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Perfection – Behind the Curtains
(Excerpt Copy for Publication Review)
“Off The Wagon”
Acts of Defiance- 2017, Defiance Wrestling. This is where it ended. The last time the United States of America and the North American audience would see me perform on home soil for over three years. Many don’t know the reason why, very few know actually- probably four all together in this industry.
Things backstage, they’re kept under wraps for a reason. So, when I say very few knew, it was just the ones who were by my side the entire span: Mikey Unlikely and Jesse Kendrix, and a few in management.
My North American booking wasn’t halted because I had lost my talent, we all know that wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t because I was gaining in age, interest had declined, or was lacking sales; I was putting up numbers exceeding what Eric Dane wanted.
It was because of my drinking.
A year prior to Defiance when I was at my peak working under that grifter James Wingate and UTA I was suspended. You might remember it. They wrote that I was suspended over using derogatory language in a tweet.
Let’s be honest, it wasn’t because of the Infamous Tweet as it was noted in public. It had nothing to do with the tweet but an incident a few hours before the tweet. Wingate, in his lack of being able to create original main event ideas, called to try and work a rematch against the gentleman I had just run a lengthy program with. Rebuild the fued, if you will.
I may not be the best booker in the world but even Ray Charles could have seen how stale that would have been.
Plus given my lack of respect for Wingate in general and fueled by a little rye whiskey, I let him have a piece of my mind about it and a few other issues mainly around the treatment of Dynasty. If there is one man in this industry who doesn’t care for your piece of mind it’s the Gypsy of Wrestling, James Wingate.
That’s all it took to receive a “violation of wellness policies”.
In his own words: “I’m suspending you and stripping you of the title. When you’re out of rehab we’ll revisit in-ring performing”.
And that was that. My contract was up in the air, the business I love stripped from me over a drink (or six) and the realization that I wouldn’t step in the ring for over a year if I didn’t do something drastic. There was no way to work even in VFW halls for Christ’s sake (I wouldn’t sink to this low anyways, it’s the principle)- not with the contract structure under UTA and certainly not with Wingate and the business climate between us at the time.
What else could I do except go to rehab? So I did. Or so I said I did. To be honest, I never stepped foot in a program. I stayed right here, in this very office I wrote these memoirs, and cut a fairly large check to get an addiction counselor to sign off on my ‘recovery’.
It worked. Wingate was too stupid otherwise and at the end of the day, after all that chest-puffing, he just handed me back the title that he stripped. Zero balls but he was a businessman. That I could respect to a degree. He realized what a bad business decision he made by suspending me. He quite literally tanked the ratings for the entire span I was sidelined. At the end, when my contract finally lapsed in 2016 and negotiations collapsed, so did the UTA.
But my drinking, it didn’t lapse. It stayed strong. I even drank before my interview with Eric Dane when he was considering floating a contract to me. In fact, Eric Dane was the only person in a management position to ever truly attempt to help me. Offered free counseling, made Mikey essentially an adult babysitter, and even offered to buy me an O’Douls after my first match in The House of Dane. Who the hell drinks O’Douls?
He knew I had an issue. I don’t think he knew the depth of it however. How deep and far off the wagon I had fallen. I was to the point where a few glasses of whiskey neat before heading down the ramp and to the ring were a regular occurrence.
It all came to head at Acts of Defiance 2017. After weeks of selling to the crowd and building a feud with Andy Murray we finally would cap it off. The big ‘go home’ show. It was horrible. Sloppy. Not because of Andy but because of me sitting in my locker room drinking before the match. It was bad. So bad that Mikey Unlikely had to knock on my door and help me to the Gorilla position without Eric Dane noticing my condition.
Andy was not pleased. The danger I was putting him in had him furious. I don’t blame him, not one bit. I can count on two hands the amount of times he came within inches of breaking his neck because I was too drunk to protect him.
Fifteen minutes of Andy not knowing if the next move would leave him permanently paralyzed. We were meant to go twenty-five and he had enough, the entire ending was scraped. I wasn’t going over and Andy made the call there in the ring to protect his career and body over my push. He pinned me flat out and that was that.
Again, I don’t blame him.
I also don’t blame him for what happened once we returned to the Gorilla position. As I came back first all I saw was Dane, Mikey, and Kendrix. Eric was livid. I’ve never seen the man at the point he was, as though all the veins in his face were going to rupture at once.
That was the least of my worries, what came next should have been expected. I wasn’t even a quarter of my way down the tunnels and there was Cayle Murray getting in my face as I tried to stumble back to my locker room. Dane was still following behind me screaming up and down that I’m “through here” and then a cold hard fist that sent me to the ground followed up with some more while I was down.
It wasn’t personal. It was business. Andy takes his business seriously, he takes the business in general seriously and for me to disrespect the ring, the business, and others with my drunken idiocy made him snap.
Same for Eric.
I woke up in a hotel room a few hours after that. Mikey Unlikely swung by to tell me what had happened in full after I was laid out by Andy. That Eric Dane had rescinded my contract out right and I was to never contact him again.
I was out of work. For now.
Los Angeles, California
Saturday, the Twenty-First of March, Twenty-Twenty
Thirty Minutes Past 2 P.M.
One of the benefits of James Withhold’s lifestyle is having his own personal indoor golf simulator and you better believe he is practicing on it right now. Twenty-four hours before the group known as 24K is set to fly off to Rome and there will be zero room for error when the four play Circolo at some point during the week. Nice beautiful swing from Perfection who’s wearing golf pants and the 24k Edition Hollywood Bruvs t-shirt. He holds his pose for a few seconds and turns around. Walking towards us the camera zooms back revealing a small round bar table which hosts his phone and a glass of something. Probably a spiked Arnold Palmer given the situation.
“Do you know what I love more than anything else in the world? Chaos. Chaos is what I love. When I read that this card is now ‘subject to change’ I can only imagine what it means. I can only imagine what stipulations The GOD of HOW is drawing up in his dungeon. The endless possibilities…the chaos that will ensue… but most important from that announcement is these keywords from Lee Best himself-“
James looks down at his gold iPhone 11 Pro Max, gold of course, to read a single line from the statement.
“The HOW Tag Team Titles are gonna be a major focus of the company…”
He sets the phone down on the table. Eyes shifting back to us.
“Read that a few times and then take a good look at the state of the tag teams here. Some of the best to ever pair up in this business all under one roof, just like Lee said. It’s actually goddamn exciting. Reminds you of the early to mid 2000’s- great times.”
Ah the best of times. Perfection stands as though he is rummaging through wrestling history in his brain. A deep breath and back to task.
“Some would say that is the greatest period of tag team wrestling ever. Which reminds me of the eGG Bandits with a history and a tag team legacy. A solidified name in this style of wrestling, you guys have traveled the circuit for years and have reached great heights.”
The sincerity ends quicker than it began.
“But it’s no Hollywood Bruvs. It’s no 24k, Andy Murray and Perfection. Granted, I like you guys, truly I do. Always have. There’s a difference though between me enjoying watching you as fellow competitors in that ring and being in that ring with me as competitors. Being in that ring with us… 24k.”
There it is! Early this time. Single index finger at midchest.
“Same goes for HATE. What everyone in this division saw against Mamba and Stevens’ was nothing. There was no championship gold on the line. Now there is. Now we, 24k, the Bruvs, we’re fighting to prove our word. Hell, we have to fight harder than anyone else.”
And the finger turns down and lands down on the table next to the phone. Signature Perfection point making.
“We have to fucking prove we say what we mean and mean what we say. We have to step in that ring, into the unknown with everything ‘subject to change’, four of us all with one goal – bringing the belts home at all costs. This isn’t just a tag team title match for us, for 24k as a whole.”
Now he’s getting hyped. Energy is flowing as James continues.
“This IS the tag team title match! March to Glory couldn’t have been a more fitting title for this pay-per-view. Especially when you witness 24k walk out with HOW gold in only two short months of arrival!”
Witherhold looks like there’s no stress at all on his shoulders.
“To think this isn’t one of the biggest matches in the recent history of this company would be a total and complete lie. It is. History is about to be written and forever stamped into the flesh of HOW- Stamped 24k.”
The smug nature of Perfection is oozing.
“I say it’s a once in a lifetime chance. Think about it- GoD can freebird the titles, so, how many chances in this world does one have to beat not only Dan Ryan but also Lindsay Troy for the HOW Tag Team belts?”
“Not many. Especially two belts that are going to glisten under HOW’s spotlight.”
James makes a circle motion with his index finger.
“Let me circle back for all of you and remind you what Lee Best said: the HOW Tag Team Titles that now sit idly on the waists of GoD are going to be a major focus of the company. Dare I correct him, and I will, by saying that those titles which all of us covet, WILL be the major focus of this company…”
Light smirk from Perfection.
“Once they’re wrapped around our waists- 24k’s waists, Hollywood Bruvs waists, it doesn’t matter whose as long as they’re secured around two of us! That’s not to disregard the people that stand between us four and the belts, trust me we recognize the threat each of you poses.”
He now nods reassuringly.
“Especially with stipulations hanging over everyone’s heads. We’re not naive however to also ignore that the biggest target isn’t on Dan and Lindsay. It’s on us- I get it, I do. We’re the outsiders ruffling feathers. Our names are headlined over yours even after months… in some cases years, of busting your asses here. Every time you walk out to do your job and come down the ramp there’s almost an entire sea of fans with our merch- chanting our name. I can understand the jealousy and animosity.”
Both hands go up in a quasi-honest surrender.
“But… before you gentlemen decide to just flat out pounce and attempt to deny us tag team gold let me remind you of something- HATE, eGG Bandits. It wasn’t 24k- it wasn’t Mikey Unlikely, it wasn’t Kendrix, it wasn’t Andy Murray, and it sure as hell wasn’t me that decided to pull all the belts into one group. It’s not us trying to play a game of ‘keep away’. It’s Group of Death. It suits their reputation.”
Perfection looks earnestly into the camera.
“I work and believe in reputation, gentlemen. The eGG Bandits have a reputation. HATE is trying to establish a reputation. 24k- the gold standard of reputation. Reputation is everything in this business. Hell, it’s everything in life. I’m not here to preach, I’m opening your eyes to the understanding of how important reputation is and how it carries with you.”
The honesty coming off of James is disgusting.
“Let’s take yours truly, I have a reputation that follows me. Not the best of reputations but it comes with payoffs. Risk for the contract holder and reward for me. My reputation though isn’t that I’m the greatest technical wrestler on this planet… which I am.”
Witherhold and everyone watching knows it’s true. There’s zero doubt that he is indeed one of the greatest matmen of this era.
“No, I have the reputation of being a giant fucking dick – which is fair because it’s true. I am a dick. I also have the reputation of being a lush. Again, 100% accurate and not one bit of shame about it.”
A real wave of the hand, pure I don’t give a shit before he sips his drink.
“Do you know what I don’t have the reputation of however? Hell what all of us- HATE, eGG Bandits, most importantly 24k, don’t have the reputation of?”
He leans forward to let us all in on the secret.
“Almost killing this very business we all love.”
James now leans back to where he was.
“Which is why I find Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy joining Mike Best’s band of misfits the absolute pinnacle of irony. They formed the Group of Death and killed The Industry. If only that wasn’t so close to the actual truth”
Perfection lifts his hand in a ‘hold on’ fashion.
“Listen- Dan Ryan is a terrific wrestler, let’s not take that away from him. So is Lindsay Troy. Both equally great in their own rights as people who can work the ring and their opponents. That’s not their reputation though… as much as they’d love it to be.”
Witherhold almost looks bewildered by it all.
“Dan Ryan, despite all his ring acumen. Despite all his years of putting in hard work in this sport. Almost killed this very industry alongside his tag team partner Lindsay Troy. That’s his reputation.”
Hate him or love him, it’s his truth and James is preaching it like gospel.
“Group of Death isn’t just a moniker, it’s a way of life for Dan: Empire Pro, CSWA, Global Wrestling Evolution, New Frontier, his overreach and ousting at Defiance, and apparently now here at High Octane.”
Perfection just mouths the word ‘wow’.
“One… by…. one everything that Dan Ryan has touched is either dead, shattered, or left a shell of what it once was.”
Both his arms come up to shoulder height and out.
“And by his side EVERYWHERE he went, like a permanent leech on his asshole, was ‘Queen of the Ring because I ride Dan’s Coattail’ Lindsay Troy. A person who would have been a nobody if Dan Ryan didn’t cuck out his success for her. It hurts, Linds, because it’s true.”
Now his hands clap together and with fingers joined they point towards the lens.
“They have a reputation of being locusts, gentlemen. Jumping from promotion to promotion, crop to crop and by their own ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance end up starving the business dead. You know it, I know it, everyone in this fucking industry and who buys a ticket knows it!”
A disappointing look while James positions himself to the side of the table so we can get a good view of the Bruvs shirt. Marketing. He continues a bit more upbeat.
“Thankfully there’re people like me, like my brothers in 24k, who are one match away from chipping away a bit of their power. One match and one win away from beginning to balance everything out before the locusts leave nothing for the rest of you as is their M.O.”
He nods like a martyr.
“You’re welcome, gentlemen but most importantly HOW in general.”
One side of his mouth curls to a smirk.
“That’s why Lee’s words are everything, Dan & Lindsay. NOW the HOW Tag Titles are going to be a focal point. Not when and because GoD held the belts. Newsflash, assholes, he didn’t make this grandiose statement about the greatness of the tag team division after you decided to make the largest circle jerk known to man.”
Perfection begins radiating confidence and just pure, beautifully constructed, assholeism as he continues.
“Maybe a lack of confidence? I don’t know. I’m not Lee Best. It sure as hell wasn’t the focus just because of Red and Ted, HATE, Stevens and Mamba, or the eGG Bandits, no offense to any of you… but… it’s the focus NOW because of 24k! It’s been every single fan’s focus the minute we graced them with our presence and now the hottest, sexiest, most MANLY stable in all of wrestling can’t stop being uttered by the masses. It’s literally…”
He points at the camera again.
“…24k, 24/7, baby and the same will happen when we step foot in Rome!”
James smiles wide. Pearly whites baby, the walking Colgate advertisement.
“They’re all ready for a shake up, they want change. They are clamoring for any two out of the four greatest wrestlers in this business to walk out with the HOW Tag Team Titles. Hear what I said there? I didn’t say GoD’s belts, Dan & Lindsay and I didn’t say our belts. It’s the company’s belts.”
Perfection lifts his phone, presses around, and the simulator shuts off.
“Everything Lee Best has said is about the FUTURE of this company- of HOW. It’s about going forward. Establishing his company in a new era with new life around the HOW Tag Team Titles. Not around a relic of destruction and self-serving motives as you’ve done your entire career, Dan.”
Now the tone has changed to more aggressive and agitated.
“Not focused on a parasite that hangs off others success. That only has a name because her brother-in-law was handed a wrestling company named Empire Pro and forced her down everyone’s throats, Lindsay.”
Perfection picks up his phone and slides it into his pocket. He takes a step away from the table and approaches the camera.
“That’s the past. That’s the dark ages, a period of shame in this business. You’re looking at the FUTURE of HOW… of this industry! You’re looking at pure gold!”