Standing alone in front of the Classic Wrestling banner, “All Business” Alex Bruder glowers at the camera. He waits a few seconds, before addressing the camera in his usual measured way, each word carefully chosen.
“King Kong Frank. The Premier American Champion. I wonder if you realize how lucky you are. You had the good fortune to have that size, and to be blessed with the talent that you possess. Lots of big men in wrestling, Frank, but they don’t all rise to the top like you have.”
Bruder nods to himself, and then plows on.
“And you have risen so far, Frank. I can’t deny it. You made it all of the way to Classic Wrestling. You battled monsters and giants, Frank, and you carried the day. I won’t take a blasted thing away from you. I do wonder, Frank, if maybe you’re being stretched too thin.”
“You’re tussling with Scott Hunter. You have to prepare to defend your title, that Premier American Championship, against The Undercover Lover. And Frank, you must see Shujin Yama, the man you toppled to earn your title, walking around with the Real World’s Championship, and wonder if maybe it’s your place to take that title away from him as well. I wouldn’t blame you, Frank. You’re only human.”
Another pause, longer this time, and Bruder’s tone takes a dark turn.
“But your best luck, Frank, the proof that you are walking around with every rain cloud skirting around you, is that it’s taken you a year to come face to face with the man who climbed to the top of Classic Wrestling first, the man who set the damned standard! And on the day when you finally have to meet me one on one, man to man, well you don’t even have to put your title on the line. I don’t have your size, Frank. I don’t have your power. All I have is an iron will, determination, and the willingness to do what others are too scared to do. I step in that ring, and I’m almost always the smaller man, the weaker man, the underdog, and it hasn’t slowed me down. I persevere, Frank. I’m still here.”
Bruder’s speech starts changing into a growl, and his tempo picks up considerably.
“You want to know what it’s like to step into the ring with “All Business” Alex Bruder? To stand toe to toe with a man who isn’t trying to pin you, isn’t trying to make you submit, but is going to wrap his arms around your mangy neck and turn the world off?”
“Ask Fargo! Ask the Saint! Ask Starling! Ask Desert Eagle! Ask Freddy Kilgore if you can find any of them!”
The list of names was nearly barked, and there’s some spittle on his neat mutton chops.
Bruder stops to collect himself, pacing side to side before turning once more to the camera, and once more in control.
“Frank, ask good ol’ Metro, who even having beat me was left so shaken that he had to feed on a couple of tag team wrestlers just to get his confidence back. Not me, Frank. I took my beating, and I got back in the ring. I did what I’m best at. Facing down a man in the dead center of the ring, sizing him up and tearing him down. We dress it up, Frank, we try to make it sound bigger and more noble than it is, but we fight people for money. I’ll make a man bleed to put food on my table, and I’ll break his bones if it means I can buy another acre of land. I beat the man in front of me, and only then do I start worrying about beating the man who’s next.”
“You have a lot on your plate, Frank, so many things to worry about: Hunter, Lover, maybe even Yama. I only have one, Frank. I only have you.”
His lips curl in a twisted parody of a smile.
“You are living a blessed life, Frank. We face off, I knock you out, and everybody goes back about their business. It will all feel like a bad dream, the kind you can’t quite remember, but sends a shiver down your spine nonetheless, but you can drink your moonshine, hoot and holler, all of it. But you make me fight for it?”
The smile disappears.
“I’ll still be here, Frank. And that’s when your luck runs out.”