Next Level. No Limits. Those two letters could mean just about anything.
Maybe not anything.
Regardless, that's what we bring. That's the vibe of this company. That's the future of professional wrestling. No limits.
Maybe I should start this thing...)
"This is what I got into professional wrestling for. Not the money, though some money would be nice. Not the fame or the glory, although it's a hoot having people know my name."
"The fans. The people. Those fifteen hundred or so fans crammed into the Hammerstein who saw me for what I am and supported me when I wasn't anywhere near."
Local. Townie. Hometown boy done good.
"I love this city and the people in it. I'm glad Next Level Wrestling is set to take back New York for the real people who can't always afford tickets to the Garden to see what Ryan or Shepherd Mayfield are putting on."
"For the people who prefer the community atmosphere of an indy - level wrestling promotion to tens of thousands chanting a generic and forgettable catchphrase in unison at someone who doesn't remember names and faces."
"For the boys in the locker room of Next Level wrestling who are the future of this sport, if my presence brings some added attention to what you guys can do, then it's worth it. I trained in this sport with people who stressed the idea of community, only to be left in a situation where every opponent for months took advantage of that naivete to put themselves over."
I can look back and laugh now. Now.
"That's not what I'm interested in doing. It's only been two years for me, but I've managed to add some sort of reputation to the name Impulse, and now I'm going to use it."
Maybe this should get cut off before I start thanking the Academy.
(A small, we’re talking 12’ by 12’, rented room which houses a comforter, two dilapidated pillows and an enormous man cooking up his last 3 strips of bacon on a rusted, filthy hot plate. The hot plate is situated atop a three legged table as the walrus of a man sits on a milk crate and uses his left knee as the 4th table leg. He’s using all of his concentration to do this.
Wearing a patterned – think of one of those magic eye images - and stained button down shirt with the top 3 buttons either undone or just gone and a pair of black track pants, his silver plated chain picks up the odd glimmer from a late morning sun seeping through a tiny, yellow crusted window. He’s got huge glasses on, thicker than a good steak and sports carefully tended, slightly truncated mutton chops which lead toward a goatee, also well cared for. There’s about an inch and a quarter of bare skin between the two spots of hair. Facially-hair speaking, he resembles Hyde from 70’s show plus a Jason Varitek circle beard/goatee.
His ever present rum and coke is in the bottom half of a coke bottle, the rest of the coke is in the top half, placed upside down near the hot plate. He breaks up a few pieces of beef jerky and drops them into the pan of sizzling bacon, turns to face the camera.)
Zesty: I don’t know what in the f&ck that dude was talking aboot, dudes. Something to do with his big repudiation and doing something to boys in a locker room, I guess. I’m convinced to beat his ass, I’ll tell you that much.
(He scoops out the bacon and jerky, dropping the pieces onto an old bread heel and takes a sip off his rum and coke. Produces a rum bottle from his pants, strengthens his beverage and then carefully pours a bit more coke in before giving it a good stir with a full piece of beef jerky, leaving his meaty stirring stick in there.)
Zesty: Camera bud, you want a bacon jerky heel sandwich?
Voice behind camera: No, I don’t think so.
Another voice behind the camera: I’ll take one, Zesty.
Zesty: Corey Trevor I didn’t give you permission to speak! Smokes, now!
(A man vaguely resembling an alien chicken, 6’3” and 135lbs, runs up from nowhere and hands Zesty two cigarettes.)
Zesty: Now go down to that fanciful restaurant we saw the other day and wait for me.
Corey Trevor: Okay, Zesty!
Zesty: Oh, wait. Pick me up some Dr. Pibb and Funions, and a copy of last month’s Big Black Booty. We’re gettin’ stoned tonight, Corey.
CT (with, if you will, zest): All right, Zesty!
(The camera turns to catch the whip of a sidekick rush out and slam the door. Back to Zesty and he’s soaking up the bacon grease with a bread heel to use as the top half of his sandwich.)
Zesty (munching): This is a great breakfast, you’re really missing out here. That boys-toucher was missing something, too. Me. Now I may not know what the hell he was trying to say, but I am pretty sure he wasn’t talking to me. If he wants to talk to me, he can come over and try to take a bacon jerky heel sandwich and see what happens. Maybe we’ll smoke some hash and get along like dogs and dogs, but probably not. It takes two to tangle, bud, and I’ve had turds bigger and tougher looking than you. Easily. I’ve had to use my hockey stick to break a few up when the damn sh*tter wouldn’t flash it down.
(He finishes up his breakfast and stands up, bread crumbs and bits of beef jerky rain down from his person.)
Zesty: Look I saw you runnin’ around that ring the other night and you are fast. You’re like a greasy little greyhound on adderall but you’re about as scary as a stubbed toe. I’ll walk you off and beat you down, wipe that silly smirk off your mug and pick my teeth with your skull. Hey, that’s a good idea. Let’s talk a walk, bud, get that Mediate Baron over and I’ll let you boys help me out today.
(Zesty gets up, sending the table, upside down - though capped - coke bottle and hot plate flying. The rum and coke is of course safe in hand. He’s to the door in three steps, out of it in a heartbeat, closing it in the camera's face.)
It's late, or early depending on your definition. This is one of the things I love most about professional wrestling, my sleeping schedule has been off kilter ever since I was in college.
Sidenote, classes before eleven in the morning are a cruel practical joke on mankind.
But I didn't work today. I worked last night, a house show for the New Frontier in upstate New York, and got home at around six in the morning.
Rosie didn't work this one with me, she had to cover Val's shift at the bar. She's claiming swine flu, but I think it's just the regular brand. Anyways, I got home around six, slept all day, and woke up at eleven thirty at night. No wrestling for three more days, so there's no real need to be on any kind of schedule.
Breakfast at nearly midnight is the way to go. Bacon, eggs, toast, and a slice of melon.
What? I like melon. And three... two... one...)
"I thought I'd start with this, Zesty. Common language. What's more basic than bacon and eggs?"
If this isn't common enough, I'm fully intending on having a beer with my meal.
"Didn't mean to confuse you earlier, Zesty. My message is typically directed to those who don't need a hammer to drive the point home, but I can adapt."
Flip the bacon, hear the crackle.
"Adaptation, after all, is the key to success in any industry, anywhere."
"What I said, Zesty, when you strip away the language, is you and the other wrestlers are going to be paid more money for the next show than you otherwise would. Because I'm there. You'll be able to afford the super - sized meal and the gallon jug of rum this time out."
"I'm not much for speeches unless they look like fun, Zesty, and I'm obviously over your head, so let me spell it out in language you'll be able to understand."
I scooped the three slices of bacon off the pan and held them aloft on the spatula for a few seconds while the excess grease dripped, then laid them down on my plate next to the toast.
"Pretend the toast is the ring, and these two pieces of bacon are you and me."
Sorry for the greasy pork puppet show. But I took one piece and broke it in half.
The one that represented you, that is.
"That's what's going to happen, Zesty. It might be easy, it might be tough, but it's inevitable."
Okay, crack the egg, and no more playing with my food.
(Camera follows Zesty Mordant down a filthy but otherwise nondescript street in NYC. The Media Baron is about two steps behind as Zesty is keeping a brisk pace. His big melon head is covered in wavy, gravy-colored hair and features a big damn strap from ear to ear, keeping his enormous eyeglasses in place.)
Zesty: …And then I had to reconsituate outside of Canada for a while, which was bullsh*t cuz I had no way of knowing she was a cop. She wasn’t dressed like a cop, she didn’t look like a cop, she didn’t even smell like a cop. She smelled like a Fig Newton in the microwave…
(Zesty turns to face The Media Baron but finds the other man is a good ten feet away now.)
Zesty: What in the f&ck, buddy? Your little Mediate Barroom ass better keep the f&ck up, I’m not gonna stop to plant roses cuz of your asthma or shingles or whatever the hell it is you must have. What kind of name is that anyway?
MB: It’s Me—
(Now that little MB has caught up, Zesty resumes his pace)
Zesty: Shut the f&ck up. Smokes, now.
MB: But I don’t smoke.
Zesty: Gowddamit. (beat) That’s another thing I like aboot the States, thoses Fig Newtons. They are f&cking delicious. Pricey though. Now In-plus says I make more money cuz he’s around, but the guys who pay me are paying me to kick In-plus in the ass and that doesn’t exactly work out right in the brain reasonings department. Either the guys who pay me are dumbf&cks or In-plus is a dmbf&ck, there’s no more than two ways aboot it. So I –
(He stops dead in his tracks, eyes fixed on the ground.)
Zesty: Meditate Bra-on! Help me scoop up these butts!
(He kneels down to pick through a pile of discarded cigarette butts, ash and other debris)
MB: Mr.Mordant I am not going to pick through the trash with you.
(Zesty shoots up to face/tower above the Media Baron)
Zesty: Yes, actually, you are going to pick through that sh*t. You owe me two smokes so you damn well better pick out all the good butts down there while I watch. I was gonna help, but now you can f&ck off with the helping.
(A small ziplock bag, already containing a good number of cigarette butts, is shoved into the Baron’s chest as Zesty forcibly guides the smaller man to the pavement. As the Media Baron sifts through the butt-goldmine Zesty lights up a fresh smoke.)
Zesty: Those big glasses make you look retarded, by the way. Now what in the f&ck was I saying?
MB: Something about kicking Impulse in the ass and money, I believe.
Zesty: Yeah, that’s good. Get that one right there, by your foot. Okay, now just be on the lookout for more good butts, I’m leaving you in command of the buttbag there, bud.
Zesty: So, okay, yeah. In-plus is a dumbf*ck, that much is cleared. Thanks for the gallon of rum, I guess and maybe I’m almost sorry for having to kick you in the ass until it’s all in unrepair. Maybe I’m not, who knows? But I know I will enjoy the rum and I also know you will not enjoy how your ass feels when I’m through with it. You can make my words!
(Zesty and the Baron arrive at Le Betes', a small French cafe known for its outdoor seating and nylon clad servers. Waiting for them is the alien chicken-looking one, Corey Trevor. His arms flail a hello.)
Corey Trevor: Zesty! I been watching across the street all day, just like you said and--
Zesty: Shut about that, Corey Trevor. Smokes, let's go.
(CT hands over two smokes as the camera pans across the street: A valet stand for a trendy restaurant is preparing for its dinner rush.)
Zesty: Perfect table, Corey. You might be a little less stupid in the thinking stations than I was of thought that you were. Good job, buddy. (beat) Camera turd, Mediocre Baton guy why don't you boys sit down and join us for a drink, eh? Have a sit with me and turn that camera off.
Media Baron (sitting down with Zesty and Corey Trevor): And Impulse?
Zesty: Yeah, whatever, on my pulse, f&ck it, I'm buying first round if you want, sure, just turn off the camera and we'll all relax here. Let's smoke a joint, eh?
MB: Do you have any other words for your opponent?
Zesty: Oh. No. He can f&ck right off. (beat) And f&ck off with the camera too, turn it off!
It's a plain white envelope, completely unmarked in any way, save a small stain in the corner from some beer that was spilled on the bar.
Oh yeah, I'm in a bar. Let me spin around and show you the place, since I pretty much live here when I'm home and not home. Panning up, the mirror behind the bar had the bottom twenty percent covered by lots and lots of bottles of alcohol.
There's Valerie. Say hi, Valerie.
"Hey," said Valerie, behind the bar, "Please don't film me." Val's all right. She's a short, curvy woman with chin - length blonde hair and a lot of fans at the bar. Val kept on working, restocking some of the supplies during a period of downtime.
She kept looking at the camera out of the corner of her eye, this one is trouble. Trust me.
Panning to the right, there's three people sitting at the bar that I don't recognize, one in particular is wearing the telltale DUFFS vest, evidently a Brooklyn denizen got lost way, way, way, way uptown. Past them is the door to the back courtyard where you can smoke without leaving your drink behind.
I continued to spin, showing the nearly empty mid-section of the place, two tables were occupied by some young folks, and way in the back, in the corner, the owner of the place, Miss Ivy McGinnis, sat with her legs folded up, intensely studying something on her laptop. There's a small stage setup on the far wall, where local bands get booked to play gigs on the weekends.
Weekdays, especially Wednesdays, are historically pretty slow here. People work, people have school, and going uptown to a bar in the Bronx isn't high on most peoples' lists. That's why Rosie isn't working tonight, she's home, waiting for me to finish up my promo. I'd have cut this at home but Zesty Mordant already did that once, and I don't want to get swallowed by that obvious cinematic gem.
You know, I should probably start this before the batteries in my camera die.
Three... two... one...)
"No limits, Zesty."
"I've been saying that for the past week, and I think you're the perfect opponent to explain what I mean."
I spun the camera around the bar again, a little faster this time.
"This is where I'm most at home, Zesty - this is where I like to be. A hole - in - the - wall dive bar in the Bronx, where the beer is always ice cold and I'm just two stops from home."
"Now, in the past year I've been all over the country, from five star Meccas of tourism to the Motel Six with lizards living in the bathroom, but no matter where I've been, I've adapted and overcome. While nothing is going to beat working for NLW and coming to work from my own home, adapt and overcome has been the mantra of my career from the very beginning."
Can't really blame me, can you? I'm under six feet and two bills. If I didn't have some tricks up my sleeve I'd be in pretty serious trouble.
"Without it, I wouldn't have gotten through the JTP Invitational, or to the very end of the NFW Grand Prix, or lasted over an hour in PRIME's Dual Halo or come back from a tough loss to Lane Stevens in the most recent GTT event only to get another shot at him."
Adapt and Overcome.
"Facing off with the talent inherent in Next Level Wrestling, I knew I'd have to do the same. I adapted and overcame Jay One Dee in my debut... and now, I'm facing off with the Blue Bastard."
"Who is the Blue Bastard, however? Can anyone tell me?"
"Good enough to be in Next Level Wrestling, which is good enough for me. But Zesty, have you adapted? Can you overcome?"
Honestly, I don't know.
"The Blue Bastard is a man who spends his money on rum and high class French cuisine."
"The Blue Bastard picks old cigga-butts off the ground to save cash, then buys his lackeys a round at Le Betes, which is expensive enough to have al fresca seating."
"The Blue Bastard apparently sleeps in his Bundymobile of a car, which is incredible when you consider drugs and alcohol have probably never adversely affected his life."
"Tell me something, Zesty? What's your endgame? What's the point of your career in Next Level Wrestling? Get into a good fight and have an excuse to get sloshed after the show's over? Do you differentiate between a good fight and a bad fight?"
IS there a difference?
"It's a law of nature, Zesty, that fighting for something will always trump fighting for nothing. Now, I brought up money, I brought up rum, I brought up name recognition because that's the kind of language I assumed you understood, but your brain appears to be stuck in second gear without the clutch."
I'm gonna beat Impulse. I'm gonna kick his ass and wipe that silly smirk off his skull.
"If I cared about money I wouldn't be here. If I cared about recognition I wouldn't have spent the first year of my career anonymously under a mask."
The Messenger Is Not Important.
"What I care about is this sport, and the guys gettin' in on the ground floor. What I care about is the present, and the future of this sport, and doing what I can to elevate both aspects."
And I spun around and picked up my envelope.
"The difference between us, Zesty, is that we're going to roll into Vulgar and take back New York, and then... we're off in different directions."
I opened the lip of the envelope and held out a pair of laminates. The identification says "EYE FOR AN EYE 3/27/2010 ALL ACCESS" across the front, in front of the NLW logo.
"My path is going to be taking me straight through to the Open Weight Championship finals, Zesty."
I put the laminates in the envelope and sealed it, then just as suddenly I tore the end off the envelope and shook it out.
"Yours, I believe... isn't going to lead to much of anything."
Envelope, out of view.
"I could be way, way off, Zesty... but I've been around enough of the people in this sport that matter to be able to pick out the people who will matter... and as long as you're sleepwalking down the path you're on, you'll never be able to control it for yourself."
"And unless you can control your path, you'll never be able to carve out a new one."
"This match may be up in the air, Zesty... but the aftermath is all too clear."
(Zesty sits beaming in a black Mercedes, the driver's side door is a little banged up. He kicks the door open and swings his legs out but remains seated. Lights up a smoke.)
Zesty: Flies on the path? Bud, what in the F&ck is going on in that craminarium of yours? You keep going on about coming over and adeptions like you own them and New York City and the cockroaches and Broadway and space and the planets and those black things that suck sh*t up and all that. I don't think you do. Maybe Oprah or somebody does, but you don't. You know what I own? This here fine automobile and not a helluva lot else. So come Friday, I'll have to be sure I own your ass. And then I'll sell it back to you since you say you make everybody so damn much money.
Zesty: Coming over and adeptations and that? Well, I came over from Canada, bud, and I got all sorts of adeptions. I got 'em screaming straight as sh*t outta my ass. I got adeptions at drinking two fifths a rye a night, smokin six paper joints, slapping mouthy little yappagoons like you and taking a real beating. I mean a beating from adults, usually gowdamn cops, but adults no-one-less and not flippity little midget yappagoons like you. And look, I don't sleep in a car anymore! This is my brand new ride here and I'm renting a room in Brooklyn. Beautiful neighborhood, white noise throughout the night.
(He fumbles through the glove compartment, tossing aside numerous empty nip bottles until finally coming across a couple full ones. He chugs one down between sentences.)
Zesty: Now I'll let you know this right now, and that's that I got stray-tragedies. I am very stray-tragerdious and full of maps and good plannings. Thats in and out of the ring. I'm not saying I didn't pay cash for this fine automobile because I did, but I'm also not saying I didn't acquire it through shrouded plannings and good stray-tragedy, cuz I have definitely got those things.
(He uncaps and downs the other nip, gently pounds his palm against the car.)
Zesty: And I got this thing, so it only makes sense to put two and two things together and realize that I'm a lot bigger than you, I'm a lot smarter than you cuz of my mapped out stray-tragedies and planning things, I don't care about cutesie book-learnings and big words, I am smart. (beat) Flies on the path...bud you're dumber than worms in assholes.
"Brooklyn, really? What part? My mother lives in Williamsburg about ten blocks from Duff's, and one of my good friends is in Park Slope by Lucky's. If you're too drunk to get to the gig next week on your own, let me know and swing through and guide you, no hard feelings."
Seriously. I know it'd be a cheap victory to leave you in front of a temple in Midwood, but I don't want a cheap victory. I want something I have to work for.
"I want you to succeed, Zesty. I want you to be the biggest star Next Level Wrestling ever spits out into the sport as a whole. I want to look back on twenty years and be able to say Yeah, I wrestled Zesty Mordant back in the day, back when he was a scrub in Hammerstein."
"I also want the same for Wanderlust, and Bobby Jack, and Eli, and Patton and Mackey and everyone else that's gotten into this company on the ground floor. I don't believe in getting in peoples' way, and I don't believe that only one of us can rise while the rest crumble. The whole succeeds when the parts succeed."
Am I speaking too high above your head again? Too bad.
"The only limit to my well - wishing is when someone else's success can only come at the expense of another. There's no reason why we both can't benefit from this match, no matter who wins or loses. There's no reason why the eventual Open Weight Champion can't put his newly won belt on the line against someone who was out of the tournament in the first round and be in danger of losing it."
"I'm your opponent, Zesty... not your enemy. But you're so intent on turning this match into more than it is that you're losing sight of that. True, there's going to be one winner and, unfortunately, one loser, but there's absolutely no reason for the loser to pack it in and call it a career, which appear to be the stakes you're looking for."
"If you beat me, I'm not going to complain about it, or even give it a second thought. I'll see what I can learn from it and be ready for next time."
"Can you say the same?"
Think about it. Think about what it means to truly have No Limits.
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