“Man this life seems hard enough
Well, maybe we ain’t meant for this love.”
- “Mockingbird” by Rob Thomas
Benjamin America: I mean, what happened? Why did you abandon our family name? What happened to the kid that talked about America like it was going out of style?
I am proud of what you accomplished and I certainly appreciate the fact that I am standing in your amazing home, paid for by the hard work you’ve done. But Chris, I—I can’t say I’m proud of the man that swears in front of me or lashes out when I am trying to reach out to him… to help him. And I am in no way proud of the man that thinks of the flag or this country as an afterthought.
You walked back into HOW and it was like watching some miraculous evolution. You were bigger, stronger, you oozed America. And I couldn’t have been prouder. You walked into a hostile country and planted the flag of freedom as you gave the Ukrainians something to dream for. It’s for that reason why they’ve held off Russia, I have to believe. You liberated the World Championship. And you followed that up by giving our military men the greatest example of what it means to be an American since General MacArthur.
But something happened to you.
It was after the Solex fight on July 4th.
It’s like you began to lose a step. And I don’t understand why. It was America that brought you to the dance. It was America that got you signed by HOW. But it seems like the… the moment that the World Championship enters the picture, America gets pushed out.
And you can blame me and how I raised you, but you said it yourself. You’re a man now. I’ve not been present. That choice to push out America was yours, not mine.
Christopher looked at his father utterly bewildered.
Christopher America: It’s my fucking name! It adorns my clothes! Every time I’m on screen, every time I see a foreigner, every time someone challenges who I am… I REFERENCE HER! Nearly EVERYTHING I do falls back to her. How the FUCK is it being pushed out?!
Although Chris’ voice raised, Benjamin’s did not, but the irritation within him was growing.
Benjamin America: The same way that everything else does. We fall out of step. We forget. We feel it becomes too difficult. Or we feel like we’re not worthy.
The world champion scowled at the intimation.
Benjamin America: When you won the championship prior, your mother and I were so happy for you. It felt like you had been rewarded properly. All your hard work and effort. It culminated. And when you lost it in less than 30 days, well, we knew how devastated you must’ve been. But when you won it, you… your focus shifted. And it’s like America began to fall to the wayside. You conducted yourself like what you thought a World Champion SHOULD be like, rather than setting the tone and the pace yourself. You could’ve used that opportunity to redefine what it meant to be a World Champion, a pro-America World Champion.
And when you wavered, the championship was gone.
When you won it for a second time, you held it for longer. And you held it for longer because, we think, you held on to America for longer. I watched how you handled things against tougher opponents. We saw the slavery with Cavanaugh but not once did you let go of America… until the end.
And when you wavered, the championship was gone again.
And now… now you’ve won the championship for the third time. The same match, the same result, the same championship. And you held on to America even longer, through the July 4th battle in front of the Statue of Liberty. You held on to it through Dead or Alive. And the championship was still yours. But since then… against Jatt, against Harrison, against Stevens… you’ve wavered. And even in the lead up to your match now, against Clay Byrd, you’re wavering.
I don’t want to see you lose that championship again any more than you do.
You call yourself the second-best wrestling mind in HOW. You’ve got others believing it, too. So tell me, what does your wrestling mind say about this pattern? What does your wrestling mind think about giving up on what got you here?
Christopher looked at his father and began to let his guard down. The armor that he had worn had gotten so heavy and he was tired of carrying it. He looked down at the floor in front of him. His mind raced as he ran through as many conceivable notions and reasons as possible. And then the words trickled out. They were sharpened, cold, and meant to injure.
Christopher America: I wasted my childhood seeking approval from someone like you.
And do you know what’s worse? When I got here… when I got to HOW… your absence left a hole inside of me, a hole that I have been trying to fill for years. It’s easy to say that I should just fill that hole with “America,” but I don’t even know what that means. And to be frank, I don’t think you do either.
I love this country with my entire heart. It has given me things I never knew I wanted. It’s protected me and sheltered me in the worst of times. It’s risen me up in the best of times.
And I tried, desperately, to keep that hole you left filled with America. “…In America!.” “That’s Un-American!” I prayed to George Washington. I had dreams where I lived out times in Washington’s era and saw glimpses of a future America that never came to pass. I’ve flown to countries that would beg for the freedom we have, piss off the local inhabitants, and got the fuck out the moment they rejected Americanism. I’ve been a slave, thought I had a Russian brother at one point, and even became one of the richest Americans in HOW history. I have tried desperately to fill the hole inside of me with the ONLY thing I knew.
I sought America’s approval as a replacement for you.
But what I didn’t realize is that you instilled that in me. You were the one that pushed America so hard on me. I was stupidly trying to place the hole you left with you again, just you wrapped up in the flag. But it didn’t stop there either.
I replaced that hole with the boys in the back. I wanted their approval and admiration so badly I could taste it. I wanted to be accepted and… and respected. And you know what I found?
There was no acceptance. There was no respect. There was literally nothing. Just a bunch of wrestlers worried about their own careers and their own goals and aspirations.
I tried filling that hole inside of me with groups like the Argonauts, the Alliance, the Elite, and Ground Zero. And I found nothing. It wasn’t until my eyes were opened at Rumble at the Rock that I realized that I had to be the one to fill the hole inside of me. I had to repair the child you broke! I had to do it with respect for myself, respect for my country, and respect for that title on the wall out there.
I’ve given and given and given. I spent years of my life and years of my career GIVING to others and I’m sick of it!
This run… this time… I’ve done nothing but take. I’ve taken championships. I’ve taken victories. I’ve taken my actual career and I am steering it with my own two hands. And do you know what I find at the end of that?
In doing what I want… in setting my own goals… I’ve accomplished things I only dreamed of. And I don’t worry about you or the fans or my stablemates. I worry about me.
Just. Simply. Me.
And that hole, it’s still not filled. But it’s fuller than it was. Fuller than when you left it.
And no… America isn’t on the backburner. Because while you may have tried to instill a hardcore line of Americanism within me, I broke that shit down. While I wasted away inside of that solitary confinement cell, I re-examined everything. And one of the first things I did was re-examine my love and dedication to this country.
I had to look hard at myself. I questioned whether I loved her enough. Because maybe I hadn’t. Maybe my love wasn’t enough. Maybe something got disconnected and she turned her back on me. Maybe I wasn’t meant to have her love. It explained my predicament; it explained my poor performances of late; it explained the abysmal World Championship runs I’ve had. It explained it all.
And it was hard to try to work my way through that with your ghost crying out about how inadequate I was. Or that I needed to just suck it up, love her unquestioningly and move the fuck on. The same ghostly voice that caused me to run away after Rumble at the Rock, to miss ANOTHER ICONIC. God knows, I’ve missed countless opportunities to do one of the main things I set out to do, main event HOW’s biggest event as the World Champion. And now… NOW I have that opportunity and I’m not letting it go.
Christopher paused briefly as his eyes flashed a conviction and determination Benjamin had never seen in his son.
Christopher America: When I thought about her and spoke about her, my words were almost fanatical. It was almost as if America was a religion.
But it wasn’t.
Because there was no god at the end for me speak to. The presidents… the great Americans of history… were just men. Men who occupied the greatest seat of power in the world. But before that, most of them were ordinary citizens rising to the challenges that were put before them. And when they did that, when they conquered the British, or defeated the Nazis, or even warred against each other, by keeping this union from falling apart… that is when they achieved immortality.
That’s what I am.
I’m an ordinary citizen. And I am currently occupying the greatest seat of power as the HOW World Champion. And I am on my way to immortality. Rising above wrestling greats past and present. Single handedly, one by one, working to destroy one of the most bullshit, narcissistic, needy factions HOW has ever seen. A group of men whom I have made. Men who were booed out of buildings, hated amongst fans… until I came along. And I am THISCLOSE to doing it and if I fail here… if I fail at ICONIC… then what’s it all been for?
The World Champion looked down, seemingly surprised by his own words. Benjamin America started to move, to attempt to reach out to his son, but caught himself and returned to his place.
Benjamin America: You won’t fail, son. Not if you keep the focus.
Christopher’s head quickly jerked into the direction of his father, sorrowful.
Christopher America: That’s all I’ve wanted to do for this past month but you’ve taken that from me. Again. I wish this run was about pushing forward but I seemingly can’t escape my past. Every step forward this year has been about rectifying the past, about CLEANSING the past.
I want desperately to move forward, but every single thing outside of HOW keeps trying to pull me back to a place I want to move on from.
You want to help me? You want to help me beat Clay Byrd? You want me to focus on the match? You want me to focus on the present and look to the future?
The World Champion paused and let the moment breathe.
Christopher America: Then leave.
And never return.
Christopher America grabbed his empty container, got up, and walked out of the room.
I keep telling people that the relationship between the World Championship and me is one of love, of respect, and of building each other up. By helping her become the single most important championship in HOW, I, in turn, as her holder, become the most important wrestler in HOW. At ICONIC, I allow that legacy of hers to grow as I surpass 180 days as HOW World Champion.
And I know that you don’t have that kind of relationship with her because you’ve never had a relationship with the World Championship. And all your past relationships with championships, they were like one night stands. You fucked with them for a cup of coffee, because that’s about as long as you can last, and then you got rid of them. And do you know why that is?
Quite simply, it’s because you’re awful. Everything you touch becomes awful. Everyone you associate with is awful. You’re so awful as a human being, that I’m sure the conservatives of your dumb state want you as their governor.
You’re so awful people don’t even remember your reigns. They don’t remember your opponents, or wars, or the memories you try to make. You’re a fucking cog in the MACHINE! Replaceable and interchangeable.
You’re so awful that you’d think with how many chances you’ve had at the World Championship that the laws of the fucking universe themselves, like the law of chance or the law of probability, would’ve rewarded you by now. I mean, it did for Scottywood, Scott Stevens, Brian Hollywood, and even Adonis Smythe. But no, even the fucking universe looks at you and is like, “Nah, I don’t buy him as World Championship material.”
Of all the wrestlers to come from and live in Texas, it’s a crying shame that it was the Von Erichs that got the curse and not your family.
You’re so awful that you think having this match means you’ve been made. But you forget that chasing the title? It’s easy. Winning her? Slightly more difficult. Defending her? Even harder. Defending her as long as I have… against the caliber of opponents I have… in the matches I’ve had? Impossible for all, except me. You’ve done that easy work, Clay. You’ve done it loads of times before, too. Hell, you probably tell yourself that if Solex and Harrison could do it, surely you could too, just to big yourself up because even you hate your own group.
Well, now comes the slightly harder work. The work you seem to fail at time after time after time. The work that’s proven too difficult for the Highwaymen.
Now, you face me.
You complained about a screwjob. You complained about how a championship match that was supposed to be just for you was changed at the last minute. You whined in the ring about Lee Best screwing you over and demanded to know how you were going to be screwed over again for this ICONIC.
Well, where the fuck were you when the same thing was happening to your boy Solex? Where were you to complain that it was unfair that Steve Solex was being cheated out of his one-on-one match for the LSD Championship?
The answer, Clay, is you were nowhere to be found. Because Clay Byrd only opens his mouth… Clay Byrd only gets on the mic… Clay Byrd only complains… when it’s unfair to HIM. Fuck the Board. Fuck Lee Best. Fuck The Highwaymen. Fuck the fans. Fuck everyone. If it doesn’t benefit Clay Byrd, everyone else be damned.
You wanted to know when the screwjob was coming?
Well, here’s the screwjob. Here’s the part you weren’t ready for.
I’m the one. I’m the screwjob. I’m the final fucking boss.
I’m what you’re not ready for.
While I’ve been ACTAULLY training, you decided it was cool to bash an engine block. While I’ve been training against real people that actually hit back, you’ve been training against inanimate objects that you have people gimmick ahead of time so they can break on camera for you. Good for you. I’m sure you were real proud of your pre-tape segment. I can almost hear your only two brain cells chest bumping each other from here.
I bet you thought it was cool, too. Ripping your shirt off, body so jacked, veins popping out everywhere, looking like you went to a plastic surgeon and asked him to make you look like a giant nutsack all over.
Here’s the problem though.
I don’t sit back and take shit like an engine block.
I’m the one that is going to beat you into the fucking canvas. I’m going to pound your body so hard into the mat, that the wooden boards underneath are going to bend and buckle and break. I’m going to pull out everything I have in my arsenal, YOUR arsenal, and the arsenal of EVERY OTHER WRESTLER that I’ve ever faced. People you know and people you’ve only read about. I’m going to put you down once and for all. I’m going to take your Arthur Morgan looking ass and beat it CLEANLY in the center of the ring. I will drink from the tears you cry as you squander another championship opportunity in front of thousands of screaming fans. I will clean myself in the blood I draw from your body. I will breathe in the last gasp of air you have in your lungs and give myself new life.
Because it’s not enough right now for me to beat you. I need a piece of you. A token. A memorable part of you. Your blood. Your hair. Your clothing. I need something. Something that when this match is over, I’ll look fondly at the memorabilia and recall the day that I absolutely beat your ass from post to post, ramp to ring, from Section 214 to the announcer’s table.
And if you want to beat me… you’re going to have to kill me.
It’s easy too, right? If Conor could do it, surely Clay Byrd could…. oh wait. No, you can’t do what Conor can. You always fall short.
Well, if I’m alive and left breathing, then it’s not over and you haven’t gotten the job done.
At ICONIC, I’m not going to give you my best. While the rest of you is awful, your wrestling isn’t. So I’m not giving you my best because my best isn’t going to cut it. Not against you. It’s not enough for me to prove my point, to further make my name off of yours. You’re going to get more than my best. You’re going to get everything that I have AND THEN SOME! And you’ll need more than you currently have to beat me.
None of them truly got it. Not Bergman, not your War Games team, not Solex, not Jatt Starr, not Harrison, and not Stevens.
I’m not fucking around.
I’m not in this to simply win a championship or retain a championship. I’m here to HOLD this championship. FOREVER. I’m here to keep making this championship the single most important championship in professional wrestling. Right now, I’m only halfway to my goal of being THE LONGEST REIGNING HOW WORLD CHAMPION IN HISTORY! To say nothing of how this championship is viewed in other companies.
By the time ICONIC comes around, I will have surpassed Conor Fuse, John Sektor, and Aceldama for the longest single reign, leaving only Jace Parker Davidson, Cecilworth Farthington, and Mike Best. And to get past Jace… to beat his reign… I have to beat you.
And to do that, I will unleash the full might and fury of the entire United States upon you. I will rain down on you pain and suffering like you have never felt. I will beat you until your body is nothing but a lifeless husk. And then, around New Year’s Eve, I will parade your corpse through the streets of Chicago. I will watch as the last gasp of hope escapes the lips of every man, woman, and child as I ride into the new year, not just victorious, but STILL the HOW World Champion. And your very soul… your Un-American, Texas beef clogged soul… will burn in the fires of hell. The wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes from your defeated spirit will serve as the victory song that rings out in the halls of my home. Then, AND ONLY THEN, will I dump your body in the back alley behind the Best Arena to be eaten and defiled by stray animals.
Oh sure, people will try to raise your ghost. They’ll try to recall what you did. They’ll struggle to remember anything of consequence that you’ve actually done, but they’ll fail like all the others have. In fact, if you listen closely… you can almost hear how they’ll describe you now.
“Well, Clay Byrd looked like the words horsefucker and homeless had a kid.”
“I thought he looked as if Yukon Cornelius was blond, fell on hard times, and still licked some ‘tools’ to make ends meet.”
“I like to think the number of guns he owned was the same as the number of women he abused because he couldn’t get his dick hard around them.”
“To me, he looked like someone who practiced writing on a grain of rice as a precursor for signing his dick pics to Blaire Moise.”
But really, I want them all to remember that you’ve had 40 years on this Earth to make your life and career mean something and that throughout those 40 years, not once did you think of NOT being a worthless piece of shit and actually turning around your career in HOW.
What’s that, Clay?
Oh, let me guess, you’ll look into a camera with renewed determination and decide that now is the time.
At the end of ICOINC, I’ll be standing over your lifeless body, championship held high in the air, and glorious red, white, and blue confetti raining down on me as my music plays throughout the arena.
And when the fireworks have all been set off, the crowd has left the arena, and the lights begin to shut off, you’ll still be there… in the middle of the ring… left with absolutely nothing.
THAT… that will be the lasting memory of Clay Byrd in HOW.
A fitting end for the sad, grizzled cowboy… who wanted one last ride… who wanted just one more shot at the World Championship… and realized he was never meant to have it.