If I despise anything in this world.. it's flying…
I hate the shit.
But to be the best in this business.. you have to make sacrifices. But this flying shit is for the birds.. literally..
But that's where I find myself. Suspended in air on one of Byson's private jets. For those who don't know, Byson Kaliban is my fraternal twin brother, who technically has only been walking this Earth for about a year.
Give or take. But that's a story for another day.. if you're interested that is..
But I digress.
I was fresh off a victory over the motormouth that is Johnny Graves and now it was on to an even LARGER task..
And that's putting it mildly.
We were on our way to Key West, Florida.. the home site of Online Championship Wrestling. Where I would be making my debut for the company where my father tried to hone his skills. He was a decent midcarder at best, but he was never able to crack that 'Glass Ceiling’.
My anxiety level was on a thousand as we soar through the air, departing Colorado Springs, Colorado and heading for Key West. Byson sat comfortably on one of the luxurious couches as he watched the movie 'Us’ on a sixty-five inch plasma screen, that was embedded into a wall that faced the passenger seating area.
Don't ask me how he was able to get this movie on his personal jet.. but I'm almost positive that it's by illegal means. My focus was nowhere near the film as I peered out one of the side windows.. watching as we sailed past clouds, birds and other things that I'm not at liberty to speak about.
“How did I let you talk me into dis bullshit?” I questioned as my nerves began to tense even more.
Shoveling a handful of popcorn into his mouth, Byson responded. “Because you knew this was the best way that you were gonna be able to make both of your matches this week. Especially since you have to come right back to Colorado after your match with big boy..”
“Yea.. but I'm startin’ t'second guess dis shit.. Then wit tha drastic difference in weather.. I'ma fuck around an’ have pnuemonia..”
“Are you serious?”
“Do you realize how big of an opportunity this could be for your career? First off let me make myself clear. Big Bifford is a huge obstacle, but if you make it past him, then go on the next night to win the CWF World Championship.. Imagine the dollar signs that are gonna be rolling in…” He says as he waves his hands in a grand fashion.
“Y'kno’ I don't do dis shit f'tha money.. Tha family name gotta bit of a blemish on it and I'm gonna brang honor back to it..”
“You do know you're the first to use the family name in this business right?”
“Dat's besides tha point… Folks gonna put some respect on it, now mo’ than eva’ though.. Dis business might not owe me shit, but I'm damn sho gonna come at it like it does..”
“I hear ya..” Byson replied as he threw another fistful of popcorn into his mouth, continuing to enjoy his featured flick.
My attention went back to the skies.. they were finally starting to calm me a bit. But the thought of the things that were at stake clouded my mind even more.
Was I doing the right thing?
The board of directors didn't like the idea of one half of their pay per view main event, traveling down to some local company and battling a four hundred plus pounder. I understood.. With that type of dynamic, things could go south quickly.
I wasn't fucked up though.. I had faith that I could beat him and then turn around the next night and become World Champ.
I know right..
But the more I thought about it, the more the question changed. It was no longer am I doing what's right.. It became…
Am I doing what's right.. for me?
Only time would tell.. I had to make it to Florida first.
Four Hours Later
Finally having arrived in Key West.
We were inside of a rental car and headed on our way to the OCW Arena for a meeting with Interm General Manager, Marcus Welsch.
Giving the circumstances.. Pops saw this as a huge moment in life as he decided to drive down from Jonesboro, Arkansas to come watch the show. I mean… he's seen me compete before.. but this was his alma mater, so to speak. And given the fact that I was competing in a first round match for an opportunity at the OCW Championship, he was shitting bricks.
The sounds of “Middle Child” by J. Cole blared through the speakers as I made my way through the Florida streets, headed for the OCW Arena. Using the GPS on my cell phone, I weave through traffic as Byson sat on the passenger side, nodding his head to the beat. As if a instrumental thought had sprung into his mind, Byson looks over at me.
“So this is the company Pop cut his teeth in at the beginning of his career right?”
“Yep..” I responded nonchalantly.
“So.. why did he ever leave? I mean wasn't he doing good there, at least working his way up the mountain?”
“Dat was round tha time Mom got sick an’ passed on, he wasn't in a clear head space. Then add concussion on top'a concussion on top'a concussion. Let's just say he was no longa’ in tha right mind frame fo’ dis shit. I thank when Biff dropped em on his head all those years ago. It made em take a step back t’look at life.. Then it was just him and me... everywhere he went.. I went.. an’ back then, I wasn't tha greatest kid t'be round..”
“I can imagine.. but she was with ya, every step of the way.. The both of us were..”
“Don't remind me..”
“At least I'm not just a voice in your head anymore..”
“Funny.. but yeah.. back then, he would go work shows fo’ OCW an’ my black ass was somewhere backstage runnin’ round like a chicken wit his head cut off. Uncle Frost and Uncle Link couldn't keep up wit me. I was into all kinda shit..”
We both share a collective laugh.
“Real shit bruh.. I used t'steal snacks and shit off'a Bifford's personal catering table.. he'd neva’ notice cuz they always made sho he was stocked up back then… Silva'freak personally showed me how t'do tha Riga Mortis. But y'kno’ I'm not big on submission moves these days. Then wheneva’ I try t'go train t'learn some. Bullshit happens..”
“Yeah sounds like you and Pop got a bit of history with the company.”
“There was dis one dude, named Cheasy M.. he was funny as fuck bruh..”
Rising up from his seat a bit, Byson stops me on my road down memory lane.. “I think that's the place over there..”
Looking over, I notice a nice sized arena, making a left at an intersection. I pull into the parking lot of the arena, coming to a halt and parking next to the rental car of Pops, who seems to have been sitting in the parking lot for a good while.
My brother and me both exit the vehicle as Pops does the same. He embraces the both of us with a hug as if he was truly proud.
Now for those of you who don't know, Pops competed under the ring name Krayzie back in his younger days. He was one-third of the group, 3rd Earth Klique, but you would have to do your research, if you want a history lesson. He wasn't old by a long stretch only being forty-one but the consistent concussion weren't making this business any easier on him.
He had made a small name for himself competing against some of the best that OCW had to offer.. Paul Paras, Mario Maurako, Big Bifford amongst countless others, but the sweet spot for him was lower to midcarder.
“About time you boys got here.. This place was starting to give me the creeps..”
“Why ya say dat?”
He points towards an 18-wheeler that have countless homeless people hanging off of it from almost every inch of the truck and trailer.
“Dat's some shit ya don't see everyday..”
“Exactly.. being from Memphis, I'm used to seeing the homeless, but this is some next level shit.”
“What the hell are they chanting?” Byson questioned as I stared on in astonishment.
“I don't know, but they've been chanting it for about thirty minutes now..”
“Let's just go meet dis guy and go back t'tha room…” I say, headed for the entrance of the arena as Pops and Byson follow along.
We pick up our pace a bit.. These aren't your normal homeless people. I gotta tweet about this shit. Pulling out my cellular device and sending the tweet.
Coming to the doors, we enter and make our way inside. Making our way along the hallways we look at the different memorabilia that are hung up on the walls. Walking along the halls, a picture catches me by surprise.
“Oh shit.. Is dat Rish?”
Byson and Pops both look over towards the wall, where a still shot frame of a younger J. Rish locked in a tie-up with another wrestler.
“I knew I knew him from somewhere when I signed on for Golden Intentions that one time. I even remember what he called himself.. J. “Ghetto Town” Rish.” Pops says matter of factly.
Byson can't control his laughter as noticeable tears can be seen falling down his cheek.
“Have you boys ever been to Philly?”
We both nod our head in approval, clearly thinking about the environment.
“Might be warranted..”
“I'm sayin’ though.. if he wasn't goin’ through tha situation he goin’ through… I'd probably bust his balls bout it..”
“You would totally get fired..”
“Dis is almost worth tha risk..”
“Guys! How are you gentlemen doing this afternoon?”
Simultaneously, we all turn our heads to acknowledge the arrival of Marcus Welsch.
“We good.. sup wit'cha?”
“Never been better..” He replied with a grin. “I'm glad that you all could make it. I'm sure you guys could just imagine how thrilled I was when Duce signed up for the tournament!”
Welsch begins to head in the direction of his office, motioning for us to follow. Which we politely oblige to..
“Ya sho’ you was happy? I see you guys gotta real hard on fo’ tha CWF..”
“There's no such thing.. I just don't take kindly to your employers trying to poach my wrestlers.”
“So I'm gonna get a fair shake in dis tournament? No shady shit?”
“Was the match between TIO and The Shadow not called down the middle?”
“Fair point.. but Tha Big Bifford though?”
“What's the problem?”
The four of us come to a stop as Pops takes a moment to stare at another photo placed on the wall. A look of disappointment comes over his face as he stares at Mario and Paul standing on top of a Hummer, holding the OCW Tag Team titles high in victory.
“Do you guys have to have this hanging on the wall?” Pops questions as he looks closely and spots his downed body on the side of the Hummer.
Welsch immediately continues his journey towards his office, ignoring the question.
“This Block Party Tournament is going to be a historical event and we here at OCW are proud to have you a part of it.. aside from your affiliation of course. But we hope to make your stay with us as enjoyable as possible. Now if you gentlemen don't mind, we can step inside of my office and talk about the finer details…”
I nod my head as we follow him into his office, Pops taking one final look at the picture on the wall before bringing up the rear.
The reality was starting to set in, Monday night I would be making my debut on Massacre and against a Hall of Famer to top it off, I had to be on my game if I planned on making an impact.
My handheld camera springs to life as I position it on the counter inside of my hotel room. Taking a few steps back, I stare intently into it.
“Can you hear em?”
I pause to give you, the viewer, a chance to listen closely.
“I can hear em.. I'm sho y'all like.. tha fuck is he talkin’ bout? Well I'ma tell ya.. I'm talkin’ bout those owls. I'm talkin’ bout all those folks wonderin’ who tha fuck I am… Dat's fine though, cuz come Monday night. You all are gonna be introDuced.. When I heard dat OCW was holdin’ a Block Party Tournament Invitational.. I couldn't help myself… Naw.. y'see I saw an opportunity fo’ tha takin’ an’ how could I possibly pass it up?
But where there's opportunity.. There’s guaranteed t'be a roadblock. An’ at tha moment I got one in my way in tha form of tha Hall of Fame, Big Bifford.. Now I could run through a laundry list of accomplishments an’ accolades of why dis 8th seeding is a joke.. But I've come from mo' worse predicaments.”
I give a slight chuckle as I recall events in my mind.
“When I got in dis business, I knew I would at one point come across some'a tha greats. But I've stood across tha rang from men and women dat I've idolized growin’ up and Biff.. you're no different. I've followed your career from OCW an’ GCWA.. An’ I must say, I was a huge fan… maybe not as huge as your current bein’ but hopefully you get tha point.
Y'see Biff, I idolized you t’tha point dat I even incorporated yo’ finisha’ into my arsenal. But not outta respect… Naw… It was a constant reminda’ of tha pain and sufferin’ you've brought my family ova’ tha years. Eva’ since you dropped my Pops on his head all those years ago.. he hasn't been tha same man.. Not like he was all there in tha first place.
But it's because'a moments like dis.. why I train as hard as I do.. because'a folks like you, who treat this business as a joke and thank you can skate by off a legacy. I thrive off tha moment when a person of yo’ stature takes me lightly. An’ you will, cause dat's what you do!”
I take a moment to calm myself.
“Just ask ya boy Dan how these knees feel.. cause once dat bell rang an’ it's all said and done.. Dat legacy you got ain't gon mean shit, cause at tha end of tha day.. when ya starin’ at those lights. You gon realize dat you ain't have No Juice Like Duce…”
With that final statement, I walk back to the camera and turn it off, ending the feed.
"The concession stands are now selling those cheap hotel room round soap disks that I have personally blessed for $100’s a bar….AND SINNERS….I suggest you buy one, and use it, because if you think your God wants you in his heaven smelling like a 3am New York City uber ride you got another thing coming."