“Noah! Noah! Noah! My good friend Noah!”
My loud voice echoes through the hallways of the HOW training facility outside of the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay, Florida. Noah Hanson bows his head down and ignores me. His face grows more and more visibly red with each passing second I stand in his presence. I’d fume with jealousy too if I stood in the glory of Zion. Many people would call it disdain or displeasure…but I know…you know how jealousy truly works. Noah Hanson sits down on the bench in the commons area. He places his wireless earbuds in, cranking up the music, blocking me out. Deep breathes! Can’t let his negative energy in! It’s time to make our peace. I’d tried calling him for hours over the last few days; but no responses. He loves the asshole button. He jams out, writing down all his work out notes as I slide next to him.
I slick back my hair as my leather pants squeak against the plastic chairs. The bright lights glisten off my gold chain. It pulls together my amazing new look: a sport coat with nostalgia t-shirt, sun glasses, and my extravagant chain I just got from a secret endorsement deal I’m working on. Carefully, I slide my arm behind Noah’s back and hug him. I pull his ear bud out and he shoots a glare my direction.
Noah Hanson: This better not waste my time. I’m tired of your ass burying me. I don’t want to deal with you right now. I’m tired and grown annoyed with your rambling.
Darin Zion: Chill! Chill! Look I’m sorry I was the best member of Sex and Money. My glory eclipsed your spotlight. I get it. I’d be jealous too.
Noah Hanson: Jealousy? That’s what you think this is? You’ve spent more time burying my name than selling our tag team. I did you a favor when Lee went around backstage telling people he was leaving your ass off the card. I hated walking into that office going to aid your attempts on getting on the card with your injured ass. I knew he would probably stick me with your pathetic ass. I didn’t want this tag team in the first place asshole. You showed no appreciation or remorse until now. Your concussion has affected you. You’re acting weird like Hollywood did when he suffered one.
I lift my sunglasses, raising my eyebrow perplexed. Noah didn’t get it. Old age slows your reflexes down…but not this much. Noah always understood me. We functioned on a second wave length until his hypocrisy got the best of him. Ever since I returned; it’s like we distanced ourselves and went different directions. Silence continued to awkwardly fill our gap as I continued to stare. He kept staring back waiting for some sort of gratitude for what he had done in my defining moment. Finally, I roll my eyes and let drop the facade.
Darin Zion: Noah, I’m enlightened. The concussion didn’t change me. I finally woke up from a timid haze. I let Lee walk over me and turn me into a welcoming mat. Just like you said, right? HOW became PWX. It outlived its shelf life. Lee got the band back together. He wanted the cash grab from all the nostalgia names. He didn’t care about his work horses like you or me. We were his dogs. He rewarded the “good boys” and led the “bad boys” to slaughter. I thought Lee wanted the true HOW to come back. But favoritism…
Noah grabbed my mouth and clinched it shut tightly. His eyes burned like a wildfire. Noah never silenced me. He took a deep breath and calmly spoke glaring directly into my eyes.
Noah Hanson: Favoritism didn’t play any part. You’re at fault. It’s never your fault was it Zion? When you failed at hosting a PWX reunion party; anxiety defaulted as your excuse. You let the memory of Pariah die when he died. When you lost any championship belt in HOW; you blamed poor officials. Hell, I watched your last promo. You buried me for our first tag team championship loss. Did you forget your damn mouth cost us the belts because you pissed of Jace? Let’s not forget you pulled the same stunts in PWX when your ass first walked in the door. You never took any ownership of your shortcomings. You’re the one to blame for every mistake in your career. That’s why I want to sit my ass out. You single handedly made me doubt coming back because you’re acting worse than I ever did beating up Curt Cannon. You’re acting like that self-entitled price Jace.
Anger crept up on me like a spider and bit me hard. Hatred radiated from my aura. I wanted to choke the life out of Old Yeller right on the spot, but my reason spoke to me. Noah released my lips. He sat back and studied my reaction. I take a couple of deep breaths in and return my zen. I sarcastically shoot him a smile, chuckling, letting his words slide off me.
Darin Zion: Fair enough. That’s your opinion. You’re entitled to your opinion. I’ll write that off old person wear and tear. I understand Noah. I’ve wronged you. But we both know I need you to win and become the HOW Tag Team Champions…
Noah Hanson: We need each other. WE! Learn plural pronouns.
Darin Zion: W-W-W-W-W-I need you…
Noah Hanson: Better! You’re starting to regain some of your motor skills in learning. Hope your medicine is finally starting to kick in and give you an attitude adjustment. I need the old Zion back for this match.
Darin Zion: We do need to be on the same page, Noah. I miss those days when you understood me. When you saw that passion and didn’t mistake it for any ulterior motives. You read my mind. I read yours. We lost that connection along the way. I saw your promo and it hit me hard. I felt like we missed those days where we collectively could tear the damn house down. I’ve been hard on you, I understand I’m not always the most tolerable person. I know you’ve struggled with your return and I’ve acted like an ass hat.
Noah Hanson: Damn right you have!
Darin Zion: Anyways, I brought you something back from Comic Con. I wanted to show you I had no hard feelings.
Noah gets taken back for a moment with my empathy. Noah laughs begrudgingly at me, lowering his guard slightly. His eyes showed differently. He didn’t trust me. I couldn’t blame him. I would do the same thing.
Noah Hanson: Stupid nerd! Can’t you ever pull your head out of those damn comic books. Just like Pariah. Never focused on anything but fantasy.
Darin Zion: Well I wanted to show you the good ole days’! Smitty! Get your ass in here!!!
My personal assistant from my newest endorsement comes in holding a chicken shaped balloon, a 20 piece KFC drumstick meal, and a Colonel Sanders Pop Funko. Good ole times from Sex and Money. Those days when Noah seemed lost. When Hollywood and I led Sex and Money; his creation when he lost all desire to put any effort into his mentees. Those days when he rode our coattails. The disdain in my heart showed within my smile. It curled across my face. Noah reaches over, grabs the chicken and tosses it across the room. He leaps up from his chair barking at me at the top of his lungs.
Noah Hanson: Fucking knew it! You have you gone crazy! You’ve become as delusional as Brian Hollywood. You’ve lost your ever living damn mind. I bet your damn doctor didn’t even do his fucking CAT Scan right. Scott Stevens could have done a better job at diagnosing you than that idiot.
Darin Zion: What? I brought you lunch. I got you the collectible you asked for over texts for months.
Noah Hanson: You insulted me with an old dead joke like everyone in the locker room did. How dare you! How dare you take that shot at me You’ve gone too damn far, Zion. I protected your ass for years. I always assume positive intentions. I show you love and respect when everyone else points and laughs at your ass wondering what other face of Zion will come out. You act like a 2 year old kid. You lack common sense. Your concussion has turned you into a toddler. What would Pariah say? Pariah would spit in your face right now. It’s why Lee Best didn’t select your ass. Your emotions control you. Your concussion defines you now. You live in a delusional land of Fisher Price. You’ve lost your screws. Pariah would want you to check your ass at the door just Lee Best does. But no! Keep playing like you smell burning toast. Keep acting stupid and blaming everyone else. You’ve become the worthless pathetic Zion that Norcia…
*SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! SLAP!*
I finally snapped. I caught Hanson off guard with a stiff chop across his mouth and took him down to the floor. I mount him and lay stiff slap after slap across his face. I scream in a primal rage. Years of anguish and torture completely fly out every second with each passing slap. I stutter and speak with each slap across Hanson’s face when I talk.
Darin Zion: I AM NOT WORTHLESS. I AM NOT CONCUSSED. I’M STILL ME DAMNIT! I’M STILL FUCKING ME. I’ve been trapped for 3 damn years sedated and those shots to the head freed me. It’s all my frustration and pain coming out at once. I don’t know how to control it!
The shock hit me. I hit my mentor, my best friend after so many years. I laid into him and before officials ran to pull me away; I pull myself away and stick my hands up. They stand behind me as Noah gets up, looking at me in complete and utter shock. Hanson scoffs for a moment as he brushes himself off. Horror fills my face. Noah starts walking off, but I turn scream out.
Darin Zion: I’m sorry, Noah. I don’t need a tag team partner. I don’t need a friend either. I need someone to go to war and fight ruthlessly. Someone who wants to restore order in this business. And I don’t see the old Noah back yet. I don’t see the Noah I pridefully desired to become. I don’t see your ruthless, vicious streak you lacked. You’re too busy craving my friendship like a broken puppy dog without a home. You think shaking rookie’s hands and showing respect. I need the Hanson that cracked heads, broke bones and didn’t give a shit about empathy. You once took no prisoners and conquered two organizations. But now you’re a wallowed, destroyed worthless dog. You show compassion and heart for those you wrestle. I despise what you became. You have your confidence. But you lack a spine! That’s why I’ll become the Tag Team Champions and you’ll rot like Hollywood. You hold me back from achieving my goal in holding some gold at the end of War Games; and I’ll put you down like I put Hollywood down in winning my first War Games.
Noah stops right in front of me, grabs my face and squeezes it once again with his eyes filled with venom. He puts his head up against my head and locks his eyes dead on with mine.
Noah Hanson: Fuck you! It’s too late for that. I’m sticking by my decision. I’m not helping your ass. It’s time the master teaches the student. You think your hot stuff. Fine. Fight them all yourself. I refuse to help your ass. I refuse to be your God damn scapegoat. You want to take that L. I washed my hands of your ass. You patronized me for the last time. This sealed it. You came back teaching me tough love. It’s time for me to teach you some. I’m letting your ass rot like those eggs the Egg Bandits throw around. Anyone pulls me in…I’ll kick their ass and sit my ass back on the outside watching your ‘glorious’ asshole ‘show us all up.’ You will fall flat on your face.
When everyone else picks you limb from limb…maybe I’ll sneak my ass up that cage; grab the belts, and show you why I’m not washed up. I’ll show you why I still have an undefeated streak unlike your worthless ass. I’ll upstage you and teach you the lesson Pariah should have taught you and Lee is teaching you. Learn respect you stupid fucking mark! You worthless ring rat! This show isn’t all about your egotistical ass. It’s about everyone who puts their neck on the line for these fans. I accept my failure in teaching your ass. Now it’s time you accept the fact you’ve failed our friendship like Brian Hollywood.
Noah shoves my face away and storms off. I brush myself as officially hold me back and create a barrier between Hanson and me. The audacity of Hanson! He dares speak to your future Tag Team Champions like that. He dares get mad at the truth. I wanted to set him free. To enlighten him! But deep down. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I felt sorrow for slapping him. I felt…sympathy. Maybe his words finally gutted me. Maybe I finally could listen. I walk off shaking my head on what I had done.
Lost my mind, have I, Jedi Master? Cookies short am I?
You don’t realize you’ve played exactly into my hand, Hanson.
You can’t trust anyone in this business. They’ve always got the happy dagger to your back waiting for you to make one mistake and kill you. I made the mistake of trusting Noah Hanson. I waited for this moment when he would turn his back to me. He wouldn’t support me. He wouldn’t accept truth in his life. I loved that man with all my heart. He was the father I never had. He took me under his wing. I credited him with all my championship wins. I spread my wings once….ONCE…and yet…
He doesn’t realize the paradigm has shifted. I’ve gained control. It took one mistake to bring me back to reality. One instance where my emotions left me. And…
My stubbornness awoke me. I went too far. I destroyed Noah Hanson’s will. Yet he would have done the same damn thing to me.
You say you don’t belong in HOW. You sit behind a camera letting your emotions control your destiny. Yet you’ve made made strides from the moment you kicked down the door and returned. You think because you have years of experience behind your belt; you’ve grown immune to criticism. You haven’t. I remember the times when I sat saying the same damn thing in PWX thinking I didn’t belong. I didn’t deserve to share the ring with Michael Norcia. I didn’t deserve leading a locker room. You lambasted me. You roughed me up. You cut straight into my heart, pissed me off; and I took flight from every piece of advice. I conquered that criticism and doubt in my own mind.
Deep down; I want the same for you.
I wanted to come at this promo accusing you; blaming you for every single mistake I’ve made. I realize after letting a few days pass my bitterness took the wrong form. I sit back after a few hours realizing; deep down; you were right. You warned me Lee Best would stab me in the back and would take my talents for granted. He would write them off. I blamed you for every single mistake burying your name under the sun. I let my ego get the best of me.
I’ve been sedated for 3 damn years. I allowed it to happen. I became soft. They wanted me to come back and shake hands and kiss babies. They wanted me to show the respect I never showed. They dangled carrots in front of my face promising the sun. I believe them. I worked my ass off torching my past. Every single moment, it ate at me because I’ve had one goal in mind since returning: restoring Order to HOW.
Winning a HOW Championship once meant you fought your ass off. You stayed loyal. You didn’t leave to gain a bigger payday. I miss those days. It brought me back to our glory days in PWX. Then they shoved us both back together. Right after I got my bell rang by the Lonesome Loser. They carted me in, embarrassed my hard work and let 3 years of sitting on the side lines dedicating my time, my effort, my energy into a greater vision. I wanted to restore the true glory days of HOW. I wanted to offend. I destroy. I wanted to mark my dominance and prove my first 3 years weren’t a fluke. Like you believed.
But you just don’t understand it..
You’re pissed off when I came back to slap sense into you. I wanted your ass back in HOW. I wanted that aggressive, mean Noah Hanson I saw years ago to come in and establish dominance. I thought at the time I wanted you to show respect and stand for moral good. But in reality, I wanted your seriousness back in all that anger. I went hard on you because maybe deep down inside…I hated myself for knowing you were right.
I wouldn’t blame you for sitting this one out. I’d do the same.
I’m not begging you to return to this match. Hell, I’m not cutting this promo to beg for forgiveness. These…obessions…..keep controlling me Noah. All my emotions escaped me. I lost all control.
You wouldn’t have let it come to this. You would have never hidden your emotions. You’d take it out on the ring on every opponent and keep serious. You’d keep calm and cool, not acting like a brash idiot. I wished many years I’d have that same collected mind set. But as time went on; I realize we were meant to complement each other.
But I meant what I said…I don’t need a tag partner. I don’t need a friend…I need a revolutionary. I need a partner to match my seriousness when I step into that ring. Because we both know; these idiots don’t value these tag team championships. Look at the Egg Bandits. They’ve already assumed they’ve won these things because their segments drew. They got extreme amounts of air time and they damn well act like they already own the Tag Division. Selling rotten eggs to a crowd is easy. I’ve done it for years. LOD thinks their physical presence is enough to sell tag team belts.
But they don’t realize what’s about to happen.
Hell, Noah, I think you don’t realize what’s about to happen.
I might be a few eggs short in the carton right now. But maybe it’s time I make a deal with the devil. Maybe it’s time I show my cards. Maybe it’s time I let bygones be bygones. Let forgiveness take the wheel. It’s time to find that common ground again and try my damndest. I don’t expect you to believe as this concussion has enlightened me and hindered me.
But maybe it’s time I prove it.
It’s time to prove what a champion does. They make plans. They’re resourceful. They back up their words. It’s time to pool together some resources and make an impact instead of just talking and blowing smoke out of my ass. It’s time I put on the gloves and own those damn words that spewed out of my mouth. It’s time to give back to someone who I betrayed their trust and embarrassed publicly.
However, I will not swallow my pride. I meant what I said because…I want the Old Noah back. I want you to feel my anger. I want you to seek justice. I want you to see how pride transforms you and molds you into something more powerful. Feel it powering you. Every ounce of you wants revenge on me. You sat out due to spite. That’s just the beginning of your transformation.
Maybe I held my cards back until I saw you snap. Maybe I wanted to watch you lose your mind. I wanted doubt to creep up to feed that anger…the anger that once made you tick. I might have gone too far in slapping you. But it pissed you off more, and now you feel what I feel. You see what I see. You understand every jaded emotion I felt when Lee Best ripped my chance to hang with the legends of HOW. I could prove why I almost won War Games. Why I’ve won it once before! How I hung with legends. But no…they wanted to kill that pride. They wanted to feed the anger more. Now it was my turn to play the puppeteer and feed your anger and your doubt.
Just like you fed my pride and nurtured it. You taught me to write those checks my ass couldn’t cash. You taught me to back up every damn word in that ring that I would singlehandedly become the tag team champions. I don’t blame you for my pride. I thank you for it. You sharpened it…you grew it…you bred it. You made me what I am today.
Rather I win or lose; you won’t become the scapegoat, Noah. You have a choice to make yourself. I will shifted HOW’s Paradigm at War Games. I sold my soul to the devil in HOW himself. I sold it to re-image HOW in OUR image. To mold it into what you wanted me to become since our days in PWX. You wanted me to have a spine and stand up for myself. Now I do. Now I get revenge on those who shit on our accomplishments after all these years. I don’t expect you to believe this promise. You feel just as jaded as I did. You feel disrespected and downtrodden.
Your weakness is your strength now…should you decide to awaken.
The real Zion’s now awake. Every bitter fiber; every angry cell; every jaded sensation all focused on one thing. Gaining HOW gold.
I want the same enlightenment for you Noah.
I will become Tag Team Champions.
You too can become Tag Team Champions.
We all could become Tag Team Champions. Yes I said we.
But now you see I haven’t lost my mind; that I’ve played the part and kept the cards at my sleeve; I’m sorry I kept it hidden. I’m sorry I broke you. But I needed that brokenness in this match. I needed your vile to return. Because it’s now time to seize the day, Noah. It’s time for us to win the HOW Tag Team Championships. It’s time to start the revolution. It’s time for us to make waves and do what we once did before.
It’s time to take the validation and glory that everyone desires for ourselves and once again become HOW Tag Team Champions. You can sit out and let the bitterness fuel you more. Or accept what I’ve done for you, Noah. Accept the tough love and seize the day.
My methods are fucked up, but my intentions were not. Like I said in OCW and I say in HOW still. I love you 3000. Look at your first promo. You had it all right. You knew in that moment. You knew in that single solitary moment, Noah, this was all an act. And you of all people know good actors put on fronts.
At War Games…you will see, Noah. You may not understand Noah. But put your faith in me. You will see. They will all see. It’s time to burn it down. It’s time to restore order. It’s time to truly go to war.