The Best Arena
Just moments after his post-match attack on Darin Zion, we find Xander Azula storming down the hallway, his focus squarely on making his way toward one of the exits. His breathing is heavy, still reeling from the adrenaline rush of what he pulled off tonight. He takes a pause, a snarl forming on his face as he glares at a poster hanging up on the wall for March to Glory featuring the face of new CEO Michael Lee Best, realizing the winds of change that are to come. Before he can take another step, the Head Disciple is stopped in his tracks by a voice from down the hall.
“What the hell was that all about!?”
Xander turns his attention to the source of the inquiry, as Aeon Khronos approaches with a flustered and frustrated look after what he witnessed just moments ago. The two stare each other down without a word for just a moment before Xander finally responds.
“I think you know exactly what that was about, Aeon. For months that little ratfink has been dragging me down, making everything about him and his petty squabbles. The man threw me off a guard tower, Aeon! I didn’t forget that he nearly killed me…so when you came knocking with all this multiverse mess, I was somehow willing to let bygones be bygones. And all the while, he had his own agenda to attend to. You had me on a wild goose chase, and Darin Zion decided to go after Sir Simon Sparrow. You told me to focus on saving the multiverse, and HE thought it was best to declare himself ready for title shots and glory…and look where that got us. And you know the worst part?”
Aeon opens his mouth to respond, but it’s all for naught as Xander cuts the Time Wizard off without a moment’s hesitation.
“Darin telling me just days before this little encounter that he’s a variant. Telling me he’s not exactly himself…you know how much of a mindfuck that really is, Aeon? That was the moment I knew deep down that I needed to do something, and it needed to happen tonight…because if he’s somehow telling the truth, I’ve done the multiverse a favor by knocking him flat on his ass. If he’s lying to cover up his poor career choices, though? I’m doing myself a favor by dropping him like a bad habit.”
Aeon has heard enough at this point, finally interjecting with an angry tone of voice reflective of the verbal abuse thrown his way these past few minutes.
“Do you even realize the implications of what you’ve done tonight, Xander? Do you understand what this means for the safety of the multiverse!?”
Xander mocks this warning, muttering gibberish in a whiny tone before responding more clearly as he points to Khronos with another snarl on his face.
“You told me that everything was fine with the multiverse, despite me and Zion losing the Maurako Cup. Something about our friendship being the key to saving it, if I recall. That’s why I decided to pivot away from that little prick and, in the words of an old ex, focus on myself. If my role is no longer to protect the multiverse YOU seem so bent on saving, then my goddess has seen fit to send me on a different course. I made my statement tonight for the sake of the attention, and with any luck I got just what I needed. If you feel you still need to protect something you told me was in safe hands, you can go find someone else to run your errands.”
He turns his attention to the exit, chomping at the bit to close the door on the evening once and for all.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m getting the hell out of here before Zion tracks me down demanding an HOFC bout. I’m not wasting one of my three on him. That ship sunk before it could even set sail. I have far bigger fish to fry.”
With that, Xander rushes toward the exit, swinging the door open as he makes his escape, none too eager to deal with the fallout from his former tag partner as we fade to black.
How about that, huh?
Sometimes in life you just need to poke and prod to get someone’s attention.
And people know me well enough by now that I’m all about seeking it by any means necessary.
I crave it. I need it. I’m jonesin’ for all eyes on me.
Unlike my now-former tag partner, I have no shame in admitting as much.
I certainly had no shame in seeking that attention at his expense.
I spent weeks, months even, dealing with things that were beyond the scope of my understanding…and the price was my focus.
Divided between pleasing my goddess and saving something that didn’t want to be saved…and I’m not talking about the multiverse.
I’m talking about Darin Zion’s dignity.
Considering he threw me off a guard tower at Rumble at the Rock, I think it’s only fitting to close that chapter by bringing him down to my level.
March to Glory served as my emancipation from his bullshit.
I am no longer bound to his agenda.
I’m a free man, and my reward has been bountiful.
A reward delivered to me from the most surprising of sources.
A man that wouldn’t dare lift a finger to do me any favors, unless I truly impressed him with an act of aggression like the one I pulled at March to Glory.
I knew what I was doing that night.
I needed to grab someone’s attention, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to get it.
And I got exactly what I wanted.
A gamble that paid off.
Now, I can make good on my promise to Eris.
What my goddess wants, my goddess gets.
A sacrifice of gold, to put her name on a pedestal.
All I have to do is grab it from a monster of a man.
A man from Hell itself.
A man who ended the lengthy reign of Jeffrey James Roberts to become High Octane Television Champion.
This beast will no doubt be looking to unleash an all-out assault on me, to break me down and keep me from getting the upper hand.
Jimmy’s done a great job building this monster up from seemingly nothing, into the force of nature he’s been upon his arrival in HOW.
But, some empires crumble faster than others.
And that’s a lesson you’re going to learn the hard way come Refueled, GenoSyde.
I’ve spent months dealing with loss after loss, singles or tag team, and yeah…those losses hurt. They hurt a lot.
To be blunt…they fucking sucked.
I’ve worked too damn hard to be made a mockery of in this business.
Especially when it costs me the favor of my goddess.
Looking like a fool to man means little compared to looking like a fool to her.
More to the point, it makes me an angry, bitter man going into this match.
Something I’m sure everyone and their mother is going to grumble about, thinking I don’t have a chance in Hell of stopping its hometown hero.
But being angry doesn’t mean I can’t be smart.
And believe you me, I have to be smart about this.
Smarter than the man directing traffic from ringside, James Cornfield.
And certainly smarter than the man taking those instructions seriously, GenoSyde.
So, instead of using blind rage to try and match your power, I’m going to channel all this anger into sound, tactical strategy.
I am, after all, a general for my goddess.
And the only way you can win a battle is with a plan.
I have to outwit, outplay, outlast you in order to survive.
And that’s something I thrive on.
Survival of the fittest.
Sometimes survival just means getting past payroll cleanups, when my perceived performance would have me let go from my contract.
Sometimes it means getting to the semifinals of a tag team tournament because your opponents don’t seem to have their mind or heart in the right place.
It means surviving the worst that you can throw at me.
Surviving GenoSyde’s physical abuse, and Cornfield’s verbal abuse.
Getting out of my own head for once.
Not letting the weight of high expectations break me before I step into that ring.
People expect me to fail at Refueled.
They expect me to fall before the might of the new HOTv Champion.
And I look forward to breaking their hearts.
I will take all these months of disappointment and throw it right back in their faces.
Everyone inside the Best Arena, and watching from the comfort of their home, will bear witness to the sudden downfall of what would otherwise seem unstoppable.
And with my goddess looking down on me, I will overcome the force of nature standing across the ring from me.
I will stare that beast right in his eyes, and I will cut him down to size.
I will find his weak points and exploit them.
Chipping away until I can see this task through to completion.
One thing I can’t do is overthink this strategy.
I can’t let it be too convoluted.
I have to go back to basics, because that’s what it’s gonna take against the likes of GenoSyde.
It’s why I’ve been desiring to get back in that HOFC cage.
Life was easier when I only had myself and my opponent to stress about.
It’s the kind of mindset I have to keep going up against this tank of a man and his backseat pilot.
I can’t let Cornfield throw me off my game from ringside.
Too much at stake for me to fall into his trap.
I have to stay focused.
My eyes are on the prize.
The HOTv Championship.
And any special perks that come with the honor.
It is, after all, that time of year…Captain Azula has a certain ring to it, don’t ya think?
But above all else, a chance to really grab everyone’s attention.
A chance to stop the monster before his rampage can get out of hand.
The monster slain in misery, my arm raised in victory.
All eyes on me.