“Ladies and gentlemen, here he is, TJ Harley, THE JEWISH WARRIOR!” crackled a tiny voice over the speakers.
We all chuckled at the introduction while peeking through a window. TJ loved the loosely organized clusterfuck that is pro-wrestling. TJ Harley, the white, peaceful, cheery looking fellow who had never read any part of the bible (old or new testament) had suddenly become “The Jewish Warrior”. It was at a summer camp for Jewish teens; the promoters, two Persian twins, had promised to highlight a Jewish wrestler as inspiration for the crowd. We had to have a Jew on the show. When Ruffy Silverstein bailed last minute, someone had to save us all. It was TJ. TJ The Jewish Warrior. He was the hero.
While TJ soaked up the cheers, high-fiving kids and flexing his 15 inch biceps, an angry Tyson Dux paced inside the ring, growling. It was ridiculous, but the crowd bought it. That was good. In fact, the crowd was the only thing about the whole show that was good. The rest of it was typical small-time wrestling idiocy.
We were dressing in a log cabin. There was almost no atmosphere at the event. There was no entranceway, no smoke, no lights, and long, awkward
introductions. When we heard our name announced, we’d pop open the cabin door and stagger back temporarily blinded by the sun. After about 50 delicate paces down worn-out steps covered in pine cones and gravel, we’d finally get into the ring. From there we all enjoyed the evening summer view of a swing set and a steaming basketball court littered with teens and tweens. With crowds usually smaller than a hundred people, the excited rabble of three hundred campers made this show our Wrestlemania. Or at least our Monday Night Raw.
I had already done my first match; highlights included a low-speed chase through the crowd and calling my opponent a “sloppy 400 pound pussy.” I also grabbed the microphone and got the kids to chant “Puss-E, Puss-E” which didn’t sit well with the promoters. I’d apologized, but doubted my future with Twin Towers Wrestling as I creaked across the cabin floor. I’d gotten off easier than TJ Harley though. I hadn’t had to change religions.
“Bomber, what’d the twins say?” asked JC Owens, my opponent from earlier.
“Meh, they’re mad at me for yelling ‘Pussy’ into the mic.”
“I thought it was pretty dumb, bomb,” said the 400 pound JC.
“But how is that more offensive than a promotion called ‘Twin Towers Wrestling’ when 9-11 just happened last year?” I asked.
“They’re the promoters, they got it all figured out” said JC.
“Well, there it is” I said, giving up and slumping against the wall.
“It’s a twins’ show,” shot Jer, “don’t worry about it. Let’s figure our match out.”
We started discussing the main event; I was going to take the heat (beating to get sympathy) in the six-man tag team match. It was easy to organize. We were all planning hope spots (moments of renewed vigor by the good guy) and offensive combos. Wrestling is so easy when working with talented guys; we didn’t really need to talk about anything. Distracted, I glanced out the window and saw Tyson slam “The Jewish Warrior” TJ Harley to the mat. He loudly clapped his hands around TJ’s chin, pretending to choke him.
Deathly still, TJ sat entombed in a rear chin-lock. In a few seconds he'd be stomping his foot and shaking his fists in a blatant rip-off of Hulk Hogan. We’d all done this exact thing dozens of times. Same old shit. Meh. I turned to look at Jer sitting on a stool, the rest of the wrestlers hovering around him.
Jer was describing how he envisioned the hot tag. We listened as he painted the high-spots (exciting parts) in wrestling dreams dancing over our heads. He was great at planning a match. Suddenly, he stopped, staring blankly ahead. Stuck? He locked eyes onto me.
“Bomboid, do you hear that?” he asked.
“Yeah, I heard you, bump n feed, blind tag to me then I’ll splash off the top. Why--”
“No, not that” said Jer.
“You mean what we’re doing for the cut-off?” asked JC Owens.
“Shhhhhhh, not that,” said Jer, pointing to the window, “that. What is that?”
We looked at each other, cocking our ears. What was the crowd yelling? I knew the words, but didn’t understand them. I peeked out through a dusty window.
TJ Harley, from his seated position, was fighting back, shaking his fists, while stomping his foot faster and faster. The crowd clapped along. Electric screams belted out of the audience as TJ shook with righteous fury, feeding off the excited young campers in attendance. The crowd swelled louder and louder with each stomp of his foot. I’ll never forget their screams; it was a full-bodied crowd of three hundred Jewish teens chanting faster and faster, “JEW-BOY! JEW-BOY! JEW-BOY! JEW-BOY! JEW-BOY!”
It had to be a first. TJ Harley, straight haired, devout lover of bacon, their hero, their idol, was coming back from the dead! Tyson, clasping TJ’s neck loosely, shook his head in disbelief and tucked his chin into his chest to hide his laughter.
“JEW-BOY JEW-BOY, JEWBOY!” the crowd cried, united with TJ’s stomping foot. Enough was enough! This Jewish warrior was not taking this sitting down!
TJ Harley began hulking up, shaking his head side to side, then he rose from near death and began bashing Tyson with fury. First, a clothesline, “Yeah!” then an elbow-smash, “Ohhh!” followed by a springboard elbow off the ropes “YEAHHHH!” Woozily, his opponent stood up and fed into The Jewish Warrior for one last blow.
TJ Harley windmilled his arms before a last, gigantic hammer-smash that crumbled Tyson Dux into a shaking heap of humanity. To the audience, Tyson writhed, shaking on the mat in pain. To us, he was clearly shaking with laugher. TJ Harley kept it together, dishing out an ass-whooping while laughing and clapping along to the swelling chants. It was magical. It was pro-wrestling at its simplest. Its finest. And also its most fucked up. And all throughout his glorious comeback cheers of “JEW-BOY JEW-BOY, JEW-BOY!” echoed throughout the campground and across the lake.
“What the fuck is going?” asked Jer.
Crowded around the window, we all saw it but none of us had anything else to say; we just laughed. We were witnessing another first in pro wrestling. A terrible, awesome, definitive first. I don’t know if wrestling has ever gotten better.
The spectacle wasn’t what I dreamed life as a wrestler would be like. None of wrestling was. It was much, much shittier. But thank God because that’s why I love professional wrestling.
Image courtesy of prowrestlingdigest.com