Cold open to the lens of an AMAZING 4K quality camera focusing on a sweaty Arthur Pleasant. Our Provocateur remains seated on a glossy blue metal bench in front of a row of black, double-tiered athletic lockers. Bright purple Under Armour shorts with black trim expose the inherent paleness and deep red scarring of his exposed shins. The Big Russian Motherfucker, Yuri Reznikov, stands slightly in front of his right flank. Yuri’s arms are folded, putting emphasis on the veins protruding from his ridiculously muscular arms, visually intensified by a “Moscow Death Brigade” band shirt that seems four sizes too small.
Arthur slicks his raven-colored hair back and scratches at the “X” scar on his right temple. One patron that walks by in the presumed undisclosed gym they were in does so with impeccable timing as he catches a spray of sweat flung from the careless hand of the inFamous One. The large, bodybuilder-type stops in his tracks and turns to look towards Arthur. Before he can say anything stupid, Yuri takes a step towards him. Despite the victim of Arthur’s makeshift sweat cannon being approximately six-foot-four, Yuri towers over him. The man thinks twice about saying something to Arthur, who mockingly puts his fists up as if to say, “Put ‘em up! Put ‘em up!” cowardly lion style.
wads of cum an obnoxious looking pair of Apple Airpods from his ears, Arthur tosses them behind him inside the open door of the bottom locker. Grabbing a towel to his right that had been draped over the five-foot wide metal bench, he wipes his face, hair, and bare chest. The yellow and red Watchmen tattoo on his upper left pectoral seemed to glisten in the locker room’s light, if not looking out of place on his pallid skin.
Cutting through the hustle and bustle of various naked men all traversing the locker room area, with digitally pixelated dongs courtesy of that awesome post-production team from goRe Productions, Arthur goes to speak directly to his bodyguard. However, he clearly wonders how to even broach the incoming subject. Nevertheless, Arthur just shrugs and allows his hands fall to his knees creating an unintentionally loud slapping sound, “I hate to beat a dead horse as it seems to have been discussed numerous times already, but… lemme make some delicious equine pie here and just fucking ask. Zion or Matthews?”
Keeping his eyes forward, making sure none of the sweaty North Texas scumbags tried to approach his client, Yuri slightly turned his head back towards Arthur.
“Ponyatiya ne imeyu. (Subtitles: Don’t know.) No intel available on this. At least, not within Wrestling High Octane.”
Arthur facepalms harder than a Captain Jean-Luc Picard meme. Who cares if they’re from about a decade ago. They’re still fucking funny.
“Jesus Christ, Yuri. It’s HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING. I’m having a hard enough time getting past the HOW acronym, so don’t start fucking with my head by getting me to inadvertently call it WHO.”
“Da. Understood.” Yuri says dryly.
Exasperated, Arthur growls, “So ONE day he’s Zion. The NEXT day he’s Matthews. Is that what you’re telling me?”
“Da. That’s about r-”
Arthur holds his finger up, interrupting Yuri without saying a word.
“Then another day he’s this fucking Zion, and then ANOTHER day he’s back to being Matthews?”
“THEN ANOTHER DAY ZION. THEN ANOTHER DAY MATTHEWS?!”
“THEN ANOTHER FUCKING DAY MATTHEWS, AND ANOTHER FUCKING DAY ZION?!”
Finally, Yuri decides that saying nothing is better than being interrupted again by his erratic employer. Arthur laughs to himself, burying his head inside the towel he previously used to wipe all the sweat from his body.
“Is this like a running joke or something? Seriously. How the fuck does one not have an identity in this day and age? How does he sign up to Netflix? We all know his lazy ass wasn’t unconscious for those five days after March To Glory and binge watched iCarly. So what name did he use when logging into his fucking account?!”
Yuri shrugs, obviously not wanting to speculate without concrete information on such an important question.
“What name does he put on his credit cards?!”
Again, Yuri shrugs. Frustrated, Arthur grumbles incoherently, throwing his towel down onto the locker room floor.
“I want to know why he’s booked as Darin Matthews when he has everyone in this promotion giving into his whims and needs by calling him Darin Zion. I… I need to understand this shit. Clearly, Darin Maybe Matthews-Maybe Zion has some kind of identity crisis going on.”
He pauses. Moments later, he snaps his fingers as if to say, “Eureka!”.
“I now know what we must do, Yuri.”
Static. Hold your balls and tits, though, because it’s only for a moment.
A close-up steadicam shot peels back a bit, revealing the index and middle fingers of Arthur’s shaking hands, applying pressure to both of his temples as his thumbs hold the underside of each flank of his jaw. Both of his ring fingers and pinkies search aimlessly in the air like worms protruding from the Earth during a mighty summer downpour. Beads of sweat trickle down to the point of his crooked nose, dripping to the grass beneath his feet.
Zooming out further, a rusty base holds up a sign that reads “Social Security Office: Dallas Branch”.
“Fucking Texas. Somebody please inform these inbreeder sister-wives and three-eyed brother-husbands that they skipped a fucking season. Then throw some beanless chili in their faces or something. I don’t fucking care. God fuck it all!!”
A frustrated, completely pissed off Arthur wipes sweat from his head similarly to how he did back in the undisclosed gym, but this time it’s from the humidity of Texas’ unforgiving outdoors. Yuri stands steadfast, meanwhile, in the same position we always see him in. You know, arms folded, looking like the Terminator and shit. Revealing that this is most likely being recorded and pieced together and edited and produced and whatever the fuck else over the course of a few days, Yuri no longer wears his Russian Hip-Hop band shirt and is instead adorned in a plain black, sleeveless t-shirt with no identifiable logos and black jeans. Arthur, meanwhile, sits with an unbuttoned, long-sleeve shirt that reveals an ethereal-like coating of flesh underneath.
Arthur makes an attempt to roll his sleeves up, but the flannel-like material fusing together with his own Hellish body heat makes it nigh impossible. Fed up with the amount of sweating during this promo, Arthur grabs a sleeve and begins pulling at it until the fabric separates between the shoulder and arm.
He successfully rips off the arm of his long-sleeve shirt and tosses it carelessly into the grass. Looking at Yuri, he shakes his head.
“Okay. How the FUCK are you wearing black jeans in this heat? Isn’t it snowing year-round or something back in Mustluvadic or wherever you came from?”
Yuri shrugs. On the Shrug-O-Meter, it’d be a seven out of ten. Yielding not an ounce of concern for his client’s current mental state, Yuri looks at his beautifully designed wooden Holzkern Watch on his right wrist and breathes a slight sigh of inconvenience.
“She is late.”
Arthur throws his hands up incredulously. Looking remarkably ridiculous with one sleeve torn off and the other half-rolled up like an unfinished joint, he retorts, “If she says fashionably, I just might cunt punt her.”
As if on cue, a metal door with the red words against a white sign reading “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY!” opens up. Yuri and Arthur had been waiting outside for some time now, so the sudden opening startled Arthur. A young, cute woman no older than twenty-five, wearing her hair up, and a beige skirt with a brown button-up and thin-rimmed glasses working for her with the whole librarian look, emerges.
Nervously looking in Arthur and Yuri’s direction, realizing she was doing something potentially illegal, or at the very least immoral, she hands them a large manila envelope.
Yuri nods, “Spasibo.”(Subtitles: Thank you.)
The name “DARIN [REDACTED]” appears on the cover in black Sharpie marker.
Arthur takes the envelope and tears it open. Yuri, meanwhile, hands this woman a wad of cold hard cash. She nods, and while reaching down with a key that hangs from her lanyard, she unlocks the metal door and disappears back inside, leaving both Yuri and Arthur to their own devices.
“What… the fuck…?!” yells Arthur.
Looking curiously at Arthur, Yuri tilts his head.
“Uh, considering EVERYTHING in here has been blacked out with marker, I’d say yes. There’s a BIG goddamn problem!!”
“Excuse me? ”
“Personally Identifiable Information. She did not want to risk the take.”
Arthur’s eye twitches. Whether it’s because of the PII issue or Yuri’s Yoda-like butchering of the English language is completely up for debate.
“No. No, no, NO. We didn’t just travel all the way to the fucking social security office, bribe some dipshit intern, only to be in the same exact situation we were in from the get go.”
“Da. This is problem.”
Arthur fumbles through the envelope. Taco Bell receipts. Informational surveys pertaining to everything from colon cleansings to post-cosmetic surgery. All with Darin [REDACTED] as the name.
“Son of a bitch. We… we have failed, Yuri. We have failed to unveil the greatest mystery in HOW history: just who IS Darin Maybe Matthews-Maybe Zion?”
“It is a great shame.”
“Indeed it is, Yuri! I guess we were never meant to know! Never meant to find out what name Darin Maybe Matthews-Maybe Zion puts on those official documents of his!” he says, sucking his teeth in an obvious moment of feigned disappointment.
“Never meant to know anything about him like we’re stuck in some kind of WandaVision-esque realm and he’s stuck on the outside, roaming aimlessly in his bubble.”
Arthur withdraws a lighter from inside the breast pocket of his now one-armed shirt. He holds the flame to the bottom of the folder, watching the flickering orange turn the tan to black almost instantaneously.
“If we were never meant to know the truth about the name… then there’s only one thing we can do.”
Clearly puzzled, Yuri scratches underneath his scruffy blonde beard, “I chto by eto bylo?(Subtitles: And what would that be? Would you like some toast with your hair sandwich, Pablo Escobar?*)”
“Destroy the man behind it.”
*interpreted by arthur pleasant in POST-post production
Don’t you just hate it when you crave something so badly but are forced into settling for the Brand X version?
Yeah. You’re triggered now, I know. Why? Because we’ve all been there.
Remember ordering takeout from that one place in Whatevertown, USA? Oh yeah. You know the whole bit already, don’t you? You can visualize it from wherever you’re sitting before I even have to say it. You can see the smallish print from inside that red action bubble on the side of the trifold menu that says, “Free Soda for orders over $25!!”. Whether it’s Chinese, Indian, Caribbean, or whatever the fuck, they all have the same type of special in pretty much every state in the country and every country in the world and every world in the galaxy and every galaxy in the YADDA YADDA YADDA.
You can even see the labels right about now, can’t you? Sure you can. Like I said, we’ve all been there. We can all identify with this shit. You see Coke. You see Diet Coke. You see Dr. Pepper. You see Sprite. The four cornerstones of any respectable takeout joint. Am I right or am I right or, perhaps, am I right? We’ll go with I’m right. Heh.
If you have an ounce of self-respect, you choose Dr. Pepper. Because… it’s fucking Dr. Pepper. Fuck Sprite and any variant of Coke. You can always get the tried-and-true shit when you’re dining out somewhere. But… Dr. Pepper**?! WHOA NOW, DOGGIE. Shiiiiit. You can count on one hand how many times it’s been an option for you. And now? Now’s your fucking chance to act and get something different
You can just taste the 23 flavors, can’t you? FUCK to the motherfucking YES. Swishing around over and over again in your mouth. Is that… Amaretto? Molasses? Nutmeg? Some kind of cherry, maybe? Excuse my boujee bullshit here but is that a soupçon of black licorice?! Mmm. Fucking delicious. You finish taking a big bite of your Szechuan Shrimp, Beef Masala, Jerk Chicken, or all of the above if you’re a recovering fat-fuck-a-holic that’s fallen off the fat-fuck-wagon like Bobby Dean, and you realize you need that first sip of the dreamy, carbonated goodness that’s waiting for you inside the stapled shut brown bag. Fuck seashells and the sounds of the ocean, if you take an empty aluminum can your dick might get hard/pussy might get wet from the bubbles you can hear coming from the last time you washed down some delicious takeout with a nice can of Dr. Pepper.
So you open the bag… and what do you see?
What… what is THIS shit?!
Dr. Fucking Thunder?! WHAT?!
What’s the tagline on those ads I kept seeing at Refueled again?
A shitty fucking Wal-Mart brand substitute?! REALLY?! No twenty-three Flavors wetting your whistle?! Just straight up goddamn cough medicine overpowering any modicum of sweetness or hints of those glorious preservatives you always took for granted.
You feel duped. Betrayed, even. Maybe even a little broom handled, if you catch my drift.
So what do you do?
Absolutely dick! That’s what!
You sit there and you fucking drink it. You could call the place you ordered from and bitch and piss and moan, but nobody will understand what you’re talking about nor will they even give a shit. Making faces as its lazily manufactured foulness ruins your taste buds that just fucking long for the original. Your tongue salivates, frustrating you to the highest levels as it begs for the original flavor that you know will be the only thing that leads to your ultimate satisfaction.
You don’t even want to open it… but… ugh. GODDAMMIT! You HAVE to, now! You have a thirst to quench regardless of what lies in front of you. Pandora’s Box has been opened, mon ami, and you already took a bite of your meal. You need something to wash that tasty, salt-saturated bite down, no matter how goddamn depressing that incoming coating of trash juice might be. You see that generic ass logo and the sight alone makes you physically ill.
You gag. You retch. You might even puke. But what’s done is done and you have no choice but to make the best of the raw deal that’s been dealt to you.
Still with me? Perfect. Here’s where I really ram the point up your stupid fucking ass.
I look at the bookings on HOWRESTLING DOT COM… and what do I see? I see that someone fucked up my order. Like, BAD. I see a generic fucking tragedy of a store brand version of Brian Hollywood. Someone who isn’t a 2-Time High Octane World Champion. Or even a ONE-TIME, for that matter. I see someone whose brand doesn’t even make it to the alphabet at ALL. The best designation we can hope for alongside the word “Brand” with this useless bag of rot is something in braille so that we can’t actually commit to reading the fucking atrocity.
Darin Fucking Matthews-Zion-What’s-It-Now.
Fuck you for being flat, flavorless, and just all around awful!
That’s right, Darin, you fucking sad sack of loser tears. In case you couldn’t figure it out by now, which I’m sure you haven’t, you’re the Brand X in this exquisitely laid out analogy. Because of that? I want you to understand something.
I stood in front of the entire fucking world on Refueled Fifty-Eight, letting the ravenous little St. Louis shitbags out in the Enterprise Center know that, come Refueled Fifty-NINE at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, they would bear witness to Brian Hollywood’s DNA sticking to the bottom of my boot. I stood out there letting the world know that I, Arthur Pleasant, would benevolently give my brand of violence upon one of HOW’s more seasoned competitors. Not the Brand X version of violence that we see in overrated, over-hyped pretenders like Teddy Palmer and Jatt Starr, mind you. No, Ma’am. Arthur fucking Pleasant’s brand. MY brand. The ONLY fucking brand that fucking MATTTERS in High Octane Fucking Wrestling.
I set up the HOW faithful with an immediate understanding that I would further put my impermeable abilities on full display. Not only would I do this, but I would DO this by destroying a former 2-Time High Octane Wrestling World Champion. Not that “Mr. Executive”, or whatever shitty moniker he’s given himself between one minute ago and now, is as good as the paper his championship history is written on mind you, but like a broken clock being right twice a day, Brian’s had some moments that elevate him ever-so slightly above some others here in HOW.
One of them being you, Darin.
JESUS Aitch Fucking CHRIST. Imagine, for a moment, what it’s like to be the lesser of two lesser-thans. What kind of world is that like to live in? Are there lines wrapped around the block no matter where you go? Do red lights last fifteen minutes longer? Has Brazzers been shut down? Has Lindsay Troy finally transitioned into the woman we all knew she wished she could be all along? Did the Baby Fighting Championship division finally get commissioned by the Son of Sigh-Ons? I mean… tell ‘em Darin. FUCK that must be a hard life!
Levity aside, since I (reluctantly) have to drink my Brand X beverage? I’m going to be even more blunt here. If Beautiful Bobby Dean truly is the bottom of the barrel here in HOW, then you’re the fucking shit smudge clinger-on hanging onto the underside’s rim after getting dragged through three miles of raw sewage. But it’s okay. Getting you instead of your light years more talented, still completely shitty teammate? It only makes me more driven and more focused to rain my fucking hell come Refueled Fifty-Nine.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. You BETTER goddamned believe it.
So instead of calling up Lee, bitching that he got my order wrong? I’m gonna roll with this bullshit and just beat the ever-loving fuck out of you. Yeah. ‘Cause it was inevitable, anyway. Whether it happened this week or happened four months down the line from now, it’s a pretty small world in HOW and we were destined to face one another sooner or later. Might as well be sooner, I say.
Besides… for you? Maybe this is a good thing! Like ripping the band-aid off instead of hesitating and thinking about the pain that’s coming, maybe shredding your flesh right down to the fucking sinewy tendons and hollow bones underneath all the while adding another tally to the wrong side of your win-loss record will do more good than harm. Maybe not in the short term, but certainly in the long run. Delaying the inevitable has never been a good practice for those who are slowly dying an undignified death. So, you’re welcome for that I guess.
But if I may pivot here? For a few weeks now, I have alluded to the fact that I am an advocate for change. I have even gone as far as employing the services of one of the most dangerous men NOT named Arthur Pleasant in order to help facilitate this idea. This… mission statement, if you will. That’s right. I’m talking about Mr. BRM himself, Yuri Reznikov. Rest assured, he’ll be at ringside. Ready to deal with anyone that may or may not have designs to interfere in what otherwise would be a lopsided affair.
Together, we are but the beginning stages of what the Guardians of REAL entertainment are bringing to the table, Darin. And judging from the countless references to your inability to win by virtually everyone in HOW, it wouldn’t be a high-risk venture in saying that you don’t know the first fucking thing about that sort of thing.
Entertainment, that is. God. I really shouldn’t have to explain that. FOCUS, motherfucker! ‘Cause your lack thereof is congruent to why you always get your ass kicked in HOW.
Point is, you truly do not know what you’re up against. Me? I’ve watched and waited and hoped and dreamed that I’d see something out of you by the time I debuted. You know, to pose an actual challenge and shit. But here we are, four months in from the time I started paying attention to your shitty matches, your shitty promos, and your shitty, whiny, channel-changing TV spots two matches in from the time I debuted… and nothing has changed with you. So I know what I’m up against, Darin, and it’s the same Brand X motherfucker that fell down a rabbit hole in the middle of Times Square and took nearly an entire week to recover.
If you need five days to heal after barely getting a scratch in a hardcore match, just imagine how long it’s going to take to recover after a date with a dangerous destiny aptly named Arthur Pleasant.
I’ve competed in some of the most brutal territories in the world, Darin. Whether it’s been in Japan, Mexico, Russia, or Saudi fucking Arabia, I have earned the countless scars that cover my body like so many nicks and scratches after a rough shave with a dull blade. You look at me and see a pale fellow with shitty tattoos and busted teeth. When I look in the mirror, I see a man who knows there is no pain that can keep him down. I see a man who willingly traveled to fucking Chernobyl, sans pip boy or any other type of Geiger counter, and fought some jack-ass for pennies on the dollar in a match that barely anyone saw. It took years off of my career and decades off of my life. But you know what I did the next day? I’m sure you don’t, Darin.
Allow me to enlighten you.
I didn’t fall into some faux-vegetative state in order to get your fans and viewers to “pity fuck” you. No. Nor did I have my female counterpart ask a bunch of white coats to do some closed-door tests on me so they can conveniently find nothing with me. Fuck, I didn’t even pass out after all the shit I went through. Nah, what I did was get on a plane and head to the next show on my itinerary. I didn’t have time to even think about allowing weakness to overcome me, whereas a bitch like you seems to brim with it at all times, nevermind after your last actual shot at… well, anything.
That’s the difference between you and me.
I mean, to be fair, there’s a shit ton of differences between us. But that’s one of the more important ones, I’d say. Darin gets punched in the nose? He coils up in a defensive position and waits for the pain to subside. When I get punched in the nose? Hahaha. I use that pain to my advantage and simply take it out on my fucking opponent. I absorb whatever is thrown at me and redistribute accordingly. Put me in Times Square at March To Glory and I’m not only walking out of it under my own volition, but I’m walking out as the LSD Champion.
Starting to get it now?
It makes no difference to me whether you do or don’t. Because this isn’t playtime with Arthur like it was in my debut match. Nah. There’s nothing fun about being stuck inside a match with a Brand X motherfucker like you. In this one, I’m aiming to correct someone’s mistake by making chicken cacciatore out of chicken shit. And my aim is sublime, Darin. My aim is as flawless and unavoidable as the shine from a red diamond.
And… psst! If you look at that funny little laser dot in the middle of your soft, newborn-like forehead, you’ll notice that my aim is pointed directly at you.
See you soon, Darin Doesn’t-Matter-What-Your-Last-Name-Is-‘Cause-You’re-Never-Going-To-See-It-On-A-Nameplate-As-Long-As-Arthur-Pleasant-Is-Around.
**if you don’t drink Dr. Pepper then fuck you