The bright lights shine down on the canvas to the ring. The air feels electric: that feeling one gets when you’re about ready to have one of the biggest matches of your career. The intensity cuts deep. It motivates you. Today’s no exception for your independent sensation; your tyrant of the territories. Even on my off days: I wrestled. Each and every match prepares you for the next challenge you face in that ring. You need to train harder especially when your next opponent always bested you in your prime. As my music played over the PA System, I’d be lying to you if nerves didn’t set in. Even your Tyrant of the Territories struggles with self-doubt! It had been over two months since I stepped into the ring with any opponents. The last match I had I valiantly defended the MVW Men’s Heavyweight Championship against Average Joe. I was off my game after pursuing my HOW contract. As I stepped up the ring steps and pulled myself through the ropes as my music died down. I stared across the ring. Without hesitation, I charge at my opponent with a full force clothesline as the bell rings.
Shock and despair hit me like a ton of bricks. I went down, but my opponent didn’t! What the fuck?! Hellbent and determined; I stand up and charge for the Enzuguri, aiming it straight for my opponents temple.
Still nothing!! Is this man a fucking monster? He’s still standing tall. I’m taking more damage than he is! He’s no-selling me! My anger pours out as I slam my fists against the mat. Definiantly, I pull myself up and walk up to him, laying chop after chop against his chest. Suddenly, my hand is tingling. Blood rushes towards it and pain continues to surge through it. Yet, my opponent still stands with no pain on his face. After holding my hands for a split second, I rush over to him, launching him with a snap suplex. That’s it! He should be down! I’ve got the upper…
HOW THE FUCK IS HE BACK ON HIS FEET?!
I launched at him with a series of German Suplexes. I picked him up for the Avalanche Suplex. I pick him up and body slam him stiffly to the mat. Yet after each and every offensive move, that bastard still keeps getting up begging for more. Sweat begins to pour down my forehead as exhaustion continues to set in. This bastard studied my style. He knows I’m headstrong. I need to bring him down now. I rush at him grabbing his head and I spike it down with my patented Ratings Spike. I lay on the ground satisfied with how hard the slam echoes throughout my personal stadium. Yet as I turn around and look up as I pull myself up. He’s still standing there taunting me. MOCKING ME?!
I pull myself back to my feet unleashing a fury of more suplexes and chops to no avail on this behemoth. I nail a picture perfect Russian Leg Sweep then take him down with a chinlock hoping he would pass out, but as I release the chin lock; he springs up ready to pounce. Without a second of hesitation before he could even hit me with a move I lock him up with the Sixth Star and plant him with the Sixth Star for the count:
The crowd roars as I beat him for the prize: one of the most coveted championships in the game today: my 24th accomplishment, the most coveted prize in all its 97Red glory! I realized all my wildest dreams!!! I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it! I’ve…
“WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?”
I snap my neck to find Meredith in the middle of my training facility in the basement of the beautiful cabin in the middle of the Lake of the Ozarks. Her arms crossed over her chest while she’s tapping her foot. She’s judging me! How disrespectful! She’s such a spoil-sport! I just won my coveted 97Red HOW Cardboard belt and she interrupted the moment: MY MOMENT! I toss the belt off to the side as she steps up towards the ring looking at my defeated opponent in disgust. She shakes her head as she voices her concern: “I thought you said you were training against an elite wrestling champion for your match against Brian Hollywood, you know the former TWO TIME HOW CHAMPION Brian Hollywood, the man who single handedly beat you left and right at Pay-Per-View event after Pay-Per-View event for the HOW Championship.”
I sarcastically smirked as I respectfully disagreed with her sentiments, “This man has a better track record than Brian Hollywood lately. He’s held one more championship than Hollywood has in the last year of his career. Secondly, show him some respect. He actually comes to practices on time. He shows up days before show time to fight. His work rate is double, no ten times that of Hollywood’s!!! He doesn’t phone shit in like Brian! Plus, you can’t argue: he’s clearly passed the Hooked on Phonics program. He knows which academy to show up at when asked to show up there. He can even spell AND say my name correctly. It’s Matthews! M-A-T-T-H-E-W-S! That doesn’t fucking sound like Zion, does it? DOES IT?!”
“Darin! It’s a fucking sandbag! It’s an inanimate object!” Meredith grabs her forehead trying to comprehend everything that went down. The sight looked like the picture perfect Ryan Reynolds facepalming GIF. She just didn’t understand I wrestled another six star match against an opponent with Hollywood’s credentials. I laid it all down in the ring having one of my best performances in months. Hell, she didn’t know I had more adequately prepared for this match. She needs to understand.
I sit her down and place my arm across her shoulder. “It’s a spring loaded 300 pound sandbag. It’s like I’m facing Brian Hollywood himself.. Only if this version of Hollywood ate as much Big Macs and candy like Bobby Dean did 6 months ago. Plus it passed the first grade…”
Her face turns red in frustration as she leaps up. She throws my arms off her shoulder as she speaks her mind. She feels like her entire world’s about to come crashing down on her; something she desperately worked so hard to correct over the past few months. She sheds a few tears as she feels I let her and her daughter down.
“You aren’t worried about Hollywood at all. You’re not taking him seriously at all. Don’t you remember all the wars you two have had in HOW? You’ve only beaten him once in HOW your entire career. Yet here you are minimizing the gravitas of the situation. It’s your first match back in HOW. You had a losing record when you got released from the company. I walk down to see you throwing around this worthless sandbag not taking it seriously, putting my daughter and I’s future at risk for some…some…Fisher Price tactics as your colleagues would say. How does that win you that first match back, huh? You don’t know how badly I need you to win. I need the prize money from your fight to give her a good home away from all the shit in our past.”
Emotions flood every fiber of my being while I sit and nod as she continues to lecture me like my emotions don’t matter. Anger, fear, confidence, happiness all hit every synapsis of my brain at once. But only one pierces through all of them as my eyes drop to the floor: disappointment. I flash back to all the classics Brian Hollywood and I had through the years both in and outside of HOW. My mind flashes to the times in PWX where it took 6 referees to contain us in the middle of a street fight for the PWX Championship. I jump back to the countless Civil War matches where we put our careers on the line to best each other. How in those moments my work-ethic outshined his work in every sense as I built my resume for HOW. Yet he still got the call before I did. The anger continued to swell inside me.
I clenched my fists as my eyes widened, my skin started beaming beat red as I stormed HOW that fateful day beside him to join up with Sex and Money. As that time progressed, I conquered War Games before he could ever fathom that feat. I took him out of the match to secure the win against Boardwalk Wrestling. How I outlasted him securing the HOW ICON Championship for Sex and Money almost conquering the second War Games match in that evening, yet in all my stride: He crushed my dreams and used me as a doormat to the HOW World Championship, burying my name and politicking his way to gold laced in 97Red. How cold, calculated, manipulative he once stood.
But oh how the mighty had fallen! He wasn’t that same man after the wars and battles throughout the years after he lost to Halitosis when the lights turned back on. He lost that smile and confidence he once exuded. He tried clinging to that former glory he once held in HOW by creating the Order and tearing down my career once again. He continued to fall from grace when he surrendered his wealth and fortune and still he struggles floundering around like a true Zion would do. Hollywood failed to grasp that reality and it sickened me. The thought of losing to this Hollywood made me physically ill. As Meredith finished with her last thought, my eyes locked on to hers, flaring with determination. My confidence in my abilities was not fake, but real and I spoke with a firm yet angry tone.
“That Hollywood you’re worrying about is dead, Meredith. This isn’t the Fisher Price version of him either. It’s the Mega Bloks edition. Brian “The Soft Jolly Sandbagger” Hollywood set to repeat the same old broken record song he’s always done. Always promising the same Disney Fairy Tale ending that life never gives you. Trust me, I’m redeemed! I’m redeemed! Blah it makes me so sick to see him trying to share hope.
He’s turned soft! He’s low balling those cruel, viscous intentions that got him to the top. I struck him with a dagger straight to the heart. And after I attack him all he does is call me Zion. He still clings tightly to the past like Linus does to his Security Blanket. Does Brian Hollywood need a bottle? Does he need coddling because he no longer rules HOW with an Iron Fist? Did Lindsay Troy’s dose of reality hurt him in the feelings? He’s turned into the Horatio Caine of HOW. He’s naive, weakened, still floundering around finding his “Basic Instinct” when he lost that “Killer Instinct” that made him feared and respected across the locker room.
‘TIME TO TEACH ME THE BASIC INSTINCTS?!’ Of what? Acting out a shitty interpretation of a terrible 90’s neo-erotic thriller film in professional wrestling with man who thinks he looks like Sharon Stone. No thank you! I’d rather be trapped in a shitty Woody Harrleson made for television movie than deal with any production Hollywood Enterprises ever produced! Not like I can find any of their shit on IMDB anyways.
He ain’t going to hit his banal catchphrase on me! I won’t allow it. Apparently I didn’t make his reality crash hard enough against that thick, stupid skull of his when I broke his nose! It hasn’t set in with him yet that he’s Lee Best’s first failed major experiment. Yeah, I just said that! He’s a former 2016 Best Alliiance member who got shafted due to his poor work ethic and inability to change with the times when HOW turned the lights back on. He couldn’t deliver a third HOW World Championship to the boss. He dropped the ball on his own merits. He’s failed to bring his A-Game back to HOW. He brought this on himself! Yet he’s begging and pleading with the fans to give him one more chance when he doesn’t deserve it.”
I finish my statement gritting my teeth in anger. How dare she care about her own well-being. I had Meredith’s back since I hired her. Yet another person who doesn’t believe in my 23 championship resume! Her exasperation told it all. Her arms flailed down to her sides as she gave up. She stood there speechless, holding her mouth. I scowled back at her stating “Don’t worry about your money. I handled it this week. You’ll get paid regardless. Just get your ass down to that ring. You’re my insurance policy. You handle the business manager duties and I’ll handle the wrestling duties. Now let me train!”
She stomped off as I shooed her away. Confidently, I pulled my sore body out of the steel chair. I glared at the sandbag dead in the eyes. My first title defense had come. And I needed to defend it against the former champion who still holds more potential than Brian Hollywood’s shitty mansion promos. It was time to go back to war with my old training rival and prepare for my big HOW return. I motioned towards it with confidence knowing this time: I would take him down with ease. And with that swift motion, the bell rang in my head. And in the back of my mind I knew: the war had only begun.
Two Hours Later
After a long, hard fought battle with Sandbag James Thomas for my 24th accomplishment; I pick my sore and tired body off the mat to train. More preparations are needed. I walk over to my weight bench. I load 200 pounds onto it and continue conditioning my perfectly chiseled body. Thank God MVW made me work my ass off for my MVW Championship! I grew tired of my own laziness from my first run in HOW. I lay down at the bench, mentally preparing myself to carry all the weight. It’s not like I wasn’t used to this idea for the last decade of my life. I’d carried the weight of every Brian Hollywood stable. Bench pressing was easier than that shit. As my frustrations swirled around in my head; I kept pressing the weight up with more ease. All my anger melted away and turned into focus. I needed it to defeat the former two time HOW World Champion at War Games. As I finished my first set of bench presses, the familiar ringtone on my iPhone went off.
It was Mario Maurako!
Hesitantly, I wobbled over to my phone to answer it. He couldn’t want to cash in his favor now. He knew this was the biggest match of my career at War Games. It was my time to seize the spotlight from Brian Hollywood. I swipe the phone and place it up to my ear as his stern tone echoed in my ears before I could even utter my first sentence.
“Matthews! I didn’t think you would answer. I’ve booked your flight to Los Angeles. Have you reached the end of the documents I sent you?”
Fuck! I hadn’t finished the entire document packet yet. I rush over to my gym bag and fumble through as I respond, “Of course, Mario! I didn’t forget I owed you. But does it have to…”
“Remember Matthews! You owe me two favors! You got your job back thanks to me! Your HOW career hangs in the balance along with your match with Hollywood. You think you can refuse to do work for me?” Maurako held back his anger as he sternly reminded me of the cost of insubordination. He had me where he wanted me. He knew I hadn’t done my homework. As I pulled the document out, I quickly flipped towards the end of the document and my smile slowly curled towards my ears as grunted in approval. Ecstatic, Mario responded back, “I thought you might like your first task. I happened to stumble across this information. It’s why I called you into my office. I figured you might want first dibs at this job. After all, I know your connections to Hollywood.”
Letting revenge fuel my excitement, “I had no idea! I can’t believe that…his past! WOW! And you trust me to do this?”
“If you want to be a part of my family, Matthews, it’s all about your commitment to the task. I wouldn’t take you under my wing if I didn’t think you had promise. For all these years, you only saw the small picture. You’ve charged into things without thinking. Now’s your chance, Matthews. You get to play Chess with the big boys. You can hit Hollywood right where it counts.” As Mario continued to explain the details; I leaned back on the chair, throwing all the pictures and documents to the job right in front of me. I wiped my hair as my jaw dropped towards the ground. The gravitas of everything Mario just gave me hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t believe I hit a gold mine with Hollywood’s past.
“I don’t know what to say Mario. Thank you! I’ve wanted to break that bastard any way I could. He took my dreams and crushed them. He ruined my career and made me take a step back, sacrificing the best three months of my career all to burn down a stupid arena to get him over. He made me go mute when I can talk. I hate him for everything he’s done to me. How dare my supposed best friend use me as a stepping stone.”
Mario pauses for a moment, mulling over my comments. You could hear him stroking his beard in the background. Calculated and cold like he always had been while he speaks: “Call it a learning opportunity. You’ve always sucked at playing mind games with your opponents. It’s your weakness. You charge in fists and mouth a blazing and it’s been your weakness. Prove to the world you’re more than that, Matthews. You’ve been all talk these last few years and…”
“Say no more, when do I leave?”
Mario chuckles as the email tone goes off in my ear. “Tomorrow! I knew I could count on you for this favor. I’ll call you with more instructions when you get there. For now, send him a message: you don’t mess with the Family.”
Quickly, Mario ends the call and I just sit completely flabbergasted, just holding my jaw; thrilled with excitement. I get to hit Hollywood where it hurts the most. Something even he doesn’t realize is about to happen. I rush around throwing my ring gear in the gym bag and start preparations for my flight. It was time to strike in the dead of night and it was time to finally teach Hollywood how much of a hypocrite he truly is.
“Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. It’s the only way to become who you were meant to be.”
We cut to a nearby cemetery where Matthews is dressed up in a Brioni Striped suit, adjusting his bow tie. He slowly removes the sunglasses off his eyes with a serious look plastered on his eyes. As he places them into his suit pocket, you see his two place gloves as he cracks his knuckles as he speaks with passion in fire in his body.
“I hope this video finds you, Brian James Thomas!”
You hate your shoot name. You hate it with every fiber in your body. How you utterly flopped in HOW with that moniker under Ground Zero. The thought of me associating your name with it gets under your skin. Yet that’s the resume of work you’ve put out the last few months. I’m Brian James Thomas! I’m the King of Vanilla Wafers! So bland! No meat! No potatoes! Just prison slop! We both know you’re not worth the name Hollywood any more. It died like my hopes and dreams of being HOW World Champion Darin Zion died 6 months ago. You’re not worth HOW status. You’re not worth the Fisher Price status you earned in PWX either. At least when you were Fisher Price; you fucking tried. You didn’t coast. You had confidence to stick it to the system. You fought to prove your worth and shit on the critics. You’re simply degraded to Mega Bloks: the shittiest version of toys out on the market. Off brand LEGOs that don’t fucking even stick together. You’ve become that: the toy that Grandma and Grandpa buys because they can’t afford the real thing.
What happened to the Brian Hollywood who wouldn’t settle for any setbacks? Or a 6-6 record? The man that single-handedly took me to my limits when we stepped in the ring for a championship match? The bastard that smashed my skull in when I stole his spotlight that no matter what ill-will he caused to my career I respected and would take me to the limits? Why did you kill that Brian Hollywood for this shittier off brand version? I’ll tell each and every one of you why! A shitty publicity stunt!”
Matthews pulls out the mysterious manilla envelope and holds it up towards the camera. His sneer grew more cynical by the minute. Matthews chuckles as he flaunts the envelope towards the camera. His confidence exudes through his motions as he stares straight at the camera, damning Brian Hollywood’s name.
“You’re damn right I called your redemption a publicity stunt. Thinking you’re holier than everyone else. That you could absolve your sins! I see everything Hollywood. I know everything about you now, Hollywood. I know how to finally break you. I have sources. You never bought into that shitty ‘redemption’ shit you fed the audience in the first place. You failed to commit to it. You couldn’t cut it in SIX TIME Academy. Shit never showed up to the right wrestling school to get back to basics. You threw out Executive Promises when you needed to stick to your shitty 80’s movie references. Sure, you popped the crowd when you hired your own shitty trainer. They believed you when you promised them change. You would redeem yourself on your merits this time alone. They bought into that change and you struggled just like they did. Hell, the pop culture references were a nice touch. You fought the ‘good fight’. But you never fooled me. You’re the same shitty person that lies and takes shortcuts to crawl his way back to the top. And your publicity stunt fell flat just like the careers of Max Stryker or Lucian Santangel.
And what’s worse! You modeled it after my life! My struggles! MY OWN REDEMPTION!
I came back to HOW nearly 1 year ago to erase the stench I created for my own career. Everyone shit on it and I bought into the false hope you sold me. But you once again sold my ass up the river and cost me my job. You disrespected my 15 year career where 87% of my career I stood out winning singles championships busting my ass and outshined anything you did. You only shined when I carried your ass. Look at your resume: 40% of your career you’ve had others hold your pathetic worthless ass up in Tag Teams while you floundered around and used backstage politics to stab those who made your career straight in the back. Yet you think you deserve another chance at redemption.”
Matthews turns his back and shakes his head while a small amount of tears gets held back. He smacks himself a couple of times in the face to toughen himself up while all the emotions intensify in him.
“I was the charity case. Not you! Your ‘saint’ of a grandfather paid your way. I couldn’t afford wrestling school. I didn’t have my family support me. Yet you took that naive idiotic bastard Zion and kept burying him left and right and you didn’t think you would ever have to pay the receipt to your sins? That’s bullshit, Hollywood and you know it!”
Sarcastically, Matthews puts his hands up to face and sheds fake “tears.” He whines as he speaks into the camera.
“BOO HOO! I didn’t listen to Alan Ventura, Shitty Pop Culture Reference Detective and I tried hitting a few Executive Promises when I shouldn’t have. I never got back to basics. I didn’t want to train and wanted to coast. All so I could get out of having to truly burn my past. I just wanted to live my past like Stiffler did in that shitty American Pie reunion film. I can relive my glory days like some fat washed up jock does, when truly I wasn’t the winner at all. I just won participation awards like the entitled prick I am.”
Matthews cackles as he continues to speak, pacing around the area.
“It’s funny, Hollywood. You’re just like this worthless generation in today’s society. You think you’re entitled to all the past and former glories, failing to change with the times. Yet you preach for years to kill your past and burn it down. You whine and bitch about it in every promo. Still you flounder around. Funny how things work, you never truly let your past go did you? You still can exercise the option at any time to reclaim that fortune and backtrack every word you promised these fans. You built a safety net to protect number one: yourself. While I killed off my past like you told me I should do after all these years. I finally see the light. I come around and I knock you ass around like a rag doll to prove my point.
Zion is no more! He’s dead! I killed him. I bought into those lies I told myself I never would buy. I laid awake in your mansion after I got fired for one night; letting the toils of my failure stew. I picked my ass off the ground and took an offer from a mentor in MVW and I improved. I changed in the last 6 months and I let my heart callous over. You didn’t value our friendship and used me for years. I feel no more connections to you. I owe you no more mercy. And I get to repay you for everything you took from me by taking everything that matters from you.”
Matthews just shakes his head as he sits down on the tombstone in front of him, looking at it pointing down.
“This time Hollywood I make the Executive Promise: I plan on giving you a fate worse than death. In fact, you’ll beg for it. But I will not show you pity and give you a sweet release. I plan on breaking you mentally. I plan on leaving you as emotionless and broken as you left Zion. You will walk around like a zombie as I burn your past to the ground and mold it into the glory I’ve always deserved.
So keep telling yourself you’re facing Darin Zion. Buy into the lies and doubt that past life keeps telling you about. You once stomped me out. You ended my career. You turned me into the butt end of jokes of HOW because I couldn’t beat you for the HOW World Championship. Meanwhile, I’ll keep training, busting my ass and obsessing about each and every way I need to break you and leave you in shambles in the ring at War Games. I’ll take you more seriously than I ever did. I won’t write you off like I did in the past. You’re a broken record. You play the same old hits 500 times over and over again. And I have answers this time. I’ve trained my ass off for the day where I destroy you in that ring and stand in MY glory.
But knowing your stubborn ass; you’re not going to heed my warning. You’ll write me off. You’ll tell the same tireless jokes you keep trying to tell the crowd to pop them hoping to write me off again. I won’t allow it. Take this tape as a warning that I plan on striking where it hurts you the most. Just watch! ”
Matthews picks up the envelope and clings it tightly to his chest like an idol. His laughter becomes more maniacal and sinister as he glares blankly into the camera.
“And I promise you, Hollywood , I’ll burn down my past and leave it in this graveyard: literally.”
Matthews walks off as the scene slowly fades to black.