Posted on 04/18/23 at 2:31pm by The Anglo Luchador
The Anglo Luchador
May 5, 2022
“What the FUCK do you mean you’re not coming home this weekend? It’s Mother’s Day!”
Tamara Mooney-Battaglia stared daggers into a random spot in the wall. Her husband’s return to wrestling had been trying for everyone so far. One would have to be oblivious to see the trips to the hospital and the wanton attacks outside of the confines of a wrestling match and think that Tom was faring 100 percent completely well. Losses he could handle, especially to The Diamond of The ReVival. The sucker punches? Well, those were hard to take at times. Still, he soldiered on, finding his own screwed up way to deal with Balaam, the Mask of Malice. The countout victory was unsatisfying, as Paxton Ray unceremoniously reminded him at the Fighting for Nora function.
His plans seemed simple to him. Simple to a luchador with several bells rung in his head was cockamamie to anyone else residing outside of it. He flew to Japan on a whim to see Pom Shinjoku and came back with the idea that in order to find the power to end the reign of terror of Hoyt Williams’ massive and invincible murder golem, he had to go back to his deathmatch roots, which also somehow involved a political campaign.
You had to be there, to be honest.
But being there meant, in his brain at least, not heading home for Mother’s Day.
“I don’t care. You promised you’d be here for your mom. You promised both the kids you’d make dinner. Everywhere is all booked up and…”
It’s hard living in a man’s world, but Tom always made sure her life was easier than it had to be. For over a decade, she won the bread, climbed the ranks, had a career. He tucked his wrestling career away, sat on the sidelines, and cooked, cleaned, got the kids ready for school. He’d never been so callous as to feed his own whims at the expense of her or the family. Until now.
“I didn’t say a goddamn WORD when you flew out to Japan on an impulse. And now…”
It was like arguing with the random spot on that wall she was using as a proxy for her husband. She threw her free hand up in frustration, knowing it wasn’t like Tom Battaglia to be so unhinged, but that it also was exactly like The Anglo Luchador to do things that defied common sense. It was a steep price to pay for her husband’s happiness, and this was the first time she actively questioned whether it was worth it.
May 12, 2013
It was supposed to be her day to relax. Mother’s Day always meant that Tam could forget about work and kick her heels up. She was a fast riser within her company though. The high-paced world of medical instruments and implements did not care if you were a mother or a motherfucker. If the bosses needed you, you worked. Weekends. Holidays. Nights. Worldwide companies had to do business with all time zones, after all.
Being a woman made her lot especially Sisyphean. Do twice the work for half the pay, and there are no “thank yous” for sacrificing your own time, even on Mother’s Day. Things had to be corrected, and with everyone else either having a penis or seniority or both over her on the totem pole, well, there she was putting out the fires set because of the carelessness of the company’s newest hire, a ne’er-do-well nepotism case named Edwards. Deflated was not the word to describe her mood. She pulled into the driveway of their home in the Philly suburbs and trudged towards the door.
As she entered the house, the breath left her body. The house was immaculate, almost to the point of the kind of sparkles one might see on a cartoon denoting cleanliness and spotlessness. Lorenzo was playing with his little kiddie tablet on the couch, while Vincenzo was presumably upstairs napping as threenagers were wont to do. She closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath, and that instant is when she noticed the sumptuous aroma of browned poultry skin emanating from the kitchen. She dreamily walked as if on her tippy-toes, again like something out of a cartoon, until she spotted her husband, clad in his “Luchadores do it muy caliente” apron over his dad-wear, looking at his phone as pots with potatoes and milk simmering at varying rapidity over the stove.
“What’s all this for?” she asked.
“Oh,” Tom shook from over his phone. “I figured I’d make dinner for you, for Mother’s Day. But I didn’t expect you to be home so early.”
Her smile spanned the diameter of her face, but it softened as she saw that her husband’s eyes reflected less than the same amount of happiness that she felt in her soul.
“What’s wrong, babe? Long day of being a house hubby?”
He shook his head again.
“Oh, oh, uh, no, um, just reading Ring Dispatch, the show report for Unleashed. You know Empire’s had a rough go lately, financial issues, permitting and state regulatory stuff, real hard stuff to work through.”
She could tell when her husband was lying. He wasn’t sad because his old company had fallen on some hard times. Contentment and happiness, after all, were two different things. The life of a father and husband maintaining a household left him content, but there were always moments when she wasn’t at the office where she’d catch him moping around, generally because he was reading about or watching wrestling happening around him that he wasn’t a part of. But before she could ruminate on that thought more, her cellphone rang.
“Hello? Oh goddammit, Edwards, it’s MOTHER’S DAY!”
April 8, 2023
The living room was a mess. The kitchen was worse, even though no one had used it since Tom made dinner before leaving for Dallas on Tuesday. All of Tam’s time was spent putting out fires at work. One might think that being an executive, third or fourth in command at a fairly large medical device company, would afford someone certain privileges, but the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. She still found people leaning on her to do their work on top of hers. Weekends barely belonged to her, but she picked and chose spots to throw her managerial heft around. Watching her husband on ACE Network pay-per-view was one of those times, no matter how icy their relationship had become. Besides, the kids needed to see dad in what people online had termed “The Murder Rumble” anyway.
All the names that came back floated over their heads. None of dad’s old coworkers made splash returns. Chandler Tsonda, Elise Ares, Cecilworth Farthington, all of them names they’d only vaguely heard of but never really crossed paths with. Even Jack Harmen, High Flyer himself, was only someone they knew in passing. Their excitement rose and fell with how well dad was doing at any given moment. They all gasped and cheered when he made a beeline for Tchu and showed him what was up and recoiled when Farthington started whipping him around. No one yelled louder than Tam did when her husband dumped Hoyt Williams on his pompous head, and it was at that moment all three thought he could maybe go all the way, be the Iron Man.
“INTO THE VOID! Could that be the end of the road for The Anglo Luchador?” asked Nick Stuart from the broadcast booth as if the next action from the former Champion, Rezin, wasn’t academic.
All three sat on the couch stunned. Tam’s face softened as she saw her husband’s eyes from behind the lucha mask. All the bullshit he went through in 2022 and the beginning of 2023, and he never lost the vim or the vigor of being an active wrestler again, not through the hospital trips and dalliances with hallucinogens and erratic behavior and snap flights to foreign countries. But sitting there on the mats, after being dumped from the Battle Royale before reaching the top ten, she saw a familiar melancholy developing in his eyes. It was the same look he’d have whenever he was reminded of a career he gave up so that he could be a family man for all those years. For the first time in a long time, she sensed he was neither happy nor content.
She looked around the living room at the clutter and the dishevelment, then at her phone, which she’d put on silent at the beginning of the second night telecast of Culture Shock, seven missed calls and 23 texts. She wasn’t happy or content either. In her mind, she plotted out all the different ways this could all go, and all of them seemed difficult. But then she looked back at the television, the camera panning away momentarily from action in the ring to show her husband looking back forlornly if only momentarily. Maybe things were rough now, but in that moment she realized something. She knew he needed her. The display in her office a few nights prior with the phone and the iPod spoke that loudly and clearly.
That epiphany? She realized she needed him too.
May 11, 2003
The little apartment on South Street sprung to life for the first time in who knows how long. An oppressive road schedule with various wrestling companies kept its residents, Tom B. and Tam M., from visiting even though Tom made sure the rent was never more than one day late. The door from the stairwell flung open as the happy couple traipsed in, fresh from celebrating Mother’s Day with his mom and his aunts. They both were tired, but it was a different kind of tired from living out of suitcases, always playing on the road, going from television taping to house show to another company’s television taping. Large Italian family gatherings tended to do that to even the most road-hardened wrestler.
“It feels good to be home.”
She smiled and sighed.
“I’m beginning to think home isn’t even a place.”
She sidled up next to her boyfriend and gave him a soft peck on the lips.
“It’s just wherever I happen to be when I’m with you.”
“It’ll be a physical place one day,” he said, smiling. “When I’m able to make enough of a name for myself and I can stop doing these house shows or indie dates to make extra cash. Maybe I can be the big name in a single company, and then we can have a big house in the suburbs, and our kids can run around in a yard and…”
“Kids?” she said with a chuckle. “I’m the one who’s gonna have to be doing all the heavy lifting with them, right?”
“I mean, yeah. Unless they find a way to graft a uterus on me. But I think you’d make a hell of a mom someday.”
“And what makes you think that?”
“I saw you today with all my cousins’ kids. You just…”
He trailed off. She interrupted his train of thought.
“I think when the time comes, I’ll be a good mom too. But you’ll be a good dad. We’ll do it together, like we always do.”
“Yeah,” he replied as he sat down on the only piece of furniture they had in their living area, a ratty old loveseat. She snuggled up beside him and dozed off. She had everything she needed in the world right there, in that cramped apartment above the pizza place on South Street.
April 17, 2023
While her situation at work thrust heaping mounds of bullshit upon her back, having enough executive power came with it perks. For example, Tam rarely had to go into the office anymore. Work from home was a revelation for her, even if she rarely if ever stopped working. However, there were days when she had to go into the office. This particular Monday happened to be one of them, yet another five-alarm blaze lit by, who else, Edwards, that she had to put out. She pulled into the driveway of their home and trudged towards the door.
As she opened the door, the breath left her body. Spotless. Immaculate. Vincenzo sat on the couch watching anime on the big screen downstairs, afforded a rare opportunity to have the best screen in the house to himself. Lorenzo was nowhere to be seen, likely either out back practicing his jumper or over his friend’s house. It was déjà vu from a simpler time. And like clockwork, the smell of browned poultry skin beckoned her from the kitchen.
There she saw him, no phone in hand this time, but the same melancholy on his face as he tended to the potatoes boiling in the pot.
“Why so glum, chum?”
His head turned to find his wife standing in her most passive-aggressively color patterned business casual, the only form of protest against a decade-plus of having to pick up for incompetent male coworkers she could muster.
“And where’s that old luchador you let stay here for an impossibly long amount of time?”
“Eh,” he finally spoke. “He stayed back in Mexico. We had a chat. I still have a lot to learn before he can really help me.”
“You still didn’t answer the first question.”
His entire torso deflated in exhale.
“I don’t know what to do. People say finishing 15th out of 41 of the best wrestlers in the fucking world should be something to hang my hat on, but it’s not 10th. Or fifth. Or first. I didn’t come back to be an also-ran. I didn’t come back to be fucking loser, to be the guy that the shithead nepo baby could hang his hat on, or that the French kid uses to get right, or the sociopath who should be in FUCKING JAIL uses to put gold on his resume.”
He turned the heat down on the left burner as the milk he was scalding.
“And the worst thing,” he continued, “Is I’m going to lose the only person in my life who wasn’t blood related to me that means a goddamn thing. This isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t…”
He couldn’t hold back his tears any longer. She looked at him and gave the sternest clear of her throat she could.
“Who said you were losing me, you big baby?”
He sniffled as he looked up.
“I know I’ve been pissed off lately. And you know as well as I do that it’s not without justification.”
He nodded sheepishly, knowing what she said was true.
“But as fucked up as things are right now, babe…”
She sidled up to him.
“It’s not anything we can’t fix. Together. Let me ask you a question. Where do you think home is?”
He looked at her puzzled for a second before answering.
“It’s here, uh, in Malvern, in this house.”
“Well, you’re half right. It is here. But it wouldn’t matter if it were in this house, or in that apartment on South Street, or in a hotel room, or in your parents’ house. Home is where I am with you and the boys.”
A tear started to form in her eyes.
“I’m not going to give that up. We have work to do, yeah, but I don’t think you’re the only one who has to do it.”
She looked in his eyes before continuing.
“Let’s fix this mess together. This relationship, our home, and your career.”
She leaned in to kiss him until they both were jolted by an unexpected sound emanating from the stove.
“Oh shit, the potatoes!”
He rushed to turn down the heat on the stove. Tam laughed at him as he fumbled with dinner. The phone in her handbag buzzed. For once, she ignored it as she turned to leave the kitchen. Before she broached the foyer into the living room, she stopped in her tracks.
“Hey, Mother’s Day this year, are you on the road?”
“Oh, uh, no, that’s an off-week. And good news, mom and dad wanted to go on a vacation to Boca that week so we can just celebrate you. I was going to surprise you, but I got Mike to watch the kids.”
“Yeah,” he said, testing a chunk of the potatoes to see if they were ready to hit the food mill. “I made reservations for that Cuban place you wanted to try. Got a hotel room downtown too. Whole nine.”
“Oh, well, I’m glad you didn’t keep that from me. I think I need to get something nice to wear.”
Tom went back to minding dinner as Tam walked into the living room. She stopped for a second to take in all the gravity. For the first time in what seemed like weeks, she smiled.