Private: Ned Reform
Hark! I speak of a weary and well-versed traveler;
His epic adventure into the abyss that is… Professional Wrestling.
Our hero is bold; intelligent to be sure;
As he charges into the barbarian horde.
Like Dante of old, he must descend into hell.
A saint walking amongst the sinners;
Offering salvation and hope to those poor lost souls;
The only sane man in an asylum of fools.
The first level of Hell is full of the self-righteous.
An inflated sense of self-importance weighs them down
Until they sink to the seaside floor, gasping, clawing, begging
For our hero to show them the path to glory.
And so he goes head-to-head with their egos in the only way he knows how;
By tearing them down to build them back up.
But despite his best SHOT, this PROJECT misses the mark
And the cycle continues: cephalic meets gluteus.
We descend lower, and we run into the most puzzling affliction of all:
Those who believe themselves to be DEFIANT.
The inane, the foolish, the emperors who have no clothes.
The video games; the secret cults;
The Hollywood movie stars; the drunken miscreants;
A concoction of the silly and the meaningless.
Lost forever in an echo chamber of dirt.
One level lower into the fiery pit
We happen upon a PRIME collection of the spineless.
Weak, insecure, anxious, begging for validation.
Somehow, our hero is able to retain his lunch.
The tears, the whining, the crying
An echo chamber of meaningless platitudes.
Our hero remains steadfast, staring the weeping masses in the eye
Daring them to be better.
And we arrive to the final test;
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Lower than the delusional;
Farther down than the ridiculous;
Worse than the hopeless.
Our hero’s greatest challenge; a wasteland for the intelligent;
A realm of demons, scoundrels, and the worst dregs mankind has to offer.
A nightmare far beyond anything he has encountered before;
The epitome of vile;
The lowest common denominator;
The worst individuals professional wrestling has to offer;
Caught in the grip of a ruthless tyrant;
It’s fiery pit
Is fueled by HIGH OCTANE.
January 10, 2020
New Haven, Connecticut
“Take your time, sir. We are not in a hurry.”
The voice booms from a speaker in the corner of this white, cold, sterile room. The person who is being addressed, a young male college student in a Yale letter jacket, nods more to himself than the disembodied voice. In front of him is a table with two items: one is a Monster energy drink, the other a small can of Axe body spray (Dark Temptation, if you were wondering).
The student looks from item to item, a few beads of sweat dripping down his brow. Tough decisions will be made today.
From behind the large one-way mirror that looks into the room, Dr. Ned Reform, dressed in a white lab coat, watches the kid closely. Reform raps his fingers against the clipboard as he studies his subject’s every move. Finally, the student shrugs and reaches for the Monster.
“Fascinating,” Reform mutters, scribbling intensely on his clipboard. He turns to a different one-way mirror that looks into a second room: in this one, another young man of college age sprints intensely on a treadmill, hopelessly reaching out for a dangling picture of both Elon Musk and Joe Rogan. Reform also studies this new specimen for a moment before writing more on the clipboard.
The door to Reform’s study room swings open, and in walks Levi Cole. Cole is Reform’s protegee: a tall, handsome, freak athlete of a man with blond hair and a vocabulary of about six words. Cole carries a stack of magazines, and he plops them down onto a nearby table.
“That’s it,” he says. “Every copy of Muscle and Fitness magazine in a ten mile circle. Just like you asked for.”
Reform removes his spectacles, folds them up, and places them in his lab coat’s breast pocket. “Well done, good sir. Well done. This will be key literature in formulating our battle strategy for the PWA event. I should also note…”
Reform gestures to the two way mirrors.
“The test subjects are generating invaluable data. With any luck, by the end of the week, I will reach my ultimate goal.”
Reform looks out into the test room, squinting his eyes and balling his fist like a bad Saturday morning cartoon villain.
“I will have completely mapped the mind of the sophomoric douchebag.”
There is no flash of lightning, but you get the sense if he could have pulled that off, he would have.
“Geez,” says Cole, sidling up to his boss. “You’re really put in some work here, Doc. You must really want to represent PRIME on this card, huh?”
Reform’s eyes go wide and he looks to his poor underling with disbelief. “Are you hearing yourself, Mr. Cole? You think I have even the slightest interest in ‘defending the honor’ or ‘representing’ PRIME? Does that seem like me, Cole? No…”
Reform turns away, sneering.
“If I had my way, PRIME would lose every single match on the card, and perhaps it would dawn on them how inept and spineless they all really are. And then Lindsay Troy would be banished in disgrace to a small island in the Pacific. An island with little food and rabid wolves.”
An evil grin.
“Yes, that would be lovely.”
He snaps from his fantasy back to reality.
“But no. I care not how PRIME does in this silly pro-wrestling phallus measuring contest. But what I do care about…”
The Good Doctor reaches onto the table for a manilla folder. He opens it up, exposing two photos held to the folder by paper clips: one of stronk godson, and the other of GREAT SCOTT. Both dressed in their wrestling attires and both posing menacingly, suggesting Reform may have gotten these stock photos off the High Octane Wrestling website. He hands the folder to Cole.
“Look at them, will you,” Reform’s voice is full of wonder. “Have you ever seen two specimens such as this? In all my travels, I have never encountered two simpletons as gassed up, brainless, and devoid of anything even remotely resembling civilized discourse as these two. This truly is a pair of diamonds in the rough, Mr. Cole, and this upcoming match up presents the both of us with an extremely unique opportunity.”
Cole frowns. “I don’t get it. We’ve run into muscle heads before.”
Reform sighs. “Mr. Cole, do you recall when you first entered my employ?”
“Sure do, Doc. Sure do.”
“And do you remember yourself before joining my Honor Society? Try to think back before you became ‘TA Cole.’ Think back to just plain Levi.”
Cole does as he’s told. His tongue comes out of the corner of his mouth and his brow furrows as he tries to remember. A moment passes.
“Allow me,” offers The Good Doctor. “What I saw in you was a hopeless and lost young man. Athletic? Absolutely. Talented in the ring? Without question. But you lacked depth, Mr. Cole. You had been a star jock since you were a boy and as a result, you felt no need to refine the parts of your brain required to move beyond a level of cognition akin to a chimpanzee. But I saw potential in you, Levi.”
Cole grins. “And boy, you sure have helped me with the book learning, Doc.”
“That I have,” agrees Reform. “But do you remember your initial reaction when I approached you and offered to take you under my wing?”
Cole hesitates. “I… I didn’t want to.”
“Yes!” Reform grows more animated. “That’s precisely the point! You declined because in what passed for your brain at the time, you did not see the value in what I had to give. Philosophy, art, reason, strategy, psychology, civics, sociology… these words held no meaning to you. All you desired was to smash your way to victory, yes?”
Cole seems ashamed at the memory of his former self. “Yeah.”
“And do you remember how I finally convinced you? How I made you see the light?”
Cole starts to think, but The Sage on the Stage doesn’t even give him a moment.
“I defeated you, Levi! In the ring! Do you recall? You brought your muscles and your power and your amateur pedigree… and I exposed how meaningless that all is when I outwitted you, embarrassed you, and took the victory. Remember?”
Cole also doesn’t seem very proud of this. “Yeah.”
“And so look here!” He points to the pictures of the two HOW wrestlers. “GREAT SCOTT. stronk godsen. If you thought you were a simple minded fool, look at this pair! They’re almost literally black holes of intellectual thought, Levi. They are infinitely worse off than you used to be. But imagine this…”
Ned holds up his hands as if revealing an invisible world to his student.
“Imagine both of these gentlemen being made to understand. Imagine their gray matter expanding about eight times. Imagine what you and I could do with that raw power if it were harnessed, tamed, controlled, and pointed in the direction of our mutual enemies. Imagine what life would be like if SCOTT and godsen joined The Honor Society.”
Cole breaks out into a slow grin as the proverbial lightbulb goes off. “We… we’d be unstoppable.”
“Yes,” agrees Ned. “And not only that, but it is our duty, Levi. Our charge as intelligent and civilized men. Imagine how empty and pointless their existence must be. It’s sad. We can help them. We can give them purpose and lift them out of the proverbial mud that they splash around in now. And to do so…”
Reform looks Cole in the eye with a devilish smile.
“…we must first defeat them.”
Greetings, Mr. SCOTT and Mr. godsen – my esteemed colleagues,
Allow me to introduce myself, as I believe we have never had the pleasure of making each other’s acquaintance. (They tell me that I have once been in the ring with Mr. SCOTT, but I believe they are mistaken).
I am Benedick Reform, PhD. A little about me: I am an internationally acclaimed academic, author, and thinker published in over twenty well-reputed academic journals. This February, I will be honored as keynote speaker at the Conference for College Composition and Communication in Chicago. This summer, I plan to travel to Paris to work with international graduate students studying the effect of aggressive culture in contact sports. I am a graduate of Yale University (perhaps you’ve heard of it, yes?), a premier athletic specimen, and an accomplished professional wrestler. I am currently working on my next book, tentatively titled “Headlocks and Hopelessness: Exposing The Seedy Underbelly of Professional Wrestling.” Depening on how our match plays out, erhaps you’ll be featured in it, yes? Assuming you can read above a third grade level, I’m sure this would be a great honor for you.
You have the good fortune to be booked against myself and my star student, TA Cole, at the upcoming PWA event. Now, while I abhor cards that combine two distinct wrestling companies as I believe it promotes the worst of tribalism and xenophobia, I do confess I am looking forward to this bout very much.
Reflecting on my discourse thus far, I realize now that my vocabulary is likely too elevated and perhaps you’ve stopped paying attention, having been distracted by a pretty butterfly or cloud that resembles male genitalia. So let’s backup, yes? Let me summarize:
I am Dr. Ned Reform. I have big brain. You both, me, Levi Cole – we are going to wrestle!
Back with us now? Excellent.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a systematic injustice built in to our future encounter. It hardly seems fair to match yourselves: a pair of knuckle dragging chimpanzees – against myself: an undisputed titan of brilliance. Indeed, this is a bit of a mismatch, and while as a big supporter of justice I definitely despise such direct disparity, I am direly disposed to decide to dive into a different direction.
Undoubtedly, people such as yourselves do not belong in the same ring with those such as I. Truthfully, we are barely suited to be in the same room. There is almost nothing about my existence that you can remotely comprehend and there is nothing sadder than the confusion of a simple mind. For this reason, I generally avoid simple people, save for when they are pumping my gas or perhaps cleaning my hotel room. But again: I make an exception here.
Let’s unpack that. You, my pair of beautifully bone-headed brainless buffoons, are going to be my magnum opus. My white whale. My Holy Grail. Perhaps I should put this in terms you’d understand?
You’ll be my… “totally awesome rep at the gym that the super hot chick compliments me on.”
Never before have I reached down into such dimwitted depths with the intention of pulling up poor souls. Helping you escape the cycle of stupidity will be a feat so momentous the gods will write it in the stars. If I can accomplish this goal, if I can possibly change you for the better, it is not hyperbole to say it will be the greatest achievement in the history of professional wrestling.
It will not be easy, my dear friends. I’m sure many doubt me. I’d wager even you both doubt me: doubtless you have discovered over the years that you are incapable of learning. As the waves of failing grades and struggling brain cells have piled up, you’ve likely been told that your gifts are the physical and not the mental. You may have even been given the impression over the years that you are “stupid.”
Well, in fairness and transparency, you are. You are very, very, very, very, very, very stupid.
But no one is too hopeless for my pedagogical prowess! Exhibit A: Levi Cole. When I am finished with you, it will be as if a curtain has been opened and the bright sun now shines onto your face: you will discover a world beyond your pathetically puny imagination.
And most of all, you will thank me. But no need. Service is its own reward, yes?
Thus, we will – nay, we must – defeat you. I will allow you to sit under my learning tree, but first I will remove a branch and beat you senseless with it. You shall be embarrassed as your strength fails you, as your bloodlust runs into brainpower, as Dr. Ned Reform puts on a clinic in the squared circle too complex for you to even process.
Keep this in mind: despite popular contemporary belief, you do not need to be in a submission hold to quit. You can forfeit at any point in the contest, and mental overload is as legitimate a reason as any near broken bone. There is no shame and it surely would save you from further humiliation. Remember to look for the nice man in the black and white striped shirt, I’m sure he would be happy to help you when the brain fog becomes too thick.
Once you are broken down into your base components, that is when Dr. Ned Reform builds you back up. I will make you better, and all I will ask in return is your undying devotion, your unquestioning loyalty, and your irrefutable fidelity. TA SCOTT and TA godsen have a nice ring to it, yes?
I appreciate your time, gentlemen, and I will see you at the event. If you have questions, you can email my assistant and I will be happy to share a Google Slides with you that breaks this promo down in more detail. I wish you good health.
Dr. Ned Reform
Facing the darkest night, the bleakest hour
Does our hero overcome the greatest test of his hope and skill?
Does he slay the dragon of ignorance?
Or does he who hunts buffoons become one?