In Flight Between Boone, North Carolina and Wichita, Kansas Chicago, Illinois
The jolt of the wheels of the plane hitting the runway shook R.G. Jenkins awake. Wiping the sleep out of his eyes and stretching both arms toward the sky, he snuck a peek out the window and observed he appeared to be in the thick of a large city… a really, really, large city.
“What the f… this isn’t Wichita.
He saw the bright city lights all around him and also big, multi-colored lights illuminating a stack of really tall buildings off in the distance.
“That’s definitely not Wichita.”
R.G. tears into his travel bag and searches for the sheet of paper that contains his travel itinerary. He yanks out some clothing, a shaving kit, sexy boudoir pictures of his wife, and other assorted things. He eventually fishes the paper out from the bottom of the bag and reads the itinerary.
“Oh, son of a bitch.”
Then he remembers. Wichita- last weekend. Tuesday- Chicago. Tomorrow morning- plane flight to Dallas. Thursday- plane flight to Paducah. R.G. had stuck the paper in the bag and totally managed to combine in his head last week’s itinerary with the one for this week.
“Midway Airport. Chicago.”
No wonder Sunny gave him such a weird look when he ran down the plans for the week.
“Brilliant. Fucking brilliant.”
The plane stops at the gate and R.G. checks his phone. Already, there’s a text from his wife Melanie with a picture of her in the brand new nightie she slept in the night before. God, he misses her… a lot. Zig-zagging all across the country, rushing through airports and… yes… losing track of where he’s going is one thing but the worst of it is just being away from home for long periods of time.
On the tarmac, R.G. watches a sleepy Sunny O’Callahan deplane followed by Mark Hendry. The first thing out of Hendry’s mouth is ‘this ain’t Wichita’. O’Callahan ‘Gibbs-slaps’ him in the back of the head and tells him they’re in Chicago.
R.G. shakes his head.
On the Radio
Promotion of Missouri Valley Wrestling’s house shows is always Ray McAvay’s top priority.
Over the past three and half years since Ray purchased MVW, he’d worked hard to grow a loyal fanbase throughout the Midwest by barnstorming all over Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri while cultivating relationships with the local media wherever they ran shows.
Today was no exception.
McAvay, Mark Hendry and Sunny O’Callahan find themselves inside the air studio of a mid-sized Chicago radio station to promote that evening’s Chicago house show. Jay Stewart hosted a wrestling program on the radio from 2-4 in the afternoon every day and had a pretty good following.
So while Mark flirts with the pretty interns who are still in college and Ray talks to his daughter- and Chief Business Officer- Juliette on his cell phone, Sunny gets the lowdown from Stewart’s producer about the format of the show and some of the questions Jay is going to ask.
A few minutes later… it’s showtime.
Wearing headphones, the host speaks into the microphone as soon as his producer gives him the cue.
Jay Stewart: All right. It’s two o’clock and you know what that means… it’s time for another edition of the Chicago Wrestling radio show. My name is Jay Stewart and today we will start the show with three special guests from Missouri Valley Wrestling… a regional company that mainly runs in the Heartland of America including Illinois and Indiana. MVW is running the Joseph Gentile Center tonight and tickets are still on sale… we have the owner of MVW Ray McAvay with this along with Mark Hendry and Sunny O’Callahan of The Alabama Gang to talk about tonight’s big MVW show and about another big match that’s coming up this weekend.
Hendry, McAvay, and Sunny all sit together across the table from Stewart. McAvay and Hendry have coffee in front of them. Sunny’s drinking from a bottle of orange juice this morning.
Jay Stewart: Ray, Mark and Sunny, thanks for joining us today.
Mark Hendry: How’s it going, Jay?
Ray McAvay: Good to be here.
Sunny O’Callahan: Thanks for having us.
Jay Stewart: No Southern Comfort today?
Sunny O’Callahan: Nope.
Ray McAvay: She’s saving it for tonight.
Jay Stewart: Gotcha. Let’s get right to it. Mark, let’s start with you.
Hendry grimaces and braces himself.
Jay Stewart: Tonight, you will be wrestling in what is usually considered High Octane Wrestling country here in Chicago. What are your thoughts on that?
Hendry nods and speaks in a real low… reserved… restrained, almost excessively shy, tone.
Mark Hendry: HOW country? Don’t know ‘bout that. Chicago’s a great place to… ah… wrestle… you know. Don’t care, really. R.G. and I will go and do what we have to do and hopefully win.
Ray McAvay: Jay, Chicago may be a hotbed for High Octane Wrestling- and for good reason, there are also plenty of fans in Chicago who enjoy our brand of pro wrestling. We’ve developed a pretty good following in Chicago since I bought MVW with a lot of hard work and putting our feet on the ground and getting the word out.
Jay Stewart: So, what can people expect to see if they come down to the Joseph Gentile Center tonight?
Ray McAvay: Jay, in a nutshell, you’re gonna see pro wrestling.
Jay Stewart: What does that mean?
Ray McAvay: It means that’s what we do. MVW does pro wrestling and we don’t do sports entertainment. Wrestlers compete against each other in order to move up and contend for titles. That’s our number ‘story-line’, going for titles. You’re going to see wrestlers who are still learning the craft… older wrestlers looking for that one shot to the big time… and probably wrestlers who’ll never get to the show. But they’re all there… fighting tooth and nail, trying to win matches because the only way you get title shots in MVW is by becoming the #1 contender in our six divisions… Men’s and Women’s, Heartland, and Tag Team. That’s it. MVW doesn’t hand out title shots like candy on Halloween night. You earn them.
Jay Stewart: Mark, you are still relatively new to pro wrestling… I think your career is less than two years old now but you’ve had a lot of success in a short time. How did that happen?
Mark Hendry: Um… I’ve been lucky… lucky… you know. Lucky, y’know… that Ray McAvay teamed me with R.G and…
In a bar, drinking beer surrounded by buxom blondes and brunettes, Mark chirps like a bird. When Mark was hitting on an intern before the show, he talked… a lot. When they’re backstage before the show, R.G. complains that Hendry ‘never stops talking’.
Put him in the ring or any other public setting… ie…doing promotional work … cutting promos in the ring… etc… and it’s a completely different story. Mark struggles.
Mark Hendry: …uh… I’m… just… y’know… doin’ the best I can.
Actually, Mark hates it.
Sunny O’Callahan: Mark’s being modest. He’s actually doing damn good. He’s become a real beast in the ring.
Sunny didn’t share Mark’s reticence about speaking in public. Hence, one of the reasons she was brought in to be The Alabama Gang’s valet.
Ray McAvay: Mark obviously has come a long way over the past few months. He rose up from talent enhancement to becoming an integral part of a championship tag team in less than two years. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone who got a very late start to his wrestling career. Mark never wrestled in high school. He just walked in one day into Joe Bergman’s Barn and asked for a tryout and Joe took him in on the spot. Mark has learned everything so quickly in the short time he’s been wrestling… it’s actually pretty amazing.
Jay Stewart: What do you attribute that to, Mark?
Mark Hendry: Joe Bergman. Workin’ with R.G. Ray McAvay.
Jay waits to see if Hendry elaborates a little more…
…and he doesn’t. McAvay steps in.
Ray McAvay: What’s definitely helped in Mark’s development is he learned so much from working with Joe at his barn to lay the foundation. Now at MVW, he gets to work with, and learn even more about the craft, from R.G. Jenkins… a man who’s spent twenty years in pro wrestling and a man who has a ton of experience and wisdom that he can pass down to Mark.
Jay Stewart: Going back to HOW for a moment, there’s been a lot of nasty back-and-forth stuff going on right now between Lee Best and HOW and Missouri Valley Wrestling. Lee Best calling Joe Bergman and Missouri Valley Wrestling the ‘Evil Empire’ and you firing it right back at him.
Sunny reflexively rolls her eyes.
Jay Stewart: I thought MVW had a great working relationship with HOW.
Ray McAvay: We did.
Jay Stewart: What went wrong?
Ray doesn’t even bat an eye before responding.
Ray McAvay: Adam Ellis.
Jay Stewart: Adam Ellis?
Ray McAvay: Adam Ellis.
Jay Stewart: What happened?
Ray McAvay: Lee Best gave us the opening spot at the Dead or Alive pay-per-view in August last year to showcase our Men’s Title- Adam Ellis versus Darin Zion. PRIME President and CEO Lindsay Troy also just happened to be there as well and saw Adam wrestle. Lindsay Troy liked what she saw and since Lee Best hadn’t offered Adam a HOW contract, she made him an offer and he accepted.
Jay Stewart: Okay. Why wouldn’t Adam Ellis accept that offer? It’s a hell of an opportunity and he’s probably making a lot more money.
Ray McAvay: Absolutely. From Adam Ellis’s standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world. But after he signed with PRIME, Lee went bat-crap crazy, ballistic and it’s been a total sh-… er… crapshow between MVW and HOW ever since.
Jay Stewart: Have you tried to speak to Lee about this?
Ray McAvay: Pffffft.
Jay Stewart: I take it that’s a no.
Ray McAvay: I’m so over this Evil Empire crap so… no… I don’t talk to Lee anymore. My daughter Juliette handles all the business between MVW and HOW. Oh… and NEWSFLASH DAN RYAN… Juliette told Lee to go *BLEEP* himself when he tried to get the HOTv tag match moved to a HOW arena after telling us we could have the title match at one of our house shows.
Jay Stewart: Speaking of that, let’s get to the big match coming up this weekend. Sunday night in Paducah, Kentucky it will be The Alabama Gang from MVW versus Lee Best’s Final Alliance from HOW. Mark? Your thoughts?
Mark Hendry: Um… they’re good. What else do I say? They’re good. But, we ain’t gonna back down from them.
Sunny O’Callahan: Hell no.
Ray McAvay: Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr are Hall of Fame wrestlers… and rightly so. I have no problem giving them their props. They’ve had great careers. But it’s a shame that Dan and Jatt talk with so much disrespect about R.G. and Mark and about Missouri Valley Wrestling. They’re going to find out when they set foot in the Carson Convention Center… a SOLD OUT… Carson Convention Center… three thousand MVW fans… that they’re not just wrestling The Alabama Gang, they’re wrestling against EVERYONE IN THAT BUILDING. I think Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr will show up at the Carson Convention Center on Sunday all full of their piss and vinegar and they’re gonna get the surprise of their lives.
Jay Stewart: That’s all well and good, Ray. But as you said, Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr are Hall of Fame caliber wrestlers. There’s probably a reason R.G. Jenkins hasn’t made it to the big time and Mark Hendry is a green rookie learning on the job. So if The Alabama Gang lose on Sunday, will you be happy with a good effort- like the one ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson put in when he challenged John Sektor at the HOW ICONIC show in 2021?
Hendry comes to life and becomes very animated…
Mark Hendry: OH HELL NO!
…then he slams his fist down on the table.
Ray McAvay: That’s right Mark, Hell to the fu-… frickin’ NO.
Mark Hendry: WE’RE WINNING THAT DAMN MATCH ON SUNDAY!
The thunderous sonic tone of Hendry causes Stewart to remove his headphones for a second.
Sunny’s a little taken aback. She hasn’t seen Mark this animated since the night a former Playboy model gave him an extended lap dance at a strip club in Birmingham.
Mark’s face turns red.
Mark Hendry: I BECAME A PRO WRESTLER FOR THIS MOMENT! WE AIN’T GOIN’ OUT THERE FOR SOME PARTICIPATION PRIZE!
Ray’s not sure what’s happening but he’s sure going to run with it.
Ray McAvay: Yeah! Exactly. The Alabama Gang aren’t looking for a moral victory out of this. That’s not what they want.
Mark Hendry: DAMN RIGHT WE DON’T! WE’RE GONNA KICK THEIR ASSES…
Sunny puts a ‘calming’ hand on Mark’s arm to cool him down a little but he does get one more verbal salvo off…
Mark Hendry: …WE’RE GONNA KICK THEIR STUCK UP, BIG CITY, FANCY ASSES RIGHT OUT OF THE CARSON CENTER!
…and punctuates the statement by again slamming his fist down on the table causing Sunny to jump a half a foot up out of her chair.
Again, McAvay runs with it to close the deal as the interview winds down.
Ray McAvay: Damn right. Jay, I can assure you there’s no way in hell R.G. Jenkins and Mark Hendry are going to settle for anything… ANYTHING… other than retaining the HOTv Tag Team title belts… this Sunday night… in Paducah, Kentucky. If you can’t be there, watch it on HOW’s Chaos show tomorrow night on HOTv and PWA-TV. OR… tune in Tuesday night to Wrestling Night in the Heartland because we are taping the match for the show.
Saturday Night. March 25th– The Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana
“MVW… MVW… MVW…
MVW Men’s Champion ‘Redneck’ Bill Dickinson has just pinned John O’Reilly in the main event of the house show after hitting his patented Southern Fried Powerbomb.
Referee Davey Keels… who will be working the HOTv Tag match the next night in Paducah, Kentucky… raises Dickinson’s arm in victory to put an end to the show.
Or is it the end?
Normally, people would be filing en masse from their seats and heading towards the exit… and some do.
But when Adam Ellis of all people suddenly appears and rolls into the ring, a bunch of people suddenly do a quick U-turn and come back in. Ray McAvay had flown Ellis in from San Antonio, Texas where he worked PRIME’s ReVival 25 show the night before.
Soon, a chant starts…
ADAM ELL-LIS (CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP)
ADAM ELL-LIS (CLAP CLAP CLAP-CLAP-CLAP)
But it’s Sunny O’Callahan who speaks first.
She steps forward and positions herself between Ellis and Dickinson.
Sunny O’Callahan: Hey y’all.
Sunny’s attempt at sounding Southern? Not quite there- but no one really cares.
Sunny O’Callahan: R.G. and Mark weren’t here tonight because they’re in Paducah getting ready for tomorrow night but I got a few things I want to say. First off, I’m sure glad Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr are taking this match so seriously.
Just a touch of sarcasm there.
Sunny O’Callahan: Jatt Starr. Really? Is that all you’ve got? An HOTv Tag Team title match and instead of talking about the match you throw out a few third-rate insults that even Ricky Gooberdick thinks are exceedingly lame. This is a title match and you’re too busy copping third-rate comedy material and copping feels from the local skanks. I mean, I get it because that’s what I would expect from an emotionally stunted creep. Hashtag Ricky Gooberdick? How about hashtag ‘Leisure Suit Larry?”
Sunny O’Callahan: And Dan Ryan, slumming around with Leisure Suit Larry at Sheik Andy’s Bath and Bidet doing whatever sick things Leisure Suit Larry does in those types of places… while you two are clearly not taking tomorrow night’s match seriously, I can assure you that The Alabama Gang are.
The Alabama Gang are taking this match VERY SERIOUSLY. R.G. Jenkins and Mark Hendry are getting ready for the fight of their lives… the FIGHT OF THEIR PRO WRESTLING LIVES.
Sunny O’Callahan: Adam.
She points to Ellis who steps forward now.
Adam Ellis: Thanks Sunny. You know, for eight months Lee Best has carried on this shadow war with MVW over what happened last August when I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime and something I’d worked for since high school- earning a big boy pro wrestling contract. Lee Best didn’t offer me that opportunity… but Lindsay Troy did and I have no regrets about signing with them. In PRIME, you don’t get title shots just because you’re part of the owner’s alliance. In PRIME, Lindsay Troy doesn’t try to take titles off people just because she doesn’t like them. In PRIME, wrestlers don’t literally kill the other wrestlers in the ring… literally. Wrestlers don’t set other wrestlers on fire. Wrestler don’t crucify their opponents and they don’t try to blow up their rivals- in their apartments or anywhere else- either.
Adam lowers the microphone and surveys the crowd. He seems to be doing okay. Adam’s been told that he struggles with his promos and needs to add a little more panache to his presentation and learn how to sell some sizzle.
So, he’s working on it.
Adam Ellis: Now if you like that kind of thing, then HOW is definitely the wrestling company for you. My personal experience with HOW was positive. I worked with John Sektor and I learned a lot from him. BUT… but, what I saw on last week’s Chaos was a disgrace. A bunch of over-aged ‘men’ banding together, trying to relive their college fraternity days, complete with wearing matching varsity letter jackets and hazing other wrestlers… I mean… giving out swirlies and peeing on the plebes… wonderful.
Adam shakes his head.
Adam Ellis: Lee, I just want to say this… thank you.
Adam Ellis: Thank you for confirming that I want to be a pro wrestler.
Adam Ellis: Thank you for confirming I DON’T want to be a sports entertainer.
Adam Ellis: And thank you for confirming that I made the right decision to sign with PRIME.
Adam Ellis: I hope the Alabama Gang tears your Final Alliance a new one tomorrow night.
Ellis pumps his fist in the air as Sunny walks to the ropes and leans forward.
Sunny O’Callahan: It took three men… Dan Ryan… Leisure Suit Larry… and Scott Stevens to defeat Joe Bergman two weeks ago at March to Glory.
Sunny O’Callahan: Dan and Jatt. We’re gonna find out just what happens when it’s actually a FAIR fight and Daddy Lee’s not there to send down the brute squad to save your asses.
Sunny O’Callahan: In fact, Ray McAvay is so determined to make sure you boys get the fair fight that Joe Bergman didn’t get at March to Glory, he’s decided to give you boys your own very special dressing room to keep the other MVW wrestlers… who may taken offense at some of the things you’ve said about them… away from you.
Sunny points to the video screen.
The video fires up to show there’s a fancy, expensive special Hollywood-style dressing trailer that’s set upright next to the Carson Convention Center.
Sunny O’Callahan: Oh wait. That’s the Kardoucheian Empire’s dressing trailer. This is yours.
She points to the video screen again and the picture changes to what appears to be a small pop-up camper situated next to the convention center and surrounded by MVW Security.
Sunny O’Callahan: Enjoy the amenities, boys.
The shot then zooms in on the two portable toilets situated next to the pop-up camper.
Sunny O’Callahan: We’ll see you tomorrow night in Paducah.
Sunny raises the Southern Comfort bottle in the air as we fade to black.