Business meetings never fit my style. I hated sitting in board rooms handling my problems. They felt stuffy and overplayed. Everyone dressed up in their stuffy suits, ties, tried to maintain professional standards. It never felt natural to me. However, I knew I had a problem that I needed to deal with after War Games. I spent hours rewatching this one scene. Watching what went wrong in the match. I kept playing the scene over and over again in my head for the last couple of weeks and I needed to handle my issues with Noah Hanson to find success. It was time to hold one of these so-called business meetings.
But I would do it my way.
I sat in the middle of Pin Setters; one of the most popular bowling alleys in Tampa Bay. Patiently, I waited for Noah Hanson to return with my credit card. I owed the bastard after giving him grief for years, especially these last few weeks. Guilt quaked at my soul after finally taking the pain medication prescribed to me that I kept refusing. Most of the pain subsided after a few days, but everything still remained fuzzy. Occasionally I felt like I lived in a tunnel with a throbbing headache. But my attitude changed. I got ahold of the anger and rage that flowed through me after getting passed up by Lee and Mike Best. Pain stopped controlling my temper and every inch of guilt and frustration died. I returned to my jovial disposition towards life. I realized I alienated someone I considered a secondary father and I wanted to make it right. I needed to make it right if I wanted to regain the HOW World Tag Team Championships.
As I continue to look down towards my cell phone back at the old photographs of PWX and of my career of Noah Hanson; I heard a loud plastic thud on the table. A familiar poignant smell wafts in my general direction and frustration sets in. I look up seeing Noah with a glass in his hand and my face scowls.
Darin Zion: Really? Killians? You had to buy beer right in front of me after you know I’m a recovering alcoholic and junkie? It’s killing me inside right now.
Noah Hanson: I have to drink something to take the edge off. I honestly don’t want to be here with you. I’m pissed that you allowed Lee to air the PWX library. I thought you had more class than that. And you had the audacity to drag me back into the Tag Team Title scene after I explicitly told you I was done with your ass after you called me Ole’ Yeller?
Darin Zion: I didn’t Noah. You think after all these years I would force your hand and go behind your damn back after the last few weeks? I know I’ve been an asshole. I treated you unfairly. But I fucking know The Best Family. Those assholes want to cause us as much grief and torment as possible doing the exact opposite we ask them to do.
Noah rolls his eyes and downs his first glass of Killians Red Irish Ale. He shoots me a rather dirty look. I can tell he thinks I’m bullshitting him this time. He holds his tongue as he walks off and grabs himself a bowling ball. He looks back at me while he’s at the rack and sighs.
Noah Hanson: Let’s just get this shit over with. I hate bowling; I hate your annoying mouth and I only came here because you’re paying my way after all these years of mentorship with free beer and free food. Finally you show some gratitude.
Noah walks past me towards the console and types our names: Hanson and Asshole…lovely start to this evening for me. He starts the game and lobs the bowling ball straight up in the air. It flies halfway down the lane before crashing against the lane and knocking down 9 pins. He shrugs it off and waits for his ball.
Darin Zion: Amateur! Bet you can’t hit that last pin!
Noah shoots me the bird before chucking the ball down the lanes again and flipping me the bird as he passes right by me, sits in his chair, and crosses his arms. I paused and stared at him for a moment, rather perplexed. He continues to give me the cold shoulder and I take a deep breath and walk up to pick up my purple bowling ball. I take a moment to line up on the left side of the lanes, calculating the oil ratio on Noah’s ball as I pass by the ball rack. I line up my stance, hit a 4 step approach, roll the ball down the lane and hit a strike. As Asshole displays on the screen for the world to see, Noah looks rather confused on. He starts to open up.
Noah Hanson: Didn’t know you could bowl, kid. You’d think after all these years you’d tell me something like that.
Darin Zion: It never came up in conversation. There’s a lot you still don’t know about me, ‘Dad.’ You’ve only seen the flaws your kid puts forth. You haven’t taken the time to peel back the layers of the onion. Then again, I rarely let anyone in on my past.
Noah Hanson: What do you mean?
Darin Zion: I joined a bowling league when I grew up to escape from my abusive step dad’s house. I needed out from time to time; so I took all the allowance to my name; joined up; and practiced my craft. I actually spent time learning the ins and outs of bowling. I wanted to go pro before finding my love for wrestling, but I always ended up choking. I couldn’t make the high school team and here I am today…the wreck and the mess standing in front of you.
Hanson’s eyebrows perked up loosening up from a couple of drinks. He still didn’t care as he rushed up to the line and chucked the ball again and hit the gutter. As he lined up for his second shot, the food bar people brought down our pizza and set it on the table. I grab a couple of plates and set up our food as he finished his turn missing the spare. Hanson awkwardly sat down at the table just downing his pizza trying to make the best of this awkward situation. He sat far down at the end of the table as I looked shocked at him. He focused on the pizza for a few moments before looking up seeing me sitting at the end of the table. He wanted me far away from him.
Noah Hanson: Go bowl! Remember I want out of here.
I closed my eyes for a moment, taking a deep breath. My gulp rang loudly through my head. I tensed up and walk towards him, got right up in his face. I rested my arm on his shoulder and finally let it out.
Darin Zion: I’m sorry I cost us the Tag Team Championships.
Noah froze for a moment, not knowing how to react. I locked eyes with him as he took it all in. No lectures, no prompting; I owned a mistake. It had gotten easier to own mistakes over the last few months growing into a mature individual that didn’t hide behind alcohol and drugs for his stupidity. Hell, right now, I wanted to use the excuse of the concussion. But I knew I’d lie to myself. The pit in my stomach wouldn’t let me do that again. I pulled up a chair as Noah listened intently to me rambling.
Darin Zion: My pride got in the way. I let our OCW squabble carry over in the opener of the match. I thought I could take on the world myself after getting passed up for another World Championship shot. I didn’t try to forge the bonds we once had to conquer the tag team division like we could have done. I’ve always operated as a lone wolf outside of my friendship with Brian Hollywood. Anyone else in some form or fashion; I’ve always treated…expendable. I thought I didn’t need you. I blatantly showed you disrespect. But I’ve feared letting anyone in. After Hollywood stabbed me in the back all those years ago; why would I want to trust anyone else in that ring? Even someone I consider a second father.
Silence echoes for a moment while Noah continues to just reflect in the moment. He reaches for his beer and downs his second glass. He doesn’t know how to react in this moment. As he just sits and stares, I pull up a couple of wrapped boxes in blue and black: the colors of PWX. I never wanted to reflect on the past; but I knew how much it meant to Noah and his generation. I absolutely hated reflecting on the cold, hard past I experienced. I wanted to bury it to grow in my career in HOW, forge new memories. But I knew I needed to get on the same page as Hanson to win him back. He looks at it rather confused.
Darin Zion: Look I got you a gift. I got a little extra money on the PWX deal outside of the donation to the charity Lee and I created. I could have saved all of it to get my life back on track without doing any hard work. But I thought it was time to do some investing in someone who invested in me. Go ahead. Open it! It’s not a prank.
Hanson opened it to find a new set of ring gear with black and white font. He first pulled out a Black set of Long Tights with Pariah’s old logo with NH on it. Around the legs barbed wire covered it. On the back side the words stuck out: The Dying Breed. Next, he pulled out the signature Pariah Arrow style hoodie he wore made into a vest with the same design on the back only with the color scheme reversed. His jaw drops as my eyes light up.
Noah Hanson: You bought us tag team ring gear? Really? You sure alright in the head, Zion? That concussion didn’t change you in THAT way, right? You know I don’t like you THAT way, Zion.
Darin Zion: It’s stupid I know. It’s a token of my appreciation, but honestly, I’m swallowing my pride with this one. You know I hate reflecting on the past, Noah…
Noah Hanson: Right, but Pariah inspired gear? He meant a lot to my career.
Darin Zion: As he did mine. But it’s the only thing in the last few months we can agree on. We both miss Pariah terribly and he brought us together in the first place. You know it’s what he would have wanted us to do. He would want us to put ourselves in check and win the HOW Tag Team Championship to make him proud.
Noah Hanson: This still doesn’t make up for all your stupid shit you’ve pulled the last few weeks. You’ve got a long way to go.
Darin Zion: I didn’t expect to buy my redemption from my sins. I did it as a token of appreciation. Maybe we wear this one match and go our separate ways because you can’t trust me any more. But we need a kick in the right direction if we want to make up for the past. We have a chance to win back titles we both lost before hand. Maybe if we started acting like a team instead of fighting a bickering; we can beat those damn Rotten Eggs.
Noah rolls his eyes at my joke. He lets out a giant sigh. He looks rather confused and unsure after all this.
Darin Zion: Look, I understand I haven’t exactly earned your trust, I know we have a long way to go to find our common ground again. But I think it’s time we tap into our past and our friendship to beat the eGG Bandits. We’ve known each other for nearly 15 years now. Our chemistry is bar none the best out of any teams in HOW. It’s had its rough patches, but we can win. If we lose and you don’t want to continue this team, it won’t disappoint me. I am the one who let down the team last time. But this time, Noah, if you trust what I have up my sleeve; we will walk out the Tag Team Champions. What do you say?
I extend my hand out towards Noah dying on the inside rather he accepts the offer or not. I look at him for what seems like an eternity. He finishes his first slice of pizza, gets up out of the chair, and walks towards the lanes again.
Noah Hanson: Look kid, it’s past my bedtime. Either you finish your turn or I’m going to ruin your ‘perfect game’ you’ve got going on here.
I retract my hand and take a deep breath knowing he’s shirking me off. I hoped he wouldn’t leave me hanging, but with him changing the subject; I knew where I stood. I walk towards the lanes to finish up the game.
Darin Zion: Don’t you dare touch my score! Cardinal sin in bowling! We WILL have problems.
Noah rolls his eyes as I walk up to the lane to start my second frame. He grabs another slice of pizza and gets another beer as I roll my ball down the lanes to knock over nine pins. He laughs for a moment. I smile back at him, just hoping and praying that I could salvage our team chemistry before our match with the Egg Bandits.
“Zion is better than you. No doubt with your knee the way it is right now. But, he and Hanson are not better than us.”
When I walked back into HOW on Refueled I; I didn’t know what trajectory my career would take. I knew standing across the ring from Cool Jiles at that time; I feared him in every aspect. He channeled his cool powers from the Greek Gods. He had a chiseled muscular body. He had everything I lost when I stepped across the ring. Eventually through sheer luck and some skill, I barely came out with the win after I caught Jiles off guard and inverted his finisher into my own. I sat on Cloud 9 after advancing the HOW World Championship tournament. I felt untouchable in that moment.
Fast forward nearly 4 months and together him and Doozer capture the Tag Team Championships when I distracted myself with my qualms with Noah Hanson. The Egg Bandits did the impossible conquering 6 Tag Teams with former HOW World Champions and contenders to win the belts they’d guaranteed to win. Their chemistry alone was the perfect mixture. They had this godly chemistry none of the other teams possessed. Their sheer determination together made the perfect storm in that match. They fought hard; they powered through with their determination; they read each other’s thoughts. Their mischievous tactics allowed them to climb the pedestal to become championship material. They proved their worth.
I did not. I cost my team the match. I didn’t check my pride and ego at the door. I thought single-handedly; I could beat the Egg Bandits after outsmarting Cool Jiles in my first showing back. I thought I alone possessed the tools to conquer the Egg Bandits. I made a brash decision and it failed me. I distracted Hanson from the main goal. I bitched at him for no reason.
I cost Hanson and myself the Tag Team Championships by trying to have the spotlight on me.
On the outside; you see the perfect formula for an implosion again. HOW decided Hanson and Zion deserved another Tag Team Championship shot. On paper; The Bandits have an easy title defense on their hands. They’ve exercised the Free Bird rule while Jiles suffering a knee injury. Hanson and I could face any combination of their shenanigans: Dean and Doozer; Doozer and Jiles, or Jiles and Dean. We ultimately don’t know which ones we face. With Doozer trying to pull Dean to weight or lie about the numbers; we could face a three man team with the weight limit alone with no chemistry between Hanson and myself at the moment on paper they have the stats in their favor…
But they aren’t factoring in the intangibles!
I’ll admit hands down; the Bandits together are the toughest team in HOW right now. Pardon the terrible puns, but they’re tough Eggs to crack. We might not know what we’re walking into; but they’re counting us out. All I’ve heard out of the Egg Bandits camp is which Eggs will make up the God Damn dozen. They’re writing off Hanson and I like we’ve expired as a Tag Team. They think our egos won’t let us focus on their championships. They keep looking to the next Refueled making plans on grasping onto two championships at once. They think the glory and spotlight will continue to shine on their asses at the expense of me and Noah. They’re definitely right to do that. Over the past two years; Zion and Hanson as a combination have won 0 matches and lost the tag team championships for the former Sex and Money. They write off the history because we didn’t impress. We didn’t have the chemistry.
It’s time Noah and I write that wrong. It’s time to show Doozer his hypothesis is wrong.
If the Egg Bandits would spend their time on actually watching old PWX tapes in the HOW library before they march their lazy asses to that ring; they would see Hanson and Zion’s work in PWX. They would see we’ve known each other for 15 damn years. When we operate on the same page; our chemistry outmatches their own. We fought in the PWX equivalent of War Games together winning the match; watching each other’s backs, and destroying anyone that came in our way. They would know that trials better refine friendships than kissing each others asses all day like lovers. Throwing Eggs, pulling pranks and acting in overdrawn Notebook rip offs didn’t bring Hanson and I success as a team. Through the trials and tribulations of our friendship; it forged an unbreakable bond that made us inseparable. When PWX and HOW had off season; we spent time catching up with each other. I would travel down to Hanson’s house in KC and have BBQs. We didn’t brag or show off our friendship in egotistical ways trying to get the spotlight. We forged it because we never knew when we would step in the ring and go to War together. We forged our friendship to make sure we had our backs throughout our singles careers if we ever needed to do it. Sure, we acted like singles wrestlers, but we never imagined we would ever get an opportunity at Tag Team gold throughout our journey. We got stabbed too many times in the back to take it to the next level and become the Tag Team Champions.
Well, maybe it’s time one of us sucks up their pride to make that change.
I extended Hanson the olive branch. I apologized. I need him on the same page as me this time. I can’t do this alone without him. I sucked up hatred for the past and I made the sacrifice this time. I’m pulling out all the stops because this time; I want to walk out with the silver straps. I put us on the same ground, I put in the work, I named our team finally: The Dying Breed because in this day in age; our loyalty and our dedication are a dying breed. Many wrestlers forge alliances and friendships temporarily. Not Hanson and I! Together, we’ve built each others careers and gotten ourselves multiple championships through our mentorship with each other throughout the years.
It’s time to put ourselves on the same page.
It’s time to align the mojo and go through the transformation.
They can play their damn mind games of which two of the three we will face. They could throw in Jiles with his knee injury for all I care. This time Noah and I will be prepared. I’ve laid down the gauntlet. I’ve opened the door. I need my best friend to go to war.
It’s time we found our common ground and make something out of our Tag Team. It could be our last shot at these belts. And I’ll be damned if I let those fucking Egg Bandits outsmart us this time. They want to throw everything…we will throw it back twice as hard. They want to pull tricks out of their sleeves…well…maybe we have a trick up our sleeve too.
Either way…I don’t give a shit if they want to play or fight when Dean, Doozer, and Jiles walk their asses to that ring this week. Noah and I are coming to fight. We’re coming to wipe the 0-2 stigma off our record. We want to bring prestige back to the HOW Tag Team Championships. We don’t want those belts as props in shitty prop comedy segments. We’ve fought too long and too hard to grow Tag Team wrestling in our careers. Those belts were once stepping stones to greater things in HOW. They cement your legacy as a leader in this business. I’ll be damned if I fail yet another time under pressure from that gold.
Hanson and I will do ANYTHING to walk out with those belts around our waste. It’s a make or break for our team this week, Bandits. I’ve fiddle farted around HOW too long making mistakes giving up under pressure. I won’t make the same mistake again. I’m doing whatever it takes to walk out with one half of those HOW Tag belts around my waste this week. Mark my words; Bandits; your nameplates won’t grace those belts for long. After Refueled; The Dying Breed’s name will grace those belts.
It’s time to get my shit in order. It’s time to bring honor back to those belts. And this time, Bandits, I’ll do whatever it takes to win them with Hanson.
Whatever It takes….