September, 1999, UPW at Mission Viejo High School. In a fundraiser for the school’s student council and its wrestling team, we pull out all the stops. It’s the first time we’ll videotape vignettes in advance and project them onto big screens. The vignettes –or “pre-tapes” as they’re called in the industry—set-up stories, so that spectators who are unfamiliar with the characters will know exactly what the story behind the match is by the time the participants appear. Tommy Williams is a stand out student at my school, Ultimate University, and the only student I have at the time who can be classified as a Lightweight. Fortuitously, he is also an alumni of the high school at which we’re performing. Tommy has taken on the unfortunate wrestling moniker of “Funky Billy Kim.” (or, FBK, as we call him for short) Why? Because as a huge fan of all seventies pop crap, I love “Kung Fu Fighting,” and in the song, Carl Douglas sings about “funky Billy Chin.” (So, I screwed up on the name a bit. Oops, sorry Tommy!). Anyways, to get back on point, we’ve concocted a very complex “angle” story, where me –UPW’s evil owner- has been abusing FBK, and…we’re gonna battle it out at his alma mater. We produce a long, meandering pre-tape, which…actually works. By the time I make my entrance, with Tom Howard behind me, the packed house hates me. Especially after I kibosh the school’s principal in the head with the metal clipboard I’m carrying (yes, THIS principal is actually popular). When FBK make his entrance, with the school’s most beloved teacher at this side, the assembled masses go nuts. After getting my ass kicked from pillar to post, I end up winning through Tom’s cheating interference (the referee of course, doesn’t see Tom intervene). Distinction: this is far and away the WORST match in UPW’s short history, due entirely to me.
October, 1999, UPW at Tustin High School. Another similar set-up; a fundraiser. We’re getting very good at involving popular faculty members in the storylines. The ORIGINAL Hardkore, Inc. – Aaron “Hardkore Kidd” Aguilera and Justin “just Insane” McCulley, with the nefarious Gil “El Jefe” Aguilera in their corner, work a very violent, off the script, hardcore-style match. NOT exactly what you want to do when trying to impress a somewhat conservative high school administration. I’m watching from the locker room, working up a real head of steam. I’ve laid down the rules very early on at UPW and one important distinction, is that many of these rules are safety-centric. One rule? Thou shalt NOT go into the audience unless approved. The ever-enthusiastic Aaron takes it upon himself to do a “Sabu dive,” launching his big body off the top turnbuckle and over the guard rail. He miscalculates and flies in the direction of the audience, and right toward my sister in-law Teri is who is pregnant with hers and my brother’s first child. Gabrielle, who is seated next to Teri, sees it coming and jumps out of her seat and throws herself in front of Teri. Gabrielle is all of 110 pounds and Aaron is 250, plus whatever the law of physics adds to mass plus velocity, and all that good stuff. Aaron lands on Gabrielle and inures her shoulder. Badly. Hardkore Inc. wins the match and comes back into the locker room celebrating and high-fiving one another. I almost kill Aaron. Again. It’s not the first time. And it won’t be the last.