wrestling / Columns

Mixed Match Chambers – Jake’s MMC Review – TLC Finals

December 22, 2018 | Posted by Jake Chambers
R-Truth Carmella WWE TLC Mixed Match Challenge

When I was in my first year in high school, I fell in love with a girl who barely knew I existed. She was in a grade above me, and in high school for a dorky guy like me she might as well have been in the royal family. So all I could do was stare. I’d see her around, it was a school for the arts and we were both visual arts majors, and she was always in the art class studio working on pottery. There was one day in particular, where I looked through the tiny square window into the classroom and could she her perfectly, just sitting at a table with her long Mary Jane red hair pouring onto into her pottery as she manipulated the clay with such ambition. And I stared at her, five seconds that felt like an hour, burning that image into my brain like chaos magic. As it turned out, eventually she started dating my friend’s older brother who was in his last year of high school.

One night, I slept over at that friend’s house. I woke up in the middle of the night and through the wall I was sleeping against I could hear that girl and my friend’s brother in the next room having sex. Honestly, it wasn’t like I went over there with the creepy intention of knowing she’d be there and trying to hear or see something. I really didn’t even know she was in the house or that it was even her in that room at the time. But the next morning it was confirmed when I saw her in the kitchen, friendly in her pajamas getting juice. I know this makes no sense, but I felt kind of betrayed, and yet it was also very stimulating and weird in a confusingly cuckolding adolescent hormonal way.

Of course, they broke up when the brother started college. His school was close so he still lived at home, but he just had other options at that point. It never seemed realistic that I’d have a shot with her now that she was single, but there was an irrational hope in there. Knowing that she’d had sex with my friend’s brother, something I’d assumed happened more regularly than just that time I’d slept over, it made me think that she was definitely going to be looking for somebody to take his place, and soon. Hey, I was a teenage boy in the ’90s, it’s not like we had any of the knowledge or sensibility that kids today might have. I just thought that a woman who had sex would probably want it a lot. I tried to hang out with her, hovering around her at school, and she was nice about it, but girls at that age (and probably any age really) can smell the desperation and infatuation on a boy like me, and she kept me at arms length.

And then in her last year of high school she started dating a really good looking freshman guy. He was one of those young kids who already looks like a man, and was lusted after by every girl in the school the moment he stepped on campus. Everyone thought it was weird that she was the one who hooked up with him, she was not the cheerleader type we all imagined he’d go for, and she was older. One day after school, in the locker room after practice (I was on the track team and he was on the basketball team), I heard him bragging quite vividly about all of the sexual things they’d been doing together, or he’d been doing to her might be a more accurate way to say it. I was older then that awkward night at my friend’s house, but overhearing all this made me awkwardly angry… at her! All the guys were laughing too, and even I played along, another level of slimy that embarrassed me to think about at the time, and even more now.

When she graduated, she was just gone. I think I said goodbye to her one day near the end of the year, but there was nothing specific or memorable about it. There were no mobile phones or internet back then, so it was much harder to keep in touch with acquaintances than it is today. And that’s all she really was, we weren’t close friends and had never hung out outside of school, except for maybe being at a few parties together here or there. For the next few years, I completely forgot about her. Faintly, in the cellar of my high school memories was always this frozen, idealized image of her as this beauty who I stared at through the window into her art class one time, but all those other weird details just slipped away.

Then randomly, when I was in my mid-20s, I ran into her at a Sleater-Kinney concert. I was actually by myself (surprisingly I was single… and none of my wrestling friends were into Sleater-Kinney, go figure), and she’s the one who tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a big hug. She looked exactly the same, and told me she was working as a sculptor, just like the way I’d always remembered her. I thought it was a dream, to be honest. She asked me for my phone number, and she actually called me the next day. We caught up and made plans to meet. At this point, I thought for sure something was going to happen.

And I mean this in the most innocent of ways. I was convinced she was interested in me, that I had a shot with her now, and was determined to make it happen. Of course, my idea of “determined” was just showing up. And I did, at a coffee shop, where I met her… and her boyfriend. Somehow she’d left that part out of our previous conversations, and I was angry about it at first, but annoyingly the guy was actually pretty cool. And the worst part was, he kind of looked like me. After I chilled out, we’d had a nice time, but we didn’t hang out again after that… for a while.

Maybe ten years later she added me on Facebook. We exchanged online pleasantries. Then we followed each other on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn even. Rarely did we direct message or anything like that, but we definitely consistently liked each other’s stuff. She didn’t work with pottery anymore, seemed like she was a banker or something now. Eventually her posts devolved into just pictures or her meals at restaurants, until she slowly faded away from social media just like she had from high school. I didn’t even notice, I just remembered all this once I ran into her again about two years ago.

I was at a job interview; lame job, for sure, it wasn’t a bank but it might as well have been. As I was being led through the office towards the interview room when I saw her sitting at one of the cubicles. She looked up and gave me a huge smile. After the interview was over, she met me outside and we talked for a while. She looked good, but of course we’re both much older now, and really evaluating each other for romance was just not even a moment’s contemplation. She said she’d put in a good word for me, and I thanked her, kind of bored, and just wanting to go home. I didn’t want that job; hell, I don’t want any job. But, probably thanks to her, I got it.

So for two years now, we’ve been sitting two cubicles apart, working at our computers, barely acknowledging each other’s existence. At first we chatted a bit, went to a few lunches, hung out after work. I often wanted to share with her some of my old feelings, including a poem I wrote that is still sitting on some floppy disk somewhere that I know I could dig up. But what’s the point? I realized that this is just how life goes. Coincidences and conveniences. I expect one day I’ll notice that she’s not even at that desk anymore, and then maybe end up bumping into her at a resort on vacation in the Bahamas, or in our retirement home cafeteria, or be visiting the cemetery for a funeral and see her tombstone near by. Things change, people change. I loved her, I hated her, and now I don’t care. But she’s part of me, forever.

MMC2 – TLC PPV Match Review

Finals Match: Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox vs. Carmella & R-Truth

A satisfactory match that wraps up the 2-star season of MMC pretty succinctly. Considering the joking jobbers involved, there was no point expecting a 4-star match like the finals of the first season, nor is there any anticipation that the result of this match will lead to anything interesting. After that original season I was certainly hyped for a continuation of the unexpectedly fun and unique collection of characters and matches, so much so that I volunteered to do an entire review column about it all.

Nothing about this match would have held up in that first season. There was a little bit of urgency in the end, as both sides looked to be actually trying to win the match rather than dancing or goofing off for no reason. The ending sequence was about three or four botches in a row, before Carmella anti-climatically snugged in her head scissors submission for a quick tap out. Short, painless, and ultimately the world would have been the same whether this match ever happened or not.

Match Rating: **

Watching the WWE for me now is a rote exercise, and one that makes me pretty miserable at that. Rarely do I get my hopes up any more that something cool or exciting is going to happen or pay off, and if I do I always get burned like with this MMC Season 2. Quitting watching it all would be metaphorical suicide for somebody who has been watching WWF/E all their life. I don’t even know how to stop, and in fact, being miserable about it is just about as much living as being happy about it would be, no? I don’t know, I mean, for the past few years I’ve had a number of existential crises as the wrestling of my youth, adolescence, early adulthood seems forever gone. There’s no turning back time… obviously.

I never imagined that I’d have done so much writing about the WWE and professional wrestling (although some friends of mine who got all those emails when I wasn’t writing at 411 might think a little differently). When I was starting university I probably thought that I’d write FOR wrestling one day, but not all these random opinion pieces and concept blogs or reviews. A lot of this stuff even makes a few people so upset when they read it that they are motivated to write their own reviews of me, many of which are just as vile as my own criticisms of what pro-wrestling has become. Ironic, no?

None of it bothers me, I like to write. I’ve got something to say, and thankfully 411mania (a great site) has let me publish some of the most ridiculous and outrageous things over the years. When I go back and read some of it (as I often do believe it or not), it makes me smile. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking, sometimes I think it was so brilliant that it couldn’t have been me, sometimes it even brings a tear to my eye. I mean, why not? It’s a lot of work, words that I’ve sweated over that just dissolve into the internet of time once they’ve been read, likely skimmed, by some people I don’t even know; writer and reader connected in the ether like odd partners in a tag team match you see on a Hidden Gems clip from 30 years ago, or the way people in 30 years will look at these MMC teams. Those who read this will be a part of me intimately for a moment, but then it’ll be over.

I used to love writing poetry. I wasn’t a poet, in the published sense (or in the paid sense), but I’d go out and read some of it here or there. Not surprisingly to some 411 readers, I’m sure, I was generally disliked. Is making audiences angry something I’ve been conditioned to? It’s not what I’m attempting, not then, not now. I mean, is the WWE attempting to make me angry too? I don’t think so. Yet that’s what happens, especially when they seem to intentionally crash land what was a pretty smoothly flying plane. But no one wants to intentionally make people hate them, not even heel wrestlers, not really.

As far as that poetry goes, I didn’t write many about wrestling, but I did write a couple. One in particular I composed for some friends of mine who had a band, and I think I was leaving town at the time and they were doing show, or maybe they were leaving town and I’d written this poem for them, the details are fuzzy. The point is, they took a break during their set to let me come up on stage and read this poem I wrote about wrestling, and it was an epic. Detailed were the goings on in a fantasy Royal Rumble match at the behest of the gods that featured wrestlers of all generations and companies. As I remember, Razor Ramon and Mantaur were the last two in the ring, and the ending caused such fury that it cracked open the earth swallowed them all down.

Those guys might as well have been my family back then. We watched wrestling together, discussed it like crazy people, they rocked out, I napped a lot, we drank a lot of coffee, rented a lot of VHS tapes, there was some alcohol, though I was sober, and there was a lot of Goldust love (not in that way), a lot of Hogan hate, Foley was God, and it felt like this was life. Of course, that was probably just a couple of years, at the most. We all barely keep in touch now, understandably so, and none watch wrestling with that same passion. And I don’t blame the WWE, because what they produced at the time gave us such a zest for life that the good will of it all has stuck with me ever since.

Back in high school, with two of those guys who’d later be in the audience of that show, I remember we watched Wrestlemania X live on the cable TV scrambled screen. For those too young to remember what that was, the PPVs would air live on your TV, but the picture was all squiggly and weird if you didn’t pay for it to be unscrambled. Amazingly, the sound was intact though, so you could listen to everything that was going on, and every now and then the scrambled screen image might clear up and you could make out a few moments of action. A lot of PPVs were watched like this over the years, especially if you couldn’t afford to buy it, like me and these guys.

When one of them went to the bathroom and came back, he said his money (probably like $5) was missing and accused my other friend of stealing it, which he denied. They actually fought over it, well, wrestled weirdly was more like it. So there I was, watching the HBK vs. Razor Ramon Ladder Match on a scrambled screen on some wonky tube TV, while two guys I knew wrestled on the floor below. And it got heated, in both matches. The guy who thought he was robbed eventually just left in a huff, before the main event. I asked my other friend, whose house it was, what happened to the money, and he said that he took it. Surprised, I asked why, and he said he didn’t know.

Why am I telling you this? I’m not sure. Because wrestling is stupid I guess. Like, stupid in the same way my friend was that day; it just does what it does and doesn’t know why. In that situation there’s a lot to be angry about, not being able to watch the PPV clearly, having this fight break out, one guy irrationally causing it, HBK losing that damn ladder match! I mean, it was all irrational and thrilling and silly and fun. As dim a light as wrestling is in my life today, back then the universe revolved around something so stupid and yet so important.

When I was really little, I asked my mom if she could take me and my friend who lived next door to the upcoming house show at Maple Leaf Gardens. To a little kid, of course, you don’t know the difference between a Wrestlemania and a house show, hell, there’d only been one Wrestlemania even. So it felt huge when she agreed. “Upcoming” though actually meant months later, and I’d talk about it with my friend every day, week after week. I called him the night before and said we’re gonna leave in the morning, so be ready. I got up early, got dressed, put on my shoes and jacket, and sat at the door. When my mom got up and came into the kitchen to make tea, she looked over at the door and asked what I was doing. I told her I was waiting to go to the WWF show. She asked me, “What WWF show?”


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