Over the past three weeks, the constant panging and throbbing of Darin Zion’s broken nose kept him awake. No matter what method REAL LOVE tried to fall asleep, it failed. The pressure from the fracture thrusted him woke him from his 2-3 hours patches of slumber. During this time, The Master of the 4Z Network decided to room with his newest mentor—Maximum Mark Magnum.
Zion inquired about an extended stay in Las Vegas. Under normal circumstances, Darin would power through the agony without help. His pride wouldn’t let him ask for help. But Frank Dylan James had done such a number to his face; Zion required pain medicine. And we all know Zion did not want to succumb to his inner demons once again.
After a long night of tossing and turning in bed, Zion leapt up and headed towards the balcony. At the advice of Magnum, he crossed his massive calves and closed his eyes. For the last hour, REAL LOVE spent his time clearing his mind. The bright, vibrant moonlight from the 3 AM sky calmed his nerves. Lost in his solace, the proprietor of Z-Mobile Industries let his shoulders relax. In a stunning act, Darin didn’t move around much, retaining the most focus ever. Feeling the heaviness of his eye lids, Zion leapt up from his position. Finally, the master of Ver-Zion Wireless could relax and fall asleep.
Darin reaches over to pop a couple Percs, hoping to wear his body down more. But before the former 25-time champion could hit the sack, his Zi-Phone 14 Max beeped in the background. The exhausted HOW star drags his feet against the concrete beneath his feet. Letting out an exasperated yawn, Darin pulls his phone off the table. Swiping through his notifications, one notification catches Zion’s attention in 1080z. The former ICON Champion lobs his phone off the side of the building at full force before exclaiming at the top of his lungs.
Darin Zion: You’re FUCKING kidding me! FUCK LEE BEST! FUCK THAT SATANIC SANTA CLAUS KNOCK OFF HARD! I swear this guy’s parents were OCW superstars. Because that’s a move I’d expect those dumb fucks to pull.
Darin sulks for a minute, crossing his arms against his chest. Pacing back and forth, the injured HOW star rants and raves like a madman.
Darin Zion: Not only did Lee violate my doctors’ orders; he breached my fuckin’ contract too. I told that circus clown to NEVER…EVER…to let me near Brian Hollywood again. I didn’t care if it was as a fuckin’ Tag Team or a singles match. I refuse to fight that worthless piece of shit who ruined my HOW career. You BEST believe I’m contacting the best lawyers money can buy this week. I’ll throw that dipshit under so much litigation—I’ll own his fuckin’ #97RED baby.
REAL LOVE rolls his eyes into the back of his head. Stomping back into his room, he continued to mutter underneath his breath. As Darin re-entered the house, his eyes darted over to his sleeping mentor. Zion knew not to awaken the Las Vegas Indy veteran from his slumber. Otherwise, he’d suffer steep consequences in training class tomorrow.
Darin Zion: Seriously, how can Lee Best be that fuckin’ blind. His doctors gave him robotic fuckin’ eyes. The print in the doctor’s note is even blown up to size fuckin’ 9.7 Calibri print. It says I cannot wrestle in high stakes singles matches, even with a damn face mask. I can only partake in LIMITED TAG TEAM action. And Lee knows I’ll pump all my energy into making sure Brian Hollywood can never walk into an HOW ring ever again. There’s too much at stake when my former best friend and I cross paths.
After making it into his guest room, the troubled Zion flings himself into bed. The gears in Zion’s head begin turning trying to find some way out of this predicament. Instead of falling peacefully falling asleep, now Zion’s blood is boiling. The veins at the top of his forehead throbs with intensity. Clinching to his covers, Darin’s face glares off into the distance, dreaming about revenge.
Training class at the Elite Training Facility in Whitney moved at a snail’s pace today. The Vi-Zion-Ary could barely keep his eyes open watching Mark’s new recruit class. Between yawning and nodding off, Zion fought like hell to make notes of the young lion’s vying for their spots. Most these kids never stepped foot into the ring in front of a crowd. Their performances were greener than GREAT SCOTT’S HOT VEE Championship belt.
Every bump they took rang Zion’s bell so hard, he kept rubbing his forehead. REAL LOVE kept shaking his head at each sequentially car crash these young kids kept showing him. Every time Mr. Magnum kept checking on Darin—The Leader of the Zionist movement would shirk him off. The intensity of Zion’s scowl increased throughout the day. Halfway through the class, Zion rolled into the tiny 16X16 foot ring. The former HOW Tag Team Champion halts all training and begins laying into his rookies.
Darin Zion: They may call me REAL LOVE, but it’s time for some TOUGH LOVE for you worthless jobbers. I read all your wrap sheets, and for the lot of you—I can tell you don’t have six months experience. You look like we plucked you straight out of an aquarium. You’re flopping and flailing around carelessly like you’re dying. FUCK THAT SHIT. DO BETTER! LOVE YOURSELVES BETTER THAN THIS SHIT! We sent you the GOD DAMN training videos. YOU SHOULD HAVE MEMORIZED HOW TO TAKE A FUCKIN’ BUMP!
Zion walks up to a random kid and slaps him at full force across the face. The youngster drops stiff towards the mat before Zion places his boot on his gut. Watching the kid struggle for a moment, the 18 year veteran press down on the kid’s sternum. After a while, the benevolent Zion reaches down to pull the kid off the ground. The 4Z Network Owner nods with a slight smirk on his face.
Darin Zion: Ah! You’ve got some moxie in that tank, kiddo. Color me impressed! What’s your name?
Darin Zion scans the young, buff rookie up and down a couple times before the kid gives him a timid response.
Kid: The name…the name’s Chet Kirkpatrick, sir and…
Darin Zion: Well then Mr. Kirkpatrick, give these fools a fuckin’ clinic. I saw your sheet. 3 year rookie looking for a new home. You already won one of those cardboard belts in a Backyard Fed. Show these worthless motherfuckers how it’s done.
Before Zion can clap back at Chet; the rookie floors Zion with a picture-perfect Belly to Belly Suplex. Bouncing off the ropes, Chet hits a beautiful springboard moonsault onto Zion’s sternum. Before Kirkpatrick can continues, Mark Magnum cuts him off at the pass. The Maximum Man pushes the kid back while Zion’s eyes beam with glee.
Darin Zion: Color me impressed, Mr. Kirkpatrick. You proved me wrong.
Towards the late afternoon after training class wraps up, Chet picks up his stuff. Kirkpatrick advances towards the terrible makeshift locker room. It’s located in the corner of this warn down facility. As the young backyard sensation reaches for his bags, Zion pins him in the corner.
In the manipulative HOW veteran’s hands, a contract and pen are firmly held. Darin plants the documents on the chair to the side nearest the kid. The Master of NFZ’s eyes widen while he’s salivating at this prospect. Cracking his knuckles, Zion presents the kid an opportunity of a lifetime. Meanwhile, off to the side, Mark Magnum’s ears perk up at their conversation.
Darin Zion: Chet, I’ve got to hand it to you. You’re the best student this class has to offer. I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a predicament this past week.
Chet takes a moment to scratch the thin goatee on his face before firing off some trash talk.
Chet Kirkpatrick: Isn’t that always the case with you, sir? You’re always firing off your mouth, digging yourself a proverbial grave. But go on…I’m sure what you’re offering might pique my interest.
The authenticity from Zion’s excitement fades. The HOW, MVW, and PRIME superstar clamps down hard on his lips with his teeth. Shaking his fist, controlling himself, Zion’s tone shifts up a couple levels while he speaks.
Darin Zion: THAT! That right there is why Darin Zion LOOOOOOOOVES you, Chet Kirkpatrick. You got moxie. In fact, you’ve got more moxie than a former best friend of mine. He’s a former HOW World Champion…I’m sure you know the guy.
Chet Kirkpatrick: Oh yeah! I’ve heard about that washed up hack. Dude still thinks his FBI/CSI storyline is over after 10 years. He’s trying to play off the fact he’s over chasing his past, but his lack of evolution shows us differently. He’s touted this Chair bullshit doesn’t distract him, but the guy could bother to bring his best effort last week. And that’s AFTER he knocked off Scott Stevens the previous week.
Darin Zion: Yeah, definitely man! Hollywood’s fallen asleep at the wheel one too many times. He tries to spout off all this excitement behind his stories. But he can’t land the plane to save his ass. I’m sure right now the man is desperately trying to goad me fight him in the ring. Hollywood’s looking to regain his winning streak at my expense. Probably begged Lee Best to book me against him this week.
Chet raises his eyebrows in confusion as he eyes Zion’s face. Kirkpatrick stares at the ugly plastic face mask that Zion’s worn all day in class. Before giving a sympathy wince to his trainer, Kirkpatrick’s eyes shift to the contract in the chair. Chet nods before shooting Zion an enthusiastic smile.
Chet Kirkpatrick: So, you want to throw him off his game? You wanna toss him a wrench instead of a softball, eh?
Darin Zion: Oh Heavens no, kid. Frank Dylan James could have chopped off my arms, and I still could beat Brian Hollywood with only two feet these days. He lacks any impressive qualities. Hell, I could have invited the greenest shit stain in our class to defeat that schmuck. Any random jobber off the streets could defeat Brian Hollywood these days. He’s floundering around because the big boys came home to fight. Hell, he’s lost himself in the shuffle by failing to make simple tweaks and reading the room.
Darin Zion throws his arm around Chet’s shoulder pulling him in closer.
Darin Zion: I’m giving you the best chance to shine. After 3 long, hard fought years; you get the chance to show your skills off on National TV. I’m giving you the golden opportunity to knock off a former HOW World Champion with no strings attached. Once you win against that hack, every PWA promotion will come knocking on your door. They’ll beg for you to join their rankings. It’ll put the ETF on the map. All you gotta do is sign that contract. It’ll keep that worthless hack of a “friend” from dragging my career back down to the depths of hell WITH HIM. What do you say?
Chet takes a moment to ponder the opportunity. As the newcomer bends down to sign the contract, a sudden flash happens.
To the chagrin of Darin Zion, Maximum Mark Magnum rushes from out of nowhere to his signature running knee: MAXIMUM IMPACT to the jaw of the rookie. With one quick motion, he lifts the pen up from the chair. Slapping the contract on Chet’s back, the 30-year veteran puts the ink to paper. Magnum lifts his trainee up and smashes his head against the wooden locker, causing the kid to bleed out.
Zion’s jaw drops straight to the floor while he throws his hands up behind his head. Scalding his mentor, Zion smashes his index finger stiff into the old man’s chest.
Darin Zion: WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO?! You’re about to cost me FUCKIN’ MONEY?! Your 60-year-old ass can’t handle a former HOW World Champion.
Mark marches right up into Zion’s face and glares him straight in the eye. In a calm demeanor, he retorts back towards REAL LOVE.
Mark Magnum: For God’s sakes, I’m 48! The years of hard drugs and alcoholism didn’t age me well. You don’t pay enough attention, do you, Zion?
Darin Zion: Well, I’m fuckin’ sorry you old shithead. REAL LOVE only cares about himself. How could you royally fuck me over like that.
Thrusting with all his might, Maximum Mark Magnum pins Zion against the brick wall. Hoisting his mentee up by his shirt collar, Magnum stares Darin Zion straight in his eyes. His stark tone quiets Zion’s attitude.
Mark Magnum: I’ve bided my time since I turned 18 years old for my shot at a match on National Television. You didn’t think I would maul ANYONE who stood in my way to achieve that dream? Even my own fuckin’ meal tickets?! You’re insane if you think I’d let that child steal MY opportunity, Zion. I don’t care if it’s Brian Hollywood, Kostoff, or fuckin’ Mike Best himself. I wanted that match, and I took it by any means necessary. If I can do that to my two best students; imagine what I’ll do to my enemies. Now pack your fuckin’ bags, sir. We head for San Francisco in the morning.
It’s Friday…and you know what that means?
Two days before Mark Magnum’s biggest break on Chaos 013. After a grueling trip listening to a griping Zion, Mark Magnum’s problems melted away. Today’s practice day almost gave the hardened veteran goosebumps. Mark kept glancing all round at the 18,000-seat venue. His face lit up like a child’s on Christmas Day. The mere fact that his dream is inches away brought a new life to the Maximum’s battle worn body. No longer did he feel the stiffness in his knees and back. The shot of adrenaline gave the grizzled man new life. Heading up the steel ramp to the HOV, preparing to practice his entrance, Magnum kept limbering up his body. Mark jumps in place before ONLAP’S “Losing My Mind” blares across the speakers.
While smoke arises and Magnum throws his arms in the air—Zion sits on the entrance ramp, crossing his arms against his chest. REAL LOVE’s sneering while watching his mentor hype himself up. Magnum slaps hands with the ring crew filling in as fans while Zion shakes his head. As REAL LOVE tries to head back to the locker room, Brian Bare comes shooting down the ramp to incept Mark Magnum.
Mark’s smiling ear to ear, waiting for his introductory interview. Shaking Bare’s hand and embracing him, Mark motions for some camera crew to come over. Zion slithers his way back into the shot. Bare pulls out a microphone to begins the formal introductions.
Brian Bare: Greetings everyone on HOWrestling.com. Here in the land of High Octane; the card is always subject to change. As everyone knows, Darin Zion’s incapacitated with a gruesome face injury…
Bare looks behind Magnum and notices Zion with his ugly face mask on. Almost leaping into the air, the frighten Bare tries to regain his composure. Magnum chuckles under his breath while Zion shoots him a dirty look.
Brian Bare: While Chaos 013 advertised the much-anticipated 11th billionth encounter between former best friends Darin Zion and Brian Hollywood, it’s obvious medical doctors will not clear Zion in time for such a perilous match against his heated rival. Stepping up to the plate in his place; we’ve got a real treat for fans. Darin Zion has exercised a substitution clause in his contract. After searching the globe, Zion found a suitable replacement. Joining me today—this man spent 30 years on the Las Vegas Independent scene. And let me tell you—he’s got a pedigree. Not only his he a former amateur wrestler who earned NCAA gold, he held the Las Vegas Pro Openweight Championship for an impressive 5-year streak.
Darin Zion twirls his hand in the background, motioning to Bare to shut the fuck up. Bare turns his nose on Zion to focus on Magnum.
Brian Bare: Please give a warm, High Octane Welcome to Maximum Mark Magnum!!!
Magnum takes the microphone from Bare’s hands, looking the camera straight in the lens.
Mark Magnum: Thanks, Brian for the magnificent introduction. I appreciate the…
From out of nowhere, Zion snatches the microphone from his mentor’s hands. Pushing Magnum to the side, Zion gets into frame and school Mark on a first promo.
Darin Zion: Marky, let REAL LOVE show you how this is done first.
Zion turns over towards Bare to cheese for a minute.
Darin Zion: It’s his first day and all…
Taking a moment to adjust his face mask then his suit collar, Zion continues to ramble on incessantly.
Darin Zion: REAL LOVE is a BENEVOLENT man…unlike that real turd burger, Lee Best. Instead of throwing passive aggressive shade at the wrestlers I influence—I shower them with LOOOOOOOVE. I couldn’t thank Mark enough for the massive amount of energy he’s invested into me these last few weeks.
Zion yanks Mark into frame, holding him in place. Giving the faded-red haired vet a stiff squeeze, Mark attempt to squirm his way out.
Darin Zion: I LOVE THIS MAN MORE THAN I LOVE MY OLD BEST FRIEND. Why? Because this man gives EVERYTHING, he does MAXIMUM EFFORT. Unlike Brian Hollywood you know what you get week to week with him. He doesn’t only put the best foot forward randomly. It’s 24/7/365 here with Mark. And what’s great about him? He’s not a leeching off former accolades all the time. He doesn’t dig into the same old bag of tricks.
SLAP! SLAP! SLAP!
Zion slaps Magnum on the back with a hard slap, sending him forward a bit.
Darin Zion: Mark’s a blank slate ready to drive the stake into the heart this decrepit, old, worthless hack named Brian Hollywood. Who at this point, might I say could probably lose to a fucking mop. You know…because the mop has more personality in one of its Brussels than Hollywood has mansions.
Zion crack himself up on camera before Mark Magmum gets right in his face and whispers audibly towards the camera.
Mark Magnum: Shut up, Zion! You’re embarrassing me on live television.
Both men squabble for a minute before Mark cuts Zion off at the pass and pushes him a bit. Both men glare at each other before Mark barks straight at Darin.
Mark Magnum: I can cut my own damn promos. Thank you! Now excuse yourself, incel.
Zion continues to stare at his friend before backing down and storming off camera. Bare looks on rather confused while Mark continues with the interview.
Brian Bare: What was that…
Mark Magnum: Let’s ignore that outburst and continue. Where were we?
Brian Bare: Right! Anyways, your debut match with HOW is against former a HOW World Champion. In fact, Brian Hollywood’s one of the few HOW superstars that can claim he’s held all the belts at once. Tell us how that daunting challenge makes you feel.
Mark takes a moment to think about the giant task at hand. The excited, smug grin on his face is replaced by one of slight concerned. Yet while he continues to talk, the confidence in Magnum’s tone remains the same.
Mark Magnum: I could sit here all day and spin you the greatest story in the world, tying in my past accomplishments. As you mentioned, I held the Las Vegas Pro Openweight Championship for 5 years nonstop. Since I turned 18 years old, I’ve done nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe the business. Hell, I’ve got my own school, training tomorrow’s wrestlers. That’s quite a pedigree to start off your HOW career.
Magnum pauses to take a deep breath in before he shares more about his challenges.
Mark Magnum: But that all resets on October 16th when I step out that curtain. The legend of HOW gets shared around all the circles amongst the independent scene, Bare. It’s the most competitive league in the game. I could spend all day spinning stories about Hollywood’s lackluster performances the last 4 years. I could annoyingly yammer on about Hollywood’s poor life choices. Hell, I could mock him until I’m blue in the face. At the end of the day, he’s the man who has the HOW contract while I’m vying for my spot on the roster.
Brian Bare: Very true, you can’t count Hollywood out of the fight.
Mark Magnum: Exactly! Even though Hollywood’s stocks are down; the man’s the most manipulative fucker on the roster. I’ve watched his countless wars with Zion over the years. Hell, I’ve watched how he took on Scott Stevens a couple weeks back. The man’s possessed, ready to throw everything he’s got at me. While I’ll give Zion credit; he’s outsmarted Hollywood with this play to embarrass him. I’m not writing off the skills that Mr. Executive possesses in that ring. He’s not afraid to employ dirty tricks.
Bare nods at Magnum impressed with his assessment of his opponent. Magnum reflects for a moment while Bare continues to question him.
Brian Bare: Hell, that’s true. Hollywood’s got all the money in the world. I’m sure he’ll pay off an official or two so he can hide some surprises in the match. It’s a tall order for your first televised match. But what makes you up for this challenge?
The Maximum One scratches his Irish-red goatee before giving the audience at home a gentle smirk.
Mark Magnum: I’ve got untapped moxie, Brian. See unlike Mr. Hollywood—I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My parents spent the better part of their lives between retail jobs. I wasn’t afforded a cushy allowance to pay my way to the top of the class. I didn’t become complacent or take short cuts. Many nights when I travelled the Vegas scene, I slept in my car. I tried scrapping loose change for McDonalds runs, praying I could eat twice a week.
Magnum points towards the camera with a glimmer in his eyes.
Mark Magnum: That made me stronger and realized I couldn’t sit back and squander many opportunities. I won’t lie and say I made excellent life choices. Like many others in this business, I coped with the pain and stress with drugs, alcohol, and sex. I knocked up a ring rat in my 5th year in the business. When you have kids, Brian, it changes you.
Bare nods while he straightens his tie like a goof ball.
Mark Magnum: All that made me snap and led me to that 5-year reign. I maximized my opportunities to feed my family. I couldn’t afford to waste my life chasing stupid ambitions. You know…like acting like a pathetic knock-off action hero you see in B-rated movies. Unlike Brian…I pushed forward, travelling the road to make ends meet. I spent many hours away from my kids, praying this opportunity would come.
Magnum cracks his neck before going to his next point.
Mark Magnum: That’s what sets me apart from my opponent this week. While Brian Hollywood can lose this match and still keep his godforsaken job. I only have one chance to make a MAXIMUM impact on the world. After 30 years, I have chance to shoot my best shot and make the most of this blessing Zion gave me.
Mark’s smile fades into a serious look.
Mark Magnum: When you truly humble yourself, Brian. That’s what leads you to success. When the world turns upside down…it opens your eyes to a new world. It shows you that you’ve gotta fight for survival. So, pay close attention, Mr. Hollywood. School’s in session this week for you. I’m not like your boy Zion; I’m going to overthink this match. I’m not entering this locker room to make friends. I’m coming in to crush your fucking spirit in that ring. I’m gonna break that brash, cocky, arrogant attitude and wipe the floor with that ugly mop on top of your head.
Bare moves back while Magnum gets right up into his face.
Mark Magnum: You’re stepping into the ring with a different beast, Hollywood. One that your rich, pompous ass FEARS. You can’t buy me off nor can you break my fuckin’ spirit. This old Irish bastard’s got a lot of fight and grit in him. I have the one skill you lack—confidence. I’m not some depressed fuck trying to run from his problems to escape from reality in this ring. In that ring, it’s a real fight. It’s not the fucking Michael Bay shit you try to spin. REAL BLOOD, REAL SWEAT, REAL TEARS go into that fight. Trust me when I say Hollywood, you won’t match my work ethic. You can’t play mental games with me either. I’m a crazy old bastard looking for the biggest win of his career.
Magnum turns back to the camera and smirks.
Mark Magnum: And you can bet your ass that Maximum Mark Magnum will give it his MAXIMUM EFFORT. I will make Maximum Impact with my win over you. I will get Maximum Air time. And when it’s all said and done; I’ll embarrass your ass on National Television and do something Zion could never do.
Magnum walks off screen, leaving Brian Bare in shot at the scene fades to black.