RBTR – The Ultimate Question

Mitchell Gadd


Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of Reading Between The Ropes. At the end of another long day, I glance over at my pillow with great excitement at what awaits me. Oh, how I long to rest my aching bones and joints. Mustnâ<80><99>t get too exited, I tell myself, or the adrenaline will kick in, and my slumber will turn to hyperactive tendencies. Yet, like a present under the Christmas tree on December 24th, Iâ<80><99>m forced to wait for the soft, warm and comforting present that awaits my tired body and mind. How I digress at the prospect of cleaning ones teeth. As the desire to get the laborious task over with produces a further rush of adrenaline, I find myself no longer tired in the mind. This is not good. This is not what I wanted. Itâ<80><99>s done it to me again. Itâ<80><99>s woken me up from my zombie-like state. Itâ<80><99>s stirred something inside of me that I didnâ<80><99>t want stirred. No longer will my head hitting the pillow be swiftly followed by the null of a peaceful sleep. I can now look forward to darting eyes, alert senses and an over-excitable state of mind.

Think, Mitchâ<80>¦ think.

Count sheep? No, thatâ<80><99>ll never work. Concentrate on nothing? Too difficult. Sing a lullaby? Too childish. Watch TV? Iâ<80><99>ll end up watching all night!

I know! Letâ<80><99>s think of a bizarre pseudo-alter-universe where things arenâ<80><99>t quite what they seem. (Editorâ<80><99>s Note: Yes, I know that for 99.9% of you this is the last thing youâ<80><99>d ever consider, but come on people, work with me here). On the surface, everything looks the same, but what if there was a subtle change in this universe. A change that, if detected, becomes extremely overt to those in the know. A change so significant to those already encompassed in its diagetic, that when unleashed upon its denizens, the very notion of this phenomenon ever being remotely considered as subtle becomes akin to asking a Muslim for a Christmas card. A concept so simple, yet completely and utterly earth shattering to those impacted upon. And what is this crazy thought which will warp my mind so much that it will frazzle my brain, thus rendering me incapable of doing and wishing anything other than to let my mind rest? Well, itâ<80><99>s the greatest hypothetical question on earth. No! Not how the universe began. I said hypothetical. The other one. Yepâ<80>¦ that one. The one that asks â<80>~What ifâ<80>¦ wrestling were real?â<80><99>

Think of the possibilities. Think of the change. Think of theâ<80>¦ think of theâ<80>¦ eyes getting heavyâ<80>¦ mind getting wearingâ<80>¦ Iâ<80>¦ Iâ<80>¦

Wow, that did the trick. Nothing like a good nightâ<80><99>s sleep to refresh and recharge the batteries.

As I awaken from my slumber, I hear a commotion coming from another room. I leave my bedroom to investigate this muffling noise; the sound of cheers and screams. As I follow the increasing bedlam, the sounds become crisper and clearer. I hear two voices talking over-excitedly. I instantly place the tones as being those of sports commentators. As I enter the living room I see another version of myself watching wrestling on the television set. The show draws to a close, and I see my doppelganger turn the television off. He turns to me and begins speaking (Editorâ<80><99>s Note: We shall call this alternate version of myself as Alter Mitchell, whom will thereafter be referred to simply as AM, while yours truly will be MLG).

Alter Mitchell â<80>” â<80><9c>How about last nightâ<80><99>s Title match, huh? What a classic it turned out to be. Probably one of the most enthralling matches Iâ<80><99>ve seen in my time. At the five minute mark both men seemed to be flagging, but they sucked it up and continued to fight on. A match for the ages, perhaps?â<80>

Iâ<80><99>m shocked at his blasé attitude to the fact that I am exactly the same as he is. Without mention of it, he delves straight in to talk of wrestling. Startled, and taken aback by his apathy towards this spooky coincidence that a person with the exact same features as I has somehow entered my home and watched my television set, then dared to speak as if I were his best friend, I say the only thing that comes to mindâ<80>¦

Mitchell â<80>” â<80><9c>Come again?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Oh, do you not watch wrestling?â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Ummmâ<80>¦ yeahâ<80>¦ sure.â<80>

Damn, I answered his question. Why? Why arenâ<80><99>t I verbally berating him for breaking in to my home? Perhaps my leniency stems from the fact that this man is… wellâ<80>¦ me.

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>You seem confused.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>I am confused.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Youâ<80><99>re probably wondering why Iâ<80><99>m here.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>I am wondering why youâ<80><99>re here.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>And why Iâ<80><99>m asking you about wrestling.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Thatâ<80><99>s 3 outta 3, pal.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Well, I have those answers for you. You see, Iâ<80><99>ve been sent here, to your home, from an alternate universe to tell you about my planet. A planet which has the answers to a question you dared to ask last night. The question of â<80>~What if wrestling were real?â<80><99>â<80>

This cannot be. Excited and amazed, I answer quickly, with added zest to my voice.

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>You know the answer to that question?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Yes. On my planet wrestling is 100% real. Every move, every match, every result, every rivalry. Itâ<80><99>s all real. Nothing is choreographed. Well, except when Milli-Vinilli had that one match against one another. Now that was a scandal. Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. Real. As real as things can be in your world at times, nothing compares to REAL, real wrestling.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Tell me.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>I can do you one better. Iâ<80><99>ll show you.â<80>

Alternate Mitchell proudly waves a VHS above his head.

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Play it.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>All in due time, my friend. You are not ready just yet.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>When will I be ready?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>You will know.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>How are things different in your world?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>In our world, wrestling matches donâ<80><99>t usually last very long. Within a few seconds an arm bar or a wristlock normally induces a tap out. Hardly a spectacular and aesthetically pleasing move, but it gets the job done more often than not. Whenever somebody tries to apply an easy on the eye submission manoeuvre, like a figure four or a sharpshooter, a swift kick in the butt and a wriggle of the hips and legs normally leads to an escape. Come to think of it, what the hell is a sharpshooter? And the only crabs Iâ<80><99>ve seen from Boston are the ones on the beach that walk sideways.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Are all matches that short?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>No. Itâ<80><99>s either one extreme or the other. Most donâ<80><99>t last long, but there are exceptions, and they are extreme exceptions which lie completely at the other end of the spectrum. Pinfalls are a rarity. The last time I saw a pinfall I was watching on a black and white television. Again, the â<80>~wriggle factorâ<80><99> comes in to play. Even the big behemoths can barely apply enough pressure to keep their opponent down. Unless the opponent is more or less knocked unconscious, thereâ<80><99>s more than a good chance that theyâ<80><99>ll escape any lateral press.

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Can you show me yet? Let me see what this â<80>~wriggle factorâ<80><99> you talk of is all about.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Like I said, youâ<80><99>re not ready yet.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>When will I be ready?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Youâ<80><99>ll know.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>What about showman-like moves. Crowd pleasers, if you will.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Whatâ<80><99>s a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99>?â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>A â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99>?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Yes, a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbow.â<80><99>â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Huh?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>I said I donâ<80><99>t know what a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99> is.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Butâ<80>¦ how did you know what itâ<80><99>s called?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>I donâ<80><99>t. What is it? I donâ<80><99>t know what youâ<80><99>re talking about.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>I didnâ<80><99>t bring it up. I didnâ<80><99>t even mention it.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>You said a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99>. What is it?â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Never mind. Anyway, what kinds of moves are common in your world?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Spectacular moves or superb spots are virtually non-existent. Any time there seems a remote chance of a breath-taking exchange of moves taking place, the wrestler on the receiving end high-tails it out of the ring to settle the pace of the match back down to a boring lull. Thatâ<80><99>s why some matches can last hours on end.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Do people like wrestling much in your world?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Itâ<80><99>s still well-liked, but itâ<80><99>s even more of a joke now to the common public than it is in your world. In your world it gets chastised for not being real by fans of other sports and everyday folk, but in our world things arenâ<80><99>t much better. Wrestling seems to be the poor manâ<80><99>s alternative to the UFC. Of course, in the UFC closed fists are perfectly legal. Kick-boxing styles are also welcomed. This is the world of wrestling, though. A world that reminds me a lot of the mixed martial arts universe, but, essentially, seems to be missing the point. Itâ<80><99>s like a baseball player trying to play cricket. Iâ<80><99>m sure they can hit the ball, but that doesnâ<80><99>t mean they do it very well. Wrestling is trying to be something itâ<80><99>s not. At least thatâ<80><99>s what people who donâ<80><99>t like it say. They condemn it in my world just as much as they condemn it in your world.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>How do you know about my world, yet you donâ<80><99>t know what a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99> or sharpshooter is?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>A peopleâ<80><99>s what?â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Elbow.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Look. Iâ<80><99>m from another planet. Iâ<80><99>ve been sent here so you can resolve some kind of epiphany. Just trust me.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Okay, point taken. So all the glitz and glamour is gone then?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Most of it. Gone are the gorgeous bodies of the women of wrestling. Now they are full of bruises and cuts. Shiners and limps are more common than bras and panties. The most common move in the world of womenâ<80><99>s wrestling is the classic Grecco Roman hair-pull. Itâ<80><99>s just ahead of the finger twist that is so common in the menâ<80><99>s division.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Can I see?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>I told you, you arenâ<80><99>t ready.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>But I feel ready.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Trust me, youâ<80><99>re not.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>But youâ<80>¦ never mind. So storylines and feuds are non-existent?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Oh, there are feuds, but every feud seems more or less the same. Theyâ<80><99>re based on competition, and competition alone. This works on some levels, but when every feud is based on the same premise, it begins to get a little tedious. I wish there were more dramatic and imaginative reasons for why two guys would want to beat the hell out of one another.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>If the matches are so dull, why donâ<80><99>t they use gimmick matches to make things more exciting?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>The last TLC match was a complete and utter disappointment. The bell rang and the quicker man ran straight up the side of the ladder and snatched the belt down instantly. Gimmick matches are usually a failure, and rarely are the surrounding apparatai (Editorâ<80><99>s Note: thatâ<80><99>s plural for apparatus, in case you didnâ<80><99>t know) taken advantage of or used in any way to entertain the fans.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Now this I have to see.â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>You will.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>What about Vince McMahon?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>And that is the key question. There it is right there. Now, my friend, you are ready.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>I am?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>Yes.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Just by asking a question?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>The key question.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>I thought the key question was â<80>~What if wrestling were real?â<80><99>?â<80>

AM â<80>” â<80><9c>What did I say about trusting me. Just shut up and watchâ<80>¦ THIS.â<80>

And with that he picks up takes the video tape and triumphantly puts it in the video player. He presses play, and the black screen becomes bright with colours. So bright, in fact, that itâ<80>¦ itâ<80>¦

WAKES ME UP!

My head shoots off the pillow and I, startled, begin to adjust and intake all my new surroundings. My bedroom is still dark. It canâ<80><99>t be morning yet. A few moments of breathing elapse before I begin to ponder what Iâ<80><99>ve just been told. During this time, that horrible moment occurs where you begin to realise that you were dreaming. Itâ<80><99>s a grey area in between reality and dreams where you move from several different states of the mind, from confusion over what youâ<80><99>ve just heard, an attempt to digest and understand the information, before the suspicion that things may not all be that true, and the realisation that they are not, and that it was all a dream. For those moments, you almost live in that dream world, attempting to adhere to its rules, and to conform to its norms and values. You begin to think like a citizen of the world in which you dreamt. For a second, I become that person who told me of the Grecco Roman hair-pulls, finger twists, the extreme timeframes of matches, the failed gimmick matches, the cuts and the bruises, the lame feuds, and everything else in between. I, for those brief moments, was beginning to accept those drastic changes, and even prepare to live with them.

And then? Well, then I awoke. I awoke to the real world. The real world where wrestling isnâ<80><99>t, in essence (though, in many aspects can be), real. The real world where â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowsâ<80><99>, sharpshooters, Boston crabs, glitz, glamour, TLC matches, and the like, all exist, thrive and prosper. A world where I lay here staring at my real curtains, my real television set, my real posters, andâ<80>¦ JERRY SPRINGER!?!?

WHAT THE ****!?!?!

What is he doing here? Sitting at the end of my room on a chair, legs crossed, hands linked, and wearing a grey suit, with a white shirt and black tie, looking as omniscient as ever. Before I even have a chance to ask, he begins talking.

Jerry â<80>” â<80><9c>I know this is weird.â<80>

Weird?! This is damn near f***ing insane!

Jerry â<80>” â<80><9c>Let me explain.â<80>

He says, getting up from his chair and turning on the side lamp, almost symbolic that he is now, literally, shedding light on the situation, as well as metaphorically doing so.

Jerry â<80>” â<80><9c>Tonight, Mitchell, you asked the Ultimate Question. THE question. The question to end all questions. â<80>~What if wrestling were real?â<80><99> You knew that there were some aspects of wrestling that were real already, but in asking the question, you were demanding to know how things would be if EVERYTHING was real. If every single aspect of wrestling were real, what would it be like? You found out that despite all of those who criticise wrestling for not being a legitimate, â<80>~realâ<80><99> sport, in a world where it is very much real, it still fails to gain the respect of the mainstream sports fan. Itâ<80><99>s still considered an alternative sport. For every mainstream sports fan that converted to wrestling because of its new, â<80>~realâ<80><99> status, there were plenty of fans that turned off because it no longer gave them the entertainment and soap-opera like universe that many loved to get lost in. Whether it be beautiful women, whacky matches, great matches, engaging feuds, or just plain fun and entertainment, something was missing from this â<80>~realâ<80><99> world of wrestling. Things just didnâ<80><99>t work. Todayâ<80><99>s fan demands more. They demand bang for their buck, and by bang I mean the glitz and the glamour that needs to be part of wrestling. It just isnâ<80><99>t the same without it. There is an old saying, â<80>~be careful what you wish for,â<80><99> and itâ<80><99>s stood the test of time because there is plenty of truth for it. We donâ<80><99>t always know what we want, or, more appropriately, we may think we know what we want, but it isnâ<80><99>t always whatâ<80><99>s best for us. So, the next time somebody bemoans the state of wrestling for its â<80>~fakeâ<80><99> and predetermined nature, just think of what â<80>~realâ<80><99> could do to the sport you know and love. Be good to yourselves, and each other.â<80>

MLG â<80>” â<80><9c>Amen, Jerry. Amen. Iâ<80><99>d take a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99> over a Grecco Roman hair-pull any day.â<80>

Jerry â<80>” â<80><9c>Whatâ<80><99>s a â<80>~peopleâ<80><99>s elbowâ<80><99>?â<80>

Until next time,

Mitchell L. Gadd

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