– Mr. Petrovich –

Quiet, Serious, and Pensive

In the ring, he is serious, treating the business as if it was real.  Though the outcomes are fixed, you’d never know from the way he works. He wrestles to survive as if every move is a real fight. As a technical wrestler, he is detail-oriented, though a moment can shift into an all-out brawl, which he rolls with whenever it happens.  This reflects his mindset, which is also quietly erratic and shifts on a dime. If he had come from a place where they checked for things like that, he might have been diagnosed with ADHD. Suppose we’ll never know.

Outside of the ring and outside of the character, he tries to blend in. He is quiet, serious, and pensive, but you’re never quite sure if he intends to pick a fight or not. You feel it when he walks into a room, and when he leaves a room, the tension is released. It’s almost impossible to tell where the stage character of Alistair ends and the athlete that is Abraham begins. Maybe that’s why he’s so committed. The line is pretty blurred. 

Always Ring Ready

With his shirt on, you may not know it, but he is built.  When his shirt is off, you can see every ripple of every muscle.  He has spent years doing manual labor and passed countless hours in the gym, and he is relentless. He is always ring-ready, meaning his diet is incredibly strict, and he keeps himself in a vein-throbbing state of body fat. It’s his profession, after all. Alistair’s physique is gritty, intense, and full of testosterone.  

Columbus, OH 

Alistair is from lower-class Columbus, Ohio. Alistair’s mom raised him by herself, and his dad was gone at an early age, and she worked most of the time, leaving Alistair alone.  At times in his childhood, he raised himself. His only significant parental role model was his high school wrestling coach.  

Alistair was an outstanding D1 wrestler.  The main issue was that there were no college programs like in the past.  Long dead were the days of NIL deals or powerhouse programs.  The world was falling apart in America, with Ohio at the center. After high school, Alistair traveled the US for seven years, trying to make it as a professional wrestler.  The sport grew more popular as the economy tanked, probably reflecting the lower-class blue-collar roots from where it originated. Oversight of the sport returned to regional territory promotions as different leagues popped up.   

The big promotions still existed, but you had to pay your dues to get up the ranks.  The industry grew very competitive, and it was run by shady promoters often backed by organized crime—the payoff to making it big made an effort worth it.  If you were part of “the show,” you were a made man or woman, and your life would be set until you stopped drawing a crowd.  

Alistair was striking out in the industry.  He would camp out in a territory for months, never catching the attention of big-time promoters.  Sometimes he was called in to “do a job” for a “dark match.”  Dark matches were local, non-televised events. The big promotions ran between their more significant televised/telestreamed programs.  It was a time to entertain locals, and rehab athletes, let guys and girls who had been out getting more ring time to knock off the rust, and sell tickets or merch.  In every town, they’d recruit locals to “do jobs”; be a human punching bag for a made star. Essentially, be a professional loser. Alistair did several such gigs that never went anywhere.  

Alistair was a loner, but that was only because of his vast geographic travel schedule. He’d never admit to being lonely, but many nights following the fight, he’d find himself with someone, often a wrestling groupie.  They call them “rats” in the industry.  These women purely come to the fight to go home with a wrestler.  These rats kept the boys busy, mainly by keeping them out of trouble. Sometimes even fixed fights went awry after the crowd departed. Lots of testosterone and hurt pride could leave a mark. One incorrectly thrown elbow might land someone actually hurt, and if it meant someone was off the job while they recovered, that cut into paychecks. Rats were looked down upon but were a crucial part of the industry. 

Sometimes he’d leave more than one rat at a time or occasionally be approached by a rat with a kinky, superfan husband who was drawn to the mystery, intrigue, and drama and wanted to touch a piece of the industry for themselves.  There weren’t many perks of a hard job on the road, and Alistair had a stage reputation to live up to, and when life and stage blurred, well, he didn’t mind. And frankly, could use the money. 

Alistair’s personal life illustrated that he lived by a moral code – unique as it was to him.  Many times he would deliver “gifts” between territories for shady promoters.  He was told to keep his mouth shut, don’t ask questions, and for that, extra compensation in his weekly white envelope of pay. Again, he could use the money. All in all, he got by. Barely. But the dream was just out of reach. Unlike someone traveling a long journey, he could not see the end in sight.  He was growing tired of a career going nowhere.  Every mile on his odometer, every new town or hole-in-the-wall bar was closer to moving on. He was beginning to wonder if it would ever happen. 

If he was ever going to make it. 

Meet me after. I have a gift.

Then one day, he got a call.

He was working a show in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His opponent was Vlad the Impaler.  When he saw the name on the booking sheet, he rolled his eyes at the title but with some expletives under his breath. “ It’s a fucking paycheck.”  He grimaced, taping his hands, which hurt from a bare-knuckle fight the night before.  

As customary, the two met in the locker room one hour before the first bell. They’d have a mid-card match, 15 minutes bell-to-bell. It was supposed to be a clean fight, not to upstage the main event but keep the fans interested.  He was booked to lose after Vlad’s elbow dropped him from the top rope—Cut and dry.  

Alistair waited, squat in a gorilla position to come out of from the back. It was his signature pose when the curtain was drawn, though nobody seemed to ever comment on it.  Some visualizations crossed his mind while he waited. Curtain opens, walk to the ring, music blares, throw his usual “F-you” look at the crowd. He’d be disinterested in their entertainment. They’d hurl down boos and hisses as he walked.  Should be pretty standard.

But right before he walked, a hand touched his arm.  Often, someone would say hello he’d not seen in a while, even at the most inopportune times. He figured it was something like that, but a genuine frown touched his brow when a foreign voice spoke from the shadows. “Meet me after. I have a gift.” He couldn’t quite make out the face, and there wasn’t time to figure it out either. The curtain opened, and Alistair left for the ring, not thinking much more about it. He’d been “given gifts” plenty of times before. Weirdo just tried to be dramatic about it. So, in his mind, that is what he heard. 

The show went as planned. Alistair swallowed his pride again, took the fall, and that was it: one, two, three. 

Alistair went on his way.  He changed his clothes, got his things, and was out of there.  Ready to bury himself in a beer and a broad.  He had completely forgotten about the mystery man by then.

He climbed in his car and as if in a movie, looked up to see a face in his rearview mirror. Dark curly hair, dark eyes. Same as before the match. He tensed, blood pressure spiking and he reached for the glove compartment, going for a pistol. 

That hand grabbed his arm, “Hold a moment, Alistair,” he said, Russian accent heavy as a crowbar.  “I won’t hurt you,” he added. He didn’t seem worried, but hearing this from weird men before, he pulled the pistol in a second. Had it aimed on the asshole.

“I want you to hire you. To wrestle. In the Custody.”  Alistair froze. “Understand, yes?” he added.  He’d heard rumors about a growing underworld full of big-money fights over there, but the CCD was full of rumors like that. 

“Who are you?” he asked, voice tense. Deep.

The man went on to tell Alistair about his ‘gift’, which was a word Alistair eventually believed was suppose to mean opportunity but for the mistranslation. The gift was a chance to fly to the Custody and work in a vast network of clubs.  He’d be a professional fighter.  The man made it sound like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be set for life.  No longer would he have to worry about making it big in America; it was crumbling anyway. It was a kind of freedom only money can give.  No longer would he need to “do jobs” for asshole wrestlers who were half the fighter he was.  No longer would have to run to small bars for bare-knuckle fights.  This was his shot. 

He took it. 



Leave a Reply