“The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.”
- Arthur C. Clarke
Things had changed for him, but the building itself had not. No additional floors, no new coat of paint, no recent additions to the equipment. And yet, TEN-X as a wrestling academy and training facility seemed to loom larger than it ever had before. Inside, Christopher America could feel the butterflies in his stomach. He hadn’t felt this anxious since his first day of kindergarten.
As the car approached the building, America took a deep breath through his nose and exhaled through his mouth. He thought about the scene inside of the academy, all those people probably crammed at the door, waiting for a comment from him. What would they ask? What would he say? What COULD he say? He had no real answers. No excuses.
Again… he had nothing.
As the scene outside passed by, America caught himself rocking slowly in his seat, with his arms wrapped around himself. America blinked and stopped rocking. He looked up and saw Bill looking at him with a curiosity. Their eyes locked and neither exchanged words, but enough was said in that moment. Feeling shame, America averted his gaze first and looked back out the window.
The car parked and America took another deep breath. He opened the door himself and exited. He waited by the side of the car as the driver handed America his bag from the trunk. Bill approached from the side, iPad in hand, and waited until America was satisfied. America began walking towards the front door as Bill remained about a pace behind him. While he tried to keep himself busy with handling America’s schedule, he was noticing that the details of that schedule were beginning to fill with holes.
The lack of a clear picture grated on Bill.
As both men entered the building, half expecting to be mobbed, America bowed his head, trying to keep a low profile. A few people looked up to see who entered and stared. America knew what they were thinking. They were looking at him as easy prey, like he was just another wrestler, like he was the disgrace of the Chicago wrestling scene. America tilted up the collar on his jacket and rushed towards a private training area. As America entered the room, he was greeted by a fit man about the same age as the World Champion. He had tight, black TEN-X branded workout gear on.
Man: Ah, yes, Me-ster America. Welcome. I am Mateo.
Mateo walked over and extended his hand. America clenched his jaw and looked at the open hand. He felt a sense of disgust well up from inside of him. His hand began to shake slightly as it slowly moved forward. Bill noticed this as it appeared the World Champion was fighting himself. Yet, to Bill’s surprise, America did reach out and grab Mateo’s hand.
America swallowed hard.
Christopher America: You are… originally from Mexico?
America opened his mouth, ready with an insult, but he closed his mouth quickly. He nodded at Mateo.
Christopher America: Good.
Mateo clapped his hands together and rubbed them and motioned for America to set his bag down and join him in the center of the room. The two began to loosen up together in preparation for the training.
Three Hours Later
America and Bill began walking back to the car. America winced with each step. He was tired. He was sore. And in his own mind, he was still pathetic. America handed his workout bag to the driver who put it in the trunk. As Bill and America climbed in, America gently slid into his seat, trying to minimize his pain. As the driver opened the door to the front seat, Bill leaned forward.
Bill: Can you give us a few minutes? Thanks.
Bill slipped the man a twenty dollar bill and moved back into his seat. He set his iPad down and took off his glasses.
Bill: Are you alright? You’re moving pretty gingerly there.
Christopher America: I’m fine. Nothing I can’t handle.
Bill nodded and cleaned the glasses with a piece of cloth.
Bill: Your training sessions are never this long. I plot them out strategically within your day around your meals, your media appearances, and unwind time to maximize your body’s ability to function. When you… you do stuff like this, it throws off the entire plan!
America leaned forward, put his elbows on his knees and clasped his hands together.
Christopher America: Your plan didn’t work, did it? So now we try something new.
Bill stopped cleaning his glasses, put them back on his head, and looked at America with frustration.
Bill: Because of the match with…
Christopher America: NO!
America cut Bill off quickly.
Christopher America: No. We don’t say it. And yes. Because of THAT match.
The air escaped Bill’s mouth as he sat there in disbelief at what he was hearing.
Bill: So now it’s my fault?
Christopher America: Yes. No. I don’t know.
Christopher America: I wish it was your fault. I really do. It’d be easier. I could blame you. I could hate you. I could channel this rage I have AT you. But it’s all my fault.
Bill: So what? You punish yourself?!
Chris, you just took over three hours in a single training session! That’s not what I had planned. You didn’t take a break. You didn’t let up! You just kept going! You rushed your warm-up. You didn’t cool down. You practically limped back to the car! Your muscles have got to be on fire! Like what the hell are you trying to prove?!? You realize that if you keep pulling this kind of garbage, there won’t be a match at Lethal Lottery. There won’t be a match at March to Glory. You won’t be World Champion because there won’t be a Christopher America in HOW.
You’ll injure yourself. You’ll take yourself out of the equation.
The fact that TEN-X would employ someone that would jeopardize your health like that is… it’s reprehensible!
Christopher America: TEN-X doesn’t employ him.
Bill looked at his client with more anger and confusion.
Bill: Why would you hire someone like that?!
Christopher America: You don’t understand. No one understands.
America closes his eyes and puts his fingers on his temples.
I hear him.
He’s here, in this car. I hear his laugh. And I know that he could do it. He could go three hours. He could go longer. He could go harder. He could push himself and therefore I have to. I’m not the standard bearer anymore. I’m playing catch up!
And I’m not progressing fast enough.
Bill: Oh you’re progressing fast enough, alright. You’re self-destructing before my eyes. You don’t even entrust me with the responsibilities of handling your training sessions. You took away from me the ability to organize the clean up of all the damage in your house.
America made sure his voice was calm and measured.
Christopher America: I just hired a couple of new assistants to…
I HANDLE THAT! THAT’S MY JOB!
Like, am I not doing what you’ve asked me to? Have I not done everything by the book, to the letter?!?!
America was taken aback. In his mind, he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Christopher America: You haven’t.
There was remorse in America’s voice as he spoke.
Christopher America: You’ve done nothing wrong. You’ve been the best…
America searched for the word. Agent? Assistant? Servant? No.
Christopher America: …friend I could’ve hoped for. You’ve far exceeded expectations in everything. But I have to stop being insular. I have to stop hiding from the rest of the world. To win at Lethal Lottery… to win at March to Glory… to beat HIM… I have to explore avenues and paths that I never considered. I have to be willing to travel down roads that I once considered closed.
And that starts with them.
Alexei and Mateo will now work with me as my assistants in training as well as in cleaning up some of my messes both personally and professionally. But… they will also begin to serve another purpose for me. A purpose that will help me to regain everything I’ve lost.
And there’s going to be more.
More people from other countries are going to serve as my assistants. I now need a team to combat HIM. A team to combat the rising challenges ahead. The challenges of Lethal Lottery. The challenge of Conor Fuse and March To Glory.
With Mateo specifically, we’re going to go back to the drawing board.
We’re going to work on a new finishing move.
And I’d like you to take point on it.
Because I know you.
And I trust you.
America paused and let that sentence hang in the air. He knew what he had said. He knew the weight and impact of that statement. And he knew Bill would too.
Christopher America: Will you do that? Will you do that for me?
It was now Bill’s turn to look taken aback. He gulped and nodded quickly. He felt a mess of emotions. The elation of being recognized as someone he trusted and considered a friend. The anxiety and excitement from the opportunity to build a team to help his client… his friend… succeed. It was… a lot.
Christopher America: Good.
But now I’m asking you… friend to friend… trustworthy man to trustworthy man… please. Let me have this. Let me have this training. Let me find the balance on my own. I know my limits. But… new limits need to be set now. The Highwaymen are gone. An unknown opponent is on the horizon. The Vintage Gamer looms large. And I still stand in the shadow of the Russian Bear.
I have been running the World Champion’s race for over 200 days now.
And I felt myself getting sluggish… and complacent.
That’s why I lost.
The weight is bearing down on me even harder.
The weight of possibly being the longest reigning HOW World Champion in history hangs in the balance.
I’ve already stumbled once.
What do you think happens if I stumble again?
I need the strength to carry her.
Lethal Lottery can’t be it.
I won’t let it.
And so I’ll train harder and longer than I have. If I want to brutalize my opponents, I have to start with me.
I have to beat myself up.
Put myself through the paces.
Recreate the circumstances that forced me to become… like this.
And break through the limits.
It’s the only way.
I’m going to make this as plain and simple as I possibly can.
I don’t give a flying fuck what you’ve done to prepare for this match.
I don’t give a fuck if you are ranked number one or unranked. I don’t care if you went undefeated last year, lost every match, or went 50/50. I don’t care if you and I are the best of friends or the worst of enemies. I don’t care if this is the culmination of your hopes and dreams since joining HOW or if it’s the only chance you have left to make a name for yourself.
IT. DOESN’T. FUCKING. MATTER.
Because you’re facing ME!
I don’t care if you’re someone like Jatt Starr, a man who wasted his prep time for this match by wrestling animals. Or maybe you thought cracking outdated jokes for the umpteenth time was finally going to course correct and raise a ship that has been buried at the bottom of the fucking ocean for the last few years.
Let me guess, Jatt. This is the year, right? This is the time? Just like all those other years and all those other times were “THE year” and “THE time” right? Do me a favor and keep my name out of your fucking mouth. I beat your ass defending this championship and if I lost against… against HIM… then you’d get your fucking ass whooped by HIM from JATTlanta to STARRmenia and back again… and in far less time.
Or, maybe you’re someone like Dan Ryan, a man who returned and helped me retain the HOW World Championship against Clay Byrd. To you, Dan, I say thank you. What we accomplished that night, how we broke the Highwaymen from the very top, it sent shockwaves down to the foundations of that group of hicks, and rocked the foundations of HOW. It was a warning to all who stand against the Final Alliance.
You are sorely mistaken if you think you’re going to take this title from me. You haven’t been to the heights I have because you haven’t won War Games once, let alone three times. You haven’t held a championship… ANY CHAMPIONSHIP… as long as I’ve held this World Championship.
So, no disrespect, because I owe you a lot, but don’t.
You haven’t earned the right to analyze me. Or to judge me.
“No matter how much men like you and I…”
You’re soooo wrong.
Because you’re a man. But I’m a red, white, and blue force of nature.
Or maybe… maybe, you’re Brian Hollywood. You’re a man who has accomplished so little in the last year that you’re hoping I take you lightly. You’re hoping I treat you like others do so that you can sneak a win on me.
That’s not happening either.
You see, Brian, Lethal Lottery is going to serve as my rebirth. I’m going to strike you with such power and precision that you’re going to think I got a doctorate in human anatomy. Because that ring… it’s my operating table. And I’m the doctor in charge of your surgery.
I’m going to dissect you and bleed you dry. And then I’m going to take your lifeless husk and I’m going to fucking plant you into the god damned ground. I’m going to have them hose the ring down and wash away as much of your blood as they can so that I can then use the ring as a burial site and put your body six feet under. I’m then going to call whatever obscure law enforcement agency that always seems to be after you to come and dig up your body, collect the reward, and give it to your buddy Zion so that he can buy a fucking personality.
You don’t fucking want this championship because you do nothing to earn her. You know what separates me, a World Champion, from someone like you?
I show up.
Every week to every town, regardless of whether I have a match or not. Why don’t you start there and then come fucking talk to me about the desire and passion to be HOW World Champion.
Or maybe you’re Xander Azula. Maybe you’re a man who spends more time trying to be eloquent with speeches instead of learning how to put some weight behind his punches. Maybe instead of trying to nitpick the littlest shit in someone’s argument, you learn how to go out and be a real fighter. Because if Bergman’s Barn couldn’t do shit for you and Clay Byrd, my guess is it can’t do shit for anyone. Maybe instead of that harem you’ve got walking around with you, you get some fucking managers to clean up that scruffy looking, dog shit appearance, and actually try to present yourself as someone worthy of a main event spotlight, someone worthy of a shot at MY championship.
And to try to prove me wrong, I’m sure you’ll actually try. Oh sure, it’ll be a feeble attempt. Dramatic… but ultimately feeble.
Just. Like. You.
I hate defending my championship at Lethal Lottery.
But I understand the necessity of it. And that’s what helps me break my limits. It’s what helps me push myself beyond while you all still constrict yourself.
Lethal Lottery is about opportunities.
It’s a showcase for those without championships, not the champions.
It’s a pageant to show each and every member of HOW’s locker room how you prepare yourself when you don’t know who your opponent is going to be. Will you face a champion one on one? Will you be placed in a multi man match? Will your match be contested under normal rules? A steel cage? First blood? HOFC?
You don’t know.
And right now… with the Lottery positioned before March To Glory, I see what this event is truly for.
It’s a scouting mission.
Each and every single one of us are watching to see how the rest of us perform because that informs our decisions for War Games, for what comes after March To Glory.
So, I want you all to think about that.
You’re not just stepping into the ring with the World Champion, or the greatest War Games competitor of all time. You’re being given a spotlight to showcase who you are. To improve your lot in this company. To show that the pressures can’t get to you. To show that you are worthy of her. To break free of the limits you’ve placed on yourselves and rise above it all to achieve a glory you’ve never known.
I’ll do what I do best.
I’ll put the men and women of HOW down.
I will bring them freedom from those pressures. Liberate them from false expectations. And plant the flag of America straight through their GOD DAMNED HEART!
You all look past me and see only her. And I look past you and see only obstacles.
Roadblocks on my path to March to Glory.
YOU ALL stand between me and Conor Fuse.
YOU ALL stand in the way of me beating respect out of him.
YOU ALL stand in the way of me establishing The Alliance as the locker room leaders.
AND YOU ALL stand between me and my destiny of being the SINGLE greatest HOW World Champion in history.
But trust me… by the end of the night… whoever faces me…
They won’t be left standing.