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Since skateboarding is full of folklore it can easily become more storied than what’s actually transpired. With so many tricks undocumented in the 90s alone, a large part of its history remains foggy at best. And then we have all the rumors, teases, false starts, and things that kind of happened but not really or maybe just never came to fruition.
Some of the examples below could still actually occur, long shot I know, and they’re probably best lived out as skatepark gossip. The interesting thing is that if some of these stories actually were reality, they could have altered the trajectory of skateboarding and subsequently changed many things.
Like all lists, this is by no means a comprehensive compendium of “What if’s in Skateboarding?”. But hey, let your imagination run wild for a minute and think of how these examples might have changed history, kinda like in Back to Future, which is factually responsible for many people picking up a skateboard. Anyway, read on and check out just what could have been.
The Antwuan Comeback
Still only 32-years-old, Antwuan Dixon is a part of skateboarding history, he instantly became many people’s favorite skateboarder and sparked several young bucks to pursue a career. Effortless style combined with a raw edge to his personality. He fitted into the style of the Baker Hi-Jinx videos well and who knows, he could have easily gone on to become Thrasher SOTY during these years. His post-Baker years have had serious ups-and-downs which are nothing to make light of, but they were peppered with teaser clips that hinted of what could have been and he’d not lost an ounce of that signature style.
In 2019 he reportedly landed a new board sponsor with RAWDOGRAW, after a stint on Riot Skateboards. But kinda like his comeback, the post and company fizzled out and disappeared. The bright spot is that Antwuan emerged from hardships with positivity, posting on Instagram recently that he’s on a program and with his talent, a little focus could lead to an unprecedented tear.
Muska in Welcome to Hell
Toy Machine’s presence as a hub for left-of-center gnar riders in the 90s was greater than art, image, and influence. Ed Templeton and Jamie Thomas’ brief tenure as brand curators led to one of skating’s most beloved videos in Welcome to Hell (1996), which kicked off turning Toy Machine into a serious talent incubator. Whether it was Josh Kalis, Satva Leung, Donny Barley, Elissa Steamer, Brian Anderson, Kerry Getz, Bam Margera, Chad Muska, or the Chief himself, the brand transformed lesser-known rippers into bonafide stars.
Sure, talent was in play but letting each rider’s charisma shine in print and on film led to the Bloodsucking Skateboard Company’s rise and it’s worth noting that one of its biggest names kind of never appeared in Welcome to Hell. As both Templeton and Muska have detailed in interviews, a technical fault at the video’s premiere coupled with quite a drunk Muska led to his departure and his part being omitted from its full VHS release. This one really shakes things up, what if Muska had stayed? This not only changes Toy Machine’s path but it puts the whole legacy that is Shorty’s in doubt? Would Peter Smolik, Brandon Turner, Aaron Snyder, Sammy Baptista et al have ever been blown-up? Nevermind Muska Beats, as this was not parlayed to Jamie’s Zero style. All very interesting.
A Lack of Legends in Plan B True
Though it launched the career from a largely obscure Chris Joslin much like Questionable gave Pat Duffy a game-changing first part in 1992, Plan B’s True (2014) wasn’t the seismic shift it had promised to be. Here’s the thing, the harsh truth about True is warranted as the video’s build-up was epic and maybe it’s closest parallel was Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy album, which just never hit the highs of the Use Your Illusion domination. The teaser clip, the promises, the team departures, the new additions and general energy around True was anything but lowkey and the result felt more like an Energy Drink web-edit complete with a sugar-induced hangover.
The biggest falsehood of True? Brand stalwarts Danny Way and Colin McKay didn’t have parts, or even a shared part, or really much of anything! But while it’s disappointing to not see the injured Way, that’s excusable, but what about the omission of PJ Ladd? PJ was the millennial model of instant fame (way before Instagram) and ‘going viral’ via his Wonderful Horrible Life part. PJ was primed for another career-defining part that would up the shake-up the entire skateboarding game. But... he simply didn’t film a part. At. All. Post-release both Way and McKay did interviews kinda answering why some of the brand’s biggest stars had simply sat this one out. Rumors swirled that Ladd, just like Rodney Mullen before him, just preferred skating and filming solo and disliked the Monster High-Fives, high-production and global travel that was part and parcel of creating True. Sometime later PJ did put out a technically flawless New Balance Numeric “Tricolor” part and has been active on Instagram since, but his star has slowly fallen from the sky. Has Plan B ever recovered from this? That's your opinion.
Jamie Thomas and the Leap of Faith
The only thing that once stopped Jamie Thomas from producing serious amounts of footage was injury or his ego. That’s not to say the Chief is a narcissist but rather self-aware that he’d created a brand of going bigger, gnarlier, and sometimes weirder than others with a militaristic approach to his craft. Part after part, Thomas has told his age and various parts of his anatomy to fuck off, continuing to push himself at an advanced age (for skating), even releasing a full-part in Zero’s recent video Damn It All.
Like many pros, Thomas may have changed up his approach to save some pain and wear on his skeleton and while he may not be besting the latest rail chompers, or guys like Milton Martinez, he’s impressive, creative, and certainly determined. That focus and defiance of physics most likely led to the most iconic trick he never landed. You know the deal, it was 1997, Zero releases Thrill of It All and JT almost explodes trying to bound off and through a Southern California stairway, over a rail, grabbing melon and descending for what seems like 20 minutes before his board shatters and he doesn’t die. The Leap was one and done for The Chief but others have tried it, such as Richard King who even assembled a crowd before disassembling his leg after having the board under his feet for all of .0002 seconds. The YT is here if you’re sick enough to watch it.
The question is, if Jamie had landed this, would it have opened the door to more insane leaps, or has that happened already?
The Menace Video that was Never Released
Created by ‘The Mastermind’ Kareem Campbell, Menace was a brand of its time that can never be replicated, revived (and someone tried), and in 2020, maybe even fully understood? As Patrick O’Dell in Epicly Later’d chronicled, Menace simply answered a need and void in skateboarding that was filled with a real machismo, swagger and reality that can’t be created in a spreadsheet. Many people and existing companies wanted to create the hip-hop brand but a group of Los Angeles locals peppered with an ambidextrous Rhode Island-native made it happen. Menace was the brand of its’ era, and way before it was even considered a ‘brand’.
For six minutes, Menace beat up skateboarding with Lockwood lines and LA grime in 20 Shot Sequence (1995) and followed up that blast with a shorter montage in Trilogy (1996). With a full-length video coming… never. One of the biggest crimes in skateboarding could easily be the lack of a proper Menace video. What would its influence have spawned? MNC, All City, City Stars, legal trouble, roster changes, distribution shifts and plenty of behind the scenes moves that we don’t need to be privy too led to Menace never capturing the power of that first punch. Kareem still runs City Stars and has returned to the spotlight with the Ghetto Bird Podcast, plus he’s in the latest Tony Hawk video game, but as much as we love his 360-flip on loop, skating wanted and needed the damn Menace video! Was Kareem, and as rumored, Shiloh Greathouse ever going to join the team properly? Maybe their World contracts were still in force? We’ll never know, but Kareem’s commentary as of late has been welcomed and inspiring, he’s needed. Menace forever.
Chocolate being called Sister
Since we’re speaking of the once-mighty World Industries, and it’s worth noting that Steve Rocco’s industry dominance has now been name-checked for far longer than his actual reign in skating was, it’s also worth looking at the next LA camp in Girl and Chocolate.
Back then if you left a World Industries brand of your own will or by getting the boot, it was a stain on your judgment and often an impossible rebound. Some pulled it off but many faded out. The idea that the most recognizable and influential riders under World’s umbrella would leave to start not one but two brands that both still operate today was unthinkable in the early 90s. Alas, that’s exactly what happened when the squad that became Girl, and less than a year later, Chocolate did. The thing is, Chocolate wasn’t ever supposed to be called Chocolate. The original plan was to have Girl’s sister company, be called exactly that, Sister. Upon this info leaking to Sal Rocco Jr, Steve's brother and creator of Bitch, they quickly trademarked the name. Girl did a brand pivot and came up with Chocolate. Does this really matter, would it have changed anything? All we know is that Chocolate instantly clicked and after enduring a few bumps since their heyday, it’s still around and certainly commands the upper positions for the best graphics out there.
The Third Fucking Awesome Brand
Like an Antwuan comeback, this one can and may still happen but probably not in the iteration that was floating around on the messageboard rumor mills. And certainly not now that Austyn Gillette has been confirmed as rejoining Habitat. The story was that it was meant to be Austyn Gillette, Jake Anderson, Louie Lopez and Kevin Rodrigues. The brand was to be Fucking Awesome’s third and speculated to be called Funeral Home. Trademarks were checked, questions asked, hype built, and then Funeral Home just died away or was it all myth in the first place?
Austyn focused his efforts on Former, the fusion of a modern surf and skate brand also with Jake Anderson, but this is apparel only (and perfume) and any plans for it to be a board brand totally blown out by his Habitat announcement. Louie went to FA and Kevin is still on Hockey. So it seems for a certain style of skater there’s one less place for you to call home. As mentioned, there could still be a new FA brand in the works, but more importantly, Austyn seems to have overcome massive knee surgeries and by the looks of his recent Former part, you simply can’t fault his style and skill on a skateboard. And Louie just keeps getting better and better, he’s come a long way since Flip.
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