Fatigue, burnout, whatever you wish to call it. Eventually it comes knocking for us all, just as the vicious monster Death will wield his scythe as you slumber.
Humanity is a terrible creature. Humans are always trying to push through their limits, trying to convince themselves that they will finally be the one to overcome the sheer exhaustion that comes pushing yourself to your very limits day after day, week after week.
I’ll check this last report.
I’ll write this last e-mail.
I’ll wrestle this last match.
The lies we tell ourselves as our body starts to break down on us. Our eyes can barely open, the weariness runs right through to our bones but we tell ourselves those sweet little lies to push on through.
Cecilworth Farthington was and indeed is a victim of such a mentality and had been for quite some time.
He won’t admit it himself but after he bombed out of the World Championship Tournament he’d made an executive call. The ICON Battle Royal would be his last wrestling match ever. He’d be unceremoniously dumped out of the ring by Scott Stevens or some shit and watch Jonny O’Dell usher in a new era of ICON bullshit, killing the prestige of that belt forever as he used it to dry hump a dog or some other act of extreme edginess.
Yet he won. Suddenly he was in a position he didn’t expect.
“Dan Ryan is a legend, a multiple time World Champion. He’ll beat me for sure. One last match and then I’m done.”
“War Games, no one retains their belt at War Games. Look at the Best Alliance, a murderer’s row of legends in the industry. I’ll see out War Games and then I’m done”
“An Infirmary Match at Rumble at the Rock? I’m not equipped for that level of brutality. This will be the last one.”
“97 Minute Iron Man Match…”
“March to Glory”
Every time, he pushed himself just a little bit more. Stretched his body to the edge of its limits. Every time it was just one more match and then he could finally walk away.
In stressful situations, people turn to vices. For Cecilworth, it was quite simple, that vice was lying to himself.
“Well now where the fuck am I going to live.”
The summer humidity had started to settle on the streets of Chicago and the HOW World Champion, Cecilworth MJ Farthington had not responded to the sudden announcement from his potential BEE EFF EFF that he was closing down Six Time Academy. He didn’t stick around for the shock and awe that rattled through the halls, choosing to quickly gather his stuff and stroll out of the building.
The problem being that he had nowhere to particularly go. Six Time was comforting for him, he had his privacy, sure but he was never alone. It was almost like childhood, a large enough estate to feel abandoned but with the comfort of knowing that you were never alone in the building. Alone and together at the same time.
It was the same in the Dickwood days. Farthington and Dickwood were never cohabiting but never far apart. Now? Well Mike had dreams of the minister lurking in his head, Lindsay was tied up with family matters and Dan Ryan had already arrived in France.
Farthington was alone.
Do you know how hard it is to be at the top of the mountain? It’s fucking exhausting and I’ve been doing it for over a year.
Make no mistake, I have been the sole man at the peak for quite some time. As ICON champion, I was THE champion. The World Championship was getting passed around so many times, I’m surprised I didn’t catch herpes the first time I kissed it. Yet there I stood, the first ICON champion of the new era, batting off every challenger who dared to knock at my door. Meanwhile, Joe Bergman’s bad breathed former persona had to desperately plead with the viewing public to try and convince them that he was HOW’s number one champion.
It got so pathetic at one point that Lee Best had to make the ring announcer STATE that the HOW World Championship was the most important belt in the company just before the bell rang at Rumble at the Rock. Think about that, things were so rocky for the reputation of the beautiful 97Red championship they had to explicitly tell people it was the top tier of the promotion. Can a single other soul in High Octane claim they made that level of achievement as ICON champion?
No, I was the one planting the flag at the summit of Mt. Octane. Not Halitosis, not John Sektor… Max Kael certainly could have but alas, War Games, she is a difficult beast.
When the bells chimed to ring in the New Years, the ball dropping down at Times Square I’d achieved something rather unique.
I held 75% of HOW’s championships. Me, alone. Not eMpire as a group. Me.
Hell, I never even lost any of them properly. An arbitrary time limit at ICONIC, a Freebird loss at March to Glory.
Since Refueled EYE EYE, every match I have fought has been a high stakes battle. A title has ALWAYS been on the line, my neck, my reputation, my future earnings have been on the line. Every single match I have had the target on my back, every single match I have had to be at my VERY best. I have pushed and pushed and pushed myself to the very limits of the sport.
The one exemption to this, the single solitary exemption was last week when me and Mike Best main evented against HOW’s best tag team. They said it themselves, they weren’t like us. They were a true team, they understood tag team wrestling and its nuances better than me and Mike, two people who had NEVER teamed together in High Octane before that night. Pride was on the line. Vengeance for their little debut sneak attack for one the line. My very safety was on the line.
Even on my first ever “week off” as a champion, the stakes were high and the target was large.
You’re quite right Mr. Murray. It’s exhausting. I’m exhausted.
Airports are never a pleasant experience. You’d have to be quite brain broken to ever look forward to the TSA line and the jam packed sea of humanity that Chicago O’Hare International Airport crams in, day in day out.
Sometimes, if you’re very lucky, you can get a seat by your gate. Of course, then the police dog goes and starts sniffing away at your balls, so even that brief moment of reprieve will be ruined within seconds.
Perhaps you can find a moment to escape and head to Chili’s Too. It’s a Chilis but also. Also what? That has never been determined. You can enjoy the fine foods like meats and also, vegetables.
Airports are hell, that’s the point I’m making here and this is where we find our newly homeless hero, World Champion Farthington.
Cecilworth is looking deep and intense at his phone as he scrolls through the contacts list. His finger hovers over the name and face of Max Kael. He looks tentative and uncertain about following through on the action he has decided upon, the metal teeth and cybernetic blue eye stare back at him, they almost seem alive. Surely that eye isn’t following him. Did Max set his picture as a gif? He has to dismiss his wandering thoughts because he knows the business must be done.
Cecilworth’s finger begins to descend down to the green “call” button. Perhaps they can talk. Perhaps he can eek out the real Max. He knows he’s hurt but… but…
“Can I take your order?”
The stupor the champ found himself in is interrupted by a smiling waitress in the hustling and bustling Hub 51 bar and restaurant. Farthington’s head snaps towards her, stopping his finger just before the call is made.
Farthington: Errr… sorry… what?
The waitress tries to hide the fact she is mentally rolling her eyes.
Waitress: You can’t just sit here sir, you need to order.
Farthington gives a polite smile, trying to give a reassuring wink that quickly devolves into an awkwardly long blink.
Farthington: Oh, yes. One food please.
The waitress throws her hands up in the air in exasperation.
Waitress: I’m getting the manager.
As she walks off, Farthington turns his attention back to his phone. This time he hits the big green button without hesitation.
No one is a champion forever, that’s been the familiar refrain from the day I won the ICON Championship for the third time. So many people on the hot website Twitter dot com, or in passing remarks on the High Octane Television network like to remind everyone that champions always lose their belt in the end.
That time comes for every man.
That’s such an interesting way of thinking, isn’t it? I think those who lean on that particular crutch, they aren’t confident in their own abilities. They aren’t telling us that they will win by being BETTER, they are letting everyone know that they hope to take advantage of the fact the champion is beat up and exhausted. They are hoping to win the World Championship through a convenience of timing, not because they feel they could stand toe-to-toe with me in a fair fight.
A bunch of fools arrogantly proclaiming themselves to be cowards and thinking it makes them look tough and powerful.
The mind boggles. Truly it does.
That’s why I keep pushing.
The person to finally end a streak basically unheard of in the annals of all things High Octane should be worthy. They should be deserving.
That’s why I fight through the pain.
“And the family has been informed?”
We rejoin The World Champion as he sits at a table containing a plate of around seventy onion rings. How it got stacked so high with that many onion rings is a mystery to any man or indeed beast.
Farthington: He didn’t have any? Oh… that’s… that’s not great.
Although the news he is receiving seems difficult to process, it hasn’t really sunk in or impacted the champ on any real moral level as he munches down on another onion ring.
Farthington: So, I don’t need to send a gift basket to anyone?
Another munch and crunch and a sip of the beverage in front of him. It’s probably an IPA or some shit. I don’t know, go ask Scottywood’s narrator about such things.
Farthington: How was I meant to know that would happen? I’m hardly a doctor. Look, I’m sure he’ll be fine. Lots of people go on to live successful, happy and productive lives after their brain turns completely smooth and frictionless. Just look at High Octane Wrestling’s own Melissa Joan Fart!
HOW’s dearest and most beloved current World Champion makes a few murmuring noises as he scribbles down a few notes on the pad next the onion ring mountain he continues to conquer. There’s a dollar figure at the bottom, circled three times over as the pen circles around it once more, we don’t quite get a glimpse of the number itself.
Gary’s fine. What’s a little bit of “intense brain damage” between friends?
It’s a fine line though, a tough one to walk. What separates a vicious competitor from a literal murderer? I’d say we should ask Mike but Kostoff managed to find a way to reattach his skull.
Lee Best’s War Games Team, such a catchy name, can’t wait to buy the memorial t-shirt. I expect they feel buoyant at the moment. My fatigue, my exhaustion, it’s hardly a secret, the whispering campaign at the halls of the AllState Arena has been nothing but a rampant success. Everyone knows that I took a two week break from television, turns out when you’re the World Champion, people tend to notice these things. So of course, it’s understandable that the cheeky chops of MJF, Perfection and Andrew Murray are currently in the midst of being licked.
Maybe they’ve already cracked out the champagne, it could be cause for a celebration after all.
Taking out the World Heavyweight Champion, what a stupendous display of team strength.
I’d maybe slow my role on honking down upon a victory kazoo quite yet.
Compassion is a problematic emotion, isn’t it? Show too much of it and you could end up creating a little bit of an opening, particularly in the sport of wrestling. You let the thought that you’ve kicked someone too hard, choked someone too tight, yanked on an arm too hard and you might start to weaken the hold or soften the punch. You give the opposition an opening and there’s always the chance that they aren’t quite as compassionate as you.
We already know this is true for the Minister. Andy Murray certainly wants us to believe it is true for him too. This new “rough, tough and ready to rumble because I said the word cunt once” MJF wants to board the compassionless express. Perfection doesn’t have the capacity to process his own thoughts in the first place. Certainly, given such a rogue’s gallery of flawed humanity, the inch given could result in a mile taken.
That’s why perhaps, perchance, an exhausted World Champion should actually be the biggest of your concerns. Too tired to discern right from wrong, life from death. I almost killed a man today and I barely noticed I was doing it.
Literal murder and it barely registered with me.
I’m not saying that to prove I’m a menacing psychopath.
I was just too tired to be aware of my own actions.
“Sir, you have to switch to airplane mode”
Economy seats are clearly the work of Satan himself and the middle of the row is saved for the worst of the sinners. Sometimes that’s the price you have to pay when you book a last minute Air France flight from Chicago to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle because you don’t have anywhere else to go or anything to do. Might as well get the jump start on the work travel.
Farthington must have performed at least one miracle in a life mostly riddled with sin as he had managed to score an aisle seat for his upcoming eight hour flight. Eight whole hours where he would be cut off from the rest of humanity, apart from the wretched scum that he had to share his cabin with. Farthington looked down at the blue dot that was staring back at him as the phone continued to ring, the intensity of his glare towards the phone implied he was trying to use psychic energy to force The Minister to pick up Max’s call.
Farthington: Oh, yes, I just have to make this call. It’ll be very quick.
The airline pursers’ shoulder sinks, it’s clearly from the tired expression on her face that this conversation is a daily occurrence for her. Just once, she hoped, she wished someone would just follow the instruction when asked.
It was hard to tell with a single word who had picked up on the other end, particularly through the more muffled speaker that Cecilworth had set the call to.
Purser: Sir, we’re about to take off. You need to end the call!
Farthington’s bottom lip curls up inside his mouth, resting atop his bottom set of teeth. The top set comes down and bite upon the lip. He looks like he’s ready to cry as he accepts he is completely powerless in the current situation and quickly jams down on the big red button to end the call, uncertain if he’ll ever get that lucky again.
Purser: Thank you.
Cecilworth leans up against the back of his seat, rolling the head against the rest, trying to shake out the anxieties that currently riddle his body. He looks up towards the ceiling and slowly shuts his eyes, trying to get a brief moment of rest on a rather chaotic day.
Then the screaming child starts to wail.
I told you this was hell.
I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know what new challenges the shores of Normandy are going to bring to myself and the Group of Death. Anyone who stands in front of a camera, writes a blog, or journals in a little black book with certainty on their War Games performance has never stepped into that cage before.
I’m sure our new colleagues would be willing to tell you that they’ve fought in War Games before in their many years of success outside the High Octane Domain. I’m not going to waste my time arguing that point, I’m sure that it’s very likely to be true. I was excited about my first War Games too. The big match, HOW’s staple. The anticipation, the excitement, the buzz. You hear people talking about it in hushed tones of reverence.
When you get in that cage, it’s a different story. Every single person leaves changed. I left changed.
I didn’t lose at War Games last year, I was on the winning side, I retained my ICON championship.
What I lost was a part of me.
What I lost was a part of my humanity.
That loss gave me success like no other has in the history of this company but I often have to wonder, at what cost?
I should apologise to your team Lee. I seem to have given them a very mistaken impression. I’ve led them to believe that winning every single match over more than a year is easy.
That is my failing. God knows I’ve put my body through hell time and time again but perhaps the fact I’d show up the next week to celebrate, the boast, to party and shindig gave people the false impression on the toll that I’ve paid to get where I am today.
I want your lads and lady to perform a thought experiment.
MJF, Perfection, Murray… hell, even The Minister – have you ever had to wrestle intensely for ninety seven minutes straight? No breaks for water, no timeouts, no breathers, just a straight intense physical battle for over an hour and a half.
Around minute sixty, you start to hear your own heart beat, by minute eighty you hear nothing else. The constant pulsing thud of your own heart thunks over and over in your ear drums, reminding you of your mortality. Every time you try to push yourself more to eek out the win, the ferocity of the pace picks up, you start thinking you’re about to have a heart attack. You can feel how red and flush your face is without even looking in a mirror, everything feels like it’s burning. By minute ninety, you’re certain that this is how your life is about to end.
I survived that match.
People can say I won, the record book says I won but I know better. I know I was lucky to be alive when that bell finally rang at minute ninety seven.
Those are the scars a champion carries, the burden that rests upon his shoulder. The years shaved off a life for another week at the top.
That’s the lifestyle you proclaim you wish to live, that’s the pain and anguish you think you deserve. It’s oh so easy to be on the outside looking in.
It’s great to see the confidence you all have before the battle horn is sounded.
Is it earned?