Life is unfair at times. It took me 22 years to reach here, everyday a new hope and new pain.
But today, when I lie on this stretcher, it just takes me few moments to live those 22 years once again.
It all started in 1987, to be particular March 29, 1987. WWF WrestleMania III was held on that day. I was there when Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage created a spectacle for ages. In 93,000 plus voices that erupted after Hulk slammed Andre, one shrill voice was mine.
I was eleven years old then, already a hulkamaniac and die hard pro wrestling fan. But it was in the Pontiac Silver-dome, I realized my dream. I just knew that I have to become a wrestler. I wanted to be like Hulk Hogan.
Just like him, I wanted people to click my photograph and take my autograph.
What I did not know was how to become a pro wrestler. The nearest I used to get was when I used to pick my toothbrush as my microphone and introduce myself to the mirror every morning.
Finally, call it a stroke of luck; I met a pro wrestler from Michigan through my friend. He had just shifted to my town. I asked him zillion questions. I don’t know if he was impressed or irritated, but he told me to hit the gym he did.
What happened next was a torture of my body, but I endured the pain and kept going on.
After a year, I enrolled myself into a pro wrestling camp. It was just a dungeon, let me be honest. I was supposed to spend couple of years there.
I did not have the look, but I had intent and skill. My trainer was extremely impressed with my ability. Once, I heard him over, saying that this kid could make anyone look better in the ring. It boosted my will. I just wanted to be the best I could be, now.
One fine morning in 1994, my trainer woke me up. He had a news; a local promoter in my region needed a guy. He would pay few dollars as well. I took the chance in a heartbeat.
It was my first match, and I tell you, I was extremely bad and nervous. This was when I learnt that training does little if your mind gives up in the ring.
Few months later, I got my second booking and that was truly a match that made me. I wrestled as a face, an underdog. The match just lasted for 10 minutes. There were only 50 people in the arena, but it did not really matter since they were behind me.
I don’t remember what I did, but I do remember the chants of my name. I remember every voice that supported me.
I started appearing at Indy shows across my state later on. I was quietly making my way up. Sometimes I spent nights without proper shelter. There were days, I spent without food. Injuries are a routine of this business, so are deception and other experiences.
I could escape them neither. But above all those, I had a dream to live with and that kept me going.
By 1998, I was accepting bookings all over the country. I was becoming a known name in pro wrestling circles.
I spent my time in various promotions and almost everywhere I played a face. My little stature and high flying ability just made it easier for people to love me.
But for all this time, I had not forgotten my true dream. After all, I wanted to be like Hogan, right? That meant I either had to choose WCW or WWF. Everybody I knew in the business advised me to stay away from the WCW.
So, I sent my tapes to WWF several times, but I could never get through.
In March 2000, destiny helped me once again. I was performing in New York for a small promotion, and one of the WWF booker happened to be there. He was impressed and he assured to contact me.
For weeks I waited for his call, and finally in June he called me. He asked me to come over with my tapes. I just did so and before I would come down from clouds, I was in Ohio. I was finally where I had to be and life could not be better.
Now I was getting an opportunity to put everything I had on table. I had some scintillating matches and feuds with few future champions of WWE. I just had one weakness, and that was my mic work. But I was working on it.
Finally in 2003, it happened. I was told to appear at a house show of SmackDown. I was finally a WWE superstar. I was in the same locker room where greatest of the legends were staying. I was simply awestruck.
Initially sporadically, but I began to appear on SmackDown house shows. My gimmick was of a smiling and benevolent underdog. By December 2003, I had become used to the atmosphere of big shows and “the moment” had come.
On the first television episode of 2004, I made my TV debut on SmackDown. I cut a promo and it got faint cheers, the match went through good as well. I had officially arrived.
In a month’s time, I was to make my pay-per-view debut in the “Royal Rumble” battle royale. I lasted for a minute but that feeling will last for my life.
In few weeks, bookers started saying that I always make the other guy look good. Little did I know that it will be my ultimate undoing.
The push just became elusive each and every week. Soon, I began to put over talented rookies and upcoming heels. I was put through squash matches. I was put in a feud with one guy to protect an effin midget, yet I hoped and continued to give my all.
Finally, I got my first television win after four months in the company. The sound of crowd counting “one, two, three” still echoes in my ears.
It was the start of biggest push of my career. I began to win matches and crowd started to get behind me. Within sometime, I was placed in a feud for U.S. title and I was booked to win it on the next PPV.
Such moment was the worst time to get injured, and I did. I tore my shoulder at a SmackDown taping. My injury needed a break of five to six months. I was crestfallen, but I had to endure this setback and take it in my stride.
The break made me do one thing I had long been evasive about, marriage. I married to my long time girlfriend. I had taken her for granted for far too long. The anticipation of return to the ring however overshadowed the bliss of marriage.
Soon enough, I was back on SmackDown, but things had changed. The guy, who was supposed to drop U.S. belt to me had become bigger and much more hated. As much I wished, I knew deep inside that I will not be beating him.
I was still booked in an angle with him, but just to fall shorter every time I tried. It went on for couple of months and people lost all the interest in my story.
I was back to square one. I again started random feuds and squashed became a routine. Although I was travelling everywhere, my appearances began to drop down. More than a year just went like that, a waste. I was just reduced to be a jumping jack jobber.
Every sun rose with the same dream, but hope was getting weaker now. My mind still hobbled around the distant glory, but the body just could not take it anymore.
My body had begun to crumble now. In the disguise of endurance, I had often ignored niggles and it was all coming back. I was just 30, but my body was several years older. I tried everything, good and bad, but to no avail.
The final blow however was yet to hit me.
In the summer of 2007, I suffered a major injury due to a botch by one of the biggest upcoming guys at a house show. My spinal cord was severely damaged. Forget making return to the ring soon, it was uncertain if I could wrestle again.
WWE gave me compensation, but my dream was over for once and all perhaps. I had to sit at home for extended period of time. I almost drove my wife crazy at times but she still supported me.
In such a period, my two years old daughter became my true solace. I then realized that I had missed the moment when she spoke for the first time. I had missed the moment, when she stood up and took her first step. Man, I had missed my family so much.
Inactivity soon started to eat me. The hollow was too big. I realized that the only thing I know in my life is wrestling. What else could I do? Just nothing else, I guess.
I had to do it once again. WWE was out of question, perhaps TNA or Indy leagues? I started sending out feelers to my friends in the business.
My wife realized the conflict of my mind and my intentions. She knew that my passion can make me commit a mistake of my life. Unknown to me, she decided to do something. She had known couple of guys I worked with. She took the number of our locker room leader from them.
She contacted him and asked him if he could help me out. The legend had a solution. He suggested that I could become a trainer in FCW, if I wish. I accepted it but on one condition that I wanted to make TV appearance one last time.
Creative of course found a way, and not so surprisingly the same one. There was one upcoming monster heel, a talented Scottish guy. They decided to feed me to him and I agreed.
Tonight, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008, I made my last SmackDown appearance.
My music hit the arena, and some people actually remembered me. I stepped on the aisle and did my signature taunts. Audience did not know it, but it was the last time I was doing it.
What a feeling it was! My heart sank a little bit, and eyes became moist. My breath became heavier and heartbeat louder.
"BOOM!" Suddenly something just hit me hard on my head.
The Scot assaulted me from behind. He pounded me on the stares and rail guard. He gave me couple of DDTs on the mat and put me unto his submission hold. World just became darker than it already was. I faintly remember his screams and people booing him.
The medical team rushed to the ring and they called for a stretcher. My career was finally over, so was my dream.
Now as I lie on the stretcher, being carried out to the back, I can’t help but look back at my journey.
Agreed, I did not achieve the heights I imagined; I never reached the place I craved for. I was just an ordinary superstar, forgettable and common.
But, now it does not matter. Nobody can deny that I tried. The madness, those chants of my name, those moments and their magic, they are mine and no one can take them away. The fire that burned inside me still burns and my passion will linger around.
I saw one dream for 22 years and through pains and despair, and I lived it everyday.
This was my story. I am a random jobber sans identity, and this was the journey of my dream.
disclaimer: this is a work of fiction, inspired from various real life events and stories.
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