To reach the big time? Sometimes it’s about knowing the right people. Maybe you’re a part of a prestiged wrestling family like the Best’s or the Maurako’s. Maybe you’re good enough to attract an agent or manager who can help direct your career towards the bright lights and pyros.
Most of the time?
It’s about luck, and being in the right place at the right time.
It was January, 2002.I’d just finished a midcard match in New Jersey where I’d beaten a guy called Big Dawg. It was a company known as World Hardcore Wrestling and that night was a big crowd. Around five hundred at least..
Chris CK and I were supposed to be going after the Tag gold to add to our collection from all the independent circuits we were touring. But he’d struck a contract with an up and coming big time company known as High Octane Wrestling. The word on the street was that they were the new kids on the block, pushing the big names and had even landed a TV deal.
I couldn’t blame him. You don’t turn down an offer like that. A real contract? Which means guaranteed bookings and guaranteed money coming in. Good money too. Not to mention that you would be seen on TV, so even if the company didn’t take off you’d have the opportunity to raise your profile.
Still, I was back to being on my own, roaming from town to town and scavenging money. I left the booker’s office having told him in less than ten words what a lousy fat fuck he was for stiffing me. That scumbag tried to argue that he’d booked a fifteen minute slot and I’d only given him five, so he halved my take. I was being punished for being efficient and capping a win over my opponent. I was wrestling seven nights a week and sometimes working day and night gigs in the same day. If you get the chance to put your opponent down early and save yourself some bumps you fucking take it!
So I had about a hundred bucks in my pocket and I’d need most of it for fuel and food to get me to the next gig. I was hoping to at least be able to push the boat out and rent a cheap motel room so that I could rest in a real bed before travelling eight hundred miles for the next gig. Thanks to old fatty I had to get my sleeping bag out of the trunk and set up shop in the back of my car.
It was winter and it was fucking freezing in that car. I had about seven layers on, with a beanie hat with my hood pulled up and I was still cold. I remember staring up at the moon and watching it fade as the glass window began to haze from the cold. Little spectacles of ice were already beginning to form on my refrigerator of a hotel room.
I asked myself whether all of this was worth it. I had a job waiting for me in my fathers company with a six figure salary, car and the warmth of the Miami climate. Why the hell was I putting myself through this? Eeking my way through life and risking my neck for peanuts?
I’m sure old Bill Dickinson has asked himself the same question many times over. I’m sure almost all of us have at some stage in our career. With the exception of a few privileged individuals? Most of us have to go through that grind and get through the tough times. Hoping and praying that an opportunity will fall our way sooner or later.
Starting to feel a little warmer, my eyelids began to fall heavy. I was starting to drift off to sleep when the call came. I almost didn’t answer it because my arms were nicely cocooned in my sleeping bag and it meant bringing them out into the chill of the ice box. My gut told me I needed to take that call. When you’re lonely and desperate, you answer your fucking phone.
My hand trembled as I held up my battered Nokia 3310, I couldn’t even see who the caller was.
“Hello?” I grunted, my breath hovering in the air like a haunting myst.
“Sup, bro?” replied a familiar voice.
It was Chris CK.
“Chris? Aren’t you a little too big time now to be calling the likes of me?” I half joked, though secretly I was bitter.
“Hey! I told you man, I wasn’t going to leave you high and dry,” he said, excitement surrounding his tone. “You’re in!”
I squinted my eyes, pinching the tear ducts with my fingers as I tried to kick my brain into gear.
“HOW, man! I put in a good word like I said I would and they said they’d give you a shot!”
I was so excited I sat bolt up and banged the top of my head on the roof of my car.
“Gah, yeah! Shit, you serious?” I asked.
“Yeah! They wanna try you out in a dark match this Monday’s Mayhem. All you gotta do is show up and not stink out the ring and you’ll get yourself on the main card.”
And there it was. That was the break I needed. I told Bill recently that I’d worked my way up from Ground Zero, and I didn’t mean my former stable. I told him that I climbed every wrung of the ladder to get to my Hall of Fame status and all of the accolades I’ve achieved. But that’s only half of the story. The truth is I got a lucky break by knowing someone who could vouch for me. From there the rest is history. I wouldn’t make my name in HOW until some era’s later but just by having that name on my resume was enough to land me big contracts all over the states, so I was learning my craft against top tier guys and not circus clowns like Bill Dickinson.
Why am I telling you this story?
Well, as much as I don’t like Bill Dickinson, I do feel sorry for him. I don’t know why he’s never made it. I don’t know whether he had opportunities or not. Maybe he did and just wasn’t good enough? Or maybe he’s just not had his lucky break.
Well now he does. Here I am, offering him the biggest shot of his career. Beat me and he not only wins the LSD championship but he will have to sign a contract with HOW, or else forfeit it. He’s never going to do that. I am literally his meal ticket to salvaging what’s left of his career and finishing it on a high with a potential run with the biggest wrestling promotion on planet earth.
I’ve heard people comparing it to a ‘Rocky Balboa’ story. He’s a guy from the slums who’s suddenly been given this huge chance against a world class pro. A chance he never thought he would get but here he is, preparing to step into the ring at the biggest wrestling event of the year on the main stage.
I guess that makes me Apollo Creed, right?
Well let’s not forget, that in Rocky 1? Apollo wins. Sure, Rocky fights with heart and he takes Apollo to the mattresses but Apollo’s class shines through and he gets the job done.
And this aint the movies, Bill. There aint gonna be no sequel, hermano. This is it. One shot, one time opportunity and it expires after Iconic.
You goaded me into this Bill and I’m giving you what you wanted. I thought that this was all about Adam. I genuinely thought you were bullying him because he had me as a mentor and you were jealous. You could see the trajectory he was on under my wing and that green eyed monster reared its ugly head and caused you to rough him up a bit, teach him a lesson.
But it seems you hold grudges Bill. A grudge dating back to a night in 2019 when I socked you in the kisser. You put your hands on me first, amigo, don’t forget that detail. But that’s how shit works with me. You shove me? I’ll punch you in the fucking mouth. At Iconic? Whatever you do I’ll do ten times worse. Don’t think I’m too scared to go toe to toe with you.
I know I’m known as a wrestling machine. A wizard who uses his artistry to paint masterpieces on the canvas with his opponent. But I’m not afraid to put the paws on you and go punch for punch.
The sad thing is Bill, you’ve been waiting almost three years to get back at me for that night. You’ve spent three, long and bitter years seething over the fact that a guy punched you in the mouth and you didn’t get your chance to throw back.
What was I doing? I didn’t even give you a second thought, my friend. I’m sorry. I probably went and pounded a bag of cocaine and fucked some women that night and you couldn’t have been further from my mind.
Because you were a fucking nobody to me. I have to be honest about that Bill. Because while a former World champion was busting you in the chops and that pissed you off? I didn’t even know what your fucking name was and I didn’t bother to find out.
I’ve been at the top so long that I’ve forgotten where I’ve come from Bill. I’ve forgotten how hard it is for little piss ants like yourself. How depressing and tiring it is, busting your ass and risking your neck for shitty money.
I just signed a new contract with HOW. $97,000 a year, guaranteed. That’s more money than you’ve probably earned in your entire career and I didn’t even bother to negotiate. Why, because I make more money elsewhere because my NAME enables me to.
Now I have to remember. I have to get inside your mind and try and think like you think and it brings back all these horrible memories and I remember now. I remember how shit it was but most importantly? I remember the desperation Bill. I remember the lengths I was willing to go to win a match and fight for that opportunity.
Now here I am, putting everything on the line with everything to lose. All for you, Bill. You’ve got nothing to lose and right now, with everything I’ve just talked about that makes you the most dangerous opponent I will likely ever face.
Facts are facts. Rocky didn’t win in the first movie but he sure as fuck took it to the wire. It doesn’t matter that I am better than you. It doesn’t matter that I’m a Hall of Famer and it certainly doesn’t matter how many titles I’ve won.
When that bell rings? We’re just two men. Flesh and blood amigo, that’s all. You’re bigger than me. You’re stronger than me and you’ll be digging deeper than you’ve ever dug before to make this one shot count.
This is me telling you that I’m not taking any of that for granted. I’m not taking YOU for granted. What this boils down to is who is the hungrier out of the two of us? I could fire a cheap shot right here but why bother. You’re the underdog. You’ve got the chance of a lifetime and you’re going to risk everything to take the LSD championship and beat the Gold Standard John Sektor.
But I’m hungry too, hermano. I’m fucking starving! I don’t want to lose this belt. I want to break all the records. Most defences. Longest reign. Longest total days as champion, in only one fucking reign, I want to do it all and I can’t do that if I drop it to a fucking no-mark from MVW!
And it’s not just my LSD championship on the line at Iconic Bill. You know, I know it. My pride, man. My pride is on the line because what would the world fucking say if the Gold Standard, the Wrestling Machine, the Hall of Fame Icon who pioneered the new era of LSD championship wrestling….what would they say if I lose to a slob like you from the small time?
Can I look at myself in the mirror?
Can I return next year with that new contract and continue, having flushed all my credibility down the toilet?
I’m not burying you, dude. I’m genuinely fucking scared of losing to you. You played it perfectly man. You goaded me. Pushed the right buttons and caught me when I was hot and I stupidly through this challenge out. I didn’t have to do this. You didn’t have a contract. I could have challenged someone in HOW who is looking for their break. Xander Azula, David Noble, maybe even fucking Scottywood. Maybe I could have solidified my stature as LSD champion by beating the guy who was arguably it’s best pioneer.
But here we are.
I look at the positives of this situation. There is an element of danger that you bring to this match that no one in HOW could ever do. Because of who you are and where you are from you have a desire that no one else can match. You pose a huge threat and when I pass this test that you give me I will have proven that I am the greatest of all time. You can’t just beat the guys who have made it. You need to look in the shadows for the ones who will always say ‘I’d have beaten him. I’d have taken his title I’f Id been given the chance.’ And you, have proven to me over the past few months that you are hell bent on beating the ever living shit out of me and taking it all away from me. So I have to stop that from happening.
See, that makes me dangerous too. Because as much as you are willing to risk it all to beat me? I’m willing to die trying to defend my title and my pride. Literally, you’d have to kill me and prize this championship from my cold, dead, Cuban fingers.
Have I convinced you yet that this won’t be a repeat of the Halitosis incident? There were circumstances that led to me shitting the bed with that one Bill, so throw it in my face all you want. A man doesn’t just go from outlasting every fucker in a War Games match to win the World championship, only to lay down for guy with bad breath.
That was a different John Sektor. You, my friend, are getting the real deal. You’re getting the machine. The man, the myth, the fucking legend. I have momentum on my side. I;ve beaten Darin Zion twice. I’ve beaten a Hall of Famer in a 97 minute Iron man match with rules I’ve never wrestled under before. I’ve beaten a big Texan brawler who’s younger and better than you were, are or could ever hope to be.
I’m not just on another level to you, Bill, I’m in a whole other dimension. I’m on a roll, and I am in the greatest form of my life. I have the same kind of momentum I had when I dominated the World and Icon divisions, except this time I am mentally stronger.
I have weaknesses. I bleed, just like you do and I hurt too. I can be beaten and you could be the one to do it.
But if you’re hoping for me to slip on a banana skin like I did with Joe Bergman? Well I’m here to tell you that won’t be happening. I am treating you with the same respect that I have with every opponent who has faced me in the past 2 years as I have tried to rebuild my name and status as the greatest technical wrestler of all time. I won’t be sleeping on ya, Bill. I will be grinding day and night, training and learning and preparing for war against the man who is trying to take away my world and use my name to catapult himself into the big time.
You’ve had a good time. You’ve had your name said on the HOW shows enough to make you remembered by a handful of people for a few years. You’ll get your fifteen minutes of fame under the bright lights in London.
But that’s where the Cinderella story ends for you, Bill. When I win, you go back to the shadows whilst Adam Ellis will be getting ready to step up to the HOW roster and begin work on his own Hall of Fame career.
I hope you savour every second of this opportunity Bill. Because it the first and last time I will ever give it to you.