I’m starting to sympathize with Sisyphus.
That classical Greek myth, Sisyphus. A king who cheated death, sentenced to spend eternity, rolling a boulder up a hill, only to see it roll back down again, just at the moment that it reached the top of the hill.
It’d been a hell of a long time since I had been behind bars. It’s one of those things in this business, like an occupational safety hazard. They could probably sell insurance to wrestlers - something, at some point, is going to land you behind bars...pay this monthly premium, and you’re protected when some jackass tries to back up his big mouth and manages to break his jaw on your fist. Jail insurance to the rescue.
Like I said, though, it’d been a hot minute for me. I, more or less, had been able to keep myself out of trouble. In my younger days, it was the typical stuff. Man at bar thinks he is tough. Man at bar decides to prove he is tough. Man at bar is not so fucking tough... but this particular day I found myself in the drunk tank, thinking about Sisyphus.
There’s a lot of different theories as to what Sisyphus was supposed to represent. Some scholars saw him as the sun, rising every day in the east and then sinks into the west. Others still saw this struggle as the rising and falling tides, the personification of waves rising and falling, or of the treacherous sea.
Regardless of your interpretation, it’s clear that Sisyphus is not getting that rock up that hill any time soon. His struggle to get the boulder to the summit is a futile endeavour; by its very nature, the task is impossible, and despite that, he’s condemned to continue it throughout all eternity.
Why? Because it’s what he has to do.
I had been wandering around Halifax that evening, a black eye and a fat lip tacked on to the normal litany of bumps and bruises, scrapes and scars that riddled my body on a normal day. I had taken my lumps. I hadn’t protested or stopped them; it was my penance.
Two words had started this all: “He’s gone.”
Uncle Jack. Stroke, to car accident, to induced coma, to grave. It was in this morose mood that I found myself in a bar, staring at the bottom of a bottle, contemplating the absurd.
I had walked out of the hospital room; for some reason, I had been given power of attorney. The doctors said it was senseless to prolong the inevitable, that Jack didn’t have any life of any quality left; that he was going to be in a vegetative state, at best.
So I made the decision. I pulled the plug, and I walked out of the room, met my brother’s eyes, and said those two words. “He’s gone.”
Like I said, I took my lumps like a man. It wasn’t my place to do anything different. He deserved the chance to do what he needed to do. To punish me for sins, both real and imagined. I mean, it was futile, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?
French philosopher Albert Camus introduced the concept of the absurd; the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and human inability to find any due to actual lack of any meaning or value. Much like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill, it is a futile effort, thrust upon us by fate.
Camus argued, however, that Sisyphus must be ultimately happy. He saw Sisyphus as a sort of absurd hero, faced with a futile, impossible task, doomed to repeat it for all eternity. He argues that the struggle itself is enough; that striving towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart.
See, my Sisyphean task isn’t its own reward. The reward comes in spite of the fact that the work of an honest man in this bullshit, backstabbing, high school business is never done. I take out the poor man’s Jarvis King for the Paramount title and have to chase down my physical belt for weeks at a time.
Finally, I get my belt back, and I’m face-to-face with a piece of carny garbage. End his career, and then there’s an old man, trying to live out some sort of fantasy that he was ever relevant, let alone capable of keeping up today.
Boulder goes up the hill, boulder goes down the hill. Every damn time.
Take out The Ringmaster, there’s old man Harley Hodge. Beat Hodge down and take the Jace Valentine-shaped trash out at the same time, lo and behold, Hodge is still around, knocking at my door like we have a fucking appointment. Hell, Hodge is still around, causing a headache for the Aces now, no doubt.
And now, what’s my reward? What do I get for being the CWF’s longest tenured champion, its greatest of all time, its home-grown hero? Certainly there must be some sort of recompense for the trials and tribulations that I’ve gone through as a competitor here. Surely the company must have something in mind for its greatest son. It only makes sense!
Here I’ve been, forced to face off against a litany of lesser competitors, some cosplaying as Jarvis King, some living out their mid-life crises on live TV, all amongst the usual cabal of people who simply don’t deserve to lace my boots - your Kemsey Ramseys, your Ringmasters - surely, if nothing else, I was owed an actual reward for all of my hard work, sacrifice and success.
Imagine my shock when I saw the upcoming booking sheet for Evolution. Imagine the bubbling bile in the pit of my stomach when I saw the match that I was set to compete in. Imagine the frustration, the anger, the unmitigated rage that I saw, looking at those three lines of text on the page.
Jarvis King versus The Shadow
Winner gets an opportunity at the WCWA World Title
Imagine it. Like, really, let it sink in, because honestly as I sat under the oppressive fluorescent lights in the Halifax police station, I kept on trying to do so myself and it didn’t ever seem to register. Nothing about it made a lick of any sort of sense.
Here I am, the CWF’s longest reigning champion. The guy who has more titles to his name, more records set, more accolades achieved than anyone in CWF history, and this is what I get for my troubles. Not a reward. Hell, not even a title shot. A shot at a shot against, once again, a lesser man.
It’s absurd - and not, this time, in the Camus sense.
The World Class Wrestling Association is supposed to be about bringing the best representatives of the individual member companies together to try to dictate and discover who is the best amongst them. You can measure that however you really want to, but ultimately when it’s all said and done, you do not stack up your top two competitors and have one of them be me - the obvious choice - and another be him.
It’s illogical. It’s unreasonable. It’s absurd.
See, when you think of CWF’s best, you don’t think of the litany of nobodies like Ramsey who have tried to establish themselves in this company, only to fail. You don’t think of the old-timers like Hodge who simply don’t have it anymore, if they ever had it at all. You think of the one guy who has stood eye to eye with each and every one of them, and the guy who has seen each and every one of them blink.
The cell door opened, and a bored-looking duty cop peered in.
“King!” he shouted, wholly unnecessarily as I was the only inhabitant of the tank. “Public drunkenness? Jesus Christ man, you’re too old for this.” He shook his head. “Anyhow,” he continued as I stared at him, unanswering, “you’ve been bailed out. Free to go.”
I walked through the door to see Elizabeth, on her phone, already beginning arrangements.
So I’m forced to waste my time with Shadow? I’ll make him pay for it, then.
I’ll make him pay for having the audacity to stand with his little Forsaken friends - however few of them remain - against The Glass Ceiling. I’ll make him pay for having the temerity to call me out at Hellbound. I’ll make him pay for the impudence he showed by even choosing to show up to Calgary and stand in my ring, and challenge me.
And then, if there’s anything left, I’ll gladly do it again at Northern Crown. It’ll be nice to take something from him two shows in a row. It’ll be a good time to see the light die from his eyes twice in as many shows. Because if there’s anything that makes watching that proverbial boulder roll down the hill worth it, it’s watching it roll over the pretenders on the way down.