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 email@example.com and would always love to hear any comments, questions, or requests you might have. Happy reading!
Jake didn?t want to seem too eager so he arrived at the rec centre at a cool 6:01. He tried to seem casual and at ease but inside he was buzzing. He had been to plenty of local wrestling shows before but never as a participant. He realized that he was merely a referee but basked in the glory of a chance to appear in the squared circle.
He surveyed the room and noticed that no one had arrived yet. He had imagined a bustle of activity and wrestlers frantically going over spots and arguing with the Crusher about their booking. All Jake found was an elderly janitor piling up chairs and muttering to himself about ?these damn wrestling shows!? The rear door of the gymnasium swung open with a large thud and the chilly evening air blasted through. The Crusher, followed by a couple of his regular wrestlers, quickly entered the warmth of the gymnasium. He patted his chest and blew into his hands to get the feeling back into them. He noticed Jake from across the room and shouted after him.
?Hell kid, I didn?t think you?d be here this early!?
?You said 6, so here I am?, Jake replied as he quickly made his way over to the Crusher.
?Well alright. Punctuality never hurt anybody. Since you?re here you can help us set up the ring.?
With that the Crusher disappeared. Jake guessed that his idea of helping ?us? set up the ring didn?t really involve the Crusher too much. Someone punched Jake in the shoulder and he nearly jumped out of his skin; one from the fright and two from the fact it really hurt. It was Steve. He laughed at Jake’s over dramatic reaction.
?Jeese Jake, calm down. Bit jumpy tonight are we??
?I?m just excited.? Jake said as he responded with a punch of his own (Steve didn?t flinch!)
Steve introduced Jake to the rest of the guys and their monstrous handshakes and then they set about the task of assembling the ring. Jake tried to keep up with the rest of the guys as they lifted in the heavy metal beams that made up the frame of the ring. He was getting stronger and stronger each week and was lifting more weights than ever before. But he still lagged behind a little. Jake was amazed at what lurked beneath the canvas of a wrestling ring. He thought that there would be all sorts of springs under there; not just the one big one in the middle. He was also amazed by how little padding actually made up the mat. There were long pieces of wood and on top of those went a couple of layers of foam. As Jake rolled them out he realized that was all that was absorbing the shock of his back hitting the mat each week. And he realized more than ever that he needed to perfect his bumps. Next were the ropes. Jake helped to twist the corners into place and run into the ropes to make sure the tension was right. He did it too tight to begin with and found out the hard way as he bashed into them at full speed. The stinging in his back remained the rest of the night.
With the ring finished, Jake followed Steve backstage. ?Backstage? was being gracious. The changing room for the wrestlers that night was a tiny make shift work out room. Guys sat around on treadmills and weight benches talking through their matches. Most of the guys had arrived by this point and Jake eagerly listened in as they planned.
?Then my manager distracts the ref, salt in the eyes, 1-2-3.?
?I?ll play possum for a bit and then school boy you.?
?I think you should get juice tonight.?
This comment intrigued Jake the most. The idea of ?getting juice? still horrified him. Purposely cutting your own forehead with a concealed razor blade was not exactly Jake’s idea of an appealing Friday night out; especially when you were only making twenty bucks to do it. But he realized how committed these guys were and how much they wanted to entertain the fans. He just didn?t want to end up with a forehead that he could hold quarters in.
Steve was running through the role of a referee with Jake, and how to help the performers get some good heat, when the Crusher approached.
?Tonight’s the night Steve my man? the Crusher said as he planted a hand firmly on his shoulder. ?We?re going to introduce that International Title belt we?ve been talking about. And you?re going to go over on me to win it.?
A cheer filled the room and all the guys present clapped for their soon to be champion. Jake was ecstatic for Steve and yet again tried to contain himself. The Crusher now turned his attention to Jake and planted a massive hand on his shoulder.
?And you?re going to ref it. We?ll give you 15 minutes and then, when I go for my finisher, he?ll reverse it and d rop me into his submission finisher. I?ll fight it for a minute but then I?ll tap. You got it??
Jake wasn?t sure that he 100% got it but he nodded and replied ?Got it Crusher.?
?How many times have I got to tell you kid, it’s Chris.?
?Got it Chris.?
The Crusher started to walk away and turned to Jake ?And we?re up first so get ready!?
Jake’s head was spinning. He joined everyone else in congratulating Steve. In a world where everything is predetermined, a championship title still meant a lot. It showed that the booker had faith in you and that the fans believed in you. This International Title wasn?t going to make ?Simply? Steve Sebastian a household name, but it would move him up the pecking order and hopefully get him some recognition. Jake was going to make sure he did his best to help the match in any way he could.
It was now time for the match to begin and as the announcer welcomed the fans Jake fiddled with his tight fitting ref’s shirt and tried not to wonder how many guys had worn it before and how many times it actually got washed.
?And your referee for this match…Jake Reynolds!?
This was it; Jake kept his head down and ran to the ring. He stumbled on the ropes a bit and the crowd laughed. He gave them a little shrug and they applauded him. So far so good! Next the announcer introduced Steve. He did the usual baby face rounds and slapped hands with all the kids at ringside. He leapt over the ropes and into the ring. He gave Jake a little wink as he proceeded to each corner to the applause of the fans. Next came the Crusher. Jake had forgotten how big a star the Crusher had been in the early ?90’s and how much the fans hated him. Jake was shocked as one elderly lady actually spat on the Crusher! He grimaced and growled his way into the ring to a wave of boos. The announcer handed Jake a shiny new title belt and Jake held it above his head for the crowd to see. He sent the combatants to their respective corners and checked them for any hidden implements. When he was satisfied that everything was okay he motioned for the time keeper to ring the bell and the match began.
After the match was over, Jake sat backstage enjoying a cola. He ran the match through his head to see if he?d made any major screw ups and couldn?t think of any. He?d done just as the Crusher had said. As the Crusher lay prone in the ring, his legs bent back at an impossible angle, Jake held his hand aloft in the air waiting. And as soon as the Crusher pounded down on the mat, Jake motioned for the bell and awarded Steve the new International Title.
?Good job out there kid? said the Crusher as he passed; a bag of ice on his neck and a beer in his hand. ?You got your gear with you??
?I?ve got my gym stuff with me and a pair of boxing boots that I picked up.? Jake replied puzzled and intrigued.
?That?ll do for now. We?re doing a battle royal after the intermission and we could use another guy in there. Just last a couple of minutes and then take a good bump over the side. Try not to kill yourself. Alright??
Jake continued to sip his cola. What had just happened? Was he really about to be in his first match? He had gotten such a buzz just from refereeing and that would have done just fine for tonight but now he was making his debut; albeit in his stinky old gym clothes and a pair of brand new white boxing boots. Jake collected himself and started to plan in his head all the things he had learned and what he could do in the match. He had not yet learned how to go over the ropes to the floor yet but he was about to find out the hard way. He was about to have his first match and he was sweating already.