It’s not every day that a group of friends get together to not only backyard wrestle, but commit grand theft auto, insurance fraud and assault and battery all within a span of two hours. Talk about bad booking, but when one minute your “throwing” your best friend over a “cliff” in a trash can and the next minute your lying in a pool of your own blood crying to your mom about a “car accident” you know creative dropped the ball on that day…
“Cut, cut, cut!! That’s not what we planned for this segment!”
My friend, Dan, thinks he’s freaking Quentin Tarantino whenever he gets behind the camera during one of our now infamous backyard wrestling sessions. He got the bright idea (actually somewhat ingenious) to film the end of the main event first and then backtrack the story to show the “audience” how they got to this point.
It always added a nice touch of storytelling to the final product. It was admittedly creative, fresh and a bold way of turning our backyard wrestling into a movie of some sorts. The problem was always that Dan thought he was filming an actual Hollywood movie. He’d constantly be barking out directions, continuously stopping the camera and insisting that we re-shoot the same scenes at least a dozen times. Instead of directing Oscar-worthy actors he was stuck with me and our friend, Mike, starring at him like the Rock stares at John Cena.
In this particular scene, I had to put my friend in a trash can, pick it up and make a throwing motion over a cliff (it was a rock wall that was roughly four feet high, but you understand).
After Dan would yell “cut” I’d place the can down, Mike would climb out and we’d film me picking up the trash can and hurling it over the cliff. We’d slap some ketchup packets on Mike’s face, have him crawl back into the can and film him slowly crawling out of the can…
We’d done this scene at least 10 times before we finally ran out of ketchup packets. We’d figured we were all set when the smoking hot blonde behind the McDonald’s drive-thru counter hooked us up with 20 packets of ketchup, but we forgot to account for our friend Steven Spielberg and his anal approach to filming backyard wrestling.
To this day, I’m still not sure who to blame for the shenanigans that were about to take place: Dan, Mike, the smoking hot blonde at McDonald’s or professional wrestling in general, but I’m certainly not blaming myself for anything that happened after we ran out of ketchup packets.
Mike: Looks like we’re going to have to go back to McDonald’s! I’m totally getting that girl's number, by the way. You can book that!
Of course there was a tremendous gap in logic from my friend, though. We didn’t have a car. We weren’t even old enough to drive. We originally got the ketchup packets when Mike’s mom drove us all to McDonald’s that morning before dropping us all off at my parents' house.
She was a nice lady. We were 15 years old, trying to innocently film a little backyard wrestling, eat some cheap burgers and laugh our asses off at our inability to wrestle, all before my mom came home. It had good, summer vacation day written all over it...
It wasn’t so much the fact that we needed more ketchup packets, but the fact that my friends were looking for any excuse to see blondey at McDonald’s again.
Dan: C’mon Bill! It’s going to look dumb if Mike crawls out of a trash can, after being hurled down a cliff, with no “blood” on him. We take your mom’s car, we drive to McDonald’s, get more ketchup packets, maybe Mike gets a girlfriend and we all go home happy. It’ll take a half hour and I just got my driving permit so we’re all set.
Side Note: In the state of New Hampshire a driving permit means you’re 15-and-a-half years old and can legally drive as long as you have an adult 25 years or older with you. In retrospect, I probably should have just punched Mike in the face, covered his face in real blood and filmed the scene, but peer pressure at that age is the equivalent of taking heroine. After you give in once, you’re an automatic sucker to anything else.
I begrudgingly took (stole) my mom’s spare keys from her nightstand. As we all piled into the car I calmly asked my friends to be as inconspicuous as possible. We were walking the thin line between epic childhood story and grounded for life…
The car ride to McDonald’s was about as opposite as inconspicuous as you can get…
Dan blasted Jay-Z out of my mom’s Chevy Lumina like it was an Escalade. Mike proceeded to shout random things to random strangers while having half his body hanging out of the car at the same time. Dan forgot that cars have turn signals. Mike forgot that cars have seatbelts. Dan forgot (or hadn’t yet learned) how to slowly apply the brakes. You do the math.
As we pulled into the McDonald’s drive-thru, we were once again greeted by the smile of the angel we had always referred to as “the smoking hot blonde." She recognized us (enough to make any young boy's day completely complete), hooked us up with an insane number of ketchup packets, actually gave Mike (Who couldn’t help but keep rubbing his head after face planting into the back of the driver’s seat) her number. This plan was working…
And when a risky plan actually starts to work, that’s when dumb people try and push their luck…
Me: Dan, you didn’t bring the camera with you, did you? Maybe we can get her to film a spot where she’s Mike’s girlfriend and I kidnap her or something. You know, to set up our main event match later today.
Looking back at this now, I’m not quite sure which was more weird: the fact that Dan actually brought the camera with him or that this random, ridiculously gorgeous girl agreed to help film part of our backyard wrestling video ... Which we told her was part of a documentary for a summer school project.
Business must have been slow or she just couldn’t have cared less about her job because she immediately met us in the parking lot. We filmed a quick scene of me cutting a hilarious heel promo in a McDonald’s parking lot, filmed her walking out of the restaurant, me fake punching her, throwing her into the backseat of my mom’s car and pretending to drive off as Mike (imagine a dumber version of Santino) tried to fake cry.
This was going to be the best main event match ever!
As she waved goodbye, Dan started up the car to begin our short journey home. Mike, who was on cloud nine at this particular moment, then issued the words that still haunt me in my dreams to this very day…
“Will you look at that beautiful butt she’s got?”
As the words left Mike’s mouth and connected with Dan’s ears he quickly turned his head to take a final glance at “the blonde angel” for one last time…
…and proceeded to clip a rather large tree on the edge of the parking lot
Sheer terror and panic quickly raced through every ounce of my body when I glanced over and noticed that the driver side mirror was now dangling from my mom’s car.
As we raced back to my parents' house (with Dan cupping the dangling mirror in his left hand) my mind was racing with ways/excuses I could weasel my way out of getting grounded until I graduated high school. Why did Dan need to be anal about our trash can scene! Why did Mike have to sway Dan’s attention from driving! Why did “smoking hot blonde” have to be so smoking hot! Why did we even backyard wrestle in the first place! Why do I even like professional wrestling!
And then it all came together in my head…
As we pulled back into the driveway, I was not surprised to see that the damage to the car was far worse than I had expected. Not only was the mirror now almost completely off the car, but the driver’s side was full of dents, scratches and marks. I knew what had to be done…
Me: Alright, Well that sucks. Let’s film our main event match right now. We have an hour before my mom comes home. Mike, I’m going to need you to beat the living hell out of me. I’m talking unprotected chair shots to my elbow, shoulders and knees. Don’t stop unless I tell you. Dan, keep filming until I give you a signal to stop… Get the Ketchup packets!
Over the next half hour we filmed the greatest hardcore, WWE title match ever produced in the history of backyard wrestling. Halfway through the match I felt like I was a wrestling god sitting amongst the hardcore legends of the industry. Names such as: Mick Foley, Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk and Sabu had nothing on William Gullo that day.
As we came full circle to the trash can/cliff scene, we stopped filming for the first time (a new record for Dan). And as Dan slapped a crap load of ketchup packets across Mike’s face, I proceeded to run and slide on the cement driveway, opening a scab on my leg and producing copious amounts of blood.
As we filmed the final trash can scene, Mike emerged from the trash can covered in “blood” as I performed a flying elbow drop from the top of the “cliff." He kicked out, gave me a Stone Cold Stunner and got the three count for the victory thus becoming the new WWE champion.
Before Dan faded to black to end this week’s episode of “Backyard Raw” I uttered one last final line through swollen lips, a bleeding leg and a horrendously black and blue elbow…
“Sorry, but your girlfriend is in another castle! Grant me a re-match and I’ll tell you her location”
As Dan stopped filming what I can only imagine was the equivalent of his Godfather, the three of us just stared at each other and then at my mom’s car. Without saying a word, I gingerly got to my feet, walked into the garage, rolled out my bike with one hand and held a sledgehammer in the other.
I Triple-H’d the crap out of my bike that day. I proceeded to bend in the wheels, crack the handle bars and shatter most of the reflection mirrors as Dan and Mike watched on in confusion. I grabbed the house phone, sat down by the damaged car and broken bike and made a phone call…to my mom.
I cried and groaned about a bicycle game of tag that had gone wrong. That Dan, mike and I had been goofing around in the driveway on my bike and I accidently crashed into the side of the car and flipped over the side mirror. I told her about my injuries, but made sure to sound more concerned about the car.
As my mom pulled into the driveway/crime scene I can only imagine the horror of seeing her son bruised, bloodied and battered sitting on the ground next to a wrecked bike and damaged car. I proceeded to sell the story, injuries and remorse like I was Dolph Ziggler…
She bought the whole thing like it was on sale at the dollar store.
My mom. An angel. A fantastic woman, cook, friend, neighbor and wife. My mom is also an idiot.
Within a week, the insurance company had fixed the car; I was out a bike as punishment, but considering the alternatives I’d take that plea deal any day of the week. We had successfully filmed our epic backyard match. Mike now had a semi-girlfriend before he met someone new at Burger King the next week…
And I had cheated death. Well, at least indefinite suspension from doing anything until college.
We’re now all in our mid 20s, but every time we all get together for a couple of “Diet Cokes” at my apartment, we occasionally pop in our secret backyard wrestling tape and relive the entire day over again.
While the match, especially watching it now, completely sucks; no one can take away that feeling I had as Mike continuously leveled me with chair shots, the feeling of flying off the “cliff” as real blood connected with ketchup, the look of a much younger William Gullo as he issued his final words before the camera faded to black and the hilarious heel promo performed outside a McDonald’s with our “smoking hot blonde” friend.
Mike (In the year 2011): Ya know what? She really did have an outstanding butt!
Me: Kind of creepy to say that now, Mike. We’re older; she’s not in that video.
There are probably a hundred more stories just like this between me, my friends and our backyard wrestling league. These are our stories. Our memories. Our backyard wrestling diaries…