Christopher America slammed the door with enough force that it shook the pictures hanging on the wall just outside his bedroom. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Bill silently nodded, knowingly, at Mr. America.
Bill: I’ll talk to him.
After he got cleaned up and changed, Bill had spoken to America. He asked for a chance to hear both of them out. And America, knowing that he was worse off without Bill, afforded Bill the opportunity. He owed Bill that much, at least.
After the talk, America moved towards the kitchen with heavy footsteps, ensuring that everyone else in the house knew how unhappy he was. It was disrespectful and America knew that. He continued to do things loudly as he rummaged through his refrigerator and fixed himself a plate of food. He also poured himself a cup of coffee and sat at the kitchen table. His father, who was already there, sat opposite of him. He didn’t look at his son but instead stared down at the coffee mug.
Mr. America: Has uh, has being back… has it been tough?
Christopher America: Yep.
The words could not have moved out of his mouth quicker. The sheer curtness that he spoke with conveyed his meaning. His father nodded.
Mr. America: Bill told me that uh… that War Games changed you. That Rumble at the Rock changed you. And I uh… I don’t know how… and I don’t know what that means. B-but I’d like to. If you’ll let me. You see I, uh…
Christopher America: You what? You going to tell me you know what being in War Games is like? You going to tell me you know what it’s like to be locked up in a tiny cell for a month with no one coming to help you? You going to tell me that you know what it’s like to being embarrassed in front of thousands of people live and at home?
Mr. America: No.
His word was barely above a whisper.
Mr. America: But I know what it’s like to hate yourself. I know what it’s like to lash out. I know what it’s like to struggle. I know what it’s like to feel like things are spiraling out of control and there’s no one there.
Christopher America: You don’t know my situation because you haven’t been there. You haven’t experienced it. You practically know nothing about me. I might as well be a stranger to you.
Mr. America: You’re right. The person in front of me is a stranger. It’s been what… years since we last spoke? I mean, I still remember you getting into wrestling, and I remember all the pro-America stuff you did. All the success you had. It was… it was great to see. Your mother and I were proud. But now, you… you don’t do a lot of that anymore.
Christopher America: A lot of what?
Mr. America: The… the pro-America stuff. I mean I…. I see the video packages and the clothes and the locker room but… it’s like it’s been toned back.
Christopher America: So… what? You’re worried because I don’t prance around saying “…in America!” anymore that it means I’m broken? I’ve evolved, dad! I’m beyond that now. That’s kiddie shit. This is adult me, here, before you now. I’ve got better things to focus on than debate endlessly over which American President I’m going to try to shoehorn into a promo or what—what patriotic song I want to play as an entrance theme. I’ve got real responsibilities now.
Mr. America let the silence hang in the air as he scratched the side of his face, figuring out how to proceed next. When he figured it out, he looked up from the mug for the first time and looked his son in the eye.
Mr. America: Do you know why I had you practice relentlessly on that “…in America!” catchphrase?
The world champion rolled his eyes, shook his shoulders as if he didn’t know and frankly didn’t care.
Mr. America: It was to help you. To help control what goes on up here.
Mr. America tapped his temple.
Mr. America: It was to help you focus. Referencing America was about directing your attention to something other than the trash that your opponents would spew at you, the bodily harm they would do to you, the mind games they’d play with you. It was a way to throw them off. If you focused on that and how what they said related back to America, it took the heat off of you.
Because we knew… we knew eventually everyone would fall back into the same routine. That you weren’t American. You were something else. Frenchie… commie… whatever. And in the event some serious stuff went down, we made sure that you could rely on the name of America to bounce back.
But… I don’t know.
I guess it didn’t work. War Games and Rumble at the Rock did something to you – much, much deeper.
Christopher America: I’m broken, right? I’m a shell of my former self? Well good news and Happy Thanksgiving to me! I get to be grateful that as a shell of my former self I’m finding more success than my normal self did. Cheers all around!
The disrespect from the sarcasm was on full display.
Mr. America: You know that’s not what I meant.
Christopher America: Then what do you mean?
Mr. America: I think… I think we can help you go further… if you let us. I think that you don’t need to go back to saying “…in America!” after every line. But I also don’t think that you need to be… what did Bill call it… the ‘sad’ Christopher America. The one that mopes. I don’t think that you need to have nightmares about impossible challenges and unclimbable mountains.
You and I both know that certain pro wrestling matches can change how wrestlers behave, how they act, and how they wrestle. That’s not a bad thing. I’ve seen how you changed from a technical move set to something more akin to brawling. I’ve also seen the change in how you speak. Your trash talk has evolved. You speak about things brutally – destroying body parts, ending people’s careers.
But I’ve also seen how things get to you. You hold on to things. It’s one thing to hold a grudge, it’s another to obsess over something. And I know you… son… I know you. You let things occupy your mind and you just hash it out over and over.
It’s time we figure out something. Something to move on from that.
America’s scowl had faded. He looked at his father and just stared. Was this really the same man before him? Hearing his words now seemed to clash with everything that America had known growing up.
Back then, Benjamin America was a harsh father, quick to punishment but calm in tone. To a young Christopher America, his calm tone made an impression on the young boy, despite the cruelty of the things he spoke. It made Chris feel like the things he was speaking were the truth and acceptable. Despite how Chris felt when beating his school bully to a bloody mess in his backyard or snapping back at teachers who he didn’t agree with, his father’s calm tone made it seem like everything he was doing was right.
Suddenly, Mr. America’s voice cut through the thoughts.
Mr. America: It’s like that time in our backyard. Chris, we addressed a problem together.
America blinked rapidly. His expression changed to confusion and anger.
Christopher America: We beat a kid in our backyard, dad. We hospitalized him! And then rather than deal with the fallout, we lied about what happened, and then you pulled me from school!
Mr. America looked sorrowful in his eyes, but his tone remained calm.
Mr. America: And he never bullied you again.
Chris turned his head, smiled slightly, and chuckled in disbelief.
Christopher America: So, what, dad? You want me to… to pull Mike Best into my backyard and beat him to a pulp while you watch? Lie about it, yank me out of HOW and run to PRIME?
Mr. America had heard enough. He didn’t answer his son. He looked at him with a scowl and pushed his chair away from the kitchen table. He grabbed the eagle’s head cane and stood up. He stared at his son hard, took a deep breath, turned, and left the kitchen.
It was his turn to walk away now.
His turn to leave his son.
His turn to cut off communication.
People often ask me why I choose to disrespect my opponents, to run my mouth off, and trash them right before a match. The truth of the matter is that I’m not disrespecting my opponents. They’re disrespecting me.
They are trying to take something that I have worked longer for, harder for than they have. They’re trying to take my HOW World Championship. Just like you are.
And therefore, you’re also disrespecting me.
And I know, because I see it different ways.
For starters, I see you slipping. I see you slipping into the old Scott Stevens. Don’t do that. I… I DESERVE BETTER THAN THAT! You slip into the Scott Stevens that relies on history and thinks that knowledge like that provides you an in-road into beating me. Let me reassure you now, it fucking doesn’t.
You see, people like you, like Harrison, like Solex all think they’ve figured me out because they analyze the data, they get caught up in the words and they miss the human factor behind it all. The drive, the determination, the desire to be the absolute fucking best wrestler in HOW. Not as a whim. Not as a lark. But a pure aspiration.
You? You want this championship because you want to dethrone me, not to be the best fucking World Champion in HOW history. All of you want to win just to say that you beat ME! Not a single fucking one of you talks about how you’re going to be the greatest HOW World Champion ever or how you’re going to show you can do this better. Disrespectful shits. All of you.
You disrespect me when you bring up David Black like he’s some fucking boogeyman. Like he’s something or someone that I should be afraid of. For all the talk about David Black being my ‘white whale,’ you forgot about the times that I beat David Black to win the HOW World Championship at War Games. No, you leave that part out because it’s an inconvenient truth. See, in order to win this beautiful championship, I had to outlast David Black… I had to BEAT David Black.
So don’t give me that bullshit.
And speaking of David Black, where is he now? Is he out here winning championships? Is he out here winning War Games or Solitary Confinement matches? Is he out here helping to contribute to HOW in any fucking way?
He’s doing the same thing in HOW that you’re doing.
‘Duh, but Chris, I musta hit a nerve ‘cause you is talkin’ bout him!’
No fuckface, you brought him up and I shut that shit down. And that’s what I love about this roster, the amount of people that dish out shit talk and then the moment… the VERY MOMENT… they get rebuffed for their efforts, they cry foul and claim that they got under my skin because I responded. Fuck off with that noise.
You see, Scott, you could dress like Black, steal all of his moves, and be just as fucking dull and boring as he is. And you STILL wouldn’t come close to beating me. Not for this championship. Not ever!
Because I’ve transcended David Black and I’ve sure as hell transcended you!
You bring up things like Black and hope to try to take my mind off of the solitary purpose I have right now which is beating your dumb ass to retain the greatest prize in HOW.
You also disrespect Lee Best every single week. Tell me, Mr. Historian, with your knowledge of history, which GOD… which savior… which prophet… which deity loves it when people loudly proclaim their allegiance to them and then go out and fail them at practically every turn? Don’t know. Do another Google search on everything from Aphrodite to Zoroaster and tell me. I’ll fucking wait while you spin your wheels.
And, oh sure, I hear you.
But let me cut you off about Scottywood. Let me cut you off about the HOTV Tag Team Championships, too.
Was Scottywood a thorn in the side of Lee Best? No, he wasn’t.
While the Board was busy dealing with the Highwaymen, with Kostoff, with making HOW the greatest fucking company in the PWA, you sought out someone with one foot out the door. While I was single handedly using my bare hands to extract pounds of flesh and buckets of blood from the Highwaymen, you struggled with that and had to use explosives to stop Scottywood. While you were fucking around in other companies, I was handing Scottywood his ass at March To Glory. While I faced people I had never faced before in my HOW career, you were going one more round with Scottywood. While I sought to fight people who would push me to my limit and make me an even better wrestler than I already am, make me a better CHAMPION than I already am, you sought an easy way out against someone you’ve already beaten.
And then there’s the HOTV Tag Team Championships. You had the privilege of teaming with the newly crowned Triple Champion of HOW. He won in spite of you, not because of you. Just like at War Games. You may be on the winning team, but you haven’t won a single fucking thing. Jace won what was essentially a handicap match. Because Solex and Harrison, they saw you, looked through you, and locked eyes with Jace.
You know how else you disrespect, Lee? By running off to MVW and playing there. I devote my life to HOW. Not once… NOT ONCE… have I left HOW to go to OCW, 4CW, PRIME, HULU, MVW, or the furry stripper fed that has a cheese fetish. But you don’t dedicate your life to HOW, do you? No… frustrated with your GOD, frustrated with your own lack of success, you run to MVW so that you can kiss up to Ray McAvay and the rest of that midwestern filth.
And that’s the tale of Scott Stevens, isn’t it? A man who takes the easy way out. A man who is on the winning team but a benched player at best. A man who is being given… NOT EARNED, GIVEN… a World Championship match against the single greatest champion of 2022. A man who walked into HOW and took THE title from Conor Fuse on his first chance while you struggled time after time.
But you know what? I’ll bite, Scott. You want to end the Highwaymen? Go for it. Hit up Lee and demand a shot against Solex. Then against Harrison. Then against Clay. In fact, demand a GAUNTLET match, coward. Demand one and show me that you can beat every single member and ‘solve’ the problem of the Highwaymen.
Go on, coward.
No…. you won’t do that, will you?
You talk and act like you’re something big and scary but you’re not. Don’t quote Teddy Roosevelt to me and act like you’re the man in the arena. To suggest you’re a man in the arena means you’ve been at the forefront of what goes on in HOW. That you are a prime-time player. You’re nothing more than a fucking jackal, someone that barks from the sidelines and hopes to eat and then shit the leftovers while proudly howling about how great a kill that was… a kill you never participated in. That’s you!
You eat the scraps from the table we set. Warm yourself from the fire we make. Shelter yourself in the house we build.
A good for nothing, scum-eating, disrespectful squatter.
And don’t lie to me either about how you remember that quote from Roosevelt. You probably googled famous Teddy Roosevelt quotes and took the first fucking thing that came up, didn’t you?
You took the easy way out, AGAIN!
You know what Roosevelt quote I like?
‘The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.’
When asked to pull your weight in this fed, you buckle under that pressure. You cower in fear of it.
I say a lot of shit, Stevens. A LOT OF SHIT. But I back it up every single fucking week that I’m here. You don’t care what I say? Then why the FUCK did you spend an entire interview segment having Eric Insert Un-American Last Name Here go fucking line by line? If you’re that desperate for material, Scott, then you’ve already fucking lost this match.
I’m going to sacrifice you to your GOD. And when you sit before him in judgment, he’ll look at you with the same disgust and disdain that the rest of the roster does. He’ll deem you unworthy of sharing in his paradise. He’ll send you to the very depths of hell to live out the rest of your days, burning in the flames of your own failure.
At Chaos, you’re not coming anywhere near this championship. You will not advance to ICONIC. You’re not going anywhere near Clay Byrd.
THAT CHAMPIONSHIP IS MINE!
CLAY BYRD IS MINE!
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE HIGHWAYMEN IS MINE!
AND THE TITLE OF GREATEST WORLD CHAMPION IN HOW HISTORY… WILL BE MINE!