Long have seemed the days since we last checked in with Darin Zion. Two weeks has he sat in hibernation reflecting upon the unfortunate and unprepared loss he sustained to Max, taking the bitter metal hook of defeat and insulation. We open up with Zion sitting in a tape library, continually watching two matches airing behind him: his match with Max Kael last week and the vary match he debuted in HOW. One thing continually looks different; Zion keeps rewinding and taking notes, looking at his own body language and studying his mistakes. He pulls out two or three notebooks just constantly reflecting back at every note in the book, pausing the match and rewinding it as needed.
Behind him the door cracks open and one of his gym trainers: Sean McCanter opens the door. Sean towers over Zion standing at nearly 6 feet, 7 inches built like a statue. He looks rather concerned with Zion who looks completely absorbed over the tapes he’s studied over the past two weeks.
Sean McCanter – “Don’t you think it’s time to come out and spend some time building up your endurance? You’ve only spent nearly 30 hours studying these two tapes in repeat. I can hear them echoing in the background when patrons work out. ”
Zion immediately shakes his head and shirks off Sean.
Darin Zion – “I can’t. Too busy; I’ve gotten a break through. I’ve had it for the last few weeks after spending time just looking back and reflecting on everything.”
Sean McCanter – “The wise old proverb says you can’t keep one foot in the past and one foot in the future otherwise you’ll get stuck and won’t take the two steps forward to get your journey started.”
Darin Zion – “I honestly don’t want to talk to you about it, Sean. Look I know you from our Celebrate Recovery group and I respect your accountability. I just need a moment right now. I don’t want to work out as hard because I crave alcohol and pain medication. I don’t want to break, and right now, I’m dealing with some emotional pain. Mickey…”
Sean McCanter – “Gave up because he didn’t see fruit from your actions. He meant a lot to you. Another friend out of your life because of one single fuck up. I get it man. You get tired of judgment. You’ve obsessed about it nearly a thousand times.”
Darin Zion – “I will obsess about it 1000 times more if you don’t let me spend more alone time in here. I don’t want to push my body right now. I’m angry and disappointed. I can’t keep letting people in my life down like this. I need to come to terms with this. I need to grow. Please give me some space.”
Sean shakes his head as he closes the door behind him. Darin rolls his eyes just frustrated with people. He’d constantly faced bombardment since two losses hit him at once. You could clearly see the focus and determination in his heart. He’d let a great friend and mentor down: one of the few people who spent a lengthy amount of time building back up his self confidence. But anger fueled Zion. He didn’t want to look back in that moment. He just wanted to move on. As the finale of the last match ends while the loop continues of his play list; Zion reaches for the remote control and mutes the video. He pulled out his notes once last time researching them before grabbing his camcorder and flipped it on. He flips the position of the chair with the back facing the camera. Relaxing, he lays his arms at his sides and takes a deep breath looking straight ahead at it with his frustration. He couldn’t come up with the words for a moment, but he turned down just began speaking from the heart.
“Oh my God, Zion finally speaks. He once again he’s late to the party with his sand bags and keeps building the wall higher and higher for himself. I kid but joking aside I’m sure many people have wondered what happened to Zion for the last two weeks. He can’t remain silent after losing such an important match. Those people probably licked their chops waiting for me to throw out angry tirade after angry tirade talking where I groan in regards to High Octane Wrestling’s status two weeks in. We all know I spent nearly two weeks letting The Empire absolutely piss me off to the point where we both broke character. I’m sure everyone’s waited for Zion to check the boxes of predictability Max Kael outlines where I’d throw a temper tantrum and ‘break the script’ to a T like I used to do bitching how everyone’s not treating me fairly. Others probably hoped I’d hung up the boots and retired and gone the way side after losing this tournament. Hell, I’m sure there’s another set of the crowd waiting for me to no sell my failures. All formulaic Zion responses over the last five years of my career promising I would come chasing after a title that eluded me for the last three years of my life.
Well that’s not happening!”
Zion pauses for a moment and picks up his phone. You can tell he feels empty almost like he’s missed the action for a few weeks. However, without a second hesitation, he tosses it behind him remembering what happened the last time.
” I liberated myself over the past couple weeks. I deleted Twitter off my phone. I decided to take Will Rogers’ greatest advice to heart and not miss the chance to shut up. I heeded Chaim Potok in his book called The Chosen. He states ‘I’ve begun to realize that you can listen to listen and learn from it. It has a quality and dimension all of its own.’. Sarah Dessen even goes as far as mentioning the loud volumes silence speaks to people. Most of High Octane Wrestling knows me as the man quick to pick up my phone and immediately tweet my anger. I let anger control me to the point it costs me everything. I sat back and spent hours reflecting on my actions holding myself accountable for the first time in my entire career. I can hear a few hearts out there stopping in the middle of their tracks. Hell, I’m sure as any member of the Best Family listens to my promo; I can hear their hearts stopping in their chests. ”
Zion pauses looking rather reluctantly towards the ground. Uncomfortably, you see him shifting back and forth in the chair he sits in struggling once again to say the words that pain him. His mouth scrunches towards one side of his face shaking his head. He takes in a deep breath and sighs.
“I broke kayfabe and I made went into business for myself. I own it this time. I acted like the baby brother of this family and ran like my mouth off like a little bitch. I call myself HOW’s baby brother at times because that’s how I feel. I came in with no connections. I spent time in the slums of wrestling acting like I was cool shit trying to emulate what I deem is cool because I’ve craved attention. I wanted people to notice me for a change instead of providing HOW with the talents that made me famous in PWX. I saw this edgy product and wanted to act tough and try to get my moment in the spotlight doing the same thing everyone else did to get to the top. I wanted to follow the formula everyone else did instead of paving my own path because I crave instant gratification.”
For the first time, confidence restores to the desolate Zion. He posture firms up. He takes pride in his appearance adjusting his hair as he speaks. His tone grows louder as he continues to speak. He doesn’t dodge eye contact with the camera and begins to welcome it. His motions become more fluid and animated as he speaks.
“Well, I’m tired of playing the part of the stupid baby brother who doesn’t quite understand his peers try to hold him accountable, but honestly; I don’t think a lot of people understand how I work. In the background, you can clearly see two matches playing on repeat: Max Kael vs myself and my debut match against Scottywood. I’ve sat in front of these two televisions for hours and hours trying to study and understand myself better. I’ll be honest after enrolling myself in therapy nearly six months ago to better understand my anxiety; I still can’t tell you all the details where it all goes wrong. I overreact; I jump the gun, I don’t assume positive intent, and I rush to action without a thought in the world. I don’t comprehend basic common sense with my anger and it always is my weaknesses. I shoot immediately and get pissed off when people gut me. Maybe it’s because I obsess over my own flaws constantly. I play them on repeat over and over.
Kick back for a minute and imagine losing a person you absolutely loved but never could connect with say like a father or a sibling or in my case John Pariah. Imagine every single time you interacted with them you two fought until they died. You couldn’t go back in time to apologize for all the mean words you said or the harm you caused them. You can’t invent time travel or steal a time stone. What’s done is done. Most people struggle with their shortcomings for years but eventually recover. Slap a side of depression and anxiety on it and increase that volume 7000% and turn press the repeat button to infinite loop and you have great exaggeration that somewhat depicts Darin Zion. You could tell me those mistakes and the moment I realize I’ve wronged you and it shatters me. Do that publically without trying to invest with me and that’s breaking my heart. I feel betrayed, I get soft and it’s immediately off to the races.
I’m not seeking a pity party. I’m not seeking attention by sitting here and I don’t give a shit if you think that makes me soft. I came here to earn my respect and learn lessons along the way. I won’t follow any more formulas. I have to be the first Darin Zion. I’m not crass and hard hearted like Mike Best. I’m not vicious and cold blooded like Max Kael. I’m not a defeatist like others. I’m coming to terms with things I’ve learned. I’m Darin Zion. I’m not perfect and the journey to that glorious 97Red will take longer. I’m growing. I’m not getting better over night. I’ve got rust in my armor. I have weak spots I haven’t taken into consideration. But I’m helluva lot different from the Zion who stepped into this ring nearly 5 years ago. I’ve grown. I vividly remember five years ago when I picked up my Twitter one day when bored and buried the fuck out of Scottywood to the point he brought in Frankie the Camera Guy because I annoyed the fuck out of him. I disrespected the hell out of HOW. I shit on the every champion. My confidence hadn’t gotten shaken. I didn’t let shit get to me and I kept burying talent left and right without a single care in the world.”
Zion pauses for a moment and lets the clip of him with Sex and Money coming down in his corner air across the television. You look at the arrogance and cocky attitude oozing from him compared to the more wise and mature him now. While the vigor and determination look the same, you see the amount of respect of HOW’s lineage Zion has now after experiencing it for two periods over the course of five years. You feel Zion’s passion for every moment of history he experience: from the departures of all it’s legends at once to taking the torture and trying to rebuild it to the lessons he’s learned now. Defeat doesn’t christen his face once: only pride, loyalty, and satisfaction.
“Why do I go back to this point in history?
I have a choice to make. I could turn back into the sniveling piece of shit I became after I went on a losing streak with JPD and in 4CW because I didn’t care about this business; I could turn back into the Zion of old right now and bury the fuck out of this company because I fucked up and act like an overconfident annoying prick like the past; or I could pick my sorry ass off the concrete and fight angry.
I chose fighting angry.
Early 2010’s Wichita State University got tired of getting overlooked because they sat in a terrible conference in college basketball. Their coach unified them and told them to play through their emotions. They coined ‘play angry’ to rally their school, their fans, and the nation behind their efforts. It worked so well they almost went an entire season undefeated and only got stopped by the NCAA champions of that year: Kentucky. I don’t want to sit back in mediocrity like Max Kael stated. I can’t discount Scottywood in our match. We’ve both changed in the course of 5 years. We absolutely hated each other’s guts. I called him a jobber. He buried me where to the point of associating Legos to my name. I came into HOW nearly unstoppable only losing a handful of matches gaining championship after championship climbing up to where I sit now. Scottywood, while loyal, finally won the World Championship and turned his career around after losing to some dumb PWX kid who walked into the door through Twitter. He scratched and clawed his way up to the championship he deserved. He’s put countless hours into this company even to the point where I earned his respect. He’s bled, sweat, and remained loyal through all the trial and tribulations. Both of us remained loyal to people who never respected us over our entire careers never giving us any dues. We’ve hooked and crooked our ways around this business sure. But in the end; we both fought to earn the respect of one another. We both want to earn our chance at the winner of this tournament and gain momentum. We’re both going to fight hard. I cannot discount him one iota like I did with Max.
Scotty, I know you’re desperate to get a hold of that championship and dominate this division. You won’t stop at anything including our friendship we’ve culminated. I know you won’t discount me like Dane, Jiles, or any other person would. You won’t write me off as a dumb ass kid and toy around with me. You will fight for survival to get that championship. I don’t blame you Scotty. I’m coming to our match to do. You thought our first encounter you underestimated; trust me when I say; imagine fighting me now. I’m focused, determined, and harnessed my self-anger and self-disappointment. I’m going to throw my heart into this match. I might have softened and lost the edge, but I’m different. Just because I won our first and only encounter doesn’t mean I’m looking past you. Scotty, I know you’ll bring everything. I will too. I’m fighting to win respect back. I’m fighting to gain that momentum to prove to Lee exactly why he gave this dumb young ass kid from PWX a high pay out like you. I will throw my anger, disappointment, and rage out in the match that I’ve kept locked up on repeat for two weeks on end. And in the end, Scotty, I plan on coming out on top of our match the winner.
I won’t look back. I won’t fuck up again. I won’t skid down the aisle like everyone anticipates me to do. I’m picking up the pieces, I will fight angry; and I will put myself into contention for the first shot at 97red. Rather anyone else likes it or not; that’s my destiny. Sure it’s a long road with trials and tribulations, but I expect you to absolutely make me prove myself worthy. You will fight hard. You will break me, but in the end, Scotty, rather you or anyone else believes it or not I will hold the cards in my favor and I will eventually be raising the HOW World Championship above my head and I will earn my place here in HOW. They say everyone’s journey faces twists, turns, torture and turbulence. I’ve shared my fair share of that, but after I defeat Scottywood this week: it will all be worth it.”
Zion stands up and grabs the camera, plugs it in, and uploads the promo straight towards the High Octane Website. A great weight lifts off his shoulders. He feels lighter after he put his emotions and struggles into the video. He reaches for the door and Sean stumbles into the room. Zion immediately smirks knowing he has a friend looking out for him and pats him on the back while muttering ‘thank you’ as he walks out to his next session of endurance training.