There was no applause or cheering when the torture of Dick Hodges was finally ended. The three brutes did not solicit the crowd's approval or derision. They merely exited the ring and headed for the locker room, followed closely by the worthless referee and MC. Whatever arrangements had been made, whether monetary or simply mutual agreement, their goal had been achieved. Dick Hodges was no more. Professional wrestling as a legitimate, sporting contest was no more.
As the fans slowly filtered out of the arena, those close enough threw their paper cups and other trash at their former hero, who still laid motionless on his back in the center of the ring. The remnants of wrestling's past was now stripped, humiliated and defeated before them, but they seemed satisfied with this result. Wrestling had become a new and exciting entertainment for them. Now everyone knew the matches would be pre-scripted, while the drama would come from bold and exciting new ways to see men beaten senseless. The old guard, true wrestling fans were gone forever, to be replaced by a more youthful, thrill-seeking crowd who yearned for passion plays of violence and brutality - people who had tasted blood and savored it.
The owner received a phone call from the MC, filling him in on the events of the evening. Initially, he was angry about what had transpired in his absence, but soon got a second phone call that changed his mood. It was from the TV producer. They had been flooded with calls from people who wanted to know how the match had ended and soon all of Chicago, plus the other cities where the broadcast had been seen, were abuzz about the wrestling game. When the overnight ratings came in, the results were through the roof and so subsequently, a new formula was inserted for the TV broadcasts.
Each week a new group of patsies was sacrificed for slaughter in the ring. The bad guys were now good guys, inventing ever more innovative methods to beat down, humiliate and destroy their opponents week after week. It was as though the ancient gladiatorial games had been reborn, but now it was called wrestling. The arena was sold out every night weeks in advance and television stations all over the world clamored to pick up rights to the broadcasts. The owner became a very wealthy man.
The "Loser Leaves Town Challenge Match" was a watershed moment in the history of professional wrestling. Because of this match, many years later Steve Austin would be displayed in a staged crucifixion to promote a pay-per-view event. Because of this match, Val Venus would be attacked in the locker room by a gang of men, then suspended by the wrists, stripped naked and terrorized, as his penis (pixeled out, of course) was sliced off with a sword in another mock scene of absurd theater. Because of this match, Bret Hart would not only be taken away on a stretcher, but attacked again by the same man who had injured him in the first place - this time in the ambulance taking him to the hospital.
That night, nobody could have predicted how professional wrestling would evolve into what it is today - a scripted, lavishly produced entertainment of drama, sex and comedy, which can take place in the ring or any number of places outside the ring or even outside the building where the event is held - but Dick Hodges' last stand set the foundation for all of it. The crowd's reaction and subsequent enthusiasm told the promoters all they needed to know and a multi-million dollar industry was born.
When poor Jimmy was finally able to pull himself up to the ring floor what he saw was a pitiful sight. His idol's naked body was battered, bruised and bloodied. Somehow, Jimmy was mesmerized by this. The poor man had been ruthlessly beaten for over two hours, stripped of his clothing and dignity, forced to have orgasm against his will in front of hundreds of people. Dick Hodges had lost everything - the fans he thought adored him, the wrestlers he thought were his friends, even Jimmy, his devoted assistant, all had participated in the total destruction and humiliation of this magnificent man. Now, his broken carcass lay limp - a shell of what once was.
And yet, Jimmy saw beauty in this tragic scene. His hero had endured unspeakable torture and degradation, but had never given in. They had beaten and drained him until his strength was gone, but his defiance had remained. Even though he lay naked, broken and abandoned in the center of the empty arena, in Jimmy's eyes, Dick Hodges was still magnificent. To him, Dick Hodges was the ultimate example of the human male - a man of principles and integrity, he had sacrificed his glorious, powerfully masculine body to these principles. Now, stripped of everything, Jimmy was all he had left in the world.
The ringside assistant began to gather his hero's clothes and bundle them inside the robe. As Hodges slowly regained strength, Jimmy helped him stagger naked to the empty locker room, where he lovingly dressed the man in his street attire and then they left the arena for the last time. Jimmy drove his friend to the hospital and stayed at the fallen man's bedside for every hour of his recovery period. No visitors came.
Dick Hodges faded into history with the likes of Dale Lewis and Patrick O'Connor, true wrestlers who were no longer wanted. Occasionally, he would pick up odd jobs around the country by tutoring high school students who wanted to learn the scientific art of wrestling, but Hodges himself never entered the ring again. Jimmy was with him until the end. Dick Hodges would forever be his hero and Jimmy would always be his ringside assistant.