By Wynn Parks
Cameron Frost—The Master in pro wrestling circles—parts the black, spotlit curtains and strides in like a stubble-faced badass, a biker-gang enforcer. It’s on the line for Frost, and he doesn’t know it. The crowd erupts. Someone shouts, “Welcome to Thunderdome!”
The spot follows Frost to a chain link cage where he tosses his shades and black jacket to the referee. As he climbs into the ring, the cage is secured after him. The 6’1”, 260-pounder bounces from foot to foot, shaking out his neck and shoulders; eyeballing the opposite corner for “Scarface” Waylon Barley to appear. Barley is head honcho of New Heights Wrestling, the Panhandle’s itinerant pro wrestling troupe. He’s a wrestler himself.
Suddenly, it’s head-honcho Barley at the technicians’ table. Clutching a microphone, he launches into an epic narrative, bellowing about it being NHW’s 10th anniversary, and he’s outraged because his match wasn’t scheduled closer to the main event. So he refuses to wrestle Frost, and in a snit, shamelessly connives with a weasely co-conspirator to lock Frost in the cage with certain destruction.
The announcer croons:
Ladies and gentlemen, New Heights Wrestling is pleased to announce a change in the card. The following match will be between Master Cameron Frost..,” and something called Tweedle-Die.
The spotlight turns back, and through the black curtains—boom-bah-bah-boom, for the ring—comes 600-pounder Tweedle-Die, a Humpty-Dumpty monster clown. He squeezes through the cage gate sideways and climbs into the ring like an oil tanker wenching into dry dock.
The bell dings. Frost springs from his corner, throwing himself against the human mountain, but bounces back, landing flat on the mat.
The struggle staggers back and forth, but always Tweedle-Die’s bulk repels Frost’s attacks. The Master’s “spine busters” only end up getting him belly-busted into the corner turnbuckles.
“Hey, Frost’s in a lot of trouble!” the announcer bubbles.
But the table turns when Tweedle-Die “Irish whips” Frost through the ropes. With Frost momentarily trapped, Tweedle begins to work him over. No doubt seeing stars, Frost digs deep, locks onto Tweedle with exquisite timing, and yanks the behemoth through the ropes.
Suddenly, Tweedle-Die himself is crushed between rope and cage, crying out bitterly—“AARRR! I’m stuck. I can’t get out!”—while the crowd roars with bloodthirsty pleasure.
The bell rings. Because of Tweedle-Die’s immolation, Frost is declared the winner.
The Master makes for the cage gate. His suppressed annoyance at being obstructed erupts. Frost kicks it out and is headed for the exit when Barley’s weasel protests loudly, “No, no, it’s a fluke! He can’t lose for being stuck!”
Frustrated by the failure of his scheme, Waylon Barley grabs a mike and, speaking as The Decider, declares that if Tweedle-Die is disqualified, Frost must finish the match against T-Bird—a longhaired Allman Brother wannabe, lean, agile and blonde. Barley makes T-Bird his assassin, shamelessly offering the number-one contender position for the heavyweight championship, to the winner.
Thirty-six years ago, Cameron Frost’s parents, Air Force Sgt. and Mrs. Harris, named him Bobby.
“My fascination with professional wrestling goes back to the age of four,” Bobby says. “We lived in Guam. I loved watching Wrestlemania II on TV. Pro wrestling is entertainment. Guess that makes me a starving performance artist…
“Hah, I’m about as totally Florida-boy as any Air Force brat can be—graduated Rutherford High in Panama City… ‘Cameron Frost’ is my wrestling persona. I just couldn’t (picture) fans buying Bobby Harris t-shirts.”
In civvies, Harris is an easygoing government contract cleaner who listens to Radiohead and Queens of the Stone Age and kicks back with the occasional Yuengling. As for food? “All kinds,” he laughs. “We were Air Force, and my mom is Thai, so if you’re not into weird food, you don’t eat!”
In a profession where the odds of breaking in are against wrestlers over 30, T-Bird’s gold and blue tresses, along with his 10-foot tall and bulletproof attitude, screams Billy Joe Hotshot.
The contest becomes one of movement and agility as the two trade tit-for-tat body slams, head butts, and thumbs to the eye. At a critical point, the Youngblood thinks the 36-year-old will still be flat on the mat when he does a flying, forward gainer off the top of the cage.
Discombobulated by the effects of dropping eight feet onto his back, T-Bird staggers upright and succeeds in slipping Frost’s winded, sweaty grip. But the end comes when a pie-eyed T-Bird climbs instinctively to the top of the cage again. This time Frost dogs him, exploiting T-Bird’s roosting instinct and trapping him on top with a submission hold that forces the young Adonis to tap out.
The Master survives, bloody but unbowed. Bobby Harris calls it entertainment and it’s the biggest hoot of an apocalypse—good against evil—since the medieval morality play.