“Often the strongest blades were pounded the hardest, or scorched the most severely; We judge them by their strength and sharpness, not by their prior rough experiences. With our comrades it should be the same. A good blade is rarely forged in a velvet box.”
Steel Sharpens Steel
I watched as the black Lincoln Navigator pulled out of my son’s driveway. I’ve often wondered if they make those things in any other color. He had received a package from CSJ, someone I’ve despised for a long time. I considered telling him to take anything from him with a grain of salt, but like always I decide to let him figure it out on his own. He lets me look at it and I was almost in as much shock as he was over the contents. Then my phone begins to ring. I pull out my phone and look at the caller i.d.
Mac Bane: Interesting….
The caller i.d. reads Jon Stewart, I haven’t heard from him in a long time. So we or I should say he begins talking.
Jon Stewart: Mac! Old Frand! Are you busy these days? I heard that you retired but I was wondering if you would come to Canada. I’ve got a situation where another team dropped out of our tournament and I’d like you to team with Trent Steel. It can be a one off thing or longer if you’d like.
I knew Trent Steel’s reputation, a man of action, not really a mouthy guy. He simply liked to brutalize his opponents. There was a lot to like and admire about that. Like me, he didn’t have a sterling reputation in this business, but that’s really where the similarities stop.
Jon Stewart: Will you come north and at least talk about it?
I hadn’t considered coming out of retirement in a long time, but I had a feeling that my son was going to need me around. He was going to need me closer than he had in a long time. He had gone down a path that very few can travel and return from. Not that he would accept help from the old man, but he would need an ally at the very least.
Mac Bane: I’ll be there.
Jimmy Allen: What gives?
I consider telling him what just happened but thought, no I’ll wait on that. He may be my son but he doesn’t need to know everything I do.
Mac Bane: Just some business I need to take care of.
Afterall, my son didn’t need to know everything that I was up to, now did he? His plate is very full and I have to get back to what I love. Knocking heads is what I love to do and that hasn’t changed over the years.
Port Arthur, Texas
Crooked M Ranch
The summer temperatures are now a thing of the past, the local trees have begun to turn. Oak leaves fall almost as often as the rain does this time of year. The average temps this time of year are usually around seventy degrees but today it’s weighing in at just over forty degrees. The ranch house has been in our family for three generations, but it’s anything but rickety or run down. The money I’ve made in the wrestling business over the years has helped to keep the place in good shape. What was at one time linoleum is now hard darkwoods. Walls that were at one time covered in wallpaper are now smooth and painted a neutral color. The kitchen now sports ceramic tile with a heated subfloor to keep melissa’s feet warm in the winter. I smile as I watch her dancing around the kitchen. She was happy and that’s all that mattered in the world to me. Something clearly has her amused and she looks up from the cast iron skillet and poses a question.
Melissa Walker: Well?
I smile at her, I knew that she knew that I knew and then I bust up laughing. With her hand on he hip she tries to maintain her focus and the peevishness in her voice and then begins laughing to.
Mac Bane: I know, I know….I should have talked to you first.
She shakes her head, hand still on her hip, she points the spatula at me and winks.
Melissa Walker: Honey, no, if it makes you happy I’m all for it. I know you miss the business. The physical grind of wrestling is in your DNA. Plus, with the new contract you have, I won’t feel guilty for shopping.
I roll my eyes and smile at her, she did love her shopping. Most of the time she didn’t buy anything, it was the going and touching and knowing that she could have it if she wanted it.. Melissa could never be confused with some of the shallow women you might meet in the industry. She was very down to earth and someone who I knew I could lean on if things got ugly. She was my rock and she knew it.
Mac Bane: That’s fair.
Melissa Walker: yes sir it most definitely is.
I look down at my coffee cup; a green Star Wars cup with Yoda’s most well known phrase, “Do or do not, there is no try”. I always loved that phrase, to make it funny, if the cup was empty they had placed “Or Coffee” in the bottom of it. I start to stand but Melissa is there to top of my cup again. I smile and lean back enjoying the aroma of hashbrowns, eggs, and bacon and If I’m not mistaken I smell buttermilk biscuits. She winks at me when I notice it all.
Melissa Walker: It’s okay honey, you work out three times a day anyway.
I again roll my eyes, my wife had learned to cook from her mother and my grandmother. She was better than both of them in the kitchen and that was no small feat. Her cooking is the reason my work out regimen had never changed even five years away from wrestling. There were times that I wondered if she was trying to kill me.
Mac Bane: You’ll get no complaints from me darlin.
Melissa Walker: Better not
I laugh at the veiled but empty threat from my wife. Always the smart ass, no wonder we had never had a fight in the twenty plus years we had been married. I look down at my watch and on time comes my daughter Jules. Pretty like her mom, thank goodness, poor Jimmy was the spitting image of me. She had with her a case that I had not seen in quite some time. The case looked like it might hold several pistols or a short rifle. I flip the latches of the case, inside still where I left it an old bandanna. It covers a pair of louisville sluggers, they are a glossy black with MB engraved in them, and painted with gold paint. I take the bandanna out, Melissa takes it away so it can be washed. Jules looks at the bats, they still had blood on them from the last time they were used. I smile as I run my hands over them.
Jules Walker: Why?
I smile at my pacifist daughter, she hates confrontation, and she would prefer that I stay retired. I look up at her.
Mac Bane: Just in case.
That is the only response and reason I give her as I close the case and relatch it.
The last rays of sunlight come thru the slats of an old barn, they shine down on an old wrestling ring. The banners of old wrestling promotions long dead and gone hang here. “NCW”, “BW”, “UWA”, “UCWA” to name a few. I stand in that ring in its center by myself. Still dripping with sweat from my work out, the light breeze barely moves the hair that is mostly plastered to my scalp. I lean on the ropes and smile, because god it feels good to prepare for a match. I’ve missed this more than I could ever have realized. My sparring partner today is an old friend, his name is Tytus Rost, a former citizen of Russia, he and I go back a long way so I trust his assessment.
Tytus Rost(thick russian accent): It’s like you never retired, how do you do that?
I wink at him, which he hates by the way. It makes him uneasy.
Mac Bane: Must be Melissa’s cooking.
He gives a hearty laugh at that because he knows how she cooks.
Tytus Rost: You should be as fat as one of the hereford cows you raise by now if that were the case.
Mac Bane: About two years ago, I started working out twice a day when I have time. I spar with Jimmy when he’s here, otherwise it’s whoever I can bribe to spar with me.
Tytus Rost: Not many takers on that I’m sure, not sober ones anyway.
I shake my head no.
Mac Bane: No, and I won’t spar with drunks anyway. It’s like kicking a retarded puppy. It might feel good for a minute but then you start to feel guilty.
Tytus Rost: Like you would ever kick an animal? You’re full of shit Mac.
I shrug at the comment and smile.
Mac Bane: Probably true, depends on the puppy.
You simply have no idea what a man or woman will do, how far they will go or to what lengths they will rise or stoop until their family is threatened. In the case of Trent Steel, his son is missing while mine is simply lost. I was asked to come to CWF to team with Steel in this tournament, but there is more at stake than potentially dethroning the tag team champions. Good people sometimes make shit decisions, choices that are made in the heat of battle. I’m as focussed on finding my son as Trent is on finding his. Together I feel as though we can accomplish everything we want or need to. I’ve followed the career of Trent Steel for a long time, I know exactly who and what I’m stepping into the ring with. He is without a doubt one of the toughest sumbitches to ever walk the planet. That’s a compliment because it’s coming from the toughest sumbitch to ever walk the earth.
As I said, the reason I’m here is to team with Steel because some girl band decided that they didn’t want to play with the big boys.
They took their ball and went home.
Tucked tail and ran.
Took a rain check.
Decided discretion was the better part of valor.
Ran like a scalded dog.
Showed their true colors.
They bailed on their obligation, which at the end of the day is the most important thing. When you are young and unproven in this business, building your reputation and earning the respect of promoters should be the foremost thing on your mind. That leads to big pay days and respect throughout our industry. Doing what they did, will give other companies reason to pause and think about whether to sign them or not. Of course there are plenty of fledgling company’s out there that will sign just about anyone. Men like Steel and I don’t work for those places, because we don’t have to.
We have the respect of many different promotions and our peers. Not that we give a shit. See, well no...you can’t see….you haven’t been around long enough to know what I’m talking about. You think you’ve earned your stripes? No, what you have around here is a den of cubs, trying to roar like a full grown lion. Sadly, when they roar it comes out more like a silent meow from a house cat. You’ve been allowed to be too lackadaisical around here, you haven’t had men come in from outside to challenge you. To push you to your limits like we can.
The male of the species in this place, you notice I didn’t call you men. I’ve been watching this place, even before my kid signed here I was watching. Know what I saw? I saw a little girl grow into a fucking champion. Leaving the rest of you so-called men in her dust. I saw a nice girl become a Jester and along with a pair of knuckleheads try to burn the company to the ground. Like the rest of you children they couldn’t beat her either. If I taught that kid anything, it's that you respect the hand that feeds you. You don’t shit where you eat boy. You fucking know better. You owe a lot of people an apology kid, do the right thing.
Since this is a tag team tournament, let’s talk about your reigning champions shall we? The Smokin’ Aces as their called. Them being the champions speaks volumes to the lack of real competition in this little pond you have here. Sure, The Forsaken took them down a time or two but never could climb back to the top of the mountain. No one else has stepped up since to challenge the thugs in tights. Are the rest of y’all too scared to take on the so-called Glass Ceiling? Your tag team division is a fucking joke, Trent and I are going to embarrass you. We are monsters among children, this won’t end well for anyone but us.