Being a wrestling fan is often hard. For those of us who have been watching this great sport for decades many of the heroes from our youth are no longer with us. They have given us memories that we will cherish forever and look back on with warm nostalgia, but we have also been forced to deal with the tragedy of their early demise. While the death of a childhood favourite is always upsetting, nothing hits harder than the passing of a close friend. Brian Knighton, better known to wrestling fans around the world as Axl Rotten, was a close friend of mine. I didn't get to know him until the final stages of his life, when he reached out to me and asked me to help him pen his autobiography in the latter months of last year. In truth I wasn't all that excited about the prospect at first, because like nearly everyone else I didn't know Brian, I only knew the little I had heard about him or the few dozen matches I had seen him wrestle. I agreed to write it with him but I was expecting it to be tough to fill the pages. As soon as I started talking to Brian I realised that we had on our hands perhaps the greatest wrestling autobiography ever written. Brians life story was unlike any other I had heard or read. The trials and tragedy he had been through were beyond anything I could comprehend. His life was like a movie. As we talked on the phone for hours each night we became close. I got to know the man behind the snarling, brutal, hardcore wrestler Axl Rotten, I got to know Brian Knighton. A man who despite the persona he played in front of arenas worldwide was a kind, gentle, caring person, a big softie who cried when he watched The Notebook, who was passionate about music, and so badly wanted people to know his story so that others who had experienced similar tribulations could use him as inspiration to overcome their own problems. He was so excited about the book, it was driving him every day to stay positive and keep fighting his numerous personal demons. I was thrilled to be helping him. We were about halfway through the book when he passed away. Unfortunately for his legacy, that book will likely now never see the light of day. I can, however, share some of his words about some of the experiences that he went through, many of which even his closest friends are unaware of. This, then, is his parting gift. 14 things you didn't know about Brian/Axl in his own words.
The author of the highly acclaimed 'Titan' book series, James Dixon has been involved in the wrestling business for 25 years as a fan, wrestler, promoter, agent, and writer. James spent several years wrestling on the British independent circuit, but now prefers to write about the bumps and bruises rather than take any of them. His past in-ring experience does however give a uniquely more "insider" perspective on things, though he readily admits to still being a "mark" at heart.
James is the Chief Editor and writer at historyofwrestling.co.uk and is responsible for the best-selling titles Titan Sinking, Titan Shattered, and Titan Screwed, as well as the Complete WWF Video Guide series, and the Raw Files series.