Flashing bulbs, and a white backdrop, with a lot of colors in the center – Basquiat style.
“I had a dream”, I said.
“About who?” She said.
Sean Stevens shut his eyes and began to meditate.
I had this same exact dream a million times since you last saw me. I was in the middle of the ring when the bell sounded, and across from me was my opponent. He was big, strong, intimidating. His veins bulged from his arms, his chest was three times the size of mine and it’s going to sound ridiculous when I say it. Hell, it sounds ridiculous even thinking it. But he was faceless.
I could instantly tell that I was stuck. In that little space in my mind, between sleep and awake. I wanted more than anything to wake up, as my body jilted, and sweat dripped down my brow, and crept up my chest. My wife beater was drenched, as my heart beat harder than it had the last time I had this dream.
I was petrified.
I slapped myself on the forehead three times and beat my chest. I’m sure the crowd thought I was psyching myself up for War. Truthfully, I was scared. I wanted nothing more than to wake up.
The bell rang, as the faceless monster took an aggressive step in my direction.
I knew what I needed to do, I had to be evasive, use my speed, my intelligence … he was entirely too massive to go toe-to-toe with. He was like … like … Bane. I needed to run, avoid contact as best I could, tire him out. True, I was scared for my life, but I’ve always been a fighter, and some of my best results occurred when I most terrified. Besides, what other choice did I have?
I swallowed hard, then took a step in his direction.
No, wait … I didn’t. I couldn’t. It was like my feet were dripping in cement. I couldn’t move. I was stuck.
My anxiety shot through the roof.
It felt like a vein in my neck had ruptured. My entire left side was tense. What was I going to do? I had run out of options; he was getting closer.
So close that the odor of a dead body made me want to puke … but, there were no dead bodies. Not at the moment at least. It was the monster’s breath.
He pulled his clenched fist back behind his head. It was all happening in slow motion. My eyes widened as I prepared for impact. With full force, and bad intentions, he thrust that weapon of mass destruction in my direction, aiming squarely for my nose. Or my forehead. Or wherever. I took a deep breath, accepting my fate, but then it happened … at the very last possible second, I raised my forearms, protect my face, blocking the blow.
It still hurt.
Felt like that big son of a bitch broke my wrists. Better my wrists than my face, though.
He swung again. I blocked again. A pattern began to form. When he went low, I’d go low. When he went high, I’d go high.
It was then that I remembered a valuable lesson that I learned years ago, when I first became a wrestler.
Pressure isn’t getting hit with the blow. Pressure, stress, and anxiety comes from the thought of getting hit, which is a million times worse than the actual physical pain.
This … this wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced before. In fact, it wasn’t even that bad, now that I had gotten used to it.
I still had to be careful, though. Rope-a-dope. Talk my shit. Get in his head.
That infuriated him, and his stubborn ass wouldn’t stop. This motherfucker was a machine. Tireless. Fierce. His grunts, ever so intimidating. But even machines break down when they’re improperly oiled.
This would be no different.
The monster took a deep breath, then swung another thudding blow. But, it didn’t hurt anymore. And, I wasn’t afraid anymore. And, it was then that I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. To stop choosing to be on the defense. It was in that moment that I … that I …
… That I chose violence.
I began to punch, kick, scratch, and bite. Full survival instincts kicked in, and to my surprise … it was working.
Not one to back down, the monster fought back. He wouldn’t go down easily. Neither would I. Back and forth. Tooth and nail. Blow for blow. We stood there. Neither budging. And, then it happened.
Eyes appeared. The formerly faceless Monster wasn’t faceless after all. My fear blinded me from seeing what was in front of me. He was human, just like me, and you … and, in place of the facelessness that I thought I saw was a mask.
My energy was depleted, but with one final gasp, I lunged at his face, and with both hands, ripped off his mask.
And, then I froze. What I saw stunned me. I looked down at the mask in my hands, then back up at my faceless opponent. The man who frightened me. The man who I was afraid I couldn’t beat. The man that was in my way?
Then I woke up.
“About who?” Poison Ivy’s voice echoed from a distance.
Stevens, dressed in a 100% cotton, Rick Owens Moncler graphic tee, and faded black jeans, opened his eyes.
“About me,” I said. Returning my attention from the voice off camera, to you, the viewer, watching at home.
TRIPLE X: And, that’s good news for you, Rah. Depending on who you actually are. And, I won’t skew the truth, or insult your intelligence … apart from some of your latest work, I don’t know the answer to that. I haven’t studied you, your name doesn’t register to a time, event, or a specific era when I hear it, so I’m really walking into Refueled not really knowing what to expect.
“That could be a major fuck up on my part. But, here’s the thing … It won’t be the first, and it damn sure won’t be the last.
“I lost a match to Devin DeSean.”
Stevens lowered his head.
TRIPLE X: A talentless idiot of epic proportions. A guy that—,” It still stings. Just the thought brings a tear to his eye, that he gently wiped. “—a little ass boy that doesn’t even deserve to breathe the same air as me
“See Rah, you might not know it … but there is a specific era in Professional Wrestling that belonged to me. So, when I wrestle? When I enter a new company with the hype surrounding my signing to HOW? I have certain expectations, based on who I’ve consistently been.
“But, when I look in my bathroom mirror at night … I struggle identifying the person I see. I’m here because of who I was, but, I don’t know who I am anymore.
“So here’s the truth; I’m not competing against you at Refueled. I’m competing with myself. And, this has been the biggest, toughest, most physical fight I’ve ever had. And, in the process, guys like Devin DeSean … You … whoever. You guys get to add a name of value that means something in the professional wrestling world to your resume while I figure this shit out.
“If you lose? Well, it’s simple … you’re not as good at wrestling as you think you are.
“I am in the very worst space, mentally and emotionally that I’ve ever been in my life, and if you can’t clip me here, you’ll never stand a chance when I figure this shit out.
“HOW is supposed to be where the greatest athletes in the world reside. The land of the killers. Well, here I am, Rah. Fragile. Wounded. Easy pickings.
“I dare you.
“Finish the job and finish it quickly. Because I’m telling you, if you don’t, if you become a part of the solution that I’ve been seeking, you’re going to look up one day, and find yourself calling me your World Heavyweight Champion.
“You have the ability to stop all of that.
“Are you a killer? Or just satisfied wrestling close matches with the champions around here? I know what I would do in your position. Let’s see who you really are.”