Life is never as simple as you want it to be. Take Evan Ward for example. All he wanted to do was come back to HOW and take out violent revenge on everyone who crossed him over the last 6 months, while also having the time to recover from his grievous leg injury from his match at 97Red and all the psychological trauma stemming from his catatonic period. Also win the lottery. Maybe get given a title shot against STRONK! after the big guy had been force fed a ton of ketamine and laxatives. Yes. Laxatives. Was all that really too much to ask? Evan didn’t think it was, but who was he to say?
No, life was never that simple, Evan decided as he finished up his reps on one of those weight machines which you push against a platform with your legs. Your humble narrator has never stepped foot in a gym, so please forgive his ignorance of what gym equipment is called. Evan wasn’t pushing much weight, but the repeated exercise was building up the lost strength in his legs again. Rehab had been going well, all things considering, but he was still far from being 100%. His left leg was still weak from months of atrophy after War Games while his right was still totally fucked. The doctors were very concerned about Evan competing with such a major injury, they had mentioned something about nerve and tissue damage which would be exacerbated if he didn’t take time off and let it heal properly. They had said it could limit the leg’s movement, reduce its feeling or even reduce the blood flow, which are all rather bad for a wrestler who needs his leg to move fast and well. Eh, it wasn’t like Evan had any choice in the matter, life was never that simple.
He pushed the platform out, holding the weight for as long as he could. His muscles shook with the tension, knuckles turning white as they gripped the handholds in an attempt to eek out the extra strength to hold the weights up for longer. With a grunt of frustration Evan relaxed his legs and the weights slammed down with a thunk. He rubbed his injured leg, the muscles felt like fire and the joints felt like grinding rocks together. Still, it was much better than it was a week ago.
“You really have to take it easy, bruh.” Leon dropped a towel around Evan’s shoulders. Leon was in his early 20’s, a typical gym life-styler with toned and sculpted muscles for the looks and not the function, a baggy tank-top wearing, bleach-blonde haired poser. He was also the physiotherapist assigned to help Evan with his rehab, fresh out of college. Evan didn’t like the guy, partly because he didn’t trust people born this century but also because the lad’s parents obviously didn’t like him giving him that name when his surname was Ardo. Why couldn’t he have gotten Donald Augustus Tello as his physio? “You shouldn’t push yourself so hard.”
“No pain, no gain, isn’t that what you gym monkeys say?” Evan scoffed as he wiped the sweat off him.
“Yeah, nah, bruh.” Leon replied, confusingly. “That’s only for fit and healthy work outs. Rehab’s different. It’s more like too much pain and you lose your gain and, bruh, I can tell you’re in a lot of pain.”
Evan had winced as he stood up, which Leon had picked up on despite Evan trying to style it out. “I’ve had worse. A lot worse. I can move just fine on it… Not as well as I used to but good enough.”
“Bruh, that’s half the problem.” Leon put a hand on Evan’s shoulder and looked into his eyes in the sort of mentor-like way. Evan was glad, but only about the fact he didn’t have a baseball bat in his hands because getting arrested for beating the shit out of this dudebro would really put a downer on his chances of beating Dan Ryan on Chaos. “You keep pushing and pushing, you’re building up strength but you ain’t chilling at all. That bone’s gotta mend itself, man, and mend properly. You saw your x-rays. Those big old displaced fractures were one thing, you snapped them good, but all those stress fractures… bruh. This isn’t the first time you’ve fucked that leg up and you’ve never let it heal properly.”
“Never had much of an opportunity.” Evan batted the hand off his shoulder and walked over to the bench where his street clothes laid. “In my line of business we don’t have that luxury. We don’t work, we don’t get paid. We heal up as best as we can in the time we can and just get on with it.”
“In your line of work, bruh, if you fuck your legs you don’t have a job.” Leon imparted a piece of wisdom as if it was something not painfully obvious to the whole world. “This time you might be able to work through it. This time, bruh, you might be able to recover to just about how you were, but what about next time? The time after? If you don’t take care of yourself, bruh, you’ll end up a cripple with nothing. What’s a few missed paychecks compared to the end of your career?”
Evan stopped packing his clothes into a duffel bag and looked over at his physiotherapist with a disapproving glare.
“My career’s ended so many times, what’s one more?” Evan’s dismissive attitude betrayed the sourness he held to his life right now. While he was far from an old man, he had certainly become bitter. Any concerns for his own wellbeing had been crushed under the weight of his desire for retribution. “Leon, I was dying at the start of the year. The fact I’m alive now is a miracle and I’m not going to waste this gifted time sitting on my arse waiting for shit to happen and magically get better. Yeah my career could end then next time my leg snaps, or the time after. It could end tomorrow tripping down the stairs. Whatever, man. I’ve got goals I need to achieve and they’re not waiting for my leg to get better.”
Leon sighed, deeply frustrated at his patient’s lack of patience. “At least keep up with your sessions with Dr. Garp. He said you haven’t turned up to your last two. Mental health is no joke, bruh, you need a good head on your shoulders. You can’t put it off forever, bruh.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll give him a call and arrange a session.” Evan waved over his shoulder as he hefted his bag and strode out the room without sparing Leon another look. “Catch you next week.”
Evan had had enough of rehab and therapy and all the nonsense everyone kept telling him he needed to do. He felt like a kid again. Evan, do this. Evan, do that. Evan you can’t do that. Evan, do you know what will happen to you if you don’t listen? Evan do you even care? Fuck no, he didn’t care. He didn’t give a shit what people were telling him because he knew his body and he knew his mind. What could these so-called experts possibly do for him that he can’t do for himself? It was just an utter waste of time.
Evan sighed as he left the gym building and leaned up against the red brick wall. He guessed he had better make the call. Evan hated having to suck up his pride like this and but he knew it was for the best. He pulled out his phone and dialed the number. He studied his fingers intently as the phone buzzed, waiting for the call to be answered.
“Yo.” Evan said when it finally picked up.
“Fuck off you pissy little shit.” Came the response from the other end and it hung up.
Evan looked indignant. He couldn’t believe that was the knee jerk reaction to the call. He made his phone redial with some angry screen jabbing.
“What the fuck, man?” Evan said scathingly into the phone. “That was so fucking unprofessional.”
“Fuck you, Ward.” The gravelly voice replied. “You fucking fobbed me off and no you’re fucking calling me like nothing fucking happened? You expect me to fucking jump to attention just because you fucking need something from me?”
“Shut the fuck up, Trent.” Ward rolled his eyes. “You got what was coming to you. You work for me, remember? It’s literally your bloody job to do what I tell you to do. Anyway, what’s the fucking problem? I’d have thought you’d be having the time of your life beating the living crap out of jobbers in XPro three times a week.”
“Funny, shithead, fucking funny.” Trent growled down the phone line. Did you think Evan was calling Dr. Garp, the psychiatrist? Whatever gave you that impression? “You fucking know I ain’t had a fucking match since you fucking sent me down here! Fucking full time XPro wrestler my arse.”
“Eh, maybe you just need to try harder.” Ward laughed. Then he heard a cracking, smashing sound and the line went dead. He looked at his phone, the screen said the connection had been lost but moments later it started ringing from a number labelled as ‘Trent (Backup Phone)’ Ward answered and carried on talking as if nothing had happened. “Anyway, dude, where the fuck are you? You need to get over here and help me train. I’ve got a match against the lug who aspires to be the Final Alliance’s glorified bouncer on Sunday. I need some big dumb oaf to practise working over with my new moves. What do you say, you big dumb oaf?”
“I fucking say fuck the fuck off, you fucking fuckhead!” Trent’s shouting voice came out of Ward’s phone with such violent force that you could almost see his hair move.
“Woah, chill out you vocabulary-impaired Hodor impersonator.” Ward jabbed defensively. “Maybe I’ll get XPro to change your ringname to Fuckdor… But, then again you don’t have the eloquence and range of conversation of Hodor so it would be an insult to that tragic character, wouldn’t it? Look, just get the hell over here so I can prep for this match, you ungrateful, abusive piece of shit.”
There was another smashing sound and the call ended again. The phone started ringing after a few moments once more, this time from ‘Trent (Other OTHER backup phone)’ Other other? That implied he had missed out the singular Other backup phone… Evan decided Trent had probably smashed that one too before even calling back. Evan let it ring for a few minutes as a power play before he answered.
“FUCK OFF” Trent yelled and hung up properly without smashing the phone.At least he didn’t smash the phone before hanging up. Ward imagined he probably did smash it afterwards.
Evan shook his head and pushed away from the wall. He’d have to do something about Trent, he couldn’t have such disobedience from his employees or, if he had any other employees, they all might get ideas about rebelling. Nevermind, he’d just have to go train by himself and hit the tapes to study the techniques and moves he had been trying to perfect some more. Study and theory was all well and good, but you needed the physical practice to put that to use. When Evan was learning all the flippy shit he could just practice on his own, he didn’t need anyone else for most of it. Same for the strikes and even his Award Winning Knee. He could practice the technique for all of them with some judicious use of training dummies, benches, boxes and watermelons. It did help to have an actual training partner but it wasn’t a necessity. But for learning to work the joints, combing arm bars and knuckle locks, all the vicious, painful moves he wanted to add to his arsenal, there was nothing you could practice on except an actual, real life, living & breathing training partner.
If Trent didn’t want to do it then he’d have to find someone else. It’d be okay, Evan would work something out, though he doubted it would be in time for this match. He could ask Townsend, but Ward was certain the dude would be far too busy farming space potatoes in Starfield to want to come train. Whatever. Evan headed back to his hotel as his mind wandered onto other matters…
Dan, I’m sure you’ve heard this before but you are one big motherfucker, ain’t you? Did your mother feed you Miracle Gro when you were a baby or something? With those lifts in your wrestling boots you’re almost like a whole foot taller than me. Crazy. I guess anything to make yourself seem big compared to STRONK!, right? That dude’s squat but chonky. We all have goals, some big and some small, might be a food you want to try, maybe a series you’ve been meaning to binge, possibly it’s finding time to retile the kitchen or smash some dude’s skull in. I can tell one of yours, Dan, is to be just like STRONK!.
If you could pump up just like him, a man of your stature would be a god. You could sweep all the titles, squash the whole roster as that seems to be another one of your goals. But you’re not STRONK!, you’re not even Stronk. Big dude, coasting on his natural size. That’s why you’re lumbered with the PWA Tag Titles when you dream of something grander. It’s not even the HOW Tag Championship, is it? You have to constantly lower yourself to beat on those hapless fools from the interfed. Don’t get me wrong, dude, I’m not knocking those titles, I was super fired up to win them the other week. My mind was willing but, eh, my body wasn’t.
You call it laziness and claim my disinterest cost but, man, you’re boasting about beating a guy who Solex half crippled a few weeks before. Oh, sorry, sorry, I misspoke. You’re boasting that your Hall Of Fame tag partner, the legendary Jatt Starr, beat a one-legged cripple recovering from serious brain damage like it’s some massive fucking achievement for you. No wonder you’re so bitter about Hall Of Famers when you’re constantly in the shadow of one.
Every single time you defend those titles it’s always “Introducing the reigning, defending PWA World Tag Team Champions, the The Sultan of SeaJattle, The Jattlantic City Idol, The Champion of Jattanooga, The Mayor of ManJattan, The Duke of Jattmandu, The Starrson City Icon, El Jattador de Starrcelona, The Sovereign of Starrgentina, The Marquis of MadagaStarr, The King of Grapple from the Big Apple, The First Class Hall Of Famer, JAAAAATTTTT SSSSSTTTTTAAAAAARRRR…. With Dan Ryan.”
It must suck for you, being lumped in with such a big name in the industry, a man who has won literally every possible title and award this federation has to offer, a name which every single fan knows and every wrestler in and out of this federation knows while you… You’re just Dan Ryan. 25 years in the industry and if you weren’t on TV right now no one would remember who you were. Honestly, dude, when Lee begged me to come back and joint the Final Alliance, I didn’t really know who you were. I mean, I’d heard your name, obviously, I’d heard you’d been in HOW a few years and won a few titles but, oof, 25 years in the business and you’ve only just made a name for yourself in recent years. Credit to you, dude, you’ve stuck at it and it’s finally paid off now you’re sharing the spotlight with Jatt. After so many years, people finally know you name. “Dan Ryan?” They say. “Yeah, I know him, he helps Jatt to retain the PWA Tag Titles!”
I guess it’s not just Jatt you’re in the shadow of either. The golden boy, Sektor, another hall of famer, is hogging the spotlight you want for yourself. Solex, the impenetrable fuckbrain he is, is a presence you can’t match. Mike Best, I mean, you obviously ain’t got shit on him. Three Hall Of Famers, so much more accomplished than you taking all the glory you beg for. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to know your apparent hatred for Hall of Famers is nothing but a sham to hide the fact you’re pissed off you aren’t one. Maybe next year, dude, maybe that will be your year to finally join us legends in the Hall of Fame, but probably not. STRONK! will obviously get in there way before you.
And here’s the thing, dude, I didn’t choose to come back, I didn’t badger my way into the Best Alliance for my own machinations. I’m not one to judge, it sounds like that’s the way your brain works so if you’d do something like that then you do you, man, but no matter the douchebag I’ve become that’s not me. I just took advantage of the opportunity presented to me when I finally decided to answer Lee Best’s call. Blame me all you want, but my place in the Best Alliance was 100% your boss’ idea. Can’t blame me for saying yes.
But all of this is besides the point, isn’t it. You seem to have it in your head that I don’t give a shit. Well, you’re partially right. There’s plenty of things I really don’t give a shit about as this artist is going through his nihilistic phase. However, one thing I do give a shit about, Dan, is getting in that ring on Sunday night and making you scream in agony. I give a whole lot of shits about picking apart each and every one of you Final Alliance motherfuckers. Don’t get me wrong, though, this isn’t some altruistic campaign of benevolence like the Ground Zero of old, protecting the federation from the wrongs of Lee Best’s iron fists. No, this is simple revenge. It’s retribution, Dan. You guys didn’t like what I was doing and all of your reactions were caveman-like “ugh, me smash skull, me kill” type shit. You know, like exactly the sort of blather you’re rambling on about. Me? I’m taking a more refined approach. I don’t want to kill you, Dan, I want to hurt you. Put you through the sort of pain the Alliance put me through and then some.
I’m going to take each of those fingers and bend them until they go pop. One by one. Pop. Twist them around. Pop. All of them and both thumbs. Pop. Pop. As big as you are, as strong as you are, your joints will go as easily as anyone else’s. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Pop. Very difficult to grapple when your fingers are all destroyed and equally as hard to throw a punch. Then I might stamp on your wrists until they shatter. Wrench your shoulders out of joint.
Come on, Dan, I know your pride at being a hard man will make you refuse to tap.
I don’t want you to tap. I want you to suffer and be a warning to the rest of your much more important team mates so they know what awaits them.
See you on Sunday, Dan.