A Wrestling Tale 8.26.01: Live The Gimmick! (Part 1)

(The following is very loosely based on a true story. None of the events in this story have ever taken place. Any similarity between actual events and events in this story are purely coincidental. )

Live The Gimmick!

‘This is going to be the best angle I’ve ever been a part of!’ The Veteran was so sure of it. Most of the fans knew that he was married to the Woman, which would just make the angle that much more believable. He had spent the past two days, when not wrestling, working on the story line. It had everything. The discontented wife. The up and coming young Stud. The evil, bitter, old husband. The Veteran paused at old. Well, in comparison to the Stud, he was old. He could live with that characterization. True love. Questions of loyalty. Betrayal. Both heel and babyface turns. This was going to be incredible.

He’d start mistreating Woman at house shows and television tapings. Not hitting her or anything. Just yelling at her, blaming her for defeats. Slowly but surely, the Stud would start to protect her. The fans would be on their side. They’d begin to believe that the Stud and the Woman were having an affair. Then the Woman would turn on the Veteran and reveal that yes in fact they were having an affair. The fans would cheer at first, but the amount of pain that the Veteran would suffer would be too great. My God, the fans might actually learn how to cheer for him! He might really get over as a babyface. This wasn’t just about him, though. This Stud, this kid would be remembered in the business because of this feud. Working with himself and the Woman would be very good for the Stud. Back to the angle. Eventually, after months and months of feuding, the discontented, traitorous Woman would see something in the old Veteran that she had never seen before. They would fall in love all over again. Redemption! She would turn on the Stud and come back to her husband, and the fans would go nuts!

This couldn’t be just any angle, though. The fans had to believe there was a chance that the Woman and the Stud were actually having an affair. They had to believe that there was real life animosity between the Stud and the Veteran. Ever since that punk Vince told the world that it was all fake it had become impossible to get that old feeling of realism into an angle. This would take sacrifice, time, and most of all trust. He knew he could trust the Woman. She’d been kind when others were mean. She’d loved him when the whole world hated him. She had been there for him when no one else had. There was no way the love of his life would betray his trust if they were to go through with this. The Stud? Well, he didn’t really know the Stud too well, but the kid was an amazing wrestler and a polite Canadian boy. He spent some time in Japan, and they must’ve taught him about respecting the Veteran’s there. They were all about that, those crazy Japs. The Stud could be trusted. He needed to be trusted. This angle was too important to let a nagging doubt or two ruin it. This was the angle that the Veteran would be famous for. People would be talking about this angle for years to come.

This was going to be the angle that would change his life forever. He could feel it.

The Promoter, the Stud, the Woman and the Veteran sat in the booth in the corner of the diner. While it was the most private booth in the diner, the Veteran was still a little nervous that they’d be recognized. Neither of the wrestlers nor the Promoter was very big, but they had recognizable faces and the Stud stood out everywhere he went. The Veteran knew he shouldn’t be so paranoid. What was the chance that any of these people were even wrestling fans? There was a good chance, and the Veteran knew it. Still, nobody was looking directly at them. It was probably all right.

The Stud was a little unhappy. They had so few off days, and he actually had three in a row starting that day. He had really wanted to go home and see his girlfriend until the Veteran asked him to meet him at this crappy little diner. Still, the Veteran said it was big. Really big. The Promoter was here, so something had to be up. He’d catch a late flight tonight and spend the next two days with his girlfriend. The Stud pushed thoughts of annoyance at this meeting out of his mind and replaced them with thoughts of cheese fries. Yeah, he could definitely go for a plate of cheese fries right now. Mmm. He allowed himself one plate of cheese fries per week. He’d make it up tomorrow in the gym back home. But man, the more he thought about it, the better those cheese fries sounded. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed that the Woman was looking very sexy. She always did.

The Woman was also a little unhappy. She’d been to these meetings before. She knew what went on here. Her husband was about to suggest some ridiculous angle that he saw as the end all be all of angles. The Promoter was going to smile politely, tell him he’d think about it, pick up the check despite the Veteran’s insistence, leave and have a good laugh in the parking lot. The Veteran would be all excited about it for a few days, and then the Promoter would crush his dreams at the next television taping. The Veteran would start moping around backstage, continue his moping at the house, and a few days later burst into a string of expletives that would make that foul mouthed ‘Stunning’ Steve Austin blush. That kid had a mouth on him. Then the Veteran would go back to normal and start planning the next end all be all angle. Why’d he insist upon holding these things in a diner? He had this thing with diners. The Woman hated diners. She wasn’t even hungry. Still, you know what was kind of tempting? The cheese fries. She wouldn’t eat a whole plate by herself or she’d have to spend the next five months in the gym working them out of her butt, but maybe someone would split a plate with her.

The Promoter enjoyed the hell out of this. He loved the Veteran, and liked his story lines. Well, liked and found funny were two very different things. He admired the Veteran’s persistence and his never ending belief in himself and his ideas. Those were good traits. Plus, he was a great worker and a loyal company man. The Veteran wasn’t an idiot or anything, but suggesting that his brother should get hit on the head and pretend to be Hulk Hogan well, the Promoter did not have much confidence in the Veteran’s ideas anymore. He had confidence that the ideas would suck, but that was a different kind of confidence. Still, as much fun as this usually was, the Promoter had a plane to catch. The Promoter said, “Look, I don’t mean to rush you, but I’ve got a plane to catch. What’s up?”

The Veteran smiled and said, “Trust me, after you hear this, you’re going to want to catch a later plane.” The Promoter lifted an eyebrow in curiosity. Usually, the Veteran was so excited about his ideas that he’d just spit them out as quickly as he could. There was something different this time. The Veteran was calm, cool and collected. While the Promoter did not take this as a sign that the angle was going to be any good, it was kind of intriguing. He decided he’d listen for a while and then decide whether or not to miss his plane home. “All right, I’m listening.”

A waitress came over to the table and asked if anyone would like anything to eat. The Veteran told the waitress not yet, and that they would need a bit of privacy. To hammer the point home, the Veteran threw twenty dollars at the waitress and told her he’d signal for her when they were ready. She happily left. The Stud was now very disappointed. They hadn’t even ordered yet and he really wanted some cheese fries.

An hour later and the Stud wasn’t thinking about food in the slightest. He was absolutely intrigued by what the Veteran had just lain out. He had noticed that for the first half an hour, the Promoter had been making all kinds of faces. Not ridiculous faces, but when he was shocked and surprised you could tell. He accentuated everything. Then the Promoter got a serious look on his face, took a pad and a pen out of his jacket and began to take notes. The Woman was reacting differently. She kept shooting nervous glances at the Stud and her husband. The Stud tried to keep his eyes straight ahead looking at the Veteran, but he had to glance at the Woman every once in a while. Why him? Why not someone else? When the Veteran was finished there was a small silence, and then the Stud spoke. “Why me? Why not someone else?”

The Veteran nodded his head. He had expected this. “I trust you. You seem like a good kid. Besides that, I think we could really put on some killer matches. You’re going to be the best in the business one day. If you don’t mind me saying, I’d like to think that working with me would help your development. I’d like to give you any gift I can.” More silence. The Woman thought about saying something, but decided she’d talk with the Veteran when they got home. It was a good angle, but she did not feel at all comfortable with it. It was almost sick. It wasn’t sick, but it was almost sick. She didn’t feel as though she was being pimped out, but there was this feeling in her stomach. Her husband wanted her to kiss another man. She could do a lot worse then the Stud, but still there was a small sense of abandonment.

The Promoter finally spoke, saying, “Ric had plans for him also.” Ric had major plans for the Stud. The Veteran once again nodded his head. He knew about this. He replied, “There’s no reason he can’t be a part of Ric’s plans. He can be a Horseman. In fact, this would do so much to solidify his heel status. No offense kid, but you don’t exactly have much of a personality right now.”

The Stud looked a smidgen indignant, then nodded his head. This angle would be perfect to go along with being a Horseman. The Promoter let out a little laugh at the Stud’s reaction to the insult and said, “Look, I’ve got a plane to catch. I love this angle. We’ll start it at the television taping next Saturday. It’s a really, REALLY great story. Great job.” The Veteran asked the Promoter if he was sure he didn’t want anything to eat. The Promoter was sure, said his good-byes and left.

Left at the table, the Veteran had a gleam in his eyes of pride and anticipation. The Woman had a look of doubt. The Stud tried his best to wear a blank expression. After about a half a minute of awkward silence, the Veteran asked, “So. What do you two think?” The Woman opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it. The Stud shifted uncomfortably in his seat, looked at the Veteran and said, “Well, if you don’t mind me kissing your wife, no offense meant to either of you, but I don’t mind.” In that moment, two things could have happened. The Veteran could have suddenly felt incredibly uneasy about the angle. He could have seen that in the joke there lay a hint of the truth. He could have taken the Woman by the arm, rudely said goodbye to the Stud and left. He could have changed his mind about the whole thing.

The other thing that could have and did happen was after a brief awkward silence the Veteran started laughing. The Woman let out a chuckle and smiled at the Stud. She liked being complimented. The Stud smiled back and let out a little laugh. Before long, their little laughs and chuckles turned into a tidal wave, as the laughs rolled out of their mouths loudly and uncontrollably. The waitress came over and asked them to please calm down and after laughing harder at this comment, they did. She then asked them if they were ready to order and the Veteran asked for just a few more minutes. The waitress left and the Veteran, a look of grave seriousness in his eyes and a smile still on his face, gave the Stud and the Woman a speech similar to the one that he had been given before his first gimmick.

“Okay, I’m glad we can all laugh about this now, but I need to be serious for a moment. The WWF has destroyed any sense of realism that might have once existed. That’s why the fans don’t really care about most of the angles anymore. They know that our hatred for each other isn’t real to begin with, so why should they care about why we hate each other. It’s all just filler to get to the match. They care about over the top characters, like Hogan and Piper. I know that you’ve been suffering because of this, kid. It’s hard for someone who doesn’t have a flashy personality to develop an over the top character. If we’re going to do an adult angle, especially a heel versus heel adult angle, we’re going to have to go that extra step. You understanding me?”

The Stud didn’t understand.

“A wise man told this to me, and now I’m telling it to you. It drives her nuts that I do this, but now she’s going to have to do it also if we want this to work. Kid, live the gimmick!”

“Excuse me?”

“Live the gimmick! You want to get the point across that we hate each other? You really have to hate me. We’re going to have to make some sacrifices, especially my wife and myself. You two have got to get together a lot more often. You’ve got to be seen in public together. You’ve got to be seen entering and leaving the stadium together. You’ve at least got to stay in the same hotel.”

The Woman looked at her husband incredulously. “What do you mean, at least?”

“Well, if it were up to me, you’d be sleeping in the same hotel room.”

“Oh my God! What are you talking about?”

The Veteran made a funny face to put his wife at ease. It didn’t work. He uncomfortably cleared his throat and continued. “You two have to truly believe that you’re in love. Now, you shouldn’t LOVE each other, but you should be in love. Most valets are simply window dressing, but you look at The Macho Man and Elizabeth and you can see that as much as he mistreats her, they love each other. If you’re nothing for him but window dressing, the angle will fail. People won’t care. They won’t buy it. They’ll know that you’re still my wife but you’re pretending to be in love with him. I would not be asking you to do this if I didn’t trust you. I trust the both of you completely. I know you can handle this. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have asked you to do it at all.”

The Woman half-frowned and then laughed. She laughed because she glanced over at the Stud and he had a look of pure terror on his face. He was cute, in a beaten up short Canadian kind of way. She made her decision and looked at her husband. “Look, I’m not going to sleep in the same room as him ever. But I’d be happy to spend more time with him, get to know him. There’s only one man in my life that I’ll ever truly love, and that’s you. I can understand why you want this but I’m still a little insulted. I’ll live the gimmick to a point, for you, but I don’t want my whole life to become a wrestling angle. Okay?

The Veteran held his wife’s hand. “Okay. What about you? Can you handle this?”

The Stud realized that the Veteran was talking to him, but didn’t answer. His first thought was that his girlfriend was going to kill him when she heard about this. She would not be too happy with him spending most of his time with a married woman that he was supposedly stealing away from another wrestler. Still, this was a major angle. This was his chance to really develop as a performer. He told his girlfriend when he first signed with the company that there would be major sacrifices. She understood then. She understood all the time he spent away from home. She would not understand this. Lucy, he had some splainin to do. “I can handle this. Yeah. I can. Can we eat? I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”

The Woman smiled brightly. This kid was very, very cute. A little young, but just a little. The Veteran called the waitress over and told her that they were ready to order. The waitress mumbled something like ‘it’s about time’ or something. Her boss was very upset that she had just let them sit there for an hour. The waitress turned to the Stud and began to ask him what he’d like when the Woman realized she had no one to split the food with her.

“Honey, would you mind if we split a plate of ”

“Cheese fries, please,” the Stud said. The Veteran saw a look of surprise on his wife’s face and asked her what was it.

“Nothing. I was just really craving some cheese fries. Would you mind if I had some of yours?” The Woman looked the Stud in the eyes and gave him yet another smile. She had been so upset such a short time ago at this table and because of this kid she now couldn’t go thirty seconds without smiling. The Stud smiled back and then looked down at his feet, clearly embarrassed. He then raised his eyes to see that the Woman was still looking at him, smiling. He met her stare and with a very small hint of flirtation said, “You can help yourself to whatever you’d like.”

As they continued to look at each other, a feeling swelled up inside of the Veteran. He saw the way he was looking at her, whether he meant to or not. He saw the way she was looking at him, whether she meant to or not. Not able to keep his feelings to himself, he grabbed the Woman’s forearm and the Stud’s elbow and joyously proclaimed, “You’re already getting it! This is going to be great!”

It had been four months since the business lunch and the cheese fries, and the Woman was feeling great. Not only was she feeling great, she looked good. Her husband’s workout regime was nothing compared to the Stud’s. It had been torture at first, but eventually she got the hang of it. God, she looked in the mirror now and liked who looked back. She was tight everywhere. She had somehow managed to slow down the sagging without cosmetic surgery. Although she was trying her hardest to truly hate him like he wanted her to the looks the Veteran gave her in the locker room made her feel like she was twenty all over again. He really found her attractive again. She knew he loved her, but it had been so long since he had looked at her like he did now.

Not only was her body looking better, her career had never been better. She got pity applause during the first month when the Veteran had begun yelling at her after he lost. He was really channeling the spirit of Randy Savage. Then when the Stud began defending her, she got the ‘Dump Your Husband For That Guy’ applause. When she turned on her husband and joined up with the Stud, she was suddenly receiving the ‘We Love You’ applause from the crowd. She and the Stud, both heels, were hearing huge cheers and huge boos in every stadium. They were getting the best of both worlds for their performances. Her husband’s angle had worked flawlessly except for the fact that the crowd wasn’t really coming around in cheering for him. The crowd truly hated the Veteran and the more evil the deeds that the Woman and the Stud inflicted upon him, the more cheers the two of them received. Oh well. It was his fault.

Meanwhile, the Stud was quickly becoming her best friend. Before she spent so much time with him she had found him to be a little drab. She had not known much more about him then his character. But he was so interesting in real life! They enjoyed the same music, the same foods. And while he was a very serious person at random times he would interject a strange but hilarious comment. He was funny. Cute and funny. He was just adorable in a manly kind of way. The funniest thing was when they first kissed at a television taping. He tried to wrap his arms around her without actually coming in contact with her body, and then had leaned in and put his mouth on hers without doing anything with his lips. The fans didn’t buy it and the Veteran had yelled at him for at least a half an hour.

“WHAT ARE YOU, A HOMO? YOU EVER KISS A WOMAN, HOMO BOY?”

If she had to count the number of times he said homo in that chew-out session she’d put it at around 5 or 6 hundred. She felt bad for the Stud, but at the same time was a little offended. She approached him after the Veteran had stopped screaming and cursing.

She asked him, “What happened out there?”

“I don’t know. I just froze up. I knew my girlfriend would see it, and I knew that he would see it ”

“Listen, you’ve got to relax. It’s just kissing.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I promise that next time I’ll be more passionate.”

The Veteran wasn’t buying that. “I’m sorry I screamed. What you did out there was the exact opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The Stud nodded his head. “I know.”

The Veteran bit his bottom lip and shook his head. “I know you know. What I don’t know is whether you’ll freeze up again when the cameras are on. All right. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to kiss my wife right now.” The Stud stood frozen, a look of panic in his eyes. The Veteran began to get upset and raised his voice slightly. “Did you hear me? I want you to kiss my wife right now!” The Stud shuffled his feet, looked around for help that wasn’t forthcoming, walked over to the Woman and planted a very quick peck on her lips. Despite the circumstance, it had made her giggle. The Veteran was enraged. “DOES THAT LOOK LIKE YOUR SISTER? YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN LOVE WITH HER! KISS HER!”

The Stud was now petrified. If the Veteran tried to attack him, the Stud would easily kick the Veteran’s ass without a shred of fear. However, if the Veteran tried to make the Stud french kiss his wife in front of him, the Stud turned into a quivering idiot. The Woman touched her husband’s arm for him to calm down and walked up to the Stud.

“Close your eyes. It’s all right. You can close them. I won’t bite you. Now, imagine I’m your girlfriend. Kiss me.” The Stud did, and though it was still kind of awkward the two shared a very nice kiss. He then opened his eyes and smiled at the Woman. She smiled back. A still upset but much softer speaking Veteran interrupted their smiling.

“That was better, but you can’t imagine she’s someone else. Look at HER. Touch her skin.” The Stud did. “You feel how soft it is? Look into her eyes.” The Stud did. “You see how beautiful they are? You’ve talked with her. You know what kind of inner beauty she has, and it’s not just inner beauty. Look at her body. Look at those legs, those thighs, those breasts.” The Stud did. “You are looking at a Woman who any guy who came to see our show tonight would happily trade in his wife or girlfriend for. You are looking at, in my opinion, the most beautiful woman on the planet. Do you agree?” Lost in a trance, the Stud nodded his head. “Then kiss her.” The Stud did, and it was the most passionate kiss he had ever given anyone in his life and the most passionate kiss the Woman had ever received. Five times it looked like it was about to stop, and four times it continued. They kissed for a good two minutes. When they stopped, they pulled their heads only slightly back and stared at each other. The Woman, out of instinct, brought her lips back together with his for an instant and then withdrew again. Suddenly they both realized that her husband was still in the room. They turned to face him and he glared at them both, shook his head and began clapping his hands. “That,” the Veteran said, “was a kiss.”

The Woman sighed at the memory of this kiss and sat down on the bed in the hotel room. Despite the Veteran’s suggestion, she and the Stud were not sharing a room. They did make sure they had rooms right next to one another and most nights wound up staying up and talking, but they both went to bed in their separate rooms. He loved talking about his girlfriend and usually did for hours. The Woman knew she shouldn’t, but she was starting to feel a little jealous. A married Woman feeling jealous of a kid and his girlfriend! It was ridiculous. From what he told the Woman she was a very nice girl, and he was a very nice guy. Nice people deserved each other. Still, she wondered if he ever looked at his girlfriend the way he looked at her sometimes. The Veteran never looked at the Woman the way the Stud did. It was dumb, but it made her feel like she was floating when the Stud looked at her like that. It made her feel like the head cheerleader whom the star football player had a crush on. It was just so nice to be appreciated again.

“YOU SHUT UP! I DON’T NEED TO SHUT UP! YOU SHUT UP! I PAYED GOOD MONEY FOR THIS HOTEL AND I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE!”

What the hell was that? Was that the Stud? Something was going on in the hallway.

“SIR! Please. I ”

She couldn’t here what the other person was saying anymore. What the hell was going on? She opened her door a crack and peaked into the hallway.

The Stud was standing there, a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag in his hand. He was stumbling around as a small man in a pair of beige slacks and a green jacket was whispering to him. He looked familiar. The Woman realized she had seen him at the front desk. There was a smell in the hall, and the woman saw a nice little pile of vomit by the ice machine. How did the Stud get this way? He hardly ever drank and when he did it was always in moderation. Suddenly, the Stud began flinging his arms around wildly as the man in the green jacket jumped back in fear.

“NO! IT DOESN’T MATTER! GOING TO MY ROOM, NOTHING! NOTHING! IT’S OVER! IT’S DONE! IT’S ALL DONE!”