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Published: Written by: Darin Zion

Anger filled Darin Zion’s veins since Rumble at the Rock.  His forehead pulsed with it more than usual. No smile, no tears, no expression filled Zion’s face, but the blank stare in his eyes told you the entire story. Once again the circumstances let him down.  Stress, pressure, disappointment filled every fiber of his being as he sat down at Winston George’s Wrestle Hustle podcast located in his place of residence: sunny San Diego. Sweat poured down his face as the bright young, 24 year old wrestling enthusiast prepared to get his first words since Zion lost the HOW Tag Team Championships from the Industry.  Missing noticeably from the scene was Brian Hollywood towed in his red suit.

 

No one knew the thousands of thoughts stirring around in Zion’s head. All pointing towards one thing:  fear. Zion went down this road before when he first entered HOW with an undefeated streak. HOW officials finally announced the one match he dreaded from that moment he stepped into the HOW ring:  Brian Hollywood vs Darin Zion. He knew Hollywood fired on all cylinders at that time. Hollywood proved it time in and time out again. Both men had chips on their shoulders at the time. Hollywood getting tired of getting overlooked by HOW officials and Zion once with the bright eyed, bushy tailed hope that once beamed in his eyes at the future.  Zion hoped he wouldn’t have to face Brian Hollywood that one day. He knew it was inevitable in their future. Both of them fought to give it their all. But Hollywood fought harder. It pissed Zion off. Everything never sat the same after that day. Zion wanting to break out of Hollywood’s shadow. He didn’t want his pride to get in the way it did.  It led him to eliminate his best friend in War Games. It brought their war that tore down HOW. Zion looked past all that to finally make amends with his best friend.

 

But greed stood in his way this time.  He knew Lee and Mike goaded Scott Woodson into booking them against each other.  He knew the Bests had everything to do with this. They wanted to see any semblance of peace in Zion’s life crack.  They wanted him to give him, to break, to crack under the pressure.

 

Heroes never die

Gonna make it to the finish line

We know we survive

Even if we crawl to the finish line

I won’t believe it, underdog dreamin’

Don’t need no cheers, world’s gonna see it

Heroes never die

Gonna make it to the finish line”

 

Skillet’s “Finish Line” played over the air waves as the show started and Zion sat back with no words.  He lacked them because all the emotions that continued to overload his brain. Zion uncomfortably shifted in his chair as the African American Podcast sensation led the opening of his podcast.  Zion dreaded words. He tripped over them. He fumbled. He knew they would get in his way at securing HOW Gold and an opportunity against Max Kael for the HOW LSD Championship–a belt he once held valiantly and defended against the likes of John Sektor and Jace Parker Davidson to eventually fight against Hollywood.  Everywhere Zion looked, he kept thinking of the pressure…the pressure of breaking. Desperately, like a fish out of water, Zion wanted to speak, to let all those demons out of his head. He could hear his heart pounding inside his chest with each passing moment as the clips of many various wrestlers played and the introduction wrapped up.  Sweat began pouring down his face. His lips felt dry. Zion himself couldn’t put words to his feelings.

 

Winston George:  Welcome back my brothers from another mother.  It’s your boy, Winston here. We’ve got a lot on today’s Wrestle Hustle Podcast to cover, but do I have a scoop for you fellas.  It’s a rare occurrence we get wrestlers on our podcast. Let alone from one of the world’s greatest promotions in High Octane Wrestling.  They just finished up their Rumble at the Rock Pay Per View. And while the show has its critics online, I loved it.

 

Everything faded in the background as Zion closed his eyes taking deep breaths in and out.  He wanted to hyper ventilated. He gazed up to the sky as each second felt like years aging in his body.  He knew he would have to speak about the match. He knew he had to cut a promo on Brian Hollywood. He didn’t want that pressure.  He just wanted to get in the ring, fight, and give it his all like the good ole’ days. Days where Hollywood and him didn’t have the pressure on them.  Where one didn’t have to outshine the other. Where their egos and pride would get in the way. He knew those days Hollywood and him put more into their work climbing up to HOW.  Hollywood felt the same way that Zion did about wrestling in those days. The fans weren’t expendable…they meant everything to both men. Hollywood would lay his heart, blood, sweat and soul into the ring for the pride of the sport and not to end his career.  He didn’t want to go back to that. Zion’s body kept falling apart over the years as he finally became that grizzled old veteran he dreaded becoming. Winston enthusiastically began finishing his introduction and ZIon’s heart felt like it was about to explode. Zion kept doodling one single thing on the paper as the pressure kept getting to him:

 

ASTERISK!  ASTERISK! ASTERISK!

 

Winston George:  Enough about me and my feelings.  I have an exclusive. I managed to set up a meeting with this man’s agent.  I pried him away from his stay at Hollywood manor and got him back out to the beautiful beaches of San Diego to his hometown.  You love him. Some hate him. But everyone can’t forget him. He hasn’t spoken in weeks and today, he promised to finally be uncensored.  He’s a former HOW Tag Team Champion. He’s stepping up to face his toughest challenge in Brian Hollywood, and this man once had a hot streak in HOW.  He destroyed anything in his path. Now, he’s struggling and needs your love guys. He’s one of the hardest workers in the business and I know with uttmost confidence he will be the guy to go on to face Max Kael for the LSD Championship in the future…ladies and gentlemen, give it up for HOW’s own….DARIN ZION.

 

BOOM!  BOOM! BOOM!

 

Zion kept pounding the desk.  He kept staring off to the side like he saw a ghost.  His face became more pale. He went to try and open up his mouth.  Words didn’t form. Everything continued to flash from all his recent losses, all his failures at championships.  Everything he perceived any words would do to him. All he continued to see was that damn asterisk in front of him.  Everything transformed in front of him. Every primal instinct of survival wanted to kick in from where he wanted to kick Winston straight in the face and destroy the set to him passing out.  The pressure of just one more win: one more success kept eating at his stomach. Zion grabbed the water. All the emotions just circling around him driving him mad with each passing moment. Zion almost passed out when…..

 

???:  Quit putting pressure on Darin Zion.  You know what this man’s gone through.   God Damnit, Winston he will speak when he’s ready to speak and not on you or the fans fucking terms.

 

Out of nowhere Darin Zion’s agent and good old friend Shawn Lester rushes into the scene and stares a hole straight into Winston for hyping Zion’s words up.  Zion shakes his head in complete shock and awe as Lester came in to save the day.

 

Winston George:  I wanted to give the man his credit.  He’s got a hard match up in front of him.  He needs all the love and support…

 

Shawn Lester:  Shut up!  Zion doesn’t give a shit about those fans any more.  They’re the fans that turned their backs on him after he put nearly 15 years of his heart, soul, and passion into this business.  They’re the ones that took to Twitter to tell him to kill himself. They’re the same people that begged Zion for the same dog and trick pony show of speaking his damn mind and got him into this mess.  He’s caught up in his own damn head after that. You think for one single moment, Winston, he wants them cheering his name after Rumble at the Rock when he put his heart and soul into his Tag Team Championship match only to come up short.  After putting aside his differences with Brian Hollywood? And what does he get out of it?

 

Winston George:  Look, I know Zion’s entourage lately has been outspoken against HOW management prior to Scott Woodson taking over. But they respect this man.  They gave him a second chance at life. They gave him his job back.

 

Shawn Lester:  Only to pour more salt in his wounds.  They sullied his name, kept dangling carrots in front of Zion telling him he would amount to everything.  They turned him into a vegetable. You don’t think for one single minute that doesn’t piss me off? I watched this man grow over the course of 10 years of my life.  He invested time into me that no one else did. He joins up with some of his best friends and new friends in the business and he watched everyone crucify him over and over again until finally he snapped.  He lost it. He lost that once proud smile he once plastered on his face. You don’t think that pisses me off?

 

Lester’s face is turning red as Zion continues to recover.  He taps Lester on the shoulder trying to calm him down, but Lester is worked up in a rage.

 

Winston George:  Clearly we have a hater in here.  I didn’t ask for your comments.

 

Shawn Lester:  Well someone had to step up and fill in.  Your guest is about to pass out from all the pressure he’s got on his shoulders right now.  He just made amends with Brian Hollywood. They just got back on the same page. They’re both fighting to find their passion their footing, their love for this business; when Lee Best, Mike Best, and Scotty Woodson set up this match.  You don’t think after he’s faced back-to-back-to-back losses Zion’s not feeling pressure…check out his shirt under the hoodie; he’s clearly conveying how he feels.

 

Lester points towards the Asterisk that Zion’s worn on and off again the last few weeks.  Zion’s dirty, and disgusting body tells the whole tale as he continues to just sit in the chair, expressionless, almost becoming a shell of his former self.  Winston just rolls his eyes.

 

Winston George:  He’s a footnote.  We’ve heard the long tangients from Brian Hollywood…

 

Shawn Lester:  He’s showing each and everyone of you he needs help.  He’s a shell of his former self. Last time he fought Hollywood, he gave it his all.  He fought valiantly. He put his heart and soul into winning the HOW World Championship.  And when Zion put everything into it. Zion fell short. Now, as a shell. He fears this match.  He fears the damage that will come from it. He knows the sacrifice behind this match. It puts a strain on his friendship with Hollywood.  It took him to hell and back for the HOW World Championship. You don’t think Zion craves beating Hollywood deep down inside? It’s the one accomplishment he hasn’t chalked up on his boards.  It’s the crux of all his asterisks. It put the initial 1 loss in his starting streak. You think for one minute this match isn’t eating him up inside?

 

Winston scratches his chin for a moment completely mesmerized by Lester’s take.  Winston never stepped foot into the ring. He hadn’t experienced what sacrifices. He doesn’t know what it means lay it all down for the gold.  Zion’s anxiety slowly starts to fade. Color returns to his face and he sits up and attentively nods as Lester speaks as a smile comes across his face.

 

Winston George:  I haven’t stepped into that ring.  I can’t speak to how Mr. Zion feels.   I know I had to scratch and claw to get this podcast to take off.

 

Shawn Lester:  He’s done the same in that ring.  Zion knows the gravitas of this match against Brian Hollywood this week.  He’s been compared as the lesser of the two tag team partners for a long time.  People have talked about Zion as the second fiddle. He knows their absolutely right in comparing him to Hollywood in that way.  Hollywood’s chalked up a lot of accomplishments. People have slept on Hollywood since his HOW return. They point and laugh at Zion for rejoining up with him.  But Zion knew Hollywood brought the best out of him. He pushed Zion to find the passion and the fire back when they trained together. He wanted to find that success.  He wanted to stop living in the past. He needed the focus Brian Hollywood had. Now Lee and Mike want to take that focus away from him. They want Zion to break out. They put this test in front of him because they know right now, Zion’s devoid of emotion.  He will crush anything or anyone in his way. They hoped Zion would crush his own hopes and dreams when stepping into that ring, leaving him an easy victory for Max Kael to bulldoze over on his way to facing the High Flyer Jack Harmen. It’s the sacrifice you have to do for the LSD Championship.  You get to unceremoniously destroy everything and become a devoid blood lust craving maniac to survive in that division. They wanted to take Zion and have him crush the last ounce of humanity to get there…

 

Winston George:  But that’s what athletes got to do to win the gold.  They have to make those sacrifices to get to the top. While Hollywood and Zion are best friends; they’re going to have to tear it down like the good ole days to get to where they once were. Zion’s going to have to overcome those fears.  He’s going to have to fight past those demons. He’s going to have to take that killer instinct he’s developing under his best friend to reach past being just a mediocre athlete in that ring. Hollywood’s been a threat to his career since the moment they first crossed paths.  Zion has to overcome Hollywood; his biggest test to date. He’s going to have to find that confidence. But he’s too much in his own head, doubting himself at the moment. He lost that confidence. He lost that spring in his step since that moment. My question to you since Zion doesn’t want to speak for himself: can he overcome it?

 

Shawn Lester:   Zion is the type of person to…

 

After sitting back listening to Winston’s speech, Zion’s face burns anger and hatred as he places his hand over Lester’s mouth.  He stares a hole straight into Winston George. A different anger crosses his face: passion filled. Determination burns bright in Zion’s eyes after weeks of letting it slowly hide back within him.  After Zion continued to pass blame, the confidence slowly made its turn. After clearing his head over the past ten minutes, he stands straight up after pushing Lester back into his seat. He pulls Winston up by the collar and simply nods at him before throwing him down in the chair.  Zion stands up and motions towards his waist. As Lester grabs the microphone.

 

Shawn Lester;  Does that answer your question?  Win, lose, or draw: Zion’s coming out to fight Hollywood.  He might not have his true voice at his side this week, and I can only imagine the range of emotions and thoughts that run through Zion’s head.  But I can confidently assure you, he’s going out to that ring to tear down the house with Brian Hollywood. He’s going to put every piece of heart and soul he’s lacked into that match to win.  Winning that LSD championship jumpstarts your career in the right path. Zion’s going to lay it all down in that ring. He will do what needs to be done. But he isn’t going to go out there with that anger he’s used to destroy people.  On the contrary; he’s going to fight a fair fight. He’s going to be cordial. When that bell rings, regardless which man wins (which we all know Zion hopes its himself); Zion’s going to fight respectful like the old Zion.

 

Winston George:  And choke?

 

Shawn Lester:  Save your jokes you moron.  Zion’s not going to leave Hollywood lifeless on the ground.  No cheap attacks, no gimmicks, just good ole fashion wrestling.  He expects Hollywood to take him to his limits. He expects a war.  But when Zion’s done…if Zion wins; it won’t be the same song and dance.  He isn’t going to destroy anyone. He isn’t going to leave Hollywood in a pit of his own bodily fluids. After he wins, he’s going to shake Hollywood’s hand, walk out of that ring, and celebrate the start of the new genesis of the Order.  He will bottle up that anger and save it for those who wronged him. Those who wanted to turn him into a soulless piece of shit. He will seek retribution and he will seize that LSD Championship for the second time. You think for one minute Zion isn’t channeling that frustration after Mike and Lee dangled that carrot and prepared Max to call him mediocre that he isn’t looking to pay them back?  You’re crazy. Zion’s still pissed and determined. He’s seen that ghost. And now that he has to face those demons; you’re turning him into the monster you don’t want to see. Zion will hold the LSD Championship. He will beat HOW’s golden hand to do it.

 

Zion walks out of the interview.  Winston looks on as Zion walks in stride like he has never walked before.  Shawn Lester begrudgingly shakes Winston’s hand as he walks towards the door.

 

Shawn Lester:  Now if you’ll excuse me, my client and I have some training to do.  He needs to bring his A Game and can’t keep focusing on stupid interview questions like these before his big match.

 

SLAM!

 

The scene fades to black as Winston continues on with his podcast.

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