Let me tell you a story about a girl I know.
I can’t remember how old I was when I met her – 18, maybe 19? – but she struck me right away.
“Love at first sight?” Nah, that’s corny bollocks for Valentine’s Day cards, though maybe something close to that.
I was a shitty kid and a shittier teenager. High school was never going to take me where I wanted to be and even if it could, I’d never have applied myself anyway. Pretty cliched story, in all honesty. Dropping out, burning out, drifting aimlessly, working dead-end jobs whilst trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my next 50-60 years on earth. The kind of thing you’ve heard a hundred times before.
She came along at the perfect time. I didn’t know it then, but shit: if fate exists, it was shining on me back then.
My big brother had known her for a lot longer than me. He told me to stay away, let me know she wouldn’t be good for me, even when life took him across the Atlantic Ocean, dropped hundreds of thousands in his bank account, and put his name on the lips of every single spectator around the world. She could be cruel, he said. Hit it off with her and you’ll strike big, unquestionably, but you won’t believe the baggage until it starts weighing you down.
That’s what she does. She takes something from you. Beautiful, bewitching, and beguiling she may be, but you’ve gotta be careful. The angel can turn to Medusa in an instant. If you can’t quit her – and few people can – she’ll turn more than your heart to stone.
Andy was my guiding hand, particularly after dad left, so yeah. I heeded the warning. I pushed her to the back of my mind and got on with my own life for as long as I could, which, it turns out, wasn’t that long at all.
What can I say? I was smitten.
She crept into my thoughts more and more over the coming years. I’d see her passing by, nod, and exchange smiles. Soon we were talking, getting friendly, hitting it off, and I was ecstatic when she came around.
She replaced by melancholy with hope.
I fell in love with her.
At least I thought I did.
Shit started going south when I flamed out of OCW. There I was, taking my first steps on the path to greatness, when the whole world came tumbling down – and she couldn’t hold it up for me. We fell out. It was the first time the old bird had looked anything but a princess to me, and I blamed her. I lashed out. Convinced myself it was her fault, not mine.
Years passed. I fell into the bottom of a bottle, over and over. “She did this to me,” I kept telling myself, but I couldn’t let her go. How could I? Her claws were in, man. Everything my brother had warned me about had come to pass and there I was, tumbling down life’s ladder, watching others thrive with her while I fought a battle just to get out of bed in the morning.
Time is a great healer, it turns out.
Bitterness gave way to warmth eventually, and I had to get her back. So I looked within. I forgave her, found the cracks in my soul, and started healing them. It was a long road and I’m not afraid to admit I almost didn’t make it, yet there I was, moving forward for the first time in years, hoping she’d notice me again.
And she did.
We went to Japan together, signed with WrestleUTA together, made a name, fought wars, found joy, and reached for the stars together. That perfect princess was back.
UTA died but no problem: there was DEFIANCE, waiting with open arms. Cayle Murray became a star there, with her. I survived battles I never would have got through in the past because of her. Opponents that would have crushed my spirit and left my body shattered were swept away in my tide and it wasn’t because my brother was by my side, but because she was.
She was my everything: the only thing that mattered, and I gave her it all.
I broke Eric Dane’s neck there. Put that motherfucker out indefinitely, potentially condemning him to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. A ghastly, ghoulish act that may have driven me nuts with years prior, and yet it barely registered. “It was what needed to be done,” she told me, “Sometimes you have to do awful things to move forward. It’ll pay off in the end.”
My better nature raised doubts, but shit, what was I supposed to do? I was nothing before her and I’d be nothing without her, so I kept trusting her.
Even when I marched into a new fight with Dane’s protege, himself fresh off putting Andy on the shelf, forcing the big lad into what looked like his own early retirement.
Even when everybody else told me this was the worst idea in the world.
Even when I ensured said protege would never walk right again after nailing him with the same Ganso Bomb that damn near paralysed his mentor, shedding another chunk of soul at the same time.
Cayle Murray, the lion-hearted do-gooder, had become a life-ruiner.
And she convinced me this was fine.
Why question her? With her wind in my sails, I was a World Champion for a year. On top of the world, man! The consensus best wrestler in the consensus best pure wrestling promotion. Me, Cayle Murray, the tearaway, burnout sibling of the most successful British combatant in history… a franchise player.
A legacy performer in my own right, not just his.
But we weren’t alright, she and I.
Cracks started appearing.
Harmony slowly slipped away with each new day. The purest love I’d known lost its shine, its sparkle.
Joy turned to ennui. Things that used to put a pep in my step didn’t even register anymore. The roar of the crowd lost its fuelling powers, the cathartic release that once greeted every final bell went away, and she slowly became a labour, not a love. I started having to force the smile and burst of energy as I came through the curtain and by the end of it, this life had become a thing I did through habit, not because it was the one thing breathing life through my bones, as it has been for years.
We fell out of love.
The more I looked at her, the more it faded. Cracks and blemishes spread over her satin skin. Her voice turned shrill and harsh, her tone cold and uncaring. As we drifted apart, she turned bristly, callous, and at times, savage. Staying attached to the girl who’d given me anything was nought but a grind. It was a joyless marriage, and I’ve no idea where all these things came from.
Maybe they were there all along; I was just blind to them.
But she was everything my brother had warned me about, and worse. And the closer I got, the harder I tried… the more I felt like shit.
It took me a long, long time to figure out why this happened, but I came to the answer in the end. I know why my princess turned to a slag.
My year-long World Title reign – the highlight of my career, when you couldn’t mention the phrase ‘Best in the World’ without using my name – was built on a lie.
A lie started by Dan Ryan, who imposed his will the night I was crowned king, taking out another man so that I may ascend the ladder, grab the belt, and “earn” false immortality.
He didn’t do it for me, of course. I learned quickly that ‘The Ego Buster’ only makes move for himself, but fuck: that was what poisoned the well.
And that’s how we fell out of love.
I was the “honour and integrity” guy back then. I was the man everyone in that building wanted to root for because I represented the struggle: the grit, fire, and steel it took to claw yourself out of the gutter and to the top of the mountain. And I did it without compromising my morals. “Cheating” wasn’t in my vocabulary and if you’d hand me a steel chair, I’d sooner put it down than swing it at your head.
Cayle Murray was a hero.
Call it naive, call it what you want, but it worked. For a while.
You can understand why a man like the one I’ve just described couldn’t handle his life’s greatest success not being his. When I hit my career’s peak, whatever that may have been, it had to be a product of my own blood and thunder, not circumstance. It had to be earned by the sweat of my brow, not luck. Not some big bloody elephant of a man hopping the barricade and Humility Bombing one of the guys opposite the ring just to settle some years-old gripe.
Every new month with the belt was worse than the one before, but I couldn’t figure it out until it was too late.
Dan and I crossed paths again towards the end. It was two-on-one, and I was on the bad side of the ledger. Victory was impossible, they told me, but they’d been telling me that since the day I first stepped into a gym. They said “unwinnable,” I said “watch me.”
And Ryan took that away from me as well.
I lied the night I showed up here, you know. I didn’t run Dan Ryan out of the last locker-room we shared: it was the other way around.
When Dan Ryan put up the funds to save the place I called home – when he bought her love away from me – suddenly, that home filed me an eviction notice. The contract renewal I was promised months prior was suddenly off the table and the moment my title slipped from my grasp, I was gone.
And that was when everything clicked: after it was already too late. That was how my princess turned to a whore.
Don’t mistake me for a moaner, though. I’m not telling you this to complain. I don’t want your pity, I don’t want your pity, and I sure as hell don’t want your support.
I’m telling you these things so you can understand what this match is really about. To me.
I’m gonna kick Dan Ryan’s fucking head in.
This guy is the reason I feel out of love. He’s the reason the Cayle that swaggered into High Octane Wrestling like a chihuahua with a foot-long penis spitting insults and promising violence, not baring his heart and soul. Dan Ryan fucked me up. My greatest success in this rotten industry, the only main reason you fuckers know my name in the first place, had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him.
And now, finally, I get to fix that.
There’s so much more to this than the brother’s revenge story you’ve all been fed over the past few weeks.
It’s a nice little narrative, isn’t it? Might sound good in a kids book. Big bad Dan, driven mental by his inability to even face Andy man-to-man, takes a different path. Cruelly, he strikes the wounded warrior where it hurts, puts him in a position from where he can never strike back, and launches him off a balcony. He ends his career. But hope is not lost! Here comes the younger, hungrier, less-broken Murray, out to fell the evil monster, restore his family’s honour, and claim his fallen brother’s retribution!
Great marketing, unquestionably, and part of me does want to bash Dan Ryan up for what happened to the big lad. Some of this match is about that.
But as much as Lee Best brought me here for Andy, I came here for me.
Truth is, I’d have stepped into this window of opportunity if Mikey Unlikely, Cancer Jiles, or even Scott pissing Stevens was the newly-deceased ICON Champion. You are what brought me here, Dan. You were the allure.
Of course, you’re going to tell me you don’t give a shit about any of this. You’re going to tell me I’m nothing. You’ll grab your shovel and fling piles and piles of dirt upon me because burials are all you know, insisting all you want is violence, blood, and horror.
And I’ll believe you. I will.
I earnestly accept that these are the only things on your mind heading into No Remorse and that you haven’t given a second thought to any of the other baggage surrounding this match, because I know who you are.
Rather, I know what you are.
You are a killer. Single-minded and laser-focused, you have let go of whatever humanity you had left to become the ultimate murder machine. The energy you once spent on things like family, loyalty, and, y’know, being a functioning fucking human being has been rechanneled to make ‘The Ego Buster’ the most dangerous version of himself. I understand, truly, that I am entering a particularly lethal situation on Saturday night.
And yet I am comforted by all this, knowing that everything you have become is partly because of him.
March to Glory was one thing, bitching you way out of the Refueled main a short while later was another, but War Games? A different beast.
Part of you died that night. When he pinned you, he served the one part of your brain still connected to reality, and now we’re here.
Dan Ryan is a true monster.
Of Andy Murray’s creation.
So yes, I’m totally willing to believe that you don’t care about me, my story, or whatever else we want to jazz this match up with. Thing is, I care deeply about you.
And that’s why you’ll never fucking do to me what you did to him.
This is my fight, understand? No matter how it ends – no matter what goes down and what kind of injuries we suffer together – my situation will be a product or what I did right or wrong, not some interloper, and not even the big lad.
This is Cayle Murray’s war, Cayle Murray’s story, and it’ll be Cayle Murray’s success or failure.
You can’t take that away from me – as you did all those years ago. There won’t be a caveat or asterisk beside my name anymore, man. This is a colossal fight, bigger than any shit that happened down in New Orleans, and it shall belong to me.
And when we’re done – once one man has brought such hell to the other than they can’t answer a count of twenty – I will look you in the eyes, Dan, gaze into whatever’s left of your soul that hasn’t been Ted Bundy’d yet, and say just two words.
Thank you for helping me understand the drippy fucking idiot I was before.
I look back at some of the shit that used to come out of my mouth and cringe. All that bollocks about “heart!”, “passion!”, and “effort!”. Imagine if I’d come to a place like HOW spitting that, man: I’d be dead on arrival. Taken in, chewed up, and spat out by the most outlaw of outlaw promotions.
This shit gave me armour, mate, and I was already one of the best on the planet when I had those inhibitions, those anchors.
Now, I think I’m the best.
You were a wake-up call. I ground myself to dust for years, trying to do things the honest way, for her, and where did it get me? A place in her heart that never should have belonged to me in the first place. I was an imposter, and you cured my syndrome.
Maybe at No Remorse, I can cure yours too.
She never loved me in the first place. You don’t realise when you’re in the throes, because love is blindness. Love is hopeless. Love is a numbness that pulls itself over logic and reason when you give in to it, as we all do at some point in our lives, and it often isn’t until it all falls down that you realise how much it has taken from you.
Me? I realised before she ate me alive. I escaped.
I can’t say the same for you, lad.
You are this way not because you made a concerted effort to become a tighter, meaner, and more dangerous fighter. Your current state isn’t a product of you walking into a gym one more after War Games, looking yourself in the mirror, and say “gee, I gotta refine my focus so that I can finally shake that Scottish monkey of my back.” You didn’t make yourself a psychopath, Dan.
She did this to you.
And in doing so, she accelerated your journey down the same road every sad, empty sack of shit who leaves her embrace a husk of what they once were treads before they die.
This place is more than a theatre that allows you to indulge in your worst impulses, Dan. This is you. All you’ve got. You are so hopelessly devoted to her that you don’t even realise she has driven you round the bloody bend: if you did, a War Games fall that you almost kicked out of wouldn’t have triggered the killer in you.
You are a slave to your impulses. This change is involuntary, and as fucking terrifying as you’ve become, Dan, I know I have this one advantage over you.
She takes something from everyone she crosses paths with, the question is what will you have left to give, and what will be left of you when she’s done?
We all let her in, man, but few of us learn to push her away before she takes everything.
You, like my brother, have failed. Categorically.
I don’t have to thrust my elbow against a tree, break skin, and watch myself bleed, just to feel something. I am not a product of my compulsions. I am a star in a business I no longer care for, this is true, and unquestionably, my life would be a lot less complicated had I paid heed to the cynics and never gotten close to her in the first place.
But I’ve had my moment of clarity, and now? I’m free.
My shackles are broken. The workhorse has started working for himself, no longer blind to see what his mistress was taking from him, no longer pushing forward even though I was dying. I have seen my cruel fate and broken it into pieces.
You did that, Dan.
Perhaps I can do the same for you at No Remorse.
So thank you, once again, for helping me see through my poisoned princess.
I used to love her.
Now, I own her.
The wrestling business is a whore.