Wrestling With Stupidity
24-hour pharmacy and steel cage.
I don't normally recount stories from my childhood, especially seeing as how it was already made into a TV movie some years ago. There is one story I've been itching to dramatize in epic fashion, because it was one of those singular events unlikely to be duplicated again in my life, for a large number of very good reasons. Plus, I was 16 at the time, so it wasn't really my childhood. Although this incident occurred about six years ago, my memories of the event are still quite intact and trustworthy. This story is, for better or worse, an accurate account of the night I went to a "professional wrestling show."
Let me first say that professional wrestling is not my forte. I have not watched wrestling of any sort since I was a wee lad, enamored then by the heroic battles of guys in stupid costumes with even stupider gimmicks. I've since caught a glimpse or two flipping through channels or in commercials, but by and large I've avoided it. I think the wrestler Irwin R. Schyster, whose gimmick was that he was a tax collector, can best crystallize professional wrestling. The idea of a taxman wrestling is just so incredibly mind boggling that I don't know whether to categorize it as the highest form of genius or the purest form of retardation. I imagine the scientific community would have to weigh in on that, but I don't think they would want to take time away from their important experiments that presumably involve lasers or getting rid of mud. Although I am not a fan of any kind of real or fake sport, I rank wrestling, along with NASCAR, rodeos, demolition derbies, and pig races, as being among the most pointless.
How I ended up at a wrestling event goes back to some newfangled computer graphics class I took in high school, where a classmate and casual friend of mine named Matt invited me to hang out. I said sure, and then he qualified hanging out as "going to a extreme wrestling event." My brain kind of short-circuited at that point, because I still agreed to go. I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be the most fun I ever had going to an extreme wrestling event. I liked it so much I decided never to do it again, for fear a second time would simply dull my grand memories of the first time.
I can't say I enjoyed the journey to this prestigious event, but could perhaps lie if somebody paid me or put a gun to my head. Matt neglected to mention he was bringing three of his buddies along, all three of which were loud and stupid. In short, I was going to a wrestling event with pretty much the correct demographic. The event was being held in the next town over, in the ideal setting for any manly sporting event. Yes, I am of course referring to a bingo hall that, in another life, was a Walgreens drugstore. I remember being a bit mythed thinking that a place where I used to buy cold medicine from was now serving as host to a sporting event of titanic proportions, but I guess it was just another demonstration that God truly did have a plan for everything.
Only the best of men have what it takes to compete.
Before we could enter this exciting venue of visceral sporting action, we would need to buy tickets. Luckily, one of the professional wrestlers was attentively on duty selling tickets out of the trunk of his dilapidated car, which I think was probably also his home given the supplies he had. He thanked us and told us to enjoy the show before retreating to his backseat dojo, where he likely recited silent mantras to prepare himself for the predetermined battles ahead. He was the truest of warriors; a gladiator chiseled from beer and failed dreams of wrestling stardom. I'm not sure how my compatriots for this event knew to approach the drunk standing next to the beat up car for tickets, but I guess that's a norm at these things.
Waiting in line was a chilling nightmare as I was submerged in a sea of people discussing the latest wrestling tapes circulating around. Think of a shark tank, except replace the sharks with the population of a trailer park and you get the idea. I was a bit confused at first, but I quickly caught on. The wrestling shown on TV was by no means true wrestling. Therefore, in order to see the genuine article, you had to trade VHS tapes with your fellow connoisseurs of the turnbuckle arts. I remained silent the entire time we waited in line, fearful that even a single word might spark the fires of conversation. Even if I wanted to speak, there was no way I could have possibly communicated with these people without degrading myself or insulting them. Silence was the middle ground, and I opted to build a fort there.
Once we entered the arena, I was immediately amazed. For the first time ever I was seeing what a Walgreens looked like without all the aisles and merchandise. After that thrill evaporated, I was horrified by everything else. In the middle of this former drugstore was a crude wrestling ring that I imagine was built out of parts purchased earlier that day from the local Menards. Next to the ring was some scaffolding that came a couple feet shy of the ceiling. I asked Matt what the purpose of the scaffolding was, and he said it was for the wrestlers to jump from. I asked him how they would jump off of it if they had to duck while on top, but I fear my usage of logic may have proven too much since he simply pointed out the ceiling was supposed to be higher. I couldn't argue with that axiom, although I still wondered why they bothered with scaffolding in the first place. They were pretty serious about it, going so far as to have a man guard it for the duration of the event.
We took seats in the front row right next to the scaffolding, which gave us a great view of not just the ring, but of the backstage area. The backstage was actually a series of curtains forming a square, and I imagined it was pretty tense in there seeing as how all those enemies were sharing what amounted to a glorified tent. Our seats, and all the seats, were metal folding chairs. I wondered if a wrestler would commandeer my seat and use it to pretend to beat up another wrestler. I started thinking a lot about that, about the moral implications of a man using my chair to beat another man. I would almost be sitting on somebody by proxy that way. I realized that the chances of my seat being used as a weapon were very slim, but I resolved not to get too attached. Sitting down was literally that much of a gamble. Then I imagined that the chair probably belonged to the bingo hall, and an old lady was probably sitting in it the night before playing bingo. My imagination really got a good workout thanks to those chairs.
The crowd for this event was exactly what you would expect. There are a lot of stereotypes about wrestling fans, and as far as I could tell, this crowd represented all of them. They were loud, trashy looking, and totally into the show. I was completely alone for the most part, because I watched the whole thing in absolute disbelief in a self-contained bubble breathing an atmosphere of cynicism. This was the kind of crowd that would probably vote for Adolf Hitler if he returned from the dead and promised free beer and wrestling for everybody. Actually, to be honest, this was probably the type of crowd that would vote for Adolf Hitler regardless of campaign promises.
There was a lot of wrestling, but I really don't remember any of it. I was more interested in watching the fans than seeing half-naked men slam each other around. The only point when I actually paid attention to the wrestling was when a particularly unkempt wrestler climbed to the top of the scaffolding. It was a monumental moment in man's ongoing struggle for domination, an absolute crescendo to a symphony of idiocy. Once at the top, crouched because of the proximity to the ceiling, the wrestler proceeded to slice his forehead open. I don't think we were supposed to see that part, but we did. It was a shocking revelation for me, seeing a wrestler fake an injury in such a brazen way. The entire illusion was shattered for me. After that, he kind of "slid" off the scaffolding into the ring, because there was no way for him to jump or even really dive off the damn thing. It was amazing, because in what had to be a twist of cosmic of fate, his opponent happened to approach the scaffolding at just the right moment! Pow! Face full of falling guy! There are moments I will look back on and treasure, and there are moments when a guy slides off of scaffolding inside a building that was once a Walgreens only to land on another guy standing in a crudely made wrestling ring. This moment most definitely belonged to the latter.
Fear the tiny titans, for they are most certainly nefarious!
At one point, Matt and I ventured to the concession stand, which, in better days, was a pharmacy. I'm pretty sure we got up specifically so we would miss the one and only female wrestling match, which I'll explain more on later. While at the concession pharmacy, two girls walked out of the restroom and towards the backstage. These girls, full of raw human potential and probably also various drugs, were part of the show. They were identical twins, wearing identical see-through dresses, and proving degradation works best in numbers. These talented young women were to escort one of the many unknown wrestlers from the backstage to the wrestling ring. Twin girls in see-through dresses could easily improve just about any journey in life, and the ten foot walk from the backstage to the wrestling ring was definitely no exception.
I mention this chance encounter because it led to a second and much better chance encounter. After the girls walked by, a ragged and weathered man approached us. He was aged, and somehow, his clothing was actually rusting. I don't know how that happens, but then I was standing in a building that was once a Walgreens watching wrestling. This was a night of miracles great and small. The old man, seeing us as the future, dispensed some of that aged wisdom only the elderly know.
"There are two of them," he said. "Identical twins," he added, making sure we noted the fact they looked exactly alike.
Before we could respond, he proceeded to utter, "I do believe I've died and gone to heaven" in the most perverted voice I've ever heard. It was as though he was experiencing an orgasm as he spoke. I was horrified. That dirty man smeared his dirty words across my ears like his words were actually mayonnaise and my ears were two slices of bread. If not for the fact I found the encounter more comical than frightening, I probably would have thrown up all over him.
Matt, apparently unaware that the dirty old man standing in front of him was still there, proceeded to laugh and say, "what a dirty old pervert!"
The old man then somehow did a double take using only the muscles around his eyes and not moving his neck at all. Obviously he was peeved at being called a pervert, but not enough to make a fuss. He just abruptly walked off, which was a step in the right direction as far as I was concerned.
Another highlight included a lanky, longhaired annoying guy getting kicked out of the arena because he tried to grope one of the female wrestlers. As the lone security guard was ushering him out, he pleaded with the crowd for a standing ovation, but they merely booed him. Being a true American hero, he waited around outside trying to look through the windows. The man clearly thought himself to be a king, and I was disappointed he loitered about outside instead of going home to his castle built out of bricks of government cheese. The two female wrestlers there that night had the combined biomass of an organic dump truck, and were by no means the kind of women any sane man would molest. I guess that's a moot point, since sane people don't tend to fancy molestation. Anyway, you can probably guess why we avoided watching their match earlier in the night.
There was no dramatic warp-up or anything, just a lot of somber rednecks filing out of the bingo hall destined to form a great big convey snaking all the way back to the trailer park. I wish I could say this was one of those articles I made up entirely, but it really happened. For the most part, I completely forgot about it until recently, when I realized it would probably be worth writing about. If anything, it was a chance for me to remember some lessons I learned. I learned the true extent of wrestling's stupidity. I learned what a Walgreens looks like when you strip away the aisles. Finally, I learned that real wrestling – not that fake crap you see on TV – happens in the backyards and bingo halls of America. God bless America!
I Have No Idea!
Are you there, Internet? It's me, Ben "Grimstone" Platt, and I need some help. I've just reviewed a movie by the name of "Nightslave." It's a movie about a guy who rents a movie, then doesn't pay. And then he fantasizes about trying to kill people and failing miserably. My problem is, now I think I'm insane.
Jervis takes the tape up to the counter and checks it out from the lazy, self-absorbed girl who works there, but they nearly come to blows when he asks for VHS instead of Beta. Fortunately, the girl simmers down and gives him his tape without giving in to the temptation to put her cigarette out in his eye. Right after he walks out the door, and manager comes to the counter and tells the girl that Jervis rents tapes but never returns them. Now they have to get their tape back somehow. That's right, folks, the first major subplot to be introduced revolves around proper video renting habits. Whoa-oh! This movie better slow down soon before my heart leaps out of my mouth and checks itself in to rehab! For the record, no, I don't know what that means either.
Three two one! One two three! What the heck is bothering me?