You remember Buddy Showtime, or maybe you're thinking of Val Venis. Or maybe Vinnie Vegas. One of those big guys during the mid-90s with more swagger than talent. But yeah, he was around for years and didn't completely suck. Finished with an irish whip that he pulled back into a f'n brutal short-arm clothesline. Yeah, laugh it up, but the fans went apeshit for it. Called it the Ol' 1-2-3 because he'd tease it twice before finally hitting. And he only almost broke a dude's collarbone once. OK, twice but the second time was in Japan*.
Buddy got some legit midcard heat but never seemed to get the big titles. Still, he never got fired, which is weird for a dude who liked to party like Buddy Showtime did. I mean, this was back when he'd show up at ten AM with a 12-pack and an eightball and he wouldn't stop unless there was a match in the way. Weird how he was never the one that got busted at the border.
Buddy hit his peak in ninety five-six-seven, he had the asshole Vegas Lounge Singer/Game Show Host patter down pat, like a PG-13 Dice Clay. Never quite using four letter words, but even the twelve-year-olds knew that he was into some seriously rank shit. And there is nothing that a certain type of twelve-year old looks for in a role model more than an interest in seriously rank shit. You could set your watch: the kid in the Buddy Showtime t-shirt would be stealing your hubcaps in eighteen months. But then came ninety eight.
Now you have to understand, it was never formally diagnosed, but Buddy either had a very small aneurysm or a very large overdose or possibly either both at once. Some people claim he told 'em he saw God, some people claim he told 'em he saw an infinite string of strip malls overflowing with human teeth like an open tic-tac box but, long story short, he missed a pay-per-view. And he was very quietly and very firmly told not to bother finishing out the rest of the tour. We'll call you.
And Buddy, as has been established, was not stupid. This meant he knew they wouldn't. This also meant he could do math. This meant that he knew that the people to whom he gave duffel bags full of small unmarked bills would expect another one next month. And without steady income, small unmarked bills are hard to come by. Especially since the bulk of that steady income depended on his having access to locker rooms full of large, poorly-educated men who wished to feel differently than they did.
Fortunately, the large, poorly educated men still liked him (unlike those assholes in the front office) so he called up Sarge and asked if he was still training wannabes. And he called up Father Thanatos and asked him if his cousin still had that mattress store off the interstate he was trying to sell.
And so was born the Buddy Showtime Conservatory of Violent Arts. Bookers knew that when you hired a Buddy Showtime man, he would know how to work the mic, would show up on time, and suddenly the rest of the locker room would start looking a bit larger, wider awake, and less likely to complain about their bad knees, backs and marriages. And the Buddy Showtime graduates were the only ones who didn't start asking for they pay in advance.
Buddy Showtime was sitting pretty until 2008 when that fucking TV show wrecked everything. Goddamn dad from Malcolm in the Middle.
Still, at least by then, he was mostly out of hock: he'd given up the eightballs, and only the twelve-packs remained.
And even without the sideline, there was a derelict mattress store full of young hopefuls. It was time, he decided, to start bringing the rest of the rookies when the next one got a deal.
The rest is history.
*Yeah, of course he went to Japan: he wasn't stupid. Even got his ass kicked by Moonlight Nishioka the month before he got elected to the Diet. He even got residuals for a while when footage from the fight was used in Nishioka's reelection campaign TV commercials.