Standing alone in a Missouri Valley Wrestling ring inside the York, Nebraska high school gymnasium- home of the Dukes in case you’re wondering, and gazing at the dark blue and silver mat off to the side with ‘DUKES’ lettered against a dark background, Rah contemplates what he’s about to do next. He’s just won his first match back after defeating High Flyer at Bottomline and seemingly putting an end to his work by proxy between Rah and former employee Sunny O’Callahan. Of course, the events that took place on October 25th instigated by O’Callahan threw Rah’s retirement plans right into the dumpster. MVW Owner Ray McAvay did Rah a solid by booking a last-minute match at a MVW house show to get Rah some much needed ring time before Rumble at the Rock.
The goal of the evening was to make sure that Rah could make it through a match. His leg suffered a small hairline crack from the impact of Sunny O’Callahan’s SUV but did not take the direct hit that Dawn McGill took. He got the medical okay earlier in the week to give it a shot and McAvay graciously booked the match for the house show
So with Dawn out of the hospital and hanging out backstage with McAvay, Rah steeled himself and prepared to do something he absolutely does not like to do- cut a promo. And not just cut a promo. No, Rah was going to cut a promo in front of a live audience. There was only one reason and one reason only why he would do this.
Not of wrestling. But of her.
As the Sunshine God raised the microphone up towards his mouth, Rah’s mind drifted back in time to nearly two weeks ago at the Cleveland Clinic…
* * *
“The Cleveland Clinic is one of the most prestigious treatment facilities in the country. It is the pinnacle of excellence in the field of science and medicine and home to several nationally renowned doctors forging the cutting edge in the fight against cancer…” a female voice droned over the hospital’s public address system.
…with a pair of automatic doors that open and a pizza delivery driver, her black trench coat flowing from the wind outside, striding through the entrance.
The driver removed her sunglasses with her left hand and balanced two large pizzas with the other. Once that task was completed, she headed into the main lobby of the hospital where she encountered several lines of pedestrian traffic streaming like a busy interstate highway to and from a large, white information desk and a volunteer who served as the gatekeeper to the rest of the hospital. The volunteer saw the pizza driver and gestured with her left hand to the elevators. The pizza driver nodded and carefully merged into the heavy traffic traveling down the hall towards the east wing of the hospital. She arrived at an elevator and pressed the ‘up’ button with her free hand. Then she gazed up at the LED display above the elevator and counted down the numbers until “G” appeared.
The doors opened and the occupants on the elevator filed out one by one. The pizza driver carefully entered and was joined by four other people inside. The doors promptly closed and the elevator began to move. A few seconds later, the lift arrived at her floor and stopped. She exited the elevator when the door slid open and read a prominent wall sign on the wall greeting her that directed traffic towards the nurse’s station. She glanced over. The station sat some twenty feet down the hall. The pizza driver set off towards the station and as the driver approached, a large, heavy-set woman wearing a set of light blue fatigues and a stethoscope around her neck, rose from her chair.
“Pizza!” she exclaimed, much to the happiness of the other nurses on the floor.
After exchanging the pizza for cash and a generous tip, the pizza driver waved goodbye and turned to make her way back towards the elevators.
Opening the top box of pizza and basking in the warmth of the heat rising up from the pie, the nurse cleared her throat and said to no one in particular, “Before we get too carried away here, someone needs to do their rounds.”
One of the nurses popped right up from her chair.
“Cherie?” the nurse said. She held up a clipboard containing a thick pile of paperwork. “And take a couple of pieces of pizza down to room 545. I don’t think the husband in the room has eaten in a week”
Nurse Cherie, a thin, petite blond who weighed no more than ninety pounds, grabbed a bunch of charts and a plate with two pieces of pizza, and started down the hall. “I’ll take care of it.”
A few minutes later, the door to room 545 in the slowly opened and a thin bar of light illuminated the far wall. Nurse Cherie poked her head in.
She opened the door further and went into the room. Going up to the bed, she noticed under the blankets, tethered to a myriad of IVs, and other various monitors, lay a forty-one-year-old woman who’d been in the hospital for a week after getting struck by random driver in a SUV following a Jimmy Buffett concert.
The nurse also noticed that the TV was on and showing a replay of HOW’s Refueled 75 but the occupant of a chair facing the TV screen watching High Octane Wrestling’s Refueled 75 on HOTv with the volume turned down,
“Rah. Are you awake?”
Rah’s wan and tired face managed a weak smile and a tiny nod.
“Good.” Nurse Cherie put the plate with two pieces of pizza on the table by Rah. “Please, have something to eat.” She went over and checked McGill’s vital signs. The small light above the bed reflected off her badge and temporarily blinded Rah.
“Oh. Sorry about that, sweetie.”
On an adjacent end table sat a duffel bag containing a week’s worth of clothes. The nurses had offered to have Rah’s laundry washed but the Sunshine God declined. Dawn’s ex-husband and Rah’s friend Ray McAvay and friend Joe Bergman also offered to help Rah with his laundry when they stopped in and visited Rah at the hospital. Rah declined and instead he kept a steady vigil at Dawn’s bed side waiting for her to wake up.
He relived the moment over and over in his mind. He remembered trying to pull himself up after McGill shoulder blocked him clear of the fast-moving oncoming vehicle. He tried to get back to his feet but he felt severe pain in his leg- struck earlier by the SUV on the first pass through.
He saw everything that happened next in slow motion. Dawn closed her eyes at the last second. The SUV struck and propelled her through the air for what appeared to be an eternity before she landed in a grassy area some twenty-five feet away, tumbling a few more feet further before she finally came to rest.
The last thing Rah saw before he lost consciousness was the red lights of the SUV driving off into the darkness followed by several people forming a circle around him and asking him if he was okay. Then everything went dark.
Nurse Cherie wrote down the last of Dawn’s vital signs and turned to Rah. “Is there anything I can get you?” she asked.
The nurse’s voice jolted Rah back to the present. Rah’s eyes then transfixed on the television. Q.T. Reese was defending the HOTv title against Brian Hollywood- and not having his best night. In fact, Hollywood had just spun Reese around and booted him in the gut. Front face lock. Then Hollywood spiked Reese to the mat with a move he called ‘Basic Instinct.’
Nurse Cherie bent over closer to Rah’s face. “Rah? Are you sure there’s nothing we can get for you?”
“Rah is fine.” His right hand formed a thumbs up sign.
The nurse nodded and smiled.
“Very good.” Nurse Cherie then made her way towards the door. “I’ll be back in later to check on your wife.”
Just after the nurse left the room, business began to pick up on Refueled 75.
Sunny O’Callahan gets greeted with a wall of jeers from the HOW fans in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The woman of the moment- the one responsible for all this- shows up on screen. Rah remains stoic at the sight of Sunny.
“Did I do that?” Sunny says in a Steve Urkel-like voice that only serves to incite the crowd even more.
O’Callahan claims that because of her, HOW fans got a pay per view moment at the end of the previous week’s show. The fans show their appreciation throwing debris into the ring.
“No, no,” O’Callahan sneers. “You’re welcome. You are all welcome!”
Rah knew what was about to happen next. The morning of the show, he’d taken a flight to Albuquerque on to appear on the Refueled 75 show- it was the first time he’d left Dawn’s side since the accident.
“So Rah, I know you’re here tonight. Stop hiding and come out here and do the right thing. Say yes,” Sunny said, trying to goad the Sunshine God into coming out. “Say yes to the moment I… Sunny O’Callahan… am creating right here, right now. Say yes to facing High Flyer at Rumble at the Rock. Say yes so everyone can watch Jack Harmen kick your pathetic ass all over Alcatraz.”
He went to Albuquerque for one reason- to officially set the match for Rumble at the Rock with High Flyer. Sunny was right. The moment of truth had arrived. Rah knew the only way he could respond to Sunny’s attack was to challenge and then destroy High Flyer at Rumble at the Rock. That was the only way he could shoot down her plans again. As soon as the show ended, Rah immediately left and caught a red-eye flight back to Cleveland and returned to his wife’s bedside soon after.
“Oh come on Rah. Look, so I may have bumped your wife with my car. It’s just a few scratches… and a couple of broken bones.…”
Stoked by Sunny’s taunts, Rah could feel the fire in his belly. What Sunny did went way beyond the pale. Yes. This was High Octane Wrestling. Yes. People have ‘died’ in HOW. People have had horrible things happen to them.
But that was not Rah’s way. It was not Rah’s thing.
“Jesus, it’s not like I set her on fire or anything-“
While Sunny impatiently waited for any sign of Rah, a young blonde woman who resembled Dawn McGill hopped over the barricade and floored Sunny with a forearm shot to the face.
Benny Newell screams into the microphone, “DAWN McGILL!”
Benny’s high-pitched screech pierced the room. Almost on cue, Dawn’s eyes began to flicker.
“No. Can’t be. She’s still laid up in the hospital for at least another week or so,” Joe Hoffman replies. “THAT’S HER DAUGHTER!”
Dawn’s head slowly moved side to side. Her good arm showed movement as well.
The crowd roars as Victoria pummels Sunny with right hands.
Dawn’s hand patted the bed, looking for something. She finally pats the call button and grasped the call button to the nurse’s station.
Victoria slams Sunny’s head repeatedly into the top turnbuckle.
Dawn pressed down on the button.
The sound of the buzzer caused Rah to jump in his chair.
Joe Hoffman shouts into the microphone, “GUTWRENCH FACEBUSTER! “
His head jerks towards the bed.
Then he sees her open eyes trying to focus.
Missouri Valley Wrestling House Show
York High School Gymnasium
Friday October 15th, 2021
Even though earlier in the show Ray McAvay had come out and promised a ‘special attraction’ match, the 1500 crammed into the cozy York High School gym couldn’t believe their eyes when the opening riffs to Jimmy Buffett’s ‘License to Chill’ began to play. Rah walked out from the back accompanied by Barbie-Q and his followers- the ex-Arizona State selfie-taking sorority sisters.
His opponent, the oddly-dressed Bob Zardoz- a wrestler with a plaited pony-tail and dressed in the same scarlet mankini outfit Sean Connery’s ‘Zardoz’ character wore in the 1974 cult classic movie.
How did Rah do? Yes, he was rusty at the beginning seeing as the last time Rah set foot in the ring was at Bottomline. But Rah, bolstered and fueled by the fans- and by the usually ambivalent and distracted former sorority girls crowding around the ring shouting out encouragement to the Sunshine God, come on strong as the match wore on. Then the finish.
Rah peered out at his faithful worshipers. With a slight nod of the head, he signaled that it was time to sacrifice his opponent for the Temple of the Sunshine God. He placed Zardoz’s head between his legs and looked towards the heavens of the York High School gymnasium with arms outstretched and tonight soaking in the praise and worship of his followers.
He glanced at the selfie-taking ex-sorority girls first. Usually, the followers completely ignore Rah and generally continued to take selfies. However tonight, similar to the night Rah faced Mike Best for the HOW World title earlier this year, the girls are fully engaged and standing on the ring apron and cheering him on.
Then Rah looked over at Sports Entertainment Barbie. Normally, she’ll be doing any number of different things such as filing her nails, painting her nails, fixing her hair, or fixing her makeup. Not tonight. Again, like the Mike Best match, Barbie stood on the apron and urged Rah on. She turned to the Missouri Valley Wrestling fans on hand tonight, raised a defiant fist in the air, and shouted out, “COME ON!”
Finally Rah gazed towards the crowd. He saw every single person inside the gym standing on their feet and cheering. Momentarily overcome by the adulation, Rah took an extra few seconds to receive the necessary strength from his faithful, let out a primal scream, and literally tried to slam poor Zardoz through the mat.
The three count was academic. But what caught everyone off guard was the fact that following ring announcer Kimber Marshall’s official pronouncement of Rah as the winner and that piece of business of getting back into the ring was complete, the Sunshine God asks for a microphone to speak.
As Kimber exits the ring, a HOTv camera man climbs in to film what the Sunshine God has to say.
Rah: This type of talking is not Rah’s thing so please bear with Rah.
Rah’s demeanor? Very uncertain. Again, this is not his thing.
Rah: First, Rah thanks each and every one of you.
The Sunshine God pauses as the crowd makes so much noise that Rah can’t speak over it. Barbie comes over and gives him a hug. The followers all take selfies of themselves and Rah. Finally, he raises his regal hand so he can get through this.
Rah: Thank you. Rah feels the love here tonight. And that’s the only reason I’m in this ring right now. Love.
Again, the noise is loud enough that Rah gives it a few seconds until the decibel level is low enough for him to speak.
Rah: There is someone backstage. She doesn’t want to come out tonight but… she’s the reason Rah in this ring right now. Rah wouldn’t have come close to defeating Michael Lee Best, Sutler Reynolds-Kael, and Jace Parker Davidson this year if it weren’t for her. She is the inspiration. She is the light, the sunshine in Rah’s life. But Rah does not feel the light right now because someone tried to take it away from Rah. Four weeks ago, Sunny O’Callahan attempted to run over Rah and eventually struck my wife, Dawn McGill, the light of Rah’s life, with her SUV. She was unconscious for a week. She finally was released from the hospital this week. And she will be flying with Rah to Los Angeles, California after tonight’s show to take care of some ‘personal’ business tomorrow night at HOW’s Refueled 77.
More applause follows. Rah nods but now his face begins to exude an intensity not normally associated with the Sunshine God.
Rah: Sunny O’Callahan. You’ve tried to take over Rah’s operations. You incited Rah into a feud with Sutler Reynolds-Kael by spewing outright lies. You sued Rah and falsely accused Rah of having a ‘hostile workplace.’ You enlisted High Flyer in your never-ending war against Rah. You tried to commit vehicular homicide against Rah and his wife. Sunny, at Rumble at the Rock, it ends. Rah may not be able to exact the price you must pay from you directly so at Rumble at the Rock Rah will exact that price from the man you’ve duped into being your champion- High Flyer. Make no mistake, High Flyer has made a mistake of falling for your lies and Rah will make him pay the price by destroying High Flyer at Rumble at the Rock.
The HOTv camera guy does a quick panoramic view of the MVW fans inside the York High School gymnasium as they listen to Rah speak.
Rah: High Flyer. Let Rah regale you with a tale about a man and woman who were both driven by the temptation of power and riches and sought out the most holiest of Grails. The man and woman found the location where the Grail was but discovered that the true Grail was hidden among dozens of false grails. Where the true Grail granted eternal life, the false ones comes with death. The woman selected a most glorious Grail, all sparkly and shiny, and handed it to the man. The man drank from the grail and soon realized the woman chose the wrong cup as he suddenly aged at an exponentially rapid rate and crumbled into dust. Instead, he should have drank from a simple clay cup that proved to be the true Grail. The woman tried to take the Grail and leave but the guardian of the Grail, an immortal knight, warned that the Grail couldn’t be taken out of the temple. The woman disregarded the knight’s warning and attemped to take the Grail with her. The temple collapsed and the Grail fell into a chasm in the floor. But still, the woman tried to reach for the Grail and plummeted to her death.
Backstage at the York High School gymnasium.
Leaning on a crutch and chatting with ex-husband and former HOW World Champion Ray McAvay and former two-time HOW World Champion Joe Bergman backstage, Dawn’s heard Rah’s promo and turns to McAvay
Dawn McGill: Tell me that wasn’t that the plot synopsis of the climactic scene at the end of the third Indiana Jones movie.
Casting quick glances at each other, McAvay and Bergman shrug.
Dawn brushes a stray piece of hair from her eyes.
Dawn McGill: Oh vey.
Back to the gym.
Rah continues as the crowd’s silent and listening attentively.
Rah: Clearly, they chose poorly. The sad thing here is High Flyer has chosen badly too. In the battle of light and darkness, High Flyer has chosen the wrong side and at Rumble at the Rock, Rah will lead High Flyer back to the light. At Rumble at the Rock, Rah will put an end to this once and for and all wash away the darkness like…
Rah pauses for a moment and tries to find the right words to put his thoughts in perspective.
Rah: … just like a mop cleaning a kitchen floor. Because we all know the floor sometimes gets all dirty and stuff and you simply have to clean it out. You have to stick that mop on the dirt and stuff, wipe it clean, rinse it off, and start over again. And sometimes, dirt- like darkness sometimes- well, it just sticks to the floor so much that a mop’s just not good enough. Do you want to know what you have to do then? You have to get a toothbrush and you really have to scrub that darkness away because you have to get rid of the darkness and bring people back to the light. But good people of York, Nebraska, if that doesn’t work, well, you can’t give up. You’ve got to stand up. You’ve got to run to a window, open it up, and shout to the world: “Hey, there’s a lot of darkness in this world and my floor is dirty as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!
Backstage at the York High School gymnasium.
Dawn’s eyes are wide, wide open.
Dawn McGill: That’s the Stanley Spadowski speech from the movie UHF, isn’t it?
Dawn shifts a little to keep her balance on the crutch.
Ray nods in the affirmative.
Joe Bergman: Look. We all know cutting promos isn’t Rah’s forte.
Ray McAvay: And at least he’s doing it here and not in a HOW ring.
Dawn McGill: But he’s doing it in front of a HOTv camera. I know what happens next.
Dawn hands the crutch off to Bergman.
Dawn McGill: I should probably go out there before he quotes the monologue in the movie Tombstone where Kurt Russell says to the bad guy-
She doesn’t finish the line.
Rah’s voice: …you tell High Flyer I’m coming and hell’s coming with me, you hear? HELL’S COMING WITH ME!
Too late. Dawn exhales.
Ray and Joe take in the awkward moment for what it is… awkward.
Dawn McGill: Yeah. I better go out there.
She limps noticeably with the air cast on her left leg and boot on her left foot and walks through the curtain.
McAvay and Bergman both hear the crowd’s reaction as they realize that McGill is heading towards the ring.
Bergman peeks out from the back. He sees the crowd on their feet as McGill hobbles out. She raises a hand to acknowledge the fans. Joe turns back to McAvay to make a quick comment.
Joe Bergman: She just loves this.
McAvay looks out from the back. Dawn has her arm around Rah. He shakes his head back at Joe.
Ray McAvay: No Joe. She loves him.