They Come in Threes
”So, guess who you’re facing in your first match?”
Eric Dane smiles that broad ONLY STAR smile as only he can as he saunters into the room.
Dan Ryan grunts. He hates guessing games.
“I hate guessing games. Who is it?”
“All I’m gonna say is — I hope you like sloppy seconds.”
Ryan stiffens up.
“Be very careful with your next sentence, because it might end up being the last conversation we ever have.”
Dane chuckles. “Joey Conrad, of course.”
Ryan would spit take here if he was drinking something. Instead, he stifles a laugh and turns away, giving himself a moment, then turns back around.
“Oh. Great. That’s a fine opponent.”
Dane plops a bag down on a table and digs around inside.
“Also, I almost forgot. Here, this shit’s been collecting dust at my place.” Dane hands over a big gold belt to Ryan. “I never lost it, just for the record.”
Ryan takes it, chuckles, and tosses it on the sofa. “I know. We all know.”
Dane shrugs. “Just making sure.”
Ryan walks past Dane to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Gulf of Mexico. Dane flips the strap of his bag back up over his shoulder and heads toward the door. Ryan gives a quick glance over his shoulder, then peers back through the window and down to the marina below.
“Make sure you get with Lindsay at the show tonight. I’m pretty sure the two of you still have some things to discuss.”
Now it’s Dane’s turn to grunt, and he does so as he reaches the door and opens it.
“I can’t wait. You know this isn’t easy for me, right?”
Ryan doesn’t turn around as he replies.
“I know. But it’ll be worth it. Trust me.”
Dane sighs as he starts through the doorway.
“I guess we’ll find out.”
The door clicks shut as Ryan holds his spot for a few more seconds. His gaze scans the view outside his window once more before he turns and heads to the living area…
Turns out, you don’t Fuck DEFIANCE.
DEFIANCE fucks you.
Stretched out on a fabulously plush leather sofa high up in the penthouse suite of the Don CeSar hotel in St. Petersburg is Dan Ryan, humble wrestling superstar, generous tipper and friend to most animals. The posture is somewhat nonchalant, but not careless — oh no — more of practiced confidence born of experience and a distinct lack of interest in what you think about him.
In one hand is a drink — nothing fancy — the contents of which are immaterial. The other arm is out to the side over the back of the sofa, his hulking frame bringing the top of the sofa to just under armpit level.
Oh man — Joey Conrad. This is indeed quite a treat. You know, I don’t really want to get into the monotony of the things people usually say when they first sign on to a big company like this. Do you know me, do I know you, do they know us, my history, yours, your stupid uneducated sounding accent, my sophisticated Texas millionaire accent (yes, that’s a thing). You’ve won this, I’ve won that, Guy Ritchie sucks, Martin Scorcese doesn’t. You know, all the usual stuff.
But I’m not gonna lie, kid.
I’m excited as fuck that you’re my first opponent. I mean, I really really can’t tell you how giddy this makes me.
Technically you know, I signed my deal with HOW about a month and a half ago. So I’ve had a little time to sit back, get a feel for the lay of the land and check things out. I watched you lose to Lindsay, which was great. Then I watched you say some really…. really stupid shit to Eric Dane. Then, I watched you lose to him as well.
And that must have been very embarrassing for you.
You got your dick all hard over defending HOW against Eric Dane and DEFIANCE — a fight that’s been over for years — then ranted and raved like a madman about standing up against this scourge. Meanwhile, every single other person around the company greeted your crusade with the loudest chorus of crickets I’ve ever seen, neither giving one fuck or having one ounce of interest in being defended by you. It seems the collective roster and management of HOW would rather do just about anything other than playing out your fantasy about being a leader of men. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to find anyone who even cares to give you the time of day to talk about it. Calling yourself a soldier doesn’t exactly make you one, does it?
But when it came down to brass tacks, you told Eric Dane to get the fuck out and he calmly said no and then flicked you right off his shoulder.
In his best mocking voice.
‘Nobody else wants to put this old cunt in the ground Oxford-comma where he belongs? Fine. I’ll fucking do it.’ That’s what you said.
Seriously. Absolutely fucking hilarious.
Subsequently, Eric Dane beat you, joined me out here in St. Pete for some seafood, and we laughed out loud at you over a delicious meal. Dane even let me use his senior discount.
So now, having been assigned the awesome duty of facing me in this my debut match in HOW, you’ve decided to ditch all of that pesky preparation and go the Studio 54 route. Hookers, blow, skeezy talent agents. THE most stereotypically British pop culture references possible, because ‘also guys, I’m totally SUPER British’. I’m surprised there wasn’t a cutaway during which go-go dancers flailed their bodies around to The Deviants before snapping back to you as a segue. Maybe do us a favor now and then and wait at least four or five minutes before shoehorning another oh-em-gee look how British I am reference into your shit. We’re not gonna forget, I promise.
Another thing you probably won’t forget is how MONUMENTALLY stupid you are for choosing this of all weeks to throw your preparation out the window. There’s a one-armed bellboy downstairs in this very hotel who earlier while bringing my bags to my room, regaled me with a tale about how he used to be the personal assistant to the Sultan of Brunei but was fired for doing blow on the job. That bell boy has made better decisions affecting the upward mobility of his employment future than you just did.
I mean hey, I like a good party as much as the next 19-year-old frat boy. And if 19-year-old frat boy who COULD TOTALLY DOMINATE AT RUGBY IF I WANTED TO is the ambiance you’re going for, then well-fucking-done my friend. Well fucking done. But I’ve got news for you. ‘Couldn’t give less of a fuck’ only works in men who are more experienced and considerably more skilled than you. For example, I could probably pull of the ‘couldn’t give less of a fuck’ vibe if I really wanted to. Sometimes I fake it to make my opponents think I don’t respect them. It’s a mind game thing, you see. But the secret insight I’m gonna lend your little British ear today is this: I always give a fuck. Do you know why I always give a fuck? I always give a fuck because giving a fuck is what keeps me from finding myself in situations where I’m lounging around in a pool house after two embarrassing losses with a room full of randos. I’d say like Russell Brand in Get Him to the Greek, but that’s probably not nearly British enough for you.
You’ve learned all the moves; you’ve studied all the greats; you’ve studied all the tapes — things I highly doubt — but you haven’t studied me.
I really think you should.
If you had studied me, I think you’d find that this should probably be a pretty proud and exciting week for you. If you had studied me, I think you’d find that people who don’t study me have this weird tendency to spend time in emergency rooms, and they don’t allow hookers and blow in emergency rooms, little buddy.
So yes, full disclosure, I worked for DEFIANCE for some time. Well, when I say worked, what I really mean is won the big belt three times, joined and then sabotaged a UTA invasion, solidified the corporate survivability of the company going forward and bankrolled the place, both ensuring its financial viability going forward and making a nice little sum of royalties with every successful show and/or merchandise sale.
You know, no biggie.
Crazy thing. That was two years ago. I started there five years ago, at LEAST, and the DEFIANCE-HOW wars were already over THEN. Nobody knew or cared — not then, and certainly not now. Not us, not the HOW guys. Not anyone. I have a whole thesaurus full of alternative ways to say that if you need me to.
But I just want to be fair. I think you need to know that up front. Now I know and yes, I get it…..
Ryan nods sincerely.
Fuck DEFIANCE, right?
I know. Fuck DEFIANCE. Who knew that Refueled as an enterprise was not just about the restart of HOW, but also that the numbers after the title…. Refueled, Refueled: Two, and now Refueled: Three… were also a counting mechanism for the number of DEFIANCE legends who were to defeat you on successive shows? Something, isn’t it?
Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here as an employee of DEFIANCE. DEFIANCE is an independent entity that I don’t represent in my capacity as an HOW contracted employee, and I do take my responsibilities here very seriously. Not hookers and blow and early 2010s dance anthem seriously, but seriously.
So here’s the deal.
You’re on this search for self-discovery, in that you’re losing all the time and you don’t want to do that. I’m here to just, you know, kick some ass — as I do. So you and I are like two men… or, one man and you… at a crossroads. I don’t really want to screw with your personal development, so I’ll make you a promise. I won’t toy with you or make a fool of you in any way, so as not to embarrass you in front of these good people. I’ll just come out to the ring, give you a couple slaps about the head and shoulders, dump you on your head and be done with you. I don’t think anyone else who used to work for DEFIANCE is signing here, so this should be the end of your long dark national nightmare.
Losing to me?
Ryan holds his hands out with a shrug.
That shouldn’t interfere with this process of yours. After all, I’m with your new boy Kingsbury.
We just want to let you be yourself.