Title: RAIN CITY
Featuring: Rain City Ronin
Date: 3/26/2021
Location: THE DOJO, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, U.S.A.

“My name is Rocko Daymon, and I am a heroin addict.”

♫ “Old Black” by Earth ♫

We’re in The Dojo Wrestling Academy in Seattle, Washington. It’s after business hours, but the building isn’t unoccupied. We find a dozen or so men and women seated in folding chairs arranged in a circle. Most of them have physical builds that would imply careers in the field of sports or athletics. All of them bear somber expressions. It’s a familiar scene.

Rocko Daymon:
I’ve been sober now for four years and eight months, and doing well. The battle staying clean has been easier as time goes by, but as all of us know by now, that battle never really ends. It just hardens us like stone, day after day… 

The man speaking has an ancient face tempered by years of struggle and trauma. He’s got more gray in his dark brown hair than a man of forty-four should probably have. As he speaks, Rocko Daymon’s eyes are lost in a thousand-yard stare.

Rocko Daymon:
Been doing meetings like this for a couple years now, and I’m glad to see you all continuing to come in, for better or worse, and share your stories and experiences. That’s the purpose of these support groups of ours… to understand that none of us is truly alone in this world, and we all have that basic human empathy to look out for one another in the worst of times.

Someone else is in the room, leaning against a support pillar near the gym entrance. He’s clearly not a part of the circle, but watches the proceedings from afar in respectful silence.

Rocko Daymon:
We all know that nobody ever plans on becoming an addict. It’s just a consequence of the lifestyle we put ourselves through. I know in my time, I was pushing myself so hard to stay on top, all the damage I was doing to myself simply pushed me into finding something to cope with the pain. But looking back after all these years, I sometimes think that I was more addicted to the need to be seen and respected, long before I picked up the junk.

Something gets Kerry’s attention: There’s a display case hanging near the entrance, a “wall of fame” displaying various replica championship belts, titles, trophies, and awards accumulated by Dojo alumni through the years. But he looks past these articles of success to take in a series of framed photos hung on the backboard.

Rocko Daymon:
So for those of you who are new tonight, why don’t I share my story, and bring you up to speed...

Kerry looks over the first photo. A much younger looking Daymon stands in wrestling gear alongside a similarly aged Japanese man, locking hands and flashing smiles as they smile to the camera. They look fit and appear wearing wrestling gear, and there’s clearly a teacher-student dynamic between the two of them. The Japanese man’s other hand grips the shoulder of a boy standing at his side, perhaps six or seven years of age. The gesture and the obvious resemblance between the two would indicate we’re looking at a father and son.

Rocko Daymon:
I began my professional wrestling career back in ‘98. Some of you may remember what the industry was like back in those days. Hardcore wrestling was all the rage. Everything was blood and violence. It didn’t matter if you could lock in a hold or had any actual technique, so long as you could beat someone else over the head with a chair. It’s a shame, considering how much potential I had to define a career as a legitimate professional wrestler. I had all the tools and training I needed at my disposal, but at the time, climbing the mountain of fame and success required giving and receiving the kind of pain and punishment the human body isn’t meant to take in excess.

Kerry looks over another photo, taken years later. Daymon is backstage at some event long forgotten, clad in gear and glazed in sweat and blood after a battle in the ring. His first earned World Heavyweight Championship is draped over one arm. The other arm is slung over the shoulders of the same Japanese man, who now looks considerably lighter and anemic. He’s clearly suffering from some sickness, but nevertheless beams with pride as he poses with his former student, now a champion. The same boy, now a young teenager, is standing nearby off to the side. It’s obvious by now that the boy is Kerry.

Rocko Daymon:
Seems really stupid, that I would even willingly put myself through that. Especially given what so many others were unwillingly put through, just for the crime of existing. And all just because I needed to be seen and respected. But needless to say, climbing that mountain put a serious toll on my body. That’s how I fell into painkillers. A couple years later, that gave way to the dope. I managed to get good at keeping it hidden from the bosses and the other guys in the locker room… and my friends. So the problem just spiraled out of control, completely unchecked, with nobody to intervene or pull me out of it. By that point, it was too late.

He looks over another photo. It’s a dynamic shot in black and white of the same Japanese man from before, now younger, in what must be the prime of his professional wrestling career. He’s posted up on the turnbuckle and pumping both arms triumphantly into the air.

ZACK KUROYAMA
1974 - 2008

Rocko Daymon:
But after everything, I never got that respect. Just a series of concussions, broken bones, and a monkey on my back that will be with me for the rest of my days. My marriage collapsed, and it strained all my other relationships with friends and family as I continued to sink into that deep, dark hole.

He looks at another photo… Daymon stands in the center with his arms crossed over his chest, flanked by six young athletes in matching wrestling attire. The Dojo’s first class, circa 2010. Kerry, fresh-faced and still a teenager, stands on the end of one row. He’s clad in his familiar emerald and silver get-up. His face is bright and full of optimism. It’s a far cry from the dour and stone-like face he wears now, over ten years later.

Rocko Daymon:
It took the combined efforts of those who were still close to me to keep me on the path of sobriety over the years. There were some good stretches of time where I was clean, and I stayed competitive. And when things started slowing down, I built this wrestling school to pass on the skills and experiences I picked up over the years, in hopes that future generations wouldn’t make the same mistakes I made.

Another photo… an official DEFIANCE promotional portrait. Rocko Daymon and Kerry Kuroyama stand side-to-side in matching gear, looking strong and determined.

Rocko Daymon:
Then five years ago, I went back to work after securing a job with DEFIANCE down in New Orleans, along with one of my students. We partnered up… the “Rain City Ronin”, we called ourselves… a combination of aged wisdom and youthful determination. We had a lot of potential, I feel. There was a good opportunity for my protege to build a future for himself, as well as eventually end my own career on a high note.

Another DEF promotional portrait. It’s a few years later, and Kerry has aged, but Daymon has been replaced by “Sub Pop” Scott Douglas. It’s the  more familiar DEFIANCE tag team known as Seattle’s Best.

Rocko Daymon:
But… New Orleans is a strange city. I was in a different place, in an industry that had very much changed, and I started doubting if I really belonged there. It didn't take long before the same old temptations kicked in, and that dark voice began speaking to me. And I was listening. So I strayed from the path, and I disappeared… abandoning my partner, along with any remaining hope I may have had at bringing my hard-fought legacy back to a place of relevance in today’s industry.

Daymon plucks up a cane that’s been resting against the back of his chair and holds it out in front of him for the group to see. There’s a tinge of bitter acceptance in his face as he reflects over a life relying on a crutch.

Rocko Daymon:
The year that followed my relapse is a bit of a blur… but long story short, I had my accident around that point. Hip was completely obliterated, and that was that. I won’t ever wrestle again… hell, I can’t for a jog. Now all I can do is sit and think about what could have been… or where he could be now, if I had just stayed and helped guide him… 

Shaking his head and sighing as heavy as a bear, he sets the cane back from where he got it.

Rocko Daymon:
But that’s the burden of guilt I’m going to have to bear for the rest of my days… as well as this burden I share with the rest of you. I can’t waste time worrying about the people I can’t help anymore, because I need to focus on helping myself. Just as he has to focus on helping himself, through his own dark times. I have my path, and he has his own. 

Kerry is finally finished looking at the displayed wall of fame. His eyes find the man speaking from the far end of the circle. They’re full of rage and grit.

Rocko Daymon:
And that is as it should be, because while we may all be here to support one another, we can’t forget how important it is to be able to support ourselves. To climb out of our own pits of despair. To endure our own trials and tribulations. To become stronger and wiser, in the wake of our failures. That’s how we grow… that’s how we evolve. And at the end of every day, my soul thrives on the belief that we all have the capacity to be our own pillars of support. We all have the strength and the will to become better. It simply takes conviction.

He pauses for a moment to let this sink in.

Rocko Daymon:
Whenever this truth is forgotten, I will be here for you… to remind you.

As he says this, Daymon tilts his head up, and his gaze focuses on foyer. He seems to have known that Kerry was there listening the entire time.

Except Kerry isn’t there anymore. He only sees the front door closing.

Daymon nods, as though he understands deep down that all is well. Grabbing the cane, he slowly rises out of the chair.

Rocko Daymon:
Thank you all for being here… it’s been a good evening, but it’s late. See you again next week. Patience… practice… persistence… never forget this. And if you do, as I said, my friends, I will be here to remind you.

Black.



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