The Joe Naszhti Show was the hottest new series on television. Its host, who was nicknamed ‘Joe Nasty’ by viewers and the media alike, was one of a new breed of talk show emcees who routinely baited their interviewees for shock appeal on their broadcasts. He had a variety of guests on the show from all walks of life, and garnered an increasing number of viewers across the country when it was announced that he was going to have stars from the IWA on his Sunday segment.
Dandy and Mike O’Beirne entreated Lucien to appear on the show, insisting that
it would be a major shot in the arm for the Company and wrestling in general.
Lucien protested mildly before finally agreeing to go, requesting only that
Anna be given a front row seat. He would have gladly gotten one for Manfred,
who confirmed Lucien’s reservations by insisting he would not want to appear on
such a show.
am afraid that I would end up striking that man for his insolence,” Manfred was
adamant, having seen the show a couple of times to his consternation. “Be
careful not to lose your temper, Lucien, lest you kill the dog on national
waited in the wings, having inspected himself after having his coiffure sprayed
and stage makeup applied. He looked like a movie star in a $500 blue cerulean
suit with matching tie and jewelry, starched pearl shirt and patent leather
Beatle boots. The theme music played as the show went on the air, the audience
chanting “NASTY! NASTY!” before the host took center stage. He gave them his
standard greeting before a preview of the evening’s lineup, then good-naturedly
ribbed a few members of the audience before taking his seat behind the table
upon the dais at center stage.
is real or is it fake?” Naszhti asked rhetorically, resplendent in a $1,000
designer suit, his hair and goatee meticulously clipped. “That is the question
in the minds of sportscasters, the media and audiences alike as they continue
to watch one of the most fascinating spectacles in entertainment history. There
are those who swear that this is as authentic as any other sport, while others
say these are routines that are staged and even rehearsed. Yet many will ask,
why ask why? Well, here tonight is one of what many are calling a new breed of
professional wrestler. Here is a man who is not only a four-time amateur
champion in his home town of Gottingen University, but a college professor at
NYU who is known by his peers as a distinguished and well-spoken scholar and a
gentleman. Ladies and gentlemen: Dr. Lucien Triskellion.”
The audience broke into an ovation
sprinkled by hoots and catcalls as Lucien waved to the crowd, winking at Anna
before taking a seat at stage left of Naszhti’s desk.
“Now, that’s no way to
treat a University professor,” Naszhti chided the audience before shaking
Lucien’s hands. “You’re billed at the Great One by the IWA, am I right? How did
that come about?”
think it was started by some of my students trying to improve their grades,”
Lucien cocked an eyebrow as the audience laughed with him.
know, you’re a pretty big guy, but you don’t look like the typical professional
wrestler,” Naszhti mused. “You don’t look like a college teacher either. I
think you’d make a great leading man in a German movie, or any other one, for
“I’m sure my girlfriend is pleased
by that.” More laughter.
would have been my next question. Is she here in the audience?”
she is,” Lucien pointed to Anna as she shielded her eyes in embarrassment,
blushing violently. “She’s much lovelier with her hand away from her face.”
she playfully stuck her tongue out at him, causing the audience to laugh as
they gave her a round of applause.
let’s start off with the sixty-four dollar question. Is it real or is it fake?”
“You seem to have
plenty of room here,” Lucien looked around. “You seem to be in pretty good
shape. We can roll around a bit and you can see for yourself. I’ll even let you
have a free hold.”
that point it was Naszhti who took the jeers and catcalls, mixed with whistles
and cheers for Lucien.
think I’ll pass for now,” Naszhti laughed. “Let me put on about fifty pounds or
so, get back in the gym, and I’ll get back to you on that.”
sure it’ll be a great draw,” Lucien kidded as the audience chortled.
“You’re currently appearing as part
of a clique, if you will, headed by a particularly notorious fellow called Jim
Dandy. Is that his real name?”
his hairdresser knows for sure,” Lucien quipped.
other night, on national TV, one of your associates, Gojira Tsunami, attacked
Athos Leonidas from behind with a metal chair. Now, Wrestling Galaxy magazine lists Tsunami at 6’6”, 400 pounds. They
have Leonidas at 6’2”, 265. How do you justify that?”
“I’m not sure you can
justify such a thing,” he speculated. “You do know that Tsunami has recently
returned to the territory. He’s trying to reestablish himself, and I think he
was probably trying to send a message of sorts. Perhaps the message was
to the sixty-four dollar question,” Naszhti continued as the laughter subsided.
“Tsunami hits a man who weighs almost half as much as he does with a metal
chair from behind. The man is helped back to the dressing room but, no police,
no ambulances, no coroner. Is there something wrong with this picture?”
“Well,” Lucien weighed his words
carefully, “let’s look at it from this perspective. You watch hockey players
swing sticks at each other on a nightly basis. People
get hurt, but you don’t see them hospitalized or killed. We’re not gladiators,
we’re not trying to finish each other off. Put it this way, if Tsunami had hit
Athos with everything he had, there would be a lot of Leonidas fans who might
just stop watching our show. We certainly wouldn’t make lots of money doing
that sort of thing.”
let’s talk dollars and cents. Vito Mastrangelo has been the champion for over
four years now. He’s been selling out Madison Square Garden every month
throughout that time. Obviously this man is a virtual gold mine for your
company. If he loses the title and, as you touched upon, Mastrangelo fans stop
showing up, your company stands to lose a ton of money. Do you think your
company would take that risk in allowing Vito to be defeated for the belt?”
“Consider the fact that Vito
bench-presses over five hundred pounds,” Lucien replied. “Plus he has four
years’ experience of defending himself five nights a week against some of the
toughest men on the planet, some of who have resorted to every dirty trick in
the book to beat him. With that kind of strength and skill, I don’t know if
it’s a question of someone allowing
anyone to beat him.”
once the chant of Vi-to! Vi-to! Vi-to!
began booming throughout the studio.
word is out that you also bench press five hundred, and, of course, you have
vast experience in what lots of people might call ‘real’ wrestling. Plus there
are lots of rumors that Jim Dandy is putting you in position for a title shot
against the champ. Do you think you’ve got what it takes to carry the flag for
tell you, Joe, at this stage of the game I’d be delighted just to get voted
Rookie of the Year.”
Lucien, I hate to heat your seat more than it already is,” Naszhti allowed,
“but we have another special guest from your company who may be able to shed
some light on the competition on the title scene, as well as give us some
additional insight into that weird and wonderful world of pro wrestling. Ladies
and gentlemen…the IWA heavyweight champion of the world, Vito Mastrangelo!”
Lucien surprised himself by feeling
slightly jealous as the fans went wild when Mastrangelo made his way up from
the dressing room onto the stage. The champion was meticulously dressed in a
tailored midnight blue suit, white shirt and dark tie. He was nearly mobbed by
fans, and security guards had to rush from the rear area to clear his path.
“Vi-to! Vi-to! Vi-to “, they yelled as he waved before shaking hands
with Naszhti, sitting alongside him opposite Lucien. He felt somewhat slighted
that Vito did not shake hands with him, but immediately realized that he was
probably observing kayfabe.
Mastrangelo, it’s an honor to have you here with us,” Naszhti began. “I’m sure
you got to watch our discussion with Lucien Triskellion on the monitors
backstage. There was an altercation between you fellows on your show out of
Washington DC a couple of weeks ago. It looked a lot like a hype for your
coming title bout at the Garden with Professor Moto. What a lot of the fans
want to know is why you and Jim Dandy aren’t cutting to the chase and giving
Lucien the title shot instead.”
neither Jim Dandy nor I have any control over the rankings, it’s the same
situation you have in boxing,” Vito replied in a soft, respectful voice. “I
have all the respect in the world for Lucien Triskellion, but I’m not about to
look past Professor Moto. He’s a very tough and powerful man, and he is going
to pose a serious threat to my championship. I’m just hoping that my fans will
be able to come out and give me some support, and I can guarantee them I’m
going to give it everything I can to beat this man and come out on top.”
then there was a commotion in the rear, and the fans began standing as a
massive figure dressed in black made its way to the stage. Bill Ohms came down
the aisle dressed in a Stetson, Western shirt, jeans and cowboy boots, stopping
at the foot of the stage in front of Mastrangelo.
“Now, I just
heard you say that Professor Moto was a serious threat to your title, and I
also heard you say that you had all the respect in the world for Lucien ‘the
Great’ Triskellion,” Ohms’ deep voice could be heard even without a microphone.
“I know that this show is being broadcasted across the nation, and Mr. Naszhti
is giving the American audience a chance to see what pro wrestling is about. My
question to you is: why are you not telling everyone who the real threat to your title is, and why
you aren’t willing to give Bill Ohms a shot at the world heavyweight
now, like I just said, I don’t have anything to do with the rankings, and I
don’t have any control over the promotion,” Mastrangelo tried to explain.
“That don’t have anything to do with it,”
Ohms stepped up onto the platform, staring down at Vito. “The truth of the
matter is, you’re a yellow, egg-sucking dog!”
that, he grabbed Mastrangelo by the hair, yanking him forward and snatching
hold of his suit jacket. He pulled it over Vito’s head, ripping it up the middle
before kicking and stomping at the champion as he fell out of his chair. Both
Naszhti and Lucien rose from their seats, backing away as the security guards
came storming down the aisle and tackling both men. It took six men to pull
Ohms back to the dressing room, while two men helped the champion to his feet.
Lucien walked over to the edge of the stage and held his hands out, shrugging
at Anna as she watched the scene in astonishment.
“Uh, I’m going to have to check with
our sponsors and see if I’ve got any vacation time available after this,”
Naszhti managed as the audience was stunned by the altercation. Lucien returned
to his seat as Mastrangelo was helped back to the dressing room.
let me get this straight,” Lucien sat back. “Were you wondering why I didn’t
want to be the champion?”
think that’s kind of a rhetorical question at this point,” Naszhti chuckled
weakly. “Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve seen it with your own eyes, you be the
judge. Is it real or is it fake? I’ll tell you one thing that I know for a
fact: we’ve had a true gentleman and a great athlete on our show tonight. Let’s
have a round of applause for Lucien Triskellion.”
The audience expended
their remaining energies into a boisterous ovation for Lucien as he waved back
in leaving the stage. By tomorrow morning, replays of the show would be
broadcast around the country as viewing audiences marveled at what had
Bill Ohms, within a matter of minutes, had become the biggest heel in the business,
and Mike O’Beirne had become completely powerless to stop it.