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There is an old saying that time heals all wounds. Yet at this time every year, the hearts of Combat Zone Wrestling wrestlers, staff, and fans begins to ache. Every time this year, a wound many hope will eventually heal reopens. Five years ago to this day, CZW lost an extremely talented young man in Christopher Bauman, better known to the wrestling world as Chri$ Ca$h. I had the privilege of meeting Chris a couple times after shows. He was always gracious & took time to talk to the fans. While I may not have the honor of knowing Chris on a personal level, I feel it is important to pay tribute to a man who kept not only me interested in the Combat Zone, but captured the hearts of the CZW fans.
I started attending CZW shows towards the end of 2003. The first match I saw Chris compete in is the now legendary ladder match against Joker from Cage of Death V: Suspended. I, like the rest of the jammed packed CZW Arena audience, was completely blown away by what I was witnessing. If you've never seen the match, check out this week's Cage of Death Rewind on the main page of the CZW website or at the COD XII page to view highlights. Chris & Joker did things with ladders I never thought would be possible in a wrestling match. I vividly remember sitting in the bleachers on the South side of the Arena & jumping to my feet screaming as Joker hit the Joker Driver on Chris to finish the match. Even though he lost, Chris was on the road to stardom at that point.
2004 saw a nearly year long war between Chris & the BLK OUT. From January until September, Chris had been on the receiving end of multiple beatings from the stable. All of that that changed when he defeated "Spyder" Nate Webb & JC Bailey in a High Stakes Ladder match to become a team captain for Cage of Death VI: Dual Dimension. Former CZW Owner John Zandig dropped off of the team, giving it to Chris. Team Ca$h would grow over the next few months & would ultimately consist of Chris as the team captain, JC Bailey, "Spyder" Nate Webb, & Sexxxy Eddy. The team would go on to capture the CZW World Tag Team Championship from the BLK OUT in a War Games style Cage of Death match to close out 2004. A rule was instated that any pairing of the 4 men could defend the titles in their upcoming matches.
Riding the high of a World Tag Team Championship win into 2005, Chris & Sexxxy Eddy went on to defeat Super Dragon & Excalibur in Team Ca$h's first defense of the belts. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Due to internal strife amongst the teammates, Chris & "Spyder" Nate Webb lost the belts in their second defense in February to the H8 Club. Afterward, JC Bailey turned on his friend, frustrated that he had not been chosen to help defend the belts since the team's win at COD6. Tragically, this was the last time fans would see Chris compete in the Combat Zone.
On August 18, 2005, at the young age of 23, Chris & his cousin were killed in a motorcycle accident near his home. I remember breaking down & crying when I read the news. While I may not have known him personally, the tragic death of someone so talented, who's star was just beginning to shine, & so close in age to me was enough to make me weep.
Today marks the 5 year anniversary of the passing of a talented young man taken from all of us entirely too soon. I encourage all of you to watch a Chri$ Ca$h match today. Reflect on what he did to make you smile, cheer, or jump to your feet. Take time to remember your encounters with him outside the ring. On Friday night, September 10th, come down to The Arena & help honor and celebrate the life of this gifted young man.
RIP Chri$ Ca$h. You might be gone, but you sure as Hell are not forgotten. I know I speak for everyone when I say that we all will indeed be Down With The Sickness...Forever.
In Memory of Christopher "Chri$ Ca$h" Bauman 7/13/82 to 8/18/05