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 firstname.lastname@example.org and would always love to hear any comments, questions, or requests you might have. Happy reading!
Jake lay on the lumpy mattress staring at the lumpy ceiling. The pink floral print sheets had a definite aroma about them as did the rest of the room. Jake craned his neck upwards and took inventory of the room; worn down desk, shadeless standing lamp, a three-legged chair and a television that was chained down tighter than Fort Knox. And in the bed next to Jake, snoring away as usual, was his new travel partner Mike ?The Machine? Mahoney.
UCW gave its wrestlers a tiny travel allowance so it was common practice to buddy up with a travel partner. This way you could share the driving as well as all of the costs incurred along the way. Mike and Jake were both newcomers in UCW and as such were paid a fair but obviously entry-level wage. This is why out of necessity they ended up in lovely establishments like this one; Barry’s Budget Hot. It was actually ?hotel? despite what the damaged sign said. For the most part Jake enjoyed travelling with Mike. They discussed and endlessly critiqued each other’s matches and solved all the problems in the industry on their long drives. Jake enjoyed the camaraderie and good humour but did not enjoy the snoring, belching or farting. Three things that Mike liked to do at random points in the day?or at the same time! Jake was both disgusted and impressed by this little gem.
Mike’s bodily functions aside, Jake was learning to love life on the road. He enjoyed meeting up with the boys in a diner on the highway or in the next town. He enjoyed going for drinks in random bars and the strange looks they would get from the locals. The more brazen of the group would always end up in some form of strongman competition with these grizzled truckers and steelworkers while Jake and the others laughed and egged them on. And he loved working a different crowd in a different arena almost every night. He had been used to having a following at home and performing in the same couple of venues each time. But getting over with a crowd that knew nothing about you was a challenge that Jake was always up for. You had to work that little bit harder, sell a little more and amaze them in new ways each night. To his credit Jake didn?t have trouble getting over with any crowd; especially the women.
Ring rats were a way of life on the road. There were guys on the roster that would pull into a new town, open their little black books and be on a date before, and after, their match. A couple of the guys even had children that their wives and partners back home didn?t know about. This wasn?t a part of the business that you learn about in training or that a lot of the guys were proud of. It was more of an occupational hazard. The monotony and loneliness of the road proved to be too much for some guys. Jake was hoping that he wouldn?t become one of them.
Considering how he had met Alana Jake was quick to leave the arenas and avoid the rats. His relationship was so new and special to him that he didn?t want to slip up and let a momentary lapse of judgement ruin it all. But the rats were persistent. They didn?t just hang out at the arenas afterwards. They could be seen at the local bars hanging off the arms of the wrestlers or standing outside hotel rooms, barefoot and ready. Jake had never had it so easy. Mike harassed him each night about how if it were under different circumstances Jake would be like a kid in a candy store and that he didn?t know what he was missing; this coming from the guy who was in bed early every night, alone.
One night Jake let himself go a little more than usual. It was after an especially gruelling match with a mat technician by the name of The Scorpion. He had stretched Jake and thrown him around like a rag doll. Jake enjoyed these contests where he got to use his aerial skills sparsely and focus on a ground match. The near sell out crowd hung on their every move and when Jake played possum and rolled up The Scorpion for the finish the crowd went wild. Got ?em. Afterwards Jake was sore from the stretching and needed a beer to relax. He did take a few muscle relaxants to go with it as had become common place. Nothing major but life on the road left Jake a little stiff. It was merely a little release from the tension; or so he told himself. As he stood chatting with a couple of the boys Jake noticed a young girl eyeing him up from across the bar. She certainly didn?t look 21 to Jake but she looked intent on getting his attention. He smiled and she made her move.
?You were amazing! Your match was the best of the night!? she half whispered as she coyly played with her hair.
?Thanks? Jake half responded as he sipped his beer. Mike nudged and gave him a knowing look. Jake ignored this.
?I know it’s kinda late but a few of my friends were going to this party and we wanted to know if you?d come along?
Jake thought about it for half a second too long and replied ?No thanks. I appreciate the offer but I?m pretty beat and we?ve got another match here tomorrow.?
She looked deflated as she leaned into Jake and put her hands on his chest. ?Please?
Mike couldn?t take it anymore ?Come on Jake. The girl said please.?
Jake gave him a glare. ?Look, you are a very pretty girl but…..?
?I?m pretty am I? she said as she leaned in and kissed Jake. He didn?t pull back. Mike cheered as Jake continued to kiss the girl. She then took Jake by the hand and started to lead him out of the bar. The crowd of wrestlers at the bar cheered as they exited.
They were making their way to the girl’s car when all of a sudden something started to vibrate in Jake’s pocket. He took out his cell phone and saw that it was Alana.
?It’s my girlfriend. I?ve got to take this. You have a good night.?
?Fine, it’s your loss.?
With that she was gone and Jake had a long conversation with Alana as he headed home to his dingy motel room. Jake had heard of the saying saved by the bell but had never actually encountered it till now. He finished his conversation with Alana, told her that he loved her, and headed to bed. His head was spinning. It wasn?t from alcohol, or the rush of the amazing match he had just had, it was from a single kiss; a forbidden kiss. Jake felt guilty and vowed that it would never happen again but a part of him had enjoyed that kiss. The desire of a woman, the power of his persona in the ring, the power of his appeal outside of the ring, all of these things whizzed through Jake’s head as he smiled and fell asleep.