We all put our faith in something. Sometimes we put faith in things that we take for granted, things like that we’ll wake up in the morning, that the sun will rise, that I’ll have air to breathe. Sometimes that faith is put into people, people like doctors who prescribe medications to help whatever ails us or family members who we trust will always be there with a shoulder to cry on or a warm embrace to let us know it will all be okay. And sometimes, our faith gets put into things larger than ourselves. I put my faith in America, the single greatest country in the world. A country that has taken someone like me, bestowed her name upon me, clothed me with the flag, nourished me with the freedom she provides, teaches me with her history, and houses me with her protection of nuclear weapons and the greatest military in the world… save for Steve Solex. But you, Scott Stevens? You put your faith in Lee Best. You trust that Lee Best will do for you what America has done for me. And that’s never more evident than what’s been happening to you, hasn’t it?
Title shot after title shot. Championship match after championship match. Loss after loss. Except for one. The HOTv Tag Team Championship. Your first championship… in YEARS! And you didn’t do it on your own. You did it with the help of Jace Parker Davidson and with help from me. Now, sure, you’re probably realizing that I didn’t screw the Highwaymen over. Nope. I purposely called that match right down the middle.
So let that sink in to your brain.
Give it a moment.
Now do you see?
That’s right. I spent roughly one hundred dollars on a custom referee shirt, spent a week getting a crash course in how to be a referee, and used precious HOW air time… all just to fuck with Clay Byrd ahead of our match at ICONIC.
You? You were just another chess piece on the board. A pawn in the game between the former members of the Board and the Highwaymen.
And as I continue to speak, the more it’s beginning to sink in to you that you were never one of us.
Think about it. We lost Cecilworth Farthington. We lost Tyler Best. We lost STRONK Godson. Did you replace any of them? Noooope! Because you aren’t one of us. We replaced those people with names like GREAT SCOTT, the GREATEST HOTV Champion of this age and JATT STARR, a legend in this business. You? You’re not a blip. You don’t register on the scale. Because you don’t win championships unless WE want you to win them. Unless YOU tag with US. You don’t enter OUR circle unless WE allow it.
And there! There it is! I can hear it! The doubt has crept in! The faith you have in Lee Best. It’s wavering.
But let me help you, Scott. Let me help you see the light. Let me help you truly understand your GOD.
Lee Best isn’t complicated. He’s a simple man. Truly.
Lee Best wants just a few, simple things. He wants his wrestlers to shut the fuck up when he speaks, to listen when he talks, to do their fucking job, be entertaining as hell, and make him a shitload of money. Me? I do all of that and MORE for him. He needs a War Games victory. He calls me. He needs me to beat the ever loving shit out of the Highwaymen? He calls me. He needs a shitload of money? He calls me. Because every single day that I hold this championship, is another day that Lee Best can slowly increase the price of the tickets he charges for Chaos and our Pay-Per-Views. Because he knows those douchebag fans will continue to pay through the nose to see someone try and take this championship away from me.
You talked about him choosing you for War Games. How fucking naïve. You weren’t chosen for War Games, dickhead.
Lee Best stuck his hand out like a claw machine and reached into the barrel and pulled out NO ONE. He reached his hand in again and went all the way down to the bottom. AND FOUND NO ONE! He reached his hand in a third time, plunged his fist through the wood, reached deep into the earth, through the muck and slime, and maggot infested dark places – the place where your fucking career was — and he pulled you out. Not by want. Not by choice. By happenstance alone.
And do you know who buried your career there? YOU DID.
You spoke about the mind being the greatest weapon each of us has. You’re right, it is. And while yours is akin to a butter knife, mine is akin to a biological weapon – a virus I use to manipulate and infect my opponents.
For a prophet of Lee Best, you sure as hell couldn’t see it coming, could you? Think about it, Scott. You’ve been afforded championship opportunities against GREAT SCOTT, Jace, and now the Highwaymen. WHERE DID YOU THINK YOU WERE GOING TO GO NEXT? The pattern was RIGHT THERE!
Hitting you with the title, that wasn’t me going into business for myself, it was me going into business for Lee Best. For this god damned roster. For the company that I have dedicated years of my life, rivers of blood, oceans of sweat, and an entire planet’s worth of energy into.
If you were on his side, if you were truly seated at his table, then where the fuck were you when Joe Bergman received his comeuppance? You didn’t ride with us. You weren’t in the shadows lurking. You were somewhere else, licking your wounds from another Scott Stevens loss.
But now, you’ve got the opportunity, don’t you?
At Chaos, all eyes are on you.
The world watches and waits with bated breath to see if you will be the one that finally pins the unpinnable, that submits the unsubmittable, that dethrones the HOW World Champion.
But we both know that it doesn’t matter how many people are watching. Ten. A hundred. A thousand. Ten thousand. The only eyes that matter to you… are HIS. Those cold, calculating, red, bloodshot eyes. Those eyes that seem to be able to see everything coming. One might call it omniscience. Because it’s more than just seeing – it’s vision, it’s clarity, it’s perception, it’s foresight.
I don’t have what he has.
No, my eyes are different.
My eyes have this unique ability to peel back the layers of the opponent in front of me. I get to strip away the façade and the ornaments that my opponents dress themselves in. Trinkets and baubles like red robes and red glasses, gaudy crosses and comically oversized Bible-esque books. And what I’m left with is the naked truth. The ability to see those opponents for who they truly are.
And my eyes… they see you for what you truly are.
You’re a broken man, Scott Stevens.
Not insane. Not deluded. Just broken.
And the person to blame for that… again… is you.
Dan Ryan didn’t break you physically. He gave you an ass whopping. But it’s going to pale in comparison to the beat down you’re going to receive at Chaos. You haven’t been broken physically until I break your back over my knee, until I DDT you so hard in the ring that you’ll need spinal fusion in the hopes of just walking again, until the fingers you attempt to hold in solemn prayer look like they’ve been run through a meat grinder.
And as for psychologically, that’s your fault too. Not Clay Byrd’s. Your inability to train hard enough, work hard enough, go beyond your limits, beyond MY limits, that’s all on you. The losses that pile on as a result of your efforts, that’s on you. You being the worst Texan in this company, that’s on you. YOU broke yourself psychologically. Not the seven foot walking Texas neanderthal that sweats when he has to put two sentences together on the microphone in front of thousands of people.
You’re ALWAYS the problem!
And I know because I watch this locker room like an eagle. I watch. And I learn.
And what I’ve learned from you Scott Stevens is that being the big bad Texan wasn’t cutting it for you anymore. It hasn’t for years. And then when Clay Byrd came into the picture, you look like The Great Value Texan. Some kid wants to see Clay Byrd on Chaos and their mom tells not to worry, they have Clay Byrd at home. That’s you.
That World Championship you had so many years ago? That was no longer a wave you could ride.
The victory over Mike Best? Meaningless now in 2022.
And the laurels that you used to try to big yourself up, the things that you are most proud of accomplishing… they began to change, didn’t they?
From ‘I was World Champion’ to ‘at least I took them to the limit.’ From ‘at least I took them to the limit’ to ‘I put up a good fight.’ From ‘I put up a good fight’ to ‘I’m just glad I had a shot at the title.’ From ‘I’m just glad I had a shot at the title’ to ‘at least I’m employed again.’
And since you can’t see it for yourself, I’m going to make you see. At Chaos, I’m going to make you use your eyes like they’ve never been used before.
In that very ring, I’m going to take my fingers and pry your eyelids wide open. You’re going to look me squarely in the eyes. You’ll see all the pent up hate and rage that I have for you. You’ll be on the receiving end of a beat down that will make you wish you died at Rumble at the Rock.
And with your eyes wide open, you’re going to witness the difference in strength and skill from someone like me versus someone like you. I’m going to show you the fucking chasm that exists between you and me. I’m going to show you what it actually means to be a World Champion in the year 2022.
Flat out, I’m going to show you what separates men like me from men like you.
And then, I’m going to do the most benevolent thing that I can do. I’m going to take my thumbs and gouge them into your eye sockets. I’m going to make the blood vessels burst. Your eyes will stain themselves pink. And you’ll be happy, for the briefest of moments, as you think that I am making you look like the man you dedicate yourself to. But then that happiness will turn to terror as your irises begin to crush. You’ll feel my fingers and nails penetrate them. You will feel the pain that each and every member of this roster feels when they see you.
You, Scott Stevens, are what you always have been: the bane of HOW, the shame of HOW.
This match isn’t a reward, Stevens.
This is your penance.
You’re not here to usurp me. Lee’s faith in a World Champion who always wins doesn’t waver. But Lee’s faith in a self-proclaimed Demi-GOD who destroys his good name? Yeah, that’s where the wavering occurs.
Your sins to this company have been laid wide open for the world to see. And you need to BEG forgiveness from GOD himself for all that you’ve done.
For wasting our time.
For wasting our money.
For wasting our reputation.
You aren’t finding success here and you never will.
This is your 57,392nd chance at the World Championship and the 57,392nd time ain’t the charm.
You’re just like every other disappointing hall of famer that I’ve faced. I pluck you from obscurity, gave you your 15 minutes of fame, and then send you packing back to the shit hole you crawled out of. Put right back in your place. BENEATH ME!
Of that… you can be sure.
Of that… you can put your faith in.
It had been almost a month since Christopher America had seen Bill Right. And despite his best efforts to fill his days, America found himself busy but not fulfilled. Bill’s absence was seen physically and felt psychologically.
This was all the more evident when America came home from Alcatraz. The night after Rumble at the Rock, Christopher America stood in a darkened doorway, his back illuminated by the street lights, his long shadow projecting into the open hallway, with the HOW World Championship in one hand and his American branded luggage in the other.
America tossed his bag dismissively to the side and then lovingly laid the HOW World Championship on a special shelf that he had erected in his hallway.
As America looked at the title and smoothed out the straps to give the championship more prominence, America recalled his victories at War Games and Dead or Alive. He enjoyed coming home to find his house illuminated. He and Bill celebrated the victories and Bill would listen to America re-tell the entire experience of being in the ring with his opponents. And Bill, despite having watched the events in the moment, never once grew tired of listening to the stories. And if he had, he never showed it.
Bill was there. He was ALWAYS there. Until… that moment… when he wasn’t any longer.
The morning after Chaos 16 just as all the other mornings had for the last month, with the light breaking through the curtains and the weather grappling with itself, as fall and winter struggled over who would show themselves today.
America swung his legs over the side of the bed and chuckled slightly to himself, the thought of smashing Scott Stevens in the face still firmly in his head. And even more satisfying was the fact that the Highwaymen lost their titles fair and square. No shenanigans. No fast counts or slow counts. Just sticking to the rules.
America got up and stretched his shoulders and back. He rolled his shoulders a couple of times before twisting his neck side-to-side, loosening himself up for the day ahead.
America put on his American flag robe, slipped on his bald eagles slippers and made his way to the kitchen. He got about halfway there when…
America stopped and glanced at the clock in the hallway. The seconds ticked by as America, almost in disbelief, looked as the clock read 6:38. America’s brain registered that the lights were still off in his house as only the beams of the sun shining in through a few non-covered windows illuminated the inside. He hoped somewhat that whoever was there would go away. He didn’t have time to help strangers and if it was a break-in, they were being stupid trying to alert the whole house.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
The knocks came slower and more forceful. America moved to the door, unlocked it and opened it.
America simply stared. In shock. In disbelief. He caught himself as his mouth hung open.
There he was.
For the first time in nearly a month, Bill Right stood in front of Christopher America. His face was unemotional. It was unclear to the World Champion whether Bill was still angry at him or not. America stood there stunned as Bill stood there as well, clutching his trademark tablet.
It was awkward for a moment as neither man moved and neither man spoke. Finally, as if catching himself, America blinked and then stood back from the door, allowing Bill the space to enter his home. Bill nodded silently but made no movement forward. Instead, Bill stepped to the side, allowing a gentleman much taller than him to proceed first. The man was about 6 feet 4 inches, muscular, and older. He had a white suit jacket and pants on. Underneath was a blue vest and a red tie. He had on a white hat that matched his outfit. In his hand was a beautifully ornate wooden cane. The handle was topped with a beautiful golden bust of a bald eagle.
As the man entered, he smiled wide from ear to ear at the sight of the World Champion in his presence. America, however, frowned. The man went in with arms outstretched and wrapped them around America in a giant bear hug. He squeezed tightly before standing back and taking a deep breath.
America looked at Bill and shot him a dirty look. The man looked at America, followed his gaze back to Bill, and then looked back at America.
America turned and looked at the man and rubbed the inside of his mouth with his tongue, as if searching for how he wanted to do this. Until finally, the only thing made sense came out.
No small talk.
Christopher America: Dad.
And then he began.
Mr. America: My boy! Look at you!
America nodded as his father began his usual litany of praises…
Mr. America: You look great! You still got my hair and your mother’s eyes, I see. A bit heftier than the last time I saw you though. You put on weight? All muscle, right? I can tell. You look much better now.
And the usual litany of backhanded compliments.
During the exchange, Bill had begun bringing in Mr. America’s luggage and placed it inside the entryway. As Mr. America attempted to continue rambling on, America held up his hands.
Christopher America: Dad, why don’t you go into the kitchen and scrounge yourself some leftovers from the fridge if you’re hungry or some coffee that’s brewing.
America’s father slapped his son on the arm and nodded.
Mr. America: Sure thing! Man, it’s good to see you.
He proceeded to the kitchen before calling out.
Mr. America: Nice house! I thought it’d be bigger given you’re finally a big star and all that but we can talk about that later.
America rounded on Bill.
Christopher America: What the hell do you think you’re doing? Bringing him here?
Bill finished brining in the luggage before straightening up and adjusting his glasses.
Bill: I brought him here because I hoped that he would spark a change in you. Everything I’ve seen to this point has been Christopher America stepping farther and farther away from his heritage… from his pro-America stances and becoming Chris Ordinary… Chris Depression… Chris Whatever… I just… I know you’re unhappy.
America nodded his head with his mouth open and eyes wide, conveying a ‘no shit’ attitude.
Bill: I’m talking about before now and you know it. Just have a little faith, okay?
Bill looks at the shelf in the hallway and sees #97Red resting there in all her glory.
Bill: Still champ, I see. Which means you survived Harrison. Which means you have another challenge before you. Which means I don’t want to go through several weeks of you moping around here in a funk worrying about some other bullshit that takes your mind off your opponent.
America was a mix of emotions now.
The way Bill spoke… the way he acted…
Christopher America: So… you haven’t left?
Bill paused and looked at America. The champ could see the conflicted nature in his eyes.
Bill: No… I thought about it, if I’m being honest. But… no.
I’m still here.
Anyway, I’m going to go put your father’s stuff in the guest bedroom.
You should talk to him. Catch up. You have a lot to talk about.
America stood there and watched as Bill made his way with some luggage towards the guest bedroom. America then turned his head towards the kitchen and heard his father fumbling with dishes. Before stepping into the room, America composed himself, and entered.
Mr. America: Great spread you got in there? You eat all that?
Christopher America: Meal prep. To ensure I stay healthy and physically fit for the ring.
Mr. America took a huge bite of a leftover chicken breast and nodded.
Mr. America: Makes sense. I, uh…
Christopher America: Dad, what are you doing here?
America’s tone was terse as he cut his father off. Mr. America continued chewing and looked his son up and down. He nodded and shrugged before setting his small plate of food down. He dusted his hands off and walked towards the island. He placed his arms there to steady himself as he began.
Mr. America: Bill said you’ve been, uh, going through some things. Mentioned you’ve not been yourself lately.
Christopher America: And suddenly, you care?
Mr. America: That’s not fair. I’ve always cared. It’s just I didn’t know. You… you cut me off years ago. You haven’t answered my letters. I know you blocked my number. So, all I see is what the television shows me.
Christopher America: Weird. So, you know that I’m not answering and you still show. Can’t take a hint?
Mr. America pursed his lips and chuckled to himself while shaking his head.
Mr. America: Tongue’s still sharp. Just like your mother’s. Look, what’s happened to you? Honestly. Put the BS aside. What’s going on?
America’s brow furrowed as a half smile formed as he spoke, incredulous at the question.
Christopher America: What do you mean what’s going on? I’m World Champion, dad! Nearly 6 months! I thought you said you watched the show.
Mr. America: I’m not talking about that. Bill said you’ve not been yourself since you won the Championship. Said you been having nightmares. Hearing things. Chris, h… he said that you’ve been talking to the championship.
Christopher America: Dad, I’m not going to hash this out with you. It’s too early in the morning. I haven’t eaten and I have to train for a title defense next week. You want to talk about me behind my back to Bill? Go right ahead. Just leave me out of it. However long Bill roped you in to being here for? Cut it in half. Find an excuse. Tell him you have business. You forgot an appointment. I don’t give a shit. Find something and then GET OUT!
America turned and stormed out of the kitchen. As he passed the entrance to the kitchen, America brushed past Bill who was coming the opposite direction. As Bill stepped aside, he looked into the kitchen as Mr. America looked back and merely shrugged his shoulders.