The Rise & Fall of an Underdog #8
April 9, 2009
By: AJ Pearce of
Welcome to another edition of The Rise and Fall of an Underdog. Thanks for reading and I hope you?re enjoying the story of Jake’s journey to the big leagues. If you have missed any instalments, check out the previous Thursday’s posts or let me know and I can send it to you. I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and would always love to hear any comments, questions, or requests you might have. Happy reading!
Jake had just under two weeks to prepare for his first ever match against the Crusher. He hit the gym every day and trained in the ring with the Crusher one on one during the week. These evening sessions were usually reserved for the main event guys but the Crusher had invited Jake to be a part of it. Jake felt that a few of the guys resented him for this. In the long run though none of this would matter and Jake was getting the training he needed to move even further ahead in the company. His body ached, and he hated having to go to work each day as well, but Jake was bursting at the seams with excitement over the thought of stepping between the ropes and having a match in front of a crowd for the first time.
As much as the physical side of preparation was important, Jake quickly realised that there was a lot more to preparing for your in ring debut than just bumps and bruises. The main thing that Jake had to sort out was what was he going to wear? Much like a girl preparing for a first date, Jake was faced with the conundrum of picking the perfect outfit for his debut. Granted, he didn?t have to go to fancy shops or ring his friends to ask for advice, but he was as meticulous as any girl could ever have been. He asked around to see if any of the guys had any old ring gear they wanted to get rid of. He bought a few pairs of tights from a guy who was roughly the same size as him and tried them on as soon as he got home. Although the guy had looked to be the same size as him, Jake quickly realised that this was not the case. As he pulled with all his might, he just about managed to get the tights on. Out of breath, and struggling to catch it amidst the clench of spandex, Jake knew that he would have to hit the internet and find something more suitable; just as soon as he got those tights off!
A quick search of e-bay resulted in dozens of successful hits and in the right size to boot. There were all sorts of designs; bright neon stripes, pictures of wild animals down the sides of the legs, dangly strips hanging from the seams, and there was even a pair with a giant lipstick print on the butt! As much as Jake liked that pair he opted for a plain black pair with red and gold stripes down the sides. Picking tights was tricky business because as it was Jake’s first match, none of the fans would know him and he needed to establish whether he was a babyface (a good guy) or a heel (a bad guy). If he came out in a pair of tights with skulls down the side and wore a black mask, people would assume he was a heel. And if he came down in bright red tights with stars down the sides and a matching headband, people would assume he was a babyface. But as he was facing the Crusher, the most hated heel in all of the company, people would be on his side no matter what. Jake paid for the tights, and next day delivery, and moved his attention to the next piece of the puzzle, boots.
Jake had been making do with his shiny white boxing boots, but it was now time for a proper pair of wrestling boots. The Crusher had given him the name of a boot maker he had been using for twenty years and Jake headed off to a tiny workshop not too far from the gym where he trained. The little old man who owned the shop was named Giuseppe and fit every stereotype of an old Italian shop owner that Jake could have imagined. It was like visiting the set of Pinocchio; minus the creepy wooden doll and talking insect. Giuseppe whistled as he carefully measured Jake’s feet ankles and calves. Jake went with the imitation black leather as he liked the shine (and they were almost half the price of genuine leather). As Giuseppe finished the paperwork Jake looked around the shop and noticed a picture on the wall. It was a dusty old photograph with an inscription sprawled across it: Giuseppe, thanks for the boots, Andre. The picture beneath the inscription was of none other than the Eighth Wonder of the World Andre the Giant.
?Did you make boots for Andre the Giant?? Jake eagerly asked Giuseppe.
?Yes, once. He was-a comin through town and he lost-a his boots. So I stayed up all-a night makin him a new pair. You should-a seen these things. Like-a boats they were! He wore those boots for-a years. I think he was even wearing them-a the night Hulk-a Hogan body slammed him at-a Wrestlemania!?
Giuseppe was obviously proud of this fact and beamed as he finished up his work and gave Jake a firm handshake that the Crusher would have been proud of. Jake left the shop and started to head home but Giuseppe came running after him.
?I forgot-a to ask you? he puffed as he caught up to Jake.
?You want-a me to sew your name on-a the boots??
?Yes-a you name. So the people know-a who you are.?
Jake realized that he didn?t know his name. He wasn?t having some sort of amnesiac moment, he just hadn?t decided what his in-ring name was going to be. He thanked Giuseppe, declined the boot naming and headed home. He spent the whole rest of the night thinking of names and trying to be clever. Alliteration was the best way to go he thought. Jumpin? Jake, Jake Justice, things like that. He went to sleep with his own name ringing in his head and more worries than he had had before.
The next day at training he approached a group of the regular headliners and asked what they thought about a possible name. They didn?t take it as seriously as Jake had hoped. Each suggestion was more ridiculous than the one before but one in particular had stuck out; but not in a good way.
?Jake the Rake? a rather surly looking wrestler suggested.
The group burst out in laughter and agreement. Jake was mortified. He had a big enough complex about his size as it was and this new nickname certainly didn?t help. He had been trying so hard to gain weight and thought he was doing pretty well. He couldn?t? eat any more protein shakes or workout any more if he tried. He knew he was being too sensitive but it still stung.
?Leave the kid alone? came a booming voice from behind them. The Crusher had appeared from nowhere and shooed the group of wrestler’s away. ?Get back to training. Lord knows you need it.?
Jake felt relieved and a bit of a teacher’s pet at the same time. ?Ignore them kid. Most of them are too stupid to remember their own names let alone think up a new one. I pretty much gave them all their ring names. You, let’s see. You?re young, good lookin kid, a high flier; you?re Jake ?Rocket Kid? Reynolds. That?ll do for now. Get back to trainin.?
With that the Crusher limped his way back to his office and Jake finished the rest of his training session. On the way home he kept saying his new ring name to himself. ?Rocket Kid?. He liked it. He would have preferred to be a man instead of a kid but ?Rocket Man? was too David Bowie for his liking. Yes, ?Rocket Kid? would do just fine. With his naming complete, Jake was pretty much set for his debut match. He looked the part and now had a character for himself. Now all he needed was to know what the heck he and the Crusher were actually going to do in the ring that Saturday night! The butterflies in his stomach were already the size of bats but Jake trusted the Crusher and knew that he wanted the best for him. In a few short months this man that Jake referred to by a cheesy character name had become more of a father figure than his own Dad had ever been. Jake appreciated all that the Crusher was doing for him and felt deep down that this match was going to be the start of a career that he had dreamed about all his life. But he was still bloody nervous.