Murphy gives a voice to the dreamers of the (wrestling) business. -Mike Johnson, Pro Wrestling Insider.
The best wrestling book you've never heard of. -Josh Ray, Missouri Wrestling Revival
Barnes & Noble.com
It’s been called the greatest show on earth and the biggest farce in entertainment. Professional wrestling, though hated as equally as it is loved, is inarguably a major player in American culture. The multi-billion dollar industry has transformed from athletic competition to a live theatrical performance and a demonstration of athletic skill. Matt Murphy knows this; he has been a part of the show.
The Story of a Nobody, and the Pursuit to Become a Somebody is a unique recollection of Murphy’s troubled youth and the childhood dream he never outgrew—to become a professional wrestler. He became a bright young prospect in the sport, battling grown men and his own personal demons along the way.
This book is not intended exclusively for wrestling fans: anyone can, in some way, relate to his story. It is not only a success story, but the true account of the maturing of a man. Funny, informative, and politically incorrect in every sense of the term, Murphy pulls no punches as he invites readers into the intriguing life he has led.
I’ve never believed that a person is dealt a bad hand in life, though some are unfortunate enough to get a hand that may look terrible on the surface. In any game, though, whether in a game of cards or in the game of life, each player’s success, or lack thereof, can be directly attributed to how he plays
his cards. Sometimes the man shoveling the spoils of victory from the center of the table isn’t the man whose hand looked the most promising at first glance.
It saddens me that most of those dealt what appears to be a bad hand spend so much time feeling sorry for themselves that they fail to spot their ace in the hole; therefore, they end up folding their cards and walking away from the table with their heads down. We’ve all seen it on the news. Some reporter is sitting in a correctional facility with some late-teens kid who is telling the sob story: “My daddy left when I was three. My mom was a crack whore and I never got any cool toys
for Christmas. That’s why I ax-murdered nine people and robbed the local five-and-dime. It’s not my fault.”
I suppose I was dealt in life what most would see as a bad hand. I didn’t have it as rough as some kids, but things weren’t easy. That’s for damn sure. I was second-born to a single mother named Brenda Lee Murphy on January 18, 1979. My life began in a trailer court in Northeast Missouri. That’s right, I’m trailer trash, but so is Kid Rock, and now he’s banging Pamela Anderson Lee, so what of it?
I always felt awkward filling out registration papers in school. I’d list my mother’s name and pen in Unknown where my father’s name belonged. I felt
uncomfortable because I always felt like, after my teachers read this, they would treat me differently for being a bastard. Maybe it’s good I never had a
dad, though. I’ve known a lot of kids whose dads were pricks.
Mom never seemed to find the right guy for her. In reality, she probably rejected a hundred guys who would have taken care of the three of us, but I think Mom feared stability because of her insatiable desire to rebel against the standards set by her conservative parents. Mom loved to party, so most of the men she dated were barflies— not the cool guy kicking ass on the dart board, either. She’d pick the guys who, of those who had jobs, would get off work and stay at the bar from happy hour till closing time every night.
My brother, Shane, and I were in bars a lot when we were young kids. Maybe that explains my love for old-school bar music—Johnny Cash, David
Allen Coe, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Steppenwolf, and so on. Who doesn’t like that music? The fact that I was in so many honky-tonks didn’t do much to help me
when it came to shooting pool, but it made quite a contribution to my vocabulary. I must say, I can cuss with the best of them. I don’t use the GD
word, I hate that word, but even a tennis shoe becomes a fucking shoe when I describe it. I never did quite master the Queen’s English.
If you’re reading this, I appreciate the fact you didn’t skip to the part where I begin wrestling. I think a reader must read this story, start-to-finish,
to completely understand it, and to understand me. Someone please send this message from the author to those pricks that skipped over all of this—Thanks for buying the book. When you’re finished, be sure to go rent a movie and fast-forward through the first half-hour of it, eh?
My mom married this guy named Kyle in 1986. He was the second of her five husbands. If at first you don’t succeed... right? I’m not judging Mom...hell, at least she kept trying to find Mr. Right.
I doubt God gave Himself a blue ribbon for bestowing Kyle upon the world. He was a cock-sucking prick. I never seen the guy suck a cock or even heard a rumor concerning the matter, but Kyle must have been sweet on someone in the joint, given the time he spent there.
Kyle was a typical white-trash piece of shit. He did a shit-load of drugs and was always looking for a fight. He always liked Shane better, perhaps because Shane was a menacing little shit when he was a kid. My brother was the kind of kid who always wanted to see the villain win in the end of a movie. Kyle thought I was soft. I was polite and not at all confrontational. I’d rather be respected and liked than feared.
Mom and Kyle’s relationship was rocky, to say the least. Kyle would frequently get drunk or high or low and beat the piss out of Mom. We’d go visit the grandparents and Mom would hide the effects of her marriage with heavier makeup than a pizza face on picture day. Mom always underestimated Grandma and Grandpa’s common sense.
Mom was working at Hardee’s in Keokuk, Iowa, to support us until she ruptured a disk in her back at work while reaching for a hamburger. Her manager threatened to fire her if she went home so she finished the night of work. Months later, Mom was awarded around thirteen thousand dollars in a
settlement from Hardee’s. She used five thousand of the settlement to bail Kyle out of jail while he was awaiting trial for burglarizing a church. Of all
places to rob, he picked a church, the dumb shit. His prison boyfriend must have had a birthday coming up or something.
A few days after receiving the settlement, Mom and Kyle had a few friends over at our shack near the tiny town of Revere, Missouri, just north of
Kahoka. Kyle got all boozed up and beat Mom up pretty badly while Shane and I stood just a few feet away. After the assault, Mom, Shane, and I walked
a couple of miles down the highway to the nearest house and called the police.
My great-uncle Doc was a police officer in Clark County at the time, and he heard the report on his CB radio. Doc called my grandpa, Larry, who
pulled up to our diminutive house right as the cops were arriving. Grandpa had been close friends with the sheriff for decades. The cops waited outside
while Grandpa grabbed a stick and went into the house. I watched through the window as Grandpa used the stick to beat the piss out of Kyle and I couldn’t help but feel a little Murphy pride in watching Grandpa lay the smack down
old-school style on one of the most feared men in the area.
Mom moved Shane and me around a lot. She had this nice little scam going for her. We’d move into a new town and we’d sometimes have to sleep
in our car the first night. The next day she’d go to a local church, put on her Sunday face, and come out of the church with enough contributions to rent us
a dumpy house in whatever town in whatever state we were in. She’d barely get our bags in the door before she was on her way to the family services
office to sign up for welfare and food stamps.
It wouldn’t take long before Mom would shack up with one of the local drunks and he’d be living with us. Man, these guys were always winners. They’d come home drunk and the ones that didn’t beat her senseless would always want to sit down with Shane and me and slur their ways through profanity-laced speeches, mostly about stupid shit, from why our mother is a good lady to how Merle Haggard and Jack Daniel are the two greatest men to ever live. Amazingly, it seemed every white-trash barfly Mom dated also claimed to know Willie Nelson. Some would be kind enough to tell us about growing up back in the Olden Days. The Olden Days is to rednecks what Back in the Day is to most of us. Luckily, most of these morons would pass out
before they finished their attempts at storytelling.
Mom would hang out at the bars almost every night. She was a damn talented manipulator, and maybe could have been a politician. She’d borrow
money from drunken people who barely knew her name, often friends of her boyfriend of the week. She’d borrow and borrow and, when her next welfare check came, she’d move us on to the next town.
No, the people never got their money back. If someone is reading this and my mom owes you money, don’t approach me about it or I’ll kick your ass. If you’re a woman, I’ll kick your boyfriend’s ass. If you’re a woman and you don’t have a boyfriend, I’ll choke the shit out of you. Jeez, people, would you lighten up? I’d never physically abuse a female. I witnessed enough of that as
I’m not trying to paint a horrible picture of my mother. Mom knows she has made some stupid choices, and I’ve forgiven her for the ones that affected me. I have no room in my life for bitterness. Because of Mom’s scams, we moved around a lot. Shane and I attended thirteen schools during my first grade year, surely a single-year record. If not, perhaps the fifty-one total schools I attended from kindergarten through sixth
grade has a shot at the all-time mark. Because I never stayed in any school long enough to get to know all of my classmates’ names, I never got any
pussy... um, hang on. I’m a few years ahead of myself. What I meant to say was I never made a lot of friends in grade school because I moved around so much.
Though I didn’t have many friends, I was seldom alone. My brother and I hung out together all the time. I had my own heroes growing up, but Shane
was always at the top of the list. I followed him everywhere and tried to be just like him. He had to think I was an annoying little twerp. Twerp? I haven’t used that word in a decade.
Shane and I would sit by the cassette player and record all the good songs off the radio, and we’d sit around listening to them. He’d tell also dirty jokes
and record them onto cassette. I tried doing the same, but my jokes were never really funny to anybody except me. They still aren’t usually funny to others, but I still laugh at them. I found more humor in my own bodily functions than anything. Don’t shake your head, guys. Tell me you’ve never giggled after you cut the cheese and I’ll call you a liar. I still think they’re funny. Free entertainment. Screw you guys, I still watch cartoons, too.
Most of all, though, I occupied my time with the most fascinating thing I had ever encountered... professional wrestling. My brother, who’s not a big wrestling fan, introduced me to the sport when I was six years old. We were roughhousing around in an Aldi’s discount grocery store parking lot in Keokuk, Iowa, and he billed me Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat, while he was going to be Randy Savage. I had never heard of either wrestler but I knew that I wanted to be Steamboat, since I thought “the Dragon” was a pretty damn cool nickname.
I inquired further about this “wrestling” that he spoke of, and he went on this long spiel about the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling
Entertainment, Inc.) and Hulk Hogan and about how he and Kyle used to watch wrestling late at night. Ignoring the fact that Shane got to stay up later than I did, I continued to seek his knowledge about the sport. That’s right, I called it a sport.
Professional wrestling has captivated me since that day in the Aldi’s parking lot. I became obsessed with wrestling and everything about it. Mom loved it
because she knew she could rent me a wrestling videotape and I’d sit in front of the television and watch the tape several times over while she partied.
When most children were looking up to sports stars like Ozzie Smith, Walter Payton, and Michael Jordan, I was worshipping Ricky Steamboat, the Islanders, Ricky Morton, the Von Erichs, and Tito Santana. Just like most kids, I liked the good guys and hated the bad guys. The Midnight Express and the late Curt Hennig were just too cool to dislike, though. While I had several favorites, Steamboat was by far my favorite wrestler. I was obsessed with that guy, and I finally got to meet him a couple of times this past year.
Mom couldn’t usually afford to buy wrestling magazines for me, but I loved reading the magazines more than watching wrestling on TV at times. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood occurred during my reading time. Since I thought I couldn’t live without my magazines, I came up with a decent little plan to raise the funds for their purchase. I’d take a fistful of dollars... blue ones, red ones, green ones (that was the old-school food stamps for you privileged jerks who never seen them)... and I’d go from one convenience store to the next and buy a pack of gum at each store. Back in those days, food stamps weren’t like credit cards. It was actual paper, like real money. They came in a book, like coupons. When I spent a dollar five and I handed the clerk two dollars in food stamps, I’d get ninety-
five cents change... in real money... cash! I’d hit a few of the stores and then, collecting my change from each stop, I’d have enough cash to buy a magazine in no time.
I used another little food stamp scam when I got into collecting baseball cards. Topps trading cards had a stick of gum inside the pack, so the trading cards were rung in as a food product. I could use food stamps to build my card collection. See? I could run for public office. I had figured out how
to misuse your tax dollars before I hit puberty.
Since there were several different wrestling magazines even back in the eighties, I had to prioritize my purchases in order of their importance. First and foremost, I could not survive without my monthly issue of Pro Wrestling
Illustrated. Like food suppresses a normal person’s hunger, PWI and its sister publications, along with a few B-grade rags that misspelled half the shit they
wrote, were essential to quench my hunger for wrestling knowledge. Had I read the Bible one minute for every hour I spent reading those magazines, I’d have been an apostle by age eleven.
From the day I was introduced to wrestling, I always pictured myself in the ring. I wouldn’t call it dreaming— I knew I would become a wrestler. There never was really any question in my mind I’d end up in the ring someday. It’s like many kids I have known whose dads were farmers. The kid never thought about going to college or joining the military after high school. Farming was his thing. He knew he’d help his dad on the farm until the kid gets married. Then he’d get a house of his own and farm his dad’s land until he has the money to buy some acreage of his own to farm. Though I didn’t have a father, wrestling was certainly my thing.
Growing up as trailer-trash, nothing was cooler than the thought of making a fortune doing something like wrestling. Had I been the offspring of a wealthy, happily-married couple, maybe I would never have been drawn to the sport. I believe the pattern of a person’s life is outlined by fate, with the person’s own decisions mapping out the details.