I eventually made it to my bed by crawling to the bedroom and lifting myself with the bed frame. I slept well that night. It wasn’t like I had any other choice than to sleep well since I was so exhausted I didn’t even turn the TV on. I woke up and it felt like waking up from a coma…again. This time I remembered why I felt like this though and still shook my head to myself realizing I put myself through that nonsense. It was for the HOW Title though, I thought to myself.
That is as important as air to me.
It would mean the world to me to raise that title.
So, I moved my legs slowly to the edge of the bed and moved off it and…
Yep, I fell on my face.
My legs were still extremely sore and were not ready for the pressure I put on them when I got off the bed. I groaned and slowly got to my feet and moved slowly to the small kitchen area in the Hotel Room to fill up the solo cup for some water.
It was the longest thirty steps of my life.
The door to the right opened and The Doc walked to see me drinking from the solo cup. Of course, he did not knock which angered me but drinking water was more important as I pounded it back like it was a good whiskey and then filled it up again.
“Good to see you are alive.”
I grunted between gulps.
“Good to see you knocking on the door before entering,” I responded sarcastically.
The Doc ignored the sarcasm as he normally does, “it is lunch time, Steve. I came in because I wanted to make sure you were ok since nobody had heard from you. It must have been a good sleep.”
That was an expected response from him. I know I was in worse shape after that run then I admitted but it still annoyed me that he can always ignore my quips. I would like just one time where I could get him to show even a tad of emotion. “Always the stickler, huh?”
“I am a doctor. I don’t think I need to explain that I am here to make sure you are in good health so you can compete at Rumble at the Rock.”
I took another sip from the cup and then tossed it in the trash can. I slowly walked over to the chair in the room and sat back down on it. My last memory of that chair was me falling off it at a mere mention of a massage. “You know my knee is good now, right. I am surprised you are still around.”
The Doc paused and I thought I saw a little emotion show on his face, but he quickly tightened up again and nodded at me. “By the looks of things, you still need my expertise especially with your new acceptance of Ellis Jackson.”
“Hmmm, go on.”
“Which part, Steve? Do you want me to talk about you being stupid with your body inside and outside the wrestling ring? Do you want me to talk about you listening to Ellis Jackson now when everything points to you being stupid to do so?”
I wasn’t sure if he was going to continue but that was enough.
I clapped my hands loudly to deafen his speech and in doing so scaring him into silence. I wasn’t expecting this which also was very blind of me because I should have expected part of this especially with Ellis being around again. “That’s enough,” I said as sternly as I could at that point in the morning…afternoon, whenever.
The Doc took a few more steps away from me but crossed his arms and looked at me with a disappointed expression on his face. At least that is what it seemed to be. I took a few breaths and then leaned back in the hotel room chair, “what do you want to know?”
“Did you know that Sandy visited Rebecca a few weeks ago?”
I was surprised by this comment. “No.”
“Even she warned Rebecca about Ellis.”
I nodded. This was a surprising development but obviously I know not to trust Ellis, but I guess I also need to give people an explanation. “What is her play, Doc?”
“She said he had gone rogue against his brother’s wishes so I fear him being around you will not be good for your safety.”
“I can take care of myself, Doc. I know what he is, but I need him to unlock what I have lost inside the ring.”
“I am not sure what champion contender can believe he is missing something, Steve. But more importantly are you able to take care of all of us?”
I put both my hands to my chin and rubbed the stubble from my beard. I looked down at the carpet while doing so and thought about what I had just heard. He wasn’t wrong, why did I think I was missing something if I was good enough to be ranked second in HOW and be awarded a title shot against a deplorable corporate champion. I snapped out of it and looked back at The Doc, “I…”
“Let me put it this way, Steve…Can you protect Rebecca from whatever might happen because of Ellis being involved with us?”
I shut my mouth quickly.
Might attempt to defend what I was doing didn’t even get started and The Doc hit me in my biggest pressure point and I may as well have thrown up a white flag from my beautiful bald head. I was sick of being questioned though because I have a lot on my plate. I am trying to better myself but at the same time I am becoming more vicious in the ring, and it is hard to keep one from overlapping the other. What The Doc said though was smart and made me realize am I that obvious?
“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked slowly as I tried to get information from The Doc now.
The Doc tapped his right foot and then laughed.
He doesn’t do that.
“It is obvious, Steve.”
I flinched mentally but I am sure my face gave away the fear I felt. “Uh…what are you getting at?”
“Steve, we all know how you feel about Rebecca, it is written all over your face and yesterday when she mentioned massage you may as well have just put up a cartoon sign like wile coyote that said shwing.”
Damn, was that a joke?
I guess I had become obvious with how I have acted recently around her. Even I was aware how awkward I have been, “ok, Doc—what the fuck do you suggest I do?”
“You need to tell her, Steve, because Ellis isn’t going to help you get there. He doesn’t want you to rely on anyone but himself and whatever he is distilling in you for the title match isn’t going to help you like you think it will.”
I frowned following the entire talk from The Doc. I don’t like to be told that I am wrong, and I hated how transparent I am about Rebecca. I needed to win that damn title, I needed something to feed my confidence because I was really in the weeds when it came to my feelings. The HOW Title would be more than just a belt it would literally be a crutch to my confidence going forward.
Was that sad?
Oh, it is but I am being honest with myself. My brain doesn’t work like it once did when my arrogance was out of control. Now, my arrogance has trouble coming to the top because of my personal self-doubt on feelings I am still trying to come to terms with. It is odd for The Miracle Man to need a miracle to not mumble incoherently to Rebecca about the history of the crossface chickenwing like some bumbling mark at comic con.
“I hear you,” is all I could say.
The Doc shook his head, “just get away from Ellis, Steve you don’t need his help. You have more than enough talent to avenge you friends against Christopher America.”
It was a day off anyway after yesterday’s horrible run, but I did understand what The Doc was saying. Nobody needs to understand what I am doing because I will prove that I was right after I do avenge The Highwaymen against that phony patriot. The fact remains though that getting vengeance for someone else is very low on my list of reasons to dethrone that piece of shit. “Doc, I know what I am doing. Ellis is a great trainer even if I hate his methods, but I need to get out of my comfort zone if I am to move forward.”
“To get out of your comfort zone you need to find some courage and I don’t mean inside the ring where I have seen you put your body on the line to win a match. Do you get it?”
He walked away to his room leaving me staring daggers in his back.
Through everything I hated being questioned but I knew that blowing up on the guy that keeps me healthy was not a smart move. I have put my livelihood on the line multiple times since I came back from a bad knee injury. A knee injury that the uninformed liked to make jokes about like they were limping around in my Adidas’s. It was so bad I didn’t want to send text messages back to people because with physical pain comes mental doubt.
But I am back now.
I am reaching to become a monster because that is what I believe I need to be to defeat Chris.
Ellis Jackson can help me with that. So, I hope that is.
I need that to step forward and shatter not only a glass ceiling but a comfort zone, I need the title to help me tear apart.
Maybe I am naïve.
Maybe I am just a coward when it comes to my feelings.
It might be a day early but either way, I will be ready on October 30th, and I don’t need a costume to get my treats and the only trick will be how Commie Chris walks again.
Let me start this by complimenting my opponent’s resume. It is mind blowing that this man has won three War Games. Just winning one is impressive enough, but he has won every World Title by surviving War Games.
That is something that nobody else can come close to saying.
I don’t know how you acted back then but I can only assume that the Christopher America we see now is just a more obnoxious version of his past self. That is fine because you have proven to be a survivor regardless of how you might accomplish it.
I tip my hat to you.
That is something I have had trouble doing.
My focus is always divided between wrestlers instead of concentrating on the goal. That is why it doesn’t matter what you have done in War Games when it comes to facing me one on one. I don’t have to worry about others and when it comes to focus that is very helpful to The Miracle Man. I have been working on my submissions on YOU leading up to this match and you can attest yourself how painful each occurrence has been. I don’t have to perfect something to make it work because you are the only one I need to use it on. I don’t need to worry about your pity pirates getting involved and trying to steal that gold back for you.
I have worked hard, Chris. I wanted something different even though I have heard how dumb my decision was. But what is a little more, hard work to get to your end goal?
This isn’t just about defeat for either of us. You want to embarrass not only me, but The Highwaymen and I want the sheer glee that will come from you giving up the only thing that helps you sleep at night. Neither of us want to give up but if you have paid attention to my ups and downs you would know I don’t quit.
I have gotten back up numerous times since I have joined HOW.
The weight of the World Title does not scare me.
It does not make me anxious.
It makes me thrilled.
It means everything I have gone through the past year was worth it.
If I can survive the bodies that Lee Best has repeatedly thrown at me I can survive a battle against you, Chris. He wanted to soften me up for you because he knows I don’t run even if I must partner with Conor or Carey. I hung in there and I took my licks because if there is any chance I can get at any member of The Board, or you I was going to take it.
My health be damned.
Unfortunately for you I survived Jatt.
I survived the tag matches.
I survived that hillbilly.
I survived everything thrown at me so I could look across at you at Alcatraz and put every fiber of my body into making you tap out. As champion you have gotten favors that most of us could not even dream of.
It was like you were on vacation the past few months.
A title defense against an increasingly stagnant Jatt Starr may as well have been a title match against the dead body of Chris Kostoff. I cannot fault you for that though because you have beaten who has been put in front of you but please don’t act like you have worked hard recently.
The fact you can make yourself a victim in all this is cute. Nobody takes you for granted. Nobody thinks you are washed up. Nobody thinks you are the underdog in this match. Your own stable likes to constantly talk about me choking and that I stand no chance in a big match. But you in all your glory are trying to talk yourself up as an upstart fighting for respect.
Is a Hall of Famer ever lacking respect in this business?
I have been constantly disrespected since I have returned to HOW. My 9-2 singles record should speak for itself but during my run I have been accused of not putting the effort in. The same people who claim this are the same people who haven’t beaten me since I got back.
The past is the past.
I don’t lay down when it gets rough. I won the LSD Title with my skull draining blood. I was once afraid of heights, but I climbed that ladder and grabbed the belt without hesitation. I defended the Tag Titles until we had to win the HOTV Tag Belts and guess what, Chris? I won that too with Joe Bergman even though I put my body on the line and fell off a goddamn roof to protect Bergman when he was going for the belts.
What the hell do you think I will do to myself to beat you?
If you want to play this game then come wrestle in my shoes and see if you can last a month. See if you can wrestle three weeks in a row.
See if you can put your ego to the side and tag the hand of people you generally despise.
I don’t think you can.
Thankfully for you, you don’t have to. You get handouts. You get compliments. You get Main Event pay for sitting in your locker room and watching ME wrestle.
It’s funny until it isn’t, bud and it’s about to become a nightmare for you again.
You can’t change the facts even though you constantly change the question. That is what people do when they want to keep power. Lie enough and it becomes a fact to the simple minded and you have definitely perfected that in the age of falsehood posing as truth and social media where people go for knowledge.
What tik tok dance will you perform today, Chris?
I am guessing whichever one your intellectual equals are promoting on Parler.
You fucking hack.
I am going to leave you as empty as those ‘stop the steal’ investments you have made.
You won’t have allies.
You won’t have the World Title.
You won’t have a future in HOW.
This is going to be a Miracle, Chris.
The Miracle being that I leave you conscious because it will be sheer talent and determination that will have me defeating you at Rumble at the Rock.
Get your neck brace now, you are going to sorely need it.
Crab House at Pier 39
San Francisco Pier
October 21st, 2022
Crab and Shrimp Fettuccine.
House Salad with Crab.
That is what sat between me and Rebecca Hines. I was over the moon when she said she wanted to grab something to eat, and I still was walking with a lot of pain from my stamina workout, but I had been mainly left alone the past few days by Ellis. He checked in to see if I was alive but then went silent and seemingly had fallen off the map but that wasn’t something I expected to last.
During that time, I had some light sparing with Steve Solex where I mainly just used my hips and arms to make contact without moving my legs. It wasn’t ideal but I had to do whatever it took to stay in fighting shape until my legs went back to normal.
Today I was supposed to go over the submission technique with Bergman but when Rebecca said food I had to reschedule.
I grabbed a piece of fried calamari and dipped into the spicy special sauce that came with it and popped it into my mouth. Rebecca poured her balsamic vinaigrette dressing on her salad and mixed it together. I looked out from our seats and looked across the water to where I would be in just nine more days and popped some more calamari in my mouth as I waited for my pasta to cool down.
“Nobody else that looks out at this view knows what type of atrocities STILL take place at that haunted jail,” Rebecca said to me as she saw me looking out at the water.
I nodded, “Oh…yea crazy huh,” I stuttered uncomfortably nervous as always when I was around her. I took a breath and composed myself and replied, “I cannot complain since I have been there and this year I plan on leaving Gen Pop looking like a riot gone awry.”
That was smooth.
Violence is so romantic…right?
“Yea,” she said and then took a bite of her salad, “the food is good at least.”
Oh, shit I thought.
I looked at her salad, “yea, um…glad you like the salad. Sorry about bringing up the match?”
She shook her head, “it isn’t that. I am just exhausted from the PR work I have done since we got here. Wrestling fans are insufferable sometimes.”
I raised my left eyebrow confused at her comment. “What?”
She put her fork down and looked at me, her green eyes seemingly looking into my soul, so I had to lower my eyes for a second to not freeze up. “I am YOUR publicist, remember?”
That was also over a year ago and I hadn’t even thought that she might still be doing that work. I had heard from Jack that she had answered questions about Ellis from some unsavory media types, but I didn’t know she expected it still. “You don’t have to do that anymore…you know that, right?”
“What am I supposed to do then, Steve?” she asked with a tad of feeling insulted on her tone.
She continued, “am I supposed to be your valet now because that isn’t what I want to do.”
My mouth opened but nothing came out. It seemed like I had made a mistake in thinking she would be happy to not have to do what she used to anymore. “Uh…”
“Sorry, like I said, answering questions about Ellis is becoming awful. There are only so many ways to say, ‘I don’t know,’ until people just stop listening to anything you say.”
I sighed knowing this was all my fault. I hadn’t explained to her what was going on and of course I didn’t have the courage at that time to explain everything. “It is ok, it is my fault but just know that in the end I hope we are both happy.”
I cringed at that and thankfully she had grabbed the fork again and was getting some of her salad. She took a bite as I started in on the pasta and it was fantastic. It was amazing to me that such fine food was so close to a past and future building of mass destruction. “Steve, I know the title is the most important thing to you right now. I cannot begrudge you having some secrets if it can help you win something that you always talked about when I started with you all the way back in HOSTILITY to JUST.”
She was right. All those years ago when Sandy had hired her to keep me out of trouble and here we were back together for a World Title shot I had dreamed about since I was a kid watching wrestling on TV and doing moves on my stuffed animals.
Yea, a piledriver to a Vermont Teddy Bear is deadly.
With Milk of course…assholes.
What she wasn’t right about is that there was something just as important, but I couldn’t fight for it like I could a World Title. I just didn’t have those skills as I fumbled a piece of shrimp off my fork to prove my own thought.
That brought a smile to her face which was a life saver for me. I laughed along with her smile as I brushed the sauce off my pants from the shrimp landing on it on the way to the floor. I was happy with this as I was getting too far into my own head and anxiety is not something I wanted while having a good meal. “I am just glad that you are able to laugh without it being sarcastic,” she said with her smile not fading.
I may have blushed.
I cleared my throat after I swallowed some of the crab from the pasta dish and took a sip of my Whiskey on the rocks that were on the left of my plate. “Maybe we need to roll out some Highwaymen merch that you can talk about since you are the PR for Miracle Enterprises which I have seemed to let get dusty with cobwebs.”
She took a sip of her White Wine and gave me a slow nod. “That would be great, but I think having the HOW Title in front of me when I talk about YOU and YOUR accomplishments and hopes for the future of the wrestling industry would even be better.”
I couldn’t argue with that.
HOW needs new energy before it collapses on itself.
The power dynamic was becoming reprehensible, and I was going to do my best to take the foundation down and watch The Board crumple to the ground.
“Where is Jack anyway?” she asked out of the blue.
I rubbed the stubble on my chin as I thought to myself. I hadn’t seen him since we got to San Francisco, which was kind of odd, but we were in San Francisco. “Probably on some never-ending Jerry Garcia tour.”
The Grateful Dead was born out of Palo Alto which was 28 Miles away but some of their first concerts were in San Francisco and there was even a Grateful Dead House in the city. I was sure he had gotten high and slept in the bed Jerry once slept in back in the counterculture days.
She laughed at that, “I hope so, it isn’t like him to disappear from you for this long without telling us.”
Jack was the least of my worries even if she made a good point. I didn’t want to think about it though because I had good food, a good view of where I will be, and an even better view right in front of me.
“I was thinking that after I win the title…”
My phone rang.
I looked down at my phone and Ellis Jackson’s name was there flashing at me.
“It’s ok to get it, Steve.”
I didn’t believe that for a second but now I had to answer it or she would think something was up.
I answered, “what?”
He started talking and I started ignoring it. I looked at Rebecca who put her napkin on the table, her salad as finished as a salad gets when a woman eats. I put my hand over the phone so Ellis couldn’t hear, “my bad, I will be off in a second.”
She shook her head and softly responded, “don’t worry about it, I have an appointment I need to get to anyway.”
She smiled and put some cash on the table and waved at me as she walked away.
WHAT THE FUCK!
I put the phone back to my ear, “shut up, Ellis.”
I hung the phone up and saw I hadn’t finished my food, but I now didn’t want to eat a damn thing.
This isn’t working the way I imagined, I just seem to Manifest Difficulties.