Over the past five months I have been asked by about a half a dozen people why I haven't done any work for ThePinDoctors website. I honestly don't have a good answer. I don't know. I can guess and I can speculate but as to why Josh Swafford decided to cease communication with me five months ago and completely cut himself out of my life, I don't know.
We never had a fight. There was no falling out. I've never said anything negative about him and to my knowledge he's never said anything negative about me. Every interaction that I ever had with Josh was very pleasant. I enjoyed being around him and I thought of him as more than just a business acquaintance. I thought of Josh as a friend. This whole ordeal has been very confusing for me. I can only tell you what I know.
What I do know is that back in November of 2019, Josh was doing work for THE PREDICAMENT, an Iowa based publication that covers amateur wrestling in the state at every level. The article Josh wrote was in his series about feuds. This one in particular involved Brett Little of Tri-County and J.J. Butteris of Lisbon. It was a feud that I had followed and seen live in all three matches the two had. I knew Brett on a personal level. When I was a kid my Grandfather Harry Stonebraker, married his Grandmother Dorothy Bos. Granted their marriage only lasted a year, but between the dating process and the time they were married, I was calling Brett one of my cousins for a period of about three years.
I thought Josh did an outstanding job with the article. I was really impressed with his style and prose. He wrote in a way that brought you in. So many journalist in wrestling are so point by point and factual. It was refreshing to read someone's work that gave it a personal touch. Brought out the emotion. I complimented Josh on his work and gave a little story of my own on Adam Graham.
Josh contacted me a few days later via facebook messanger and told me about a new website he was going to launch. He was wondering if I'd be interested in coming on as a writer. I told him that I appreciated the offer but I had been abused and mistreated by some of the others I'd worked for in the past. It was nothing against him, but I had made up my mind after a very negative experience with Tony Hager, that I'd never do amateur wrestling media again.
Josh asked twice more. After another, "thanks but no thanks" I finally agreed to help Josh out. The selling point was that Josh told me that he wasn't a fan of Tony's anymore than I was & that he was hoping that his website could compete directly with his.
I gave Josh my personal website of Johnnythompsonnum1 and had him look it over. I wanted to show him what I did and what I could offer to his website. He came back that he was impressed with my passion and dedication and that he thought I could be a huge help to him.
I never did quite understand what exactly Josh wanted out of me but I did my best to contribute to the website and help it succeed. We spoke via messanger about every day, on the phone about once a week and even met in person a few times.
Then one day Josh came to me and said that he wasn't sure if he wanted the Pindoctors to continue anymore or not. He had a lot of other things going on in his life and felt that maybe he should give up a focus on wrestling to focus on those things instead. I told him that I understood and respected his decision. I was on board no matter what. If the website continued, more than happy to continue helping out. If it ended, I was happy to have been a part of it.
Josh confessed to me a short time later that he had been in contact with Tony Hager. He said that they had briefly spoken about me and that Tony had simply said three things in regard to me. 1, he knew that I hated him. 2, he was "so over" me. 3, there was a lot about the situation that I didn't understand and Scott (Scott Casber) caused some of it. Josh said that he felt that Tony and I should sit down and talk things out. I told Josh that I didn't feel I owed that to Tony. If there truly was "a lot about the situation that I didn't understand" then I think in the 14 months and twenty days I gave Tony, that in that 14 months and twenty days, he could have taken 1 hour or however long it took to sit down and explain those things to me. I was willing to listen without rebuttal. Calmly and if need be, silently to anything Tony had to say about our situation for 14 months and 20 days. If he couldn't find time in well over a year to say whatever he had to say to me, then I don't have time for him now.
Josh was then on Tony's podcast "Hager's Happy Hour." I watched the podcast interested to see if I would ever be brought up. By name, I was only mentioned outright once. However a few other times someone was referenced and I believe that someone was me. I had no problem whatsoever with Josh being on the show. In fact I encouraged and supported him being on the show. If I have a problem with someone I have never and I will never ask that other people have a problem with them too. My biffs with people are between me and the person.
I haven't heard from Josh since the beginning of August. I have tried a few times to contact him. I've messaged him a few times and I've called and left a couple of voicemails. I let a couple of months go by before I messaged him that I was going to give him till the end of 2020 to tell me what was going on and if I hadn't heard from him by 12-31-2020, I was deleting him out of my life.
On 12-31-2020 at precisely 12:02 a.m. that's exactly what I did. I deleted him off of facebook and twitter, deleting his number out of my phone. I then packed up the pindoctors t-shirt that he had gifted me and mailed it back to his house.
What do I think happened?
I think it's one of two things.
I don't think it was a set up. It could have been. In this day in age, rationality and logic aren't necessarily needed. It seems like an awful lot of work. A lot of time and energy was put in to it if it was.
So I guess that is an option but I don't think that's what happened.
I think when Josh and Tony spoke, Tony must have said something to him. I find it very hard to believe that on a moral level, on a who's in the right and who's in the wrong level, that Josh would side with Tony. I don't think it is that at all. While Josh is well aware of the bad blood between Tony Hager and I, I never did come out and tell him the whole story. I didn't even tell him parts of it. I told him that if he felt he had to know, then we'd meet up one day and I'd tell him the whole story. I think what it is instead is that Tony's a man of position and power. Tony has money. I think that's what it comes down to. I think Tony made him an offer or a preposition and the catch had something to do with cutting off contact with me.
Am I angry? Yeah, a little. Am I hurt? Yeah, a little. I learned the hard way in dealing with people like Tony, that the game of he said/she said is a tough one to win. So I kept and recorded every facebook conversation that Josh and I ever had. It is upsetting to go back and read through the messages, and see all of the promises Josh made. To read how he wasn't like Tony Hager and how I could trust him.
Do I regret helping Josh out? Do I regret doing work for him?
Yes and no.
I love the sport of wrestling. Nothing is ever going to change that. I love to write. I got to write articles on people who mean a lot to me. I got to showcase people in this sport who I admire and respect a great deal, that would have otherwise gone overlooked and ignored. Josh gave me a platform to do that. I'm glad it happened.
Yet on the same hand, I made a promise to myself in March of 2017 that I was done with amateur wrestling media the rest of my life. I now sit here kicking myself in the butt for breaking that promise. Something happened here. I don't know exactly what happened, how it happened or why it happened. All I know is that it happened and it's something negative towards me.
I care enough to where if someone were to come up to me and tell me what happened, I'd listen. Yet, I'm not going to go knockin' on any doors and calling up anyone on the phone. I imagine someday I'll find out what happened.
ThePindoctors is still alive and well. It continues without me.
The last thing I'll say in regards is that Josh did a very nice, "Remember the Wrestler" on me. He said to me after posting it that he felt he had let me down because there wasn't much response to it. I told him that I expected there to be little to nothing. I had been a nobody in high school. No one knew or cared about me as a wrestler. Why would they? He said that he felt that if people knew me better and knew the love and passion I had for the sport, they'd be interested then. I told him that to the sport of wrestling I was nothing more than a fan. That's all I was. That's all I'd ever be.
His response back to me was that, No I wasn't. I was so much more than "just a fan."
Yet here we are today. I am just a fan. And ironically enough, he contributes to that more so than anyone I'll ever know.