Ghosts of the Past:  Chapter 3

Ghosts of the Past: Chapter 3

Posted on May 24, 2023 at 11:54 pm by Darin Zion

In the heart of Mexico City, Fifty Mils Bar reverberates with an energetic beat of the city’s nightlife.  Dim lights bathe the plush leather seats creating a warm, inviting vibe.  The lighting highlights the accentuating copper accents adorning the bar walls.

Bartenders encircle the exquisite centerpiece of Fifty Mils, an artfully designed black and white marble counter. With absolute focus, they craft libations with remarkable skill and precision.

The bar hums with anticipation as the evening crowd gathers, drawn by the bar’s celebrated craft of mixology.  A diverse group of locals and tourists congregate, their animated conversations harmonizing with the enchanting melodies of a live mariachi serenading in the background.

Enter Maria, a charismatic, poised woman in her late twenties.  Her striking features make her stand out from all the other servers.  Her striking features of her distinct curves and zestful, sparkling eyes capture the admiration from all around.  This distinct allure gives her a significant advantage as the lead server.  Her black, lustrous hair sways in the air as she confidently navigates the busy floor.

Gracefully gliding past the dancing patrons, Maria directs her steps towards a secluded back corner of the bar. She confidently approaches the table occupied by a pair of renowned wrestlers, their presence unmistakable.

Brian Hollywood, clad in a flawless gray Ermenegildo two-piece suit, emanates an air of unparalleled sophistication. His commanding presence is accentuated by a vibrant gold tie, setting him apart from the sea of ordinary faces. Crowned by a sleek black fedora, he exhales a swirling cloud of smoke that pirouettes in the air with grace.

Accompanying Hollywood, Darn Zion reclines nonchalantly in his plush chair, donned in a beige Gucci suit.  His shiny brown shoes rest with relaxed grandeur on the solid oak table. Clutching only the finest cigar between his fingers, he gazes upon the wisps of smoke, waltzing toward the lofty rafters.  A smug expression adorns his face, his eyes fixed intently on Maria. With a knowing nod and a self-assured grin, he awaits her arrival.

Maria:  Good evening, gentlemen.  What can I get started for you?

Brian Hollywood:  I’ll take a Martini, shaken not stirred…

Darin Zion, unimpressed by Hollywood’s theatrics, rolls his eyes in exasperation.

Darin Zion:  I’ll try the Paloma, please. Sans the tequila of course!

Maria jots notes down about their orders, her pen capturing every detail.  She smiles before parting ways with the duo.  As she turns away, Hollywood’s gaze shamelessly fixates on her ass.  His eye brows playfully raise up and down, exuding his unabashed desires. The air lingers with an unspoken longing and clandestine possibilities.

Brian Hollywood:  GODDAMN IT!  She’s got a nice ass.  I think I could take her back to the hotel with…

REAL LOVE® seizes his opportunity to interject, mischief gleaming in his eyes.  He aims to embarrass his best friend.  Equipped with his sly grin, he unleashes a well timed quip.  His intent is simple:  leave Hollywood crimson-faced amidst the scrutinizing crowd.

Darin Zion:  The thirst is STRONG with this one…

Brian Hollywood:  Seriously?  You needed to air out my dirty laundry in public?

Darin Zion:  Focus on our task at hand.  Who are we looking for here?

The two best friends begin to discuss urgent matters.  Hollywood extracts a weathered manila envelope from beneath his sleek suit coat.  Within its worn confines lies a photograph, a testament to a bygone era.  Zion’s eyes widen when he sees a striking shot of an old, rugged Hispanic man.

The man’s silver hair cascades like moonlit strings, framing a face etched with profound wisdom.  Deep wrinkles and lines etch his formidable aura.  Covered in a tattered black leather jacket clinging to his broad shoulders, it creates his fearsome appearance.  His gray mustache coils beneath his huge nose, weathered and worn.  His presence emanates a threatening shadow, commanding respect like a lion in the vast wilderness.

Brian Hollywood:  Meet Rolando Vega, a notorious Mexican Drug lord.  My sources have uncovered his deep involvement with supplying your father with narcotics on multiple occasions. He’s frequently spotted with your father backstage in a modest Lucha Libre promotion.  They talk about “business” if you catch my drift…

Darin Zion:  I endured his substance abuse directly; no need to elaborate.  The emotional scars serve as my constant reminder.

Zion quickly seizes the photo resting on the table.  His eyes etch the image into the depths of his memory.  Fueled by a resolute purpose, Hollywood rises from his seat and strides towards Darin.  His outstretched arms wrap tightly around his best friend, his embrace fueled with triumph.  A grin graces the Executive’s face, radiating his satisfaction on tonight’s festivities.

Brian Hollywood:  I’m so happy we’ve gotten our band back together.   Think of the Hall of Fame legacy we could achieve together, reuniting and stepping up to the plate for the HOTv Tag Team Championships.  We would etch our names into the hallowed HOW Hall of Fame.

In one swift motion, Zion dismissively casts aside Hollywood’s outstretched arm.  Frustration ignites his eyes, his fierce glare piercing right through Brian’s soul.  He clenches his teeth down, his face contorting into a pained grimace.  The mere thought of returning to the Tag Division churns his stomach, haunting him to the core.

Darin Zion:  Let’s take this one step at a time, brother.  No need to get ahead of yourself.  If your War Games performance stands out; I’ll consider it.  Right now, we’re only a temporary alliance.

45 Minutes Later…

Intoxication grips both Hollywood and Zion.  They’ve surpassed their limits, downing one shoft after another.  The room transforms into a mesmerizing whirlwind of colors.  A frenzied blur of colors encircles them.   REO Speedwagon blares over Hollywood’s phone speakers, the soundtrack to their alcohol-fueled escapade.  Oblivious to the disapproving gazes of the patrons, both men embrace their drunken revelry.  They both sing off key with wild abandonment.  Memories of their fractured childhoods resurface, reigniting their long-lost connection.  Both men stammer over their words.

Brian Hollywood:  MY GAWD!  I can’t believe I went 3 years without talking to you.

Darin Zion:  Right?   We’ve changed so much.  It’s like we’ve stopped focusing on all the HOW political bullshit.    We’re cut hanging out like a couple bros…

Maria strides up towards the drunken duo, her hands cradling two oversized glasses of water.  Both men ignore her kind gesture, lost in their own world.  Her tone turns snappy, a reflection of her simmering anger.  Placing the glasses on the table with a forceful thud, she props her arms on her hips.  Maria scowls at the pair, frustrated by their lack of awareness. She taps her toes in an effort to seize their attention, but it’s to no avail.  Maria clears her throat, preparing to chastise them.

Maria:  HERE!  TAKE THESE!  Sober up before I throw both your asses out the door.  This isn’t a fuckin’ karaoke bar.

Hollywood and Zion persist with their conversation.  Unable to contain her anger any longer, Maria storms off in a seething rage.

1 Hour Later…

Both men have devoured a huge amount of nachos, leaving empty plates in their wake.  Their water glasses were completely drained.  As their lingering effects of drunkenness wane, the world comes back into focus.  Their faces bear the unmistakable signs of boredom, their gazes drifting off into space.  Despite the passage of two long hours, still no breakthrough regarding Rolando’s whereabouts. 

Darin buries his face into his iPhone, engrossed in a game of Solitaire, desperately seeking solace from the slow passage of time.  Hollywood rests his head in his hands, eyes darting around the room in search of something, ANYTHING.

Suddenly, Hollywood’s eyes snap to attention as if struck by lighting.  His boredom dissipates, replaced now with a sense of unease.  He wipes the way the haze from his eyes, fixating on a sight haunting his core.  His finger swipe unlocks his phone while his eyes remain transfixed on the man before him.  This figure strides towards tonight’s intended target.  Hollywood’s desire to support Zion intertwines with an unyielding resolve driven by a profound purpose.  His focus sharpens as he becomes acutely aware of a chilling revelation:  Rolando engaging in a conversation with his sister’s killer.

Brian Hollywood:  Roberto?  Is that….no fuckin’ way…

Darin Zion jerks his head in that direction, his eyes widen in astonishment at the sight of Rolando.  Zion retrieves the picture, double-checking the details to ensure that what he sees aligns with his expectations. He poses a half-hearted question to Hollywood.

Darin Zion:  You’re certain that’s him?  We’ve been under the influence for a good portion of the night.  I’m sure it’s not him.

Brian Hollywood:  I’m positive, my sixth sense is tingling right now Darin…

Hollywood springs into action, ready to approach the man.  Unfortunately Zion yanks his suit coat before he can take another step.  

Darin Zion:  Stand down, right now.  Let me go over there and work my charm.

Zion rises from his chair, mustering the courage to approach Rolando.  With each step, a heavy lump settles in his chest, constricting his breathing and weighing him down.  Chills surge up and down his spine, triggering memories of his greatest past trauma.  The overwhelming fear tightens its grips over him, pulling him deeper into his darkest hour–the moment where his father shatters his arm.

A sharp pang shoots through Zion’s arm, an echo of that agonizing snap still reverberates within him.  The memory plays out in his mind’s eyes, each torturous moment etched into his consciousness.  Yet fueled by his newfound resilience, Zion refuses to let the pain define him.  Instead of reaching for the numbing relief in his own self-destruction, he resolves to fight through the pain.

Closing his eyes, Zion summons a vivid image of his LOVE CONVOY® comrades, embracing him tightly in a warm, healing hug. Their love and support radiate through his body, strengthening his determination. He turns his gaze to Hollywood, a steadfast presence by his side throughout their shared history. In that moment, he finds comfort in the unwavering support of his best friend, drawing strength from their bond. Together, he embarks on this journey, ready to confront his past.

Zion strides towards Rolando’s table, a spark flickers in his eyes.  With a soundful thud, he commandingly slams his arm on the table, positioning it squarely in front of the imposing drug lord.  This abrupt, assertive gesture catches Rolando off guard, momentarily causing him to stumble in surprise.

Darin Zion:  The name’s Zion….Darin Zion in case you’re wondering.  It’s nice to meet a powerful businessman like yourself.  I hear you have quite the growing enterprise. A wrestler like myself respects someone with your…authority.

The scowl on Rolando’s face vanishes, his posture goes under a subtle transformation. He raises an authoritative hand, signaling for his men to withdraw.  The rigid lines on his face relax.  However, an undercurrent of smoldering anger persists.  Radiating from his fatigues, worn eyes, he locks eyes with Zion-an intense exchange of unspoken defiance.  Beneath the creases that adorn his worn visage, a fleeting smile emerges.  His deep, resonant voice fills the air with his venom.

Rolando Vega:  Cut the bullshit kid.  If you wanna score some goods; show me your worthiness.  I deal with hotshots like you all the time.

Darin Zion:  To be honest; my interest lies beyond those matters.  You’ve got some connections with wrestling promotions around the region.  I’m looking to cut some mutually beneficial agreements.  I want a mentor like you, well-versed in the art of negotiation, to guide me to acquire these promotions.  Once I retire from the ring, I’ll need some new way to earn money.

Rolando’s piercing gaze sweeps over Zion, scrutinizing every intricate detail, detecting any signs of dishonesty.  Rolando extends his arms towards a set of untouched shots.  Forcefully slamming one in front of Zion, he causes the glass to thud against the table with resounding impact.

Rolando Vega:  If you wanna hang with me; drink up.

1.5 Hours Later…

The dimly lit room feels suffocating, the heavy air saturated with the lingering stench of alcohol.  Zion’s head feels like it’s about to explode from the thumping rhythm of the Mariachi Band.  10 shots deep, the alcohol courses through his veins like a tempest, distorting reality.  Zion teeters on the precipice of nausea due to his overwhelmingly heightened senses.

The dimly lit room feels heavier, thick with all their consumed shots.  The loud echoing of the Mariachi Band causes Zion’s head to spin and throb more.  After consuming 10 shots. He feels a mixture of intoxication and exhilaration, his heightened senses causing his stomach.

Zion’s eyes fixate across the table to Rolando.  He’s captivated by the drug lord’s transformed countenance.  His once stern face now bears traces of vulnerability, softened by the intoxicating embrace of alcohol.  With each shared shot, barriers crumble and the stories flow between them.

Rolando reveals the tragic backstory of assuming the mantle of his family business and the sacrifices that come with this responsibility.  Zion delves into his own past, regaling tales of his early wrestling days.   The highs and lows take shape through concise vignettes, a testament to the passion that shaped his path.

Hanging on every word Zion speaks,  A glimmer of respect shines in Rolando’s eyes.  The two men have become kindred spirits in their walks of life.  The lines between friend and foe blurs as they find comfort in each other’s company. A faint chuckle escapes Rolando’s lips, his response tinged with amusement over their newfound connection.

Rolando Vega:  I admire your courage, kid.  You’ve endured a lot of bullshit on your journey.  Your reservoir of inner strength is remarkable.  Honestly, I’ve never come across anyone with your level of determination.  Where’d you get that from?

Darin Zion:  It came from my father, Victor Matthews. Truth be told, if he hadn’t toughen me up, I wouldn’t be here right now, living out my dream.

Mid-drink, Rolando spews his drink all over Zion’s suit, almost like he witnessed a ghost from the past.

Rolando Vega:  V-V-V-Victor Matthews?!  You mean the…

Darin Zion:  Yes, the well-renowned wrestling commentator who made a name on the Lucha Libre independent scene.  He’s my father.  I’d like to know where I could find him.  Could you provide me with any information on his whereabouts?  I’d like to thank him.

Troublesome news burdens Rolando’s heart, casting a shadow over his stature.  The grizzly drug lord rests a tender hand over Zion’s shoulder.  A solitary tear trickles down his cheek, symbolizing profound sorrow behind his words as he answers Darin’s question.

Rolando Vega:  He’s buried at Panteón de Dolores.  I’m sorry, kid.

Darin Zion:  WHAAAAAAA?!

Rolando Vega: Three weeks ago he passed away in his sleep due to an overdose.  May his soul find eternal rest.  Victor was truly a remarkable man.  He often spoke of his aspirations to reunite with you.  He always expressed his longing to commentate one of your matches.  Victor carried a deep remorse for the hell you endured as a child.  He wished you two could reconcile…

Before Rolando can finish this heart-wrenching revelation, Zion barrels towards the bar exit, his steps heavily laden with anguish.  Ever loyal, Hollywood trails behind him, his fingers racing across his hidden phone screen.


Rain casts a somber hue on the scene, as mourners gather beneath the dreary clouds hanging low in the sky.  The air feels heavy with a sense of grief, mingling with the scent of a freshly turned earth.  The hushed whispers and stifled sobs blend with the tolling of bells, creating an atmosphere of solemnity and reverence.

The cemetery, filled with countless gravestones, stands as a solemn, tranquil reminder of the fragility of life.  The colossal stone gateway of Panteón de Dolores, highlights the somber background.

One single headstone stands out, etched upon it bold letters marking the final resting place of Darin’s father:  “Here Lies Victor Matthews: 1940-2023.” The weight of those simple yet profound words hangs in the air, a poignant reminder of an unresolved tail.

With a heavy heart, Zion carefully folds up his handwritten eulogy, tucking it back into the inner pocket of his black tuxedo jacket.  Stepping away from his pulpit, he walks towards the comforting presence of his dearest companions.  THE LOVE CONVOY and Brian Hollywood stand in a unified front, encircling him.  Their arms enveloping him a tender, warm embrace.  Their collective strength provides Darin support, reminding him he’s not alone in this pain. 

As the rest of the group departs towards the waiting limousine, Jonathan-Christopher Hall stands resolute at Darin’s side.  The bond between these two best friends remains unbroken.  Their connection fortified by love carried them through previous challenges.  

Memories of Zion’s unwavering support of through rehab flood JCH’s mind.  With a gentle pull, he draws Darin closer, whispering words of encouragement like a soothing balm for his wounded soul.

Jonathan-Christopher Hall:  Look, it’s hard.  I couldn’t imagine losing two family members in a week’s time.  I know it’s not the closure you sought.  But…

Darin Zion:  Honestly, I don’t need it any more.  I’ve got you guys by my side.  That’s all the love one man could hope to have.

Jonathan-Christopher Hall:  You don’t have to hide behind a mask, Darin.  It’s okay to cry.

Darin Zion:  You’re right and I’ve cried many tears over these sad memories.  But I’ve come to a resolution.  I don’t need these ghosts of the past to define who I am.  I’ve grown tired of trying to seek their validation.  Now, this story’s about me and what I want out of life.

JCH gives a nod of understanding before giving Zion a heartfelt embrace, pulling him close to his chest.

Jonathan-Christopher Hall:  Let’s go, buddy.  We have a lot of work to do conditioning you for the greatest war ahead of you.


“This year is truly my year to win War Games.  For the first time, I can feel it deep in my bones.

The air’s filled with apathy as Scottywood, Stevens, Aceldama, Hollywood, and Fuse their lack of concern for this prestigious win.  No one on the side of justice seems to desire this victory as passionately as I do.

If it’s not apathy, it’s a bunch of attention whores using War Games as a platform for their egos.  Witness Charles de Lacy with his theatrical display, indulging in vaudevillian antics at HOW’s grandest stage.  Evan Ward’s transformed into some Karen’s bothersome young brat, desperate for attention like Keith Sweat.

Don’t even get me started on Mike Best and his narcissistic hijinks, always stealing to steal everyone else’s fuckin’ spotlight.  I’ll spare you my banal tirade about him.

Apologies if I didn’t mention your name, but rest assured, I consider all 16 other competitors as credible threats. It’s that time of year when everyone emerges from the shadows to wrestle in the most chaotic match of their careers. It seems everyone enjoys witnessing Lee Best’s excitement at giving us all heart attacks, myself included.

I understand the gravity of War Games victory.  I competed for the honor to win two of these babies my first year in the company.  I won the battle for wrestling supremacy against Boardwalk and I came up inches short in a heart-breaking loss against Jace Parker Davidson in the main one.

I’ve kept that memory on repeat in my mind for almost a decade, like a broken record.

This year, I’ll throw that damn record in the trash.

After my LSD Championship opportunity slipped through my fingers, something inside me snapped.  For weeks, I grappled with a lingering frustration, unable to pinpoint the cause.  Week after week, I fought fiercely to unravel the mystery behind the haunting memories bogging down my performance.

I’ll confess, I still possess this burning desire to end Jace’s historical reign as LSD Champion.  For years, I’ve carried the burden constantly thrown my way by that stagnant, brooding emo who refuses to accept his flaws.

In the aftermath of that crushing defeat, I dedicated years of my career to seeking validation from Hall Fame friends who proudly wore the #97Red belt.  Desperately, I tried molding myself in their desired image of me.  This young, hungry lion desperately craved to prove all my haters wrong.  I craved the satisfaction of rubbing my success in all their faces more than victory itself.  My father particularly consumed every ounce of my thoughts.  I wished nothing more than to make that spiteful man witness his spawn of Satan ascending to the throne with the HOW World Title triumphantly resting on my shoulder.

But for me, War Games is no longer about seeking anyone else’s validation…it’s my own personal journey for seeking my own validation.  It’s about carving out my OWN destiny.

It’s about etching my own path into the HOW Hall of Fame and winning the one championship that’s eluded my grasp.

I’ve sacrificed too many years of my career chasing the illusory validation from my enemies, craving some worthless participation ribbon. I cowered in the LSD Division, behaving like a spineless germ, hoping to please everyone else.  I’d hoped to erase the negative stigma that clung to my wretched career swimming in the kiddie pool

It’s time to take all the lessons I’ve learned from my fruitless losses in War Games.  I need to stop overachieving and instead focus on the task at hand.  I need to keep forging new connections while leaving the political bullshit behind.  I must not get lost in my delusions of grandeur, keeping grounded in my laurels.  And above all else, I must take solemn ownership for myself and conquer the field myself.

It’s time for me to evolve.

Now is the time, Jace. I’m breaking up with my dream to win your LSD Championship.  It’s not you…it’s me.  I know you’re “heartbroken”…

But I’ve realized after two years my true destiny.  America, I’m coming after YOUR belt.

Go ahead, bring all your fuckin’ smoke.  Craft your next pathetic promo solely focused on me.  Shoot from the Goddamn hip, let ‘er rip.  Cut some another one of your angry grandpa tirades that hold no significance in the grand scheme of War Games. I can fuckin’ handle it.

Your empty, futile words reveal the extent your fragile ego has crumbled in recent weeks.  I’ve smelt the blood since Ivan Stanslav defeated you at PWA-01.  You might not tremble in my presence yet, but you possess the same sense of realism akin to mine.  I damn well know you’ve broken down the numbers.

Your odds of retaining the coveted #97Red and winning War Games for the second consecutive year stand at a staggering 5.9%.  You can feel the walls closing in on you, suffocating the last vestiges of your historic title reign. I sense the tightening hold of your toxic grasps slowly fleeting away from your one true love.

You may gawk at me right now.   You may still hold the belief I’m still that insignificant speck whom you and War mercilessly assaulted at Chaos a few weeks ago.  I wouldn’t blame you–I didn’t put up much of an effort.

But I do not require your validation to affirm my beliefs.

I’m a different breed, America.  I hold my ground in the presence of challenges.  I don’t give up on HOW, my one true love, after one single loss.  I do not vanish into the darkness of night, desperately clinging to my pride like some self-absorbed prick.  I wholeheartedly embrace my imperfections because they’ve shaped me into the wrestler I am today.

It’s why I transcend all my bullshit and stay over with the HOW crowd.  No amount of fake news you and the Final Alliance spew can strip that away from me.  The crowd showers you guys with boos not out of jealousy.  It’s because they LOATHE you guys.  Every time they catch sight of me, they erupt with a burning passion.

Their love fuels me every time to keep persisting on this sadistic journey.  They know the most important thing about me.

I embody the last shred of LOVE that HOW has left.  I bring the fans hope for a better tomorrow.  I am a relentless, hellbent competitor filled with vigor and determination to change the foundation of HOW.   I won’t ever give that up.

You said it yourself, a wrestler must have the constitution to crave victory.  Well, buddy; I crave it more than life itself right now.  I willingly bound my career to that dreadful time bomb of a contract, seeking the catalyst to ignite a fire under my ass.

With only 10 matches left on my contract, War Games becomes the stage where I break free from these self-imposed shackles and liberate myself and the one thing I love the most:  High Octane Wrestling.  I’ll bring the Final Alliance to its knees and send shockwaves throughout the wrestling world.

May 28th, 2023 is my date with destiny.

It’s the day I end your historic reign.  I become the hero we so desperately need.

It’s the day I finish my decade long story….FOR ME.

As the spotlight illuminates me, I will raise the HOW World Championship triumphantly above my head, fulfilling my lifelong dream of winning War Games and paving my way into the HOW Hall of Fame.”