Rocky de Leon
LAREDO, Texas – Rocky De Leon looked over the PWA-1 match card for the 37th time in the last two days. I can do this. I can win this. Right? I know I lost my first match, but I SHOULD have won. It’s not my fault the ref was dirty. I can do this. Can I do this? I can do this. Darin Zion. What do we know about him? PRIME Ranked 38th. 0-4. Without averting his eyes from the card, with a single hand Rocky opened a new pack of Uniball Signo 0.5 mm gel pens, extracted the first from the left, clicked the top, flipped the pen 180 degrees, popped the gel protective ball off the nib with his thumbnail, and finally flipped the pen another 180 degrees into his default writing position before scribbling on the pad to his side. He glanced over at his laptop with TOR still open to the duckduckgo search he ran earlier and began writing.
- 6’0, 225 lbs
- 36 years old
- Wears ridiculous heart covered pants
- Favors rapid and diving flashy moves – european uppercut, suicide dive, missel drop kick
- Has some odd obsession with love. Lonely, maybe? Can’t get a second date? Not hugged enough as a child? ← needs investigation
…not much, I guess. Time to get to work.
It took a while, but Rocky found a gym within a reasonable distance of Laredo. Correction, he found a gym within reasonable distance that didn’t attempt to create wrestling cowboys. Texas wrestling was… different. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the muscle, the braggadocio, the flair, and the ego. Rocky’s style was never flashy – there’s a reason he was a journalist and not a stage or screen writer. Rocky focused on fact, data, and analysis. When he told a story, he told the story – no added flair, no flash, no fantasy. He knew he needed to find a place where he had at least a chance of finding a trainer that could lean into his personality and strengths without also expecting him to be able to also lasso a cow and eat an entire porterhouse while in the middle of a suplex.
Rocky set his GPS for a location off highway 281 a fair ways West of Corpus Cristi in a little town called Freer, Texas. There wasn’t much in Freer, other than, for some reason, a Best Western, an RV Park, and sufficient cheap and open space to build a rather spacious gym that adopted the aesthetics of a Costco from the outside – all industrial metal and concrete. The location was well suited to a lack of distractions. It wasn’t flashy, but it was likely both cheap and efficient to build, as well as cheap and efficient to heat and (hopefully) cool. There was no large sign on the building or anything suggesting its contents. The only indicator of what lay within was a message laid out in vinyl letters on the door. “Donny’s Gym. Definitely not a Mafia front.” Pretty sure I wouldn’t have thought it was a Mafia front if he hadn’t put that on there. He pulled the door open and walked into the sufficiently, yet somehow still dimly lit, gym.
The interior was almost as spartan as the outside. There were four rings, benches around them, and not much else. No posters, no promotional materials – just concrete and metal anywhere there wasn’t a ring or a place to sit and observe. Clearly their interior designer is of the Bauhaus movement. Rocky looked around for the business office, or something that at least resembled a location where one might go to exchange money for services. One of the corners had a few extra walls with a window tossed up and a cheap hollow door. The walls looked like they were made of corrugated sheet metal. Rocky headed that way, allowing his nose time to acclimate to the mildly offending blend of sweat, body odor, and other spoiled scents that generally define a locker room. The air was full of the sound of bodies colliding with each other, with mats, and, on occasion, with chairs and other accessories not necessarily designed for collision. Rocky had goosebumps, but it almost certainly wasn’t due to the temperature – it felt like Donny found air conditioning anathema to his existence (or maybe his wallet).
The office entrance was barricaded six feet in from the door by a desk with a young blonde behind it, toying idly on what was either tobacco or gum in her mouth. “Howdy, sir, what can we do ya fer?” She put on a genuine smile while waiting for Rocky to respond, then blew a small pink bubble until it popped. Rocky found himself pleased it wasn’t tobacco, and the waft of Double Bubble was a pleasing contrast to the lingering tinge of sweat in the building. It was hard for Rocky to judge her height from her seated position, but it was very clear her looks garnered her a front line position. Her name plate read, “Cindy.”
“I’m looking to speak with someone to inquire about wrestling training,” Rocky said, attempting to match her own smile toned down a bit.
“Well, yuh’ve come to the raight place, tha’s fer sure, mister! DADDY! FRESH MEAT!” As she bellowed out the call to who Rocky could only guess was Donny, she bounced up from her chair. Rocky wasn’t sure how physics worked to prevent her from hitting herself in the face as she did so. “Daddy’ll be here in a minute, just for you.” She winks, blows another bubble, then smacks her gum after it pops. Rocky doesn’t realize he is staring until a much deeper voice invades his calm.
“Thank you, Cindy, but come on now, we’ve talked about this. You can’t be calling me Daddy at the office. It don’ give the right impression to the other employees.”
“You mean Stu?”
“Ah mean the other employees.”
“Stu,” Cindy turns her head and yells, “you know Donny’s mah daddy, right?”
A voice from a desk around the corner almost out of sight softly responded, “Yes, Miss Walker.”
“See Daddy, Stu already knows. It ain’t hurtin’ nothin’.”
She blew another bubble as Donny sighed. He turned and extended a hand to Rocky. “Name’s Donny Walker, I own this joint. The insubordinate subordinate you met there’s mah daughter Cindy. Eyes up.” Rocky presumed the last line was reflexive for Donny, as he had maintained eye contact with Donny from the moment he began speaking. “What’re ya here for?” Donny asked, through narrowed eyes.
Rocky swallowed and inhaled, realizing he’d been effectively holding his breath for the last few seconds. “Well, sir, I’m here to learn. I signed on with PRIME and I’d like to, well, not die.”
“PRIME, huh?” Donny said, narrowing his eyes, apparently unimpressed. “Them yankee wrestlers think they know what’s up, but we can teach ya right a’fore they go makin’ ya soft.”
“I… I’m pretty sure they’re mostly based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Does Vegas really qualify as Yankee?…” Rocky made the mistake of believing Donny cared about accuracy as much as Rocky did.
Donny waved a hand, dismissing the comment, and continued, “Ain’t no matter, we can whip you into shape. I’ll need you to fill out this stack of waivers, this application, this automatic deposit contract (cancellation policy is in paragraph 12), and you’ll need to tell me what style uh wrasslin’ you intend to primarily utilize so I can best pairs ya up with a trainer.”
“Well, sir, I just competed in the new year’s Luchador Especial, and I’m thinking it would be good to keep to my Mexican heritage and at least continue to try to start my career as a luchador.”
Donny grinned, “Aw yeah, you’re into that top rope flippy shit, huh?”
“I getcha, we’ll hook you up with Mike – he’s watched like 8000 hours of that acrobatic nonsense. Loves the shit. HEY MIKEY!” Donny walks off before Rocky can respond.
Rocky shrugged and followed. Quietly, from his desk in the back, Stu muttered, “…you’re not gonna like him.”
Four hours later, Rocky comes back to the office drenched in sweat, looking to sign his paperwork and drop off a check. “Well howdy there, new friend! How’d ya like workin’ with Mikey?” Cindy beams at Rocky as she pops her gum.
“Well,” Rocky says between huffs, still quite out of breath, “It’s not exactly what I was looking for, but I mean, if Donny says it’s what I need, then…”
“I told you you wouldn’t like him,” a quiet, but audible, mumble comes from the desk at the back. Stu continues to stare at one of the external monitors connected to his laptop, typing quickly and quietly, rapidly populating a spreadsheet.
“I’m sorry, w-what?” Rocky stammers a little, suddenly realizing Stu is even there.
“He’s wasteful,” Stu says, almost monotone, as though his mind isn’t really present for the conversation but is just dumping side information so his memory buffer can fill with whatever is actually necessary for his task at hand.
“What do you mean, ‘he’s wasteful?’” Rocky peels his eyes away from Cindy and focuses on Stu for the first time.
Stu sits with shockingly good posture for a desk jockey. He’s small by wrestler standards – height indeterminate due to his seated position, but probably average, thin, with mousy brown hair, eyes too large for his face, glasses that are clearly designed for function over form, and eyes that move rapidly enough there’s no question he is highly caffeinated. He pauses his typing, turns to Rocky, and adjusts his focus. His pupils contract slightly, as he says in a far less monotone voice, “He teaches flash. Donny sent you there for top rope flippy shit, and Mike will deliver top rope flippy shit, but he won’t deliver wins.”
“Why not?” Rocky pulls a folding metal chair from against a wall and sits near Stu’s desk, careful to position himself where he can’t see the computer screen so Stu wouldn’t have any privacy concerns.
“Top rope flippy shit is expensive,” Stu shrugs. “It burns energy. Lots of energy. It’s fine to do once in a while, or when you’re about to put someone away, but you spend a match on that and you’ll tire yourself out 37% faster than your opponent. On average. Probably. If I’m guessing your weight correctly. I might not be. 215 plus or minus 2% I’d wager, but in any case Mike will make you stylish, but you’ll lose with style.”
Rocky is stunned to near silence. He just stares at Stu for what is probably ten seconds but feels like a few minutes before he opens his mouth and asks, “and… what exactly do you do for Donny?”
“…is that all?”
“Pretty much. I have most of that automated by now, though. In my spare time I watch the wrestlers work out and compile data.” Stu’s external monitor setup has two displays on a dual swinging arm mount which is bolted to his desk. He quickly swivels one monitor around so Rocky can see. An excel sheet with a flood of numbers immediately commands the majority of Rocky’s vision. “Wrestlers are big, and they can be fast, or powerful (not often, but sometimes, both), and different techniques have different levels of effectiveness on different wrestlers.” Stu flips through pages of data. He rapidly explains what Rocky is looking at, but fails to go at a speed that Rocky can actually absorb. What Rocky does pick up is Stu’s undeniable passion and the depth of his data collection. “Most luchas are smaller – they’re quick, but things are going to go badly if, for example, they take a blow from someone really big. The average world champion, on the other hand, is 6 foot 3.2 inches tall and weighs approximately 274.06 pounds. That amount of mass takes a lot of energy to move around. All that said, regardless of who you wrestle there is one clear common denominator for the majority of successful wrestlers.”
“…and what’s that?” Rocky says, completely enraptured by Stu’s lecture.
“Absurd stamina. Or excellent energy management. On the surface, they’re basically imperceptibly different, and without testing the individual wrestlers I can’t tell you who has which, but what I can say is when someone runs out of energy, they hit the floor. The best way to not run out of energy first is to spend less of it than the guy across from you.”
“Alright,” Rocky says, his brain finally processing most of what’s been flooded into his ears, “let’s say you’re correct, which, frankly, based on this presentationI’m assuming you are. How do I go about using this data and putting it into practice?” Stu returns his gaze briefly to his other monitor. He rapidly dives through a series of nested folders until he finds a file labeled, “Expenditures.xls,” double clicks, and a new sheet opens before Rocky. It opens to what Rocky assumes was its last used state on a tab simply labeled “R.” A quick glance reveals a tab for what he presumes is every letter of the alphabet in alphabetical order.
|Rib Breaker||915 joules|
|Roundhouse Kick||572 joules|
|Russian Suplex||4,298 joules|
“Is… is this a complete list of all wrestling moves and the energy necessary to perform them?” Rocky asks, his eyes wide.
Stu grins, “Oh, it’s better than that.” He uses a keyboard shortcut Rocky does not know to immediately return to the first tab of the sheet. The tab is labeled “Input Variables.” “After I add the necessary measurements,” Stu continues, “It calculates precisely how much energy a specific wrestler needs to perform these moves. I, uh, might have taken the liberty of pre-populating this with my estimates for you.”
Rocky is shocked and a little disturbed how accurate Stu’s guesses are. “Do you have data on Darin Zion in your models ?”
“I have information on every member of PRIME, HOW… all of the feds big enough to get TV time, and some of the ones that aren’t.”
Rocky practically salivates to the point of drooling the longer he looks at the spreadsheets.
“What uh… what are you doing for the next six weeks?”
“I thought you’d never ask.” Stu slaps his laptop shut, then slips it into a bag which he zips shut. He picks up his mouse and places it into a hard shell case that he clips on to the outside of the bag. “Let’s go.”
“Go where? I didn’t even-”
“There was a 98.3% chance you were about to ask me if I’d help train you to take down Darren Zion (which, may I add, my calculations suggest should be surprisingly easy to do), and the answer is yes. So, let’s not waste time on how I knew that and instead let’s go and get you some fuel so you have energy to actually do anything worthwhile. There’s a Waffle House down the road.” He sighs, “Ugh, ‘top rope flippy shit’…’”
Stu does not wait for Rocky and begins to walk out the door. Cindy smiles at Rocky and waves, “Buh bye, now! See you boys later.”
Rocky follows Stu, trying to decide whether he’s making a terrible mistake.
Cindy pulls Rocky’s contract back out of the drawer her daddy put it in. She strikes out Mikey’s typed name and hand writes, “Stu Weiler.”