“Motherfucker, we’re really doing this again, huh?”
The mask hangs dead in my fingertips, barely scraping the ground as I sit hunched over the bench. My elbows dig into my knees, as bloodshot eyes stare back at me from the mirror. I’m speaking to no one at all, really. Or at least not to anyone in particular. The man in my reflection looks fucking exhausted– I’ve barely slept in days, and I haven’t even stepped foot into a wrestling ring yet. It’s so preposterously easy for me to talk my shit, but it gets a little harder to back it up each and every time.
This time, I maybe bit off more than I can chew.
My voice echoes off the walls, fading off into the space of the empty gym. No one has been here for hours now– even the most diehard guys have long since retired back to their homes, but here I am. Too retired to retire, I guess. Of all the dumb fuck decisions I’ve ever charged headfirst into without any forethought, this might be one of the dumb fuckest. War Games? Why the fuck did I start with War Games? I’ve barely wrestled fifteen minutes in a single night in well over a year, and I decide that the best hill to climb is Everest? Oh well, at least I didn’t just drop an open letter to the entire company, calling them all a bunch of worthless peons who couldn’t hold my jock. At least I didn’t make huge, grandiose promises about effortlessly winning the hardest wrestling match in the fucking universe. That would be flat out idiotic, right? No one could be THAT stupid… right?
“Fuck my whole life.” I mutter, gripping the mask tightly between two fists.
I can feel the creaking in my knees as I stand up from the bench. I’m only thirty seven. The fuck did I do to my body to feel this unreasonably shitty, basically all the time? I swear to God, it was just yesterday that I was invincible. I wrestled a week after being stabbed, one time. And fuck an eight ball, I used to snort a goddamned billiards table, party all night, and show up to work the next day like nothing had ever happened. Now? My fucking knees creak. I stand up from a bench, and my fucking knees creak. A couple of days ago, I slept a little weird on my neck, and couldn’t turn it to the right for three fucking days.
I am thirty seven.
A puddle of sweat lies stagnant underneath the bench, as I lumber my way back toward the heavy bag. God, it’s so fucking empty in here. TEN-X was supposed to be a playground for Tyler, but these days we don’t talk a whole hell of a lot. I hear he’s doing great in PRIME… I’m proud of the kid. Maybe someday I’ll tell him. At least I didn’t spend millions of dollars that weren’t mine on a state of the art training facility for nothing, though– me and my creaky ass knees have spent so much time in this building over the last couple of weeks that I’m pretty sure I’m having my mail delivered here now.
The heavy bag creaks in time with my knees.
Almost sounds like crickets.
God, I could use a bump right now.
I mean, it’s not even recreational at this point.. It would be medicinal. Just a couple more sets. Few more reps. Takes a lot more to keep me in shape than it used to… an eight ball would be more akin to juicing up than chalking up.
“He’s getting biiiggerrrr,” I warble, against my will. “He’s getting Stronkerrrr….”
Shit lives in my head rent free. Fuck it, I could call Jimmy right now and hit the slopes in forty five. That would get me through the night. The fuck is the use of a five year chip if you never cash it in? I’m the CEO of a major wrestling company, cocaine is basically part of my job description. You think Elon Musk doesn’t rub his nose in a little Maca Flour before he goes on a Tweet binge? And fuck, he’s the richest man in the world. Can’t be all bad, right?
I crash the bags with what feels like a thunderous fist, but it doesn’t seem to move the bag as much as I’d expected. I’m approaching muscle failure, but like any other kind of failure, I’m planning on handling it with complete denial and massive overreaction. Which of my plethora of coping mechanisms do I want to revert to today? I mean, I’m already considering cancelling my sobriety like I found out that it Tweeted the n-word back in 2012, so what else can I pull out of the ol’ sack of safe space? Completely collapse into my own mental illness and summon a big, bad ChristPlow to save me? Run off to PRIME, or OCW, or whatever UTAH adjacent High Octane alternative is advertising all the perks of HOW with none of the big bad meanies? Turn my eyes red and announce that I’m actually a cult cyborg minister who– oh, well, I guess that was always more of a Max thing.
I stop the bag with both hands, not that it requires a whole lot of effort. I really need to call it a night. Flight leaves in the morning, and if I don’t get some kind of sleep, none of this means anything anyway. It never really occurred to my dumb ass that in addition to wrestling on this fucking show, I’d still have to be the FUCKING CEO. And not the sweatpants CEO, either– Lee Best has welcomed me back with open arms, and he’s more than happy to hand the reins back to the Son who so eagerly wanted them in the first place. That motherfucker is clocking out. Clocking out of marketing. Clocking out of merch design. Clocking out of all the bullshit I used to do, and just got too lazy to keep doing. The less I’ve loved wrestling, the less I’ve been motivated to want to be any part of it. It’s embarrassing, honestly.
I’ve just… fallen off.
Stopped talking to my friends. Stopped checking in. Cecilworth sent me a text to make sure we were cool recently, because I’ve been so dogshit at keeping up with the people that I love that I forgot his birthday. I forgot Cecilworth Farthington’s birthday. What the fuck is wrong with me? How did I get so complacent in my fucking sweatpants that I lost sight of everything that made me who I was in the first place? I don’t do… anything. I do what little of my job is still even expected of me, and then I sit in front of a fucking video game console for hours. Hours, every single day. I’m more excited for the release of Diablo 4 than I was to find out that my only son has a shot at the PRIME Universal Championship. Did you know that he’s the number one contender? He’s in a fucking stable with Cecilworth Farthington, and I’m not even a part of it. My biological son and my fucking best friend are working together.
And I’m in fucking sweatpants.
“Get your shit together.” I grit my teeth, talking to that big ol’ nobody again.
I’m sick of being trapped alone with my depression. With my big, dumb, ADHD addled brain that hyperfocuses on whatever form of entertainment can suck me out of the misery of my own life. Wake up, shit on whatever Fisher Price Davidson is doing on Twitter, and then clock in on Madden 23. Doordash something ten minutes from my house, because I don’t feel like throwing on my slides to drive to McDonald’s. This isn’t who I am. This is never who I’ve been, even at my most worthless. I’m living in this haze of fucking apathy and week old Chinese containers, and it’s making me want to choke.
It’s time to make a change.
A real change.
Not some stupid one-off in a luchador mask. I mean it’s time to get back into shape… for real. I’m sicking of spending every waking moment of my life in pain. If it’s not my knees, it’s my back. If it’s not my back, it’s my fucking brain. I’m sick and tired of feeling sorry for myself, and that’s saying something, because I’ve spent so much of my life pissing and moaning and blaming the world for everything that you’d think it would fit me like a second skin. It’s over. It’s over right the fuck now.
It’s over today.
I practically keel over onto the bench, pulling the sweat soaked t-shirt off my back and throwing it onto the floor next to my bag. It’s not exactly an eight pack, but you wouldn’t know how out of shape I was to look at me. Whatever the fuck is wrong with me… it isn’t physical. Sure, my cardio sucks a bag of dicks right now, but that’s ring shape. You lose ring shape so fast, and you never realize it. But this isn’t just cardio. It’s not just ring rust. There is something burrowed so deep into my brain that you couldn’t find it with a microscope, but I need to find it and fucking murder it.
“Come on, motherfucker.” I grunt, looking myself over in the mirror.
I got myself into this thinking it would be one more match. That’s why I was so hesitant to do it in the first place– every time Lee has asked me to come out of retirement, I’ve asked him the same question. Why? So I can take a spot from some guy who shows up every week? So I can parade myself through the main event again, for absolutely no goddamned reason? But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I’ve been lying to myself for a long time. I’ve never been so unselfish as to let someone else have a spot, so why would I start now?
I think I’ve been afraid.
Afraid of what?
Fuck if I know. Afraid to fail? Afraid to succeed? Afraid that I finally got out, but they’d pull me back in? Maybe I was afraid to come back for one more match, only to prove that I should have stayed gone in the first place. But you don’t get back into this kind of shape for one more match. You don’t work this hard for one War Games. I’ve spent the better part of a decade playing Jesus, but it’s finally time that I become the savior of the one person I’ve never bothered to try saving. It’s time to save myself from my sins.
It’s time to offer myself eternal life.
If I’m coming back, I’m not coming back for one more match. I’m not entering myself into War Games to come in fucking fourth place and go back to my couch. If I’m coming back, I’m burning those fucking sweatpants and coming out of that gate like a bat out of hell. Ninety seven thousand percent or nothing. If I think this roster is full of a bunch of goobers who can’t hold my jock, then it’s time I quit talking about it from my fucking living room and do something about it. No more potshots. No more drivebys. Evan Ward wants to keep taking his shitty little shots at a guy he knows isn’t showing up to TV?
Do it to my face, motherfucker. I’ve created an environment so safe for mediocrity that Aceldama came back from two retirements. This is not my High Octane Wrestling. I’m the Chief Executive Officer of nothing, so you know what? It’s time for me to stop being the Chief Executive Officer. It’s time for me to stop working fucking remotely. It’s time for me to stop thinking that I’m done being a professional wrestling, because I’m NOT FUCKING DONE. I am thirty seven years old, and I’m standing in a gym working my ASS off, and it’s because I need to get back into that ring. I need to get back into competition.
War Games isn’t the end.
It’s the fucking beginning.
Fuck fourth place. Fuck qualifiers. Fuck anything but the finish line. I’m coming for that record for longest reign. I’m coming for the language police. I’m coming for the soft headed, soft egoed pricks that are trying to turn my company in DIET PRIME, because the King has slept for too long and the fucking hyenas are starting to think that the run the kingdom.
Slowly, I pull the mask from the bench, lifting it over my head and pulling it snugly down over my face. The glistening of gold and white almost hides the bags under my eyes. I pull my back up straight, fixing my posture as I finally get a good look at The White Man in the mirror. I stare myself in the eyes, and for the first time in a long time, I don’t hate the man who is looking back at me. Why hate myself, when there’s so much left in the world for me to fucking hate? I’m back, motherfuckers. Not just for now.
Not just for War Games.
I am fucking back.
Yeah, motherfucker. We’re really doing this again.