Blue Blood vs Blue Collar

Blue Blood vs Blue Collar

Posted on April 4, 2023 at 4:18 pm by Charles de Lacy

Charles de Lacy stood amidst the opulence of his parents’ country estate, surrounded by the glittering guests of high society, totally unmoved. As a card-carrying member of the British aristocracy, there were certain expectations – he was to attend the best schools, make connections with the right people, and uphold the traditions of his family. But there was one thing that set Charles apart from his peers: his enthusiasm for wrestling.

Ever since he was a young boy, Charles had been drawn to the thrill of the ring. The sweaty exertion, the adrenaline rush of competition, the satisfying smack of bodies colliding – it all appealed to him in a way that nothing else did. Despite the sneers and raised eyebrows of his fellow aristocrats, he had continued to pursue wrestling. It was a passion that he couldn’t let go of, no matter how many people looked down on him for it. Not that it was unusual for a boy of his standing to indulge in physical pursuits. Indeed, like many of his peers his involvement in the local cricket club was actively encouraged and his heroics on the rugby field – well, they were still the stuff of local legend. But professional wrestling? Why would anyone indulge in this peculiar American spectacle? The theatrics, the over-the-top personas, the absurd costumes – surely it was all just a case of (questionable) style over substance.

As Charles made his way through the throng of guests, his mind was preoccupied with thoughts of his other life. His trajectory since joining HOW had been dizzying, marked as it had been by rapid advancement and outstanding performances. In little over a month he had dispatched with a Hall of Fame inductee, a much lauded second generation prospect, and landed himself a HOTv title shot against Dan Ryan. The anxieties and self-doubt that had plagued him on his return to the squared circle had not yet been vanquished, but his recent successes had gone some way to massaging his fragile ego. He was starting to thrive on the pressure. He couldn’t wait to get back to the gym, to feel the burn of his muscles and the weight of the world on his shoulders. But as he tried to push those thoughts to the back of his mind, he couldn’t help but feel like an outsider in his own world. He didn’t fit in with the stuffy, pretentious crowd around him – and yet, he couldn’t deny that this was his world too.

Charles’ parents had spared no expense in hosting the party. The chandeliers glittered with a thousand lights, the tables were laden with sumptuous food, and the champagne flowed freely. The guests were a who’s who of high society – wealthy industrialists, titled nobility, and famous artists mingled and chatted in equal measure. Charles knew most of them, of course, having grown up with many of them. But as he made small talk with one group after another, he found himself feeling increasingly disconnected from them.

“How delightful to see you, Charles!” trilled Lady Julia, a woman with a face like a china doll and a voice that cut through him like cheese wire. “It’s been simply ages since we last saw you. How is your father, the dear man?”

“He’s doing well, thank you,” Charles replied with a smile that felt disingenuous even to him. “And your husband, Lady Julia? How is he faring?”

“Oh, he’s simply swamped with work, as usual,” Lady Julia replied with a sigh. “But I do think he’s on the brink of a major breakthrough, so there’s that.”

Charles nodded politely, trying to suppress the urge to roll his eyes. It was always the same with these people – talk of money, of status, of who was doing better than whom. His distance from Chicago suddenly felt insurmountable, despite being only a nine-hour flight away.

But just as he was about to excuse himself from Lady Julia’s company, he heard a voice that made his heart lift.

“Charles! Old chap, I didn’t expect to see you here!”

It was Lord Cyril, a close friend of Charles’ from his school days. Cyril’s life, much like Charles’, had veered away from the typical aristocratic trajectory and his penchant for ruffling feathers greatly endeared him to de Lacy. As children the two had frequently bonded over what others would euphemistically deem “niche interests”. One such commonly held interest was wrestling.

“Lord Cyril, what a pleasant surprise!” Charles exclaimed, a genuine smile spreading across his face. “I had no idea you were going to be here.”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world, my boy. Your parents always throw the most marvelous parties.” Lord Cyril clapped a hand on Charles’ shoulder, his eyes twinkling with mirth. “So, how’s the old wrestling career coming along?” he enquired with a wink.

Charles felt a warmth spread through him at the question. Here was someone who understood him, who didn’t judge him for his passion. Charles’ face lit up. “It’s going great! I’ve been taking down opponents left and right. I’m even on track for the championship!”

“That’s fantastic news, Charles! I always knew you had it in you.” Lord Cyril grinned at him. “You know, I’ve been thinking of taking up wrestling myself. Perhaps you could show me a few moves?”

Charles grinned, feeling a warm sense of camaraderie with his old friend. “Don’t tempt me old chap. I don’t need an excuse to box your ears in, especially after your antics saw poor Conrad expelled from the club.”

As the two of them chatted animatedly about wrestling, Charles felt a sense of belonging that he hadn’t felt all night. Here was someone who accepted him for who he was, who shared his passion and enthusiasm. For a brief moment, he forgot about the expectations of high society, the pressure to conform and fit in. All that mattered was the joy of wrestling, the thrill of the fight, the sense of community and camaraderie that would eventually come with it.

But as the night wore on, Charles knew that he couldn’t ignore the rest of the world forever. He couldn’t live in a vacuum, isolated from the expectations and demands of his upbringing. He knew that there would always be people who looked down on him for his love of wrestling, who saw it as beneath the dignity of an aristocrat. And yet, he couldn’t deny the thrill that came with it, the sense of purpose and fulfilment that it gave him.

As he bid farewell to Lord Cyril and made his way back to his parents’ home, Charles felt a sense of conflict within him. Should he conform to the expectations of high society, set aside his love of wrestling in favour of the traditions and values of his upbringing? Or should he pursue his passion, no matter what others thought, and risk further alienating himself from the only world he had ever known?

He couldn’t deny the joy that it brought him, the sense of accomplishment that came with each victory. And yet, he knew that there were those who would never accept him, who would always see him as an outsider, a rebel, a troublemaker.

But in the end, Charles realized that he didn’t have to choose between his two worlds. He didn’t have to conform to the expectations of high society, nor did he have to abandon his love of wrestling. Instead, he could be true to himself, follow his passions, and find a way to reconcile the two.

And that was enough for Charles. He didn’t need the approval of high society, nor did he need the acceptance of the wrestling community. He had found his own place in the world, and he knew that he belonged there.

___

 

Charles de Lacy sat slumped in the study of his parents’ vast estate, an open bottle of brandy at his side, his evening jacket carelessly slung over the back of the leather armchair supporting him. In front of him sat an antique chess board, the pieces arranged in a haphazard fashion, as if they had been played with and left untouched.

Charles leaned forward, swaying slightly as he began to ponder his next move. “You know,” he slurred to himself, “wrestling is a lot like chess. You have to think ahead, anticipate your opponent’s moves, and use strategy to outmanoeuvre them.”

He moved a pawn forward, knocking over a knight in the process. “See what I mean? You have to be willing to sacrifice a piece to gain an advantage. It’s all about strategy, my dear boy.”

He paused to take a swig from the bottle, then continued. “And the mental game, that’s the real key. You have to get inside your opponent’s head, make them doubt themselves. It’s like a game of wits, really.”

Charles sat back, looking pleased with himself. He felt as though he had just imparted a great wisdom upon the world, one that would forever change the way people thought about wrestling and… chess.

“The trouble is, for all his lack of grace that man Ryan is a crafty hen. Fancy saying he’d never heard of me! You can hardly call yourself a student of the game if you’ve never encountered Charles de Lacy”

While Kostoff and, to some extent, Bobbinette had been unknown quantities, de Lacy was more than aware of the threat that Dan Ryan posed. In fact, while their paths had never crossed their careers had certainly dovetailed. de Lacy had followed Ryan’s career with interest, sensing a kindred spirit.

“You could say he and I are cut from the same cloth. Both veterans of the sport, both willing to employ a bit of skullduggery to come out on top,” his brow furrowed in contemplation.

“However, this business of performance enhancing drugs leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It’s just not cricket, what? Not fair to the other chaps who are trying to make a go of it on their own steam, don’t you know? And what’s more, it’s just not sporting.”

As he sat there, the room spinning slightly around him, Charles couldn’t help but wonder if he had perhaps had a bit too much to drink. He laughed to himself, taking another swig from the bottle. Alcohol often had the effect of instilling in him an ugly sense of self-righteousness, and this evening was no exception.

“You know, old sport, I believe a TV champion has a duty to represent the company he works for with style and grace. It simply wouldn’t do to have a fellow like Dan Ryan as the face of the company, what?”

“Having a chap like that, who can’t seem to go five minutes without injecting something or other, is simply not the ticket, don’t you know? It’s dreadfully bad form and positively detrimental to the image of the company. Why, it would be like having a particularly unsavoury sort of fellow as the guest of honour at one’s aunt’s garden party. Simply not done!”

de Lacy took another sip of his drink and leaned back in his chair, a look of satisfaction on his face. ” “Well, I mean to say, one simply can’t have some old chap schlepping about with the championship belt from one promotion to the next without the fear that the blighter might pawn the blasted thing to fund his next fix. The very thought of it sends shivers down one’s spine, don’t you know? Why on earth the Bests thought it necessary to take pity on this poor sap and reinstate him… No, no, no. A TV champion must be a paragon of virtue, a shining example of all that is good and true about the sport. And that, my dear friend, is precisely what I intend to be.”

de Lacy’s attention drifted back to the chess board once more, his fingers deftly moving pieces around as he spoke. “Ah, yes, Dan Ryan may be a bit of a hulk, but that doesn’t mean he’s unbeatable, what? After all, time gives poetry to a battlefield, and as an elder statesmen of this fair sport I know better than anyone that it’s all a matter of strategy, really.”

“I’ve been doing my homework, you see,” he continued. “Studying up on his moves, analysing his strengths and weaknesses, and coming up with a plan of attack. You can’t simply rely on brute force alone, you know. Sometimes it takes a bit of finesse to outmanoeuvre your opponent.”

de Lacy leaned back in his chair, a sly grin on his face. “And besides, a little birdie told me that old Dan isn’t as mobile as he once was. I dare say that carrying that monkey on his back for so long has left our friend feeling as stiff as a starched collar on a Sunday morning! One can hardly imagine the strain on the poor fellow’s constitution, having to lug around all that extra bulk for so long. I daresay he’s going to have a tough time keeping up with a nimble chap like me once we’re in the ring together. All I have to do is exploit that weakness, and the championship belt will be mine in no time.”

de Lacy drained the remnants of the brandy bottle, smiling to himself once more. Perhaps his confidence was misplaced. Afterall, Ryan was no slouch in the ring. But then success, however fleeting, had always made him this way. A few victories and, in his eyes if no one else’s, he was once again the all-conquering hero.

“Ah, well,” he said to no one in particular. “What’s the harm in a bit of pontification? It’s all in good fun, after all.”

And with that, Charles settled back into his chair, content to spend the rest of the evening lost in a haze of brandy and musings on the intricacies of wrestling and chess.

 

___

 

Well, well, well, my dear Dan. It appears that we are two men of differing backgrounds and yet we have both found ourselves in the same arena of combat. A most curious circumstance indeed. You, a self-made man, and I, a man of impeccable breeding and upbringing. And yet, you seem to suggest that your background somehow gives you a moral advantage over me. How quaint.

You see, Dan, I do not subscribe to the notion that one’s wealth or lack thereof determines one’s worth as a person. I believe that one’s character and one’s actions are what truly matter. And while I must commend you on your resilience and determination, I must also point out that your humble beginnings do not make you inherently better than me.

In fact, I dare say that my breeding and upbringing have given me a moral and genetic superiority over you. I have been raised with a sense of duty and responsibility, to not only myself but to my family and to society as a whole. Family is ever so important, don’t you think? Broken families beget broken men. Rumour has it that your parenting skills leave a lot to be desired. “Go figure”, as you Americans are so keen on saying. I have been taught the values of honour, integrity, and chivalry, and I strive to embody those values in all that I do. After I teach you a lesson in the ring perhaps I could extend some guidance on the finer aspects of raising children.

And so, my dear Mr Ryan, while you may see yourself as a self-made man, I see myself as a man who has been given the tools and the upbringing to succeed in any arena. And in this arena, I shall prevail. For I am not just a wrestler, I am a gentleman, and a gentleman always emerges victorious.