The Great Green Hope

      Miles had an ultimate, go-to gimmick; he believed it was the one that would make his career and save wrestling—at least, that was the impression you got from him. The gimmick was, wait for it… The Psycho Dragon.  The Psycho Dragon was a dragon that had magical powers.  Yes, magical powers.  If it sounds intimidating, it wasn’t. 

      First, it wasn’t intimidating because under the psycho dragon costume was a pudgy 23 year-old who would get blown up waddling around the ring and couldn’t do a headlock.   Second, the costume was beyond ridiculous, and the tongue-in-cheek era of wrestling making fun of itself as a means to success was still a few years away.  A crappy costume wasn’t seen as a funny take on professional wrestling.  It was just seen as a crappy costume worn to hide the fact that nobody could believe in Miles as a wrestler.  Wrestling requires substance in either your gimmick or the reality behind it; Miles had neither, especially not in the costume.

      The costume consisted of, if I remember correctly, a green bathrobe for its foundation.  The green bathrobe wound snugly around the portly frame of Miles, but the loose sleeves allowed room for his hands to maneuver, presumably so they could circle and cast magical spells.  The hands were definitely important, and Miles had spent meticulous hours crafting his two green gloves, which were actually oven mitts with yellow bits of pleather glued to them.          

      The yellow pleather triangles were the dragon’s nails.  The pants I really don’t remember; I’m picturing green sweatpants, but this was a long time ago.  I do remember the feet though; they were eggshell foam, like the stuff you find when you buy a giant carton of eggs, only made of soft foam spray painted green and with big yellow triangles of pleather for toenails.  These had straps on the back of them that wrapped around his leg, so he could wear shoes or boots.  All this ensemble was capped by the mask of a dragon, something Godzilla-like, only pathetic looking and totally impossible to see out of.  The costume was good for a 10 year-old in a homemade costume contest; it was not good for a 23 year-old to wear while wrestling.

      When we were privileged enough to see Miles parade around in it, we couldn’t contain our laughter. 

      Sitting in the common area, next to Jer, watching some wrestling, Miles felt inspired to show us his gimmick.  As I tried my darndest to keep a straight face, Jer’s cheeks lit up in pure delight. His eyes were wide as saucers and his infectious grin stretched out his face with a look of shock, awe, and pure bliss while he repeatedly chopped me -- The Pyscho Dragon had arrived! 

      Miles waddled out, did a turn in front of the TV, and whoever else was there must have also laughed their ass off because Miles only did the one turn and then went back into his room, slamming the door behind him.  He muttered under his breath and swore at us through the door, noting that we didn’t get the biz and we were “stupid marks”. 

      “It’s pro wrestling, not Halloween” Jer astutely noted.  That was true for the rest of us, but not for Miles.  His other gimmick was to be “The Sun King” a character all other wrestlers would bow down to as their actual king, although no reason for this bowing was given. His persona was to be an asshole, or as Don astutely pointed out one day, “Just like you, eh, Nerdly?”  Don also liked poking fun at Miles. 

      One day we were all sitting around in the gym, just kinda talking about training and getting ready to workout, when Don entered and asked each of us, “What’s your gimmick?” and we answered.  He kind of grunted after each, and then repeated whatever we had just said.  “Hmm, The Mad Bomber. Huh.”  And on around the circle.  When he got to Miles (why Miles was anywhere near the ring I forget) Don paused for an extra-long time, chewing over Miles’s chosen name.

      “The Psych-oo drag-uunn.  Huh. Got a gimmick?”

      “Yes sir.”  He actually said sir.  Hope.

      “Well, go get it.  Let’s see.” 

      In a flash Miles was out and back with the whole ensemble. He passed it to Don who took a long look at it and, poker-faced, stared at us, then looked back down at the costume and donned the robe.  He tried putting on the hood (wrestler terminology for mask), but it didn’t fit around his head, so he squeezed it halfway on while he stuffed his fat hands into the mitts.

      Don was a worker at one point, and he understood dramatic pauses, so he employed one as he overlooked the gloves.  Surely he was assessing the great craftsmanship involved in their creation. The fine stitching, the dimpled pattern of the fabric, the acutely detailed grain of the yellow pleather fingernails; truly, it was worthy.    

      Miles leaned forward from the edge of the ring, close to falling onto his face.  His eyes were wide with excitement and a faint smile was spread across his face.  His mouth smiled with anticipation as he awaited the verdict from the grand poo-bah.         

      His tail wagging, surely, surely this would be the moment when Miles’s genius was acknowledged and appreciated.  All of the stupid marks would have to eat their words and accept that Miles, the senior student because he was the oldest and had been at the school months earlier before getting kicked out, was truly the veteran we all had to respect.  All the tails in the room wagged out of excitement for what was next, and even the workers knew something great was coming down from the throne of Don. 

      “Hmmm-mm” he chewed.  A pause.  A shift in his eyes.  Anyone who paid attention knew what was coming.  Miles held his breath and perked up. Our eyes grew wide with excitement; Curtis bore the gleeful expression that he only gets when something truly awesome is about to happen, and Bryan saw the look in Curtis’ eyes.  Infected.  Jer bore the same look; he knew what going to come, and I of course had the same look as well, because I had seen it in all three of their eyes’, plus the gleam in Miles’s eye and the slight shift in Don’s eyes.  We were all about to burst.

      “Wellllll, loookeeee here, I’m the Psycho Draaag-Unnnn,” spewed Don, “I’ve got mystical powersssss!” 

There was a giant collective spit. 

      “Bwahh-haaaa haaa!” Laughed Curtis. 

      “Ha, stupid Nerdly!” Laughed Bryan.

      “Dahhahahahhahhaaaa, ehhhhh, yeahhhh!” Spat Jer. 

      “Yesirr, I’ve got Pysss-chooooo MAGICAL POW-URRRSSS!!!”  Laughed Don as he waddled in a circle, clamping the oven mitts open and shut like a fat green lobster.

      “Standdd backkkk mommmm, I’m bringing home the BELT!!!!” 

      The laughter boomed in the room, each gaf a slap in the face of Miles, or Nerdly, who had to smile and laugh through his swollen, red cheeks.  He laughed so hard that long after, as he was hiding away the Psycho Dragon never to be seen again, his eyes were still wet.