by Jonathan Barber
Right off the bat, I want to give two special shout-outs:
First, to former XPW star Steve Rizzono, who has been having very severe health problems (especially with his back) since 2003, which have made basic daily tasks extremely difficult to perform. This past week, Rizzono received major spinal surgery. Two ligaments were removed. He is currently recovering in the hospital and is in the process of learning to walk again. More spinal surgery is likely. Brain surgery may have to be done down the line as well. Everybody, please keep Steve in your prayers.
Second, to former XPW King of the Deathmatch Altar Boy Luke (Luke Hawx), who appeared on SmackDown! against Chuck Palumbo. Congratulations!
John Kronus the person: Wrestling With Life
Brought to you by XPW: Bleeding Was Only HALF the Job
July 26, 2007
The first USWA promo for a tag team known as The Eliminators began with Perry Saturn introducing himself in a deadly 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.
The 250-plus-pound master of the 450 Splash passed away on Wednesday, July 18, at 38 years old. When Kronus executed the 450 Splash on someone in the ring, it felt as soft as a feather. He was 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 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 due to him. For the part of his career during which he was in the limelight, he was stuck as a tag team wrestler and 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 would 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 who knew Kronus would say that the assessment is accurate.
Anybody who knew Kronus will also acknowledge his deep appreciation for Saturn as his tag team partner. When Saturn abandoned him in early 1997 for greener pastures (namely WCW), Kronus felt depressed on and off for the rest of his wrestling career. On some days, the feelings of depression were stronger than on other days. He confided this in a few of his friends, including 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 would no longer 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 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.” 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 the blood could begin to flow.
Kronus would also take showers in the women’s 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 asked 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 was not too sure if this particular wrestler would want to use it. Suffice it to say, the wrestler in question continued 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 would 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 huddling down on his knees below the dashboard like a toddler: “Pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pwease pweeeeaaase!!!” Respecting that it was Kloss’ car, and realizing that his previous strategy of begging wouldn’t 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 Kronus had to stick his whole body out the window. Kloss had only said 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 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 rarely, if ever, brought soap, conditioner, shampoo, or other bathing products because he knew the other boys would have them. As a result, he would frequently bang on wrestlersâ€™ doors in the wee hours of the morning, begging them to let him borrow these products! Kronus had very abnormal sleeping hours compared to the average person.
- Kronus also hit on Kristi Myst a lot, although almost all of the XPW boys admittedly 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 knew he was expected to bleed in the video. To her surprise, Kronus tested negative.
Kronus’ XPW run wrapped up without much explanation. It started after New Year’s Revolution in January 2002, shortly after his father died. “You’re booked for the next show” would be the response whenever he called the Extreme Associates office when they had no plans to book him anymore, but they would never say that. Kronus was being blown off, and he knew it. So, he packed his bags, said goodbye to Cali, and permanently returned to the East Coast.
Regarding the cause of his death, it is no secret that Kronus was one of the most prolific partiers in the wrestling business. He did virtually every drug imaginable throughout 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 XPWâ€™s resident drug dealer. Kronus told friends that he had used somas since the early stages of his wrestling career.
Kronus also shared needles (Nubain) with Chris Candido at XPW shows. At times, he was yelled at for doing so. There is a rumor that Shane Douglas once confronted Candido and Kronus in the locker room about this. Douglas admitted 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 were 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. 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 every XPW show 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 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 customers instantly turned their heads toward Kronus as they wondered what 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 that 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, 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.
Kronus had almost entirely removed himself from the wrestling business at his death. He kept in contact with very few wrestling people for the last four or five years. For instance, Axl Rotten, one of Kronus’ best friends dating back to The Eliminators and The Bad Breeds 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 am clarifying that I do not know what Kronus has been up to in the past five years. As indicated above, there are probably not many people outside his family who 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 except for some specific anecdotes, most of what I have said here in regards to Kronus’ drug use is already out in the open if you can 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 yes, he was one of the funniest guys in the wrestling business. Kronus was damn proud to live on the edge of normality.
However, beyond 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 Wrestling Observer indicates that Kronus was very successful in his fatherly obligations to his son.
John Kronus brought innumerable laughs to those who knew him and gave his son every ounce of love in his body.
Contact: [email protected]