Wednesday, August 18th, 2021
St. Louis, MO
Midwest Psychological Services
In an instant my body starts quaking in place as I struggle to find the words. Today’s a breakthrough moment for me because I am sharing my story with a therapist. My muscles tighten throughout my entire body. Even after taking the deep cleansing breaths Mama LT prescribed, I still froze in place. Sharing my story doesn’t come easily for me, I’ve never trusted people. But here I sat in Dr. Duncan’s care spilling my guts about my past life. I didn’t hide any detail from my childhood abuse to not knowing my parents. Hell, I left no stone unturned. I vocalized my drug addictions and my fears. I even discussed some of the great losses of loved ones in my life. Uncontrollable tears outflow from my eyes at the immense outpouring of emotions.
But we’ve reached the grand crescendo of my story; I need help!
It’s not the simple kind of help you work through in constant therapy sessions. You don’t need to read countless hours of self-help books or find positive role models. I must ask for medicine, and everyone knows how much I hate asking for help.
Dr. Duncan taps his pen against his chin waiting for me to utter those words. He lounges back in his comfortable burgundy chair, radiating a welcoming smile. He could sense that my gears kept turning as more tears roll down my face. After sniveling at excessive lengths, I blurt the words straight out of my mouth. “I can’t do this anymore! I need the medicine. For years I’ve held back this decision because I didn’t want to lose the essence of me. But I can’t keep fighting myself before I wrestle in the squared circle. I’m constantly overthinking every decision I make, and it bogs me down. I cannot make a simple decision between a suplex, a drop kick, or a submission without feeling guilt.”
Dr. Duncan folds his hands together. He leans forward and speaks out in a courteous, thoughtful tone. “Before I can do anything; I need to know. Why now? What’s the crux of your decision?”
Before continuing with my story, I close my eyes. I flash back to the beginning of my HOW career. I keep envisioning my hyperactive interactions with people like Jace Parker Davidson. I embrace that awkward kid who once came out swinging with a false sense of confidence. Relaxing my shoulders, I start discussing those dark times in my life. “If I’m being honest; I’m tired of defining myself with the past. I obsess about perfection too much and I only want to live my life and achieve my goals. It’s easy to blame others, but it’s mental block holding me back.”
Bending inward applying his active listening skills, Dr. Duncan scribbles down some notes. He glances up to acknowledge my emotions with a simple phrase. “Go on! Keep sharing with me, Darin.”
I respond to him in an animated fashion. My hands come alive while speaking and sharing my struggles. It almost felt liberating to get it all off my shoulders after dealing with this for 15 years.
“I want one sole championship win. I’ve failed to secure an HOW singles championship at least 20 times in the last 3 years. Hell, I haven’t earned those opportunities; they’re a generous act of GOD. He’s been gracious to me lobbing me various title shots left and right. It’s like he knows I can break through the proverbial glass ceiling, but I keep holding myself back. I replay all my flaws and faults on loop every second I’m awake. I’m too critical of my own work when everyone else around me believes in me. It tells me I’ve got a disconnection with my surroundings.”
“Good! Good!” The therapist exclaims continuing to document the encounter. He scribbles more notes on a tiny pad of paper as I carry on rambling about my inner most desires.
“But if I am allowed some selfish intensions: I want to beat Jace Parker Davidson in a simple one on one contest. Throughout our seven-year rivalry; he can sense my insecurities. He feeds off them before his maniacal mind serves out punishment. Sure, I’ve beaten him the last two times we’ve squared off in that ring. But it’s all shallow victories to me. It was easy climbing a ladder when his mind checked out of HOW. Shit, he had two morons holding him back and distracting him in a handicap match. I damn well know that set him down the path of his HOTV Championship reign of terror. I unlocked the dominant monster inside of him. He’s looking to destroy me in that ring at Bottomline. When he’s like this; he’s not afraid to provoke my anger. Hell, he drove my head into the concrete for smarting off against him. I want top off our little rivalry with a Hat Trick of Victories. I want to show him I’ve changed. I want that extra boost of confidence. If I freeze up out there; I’m afraid those generous title shots will dry up. and I’ll get lost in the shuffle and…”
Cutting me off mid-sentence, Dr. Duncan slaps a tiny slip of paper right into the center of my lap. He shakes his head before declaring my diagnosis. “Wow! I didn’t want to believe Mick, but he’s right. You’re suffering from a serve case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder on top of a bad case of anxiety. This medicine will help you out by silencing all those overwhelming negative thoughts. It should help shift you into the next gear.”
My eyes shift around in an anxious effort. While a part of me celebrates this news, my nerves scream out in apprehension. Only one question swirls around my brain frantically. I ask it without hesitation, almost babbling in an incoherent fashion. “Will…will this change who I am?”
“It won’t change your personality, kid. It’ll only calm your nerves. This will cure that lack of focus of yours. I promise you won’t lose the essence of Darin Zion. You’ll have some side effects at first, but you’ll grow accustom to them.” He smiles back at me before extending his hands out.
Flashing Dr. Duncan a fake grin on my face, I mutter in an unexcited tone. “Thanks!” I stuff the slip of paper into the front of my jeans pocket while exiting his office. Winding down the complex halls of his facility, I gaze up at the ceiling. I pray in a desperate fashion for solace. I need this balance to work out. I want that HOTV Championship more than life itself. The exhaustion and mental wear down weighs heavily on my shoulders. I was willing to try anything to beat Jace. I only hope this bring me the solace I need on my conquest to gold.
Saturday, August 21st, 2021
For the first time in almost a decade, I stood at the curtain near Gorilla Position with a sense of tranquility. Beaming a smirk from ear to ear; I hopped up and down in anticipation for my match. Bittinger’s waiting and I stood in place not dwelling on the agony awaiting me in our fight.
After handling Kelli Burkowski, Meredith strolls up leaning her head against my shoulder. She leans in and whispers in my ear. “Did you take your Zoloft?”
“Already handled that earlier this morning, babe. I’ve got this.” I exclaim with confidence. She smiles back at me before veering her head in for a kiss.
“That’s my man! Your resolution is crawling back more and more each day.” She declares before wrapping her frail hands into mine.
I admire her for a moment before the crowd’s chants of “Zion” perk up my ears. I pull my hand away from hers before cracking my fists. Bittinger’s hunger for the MVW Men’s Heavyweight Championship awaited me in that ring. I overheard rumblings from the boys about him upping his vicious streak tonight. While his feeble attempts would rock my mind before the match, tonight felt different. I almost welcomed the challenge. While I still felt weird about the adjustments in my brain chemistry, I am excited. I want to barrage through that curtain and unleash havoc right now.
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, “Happy Song” blares over the sound system. Almost charging out in a desperate manner, I try to pull the curtain back. Yet, I felt Meredith’s hands tugging me back. She takes a deep breath in before asking me, “Are you ready for Bittinger? You know it’s a huge risk doing this.”
I scoff at the archaic thoughts of my anxiety-laced brain. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. J.J.’s head will get launched into orbit. I’m going to get my MVW Championship back.”
She pushes on my butt and I make a blitz towards the ring. I wanted Bittinger’s smoke more than ever tonight. I crave the bruises and welt he desires to leave me. I need my body calloused up more for that HOTV Championship match. Building that endurance and fortitude up adds another advantage. I didn’t care if I was a masochist tonight. I relish anything that will give me another leg up on JPD. The blusterous crowd erupts in the Cook Center. This is now my moment to seize and deliver a wakeup call to the boys in the HOW locker room.
15 Minutes Later…
One hellacious match and a single Ban Hammer later…
I topple the first demon in my journey in this long conquest for gold. After a successful victory over J.J. Bittinger in the middle of the ring, the Manhattan crowd erupted. They shot up to their feet to celebrate me securing a number one contenders’ match. Dropping to my knees, tears of joy ooze from my eyes. I roll out of the ring and jump the barricade into the rambunctious crowd as a victory lap. The circumstances didn’t matter; I embraced their gratitude of my talents.
Landing back on my feet, I gaze over and see Mick signaling his approval. Rushing over to him, I clinch my long arms around his frail body. He pulls my ear down to his level before murmuring in my ear “Fuggin’ told you, kiddo. Everything would fall into place better.”
I wink at him before slapping hands with the adoring fans from the crowd. Meredith charges over to me as the crowd begins to dissipate from the arena. She proudly hugs me before I swing her around and give her a huge kiss on the cheek. As I finish my rounds with the Manhattan faithful, I feel a slight tap against my shoulder.
“Could…could…you sign this for me, Mr. Zion. You’re my hero…” The unfamiliar voice came from a young mixed kid from the back row. I had caught a glimpse of him earlier holding up a sign in the crowd. He withdraws an old PWX picture of me as his nerves get the best of him. He’s visibly shaking in his boots.
“Who do I have the pleasure of making this out to?” I ask him.
His response is puny. “The name’s Leonard Sparks. I’ve followed your entire career; I’m a bit of a junkie of your matches. I’ve watched them while I’ve trained.”
My ears shoot up in excitement at this news. “Oh? I know a lot of people in this business. What wrestling school are you at, Leonard?” I ask him in a nonchalant approach.
His eyes dart down to the ground like he’s ashamed. You could tell he didn’t want to divulge that information. Reaching my arm around his back, I tap him on the shoulder. Leonard flinches in place while I attempt to reassure him.
“You don’t have to say anything. I’ve been there a time or two myself over the years. Can’t say I didn’t run across a bad trainer a time or two! We all have our moments while we try to get our careers off the ground. You’ll get there, man.”
“…Thanks” He stalls for a moment before scurrying off into the departing fans. Mick nudges my elbow before I turn my attention back to him.
“That’s the magic I’ve been saying you own, Zion. You’ve wandered around aimlessly trying to define yourself off other people’s molds. You connect with the crowd in a different way. They empathize with you because you’re a human-being like them. You’ve been trying to be a machine for too long. You don’t need flashy gimmicks and hype. When you’re acting like yourself; they fuel you. Tonight’s a glimpse into what Bottomline should hold for you. Eat that Chicago crowd’s love up and absorb their energy. It’s the one advantage a person like you has over a juggernaut like Jace.” He says to me with vigor in his voice.
“Thank you,” I extend my appreciate towards Mr. O’Malley. “I’ve diverged from the course for too long because I let everyone else dictate this story. I latched onto the criticism and I wanted everyone else’s approval. I didn’t earn my respect and I aim to do that when I win the HOTV Championship. I damn well know JPD’s on a war path after what I’ve done to him after he returned. Thank you for clearing my head up before the war.”
Mick slaps me on the arm before heading off towards Meredith to leave. She blows me a kiss as they both load up, and I begin to help with the tear down process. Taking a moment to admire the ring, I inhale a breath deep into my tired lungs. My body throbs from Bittinger’s stiff shots and agonizing Bear Hugs. I rest my arms on the back of my head and extend back.
My back cracks releasing the tension from the match. While I reaped the rewards from a successful win on MVW television, the bliss didn’t last long. The anticipation of my HOTV Championship rendezvous with Jace looms over me. My enmity swells as I clasp my fists together. It’s now or never. It’s time to prove what I set out to do when I knocked down the HOW door of opportunity. I spent an entire era spinning my wheels in a desperate attempt and embarrassed myself.
But I didn’t bide on those memory. Now was the opportunity to prove my words I spoke into existence. Lee gave me a golden opportunity and now was the time to strike. Records or words wouldn’t matter when I stepped into that ring. Only the HOTV title importance would resonate with me. I’ve gotten four opportunities back-to-back. It’s my time to shine. And I will not let myself get lost in distractions again.I hoist up some of the boards and walk to the car. But in the back of my mind; I only felt one emotion now: confidence.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”
“There’s a reason I didn’t entertain you with an instant response, Jace. It might have taken awhile but the lesson cracked that thick skull of mine after 7 years of utter failure. You’re a god damn wizard with words! You’ve got the gift of gab while I keep inserting that size 12 boot straight into my mouth. You’d love it right now if I lobbed a few easy pitches your way. You’re waiting for the inevitable groan-worthy one-liners to roll right out of Zion’s mouth.
If you’re so desperate for us to chase low hanging fruit; I’ll bite. Go buy yourself one of those low-hanging fruit baskets your old chum Mike Best sells. That’ll appease those nasty attention whore cravings you’ve been having. But I digress!
After returning to HOW, you still don’t get the big picture. I’m not interested in rehashing a near decade worth of nightmarish history. I’ve battled through my failures and fatal flaws. I know you hate me because you think I’ve got a silver spoon strapped in my mouth. It’s okay, I hate me too. I admit it now. I’ve evolved from those awkward fan boy days. It’s why I said I respect you. It took a lot of effort and energy to put up with some entitled schmuck from the backstreets of Chicago for years. You had the patience of a saint. I’ll give you some fucking credit.
But just because I respect your pompous, precocious ass doesn’t mean I worship you like an idol. Don’t let your ego fool you. I still hate your smug, cocky ass.
I understood your actions in driving my head into the thick Milwaukee concrete. Message received loud and clear. When I walk into the Best Arena at Bottomline; you mean business. I’ve got to stop talking about that dream Cinderella story to Section 214 and back up my words this time. You weren’t going to hand me over the HOTV Championship without me earning it. I need to walk through hell and back to earn that accomplishment.
You’re on a streak building the prestigiousness of Lee’s new belt up. You want to craft the legacy of that championship around your name. And everyone knows when The King of Everything sets his goals; he excels at them. I can’t deny your list of fallen challengers. Our singles match won’t be that 3 on 1 handicap match you lost. I comprehend the gravitas of this encounter. You don’t need to talk down to me.
Let’s be real here; we aren’t underestimating each other. We’ve fought to hell and back. Outside of Brian Hollywood, you’re the only other person in HOW today who knows everything about me.
But that history does go both ways. You still see me as the lazy, entitled blockhead chasing your coat tails. You demand I fit the same damn mold that cut you and Mike Best. Like I must act like some blusterous renegade spewing meaningless words to win a title belt. Newsflash, Jace! We have already have enough knock off Mike Bests and JPDs overrunning this fucking place. We don’t need another one! I tried that seven years ago and I fell flat on my ass.
See, your ego blinds you heading into this match. It’s always been the fatal error I’ve missed. You’re too easily distracted chasing pussy to notice I’ve evolved. I don’t need emulate anyone. I’ve got to start acting like myself and define my own path. I’ve overlooked what’s made me a successful competitor for far too long. I am that innocent, dorky, young brother in HOW. I’m also genuine and forth coming now. It’s why even in loss; I’ve gained momentum over the last Pay Per View period.
I walked around blind to it because I’m my own worst enemy. I get caught up all the swirling preconceived failures I tell myself. I aimlessly wander out to that ring like a deer stuck in the headlights; and you know the rest of the story. Everyone’s seen my win-loss records on HOWrestling.com.
This is why I’m walking into Chicago and knocking your fucking head off with a Ban Hammer. I’m not fabricating it when I say I know I’m taking that HOTV Title off your hands. I see right through these ridiculous mind games you’re playing. You’re trying to goad me into saying something stupid. You’re hoping I haven’t changed and continue spiraling out of control.
Meanwhile, you’re sitting in the complacency I called home for 3 years. Sure, you write it off and try to spin the story in your favor. You don’t have an ego. You’re famous! You’ve built an era off your namesake. I have no right to judge a champion like you. You’re crowned the King of Everything for a reason. It’s no egoistical when you speak the truth.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, JPD, but you haven’t changed one bit since I met you 7 years ago. You’ve accepted stagnation the moment you wanted to cosplay a scene out of the Spy Who Shagged Me. You keep flaunting all your successes haphazardly while you’ve built your empire. With every win, your self-pride continues to swell up. Finally, when someone realizes your flaws and pops your damn balloon.
Spoiler alert: I’m that guy who’s about to ruin your parade.
I’m not going to beat you with my words, Jason. I’m going to beat you with my God given fists. I’ve cleared my mind. It’s now a blank slate. I realize I kept chasing the mansions and glory you did. I’ve lost all the dead weight in my life that perpetuated a façade. I got tired of living those lies. I needed to find my hunger and my passion for this sport. I needed to regain my confidence going into our match.
I got tired of those promises being empty. Now I’ve truly hit the reset button.
I’ve sat back coveting HOW singles gold for 3 years too long. I’m tired of it only being a dream I’ve never realized.
I refuse to hold the title of your shit-stained Welcome Mat for another moment of my career. I’m fighting back and realizing my goals for a change. I’m going to secure MY spotlight and I won’t let you stand in my way.
You infuriated me when you split my skull open. You awoke the sleeping beast within me. I’ve finally defined myself. And I promise you, I will get my vengeance and make my statement loud and clear to my fans in Section 214 and worldwide. I am your new HOTV Champion. I have dethroned the King of Everything. And I will capitalize on the generous gift GOD gave me.
The #RallyZion movement finally gets realized. I will walk out of the Best Arena with my 25th career accomplishment draped securely around my waist.”