After completing the Ring Of Honor tryout camp, it was back to the daily grind in West Virginia.
Before heading out to Winterplace Ski Resort, I would email the ROH matchmakers asking for an opportunity. While I was earning a living by standing in the cold, my mind was on fire with thoughts of making an impression in the ring where many of my heroes had made an impression on me. After I thawed myself out in front of the heater, back home, I would check my email inbox for a reply.
Weeks past. I kept working. I kept emailing. I tried to keep warm. I tried to keep positive.
One night, after work, I was too tired to check my email and went straight to bed. I awoke after a short nap and was compelled by the feeling that I was a passenger aboard the sinking ship called Monotonous Work Days to try out the life raft called Meditation.
I knew very little about meditation, so I clicked on a random guided meditation video on YouTube. I got into the hatha yoga pose Savasana (corpse pose) and allowed the guide to calm my breath and mind with his words. Then allowed him to take my imagination on a journey that lead me to confront what I hated more than anything in this world; my past. I envisioned the part of my past that was most haunting my present and was told by Random YouTube Meditation Guide to “have compassion and forgive”. Okay, seems silly but I’ll give it a try. I envisioned my Purest Self embracing my impurest self in a hug and saying, “It’s okay.”
What a bunch of woo-woo nonsense, my rational mind tried to reassure my macho ego, but something was happening that my best bros of rationality and masculinity couldn’t deny; tears were streaming down my f__king face!
“Men don’t cry.” My father's voice in my mind reminded me.
I wanted to feel guilty, silly, and ashamed, but I didn’t. Somehow, despite myself, I felt joy, deep relief, and, without any drugs, I felt very high. High in the sense of elevated.
How amazingly weird, I thought.
Later that night, I dreamt that I was a soldier dying in a foreign land. As I lay there, with my guts pouring out onto the dusty, cold concrete floor, I was filled with regret. Why did I come here? What’s the point of living just to be slaughtered, so young, so far from home? I was supposed to return a hero! But, as I faded away, so did my regret. As my body grew colder, my heart grew warmer. I surrendered to the beauty of my death and was beckoned from my butchered meat body by the loving embrace of the Hindu goddess Kālī; the fierce destroyer of evil.
How amazingly weird, I thought, when I awoke.
To clear my mind, since I was clearly losing it, I turned on a random playlist of non-English language songs. I was enjoying letting myself wander around the house while the lyrics that I couldn’t understand just blended into the music, but, then, the song abruptly changed from Sanskrit to English and the melodic, repetitive lyrics changed from “Ha-re Krish-na” to “A-ma-zing Grace”. It literally startled me and I immediately thought of my dead grandfather, who was a preacher and my biggest wrestling fan. I thought I might cry again, but this time it came out as happy laughter.
How amazingly weird, I thought, as I was pulling up Gmail on my phone, so I could send out another “book me” message to ROH.
I was startled, once more, as I saw that my inbox finally had a reply from the ROH office. I took a deep breath and clicked it open. It read, “Can you make it to Charlotte on January 9?”
How amazingly weird, I thought, as I replied that I definitely could.
Two weeks before the Ring Of Honor Top Prospect tournament, I became the last competitor booked and announced.
Right after I had done the camp a local matchmaker had asked me if there’s anybody that I thought he should book.
“Yeah, Lio Rush. He’s only had about a year in and he’s already awesome. He’s going to be a big deal.” I replied.
One week before the tournament, the local matchmaker had me booked against Lio Rush. We had a very good match and I told the matchmaker, “It may end up being a warm up match for ROH, next week.”
While I was nervously making my handshake rounds in the ROH locker room for the first time, Matt Sydal spotted me and said, with a big smile, “Look at this motherf__ker, here to steal our jobs.” This provoked a nice laugh from those around us and helped ease my nerves.
After introductions and hellos were out of the way, I took a walk down to the ring, where someone told me that I was wrestling Action Ortiz. His size may limit me, somewhat, but I can still steal the tournament with him, I thought.
I said hi to Lio Rush, who was already in the ring preparing himself for a first round match up with Leon St. Giovanni, and sized up the ring. It may be too big to do the Coast To Coast Dropkick to a floor-prone opponent, but, f__k it, I’m going to try, I informed myself.
A few minutes before the doors were set to open to fans, a match line-up was posted in the locker room. My name was not across from Ortiz, it was across from Rush. Ah, cool; tournament stolen, I thought.
Match time came. Nerves faded. I did my “angry Kincaid” walk to the ring. I stood on the mat that I had longed to stand on for thirteen years. Under the bright lights, I remembered reading about Gabe Sapolsky’s interesting new concept promotion. I remember my friend finding Amazing Red vs Low Ki online. I remember jumping out of my seat as they had an opening exchange that left me breathless. I remember thinking, that’s where I want to be.
How amazingly weird, I thought.
A few minutes into the match and, thanks to the chemistry with Lio, I could already tell that it was one of the best that I had ever had. Then came the big moment; I rolled out onto the apron. Lio rolled out onto the floor. I stared out at the vast expanse of mat between us. This is your chance, I told myself. Then I took a leap of faith.
I connected. The crowd exploded in vocal appreciation of a feat they had likely never seen; “Coast-To-Coast…And Then Some”.
I let the crowd settle and think that was all.
Ahem, but wait; there’s more, I tried to say with my body language and facial expression, then I flew out of the ring with another “Kinnovation”, one that I had never even attempted in a match before: a suicide dive turned into a flipping stunner.
I connected; an even bigger explosion this time, followed by chants of “R-O-H, R-O-H”.
As I returned to the locker room, guys that I had looked up to for years came out of their way to give me smiling compliments.
I did my regular, everyday “humble Jason” walk back to my seat on the floor, in the corner, and thought about how proud my grandpa would have been in that moment.
Then I thought about a message I had gotten over a year and a half earlier, on Facebook, from a young man who introduced himself to me as Lionel and told me, “I’m green, but just really wanted to say that I hope, one day, I get to wrestle you.”
How amazingly weird.