Fair Warning: Always Mind the Signs

Fair Warning: Always Mind the Signs

Posted on September 8, 2023 at 7:08 pm by Dan Ryan

”If someone puts their hands on you, make sure they never put their hands on anybody else again.”

– Malcolm X


This is one of those weeks.

I’m in a foul fucking mood. It’s nothing anybody did or said. It’s nothing that happened or didn’t happen. I’m just in the damn mood, and I don’t want to do anything other than beat somebody up.

That’s all I want to do.

I don’t want to wrestle. I don’t want a ‘banger’. I want to cave someone’s fucking skull in.

Evan Ward, that’s where you come in.

Before a few months before War Games, I didn’t know you. You were a name I’d seen on a website and not much more. I never gave you a single thought until you slid into Lee’s DMs looking for a spot in the Alliance. Goody Two Shoes gone bad, I guess that was the story. And War Games? Nah, Ward Games.

Good one.

You’ve done a fine job of… what? What have you done a good job of? Not winning War Games. Not winning the tag titles a few weeks ago. I wish someone would eventually get the broken record fixed, because the endless train of Hall of Famer being run on what is the most competitive company in this entire sport is getting so fucking old. Are there any Hall of Famers left that haven’t tried to come back yet? Gotta be some more. Yeah, there they are. No way they haven’t at least had a contract sent over to peruse.

The thing is, I know you don’t give a shit. You’re not that slick, man. I don’t know what the point of any of your games are, because you consistently find yourself on the outside looking in. But the first thing regarding you that has gotten my interest in any way is the possibility that I could return you to that coma.

Might as well keep the Hawking 3000. You can just use it again.

The problem is, really, that there just isn’t that much that’s very interesting about you. And the mood I’m in, I don’t think I care if I win or lose, so long as I take a few pounds of flesh for my collection. Yeah, maybe we could have had a great match. Maybe. That’s what the people want. But, you know, fuck the people, and fuck you, bud.

I don’t have a clue what you’re gonna say this week, or what you’re gonna do, probably a slice of life with some sparring thrown in to make it look like some actual work is taking place. God, there’s nothing I love more than seeing every single opponent I ever have go through a training montage. Lee should get Survivor on retainer just for the montages. It would save so much time to just have those guys on staff. I don’t know what the fuck else they’re doing anyway.

Or, you know what, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.

I’m gonna work my way out of this shitty fucking mood. By all accounts, it’s been a pretty good year for me. One loss against the World Champion, a six month tag team title reign that I guess, no one cares about, but also, that no one can actually beat us for. At least leave that shit to Townsend. Don’t hit me with some hacky version of ‘this doesn’t mean that much to me’.

Guess what?

I’m gonna be honest with you.

This fight? It’s gonna mean absolutely everything to me. You know why? Because this is all I fucking do. I fight. I’ve been doing it for twenty five years, and I’m still here. I have nothing and everything to prove, and I spend every day like it could be my last, like the next opportunity is just around the corner. And yeah, it usually is.

That’s the name of the game – consistency. Your ‘partner’ was lazy, and it cost him. You were lazy, and it cost you. Do you even recognize the level of disrespect you showed for the goddamn PWA World Tag Team Champions sitting there all ‘uhhhh maybe winning the titles would be maybe possibly nice, I mean if nothing better comes along’? Do you know how fucking disrespectful that is to this company and to the man who signs your goddamn checks? Why is he wasting a roster spot on two fucking nostalgia acts who don’t give a shit about anything until they bitch enough to get a shot at something? You think Lee is an idiot?

You two are dealing with two of the very best professional wrestlers on the entire planet. Don’t get it twisted. Jatt Starr is a Hall of Famer too, and yeah, I’m in enough Hall of Fames that I’d need an extra hand for all of the rings. But you presume to hold some sort of high ground over us that you’ve haven’t fucking earned. It’s not 2013, Evan. It’s 2023. It’s been ten years since you’ve been worth a shit. You can’t just slide back in here, take on the best in the motherfucking business and just cruise on by. Get your fucking head straight and go to fucking work if you want to take anything other than a beating from me, you dipshit.

I’m not playing with you.

Here’s what I really wanna know, man.

Why are you here?

Can you tell me?

Why the fuck are you here?

Why do you half-ass corny fucking bitches come back to High Octane Wrestling anyway? Do you miss the old days? Do you miss your friends? You wanna be one of the boys again?

Goddamn, son, this is a fucking war every damn day. You’re not acting like it’s a war though. You’re acting like it’s old timey movie night at the dollar theater, starring you and the rest of your All-Star band. You’re fucking Ringo pretending to be Paul.

So why are you here?

Seriously, why?

Here’s why. You’re here because for a brief shining moment in your life, the spotlight shined on your head. You had it all, had the gold, had the prestige, had the respect, and people looked at you like you were a goddamn star, because that’s exactly what you were.

Then you found yourself out in the real world and it just wasn’t the same. You didn’t get that attention. People didn’t kiss your ass and call you the greatest technical wrestler of your generation anymore. People didn’t call you anything at all, because people didn’t actually give two shits about you. You became just another guy, yelling at the sky how great you used to be.

Now, me?

I’m over the hill. Let’s not beat around the bush.

There was a time when I flew around the ring with agility that had never been seen in a man my size. I was hitting split-legged moonsaults in my twenties, running the ropes and launching myself over the top rope with regularity. But time catches up to us all. We all break down eventually. Father time is undefeated. But I tell you what I won’t fucking be. I won’t ever be a fucking quitter. So I’m not who I was at my peak. I can still bash your fucking skull in, Evan. I can still do that. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, in better shape than I’ve been in fifteen years, and I swear to God… Evan… if you don’t wrestle like it’s 2013 this weekend, I’m gonna put you down for good.

Matter of fact.

Fuck the coma.

I’ll make ya skip ahead straight to the grave.

Yep, this is one of those weeks.

I’m just not in the mood to put up with your bullshit. I’m not in the mood to entertain your lazy work ethic and your attempts to be cute, or your big dumb bodyguard who I guess is supposed to frighten me somehow by just… being BIG. I’m not gonna sit back and watch you make a mockery of the best wrestling company in the world.

We fight here, Evan.

We fucking fight.

So fucking fight, or FUCK.OFF. Fight or fuck off, that’s all I’m asking. Can you do that? Can you fucking do it? Fuck everything else.


One of those weeks, bitch.

Apologies in advance.


”The measure of a man is what he does with power.”

– Plato


“Did you know she was gonna be coming in here?”

Dan Ryan sat at his desk, across from his long time assistant Phyllis and his business associate Craig Massey.


Phyllis didn’t say anything, so Dan looked over at Craig.

“What about you?”

Craig threw his hands up. “Don’t look at me! I had nothing to do with it. I was busy setting up shop in Charleston, remember? Only you and Phyllis went to the warehouse.”

Dan narrowed his eyes, but seemed to accept the reply. But the softness left his face when he turned back to Phyllis.

“Just what the hell did you think you were doing?”

“Dan,” Phyllis replied. “She wanted to talk. I thought it would be a good idea. I thought it would help. I just want there to be some kind of resolution, or closure or something. Am I just supposed to sit back and let the family fall apart completely?”

Dan slammed a big fist down on the desk, startling them both.


His voice boomed, reverberating off of the walls and sending a shiver up Phyllis’ spine.

“Do you think it’s funny putting me on my heels like that and forcing me to come up with some sort of bullshit to get through an impromptu meeting with my wife, who hasn’t spoken to me in over a year, who has alienated me from my daughter, and whose sister led the MOTHERFUCKING CHARGE to try and run me out of the goddamn sport?”

Phyllis didn’t know what to say. Dan grew impatient, and slams his fist down again.


“No…” she cleared her throat. “No, I don’t think it’s funny. I wasn’t trying to be funny. I was trying to help.”


He shook his head, disgusted.

“Great job. You really fucking helped.”

He stood up, turned his back to them and walked toward the picture window behind his desk. Standing there, he looked out over a vast green field and some horses in a large pen, eating from a bale of hay. Finally, he turned back to them.

“Phyllis, all these years we’ve been together, I’ve given you instructions, and time after time you have ignored me because you thought you knew better. A lot of those times, maybe you did. But not this time. This time, you managed to complicate an already complicated situation and you robbed me of the chance to handle all of it on my own terms. Twenty five years, Phyllis…”

He just stood there, staring at her and she waited for him to calm down, like he usually did. He would this time too, she figured.

Only, he didn’t.

“You had a good run. You’re fired.”

The shock hits her so hard she can barely process the words. Everything in the room seems to go fuzzy, and Craig, next to her, his jaw dropped so hard it almost made a sound of its own. He looked over at her, not knowing what to say, stunned into silence.

She suddenly realized she hadn’t responded, but all she could do was stammer back at him.

“I… I… wait… what do you… fired??”

Dan leaned forward on the desk, staring hard into her eyes.

“Leave. Don’t come back. If I see you anywhere near me or my family again, I’ll make sure it’s the last thing you ever do. Do you understand me?”

Still, she was just too lost in the gravity of it all, and she couldn’t reply.



He turned to Craig.

“Craig, see Miss Phyllis to the door.”

Craig reached out a hand and helped her to her feet. She stared at him, a sadness in her eyes that threatened to overwhelm her. The years flashed through her eyes, and she felt as though it would soon envelope her completely.

“Craig, be so kind as to collect her keys, and any other property which might belong to me.”

Dan turned his back on them and walked back to the window again.

Phyllis looked up at Craig, and he shook his head, sadly.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go.”

Her shoulders slumped completely, and finally she went with him. They walked toward the exit. As they approached the door, Dan called out again without turning around.

“Oh wait.”

He turned back to them. They stopped in their tracks, and turned in his direction. Dan clasped his hands behind his back and walked in their direction. As he got within several feet of them, Phyllis tensed up, and she looked up into a terrifying expression. He placed a hand on her shoulder, and she silently prayed for the best, squeezing her eyes shut and then opening them again. Then, he smiled.

“I changed my mind.”

She blinked, not understanding.

“You… I… you changed…. You changed your mind?”

“Yes.” He stopped smiling, and looked down at her with an expression as serious as a heart attack. “I hope the point has been made. From now on, you do as I say, when I say to do it, and how I say to do it. There will not be any further episodes of Phyllis Knows Best. I know best. Now…”

He leaned until they were eye to eye.

“Is there any part of that which you did not understand?”

She still hadn’t found her voice, so she just shook her head no, quickly.

“Good. Craig…” He fake smiled. “You can go. Take Phyllis back to Charleston. When I get there, I would absolutely love to go over all of the research I asked you to do on Rhys Townsend and Evan Ward.”

Craig nodded.

“You got it boss.”

With that, Dan turned back and walked to the window one more time, and just stood there.

Craig led Phyllis by the arm and, crossing the threshold, looked back.

Dan smiled to himself, the first real smile in some time. It had been a tough couple of years.

But all’s well that ends well.


”For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit.”

– Noam Chomsky