Stepping between the ropes.
Last chapter, I had broken the initial barrier to get my foot into the wrestling business by becoming the cameraman on some “local” shows. It had been some time since the Wildman had run, so I had been out of touch with Randy and a few of the other guys that I had met. All of a sudden, a call came from out of the blue and I was “needed” to film a training session. I thought that was odd, but wasn’t going to pass on the chance to get my foot in the door a little more.
I made the hour or so drive up to Independence, pulling into a driveway of a normal neighborhood residence. At first I was skeptical, as I wasn’t sure I was at the right place. (Remember, this is still 1999, the age of Yahoo! maps!) I had decided that I might be at the right place by the amount of cars parked, and then out of the corner of my peripheral vision, the snaggle-toothed trucker-like man I had first met at the Pizza Hut, had walked around one of the cars. I had bumped into him in passing a few times at the other shows, but never really spoke with him until now.
Enter Dennis: a kind-hearted dick, with a brutal sense of humor that wasn’t funny. I have to be tough on Dennis; he was a friend and at times a foe. The guy was entertainingly peculiar, from his looks to his actions. He stood a few inches shorter than me, around 6 feet tall, and probably weighed about 150 pounds! If I had to guess, I’d say his skeleton was constructed of pipe cleaners, due to his wiry frame. The peculiarity didn’t stop there. For some reason, I could never guess Dennis’ age. He had a face only a mother could love, with freckles everywhere, he was missing most of his teeth (those left were rotten) and he was a chain smoker. As was protocol for this group, Dennis also sported a ponytail. I wish I could say he was the definition of white trash, but he drove a nice truck and had a nice house… which I quickly found out was his parents!
So how old is Dennis? I’m still trying to answer that question to this day! If I had to guess, he was in his late 20’s or early 30’s at this point in time. Hard to say!
Dennis identified me and immediately took to me like a duck to water, inviting me around the corner of the garage, where Wildman’s assembled ring stood in the middle of his (parents’) backyard. I was in complete awe of the ring, like a person with respect of a lion at a zoo: watch from a distance. Inside were several other young guys, all performing various wrestling holds and manuevers. Randy, ie. “tall-as-is-wide”, with his family trucker cap and the ponytail (group protocol) sticking out the back of it, greeted me instantly. I began to meet some of the crew in the ring.
First was Lucas. If Dennis were on the extreme end of weird and normal, Lucas was somewhere in-between. I’m laughing now at the thought of Lucas seeing me make that comparison. For what Lucas lacked in normalcy, he excelled in creativity. The kid was much smarter than he gave himself credit for, but damn, he could be outright goofy at times. By appearance, Lucas had shorter hair than I did at the time. (I used to sport the Eddie Furlong T2 bowl cut; yep…) Lucas was also around the 6 foot mark, lean, not built and wore glasses.
Lucas’ friend was simply called “Shade”. Shade always went by the name of “Shade”. Apparently he didn’t like his real name, or he really thought he was some goth Hardy Boyz ripoff in real life? Yet another oddball, as mentioned, he was digging the goth lifestyle, and it wasn’t unusual for the kid to have a knife on him, brandishing it like a playtoy. I think Shade could’ve fit in with the “ponytail mafia” as his hair was slightly longer than mine, but he was the shortest of the bunch, next to…
John Henry, who was either a dirty white kid, a Puerto Rican that didn’t bathe, or a really light skinned African-American. For all I know he might’ve been all of the above, I just know that he was short, squat, fat, never shaved and never bathed. The man always stunk.
Myself, Dennis and Randy, combined with my new friends, were now ready to start this training video that I was there to film. Somehow we never got off the ground with it, I can’t remember if it was due to a lack of camera or that everyone kept goofing off in the ring, and talking plans of wrestling world domination. The concept was for Randy to start up a wrestling school, but the topic quickly diverted to everyone’s general disdain for the Wildman and his almost as wild wife. Apparently the Wildman had been shorting Randy, his business partner, of money so he could maintain his consistent state of drunken stupor. The group began discussing Randy taking over as full owner, and using the new talent that moved to Ohio (Lucas, Shade and John Henry) as part of that plan.
Eventually everyone stopped the chatter for a bit and got to business in the ring. That’s when I was invited to step through the ropes. “Hey you’re a big guy, why don’t you get in here?” bellowed Randy. Wide eyed and ready to roll, I carefully plodded onto the apron and stepped through the ropes for the first time.
“Do you know how to take a bump?” Randy asked. Pause. An explanation on the given time period is needed before I go any further. We were at a time when wrestling was becoming more open to the fans. Fans knew the fix was in and that what they saw was entertainment. Insider websites started to pop up all over the internet, so I had the benefit of knowing what a “bump” was. For those of you not in the know, it’s a simple fall to your back. Armed with enough knowledge to be dangerous, I replied back to Randy… “No.” Yes, the enhanced drama of telling the truth! There was no reason to lie, but at least I didn’t have to ask him what a bump was! I was there to learn and get into this rasslin’ business dammit!
Now, another explanation. From my countless experience with different trainers, schools, etc. over the years, I can verify this is NOT the way you learn how to bump. Randy, who is part owner and not a wrestler, explains to me how easy it is. How to put my arms out, but not below the level of my back. How to keep my feet flat, and have them crash to the mat at the same time. Sounded wonderful, nothing awful ever crossed my mind! Truthfully, that much was honest to goodness information for you future wrestlers, well, at least partial information.
What followed next is how I learned to bump: Randy picks me up and BODYSLAMS me to the mat. “How did that feel kid?” Randy asks, as my eyes roll into the back of my head, first getting the sunlight glaring from the heavens, where I thought I was headed ASAP! My respiratory system kicked in and I regained my wind, followed by my central nervous system, which alerted me to the pain throughout my backside.
“It felt great.”
“Good. Let’s do it again.”
And again I went. Again and again and again, each time, getting a better rhythm for hitting the canvas. This wrestling thing isn’t so bad, I thought, I could get used to this.
I scooped myself off the mat, ready for more punishment. As Randy went to lift me, he puts me back down. “Hey kid, do you know how to post?” Hmm, “post”, I don’t remember reading that one on the internet, my brain fumbled, as my facial expression told him what he already knew. Posting is a way of one wrestler helping the other lift them up, so as to not pickup a dead body, which I was slowly turning into from the repeated slams. Randy shows me my next tip and off I go: wham! The peanut gallery watching outside the ring, clapped at what was my best slam/bump in the ten minutes of my career!
Randy, being the large guy he was, remanded that it was break time, but I stuck around in the ring, as Shade hopped in. He started showing me how to run the ropes, which looked easy enough, but hurt like hell from the cable beneath the worn down tape and padding that covered the wire “ropes”. It felt like Indiana Jones had whipped my kidneys after a few times across the ring. Shade seemed impressed however, and discussed with me how he was looking for a tag team partner. All I had to do was keep training and my foot was in the door, down the aisle and into the ring!
Actually, it was into the ring almost as soon as he said it. Shade started to grapple with me, putting me in a headlock slamming me around and having a good ol’ time with me as his tackling dummy. Before you could say “before” neighborhood kids started showing up and we had a full-fledged wrestling exhibition on our hands. I took a tremendous amount of punishment and worked a few matches before the rainstorm cut our day short.
Sometimes details are foggy, but I distinctly recall how I had felt at that moment. I was standing in a pair of Adidas wind pants, a now dirty “wife” beater tank top, sucking down water from the outside garden hose, while the rain drops soothed my tired body. I remember having this rush come over me, and I felt great. At 17 years old, I’m starting my professional wrestling career, just as many of my idols before me have. Little did I know how little I knew…
Disclaimer: “Diary of a Present Day Pro Wrestler” is a recount of witty, funny, ugly and otherwise entertaining stories from Scott Prodigy’s pro wrestling career. While these stories are based on true events, the author makes no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the content. In some instances names, locations and/or other general information have been altered. The author shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, punitive, special, incidental or other consequential damages arising directly or indirectly from any use of this material, which is provided “as is”, and without warranties. The author does not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites listed or linked to in the content.
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