Top Rope

Prelude.

"One...Two...Three!"

TJ: Hearing that sound, along with the bell ringing right after, is the best sound a professional wrestler could hear while performing in front of a sold out crowd. It's where any aspiring wrestler wishes to be. It's where I wish to be, and yesterday...I got that opportunity.

It started a month ago, where our boss, the boss of all of our bosses, the billionaire mogul who started this wrestling organization, Dennis Humphrey appeared before us all. Called to a meeting, Mr Humphrey addressed us together.

"Greetings hopeful superstars of World Wrestling Organization, or WWO's Rising Stardom. Surely you know who I am, and if you don't well..you're fired!" He gave off that hearty laugh of his, and of course the suck ups laughed with him. I did too...uncomfortably though!

"I've come to you all today because it's time to mix things up in WWO! And when I mean WWO I mean the actual WWO! I need five and I mean five new superstars to fill the WWO main roster. Nothing about you changes, except your status! Your gimmick is your gimmick! We can sell that! Your moves are your moves! You've honed that! But it's time for you to hit the main roster! That's if...you earn it! From here to the end of the wrestling year, we'll be monitoring your matches a lot closer, and from there, we'll be deciding which five of you deserve a spot at the main roster. It's a life changing decision. The pay is higher, and the chances of fame, fortune, and a road less traveled will always be in front of you! It's up to you to grasp it! Now...are you men and women ready?"

And from there, it began. Everyone was so determined to win, to become the next on the main roster. I've never seen so many people packed in the personal gyms since that day, trying to get stronger, faster, more agile and everything in between! Everyone wanted it, but when it came down to it, a few of us just wanted it more. Admittedly; I've never wrestled so well in my life! I've never been Developmental Champion like our big shot Richie Cross, or Tag Team Champions like the God Slayers, and not even Mid Card Champion like Reno the Gambler, but here I was, on a massive winning streak and with flying colors too. My opponents didn't stand a chance! The usual competitors that took me to the wire here at the Developmental Organization, we're now just breakfast, lunch and dinner to me at Rising Stardom's squared circle. It had to have been all the extra lifting circuits, or maybe the extra practice I've been putting in? I couldn't answer it myself, but all I know is...

{1...2...3!}

As the bell rung for my final match of the wrestling year, I was immediately called to Humphrey's office, and as I entered, four more of my peers were already standing, as of waiting for me in order to begin. If this is what I thought it was, then a hidden smile etched upon my features as I saw two of my best friends in this industry. One was Jerry, known as J. Seale in the ring. A crafty wrestler. A little short but his natural strength and quickness always made up for that and trust me I know. I've been raised over his shoulders before. Then there was John. "Smokin'" Jay Billings as he was known. He was a much bigger, heavier guy but very charismatic as well, and to be on the receiving end of his assault, especially his own variation of the T-bone Suplex, just meant to wrap it up at that point. Never seen anyone kick out of it.

As for the other two. I knew of them, but they were nothing more than coworkers to me, since I've never been close, let alone interacted with either. One was the Women's Developmental Champion, Selma Winona. She's been champion here in the Women's Division for as long as I could remember, and admittedly I never paid much attention to that, but the one match I can recently remember of her, she dominated. She was almost as tall as I was, which made her size intimidating in her division, that's for sure. And of course, the last of us standing in that office, was the pinnacle of what I couldn't reach in Rising Stardom... Richie Cross.

It was as if he already knew why we were there. He stood so cockily, only to give a side eye at the competition for a mere second before returning back to that cocky look of his. It made me made every passing second. Thankfully, Mr. Humphrey himself began to inform us of what we already knew.

"I'm glad I was able to knock the complacency outta you stars when we first had this talk. I've been very impressed with your level of competitiveness here at Rising Stardom, and because of that, I want to promote you five to WWO's main two show brands. Now, two of you will be going to WWO Lightning, and the other three will be headed to WWO Thunder. Though no brand is more superior than the other, I have taken it upon myself to start an experiment by sending both champions here to Lightning, and my three wild card picks to Thunder to see how things pan out."

Now, Humphrey said that there's no superior brand between the two, but if you've watched WWO from a fan's perspective, anyone who isn't biased to where their favorite wrestler is would tell you...Lightning is the better watch. The Allstar lineup there is outrageous, and that's no slouch upon Thunder's brand either. All of this I'm saying rang true as you could see the smug looks on Selma's and Richie's faces. They were practically drooling at the competition that awaited them. But by no means were me, John and Jerry disappointed. There were some marquee talents over at Thunder, including my idol himself; The Old Soldier — Jason Morrison. I couldn't wait to meet him and ask him for his mentorship. That was my first objective once I got there. I'm sure John and Seale had their own plans, but mine were set in stone. I wanted to take The Old Soldier's place when he finally retired, and be the successor he's been looking for this whole time.

"Now then!" Mr. Humphrey continued just as I snapped out of my own mind. "You have one month to relax, but I wouldn't if I was you. I'd be training if I were you guys, because the main roster is completely different compared to what you're used to. But in one month's time, you'll be reporting to your brand, and from there, you'll be set free to make your mark in the Modern Wrestling World! Good luck to you all, and you're now dismissed!"

We took that advice and ran with it! Somehow we all ended up in the same weight room and gym, but Richie never said a word to us, just simply looked our way with cocky and disappointed looks. It was kinda backwards for the charismatic champion, but it seems that he had his own method he was chasing. Maybe a moniker or gimmick change? It didn't matter to us, for me, John and Jerry continued our month long training, never taking a day off until finally, the final day was upon us. Just as we were leaving for the day, Selma was walking in with a towel draped around her shoulders. Wiping off some sweat, she looked up to see us, greeting us with a grin of her own. At first I thought that was the extent of it. Just another cocky champion watching us walk by, but then...she spoke. "Good luck on Thunder, boys. I hope you don't remain in the pits of the jobbers and actually become something. Keep this energy and resolve you have now, because I definitely didn't see it from you in Rising Stardom."

I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not, or just condescending, but just hearing her speak to us was a surprise on its own. A positive one at that. "Don't worry, Selma. We'll be at the top of the ladder before you know it. Just don't start feeling lonely without that Women's Development belt around your waist." John's reply to her was witty, surprising me as well because I couldn't even form words to say to the former champion. That's when Selma feigned a sigh, propping herself against the wall for a second. "I miss her already, but like toxic relationships, it's time to move on to something better. Lightning's Women's Championship? I'll have it within the year. Mark my words."

I marked them alright, because just thinking over the women's roster in my head, I almost laughed on the spot, having to cover my snorting by turning away. She did glare at me, but simply smiled again. "Anyways. This is the last time I'll see you hard workers. So I'll tell Richie you guys said goodbye."

That encouraged a laugh from everyone, and as we went our separate ways, we indeed embraced our one and only conversation with Selma, for the very next day...

"I'm Tim Kosta here with hall of famer Perry 'Mr. Millions' Dodger. We have a stacked show here tonight for you folks, just one day removed from our biggest show, Wrestling-Haven — welcome to Monday night Lightning here on WWO! We've started our night tonight by the women's champion, Cassie Strauss making her mark on the new wrestling year by speaking about her successful title defense at Wrestling-Haven, only to be interrupted by this newcomer, Selma Winona! Perry, what's the insight on her?"

"Oh lemme tell ya, Tim! Selma is a spitfire alright, and for those who keep up with Rising Stardom, our developmental brand, you would definitely know that Selma is as tough as they come! She was the women's champion there for a long long loooooong time! I have no doubt that she's gone be the next championé!"

"Oh you're just saying that because Cassie turned down your right hundred advances, Mr. Millions."

"Seven hundred fifty two, Tim. Don't make me sound like a predator!"

Me, John, and Jerry were glued to the screen. There was no way that Selma was about to square off against the champion on her first ever day on the main roster. I just refused to believe it. Even as Selma spoke her amazing in ring charisma, Cassie could only laugh, lounging about on the turnbuckle across from Selma before finally...

"Well, Velma, or whatever your name is. I get you want to make a name for yourself now that you're here, but it ain't that simple. To even earn a title shot against me is a privilege, but you want to waltz down here and demand one? You got guts, but that's not enough. But hey! Since you're here, why don't we get a referee to this ring, and we can have a good ole fashioned non-title match to celebrate my victory last night at Wrestling-Haven! I don't mind throwing a /jobber/ around."

It was happening. The Blonde Bombshell Cassie Strauss was really baited into a match with Selma. I couldn't imagine what was going on in the women's locker room right now, but right now, as the bell rung, one Selma Winona stood across the five foot nine, blonde haired and blue eyed face of WWO's women's division. The backyard brawling babe, Cassie Strauss, versus Miss Mind Games herself, and as the two locked up in the middle of the ring, the crowd pop combined with our own excitement caused a switch to flip within. The atmosphere alone was completely different than what we were used to and suddenly, we found ourselves rooting for the women who never spoke a word to us until literally yesterday. Even Cassie's biggest fan, Smokin' Jay was cheering Selma on. Until he realized who he was rooting against.

"This match has been on fire from the beginning ladies and gentlemen and it's only getting hotter as Cassie slams a big boot right into the nose of this Selma girl. Selma is down, and the Blonde Bombshell is making her way across the ring just as her opponent is clawing her way to the turnbuckle."

"Oh that's not a place you want to be against Cassie, Tim!"

"Not at all indeed and Cassie is calling for it! This is where she hits her patented sliding knee to set up for her finishing move!"

There comes a time where you can tell when the climax of a match is approaching, and for Selma, this was it. Cassie was about to perform one of her signature moves, a sliding knee right to the face. The knee pad was down and everything. At this point, we all thought the same thing, and I couldn't believe it was going to happen. Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe I knew Selma better than I thought I did, but throughout this amazing fight, Miss Mind Games hadn't taken much punishment from the Backyard Brawler. As I replayed the events that led up to now, I could remember just how right I was. Selma had countered a lot of moves from Cassie, from the hard suplexes, to the signature falling backbreaker she does, but she couldn't avoid the clotheslines and big boots. She couldn't evade the punches and elbow strikes. Couldn't...or just didn't? Because even though Cassie has yet to land a powerful move all match, here she was about to perform her setup signature move. And the second she began the slide, Selma rolled out of the way, causing Cassie to slam her exposed knee into the bottom turnbuckle. Just as I predicted would happen.

Immediately Cassie grabbed her knee, and Selma scrambled towards her, lifting Cassie up to her feet, where she could only stand on one leg, and grabbed that hurt leg only to lift her by it and slam her down right on her own leg for a shin breaker. The excruciating cries by Cassie were drowned out by the crowd who was cheering for the apparent underdog, but Selma wasn't done. She turned that Shin Breaker into a chain, never letting go of her leg as she then placed Cassie in a move that every woman back at Rising Stardom dreaded to see. With Cassie's entire leg in Selma's grasp, and her head now cradled within Selma's left arm, connected with the right hand that held her extended leg, Cassie found herself in Selma's Cat's Cradle, which was a variation of the Knee Bar.

"Oh my god! Oh my god Millions!" The announcer Tim Kostas shouted. "Cassie is in trouble! Middle of the ring! Is she going to tap!? Will she tap right here!?"

"No way! Not on her first night after the biggest fight of her life, Tim! I don't believe that!"

"She better or Selma might break her knee! Cassie is writing in pain, but Selma has her pretzeled! She can't even reach out anywhere!"

"That's right...it's the Cat's Cradle, Tim! Cassie can't even reach for the ropes in this position! How is she going to get out!?"

"The crowd is behind her... but I don't know, Perry! I just don't know! Cassie is scratching, clawing! Looking for a way out! Will Selma pull an upset here!"

As we watched on that couch in our brand's locker room, we were the only three so hyped about what was going on. The veterans ignored us, but we continued to watch, begging Cassie to tap. Begging her! There was a way out of the Cat's Cradle, but it took a sound mind to do so, and Cassie was anything but right now. But finally...finally...

"Come on Cassie! Come on!" Mr. Millions himself shouted, but finally, Cassie tapped. Her hand repeatedly slapped the ground in surrender and as the ref asked for the bell, as the bell rung... Selma released her and scrambled to her feet, catching her breath in a pant as she stumbled back to the turnbuckle to rest there. The ref raised her hand as the announcement was made, causing a smile to appear as she panted.

"Here is your winner, by submission, Selma Winona!"

"By heavens Tim we have an upset on the champion herself!"

"I...I can't believe what happened here today! Selma has just put the entire women's locker room on notice, and by rules, Selma Winona is the number number one contender for Cassie's championship! What a way to kick off Monday night Lightning!"

What a way indeed, and as we all finally calmed down from Selma's win, we could only sit back down to watch the rest of our other brand's show. Halfway through, I got up to use the bathroom. Two bottles of water and a milkshake will do that to you, but it was who I saw when I got there that caught me speechless.

Someone once told me that in an alternate world, pro wrestling was fake, or scripted. I couldn't imagine that...I couldn't imagine all of my heroes being nothing but fictional characters or personas from a real life person with beliefs different from my own. That alone sounds like a ruthless tragedy, and as I stood before the man I called an idol, as I stood before the short, whitish-blond hair with the rest of his features hidden behind thick tactical goggles and mask that outlined his facial region... as I stood before the red white and black jacket that resembled the American Flag without the blue, I knew at that moment, that I was in the right world. I just didn't think that I would be so suddenly in front of..

The Old Soldier himself... Jason Morrison.