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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Naturals: An Unexpected Turn
July 4, 2005 by Ben Myatt


This is not a column about Chris Candido. I'm not going to delve into his past and his life, But despite that, the subject of this column comes directly from his influence and his tragic passing.

You may wonder why I'm writing about this now. Very simply, because I've just seen, for the first time, The Naturals defending their tag titles at TNA's Hard Justice Pay Per View - which we get a month later in the UK.

Three weeks before the PPV, when the Naturals won the titles off of AMW with the aid of their mentor Candido, they were heels, and good ones at that. They certainly weren't the most popular team in TNA - indeed, they hadn't even had a title shot in TNA's monthly PPV history - and they weren't even a particularly remarkable team.

However, less than a week after they won the belts from AMW, their friend and mentor, who had turned his life around from his days of drug abuse - which even got him fired from ECW, something notoriously difficult to do - died in the tragic fallout from surgery on his broken ankle.

I won't pretend that I could possibly know how Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas reacted to the news. I can't imagine it was well. Even if Candido wasn't really their manager, they had become friends with him, and probably respected him.

And so for two weeks, following the Impact taping and Candido's death, they had to wait, until Hard Justice.

In the second half of the Pay per view, and interview was shown, Mike Tenay with the new Tag Champs. The pair didn't really need to say much. A few choice words from them, whether scripted or not, undoubtedly revealed their feelings. Like many others in the wrestling world, they felt they had lost a friend. They had been working with Candido for several weeks, and it had taken its toll on them.

After the pre-taped interview, the pair made their way to the ring for their rematch with America's Most Wanted. With them, they carried a towel, which they placed over a chair at ringside in the same place that Candido had sat. Chants of "Chris Candido" rang throughout the sound stage. Signs in his memory were raised by fans.

And in the ring, a transformation had taken place.

When I said before that The Naturals weren't particularly remarkable, I hadn't meant they didn't have talent. They'd just never had that certain something that it takes to be the best. On the night of Hard Justice, that changed. Normally when a tag bout is spectacular, it can be attributed to one team, usually the more experienced, and in their matches with the veterans Chris Harris and James Storm, it had usually been AMW taking the lead in the action over the Naturals. Not at hard justice. Don't get me wrong, America's Most Wanted put in an exceptional performance, but The Naturals pulled something fantastic out of their hat that night. In the aftermath of their impassioned words about Candido, They came out with a new energy, and it showed as they put on what was in my opinion the match of the night. From the opening technical moves, to the brawl on the floor, to the moment when Chase Steven's gave tribute to Candido by pinning storm with his feet on the ropes, they gave a performance they had never given before.

And the sell-out crowd at the studio lapped it up. In most TNA Shows, the crowd is usually split between the competitors, especially in title matches, but on this event, I didn't even hear one chant for AMW. In one night, the Naturals had surpassed their more experienced rivals in popularity.

And at the next Pay Per View, Slammiversary, The Naturals faced Team Canada - TNA's premier heel tag team. In the wake of tragedy, the Naturals had become a Face Team.

So where do they go from here" It seems clear to me that the Pair need to step out from the shadow of the tragedy of Candido's death, and strike out on their own. They've found something new within their abilities - and it will see them a long way from here. Congratulations to The Naturals on their success, and I hope that they can carry on their winning ways. They've proved they deserve it.

by Ben Myatt --- [View Ben Myatt's Column Index]..


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