinding out columns, reviews, lists, think pieces and op-eds. But Larry would do it all and keep on going onto the next one. He’d cover the mainstream and the obscure with the same aplomb. That meant he put up with watching some horrible shows and matches. He did it because it was there to be done, almost as if it had to be done to make sure there was some record of the event somewhere on the internet. It’s going to be next-to-impossible to find someone who will outdo his output of reviews and columns, which became the backbone of 411Mania.com.

If you want to get a sense of just how massive Larry’s reach was with his writing, one look at the remembrances and condolences says it all. As I went down through it all, what stands out is how so many wrote that they read Larry’s columns and reviews, and that he was the first source they went for a review and a reaction to a show, especially if they hadn’t actually watched the shows themselves.

My heart goes out to his wife and daughters, and to his family and friends during this time. May they find grace in his memory and May He Rest in Peace.”

MATHEW SFORCINA:
“I’m sitting here trying to work out how to condense everything that made Larry amazing into a few lines, and it’s unsurprisingly difficult.

I dealt with Larry for over a decade, and in every interaction I had with him, he was kind, courteous, but still drove me to be a better writer with his work ethic, his skills, and his humor.

But I think that above all else, more than his impact as a reviewer, an editor, a columnist, more than everything he did for 411mania and wrestling fandom as a whole, Larry was a good friend, family man, and just a stellar human being, one we can all inspire to be.

Vale Larry Csonka.”

ARNOLD FURIOUS:
“When Larry Csonka hired me to write for 411 I was desperate to not let the man down. He’d taken a chance on a British wrestling reviewer who’d pitched his way in by writing about Midlands Professional Wrestling during a time when no one knew what that was or why they should care about it. Larry was a relaxed boss and it wasn’t long before I started writing about other things and he encouraged me to “go nuts”. We ended up regularly chatting about wrestling or just shooting the shit late into the night. It was only a week ago that we exchanged messages about HUSTLE and the days of tape trading and how much shit we both had in storage. Boxes and boxes of tapes. We were both addicted to pro wrestling. I always admired Larry as a writer but as a person he was so warm, so humble and he’d always be happy to chat. One evening I was trying to have a conversation with him about some misery that had beset my life and he was taking ages to reply and I only noticed after an hour that it was because he was covering RAW live. He didn’t shush me or tell me he was busy. He was there for me, as he was countless times. The Larry Csonka I shared many a late night chat with is the Larry I will remember. I always took particular joy in the tremendous nerdery of comparing star ratings during shows. Laughing and joking about the bad wrestling, in awe of the good wrestling. We were friends for the best part of twenty years and I am sad we never got the chance to meet in person. He once told me how he wished he could just fly over to Europe and hang out in the back of the room, sinking beers in York Hall or the Turbinenhalle. I am sad that never came to pass but I’m glad I got the chance to know Larry and be a part of his life for as long as I did. As a wrestling reviewer he was unparalleled and I always aimed to write material that would be good enough for his standards. As a person he was the best. His passing has left me numb. I can’t imagine what his wife and kids are going through. My thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP Larry.”

GEORGE SIRIOUS:
“For eight years, 2004-2012, I was a proud member of the 411Mania writers roster, and while we all had different styles and concepts, there was always a mutual respect and a “we’re all in this together” vibe. There was no better example of that mindset than Larry Csonka. He was constantly selfless with his time and suggestions, no matter what zone you wrote in, and the consistent quality he delivered on his own columns inspired you to stay on top of your game. While he and I didn’t cross paths as much as others, I will always be grateful for the offer he and Ashish gave me to take over the Thursday news slot in the Movies/TV zone. I could write it however I wanted, as long as I didn’t miss my deadlines, and the fact that they trusted me with that spot meant the world to me.

About 10 years ago, I asked some of the other writers for their choices of who would go into the eventual 411 Hall of Fame. Everyone who answered had Larry at the top of their list, and with good reason. Godspeed, Larry, and thank you for everything you did and everything you were. To the typical outsider, 411Mania was just another indie pop culture website, but because of you, we became a family that continues on today and will live on forever.”

CHRIS LANDSELL:
“More than ten years ago, I sent an email to 411Mania hoping to become a writer for the Wrestling zone. I had never written anywhere before, but I loved wrestling. I was amazed when, a couple of days later, I not only got a “yes” but it came from one of my favourite writers on my favourite site for news: Larry Csonka.I only knew of 411mania through playing EWR (Google it kids), and I came to read JD Dunn’s work. Larry made me stay. Over the months Larry and I grew closer, and he trusted me with bigger assignments. It is no exaggeration to say that Larry gave me my break in writing, and I will always be grateful for the time he spent coaching me.

Larry’s writing style was unique. He was able to convey the action in-ring with fewer words than should have been possible, making you feel like you were sitting in his living room with a beer watching the show with him. He somehow managed to insert his own personality and style into the coverage without leaving out the important happenings, and was responsible for multiple catchphrases. In a business where the performers view the media with more than a little mistrust and skepticism, Larry was respected by many in the wrestling world. When I took over the live PPV coverage, I tried hard to carry on that style. I quickly realised I could not. Larry was one of a kind there.

More than anything though, Larry was a family man. Larry gradually delegated more duties around the site so he could spend more time with his family. He never stopped having time to help the staff become better writers, help the various editors crack the whip on recalcitrant contributors, or lay the smack down in a Fact or Fiction…but family always came first. His wife and daughters were his life, well above his seemingly insatiable hunger for more wrestling.

There can’t be more than a handful of people who have watched and written about more wrestling than Larry. And somehow, over a decade later, he wasn’t done. He never seemed to tire of it. Rest well, brother. I hope you find Many Buys~! in the beyond.”

STEVE GUSTAFSON:
“When I sat down to write about Larry Csonka I realized that there doesn’t exist any words that I can say that will be unique when talking about him. And that’s OK.

I can talk about the writer that Larry was. I’ve long stopped watching wrestling outside clips here and there but I made reading his recaps a regular part of my routine because I found his insight more entertaining than what was on television. His passion is undeniable and his legacy is assured.

I can talk about Larry the man. While we never got to get together like we had wanted to at some point, I know he loved his family and was a good friend to many. I can’t even imagine what they are going through and I can only hope the messages of love can someday lighten the grief, even slightly, that they are feeling. One only has to look at the outpouring of sadness and respect across social media to see the impact he made in people’s lives.

I can talk about Larry as a leader at 411mania. After hearing about his passing I went back and read some of our emails and messages and smile at the interactions. He led by words, and even more impressively, by example.

I’ve been at 411mania for over 12 years and the honor of knowing Larry will be among my best achievements. Thank you Larry.”

LEN ARCHIBALD:
“Professional wrestling is a niche and marginalized form of entertainment. Let’s not kid ourselves here. Even though WWE is a billion-dollar company, and as such is the benchmark for how mainstream the business and the art of wrestling can go, it is still mocked. We as fans are still thrown the whole “you know it’s fake, right?” at us every once in a while. It is very easy to feel ashamed of being a wrestling fan. It’s worse if that wrestling fan already suffers from low self esteem or other psychological issues. When I discovered 411Wrestling, it was a safe haven for me to share my love of wrestling with other likeminded people.

Eventually 411Wrestling evolved and went from a Geosites discussion board to an actual website that concentrated on news. One of the first names I read on this was Larry Csonka. As a fellow writer, I did what other writers did and stacked up his work against mine. He was better than me. There really is no other way around it. Larry had a better grasp on the “language” of professional wrestling – he was able to clearly articulate why he enjoyed what he enjoyed and why he didn’t. He was snarky (a prerequisite of being a pro wrestling writer), but not mean spirited. He seemingly knew every goddamn wrestling promotion that ever existed and its history. But most importantly, what made Larry stand out from all the other wrestling writers at the time was that he was fair. He had to be – he reviewed EVERYTHING. Dragon Gate? CHIKARA? WWE? TNA? PWG? Ring of Honor? New Japan? All Japan? STARDOM? Then he would crank out PPV reviews, RAW reviews, Smackdown reviews, Wrestler of the Week (BxB HULK, BITCHES), host pre-PPV, roundtable discussions…then columns about any and everything wrestling. I realized that he was a fucking thoroughbred. Larry was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met in my life – I’ve never met anyone who amassed so much written content. It felt overwhelming and impossible to keep up. And within that content were the words of a man who absolutely adored professional wrestling wholly and unequivocally. By the time 411Mania was christened, Larry was a fixture and to me, the face of the entire site. I consumed EVERYTHING he wrote. Not Meltzer, not Alvarez – if I was in the middle of researching for an article of my own, I checked out what Larry researched because I knew he was serious about making sure his dates and sources were accurate. Larry made me a better writer. I did not want to fail him. I felt devastated whenever I had to take a hiatus from writing. I chuckled when we had columns up at the same time when Bruno Sammartino passed away. It was always nice knowing there was someone else on the planet that had so much passion about the business bursting that they wanted to share with the world through the written word.

And now he’s gone. And I honestly don’t know what to do with myself right now. Larry Csonka, to me, is the best professional wrestling writer that ever walked the face of this earth. I really mean that. His content forced those who were serious about raising their game to do just that. He made me proud to be a wrestling fan to the point where now I wear that on my sleeve. I can’t imagine how many people he introduced to new promotions and new wrestlers and just a general new way of viewing professional wrestling as an artform – it has to be countless. I am devastated for his family. I am devastated for everyone whose lives he has touched. I am also eternally grateful that he existed and touched so many lives. The wrestling world will never be the same, but his legacy will live on along with the love he had for wrestling and his family. Rest in Power, Boss. You are now ELEVENTY BILLION STARS.”

CHAD WEBB:
“When I got started at 411mania and moved into different positions, Larry was one of the people who I could always count on to help me along. He was someone who was always there if you needed him. The news of his passing is extremely saddening. It’s a weird feeling when someone leaves us whom you’ve never actually met, but feel a sort of kinship with. I left the site many years ago, but Larry’s writing and opinion remained that dependable voice. Despite knowing what I like and don’t in wrestling, I still read Larry’s articles and trusted his judgment because he was a reliable, hard worker. I wrote for the movie-zone and Larry for wrestling, so we didn’t converse on a daily basis, but did indeed work together for several years and shared a passion for 411mania and making it the best it could be. As much content as he provided readers, what he contributed behind the scenes is incredible. He was a tireless contributor to the website and a monumental loss. My heart goes out to his family and friends.”

DINO ZUCCONI:
“I first met Larry when he joined 411Mania. Must’ve been 2003, or 2004. I’d been with the site for a year, and started noticing a *lot* of content coming from this guy, who appeared to be using the name of a former Miami Dolphins player? After a couple weeks, I reached out to say hello, and ask if the name was an alias, a tribute, or what? Larry wrote back, told me the name was legit, and we just started talking wrestling, as fanboys tend to do.

When I left 411 in early 2006, I kept in touch with Larry, usually through email or AIM, just to talk shop every so often. Any time I’d mention possibly wanting to come back, he would always make sure to let me know that I had a spot waiting for me whenever I wanted it.

In 2013, I remember finally sending him an email that I’d like to come back. Later that day, I got the response from him that he was happy to have me back on board. Through the years, any time I had an issue with something happening on the site / with my columns, I knew I could always reach out to him and have a fair discussion. Sometimes I got what I wanted, sometimes I did not, but I was always treated fairly and with respect, because that’s how Larry operated.

This past year saw me go pretty inactive as I dealt with some personal and professional issues. Every so often, I’d send Larry a “Please don’t be angry, Boss, but my comeback is going to be a little more delayed than I first thought. Every time, he was kind, understanding, and told me that when I was ready to go, my spot was still there.

In January, when I finally thought I was good to go, I sent another email making sure I was still welcome. I’ll never forget his answer: “Welcome back, brother.” It was simple and sweet, and let me knew that I was always allowed home.

I sent in my column Sunday, May 17th, in the evening, to Larry and Jeremy via email. I woke up on Monday, May 18th, to the news that Larry had passed. I’m just shocked, saddened, and angry. He had fought through so many issues, and always came out on the other side. He worked tirelessly despite these to bring his readers the content that they wanted. He LOVED professional wrestling across the board. He LOVED 411mania, doing everything he could to increase its profile and quality.

He was a loving husband and father, and my heart absolutely shatters for those left behind, struggling to figure out their next move. To his family, I can only say thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Thank you for letting us spend all that time with Larry. I send you all of my love in your very darkest time.

To Larry, I’ll just say I love you, Boss. We weren’t the closest of friends, but I always appreciated you for who you were, and for all you did for everybody else.

Thank you for always letting me write what I wanted to write, even if it went against every other type of article on the site. Thank you for your friendship, for the talks, and for being a fan. Rest easy, we’ll take it from here.”

ARMANDO RODRIGUEZ:
“This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to write. The years on and off that I have spent as a writer for 411mania have largely been thanks to Larry. After months of sending results from Puerto Rican wrestling shows I was given an opportunity to do much more and it was because of Larry. Since English is my second language, I made quite a few grammatical mistakes and more than once I was in the hot seat. But Larry always took the time to check my stuff, advice me on words I needed to change and he really didn’t need to do that. He did that because he wanted all of us to succeed and be the best version of ourselves. He never said no. He never turned any one of us away. Every single day I came to the site to read whatever Larry wrote. As the years passed, I felt like he was the only reviewer I would trust. I would not buy a DVD without reading Larry’s thoughts on it. It’s amazing how I felt when reading his stuff: more often than not, I felt like he was speaking directly to me because our visions aligned. His reviews made me rewatch shows because he would mention something I failed to catch. You could tell how much Larry loved wrestling in every single article he wrote, in his incredible ability to feel the vibe of the show at a level that few of us can. Reading his reviews and columns became a daily habit and it was one of the first things I did every morning. I wish I was as passionate about anything as Larry was about wrestling. My condolences to his friends and family and all of his readers that, like me, will feel the massive hole he left in our every day lives.”

MIKE CHIN:
“I first learned if Larry Csonka when a college buddy and I met up to watch WrestleMania 22. The wrestling site I’d most often gotten news and reviews from had stopped posting with any regularity and that friend turned me on to 411mania, where I discovered updates posted throughout the day and columns I could sink my teeth into. And I discovered Larry.

I don’t know that I was aware TNA even existed until I read about it from Larry and started following Impact Wrestling. It’s a similar story for ROH, Shimmer, Chikara, and later Lucha Underground. A couple years after I started reading the site, a call went out looking for new columnists at 411 and I was all too eager to throw my hat in the ring.

So it came to be that I had two stints, a cumulative six-years-plus of emailing weekly with Larry to send him columns and input for PPV round table previews and Fact or Fiction opinion pieces.

I stopped writing regularly for 411mania a year after my son was born, out of a sense that I needed to better focus my time and mental energy on my family, and what other time I had to working to provide for my wife and child. Still, I couldn’t say goodbye to Larry altogether. As my life got busier, I’d rock my kid to sleep in the glow of my phone, reading what Larry had to say about the latest Raw or SmackDown or NXT or Dynamite. I didn’t always agree with Larry’s opinion (I’m an easier critic to please than he ever was!), but I knew if Larry said it was great, then it was worth my time to track down a match or a promo.

I consider Larry one of the dearest friends I’ve had and never met in person. I don’t think he’d have thought of me in quite the same light—such is the relationship between the guy who wrote reviews and one of the thousands of people who read them; such is the relationship between the editor and one of a few dozen writers who reported to him. I have family in the Charlotte, NC area and always had loose intentions of one day trying to meet up with Larry while I was out his way and see if he’d let me buy him dinner. Now, it’ll always be one of my great regrets that I never did reach out when I was nearby.

But, I’ll let that be a lesson, just like Larry’s life work may well be a lesson to follow our passions. To get invested and stay invested, even—and maybe especially—if that passion is something as silly as our larger society would have us believe that watching a lot of wrestling and writing a lot of words about it may be.

We’ll miss you, Larry. Love and condolences to your family.”

STUART CARAPOLA:
“I’ve always said that it’s important to remember where you came from, and today is sure as hell a day where that rings true loud and clear. As I write this, it’s just about 13 years since the last time my writing appeared on 411Mania. Without this website, probably none of the rest of my writing career, wrestling-related or otherwise, would have ever happened. I made a lot of friends here and a lot of people helped me along the way, but nobody had a bigger hand in that than Larry Csonka.

I started writing for 411Mania only a few years after the wrestling business imploded following the end of the Monday Night Wars. It took a while for many people to realize the party was over, but by the time I came on in 2005, both fans and writers had bailed on wrestling en masse. None of that mattered to Larry, whose love for wrestling and enthusiasm for 411 was an inspiration to the rest of us who were still doing this at what was, objectively, not a good time for the wrestling business in general.

It takes a lot to stay positive and hold a team together in that kind of an environment, but Larry was such a great leader and team player that the state of the business was almost an afterthought to those of us who were here at the time. To me personally, it meant the world that someone in Larry’s position was willing to take a guy who basically came on to do a four-part retrospective on the first three years of ROH, and give him the opportunity to at one point have three weekly columns on a website that boasted a roster of some of the best writers around.

Beyond that, Larry was infinitely patient with me as I was still figuring out how to be a writer on a stage as highly visible as 411. I don’t tend to be the type of person who swallows his opinions because I’m afraid they’ll be unpopular with the masses (think along the lines of 2005 equivalents of “Roman Reigns works hard and deserves his spot” or “I agree with what Jim Cornette thinks of the Young Bucks”). I was even less likely to do so in my mid-20s, but despite the sometimes visceral reactions some of my columns got, Larry always stood by me and appreciated what I brought to the site, even when I was sitting there going “Crap, I guess I can kiss this gig goodbye.”

When things started to change for me in my personal life and I had to cut back on the work I was able to do here, Larry understood because he was also a family man and knew where I was coming from. When I told him I was leaving, Larry had zero heat with me. The guy was the definition of a class act, and to this day, I think of him as a true professional, a mentor, and an example of how to conduct yourself as a man.

I lost touch with Larry for a long time after I left…an email back and forth here and there, but circumstances caused us to drift mostly out of each other’s visible universes. Anytime I’d pop by 411 just to see what was up, there Larry was, still every bit as ubiquitous and dedicated as ever. I found out a few months ago about the health problems he had been dealing with in recent years, and I meant to reach out, say hi, and see how he was holding up, and I regret the fact that I missed my chance to do that and tell him how much I appreciated everything he had done for me while I was at it.

For anyone who follows internet wrestling sites, writes or wrote for them, or is even just an everyday fan of the business, Larry Csonka was a guy who exemplified what it means to be a fan, a terrific writer, a leader, and an all-around great guy. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that guys like Larry are very few and far between, and I’m thankful for the time I got with him. Someone will take over for Larry, but nobody will ever be able to replace Larry.

Rest in peace, my friend, and thank you for everything.”

Larry’s family has set up a GoFundMe to raise money that will go towards supporting his daughters. If you can, please consider making a donation, it would be a great way to honor Larry.

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Ashish