The Anglo Luchador
Tenochtitlan wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Mexico City. The push and pull of civilizations coming in and dying out, be they the original settlers from across the land bridge far to the northwest or the Aztecs or the conquistadors or the result of the polyglot of natives, Spanish, French, Mideast expats, and American gringos, slowly but surely took a mass of land in a valley near some lakes and turned it into the seat of a pre-settler empire and then into the largest metropolis in the Western Hemisphere. Old Tenochtitlan has been reduced to ruins or foundation for the skyscrapers and modern amenities of new Mexico, not to be confused with New Mexico. This iteration of the capital may look foreign and antiquated to the people of the world in 50 years, if there even is a world for humans. That’s fodder for a more serious verbal exercise.
The Anglo Luchador is not Tenochtitlan or Mexico City. He is a man; he’s 40. Human bodies weren’t meant to have lifespans that long, let alone those of great cities spanning generations. Modern medicine and nutrition really work wonders. Anyway, his morning runs with his younger brother Mikey have had a dual-edged sword effect. On one hand, he’s sleeping better at night, has more energy, and better cardio in the ring, even in the short term. On the other, each run puts pressure on his body like a new modern skyscraper on the land that once supported the homes and markets made of more natural materials. In this case, the old luchador’s body was more the ruins of Tenochtitlan rather than the modern bustle of Ciudad Mexico.
Sometimes, after his runs, The Anglo Luchador would enter a hot shower and not get out until he exhausted the supply in his hot water heater, much to the chagrin of his wife Tamara, who would also use hot showers as a muffle for her shouts whenever Edwards was an especially virulent jitbag at work. Some days, his weapon of choice would be generous slathers of IcyHot, no matter how much the rumors on the company Jabber or the Twitter at-large would accuse him of doing more than using it topically. On this particular day, however, his therapy would be liquid and comestible in nature.
The old luchador walked into his house after an especially grueling run that saw his brother take him from his apartment all the way to the Boulevard and back. He dropped his duffel bag adjacent to the foyer, right on top of his sons’ sneakers that Tamara had been asking theme for weeks to keep in their own rooms rather than right near the door. Quickly, the old luchador shuffled into the kitchen, opened up the fridge, and grabbed a can of beer, 21st Amendment’s El Sully lager. As fast as his aching body could take him, he scampered up the stairs into his bedroom. He took off his sweat-soaked PRIME logo hoodie and then his BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD SUPLEXED ME AND ALL I GOT WAS A MEDICAL CLEARANCE t-shirt.
The old luchador gazed into the mirror, blank look on his face that I will not describe here because you, the reader, will only see his face if someone wins his mask in glorious battle. A sigh escaped from his mouth as his eyelids descended like the curtain at a Vaudeville theater. He cracked open the beer and took a deep sip. When he opened his eyes, he was not alone. Someone was standing behind him. The mask looked all too familiar.
“Hello, you old fucker.”
The old luchador turned his watch from the mirror depicting him in the present to an apparition of himself from the past. Jerichoholic Anonymous stood behind him, in his own bedroom, in full gear.
“How could this be?” the old luchador asked. “I’m not dead yet.”
“This version of you is dead,” the spirit replied. “Dead as a fuckin’ doornail. Anyone who’s lived for more than a few months has versions of themselves walking around the Great Hereafter anyway. Your cells die all the time, by the thousands.”
“So, why aren’t you just a mass of squamous cells, blood, and dead skin?”
“Because that’s not how the afterlife works, fucko.” The hostility wafted off him like stench off Bobby Dean an hour after finishing a tantric session at the Old Country Buffet.
The old luchador brushed off the brusqueness and got into the zone of fucking with ghosts, as he’s been doing for the last three visits. “What life lesson are you here to teach me anyway? Are you going to follow up on all the shit Sobrino heaped on your door?”
“No, fuckwad,” the ghost replied. “I’ve come to terms with that past. They didn’t send me to do that one anyway because if I did, I would’ve spent three hours trashing Beast and Housefly and Torment with myself…”
“No, not Torment, he’s actually a cool guy.”
“No, really? You made friends with CAPTAIN CAPSLOCK?”
“Yeah, I mean, once you get to know the guy outside of the ring, he’s actually pretty cool. Hell, he introduced me to the Rochester Garbage Plate.”
“Okay then, but not the other two right?”
“No, forget them.”
“See, that’s exactly why I’m here. ‘Forget them?’ You sound like a fuckin’ boomer.”
The old luchador rolled his eyes and slugged his beer. “That’s why you’re here? I don’t curse as much anymore?”
The apparition rolled his spectral eyes.
“I’m here because I have a bone to pick with you.”
“So what you’re saying is you’re mad at me.”
“Yes, I am mad at me,” the ghost reflexively sniped back. “Look at me now, all decrepit. Remember when our body was what we prided ourselves on? You look hideous.”
“I’m working out.”
“You never should’ve let it get this far. But that’s not even the worst part. You’ve become what we have always railed against! You’re boring! Rote! Trite!”
The old luchador shirked back and shook his head, but his old self continued to lay into him.
“I was funny! Absurd! Now look at me, which is to say look at you! I’m a crank who can’t even put out a dad joke! I get into it on Jabber with cultists! I CAN’T STOP DRINKING WINE!”
The old luchador giggled. “You watch I Think You Should Leave too?”
“Oh yeah, funniest shit ever. Tim Robinson…”
“TOTAL FUCKIN GENIUS!”
The old luchador and his past ghostly self high-fived, and it did not cause a rift in space-time, proving that the ghost was a ghost and not a time-traveling version.
“But seriously, dude, you lost the fuckin’ plot,” the ghost resumed. “Like, I know people change and everything, and change is good.”
“Yeah, I know. I’ve been trying to change for the better.”
“Of course, I’m not begrudging you that, but there’s streamlining and improving the processes and then there’s becoming the very thing I swore I was going to rid wrestling of…”
“This is confusing, you switching between first and second person all the time.”
“Well, I am you…”
“But you gotta settle on a point of view, I mean…”
“Just stop nitpicking, alright? Sheesh, I’m trying to give you pointers on how you can save lucha libre, and you’re being a pedantic jackass.”
“Sorry, sorry, go ahead, you were saying?”
“I oughtta give you the Karelin Driver just for being such a stubborn ass.”
“Too late, Youngblood already did that, and my neck has been sore ever since.”
The ghost’s annoyance started permeating the room like a literal miasma. Either that, or Vincenzo and Lorenzo were farting into the ducts again. Given that it was a Saturday, either one was possible.
“Do you want to improve or not, old man?”
“Yeah, sure, that’s why I have been allowing you ghosts to bother me without whipping out a proton pack.”
“You don’t have a proton pack, and don’t wave your junk at me.”
“See though, this is the kind of stuff that’s good, witty, incisive. Not THIS junk…”
Through the sheer power of the supernatural, the ghost produced an old-timey video reel projector and a pull-down screen. He started playing back some of The Anglo Luchador’s promos from PRIME thus far…
“A long time ago, the people loved me, or they hated me, or they found what I was doing to be slightly off-kilter, but the point was, they had an idea in their heads on who I was. But which identity was the true one? Was I the work rate genius who wowed them with entertaining wars? Or was I the malcontent choke artist who never won a World Championship that he could defend successfully once? Well, I’m here to put any discrepancy in how you see me to rest. It starts with Alexander Redding, and it won’t end until they pry the Universal Championship from my unconscious body in the middle of the ring sometime in 2025. PRIME is going to be mi casa for as long as I’m able to walk and chew gum at the same time, and you can take that to the bank.”
“If I did one of those corny “people I want to wrestle” lists, Johnny would be between Brandon Youngblood and Dan Ryan’s Baby Girl. Iron sharpens iron, or in this case, garbage sharpens garbage, and I mean that in the best way, trust me. I wouldn’t feel complete wrestling tomato cans and prospects. I want the best. I’m gonna get the best, but much like Matthew Stafford with under a minute to go and Tom Brady on the other sideline, I’m getting it done.”
“I’ve forgotten more ways to pin a man’s shoulders to the mat than most wrestlers have learned. To them, hooking the leg is a sometimes affair. For me, if all I’m doing is shooting a half and grabbing a leg, that means I’ve been concussed. You’ve so far met the loverboy and crimson snow. You’re the one-seed on this side of the bracket, but like that jackass Jiles showed against Nova last week, that seed means jack and squat outside of anywhere but the bandwidth of know-it-all smarks on Twitter with egos bigger than their brains.”
The old luchador looked quizzically at the screen, wondering why he was being shown these interviews and soliloquies. “These are fine wrestling promos, sir. I was doing my job of letting the folks at home know my feelings about these matches per the PRIME media rules.”
“Look at the videos again.”
The ghost grew to be the size of Dan Ryan or Kodiak Vic Creed or The Spoiler, take your pick. He started breathing fire out of his nostrils.
“I SAID TAKE ANOTHER LOOK.”
“YOU CAN’T MAKE ME, I’M OLDER THAN YOU.”
The ghost returned to his normal size and demeanor.
“I see what you’re doing, old man. You know why these promos suck.”
“They do NOT suck, younger and dumber me.”
“Dumber? Really? You’re the one who couldn’t tell that there was a real live human in that box.”
“Yes, I could. I was just being dramatic for the camera, like… I…” The old luchador sighed. “I see where you’re going now.”
“You always did, you boomer nerd.”
“I’ll have you know I’m an elder millennial.”
“Whatever dude, the point is, those promos, while good for someone like, I dunno, Dusk or whatever, and this is not a knock on Dusk, I like that guy.”
“We always have. He was really good on all those indie comps we’d get in like ‘97.”
“What I’m saying is they’re not good for you. They’re not good for us. Dusk, Youngblood, Knox, they can get up in front of a camera and do earnest or intimidating or uplifting because that’s their DNA. Yours is something else. When you do it, you come off like the one thing you hated, the one thing you ALWAYS RAGGED AGAINST…”
A knowing, sullen expression formed on the old luchador’s face. “An Ivan Tatrainenbang.”
“Yeah,” the ghost said with all the glibness such an accusation carries. “That’s not you. That’s not us. Don’t you remember what got us to the big dance?”
“Gimmick infringement and pouring beverages over interviewers’ heads.”
“Well, all those things are well and good,” the ghost said with a chuckle, “but those aren’t the core DNA. Those were just the products. Think of it as the land of the Basin of Mexico, right by Lake Texcoco.”
The old luchador’s brow furrowed, as his younger self extrapolated on his premise.
“You see, the land provides for all in a certain way. The manifestations of it may be different. Old Tenochtitlan was not nearly the same expression as Mexico City, but they have the same soul. What you’re doing is trying to build Acapulco on that land. That’s not going to work. Think of what your crowning achievement outside of the ring was.”
The old luchador put his fingers on his chin for a second in thought before coming out with a resounding answer. “Dudleyville.”
“Yes! Dudleyville! It was your first pay-per-view match ever, and you delved into a not-real place in an already imaginary shared psychosis of an entire roster for a wrestling company that does not exist in this world. You had A1E accountants yelling at you for spending so much money on a promotional segment, one for which your tag partner had absolutely no input in creating. You can’t go back there…”
“Mainly because Lindz will yell at me for violating the structural integrity of the multiverse again.”
“That’s the minor reason. The major reason is that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot. Even if it does hit the same area on the planet twice, the path the flood of electrons takes is never the same.”
“Did you somehow pass through Pfefferman’s brain before getting here?”
“No, when you’re a past-life of a living person living in the spiritual void thereafter, you have a LOT of time to read literature. BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT. The point is that you need to think of what bore out that legendary site visit and several other monumental promos and segments and whatever the hell you’re calling them these days.”
A lightbulb went on over the old luchador’s head. He’s been meaning to call an electrician for the intermittent outages on the vanity over his bedroom mirror. It’s really annoying when one single lightbulb goes off and on almost at random. He also came to an epiphany.
The ghost smirked at his older self. “You know better than anyone else the best psychological weapon you have available against your opponents is the grasp of the surreal, the macabre, the absurd, and the fringe use of the Fair Use Act of 1976. You can’t talk down a bear or inspire Vet Stadium on fourth down…”
“But I can certainly make people question whether or not they left the gas on at home.”
“Exactly. You have to find your center.” The ghost smiled, before remembering one other thing he wanted to say. “And ditch all the multiversal wrestler references.”
The old luchador quizzically looked at his spectral younger reflection. “I did. I changed my name.”
“What about the entrance music? And the main submission hold?”
“What, are you saying the lead singer of Fozzy is a wrestler in another dimension? And that he uses the elevated Boston Crab as a finish?”
“Duhhhh. The benefit of the afterlife is that it’s a dumping point for all possible universes. I see shit that I just cannot comprehend, like a wrestling landscape dominated by an old guy who hates wrestling and a trust fund kid who is addicted to cocaine.”
“Wow, that sounds bleak as hell. Thank God for Lindsay Troy and PRIME. Speaking of which, I guess I have to give her a call, huh.”
“Yeah, you do. And don’t go pouring liquids on interviewers’ heads either, but I would also not be as chummy with them as you are now.”
“Yeah, gotta be aloof with the press. Thanks, me.”
“No problem, me. Just don’t make me regret growing up into… well, you.”
The ghost waved goodbye before flipping off his older self and vanishing into the aether. The old luchador picked up his phone and dialed his boss.
“Good morning, Lindz, I got a few favors to ask… they’re not personal favors, I know I’m still in the doghouse, just, show-related favors. First, I need to have some time to call a press conference for ReVival 5… and also, about my entrance music…”
Tenochtitlan wasn’t built in a day. Neither was Mexico City. They were built on the same land, and they both stood, and still stand, tall as the capital of their respective lands, the most important cities in their little corners of the world. The land, the lakes, the plateaus, and, most importantly, the people all shaped these cities into their identities. Each step was a logical one, a building block from the culture and relevance of the year before. Ciudad Mexico is not a different city than her forebear, but an extension, modern and befitting the people who live there currently. Change is good, but one cannot change their soul on a fundamental level. We can be the best versions of ourselves, but we must be ourselves above all other things. Otherwise, it is a recipe for failure and heartache.