First Baptist Church / Greenville, Texas – Sunday, September 25th
Standing behind the wooden pulpit, the minister delivered his Sunday morning sermon…
“…the book of Luke, Chapter 16… the rich man in hell when he could not change his condition. He said could you send him to my five brethren? The rich man is concerned about his family and unable to do anything about it. He didn’t want his family to come to the place where he was…”
Sitting in one of the back pews, Adam fidgeted nervously as he listened to the minister’s grand peroration continue. His nose still ached and his head pounded from ‘REAL LOVE’ Darin Zion’s uncalled-for sneak attack on him Friday night at UltraViolence. Filled with nervous energy and looking a little shell-shocked at the minister’s passionate presentation, Adam adjusted the collar on his plain white button-down shirt and leaned over to see if there was a dirt spot or something on his good pair of black pants.
“…Is that a convicting statement when you just walk by someone who’s suffering and just keep on going? Of course, it is. He’s your brother… she’s your sister. WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN HIS EYES! …”
Next to Adam sat Ginny. Ginny wore her hair up and wore the appropriate Sunday dress that all good Baptists wear to church and sat calmly through the minister’s talk. She didn’t flinch when the minister roared up and thundered…
“…THAT’S RIGHT! WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN HIS EYES! WE ARE ALL BORN THE SAME. WE ALL LEAVE THIS EARTH THE SAME…”
Ginny just sat there as if she’d heard it before. But out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Adam’s uncomfortableness and placed her hand on his leg- a gentle touch to try to quell the nervous energy in her husband.
“….WE ALL EXPERIENCE THE SAME PAINS, TRIALS, AND TRIBULATIONS! ISN’T THAT THE ULTIMATE ACT OF LOVE? HELPING YOUR BROTHER AND SISTER IN HIS OR HER TIME OF NEED?…”
However, his head pounding now as the minister brought his fist down on the pulpit and sent a mighty sound echoing throughout the interior of the church, Adam found his thoughts shifting away from the message being delivered that Sunday morning.
“…God is faithful. God said I’m going to bless thee. If you have a problem. Bring it to the mercy seat. It is never a burden. He cannot fail. Never be afraid to ask for His help… PUT IT IN HIS HANDS…”
In the midst of what had been one hell of a week that saw the couple move out of Adam’s apartment outside St. Louis, Missouri to a house trailer they just purchased… actually, Ginny’s father purchased the trailer as a wedding present to the two… at a trailer park just outside of Greenville, Texas. Mr. Van Lear was pleased that Adam did not move to Las Vegas- not one of his favorite cities- and chose to keep to both of their rural roots by living in the country versus the big city.
Greenville was close enough to the city to get to the airport to fly out to Vegas.
Literally, as soon as the last box was unpacked, the couple had to fly to Las Vegas for PRIME’s UltraViolence show. Adam wasn’t booked but wanted to experience the show up close from the crowd to ‘watch and learn.’ He didn’t count on Darin Zion coming out and attacking him. Fortunate for Zion, PRIME’s security moved quickly or else his already busted nose would have taken even more damage at the hands… or foot… of Ginny Van Lear. Ginny had returned from grabbing some popcorn and a drink to see Zion mugging her husband. In one swift motion, she kicked off her shoes… jumped up on the edge of a seat (much to the surprise of the person who just happened to be sitting there), and unleashed a spinning kick that only the intervention of PRIME security kept from smashing into Zion’s already injured nose.
After the show, Adam and Ginny flew back to Dallas Saturday so they could attend church on this Sunday morning. Adam wasn’t crazy about the idea. He would have preferred to sleep in and then get ready to catch a flight out of Dallas to Indianapolis, Indiana for Missouri Valley Wrestling’s Heartland Pay-Per-View show later that night. Ginny saw things differently and insisted they get up and go to church.
Going to church had been ingrained in Ginny by her strict Baptist minister father growing up and she hadn’t been to church in a few weeks in the excitement of getting married, moving to Texas, and everything that entailed.
So after the service ended, Adam and Ginny pulled into the driveway of their house trailer located in the Town and Country Estates trailer park just east of Texas State Road 34. The park was just a couple of miles south of Greenville, Texas. Greenville was located twenty miles northeast of the Dallas Metroplex.
“Well,” Adam said after putting his Volkswagen Jetta into park and shutting off the engine. “That was a little intense.”
“Intense you say?” Ginny said with half-snicker.
He cracked a smile. “At least compared to the Methodist services that I grew on.”
Ginny shook her head.
“Naw,” she said. “Eye reckons the minister was a lil’ re-served compared to Daddy.”
“So. You’re saying this was nothing compared to your father?” Adam asked.
Ginny scrunched her nose and gave her husband an ‘are you kidding me’ look. “Hun, you’d hav-to-be one card shy of a full deck to think that. Daddy would get his dander up and shake the rafters with a fire and brimstone sermons you’d hear for as far as the crow flies down the holler”
In the less than two months since the couple had been married, Ginny had not taken him back to her home church in McDowell, Kentucky to hear her father preach… yet.
Ginny walked around the Jetta to kiss Adam. The newlyweds then turned their gaze upon their new castle- a 2005 house trailer. White exterior with black borders and trim. The structure was a little worn and it was pretty clear that the roof would need to be replaced relatively soon. Pieces of wooden board fragments littered the front yard- all part of the Ellis’s idea to ‘sound-proof’ their house- and especially their bedroom- to not draw ‘attention’ to nosy neighbors like they had at the Missouri apartment.
Adam took a deep breath.
“Caint you believe this?” Ginny sighed. She knew. For many people back in rural Kentucky where she grew up, the house trailer was a palace compared to the ramshackle houses in the holler they often lived in. “It’s ours.”
It was theirs.
Adam checked his phone and noted the time. “Hey, we need to get our bags together and get to the airport.”
“Aw shoot,” Ginny whined.
“What?” Adam replied.
“I reckoned we had a little time so you could set my heart a’quiverin’ before we left … y’know… try’out the new soundproof walls?”
“Oh?” Adam said.
Ginny raised her eyebrows and pointed to the trailer.
“But it’s Sunday,” he playfully reminded her.
Ginny held up her left hand and pointed to the wedding ring on her finger.
“Well, then.” Making a command decision, Adam scooped Ginny up…
“Hey!” she squealed.
…and carried her over his shoulder up the steps, through the front door, and locked the door behind him.
The New Dallas Sportatorium- Dallas, Texas- Tuesday, September 27th
A prominent banner hung on one wall behind a wrestling ring with ‘Texas Championship Wrestling’ stitched onto it. Located at the same spot as the original Sportatorium did at the corner of S. Riverfront Blvd. and Cadiz Street, the building had a seating capacity of two thousand people… a smaller, more intimate venue where there wasn’t a bad seat in the building.
Dressed in gym clothes and hopping down inside the wrestling ring, Adam limbered up and did a few stretching exercises in one of the corners.
“Well well well,” a voice pierced through the air. “Adam Ellis.”
Adam turned. A tall, lanky man also dressed in workout clothes walked up and stopped at the ring apron.
“Charlie Blackwell,” Adam said. “Long time no see.”
Blackwell grinned at the twenty-two-year youngster.
It had been a while since Adam saw Charlie Blackwell and the five o’clock shadow covering his face. The two had met before back in Missouri Valley Wrestling where Adam was talent enhancement in Missouri Valley Wrestling when Charlie held the MVW Men’s Title.
Charlie Blackwell kicked of his wrestling career the hard way in 2009 at Dream Wrestling Federation’s Golden Dreams pay-per-view show and gained notoriety when he took a spinning heel from the phenomenon known as Jill Berg that sent him flying over a railing twenty feet to the floor. Blackwell would officially debut with DWF a week later. Charlie also competed in and held the old Political Championship Wrestling title as well in the mid-2010s as well before moving on to Missouri Valley Wrestling in 2017.
Blackwell left MVW in 2021 after losing the Men’s title to John O’Reilly and at the time told interviewer Kellie Burkowski the reason for his departure:
“You know, I’ve done just about everything I’ve wanted to do in MVW. Two-time champion. Great matches with a bunch of different wrestlers. I just turned thirty-one and I can tell that the years of doing this are beginning to take their toll on me. I wanted to get out before things started to go south and between wrestling and my financial services gig I had enough money to make the call.”
Charlie did open up Texas Championship Wrestling in September and rebuilt the Sportatorium which opened in May of this year.
“Adam Ellis,” Blackwell responded in a Texas drawl. “I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re standing here in this ring at this very moment.”
Adam knew the reason. “Ray McAvay.”
“That’s right. Ray McAvay,” Charlie repeated back. “Ray told me a lot about you.”
Adam looked down at the mat.
“In fact,” Charlie continued, “Ray thought it was a great idea for you to continue your wrestling education by spending some time with me down here in Dallas.” Blackwell hopped up onto the apron and climbed through the ropes. “You see, Adam, I’ve watched your progress over the past year since I left MVW and started my own wrestling company. Joe Bergman taught you how to become a pro wrestler during your time at Joe Bergman’s Barn. John Sektor showed you how to be a pro wrestler when you worked with him at his Gold Standard Wrestling Academy. So I’m sure the question Adam Ellis has on his mind is this- what is Charlie Blackwell going to do for me?”
Charlie paused to see if Adam had a response.
He didn’t so…
“Charlie Blackwell is going to teach you how to be the best wrestler Adam Ellis can be.”
Nodding, Adam hopped up and down to keep his legs warm.
“When Vince Lombardi took the Head Coach job at Green Bay Packers, the first thing he told the team at their very first meeting was this: “We will pursue PERFECTION, and along the way, we will catch EXCELLENCE!”. It’s one thing to want to be the best. It’s completely different to actually do the things necessary to be the best. Wanting to be the best means you have to have a specific mindset… a mindset singularly focused on doing everything in your power to be the best. To be the best, you need to attack every small and minor detail. If you can’t get the small things right, you will never get close to getting the big things right.”
Ellis quickly nodded.
“Next Friday,” Blackwell went on. You face some guy named Sage Pontiff. Do you know anything about him?”
Adam shook his head no.
“Did you see what Sage Pontiff had to say the other day?”
Ellis nodded his head up and down.
“This guy seems a ‘little out there,’ Charlie opined. “A little out there. But again, Adam, you can’t overlook any opponent, no matter what. You remember a guy named John O’Reilly, don’t you?”
Adam confirmed with a nod. Who didn’t know who John O’Reilly was in the MVW world? John O’Reilly was Joe Bergman’s prize student who started as a complete novice the day he first set foot inside Bergman’s Barn and progressed all the way to the MVW Men’s title when he defeated Blackwell in 2021.
“No one thought John O’Reilly had a chance in hell of beating me. Hell, *I* didn’t think John O’Reilly had a chance in hell of beating me. Then he hit with that Cannonball Right Hand for the first time and knocked me out.” Blackwell cracked a wry grin. “No one thought a guy who was a one-dimensional wrestler could beat the great Charlie Blackwell. And then I walked into that right hand of his and would a couple more times before he took the title off me.”
Adam could see the lament on Charlie’s face as he recounted the story.
“Never. NEVER, underestimate your opponent,” Charlie preached with the near verve of a Baptist minister. “You don’t know a damn thing about Sage Pontiff. He probably doesn’t know a damn thing about you either. So what do you do? You train for the match as if you are fighting someone like a Brandon Youngblood in PRIME… like a Cancer Jiles… …a Rezin… a The Anglo Luchador. You put in the time and work the next few days and that, in itself, should give you all the confidence you need to have when the bell rings next Friday night at ReVival 16. Hard work equals confidence. Hard work means you are prepared for any eventuality.”
Adam swayed back and forth, taking in the sage words from the thirty-two-year-old Texan.
“I rebuilt the Sportatorium as a vehicle to bring back pro wrestling to the great state of Texas,” Charlie drawled. “A place where wrestlin’ could flourish again and a means to teach the next class up and coming wrestlers the right way- much like your friend Joe Bergman. Because I’ve been there Adam. I’ve experienced the same pains… the same trials… the same tribulation… that you’ve experienced. Wrestling’s been good to me. The ultimate act of paying homage to a sport that’s helped make me the man I am is helping young wrestlers… like yourself… in your time of need.”
“Okay,” Adam said.
“If you have questions,” Charlie said, voice rising. “You bring it to me. If you have a problem. Bring it to me. It is never a burden. You cannot fail if you are willing to learn. Never be afraid to ask for my help. Are we clear?”
Ellis motioned that he understood.
“Good. Now. Let’s get to it.”