Back in Chicago, within the intimate confines of ‘La Roachata’, I found myself engrossed in a rather thankless task. Seated uncomfortably amidst the dilapidated walls and worn furnishings, with only the soft, ambient glow of the television lighting the room, I examined wrestling tapes of my upcoming opponent, Rhys Townsend.
“Ack, this is the part of the job I hate.”
Mickey, my steadfast confidant and gentleman’s personal gentleman, poked his head round the adjoining kitchen door.
“Wot’s that then, Mr Charlie? Seems to me you can’t stand nuffin’ ‘bout your graft.”
“That may well be, Mickey, but I can’t help but feel some tasks are more arduous than others.”
“Like wot?” he enquired earnestly, stepping into the living room.
I cast a dispassionate eye over his apparel: a floral apron, yellow rubber gloves and a scrubbing brush in hand.
“Like devoting untold hours to unearthing information on an upcoming opponent. Especially one as uninspiring as Rhys Townshend.”
“Who’s ‘e then?”
“Good question, Mickey.”
As you well know, dear reader, recent months have forced me to engage with a stratum of society no real gentleman should ever be seen dead with. My tenure in HOW has seen me cross paths with monosyllabic neandtherals (Stronk, Dan Ryan), unenlightened patriots (America, Solex), a schizophrenic harpy (Bobbinette Carey), and an infantilised man-child (Conor Fuse), to name but a few. Still, as distasteful as I found their conduct, accusing them of the mundane would be a gross overestimation of their capacities.
And yet, having scoured endless footage of Rhys Townshend – his lumbering in-ring performances, his bone-headed promos – and even poured over every inarticulate word printed in his name, I am left with a profound conviction: of all my foes, Rhys, you are by far the least interesting.
You see, while the others boast defining characteristics that set them apart from the crowd – addictions, mental health problems, questionable politics – you seem to exist in a vacuum.
Just who is Rhys Townshend?
Well, a top five wrestler, potentially.
Inveterate stoner, maybe?
Or perhaps professional Welshman.
That’s the level we’re at, is it, Rhys? Reduced to mudslinging and petty provocations regarding our respective heritage?.
Your feeble attempt to stir the pot with tired stereotypes about the English and the Welsh only highlights your lack of creativity and originality. I would really expect better of someone held in such high regard by HOW brass. But I’m a game sort, as you’ll soon find out. You’ve thrown down the gauntlet and I, albeit reluctantly, will endeavour to pick it up.
Yes, I hail from England, and I am proud of my heritage, as any individual should be. However, attributing my motivations and actions to a generic stereotype is a gross oversimplification. I’ve earned my place in the wrestling arena through hard work, skill, and dedication, not through some assumed entitlement based on a so-called aristocratic background. It wasn’t “Papa” who put me in line for the World Heavyweight Championship, it was hard bloody graft.
As for the historical context you attempt to invoke, it’s crucial to remember that animosity and conflicts exist in various parts of the world, not exclusive to this specific narrative. It’s essential to approach these subjects with a more nuanced perspective, appreciating the diversity and unique experiences that shape our identities.
Perhaps you were hoping that by hiding behind the image of the spirited underdog, you could gain some traction with the HOW faithful and garner some patronage. Or maybe you think it provides you with a ready-made excuse when you find yourself flat on your back, staring at those arena lights following my Dandy’s Decree.
For the less informed reader, allow me to give you a more rounded interpretation of the historic tensions that exist in our fair isles. The Celt, that is those provincial sorts that hail from one of the lesser countries (Ireland, Scotland and Wales) fancy themselves an elevated sort. Spiritually and morally superior to the mean-spirited Saxon. The way they see it, they are modern-day Davids (or Dafydds, if you like) waiting for their moment to slay the beastly Goliath. The outcome, however, is not one your likely to find in the storybooks. Each sporting endeavour between the countries has a delicious inevitability about it, you see? The plucky Dafydd, no doubt emboldened by the patriotic rhetoric of his countrymen, convinces himself that he is destined to overcome his oppressor, only to fall at the last hurdle and remain in humble servitude for the foreseeable future.
For the neutral, I can see the appeal of the Celt. Ah, the allure of being simpler, more creative, less vulgar, and certainly less snobbish. But let us not be blind to the undercurrents that run beneath this Celtic facade. The hunger for power lurks, a dormant beast, waiting for its moment to rise.
One cannot ignore the delusion that pervades the minds of our Celtic counterparts – that given half a chance, they could maintain their independence without the protective embrace of the English. A fallacy, indeed.
In this business, I have encountered my fair share of American patriots, their hearts ablaze with fervour. But their patriotism is forged from past glories. From imperialism, wealth and influence. What have the Welsh ever achieved? Tell me. I greatly look forward to the day when I shall put this Welsh upstart, Rhys Townshend, in his rightful place. For, despite his corpulent frame, he dares to represent the “little man,” a symbolic Wales. But make no mistake; I feel no pressure in being the Goliath that shall firmly remind him of his place in the face of the morally and physically superior English.
But first, let’s have a look at your credentials, Rhys. What have you done to warrant a match with the dashing de Lacy? In the dim light of scrutiny, one can’t help but wonder if your initial rise to fame was truly an ascent or more of a casual saunter through a lacklustre landscape. One might even question if the absence of true adversaries has, until now, allowed you to parade as HOW’s Finest Homegrown. A HOW Hall of Famer, yes, but does the title truly hold weight? Or does it merely serve as a cloak for inadequacies veiled in a haze of cannabis smoke? I have already dispatched with four of your fellow Hall of Famers. What makes you any different? Your desire to stick it to Merry Old England? If you think as much, it’s clear that the green muse, Mary Jane, is giving you serious delusions of grandeur. It’s a disheartening spectacle indeed, witnessing a man once brimming with potential succumb to the allure of frivolous indulgence, a path so very passé.
Now, don’t misunderstand my perspective; I am no stranger to life’s more ephemeral pleasures. A fine glass of scotch and a well-aged cigar, I appreciate these luxuries. Yet, even in my youthful carousing days, I never allowed them to define me. A man of maturity should embrace pursuits of substance, reaching for enlightenment beyond the fleeting joys of the present. It’s a duty to oneself, an obligation to ascend beyond the juvenile and grasp the gravitas of adulthood.
Townsend, you, however, appear to find solace in the arms of mediocrity, revelling in the transient allure of intoxication. Is this to be the legacy you wish to etch into the annals of wrestling? A legacy marked by missed opportunities and a lifetime obscured by the haze of ‘recreational’ substances? One might expect a man of your age to have outgrown such indulgences, exchanging them for a more noble pursuit, something that adds genuine value to one’s existence and the world at large.
Yet, here we stand, on the precipice of our impending match. Instead of facing a warrior of substance, I find myself pitted against a man who clings to vices, forsaking the true essence of his potential. It’s a lamentable state, one that beckons reflection. For in the unforgiving arena of life and competition, true mettle is forged not in smoke but in the fires of dedication, discipline, and unyielding determination. Townsend, you would do well to heed this counsel, for the sands of time do not wait, and opportunities lost may never be regained.
I have witnessed your boasting of “missives,” as you quaintly label them, dashed off with haste and little regard for refinement. It’s evident in the ring, where your performances mirror this lack of finesse. While you possess articulation, your approach to the art of wordplay is hurried and lacks depth. It’s a reflection of your careless endeavours in the arena.
You see, my approach is meticulous, akin to a master craftsman honing their opus. Match preparation is an art, and I take immense pride in it, just as I do in the art of language. I’ve pored over the footage, analysing your strengths and weaknesses. Undoubtedly, you are a capable athlete, well-versed in the technical realm. The Brits are renowned for their prowess in this domain, and you, sir, are no exception.
But let us delve deeper – do you truly believe that a vehement disdain for the British will suffice to fuel the flames of competition within you? Competition is intricate, not a simple clash, and your disdain is merely a solitary aspect. The stage is ready, the performance awaits, where precision meets fervour, and genuine mastery is laid bare.
So, Rhys, prepare yourself for a lesson in excellence, for the English legacy of triumph is a tide that cannot be stemmed.
Amidst the verdant tranquillity of the Chicago Golf Club, where the lush green fairways embraced the serenity of the afternoon, I reclined at a secluded table on the patio. The gentle rustle of leaves and distant sounds of a golf game set the stage pensive thought.
Mickey, ever present, stood nearby, his gaze wandering across the manicured lawns. He paused to deliver an opinion that had long occupied his thoughts.
“Oi, Mr. Charlie, this bloke Rhys, he’s a right piece of work, innit? All this bleatin’ about nationalities and whatnot – it’s a load of codswallop, if ya ask me,” Mickey quipped, his face contorting into a lopsided grin.
“Indeed, Mickey. Rhys does have a penchant for simplifying matters to fit his narrow narrative. It’s rather… quaint,” I replied, not a little hint of condescension in my tone.
Mickey leaned in, clearly animated by the discussion. “I mean, callin’ you out just ’cause you’re English? That’s a level of daftness I can’t fathom, even after all these years.”
I nodded. “Well, Mickey, some individuals lack the sophistication to appreciate the nuances of true competition. They resort to base tactics to garner attention.”
“Innit the truth, Mr. Charlie? It’s all about what ‘ya can do in the ring, not throwin’ about clichés and stereotypes like confetti at a party,” Mickey retorted, his irritation palpable.
“Quite so, Mickey. Substance should always prevail over superficial grandstanding. It’s a shame some fail to grasp this fundamental principle.”
As our conversation continued, Mickey suddenly shifted gears, his demeanour becoming more serious. “Mr. Charlie, I’ve been thinkin’, it might be wise if I’m ringside for this match. Ya know, just to keep an eye out, make sure no funny business happens.”
I pondered for a moment. I was aware of Rhys Townshend’s reputation as a fair fighter. Yet, the prospect of facing a larger opponent, not to mention one with such an axe to grind, did give me pause. “Mickey, while I appreciate your concern, I believe Rhys is an honourable enough competitor. The Welsh are a simple bunch. They take great pride in their concept of fair play. He won’t resort to underhanded tactics.”
Mickey persisted, concern etched on his features. “Just a precaution, sir. It’s a big bloke you’re up against, and we can’t be too careful.”
He was right, of course. For all my braggadocio, I was painfully aware that should Rhys get his hands on me and lock in that dreaded Boston Crab I was done for. I feigned reluctance, knowing Mickey’s protective nature. “Very well, Mickey. If it puts your mind at ease, you shall have a ringside seat. Consider it a favour from a gentleman to his loyal confidant.”
Mickey, emboldened by this,, delved into even more drastic measures. “Mr. Charlie,” he leaned in, his voice a low murmur, “we could take a few precautions, ya know? Conceal a little somethin’ somethin’, just in case.”
My eyebrows shot up in alarm, a mock look of surprise etched on my face. “Mickey, I absolutely will not partake in any underhanded tactics. We must maintain the integrity of the sport, even in the face of adversity.”
He shrugged. It was clear he hadn’t entirely abandoned the notion. He tried again, a hint of mischief in his voice. “Alright, Mr. Charlie, fair play, fair play. But, what if the ref needed a little remindin’? Sometimes they miss things, don’t they?”
My inner conflict bubbled beneath my composed exterior. While I outwardly opposed such ideas, a sense of relief washed over me, knowing that Mickey had my back, ready to employ any means necessary to ensure my well-being.
“I appreciate your concern, Mickey, truly,” I replied, my voice maintaining an air of moral superiority. “But we must rely on our own skill and honour. Let the contest unfold as it should.”
Mickey nodded, a wry smile playing on his lips. “Of course, sir. Just remember, I’m always here to watch out for ya, one way or another.”
Inwardly, I acknowledged the truth in Mickey’s words. Facing Rhys Townshend was no easy feat, and having a loyal companion ready to intervene if the need arose was a comfort. I appreciated Mickey’s devotion and readiness to defend my honour, even if it meant skirting the boundaries of fair play. It was a balance between the ideals I upheld and the pragmatic reality of the wrestling world – a delicate dance between the gentleman and the brawler, aiming for victory while preserving the spirit of the sport.
In the heart of the golf club, amidst the well-manicured lawns and the genteel company of fellow enthusiasts, we planned and strategized, preparing for the match that loomed on the horizon. In this arena, beyond the rules and within the realm of competition, loyalty, and determination would shape the destiny that awaited us both.