Post by Jonny Fly on Sept 24, 2014 20:17:08 GMT -5
We begin at WCF studios, located inside the WCF’s corporate offices in Reading, Pennsylvania. In the studio a number of cameramen, AV and lighting technicians and other assorted staffers are busy milling around. A stage has been set up toward the back of the room. On the stage a screen displays the picture above. To our shock, and to some perhaps horror, standing on the stage working with a makeup artist is the one, the only, the…Shannan Lerch.
The yells of a staff member force the makeup artist to finish quickly, and exit the stage. Lerch, the long-time former WCF commentator and sister of Sethascope Danger Lerch, is wearing an elegant black knee length dress. She’s accessorized her attire with a wide white belt, hook earrings, heels, and a lime green WCF pin that’s surely been stained with cum previously. Oh Shannan, dicks of the fake wrestling world miss you. The female Lerch centers herself on the stage and turns toward the cameras. Our scene transform to a camera shot, with Shannan on the right hand side, and the monitor plainly visible to her left.
The taping begins.
Lerch: Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to “The War Within,” a WCF network exclusive look into the personal life of the ever-mercurial Jonny Fly. We’ll have exclusive interviews with friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even Fly himself. For the first time ever, publically, the truths of Fly’s controversial life outside of the squared circle will be told.
The camera angle switches. Lerch turns to her left for the new shot. The monitor is no longer in the picture.
Lerch: Let’s start from the beginning, from the man himself.
The screen scrolls to the left and zooms in on the monitor. The image shown is that of Jonny Fly sitting alone in an empty room. For the purposes of this show, this room will called the ‘confessional room’ where various people will tell their tales of Jonny Fly. The camera continues to zoom in until the only thing seen on the screen is Fly. He sits silently, elbows on his thigh, face down, and hands folded out in front. Slowly, he rises to look into the camera.
Fly: The War Within. That’s what I’ve always called it. The internal battle of good and evil that takes place in this mind.
Fly slowly takes on of his hands and uses his index finger to point to his brain.
Fly: I’d call it a curse, but until recently I never paid it much mind. It was always status quo for me, my version of normal. It’s hard for regular people to understand the things I’ve done. They’re lucky though, those people grew up with a support system around them to guide them toward the right decisions. Where I’m from, that shit doesn’t exist. You do whatever you need to do. There’s no regret or remorse attached. That was life.
Fly pauses to draw in a breath. Almost in disgust, he sputters out the next five words.
Fly: The New York City streets. It’s a fuckin’ jungle, man. The personality, thoughts, beliefs, values, instincts…everything…that I learned there poisons my mind today. That’s the struggle. I adapted to survive in an environment that I no longer reside in. It doesn’t matter that I live in big fuckin’ house and have all the money I’ll ever need; it’s tough to flip that switch. It’s taken over a decade. Is it cliché to ‘be from the street?’ Is it an excuse? I don’t know. I really don’t.
Fly lets out a sigh and rises to his feet. The camera pans out to a full figure view of the four-time WCF World Champion. He continues to stare into the camera.
Fly: I’ll say this though; go downtown to any big city at night. Go drive into those places where you’re too scared to walk around. Those places where you don’t fit in – where those bad things you hear about on the news are occurring. Look around, you’ll see girls as young as 11 years old being pimped out. There are young boys killing people for the purpose of proving themselves to some gang – just so they can feel a level of protection in their crazy little world. This is reality. We’re all animals, doing what we need to do to survive. Don’t be naïve. Open up your eyes. In that world where I grew up, you’re either eating or your eaten. So I ate, and I’ve never stopped. My eyes are always over my shoulder. I always expect the worst of people. I have violent tendencies, and not just in the ring. This is who I am…and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
The camera pans out from monitor until we can once again see Shannan Lerch on stage in the studio.
Lerch: Jonny Fly was born into a poor family in New York City in November of 1983. By age six, he found himself in an orphanage, abandoned by his parents. A few weeks later a man named Ned adopted Jonny. He was the father Fly never had, and taught him valuable life and social skills, how to dress, how to take care of himself, and what is right, and what is wrong. Luckily for Fly, Ned was also a huge fan of wrestling, and watched it with Fly every week. He lived with his adopted father until age 12, when things took a turn for the worse. Ned fell ill, and eventually passed. Without any extended family, Fly found himself on the streets after refusing to go back into foster care. That’s a certain stubbornness that wrestling fans have come to know well from Fly over the years. He would live on those streets until he was nearly 18 years old.
We cut back to the confessional room. This time an African-American in a New York City police uniform sits with his hands folded on his lap. His name badge reads ‘Anderson.’ Officer Anderson looks into the camera, ready to deliver his monologue.
Anderson: Fly was different than the majority of people living on the streets. First off, he didn’t need to be there. He was there because he refused foster care and had nobody else to care for him. He wore his plight like a badge of honor. He felt that a life on the streets was his destiny, and he embraced that, and let it harden him. He found ways to fit in with the various groups, and in doing so developed some bad habits. He sold a little bit of his soul then – and he never recovered it.
We go back to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: Just before his 16th birthday Fly heard about tryouts for the ‘United Wrestling Alliance.’ Remembering watching wrestling as a kid, Fly decided to attend the tryouts. He gathered his best clothes, scavenged enough money for a cab ride to Madison Square Garden, and went to try his hand at a professional wrestling career.
We return to the empty confessional room. This time a well-dressed man sits looking into the camera. On our screen the name “Mark Drivelane – UWA CEO” flashes. He begins speaking to us.
Drivelane: I remember it like it was yesterday. We’re in one of the holding rooms in Madison Square Garden. It’s one of those rooms where media would gather during a basketball and they get food and drinks. Since we were holding tryouts, we had a table set up in that room for people to come in and sign up for a time slot. During that time we’d take them into the ring and have them work with one of our trainers. Just to get a feel for them, what they know, their talent level, all of that good stuff.
So as we’re all sitting there this kid in tattered clothes walks into the room. He looks like he’s 13 years old. Tall kid, but lanky, really didn’t fit the mold of a wrestler one bit. He walked straight up to the sign-up sheet and put his name down. As he went to sit down and wait, I approached him and introduced myself. I asked him how old he was, and to his credit he didn’t lie to me. I informed him that we don’t hire anyone under the age of 18. He told me his background, and told me that he was convinced this was his ticket off the streets.
It’s hard to say no to a kid like that. So, we took him into the ring and had him go through a workout. He had great instincts, I remember that vividly. Solid athleticism, too. We taught him a couple of moves and he took to them very quickly. At the end of the workout, we had to cut him loose. I told him to come back next year and we’ll see what we can do. He did come back the next year. He’d grown even more, filled out a bit, and I don’t know how, but he’d even kept working on the moves we’d taught him the year before. He showed some talent
We hired him after that workout. Not as a wrestler though, because he still wasn’t 18 yet. We hired him as an administrative intern. We just wanted to get him into the fold and get him on a workout regimen. We paid him hourly for a few months for when he came into our training center in New York. That allowed him to gain some skills and sort of get his feet under him. Once he turned 18, we extended him a formal contract and started booking him. Four months later he was our World Champion. It was an unprecedented rise to the top. To this day, I can’t believe it.
The image of Drivelane dissolves and we return to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: Fly would go on to win just one World Title in the UWA. After a two month reign, he up and left the company for sister-federation TNT Wrestling. In similar situations in wrestling’s history, the champion has taken the belt with them upon leaving. Fly declined to do so, and insisted on cutting his ties completely to UWA. The circumstances behind the move were heavily speculated, but Fly always refused to comment on why he would vacate the UWA World Title to move to a smaller, and lesser known federation.
The screen cuts again. This time another well-dressed man is sitting down in front of the camera. The name “Ron Rose – UWA Owner” pops up underneath him.
Rose: Jonny Fly is a name I don’t tend to talk about much. What kind of man walks out on a company when he’s been given nothing but opportunities? We gave Fly a chance to get off the streets and pushed him as hard as anyone ever. He connected with the fans. Here was this hard-luck kid fresh off the streets wrestling just to try and make a living. We gave him a Television Title match in a month. Then a Tag Team Title match in two months. Then a World Title match in four months. Then in six months he was gone. Everyone always asks me why he left. I’ll tell you why he left; he left because he’s legitimately insane. Nothing is ever enough for him. I think we’ve seen over the course of his career that leaving the United Wrestling Alliance was just the first of countless bizarre and idiotic decisions he’s made. I’m glad we didn’t have to deal with the drama that TNT Wrestling did. He’s an extraordinary wrestler, and he’s had a legendary career, but I’ll never say that the tradeoff of all the bullshit he brings would have been worth it.
We switch back to Shannan in the studio.
Lerch: Upon joining TNTW Wrestling, Fly proclaimed the balance of power between the two companies had shifted. Something else shifted though, and that was his personality. To join TNT Wrestling, Fly had to take a large pay cut. Worse, UWA had given Fly a signing bonus on a large contract extension just two months earlier when he’d won their World Title. When he left, he was forced to pay back the large majority of that money. The problem was, he didn’t have it. He had used it to build the mansion in New York City we see so often on WCF television. It was his first house, his statement of independence from the streets, and he spared no expense. That’s the first time Fly became involved with The Ridder Family, the family of criminals in New York City that would nearly become his undoing.
We return to the room. A long-time friend of Jonny Fly’s, Tim Devine, sits in the chair looking into the camera. Devine is a former TNT Wrestling commentator, and host of the ‘Wrestling Weekly’ program in which Fly has been a recurring guest. Devine begins his confessional.
Devine: The Ridder Family changed Jonny Fly forever. This was a wrestler that was beloved. He was fresh, exciting, energetic, humble, and personable. He was the total package. The fans loved him. His fellow wrestlers loved him. He was a marketers dream. He was becoming the new face of the industry – and these people ruined that. There was an innocence about Jonny Fly back then. It might seem hard to imagine today, but he was as pure as they come in his early days as a professional. They stripped that from him. Fly was beaten down by the politics of UWA. The people there act like he had no reason to jump ship, but that’s conveniently forgetting that he wasn’t the only one who’d grown tired of their backstage drama. Fly was an up and coming wrestler, and he wanted a fresh start in an up and coming company. He left money on the table to make the shift. That’s all I need to tell you to understand the type of man he was back then. The Ridders…
Devine pauses, and takes a moment to shake his head as he thinks back on the nearly decade long saga that engulfed his friend Jonny Fly’s life.
Devine: …they’re just animals. But what they didn’t know was that underneath that innocent All-American boy persona of Jonny Fly’s, was an animal equally as vicious. Jonny Fly is a fighter. He did it every day for five years. This was a man so stubborn that he wouldn’t accept foster care. So here we had the perfect storm. A family of criminals, so self-absorbed after decades of being untouchable in the New York underworld, that they thought they could simply crush anyone they wanted. On the other side you had Fly, a prideful sonofabitch who has fought for everything he had. These two forces collided because Fly needed money, and in his youth, he made a terrible decision. He went to the wrong people.
We return to Shannan in the studio.
Lerch: The story goes that Fly went to the Ridder Family for $100,000. That’s what he owed the UWA for terminating his contract. The Ridder’s were glad to give the money to Fly, but did so under the commitment that Fly would repay the loan with an interest rate of $10,000 per month for however long the loan amount was outstanding. In an interview back in 2003, Fly noted the details of the arrangement in an exclusive with TNT Wrestling’s Kraig Karman.
The scene switches to a video of the interview from 2003. It’s a noticeable scene, inside Fly’s recently built mansion. The TNT filming crew has set up outside on the back deck. Fly and Karman sit in seats that are slightly turned toward each other. A pool is noticeable in the background. On a table in between Fly and Karman sit two beers, and both interviewer and interviewee are dressed casually. Fly is wearing white shorts and a ‘Jonny Fly – The Kid Wonder’ tee-shirt. He has a pair of sunglasses lifted above his eyes and resting on the top of his head. Karman wears shorts, flip-flops, and a generic TNT Wrestling branded tee-shirt. Fly is smiling, seemingly as happy as can be, even as Karman quizzes him regarding current events.
Karman: …and that’s something that doesn’t concern you?
Fly: It’s not about money for me, Kraig.
Karman questioningly glances around, taking in his surroundings.
Karman: This house, you had to pay for it. I can only assume you’re still paying for it.
Fly: Of course. This house is an investment. I love this city. I want to live here forever. It might seem like excess, and hell maybe it is, but for me it’s a dream come true. From where I was living this time last year, to this house, I can’t even put it into words. I can’t stop smiling.
Karman: There’s been some rumors that for a variety of reasons, this house being one, you’re not in good shape financially. Is that true?
Fly: I’m nothing if not honest, Kraig. What you’re saying is true. When I started on the project of having this house built, my financial status was much different than it is now. I make less money today, for one. I took a large pay cut leaving UWA and coming to TNT. I made that move consciously, and I absolutely don’t regret it. The financial hit is something I choose to take to do what I felt was best. It’s not just that, UWA asked for a large portion of my signing bonus back. They’re operating a business and I was a wrestler under contract. That’s their right to get a portion of that bonus back, and I’m going to pay it. It’ll wipe me out, but I’m going to pay it.
Karman: Wipe you out? You have nothing left?
Fly: Yeah, I’m in debt. I had to take out a small loan to grease the wheels for a little bit. I’ll be alright. I always am.
Karman: Debt? That doesn’t worry you? I would think someone with your background would understand that being in debt is never good thing.
Fly: I’ve had to worry about far more important things in my life than debt, so no, it doesn’t concern me. Look, I’m an open book. I have no problem telling you that I took out a $100,000 loan. That might seem like a good chunk of change, and it is, but I have confidence that I’ll be able to pay that back, with interest, in the next three months. It’s just a means to an end. My signing bonus with UWA wasn’t cheap. Still, I’m making decent money, I get a cut of my merchandise sales, and the loan providers gave me an interest rate that is manageable. This is just something I have to deal with for the time being. I’ll pay the money off and then hopefully afterward I can get to the point where I can continue to increase my earnings, help raise the profile of TNT Wrestling, and then sit back and enjoy the spoils.
The interview disappears from the screen, and is replaced by Shannan Lerch.
Lerch: It wasn’t long after that interview that Fly began receiving threats. He was told that he needed to pay back the balance of his debt within 30 days. Fly had the understanding from the agreement that there wasn’t any term on the loan, he would just be charged 10% interest each month until the balance was paid. This is where his background failed him. When judging him for the mistakes he made in getting involved with the Ridder Family, people forget that this was a man with a seventh grade education. He didn’t know anything about contracts. He wasn’t savvy enough to go to a legitimate financial institution for a loan. This is man who grew up on the streets. He knew loan sharks, and in his naivety, he expected that their arrangement would be simple. When we talk about the Ridder Family though, as you’ll learn, nothing is simple.
We return to the confessional room. Officer Anderson is back, sitting in the chair and looking into the camera.
Anderson: Over my years as a New York City police officer, I was part of thirteen investigations into the Ridder Family. Thirteen. These guys were into everything, drugs, guns, prostitution, money laundering, gambling…everything. It was like an all you can eat buffet of criminal activity. The problem was that the patriarch of the clan, Jack Ridder, knew the right people. I don’t know who, but he had friends high up, if you know what I mean. We could never touch him. Everyone knew what he was doing, but whenever we tried to make a move, we got shut down. The other problem, and truthfully the bigger problem, is that they knew they were untouchable and the younger members of the family took advantage of that.
Their business with Jonny Fly, it was cruel. They knew who he was. They tricked him into a deal that he was never going to be able to get out from under. They wanted to suck a lifetime of earnings out of him. As I understood it, he needed some money and they offered it to him, no questions asked. All they wanted was 10% interest for every month the loan wasn’t settled. The racket was, it was only 10% for that first month. Then it went to 100%. In two months he owed $220,000 on a $100,000 loan. Contracts didn’t matter, not when you’re dealing with criminals. They said he owed $220,000…or else, and if he didn’t pay by the end of the month, the total would increase to $440,000 and so on. They wanted to strip every ounce of money they could from Jonny Fly. I don’t know if it was to his credit or not, considering all he went through, but he didn’t back down from them.
Our picture switches back to Shannan Lerch in the studio. Lerch is holding a piece of paper in her hand, which she begins to read from.
Lerch: “The first threat came one month to the day they gave me the money. It was from John Ridder, the oldest son, who told me that if I didn’t pay him back within the next 30 day period, I would be putting people close to me at risk. That was also the first time I was made aware of the interest rate change on my loan. I refused to pay the additional interest, and I made that abundantly clear. It took me three months, but I paid them back the $130,000 I owed them. It was a one-time offer. I met with Jack Ridder face to face and told him this was a take it or leave it. I wanted our business settled. He didn’t take it. He came after me instead, he came after my friends, colleagues, family, everyone. So I fought back, and continued fighting back for the next four years.”
As she finishes reading, Lerch folds the paper into a square and sets it back into her pocket.
Lerch: That was a statement provided by Jonny Fly to FBI officials in the summer of 2007, when he would be entered into the federal witness protection plan. The events that happened between those described in the statement and the date that statement was made are mostly unknown to the public, but there’s two men who know them all too well.
The scene cuts back to the confessional room. A smaller, but muscular man sits and stares into the camera. The name “Shadow” pops up underneath him. Shadow is a former UWA Hall of Famer, and the founder of TNT Wrestling. In a hoarse voice, the mythical wrestler speaks.
Shadow: Jonny Fly may be the greatest wrestler I’ve ever known. He might also be the most troubled. Fly gave TNT Wrestling a new life when he defected from UWA. Here was a wrestler just beginning to come into his own. Fly changed the boundaries of everything we’d ever seen in a TNT Wrestling ring. In his first match he beat our World Champion, not for the title, but he pinned him nonetheless. We had just an 18 man roster, but he put them on notice. Not notice in terms of he was going to take all of their titles, but notice that what was acceptable before wouldn’t cut it in the future. He pushed our wrestlers, our company, and our industry.
A rare smile comes over the face of Shadow.
Shadow: Two years later we passed UWA in roster size, ratings, and beat them head-to-head in an inter-federation show. Fly won the Main Event, World Champion versus World Champion, to secure the victory. Then, on his way home, his car was run off the road and his longtime manager Kent Strong was killed. Fly called that day the biggest moment of his career. He was redeemed from those that criticized his UWA departure. He put TNT Wrestling on his back and carried it to the promise land. Just a few short hours later, it would all be ruined. He missed six months recovering from the injuries and found himself in the middle of one of many criminal investigations. He was accused of manslaughter because an open bottle of alcohol had been planted at the scene. The real crazy thing is, during Fly’s four years with TNT Wrestling, none of this was abnormal. As a company, myself and our President Marcel Hasan, made the decision that this was something we were going to live with. We supported Jonny Fly. I never thought he was a bad person. He was just mixed up with the wrong people.
The scene switches to another room, and another person. It’s now the previously mentioned Marcel Hasan sitting in a chair and looking into the camera.
Hasan: It was nightmare after nightmare after nightmare. In 2004 Jonny Fly was investigated and ultimately arrested for a large cache of weapons found at his house in New York. In 2005, after one of our shows in Seattle, a bomb exploded in the arena parking garage. Fly was arrested and charged for the incident. Later in 2005 he was investigated for the murder of one Jack Ridder’s brothers. In 2006, he missed nearly nine months because he disappeared and nobody knew where he went. Hell, I still don’t know where the hell he went. It was tough to keep Fly on the roster through all the arrests, allegations, and uncertainty, but we did. It went further than the fact that he was our biggest star. We believed in him as a person. With our fan base we tried to separate the Jonny Fly they were seeing in the ring and the Jonny Fly they were hearing about in the news. It worked, at least for a while.
We switch to yet another room, and yet another person. This is an individual who appears to be in his early 30’s. He’s rather large, built, and probably close to 250 pounds. He has the appearance of a wrestler and the name that flashes on the screen underneath him confirms that fact. This is Mark Vincent, tag-team partner and friend of Fly’s from his pre-WCF days.
Vincent: Fucking Jonny Fly. Jesus Christ, I haven’t talked about him in years. You guys want to understand Jonny Fly? Pop in the movie ‘Hitman.’ Fly is Agent 47. Don’t try to play the video game, that doesn’t work. It’s only in the movie where people come after 47 first. The Ridder Family came after Jonny Fly first, and he declared war on them. He well full assassin. The whole thing was a mess. It was a feud between a professional wrestler and a well-known, well connected, crime family that played out in public. I don’t think anyone on either side was thinking straight. People died over a couple hundred thousand dollars. I mean, are you kidding me? It was all too much. I don’t know what I would have done if I was in Jonny Fly’s shoes back then. The guy was damn near killed over this ordeal several times. He never asked me for advice though, not that I’d have any to give him. In fact, he never brought up his problems at all. When he was working, he was working. When he wasn’t working, he was scheming ways to KILL other human beings. When I realized that, it was at that point our friendship ran its course.
Vincent stares intently at the camera. He shakes his head slightly, reminiscing on the events that took place nearly a decade ago. We cut back to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: Mark Vincent is one of the few people who knew Fly on a personal level in his TNT Wrestling days. He’s never spoken publically about the extent of his knowledge of Fly’s activities from 2003 to 2007. Some of that was out of fear from becoming a target himself. Of course, as Mark would tell us, he wasn’t really safe anyway.
We cut back to Mark Vincent.
Vincent: The first that Fly’s feud with the Ridder Family came to the forefront was when he was arrested after cops found a bunch of weapons hidden in his house. They were doing an authorized search after a tip that Fly was planning ‘terrorist activities.’ The cops found out that he had in fact been making a large number of suspicious purchases, got a warrant, and boom, arrested. The truth was, it was John Ridder, Jack’s son, who sent in that tip. John got Fly arrested and at the same time got those weapons out his hands. Why did he start stockpiling the weapons? The Ridders had promised Fly that they were going to begin seeking out those close to him, kidnapping them, murdering them, whatever it took to get their money. Fly was preparing for a war – preparing to defend those close to him. I was one of those people.
At that time, Fly had never killed anyone. As far as I know, he’d never used a weapon. Without the guns as protection, he decided to go another route. He hired a security detail. Not just for himself, but for me, and a couple other wrestlers he was close to. He brought extra security to shows, knowing that when he was in the ring he was vulnerable. The Ridders would always know where he was going to be every Monday night. All they had to do was go onto the computer and look at the travel schedule. Eventually this group of people overstepped their bounds. That’s when the explosion at Key Arena in Seattle happened. The Ridders showed up at one of the shows. Fly’s security team noticed, and rigged their call in the parking lot to explode. Fly made the call to do it himself. It was supposed to be a statement. The problem was, there were still people inside.
Vincent disappears from the screen again, replaced by Shannan Lerch.
Lerch: Those comments from Mark Vincent are first public statements ever made by someone implicating Jonny Fly in a murder. There is no statute of limitations on murder. However, as we’ll discuss later, Fly’s in no danger of further legal action from crimes he committed in the past. As the story goes, this event was a crossroads in the Fly-Ridder Family saga. It had now escalated to the point where someone connected to the Ridder Family had lost their life. Both Fly and the Ridder Family had a choice to make; either pour water on the whole ordeal, or go for blood. Jack Ridder would choose to go for blood.
We cut back to Tim Divine in the confessional room.
Divine: It took a few days for the information about the Key Arena bombing to really come out. Inside the company, Marcel did a good job of deflecting attention off of Fly. He booked him in some highlight matches that took the attention away from his alleged involvement in the bombing. Eventually he was arrested, and like he had done before, he eventually got out of it. That was the thing you could almost always rely on – Jonny Fly would find a way to skirt trouble. Anyway, Jack Ridder had finally seen the light. Jonny Fly wasn’t going to be scared into doing what he wanted. Threats weren’t going to work, and violence against him wasn’t doing the trick. Furthermore, Fly’s protection detail had already shown some chops in the Key Arena bombing, so Ridder was reluctant to challenge them to get to people close to Fly.
Instead, he took a softer route. He hired a man by the name of Ray Jenkins. I really don’t know how you term what Jenkins did for a living properly, so let’s just call him a hitman of sorts. He was a hired gun. A ruthless and conniving individual. Jenkins would pose as a wrestler, and amazingly enough, was legitimately hired by TNT Wrestling. He befriended Fly, joined his stable, everything. He even found out that Fly’s dad was still alive and set up for the two of them to meet for the first time ever. He became Fly’s closest confidant, and the things that Fly told him regarding the Ridder’s, he relayed back to the family. This is how Kent Strong was killed in the car accident. Andrea Williams, a staff member who was romantically involved with Fly, she was gunned down leaving Fly’s house. Jenkins was the person who made those events happen.
Shannan Lerch returns on our screen, in place of Tim Divine.
Lerch: These incidents give us a window in the personality of Jonny Fly. Why does he prefer the company of hookers versus real relationships? I mean, after all, it’s not like I didn’t throw myself at him his entire first year in the Wrestling Championship Federation.
Lerch: Why does Jonny Fly seem inherently skeptical of people? Why does he have so few friends in the industry? Why does he no longer use the services of an actual manager, or have compatible relationships with his administrative superiors? There’s a reason for all of it, and that reason is Ray Jenkins. It took Fly months to figure out what was happening, but when he did, his more violent side finally showed its face.
We return again to Officer Anderson in the confessional room.
Anderson: The murder of Ray Jenkins was one of the more gruesome crime scenes I’ve ever worked. I think a lot of people in our department thought Fly was a harmless wrestler trying to play thug until that day. Jenkins body was discovered in a mostly abandoned alley by a homeless man who just happened to walk by and notice the body. He was lying on his stomach and tied around the neck with rope. The other end of the rope was tied to a dumpster, so to anchor Jenkins in place and not allow him to slide backwards. His mouth was forced open and clamped to the curb. He was the beaten over the head with a baseball bat.
Anderson sighs and takes a deep pause after recollecting the details of Ray Jenkins murder.
Anderson: That’s when we realized we were dealing with a much more complex and multi-layered individual. That’s when we finally realized that we needed to stop Jonny Fly, that he wasn’t a naïve kid who got trapped in the web of the wrong people anymore. This was a bonafide criminal. He’d gone far beyond the steps of saving his own skin. He was now on the offensive. That’s when we got the FBI involved.
The scene goes black. Slowly, very slowly, it fades into the outline of Jonny Fly sitting in confessional once again. There’s a pain in his voice as he speaks.
Fly: There’s one thing I’m not allowed to talk about, one thing that I won’t talk about, and that’s my history with the FBI. The bureau made its fair share of mistakes in their investigation of…everything…
Fly uses the word everything versus calling himself out by name.
Fly: I made my share of mistakes too. Both parties suffered equally. We both lost friends, family. We both carried on in this…this…crusade for years, to no end, to no gain. My relationship with the FBI today I would term as love and hate. They harbored me when things got out of control. They protected me when things were at his worst. Even after everything we went through, they took me in. They realized that I was a victim – but unlike any victim they had encountered before. I was simply the lesser of the two evils. There were people in their ranks who disagreed with that decision. Those individuals took it upon themselves to ‘stop’ me. Those people paid the price. That’s the part of the FBI that I hate, and will always hate, and will always protect myself from using any means necessary.
Fly’s words ring through the camera, and his image fades away. We return to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: The friends and family Fly is surely referring to are fellow wrestlers, managers, and administrators from TNT Wrestling whose lives were lost in suspicious circumstances. The dad that Fly found was alive, was kidnapped and killed. These were the events that filled his life. The last straw was a rival wrestler, paid by the Ridder Family, hiring hitmen to take Fly’s life at a TNT taping. Fly escaped the attempt on his life, and ran…and kept running for months.
The scene cuts again. Back in the confessional room, we see a gray haired man wearing a suit. His name flashes underneath him; Cyrus Vance, New York City District Attorney.
Vance: The truth is, Fly made one last stop before heading out of town. He asked for a meeting with Charles Ridder, Jack Ridder’s youngest brother. We had cellphone records that prove this. Fly believed that Chuck had been behind the assassination attempt. We found Charles dead in an alley the next morning, and our lead suspect, Fly, was nowhere to be found. People have asked for years the reasons for his lengthy disappearance in 2006, and there’s the answer. He was on the run. He was actively being hunted by the Ridder Family, the FBI, our police officers, everyone.
Vance pauses for a moment. He reaches his arms upward and folds his hand behind his neck as he leans back in his chair…and smiles.
Vance: Honestly, I have no idea why he came back. Some say he missed wrestling, some say he’d caught wind that TNT was struggling, and others say he just simply refused to run away from his home. Either way, at the end of the day I suppose it was just stubbornness. When we learned he’d reemerged at a TNT show, we knew he’d be back in the city soon enough. He was arrested, and only then did he agree to help us put the Ridder Family behind bars. He didn’t help us willingly. He had no choice but to accept our olive branch and turn state’s witness. It was either that or he was going to jail for a long time. Some people questioned our decision to give Fly a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sometimes, you have to pick between two evils. Fly’s first-hand account of the things the Ridder Family had done promised to get the city’s biggest crime family behind bars. We couldn’t pass that up to seek justice against a vengeful professional wrestler. Fly was moved to a remote area of Oregon while the investigation took its course. Fly was cooperative the entire time. He underwent some counseling to fight some of the inner demons he possessed, and was a model citizen. What I don’t know is what happened in 2011. I don’t know how everything unraveled, for the Bureau, for Fly, and for the case against the Ridder Family.
We cut to a different scene.
November 13th, 2011
The scene fades in centered on an old television set. The channels of the television are flipping aimlessly.
The channels stop flipping. A female news reporter sits alone on set and we catch her mid-sentence…
...thank you for that report, Jim. We move to the world of sports where we have learned some interesting news this evening. Wrestler Jonny Fly has re-emerged from protective custody this week.
Some of you will remember four years ago when Fly was the target of multiple attacks at TNT shows after a disgruntled wrestler hired hitmen to take Fly’s life. That investigation concluded last month with over 20 arrests, including several from a notorious New York City crime family.
Fly is a Hall of Famer in TNT Wrestling, and a five-time World Champion. His problems outside of the wrestling ring have earned him as much publicity as his exploits inside the ring. Fly himself has been the target of multiple investigations for kidnapping, arson, and even murder.
The wrestling world has changed a lot in these last four years. TNT Wrestling has been out of business since 2008, after never fully recovering from his absence. Initial reports are that Fly will resume his wrestling career, and has chosen to sign with the Wrestling Championship Federation.
The television suddenly flips off. Scene is faded out.
The scene switches to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: Jonny Fly removed himself from witness protection in 2011. He’d already done his part in the FBI’s investigation, and grew restless. He believed that the Bureau was keeping him in Oregon in order to continue controlling him. The truth was, the FBI wasn’t releasing Fly because Jack and John Ridder escaped the investigation without being convicted. They were worried about his safety. This is Jonny Fly we’re talking about however, and he became convinced that the FBI was simply never going to allow him to return to New York. Technically, with the investigation concluded Fly’s inclusion in witness protection was voluntary…so he left, and returned to the city, and sport, that he loved.
We head back to the confessional room where Seth Lerch is now sitting.
Seth: Why did I hire Jonny Fly? Honestly, I ask myself that every day. I really didn’t know too much about him when we decided to extend a contract. He was pretty far off the radar at that point. I remembered the name, but not because of his ability in the wrestling ring. I heard some stories about some things he got mixed up in and I remember thinking to myself, “OH MY GOD HE’D BE PERFECT HERE!” Seriously though, what we call this in the industry is a flyer. We took a shot on someone who seemed to have an impressive resume, but who hadn’t been in a ring in four years. I suppose from a wrestling standpoint it worked out better that we could have ever imagined, but from a personal standpoint…
Seth’s words trail off. We quickly switch back to Shannnan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: While Jonny Fly had been able to restart his career, the Ridder Family hadn’t been able to restart their career…and they weren’t happy about it. The FBI’s investigation took down some of the key members of the organization. In the weeks after Fly had returned to the wrestling ring, an FBI sniper shot and killed John Ridder. Privately, Jack Ridder blamed Fly for the event.
We cut back to the confessional room where Officer Anderson is sitting once again.
Anderson: Jack Ridder was very good at connecting the dots. Here he and his eldest son had survived the Bureau’s all-out assault on his organization, even with the testimony of Jonny Fly in their pocket. Now, Fly comes back to New York and weeks later his son is dead. The FBI agent that pulled the trigger would be murdered himself, just a short while late. It was the same agent charged with Fly’s protective detail in Oregon. The Bureau would never answer why he was in New York. I think the real way to phrase that, is they COULD NEVER answer why he was in New York. Jack Ridder smelled the cover up from a mile away. With his oldest son dead, his organization in shambles, and Jonny Fly back in the city resurrecting old grudges, Jack Ridder had a decision to make.
We go straight from Officer Anderson to another scene, this one with Corey Black speaking to the camera.
Black: I didn’t know Fly really well at the time. I mean, when he first joined WCF I wanted nothing to do with him. He was just another loud mouthed rookie who wanted to act like they were the next coming of, well, me. Knowing Fly as well as I do now, I can tell you that it was Jack Ridder who approached him about joining his organization. It was the ultimate swerve move. Fly had a good thing going in WCF. He was making waves. He was one of the quickest wrestlers to ingrain himself into the WCF’s main event scene that I can remember. I don’t know why he choose to take Jack Ridder up on his offer. To this day…no idea. He didn’t need to turn into some high end criminal. It was dumb. He had too much going for him.
We head back to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: When the FBI learned that Fly was now working with Jack Ridder, after all they had done for him in the past, suffice to say they were not very happy. They moved hard on the duo. Jack Ridder would eventually bow out completely, giving his organization to Jonny Fly. The man who was once hunted to no end by the Ridder Family, now running the organization.
We go back to Seth Lerch.
Seth: Jonny Fly’s problem is, and always has been, that he carries the burdens of his past. He can’t let them go. His baggage has always brought him down, always strayed him toward the wrong choices. He’s been in as many interrogation rooms as arenas. He’s comfortable there. That’s another problem. He always thinks he’ll slither out of any trouble he finds himself in. It’s that same stubborn, cocky attitude that I’ve had issues with in WCF since he was hired. Let there be no doubt, Jonny Fly brings fans, money, and prestige to WCF. He pushes people to be better. He’s done a good job of setting a high, competitive standard.
He’s also BARELY worth the trouble. Fly and I have clashed, everyone knows that. Apparently that’s no different that the owners he’s had before. He told me more times that I can remember that he’s been ‘reformed.’ The first time was after he framed me for the murder of an FBI agent that I’m fairly sure he committed himself. Nobody was able to prove that, but why go through all the trouble of framing me if he was innocent? That was the first time he alleged to be on the right track. Pantheon was created, and helped clear my name and get me out of prison. Fly was remorseful for what he’d done. He started throwing all of his money around to charities and the like, but it was all for show. It’s ALWAYS for show. Fly was back in legal trouble by September, arrested during WAR, costing me a PPV World Title match and nearly upstaging my biggest match of the year.
The scene cuts away, and Shannan Lerch returns.
Lerch: Pantheon became a calming influence for Jonny Fly. It’s something that’s given him purpose, versus the normal monotony of just going out and trying to win matches. Whether it’s been Kid Phantasm, Jeff Purse, or Corey Black, there’s always been a wrestler in the group that’s been able to reach Fly when he’d start to waver in his conviction to the Pantheon cause. This is something that Seth Lerch knows all too well. Jonny Fly found his way out of prison in two months. During that time, he’d seen from afar the things Seth was doing – cutting salaries and funneling that money into private accounts. Fly decided that it was up to him, and Pantheon, to stop the tyranny. Through some very shrewd business maneuvers, and some incompetence from Seth, Fly managed to buy out the company from under him. He returned to Slam revealing what he’d done, and offered Seth a chance to get his company back.
We cut away, going to WCF interview extraordinaire Hank Brown in the confessional room.
Brown: That was Jonny Fly at his very best. I remember when he first joined, he was unapproachable backstage. The chip on his shoulder was larger than his own head. He had no intention of making friends. He talked down to anyone, even ten year veterans like Corey Black within his first month. Now here he was, just released from prison, coming back like the proverbial white knight and literally TAKING the company from Seth Lerch and giving it back to the wrestlers. This is the Jonny Fly that the fans love. Not the dark masochist we’ve seen before. In my opinion, on that day, we saw the true Jonny Fly.
People talk about Fly allegedly framing Seth Lerch. I’ve even heard people say he committed the murder that Seth was charged with committing. They forget, Seth was using standard WCF drug tests to dope Fly with high amounts of amphetamines, causing erratic behavior. It was at that same time Seth was doing the same thing to Jay Price. People forget, that’s how the first Price became a member of Pantheon. Fly came back for vengeance, yes, but he did it the right way – the Pantheon way. He used Seth’s own greed against him to buy out the company. Then he gave him one chance to keep it. If he agreed to wrestle Fly at One, and won, he could have his company back and all the money Fly paid for it. If he refused, he would be out of the company forever. Fly just wanted a chance to beat the hell out of Seth for what he’d done…and it worked. Despite a number of wrestlers interfering, Fly beat Lerch, kept the company, and got to hand out some retribution…legally.
We head back to the studio to rejoin Shannan Lerch.
Lerch: With Fly and Pantheon in charge, WCF entered a stage where ownership openly aimed to do right by the wrestlers. Raises and bonuses were given, pension plans were set up, and title shots were given to those who earned them, versus whoever sucked up to Seth the most. This carried on for months, until one event changed the course of Pantheon’s history and broke up what seemed to be an inseparable duo, Jonny Fly and Jeff Purse.
The scene changes back to the confessional room, where Jayson Price is now sitting.
Price: Jeff Purse started hanging out with Sarah Twilight. That was what really changed Fly and Purse’s relationship. As we just saw last week, things between those two have just never been the same. Purse blamed Eric Price for hitting him with a car, causing Purse to miss months of action. Fly, trying to not show favoritism in his position as WCF Owner, told Purse he needed to provide evidence to prove it. Purse never did that. He started hanging out with Twilight, a rival of Price’s, and even messed up his relationship with Kari in the process. I don’t know what happened there, I guess that was before Twilight was a lesbian?
Anyway, Fly was pissed at Purse as Twilight was a long-time enemy of the group. Purse thought Fly didn’t have his back, that as a friend he should be helping him get back at Eric Price instead of condemning him for it. Purse was one of the original members of Pantheon, with Kid Phantasm, Bobby Cairo, and Fly. With Phantasm and Cairo were gone, Purse and Fly carried on the torch. When the two of them had their falling out, Pantheon fell out with them. It was made public that it was Twilight who had hit Purse with the car. As a ‘fuck you, I told you so’ to Purse, Fly sold the company to his biggest rival, Eric Price. Of course, Price and Fly were never on good terms and Price then proceeded to fire him. Pantheon was dead. The friendship between Fly and Purse was dead. Through it all, until the end, I supported everything that Jonny Fly did. Selling the company to Eric Price out of spite was stupid, but no dumber than befriending that witch Sarah Twilight.
We switch back to Corey Black in the confessional room.
Black: I never lost touch with Fly after that. We were friends. It all just became too much for him. It’s not natural for him to try to please other people, but that’s what he signed up for when he took over the company and vowed to undo Seth’s wrongs. Between the constant bitching of the roster, the target on Pantheon’s back, and of all people his friend Jeff Purse openly questioning him, things got bad real quick. Upon leaving WCF, Fly…
Black pauses for a moment. He shakes his head a bit before continuing.
Black: Fly went off the deep end. I don’t really know all the details, but he was in a dark place. His connections in that New York criminal underworld brought him back in. He told me once that he wanted to ‘take over New York.’ The next thing I know, one of the mayoral candidates is dead, and Bobby Cairo is being sworn in. All I know is that he came back to WCF as a different person. I’m not just talking about how he popped in, beat the World Champion at XIII and won War. I’m not talking about inside the ring. He was just…cold. We all know about what he’d do to Steve Orbit months later. That was the final straw for me. I supported Jonny Fly though all his issue last fall. After One, after he nearly ruined Steve Orbit’s life, I was done with him. EVERYONE was done with him. It’s hard to let a friend go though…and even harder when, like me, you know the type of person Jonny Fly can be.
We pause on Black’s face for a few seconds, before the scene slowly fades away and returns to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: The latest reformation of Pantheon was Corey Black pulling together three wayward souls to unite in a common purpose. The WCF was in a state of decline, he said. He knew the combined power of Jayson Price, Steve Orbit, and Jonny Fly, and knew the group would possess the ability to help turn things around. Fly apologized directly to Orbit, proclaimed that he wanted to make things right, and eventually over time Orbit was able to forgive him. Price and Black buried the hatchet. Months later, even Jeff Purse and Jonny Fly were able to make amends. Since that time, the saga of Jonny Fly has been mostly drama free. Even after Orbit and now Purse have turned on him, and Pantheon, Fly hasn’t found the need to seek out revenge. The violent personality of the past is only seen today in the wrestling ring. The question is, the same as it’s always been, is this Jonny Fly here to stay?
We head back to Tim Divine, one of the people who has known Fly the longest, for an answer to that question.
Tim Divine: These internal battles have crafted Fly’s career. Think of them like unstable atoms that are inside of him. They’re colliding and releasing energy – energy that is capable of destroying anything in its path. Sometimes they destroy him. Sometimes he’s able to harvest that energy, and put it to work inside the ring. There are a lot of layers to Jonny Fly. There’s no excuse for the things he’s done. I still feel its cause and effect. He’s not a bad person. In fact, I think he’s a very simple man. He lives for one purpose. His mission is to become the undisputed greatest wrestler in history. Only then will he rest. Only then will those internal battles cease, that stubbornness fade away, and that chip on his shoulder fall apart. Only then…will Jonny Fly find peace.
Tim Divine’s image is replaced by a black screen. A quote is shown scrolling down the screen.
“When you live the life I have, you tend to not believe in luck. It never came my way. All I know how to do is fight. Not just in the context of going into the ring and finding a way to win a tough match. I fight for everything. I fight to sit here today. It wasn’t easy. I had to make some decisions that no man should ever be forced to make. Whatever you want to make of me, and what I’ve done, that’s fine. I understand. Give me this though, none of it was luck. This was the opposite of luck. I just played the hand I was dealt, the best I could. That doesn’t mean the hand was very pleasant. I’d like to think I’m a success story, but everyone defines success differently. I’m here today, and that’s how I define my own success. Like I said before, I wouldn’t change anything I’ve ever done.
We return to Shannan Lerch in the studio.
Lerch: Jonny Fly finds himself on the cusp of his second appearance at War. Last year, he survived a record two and a half hours in the company’s biggest match. Now, he takes this war that rages within, and turns it loose, in what he’s sure to call the biggest match of his career. This has been Shannan Lerch, for WCF wrestling…and we leave you with Jonny Fly…who I’ve had sex with…a bunch of times…just so everyone knows….BYE!
The scene cuts from the studio over to Jonny Fly, back in the confessional room.
Fly: Wrestlers spend their whole careers thinking they’re the whirlwind. They all believe they’re a force of nature, and can’t accept that perhaps someone else is better than them. There are very few opportunities for the normal wrestler to show that, unequivocally, they are the best. Most of the time we just say it, and we point to the things we’ve done to provide substance. I love War because it’s an opportunity to match skills with thirty some odd other wrestlers who believe they’re that untouchable, dominant force.
At the end of the day, War is a stage for very few. The good majority of the entrants will be thoroughly embarrassed, and disposed of in just a few minutes. Some will linger longer, hoping to join the rarest of clubs in the WCF. There are more Hall of Famers in this company than there are War winners, and far more former World Champions. This is a special club, and this is a special match. I enter as the defending champion, and I intend to leave the match with that same title.
The list of individuals I’ll have to defeat is impressive, but to be perfectly honest, it’s no more impressive than the group I successfully navigated last year. With that said, allow me to offer everyone this; you’re all most certainly looking at my entry into War as one of the biggest obstacles toward your own hopes and dreams of winning this match.
After all, I’m not big and strong like Oblivion. I’m not well trained like Corey Black. I’m not ultra-fast like a Jay Omega. I don’t have fuckin’ God on my side like Steeltoe Joe, or super alien skills like Biohazard and Tyler Walker. I’m not a Hall of Famer like Torture, Bobby Cairo, Logan, or Gravedigger. Hell, once I even lost to Jay Price! I win for no other reason than an infinite determination – a will to win that has no equal. Here’s something else; I’m the best ‘big-match’ wrestler in this company’s history.
I’ve never lost challenging for a World Title. I’ve never lost at One. I’m one-for-one at both Ultimate Showdown and War. I won every_single_tournament possible in this company. Now, I’m going out there to do something nobody has ever done before. I’m going out there to break another boundary. I’m moving beyond simple titles and accomplishments, into folklore, myth, and legend. There are no limits to the things that I can do, that I will continue to do.
These are the things that motivate me. I don’t need the World Title on the line. This is what I live for. History is in the balance. It’s Jonny Fly versus the entire company…
Fly moves in closer to the screen and says his final words.
Fly: ...though, in truth, it’s more like the entire fuckin’ company versus Jonny Fly. That’s the only way anyone stands a chance.
Fly winks at the camera.
Fly: I look forward to outlasting all of you - again.
A smiles flashes on Fly’s face. The scene pauses on his image momentarily, before slowly fading to blackness.