I hadn’t been excited about wrestling in a long time until my friend sent me the video of a wrestler/manager named ‘Sweet & Sour’ Larry Sweeney. He was a fiery bad guy with an intense look in his eye, and I was immediately hooked again.
He was everything I always loved about wrestling. An over the top personality that lived his gimmick, who had the gift of gab. As long time fan, you just know when somebody has IT and is quite special, and Larry Sweeney had it in spades.
He was a throw back in the vein of the late great Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, who is considered the best manager of all time, and I wanted to see more of him.
Larry Sweeney brought me back from the casual here and there consumer, to always wanting to see what he was up to. He was that electric to me, and I had no doubt that he’d eventually make it to the WWE and be a massive star.
I can’t remember the exact date, it was either fall of 2008 or spring on 2009, and I went with my friend to see Ring of Honour Wrestling at the Markham Fairgrounds which is just outside of Toronto. I was excited to see Larry Sweeney live for my first time…….. but the Canadian Border had other plans.
For reasons unknown, Larry Sweeney was not allowed over the border to work this show, and by the time the Ring of Honor Wrestling promotion came back to Toronto, Larry Sweeney had been released by the company. I was pretty upset that I didn’t know when I’d ever get to see him live but I was more upset when I found out that he was battling Bipolar Disorder. And after I read the below unedited note he left on the internet; I just hoped he’d be okay.
Hey everybody, Wow, hard to even start this one.
I have been learning to live with bipolar disorder since I first went through a bipolar cycle when I was 18, ten years ago. As I understand it, Bipolar disorder is an energy imbalance; call it chemical, call it what you like, but i am most comfortable with the term energy imbalance. But mr sweeney, sir, you say, you are a perverer of such greatness!! So overwhelming is your awesomeness, that I could hardly ever think of a person of your stature as ‘imbalanced’! Who are these false profits that make this judgment of you, and why?
Calm down, wipe the nacho cheese off your face and fingers so that you don’t ruin mom’s keyboard, sucka, and I’ll tell you. But I’m going to be brief about it.
When I was 16 I wrapped a car around a tree and almost killed 5 people, myself included. I don’t remember this, at least in my conscious memory, so the parts of my brain where this trama is stored, well, when you do something like that at a young age, and of course you don’t mean to, but shit happens, right?, well, you’re going to be affected by that for the rest of your life. There it is. That’s my explaination.
It has been incorrectly reported that I have been battling depression. Not true. What do I have to be depressed about? I’ve made it further in this business and in life than I ever would have imagined possible, gotten to meet so many great people through this business, and have travelled the world. I love what I do and I’m not going anywhere.
A more proper explanation was that certain events led to an onset of mania for me in early february. While I love Ring of Honor and certainly hope to return, I am quite angry with how I have been treated by Mr. Silken and his company. Despite any personal troubles or turbulance I may have been going through, I never once showed up in a condition where I was unable to perform.
I do not have a drinking problem, nor a drug problem, but my brain gets a little bit coocoo for cocoa puffs sometimes. Really? In the grand scheme of life, that ain’t really a big deal. I’m certainly not complaining.
But, the company treated me like a drug addict, not like a person with a medical condition. You see, if somebody shows up drunk or stoned to work and gets caught, then you can suspend or fire them… but in the eyes of the law, in such a crzy world, if any person has a bout with craziness and is seeking care, they cannot be treated the same way, at least this is what my lawyers have told me.
Cary Silken suspended me from pittsburgh and new york with less than 48 hours notice and did not pay me. Before that, the company shorted me on money for the first tv tapings… then I came to houston and, despite my sobriety and clarity, and willingness to fly myself down on my own dime, I was told that I was not welcome.
Since I have not recieved a release from my contract, I consider all monies owed for these bookings to still be owed to me, and I am sitting out, chilling down in the south, until the company makes things right with me. I would like to be there for all of the wrestling fans who enjoy my performances with the company, but I will still be appearing as much as I can, just for different companies. My relationships with CHIKARA and International Wrestling Cartel I consider stronger than ever, and I am very grateful for the care and consideration that Norm Conners and Mike Quackenbush, men who have known me a lot longer than anybody in ROH management, promoters who I have worked for for 4ish and 6ish years repectively, true friends… I am very gratefull to have them in my life as friends and employers.
Because, you see, what would larry sweeney do? (My real name is alex whybrow, sorry to burst your bubble…no, that does not mean that I’ll add you as a friend on facebook if I don’t know you personally, thank you very much, so don’t ask)…
WWSD? That is the question.
I’m under contract until May 2. While I certainly would like to go back to work for mr silken and his company, until they make things right with me, I will not do, and I am retaining a team of lawyers in the mean-time.
Would I love to work with Ric Flair? Hell yes. Do I need ROH to do it? Fuck no. When life tries to slap you like a bitch, you’ve got to stand on your own to feet and fight like a man. When somebody tries to fuck with you, you’ve got to be like marcellus wallace…. who doesn’t like to get fucked by anybody but missus wallace. When somebody tries to treat you like a kid, kick em in the balls. When somebody won’t leave you alone, don’t be afraid to punch them in the teeth. Fuck the law. I’ll spend a night in jail, I really don’t care. I decide what is right and wrong for me, nobody else. This is my life, and I don’t owe it to anybody, and that is true for each and every person on the planet. Fuck the world, I’m taking over.
I’ve been in Houston since last Friday, and I love this town. I’m wrestling in Louisiana on Saturday night, doing a clinic on Sunday for Southern Pure Wrestling, and then wrestling in Houston again on Saturday the 18th. I will appear for ROH if they have made things right with me by that time, but quite frankly, I do not see that happening.
If somebody says they’re your friend, but then tries to fuck with your livelihood, for whatever reason, what does that make you? Your enemy. Enemy. Somebody who tries to fuck you, if you don’t want to be fucked? That person is your enemy, and there ain’t no doubt about that.
More details to follow, but before I take back to the streets of houston, I would like to thank each and every wrestling fan out there, because if it wasn’t for you, then I would be able to do what I love, and wrestling is most certainly what I love. Thank you for all the support, friends and fans alike.
-alex. <(sweet ‘n’ sour ls)>
After this note was released, I did my best to find video of Larry Sweeney from smaller shows, but it became increasingly difficult to the point where I didn’t know if he was still performing or not. Eventually, it turned out that he decided he didn’t need his medication for bipolar disorder anymore and stopped taking it. He spiraled badly while manic, doing everything from wrestling with fans outside an arena in Houston, Texas hours before a WWE Wrestlemania 25, to showing up suddenly at an indy show looking like a mess with dried blood noticeably on him to making bold claims of running pro wrestling street fairs in the near future. And then the news flow stopped, and that’s when I began to worry again.
And when I awoke on April 11th, 2011, I had a text waiting from my old wrestling friend, saying that Larry Sweeney, whose real name was Alex Whybrow, had passed away by suicide at the all too young age of 29 years-old.
His struggle with Bipolar Disorder had taken its toll, and he fell into a depression in which he couldn’t fight back from. For a while, I thought to myself; I wish he saw what everyone else saw about himself. How we knew he’d be a star, or how highly we thought about his talent, but then I realized that actually didn’t matter. When you fall into depression, you can have the whole world in that way, but at the end of the day, when it’s just you and your thoughts, your brain has other plans.
Everyone has a story and even when you think someone has it all, they may be hanging on by a thread and not letting anyone know. If Larry Sweeney has taught me anything, it’s to keep talking about depression, anxiety, mental health issues with everybody, because you never know who’s hurting and who just needs you to ask the simple question of ‘How are you?’ Sometimes that’s all that’s needed to change someone’s life.
I love you, Larry Sweeney. Ain’t no doubt about it. 12 Large Brother.