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For a brief time after high school, Chris attended the Summit Career College in Colton, studying video editing and graphic design. He eventually dropped out and since then has held a series of minimum-wage jobs, including his dream gig at the Pro Wrestling Shop, which has since gone out of business. He currently works at the photo counter of a Walgreens in San Bernardino.
A couple of months ago, I met Chris at the Frank & Sons collectible show in the City of Industry, where vendors sold Rawhide Kid comic books, sci-fi memorabilia, Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and Kobe Bryant bobble-head dolls. Clustered around two dozen faux-wood picnic tables sat the real geeks, a covey of kids in thick glasses who rolled 20-sided dice and opened fresh packs of Magic: The Gathering cards. One hundred feet away, behind a curtain, a ring was set up for an event sponsored by Revolution Pro, a small local fed. Chris greeted me looking like a member of a nü-metal band, his hair knotted into three dozen small braids.
The contenders in this afternoon’s matches were older-looking, though former backyarders such as Andre Verdun and Scorpio Sky were also on the bill. Chris requested that I not mention them by name. As they wend their way through the pro ranks, they’re trying to put some distance between themselves and their backyard pasts. A wrestler named Street Style entered the ring, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” playing over the PA.
Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment Would you capture it or just let it slip?
Chris sat on the sidelines in a T-shirt emblazoned with one of Revolution Pro’s slogans: “You can kill a revolutionary but you can never kill a revolution.”
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
Chris brought abstractly comic signs to cheer on the locals: “Gallinero is Pete Rose”; “Quicksilver is the best thing since confetti.” He verbally taunted each of the wrestlers as they entered the ring. “You’re a real meanie,” he said to Andre Verdun, currently wrestling with Revolution Pro as Lonestar. Andre was not so gentle, grabbing and hurling Chris back into his chair — winks exchanged, smiles on both of their faces.
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment You own it, you better never let it go You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
Since the height of the backyard days, Chris hasn’t wrestled much. I ask him if he’s retired yet. He looked at me as if I were nuts. “I’m just waiting for someone to book me!” If that doesn’t happen, and it probably won’t, Chris has just one regret about his career in the squared circle: “When you tell people you wrestle, they assume you wear tights.”
“It’s the one and only Mr. Fantastic here,” went the message. “I’m at the body shop getting my car worked on, and I was looking at one of the magazines I had. It had that Avril Lavigne in it. That really hot chick that wears the tie. The skater girl.”
You might know the storybook ending to Lavigne’s life: She began singing gospel and country music in church and at state fairs in her native Ontario, then switched to a more mainstream pop style when she moved to Los Angeles. The hits started coming when Lavigne assumed the identity of a punky, suburban everygirl. Real life doesn’t work like that.
Chris’ message continued: “I was thinking, ‘Dude, I gotta call Alec so he can get that piece about me out so that chick can find out I want her bad. And she can fall in love with me when she meets me and yadda yadda yadda.’ Life goes on, right? And happily ever after . . . Something like that.”
Yes, Mr. Fantastic, something like that.