By Caprice Coleman
This by far is the hardest Dose I’ve ever written.
During my time of writing this column, I’ve covered a broad spectrum of issues. It has served as an outlet for my inner feelings.
The passing of Jimmy Rave at 39 this week has given me feelings I’ve never felt before. I haven’t been able to speak on it since it happened. I haven’t had the words.
I love pro wrestling, but there are times like this when I hate it because it can pull you in, pick you up, put you down, chew you up, and spit you out.
I knew Jimmy before he was 18 years old, barely legal age to wrestle. I’ve had so many matches with him that to pick one to talk about would be insulting. I have sweated, cried, and bled with him.
Jimmy was the type of person who became engulfed in any character he was portraying
If he was the good guy, he was the best. If he was the bad guy, he found a way to make you hate him more than you hate your worst enemy. No one played the underdog as he could. It’s a gift, and something you can only pull off when you put pride aside. He embraced his assignments.
This man was uber creative. He would think of things so outside of the box that they wouldn’t make sense if they came from anyone but Jimmy.
He was the type of friend that you didn’t need to see every day or hear from every month. We’d go years without seeing each other and then immediately pick up where we left off.
I knew the young Jimmy very well. Years had passed before I laid eyes on him again. He’d changed, not to a bad person or even a mean one. Just different.
I didn’t know what the change was and refused to listen to what others would allude to – until I saw glimpses of it myself.
Jimmy was battling with drug addiction, something he would later speak publicly about.
I found myself trying to love only his outward shell, the only thing to me that represented him. He picked up on it too.
It broke my heart, not because of Jimmy but because of the ease in which cohorts would talk about him during this time. It angered me. How could you? How dare you?
The pressure of wanting to stay relevant in pro wrestling can be enough to cause some to do things they shouldn't do to be able to perform and cope with their performances. Why? Because it’s been proven how replaceable everybody is.
It’s easy to sit on the outside and judge people based on what you think they should or shouldn’t do. However, if you’re not in that person’s shoes, you shouldn’t speak on it unless you’re speaking on it in love.
I remember talking to him during this time and him looking at me and looking down at the floor as if he had disappointed me. I hugged him so tight because I understood these demons.
Years later, Jimmy called me and told me he was clean. He was so proud to tell me this!
I stayed on the phone for a while feeling empowered listening to his story of redemption. He was working with youths to keep them from making the same mistakes he did. I was so proud of him. I thought his story would make for a good movie.
Shortly after, his health started failing him. His past life was catching up with him, leading to him having both legs and one arm amputated.
He had to come to grips with the fact that he could no longer perform in a sport he literally lived his life for.
I know I’ve said a lot and you’re looking for the bright side of this. Mercifully, he’s no longer in pain and has found peace.
What I want you to get from this is to feel maybe a fraction of the love I have for the people in the sport who sacrifice their lives in and out of the ring to entertain you.
Some of us find it hard to live if we can’t do it. There’s a feeling that when we’re not being seen by you we no longer exist until we die.
I love you James “Jimmy Rave” Guffey, and yes, I’m still proud of you.
Just something to think about. I call it a dose of Colemanism.
Caprice Coleman is ROH’s color analyst and has been wrestling for more than 20 years. He also is an ordained minister and motivational speaker. A Dose of Colemanism appears every Thursday.