Thankful that my car made it, having driven through the night, I arrived many hours early for day one of the Ring Of Honor Try Out Camp/Seminar. I took the opportunity to nap in the car; setting my alarm clock for one hour before it was set to start.
I woke up with nervous energy rushing through me like coffee through an overactive bladder. That, combined with the morning chill, had me shaking as I dragged my bag into the industrial office building where ROH rents space for their training school.
I followed signs that lead me upstairs and to the dojo door. Locked. I knocked. Nothing. So, I stood by the door in anxious anticipation. I had been hoping to be the first participant there, to make a good impression. I was, but I didn’t.
After about 10 minutes, I heard footsteps coming up the stairway. I checked the state of my dress shirt. Clean. Cool. I straightened up. I put some thought into the coming handshake. I was prepared to make a good first impression.
When the person that I had heard turned out to be another participant, I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed, it somehow reminded me of hitting the eject button on certain videos from my teenage years.
More participants filed in and the hallway became congested with nervous hopefuls. We made introductions and sized up the competition.
It got closer and closer to the start time and still no trainers. The anticipation was so dense that I was half-scared that a black hole would be formed and I would be sucked into an alternate reality within the Multiverse where the trainers and all the participants were already in the ring doing drills and I’m so late that I get turned away. One ROH hopeful said, “I feel like this is a test.”
It wasn’t a test and, just about right on start time, the instructors and training school assistants forced their way through the crammed hallway and unlocked the dojo doors. I imagined light pouring out of the door and a heavenly choir singing.
We were told to get dressed in our ring gear. More sizing up ensued, as we evaluated each other’s professional garb.
There was an orientation speech, then we were split into groups. One group was sent to the promo room, one to the ring. To my dismay, I was sent to the promo room.
The small, empty, blank-walled room soon became as cramped as the hallway had been, with everyone staring towards the front, where a video camera stood firmly intimidating atop a tripod.
I was happy that many participants took their turn to talk before I did mine. I had some time to gather confidence and go over the promo I had pre-written in my head, as guys and gals from across the World tried their best to impress with their spoken words. Some did good. Some did okay. Some did neither good nor okay.
My turn. I did my normal, head-down, eyes a couple steps ahead, slow, humble walk to the front of the room. Then Kevin Kelly told me, in his kind-yet-stern voice, “State your name, then wait for my cue to start.”
“Jason Kincaid.” I said, in my shy-quiet natural speaking voice.
“Five. Four. Three.” Kevin counted down, then, gave me two head nods and a point.
“Greetings, grappling fans!” I yelled, suddenly, in my promo-voice, which is really my adding-emphasis-to-what-I’m-saying-when-I’m-joking-around-with-my-buddy’s voice, and the previously uninterested room instantly shot their attention my way. Most faces displaying shock as I rattled off well rehearsed line after line of pure f-cking look-at-me energy.
Once I had everybody’s attention secured, I switched my tone and cadence and told about my childhood in a one room trailer that didn’t have plumbing.
“I grew up literally without a pot to piss in! I know I’m not supposed to be here! But…” I slapped the wall behind me hard before continuing, “Damnit, I’m here!” I finished by staring intensely into the camera. Then, as suddenly as I had went into “Gift Mode”, I went back into “Humble Jason” mode.
There was a movie-moment pause, followed by applause and smiling faces.
When the applause died down Kevin Kelly looked at me with a pleasantly surprised smile and said, “I… Didn’t... Expect that. Very good!”
Well, I had aced that part of this competitive job interview, and now it was time to show where I really shined; in the ring. Or so I thought.