Harry Black slowly blinked his eyes open and began to come around. The first thing that hit him was the taste of stale beer on his tongue, the second thing was the fact that his body aches all over. Harry anxiously tried to think back to what had just happened the night before, had he been in some kind of car accident on the way home?
Then the memories slowly started to trickle back to him as if someone was feeding them through a beer soaked sieve. Harry last night had completed at the FWF event known as Pandemonium. Such was Harry’s ability to dodge any hard work it was only the second time in four weeks that he had actually had to compete in any kind of physical altercation in the FWF, however despite his best protests he had somehow found himself competing in two matches on the one card.
First Harry had taken on a man known as Kenneth Williams in a singles match which would see one of the two progress into the next round of the tournament to crown the first ever FWF Champion. Harry had walked into the match fully expecting to be defeated, and he had been provided right! However even Harry had surprised himself with how much of a fight he had put up against Williams who was a name held in high regard in wrestling circles. Harry vaguely remembered walking to the back after the match and feeling that if he hadn’t been overcome by the smell of second hand weed smoke that was oozing from every pore of Williams’s body every time they locked up then he might have actually had his arm raised.
Sitting in the backstage area Harry had thought that his night was over, only to be approached by FWF management and informed that he was now to take part in the main event of the night as well, which would be a battle royal match which would actually see him get a second chance to re-enter the tournament. Despite strong protests from Black he was forced back out to ringside to take part in his second match of the night with the FWF roster stretched thin from the recent cuts of signings that had been made at the start of the promotion but then not been kept around after the initial down sizing.
Harry remembered being pissed at having to take part in a second match, but pleased enough to still have a job, unlike the guy in the lizard mask.
The battle royal match had gone much the same way as Harry’s first match of the night, with Harry actually surprising himself a little and scoring quite a few eliminations in a row. At one point it looked like Harry actually might be on to win the match and progress to the next round of the tournament after all, only to be eventually dumped out of the match by a man named Raging Dead. Harry distinctly remembered that moment because he was more confused that someone would actually name themselves Raging Dead than being eliminated from the match.
With Harry’s memories seemingly fully restored from the night before, he remembered just how much he had ached as he tried to sit up from the sofa where he had finally collapsed last night. Harry knocked over a cluster of beer bottles that were lined up by his feet as he sat up right and tried to clear the grogginess from his head. Harry had gone from avoiding stepping into the ring as much as he could to having two matches in one night, and he was definitely feeling it.
After a few seconds of sitting still, staring at the floor and trying his best not to throw up last night’s beverage selection, Harry slowly stumbled up to his feet and made his way through his squalid apartment and to the bathroom. After washing his mouth out from the tap that looked like it hadn’t been cleaned this decade, Harry looked at himself in the cracked mirror that sat above the sink, the light blinking away in the background.
Harry studied his bloodshot eyes and grazed face. Usually when Harry completed this routine in the morning he felt nothing but shame, however this morning it was a little different. Sure he still looked like crap, he still had the usual stinking hangover but he had walked out there twice to the FWF ring. Sure he had lost twice in one night, but he had nearly won twice in one night…. For a beat up bum like Harry Black this was progress!
Harry finished the routine stare down with himself in the mirror as he moved back into the only other room in the small cramped apartment. Harry looked around at the room which was nicely decorated with a sprawl of empty beer bottles and half eaten takeaway cartons. It was only a month ago that he had thought his luck had changed, living it up in Las Vegas on the FWF’s dollar, and now here he was back to rock bottom.
Pulling on yesterday’s clothes and then taking a few bites of cold pizza, Harry slowly left the apartment and was immediately blinded by the bright midday sun. Harry shuffled along the sidewalk with his head down, trying to not make eye contact or get into conversation with anyone that he came across. Usually the empty beer bottles would be a wake up call to Harry that it was time for a trip down to the local corner shop to restock on supplies.
If two matches in one night hadn’t been enough, Harry had been informed by management that he had actually been booked for the first ever FWF PPV event which had interestingly been titled ‘Make America Wrestle Again’. Harry wasn’t sure how he had managed to make it onto a PPV card having technically lost three matches in a row now in the FWF, but he knew that the letters P-P-V meant one thing to him - a big pay day!
It had been years since Harry had competed on a PPV card, hell most of the shows he had competed on in the last three years didn’t even have a TV broadcast! However the last time he was on PPV is had meant major beer tokens, and he was sure that despite the downsizing that had happened in the FWF from the opening night that this would be no different! Black ducked out of the sun and into the local corner shop, grabbing a couple of six packs from the large walk-in fridge. Upon picking up the beverages of choice, he noticed a couple of kids in the shop wearing wrestling t-shirts who were in the queue to pay.
Full expecting to be recognised, Harry joined the back of the queue and kept his head down.
“I can’t wait for Make America Wrestling Again! I’m looking forward to it more that Christmas!”
Harry could overhear the two kids talking wrestling, he shifted the beers to one hand so that he could root around for a sharpie pen that he had always carried with him since getting started in the business for moments just like these…
“Hell yeah it’s going to be great. I can’t wait to see who is going to be the first ever FWF Champion!”
Harry pulled out that marker pen ready for the kids to ask for his autograph. The thought of charging them a few dollars for the autograph crossed his mind which would take care of the cost of the beers, but he quickly dismissed it, he was still in a good mood.
“Not only that but Lance Mingle is in a match as well! My dad is always going on about what a great wrestler he was back in the day! I can’t remember who he is up against thought?”
Harry smuggly cleared his throat, standing just behind the two kids as the queue continued to slowly edge forward.
“Oh it’s some jobber from England, I can’t remember his name. He hasn’t even won a match yet!”
Harry could feel his face start to turn pink with embarrassment as he slowly slid the marker pen back in his pocket.
“Oh yeah I remember now, isn’t it Harry Pack or something? Maybe Mingle will punch him hard enough in the mouth to fix his teeth!”
The two kids laughed to each other as they paid for their goods and turned to face Harry, before walking past him, totally oblivious to who he was.
Harry quickly paid for his beers and left, his cheeks still pink with embarrassment. Quickly knocking the top off of one of the beers that were still cold from the chiller, Harry chugged it as he struggled home with the rest of them, the good mood from earlier now a distant memory.
Thinking about the words that the kids had said stung Harry more than he thought they would, mainly because he knew they were not unfair. He had arrived in the FWF looking to keep his head down and make a quick buck, but he hadn’t put too much thought to what he had become - a laughing stock who was considered a joke even compared to an overweight and over the hill journeyman like Lance Mingle. It was at this point of the day that Harry made a pact with himself, a pact that would involve him drinking the rest of the beers before doing some serious research on his opponent. Lance Mingle would be a turning point in the career of Harry Black, he didn’t much care about making america wrestle again, but he was sure as hell going to get himself fighting again.