Restless and rowdy fans of GFW Wrestling filled the gymnasium of Red Bank High to capacity, hurling paper cups half-full of RC Cola and fistfuls of stale popcorn at the faded blue ring. The match wasn’t going over with the crowd, forcing the two burly curtain-jerkers to hightail it out of there before the fans decided to throw something worse.

When the heckling grew to a near-deafening volume, a suited, mustachioed man crawled through the bottom rope as quickly as he was able, with a microphone in hand.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen…” rumbled over the gym’s dated sound system.

From behind the curtain, Tony shouted, “See you out there, shit-bird!” while flipping his opponent off.

“… tonight’s main event!”

“Fuck you too, T,” Sam muttered, returning Tony’s bird with both hands.

“…introducing the challenger, weighing in at 285 pounds, hailing from Death Valley, Nevada…”

The wrestler poured water over his greasy black locks, pulling them from his forehead with a meaty hand. From behind a ratty green curtain, the distorted F-chord of Tony’s entrance music roared over the P.A. The drapes blew wide open, revealing:


A unified jeer erupted, louder than Tony thought possible from this backwoods gymnasium. An empty soda can bounced off of his pectorals, but that didn’t slow his strut down the ramp. With his glistening, tree-trunk arms outstretched, he paused to revel in the chorus of boos. Being evil was the job, and Tony Switchblade took it very seriously.

He exuded physical superiority over the flabby heathens in attendance, humiliating them with his commanding presence. Behind thin slits, Tony’s eyes darted back and forth over the crowd, searching for just the right mark. In the third row, there was a sandy-haired kid no older than 12, standing by his worthless old man. The kid’s face was red-hot from shouting fifth-grade-level insults at Tony. Switchblade passed them by at first but paused. Slowly, he turned toward the child with a menacing grin that revealed clenched teeth — teeth that seemed like they might crack under strain, as evidenced by the veins extruding from Tony’s neck. The crowd knew full well what would happen next, but no one volunteered to stop it, not even the boy’s father.

Switchblade closed the space between them, pushing in on the boy until their noses were touching. All the kid’s screaming and bravado died immediately upon contact. But intimidating the boy wasn’t enough for Switchblade, not by a long shot.

He raised his closed fist high above the boy’s head, and when it opened to reveal an actual switchblade knife, the crowd squealed in terror, as did the boy. The blade flicked open, gleaming in the floodlight. Tony held it there a moment, then leveled it with his own throat, dragging the back of the knife across his flesh, slow and mean, without blinking. Then Tony got what he selfishly hoped for: a single tear rolled down the kid’s cheek, signaling to his spineless father to yank him out of their little interchange. In an instant, Tony ran up to the ring, ascending to the top rope with ease, then held his blade high. The back of his ass read Switchblade in airbrushed neon.

Several of the flunkies in the front few rows shouted half-hearted threats of violence and a few insults regarding his mother, to which he responded with a string of artful profanities before his music died down. There was a moment of calm before the forgotten mustachioed man in the far corner raised his mic again.

“And introducing his opponent, the heavyweight champion of the GFW…”

And that was as far as he got before Tony steamrolled over him, snatching the microphone right out of his sweaty hands. Mustache fell square on his giant-sized ass, then scooted backward like a dog defiling the rug.

“That’s about enough out of you, JimJam! Get out of my ring while you still have legs!”

Mr. Mustache did precisely that, fumbling like a frightened child on his way out. Tony’s voice was jagged glass that’d cut your ears, almost as if he’d been chewing on nails while smoking dynamite for at least 20 years.

He smiled and screamed, “Sammy Strongman, you’ve got nowhere to run, you spineless, yellow coward! You can’t hide that belt behind your stupid fans any longer. C’mon down here so I can show these shifty layabouts the color of your blood!” Tony flicked open his switchblade again, staring at the shiny blade as if possessed by it. “I’m going mess you up, brother, but good! Slit you from gut to gizzard!” Tony pointed the blade over the ropes toward the announce table. “Play his damn music already, before I cut you too!”

Play the music they did, and the crowd erupted. Everyone in attendance leaped to their feet, waiting for a glimpse of the champ they’d all came to see. Meanwhile, a nervous referee joined Tony in the ring, requesting the knife. Tony made the ref flinch a couple of times before handing the blade over, laughing at his fear.

As the music swelled, once again, the ratty green curtain parted — this time revealing Tony’s polar opposite. Brightly colored boots and trunks, handsome features, and shiny blonde hair adorned Sammy Strongman, whose physique gave credence to his surname. He looked stout enough to twist Tony’s head right off his goddamn neck. Despite Switchblade’s harsh words, Sammy was all smiles as he descended the ramp slowly, high-fiving every kid along the way. He even ruffled the kid’s hair that Tony had frightened, whispering words of encouragement up close. The kid looked over at his pop as if to confirm what just happened. No one at school would believe him when he recounted the story the next day.

Strongman and Switchblade stared one another down from opposite sides of the ropes. Strongman finally entered the ring, keeping an eye on his wily opponent. The ensuing match told a story that built slowly. Over the next 48 minutes, the two men put on an impressive display of huge spots and brutal reversals, seemingly destroying their bodies one part at a time. Just when Sammy gained the upper hand, Tony would take a cheap shot, seizing control. In the end, Sammy Strongman had Tony right where he wanted him. As soon as the ref was distracted, Switchblade retrieved the brass knuckles he’d hidden in his trunks, hitting Sammy’s left temple with the foreign object. Unaware of the cheat, the referee counted three, leaving the crowd devastated. Tony raised the former champ’s belt high overhead, his foot on Sammy’s chest as he lay unconscious and defeated in the middle of the ring.

The crowd fell silent as it sank in that Sammy had lost to the bad guy. They soon found their anger, erupting in unison for the loudest heat Tony had ever heard. He made his escape, briefly wondering if a wrestler had ever been murdered by a gang of livid fans.

Eventually, Sammy rose from the mat, blood streaming down his face. It was a ghastly sight, but Sammy smiled through the pain. He grabbed the mic, then assured the crowd that at next week’s show, he’d get back what was rightfully his. The audience only had to drive down to Memphis to see the action. With the roar of the crowd surrounding him, Sammy flexed his oily body into pose after pose. And with that, the show was over.

Read more here