He wanted so little. Dear God, he just wanted an opportunity. How long had he been wrestling for? Ten years? Twelve years? He had begun wrestling six months after he took the job at his uncle’s office. He had been how old at the time? That was after he had dropped out of SUNY Buffalo for the second time. He was 23 when that happened. He was 33 now. Ten and a half years. Ten and a half years he had been perfecting his craft, learning and applying. Every three months he sent tapes of his matches to the WWF’s offices in Connecticut. Three times over ten years he had gotten replies to his tapes, and they were all the same letter with a different logo.
Dear Mr. Stemkowski,
Thank you very much for you interest in becoming a WWF Superstar. We were very impressed with your video tape. Unfortunately, we have a full roster at the moment…
And so on. No dark match tryout. No scouts sent to Wisconsin to watch him. Wisconsin. He would be here forever. If he had to hear one more cheese-head talk about how the Packers, no. He couldn’t dwell on this. His next match was in fifteen minutes and Zach Lipsky was going to hurt him if he didn’t get his mind right. Lock up, head lock, off the ropes, sunset flip, kick out. Stare down. Lock up, kick to the gut, DDT. Kick out. Rest hold. A rest hold that soon into the match was below him, but he had to because Zach would be panting like a dog in heat if they didn’t slow it down there. How’d he draw Lipsky anyway? No! Break out of the rest hold. Suplex, split the legs and kick the balls, play to the crowd. Miss the elbow off the top rope, let him kill you with the stupid head butt that he doesn’t know how to do properly and get pinned. So simple. So goddamned simple. A waste of his time, really.
Lipsky walked into the dressing room. He was late, but he was working the main event again tonight, right? Where was the rundown sheet, oh boy. Second match? He was a curtain jerker? Where was Mr. Rodriguez? Oh, there he was.
“Hey, Mr. Rodriguez!”
“What? You’re late.”
“I thought you said I was going to be like Goldberg?”
“What the hell am I doing working the second match? Goldberg doesn’t work the second match!”
“When you can work more then four minutes without busting a lung, you won’t be working the second match.”
“And what the hell am I doing with Stemkowski?”
“You can learn a helluva lot from Stemkowski.”
“That old fart? What can he teach me, how to age badly?”
“You little crap. Put on your tights. Ten minutes.”
“I’m sorry Mr. Rodriguez. Listen, you talk with Jim Ross yet?”
“You show me something, I’ll get you a developmental contract, okay?”
“Okay, Mr. Rodriguez.”
Mr. Rodriguez walked over to Zach and patted him on the shoulder. The other wrestlers had heard this conversation before. Jim Ross was going to speak with Mr. Rodriguez when Yokozuna rose from his grave and starred in a mime production of Annie Get Your Gun. They all turned away, knowing what was about to happen. Slightly insulted, Greg Stemkowski glared at Zach just in time to see Mr. Rodriguez kiss him on the cheek. Zach shut his eyes in pain.
So did Greg. He had felt that hot breath. Twice he had tasted… no. This was so long ago. Got to concentrate on the match.
“Kid, you’ve got a good body for this. I think you could be the next Rick Rude.”
Split the legs and kick the groin. Hit the upper thigh instead of…
“Well, I don’t want to brag, but I’m actually a close friend of Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. Well, maybe not a close friend, but they owe me a couple of favors.”
Suplex. Such a simple match.
“Hey, it’s a simple rule. The more matches you win, the more popular you become, the more interest the WWF or WCW will have in you. Now, I want to do you a favor and have you win almost all of your matches. You should be a WWF Superstar in no time.”
“Wow, Mr. Rodriguez. That sounds great. Thank you.”
“Hey, that’s how things work in this business. You see a potential star and you help him out, and you know that people are going to help you in return. We all need a little help from time to time, right kid?”
Kid. Help. A rest hold so early in the match or Zach would blow up. Greg used to blow up that early. Aging badly? Old fart? He was 33. How old was Diamond Dallas Page? The Undertaker? Hulk Hogan. They were all much older than him. He had to be about the same age as Stone Cold Steve Austin or Triple H. He was relatively young for a professional wrestler. Relatively young. Still, how many 33 year olds sign developmental contracts with the WWF? Play to the crowd. We all need a little help from time to time, right kid?
“Yes sir, Mr. Rodriguez.”
“Now, some of us need more help then others. You understand what I’m saying, Greg?”
“Yes sir. I think.”
“That’s good, Greg. I think we’re going to get along fine. You understand that it’s not only the wrestlers who need help. Everybody in this business does. You know who Fred Deeks is? You know who Ryan Garetty is?”
“Fred Deeks that guy who does fine tunes gimmicks in the WWF. Wasn’t Ryan Garetty the first WWWF North American Champion?”
“Hey! You know your history. That’s good, kid. You need to learn everything you can about any profession you get into. You know what I mean? You said before you had a job with your uncle?”
“Yeah. I work in his office. Real estate.”
“You know a lot about real estate, kid?”
Greg knew nothing about real estate. It didn’t interest him. While he should have been learning about property values and following trends, he was learning that keeping the knee bent was the secret to the super kick. Such a simple match. Sell the hell out of the stupid spinning head butt. It’ll hurt like hell anyway.
“I don’t know much about real estate, Mr. Rodriguez.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter! Your future’s in wrestling anyway. Anyway, Ryan Garetty and Fred Deeks. Now, I don’t spread…”
Spread the legs.
“I don’t spread rumors. I’m just telling you that in the WWF, I’ve heard these are two guys who need a different kind of help then most wrestlers.”
“What do you mean?”
Mr. Rodriguez told Greg what he meant. He couldn’t think about this right now. He was sweating profusely. Sweep the leg. No! Zach wasn’t ready for that yet. Greg couldn’t breath. He needed air. He got up, turned around and bumped right into Zach.
“I’m sorry I’m so late. You know my layout, right?”
“Jesus! It’s bad enough I’m working the second match, but do you even know what we’re doing? Look, it’s simple. We lock up…”
“I know the layout. Let’s go.”
Zach shook his head in disgust as Stemkowski walked right past him and out of the locker room. No “Good Luck.” No nothing. It was okay. Only a few more months of second matches and blow jobs and then he’d be fighting The Rock and fighting off Ryan Garetty. At least Mr. Rodriguez didn’t force anything. His only problem was when Mr. Rodriguez gave him those little pecks in the locker room. When he grabbed his balls in front of everybody and laughed. Zach wasn’t sure how much longer he could take this, but just a few more months. A few more months. Did Greg look all right?
Greg Stemkowski stood at the entrance to the high school gym when Mr. Rodriguez found him and put his hand on the small of his back. Greg shuddered as he remembered.
“Oh God! Mr. Rodriguez, that’s disgusting.”
“Greg, I’m not saying that this is absolute fact. And even if it is true, some people have different kinds of needs. It’s not strange or disgusting. It’s a question of power, and Ryan Garetty has an awful lot of power backstage in the WWF locker room. What I’m trying to say is, if you want to be a WWF superstar, you’re going to have to learn to give blow jobs.”
Greg sank in his chair as it began to sink in.
“Greg, you need to win matches to get over. Sometimes you need to give blow jobs to get wins. We all need a little help. Some of us need more then others. You understand what I’m saying? You understand what kind of help I need?”
“Greg, my man, you better sell your ass off for Zach out there. He’s the future of our promotion.”
Greg didn’t remember Mr. Rodriguez saying that last part to him. Greg became a little confused, and then realized that Mr. Rodriguez was still standing next to him. He had just told him to sell his ass off for Zach. Zach was the future of the promotion. Greg looked directly at Mr. Rodriguez.
“Didn’t you tell Zach that you were going to call up Jim Ross?”
“Well, we both know what’s up with that.”
“Yeah, we both do, don’t we? Are you saying you want a blow job from me, Mr. Rodriguez?”
“No, I’m not asking for one. I’m just telling you that some people need different types of help, and I’m just now noticing that my fly is open. Now, I’m going to sit here, and you’re either going to win your first match or lose your first match depending upon whether or not you realize how to help people who very badly want to help you. Do. You. Under. Stand?”
“Get your hand off my back, pervert.”
Mr. Rodriguez gave Greg a snide look as he removed his hand from Greg’s back. “I never made you or the kid do anything you didn’t want to do.”
“The first time I refused you made me lose a match. You led me to believe that winning was the most important thing in the world.”
“Who gave you a job at the gym after your uncle fired you?”
“Come on. When you stopped doing what you did, did I fire you? Did I stop video taping your matches for you? Really, what did I do to you that was so terrible? Oh, that’s good kid. Suck it just like that. Yeah, I want to hear that slurping sound, you little bitch. Come on. Come on. Lick me. Tug on my balls, kid. SLURRRRRP! I love that sound, kid. You’ve got a good mouth for this Greg. You’re going to be the next Rick Rude. SUCK ME! SUCK ME! Stop crying. STOP CRYING, YOU BITCH! SUCK ME! STOP CRYING! Greg? Greg?”
“You’re crying. Are you okay?”
Greg wiped the tears away from his eyes. Mr. Rodriguez suddenly turned his attention away from Greg as Zach walked up to the entrance to the gym. Mr. Rodriguez began whispering something to Zach as he ran a finger over his chest. It suddenly occurred to Greg that Zach must have been blow job last night. No. Zach must have been tired last night and not done what Mr. Rodriguez wanted to. Lock up, head lock, off the ropes, sunset flip, kick out. Stare down. Lock up, kick to the gut, DDT. Kick out. Rest hold. A rest hold that soon into the match was below him, but he had to because Zach would be panting like a dog in heat if they didn’t slow it down there. Break out of the rest hold. Suplex, split the legs and kick the balls, play to the crowd. Miss the elbow off the top rope, let him kill you with the stupid head butt that he doesn’t know how to do properly and get pinned. So simple. So goddamned simple. A waste of his time, really. Still, Zach was still learning. Those were pretty much Greg’s only skills when he started. How young was Zach? Zach had to be younger than 22. He looked like a baby. A baby with a big fat perverted Mexican baby sitter drooling all over him. Slurrrrp. STOP CRYING! No! Were they playing his music? Apparently they were, because Zach said something to him.
“Idiot! They’re playing your music. Get out there!”
Zach just shook his head. He didn’t really dislike Greg or anything. The guy did kind of know what he was doing in the ring. Still, it was just almost pathetic to see a guy still working in Wisconsin after 11 years or so. If Zach wasn’t mistaken, Greg even worked at Mr. Rodriguez’s gym. That wouldn’t be Zach, though. So he had to give a few blow jobs now. It was better to give a few blow jobs now then be stuck in the perpetual blow job that is the Wisconsin Wrestling Scene for the rest of his life. It wasn’t about sex anyway. It was about power. That’s what Mr. Rodriguez said. That’s not what the look on Mr. Rodriguez’s face said while he receiving one. No. This was the difference between a Stemkowski and himself. This is what would set him apart.
Suddenly, Zach wanted to vomit.
Instead, he found himself walking to the ring. The crowd cheered as Goldberg’s music played. He soaked in the cheers of the fifty, sixty people in the gym, mostly families. Greg was leaning on the ropes. Something was definitely wrong with Greg. Zach wasn’t sure if he had enough experience to carry him. Still, when Zach entered the ring, Greg got right up off the ropes and walked right over to Zach and gave him a shove. Okay, so Greg was all right. They locked up.
Greg had to concentrate. Zach knew he wasn’t okay. That meant the crowd knew. Shove him. Lock up. Headlock. SLURRRP! I LOVE THAT SOUND KID! YOUR GOING TO BE THE NEXT RICK RUDE! SOME PEOPLE NEED DIFFERENT KINDS OF HELP!
Zach had been in the headlock for too long. Something was wrong. He tapped Greg on his side. He then gave Greg a push off into the directions of the ropes. To Zach’s relief, Greg started running.
DO. YOU. UNDER. STAND? Sunset flip. One. Two. Kick Out. TUG ON MY BALLS!
Oh God. Stare down. Can’t look at Zach. I see myself. Oh God. No stare down. Just lock up. Kick to the gut. DDT. Rest Hold. Oh God. I can’t breathe.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF HELP! SUCK ME! STOP CRYING! OH GOD! BLOW JOBS TO GET WINS!
Did I say that out loud? Oh God. I need to control myself. I didn’t. I don’t think I did. I’m going to be stuck in Wisconsin forever. I can still smell his penis. I can still feel his breath on my neck. I see him every day. Greg couldn’t breath.
“We’re skipping ahead to the elbow. I can’t breath.”
Sweat from Greg was pouring onto Zach. Zach had no argument with ending the match early.
Go to the top. Such a long climb. Old man! 33. Too old. THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR INTEREST IN BECOMING A WWF SUPERSTAR. UNFORTUNATELY…So many blow jobs for nothing. So many hand jobs for nothing. Jim Ross didn’t watch his tapes. Oh God. TUG ON MY BALLS. Miss the elbow. What happened to the suplex? We’re skipping ahead. I can’t breath. Miss the elbow. Good. It’s almost over. Sell the hell out of this head butt. Sell the hell out of thisstupid sloppy head butt. Stupid sloppy head.
No. He had to tell him. If he sold this head butt, Mr. Rodriguez would make Zach suck him off again tonight so that someone else would sell for Zach tomorrow night. Zach didn’t understand that blow jobs would not help him get a contract. He needed to explain to Zach. He needed to tell Zach that Mr. Rodriguez was ruining his life. No. Not Zach. He needed to tell himself to stop giving Mr. Rodriguez sexual favors and to get the hell out of Wisconsin while he’s still 22. Even better, get out of wrestling all together. How could a business exist where the Mr. Rodriguez’s were tolerated? No. He had to tell himself the truth.
OW! Zach may have broken his jaw with that stupid head butt.
What happened next was something most people don’t see every day and really don’t want to see. By the time it was finished, only 10 members of the audience were left in the gym, their mouths wide open. Zach started screaming at Greg about selling the headbutt or something. Greg, a serene look on his face, walked up to Zach and punched him as hard as he could in the face. Blood came out of Zach’s mouth as he went down. Greg then sat on Zach’s chest and started pounding Zach’s face. He wasn’t just wailing away, though. He was carefully measuring his shots. Greg would make them all understand later on. He wasn’t trying to hurt Zach. He just needed to reshape Zach’s face. If he could make Zach’s face resemble his own, he can warn himself about Mr. Rodriguez. It was brilliant. Just a lift of the chin there.
“OH GOD! PLEASE STOP!”
Maybe if he made the ears swell up, they’d stick out a little further.
“HE’S HAD ENOUGH! LEAVE HIM ALONE!”
And the nose definitely need to be redone completely.
“OH GOD! THERE’S BLOOD EVERYWHERE! KIDS, COME ON! WE’RE LEAVING!”
Greg was bald. Zach wasn’t. The hair had to come out. He’d get a razor later and just rip out as much as he could right now.
“OH JESUS! STOP! LEAVE HIM ALONE!”
Close enough. Just two punches to bring the eyebrows closer together.
“Please…mommy. Mommy. Help me. You’re killing me. Please.”
Gregg paused for just a moment, and that was all the time the referee needed to pull Greg off. The crowd was almost completely gone. If you saw Zach, you would have sworn he had just been hit in the face by a train. His nose, jaw, ears and eyes were bleeding. He was bleeding out of his eyes. As other wrestlers ran in from the back to pull Greg away, Greg began screaming at himself.
“GET OUT OF HERE! MR. RODRIGUEZ WILL NEVER GET YOU A CONTRACT IN THE WWF! HE WILL TAKE AWAY YOUR YOUTH! HE WILL TAKE AWAY YOUR PRIDE! HE WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO KILL YOURSELF! YOU STILL HAVE A CHANCE GREG! YOU’LL NEVER MAKE IT AS A WRESTLER! RUN GREG! RUN!
Greg had a big smile on his face. Today way the day. He made his bed and got out of the cell for line up. Only five more months in here, and they were going to be the best five months of his life. He was almost sad that he had been found not guilty of attempted murder. He would have had longer to enjoy this.
Zach would be okay. He’d have a bit of a lisp for the rest of his life, but he’d go back to normal for the most part. Greg would serve a year and a half for assault, and while he was in here he’d get some kind of degree. Why not? He’d already decided he was not going to wrestle anymore. He needed something else to do, and he might as well learn how to become a plumber or an architect or something. But these next five months were going to be incredible. It almost made him want to jump up and down in anticipation and jubilation.
How was Mr. Rodriguez supposed to know that Zach was only 16? Zach had used a fake identification when signing a contract. It was statutory rape. Greg Stemkowski had been following the story and had testified against Mr. Rodriguez at the trial. So did so many others. Phil Mushnick wrote an article about it that wound up blaming Vince McMahon. Greg didn’t care too much aboutthe negative press wrestling was getting because of this. He hoped it sent a message to the other perverts, the other rapists, not just in pro-wrestling but everywhere.
Mr. Rodriguez was convicted on 4 charges of statutory rape. Greg became overjoyed when he discovered that Mr. Rodriguez would soon be arriving on the same cell block as himself. Mr. Rodriguez would become his victim. Mr. Rodriguez would become his bitch. Greg slicked his hair back like Mr. Rodriguez and looked in the mirror as he heard the siren which announced the entrance of the new fish.
“We help each other here, Mr. Rodriguez. And we all need different kinds of help.” Greg smiled and went to greet his prey.