Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jan 3, 2017


The tie-up was nice and light, feather light. This was going to be a good match, give and take and some great moments to feed the face by selling his high spots. Naturally, when the time came to for me to get some heat, he’d put my spots over too. Nights like that were easy because the both of us got to go home on a good note and of course, the money helped put food on the table. Some nights, someone on the card can’t make the show for whatever reason, so the lineup changes and everyone has to improvise. Of course, the house is going to be pissed because the fliers and posters and TV spots have been promoting the very person who it turns out, is not going to appear in the main event. On nights like that, you end up with a rookie who’s as green as puke. His tie up is stiff and he’s unmovable, and as a result, you have to feed the cherry a cue under your breath,

“Loosen up kid, relax.”

The tighter someone is in the collar and elbow tie-up, the more likely it is that one of you is going to get hurt. Usually, it ends up being the veteran, which in this case could end up being me. The upside to being the veteran is I get to call the match. The kid is the local face with a good look and a beautiful body. He’s a crowd favorite so I have to put him over. My job as a heel is to make him look good, but not to kill him in the process. We both have to come off strong and it’s gotta be a close call, so we agree to a technical match where we both get to exhibit our mat skills but for myself as the heel, once the kid starts getting the heat over on me, I’ll get some cheap heat by letting the crowd see me poke the kid in the eye or kick him in the nuts. The referee of course, never sees it.

The match goes off without a hitch and it turns out that the kid is a good listener and does what he’s told. The build up to the finish makes the both of us look strong and it’s really a close call, but in the end, he gets me in a full nelson suplex and gets the three count. The crowd goes crazy and everybody goes home happy. When I get to the back, the kid thanks me profusely. The old man (the promoter) is standing there and he also thanks me for doing the job and then hands me my take for the night. Turns out the kid is the old man’s son, the kid himself is so appreciative that he practically begs the old man for a program with me where he can return the favor. The old man calls the booker over and we set up a time for a sit-down, maybe next week.

No injuries tonight, just sore muscles and aches and pains catching up after years of bumps and falls.


The old man’s favorite place was, “House Saimin” right off of King Street next to Diner’s. He was nostalgic that way, he liked those hole in the wall locations because it took him back to the old days when he was coming up in the business. The shop opened at eleven in the morning and we were the first ones there. We all ordered the extra large bowl of saimin and we couldn’t help but love the broth and the slices of char siu pork on the noodles. We were all big hefty boys so the old man ordered everyone two bowls each. A ton of teryaki meat sticks appeared on a large plate and we all moaned when we saw it set in the middle of the table.

“After this, we’ll go back to the office and have our meeting. For now, just eat and enjoy yourselves.” The old man said.

No one disagreed.

An hour later, we were sitting in the old man’s upstairs office in the Kalihi Kai warehouse district. Downstairs was the training center with two fourteen by fourteen wrestling rings, free weights and weight machines, elliptical stair climbers, and Muay Thai heavy bags. It was still early in the day and no one would show up until later that afternoon. In the meantime, the old man took a seat behind his desk while we all pulled our fold out chairs closer to where he sat. The kid sat close to his father while the booker seated himself on the opposite side of the old man. I sat directly in front of his desk and it almost looked as if I was the one being interrogated.

“I got a program in mind,” the old man began. “If we do it right and stick to the angle, we’ll be able to put asses in those seats and make money together.”

“What’s the angle?” I asked.

“It’s like this,” the old man put his hands out in front of him with both palms up. “The two of you had a helluva match and you put my son over real good, you made him look like a million dollars and you didn’t come out of it looking bad either. So, we’re gonna book a program where the two of you have a series of matches, technical matches where the two of really push each other to the limit. Each match gets better and better and each time it’s a really close call, you win three,” He says as he points to his son, “then you win three and the two of you have an even record between you. Right now, my son is involved in an angle with the current tag team champions, they’re heels. He’s done a few run ins where he’s saved a few other face tag teams who got the beat down from the champs after they’ve already won the match, you follow me so far?” He asked.

“I gotcha,” I replied.

“When the two of you have your last and final match, the finish is that the kid is gonna get you in his signature move for the pin, but before the referee can hit the three count, the tag team champions are gonna run in, toss you out of the ring and then beat the shit out of the kid for interfering in their matches. While you’re outside, you shake it off, you slide back into the ring and you wait a moment. You let the crowd see you trying to decide what you’re gonna do? The psychology is that your body language has to make the house think that you’re gonna help those two shit heads stomp a hole in the kids head. I want the crowd on their feet, I want them stomping their feet and foaming at the mouth. At the very last second, you get in there and save the kids ass. You clean house, you get the heat on them but their sneaky no good son-of-a-bitch manager jumps on the ring apron and hits you from behind with a chair or something. You go down, and they all start to stomp on you and then the kid gets up and gets heat on them and then you both clean house and beat the shit out of them. They’re good guys to work with this tag team, so don’t worry, they’ll know how to feed the two of you, so you’ll get put over real good. The two of you are gonna tag together and you’re gonna go back and forth with the tag team champions. The angel with the champions is that they’re a couple of sneaky chicken shit fuckers. Most of your matches with these guys will involve them running away or trying to avoid having matches with you at all. At every house show, we’ll have security, force them to the ring. We’ll threaten to strip them of the titles and all that shit, the crowd will eat it up. We wanna milk this for as long as we can so that when they finally drop the straps to the two of you, it will be a sold out event. I want people clamoring for their blood, I want an overload of security escorting them to the ring so it gives the illusion that they need protection from your fans. What do you think?” The old man asked.

“What do you think?” The kid asked.

“I couldn’t have booked something like this if my life depended on it. It’s pure genius!” The booker gushed.

I didn’t answer right away, I gave it some thought for a second before I finally said what I had to say.

“Who’s your champion right now?” I asked the old man.

“Primo Medeiros,” He answered. “He brings in the Portuguese crowd, it’s good for business because they’re his marks, and they get the rest of the house going. What are you thinking?”

“Your son is a good hand in the ring and he’s naturally talented like he was born to be in this business. He’s a great looking kid and he’s built like a brick shit house, but even though you’re his father and the promoter, he doesn’t take advantage of your status. In fact, he works three times harder than anyone else in this territory and that’s the way you should start pushing him come Monday. Let the people into his life, let them see how hard he works and how humble he is. They could interview you too and you can be the one to talk about how hard the kid works and how he doesn’t take advantage of your position. People will love him for that.” I said.

“Alright,” The old man replied. “Start putting salt on the steak.”

“So, we go with your angle where in the last match of our series the tag champions do a run in and the kid and I clean house. The next month, book me in a singles match against one of the tag champs. Maybe the finish is that I’m about to go over again and the other partner and their manager jump me and the beat the shit out me real bad. Nobody comes out for the save for five minutes, you know? All the guys that should come out, that you expect to come out, don’t. After five minutes, the only person that comes out is the kid. He cleans house by himself and saves my ass and I’m beaten to a bloody pulp. I’m laying in the ring, maybe the EMT have to come out with a gurney, maybe I start convulsing and foaming at the mouth? The crowd is on their feet and there’s silence. The psychology is that nobody knows if I’m going to die or not. The next time you see me, I come limping to the ring, maybe I have a brace around my neck and I get on the mic and talk about how messed up my life was and how much of a jerk I’ve been up until I got beat like a dog. Then I say that while I was bandaged up in the hospital that I had a realization that I only had one true friend right? That friend turns out to be the kid, I ask him to come to the ring, I make this heartfelt apology and I ask him if he would do me the honor of being my tag team partner against the champs. Of course, he accepts and later on we have the match.” I tell the old man.

“I see where this is going but I want to hear it from you,” the old man points at me.

“We have the match, I start off and the kid and I got hot tags going back and forth. We’re doing all of our high spots and we're getting over, the crowd is popping. I get the hot tag I’m in, I do a couple spots and I miss a clothesline and boom, they got me. They cut off the ring and keep me in their corner and beat the hell out of me, I’ve only got enough juice to kick out of their pins no matter what finisher they throw out. More than once it seems like I got the tag from the kid but the champs cut me off or they hit the kid with a cheap shot. Finally, when everyone thinks they got me cornered, I crawl between their legs, do a roll up and tag the kid in. He’s hot, the crowd becomes unglued, when he goes to tag me in for a double team move, instead of helping him out, I turn the kid around and kick him in the nuts.” I explain.

“The ultimate screw job that nobody sees coming!” The old man laughed. “It’s a great angle and a great build up.”

“The kid comes back and gets his revenge and I do the job for him, he’ll be in the right place to earn the strap. This angle will push him straight to it, it’s guaranteed money. That’s just my opinion of course.” I said.

“You got the old school mentality,” the old man said as he leaned forward. “I like that.”

It was a great meeting and everybody went away happy. The build up was good and the kid and I had a great series of matches, he was willing to take any move, hold or bump that I had in mind, and of course, I was willing to do the same. We took good care of each other in the ring but at the same time, we pushed one another to be the best that we could be. The story line worked great and the crowd ate it up, especially when it came to me screwing the kid and stabbing him in the back, the people wanted my blood, I actually had to have security bring me to my car after the show. The following month, the old man booked me in a match with his champion, Primo Medeiros. With the aide of my tag team champions cohorts, I went over and won the strap. The month after that, I was booked to drop the strap to the kid, that’s what everyone was waiting for. On the night of the show, it wasn’t just a sold out crowd, it was standing room only.


In the back of the house, we were all getting changed and warming up. A couple of guys were off in the corner calling spots before their match. I was on the phone with my daughter, promising her a happy meal toy when I got home after the show. I looked up and saw the old man standing in the door, he waved me over and bid me to follow him. I walked outside and saw him sitting on the hood of his car with his head down. He saw me and urgently waved me over to him, “Go get the clipboard on my front seat and bring it to me.”

The window to his front seat was open and the clipboard was right there. I grabbed it and walked it over to him but he didn’t take it.

“You’re running the show tonight, that’s a list of the card and all the angles. If these guys try to pull some shit, don’t pay ‘um they can go fuck themselves.” He said. “That means you’re the booker too.”

“You gotta go somewhere?” I asked.

“I’ve been through two wars, Korea and Vietnam. I’ve seen a lot of shit that’s fucked me up, but I’m not one of those touchy-feely types you know?” He looked at me and tears were beginning to well up in his eyes. “But this is different, the kid.…my son Derek.……..he was killed in a car accident this afternoon. Some fucking tourist ran him off the road just near the H-3.….you make the announcement okay?”

“Yeah boss, I can do that. I’m sorry...” I didn’t get a chance to finish, the old man cut me off.

“Whatever you say, make it dignified.” With that, the old man got in his car and drove off. I didn’t say anything to anyone when I got to the back, I just explained that the old man had a last minute emergency and that I was running the back tonight. I didn’t want the news of the kid’s death to affect everyone’s performance. The card was going great so far and everyone hit their mark but was I worried that the people were going to kill me once I broke the news to them?  No, although the business was all about Kayfabe and keeping it tight, this moment of reality was going to put the kid over even bigger despite the fact that he was gone.


We were at the forty minute mark when the Dee Jay hit my entrance music, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” and the entire locker room followed me out to the ring. They didn’t know why, but I asked them to, I told them it was important.

The crowd erupted into jeers and boos and name-calling, I, however, didn’t walk out the way I usually did. I didn’t taunt the crowd or hurl insults at them. I kept my head down and stayed somber. I climbed into the ring and immediately took the mic.

“Please, please give me a second. I motioned to the sound booth to bring the volume up so that when I spoke my voice would drown out the screaming for my blood. “Please, this afternoon, a young man by the name of Derek Epson was killed in a car accident when his car was run off the road by a tourist who didn’t know where he was going. I know that you don’t recognize the name Derek Epson, but you do know him by a more familiar name, “The Kid”

I said nothing for a second so that the news would sink in, the cat calls and all the other insults stopped and the house went silent.

“If you didn’t understand me the first time, I’ll say it again. Derek Epson or The Kid as we know him was killed this afternoon in a car accident when a tourist ran him off the road. His father, the man who owns this promotion, Rupert Epson could not be here to give you the news himself, because he had to go to the morgue and identify his son’s body. So he asked me to share this news with all of you,” Now there were shouts of grief and mournful crying. The guys were equally hit with shock and they couldn’t hold back the tears. “The Kid was a great wrestler and I was very much looking forward to this match tonight. Although he and I were constantly at odds, whenever we were in this ring together, he made me earn every win I got. He brought out the best in me and he made me a better wrestler, I’m going to miss him a lot.” At that point, the Dee Jay cued a song that wasn’t a part of the script. It was The Who, “My Generation”

There was a pause for the moment that was mixed in with a bit of confusion, but lo and behold, there was Derek Epson or The Kid walking to the ring with the old man behind him. The house lost their minds and they were hugging Derek and kissing him with tears in their eyes. The screams were deafening as The Kid was very much alive; he slid into the ring and took the mic.

“Simon Hayes, only an underhanded coward would tell people that I was dead in order to weasel your way out of putting that championship title on the line! But surprise, surprise! I’m very much alive and I’m gonna kick your ass!”

While the people were on their feet screaming for The Kid to murder me, I looked over at the old man who gave me a wink and rubbed his fingers together. It was his way of telling me that this swerve was going to make money. The plan to keep me unaware was pure genius, I winked back at the old man and fell into character. For the next forty minutes, the kid and I had the house eating out of our hands. He was over, and he was pure gold, in the end, he got me in his signature suplex move and became the next Champion of the company.

That old bastard was three steps ahead of me after that meeting, this was the angle the whole time and I never saw it coming. I don't think he was expecting me to be so generous with my idea, but with this swerve of his, not only did he put his son over as the top face of his company, he simultaneously put me over as his number one heel.

“That was my way of thanking you for doing the favor,” the old man would tell me later that night.

The business isn’t what it used to be by today’s standards, but jobs done the right way with the right intentions are always repaid tenfold, especially when you have the vision to see the bigger picture.

No comments:

Post a Comment