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> A legacy tarnished
Cat Riley
Posted: January 20, 2019 12:42 pm

SCW Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 45
Member No.: 353
Joined: April 09, 2018

For all of its benefits, like being able to engage with friends, family, peers and strangers alike on any topic imaginable, being a place where you can make new friends, find love and express yourself freely the internet also has its dark side. Lying in wait beneath the cloak of anonymity lays a cold, cruel world of anti-social commune where the rules are neither written nor observed. It is a barren wasteland of vitriol void of discretion where there are no filters and bad behavior is openly encouraged, even cheered on - where comment spaces eagerly await your worst and most casual hate, a feverish reply, a snappy comeback. It is a free for all, a coliseum of callousness, an arena of antagonism where cruelty is rewarded with adulation.

It is a cold, dark alley where confrontation is defined by how deeply one can cut and withdraw, how quickly they can deliver a lacerating rant and extract themselves from any means of retort – where the showdown depends entirely on what the keyboard ruffian can get away with because everybody knows there are extremely few on our planet who can glare into the eyes of another, see the pain etched across their face and coldly turn away – those tender quivers that reveal unspoken thoughts, such as, “No, I’m a human being, please don’t say that, I’m lost, I’m hurt, please be kind, let me be…” Things that exist in the eyes of real people, the pleas we all privately share and the genuine need to be understood and not maligned. The internet has closed the window of the soul disconnecting us from what it is which gives us our humanity in the first place – the love, the vulnerability, the grace and reprieve. The beauty of our souls has been shuttered behind a shroud of antipathy.

Gladiatorial combat for the new age – where there is no modesty, no conscience or caution other than to protect ones name, hidden behind a wall of anonymity, their way out, their stance, their indignation, their right to be callous, mean, unfeeling, ridiculous, absurd, wrong…

So what if they’re wrong? They will never see you cry, never see you sweat, never know that you are every bit as capable of feeling as they would like to believe of themselves. This is the internet, land of the free and home of the prig. There are no consequences here; a banned account merely gives them that long awaited excuse to create a new one. It doesn’t matter how much they hurt you because, after all, you are merely people while they are highly skilled gladiators. To kill or be killed is the only rule in this arena and the games are in session.

“Man that cat riley is total trash, a disgrace to the snake pit” - Venom3:16

“Cat riley needs to slit her wrists” – Pewpiedie

“I’m ashamed to be associated with the Snake Pit after watching her” – Catch22

“She’s so bad I pooped my pants” – Devilsaur2013

“She gives real submission wrestlers like us a bad name” – Denied4872

The comments fall one by one, a cascading column of careless condemnation offered by users of the ‘Viper’s Lair’ message boards, a fan site dedicated to the art of submission wrestling so proudly held by the family to the cork board of their distempered darts, Cat Riley. Flowing freely the snarky reactions to her recent loss at Inception run the gamut of emotions from simple disappointment, like dropping a cheap watch into a stream, to a rushed resentment which floods the more considerate replies in white water rapids splashing the reader at every turn with spiteful repartee. Bobbing through further snipes taken at her by opinionated internet sharpshooters she happens upon a link tucked away within a tempestuous wall of text which promises ‘a detailed breakdown of Cat Riley vs Crystal Zdunich’.

A right click of the mouse whisks her away from the chagrined shelling to an article written in blue text on a black background and featuring a header depicting her image with a black eye while clutching the carcass of a dead snake which is draped over her bare shoulder and sporting the title ‘How Cat Riley single handedly destroyed catch wrestling’. The night in question this serves as the topic to the article had already left an indelible scar behind to her psyche. It was a match which she fully expected to win in addition to odds makers throughout the Gambling mecca of Las Vegas as well as the fans, casual and hardcore alike but something went awry in her plan and it was not to be with Crystal pulling off the upset win. Her cerulean eyes, reddened and glossy after a night of lost sleep spent crying and trying to decipher what had gone wrong, blink rapidly before settling onto the block of text. A tightness in her chest serves as a warning not to proceed any further but it is cast aside in a pitiable hope of finding some sort of answer and she begins to read,

The Snake Pit was first established by Billy Riley in the 1950s where he decided that he wanted to begin teaching the techniques of catch wrestling in an effort to pass on his knowledge to the younger generation. He purchased a small plot of land on Pyke Street in Wigan and with the help of his prospective students built a gymnasium. He had long been regarded as among the world’s most devastating hookers as he rapidly gained notoriety for breaking the arms and other limbs of his opponents and captured the world championship, then known as the British Empire championship by travelling to Africa and defeating Jack Robinson making him a bit of a celebrity which later provided the impetus to establish his training camp. The gym rapidly became popular and known for producing some of the most skilled catch wrestlers in the world. Men such as Karl Gotch, Bert Assirati, Melvin Riss, John Foley, Jack Dempsey, Billy Joyce, Billy Robinson and his own sons Ernie and Paul Riley attended the Snake Pit.

Later in life, when asked about establishing a training center Riley replied that while initially he wanted preserve and pass on the techniques he had learned from his decades of experience and continue the legacy he had created and while on his death bed in Wigan on that cold, fateful day in December of 1988 some of the last words he uttered to his two sons were “continue my legacy”. His funeral was attended by more than 300 catch wrestlers and former students.

Posted below, an old dog-eared black and white photograph depicting her grandfather is posted. The handsome, muscular young man stands erect with the then British Empire championship strapped securely around his waist. Clad in dark wrestling trunks with matching knee wraps, shoes and socks he clasps his hands behind his back while posing on the lawn of the future sight of his training center with a large bush behind him and a chain length fence separating the property from the adjacent land. Too young to remember him, having been born after his death Cat pauses in a moment of introspection, wishing she could have known the man who had given her family such a reputation and establish a career path for nearly all of his heirs. She vividly recalls some of the many stories about him passed down to her by her father and uncle; tales of his travels to Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and even America in search of the best wrestlers in the world to test himself against, tales of his prowess on the mat – breaking a man’s arm in less than ten seconds, and tales of endurance when he once wrestled a match that lasted 11 hours and 40 minutes, a world record which stands to this day. She recalls the unveiling of a marble statue in his likeness, commissioned by her family and proudly displayed on the lawn leading to the entrance of the Snake Pit.

Her father Paul, Uncle Ernie and Cousin William – named after her grandfather - had followed diligently in his expansive footsteps touring the world in search of competition, winning championships and establishing their own reputations in the process and further strengthening his legacy. They also followed his lead by training new students with some former students taking on protégés of their own; like Karl Gotch who had been trained by Billy Riley and established himself in Japan, earning such a degree of respect and admiration that the Japanese referred to him as the ‘God of wrestling’ and went on to train the legendary Antonio Inoki. Billy Robsinson, another former student and of the precious few who managed to successfully compete at the highest levels throughout Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Australia. Despite their different backgrounds prior to wrestling these men all have at least one thing in common; they can all trace their catch wrestling lineage back to the great Billy Riley.

A sigh slithers through thin pursed lips as she runs her slender fingers over the laptop monitor and the image displayed proudly in the center. The information contained so far proves to be correct, gelling neatly with the ingrained images of memory and serving as a vehicle for a trip down memory lane. She recalls her own beginnings in catch wrestling following a decisive day at school where she had been attacked and beaten up by bullies. Although she tried to conceal it from her uncle, who had been sitting her while her parents were on vacation, her efforts proved to be in vain as he quickly found out and consulted with her father to teach her how to wrestle. Prior to the crucial events of that day she held little to no interest in wrestling, preferring to sink her time in games of soccer, exploring Wigan’s unkempt underbelly with her friends, seeing movies and performing ill-advised stunts on her bicycle. Wrestling was the furthest thing from her mind until then; now, it seems to be the only thing on her mind. Stifling an oncoming yawn, she perks her eyes back onto the screen, breaking from the reverie and reads further,

‘Enter: Cat Riley’, the headline is both bold and ominous centered perfectly in the middle of the page, its dark, all capitalized letters encased in black with blue outlines, double spaced in maximum font size with a raven used to dot the ‘I’ in her name. Her chest tightens as a Gordium knot and the air refuses to release from her lungs, preferring to hover like a vulture anticipating a feast of dread. She can feel her heart rate accelerating, thumping against the confines of her chest; an agitated jackhammer relentlessly pounding away at the pent up wall of emotions. Her eyes are trained warily on the churlish indigo text and she inhales deeply, hoping to seal the burgeoning cracks forming along the battered barrier of her psyche. Exhaling slow and deliberately she steps forward towards the first letter in the opening paragraph, her fingers trembling against the keen black plastic encasement of the keyboard.

‘At Inception III Cat Riley was pushed around, hit, cut and made to look old, predictable and slow against a clearly inferior opponent. Riley, 23, had smiled her way through a pleasant week spent making funny faces with fans, signing strange men’s bare chests and just plain goofing off. She walked to the ring in her usual manner; calm, cool and collected, seemingly ready for anything her opponent could potentially offer. Then the bell rang. Although Crystal Zdunich had not been given a hope by odds makers who had Riley pegged as the clear favorite it became apparent very quickly that the seasoned veteran was not interested in their numbers, and soon the crowd of 16,000 plus started to see a different kind of match, a match in which Rod Serling himself would have been proud to officiate.

The lithe Briton’s timing was woeful, her positioning was terrible and Zdunich hammered away for six solid minutes against the stunned favorite. There was still feeling among the crowd that Cat could still find her timing, that she could get into a rhythm and perhaps use her vaunted cardiovascular conditioning to wear the bombastic Crystal out, but this was not the case as Crystal continued to control the pace and managed to weather a brief, half-hearted flurry on route to scoring the decisive pin fall and leaving legions of fans in a stunned silence wondering what went wrong.

Cat Riley went wrong. At 23 years of age and with ten full years of training at the Snake Pit, the premier catch wrestling school on the planet she finally showed her true self. Never mind the streak she compiled over the course of her rookie campaign; those wins are meaningless. Every time a wrestling promotion like SCW gets their grubby little paws on a hot prospect they tend to treat them with kid gloves; giving them so-called feeder matches against lower tier competition. The purpose is two-fold; to allow them to gain valuable in ring experience and to pad their resume which will garner more interest from the paying fans. To put it simply, they were packaging her to sell and like so many night time infomercials they didn’t care what was inside so long as the package was eye catching.’

The trembling of her fingers has spread through to her forearm which now rattles against the dull wooden surface of the creaky hand me down computer desk and forces her to reach over and grip it with her left hand to stabilize the tremors. Her eyes, glazed and busy remain fixated on the quarry of neon gravel ignoring the flux. Drawing another breath in between beats of the jackhammer she reads on,

‘There is a saying that you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs and in the case of a school like the Snake Pit this certainly rings true. For every Karl Gotch you turn out there are bound to be a dozen or more subpar students divested from the mold. Have you ever had green eggs? Green eggs are a discoloration that sometimes forms around the yolk in hardboiled eggs and is the result of a similar reaction in scrambled eggs – this time between sulfur in the whites and iron in the yolks and tends to rear its ugly head when cooked too long or at too high a temperature. Cat Riley is green eggs; she has been cooked - so to speak - for ten years and under the searing temperature of the Riley name and scrambled into a fluffy dish by the marketing utensils of Christian Underwood. Mind you, I’m not saying that she has been over trained as ten years is about how much time it takes to truly master the myriad of submissions in catch wrestling but the pressure of carrying her name has caused a reaction in the aliment. Much like the aforementioned green eggs she is merely a subpar student who has diverged – through no fault of her own, a green cuisine – from the recipe long ago mastered in the Riley kitchen.’

Pressure has a unique way of forcing the issue; you can seal cracks to your hearts’ content and it will take your efforts with nary a complaint by simply redirecting against other areas until eventually finding one that breaks. Like a brute force computer hack – it doesn’t try to finesse the password to the vault of your feelings– it simply keeps hammering away, throwing password after password at it until finding the right one to crack it open. Once inside it is free to do as it pleases which could be anything but usually tends to lean towards the destructive side of things like razing any remaining walls preventing its cohorts from accessing their hard won spoils; the last vestiges of your emotional affirmation.

Rising onto quivering pins from the squeaky, tattered and faded black leather office chair the final fragments to the protective barrier of Cat’s spirit fall as salty droplets, splashing onto the vacated desk as she turns from the digital instrument of devastation in search of relief from the emotional cloudburst which grips her body from humming head to anxiously twitching toes. Looking across the littered landscape of the bedroom she steps across the hirsute, bister carpeting, mindful of her tremulous bare feet and navigates through a minefield of personal effects; a rumpled tee shirt lying at the rolling base of the chair, a pair of hastily kicked aside sneakers, an olive drab military style flight jacket strewn over a white plastic laundry basket, a half-eaten bag of harvest cheddar Sun chips lying semi-folded on a nightstand underneath a dusty blue and shade-less lamp, its shimmering bulb serving as a beacon to the safety of the harbor where her bed is docked. Following a trail of tribulation she ignores the bread crumbs scattered along the way which serve as questions and following several muffled steps her body goes limp upon reaching the quilted shore and then collapses onto the velour surface; The bread crumbs, having gone stale to her lack of attention grow into moldy musings which slowly begin to infect her introspection. Am I truly worthy of the Riley name? Do I not have what it takes? Have I been deluding myself the entire time? Drop after drop the rain pelts away relentlessly at the rusty tin roof of her self-esteem leaving no option but to hunker down and weather the storm. Grabbing a Grumpy Cat branded white and brown body pillow she clutches the plush padding tightly to her heaving chest, wrapping both arms around it as her sobbing chimes in with the deluge of melancholy and flops onto her back, her muted wails echoing off the plastered walls.

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Traditionally this is thought to be a uniquely human characteristic but time and science have both shown that not only can humans display empathy, but their pets often can as well. While Dogs have proven far more capable of sensing their owners and friends’ emotional well-being, cats have also been shown to understand and adapt to the emotions of the people in their lives.

At the bottom of the thick, chestnut toned oak door a smaller pet door carved into the bottom swings open; a small, thin plastic flap colored to match the exterior extends to provide entry for a 13 pound white maned Persian cat, Christian and Scott’s beloved Genie. Striding through the opening and leaving the flap to swing closed with a whisper she traverses the floor and settles at the base of the bed on her haunches. Looking up through baleful blue eyes to the source of the disruption in the otherwise quiet household she spies a pair of ashen soled feet dangling from the edge. The muscles in her hind quarters coil under tension and the feline leaps in a seeming lack of effort onto the bed but the arrival does not go unnoticed by the occupant who rolls onto her side continuing to clutch the billowy body length buffer.

“Not now Genie, please”, the voice simpers.

But cats have never been ones to obey commands or to follow rules. They live their own way, proudly independent and in control. While dogs may possess a more nuanced grasp of human emotion cats, by virtue of being highly in tune with their world are immediately alerted to even the smallest disturbance of their surroundings and driven by an insatiable curiosity to investigate. Highly inquisitive minds are routinely put to task identifying these disturbances which are then filed for later anamnesis should the need arise. And to a cat that has been around people for 12 years, its entire life, the awareness can become acutely emphatic.

Walking over the pillowed mattress topping along the downtrodden occupants’ extended limbs Genie approaches Cat’s face and nudges aside a tear soaked strand of blonde hair, prying her cold nose in between the pillow and her friend. Weakly Cat tries to push her away with about as much success as a sopping spaghetti noodle trying to push a water laden pot but the persistant Persian remains undeterred and inserts her nose once more, this time extending her sand paper-like tongue to clean the errant tears streaming down the young woman’s face. Not satisfied with the results the white coated feline redoubles her efforts, pushing with her short snouted round head and driving a wedge between her target and the body pillow, inserting her frame in its place, sacrificing it as a barrier between the heavy hearted human and the unseen assault from the outside.

Reluctantly Cat discards the sorrow soaked pillow to the side in favor of her new protector and wraps her free arm tightly around the feline, pulling her in close taking comfort in the presence of another warm body and with her assignment in hand Genie settles in for a long watch.

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