Crisis of Confidence
Posted on 04/15/23 at 9:43pm by Adam Ellis
Event: ReVival 26
“…You see, on that first Easter morning things looked very bleak to Mary Magdalene…”
Ginny Van Lear, dressed in her Sunday best for Easter, sat straight up in her pew in the back of the First Baptist Church in downtown Greenville, Texas… eyes focused towards the pulpit… fully attentive… and listening to the pastor’s Easter Sunday sermon with her left hand placed on top of her husband Adam Ellis’s right hand.
“…that morning, as she came to the tomb, probably to anoint his body for burial, her heart was heavy and in her soul… it was still dark…”
Ginny leaned in and whispered “I luv you, honey” in his ear.
It was the morning after Culture Shock. The only reason Adam was there was because it was Easter Sunday and Ginny insisted that they go to church- irregardless of the fact that he’d gone through a meat grinder the night before and they didn’t get back home from Dallas until after midnight.
When they arrived at church, people did double-takes when the couple passed by. They knew that Adam’s occupation was a professional wrestler.
But they never envisioned Adam showing up to church with…
-a nasty black mark circling under his eye… courtesy of a flying knee and a series of right-hand punches from PRIME legend Tyler Rayne and a nasty headbutt from Paxton Ray. Oh… then the running bulldog from Scott Douglas.
-red puffiness in his jaw… thanks to a Sage Pontiff elbow and jawbreaker, Tristin Crispen-Gladhappy’s right hand, Paxton Ray’s big fucking forearm that he jammed in there to cut off Adam’s breathing… Rayne’s uppercut that sent Adam into la la land… Cecilworth Farthington’s boot to the face and jumping knee strike that further sent Adam into the twilight zone.
-him laboring to breathe because his ribs were sore as hell after Matt Ward, Rayne, and Rocky DeLeon drove their knees into his midsection, Ray hit his big splash… plus Mortimer Knightengale’s dropkick… and Ned Reform’s boot to the midsection… oh… and Mushigihara’s right hand to the sternum.
“…what was she going to do without Jesus – her friend and Savior and the work they had been doing together. Sadness, disappointment, and emptiness consumed her. Her soul languished in spiritual darkness…”
If Adam was actually listening to the pastor speak, he might have appreciated that passage.
But he wasn’t. He sat and stewed in the pew in immense pain from the night before and wallowed in the darkness that enveloped him. Adam looked as if he’d been through the losing end of a fifteen-round heavyweight boxing match and wanted to be anywhere but at church that morning.
After Farthington unceremoniously eliminated him from the match, Adam limped to the back and grabbed his stuff in the dressing room. Eschewing a shower and still in his wrestling gear, he wanted to leave the arena as quickly as possible. Adam walked right past Ginny in the hallway and bolted for the exit with his wife running to catch up with him.
He didn’t say a single word on the entire drive back home. Ginny tried to talk to him. But after five minutes of her carrying on a one-sided conversation where she’d talk and Adam just drove, he finally told Ginny to stop. He just wanted to go home, go to bed, and forget all about the disaster at Culture Shock.
Ginny all but drug him out of bed and made him get dressed for church. She tried to get him to talk but he just drove the car and sulked.
To him, it was an unmitigated disaster.
“…most of us can probably relate to Mary because we have all had days when we stand with our dreams in shambles around our feet. Our children go astray. Our marriage is crumbling. We get a pink slip from our employer, or worse still, the test that comes back from the lab is positive. We ask, “Why me, Lord?” My life was going so well and now this darkness…”
But what really upset Adam?
The bitterest pill Adam had to swallow from the battle royale?
Jonathan-Christopher Hall finished tenth- Adam finished thirtieth.
HALL FINISHED TENTH AND HE CRAPPED OUT AT THIRTY.
And he was pissed.
Adam had done what Charlie asked him to do and left Ginny on the ramp to go to the back instead of being at ringside with him. But yet, Vickie Hall came to the ring with her husband and stuck her crooked nose into the match. Adam’s main goal coming into Culture Shock wanting to get a little payback on the Halls for the love knux incident and he never even got near JCH. Sure, he managed to deliver a couple of shots to Sage Pontiff in retaliation for Pontiff knocking him out with a ring hammer last year- Adam’s first PRIME loss- but Pontiff got the better of him… again.
The reason Ginny stayed backstage per Charlie Blackwell’s counsel because Charlie didn’t want Adam to be known as one half of a really cute young couple… one of which just happens to be a promising young wrestler. He wanted Charlie to become a champion.
What did Ginny staying in the back get him?
With all the top-shelf PRIME wrestlers and legends returning for one night occupying two rings, Adam felt completely out of place for the first time in his wrestling career. He had no answer to anything other than to just stand there and get the crap beat out of him for over an hour.
He’d failed in every aspect of what he wanted to accomplish in the match.
He felt utterly and completely alone out there.
He felt utterly and completely exposed.
A fish out of water.
An inexperienced rookie in way over his head.
A wrestler at the Missouri Valley Wrestling level going up against talent who was way out of his league.
Adam was alone.
Overwhelmed and on his own.
The drive home after church didn’t go much better. Adam still wasn’t talking and Ginny began to become a little frustrated with him. Adam went right to bed after church and then proceeded to stay there the entire day licking his wounds from the night before. He could hear Ginny’s exasperated voice in the living room talking to her friend about what happened as he continued to process everything that went wrong the night before. Adam finally fell asleep for good in the early evening and was sound asleep when Ginny came in later.
The next morning, Adam pulled himself out of bed, showered, and made the drive into downtown Dallas to the Sportatorium to meet up with Charlie Blackwell for training. He still looked a little rough around the edges and the dark cloud over his head signaled he was in a horrible mood when he walked through the door and saw Charlie sitting on the ring apron.
“Are you okay?” Blackwell asked.
“What you do think?” Adam spat back.
“I think you got your ass kicked, that’s what.”
“Thank you, Mr. Obvious,” shot back Adam. “I didn’t make that connection.”
Charlie did his best to ignore the heavy sarcasm dripping all over Adam’s voice.
“I told you not to have any unrealistic expectations about how you’d finish in the battle royal,” Charlie said, trying to calm the kid down. He realized a softer approach with the young wrestler would be needed this morning. “Look, I would have been happy if you made the top twenty. If you really think about it, thirty isn’t that bad given who showed up.”
Adam huffed, “I might have done better had Ginny been at ringside.”
“Really now?” Charlie answered, still trying to cool Adam’s temper.
“Jonathon-Christopher Hall had Vickie at his side and finished tenth…” Adam made sure to accentuate ‘tenth’ when he repeated it for a second time to illustrate his anger with Charlie. “…TENTH!”
Blackwell wasn’t having it and fired right back, “Vickie Hall didn’t do squat in the match. They had the entire fucking Love Convoy out there to run interference for JCH.”
“He finished tenth.”
“A blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn, Adam, so fuck JCH, you’ve got bigger things to worry about.”
“OH?” Adam shouted back. “What could be worse than what happened Saturday night?”
“Well,” Charlie said matter of factly without missing a beat. “It looks like you’ve been booked to face Cecilworth Farthington at the next ReVival.
It took Adam a second to process what he’d just heard. He finally asked, “What?”
“You heard me, you’re main eventing the next ReVival on the twenty-first against Cecilworth Farthington.”
The sucker punch of the announcement took Adam’s breath away.
“So maybe…,” Charlie went on. “…just maybe, you can channel this raw anger that’s raging inside of you and use it to motivate yourself to move on from what happened, rise up and get back in the ring, and give Farthington a good match.“
Adam just looked back at him with the most incredulous expression on his face. Charlie knew he wasn’t buying it.
“Kid,” he said, nearly pleading with Adam to listen to reason. “It was just… one… bad… night-“
“Why?” Adam finally spoke.
“Why would they book me against Farthington after what happened at Culture Shock?”
“I can’t answer that, Adam.” Charlie had no insight on why the match had been booked. “I just know that-“
“Great. So basically, after getting blown up at Culture Shock, getting my ass handed to me, I’m going to come right back and get destroyed by Farthington in the fucking main event of the next show?”
Adam’s sarcasm meter had pegged in the red. The fact that Ellis was also indiscriminately dropping F-bombs left and right surprised Blackwell as that was totally out of character for Adam. He never spoke like that in the gym… or anywhere else for that matter.
“That’s just great. Let’s watch the fucking rookie serve as a fucking punching bag again.”
“Maybe he’ll break my fucking arm. Why not? It’s about the only part of my body that doesn’t hurt like hell right now!”
“Stop it!” Charlie snapped back. He mustered his authoritative voice and told Adam, “You’re overreacting-“
“Overreacting? Like hell I am. Did you watch what happened? Did you not see how bad I looked out there… how out of place I looked. I didn’t belong in that ring. I was a fucking rank amateur compared to everyone in that ring.”
“Goddammit Adam, I said you can’t judge yourself on what happens in a battle royale. It’s done. It’s over with. We move on to the next match-”
“I can’t beat him,” interrupted Adam.
“Can’t beat who?”
“Sure you can.”
“Really? I can beat Cecilworth Farthington? Did you not see how pretty much everyone in that ring beat the hell out of me at Culture Shock?”
“Adam, you are overreacting-“
“STOP TELLING ME I’M OVERREACTING!” shouted Adam, his voice echoing throughout the empty arena.
Charlie just stood there. He held up his hands to try to cool Adam down.
“Fuck it,” Adam said as he bent down to swoop up his duffel bag in his hand. “I’m out of here.”
He turned and marched towards the door.
“Adam!” Charlie called out. “Wait!”
“I’m going home,” Adam said, continuing to walk away from Blackwell.
“Kid, let’s talk this through.” Charlie could only watch Adam literally try to rip the door off its hinges and then slam it hard shut behind him. Shaking his head, he muttered, “Shit.”
The sound of someone knocking on the driver’s side window of Adam’s Volkswagen Jetta jogged him back into consciousness. Blinking his eyes at a rapid pace and trying to get his bearings, he recognized the face of the person who was pounding on the glass.
“Adam!” Ray McAvay- the owner of Missouri Valley Wrestling- said in his most stern tone of voice.
Adam opened the door to his car.
“What the hell has gotten into you and what the hell are you doing here?”
‘Here’ was the driveway-slash-parking area right outside Joe Bergman’s Barn in Plattin, Missouri- some forty miles south of St. Louis
How did he get there? Following the major blowout Adam had with Charlie Blackwell, he threw his stuff in the back seat and pulled his Jetta out of the Sportatorium’s parking lot at a high rate of speed. He jumped back on I-30 in downtown Dallas and started back towards Greenville… also at a high rate of speed.
But then a funny thing happened…
As the Greenville exit came up, instead of taking the exit ramp Adam blew right past it and just kept going. He drove past Greenville… then past Texarkana into Arkansas… up to Little Rock where he picked up US 67 and headed north into Missouri until he found himself at Joe Bergman’s place in rural Plattin, Missouri. With various stops added in, it took him about over twelve hours to make the drive. He arrived there at just after ten o’clock at night and simply parked the car. Then he went to sleep.
“Do you realize that your wife is frantically looking for you?” McAvay thundered. “Jesus Christ Adam, you scared the hell out of her. What the fuck were you thinking?”
Adam also turned his phone off somewhere between Greenville and Texarkana after making up his mind about where he’d decided to go.
“It would have been nice if you would have told someone where you were going or even…” McAvay’s face was bright red as he brought down the thunder and railed away at Ellis. “…I don’t know, ANSWERED YOUR DAMN CELL PHONE BECAUSE GINNY AND CHARLIE KEPT CALLING YOU AND NO ONE COULD GET A HOLD OF YOU AND NO ONE HAD ANY IDEA WHERE YOU WERE!”
When Adam did not show up at the trailer in Greenville that night, Ginny called Blackwell in a panic to see if he knew where he was. Charlie told her he’d stormed out of the Sportatorium and said he was going home.
Then the texts started flying all over the place.
Charlie- who’d put two and two together in his head when Ginny told him Adam didn’t come back to the trailer- texted McAvay to let him know Adam had disappeared and might be on his way back ‘home.’ He also kept Ginny up to speed on what he’d found out.
McAvay texted Dawn McGill (one of the chief trainers at Joe Bergman’s Barn and basically running the place as Bergman is overseas at the moment) and alerted her that Adam might be on his way there.
So, when McGill arrived early in the morning and saw Adam’s Jetta parked by the barn, she immediately alerted McAvay and Blackwell via text.
McAvay then drove down to Plattin and… here we are.
“WELL?” Ray said, still waiting for an explanation from Adam for why he was there.
“Ray, I want to come home,” Adam sheepishly said.
“Home?” McAvay replied. “Your home is in Greenville, Texas.”
Adam clarified. “I want to come back to MVW.”
McAvay rolled his eyes.
“No fucking way.”
“No Adam. You’re not going to take the easy way out. You need to grow the fuck up. This isn’t high school. This is your job. This is the big-time and this is a business. You are privileged to be paid to do what you’ve told me a million times you love to do- wrestle. You are being mentored by one of the best wrestlers who never made it up to the big time- Charlie Blackwell. You are wrestling at one of the pre-eminent wrestling companies in the world… PRIME… a company that will also help you continue to develop your wrestling skills by putting you up against the best wrestlers on the planet.” He paused and then added, “I’m not going to let you throw away your dreams over one bad night in the ring.”
The chastened twenty-two-year-old absorbed McAvay’s no-nonsense dressing down in utter silence and no defense.
“So here’s what you’re going to do, Adam. You’re going to get back into your car. You’re going to drive back home to Texas. You’re going to apologize to Charlie for the petulant way you acted toward him. And…,” Ray took a quick breath…
“Ray,” a female voice called out.
…before he finished his grand peroration in an unyielding commanding voice, “YOU’RE GOING TO APOLOGIZE TO YOUR WIFE!”
“RAY!” the voice called out again, this time at full volume.
McAvay turned and saw Dawn McGill coming towards them.
“Ray, that’s enough,” she said, throwing in the metaphorical towel like a trainer stopping a boxing match because a boxer couldn’t defend himself. “Let me talk to him.”
And with that parting shot, McAvay stomped off and went inside the barn muttering multiple unpleasant things under his breath.
McGill leaned against Adam’s Jetta. “I know everything,”
His shoulders drooped…
“Yeah, Charlie texted me. I know everything that happened.”
…and his head dipped down.
“Adam. I understand,” she said in a soft voice. “You fell off the horse. It wasn’t fun and it hurts. It happens. Now, you have to pick yourself up and get back on the horse and learn from your mistakes. You have to keep going. Culture Shock was a big deal. You wrestling in a match with the best wrestlers PRIME has to offer was a big deal. The fact you didn’t do as well as you thought you would… is a big deal. You cared. You wanted to do well. And it didn’t happen for you.”
Adam walked to the car and sat down on the hood. Hands folded. Looking down. Listening.
“I promise you, what happened at Culture Shock is not the end of the world… nor is it the end of your wrestling career. It’s just a marker in time… a benchmark for you to work from going forward. You’ve been told you have potential… and you do… but you feel let down by what happened at Culture Shock. I can definitely relate to that.”
She reached out and patted his shoulder.
Charlie says you’ve got a match next week… right?”
She paused until she detected a slight nod from him and then went on.
“Cecilworth Farthington,” she continued. “Yeah… that’s going to be a tough one. But… not impossible.“
“No one in their right mind thinks I can beat him,” Adam said.
“No one thought I had a chance in hell of beating Tim Shipley thirteen years ago either. You think you had it bad… I lost every single match I had in High Octane Wrestling until Tim Shipley. I can remember being extremely frustrated and angry… just like you are right now… because I couldn’t get a win.”
Dawn looked wistfully at the trees several hundred feet away from the property.
“So I had two choices. I could fight like hell and prove to everyone I belonged in HOW. Or I could just give up and go back to MVW. I chose to fight. Shipley was HOW’s LSD champion at the time and completely ignored me. He didn’t think I had any chance of beating him. So I went for it. I decided to go out and grab the match by the balls… literally… like actually Tim Shipley’s balls… slapped on the Figure Four… and dammit, I won the match. It was my only HOW win, mind you, but still….”
She stopped again to see if her words were getting through to him and then went on.
“Cecilworth Farthington is a hell of a great wrestler, Adam, but he’s not invincible. You aren’t the finished product yet but you’ve got talent. Now, the way I see it, you’ve got two choices. You can fight like hell to prove you belong in PRIME… or you just could give up and go back to MVW. It’s up to you… but remember this… you’ve been gifted with an opportunity that every single wrestler in MVW and any independent wrestling company would dream of having. If you really feel you don’t belong in PRIME, there’s nothing anyone can do for you. But if you’re just going through a crisis of confidence… well… maybe that’s something I can help with.”
Adam’s ears perked up.
“You used to be able to draw on John Sektor’s experience during a match when you wrestled with him in HOW. I can do the same thing.”
His head turned back towards her.
“You’ll be in my corner?”
“Yeah. I’ll be in your corner.” Dawn waved a stray hair out of her eyes.and added a caveat. “But on one condition. You go back home… you train hard with Charlie… you LISTEN to Charlie… then you wrestle your ass off against Cecilworth Farthington and… win or lose… show everyone just how good you really are.”
Dawn extended her hand towards him.
Adam nodded. Then he clasped and shook her hand.
“Good. Now, please call your wife.”