Rope Break by Thomas Michaels
Genre: Wrestling Fiction
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Title: Rope Break
Author: Thomas Michaels
Genre: Wrestling Fiction
About: "Rope Break" is the debut novel from Thomas Michaels, and is a story about a young man who dreamed of one day growing into a professional wrestler, who overcomes tragedy en route to triumph. A sarcastic, witty, and humorous journey that has many highs, and occasionally hits like a low blow.
I know what you’re thinking. Why the hell am I reading a book about a wrestler? I know that I am wondering what the hell I was thinking writing this book. Wrestling and writing go as well together as peanut butter and broccoli. Wrestling fans can be as passionate about their chosen form of entertainment as religious zealots or Star Wars fans who still argue that Han shot first. But if you’re reading this book, then you’re likely into what we do for a living, and what we do for a living is put our bodies on the line every night for your enjoyment and the possibility that we will get a strong reaction from you, the fan, while doing so. More importantly, we will make you suspend belief for just a little bit as you take a magical journey with us as we tell our incredible stories with our bodies.
My name is Edward Samuel Stedarro. I would be lying if I said that I have wrestling in my veins, but growing up, it was a was one of the few ways that my family spent time together. My old man was an accountant by trade, moonlighted as a craftsman who was handy around the house building or fixing things. When he wasn’t screwing around on some other crazy home renovation, he was out screwing around with the ladies, unbeknownst to my mom at least. She was a homemaker, who did the best she could to shower her kids with love and adoration while compensating for a shitty marriage that was not meant to last happily ever after.
I didn’t have that much in common with my dad while growing up. While he would take to any type of home improvement project, whether building decks, walkways, or furniture, I much preferred to accompany my mom in the kitchen and help her cook dinner or bake treats. Oprah was usually on in the kitchen most afternoons when we prepared dinner, followed by Eyewitness News at 5. On the other hand, those weekend mornings when dad was home, he’d have on This Old House with Bob Vila orsome other carpentry show. I found those to be as exciting as watching the grass grow.
But the one thing that we did have in common from an early age was that he would lose himself watching whatever wrestling show was on TV. Before we had cable, he would make sure to watch whatever World Wrestling Federation (WWF) show was airing. On the nights when my mom would be out volunteering at my Catholic school for bingo, my dad would let me stay up a little later and sit on the couch with him to see what monstrous villain would be looking to dethrone Hulk Hogan, or what sarcastic quips Bobby “The Brain” Heenan would be spouting off, while being told by Gorilla Monsoon to “stop it!”
I remember watching WrestleMania every year, dreaming big dreams that every kid dreamed of one day being famous and entertaining millions of fans around the world. Never did I know then how much work went into the craft, how much sacrifice, yet also how much luck and good fortune. I also had not yet heard the phrase “take bumps”, and while I believed everything was real, and that “Macho Man” Randy Savage really tried to kill Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat with that ring bell on Saturday Night’s Main Event, I also thought that the ring was a giant mattress. Kind of like the one I wrestled my younger brother Joey on in my parents’ room, much to mom’s chagrin. One time, when I was nine, we were wrestling in there and I had run across the room, jumped up onto the bed, and then fell straight down on Joey. The entire bed frame collapsed, destroyed from our wrestling about. That one ended with my ass getting smacked with mom’s wooden spoon, and no TV for two weeks.
I remember my dad taking me to a local wrestling show at Holy Cross high school. Ivan Putski was the featured wrestler that night, and at 7 years old, I was mesmerized. I have no recollection who the bad guy was that night, but I do have a vague image of him embedded in my memory of stalking the ringside area, then walking through the crowd with a metal folding chair, terrified that he may find where we were sitting and hit my dad. Or worse, me.
Around the time I started high school, I realized that going out for the wrestling team did not involve a 20 foot by 20 foot ring surrounded by three ropes on each side. Imagine my surprise. I figured it would be a good way for me to keep busy in the winter, get in good shape, and also get the girls. Well, I definitely kept busy, and also got in really good shape. As for the girls, well, I was not as smooth as I would have hoped. I’ve always viewed myself as average looking, even back then. Girls would come on to me, but I had zero game back then. Something that would ironically surface many years later and give my career a second life.
I was a decent high school wrestler, winning more matches than I lost. Made varsity my junior year, and even won the district championship at 189 pounds senior year. But I knew that I was not cut out to do this in college, and despite how different amateur wrestling was from what was on TV, my love and passion for “professional wrestling” had only grown during high school. I knew that this was my calling, what I had always dreamed would be my destiny. And I wasn’t going to let a good college education get in the way of that.
Though it did initially. My parents ended up getting divorced before I would get around to graduating college, and it was my luck that the terms of their divorce had my dad paying for my college education. My holy roller mother would make sure that I went to school, and my old man pressured me as well. So I managed to get into a local college, where after a few months and falling head over heels for the wrong girl, I just stopped going one day.
For about a month, I had gotten away with this. I would leave early in the morning, dressed nicely, grab my backpack, say goodbye to my mother, drive out, and then have breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s, only to return home and watch Jerry Springer for a few hours. Things were going great, and I had kept up the illusion of my college education, until one day I dozed off on the couch. Much to my surprise, my mom was standing over me when the sound of her clearing her throat awakened me. That was not a fun conversation.
By the time we had finished talking, I was convinced that my real first name was Disappointment, since every other sentence ended with “you’ve turned out to be a real disappointment, Edward.” I knew now that college was not for me, and that if I was ever going to pursue my dream of professional wrestling, I would have to overcome my fear of discussing this with my parents and take that leap of faith that it would work out. And that would only start by convincing my mom. Which is a whole other story to share later.
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