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knightforce
March 14th, 2013, 02:52 AM
Rex Loman had big dreams when he decided to enter the pro-wrestling world. Sure, he didn't finish high school with any decorations in wrestling or football, but he thought they toughened him up pretty good. He wasn't expecting things to be easy, heck, he'd heard the horror stories about how tough breaking into the business was. Nonetheless, he figured with a good school and the right attitude, the sky was the limit. He just had to be willing to put in the time.

And man, did he put in the time.

He was fresh out of high school when he started the whole thing...and now he was staring down the cold, steel barrel of 30...in a body that felt more like 50. He couldn't even lay down without triggering an ache somewhere. He actually didn't mind the pain though. He could swallow about as much punishment as there was to dish out if that was what it took to get better. He hadn't been getting better though, not a bit, not in all this time. He didn't know a heel-hook from a fishhook, let alone a padlock from a headlock. Still, he was a stubborn s.o.b., with as much game in him as a prize pitbull and as much quit as a cancer. When it came to sticking with something, he stuck.

But he wasn't stupid. Not that stupid anyway.

When he got stretched by the vets his first day in, after being put through a battery of running, push-ups and endless body-weight squats, he chalked it up to a learning experience, even though they didn't actually explain anything to him about the holds they were tapping him out with. And when they threw him in against Jim Londos later that week in a non-title match, well, that was a trial by fire, he figured. They wanted to see if he was man enough to come back at it after Londos super-kicked him into the emergency room.

They were just testing him.

That was why they fed him to Gary Albright (to get darn near paralyzed) when someone needed to be scared up to sate the big man's lust for suplexing people and it was also why he found himself on the mat with Hiro Matsuda, listening to the sound of his various joints popping and crunching under the pressure of holds he didn't even know the name of, let alone the defense to. It was why he'd faced the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba on a day's notice.

Just testing him.

But then, the following day at the gym, when Sakuraba came by the gym to throw him some pointers on how not to get snagged in a submission in less than a minute, the trainers and veterans seemed to do everything they could to disrupt Sakuraba's casual instruction. Finally, they broke the session up entirely by sending Rex away on an errand, while they chummed around and took photos with Japan's famed "IQ Wrestler."

It was a little after that, when he'd first heard the boys whisper that word. He was getting dressed in the locker room, shaking out the cobwebs from a piledriver to the concrete he'd received en route to a loss against Marge the Mangler, a local female wrestler known in the ring for her girth in the kitchen for her famous cornbread. He was alone on his bench, in a corner a good ways away from the rest of the guys as he laced up his boots and threw on his sweats. But as he passed them, he heard it. It was a whisper, but he heard it. He heard it again before he left the gym that day, low and soft, but audible. It wasn't long before the whisper got louder, until even everyone, even the new guys, were calling him "j o b b e r", right to his face.

Rex was big, wide and muscular, with a hard, ruggedly handsome face and a strong, prominent jaw. He was also timidly shy and clumsily awkward, both physically and socially. He wondered if that was the problem; as tough as he looked, any top-name would look like a real giant-slayer kicking his butt around the ring and as wimpy as he actually was, it was an easy reward with no risk. Why would the guys ruin a solid money-maker like that by teaching him how to maybe, possibly beat the main-eventers that were all too eager to use him as a powerful, tough-looking wrestling dummy?

Whatever the case, eventually he realized his body and his health were being sacrificed so his handlers could make a quick buck. So he left the Mongoose Den and made the trek across town to Slam Master's. They were nicer at that gym, abut it just seemed like he'd gotten too used to being the punching bag to step out of the role. Sean O'Grady of the USA network's old "Tuesday Night Fights" used to call it "sparring partner syndrome." And even if he could overcome it, he had all the wear and tear of a 20-year veteran with all the know-how of a neophyte. By the time he finally, at long last, really learned to wrestle, would he be going around in a wheel-chair?

And yet, being a jobber was how he put food on the table. It was job...or starve.

The wrestling business, he decided, was like a gigantic monster that was constantly feeding. And its diet consisted of hopes, dreams...and health. If you didn't have those, if you had no soul to be fed into the belly of the beast, you did just fine. The bullies and sleazes, they seemed to go right to the top of the business, as wrestlers, as promoters and as owners. The good died young and the evil lived, prospered and partied.

It sucked to watch.

Of all the people at the Mongoose Den, there had been one, single solitary person who had shown him any kind of kindness. And he wasn't actually a professional wrestler. He was this guy by the name of Tyrone Gunder, who was part of the Mongoose Den's catch-wrestling and submission-grappling program. He seemed to practically live in the gym. And he was a great athlete. When he wasn't on the mats grappling, he was hanging from the gymnastics rings or doing upside down push-ups on the dip bar or doing curls on the stability ball. It was funny, he was always listening to 80's heavy metal. Sometimes it blasted from his headphones so loud that it was practically playing for the rest of the gym. He had to be one of the only black guys he knew who was a metal head.

Tyrone always said hello, always asked how he was doing. He even once heard Tyrone speak up for him to some of the other guys. Guy was a hardcore pro-wrestling fan, he was always talking about how the style of grappling he did, catch-wrestling, came from professional wrestling rather than jujutsu. Then, something happened, and suddenly Tyrone was wearing this superhero mask and calling himself KnightMask. Something about the mask seemed to kick Tyrone into overdrive, because suddenly, in no time he was the top grappler in the gym. It was almost like he wasn't even playing the same sport as the other guys.

Usually, two guys locked up, fought for a takedown, then ended up on the ground and fought for a dominant position. Eventually, after it was firmly secured, the man with the dominant position would hit a submission and tap the guy out. It was kind of boring and generally, the pro-wrestlers ignored that section of the gym.

Tyrone, or rather, KnightMask, was different.

Sometimes the pro-wrestlers would even halt their training in the ring to look over at Gunder or KnightMask or whatever you wanted to call him as he did these crazy rolls and spins he did in the place of takedowns literally landed right into instant leg-submissions. In his hands, the molasses-slow sport of grappling suddenly because this fast-paced, acrobatic and dynamic endeavor. He sometimes wondered, when watching him, if he was to grappling what rock and roll was to music.

He was overjoyed when he heard that KnightMask had reached the pinnacle of his sport, winning gold at the ADCC world championship. When he later appeared at Slam Master's, he was even happier to see his old friend. When KnightMask explained that he'd been essentially banned from submission grappling on trumped up charges of steroid abuse, he truly felt for him...he knew how much he loved the sport. But Rex Loman's heart truly dropped when KnightMask announced to him his intentions to enter into the world of professional wrestling. The hope in his voice, the excitement...burned at Rex, for he knew his words to be those of a man essentially laying himself down at a pagan altar, with no notion at all about the evil forces to which he was going to be sacrificed.

When he'd heard that his friend, in only his second match, was going to be thrown in with the ruthless French superstar Arnaud Chevailler, he was agonized by the awful inevitability of their confrontation. The drama they were playing out was one he'd seen far too many times now. Kindness and mercy were not rewarded in the harsh world of professional wrestling, unless those traits were merely pretended at for the manipulation of fans and sponsors.

Chevailler was going to destroy KnightMask. KnightMask was a technician, a sportsman. Chevailler...that man came at you with gouges to the eye, shots to the groin when the referee--conveniently--was looking the other way...he didn't have anything to do with sport. He was full of a hatred and spite that charged every elbow, every stomp, ever sucker-punch he threw. Hatred thrived in the squared circle.

And if Chevailler already knew in advance that just beating the masked man wasn't going to be enough to satisfy his appetite for the destruction and humiliation of his fellow man, that arrogant, snooty Frenchman had embarrassed KnightMask by spitting on the man even as he mocked him. This when KnightMask, true to form, had attempted to befriend him. He'd seen the video that had been making the rounds on news outlets of KnightMask caught on tape destroying a life-sized Chevailler cardboard figure. Arnaud had already broken the poor guy mentally...and now, now he was going to physically destroy him as well.

It just wasn't right. Nothing in this blasted business was. If only he was stronger. If only he had the power within him to correct all those wrongs he had witnessed...or at least, the power to avenge them.... But he'd given up on justice a long time ago. If Lady Justice was out there anywhere, she sure kept herself far, far away from their business.

Tears welled up in the eyes of Rex Loman. He didn't expect anyone to notice them or if they did notice, to care. But what did it matter? He was a
j o b b e r anyway.

He had no face to save.

He glanced over and saw KnightMask struggling Ratboy--Slam Master's resident whack job--with a syringe of some sort. Ratboy was screaming, "Its for your own good! Its for your own good!"

He heard KnightMask respond with something about how he didn't do steroids...of course he didn't. Not that you stood a stray dog crossing rush hour traffic's chance of making it if you didn't juice. Ratboy though, he was fighting hard to jab that syringe into KnightMask and he seemed to be backed by that madman's strength they always talk about in the movies.

Rex might not be able to right all the wrongs in the wrestling business, but he sure wasn't going to stand idly by and watch KnightMask get stabbed by Ratboy's crazy self.

Rex rushed to help, when suddenly the syringe flew out of Ratboy's hands...across the gym...and straight into Rex's shoulder.

"So, Ratboy, this super soldier serum you were trying to inject into me...what did you say the side effects were?"

"None! No side-effects! I mean, it might make you a little hyper..."

"Hyper as in, jumping around, talking too much....?"

"Oh, no, nothing that bad. I just mean, you might throw some cars around, smash through walls, level buildings and maybe try to use your superhuman strength to get revenge on any and everyone who ever wronged you in life...you know, just good clean fun really..."

KnightMask looked over at his friend Rex, who was foaming at the mouth and bulging with muscles and veins that seemed primed to rip through his skin. He looked up and his eyes were glowing every bit as red as KnightMask's vizor.

"And how long does it take for it to take effect?"

"Its pretty much instant."

M. Ike Hagar, the Southerner and other members of the Slam Master's gym all looked on agape as Rex, or rather, the hulking, seething mountain of inhuman muscle that was Rex, stormed towards them.

"KniiiiiiightMask.....you don't have to worry about Arrrrrrrrrnaud....I'm going to kill him before he can hurt you....but fffffffirst things fffffffirst........where are all those guys that used to beat on me and call me a j--j-j-jobbber....I'm going to kill them all...one by one...."

Arcopitcairn
March 14th, 2013, 01:03 PM
Fun story. I liked all the wrestling terms you used. The world of Pro-Wrestling and its history are very interesting. I think maybe the story could be slowed down some, to show more rather than tell, and maybe some whispers of the super steroid among people earlier in the story might be in order to negate some of the left-fieldy reveal at the end. Nice piece!

knightforce
March 14th, 2013, 06:02 PM
Yeah, in both of the pieces I posted, I basically completely ran out of steam at some point, and just sort of wanted to throw in what would basically be something of an outline of the overall shape of the story I had in my mind.

knightforce
March 14th, 2013, 06:16 PM
This is part 2, also quite goofy and over the top:

M. Ike Hagar, the Southerner and other members of the Slam Master's gym all looked on agape as Rex, or rather, the hulking, seething mountain of inhuman muscle that was Rex, stormed towards them. The experimental strain of super soldier serum had left the man they once new nearly unrecognizable. His is were burning red, as if the raw energy of an exploding sun was now teeming within him.

"KniiiiiiightMask.....you don't have to worry about Arrrrrrrrrnaud....I'm going to kill him before he can hurt you....but fffffffirst things fffffffirst........where are all those guys that used to beat on me and call me a j--j-j-jobbber....I'm going to kill them all...one by one...."

The Southerner cleared her throat and walked up to Rex.

"Well, sugah, ah do believe they'd primarily be located in the Mongoose Den, which is on the other side of town from this our establishment."

Rex growled, turned and bounded off, crashing through a brick wall and charging off down the street. As the stunned members of the Slam Master's gym stared after him through the hole, they saw that he was running down the middle of the street, swatting incoming traffic away with casual sweeps of his massive arms.

"Darn it, KnightMask!" Ratboy chastised, "That coulda been you! If only you'd let me inject you with the syringe, you coulda been a contender! Not some bum! You coulda been--KnightMask? KnightMask? Where's KnightMask?"

The masked wrestler was gone, swinging from lamp post to lamp post in hot pursuit of the hulking horror that was once j0bber Rex Loman.

"That kid, always trying to play the hero..." sighed Hagar. "Awright, you guys hold down the fort while I go after them! And Ratboy, where did you get...ah, nevermind..."

With a single flex of his chest muscles, Hagar's leather jacket and t-shirt burst into tattered pieces, revealing the head trainer's own powerful physique. With a battle cry he charged off through the hole in the wall left by Rex. The remaining members of the Slam Masters gym were figuring out what to do next, when an attractive young Asian woman in a business suit with her hair pulled up into a neat bun walked into the door with a notepad.

"Hello, I'm Kaori Inoue, with Pro-Wrestling monthly. I was looking for KnightMask, to interview him about his upcoming bout with Arnaud Chevailler?"

"Y'just missed him, darlin'. But he's busy right now. Y'see that pile up of cars runnin' down the street fer as long as the eye c'n see? That was done by one man...and KnightMask is in the process of chasin' him down as we speak. Ah'm not sure what he's got in mind if'n he catches the boy though."

Ratboy stepped forward, stroking Bob the dead rat in his hands.

"Actually, we know him better than he knows himself anyway, so you can direct all questions here. I’m sure you want to understand why KnightMask hates France,

The reporters eyes went wide.

"KnightMask hates France?"

"Not to mention French people, French fries, French bread, French toast and of course, Lady Liberty, the world's tallest French woman, which he’s been plotting to blow up. He does like handbags though. In fact, I believe he carries one around in his secret identity."

"KnightMask wants to blow up the Statue of Liberty?"

"I tried to tell him that she's not French anymore, she's a naturalized citizen and this is a nation of immigrants...but the guy doesn't listen. That’s the REAL reason that all the tools in the wrestling industry don’t want to talk about when it comes to Arnaud and KnightMask. But it needs to get out there. I mean, KnightMask is my best friend and I will not tolerate falsehoods being put out there about him. It all goes back to the fact that the Illuminati…"

The Southerner whispered to one of the other wrestlers, "Ah'd stop him, but ah confess, ah'm too interested in what the fellah is gonna say...'sides, it can't be any worse than bein' caught beatin' up a cardboard poster, can it?"




When KnightMask finally caught up to Rex--his trail of utter destruction made him easy to follow--he was pressing a monster truck over his head while a middle aged man cowered beneath him.

"NOW WHO'S THE J OBBER? COULD A J OBBER DO--"


"Cut the crap, Rex!"

KnightMask interrupted him and stepped in between the middle-aged man and Rex.

"You were never a tomato can, a j*bber or any of those things, man. You wanna know what you were, Rex? You were a juggernaut in the most meaningful sense there is. You never let physical beatings or insults stop you from pursuing your dream. Whenever I needed inspiration when I got to the edge of quitting...whenever I had to think of someone I knew that was physically and mentally tough...you were one of the first ones I thought of, man. Its easy to keep going when things go your way and everybody likes you. What takes toughness is to continue on when nothing is working out and everyone's down on you! And that's what you did, Rex! That's what you always did!"

"I WAS A LOSER!"

"Alright, so your win-loss column sucked...whatever. A record is just a number, an abstraction! The will power you showed in enduring those defeats? Now that, that's real man. What's a record going to do for you? Can it fight for you? Can it buy you a drink?"

"IT CAN GET YOU RESPECT!"

Rex dropped the monster truck over his shoulders, where it crash-landed on its side in the middle of the street.

"Okay, okay...good point. It gets you respect, but that sort of respect, who needs it? That kind of respect, its just about the cheapest kind there is. The people that respect you or not on the basis of your record are the same guys that are the first to desert you when the going gets tough. Arnaud, he's got a great record, doesn't he? But you can't stand him! Why is that? I’ll tell you why! Cause he’s a jerk that goes around spitting on people! All the wins in the world don’t mean squat if you’re still just a bully."

Rex roared angrily, and KnightMask felt as if he’d just been blasted by a powerful storm wind.

“NOBODY’S GONNA BULLY REX LOWMAN ANYMORE!”

Rex raised his hands as if to smash KnightMask, who tensed up in a readied crouch. After the beating he’d gotten that past Saturday from Agony, he wasn’t going to last too long against the towering mutant in front of him, but he supposed that he had to do something...especially sense Rex was his friend.

“Listen, Rex, you might’ve gotten pushed around and bullied, but it was because you were too nice, to decent, to use your strength and size to be a bully yourself. The decency was so deeply ingrained in the core of who you were as a person that no matter how cruddy they treated you, no matter how much they walked over you…”

Rex began to seeth and foam at this. KnightMask paused, worried that he was about to end up squashed like a bug on the pavement, but he kept going.

“…they couldn’t beat you, not in a real, meaningful way.”

Rex growled again. He was pulsing with power and it was obvious that the urge to use that power was overwhelming. It was he was on the strongest pre-workout powder in the universe.

“They couldn’t…they couldn’t make you into somebody like them. Was Jesus weak because He let them cruficy Him? He could’ve sent an army of angels to wreck His attackers if He wanted…and you could’ve messed up those chumps that used to torment you, serum or no serum…but the fact is that you were made of sterner stuff than that. Maybe that strength…led to you dropping matches in the ring, but if so, then it was more than worth it. I don’t think so, though. I think it was the fact that the guys who were supposed to be training you were just using you instead of working to make you better. But the joke is on them, because by enduring their abuse and finding it within yourself to rise above it, you gained something far more valuable than any technical understanding.”

Suddenly, Rex’s muscles relaxed. He dropped to his knees. KnightMask sighed a breath of relief. Maybe he wouldn’t end up a stain on the pavement after all…

“Look at me now….I’m worse than a j0bber…I’m….I’m a monster…”

Monster. KnightMask closed his eyes underneath his vizor. He saw Natalia’s face, her voice echoing in his mind, “You-you monster!”

“You’re no monster, Rex. You’re...”

Red Heron
March 20th, 2013, 08:56 PM
I would add a little more goofy insanity to the first part so that it meshes with the second. Both parts are fun to read, they just feel like different stories.