The Anglo Luchador
Note: This is a TH/RAWB co-produced joint. Thanks for reading!
“Anyway, before you two roll out,” The Anglo Luchador, backstage before ReVival 14 took the air, had just finished some backstage philosophy with a larger group of people. Two of those folks consisted of the odd couple tag team, Dangerous Mix.
“Yeah?” replied David Fox, the team’s mercurial spitfire. He’d spent some time with the Luchador before, most recently at his fundraiser for Fighting for Nora in South Philly. Piquing his interest was not hard to do after the spate of difficult times the team had run up against in PRIME thus far. Talking to legends like Ivy McGinnis and Sean Stevens after the meats had run out that day was invaluable to him. However, it would not be the well-seasoned, well-spoken young man from the Garden State that the old luchador had an interest in that day.
“Well, I kinda wanted to talk to the big guy…”
The big guy. Mushigihara. When people think of crossover successes, they tend to ignore sumo, because “it’s all wrestling, right?” To outsiders, sumo doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s just two big guys doing their best elephant seal impersonations. That could not be further from the truth. There’s an art to sumo, a good bit of which translates to pro wrestling at large.
But something was missing from him. Fox, the guy you don’t want to call “Kickpads” unless you’re absolutely sure he’s your boy or you can take him in a fight, had it all, mainly because few people could really take him in a fight. He was as well-versed in the arts of catch-as-catch-can as you could be.
The big man, however, your mileage was always going to vary on him. Some see his hulking frame and only think of him as a bulwark, a heater, muscle. Wrestlers have gotten smaller over the years, much, much smaller. Although PRIME has its share of classic-style body guys roaming the hallways by random doorways, Mushi, at nearly 300 lbs., can still outhulk them.
The Anglo Luchador looked at him and thought he could do more.
Granted, no one can look at this team and think Mushi’s abilities are the reason they’ve not gotten out of the blocks easily. This is PRIME in 2022. There are no easy outs. Sometimes it boils down to luck, but sometimes, making your own luck is not only favorable, but mandatory. The old luchador saw D-Mix and thought they could use an edge. Maybe it would vault them to the levels of Fighting for Nora and the Winds of Change and the Kings of Popsicles. Maybe it wouldn’t. But being a mentally-afflicted man with obsessive tendencies, if he gets an idea in his head, he has to follow through on it.
And he thought he had the edge that could push Mushi, and the entire team, over the top.
“…you can tag along too; it’s not confidential.”
Fox nodded. Mushi was intrigued.
“It’s about an opportunity.”
Mushi’s eyes lit up. David grinned and nodded. He’d actually had his own troubles recently, and he probably needed some time to himself before the show started. The big man, he thought, could stand to intermingle with more people on the roster.
“Just don’t infect his mind with your anglo propaganda.”
Fox in jest shook his fist and parted ways, leaving the former rikishi with the Intense Champion.
“Okay, so, are you familiar with lucha libre?” the luchador started.
The God-Beast shook his head.
“Okay, well, I know it sounds crazy, but I feel like you could get an edge on the tag division, not just on the B-Team, but on everyone, if you learned some lucha libre.”
The sumo’s brow furrowed.
“I think your face says it all, but it’s not just flips and dives. It’s all about the art of leverage, momentum. Think about it as judo, only with a lot more grace and panache. You familiar with judo?”
“Good. I think lucha might be more instructive for you to pick up. Are you interested? We can set up some time to train if we can hash out ring space, here, or in Philly, or even in New Orleans if you want.” He paused for a second to gauge the interest in Mushi’s eyes. “How does that sound, big guy?”
The Kaiju himself paused a second before letting out a hearty “Osu!”
“You know, I play along, but I can’t discern what your ‘osus’ mean just from face value. Sorry, man.”
Mushi’s cheeks reddened a little bit before he nodded.
“Cool, cool. I’ll talk to Dave to get everything set up. I’m really looking forward to this. I want you guys to do well here.”
The God-Beast cracked a smile.
“I got a main event to prepare for, and I’ll be hopping on a red-eye to Tampa after the show for some, ahem, extracurricular business. But we’ll get in touch soon.”
The luchador walked off towards his locker room, leaving Mushigihara to ponder what the idea of being the Lucha Libre Rikishi would be.
The time on the clock said 6 AM, Pacific Daylight Time. Timo Bolamba’s gym had a few early-risers working the heavy bag or doing cardio, but only one person occupied one of the four rings in the center of the main floor. He’d been there for an hour. Rear of the building, to the right side of the building facing the back wall, where the centerpiece of the mural enveloping the interior stared menacingly down on everyone who trained. Timo Bolamba, the Samoan Silencer. El Temblor, El Rudo Primo. Then, the likeness of the man standing that ring.
Mushigihara gingerly descended the staircase leading to the main floor. He looked with wonder at the facility, still nearly pristine, only weeks after the soft opening. Only people in the know frequented the gym, be they PRIME wrestlers like Rezin and Jon Rhine, Timo’s old friends from feds in the past, or select few in his inner circle. A hard launch would be set for the Friday after Ultraviolence. Timo’s riches allowed him a leisurely rollout, allowing those closest to him to be able to enjoy it before the general public set in. Mushi had never seen a facility so modern in his life, not even in Japan, where wrestling was third on the social calendar only to baseball and his own sumo art.
“Hey! Big man!” the luchador shouted from across the floor, waving for Mushi to head over to his ring.
The God-Beast ambled over to the ring where the Anglo Luchador awaited in a PRIME-logo hooded sweatshirt and basketball shorts, the standard uniform for white dudes from Philadelphia, regardless of weather.
“Welcome to Timo’s gym,” he greeted. “This place has it all, and it’s where I’m gonna teach you how to be an honest-to-God luchador. You ready?”
The luchador’s enthusiasm was sickeningly sweet for 6 AM, even for a stone-faced sumo wrestler who was used to getting up at the crack of dawn to train for the next basho. Still, Mushi nodded.
“Okay, Mushi, lucha libre is the art of combat using momentum, either yours or your opponent’s.”
The luchador got into a bent-legged, wide stance.
“Alright,” he continued, “let’s try this the normal way. Bounce off the ropes and charge into me with a shoulder tackle.”
Wrestling 101 stuff? Odd, the God-Beast thought to himself, but he shrugged and fell back. Using the steel cables as his propellor, he charged towards the luchador, knocking him back onto his keyster.
“See how I tried to stop you? Didn’t really work, did it?” He got up off the mat, playfully dusting himself off. “Size advantage or not, if I were just as big as you, you still might have bowled me over. At best, it’s a stalemate. If a stalemate is your goal, fine, the art of lucha is not about attrition…”
He sprung his step and jumped back into his spread-legged, bent-knee stance.
“…it’s about surprise, shock, quick and decisive victory. Now try it again.”
Mushi shrugged and fell back again, charging forward with another locomotive-level shoulder tackle. This time, Tom popped his hips and curled his arm. The motion caught Mushi’s left arm like a baited hook snagging a monkfish, and the luchador rotated the hulking rikishi off his feet and onto his own posterior with a picture-perfect armdrag. The Kaiju sat on the canvas, stung with the needle of surprise for a moment. He got to one knee and rubbed his behind.
“Surprised you there, didn’t I?” the luchador chuckled. “That’s what lucha libre is all about. It’s leverage, momentum. It’s throwing down the macho bullshit and finding a way to get your opponent so flustered you can take them down quick. Are you ready to learn?”
The tone of his voice was tentative. Tom didn’t have the innate power to discern meaning from any given “Osu,” but he lurched forward all the same.
“Okay, big guy, now you’re going to try an armdrag. I’m going to charge you, and you’ll do what I did. Pop your hips. Hook my arm. Then let ‘er rip! You got it?”
The God-Beast nodded.
“Okay! Let’s go!”
The sumo took his stance like he was sizing up another rikishi across the dohyo. Tom galloped into full sprint, careening off the ropes and charging at the God-Beast. The hulking half of Dangerous Mix stayed statue-still, seizing up like an old car in the Hokkaido mountain winter, and then…
The Anglo Luchador’s forward momentum shifted completely in reverse as he ran into a wall of cellulite, sinew, and hesitation.
“Okay,” the luchador looking up at the Kaiju from his posterior, “I was surprised by that for sure. That’s a traditional wrestling move though.”
He picked himself up from the canvas.
“I wasn’t expecting that, but I think most people who wrestle you will be. It’s too easy to counter. Try it again?”
Mushi nodded, and again, he dropped into his stance. Tom repeated his motion. The God-Beast again seized up, but this time, it was in the middle of his armdrag motion. He didn’t rotate, and their arms untangled in midair, with the luchador again crumpling to the canvas.
“Oof… okay, we’re getting there, we’re getting there.”
The cycle began again, and the futility repeated each time, manifesting slightly differently each go-around. Reps turned into hours. Hours turned the luchador’s face red from frustration. Mushi’s gym clothes were soaked with perspiration and his face marked with disappointment. They trained again the next day, and the next, but the luchador’s instructions fell flat every time. There would be a faint spark on one rep, but the God-Beast would lose focus.
Tom tried many things. He didn’t linger too long on one lesson, hoping the muscle confusion might help Mushi clear his mind of his failures. He put Pom Shinjoku on FaceTime to investigate if a language barrier was to blame. Three days of trying – and failing – a grand design to teach a sumo rikishi the fine art of lucha libre stopped before he could learn its coarser, broader principles.
Sometime around noon on day three of training, Tom felt a fuse pop in his brain.
“Okay, we’ve been at this for three days…” the register in his voice skipped up. “THREE GODDAMN DAYS.”
He wiped the sweat from his brow, which had grown red from a combination of frustration and his body pushed to the limit.
“Have you learned anything? Is any of this sticking in your head?”
Mushi’s brow furrowed a little bit, taken aback by the luchador’s dam cracking and leaking.
“That’s all you got? I’m not Dave or Saori. I can’t get meaning or translation from an ‘osu,’ you gotta work with me.”
He put his head in his hands for a moment before slowly looking back up at the sumo.
“Can you at least understand me?”
The God-Beast nodded.
“Okay, then what are you not getting? This is basic 101-level type stuff.”
“Osu, osu, OSU! It’s like talking to a goddamn child…”
Tom could tell Mushi was not accustomed to being talked to as if he were a child even before the God-Beast let out a muffled, strained grunt.
“Yeah, I still don’t understand it. Maybe this was a mistake, ugh, and I thought you’d be the easier one to deal with.”
Tom flopped in the corner of the ring, head in his hands. Mushi stood in the ring for a moment before he realized maybe he agreed that it was one. He grabbed his duffel bag and headed towards the entrance of the gym. After a moment of silence, a familiar voice called to the luchador from behind him.
“I gotta ask you one question out of all of this,” said Timo. “Whose idea was it to train that guy to be a luchador?”
“It wasn’t his idea, was it,” he continued.
“Yeah, no,” finally answered the Intense Champion. “It was my idea.”
“You had a grand idea with a participant of willing dedication, and you were surprised it was rough sailing? I don’t think you were the one who had the right to lose your temper there.”
The luchador looked behind him.
“Tough talk from a guy with dissociative personality disorder.”
Timo glowered at the potshot over The Dastardly Bastard.
“Yeah, well, I’m working on that. And I think there’s another thing you should probably work on too.”
Wearily, The Anglo Luchador rose from the corner and jogged over to the entrance. He exited the building, relieved to have found Mushigihara still outside.
“Hey, bud.” He broke the silence. Mushi did not return an “osu,” just a cold stare.
“Hey, uh, look, about what happened back there? And the last few days? That’s on me. Sometimes, I get it in my head that I can do something, fix something that ain’t broke, and I end up putting too much dip on my chip.”
The God-Beast raised his eyebrow.
“Anyway, I don’t want you to leave yet. You don’t have to keep training to be a luchador, but I think there’s some stuff we can do, maybe train concurrently for both our matches. Or get a drink. Timo’s got all kinds of funky herbs and booster powders at his smoothie bar in there.”
A chuckle from the Kaiju of Dangerous Mix.
“So is that a yes?”
Mushi flashed his pearly whites and let out the most enthusiastic “OSU!” in the last three days. The two went back inside and first took turns on the heavy bag. Then they engaged in some intense agility training with Timo, and capped off their modified training sesh with a leisurely cool-down walk around the building with the old luchador pointing out some of the faces on the mural that he knew, others that he’d only heard of. He warned the God-Beast not to mention Miss Campbell around the boss as his only real warning. Afterwards, they shook hands and went on their way.
A week later, at Ultraviolence, David Fox was struggling with the B-Team. He sprang into the corner after double-leg kicking Randall Schwartz back into his side of the ring and tagged in the God-Beast. Kenny Freeman tagged himself in, looking to meet the massive man head on.
“An armdrag? What in Hoyt’s name?” Richard Parker spoke for everyone who saw the lucha libre training taking hold finally. A second armdrag followed, and then a hurricanrana. The crowd in the MGM Grand Garden Arena exploded with surprise. Mushi saw how shell-shocked Freeman was. He finally got it.
The Anglo Luchador had not seen the match live. He took a stroll down Las Vegas Boulevard to clear his head after a war with Balaam, all of which came after seeing Paxton Ray maul his now-former partner. There was a company mandated media scrum, although it was unsure which company ordered it, PRIME or the PWA, after the show. He’d have to return. He wasn’t in his right mind, and he hated watching his peers work painted by disgust or frustration.
He finally watched the match a few days later, having somehow avoided any advance word. His heart swelled watching the Kings of Popsicles defend their titles against the Winds of Change. The tag match immediately after, however, had him most rapt. Mushi did it. The training actually took hold.
The old luchador was back in Vegas for a pit stop to see a therapist that Melvin Beauregard of all people set him up with. While there, he ran into the God-Beast.
“Hey you,” he said, expecting an “Osu” in return.
“Oh, Tom, hello.”
The luchador staggered back in exaggerated surprise.
“You talk now, like more than one word?”
“It’s a long story.”
“You can tell me some other day. Anyway, I saw the match. Guess the training took hold?”
Mushi blushed a little bit.
“Well, I was frustrated during training,” he explained. “I don’t know what the block was. But when I saw those little imps running at me, well… it clicked.”
“You were right,” the Kaiju continued, “it felt… natural.”
“Good. I’m glad it helped you guys, at least until those dudes brought out… well, whoever they were. You’re welcome to train with me again now that the seal’s been broken. If you want to, of course.”
The luchador waited a beat before gasping like he was going to reply, but the God-Beast cut him off.
“Just kidding, but yeah, maybe.”
The two shook hands and went off to do their own separate business.