THE BALLAD OF SALARY MAN
- "The Happy Prole"
~PART ONE: THE BUSKER~ THE BUSKER, a face, is a struggling musician, bouncing from job to job. He hates work, the subject of most of his songs. Debt follows him wherever he goes. He dreams big and hopes to be a successful rock star, just like his childhood idols. Dressed in a dirty coat, comfy jeans, and wearing a long beard, he beats on his opponents with an acoustic guitar, and his atonal wailing brings them to their knees. His entrance music: “The Happy Prole”.
- "I Give Up"
THE BUSKER’s opponents are quick to point out that his music isn’t very appealing—he simply doesn’t have the talent. And besides: he’s kind of a leech on society. He mostly gets by in life by overstaying his welcome crashing on friends’ couches, copping free meals from fans. During one particularly humiliating match, his opponents pummel him while pointing out how futile his quest for fame are and how draining he is on his community.
- "All the Same"
It’s becoming difficult to tell whether THE BUSKER is now a face or a heel. He’s still playing music, but he’s trying to be more practical: he now funds his dream with a salary from an evil, exploitative CORPORATION. He maintains that he hasn’t sold out and is merely participating in the soul-sucking capitalist scheme he once railed against in his lyrics in order to become the self-sufficient anti-capital rock star he’s always dreamed of being. In fact, he’s pretty terrible at his job, and is in constant danger of getting fired. He says the job is only temporary, but audiences can tell he’s changing, unable to reconcile this double life. His walk-on music is now “All the Same”.
- "A Fable With No Moral"
THE BUSKER suffers another humiliating defeat—this time in a match with THE DEVIL, a new fan favorite heel. Despite working for the CORPORATION for so long, THE BUSKER is still deeply in debt, and his fans have turned on him. He has nothing. In a desperate attempt, he sells his soul to THE DEVIL in order to pay off his bills.
- "Two by Two"
The few allies THE BUSKER had left mourn his downfall.
- "R&B Transmogrification"
THE BUSKER appears in his first tag-team match, allied with THE DEVIL. His moves are desperate and frenzied. He’s still a pathetic fighter. Mid-match, THE DEVIL uses his supernatural powers to enhance THE BUSKER’s skills—as he fights, he dismisses his previous artistic, anti-capitalist dreams and goals. He’s turning his back on all of that. When THE DEVIL and THE BUSKER finally annihilate their opponents, THE BUSKER rips off his baggy jeans, his dirty coat and baseball cap, and tears off his shaggy beard. He’s clean shaven with an expensive haircut and is wearing a black suit and tie. Having completely sold his soul to THE DEVIL for power and money, he is now… SALARY MAN!
~PART TWO: SALARY MAN~ Thunderous boos fill the stadium whenever the opening notes of the dirge “Mammon” play. A tragic villain, SALARY MAN is unrecognizable from THE BUSKER. An emotionless, efficient, calculating, brutal fighter, SALARY MAN whacks his opponents with a briefcase. He exploits their financial weaknesses to bring them to their knees. He bills every wrestler he defeats, becoming more and more wealthy. Now power hungry, his new goal is to become rich beyond his wildest dreams. “Mammon” remains his entrance music for the rest of the season.
- "Only Success Can Fail Me Now"
- "Pay Me Now, Or Pay Me Later"
Most fans have forgotten that SALARY MAN was once THE BUSKER. The show doesn’t really reference this anymore. He’s firmly a heel with a popular, familiar schtick. Audiences love to hate him. His entrance music becomes “Pay Me Now, Or Pay Me Later” for several seasons.
He’s frequently paired with MR. ROMANCE, a positive sort-of cupid figure who gains strength from exploiting the things people love: their parents, their pets, art, food. MR. ROMANCE is a powerful fighter, dazing wrestlers into a joyful stupor, unaware that they’re being fooled into submission by his tactics. But the emotionless SALARY MAN loves nothing and finds no joy in life. He almost always defeats MR. ROMANCE.
- "The Golden Egg"
After a season of vicious wins, SALARY MAN finally wins the series title. Fake dollars fall down like confetti. “The Golden Egg” plays while SALARY MAN holds his belt. The stadium fills with boos. Other wrestlers walk through the ring, emptying their wallets, paying their long-standing debts to SALARY MAN. Ever the austere business man, he barely celebrates. He just stands motionless, holding his prize. He’s a monster fans can’t wait to see dethroned.
- "It's Hard to Turn Me On"
SALARY MAN and THE DEVIL, still frequently paired for tag matches, are the head honcho heels, and trade the title back and forth. Having become an older, distinguished wrestler, SALARY MAN has grown a neat beard. During one match, THE DEVIL and SALARY MAN are teamed against MR. ROMANCE. MR. ROMANCE has been losing matches left and right, and it’s embarrassing. Once a popular face, MR. ROMANCE is becoming a joke. They’re destroying him. It’s unfair.
BUT! Just as MR. ROMANCE is going down in his most humiliating defeat ever, he reminds SALARY MAN (and the audience) of his past as THE BUSKER. He used to love music more than anything. More than money. He used to hate the very CORPORATION he now ruthlessly runs. Some people in the audience are confused, but fans of the long-running show and of SALARY MAN’s tragic turn are excited to see this finally referenced after so many years.
AND THEN! SALARY MAN’s demeanor changes. “I have become The Man. I have trampled so many financially-vulnerable opponents. I’ve known more power than any other wrestler to enter this ring. But my life is hollow. I feel no joy. I miss the music. I miss my comfortable jeans.”
MR. ROMANCE produces an acoustic guitar. SALARY MAN takes it, and turns toward THE DEVIL, who is confused. SALARY MAN smiles, and screams in his atonal BUSKER wail: “IT’S TIME TO ROCK N ROLL!”
Together, MR. ROMANCE and SALARY MAN defeat THE DEVIL. What does this mean for the future??
- "Poverty Sucks"
~PART THREE: RETURN OF THE BUSKER~ In the next episode, SALARY MAN’s beard looks a little grungier. He reiterates his past to the audience, and tears away his suit to reveal dirty street clothes. He throws hundreds of fake dollars into the audience, donating all of his amassed wealth. He carries out the rest of his career on the show back as THE BUSKER, a lovable working class hero. His walk-on music: “Poverty Sucks”.
After many seasons, it’s rumored that THE BUSKER—a beloved face with many wins and losses—will finally retire. His character has outlasted THE DEVIL. His final match is a stunning defeat. In his final words, he reveals to the audience that his character has contracted a mysterious terminal illness (the dubious-sounding “Couchsorniosis”) borne from crashing on so many couches. He dies in the ring, his lifeless body ushered out by his mournful allies (MR. ROMANCE among them).
The show is canceled a few years later.
- "Rock & Roll Can Never Die"
Six years after its cancellation, the show is rebooted. Despite his character’s death, THE BUSKER occasionally makes a surprise cameo appearance.