” If there’s one thing I know about you, Matthews, you’ve lost your edge. Go find it again.”
I lost my edge?! HA! I’ve never lost my edge. I’m the same hard ass I’ve been since my first day entering HOW! Hollywood’s words made my stomach turn. My head just hurt from his grotesque character assessment of me. I regretted touting he knew me inside and out.
Hollywood spent hours studying both his friends and enemies. He logged them to his memory. He was like an elephant; he never forgot those facts both good or bad. But he didn’t watch me grow first hand. He never knew my struggles with depression or anxiety upon returning to HOW. He didn’t realize I liberated myself from self-doubt when I stepped back into an HOW ring at War Games.
After all, I burned his office building down and exposed HIS FLAWS!
However, deep inside: I hated him for exposing the truth to me. I knew I was lying to myself. As I whistled Queen’s “We Are The Champions” I raced down the sidewalk like a kid chasing down an ice cream truck, enjoying the bright LA sun beaming down on me. I acted juvenile not giving a single shit what the world thought about me feeling alive. At the same time, I couldn’t shake this chills rolling down my spine as I approached the office building on the back of Hollywood’s card. It all hit me like a ton of bricks: Hollywood sent me to the main sheriff’s office.
Never in a million years did I think I would return to this city after blowing up Hollywood Enterprises. But never in a million years did I expect to atone for any of my sins. But here I was; ready to show Hollywood how dedicated to our team I was. The thought of prison always made the hairs on my skins shoot straight up in the air. It made my stomach rumble. Let alone the fashion choice caused my shoulders to squirm.
I didn’t look good in an orange jumpsuit. My thighs look fat enough on their own without that hideous color on my skin. It highlighted my dull, white complexion. Vomit started shooting up my throat just imagining myself in that get up. I could safely say that orange was not my new black. I almost froze in place letting those thoughts gnaw away at me.
But I knew I couldn’t do that to Brian. I needed to get my edge back. I knew where they sent HOW superstars who committed crimes: Alcatraz. I’d visited numerous times. I knew what the haunting halls had in store for me right now.
Hughie Freeman lacked someone to “love” after they sent RICK home recently. He’d begun to sound like his former punching bag: O’Dell rambling on about weird ass shit, slowly losing his mind to the drugs. I might rot away with an insane man who I didn’t know would abuse the ever living shit out of me, or would “love me” in his awkward ways, but I’d prepared to survive whatever tortures the law would throw at me.
I had to prove to Hollywood how much I needed up on my side.
I begrudgingly trudged towards the door and flung the door to the station. As people kept trying to guide me, I stubbornly trekked down the halls without stopping. Gone was my smile as I enjoyed the last few moments of fresh air of the outside world. Now an apathetic, expressionless look replaced it as I approached the elevator heading towards the third floor. I pulled out the card and kept staring at the name obsessively:
Sheriff Buck Wringley: LAPD.
Every elevator stop made my heart pound harder against my chest like a prisoner trying to flee his cage. As the cold, silver doors to the elevator slowly rolled open; I forced my way out, knocking down a few interns as I made my way to his office. Lacking common decency, I threw open the doors to his office and planted my ass straight as his desk. I didn’t waste any time regurgitating the words I knew him and Hollywood wanted to hear.
“I did it! I confess to destroying up Hollywood Enterprises.”
I clenched my eyes shut, throwing my arms on his desk waiting to feel the cold, steel binding itself to my flesh. My wrists shook violently. After waiting for 30 seconds and taking a few deep breaths to prevent myself from hyperventilating, I slowly raise my right eye lid to see his bald scalp turning red. He kept biting at his long, grey fluffy mustache, clenching his fists together, readying to slam them on his cherry oak desk. As his arms flew up, he exposed his prized blue suit was made for a munchkin version of himself. Clearly desk work made his stomach swell from the excessive donut and coffee breaks he took at the station.
After he spent time pondering his reaction, his expression of anger quickly changed. He stroked his mustache, befuddled at the whole predicament. Begrudgingly he stuck his hand out towards mine and shook it. His thick, menacing hand almost crushed every bone in my hand. He stared at me rather frustrated, yet intrigued at my character as he calmly spoke.
“Never in all my years on the force have I ever had a criminal come straight to me to confess their crimes. Especially a crime as heinous as yours! Boy, you must have a death wish…it’s either that or you’re the most fucked up person I’ve ever met in my entire life You had the gall to come storming into my office without a lawyer and confess your crimes. You have to be the worst criminal I’ve ever seen…”
I chuckled as I cut him off to respond: “Or one of the best friends Brian Hollywood’s ever had.”
He lays back in his office chair, scratching as his chin, giving me the floor to continue to speak. As I continue on, sweat starts to roll down my head. He knew I was squirming in my chair. He wanted to continue digging my own grave. As I stutter and sputter along, a small smile cracks on his face.
“Look, Mr. Wringley, I’m trying to show my character here. I let jealousy and hatred control my life for four years. I got involved with the wrong crowd. I’ve recently faced some setbacks that made me realize I need good role models like Brian Hollywood back in my life watching over my back. I’ve heard about your reputation as I researched you online. I fully expect you to throw the book at me. In fact, I know you’ll lock me up and throw away the key, but…”
I take a deep breath and sigh; looking him dead in the eyes. “It doesn’t matter. Brian needs to see how committed I am to atoning to the sins of our friendship the last four years. I’ve lost my edge. If it means you ship me off to Alcratraz with the rest of the HOW misfit toys; I’ve accepted that fate. But I need Hollywood to understand just how much I need him to find success in HOW again. I need him to understand I’m done with the constant bickering, bludgeoning, and berating of him. I’m tired of not having a brother on my side to help and aid me when I need him. If it means you lock me up; I know he’ll visit me knowing I confessed to hitting him where it hurt him the most. Protect him if you must, but I’ve got nothing more to lose. I lost what mattered most to me recently and I’ve got no family to watch over me. I’d rather suffer at Alcatraz than go another single second without a brother in arms.”
I throw my hands again down in front of him before he takes a deep sigh and reaches over to an envelope on the side of his desk. He plops it right beside me, just shaking his head in disappointment.
“Look, Matthews, 30 minutes ago I would have thrown the book straight at you and carted your ass off to rot forever. But I can’t…”
He chokes up for a minute before wiping away his own sweat from his forehead, looking like something was eating away at him as he stared at the manilla envelope. I reached down and his eyes fixed on it, widening with each passing second as he spoke, “My superiors tied my hands with this case. Usually I would take your confession and expedite it. But…I cannot do that this time.”
While he continued to ramble on in legalese, I thumbed through the folder noticing an insurance report claiming faulty server equipment, a character witness for me, and a picture of his wife and kids that lined his desk. On the bottom of each of the documents the letters MM stood out to me and my heart sank in my chest. I slowly locked my eyes with his eyes and small tears rolled down the side of his cheeks. We both knew what it meant. I reach my hand out and we both shake hands.
I console him with a gentle nod and verbalize my concern, “I understand everything. I’m not looking to ruffle any feathers with you, sheriff, nor gloat, but I’m not looking for trouble. I didn’t…”
He cut me off and exclaimed, “I know you didn’t kid. You made your intentions known when you came into my office and manned up, son. Please know I forgive you. But if you would kindly get out of here; I’d like to leave this case under the table where it belongs. Just promise me you will follow through and watch over Hollywood like I know you will.”
I nodded and slowly set the envelope on his desk in front of him as I slowly made my way for the door, fearing what was to come like Buck did. It took me a while to find my words, but I committed to him full well. “I promise to watch over him! You have my word!”
“Sex and Money, the Order, On-Again, Off-Again, The Darin Matthews Band, Diet Hollywood Bruvs (because God knows someone thinks we’re stealing their name when we’ve only held our trademark to the Hollywood Boyz for 15 God Damn Years)…
We’ve been known by a lot of different names over the course of our illustrious 15 year careers. But one thing we haven’t been called is Weekend at Bernies…If there’s one thing I know about Brian Hollywood; he’d rather team up with me while we fight and claw at each other’s throats then walk into the Pet Cemetery and team with a random dead corpse he dug up.
LIke I’ve said previously, the Bandits understand how to love and support each other through thick and thin. Hell, they struggled as Bobby Dean literally tried to get thin. They’ve taken loss after loss to overcome and grow together and build their bonds stronger. They’ve bickered here and there with each other. But there’s one thing they have never done in the history of their careers…
They’ve never gone to war against their own brothers in arms.
Like I said, I applaud them; they’re way more mature and accept themselves no matter what the rest of the roster tells them to do. Hollywood and I obviously needed to take something from the Bandits play book to even become threats to their Tag Team Championship reign. But they’ve never stood across from each other inside that ring ready to beat their own brother to his death.
It takes a lot for their band of brothers to stand together and protect each other. They know each other’s weaknesses inside and out. What they lack in seriousness; they pack a powerful punch in humor and laughs. It’s great. But they’ve never shared the tears. They’ve never shared the broken careers. They’ve never known what would systematically destroy themselves from the inside. They choose naivety over strength every single time.
And that’s what’s going to end their Tag Team Championship reign at our hands.
Over the course of our 15 year careers; Hollywood and I have not only teamed up with each other, but stood across the ring from each other. We’ve beaten each other within an inch of our lives. A lot of people would say that’s not a basis for a great Tag Team strength, but it’s only bettered us along the way. We know each other’s next steps. We feel each other’s pain. We function on an entirely different wavelength when we surrender our pride and our ego and step into the ring to fight as a unit. Our connection might be rusty right now, but I damn well would argue that Zeb Martin and RICK don’t have the same connection Brian Hollywood and I have with each other.
Hollywood and I have travelled the damn world together. We grew up together in middle school. We’ve shared the same dreams to make it to HOW and wrestle for those Tag Team Championships and dominate the division. We’ve sacrificed our friendship for this damn company. We’ve experienced everything together our entire lives for this damn moment. For our next World Tag Team Championship reign.
Let’s face it, Zeb’s been too busy helping with Plan Z and RICK just learned how to talk and is making his way back from Alcatraz. They might have shared hotel rooms and travelled together over the last few months, but they damn sure don’t have 15 years worth of chemistry in that ring. They might have stood on opposing sides when RICK stood with HATE, but I damn sure know they’ve never tried to destroy each other over a singles championship ever. They’ve only lived in the innocence of sticking their eggs in their pants and trying to teach RICK how to speak.
It’s not personal, Zeb and RICK, but let’s face it; you two have just learned how to walk and talk coherently. Hollywood and I already mastered that together in middle school. Hell, we’ve sat in cars crying rather HOW would sign us, rather we would get this opportunity in the first place. We systematically destroyed our careers to get to this moment where we could hold those championships over our heads and celebrate gaining another achievement. We’ve acted like real brothers. We’ve loved each other, fought each other, and bonded together over one single cause: the HOW Tag Team Championships.
You two don’t have that chemistry or history at all. Sure the fans love and respect you for overcoming all the obstacles thrown at you. You two are lovable, rebellious scamps that say the damndest things and fight with all your hearts. I cannot take that away from you. You earned those Tag Team Championships with all the hard work and dedication after spending less than a year in HOW.
But I did that before you guys too. I came storming into HOW, destroying legend after legend and after having Brian Hollywood at my side; I won those Tag Titles after 3 damn months with him. I didn’t stand there awestruck, admiring those accomplishments. I kept fighting to defend those championships against HOW most ruthless competitors. I didn’t stop one single moment to celebrate and brag. I went to work and busted ass because I knew the blood, sweat, and tears needed to win those championships. I couldn’t take my eyes off the prize for my brother. I would have cost him everything he worked for too. Because to him those HOW Tag Team Championships mean everything.
We’ve main evented countless shows over them.
We’ve destroyed careers to keep them around our waists.
We proved those belts mean just as much to us as any fucking World Championship we’ve ever held in our careers.
That’s what this match means to us this week. We set aside all our damn pride, our ego trips, and our blood feud over these. We’re bringing the Hollywood Boyz back out of retirement from our PWX days to show our brotherhood and our unity. We’re tired of all the walkouts, the mistimed queues, and easy mistakes. We’re putting on our war paint, unifying and ready to go to war over those belts like we’ve never done in our 15 year careers.
Sure, it came out of nowhere, but that’s how we like to do things. That’s who we are. One minute we can be at each other’s throats and the next, we’re ready to divide and conquer whatever obstacle is in our paths. But we don’t care. That’s who the fuck we are. So get used to it Bandits, we’re tired of losing to you guys. We’re tired of you treating us like a free win. We’re tired of pissing our legendary careers away.
FUCK THAT SHIT!
This week, it’s time we show HOW we mean business. It’s time to do whatever it takes to make those glorious silver tag team belts get wrapped around our waists again. It’s time we sing our glorious rendition of the greatest 80’s rock song with our adoring fans in unison and eradicate that terrible remix of Thunderstruck.
We will be the champions at the end of this one my friends, and we will keep fighting until the end. We will be the champions! We will be the champions! There’s no more time for losing, we will be the Tag Team Champions of the World. Mark that down Bandits. It’s not a prediction; it’s a spoiler. You’re stepping into the ring with one of the greatest tag teams to ever set foot into an HOW ring. The same Tag Team Champions that took down Hall of Fame career after Hall of Fame career. You’re fighting brothers of 15 years, finally uniting and setting aside their differences. We’re coming to prove why we won those belts in the first place and blazed trails back in era two of HOW. And before you even realize it, we will strike you down with one final Lights, Camera, Action. And regardless if we’re rusty or not, we promise at the end of the night the crowd will know one fact to be true:
The Hollywood Boyz are Back in Town. And they came back for the HOW Tag Team Championships!