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Thread: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    -2018.

    The office was built with fresh air and health as a priority. As such, air from the outside arrived in floor vents and left through the ceiling directly above. It lowered the dose of any viruses present; as such, it was a different kind of medical supplement to compliment other forms of healthcare. Lizzie sits in the office of the head of Black Widow Wrestling as he is in casual street attire. She sits in front of her desk nervously, tapping her foot clad in Chuck Taylor against the floor, shuffling back and forward. Enter; Black Widow, the head of Black Widow wrestling (No shit-). She is all smiles as she enters in and takes a seat at her desk, but Lizzie doesn't return it; she seemed distracted…



    Black Widow: Man, Liz. That preshow went great! I had to admit; I had my doubts about taking you on as our social media guru because...Well...to be honest, we don't typically hire people based on internet cred...but, twitter. Reddit. Youtube...Our online community love you-! Congrats Lizzie!


    Lizzie Rose: "Yeah, that's cool., People liking me is kinda the point, right? So that's….nice."


    Despite her words, she doesn't seem that happy; she just looks to the ground conflicted, looking troubled.


    Black Widow: "Something up?"


    Lizzie Rose: ….I mean, no? I should be happy, right? Like this time last month, I was in a dead-end job, and now I have a spot in the business; this is THE dream, right? Like the actual dream. Like there's the dream...and there's THE dream...right?


    Black Widow: "...Are you asking me, or are you telling me?"


    Lizzie Rose: I wanna wrestle! Now I know what you're going to say; I get it. I hear you. I read you, but hear me out, ok? Let me finish. I got a trainer, down in New York, a local guy, Super Mario Ganzo, you know that guy? He trained Roberto Superstar? The first-ever CWA World Champion! I've just started, but I think I got a pretty good wrist lock going...I mean...I think I kinda threw a thumbs up to Mr Ganzo, and he just kind of nodded and went back to his phone, but I think that means "Good job-Lizzie" because if he had any notes, he'd tell me, so I'm PRETTY sure I'm a natural. The best feedback is no feedback, right?


    Black Window doesn't react, the smile on her face is all but gone, and she just sits there, blinking down at the redhead.


    Lizzie Rose: "I'm not saying, you instantly put me in the main event but, you know maybe we can start small and see what happens-"


    Black Widow: "You know I like you, right, Lizzie?


    Lizzie Rose: Um, sure?


    Black Widow: "In fact, Most people like you, and the thing is, I have no idea why. You're not particularly charming or charismatic like if you ran for president, it would probably be a disaster.


    Lizzie Rose: "I tried to run for class president once; I got a nose bleed and fainted on the stage…


    Black Widow: "See, right there; If anyone else said that, that would end the conversation right there. If anyone else said that would be awkward and weird, and I would try to walk away fast, but you have like a magical ability to make that sound endearing, and the crazy thing is, you're not even aware you're doing it."


    Lizzie Rose: "I don't, I swear! If you want me to stop, I will!"


    Black Widow: No, I don't want to Look; the point is. You have to understand that in this business, you're a freak of nature, Lizzie. You've no charisma whatsoever, or ic skills..you just...have...I don't even know what to call it; A weird likeability to you, that draws people in like a magnet. You don't know how lucky that makes you. People in this industry spend years trying to connect with people; and it just comes natural to you, like an accident.


    Lizzie Rose: "So is that a yes?


    Black Widow: "What? Oh God no, No. Never you'd get killed. Out there. You're not a fighter; Liz. You're five foot nothing. You weigh like 30 pounds soaking wet…..And the idea of you in the ring with trained fighters….. You'll be killed.


    Lizzie Rose: "You think I can't do it


    Black Widow: "I know you can't do it…"


    Lizzie Rose: "Well I know I can"
    ----



    Click-! The scene opens up in the unusual location of a small hotel room in the middle of Paris France, the home of Back In Business; we can clearly see out of the window the inky black sky that suggested that these events are taking place in the dead of night…the time of night where only the insomniacs and the troubled are awake, and right on cue; There sitting bolt in the bed was Lizzie Rose, it was quite evident by the look on her face that the very last the challenges mind was sleep. She appeared fully alert and awake. One would imagine with the most important match of her life, mere hours away, Lizzie found sleep almost impossible to come by; the scene abruptly cuts to the balcony of the same hotel room as before, where we see Lizzie Rose sitting watching the sunrise over the large cityscape. Lizzie looks over this scene with not even a smile emerged upon his face. Nothing but an expression that appeared blanker than stone. Nothing. She took a moment to stare into the distance, facing the camera but appearing to take little notice of it. Her eyes would soon dart around the balcony, slowly, before facing the camera to speak…although his expression at this time; refused to change.

    Lizzie Rose: "So, it is-


    Lizzie paused long enough to look at her bedside clock


    Lizzie Rose
    : "Three am that gives me; about six hours to sleep...an hour for breakfast….and then it's to the area; and yeah….Back In Business...THE SHOW And it's still kinda surreal that I'm here. Last year, I was working at a pizza place, a clubber from the heights in New York, watching the show...and now...here I am…...and I know, I should be sleeping, I know I should be thinking of anything, I shouldn't be thinking of home or Kleio ..or anything that might happen tomorrow, but every time I do. Every time I try., one thought keeps rattling around my head over and over again, like a broken record.... I'm really kind of screwed, aren't I?"


    An awkward little laugh escapes Lizzie's mouth as she rubs her bloodshot eyes, clearly nervous


    Lizzie Rose: "...So yeah, um, I got a match... it's against Kleio De Santos... it's at Back and Business...and yeah, that's all I got


    She shrugged her shoulders with an overdramatic apologetic look on her face.


    Lizzie Rose: I'm not off to a good start, I know. At this point in Kleio's promo she's probably already described in vivid detail how she's going to break me in half and drink my spinal fluid like a fine wine and-


    Pause.



    Lizzie Rose: Woah... that's not healthy, that's that where my mind instantly jumps to. Gonna have to talk to someone about that, but is violent tendencies as a pro wrestler natural?


    She takes a moment to consider the question before getting back on point.


    Lizzie Rose; But yeah, that's kinda his thing, you know? Because that's kind of her thing, right? She's a wrecking machine. She's been trained to kill. In that ring, she's all business. She ran into the ring and hit me with a chair, just to send a message...she broke a man's arm in about two minutes...Just to send me a message. That she's tougher than me. She's better than me….and I mean...if that's not really clear to EVERYONE watching this, you haven't been paying attention and honestly? I don't think I got much against that; I'll just be here like; Ramble, Ramble Ramble. I don't know if you noticed or not but I have a lot of problems with…..focus….I mean, I try, I really do, but I'm not really a talker, it feels a lot like lying... y'know? I really don't like to lie. Like I could sit here and be like, "I'm Lizzie Rose, and I'm tougher and better than KDS" because I'm not... I'm just Lizzie Rose, and I know how these things are meant to go; I meant to big myself up and tell you I'm not afraid.


    She stops for a moment, maybe biting her tongue, unsure if she should continue that thought no doubt she has been told that what she was considering saying was a no go area and should never ever be said, yet after a few seconds, she manages to choke the confession out


    Lizzie Rose: "But I am. I'm afraid of blowing this golden shot; I'm afraid of proving everyone who doubted me right, I'm worried everyone on my block will see me crushed on that stage. And I'm worried that my grandmama is gonna watch me, get my arm ripped out of my socket...


    She stops, her voice trembling, all of her traditional nerves and anxiety bubbling up to the surface, her face slowly growing red, but she takes a few seconds of deep breathing to keep calm.


    Lizzie Rose: Because tonight feels like one of those nights.. Like I'm standing at a crossroads again. I can either go one path or the next, and depending on what path I go down, the butterfly effect will kick in, and the ripples will be felt for the rest of my life. On the one hand...I beat KDS. The biggest upset in Back In Business history, and I prove I belong here, that I'm capable of more than anyone ever thought I was… or KDS breaks my arm, and I'm kinda screwed. No, really I am, and I don't really think anyone realizes that….After Ground Zero, it wasn't just the winner that got a contract; so did KDS. So did Chris Peacock, but you know who didn't? Me. The FWA office told me I was too soft to do this...and that was it; I was going to go home to Brooklyn and start from scratch; Until Gabby signed me up for a personal service contract….and that meant the world to me. You have no idea. To have someone like that give me the seal of approval. That meant more to me than I can ever put into words, and I felt safe because I knew FWA didn't want me, but Gabby did and as long as I was with her, as long as my contract was with her...I was going to be ok...


    She medicates on this with a slight smile as if the thought of having one of the greatest wrestlers to ever live as a personal safety net..but that smile leaves quickly.


    Lizzie Rose: and….then I got drafted AWAY from Gabby, and that was….GREAT. I loved that. No, really, whoever decided to take me away from the whole reason and purpose why I'm here.


    Her sarcasm is palpable, clearly uncharacteristically upset and enraged by recent events and not liking the fact that she's been held apart from Gabby.


    Lizzie Rose: "I really appreciate that. That was super helpful!! you've killed the ONE positive relationship I had going on. Thank you so much for taking away a depressed woman's few pillars of support. And thank you for SO SO SO much for getting rid of my job security. Does Gabby still control my contract? Does it go to FWA? You know the guys that didn't want me in the first place? That's who gets my contract. Lizzie Rose: "So, that's what I'm staring at; That's the fight. For Kelo De Santos, it's a chance to prove once and for all that she's better than me...for me? It's all or nothing for me; I have to fight like I need to prove that I CAN...because I do...I have to wrestle like there's no tomorrow...because for all I know...There isn't"


    With his final words having now been spoken, Lizzie rises up and out of her previously seated position, clearly still emotional and hurting, and, for lack of a better word, She stands up and walks past the camera, presumably to the other side. We can hear the noises of someone fiddling behind the camera's view, and we can only assume its Lizzie ending the video feed as the scene itself suddenly turns to static, as the sound of near-silence is now instantly replaced with the annoying screeching of white noise. From here, the video plays for a further three seconds... before completely cutting out and now coming to a close
    -
    -

    -
    -

    Click-!


    Lizzie Rose: Ok-! Ok! I think I figured something out...like something actually helpful;


    OR maybe not! It's the exact same setting as before; as the camera clicks back on, we can only assume it's a little later in the night, there's Liz in the same clothes as before, but she looks way more lively than what we saw from her before.


    Lizzie Rose: "Ok, so a little earlier, let's be honest; not the most convincing promo you'll ever hear, my nerves
    were getting to me. I was afraid, I was nervous, and I was vulnerable...and now?:.. I'm still nervous and scared..BUT-I know how that sounds but hear me out... That's not a weakness; that's what's going to help me beat KDS. I'm not perfect... and I'm definitely not arrogant enough to think I ever will be. I'm not as cold and calculating as KDS. I'm not as strong, and yeah, I'm not as good at wrestling as her, but that's what drives me on, to be better, I'm gonna keep improving, keep getting better, KDS? You gotta understand, wrestling is EVERYTHING to her; it is her passion; it is her life. And she has been taught at the right hand of Saint Sulley, who believes in one thing above all else. That you NEED to be perfect. You need to WIN at all cost. She doesn't doubt herself, and THAT'S how I win. She thinks she's the finished product, but I forced myself to improve. I forced myself to push through all that doubt and discouragement that she ignores and just get back up and there are so many people in this company who want to punch the cracks and break me completely, but when KDS steps into the ring with me and when she starts pushing against my cracks., I'm going to push right back!


    Lizzie claps her hand together, no trace of a smile on her face now, and certainly not the normal, peppy tone of her voice that we're so used to hearing. Her tone now low and intense, and her expression is one that looks like it was carved out of stone.


    Lizzie Rose:...and you know what else I got, I got-


    Lizzie digs in her pocket before pulling something out; what she holds in her hand is a sticker; specifically, it's a sticker of the Pokémon mascot, Pikachu, still stuck to the paper and unpeeled. For a second, Lizzie's gaze lingers on it before she shows it off to the camera in front of her


    Lizzie Rose: Do you know what this is? Yes, it's a Pikachu sticker, but more than that, do you know why I have it with me? The reason why is because when I first got here, I was just ecstatic. I wanted to celebrate in my own special way. I did that by putting a lot of stickers on my gear. Some people throw huge, massive parties inside the ring. Some people go home and get drunk with their friends or whatever, but for me? I did it with stickers. I thought it was the perfect expression. It was something so unexpected and silly, and it was something I really wanted to do. The thing is, when I did it, I had to do it on the underside of my gear before I went to the ring. Because I knew I would get chewed out by almost everyone. Attacked by other wrestlers, attacked by media outlets because it just seemed so stupid and immature. People would criticize me for not taking the golden chance I have seriously. While you could act like that doesn't have any impact on people, it actually does. See, the stickers aren't t just for show, but each one is meaningful for me. Each one reminded me of a different aspect of my career, and ironically, the Pikachu sticker symbolized how I started. Just like how Pikachu is the face of the Pokémon franchise, I want to become the face of the women's division. I want to be the example of female wrestling that FWA has to show other people...I think people look at me the same way that Pokémon fans look at Pikachu. Cute, unassuming, harmless….maybe that's how I view myself


    She pauses for a second, trying to formulate a new approach to articulate herself.


    Lizzie Rose: Here, hopefully, you'll understand it if I describe it like this…Imagine that FWA.. is a PC in a Pokémon game. The one running FWA, he'll be the Pokémon trainer, and all of us who work for him are his Pokémon. Now, as a Pokémon trainer, you'll have a lot of Pokémon to call upon, and a lot of them will have very different talents and abilities. Some can swim, some can fly, some can break rocks and push boulders, and that's all well and good, but when you bring your Pokémon out into the world for all to see, you can only carry six with you. Out of every single Pokémon you might have in your possession, you have to bring the six that you believe are your absolute best. You're going to be facing other trainers, gym leaders, even the Elite Four with these Pokémon, so they HAVE to be your best. Now, if the boss is a Pokémon trainer and we're all his Pokémon, who will he choose? Which of us does he choose to carry the banner of FWA? Think about this. There are six slots to a Pokémon team. The trainer doesn't have to pick and choose who is the best out of everyone on his roster. He lets them compete against each other and decide who's the best themselves. He then looks at the roster, sees who has the belts, and uses us to show the caliber of skill FWA has, not just to ourselves, but to the world. What people tend to forget is that while we're directly competing against each other here in FWA, we're also indirectly competing against every other wrestler out there in the world today. We're fighting amongst ourselves individually to be the best, but we're also fighting collectively as a whole to be better than every other company in the world. We can't honestly call ourselves the best if we can't match up to other companies. One of us may be the best in FWA, but if the best in FWA can't match the average wrestler somewhere else, can they still call themselves the best? It's like, one Pokémon can be the best out of a trainer's team, but if it can't match up to another trainer's team, it's not that good, is it? So surely, you know what you're looking for in a good Pokémon, right? You want one with good stats, a strong novelist, and an optimal nature. It isn't any different from what the boss wants to see in his wrestlers. He wants people with athletic prowess, a good arsenal of moves, and a charismatic personality. But more than anything else, what you would want out of a potential Pokémon, just like what they want out of a potential champion, is someone who can deliver. You have to be able to go out there and do the job that he wants you to do, time and time again, and you have to be able to do it reliably and consistently. If a Pokémon keeps losing battles, you're not going to keep it with you. Same thing here. If you keep losing matches, you're not going to make it very far. If you're going to be one of the chosen six, you have to be able to win when it matters. If you're a Pokémon, a surefire way of securing your spot on a trainer's team is by at least putting up a good showing against a high-profile battle like a gym leader battle or an Elite Four battle. If you're a wrestler, the way you get noticed is by showing that you have what it takes to hang with the champions, usually by becoming one yourself. Can you do that, KDS? Can you start at the bottom of Bill's PC and level up? Because I know you want to, Every since Ground zero, you've had a chip on your shoulders with me. How I got to the final, and you didn't. How I pinned you in our collective debuts. So, I want you to come at me with everything that you have, KDS I want you to try and give me EVERYTHING that you've got...and then I want to see that look on your face when I get back up...and you realize that no matter what you throw at me, it just won't be enough to put me away! This is Back In Business ... I'm not staying down for that! I'm not letting you BREAK ME over that! I have fought tooth and god damn nail FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE..and I have made sure the last thing that happens is that I let somebody get the better of me; the last thing I let happen is that I let somebody finally break my spirit!


    Lizzie hit her hands together as she studies the sticker. The funny minor cartoon characters in her hands, she held them to the camera with pride, this was who she was, this was who she will ALWAYS be and if you didn't like it? Then learn to love it...because this girl isn't going anywhere!


    Lizzie Rose: I just hope you're ready, KSD...because come hell or high water, this company will change tonight...and I see it changing for the better. I don't think FWA realizes it yet..l I don't even think we realize it yet, but I think you and I will be doing this...for a long time to come! Now whether that is actually the case or not is yet to be seen, but the one promise I can make to you tonight...the one thing I can guarantee to you, to FWA, we'll steal the show...and I WIN, I'll win because I got the key, I got the secret, and because..I know I can-!
    Last edited by An Original Name; 06-12-2021 at 08:01 PM.
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  2. #22
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    From Underdog to God


    Part 1: Fallout


    "Wow...you know, just when I think you couldn't do anything else to disappoint me, you somehow manage to do just that."


    That statement seems to echo in the room as if it was shouted at the top of a mountain. There Eli sits, legs crossed, hands behind his head on a couch inside his locker room. Surrounding the arteest is pieces of his latest works ranging from hand-drawn to painted. Eli sits on the sofa, replaying the moment he went out there and challenged Cyrus Truth. Those words standing out to him way more than anything else said out there. He was mulling over his response. He sounded star-struck. The man that always has a thousand things to say could barely mutter a sentence. He felt like he reverted to almost a year when Cyrus first took him under his wing. Lost, optimistic, but lacking confidence. The face of the Nine thought he had grown past that, but maybe some of that old Eli he despises is still in him. He begins to rewind it once again. His father bursts into the room as if someone was chasing him. Eli attempts to see if anything is wrong but is met with a slap to the head.


    "What the hell, dad? Why did you do that?"


    Eli stares at his father with a clenched fist. He wants to knock him out, but he sees the disappointment in his father's eyes, and his fist loosens. Finally, he sits back down and pauses the playback of curtain call so he can listen to his father's words.


    "Boy, who the hell told you to go out there and do that? Why would you haphazardly offer up your place in the nine to face Cyrus again? With so many other routes you could have taken! You are putting all the work we have done over the past year at risk for the North American title....."


    At this point, Frederick is pacing back and forth, going through all the scenarios that the Church of 9 could have assisted in getting Eli a title shot now that they have a relationship with FWA management. Finally, Eli gets up and grabs the father by the shoulders, and looks him square in the eyes.


    "No"


    Frederick looks around as if the no wasn't directed at him. He takes a step back and looks Eli up and down.


    "Boy, whatya mean no?"


    "Listen, dad, taking over the nine or getting revenge for Osiris has always been your dream. Unfortunately, your goal to revenge a family member I've never met has consumed you in an unhealthy way. I have let it consume me as well in search of a relationship with you."


    Frederick's demeanor softens as Eli spills his heart out to him. Then, he grabs him by the shoulder, which stops Eli's words in its tracks.


    "Son, don't think that I didn't do all this to have a relationship with you as well. I thought if we had a common goal, it would help us put the past behind and look towards the future, but if being in the nine is not what you want, we can qui..."


    Eli puts his hand up, signaling his dad to stop the thought he is having.


    "That's not what I am saying, pop. I know that it seems irrational to put my spot in the nine up for a shot at Cyrus, but I have no intention of losing. That hasn't even crossed my mind. Replaying the conversation in the ring over and over to see if I am the same little boy who was just happy to be tagging with a legend."


    Frederick laughs and starts holding his stomach, which does not amuse Eli one bit.


    "Boy, you sure seem like you were stumbling and bumbling over your words when he said he was disappointed in you. Do you still see Cyrus as your superior?"


    "No, but because I have seen what it takes to beat him, but there will always be a caveat to that victory since I didn't do it on my own. So, dad, I want you and Laurie to accompany me to the ring at Back in Business. It's the biggest show of the year. You guys should be able to experience that front and center. However, once that bell rings, I need you guys to head to the back. I have to prove to the doubters and, more importantly, myself that I can defeat Cyrus and that I can win a championship on my own."


    Eli expects Frederick to retort with negative feedback, but Frederick sits down and pats the seat. Eli catches the signal and sits down.


    "I'm so proud of the man you are becoming, and despite the feeling in my gut that I have, I will respect your wishes and leave you to overcome Cyrus on your own. I will leave you with this. The world isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place, and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it isn't how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's the difference between a winner and a loser. A winner knows what they're worth; I see that you do, so go out and show what you're worth. But you have to be willing to take the hit and not pointing fingers saying you aren't where you are because of him, me or Laurie, or anybody. Cowards do that, and that ain't you. You're better than that!"


    The two sit in silence for a few seconds. Eli tries to process the fact that his father gave him a motivational speech, and Frederick is hoping Eli doesn't realize that he stole most of that from one of the Rocky movies. The two embrace in a rare moment. Eli is trying to cherish this moment because it's something he has wanted from his father for years. Acknowledgment. Laurie walks in, and the two separate as if they're too macho for a hug. She laughs as Fredrick looks away, and Eli stands up to hug her.



    "Hey, Lo wassup?"

    Eli attempts to adjust himself to get his composure after an emotional moment. Laurie gives him a look to let him know it's okay.

    "Just came to check in on you and wanted to see if I could talk to you about something real quick in private"


    Eli looks back at his dad, and Frederick takes note. He begins to grab their suitcases and walk toward the door before looking back.


    "I'll load up the car with the bags. That should give you guys enough time to talk about whatever top-secret thing Laurie has to say."


    Laurie rolls her eyes, and Eli sighs. They wave goodbye to Fredrick. Eli is sitting with the chair backward with his arms resting. Laurie sits at the edge of the table and pulls a letter out of her pocket. She hands it to Eli to check out. It's a letter that reads out, "you will pay for your sins in Paris."


    Eli stands up so fast his he gets a little dizzy. Laurie tries to make sure he is okay, but Eli pulls away.


    "What the hell is this?"


    "I'm not sure. This letter is not the first one sent for you to an arena or a hotel. I have been intercepting them because I figured they were just from some troll, but they have been getting more detailed."


    "Why didn't you tell me about this before?"


    "Well, I didn't want it to distract you...."


    "Well, I'm surely distracted now, aren't I? What else have these letters said?"


    "Most of them say how your phony and a liar. Which is whatever you know? Then I got one that started detailing things about me, Frederick, and Ms. Black."


    "My mom? Laurie, come on. You should have told me about this as soon as her name was brought up. This person could be a troll, but it could be someone who hates the Church of 9 or someone from the Observers looking for revenge for me exposing them."


    Eli, at this point, is fuming. He gets out of the chair and stomps around in anger which startles Laurie.


    "Yeah, I get it. I am super duper sorry I didn't tell you sooner. A lot has been going. Between managing all your appearances, holding off the nine, and whatever else you had me doing, I got a little overwhelmed."


    Eli sees how dejected Laurie she is. He takes a good look at her and catches her tired eyes, which makes him calms down and sit next to her, puts his arm around her trying to make her feel safer.


    "I get it. You juggle a lot for me but always prioritize our safety, even if it's something small as a troll. I cant head straight to Paris now. I have to go see my mom right away."

    Laurie jumps out of her seat, excited as if she beat Eli in a board game for the first time. Which she hasn't as of yet in the many pit stops from city to city.


    "Way ahead of you; I've already got a new flight to New York and then one for both you and your mom to Paris. So I figured you wan to keep her close. Only one snag in that. Cyan, Kerry, and Barry want to talk to you directly."


    Eli drops his head as he is overwhelmed with all this news. All he wants to do is focus on winning his match at BIB, but everyone and their mother wants to distract him. He sits there and contemplate a little bit but only see one solution,
    "Tell them to meet me at my mom's house."


    Part 2: Fight Night


    Eli is in a cab heading from JFK to his mother's house. He has his head out the car window like a dog enjoying the wind. He is excited to be back in his hometown. He asks the driver to make a quick stop to grab a slice of pizza and an Arizona. He hops back in the car with half the pizza in his mouth and trying to twist the Arizona cap off. Eli is in his most comfortable space. He has Brooklyn food, seeing his old stomping ground. At every stop at a light, people he use to hang out with coming up to the cab to chat until the light turns green. Finally, they pull up to his mother's house, and before getting out, Eli pokes his head out the window like Will Smith in the intro of Fresh Prince. Eli tips the driver and struts up the stairs. The proudest moment of Eli's career is when he was able to buy his mom this house. He remembers all the small apartments they lived in with so many other family members. So to get her a three-story home for her to enjoy after retirement has been amazing. He rings the doorbell and is greeted with the biggest smile from his mom. She welcomes him in and sets him down in the living room. Eli looks around at the mix of old and new furniture. With old and new pictures all over the wall. His gaze stops when he sees a picture of him and Cyrus sitting on the same couch his but is on. He remembers that night. Cyrus was at a low, and Eli wanted to shower him with the same family love that's always drawn him out of the darkness. Funny how fast things change in a year.


    "Hey ma, why do you still have that picture up?"


    His mom comes from the kitchen with a spatula in hand and a dirty apron. She looks up at the picture Eli is pointing at and sighs. She takes the apron off and throws it over a kitchen chair. She sits next to Eli and taps his head with the spatula. Eli shifts to the side in his seat. He looks at his mom like she's crazy.


    "What was that for?"


    "Because I want to knock some sense into you sometimes, but then I remember you have a thick head like your daddy. All these pictures are memories I cherish. Even some have bad memories attached to them, but I still cherish them the same. Even though Cyrus ended up being a conniving bastard, he ended up being one of the only friends you ever brought over here."


    "Friend? He sure has been showing it funnily."


    "Baby boy, if he didn't care about you, he wouldn't have accepted you're challenge for that title."


    "I require elaboration."


    "I think you're going to be the greatest when all things are said and done, baby, but as of right now, you're still getting your footing in this wrestling, which is understandable. Some of these guys you are facing have been doing this for five, ten, fifteen years? A year in, you have given them a run for their money. I watch you week in and week out improve and send them a message you're coming. Cyrus has been that guy for so long. A lot longer than most, and I don't think you earned that title shot."


    "Well damn, mom, thanks for the vote of confidence."


    Rosaline starts to laugh, which irritates Eli beyond measure, but it's hard for him to get mad at his mom, unlike how he is with his dad. Finally, she gets up and signals for him to follow him.


    "It wasn't meant to be an insult, love. I watch Fight Night all the time for you. There a ton of talented folk on that show, but you were the one who drew the attention of Cyrus. He watched your matches; he entertained your challenge and ultimately accepted because you have the most to offer."


    Rosaline and Eli walk into a big storage closet with tons of boxes, Rosaline is looking around as if she knew where she placed what she is looking for, but now it's suddenly missing. Eli leans on the doorway, arms folded.


    "Closure. Cyrus wants closure. His goal was to convince me that joining the 9 was a bad idea and pull me out. In the process, he wanted to expose them and get them to reduce to nothing. All he managed to do is win the North American title, and he has been empty since. Spending all that time with him showed me that, unlike most, Cyrus doesn't do this for titles or fame or glory. He does it to connect with people because of being an Exile. After being with the Observers, he didn't want the same fate for me. They made him a great warrior, but he has been emotionally stunted until..."


    "Until he met you."


    Rosaline rises with a box that she almost drops. Eli rushes over and grabs it. He takes with him to the dining room. His mom tends to the stove while she starts unpacking the box, which is full of letters. Eli starts reading through some.

    Dear Eli Black,


    I have been a fan of yours for years and have enjoyed your many pieces, songs, and your matches. However, my favorite is the first match against Gerald Grayson.
    I was wondering if you would mind sending me your autograph. I have enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for your convenience.
    I hope to hear from you soon and deeply appreciate your generosity in fulfilling this request.


    Thank you.



    Eli reads through about two dozen letters like these until he reaches one that startles him.


    "Mom, have you read any of these?"


    "Just some. I wanted to read most of the letters with you whenever you visited next. So I figured we could look over them on the flight to Paris. I am so excited to go to Fran...."


    Eli's mind blocks out his mom, gushing over all the things she wants to do in Paris. He reads through letters, and several seem to be from the same person who sent the ones Laurie showed him. All are saying he is a liar and will pay for his sins. As he about to tell his mom about them, a knock is at the door. His mom heads over and welcomes Barry, Kerry, and Cyan of the Church of 9. They join Eli at the dining table as he tries to pack up the letters until Cyan snatches one off the table.


    "What is this? Old poems you use to write when you were young or something?"


    "Not quite"


    Cyan begins to read through it, and the look of concern starts to come across her face. She passes it over to Kerry, who passes it over to Barry, and they both have a spooked look on their faces.


    "Eli, is this something we have to worry about?"


    "Most likely"


    "How long have you known about these?"


    "Found out last night about some sent to Laurie, but my mom just showed me these. Do you guys know who could this be?"


    Rosaline realizing something is off. She picks up one of the letters and realizes what's going on. She sits down next to Eli, and he comforts her as she looks pretty nervous, as if he just realized her house is bugged.


    "Well, maybe Ms.Black should go lay down while we discuss things."


    "Anything you say to me, you can say to her."


    "Okay, Eli, we are very concerned about your state of mind. Have you been taking your meds ad going to your Therapist?"


    Eli immediately feels offended. It's very public information that he struggles with his mental health, but he has been doing very well for months now, so this prying pisses him off.
    "Honestly, I don't think that is any of your business."


    "Well, I would have to disagree. You are an athlete that represents our organization. Where you eat, sleep, shit, or who you have sex with is our business, but since your father promised us that he had you under control, we have given you a very long leash. Longer than most members of the 9."


    "Honestly, you have proven time and time again that the leash needs to be tightened or let go with your recent act....."


    "Is that the same leash that you tighten to strangle Osiris out of his place in the nine and then loosen? Loosened and let him fall to the wayside and forgotten by the public"


    "Eli, your accusations and talking out of turn is honestly not cute anymore. I have told Barry and Kerry that you seem like a commodity now, but you would be detrimental to the Church in the long run. You almost had us in a war with the observers because of your childish obsession with Cyrus. Now you risk our growth by putting up your position in the nine to get a match him. What were you thinking?


    "Well, Cyan, if you want to know, I was thinking way ahead of you three. The stuff between Cyrus and me has been one of the hottest stories of FWA over the past year, with the Church of 9 being named dropped on Fight Night weekly. Fight Night which was until the brand split the number one wrestling show on t.v. Putting the organization on the map to many people who didn't even know who you were. Not having that culminate in a huge Back in Business match would have been foolish. I am a commodity. Meltdown drafted me number six, Selected above future Hall of Famers and even Reagon Cole, the undeserving Gauntlet Champion. Since I've joined the nine, it's been a lot of criticism when I fail even though I have failed upwards and put myself in a prime position. So put respect on my name."


    "We respect you, Eli. But, unfortunately, even if Cyan doesn't, we have to worry about doing things like this without consulting us. You have been radio silent for weeks, and we could only hope you weren't going through an episode."


    "Well, if I were, you would know. There would be no questions about it. I'm just focused on becoming North American Champion. If you put your trust in me, I'll carry the 9 to glory because we all know you guys don't have many prospects these days."


    Cyan, Kerry, and Barry look taken aback by Eli's straightforwardness. Eli's mom looks at him proudly for standing up for himself. She goes back to the stove to finish off whatever she is cooking. Eli continues to pack the box back up as the trio of the nine looks to leave. They tell Rosaline how lovely her home is and as they are going outside.


    "Well, for your sake and ours, you better win."


    Eli closes the front door without a response and turns around and leans his back on the door, and lets out a sigh of relief. He enters the kitchen to get some of the soul food his mother was cooking. After they sit and eat, he helps her pack to get ready for their flight.


    Part 3: Meltdown


    Eli and Rosaline are leaving the plane, getting a cab headed towards the hotel. Rosaline with her head out the window like a dog enjoying the wind looking at the sites of Paris and pointing out all the places she wants to visit while they're here. Eli is not having such a great time enjoying the sights because he focuses on the letters from what seems to be a stalker. The letter contains information about his whereabouts that he tries to keep secret to avoid things like this from happening. He thinks of who could be doing this. Is it a group? Is it someone he has wronged from his past? Is it someone from FWA? Cyrus wouldn't stoop to such lows. Before Eli can get deeper into thought, Rosaline grabs the letters from Eli and stuff them into her purse.


    "I know you've probably been to Paris a bunch of times for one of your boujee art shows, but this is my first time. The only country I've been to out of America except for Jamaica, and I was born there!" So can we enjoy this? We are in a beautiful country surrounded by great food, music, and art. Three of your top five favorite things, and your about to wrestle at the biggest show of the year in the biggest wrestling company in the world. What else could you ask for?"


    "I guess a beautiful woman on my arm."


    Eli says it with a sly smile.


    "What about me, rude boy?"


    Rosaline pouts


    "You know what I mean, mom..."


    She smiles back shyly.


    "What about Laurie?"


    "Let's talk about something else."


    Both of them begin to laugh until tears come to their eyes. Once their stomach stops hurting, Rosaline holds Eli's right hand with hers and looks him in the eyes.


    "Let's focus on why you're here in the first place. Why did you want to become a wrestler?"


    "Loved it since I was a child. These larger-than-life beings are battling it out like titans with their words and fist. Like real-life superheroes, honestly. Knew I wanted to become one."
    "Who did you gravitate to the most?"


    "The Champions, They were always the most badass and were the best. Since I am very competitive, I loved the idea of holding something week to week that showed you were the best. Better than a Grammy since they take those back, better than any art showing that's only temporary. That is why I want the North American Championship."


    "Yeah, but what makes you stand out from the pack. Of course, everyone wants to be a champion. So what makes you want to do this, my baby boy?"


    "Well, why do people like Superheroes? They are, uh, something that inspires—role Models. I didn't have many male figures growing up in my life other than the wrestlers. So I want to be a role model to all the kids growing up watching."


    "Well, As long as you remember that nothing else matters. The boos, the doubters, the losses. As long as you keep that as your goal, everything else falls into place."


    Eli nods in agreement with his mother's statement. Through the madness going on around him with magicians, Cosmic horrors, Saint's, and whatever The Hour is, he is just a guy who wants to do what is right even if it does not seem right to everyone else.
    "Nous sommes arrivés"


    "Merci"


    The duo leaves the cab. They grab their bags and head into the hotel. It's not a five-star hotel that Eli originally wanted them to stay at, but with these letters from whomever, he tried to be low-key and hope no one bothers them. They drop their bags and get settled in. Rosaline lays down while Eli checks his laptop for his latest messages. As he is scrolling, they get a knock at the door. Rosaline answers the door, and it looks likes one of the workers at the hotel. He said she has a call coming in for her, but they cant transfer it to the room's phone. Eli becomes inquisitive about it, but his mom tells him she will be alright for five minutes. She goes will the hotel worker as Eli continues to scroll his emails. Some time passes, and he refreshes his email, and a new one comes in with the subject saying from your biggest fan. Eli opens it nervously.

    My tea's gone cold I'm wondering why I
    Got out of bed at all
    The morning rain clouds up my window
    And I can't see at all
    And even if I could, it'll all be gray
    Put your picture on my wall
    It reminds me that it's not so bad
    It's not so bad
    My tea's gone cold I'm wondering why I
    Got out of bed at all
    The morning rain clouds up my window
    And I can't see at all
    And even if I could, it'll all be gray
    Put your picture on my wall
    It reminds me that it's not so bad
    It's not so bad


    Dear Eli, I wrote you but still ain't callin'
    I left the return address at the bottom
    I sent two letters back in autumn; you must not-a got 'em
    There probably was a problem at the post office or somethin'
    Sometimes I scribble addresses too sloppy when I jot 'em
    But anyway, fuck it, what's been up? Man, how's your Mother?
    My best friend doesn't understand me too; I just met, my father too
    If I have a daughter, guess what I'm a call her?
    I'm a name her Rosaline.
    I read about Osiris too. I'm sorry.
    I had a family member kill himself over some bitch who didn't want him.
    I know you probably hear this every day, but I'm your biggest fan
    I even got the underground art you did in Brooklyn
    I got a room full of your posters and your pictures man
    I like the shit you did with Cyrus too,
    Anyways, I hope you get this man, hit me back,
    Just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan


    This is Stan


    My tea's gone cold I'm wondering why I
    Got out of bed at all
    The morning rain clouds up my window
    And I can't see at all
    And even if I could, it'll all be gray
    Put your picture on my wall
    It reminds me that it's not so bad
    It's not so bad
    Dear Eli, you still ain't called or wrote; I hope you have a chance
    I ain't mad; I just think it's fucked up you don't answer fans
    If you didn't wanna talk to me outside of the Arena
    You didn't have to, but you coulda signed an autograph for Matthew
    That's my little brother, man, and he's only six years old
    We waited in the blistering cold for you
    For four hours and you just said, "No."
    That's pretty shitty, man; you're like his fuckin' Role Model
    He wants to be just like you, man, and he likes you more than I do
    I ain't that mad, though; I just don't like bein' lied to
    Remember when we met in Denver, you said if I'd write you, you would write back
    See, I'm just like you in a way
    I barely knew my father, neither
    He used to always cheat on my mom and beat her
    I can relate to what you're saying in your art
    So when I have a shitty day, I drift away and watch
    'Cause I don't really got shit else so that shit helps when I'm depressed
    I even got a tattoo of your name across the chest
    Sometimes I scare my Therapist too
    It's like adrenaline; others fear is such a sudden rush for me
    See everything you say is real, and I respect you 'cause you tell it
    My girlfriend's jealous 'cause I talk about you 24/7
    But she doesn't know you like I know you, Eli; no one does
    She won't know what it was like for people like us growin' up; you gotta write me, man
    I'll be the biggest fan you'll ever lose


    Sincerely yours, Stan


    P.S. we should be together too


    My tea's gone cold I'm wondering why I
    Got out of bed at all
    The morning rain clouds up my window
    And I can't see at all
    And even if I could, it'll all be gray
    Put your picture on my wall
    It reminds me that it's not so bad
    It's not so bad


    Dear Mister "I'm Too Good To Write My Fans"


    This will be the last letter Stan ever sends your ass
    It's been six months, and still no word; Stan doesn't deserve it?
    Stan knows you got my last two letters; Stan wrote the addresses on 'em perfect.
    So this is Stan's message to a phony and a liar.
    Stan in the car right now; I'm doing 90 on the freeway.
    Hey Eli, Stan drank a fifth of vodka
    You dare Stan to drive?
    You know the song by Phil Collins, "In the Air of the Night."
    About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drowning
    But didn't, then Phil saw it all, then at a show he found him?
    That's kinda how this is; you could have rescued Stan from drowning
    Now it's too late; Stan is on a thousand downers now, Stan is drowsy
    And all Stan ever wanted was a lousy letter or a call
    Stanhopes, you know Stan ripped all of your pictures off the wall
    Stan loves you, Eli; we coulda been together; think about it
    You ruined it now; Stan has your mother,
    Stanhopes you can't sleep, and you dream about it
    And when you dream, Stan hopes you can't sleep, and you scream about it
    Stanhopes your conscience eats at you, and you can't breathe without Stan
    See Eli, your mom is screaming, and Stan has to tell this bitch to shut up!
    Hey Eli, meet at the address below, or you will never see her again
    FACE Stan!


    99 Square de la Couronne







    Eli runs out of the room frantically, bumping into the walls and looking for his mother until he gets to the front desk.


    "Did you see where my mom and the guy that works at the hotel went?"


    "What guy? I'm the only one working here tonight. I saw her leaving with some guy through the front door. Is everything okay"


    Eli dashes out of the hotel lobby through the front door. There's no Eli calls Frederick and tells him everything. He comes and picks Eli up, and they head to the address at the end of the letter. It's an abandoned building; Eli and Frederick enter the building looking around, but it's pretty dark. Lights come on, and in the middle of the room, Rosaline is standing on a chair with a noose around her neck connected to the chandelier. They rush to her, but "Stan" comes from behind her with his foot on the chair. He is sickly looking, but he is dressed how Eli first looked when he arrived in FWA. Stylish shades, a bandanna over his mouth, and a long black coat.


    "Hi Eli"


    "Let her FUCKING GO!!!"


    "That's the passion that Stan was hoping to see. The passion that has been sorely lacking for a while now."


    "What are you talking about, sicko?"


    "Sicko? Stan is just like you. Stan is sure you read the letters. Both lovers of art, music, wrestling, and have been wrong by people who refuse to acknowledge us."


    "I'm nothing like you. You think because you refer to yourself in the third person, we share some commonality? I would never do some sick shit like this...."


    "Oh, you wouldn't? If Stan remembers correctly, you were the one who kidnapped someone Cyrus knew to send him a message. Is that not correct?"


    "How do you know about that? Anyway, that was different?"


    "How is this different? All you want is Cyrus to acknowledge you, and all Stan wants is for you to acknowledge Stan. So it seems pretty similar to Stan."


    "Look, I'm here. You have me like you said you wanted. My mom didn't do anything to you, so just let her go safely, and we can talk."


    At this point, "Stan" has taken his foot off the chair and is entirely focused on Eli. He steps forward with his arms out as if he wants a hug from Eli. But, fortunately, he doesn't realize Frederick has gotten behind him and slowly creeping up.


    "Eli, when you first joined the FWA, you were so unique and cool. Then you teamed with Cyrus, and slowly all those things started to be stripped away. Then you became a Church of 9 puppets, and it got worse, but your biggest fan saw that you were still in there. Cyrus might have tried to change you to fit his boring vanilla outlook, but your true self will always be there. To inspire people like Stan."


    "Look, Stan is your name, right? The person you are looking for did not disappear. He grew. You are going from throwing temper tantrums, pushing loved ones away, Looking for adulation from the FWA fans and acknowledgment from Cyrus to beating Cyrus and winning championships. The person who inspired you was a loser with a loser mentality that grew into someone who gets back up when life knocks him down. Unfortunately, you missed that part."


    "What could be so unfortunate for Stan?"


    Frederick comes up behind Stan and puts him in a chokehold, and starts to choke him until he turns blue. Eli pulls Frederick off because they did not need a murder on their hands a few days before Back in Business. Eli calls the cops as Frederick consoles his Rosaline. About twenty minutes later, the cops arrive, cut Rosaline down and arrest Stan. They question Eli for a while, and he tells him about everything. Finally, they take Stan away and escort Eli's mom to the hospital.


    "Well, that was a close call. That guy was a nut job."


    "That guy was almost me last year if you didn't pull me out of that dark pit I was falling in."


    "Well, I'm just glad you and Rosey are safe. You still doing that press conference tomorrow?"


    "Yeah, I have a lot to say..."


    Part 4: Back In Business


    The press conference is being held the day before Back in Business 15. Wrestlers are all over the Arena being interviewed by a whose who. Eli sits at the table that is meant to showcase the match for the North American Championship. There is an empty seat by Eli where the champ should be. The press waits a bit.


    "To be honest with all of you. I don't think he's coming, Probably should get this show on the road with just me."


    The press raises their hands to be selected. Then, Eli just points at a random person to get things going.


    "Do you see Cyrus not showing up to this as a sign of disrespect?"


    "Not at all. If you guys paid any attention to how he moves, he does not like being around many people. So I would think of thought he was on drugs if he did show up."


    That gets a chuckle from a few in the room. Eli points at a different person.


    "This rivalry has been building up over the past year. Since you guys were paired for The Division Tag Tournament, people saw you guys as an odd couple. From being tag partners to enemies, what do you think of the man behind the larger than life persona?"


    "Well, I've gotten to see Cyrus at his most vulnerable. It is most introspective, which most people cant say. Yet, behind all the bravado, mystique, and sometimes misguided judgment, there is a good man underneath all those ugly tattoos."


    "So if he is a good man, then does that make you the villain of this story?"


    "Everyone is the hero of their journeys. In this situation, I don't believe there is a villain—just two guys with separate ideals that are hard to coexist. Cyrus has the brainwashing from his time with the Observers in him, and even though they treat him like shit, he will protect them despite himself. While I represent the 9, a charitable organization whose only wish is to help the great become extraordinary."


    "If that is the case, why did you back down when Cyrus ran his smear campaign against the Church?"


    "That was out of my control. If it were up to me, I would be shitting on the observers every day of my life until Cyrus realize how full of crap they are, but alas, some things are bigger than my vendetta."


    "Sounds like this Observer group forced you to be quiet."


    "If that is what you took from my statement? Well, you can run with that if you shall. I am here just to talk about a wrestling match for the North American Championship."


    "So this match is not designed to be a vehicle to promote both organizations?"


    "No, this match is about two people who care about each other but disagree greatly. On the interwebs, people say I didn't deserve this championship opportunity. Some of those keyboard warriors make great points, but I throw this out there. If not me, then who? Reagon Cole? He is still busy running the gauntlet. Big Mack? In the same situation. Saus X? He just not ready. Out of all the people on the card, I hold a victory over Cyrus and have unfinished business to settle at Back in Business. Someone needs to show Cyrus what he has become."


    "What is that exactly?"


    "He has become the very thing he says he despises. There is a reason Cyrus was on a losing streak before we crossed paths. He lost the fire that catapulted him through CWA and FWA. Cyrus use to be the mysterious underdog loner that people kept underestimated. He took down people who thought of themselves as godly figures until he became a godly figure for people to take down. Just these last couple of weeks, he has been backstage watching everyone kill themselves trying to get on the card for BIB while he stood by, arms folded, waiting to see if I failed. Once I did, he comes out a week before FWA and claims no one is worthy of stepping in the ring with him. All the things Cyrus claims me to be, in a cult, a liar, not mattering, is how he truly feels about himself. He is the one in a secret cult which holds valuable information from the public; he is the one spreading false about the organization my family helps build; he is the one that made the North American Championship so irrelevant no one stepped up to challenge him."


    "But you did, why?"


    "Exactly because despite the fan's reaction to my actions, everything I do is for them. I am their Role Model among Saint's, Goddess, and Dreamers. I am the one who will liberate the North American Championship from irrelevancy. I am the one who will bring art back to the ring at Back in Business. I faced what I could of become and overcame it, and now I will overcome this Cyrus who is a shell of himself."


    "You will with the help of your Father, of course?"


    "No. Just like I did this press conference on my own, I will be winning the North American Championship and hopefully putting Cyrus behind me on my own. Well, that is all the time I have, guys. Thank you for your time."


    Eli leaves the conference room, heading to the parking lot where his family sat waiting for him; he will relax and enjoy himself before the fight of his life.
    Last edited by Mr. Franchise; 06-12-2021 at 10:00 PM.
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  3. #23
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    The calm, sweet breeze of the Atlantic Wind lingered in the background. The smell of salt only helped the aesthetic of the area. A large cargo ship sailed across the bright blue ocean, hosting many bright red containers. One thing that stuck out was a small van. A crushed up coke can was thrown out the window of it, ricocheting off of container. The clanking sound it brought alerted a young man's attention over to the van. He looked to be about 18 or 19. He stepped towards the empty can and picked it up. The young man peered through the open window of the van to show Saus X.

    X had about 8 boxes of coke cans, 3 of which were empty. He finished drinking the one he currently had."Sir, what are you doing?"The young man asked X, putting the empty coke can back in the van. It turned onto it's side, where "Rich Bastard" was written in sharpie."What does it look like I'm doing? I'm drinking away the pain!"
    X leaned over and grabbed the empty can and examined it for a bit. "I see you met my ... friend Donovan Moore. You see, he's like me. A throwaway. Just someone you can throw into some random battle royal and it makes sense!" X grabbed two more cans. Both had "Simp for Gabbie" and "Superman Wannabe" on it. He proceeded to throw those out the window too.

    "I think the term "Drinking away the pain" is for Alcohol."
    X laughed after the young mans remark. "How naive you are! I was like you too. Doing nothing of importance! No offense to you though, you could make it big! You know, it's a common trend for me! I feel confident going into a match! Then I lose! I go into these shit states and then something awe-inspiring happens! Then I become confident again! it's a never-ending cycle! Don't you agree?!"

    The young man looked a bit concerned. X had picked another can up. "Sauce Freak". He kicked it out of the van "The day I have a chance to win against a genuine threat will be the day world peace is declared! The odds are against me! You have every irrelevant member of this roster in this match! Yet I still have the least chance to win! Well, maybe above Valendar and Moore."

    "Then we have "Old Man" and "Son of Old Man". All of them also in this match. It's hopeless! I'm nothing now! I lost my 24/7 record, I lost my momentum, I lost my credibility. I am bottom of the barrel scum!"


    The young man got too weirded out and walked away to go back to his job. "Your leaving me too?! Is my company not appreciated anywhere?" X scoffed he laid his seat back. He looked out into the atlantic sky, watching the clowds float by. Hearing the ocean waves splash onto the side of the boat soothed him. Is it really right to complain? He picked up a currently full can. It was unmarked with a label. So, X grabbed a sharpie. He wrote one word onto it, future, before setting it into the cup holder."Damn it. Every single day! I can't shake it out of my head. Why am I not good enough?" Every time he asks himself, he knows there is no answer. Yet he seeks one. He seeks a reason to thrive and improve. But truely, why can't he "improve." Is it because he's too focused on pushing forward than finding his footing? Is it because he's a generic high-flyer who does crazy shit for a cheap pop? Sure, it's fun listening to the crowd cheer for you? But is that how he wants to be known in the future? Some kid who made it to the big leagues doing casual shit?

    X looked at the salty water, seeing a school of fish swim near the top of the water. "I want to be the best. But can I really be the best? I've lost over half of matches and been shit stomped numerous times. Everyone starts somewhere I guess. You know, maybe this battle royal is for a purpose. I'm given all these threats! One by one!" X picked up the "Old Man" can and chucked it out the window.
    "I'll reclaim my momentum by taking them out one by one! It's a prophecy! The FWA Gods are granting me this opportunity because they favor me! With that I say, thank you!"

    X thre the can that said "Son of Old Man" out the window before he hopped out of the van and began to walk forward to a brighter future, but stopped as he reached the railing of the ship. "Oh right." X leaned onto the railing as he looked out into the horizon. Not far from there, would be France. The land of his future, his hopes, his dreams. He was ready to cement himself into the history books, writing his name as someone who won at Back in Business. He smiled to himself as we fade away from him.
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  4. #24
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    “Eighteen?!”

    That’s the first word we hear that opens the video. The tone of the words spoken in almost disbelief and slight disgust. The word itself that is spoken holds a mixture of feelings for Reagan. Eighteen was the age that Reagan was when his entire life changed forever. Eighteen was the age that Reagan got beat up so bad that he had to break into a MMA gym to seek medical attention. And eighteen was the age that Reagan met the love of his life. I mean he met her while she was standing behind her father who had a shotgun aimed at his head but still. Then the other hand we have the fear side to the number of eighteen when it comes to his son. Eighteen when Jason becomes a adult and Reagan is terrified of what might come from that, the number feels so close and so far at the same time and it leaves Reagan wondering what Jason will do with his life? Reagan didn’t have the decision his son can have when he turns this age and out of all things he researches and figures out when he’s researching, these are the questions Reagan won’t figure out for years from now. And that bothers him too. Eighteen has one more meaning to him right now and it’s the most prominent of all. Number Eighteen was when Reagan got picked in the FWA draft.

    Roy: “How the hell did you get picked at eighteen?”

    The scene finally opens to a room that….almost looks finished. Three of the four walls covered with wallpaper of a very basic design of cream clashing with the colour of light brown in a square like way. It’s clear that a refurbishing is taking place as we pan over to the main stars of this segment plastering the said wallpaper to complete the room as FWA Gauntlet Champion Reagan Cole tries to scrape the last bits of the wallpaper that was still remaining from the last “redecorating” as Roy is behind him, preparing the last roll still very confused about the word “Eighteen”

    Reagan: “I’m still new in the company, I’m still working my wa-“

    Roy:”You are a champion!”

    Reagan: “That championship belongs to both brands! They clearly knew that they would get the belt regardless of how long so why bother risking one of the to-“

    Roy: “That doesn’t justify being in the bottom half of this. Eli Black got in there before you and you beat him for the belt!”

    Reagan: “That….I don’t know what to tell you, Roy. It obviously wasn’t my choice.”

    Roy: “Unbelievable. You know what I would do?”

    Reagan rolls his eyes as he hears his father figure continue on his rant.

    Reagan:”What would you do, Roy?”

    Roy: “I would go in there and demand if I don’t get treated seriously, I’m taking my title and walking.”

    Reagan: “So annoying the people at the top? Because the last gauntlet champion that pissed off authority, it's going extremely well for her didn’t it?”

    Roy: “And when has pissing off authority scared you?”

    Reagan: “It doesn’t scare me. I’m just playing this strategically. Yeah, I am the Gauntlet Champion. But do you want to know something else? On this roster, I have two more losses than I have wins. My record is 3-5. Is that something to brag about the higher ups? No, it really ain’t. Roy, I love you but you go into situations all aggressive and trying to gain respect through fear. Me? I take a step back and analyse every move and try to not only better that record but also defend the championship that I currently own.”

    Roy: “...First off, kid. You ever say anything like that to me again, I will kick your ass, you hear me?”

    Reagan smirks as he stands up, having finally got rid of the scrap wallpaper. He goes over to get the final roll of wallpaper while nodding. Both Reagan and Roy try to get the wallpaper on the wall which as everyone knows, is annoying as shit.

    Roy: ”Secondly….Your obsession with these stupid numbers is what is clouding your judgment here. Your overall 3-5 record, the 2-1 record you have against Marcus McClain.”

    Reagan takes a step back slightly confused, letting Roy get the rest of the wallpaper flattened, Roy’s the former owner, he’s used to doing this bullshit.

    Reagan: “What about Marcus? He’s a good guy, I fully respect him.”

    Roy: “See, but this isn’t going to be about respect for the guy. He wants your championship. Bottom line. He has failed before and now you accidentally gave him a direct route to a shot against your championship which takes place on the biggest stage FWA has. You gave him determination and from my experience determination goes above respect, kid. I mean you wanna talk about that shove at Curtain Call? He said all that stuff about respecting you and then as soon as you mention that you have one thing over him and then he got aggressive. Where was the respect there?”

    At this point Reagan is silent as he starts to hammer nails into the opposite wall.

    Roy: "This is I’m talking about. You thought this was gonna be a normal match about respect but no match you have with that Championship is gonna be about that. Like I’ve said, It’s how you survive everyone coming at you all with their own motives with your championship and it’s how you overcome it. FWA didn’t respect you, Marcus isn’t. What are you gonna do about that?”

    Reagan looks at the ground before slowly grabbing the picture frame infront of him, lifting it up by himself by placing it on the nail. Reagan backs up next to Roy while simply stating.

    Reagan: “I’m gonna prove why they're wrong.”

    The segment ends on the picture in front of the two. Two knights ready for one more battle.

    " I have this weird self-esteem issue where I hate myself but still think I’m better than everyone else."

  5. #25
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    Joe Burr in…
    A HOT TUB WITH SOME FINE ASS WOMEN


    Joe Burr is in a hot tub with some fine ass women. He looks at the camera.

    “You think any of the other people in the Battle Royal get fine ass women like this? Bitch please. I am the one legitimate star in this match and in this company. I don’t need to waste my time talking about all of those other losers. Get out of here.”

    One of the women turns to Joe.

    ”You’ve only got twenty minutes left otherwise it’s another hundred, kid.”




  6. #26
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread


    =+=+=+=+=+=

    JUNE 10TH 2021
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    You remember the first time you got punched in the face?

    I mean properly punched in the face. Not messing around with your friends or family. Not a mitted punch in your karate class on the second floor of a shopping mall. Not even the handbags behind the smoking shed at the back of the school. I’m talking really punched in the face. By somebody that’s big. Somebody that’s strong. Somebody that’s punching you in the face because they want to hurt you because they don’t like you. It’s a different type of punch.

    You with me now? If you ain’t, then I’m sorry pal, but you ain’t ever really been punched.

    See I remember the first time I got socked in the mouth. That shit was scary. I remember it as clear as day.

    I was seventeen. Thought I knew it all. Thought I was the big-big - the dog’s bollix, so to speak. I remember I was working in this store downtown. Nothing fancy. Just a little convenience store on the corner of an unassuming neighborhood. Nothing much ever happened. There was this chick working with me right … Rachel - I think - her name was. Rachel was your “alright” type. She was a good looking girl but she wasn’t somebody I was swooning over. In fact, if I’m being honest, I think she always had a bit of a crush on me. Well, for a while anyway.

    I was working with Rachel one Sunday. It was like midday. I’d been in since open at eight am and I had been out the night before, but truth be told, I didn’t get hangovers back then. One of the many benefits of drinking in your younger years. So, as you can imagine, I was in pretty good form, even flirting a little with Rachel. I was telling her about the night’s previous events and how we’d ended up all the way out near Staten Island. She giggled, twirled her hair and asked how the hell did a hood like me afford the cab journey back across the boroughs. Cheeky. But kinda cute. I told her it weren’t no thing and that I jumped it.

    Jumping a cab is essentially when you take the cabbie into a complex structure of lanes and alleyways in a part of town you know like the back of your hand. When he stops you jump out and take off into the murky labyrinth of New York City’s backstreets.

    They usually don’t chase.

    I was recounting the story to Rachel and getting to the climax when all of a sudden it happened. A hammer-like fist came smashing right into my face, four knuckles cracking me right on the mush. That was the first in a long line of nose-breaks. I’m used to it now but man, that first time, it stung like a motherfucker. I mean, you ever break your nose? It’s just a fucking concoction of blood, snots and tears. You can’t see fucking shit. Everything’s hot. And that first time? Man I don’t know if it was fear, shock - whatever. That first time, I freaking pissed myself like a little girl waking up in the middle of the night and realising Mommy and Daddy ain’t home.

    Just my luck that the taxi-man I’d jumped less than eight hours previous had now strolled into the shop I was working in. The punch was only the beginning. He dragged me from behind the counter and pulled me out onto the street. I can remember Rachel shouting and screaming but I’d be a liar if I said I could recall what she said. I still couldn’t see shit, man. I just remember feeling the bare pavement scraping against the skin of my palms and knees as he tossed me outside the store. He said something about money. Something about me not being so hard without my friend. I don’t know. My chest felt tight. He pulled me to my feet and told me that if I was going to go around doing whatever I wanted then I had to learn that there would be consequences.

    The consequences?

    I don’t know. I bolted man. As soon as he let go of me, I just sprinted into the night. He called me a coward. That was the last thing I heard. It was the last time I worked at that store. It was the last time I seen Rachel. But even worse?

    That was the last time she seen me.

    My heart beats that little bit faster every time I think of this. I don’t know why but it does. That was me in a state of fear. Pure terror. They say to really see what a man is made of you’ve got to see how he reacts when he actually is afraid. I ran. I often think that Rachel must have seen me on the television. She must know who I am.

    The thought that there’s a person out there looking at me saying “N’awh. This is bullshit. The last time I seen him he was covered in snots, tears, blood AND his own piss. The last time I seen him he ran away. This guy isn’t tough.” It absolutely kills me. It invalidates me. It reminds me that I’m not enough. I never will be. See even then, I needed someone to lean into. I always have. I don’t think I can stand on my own two feet.

    Even still. Even after-


    “Yo, Danny, are you gonna pass that fucking thing or what? I didn’t keep the Orange Incan Kush up all this time for you to slobber all over it and go into a trance.”

    “Uh-what?”

    Danny Toner is leaning with his back against a red-brick alley wall. He is wearing the same baby-blue Nike tracksuit that he wore at the Official Back in Business Press Conference with Golden Rock. In fact, judging by the blood-shot retina and the tightly packed joint dangling between his fingers, this is just a continuation of the night’s proceedings. He looks like he’s been out of it for a while and gazes confusingly at his companion - Ryan Rondo. Rondo is also in the same black Nike attire he wore at the press conference as he reaches out and takes the joint off Danny.

    “You were away with the fairies there, man. You good?”

    “Yeah, yeah. Just thinkin’.”

    There is a puzzled look etched on Rondo’s face as he questions Danny prior to taking a quick toke.

    “Bit dangerous for you to be doing that no?”

    Danny scoffs and claps his hands together, rubbing them for some warmth - though, it’s not particularly cold. Maybe it’s a comfort thing. He looks around the dingy alley. Standard fare. To his right is a fire-escape door and to his left is a wide-steel shutter. A weathered-down computer chair with only two wheels remaining lies idly on it’s side but other than that, it was just a derelict empty alley. No bins, no rats, no hobos. Just Danny and Ryan. Fairly bare-bones. The cogs begin turning in Danny’s head. He can’t remember much of the night’s proceedings after Golden smashed the mug over his head.

    “What we doin’?”

    Rondo stares up to the sky as he hits the joint again, inhaling smoke, before exhaling and replying to Danny.

    “Smoking weed like it’s the most illegal thing in the world?”

    Danny points at Rondo in response, smirking at him.

    “Alright wiseguy, I meant: what we doin’ here in this fuckin’ piss-stinkin’ alley way?”

    Rondo takes a drag off the joint and smirks back. Danny’s eyebrow shoots up.

    Danny really doesn’t know, huh? Maybe Devin hit Danny a little harder than Rondo thought. Still, Danny needs a shake-up every now and again. Good old Devin doing his job for him! Handy that. Though Rondo does wonder if Danny really can’t remember the alley … or he’s choosing not to. Blocking it ain’t no good. He’s got to filter through the shit to get to the good stuff. Rondo spreads his arms in an over the top, majestic manner worthy of an Oscar-winner preparing to take a bow on stage.

    “Don’t you remember, Danny?”

    “Remember what, G?”







    “Our freakin’ origin story! Are you kidding me right now?”

    Danny looks around the alleyway and lets his eyes settle on the setting sun. It’s perfectly positioned so that you can see it setting in the distance by looking out the end of the alleyway. Danny’s eyes linger on the sun. It’s perfect. Why can’t it just end there? Danny speaks softly, perhaps more softly than we’ve ever heard him.

    “No, Ryan. I don’t remember.”

    Rondo returns an exasperated expression with his arms still outstretched. Rondo keeps the joint in mouth… mumbling words as Toner stands with his back to him.

    “You’re taking the piss right? Like fuck you don’t!”

    Ryan spins Danny around and stares at him in the face.

    “You really don’t remember? Bullshit. How could you ever forget? I suppose you were about twenty drinks deep ...”

    Danny immediately rears up, snarling and aggressively shouting at Ryan, pushing him backwards.

    “I DON’T WANNA FREAKING REMEMBER!”

    Ryan instantly retaliates with his own two-handed shove, pushing Danny towards the direction of the setting sun.

    “Well, you have to.”

    “Why?”

    “Because you need to understand. You need to understand what this is all about. You need to fully appreciate this man, trust me. You don’t know when it’ll happen again. You want to move on even further? You gotta leave everything in the past … in the past. The things you worried about before? It’s over. They’re gone.”

    Danny’s head droops and he stares at the concrete on the ground for a second. He could feel that tightening chest. He was still afraid. Rondo just didn’t know it. He was going to let him down. He was going to run. Without even having the courage to look at his partner Danny begins to meekly mutter his grievances.

    “What if they’re not gone? What if the fears resurface? What if I make the same mistakes again? What if what everyone used to think is true? What if I’m not good enough and this has just been my run? My fifteen minutes of relevance?”

    “It’s not.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Becuase you know it too and that’s something I need you to realise. Listen to yourself, man. You’re the only person thinking these things.”

    Danny sighs and he looks around the alleyway. Of course, he knows where they are. Of course, he remembers. Danny remembers every time he was scared. He was afraid to revisit it but as Rondo passed him the end of the joint, he could tell by the expression on Rondo’s face, he was ready. He doubted he could get away from this. He glances up at him.

    “So, this is it, huh?”

    “This is it.”

    “Man …”


    Danny shakes his head at the ground and looks up at Rondo. Rondo places a brotherly hand on his shoulder and maintains direct eye-contact with him.

    “Look, I know you don’t like looking back on this sort of stuff but trust me you need to see that these doubts that are festering in your mind? They’re illusions. Manufactured. They aren’t real. You are what’s real. We are what’s real. This time, this run? It’s for real.”

    Danny maintains eye contact with Rondo. He’s still unsure. But Rondo hadn’t steered him wrong once yet.

    “Aight then … I’m with you. We’re here for a reason ... Why?”

    “It’s time to tell the rest of the FWA exactly what happened right? Are you ready? The mask came off but nobody quite gets it yet.”

    Danny sighs. He isn’t sure if he is ready. But this is it. It’s Back in Business. This is what it was all building to. Golden Rock. Toner. Rondo. World Tag Team Championships. They were always going to have to eventually tell-all but ever since they won the World Tag Team Championships at Desert Storm, Danny had been dreading the moment. Danny was embarrassed about who he was back when this all started. He wasn’t a pretty sight. People had loved him since the moment he came back but in Danny’s mind, he wasn’t strong back then. He was terrified of showing people so close to Back in Business that this vulnerability even existed, but Rondo was steeled. He’d done this sort of thing before. Back in Business main events. But Danny? Danny’s head was racing with all thoughts and Golden Rock getting the better of them at the press conference had put Danny into a spin. He was doubting himself big time. Doubting the team. But Rondo hadn’t steered him wrong yet. He owed him that much.

    “You want to tell them everything?

    “Everything.”

    “But that could take all night!?”

    “What? You don’t have the time? Are you a pussy?”

    Danny rolls his eyes into his head and finally relents.

    Fine. Let’s take a freakin’ trip down memory lane. How do you wanna do this?”

    “Well ... are you ready?”

    “Yeah. Let me just light this, one sec.”


    Danny puts the joint in his mouth and tucks his head down, scrambling in his light for a pocket. The metal shutter on his left-hand side begins whirring and slowly rising. His eyes linger on the worn-down, wheelless chair. Danny remembers that he gave Rondo the lighter and pops his head up to ask for one but immediately gets punched square in the face by Ryan Rondo …









    =+=+=+=+=+=
    JULY 7th 2020
    (clickable from this point)
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    As Danny’s head snaps back from the force of the punch he immediately gets bundled to the ground. His last thought as his head narrowly avoids slamming against a fire-escape door in the alleyway is that he shouldn’t have put the bottle over that guy, Rachel’s boyfriend. Now he was on the floor with kicks and punches raining down on him, already a bust in his latest FWA return and possibly staring down the barrel of death. As Danny sees the third figure approach through his blurred vision, he figures the death of Danny Toner wouldn’t be a bad thing. At least he wouldn’t disappoint others anymore. Or disappoint himself. The third figure was likely the boyfriend coming to join his two friends and Danny realises he might actually die tonight. He can feel himself fading. Internally Danny is telling himself to take the coward's way out and pass out so he wouldn’t feel any more pain and externally he complies, slowly fading …

    Danny jolts awake and immediately tries to sit up from the concrete floor of the alleyway but is quickly placed back down by somebody – not aggressively, affirmatively but gently. Danny’s head is pounding, and his vision is still blurred, he could only imagine what he looked like. He meekly groans out.

    “Yo … who’s there … what gives?”

    A voice responds from close by.

    “It’s alright … relax bro … you’ve been beaten up...”


    Danny manages to perch his head up and look at the person tending to him, but he still can’t make anything out other than the silhouette of the person.

    “No shit! Who the fuck are you?”

    The figure sounds surprised at Toner’s unfamiliarity and tries to answer his question.

    “It’s m-”

    Toner, being in slight distress, cuts him off before he can finish speaking...

    “Yo, I don’t care right now but just please tell me you’re my friend cause I ain’t feelin’ too hot …”

    “I’m … yeah, fuck it- I’m you’re friend, ally, brother whatever you want pal.”

    The mystery guardian shuts up as Danny has passed out once again … he sighs and shakes him a little. Not roughly. The man had been through more than enough already. Danny’s eyes flicker open and closed a couple of times before they seem to stay open. They look glazed over and as he rubs his temple with his fingertips he looks up at his saviour.

    “Wait … you’re …”

    “Yeah, it’s me.”


    Danny manages to push himself up into a seated position, his back resting against the steel shutter. He winces some and asks the obvious.

    “What the fuck are you doing here? As if some random donny just turns out to be Ryan fucking Rondo?”

    Rondo leans down and stares at Toner. He pulls a white cylindrical object out of one pocket and a lighter out of the other.

    “How much time do you have?”

    Toner eyes up the lighter and the cylindrical object before smirking. His head’s still pounding but it likely won’t be for any longer.

    “I don’t think I’m going anywhere soon… where’s that from?”

    Rondo smirks back at him.

    “I know a guy who goes by ‘Traffic Cone #2’ who has good stuff. I thought I’d have it alone but well, since, I guess we’re probably going to be here a while…”

    Danny goes to snatch at the lighter in Rondo’s hand though he clearly groans through the pain. He has the lighter in his hand and signals to Rondo to pass him the cylinder.

    “Fuck! I’ll take anything right now. I’m broken right now. I don’t think I can get any lower.”

    The upright figure of Rondo yanks the lighter out of Danny Toner’s hand before using it to ignite the cylindrical object placed in his mouth. He puffs on it for a few seconds as Danny looks up at him … slightly bewildered …

    “Correct, Danny. You are broken.”

    ... and now somewhat offended. It always hits a little different when it comes from someone else. Danny shifts himself a moment before speaking.

    “You just come here to fucking dangle a joint in my face and insult me? Confirm what I already freakin’ know about myself?”

    Rondo smirks at him once again as he puffs again.

    “Don’t be silly. I only realised you were here a short while ago. That bar you were in? I was there, drinking… mulling over a decision. Nice piece you had by the way - shame about the boyfriend situation. A story to add to the collection, I’m sure, for the grandkids. Happens to us all. Wait until you hear about one I have with this Asian girl in a Madrid shirt. Pink no less….”

    He trails off for a second and looks at the ground as if lost in a train of thought. He snaps back and passes the lit joint to Toner - who seems grateful for it as he takes his first puff.

    “The real reason I’m here is because, well, I was asked if I wanted to be in this tag tournament. Look, you know I’ve been doing things here and there and whatever. I’ve not been involved in the game for a long time. I don’t know anything that’s going on. But I guess there was one person I was willing to come back for …”

    Toner has a questioning look for a moment and Rondo acknowledges this, continuing to speak, a somewhat disappointed tone in his voice.

    “The invitation expired before I could respond but… I guess it got me thinking about a few things I had to clear off of my chest. I initially thought I’d come back and see what the FWA had to offer but couldn’t stomach going to the show. I guess I’m only really back to say something to someone. I was slamming some back before letting it out but … there you were … mouthing off to these lame punks. You got wiped out. And now … here we are …

    A shitty alleyway, a joint, a broken Danny Toner and myself - aimlessly wandering.”


    Danny takes another pass before trying to stand himself up against the wall. He signals to Rondo that he is giving over the smoking utensil before speaking.

    “Devin Golden got you good then? I might’ve had the shit kicked out of me, Rondo, but that’s not a hard one to suss out is it?”

    Rondo walks over to him and looks at Toner, slightly keeled over from pain, in the eyes without flinching.

    “You stand there feeling the exact same way that I do right now. The disgusting lack of self-pride. You know as well as I do that when it comes to pride, there’s nothing worse than not being proud of yourself and everything you’ve been a part of.”

    A noticeably more intense Rondo steps away from Toner and stares out at the stars up in the sky with a clenched fist. He doesn’t stare back at all.

    “It doesn’t matter to me if nobody else thinks about the damage done because I’m the one that matters. I’m the one that feels like a legacy has been tarnished through no doing of my own. You know the feeling I’m talking about right now? Someone’s taken from you when they had no right to? I didn’t come here on any sort of journey but a personal one, Danny. I came here so I could walk up to Devin Golden, say my piece and bounce. I don’t need to fight him to get my point across. I know my words would hurt him more than anything I could do in or out of that ring. There’s nothing in that ring for me to accomplish regardless. There was nothing for me to come back to the FWA for… until he changed that. I’ve still got nothing left to prove to anyone, but I have a personal wrong to right.”

    There’s a pause for a minute as Toner tries to hobble away from the wall. Rondo turns around to notice him making it to some thrown away, worn out old computer chair. Danny checks it over before crouching down and rolling over on its three remaining wheels. He yanks the joint out of Rondo’s hand before taking a pass.

    “Then why don’t you? Just fucking go and say whatever then leave it be.”

    Rondo looks down at Danny to acknowledge him.

    “Other than this happening, I guess I just wanted to put it off. I suppose I have to accept what it really means to do something like that.”

    “Fuck that noise. Eye for an eye shit.”

    Rondo laughs sarcastically in response …

    “I know but I guess … I don’t really have any sort of beef with who his tag partner is. I don’t want to cause any stress or anything dumb. It’s not his fault. Maybe there is a better way, you know? It still annoys me because I know exactly what’s going on with the situation and the team.”

    Toner takes another pass as he appears to be thinking.

    “Situation? What do you mean? Who’s his partner again?”

    “He told me it was Randy Ramon, ri--”

    Danny remembers before Rondo can finish speaking and almost explodes up out of the chair with unexpected rage.

    “FUCK RANDY RAMON!”

    “Oh …”

    “Nah man, you don’t understand. Well, fuck, maybe you do. This guy… just… seems to be there BEFORE ME every time. Makes his name in the FWA off my back and now this shit? This was supposed to be my big comeback tournament and, once again, I’ve been upstaged by this fucking clown.”


    Toner falls back down onto the chair as Rondo pats him on the shoulder.

    “Let it all out then big guy. Tell me how you really feel, right? You remember me speaking about pride, yeah? That’s exactly how I feel about it all. It fucking sucks. I see Devin Golden unretire and take away something from me but then he teams with Randy Ramon? Nothing wrong with the guy but I see what Devin is trying to do from a mile away. It’s Sunrise-Sunset all over again. I don’t know why or care about the reasons Devin Golden unretired. He’s free to do that. He’s not free from the consequences of doing so though. He’s changed how I view Sunrise-Sunset and now he wants to try and recreate it!? Come on, dude, Ramon’s even got the same initials as me? I’ve got reason to be mad-”

    “You’re not serious about the initials thing are you? ‘Cause like it’s pretty solid ‘til that point.”

    “Shut up.

    But call me dumb for thinking this … you hate Ramon, I hate Golden?”


    “That’s not dumb that’s right isn’t it? Go on ...”

    Toner turns and looks quite interested at where Rondo’s thought process seems to be going. He passes him the joint which Rondo takes and puffs before going on to speak. It’s almost like whoever has the joint gets to speak!

    “Well, I don’t care about anything else other than making my point to Devin. You? You’re sitting here whilst a guy who has made his name off the back of yours is primed for success? Don’t you want to take that back from him? Don’t you want to be the Danny Toner you should have been all along? I don’t care about this tournament, the tag belts or anything else in the FWA. I just care about getting to Devin. Ramon’s the guy standing next to him.

    Tournament or not, we get a match with them, and we ice them like we know we should. I get to walk away knowing I’ve played a part in ruining Devin’s story just like he ruined mine ... You get to where you should be at Ramon’s expense.

    Am I crazy?”


    Ryan passes Danny the joint, nearly suggestively. Danny stares at it for a second before taking the cone. He takes a deep drag before exhaling and laughing.

    “Shit … you’re as crazy as me, brother! Fuck it, Donovan Moore’s out... you’re in. We’re in. To ending Devin and Randy. I’ll make damn sure that we keep that tournament place. We’ll get them. Wherever that may be...”

    Ryan graciously accepts the joint back from his new partner and smiles widely.

    “To ending Devin and Randy.”

    Danny nods his head aggressively then turns around and punts the worn-down chair away from it’s seated position. A few wheels pop off as the chair falls onto its side.

    The two nod at each other. Unlikely allies driven together in pursuit of vengeance. Revenge, even. But to extract whatever -nce word you’ve opted with, they had a mountain to climb. In the shape of FWA World Champion Saint Sulley and his protege, Ty Johsnon.

    “You know I know nothing about the FWA outside of Devin Golden and Randy Ramon.”

    “Cool. Well uh, you know if we stay in this tournament then our first match is against the World Champ, right?”

    “Who’s the World Champion? Cyrus? Gabrielle? Is Kennedy back yet?”

    “Nawh man, Saint Sulley.”

    Excuse me!?”

    “Yeah … Garcia won number one contendership at the last PPV.”

    What?!

    He’s clearly quite dumbfounded.

    “What’s the deal?”

    Rondo laughs aloud and runs his hand through his stubble.

    “The FWA needs the team of Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo more than they even realise if Michael Garcia is failing his way to success. We’re gonna have to change some things up though, man, Dave Sullivan? The greatest X champ of all time allegedly?”

    Danny nods his head.

    “Well first things first - I’m going to have to wear a mask. Sulley will find a way to get out of the match if he knows it’s me that’s coming for him. He’s probably trying to find a way to get out of it anyway, knowing it’s you.”

    Danny laughs a little but immediately holds his ribs and begins wheezing.

    “What’s so funny?”

    “You’re acting like Sullivan would be scared of me.”

    “He is. Or he should be.”

    “Huh?”

    “Everyone should be afraid of Danny Toner, should they not?”


    Danny looks at Rondo, trying to hide his appreciation at his words, even though he wasn’t sure if he quite believed them yet. He couldn’t help but feel that this plan was just Rondo’s way of trying to get back at Devin. For reneging on the retirement match. For standing him up for the tag team classic. But still, a little voice in his head told him that he needed Rondo. He needed someone. Danny Toner always did. He can’t do it on his own. Randy Ramon was a daunting task to think about just by himself right now never mind in a team.

    “So you think I could beat the World Champion?”

    Rondo roars aload with laughter.

    “I know you could. You need to start having a little faith in yourself, Danny Fucking Toner and we’ll have Dev’ and Randy were we want ‘em in no time. No time at all. We’ll let them think they have the jump on us. Devin Golden prefers to be the smartest person in the ring. Let him feel that way. We both know that by focusing on him, we’ll neutralise the team. He will think he has us figured out. I guarantee you he is the first person to ponder what’s under the mask As for everyone else? They’ll underestimate us. They’ll underestimate you. We have the element of surprise to work in our favour. Nobody expects anything.”

    With that Rondo slaps Toner heartily on the back in encouragement for their upcoming match against the World Champion …









    =+=+=+=+=+=
    AUGUST 15TH 2020
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    Danny nods his head up and down and jumps on the spot as Rondo’s head slaps against his back in an encouraging manner.

    “Yo, what did I tell you, D? What did I tell you?”

    Danny immediately smiles. The cockiness is exuding from him.

    “You said we’d beat the World Champ and his team and BABY - 1, 2, 3! We did it, man! We freaking did it! You were right!”

    “Of course, I was right, man. We’re gonna run through this tournament. Through the entire loser bracket and then we’ll beat Golden Rock twice on the bounce. Mark my words Danny boy! This is why we are making things happen.”

    “I ain’t gonna doubt you again. This feeling? Being fuelled like this? I ain’t ever felt anything like it. All that’s keeping me going is beating Ramon and Golden in the tournament final. That’s the reason we beat Sulley. That’s the reason we’re gonna destroy Black Caramel here in NYC!”


    “Ya mean Tonerville!”

    Danny stops is his tracks for a moment and looks at Rondo.

    “That ain’t half a bad idea …”

    “What?”

    “Tonerville!”

    “You don’t say you’re from Tonerville?”

    “Never thunk to …”

    “Man, I been doing this like two months and I’m already a way better Toner than you.”

    Danny punches Ryan playfully on the arm as he begins to strap on his “Donny Toner” mask. Everything was perfect. He had Rondo now, he wasn’t going to lose easily. He’d his new Marcus/Christian/Randy. People would soon forget about Danny’s shortcomings.

    “You’re about to get the loudest reaction of your career just by pretending to be related to me.”

    “Home-town reactions don’t count bozo.”

    “Whatever G … you wanna go over a game-plan or somethin’?”

    “Who we got?”

    “Black Caramel - Alyster Black and Gabrielle Montgomery.”


    Ryan actually snorts mid-laugh.

    “You kidding me? We got those two, no questions asked. Who the fuck is Alyster Black?”

    Danny ponders this for a moment and eventually shrugs his shoulders, it seems he’s in agreement.

    “Pft, yeah … no big deal.”

    Suddenly the opening sounds of JME and Skepta’s “That’s Not Me” begin ringing out about the Barclays Center. Danny and Ryan share a knowing smile at the lyrics.

    “Aight G … let’s roll on out … It’s Super Smash Toner time!”

    “Yo, just wait up a second, I’m flicking on the PPV. I wanna be able to come back here and scout our beloved Golden Showers whilst we're celebrating.”

    “Did they go with Golden Showers in the end?”


    Nonchalant shrug from Rondo.

    “You think they’ll beat The Division?”

    Rondo first turns on the television station and switches it to the PPV channel before answering.

    “They may call themselves The Division and the pay-per-view may be named after them but to be honest … Golden Showers versus us? That’s written in the stars. Randy and Devin win.”

    “And so do Ryan and Danny! I mean, uh … Donny and Danny! One step closer to takin’ em out in the finals.”

    “Now you’re talking! Let’s fucking roll, D!”


    Danny and Donny leave the locker-room, hooting and hollering and the focus is on the television set in their locker-room. The door slams shut behind them and zooming in until the television output encompasses our entire view, we see a completely silent detailing of events …

    We see Danny Toner and Donny Toner make their entrance at Division’s Rules. Smiles are beaming across their faces and Danny beats his chest, not one care in the world, the awaiting duo in the ring as far away from their thoughts as possible. Alyster Black and Gabrielle lurk sinisterly, unphased by the home-town advantage The Toners possess. It shows the smile being wiped clean off Danny’s face and a look of horror on Donny’s as Black Caramel are announced as victors. Danny is white as a ghost, Donny is a blood-stained red under his mask. They look lost …

    The television continues playing a sequence of events and up next, we see Black Caramel standing, waiting in the ring. Absolutely furious. Black needs to be worked with. It’s still pure silence as the footage rolls but the referee raising his hands aloft in the air and showing a different number of digits each time, indicates he’s making a count. He reaches ten and calls for the bell and those privy to the art of lip-reading can pick Alyster Black shout that “Danny Toner is a bitch!” as he pulls Gabrielle away from the official. She feels robbed of a match here tonight. The Toners didn’t show up. They ran away …

    Next comes the confirmation of what people were waiting for - The Toners were a flash in the pan and had already fallen off the deep end. We see a shit, ragged looking Danny get tossed from post to post and put away in less than five minutes against the vicious and unrelenting Kayden Knox. Vicious and unrelenting as he may be, this was a match set up in the expectation of a Toner win to give him a boost. He lost …

    Finally, we see the classic that was Danny Toner versus Alyster Black at The Anniversary Show in Canada. Danny Toner didn’t look as down as he had done recently and unloaded the full clip against Alyster but still as the video wore on, we could see Danny getting increasingly desperate and it was of no surprise when Alyster nailed Satan’s Spike and pinned Danny in themiddle of the ring …







    ...

    Devin Golden & Randy Ramon vs Danny Toner & Ryan Rondo? It wasn’t written in the stars.

    =+=+=+=+=+=
    OCTOBER 9TH 2020
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    We see Alyster nail Satan’s spike in the middle of the ring on a monitor and hear somebody wincing loudly. Ryan Rondo sits with the Donny mask on his lap. He hasn’t changed out of his ring gear since his match with Mike Valander - yes, you’re reading that right - and is waiting with bated breath for the outcome of Danny vs Alyster. He prayed to every deity in the sky that Danny kicked out. He didn’t know if Danny was stable enough to stomach his fourth loss in a row. He groans as the referee slams his hand to the mat for a third time and begins thinking to himself. Maybe he had this all wrong? Maybe it wasn’t about getting that match with Devin and Randy. Maybe they were just obsessed with them in their own individual way and had to let it slide… but what was it about then? He needed to reflect. He needed to be true to himself if he was going to have any chance of being true to Danny.

    Perhaps he was wrong about everything. What did it all really matter anyway? He was still ‘Donny’ to the world at this point in time. He could just do what he always intended to - speak to Devin privately and walk away. But then where would that leave Danny? It’d be a cruel thing to do.

    He looks down at his phone and checks a message from someone labelled ‘S’.

    “I’m back in Tsushima for a few months. Don’t know what you’re up to but the locals said the gaijin hadn’t been around for a while. One guy said you tried to fight a bear and lost. You’re alive though, right? Well, if you are, you should come back for a while. Those SSD guys have apparently been around.”

    He laughed to himself at the tone of the message from his friend. It was an interesting proposition. Tsushima had been a favourite place of his for training and general self-discovery. He’d just have to explain that to ...

    Suddenly, the door to the changing room swings open and a defeated, dejected Danny Toner stumbles through. Rondo whips himself from his thoughts before turning around. Both have a blank stare, there’s a defeated silence.

    Danny speaks first as Rondo fidgets around with the mask in his hands.

    “It’s fucked. I’ve fucked it again.”

    “Yeah…”

    Danny holds his arms outstretched.

    “Is that it? All this dicking around, all this effort to get to those two dickwads and now we’re here… and that’s all you got?”

    Rondo throws the mask on the ground.

    “What do you want me to say, man? It’s easy for me. People aren’t expecting anything of me. I know that. I get how it is for you. It feels like we’re chasing our tails time and time again. You’re chasing your tail time and time again. I think you need to time yourself out and get some perspective. Rework a few things. I don’t think what we’re doing is getting us anywhere. An old friend of mine reached out to me. I think I’m going to make another trip to Japan ...”

    “Wait, I lost this match so you’re going back to Japan?! Are you fuckin’ serious? You’re going to leave me here by myself? I need you, G.”

    “I’m not going back to Japan because you lost, Danny. I’m going back to figure some things out. You don’t need me, I’m sick and tired of telling you that. Stop talking horseshit. You need to develop some self- belief. Do you really think Alyster Black beats you tonight if you’re at your very best? No. Do you lose to Kayden Knox? No. Do I get paired with Mike Valander? No. Do we lose to Black Caramel? No. We’re doing something wrong, D, that’s all it is. We need to do this, we need to find out what exactly we wanna do because Danny? This revenge mission on Golden Rock … it’s not working. Our heads are in the wrong place. We aren’t getting anywhere by believing that it’s our god given right to smite those guys.”

    “But you said-”

    “I know, Danny. I was wrong. It isn’t about revenge. It shouldn’t be about them. It can’t be about them.”


    A slight smile appears on his face.

    “I can be wrong, you know! I’m not perfect. Nobody is. Not everybody likes me. They don’t have to ...”









    =+=+=+=+=+=
    DECEMBER 31ST 2020
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    I’m not perfect. Nobody is. Not everybody likes me. They don’t have to.”

    An outrageously pumped-up Danny Toner finds himself repeating the mantra in a cracked mirror hanging on a bare concrete wall. Cracked mirror is a kind descriptor, it’s more like a shard of glass. Danny’s jaw is clenched tight, neck muscles popping and veins throbbing around his head. It was as if half an hour previous, Danny had double-dropped two of the most MDMA-heavy Blue Ghost pills available in the illicit drug-dealing underworld but alas this was not the case. Tonight, Danny was experiencing a different high, a different surge. Danny was high on himself. A wave of confidence was coursing through his veins like none he’d ever felt before. When he beat Saint Sulley and Ty Johnson, he thought he felt it. When Alyster Black pinned him and condemned him to a fourth straight defeat, he thought he might never feel it again.

    What Danny didn’t know was that back then? He was nowhere near his best.

    He talked a big game and walked around like he deserved something but really? One win against a World Champion and his lackey don’t make you a bigshot. One win doesn’t make anybody a bigshot. And a loss doesn’t make anybody … not ... but four on the bounce? Danny continued to let his thoughts wander as he held his own reflection’s gaze. He remembered the Black Caramel loss. How he felt nearly … insulted by the result? Offended? As if somebody had done something wrong. As if he couldn’t be the reason why things didn’t work out. It had to be somebody else’s fault. He let that feeling take hold of him and he lost again. And again. And again.

    Danny felt like that because at the time, Danny felt like he had to win. He was still afraid of losing. Still afraid of getting hurt. Still afraid of being knocked cold on his back by somebody bigger, somebody stronger. Danny had felt that if he lost - it was a sign of weakness. He always worried about how precariously balanced he was in terms of reception. The fans loved him, yeah. But his peers? Damn, it’s 2021 in a couple of hours and Danny still thought people doubted him. He’d always have his doubters. If he lost, he’d lose any chance of gaining their respect and admiration.

    He didn’t yet understand that from loss stems the greatest victories. But he was beginning to realize. He was beginning to believe. From his loss against Alyster Black he’d rebounded and captured his first ever singles championship - the FWA Gauntlet Championship. He’d since lost it to Chris Peacock in a triple threat match but this time - the loss was different. Okay, so initially, Danny had to admit, it wasn’t. He’d lost the Gauntlet Championship and pulled the same sorry act, cribbin’ and cryin’ blaming everyone but himself. Fact was - Danny got outdone. He wasn’t beaten but he was outdone. He’d wager Peacock would make the same argument about their initial match in which Danny emerged victorious. But it took him a little minute to recognize that. He lost but he wasn’t finished. He could rectify it. Of course, he could! Danny began to realise that a loss isn’t always the end. It’s just a door shutting.

    You can kick down doors.

    And Danny would argue he’d gotten quite good at that. Danny fully believed he was the best fighter in the world. He thought that used to mean you win all the time but man … nobody wins all the time. You don’t want to lose but you can’t fear it either. Especially not when in this little merry-go-round they call FWA, everybody gets their chance … eventually. For some it’s a couple of months. For others it’s a couple of years. For some, it’s seven. But it mattered not. Danny knew that now. For the cream always rises as they say ...

    Danny’s eyes don’t betray themselves in the mirror. He looks confident. Him and Peacock were one apiece and he’d just suffered the latest blow. This was Danny’s litmus test. To see if he was ready. To see if he was right in his belief to not fear losses. To see if his theory that it would even itself out would prove correct. To see if he was as good as he claimed.

    While he would gain the answer to his internal questions in The Warehouse against Peacock, he had already definitely come to the conclusion that he cared not whether his peers “rated” him or even if they liked him. Danny had finally begun to realise what he was capable of. He’d finally begun to realise what it was all about. He’d finally begun to realise that he is the best in the world and frankly, nobody could tell him different. He picked up a bottle of Corona and popped the top off using his teeth. He spit the cap on the floor and as it dinged, the intro to Disturbed’s Down With The Sickness began roaring through The Warehouse. Danny finally pulled away from the mirror. He made his way towards a set of doors, topless, wearing nothing but black tracksuit bottoms and white trainers. He took a sip of his Corona and Danny took a second to embrace the feeling. He was ready. He knew now that he was. Danny snarls and beats his chest before kicking the door open and marching into the maddening crowd of The Warehouse, the awaiting Chris Peacock and about twenty minutes of sheer brutality ...









    =+=+=+=+=+=
    JANUARY 1ST 2020
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    It had been about twenty minutes since Michelle von Horrowitz had made the mistake that cost her the “Duel upon the Frozen Lake” with Rondo. The sudden shock of the cold water devouring her, combined with extreme exhaustion, had caused her to black out. Fortunately, she was saved from what would have been an icy tomb due to Rondo not having the gall to leave her be. A fight? Sure. Leaving someone to die? That wasn’t who he was.

    He made sure that Michelle was wrapped in a dozen or so blankets upon the ice and built a small fire to keep warm. He enjoyed the peace and quiet given earlier going ons and found a moment to reflect. There was a smooth breeze in the air, but it was still calm enough to enjoy … somewhat.

    He had come here to get away from Devin Golden and the notion of revenge. It had slowly started to consume him during his time back in the FWA.

    He had no idea that he would have ended up fighting with Michelle von Horrowitz of all people though. She wasn’t the opponent he expected however he should have seen it coming knowing Danny was involved in setting this up. He had a soft spot for her. He wasn’t sure exactly what was going on with her but it was none of his business. Initially, the way Danny had spoken through messages and calls … Rondo thought Devin Golden himself was showing up to Japan.

    Perhaps it was hopeful of him. Perhaps it just made sense. A bit of an unjust expectation, however.

    A small sigh from him as he turns his attention to a small satchel next to the sleeping von Horrowitz. He examined the contents - a packet of camel blues and a functioning lighter, as well as a cassette recorder. He laughed as it reminded him that Michelle had no idea that he had been Donny Toner all along. He had to keep up appearances though. That’s why he decided to record a small message for Michelle when she wakes up.

    He took another moment to ponder though as he looked out onto the ice. He thought back to the conversation he had with the man that brought him here in the first place, S. His words from the day he left Tsushima ring through his mind somewhat. He knew the quandary Rondo had put himself in. He had spoken to him about the FWA and how he had a personal mission.

    “... well, you're a storm chaser and it seems like you might still have some sort of storm to chase. Only you can know what that is. Figure it out and do it and then you'll know true satisfaction ...”

    The fight with Michelle had stirred something in him unlike before. If it was Devin Golden who had fought him… would he have saved his life? Of course, he would have. His whole thing wasn’t about hating Devin Golden ... No. It was about respect and an understanding. Revenge didn’t need to be a factor for obtaining that.

    He had dreamt, in Tsushima, for days about this moment - where Devin Golden would appear and they’d fight on the lake in some ‘perfect’ final showdown. He’d tell him everything and then whatever happened, happened. He could shout every expletive under the sun as he pummeled him into the ice.

    The more he pondered on it, the more he realised that it wasn’t about the fight at all. What comfort would that have brought? No, he didn’t need that to happen. He didn’t need to hurt Devin Golden. He didn’t need to take anything from him. He just had to let him know, not the world, that he isn’t the person that Ryan Rondo thought he was. Of course, he was enough of a man that he would admit to Golden, when he needed to, that this did start off as a revenge mission. But now? That just isn’t the answer.

    He should’ve realised all along that any sort of quest to enact revenge on Devin Golden was pointless. It just took a fight with Michelle von Horrowitz to perhaps fully realise that. He’d always thought that any path to ‘rectifying’ everything would have to go through Golden. His entire time on his island, he felt like everything had pointed in that direction.

    It was his only motivation - his only fuel - to be able to take away from his ‘friend’ as he has done to him.

    But it wasn’t Devin Golden who just made him fight for his life. It was Michelle von Horrowitz. It’s not Devin Golden’s matches he’s been watching with anticipation. It’s been Danny Toner’s.

    There was more to everything going on. It’s like he had said to Danny before. He could be wrong. He WAS wrong. He knew, deep down, that he was right to feel wronged by Devin Golden. He also knew that Devin Golden would understand why and wouldn’t hold it against him. It was disappointing from a personal perspective but pondering upon disappointment isn’t going to bring anything positive. He had to just accept that it was there and would always be there.

    The story of Sunrise-Sunset isn’t something that many people remember as keenly as him. Of course, he was a part of it, but it was a tag team born out of a philosophy he held true to. Devin Golden was the hardened veteran on his way out and Ryan Rondo was the star on the rise. Ever since the tag team’s formation and demise, Rondo felt he had to now live up to his part (Sunrise). He felt he had done that - even retiring Devin Golden in the process. Something magnificently poetic about it all. The student becomes the master and so on. To Rondo, it had validated everything Sunrise-Sunset meant and only strengthened just how special the tag team was. It was something to look back and be proud of - from his own point of view. A perfect story.

    That felt hollow now and that was something he had to let Devin Golden know. But he also knew that he wasn’t proud of how he approached ‘the end’ of Devin’s career. He was callous. He was angry. He didn’t give him enough respect. He could understand why Devin Golden came back from that. He never gave him the send-off he deserved. He kept his anger all the way to the end for his then-rival. That had been wrong of him. It probably hurt to expect reconciliation and be given both barrels instead. Hell, if Devin Golden came out of retirement to deliberately get at him, he would understand why. That was just the stoner paranoia speaking though.

    The soft breeze across the frozen lake began to pick up - the flames of the dying fire beginning to flicker out. Von Horrowitz still did not stir as he tried to shield the fire and continue to relight it. Eventually becoming successful, he put his hands out to warm them once more. The glacial snowflakes on his skin began to melt away.

    Devin Golden was a part of the problem but that didn’t mean he had to be a part of the solution. He remembered Danny speaking about an ‘eye for an eye’. This wasn’t it. He doesn’t need to take anything from Devin. He just needs to focus on himself and add to his own legacy. A changed outlook on the past doesn’t mean that the future can’t be bright and hold something new. That was it.

    This journey shouldn’t have been about revenge or a pinnacle involving Devin Golden and Randy Ramon. This should be about THEM: Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo. Two guys who were out of the game coming back and showing the world how it is DONE in the world of tag team wrestling. It’s about being the fucking best! We win the tag championships and put them on a level like never before ... Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo’s tag matches should be the main events! That’s what we need to do! Prove to the world that we can still light it on fire when we want to.

    Devin Golden and Randy Ramon are people we need to go through for that. I can’t run away from that, and neither can Toner but we can’t let our personal issues get in the way of things. They’re not an ending for us, they’re just going to be a beginning. It’s not about taking from Devin and Randy, it’s about adding to our legacy.

    On the plus side, they had been preparing for the eventual showdown with Ramon and Golden out of principle already. A realignment and change in view doesn’t mean that these last few months of preparation go to waste. Mental warfare was still a viable tactic when the time came to it.

    There wouldn’t be any harm in letting them think it was all about them.

    The wry smile etching across his face as he stares almost fervently into the fire is disturbed by the sudden movements next to him. It seems that von Horrowitz is starting to stir. Rondo smirks as he grabs the satchel and makes sure that everything is packed. He places it under the blankets and disappears.

    He retreats back to a spot atop the hill with a small lookout towards Tsushima Island. He left a message for Michelle that perhaps their paths will soon cross again one day. Perhaps she’s already figured it out but who hasn’t? Hopefully, she found whatever it was she was looking for or figured out whatever it was she needed to.

    Rondo knows he’s figured it out somewhat. He just hopes Danny has too …





    ...



    =+=+=+=+=+=
    MARCH 6TH 2021
    =+=+=+=+=+=









    “MAAAN! YOU FUCKING DID IT!!!”

    The scenes are ones of pure exhilaration in the gorilla position of the AT&T Center. Elation doesn’t begin to describe the look on Danny’s face as “Donny” shouts joyously in his face. He’s not stuck for words though. Not now. Not tonight.

    “Nawh man! We did it!”

    The mask is suddenly ripped off and a fired-up Rondo is chomping at the bit, his hair strewn widely across his head.

    “You’re damn right we did it. You know why? Because we’re the best. We stopped making this about Golden Rock and started making this about us. Golden Rock stopped mattering. The only thing that’s meant a damn thing to us this year has been proving we’re the best. We don’t need to play games anymore Danny, let’s march right out there and show everyone what’s what!”

    Danny grabs Rondo with his one free hand by the back of the neck and lifts the newly one FWA World Tag Team Championship up to his eye-level.

    “Will you stop a minute? Just take a second and look. Look at that thing. We own these. We deserve these. You’re right; playtime’s over. But tonight? Tonight we celebrate. We celebrate our validation. We celebrate being true to ourselves and being the two realest motherfuckers on the whole roster. Walk with me.”

    Danny loosens his grip on Rondo and juts his head behind him. Rondo turns around and follows Danny to an exit door which, upon approaching, he suddenly barges through and begins whooping holding his championship in the air!

    “Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo - your NEW World Tag Team Champions!!!”

    Rondo follows in close pursuit, his laughter quickly turning to an approving nod as a black limousine pulls up on the pavement. Danny turns around and gives a wink.

    “Let’s just say I’d a feelin’ we’d be needin’ this.”

    “Beats that damn DeLorean!”

    Danny looks mildly offended.

    “But Ryan … I do believe that’s our good friends Devin and Randy’s DeLorean? Didn’t they have it first? I mean … we did kinda steal it.”

    Ryan doesn’t miss a beat and raises his championship in the air.

    “We stole these motherfuckers too and guess what? I ain’t giving these back either!”

    Danny throws his head back roaring with laughter.

    “Woooooo! WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS BABY!”

    Rondo, still chuckling swings open the door and holds it ajar for Danny.

    “Get in you big tit, this is only the start of it.”

    “Start, middle, end - it doesn’t matter man, it doesn’t matter.”


    Danny ducks under Rondo’s arm and dives onto the luxurious, cream, leather seats. Rondo plops himself down opposite him and slams shut the door of the car. Danny has already popped a bottle of something and is shouting instructions to the limo driver.

    Yo pal, bring us to the dirtiest, rowdiest fuckin’ bar you can think of! Oh, and stop at goodblend on the way. There’s a couple of dimes in it for ya!”

    “The fuck is a goodblend?”

    “Weed dispensary.”

    “And what the fuck did you mean by ‘it doesn’t matter’ - what doesn’t matter?”

    Danny sighs dramatically and raises a champagne flute.

    “A drink, good sir?”

    “I don’t want any of your shitty-ass champ-”

    Rondo momentarily trails off as he sees the dark green bottle in Danny’s hand.

    “Is that …”

    “From the Benedictine Monks themselves.”

    Rondo grabs the bottle and slugs from the neck of it. He glugs a quarter of the bottle before handing it over to Danny. He sighs satisfactorily.

    “Man, you come good with the Bucky and all … you really knew we were going to win tonight, didn’t you?”

    “I did.”

    “How?”


    “Because we’re the best. I mean that. It’s easy to say now man but we knew something was wrong. The losses. Being overlooked. Being upstaged. It wasn’t until you decided to go to Japan that I realised I was that good. I could stand on my own two feet. I won the Gauntlet Championship. I won in The Warehouse. And you? Well, you damn near killed Michelle von Horrowitz. You were right, we needed the time apart to figure out that we were doing this for the wrong reasons. We realised that by our goal being to beat Golden Rock, to extract vengeance on Randy, to take revenge on Devin … by that being the be all and end all … we were always putting them above us. But they ain’t above us. Nobody is above us. When we stopped focusing on Golden Rock and started focusing on us ...”

    Rondo is nodding his head at this point, grinning wildly.

    “We won the tag team titles. So you get it now? You realise that the only person stopping Danny Toner is Danny Toner. Last year? You weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready. Now we are and we fucking sprung it on ‘em tonight man! They can say what they want. You can even lose. But who have they been talking about all year? Who does everyone want to see?”

    “Aight - but it’s like you in Tsushima, right? Everybody is clamouring for Michelle von Horrowitz but she choses to climb a fuckin’ mountain just to get to chance to fight you! This is what I’m sayin’ man - you’ve been given’ it all this tryin’ to pump me up.”

    Danny motions mouthing off with his free hand.

    “I’m pumped up! It’s done! I know who I am, I know what I can do! Out there tonight? Desert Storm? I looked across the ring and brother I knew we were gonna win. Mask and all, I could still see The Last Star in the Sky, the most successful wrestler in FWA history. Oh, I could feel it right then man, we weren’t just gonna win … me and you, brother? We’re gonna create history. We’re gonna take the FWA World Tag Team Championship to another level.”

    “Brother, we’re going to take tag team wrestling as a whole to another level. You know, maybe it’s this beautiful potion that I’m drinking that is speaking but eh, what would you say if I said we could main event Back in Business?”

    Danny doesn’t laugh. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t even ponder an alternative response. He’s not even sure how to take Rondo’s question - serious or not?

    “How? It’s impossible. It’s reserved for the World Championship match.”

    Rondo leans back in the seat and takes another slug of the bottle.

    “Well let’s just say I’m very good friends with Shake Meltzer and he said that they’re going to announce two nights of Back in Business.”

    Danny leans forward and says without much consideration.

    “We should be the other main.”

    “Of course, we should. But … eh … some won’t see it that way. But if we can kick this Golden Rock shit up a notch or two … we’re pencilled in.”

    Danny scratches his head. He wished he had a joint. The prospect of main eventing Back in Business as the World Tag Team Champions was an alluring one. Golden Rock, the perfect dance partners. Danny fully intended on making good on his promise that himself and Rondo were going to change the face of tag team wrestling. They’d yet to speak on it but he could feel the unspoken agreement, the electricity flowing between the two in the limo, they’d be taking on all challengers. They were going to enter next years Back in Business as the champions but first? He knew they’d have to fully put the Golden Rock question to bed and he knew that they needed to do it on the biggest stage possible.

    “Aight … so how we turn this bitch up a gear?”

    “I just need to keep this on a little longer.”

    Rondo smiles as he pulls the infamous “Donny Toner” mask back over his head …





    ...

    ...

    =+=+=+=+=+=
    MAY 14TH 2021
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    The mask is pulled on and Rondo feels a strange sense of achievement rush through him. He glanced at his partner Toner with a sense of renewed pride. He didn’t think he’d ever feel like this in relation to professional wrestling yet here he was, gushing with pride and brimming with a belief that he and Danny were the best in the world. Danny had to go and break the moment of perfect reflection with that fat mouth of his.

    “For the last time, eh?”

    “The fuck you on about now?”

    “The mask, dummy!”

    “Oh shit, yeah!”

    Rondo smirks under the mask.

    “Well, I did hear that the female demographic was lacking some, I’m sure the suits will be happy to see my handsome mug back on the screen.”

    “I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. I’m known as The Handsome Man in some circles ya know!”

    A laugh is shared among the two and Danny raises the question.

    “So you’re ready? Tonight’s the night? Sin City reveal? You sure?”

    Rondo takes a second to muse. They said they were gonna spring the upset on Golden Rock at Desert Storm. Nobody saw it coming. They predicted Golden Rock to not expect such a gut punch at Desert Storm. Pity. Danny and Ryan had stopped worrying about being punched by anybody. With anything. You can say what you like and it literally just flies over their heads, call it pure arrogance if you want but they know they’re so damn good that even if you do catch them with a lucky punch, they’ll be straight back up. The punches can be stinging, heavy-handed, low-blows - that’s not a worry. They’ll roll through them all without blinking. Everyone else? They let the words get to them. They care about perception. About being liked. About whether they’ve “crossed a line”. Toner and Rondo obliterated the god-damn line so everybody had best pull up to speed, or get left in the dust. Because Danny and Rondo? They weren’t slowing down. Not tonight. Not at Back in Business. Not at anything the future might hold.

    “You know I’m sure. But you know what else? I’ve never been more sure that we’ve got Golden Rock screwed every each way to Christmas.”

    “Oh yeah?”

    “I mean, look we told them that Devin wasn’t gonna have an answer for you just cutting through the crap and punching him in the face. He didn’t like what you said - you got in his head. You won. We told them that they weren’t going to be ready for what we sprung on them - again, they didn’t like what we had to say and it got to them, we won. Now, I said if I wore the mask a little longer, we could really get them to snap.”

    “And boy did they ever.”

    Ryan nods his head and, in the distance, you can hear the faint pinging of slot machines.

    “At NOLA, Devin pressed his looney button with his little glass stunt because he couldn’t take the heat anymore. Everything was getting to him. People were saying he wasn’t what he was. People were saying what we were saying. Then at Steel City, your buddy Ramon let those paranoid demons he has swilling around him there dictate his response. He reacted. Badly. They’re running around giving the CWA World Tag Team Champions air-time and we’re out here putting fools to sleep. They’ve shown their cards, D.”

    Danny smiles knowingly.

    “They ain’t in this for the right reasons. They’re fightin’ with their emotions. They didn’t filter it out.”

    “They can’t filter it out. That’s us. That’s for the best.”

    “The dons of tag team wrestlin’.”

    “Their heads are gone. They’re not focused. They aren’t where they need to be at. It’s an unfortunate thing … a Back in Business main event where everyone’s gonna know who the winner will be.”


    “I got the feelin’ we’re gonna have that problem for a long time, G.”

    The Sin City crowd singing along to Golden’s theme music “Zombie” can now be heard.

    “True that, D, true that. See that’s just the thing isn’t it? We’re gonna change the game but we won’t let the game change us. That’s the difference between kings and pretenders-”

    “You mean KILLERS and pretenders man!”

    Danny begins shooting imaginary guns and pulling trigger fingers as Rondo laughs and pushes him towards the door.

    “You are fried man, we gotta go …”







    ...

    =+=+=+=+=+=
    JUNE 10TH 2021
    =+=+=+=+=+=

    Danny is all gun hands and trigger fingers, screaming blue bloody murder as a furious Ryan Rondo pushes him towards the exit.

    “C’mon man, we gotta go!”

    There is still a constant hum of noise; officials shouting to try and restore order and women continuing to scream about the carnage. Danny is livid as Rondo wrestles him away from the press conference and their Back in Business opponents, Golden Rock. They’d already taken a few slaps and the last thing they needed was Danny causing a scene. Rondo pins Danny against the wall in the hallway and restrains him there until the redness in his face eventually ebbs and he ceases shouting obscenities. When he does bring his antics to a halt, Rondo lets him go.

    “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

    Danny looks appalled. He looks like a man that has just arrived home from a long hard day of work, opened the fridge, popped a bottle and realised it was 0%.

    “What do I think I’m doing? You’re just after pulling me away from Devin and Randy?”

    “So?”

    “So!? They slapped the fucking shit out of us in there!”

    “And?”

    “ARE YOU FREAKIN’ CRAZY!?

    “Are you?!”


    Danny looks a little taken back.

    “I don’t get it-”

    “Yes, you do! Shut up! Fucking hell, shut up!"

    “Man, who the fu-”

    “LISTEN!”

    The tone in Rondo’s voice brings Danny to a halt. Rondo eases up a bit but still speaks firmly.

    “Why couldn’t you just have left it? Why did you try to charge the stage after the fight?”

    “Didn’t you see their faces? Devin and Randy? Up there on the stage, looking down on us. You didn’t see Devin smash that mug over my head? I could’ve sworn he fuckin’ smirked right before he did it G, honest, the fucker smirked!”

    “I don’t fucking believe this! Are you serious? Why do you give a shit?”

    “They were laughin’ at us man. They think they’ve Back in Business sewn up. I know they do. They’ve been plannin’ gettin’ us ever since Desert Storm.”

    “They only get us if you let them. I mean haven’t you learned anything over the last year? Everything we’ve gone through? Our journey? Why we’re the best? I mean ...”


    Rondo trails off as his eyes are drawn to a busted-up computer chair lying idly in the hall-way. It must’ve been discarded there - it was missing a couple of wheels.

    “You mean what, Ryan?”

    “Come with me.”

    “Where we-”

    “Carpark.”

    “We didn’t drive here, dawg, the fuck you been smokin’?”


    Rondo wordlessly leads the way to the carpark with Danny having to jog to keep up. He’s firing off a series of questions, but Rondo blanks him. They round the corner that opens up into the carpark and they instantly freeze. They speak at the same time.

    “What the fuck?”

    “I knew it.”

    Parked up there, in all her glory, fully repaired from Thomas Princeton’s tinkering is The Toner Brothers - well, I guess now it’s Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo’s - DeLorean. The two approach the car, Danny hopping in the passenger and Rondo getting into the driver’s side. The keys are in the ignition and Rondo turns them over. Slowly he pulls out and in silence, the two ride through nameless streets, past unknown buildings and blurred faces. They seem to be covering more than mere distance as they trundle onwards in silence. Eventually the outside world suddenly comes back in sharp focus. A lit-up nightclub takes center stage in the middle of the street and alongside it, a small unnamed garage seems to be in operation. Rondo drives past the nightclub and swings a left into the garage. As he approaches, the shutter begins to rise, and Rondo pulls the car into the garage and parks it up as the shutter lowers behind him. Rondo turns and looks at Danny, addressing him for the first time since the aftermath of the press conference.

    “What are you worried about?”

    No hesitation.

    “Everything. Absolutely everything man. What if we’re wrong? What if we’re not the best? What if Randy and Devin are just better than us?”

    “Then they just are.”

    Danny looks at Rondo, as if for affirmation.

    “But you don’t think so?”

    “I don’t think about it at all. I don’t think about Randy and Devin like that anymore. I did. I’d be a liar if I said otherwise. But that was personal stuff. My own things I had to deal with. This is wrestling. And now? All I care about is the FWA World Tag Team Championships.”

    Ryan gets out of the car with Danny looking confused as he slowly gets out himself.

    “Yo, don’t worry about it.”

    “But I am worried.”


    We can hear a bit of low shouting coming from the other side of the shutter door. Not the one they came in, the one opposite. Rondo smiles as he presses a button, and the shutter slowly starts raising.

    “Yeah, this version of you is worried. This version of you that was stuck in the past. But him?”

    Ryan nods his head at the shutter which is inching upwards. Danny looks absolutely dumbfounded at this stage.

    “He’s got this on lock.”

    Rondo smiles that knowing smile and makes his way towards the front door, adjacent to the shutter they came in. Danny follows but speaks as he follows.

    “But what about Devin? Randy? Golden Rock? The FWA?!”

    Rondo ushers Danny through the door and utters a simple message.

    “We’ve got this.”

    Ryan slams the door shut behind him …









    And the shutter finally raises to show … Danny Toner and Ryan Rondo in what looks suspiciously like a fight in an alleyway. Toner is clutching his nose and Rondo has his fist curled up in a ball.

    “What the fuckin’ hell is wrong with you man!?”

    Rondo ignores the outburst and scoops down and picks up the joint that Danny dropped. He had the lighter anyway, he may as well. Rondo shrugs his shoulders.

    “What? You were acting like a bitch, so I punched you like a bitch.”

    Danny’s eyes go wide as gingerly touches the money-maker to ensure there’s no lasting damage.

    “How the hell was I acting like a bitch?”

    “You were all oh boohoo I’m afraid of Devin and Randy again, oh noooo Ryan please don’t make me go back to the alley of doom!”

    “Are you fuckin’ with me right now?”


    Rondo continues in the annoying, singsong mimicry.

    “But overmaster Rondo, please! I don’t want to tell everybody about how I was obsessed with Golden and Ramon and cried and quit when I lost to Black Caramel and when I lost my belt!”

    “Maaaan - you’re really fuckin’ something, you know that? That’s low shit.”

    Danny spits on the ground.

    “You think I give a fuck about Black Caramel beating me back then? When I was like that? When all I could think about was fuckin’ …”

    Danny juts the air with an imaginary knife.

    “Fuckin’ doing Randy Ramon!? When you were my partner? You fat sack of shit!”

    Rondo’s eyes widen this time.

    “Yeah, yeah - we said you’d wear a mask not a tee-shirt! You needed to get your finger out your ass boy!”

    “Well ain’t you happy I did?”

    “Haw - I reckon I’d have done it by myself you know, G?”

    “Oh yeah, even Golden Rock?”

    Danny tsks.

    “Even Golden Rock? Man, don’t get it twisted - Randy and Devin might have got a few licks in tonight. Randy might have beaten me a hundred times over before but me and you? We’re fuckin’ untouchable, Don. We’ve had that potential since last June, man. You picked me up off the ground in this very fuckin’ spot because you believed in me. It took a little while for me to have the same belief. Come the New Year? We already knew where we were headed and now that we’re here we’re not being touched. This fuckin’ shit is on lock, G. Trust me. You always ask me to trust you and know I’m askin’ you to trust me. We don’t need no bells and whistles, man, we’re the best god-damn tag team in history.

    I ain’t sleepin’ on anyone.

    I said - in history.”


    Danny takes the joint off Rondo and takes a big puff.

    “So yeah man, even Golden Rock. I don’t mean to rob them of their spotlight so close to the ball but they’re just a name to me man. Just another skin. You ask if I’m sweatin’ Golden Rock? I ain’t sweatin’ fuckin’ nobody man. I ain’t sweat nobody in a long time. It doesn’t matter who it is or who it will be. We’ll push you around, we’ll control the narrative, we’ll ruin your plans, halt your momentum, send you spiralling and make you change gimmicks and the most annoying thing of all? You’ll actually think you have a say in it. And then? All we say is - we’re gonna straight up kill you.

    Then do it.

    Randy, Devin, Ricky, Darren, Ronny, Damon.

    It don’t fuckin’ matter.

    We’re the only ones that matter.


    There's a pause, perhaps deliberate.

    “That’s all I wanted to hear, D. That’s all I wanted to hear. Man … to think we went from make-believe brothers to the best tag team of all time.”

    Danny turns and looks at Rondo, dead set in the eye, unflinching, every word heavily weighted.

    “You are my brother. You think I’d still be standing here if I thought you were just trying to prove a point or say something to Devin Golden? This shit’s real. This is genuine. We’re legit, bro.”

    Danny finally turns and his face immediately lights up as he sees that the DeLorean is sitting there waiting, brand-spanking new and looking as enticing as ever.

    “I know you said you’d somethin’ special planned for making our way to Paris but man … you’ve outdone yourself this time.”

    A giddy Danny Toner makes his way to the passenger side but suddenly Rondo calls out.

    “Danny …”

    He tosses him the keys.

    “You drive.”

    With a worrying lack of concern for the contents of the joint he excitedly flicks onto the ground, Danny rounds the car whooping and jumps in behind the wheel as Ryan slides in beside him. Danny starts the engine and as he rolls the car out into the alleyway, he swings a sharp left. Birds are beginning to chirp and at the end of the alleyway, impossibly but somehow, lies a wooden bridge. On the horizon, the sun slowly begins to creep out and rise above the bridge. As they prepare to exit the alleyway, they look in the rear-view mirror taking in one last view of what they’ve left behind before Danny and Ryan share a glance and Danny puts the foot down, racing past the tattered, destroyed computer chair and shooting off towards the bridge and the rising sun.



    3X World Tag Team Champion (w/Christian Quinn, w/Randy Ramon & w/Ryan Rondo)
    1X Gauntlet Champion



    JOIN THE FWA!

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    Sulley's Avatar

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    ! Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread



    Of all the places to be ahead of Back in Business, nobody would have expected to see Kleio De Santos where she is at today. Instead of the gym, or running a mile in the park, or watching film of Lizzie Rose, Kleio is somewhere very special. Today, Kleio is at the local Children's Library in her hometown of Miami, Florida. For you see, unbeknownst to everyone, Kleio has is more than just a professional wrestler...she's also a published author of a children's book!

    And today, he is going to be reading and signing her book for all of the children at the Miami-Dade Public Library.

    Inside the children's section of the library sit all the patient little children in a circle. Kleio stands out like a soar thumb in her leather jacket, ripped jeans, and black Chuck Taylor all stars. But never the less she has a smile on her face. The young 18 year old can look back to the days when she was sitting there in circle time and reading a book. Never did she think she'd be where she is today.

    She shouldn't be where she is. There were times where she thought of giving up.

    But here she is.


    Kleio De Santos: Hi kids! I am so happy to see all of you today.

    Kleio looks onto the group of kids who look to be between the ages of four and six.

    Kleio De Santos: Today is very special for me, because I'm going to be reading my very first book. And this book I'm reading is very special, because when I wrote it...I was thinking of a very special someone!

    Little Girl: Who were you thinking of Miss?

    Kleio De Santos: I'll tell you guys that soon! But this story is about two puppy dogs. Do you guys like puppies?

    All The Kids: YES!

    Kleio De Santos: Perfect! These are two very different puppies who both started out the same, but ended up in very different places. I'm not going to tell you guys anything else, so make sure you all put your listening ears on! Go ahead...put them on!

    All the kids can be seen pretending to put imaginary listening ears on their ears as they lean in closely for Kleio to begin telling her story.


    Once upon a time there we two little puppy dogs. They were born in a litter of seven to the prettiest golden retriever you could ever imagine named Gabby. Gabby The Retriever was a proud momma dog, and she loved all seven of her puppies. She loved Puppy Nicole, and Puppy Joe, and Puppy Johnathan. She loved Puppy Noah, Puppy Daphne, and Puppy Kleio too. But Momma Gabby loved one puppy more than all her other puppies, and that was Puppy Lizzie. For Puppy Lizzie was a very different puppy for the rest of them. While most of the puppies could fend for themselves, Puppy Lizzie could not. Puppy Lizzie needed Momma Gabby to show her the way.

    So when Momma Gabby's other puppies grew, they would go on their own into the world.

    But not Puppy Lizzie.

    Puppy Lizzie would continue to stick by her Momma's side.

    But why would Puppy Lizzie do this? Why would Puppy Lizzie not go out into the world and grow like all the other Puppies that Momma Gabby had?

    Well the real reason was...Puppy Lizzie was scared.


    Little Girl: But Miss...why was Puppy Lizzie scared?

    Kleio De Santos: That's a great question! Did everyone hear what she asked? She asked..."Why is Puppy Lizzie scared?". Does anyone think they know the answer?

    Boy 1: Umm...maybe it's because...she's afraid of the dark?

    Kleio De Santos: Hmm. That's might be true! Does anyone else think they know why Puppy Lizzie was scared to leave Momma Gabby?

    Girl 2: Puppy Lizzie might not know how to do things without Momma Gabby....

    Kleio De Santos: That might be true too! In fact, I can tell you that's true! Puppy Lizzie definitely doesn't know what do without Momma Gabby. But what would happen if Puppy Lizzie lost Momma Gabby?

    Let's keep reading so we can find out!


    Puppy Lizzie was too scared to do anything.

    Puppy Lizzie could not eat without Momma Gabby.

    Puppy Lizzie could not sleep without Momma Gabby.

    Puppy Lizzie could not even go potty without Momma Gabby!

    But Momma Gabby still loved Puppy Lizzie. In fact, Momma Gabby still loved Puppy Lizzie more than any of her other six puppies. But one day...something bad happened! The Dog Catcher came, and he chased after all of Momma Gabby's puppies.

    Puppy Nicole got caught.

    Puppy Daphne got caught.

    Puppy Noah got caught.

    Puppy Joe got caught.

    Puppy Johnathan got caught.

    It came down to Puppy Kleio and Puppy Lizzie who were both running from The Dog Catcher. Puppy Kleio was much faster than Puppy Lizzie, and she out ran Puppy Lizzie every step of the way. She was almost in the clear!

    But Momma Gabby would not let Puppy Lizzie fail...so Momma Gabby let The Dog Catcher take Puppy Kleio, so she could take Puppy Lizzie instead.



    The kids all gasped.

    Girl 2: Why would Momma Gabby just let The Dog Catcher take all her puppies?

    Kleio De Santos: Because she only cared about Puppy Lizzie!

    Boy 2: But...Puppy Lizzie was the weakest one!

    Kleio De Santos: I know right! Puppy Lizzie was a little mut who deserved to get caught by The Dog Catcher first. But never the less Momma Gabby saved her, and threw Puppy Kleio right under the bus.

    Little Girl: SHE THREW THE PUPPY UNDER A BUS???

    Kleio De Santos: Oh no no! Figure of speech! It was a figure of speech...


    The children all sigh in relief.

    Boy 1: But what happened to Puppy Kleio then?

    Kleio De Santos: Let's find out shall we?


    Puppy Kleio was again left on her own.

    Unlike Puppy Lizzie who had Momma Gabby taking care of her, Puppy Kleio had nobody. But Puppy Kleio was used to being on her own. Puppy Kleio was used to fending for herself. And that's just what she did when she escaped from The Dog Catcher!

    But Puppy Kleio didn't escape on her own.

    No, she had help from a Saint Bernard named Sulley! Sulley the Bernard took care of Kleio, and got her as far away from The Dog Catcher as he could!

    Unlike the cold Momma Gabby, Sulley The Bernard cared for Kleio. He was to Kleio what Momma Gabby was to Puppy Lizzie. He taught her how to hunt, he took care of her, and most of all, he loved her.

    For the first time, Puppy Kleio found what she was missing all of those years! And with Sulley The Bernard, Puppy Kleio was able to grow into a big strong puppy. A puppy with a loud bark.

    Yet Puppy Lizzie had no strong bark. Because Momma Gabby did not want to teach her how to bark. Momma Gabby would prefer to keep Puppy Lizzie as her little Puppy for as long as she could.

    And Puppy Lizzie would stay Momma Gabby's little puppy for as long as she could.



    Girl 2: Wait...why did you stop? I want to know what happens to the puppies!

    Boy 2: TELL US ABOUT THE PUPPIES!

    All The Kids (Chanting): PUPPIES! PUPPIES! PUPPIES!

    Kleio De Santos: Okay okay, calm down! I will get there. But first I wanted to ask you guys another question. Do you guys think Momma Gabby has helped Puppy Lizzie?

    Boy 1: NO!

    Kleio De Santos: Why not?

    Little Girl: Because she's not teaching her anything! She just wants her to be a little puppy...fetching her bones and stuff.

    Kleio De Santos: Right! But what has Puppy Kleio been doing all this time?

    Girl 2: Hunting!

    Boy 2: Getting stronger!

    Kleio De Santos: Yes and yes! Let's keep reading....


    So for awhile, everything was okay with the two puppies. Puppy Kleio and Sulley The Bernard were living happily ever after, and Puppy Lizzie was doing just fine being Momma Gabby's little puppy.

    Except one day things took a turn.

    Sulley The Bernard and Momma Gabby got into a fight. But Puppy Kleio stood up for her St. Bernard companion. She tried to bark at Momma Gabby, but then something big happened...

    Puppy Lizzie found her bark! And she barked right back at Puppy Kleio!

    Suddenly, Puppy Kleio and Puppy Lizzie were barking at each other.

    WOOF!

    WOOF!

    WOOF!

    Went Puppy Lizzie!

    BARK!

    BARK!

    BARK!

    Went Puppy Kleio!

    GROWL!

    GROWL!

    GROWL!

    Went both puppies.

    The two little puppies continued to growl at each other, and things got ugly. Soon enough, the two little puppies decided that they were going to settle things once and for all...in a big BARK OFF.



    Little Girl: They're going to have a bark off! What does that mean?

    Boy 1: It means they're going to fight!

    Girl 2: No it doesn't...does it?

    Kleio smirks.

    Kleio De Santos: Well...pretty much...yeah.

    Boy 2: I hope Puppy Kleio wins!


    Puppy Kleio was really excited to finally get a chance at revenge towards Puppy Lizzie all this time. Was Puppy Lizzie scared of Puppy Kleio? Maybe. She should have been! Puppy Kleio used to win bark offs all the time back when they were in the litter with Momma Gabby! It's why Momma Gabby hates Puppy Kleio. But Puppy Kleio didn't need Momma Gabby then, and she didn't need Momma Gabby now. Besides, she had her St. Bernard friend.

    Puppy Lizzie on the other hand? She'd be lost without Momma Gabby.

    One day, just when Puppy Kleio was just about ready to naw at Puppy Lizzie, but two of them found themselves in a sticky situation! They were out for a stroll together, and got stuck in an alley way cornered by two Crimson Wolves. The Crimson Wolves trapped both puppies. Puppy Lizzie looked a little scared, but Puppy Kleio.

    It was here that the two puppies finally learned to work together. As a team, they took down the big mean scary wolves! They were two STRONG puppies.

    Puppy Kleio was so proud of herself.

    And Puppy Kleio was proud of her sister Puppy Lizzie too!

    Puppy Kleio, for the first time, wasn't angry anymore.

    She didn't want to fight Puppy Lizzie.

    But Puppy Lizzie was different after the fight.

    Puppy Lizzie was mean.

    Puppy Lizzie still wanted to fight.

    And Puppy Kleio isn't one to back down.




    Girl 2: But wait...why did Puppy Lizzie still want to fight?

    Kleio De Santos: Because Puppy Lizzie thinks she has something to prove.

    Boy 1: Does Puppy Kleio think she has something to prove too?

    Kleio De Santos: Maybe. They're both puppies after all! And all the other big dogs are going to be watching them fight. The winner of the bark off is going to get a lot of respect afterwards, and the loser? Well the loser is going to get absolutely nothing. The loser is going to go down in history as the loser. The loser is going to be the one who was wrong about everything.

    Little Girl: I hope Puppy Kleio doesn't lose...

    Kleio De Santos: Why do you say that?


    Little Girl: Because...if she's as strong as you say she is...I don't think she could handle it.

    Kleio is taken aback for a moment.

    She doesn't quite know what to say.


    Little Girl: It sounds like Puppy Lizzie is used to losing. If she loses to Puppy Kleio at The Bark Off...well that's what everyone expects. But what if Puppy Kleio loses?

    Kleio De Santos: Then Puppy Kleio would be broken...



    Puppy Kleio was ready to win. And she was confident that she would...she had St. Bernard Sulley after all.

    Or so she thought.

    Until one day, Sulley The Bernard told Puppy Kleio one thing she was not expecting...that she would be on her own again. It was tough love after all.

    Puppy Kleio was scared for a moment.

    Because for a moment she got used to having someone caring about her.

    For a moment she got used to being taught how to hunt.

    For a moment she got to enjoy the same things Puppy Lizzie got to enjoy her entire life.

    For a moment she got to be equal with Puppy Lizzie when it came to love.

    But unlike Puppy Lizzie, Puppy Kleio knew what it was like to not be loved. And so when Sulley The Bernard told her that she was on her own, Puppy Kleio would not fall.

    Puppy Kleio would instead land on her feet like she's done many many many times before. And land on her feet she did.

    Because Puppy Kleio still knew how to hunt on her own.

    She knew how to train on her own.

    And she knew how to win a bark off on her own.

    The love she got from Sulley The Bernard was tough love. It always was.

    The love that Momma Gabby gave to Puppy Lizzie however was not tough love at all. Because unlike Sulley The Bernard, Momma Gabby never planned on letting Puppy Lizzie grow up.

    And Puppy Lizzie never needed to plan on leaving Momma Gabby's side.

    But little did Puppy Lizzie know...Momma Gabby would soon be taken away from her, and it wasn't Momma Gabby's choice! As in an unpredictable turn of events, Momma Gabby and Puppy Lizzie were suddenly separated.

    Just like how Puppy Kleio had someone caring about her for the first time when she met Sulley The Bernard, Puppy Lizzie was on her own for the first time.

    And now? Both puppies are on their own. But there was a big difference between the two puppies. Puppy Kleio was being trained to be on her own the entire time. Sulley The Bernard did not want Puppy Kleio to have to rely on him to win a bark off. She was prepared to be alone, just like she was her entire life.

    But Puppy Lizzie was a different story. Because Puppy Lizzie was not used to being alone. Puppy Lizzie was for the first time without her Momma, who is now in Fallout City. Puppy Lizzie on the other paw is in Meltdown Metro...and she is all alone. Unlike Sulley The Bernard, Mamma Gabby did not teach Puppy Lizzie how to train. She did not teach Puppy Lizzie how to hunt. Instead, she taught her how to fetch.

    Puppy Lizzie was great at fetching.

    She could fetch Momma Gabby a newspaper.

    She could fetch Momma Gabby a chew toy.

    She could even fetch Momma Gabby a cup of coffee.

    But fetch was all Puppy Lizzie knew how to do. And so for the first time...Puppy Lizzie was a lost puppy.




    Boy 2: Both puppies are lost!

    Kleio De Santos: Yes, but which Puppy do you think is going to have the better chance of making it?

    Girl 2: Puppy Kleio!

    Kleio De Santos: Why?

    Little Girl: Because she's been lost before! Puppy Lizzie has never been lost.

    Kleio De Santos: You're right. Puppy Lizzie has never been lost. All her life Puppy Lizzie has had everything handed to her. Puppy Lizzie would go to her little Puppy Rave parties, and she'd have fun with all her little puppy friends. Puppy Lizzie would get to just live her little perfect Puppy Life without any issues ever. Nothing ever went wrong in the life of Puppy Lizzie, and it was all just so grand and smooth! Puppy Lizzie grew up having all the bones and treats she ever could of wanted. Fresh collars, and water always in her bowl. All the while Puppy Kleio had absolutely nothing. Puppy Kleio had no puppy rave parties, because Puppy Kleio was living on the cold street. Puppy Kleio was sleeping in the rain. Puppy Kleio always had issues. Everything always went wrong for Puppy Kleio.

    While Puppy Lizzie had water in her bowl, Puppy Kleio was eating food of the garbage.


    But every day...every single day Puppy Kleio lived like that, it made her tougher. It made her stronger...and Puppy Lizzie? She doesn't have that strength. She doesn't have that experience. And without Momma Gabby...she is lost and on her own for the first time.

    Boy 1: How does the story end? Does Puppy Kleio win?

    Kleio De Santos: We're almost getting there...


    Suddenly there were now two lost puppies. One puppy who was used to being lost, and another puppy who wasn't. They could have been lost together, but Puppy Lizzie was still too arrogant and selfish to want to do that.

    And Puppy Kleio didn't need it anyway! She has been on her own many times before. While Puppy Lizzie was left whimpering in Meltdown Metro about being separated from her beloved Momma Gabby, Puppy Kleio was getting stronger. She was getting bigger. Her bark was getting louder. Puppy Kleio proved this once and for all when she found Puppy Lizzie in the scary streets of New York, surrounded by another scary wolf. But unlike when the two of them teamed up to take out the Crimson wolves, Puppy Kleio wasn't playing nice anymore. She was now a stray, and she was living in that stray dog life just like she always did. So Puppy Kleio helped the wolf this team, and knocked Puppy Lizzie right off her paws!

    Stray dogs are dangerous dogs...especially the ones who have grown up as strays. But a house dog on her own for the first time? Survival is slim. That is why when the bark off was finally set to go down, every dog in the city knew who had the best chance to win. And every dog in the city knew who was...pardon the pun, the underdog. But underdogs are underdogs for a reason. Both lost little puppies would finally meet in the streets of Paris for their bark off.

    There was some staring, some growling, and finally some barking...but there was definitely a winner....and that winner is....




    Kleio De Santos: And that seems like a good place to stop.

    All The Kids: WHAT!

    Boy 1: No you can't stop there!

    Little Girl: Please tell us! Tell us who wins!

    Kleio De Santos: I can't...because it didn't happen yet.

    Boy 2: What do you mean it didn't happen yet.

    Kleio De Santos: Remember how I told you guys that I wrote this story with someone special in mind? Well that someone special is me.

    Girl 2: Wait...Miss Kleio...YOU'RE PUPPY KLEIO????

    Boy 1: Mind...blown!

    Kleio De Santos: Yes, I'm Puppy Kleio. And coming up, I'm about to have a final showdown with Puppy Lizzie.

    Little Girl: Puppy Lizzie is real too?

    Kleio De Santos: She sure is, and she's just as lost of a puppy as she is in the story.

    Boy 2: I know you're going to win!

    Little Girl: But Miss Kleio...remember I said it seems like Puppy Lizzie was used to losing? Everyone is expecting her to lose. What if she beats you?

    Boy 1: She already said...Puppy Kleio would be broken!

    Girl 2: Is that true Miss? Will you be broken if you lose?

    Little Girl: That's what she said! You HAVE to win Miss Kleio. You have everything to lose! She has nothing to lose!

    Kleio De Santos: Kids, I think you misunderstood me. You're right, I did say Puppy Kleio would be broken. And just like Puppy Kleio, if I lose...then I will be broken again. But you guys are wrong about it meaning I have everything to lose and that Lizzie has nothing. It's actually the opposite. Yes I will be broken again, but I'm used to being broken. In fact, I'm broken right now. You guys may not understand right now, but my entire life...since I was as young as all of you, I have been fighting with my back against the wall. Just like Puppy Kleio I've been tossed around, beat up, and left behind like trash. I've had to survive against mean people, and I've had to learn how to live on my own.

    But most importantly, I had to learn how to get back up when I fall. Lizzie? She may have this cute little underdog gimmick going on, but she's far from it. It's all a fact act, because the truth is she's known how to win since the beginning. She was clearly one of the best competitors with me when we were together on Ground Zero, and in the last couple of months she's proven that she is one of the best competitors now. She's gotten some big wins against big people.

    As much as she wants to play the underdog role, she can't. But the fact of the matter is, she's a lost little puppy.

    And so am I. But I'm used to being a lost little puppy. I'm used to being knocked off my feet.

    She isn't.

    And at Back in Business she's going to get knocked off her feet so hard, that she just isn't going to know how to get back up afterwards.

    Me?

    I know how to get back up, and if I have to I will, but I can tell you right now that I won't even need to. Because I'm the stronger dog, and I always have been. She isn't tough enough yet. Maybe some day she will be, and maybe some day she'll get knocked off he paws enough to figure out how to keep getting back up. But right now? In this moment? She isn't. And it's for that reason why she has everything to lose, and it's for that reason why it's going to be lost.

    The kids all continue to stare absent mindedly at Kleio.

    One is picking his nose.


    Little Girl: Uh...Miss Kleio...none of us have any idea what you just said?

    It's a miracle she's kept their attention as long as she did.

    Kleio closes the book with a chuckle.

    Kleio De Santos: That's fine. Just remember...if you're a lost puppy, like me...it's going to be okay. Because you're going to get stronger, and you're going to get better. And it's not going to matter that you're on your own, because you're going to learn how to survive no matter what.


    And with that, Kleio leaves the room with a smile.

    Maybe those kids didn't understand a thing she was saying.

    Maybe they were just as lost as Lizzie is.

    But it doesn't matter. Because Kleio wasn't just giving them a story with a moral, she was giving it to herself. It was clear that she no longer needs Sulley to get her ready for a match.

    She's ready all on her own.



    "No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them. "
    - William Godwin


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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread








    Every breath you take. Every move you make.
    Every bond you break. Every step you take.
    I'll be watching you.

    Every single day. Every word you say.
    Every game you play. Every night you stay
    I'll be watching you.
    _______________


    Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

    As "Every Breath You Take" by The Police plays on his car's stereo, Trevor nervously rubs the palm of his right hand over his facial stubble as his left hand grips the steering wheel of his 2003 Chevy Malibu. This was one of his many nervous ticks, the feeling of the sharp little blades of hair running accros his skin like sandpaper pacified him just a bit for some reason. Right now, he needed all the help he could get in that regard as his nerves felt like they were on fire and he had a ton of heavy stones in the pit of his stomach. Right now, among the sumptuously lavish sports cars and luxury vehicles we see under the setting sun, Trevor's dilapidated and rusting Chevy sticks out in the parking lot of the high-end Samurai Blue Sushi and Sake Bar parking lot like a mustard stain on an expensive silk shirt. He takes a deep breath, followed by a heavy sigh as Chris Kennedy exits the restaurant, his daughter Carmella and his girlfriend, Bell Connelly, in tow. Trevor studies Kennedy, his full attention on his hero. There is almost a golden aura around Kennedy that Trevor is subconsciously manifesting, as if he sees a God standing before him, immaculate and perfect. He's seen him on TV, in magazines and from the cheap seats of an FWA arena, but right now, The Astonishing Chris Kennedy was within his direct line of sight and now Trevor's heart is beating a mile a minute.

    He's been waiting for this moment for 9 long years. He dreamed of it, almost every day. It was a series of Instagram posts that pointed Trevor Alvarez to the the Samurai Blue Sushi and Sake Bar at this moment in time, but it was a culmination of 9 long years of ferocious, untamed obsession that propelled him to follow the coordinates Chris Kennedy unwittingly provided. It's fucking Go Time. He runs his fingers through his greasy black hair before exiting the car, slamming the door behind him as he makes his way towards his favorite FWA star. He nervously mouths his name, "Chris Kennedy?" but the words don't come out. He tries again, once more with feeling, and a crack in his voice is heard as he finally mutters "Chris Kennedy!" and now he has the former FWA Champions attention.

    "Sorry pal, catch me after Fight Night if you want an autograph, I'm with my family"
    Chris Kennedy says as he opens the door for his daughter. Bell helps Carmella into her seat and Kennedy makes his way towards the driver's side door of his 2019 Range Rover. Trevor panics a bit, he wasn't going to let this opportunity pass so quickly. Chris Kennedy needed to know how much Trevor cared about him, this moment needed to be captured and immortalized.

    "Please, if I can just have a moment. Just one moment."
    Trevor says, pulling his camera from his front coat pocket. Kennedy ignores him, until Trevor points the camera at Bell and Carmella. Instinctively, Chris Kennedy turns around and gets in front of them, shielding them from the camera.

    "No. Last time I'm going to fucking tell you, buddy. Kick rocks already."
    Kennedy says, growing more agitated by the second.

    "You gotta understand Chris, listen to me please. I'm KennedyFan87 from Twitter, you know? I'm your number one guy. I fucking love you, man."
    he says before launching into a hug, holding Kennedy tightly, though Chris Kennedy looks less-than-thrilled.

    Kennedy reluctantly let's him have his hug but is startled when the crazed fan smells his hair, taking a long, awkward sniff. Chris Kennedy then pushes the crazed fan off of him, perhaps with a little more force than he intended to but he doesn't regret a thing, this guy was a fucking nut-job. Trevor's ass hits the pavement and his camera lens cracks upon impact.

    "I don't know what your fucking problem is, dude. But you stay away from me, and you stay away from my family. Next time I'm calling the cops."
    Kennedy says before getting in the car, slamming the door shut. Bell and Carmella look at Trevor, laying on the ground, as if he's a some strange dead animal on the side of the road they are struggling to identify.

    Trevor sits up and watches as the Range Rover speeds off. He looks down at his cracked camera and back at the car as it hits the road and vanishes from his line of sight. There is a look of confusion and shock on Trevor's face. This wasn't supposed to go this way. How could Chris Kennedy do this to him? To be shunned like this, by his idol, in what was supposed to be the greatest moment of both their lives, Trevor couldn't understand it, though he was trying like hell to. But then he thinks, it's Kennedy who doesn't understand. The significance of this moment, the turning point it was supposed to be for both of their lives, it seems to all have been lost on Chris Kennedy, Trevor thinks to himself. But now, in this moment in time, he didn't want to make Chris Kennedy understand. More than anything in the whole world, he wanted to make Chris Kennedy pay.





    Friday, May 10th, 2019

    A single lightbulb flickers off and on in Trevor's small studio apartment, almost providing no light at all. If not for the illumination coming from Trevor's 12 year old Vizio TV, we wouldn't see a single thing right now. His posture slouched, he sits in his gaudy green couch, a hand-me-down from his late grandmother. He's eating a slice of yesterday's pizza as he watches tonight's episode of FWA Fight Night. It's truly a depressing scene before our eyes. Trevor's unshaven face is rough, and his unkempt hair indicates that it's been days since his last shower. He watches the screen intently as Chris Kennedy stands in the middle of the FWA ring cutting a promo. Kennedy is absolutely shitting all over Cyrus Truth, as well as the recently defunct CWA.

    Trevor doesn't care much for the CWA. Before his twitter handle was KennedyFan87, it was FWAFan87, he's an FWA diehard through-and-through. In fact, Trevor Alvarez represents the modern FWA fan to a tee, his loyalties shift depending on who is currently "over" and he wastes his time on Twitter and Discord, constantly sharing his unwanted opinions that no one ever asked for, filling himself with a false sense of superiority over his "insider knowledge" that is shared by just about everyone else with an internet connection and a 5th grade reading level. Even though Trevor couldn't possibly care any less about Cyrus Truth or the CWA, he's seething with unrestrained anger as he watches Chris Kennedy shooting on them. How dare he? Chris Kennedy is out there living his best life, going on and on about how wonderful he is, while Trevor is confined to this dark room wasting his life away. They were supposed to be best friends, but Kennedy wouldn't even bother acknowledging him. KennedyFan87 used to worship the ground Chris Kennedy walked on, but now he hates his guts with a fiery passion for not being there for him when he needed him the most.

    He stares at Kennedy, that smug look on his face and that microphone perpetually attached to his mouth, and he wishes he was dead. Just then, something happens that makes Trevor sit up strait and take immediate notice. A theme song he's never heard before interrupts Chris Kennedy, and a new hero emerges.


    Matt Dusk's "Back In Town" plays over the PA system and out walks CWA's very own KRASH! The crowd goes absolutely nuts. The announcers have to SCREAM to be heard through the raucous crowd noise as Krash appears in the FWA for the very first time.

    Rod Sterling: WHAT THE HELL!?! That's KRASH!!!

    Michael Garcia: He's from CWA, isn't he?

    Rod Sterling: YES!

    Devin Golden: Ask! And you shall receive!

    Krash makes his way down the ramp to a huge pop from the crowd. The fans begin a loud "HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!" chant. Krash never wavers in staring right at Chris Kennedy inside the ring, though. He enters the ring and comes face to face with Chris Kennedy.

    The tension is palpable for about 15 seconds. Kennedy is silent and Krash just stands in front of him with no microphone or way of speaking. Cell phone picture flashes are going off all around the arena as the camera pans out to view Krash and "The Astonishing" Chris Kennedy from afar, with the crowd all standing and watching, making them feel like gods and ants all at once.

    Trevor smiles like a child presented with that present they'd been asking for. Who was this new hero standing before him? He'd heard the name Krash before, he'd seen others talk about him in the wrestling forums, but the world of CWA was still all very foreign to the man who once went by the name "FWAFan87" and he sets his cold pizza down onto the coffee table. Not on a plate, Trevor didn't own any of those. He watches this mustached stranger stand before his former idol and he's so tuned in he nearly forgets to breath.

    He stands up and clenches both fists as he watches the scene unfold. It's almost as if he's imagining himself in Krash's shoes, living vicariously through the former CWA World Champion.


    Finally, after about 30 seconds and once the cameras close in on the two again, the silence breaks.

    Chris Kennedy: Who the hell are you?

    Krash says nothing. The crowd begins a loud "KRASH! KRASH! KRASH!" chant. Kennedy simply ignores them, the plebeians that he views them as.

    Chris Kennedy: I asked you a question, idiot. Who the hell do you think you are to interrupt me!?! I am The ASTONISHING CHRIS KENNEDY. I AM THE GREATEST---

    OUT OF NOWHERE, KRASH KICKS KENNEDY IN THE GUT AND HITS HIM WITH A DDT!

    The crowd loses its collective mind! The cameras inside the arena showing the feed is now shaking. Cups and trash is flying through the air like its the 2013 era of FWA. This moment before their eyes is history in the making and they all seem to be aware that they are a part of it. Cell phone flashes continue, albeit fewer than before as the fans now are just in a state of delirium.
    Krash nods at the crowd before running up the turnbuckle.

    Michael Garcia: No no no...

    Devin Golden: Yes, Yes, YES!

    Krash launches off the top, hitting Kennedy with his finisher "Daybreaker" aerial finisher. The crowd pops wildly yet again. Everyone is going nuts. Another "HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT" chant begins. Then a "THANK YOU, KRASH!" chant follows and Krash gives a head nod and solo chest bump to acknowledge the crowd.

    Michael Garcia: We've just seen the DAYBREAKER in the FWA, this is...

    Devin Golden: It's incredible, is what it is!

    As Krash smiles at the fallen Kennedy, Trevor does just the same, feasting his eyes upon the sight of an unconscious Chris Kennedy. He's just received the greatest gift of all, the same gift every other fair-weather FWA fan wanted, to see Chris Kennedy humbled and knocked the fuck out. Trevor claps his hands and gasps as he watches Krash look back at the crowd and nod before exiting the ring. Trevor turns the TV off and begins pacing around the room, pondering the scene that's just played out before his very eyes, manically laughing and crying tears of joy simultaneously.

    He gets up from the couch and walks over to the desktop computer in the corner of his living room. Everything in this apartment is old, shabby and handed down from family members or thrift shops, but not this computer. It's nice, one of those expensive, custom built gaming setups with the light-up LED keyboards. It's clear this is where Trevor's money, what little of it he has, goes towards. The first thing he does is log into Wikipedia and type "Krash" into the search field. He then sees a picture of the mustached maverick holding the CWA champion and he begins absorbing all the information he can.

    One-time CWA World Heavyweight Champion, holding the title for over 214 Days. One-time CWA High Voltage Champion and the last person to ever hold that belt. First ever CWA Pure Champion, whatever the hell that is. Four time CWA Tag Team Champion, three times with some guy named Alyster Black as 'The Gang Stars' and one time with some guy named Dan Maskell. He hadn't heard of either guy, but that would change by the end of the night after several wasted hours watching CWA classics on the WrestlingClique Network. And that's exactly what he did, as he pulled up CWA section of the Network, the minutes turned into hours, the blackened night sky turned to day, and the prototypical FWA fan forgot everything he ever knew, and shifted his interests towards this new, mustached hero.

    He logs into Twitter, navigating his way to the user settings and selecting the "Change Username" field. He hovers to where it says "KennedyFan87" and deletes. He then types in KrashFan87 and is delighted to find it's not taken.

    KrashFan87 then heads to his small bathroom, pulling the clippers from the washroom closet. For the first time in several weeks, he brings the clippers to his face and begins shaving his facial hair. It's a truly liberating experience for the young FWA fan, like a snake shedding it's skin. However, he leaves his mustache, sculpting his facial hair to resemble that of his new Idol, Krash. Trevor runs his fingers through his mustache and decides he loves the way it looks
    .

    "Alexa, play Back in Town by Matt Dusk."
    he says. And just like that, Krash's theme song plays all throughout his apartment as he admires his mustache in the mirror. The lyrics to that song ring true to Trevor's ears. "And now you see with your own eyes and start to realize. I'm not the man I thought I was so try to sympathize. The way you think about your life is gonna change, change tonight", Matt Dusk sings. Trevor feels renewed and reinvigorated, it's a brand new day.





    Friday, June 18th, 2021

    We find ourselves back in Trevor's apartment, two years later. It's daytime. A few noticeable things have changed in since we last saw him. For starters, he's upgraded to a new TV, and the shabby green couch has been replaced by a cheap, black, faux-leather couch he procured from Walmart. The windows are drawn up and the room is well lit in the mid-days sun.

    Trevor emerges from the kitchen area in good spirt, with a six-pack of beer in one hand. He's wearing a vintage Krash CWA t-shirt that he paid too much for on E-Bay, despite the fact that he didn't watch CWA programming when it was still active. He sits down and checks the time on his outdated iPhone 5s. It's 1:59pm, and the show he's been waiting for is about to start.

    There is a text message on his home screen. Without opening the message we can only see a portion of it, but the portion reads "Trevor, it's Dr. Haller. You missed your last few sessions and I just want to confirm--" and that's all we get. Trevor sets his phone down and turns on the TV to ESPN. The show begins. We see a title graphic that reads "Defending The Streak: A Rod Sterling Special" before seeing a video package detailing The Astonishing Chris Kennedy's undefeated streak at Back in Business.

    The video package shows Kennedy displaying his dominance over the likes of Cyrus Truth, Stu St.Clair, PAJ, KAIZEN, and several others. Match after match, win after win, the video package highlights Kennedy's arms being raised in victory 8 different times before fading out and cutting to a scene featuring Rod Sterling and Chris Kennedy in a dark, intimate room. Indoor house plants bookend Kennedy and Sterling and a small table sits between them with two bottles of water atop it. Trevor winces at the site of Kennedy on his television. Just weeks back, when Krash hit Chris Kennedy with a Razzle Dazzle, Trevor cheered so loudly that his downstairs neighbor filed a noise complaint with the landlord, that was surely a fun time. But this, seeing Kennedy smiling and sitting before Rod Sterling, seemingly enjoying life, this made Trevor's ears hot, he hated it. Rod Sterling looks at the camera, and addresses the audience watching from home. Trevor once more disconnects from reality and imagines that Rod is speaking directly to him.

    "Hello and thanks for tuning in to ESPN's Back in Business introspective, Defeat The Streak. It's that magical time of year again for pro-wrestling fans worldwide. Back in Business. For those of you who've been living under a rock for the last 15 years, Back in Business it the FWA's flagship event, and the longest-running professional wrestling PPV event in history. A showcase of the business's best of the best, the widespread success of Back in Business has sculpted the landscape of professional wrestling as we know it."
    Rod Sterling says, not once looking away from the camera or even blinking, by the looks of it.

    "And what bigger story is there to come out of this historic event than the undefeated streak of FWA Hall of Famer Chris Kennedy? Year after year, match after match, Chris Kennedy silences the critics and defies the odds. Some would argue that, no matter where it falls on the card, The Chris Kennedy streak match is the true main event of Back in Business. One person who'd surely agree with that sentiment is the man sitting before us, none other than the man of the hour himself, Chris Kennedy. Chris, let's go all the way back to your first dance. Back in Business VI. You'd defeated a handful of other FWA competitors to earn a Golden Opportunity and it was here where the streak began. Did you know then, that this was the start of something big?"
    Sterling asks

    "Something big? That's underselling it a bit, don't you think Rod? This streak? It's bigger than me, it's bigger than the FWA Championship, it's bigger than the FWA. The Undefeated Streak at Back in Business, if you're a fan of continuity, is the longest running story in the FWA. 9 Years in the making. And it started on that night, as you mentioned, the entirety of my career in the FWA was sculpted by that very moment. Back in Business VI. I didn't know then what it meant in the long term, I just knew why I needed to win that match. I had been in the FWA for a little under a year at the time. On my first night in the FWA in a televised match, on my Fight Night debut, I defeated the then-FWA Champion Rocky Creed and shocked the world, as I'm sure you've heard me mention over the last few weeks. Because of that, I painted myself into a corner, where FWA management didn't want to let me have a run at the the North American Championship, the TV Championship or the X-Championship because they identified me as being "above those titles." Matthew Robinson's words, not mine. But then, there was also a shared feeling among the FWA showrunners at the time that I was too new and hadn't earned a FWA Championship yet. The old-guard who used to run things back then were a bunch of politicking jackasses who were more concerned with their own egos than the FWA product and as such, I spent my first year in limbo, defeating everyone who came my way but not being rewarded with championship opportunities. Then, after a series of qualifying matches, I wound up in the Golden Opportunity match at Back in Business VI. I was in a position where, I wasn't GIVEN any championship shots, despite lesser competitors being handed opportunity after opportunity, so I knew the only way I was going to get an FWA Championship shot was going to be by way of taking it by force via The Golden Opportunity briefcase. That's what that match meant to me, that's why it was so important that I won that match. And by Hook or by Crook, I got the job done. I watched five other opponents shake their heads in dismay as my hand was raised and I was handed that Golden Opportunity briefcase. The rest, as they say, was history."
    Kennedy says, before pulling a pack of Marlboros from his coat pocket.

    "You mind?"
    Kennedy asks, not waiting for Sterling to answer as he lights up.

    "No, not at all. So fast forward a year later, Back in Business VII. You find yourself in the main event of Back in Business, having won the FWA Championship in the year since and solidifying yourself as the gold standard in the FWA. You're not only defending Fight Night's FWA Championship, but you're competing for Crossfire's World Heavyweight Championship in a triple-threat Unification match with WOLF and Jack Severino. Then Back in Business VIII a year after that, you're main eventing once more in an FWA Championship match with MC Fromage. Within your first three years in the FWA, you'd main evented Back in Business twice and had become a three time World Champion. But your matches at Back in Business still weren't billed as a "streak" at this point, were they?"
    Sterling asks.

    "No, they weren't. I wasn't even consciously aware of my streak until I had beaten Stu St.Clair at Back in Business X. After defeating him, I was 5-0 and that's when I started calling attention to "the streak". I was the first person in the FWA to outright claim an undefeated streak and that wasn't until I needed to count my wins on my second hand. That's the difference between me and guys like Krash and Alyster Black, these guys claim "Undefeated at Back in Business" based on one match which is some of the most comical, cartoon character bullshit I've ever heard of. It's almost as if they are poorly put-together parodies of me. I earned the right to say I'm undefeated. A streak insinuates a series of matches, not one. So some jack-off wins their debut match at Back in Business and claims to have an undefeated streak, because they want to share my glory, no, I'm not letting them have that."
    Kennedy says, ashing his cigarette into the nearby Fern plant.

    "You mention Krash. Let's talk about him for a bit. The two of you were recently the top two draft picks for your respective brands. At Back in Business XV, you'll be facing the Mustached Maverick in a match that many say has been a long time coming. A match that pits CWA vs FWA in a---"

    "I'm going to stop you right there. This isn't CWA vs FWA. Krash has been a part of this roster for two years. He's an FWA guy now. You know, there is this common misconception that I have something against the CWA. That's actually not true. I've talked a lot of shit about the CWA since returning, the nerds on Twitter might say that I'm kicking them while they are down, but that's not the case. It simply is what it is, I don't book my own matches and it's not my fault that The Chris Kennedy Comeback Tour has seen me at odds with a slew of CWA rejects. I didn't ask for the match with Alyster Black, Dan Maskell or even Krash. But when you have guys who've accomplished nearly nothing in the FWA, bragging about their CWA accomplishments and resting on those laurels, I'm going tear that shit the fuck down and remind them where they are now, and what they've accomplished here. This thing between Krash and Chris Kennedy? That's not a CWA vs FWA thing, CWA has nothing to do with it. Apart from their fun little one-off events, the CWA is dead and gone, and this is fucking BACK IN BUSINESS, the pinnacle of achievement in professional wrestling and the crown jewel of the FWA. Kennedy vs Krash isn't about some silly inter-promotion rivalry no more than Kennedy vs Cyrus Truth was, despite what the internet wants to bill it as. No, Kennedy vs Krash is about one thing: The Streak. Krash might tell you it's about two men who don't like each other going to war on the grandest stage of them all, but that ain't it, chief." Kennedy says, looking off to the side as he finishes that last bit, combing his fingers through his hair.

    As Trevor watches the scene play out on his television, he grows irritated, covering his face in his hands and taking a deep breath.

    "So you're saying this thing between you and Krash isn't personal?" Rod Sterling asks.

    "I'm saying it's not personal for me. Perhaps it is to Krash. A few weeks back I faked him out, made him think he was getting the Bittersweet Chin Symphony, and he showed me, himself and the entire world what a tremendous coward he was when reacted by hitting me with the Razzle Dazzle when my back was turned. So yeah, you can say he was in his feelings on that one, just a bit. Then, the following week, I knocked his fucking head off with the Bittersweet Chin Symphony that I teased the week prior, gave him something to remember me by going into Back in Business. So yeah, Rod, for Krash I'd say it's personal. He's always been jealous of me, ever since that night in 2019 when he made his FWA debut, he showed his cards. He wanted what I had, the spotlight. He took it from me by pushing me out of it. And now? Now I'm back. I come back to the FWA and issue an open challenge for Back in Business, an lo and behold, who should answer? The same man who saw me on my way out the door the last time I was here. It's painfully apparent this is personal for Krash, he might think this is the fight of his life, and he'd be right. But for me? Personal? That would require me giving more thought to Krash than I do, Rod.

    That's not me discrediting Krash. I wouldn't take anything away from Krash's accomplishments, in the CWA and the FWA, he's done a lot. But I'm not going into this to settle some petty score, this isn't a dick measuring contest for me. It's like I said, Rod. For me, this is all about the streak. Look at me, Rod, look at all of my accolades. Five Time world champion, North American champ, X-Champ, Tag Team titles, Golden Opportunity briefcases and carnal contendership. I am an FWA Hall of Famer, for Christ's sake. But all those accomplishments, they pale in comparison to my crowning achievement, that sweet, glorious streak. And while most men would achieve Hall of Fame status in the FWA and decide they've got nothing left to achieve, they'd call it a day. But the reality, MY reality, is that as long as the streak is in tact, I'll always have something to fight for, Rod. As long as that streaks live on, I'll continue to stay on top of my game, with grit and determination I'll carry on and continue to defend this unparalleled record. I respect Krash for what he's done in the ring, but I also see Krash for who he truly is. Is he an impressive competitor? Absolutely. Is he the man to defeat the streak? Absolutely fucking not.

    As Trevor watches Kennedy relay this to Rod Sterling, he's absolutely fuming with rage right now. How could he say these things about Krash? How could he be so dismissive. Fuck Chris Kennedy. Fuck him Fuck him Fuck him. These are the things he says to himself, but as Kennedy continues his verbal assault, KrashFan87 begins to feel doubt creeping into the back of his own mind, as if his former hero is beginning to sell him on the fact that he bet on the wrong guy. The notion of this starts as a headache in his left temple, settling down into the pit of his stomach, a sense of impending dread in which the weight of it all is impossible to measure.

    "There isn't any part of you that thinks Krash has what it takes to beat the streak?" Rod asks, inquisitively.

    "Look, I come out here and I talk a big game. Sure, I've got an ego. Some people love that about me, others not so much. But underneath all that bravado, I am a realist. I am not a God, I only play one on TV. Eventually, I'll have to come to grips with the possibility that my streak is in danger and perhaps I'll have to finally pass that proverbial torch. But that day is not today. Better men than Krash have tried and failed, and after he's defeated, better men than him will continue to try and fail. So to answer your question, Rod. No, there isn't a single part of me that thinks Krash has what it takes to defeat me. It will be a long, hard fought battle, no doubt. It will be the match of the night, they'll talk about it for years, but not because Krash did the unthinkable. Krash is going to lose at Back in Business, and that loss is something he'll be able to credit as the highlight of his career. No one will care or even remember that once upon a time he was the CWA Champion, they'll count him as loss number 9 in my storied streak, and he'll owe a huge debt by elevating his stock in this business by sharing the stage with him but I doubt he'll see it that way, they almost never do. I think Krash signed up for this match with a clear understanding of how important this match was, what this opportunity meant for him, but like I said a bit ago, he took it to a personal level and now he's lost sight of the prize. At Back in Business, I am going to push Krash to his absolute limits and there will be an inevitable point where he's struggling to catch his breath, he'll feel his legs giving out and his brain giving up and he'll find his back to the mat, and when I drop to pin him and hook his scrawny leg, he won't bother trying to kick out. He'll have no choice but to accept his fate.

    Krash will then fuck off to Fallout. It will be a brand new day for him, and better men than him will tell him not to sweat the loss at Back in Business, they'll tell him that no one beats Kennedy on that biggest stage of them all and they'll be right. Krash will do his best to put Back in Business behind him and look forward in an attempt to become the face of Fallout, but this loss at Back in Business will eat away at him every day for the rest of his worthless life. I keep saying "Better men than him" but let's take a look at a few legendary competitors that fit that bill. Stu St.Clair. KAIZEN. MC Fromage. Phillip A. Jackson. These are men that never rebounded from losing to me at Back in Business. These are men who were not able to put that loss behind him, and it ruined them. Where are they now? Where is Wolf? Jack Severino? Cyrus Truth is still here, yeah, and before losing to me at Back in Business, he was on top of the world. His career has been in a state of perpetual decline ever since he ate that loss. Now he's gatekeeping the midcard, it's adorable and heartbreaking all at once, like an impoverished child in those commercials asking you to help feed them for the cost of a cup of coffee a day. So while I wish Krash the best after he loses at Back in Business, the tale is as old as time, and we all know that after Krash eats that Bittersweet Chin Symphony and see's GOD for the first time in his short, pathetic life, he'll never be the same again, same as everyone else who came before him. That's just the reality of it, I'm afraid.

    Trevor is pacing around his living room now, sweat pouring from his brow as he hauls off and punches a fucking hole in the drywall. He CAN'T keep getting away with this, he thinks to himself. Though deep down, he knows he can, and he will. Trevor pulls his fist from the whole in his wall and studies it, the blood pouring from fresh cuts on his knuckles and down his wrist, before looking back at the television.

    "So let's say you defeat Krash..." Rod Sterling says.

    "I already said that I would." Kennedy interrupts.
    "Okay then. You beat Krash at Back in Business. Then what. What's next for Chris Kennedy?"

    "It's simple. Sure, I was drafted to FWA Meltdown, but let's make one thing clear. It's only a matter of time before I'm on both brands as your reigning and defending FWA Champion. So those who've found themselves on Fallout can enjoy a temporary reprieve from me but it won't be long before I'm the king of both castles. Every goddman year at Back in Business, everyone from the opening match to the main event cuts their little promo and they take time away from talking about their opponent to talk about ME when I'm not even in their damn match, this happens time after time. If that doesn't tell you that I'm the star attraction around here, I don't know what else will. So yeah, I'm coming for the championship. And then this time next year, we'll be talking about Back in Business XVI, and you and I will be sitting here talking about Michelle von Horrowitz, Ryan Rondo or Devin Golden. But I am not looking to the future yet, Rod. You see, it's of the utmost importance that I don't lose sight of the task at hand and look past Krash as if I've already defeated him. I'm not concerned with what happens two months from now, four months from now, a year from now. My sights are set on The Mustached Maverick and while I've already expressed my confidence in my ability to defeat Krash, I'm not going to count my chickens before they've hatched. So rather than tell you what I'm going to do after Back in Business, I'm going to tell you what I'm going to do BEFORE Back in Business. I'm going to train harder than I've ever trained before, I am going to watch all of Krash's matches and promos like I'm some obsessed fan with nothing else going on in his life, I'm going to study every aspect of him, the innerworkings of his mind, the limitations of his body, I am going to pretend that facing Krash is the toughest challenge I've had to date even if you and I both know it isn't because I CAN'T lose this match, and I can't leave anything to doubt. I am going to cover all my bases and by hook or by crook I'm walking out of Back in Business the winner, I'm going to watch those fireworks blast off into the night sky while the tron reads 9-0 and I'm going to soak it in as I do every year. That's what's next for Chris Kennedy. Krash will have given his best, but just like I said last week, Krash's best...simply won't be good enough."

    Trevor has heard enough. He grabs the remote and shuts the TV off. He sits back down on the couch and begins shaking, rocking himself back and forth.

    "Yes it will. It will be good enough. Krash is going to stop you, you fuck. You fucking fuck. Fuck you. Fuck you..." Trevor says, but that last 'fuck you' has a crack in it. He doesn't know how long he can continue to lie to himself.





    Sunday, June 20th, 2021

    The same image our last scene ended on, Trevor Alvarez, aka KrashFan87, sitting on his couch, his miserable face blank and expressionless, though this scene finds him several days later, and it's now night time. No more sun shining through his open windows. Everything's gone dark.

    As the main event for night two of Back in Business is nearly underway, Michelle von Horrowitz and Mike Parr stand in the ring, awaiting FWA Champion Dave Sullivan to make his grand entrance. The big match between Chris Kennedy and Krash has come and gone, and Trevor's worst fears are now weighing down on him like ten tons of raw steel. He grabs the remote and turns the television off. Everyone in the world is tuning in for that main event, but Trevor has no interest in it. Nothing matters anymore. Nothing. He hobbles over to his computer and sits down, logging onto Twitter and navigating to his User Settings. He selects "Change Username" and deletes "KrashFan87" from the naming field and sits there for a few seconds as he contemplates a new name. After a few long seconds turn to minutes, he instead hovers his cursor over the field that says "deactivate account" and he does just that, closing out that chapter of his life that brought him nothing but misery and empty promises unfulfilled.

    Trevor is your average FWA fan, through and through. Kennedy said that Krash's best would never be good enough, but for the fair-weather FWA fans, the ones who forget who they once cheered, the ones who built the roads their current favorites are now driving down, no one's best is ever going to be good enough. A never-ending cycle of wanting more and being dissatisfied.

    Trevor looks down at his phone and picks it up from the desk, thumbing through a weeks of missed calls from Dr. Haller in his call log. He clicks on Dr. Haller's phone number and finally returns his phone call.

    "Dr. Haller, hi. It's me, Trevor. Yes, I know it's late. But I could really use your help right now. I just need someone to talk to, please." he says as our scene fades to black





  9. #29
    Jungle Life
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    "Admission"

    (The following promo's you are going to read will take place between the aftermath of Knox/Mike tag team match and up to Curtain Call)

    The sound of a telephone ringing can be heard as a light turns on inside a home as Dr. Grimes looks over at his wall clock seeing that it reads 3:00 AM. He is clearly half asleep and his wipes his hand across his face before putting on his glasses and looking down to see who is calling him. The phone reads Kayden Knox and Dr. Grimes quickly answers it as he awaits to hear Kayden's voice.

    Dr. Grimes: Hello Kayden is everything alright?

    ​There is a moment of silences as Grimes awaits Kayden's response before Kayden does finally answer.

    Kayden Knox: Well yes or no it's kind of hard question doc.

    Dr. Grimes: Well what is on your mind Kayden? You wouldn't call me otherwise if something wasn't bothering you.

    Kayden Knox: I am just thinking. I think I want help.

    Dr. Grimes seems a little confused by Kayden not exactly really sure what he means by help. However he does seem to be more awake not if anything just by the conversation and to see where it goes he gets lost in his thoughts not really saying anything until Kayden's voice brings him back into the phone call.

    Kayden Knox: Doc you still there?

    Dr. Grimes: Yeah, Kayden I am still here so what do you think you want help with.

    Kayden Knox: I don't want to feel like this anymore. I have a problem and it's something I can't ignore anymore. I am ashamed.

    Dr. Grimes now gets to what's going on about Kayden's phone call. Knox is talking about feeling ashamed that he was tricked by Mike Garcia. Dr. Grimes begins to talk.

    Dr. Grimes: What Mike did.

    Kayden Knox answers with a sharp tone.

    Kayden Knox: This isn't just about that. I am ashamed of the man I have become.
    I am ashamed because it took me this long to realize.

    Dr. Grimes: Realize what Kayden?

    Kayden Knox: That it took me this long to understand it's ok to ask for help that I have a problem and it has made my life unmanageable. I want to get better. I am asking for your help. I am asking for you to help me beat my addiction. I want your help.

    Dr. Grimes gets a smile on his face as Kayden's words don't feel hollow and instead of someone forcing him to get help. Grimes then drives to the hospital and pulls in as he goes up the stairs he finds the room that Kayden is staying in. He knocks in the door and does not hear anything. He slowly opens it and the first thing that catches his eyes is that on the ground is a empty bottle of pills that aren't address to Kayden. He looks over to the whiteboard on the right side of him and sees that this is Kayden's room.

    The pills are seen leading out to the bathroom. He walks in and half excepts to see Kayden passed out on the floor in his own vomit. What he does see is Kayden standing above the toilet. He has the pills grasped in his hands there are a number of them enough to where even with a close fist you can see them. Kayden Knox stares into has own hand with a serious look in his eyes. Dr. Grimes steps forward and speaks to Kayden.

    Dr. Grimes: You can do it.

    Kayden nods and he watches as the pills fall to the water of the toilet and Knox flushes it watching all the pills go down as the slide around the bowl like a bobsled team in the Olympics until every last one of them is gone then he turns to Grimes.

    Kayden Knox: Thank You.

    Dr. Grimes: Don't thank me thank yourself. You did it Kayden. You are the one that is wanting a better life for himself. I am proud of you. Kayden though that wasn't the hard part though what comes next is.

    Kayden nods and Grimes goes and checks him out. He helps Kayden to the car his ribs still badly injured and you can see welts across his body from Mike's attack. They start to drive the stars over the night sky start to slowly fade away as the sun starts to slowly rise. They have been driving for a few hours as Kayden looks up to see the welcome to Las Vegas sign and they drive through.

    Kayden though ask if Grimes can pull over as they come to a graveyard. The graveyard is empty as Knox gets out of the car he struggles trying to stand he does though and makes his way in it. He gets to the point he looks down to a somewhat newer grave and he starts to talk to it as Grimes waits from the car.

    Kayden Knox: I am not going to become you.

    Kayden kneels before the grave grasping it tightly. The grave reads Fred's name and we now know that Kayden is kneeling in front of his stepfather's grave.

    Kayden Knox: I been haunted by the things that happen it plays like a song on repeat and it made me feel as though I was never good enough but, dammit I am.

    I wish I realized that along time ago.

    I wish I could say that I didn't take what you said to heart but, I did. I wish that every time you told me I couldn't be something that I wouldn't be something that I would just become a statistic that I didn't believe you but, I can't.

    The words cut through deep on my and it left me alone wondering the world angry because I never felt like I belonged. I am not coming here to give some angry rant or to tell you to burn in hell.

    I am here because I am going to prove you wrong. I am not going to be some angry old man taking out my frustrations out on a bottle of Jack. You and Mike these vices aren't going to define and tell me who I am.

    Kayden walks off and sighs with relief. He gingerly walks to the car and gets in with Dr. Grimes taking his leave at the graveyard and the sun finally peaking out and the two of them driving into Las Vegas.


    "Curing My Affliction"
    Part One:

    We open up to a room with white walls a bed close to the west wall and a man sitting on the floor of it. The man is that of Kayden Knox who looks different instead of a long beard and hair his signature black jacket he sits there with a shaved head clean shaven and what looks to be a white shirt and what pants.

    Knox is seen holding a piece of paper in his hand he is reading over it as a ray of sunshine from the window hits his face as he turns to a knock on the door. The door opens and we see Dr. Grimes walk through the door the younger man with long hair tucked behind his ears walks to Kayden and begins to talk.

    Dr. Grimes: Is it finished?

    The doctor ask as he gives a smile to Kayden who seems to be reading over still the paper and you can tell he is lasered focused on it almost as if every letter is a breath he is taking in.

    Dr. Grimes: Kayden.

    Grimes speaks again and Knox comes to it. Knox gets up and hands it to Dr. Grimes who looks at Kayden again this time there is a look on concern in his eyes but, he doesn't show it long.

    He then leads Kayden out and we see a long hallway where Kayden walks down and we see other doctors walking up and down the halls as the sounds of footsteps by Kayden. He is now taken to a bigger room with ten chairs around and more people start to fill the room and they take a seat as Kayden stops a moment.

    Dr. Grimes with a cheerful smile places his hand around the shoulder of Knox reassuring him and leading him to take a seat.

    Dr. Grimes looks around the room seeing all the faces and welcomes them to group and you can see clear as day Northstar Rehab Center on the wall behind them. Kayden's shirt says it as well along with a series of numbers and he looks around before Grimes goes on speaking.

    Dr. Grimes: Now as many of you are aware here at this rehab center we are here to face the problems each and everyone of us have. We all have our stories each and everyone of us from our past that have lead us to where we are now.

    It wasn't so long ago that I give you an assignment where I wanted you to write a letter to someone in your life that you had something to say too. Kayden today is going to share his letter.

    Kayden stands up as Dr. Grimes hands his letter back to him and we see Kayden look around the room looking into each of the eyes of those who are listening to him and then to Dr. Grimes who looks back to Kayden nodding as Kayden. Kayden starts to read his letter.


    "The Letter To Mike"
    "Curing My Affliction"

    Part Two:
    Dear Mike Garcia,

    I want to hate you.

    I want to so much I think about it every night as I lay wide awake at night but, I can't. I have allowed hate and anger run through my veins for so long that all I could see was red. Anger and hate have controlled my life and this disease ate away at me until I was left with nothing by a hollow empty vessel going through the motions. I started digging myself deeper and deeper into a world of despair and the vices that come with it.

    I don't want to be that man anymore.

    I can't be that man anymore.

    A man afflicted and foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog. I can't give into that world anymore. I won't. I want to be a better a person. I don't want to feel empty. I don't want to be haunted by the things that I did and watch as they leave scars across my body ones that never heal.

    You and I are so much alike no matter how hard you try to hide it behind your steel city smile you are as broken as beaten down as I and every other person on this planet you are human. You can hide behind your pride but, it can only get you so far.


    Mike I was there for the biggest night in your career when you fulfilled your destiny and you became champion. That should been your proudest moment but after the dust settled and your held that title on your shoulder those whispers backstage got into your head.


    You wanted that recognition as the man and instead it was met with he's not a true champion. He is a fraud because even though you took the title from Sulley you didn't beat him you cheated and the record books will say you are a world champion. I saw it in your eyes that you didn't believe it. All those words cut through your worst then any pain you could have had inflicted upon you and it's true you know it is.

    Mike that itself that doubt that realization that you aren't as good as you think and I don't even fault you because the man I was then would have done the same thing he would of heard those same voices. They would and truth be told they have kept me up at night just as they did for you.

    Mike read these next words very carefully.

    I forgive you however just because I forgive you doesn't mean I forget. You see my actions, were my actions and I have to live with the decisions that I made. I will have to spend the rest of my life atoning for it and trying to make amends you however will atone for your actions come Back In Business. I may sound like I am blaming you for what I have done I'm not.

    You see I am not a perfect person. I will admit that somewhere down that line I am going to relapse. I have before and I probably will again.

    I cam always feel that part of me that wants to give in and that's the easy part. You can drink yourself into a coma and it will put a pause on all your problems. That it can numb it that you don't have to have a worry in the world however that is the problem in itself.

    That is the easy way out.

    That all it is going to be a pause and life you can't just pause it.

    Mike that moment you took me out when I came to it I was alone. I was truly utterly alone. I had this moment where I looked across the hospital room with internal bleeding and welts across my back I got up onto two feet and found myself with a bottle of pills in my hand. I will say for just a few seconds thought about going the way of the easy way out route. That was until I looked up and saw myself in the reflection of the window saw what I had become.

    I was a man content on taking the easy way out and living my life on pause hiding from my problems. The drugs, the alcohol, the rage all came from me and not knowing my worth and I now know I am worth something.

    I am worth saving I am worth given a second chance that I don't have to be that man I was as Sterling Jagger or that man I was in The Affliction. I can be better then that.


    I will be better then that.

    Mike you and Fred whoever else it maybe weren't the problem I was. I needed to revaluate my life but, first I had to get sober. I had to get myself cleared and right in the head and I did that.

    The thing is though I see everything much more clear now that I don't think of heading straight into a fight as my first actions. I know that come down to it Mike in a fight your strength will over power me.

    Mike I am not going to attack you until that bell rings.

    Why?

    It is because I know I don't stand a chance against you one on one. I will be the first one to admit that. What I am going to do is going to put you off your game it's going to get into your head because you are gonna see a different side of me.

    You see I know you better then you think and I know that you except me to be full of rage and use my biggest weakness against me. You see as you sat upon your ivory tower in The Affliction.

    I saw what you thought of Undisputed Alliance and I is nothing more then your rabid dogs that you would dangle a juicy steak upon us. You got to the point that it became elementary that it be like clockwork. However when things didn't go as you planned you tossed us away like trash. Mike when that bell rings now you don't know what to except is going to be staring at you from across the ring.

    You are going to see that just because I am not fueled by anger and rage doesn't make me any less dangerous I maybe even more now. I see the bigger picture I can see that you are unsure that you are off of your game and that is the advantage that I wanted and that disadvantage I needed you to be in.


    I was a man who thought that I was fighting because I had nothing left and now I see I am a man fighting for himself and for what is right. I am not going to be a perfect man or a good man I am just going to try and be that better man.

    Sincerely,
    Kayden Knox


    "Afflicted No More"


    A few moments past as Knox finishes his letter he folds it up and places it in his pocket as the room seems to be fixated on him. Knox then is approached by a number of people that were in the room as they smile and hug him telling him he is worth something that they are glad he is trying to be a better person.

    Grimes watches from the back seeing Knox as he seems to be smiling and as the other patients walk out of the room Knox and Grimes stand across from each other and Grimes goes to say something but, Knox places his hand on his shoulder and begins to speak.

    Kayden Knox: I know. I know you are genuine in your worry of me. I know that this match isn't something you aren't gonna want me to do but, I need to do this. I need too. Mike and I both need this. I been watching him I see the stuff he is going through.

    Grimes: He's gonna try and get you angry. He is going to try and get you to be that old you. No matter what happens don't. There is the possibility.


    Knox cuts him off again with another grin from the side of his face. He stares at him again for a moment his grey eyes focused on the young doctor.

    Kayden Knox: There is a possibility I lose and you fear what that will do to my head. You fear that if I don't beat him that it was all gonna be for nothing. I see it as this I know who I am now I know what was the toxin in my life and I got rid of it.

    I need this match.

    I need it to prove that where I was and who I was is not who I am going to be. I just can't throw this all away to be safe because if I can't face Mike in that ring win, lose, or draw then how can I face myself in the mirror? How can I tell myself I am better now that I won't fall back into the same pattern's the same routine.

    I can't.
    I won't.

    Kayden walks off leaving Grimes to his own thoughts as Knox walks out down the hall. He then goes into his room and starts to pack his things as Grimes walks into the room.

    Kayden Knox: Thank you for everything really but, I need to go back. I need to move on.

    Dr. Grimes: I understand. I won't stop you anymore. I get it. I know the man you are Kayden. I seriously am proud of you. I am not saying that as your doctor. I am saying it as your friend. I am saying it as someone who has watched you over the past few years self destruct and wanting to help you so badly but, I could see you weren't ready. You can't help those who can't help themselves that's what they say right?

    You see I owe you an apologize Kayden.

    I owe you one because part of me did think you were going down that road of being that lost cause. I thought I had failed you.

    That was wrong of me.

    I guess apart of me didn't want to see you face Mike because if you lost I felt like I had failed. That right there was selfish of me and it was not fair to you. Mike has been coming to see me from time to time and I can't get into to much because of the law but, know this he is a dangerous and a desperate man Kayden.

    He is more dangerous then he has ever been before because he feels as if he has nothing to lose and will do whatever it takes to defeat you and make an example of you to the whole entire roster. I know what kind of match you want. I know the symbolic nature of it.

    A Strap Match.

    There is another brief moment of silence between the two as Knox is processing the words that he said. Knox stopped mid packing though as Grimes said the match. Knox zips up the bag and picks it up turning to Grimes.

    Dr. Grimes: They both beat you with a belt. They took that strap and they would beat you with it time after time until you couldn't stand on your own two feet. You are going into this fight as if you were fighting Fred as well aren't you? You see your scars across your body aren't all new.

    I am sorry.

    Now I know you are trying to think of this from a different view you want to get him off of his game? This will help.


    Kayden looks as from behind Grimes back he pulls out Kayden's old black leather jacket. Kayden looks on confused.

    Kayden Knox: My jacket?

    Dr. Grimes: Yes. Kayden this jacket will do more damage to you because of what it means and what it can do more damage then two fist can ever do. The next FWA show is in the city of Pittsburgh. Steel City.

    Mike Garcia's hometown.

    He is in the main event going one on one inside a Steel Cage with Gerald Grayson. What better place to tell Mike you aren't finished then him going to climb up the cage thinking he is going to win only to be haunted by you. You have a game plan stick to it.

    I know that Mike will retaliate and he will try to get you under his skin even going as far as use Fred or even me to get to you don't let him. Once he thinks you got him in your head his ego will allow him to get back to his game.

    Kayden grabs the jacket and starts to walk away. He turns towards the doors as Grimes yells to him something.

    Dr. Grimes: You are afflicted no more.

    Kayden stops and turns to Grimes nodding as he walks off. Kayden grabs his phone and makes a call. A women's voice is heard and we hear Kayden speak.

    Kayden Knox: Hello I need one ticket to Pittsburgh please.

    "Steel City Screwjob"

    The Pittsburgh city lights are seen from upon the hotel window where Knox stands looking across the vast area. He sees the arena where FWA Steel City takes place and the picture of Mike staring across at him from a billboard. Knox stares at the billboard as he looks at the time.

    He then turns to see his jacket laid across the bed and he can't help but, think back to everything that has gone on in the jacket and the once pride he felt wearing it. He now feels nothing but, distain for it as it stands for every wrong that he has done in FWA. This then reminds him of The Affliction.

    Kayden grabs his bag and places the jacket in it. He then leaves the room and makes his way to arena making sure that no one from the roster sees him. He finds a way into the arena disguised as a member of the ring crew before hiding away backstage and awaiting the start of the show.

    Kayden watches the show hidden from plain view and patiently he awaits the main event. Kayden makes his way to the part of arena where they take care of the lighting and the pyro as Mike's music hits and Kayden looks to the stage where Mike comes out. The Pittsburgh crowd take out their terrible towels and serenade Mike.

    They are whipping them around and the sea of yellow towels move like a wave and you can feel the energy from the crowd as he enters the cage. Knox looks at the tech as he does the lights and he sees the path he needs to take to get to the ring and finds himself thinking to himself how long it will take to get to ring.

    He then finds his eyes moving to the wires and seeing a power box. He then watches the rest of the match as the two put on a hell of a show. The two men start to climb the cage and Knox sees his moment. The arena's eyes every single one of them are on the two in the ring. Knox gets to the box and he cuts the power. The crowd roars confused as to what is going on as members of the stage crew are trying to figure out what happen.

    Knox rushes to the ring and climbs up the cage. There are the flashing lights of the cell phones very dim but, enough to get him to climb up the cage and place it on the corner the two men in the ring unsure what's going on as well seem to be more focused on trying not to fall to the ring below as Knox then gets down hides under the ring.

    The rest is history as the lights turn back on and Mike is staring at Knox's jacket. There is a loud crash heard from where Knox is under the ring and it sounds like a firework going off in a house and suddenly the sound of Grayson's music going on as the result goes. Kayden awaits as the show ends and slides out grabbing chairs and walking out of the building.

    Kayden makes his way back to the hotel room and looks down to see his phone going off the call is coming from Blackbird probably from Mike's request but, He ignores it he knows he has Mike right where he wants him.


    "​Sin City Specter"

    Kayden Knox: This is my hometown. This is where the challenge needs to be thrown down. I know Mike has something planned I was him I know exactly what he is going to do. He is seeing red just like I wanted he isn't even thinking about this logically either.

    I mean take a step back check your ego and you could see what I was going to plan. I am not going to give him the satisfaction of getting his revenge in my hometown just as I did him. Let him seethe but, I have to show him I am not scared and that I am here and I am not going away.

    What should I do though?

    I have to be like a specter. A ghost.

    Kayden then thinks back as he is now seen outside the city limits of Sin City the town itself alive and the sounds of music can be heard from where he sits.

    Kayden Knox: Grimes he told me I was afflicted no more. I think that will send a message to Mike.

    Knox makes his way to the arena now but, this time he gets there before anyone he knows this arena like the back of his hand he grew up here he knows his way in without no one knowing. Knox finds himself like a specter as he moves throughout the arena listening in on the working and seeing where Blackbird's office was going to be set up.

    He then sees Mike enter the arena the usual pretty cocky poise that he has seems to be off. Knox watches him throughout the night and leads him to Blackbird's office where Knox had busted the lights in the room and wrote on the wall and he finds a contract for a match with him and Mike as he reads it he then alters it to a Strap Match.

    He signs it pins it to where Mike can see and watches as Mike finds it he sees Mike anger and you can tell his frustration from everything is starting to get to him. However at the end of the day the Curtain Call grows near for Kayden and Mike's story.

    Back In Business
    Strap Match
    Kayden Knox vs. Mike Garcia

    "Final Curtain Call"

    Kayden Knox: This is almost storybook is it not? The final Fight Night ever before the biggest show of the year and here we are Mike. We have been drafted to different brands and we have one last time together. NYC.

    Kayden Knox sits inside the empty arena. He tries to call Dr. Grimes but, what is odd is that he doesn't answer. Knox doesn't think much of it as stares around taking everything in.

    Knox knows that after tonight everything changes there is no going back and that everything has led to this point. The only thing certain is that at Back In Business it is Kayden and Mike and that this all comes to fruition.

    Knox tries again to call Grimes as the show starts and still there is nothing. Knox makes his way in with the crowd and watches the show. His clean shaved face and head and the fact he is wearing different style of clothes it seems no one can tell him from anyone else in the arena. Mike's music hits and Grimes is being held against his will. Knox quickly moves around the arena and gets to the stage crew.

    He then watches as Mike with blood fueled rage demands Knox shows himself. Knox feels as time slows and it is almost like his whole life flashes before his eyes as he remembers back to meeting Grimes and all the help he has given him. He thinks back to everything that Mike has done to him. He thinks back to everything that he did for Mike.

    He goes on for what seems like forever but, it is just seconds that go by and Knox in his head remembers he isn't fueled by that rage and anger anymore. Grimes told him Mike was desperate and this just proves it. Mike is out of his aliment.

    Kayden Knox reacts and grabs the stage crew. Who looks at him before realizing it's Kayden and Knox tells him to cut the lights. He obliges and Knox makes his way to the ring and the lights come on he is standing in front of the rocking crowd and Mike turns to see Kayden. Kayden wants for a moment to clinch his fist and drive it right through the skull of Mike.

    He tells himself he's not that man anymore.

    Kayden's look in his eyes tell all the story as the crowd pops. Then in that moment even with no words to be said and the arena's lid about to pop stands the two men across from one another their history known. Knox stares at the man he goes one on one with at Back In Business neither man budging and both eyes locked.




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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    Fight Night: Curtain Call
    May 28 2021, 9:17PM


    “There’s blood! My God...there’s blood everywhere!”


    Alyster sat on a gurney, holding an ice pack to the back of his head. He was only minutes removed from the debacle that was his match against Lizzie Rose. Only minutes removed from having a glass bottle smashed over his head by that absolute bastard Dan Maskell.

    There was an open wound in the side of his head, of which he tried to relieve the pain with the aid of the ice pack. He could feel blood flowing from the wound, pooling up in his hair just underneath his mask. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he could feel tiny shards of glass inside the wound, right below the ice pack. Every time he breathed or moved even slightly a stinging sensation shot down his spine as if a thousand needles were piercing the open wound in his head.

    Nausea was also becoming a problem, as it often was whenever head injuries were concerned. Alyster made a point of not succumbing to the urge to puke. Still, the room was spinning and the masked man was quite annoyed.

    This scene was becoming an all too regular occurrence. Sitting on a gurney, waiting for the FWA doctor to come and patch him up. It infuriated Mr. Black. He wasn’t supposed to be here, he was supposed to put other people in this situation.

    He should have done this to Dan Maskell, not the other way around.

    A sigh escaped his lips and he nearly doubled over from the pain; the ice pack had slipped ever so slightly and shifted the shards of glass again. It was becoming unbearable.

    He cursed Dan Maskell’s name.

    He cursed the FWA doctor’s name. What was taking that asshole so long?

    After a few minutes of being left alone to wallow in pain, fury and self-pity the door to the sick bay finally opened and in stepped FWA’s crack medical professional. The extremely generically named Dr. James Smith. A middle aged man with a paunchy build, greying hair and glasses who insisted on wearing a white medical coat whenever he was on duty. A quick Alyster had queried him on previously, apparently it helped the doctor maintain an aura of authority when dealing with the “wrestler” types.

    Dr. Smith had been a wrestling fan since childhood. He specialised in sports medicine in the hopes of landing a job with a major wrestling company so that he could travel the globe and contribute to the profession he had idolised as a child. Unfortunately any passion he had for his job had faded over time, you know, once he realised that wrestlers were a bunch of self-centred and damn near suicidal nutcases. Still he did his job well, at least well enough for a sarcastic jerk with the bedside manner of an unfeeling robot.

    “Mr. Black.” Dr. Smith’s voice was filled with boredom and just a little hint of disdain, “Can’t you go through one event without having to come see me afterwards?”

    Alyster couldn’t help but to laugh at that comment, he and Dr. Smith had become well acquainted during Alyster’s short time in the FWA. Alyster felt that he and Dr. Smith were close to being on first-name bases, he estimated that it would take only four more visits.

    “Dr. Smith.” Alyster matched the doctor’s tone when greeting him. “I really tried, I swear.”

    “You couldn’t have been trying too hard. You were fighting that poor girl Elizabeth.”
    Dr. Smith approached Alyster and grabbed him by the wrist, he pulled Alyster’s hand and the ice pack he was holding away from the tear in his mask and examined the open wound. “I really don’t see how that charming young woman could have done this to you.”

    “Oh she’s vicious doctor. Like a rabid pitbull. You have no idea. That quirky and endearing personality of hers is all a ruse to lull you into a false sense of security. Then BAM! She does this to you.”

    Dr. Smith wasn’t amused. He let out a sigh and then reached for a pair of scissors on a nearby medical tray. He reached up and began to cut Alyster’s mask. “Does FWA pay for these or does the cost come out of your pocket?”

    “My pocket. But I make a mint selling replica masks to fans so it’s well worth it.” Alyster winced as Dr. Smith began to peel the cut mask off his head, the blood had started to dry up and made removal quite uncomfortable.

    Dr. Smith let out a mocking gasp as he removed the mask. He feigned shock and spoke in a sarcastic tone, “There’s blood! My God...there’s blood everywhere!”
    “Oh ha-ha.” Alyster winced, hissing through gritted teeth as the doctor took a pair of tweezers to the wound. “You know Doc, your bedside manner could use some work.”

    The doctor pulled an overhead lamp over Alyster’s head and began picking out pieces of glass. “I’m much nicer to my patients who don’t intentionally put themselves in my care. So what really happened out there? Did Mr. Golden come back to finish the job?”

    “Maskell actually...shit!” Alyster ducked away from the doctor and turned to look back up at him. “Careful man, you're pulling out my hair.”

    “Oh stop being a baby. Maskell huh? That man is a vicious animal. No, he’s worse than that, at least animals have feelings.”

    “Don’t get me started.”

    “I’ve had to attend to the non-wrestling staff here because of that monster. It’s not right, they shouldn’t allow men like that to work here. I mean, you wrestlers, you hurt each other, that’s to be expected. Sometimes you go too far...”
    The doctor makes a vague gesture at Alyster’s chest,“But at least you keep it contained to each other. Dan Maskell on the other hand, he’s unhinged, he’s a bully, and a coward.”

    “Yeah, I sure didn’t see this coming.”

    “I can’t imagine he gave you a fighting chance. Say what you will about what Mr. Golden did to you, but you were asking for it.”

    “Wow, thanks doc. That sure makes me feel much better about practically having my heart cut out on national television.”

    “Mmhmmm, but everyone is going to remember that Mr. Black, some of those sick fans would even glorify it. What Dan Maskell has done to you, they’ll forget all about it the moment he moves onto a new target.”


    Alyster remains silent. Staring out into the distance as Dr. Smith finishes cleaning up the wound. He doesn’t wince, he doesn’t grunt, he doesn’t acknowledge the doctor. His eyes look down at a waste bin by his feet, at the freshly cut mask with the pools of blood staining the fabric and he begins to contemplate the merit of what he’s doing.

    Is any of this worth it? Of course it is. No one would ever forget the legendary moment on the final episode of Fight Night where Dan Maskell broke a bottle over Alyster Black’s head. It matched the barbarity of Devin Golden’s attack on Alyster Black in New Orleans! Right?

    The silence was broken by Dr. Smith.“Well good news is you’ll be cleared for Back in Business. Bad news is that I’ll be giving you at least a dozen stitches and I’m fresh out of local anesthesia.”

    “Hmm? Yeah sure whatever.” Alyster grunted in understanding while Dr. Smith produced a suture kit and went to work. Sticking the needle into the end of the wound and threading it through at least a dozen times before it finally closed up.The doctor applied a disinfectant then stepped back to admire his handiwork. It was then that he noticed Alyster's surprising lack of a reaction from being sewn up without anethstesia.

    “You’re being awfully quiet for someone who’s just been stabbed with a needle two dozen times."
    The doctor tried his best to sound concerned, he really did, unfortunately even his concerned tone sounded sarcastic,"I know I am a particularly skilled surgeon with silky smooth hands and a gentle touch, but even the toughest patients at the very least grunt in pain. What’s up?”

    Alyster snapped out of his trance, his eyes averting from the bloody rags in the waste bin and meeting the doctor’s. Alyster suddenly looked tired, more so than the doctor had ever seen him before. "I'm just thinking." The usually masked man's voice trailed off as he gave his tarse response.

    The doctor cocked an eyebrow then pulled up one of those stools with the wheels, he sat down and leaned forward, trying to meet Alyster’s eyes. "Well, I have a few things for you to think about Mr. Black. This is about the fifth time you've been in here over the last five shows. You're on the wrong side of 30, your body is showing signs of the long term effects of being dropped on your head and locked in bone shattering submission holds. You've shown no signs of slowing down at all and damn near everyone seems to be out to kill you. I'd be shocked if you were able to wrestle another three years without dying in the ring."

    This shocking news didn’t come as a surprise to Alyster. He’d heard a similar speech back in his CWA days. Back then the speech actually scared him. Now however, he took this speech as a badge of honour. That he could take the worst punishment and not only come back from it, but thrive. And he was going to let Dr. Smith know about it.

    “You something Doc, other doctors have been giving me that speech for about ten years now. And I know that ignoring the warnings is awfully stupid but there’s something wrong with my head.I think you should know that already, what with all the time we’ve spent together in the last year. So if you’re suggesting that I should be thinking about hanging up my boots well, I’ll just have to kindly request that you go fuck yourself.”

    Alyster hopped off the gurney and walked over to a mirror hanging up in the sick bay. He cocked his head to the side and tried to examine the good doctor and Dan Maskell’s handiwork. Brushing his hair aside, he managed to catch a glimpse of the doctor’s stitching, holding closed a long laceration.

    “Yeah, shit like this...I just bounce back from it. Right? I mean, one guy tried to cut my heart out, know what I did after that? I beat the greatest FWA wrestler of all time clean in the middle of the ring. Not many people can make that boast. Dan Maskell sure as fuck can’t.”


    Alyster looked back at a very confused and quite concerned Dr. Smith, “I came back and beat Chris Kennedy, and I’ll do the same to that monster Dan Maskell.” Alyster shrugged his shoulders, as if what he was saying was elementary. “As for my long term health. I can’t think of a better way to go out than by dying in the ring.”

    “Right. Besides the fact that what you just said is probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard I just...I just…” The doctor looked to be at a loss for words. In truth he wasn’t. There were a thousand things that as a medical professional he’d liked to say to Alyster. But he had realised a simple truth, “There’s no point in arguing with you. You’ll go out there and fight until you die. Doesn’t matter to me. I’ll just keep patching you up and making sure you’re healthy enough to do just that.”

    A smile creeped its way across Alyster’s lips. A big goofy, tooth filled expression. Alyster raised his arms, wanting to grab the doctor and hug him in this moment but thought better of it, he simply placed his hands on the doctor’s shoulders and bent down to his level, “See Doc, that’s why I like you. You get it.” Alyster slapped the doctor’s shoulder and then turned tail. He grabbed a large towel from beside the sink and threw it over his head to hide his visage and casually stepped out of the room.

    Dr. Smith was left alone, a less experienced person would more than likely be flabbergasted by this unhinged display. Dr. Smith was unfortunately used to it. He let out a sigh and rolled over to his desk. He opened his laptop and pulled up Alyster Black’s file. Logging the events of tonight into the records. He hummed quietly to himself and then muttered something under his breath, “God I hope he kills Maskell.”



    A hotel room in Paris, France
    June 15 2021, middayish


    “Happy Birthday you beautiful killing machine!”


    The sun creeped through a gap in the curtains, shining across the room and somehow, almost like an act of God to annoy him, right across Alyster Black’s closed eyes. It was enough to wake the night owl from his slumber. He sat up in bed, panting as he looked over at the curtains. He reached for the bedside table to pick up something to throw at the curtain but was left disappointed as there was nothing on the table.

    He sighed and threw the bed covers aside. Slipping his legs over the side of the double bed, he stood up straight and made his way to the bathroom. After a refreshing piss he washed his hands and walked back into the main room. Stretching his arms out wide and yawning. He stopped in front of a full length mirror and examined himself.

    Handsome face, check. Strong build without superfluous muscle development that serves no practical purpose, check. Big ol’ legs to propel himself at full speed so that he can lariat the heads off of jackasses like Dan Maskell, double check. Disgusting scars on his chest, right above his heart, of which even looking at killed him inside little by little every time. Unfortunately, check.

    His expression went from slightly proud to dejected almost immediately. He reached up and traced his fingers over the bright pink scar tissue, ‘FWA’ they spelled. A message left for him by Devin Golden, one he’d carry for all time.

    The scars didn’t burn anymore, they didn’t hurt to touch. But sometimes Alyster wished they still hurt physically. At least then he’d be distracted from the psychological pain they caused. What did still hurt was the slight pain he felt in the side of his head. After he finished inspecting the scars on his chest he checked the fresh scar in his head. The stitches had dissolved by now and what was left was a long bright white scar. The doctor’s assured him that it would fade over time which was a relief.

    For a week after the bottle incident on the final Fight Night, everytime Alyster showered he felt small pieces of glass washing out of his hair. It was an odd feeling phenomena. No matter how much he brushed his hair he couldn’t seem to get every piece out.

    Sometimes Alyster wondered if maybe someone had stuck a sign on his back that said “Please try to mutilate me” on it. Or maybe it was his charming personality that invited this sort of treatment. It was probably the former. Who could hate Alyster Black?

    There were at least two people who didn’t. One who had rung him at midnight and one who had texted him an hour ago.

    The midnight caller was none other than his tag team partner, bitter rival and overall best friend in the entire world. The Moustached Maverick himself, the infamous Krash.

    The text was from a little girl he’d befriended almost a year ago to this day. The daughter of a person he was concerned about. Carmella Kennedy.

    They both contacted him to wish him a happy birthday.

    Krash called Alyster every year on this day without fail. No matter what he was doing. Alyster regretted all the years he’d spent ignoring the call. Seven years in a row to be exact. All the time he’d spent away from wrestling.

    That weighed on Alyster and made him think back to his final CWA days. Those final days, the actions he’d taken, were relevant to his current blood feud with fellow CWA alumna Dan Maskell.

    After having his ankle broken by Shawn Summers and being out of action for nearly a year Alyster returned to a CWA whose landscape had radically changed. Shawn Summers, the bastard who had put Alyster on the shelf was thriving, propelled straight to the top after toppling and finally doing away with the Gang Stars.

    His partner Krash had seemingly moved on. He hadn’t avenged Alyster. He had ascended beyond the petty trivialities of teaming with the masked man. He had become a dual world champion. Singles and tag team. And his partner was none other than Dan Maskell.

    Alyster viewed Dan as a usurper. And the fury he felt over being replaced prompted him to return to active competition before he was ready.

    He returned and made two bold claims. Firstly, he would avenge his broken ankle and absolutely destroy Shawn Summers. Secondly, he would take out Dan Maskell and reclaim his rightful place as tag team champion.

    His first promise was broken when Shawn Summers pinned him clean in the middle of the ring after absolutely outclassing and embarrassing him. The second promise never came to fruition as Alyster’s drive to continue was killed.

    When Alyster disappeared from wrestling for seven years the rumors began to circulate. The biggest theory on why Alyster had left was that he feared Dan Maskell. This never sat well with Alyster. So when on that fateful night, backstage at Fight Night, Alyster found himself face to face with the Heretic he let the most petty of differences escalate to straight out warfare. He happily traded punches with Dan backstage, then happily traded punches with him in Las Vegas.

    He had planned on doing the same at Fight Night: Curtain Call but the ever loathsome piece of shit that was Dan Maskell managed to get the jump on him and smashed a glass bottle over his head. Giving him this fresh new scar.

    That is what fighting Dan Maskell is. Escalation. He throws a punch, you retaliate, he throws ten more and you do as well. Then he goes and tries to put you down for good. The thought of Dan Maskell putting Alyster down for good infuriated him. The thought of Dan Maskell being able to gloat about beating Alyster Black drove him absolutely insane.

    While Alyster reminisced on his past his reflection distorted. It didn’t match his expression, while Alyster looked as if he was lost in his own thoughts, his reflection looked sinister. Grinning from ear to ear as it stared at Alyster.

    The reflection made some slight alterations to its appearance, producing a pair of aviator sunglasses and a fisherman's bucket hat. It cleared its throat, Alyster was shaken out of his stupor and finally noticed the changes in his reflection's appearance. He reached up and patted his face, checking to see if he too was wearing the sunglasses. He wasn’t.

    “Ah, finally got your attention.” The reflection spoke up, it’s voice didn’t sound like Alyster’s, it was raspy, deep it...it was Hunter S. Tompson’s voice! “Thinking about Back in Business?”

    Alyster nodded his head.

    “Thinking about tearing Dan Maskell limb from limb?”

    More nodding.

    “You really think you stand a chance against that monster?”

    Of course he did.

    “You’re a bigger idiot than I thought. Don’t you remember what happened to you last time you stepped in the ring with him?”

    Alyster shrugged his shoulders.

    “He knocked you out cold!”

    Oh yeah…

    “So what’s different this time?”

    Alyster tilted his head down and pointed at the fresh scar.

    “What? You think you’re suddenly going to be able to fight better because you’re angrier and more injured than last time? That’s idiotic! You’re being stupid!”

    Alyster lifted up a finger and opened his mouth, he was about to say something really witty but was cut off by his reflection scoffing loudly.

    “You think I meant any of that crap? You’ve got this champ. You’re going to rip Dan Maskell’s head off and you’re going to put it on a spike and display it on your front lawn. You know why? Cause you’re Alyster fucking Black! This is what you do damn it! You get your ass kicked and you come back ten times angrier and more rabid than before! You punch harder, you kick harder! You scratch and claw, you bloody and you get bloodied! And you enjoy it damn it! You’re a god damned blood thirsty soldier. You were bred and designed for combat. You love the taste of your own blood and you adore making the enemy bleed even more! In four short days you will be unleashed in front of tens of thousands blood thirsty fans and you will put on the most barbaric display of gladiatorial combat they’ve ever seen! Women and children will scream, grown men will puke their guts out! And you will finally, finally put that clown Dan Maskell down once and for all! If you don’t take him out now then who will? Everyone else can’t do what you’re willing to do. Everyone else isn’t willing to take the damage you are to get the job done once and for all! Only you! Now open that bag down there!”

    The reflection points to a small piece of luggage just to the right of the mirror. Alyster drops down to his knees and opens it, he reaches inside and pulls out his ring gear. It leaves him in awe. It’s his standard ring gear but instead of black, it’s white.

    “You’re going to stain that outfit red with Dan Maskell’s blood. Do you understand me soldier?”

    Alyster stands up, holding the outfit and the accompanying mask out, smiling from ear to ear. He furrows his brow and meets his reflections gaze, nodding his head in agreement.

    “Good. You’re going to go out there and show the world that you’re the alpha killer in the goddamn FWA. Not Dan Maskell! Four more days and you can release seven years of pent up aggression. Four more days and you can put that asshole down for good. You can put him out of mind, out of sight and forget about the years of torment that the rumor mill has caused you. Happy Birthday you beautiful killing machine!”

    Alyster nodded his head, every doubt that he felt faded. Every ache in his body was numbed. His mind was focused on one thing and one thing only, the absolute destruction of “The Heretic” Dan Maskell.
    Last edited by Rawr is War; 06-14-2021 at 12:49 AM.

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  11. #31
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread

    THE HERETIC MANIFESTO
    009


    "VIOLENT TO THE VERY END"

    "When everyone says that I am this mighty bastard. That I am this evil villain with a plot. I wish that was the story I could spin to you. I wish I could tell you all that I was born with bad intentions from the off. However the fact is there was a time when I was scared and I was alone. I came to a decision that I could either remain the cattle or I could become the butcher. It was fight or flight at it's finest and despite the many, many bad things which can be said about me. One thing we do know is that I'm no runner. I am and I always have been a fighter. No matter what it costs me personally, I will do whatever I have in order to survive. Even of that means sacrificing my own humanity."

    Date: June 12th 2000
    Time: 21:01 PM


    On this warm June evening, due to another jailhouse scuffle. The young sixteen year old Dan Maskell doesn't find himself in the confines of his cell. Instead he finds himself in the dark and dank surroundings of solitary confinement. This dreary environment is literally a 10 by 10 hole. With no windows in this damp room and the only light and fresh air coming in by way of a window on the ceiling itself, because of this angle we see from the glows of the moonlight shining down into the cell that there are several insects flying around above. The cell is basic, stone and cold with only a small metallic bed to sit on as well as a dank, dirty toilet area above which a shattered mirror is attached to the wall. From the shards of the mirror we see several spatters of blood on the ground with the trail leadings towards the young Dan Maskell. In the tearful Dan's hand is a broken shard of glass which he is slowly albeit with some reluctance using to scratch away at his wrists. The cut on his left wrist while not deep is already trickling blood out onto the floor. His breathing is hasty as his hand trembles while he looks to resume the cutting on his arm.

    Dan: Come on Dan... Don't be a pussy. You can do this.

    As tears stream down Dan's cheek, he keeps the glass angled towards his wrist in the hopes he can muster the strength to cut himself deeper.

    Dan: You have nothing! You are nothing! JUST DO IT! Get this over with.

    His teeth gritted as Dan closes his eyes. He lets out a weak scream in an attempt to motivate himself further towards his goal. Yet as the glass begins to near his arm, the sobbing Dan relents this time dropping the shard onto the ground. Breaking down further into tears Dan lays face down on the ground and begins slamming his fist into the concrete floor.

    Dan: I can't even do this right... No wonder they all abandoned me.

    Try as he might an attempt to scream by Dan produces no sound as only a pained expression can be seen on his face. Using his hand to hold the cut on his wrist, Dan slowly sits up against the side of the bed as he looks to the sky above. His eyes red from the tears Dan is staring to the heavens out of desperation in the hopes that something or someone out there is listening.

    Dan: God.. If you are out there. Please help me. I'm at my last rung. The beatings, the fights and the abuse. I can't take this anymore. I can't live like this, day in and day out terrified of what is around every corner. Unable to eat or feel anything but the hate I have for myself bringing me to this point. Please... Make this stop.

    As Dan remains seated on the cold hard ground. The seconds tick by with his pain and anguish building for every second his prayers go unanswered. Distraught and overcome with emotion Dan buries his face in his hands as he begins to sob. This is however until he hears a voice from inside his cell.

    ????: There is another way out of this you know.

    Slowly Dan looks up and around his cell but he doesn't see anyone standing there.

    ????: It's pretty easy when you think about it and the best part is that it won't cost you anything!

    Dan: Who is there? Who is saying this?

    As the panicked and confused Dan staggers to his feet he begins to look around for the source of this voice. His arm still bleeding slightly as he stumbles towards the sink. Dan puts his arm under the faucet and begins to run some water on his wound. As he grimaces in pain, Dan catches sight with his own reflection. Here we see where the voice is coming from as Dan's reflection is notably older and looks a lot more hardened than the young man staring back at him.

    Dan: Who are you?

    Reflection: I'm what you could be Dan. Deep down what you always felt was inside of you.

    Dan: Am I going crazy?

    Reflection: No. This isn't insanity this is a moment of clarity. This is your chance to evolve Dan. As you are now, this place will swallow you whole. You are drowning in deep water at the moment and struggle as you are. You can't even tell if you are pulling yourself further to the bottom or towards the surface. That's where I come in.

    Dan: What do you mean?

    Reflection: You said you wanted this to end right? What if I can offer you a different ending that what you thought. All that hate and self loathing you have inside you. All that rage, you can't keep forcing that further down. It's like a poison flowing through your veins. It needs to go somewhere Dan or else you'll remain this pathetic, weak little boy. Let that rage out and let me in to guide you from this point. All you have to do is scream. Then you'll never be weak again.

    Dan: Scream?

    Reflection: I don't mean like a little infant no. When I say scream I mean something all the more primal. Unburden yourself of those shackles and find freedom in the abyss. You'll never be scared again. You'll never be alone again... Because I'll always be with you.

    There is an uncertainty on Dan's face as he steps away from the mirror. Shaken to his core and brimming with insecurity Dan's breath hastens before he lets out a large primal scream. His rage overcoming him Dan's scared expression slowly begins to change as his body language starts to shift from a scared young man to a confident, angry individual. As Dan continues to let out these animalistic roars, his reflection watches on with a sinister smile on his face.

    "It's always easy for people to say in hindsight how they would have handled a situation. What they could have done better in your shoes as opposed to the decision you made. The simple fact is that night I faced a choice. The was no other option and I made my choice. I let the devil inside and that shaped the rest of my life. I never felt fear after that, hell after that I never felt anything at all! It defo would be easy for me to blame others for this transformation, but I did this to myself. I made my choice and I will live with my decision for eternity."

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Date: June 14th 2021
    Time: 11:35 AM


    Dan: I've never told anyone that story. When I look back and see what I was. How pathetic I was. How scared I was. I can't help but wish I could go back in time to that cell. I'd have put him out of his misery myself.

    As Dan makes this statement during his latest session of Therapy. It can be said that similar to the mood inside this office thanks to this revelation that outside is a somber affair in it's own right. The sky is overcast and small spits of rain begin to hit the window before slowly running down. Having stood up from his chair to keep his back to both Erica Abernathy and Ashley Martins as he shares this story. Dan looks out the window almost at peace with what he has shared clearly feeling unburdened. While Erica makes a point to take some notes in her book, it is Ashley Martins who has the most telling reaction. Troubled by what she has heard, Ashley's eyes are watering slightly as she has to take a moment to wipe away her eye. Once she has finished taking notes Erica looks up at Ashley's reaction before she looks over at Dan.

    Erica: So that's the night you claim you let the devil in. Thank you for sharing that with us Dan. I can't imagine that was easy for you.

    Without turning back to them Dan just nods his head.

    Erica: It sounds to me that you was in a place you didn't belong. That the direness of your circumstances caused you to enter a fight or flight mode. The voices in your head, the hallucinations and the devil on your shoulder. This sounds like a psychotic break bought on by the stress of a series of traumatic episodes. Not too mention head trauma from all the damage you sustained.

    Slowly Dan turns back around from the window and he stares at Erica. This stare is cold and with purpose as the irritated Dan shakes his head.

    Dan: You think I'm insane. You think I'm brain damaged.

    Erica: I didn't say that. I just mentioned there was another explanation for this event Dan as opposed to you letting the devil inside of you.

    Dan doesn't answer as this time it's Ashley who speaks up having managed to compose herself.

    Ashley: All that anger.. All that hatred. It's not healthy to carry that around the way you are.

    Dan: You're right. But it also protects me. I used to get so bent out of shape from my defeats and losses. But the simple fact is they can't hurt me no more. People don't beat me they just survive. No one can hurt me anymore!

    Erica: I don't think shutting yourself off is the answer Dan.

    Dan: It's not but in only a few days I have a match with Alyster Black. I don't like Alsyter Black as you know. I think he's a gimpy little bitch. However the one thing I'll give him credit for, as I see it in his eyes. He's like me, someone who has fully given into the devil at some point in his life. Someone who finds that darkness apart of him like a symbiote.

    Ashley: You was just a kid Dan. You was scared and you let your anger take over. You have to know there is no devil inside of you. You went in that prison a boy and you left a Heretic. If we can get past this I think we'd see that you never quite got out of that cell. At least not emotionally and mentally.

    A slight tear begins to slide down Dan's face but he is quick to catch it with his left index finger before he stares at the moistness of his finger. His anger getting the best of him Dan clenches his fist before he begins to head to the door.

    Erica: Where are you going?

    Dan: I'm calling this session short.

    Ashley: Dan... Please don't go. Not like this.

    Dan: You don't get it do you? I can't stay and talk about this now. In a few days I get to go to war. As dislike him I might, Alyster Black is going to be coming for my head. Because if I was in his shoes I'd be doing the exact same thing. Yet that knowledge doesn't concern me like it might you two. In fact I find it freeing or cathartic. Because I know that there is something I must do before this match. It's not talk about my fears or my insecurities. It's not open up about how to this day I cannot stand to look at myself in the mirror because I cannot bear to look back at the freak I see staring back. What I have to do is simple, I have to let the devil out one more time. I will embrace my darkness and let it take over me because I don't have to hide it this time around. I don't have to cage it up or bury it in the fucking ocean. Instead I get to let it out and let it takeover me. The things I'll do to Alyster Black... Are going to be remembered forever! I've spent my whole life convinced I'm a monster. Convinced that I was just some psychopath on the periphery. Now on this night I get to truly be one. That doesn't make me sad or angry. Instead for the first time in a long while I'm at peace. At peace knowing fully well that my intention is not to just hurt this man but also to maim him! Fun isn't something one considers in times like this. But just thinking of what I'm going to do... Just puts a smile on my face!

    Codex
    Dan Maskell ~ Michael Bisping
    Erica Abernathy ~ Holly Willoughby
    Ashley Martins ~ Dianna Agron





  12. #32
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread



    "The Council will see you now."

    Krash's eyes shot open, blinking blearily against the harsh glare of fluorescent lighting. A sharp pain fragmented against his face, causing a wince and a groan as he pressed a palm against his left eye, attempting to gently massage the area. Sitting on an uncomfortable waiting room chair, Krash glanced around at the cold, sterile room in quiet bewilderment. The room was less of a reception area, and more of an empty box, devoid of any homely or welcoming touches. Indeed, there wasn't even any furniture, aside from the single increasingly uncomfortable chair Krash found himself sitting upon. Aside from a plain wooden door at the end of the corridor, the room was completely unfurnished.

    "Are you listening, Jake, or are you out in your own world again, constructing your own narrative?" Krash blinked, suddenly aware of another presence in the room. Leaning against a help desk structure stood a young man, sourly tapping a pen against a clipboard as his eyes narrowed at Krash. "The Council will see you now." He repeated, glaring as he nodded his head towards the door at the end of the corridor.

    Krash blinked. The voice sounded familiar, the face stirred a memory somewhere in his mind, but he couldn't place it. "Do I know you?" Krash asked, leaning forward.

    The receptionist growled, his hand gripping the pen so tightly his knuckles began to turn white. "You never kept destiny waiting. Don't start now." He snarled venomously.

    It might've been a clear hint, but Krash took it, nonetheless. Rising to his feet, he approached the door at the end of the corridor, feeling the glare of the receptionist burn into his back as he closed a hand around the doorknob. It was cold and clammy to the touch, enough to nearly make him jerk his hand away. Twisting the knob, Krash opened the door, and stepped into darkness.

    The door swung shut behind him with an echoing 'THUD,' encasing him in empty blackness. Krash closed his eyes in annoyance, somehow finding it less dark with his vision impaired, and reopened them as he carefully stepped forward, and was instantly blinded by dozens of stagelights turning on at once, illuminating the room.

    When his eyes stopped burning, Krash finally looked at what greeted him.

    Eight tall pillars, tall enough to tower over Krash, made of sleek, refined metal and steel. Perched upon each pillar stood a grey monitor, an empty screen, intimidatingly large. As Krash judgingly wondered how much all of this cost, the screens fizzled to life. Several ominous silhouettes, masked in shadow, appeared on the monitors. Most monitors simply displayed one human-shaped silhouette, while others featured something... else. The final monitor on Krash's far right remained empty, despite being switched on. The silhouettes seemed to glare down at Krash, almost offended that he would dare intrude on... whatever this was. Finally, the seventh monitor silhouette cleared it's threat.

    "You're late." It spoke, in voice tinged with dissatisfaction. A man who didn't enjoy being kept waiting, a man used to getting what he wanted as he wanted it. A man who spoke down to an increasingly bemused Krash the way he would to an unwanted child.

    "Wait." The monitor next to the above spoke up, a man with a hinge of American-Japanese accent. "Number Eight isn't here. The Council cannot begin without all members present."

    "We can let this one slide, Six." Monitor number five's silhouette spoke up, the tip of a cigarette dangling from his mouth. "Eight's got his own troubles, I hear."

    "Aye, can we get on with this fuckin' thing?" Monitor number four spoke up, with two voices instead of one, despite only having one silhouette in view. Both spoke with thick Scottish accents, one slightly more slurred than the other. "I've got better placed to be than stuck on a fuckin' Zoom call with you whiny pricks."

    "Let's just get this over and done with." Monitor two, the only monitor with two silhouettes, interrupted. The left silhouette waved a hand dismissively, while the right tapped his fingers idly against his palm. "Same shit, different year. Except next year this dumb motherfucker will join us at number nine."

    Krash had a sinking suspicious that the 'dumb motherfucker' he was referring to was likely himself, but before he could open his mouth in protest-

    "ENOUGH." The monitor on the very far left, monitor one, screeched an interruption that nearly caused Krash's ear's the bleed. Whereas all other silhouettes were clearly human in nature, monitor one's silhouette was a pulsating mass of shapes and appendages, a horrific blob of nightmarish proportions. It heaved and shifted continuously, constantly trying and failing to retain a measure of a comfortable human stance, and when it spoke, it spoke with five different voices, crying out on top of each other. "I - YOU - WE - HAVE PAINSTAKINGLY WAITED LONG ENOUGH - TOO LONG - AND WILL WAIT NO MORE. EIGHT KNOWS OUR PURPOSE. HIS PURPOSE. HE WILL CONNECT - GATHER - JOIN WHEN HE CAN. UNTIL THEN... WE SHALL BEGIN - COMMENCE - INITIATE - START - BEGIN."

    Several of the other silhouettes visibly winced in discomfort at the One's ghastly display of volume and voice variety. "I hate it when One does that." Monitor number three mumbled, massaging his temples.

    "One is correct, though." Five nodded in acquiescence. "Enough time has wasted. The hands of fate are applauding as the point of convergence grows near, and I don't know about you lot, but I for one am sick of hearing of that ovation."

    The Rightmost Two cracked his knuckles. "Aren't we all?"

    "You." Seven started, his silhouette leaning forward as he seemed to study Krash. "You're late. That's already one strike against you in my book. What do you have to say for yourself?"

    Krash faltered, taking a wary step back as he felt the gaze of eight - potentially more - gazes bore into him. "Ah, yes, I'm... Terribly sorry about that." He responded, shrugging in an attempt to ease the tension. "I suppose I missed the memo about all this."

    "Who the fuck uses memos these days?" The conjoined voices of Four's twins groaned. "Did ya not get the email?"

    Krash raised an eyebrow. "Was I supposed to receive an email about an upcoming meeting with a council of mysterious shadow figures?"

    "Yes, ye were! Who the fuck was supposed to send the email? Two?"

    "Oh no, we're not taking the fall here. Six?"

    "Don't look at me, wasn't my job. One?"

    "I AM NOT ALLOWED - PERMITTED - SANCTIONED - AUTHORIZED TO OPERATE COMPUTERS."

    "Great."

    "It was probably Eight. That's why he's not here, because he knew he forget to send the email."

    "It can't be Eight, I don't think he even owns a phone or computer."

    "Uh, I certainly don't mean to interrupt." Krash said, in the tone of voice one would use for interrupting conversations. "But perhaps if we could get back on track of whatever this council meeting is for, then you lot can play the blame game later? I mean, I'm sure this is a very well-organized operation you run here, but I don't even have the slightest idea of what this is supposed to be about."

    Seven let out a sigh of irritation. "He doesn't even know what this is supposed to be about. Strike two."

    Three cleared his throat. "What this is about... Krash, is it? Weird name, but sure. Krash, we've received your application of request to battle Chris Kennedy at the upcoming Back In Business event. Consider this to be an informal appraisal, an evaluation of your being, of whether we believe you are someone worthy of fighting the Astonishing One in his own battleground, and more importantly, someone capable of defeating him at the sacred event."

    "I wasn't aware that accepting Chris's challenge would result in a trial and judgement." Krash noted.

    "Obviously." Leftmost Two snarked. "Fuckin' amateur hour. Alright, I'll kick us off. What have your most recent in-ring escapades resulted in? A speeding train can crash through a brick wall while a meandering taxi cab will brush against it and stop immediately. What's your momentum like?"

    Krash coughed awkwardly. "I've never really put too much stock in momentum, see. Always found it to be rather... misleading. The universe is a churning ball of random chaos. A speeding train can derail for no reason or arrive at it's destination right on time, with the only difference between the situations being a rock on the tracks. And I believe the current FWA roster, top to bottom, is in a constant state of flux. The talent levels are so close that there is no level barrier. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day, regardless of momentum. Therefore, I-"

    "HE IS EVADING - IGNORING - AVERTING - AVOIDING THE QUESTION." One boomed, it's screaming symphony of voices casing the monitor to ripple.

    "We can see that, thank you One." Seven snarked. "I know honesty isn't that great of a value to you, Krash - our receptionist out there filled us in on some of the finer details of your character - but I would greatly prefer if you were to cut the bullshit."

    Krash's shoulders slumped. "Fine. I might not be on a winning streak or anything like that. The competition grows with each passing year, and Dan Maskell & Mike Parr-"

    "Parr's still around?" Leftmost Two interrupted. "The king of the midcard is still kicking?"

    "And he's got a fair chance of being King of FWA if he plays his Back In Business cards just right." Krash shot back defensively. "I've worked with him a lot over the past year. Nearly too much, really. Against him, with him... Whatever he was when you fought him, he's easily ten times better than he used to be."

    "This isn't the Mike Parr Power Hour."
    Six said, rubbing his fingers against his temple. "Back on topic. So, you're not on a string of victories. That's fine. Not preferable, but fine. As long as you got the better of Kennedy during the build to Back In Business, then that's workable."

    "Well," Krash hummed. "I did crack his skull open with a Razzle Dazzle."

    "What on earth is a Razz- nevermind, not important." Rightmost Two waved the question away with a hand. "So you got the momentum, then, right? Heading into BIB, you were clearly on top of things, right?"

    "Not exactly." Krash admitted. "The last thing I remember before being woken up by the receptionist was Kennedy kicking my face in with a Bittersweet Chin Symphony."

    A series of sighs echoed through the council.

    "Are ye fuckin' kidding me?" Four swore.

    "Now, now." Three calmingly interjected. "All of us here have been hit with a BCS before. You pick a battle with Kennedy, it's going to happen at some point. Though usually during the match itself, not beforehand..."

    "But he showed his hand." Krash pointed out. "He felt the need to punt my jaw into my cranium because he's scared. Scared that I'll be able to pull off the upset - just like how I did in my debut against him. He's cracking under the pressure of ensuring his streak lives. If I lose, then it's just another mark on the tally, another name on the list. So what? I'll live. But if he loses? He's brought back down to earth. The Shark is defanged, an aquarium side-attraction instead of the roaming predator of the sea it once was. And the idea of it kills him. It wraps it's jaws around his heart and crushes it beneath it's teeth. The notion that he's not infallible. Not invincible. That when it matters most, he's just like the rest of us - another fish in the ocean."

    The shadowed figures exchanged quick glances, and for a brief, fleeting second, Krash could've sworn he saw a smirk settle on some of the silhouettes. The second passed, as Five clasped his hands together. "Let's talk about your credentials. Not just anyone can face Kennedy, you know. You need a resume, something that says you might have experience in this sector, that you can stack up against Kennedy and everything he had, everything he has, and everything he will have. Krash, if you would?"

    "Alright. Where shall I begin?" Krash stroked his moustache thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose get the big deals in the open. CWA World Heavyweight Champion, at two-hundred and fourteen days, with a wide range of opponents such as-"

    "Perhaps we should clarify,"
    Rightmost Two interrupted with a cough. "We mean credentials that actually matter."

    Krash halted, fixing Rightmost Two with a stare. "I beg your pardon?"

    "'E means the shit you've done elsewhere means fuckall." Four helpfully interpreted. "It doesn't matter if you were the fucking king of the world in your rinkydink promotion or if you just scrubbed the toilets there. CWA or anything that isn't FWA don't fuckin' matter."

    "It doesn't matter?" Krash repeated incredulously. "So the years I've spent carrying a company on my back, winning everything there is to win, doing everything that was asked of me only to watch it spiral into an early grave for reasons that were never adequately explained to me, the decade spent trailblazing across the globe... None of it matters?"

    "Don't get worked up. FWA is the big leagues. We care about what happens on our doorstep, not what happens across the road. Or, rather, what happened in the graveyard, so to say."
    Seven chuckled mirthlessly.

    Krash's eyes narrowed. "Classy." He muttered under his breath, shooting a sharpened stare at Seven. "Fine. FWA North American Champion. One time. 328 days."

    "... Is that it?" Five asked after a brief pause. "I expected more from someone challenging Chris Kennedy."

    "Sorry to disappoint."

    "Kennedy is a five-time world champion, a former North American, X, & Tag Team champion. A Triple Crown & Grand Slam Champion." Six stated, squinting. "Not to downplay, but your resume hardly stacks up against his."

    "How many strikes is he at, Seven?" Three asked.

    "I've stopped counting." Seven replied, dismally throwing his pen and clipboard offscreen. "This is a lost cause. Why wouldn't they have gotten Sullivan to face Kennedy, or Gabrielle, or someone that actually stands a chance?"

    "Seven-"

    "SEVEN IS RIGHT - AGREEABLE - ACCURATE - CORRECT." One shrieked, painfully. "I GROW WEARY OF BEING TIED TO THIS COUNCIL. MY EXISTANCE AMOUNTING TO BEING LITTLE MORE THAN AN ASTERISK - ANNOTATION - FOOTNOTE IN THE SAGA OF THAT PIECE OF TRASH - CHRIS KENNEDY - THAT PIECE OF GARBAGE - CHRIS KENNEDY - THAT PIECE OF SHIT - CHRISTOPER - FUCKING - KENNEDY."

    "Alright! Alright!" Six waved his hands, vying for control as One's volcanic drone caused a crack to appear in his monitor. "This situation is not ideal, I get it! This year's choice leaves... Something to be desired."

    "I'm standing right here and can literally hear everything." Krash said, crossing his arms and tapping his foot.

    "I'm ready to make my judgement." Seven continued, unheeding. "This guy ain't it."

    Three sighed. "Seven, don't-

    "We have one chance a year to be freed from being nothing more than a mention in Kennedy's autobiography. And we're going to blow it on this guy?" Seven snorted. "A guy who's only credentials are one North American title reign, who spent his last few matches on the losing side, and who just got punked the fuck out by Kennedy. I vote nay."

    The vote sent a chorus of whispers between the other silhouettes, mutterings and murmurings... Until another, newer voice entered the fray.

    "You're getting ahead of yourself, Seven." Eight's monitor finally crackled to life, with a very familiar voice at the helm, and a very familiar silhouette gracing the screen.

    "Eight! You're late." Leftmost Two noted.

    "An' where the fuck 'ave you been?" Four echoed.

    "I had other matters to attend to." Eight replied, shifting an object on his shoulder, something that might've glinted in the light. "However, I'm familiar enough with Krash, his background, and his momentum that I'm confident that I'm aware of where things stand right now."

    "Is that so?" Rightmost Two leaned forward. "How well do you know this Krash fellow, Eight?"

    The silhouette of Eight seemed to stare down at Krash, boring deep into his soul. For his part, Krash stared right back, offering a charming smile.

    "Perhaps not as well as I thought I did, considering certain... actions as of late." Eight remarked. The smile fell from Krash's face. "However... I know him well enough to confirm that he's as much of a candidate to take on Kennedy as any of us."

    Seven scoffed.

    "Besides." Eight continued. "There is one final hearing we must undergo before we make our judgement. And that is the 'Why.' Krash, you were aware of the importance that came with this spot against Kennedy. The chance to turn history on it's head and break a streak bigger than anything else in FWA history. This is not a decision one makes lightly. Why did you accept the challenge?"

    Krash tapped a finger against the lapel of his waistcoat, finally ripping his eyes away from the silhouette of Eight, deep in thought. Seconds passed as he ran a hand through his slick black hair, before exhaling. "Because I haven't been who I've wanted to be."

    Three tilted his head in confusion. "I'm sorry?"

    "Ever since I stepped into FWA, I've felt like..." Krash paused, trying to find the right words. "Like I'm not me. I've been doing things, saying things that didn't feel right to who I am, but time and time again I've allowed my emotions, my sentimentalism, to override my other senses, and do something I... Well, not regret, per se, but something I could've done slightly differently. You know what I mean? I don't feel like me. And it all started with Chris Kennedy himself."

    "Go on." Five prodded gently after a pause. "Elaborate."

    Krash sat himself down on the cold floor, drumming his hands against it. "When I gave in and joined FWA, I wanted to start fresh. Start new. Be the person I wanted to be when I looked in the mirror each morning instead of what I see in it at night. Except... That fateful night of my debut, that didn't go how I imagined it. Kennedy was having one of his monologues, and he must've said something - even now I don't remember what - that set something off in my soul, and before I even knew what I was doing I rushed into the ring and beat the piss out of him without even a 'hello.' That's not who I wanted to be. I never wanted to be that kind of person, who attacks without even a word of greeting. But that's who I was. I want to be the hero. The courageous, affable man always willing to shake a hand, let bygones be bygones, and find something worth fighting for in everyone."

    "And..."

    "And I'm starting to worry that I'm not that man at all, and I never was. Because that same scenario keeps happening. I plan to do one thing, and end up doing another, justifying it to myself later under the guise of 'they'll understand,' 'it's for the better.' It all started when I let myself slip that fateful night in 2019, and me & Kennedy stood eye to eye for the first time. I think to myself, 'maybe if I conducted myself a little bit better, then I wouldn't be in this mess, I wouldn't be struggling to decide who I am, and I'd look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.' And then Kennedy goes and admits he was mentally checked out when we fought that first time, working without his heart in it, and it all clicks. I was lashing out because somehow, I realized that whatever victory I got over Kennedy wouldn't be legitimate. My FWA run started off tainted and can't be scrubbed clean. Not when his heart wasn't in it. Not when he'd up and leave for Japan the very next day, or when he'd only return for a one-off paycheck against Sulley. I had faced a shell of his former self, and unconsciously knew it. And ever since then, the knowledge has been poisoning my soul, festering within me and causing me to lash out at the worst times."

    "But Kennedy has now returned." Six said. "At 100%, he said."

    "Correct." Krash nodded. "And that's what I need. I need to beat Chris Kennedy when he's - at his own admission - 100%. No hangups. With it, I can get that fresh restart I never got, and start being who I want to be."

    "The motivation..." Six noted. "It's not revenge. It's not glory. It's a fresh restart. A betterment of self."

    Five whistled. "That's bold. Can we work with that?"

    "He's avoiding the pressure of the streak by making his goal more personal." Seven mumbled. "It's... unusual."

    Leftmost Two and Rightmost Two glanced at each other. "But unusual might be just what we need."

    Three glanced away. "Eight? What do you say?"

    The rest of the monitors fell silent, as Eight pensively ran a hand over his jaw. "As one of the only people in this room who have stepped up and faced you before, Krash... I stand by my statement. As unreliable as his momentum suggests, as dry as his resume states, I firmly believe that is there's anyone on the current roster who can withstand Kennedy's barrage and come out on the other side clean... It's you. I've watched you outlast and survive thirty men at once. I've watched you pick yourself up from a horrific fall, dust yourself off, and go back to work without a scratch. I've watched you stand beside someone who wanted you dead, and after a short conversation, he's now on your side. Time, and time, again. I learned it a long, long time ago - never count Krash out. And I think it's about time the rest of us learned it too. I vote aye."

    Ripples of conversation echoed through the monitors. "If Eight's so sure, then I am too." Six nodded. "I vote aye."

    Three sighed. "He's not my first choice. But he might be the best one we have. I vote aye."

    Four laughed. "Go on, lad. Score the upset, why the fuck not. We vote aye."

    Five stared impassively, before nodding. "Aye."

    Leftmost Two and Rightmost Two shared a quick glance, before speaking in unison. "Aye for us."

    "AYE - AYE - AYE - AYE -AYE." The five voices of One cried out, one after the other.

    The attention turned back to Seven, the sole dissent. He glanced beside him, fidgeting. But before he could speak, Krash stepped up.

    "I know I'm not ideal." He admitted, placing a hand against Seven's monitor. "I've spent a lot of my life not being ideal, I know the feeling. And I know you were hoping for... Something more. Someone with a bit more meat to their resume and a bit more momentum to swing. But I don't need a thick resume and a fire of momentum to burn the world down. I never did and never do. When that bell rings, everything that went on outside it doesn't matter. The losses, the momentum shifts, all of it goes out the window. Because there is no man on the planet who can build something from nothing like I can. If you truly want to be free from this council, to stop being a footnote in Kennedy's history, then there's one thing you need to do. Give me your blessing. Give me your faith. Give me your backing, and I swear to everything that's important to you, that Chris Kennedy and everything he stands for will go down."

    There was a long pause, as Seven digested these words, before he finally replied. "I vote aye."

    "The decision is unanimous." Six announced. "Krash, you have received the Council of Eight's blessing and approval. May your fire shine brighter than Chris Kennedys on the day of judgement. I would say best of luck at Back In Business, but..." Six shrugged.

    Five cleared his throat. "With that, this meeting is over. I hope I never see any of you again." And Five's monitor switched off. One by one, the others followed, until it was just Eight remaining.

    "Do what you do best, Krash." He nodded once. "Struggle, survive, and succeed. Just like I know you can." Then he, too, vanished.

    Silence reigned. Krash began to retreat, turning and exiting through the door, back into the reception area. The receptionist stood, waiting, sourly frowning as he tapped his clipboard. Krash glanced at him, trying to put a name to the face, but came up short.

    "I can't wait to watch you burn." The receptionist spat, before jerking his head to the chair Krash woke up in. "Same way you arrived. Go sit down, close your eyes, and you'll be back where you belong."

    Krash frowned, but at this point he was too tired to argue, and sat himself down. Just as he was about to close his eyes, he spotted a nametag left on the floor next to him. He squinted, reading, before shrugging.

    Council of Eight
    Receptionist
    AJ

    He closed his eyes.

    \~|~/


    He slowly reawoke, back in the ring. Back in a familiar land. Back at Fight Night: Curtain Call, slowly stirring to life. His head was being cradled, clasped, by a warm, comforting hand, as another stroked his hair gently. For the briefest of moments, Krash felt... At peace.

    The moment passed, as his eyes fluttered open. Bright overhead lights searing into him. A crowd cheering wildly. And Chris Kennedy, sitting above him as he stared out into the crowd, running his soft hands through Krash's hair. Chris idly sang, without a care in the world. Joyous. Relaxed. In control, in familiar territory once again. Unaware that all too soon, his world would come crashing down around him, piece by fabled piece, until he had nothing to mourn but the ashes of a once-great empire.

    But for now, Chris sang merrily onward.

    "It's a bittersweet symphony, this life..." He crowed, his wonderful, beautiful voice echoing in the wind.

    "Couldn't agree more, Chris." Krash whispered, before relapsing back into unconsciousness.






    Spoiler:



  13. #33
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    Re: Back in Business XV | Promo Thread



    MICHAEL GARCIA
    IN
    "TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME"


    The scene opens up with an old photograph style shot of Pittsburgh’s famed and revered, Three Rivers Stadium. Within moments, a voice very nearly resembling Morgan Freeman’s began to deliver a documentary style detailing the rich history of this majestic sports venue.

    Narrator: For three decades along the banks of the Allegheny River sat Three Rivers Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the second ballpark to be located across the river from downtown Pittsburgh as the Pirates had played at Exposition Park from 1890 to 1909. In June 1909 the Pirates moved to the neighborhood of Oakland and into Forbes Field. This steel and concrete ballpark was state of the art when built but began to show its age by the 1950s. Its seats were cramped, there was a lack of parking and was in general disrepair. As early as 1948, there was a proposal for a new municipal stadium for the Pirates and Steelers (NFL). Not until the 1950s did plans begin to take shape for a new facility. An original plan had a multipurpose stadium to be constructed over the Monongahela River that would have had the outfield open to the skyline of Pittsburgh, but was scrapped due to projected costs. In 1958 a site in the Northside region of Pittsburgh, where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio River was chosen to build a new stadium. Originally scheduled to open in the 1960s construction was delayed multiple times due to construction and financial issues. Construction of Three Rivers Stadium began on April 25, 1968.
    On July 17, 1970, in front of the largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in Pittsburgh, the Pirates played their first game at Three Rivers Stadium, a loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The thousands in attendance were no doubt eager to see legends such as WIllie Stargell, Bill Mazeroski, Dock Ellis and of course, Roberto Clemente. Many fans remember Clemente for his skills on the field, being the first Latin American player to start in the MLB, and to win a World Series in the MLB. But even more will remember for his work off the field. A humanitarian. Little did the people in attendance know, two years later, Clemente would tragically lose his life in an aviation accident bringing supplies to survivors of an earthquake in Nicaragua.Over for the opposition, many fans were excited to see their own brand of the “Big Red Machine” led by Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Lee May, Bobby Tolan and Pete Rose. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a joyous housewarming party for the new tenants as the Reds would go on to defeat the Pirates by a score of 3-2. Clemente would not record a hit on that day, as Dock Ellis would allow 12 hits. It was one year later that the Pirates would record their first of two World Series championships in this stadium. A rich history of a team that once lauded Honus Wagner, JAckie Robinson and Arky Vaughn was the pride of Pittsburgh.

    Many memories were held in that stadium. But no moment was as special as that time when a loving father took his son to his first baseball game. Catching their first baseball, buying that first pack of peanuts, celebrating that first victory. It was almost a sort of rite of passage. But some kids just aren’t that lucky to get that moment. Take our very own Michael Garcia, for example. A kid from the streets who grew up without a father. Often times Michael would dream about what it would be like to have this experience. Sharing this moment with his father, but alas, he could only dream.

    The camera fades away from that photo and we head to a scene where it’s gameday inside “Three Rivers Stadium” with a packed stadium as the Pittsburgh Pirates are in the middle of a battle with the Minnesota Twins. A young “Michael Garcia” is seen headed back to his seat, his arms trying to juggle a hotdog, a bag of peanuts, and a plastic tray of runny nachos. The elder “Miguel Garcia” followed behind with merely an IC Light and a program letting us know that the game was taking place on August 4th, 1994. The young Garcia was all smiles as he carefully pushed his way through the crowd to his seats. He nearly spilled his nachos as they tried to settle in. The little ‘Garcia’ was all decked out in his black and yellow as he sat up in his seat, awaiting the next inning eagerly. The classic ‘Charge’ music was being played to ramp up the crowd as the Pirates were facing a 2-1 deficit. While the on deck lineup of Jeff King, Al Martin and Andy Van Slyke wasn’t exactly inspiring, it was enough to ramp up an exuberant 6 year old at his first game.

    “Isn’t this awesome, Dad?” the little one asked with a bright infectious smile.

    “Sure is, son!” replied Mr. Garcia as he lit up a Castle Hall cigar, as if we were watching one of those 1950’s Leave it to Beaver style videos that portray a perfectly impossible world. The patriarch of the Garcia clan leaned in closer and put his arm around his little buddy. “Oh look, it’s the Pirate Parrot!”

    The entertaining green mascot was seen dancing on top of the bullpen as the drunk fans nearby were laughing their inebbriated asses off. The parrot quite literally shook his tail feather in the faces of the fans, and dodged a few beer cans from some of the others.The crowd grew more energized as the familiar sound of the Jolly Roger began to play over the speakers. The video board showed the sights of the Captain himself raising the flag of the Jolly Roger as the first mate frantically shoveled the coal into the engine at lightning speed. The Pirate Parrot stood tall in the Crows Nest, looking out through his spyglass at the high seas ahead, and back in the stadium, a 6 year old sat mesmerized, watching this all with sheer glee. As the video ended, the boy stood up as King walked up to the plate. The little fella began to cheer wildly, taking off his hat and spinning it around like it was one of those Terrible Towels he saw on TV! ‘Miguel’ sat back in his cheer, sipping on his beer, and enjoying the moment. Life was good. The only thing that could wake ‘Miguel’ out of this peace-filled state of mind was the crack of that bat. And that’s exactly what happened! The bat cracked hard and the crowd popped to their feet! Not having much of a moment to react, ‘Miguel’ quickly noticed the eyes of the fans in attendance all shifting slowly towards them! ‘Miguel’ happened to look up, just in time to see a white sphere descending quickly towards his skull! ‘Miguel’ didn’t even have a moment to pull his hands up, as he braced for impact...only to be hit first by a yellow fabric across the nose. After flinching, he refocused his vision and saw that the ball had fallen right into his son’s swooping hat! It took a second before he registered that King had just hit his 34th home run of the season, but more importantly, that his son had caught his first home run ball at a Pirates game. All was right with the world. Butterfly kisses and all that. ‘Michael’ turned around, his eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas, as he took the ball out of his grimy hat and excitedly showed it off to his proud papa. ‘Miguel’ embraced his son as the scene began to fade back to a Polaroid photo of that moment, laying on a beautifully furnished table.

    Narrator: It was moments like those that every little boy cherished, but not every boy experienced.

    The Polaroid photo began to fade to white, erasing the memory from existence. A pair of large typewriter like brown skinned hands slid the photograph off of the table as the camera panned out to show that we were inside a luxurious room with a buffet, numerous large screen TVs, several tables with black and yellow checkered chairs and a wall mural commemorating the 1927 World Series Champions. The man who had tossed aside the empty photograph was none other than the ‘Steel City Slayer’ Michael Garcia, who stood towering over the table. The camera did a 360 around Garcia, showing that he was facing out over the most beautiful ballpark in the world today, PNC Park. The bright kelly green field had fresh diamond marks on it but the most beautiful part of the view, as usual, was the majestic Pittsburgh skyline. The camera stopped when it got to Garcia’s back, showing an incredible image of the former champion, wearing a custom made pinstripe Garcia Pirates jersey, overlooking the city of Pittsburgh, sipping on a scotch on the rocks as he stood in his sublime nature. Garcia began to speak.

    Garcia: It was knowing that moments like those were afforded to so many little snot nosed bastards out there that have no idea how lucky they are to have those memories...it’s knowing that made me the man that I am today. It was…

    Garcia was stopped short of his next observation by a knock at the door.

    “Let him in.” he ordered to the rent-a-cop at the door.

    A clean cut caucasian man in his mid-50’s walked through the door, dressed in an Armani tailored suit, complete with matching cufflinks. The sharp dressed man studied his surroundings, slightly impressed with what he saw. He took a few steps forward as Garcia turned towards him, a sly smile creeping upon his face.Garcia looked him up and down, before extending a firm handshake to the elder man.

    Mr. ‘Knox’, I presume?” Garcia greeted as he showed some charm. “Or is it, Mr. Jagger?, I never know how these things go.”
    The patriarch of the Knox family chuckled a bit before replying,
    “Oh, my, yes...Jagger...I heard stories about that. Embarrassing, really.”

    “I can’t imagine, though I do imagine that you’re used to it with your boy. Please, have a seat.” suggested Garcia, pointing to the comfortable looking couch in the center of the room. “We’ve got plenty of time before the game starts. Let’s chat.”

    “I figured this wasn’t going to be a social call.”

    “Oh, on the contrary, that’s exactly what this is. Sit down, ‘Fred’. Have a drink. What’s your poison?”

    “You got Hennessy?”

    “Yo, Jenna! Bring my friend here a whiskey on the rocks, Hennessy, to be exact.”

    ‘Fred’ eases down into the sofa and leans back into the chair, not quite sure what to make of the situation. The bartender brings over the order that was requested and sets it on the table in front of them. ‘Fred’ gives a nod of appreciation before prodding the discussion.

    “So...I, umm, I hear that you are the young man that will be, shall we say, competing against my...against Kayden at one of his little wrestling events this weekend, is that right?

    Garcia’s fist tightened around his scotch when he heard the digs at the FWA, but he decided to grin and bear it for the greater good.

    “That’s right, Mr Knox. A few minor clarifications though. For one, I wont be “competing” against Kayden Knox. I’ll be fighting him.”

    “Oh, yes...yes, I know. That little choreographed stage fight Kayden does out there in his tights. Families proud, real proud.”

    “You’ll have to excuse me, Mr. Knox, for finding your opinions on what I do to be ignorant. Now, dont get me wrong I dont expect someone of your stature to truly understand the underground world of professional wrestling, but I assure you, what Kayden and I will be doing on Saturday, wont be wrestling. And it certainly wont be that ‘F’ word that we hate so much. No...no. There’s too much hostility between us for it to be anything but.”

    Those words seem to resonate between ‘Fred’s ears as he set down his glass on the cherry wood table.

    “You...hate my boy?”

    “I didn’t want to, Fred, but the little bastard just left me no choice. He’s such an unlikable little fucker.”

    “Now, let’s just hold on there a second…”

    “Annoying as shit….”

    “Well, he….”

    “A lifelong perennial fuck up.”

    ‘Fred” snapped his neck towards Garcia and snapped, “Now, you just wait one god damn minute! If you think I’m going to just let you sit here and run down my son….

    And I’m not going to get my shots in, you are sadly mistaken, my friend!”

    The two raise their glasses and toast this little bonding experience.

    “Well then, good sir...the microphone is yours. Go ahead. Tell me why you hate the dumbfuck loser.”

    Well, like you, it’s not that I wanted to hate Kayden. But he just makes it so damn hard, sometimes. Its’ like he has no idea how the real world works and he just wants to stay in his own little fantasy realm playing World of Warcraft or watching Hamilton all day. It’s like he’s just content to skirt his responsibilities, bury his head in the sand, and pretend that the world around him can just wait for him. You know, Mike...shit just don’t work like that! Kayden...he has no motivation to improve...to make something of himself!”

    “Was he always like this? I mean, I remember I was seven years old and having to raise my brothers and sister”

    “Kayden can’t even raise himself now. I tried, Mike. I tried when he was younger to put him on the straight and narrow, but it was just..everything he did...everything was a complete fucking disaster. Academics, he flunked out of Jr. High. Sports? I sat in the crowd for every embarrassing moment he ever displayed out there. Let’s see...there was the time he scored the winning goal for the other team in soccer. Not to be outdone by the time, he threw a pitch right at the batter’s junk in baseball. Oh, and of course, our crowning achievement...that moment when he was given the final shot in the Oakdale High basketball and quite literally pissed his pants. It’s just hard...hard raising a kid like that.”

    “I’d like to say I can only imagine but the truth of the matter is, ‘Fred”, I know exactly what it’s like. I’ve been dealing with these exact same failures for the past year. I’ll let you in on a little secret, old man, I actually went to the board and told them that I saw potential in your boy. I told them that we could make this...outstanding team. I know the hatred he had for you for trying to better him, and I thought I could channel that. Use that energy to create this unstoppable force that would just take the FWA by storm. But I truly underestimated just how useless your boy really is…”

    “It’s sad, really. I wish I could have done more…”

    “Don’t blame yourself, Fred. You did what you could. You’re a good Dad. Some people...people like Kayden...they dont want to be helped. Some people are just content in being who they are. Never growing. Never accepting responsibility. You did well, Fred. Kayden Knox is not your fault. The only person to blame for what Kayden Knox turned out to be is Kayden Knox himself.The thing is, Fred….now I have to pick up where you left off. I have to become Kayden’s...new daddy...now. I have to pick up the responsibility of correcting Kayden Knox for his actions and behaviors. I have to accept the responsibility of making Kayden Knox a better man. I have to be the man that makes certain that Kayden Knox is held accountable for his wrongdoings.

    Fred...Kayden Knox told me of the way you would punish him when he went down the wrong path. Now, I’ve always been a firm believer in ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ so I appreciate a good swat on the ass when a child is acting up. Never did me wrong when Theresa would leave a bright red handprint right on my behind. And I know you believed in the same damn thing. I heard all about how he hid in the closet when he heard you walking up the steps, knowing that that belt was coming off and he was going to feel the sting.”

    “Did he tell you about the tears that would stream down his face after each and every lashing? Did he tell you about his pathetic screams for me to stop, calling out for his mommy? Did he tell you about the stains I’d find in his clothes while doing the laundry the very next night? Did he tell you how embarrassed I was of him? My own son? Did he tell you about how I’d look at his cousins, his classmates, the other kids in town and think ‘Why God, Why did I get burdened with this pathetic piece of trash? Did he tell you that?”

    “It must have been so hard on you…” Garcia thought out loud, swirling the ice in his drink.

    “It is….it really is. And no one...no one gets it. They want to label me a bad father, a deadbeat dad...All I wanted was for my boy to be...normal! Is that too much to ask?”


    Garcia leans in, placing a comforting arm around ‘Fred’s shoulder.

    “Of course it isn’t, Fred, of course it isn’t! They don’t understand you, Fred. They don’t understand us! People like us, Fred, we hold people to a higher standard! We expect greatness because we ourselves exude greatness! I am a former FWA World Heavyweight Champion, ‘Fred’, I am the gold standard in this company. I do not condone failure. I do not allow failure. So when I brought your boy on board with my group, and I made him apart of the Michael Garcia brand, I expected him to rise to the occassion! And much like he did to you, many, many times, he shit the bed.”

    In my case, literally.”

    “So now...Fred...this is where it gets good. You see, this ‘match’...hell, no, this fight that Kayden and I are going to have isn’t just any fight. No, this is gonna be what we call a ‘Strap Match”. And I can tell ya the rules later, but all you need to know for now is that I am going to literally be taking over where you left off 20 years ago. At BAck in Business, I get the oh-so-rewarding experience of taking one giant leather strap and literally, lashing your son until his body turns a shade of red that Crayola may not have even named yet. I get to whip your son, pulling away gashes of skin, flesh and tissue, in which I rub the salt from his whiny bitch ass tears! I get to take his blood, wipe it on my chest as a symbol, to remind Kayden of his consistent failures and glaring shortcomings! And then I will wrap it around and his neck, and squeeze every last drop of oxygen, that he never deserved to breathe, out of his worthless body!

    And the best part, Fred, is that I’ll be doing it all in front of you. Because I’m inviting you, as my personal guest, to sit at ringside and watch as I complete the job that you tried so hard to do. I want you to know the feeling just once of what it’s like to watch your boy embarrass himself but this time, it’s for your entertainment! I want you to be able to see first hand that Kayden Knox is going to get his comeuppance for everytime he’s embarrassed you, and far more importantly, for every time he’s fucked up one of my opportunities! I only hope Kayden knows the magnitude of the beating that’s coming to him. I only hope that he’s spent the past several weeks hiding in the closet, knowing that daddy’s home and the belt is coming off! I hope he fucking knows that there is NOWHERE he can hide on this entire fucking Earth in which I won’t find him! He’s spent the last two months hiding from me, but at Back in Business, with this strap wrapped around our wrists, he wont be able to get the fuck away from me!”

    Garcia seems to have gone off the rails there, but is brought back to reality by the National Anthem playing on the field. He calms himself down as the song wraps up, ‘Fred’ standing in salute of the flag.

    “You’re gonna make ‘em bleed, eh?” says ‘Fred’ as he steps out closer to the glass overlooking the field.

    “Brother, he’s gonna need a fucking transfusion. You may not even recognize your boy when it’s all said and done.” says Mike, following him up there.

    “Not a bad thing, there...Mikey. Be doin’ him a favor. Say I got some tickets up at Lambeau this year, if you ever want to catch a game, give me a call”

    Garcia’s eyes lit up like the child in the non-existant memory.
    “You really mean it?”

    “Of course, I do, Mikey. Now when do those Pierogies race? Soon, I…”

    “Hold up, hold up, hold up...Do you hear it?”

    Garcia turned an ear out to the crowd, and smiled at Fred, who smiled back. The two joined in, arms draped over each others shoulder, in unison though very much off key, as the crowd could be heard faintly singing in the background.

    “Take me out to the ballgame….
    Take me out to the crowd…
    Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack…
    I don’t care if I ever get back…
    So lets root, root, root for the PIIIIIIIIIRATES…
    If they dont win its a shame…
    For it’s ONE...TWO….THREE strikes youre out
    At the OLD BALL GAME…”


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