Hello and welcome to ?The Rise and Fall of an Underdog: The Story So Far?. It’s been six months of chapters of Jake’s journey into the world of professional wrestling. So I thought I?d bring everyone up to speed with the story so far. Over the next month I will be posting all the previous chapters so you can catch the bits you missed or get on board for the first time. We begin with chapters 1-4. You can always send any comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Jake stood there staring at the building. It was an unimpressive structure; grey and drab and in desperate need of an upgrade. Like every other building on the street it looked as if time had forgotten about it, like time had stood still. But Jake was most interested in the sign. Dingy, cracked and hanging on by only one corner it read ?Diluzio’s Gym and Training Centre?. The sign blew back and forth in the cool September wind and Jake took a step back for fear of it landing on his head, doing more damage than the activities that were about to take place inside the building.
Jake Reynolds was 19 years old, athletic and in need of an outlet. Only two days before he had read an ad in the local paper promoting this dilapidated building; promoting the training that went on inside. ?Learn how to be a pro wrestler? the ad had proclaimed above a picture of two sweaty men engaged in some form of grappling hold, the anguish on their faces screaming out at you from the page. This ad had probably not even elicited a glance from most readers but it grabbed Jake’s attention and made him wonder if he could do it. He had been watching wrestling for as long as he could remember. His oldest memories of wrestling were sitting on his father’s lap on a Saturday night and watching the matches while eating a giant bowl of popcorn. During the commercial breaks his father would practice the holds on Jake and let him elbow drop him from the top of the sofa. There were no pin falls; they always ended up on the floor in a heap, laughing until the action started up again on their old TV set. These were Jake’s happiest memories of his father. After those Saturday nights there weren?t many happy memories of his Dad. There weren?t many memories at all.
But Jake wasn?t standing outside a dirty old gym in the freezing autumn cold to take a trip down memory lane. He was there to try something new. Lord knows he needed it. Jake was a year out of high school and at first he didn?t mind messing around, working his part time job and having fun. But soon he started to realise that all of his friends had disappeared. Most to college, some to relationships, and now Jake was alone. He had applied to colleges but his less than impressive grades and lack of extracurricular activities didn?t appeal to any of them. His teachers had warned him that working out in the school gym wasn?t enough. One over emotional History teacher had said ?The only muscle you need to work out is your brain!? Jake had laughed this off as cheesy, sentimental garbage but after a year of inactivity his brain was one flabby muscle.
But that was the only flabby part of Jake Reynolds. Years of weight training had served his body well. Although he only stood 5?10?, he had managed to heap 186 pounds onto his otherwise petite frame. He was by no means a monster but when he looked in the mirror he was happy with what he saw. Sure, he would love to be bigger but his pesky genetics always got in the way. Jake was contented to be a little big man and thought that his chiselled good looks made him the perfect candidate for professional wrestling training.
Jake looked down at his watch. It was already 10:10am and no one had arrived yet for the 10am training session. He was beginning to worry when from around the corner appeared a motley looking crew if Jake had ever seen one. There were six of them ranging in size from large to larger. Jake recognised most of them from the matches he had attended at the local rec centre by his house. He recognised two of them as the bitter enemies he had seen beating each other over the head with steel chairs. Today they laughed and patted each other on the back. This wasn?t a complete shock to Jake. In the age of the internet and numerous fan sites, Jake was aware of the ins and outs of the business. He was what they called a ‘smart mark?. But still, seeing these two men who usually bloodied each other to a pulp sipping coffees together and laughing did strike Jake as odd for a moment.
The wrestlers all shuffled past Jake, paying him no notice. Standing there in his sweat pants and hoody he probably looked like any number of fans they encountered on a weekly basis. But one older man who was obviously the leader of this muscle bound gang stopped and pointed at Jake.
?You that kid who called me the other day about starting your training?, he said in a gruff voice that sounded as if it had had as rough a life as his scarred forehead.
?Yeah, I?m Jake Reynolds. I read about the training in the Gazette.?
?Good. It’s twenty bucks a session. But if you pay for the whole month up front it works out to fifteen.?
Jake was a bit shocked at the quickness and bluntness of the mention of money. He had thought they would talk above moves and holds first or even his background but he simply nodded. He understood it was a business after all and that no business, especially one in such a rough part of town, can survive without the almighty dollar. While Jake was thinking all of this the gruff older wrestler looked him up and down.
?You work out??
?Every morning and for a couple of extra hours on the weekend? Jake proudly replied, hoping he hadn?t sounded too eager and overconfident.
?Well maybe we can get some more weight on ya. Come in. Oh, and we only take cash.?
With that the older wrestler disappeared into the building. Jake still didn?t know this gruff grappler’s name but he had been too intimidated to ask. Although he had been watching wrestling all his life he had never actually spoken to a wrestler. It wasn?t as if he was star struck but it was yet another wall of mystery crumbling down. Jake had passed from the world of fan into the world of participant. At least he would when he forked over his twenty bucks.
More wrestlers shuffled past Jake as he too entered the building. Jake instantly thought that the inside of the dingy warehouse certainly complimented the outside. As the wrestlers went around briskly shaking each other’s hands, Jake looked around. There were countless posters covering the water stained and hole ridden walls. Some were new, advertising the upcoming matches, and some were so old they had yellowed and curled up in the corners. These advertised matches that had taken place long before Jake was born. He pulled his attention away from the walls and took in the rest of the place. There was a small locker room and a row of benches containing old towels and discarded items of clothing. There was a definite aroma in the air but Jake wasn?t the prissy type; he could take it. The bulk of the warehouse was taken up by a rather ancient looking gym. There were no machines like the ones Jake used at his gym, just a lot of free weights and pulleys that Jake didn?t even recognise. The floor was covered in the thin blue mats that Jake remembered from his PE lessons. But he didn?t remember there being as many stained patches as there were covering these mats. In the corner of the space was the most impressive part of the scene. Jake felt the hairs stand up on his arms a little as he brushed his hands across the blue canvas of the first genuine wrestling ring he had ever touched. He pulled on the ropes and was surprised by the tension he felt. He wanted to jump straight in the ring and run around like a chicken with its head cut off but he knew he had to play it cool. Although he was bursting with excitement inside, he shrugged it off and stared at the squared circle.
?Alright, enough of the chit chat? shouted the still nameless boss. ?Get your gear on and everyone on the mats. Jason lead them through some stretches and I?ll be down in a minute.?
With that Jake was thrown into his first day of training as a professional wrestler. No fanfare, no pomp and circumstance, just a bunch of guys groaning as they spread out on some dirty old mats. Jake removed his sweater and changed into his gym shoes. He was already sweating and he hadn?t even done anything yet! But he was about to embark on a journey that would take him farther than he ever could have imagined. He had come to this dirty old building with a need to belong; to find somewhere he could fit in and make something of himself. And he was about to enter a brotherhood, a special fraternity, that he would never leave again.
Jake could feel the vomit rising in the back of his throat. The harsh acidic sting made his eyes water and he fought as hard as he could to not bring up the meagre breakfast he had eaten that morning. As he sat on the side of the dirty old wrestling mats Jake wondered to himself why he had never felt this way when he worked out at the gym and he prayed that it was time for a break.
For the past hour Jake had done stretches that he had never even heard of before; stretching muscles he didn?t even know he had! Jake thought he?d worked up a pretty strong neck in all of his years at the gym but after five or six different types of neck exercises he realised he hadn?t. He had also never done so many sit-ups, push ups and squats in a single session. The squats alone were their own workout. Jake was aching all over and he hadn?t even made it into the ring yet. He looked around and surveyed the scene. Most of the trainees were laughing and joking around having barely broken a sweat. There were a couple of what you might conservatively call ?fat?, but liberally would call ?obese?, wrestlers gasping for air on the floor. Their in ring work probably only amounted to sitting on people but Jake was impressed that they had attempted the workout. And then there was Jake. A self professed gym nut and fitness freak, kneeling over on the floor choking back his own puke. Twenty bucks well spent.
Just as Jake was starting to regain the feeling in most of his body, the gruff older wrestler called them all into the ring. Any hope Jake had of a break wafted out the window along with the sweet smell of sweat. For most of his life Jake had wondered what it would be like to step inside the squared circle and now that he had done it, the mystery was gone. It wasn?t as bouncy as he had imagined; it actually felt quite rigid and wooden. This worried Jake and his already throbbing neck. Jake leaned back against the ropes, running into them a little to feel them move. But faced with his modest frame they barely budged. This was all turning out to be a lot more worrying then Jake had hoped.
The gruff older wrestler (who Jake had overheard being called Crusher) led the group through what he called ?the most important part of wrestling?, bumps. This literally meant learning how to fall properly. An especially chiselled guy who didn?t look that much older than Jake led them through all the different types of bumps. Back bump from standing, back bump losing your feet, front bump and side bumps. In turns the regulars came to the centre, demonstrated all the bumps and retreated to a round of back slaps and praise. When one of the larger wrestlers messed up his front bump and landed crotch first onto the unforgiving mat, the group burst into fits of laughter and chanting. This didn?t help to ease Jake’s nerves any. Now it was his turn. He walked to the middle of the ring, heart pounding, and took his place. He tried to remember everything the Crusher had said while the bumps were being demonstrated. He ran it through his brain ?Knees bent, palms out, tuck your chin.? Not wanting to seem hesitant he thrust himself back onto the mat. The stars and little white dots came instantly and the reaction from the crowd soon followed.
?Don?t forget to tuck your chin kid or you?ll knock yourself out before anyone else gets the chance to!? shouted the Crusher from his perch on the corner turnbuckle.
Jake shook it off and completed the rest of his bumps. When he finished the crowd gave him a little round of applause. It may have been for his valiant attempt at the bumps or it may have been for not knocking himself unconscious but either way it made Jake smile to himself a little.
They ran though the bumps a few more times (Jake managed to tuck his chin in extra tight this time) and they then moved on to learning the ropes; literally. Jake watched as two of the trainees demonstrated the speed with which they could hit the ropes and also the timing that was required to not crash into each other in the middle. As they criss-crossed each other from one side of the ring to the next Jake remembered how little the ropes moved when he hit them and knew he would have to give it all he had. The Crusher motioned for Jake to step up. His counterpart in the exercise was around the same height but probably had thirty pounds on Jake. They hit the ropes and Jake ran as fast as he could to the other side. His back stung each time it hit the thinly protected steel wires.
?Faster!? the Crusher growled at Jake and his partner; a sly grin on his face.
But Jake misjudged his speed and ran straight into the shoulder of his rather large partner. It felt as if he?d hit a brick wall and he bounced off like a rag doll, hitting the mat in a heap. The beefy wrestler stretched out his hand to Jake.
?You alright man??
?Yeah, I?ll be fine.?
Jake grabbed the wrestler’s hand and hopped to his feet. The impact had taken his breath away and, as he tried to gain it back, he was relieved to hear that it was time for a break. As most of the trainees disappeared to get a bite to eat, Jake sat down to his packed lunch and quietly munched on a sandwich alone. The pain in his neck had subsided but in its place was the pain in his chest from running into his partner at top speed. But Jake was enjoying himself. He hadn?t learned anyone’s name yet and he was a long way from making friends but he was excited about all the possibilities ahead of him.
After lunch the Crusher ran them through some basic moves. The older more experienced trainees groaned but he insisted that remembering the basics was the key to any good wrestler. They ran through a collar and elbow tie up and some basic chain moves. The Crusher seemed pleased with how quickly Jake picked these up. Finally they worked on clotheslines which aggravated Jakes already throbbing shoulder and ribs. He fought through the pain and made it to the end of the session. Jake felt as if he?d finished a marathon. Like he?d climbed a mountain or finished a big game. In reality he?d made it through a simple day of training that he would repeat all over again the next week.
As Jake changed his shoes and put on his coat his partner from the rope running exercise approached him and stuck out his hand.
?You always shake hands at the end of training or matches. It’s a tradition.?
Jake grabbed his hand and tried to muster the manliest handshake he could. Truth be told, his partner’s grip was like a vice and left Jake’s hand throbbing almost as much as the rest of his body.
?I?m Steve by the way. Good work out there.?
?Thanks. I?m Jake.?
?You?ll be back next week right Jake??
?Cool. See you around.?
With that Steve lumbered his way off to his waiting buddies. They laughed and shook hands the whole way out of the building. Jake got to his feet as he noticed the Crusher approaching him. His hand was outstretched too.
?Twenty bucks kid.?
Jake riffled through his wallet and placed a crisp new twenty dollar bill into the Crusher’s waiting palm.
?Thanks.? the Crusher said as he shook Jake’s hand in return. If Jake had thought Steve’s grip had been strong it was nothing compared to the arm wrenching shake he got from the Crusher.
?You can pay up front for the whole month next week and it?ll only be fifteen bucks a week.?
?The name’s Chris. I haven?t been the Crusher for years. Good work out there. Keep that chin tucked in.?
The Crusher/Chris waved back at Jake as he walked away. Jake noticed how he limped to the left as he walked and how he winced as he climbed the couple of stairs into his office. Years of ring action had obviously taken their toll on the Crusher’s joints and left him battered. Jake began to walk out of the building and realized that he too was limping. One day of training and he had the same affected walk of a ring veteran; not something Jake wanted anyone else to notice.
Jake turned down the street and headed for his bus stop. His head was spinning and it wasn?t from the incredible knock it had taken on the ring. Jake felt so proud inside that he could barely contain himself. He had been unsure about his ability when he’s started out the day but he had made it through it and couldn?t wait for next weekend. Tomorrow he would get up and go to his mundane job in a department store. Selling electronics to the nameless masses that passed through every day. But come next Saturday he would once again jump into the ring and learn the skills he needed to be a professional wrestler. And hopefully along the way he would find the sense of belonging and purpose he had been searching for.
After a gruelling first day of training Jake had relaxed at home with a bowl of popcorn and an old tape of one of his favourite wrestling pay-per-views. It was just like old times. Jake settled in for an early night and was amazed at how he didn?t feel at all sore. His body had been stretched and extended in ways he didn?t know possible a mere handful of hours earlier but as he lay his head on his pillow he felt fine. Sure he ached a bit and his neck was a bit stiff, but that was natural. He felt confident in his ability and that this wrestling thing wasn?t going to be as tough as he had imagined. The next morning was going to be a different story though!
Jake’s alarm came to life and the room was filled with the sound of Fleetwood Mac on the radio. Jake stretched and sprang from his bed to get ready for work. That is to say he attempted to spring from his bed. No sooner had he thrown back the sheets than the pain began to shoot up his calves all the way to the back of his neck. It wasn?t a deathly pain; rather it was as if his body was one giant Charlie horse. He dropped his feet to the floor and his legs felt like weights on the end of a fishing line. He actually had to propel himself out of bed like an old man. The accompanying groan was quite old man-like as well. He shuffled the short distance to the bathroom to complete the comedy of undressing and stepping into the shower. Jake had overdone it at the gym before but this felt like he had completed a triathlon forwards and backwards. He strained to reach up and shampoo his hair and as he pulled back the shower curtain he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His shoulder and chest were black and puffy from where his partner had run into him in the rope running exercise. Jake touched it and winced at the tender pain. He turned around to see the long purple marks criss-crossing across his back. He had felt the sting of the thinly protected ropes but hadn?t realised the extent of that sting. Jake was relieved that all of this would be covered by his shirt. Then he noticed his neck. He guessed it had been from the overzealous collar and elbow tie-ups he had encountered. A large black semi circle had formed all the way around the left hand side of his neck. His shirt would have to have a heck of a collar to hide that one.
Jake slowly but surely made his way downstairs and bid a hasty retreat to his car, skipping breakfast, so that he didn?t bump into his mother and have to explain his battered body. Still living at home was bad enough as it is without getting the third degree from his mother. Jake knew she worried too much but he also knew that it was because she had to raise him all on her own and that he was all she had; so he didn?t let it bother him too much. Luckily the drive to work didn?t require too many left hand turns because a mere sideways glance was all that Jake could muster. It was going to be a long day.
Jake parked out back and headed to the front of Electronics Emporium. He still sighed every time he looked at the ridiculously bright neon sign hanging above the door. It acted like a beacon for the eight hours of monotony he faced every working day. Jake wanted to do more with his life, but this would have to do until he became the next world’s heavyweight champion. He tried to stand as straight as he could and walk with as little a limp as possible as he made his way to the staff room. He realized that he probably looked like he had just soiled himself and this made him laugh a little. Only a little though because it really hurt!
The customers came and went and Jake made a passable effort at being courteous and interested; all the while counting the hours until he could safely have another dose of over the counter painkillers. Everything was going fine until he noticed his manager eyeing him up from across the room. Brad was only a couple of years older than Jake but always spoke down to him like he was a naughty child. The whole time Jake had been in the ring the day before a little part of him relished picturing Brad’s head on his opponents. Most days Jake had to fight off the urge to body slam him and give him a flying elbow drop from the top of the TV display.
There was that tone again. Weasely faced little…
?Hey Brad, how’s it goin??
?Better than you obviously! What did you do, lie in front of a bus??
Jake clenched his teeth and suppressed the urge to deliver a clothesline there and then. ?Uh nothing. Just a bit sore from training.?
?Training? For what? Fight Club??
Brad laughed at his joke. Jake didn?t. He did manage a smile though and that hurt just as much as his sore muscles.
?Actually I went downtown yesterday and started taking some wrestling training.?
?No….professional? Jake said as he tensed up and waited for the reaction.
?What? Spandex and baby oil? Guys in their underwear? That kind of wrestling??
?Yes Brad that’s exactly it.? Jake was now playing out the whole match in his head. Headlock, clothesline, leg drop, frog splash. It would be amazing.
?You crack me up….brother! Go lay the smack down on some plasma TV sales for me will ya!?
With that Brad was gone. Chuckling to himself and looking for anyone to inform of his new found information. Jake relaxed a bit and headed to the TV aisle. Brad was a first class jerk, that was common knowledge but Jake had been dealing with that kind of response for years. Any time someone found out that he was a fan of wrestling he got the same reaction. The laughs, the jokes, the shocking revelation that ?It’s all fake you know!? He?d heard it all before and brushed it off each time. Jake saw wrestling for what it was; a modern day soap opera for men. Yes they were men in spandex and baby oil but that was beside the point. Wrestling had helped him through some hard times and he wasn?t about to let some pencil neck geek of a retail manager get to him over it.
With his shift over and his muscles a little less tense (but not much) Jake made his way home. His Mother’s reaction was as expected and Jake’s assertions that it would only get better seemed to do little to calm her down. But she relented and Jake headed off to his room. Jake thought about how glad he was that this day was over as he eased himself down onto his bed. And as he fell asleep in his work clothes, shoes still on his feet, Jake began to dream about wrestling. It may have been a dream about Brad’s in ring demise or it may not. Regardless, Jake was dreaming about wrestling. And he couldn?t wait until next Saturday to again try his hardest to make his dreams become a reality.
Jake had been training for six months. It seemed like only yesterday that he had so nervously waited on the street outside Deluzio’s Gym; unsure of what might happen and what he was actually capable of, doubting his ability and regretting making the trip the whole way down there. But that was the past and in the present Jake was confidently becoming a model trainee. He never missed a session and even attended the bonus sessions one night a week. These were mainly reserved for the most senior members of the company but The Crusher had extended the invitation to Jake very early on and he jumped at the chance to train more and fit in as ?one of the boys?.
Wrestling was definitely a fraternity, as Jake had very quickly found out. A world of handshakes and practical jokes called ?ribs?. Jake was yet to be the brunt of a rib but in a masochistic sort of way he couldn?t wait for his turn. Shoelaces tied together, clothes disappearing while you?re in the shower, shaving cream in your boots, anything that meant Jake was a little closer to the boys was fine by him.
And he had gotten pretty close with one of the boys. Steve, his partner from his first rope running exercise who had nearly plowed straight through him, had taken an interest in Jake and took it upon himself to help to initiate him into this sacred brotherhood. He introduced him to the rest of the boys and sang his praises to whoever would listen. Jake had never had a brother but in a way, which he kept to himself for fear of sounding creepy, Steve was starting to feel like one. Steve would take Jake aside when he had trouble with a move and work through it with him till he got it right. But he would get it right. Jake appreciated this and tried his hardest to not let Steve down in practices. He also tried to impress the Crusher; he was the boss after all. But the Crusher was another story. The most emotion he ever showed was when the bills were too high and he had to plead with the bank to give him a little extra time. Besides that he was all business. One time in practice, after Jake had executed a perfect hip toss, The Crusher gave an immediate ?Good job kid!? This was all the praise Jake needed and he strived to take that hip toss the same way each time.
Apart from the personal and emotional gains Jake was making, his wrestling was getting better and better with each passing training session. After the initial basics (working the ropes, tieing up, taking bumps) Jake had progressed fast onto learning the moves that would shape any match he would ever be in. The first time he took a body slam he winded himself and his kidneys stung for a few days. But now he could take one and hop up to his feet in the same breath. Jake had always been a fan of the technical wrestlers and was naturally drawn to the different types of suplexes; vertical, German, fisherman’s, belly to belly, he learned them all. And he wasn?t afraid to take them either. Jake felt there was something exhilarating about letting go and trusting someone enough to let them raise you over their head and bring you safely crashing down to the mat below. Steve had started to teach Jake the finer points of chain wrestling. Steve was a big fan of the British style and Jake was amazed at how quickly he could move through a set of moves without breaking a sweat. It was like a dance without a leader and Jake was learning his steps in time.
The aspect that intrigued Jake the most was the psychology of a match; how to tell a story. This didn?t mean sitting around and writing out a story but putting together a sequence of moves that would elicit an emotion from the audience; take them along for the ride. Most fans knew that wrestling was ?fake? and that the outcomes were predetermined but what they didn?t know was the lengths the wrestlers went to get that outcome. Jake listened in as guys discussed their upcoming matches and built their stories. Who would take the lead and call it and who would take the beat down and make the big comeback. They would craft a lot of the bigger spots and the finish but Jake was amazed by how little they planned. He had imagined a vast script to memorize and cue cards to learn. What it boiled down to was calling it on the fly. Knowing your moves and your partner well enough to feed off the crowd and give them what they want. Jake knew that even the greatest Oscar award winning actor couldn?t pull off a performance like these guys did every time they stepped between the ropes and into the squared circle.
As much as he enjoyed it, training had not been a walk in the park for Jake. He still ached after every session and stocked up on industrial strength muscle rub. Some weeks he hurt all over and others it targeted one body part and lingered until the next time he stretched it out. There were bruises, scratches and a little blood. One time he mistimed a move and ended up cracking his head against the head of one of the greener trainees. For the first time in his life Jake actually saw stars. The other guy was very apologetic and Jake shrugged it off as an occupational hazard. But he did think twice before taking a head butt from that guy again! Another time Jake was practicing a simple snap mare take over. This is when your opponent flips you from behind him, over his shoulder and onto the mat in front of him. Sounds easy enough. But the first time Jake took one he didn?t launch himself far enough or flip his body over enough. So all he did was come over the guys shoulder and go straight down onto the top of his head. Jake didn?t see stars this time. As he stood up and reached out for the ropes for support, he watched his own arm rise up and complete this simple task. It was if everything was in slow motion and Jake was watching from outside himself. He shrugged it off but as he walked to the bus stop and stopped to puke up all of his Gatorade, Jake wondered if it had been a concussion. He ruled this out himself, wiped his mouth and continued on his merry way.
So with all of this training behind him, and a firm belief in his improvement and ability, Jake wondered when he would get a chance to step into the ring for an actual match. He was realistic and understood that most guys did a year of training before they ever saw any in ring action. He bided his time and did his best to not seem cocky or over eager. But secretly inside he just wanted to hear the crowd and at least one person chanting his name.
After most training sessions the Crusher would keep his headliners in the ring to discuss the upcoming matches. As the booker he would decide who would fight who, when it would come on the card and who would be winning or ?going over?. Jake listened from a distance as he changed into his street clothes. He was just about to head out the door when the Crusher called after him.
?Hey kid! You free Friday night??
Stay calm Jake, just answer him he thought as he tried to muster a response.
?Yeah, sure. What do you need??
?Well we?re short a ref and we?d need you to do a couple of the matches. It pays ten bucks and you can have a free ticket for a friend.?
?Sure thing Chris. I?ll do it.?
?Get there at 6. Opening bell is at 7:30 so that gives us plenty of time to go through the spots with you. You know where the rec centre is??
?Yeah, it’s right by my house.?
?Alright then. See you then.?
?See you then.?
With that Jake headed outside and down the street. He ran over the brief conversation in his head and realised what had just happened. He was going to be a part of his first wrestling card! Sure it was going to be as a zebra, but he was nevertheless going to be in the ring in front of a crowd of up to (let’s be realistic) 75 screaming fans! Would he know how to ref? It was after all just counting and smacking your hand down on the mat. How hard could it be? Jake knew that this was the first step in his career as a wrestler and that he could only move forward from here. But above all else he realised that he was passionate about something. For the first time in a long while he had a reason to be excited about his life and that reason would be played out that Friday night, in a wrestling ring.