“I’ve turned into a monster
A monster, a monster
And it keeps getting stronger”
- “Monster” by Imagine Dragons
A few days ago, Christopher America spoke to his father to the first time in over a decade. His return on his doorstep was not a welcome sight and was certainly something that America had misgivings about. And while the HOW World Champion was dealing with the return of his father, he felt sick to his stomach. He had felt this feeling before. He felt it when returning to HOW, about stepping foot inside a War Games cage, about stepping foot on Alcatraz Island, and undoubtedly, he’d feel it as he stepped foot inside the squared circle for the main event of ICONIC.
It was that feeling you get when you’re hungry. Your stomach feels like it’s been empty for days. You need nourishment. And yet, every piece of food put in front of you is the most disgusting looking thing on the planet. The mere sight of food tells your body that you shouldn’t have any because you’re too full. It’s an awful contradiction. A fight between what is real and what is imagined.
It… was anxiety.
Benjamin America didn’t understand. He couldn’t understand. The mere sight of him brought back feelings of inadequacies and doubt. Things that the patriotic wrestler had attempted to bury and forget. Things he had hoped to leave in the past.
Benjamin America was an absent father, but not in the way that most people think.
He was present.
He was there.
All the time.
And in the worst ways.
When his son had difficulties in school, he went to bat for his son against the teachers. When school bullies threatened and hurt his son, Benjamin was there to course correct that and ensure they never bullied his son again. And when Christopher wasn’t doing what Benjamin thought he should be doing with his life, America’s father ensured his son walked the right path.
The problem was that wasn’t what Chris needed. When he was struggling in school, he needed his father to guide him. When he was being bullied, he needed a shoulder to cry on. And when he was trying to figure out what to do with his life, he needed space.
And now, looming on the horizon was a fight with Christopher America’s greatest opponent to date, at the biggest show of the year, for the richest prize in the company.
And he could tell.
Chris could see that his father didn’t see it that way. No, he saw it differently…
Christopher America awoke, got cleaned up, got dressed, and headed for the kitchen for some breakfast. He made a beeline to the refrigerator and hope to shovel food down before his body had a chance to tell him he didn’t need to eat.
He opened the refrigerator to grab some breakfast from a container prepared earlier. He reached to the drawer to the left, opened it, pulled out a fork and closed it with his hip. As he turned to head towards the table, he saw his father sitting there, looking at him.
America said nothing and began to walk out of the room when his father reached out and grabbed him by the wrist.
Benjamin America: Son. Come on. Sit.
Christopher coldly looked down at his wrist and then at his father, as he slowly chewed the fruit in his mouth.
Benjamin didn’t release the hold.
Benjamin America: Just… just sit. Okay? Just sit. We’re adults.
America continued to look at his father, pulled his arm away and walked into the dining room. The room was empty with sunlight attempting to shine through the small cracks where the curtains met. America walked to the side of the table and sat down. He angrily stabbed at the other fruit in his container and forced it into his mouth. He could feel the anxiety rising again.
His father came into the dining room and stood in the threshold.
Benjamin America: You know, I uhm… I gave you your space. I let you have time to cool off. And quite frankly, Chris, I have tried. I tried reaching out. I tried helping out. I tried to offer my perspective and you just shut yourself off. So, I don’t know what I did. I don’t. I honestly don’t!
Chris still didn’t look at his father. He simply chewed his food and looked out the window in front of him. He swallowed and then looked at him.
Christopher America: Do you know what I wanted to be when I got older? Do you have any idea about what I showed interest in? Was it being a police officer or firefighter like most kids? Did I show some weird tendencies to call out wanting to be an accountant or a uh… uh… marketing manager? Did I want to do something “lazy” as you put it before like an artist? Or did I always want to be a wrestler?
Benjamin America: You always wanted to be a wrestler.
Christopher America: NO! No, I didn’t!
Benjamin America: Yes, you did! You told me! Multiple times!
Christopher America: No. You did! You wanted this! And now you have this!
Chris put his fork down and placed his hands on the table. He shook his head and then turned back to his father.
Christopher America: I… I wanted to be something else. I wanted to do something else. Did I give you the impression that I was made for fighting? That I… I would be good at… at… at beating people’s faces in? When I was sitting in a classroom, learning math or reading the latest Goosebumps book that I was somehow a quiet killer waiting to be unleashed?
I wasn’t. I know I wasn’t. But the scary part for me is I don’t know what I wanted to do. I can’t remember anymore. All I think about… all I know now… is this.
Is professional wrestling and America.
And you got your wish. Because I’m damn good at both.
Benjamin America: You were lost, Chris. You were bullied. You were a punching bag. You were alright in school. But you weren’t DOING anything with yourself. You just… you just went through life! You were there! JUST THERE!
Christopher America: Just there?!?!
The world champion’s voice broke. Part rage. Part disbelief. Part sadness. And so much pain.
Christopher America: JUST THERE?!?! What did you want from me?!?! I was a kid!
Benjamin America: You were my son.
Christopher America: And who the fuck are you?!
Benjamin America: CHRISTOPHER!
Chris ignored his father’s warning shot.
Christopher America: You’re nobody! You’re not a pro wrestler. You’re not some big shot in a company. You’re some guy that just… you just made a decent living doing some mundane job, and what… live out in retirement doing nothing now? And somewhere in there… you took a kid and you broke him. You took a child and had him beat his school bully in the backyard until he was a bloody pulp.
Any regrets or compassion, you squashed it. Any feelings of failure or inadequacy, you amplified it. I… look at most human beings now as objects because of you. I don’t get close to people. I rarely make friends. And I derive pleasure from beating people up and making them feel as badly as I do.
And I’ve tried to be better. But I can’t.
That’s what YOU did.
That’s what YOU made me!
You say you always watch the show? Did you see the pre-tape from this last week? I was gone for three years from HOW. From the company I love. Because of you. And I lied to that audience telling them that the reason I look the way I do, the way I wrestle the way I do, the way I act the way I do is because I’m making up for my failure. But that’s only part of it. The other part of it is that it’s…it’s like a conditioning kicks in.
I AM NEARING 40 YEARS OLD, DAD! FORTY!!! And I realize that a part of me… well, a big part… is still trying to please you. I’m still trying to make up the loss at Rumble at the Rock to you. I’m still trying to be World Champion for you. I set out on a mini-crusade, in between my championship defenses, to expose Hall of Famers who don’t meet their potential. And I did that because I wasn’t meeting MY OWN potential.
Because of you.
I then sought out the accomplishments I desired. Being the Greatest War Games winner. Being World Champion again. Being where I’m at now.
Because of you.
And I can’t think of the last time that I’ve just done something for myself. Because I enjoyed it. Because I legitimately enjoyed it. Not because I think I enjoyed it but really it’s something that you instilled into me.
You want to know why I’m the “sad Christopher America” as Bill put it?
It’s because of you.
Because I have this sense of loathing and shitty self worth. Because you conditioned me that way. Because you thought it would make me better.
Look at the man that sits before you. Not the boy. THE MAN.
Are you happy to see him?
I’m your monster, dad.
The thing you created.
Aren’t you proud?
Benjamin America: No.
Because I don’t recognize you now.
You’re a monster, Clay.
And you do nothing to change that moniker, do you?
“The Monster from Plainview.”
But I think we know what that really means. You’re called a monster because of how you look. Nearly seven feet tall. Scraggly hair and beard. Slow and lumbering like the dumbest mountain troll imaginable. It’s a wonder you walk through the curtains at the beginning of a match on your own.
I’m a real monster. Not a moniker. I’m a living, breathing monster.
Don’t believe me? Ask every HOW fan. To them… I’m the biggest monster in this company.
Because of who I am, what I represent, and the lengths that I’ll go to in order to retain my championship.
Some think you’re a monster because you brutally beat up your Rumble at the Rock opponent, Frank Dylan James. I beat up an elderly war vet and beat your boy, Solex, in his front of his military buddies… just to prove a point. Just to prove how much better of an American I am.
But my monstrous ways did something you could’ve never imagined.
After I beat Solex at Dead or Alive, you couldn’t find him backstage. He was barely even around. And when he was, he was the weak link causing your Highwaymen to constantly lose the HOTV Tag Team Championships. I made the unstoppable war veteran into someone who went AWOL and abandon his post.
Your boy, Bergman, was so good and squeaky clean, I could see my reflection in him. But after a simple low blow from me, your boy starts running his mouth and losing control. He loses championships, asks for matches he then later can’t compete in, and then runs to OTHER COMPANIES for help… instead of the Highwaymen.
And Steve Harrison? He’s so psychologically worn down that he’s moved on from the World Championship like it was just another match he lost. He doesn’t give two shits about this championship, only proving how unworthy he was to hold her. And now… now he fights with Conor Fuse about game controllers.
The Highwaymen are broken.
And I did it.
One… by one… by one.
And it was easy.
You see, together, you’re formidable. But separately… you can’t survive on your own.
What is so monstrous about you in comparison? You try to make me afraid before a World Championship match against Scott Stevens? I still won. You beat up Cancer Jiles? Who gives a shit? Where is he now? Washed out of HOW, running back to a company that is terrified of running in the same town as Lee Best. All your accomplishments? Everything that you’ve done up to this point? They mean jack fucking shit… because you’re stepping into the ring with the legend himself, the greatest World Champion of all time, the greatest AMERICAN of all time… Christopher America.
And if you think I’m afraid of facing you, you have another thing coming. The difference between me and you is that I’ve battled ACTUAL monsters.
All my life.
In and out of HOW.
Some were easily defined. Monsters who looked like monsters – scarred, disgusting, snarling, hulking beasts of considerable size and physical strength.
And some… some disguise themselves. They wrap themselves in good intentions and slowly reveal themselves over time. And we don’t really see them, not until it’s too late. They always prowl about and wait for the right time and right place to prosper.
And some monsters – the worst of them all – are the ones who weren’t monsters to begin with. They were good. They were wholesome. But then they became corrupted. Twisted and warped until they became a darker version of their former self. Blame others, blame the environment. But perhaps… perhaps, deep down, they wanted to be unleashed. Because at their core, they knew they were monsters all along.
They own it.
They live it.
They embrace it.
I know which one you are, Clay. But me? I’m the worst of them all. Corrupted and twisted and changed by this… this company. By the fans. By Lee Best, himself. Hell, even the boys and girls in the back. By people like you and your Highwaymen. And by things you’ll never see and people you’ve never met.
I am simultaneously the best and worst aspects of this great country. Cold, calculating, and brutal. And as such, I’m not scared of you because you have nothing to offer me.
Nothing to do with all your strength. Nothing to do with your size. Nothing to do with your intimidation. It falls flat on me. I’ve faced giants of the ring, giants of ego, giants of speed, giants of size and strength. From Aceldama to Max Kael; from Mike Best to Shane Reynolds. I have put each and every single one of them down. You’re just another giant in my path. Another obstacle in my way as I continue to climb the insurmountable mountain. As I continue on my reign as the greatest World Champion in HOW history.
I took a vested interest in you over the last six months because I knew you were the end game. You were the big prize. And I must say, I’m impressed by what you’ve shown me. I’ve seen you grow and evolve from a lumbering idiot to a whining doofus. I’ve taken shits in less time than it takes you to walk down to the ring. The amount of high-pitched decibels you put into whining the first week after Rumble at the Rock would make a five year old girl blush. Was Solex fingering you from behind so you could get your voice that high?
Regardless, there you were. The Monster of Plainview. Bitching in the middle of an HOW ring, flanked by your dumber counterparts.
You claimed that you’ve spent the last six months trying to win the HOW World Championship.
What utter bullshit.
No, you haven’t.
You’ve done nothing in the last six months.
You, Clay Byrd, have put forth so little time and effort into this company, into chasing this championship, into your wrestling… that you really don’t deserve this match. I’ve seen you more on television this period than any other period since I’ve been back.
You’re welcome for making you relevant.
Six fucking months is all you’ve spent trying to win this championship? Boo fucking hoo to you! I’ve spent the last three YEARS working on a comeback for her. And I’ve spent the last six months successfully defending it against every single person put in my path. Not once… NOT FUCKING ONCE… have I complained about my spot, about my opponents, about my matches, no matter how unfair. Because I know what it gets you.
It gets you labeled as a bitch.
It falls on deaf ears.
And the time and energy spent into whining about whatever situation we find ourselves in, is time and energy not spent on things we could be doing. Things like training. Things like standing out. Things like MAKING opportunities happen instead of waiting for them.
I took the FIRST opportunity I had to make the World Championship mine while you’ve squandered opportunities against men who aren’t on my level because I PUT IN THE FUCKING WORK!
While you, the 40-year-old monster from Plainview, couldn’t beat a punk kid who spends more time cleaning up D-Pads on old NES controllers than he does in a wrestling ring.
You complain about the Board interfering but did nothing to earn yourself a rematch. Your next opportunity was at War Games. All you had to do was be a team player, attend the team summit, and you could’ve gone the distance. Did you do it? Nah. Clay Byrd fucked off, went to the back, pulled out a couple of Polly Pocket toys, and left Conor Fuse standing in the middle of the ring holding his joystick.
The best part about it, too? YOU WERE A CO-CAPTAIN!
And you fucked that up only to try to blame everyone else for the shitty draft you did. The truth of the matter is that you lost to a gamer who built his World Championship reign on defeating Scott Stevens multiple times.
And at ICONIC, just like at War Games, you’re going to lose to me… someone who built his legacy off the backs of the Highwaymen, legends, and Hall of Famers. I built my legacy off of beating Mike Best in HOFC, beating Scottywood in his Battledome, surviving War Games, and BOTTOM LINING MAX KAEL HIMSELF! Mike and I didn’t have the luxury of the World Championship when we had our little scuffle but we made DAMN sure that we were the FUCKING main event. You had opportunity after opportunity to take the main event from me and you didn’t. NOT FUCKING ONCE.
Dead or Alive? Me and Solex.
Rumble at the Rock? Me and Harrison.
ICONIC? Me and you.
See the common thread, fuckface?
IT’S ME! I’m the fucking main event! Elevating your shitty stable. But you think it’s the title. You think the title will coast you there… to the main event… rather than putting in the fucking work!
You treat every match, every opponent, every single thing offered to you as a waste of time. As an annoyance. We all saw it, too! We’ve seen the way you treat the HOTV Title and the Tag Team Titles. You did NOTHING to elevate them. NOTHING to make Refueled or Chaos about you and your titles. You expected the titles to elevate you, instead. Your opponents put more meaning on the titles than you did.
And I’ll be damned if I let you take my championship and do the same to her as you did those other titles. The last thing she wants is to have your TEXAS sized hands fasten her around your ALASKAN sized waist just above your RHODE ISLAND sized dick.
See, Clay. You don’t understand championships because you’re a loser.
That’s what Clay Byrd is.
And that’s what Clay Byrd does.
But even deeper than that. You don’t understand the burden that comes with a championship, let alone the World Championship. Every time you’ve been given an opportunity to run with a championship, to have the spotlight shown on you or your team, you falter.
But me? I crave the spotlight.
When it’s not on me… I do underhanded things in the dark. I manipulate. I backstab. I cheat. Anything and everything I can do… all of it… just to shift the spotlight’s focus back… to… me. I thrive in the spotlight. I do my best work in the spotlight. I have carried this company forward out of 2022 and into 2023 on my back… in the spotlight.
And yes, Clay, it’s hard.
I get it.
I was there. I was RIGHT THERE. Right where you are now… 10 years ago. The only difference is… right now… it just isn’t your time. And unfortunately for you, it’s NEVER going to be your time. Because you, Clay Byrd, aren’t ready for this championship. You aren’t ready for the role, the responsibility, the pressure… or the spotlight.
I mean, just think about it. Imagine yourself as World Champion. Just imagine yourself doing radio interviews or media scrums.
Butterflies in the stomach.
All of it just because you actually have to represent this company, be the face of the company, and hype up the next title defense. You don’t get to stay away from HOW for weeks on end in your ranch in Texas deciding which cow has earned your “special gaze” that night.
But, don’t get me wrong, you’d be a great champion… back in the 1920s. Everything on the television all black and white. Besides, I hear that’s what you Texans prefer anyways. The less color, the better for you. Am I right?
Anyways, it’s the 1920s. You’re champion. Black and white television. No sound. No talking. Just some moving pictures and a placard that comes up every now and then to describe what people are saying. That way, someone else can write your lines for you and you can go back to defending your championship against… I don’t know… a circus bear and probably a couple of midgets.
You’re a pathetic monster and I’m going to fucking expose you.
And then after I’m done at ICONIC… after I’m done beating the ever loving piss out of you… after I’ve retained my championship… after I’ve planted the flag of America and HOW on top of your body… I’m going to settle a score with your buddy Bergman for bringing that other company’s filth into HOW. I’m going to go to MVW, win their championship and hand it to Lee Best on a silver platter. And then, I’m coming for PRIME. And I’m going to deliver their championship to Lee Best, too. And by the end of 2023, Lee Best is going to have so many World Championships from other companies, you’d swear he was Thanos and that his mantle was the Infinity Gauntlet.
What a monstrous idea, don’t you think?
“Monster” from Plainview.
You don’t know the fucking meaning of the word.
But I’ll show.
I’ll show you a monster.
And I’ll show you just how frightening and cruel I can really be.