Elevator music rushes rapidly through my head. I lay back on the comfortable leather couch trying to relax. The faint smell of lavender makes me want to puke. I don’t seek peace with myself any longer. I know who I am. I lost every sense of my being the moment I lost HOW 3 years ago. I sold out, I killed my own confidence and I became the welcoming mat to Lee Best. My mind kept flashing back to my win against Stevens. Fluke or not; I beat another World Champion. I conquered more World Champions than any member in the main event of War Games. I defeated the unstoppable Eric Dane. I ranked higher than 70% of anyone in War Games. I enlightened myself with every victory. No longer did I feel timid or bashful about my past. It defined me. It awoke every jaded feeling I felt came into High Octane Wrestling. It fueled my anger.
I kept scanning around the room seeing posters like “Watch Your Thoughts; They Become Your Destiny” and other positive encouraging bullshit. Every self help book sat on the shelves collecting dust. Titles like “Live Your Best Life Now”. Bullshit! You don’t live your best life now. You seize the day! You don’t let anyone define you. People enjoy using you as their door mat. They take advantage of you even when you take responsibility for your past actions. I learned that on my own. Once I absolutely loved sacrificing my time to attend therapy sessions. After the last two weeks I no longer give a shit regarding therapy. I fixed my problems. I stopped taking the medicines they prescribed me keeping me calm. I tossed all their copied pages of reading in the trash can. My stomach cringed hearing the banal advice these men in suits continue throwing my direction. It was meaningless. I haven’t taken a sip of alcohol in months. I did that all on my own. I didn’t need the help of some person in a suit trying to sedate my personality.
An old, bald man clean shaven with spots on his skin walks into the room wearing his yellow sweater. He reminded me of Mr. Rogers grandfather. Obviously it was Dr. Clayton. He struggled to make it to his recliner. 70 years could break most men. He seemed kind and gentle. I hated it. He straightened his bow tie and cleared his throat and researched his notes for a minute. I rolled my eyes and signed in complete protest. He looked at me rather cross eyed.
Dr. Clayton: You’ve had some issues with your employer recently and suffer from post concussion syndrome I see. Depression comes in all shapes and forms. I’ve heard wrestling’s a tough industry to navigate through. Your shelf life seems limited. The prime years of your career fly away quickly. I’ve seen other wrestlers who struggle to find their identities. You’ve struggled with drugs, alcohol, and now your anger comes through….
Darin Zion: You done giving an epilog of what you perceive a wrestling career should be?
Dr. Clayton: I’m just trying to…
Darin Zion: Trying to what? Brainwash me like the other masses you treat? Change me into a “good boy” who follows orders like your documentations outlines? I didn’t come on my own accord, Doc. HOW health officials forced me here on Lee’s dime to because ‘I spoke out of turn’ when I should show my ‘deepest gratitude’ for opening his bloodlust in power. They suspect it’s all my concussion. They’re all wrong. I’m enlightened now, liberated from my cage, flying around happily now that I’m not on the strings any more.
Dr. Clayton reaches for his old, worn out clipboard and jots notes intently listening to me ramble on. Deep in reflection, I lean back on the couch and allow my frustrations and anger continue to flow hoping this idiot would put down his clipboard.
Darin Zion: I fought valiantly for 3 years under Lee Best. I seized the day after his precious little nostalgia acts threw temper tantrums and left for UTAH. I ruined friendships to show him I fully committed to life outside my past. I watched friends die and I obsessed over some carrot getting dangled over my head for years. I’ve busted my ass; earned my place; became the first rookie to win a War Games match…nearly two if I didn’t let my guard down. How do I get repaid? I get teamed with an ancient relic named Noah Hanson who cost me tag team gold in the past. I don’t get the spotlight put on me. I get it taken away. I watch the life get sucked out of me when I outperform 70% of the members in the War Games match. And I’m not allowed to experience frustration. I have to ‘suck it up’ and ‘remain professional’ when Lee throws temper tantrums when I go perform other places to sharpen my game, yet I cannot.
I take a deep breath Dr. Clayton rests his pencil behind his ear. Dr. Clayton leans forward with his hands folded together. His shoulders rather relaxed. His smile tries to warm up my cold soul, but it’s rather ineffective. My face continues to remain red as I fix my sights on my ‘reward’ after all these years.
Dr. Clayton: It’s perfectly fine to experience frustration. You have unhealthy levels of it. You let it fester and define you. But that’s not why they sent you here, surprisingly. They need you to work out your problems with Noah Hanson. They want you to succeed. They know your potential as a tag team wrestler…
Darin Zion: Tag Team Wrestler? That’s all I am to Lee? After all these years of busting my ass winning 3 ICON Championship and an LSD Championship. I’ve won more singles gold than tag…but that’s it….
Dr. Clayton: They need you to perform and fill in the gaps. They know your…
Darin Zion: I’m a go to guy. The welcome mat! Sorry to keep interrupting you, but I’m worth more than that to them. I’m not some dog that performs tricks for them especially injured. I do that because I know my value…my worth. Teaming me with Noah Hanson kills my worth.
Dr. Clayton: Why is that?
Darin Zion: He cost me the tag team championships in the first place. When I walked into High Octane Wrestling; he relied on past tricks. He rested on his morals. He coasted to keep his ass relevant. When I came back to the wrestling industry; he spent time attacking a veteran for another wrestling company because he lost a match. He let his emotions get to him like pathetic old man. He wanted to live in the glory years. He taught me better. He taught me to respect this business and to respect myself. He told me when I knew it was time to teach him his own lessons to not be afraid to slap him with a dose of reality. I did just that. I beat his ass in OCW. I killed what past I had with him when he buried my name. And Lee teams me up with him. Tying one hand behind my back when I have to face tag teams like Scott Stevens and Johnny O’Dell…both ruthless good ole’ country boys waiting to prove their itch for gold.
The Egg Bandits who throw around jokes so casually the laughs they’re worth are german marks…but have experience holding HOW Tag Team gold. The LOD; the greatest threats in the tag team championship match with their blood lust for pain. Crash Rodriguez who beat me with my guard down and his fat worthless punching bag of a partner Boobs McGee. Then don’t get me started on my arch rival Brian Hollywood and Jace Savage. Hollywood’s a former HOW Champion and beat me many times. I already went into this match with a handicap…but this is ridiculous!!!!
Dr. Clayton: Yet the teams you face experience one thing: chemistry. They gel well together. They’ve had experience together. They know each other’s strategy. They’ve used their synergy to do more damage collectively than singularly. It’s an art form in the workplace many people forget.
Without hesitation, I reach into the back pack I brought and pull out the San Diego Comic Con Toucan Pop I purchased two weeks ago out and set it on the table. Dr. Clayton strokes his bare chin as I locked eyes with him. I lean forward motioning for him to lean in, whispering under my breath. Nonchalantly, I chuck shaking my head in disgust at the thought of forming any synergy with Noah Hanson. His past sins disgusted me.
Darin Zion: I bought this Pop Funko last week. It sits on this table doing exactly what I want it to do: collect dust looking good. I pulled it out to make my point. A worthless, capitalist themed plastic toy does better as a tag team partner than Noah Hanson. He stays out of my way. He doesn’t write checks his ass can’t cash. He never changes. He doesn’t beg for empathy like a bitch. He doesn’t try to overprotect me like a worthless parent. He lets me do my own thing never trying to steal the damn spotlight.
Dr. Clayton: Stop burying your partner! It will cost…
Darin Zion: Cost me what? I’ve stood up to the odds before. I know I’m in deep. I’m staring up at a nuclear bomb about ready to explode in my face. Like I don’t have any strategy like I haven’t before in a HOW ring. I’m a handicaped man in a handicapped match. You’re about to tell me I have no chance and I can’t make it out of fake War Games with any gold without trusting Noah Hanson and apologizing…
Dr. Clayton: First thing you’ve actually predicted correctly. You don’t have a chance. You have to rely on a partner and…
Darin Zion: Get held down like I’ve always been. I’ll get that cheap pat on the back for a nice performance. I’ll lose. Everyone in the backstage area will give me the participation ribbons, slaps on the back, and tell me I gave it all the good ole’ college try. I’m tired of that. I’ve settled for a mediocre career. I let people define me. I played their respect games. I jumped through the hoops. I won the proverbial matches and won favors for nothing. I did it all alone then. I can do it all alone now. I’m going to set history in this new era. I’ll win fake War Games. I’ll have MY name written on both Tag Team Championships. I’ll walk out with both belts alone. Noah can fight off everyone. But I’ll retrieve both belts…and I’ll do what he did to me back in 2015. I’ll steal his spotlight. I will become the HOW Tag Team Champions. I will hold two belts on my waist. I’ll wear more belts than Max Kael and Cecilworth Farthington combine. I’ll conquer everyone alone. I will open the show in memorable fashion and I will conquer another mountain alone.
Dr. Clayton’s head proverbially explodes. He’s not making any ground with my stubbornness. He rests his head against the palm of his hand. He reaches for his clipboard and jots down notes on his prescription pad. Angst covers his face as he worries about my health. He wants to order drug tests, medicine…the whole nine yards. He cannot figure it out. After he takes a couple deep breathes, he looks up with his frustrations glaring, staring daggers right into my soul.
Dr. Clayton: You need help, Zion. Acceptance should not lead you down this path. You have accepted your flaws in the past. But bitterness will not solve your problems. Apologize to Noah and be successful. Stop being so petty and…
Quickly, I grab the Toucan off the table I put it up to my ear. He ‘spoke to me.’ Manically I laugh, rolling my eyes back into my head shooting the doctor a dirty look.
Darin Zion: What’s that Toucan…you say I’ll be fine. I’ll realize my destiny.
Dr. Clayton: You’re losing it. Take this prescription and…
Darin Zion: They want me sedated…they don’t want me to experience freedom, my friend! They just want me to spew out thanks, love, and appreciation only building up my opponents and losing that fire and desire in my belly. We say no thank you, doc. We do not need your help. Toucan Sam and I will head on our merry way. I will become a double champion and I spit on the very vile words that Toucan Sam told me.
As Dr. Clayton tries to finish his thoughts; I slam the door in his face without hesitation and end the appointment.
It rather sickens me to hear all the hullabaloo regarding my entrance into the HOW Tag Team Championship match. People already have begun to write me off. Noah and Zion won’t mesh or bond. They’ll trip over each other bickering and fighting like children. I’ve lost my mind with this concussion and I need to properly take my happy ass out of the match. They’ve made fun of my condition of enlightenment when they begged and pleaded with me to find the darkest part of my soul for years. They wanted me to have true emotion. They begged me not to settle for mediocrity, sitting on Twitter spewing out worthless statements. They wanted me to find my spine and step up to the plate like the old Darin Zion.
But when people ask and receive their requests; my how the mighty backtrack and throw shade.
“He’s rebooted a thousand times.”
“What’s his next change?”
What if I told you…this is who I’ve really been the entire time. I’ve laid my obsession over fame and fortune in HOW dormant. That I never took my mind off the prize from the moment I stepped back into the ring. I craved fame and fortune. I desired attention. I wanted to seize that spotlight and make Lee Best proud, grasping good ole’ 97red tight in my hands, smelling the leather, and rubbing it in all the doubters faces that I belonged in this company. I had erased the stigma of the past with all my hard work and dedication to the HOW craft. I wanted to show my pride off for this company; eagerly waiting for the lights to flip back on and get back to work for 3 years. I sat behind a desk desperately refreshing the page at HO Wrestling dot com. I signed my return contract quickly and wanted to hit the front lines.
And I get repaid with the stains of terrible bullet holes and moldy chicken for all my loyalty.
It’s easy for me to get distracted. I’ll admit my flaws and mistakes countless times before people throw it in my face. I’m obsessed with earning my damn spot. I’ll jump through 15 hoops before even getting the focused task. I got overly excited and overly angry in the past like some annoying dog on the side streets begging everyone to take him home.
But getting this match hits me straight in the heart.
It’s like getting handed a participation trophy and telling me I won when I didn’t. It’s like handing me a pile of Mega Bloks telling me their real Legos. The pain shoots straight down in the heart.
Yet for me it’s the greatest opportunity ever.
You all write off the Tag Team division like it’s second place. But it’s where I began my first reign of terror in HOW. I came in, knocked the door down with Brian Hollywood and Noah Hanson and we stripped those damn belts clean off the waists of Jon Sektor and Scott Stevens. We took down two HOW legends within 3 months of storming the damn building. These belts held more meaning when I held them the first time when they main evented shows because people wanted to shut my ass up. It took Project Ego throwing my ass in a handicap match with Ole Yeller Hanson to strip me of these belts…
But the original team of Hollywood and Zion never lost them. We never got the deserved rematch and by all accounts, we should still hold these belts because the Freebird rule got forced on us politically.
But I don’t have the experience. I’ve never fought alone. I’ve never had disagreements with tag partners and won contests before…I guess these rookies need education…
I’m Darin Zion…I’ve done the impossible. I don’t need Noah Hanson’s help to win these tag belts. I’m the man who over the last 7 shows conquered Cool Jiles, 3 former World Champions both inside and outside the HOW ring, and fought valiantly barely coming up short on two occasions by pride and by a cheap ass bell shot. I’ve single handedly won more gold than 99% of these people outside of Brian Hollywood. By all accounts, I should be fighting for the HOW World Championship. But now…HOW just fueled my ego more.
I open this show. I make the first impressions. I get to set the bar, the STANDARD for this evening. I will steal the spotlight from the real War Games match. I will single handedly take on ten other men who team together using my brains and my strategy with or without a concussion. These men I face have pedigrees. They’re real challenges. Many are legends like Kostoff, Witness, and Hollywood. They’ve held HOW gold more times than not. Some hunger for the spotlight like myself like Stevens and O’Dell. Others continue to pave their ways in HOW like the Egg Bandits, Crash, and Boobs McGee.
But there’s one difference between all of them and me.
I take this match seriously. I might throw tantrums, gripe, and complain; but when I step into the ring; it’s all business. I won’t throw eggs around for cheap puns. I wrestle my ass off. I don’t need gimmicks to fuel my morale and push me further like greek gods. I don’t act like an agoraphobic prideful rich fuck who received hand out after handout and lost his will to fight. Yet all I hear about is how I need to focus on mending my relationship with Noah Hanson. I need a tride and true ‘friend’ to watch my back.
But I certainly don’t need some old washed up legend watching out for my back in this match.
In HOW; you don’t trust anyone. You let your guard down once and someone has the pen ready to destroy your eye socket. I’ve made that mistake multiple times. I’m tired of it. I’m no longer gullible. I’ve watched teams like Bobbinette Carey and Mario Maurako get forced together and win it as singles wrestlers. I certainly can do the same.
At War Games, it’s my time to step out and set this anger free. It’s time to make every wrestler feel every single word I spewed in tweets or promo the last few weeks. Come War Games you will feel every ounce of disappointment that Darin Zion, conqueror of 2 HOW World Champions takes the Tag Belts. You will all be embarrassed that Darin Zion, a man with a concussion on a warpath, beat you. You will watch me raise those Tag Team Championships above my head proudly alone. And you will watch me make those two belts more prestigious than the two singles belts we have activated.
It’s time someone treated these belts for their true worth.
It’s time someone took pride in their damn work.
It’s time for Darin Zion to become the only singles wrestler to win the Tag Team Championships.
And I guess Noah Hanson can manage me afterwards…if he’s lucky…
You will see I am not delusional. I speak as a prophet. I’m not coming in trying to glorify what most people perceive as a participation ribbon. I throw another notch in my championships. I will hold the HOW Tag Team Championships with pride. I want to usher in a new era that no one has seen. One where singles wrestlers can come for TWO championships instead of one. Where Tag Teams get the chance to outshine the World Champion when they take on someone enlightened, more open minded than most wrestlers. I’m a visionary. I want to give all wrestlers to the chance to out shine and outperform their oppressors. No longer will anyone have to open for these belts because they’re on the waist of a future HOW World Champion. Someone who takes full pride in any championship will hold these belts. I will breathe new life into Tag Team wrestling and mold it into the image of Zion. You will work your ass off to prove your worth to face me and my glory.
It all starts at War Games.
I will restore order. I will vanquish everyone’s perceived connotations of me. I will conquer two more former World Champions. And I will become greatness and mold the image of greatness in my own name.
And Noah Hanson and HOW will realize once and for all…they were the ones that truly held all the baggage.
This is my destiny and path to greatness. Drum it all up on Twitter. Tell the doctors to get the white jackets ready. I don’t care. This War Games I will establish my legacy. And I will conquer all those who oppose this vision. I will make my presence known and establish my reign as the true champions of HOW.