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 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!
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 favorite 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 royal 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.?
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 royal!) 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 royal 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 neighbor’s trampoline, Jake had mastered all sorts of standing flips. He could execute them with ease and land on his feet hen 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??
?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.