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 instalments, 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 hadn?t known what to expect when he won the Junior Heavyweight Championship. He knew that things wouldn?t get any easier and it wasn?t a pass to rest on his laurels. He knew that he didn?t magically get his own dressing room or the ability to travel on his own. A championship depended on how hard you worked and how much money you could draw while champion. Jake knew all of this. But what he didn?t know was that the gruelling schedule that he had been working on the road for the past few months was nothing in comparison to the schedule of a champion!
Jake used to get at least one night a week off and sometimes even a Saturday or Sunday if there was no show until the Monday night in the next town. As champion though, he was on every card. He worked with some guys for a week or so and other guys for just one match. He would wrestle against new, local talent and grizzled veterans. But no matter who he was wrestling it was their job to make the champ look good, believable. Some guys did this begrudgingly and mumbled under their breath as they were given the finish by the champ. Jake had always been an accommodating opponent and always worried about how the match looked for the fans and not about how he looked in the spotlight. As champion though he had to put that to the side a little and focus on his image and drawing as much business as possible.
He was no Hulk Hogan but Jake knew that he was serving the company well. Gates were up and fans blogged about his matches as soon as they got home. His merchandise was selling well and it was not unusual to look out upon the crowd and to see a wave of Rocket Kid t-shirts spreading across the arena. Jake took a pretty good percentage of his merchandise sales and the promoter was good about reimbursing the guys promptly. Jake was making money and he was over with the fans. Life was good. But there were two problems; missing Alana and not being able to miss the steroids.
Life on the road never made it easy for a guy to keep up his physique. Trips to the gym were infrequent at best. With his extra workload as champion Jake had literally no time for the gym. He was working up to three shows a day (a run at a state fair got him up to his record of six matches in a single day!) so time for pumping iron was almost nil. But as champion Jake was expected to portray an image, to be marketable and appealing to all the fans; so steroid use had become a catch 22 for Jake. To be a champion you had to look like one but by being champion there was no way to naturally find time for it. And it wasn?t cheap. Luckily Jake’s merchandise money and extra cut of the gate for being champion afforded him all the pharmaceuticals he required. Every time he stuck that needle into his skin though he hated himself a bit more. He hated what he was doing to his body and the fact that he could never tell Alana. Alana!
Jake was trying his hardest to keep his relationship alive. He tried to call Alana every night but a lot of times the small towns he wrestled in had little to know cell reception and after a hard day’s work the last thing he wanted to do was traipse around trying to find a payphone. He was guilty of ignoring Alana and hated it. He paid for her bus tickets out and even a few plane tickets when he was working further into the next state. But a lot of the time these visits were no more than a booty call and Alana knew it. As they lay in bed on this latest visit she addressed this fact with Jake.
?Jakey, what are we doing here??
?Trying to sleep? he replied in a half joking, half serious tone.
?No really, I mean it. We?ve been together for almost a year now and here we are in another crappy motel room. I love you, you know that, but I don?t love this.?
Jake propped up on his elbows and looked at his beautiful, enchanting girlfriend. He kissed her on the forehead and brushed the hair away from her face. ?I know this isn?t ideal but it won?t be like this forever. I?m champion now and moving up the company. I just need to get on TV a bit more and hopefully I?ll get a tryout for one of the bigger promotions.?
?And then you?ll travel even more.?
?For a while yes but then we can settle down. I?ll have made enough money for a house of our own. Then you won?t have to spend all your free time with my Mom while I?m away.?
?Amen to that!?
?Let’s just play this part of our lives out until we get to the next part. You….I….?
Jake paused for a moment. He didn?t know what he was going to say next. But as he looked into the eyes of the woman he loved he knew what he needed to say.
?Alana, will you…?
She cut him off, pressing one of her fingers against his lips. ?Not now Jakey. Please. Let’s save it for a motel just a little bit nicer than this one.?
They both laughed and collapsed into each other’s arms. They lay there naked for awhile until they fell asleep holding each other. Jake had seen how she had looked at the bruises on his buttocks and knew that she was growing wise to his steroid use. But she hadn?t said anything so Jake left it alone, for now. It had been a great night and Jake was feeling good about life. His role as champion hadn?t cost him too much to date. His girlfriend still loved him as much as ever and he was making headway in his career. Life WAS good. But twenty four hours later Jake’s feelings would all change. As he would wake up strapped to a gurney, trying to wiggle his toes and wondering why the hell he had ever gotten into the world of professional wrestling.