wrestling / Columns

Top 7 Larry Csonka Columns

May 18, 2021 | Posted by Steve Cook
Larry Csonka

May 18, 2020 was a sad day for 411mania staffers, readers & commenters, and for Internet wrestling fans & pro wrestling opinion in general. We lost a man who covered pro wrestling as thoroughly as any writer of his generation. A wife lost her husband, two kids lost their father, and many of us lost a friend.

Larry Csonka was a man I traveled the wrestling writing roads with. I’ll spare you the story since I’ve told it a time or two before, but the bottom line is we wrote for the same websites for over fifteen years. It’s still weird doing this without having him as a sounding board, and I’m not sure it’ll ever feel normal.

After Larry’s death, much was written & spoken about him. Not just from 411 writers & alumni, it seemed like everybody that Larry encountered had good things to say about him, including some of wrestling’s biggest names. 411 continues striving to reach his high standards, as I try to with everything I write. I don’t think I’ve managed to on most occasions, but the intent is always there.

That all being said, I’d like to take today to honor Larry Csonka using not just my words. Most of Larry’s work still lives on in the 411 archives, and I think it’d be fun to look back at some of his best columns. To be honest, the rankings don’t matter at all, it’s pretty much in the order of stuff I found that I thought was cool to look back at and was a good reflection of the type of writer & fan that Larry was.

Here are seven magnificent Larry Csonka columns.

7. Is Chris Jericho AEW’s Terry Funk?

We start with the final column Larry posted to 411. Larry was big on wrestling history, and he loved when he could connect the past to the present. He was able to do that with 2020 Chris Jericho and late 1990s Terry Funk.

Chris Jericho has taken that role in AEW. Like Funk he was a man with an established legacy, a star, and eventually an older champion that many people questioned at first. He was the big star AEW needed to help launch, and he’s been great in his role from his role as a wrestler, promos, commentary, anything really. The Inner Circle has been a great part of AEW TV and has helped elevate others. Jericho sees a young Eddie Guerrero in Sammy Guevara and has taken a mentorship role with him, similarly to Funk & Dreamer, although Sammy has way more upside as a top star in the future. He’s working with so many people, he’s lifting up everyone that gets anywhere near him, even guys like Pineapple Pete. Jericho has worked with Page, Allin, The Jungle Boy, Sky, Kenny, Cody, the whole Elite, SCU, and it’s all worked. Chris Jericho has been vital to the early days of AEW, moving business as far as ticket sales and PPV buys, has been good for ratings growth in his segments, and was the right guy at the right time in the right promotion, much like Funk in ECW. While Terry Funk wasn’t the Terry Funk of old in ECW, he was exactly what he needed to be; much like Jericho in AEW.

After thinking about all of this, making the comparisons, I have decided that Chris Jericho is AEW’s Terry Funk. Please don’t turn this into Larry said that Chris Jericho is Terry Funk because he’s not as they are very different performers. But in terms of what they have done and are doing for pledging promotions, this is the best comparison I can make. Chris Jericho IS AEW’s Terry Funk, and that is one of the best compliments that I can give.

As commenter Gerald Moogie wrote, the fact that the last thing he wrote was a compliment to someone else told you everything you needed to know about Larry. (There were others, but I didn’t want to scroll down too far and get emotional about this stuff.) Don’t get me wrong, the guy could bury the shit out of somebody or something if he felt the need, but he preferred to highlight the good.

6. WWE Must Strip Rob Gronkowski of the 24-7 Title

Larry wasn’t always serious about everything. Sure, star ratings & PPV overall scores were complete serious business, but he liked to have a little fun like the rest of us. Like with this article talking about Rob Gronkowski’s 24-7 championship reign, and how it needed to end after the Gronk returned to football.

Listen guys, I am cool with celerity involvement, especially in WWE. It’s been there since Mania I, and likely always will be there to get that Sports Center moment. That’s all well and good, especially with reports that Gronk had signed with WWE. But when the esteemed Ian Rapoport tells me on Twitter that this ungrateful son of a bitch is ready to turn his back on WWE and head back to he NFL after two months, I cannot stand for such bullshit.

I will not stand by and watch Ron Gronkowski shit on the legacies of Sunil Singh, Samer Singh, Mike Kanellis, Maria Kanellis, Titus O’Neil, and all of the fucking workhorses of WWE that built the legacy of this great championship. Ron Gronkowski will not ruin the championship history that Ron the Truth Killings has created, and I’ll be damned if this football geek sullies the integrity of the most pure championship in all of wrestling.

As an esteemed and licensed member of the professional wrestling, sports, & entertainment council, and accredited member of the media, I am formally requesting that Vincent Kennedy McMahon do what’s right for his company, do what’s essential, and strip Ron Gronkowski (IF THAT IS IN FACT HIS REAL NAME) of the WWE 24/7championship. I am sure Vince will agree that this has potential Bret Hart to WCW with the WWF championship ramifications. We can’t have this treasured championship heading to the NFL where some practice squad geek could win it on a.. perish the thought, a Thursday night football contest.

Do the right thing Vince, save our sport from possible disgrace.

I gotta tell you, this felt like the kind of thing I would try to write. Very proud of Larry here.

5. An Isolationist’s Guide To The WWE Network (Tag Teams)

I remember when the pandemic hit, Larry & I were talking about what we were going to do if the wrestling business slowed down like everything else was looking to. As it turned out, it ended up not being much of an issue since WWE & AEW just kept taping stuff, but at one point we were going to dive knee deep into reviewing old stuff for the podcast. Somewhere on Larry’s computer is a podcast reviewing three Clash of the Champions shows that took place during the vaunted Ricky Steamboat/Ric Flair feud. Shame we’ll never get to hear those, and a bigger shame I won’t get to review those next Clash shows with Larry. I was especially looking forward to talking about the DING DONGS!

Speaking of tag teams, Larry loved tag teams like a fat kid loves cake. He enjoyed every chance he got to talk or write about old tag teams, and this series he started up gave him the perfect chance to do so.

The Sheepherders: While not the pure physical and brute force that the Roadies were, due to their size and look, the Sheepherders were a completely different kind of force of nature when it came to their wild brawling style. These two guys were two little bad asses that had their kind of match, and became famous for their wild and bloody brawls. Seeing them come into the NWA and work as great heel foils for the Rock & Rolls and Fantastics (especially) was a joy to see and allowed the babyfaces to have believably beatable foils due to the fact that the Sheepherders weren’t huge like the Roadies, but at the same time, the Sheepherders were such believable bad ass mother fuckers. ALSO… LET ME BE CLEAR, I AM TALKING ABOUT THE NEW ZEALAND SHEEPHERDERS… NOT THE FUCKING BUSHWHACKERS! Trust me, I get it, the move to WWF and a family friendly Bushwhackers gimmick meant job security, more money, and a way to extend their careers so I don’t hate them for doing it, but it was the absolute worst part of their careers for me.

Those Fantastics/Sheepherders matches are sick, by the way. Tremendous stuff.

4. Tremendous Tirades: Painted From My Memories

Getting personal as a writer has been difficult for me. I’ve been working on improving that aspect of my work over the past couple of years, but Larry never needed help with it. A 2004 piece talking about some of the memories that made him a fan showcases it.

I am sure there are times when we ask ourselves:

“Why am I (are you) a wrestling fan? When was it that I (you) became one?”

For me:

I became a fan at the tender age of 5. I watched with my Grandmother all the time. I am not quite sure what hooked me then, the larger than life guys, the cool stuff they could do or was it the drama? I really do not know. But I loved it, and I always have.

I can say with 100% honesty that I will always love wrestling. But why? Is it because I have watched for 22 years? Perhaps it is because I have trained to become a wrestler? That is some of it, but not all. I think the real reason is the lasting memories I have. I think of these things a lot as I look back on my years of watching. So here are just some of these memories I have.

Larry covers all the hits from Flair & the Horsemen to Hogan & Andre, and even the last WCW Nitro, which we would podcast about many years later.

There are many, many more memories that I have. You see this is why I am a fan, and these are just some of the memories I have. They have shaped my history in wrestling. I watch because I love it. I take the good with the bad and do my best to remain just a fan. I may write columns here on 411, but I am the same as everyone of you, a fan. But why is it that I remember these things? I am not sure why these particular memories are so vivid. Why do you love wrestling? What do you remember? Perhaps you memories are of Larry Zybsko as the AWA Champion, Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior at WM VII, The Undertaker coming back from the dead, Shawn Michaels living his childhood dream or even the birth of the nWo. You see my friends, I don’t know what you remember. I don’t know how you remember certain events. I do know one thing though; at one time we all JUST loved it. Maybe I do have a romanticized view of wrestling, I am not quite sure. Perhaps I love it so much because the views and love I have are just painted from my memories.

That was one difference between us. My love for the wrestling has mostly been hidden with witty sarcasm & bitterness over the years. Larry’s was easier to see.

3. Our Take On 1.17.11: The 2010 TNA Wrestling Awards Spectacular

Larry & I were the main TNA/Impact Wrestling supporters back in the day. It wasn’t so much that we were homers that pumped up everything they did…we were just the only ones on the 411 staff at the time willing to watch the shows and give them a chance. So when Csonka wanted to do a column giving out various TNA year-end awards back in 2004, I was down. We kept doing it several years afterward, I think we stopped because Hulk Hogan killed my will to watch the show, or something along those lines. (Some aspects of the early 2010s are kind of fuzzy for me.)

It was always fun though, so let’s look back at this one. Not to toot my own horn here, but I sure was full of fire in that intro paragraph. Not sure what got into me there.

TNA’s “Shocking Moment of the Year” Award

Larry Csonka – Winner: Nothing: Nothing is the winner, because nothing this company does surprises me anymore. They can have AMAZING matches, they can have AMAZING promos, but then again, they do shit like bring in Scott Hall and Sean Waltman, and they continue to show that they have no idea how to properly build to grow PPV buy rates. They are willing to reach back to the past, hand out money to anyone with a name, underpay people that work the hardest for them, and still, they are in the same exact position that they were in last year. So yeah, for all they do well, TNA is still the same, and unfortunately that doesn’t surprise me or shock me, it just makes me sad because the potential, as I think we all know, is there.

If a paragraph ever summed up most of TNA’s existence, that would be it.

2. Best Damn TNA Recap 05.26.04: World Cup Edition

We covered the last earlier, so now we need to cover the first. Larry started out recapping TNA pay-per-view events, it was something he loved to do and his interest in the product was somewhat infectious. Here’s Larry introducing himself to 411 main page readers for the first time:

Welcome to THE BEST DAMN TNA RECAP of the 5-26-04 show for 411wrestling.com. I am your party host Larry Csonka! Who’s that, a new guy? Indeed my friends but no I am not Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka of the Miami Dolphins, just a VERY distant relation.

Well, a little background. I live in North Carolina, but grew up in Pittsburgh Pa. (Long live the Steelers!) Went to college in Fairmont WV. And have a B.A. in Music Education. I have been married over 4 years, and have a 2-year-old Daughter that kicks like Low Ki. For work I am the Choir Director at my church, and am a stay at home dad. I would like to tell you all about my finding the net and 411 being a green and black geocities place, but that speech is overdone.

For my style, I recap on the fly and do my best to catch as much as humanly possible. I don’t do star ratings, not my thing. So sit back and relax and enjoy The Best Damn TNA Recap!

I just love reading the “I don’t do star ratings” bit. He & I fought those damn things for the longest time. We both lost.

Honorable Mention: The long introductions

Don’t know if you guys remember this or not, but Larry had a habit early on of giving himself an excessive amount of nicknames to introduce himself with for every article or recap he wrote. I doubt this is the full list, but this is what I was able to find:

Welcome to The Best Damn TNA Recap: Ver. 2 for 411wrestling.com. Time for TNA IMPACT! I say IMPACT like that because, well, it’s my job! So, without any further adieu…Ladies and gentlemen boys and girls CHILDREN of all ages, 411 mania proudly brings to you, the GREATEST COLUMNIST IN THE WOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLD…your party host, the Alpha Male, the Headliner, your Master of Ceremonies, the Main Event, Ashish’s son in law, the Charismatic Enigma, the American Dream, the ICON, old saint Nick, the Show Stoppa, Scott Rutherford’s #1 fill-in, the Next Big Thing, the sensation of innovation, the Bionic Yankee, Double M’s favorite writer, the innovator of violence, in some circles known as the Tremendous one, the Captain of Charisma, the Chosen One, the King of Bling Bling, the Master of Disaster, the Cerebral Assassin, a True Blue Chipper, the Man of 1027 holds, the King of the Mountain, the Choice of a New Generation, the owner of 45% of 411wrestling.com LLC stock, the Man of a Million Columns, the truly Phenomenal one, also known as the man that eats T-bone steaks and lift bar bell plates and is sweeter than a German chocolate cake. Known as the REAL reflection of perfection and the #1 selection. The women’s pet, every man’s regret, what you see is what you get and what you don’t see is better yet. The man of the hour, the one with all the power, too sweet to be sour and believe me baby I’m bad to the bone…I am the beer drinkin, middle finger givin, ass kickin son of a bitch Larry “The Boss” Csonka, and I am here to do my thing.

Man, that used to get heat with some folks behind the scenes. Writers sure got whiny about stuff back then. Now…well, honestly, I don’t know because I don’t talk to any of these people. No reason for all that mess.

1. My Take On 5.10.10: Remembering the Igloo

Larry was a Pittsburgh guy, which led to our most bitter disputes. All over football. This article struck me as a good one to include here, as it covered some of Larry’s favorite live event memories.

The year is 1998 and I have moved from the City of Champions to Fairmont, West Virginia to attend college. Alcohol consumption is up, I a have a place with some friends, the GPA is at 3.2 and I am still a wrestling fan. Being that I am in college, and it was needed, I am also on “THE INTERNET.” Besides discovering internet “pr0n,” I have discovered wrestling NEWZ SITEZ. I frequented the AOL rooms, I learned of the Dirt Sheets, and I found my go to page for wrestling news. 411 Wrestling. Shitty design, horrible green, Stone9Cold didn’t know about formatting, truly horrible, but it had news, and I liked it. As I chilled at my house, I get a call from a friend, Andy, who has tickets to the KOTR PPV at the Igloo. They are in the Fox Sports box, which meant free food, free beer and for me free wrestling. I was there. I suppose we’ll label this the beginning of my SMARK years.

We arrived and were ushered up to the luxury box, and as we headed there, we padded by ken Shamrock, The Road Warriors (MARK OUT) and Vince McMahon himself. Andy’s dad worked for Fox Sports, and knew Vince personally, and so did Andy. The Boy as he was nicknamed, because he was 19 and looked 14, walked up to Vince, Vince yelled, “ANDREW MY BOY” and fucking hugs him. They chat, I stand there with my dick in my hand and then we head to the Fox Box. I asked Andy why he didn’t introduce me, and his answer, “I forgot.” Fuck you boy, fuck you.

One wonders how the wrestling world would have changed had Larry managed to get in Vince’s ear.

The GoFundMe for Larry’s family is still active, and I’d like to thank all of you that have donated to it over the past 11+ months. I’d also like to thank all of you for reading, and invite you to share some of your favorite Csonka articles and/or memories down in the comments or with me on the Twittah.

Thank you, Larry.

article topics :

AEW, TNA, WWE, Steve Cook