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Perfect Strangers: Can Gunner Help Samuel Shaw?

By Gerry Strauss

They say that nothing can screw with a man’s head like love and war.

For Samuel Shaw,  love was the final straw that pushed him beyond the brink of insanity.  A tremendous athlete and “Gut Check” winner, Shaw’s irregular behavior became apparent soon after his debut on the TNA roster. However, it was his infatuation with ring announcer Christy Hemme that showed the world exactly how imbalanced  this man truly had become.

Now, thanks to a loss to Mr. Anderson in a match with heavy stipulations attached, Shaw has been forced to face his issues - like it or not.  As a result of that match, Shaw has been involuntarily institutionalized with only the facility’s medical staff and TNA Wrestling personnel allowed on the premises, allowing the world to watch his road to possible recovery. Via this footage, TNA management and fans alike thought we’d witness the inevitable pain, anguish and – hopefully – the light at the end of the tunnel.

What we never could have expected was the arrival of another TNA Wrestling star: Gunner, whom clearly had no ties to Shaw in the past. In fact, their paths had barely crossed as friend or foe during their relatively young TNA Wrestling careers.  Actually, by all accounts, Shaw’s erratic behavior had prevented him from making any friends at all I the company.

So why Gunner, and why now? While only snippets of the actually conversations between the two were available, we heard enough to understand that Gunner came to Shaw of his own volition. He offered Shaw the opportunity to talk, and then compared his mental challenges with those of whom he served with during his military days.

Those familiar with Gunner’s life story know that he served as a lance corporal and machine gunner with the U.S. marines in the Iraq War. The treacherous conditions associated with that environment made “post-traumatic syndrome” a household term, and it is certainly no surprise that Gunner would have seen the long-term mental affects of war among his fellow soldiers.

Can he actually recognize and understand similar trauma within the mind of Samuel Shaw?  More importantly, can he be the unlikely ear that Shaw needs in his new  quest for normalcy, or will this new element to his treatment  only serve to send him deeper off the edge?

No matter what happens, the strange-yet-fascinating tale of Samuel Shaw appears to just be getting started. Rest assured, we – and TNA management – will be watching very closely.