Although I have been with Resistance Pro since the very beginning, when I came to work with them I didn’t know anyone involved in the company beforehand. They literally hired me on as their photographer because my friend and former WWE/ECW superstar, Mike Bucci, told them they should. Sam Thompson was the first one to really warm up to me the first time we all got together to scope out the venue for our first show. I quickly found out the first time I met Sam that he and I shared a mutual love for music and pro wrestling. Sam and I talked about various metal bands and I was telling him about which bands I had shot photos of at various concerts.When I talked to Sam I could see that he wasn’t just humoring me by listening to my stories, he was genuinely interested in what I had to say. That made me feel like less of a stranger in this new environment I found myself in.
When I got to the venue for that very first show, I was pretty nervous and Sam was the first person I talked to when I got there which put me at ease. I knew that if no one else talked to me that at least I had one new friend to talk to while working and that made made a lot of my nervousness go away. I’d soon find out what great and friendly people I was working for and with and it didn’t take more than two shows for it to start feeling like a family.
I always looked forward to the shows but one of the things I looked forward to the most was telling Sam about what bands I got to see and shoot since our last show. I didn’t get to do that as many times as I’d have liked. Almost the whole time in the too brief time I knew Sam, I had no idea that he was sick, or what he went through. It wasn’t until he told me that he was going in for surgery that I had any idea he was ill. Sam was always in a good mood when I saw him. He never complained once about anything. He laughed a lot and he also made a lot of laugh. He was an incredibly strong person with an amazing attitude. It wasn’t until he went into the hospital that I’d learn just how strong Sam was and how much he went through when he was younger. He was a fighter and a survivor and he did it for years without complaining or having a bad attitude from the bad hand he was dealt.
Right before Sam went in for surgery, a few of us took him out of a night of fun at a bar. I had no idea that night would be the last time I’d ever see him. We ate, drank, laughed and he and some other of the RPRo family sang karaoke, which in and of itself was hilarious. I remember when I left and said my goodbyes that I told Sam to give me a call when he’s back home recovering and if he needed any movies or anything that I’d happily bring them over. That never happened as Sam lost his battle to cancer in that hospital. Sam was one of the strongest and bravest people I’ve met in life but even the strongest of men sometimes can’t win a match. Sam didn’t tap out to cancer, he fought until he passed out; a fighter right up to the very end.
On Saturday September 19th we are having the third annual Sam Thompson memorial tournament to honor the most beloved member of the RPro family. Sam’s biological family will be there too and they are some of the finest people around, one of whom (his brother Zach) I have the privilege of working with every show. We are pulling out all the stops for this one with two title tournaments that each respective champ is defending their title in. It will be a wonderful tribute to someone I wish I got to spend more time with but was so happy that I got to spend the time with him that I did. Hopefully somewhere up there Sam will be watching and enjoying the tribute we are paying him and see that his strength still inspires each and every one of us.