Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Route 69 S201: Joliet IL

"Strip down, get in gear and we can talk while we wrestle."

I'm taken aback, "Sir?" 

"Don't call me 'sir'. Makes me feel old, kid. I'm only 35."

"Sorry, Mr. Quinn."


"Right, Mason." I try to get myself together, "I think there's some confusion."

"What's the matter, kid?"

I explain, "Uh, I'm not here to tryout as a wrestler. I'm Ben. I'm here to talk about your federation's marketing. We've been speaking on the phone ..."

"Yeah, I know. So, what's your point?"

I explain, "Well, I have a presentation here that showcases the results I've gotten for CLAW. I know I can do the same for Savage Wrestling Illinois. When you see how I've increased social media presence, conversation, attendance, merchandise sales and opened new markets and distribution channels, I know you'll ..."

Mason stops me, "Blah, blah, blah. Listen kid, you wanna impress me? Tell your story wrestling. I got a full-time job, plus running this place. I mentor ten kids after school and they're showing up in an hour. We got a deal - they do their homework then they get to train. Boxing and wrestling. Then I got a bunch of my pro guys showing up for practice after that. I'll be lucky to be in bed by midnight the way this day's going then I'm back on the line at my day job at 7am."

I hold up my hands, "Understood. You're crazy busy. That's one of the reasons I think I can help you. You know, that mentoring thing is great. We can actually use that kind of philanthropy for some local press. 'One man fighting to keep kids off the street' is a hot story. Go beyond Joliet. We can get the Chicago media ..."

He shakes his head, "Look, I don't got time to waste listening to a buncha crap. I gotta do my own workout. Derek Kaine's name got you in the door, but you said you've wrestled. I saw something from ROW ..."

"Yes, sir. I mean, Mason. But today ..."

"Enough, kid. I don't get much chance to wrestle different guys. It'll be fun. Now, I told you on the phone, you can have thirty minutes. And you can. But it'll be in our ring or you can hop in that fancy old car of yours and go. Your call, kid."

With that, Mason Quinn strips off his t-shirt, rolls under the bottom rope and starts stretching.

Look, I've got no problem wrestling Mason. He's a hunky, Midwestern-looking dude. By that I mean that he's a white guy, cute face, brown hair and a tight $10 haircut. He's got a solid muscle body that looks like it was built on hard work, rather than sculpted at the gym. I can see some abs, but he's not ripped. And he's a great size for me, around 6'1" tall, compared with my 6' and a solid 210-lbs to my 200-lbs. But, he's also a prospective client.

I realize that I don't have much choice. I didn't come this far to give up. And I can appreciate him wanting me to experience the ring. I head out to my red 1958 vintage Corvette convertible, lovingly restored by my dead father and my only real worldly possession. I pop the trunk and march back in carrying my gear, which I always have with me for wrestling emergencies. I can feel Mason staring me down the whole way across the gym. When I look over, he looks away, but I see the smirk on his face.

As I'm in the back stripping, I call my best friend Jeff for advice. He made the ride up here with me, but I had him stay in Chicago while I came out here for this meeting. Jeff laughs at me, but encourages me to go for it. Okay, it's settled. Jeff wishes me luck, we hang up and I focus on the next decision. What to wear.

As I stand there naked, looking into my bag, I realize that I may be the first man to ever wonder which set of pro wrestling gear is most professional. Trunks or tights? Maybe a singlet? Trunks. He's in trunks and I get a definite classic vibe from this federation. Now, which pair of trunks says, "Give me your marketing business?"

The clock is ticking, so I decide on basic black. Then I change my mind. It's classic, but maybe boring. Not modern enough. Plus Mason is in black with a skull on the front. I opt for red with a flame pattern, instead. Power color. Cool design. Done. When I've finished lacing up my tall white pro boots, I realize too much time has passed. Shit, I'll need to talk fast.

I jog out of the locker room and see a warmed up Mason staring down at me. He nods and sits on the middle rope while pushing up on the top rope. I climb in and briefly stretch. Mason says, "Clock starts now. 30 minutes."

We lock up and I let him hip toss me over. I lie there as he drops an elbow on my chest. OOF! He locks on a tight headlock and grinds it hard. After a few seconds, Mason releases the hold.

Mason gets up and looks at me, "What are you doing, kid?"

"Honestly, Mason, I've got no idea. Am I supposed to be a wrestling dummy? Are there things you're trying to work on? I've never really wrestled a client before."

"No, no, no. Not a client. We're wrestling. Wrestling. Just a couple of guys in the ring. You win, great. I win, great. And while we're wrestling, you can make your presentation. You can wrestle and talk at the same time, right?"

Mason extends a hand and helps me up. I say, "Sure. But most people would say it's not smart to try and beat your prospective business partner ..."

"Kid, here it's not smart to not try and beat me. Tell you what, you beat me, you get the business. I win, you don't. Enough incentive for you?"

I stare at him. He's serious, so I say the only thing I can. "You're on!"

Ben vs. Mason

We circle the ring, checking each other out carefully. He's got a huge, confident smile across his face as he stares me down.

As we circle, I tell him, "One thing, Mason, if we're just guys wrestling, call me Ben, not kid. I'm 25. More than old enough to kick your butt and grow your federation."

Mason smiles and nods, "You got it, Ben. I wondered when you'd say something about it."

We lock up fast, getting right into it. I learn that Mason's even stronger than I expected as we start pressing against each other. I hold my own, but he's really putting his beef into it. I don't hold back, understanding what makes him tick.

I start to tell Mason about myself and my credentials. He powers me into a standing side headlock. UNH! I don't stop talking, getting through the content of my first couple of slides. While I'm doing that, I grab around his right leg, my forearm wedged up against his balls. He tries to flip me over, but I block. Using my grip, I hoist him up and drop back, slamming him onto his back and shoulders. WHAM! OOF! We roll to the side, each getting to a crouch.

Mason's got a big smile on his face as we rise, "Nice move, Ben. That's what I want to see."

"You got it. Any questions on my background?"

"Only one," Mason says. Before I can say anything, he charges, ducking beside me and coming up from behind. He locks my arms in a full nelson, but steps over my hip and bends me sideways in an abdominal stretch. ARGH! Mason taunts, "My question is, ever suffered in this hold before?"

Mason cranks hard on the combo hold and I feel it. I sputter out, "No. Uh. This is a new one." Then I add, "I could use this as a signature hold in my marketing. Uh. Make you. Uh. Stand out. Uh. People should be talking about it."

I hear Mason laughing, "Smooth, Ben. You can really think on your feet."

"If you like that. Uh. You'll love this. RRAR!" I bend my knees then push back, toppling us back. With my 200-lbs of muscle crashing down on him, he loses the hold. I spin on top of him and pin his wrists to the mat. I slide my legs around his and open them wide. Mason groans in the grapevine, feeling the stretch inside his groin. I start in with the changing social media landscape, explaining how to drive awareness with content and PR.

Mason squirms under me. He's fighting, but I'm managing to keep him pinned and spread. I keep talking, hoping he's listening. It's also a great distraction, keeping me from getting too hard as he writhes under me, massaging my cock against his abs. Fuck, it does feel good, though. I'm trying to keep it professional, but friction is friction and Mason is a handsome and in-shape stud. Damn, now I'm thinking more about my cock than my presentation.

With everything I'm thinking about, Mason manages to break free. He pushes me off and rolls on top of me. Before I can react, he locks on a side body scissors, holding my left arm under his body. He squeezes hard, tightening his legs. I bridge up, trying to break free. I realize that I just thrust my tenting trunks up, making my uncomfortable situation very obvious. If Mason sees, he doesn't say anything. And he doesn't seem to care, because he keeps going.

Mason fires fists into my left pec. THUD! POW! THUD! I manage to yank my left arm free then push and roll free. I move across the ring, but Mason follows. He reaches for my arm, but I spring up with a shoulder block to his abs. OOF! He tumbles back as I go for his leg. Mason quickly kicks me in the chest, sending me back. We sit across the ring staring at each other, catching our breath.

When we rise, I turn away, trying to adjust myself and my trunks. I try to act like I'm stretching, but I doubt I'm fooling Mason. Fuck, I can't hide this thing at all. That's it, I'm screwed.

Mason comes around and sees me still fidgeting. "Ben, if you're worried about your dick, don't be. It happens. You're not the first guy to get a woody in here. You must know that."

I smile and nod, glad to hear Mason say it, "Yeah, it happens, but you're a prospective client. It's not exactly professional. It's -"

"Normal. Now stop playing with your junk. That'll only make it worse. Let's get back to it."

We circle again, focusing on our next moves. I don't even bother with more of my presentation, deciding to wait until I'm in control again. We move to lock up, but I dive and execute a one-legged takedown that puts Mason on his back. I slide on top of him, locking up his right arm in a hard chicken wing. My forearm is against his cheek, forcing his face to the side. URGH!

Mason shifts, but in manage to maintain my grip. He's grunting as I force his arm back, but not close to submitting. I start in with my ideas of video distribution as he bridges under me. I kick up and come down with a knee into his gut. OOF! I use the moment to shift and lock his head from behind, pulling it up into my armpit. I sit up, pulling him with me by his neck. ARGH! The Midwestern musclestud moans as I pull down on his neck, his arm still trapped up and back.

I'm wearing him down, but he's not submitting, so I shift, wrapping my legs around his midsection and rolling into a side body scissors. Like Mason did to me, I pound on his pec, softening up the muscle. It feels solid, my fists bouncing off, which gives me the license to go all out. I hold nothing back, getting cries from the muscleman as I take it to him.

Mason strains to break free, rolling away from me. I open my legs suddenly, letting him roll away. I know I caught him off guard because he doesn't capitalize.  Before he can do anything, I'm on his back, locking on a full nelson. I roll us over and wrap my legs, tying him up with another body scissors. I crank on the nelson, trying to get him to submit.

I force his chin into his chest, using all my strength to earn his business. He groans louder, but no submission. I tell him about local promotion, my ideas for tapping into the west suburban Chicago market and how to get more paying butts in seats. In response, he just grunts, trying to fight my hold. We're both sweaty and getting tired, but he won't admit defeat. Damn, he's tough.

I release the full nelson and scissors. I roll up and force him to his feet. Mason is moving slowly, obviously feeling the effects of my punishment. I bend down and put my shoulders against his back. I lift and he goes up, hanging across my shoulders in a backbreaker. ARGH! The Midwestern muscleman is moaning loudly while I focus on keeping him up there and getting the win.

I tell him, "Just give and it can all be yours."

Mason replies, "No way!"

"You're in a no-lose situation. Submit and your federation wins."

Mason grunts, "Nice try, but I ain't giving to this!" The big man brings his arm up and smacks my head. It's not hard, but he starts kicking at the same time and it's enough to get me to drop him. He lands on his front, quickly getting to hands and knees. I jump on his back, wrapping him up. I roll onto my back, dragging him with me. I roll him onto his shoulders and wrap up his arms and legs into a hard spladle.

I crank down, hearing the loudest cries yet. I've got his legs split, his body spread wide as his neck and groin a filled with pain. I notice Mason's bulge is swollen a little, prominently stretching his trunks as I have him folded and on display.

"C'mon, give! I'm trying to help you!"

"No way, Ben!"

Mason pushes back, managing to roll us over. I lose the hold and he scrambles away from me. We get to our feet. I can tell he's getting winded as he rubs his groin, but he also looks really determined. "Not bad, guy. You're pretty good."

"Good enough to get your business?"

"Gotta get me to submit for that."

Mason and I move in to lock up again. This time, I duck, getting behind Mason. I lock on a full nelson, fast and hard. I talk about expanding into Chicago as the Midwestern muscleman tries to ram us into the corner. As we charge back, I spin us. We crash in, but Mason hits front first, taking all the impact. OOF!

"Fuck!" Mason grunts and goes a little weak in my grip. I try to take advantage, stepping back then moving into the corner again. I bend forward to drive Mason's pecs into the turnbuckle. OOF! Again, Mason goes a little weaker. I pull us back to the middle of the ring and squeeze on the full nelson.

"ARGH!" Mason screams then slams his foot on top of my boot. At the same time, the handsome hunk powers his arms down, sharply. I'm off-balance and surprised, a bad combination. Mason breaks my hold and staggers forward, reaching for his chest. I move in behind him, but he lashes out with a donkey kick that slams into my abs. OOF! I stagger back, hunched over, clutching my gut.

Mason turns and slams his forearm across the side of my head. I turn with the blow, giving him the chance to grab me around the torso and haul me back into him. He locks on tight reverse bearhug and I feel the air leaving me. ARGH! He's strong and I'm feeling the force of it. Fuck he's good, I could submit to this. I need to focus my energy, trying to break free.

I twist slightly then quickly turn and leap, flipping us over. We land on our side. I roll forward, grabbing a leg. I lift, spin and sit, locking on a single leg crab. I talk about my social media expertise, even as I try to get him to submit. Shit, he's tough, though. The musclestud doesn't give easily and he's withstanding the pain in his back.

Mason presses up on his hands and kicks back. I fly forward onto my stomach, losing my grip on his leg. Before I can move, Mason mounts my back. His 210-lbs of muscle holds me down as he grabs under my chin. I feel the stretch as he punishes me. When I reach back to swat at him, he grabs my arms. Oh shit. I'm dragged up into a camel clutch. UNGH!

Mason cranks back hard, "C'mon guy! How much do you want this? Give it up!"

"No! I won't give!"

My back is in agony, but I hold on as I'm bent backwards against my spine. ARGH! I moan, but try to focus on other things. Mason realizes I'm not giving, because I suddenly feel myself moving. The Midwestern muscleman pushes me forward with authority. WHAM! I'm momentarily stunned as he slides off my back.

Mason plants his boots in my side. He grabs my wrist and ankle and rolls me onto my side, his boots moving into my back. The musclestud pulls on my arm and leg, stretching me out in a killer surfboard. Oh fuck. My back is crying for relief. I'm sweating and grunting as I'm manhandled. I still won't give, but I'm feeling weak and unfocused.

Satisfied that he's done the damage, Mason releases me again, only keeping a hold of my ankle. I wish I could mount a counter-offensive, but I'm drained and he's fast. I suspect Mason has a series of holds in mind, because he seamlessly rolls us over. He grabs my other ankle and forces me into a Boston crab. Damn, when he sits down and his 210-lbs of muscle locks me in place, I'm almost crying.

"You're tough, Ben, but don't be a hero!"

"No ... no ... no ... oh ... I give. Okay. I give!"

Mason releases me. He kneels beside me, kneading my back. He tells me, "That was fun, Ben. You're a tough guy." He massages my back, helping me recover faster. His tough, calloused hands feel good on my aching muscles. "Hit the showers, let the hot water work that out." With a pat on my ass, I'm sent to the back to lick my wounds.

Trying Again

As I'm showering, pissed at myself for losing, Mason walks in. He stands beside me, turning on the water. He doesn't say anything, just starts soaping up with that smirk of his. I'm not sure what to say. I made a deal, but I really want this opportunity. Mason's the first guy to even grant me a meeting. He'd be my first new client after CLAW and I know I could help him.

I turn to him, "Mason, look, I know we had a deal. I lost. But I really believe I can help you." I realize it's weird to beg for business while we're both naked and sudsy, but fuck it. I just interviewed in a wrestling match, so convention doesn't apply. I outline my plans and capabilities again.

When I'm done, Mason smiles, "Okay, okay, I'll give you a chance."

I ask, "Really? That's great. Thank you, you won't regret this."

Mason and I negotiate costs as we finish cleaning up and changing. He beats me down (figuratively this time), but we work out a great deal for both of us. He knows that I need him more than he thinks he needs me, so he's not paying much, but with a second federation under my belt, it'll boost my credibility a lot. I need proof of results more than I need cash at this point.

I call Jeff, letting him know the good news. He congratulates me. Next, I call Dylan, the guy I'm seeing right now. Early stages, anyway. I start to tell him the whole deal.

Dylan says, "So, you want my advice on what to do? Well, first, you should -"

I interrupt, "Actually, I've already done it. I wrestled him and lost, but I still got the account."

"Wow, congrats! Look at you, all independent."

"Yeah, I figured I had no choice but to go for it then Jeff said the same thing."

Dylan sounds confused when he asks, "Is Jeff there?"

"I left him in Chicago. I called him."

"You called Jeff for advice before you did it?"

"Yeah, why?"

Dylan doesn't say anything then replies, "Well, I'm just surprised. I'm still getting used to this best friend thing you have going on with Jeff. I couldn't come with you, because your car's a two-seater and Jeff was tagging along. Now this. I'm just surprised you didn't call me."

"Well, I only had time for one call. Mason was really putting the time pressure on."

Dylan replies, "Okay. Well, I just figured since you needed advice on the wrestling business and that's what I do that I might be that one call. I might have a little more insight into things. Did you tell Jeff your news already?"

I hesitate, feeling like I'm walking into something, but I'm honest. "Yes, of course I called him. He's happy for me."

Silence then Dylan says, "Well, I'm happy for you, too. This is a big deal for you, Ben. I'm really proud of you. I miss you. I'm sorry if I sounded bitchy. I just I wish I could've come with and helped you. I really want you to succeed."

I relax. "Thanks, Dylan. I'm so pumped right now. I gotta go, finalize things with Mason, but I'll see you soon. Jeff and I are going to take a couple of days, check out Chicago, but we'll be at the KC show."

We exchange goodbyes and hangup. When I'm off the phone, I ask Mason if it's okay if I start tonight. Meet and greet with the wrestlers during practice. See how he runs the place. That kind of thing.

"Sure. Since you're hanging around, Ivy League, right?"

Hm, Mason was paying attention. I worried my education might sound pretentious, but obviously it mattered to him. Cool. I proudly reply, "Yes, that's right. Both undergrad and post-grad. I did my undergrad at -"

"Whatever, Ben. It'll be good enough."

I wonder what he means then kids start to arrive. Mason immediately puts me to work helping them with their homework. Ah, I see. Nice that my six years and my father's $250,000 of tuition can be put to good use. I shouldn't say that. It's actually fun, tutoring these kids. After they leave, Mason and I grab fast food for dinner, wolfing it down before the real wrestlers show up.

As the guys come in, I introduce myself and explain my new role. I immediately get some great ideas on who I can market and the talks help me start to understand their style and image. I pull my weight, too, helping to stretch, tape and work with some of the guys. I'm pleased that they're all very open with me. They get what I'm doing and know what it can mean. As well, my one match in ROW against the Ratchets impresses these local boys as does my knowing Derek Kaine and his progeny.

I stay behind to clean up and shoot the shit with Mason. It's near midnight when we finally leave the gym. I'm exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. I crash back at the hotel, but I can't sleep, my mind spinning with ideas. In the other bed, Jeff's snoring, so I decide to do pull out my MacBook and do some planning.

I know that I still have a long way to go, but it's an awesome first step.

The End

No comments:

Post a Comment