Ghosts of the Past Chapter 2

Ghosts of the Past Chapter 2

Posted on May 24, 2023 at 9:08 am by Darin Zion

“In the world of professional wrestling, competitors face an abundance of daunting challenges and obstacles on their journey toward achieving greatness. Reflecting on the past four years of my career in HOW, I can only describe it as an incessant cycle of encountering a symbolic brick wall. This recurring experience has become one of the most exasperating trials I have endured throughout my entire professional life, exacting an overwhelming toll on me both emotionally and physically. It is a twisted and tortuous dance that inflicts bone-crushing heartbreaks. I invest every ounce of my heart, soul, blood, and tears into the relentless pursuit of victory, consistently pushing myself to the limits and refining my skills, yet always falling short.

With every collision against that unwavering, relentless metaphorical wall, it sneers and torments me, embodying the very essence of my life’s greatest curse.

That relentless, unyielding, metaphorical wall mocks me every time I collide with its rigid exterior and has become the bane of my existence. It’s time I express something that has been weighing heavily on my chest. I refuse to deceive myself any longer.  I have been trapped in first gear, relentlessly attempting to overcome the invisible barrier that hinders my journey towards greatness.

Finding solace in my metaphorical adversary has become all too effortless—it’s the sole enduring form of companionship I’ve known since the loss of my closest friends and stablemates in Sex and Money. Other wrestlers have come and gone from my life like a revolving door. Yet, this symbolic brick wall remains steadfast, granting me some glimmer of hope. It constantly reminds me of the hurdles that lie ahead, echoing the doubts that linger in the depths of my mind. It whispers in my ear, probing my worth, testing my determination—much like everything I’ve ever cherished.

Like a cunning and manipulative lover, it ensnares me, infecting my thoughts with poison. It gaslights me, compelling me to accept my stagnant status quo. It holds me tightly, causing my resolve to wither. Relentlessly, it begs me to return for more torment, a constant reminder of my embittered failures in wrestling.  In its insidious persuasion, it compels me to bury the depths of my past life, erasing the very essence of who I once was. The burden of its demands bears down on me, suffocating my potential and preventing me from embracing my true identity.

Today marks a pivotal moment when I cast aside all excuses and once again seize control of my wrestling career.  It’s time I stop running from the ghosts of my past.

Getting defeated by Jace Parker Davidson in my quest for the HOW LSD Championship left some gnarly battle scars.  After getting a brutal concussion, the damage unearthed a reservoir of haunting childhood memories. Each time I entered the squared circle facing HOW Hall of Famers Nettie Carey and Aceldama, my head endured ceaseless punishment.  It worsened my condition, amplifying my anxiety.  It reduced me to a shattered semblance of my former, LOVING self.  

Vivid recollection of my abusive father’s brutal acts kept creeping to the forefront of my thoughts.  I can still see the vivid images of the bloody welts inflicted upon my innocent body.  Goosebumps crawl upon my skin when I look and the chilled and terrified look in my young eyes.  The echoes of his degrading words, branding me as worthless, still relentlessly plague my mind.

At this crossroads, I face a critical decision: surrender to my downward spiral of stagnation or courageously confront my inner demons and wholeheartedly embrace the profound purpose that underlies my commitment to embodying REAL LOVE® in HOW.  

As my peers succumb to the depth of their own self-pity within the unforgiving arena of the War Games match, I defy their outcries for attention, embracing my unwavering passion.  With my trademark relentless spirit, I will confront my demos and embrace the blazing fire of my passion for professional wrestling within the sacred realm of HOW.

The moment has arrived to wholeheartedly embrace the REAL LOVE® that permeates every word I speak.

I forged my moniker with a resolute conviction, desiring to spearhead transformative change through HOW driven solely on my resolve for LOVE.  HOW is an arena consumed by an entrenched, toxic “good ole boys” club, where a pervasive culture of brooding, edgy bullshit constantly prevails.  We keep getting lost in a cycle where getting lost in controversial content, losing our foresight for the passion of this business.

Surveying the contenders REAL LOVE® must conquer, it vividly reveals the abysmal depths to which HOW has descended. 

Our cherished #97RED is shamefully draped over the shoulder of a nationalistic, self-centered icon who has succumbed to objectophilia.  This is emblematic of our brand! Once more, we bear witness to two alcohol-afflicted failures seeking their 1000th chance at redemption. A disillusioned legend forsakes principles in pursuit of wealth and notoriety. The colossal steroid-fueled figure is idolized by an egotistical, sex-addicted owner.  GOD could be potentially spawning countless more malevolent beings. Moreover, it appears that the owner’s son embraces a prejudiced luchador persona, demeaning Mexican culture and propagating the belief that the Hombero Blancos are superior.

These misfits barely scratch the surface of the deep-seated issues that plague HOW. Now, let’s immerse ourselves in the realm of our heroic ensemble. First, we encounter a woeful cowboy, reminiscent of a bygone era in wrestling history. He embodies the rugged, hardened fighter archetype, but despite his toughness, he emerges as the perennial loser in 99% of his pivotal matches. Next, we have the adored darling from the independent scene in the Midwest, renowned for his chronic flakiness and evasive nature when it comes to commitments. Always sidestepping his problems and indulging in frequent sabbaticals. Always putting other life priorities over the MACHINE.   Lastly, we encounter the treasured video game enthusiast, a plucky and endearing warrior who effortlessly captures the hearts of everyone in the roster and among the spectators.

For a span of three years, this individual has served as the stalwart leader of our valiant ensemble. With numerous HOW World Championships under his belt, a multitude of main events on pay-per-view, and a remarkable track record of enduring until the climactic finale of War Games on two occasions, he has undoubtedly solidified his claim as a future first-round inductee into the prestigious HOW Hall of Fame. Once, I regarded him as my closest confidant, as he took me under his wing, striving to shape me into a better version of myself. I strived to mold my career after his remarkable feats.

Nevertheless, he isn’t the change HOW desperately needs.  Time and time again he’s left the HOW fans heartbroken.  Every time he failed to stop the Alliance, he left our fans disillusioned with his empty promises.  Every now and then, a protagonist must defy the odds and vanquish the villains.  Despite repeated failures, HOW predictably selects him to bear the mantle of heroism.

Our appointed hero steps onto the majestic battlefield with the demeanor of a disenchanted complainer. The notion of rescuing this company holds no importance to him, as it has lost its supposed sense of “fun” in his own words. His apathy echoes the true weight of the quest to “save his princess.”–the fans of HOW.

This year’s War Games marks the moment when I embrace my role as HOW’s heroic savior. For almost a decade, I have engaged in battle against the Best Alliance, enduring their attempts to crush my spirit. Yet, I persist, fighting with unwavering passion. Despite the metaphorical wall blocking my path, I refuse to surrender. Instead, it ignites a fiery love for HOW, burning bright within my chest. My unwavering passion defies all reason, strengthening my resolve with each setback. It taps into an endless reservoir of courage and resilience, propelling my unwavering pursuit of triumph.

For REAL LOVE®, vanquishing his inner demons is paramount.   I will rise to claim the throne, fulfilling my destiny in winning War Games. I have dedicated nearly a decade to passionately pursuing this dream, enduring countless battles, shedding blood and sweat along the way, all in pursuit of this coveted goal.

I’ve grown weary from restraining myself from greatness.  I’ve hidden too long in the pits of despair.  It’s time for REAL LOVE to punch his ticket to glory.  Today I address what keeps holding me back and find the LOVE I need to become HOW’s greatest hero.”


Inside the PRETTY PINK EXPRESS®, a small navy blue suede journal rests open on a vibrant pink table.  Darin Zion extends his hand to close his journal, carefully tucking his silver pen into his jean pocket.  Dressed in a striking red polo with his hair slicked back, REAL LOVE exudes an aura of purpose. Today marks the day of his long-awaited encounter with his estranged mother.

As the bus approaches his destination, a sense of unease washes of Zion.  The sun is playing a game of hide and seek with the clouds, casting intermittent shadows that mirrors all the conflicting emotions swirling in his head.  Each passing moment, his heart pounds harder against his rib cage, threatening to burst free of its confines.  The bus halts in front of a modest, dilapidated, isolated house.  

Its weathered façade shows the scars of time.  Its paint, faded and peeling, reveals severe neglect.  The windows wear a film of dirt and grime, obscuring its view to the outside world.  The roof sags under the weight of time.  The shingles dangle off its gutters.  Despite its isolation, it carries a silent air of stoicism, a testament to the stories and secrets it holds within its walls.

REAL LOVE® closes his eyes, inhaling deeply to gather every ounce of courage within him. As his breath fills his lungs, a tightness grips his chest, constricting with each passing moment. A chilling sensation snakes its way down his spine, causing the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end. The amalgamation of past burdens and his unknown future converge, casting a heavy shroud of anticipation over him. In this moment, time stands still, as Zion braves the threshold of uncertainty, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead.

With each deliberate step, Zion’s feet cautiously descend the stairs of the bus, delaying the inevitable confrontation awaiting him.  As his feet make contact with solid ground, a profound sensation overtakes him.  A haunting flashback grips his senses, momentarily transporting him back to another painful memory.  Seeking solace, he reaches into his back pocket, retrieving a small pill to ease the mounting anxiety.  Lost in deep thought, Zion’s cohorts approach to interrupt his introspection.  The LOVE CONVOY’S® presence reminds him he’s not alone during this challenging journey.

Jonathan-Christopher Hall:  You sure you’re ready to go through with this, Dare Bear?  I sense some hesitation.

Darin Zion:  I’m sure I’m ready…

Vickie Hall:  COME ON, GET ON WITH IT ALREADY!!!  You’ve got our unwavering support, hun.  You always know REAL LOVE’S bravery conquers all, sweetie.  TEE HEE!

Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy:  Bro, know I’m proud you’ve come this far.  You’re a few steps away from facin’ your fears.  You got one big nuzzle from us when you get back.

Darin Zion:  Thanks guys, I LOOOOOOVE YOU all dearly.  Appreciate your vote of confidence.

Zion embraces his friends tightly, a mix of gratitude and doubt filling his eyes.  He embarks on his harrowing journey.  With each step towards his mother’s door, memories of his father’s torment flash through his mind, triggering his anger.  The intensity of his footsteps quicken, fueled with tenacity to finally bring an end to his prolonged suffering.Darin’s trembling hand grasped the doorknob. The air was heavy with anticipation, as if the atmosphere itself held its breath, waiting to witness this long-awaited reunion.


The pungent odor of mold fills the air, assaulting Zion’s senses as he navigates through his mother’s tattered house.  Each step he takes on the worn and separated floorboards sends an echoing creak reverberating down the void hallways, adding to the eerie atmosphere. As Zion cautiously inches closer down the dimly lit corridors, his ears catch a faint yet unmistakable beeping sound. A sudden alertness washes over him serving as a reminder to approach cautiously.

Under bated breath Zion turns the corner, his gaze fixates on three rooms before him.  One of them stands out, its door ominously absent.  A chill runs down his spine while he strains to discern the source of a faint whisper.  The hair on the back of his neck prickles.  The room beckons to him, tempting him to uncover the secrets it holds.

In a sudden twist, a nurse appears out of the mysterious room.  Her presence gives unsettling vibes.  Her eyes widen with relief as they lock onto Zion’s.   As she senses his familiarity, a sigh of relief escapes her lips.  She approaches Zion with measured steps, leaning over to whisper in his ear.  Her muffled voice whispers a cryptic message, piquing Zion’s interests.

Nurse:  Joyce doesn’t have much time left…she’ll be ecstatic to see you!

The nurse quickly guides Zion towards his mother’s room.  As they approach the room, a solemn aura envelops the space.  Darin peers around the corner, his eyes falling upon his mother for the first time in 18 years.  Her frail and vulnerable frame is tethered to life-sustaining machines in the confines of her home Hospice care.  The sight of her aged form conflicts with Zion’s memories of her once vibrant self.  She’s reduced to a mere skeleton, adorned with deep wrinkles and ravaged by lesions.

Zion’s jaw drops in awe as he rushes forward, driven by an overwhelming surge of emotions.  He wraps his arms tightly around the woman who gave him life.  Their embrace feeling like it defies the passage of time and hardships that drifted them apart.  Tears well up in his eyes, mingling a plethora of sadness, joy, and longing.  In their tender embrace, the weight of their shared history fades away, creating a moment of profound healing.

Joyce Matthews:  OH MY BABY!  You’ve come back to me!

Zion’s shaking hand reaches up to wipe away tears streaming down his cheeks.  His eyes glisten, revealing the depths of his vulnerability.  He embraces the rawness of the moment, acknowledging his intense emotions and the significance of this long awaited encounter.  Zion’s voice catches his throat as he struggles to find the words to express.

Darin Zion:  I-I-I’m here for you mom.  I-I-It’s been so long!

Joyce Matthews:  I can’t express how sorry I am for failing to protected you from the torture inflicted by your abusive father…he’s the reason I lost you for so long.  The guilt has weighed on me all these years…

Darin Zion:  Let’s leave it in the past, mom.  Trust me, I’ve spent all these years replaying the trauma over and over again.

Joyce’s fragile heart aches, her eyes acknowledging her failures.  She reflects on her inability to shield her baby from the pain that life has dealt. She laments her shortcomings, knowing that her words alone cannot rewind time.  She understands she cannot provide the solace her child truly needs.

Her words clips through her quivering lips, devoid of any semblance of control. She delves into excruciating detail about every event after Zion’s departure.  Her words are laden with heavily unresolved emotions.

Joyce Matthews:  Following your departure to wrestling school in California, your father relentlessly pursued you, driven by his anger and desperation.

Joyce instantly captures Zion’s attention with this story.  He listens intently, absorbing every word of his mother’s story.

Joyce Matthews:  Months after your father left, I lost all contact with him.  Finally free from the years of abuse, I escaped to Texas.  The last news I heard about your father, he surfaced somewhere in Mexico City. Ironically he made his debut as a wrestling commentator for a renowned Mexican promotion.  I held onto a glimmer of hope you two would find a way to reconnect.  Alas, time had other plans.  The passage of time only deepened the chasm in our broken family…

Zion stands frozen, disbelief etched on his face.  His mother’s words send shockwaves through his brain.  The revelation tears through his body, igniting a surge of frustration that rocks his core.  He’s traversed emotional tribulations along this journey.  Now, he faces one final, elusive hurdle.  This cruel twist of fate mocks his earnest efforts to lay his ghosts to rest.

Amidst the frustration, Zion’s determination fuels him to forge ahead.  He’s undeterred by the challenges lying ahead.

Instead of letting his emotions explode, Zion’s demeanor softens as he leans down towards his mother. He leans down, gently pressing his lips against his mother’s forehead.  In that tender moment, a mix of emotions swirl within his heart–love, forgiveness, and peace.

Darin Zion:  Truly, the story you’ve shared is an extraordinary gift, mom.  It helps mend our broken bridge.  I’ve suffered greatly at the hands of my father, but now I can find closure.

Zion begins to head out of his mother’s room. His hand lingers on the door frame, caught between the desire to leave and the pull of his mother’s voice.  Joyce’s words, fragile and tinged with sadness, hang in the air like a delicate melody.  Her fragile pleas of desperation tug on REAL LOVE’s heartstrings.

Joyce Matthews:  Don’t depart so quickly, my baby boy.   My time on this earth is slipping away.  I’ve only got a few days left.

Darin Zion:  I’m not going anywhere right now.  I plan on crashing in your guest room for a couple of days, training on my down time.  Right now, I just need to get some rest and take time to process this news.  It’s nothing personal.  Anyways thank you and as always, I love you, mom!


El Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México buzzes with a vibrant energy as travelers from all corners of the world converge within its bustling terminals. The air is alive with a symphony of diverse languages, echoing through the spacious halls. Streams of passengers scurry around the terminals, wheeling their luggage, their footsteps creating a harmonious rhythm upon the polished floors. The constant hum of announcements, the intermittent beeping of security scanners, and the distant roar of airplanes create a dynamic backdrop that encapsulates the vibrant spirit of our entrance point for the home of War Games.

Darin Zion emerges from the terminal, ready for business.  His grip firm around a compact carry-on bag that houses his wrestling gear and a few days’ worth of normal attire.  Despite his usual curiosity that sparks in his eyes when exploring a new city; today a single mission propels him forward amidst the whirlwind of activity.

Zion extracts his phone from his back pocket.  He swiftly dials a number deeply ingrained in his memory, begrudgingly ready to connect to a long-time friend.  The ringing tones heightens his apprehension.  As a dial tone ends, the voice on the other end greets him.


Zion takes in a deep breath before audibly releasing a sigh filled with resentment.

Darin Zion:  You were right; I do need you to help.

The silence stretches on for what feels like an eternity.  Zion wearily settles onto a nearby bench, crossing his arms tightly against his chest.  The voice on the other end grows clearer, unmistakably belonging to his long time best friend and arch rival:  Brian Hollywood.

Brian Hollywood:  See!  What’d I tell you?  All roads to your victory lead through…

Darin Zion:  Shut up!  I don’t have time for another Goddamned lecture, Brian. EVERY. MOMENT.  COUNT.   Gotta ask you a favorite, even though I hate to do it.  I need your “contacts” to pull up some information regarding….

Darin hesitates to finish his sentence, grappling with the name.  It sends a chilling sensation down his spine.

Darin Zion:  Victor Matthews.

The sound of Hollywood scratching his chin grows audible, indicating his contemplation.  He’s looking for ways to manipulate his best friend.

Brian Hollywood:  Fancy that, my friend.   I need something from you.  You need something from–

Darin Zion:  Shut up!  You don’t hold the power in our relationship anymore.  I’m not looking to play games.  If you’re not willing to help me, you damn well know I’ll reach out to my other contacts in the underworld here.

Brian Hollywood:  Fair point!  I guess I could do this one solid for all you’ve done for me over the years….

Zion maintains his silence, summoning all the courage to utter words he never thought he’d utter to Brian Hollywood, even in a million years.

Darin Zion:  …I want to apologize for my actions in the first 2015 War Games match.  I’ve hidden under the guise of pursuing our collective glory.  But honestly, I was driven by a momentary lapse of jealousy.  I shouldn’t have hurt you like that.

Brian Hollywood notices the audible shift in Zion’s tone, surprised by his sudden willingness to surrender any ounce of pride.

Brian Hollywood:  You never apologize.  It’s that bad, isn’t it?

Darin Zion:  I’ll fill you in on all the excruciating details later.  I may need your help…

Brian Hollywood:  Sure, man.  I’m up for reuniting for the adventure.

Both men share a chuckle over their past and where they stand today.  Zion’s stiff shoulders relax, letting his arms drape at his sides.  A wide grin spreads across Zion’s face as he reminisces about the countless strange adventures they’ve shared.  In a sudden moment of curiosity, a question arises in Zion’s mind.

Darin Zion:  So, did you mean it when you told me I’m the best hope at ending the Final Alliance.

Brian Hollywood’s tone raises, attempting to divert the topic of their conversation.

Brian Hollywood:  Well, we both know I’ve beaten many Best Alliance members over the years.  Hell, I’ve taken down many members of this new Final Alliance.  I could do this shit in my sleep.  But since you’ve gotten a guaranteed spot in the match and a new lease on life…

Darin Zion:  Yeah, yeah!  Always trying to assert your dominance.  Nice try!   You don’t have to cover your shitty word choice with me, old friend.  Deep down, I figured you meant every word.

Both men delve deeper into conversation, catching up about the past and sharing updates on their lives.  As Zion rises from the airport bench, his eyes glow with vitriol, signaling his readiness to comfort the final ghost of his past.