Private: Jonathan Rhine
From the manuscript of the memoir “Renewed – The Rises and Falls of Jonathan Rhine” – to be released in Fall of 2027
There are some of you reading this book and I know you’re just over it.
“Sure, Jon. That’s great. Ultraviolence. Shweta. Your Foundation. How nice, how sweet. Can you get to the incident already?”
I get it. In fact, I have to thank Paxton Ray – for a lot of things, actually. But specifically I have to thank him for generating enough interest that this book was made. No one wants to hear about a multi-time champion. Or how he resurrected his career with shady methods.
But get paralyzed in front of thousands of people? Oh yeah, that’s book material for sure.
So I apologize for not getting to this section sooner, but in some ways I couldn’t. I have to tell the whole story. And in order for you to understand how the incident changed my life, you needed to understand who I was before it.
And that’s who I was. A flawed man. One who was missing something in his life ever since 2009. A man who looked high and low to find something to fill that hole, and inadvertently caused harm to countless others on the way.
I was a user. I was a charlatan. I waved flags that I didn’t care about, championed causes that got me further, and only stopped occasionally to think about the consequences.
I was honest about it once, when Paxton Ray was beating me within an inch of my life. And then he stopped, and I thought we had moved past it. But only I had moved past it. Paxton let it fester, let it stew, and after months he finally got his revenge.
Let’s talk about that night.
That night meant nothing to me at the time. Connor Nackedy was right – I didn’t care about the eGG Bandits. At the time, I didn’t care about much in the wrestling ring. In my mind, we had our big opportunity for the titles and lost it. So I didn’t really care about a random match against Bobby Dean and Dooze, who are good competitors but hadn’t really upset me otherwise.
After losing the tag titles, I started to focus on other things. I focused on my friendship with Jared. I focused on Shweta. I focused on the Foundation. And in the lead up to Ultraviolence, I was starting to feel it. Slowly but surely, the hole inside me was closing.
After the match, while I was holding onto Paxton for dear life as my ankle gave out, I hugged him close. I told him how I proud I was of him, and how we are on a journey to something amazing. And I’ll never forget his response as he pulled my head to his mouth.
“Pal, you have no idea.”
And then I don’t remember anything.
The first person I saw when I woke up was Lindsay Troy.
The first thing I heard? That’s trickier. I have had extensive conversations with Dr. Phillip England about this. The therapy surrounding this event has been long-lasting and fruitful, but also incredibly traumatic. Dr. England encourages meditation and displacement, shutting down all senses in order to regain memories of things you have shut out or otherwise caused yourself to forget.
More than a dozen times I have tried this, tried to leave my body and go back to the Sunrise Medical Center, so that I can remember anything from the day after the attack.
But I can’t. The memories are lost forever.
Not completely, of course. Like I said, I remember seeing Troy’s face. And then, while she was talking, I saw Shweta, seated in the corner, tears streaming down her face. She smiled at me, and the smile was the most beautiful, yet saddest thing I had ever seen. I was uplifted by her presence, but her face told me everything I needed to know about my future.
But the words of that encounter are gone. I know what they are. They were my deathknell, the eulogy of my wrestling career, the final nail in a coffin that should have been shut long before then. Trying to remember them seems pointless at this point.
All I need to remember from that time are two things: Shweta’s face, a juxtaposition of the highs and lows of the moment; and the pacing by the window of Jared Sykes, his head down, his mouth constantly moving as he muttered to himself. As I thought about what would happen next in my life, and how Paxton Ray would pay for his sins, I saw Jared and knew that question would be answered soon.
I’m not mad at Paxton anymore.
I was at the time, of course. I had acknowledged my sins, but the punishment felt too severe. I took my career for granted, I think; part of me thought I would be like Phil Atken, still successful in my fifties, still able to show the world what my body could do. So I was angry, and I wanted Paxton to pay for what he did to me. Not just for attacking me, but for being cowardly about it. For waiting like a snake in the grass.
But I am no longer angry, and that’s for two reasons.
One, Paxton paid for what he did. I don’t have to go too much further into that.
Two, Paxton’s act actually ended up saving my life. In the year before my accident, I was a broken man. I desperately yearned to find my wrestling purpose and my life purpose. We obviously know that I found my life purpose that year, when Shweta and I began our journey together. But that injury allowed me to find my wrestling purpose as well.
When most of your professional life is successful, you don’t think there’s another way of doing things. After all, what you did was working, so why change it? And this was how I was in the early part of my career, as well as when I rejoined PRIME in 2022. I knew how to work hard, say some nice things about people, and use speed and strength to overwhelm my opponent. I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, I was just doing what worked.
But after Paxton took those things away from me, it made me realize that I could go about things a different way. I didn’t have my arms or my legs. But I had my brain. I had my passion. And I had my friends to learn from.
Jared Sykes taught me how to fight when things looked bleak. And Paxton Ray provided the environment to put those lessons to the test. Without Paxton Ray, I never would have had to relearn my body. I never would have focused on the parts of my brain necessary to turn my wrestling academy into so much more than a school. And without Paxton Ray, I never would have had to learn how to walk again, and understand how good it feels to feel the grass under your feet.
Paxton Ray took everything from me. But he also allowed me to find everything again on my own terms. And for that, I am thankful. Because the journey is still arduous, but as long as I keep walking it, hand in hand with my friends, my wife, and my baby boy JJ, nothing will stop me from getting there.
One foot in front of the other.