Marquez gazes around the gym's dressing room, surveying his peers. Young and Hall are packing up two boxes with the leftover memorabilia and posters they weren't able to sell. The 37-year-old grappler notes that his more muscular foe spent the past four years in the WWE. "I never had the privilege of working with a wrestler of his caliber," Marquez says. "It was a pleasure to be out there with him. Too bad this was one my worst matches ever."

Nearby, some of his former and current pupils in the dressing room commiserate over their performances. Among the horde are Brody and Saint, who is sporting a black ten-gallon cowboy hat. For the Coastal Championship Wrestling's event, the promoters asked him to play a cowboy gimmick, so for one night, he is Fat Bart. Saint says he has no problem changing characters for a promoter. Being flexible and reliable usually means more gigs, the juggernaut explains. "If I had said no, can you imagine how stupid that would have been?" Saint posits.

Brody and Saint reminisce about the time the Beast got a concussion during a battle royal in Tampa last year. "A veteran wrestler named Butch Long dropped me on my head really hard on top of a stop sign," Brody says in a gruff voice. "Then someone else — can't remember who — kicked me in the mouth, busting my lip open."

Wrestlers including Felipe Rodriguez, AKA Rufio Lionhawk, (center) get their game faces on before the Hardcore Holiday war.
Michael McElroy
Wrestlers including Felipe Rodriguez, AKA Rufio Lionhawk, (center) get their game faces on before the Hardcore Holiday war.
Pablo Marquez gets his head pressed against the ropes by Ricky Young.
Michael McElroy
Pablo Marquez gets his head pressed against the ropes by Ricky Young.

On the ride back to Miami, Saint recalls that Brody's memory was completely shot. "Every half-hour, I had to recap what had happened to him, because he could not remember shit," Saint says with a wide grin. "Beast was on autopilot."

The tag team is in high spirits. "You have to pay your dues to win recognition in this industry," Saint says. "And that is what Beast and I have done. Now it's our time to make the best of our situation."

A cool breeze whips through the parking lot of Hot Stuff Grille. A wrestling ring has been erected near the outdoor picnic tables of the restaurant's outdoor dining area. Brody, raging like a mad dog, squares off against Marquez, who entered the ring wearing a Mexican sombrero and poncho. Fewer than a dozen spectators, most of them relatives and friends, fill two rows of folding chairs to watch the free show Saint set up to help promote his new business venture.

To have his peers work for free to lend him a hand is a testament to the close-knit fraternity of South Florida's wrestling scene. "Pablo has been doing this for 20 years," Saint reasons. "He's been to Japan, bro. He doesn't need to be here helping me. That just shows you how much respect and fire he has for wrestling."

Brody and Marquez go at it for a good three minutes before the ref counts both of them out for fighting outside the ring. The draw lets Brody keep his junior heavyweight title. Later, Saint joins three other wrestlers in the main event, a four-on-four battle against a team that features Marquez pupil Rodriguez, AKA Rufio Lionhawk, decked out in his bird mask.

The contest was scripted perfectly, and Saint and Lionhawk are the only wrestlers left standing. For a while, it looks like the smaller grappler will pull off the upset. He tags Saint with several drop kicks but can't get the pin. Eventually, Saint gains the upper hand and defeats Rodriguez. At the end of the show, Saint and Brody reflect on their rising stock on the circuit. The larger of the tag team duo just shot a commercial for an energy drink called Dyna-PEP. He and Beast are close to signing a contract to wrestle overseas, Saint adds.

"We've learned we can't get complacent," Saint says. "It hurts to train hard. I get so winded because I am so big. But I want promoters and other wrestlers to look at me and say I am the best big man, bar none. This is why Beast and I are busting our asses."

Brody, after shoving his smelly armpit in the face of a reporter, concurs. "Right now," he says, "we have to go out and make a name for ourselves. We are not even thinking about the WWE. I don't believe we are close to reaching the level we need to be at."

The hairy one admits that people are always asking him if he has a backup plan if wrestling doesn't pan out. "They don't understand that, for me, wrestling is like that girl that comes and goes in your life," Brody says. "Wrestling has always been there and will always be there through family deaths, breakups, and other personal issues."

Brody starts to walk back to the small bus where the wrestlers are changing back into their normal clothes when a teenaged girl runs up to him. "Bad Beast!" she scolds him, pointing her finger at the Sasquatchian mauler. "Didn't your mom teach you manners?"

Brody drops his head and lunges at his female antagonist as if he were going to attack her. He screams: "GRAAAAAAAAH!"

The young lady eeks and scampers off. Brody smiles.

Joey Saint prepares to unleash the Portrait of American Horror.

If Brian "The Beast" Brody can't scare children, he is not doing his job right.

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