Balrog Babblings #71 – TBL At Ten: Martin Hawrysko

Written by Martin Hawrysko

April 10th marked ten years of existence from The Balrog’s Lair website. What began as a simple page on Geocities eventually became what it is now at TBL may not have the same name recognition that other websites have, but in my book, that is one of the reasons that continues to make TBL so special. TBL has always been a wrestling fan website.

It is in my opinion that websites that once began as fan sites, soon became too popular, and generated enough money, that it became more than a hobby. To some webmasters out there, a wrestling website became a business. Now I have no problem with someone making money off his or her website. However, I was never fond of the results that stemmed from the trend of wrestling websites becoming less of a hobby and more of a business.

How many wresting websites existed out there that featured nothing but redundant newsboards and naked women? One of my biggest gripes back in the day was all the false plugs and ads left by newsboard reporters on one site, hoping to steal hits to his or her site. Anyways, I don’t mean to turn this column into a rant about things that use to bother me.

My point in regards to redundant newsboards and naked women is TBL never stooped to that level. Did TBL use to have a full blown newsboard? Yes. Was that full blown newsboard the backbone of the website? No. As long as I could remember, before my arrival to TBL, while I ran the site, and while Eddie currently runs the website, TBL always featured new and unique features.

I am particularly fond of TBL Soundoff and wish it would make a return sometime soon. Former TBL columnist and myself use to participate in “Pardon the Ring,” our attempt at duplicating ESPN’s PTI show, except our section was done via text chat. Another favorite of mine was “PPV Center,” created by former TBL writer Michael Blaszkowski. PPV Center was a program all done in flash, and previewed upcoming WWE pay-per-views. And of course, Michael Blaskowski’s “news and spoofs” report was another favorite of mine. Joe’s Raw and Nitro wish columns were unique and provided an alternate form of reaction to two of the most watched wrestling shows of all time.

Among the few great websites that I have worked at, TBL is my favorite. After my time as the site’s “web manager” ended, I left for a while. Those days were among the most fun for me. Today, I am a “part-time” columnist for TBL. I don’t write that often, but I am happy that I at least am welcomed to have the chance to share my wrestling opinions when pleased. I am proud to still be associated with TBL, now in its tenth year. How many of those websites that I was talking about above, which were once in their prime, are still around today?

Last and not least, one of the reasons why I love TBL is because of the great people. While I have never personally met any of them, I have gotten to know many of them in an online sense. Back in the day, Joe and I use to have many conversations, sometimes about wrestling, politics, or even school… many times ridiculing the idiots who we run into in our daily lives. Joe is a busy man, so I don’t get to talk to him that much anymore, unfortunately.

Eddie is another person who I don’t speak to as much. These days, many of our exchanges are occasionally made on our MySpace accounts. Eddie and I became fast friends after I hired him back in 2002. I don’t exactly know how to describe our friendship, considering that it got to the point where someway, somehow, the joke of “the Eddie burger” eventually evolved.

Adam Gorzelsky is another person who I still talk to today. We had a lot of fun back in the day doing Pardon the Ring, among other stuff. And last but not least, Michael Blaszkowski, where ever you are. I don’t know if he was dropped on his head one too many times as a kid, but nevertheless, he was always a cool person to talk too. The time I worked with him at and at TBL will always bring fond memories.

While my interest in wrestling isn’t where it was a few years ago, I nevertheless look forward to writing more columns in the future at this great website. I have a few ideas that I think would be fun to be part of, and hope to propose to Joe or Eddie in the near future.

Here’s to another ten year run for TBL, and to the fact that if that indeed happens, I will be in my early thirties when writing a column dedicated to TBL’s 20 years. I look forward to that day.

– E-mail feedback to