It’s been a long two weeks. I couldn’t stand not hearing back from Hollywood after all this time. I knew we damned ourselves to this deep inside. We had signed our souls to the devil. Trouble continued to wear me thin. I didn’t want to let Mario down. I wanted to make someone proud in HOW for the first time in my life instead of being looked at like some sort of failure. Every bit of pride over the past 3 months continued to eat at my soul, looking around all of Chicago for Brian Hollywood. I had spent the better part of nearly 3 days plastering his picture of billboards. Every step continued to exhaust me. What’s worse? I had made Meredith embark on the journey with me. If Brian Hollywood failed to answer the call to join us in the Family; I knew my contract with HOW would be terminated and I could no longer afford Meredith. I had made the pact. I drug her along with me. And she didn’t know any of it. She walked up to approach me with her enthusiastic smile. Her warm, friendly demeanor had always opened up my personality. As we slapped posters on the next restaurant nearby, she kindly smiled at me before speaking.
Meredith: Any word back from Hollywood yet?
Darin Matthews: Of course not! Hollywood’s been as stubborn as stubborn can be. It’s his typical attitude. When he doesn’t want to do something; he fights it. Even if there’s good reason for it.
There was good reason for it too. His job was on the line. Mario had his contract in the palm of his hand. That’s what Hollywood didn’t know. Mario had manipulated it that if we both failed to get our act together; we both would be shipped back to MVW in a New York minute. The files were printed. All he had to do was run them through the shredder. That weighed on me. I had damned him to the same fate I had been damned too. But I couldn’t have a heart for Hollywood. Not after he cost me my career! No! My heart couldn’t have softened up after two whole weeks. This was unusual. No one has a change of heart on a blood rivalry.
As I continued to remain quiet; I walked over to the nearest bench with ads for the strip club plastered all over it. I sat down with my arms across my chest, just reflecting in that moment. How could Hollywood and I even have a chance to take on the Egg Bandits this week? We still hadn’t practiced together. We hadn’t bonded together. We didn’t even have any chemistry we once had any more. We both had grown apart in the last 6 months after I left his mansion. That shitty mansion he always bragged about. As sweat beat down from the summer day, I sat back and reflected on the 15 years Hollywood and I spent in this business together. The times we had trained with each other all came flooding into my memories. Every time I would get knocked on my ass; he would offer his hand to pull my ass back off the mat. Sure, I got wrestling better than he did. I took to it like a duck in water. But he had the natural charisma. He could convince a fish to swim on land if he wanted to at his best.
And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t mad at him. I was mad at him not trying. Not living up to his own potential. I kept watching him flounder around trying to find his footing. He lacked that direction he once had in life. As I stared off into the clear, blue, warm skies, Meredith tapped me on the shoulder.
Meredith: You’ve been awfully quiet. You’re usually boasting about how you can overtake the Egg Bandits. I can’t shut you up. Something seems off today.
Darin Matthews: I’m never off! How dare you assume that. I said it last week and I’ll say it again. I can beat both Bandits with my arms tied behind my back with them throwing eggs at me. We’ve bested them before, Meredith. We took the Tag Team straps off them. Nothing’s different this time.
I lied. There was no hope after our last match. Hollywood and I couldn’t even get on the same page. We struggled with basic tags. We choked and let our collective pride get in the way of perfection. We couldn’t even keep track of Doozer or Martin. How could we best Jiles and Dean? They’d both come off the best matches of their careers. Jiles beat Dan Ryan. We couldn’t even beat Ryan when we fought him as the Order. Bobby Dean came so close to beating Mike Best, if he hadn’t bitten his penis; he would be holding the coveted 97Red around his waist this week.I couldn’t let her know it was all eating at me. I couldn’t let her know I went soft. I was struggling because I was watching my best friend struggle. I kept dazing off into the skylines as she continued to probe me.
Meredith: That’s a lie. You’re not even looking me in the eyes. You used to buy into your own hype. You touted you were the best. How you would accomplish your 24th championship before year’s end.
Darin Matthews: I know, but I let Hollywood drag me down. I let his mind games get to me. I’m just trying to reflect on them. I can’t let them get the best of me this time. I can’t let Hollywood drive me nuts any more. I have to focus. I can’t let the Bandits beat me again. It would kill me inside. I have to be strong.
Meredith: You don’t have to fake anything. I can tell you this week’s match is weighing on you a lot. I haven’t seen you under this much pressure since I met you. It’s killing you inside.
Darin Matthews: I’m a perfectionist, Meredith. I don’t just expect perfection out of just you. I expect it out of myself. When I can’t get the job done. I beat myself up about it constantly. I know I can be the best. I’ve main evented numerous shows throughout my career. But this partnership with Hollywood just isn’t going to work out. He’s gone soft. I put him down at War Games. I just don’t see why Mario wants us to team up any more. I don’t see the bigger picture. I don’t see how this betters my performance. It keeps hindering me. I trust everything Mario wants to do, but God, Meredith. This is the one thing I just can’t open my mind up to doing. Look at me! I’m at the peak, and now…
I was holding myself back from the team. Keeping the best parts out. I didn’t want to bring myself to swallow my pride. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t change Hollywood’s mind or my own. I didn’t want to be the first person to budge on this front. I took a deep sigh and released it. I wiped my hands in my hair, letting it get messed up. I didn’t care how I looked. I just wanted to win against the Bandits. I wanted to prove my own hype over the last few weeks. I didn’t want to go broke from the whole experience…
I haven’t told the entire story. I had wasted a lot of the money I gained from the SEC stable tenure in MVW. I wanted to put the pomp and circumstance into my debut. I wanted everyone to buy into the hype the old Darin was laid to rest. That I was done making bad decisions. But the truth of the matter is: I had gone dry trying to drag my belts around with me. I couldn’t let anyone see my problems. Fuck that shit! I needed them to see me put my best foot forward. Everything relied on the next few weeks getting back on the same page with Hollywood for me. I needed him to see how serious I was to make this team work. But I couldn’t admit fault. I couldn’t admit that I saw Mario’s plan. He wanted Hollywood to stop looking at the past. He needed to move forward. Stop living the luxurious life. Stop bragging about his wealth. He needed a cold-blooded killer out of Brian Hollywood. He needed me to break him and cause him to mold him in the right direction. It was the right step to pulling Hollywood out of his senses. He had lost that killer instinct he once got him to the Main Event scene. He just kept focusing on everything that hindered him.
I figured it out once Mario put us together. I just didn’t want to accept it all. I turned and looked over at Meredith who had backed away from me. As I finally relented to my heart for a change. I walk towards her and pull out my wallet.
Darin Matthews: Look I know you’ve put up with a lot of my shit lately, how about I buy you lunch? On me! You’ve been out here in this heat for too long helping me out. Least I could do is do something nice for you for a change. If I’ve learned anything this week: maybe I need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
Flabbergasted, she almost fell back in shock. It was the first kind gesture I had offered her since we met. She pulled her composure together as she smiled.
Meredith: Only if you tell me what’s really going on. I hate seeing you like this. You’re being too nice.
If only she hadn’t thrown that back in my face. I obliged and put my arm around her as we wrap up the search for Brian Hollywood for the day.
“Call me a light switch, call me soft. Call me whatever the hell you want this week, Bandits.
But I’m not messing around. The jokes are over. Cut your Zionwood, Darin Matthews Band, Off Again On Again bullshit out. You got one set of big wins and you let that shit go to your head. I’ll admit. You’ve held your own the last two weeks I’ve gone against your stable. You’ve fought fire with fire. But I’m done playing second fiddle. This isn’t Noah Hanson’s boys stepping into the ring with two wise cracking, egg scrambling bozos. I mean business. This isn’t just some fucking NASA mission.
This is a wrestling ring and it’s meant for wrestling damnit. You’ve disrespected this sport for laughs. It’s not funny any more. This week, when I step in the ring with Hollywood in my corner; no more side shows from me. No more song and dance numbers to resist it. I’ve accepted my fate. I’m teaming with him. You think you can count us all out because you’ve won against us the last two weeks. But let’s face it; Jiles and Dean don’t have the years that Hollywood and I have on us. We didn’t come together to just have fun. We didn’t come to beat the everloving piss out of each other. We came through our entire careers together. We’ve seen each other in our worst and our best. We’ve conquered multiple companies Tag Team Titles scenes. You’ve only been to UTAH and to HOW. You guys only have been there for the laughs. We’ve been there for the tears, the strife and everything else. We’ve fought each other for World Championships, Tag, Singes you name it.
And he’s the reason I’ve won 23 different titles. He’s pushed me out of jealousy, out of pride, and out of everything.
Hollywood, if you see this, I’m done messing around with you. Step in this week, fight your ass off with me; or we will have another problem and I will beat your ass within a pulp. It’s time for me to swallow my pride to make this family better. Together, we need to prove why you don’t mess with the family.”