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The Rise and Fall of an Underdog #26 - Wrestleview.com

The Rise and Fall of an Underdog #26

The Rise and Fall of an Underdog #26
September 17, 2009
By: AJ Pearce of WrestleView.com


Hello and welcome to ?The Rise and Fall of an Underdog: The Story So Far?. It's been six months of chapters of Jake's journey into the world of professional wrestling. So I thought I?d bring everyone up to speed with the story so far. Over the next month I will be posting all the previous chapters so you can catch the bits you missed or get on board for the first time. We now continue with chapters 5-8. You can always send any comments or questions to aj.wrestleview@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

------------------------------

Chapter 5

Jake didn?t want to seem too eager so he arrived at the rec centre at a cool 6:01. He tried to seem casual and at ease but inside he was buzzing. He had been to plenty of local wrestling shows before but never as a participant. He realized that he was merely a referee but basked in the glory of a chance to appear in the squared circle.

He surveyed the room and noticed that no one had arrived yet. He had imagined a bustle of activity and wresters frantically going over spots and arguing with the Crusher about their booking. All Jake found was an elderly janitor piling up chairs and muttering to himself about ?these damn wrestling shows!? The rear door of the gymnasium swung open with a large thud and the chilly evening air blasted through. The Crusher, followed by a couple of his regular wrestlers, quickly entered the warmth of the gymnasium. He patted his chest and blew into his hands to get the feeling back into them. He noticed Jake from across the room and shouted after him.

?Hell kid, I didn?t think you?d be here this early!?

?You said 6, so here I am?, Jake replied as he quickly made his way over to the Crusher.

?Well alright. Punctuality never hurt anybody. Since you?re here you can help us set up the ring.?

With that the Crusher disappeared. Jake guessed that his idea of helping ?us? set up the ring didn?t really involve the Crusher too much. Someone punched Jake in the shoulder and he nearly jumped out of his skin; one from the fright and two from the fact it really hurt. It was Steve. He laughed at Jake's overdramatic reaction.

?Jeese Jake, calm down. Bit jumpy tonight are we??

?I?m just excited.? Jake said as he responded with a punch of his own (Steve didn?t flinch!)

Steve introduced Jake to the rest of the guys and their monstrous handshakes and then they set about the task of assembling the ring. Jake tried to keep up with the rest of the guys as they lifted in the heavy metal beams that made up the frame of the ring. He was getting stronger and stronger each week and was lifting more weights than ever before. But he still lagged behind a little. Jake was amazed at what lurked beneath the canvas of a wrestling ring. He thought that there would be all sorts of springs under there; not just the one big one in the middle. He was also amazed by how little padding actually made up the mat. There were long pieces of wood and on top of those went a couple of layers of foam. As Jake rolled them out he realised that was all that was absorbing the shock of his back hitting the mat each week. And he realised more than ever that he needed to perfect his bumps. Next were the ropes. Jake helped to twist the corners into place and run into the ropes to make sure the tension was right. He did it too tight to begin with and found out the hard way as he bashed into them at full speed. The stinging in his back remained the rest of the night.

With the ring finished, Jake followed Steve backstage. ?Backstage? was being gracious. The changing room for the wrestlers that night was a tiny make shift work out room. Guys sat around on treadmills and weight benches talking through their matches. Most of the guys had arrived by this point and Jake eagerly listened in as they planned.

?Then my manager distracts the ref, salt in the eyes, 1-2-3.?

?I?ll play possum for a bit and then school boy you.?

?I think you should get juice tonight.?

This comment intrigued Jake the most. The idea of ?getting juice? still horrified him. Purposely cutting your own forehead with a concealed razor blade was not exactly Jake's idea of an appealing Friday night out; especially when you were only making twenty bucks to do it. But he realised how committed these guys were and how much they wanted to entertain the fans. He just didn?t want to end up with a forehead that he could hold quarters in.

Steve was running through the role of a referee with Jake, and how to help the performers get some good heat, when the Crusher approached.

?Tonight's the night Steve my man? the Crusher said as he planted a hand firmly on his shoulder. ?We?re going to introduce that International Title belt we?ve been talking about. And you?re going to go over on me to win it.?

A cheer filled the room and all the guys present clapped for their soon to be champion. Jake was ecstatic for Steve and yet again tried to contain himself. The Crusher now turned his attention to Jake and planted a massive hand on his shoulder.

?And you?re going to ref it. We?ll give you 15 minutes and then, when I go for my finisher, he?ll reverse it and drop me into his submission finisher. I?ll fight it for a minute but then I?ll tap. You got it??

Jake wasn?t sure that he 100% got it but he nodded and replied ?Got it Crusher.?

?How many times have I got to tell you kid, it's Chris.?
?Got it Chris.?

The Crusher started to walk away and turned to Jake ?And we?re up first so get ready!?

Jake's head was spinning. He joined everyone else in congratulating Steve. In a world where everything is predetermined, a championship title still meant a lot. It showed that the booker had faith in you and that the fans believed in you. This International Title wasn?t going to make ?Simply? Steve Sebastian a household name, but it would move him up the pecking order and hopefully get him some recognition. Jake was going to make sure he did his best to help the match in any way he could.

It was now time for the match to begin and as the announcer welcomed the fans Jake fiddled with his tight fitting ref's shirt and tried not to wonder how many guys had worn it before and how many times it actually got washed.

?And your referee for this match...Jake Reynolds!?

This was it; Jake kept his head down and ran to the ring. He stumbled on the ropes a bit and the crowd laughed. He gave them a little shrug and they applauded him. So far so good! Next the announcer introduced Steve. He did the usual baby face rounds and slapped hands with all the kids at ringside. He leapt over the ropes and into the ring. He gave Jake a little wink as he proceeded to each corner to the applause of the fans. Next came the Crusher. Jake had forgotten how big a star the Crusher had been in the early ?90's and how much the fans hated him. Jake was shocked as one elderly lady actually spat on the Crusher! He grimaced and growled his way into the ring to a wave of boos. The announcer handed Jake a shiny new title belt and Jake held it above his head for the crowd to see. He sent the combatants to their respective corners and checked them for any hidden implements. When he was satisfied that everything was okay he motioned for the time keeper to ring the bell and the match began.

After the match was over, Jake sat backstage enjoying a cola. He ran the match through his head to see if he?d made any major screw ups and couldn?t think of any. He?d done just as the Crusher had said. As the Crusher lay prone in the ring, his legs bent back at an impossible angle, Jake held his hand aloft in the air waiting. And as soon as the Crusher pounded down on the mat, Jake motioned for the bell and awarded Steve the new International Title.
?Good job out there kid? said the Crusher as he passed; a bag of ice on his neck and a beer in his hand. ?You got your gear with you??

?I?ve got my gym stuff with me and a pair of boxing boots that I picked up.? Jake replied puzzled and intrigued.
?That?ll do for now. We?re doing a battle royal after the intermission and we could use another guy in there. Just last a couple of minutes and then take a good bump over the side. Try not to kill yourself. Alright??

?Alright.?

Jake continued to sip his cola. What had just happened? Was he really about to be in his first match? He had gotten such a buzz just from refereeing and that would have done just fine for tonight but now he was making his debut; albeit in his stinky old gym clothes and a pair of brand new white boxing boots. Jake collected himself and started to plan in his head all the things he had learned and what he could do in the match. He had not yet learned how to go over the ropes to the floor yet but he was about to find out the hard way. He was about to have his first match and he was sweating already.


Chapter 6

The intermission at a professional wrestling match is a time for fans to get together and discuss the matches they have just seen, buy some refreshments and purchase all the latest merchandise of their favourite wrestler. It's a relaxed time where everyone can take a moment to enjoy the experience. But not for Jake; not tonight. As he sat backstage lacing up his shiny new boxing boots and wondering how clean his gym clothes were, his mind raced as he tried to recall every battle royale he had ever seen and what exactly he could do in one. He didn?t have a character, or ?gimmick?, and he wasn?t sure if he was a babyface or a heel. Standing there in his sweaty gym clothes he wasn?t sure he was a wrestler at all.

?You nervous man?? Steve said as he patted Jake on the shoulder (What was with all the forceful greetings Jake thought to himself.)

?I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. SO yeah, a tiny bit nervous!?

?Don?t worry. My first match was a battle royale and I turned out okay. As long as you know how to go over the top and land on the floor you?ll be okay.? Steve noticed the worried look on Jake's face. ?You haven?t learned that yet have you??

Jake smiled. ?We?re learning it next week.?

?No problem?

Steve ran Jake through the routine of going over the top as best he could in a tiny crowded gym. And although Jake still had visions of landing on top of a grandma in the front row and knocking her out, he felt a little more at ease with the move.

?I?ll be watching from behind the curtain. Just do your two minutes and we can go for a beer afterwards.? Steve once again patted Jake on the back (if he could get through all this back slapping he could easily make it through a battle royale!) and headed off.

Jake noticed that Steve was still wearing the championship belt that he had won that night over the Crusher. In a business of egos and constant rejection it was still okay to be proud of yourself and believe in the power of a championship. Jake wondered if he would ever win a title and if flattening a grandma in the front row would count for something.

The intermission finished and the ring announcer laid out the rules for the match to come.

?15 men will enter the ring and, once the bell has sounded, they will attempt to throw their opponents over the top rope to the arena floor. When the last man has been thrown over, the remaining wrestler will be declared the winner of the battle royale and receive a prize of $500!?

Jake knew he was going out in two minutes but still got excited at the thought of a chance at $500. The announcer finished and they made their way to the ring. Jake still wasn?t sure if he was a good guy or a bad guy but when a young fan, no more than 6 years old, stuck out his hand as Jake when by, he gave him a smile and a high five. The kid seemed so excited. He didn?t care that Jake was just some kid in his dirty gym clothes. To him he was a wrestler and that was all that mattered. So far so good.

The wrestlers all glared at each other from the sides of the ring. Some looked as if they were ready to murder a puppy like only a heel could and others had a glint in their eyes that only a babyface could pull off. The ref at ringside motioned to the timekeeper and the harsh shrill of the bell filled the arena. With that, it was go time.

No sooner had the bell rung when Jake felt a forearm smash down on his back. In practice they went a bit easy on you, but not now. The forearm belonged to a particularly angry looking heel who Jake knew from training as Kevin, a website designer and father of two. At this moment though he was ?The Dark Angel? and he was proceeding to kick the snot out of Jake. Luckily another wrestler started to work on the Dark Angel and Jake got a moment to catch his breath. He noticed another green trainee cowering in the corner and decided this was his moment to attack. Jake raised his hands over his head in a double axe handle and ran for his opponent. Unluckily for Jake though another wrestler had other ideas and swiftly clotheslined Jake to the mat. It stung like hell and, to top it all off, the green trainee who Jake was about to attack was now laying the boots into Jake as he lay wounded on the mat. So far so good?

Jake reckoned it had been about a minute and decided he should pull himself together before it was time to fling himself over the top rope. He noticed that three guys had already gone crashing to the floor and were probably already enjoying a beer, or ice pack, backstage. As much as Jake was enjoying his first match, he was about ready to join them. A scrawny wrestler called the ?Teacher's Pet? took a swing at Jake. Jake raised his arm and blocked the smash and responded with a quick succession of blows to the head. The Teacher's Pet sold those things like Jake was Mohammed Ali. Jake got one more punch in before he scooped up his opponent and slammed him to the mat. Before Jake could think about it, he was doing something he had never tried before. After years of playing on his neighbour's trampoline, Jake had mastered all sorts of standing flips. He could execute them with ease and land on his feet when he needed to. This time though he landed straight on The Teacher's Pet with a perfect standing back flip. The crowd roared and burst into applause. Jake felt as if he was outside his body watching all of this. Their cheers filled his ears and filled his body with adrenaline. Before Jake could take this all in and savour it for a lifetime he was grabbed by the hair and pulled to his feet.

?That was frickin awesome man! But you?re going over the top now okay?? said a wrestler through his long greasy hair. Now Jake knew why most wrestlers wore it that way. He heard everything the guy had said and the audience was none the wiser. Brilliant.

Jake got to his feet and the wrestler, who he remembered only as Josh, ran with him to the nearest ropes. Jake grabbed the top rope and jumped with all his might over it. It felt like he had done it alright until about half way down when he realized he had over done it and was about to do a complete flip. Everything went into slow motion as Jake watched himself hurdling towards the ground. Luckily he noticed that there was no old lady in the front row and that the front row was nowhere near him. He used all his strength to stop himself flipping all the way and landing on his head but as he came down his lower back hit the edge of the ring with a bang. Stars shot through Jake's eyes and his legs tingled a little. He fell to the floor in a heap; he wasn?t selling it, that was for sure.

After limping to the back and managing to get changed out of his gear, Jake made his way to the local bar with all the guys. He was only 19 but hanging out with this beefy gang didn?t get him a second look. It hurt every time Jake moved so he leaned against the bar for support and bit the inside of his lip through the pain. His legs still tingled and he was getting a bit worried.

?Good first show kid.? said the Crusher (luckily no back slap this time) ?That was a hell of a bump you took out of the ring. You okay??

?Yeah? Jake lied. ?Bit stiff but I?ll stretch it out.?

?Well it looked great. And so did that back flip you did. Let's work some more of that stuff into your training next week.?

With that he was gone, shaking hands and slapping backs all the way. Jake relaxed and slumped against the bar. The pain was shooting up his back to the nape of his neck. He sipped his beer and bided his time till he could go home. Steve spotted Jake from across the crowd and made his way over.

?I guess you could have used some more practice on going over the top hey??

?Little bit!?

?Here, take a couple of these. They?ll relax your back so it doesn?t stiffen up on you.?

Steve handed Jake a couple of pills. It wasn?t an After School Special kind of moment. There was no dramatic music or ominous glow; just a couple of painkillers to help Jake through a minor injury. He washed them down with his beer, thanked Steve and shook all the hands he could as he made a hasty retreat. The cold evening air shocked Jake as he headed down the street to his house. It was only a few blocks but Jake was regretting not driving. But he was not regretting the amazing evening he had just had. Sure, he was in agony and had only appeared in the ring for two minutes but all of it paled in comparison to the cheer from the crowd when he had completed that back flip. The hairs stood up on the back of his neck and he got goose bumps just thinking about it. Jake wanted more of that and soon. He was well on his way to achieving his goal of becoming a professional wrestler and as he limped down the road in the cool chill of the evening Jake felt that everything was going to be just fine.


Chapter 7

But everything had not turned out just fine. Jake had been optimistic about his injury at first and the pills that Steve had given him had eased the stabbing pain for the first night. The next day was another story though. He was bruised from his waist right up to ribs. It hurt when he breathed and any sort of turning motion sent a tingling pain shooting down his leg. Getting dressed was an adventure and making his way to the drugstore only made matters worse. Jake had Steve's cell number and knew that he could probably get him some more of those pills but he understood that, in the long run, that would cause more harm than good. He was going to be smart about this and some over the counter painkillers and a little bit of muscle rub would have to do the trick.

In being smart about it though Jake never considered going to see his doctor. Maybe he was just trying to be tough and take his bumps and bruises like a man. Or maybe he couldn?t think of a good enough excuse for his condition and didn?t feel like explaining to the doctor that an over the top rope battle royale had been the cause of it. Whatever it was, pride, stubbornness or vanity, Jake's body was not appreciating it one bit. And neither was his mother.

As Jake quietly tried to shuffle back down the stairs to his basement hideaway, he heard his mother call to him from the kitchen. The air was filled with the smell of fresh coffee and bacon and, as hungry as Jake was, he already knew the conversation that was going to go with that bacon.

?Jake honey I made breakfast? his mother called over the crackling and popping on the stove.

?That's okay Mom. I?m not that hungry.?

?Yes you are. Now get in here.?

Jake's mother was a strong soul; some might say she was a bit overbearing and overprotective to boot. Ever since Jake's father had abandoned them when Jake was little, it had just been him and his Mom. Their relationship bordered at times on all encompassing love and a great friendship. But still, when she meant business, she meant business. Jake heeded her call and made his way into the kitchen. Besides, he was pretty hungry after all.

?That's a pretty good limp you got going there Grandpa.?

?Ha ha very funny! You?ve been watching Ellen again haven?t you!?

She whacked him on the shoulder with a wooden spoon ?Listen here Hulk Hogan, you?ll never be too big for me to teach you a lesson.?

She kissed him on the forehead and began to serve up breakfast. Jake shuffled in his seat and tried, and failed, to get comfortable. His mother placed breakfast on the table and watched as Jake winced as he reached for the pepper.

?Jake honey what have you gone and done to yourself this time??

?It's nothing. I just took a bad bump. No biggie.?

?No biggie? You?re walking around like you messed yourself and groan like you?re ninety when you reach across the table. I told you from the start that this wrestling business was a foolish idea.?

?Can we not do this now? Jake shot back. He braced for impact when he realised how snappy the words had left his lips.

?I just don?t want to see you seriously hurt yourself okay. I know you enjoy it and I?m glad you?ve found something you like. Lord knows you needed it. You looked so miserable lately and I worry. Just don?t do anything stupid okay.?

?I won?t Ma. Don?t worry.?

?I?m just saying. I saw a thing on Dateline or one of those shows and they were talking about that backyard wrestling. Disgusting! That's not what you?re doing is it??

Jake chuckled ?No ma. We?re the classy choreographed kind.?
?Well good. You can limp all you want then. But when you come home with a five dollar bill stapled to your forehead I?ll start to worry.?

She kissed him on the forehead again and they finished a pleasant breakfast together in relative silence. Jake had weathered the storm and avoided the inquisition from his mother that he had been expecting. Was she mellowing in her old age? Or was she genuinely happy that he was enjoying himself? Either way Jake was relieved and retreated, albeit slowly, to his bedroom in the basement.

Jake's bedroom was more of a lair. He had full reign over the basement and plenty of room for his weights, a couple of couches and a pretty sweet 42 inch TV that he had gotten for a steal from his staff discount at the Electronics Emporium. He despised the job with all his being but loved watching films in high definition! He made his way to the couch and gingerly sprawled out in the most comfortable position he could manage. He debated putting on one of his many wrestling DVD's but given his current state, and the way in which he had ended up in it, he opted for some cheesy daytime talk shows instead.

As he lay there on his dingy floral print couch Jake looked around at the wrestling posters that littered the basement. He had always taken abuse from his friends about them and now as an almost twenty year old maybe they were a bit silly. But Jake wasn?t about to take them down. He noticed the oldest of them all; a faded Bret Hart poster from the inside of the first programme he had bought at his first live wrestling event. It had been the first and only time his father had taken him to see wrestling. Jake didn?t feel like getting all nostalgic yet he couldn?t help but think about how great a night they had together. And Jake wondered how his Dad would feel about him becoming a wrestler now. Would he be proud? Would he even care? Jake didn?t care enough himself to give it too much thought.

As Jake drifted off to sleep he realised that he would not be able to make training this week; maybe not even the week after that. But he knew that if he was at all capable of steeping into the ring the next day he would do it. He couldn?t let one injury stop him, not at this crucial point. He knew how wrestlers sacrificed their bodies for their art and how he would have to do the same if he had any chance of making it in the business. As another wave of pain crashed over him he debated calling up Steve but quickly squashed the idea. He was going to ride this one out and prove he was a man. Maybe to himself, maybe to the other boys or maybe to the father that remained now as only a memory and a tattered old wrestling poster on his wall. Jake was going to be just fine.


Chapter 8

Jake had stuck to his guns as best he could and managed to take a week and a half off from training. It killed him to do it but not as much as the pain in his back killed him every time he moved. Luckily he had also managed to swap all of his shifts at the Electronics Emporium without arousing too much suspicion from his pathetic manager Brad. The last thing Jake needed was a load of grief from him or a big screen TV falling on him if and when his back gave out. Jake relaxed and rested his injured body. He took it easy at the gym and spent some quality time with his Mom. All in all he couldn?t complain; he felt rejuvenated and ready to get back into training head on. Some people might have said he was stupid or crazy or both but Jake was in love with wrestling and he couldn?t keep his mistress waiting any longer.

His first session back was a light one as he tentatively took his bumps. But he took them. Jake felt electrified every time he hit the mat and didn?t think once about the bruising that still remained around his torso. He was determined to leave the battle royale behind him and take the next step towards getting a singles match of his own on the next card. And he knew the perfect way to do that ? flying.

Jake had become pretty adept at leaving his feet. He had mastered a pretty mean dropkick and made extra sure to get good height on his back body drops and sunset flips. All the years of jumping on the trampoline had finally paid off. When Jake thought about the reaction from the crowd when he executed that back flip in the battle royale it still made the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. He wanted more of that and he knew he could find it on the top rope.

He started out easily enough; splashes onto a crash mat. He was amazed at the height he could get and how it didn?t hurt. But this was on a crash mat. The hard, unforgiving ring was going to be another story. He figured he should just bite the bullet and hit the canvas. All alone in the ring after everyone else had headed off to lunch, Jake climbed to the top rope and jumped to the middle of the ring to his imaginary fallen opponent. As soon as he made contact Jake felt all the breath leave his body. There were none of the usual convulsions and gyrations he was used to seeing when a superstar missed a splash in a big match. Actually he didn?t move that much at all. He just lay in the middle of the ring; face down, holding his stomach and wondering when the air was going to make its way to his lungs again.

?You alright in there Snuka?? the Crusher called from his perch outside his office. Jake had thought he was alone and would have called out quicker if he could have managed a complete sentence.

?Okay? he mustered as he tried to get to his feet.

The Crusher made his way down from his office and Jake could see that he was in his boots and pads and rubbing his hands together. Jake was not looking forward to this.
?So you want to be a high-flier eh??

?Just trying some new things I could add into a match.?
?Well it's no good landing on a crash mat, or your face, so try it again.? the Crusher said as he entered the ring and lay down on the canvas not too far from where Jake had just crash landed.

?You want me to land on you??

?Yeah. Just don?t land so flat this time. It?ll kill you every time. Let your elbows and knees take most of it. I can take a bit of it too but just don?t belly flop me or I?ll be forced to stretch you!?

The Crusher chuckled, Jake didn?t. He reluctantly climbed to the top rope and counted aloud to three. And before he thought about it too much he leapt across the ring onto the Crusher. It all happened so fast but Jake remembered what the Crusher had said and made sure his elbows and knees landed a little sooner this time. After the impact, and with Jake still lying across him, the Crusher looked up and smiled.

?Much better. Now get the hell off me before you like it too much!?

Jake quickly hopped to his feet and tried not to blush like a little girl. The Crusher gave Jake one of his usual crushing pats on the back.

?Good work kid. You listened, adjusted and did the move properly. How was that for you??

?Much better that time. I didn?t feel a thing.?

?Me neither. Good. Now.... do a moonsault.?

Jake hoped he hadn?t done a cartoonlike jaw drop after the Crusher's request. He?d just barely managed to do a simple splash from the top rope and he was now expected to jump backwards, flip and land in the ring. He?d seen the move a thousand times before; from a young high flying Shawn Michaels to an old hardcore Terry Funk to a surprising agile Bam Bam Bigelow. They had all done it and now Jake was going to do it whether he liked it or not.

?I?ve never done one before.?

The Crusher waved off Jake's protest. ?You did that standing one in the battle royale a couple of weeks ago, piece of cake. Just get up there and do the same thing. You can land it on the crash mat the first few times.?

Jake wasn?t about to disagree with the boss. Unlike the distain he felt for his real boss Brad, the weasely faced manager from the Electronics Emporium, Jake respected the Crusher and didn?t want to disappoint him. So he climbed to the top rope and, once again without thinking too much about it, flung himself backwards to the crash mat below. Jake arched his back at precisely the right moment, tucked, released and landed gingerly onto the crash mat.
?Do it again and get some more hang time this time? the Crusher quickly retorted.

So Jake eagerly climbed to the top again. This time he gave it a bigger take off and once air borne, he tucked backwards a second later and it felt as if he had stopped in mid air. He used his body to complete the motion and landed perfectly in the middle of the mat again.

?You scared me for a second there kid. That was sweet.?

?Thanks.?

The doors to the training centre opened and all of the wrestlers hurried back in from their lunch break. They watched in bewilderment as the Crusher stood in the ring in his gear.

?You finally realised you need to train once a decade?? said one of the more adept young wrestlers.

?Hilarious. Why don?t you step in the ring? Let's see if you?re so smart when I make the back of your hand touch the back of your head!? the Crusher responded with a sly grin on his face. Jake wondered if he meant it; so did the overzealous wrestler!

?I?m just working through some moves with the kid. You guys work on the floor mats for a bit till we?re done.?

And with that the Crusher spent an hour one on one with Jake. They worked some more high spots and ran through some different sequences. Jake did a few leap frogs and managed a pretty perfect flying head scissors. He worried that he was taking this too quickly but trusted that the Crusher wouldn?t make him do anything he didn?t think he could handle. Jake felt surprisingly at home in the air. And as much as hitting the mat stung, he wanted more of it. They went through a few more moves until the Crusher motioned for Jake to relax against the ropes and take a breather.

?I normally like to wait a year before I put someone on the card but I think you?re ready.?

?Really? Now??

?Definitely? the Crusher shot back with a grin. ?Anyone who can come back from an injury so early on in their training and then try the moves you just did is ready in my books.?
?If you say so.?

?I do. Next match at the Rec Centre, week Saturday, you and me will do ten minutes. You?ll go over to build you up a bit and then after the match I?ll beat you down to get the crowd behind you and give me some more heat. Got it??

?Got it!?

?Now go home and get some rest. That's enough for today.? He ferociously patted Jake on the back and shook his hand. ?You?ve got it kid. You?ve definitely got it.?

With that the Crusher left the ring and turned his attention to the smart mouthed wrestler from earlier. As Jake gathered his things, and listened to the squeals coming from the Crusher's latest prey, he managed to control his excitement and play it cool. He looked upon it all as a natural progression. He was more confident than ever in his ability and understood that he was working his way up at a good pace. He was level headed about the business and the process. But secretly inside he felt like jumping and clicking his heels together like a character from the Wizard of Oz. As his head raced with all the spots he had learned, and how he could use them in his first match, Jake headed home. Injury healed and heart set, he was ready.

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