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In Germany, we call it das Venderpunkt, Otto Von Evil told us backstage. In Germany, he wrestled as Massaker, which translated to Massacre, which was a better name as far as I was concerned, but the powers that be call it like they see it.
The term in question was a heel turn, which was precisely what Otto was set up to do that night, after playing friendly foreign emissary the preceding match, he’d attack the champ at the end of the show, wave the German flag, announce his intentions to take the world title to Germany, then start choking out the champ with the flag until Cowboy and I made the run in to chase him off. We’d each work a series of dates, losing to Otto until the fans were ready to buy him as a world title contender, at which point the champ would give him his comeuppance and blow off the rivalry just before Otto’s work visa expired and he went back to Europe.
Punked is right, Cowboy muttered, soft enough Otto and most of the boys crowded around him couldn’t hear, but I could. A year ago I’d be the one whooping him.
Two years ago, Cowboy may have been right, before his hip surgery, before he visibly lost a step. Before the leg drop he hit wrong—the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back—Cowboy was a top guy. But when he did get back, he had become the old guy who young guys beat up to build their own legends. Me and Cowboy started tag teaming sometimes, occupying a similar spot on the on the card, he on his way down, me on my way up, both of us recognizable names, but neither of us to be taken seriously in a big match scenario.
Otto went on. Talking about Karl Gotch, the original German superstar who had invented the German Suplex, albeit on Japanese soil. How Gotch was the ideal German wrestlers aspired to, the way Americans looked up to Hulk Hogan or Steve Austin.
Remember this, kid, Cowboy said. When you’re on top, there’s going to be a fall. There’s always someone coming up behind you.
It was the first time anyone ever said I might be on top one day.
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