MELISSA DIAZ: This is Melissa Diaz with the FWF and I'm in Brooklyn. Specifically, the apartment of Jace Wheeler. Per his instructions I, and I quote 'picked up the key from the bodega guy downstairs, and tell him Jace sent me.' And now, having climbed the four flights of stairs, I think I'm at the right place.
The camera pans around to multiple doors. One has a wreath over the peephole, another's doorframe is surrounded by multi-colored Christmas lights and a third has a laminated poster from Tokyo Organization of Puroresu's 2001 Hyper Visual struggle Tour taped to it. Melissa tries the key, and it works the first time.
VOICE: If this is a realtor, step off! I am still the legal tenant and my rent stabilized lease remains in force!
DIAZ: (To audience) Yeah, definitely the right place. (and back to Jace) Are you at least wearing a shirt this time?
VOICE: No, but it's my apartment! And I'm being paid for this on-screen appearances! I do not have to wear a shirt in either case. Also! Second door on the left.
Melissa Diaz, professional interviewer, finds herself in a room dominated by a large glass cylinder with a tap in the bottom. It's basically a five-gallon mason jar full of a cloudy yellowish liquid with something... spongy floating on it. There's also a mattress set on a box-spring in a corner of the room. An actual closet. A few dozen weights of varying descrption. A good fifteen cardboard boxes, mostly still taped up. And that terrifying cylinder. Also, despite it being freezing outside, the windows are all open.
DIAZ: Anyone in there?
VOICE: Yeah, through here.
The camera pans, the cameraman stepping gingerly around the Jar of Mystery. And over to the window. Which leads out to the fire-escape. From which hangs a shirtless Jace Wheeler with nothing on above the waist but a pair of faux-fur leopard print mittens. He pulls himself up so his chin rests on the base of the fire escape, then he lets himself hang down, his feet dangling over the alley before lifting himself again. He will continue to do this for the rest of the interview.
DIAZ: So, Jace, before we get started, one question...
JACE: The mittens are necessary because the metal is cold enough to negate the heat from the pull-ups. The pull ups are necessary because I take my fitness very seriously. Have you heard of Wim Hof? That Dutchman who culturally appropriated Tibetan Teachings so he could climb snow-capped mountains in nothing but a thin pair of athletic shorts because his wife killed herself?
DIAZ: That wasn't my question. But that was a very comprehensive answer.
JACE: So what was your question?
JACE: That's my kombucha. You know, fermented tea. I get, like, a fifth of my daily calories and nearly all my non-raw carbs from it. I feel fantastic and haven't farted in the past month.
JACE: I keep a chart. All my charts, spreadsheets and workout playlists are on my premium Snapchat.
DIAZ: It's got...stuff...floating on it.
JACE: That's the scoby, y'know, the vital fungal cultures. You want to start your own kombucha? I'll cut it in half, and you can get your own brewing. It's about ready to bud...
DIAZ: I think I'll pass.
JACE: Your loss, really good for the skin, though.
DIAZ: What's wrong with my skin?
JACE: Nothing yet, but all that harsh light and camera-friendly makeup'll take its toll.
DIAZ: I'll live.
JACE: So why're you here, anyway. I mean, not that I...
Jace switches his grip so now his hands are crossed
JACE: Object to professionally attractive young women in my apartment, particuarly those who are interested in me.
DIAZ: Well, nothing about that sentence is technically inaccurate...
JACE: Ex-actly. And it is the implications in which the true meanings are stored. For the sake of the audience, let me unpack, you shot a hell of a lot of footage last week of me going back to the East Coast with the as-yet-unmentioned Mr. Buddy Showtime. Should be more than enough for both promos.
DIAZ: Yeah, about that. A lot of it turned out to be unusable. We at the FWF acknowledge that you're all about authenticity.
JACE: Hell fucking yeah.
DIAZ: But a lot of it was...
JACE: Too raw? Too deep?
DIAZ: Rambling, incoherent and/or actually criminal.
JACE: Look Yaqui Larry's Authentic Native American Church of Authentic Native American Sprituality is a legally recognized religion.
DIAZ: Despite "Yaqui Larry" being neither Mexican nor Native American in the least per federal court findings.
JACE: He was acquitted, you must admit.
DIAZ: Regardless, we should be able to have a final cut up later in the week.
JACE: But you needed something this week.
DIAZ: Precisely. So, you'll be going up first against the Raging Dead.
JACE: At Make America Wrestle Again, Christmas Day Eve at the Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont Texas! That's right!
DIAZ: So what do you think of your chances?
JACE: Well, I've got a torrent of all the Dead's big matches downloading. It's taking longer than I thought?
DIAZ: Lots of matches? High-quality encoding?
JACE: Nobody's seeding. Might actually have to pay a tape trader, like it's the nineties. I spent every cent of my allowance on wrestling tapes, so I had to Limewire all the tunes. Or go on MP3 blogs, do you remember MP3 blogs?
DIAZ: Do you mean like MySpace?
JACE just sighs.
DIAZ: OK. Shirtless, condescending.
JACE: Look, I wouldn't be so down if I hadn't made a mistake.
DIAZ: What, did you break a nail?
JACE: No. I listened to my opponent's theme song.
DIAZ: Yeah, he mentioned he'd been listening to yours...
JACE: It's rap-metal.
JACE: Rap. Metal.
DIAZ: And what's wrong with rap metal?
JACE: Is it 1980?
DIAZ: Well given your ring pants.
JACE: Thank you. I commit to color-blocking.
DIAZ: But no.
JACE: Because that was when the last competent Rap-Metal band was formed.
DIAZ: What about...
JACE: Please, please, let's not get into arguing music. You already stated you're not into this bod. And I respect that, professional decorum.
DIAZ: That's one reason.
JACE: But this is distracting from the main point. Do you know how far it is from where I am to where the Walking Dead is?
DIAZ: It's just across the border...
JACE: Six point Eight Miles. I checked it out on Google Maps.
DIAZ: You didn't find out for yourself?
JACE: What's there? An All You Can Eat Buffet? Bars where the game is always playing? The Historic Aqueduct Racetrack where you can bet on the ponies? And six point eight miles, here I am.
DIAZ: In fully-gentrified Williamsburg.
JACE: Yes, I will admit, it's nowhere near as real as it was a decade ago. In 2010 you could score coke at nearly any bar, not just the gay bars. In 2010 you could attend a show in a grimy, cement walled space with grimy couches and cheap beers that's now been bulldozed and turned into the Vice Magazine offices. But the Brooklyn Bowl still stands. In 2010 my people claimed the streets, now we've been dispersed to Greenpoint, to Bushwick and yea, even to Philadelphia. But we do not touch Ozone Park.
DIAZ: Because the rent's too high?
JACE: Because there's no goddamn soul! Raging Dead, I know this is going to be a war of attrition. You have your years of experience. You paid your dues in the chicken suit. You lost your mind. And now your back. Wiser, sadder, older. You've got no knee cartilage! Your joints pop like breakfast cereal. You train with friends, family and trusted students. I train on bare metal, with nothing but me and a thirty foot drop but muscle, willpower and a pair of sweet Adidas Onitsuka Tigers.
DIAZ: Are those the Tokidoki Collaboration?
JACE: You know it! But that's the issue! I keep going forward. Williamsburg keeps moving forward. I'm learning new moves every day. I'm getting better everyday. And the dead?
DIAZ: What about him?
JACE: He's stuck when Rap-Metal was big.
JACE: 2005. Rap Metal was competent in 1980 but it was never good.
- Raging Dead