:::Dan Ryan. The consummate professional. A man whose career has been marred by controversy. A man with a chip on his shoulder the size of Alaska. A man, for whom, winning is of the utmost importance. After all, who else would rent out a gym in downtown Detroit and hire a variety of actors and dancers to study the matches of Jace Parker Davidson and have the meagerly paid entertainers choreograph them in an effort to prepare for an all important HOTv Tag Team Title defense.
Certainly not his partner, Jatt Starr. Known by a variety of nicknames, the Ruler of Jattlantis, the Hero of Jattlanta, and the Sovereign of Starrgentina, to name a few. Jatt Starr is a first ballot Hall of Famer. One of the HOW Originals. In fact, the last HOW Originals still standing. For Jatt, winning is a means to an end. He values his lifestyle over his win-loss record, especially these days. A new wife, who is, coincidentally, the mother of one of his War Games opponents. The HOTv Tag Team Championship which he carries around with him like Linus holding on to his blanket. It is fair to say, the self-proclaimed Sheriff of Jattingham would rather lose a match than lose what he values.
Armed with this information, it would not be a surprise to learn that while Dan Ryan is studying the movements of the trained thespians, who are mimicking the actions and movements of Jace Parker Davidson and his respective opponents to the proverbial “T”, Jatt Starr would be staring at the HOTv Tag Team Championship over his shoulder or responding to texts from his new bride.
Dan Ryan, looking as though he is interviewing with the Secret Service, sporting a black designer suit, turns to his co-tag team champion and, unsurprisingly, is annoyed. After all, they rented the gym for the entire afternoon.
“Frannie’s Foxxi Boxing Training Facility” was the only location within a three hundred mile radius that would return his calls. A consequence of his previous scandal.
To Francesca “Frannie” Rabinowicz, Dan Ryan’s money was as green as anyone else’s. She had bills to pay, her girls to look after. And, yes, “Frannie’s Foxxi Boxing Training Facility” would not win any cleanliness awards, the stench of sweat, blood, cigarettes, and stale Gatorade permeates through the Lavender air freshener that she sprays every couple of hours forming a rather odious stench, like a flower rotting fills the air. If you were to read the contract carefully, one would find an exclusion for any liability resulting from anyone contracting Hepatitis A, B, or C whilst training in her establishment. Luckily, there have only been two reported cases in the past year since she included that amendment in the contract.
So, as Frannie toils away in her office, lighting her eighth Parliament 100 of the day, Dan Ryan approaches his HOW Hall of Fame Co-Tag Team Champion, who is in the middle of typing on his phone with his right index finger a response to his “unbelievably hot wife”, Natalie. Resisting the urge to just yank the phone from Jatt Starr’s hands, he merely addresses the Duke of Jattmandu with as much respect and grace as he can muster.::::
DAN RYAN: Is there something more important than our Tag Team Championship match this weekend?
JATT STARR: Co-World Championship defense.
DAN RYAN: I apologize, is there something more important, more urgent than our upcoming “Co-World Championship” defense?
:::”Co–World Championship”. The phrasing adds a little panache to the Tag Team Championships. It gives the title more meaning, more value, at least on a superficial level. There is a certain way people react to those that are “World Champions”. They can walk into any one of the best restaurants in Manhattan without a reservation and get the best table, the best service, even the food tastes just a little better. Claiming to be a Tag Team Champion? It gets you in some of the best restaurants without a reservation, but not all. It will get you a table in the restaurant without a reservation but it will likely be right next to the kitchen or the restrooms. There is status with being a World Champion, even a Co-World Champion.
And if there is anyone deserving of the perks of being the wife of a Co-World Champion, it would be Natalie.::::
JATT STARR: Poutine.
DAN RYAN: Poutine???
JATT STARR: Yeah. Natalie makes a damn good poutine. It’s french fries, these little white cheddar curds, and gravy, although I think what Natalie makes leans more towards a jus, but it is an explosion of flav—-
DAN RYAN: Poutine. You’re not paying attention because you are swapping recipes with your wife???
JATT STARR: Well, no….I do not really have any recipes to swap with her. She is far more accomplished a chef than the Sultan of SeaJattle. Sure, I can make a nice goulash with just the right amount of heat. The key is finding the right balance of paprika and—-
DAN RYAN: That’s not the point!
JATT STARR: You’re telling me!
DAN RYAN: You’re focusing on the wrong thing!
JATT STARR: OKAY! She’s a great cook and I’m “meh” at best! And yeah, she wants to meet my friends and when she goes to meet new people she likes to bring something along and she figured she would make her poutine. Now, I, for one, am a bit reluctant to have a little shindig with all of my chums. Primarily because you’re my only real pal. Can you imagine if I bring her around everyone else in the Alliance? Christopher America has that weird, pervy relationship with the HOW World Championship. We will need to get it cleaned and sterilized when one of us wins it. Steve Solex….well, there is really no other way to say it, he is a fucking asshole. Stronk is going to…well, who knows what he will do?! Maybe he will try to, an excuse the language, fuck the poutine because it sounds like poontang, he is unpredictable! A wild card! A loose cannon! With Lee, he stabbed my first wife in the eye, so there is some precedent which makes me hesitant. And you? Well, I am sure you’d be fine but with the whole divorce thing I did not want it to seem like I am flaunting my happy, blossoming relationship in your face. Then there is the whole question of whether or not poutine is an appropriate dish for such a gathering. Perhaps some form of casserole—-
DAN RYAN: Stop! Stop! Stop-stop-STOP! I am going through all of this trouble to help us come up with a strategic edge over Jace Parker Davidson and Zach-Zach-The-Lego-Maniac and you’re planning a dinner party?!
JATT STARR: It’s not really “planning” as much as it is a discussion on whether or not we should plan one.
:::Dan Ryan lets out an exasperated groan. A groan that only one with a sibling that has spent the last three to four hours banging nonsensical notes on their drums. But Jatt Starr, oblivious to the social cues provided by his tag team partner, looks at Dan with an earnestness that makes Dan want to punch him in the face….like he would a brother and not some scoundrel worthy of a rage filled beating. And maybe part of it is knowing that the Starrabian Knight is not taking this match as seriously as he.
Which he is not. For Jatt Starr, this whole production is a mild inconvenience. An obstacle keeping him away from the arms of his “Natty-Baby”. Make no mistake, he is only here to support his friend, his best pal, Dan Ryan and did not want him to be disappointed after going through all this extravagance when they could have easily come up with a plan using markers and a dry erase board. The Scourge of Starrpathia sees that Dan is getting a bit perturbed by his lack of enthusiasm at a bunch of trained actors performing Jace Parker Davidson matches in slow motion, so he offers up some reassurance.::::
JATT STARR: Dan. Dan the Man. Danaconda. Look, it is not like I haven’t given the match any thought.
DAN RYAN: Oh yeah?
JATT STARR: On one hand, you have Zach Kostoff, who, if he is anything like his father, is strong, slow, and stupid.
DAN RYAN: As true as that may be, aren’t you concerned at all that he might have that legendary Kostoff temper?
JATT STARR: That is a myth like Darin Zion’s testicles and baby Jessica falling down a well. Besides, if it were a thing, it would only be directed at Lee Best. Not us. Then there’s Jace. Is the dude talented? Sure. When he had both his eyes. Now? He’s blinded by rage. Pun intended! We just attack him on his blind eye side where he has no peripheral vision.
DAN RYAN: It’s fascinating that you believe any that will work.
JATT STARR: We both have concerns about the curb stomp, right?
DAN RYAN: I’m not saying I’m—-
JATT STARR: Two words: Back Brace.
DAN RYAN: What?
JATT STARR: If we aren’t hunched over, Jace can’t stomp our heads. Problem solved.
DAN RYAN: And you don’t think that wearing a back brace would limit our movements at all? I can see a situation where, if you were to get knocked over, you would be rocking back and forth like a sad little turtle laying on it’s shell, leaving you vulnerable for any amount of punishment they would want to inflict on you. That’s not a practical idea.
JATT STARR: Okay, fair enough, but what is the most important thing here? Walking out of New Orleans the HOTv Co-World Champions, right?
:::Dan Ryan nods, conceding that the HOTv Tag Team Championships are their priority.::::
JATT STARR: If….and this is a BIG if….Jace Parker Davidson and “Jack Off” Zach Kostoff gain the momentum, we disqualify ourselves.
DAN RYAN: Wait…what?
JATT STARR: Yeah! We kick them in the balls. Hell, let’s use their testicles like itty-bitty punching bags. Let’s take a rubber chicken, fill it with concrete, and crack them in the skull with it. We get disqualified! Yeah, sure, we take the loss, but more importantly we keep the HOTv Co-World Championships!
DAN RYAN: So we just give them a win? Hand it right over to them?
JATT STARR: Look, if you are concerned about the optics, who cares? You think Lee Best is going to give us crap by laying out those two dingleberries and still keep our belts? Heck no! I wouldn’t surprise me if he renamed part of the Best Arena after us! The Jatt Starr Hall of Concessions! The Dan Ryan Underground Parking Structure! He would respect that more than if we were to get ourselves counted out….
DAN RYAN: Uh huh….
JATT STARR: ….which should not be completely off the table….
DAN RYAN: Nope.
JATT STARR: Hear me out!
DAN RYAN: We aren’t—-
JATT STARR: Look! It is a last resort! If it gets too crazy, something insane happens, we pull each other out of the ring, grab our titles, and we don’t walk, we don’t stagger, we don’t stumble, we bolt. We run. We run like the wind!
DAN RYAN: We’re not running.
JATT STARR: We will keep our titles!
DAN RYAN: I didn’t come back just to run away. You think I’m going to win War Games by running away? No!
JATT STARR: I get it. I don’t know if this is a pride thing or an ego thing or what, but the Ruler of Jattlantis is not giving up the Co-World Championship to Mister Magoo and the spawn of the GEICO Caveman and Clay Byrd’s sister-mother. In case you hadn’t noticed, I have a tremendously stunning wife who does yoga and looks ten-plus years younger than she is, she is more limber than—-
DAN RYAN: I really don’t want to know any of this. Can we just please focus on the match?
JATT STARR: You’re right. It is ungentlemanly to kiss and tell. But I will be damned if I get seriously injured and am unable to perform my husbandly duties in satisfying my wife….
DAN RYAN: I really don’t need to hear….
JATT STARR: ….sexually.
DAN RYAN: I figured it out. Jatt, what I’m hearing is someone who is playing not to lose. Were you playing not to lose when you obtained the LSD Championship in that scaffold match? Were you playing not to lose when you beat Stronk in that ladder match? If you start focusing on what you can lose, you will end up getting in your head, you will screw something up, make a mistake, whatever, and you will get injured. My advice?
::::Wise words from the Savior of Starrkham’s Co-World Champion. But, as with all advice, it is easier said than done. Who is Dan Ryan to give the Jattinum Standard advice, anyway? He’s divorced. He’s been blackballed. His daughter is an alleged steroid user (a claim that the Jatti Master hopes to refute by uncovering evidence of a conspiracy between Lindsay Troy and Joe Bergman to remove the young lady from PRIME without paying her). This is the same man that tried to cripple the Rembrandt of Wrestling less than two years ago. Reluctance to any counsel from Dan Ryan would be understandable under the circumstances.::::
JATT STARR: I don’t—-
DAN RYAN: Just train for the match! Don’t think about your wife or whether or not you might get injuried or what Lee Best might think. The focus should be on how we, as a team, will not just beat Jace and Zach, we will dominate them!
JATT STARR: So, it is a definite “no” on the back brace, I take it?
DAN RYAN: Yeah.
::::Jatt Starr knows there are some hills you die on and some you do not. The Marquis of MadagaStarr chooses the latter. Without saying another word, he pockets his cell phone and turns towards the ring. Several of the JPD performers are acting out a match but there is one slight inaccuracy that the Thane of Starrkarth feels compelled to point out.::::
JATT STARR: Um…so yeah….I hate to break it to you, but none of these people are wearing eyepatches.
DAN RYAN: So?
JATT STARR: Just looks weird. You think we should get Jace a new eyepatch? One of them novelty ones?
DAN RYAN: Hell no.
JATT STARR: Not even one that says “Turn Over” and when you flip the eyepatch up there is an arrow that points down towards the eye socket and says “Insert Dick Here”?
::::A brief pause as both men stare at the ring.::::
DAN RYAN: Okay, maybe.
::::Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, Dan Ryan would constantly inquire about how the Duke of Jattmandu would avoid certain situations. “How would you avoid the curb stomp?”, “How would you avoid the super kick?”, “How would you avoid the Unscripted Violence?” – His responses were usually short and to the point – “Roll out of the ring.”, “Duck”, “Punch him in the nads.” (during that last response it occurred to him that “nads” were short for “gonads” which nearly blew his mind, but elected not to say anything for fear of ridicule). As they went through several different matches and circumstances, Jatt Starr could not escape one recurring thought
“Dan can’t keep you at ringside. If you are the legal man, it is not only your prerogative but it is your American right to run away and get counted out. It’s probably in the Bill of Rights between bearing arms and giving babies the right to vote.”
Yes, for Jatt Starr, being the Co-World Champion is of paramount importance. He would do almost anything to keep that title around his waist. Emphasis less on the almost and mostly on the anything.::::