A high-rise apartment; clear, cloudless January skies permit the sunlight through it’s half glass walls despite Mount Rainier’s best efforts to block it out. Black & white are the apartments dominant colours with some powerful limes, blues and reds in the form of wall art, cushions and rugs. Either side of a large glass coffee table is an enormous wall mounted TV and a black leather couch of which Max Becker is sprawled across.
Attired in a stained, once was white vest and khaki shorts, Max has his PlayStation 4 controller in hand. The table before him is a great advert for Dominos Pizza & Warsteiner Lager; their boxes and bottles taking up much of the coffee table’s surface.
Max Becker: “Run! Run you slow prick. Flag it ref! Argh!”
The German leaps from his perch, launching the Playstation pad across the apartment floor. Elsewhere in the world, somebody is playing Madden 19 as the Philadelphia Eagles and are up 28-0 on Max Becker’s Washington Redskins. They’re also about to win by default, the classic rage quit, as Max angrily slams his hand against the games console and shuts it down. He collapses back onto the sofa heavily panting in some sort of fit of fury, perhaps taking his pass time hobbies a little too seriously. There’s a knock on the door.
Max Becker: “Fuckin’ America, what now? Did I forget to tip for the privilege of breathin’?”
Max dawdles, more than likely in hope whoever is at the door goes away, but there’s a second knock. “Alright, alright”, Max mumbles as he’s up to his feet again and making his way to the door to open it.
Max Becker: “OK, what do you wa-”
Silenced. The general feel of anger is immediately replaced with happiness and surprise as before Max stand an old aged couple. The lady has shorter grey hair and is wrapped tightly in a long beige coat whilst the man is bald, his brown checked shirt tucked deep into his blue denim jeans. Their arms are linked and they both have a suitcase either side of them.
“Oh mein lieber Junge.”
Max grabs them both ever so tightly, his Mother in his left arm and his Father in his right arm. It’s a moment that seems to last forever, the trio muttering to one another. Teary-eyed Max takes his parents’ luggage and closes the door behind them. “Englisch, ja?” Max is heard whispering as he points their attention to the cameras that are dotted about.
Max Becker: “Dad dawg, Mom dawg, yes dawgs.”
Mrs Beckermann: “Maximilian, why are you speaking like that?”
Mr Beckermann: “Klara, our boy must still think he’s Eminem. WORD. OUT.”
Klara Beckermann: “Oh behave Felix. Maximilian, look at the state of this place!”
Like a true working class Mother, Klara’s barely taken her coat off and is rounding up the bottles and pizza boxes. Max has his arm draped across his Father’s neck and shoulders.
Max Becker: “How did you even get here, yo?”
Felix Beckermann: “We flew, you fool. Why? Did you expect us to swim?”
Max Becker: “Ahaha, I’ve missed yo’ sarcastic ass old man.”
The two exchange laughter as Klara gives them her worst look of disgust which can’t help but quickly evolve into a smile.
Klara Beckermann: “Jack Beradi picked us up. We wanted to surprise you. Your Father and I were talking about how we’ve not really travelled since Tokyo and everyone at home is making a pretty big deal out of this World Championship.”
Felix Beckermann: “Yeah, that’s right, and everywhere we go we have to see your big ugly face on people’s t-shirts.”
Felix hastily drops his shoulder and wraps his arm around Max, applying some make shift head lock. He uses his knuckles on his other hand to aggressively rub the head of Max before he lets go entirely.
Felix Beckermann: “We’re so fucking proud of you son.”
Klara Beckermann: “Language, Felix! We’ve got front row seats Maximilian. We know you can do it.”
Teary-eyed no more. The heavens have opened their gates as Max is clearly taken by all of this. Amidst all the blubbering, he’s able to pull together a sentence or two.
Max Becker: “I’m turning the cameras off now. We should get some breakfast. There’s a nice place over the road but it’s expensive so yo’ asses are payin’, yo.”
Klara Beckermann: “You wouldn’t be such a tight ass if you signed your contract, Maximilian. Jack told us all about it. You should sign for C-”
Max Becker: “Not now, Mutter. Let’s go, yo.”
Felix Beckermann: “Hold on Son, Jack had said you need to watch the video he’s posted. He even filmed us. Your Mother felt like she was a Hollywood actress!”
Max Becker: “Filmed you? Why? No. I shit talk on Shadow, that’s it. Why did he film you?”
Max drops back onto the couch, fluttering about looking for the television remote. His parents sit either side of him as he’s soon up and running, navigating the video library on the yourmaxbecker.de application. The video is entitled ‘Road to Gold’. Play video.
The video begins with Max’s Mother, Klara, sat before the camera. The back drop is a black canvas with CWF and Modern Warfare graphics scattered across it. The phrase ‘Klara Beckermann, Mother’ flashes up in the bottom right.
Klara Beckermann: “Maximilian’s Road to Gold… it started in the late eighties. Maybe 1988? I remember Maximilian at the age of four, maybe five years old, he was running around the living room picking up his teddy bears and slamming them down.”
The video shows just as much. On an extremely poor quality recording, a young, blonde haired Max Becker is at home with a stuffed teddy bear the same size as him. He’s in Spiderman pyjama pants and topless as a younger Felix Beckermann can be seen sat in front of the television, shooing Max away every time he comes close. He’s scooping the teddy bear up and power bombing it, then a weird looking Piledriver, then a a big elbow drop using the couch as a metaphorical turn buckle. He pins the stuffed bear and counts “EINS, ZWEI, DREI!” before leaping up and pretending that a woolly jumper is a wrestling belt; showing it off to the fire place that must only resemble an imaginary audience. The video is back to Klara.
Klara Beckermann: “He was only six when he told me, “Mother, I want to be a wrestler”. Most children don’t, do they? Most children at that age want to be footballers or copycat what their Father does. Maximilian’s Father was a fireman, so you could expect that’s what Maximilian wanted to be too… but no. Maximilian only ever wanted to be a wrestler.”
The video cuts to an identical viewpoint, but his father Felix is on screen. The phrase ‘Felix Beckermann, Father’ flashes up this time.
Felix Beckermann: “Max was always a bit of a strange kid, but damn straight the boy knew what he wanted to be. Other than a pain in my ass that is! Haha! I remember when he was only a teenager. He and a few kids from school used to put shows on for the other kids. I think that’s when his Road to Gold began.”
The next clip starts and whilst much better quality than the previous clip, the quality was still very poor. Max and his friends are bouncing up and down on trampolines, somersaulting forwards, backwards and sidewards with one another to perfect the moves. The video is narrated as it continues to transition from one ‘backyard show’ to another.
Felix Beckermann: “The first few months were just kids on trampolines. Nothing special. But then the other kids came to watch. I started filming and charging the other kids for lemonade and hamburgers.”
The next transition shows that it was more than just random somersaulting, there were very identifiable wrestling moves.
Felix Beckermann: “Then the parents came. I charged them for beers.”
The clip shows how the teenagers were ageing, getting older and quite evidently better. There were no trampolines any more. One of the other teenagers jumped from a ladder onto Max’s shoulders who converted the move into a Powerbomb onto a garden chair.
Felix Beckermann: “Then I built a fence and started charging people for tickets. I had to find some way to keep fixing my damn grass. It wasn’t long after that we were forced to stop by local government. They even found a way to hit me with a tax bill. Bastards.”
The video and narration ends as the video transitions to the CWF & Modern Warfare back drop. It isn’t a familiar face on this occasion; it’s young women with long blonde hair with pink highlights, attired in a white blouse. The phrase ‘Lena Beckermann, Sister’ appears and clears it all up.
Lena Beckermann: “Mom and Dad made sure Maxi didn’t do anything stupid. They kept him in school. Maxi stayed close with all his friends and they’d always order a pizza… or five and watch the pay-per-views together. But his friends soon had wives and children of their own to watch wrestling with. Deutschland was a terrible place to train and make a name for yourself, especially on your own. I think when Maxi realised that, I’d say that’s when his Road to Gold began. He went over to Ireland for a few years and trained with Arthur O’Leary. No one thought he could do it, even more so than they used to because Maxi was pretty… well, fat at this point. Arthur believed in him though. So did we.”
The video shows a further clip, much more modern and colourful than the previous, revealing Arthur O’Leary as a tall, well-built man with jet black hair and facial stubble. He must be well into his early forties as far as his age is concerned. Arthur & Max are in a gymnasium with one or two other well-built men dotted about. There’s unused wrestling rings, boxing pads and weights galore. The clip shows how hard it was for Max to learn the grapple transitions, the mat work and submissions as a video montage reveals mistake after mistake, before a further video montage shows a much better toned Max Becker successfully hip tossing Arthur and making the tilt-a-whirl transition look seamless.
Once more the video goes back to the black canvas accompanied by the phrase ‘Arthur O’Leary, Personal Trainer’.
Arthur O’Leary: “Max was something else. It took him ages to leave Ireland. A decade, perhaps? Learning the professional wrestling trade is a show and tell sorta thing. Easy to learn. Takes forever to master. Max struggled. He struggled with his weight, with money and he never once felt like going back to Germany was right for him. I pushed him to the States but he never went because he couldn’t get a working VISA. Not until now anyway. When we sent tapes to Germanic Championship Wrestling and they snapped him up. I think that’s when Max’s Road to Gold began. DRAGON Wrestling Japan soon snapped him up after that and the rest is history… YO!”
The final clip is a highlights package of Max Becker and his various wins and big moments in-ring. The montage shows the birth of his Suplex City style of wrestling and the creation of the Kölner Kupplung submission hold. It also shows his ability to hold his own in Japan amongst a very stiff style of wrestling before the clip transitions to Max Becker; the Backbone of Cologne. No graphics are needed to introduce him.
Max Becker: “Yo yo yo, brigaders, homies and bros. I think my Road to Gold… I think it doesn’t matter one lil’ bit where it started. The only thing that matters, yo, is where the road ends.
Shadow, Shadawg, I know your dumb ass is watchin’, the road was built in Köln. It stretches all the way to Dublin but believe me bro it ends in Tacoma, Washington where I choke… you… out. The mission is submission.
Every where I go I hear about the Shadow. The shock title win at Frozen Over. I think great, sure, and what is he fighting for? Are you fighting so your widowed lil’ ass gets some closure? Is that it? You and ‘The Forsaken’? Animals. You belong in an enclosure. Every time I see you on the show, running yo’ mouth, it’s indecent exposure.
I felt real sorry for yo’ devil-like ass when I learned your story, Shadow. I almost thought that in Round 2 and for the sake of what you’ve been through, I’d better lay down and let you pass. Shame, bitch ass Cheshire already done that. Your Championship win was as rotten as a whore’s vagina. Rotten to the core, bro. Do you feel... like a champion should? Because you don't deserve to, yo.
You know what’s goin’ to hurt you more than anything else come Tuesday night? You don’t intimidate me one lil’ bit, homie. You come down to the ring with your gothic-ass music, you’re stupid girly hair and you’re life long problems… but I don’ care.
The Weaver of Dreams, yo, fuck you. You dream weavin’, corpse grievin’, title thievin’ self-obsessed weird fuck. What even is a Weaver of Dreams, Shadawg? Do you weave your own dumb ass dreams or are you going weave mine? I’m guessin’ you aren’t referring to makin’ someone’s tank tops, so what? Do you like to think yo’ ass is some exotic tarantula? A spider? Well, okay then spider, open yo’ ears bro, a lil’ bit wider… I’m goin’ to beat yo’ eight legged ass in Tuesday’s title decider.
Then what? What’s next for the unemployed, undisputed, undefeated Backbone of Cologne? Picture it. Your winner, and NEW World Champion, Max Becker. Wait, what? That guy isn’t employed by the CWF? Max Becker is takin’ CWF gold to… Hostility? Or does Jon Stewart open his fat-ass wallet and match Chris Saint Dawg’s offer? What about Carnage? Do they want to offer Max Becker a huge monster-ass deal too? What if the belt goes there?
See Shadow, I’ve always been lucky, yo. I’ve always been true. True to myself. Can you say the same? Can you and yo’ dumb ass crew of weirdos say the same?! The weight is on your shoulders on Tuesday. The weight of Jon Stewart protecting his business interests… that’s on your shoulders too. The weight of defending a title gifted to yo’ dumb ass… is also on your shoulders! Now who’s nervous, bitch? You & the entire CWF roster will wake up Wednesday mornin’ thinkin’ ‘How did it all go wrong?’. That’ll trigger the everlastin’ memory of how Max Becker became the highest paid star in the whole wide world… and of course, the everlastin’ memory of The Shadow havin' been played by the brigade.”
The video ends.
Max, Klara & Felix are on the couch having watched the whole thing for the first time. It’s evident that Klara has been continuing to stockpile Max’s rubbish for easy disposal.
Klara Beckermann: “Oh Maximilian, why are you being so mean to that man?”
Max looks at at his mother, tears having been and gone, his eyes scarily focussed on hers.
Max Becker: “Because, meine Mutter, I started walking this road many years ago. I’m at the end now but there is one final toll to pay and it’s The Shadow that’s in my way. Now, please, let’s go and get some breakfast, yo’ ass still payin’.”
Klara Beckermann: “OK, are you going to change? And with all that talk about being the richest in the world, you’d think you could treat your own damn Mother to some breakfast.”
Felix Beckermann: “Our boy is so cheap Klara, he doesn’t even pay attention.”
It’s all smiles as Max and his parents all rise from the couch and make haste for their morning fill. The German trio leave the apartment and having closed the door shut behind them, the camera zooms in on the television which has been left on. As the recording slowly fades to black, it captures the visual that is the video’s name, ‘Road to Gold’, as it’s final shot.