“Jarvis, come on.”
“You’ve gotta start thinking about this sort of thing, man.”
Ian was looking at me in that way that only he seemed to know how. He had that look on his face that did nothing but drive me up the fucking wall, it annoyed me so much. The look that said, ‘yeah, you may be the older one, but let’s face it, I’m the responsible King.’ The look that said ‘you’ve fucked up so many times, and here’s another opportunity to do the very same.’ The look that said ‘seriously, one of these times I am going to say that I told you so.’
We had just come from a HFX Wanderers game; the Wanderers, Halifax’s first ever professional soccer team, had lost that day to a team from Ontario, but through the rules of the competition, they’d advanced to the next stage of the tournament. It’s something I’ve never particularly cared for, if I’m being honest – the idea that you can lose but be rewarded…that never sat well with me.
Things between Ian and I had become significantly less frosty. We had come together amicably to settle Uncle Jack’s estate, and were working on repairing our bruised relationship since. The simple act of going to a professional sports game, then grabbing a taxi to have a beer was, frankly, tremendous progress for both of us. We could, at times, manage to sit through an entire beer at the little pub nearby to the stadium without so much as arguing.
That was not so much the case when Ian insisted on conversations that he ought not insist on. And as we sat in the Brown Hound Pub, Ian was insisting. I signaled the barkeep – a mammoth of a New Zealander named Kiwi – and was provided a fresh pint of Guinness.
“Hell of a game,” said Kiwi, interrupting – thankfully – Ian’s tirade. He pointed at the large screen over the tiny pub’s front entrance. “Crazy that they managed to get it level before the end there.”
“But then they threw it away,” I reminded him. The big man shrugged his shoulders in a ‘what are you gonna do’ sort of way.
“They’re still through. First season and they’re through to the quarter finals of the Canada Cup. That’s not nothing.”
“it’s the first season for the league,” I replied. “Let’s not pretend it’s some ancient cup that’s filled to the brim with glory.”
“Aye, but you ought to know what builds a legacy, Jarvis,” he said with a wink.
I love The Brown Hound. Just busy enough to stay open, but not so busy that I’m overrun by fans, reminding me of my legacy. Just a two-hundred-eighty-something pound Kiwi behind the bar. And a younger brother, needling me to start thinking about what’s next after wrestling.
“All I’m asking is that we look at one spot, Jarvis. You don’t have to make a decision today, you don’t have to sign any paperwork…you just need to take a look at a few listings and we can decide down the road.”
Ian, in his infinite wisdom, had been encouraging (read: incessant nagging) me to look into investments to shore up my post-wrestling life. Can’t keep going forever, after all, he said. Won’t be able to make money bell-to-bell till you die, he reasoned. An article in the local paper about real estate trends in Halifax later, and suddenly I’m missing the boat on an opportunity of a life-time.
See, the simple fact of it is, I don’t need to do anything for money. I’ve made my living. I’ve been smart with my cash. I took no bookings when I wasn’t working in the CWF, not because they weren’t available to me, but because I didn’t need them. I didn’t need to do something I didn’t want to do, so I didn’t fucking do it. It isn’t that money isn’t an object – it’s that it’s not a concern.
“Please, Jarvis,” Ian said, once more.
I shook my head, which Ian took as his signal to leave. The one time he was right that day, I suppose.
“Fine,” he said, “but this conversation isn’t over.”
He left the bar, and left me to my thoughts.
It’s one of those things that seems to come out of nowhere, you know? Maybe it’s recency bias, or confirmation bias, or maybe it’s just something I never noticed before…but all of a sudden it was Ian, it was Kiwi…hell, it was that sniveling twit MJF, all talking about one thing when it comes to me.
Not about my accomplishments, of which there are many and many yet to come. Not of my prowess, a skillset that’s unmatched and unbested. Not of my great moments, thousands, my great matches, hundreds…but instead of something else entirely.
You know how you never refer to a young man as spry? Like, you don’t talk about a spry 20-year-old. You talk about a guy being spry for his age. He’s spry, for his seventies. I hope I’m as spry as he is when I’m 80.
It’s not a complement. At least, it’s not one delivered by anything other than a back hand.
See, you don’t talk about the legacy of a young competitor. Hell, even when I was inducted in the Hall of Fame, it wasn’t about my legacy…it was about the accomplishments I had made in my career to that point. Legacy was something for later. Today, that day, was about celebrating.
Now, I’m looked at sideways. Maybe it’s one too many injuries, or one too many weeks on vacation. Maybe it’s that one fan starting a “you still got it” chant, as if I had ever lost it. Suddenly, I’m not a talent with accomplishments…I’m a living legend with a legacy.
Suddenly I’m spry.
Fuck that, though. See, I’m exactly where I belong – the main event - and as usual, I’m the only one who fucking belongs there. It’s not about legacy at Evolution, it’s about the here and now. And the more things change, the more they fucking stay the same.
The CWF’s matchmakers can be reliably called upon to step up in a number of ways. One – they will almost always undervalue and underappreciate the talent and excellence that is Jarvis J. King. That’s a given. Two – they can always be expected to over-appreciate and give undue weight to the flash in the pan, the flavour of the month… the Mariellas of the world, if you will. And finally, three – if there’s a “strange bedfellows” tag match that can be booked, it will be booked.
Ataxia, I know you’ve got a lot going on, but I don’t really care what it is you get up to when you don’t have that mask on. The little guessing game you’ve got going on…doesn’t interest me. Simple fact is, we’ve never seen eye-to-hole-in-burlap. But there’s something that you and I…I think we’ve always agreed on. We like to win. We like to hurt those who stand to stop us from winning. So, let’s make a deal, shall we? We don’t focus on our differences…we focus on what we have in common.
And what we have in common is a distasteful, dreary, downright dour pair of performers of questionable quality in Mariella and Mia…and once you add in all of Sybil’s personalities, I’m pretty sure this is legally a handicap match.
Here’s the thing, MJ…we both know what the script is here. Win, lose or draw, the script isn’t going to change for you. You win, it’s tainted by the fact that it’s not a decisive one-on-one victory for you. You lose, and you still have to deal with the doubts and insecurities that plague you on the daily. You still have to deal with the fact that even if I’m not the wrestler I was a decade ago, I’m still ten times the competitor than you’ll ever be.
The fact is, friends or enemies – or, god help us, frenemies – you and Mia…you’re not fit to lace my boots. And you never will be. Because every time that you stand tall, it’s because you’re standing on my shoulders. Every time that you celebrate a victory, it’s because I built the stage that you celebrate on. And every time you step through that curtain to make your way to the ring, it’s because I let you.
Of course…that can always change, can’t it?