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The Thread Killer

Chris Hyatte passes away

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Depending on your opinion of him and his "relevance" this might not deserve it's own thread...but I'm going to start one anyhow.  Chris Hyatte died today at the age of 50.  I know the membership here at PWO tends to skew a bit older, so it's likely a number of you remember his name, even if you hadn't heard of him or thought about him for years.

For those of you who don't know who he was, Chris Hyatte was a somewhat notorious Pro Wrestling columnist during the infancy of the so called "Internet Wrestling Community."  When I first went online in 1996, there were only a small handful of sites devoted to Pro Wrestling (as hard as that is to imagine now.)  One of the biggest sites devoted to Pro Wrestling back then was called "Scoops." I think it was in early 1997, when Scoops started to run recaps of the two Monday Night Pro Wrestling shows, during the thick of the "Monday Night War."  The recaps were called "Mop Ups" and they were written by Chris Hyatte. 

Maybe it was because the world of Pro Wrestling fandom online was so much smaller back then, or maybe it's because he was a good writer, or at least really good at getting attention, but for whatever the reason - Chris Hyatte's Mop Ups quickly became extremely popular and somewhat notorious.  Before long, it became a regular occurrence to see signs prominently displayed in the crowds on both Raw and Nitro with either the name HYATTE or some variation thereof. ("MCMAHON FEARS HYATTE" for example.) In a statement on Facebook today the former owner of Scoops, Al Isaacs freely admitted that Chris Hyatte's Mop Up became the most popular column on his site, and was responsible for a large amount of the traffic Scoops ended up getting.

Chris Hyatte would basically recap what had happened on the previous night's show, but he also interspersed his report with liberal doses of his own unique brand of humor.  As the so-called "IWC" grew, it got to the point where you could easily find out what happened on Raw or Smackdown from any number of sources...but there was only one Chris Hyatte. Chris Hyatte's brand of humor was not for everybody.  I am betting that if anybody does bother to respond to this thread, some will be critical or will not have been fans of Hyatte's style of humor. I have frequently seen him described as the "Howard Stern" of the IWC.  There is some truth to that.  There is no denying that Hyatte's writing style relied heavily on sophomoric and frequently crude humor.  There was plenty of R-rated material.  Hyatte could accurately be described as the Pro Wrestling equivalent of a "shock jock."

Some of Chris Hyatte's most notorious stunts include the time he posted Bob Ryder's personal phone number online, or when he recruited a female fan to "catfish" a popular writer from a competing website and then recapped the results. (Hyatte became famous for his feuds with competing writers and other websites.  Over the years, Scott Keith, Sean Shannon and many others became the object of his ire.) Another memorable incident came when Hyatte announced he was now running a website devoted to Sabu, "Sabu.com" and provided a link in his column.  Turns out at that point, "Sabu.com" was actually a very graphic gay porn site...and some of Hyatte's readers were not amused when they clicked the link, especially if they were at work.

There was one particular incident for which he became most infamous, and this will probably be what Chris Hyatte is most remembered for. Chris Hyatte was not a fan of Tony Schiavone. Specifically, Hyatte (and many of his readers at the time) hated Schiavone's screaming hyperbole, relentless hype and the frequent cries of "This is the greatest moment in the history of our sport" every Monday on Nitro. After a particularly annoying episode of Nitro which was packed with Schiavone's patented bluster, an aggrieved Chris Hyatte placed a mock "bounty" on Tony Schiavone and his family, and printed Schiavone's email address in his column.  By this time, Hyatte was very popular and had a very large, very rabid fanbase.  (A good comparison from today would be "The Cult of Cornette.")  Apparently, Chris Hyatte's "bounty" on Tony Schiavone caused such a backlash that Turner Security ended up involving law enforcement.  Hyatte supposedly communicated with Tony Schiavone personally and apologized.  He also retracted the so-called "bounty" but Tony Schiavone understandably bears some hard feelings to this day, and has even referenced the incident on his podcast.

As the Internet Wrestling Community grew, Hyatte managed to maintain his popularity.  But eventually, Chris Hyatte's popularity began to erode.  Scoops began to edit Hyatte's columns, in fear of legal repercussions.  Hyatte left Scoops as a result and ended up migrating to a succession of different sites.  Every time Hyatte moved from one site to the next, it seemed to result in the law of diminishing returns. It has always been my impression that while Chris Hyatte maintained a loyal core of fans, as he moved from site to site, controversy to controversy and feud to feud, his readership started to fall away.  This can probably be attributed to the fact that Hyatte's act started to get a little old after a few years, and it didn't help that Hyatte's own interest in Pro Wrestling began to lessen.  His columns started to become infrequent, if you could even find him.  The last major site Chris Hyatte worked for was 411, but by around 2007, after about 10 years of writing he basically disappeared. A couple of years later, Chris Hyatte briefly reemerged as a blogger, but by this time he only had a very small, loyal group of fans.  Most fans had either forgotten who Chris Hyatte was, had tired of his act or just weren't able to find him.  Hyatte blogged for a while, but eventually he even gave that up, and finally vanished for good.  Chris Hyatte's whereabouts became the subject of speculation, but he was gone.

A couple of years ago, Chris Hyatte reappeared on Twitter.  Hyatte apparently had the Twitter account for some time, but had only been active sporadically. Due to his level of infamy, a number of "fake" Chris Hyatte accounts had popped up on Facebook and Twitter.  But less than a year ago, Chris Hyatte ended up sharing his real name and some personal information, in order to prove that it was really him. (Hyatte had been notoriously private about his personal information. "Hyatte" was actually his pen name, and he had never allowed his picture to be shown.)  But now, he revealed that his real name was Chris Gaudreau and allowed his picture to be displayed.  Chris Hyatte also shared the information that he was in very bad health.   He was suffering from Kidney Failure, Congestive Heart Failure, and Diabetes. Chris Hyatte was in rough shape.  He had to have his foot partially amputated, and ended up staring a GoFundMe account to ask his former readers for financial assistance.

The response was significant if not overwhelming.  Hyatte ended up using his Twitter account as a means to keep his fans updated on his health.  He required dialysis three times a week, could not walk and was basically housebound. And then a few weeks ago, Chris Hyatte shared with his followers that he had made the decision to stop treatment and that he wanted to let nature take it's natural course. For all intents and purposes, Hyatte explained that he was tired of being so sick and he wanted to die.  Hyatte posted a rather lengthy "Tweet Storm" where he explained the reasons behind his decision.  On May 15, he announced that he had finished his final round of dialysis and that he expected to live anywhere from two days to two weeks.  This morning his cousin announced that Chris Hyatte had died.

Chris Hyatte's death has really affected me, for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, I had a very minor relationship with Hyatte at one point.  I was a regular reader of his column, and found him to be extremely funny.  I ended up emailing him, and during our ensuing correspondence I ended up making a joke that he really liked.  Hyatte liked my joke so much that he asked if I would mind if he used it in one of his columns.  I was happy to agree.  Shortly thereafter, Hyatte announced that he intended to use his column as means to discover new Pro Wrestling writing talent, and asked for submissions.  I submitted a column and was flattered when my column was the first he selected to be printed on 411.  As a result, I was offered my own column at 411 and began a very brief tenure as a writer for that site. Since my column was introduced via Chris Hyatte's column, I had a brief glimpse into the almost bizarre amount of attention and adulation he was getting from fans at that time.  Just because I had first appeared in his column and he gave me the Hyatte stamp of approval, I got over a hundred responses to my first few columns, many of which were alarmingly flattering and I assume just a fraction of the amount of attention and praise Chris Hyatte was getting on a weekly basis.

But that is not the main reason I am so affected by his death.  I had pretty much forgotten about Chris Hyatte before he reappeared on Twitter last year and his GoFundMe began to circulate.  I began to follow Hyatte and found some startling similarities between his situation and my own.  We were both in our early 50's, single and in poor health.  Like Chris Hyatte, I am also on disability and suffering from Congestive Heart Failure.  I found his reflections on his own mortality and his imminent death to be starkly honest.  Hyatte speculated on the possibility of life after death, and was unsparingly honest about his decision to end his treatment and essentially end his own life.  Like I said due to my own health problems, Chris Hyatte's ruminations on his impending death really stuck a chord with me.  About a week ago, he tweeted saying that he had just eaten his last Reuben Sandwich and drank his last Pepsi.  There was something about his bluntness that really resonated with me. My situation is not as dire as his was (yet) but there are still a shocking amount of similarities between us.  Middle aged white guys, with no families, living in isolation and housebound. Pro Wrestling fans who love to write. Looking back at our lives and wondering what (if any) legacy we leave behind.

During his final months, Chris Hyatte stated that he had never saved any of his past work. He was still being constantly asked to write "one last" Mop Up, but he refused. One of his more devoted fans scoured the net (using the "Wayback Machine" I imagine) and actually managed to put together a fairly impressive archive of Chris Hyatte's work.  Hyatte claimed shortly before his death that 93% of his work had been discovered and archived.  He thanked the fan who had done it, and asked that his Twitter followers share his work with others.  As I said, I found this to be equal parts sad, and moving at the same time.  Chris Hyatte knew he was just days from the end of his life, and his last request to his once massive fanbase was that they share the record of his work.  I wish I could say that I didn't know what it feels like to be a man his age with nothing more to show for your life than a handful of Pro Wrestling columns...but sadly I do.

Make no mistake about it, Chris Hyatte was a bit of a jerk.  He was rude, egotistical, condescending and frequently inappropriate.  A lot of people hated him.  Chris Hyatte himself openly admitted that a column like his would have no place in the year 2020.  His humor at the time was replete with jokes that would now be rightly viewed as both racially and sexually offensive, if not totally inappropriate.  But at the same time, and for his time...he was very honest.  You never got the sense reading a Chris Hyatte column that he was putting on an act, unlike the feeling you get reading one of his countless imitators.  Chris Hyatte was an original in the world of Pro Wrestling fandom. He originated something that countless have attempted to copy, without success. 

Most importantly to me, Chris Hyatte was very, very funny.  It was not unusual for me to read his Mop Up column on a Tuesday morning and end up laughing out loud several times.  I still remember one of Hyatte's recaps, where he suddenly diverted from the play-by-play and claimed that he was going to take a moment to dance around the room with his penis tucked between his legs, like the killer Buffalo Bill in the movie Silence of the Lambs...because it made him feel SEXY.  His humor was ridiculous but as I said, it was frequently laugh-out-loud funny.  (If you like that type of humor.) Chris Hyatte admitted that in the 23 or so years since he had risen to "fame" for writing a Pro Wrestling column, he had obviously matured.  50 year old Chris Hyatte would not find the same things appropriate or funny that his counterpart in his 20's did, obviously.  At the end of the day, he died leaving behind a small but devoted base of fans who will remember him.  And most importantly, he made people laugh.  Whether it was 20 years ago or yesterday, to me that is the type of legacy that actually means something...as absurd as that might sound.  I look at what is going on in the world around us right now, and I think if you could actually bring some laughter into the lives of people...even if it was for something as trivial as writing about Pro Wrestling...then maybe you actually did accomplish something.

Chris Hyatte's Twitter account can be found here.  His old blog can be found here.  His archive can be found here.

"As I move onto wherever I'm going, with peace in my heart, I leave you pretty much my entire life's work...and if you take your time and savor them, you're looking at at least a year's worth of "it's been so long it's new!" material from me. And that's everything. There's nothing left." - Chris Hyatte, May 25, 2020

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411 is the site I cut my teeth on with the internet. Hyatte was also one of the first guys I remember reading way back in the day. This makes me really sad.

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Wow.....Chris Hyatte is someone I used to be a fan of if for no other reason he took it a lot less serious than a lot of the other IWC "names" of the day.  Comparisons to Howard Stern were apt,  yeah he could be crass and sometimes cross lines, dude was really damn good at what he did.  I always saw him as a Hunter S. Thompson type myself, his columns where always an adventure where you never were quite sure which way they'd go next. 

I always wondered whatever became of him, I figured he'd be someone we'd never hear of again since his style was very much one of the time it lived in. He was always very much aware of that, I recall his last columns reflecting that both he and times have changed, and that his style really no longer had a place anymore. 

Finding out what happened hits me hard. Not only does my family have a history of diabetes, my mom spent the last years of her life on dialysis and trust and believe that *sucks* to have to live with basically forever. Choosing to take matters into your own hands and ending it on your own terms is such a difficult thing to do, but when I thought about it....it was really the most Hyatte way it could have ended.

 

 

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The name didn't ring a bell for me but the very first wrestling site I've ever consulted online was Scoops. Hell, I was literally skipping classes in college so I could spend more time scouring Scoops for wrestling content.

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Wow. Like others, I had not heard less much thought of that name in forever. He was probably the first pro-wrestling writer I was reading back when I got Internet. I absolutely remember reading his Raw/Nitro reviews in like late 97/98 I'd say. And yeah, I'd remember the signs on both shows, which was quite the early signs of internet "celebrity". No idea how his stuff has aged, probably not really well, but back then I was definitely a fan. This is quite a sad story.

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I'm not familiar with the name, but this was an astounding write up, Thread Killer. Thanks for deep diving into personal issues and sharing them with us, bubba.

May Hyatte rest in peace.

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I really loved his "Guide to Life" column which I think he wrote in like 2003 on either 411 or a similar site when I was in university. His book reviews inspired me to read books outside of just fantasy novels which  I am grateful for as  I would have missed out on a lot of great books if I kept reading Tolkien rip offs. I was so excited when he actually printed one of my emails and gave me advice which in turn gave me confidence enough to get a girlfriend at the time. I know he seemed rude to most people, but I really looked up to him at the time.

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Wow is this a blast from the past! Hyatte exploded in popularity right around the time I came out, so reading his articles wasn't always fun because of the nonstop gay jokes, but that was everywhere in wrestling at the time, even at live shows. He was a very well-known columnist who I sort of "hate read" every week. Despite sort of coming across as a horrible person most of the time, I did get a kick out of his attempts to expose the lack of wrestling knowledge of most of his readers. He did a basic quiz once asking, "Who was in the Dynamic Duo?" that stumped pretty much everyone. I've never been too big on the types who are more interested in the gossip and online feuds than wrestling itself, and to me, he's one of the originators in that category, but at the same time, I don't wish illness and early death on anyone.

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Before I read anything in the thread.....this is the first I've heard of this, and I haven't been on a total internet blackout, and that pisses me off

I'm 38 and first got a PC and dial up internet at home in 94-95ish.  Teenage me loved Hyatte's Nitro and RAW recaps.  I'm not sure if he influenced me or his sense of humour just aligned with mine, but for a few years in the 90's his recaps were must read for me.

RIP sweet prince

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And reading the thread now....I saw a Stern comparison.  I'm sure he was a Stern fan, he referenced it in his recaps IIRC.  I always read his recaps in the Scott Ferrell voice LOL

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