Dr. Ned Reform and the Case of The Maybe Midlife Crisis
Posted on 10/28/22 at 1:17pm by Ned Reform
Event: ReVival 18
From the desk of Benedict F. Reform, PhD:
My dearest Melinda,
A curious incident occurred at the market this afternoon.
I was purchasing my usual Sunday evening delight of Quinoa and a nice marble rye when the checkout boy, wearing the emblem of some nonsense heavy metal band and clearly taking a respite from his marijuana induced slack jawed daydreams, asked me if I would like a paper bag. Now, I grant you that this in itself is not a cause to give pause, but then he followed up with a remarkable address that I must admit caught me unaware:
He called me, “sir.”
It is not that I do not believe he should have used that term to address me – after all, given the power dynamics at play with the lowly bagboy vs. the decorated academic, “sir” is clearly a correct and deferential word. No, it was not inappropriate… but it was… unexpected.
(I should note here that I cannot fault the boy for not addressing me as Doctor… he could hardly be expected to know as I do not wear a pin displaying my degree as I wander about town. However… now that I write that… hmmm… that idea does have potential, yes?)
“Sir.” The boy couldn’t have been a day over seventeen. And here I stand, at a respectable and stately thirty. A mere twelve years his senior. But am I truly enough of his senior that he assessed it proper to call me “sir”? Is it not that long ago that I stood in his shoes?
(Hypothetically, of course. I am being a bit obtuse. I was never as dense as this boy, but you understand my point.)
Melinda… have I become… old?
Dr. Ned Reform
Internal Medicine Specialists
201 N Buffalo Dr
Las Vegas, NV
October 21, 2022
Ned Reform sits, with his head in his hands. Underneath, the crinkly sound of that paper… you know the one. That paper that you sit on in the doctor’s office? Because that’s where The Sage on the Stage sits – a small box of a doctor’s office. Sterile, plain, and somewhat melancholic, Ned Reform’s mood matches the general vibe of this particular space.
With his face covered by his fingers and the fluorescent lights beaming off his shiny bald head, Reform still wears the clothes he sported during his in-ring segment at ReVival 17. His head only shoots up when the door swings open and the doctor walks in.
“Sorry to keep you waiting Mr… um, Reform?” She looks up from her clipboard quizzically.
Ned’s countenance remains grim, but he can’t help himself as he gently offers, “That’s DOCTOR Reform.”
The doctor’s eyebrow raises momentarily, but she moves on – when you’re practicing in Las Vegas, you get used to people using pseudonyms.
“Well, nice to meet you. I am…”
Reform waves his hand by way of interruption. “I’m sorry, miss. But I do not have much time, and I was hoping to speak with the doctor as soon as possible.”
A beat. This ain’t the woman’s first rodeo, so she maintains her composure. In fact, she smiles… although it may very well be the smile of a barely contained rage.
“Mr. Reform,” she gestures to the name on her white coat, “I am the doctor. Dr. Haggen.”
Another beat. If Reform is embarrassed by his mistake, he doesn’t sell. Instead, he sighs.
“Very well. Tell me the prognosis, doctor. And please – do not spare my feelings.”
“Well, if you’re in a hurry – you’re in luck, sir,” she says. “Because we’ve looked over your results, and you are in fact perfectly fine. Healthy as a horse.”
Reform’s sullen face melts into one of disbelief.
“Doctor,” he says with begrudging respect, “I was assaulted. I was attacked. I felt something inside me break when that… monster put her hands on me. At the very least, I’m sure I am suffering from internal bleeding.”
He helpfully gestures to his midsection.
“Mr. Reform,” Dr. Haggen seems to take a small moment of pleasure in asking this, “are you a medical doctor?”
Reform deflates a bit. “I… I am not.”
Her “polite” smile widens. “Well, I am. And while I have no doubt that you were attacked, I’m also happy to report that there is not a scratch on you. You’re very fortunate. Now, have a good rest of your day.”
And with that, Dr. Haggan turns and walks out the door. Reform is on his feet in a flash, his face reddening in an instant and rage filling his educated eyes. He bursts through the door and begins to follow Dr. Haggan, screaming at the top of his lungs.
“YOU ARE A CHARLATAN!!! A FRAUD!!! WHERE DID YOU OBTAIN YOUR DEGREE, SWEETHEART!? I DEMAND A SECOND OPINION! A THIRD!! I – “
Just as he’s about to reach the supposed “fraud,” The Pedagogue of Pain is intercepted by two beefy security guards wearing black, tight-fitting shirts. They position themselves on either side of him, hooking both his arms in restraint. Reform’s yelling stops and some of the anger steams out of him as he looks to both men in confusion.
“We’re asking you to leave, sir,” one of the guards says.
“I will have you both know that I am a trained professional wrestler,” Reform sneers out. “If I so wished, I could easily dispatch with you both. However…”
Reform clears his throat.
“I am choosing to comply. Consider yourselves fortunate.”
New Haven, Connecticut
October 26, 2022
Reform’s cozy, if not a bit stuffy, office at Yale. The office door is firmly shut with the blinds drawn as classical music gently plays from a blue-glowing Amazon echo in the corner. Reform sits not at his desk, but in a comfortable-looking dark purple wingback chair in the corner. His shoes are off, his top button is undone, and his tie hangs loosely around his neck. In his hand is a whisky snifter full of a brown substance of currently unknown origin.
As the music plays, Reform absentmindedly swirls his glass and he stares blankly into space. For someone who generally exists as a loudmouth jackass, this appears to be a rare moment of quiet reflection.
…which is then shattered by an alarm going off in Reform’s pocket. The Good Doctor reaches into his pants, pulls out a flashing black iPhone, and turns off the alarm. Reaching for a nearby laptop, he positions it on a small table in front of the chair. With a few quick clips, he opens Zoom on his laptop. He stares at the glowing screen – the empty Zoom conference room – for roughly thirty seconds before a dialogue box pops up.
LEVI COLE is trying to enter the room.
A click brings Reform’s loyal teaching assistant onto the screen. Cole smiles broadly… until he is immediately scolded by his mentor.
“Sorry, Doctor Reform. The internet here is a bit…”
“Not interested in excuses, Levi,” replies Reform in an icy tone. “I am pressed for time, so let’s skip the pleasantries today… just your report, please.”
TA Cole clears his throat. “Right. So I looked into this Hanlon guy, right? And well…”
Cole hesitates. Reform’s eyebrows go up and he leans forward, not speaking but instead making a “out with it” motion with his hands.
“You see, Doc… he’s… well, he’s a wrestler.”
Cole is now testing The Good Doctor’s last nerve. “Yes, you mental giant, I know he’s a wrestler. We are scheduled for a bout. What I want to know is his quirks. His foibles. His hopes and dreams. Please give me something, Levi.”
“That’s just it, Doc,” Cole explains. “He’s just a wrestler. A young, up and coming, pretty athletic and so far very successful professional wrestler.”
A beat. Reform seems to be struggling with this.
“So he isn’t… a vampire?”
Cole shakes his head no.
“An evil ice cream man?”
“A moral degenerate leading impressionable youth down a path of ruin and despair?”
“You’re looking me in the eye, Levi, and telling me that Hayes Hanlon… a member of the PRIME roster… has no ridiculous quirks. No outlandish gimmick. No cartoony, boorish, gaudy habits or traits whatsoever?”
“That’s right! In fact, he…”
Reform clicks Zoom off and Cole disappears mid-sentence. The Sage on the Stage leans back in his oversized chair looking utterly and completely dumbfounded. He mutters to himself.
“Oh my stars and garters. Just… just a wrestler…”
Just a wrestler.
Well, Mr. Hanlon… I am about to say something that happens perhaps once in a lifetime. We are talking about an event less likely than the alignment of the planets. Than lightning striking the same point twice. Rarer than someone dying on their birthday. Rarer than… a coherent thought from Conor Fuse.
Mr. Hanlon… you have my respect.
Now, do not misconstrue this. When the bell rings at ReVival 18, you will be shown no mercy. If you’re looking for quarter, I suggest starting with the bank, as Doctor Reform plans on delivering a wrestling lesson so grand and so illuminating that the ghost of Lindsay Troy will rise from the grave to take copious notes on how to create art in the squared circle.
I know she’s still alive. She is elderly. That’s the joke, yes?
I look at you, my young friend, and I just see a world of potential. You don’t hide behind some flashy nonsense as so many other do. You’re not routinely embarrassing yourself on television with the aptitude of a fourth grader. You have, as far as I can determine, all the variables that add up to the equation that is success in the professional wrestling business: you have your youth, you have your health, you appear to be extremely athletic, your execution of wrestling maneuvers appears to be as crisp as it comes, and you’re quite the eager little beaver, aren’t you?
It might even be the case – and know that this may be the first time I’ve ever spoken these words – that I can find no fault in you.
That is… that is not entirely true.
I called you “eager.” No doubt your mind processed this as a compliment. But perhaps we should unpack this a bit, yes?
With youth comes a certain… exuberance. A naivety. A lens by which you consider the world a feast for your taking. An eagerness to look life’s challenges in the eye with the self-assured confidence of a blockbuster action star slowly walking away from a fiery explosion.
Ah. To be young again.
Yes – I am aware that I am only two years your senior. But what you fail to understand, Mr. Hanlon, is that there is one’s biological age… and then there is the age gifted only by experience.
You’ll likely counter that you DO have experience, yes? Looking at your PRIME resume thus far, it is extremely fair to say that you’ve been swimming with sharks for some time. I have no doubt that in your various trials and tribulations in the time you’ve tumbled around the tumultuous squared circle, you have surely picked up a life lesson or two. You’ve likely grown to be a wiser in-ring competitor, there is no doubt. And in that regard – yes, you and I are peers.
But in a much more significant way… I am your senior, Mr. Hanlon.
When I look at eager young talents such as yourself, I do not see the future of our industry. I’m not interested in being proud enough to say that I knew a future world champion “way back when.” No, Mr. Hanlon. When I look at you, I feel one emotion and one emotion only.
You know what? Let’s set all the nonsense aside for a moment, shall we? Forget “cutting” a “promo.” I am speaking to you as a human being, Hayes. You’re getting the real me. Just for a moment.
You appear to love the pro-wrestling industry. I too was once a hapless child. I remember what it was like to love something. I remember how it feels to throw all of yourself into a passion. A calling. To have faith that the sleepless nights will someday return back into your favor. To scratch. To fight. To claw. You’ve already overcome so much, have you not? You feel so desperately that if you allow this goal to consume your entire being, surely you will reap the rewards. The bumps and bruises will fade, but true passion never dies, yes?
You’re a fool. An admirable, honorable, even enviable fool. But a little fool nonetheless.
Wrestling will never love you back.
I know what it’s like to love something that refuses to love you back.
You likely think me cynical. But in five… ten… fifteen years… after this industry has chewed you up, slowly digested you in the skin-melting acid of its internal organs, reduced you to a pile of brown goop completely devoid of anything resembling a functional human being, and shit you out into the metaphorical toilet where all broken down legends do to die… you will understand what you now think of as cynicism is in fact wisdom.
And wisdom comes with age.
It’s not too late for you, Mr. Hanlon. Alex Steel had her chance to sit under The Good Doctor’s learning tree, but she chose the way of the ingrate. So it goes. But I believe I can still help you. Still save you. Free you from the spell of youthful exuberance and lift you up into a place where you can see professional wrestling for what it truly is. And so I will. Our first lesson is at ReVival 18. It will hurt, for sure, but that’s a part of the process.
I only hope to pass my wisdom on to you, Mr. Hanlon. For while I may be two years older than you biologically, I have a wealth of experience to share.
I hope you are wise enough – mature enough – to accept it.
…Ned Reform does remember what it was like to love something that didn’t love him back. To grapple with the despair that comes with shattered optimism. To feel that glow for life be beaten out of you and to stare into the dark void of bitterness that is left behind. For you see, Ned Reform’s name was not always Ned Reform.
In the summer of 2014, two young men named Jacob Dufresne and Pat Cassidy were the life of the party scene in Boston. Their exploits had become legendary: rare was there a night when the duo were not involved in a party, a fight, or some combination of the two. Their adventures ranged from humorous, to terrifying, to outright unbelievable. One day, that all changed.
But that is a story for another day…