(Or, What Goes Around.)
A colossal World Championship main event. Two extremely personal and chaotic championship bouts. A clash between Hall of Famers that is over a decade in the making.
Xander Azula versus Darin Zion.
On the surface, you look at this lineup and you say to yourself “one of these things is not like the others”…but this match is rooted in animosity that has grown over the course of nearly two years. Let me roll back the mental Rolodex here, and bring everyone’s attention to July 3, 2021…the first Refueled after War Games. My first singles contest outside the gilded HOFC cage. My first encounter with one Darin Zion.
Was I in over my head at the time? Maybe. Did I underestimate Zion that night, thinking my success in HOFC would translate as well to a standard singles contest?
Sure, let’s go with that.
Either way, I was mad…mad as hell, in fact. So mad that I went after his precious girl. I needed to get back at Zion so badly that I dug deep into the darkest recesses of my mind, and tried to bridge the gap between this earthly plane of existence and that of my goddess.
And all I got for my trouble was a one-way ticket off the guard tower at Rumble at the Rock.
What a weird year and a half it’s been since. Forcing myself to let bygones be bygones and team with that fiend, for the sake of following some calling from beyond time and space…only to find my true calling as the Fighter that walked his unsanctioned path.
I won’t get into what happened next. Nobody needs a lecture, a history lesson.
All they need to know is that this has been a long time coming. I promised myself after knocking the hell out of Zion at last year’s March to Glory that I was done with him…that it was time to go my own way, walk my own path. Yet, here I am a year later…a ghost of my past still haunting me, keeping me from taking that next crucial step in my career.
But that’s okay, because now I have what I really want…a chance to redeem myself. Not just for the disaster at ICONIC, but for two disappointing War Games and a bunch of heartbreak I can trace back to one man, and one man alone…Darin Zion.
Every time we’ve crossed paths, I’ve had to suffer the bitter agony of defeat…but even worse, I’ve had to carry the burden of what coming up short against Zion means. A former LSD, ICON, and Tag Team Champion, a man just aching to finally make it into the HOW Hall of Fame…but to me he’s merely an annoying pain in the ass.
Because the reality is, I am not facing the Darin Zion of 2015 and 2016. I’m not even facing the Darin Zion of 2021, the man that shocked the world the night he beat three of the Best Alliance’s finest all on his lonesome…I am facing a Darin Zion that strings together a couple wins at the start of the year, now gloating over his Wrestler of the Month award and HONKing his own horn to anyone with ears to hear.
Enough is enough, Zion.
Months of listening to you brag about the occasional modicum of success you’ve scraped up for yourself has finally gotten on my damn nerves, and with a lot of critics expecting me to fall short yet again it’s about damn time I shut them up…that I shut you up.
I would’ve loved to see the Masters of the Multiverse shine bright as HOW Tag Team Champions, but the fact of the matter is I could barely stand the sight of you the entire time. I know this business is built on uneasy friendships and alliances as it is, but I simply couldn’t stand there and side with the man that made me look like a damn fool in front of everyone.
That’s why I knocked you on your ass last March, and at Old Trafford in front of thousands upon thousands in the stands and millions watching from home…I’ll fuckin’ do it again.
I’ll close this chapter of my career and finally make peace with everything I’ve had to put up with since that fateful night in Washington. Most of all, I can move on and take what’s rightfully mine…some damn respect, and the next crack at the LSD Championship.
Glory, glory hail Azula.
Long Beach, California
All that has been on Xander Azula’s mind since Chaos 24 is the upcoming match against Darin Zion, a chance to right some wrongs and add to his collection of crucial victories…but a strange phone call seems to put those thoughts on the back burner.
“I’m sorry, you want what from me?” Xander shouts in response to an inquiry, his face flustered by what seems to be a weird request coming from out of the blue as the older gentleman on the other end of the call explains further.
“We need to discuss your use of the Eternal Circle name since your arrival in HOW, Mr. Azula. My client is fully aware of your status as one-time, er, leader of the organization…but he maintains that the group was shut down long before you staked your claim of ownership to it. To put it in business terms, Mr. Azula, it has become a concern of trademark…and my client is now calling for you to cease and desist any further use of it.”
With that, the gentleman ends the call, leaving a visibly confused–and concerned–Xander to look up at his crew, his fellow believers in a cause that is suddenly being called into question. He looks to Vagn Dahl with a raised eyebrow, hoping his stout friend can help clear this up.
“Tell me, Vagn…how in the world does a group like the Eternal Circle get their name trademarked, by some businessman no less?”
The inquiry is as strange as it sounds coming from the mouth of the Head Disciple, prompting only a shrug of the shoulders from his trusted general in the proverbial army of Eris, but it’s the relatively junior member of the crew, Thomas Crowne, who speaks up with a response.
“Don’t you remember, Xander? It was all over the news a decade ago,” Thomas says plainly, as if the Fighter should remember the excruciating details of news he was not in fact familiar with so many years in the past. “There was a time when the Eternal Circle was a part of some multinational corporation with intent on global dominance. Like something out of a movie, except this story ended with the group being dissolved when the CEO went into hiding.”
Vagn lets out a heavy sigh, shaking his head as the memories of that painful chapter finally start coming back to him after all this time.
“That is how the Circle got to where we were when you found us, Xander. You joined a group trying to rebuild from a shattered foundation…and rebuild we did, under your guidance.”
Xander stares at his crew, shaking his head at the revelation.
“Well it sure looks like the chickens have come home to roost, haven’t they?” Xander asks, rising from his seat as he can feel the rage building up inside him. “All of a sudden, I’m glad I’ve been giving this artist path a shot…because I may need the extra side gig to cover legal costs.”
In that moment, there was only thing Xander knew for certain…and before leaving his quarters, he lets his crew know exactly what he thinks of all this.
“This is a damn mess…but I’m nothing if not a man that doesn’t know how to clean up messes.”
Hayward Daily Review – May 25, 2013
Legacy Enterprises Shuttered, CEO Disappears
Written by Ava Maxwell
HAYWARD – In what has been one of the biggest shocks in recent tech history, Legacy Enterprises has been announced as closing its doors, shutting down all operations immediately. This affects a number of jobs in the city where the corporation was headquartered, as well as the upkeep of both Legacy Plaza and Legacy Tower as all assets look to be sold to the highest bidder in the coming months.
CEO Jesse Gunn could not be reached for comment, notably disappearing after a recent incident at the Plaza that led to the shutdown of the multinational tech corporation. All other requests for comments have been refused by the Board of Directors.
No word on the sudden influx of strange events happening around the Tower in the past few weeks, or whether they have any connection to the incident at the Plaza.
Not content with simply letting some lawyer big him up over the phone, Xander has taken it upon himself to make a quick trip to settle old business before heading out to Manchester…but his blood runs cold at the sight of the man waiting for him at the office on the twelfth floor of this recently-renovated skyscraper. A familiar face Xander never expected to see again.
A ghost of his past.
“Hello, Xander,” states a gentleman in his late forties, dressed to the nines in business attire as he motions to the door of his office. “Why don’t you come in? We have a lot to discuss.”
“That we do, Jesse Gunn.”