We open outside the Arena, just moments after a tough match resulting in a loss for Xander Azula to Jatt Starr…and the Fighter is furious as he steps through the exit door, huffing and puffing in rage as he tries to process what just happened. It’s all he can do not to try and punch a hole in the wall behind him…and yet, the anger overtakes him, and he tries anyway.
And he regrets it immediately.
Yelling out obscenities, he pulls his hand back, wriggling his fingers to make sure nothing is broken…and lets out a sigh of relief when that turns out to be the case.
That moment, that lapse of judgement, gets Xander to thinking to himself…
How many punches does it take to get through a brick wall?
Only one way to find out.
Keep swinging, keep landing those shots.
And above all else, try to knock out a single brick at a time.
After all, once you see that first hole, you know you’ve made some progress…and then you can start to dismantle the whole thing.
Brick by brick.
That’s always been the trick, hasn’t it Jace?
Every time we’ve faced off, you’ve made it a point to make the same jab over and over again, trying to make a dent.
“You’re not important, you don’t matter.”
A lesser man would’ve taken those words to heart and quit long ago, Jace…but I am something else entirely, these days.
I’m a fighter. A warrior.
I’ve got the heart of a champion…and I’m about to grab some gold to prove it.
Actions may speak louder than words, but you’ve had your fair share of both over the past several months…and it’s getting tiring.
And I sure as hell don’t like being bored…so now, it’s my turn to start punching away.
Let’s chip away at the brick wall that is Jace Parker Davidson.
A certified Hall of Famer, a man who holds the LSD Championship, the lineage of the ICON Championship, and the HOTv Tag Team Championship…and sure loves letting everyone know.
Running your mouth anywhere that would listen to your bullshit…it’s no wonder you got masked men running here from Vegas to come after you.
If we’re really gonna run down all the differences between you and I, let’s touch on just one more…I beat the guy coming in from an outside promotion trying to encroach on my turf.
You? You went and lost, Jace. People outside HOW may not know my name, but I’d count that as a blessing compared to “the man who lost to The Anglo Luchador at the Best Arena.”
But, that’ll make beating you all the sweeter…because after Sunday, I’ll be the man that beat Jace Parker Davidson in that very same arena.
And I’ll take the LSD Championship right out of your grubby paws.
Paws that you can barely seem to keep to yourself whenever a woman happens to cross his path, whether it’s in HOW or elsewhere.
It’s been tiring as hell watching you harass Bobbinette Carey, just like you’d harass no less than three other women in the past year give or take.
You’re a walking HR nightmare, Jace.
And since the guy who used to “run” that department isn’t around, I guess you’re stepping into my office this Sunday…only here, instead of slapping you with a cease and desist, I’m likely to smack you upside that head with a steel chair.
And all for a championship that has dipped its toes in the hardcore as much as in technical prowess. After all, the LSD and ICON titles were once two sides of the same coin, highlighting the workhorses of HOW that weren’t always challenging for the World Championship.
Four title reigns to your name is nothing to scoff at, Jace…it’s just a shame this one has to come to an end so soon.
Because you, like Jatt Starr and the rest of whatever we’re calling Lee’s cronies these days, decided to test me…to push my buttons.
Your attack on Joe Bergman may have been a message to the Highwaymen, but like a stone tossed in a pond, your actions have rippled out to a man who’s angry enough to make a beeline for the King of Everything…and take it all away from him.
Brick by brick.
Starting with your well-being, an opportunity afforded to me by the No Disqualification stipulation set for this title bout. Since you showed Coach no mercy, you will receive none from me.
Misery, misery, misery…that’s what you’ve chosen, Jace.
And now you’re gonna get it right between the eyes when I keep plugging away, breaking away another couple bricks in the wall…and I will take what’s rightfully mine.
Your pride…your title…and a chance to shine at ICONIC.
After all, what is Lee gonna do? NOT have the new LSD Champion defend his title?
Don’t be silly.
ICONIC is for the best of the best, and I will earn my place at your expense.
Just by chipping away at your defenses, until you either look up at the lights or find yourself submitting to my superiority.
The options are vast, Jace, and they are at my disposal.
I will make you regret laying your hands on my coach, and with any luck I’ll make good on a promise I made to another Hall of Famer.
Ray McAvay sends his regards, you rat bastard.
And when I’m done, the whole wall will come crumbling down.
“That’s the spirit, Xander!”
A long, grueling session of training rolls on at the Barn, with Dawn McGill offering a word of encouragement as the Fighter continues his sparring session, trading blows with Tiny, one of the Beer Bellied Softball Playin’ Ninja, before sending the big man to the ropes and connecting with a drop toe hold that brings him down hard to the canvas.
Xander offers a hand to the Ninja, a moment of sportsmanship reserved for his fellow trainee as the big man takes a hold and brings himself up back to his feet. They begin exchanging holds, with Xander focusing on breaking out of the grip of his larger foe, to practice counters and takedowns until Dawn calls for the session to end.
“Alright boys, wrap it up!”
The pair give a handshake to show no hard feelings after such a grueling bit of training, as Dawn steps away for a break. Xander takes a seat on one of the benches at ringside, wiping the sweat from his forehead just as he notices his Eternal Circle crew entering the Barn.
Seeing their presence instantly reminded Xander of the task at hand, as he knew they’d be leaving training shortly to head back to Chicago for what has quickly become a very important match at the Best Arena. Mysti takes a seat beside the Fighter, speaking up with a question that coincides with this very thought.
“What’s the plan, Xander?”
Xander can’t help but chuckle at the question, if only because of what he knew his response would be…as he shrugs his shoulders.
“I finish up here, we get on the road, and head back to Chicago. I, uh…I don’t really have the time or energy to plan out a road trip this time around, and if I’m gonna be stuck traveling on Thanksgiving, I’d rather be situated in one spot for the rest of that weekend. Besides, I need to see if I can get a hold of someone at the office…and I might well need to kick a door in to do it.”
This, of course, refers to his big plan for ICONIC…a plan that was already starting to go south for the Fighter. Xander knew he couldn’t let his machinations get in the way of the match against Jace, but he figured getting to Chicago early would afford him a chance to maybe sneak in the door that weekend…or, as he’s just hinted at, kick in a door.
Any means necessary, and all that.
Mysti can see the look in Xander’s eyes suggesting such a sneaky scheme, immediately questioning it with concern on her face as she chimes in again.
“What happens if they just flat out tell you no, Xander? It’s entirely possible Mike just has no interest in–”
This doesn’t sit well with the Fighter, who cuts her off.
“I’m fully aware of that possibility…but if everyone else wants to push and shove and try to get what they want, I think it’s about time I do the same. It’s not like I’m trying to finagle my way into a title match…no, that’s something they’ve set at my feet this weekend. What happens to Jace is gonna be on their hands, but so help me…if I can’t get what I want, I will gladly take his place as the LSD Champion going into the last super show of the year. If that doesn’t get Mike’s attention, I don’t know what will.”
“And what then?”
This time it’s the burly Vagn Dahl, Xander’s right-hand man, who interjects. The look on the big man’s face is less of concern and more focused as Xander responds with a smirk.
“Well, come hell or high water I plan on walking into ICONIC with something…whether it’s a championship or a signed HOFC contract. We’re at the endgame now, Vagn. I didn’t come all this way, work this damn hard, just to be denied…and I sure as hell don’t plan on dealing with foes I’ve already conquered and vanquished. A man of my talent deserves to be kept on his toes, it’s how he stays sharp…and I plan on cutting right through ol’ Jace come Chaos.”
With that, Xander rises from the bench, his brow furrowed from the frustration building up inside as he motions toward the front door of the Barn.
“I’m gonna go for a walk and cool off, we’ll head out in five.”
The crew nod in response, an acknowledgement of what amounts to a direct order from their proverbial general as Xander makes his exit from the Barn. He thinks about the trip and itinerary for the week, a straight shot to Chicago where they’ll stay for the weekend. Deal with Jace, try and deal with the office, and then…who knows?
“Never mind the turkey, I’ll take a deep dish pizza this year.”
Xander chuckles at his dumb remark, a smile on his face as he heads to the van. Shortly after, the crew follow suit, pulling away as we fade to black.