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. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
p.s. In case you are wondering, I made a boo-boo and the last chapter should have been 28 not 27. Oops 😉
Jake was getting to the breaking point. He had told himself to be patient and to not rock the boat but this was getting ridiculous. It had been six weeks and Jake had not had another match. After his squashing by Masuto, he had simply returned behind the curtain to his gruelling training and a life of completing menial tasks for his sempai. He?d had enough. It didn?t help that Alana was less than enthusiastic about him being there and tried her hardest to dissuade him from sticking it out. She didn?t mean him any harm, she just wanted him at home. And at this point, he wanted to be there too.
It didn?t help that each week a different wrestler that he knew from the States would show up on the company’s doorstep and work matches night after night while he did laundry for Futoshi and chauffeured him around Tokyo. Guys that had half the talent Jake had would find an easy payday and adoration from the fans without ever stepping into the dojo from hell. Jake kept telling himself that it wasn?t these guy’s fault and that he didn?t need to wipe any smug smiles off any smug faces. But it still stung. Watching them shake hands with the guys that stretched and punched him all day long was a bitter pill to swallow and Jake wasn?t sure he could take much more of it.
So he weighed up the pros and cons. There were little things like the size of his apartment and the food he could barely digest. And then there were the big things like losing face with this company and also burning any opportunity he would have at ever competing in Japan again. On the positive side was the main reason he put up with this ridiculous situation: so many guys that eventually made it in the big companies started just where he was. They too ran errands for pompous jerks and watched from the background as other guys moved ahead of them. Guys that would go on to be world champions had been stretched and had puked in the very same training centre that he did. He?d read the books, he?d seen the documentaries, and that was enough proof for him. And just enough to sway him away from booking a plane ticket and getting the hell out of dodge.
Jake had never really had a lot of luck. He?d never won more than a couple of dollars in the lottery and had given up on trying to win raffles or stuffed toys at amusement parks. He was resigned to the fact that there were no four leaf clovers in his future and that he just had to work hard for everything he got in life. But when he least expected it, life handed him a little bit of luck. And it came in the form of a broken ankle.
Not his ankle mind you, the ankle of Kiyoki Watashi, a fellow trainee and golden boy of his class. Watashi was set to join the company ahead of everyone else and even win a junior heavyweight tournament that was coming up in a couple of weeks. Watashi was so excited about this that he broke his gruelling regime and headed to a bar to celebrate. After one too many saki, or whatever else it is that drink (Jake wouldn?t know, he was never invited), Watashi started to show off for the ladies. He wowed the crowd of adoring young women by jumping up and spin kicking a chandelier. An impressive feat considering the height but on his last try he landed awkwardly and totally snapped his right ankle. He would be out for months and might never even wrestle again. The management were furious and frantically tried to figure out who would now take Watashi’s spot and win the junior heavyweight tournament. Jake was not privy to their meetings but he heard from an inside source that it was Futoshi who first suggested Jake as an alternate for the injured Watashi.
Jake couldn?t believe it. After all the degradation, all the car washing and grocery fetching, after being made to feel totally worthless, Futoshi would turn around and try and get Jake the push he needed. Jake had heard of tough love but this was ridiculous! He would never know if it was in fact Futoshi who got him there, but after a stern meeting with the company management, Jake was now set to get into the ring and win a major tournament. The glares he received from the rest of the trainees could do nothing to extinguish the joy Jake was feeling. They could call him a gaijin all they wanted because this gaijin was about to become the first one of his kind in almost a decade to win the junior heavyweight tournament.
Jake couldn?t wait to tell Alana the good news. They had just about given up on phone calls because of the time difference and the fact that the cheap phone cards Jake kept buying only worked about 1% of the time. So they relied on e-mail as their primary mode of communication. Jake ran to his local internet caf?, ordered his usual espresso, and tried to steady his hands as he logged in. But before he could start writing a message he saw that there was already one waiting for him in his inbox from Alana. He scanned it, barely able to see straight, and nearly leapt out of his seat. She was coming to see him! And in time for the finals of the tournament! She had saved almost every penny she made at her job at the local bingo hall and bought a ticket to Tokyo. Jake couldn?t believe his luck! He?d gone from none to more than he needed. He thought about buying a lottery ticket but decided against it; wouldn?t want to get greedy. Jake ran back to his apartment to call Alana. No cheap phone cards this time, just a regular priced phone call. This was a celebration after all.
Jake had stuck it out. He?d tried his best and hadn?t let them get him down. He knew that he was better than all of this and deserved better by far. But he knew how to play the game and that at some point the would win. He didn?t know the specifics of the tournament, or Alana’s flight for that matter, all he knew was that things were looking up for the Rocket Kid and he would never have to go to the grocery store for anyone but himself again!