-It took me a long time to hit rock bottom, and one of the reasons for that is that I would hit ledges and bounce back. I would realize that I was losing everything and cut back on the pills and the booze to the point where I was just drinking enough to stay sober.
-Just drinking enough to stay sober? What the hell does that mean?
-According to some scientists, I read this somewhere on a plane, people who are prone towards alcoholism, itís like they are born a few drinks short of being a sober. Like they need to drink a beer to be sober, to feel normal. Me, personally, I was born at least a six-pack short of being sober.
-That is so much bullshit, itís terrifying.
-Again with the judging. Anyway, I would clean myself up and cut back and concentrate on the wrestling and keep it together for a while and then I would slip and slide and drink and fall and fall and fall to the next ledge where I would sort of bounce and clean myself up. After the Icons show though, I didnít really see the point of cleaning myself up. I mean I was toast as far as anyone with money was concerned. I was strictly reduced to touring these shit hole promotions in the back of beyond, where people would be so thrilled to see the Rattler that they didnít bitch too much that I was a shell of myself.
And the money is long gone. The only thing that keeps me going is the occasional cheque from St-Louis for using old footage of me on the air or on a PPV. ĎCause otherwise, Iím just making enough at these gigs to drag my ass to the next gig, to fill up these death-rattle wood panelled station wagon that gets me from one gig to the next. And I can only help that the bitch never actually dies, because I can afford to fix that vindictive death trap bitch, but I definitely donít have enough to replace her.
Fortunately, all these promoters of these shit-hole feds are fucking marks, so I can get free food, free place to stay but most importantly free booze, free weed and sometimes blessed gods, I can score some free pain-killers or Extacy or something. Because I need that to keep me together to the next town just as badly as the car does.
But some of these guys, christ on a crutch, they are such idiots. I mean, Iím wrestling one guy in a hardcore match and the finish is that heís supposed to do a frog splash on me. Fine. But he gets clever and decides that heís going to put a barbed wire board on top of me. Well, thatís a revolting development for me of course, and Iím thinking that I am definitely emptying out his medicine cabinet on the way out of town when he goes to get another barbed wire board. Like, what the hellís the point? The other barbed wire board is just going to protect me from this one. But then he puts the barbed wire board right side up, so that when he does his Shitty Frog Splash he lands in barbed wire!
-He deliberately jumped into barbed wire? Why?
So, Iím working with gullible idiots. Who have some money. And some drugs. And I need some money... and some drugs. This is not a healthy combination, particularly with someone with poor impulse control. So, I start running scams on the promoters and the wrestlers as I come through. Nothing too extravagant, I cheat a little at poker, I borrow money that will never be paid back, I empty out someoneís stash, I play a few cons like the Japanese booking agent con where I suck up to the guy with the biggest swelled head and I tell him that he has what it takes to wrestle in Japan. So I sell him the number of a booking agent, who is a friend of mine with even less scruples than me and he drains the pigeon for money for photos and tapes and a press kit, all of which cost money and none of which do a damn bit of good.
Basically, Iím swirling the drain in the cesspool of wrestling, and wrestling is a cesspool already so I am in the cesspool of a cesspool. I cage enough pills and booze to kick start me in the morning and enough pain pills to let me stand up straight and just enough money for gas so that I can get to the next bum-fuck little town to get a few hundred dollars and cage some more booze and pills to make it to the next town and you know here I am just like always running like the devil to stay in one place.
So, where I hit rock bottom is Bum-Fuck, New Mexico just a few towns over from Truth and Consequences. Iím supposed to wrestle their big guy who goes by the name of Grizzly. The one thing that these small towns have is a big guy named Grizzly who works as the bouncer in the local shit hole dive of a bar. They were the star of the local high school foot ball team, but they quite made it in College ball. Their knee blew out or their shoulders or they couldnít meet the study requirements because they are essentially illiterate or they were only good in high school because they grew bigger, faster and by the time they get to college everyone has caught up to them or they just plain werenít good enough. But all of them have had a taste of glory and want more. So for all of them wrestling is the way to get back to the spotlight and christ I can understand that, but most of these bastards are horrible even dangerous in the ring, because they spend more time working on their biceps than they do working on their transitions in the ring.
Anyway, Iím supposed to work a ten minute match against this guy and naturally Iím worried that I may have to stop to give this fat bastard mouth to mouth after five minutes. Plus, the promoter is one of these clever marks and he wants to recreate the match where I walked out of New York, so he wants to have me put this Grizzly into a submission move and make him tap at the end of the match and have the locker room empty to pull me off. Now, this backwoods genius thinks that the fans will go nuts because of this shoot-angle. Of course, Iíve done exactly the same damn thing about fifty-sixty times before, and each time the promoter thinks heís so fucking clever. And I have given up trying to explain that remaking an event completely that happened five years before isnít clever, isnít shooting, itís theatre. Not that thereís anything wrong with theatre, but when you canít tell the difference between theatre and reality, you are in rough shape.
Before the match, I rehearse with this Grizzly kid and heís not bad, not really good either, heís a total brawler and sort of lost on the idea of mat wrestling and transitions, but heís not bad for living in a rat hole in the middle of a fucking desert. So, I tell him this and mention that I might be able to get him an introduction with a guy who is a booking agent for Japan. ĎCause Iím thinking that it sounds like my fan-belt is about to snap, so I need to make some extra cash in this town to be ready to replace it.
Two seconds into the match, the big fucker surprises the hell out of me by breaking my fucking nose and I guess Iím a little shocked so he catches me by surprise with the second punch that damn near breaks the orbital socket of my left eye. By the time that he throws this big looping third punch, my survival instinct kicks in and rather than let him completely take my head off, I grab his arm on the way over and use his own momentum to bring him down to the mat with my elbow crashing into the back of his head to slow the big son of a bitch down and to pay him back for taking liberties. And as I am taking him down, it suddenly occurs to me that I wrestled this Grizzly in this same small town last year and I set him up for a few hundred dollars with the Japanese Booking Agent scam last year, but I was just so fucked up that I didnít even recognize him.
Someone once said that the best wrestling moves, the greatest matches are the ones where everything looks painful but it really doesnít hurt at all. Second best is a match where everything looks painful and it is. The next is a match where things donít look painful and they arenít. The worst kind of matches are the ones where thinks look fake and donít look painful, but they really are painful. Well, we ended up having the worst match of worst matches as we both tried to kill each other while making it look as fake as possible. The young kid has the advantage of size and strength and for the first couple of seconds of surprise. Iíve got the advantage of years of experience, speed - Ďcause Iím still the Rattler after all - and most of all, Iím a ruthless son of a bitch and this kid isnít. The hardest part is keeping the kid angry and interested and trying to hurt me for the full ten minutes, while doing enough damage to this dumb mother-fucker so that he regrets ever trying to fuck up someone who paid his dues against old hookers who could break this kid into fifty different pieces. Itís a sign of how much Iíve deteriorated that by the end of the match, Iíve only broken six bones in various places, mostly in his hand and - well his knee that will never be the same. So when the locker room empties out, it really does empty out as I am breaking this kidís leg to make him tap and trying to decide if I should rearrange his dental work as well when the owner of the fed hits the ring and orders me to the back.
Walking to the back, Iím hissing at people the way that I normally do, but my face is covered in so much blood that I am just spraying blood at people, which just freaks people out and makes a couple of small children cry. For some odd reason, this cheers me up a little so when I am in the shower and blood is pouring off my face and the shower looks like a prop from Psycho, Iím oddly cheerful, but then I start to think about the five hundred mile trip to my next gig and I am not sure if I have enough money for a new fan belt and for gas, and if I donít have enough money for gas and a fan belt, I definitely donít have enough for a bottle of Scotch, and my back flares up in the shower and the blood is still pouring out of my nose and this would be the worst fucking time in the world for someone to fuck with me, so when someone says, ďThat was the most pathetic excuse for a shoot fight that I think that I have ever seen.Ē Well, obviously, someone needs to get the shit kicked out of them. So I grab a towel and I tear out of the shower and run smack dab into a grinning Daryl Lucas, King Mother-Fucking Cage.
Chapter Nine: ĒKing CageĒ -King Cage, King of the Cage, the Old School Hero, the King of Hardcore, the Hardcore Hero, the Hammer, Black Jesus, Luke Cage, probably the most beloved wrestler in the last twenty years.