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22 January 2017

#RIPChris


Chris had been using the picture above as his avatar for several years and it will forever be synonymous with him, so I decided to use that instead of my usual banner.  First, I would like to thank everyone for the kind words expressed in regards to our dear friend Chris who passed away on Wednesday, January 18th due to complications from cancer.  The outpouring of condolences, support and love for him has been really amazing to witness.  There have been hundreds of comments and tweets posted in tribute to Chris.  I know his family truly appreciates it as I have been in communication with his sister Vivian this week.  Chris was one of my best friends and I will miss him dearly, and I know a lot of you will as well.  When Chris, Lee and I decided to create TNAMecca, we had no idea that it would grow into the close-knit, resilient and popular community that it is today.  We don't talk about the numbers much but a few thousand people (and often many more) visit TNAMecca everyday.  It's commonplace for our posts to have a thousand plus comments.  We started from scratch and have grown into a sizable group of friends and fellow wrestling fans from all over the world in the space of three and a half  years.  Chris has been the maestro throughout it all.  He cared deeply about the sustainability and longevity of this website and he put in work on it for the last year and a half while dealing with a horrible disease, unbeknownst to us.  TNAMecca is Chris Regal.  Chris Regal is TNAMecca.  He was our valiant leader and I hope that I can come close to doing as well as he did in that role.  I have no doubt that he would have continued to be the backbone of this operation for several years to come and we had discussed that very thing many times over the years.  He displayed thoughtful regard for each one of you and took pride in being such a vital part of this unique domain in which we congregate together.  I am certain that everything he did with TNAMecca was for the betterment of the site and community.  He was assertive about his opinions when it came to pro wrestling and he wished absolutely nothing but the best for TNA.   

The Chris that I knew behind the scenes was a really good man.  He had a great sense of humor and we enjoyed some good laughs together over the years.  He often mentioned how he lived by the mantra of "less is more".  Chris was a really intelligent person and that was displayed in his writing as he possessed the ability to really captivate and engage his readers.  There was a time here at TNAMecca when his weekly Randomania pieces were highly anticipated and generated intense discussion and debate.  Chris also conducted several excellent interviews with TNA wrestlers over the years.  Those interviews were an exhibit of a true fan getting the chance to directly interact with the performers that he revered.  Chris was also a proud gay man and I'd like to think that he helped some people out there in the world overcome their prejudice towards the LGBT population or at least achieve a higher level of tolerance.  He did that by just being himself and not apologizing for it.  Chris worked for a nonprofit organization and was an advocate for equality.  He was also a big supporter of animal rights.  Chris was a dedicated sports fan of all the major Philadelphia teams (especially the Phillies and Eagles). He also was a Spurs fan of the Premier League of English football (soccer for us Americans).  He was a lover of all things 80's, in particular the movies and music of that era.  Chris was passionate about politics but never forced his political opinions on people here. 

Chris always treated me with respect and was very professional in how he handled site business.  He had a vision of how he wanted the site to look and what the overall tone should be.  We made decisions together and weighed things carefully.  Chris sacrificed hundreds of hours of his time to make TNAMecca what it is today.  We had exchanged a few thousand emails over the past several years so I feel like I knew him pretty well.  He moderated this site more than anyone.  He always had a finger on the pulse of the happenings here.  The descriptions that you see listed underneath the "CHAT" and "Impact Live Discussion" banners were mostly his words and thoughts.  His influence and imprint on TNAMecca are felt and seen everywhere here.  The layout and design of site, the sidebar, the graphics, the guidelines and policies, the motto of "The Premier Community For Impact Wrestling Fans" ; it all came primarily from him.   He was genuinely proud of the evolution of this community and felt very satisfied for how friendly and troll-free the environment indeed was.  He was fair in his dealings with individuals and forgiving to those who those who broke rules.  There were many unpleasant people out there that continually attacked him for being the face of TNAMecca and he took it all in stride.  Even when I would start fighting back and get upset at those awful people for personally bombarding us with hate, he would simply advise me to just ignore them.  This counsel didn't always make sense to me at the time but as the years went by, that judgment call proved to be extremely wise.  I echo Chris' sentiment of disregarding the hate and trolling that surrounds TNA fans moving forward.  Those sad, repulsive people and their opinions will unfortunately exist as long as TNAMecca exists but we need to be the better people by not playing into it. 

How many times did we see Chris type the words, "TNA! TNA! TNA!" ?  His love for TNA was renowned.  I'd venture to say that based on the significant online response to his passing that he was one of the most well known TNA fans in the entire world.  I remember a couple years back when Impact was airing on Destination America, there was an episode where the network and TNA did an entire show while showcasing live tweets from fans on screen.  Guess who had the very first fan tweet that was shown on national TV?  That's right, it was Chris.  Also, a few years back he attended his one and only Impact Wrestling show, which was a night of TV tapings at the Manhattan Center.  He was initially hesitant to attend, mainly because Chris was a somewhat private person by nature.  So being out in a hostile environment on the front row was not exactly his cup of tea. Thankfully he had a wonderful experience that night and got to meet Brett and some other fellow TNA fans in the process.  If you knew one thing about what Chris Regal preferred when it comes to professional wrestling, it is that he enjoyed the product much more when the actual wrestling involved was of high quality.  Not that he didn't enjoy promos and other elements but his advocacy for TNA to book great wrestling matches was very consistent.  He wrote several columns about the need for TNA to go back to their roots of yesteryear when the facet of great wrestling was prevalent and also urged for a revival of the X-Division.  He really felt that these things would help TNA get the much needed buzz that they currently lack.  If you have noticed a slight tweaking of the main TNAMecca banner at the top of the page then you have a keen eye.  Chris recently altered the coloring to more fully highlight the six sided ring.  That was the last significant change that Chris made to the website.  He did it to emphasize the importance of what actually happens inside that ring.  To him, that is what mattered most in professional wrestling in both a literal and figurative sense.  The honest-to-goodness pro wrestling skills on display is what he wanted to see most.  If there is one thing that TNA officials can take away from this column, it's that it is imperative that the superior wrestling that once was routine in their promotion needs to return and remain a top priority.    

I did not expect TNA officials and wrestlers to recognize Chris in the classy manner that they did a few days ago.  Just look at these 3 tweets and let it sink in:

  
So where do we go from here?  Well, I can assure you that TNAMecca will carry on as long as I am able to do so.  My sincere hope is that that would end up being several more years.  In his final gift to everyone here, Chris actually set aside money before he passed to ensure that the website domain name be paid for annually well into the future.  It was very important to him for TNAMecca to continue to exist and serve as a community for TNA fans to gather and have discussions.  I know this has been a rough time in the last week for all of us, but the way to best remember Chris is to make sure that this place continues to survive and thrive.  Don't let his death be in vain.  His legacy lives on with all of us.  TNAMecca's future success boils down to you guys doing what you have been doing already.  I want everyone to continue to feel welcome in coming here to discuss TNA, pro wrestling and life.  We've had some fun times here and there's no reason for that to end.  There are some great friendships which have been formed here that would not have happened otherwise.  Please help me in keeping Chris' legacy alive through keeping TNAMecca alive.  I'm certain that he would be happy in knowing that things will go on here as per usual.  I did not get a chance to say goodbye to him and if this situation has taught me something it is that tomorrow is never guaranteed.  Make the most out of every day that we have in this life.  If you feel like sharing a memory or story about Chris, please do so below.  Also, Chris had requested that any donations made in his memory are to be given to the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  A link to their website in order to do so can be found here.  Rest in peace my friend.  I am grateful for the time that I was given with you in my life.  Wherever you are now, I'm sure you are smiling and watching over us all.  We will never forget you. 

From Brett:

I first visited this site at 14 years old. Chris was nothing but welcoming, kind, patient, and open minded towards me and every member here. Most would have dismissed a kid at that age, at that time, from taking part in discussions on a wrestling site, but not him. At the TNA tapings in June of 2014 I had the privilege of meeting Chris. Let me tell you, Chris was exactly like he was in person as he was online. He was positive and just wanted to have fun, he was the type of person that made everyone around him want to be a better person.

Chris was selfless and a perfect example of that is when he wrote me a letter of recommendation that I gave to my college, which increased my odds of getting accepted. Moreover, when some members wanted me to be a writer for this site, Chris not only considered it, but he gave me a chance. With the opportunity of writing on this great site, Chris gave me an opportunity to get on a platform to voice my opinions, but more importantly to voice my passions for wrestling on a level that seemed unrealistic for me. I am forever grateful to him and his generosity. I am forever humbled and honored to have a strong friendship with Chris.

He may not be here physically or on this site anymore, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually he will never die or be forgotten. Thank you, Chris. This is why we must love, respect, and welcome one another. Life is short. People will forget what you said or did for them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Chris made us all feel at home and made us feel like we belonged. We should do the same for future members that join this site, but we should also do it in the real world with new people that enter our lives. RIP Chris. Thank you for making the world a better place due to your actions, words, and involvement.

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