A Wrestling Tale: Chuck’s Night


The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or deceased is purely coincidental.

There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.
– Michel de Montaigne

It was Chuck’s night. Every boy in the back believed it had to be Chuck’s night. He had been wrestling for the same company for fifteen years and he had improved with every match. Chuck was over with the crowd, he was over with management, he was over with the other wrestlers. Tonight he was going to become champion. He had to.

For too long Chuck had been the bridesmaid, never the bride. For too long he was the one left bloody in the ring. He had been defeated by the heels as a face and defeated by the faces as a heel. He never complained about a stupid storyline, he never refused to job to the greenest of muscle bound new kids and he never went out of his way to injure an opponent. He never questioned the direction of the company, and he never once sat in on a creative team meeting. All Chuck did was put butts in the seats and sell merchandise and help make other wrestlers’ careers.

The PPV was in his hometown. They’d been building the angle based around the fact that Chuck just “wasn’t fated” to win the championship. They’d actually shown a video package of every major event where Chuck had failed to win the world title. 59 times! He had lost 59 times, and the champion promised this would make 60. Chuck had sworn in a promo that if he lost, he would never again challenge for the world title. He dedicated the victory to his kids. There would be riots in the arena if he lost. It had to be his night.

Brian, that asshole, he wasn’t a real champion. He could go drink for drink with anyone and he could haze a new wrestler like no one else, but he wasn’t the man to carry the company. He was an asshole to the fans publicly and an asshole to the wrestlers privately. The boss had some kind of boner for him, so with a major absence of major league heels he was pushed to the moon. It wouldn’t last. It couldn’t. Brian couldn’t hold up his end of a match and his promos were just average. He was a transitional champion, and that transition was going to take place in the ring tonight to a man who deserved the recognition of being a world champion more than anyone else in the business who did not previously hold a title belt.

Chuck wasn’t completely without faults though. Sometimes it seemed like he didn’t want it enough. He fit in with the boys but didn’t lead them. Sure, he was always there to offer someone advice when asked, and he was good for a drink before heading back to his hotel room, but besides that he seemed to be a shadow. Chuck and his walkman became just another fixture in every locker room across the country, like the crappy buffet table or that one potted plant. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and Chuck didn’t seem to be squeaking at all.

Brian, for all of his bullshit, at least he attempted to lead the team. He was always buying the other boys drinks and taking them to whore houses. You wanted to score some crack? Well, Brian didn’t have anything to do with the stuff but he knew where to get some. If you were new and Brian saw that you didn’t shake the make-up lady’s hand, you could be sure that your ass was going to get duct taped. Brian sure looked out for the boys and made sure they had a good time.

Still, you could see the difference between the kinds of people Chuck and Brian were. Chuck sold a sloppy looking move like he had been shot between the eyes. Brian would no sell the same move and then stiff the other wrestler. When a fight would break out backstage, Chuck would be the first one up and trying to separate the two men he viewed as brothers. Brian would watch the same fight and crack up, then later at the bar tell one of the wrestlers involved in the fight that the other one called him a pussy. Chuck congratulate another wrestler on a great match, while Brian would be in booking meetings the next day telling the boss that he had to go over that wrestler. Chuck would practice his promos in his hotel room and ask the better speakers how he could improve it, while Brian would glance at the script and go out there and pull something from his ass. Chuck went out of his way to get the crowd into the match through showing extreme weakness and strength while Brian relied on hand gestures and yelling during the match. Chuck was an amazing but quiet person. Brian was an average loud person.

This HAD to be Chuck’s night.

Chuck was backstage listening to his walkman as usual. One of the boys approached him and Chuck took off his headphones. The boy asked if Chuck was going to win the title. Chuck shrugged his shoulders and said, “Brian’s talking to the team. Ending hasn’t been decided yet. They might want to push the feud for another month or two.” The boy wished Chuck luck and walked back to his friends. Chuck put his headphones back on.

“Brian’s trying to screw over Chuck.”
“That asshole.”
“No way. It’s Chuck’s night.”
“Yo, let’s get a bunch of the guys together. Faces. After the match let’s put Chuck on our shoulders, then after the show goes off the air we can get a bunch of the heels to come out and join us.”
“That’ll be nice. He deserves it.”
“Did you hear me? Brian is trying to screw him over!”
“He can’t. It’s Chuck’s night.”
“So? What’re we going to do, lift him up on our shoulders if he loses? If we make the boys stick around for nothing, we’re the assholes.”

Brian walked into the dressing room, a giant grin on his face. He slapped one of the boys on the ass.

“HA! How’s your cheeks feelin’?”
“Still a little sore.”
“Still a little sore WHAT?”
“Still a little sore sir.”
”It was just a little crazy glue you f*cking pussy. We’re drinking after the show!”

Brian walked up to Chuck. Chuck lowered his headphones and Brian made sure that no one was listening and talked to him. Chuck responded, still as an oak. Brian responded back with huge hand gestures. Chuck smiled and shook Brian’s hand. Brian got up and left, smacking the boy on the ass one more time and laughing about it before exiting the room.

“Did you see that? Chuck’s going to win!”
“The smile you mean? Chuck smiles at everyone. He’s polite like that.”
“Come on man! Brian is telling him the finish of the match and he smiles. Let’s get all of the guys and tell them what we’re doing.”

One by one the matches took place. It was a good card. Maybe knowing that there was some justice in the world made the boys go that extra mile, but every punch was sold, every move crisp. Followers usually emulate their leader, and maybe they were trying to put a little bit of Chuck into their matches that night. After each match, the participants would stop by in the locker room and wish Chuck good luck before pretending to leave. A few of them even stopped by Brian and wished him luck, telling him they’d see him at the bar and they’d buy him a drink. No one mentioned to Brian they were sorry he’d be losing. After all, they weren’t supposed to know the outcome of the match. The boys convened in the parking lot and plotted to make the night even more special for Chuck.

Then it was time for the main event. Chuck came out first to an incredible ovation. He kissed his wife and kids who were seated in the front row, then raised his daughter and son’s hands. It was a cute scene. It undoubtedly told the audience that Chuck would be winning the title. It was his town, his family, his right. It was his night.

“1! 2! 3!”

And garbage rained down upon the ring. Brian had planned on gloating for a while, but the fans were ravenous. It reminded Brian of those stories the old timers told about how fans used to stab and beat up wrestlers because of matches. Everyone knew it was fake now. There was no cause for this. Brian quickly ran to the back with his title. Brian was a little surprised to see the entire roster behind the curtain with more pissed off expressions than he could count, but there was no time for questions. He got the hell to his car and got the hell out of there. He knew of a whorehouse on Smith Street. He’d pop in for a quickie and then head to the bar.

Chuck was lying in the ring to sell the beating. He had expected Brian to gloat or attack him again, but man his people were pissed. Chuck looked at his wife and kids and saw that his children were crying. His wife looked upset. Chuck quickly gave them a wink and resumed playing dead. He had thought he was bringing them to the arena to see him become a world champion, but plans change. No big deal. Not really.

Chuck felt a twinge of sadness. While he didn’t care all that much, he had to admit that part of him wanted to be the world champion. He didn’t want to see his family upset. He didn’t want to see his fans booing like this. Chuck figured he’d just close his eyes until these feeling went away, these feelings of being used and cheated and lied to and having promises broken and killing himself digging as hard as he could for the company only to discover that the hole he dug had been for himself. He just closed his eyes and let the feeling of being unappreciated melt away. He was just floating. No. He wasn’t floating.

He was being lifted.

Chuck opened his eyes and discovered he was in midair. He felt hands supporting his back, so he sat up and discovered that he was on the shoulders of two of the boys. They were carrying him around the ring. That was stupid. He had lost. And why were the faces and heels mixing here? Chuck hated it when management didn’t tell him about an angle, but this was just ridiculous.

The crowd was cheering. Every wrestler in the ring was applauding, some of them with tears in their eyes. One of the boys went over to where Chuck’s wife and kids were sitting and escorted them over the barricade and into the ring. Chuck looked at his wife, and she had tears in her eyes.

Chuck got it. This was supposed to be his night. It sort of was, but it wasn’t. He didn’t need it.

Chuck didn’t need his night when he had his life.