“~I ain’t as good as I once was
My how the years have flown~”
After the eGG Bandits vs Fighting for Nora
First off, I feel it must be known that I do not fancy myself a fan of Toby Keith. However, I couldn’t help but get that dumbass, fucking catchy as hell song stuck in my head as I made my way back to our PRiME Carton.
I blame it on the douchebag who shouted this intelligent review from the peanut gallery in the back, “HEY DOOZER YOU SHOULD SWITCH TO LIQUID STRONKUMMS YOU STUPID DRUNK WHY DO YOU NOT WRESTLE GOOD ANYMORE”
I don’t know who it was. I don’t care, really. But for some weird reason it felt like, say if someone enabled closed captions on the shitty sitcom that is my life, the words moving out of this moron’s mouth would’ve been all caps and, for some reason, weren’t even followed with an exclamation point.
That’s neither here nor there. The sight of the Carton door snapped me out of the mental mess I was stuck in. Inside, the room was eerily quiet. Annabelle sprawled herself over the only comfortable chair we had, making Dean’s shoulders slump even harder than they did on our walk back from the ring. Jiles stood in the back corner, in front of his mirror, doing his usual pre-title shot routine.
“Look at you.” He mumbled, trying to avoid our judgment. What he doesn’t is we stopped judging him a long time ago. “Mr. COOL.” He went on. “Mr. Universal.”
“Mr. Cringe!” I forgot, Annabelle hasn’t stopped judging anyone. “Maybe if you actually focused on your opponents more than yourself you’d stop falling short of the big one.”
Surprisingly, the COOLYMPIAN barely reacted to that one. He just grimaced, accompanied with a little nose twitch. But unfortunately, that’s when he noticed us.
“Oh, you two’re back already? How’d it go?” There was that smirk I hate.
“You got the television on right over there, dick.” I wasn’t in the mood. Jiles just looked back at me with a shrug, as if to say he didn’t notice. “We lost.”
The smirk turned into a full fucking smile. I could feel my face turning 97 in a hurry. Then he shot out an open hand toward Annabelle, who released a beleaguered groan while producing a 5 dollar bill from her pocket and slapping it onto said hand.
Despite all my rage at the rat receiving the bet money, I couldn’t help but think how that meant Bob’s daughter bet on us winning. Maybe she wasn’t that bad, after all.
“And who took the pin?” The talking ass with blond hair followed up quick.
My tone matched the level of defeat I felt in general. Even worse, that’s when Belle handed the Chilly Bandit back his 5 bucks.
What a bitch.
“~But there was a time, back in my prime
When I could really hold my own~”
Holiday Inn Express
A Couple Days After UltraViolence
Every single morning since that loss, I wake up torturing myself with thoughts of the past. I’m not sure why it’s different this time. I’ve lost a lot since returning to the ring. Stringing together a couple of wins, while a rare feat for this Bandit, shouldn’t have been enough to let me convince myself my stars had changed. But for some reason, I couldn’t shake this one.
I couldn’t shake that look on Bob’s face when he reached down to help me up after the bell rain. I’m still not sure if it was even from pity for me, or disappointment… but I didn’t even know Bobby Dean was capable of feeling either of those emotions, let alone at the same time.
I couldn’t shake the thought that Jiles thought we were going to lose the whole time. And how he couldn’t have been less surprised to find out when we did.
I couldn’t shake the fact that, if we did lose, Belle put her money on it being me who’d let the team down.
I couldn’t shake the reality of her being right.
I used to be the leader of this team. I used to be the one whose shoulders couldn’t count to three. I used to be the one main eventing the big shows like the official Mr. Universal does in PRiME and Bobby does in Sanctioned Violence.
Now I just feel… invisible, I guess.
“What the fuck’s happened to me?” It was my typical, rhetorical morning question… to myself. “I thought I was finally getting back into it.”
Unfortunately, this morning I woke up in Chicago. That alone is bad enough, but I had to share a room with Jiles while Bob and his daughter took the other. And if you know Jiles, you know he piped right up with an answer.
“I put a fiver on general old age.” His delivery was as cool as the Universal Title he kept in his cryo unit. “Belle went with the onset of PTSD from that wedding… cause, ya know.”
I raised my hand so he knew he didn’t have to elaborate.
“Honestly, though…” He rarely said that H word sincerely, so safe to say he had my attention. “You need to ease up about losing that PRiME match, Doozy.”
I was at a loss for words. This coming from the guy who never lets me live a loss down?
“Think of it like this. Old Papa Lee doesn’t give two shits that I just won the Universal Title for fuck’s sake. What’s a tag team loss over there mean over here? Hell, GREAT SCOTT on the same show! To quite possibly the only active wrestler who’s older than you! None of that shit matters here! Remember, Dooze, we’re in Chicago now.”
It almost hurt to admit to myself, but he was right.
Mom don’t hurt me.
“And you have a shot at GREAT SCOTT for the HOTvee strap, for fuck’s sake!”
I start nodding my head.
“Sure, you’re not The Dooze you used to be.” Ahhh, there he is. “You’re slower, weaker, probably even a little shorter…”
I can feel the anger rising, but it’s different this time.
“You’re definitely not as sharp between the ears.” My focus kicked me into a tunnel vision, and Jile’s voice became distant. “Your technique is kinda meh.” Flashes of past matches flooded my mind. “You’re really not better than SCOTT in any aspect.”
“I just gotta keep kicking out.” The words slipped out of my mouth while I thought of all the times, now decades ago, I’d nearly evaded a sure loss.
“HAH!!!” That was it for trance mode as Jiles’ bellow brought me back to the real world.
I even let out a light chuckle, realizing the ridiculousness of being able to withstand a full match worth of high impact moves from SCOTT.
“So what d’you suggest, Oh Maestro?”
“Cheat.” He didn’t hesitate. “Remember what I said. You’re not The Dooze you used to be. Do whatever you can when you can. Hide some shit under the ring the night before the show.” He took a second to think. “Have you thought about a spray?”
“Works for me and Bob.” Stupid shoulder shrug. “We’ve got belts, remember? Maybe you could, too… think about it. Everyone is still treating you like the old you. Just frosted Dooze back for another fleeting moment in HOW history that no one will remember.” He pauses for dramatic effect.
“Did you come back for the umpteenth time just to put on the same old act? Or are you gonna show us something new? New Dooze. Spray. HAWT. VEE. CHAMP!”
Man that sounds good. Too good. Fucking spray. I hate that they use that shit…
Even if I didn’t think it was corny as shit, it’s already enough having those two doing it…
What color do you think mine’d be anyway?
Awkward moments pass slowly…
“Holy, blaze orange!”
And there’s Annabelle. Covered from head to toe in blaze orange hunting gear like she just came from Cabella’s.
“What in the-” Before I could finish, Jiles jumped to his feet.
“You’re not actually going to-” Before he could finish, Annabelle answered both unfinished questions.
“It kinda sucks that this was blondie’s whole idea, but it might be the only way.” The young female version of Bobby Dean shoots me a look that mirrored the one her father gave me after our most recent loss. “I’m gonna hunt GREAT BEAR.”
“You can’t be-”
“I’ve got all the stuff Uncle Tummy Tattoo told me to get. Bait. Traps. You name it.” The little Dean shrugged. “Was pretty easy.”
For the first time in a long time, both Jiles and I were at a complete loss.
“Alright.” Belle calmly delivered. “Wish me luck.”
And just like that. She left.
Almost as soon as her footsteps faded down the hall, we started feeling tremors. Increasing in volume and climbing the Richter scale at an alarming rate, suddenly none other than Bobby Dean himself burst through the door. His baby blue robes contrasted his beat red, sweaty face.
“Did you” He stammered, trying to catch his breath. “Did you guys see Belle? She’s uh-”
The big man collapsed on the floor in tears.
“SHE’S GONNA KILL GREAT BEAR!”
Jiles jumped forward, holding both hands up in innocence. “Hey now, I never told her to KILL the bear! I just told her to TRAP it. Ya know?” He shrugged. “Kidnap it a little. Get SCOTT all worked up and distracted. Maybe toss in some blackmail and have him throw the match to ensure the bear doesn’t get hurt?”
I try the disappearing thing. I’m not sure if it’s working, though.
“YOU!” The Beautiful Man from Honalee was aghast. “YOU CAN’T! GREAT BEAR IS A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH! HE’S THE ONLY REASON I WANTED SCOTT IN THE BANDITS!”
I finally snapped out of another stupidity induced trance.
“Wait, do we even know if GREAT BEAR is actually a bear?” My question was met with indifference from Jiles and confusion from Bobby.
“What else would he be, Dooze?” Bob asked the question so innocently it was tough to process. “A really big, hairy warthog that stands on its hind legs? Don’t be ridiculous, buddy.”
“I gotta go get Belle.”
“Thank GOD!” Bobby breathed easily for the first time since entering the scene.
“I gotta make sure we keep that man, bear, pig whatever it is alive.” I shot an evil smirk toward a suddenly proud Jiles. “That’s how I beat GREAT SCOTT!”
I can’t remember the last time I saw the COOLYMPIAN this into one of my plans. He usually brings a pillow with him when he thinks I’m going to scheme.
“I mean, it’s either that or I develop a Time Machine and go get Old Doozer and bring him back to the future…” I saw Jiles reaching for one of the hotel pillows.”
“~If you want to fight tonight
GREAT SCOTT you don’t look all that tough~”
On The Cell
A Tribute for a Lost Friend
Not gonna look so tough without your BIG, BAD BEAR by your side, are ya SCOTT?
Don’t worry your curls off, pal. I found Belle and we called off the whole plan. Sure, like Jiles said, I didn’t come back again just to do the same old shit. But I also don’t need to kidnap your weird manager, friend, pet to prove that either.
In a lot of ways, I already have.
I’m still here, for one. I’m sure plenty of you had bets that I’d be back on the streets by now.
But here I am.
I came here and showed you all it was going to be different right from the start when I helped Lee take care of my old mentor, The Beast. And since then I’ve shown you I can still pull my weight in the ring with back to back wins over the Tag Champs.
Sure, I had a slip. But how did I handle it?
Like Old Dooze?
Old Dooze would’ve tucked his tail and disappeared. This time it’s different.
This time I’m not here to try and revive my old career. I should’ve accepted long ago that that was never happening. This time is about starting anew.
No more wrestling against the ghosts of my haunted history. No more doing this shit because I owe it to anyone. No more bullshit.
I’m here for me.
I’m here for The New Dooze.
And despite what anyone thinks, I’m here to stick around a while.
And that’s what’s different.
So here’s to continuing to prove everyone wrong, and hopefully start to cost Jiles some cash if Belle smartens up and starts better on me.
I like you, SCOTT. I really do. I wanted you in the Bandits almost as bad as Bob wanted BEAR. And I know in the eyes of some I have no business being in the ring with you. But I’ve got an opportunity I can’t let pass. Even if I use up every single ounce of life I have left, I am going to give you the best fight I possibly can. They’re going to have to carry me out like Kostoff if you beat me, because I promise you that as long as I can move a muscle in my body, I will kick out.
Now I just hope I don’t let you down and show you I can still wrestle good.
P.S: I did follow GREAT SCOTT’s advice and bought some STRONKUMMS. Harrison hooked me up. I’m not sure they work. He said to give them time but I don’t know.
P.P.S: Lose or I kidnap the bear for real, fucker.
P.P.P.S: Sorry, that was Annabelle.
“~I ain’t as good as I once was, but…
Ya know what, fuck that, I’m gonna be better!~”
Outside The Best Arena
Two Days before Chaos 11
Another pre-show opportunity for humiliation. These signing sessions have been the worst, especially for High Octane, since Jiles won the HOW World Title. Time after time, I get to sit at the table playing fiddlesticks with Bob while MR. COOL signs autograph after autograph for shithead after shithead.
“Ahem!” A small voice in my peripherals squeaks. “Mister, Dooze, sir.”
I turn so fast I almost got whiplash. The Chilly Bandit’s eyes almost pop out of their sockets. Bobby continues fingering his bellybutton, completely oblivious.
That’s when a little twerp in a Superman shirt stumbled up to me with an egg.
“I was wondering if you could sign-“
I could feel Cancer’s eyes upon me. Watching. Waiting. Judging.
“Shut up, kid.” I bark, snatching the egg out of his hand. The adult with him quickly steps forward. “You’re the dad, then?”
The man, taken aback by the brash action yet casual response, nods confused.
“Tell your little shithead to grow up, quit looking up to a bunch of losers, and get a job.”
Before he can even try to muster a response, I shove the egg straight into his face. As the ooze drips down his dumbfounded face, I turn and throw both hands to the sky, looking at my fellow Bandits with a grin I haven’t worn in decades.
“NEW DOOZE ORDER!” The words began to flow like the verbal diarrhea typically flowing from my upcoming opponent’s mouth.
“THE DOOZE DAYS ARE UPON US!” I don’t even know what I’m saying.
“NEW HAWWWWWT VEE CHAMP THIS WEEKEND!” Bold prediction, I know.
“FUCK JERBOI!” That didn’t… whatever.
“I HELPED KILL KOSTOFF!” That happened.
And that, kids, is how I got the autograph signing session cancelled.