Welome 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 installments, 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 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 it’s 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 jumped 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 laying 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 disdain 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.?
The doors to the training center 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 realized 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.?
?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 Center, 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??
?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.