John Kronus the person: "Wrestling With Life"
July 30, 2007 by Jonathan Barber
Editor's Note: The author of this column can be contacted via the OWW Forums, where this submission was first posted. Feedback can be posted automatically by clicking
here - but remember you must sign up for the forums to post feedback on a column. Thanks you!
The first USWA promo of a tag team known as "The Eliminators" began with Perry Saturn introducing himself in a dead serious tone: "I'm Perry Saturn. I'm out of this world."
Then came something just a little bit different...
A goofy voice shouted, "I'm John Kronus. I'm out of control!!!"
Such was George Caiazzo, better known as John Kronus, in a nutshell.
The 250-plus pound master of the 450° Splash passed away at 38 years old on Wednesday, July 18.
In the ring, when Kronus executed the 450° Splash on someone, it felt as soft as a feather. He was *that* good at what he did.
And boy did other wrestlers respect that move! Tens of wrestlers stayed down for the dreaded 450° attack and sold it as the final nail in the coffin. The only person to ever kick out of it was XPW's Pogo the Clown in late 2001, according to what Kronus told Pogo before they went out to do the match.
John Kronus had more athletic ability than 99% of the professional wrestlers of his era, though it is arguable that he still never got the credit that was due to him. He was stuck as a tag team wrestler for the part of his career during which he was in the most limelight, and he was often thought of as the lesser important of the two in this particular tag team.
Although he and Saturn began their relationship as great friends, they soon found that their personalities clashed over simple issues like where they were going to park their car for a show. Their differences in behavior were even incorporated into their ECW promos, during which Saturn would frequently give Kronus dirty looks for messing around during important tag team "business."
On at least one occasion, Saturn remarked to other wrestlers that Kronus was a child in a grown man's body. Many of those who knew Kronus would say that there is probably some accuracy to that assessment.
Anybody that knew Kronus, though, will also acknowledge that he had a very deep appreciation for Saturn as his tag team partner. In fact, when Saturn abandoned him in early 1997 for greener pastures (namely WCW), Kronus began to feel depressed on-and-off for the rest of his wrestling career. Some days, the feelings of depression were stronger than other days. He confided this in a select few of his friends, one of whom was Balls Mahoney.
Kronus was fully aware that The Eliminators were one of the best tag teams in the world during the mid-90s and he felt very sad when he realized that they were no longer going to be together as a tag team. He always missed those days (and would speak of them highly to friends) because he thought that they could have attained endless success if they had stuck together longer than they did.
In some ways, Kronus was doing little more than echoing in his own head the opinions of ECW's most devoted fans, who realized soon after Saturn departed ECW that Kronus' best days were behind him.
It was always obvious that Kronus was the whacky, happy-go-lucky half of The Eliminators. The split from Saturn never changed his personality. Kronus was, quite simply, goofy far beyond the standard definition of "goofy." As one of the most notorious "ribbers" in the entire wrestling business, it goes without saying that nobody ever left a room that Kronus was in without wearing a huge smile on their face.
Some of Kronus' funnier moments include:
>>>One time on an ECW car trip to Pittsburgh with The Blue Meanie, Kronus was (in Meanie's words) "fucked up" and started sideswiping parked cars left and right, barely avoiding crashes.
>>>"Mindless" Mike Frugeria contributed the following two stories:
At some of the early XPW shows, Kronus would blade wrestlers before their matches and then rub Vaseline on their wounds so that when the time was right, they could intentionally and easily open up the cut so that the blood could begin to flow.
Kronus would also take showers in the womens' locker room in XPW and freak the porn stars out with the blood trails that he left.
>>>One night after an XPW show, one of the boys (who will remain nameless) had brought a "rat" back to the hotel in Bakersfield and intended to have sex with her. This wrestler went around asking if anyone had condoms and eventually arrived at Kronus. The former-Eliminator responded that he did have a condom but after what he did with this condom in the shower earlier in the day, he wasn't too sure if this particular wrestler would want to use it.
Suffice to say, the wrestler in question continued on to another person to ask if they had a condom that he could use.
>>>Another time, Kronus was carpooling with Kris Kloss from Van Nuys to Ventura where an XPW show was going to be held. They were riding in Kloss' car on U.S. Route (Highway) 101. Kloss would not allow Kronus to smoke a cigarette in his car, so the mammoth Kronus started pleading with Kloss while literally huddling down on his knees below the dashboard like a toddler: "Pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pweeeeaaase!!!"
Respecting the fact that it was Kloss' car, and realizing that his previous strategy of begging wasn't going to work, Kronus asked Kloss whether he could smoke if he hung out the window. Kloss said yes. So, Kronus went out of his way to respect Kloss' wishes (and the fact that it was his car) and proceeded to hang nearly his entire 300 pound body out the window of a 70-mile-per-hour moving car just so that he could smoke without disrespecting Kloss' wishes.
Kloss had never said that Kronus had to stick his whole body out the window. The only thing Kloss had said was that he did not mind if Kronus smoked as long as the window was down.
At one point, Kronus stuck his head back into the car and shouted, "How's dat Kwoss, you ain't gettin' any smoke in 'der, ah (are) ya, cause if you ah, I wiw thwow (will throw) dis' puppy out!"
To cap it all off, while he was nearly falling out the window of this fast-traveling vehicle, Kronus realized that the side of the road was lined with cactuses. Having never seen cactuses in person because he was from New Hampshire, Kronus began "marking out" and begging Kloss again, this time to stop the car so that he could get a better look: "Hey Kwoss, dose wook wike dose cactuses I saw in dose Speedy Gonzawez cawtoons!"
In reality, the cactuses were tiny compared to the size of those that could be found in, for example, Africa, but Kronus was beyond ecstatic just to be driving in such a setting.
Besides, this should come as no surprise as Kronus loved nature. He went hunting in the mountains often, and many of those times Big Dick Dudley came along with him.
>>> Anybody who knew Kronus will tell you that he rarely wiped the blood off of his face until hours after his match. One time, there were some newspaper reporters backstage at an XPW show. That night, Kronus had been in a particularly violent match. He walked up to the reporters wearing a crimson mask, wiped the blood off his face so that it landed on the floor right in front of their feet, and walked off without saying a word.
>>>When he was in XPW, Kronus would rarely, if ever, bring soap, conditioner, shampoo, or other bathing products because he knew that the other boys would have them. As a result, he would frequently bang on wrestlers' doors in the wee hours of the morning begging them to let him borrow these products! It goes without saying that Kronus had very abnormal sleeping hours compared to the average person.
>>>Kronus also used to hit on Kristi Myst a lot, although admittedly, pretty much all of the XPW boys did that at one time or another.
>>Kronus did a non-sex bondage video (titled "Violence on Violence) with Nicole Bass in 2000 for Extreme Associates. The film featured Kronus getting his ass kicked by Bass as she threw him around the Extreme Associates warehouse.
When she was first asked about doing the video, Bass demanded that Kronus get tested for HIV and STDs (and that he test negative) if she was going to do the video with him. Bass knew about Kronus' partying reputation and was aware that he was expected to bleed in the video. To her surprise, Kronus tested negative.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Bass supposedly got $6,000 for that single video (as well as for most of the six other bondage films she did for Extreme Associates). That is more than just about anybody except for Jenna Jameson and XPW "Bleeding Was Only HALF the Job"'s own Ron Jeremy (http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KF2BRGPB) makes in a film, and the part of this particular film that features Kronus and Bass came out to only about 15 minutes in length. There is no word on how much (or little) money Kronus made for "Violence on Violence."]
Kronus' XPW run wrapped up without much explanation. It started after New Year's Revolution in January 2002 which was shortly after his father had died. "You're booked for the next show" would be the response whenever he called the Extreme Associates office when of course they had no plans of booking him anymore, but they would never say that straight out. Kronus was being blown off and he knew it. So, he packed his bags, said good bye to Cali, and returned to the East coast...permanently. [EDITOR'S NOTE: This is how most of the wrestlers (including Buddy Rose) were "let go of" by XPW.
As far as the cause of his death, it is no secret that Kronus was one of the most prolific partiers in the entire wrestling business. He did virtually every drug imaginable over the course of his career, among them OxyContin (his use of which was mentioned by Bruno Sammartino on the July 20 edition of Nancy Grace), Nubain, and especially somas. On at least one occasion, Kronus was seen purchasing OxyContin from The Sandman and buying bottles with 200 somas backstage from XPW's resident drug dealer. Kronus told friends that he had used somas since the early stages of his wrestling career.
Kronus was also seen sharing needles (Nubain) with Chris Candido at XPW shows. At times, he was yelled at for doing so. There is a rumor that one time Shane Douglas confronted Candido and Kronus in the locker room about this. Douglas admitted to myself that he did confront Candido and another wrestler at an XPW show about their using needles, but would not name the other wrestler.
These are only the "wrestling drugs" that Kronus used; there are many recreational "street" drugs that Kronus took over the years as well.
Kronus loved to drink alcohol as well.
Kronus was well aware that drugs and alcohol taken together was a deadly combination. For that reason, around 2000-2002, he made vows to some of his close friends (one of whom was Balls Mahoney, and I believe New Jack was another.) that he would make a choice once and for all between alcohol or drugs and take one or take the other. I cannot help but suspect that he may have picked the latter.
Having said all of this, it should come as no surprise that Kronus was deeper into wrestling's drug scene than the large majority of wrestlers, and his passing is very likely another drug-related death. In fact, I would honestly be very surprised if his death did NOT somehow involve such substances.
Kronus was a partier and he had his demons. There is no getting around that fact. However, his personal life was a much different story.
Even more important than Kronus' relationship with his wrestling colleagues was his relationship with his family. His demons did NOT negatively affect his relationship with his son Gage. Kronus talked about this son whenever he was at a wrestling show, as well as during car rides with the "boys."
While a lot of his traveling buddies are obvious to fans (Axl, Sabu, Sandman, Candido, and Big Dick), one other guy who Kronus did a lot of traveling with while in XPW was Steve Rizzono. Kronus and Rizzono would make early-morning trips to the bank following just about every XPW show in order to cash their checks. Kronus talked about Gage constantly during these rides.
One morning, Kronus was standing in Western Union with Rizzono. Kronus was wearing pajamas, a tank-top, Rizzono's hat, and no shoes as he wrote a telegram to his son, accompanied by a check for a toy that his son desperately wanted for his birthday. The thought that he could not give Gage this gift in person (since he was on the road) made Kronus feel horrible. The best Kronus could do was send a check for it.
At the same time, Kronus also wrote a check to his wife to help cover their mortgage. When Kronus messed up writing one of the checks, he shouted "FAAAAAACK!" at the top of his lungs. If you hadn't guessed already, most of the customers instantly turned their heads toward Kronus as they wondered what on earth had happened for this behemoth to yell in such a manner.
On this particular day, Kronus sent home to New Hampshire one envelope for his wife that had money designated to help pay off their mortgage and a separate telegram which included a check (intended for the purchase of the particular toy) and a loving letter to his son.
Kronus *lived* for that son.
In fact, a friend of mine was told by Kronus at a 2002 indy show that the reason he was planning to get out of wrestling (at least temporarily) was more because he wanted to spend time with his son than because of injuries.
According to an old edition of The Wrestling Lariat which can be found in the archives of rspw.org at Google Groups, Gage was born on April 18 or 19, 1998 to Kronus and his wife Stacy. The Wrestling Lariat stated that Stacy had married Kronus on the weekend of September 13, 1997. Kronus eventually got divorced from his wife.
At the time of his death, Kronus had almost entirely removed himself from the wrestling business. He kept in contact with very few wrestling people for the last four or five years of his life. For instance, Axl Rotten, who was one of Kronus' best friends dating all the way back to The Eliminators' and The Bad Breed's 1994 USWA stint, only got back in contact with him a few months ago. Kronus and Axl had previously lost touch with each other around early 2000 when XPW stopped booking Axl.
I want to make it clear that I do not know what Kronus had been up to in the past five years. In fact, as indicated above, there are probably not many people outside of his family who do know this. I am only speaking here in reference to an approximately five-year period from early 1997 to late 2001.
It should also be noted that with the exception of some specific anecdotes, most of what I have said here in regards to Kronus' drug use is in fact already out in the open if you are able to read between the lines in shoot interviews where he has been a topic of discussion.
When you think back on Kronus, please remember that he was more than just a backstage clown or prankster and also more than just a successful pro wrestler. Yes he partied, yes he drank, yes he did drugs, yes he was athletic beyond belief, and and yes he was definitely one of the funniest guys in the wrestling business. Kronus was damn proud to live on the edge of normality.
However, beyond all of this, Kronus was like so many other fathers out there in the world who devote their lives to molding a better life for their kid(s). Gage's commentary about his father at http://www.wrestlingobserver.com/wo/news/headlines/default.asp?aID=20270 indicates that Kronus was very successful in his fatherly obligations to his son.
John Kronus brought innumerable amounts of laughs to those who knew him and gave his son every ounce of love in his body.
by Jonathan Barber (View/Submit your feedback here)..
© 2007, Black Pants, Inc. All other trademarks are property of their respective holders.