Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
The sun was setting here in Arizona. Another day with near 70-degree weather was about to end. I found myself seated on the ground by the fire that we used at night for light and cooking purposes. I was shirtless with my back leaned against a rock formation. My shorts and boots were dirty from the training I’d done the last few days. I’d be lying if I said that this entire thing was easy. There were times I wanted to give up. Times I wanted to pack everything up and just drive myself back to Denver.
My mind would mull over why I needed to go through with all of this. Who would care if I cut out on the last 3 shows of the year? Most of the roster, especially Lee, would jump for joy. One less pain in the ass. I could move on with my life and do something I enjoy. I’d have freedom and can live my life on my terms. But then the reality of it all made those dreams evaporate. I could just walk away from it all but every time I got up in the morning. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror I would see it. I would see the eye that Lee Best stabbed with a fucking pen. I would be forever marked by him and have to live with the fact that I simply chose to walk away rather than fight.
That kept me going. The feeling of all the attacks, of him thinking it was a good idea to urinate on me on live television. That rage inside of me came to life once again. That fire that threatened to burn me up inside consumed any doubts I had. The only thing that could put out the inferno that Lee Best lit inside of me was his life, his blood, and his soul. For me to be able to move forward with my life I had to extinguish his before the year ended. That meant I had to keep pushing, had to keep going no matter what he threw at me. That included Zion and Stevens.
I hung my head and focused on my breathing while listening to the sounds of the fire.
I allowed my mind to visualize what might happen on Monday night inside the ring. How would I move? How would I react? What level could I push my pain tolerance to in the middle of a match? Or I should even bother to deal with the team of Zion and Stevens? Lee Best was my target and everyone else is just getting in the way. My thought process was interrupted by the sound of Devin stomping his way toward the fire before flopping down onto the ground.
“I hate it here!” Devin complained while taking a stick to poke at the fire.
“There are worse places in the world to be…” I responded without raising my head.
“Nope, I’m pretty sure this is Hell!” Skylar said with absurd confidence.
I raised my head slightly and lifted an eyebrow.
“You have no fucking idea what you’re talking about,” I added in a flat tone. “You’re just acting spoiled because this isn’t about you and what you want. Hell is much worse than spending a few days roughing it in Arizona.”
“Roughing it?!” Devin shouted. “Is this what you call roughing it?! This is punishment! You might think it’s great, but I didn’t sign up for this. If I wanted to camping, I would have gone to fucking Jellystone.”
“Yellowstone.” I corrected him.
“WHATEVER!” There was a silence that followed for a moment before Devin spoke again. “I’m dirty, I’m sweaty, I’m tired. I’m sick of trying to catch small animals just so we can eat. This fucking sucks!”
“We only have one more day after this. Quit your whining.” I grunted.
“I’m not whining, these are legitimate concerns.” Skylar protested. “Why should I enjoy being here when I could be at home?”
“I don’t know, man. The fresh air and scenery?” I offered a guess.
“Fuck the fresh air!” Devin began to stab at the fire instead of just poking at it. “I don’t care about that when my bedroom has central air. And if I gave a damn about scenery then I would just turn on the Discovery channel.”
I just exhaled and remained silent.
“You know what else that home has over this desert?” Devin paused to see if I would bite, but I did not. “Indoor plumbing… I’m tired of squatting over a bush like a damn animal. My butthole is raw over the lack of good toilet paper.”
My face contorted into disgust.
“We brought plenty of toilet paper…” I informed him.
“Yeah, well, it’s all gone!” Devin confessed in a defeated voice.
“How the fuck…” My voice trailed off but Devin filled in the blanks.
“What did you expect to happen when I’m left out here forced to eat weird shit just to survive?!” Skylar folded his arms across his chest.
“I’ve been just fine eating what we’ve caught.”
“Well that’s good for you, but I get tired of spending all day and night chasing Jackrabbits around just to have food.” He complained. “Then I have to skin it and all that, so, I just said fuck it.”
“What does that even MEAN?!” I lifted my head and looked over at him.
“It means that instead of trying to outrun a fucking Jackrabbit, I just grabbed shit I found around here to see if it was edible.” He stated; as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“What would you suggest I do, Jace?” Devin threw his hands about. “It’s not like I can Doordash some real food out here!”
“And because it’s not convenient enough for you… you just decided to risk your life eating something that could kill you?” Bringing him here was a mistake.
“We’re already dying out here!” Devin screamed hysterically. “You played Oregon Trail as a kid, you know what happens to anyone in that game that got the Hershey squirts. The vultures will be circling our bodies in no time. I think I got spooned by a Coyote the other night.”
“So… let me get this straight…” I reached up and rubbed my temples. “We’re out of toilet paper due to the fact you’ve been eating fuck-knows-what here in the desert because you’re too lazy to catch food?”
“One of the reasons. Yes.”
“One of the reasons?” I narrowed my brow. “THERE IS MORE THAN ONE?!”
“Another reason is because I used the rest of it to make a bed for Malcolm.” Skylar pointed out.
“WHO THE FUCK IS MALCOLM?!”
“My new pet Iguana, duh!”
I rubbed my hand down over my face in disbelief.
“There are no Iguana’s in the Sonoran desert!”
“You’re going to hurt Malcolm’s feelings by saying that.”
“DEVIN FOCUS!!!” I took a moment to compose myself before I strangled him. “Why did you waste our remaining toilet paper on a lizard?”
I shot Devin a look that told him he was seconds away from meeting his maker.
“Is there anything else I need to know?” I asked, hoping for the best.
“I just told you! We need to go back into town for more toilet paper.” He answered. “And some real food, some magazines or something. Beer because water sucks, but I need a shower.”
“I showed you a perfect spot to wash yourself and your clothes!” I felt the vein on the side of my head pulsate.
“Dude, I have sand in places where sand should never go. Yet here I am, with endless amounts of sand that have gone where no sand has gone before!” Devin rants. “I have no deodorant, no mouthwash… my mouth tastes like this desert’s asshole. I’m bruised, I’m injured… I am knocking at death’s door.”
“THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”
“All I’ve done since we’ve been out here is eat weird shit and fight off critters left and right.” Skylar gestures around to the surroundings. “I’ve barely gotten any sleep because of all the snakes, scorpions, and other creepy crawlies that are trying to feed off of my body. I feel like I’m constantly covered in ants. Just look at me!”
Devin hops to his feet and begins to show off all the bruising and various scars or bite marks on his body.
“Since we’ve been training out here… I’ve had you run me until I was ready to pass out. I’ve let you beat me unmercifully with random objects. I’ve even allowed you to toss my body into a cactus. So, please explain to me, why the FUCK are you more beat up than I am?!” I pinched the bridge of my nose.
“The desert is trying to kill me!”
“We brought first aid kits… you’ll live.” I pointed toward the rental vehicle.
“Yeah, those are gone too…” Devin said sheepishly.
“I got bored and decided to play with them,” Devin argued like he was the victim in this situation. “I told you I needed television and internet access. This is your fault!”
I bit down on my bottom lip hard and remained silent for a good while. Fighting the urge to use Devin’s body to keep the fire going was no easy task at all.
“We’ll get up at dawn and head out to get the supplies we need,” I said calmly.
“And a shower! Also beer and Pizza Hut!” Devin yelled excitedly.
“Toilet paper and more first aid kits… that’s it!” I said in a commanding tone.
“…But no one out Pizzas the Hut.” Devin whimpers.
I laid down flat on the ground and decided to try and get some sleep before the urge to murder my friend got way too strong. My attitude toward his so-called emergencies did not sit well.
“It’s too quiet out here…” Devin whined.
I didn’t respond.
“I miss boobs, Jace.”
I shut my eyes as much as humanly possible while settling on the other choice that I had left.
Devin dies at sunrise.
Fuck me… where do I even begin with you?
You and Scott Stevens are like two sides of the same garbage coin. His being the delusional side of it and you being the fucking annoying side of it.
I’m sure you have some… opinions on things. And in typical fashion, those opinions were convoluted, incoherent, and flat-out wrong. I knew you’d go on some off-the-track babbling while juggling Lee Best’s nutsack with your tongue. That is the one thing where you never manage to disappoint.
You’re just… so fucking awful, man.
And yes, I know that’ll add to the millions of reasons you hate my guts. I wish I could tell you that I cared about your feelings. I try so fucking hard to forget you even exist. Alas, no matter what, you’re like the Jack that refuses to go back into his box. You said… things… so, let’s get this over with.
You told me there was no more love from you, Darin…
When the FUCK have I ever asked for your love?!
What does love from Darin Zion do for me? I can’t even purchase buy one get one free penny candy with your love.
Regardless, now I get the rage and jealousy side of Darin Zion. (Like that shit hasn’t been obvious for years now.)
And you made your best attempt to go hard at me.
It was cute.
Saying that I’m ungrateful, all of my accomplishments are thanks to Lee, and saying that I need the spotlight all the time.
Do you ever stop and listen to the things you say?
I already know that you don’t but still… it’s cringe-worthy, man.
You can say whatever it is you want about me and the things I’ve accomplished or speculate on who is the one who made it all happen. None of that is going to make the bitterness in your heart go away, Darin.
You tell me that I need to just fucking leave and not make a show out of it.
Haven’t you tried that? How did it work out for you?
You’re mad and in your feelings, Darin, because I am going to do what you never could. I’m going to make Lee Best pay for the way he treated me. Outside of Lee Best being the one to give you a high-five after you graduated from potty training at age 12, I know this is your wettest dream.
It burns you up inside. For years now, no matter where you turned. You always had to look up at me. No matter how much effort you put in… the things you wanted to accomplish just came easily for me. You had to watch me win countless titles and become a multiple-time World Champion. Set records, and win War Games, among all the other things.
And in your twisted little head, you’re upset because you think it should have been you.
The mistake you’ve made, Darin, is thinking that any competition between me and you was an actual competition. Your fatal flaw has been thinking that the gap between us has been something you could one day overcome. No human being alive can jump over the Grand Canyon on a running start.
As painfully obvious as it is, you still go running over and over trying to Super Mario Bros your way over that jump in World 8-2. Only to fall flat on your face and have to do the same fucking thing all over again with the same fucking results.
Hate it as much as you want, Zion.
I’m just better than you. I always have been and I always will be. It’s no fluke or any slight against you, that I’ve accomplished all that I have and you’ve been at the bottom of the barrel talent-wise since you’ve got here. It’s just the natural order of things.
Seriously, think about that.
When people think about Jace Parker Davidson? They think about record title reigns, holding multiple titles at the same time more than just once. They think about the guy who’s won every major PPV main event match that HOW has had to offer.
They think about the man considered to be one of the few faces on the HOW Mt. Rushmore.
When they think about you…
Well… there’s a lot of laughter and mocking. But then, when they’ve finally stopped laughing and tried to think of something positive to say about you. All they can come up with is ‘Well, he tries hard.’
That is your calling card. Darin ‘Try-Hard’ Zion/Matthews. Both inside of the ring and socially.
You’ve been so many different things here in HOW.
You came in as an Assassin. You were the bumbling fool. You played musical chairs with your last name. You tried to be the best friend to various people. You tried to be a ladies’ man and a father. You were the guy that put a Z at the end of every fucking thing. The Z network to ‘REAL LOVE.’
You’re the A to Z of bad gimmicks.
But you have a FATHER now. So… it’s different this time. (Haven’t heard that one before.)
Nothing is different, Darin. Nothing about you is ever different. You’re the same shitty Christmas present with a slightly altered design of wrapping paper around it, every once in a while.
You try to be yourself, but no one likes you. You try to be nice and people just find it unsettling. And now you’re trying to be the bad guy and it just falls flatter than a Trump Rally in Compton.
Look in the mirror.
You’re going around talking about me leaving for 4CW like you didn’t do the same fucking thing. I was just smart enough to leave before the doors were locked to get a head start on my career there.
You want to say things like I crawled back to Lee Best and apologized when the reality is that Lee asked me to come back and made me a member of the Alliance because guys like Hughie Freeman were worthless.
You rip me and use things like PRIME to do it. YOU were/are a member of the PRIME roster. You went over there, not me. How ungrateful was that, huh? Yet somewhere… in that peanut shell, you call a brain, you think that using that as an insult against me… (Someone who has never joined PRIME) is a worthwhile zinger.
You sit back and smile like you’re the living embodiment of the ‘GOT EM!’ GIF.
THIS IS NOT HOW LOGIC WORKS, DARIN!
You can’t tell me that all of my accomplishments are thanks to Lee when you’ve gotten more title shots than anyone in this era and then lost all of them.
You can’t tell me I’m throwing a temper tantrum, when in 2014 or so, you had a big boy meltdown on Twitter because words hurt your fee fees.
Just because you can parrot and mimic all the other things that are said backstage, doesn’t mean you have any idea what you’re talking about. But if you wanna steal buzzwords and catchphrases, how about this?
Zion, you are the living, breathing, definition of Fisher-Price.
You aren’t respected, you aren’t valued. You’re the comedy relief on the roster. You’re the guy we keep around so that the boys don’t turn on each other. You’re the person on the roster that’s here in case Scott Stevens or Xander Azula have lost too many matches and need a morale-boosting win.
For you… this is a mighty quest and you have something to prove to Lee and the rest of the world. For me? This is a mundane task like making sure I eat all of my vegetables so that I can get my dessert.
You’re the mind-numbing chore I have to do before I turn on the PS5.
That’s how it is, Zion. That’s how it’s ALWAYS been.
You can go through your mid-life, ‘I need a Daddy’ crisis while blaming me for your shortcomings. You can tell me that I’m perverting your relationship with Lee while sitting at your little desk drawing pictures of you and Lee together in matching outfits.
It’s always easier to point your finger at someone else than it is to point it at yourself.
That picture, Darin? It’s not getting hung on the refrigerator door.
You’re nothing to Lee Best but cannon fodder. You’re the mangy cat in heat that continuously presents its butthole to your owner, but Lee just turns away in disgust.
I get it, Darin.
My family situation sucked too growing up. But for Hell’s sake… stop trying to get Lee Best to breastfeed you.
You’re a grown fucking man that should be paying a mortgage and picking out a health insurance plan that covers you and your family. You’re a man-child that wanders through life looking for someone willing to give you the hugs that you never got. Someone willing to take you out to the backyard and teach you how to play catch.
Lee Best won’t give you love. I don’t need your love, Zion. I just need to you fuck off.
However, at the end of the day…
Are you a solid wrestler? Sometimes.
Are you dependable? For the most part.
You’re consistent the majority of the time.
But fuck… none of that matters because all of that goes out of the damn window the moment you open your mouth. Case in point, your last promo.
You’re like watching Tom trying to catch Jerry. Like Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the roadrunner. Minus the actual comedy and originality.
You’re just there, Darin. Always fucking right there. Too close for goddamn comfort to the point people want to smack you and make you go away. And you’re completely fucking oblivious to that fact. Your bizarre fucking behavior is just normal in your mind. You think that this is how you’re supposed to act, supposed to talk.
So… people get tired of dunking on you eventually and just let you be you.
They ignore the ignorance and the annoyance by ignoring you. However, you don’t like being ignored. No, your goal in life isn’t to win the HOW World Championship belt or to be inducted into the HOW Hall of Fame.
The one thing that you want… the only thing you’ve ever WANTED is to feel seen and heard.
That causes you to do the thing that pushes people over the edge. You turn the ‘Zion-ness’ up to fucking 1,000. You take your already annoying fucking existence and try to blow the roof of the building with it.
And it’s bad, really fucking bad.
It’s not even been a month since you came to the ring wearing that knock-off Final Alliance jacket and Lee Best is already regretting the decision to give it to you. And why wouldn’t he? You’ve become louder and more annoying than ever. You’re going around trying to attach yourself to Lee’s hip and calling him Father or Daddy.
And that neediness fucks you up every time.
Like I said, you’re oblivious to it. You see people laughing at you and then you start to laugh too like you’re in on the joke. You take ridicule and try to turn it into a comedy skit. But all you do is beat it to death. You make a point to slap that attention button so many times that it just becomes awkward to look at.
But you have a KNOCK-OFF jacket now.
You got a small scrap of attention that you mistook for love.
So… here we are. IT’S GOING TO BE DIFFERENT THIS TIME! (again.)
Somewhere in that pea brain of yours, you’re clinging to the fact that you beat me in a handicapped match before. I’m sure Stevens will be whispering sweet nothings into your ear about how you can pull that off again. That somehow, he’s the key to making that happen for the both of you.
Since, of course, he likes taking credit for other people’s hard work.
The truth is that you only won because my partners left me hanging and Lee Best felt I needed to be punished for setting someone on fire.
Unfortunately for you, Darin. Lee Best can’t punish me anymore.
How many times have you beaten me since then, Darin? How many times have I stood there as you ran head-first at me, swearing on everything holy that you were going to break that glass ceiling? How many times have you said you’ve learned from your mistakes and this time you’ll make it count?
Only to keep failing.
You’re not good enough, Darin. I am better than you in just about every way imaginable and that is where your jealousy comes from. You were a fish in a little pond back in PWX, but now you’re just a goldfish swimming amongst sharks in a vast ocean.
You’re a little boy trying to play a man’s game.
I am a fucking Adult.
Not some co-dependant toddler that wants to be read a bedtime story.
My contract is almost up. I no longer have any fucks left to give about suspensions, fines, titles, or any shiny set of keys that Lee can jingle over my head.
I’m a free man with nothing to lose, but has all the means to hurt Lee and everyone else around him.
At least with Stevens… he’s smart enough to know that he needs to capitalize on having Lee’s good graces for as long as it’ll last.
Stevens is at least going to attempt to use Lee Best to catapult himself near the top.
You… only want Lee to hug you and call you a good boy.
You’re never going to be HIS son. Hell… you don’t even rank above HIS grandson.
You’re just an easily manipulated fool who doesn’t know any better.
No matter how badly he treats you, you will jump and do whatever he says for the shot in the dark of him giving you a pat on the head.
A lot of people in this world are pussy whipped, Darin.
You’re the first person I’ve ever known to be Granddaddy whipped… but to each his own.
Sunday, December 4th, 2023
Tonight was show night, but it was also much more than just that. I finally left the desert and took time to enjoy the pleasantries of civilization. Shower, shave, a decent meal and I was feeling like a new man. I was standing tall now and was dressed for combat. I made my way across the parking lot of the Footprint Center here in Phoenix. Devin followed beside me while filming my every movement.
“I don’t want anyone to think I’ve forgotten what day it is.” There was a wide smile on my face. “I know someone is going to be trying to blow out a fuckton of candles today and drink himself into a stupor.”
I waved my index finger at the camera.
“Birthdays are a special event and this one promises to be the best one of them all for you, Lee.” I bopped my head side-to-side in thought. “Or… maybe not. Your son is the HOW World Champion… but he doesn’t want to put on a jacket and join your cool kids club. Your Hammer and your longest-tenured member are both going to fight for the belt that you always need close to the chest… but the odds aren’t good. But all is not lost… oh no, sir.”
A small chuckle escapes from me as I continue walking.
“You have Scott Stevens in the fold for the 10th time and now Darin Zion not only wants to suck your dick, he wants to be what comes out of it too.” I frowned a bit. “That is a disturbing visual but… these two men are going to team together and try to present you with my head on a silver platter as a birthday gift. We both know they are going to fail, Lee. All they ever do is fail, but neither just want to accept it.”
I sighed a little.
“I guess that’s what lets you manipulate them so easily. My issue with all of this is that both of them seem to think that this has something to do with attention. That all of this is about titles or Hall of Fame… some weird yearning for recognition.” I shook my head. “I know that this isn’t coming from you, because even you aren’t that senile. So, what the fuck is wrong with these chuckleheads? Do they pay any attention at all or has all cognitive brain function been replaced with elevator music? Either way… there are two of them and just one of me. The math works out in your favor, but this was never about numbers or logic.”
I twirled the barbed wire-wrapped bat in my hand.
“This is about you running more time off of my contract. This is you throwing expendable parts are me to trip me up from getting to the finish line.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Can’t say it isn’t a sound idea, but it’s still not going to get the job done. There is nothing that these two combined can do to keep me from getting to you. You could send every Final Alliance member and knock-off jacket wearer after me. And I’ll still be there waiting to strike when you least expect it. It might be your special day, Lee. However, you are living your worst nightmare.”
I take a couple of practice swings.
“You can run as much as you want. You can throw everything available at me. No matter what… the Boogeyman is going to get you. You can get the entire roster to band together to protect you. Hire the entire state of Arizona as members of the EPU. None of it will work, because this is inevitable. I cannot be stopped and you know this. Time isn’t running out for me as fast as it’s running out for you, Lee.”
I stop before turning to face Devin and the camera.
“Next week is the Go Home show for ICONIC. Can you hear the ticking yet? Can you feel that cold hand coming closer to your neck?” I slap my forehead with my free hand and smile. “That was a bit morbid for someone who is the birthday boy today! I REALLY hope you show up tonight, Lee. I wouldn’t advise it, honestly. If I were you? I’d be locked away somewhere safe, shoving away cake like it was my last meal on Earth. I wouldn’t blow out any candles because you never know what is lurking in the dark.”
I stepped closer to the camera.
“Most importantly, GOD… I would drop to my knees and pray to whatever or whoever it is that you believe in. Your stings might still be firmly attached to everyone else on the roster but…”
I belt out in a sing-songy voice.
“THERE ARE NO STRINGS ON MEEEEEE.”
“I’m free and you’ve lost control of this situation. Your flight or fight instincts are kicking in. Paranoia is beginning to spread over your very being. Stevens and Zion don’t need to succeed tonight. They just need to buy you enough time to think of something better. But that’s next week, tonight is your big day!”
“Your gift from me will be a brutal match that will rake in the ratings. I’m personally taking out the two main thorns in your ass in one match. You can rejoice and celebrate this special day, knowing that you’ll never have to deal with the likes of them again. I truly hope you enjoy this birthday, Lee. Trust me when I tell you… IT WILL BE YOUR LAST.”
I spun on my heels and headed into of the Footprint Center as Devin turned off the camera.