And Another Thing: The Road
Posted by Hyatte on 01.01.2000
The toughest addiction for a wrestler to kick doesn’t always come from a bottle.
This was Al Isaacs’ favorite of the bunch. It’s also the one that blew people’s minds about me. Until this, everyone just pegged me as the juvenile, idiotic Mop-Up guy. After reading this, people who hated me had no clue what to make of me... and the people who liked me felt better about it.
You should know that this story, told in a fictional light, centers around an actual Pay Per View called “Heroes in Wrestling”--one of the saddest exhibitions ever put on television.
It was also designed to be the first part of a “Road” trilogy (The second appears somewhere in these archives). As for the third? Well, I guess should write something, and I definitely have an idea in mind. I’ll let demand dictate actual supply.
I like this story, although the last two lines are a bit on the cheesy side.
(originally presented in October, 1999: Scoops)
The following story is rooted in pure truth. Liberties have been taken with the details. I hope the party involved will understand if my accuracy is off.
He's driving down the long highway. He's been on a million of them back in the "day". Occasionally, whenever a pothole sneaks it's way under a wheel his knee would throb a dull stab of something that's not quite pain . Occasionally, he'll catch himself looking in the mirror, looking at the hair that went away. Looking at the face that has registered every inch of those miles traveled.
That "day" was a long time ago.
He doesn't do this anymore. He doesn't even need to. He's got his own thing now. Away from wrestling, away from the road. He owns a gym now. A few short miles from his home. He used to preach too. Maybe he still does? It hardly matters. Because once in a great while, the road calls him to take another trip. Once in a while, he answers the call.
He agreed to be a Hero for one more night. He agreed to this months ago. Although he's been known to break his word every so often, he wasn't about to break this one. Even when his wife got sick and he had to drop her off at a Charlotte Emergency room, then speed down to Mississippi for the card. He did so with little regret. She would be all right, she HAD to be. She gave him her blessing to leave. She knew that look in his eye.
As sick as she was, she knew that he had to see if he could still cut it. If he could still work a match.
He was a great one back in the day. Not the biggest. Not the strongest. Not the fastest. Not even the smartest.
But he was the sneakiest. The craftiest. Give him a mic, and he'll force you to respond. That was his gift. That was his talent. He made you hate him. He made you want to see him get killed. By God, he exploited it to it's fullest. The bonus was, nothing is black and white, not everyone wanted the Dream beat him within an inch of his life. There were those who cheered his every devious move. There were those who loved his evil ways. He liked those folks very much.
He had friends, and enemies. In this business where everything usually changes every ten years or so, except for the egos, he was proud to say that when his back was to the wall, he had four or five solid friends who would take the bullet for him. Knowing full well that he would do the same for them without hesitation. He would too.
Push him on it and he'll tell you about the time him and his best friend made it to the MAJORS. Ran with the steel, yet oddly comfortable hand of a single family. His time in the show lasted around a year. It also was his last year in the business. Perhaps his best year. Because he got to stay himself. The Family had a habit of handing out dumb gimmicks to established talent, but he got to stay who he was. Sneaky, crafty, and a sheer terror in the stick. Life was good.
Too good in fact. Life imitated art as he got used to the Limousines, the women, the liquor, the cocaine. The good times are only good in limited doses. Nobody survives going at it full time. Nobody.
The road never ends. It's up to you to get off and settle down when the time was right. He had to stop because it was killing him. No, not the business, he was smart enough to play the game, but the lifestyle. He had to stop. He remembered his friend from way back in the Southwest, Gino Hernandez. Gino lived much like he did, but Gino didn't make it. Changes had to be made before he fell apart too. Changes that included finding an off ramp and getting off the Road. For good.
He did just that. He got off the road. He settled down. Had a family. Used whatever money he had left and got going with his new life. A life OFF the road. It took him as far as he could handle. Time for someone else to take it on. Time to stop moving.
Still, he didn't complain. He had a great run. Was a member of one of the finest tag teams the sport has ever produced. Held one particular title longer than almost anyone. Held a LOT of titles in fact. He never won a World title, but he never HAD to. He got along just well without one. You see, back in the day the World title went to the one with the sizzle, with the pop, with the Flair. It went to the one who was guaranteed to fill an arena on his presence alone. To "put butts in the seats" as one once coined. As good as he was, he could never be accused of being able to put butts in the seats all by his lonesome. He knew his limitations, he knew where he excelled. Second from the top, the appetizer before the main course. Cut a promo, work the mic, be a Heel and soak in the heat. He'll trade wins with Dusty, or Magnum, or Nikita all year long. It's all about the show, it's all about the heat
Still, it was early for him. He still had some years left. His ears were strong enough to hear the road calling. Mostly, he could ignore it.
It's not the first time he got back on the road. It was just the latest. The road was not his enemy; it was his friend. An old buddy who always welcomed him back. "Where to my friend?" No problem! Just relax and enjoy all the sites I'll show you!" He's in control this time. No pressure. He's gonna have fun.
If only his knee would stop twinging.
He arrived at the site where Heroes will gather. He's set to work against and old ally. A fellow vet who knows only too well the lure of excess. They planned out their match and even worked out a nicely booked set up. It'll be nice to revisit the life. It'll be nice to remind the fans that it doesn't take bulging muscles and lightening speed to keep them interested. Time for a little Old School to take everyone back to the Day.
The set up went along smoothly. A guy he hardly knew stuck a mic in his face. He stumbled a bit, the thoughts not moving from his mind to his mouth as effortlessly as it used to. He had a script, but he only glanced at it. Maybe that was a mistake? Maybe he's been away for too long? For a moment, he felt old.
Then it happened. Almost a snap. Like a muscle that hasn't been used in quite some time, but was still coiled, was still ready.
The words flowed out like it was ten years ago. Effortlessly. Smoothly. I told you he was the best.
He finished up and was greeted with a round of applause. Someone yelled, "That's how you cut a promo, Dammit!" It WAS ten years ago!
He geared up into his tights. Like the road, they were old friends. Unlike the road, they slept until called upon to go at it one more time. The tights never called out to him. He never even thinks of them anymore. They fit perfectly. He always had a good body, genetics can be thanked, owning a gym doesn't hurt either.
He walked down the aisle feeling like a 21 year old again. Cheers and boos were tangled in an odd sort of way. The folks weren't sure how to react. It HAS been a while. Maybe they forgot about him? Maybe they didn't care anymore?
The match went well at first. The sweat seemed to flow a bit easier, not to mention sooner. The breathing was good, but occasionally, the muscles softly moaned in fatigue. His opponent was in slightly better shape, but he's out of condition too. Conditioning for a wrestler is much different than for any other athlete; especially when the audience has a habit of breathing and sucking the oxygen right out of the ring. The hot lights didn't help much either. They agreed early on to use rest holds. Logic being, rest holds were Old School through and through; and of course, this was an old school match. He needed every single rest hold tonight. Thank God for rest holds. How the Hell do these kids survive without rest holds?
That knee gave out. That damned knee had to remind him that while he felt 21, he wasn't 21 anymore. Not even close.
He pulled off the worked finish with all the strength he had left in his old body. Making several pacts with his knee just to hang on a few seconds longer. The knee argued, but reluctantly agreed.
He limped to the dressing room and grabbed the nearest ice pack. There was one more job to do. One more promise he had to keep. He had to give a few minutes of his time towards an Internet Chat session. The Fans asked their questions. They seemed polite, genuine, and happy to hear from him, yet they also seemed a little distant. They asked about his old friends, what he's been up to, what he thinks about the Rock, Stone Cold, Goldberg, backstage stuff that he never DREAMED they would have insight on. This business has changed.
Or perhaps the business never changed? Rather, it just passed him by?
The knee greedily soaked in the ice pack. The Web Master who ran the "Chat" seemed genuinely concerned when he asked how the knee was doing. He answered his question with two simply words.
That was all he needed to say.
He was back on the road now. Heading home to his wife, to his business, to his new/old life. The knee is feeling better, but not much. It will still be a while before he can do a Squat, or hit the Treadmill. He's sure that some of his friends from back in the day will call him and ask how he was doing. If in the right mood, he may even pick up the phone and answer them.
Or maybe not. Why revisit the past, when he has no future in it anymore?
The Road is quiet on the way back, which somehow makes the trip seem longer. The Road won't call out to him for a while anymore...for a long while. It knows better. As his headlights cut through the thick Southern night, he has time to think about things. Think about depressing things. Such as the REAL reason he agreed to be a Hero for one more night.
For you see, it wasn't because of the call of the Road. He learned to ignore it a long time ago. I already told you, he made his decision to get off it, and whether he liked it or not, it was the wisest decision he could make.
He agreed to be a Hero because as time goes on, his deepest fear grows stronger and stronger. In a new Era filled with Rattlesnakes, Juggernaughts, Lionhearts, Bulls, Outsiders, and Filthy Animals, will anyone remember an Old School Heel who looks like your next door neighbor, but could take out anyone, at anytime simply by outfoxing them?
Will anyone remember the guy who knew how to piss you off in 30 seconds on the Mic?
Will anyone remember a member of the Finest Elite Stable the 80's had ever produced?
Will anyone remember a Fallen Horseman?
Will anyone remember Tully Blanchard?
Or even worse, will anyone care?
The car headed North to Charlotte. The Road acted as any old friend would, it left him alone.
This is Hyatte
I remember Tully Blanchard.
And I care.