Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Ricky Ortiz Nearly Killed Us (Twice)

A lot of people have been asking for road stories from the CWE trip. Trouble is, there are too many of them, even once you weed out the inappropriate ones. In seven days, I got seven months worth of stories.

There were some classic moments(*). All of the stories deserve to be told.

Whether they WILL be told is another matter.

But here's one to start with. In accordance with my "I Try To Make No One Look Stupid Other Than Myself" (**) policy towards blog stories, I've changed the names of the men involved and tried to leave out any identifying details.

So without further ado, I present to you the story I call:


Dory was driving the van. Bruno was in the front passenger seat. And neither of them was getting along.

The disagreement had started over one of the most sacrosanct of wrestling's time-honored road traditions: the Wrestling Name Game. The point of contention was Dory playing the name 'Ricky Ortiz.'

"Ricky Ortiz!" Bruno sputtered. "You can't use Ricky Ortiz. You gotta use guys that were in the Fed."

"Ricky Ortiz WAS in the Fed," Dory protested (***).

"Yeah, for two minutes. We need guys who have been in the fed for at least THREE MINUTES."

"He was in the World Wrestling Federation," Dory said. "He was on ECW."

"Yeah, but is he in the WWE Encyclopedia?" Bruno demanded.

The rest of us huddled in the back of the van and waited to see how it would play out. They didn't come to an agreement, but eventually the game continued.

Later, perhaps as a peace offering, Bruno offered to relieve Dory from behind the wheel.

I can't speak for everyone, but I was nervous at this prospect. We were in the winterlands of northern Manitoba. Bruno was from Florida, via New York. And these were not good roads.

Dory looked hesitant, but he was tired, and no one else was volunteering to take over.

He agreed, pulled over, and he and Bruno switched places.

There is some debate over what happened next. Here is my recollection:

Second One: Bruno puts the van into gear and slides away from the side of the road.

Second Two: The van starts to slide towards the center. Bruno over-corrects sending us towards the ditch.

Second Three: Dory reaches over from the passenger seat and steadies the steering wheel.

Second Four: Bruno says, "I got it man."

Second Five: Something starts dinging. Bruno says, "What's That?"

Second Six: Dory says: "You need to put on your seatbelt."

Second Seven: Bruno reaches for his seatbelt. As he drags it across his body, he swerves the van to the right.

Second eight: The van goes into the ditch with a hearty FWOOMPF.

We were stuck for about a half-hour before we were able to be on our way, and that should have been the end of the story, except that the promoter, wondering what the delay was.

BRUNO: Tell them we had to stop so I could take a shit
DORY: We got stuck in a ditch..No, Bruno was driving.

Bruno was beside himself: "I told you to tell him I was taking a shit! You don't stooge out one of the boys like that to the head office! Also...RICKY FUCKING ORTIZ?!?"

Tensions were running high between Bruno and Dory for the rest of the day, mostly because they were being egged on by the rest of the crew. Wrestlers (and wrestling announcer/comedian/buddhist/salsa dancer/writers)are natural shit disturbers and can't pass a fire without throwing gasoline on it, just to see what will happen.

At one point, Dory's brother, Terry, joined the fray ("Hey, Bruno. Heard you guys ended up in the ditch this afternoon. What happened?"), which wouldn't be important, except for what happened next.

After the show, we all piled into the vans and started the four hour drive back to our hotel. For reasons which are a story on of its own but too involved to go into here (short version: Everybody was annoyed with a particular individual who is not a part of this story and didn't want to ride with him), a musical chairs-esque switch of seating arrangements occurred leaving Bruno travelling in a different van from Dory, Terry, myself, and several others.

Terry was driving. Dory was in the front passenger seat.

Less than fifteen minutes out of town, karma made its move.

Terry, who had taken such delight in Bruno's misfortune, was driving dangerously close to the side of the road.

DORY: Hey, Terry, maybe you should drive on the road.
TERRY: I am driving on the---

For the second time in less than twenty-four hours, Dory's van--through no fault of his own--was in the ditch.

We clambered out of the van and starting pushing. All except Dory, who slid into the driver's seat to steer.

That's how the other van found us. The van carrying Bruno.

Bruno sized up the situation--the van hopelessly buried in the ditch, six members of the crew freezing by roadside, and most importantly, Dory sitting dejectedly in the driver's seat.

Before his van even came to complete stop, he burst out the passenger door in an explosion of trash talk. I've never seen a man so delighted at another's misfortune.

Have you ever seen an Ed Hardy-wearing 230 pound Italian-American dance a jig of unbridled glee on a northern Manitoba roadside by the light of a stuck van's headlight beams?

Me neither. But I'll tell you something. It was damn close.

(*) I got to train with wrestlers! In the ring! I did squats and pushups and three-quarters of a bump (I was supposed to land on my back; I made it as far around as my head before gravity drove me noggin-first into the ring canvas.)!

(**) Remind me to tell the story of the time Heavy Metal half-succesfully convinced me a cell phone photo of a plume of smoke from a Flin Flon Factory was a "Snow Tornado."

(***) For those of you wondering, Dory's right. For Your Fact Checking Pleasure

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