The face of “All Business” Alex Bruder fills the screen. It’s framed with medium length black hair, and a neatly trimmed mutton chop. His nose looks like it’s been reset at least once. Cold black eyes stare into the camera, as he speaks in a calm measured tone,just over a whisper.
“All Business. It’s not just a nickname, but a credo, a way of life. Class it up all you want, but what I do is assault people for money. The lawyers would tell you that wrestling is a combat sport, and that the men in the ring consent to having violence committed upon them. And while there may be some truth to that, I’ve been in the ring with men who surely seemed to second guess agreeing to a match after I’ve tied them in so many knots that they nearly have themselves in a headlock.”
The camera zooms out, revealing Alex to be standing in a dimly lit wrestling ring. He’s wearing a clean white t-shirt, probably a size too small, as the sleeves are gripping onto his biceps with all they’ve got, and the shirt is straining against an upper body that’s been conditioned for strength instead of looks. There are empty risers behind him.
“All Business. It means that I didn’t get into wrestling for the adulation of the crowd, or to make my family proud. I beat on people because it pays better than anything else I know how to do. And the reason it does is because I’m so very good at it. I’ve faced a lot of tough men, a lot of brave men, a lot of men with sheer talent, who gave it their all to beat me. But try as they might, they failed more often than they succeeded. Maybe I’m better prepared. Maybe I’m more skilled. Maybe I’m willing to take every advantage I can, while my opponents are too afraid to risk the ire of the officials. I admit, I’m not sure myself. But the results speak for themselves. Winning pays better than losing, and I’ve had my fair share of real good paydays.”
The camera zooms back a third time, and now Alex is shown head to toe, wearing faded jeans and brown leather hiking boots. He steps to the near side of the ring, and grasps the top rope with his right hand, pulling back slightly to check the tension.
“All Business. That means that I’m a professional. I don’t just fight some good ol’ boys they pulled out of the stands. I step in the ring with men who have also decided that they’re willing to put in the time and the training to excel at wrestling. I’m stepping in the ring with people who have all the right tools to make it so that I can’t escape a three-count or answer a ten-count. So when I step into the ring for the first round of the tournament to crown the Classic Wrestling World Champion, I’m not surprised to see that I’m up against Jack Fargo. An Olympic bronze medalist! That takes dedication, and I won’t denigrate the effort, boy. But son, you’re not going to score two points when you take me down to the mat, and I’m not about to offer you the down position. The two of us step onto an amateur wrestling mat, and I have no illusions on how that would go. So it’s a real good thing for me that we’re stepping into a professional wrestling ring instead.”
Bruder pauses, and then puts both hands on the top rope and leans toward the camera.
“Fargo, you got talent, and it will take you far. But it won’t take you past me. So when I slap the Cobra Clutch on you and your whole world turns dark, I hope that you understand that to me, it was just about getting one step closer to the World Championship, and the biggest payday of my career. Jack, I want to make sure you know that all of the pain wasn’t anything personal.”
For the first, Alex cracks the thinnest of smiles.
“It was All Business.”