Monday, March 25, 2013

Monkey Flip: NOVA 3/25/13

In five years Alex Helton will hit the big time.  He’ll be known as “Hell Town” Alex Dane and be competing for WPW at World Famous 27 against “Mr. Famous,” “The Dragon Gate Kid,” Yoshi Tanahashi.  The events leading up to this event will be classic professional wrestling controversy, nothing that fans haven’t seen before, but will still outrage them, and he will be more popular than ever before.

That’s five years from now.  Alex’s story begins five years ago.  He was living in Denver, the site of World Famous 17, and the main event was scheduled to be a technical classic between Ric Warhorse and Chris Dormir.  He’d been a fan all his life, and knew that he couldn’t miss this match for the world.

It was Alex’s sister, and more specifically her husband, who helped get him there.  He missed the festivities that went on during the weekend, but made up for it by lingering after the night was over on the outside of the arena, where the wrestlers were emerging and climbing back into their cars.  That was the first time he met Joe Cullen.

Cullen was a road agent at that point, well past his career prime and the blessed with the good sense to know it.  In his heyday Joe was known as “The Destroyer,” and at one point took on an additional patriotic gimmick, just crazy enough that it got a young Alex’s attention.  He knew exactly who Joe was when he saw him, and shouted out his name when he saw him.  Joe turned around long enough for Alex to pose in the most ridiculous manner possible.  For whatever reason, Joe smiled and walked over to him, pulling a business card from his wallet and telling Alex that if he ever wanted to make a career of nonsense like that, let him know.

Alex hadn’t taken the fleeting thought seriously, until several weeks later when it occurred to him again, so he dug up the card and called the number, which was local.  Joe answered and claimed he remembered Alex, but when they met in person it was clear that he hadn’t.  Joe’s sons Donald and Gyro ribbed Alex for that, but the veteran quickly settled things by agreeing to see what the prospect might have.

It turned out to be very little.  Alex had played a little football in school, but other than that didn’t seem to have any of the natural instincts necessary for a career in the squared circle.  He was incredibly awkward.  Joe just smiled again and said that at least he didn’t have to break any bad habits, and then got Alex started on the basics.

By the fall, Joe was crazy enough to send Alex into the clutches of the Rocky Mountain Wrestling revival then underway, where the past of the independent scene was being gathered.  Alex didn’t feel he was the best of anything.  Joe’s son Donnie was already showing remarkable promise himself, but was finding it difficult to find anyone to take him seriously as anything but a Cullen, and Alex was no Donnie.

That meant a lot of slogging, working the territories and taking the small bookings, including the fateful day he met Scott Peavy in Boston, working for Liam Smith’s All Night Wrestling Alliance.  Smith was another legend in the industry, who made his name as “Black Out.”  This was around the same time RMW was absorbed back into New World Wrestling, which itself had come from the older promotion, and spots were once again hard to come by.  Alex knew in an instant that Scott was a kindred spirit.

They put on some of the best matches ANWA ever saw, working their butts off every weekend all around the region.  Alex was surprised to find some of the best fans in Maine.  It was a Portland comedian, Johnny “No Relation” Carson, moonlighting as the wrestler Colt Carson, who rescued them from permanent obscurity, however.

In the summer of 2012 he told them about his idea for NOVA, which he had already made all the necessary deals to launch, and Alex beat Scott to making a handshake agreement to wrestle for, no matter for how long and what kind of prominence.  It was more than an opportunity.  Alex knew, just like he’d seen in Scott, that something big was about to happen, and he wanted to be ahead of the curve.  He very much wanted to see what was on the other side.

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