Welcome once again to ?The Rise and Fall of an Underdog? and Jake’s story of his journey into the world of professional wrestling. As always you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or questions. On a personal note, I often wonder as I burn the midnight oil and write my column, are people actually reading my words? If you are reading this, I would greatly appreciate it, if you have the time, a quick message so I can gauge readership. Nothing fancy. Just right ?yes?, or ?I read it? or even ?asdfjhernbsdfhiewrfbkasfdhusahdf?, doesn?t matter to me 😉 Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Jake wasn?t so much nervous as he was anxious. His training in Japan had made him feel worthless and uncertain about his abilities; he now needed to leave it up to the Japanese fans to assess his worth as a professional wrestler. He knew they would be a tough crowd to win over and that he would have to give his all in his match. But he also realised that his match was with the temperamental at best Masuto and he would have to work extra hard just not to get killed in the ring. Jake tried for days to pin down Masuto (not literally of course!) to plan out their match. He thought it was impossible for Masuto to be any less personable, but he managed it. Jake had called matches on the fly a million times before, just not in another language! It was going to be a long night.
Crouched under the stands, Jake watched the start of the show. He had been awarded the prime spot of second match. Not great but at least he didn?t have to go on first. He used the time to gauge the crowd. The two wrestlers in the ring could have been killing each other and Jake wouldn?t have noticed. He was enthralled by the thousands of people who had crammed into the sports hall. The main thing that struck Jake was the long silences that occurred during the match. These fans were really watching the match. It was almost eerie as the two wrestlers did their best and you could have heard a tumbleweed blow by. But at the same time the crowd would burst into thunderous applause and chants that Jake wished he could understand. Then as quickly as it happened, the silence would return. If Jake hadn?t been nervous before, he was now.
He cornered Masuto as he waited to go through the curtain. He tried his best to fumble a few questions in broken Japanese and decipher what they were going to do out there. Masuto simply laughed and, in true sporting fashion, head butted Jake square on the forehead. As Jake sat on the floor holding his head, he felt something fall onto it. He reached up to find an ornate mask. It looked to be some sort of fish; scaly and shiny. He caught a glimpse of Tajareki as he turned a corner, giving Jake a smile and a thumbs up as he went. Jake had known that masks were the norm for new American wrestlers, but no one had mentioned it before now. He had never worn a mask outside of Halloween in his life (well, there was that one time with Alana, but that certainly hadn?t been in front of thousands of people). Jake pulled the purple and pink piece of cloth down over his head and looked in a nearby mirror. It looked even more ridiculous on yet that was the least of Jake’s worries; he couldn?t breathe. The bottom of the mask cut into his throat and the mesh that covered his mouth was hard enough to get air through when he was standing looking in a mirror, he couldn?t imagine what it would be like when he was working hard in the ring. Then there were the eye-holes. They too were covered in mesh making it difficult to see anything. More worryingly, they almost completely removed his peripheral vision; something he would need when the 350 pound Masuto would be sending chops and kicks his way. Jake knew that this was some sort of test. See if the Young boy complains about having to work in a mask. So with no air and no vision, Jake had no complaints; they were not going to beat him before he even stepped into a ring.
Jake’s music hit (some Japanese heavy metal that he had never heard before and didn?t particularly want to again) and he ran to the ring. Jake was now thankful for the God awful heavy metal music because if not for it you could have heard crickets and more than one tumbleweed in that arena. Masuto was a hero and Jake was a young boy; the fans knew that. As Masuto headed to the ring he was bombarded with flowers, chocolates and all sorts of gifts. Jake could barely see him through all the items. And for Masuto’s size, that was an accomplishment. The announcer rattled through a list of things that Jake couldn?t understand and he just hoped that they weren?t stipulations for his match. The announcer pointed to Jake to introduce him but he wasn?t greeted with the usual ?RRRRRRRRRRRRRRROCKET KID!? that he had grown accustomed to. From the best he could understand he was called ?Sakana Kun? which he would find out later meant fish boy. Great, after being abused and degraded emotionally and physically and now having his first match in front of thousands of Japanese fans, Jake was Fish Boy. Hopefully things could only get better.
But they didn?t. Jake had wrestled some stiff wrestlers before but none like Masuto. Every punch connected, every kick had impact, every chop would have made Ric Flair proud. And then their were the suplexes. Masuto was known for the countless suplexes in his arsenal, and Jake was pretty sure that he used most of them in his match. It’s hard enough to take a move you know, one you didn?t know could hurt like hell and was pretty dangerous too. None of that affected Masuto though as he tossed Jake around the ring like a rag doll, smiling the whole time. Jake was gasping for air as he started to mount his only comeback of the match. Comeback might be too strong a word; Jake got a few offensive moves in and executed a beautiful spring board moonsault which brought Masuto down? to one knee. Jake looked weak and useless in the face of this and the crowd were still 110% behind their local hero. After a few more brutal kicks, Masuto finished Jake off with his trademark rolling German suplex. He barely covered Jake for the 1-2-3. Jake lay in the middle of the ring, still barely able to catch his breath. His ears were ringing and he was pretty sure his lip was bleeding underneath his fishy mask. The crowd politely clapped for him as he made his way to the locker room. A token gesture for a David that could never beat Goliath.
The only good thing about wearing the mask was that Jake could now wander out into the crowd and watch the rest of the show; a small consolation to say the least. He was amazed by some of what he saw in the ring. He considered himself to be an aerial specialist but so many of these guys took it to the next level and it didn?t even look like they were trying. Jake tried to adjust to the crowd and cheer and boo and hiss when they did. One thing he couldn?t adjust to was some of the characters he saw in the ring. Masks were one thing but guys dressed in whole outfits resembling animals and space aliens was another kettle of fish(boy). Jake just couldn?t understand the psychology of a dominant baby face that the crowd adored, dressed head to toe like a panda bear. Jake understood that they were a sacred animal in Japan but they didn?t really strike fear into the hearts of men. What was next? Teddy bear man? Captain Sea Horse? Jake chuckled to himself and wondered if he was onto a winner for his next character.
He enjoyed the show as a fan and tried to enjoy his intermission snack of noodles (he didn?t want to seem too American but he would have killed for a hot dog or peanuts right about now). But what he really didn?t enjoy was the surprise he got when the next match started. As an American wrestler known as Sid Victor made his way to the ring Jake almost dropped his steaming bowl of noodles. Why hadn?t Jake seen Victor at training? And more importantly, why was Jake going though it all if this guy didn?t have to? Jake fumed as he watched the match. Once it was over he made his way backstage and cornered Tajareki.
?He’s bigger draw than you. He just had tryout with major federation. I owe his promoter favour.?
Tajareki was full of excuses, none of which quelled Jake’s anger. He had gone through so much and fought so hard to get killed in that ring tonight and some guy with half the talent he had walks right in and gets a better spot and subsequently a better pay day? Jake was still fuming as Sid Victor approached him back stage to say hello. But Jake was a professional. It wasn?t this guy’s fault that the system wasn?t fair. So Jake shook his hand like he would anybody else and made some chit chat. He couldn?t get away fast enough and retreated home to his coffin like apartment to ease into sleep until the pain would rush in again the next morning.
As he tried to fall asleep Jake’s mind was flooded with thoughts. He loved professional wrestling, this he knew, but he didn?t love being made a fool of. And for the first time ever he hadn?t loved being in the ring in front of a crowd tonight. He felt squashed, stifled. Telling himself that it was all part of his master plan was starting to wear thin for Jake. He didn?t know how much longer this single thought could sustain him. If the trainers didn?t kill him, the indifference of the fans would. As he drifted off to sleep, doubts dancing in his head like sugar plums, Jake didn?t really look forward to his next match. But that wouldn?t really matter too much. He wouldn?t get another chance to step into the ring for another six weeks!