Thursday, August 10, 2017

Monkey Flip: NOVA 2015

It's 2015, and Alex is still two years away from destiny, two years away from feeling like he's actually accomplished something, two years away from feeling like he's got any real worth...

For January's annual Idolwild card, the one NOVA always uses to introduce its latest acquisitions, Alex learns that he's working against Mistico, a wrestler who's adopted a famous moniker but who will never, like Sin Cara in another reality, amount to much as a commodity in the United States.  Still, Colt Carson loves Mistico, and so he's booked to have a strong initial push, and that means a win over Alex, which means Alex has to work overtime to get him over, whatever he has to do, which because Mistico has virtually no experience outside of Mexico, basically everything.  This one match puts so much psychological strain on Alex, he questions all over again whether he really wants to continue pushing this dream forward.  What fans typically refer to as botches, happen practically once a minute.  He's a mess once he reaches backstage, a sparsely catered ghost corridor, and throws up.

He begs Carson to let him work with Scott again.  This will always be Alex's go-to solution.  He's scheduled to work against Damian Goch, in yet another grueling kendo championship program, but Carson is tiring of Alex and gives in without much fuss, so the spot and the title go to Idan Judd, an upstart former Olympian who will never live up to his potential, who Alex will wrestle in April for the title, Idan's last match with the promotion, an unmitigated disaster of a match that further erodes Alex's self-esteem.  To the paying fans he seems better than fine, but privately he's falling apart.  For March's card, he's booked in a tornado title match where all he needs to do is put over the increasingly popular Cairo Brown, who has definitely been paying his dues, which will show when WPW comes calling for him, just like Alex.

In May, Alex shepherds the green Lloyd Cole, who will never amount to anything, in a basic and unsatisfying kendo match, before transitioning back to Brown in June, in a match Alex finally feels ready to cut loose.  It's the end of his third and final run with the title, but Alex is more than ready to move on.  Even if his preferred use of kendo sticks is graceful, contrary to the familiar brutality of the weapon, fans more often than not prefer Carson into delivering the expected.  Of course there was a reason Alex never went with that style, because it's brutal and destroys the body.  He can name plenty of colleagues who perform in constant pain because of these expectations, and he desperately wants to avoid becoming one of them.  Brown obliges, and they spend half the match performing Alex's signature kendo stick monkey flip.  When the bell finally rings, and he's tapped out to Brown's River Song, Alex does one last flip, of the kendo stick into the crowd, a symbolic ending to this phase of his career.

In July, he teams with Scott in another tornado title match, and they become one of the rare duos to compete on successive cards together in NOVA's variation of tag team matches, winning both times.  As one of four matches at Three Rules in August, it's a testament to Alex's emerging job security with the company.  Even Carson can no longer deny his significance to the company.  Alex and Scott work a third tornado title match at Unleashed IV, the annual card celebrating NOVA's inception, this time on opposing teams.

Because he continues to win these matches, Alex is blindsided when he's left off December's card.  NOVA holds one card a month where the whole roster might be expected to appear; their one hour weekly shows, because in the grand scheme of things they're a small company that makes sporadic house show dates, only have so much space to spotlight the roster.  He spends a lot of time in an unfulfilling real estate career, hoping one day to put it behind him.  The last thing he wants is to be showing houses during the last show of the year. 

He also has to admit to a certain amount of professional jealousy: NOVA has signed one of the hottest prospects wrestling will see for the next half-dozen years, the Russian Koba, who makes his debut at Unleashed IV.  Koba is pushed all the way to the top almost instantly, a fighting machine the lacks of which have rarely been seen, who so thoroughly dominates everyone he meets that he fairly decimates them.  Unlike a lot of monsters who are monsters simply because they're limited workers, Koba understands the business so well it's virtually impossible to keep up with him.  Alex realizes for the first time that perhaps his limited growth is a product of his limited skills, that if he wants to be seen as the best he has to be the best.  He watches Koba and he wonders...In a few years time he'll have figured it all out.

Elsewhere in 2015, "Hustle" Paul Tugend emerges as the new face of WPW, the very man Alex is destined to succeed.  In NWW, Iron Henry becomes the third generation in his family to ascend that company's ladder of success.  He'll later compete in NOVA at the same level and help revitalize the company, what some will call an evolution.  In RoG, BM Pro completes his transformation by winning the Super 8 a second time (this time against some true future standouts, including "Stunner" Steve Williams and Tommy Hart), and then winning the company's heavyweight title before abruptly jumping ship to WPW, where he will quickly dominate its ACW brand, foreshadowing his emergence as a superstar who will one day compete against Alex at World Famous under very similar circumstances...

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