In Peace, Vigilance. In War, Victory. In Death, Sacrifice.

In Peace, Vigilance. In War, Victory. In Death, Sacrifice.

Posted on June 3, 2022 at 8:02 am by Christopher America

“The Shepherd’s lost
And his home is far
Keep to the stars
The dawn will come

The night is long
And the path is dark
Look to the sky
For one day soon
The dawn will come.”

–          The Dawn Will Come

 

BRRRRRRRRR……CA-CHUNK….BRRRR…CA-CHUNK-A-CHUNK…BRRRRRRR

Christopher America’s body sways with the rocking and bumping of the transport vehicle. There were no windows in the back. Just three men, two soldiers, one traveler, and no one looking at each other.

With no one talking, America had disabled the app on his phone, not wanting to waste the battery. For what seemed like an hour, America rode in an unknown direction, wondering what the hell was taking them so long. Building up the courage to finally say something, America began to rise up when the vehicle suddenly slowed. America quickly sits back down and breathes out.

Christopher America: Finally.

As the vehicle came to a stop, the men in the back of the transport get up, peeling back the cloth covering. The light stabs at America’s eyes. He winces briefly and blinks, trying to adjust quickly. The men are motioning for him to get off the vehicle. Not needing to be told twice, America grabs his suitcases, hops off the vehicle, and offloads the suitcases. Smiling at the prospect of finally arriving, America turns from the back of the vehicle to face his destination. His smile slowly fades as his eyes move left to right trying to take in his surroundings.

Surrounded by square, gray buildings and numerous armed guards, America stands at what he thinks might be a military checkpoint or encampment of some kind. America shrugs slightly as he pulls out his cell phone and begins taking photos.

Christopher America: Which one’s the US Embassy? I don’t see an American flag anywhere.

A small commotion kicks up as a man, flanked on both sides by other men dressed in fatigues, approaches America from behind.

Voice: Це він? <This is him?>

America spins around and sees the man approaching, hand out.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Greetings. I am Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko. Welcome to Ukraine.

America catches his lip beginning to curl at the thought of touching someone Un-American. He gingerly extends his hand. He winces when his hand is grabbed and shaken. Despite that, even through a relatively heavy accent, America is glad that there is some modicum of civility as this foreigner speaks the greatest language ever: American English.

Christopher America: Christopher America. I’m glad someone speaks the same language as me.

The Pidpolkovnyk nods and motions with hand for America to follow him.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: My men told me that they picked you up about 150 kilometers outside of Mariupol. What are you doing out here?

Christopher America: What do you mean? Since being in your country, I’ve been pushed out of an airplane, parachuted into a crumbling city, had guns pointed at my head, and all I’m wondering is where the hell my guide is?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: A guide for what?

Christopher America: A tour! I signed up for a tour, to be shown some sights, take a couple of dumb photos, and…

Shevchenko stops and turns towards America holding up a hand.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Mr. America, I believe that you may have misunderstood.

Christopher America: What are you talking about?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Ukrainians are looking for volunteers to help serve in the military and fight for our country. There are many Americans who have willingly volunteered. The fee that you paid was for the air travel. Finding mercenaries willing to risk themselves by flying you into war zones can be a lucrative and dangerous business. This is why you were dropped near Mariupol.

Shevchenko then reached out and grabbed a piece of America’s clothes.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: If you weren’t expecting to fight, why are you dressed in these clothes?

Christopher America: Well, how else were people going to know to not shoot at me? I’m an American citizen. I have the right to not die on foreign soil. And people know that you don’t mess with America. After all, we’re helping you turn the tide.

Shevchenko grimaces and stares at America.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: So, can we count on you for your help?

America smiled before heartily laughing in Shevchenko’s face.

Christopher America: Oh God, no! I wouldn’t be caught dead…

America’s voice trailed off as he suddenly realized he was being watched by dozens of men with guns.

Christopher America: Uh, ahem, no.

Shevchenko, who had been accommodating, is now clearly annoyed.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Indeed. Let’s get you transported to your embassy then and away from the fighting. We wouldn’t want you damaging your clothes.

The sarcasm translates across all languages as Shevchenko moves on towards one of the buildings with America and his two roller suitcases in tow.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: The transport will be ready in a few hours. You may rest if you wish.

As America is shown to a small room with a cot and blanket, he looks utterly disgusted at the lack of accommodations.

Ca-chunk.

As America spins around to complain, he finds that Shevchenko had already left. Staring at the door briefly, America turns to look back at the room. A thousand thoughts raced through his head ranging from fury at having been conned, anger at being shown such a lack of respect with such meager accommodations, and a sense of hopelessness as he was still hundreds of miles from the nearest open U.S. Embassy.

Looking to make the most of this, America opened one of his roller suitcases and began preparing to sleep.

After fifteen minutes pass, America tries to make the best of his makeshift cot. He lays awake in his American flag pajamas, snuggling a stuffed bald eagle, trying to shut out the noise of the people outside.

He waits and prays for sleep to envelop him.

*******

I want to tell you a secret.

Something I’ve never shared with anyone.

I absolutely loved facing Joe Bergman.

Do you know why?

It’s because it was a challenge for me.

I’ve never really met Joe Bergman. Never interacted with him outside of seeing him talk in one of his boring, sanctimonious interviews that took up five to ten minutes of precious HOW air time. And you know what I did with that small bit of information from that promo? I dissected a man for having marital problems, for being a false idol, and I rarely touched on the fact that he named himself Halitosis.

People asked me why I went so personal on Joe Bergman so quickly. Why didn’t I talk more about his name and the link to bad breath more than I did.

And the answer is because it’s fucking low hanging fruit.

And to be quite honest, it’s not that funny.

Like clockwork though, every War Games season, my bullshit sense goes off as the men and women of HOW begin their annual quest to try to tear me down by picking the lowest hanging fruit imaginable.

It’s the same thing whenever a new Star Wars or MCU movie comes out. They pick the low hanging fruit and try to tie something they said to that pop culture reference. Why? Because they really have nothing original to say.

With me, I’m sure someone will refer to me as a Communist or claim that I’m not really an American. They’ll call me xenophobic, racist, liar, Un-American, chauvinistic, blah, blah, blah…

AND. ITS. ALL. SO. BORING!

THEY’RE BORING!

THE SAME SHIT! EVERY WAR GAMES!

It’s repetitive and I hate it, not because it gets to me, but because I want a real challenge! I want someone to come after me with such vitriol and venom that I’m torn a new asshole and left for dead on the side of the road.

And you know what’s even worse than their laziness?

It’s the fact that some of these people are Hall of Famers, people that should know better. They should BE better!

Let me give you an example.

You know what’s low hanging fruit? 

Low hanging fruit is to say that Xander Azula beat a past his prime Kostoff and an out of his depth Brian Hollywood. You know what isn’t low hanging fruit? The fact that Xander Azula is training under Joe Bergman, a KNOWN LOSER, to try to be better!

Better.

BETTER!

A man IN War Games… is training with someone NOT in War Games… to try to be BETTER… so he can win the very match his trainer ISN’T IN and has NEVER won! 

The very match I DENIED his trainer from getting into.

What a fucking joke!

But when it comes to me, watch the low hanging fruit get picked until the tree’s branches are fucking bare because it’s easy. It’s harder to go higher.

And for that, I’m reminded that Lee Best was right.

This roster is soft.

Let me illustrate further.

Let’s play a game.

Assume that the other team wins. They won’t, but let’s assume for this laughable, hypothetical exercise.

What happens if the Highwaymen and Conor Fuse all survive? Who do you think Conor is going to pick to hold the World Championship? 

The egomaniac will do what the egomaniac always does, he’ll pick himself. It doesn’t matter that Clay Byrd might be the one to pick up the decisive pinfall victory. Fuse will pick himself.  

And do you know what the Highwaymen will do? They’ll “rabble-rabble” about it in locker rooms. They’ll shoot Conor a mean glare. They’ll have Solex talk about it on another shitty and played out “Leave It To Steve-r” episode.

And Clay Byrd will do what he always does when he loses out on his chance at winning the World Title: FUCK! ALL!

They’ll sit and wait for a Lethal Lottery or some other random chance for them to get a World Championship shot and hope that it will finally work out for them on their umpteenth try. But all of that assumes that they’ll stick together. 

You see, I’m willing to bet that when it comes to the World Championship, the Highwaymen will eat each other and tear themselves apart. And all the “heroes” and “locker room leaders” will show their true colors.

The problem with the roster is that they don’t really understand what War Games is like. They take it all so lightly.

When I entered HOW, I was a technically gifted wrestler with a mouth on him. My first title match was an LSD Championship match that called for me to go hardcore. That was a brutal match that made me think twice about what I’d gotten myself into by joining this company.

War Games, though, that was a whole other level. That changed me.

I began to switch from technical wrestling into brawling. I bathed in my own blood and the blood of my enemies and I felt clean.

War Games sat me at the learning tree. I became a student of savagery, true violence, emotional repression, ultimate survival, and depraved creativity.

It hardened me in a way that I never expected.

So, I’ll let you in on another secret.

I respect War Games.

I respect it as much as America.

It humbled me, re-shaped me, and turned me into something greater.

So please… take me lightly.

Pick the low hanging fruit.

And then I’ll show you, first-hand, just how savage and how violent War Games has made me.

*******

RRRRRFFFFFF-BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!

America’s eyes fly open as he is flung from his cot to the floor. The entire building is shaking as debris begins to fall from the ceiling. Men outside begin shouting and America quickly throws on his American themed fatigues over his American flag pajamas. George Jr., the stuffed bald eagle, is quickly shoved back into the suitcase.

America checks himself over, grabs his suitcases, and exits the building.

As he leaves, America looks off into the distance and sees a plume of smoke rise up over the tree line. Suddenly, he feels a slap on the back.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Want to watch as we stop some Russian tanks?

America looks at him, bewildered.

Christopher America: You serious?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Yes.

Like a kid being told he could pick any toy out of the toy store, America smiled wide. America, thoroughly overjoyed at the thought of seeing some Russians die, begins to mutter to himself.

Christopher America: It’s happening. I’m going to get to fire a rocket launcher!

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Hurry!

America leaves his suitcases back inside the building and begins running after Shevchenko.

Christopher America: Do they normally get this close?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: Sometimes.

Christopher America: How many rockets do I get to fire? How many tanks are there? How heavy is the launcher? Have you ever tried firing two at the same time, like one in each hand? Can you —?

Shevchenko holds up a hand.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: You will not be firing any rockets. You are not trained and our supplies are limited. Most of the time, if we can take a Russian tank without firing a missile and capture the men inside, then we can add the tank to our military.

America’s face and shoulders sink.

Christopher America: But you said stop some Russian tanks! I thought that meant, you know…

America mimes holding and shooting a rocket launcher at a tank.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: We can destroy tanks that way. We also use drones.

Clearly dejected, America continues following Shevchenko like a petulant child.

After walking what seemed like the length of five American football fields, Shevchenko and America came into a clearing. The remains of a tank are burning and a group of Shevchenko’s men are holding at gunpoint a group of what America imagines are a group of Russian soldiers, many of whom appear to be incredibly young.

Giddy at the sight, America turns to Shevchenko.

Christopher America: Can I get a picture like I captured them?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: No.

Christopher America: Can I shoot one?

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: NO! These are kids. They have been conscripted to a war that they have been misled on. We try to get them to surrender and lay down their arms and stop fighting. That way, we save on supplies and educate them against the hatred Russia has for us.

Christopher America: Come on! Can I at least ask them some questions? I want to understand them. For a story I’m doing.

America, clearly lying through his teeth, puts as much earnestness and eagerness on his face. Shevchenko sighs.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: You have until I’m done speaking to my men. 

America pumps his fist. He opens the pocket, pulls out his cell phone and activates the translation app for Russian. Shevchenko pulls two of his men aside while the others stand with their guns still drawn on the prisoner.

Christopher America: So, what’s it like to be captured by me, the most brilliant military commander… in Amer—in the Ukraine?

America catches himself, not wanting to start an international incident. The amount of times HOW’s had to clean up from his mess has been many.

Cell Phone: Я верховный лидер в Украине. Поклонись в моем присутствии! <I am the supreme leader in Ukraine. Bow in my presence!>

The three prisoners immediately fall to their hands and knees.

Prisoners: Пожалуйста! Пощадите нас! <Please! Spare us!>

Cell Phone: Don’t call our parents! We are very bad!

Christopher America: I apologize for my friends here. They’ve had a bad day. Cooperate with me and I will make sure they spare your lives.

Cell Phone: Потому что у тебя был плохой день, ты наслаждаешься им. Спой грустную песню, чтобы продлить «удовольствие» <Cause you had a bad day. You’re taking one down. You sing a sad song just to turn it “around”.>

The prisoners look at each other, bewildered at what is happening.

Christopher America: I want you all to look up at me, and repeat after me. Nod if you agree.

Cell Phone: Саймон говорит, говори, что я говорю. <Simon says, say what I say.>

The prisoners nod in agreement.

Christopher America: We surrender to the great general, Christopher America!

Cell Phone: Мы клянемся в верности Кристоферу Америке. Один полностью уничтоженный танк со свободой и справедливостью для Украины. <We pledge allegiance to Christopher America. One tank, utterly destroyed. With freedom and justice for Ukraine.>

The prisoners repeat the cell phone’s abysmal translation. When they finish, America takes out his cell phone, flashes a “peace” symbol and takes a selfie with the men bowing at his feet.

Upon seeing this Shevchenko marches over. One of his men whispers into his ear. He shoves America and pushes him away from the prisoners. He speaks with a growl as if he wants to explode with anger but is struggling to maintain decorum.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: We are not here to show superiority over them. We want to be left in peace. We did not ask for this war. Neither did they. You provoke them and now mock them! It’s degrading! You will fall back.

America attempts to protest but Shevchenko repeats the command to fall back. America turns off his phone and does as he’s told.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: You know that some of my men speak Russian, right? We understand the language.

Shevchenko turns and begins speaking to the prisoners. Almost immediately after Shevchenko speaks, the Russian prisoners stand up and presumably begin doing what they’re told. Shevchenko approaches America once more.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: We took you in, saved you from being targeted, and this is how you repay us?

The words hang there as America grows angry at being scolded by this Un-American dog.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: While you were resting, I was able to look up a lot of information about you. I found the company you work for. I saw their website.

It was quite easy to use.

I read what people said about you and thought they were exaggerating.

But then I saw your videos. Videos of you talking down to people, degrading them, their wife.

You’re an awful human being and a disgrace to your country.

America tries to speak but is cut off by the Pidpolkovnyk raising his voice.

Pidpolkovnyk Shevchenko: In one hour, you will be off my base and sent to your embassy. Finish your business and get the hell out of my country.

Shevchenko glares at America and walks away.

*******

I’m about to manifest into existence something that I think we’ve all seen coming for a long time.

This is my last War Games.

This is my last shot to win my event and solidify myself as the greatest War Games competitor of all time. The third and FINAL victory. No more ties.

But perhaps most troubling of all, is that I worry that… well, that this is Lee Best’s last War Games, too.

I legitimately am having trouble processing that right now.

I owe Lee Best.

A lot.

He took a chance on me in War Games when he didn’t have to.

And although Lee is not my father, I feel like I have a connection to him. It’s not love or fear. It’s not a working relationship. It’s something else entirely. Perhaps, it’s loyalty. The kind of loyalty that goes beyond money, that overlooks transgressions.

It’s just weird that way.

Like it’s weird that in all my dealings with Mike Best, Lee never interfered between us. He never stacked the deck one way or another. Anything that was done to me was done by Mike and Mike alone. Anything I did to Mike was allowed to happen.

And I don’t know of anyone else that’s happened for.

Lee and Mike are on the same page now and they’ve entrusted me to be a member of the Board and their War Games team. And while it feels nice, I feel somehow like I’m watching three generations of Bests hug each other in a crumbling house. And no matter how many times I try to replace the bricks, fix the roof, or just hold my hands to keep the door frame from crumbling, I feel like I am fighting an unwinnable battle.

The fruits of Lee Best’s labors will live on through Mike and Tyler, but whether his vision of HOW does is another question.

I worry that the patriarch of HOW is dying. 

And no amount of American medicine can cure it.

The one thing I can do is the one thing I should do.

I should do what no one else has been able to do for the last six months.

I need to take #97Red away from Conor Fuse.

I need to make sure that the title is put back squarely into the hands of a group of people who know what that title means and what that title represents.

And if she’s willing, if she’s willing to accept me as her bearer once more, I’ll bleed more for her than I ever have.

And maybe that will help stave off death for a little while longer.

Maybe that will restore some life in Lee’s heart.

Maybe.

No.

No maybes.

It has to.

Because if it doesn’t, how do any of us move forward?