“I seriously had no idea that this hotel had a gym…”
Comments Woodson as he and Damien Ryan stand outside the door to the gym at the Sheraton Suites Chicago O’Hare. A mere stones throw from the Allstate Arena. Ya… COO of HOW and he’s living out of a hotel… a relatively cheap one too. That’s what happens when you’re nearly bankrupted… and then use what little cash you could scrap together to buy forty-nine percent of HOW.
Mike wanted to get back to wrestling in HOW so badly that he cut Woodson a hell of a deal on the forty-nine percent. A forty-nine percent that he knew… or at least thought was useless while he maintained his remaining two. Which one could argue easily is very true… especially now that he relinquished those remaining percentages to his father. But it’s a card in the pocket of The Corporate Artist that one could also argue is not a bad one to hold.
Plus unlike Mike… Woodson is heading back into the ring while still holding onto a large share of ownership in HOW. But like we said… many believe that forty-nine percent is meaningless. Unlike Mike’s fifty-one months ago.
“You’ve been here for months. Plus I talk about going here everyday to try and rehab from my concussion and keep my body in some form of shape. I still don’t understand how you never blew up to the size of Bobby Dean.” Somewhat questions Damien as he opens the door to the hotel gym and the two men make their way inside.
“Some people are just gifted with great body types… or metabolisms… or something sciency like that.” Smirks Woodson back at his jealous friend who just shakes his head and tosses his bag down next to one of the leg machines.
“Well can’t hurt to hit a few reps before Saturday. I mean it’s been months since ya have been in that ring for a match…”
“Ya, I know exactly how long it’s been since Stevens crucified me to that fu… to that cross. Those are not things one forgets very easily.. either time they’ve happened to ya. But it’s like something is trying to keep me out of that ring…”
“Didn’t you face and beat that Brenton Cross dude at ICONIC?” Questions Damien raising an eyebrow.
“That was hardly a match. That “dude” was one nosebleed away from his brain turning into soup.” Retorts Woodson, brushing off his slaughtering of Cross at ICONIC.
“Too bad… the kid seemed like he had some momentum going his way before it all fell apart.” Shrugs Damien as he sets his weight and takes a seat on the machine.
“So aside from that so called match, March to Glory was meant to be both of our big comebacks…”
“But 24K jumped us… ya I remember that to… sorta. Left concussed and unable to get my hands back on those over entitled scum responsible for it.” Snarls Damien as he cracks his knuckles, imagining his revenge he wants to so badly reap.
“Then the Lethal Lottery… poised and ready for a big time match. Titles… War Games… I didn’t care what it was… I just wanted back in the ring. But nothing… I got nothing and another chance to get back in that ring and truly wash that lingering taste of failure out of my mouth was lost. As if something is trying to tell me to stay out…” Sorta questions Woodson as he floats the idea out there to Damien… who is having none of it.
“Don’t you start bringing that satanic voodoo stuff around me Woodson.” Snaps back Damien as if Woodson hit some kind of nerve, which garners a slight chuckle from the Corporate Artist.
“Nah man… I haven’t spun myself in that Anti-Christ stuff since Rumble at the Rock. That kind of mindset requires a lot of alcohol to keep in.” Tries to reassure Woodson, which just leads Damien to throw out another criticism of his buddy.
“Which brings me to Sunday night… and you pulling that stunt drinking a beer during Eternal Storm.”
“It was non-alcoholic! How many times do I need to say that?” Retorts Woodson as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head, not really believing Damien is again giving him shit for this.
“Hey… I’m no expert in AA rules and regulations. But I have a feeling that they frown upon that kind of stuff. Those craft non-alcoholic beers are a gateway drink to tougher things like hard seltzers like White Cl…”
“Don’t you ever… ever… suggest that I would drink a White Claw.” Sparks back Woodson as there is a moment of slight uncomfortable awkwardness in the gym before Damien breaks it with a grin and goes back to a few more reps of leg presses.
“Just don’t give Jiles any more ammo to think that he will be stepping into the ring with HIM. He is facing Scott Woodson, COO of HOW. Corporate Artist. The General of HATE. Not some booze hound who can’t couldn’t beat Scott Stevens in one of your own trademark matches at your island. Yes, like Jiles said, HE had a lot of accolades, HE made you a Hall of Famer… but HE is dead and no longer useful to you. Leave him buried and let Scott Woodson bring you and your career the new life it has so badly needed.” Instructs Damien, trying again to throw his buddy some advice he hopes he actually takes..
“So badly needed? Oh thanks.” Snaps back Woodson as he finally sits down at one of the machines and just looks at it like he’s staring like he has no idea what it even does.
“Well what have you done since HOW has reopened? Did you outlast anyone at War Games? Did you regain the LSD Title against MJ Flair? Did you crucify Scott Stevens to a cross? No… No… and take a wild guess…. NO! So I can either sit here and baby you… or light a fire under your cold ass and get you some kind of chance to beat Jiles.” Fires back Ryan as he slams the leg press weights down and sits up from the machine as he reaches for his water bottle.
Woodson rubs his hand across his forehead a few times, knowing that Damien is right… knowing that there has been no spark in his HOW return. That he has just been coasting through… when he knows he can do better. That he can be better.
“Some chance would be the best case scenario here. Jiles is like me… underrated and dangerous. It’s what made us such an interesting tag team. No one took us seriously… partly because we never acted serious. It was all fun and games… which actually worked for a bit. But maybe we had too much fun. Yes, HE probably drank way too much.. and maybe Jiles wasn’t as engaged without his brothers by his side.” Admits Woodson as he stands back up from the machine and starts to pace back and forth.
Ryan just nods his head as he takes another drink and wipes some sweat from his forehead.
“I mean look at the emotion flowing through him after what happened to Bobby. That is a man on a mission right now. That is a man looking to make an impact this week on Refueled… which is funny…”
“Funny?” Questions Damien, a bit puzzled where this train of thought is leading Woodson.
“Funny cause while we are no longer a team… our paths are both heading down the same road. Jiles has reformed the Bandits with his old brothers… while I’ve brought the HATE band back together with you and Hitchin. A band that may have some ties to three other letters… but how about we leave them buried in the past Jiles? Or maybe just call them a bad DREAM that one should forget. But old homes aside… we’re also both out there looking for some fresh blood for our armies to replace our wounded vets. Someone who we think will help us reclaim those Tag Team Titles. Titles we’ll both be battling for position in the pecking order at Refueled.”
“So despite all the laughs we’ve had, we both know not to take the other lightly… or as a joke. I mean does that even need to be said Jiles? I know, you wanted to seem like the big white knight, riding in on his horse, trying to give Scott Woodson the respect that he supposedly deserves. The respect that Dan Ryan, Lindsay Troy, MJ Flair and Er… and that other clown never have given me. Then again… why should they have?” Rhetorically asks Woodson to Jiles in a half serious… half depressed tone.
All he can do is just shake his head, ashamed that he is actually giving that clown any kind of actual credit for some of the garbage that spewed out of his mouth. You can almost see the anger starting to rage inside of him.
“Like Damien just said, have I done anything to earn it since HOW reopened? I don’t need your pity respect Jiles. I need to earn… or earn it again. So yes, this is gonna be a hell of a fight… one that I wanted weeks ago… one that I needed to get over the past… our past. I need to know there is something… anything left that I haven’t drowned in a “vat of expensive IPA”… so clever by the way… IPA jokes Jiles.” Sarcastically chirps Woodson as he shakes his head. You can almost feel the anger starting to build inside the Corporate Artist…
“You know I’ve tried to change Jiles. I’ve tried to put the beers down and be a professional despite everything that is fighting against me. I mean we all know that this business is not conducive to trying to rid yourself of a vice. Especially one that you’ve had for twenty freaking years. So I don’t really appreciate the pot shots… and I mean the low digs, not weed… they are so not COOL. Like I said… I’m trying. That’s more than most can say here in HOW. Sure, I might have moments where I fail… but in the end… the best me will win. Then you Jiles… and everyone in HOW will see me back to where I belong!”
Woodson finishes his rant as he takes a couple deep breaths as Damien looks on, somewhat surprised… somewhat. I mean you can luck into only a certain level of physical fitness.
“Breath Woodson… you’re gonna blow up before you even start working out. Hit the pause button on Jiles… we’ll double back to him later. Now grab some weights so I’m not the only one workin’ out in here.” Suggests Damien as Woodson rolls his eyes back at him in a… I know you’re right… but fuck you way.
So reluctantly Woodson grabs some free weights as Damien shakes his head, but at least he is getting something out of his old friend. A true old friend as they carry on with some of the first working out Woodson has done in likely a long time.
LATER THAT DAY
After what some may call a workout, a freshly showered Woodson is making his way out of the hotel to pop into his office at the Allstate Arena. He thought that maybe he’d check in on a few things as we get ready for Refueled XXV… or twenty-five for the Roman numeral impaired.
But things don’t always work out as planned, cause on his way out he walks through the hotel bar Myrick’s and hears a familiar voice.
“Scotty!!” Yells John Hitchin across the bar slash restaurant as Woodson turns his head and smiles knowing exactly what he’ll see. Hitchin sitting at the bar with a beer… more specifically a Pseudo Sue pale ale from Toppling Goliath Brewing.
Knowing he can’t escape… and really not wanting to, Woodson makes his way over to the empty bar seat next to Hitchin and takes a seat next to his longtime friend slash foe.
“Why am I not surprised to see you here” Comments Woodson as the bartender spots Woodson and signals he’ll be over in a moment.
“Hey… don’t try and make me out like some alcoholic like you were Woodson. I just got here and am enjoying my first beer. Plus when did you get so uptight about drinking? I know you’re trying the whole sobriety again… which I don’t understand, but you have to do what you have to do. Just don’t over judge me and make me out to be someone I am not.”
“Fair enough dude… I just ranted to Damien about how I got annoyed over the beer jokes from Jiles. So I shouldn’t be hypocritical.” Admits Woodson as the bartender walks over and tosses him a coaster.
“So what will ya be havin’?” Questions the bartender as Hitchin jumps in before Woodson can even answer.
“He’ll have one of what I’m having…” As Woodson quickly jumps in before the bartender can even grab an empty pint glass.
“No… do you guys have any energy drinks? I have to head into the office and take care of a few things.”
“We have Monster cans, would that work?” Replies the bartender as he opens up the back refrigerator and grabs one of the sixteen ounce cans.
“Not ideal… but sure, I need some kind of jolt after that workout… and I don’t need a glass, you can just leave the can.” Request Woodson as the bartender nods and cracks the can open before setting it down on the coaster in front of Woodson.
“Is this really the man you want to be? This corporate sellout, shilling a fuckin’ dress shirt and tie.” Asks Hitchin as he takes a drink of his beer and shakes his head at what he thinks Scott Woodson has now become.
Taking a moment to have a long drink from his Monster, Woodson debates his words for a moment. Maybe even debating his answer completely… as this hasn’t been easy for him.
“Wants and needs are different things John. Do I want to be The Hardcore Artist? Do I want to sit here with you and drink this bar dry? Do I want HIM to take control and unleash pure anarchy like I know he can? Yes… I want all of that.” admits Scott as he raises his can of Monster and shakes his head before taking another drink.
“Then why not follow your heart? Follow what you want.” Asks Hitchin as he raises his beer glass to Woodson and takes a drink.
“Because I need to be better John. I need to do something to change the trajectory of my career that is spiraling into a dumpster fire that I’ll never survive. That is what HE has led me to… that is what would happen if I continued on that path with HIM. Something had to change and I couldn’t keep living in an era that I know we both wish never ended. But those three letters are dead, gone…. My time as the leader of the LSD division… over… finished. You think I could actually beat Max Kael or MJ Flair in the past year that HOW has been reopened? I already proved I couldn’t on a few occasions.” Answers Woodson as he buries his face in his hands and rubs his eyes so hard in some kind of hope shit might actually change.
“Well… I’ll let you try what you need to try. But if that shit doesn’t work… if you find that all this corporate bullshit is not going to get you want for yourself… for HATE. Well then I’ll be here ready to go scorched Earth with Scottyw….” Hitchin tries to finish… but Woodson quickly cuts him off.
“With HIM… with HIM. You don’t need to… you shouldn’t be saying his name.” Warns Woodson as Hitchin nearly breaks out laughing.
“You’re not fucking Beetlejuice man… but whatever. I’ll have your back on Saturday… just in case Jiles has something in store for us. He’s got his new recruit Zeb, so he might get a little cocky.”
“Let Jiles think that… but he… and the rest of the Bandits, original crispy and new receipt will soon find out that once it sinks its teeth into you… HATE always wins. Our army… the army of HATE will be better than anything Jiles and his Fraggle could ever assemble.” Smiles Woodson as he gets up from the bar stool, with his can of Monster and throws some bills down on the bar top.
“Oh… and just because HE may be dead… doesn’t mean that I have gone soft. Hardcore Artist… or Corporate Artist… Scott Woodson… or HIM. It may all just be a name John. HOW much do you really think people can change? How much of it is all a fresh coat of paint on some long standing facade? Honestly, I don’t think I even know. But when the war is over inside my head… I’ll let you know. I’ll let everyone know. Then… then we’ll just have one war left to finish.” Ends Woodson as he starts walking away from Hitchin and out of the bar area and to his office.
“Fair enough too man… just make sure we fuck ‘em up on Saturday. We need to make a statement. We need to climb that pecking order. So if you get any updates on our new army… let me know.”
“Fuck The Order…” Shoots back Woodson, only a few feet now away and with a rare curse wood to Hitchin
“We’re gonna make sure every tag team in that division HATEs the idea of facing us after we’re done.” Smirks Woodson as he adjusts the collar on his #97HATE dress shirt before fully leaving his buddy at the bar to order another beer from the bartender.
As for Mister Woodson, it’s time to punch in to the ole HOW clock… as it is not only Lee Best who is scheming in the HOW corporate ladder. Maybe, just maybe The Corporate Artist has a masterpiece brewing inside The Allstate Arena, ready for it’s opening night gallery showing on Saturday night.