The Classic Wrestling studio lights dim and the opening chords of “Train of Consequences” play, bringing out “All Business” Alex Bruder in dark jeans and an extra tight maroon t-shirt.
Moss: Alex Bruder is heading to the ring, a microphone in his hand. He’s normally a very restrained man, but he has been practically strutting around the locker room since his DQ victory over “Feral” Freddy Kilgore at Capital Clash.
Howley: The man is due some bragging. He didn’t just win the match, he survived an attempted mauling via high heel!
Moss: He brought the shoe into the match! What ever happened to reaping what you sow?
Howley: I would never speak poorly of our officiating crew, Moss. But they can’t call what they don’t see.
The lights come up again, and rather than heading into the ring, Alex circles it, until he finds himself face to face with the President of the Freddy Kilgore fanclub, Mikey Collins and his slightly chubby, balding dad, both in matching Kilgore face paint. He’s already smiling as he brings the microphone to his face, and waits out the boos of the crowd.
Bruder: Look at you two, with your cute little painted faces. Did you see what happened at Capital Clash, buddy? Your hero, the King of the Jungle, the Apex Predator, “Feral” Freddy Kilgore, he squared up with me in the ring. He took my measure, and I took his, and when he looked into his untamed heart, he learned something, kid.
Mikey mean mugs Alex Bruder.
Bruder: He learned he didn’t measure up. But instead of quitting, like a man of honor would, instead of walking out of the ring and taking the loss, he went low. He cracked me across my forehead with his woman’s shoe. Not so much the Call of the Wild as the Call of the High Heel.
Alex pauses briefly, waiting for a laugh that the audience does not give him. Mikey’s steely resolve in his face is waning, however.
Bruder: How’d that make you feel, kid, huh? Seeing your hero look to the crowd to tell him what to do? That he didn’t have the strength of his own convictions to “do the right thing”? To see him buckle under the peer pressure and blood lust of an arena full of Classic Wrestling fans, rather than holding firm and powering through within the boundaries of the rules? Knowing that your hero is such a low life cheat that pond scum looks down on him?
Mikey’s lower lip starts trembling. Despite his robust and well documented health, tears start welling in his eyes.
Bruder: Freddy had a choice: do the right thing, or take the easy way out. You saw his choice.
Little Mikey Collins, with tears now streaming down his face, balls up his fists and starts swinging over the barricade!
Moss: No call for that. No call for that at all.
Howley: For once I agree with you, Moss. His dad really needs to get control of that kid!
Moss: That’s not at all what I meant….Mikey’s father is now shouting at Bruder, and I hope security can get these fans settled.
Bruder’s smile drops, and he pulls out his wallet, extracting five crisp hundred dollar bills. He waves them in front of the agitated father’s face, and then steps away to set them on the ring apron, before coming back with the microphone.
Bruder: You want to take a shot at me because Kilgore broke your kid’s heart? I’m a professional, I don’t punk out amateurs. But you want to spar, you pick that money up and get in the ring.
Moss: Of course he pulls this sort of stunt on a day when Freddy Kilgore isn’t even here! I don’t see any way in which taking him up on this offer would be a good idea.
Howley: You’re talking $500, Moss! That’s more money than I made for my first match.
Setting down the microphone with the timekeeper, Bruder goes into the ring and strips off his t-shirt. The father looks at his sobbing child, and then looks around to the people seated around him, many of them encouraging him to stand up for his boy. After a little bit of hesitation, he gingerly climbs over the barricade, walks over to the money, and stuffs it in his right front pocket. After another moment of hesitation, the man clearly more accustomed to desk and a sofa than combat sports climbs up onto the apron, and awkwardly steps between the ropes, finding himself mere feet away from the man who thought it might be fun to taunt his son and make him cry. Despite his portly shape and silly reproduction of Freddy Kilgore’s face paint, he screams gutturally and charges at Alex Bruder!
Bruder side steps and trips him with a drop toe hold, before rolling him onto his back, yanking up his XL “Papa Wild Thang” t-shirt and delivering rapid fire slaps to his pale gut.
Howley: That went about how I would have thought. Maybe slightly better.
Moss: Bruder is pink bellying his opponent. Not sure we’ve seen that inside a Classic ring before.
Flustered, the older Collins rolls over and clambers to his feet, but is met with a kneelift to his bread basket. Bruder grabs his left wrist, and swiftly locks in the Cobra Clutch.
Moss: This man is fading fast here. He never should have stepped in the ring. Fans, please, no matter how much the wrestlers tell you that it’s going to be okay, never cross the barricades!
Bruder sneers as he stares out of the ring towards little Mikey, stunned, puffy eyed and seemingly all cried out. The camera zooms in close on Bruder, and is able to pick up his voice as he yells at the child.
Bruder: Everybody learns someday, kid. Ain’t no such thing as heroes.
He finally releases the hold, shoving the man forward and letting him collapse to the mat. The crowd boos as Alex Bruder exits the ring and makes his way behind the curtain.