The earliest moments after a match can make or break someone’s spirit.
“He nearly folded Azula in half with that spear!”
I gave that behemoth everything I had.
“Azula grabbed the bottom rope!”
I took him by surprise, and survived his onslaught as long as I could…but it wasn’t enough.
“INTENTIONAL HOMICYDE AND THAT SHOULD DO IT!”
You can imagine my disappointment when I finally came to, hearing “Loser” playing in the arena and seeing Cornfield with his goofy-ass dance. Watching him present the HOTv title to GenoSyde nearly made me sick to my stomach…but I refused to let it break my spirit.
Was I disappointed in losing? Absolutely…but something was different tonight. This was the first time in a while I could keep my head up high after a loss. As soon as I possibly could, I got the hell out of Dodge and I got to planning.
The office saw something in me, that’s why they gave me this opportunity tonight. There will be other such opportunities, in due time. After all, we’re on the road to War Games now…and I know how to be a team player when I want to be.
More importantly, though, I have a chance to vent my frustrations the only way I know how…with violence. I’m gonna make good on my promise, and like some twisted Santa Claus I’m making a list and checking it twice.
I just need to get out of my head about tonight, first.
Long Beach, CA
I can’t think of a better place to be for my birthday. Refueled 94 takes place on Sunday from Atlanta, but I have zero desire to be there. I learned early on that if I’m not scheduled for a match—and I don’t have a statement to make—I’m better off staying home.
Of course, next week would be a different story thanks to a phone call.
“Mr. Azula, it’s so good to speak to you!”
One of Mike Best’s assistants, no doubt. After what I went through last year, I hadn’t anticipated being in touch with the office as much as has been happening lately…especially when one of the men in the office is the man that made me break my promise last year. My thoughts are interrupted by the voice of the assistant, unaware of the existential crisis this phone call has already sent me on.
“I’m not sure if you’re already aware sir, but you’ve been tapped as a possible War Games competitor for this year. Unlike last year, however, you will need to compete in a qualifying match to earn the spot.”
This gets a chuckle from me, given the slightly…odd manner in which I got my spot last year. The 214 was desperate for allies, and they tried to put their trust in chaos…clearly not a modus operandi the office would be interested in.
“I appreciate the offer. When am I competing, and who did you have in mind for me to face?”
Fair questions, for obvious reasons. Like I said, I’ll be there when necessary…and I’ll face whoever I need to. I was not expecting the response I got, however.
“We have you down for Refueled 96 in Columbia, South Carolina to take on Christopher Kostoff.”
I’ll admit it…I froze. Stunned and at a loss for words, trying to wrap my head around who I’d be squaring off against. This isn’t lost on the assistant on the other end of the line.
“Are you still there?”
I couldn’t help it…I let out a slight sigh. After facing two really tough bastards in Stronk Godson and GenoSyde, I was now looking to face possibly the toughest of all, a Hall of Famer at that. I couldn’t tell if this was a blessing or a curse from the office…but I will tackle the challenge regardless.
“Lovely, I look foward to it. For now, I’m going to enjoy the rest of my birthday, but I will see you all in Columbia.”
“Ah, happy birthday Xander! Will we be seeing you on Sunday in—“
I ended the call right then and there. If they want a statement, I’ll send them one…next week. I’m going to enjoy the calm solitude of the day, because tomorrow I go right back to work. Before I moved on with my day, however, I took a moment and jotted down Kostoff’s name and circled it with a smile on my face.
Because this list just took an interesting turn.
Mr. Kostoff. Christopher.
I always struggle to know how to best address the big bad wolf of HOW, but I will try to be as formal as possible.
If nothing else, you’ve earned that much respect from me.
I’ve heard whispers of people insinuating that I have no respect for the history of this company, but to be honest I have no idea where that idea came from.
I learned a long time ago to respect the past, and embrace the future.
I am well aware of what you can do, and what you have done.
A man who calls his finisher No Remorse isn’t exactly a softie.
Your reputation is one I admire, in all sincerity.
Ruthless. Aggressive. Violent.
The kind of man I can aspire to be.
The epitome of chaos.
My goddess smiles upon such an encounter.
To get into War Games I will need to go through a Hall of Famer whose name is spoken in reverence.
I’ve studied the tape.
I realize what I’ll need to evade to stand a chance against you.
And it’s a lot, if I’m being real with you.
A brawler that knows how to exploit the power game when necessary is truly a dangerous man.
And the last thing I want is to get too cocky, lest you trap me in an arm bar or STF.
So, how do you take on a vicious animal like Kostoff?
How do you stop a wolf?
It’s not something you can outrun, or outlast.
But if you can come up with a good, sound strategy, you can outwit it.
And strategies are where I thrive.
I live for the challenge of getting steps ahead of my opponent.
And you will be the perfect opportunity to try something new.
I caught the monster GenoSyde by surprise early on, but you?
You’re someone I’ll have to play the long game with.
To find the right moment to strike, and exploit the few weaknesses you do have.
That’s how I’ll take you down, and keep you down.
Strike hard, strike fast, that’s the old motto isn’t it?
You’re not someone who expects mercy from an opponent, and that’s good…because you sure as hell won’t be getting it from me.
I have an opportunity to overcome possibly one nasty, tenacious Hall of Famer and plant my feet firmly on the road to War Games.
Beating you won’t be easy, but it will be satisfying.
Cross that name off my list, move on to War Games, and see where my goddess will take me next.
Hail Eris, hail Discordia.