The following is an excerpt from the controversial autobiography of professional wrestler Mike ‘Miracle Man’ Morrison. Get your copy in Hardback, in the Kindle Store or on Audiobook when it’s released 14 September 2019
Chapter 14 – Revival
The least expected revival in the wrestling business came at a time when I was sure I was done. I was a journeyman. 46 year old, living on the road 320 days a year. My kids were in school and I was missing out on them growing up, every time I’d get a text or a Facetime I’d be staring into two ever-growing, ever-changing faces. And they were staring into the face of an ever-aging, out of shape, has-been. Sure, whenever we rolled into Pittsburgh I’d see them but it was never for long enough. With both knees having been replaced, my right shoulder hanging on by a thread and the threat of another concussion looming over me, I’d almost made the decision to pack my bags and tell the company I was done after Ring Revolution, our year end PPV. That was until that fateful August Monday night.
I got the call from show writer Dirk Henley that I was to meet him in the writers room as soon as I got to the building that evening. This wasn’t too peculiar an event, normally if I was going on first to open the TV show it would be to job to (lose to) whoever they wanted to get over. They’d let me know who it would be and in what fashion. I’d then meet up with whoever the new young wonderkid was I was laying down to that night and work out the details of our match. As I knocked and went in, I realised there were alot more bodies in the writing room than normal, including Henley, the boss Harrison Pritchard and our companies champion, Achilles Cage.
Cage was the biggest thing in the wrestling business, probably ever. He was so over with every single demographic that he’d never had to pay for gas or food as we travelled across the country that year. The fans absolutely adored him. As did all the guys (and girls) in the back. He represented us professionally across every platform. Articulate and intelligent he could hold his own debating politics on Good Morning America just as well as he could throw a football and bench press the equivalent of a large family of Samoans with the guys in the gym. Only in his mid-20’s, he was destined to be a star for the next 25 years at least.
Cage, glistening gold Championship belt thrown over his shoulder, welcomed me into the room with a chiselled, handsome smile and laid a large hand on my shoulder as I walked in. Pritchard, backed by four or five writers, looked extremely animated as he began to explain my segment in the show that evening. To my utter astonishment he explained that they were going to turn Cage heel tonight, in my hometown. For those that aren’t up to speed on their wrestling vernacular, the companies blue eyed boy would be turning bad guy. Remember, Cage was the darling of every living room in America and he was making the company so much money through merchandise that they could have probably put him out in the middle of the ring reading a telephone directory and still made a profit. So, to turn him heel was a shock to say the least. The part I didn’t get at that point was why Pritchard emphasised that this was my hometown and, more to the point, why he was telling me.
“Obviously you’re massively over with the fans Mike, especially here.” he began explaining. “Yes, you’ve had some bumps in the road lately but you were a Territories legend. First ever NCPW champion, first ever PNWD champion. You’re a living legend. To people in this town, you’re a hero.” I felt my chest begin to swell with pride, then, just as I began to feel some warmth course through my my cold, aching body, POP! I was deflated like a burst balloon. “That’s why you’re the perfect guy for Achilles to turn on. We’re going to use you to turn him heel, tonight. I want you guys in a tag match against the Boom Benders. You guys will beat them handily then Cage will turn on you after the match. I want you to get up and make it a fight, but you’ll take a severe beating, that’s how it has to be to get him some serious heat. Cage, you know how to work the crowd after that. This is history in the making guys! The biggest star in our company turning heel on the hometown legend. Achilles, this’ll set you up for a momentous rivalry with Black Mamba which we’ve planned to go right up until Ring Revolution”.
Admittedly I was excited, slated to work with the biggest star in the business again after years of jobbing to younger guys on the come up. I’d be top billed with Cage on the Monday Night Mat Slam TV show, something for my kids to boast to their friends about on Tuesday morning at school.
Cage and I met with the Boom Benders backstage to scope out the plan for the match. The Boom Benders aka Jackie Ace and Fergus ‘Braveheart’ Ferguson are two amazing guys, genuine lifelong friends of mine. They wouldn’t mind me describing them as a couple of journeymen wrestlers – they’d done it all in this industry as solo competitors – but recently they’d built themselves a new lease of life and a huge following as a heel tag team in the company. Their ‘Here Comes the Boom’ shirts were in the top three sellers in the company, just behind Cage and Mamba’s merchandise.
The plan, as we had put it together, was for me to basically take a beating from Jackie and Fergus for a good ten minutes, allowing them to showcase all their best tandem moves. They were so innovative as a team and produced so many new, original moves together. Eventually, though, I would counter and tag Cage in to unleash hell on them and finish them off with us ending up eventual winners. This was a fairly standard, well used tag team blueprint: one of the good guy takes a beating from two heels, eventually he tags in the hero, the hero whips some ass and finishes the match off. That would only be the appetiser though. As Pritchard had told us earlier, the real main event of the show would be the heel turn of Cage.
The tag match went without a hitch, almost exactly as planned. The beating I took from the Boom Benders was brutal and convincing. Given the number of matches I’d had with both Ferguson and Ace across the years as single competitors, our chemistry was excellent. I was selling their moves like I was back in my twenties. The crowd were eating it up, booing them and chanting for their Miracle Man almost non-stop. From their perspective their hometown hero was being given a hellacious beat down. Ultimately, once Cage got in, he cleaned house quickly and put them both away in impressive style.
It was at this point that things swayed from the plan.
After the Boom Benders had cleared the ring, Cage gently picked my broken body up from the bloodied canvas and lifted my right arm to the adulation of the crowd. They were going wild. “MI-RA-CLE, MI-RA-CLE!!!” reverberated around the arena. As I raised my left arm in unison, Cage slipped my right arm behind my back, snaked behind me, grabbing me from behind and suplexed me hard onto the back of my neck.
As I landed on the hard, bloodied canvas my brain rattled about in my cranium and my shoulders and back burnt like they’d been set on fire. I lay there, as if I’d been ejected out of a fighter jet, eyes to the rafters as the crowd fell completely silent. They were shocked. I tried to suppress a smile as they’d reacted exactly as Pritchard had hoped. Cage walked over and grabbed me by the hair to lift me back up. He whispered into my ear “one more, then reverse it” I nodded briefly. He slipped my lifeless arm behind my back again and brutally suplexed me once more. This time the boo’s from the Pittsburgh crowd were deafening. My lifeless body lay, eyes closed, as Cage began to berate the crowd and then berate me. He stood over me, arms raised, soaking in the boo’s of the crowd.
He decided he hadn’t gone far enough. He leant down over me and spat directly in my face. The crowd erupted, they began throwing whatever they had to hand into the ring. Drink cup, hot dogs, burgers, programmes rained down on us.
The heel turn plan had worked perfectly. But at what cost? I felt I’d not just been used as part of a plan to get Cage even more over but I’d been wildly disrespected in the process. Spitting in my face? Listen, anyone who has ever worked with me will tell you, I’ll sell every move in the book, I’m happy to be used to put over any new young guy in the industry. I understand how hard it can be to get heat from the wrestling crowds, especially a guy who was so over that he was a household name on every sports and celebrity channel going. But, spitting in my face? What was left of my ego couldn’t stomach that.
“Fuck was that?!” I shouted up at Cage as I lay there as if beaten to a pulp. “It’s cool” he grinned as he bent to pick me up by the hair again “just go with it, I need the heat. OK, reversal time”. As he held my wobbling body by the hair he lifted 3 fingers to the crowd to indicate I’d be going for my third ride courtesy of Cage airways. However, as planned, I slipped behind him and yanked his right arm hard behind his back. “Here’s your fucking heat” I spat into his ear. I grabbed him round the midriff with his arm trapped and suplexed him as hard and fast as my broken body would allow. We both landed with a sickening crack onto the canvas. He screamed. Not, ‘wrestler selling a move’ screamed but genuinely screamed in excruciating pain. I can admit right here right now that I immediately regretted it. I’d lost my temper, the spitting had royally pissed me off. I’d reacted in the worst possible way.
As all this had transpired and I lifted myself up to check on him, the crowd were going absolutely wild for what had just happened. Referees and company officials flooded the ring, pushing beyond me to check on Cage. Within seconds, EMT’s were called and Cage’s battered body was quickly lifted onto a stretcher and moved to the back. The crowd, still believing this was a work, continued to litter him with trash as he was wheeled past them into the back of the arena, beyond the curtain. This poor guy was being stretchered out with what would ultimately result in a broken right orbital bone, a broken right collarbone and a fractured right humerus and he was being pelted with half eaten burgers and watery light beers.
I’d resigned myself to the fact that I would be fired. I’d probably get my ass kicked once I made it into the back from some of Cage’s closest friends, particularly former MMA Heavyweight fighter Mamba. But that was the least of my worries, I can handle myself physically, despite my age. It was the threat of legal action from Pritchard and the company that scared me. I’d not only just ruined their headline feud for the foreseeable future but I’d also just potentially ended the career of the biggest star in the wrestling business.
As the TV show went off the air I soaked in the adulation of the crowd for one last time “MI-RA-CLE” still rang out through the arena and each time I climbed the turnbuckles to raise my arms and thank them, they got even louder. I trudged slowly to the back, the fans chants ringing in my ears.
As I emerged through the curtain into the backstage area, I was met by, amongst others, a red-faced, perspiring Pritchard and a clearly enraged Dax ‘Black Mamba’ Duffee.
Wrestling with my Demons – The Mike ‘Miracle Man’ Morrison Story is in stores 14 September 2019