“Jesus Christ, you have LOST YOUR DAMNED MIND!”
An unreasonable amount of disdain hangs in the air like water vapor, as several gallons of outraged spittle flies from the mouth of James Cornfield, the owner, booker, and sole proprietor of Pro Wrestling: Assault. His face hovers over top of a fancy looking antique wooden desk, staring down at a cellular telephone that is set to speaker.
He’s clearly very upset.
This is not an unusual occurence– assuming even an iota of optimism from the carmudgeonly wrestling promotor is akin to spitting into the wind during a tornado. Even still, he seems to be in a particular sour mood this afternoon, and the reason why won’t surprise you.
“A FUCKING GIRL?” Jimmy shouts into the phone, the angry vein popping out in his forehead. “You booked him against a FUCKING GIRL?”
The man on the other side of the call is silent for a moment, possibly debating about whether to answer the rhetorical question or just hang up the phone outright. In the end, he choses the former– by definition, half of his job is answering stupid questions.
He is the CEO, after all.
“Uh, yeah.” Michael answers, dryer than desert heat. “It’s 2022, Jim. They can vote now and everything. Wild, right?”
Cornfield furrows his brow.
“Oh come on,” he sighs. “Don’t gimme that bullshit. Don’t make this a sexist thing, cause it ain’t. He’s fix foot fuckin’ six and three bills, he’s gonna make minced meat out of her. Just cause you wanna stick your little pecker in the talent pool and you’re testing the waters with a title shot don’t mean we need to make a mockery of the whole damned wrestling business. Won’t be nothin’ left of her for you to sexually harass!”
Another silence from the other end, followed by the faintest chuckle.
“I’m a professional.” Michael answers, still not selling for him. “So don’t you give me that bullshit. Literally every Fisher Price wrestler is the hottest human being you’ve ever met in your life, for some reason… Noelle was signed for her talent. And I think you know that, which is why you’re hiding behind this Archie Bunker bullshit that got tired fifteen seconds after you got here. We get it, Jim, you like WRASSLIN.”
The expression on Cornfield’s face is flatter than flapjacks on an ironing board, as his pursed lips stare into the screen. He snatches the phone off of the desk, furiously smashing the speaker button and putting the phone back to his ear.
“Now you listen here, you little stinkfuck.” Jimmy snarls. “I couldn’t tell you the first fuckin’ thing ABOUT this broad but her cup size. Ain’t a lick of evidence she exists on the website in the first place. No bio. No history. Not so much as a sniff of her fuckin’ theme music, so pardon me if I don’t assume that you signed her for her technical prowess. You are sending my client in BLIND against Little Bo Fuckin PEEP and if he loses this match, he–”
The promoter’s voice catches in his throat, as he realizes his mistake.
He said the quiet part out loud.
Noelle Rivers could be the single greatest wrestling talent on God’s green earth, but in the eyes of James Cornfield, a loss to a girl is a humiliation. A source of mockery. The kind of thing that gets a kid made fun of for four straight years, because Marsha Crenshaw punched him in the face once during recess and he never lived down the shame amongst the other children. Maybe that example sounds a little too specific, but that’s because it’s the example flashing across his frontal cortext like a giant, neon sign.
By the time he realizes he’s said it, it’s already too late.
“Alright.” Michael answers quietly, after a moment.
The CEO of High Octane Wrestling clears his throat, washing away all hint of professionalism or tact that was previously trapped in it. His words turn cold, and the niceties are over.
“How about you listen here?” Michael’s tone is tinged with acid. “I don’t give a ratfuck about you, your little twenty five cent carny operation, the stick up your ass about my father, or whatever weird, repressed issues you have because your mommy either hugged you too much or not enough. You don’t work for HOW. I don’t even have to let you into the fucking arenas. But that big, red Lenny you’ve got petting the rabbits in my fucking company is the HOTv Champion, and he has a duty to defend that belt. Every week. Until he fucking loses it.”
“But I–” Cornfield interjects, feeling his steam beginning to fade. “You can’t just–”
He is interrupted, rather snidely.
“Can’t just what, Jim?” Best asks, mockingly. “Can’t just book your Big Maroon Machine into routine title matches against active roster members? Cause I think… I THINK… that’s literally my fucking job. I offered you guys HOW contracts. You told me to go fuck myself. So you either wrestle Noelle Rivers– an accomplished fucking wrestler– or you take your stupid ass RV back to Who Gives A Fuck, Georgia and let that gargantuan lump of generic wrestle BIG STRONG MEN in front of twenty people for a ten cent title belt. We clear?”
Cornfield is, for the first time, speechless.
“It’s rhetorical, dickhead.” Best grunts. “Get your boy ready, Jim. She’s fucking good.”
Before the promoter can angrily hang up the phone, the CEO of High Octane Wrestling beats him to the punch, ending the call on his own last word. James pulls the phone away from his face, staring down at the now dark screen in disgust. He chucks the whole damned thing onto the couch near his desk, his eyes fixated blankly on the empty wall in front of him.
“Fuckin’ prick.” Jimmy mutters, to no one. “Ain’t worth the load his daddy wasted in a Motel , and now he’s a goddamned CEO.”
He lifts his glass of scotch off the desk, taking a long sip. The bottle was supposed to be meant for a special occassion– a gift of partnership between himself and Michael Oliver Best, literally the only Best in the universe that he doesn’t want to ruthlessly murder with a belt sander. It’s smooth on the way down, but his stomach already feels sick.
He didn’t need the patronizing reminder.
…he knows she’s fucking good.
Of course she is. She was trained by Vincent and Vhodka Black. You don’t caravan around the fucking indies for twenty years without seeing the two of them burn the world to the ground, much less hear about the legends that follow them. It was one thing to stick Nelson in there with half-cocked cult leader and watch him retain… you can do that on size alone. A death row inmate at March to Glory? Sure, he was a tough son of a bitch, but he wasn’t trained to be a wrestler.
Noelle Rivers was the Real Deal™.
You can stick Dumbo in a mask, but he’s still the elephant in the room. Nelson Jones didn’t develop some kind of superhuman abilities when he became GenoSyde, he just became confident enough to go out there without tripping over his own feet. He didn’t suddenly throw a better suplex, or get better psychology in the ring. He didn’t develop the magical ability to cinch up on a sleeper hold, so that he wasn’t just some kind of uber-violent backpack hanging off his goddamned opponent. The truth of it was that no matter how hard James Cornfield worked to present GenoSyde as an unstoppable monster… he was stoppable.
He wasn’t really that great in the ring.
You don’t middle on the indies for fourteen years in a mask, wrestling in front of the same twelve people who show up every Saturday, because you’re the world’s greatest athlete. He was tough as nails, strong as an ox, and had a love for the business of professional wrestling like no other kid that Cornfield had ever seen, but he didn’t have any chops. No technicaly ability whatsoever. For fuck’s sake, ninety seven percent of his offense was made up of various forms of Canadian Destroyer. And up against Noelle Rivers? Up against the protege of two of the greatest indepenedent wrestlers in the world?
“Nothin’ Canadian about it.” Jimmy snorts, in digust. “He’ll just get destroyed.”
James Cornfield had been wrong about a fair few things in his life, but not about that. He’d bought an awful lot of Dogecoin, because his nephew told him it was going “to Mars” or something like that. He’d never thought much about all that Apple stock his broker told him to buy in the 1990s. He’d passed up on a chance to sign Benny Newell to a wrestling contract in the early 2000s, because he’d “never amount to shit in the wrestling business”. Fortunately for James Cornfield, this was another one of those times he was about as wrong as a human being could be. Yeah, Nelson Jones was a fucking bum…
But GenoSyde wasn’t.
And he was slowly becoming a lot more than just a mask.
Nelson Jones: Alright, video diary day six. Here goes nothing.
The camera is shaky at first, as he awkwardly tries to rest it in the holder on his nightstand. It’s an odd look for the HOTv Champion– all six feet, six inches of him are sitting upright at the edge of his bed, still clad in a pair of plain grey sweatpants and an ill-fitting Iron Maiden t-shirt.
He’s even still wearing his socks.
The man sleeps in socks.
Nelson Jones: I listened to the video again. The one about lucid dreaming. I’m supposed to fall asleep with it on, and then record everything that I can remember dreaming about. I guess it’s supposed to help me… I don’t know. Figure all this shit out.
He shuffles his socked feet awkwardly on the floor, looking at them. Even in the presence of his own face in a forward facing cell phone camera, he doesn’t seem eager to make eye contact.
Nelson Jones: He was there again, in the dream. Same one I’ve been having all week. I tried to explain it to Jimmy, but I don’t think he got it… he thinks I’m dreaming about myself, but like… it’s not myself, ya know? It’s… GenoSyde. Like, he’s dressed like me. Same pants, boots, hoodie, the mask… all of it. But the face underneath… I don’t even think there’s a face. Just eyes. Like an emotion with eyes. Fuck, describing dreams sounds so stupid but… it’s like… the idea of GenoSyde.
He shakes his head, running his hands through his long, greasy hair.
Every inch of his body hurts. It doesn’t behoove a man his size to be piledriving his opponents with front flips off turnbuckles, but that’s what he’d apparently spent all night doing at Refueled this week. It was all still hazy, but he remembered sailing through the air. Remembered the sickening crunch when they’d hit the canvas. Remembered the ringing of the bell.
Kind of. Sort of.
It was like a dream.
Nelson Jones: I keep doing what the videos tell me to do. Reality checks throughout the day. Asking myself if I’m dreaming, while I know I’m awake. Looking at my hands. I guess it’s supposed to put that stuff into my subconscious, so that I start doing it in my dreams. The video says that once you realizing you’re dreaming, you can take control. Stop being a passenger. Fuck if that isn’t what I want to do more than anything in the world…
He glances toward the other side of the bed, a certain sadness in his voice.
Nelson Jones: …stop being a passenger.
He comes to rest his faze upon the mask, which lays limp on the pillow he’d just slept on. It was the first thing that he’d seen upon opening his eyes this morning, and it had practically send a jolt down his spine. He didn’t remember putting it there the night before. I mean… he must have, right?
Just can’t remember. That’s all.
Nelson Jones: Anyway. I think I’m getting closer, but I’m still just watching. Even though it’s through my own eyes, they aren’t… lucid. It’s the same stupid dream every time. He’s just standing there, in the middle of this field. He won’t move. Won’t talk. Won’t do… anything. I can feel him being so fucking angry, but he won’t talk to me. Won’t tell me why he’s there. Like he’s this fucking ball of rage inside of me, but we can’t talk to eachother. I don’t talk, and he doesn’t talk, and it’s just this quiet, insane fucking silence. And then… I wake up.
Nelson Jones: Every single night.
Closing his eyes, the giant rubs his fingers into the sides of his temples, trying to shake himself out of the funk that he’s woken up in. The same funk he’d been waking up in for months. He’d tried every goddamned anti-depressent on the market, it felt like… they did a great job of murdering his boners dead, but they didn’t seem to improve his mood. The Gabapentin sure helped the pain in his nerves, but it didn’t do anything about the pain in his soul. Even the weed only does so much to help you forget…
…then it puts you right back into the slump you started in.
There was only one way to fix this. GenoSyde was on a roll… since he and Ivy had split, the monster had managed to capture the HOTv Championship and even defended the damned thing. But he was unbridled. Uncaged. Undisciplined. Nelson knew what to do in the ring, but he didn’t have the talent… GenoSyde had the talent, but no idea what to do with it. Sooner or later, if one side of his brain didn’t start talking to the other… goodbye championship. Goodbye HOW.
Nelson Jones: Tonight I’m gonna set an alarm for five hours after I go to sleep. It’s supposed to help me activate my… prefrontal… something? I don’t know, I’m supposed to wake up and then stay awake for a half hour, then go back to sleep. Like, it’ll confuse my brain into being awake in my dreams. I don’t know, maybe it’s all bullshit. But if I can just get lucid long enough to talk to him, find out what he wants. Find out how we can work together… maybe if I can take control of my dreams…
He takes a deep breath, finally looking up at his own image in the camera.
Nelson Jones: I can take control of GenoSyde, once and for all.