Minutiæ



Strength2.13

On the Wanted Man

by

To hear World Wide Wrestling Foundation co-owner Rocky Tandem tell it, Renegade  Jones is more legend than man. “We were working down in Florida for the “Imma Make You Cry-ou in the Bayou” main event, when all of a sudden this six-foot-eight monster in a black leather trench coat and snakeskin fedora peels off one of the venue doors and walks down the ramp during our tag team championship match.”

“Normally, making a big entrance is part of the job,” says Scott ‘FlyBoy’ Biacceli, who was in the ring that night in Florida. “You hear the commotion, see the fog come out of the vents and the crowd goes wild. I didn’t think anything of it until I looked up and realized it was nobody I’d ever seen before, and he was coming right at me.” Documented footage tells the rest of the story. Renegade slipped in under the bottom rope like a seasoned professional and immediately locked in with Rodnay ‘2Sweet’ Hutchins, a longtime tag team wrestler and partner of FlyBoy.

“He was a master that night,” smirks FlyBoy. “He knew all the moves. Except… he actually did them. It wasn’t an act.” In less than three seconds, Renegade dispatches 2Sweet with an uppercut, followed by a massive leg drop, before moving on to FlyBoy and the two other wide-eyed goons in the tag team match. Fifteen seconds later, all four wrestlers are incapacitated, and Renegade is forcing third year referee Mike Davies to slap the mat. After less than a full minute, Renegade marches out of the arena, tag team belt in hand.

“And just like that he was gone,” owner Tandem recalls. “The crowd went absolutely bonkers, and everyone was scrambling to figure out what the hell just happened so that we could make it a part of the narrative, but honestly I wasn’t sure that I’d ever see Renegade or that belt again.”

Two weeks later, at Tulsa’s “Pain in the Plains” marquee night, it was revealed that notorious villain Duke Hazard had tied up Christy Ratchet and suspended her from the ceiling over the ring. An unending stream of boos came from the audience, but there was no one to help the muscly damsel.

Suddenly, the arena’s lights went out. While the tech crew scrambled to power up the BOK Center, a sudden surge brought a flickering promo video to the Jumbotron. Professionally cut, the video featured Renegade Jones dragging tree trunks together to build a wrestling ring. When his name slapped onto the screen in dripping blood, the frenzied fans nearly tore the Tulsa roof. The previously mysterious man had a name as dangerous as his actions. “We were scratching our heads figuring out how this video got made or who gave him that name. But it’s him. It’s all him.”

When the lights returned, Renegade had made his way to center ring with a metal ladder. The fans went wild as Renegade mercilessly beat Hazard with the ladder, then scaled it to retrieve Ratchet. He whispered something in her ear, and after the match she claimed to now be married to Renegade, although she hasn’t seen him since.

“I just wish we had some way of getting in contact with him,” says Tandem. “Our ratings are through the roof and we’d like to negotiate a contract, but he doesn’t have any known address that we’re aware of. I’ve heard he doesn’t even have fingerprints. The only correspondence we’ve received have been a series of VHS tapes that show Renegade standing inside a ring of fire, or in a back alley somewhere, shouting promises about matches that are better than anything our writers have thought up yet.”

The confusion and frenzy came to a head last week at Boppbopp Arena for the annual “February to Dismember” event. Fans, wrestlers and promoters were on edge, hopeful that Renegade would show. But as the night crawled on without a sign of the mystery wrestler, the fans and performers loosened into their usual show routine. There were chairs and tables, catcalls and bad refs, but no Renegade.

As fans got up to leave after Handsome Mark Prime’s intercontinental championship win, there was an audible whisper about what might have kept Renegade away. Those whispers quickly turned to concerned calls as arena staff realized that every exit had been padlocked shut. In the haunting moments that followed, the hollow opening refrain of Styx’s 1979 hit “Renegade” began echoing through the corridors. There, center ring, stood Renegade Jones. Stripped to the waist and already sweating, Renegade demanded that every single pro wrestler in the arena take him on before the padlocks would be removed.

For the first hour, there were no takers, but the audience didn’t mind. Renegade filled the time by scowling, flexing his muscles, and cracking two beers over his head and throwing them to loving fans.

Eventually, still smarting from his previous loss, Rodnay ‘2Sweet’ Hutchins took the challenge. He had barely climbed into the ring before Renegade dispatched him with his signature Lonely Walk move, where the prostrate opponent is bicycle-kicked into submission. Another wrestler stepped forward, then more and more, arriving in waves that might hope to overwhelmed the unknown wrestler. Nothing worked. Soon, all that was left was WWWF co-owner Rocky Tandem.

Then Renegade turned to Tandem, who had taken shelter in the rafters of the Boppbopp Arena. When he noticed Renegade climbing after him, Tandem made his way for the skylight of the arena – his only escape. According to witnesses, Tandem, with the early lead, reached the skylight first and lunged for the opening. Renegade, barely a step behind, took the same leap but came up short, his bloodied hands catching nothing but air as he fell. Tandem slid through the skylight to the open night air as Renegade plunged more than seventy feet to an open corner of the mat below. It crushed and buckled under the impact, pulling much of the mat down into the crater Renegade left.

Hours later, after police had managed to cut the doors, rescuers began peeling back the rubble surrounding Renegade’s fall and prepared to take him into custody. Except, he wasn’t there. The crews spent all night pacing through Boppbopp Arena, from the suites to the basement, but Renegade never surfaced. All that’s been found of the shadowy figure is a VHS tape, queued up in the booth. The tape shows the fearsome wrestler walking alone on a desolate road, with a sign in the distance that reads Detroit: 345 miles. As the refrain from “Renegade” plays underneath, the man himself pauses in the dust. A screeching electric guitar rips in, right on cue, and Renegade turns to the camera, doffs his snakeskin fedora, and continues on towards the horizon. Christy Ratchet, not pregnant before her brief encounter with the legend, named her son Renegade Jr. nine months later. ♦