Welcome once again to The Rise and Fall of an Underdog and the story of Jake’s journey into the world of professional wrestling. As always I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions. Thanks for reading and enjoy.
The day had finally come. It was the day of Jake’s tryout with the WWE. As he drove to the Times Union Center arena in Albany he was surprisingly calm. Surprising because with the amount of steroids he was pumping into his body he hadn?t had a calm mood in weeks. And this calm mood was also surprising because this was what he had been dreaming about for years. This was why he endured all the pain; the broken neck, the physical and mental degradation he felt in Japan, the loneliness, the monotony of the road, the distance that was growing between Alana and him, and of course the humiliation of spending a night in jail and being deported from Germany. All of it had been because of today.
Alana had been cordial enough as Jake had left home that morning. He had barely seen her in the past month as he prepared for his tryout and he knew that she was not happy about this. She gave him a half hearted hug, a kiss on the cheek, and looked into his eyes.
?I?m proud of you for making it this far Jakey. I really am. I know you can do it and hopefully they do too. Don?t let them upset you one bit and know that I?m always here. And I always will be. And soon we?ll have a beautiful baby who will be there for you too.? She started to well up. ?Don?t do anything stupid and don?t push it Jakey. Please. For me. I love you.?
Jake managed a long, loving hug, although part of him was fuming. He took her little speech as a reminder that the real world was waiting for him when all this wrestling mess didn?t work out. He fought his urge to scream and shout, putting it down to his mood swings and nothing more, and headed out. Before he could make it he was stopped by his mother. She had been unusually quiet these past few weeks and, besides helping Alana out with the pregnancy, had really stepped back away from them. But today she couldn?t help herself.
?Be careful Jake. I?ve never sugar coated anything in your life, you know that, and I?m not going to start now. I know you do things you shouldn?t. I know you?re making mistakes. But I know you?re a smart boy and in the end you?ll do the right thing. Do your best at the tryout and whatever will be will be. We?ll be here when you come home no matter what happens. And I?m here if you need help. I?m not going to say any more than that. I love you Jake. Now go.?
She shooed him away and he went. Another by product of his crazy moods was the crying. And he cried. As he drove to the arena his mother’s words and the pain in her eyes would not leave his mind. And he cried. He composed himself before leaving his car and entering the arena for the biggest match of his life.
Jake weaved his way through the endless maze of production trucks, dipping and diving over cables and lighting rigs. He had been watching wrestling all of his life but he had never imagined the work that went into producing this, the biggest show in sports entertainment. There were guys everywhere, plugging in cables and moving big boxes of equipment. He couldn?t see any wrestlers yet, just teamsters. He found someone who worked at the arena and they showed him to the backstage entrance. He took a deep breath and made his way through the arena’s concrete tunnels and looked out for the Crusher’s friend, and WWE agent, ?Gorgeous? Greg Gallant.
He nonchalantly asked a couple of guys if they knew where Greg was. This was only feigned nonchalance, as Jake was in awe. The two guys were Chris Jericho and John Morrison, two of the biggest stars in the WWE, and in ring competitors that Jake watched on TV every week and idolized. They pointed him in the right direction, with a bit of attitude Jake sadly thought, and he found Greg sitting at a table, going through a pile of paperwork.
?Ah, the Rocket Kid. Good to finally meet you in person. The Crusher had nothing but good things to say about you. All true I hope??
Jake smiled ?Would the Crusher lie??
Greg burst into laughter ?You have no idea kid. I could tell you stories that would uncurl your short and curlies. The things that we did back in the day, man oh man. Almost as bad as you and your German bar brawls.?
Jake winced ?Oh, you heard about that??
?Of course I did, I know everything kid. I?ve got my eyes and ears on the pulse of this business. You could fart in Japan and I?d know before the stink hit you. I?m gonna give you a pass on this one and just give you some advice; don?t be so friggin? stupid again!?
?Yes sir. Thank you.?
?Now? ?Gorgeous? Greg continued ?You?ll be doing a dark match before the show with another young buck called The Greek Adonis. He’s a big guy. Around here somewhere. There he is. Adonis, over here. Fresh meat!?
?A big guy? was an understatement. The Greek Adonis stood 6 foot 8 and weighed a cool 300. He was just a wall of sinewy muscle. Much like the Greek statues he tried to emulate, he looked as if he had been cast from stone and chiseled to perfection. Jake all of a sudden felt smaller than he ever had. He had worked so hard, too hard, to get in the physical shape he was in and this guy made him look like a ten year old midget. The Adonis was the kind of guy the big leagues were always looking for and Jake knew it. He already had a bad feeling about how his much anticipated tryout would end up.
?Hey, I?m Chuck. Good to meet you? the Greek Adonis said in a surprisingly timid, well spoken voice. He shook Jake’s hand and managed to leave all the fingers intact.
?Enough of the pleasantries. Let’s get down to brass tacks. You?ve got eight minutes. Not seven, not nine, eight. Either of you can go over, doesn?t matter to me as long as you give the crowd a good show. And I don?t want to make you anymore nervous than you already are, you?re probably in need of new shorts as it is, but Vince will be backstage watching you. So give it everything you got. I want to see your hearts all over the ring. I?ll catch you guys at show time. Good luck kids.?
And with that Greg waddled off, years of ring action visible by the buckling of his knees and the unevenness of his gate. The Greek Adonis looked at Jake and all he said was ?Vince!?
Vincent Kennedy McMahon was the biggest name in the history of the wrestling business. The biggest promoter in the western world, and the shrewdest of businessmen, he was known for his temper and more than one real life run in with the talent. He could make or break anyone’s career, and he would be watching Jake tonight! Whatever nervousness Jake felt was now magnified beyond belief; and he still had a match to plan.
The Adonis turned out to be a really easy going guy. He had happened upon wrestling by accident. One day he was working out in the gym, the next he was in a wrestling ring. He was the latest in a long line of bodybuilders turned wrestlers but there was a huge difference; he held no illusions of being a great mind in the sport and left it up to Jake to plan their match. A wrestler with no ego? Jake was amazed.
He planned an easy enough match that would show off The Adonis? strength and Jake’s agility. The tests of strength were balanced with the high spots and Jake knew that he could call a decent match and get them both over with the guys backstage. He really wanted to make sure that his new finisher came off well. He would get as much hang time as humanly possible and as much distance as he could muster and try and make his version of the shooting star press something to be remembered.
With their match planned, Jake had some time to kill. He hit the make shift gym and tried to get a decent workout but all he could do was try not to seem star struck. All these guys he had worshipped for years were right in front of him. Granted, none of them were talking to him or even acknowledging him, nevertheless he was as happy as a kid at their first match. They say you should never meet your idols, and to an extent Jake hadn?t really met them, but just being in their presence was enough for him. The only person who actually talked to him was one of the WWE divas. The term ?diva? was a polite way of saying female wrestler when in fact most of them were just glorified models. And this one certainly was that. Jake couldn?t actually remember her name, he did however remember her surgically enhanced bust and after getting close-up, he would now remember her surgically inflated lips. Jake had lately taken to enjoying the company of strange women but tonight he was all business. He made a hasty retreat and grabbed a salad and a seat high up in the arena. This was a rare calming moment and he needed it more than ever. From high up in the arena Jake could see the hustle and bustle of a television program being created right before his eyes. The giant television screen known as the Titan-Tron was built and tested, the ring assembled and cameramen ran around checking angles and doing sound checks. When the pyrotechnics were suddenly tested Jake nearly dropped his salad and chuckled to himself alone in the nosebleed section. His nerves had calmed a bit and it was now time to head back to the locker room and get ready for the biggest night of his life.
He got ready in a separate dressing room form the rest of the boys, tucked off in the corner he and The Adonis dressed and prepared for their match. Jake ran through the plan as the Adonis did all sorts of stretches, sit ups and pushups. Jake knew that there was no way he could compare with the Adonis? physique so besides a few minutes of getting the blood pumping and the veins bulging, he was ready.
They headed to the area backstage right behind the curtain and listened as the crowd filed in and the show got underway. Producers and directors ran around the place screaming into headsets and looking generally stressed. The rest of the crew looked far more laid back and the other wrestlers looked practically bored. Some read newspapers, some drank coffee and chatted, and Jake even caught a few napping. Sleep was the last thing on his mind and he spent his time going over the match with The Adonis yet again. As the show’s music hit and the pyrotechnics went off, Greg ran up and patted Jake on the back.
?Okay kid you guys are up. The announcer will announce that before the show starts they have a treat for the audience, couple new up and comers, yadda yadda yadda, the big Greek goes out first, then you, do your eight minutes and bob’s your uncle as they say. Eight minutes kid. We?ve got a schedule to keep.?
Greg waddled away, put on a headset, and plonked himself in front of a monitor. The Jake saw him; Vince McMahon. He looked so much bigger than Jake imagined. His chest and arms were far bigger than Jake’s and he had a presence that was as big as every one of his billion dollars. As Jake continued to stare, someone dressed in black with a clipboard prodded him in the back.
?That’s your music! Let’s go!?
Jake hadn?t recognized it. It wasn?t his usual music, just some generic thing they must have used for all the tryouts. He wasn?t religious by any stretch of the imagination but he crossed himself before heading through the curtain. From what Jake could see through the blinding stage lights, the arena was packed to the rafters and the fans gave him a polite welcome. They had come to see the biggest stars in the world but they would give this kid the benefit of the doubt. The Adonis was waiting in the ring, playing the heel and shouting at the crowd. Jake did a lap around the ring and slapped as many hands as he could. He back flipped into the ring and the crowd roared. He had them already. The bell rang and the biggest match of his life was underway.
The Greek Adonis called for a test of strength and Jake obliged. But when the Adonis got the upper hand, Jake did a few flips and took the big man down. The Adonis slid to the outside and played it up with the crowd. Jake hit the ropes and did a perfect suicide dive over the top and onto the Adonis. The crowd cheered as Jake ran along the outside, jumped on the barrier and did a perfect kick to the head on his foe. He drank in their cheers and went for another. This time though the Adonis was waiting and speared Jake from mid air into the side of the ring. He dragged Jake back into the ring and delivered a bevy of slams. He then focused in on Jake’s back and stretched him in the middle of the ring. The fans were really into it and Jake was living it up. He countered by kicking back and hitting the Adonis in the head. He hit the ropes and moonsaulted onto the Adonis. The crowd was behind the Rocket Kid as he hit a perfect hurricanrana and a trio of leg drops. The Adonis was dazed and after a vicious mule kick was down flat on the mat. Jake hit the top turnbuckle and before he knew it he was sailing across the ring. He propelled himself higher than ever before and could even see the camera flashes going off as he hung in the air before hitting his foe. The ref counted one, two, three, and his first match in the WWE was over. The crowd cheered as he did another lap of the ring and headed backstage. He had done it, and been victorious in so many ways.
A few of the boys who were waiting behind the curtain patted him on the back, shook his hand, and congratulated him on his match. A few of them complimented his shooting star press and said they would never have tried it from that distance. Jake ate it all up, but the one person he wanted to hear from was heading away from the table nearby and Jake had to catch him.
?Mr. McMahon? Jake cried ?I just wanted to thank you for??
?Six minutes!? the feared owner of the WWE shouted. ?You were asked to do eight, and you did six.? He continued on his way down the corridor. ?You owe me two minutes!?
?But Mr. McMahon??
?Two god damn minutes!? And he was gone.
And as Vince McMahon strutted his way down the corridor, Jake’s dream of being in the WWE went with him. Greg thanked him for coming and wished him well. A couple of the boys patted him on the back, and that was it. Years of hard work, years of pain, years of struggling to make it, and it was all over. Because of two minutes.
Jake changed in silence, avoiding everyone else, and headed to his car. His heart was broken and he was embarrassed and hurt like never before. He tried to get the keys into the lock but dropped them to the ground. It was all too much. He screamed and kicked the car door. He kicked it again and again. He kicked the window and a spider’s web of cracks spread across it. He leaned in to the car, resting his head on the hood, huffing and puffing, and now crying. Outside an arena in Albany New York, Jake cried. He cried over his dream being lost and his future being uncertain. But more than anything he cried because he would now have to go home and face Alana and his mother. Face the real world and all the challenges that it would now bring. He had a baby on the way and no steady work to support himself let alone a family. Wrestling was his life and he now feared that life was over. It was all too much for Jake. He hopped into the car and sped to the nearest hotel. He was drunk before he made it to a seat in the bar, stoned before he made it to his room, and sleeping next to a nameless naked woman before midnight. Jake Reynolds, husband, son and expectant father felt like dying, because deep down he knew that the ?Rocket Kid? was already dead.