Deposing a Paper King

Deposing a Paper King

Posted on May 20, 2020 at 6:43 pm by Dan Ryan

Don’t you dare tell me that you used to admire me, Andrew.

You don’t know a fucking thing about me.

I’ve spent some time watching you, listening to you speak and paying fair attention to the circumstances you’ve found yourself in. But I don’t speak on matters if I’m not an expert in them, even though you rattle off at the mouth about shit you don’t understand on a daily basis.

You think that our career trajectories are similar somehow, and because of that, and because you throw some passing words of respect my way, you think it makes you some sort of authority on aging in the business or having a killer instinct.

Don’t tell me that you used to admire me when the only person you truly admire is yourself. You are the biggest fan of Andy Murray in the world, but I see through you like crystal clear glass on a warm Summer’s day.

Don’t you dare compliment me and try to act like you have some special insight into my life just because you made a bunch of stupid fucking mistakes. You don’t get to sit there in a comfy chair at James Witherhold’s place and preach to me about fighting spirit just because this is your last ride.

And you sure as fuck don’t get to sit there and tell me or anyone else what I have or haven’t had to overcome to get where I am. The truth is, you don’t pay as much fucking attention as you think you do.

It’s just more of the fluff you act like you’re putting aside, because you don’t admire me, never looked up to me, and didn’t even know who I fucking was before three or four years ago. You weren’t there for the years of fighting for my survival, the years of fighting for my name and my place in this business. You weren’t there when I had to bury a child and get back on the road the next day. There’s no time for pity parties in this business. Nobody gave a fuck, because I had responsibilities and the next man up can always be the one that takes your head off. You know nothing about true sacrifice, because every shitty thing in your life exists solely for the reason that you fucked it up.

You don’t get to be condescending to me just because I choose not to exploit past tragedies and use them as placeholders for actual depth of character. You don’t get to be uppity and arrogant where I’m concerned just because I choose not to be lazy. And you don’t get to claim a high ground after four or five matches in this company just because you say so.

You wax poetic about the desperate situation that you’ve put yourself in, and you want me to slap you on the back and call you the King because you’re having a late career epiphany. You’re the product of some of the most cliched vices in the history of mankind and you want me to cower in fear at the idea that it has propelled you into a resurgence of professional wrestling dominance.

You have a problem with pills. You have bad knees. Whoopty-fucking-do, Murray.

My cousin’s taxi driver husband is a pill popper, too. My aunt has bad knees. Who gives a fuck?

Truly, it’s fucking miraculous that you’re able to be a high functioning professional athlete with all of these terrible terrible things happening to you. Do you have a purple heart yet? Are there any monuments in your honor? Perhaps a marble bust of your knees in the Smithsonian? A shrine to memorialize the sacrifice your kidneys have made for your career at the Mayo Clinic?

Don’t talk to me like you invented all this shit. You didn’t create human suffering in a lab, patent it and claim exclusive rights to use it for the manipulation of the masses in your later years. You talk to me like saving money makes me inferior to you in some way. I fucking worked my ass off for this money. I’m not some cardboard cutout trust fund baby flashing wads of cash around at little kids standing in line outside or putting gold plated bumpers on my car. Every penny in my bank account was won with blood, sweat and tears.

Oh, but you have the tragedy of the human condition on your side, and because you went to your dark place, sat disheveled in a corner and ruminated on the ups and downs of life, you’re fucking deep. Congratulations, Andrew. You have real human emotions just like every other dumb motherfucker in the world. This doesn’t make you special. It doesn’t automatically give you insight into other people who, as far as I can tell, are similar to you only in size, and in that they have the same job you do. I’m more than some psychology book you read while drinking a manly scotch in some Aberdeen pub. And what a shame, eh Murr, that we can’t just throw you in an oak barrel and age you properly like a scotch?

I killed myself on the road for years to have the life that I have right now. Having a healthy bank account and no drug addiction doesn’t make me inferior to you. It makes me fucking smarter than you, and I won’t apologize for being smarter than you. Of the two of us, only one of us is in weekly conferences with attorneys trying to figure out how to be in charge of their own life again. You look down on me, but you can’t even make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before noon without asking Mikey Unlikely first.

I don’t know why you’re finding it so difficult to outthink that guy. I did it with no problem during that period of time where you claim you were watching.

The truth is, you haven’t done a goddamn thing yet, because this business is and has always been a long play. I’ve lost matches before. I’ve won lots of them. I’ve won lots of championships and eventually lost them all. I’ve had losing streaks and winning streaks, but because I’m fucking smart, I’m still here fighting, listening to a twit like you doing his best Miss Cleo act talking about what my future’s gonna be like.

Considering my choices in life have resulted in a healthy bank account, the ability to walk around without the assistance of pharmaceuticals and my fucking freedom, I don’t think anyone will be listening to the ruminations of the colossally stupid Scotsman trying to reinvent himself as the Kunta Kinte of 24K over me when it comes to anything in this sport. I get it, Rosa Parks, you refuse to give up your seat on the bus. Break those chains. One day you shall be free. I can’t wait until your brand new attorney finds a shocking loophole in that no-compete clause of yours and you rise up against your masters as the tough, independent-minded bastard that you are. And I’m sure it will be an amazing moment when this happens, and absolutely no one will see it coming, unless they’ve ever watched a single second of wrestling since the dawn of time.

Of course, none of that will fucking matter until you figure out if you even know your-fucking-self.

There’s your 26 year career of blah blah blah. Yeah, it makes you a fucking threat and a fucking beast in this business. But I also have a pretty fucking good track record, buddy. Does that matter today? What time is it? Because it seems to me, what matters in your chia-pet looking head greatly depends on the time of day and the weather. Great track record, buddy. You’re a star. But me? I’m defined by two tag matches and an ICON Title loss. Do I have it right? It’s one way, unless it’s another. You’re right, unless you’re not. It’s always this, except sometimes it’s that.

You must think this is grade school, or whatever the fuck they call basic bitch shit over in Scotland, because you talk in circular logic like you’re just now learning how to use words.

I’m ‘comfortable’ because I have a big pile of money to fall back on, right? I’m pampered, and I’ve lost my bite. On the other hand, I’m not unflappable like I used to be, you know, back when you admired me. Hey, I wonder why I’ve been on edge, lately, Andrew? Could it be that even though it’s just three matches in a 25 year career, I’m not comfortable with losing the ICON title followed by two tag team matches? Could it be I’ve been willing to snap back at you and your potato-brained pile of middle-of-the-road running buddies because it irks me to my very soul that I have to live with the idea of those moderately talented teammates of yours having anything on me whatsoever?

You’re absolutely fucking right. I’m pissed off that I’ve been losing matches lately. I’m frustrated as fuck. You may not be the King of Wrestling, but you’re the King of the fucking obvious. You say it like it’s something I should be ashamed of, expecting more of myself. I’m a goddamned competitor. When the fuck did that become a negative?

I don’t lose, then lay back and accept it while having a nice meal and a fun night out with the wife. No matter how many times it happens, everyone who knows me knows to stay the fuck away from me after a loss. You might be okay with having a nice drink and chilling out if you lose a match, but it drives me fucking insane. I’ll die in the ring before I accept losing as a way of life. Are you gonna be the one to kill me, buddy? Is that what you think? Your brilliant fucking insight is that I’m no longer “unflappable” because I’m angry and snap at some chirpy little shits after some losses and that’s your argument for why you’ll beat me this weekend?

You tell me I don’t fight anymore, but I’m fighting right now, you dumb motherfucker. I’m the one that’s been asking for a fight. You and your Scooby gang have been running from anything resembling getting in the ring man to man and putting your fists up for weeks. When things aren’t going as well as I’d like, I run to the fight, not away from it.

I’m sorry, but you don’t get to drag a little filming crew to some corner of Murritania and say stupid shit unchallenged. I’ve been fighting my whole life. I was still fighting while you were doing bumfuck knows all before you showed up here. Crying about nobody giving a fuck about you anymore in Japan, right? Or was it crying about your brother eclipsing you in Japan? Either way, I was fighting before it, too, and I’ll be fighting long after you’ve put HOW in your rear view mirror in a cloud of dust when the inevitable 24 karat failure comes.

Right now, you think you’ve got it made because you’ve been hand delivered the equivalent of the appetizer menu of the HOW experience, and you think that’s all there is, that you’ve mastered it. But you haven’t even scratched the surface yet. And you will not come to me with this bargain-basement hacky nonsense. It must be embarrassing for you, truly, that you think you can come to me with your freshman year debate club quality arguments and expect it to rattle me. You know what rattles me, man? Losing. Only losing. I’ve done more of that lately than I ever want to, so you’re picking the absolute worst time possible to get in my face and call me ‘comfortable.’

It’s almost like you’re making this shit up as you go along, then slapping “I’ve done my homework” on the package in the laziest way possible. I’ve been living this business my whole life.

So don’t tell me who I am. You don’t know me, Andy Murray. You don’t even know who the fuck you are.

And forgive me, please, oh sage of the wrestling business and arbiter of the process by which we all mature and develop mentally and emotionally, if I don’t have any patience for your tried and true method of saying whatever the fuck you want, and the inevitable response of “U MAD??” when someone challenges you on it. For a guy who leans so heavily on the idea that his 26 years of unfettered success proves the likelihood of him mowing down all of us who dare get in the way of the KING, you sure as fuck like to use the language of the Tik Tok generation when trying to ‘get under someone’s skin.’ It’s shit talk 101 that you’re doing, but it’s ‘101’ for a fucking reason. You’re supposed to have graduated past that first year junior college trash by now.

The reason, dearest Andrew, that you can sit there and try to say in your infinite kindergarten wisdom that I’m not the most impressive guy in my own stable is because I’m part of putting together the ‘96 Bulls. You’re content with signing a big money deal for a one-off with the ‘95 Pistons. If I’m ‘not the best guy in my own stable,’ as you say, at least I’m ‘not the best guy’ in one of the greatest collections of talent in the history of our business. You’d rather hook up with a bunch of guys who, when faced with a challenge for a straight up fight, hide behind ‘I don’t need to fight you, you need to fight me’ as if having balls has an expiration date. It’s easy for you to say stupid shit like that, because you’ve set yourself up to look like a shiny gold coin among tarnished brass. I’m standing and fighting in the presence of giants, and I will not apologize for that, because 25 years of going through the real wars of this business has prepared me for low-expectation-having motherfuckers like you, sitting there weaving your stupid little stories with one hand down your pants, jerking off to memories of your once-great career and patting yourself on the back for so-called brilliant plots and strategic maneuverings destined to bring about your ultimate demise.

If you’re right, if I’m not the best in my stable anymore, it still beats sitting there wondering how to deal with my closest ally getting systematically destroyed by Mike Best a few short weeks before War Games. Would you even want your 24K buddies on that team right now? I wouldn’t. But what do I know? I’m not like you. I’m smarter, and even you know the momentum is shifting. For the record though? You’re not the best guy on your team for War Games, either. Square yourself with that.

You say I’m not the industry standard, and I think you’re right, because there’s no one more standard than you. Your story is a rejected after school special script. You get your Whopper from Burger King just the way it comes. Your insults come from Henny Youngman’s book of jokes for kids. If the Hallmark Channel did a movie about a wrestler, it’d be about the moving story of your recovery from self-inflicted melancholy and bad knees, and you’d be played by Candace Cameron Bure.

These are more creative things you could have said about your even more boring-ass partner these last few weeks instead of calling him ‘beige’ fifty thousand times, by the way, and you would’ve been met with more than just blank stares, but it’s too late. You’re you, and I’m me.

So yes, Andrew. I guess… “EYE MAD”… EYE MAD because someone my age talks to other professional wrestlers in a way that my sixteen year old daughter would call immature. You’re not ‘getting under my skin.’ You’re making me think less of your intelligence. People were using this psychological bullshit on me in 2002, you poorly constructed Scottish He-Man doll. It’s time you grew the fuck up and mentally matched the advancing age evidenced by the gray palor in your Just For Men beard.

You’re already looking past this match, because of course you are. Your half-assed compliments fall on deaf ears. Save them for someone who gives a shit. Write out in your sobriety journal all about how you said some tired-ass shit to Dan Ryan and irritated him, then down a handful of painkillers and chuckle yourself to sleep in a pill-addled stupor. You might as well. For all your preaching about the fire in your belly and the lack of fire in mine, you’re already planning next week, already running your shitty social media game like an ashy Kardashian sister.

Already you’re lining up all three of your fans to giggle about how clever you are, and they won’t disappoint. Of course they won’t, because they’re even dumber than you are, and half as tough. You’ve got that going for you at least, but that’s really all there is that’s noteworthy about you anymore. You’re tough as nails and your name still carries weight. It’s the only reason you’re here, and it’s the only reason you think you have the right to say the things you do. But you’re a poor, pale shadow of whatever you once were, probably, and to be honest? I say ‘probably’ because I’m not even sure if you were ever as great as some people say you were. This business is hard, and you spent years impressing enough people to get you here, so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. But I’m not a fan of yours. I never was. I never admired you. I’ll save you the ‘aww shucks’ moment of mutual respect because I won’t stand here and insult anyone’s intelligence. I do my homework because it’s my fucking job. You toss my name and my work ethic around like a punchline, and you smirk because you think you’ve hit some exposed nerve that doesn’t exist.

You’re a name and a three month hot streak.

That’s all you are to me.

I hope you’re as good as you’re supposed to be. Actually, I take that back. I don’t care if you’re as good as you’re supposed to be. Whether you are or not, I’ll prepare myself for you the same way, because I prepare myself to be great. It’s how I’ve always done it and it’s how I always will. But don’t for one second think that you’re gonna get on television, give us all the fourth grade school play version of a Braveheart speech, and make me nervous. I’ve been in the spotlight my entire life. The pressure of a main event isn’t even a second language to me. It’s my first. I’m more comfortable in that ring than anywhere else in the world. More comfortable than Mikey and Kendrix in a Starbucks. More comfortable than the fucking Bears in Soldier Field.

And I know now, as I’ve known for a long time, that you’re never criticized by someone doing more than you, only by someone doing less. I’ve always put the work in, because putting in work is the one thing that another man can never stop you from doing.

No matter what kind of streak I’m on, there is nothing stopping me from treating this like the most important thing going on in the world this week, and I’ll treat every punch, every lockup, every throw and every kick to your head like it’s my last. That’s how I fucking became who I am, Andy Murray. That’s why I know exactly who the fuck I am while you’re still searching for some clever way to try and convince yourself that I’ve lost something.

I feel sorry for you, because your cocky demeanor is a thin layer of colorless nothing, shallow and lifeless. 26 years, and still so much growing up to do.

Come back and see me when you figure out who you really fucking are, when the attorneys are gone and you’re able to speak your mind without the threat of legal action, when we can scratch the surface and get more than playground neener-neener jokes. We’re all on the edge of our seats waiting to see how it all works out. I guaran-fucking-tee you, I’m not going anywhere.

If you make it over a year around here, the world might break apart due to shock, because while every one of us came in here with a name, all too many do like you and make wild boasts about how they’re gonna save this place or rework it into their image, the way that you just did. Congratulations, buddy. You’re Max Stryker with a brogue.

Put your countdown clock back up, because we’re all watching as it ticks toward your inevitable meltdown, and it’s a lot closer than you realize. But if you do make it, and what’s left of you is still around a year from now, I’d really like to throw you a fucking party, and I’d really like it if you could come.

Maybe Mikey will let you out of the house that day.