So, it’s come back to this…
Expressing my thoughts in the form of a lengthy, stream-of-consciousness diatribe. In the form of a monologue essentially. Whether it be as the start of things to come or the conclusion of things freshly past, this seems to be what it takes to be a wrestler in High Octane Wrestling. A successful one, least. The evidence for that is myriad, but most notably Mike Best stands as testament to the fact. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not too egotistical to admit that Mike Best is probably the best wrestler in the history of this company. No matter the era, he’s always made his way to the top. Some can say that a result of nepotism, but that’s simply the prideful projections of lesser men.
In truth, he’s simply mastered the basics. He’s mastered countless things beyond that, but most importantly he has mastered those. As his latest (but not only) undefeated record can attest, he knows how to get under an opponent’s skin as much as he knows how to rile up a crowd. Be it his seemingly endless supply of trash talk or his actions in and out of the ring, he is a master of his craft. Once more in truth, I have a heck of a lot of respect for Mike Best. In further truth, I may even fear Mike Best. It’s for both reasons that I have an age-old mantra running through my mind.
I need to be like Mike.
Now, I don’t mean that in terms of general personality or dress sense. No, I mean in how he approaches matches. I mean how he handles in opponents. And I mean that in terms of both in and outside of the ring. In short, I need to remember what it takes to be a HOW wrestler. A successful HOW wrestler. One of the best HOW wrestlers. I’ve said it before but I’ve never really implemented it. But that changes now. Going forward, people are going to come face to face with a new Shane Reynolds. I’ll still be wearing a mask and be dressed like something out of Eric Draven’s wet dreams. I’ll still be quintessentially me…but I will be steps above in terms of deconstructing opponents and spitting in their faces. Literally and figuratively. I need to be better at trash talk and every part of this game we call professional wrestling. Because…
Well, because… and I think we can agree… because something has gone fundamentally wrong.
I returned to HOW to deliver justice upon Bobbinette Carey. And, I think it’s safe to say that I accomplished that. In the process, I went on a tear that saw me defeat opponent after opponent, claim a new championship, and come within grasping distance of matching Mike’s own win-loss-draw record. But then things seemed to careen off a cliff. I lost the HOTV to John Sektor and I lost the chance to fight for the World Championship to Conor Fuse. And I dropped out of the Top Five in the rankings. In short, these have been the worst few weeks of my career since I’ve returned, and may even be among the worst of my entire career.
Since that last defeat, I’ve had plenty of time to think. It would be so easy to blame things on Bobbinette Carey. The way she consumed my focus left me vulnerable to be picked apart by others I hadn’t studied enough. I could easily shrug off all these recent defeats as the curse she imparted upon my getting the pinfall, transferring it to me as I laid atop her like the countless STDs that she’s passed to Jace’s old man. But that would be too easy. Plus, I don’t have another fifteen years to waste on a grudge against her.
No, unlike the feebleminded Charles De Lacy, I’m laying the blame squarely at my own feet. I got complacent and let distractions become far too important in my life. I lost sight of the fundamentals and that’s why, once again, I need to be like Mike. I need to go back to GO and start from scratch. I need to break myself down and them build myself back up to the unstoppable machine I originally returned to High Octane Wrestling as. And I need to do that by equally breaking down my opponents. That goes, eventually, for Charles De Lacy (if he persists in antagonizing me) and even Conor Fuse. But, for now, it goes first and foremost for Brian Hollywood.
Have I ever faced him before? To be honest, I’m not sure. I probably have, as the name isn’t without familiarity, but I honestly can’t remember. Because, unlike Mike, he provokes no respect or fear. No, he only provokes the lowest of emotions: indifference. Like the cesspool of depravity that is his namesake, Brian Hollywood was just something some people had to merely tolerate now and again. And since the powers that be willed it so, I will step into the ring opposite him and tolerate him just long enough to defeat him.
And I will defeat him.
Ordinarily, I would have considered him too far beneath my station to contemplate. But, as I said, things have changed, and this match feels so perfect to be almost destiny. I will be maintaining singular focus on Brian Hollywood, studying him inside and out, every one of his rare wins and every one of his consistent losses. I will be learning every mistake I can exploit and every success that I can counter. In short, I won’t be taking you lightly, Brian, no matter how light a threat you actually are. Because I cannot be complacent any longer and I cannot tolerate another loss – be it against you or whomever is lined up against me afterwards. You will be the first domino that falls in restoring the era of Shane Reynolds back to what it was before Bobbinette Carey.
I have no doubt that you’ll have lots to say to the contrary. And I have no doubt that you’ll fire off a whole range of insults against me, both tired and pedestrian. Bring them on. All they will do is fuel the fire that’s once again starting to rage within me. All they will accomplish is making your aforementioned fall that much harder when it comes on Sunday night. All they achieve is making you look all the more foolish and deluded when I make you suffer for your sins and pin you in the center of that High Octane Wrestling ring. But, speaking of words, that’s much more than you deserve.
I’ll see you soon, Brian.
Despite not being booked to compete, the past two weeks had been no vacation for Shane. Every waking moment of the first week had been dedicated to watching and rewatching his matches with John Sektor and the fatal fourway with Conor Fuse, Steve Solex, and Charles De Lacy. And when he finally did sleep, his subconscious kept the loop going through the night. He studied each moment, trying to solve the mystery of how he’d let the HOTV title and the number one contendership slip through his fingers. There had been no easy answers, but he believed he had found them nonetheless. As such, the second week was spent training and working out, shoring up the gaps in his style and hopefully making such defeats harder for his opponents to accomplish.
Shane had allowed for no distractions from his new, single-minded and borderline obsessive focus – be them business or pleasure. All that mattered was the next match, whenever that would be. However, distraction eventually found him in the form of Charles De Lacy. Shane had watched the show for no other reason than to further study the rest of the roster, particularly Conor Fuse and STRONK! But the mockery had hit Shane like a tonne of bricks and filled him with a rage he hadn’t felt like squaring off with Bobbinette Carey at the pay-per-view. Tried as Riley might, the rage got the better of Shane, and his focused shifted towards revenge.
And that brought things to the present moment.
Shane glared out of the window as the plane came in for a landing. He had the row to himself, since nobody else in the section had wanted to be sat next to the masked weirdo dressed all in black. It was a request that the airline was fortunately able to understand and accommodate. That suited Shane just fine also. He wanted to keep his rage pure and focused solely on Charles De Lacy rather than a hillbilly who took his shoes and socks off. He was sure that would be whom he was booked against after the back and forth the last few weeks. As such, he was shocked when he received the announcement. The fact he would be facing Brian Hollywood instead was more surprising to him than witnessing Conor Fuse become the World Champion.
“Good for him,” Shane had muttered.
Those words would have equally surprised Riley, had she been around to hear them. They almost shocked Shane himself – though, deep down, the only reason he felt congratulatory was because Conor defeating STRONK! took the sting out of him winning the fatal fourway match. After all, it took considerable talent to overcome the man mountain, even if he took a shortcut and only pinned Solex to get there. Shane pushed it all aside though. He hadn’t changed his ticket from France just to backtrack his focus. Conor Fuse and the World Championship would come. For now, Brian Hollywood was the only person in the world that mattered.
“He’s example through which I will remind HOW not to take me lightly,” Shane had told Riley from a payphone in the airport. “I need to break him so completely, so viciously and unrelentingly, that people know that I have far from run out of steam.
The thin slip of clouds parted as the plane descended into bright, clear skies. It wasn’t long after that that the city came into view below. Rather than Chicago, however, it was the so-called City of Angels. The sun beamed relentlessly down upon it, already reflecting off countless tall buildings as the plane dropped lower and lower. Thirty seconds of that view was enough of that, however. Shane said as much before pulling the blind down and waited impatiently for the time to disembark.
That moment came in the blink of an eye – mostly because Shane nodded off, once more dreaming of all things HOW. This time in particular the look of Brian Hollywood’s finishing move. Before he could truly study it further, however, he startled awake. The hand that had tentatively touched his shoulder flinched back as Shane sat up straight. His eyes peered out from beneath the mask, turning towards the stewardess. She trembled ever so slightly, though she tried to hide it beneath an accommodating expression.
“Am I really that terrifying?” He asked.
The stewardess, whose nametag stated her name was Lisa, hesitated. She was clearly at a loss of what to say. As such, silence hung between them for a few moments. Eventually, she merely just said that it was time to exit the plane. She forced a smile onto her face directly afterwards.
“Well, I wish my enemies shared your dread,” Shane muttered as he pushed himself up to his feet. “If you think this is bad, you should see what’s underneath.”
“No thank you,” she said, perhaps louder than she’s intended. And almost as though she’d construed that as some kind of flirty pick-up line.
Shane had moved beyond caring, however. Instead, his mind had moved onto the worrisome feeling that had returned in that moment. As he’s stood up, he’d felt his back creak, his hips grate, and his knees strain beneath his weight. He hadn’t experienced such sensations for weeks. No matter how hard and long he had worked out, no matter the length and intensity of his matches, he’d felt fine. Now, though, he’d been seemingly bested by an airplane seat and his skeleton felt as flimsy and weak as those mock ones found in high school classrooms. The resurgence worried him more than a little as he manoeuvred out of his row, down towards the end of the plane and through the airport. He only made it a quarter of the way when the aches and pains restored a limp in his right leg.
“No,” Shane muttered, the thought of a decisive victory against Brian Hollywood rapidly slipping away and contorting instead into a moment of defeat. Much like the photograph in Back to the Future, Shane suddenly felt this new version of himself starting to disappear as his whole future started to rewrite itself. “Not now!”
Shane was knocked out of his revelry by a spandex-clad woman charging in his direction. She breezed right past him rather than at him though. Shane turned to see her leap into the waiting arms of a man Shane knew hadn’t washed his hands. He suddenly recalled a similar scenario from Die Hard. It would see that it hadn’t at all misjudged the city of California. His eyes narrowed beneath the mask and his lips twisted into a sneer. He hated the city already.
“So, why did you bring us here?”
Shane recognised Riley’s words immediately, even through the mask that Shane turned to see her wearing. Once again, he was struck by Riley’s peculiar ability to read his thoughts.
“It’s good to see you too,” Shane replied, stepping forward and desperately trying to hide the limp as best as he could.
“First you dash off to France without telling anyone,” Riley countered, boldly ignoring her master’s rebuke. “And then you randomly tell everyone to come to Los Angeles.”
Shane smirked. “You realize that I already know these things, right? I was there.”
“Yeah,” Riley answered with a scowl. “Meanwhile, we’ve been left standing in the dark. And we want to know why?”
Shane glanced at her from the side of his eye. Something inside him very much doubted that statement.
“I want to know why.”
“I’ve come to L.A. because I want to soak up the culture,” Shane said, perfectly in time with them exiting out onto the busy street outside the airport.
Riley looked around, sneering at anything and everything she surveyed as she did so. “But why? It’s vile.”
“Exactly,” Shane said, taken a deep breath of the smoggy, humid air. “And I want to choke on every aspect of it. I don’t remember a single thing about this Brian Hollywood. And he’s one of the people paid no attention to since I’ve returned. Equally, he’s been nowhere to be seen this week. So, I thought I’d be a little creative with my approach this time. To put it in his name, he clearly must be proud of his roots here. If I can’t muster up any hatred for him then I’m going to foster hatred for everything and everyone he stands for. I’m going to make him a symbol for every pretentious douchebag, every vapid attention-seeker, every facet of this morally bankrupt town. And I’m going to hold him account for its immeasurable sins.”
Shane turned to her fully.
“He hails from the City of Angels, well I’m going to embrace my nickname ‘The Angel of Death’ and destroy him worse than all ten of his previous defeats combined. And the more sinful and sickening examples of this city I encounter, the more rage I will be able to unleash upon Brian Hollywood. The greater the pain and suffering I will be able to unleash upon him. You understand?”
Riley nodded. “Well, it’s pretention and overbearing privilege you want, then you can start with this.”
She handed him the cup she was holding unnoticed by Shane. He took it and immediately sucked on the straw. He immediately regretted the decision, wincing as though in physical pain at his first ever taste of Boba Tea. He instinctively wanted to throw it away – littering laws by damned. But, for the sake of his cause, he forced himself to take another sip.
“And you are going to love the hotel,” Riley added.
“Lead the way,” Shane replied, his smirk growing more pronounced as he did so, even in spite of continued sips. And as he noticed more and more the snide, judgemental looks that he and Riley were provoking. The rage? The fire? It had already begun to burn. And with that, they headed for the nearest taxi.
The hotel was everything Riley had promised it would be and more. Even standing on the balcony, several storeys up and surrounded by shadows, Shane could feel the toxic energy radiating up from the pool area. People sculpted by far too many plastic surgeons than life experiences wandering back and forth, begging for every scrap of attention they could get. If he wasn’t still wearing his mask, which thankfully shielded his eyes from the blistering sun, Shane would have spat on them.
Instead, he turned back into the luxury apartment masquerading as a hotel room. Having gotten used to his simple living, despite his money and resources, this was a stark contrast. It was perfect, every bit the reflection of the privilege he assumed Brian Hollywood embodied. As a final course, Shane had already decided to trash it completely before the next few days were up and he had to venture onwards to Chicago. But first, he had to train again, then study some Brian Hollywood tapes, and then train for a third time. Such had become his morning, noon, and night routine in the last couple of days. But, even before that, there was something else he needed to do.
“You ready?” Riley asked as he moved back into the room.
“Nearly,” he said, closing the sliding door behind him.
Shane strolled through the living room area, still taking pains to hide his resurgent limp. The majority of his group were gathered on the floor, watching the LA-based reality shows on the giant, flat-screen TV. Shane had insisted that they be played constantly. All to further stoke the fire towards this vapid city. The rest, meanwhile, were sat on the luxurious leather chairs, scrolling through local entertainment news for further fuel. Unfortunately, most of it revolved around the current writers and actors strike and Shane couldn’t exactly disagree with them. As such, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis proving themselves sympathetic to a rapist had to do the heavy lifting on the rage front. He knew that Brian Hollywood was probably neither a rapist nor sympathizer but Shane was nonetheless to take his frustration of such views out on Brian.
“I’ll just be a minute,” Shane added, before slipping into the bathroom.
He turned the light on and surveyed the area. It was at least three times bigger than the entire cell/room he had occupied for the last few years. He sneered at it, with its immaculate marble tiles, jacuzzi bathtub big enough for five people, and a walk-in shower. Riley already had ideas for the bath that may necessitate a celebratory return. But, for now, Shane had only one thing on mind. He reached into his inside coat pocket as he approached the sink and stared at his reflection. For all the rage and determination that he had built over the last few days, it was suddenly washed away by a moment of doubt.
“You have to do it!”
Shane pulled his hand back from his pocket, revealing a vial of morphine and a clean, unused syringe. He made quick work of loading up the syringe with the recommended dose. Then, hesitating, he thought about the intensity of the training he had planned for the coming days. Long before the match itself. With that thought in mind, Shane impulsively pulled further on the plunger and loaded up a few extra milligrams. Sliding the needle into his arm, he paused to look at himself in the mirror one last time. He took a deep breath and pushed all doubt from his mind. He pushed down and injected the full lot into his veins.
“Ahhh,” he sighed with a relief as the liquid hit him almost immediately…
…but that relief rapidly evaporated. Unbeknownst to him, Riley had picked back up on micro-dosing him with morphine the moment he’d gotten off the plane. She’d hid within the sugary-sweet taste of the Boba Tea. As it had been a few days and because she wanted to get Shane swiftly back on track, she’d also put in a little extra that the usual dose. Shane knew none of this, however. All he knew, straight away, was that something wrong. He dropped the vial and syringe as the room became foggy and started to spin. The former cracked under his boot as he desperately lunged for the bathroom door.
“Riley,” Shane said in a slurred fashion, unsure whether he’d said it out loud or merely thought it. “Anyone?”
The door felt like it was a mile away but he eventually reached it. It equally felt like it took all of his strength to pull it open. Whatever he had left immediately went out of him. His legs buckled and he immediately fell to his knees. He tried to speak again but, whether in his head or from his lips, nothing came but a gurgling sound. It was then that Shane collapsed face onto the ground. Thankfully, his collapse made enough of a commotion to alert those in the next room.
As his eyelids started to drift down as unconsciousness assumed its grip on him, he had one last thought. That thought was of Brian Hollywood, and that this development, whatever it was, better not ruining his chances to defeating him on the next Chaos.
Yep. It’s me again. I couldn’t decide whether to open or close with this kind of thing that seems so popular. So, I figured I would go with both and hope for the best. Overkill? Maybe. But nothing bad ever came from overkilling something. To underkill must surely be the thing to avoid and think negatively of, right? Either way, I know what I believe and I know what approach I’ll be taking on Sunday night – should I actually make it that far.
As my soul, or consciousness, or figment of my hallucinatory brain, floats out of my body, there’s no full-on monologue this time. Instead, there’s just a collection of thoughts and only one word that comes to mind. One single, solitary word. And, thankfully, it’s probably the most fitting, given everything I said earlier and everything that’s happened this week. Looking down at my body, convulsing violently even as I lay unconscious. Looking down at Riley and the others rush in, panicked and desperate to help, that word burst from my ghostly lips as I hover above them, equally desperate for them to find some solution. For them to save me and bring me back to the land of the living. Because this can’t be it, this can’t be how things end – for both my life and career. Because this can’t be my final legacy. Because I still have so much left to do, I spit the word for all its worth.
To Be Continued at Chaos 43…Or Will It?