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  1. #1

    The CF Underworld: Yo Adrian!

    I head

    down.

    Shocked beyond belief

    that this place—

    The CF Underworld—

    has opened to me again.

    “Shit. This place is a lot like Narnia.

    The older you get

    the more difficult it becomes

    to get back in.”

    Folks don’t know

    how many times

    I’ve tried

    to come back to this place

    beneath the CF.

    This Underworld where I

    searched for my soul

    and maybe,

    at other times,

    sold my soul.

    I’m not really sure,

    after one sells his soul,

    if he can ever get it back.

    Is that real enough

    entry

    back into this place?

    If the Underworld requires

    blood

    or

    sacrifice

    or

    loss

    or

    admission,

    is that enough?

    I’ve spent five years living low

    in the earth element dirt

    that I sunk my feet into.

    And every time I’ve tried to come back here

    to right some sort of wrong,

    I’ve felt like goddamn Lucy,

    showing Narnia to her siblings

    and seeing nothing but the cold-ass

    back

    of a wardrobe wall.

    And how is it,

    that I come back here,

    to bare my soul,

    (if one can bare a soul

    that he sold so long ago)

    and rather than stripping

    down

    this godforsaken Underworld

    has me layering up.

    For, the moment I came down here,

    I saw something I’ve not seen for some

    twenty-plus years.

    I see an Indiana Pacers jacket

    that I fought so hard to acquire.

    I was maybe in junior high

    and my favorite NBA player

    was Reggie Miller.

    And, goddamn, how do I even explain this?

    To have that jacket,

    would be like

    the kid in the grade higher than me

    who I looked up to.

    He had jackets like that.

    And the best shoes,

    and the best hats,

    and the best clothes.

    He would make fun of me,

    because I’d come back

    in a new school year

    with the same old K-Mart clothes

    from the year before.

    And when we started getting wrestling PPVs,

    making fun of me,

    turned to tormenting me.

    How could we have money

    enough for PPV

    but not for decent clothes.

    (He didn’t know

    the same mom

    who bought us PPV,

    even without the PPV,

    would not buy us clothes.

    She wanted us at home,

    separated from the world,

    and PPV was the price she paid

    to keep us in that homemade cage.)

    But something happened in junior high:

    I became more popular.

    And imagination?

    It’s not so popular.

    Isolation?

    It’s not so popular.

    Interiority?

    It’s not so popular.

    Popularity resides

    squarely

    in the material world.

    Popularity resides

    squarely

    in the visual.

    Popularity resides

    squarely

    in the external.

    And if I could simply

    get this Pacer jacket,

    I could wrap it around me,

    as evidence—

    material, visual, external—

    that the popularity that I now felt

    would continue around me

    to surround me

    for good.

    And goddammit

    I fought for that jacket.

    And goddammit

    I got that jacket.

    And goddammit

    I lost that jacket

    at either a Nitro

    or Fall Brawl event.

    (It’s cold in this Underworld as I tell this story.

    Suddenly I feel like I need a jacket again.)

    Here’s the thing, though.

    I am the most careful person in the world.

    I double and triple check

    everything.

    So how could it be

    that a jacket

    that I had to fight for,

    that symbolized so much,

    that was representation

    that I was finally popular,

    that I was more than imagination,

    isolation, an interiority,

    could so easily be lost

    and left behind?

    Perhaps, it’s this:

    that jacket represented a me

    that was never truly Me.

    That jacket represented

    seeing with my physical eye

    when, prior, all I ever saw with

    was an eye made for imagination.

    That jacket represented a popularity

    that would end up gone

    almost as fast

    as the jacket itself.

    You might say,

    in a postmodern world,

    of endless options,

    how can I say one me

    was not the real me

    and another Me

    was the real Me?

    I’d put it like this.

    One me tended towards the things

    I couldn’t keep up.

    I’ve never cared too much,

    paid too much attention,

    to the physical world.

    I used to be a man of imagination.

    By god, I used to be

    …a mystic.

    One me was a me

    I could never keep up.

    And the other Me

    is the Me

    I always was

    in default mode.

    That Me was the Me

    who spent every hour

    after school

    playing wrestling,

    making up wrestlers,

    exploring imagination,

    riding the power of affect,

    and felt sense,

    to tell stories

    that could bring a grown man

    to tears.

    That Me was sometimes lonely

    for the external world,

    but that Me

    always had Me

    always was Me

    as long as he privileged

    the world invisible.

    I’m walking holes in the underworld now.

    I’m walking circles,

    pacing,

    thinking,

    about another man,

    and another jacket.

    And how is it

    that the dead

    stand before me

    in this underworld?

    And how can I recognize a person,

    I’ve only seen in video,

    when his spirit

    stands in front of me?

    I can only explain it like this:

    when a man has swagger

    like Adrian Adonis has swagger

    and moves so smooth

    that

    Michaels and Hennig

    are asking

    him

    to teach

    them

    how to

    bump,

    one can recognize that swag

    in a spirt passed on.

    Adrian is watching me,

    but I’m not sure he can talk to me.

    Adrian is watching me,

    and I think it’s my time

    to tell his story.

    Adrian is watching me,

    so I will nervously tell you

    about how I’ve been watching

    Adrian.

    (Living Adrian, that is.

    Not this spirit

    that watches me now.)

    I’ve been watching his work

    in WWF

    for the podcast

    WWF: The Legacy Series.

    And Adrian Adonis

    has so impressed me

    with his graceful moves

    and his graceful mic work

    and how every intention

    seems so,

    well,

    intentional,

    that we recently did a special

    on Adrian Adonis.

    (He’s still watching,

    circling me. I guess

    I’ll keep talking.)

    I didn’t realize the deep relationship

    Adrian Adonis shared

    with Roddy Piper.

    And now I’m watching Piper’s Pit,

    from 1-11-1986

    and Vince McMahon

    has taken the man

    Adrian Adonis

    and stripped him

    of his leather jacket

    to put bows in his hair

    and make him

    “Adorable”

    Adrian.

    Needless to say,

    the gimmick wouldn’t fly today,

    and some say it’s homophobic

    through-and-through.

    Others say Adrian

    took a gimmick he didn’t want

    and made the best of it,

    made the most of it,

    treated it with more respect,

    at times,

    than one would have guessed

    in 1986.

    But Adrian had a coming out

    (more like a Vince McMahon

    pushing out)

    on that January day.

    It started with his manager,

    Jimmy Hart,

    running out on Piper’s Pit.

    Piper and Orton-Not-Randy

    are celebrating themselves

    but Jimmy declares:

    “Big surprises….

    Stepping out

    from behind your little set, baby,

    is the Adorable Adrian Adonis.

    The new Adrian Adonis, baby.”

    “The new Adrian?” repeats Piper.

    “I know the old Adrian,” says Piper, as if to himself.

    And here comes the new

    Adrian

    not yet prancing,

    and dancing,

    and flaunting himself.

    In fact,

    he comes out

    walking

    kind of stiff

    a leather jacket folded

    in his arms,

    as if to separate

    who he has been

    from who he is about

    to be

    required

    to become.

    Ever the journalist,

    after sitting Adrian down,

    Piper says, “You, uh,

    you got bows in your hair.”

    And here goes Adrian,

    although stiff,

    as soon as he speaks,

    the flamboyance flows.

    (Flamboyant as the spirit

    that floats around me,

    still allowing me to speak,

    still offering nothing in return.)

    “Let me tell you something,”

    says 86-Adonis,

    “I’ve been rough and tough

    and mean all my life.

    And I can wear

    exactly what I want.

    I did jump out of the closet

    and there was no brooms

    behind me.”

    Now, of course,

    Piper responds:

    “You jumped out of the closet?”

    “Definitely so. You understand

    I am from

    New York City.

    I can do

    exactly

    what I want.

    I feel so much

    like Adrian Adonis,

    with all this

    in my hair.

    This splendor.

    This charisma.

    And these

    beautiful

    colors.”

    And Piper asks, rather practically,

    “You wear that with your leather jacket?”

    “The leather jacket

    is going to be retired.

    This is a hall of famer.”

    As he says these words,

    Adrian passes the jacket

    into the arms of Roddy Piper,

    and this is a transition

    greater

    wider

    with reaching implications

    all the way

    to a couple of years

    before Roddy Piper

    passes away.

    But we aren’t there yet.

    Piper says, “Can I have it!?”

    And when Adrian says yes,

    Piper says, “I love you.

    Thank you.”

    And standing with Adrian,

    Piper continues to Adrian,

    “You are lovely.”

    What a moment

    in time.

    To sit back

    and watch

    two men

    who could literally

    shine shit

    shining it

    for Vince.

    Vince is trying to do

    a gay gimmick

    with a straight man

    because he’s Vince McMahon,

    and here’s two guys,

    who legit love each other

    but that is lost

    on Vince McMahon.

    Maybe it’s their matching

    charisma.

    Maybe it's

    knowing you and your friend

    can do it better

    than most others who try.

    Maybe it’s a bond

    that came outside the business.

    But Piper was a kid

    who never got to be

    a kid.

    And Adrian gave him advice…

    Wait.

    The spirit circles.

    Are you displeased?

    I ask,

    but I still don’t know

    if spirit Adrian

    can even respond.

    So,

    let me continue,

    “I don’t know why I’m in the underworld.

    I don’t know why it’s been so long

    since I’ve been let in.

    I don’t know why,

    when I’m finally let back in,

    when I want to talk about

    selling my soul

    and needing desperately

    to get it back,

    instead,

    the underworld has me talking

    about the Pacers

    and Piper’s pit

    and jackets

    made of friendship

    and jackets

    made of leather.

    I also don’t know why

    in a promo that began a gimmick

    that you yourself did not want to do,

    you said that you feel so much

    like Adrian.

    Did you?

    Do you?

    I…

    “Listen,”

    says the spirit of Adonis,

    and he bucks up his spirit chest

    like he used to do his Dusty-Rhodes-looking upper body.

    “You know these answers, Mystic.

    At least, the you you were before you ceased to be you

    would.”

    I am rocked back

    by the spirit

    and its response.

    I offer a weak,

    Maybe so…

    But, Adrian,

    I continue.

    I can’t quite put it together.

    Not yet.

    “Oh, really?”

    Really.

    “Really?”

    Really.

    I mean,

    I think,

    really.

    “Funny, Mystic.

    Because this is not the only underworld

    where I’ve appeared before a living man.

    I happen to know that you know

    what happened to Roddy and I.

    I happen to know that you wrote about it,

    and you cried over your own notes.

    Don’t tell me that’s not a man

    whose at ends meet with himself.

    If you won’t get the message,

    you used-to-be Mystic,

    let me spell it out for you.

    I gave away my jacket,

    as I gave away myself.

    And just because you had twenty-plus years

    between junior high

    and that day in the CF

    where you ceased to fly,

    built your life in earth dirt,

    doesn’t mean that

    you didn’t once give away a jacket,

    and sure as shit,

    you are right,

    five years ago,

    you gave away your soul.”

    I want to say…something,

    but he continues.

    “You can come back for round two

    or you can walk away lost.

    At your age,

    it’s really nobody’s

    loss.

    But take it from a man

    who died at 33.

    If someone would tap Adrian on the shoulder

    and say, ‘Next man up.’

    You can bet

    you would find me

    wherever I could go

    to find that reunion

    between man and his soul.”

  2. #2
    The Brain
    Join Date
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    990
    I knew this weighed on your mind, but I didn't expect that weight to drop you back into the Underworld after so much time away. Such is the power of TLS, of unexpected treasures unearthed, eh? The story of Adonis hurts in a way that the old hurts aren't capable anymore, because 30+ years on it's all fresh for us. That bit about the jacket really got me, when we talked about it on air and then all over again with more details added here. The fact that he wore that jacket for pretty much the rest of his life is a huge testament, and he even passed it (or it's close cousin) onto to Ronda Rousey, so the legacy of Adonis lives on in a very real way. Hall of fame worthy indeed.

    I dug up this comment on Adonis from days past in the Heenan series:

    Watching back the guy looks like a goddam crusader for gay rights. If you want to turn it even more on it’s head, you could argue he’s even more progressive because he shows you can be both proudly gay and a jerk, separately. I feel like Adonis is quietly becoming a very layered character, even if the crux of the angle remains the ugly “boo this man because he’s gay and cross-dresses”, though did I not perhaps hear some cheers mixed in with that TNT crowd?
    I don't know exactly what I think of that thought now, but I think there's at least a kernel of truth in it. He owned the gimmick so fearlessly. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to the guy all too soon, I know that for sure.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the feedback. I didn't want to get too deep on that issue, because there is always someone to come along and say that whatever given isn't good enough, and I don't feel like having that conversation. I will say, though, towards the quote you provided: I think that is damn astute. I agree completely with this: "Watching back the guy looks like a goddam crusader for gay rights. If you want to turn it even more on it’s head, you could argue he’s even more progressive because he shows you can be both proudly gay and a jerk, separately. I feel like Adonis is quietly becoming a very layered character..." I wonder if part of it was that he was a professional and just did his job to the best of his abilities. I wonder if part of it was he cared about not portraying the subject matter (whether out of respect for himself or the gay community) in a bad light. Sadly, I also wonder if he believed, as is speculated, that if he did what Vince asked, and did it to the best of his ability, he would later be rewarded by being able to be who he was and wanted to be. We know the last part would never come true and, sadly, even if indirectly, that is part of what will send him on the road to passing away at 33.

    The Rousey comment matters. This series will demonstrate that Adonis has lived on with the people who knew him. If we don't know him or don't want to know him or only wait until WWE hof narratives to know someone, that shame is on us. I seek to bring out how much this man has done, in his life and death, without ever having the benefit of the WWE machine on his side.

    Imagination + creativity + courage to execute.

    Something like that.

    It lives on.

    I'm starting to think the person who births it into the world may well pay a negative price for it, as it's almost always outside of popular narrative.

    But to make a mark.

    To love and be loved.

    To inspire and change lives.

    Adonis did it.

    in 33 years.

    and after.
    Last edited by Mystic; 2 Weeks Ago at 09:52 PM.

  4. #4
    Man, enjoyed the writing of this from start to finish. Your own personal story really led into the story of a man and his clothes, a man and the way the world perceives him, a man and his pride. As for what connected Piper and Adrian I believe it's what connects me to my friends: pride in their work and their enjoyment of their vices.

    Adrian was a proud man. I believe when he had that gimmick, he felt he had the best personality on the show.


    And how about 1986 for fucking good story-telling. How about the way Adrian gave up that jacket before putting on the dress. Good shit! Same year as Orndorf/Hogan and Savage/George Steele. Man, what a fucking good year for story-telling!

  5. #5
    Man, the impression I got, too: "Adrian was a proud man." There is something about this that inspires me. He's not looking for anyone to do it for him, he is making the best of his situation. Yet, sadly, it never amounts to what I truly believe he saw and visualized, which is himself as a world champion.

    Agree about the storytelling. This coming week, mizfan and I will be getting into the Orndorff/Hogan feud. It's a great time, with many great legacies.

    thanks for feeding.

  6. #6
    LOP Freebirds Buddy Roberts SirSam's Avatar
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    Australia
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    Mate, I have never heard of this story or segment before but I really want to search it out now it sounds like they almost took it as a challenge to get this absurd, boderline offensive gimmick Adrian was handed over. Of course Vince didn't pitch or create it that way but by the way you wrote it the character seems to be well before its time in the mainstream media.

    Also the way you write is so raw and emotive, it takes a little getting used to the formatting and stream of conscious style but once I got into it I was hooked. As someone who has only read these two of your pieces I really hope I get to experience some more.

  7. #7
    Sam,

    Thank you for your comments. This writing can definitely take some getting used to. Thank you for working through that. If real life allows this series to take place, I hope you will find it's worth it at the end.

    here is the video I covered:



    Here is one where Adrian comes out as gay. Which is staggering, in that, 10 years later, WWF will go the opposite way with Goldust, who will eventually say he's not gay, that he's only behaving like that for psychological gain.


  8. #8
    The Brain
    Join Date
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    That second video is the one that prompted my Heenan series comments on Adrian. I like that he owns it. It's bolder than the Goldust thing, and though both have their ugly side, it somehow seems less problematic to simply go full bore. He really seems to be saying, I'm gay and if you have a problem with that, it's your problem.

  9. #9
    I think my brother sent me that video long before we were doing WWF: TLS. Definitely far and away bolder than Goldust.

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