The following story is just one tale from many in a series known as “Puroresu World,” where the world of professional wrestling is very much real and it is the means to all ends. Enjoy!
He’s so much like his father. Such a fine solider…
Rissy mused to herself, unknowingly staring out the window as her son continued to hit the ropes back and forth in the rickety old ring set up in the back yard. It was a drill his father had taught him when he was just a boy. Simple, but intense were the words that immediately rushed through her mind, smiling at the memory of her husband embedding that phrase into his son’s head. Scott never overthought his workouts, after all. While his peers were distracted with numbers and fancy new workouts with fancy new equipment and techniques, her husband kept his regiment traditional and relative.
Ricky very much took after his father. He had been hitting the ropes as hard as he could, as fast as he could for 3 minute intervals, resting long enough only to lower his heart rate and then pick right back up again. It is far more exhausting than it sounds, especially with the red hot Texas son beating down on the ring. That’s how Ricky wanted it; how his father liked it.
Rissy turned her attention from the window for a moment, focusing her attention on the unfolded letter addressed to her son:
Dear Mr. Goodhitch,
You have been summoned by your country to serve in the 2nd World War Games. Please report to Arena Mundial I in Capitol City, TX on June 22, 2025. Failure to comply with this summon will result in a warrant for you arrest, substantial fines, being tried for treason, and significant jail time/death. Serve your country well.
President Dill M. Haus
War wasn’t what it used to be. While armies and arms had gone obsolete, violence and death continued to play a grand role. La Lucha de Guerra isn’t like the rest of the contests. It isn’t a competitive match for a high school title or a public seat, or some school yard setup to settle a fight between a bully and a wimp at some shitty grammar school. People die for this. People have died for this. You win, you lose, you die, and sometimes, you die regardless if you make it out of the ring or not. Just like in any war, there is no honor in submitting to the enemy. There is no living to fight another day. One either wins for their country or they perish for it. Outside the squared circle, was just as dangerous with the scum of the earth lurking to give their country the upper hand by “weeding out” some of the competition. War is war no matter what the weapons are. Rissy knows this. Ricky knows this. His father knew this and died for it.
The television snaps Rissy out of her fixation on the letter as the news station spouts developments on the War Games.
The Capitol continues the preparation for war as draft letters have reached all chosen athletes for the games.
President Haus had this to say:
“Samoa thinks they will stroll into my country – OUR COUNTRY – and just snatch it from us. They have a better chance of growing coconuts in the desert. I invite those thick-skulled Neanderthals to come and take a piece of me and the rest of the nation. We are waiting.”
Rissy had to laugh to herself. Only in this era of the world could a small island chain like Samoa be a legitimate threat to the USA. Hell, only in this world could the president come on national television and drop blatantly racist propaganda and be unanimously cheered for it.
She lowered the volume on the television as she heard the back door open. Ricky had finished his drills and the last thing she wants for her only, exhausted son is to further feel the weight of the world as delivered by some privileged news anchor. Not that his shoulders couldn’t bare the weight, of course. What he lacked in stature he made up for in pure mass. The boy looked like he was chiseled straight from a boulder. With a back intricately cut from rock and a barreled chest that could easily be the 8th continent of the world, Ricky was quite the imposing figure. He had made his rounds through the athletic circuit and been successful, but this was different. He knew he needed something different. He knows it’s time.
“Lunch? I’ll order us anything you want,” Rissy said as she half-heartedly smiled while shuffling through the menu drawer.
“Oh, sure,” Ricky responded, passing his hand through the back of his head nervously, “Mom…”
“How about Thai? Won’t interfere much with your diet and…” She had interrupted Ricky, before he put his hand on her shoulder, while gently taking his mother’s hand from the drawer into his own.
For as monstrous as Ricky looked, he had a gentle touch that always seem to break down any wall she attempted to put up.
“I’m sorry, mom. I know this is difficult for you. It’s just as hard for me. I’m terrified. As much as I wish that dad was around to take me by the hand and tell me what I should do, I know it can’t happen. It’s time for me, mom. Please, just show me where it is,” Ricky pleaded.
A sigh escaped his defeated mother as she silently nodded and led him up the stairs into her bedroom. Over her bed sat a blown up photograph of the family during happier times. Scott, Ricky, and herself the first day they moved into the very home they were standing in. Rissy often admired the picture for the memories, but her proud son did it for a much different reason. The house was a representation of his father’s struggles and hard work. All the bruising and all the scars were the foundation of this house. Every time his father was dropped on his back or his head was another brick added to the frame. Ricky strive only to be even a fraction of the man he was. He would soon find a new appreciation for the piece.
With a hesitant hand, she slid the frame off the wall, revealing a cut in the wall roughly the size of a shoebox. Ricky’s eyes widened as she pulled the cut-out piece of wall concealing a small, wooden chest hidden behind a storm of dust and webs.
With a deep breath, Rissy pulled the box out and turned the front of it towards her son. A cocktail of fear, anxiety, and excitement overcame her as her fingers reached to open the latch. She paused for a moment and looked at her son.
“I know I’d have to face this sooner or later,” she said stalling a moment.
She knew it was important that Ricky hear what she have to say.
“Maybe you feel like you’re not ready. Maybe this weight is just so heavy and terrifying that it’s crushing you…crushing your heart. But, your father wasn’t ready either. None of us were. No matter what, you are his son. You are a hero just like him. Go serve like one.”
She opened the latch, slowly opening the chest to reveal a dusty blob of leather. Ricky picked the material up, letting the particles of dust snow back down into the chest. The clean piece of leather revealed a few well-crafted openings for a nose and a mouth. Suddenly, this was a very familiar object.
The sides of the mask revealed an insignia that he and the rest of the country knew all too well. A shield draped with the American flag, peppered with blood, flanked both sides of the legendary hood while the forehead bore a large stylized “D.” The inside of the mask emitted a smell of dried sweat and old leather, but Ricky only caught the welcomed scent of his father.
As he slipped the mask on, his formerly anxious mother couldn’t help but crack a smile. As Ricky tightened every lace on the back of the mask, he could feel his father’s spirit pulsing down from the mask, surging through his very being. The mask was about more than intimidation and patriotism, it was about legacy. Every strength of his father he knew would become his, and every flaw was a lesson to learn from. The spirit and the legacy of The Defender was renewed.
“Mom, I’m ready for the match beyond.”
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Guilherme Marconi.