HOW Refueled Event # XVII
“It doesn’t get any worse from here.”
James leans forward as the aide tends to the bruises from his match with Kostoff. He couldn’t have asked for a more merciful situation, considering that he didn’t ask for anything more than to get his feet moving forward. He smiled and nodded as the aide excused herself from the room, allowing him a moment’s respite to think alone. His phone buzzed on the countertop a foot away, getting a stern look from the Black Mamba as he tried to ignore it. The buzzing stopped, briefly turning into a bonafide HOW ringtone in its place.
“Fuck my life, what do the devils in admin want from me now.”
He hops off the table, standing up, wincing a little as he tries to stretch out the muscles a little. Clearly the astringent was doing its job, he thought as he reached for the phone, quickly pressing in a code to unlock it. He stared at the screen as the message popped up in earnest:
“Mini post match scrub requested of you for tomorrow morning.”
James sighed, realizing that he would have to hype up the destruction rained upon him by Chris Kostoff, plan for a post-LBI run at something meaningful, but stay reasonably under the radar til he was ready to chase after some championship gold. He placed the phone down as he grab his duffel bag with his business attire and headed off towards the parking lot.
The next morning…
The small conference room, created for semi-casual presentations, was tailored for the expectant arrival of James Ranger, the six rows of chairs facing the lone table, covered in red cloth, with a backdrop of HOW’s premiere Refueled show logo displayed. The journalists were already taking seats, some were conversing as others adjusted the lens of their cameras. A loud clicking sound put some at ease, as a pair of double doors on the across from the rows of chairs opened outward. James walked in, followed closely by his assistant Tia Kim, her stride seemingly gaining more traction as James seem to increase his stride to sit down quickly. She took position to the right, but behind him, gazing outward at the journalists that begin to pull out notepads and pens.
“Don’t take this literally, but i hope you have serious questions AFTER i give you the low down on last night’s events.”
The words uttered by James lingered in the air as the journalists mumbled answers amongst themselves, illicting a look of disgust from his assistant, but she dropped the look with a raising of his hand. Seemingly meant to silence her before she could talk, she took two steps back, lowering her head, as if gazing at the ground. James cleared his throat to signal to the journalists that it was time to start.
“Let’s make one thing clear……Christopher Kostoff is a bonafide threat to anyone in the HOW lockerroom. It would go without question, that he is the man to beat in my group. It goes without question….that i also have the worst standing in the group. This is not to reflect outwardly on my ability to wrestle, but my ability to earn a championship match, which is not in the cards and not in my immediate interest. Any man can his day in the sun, i have had many….MANY days to relish holding a championship belt. This is not the company i choose to sign up for just to parade around with a belt.”
“Now, you are probably thinking as you jot down notes that interest you most….what are my aspirations signing back with High Octane Wrestling? Clearly, if many of you were even around a decade ago, I was crazy enough to target Michael Best’s ICON Championship, tangle with the likes of Christopher America, even dance with the old man himself on a motherfucking carrier. Did i win any of those matches? No…i didn’t, but i provided the world a glimpse of someone just as dangerous and as capable of going the distance with any of the man i just mentioned. Winning is the end all to be all in this business. However, i paid a price for believing i could tangle with self-made gods and the power they wield in this company.”
James taps the patch covering where would be an eye. He teased lifting it, but noted some of the journalists were cringing before he even lifted it up.
“It would be foolish to believe i learnt my lesson, if i was willing to hear out this company’s HR department looking to offer me a spotlight for….old times’ sake. There’s nothing remotely friendly about this contractual agreement: I work for HOW, i get my time in the sun when it is available and i am ready to chase it. Just cause a few losses are now notched in my belt doesn’t mean the end for me. Keep that in mind for all future interview sessions. Now, i believe some of you might have a good question…hopefully with some thought behind them?”
James scans the room as a skinny journalist two rows back on the left raises his hand. He rises up to his feet as he takes a deep breath.
“Tommy Johnson of local WGN affiliate of Chicago Sports Section. Talk of your upcoming tag match alongside Scott Stevens against the Hollywood Bruvs is expected to have some history involved. What are your thoughts on that history between Scott Stevens and the Hollywood Bruvs?”
“First,” James pauses, placing his chin on his hands folded together as he ponders it. “I would say that possible historical value they bring to the table as former champions of foregone era and company…that might be still around is important. They bring a cohesiveness that is rare in this company, as you haven’t noticed…tag team divisions are not the reason people come to watch us. I say that in jest, but take into consideration of the four of us in that ring. Each of us have held tag team championship gold. Competed in many tag team matches of various design. While they know Scott Stevens very well from the looks of the archives i was digging thru. They can’t find my archives, at least not within HOW. I would say the advantage stays with Scott and yours truly in that regard.”
Tommy raises his hand again, seemingly ignoring someone else’s attempt to send a question, getting a smirk out of James as he nods towards him.
“Would you consider that Scott Stevens works in the office these past few years as deteriment to his ability to perform in the ring as your tag team partner?”
James smiles, anyone would be foolish to believe a former wrestler takes an office position just to escape. He had done it multiple times himself back in WWX and EWA. Granted the EWA that he knew of didn’t match up to the EWA that others were raised, perfected their craft in. Yet, the thought remained.
“Scott Stevens is hot-headed texas cowboy with plenty to offer besides looking over spreadsheets in the office. He is decorated in HOW, by no means will i neglect or undermine the ablitiies of a man who can turn a situation that is unfavorable to himself, into a bonafide win against his opponents. I have paid much attention to his successes, i would be foolish to believe otherwise. Our opponents have first-hand experience from what i had researched. Enough first hand experience, that you could almost say they suffered PTSD and anxiety just from being near him in the ring. What does that tell you…or any one of you of his abilty to perform under pressure? I have nothing to worry about.”
Tommy nods as he finishes taking notes, sitting down as another journalist, short, dressed plainly in jeans and tshirt, her hair tied back in a bun as the auburn-skinned woman stood up without raising her hand.
“Jessica Qu, of Chicago Tribune. Do you think that their debut is meant to test your ability as a tag team specialist? If so, would you consider a run at the tag team championship alongside Scott Stevens?”
James frowned briefly, giving jessica pause and concerned as he leaned back in his chair a little bit as he took in the question. What would holding the HOW Tag Team Championship do for him at this point and time? His frown gave way, a flicker of light danced in his lone eye as he stared at Jessica upon sitting properly again.
“Their debut would be an excellent test of communication between myself and Stevens. Sure, its been years since we last had a conversation within HOW, much less actually….well damn…we’ve never faced or teamed up at all in the times i have frequented HOW. You could say that in itself is a quality rarely seen, as my opponents have to hope that we don’t get along…that we each have our own goals to succeed against our opponents. An ideal situation perhaps, but futile in ever reaching the conclusion. As for the second part, a chance to hold gold in HOW is a lifetime achievement in itself. Not at all easy to take the gold off the champions currently now or in the past. It is truly a show of dominance…alpha dominance, that is required to have them. Quite honestly i would say that is one idea i would be willing to discuss with Stevens if he was up for it.”
Jessica nods as she sits down, as Tia taps James on the shoulder and pointing at her wrist without saying a word. He nods as he takes in the fact that he would probably take into consideration of doing more of these interviews for his matches. He pushes back the chair as the journalists realize he is about to take off, camera flashes intensify as he straightens out his suit and waves them farewell, proceeding towards the double doors he entered. A smirk was visible growing on his face, maybe from the thought of getting near championship gold…or just the thought of being in the ring with Scott Stevens.