I grew up watching old school wrestling.
Grand Prix Wrestling – I watched it every Saturday.
And whenever I got the chance I went with my grandparents and saw it live at the Sudbury Arena.
That was where I got to shake hands with Andre the Giant – only back then we knew him as Jean Ferre. It wasn’t until he joined up with the WWF – which is NOW known as the WWE – that his name was changed to Andre the Giant.
I’m not sure why I always enjoyed watching wrestling. I think partly because of the grandiose storytelling of a good match. Good against Evil – the bad guy getting the poop kicked out of him by the good guy. Straight up cliche – but back then I loved every minute of it.
Partly I think it had to do with my Dad. My grandmother always told a story about how my Dad was what they call a “jobber” in a couple of Toronto matches. Basically, he was the dude from parts unknown who was paid to look just good enough to make the other guy look great. Apparently he only did it for a couple of matches and it was only because he needed the money. He never talked about it much – but he was always the sort of guy who would get into some sort of athletic endeavor – so the thought of Big Leigh “Red” Vernon in the squared circle does not surprise me in the least little bit.
Of course, you also know how much I love reading horror novels – so when I stumbled across this nifty little novella that combined wrestling AND horror I had to pick it up. Actually, I contacted the author and asked him for a review copy. He sent me an e-pub so that I could read it on my Kobo and it only took me about three hours to figure out how to stuff it into my Kobo.
I’m not saying that I am a technical wizard, you understand.
Well, it was a fun fast read. Nothing fancy, just the sort of a yarn that a proper “jobber” would come up with.
First off, I really enjoyed the whole back story of demon logic. There is a lot of room for other stories using this whole back story that needn’t involve wrestling.
The protagonist, Tojo, was the earth-born child of two demons on an evil sort of a missionary fund into the mortal world. Their job was to spread ill-feeling and evil just as hard as they could manage.
The problem starts when Tojo decides that he should use his demon powers to become a wrestler. Not just any old wrestler, you understand. Tojo decides to be a “heel”, that is, a bad guy wrestler.
“I can spread bad feelings this way,” he tells his Dad. “Making people feel hateful and angry watching me beat up the good guy wrestlers – also known as faces.”
The only problem is people LIKE Tojo. He just never is all that successful at being a heel.
You see, the problem is Tojo is NOT really as bad of a guy as he ought to be – even given his demonic heritage. Tojo LIKES being a good guy but he does not want to get caught at it – for fear of being banished back to hell and having his memory wiped and being recreated into something truly dark and evil.
It’s a pretty cool concept – although there were a few gaps that I felt needed filling.
Believe it or not I really wanted to know why his demon parents decided to name him Tojo. He wasn’t oriental, as far as I could tell from reading the novella. He wasn’t even Spanish. I thought it was a pretty cool name for a great big old wrestler with echoes of Mr. Fuji – but I would have REALLY appreciated knowing why his parents chose such an odd name.
Also – after his Mom and Dad die and return to hell they sort of fall out of the story – and I really felt that the author missed a great angle there. I would have loved to see him encounter his Mom or his Dad again in some other form.
Still, it was a fun read and I hope that the author revisits this arena again. Fans of wrestling and cheesy horror with a heaping helping of corny jokes will really enjoy this fast and fun read.
yours in storytelling,