”A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of sheep”
– George R. R. Martin
I’ve been going through the wringer lately.
When I came back, there was a thick heavy cloud over my head. It seemed like the entire wrestling world knew what I had done. Everyone had discussed the entire ordeal in countless private conversations, hushed whispers, or sometimes outright loud vulgarities.
I was humbled by what I had done.
It was a real wake up call, and it seemed it would finally be the thing that broke me from my cycle of self-destruction, of self-aggrandizing self-indulgence, of my intense and persistent selfishness.
And it did. It did. For a while.
I’ve been trying to hard these last eight or nine months. I’ve been trying to be a good citizen within this world of ours, and I’ve listened while much lesser men and women have used my poor decisions to lessen everything… anything… I had accomplished in my twenty-five plus years in the sport.
It wasn’t always about winning championships, although that’s obviously how it started. But for ten years it was about providing a playground for the younger generation to find themselves. I created and nurtured a company that made countless men and women able to develop and push themselves beyond what they thought they could be, or what they had been told they could be.
It was a good place. It was a meaningful place. It was recognized and respected as one of the top wrestling companies in the world, with a rabid fanbase and fierce loyalty from the employees who worked there.
I think on some level it is laughably oxymoronic that, in a sport where I so regularly cheated to win, resulting in so many championships, resulting in so many people counting me among the best to ever step inside the ring, I would eventually become an outcast because I cheated in a very specific way.
We’re okay with you crippling people for your own self-serving purposes. Wrestling needs bad guys. We’re okay with you purchasing and bankrupting other companies who dared try to compete with you. That’s just business. And we’re okay with betrayal. Wrestling is built on betrayal. It is the lifeblood of our sport. We don’t go into a ring and hug out our differences. We seek to destroy our enemies. That’s the game. That’s what I was bred for and that’s what I did for all those years, unapologetically and without any regard for what anyone else thinks about that.
So do all of those things… feel free… but don’t cheat in this one specific way. It’s unforgivable. Nothing you ever did matters anymore, not any of it. I listened to it, and it hurt, because they weren’t just stepping on my neck. I can take that no problem. They were stepping on hundreds of men and women who accomplished those things around me and beside me. Some of these people stood beside me while I was doing those evil things, and yet suddenly were stubbornly and permanently saddled up on the highest of horses.
I was weakened by it all. I can’t deny that. I was weakened so much that I led myself to believe that if I tried to finally walk the straight and narrow, if I behaved myself, I could regain some of that lost respect. Maybe I would even be welcomed back into the fold.
I was weakened.
Because only a weak man would believe such asinine bullshit. A switch has been flipped. I don’t care what they say anymore. I don’t care about their feelings, I don’t care who approves of the things I do, and I will not abide anyone looking down their big fat nose at me. They can shove their judgments right up their asses.
I’m a man, you understand? I’m not some geek in a cubicle somewhere. I’m a motherfucking man, a trained, deadly grown ass man, and I will not be made to feel inferior to anyone ever again. Not now. Not ever. I’m not a sniveling coward who begs for forgiveness from people who never amounted to so much as a tenth of what I am.
I will tell each and every one of you to your face that I will do whatever it takes to win. I will do whatever I must to win in domination fashion and as often as anyone ever has. I have nothing left to lose, and to be honest, even if I did, I don’t think I’d give fuck.
Here’s the deal.
Let it go, or go fuck yourself.
I’m not talking about this anymore.
Kiss my big white Texas ass.
And hey, if you feel like you still have something to say, you don’t have to say it in your little side chats and private social clubs anymore. Grow some motherfucking balls and say it to my face. Fight for those opinions of yours. I’ll be happy to knock your goddamn teeth down your throat.
This is a manifesto.
I am the baddest motherfucker in the history of this sport.
I will not pretend otherwise.
I will not entertain ignorance.
I will fight until my last breath.
I will die in the fucking ring.
It’s my fucking home, and I own it. No more talking about what used to be. I’m talking about what is… right now.
If you want me to go away? You’re gonna have to kill me. That’s it. That’s the full gist of it. You’ll have to kill me.
I am the Ego Buster
I am Murder Daddy
I am the Hammer of GOD.
And I don’t give a damn if you like it.
”You start with a darkness to move through but sometimes the darkness moves through you.”
– Dean Young
Phyllis Anderson sits in a high backed wooden chair opposite another, larger wooden chair turned away from her. She sits upright, hands nervously thumbing the edge of her skirt.
The chair swings around. Dan Ryan is sitting there. He is wearing business apparel, a custom fit button down shirt and slacks and a golden ring on his left hand reflecting the sunlight from the window beyond his position.
He stares at her with a very serious expression, making certain to give nothing away.
“I was rather hard on you last week.”
She doesn’t say anything. She just stares at him, not willing to give him anything, certainly not the satisfaction of knowing that she is currently terrified. She’s been down this road before. She knows him too well, and she does not like what she has been seeing lately.
“I want you to know, Phyllis, that what you do for me is an invaluable service. You have been employed by myself, my family or my business interests for twenty years. No one is more fully entwined in my affairs as you are, and it is for that reason that I can’t allow you to get comfortable with mistakes.”
She blinks, only looking away slightly.
“Phyllis, you were there with me through everything. I would expect that you don’t have any moral qualms left with your service to me, and yet recently you have been trying to appeal to my better self. I want that to stop now.”
She nods, nervously.
He smiles slightly, but it disappears as quickly as it appears.
“There is no better self, Phyllis. There never was. I wasn’t my better self when I was a family man, or when I was running my company, or any time I stepped into the ring or fought someone outside the ring. All of these people who were there, you included, I want them all to cut the bullshit and own up to what they’ve done. They are all complicit. You are complicit. Like I said, your service is invaluable, but I will no longer tolerate fraudulent behavior. You have helped me do horrible things. Don’t run from it. You’re going to help me do even more.”
This time he doesn’t wait for a response.
“I have some things I want you to do for me, Phyllis. Gone are the days when I avoid certain topics because it may cause you to be implicated in something. You are part of this now, whether you like it or not, and I need you to decide once and for all if you are with me, and if you aren’t…”
Dan turns his chair back around and looks out the window, his back to her.
“…then, when I turn around, you shouldn’t be there. If you are, we’ll move forward. If not, you’ll never hear another word from me as long as I live.”
The words hang in the air, and for a moment, Phyllis deeply considers standing up and walking out. It occurred to her, however, that she had known nothing else for so long. She had spent a moment wondering how her life would be different if she was free from this, if she could live a different reality, but she always came back to the same conclusion.
He was right. She was complicit, not because she had to be, but because she wanted to be.
Dan turns around and stares Phyllis in the eyes.
She doesn’t say anything, but she sits tall in her chair and holds a very serious gaze as she looks him directly in the eyes. He considers her countenance and then smiles.
“Good. There is a car outside. The driver is waiting for you. There will be instructions tucked into the side pocket on the inside of the car. On it is the name of a man. I want you to find him, and I want you to bring him to me, no matter what it takes. You have all of my resources at your fingertips. Be resourceful, do what must be done.”
She nods, and for the first time, she did not feel reserved in his presence. She let all pretense fall, embracing this, determined.
“I assume you want him alive.”
He thinks, looks down, then shrugs.
“I don’t really care if he’s alive or dead. If he’s alive, I will have some questions for him about a common enemy. If he’s not, well… none of it matters anyway.”
She stands up and heads for the door. Before leaving, she looks up at a portrait of the Ryan family hanging over the door, Dan standing tall in the back, Alaina to one side, Cecilia in front. The girls are smiling. Dan is not. Phyllis takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, and lets the tension wash away from her.
She exits through the door toward the waiting car outside.
Behind her, in his chair, Dan Ryan laughs.
”No one likes letting go of what they have always believed, even when they know it’s right to do so.”
– Terry Brooks
I respect you, Jace.
That is to say, I understand you.
I know what it feels like to feel used. I know what it feels like to work hard at something and ultimately find that it’s all in vain.
It’s been a long year or so for you. Since choosing to break free from Lee Best, you’ve been thwarted at every turn. Sure, you’ve had championship gold, had main events, and you continue to earn those things, but they all just seem like an elaborate setup to make a fool of you one more time.
What was the most recent one?
A championship match against STRONK!, may he rest in peace. That ended about as anyone should have expected. You were not going to win that match, Jace. It would not have mattered what you did. No matter your efforts, you were going to lose. God wanted you to lose, and lose you did.
I myself have chosen a different path.
I have chosen not to bite the hand that feeds me. Maybe that makes me a simp, or a sheep. I think it makes me smart. The truth is, all I want in life is to have the opportunity to do as much damage as I possibly can. I want a stage to inflict pain on other people because I have come to the oh so sad conclusion that pain is the only thing I was put on this Earth for. I’m not meant to comfort small children or help old ladies across the street. I’m here to sow chaos, Jace. That’s all I’m here for.
I feel free embracing that truth.
You’re a Hall of Famer, a former World Champion, a former lot of things. It’s like I said, I understand you. But despite being on God’s good side and fully in his good graces, I have to admit, I’m jealous of you.
I don’t care that I’ve won all of the things that I’ve won. I don’t even bring them up. No one cares. I don’t care. What I care about is that I am currently in the most difficult, most competitive professional wrestling company in the world, and I am surrounded by Hall of Famers who also don’t give a damn about my past.
We are, shall I say… family, Jace.
For all intents and purposes, we are family.
We all have a choice to make in life. We can run for our safe spaces or we can fight. We can look down our noses at people or we can punch them in the face. We can play pattycake or we can break bones. Evan Ward likes breaking bones. So do I. Like I said, we all have more in common than not.
But the beautiful thing about all of this, Jace, is that I can have much in common with you, with Evan Ward, with Rhys Townsend, with John Sektor, with Conor Fuse, but the only thing that matters is proving yourself to be the absolute best of the best.
So we keep fighting each other, because that’s what we do. That’s why we’re all here. It’s why we stay here and don’t leave. Only the weak decide they can no longer take the pressure, and they run away to wherever. I won’t even give any other company the satisfaction of being mentioned.
But I’m happy now, Jace. Because here’s the thing. I’m proud of what I am and what I’m about to do with you. When I dump you on your neck and do my damn best to break it and put you in a wheelchair, I’ll do so with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.
I’m free of the bullshit.
Maybe we’ll keep doing this for decades to come. Perhaps we’ll all be fighting each other over the last crumb at lunch in the senior living center. I think that’s just the way it goes. We’re meant for this, drawn to it. It is inside us all.
This week, here’s the thing… I’m going to do everything I can to cave your skull in. I want to win the World Championship someday. I’m not willing to be patient. That means I have to make statements. So this week, I plan to make a statement.
I respect you.
I relate to you Jace.
But we are not the same.
I was chosen by God, and I will do his work. You will lose much more than an eye this week.
“It’s bad enough you won’t live – but then again, who does?”