Men’s Hearts Hold Shadows Darker Than Any Tainted Creature

Men’s Hearts Hold Shadows Darker Than Any Tainted Creature

Posted on June 7, 2022 at 1:43 pm by Christopher America

“Bare your blade
And raise it high
Stand your ground
The dawn will come

The night is long
And the path is dark
Look to the sky
For one day soon
The dawn will come.”

          The Dawn Will Come

 

Christopher America sits in silence for the entire duration of the ride. A scowl is on his face and he keeps replaying in his mind the dressing down he received from Shevchenko. Shevchenko had fulfilled his promise. The moment that he and America returned to the encampment, America found himself on the first transport out.

The drive was taking hours as getting to the US Embassy in Kyiv was no easy feat. The Russian government had begun using long range missiles to bombard Kyiv and its outskirts. Taking back roads was safer but more time consuming. Still, America doesn’t notice. He is too angry. The other soldiers on the transport with him did not look his way nor speak to him. They knew who and what he was and they wanted nothing to do with him.

After another few hours, the vehicle finally slows as it rounds on Igor Sikorsky Street. When the vehicle gets near, it comes to a complete stop. America’s suitcases are not off loaded gently. Tossing them to the ground like the trash they think they are and he is, the soldiers offload them quickly so that they can move to their destination. America, as if in a trance, does not care. The scowl remains as he exits just as quickly as his luggage.

America simply picks up his suitcases and rolls them towards the embassy.

The large, rectangular building was surrounded by high fencing. As America looks to the sky, he stops and smiles slightly. The American flag, billowing in the light breeze, is a welcoming and comforting sight.

America nods to himself slightly, his anger and fury still there but now marrying itself with the renewed determination that Old Glory could always instill in him.

The time was drawing near.

The tour didn’t turn out the way he wanted, but War Games still loomed large over the horizon.

It was time to prepare: get cleaned up, mentally prepare, workout, and focus on the task at hand: winning War Games and breaking the tie.

*******

Back in October, however many years ago now, I fought in what I thought would be my last match in HOW. It was a Solitary Confinement Match. It was a match between myself and Mike Best.

I lost the match.

Deep down, I was okay with the result and thought that was it. My career is done.

So why am I back?

During my confinement, I had a lot of time to myself. To my own thoughts. And that sickening silence where the only person you get to talk to you is your own inner self.

Let’s get one thing straight. I’ve been in and out of HOW since my last real run. I’ve found moderate success during those stints, and I’ve also had some devastating losses. But I think if the audience, my opponents, and quite frankly myself are honest with themselves, they’ll realize that wasn’t the Christopher America that had been World Champion twice, the only man to win War Games, on his own, back-to-back.

Something was different about the America that kept losing and the America here and now. 

And it was something that I couldn’t put my finger on for the longest time.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt the absence. Or was it loneliness? Yeah, the loneliness. That piece of me that I’d been lacking for so long. That piece of me that only Mike Best could drag out of me.

In that absence, something else took its place. Rooted itself deep within and then grew.

Slowly.

Surely.

Festering.

Inch by inch, it filled the absence. And it thrived in me in a way that I didn’t notice until it was too late.

Complacency.

What left was there to prove? I had done it all, hadn’t I?

HOW World Champion? ICON Champion? LSD Champion? Tag Team Champion? Stable Champion? HOFC Champion? War Games Winner?

What else was there?

And so, I coasted.

And that’s not to say that’s the reason my opponents beat me. It’s not the reason that Mike Best beat me in Solitary Confinement. I thought I was performing at a high level. And I was. While everyone was performing at a high level for say, 2022, I was performing at a high level for 2012, one decade earlier. Everyone else had gotten better. Everyone else stepped up their game. And I remained the same.

Sure, the personality, the gimmick, the swagger, whatever you want to call it, it changed. But my performance, my work ethic? It remained the same.

It took the loss in Solitary Confinement for me to see that.

I thought to myself that this was a good match to end my career on. HOW had clearly passed me by. My ability to hang with the Cecilworth Farthington’s, the JPD’s, the Mike Best’s, the Jatt Starr’s, the Clay Byrd’s, the Conor Fuse’s of the world? All gone. And the drive to get better had left me as well. Now you may think that I had something to prove against this crop of young talent or returning legends but the truth of the matter, in my mind, was what made them any different? What separated someone like David Noble from Max Kael? What separated Steve Harrison from Scottywood?

Back then, to me: interchangeable parts. The whole lot of them. Swap a body type, swap a head, same challenge. Nothing new.

And I was wrong.

There was one thing left.

Something I needed to do.

I needed to rectify this whole thing… for me.

*******

The room was much more spacious than the small room that Shevchenko had offered him. America knew it would be not because it was an embassy compared to an encampment but because this is what American hospitality can provide. Exceptional accommodations even in the most hellish of war zones.

After he settled into his room, America strips down and puts on his bald eagle swimming trunk, the beak covering right over both of his cherries and cherry tree. He pulls out an expensive pair of sunglasses and slips them on. America then puts on a pair of flip flops and wanders out into the hall.

As he wanders out into the hall, multiple people gawk and stare as America struts down the hall. He looks to the left and the right, trying to come across some sort of directional sign. As he gets near the end of the hallway, a woman approaches him.

Woman: Can I… help you?

America smiled and instinctively tried to push his pelvis out a little farther, just to accentuate the eagle. Unfortunately, the woman did everything in her power to avoid looking down.

Christopher America: I’m looking for the decontamination room.

Woman: The what?

Christopher America: The decontamination room.

Woman: We don’t have one of those.

America smiles wider, clearly forcing it to mask his annoyance. He didn’t have time for this.

Christopher America: LOOK!

America catches himself shouting as the hallway grew quiet and people turned to look at him.

Christopher America: Hun. I’ve been thrown out of an airplane, trekked through rubble, and touched by people who are… unclean. I have chemicals, parasites, and Washington knows what other bacteria crawling on me because of that. 

Woman: I’m sorry but we do not have a decontamination room. Your room should have a shower that allows you to…

America immediately turns and walks back to his room. He couldn’t stand to hear anymore otherwise he was going to do something that would get him removed.

The scowl once again found itself on America’s face as he forcefully opens the door. America slams it hard and throws his towel down with force.

He winds his foot up to kick his flip-flop off but stops himself. He closes his eyes briefly.

“Calm,” he thinks to himself.

It’s days before War Games. We can’t lose our cool.”

America moves to sit on the edge of the bed, takes off his flip-flops gently and takes a deep breath. He looks up from the floor to the mirror in front of him.

Things have changed.

His face looks older. He pulls on his skin as if trying to find that same man from a decade ago.

The truth was that he was no longer there.

The America in the mirror was now THE Christopher America – the summation of the America of old and the America who was now a member of HOW’s Board of Directors and a member of Mike and Lee Best’s War Games team.

America’s hands fall from his face to his knees with a light pat as he looks into the mirror and closes his eyes.

No words spoken.

Just reflection and mental preparation.

******

When I came in to HOW, I had a passion to prove that I was the absolute best. So, what did I do? I walked into the locker room, and I began trash talking every single person in that locker room. I cut them down to size. And do you know what they did? They tried to discredit me. They talked secretly among themselves and ran to management about me. They tried to make it personal with me. They tried to get me kicked out of HOW. All before I even had my first PPV match.

What they didn’t realize is that when I began to trash talk them, I was hollow and lonely then too. I was missing something. But they gave it to me. They gave me what I needed. They gave me just that little bit. That spark. That ember. That fire to really want to push further.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Bobbinette Carey, Scottywood, and Darkwing. The three of them together thinking that they could run me out of HOW before I even began. That little bit that they gave me fueled me for about a couple of months. And then, things sort of fell off.

But then Mike came.

And, my God, what he gave me was something that I had never felt before. Where those three bullies had given me a spark, Mike gave me the core of a sun.

Off Mike, I fed myself for YEARS! Even now, just saying it I feel that fire again. I take a deep breath and I feel like I am powerful — that the fire just courses through my veins and feeds my very soul.

That spark? That ember? That core of the sun?

It was all the same thing.

Different doses from different people.

It was hate.

People tend to loosely throw that word around when talking about their feelings on things that don’t really matter. But not me.

I’m talking about the kind of hate that fills your very soul. That fuels a fire to push you down into depths and raise you to heights that you never thought possible.

For me, hate was pure energy. A driving force that allowed me to redefine what I thought was possible. It realigned the axis completely. With hate, the dial didn’t go from 0 – 10.

It went to infinity.

And Mike gave that to me.

From its planting in my soul sprang forth the fruits of jealousy, rage, fear, judgment, shame, despair, and mockery. I fed and nourished myself on that fruit. It was that which fueled our push to the main event of March to Glory. It is that which fueled my War Games wins, becoming both the World and ICON Champion in a single night, taking HIS title from him. It was that which led to our alliance as a tag team because I thought what better way to sabotage him than from within.

But the joke was on me.

It was in that moment, that alliance as a tag team, that Mike cut me off.

Somehow, I began to like him.

Do you know what that was like for me — What it did to me?

I was parasitic. I was vampiric.

Gaining energy and purpose from the hate that I had felt for so long.

And when we became a tag team, it stopped. Like a junkie, I was slowly weaned off that hate until it wasn’t there anymore. Hell, I even took a harpoon for him to help HIM win War Games. 

HIM! 

Over me! 

Over MY dreams. OVER MY DESIRES!

You neutered me, MIKE!

You played me as a pawn and moved me off the chess board entirely.

The fire that had fueled me was gone. The complacency filled me up and looking back now I hate myself for it. The years… wasted. My talent… wasted. And for what? 

Mike Best found a way to kill me from within. A way to do it without uttering a single piece of trash talk, without hitting a single wrestling move.

As time passed and my self-loathing swallowed me whole, the losses piled up and I left HOW. 

Months later, a lifeline was reached out to me.

It was Lee.

He offered me a way to pull myself out. Sure, he didn’t know it and at the time, I didn’t either. But it was offered just the same.

A chance to vote on Hall of Famers.

Like a piece of flint being struck against iron, the sparks flew. Hate arose again.

Do I vote Mike Best in the Hall of Fame?

Do I allow him into the last of my sacred spaces?

That flickering of electricity between my neurons considered the possibility at a purely base level. But my soul? It greedily gulped down those sparks of hate, looking for the nourishment that it had been denied for so long.

Whether by sheer dumb luck or mere coincidence, the outcome was the same.

My brain didn’t care whether Mike got in or not. I had been out of the game for too long. I didn’t know what he accomplished since I left. The only right answer was that I should abstain. My opinion was uninformed.

But my soul? It wanted revenge.

“Keep him out.”

“Make him work HARDER.”

“Make him wallow in his own thoughts, questioning whether he was ever good enough.”

Two different reasonings. But the same goal. 

Like Coach Reilly pointing out to Gordon Bombay the ONLY second place finish The Hawks ever received in Pee-Wee Hockey, I could point to the absence of ANY Hall of Famers in 2014.

THAT WAS ME!

That’s why those years are blank. That’s why Mike Best had to wait a whole year for another opportunity.

My parting shot.

My last gift to Mike Best.

Letting him know that I was that much better than him.

Ultimately though, it wasn’t enough. Those sparks weren’t enough to sustain me, to shake me out of my funk. And I faded back into the shadows. Another footnote in HOW’s history books.

What most people may mistakenly assume is that Mike and I’s relationship is something out of a comic book. My Batman to his Joker. My Lex Luthor to his Superman. But that’s naïve. It trivializes what I’ve gone through, what he’s gone through.

So, when the opportunity came to face Mike at Rumble the Rock, how could I not take it? There was a chance, wasn’t there? A chance to show him once and for all that I was better than him in the ring. To finish the job that I started so many years ago and end as the supreme victor…

And then just like that…

1.

2.

3.

It was done.

I lost and he won.

But I recognize now, in those moments, it was there.

Like the pilot light of a furnace being re-lit. It struggled at first. And why wouldn’t it? Complacency had rooted itself deep. The trunk was massive. It’s branches stretching as far as they could, letting its shadows fall and consume everything.

But it started right there.

The flint and iron clicked in just the right way.

It caught fire.

And the complacency burned.

The complacency burned and its ash choked me. How could I have let something like this fester and grow inside of me? How could I have not noticed it? The only answer was that I grew comfortable with it. The complacency further bred complacency. Being comfortable… the thought of that now makes me sick.

And when the complacency was gone, I was hollow again.

What remained though in the ash was a small flame.

This time… I sheltered it, nurtured it, protected it.

It was mine again.

The thing that had been missing for so long was now finally back and I had it all to myself. I needed more. I needed that fire, that rage, that hate to fill me up. And the only place I was going to get it was by watching Mike Best do what he does best.

And so, I watched.

Week in. Week out.

Occasionally, I managed to find myself backstage at HOW shows and did not engage. Just… just by being there, I could feel it. His proximity fueled me.

I thought of all the things that I would do in those moments. All the things I would say. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t the right time. It wasn’t the right place. It wasn’t the right audience.

It needed to be on my terms.

War Games is and always has been mine.

That’s where I could show I was better.

Win.

And have no more ties.

You see, Mike, when you came into this company – before you revealed yourself to be Lee’s son – you had taken EVERYTHING from me. I sat untouched, alone on the mountaintop of being the best talker in this company. You took that from me. Like two children scrambling for the last seat in musical chairs, it became a shoving match between you and me.

I was favored by Lee Best. Oh sure, I was a thorn in his side, much like you are from time to time. But Lee and I always knew how to deal. And then you took his attention from me.

I was the most hated man in this company. I was despised by all and by people from other companies. They crawled over themselves just to be the one that would get to face me, so they could shut me up. But you took that away too.

Your reputation preceded you and then you became the favored one.

YOU TOOK EVERYTHING THAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS PLACE AWAY FROM ME!

And so, my mission… my true mission… began in those moments.

It was to take things from you. To break you down. To take the things that you loved.

I know what the Hall of Fame denial did to you. And I can only guess what other piece of yourself you had to give up asking me to be a member of the Board. Or what larger chunk you had to give of yourself to make me a member of your War Games team. It couldn’t have been easy.

I want us even now so I can eventually surpass you where it matters most to me.

And now – NOW — is the time to cement my legacy and to establish once and for all that I am better than you, Mike. And then, only then, will *I* allow the flame to die. On my own terms.

This isn’t me plotting revenge against you. That time has long passed.

I’ve grown.

We… have grown.

This is a psychological cleansing.

Just another thing to prepare for War Games – to clear my head and to focus on the task at hand. To rid myself of stray thoughts of you.

And so, Mike, I say the only thing I can.

Thank you.

Thank you for feeding me one more time.

Thank you for showing me what I was missing for all these years.

Thank you for giving me purpose once more.

But know this…

I hate you.

From the bottom of my red, white, and blue heart… I hate you.

I always will.

I hate everything you stand for and everything you are. I hate your annoying successes. I hate your opponents and how they can’t trash talk you the way I could. I hate those others tried to take you from me. Distracting you with their petty squabbles when I was standing here all along.

I hate our bond.

I hate that I know things about you that others will never understand.

See, unlike most competitors Mike, you’ll find that I don’t take you lightly.

I don’t diminish your accomplishments because I know how hard it is to get them. I don’t taint your legacy by claiming you are handed things because you are Lee Best’s son. I know like most things in HOW, it’s about 50/50. Half earned. Half handed to us. The difference between you and the others is that you took every single opportunity while the others were too blind to see an opportunity before them.

I also hate me.

I hate what I became… because of you.

I hate that within my mind, I can’t singularly define myself without mentioning you.

But like I said…

That’ll change.

For the last few years, Mike. I’ve hit the gym. I’ve trained. I’ve worked my ass off to get back into shape. I’ve worked on new moves. I’ve studied film. I’ve worked on escapes out of submissions. I’ve worked on ways to counter the moves that each wrestler makes their own. I’ve focused on endurance, pushing through physical pain to reach thresholds I never thought possible. I’ve re-tooled my game completely to make myself a supreme athlete, a wrestling juggernaut.

You’ll notice these abs are rock solid. These biceps are sculpted and defined. My determination is at its peak. My heart? Beats harder, better, healthier than it ever has before.

Because I see you.

And just to get myself into this position… to fight at War Games… I sacrificed more than just throwing out my old routine. I sacrificed my family, my friends, my self-respect. And it doesn’t end there. I’m willing to sacrifice a whole hell of a lot more to achieve what I want.

I need to be close to you. To have the hate continue to flow through me.

For now.

And don’t worry.

I’ll be the good soldier. I have done everything asked up to this point. No arguments. No fighting. No hints of betrayal.

And there won’t ever be any.

I will be a part of your team because I want to be. Because I need to be. I don’t have to completely like it to do what needs to be done. I should know. I’ve been on teams with wrestlers that disgust me – from immoral madmen to Un-American pigs and now Scottywood and Scott Stevens.

But my goal at War Games is still singular.

I’m here to give this one last shot.

I’m here to win War Games… one more time.

I’m going to break the tie.

You can say it’s for you. I’ll say it’s for me. And our goals will be the same.

WE… want to win. But I want this more than you know. So, so much more.

Not just to beat the other team. But to be the one that outlasts them all.

To prove to you…

And to me…

That I can still do this.

And when I see that I’ve done that. That I’ve beaten all the others to be the only man left standing, I will let the hate burn out.

I will happily rest.

Fully.

Finally.

As the greatest War Games competitor of all time.