October, 1998, New York City, New York

18-year-old Tara Talmun was standing behind the curtain, anticipating her first upcoming match. It was almost time for her to go through the curtain, meet the crowd, and wrestle whoever her appointment was.

A younger girl came up to her. She was wearing a multi-coloured leotard and was barefoot like Tara. This was fifteen-year-old Sarah Sarfati, her friend. Tara had just finished a wrestling session with her. “Good luck.” Sarah said. Tara smiled and thanked her.

A man came up to them and told Tara that it was time for her match. Tara nodded. She turned and high-fived Sarah. Sarah quipped, “I am going to watch your match. You’re going to be cool.” Tara replied, “I know.” To get herself ready, she jumped up and down and sprinted through the curtain.

She sprinted down the aisle to the ring, feeling confident albeit a little nervous. However, she managed to hide her nervousness well. While she was sprinting, some of the fans were cheering for her. Not all of them were cheering, however. Some of them called her a loser and a scrub. Tara was slightly offended by those catcalls, but that did not stop her. She had a job to do. Once she got to the ring, she signaled to the crowd and stood with her back to the turnbuckle. The bell rang. In the ring were the ring announcer and the referee. The ring announcer began, “Ladies and Gentlemen. This match is scheduled for one fall with a twenty minute time limit. Introducing first, formerly of Jerusalem, Israel, now living in Brooklyn, New York. She is standing at 5 foot 3 at 100 pounds, TARA TALMUN!”

As her name was called, Tara raised her arm in the air with her pointer finger extended. She then brought it to her side again and removed her ring jacket. She was a wearing a purple long-sleeved leotard with a pink graphic design in the front. She was also barefoot. After she gave her jacket to the ring attendant, she went to the turnbuckle and climbed up onto the top rope.

After she got on the rope, she started to act like she was on a balance beam. She was very good at gymnastics. She did it for five years in Israel. She was master of the balance beam. She was going to impress the crowd with her balance beam act, but instead of a balance beam, she was using the ropes.

The ropes were a little rough for her bare feet, but she managed to ignore the roughness. She placed her right foot in front of her left foot and extended her arms to the side in a wing-like fashion. Looking down at the rope and focusing all her attention on it, she squeezed her muscles and did a front flip. The crowd was silent. She then did a backflip. After a few seconds pause, she jumped and did a 45 degree turn to her left-hand side, which was the inside of the ring.

Taking a deep breath, Tara did a front flip off the front rope and into the ring itself, landing on her feet, knees bent, and then standing up straight, with her arms in wing like fashion. She then smiled and posed with her arms still in the air.

The crowd cheered and clapped. “That ought to give them a good show”, Tara thought.

Then, a woman came out from behind the curtain. The woman was wearing a sweat shirt, sweat pants, and a mean look on her face. She ignored the crowd and walked to the ring. The ring announcer began, “And her opponent, coming down the aisle, hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana, she stands at 5 foot 7 and weighing at 132 pounds, here is… SHERRI MARTEL!!” The crowd cheered and booed. Sherri climbed into the ring and posed. Sherri snarled at the crowd, took one look at Tara, and scowled at her. Tara felt a little nervous, but still stayed in the ring.

The bell then rung. Both women looked at each other briefly and circled each other briefly. Both women got into a ready position, with their backs arched and knees bent slightly, leaning forward. Tara raised her hands to get into a grappling position. Suddenly, Sherri stood up straight and delivered a hard kick to Tara’s sternum.

Tara gave a loud cry of pain and surprise. She bent over and held her stomach. Sherri then gritted her teeth for a brief second and delivered a hard forearm across her back, driving Tara to her knees. Sherri grabbed the back of Tara’s neck and lifted her face up to make her eyes meet hers.

Sherri reeled back and bashed her own against Tara’s. The blow caused Tara’s head to feel heavy. She fell on one knee and held the side on her head, moaning. Sherri came up slowly behind her and looked at her back. Tara’s leotard covered her whole back. Nevertheless, Sherri placed the tip of her fingers on top of Tara’s shoulders and dragged them down the back of her leotard, ending at her spine. Tara gave a yelp of pain and reached behind her to feel her back.

Sherri looked around the crowd briefly, pointed to Tara, and screamed, “This is what happens to anyone who steps into the ring with me!” Sherri stalked up to Tara again, removed her hand from her back, put her fingernails on top of her shoulders, and dragged them down her back again, pressing harder to make up for the fact that the leotard offered some protection for her back.

Tara yelped in pain again, ran to the ropes, and knelt down, placing her head between the top and second rope. She draped her left arm across the second rope and rubbed her back with right hand. The fingernails stung her back. Tara was now having a sore back. Sherri then delivered two stomps to Tara’s upper back, causing her to give out two weak grunts. Sherri then called for a camera. Sherri approached the camera and told him to come to where Tara was. The cameraman quickly walked over to where Sherri indicated. Sherri ordered the cameraman to focus the camera on Tara’s face. Once the camera was in position, Sherri removed Tara’s arm from her back, draped it across the second rope, (both arms were now draped across the second rope), and delivered another stomp to her back.

Tara was too worn out to move her arms at this point. Sherri grabbed Tara’s ponytail and yanked her head up, making sure that her eyes meet the camera. Sherri put her fingers in either side of Tara’s mouth and screamed, “Now, let’s see this little wimp smile!!!” Sherri wrenched back and stretched Tara’s lips, causing her to “smile.” Her teeth were exposed and Tara was now in agony, screaming and screaming while looking helplessly into the camera.

While still stretching Tara’s lips, Sherri hissed, “So, your young friend Sarah is watching this match, huh?” Tara was still screaming, albeit a little less loudly, that she was not sure if she can answer. Sherri gave a jerk to her mouth and yelled, “IS SHE??” Tara gave another scream and said yes, but with pain in her voice. Sherri lightened the pull slightly, but only slightly. Tara was not sure if she could still endure the pain

Sherri narrowed her eyes and yelled, “Okay. Tell your friend to think twice about stepping into the ring with me! Tell her this is what will happen to her if she does!” Tara was feeling weak from the pain. Sherri screamed and pulled at her lips and made a slight jerk. “”TELL HER!”

Tara, still feeling the pain and unable to look away from the camera, said into the camera, “Sarah! Please! Don’t go into the ring with Sherry.” After she said that, Tara thrashed her body, trying to get Sherri to stop stretching her lips. “Sherry! Please! I told her! Stop! It hurts!”

Sherry took her fingers out of Tara’s mouth. Tara’s mouth was now very sore. She did not have time to absorb the pain as Sherri gave her a hard kick to her ribs, causing her to turn with her back to the ropes and to have some sore ribs. Sherry grabbed Tara’s hair and pulled her to her feet.

Sherry gave two hard punches to Tara’s stomach. Tara was on the verge of fainting, but she managed to keep awake. She was, after all, supposed to be a tough girl. Sherri took Tara’s arm and threw her across the ring to the ropes on the other side. Tara bounced off the ropes while Sherry extended her right arm. Tara ducked and bounced off the ropes again. After that, just as she approached Sherry, she jumped, positioned her body horizontally, and landed across Sherry, knocking her down.

Tara stayed on top of Sherri while the referee got into position to count. Tara was almost worn-out but happy to see that she got some offence in this match. The referee counted by slapping the mat. 1…. 2…. Just as the referee got to three, Sherri lifted her legs into the air, and threw them down into the mat, which caused her shoulders to briefly rise from the mat. The referee yelled, “TWO!”

Tara was surprised that the match did not end. She was too worn-out by the pain to get up, so she had to recover. She crawled off Sherri and just lay on the mat. The referee got up and looked over the two women. Sherri got up slowly and went over to Tara. She slowly tried to pull Tara to her feet.

As Tara got on one knee, she drove an elbow to Sherri’s mid-section, causing her to grunt. One second later, Tara drove another elbow to Sherri’s mid-section, driving her back. Tara was starting to rise to her feet as Sherri suddenly drove one of her to the side of Tara’s head, causing her to fall on both her knees.

Sherri grabbed the back of her neck and placed one of her arms between her legs and reached around her back with her other arm. She lifted Tara up and held her upside down, still cradling her back. After a few minutes, she slammed Tara back-first into the mat.

Sherri paused to admire her work so far. Sherri then ran across the ring, bounced off the ropes, and just as she approached Tara’s body, jumped up into the air and extended her legs. Her right leg landed right across Tara’s throat, causing her to choke slightly. Tara was now struggling for breath.

Sherri got up and rolled Tara onto her front. Sherri then stood over Tara and jumped down into a sitting position on her back. She then draped Tara’s arms over her legs, cupped her hands over her chin, and leaned back while pulling on her chin.

The referee went over to Tara and asked if she wanted to submit. Tara was screaming in pain. “I submit! I submit! Let me go! Please!” Tara screamed in desperation. The referee stood up and called for the bell to be rung. As soon as the bell had rung, the ring announcer said, “And here is your winner….. SHERRI MARTEL!”

As soon as Sherri heard her name, she screamed and pulled even more, causing Tara to scream even more. Tara was surprised as she thought she was going to be released and finally be allowed to recover from all the pain she had endured so far, but Sherri was refusing to release the hold. The bell had rung again, signalling that the match was already over. The referee yelled at Sherri to let Tara go, but she ignored him. The referee now tried to pull Sherri off her, but she pulled one of her hands away from Tara’s chin and merely shoved him aside. She put her hand back under her chin and continued to pull. Tara was at this point starting to feel faint.

Just then, the crowd made some noise and looked toward the curtain. Sarah was running toward the ring, determined to help her friend. She was still in her multi-coloured leotard and barefoot. As soon as she got into the ring, she released Tara from the hold, and with lightning speed, started beating on Sarah, kicking and punching her.

Sherri beat Sarah to the point that she was lying face down on the ring mat, right across from Tara, who was barely conscious. Sherri then stood over Sarah, jumped down on her lower back, placed her hands under chin, and leaned back while pulling on her chin. Sarah was now enduring the same pain Tara was enduring earlier.

Sarah was screaming in pain and pleading for Sherri to let her go. Tara was now too weary to even lift up her head, but she could hear her friend screaming. After a few minutes, Sherri let Sarah go and gave a hard stomp to the back of her head. “Stupid scrubs”, she muttered. Sherri made a pose, pointed both thumbs at herself to indicate that she was the greatest, and left the ring.

The referee tried to revive both of them. Sarah was still conscious but had a sore back. Tara was barely conscious and was too sore to move. The referee called for two stretchers. Some medics came down and rolled both girls onto them. They rolled them into the dressing room area and into the infirmary.

Tara thought about the match. She was mostly being beaten up, but she did get some offence. “Maybe next time, it will get better.” She thought. “But for now, I am just a jobber girl.”