No Way Out
Cow Palace, Daly City, California. Brock bouncing in confidence, blood completely cold, like a predator waiting to feed on helpless prey. Eddie rolls up at 5’9”, always short of it, arms nowhere near long enough to touch legends. The pyro illuminates the dark stadium. But even the crackles fail to fill the silence. Eddie comes out next—Viva la Raza—sending 11,000 into a frenzy as Eddie drives out in a lowrider, bouncing. He stares into a crowd of packed bodies screaming his name, sign after sign, seal all the gaps between necks; there’s no room for movement but always room to get louder as Eddie inhales puffs of cheers as he stands on the second rope waving at a sea of brown bodies some of which can’t understand a lick of English from Taz and Michael Cole, but they know Eddie. They know that hometown boy who’s become a symbol for Latinidad all throughout the States.
Brock manhandles him.
Eddie’s smiling and going back for more and Brock Lesnar isn’t someone you beat but someone you try to survive and the initial onslaught is projection after projection of Eddie’s flailing corpse as his lifeless body dances from corner to corner, thrown life a stone bouncing as it skims the ring floor and every rally from Eddie is hardly enough, just a pause that Brock barely notices.
Brock is dominating the match, rag-dolling our hopes and dreams while we scoot to the edge of the couch. Still, the crowd won’t stop nebulizing their dreams and feeding them in every chant to Eddie and his own optimism rallies as Eddie works the knee, chopping down the big man and punishing him with submission after submission and Brock is weakening but not nearly enough.
Reversal. Brock’s spinebuster makes even Grandpa’s body tremble.
Grandpa’s mumbling under his breath a prayer that I can never make out but I know is his last resort and Moms is yelling at the TV like somehow her voice will travel hundreds of miles through electromagnetic signals and into Eddie’s ear and Uribe is reminding us that wrestling is fake and none of this means anything and Grandpa turns and raises a finger to his lips and tells Uribe you don’t have to be here, you can leave and turns back to continue investing every ounce of himself in this violent dance, and Abe smiles at me and tells me it doesn’t matter if it’s rehearsed or if the winner is decided hours before the show.
It’s real to us.
Not because we convince ourselves it is, but because when Brock yells You’re nothing we’ve heard it thousands of times before and his voice sounds like a combination of all the ones we’ve heard but when Eddie yells:
It’s a rallying call that reminds us we are far from alone and Brock has Eddie cinched at the waist and it’s impossible not to find our way back to the promo leading up to No Way Out. Brock Lesnar hits Eddie with the same rhetoric we all grew up with, talking about us stealing jobs from people who work harder when it’s our people out in fields in 100°+ weather, in your kitchens getting rheumatoid arthritis from cooking all your meals por que todos quieren ser Latinos pero les falta sazon so our people get paid half as much to double up the flavor in your bland American cuisine and Brock Lesnar is the American Dream or at least the way we’ve come to see it with the perfect blonde hair, the blue eyes, and the boy is big, scary big like the kids that tell you to run on home to Mexico when you step into the sundown parts of town and the crowd goes silent when Eddie raises the mic to his always smiling face, congratulating Brock on some well spun words, Eddie le dice pa que hacernos menos vamos a decirlo al chile, let’s tell it straight up, Eddie is an addict, back in Minnesota a couple years back he was so damn high that he had to be carried out the arena and straight into rehab (true story) but Eddie knows it wasn’t someone else’s fault, it was his, losing his job, his wife, his kids, losing himself, his spirit. He openly says he disgraced his race while the crowd’s eyes well with no means of slowing, our own eyes at home cascading, pooling salt water in the living room, and Eddie knows it isn’t a journey that anyone can handle. It’s a trial he’s faced and reached the other side, and that title isn’t just a title, it’s an apology to his family, a promise of a better life and education for his kids.
His new addiction.
He’s addicted to the high from us at home, the high from telling his family he’s doing everything and more, and the high from telling people who don’t believe in someone like him they can shove their doubts up their ass. He’s addicted to the do-or-die that he won’t ever give up, but he’s not Brock Lesnar.
Eddie is an addict.
Which means he’ll do anything and run over anyone to get that title around his waist and get his high to become the WWE Champion iÓRALE, VATO! The mic smacks down against the ring floor and Eddie heads to the back as the crowd becomes deafening chanting his name, never turning back around to stare at the WWE’s perfect champion ‘cause he doesn’t see him as a threat, not anymore.
Not when he’s fighting for more than just himself.
In the ring, Eddie spreads his arms wide and the crowd yells his name like it’s a cathartic release of their own agonies. Eddie twirls his fingers as the crowd reinvigorates his fighting spirit, thousands of bodies pressing against one another, gritos filling the arena chanting Eddie’s name as tears infuse saliva at the contour of quivering lips, each person in the crowd edging towards the ring, testing the absolute limits of foam barricades alongside their own anticipation, and he’s reversing Brock’s moves, hitting an immaculate head scissor and Brock cuts it all down with a single F5 that accidentally knocks down the ref and Brock sees a golden opportunity to use the title belt to beat down Eddie further and Moms is agonizing now, watching everything Eddie worked for turn cold, but the crowd sees things we can’t see at home as Goldberg comes running down the ramp, screams so deafening the speakers can’t seem to replicate, and Goldberg spears Lesnar to set up a future match between two big hosses, but it doesn’t matter because Brock is down and Eddie is crawling over and the crowd can feel it and the crowd can taste it and Eddie drapes his body over Lesnar’s and Grandpa is holding his hands close, clenching his own negative thoughts, squeezing them sealed, doing everything he can to avoid thinking Eddie won’t win and Grandpa wants to believe, more than anything he wants to believe, but we’ve all been here before and it’s never one of us, we always come up close but never enough to win big and Grandpa spent his whole life fighting for more than enough and he’s always kept quiet, doing everything he can to avoid reliving how a migrant worker in a bracero program would get stripped clean and doused in DDT, how the insecticide penetrated the skin, the kerosene baths to kill the lice all Mexicans were expected to carry by border agents, and how he’d work his skin off in every field that would take him but his legal status was always an issue even for his own people because it’s easy to say Mexican pride when you really mean only legal citizens, but when Eddie said it, Grandpa didn’t hear it any octave short of sincere, and the ref counts one-two-KICKOUT!
It’s not enough.
Eddie sees the gold and for Mr. Lie-Cheat-Steal it’s everything he’s used before to win and he measures Lesnar and Eddie swings, but Brock ducks and drops Eddie to his knees and Brock is about to hit the F-5 and with the F-5 he’ll seal away all of our ambitions once again and Eddie reverses it into a ddt, a ddt of our own design, right into the title belt and Taz is chanting Eddie cheated and we’re all hushing him even if we know sound doesn’t travel by TV and we’ve made fun of Moms enough about it, we still all do it and we watch Eddie climb the top rope like he’s ascending to his throne and he flies like a quetzal across the ring hitting an elegant frog splash as the blue-shirted referee palms the mat, each second pulling breath further and further out of our lungs, the crowd screaming in unison ONE-TWO-THREE as Eddie Guerrero rolls his entire body over the ref and launches his entire self into the crowd hugging the people that have urged him forward every step of the way and Eddie runs to his mother and brother, hugs them tight. Grandpa smiles at me, tells me how difficult it is to believe sometimes, tells me it’s natural to doubt but that we need to rally even when a Brock is beating us down, how Eddie never quits. How Latino Heat courses through all our veins. I smile as I tell Grandpa I never doubted Eddie, even now after both Eddie and Grandpa have passed, and I remember how a generational talent that had an entire state flooding Toys R Us parking lots for his action figures, created seas of bodies in vast emptiness, how they waited to just watch him pass by, how a brother held his sibling on his shoulders just high enough for Eddie to turn to see him, point, and wink, in that kid’s heart he knew.
Eddie was telling him, on Sunday at the PPV the championship would finally be coming home.
Alberto Saldaña Uribe is an MFA student with an emphasis in Poetry at Fresno State where he serves as the current Senior Poetry Editor for The Normal School. He has also served as an editorial assistant for the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. Find him on instagram @titioso98.
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