I’ve been accused in the past of being too impatient, too entitled, too needy.
And guess what?
There is an element of truth to those accusations.
When I seek something, I want it now.
I’m not waiting around forever, hoping that what I want falls into my lap.
When I ask a question, or issue a challenge, I expect some sort of response.
Even if just a “piss off, we’re too busy doing actual things around here.”
Or a “sure, I’ll fight you…in your dreams, pal.”
But no, what do I get?
And it is not golden.
Instead of someone coming to me, facing me like a grown-up, and saying “I will fight you, Xander,” I get silence from the vast majority of the HOW roster.
That’s very telling.
Then, as I get ready to book the first flight to Vegas and track down a suitable opponent, I find out I’ve been put in a tag match for Chaos Number Five…and the distinct odor of cod can be detected from a mile away.
That’s right, this match smells fishy as all hell.
You don’t think I see what’s going on?
Putting me in the same corner as a man I beat the living hell out of in HOFC, against your reigning World Champion and the former HOTv and LSD Champion?
I could just about use a gas mask to get through the bullshit this reeks of.
But, I’m also a fairly positive person.
I know how to look on the bright side.
And I am staring down the big behemoth that beat me once before.
It’s been a hot minute since we faced off, but I’ve had zero time to really reflect on our previous bout.
Never mind that shit, here comes Stronk.
Riding in, ready to defend the honor of a man that doesn’t deserve it.
Congratulations, Stronk Daddy.
You’ve managed to stay useful to The Board long enough to be named Secretary of Defense.
Normally about a month or so after War Games is when this place has had enough of the tag titles, but as long as someone not serving Lee Best’s interests is holding them he’s gotta think of something, right?
So why not get the big guns out?
He and his precious Board have been getting you acclimated for tag team action the past couple weeks.
Shame that your first real taste came in the form of ganging up on Simon Sparrow.
And that brings us to Chaos.
Poor, poor Stronk.
Shelley Greene agreed to this match, didn’t so much as keep you in the loop did he?
He must’ve taken one look at me, another at Brian Hollywood, and said “yeah sure, that’s fine, just hand me the cash and we got this.”
So now, you’re teaming up with the HOW World Champion himself, Christopher America, to face ol’ Xander Azula and Brian Hollywood.
Two men looking for a fight, and boy are we in for one.
The thing is, I am not the same man I was when you beat me…and neither are you.
Winning the HOTv Championship so early on in your career is impressive…but so too is Clay Byrd eliminating you from War Games to pick the title up himself.
Picking up the LSD Championship that same night by pinning Steve Harrison was a nice glow-up, to be sure…but that shine faded when Simon Sparrow, Jatt Starr, whatever you wanna call him this week, beat you the next month.
People might look at that as mere dents in the armor of Stronk Godson, but I see gaping holes…and you’d best believe I will pry at them with every ounce of strength in my body.
Being such a beefy boy is great, Stronk, right up until the predators can smell your weakness.
And I am so very hungry.
I crave violence, Stronky baby…and I will get my pound of flesh.
That’s what those HOFC fights have done to me.
They’ve satisfied a need to beat some respect out of people.
To take back what rightfully belongs to me.
Don’t you even know dignity when you see it, Stronk?
Or is your vision truly that clouded these days?
Somewhere between Greene’s insistence on staying the course, your need to please your new friends in The Board, and…whatever the hell is going on between you and Bobbinette Carey…you seem to have your attention divided.
And that is precisely the distraction I need to make my move.
You’ve been slipping as of late, and I’m gonna trip you right off the edge.
And who will take your hand to stop the fall?
It won’t be The Board.
After all, your job is protect America, right?
Isn’t that the point of being Secretary of Defense?
He’ll expect you to take a bullet for him, I hope you realize.
Whatever you do, keep an eye out for the man you’re meant to defend.
Watch as he salutes you for your service…and abandons you.
Leaves you for the predator to feast.
And trust me, Stronk, I will have my fill.
It’s my meal, and I want it now.
We are some miles down the road from Bergman’s Barn, as we see a van parked on the side of the road by this lovely, tranquil landmark. One of the van doors opens, revealing Xander Azula with a smile on his face as he looks upon the peaceful waters of the Plattin Creek flowing through. He turns his attention to his fellow Eternal Circle followers, clambering out of the van they’ve recently dubbed the “Missourimobile” since they conveniently have it parked somewhere near the airport whenever they arrive in the state for training.
As the group steps out to the bank of the creek, Xander watches the flow of it with a surprisingly soft tone in his voice and a spring in his step.
“What a lovely, lovely break from the stress.”
Thinking on his training incident last week in the Barn, and realizing that a similarly-tough situation awaits him with Dawn McGill, this was a welcome change of pace in between…even if he knows that a major challenge awaits him on Sunday.
“What’re you gonna do about Hollywood, brother Xander?”
The question raised by his right-hand man Vagn Dahl simply makes Xander’s smile widen to a grin at the thought.
“Brian knows what I’m capable of. He learned a hard lesson when I dealt with him inside the cage…and, like me, he’d love nothing more than to take down the big man and the champ. I will not stress about Hollywood unless he makes me stress about him.”
This simply gets a nod of acknowledgement from Dahl, as Xander turns his attention back to the creek. He can see families off in the distance, playing along the creek and enjoying the refreshing water on such a hot day as this. For the Head Disciple, however, the heat would only be rising from here as he considers the training session ahead. He stares off into space, seemingly entranced by the light reflecting off the water…until his cell phone rings, bringing him right back to reality. He pulls it out of his pocket, checking to see who’s calling…and it’s Dawn. Xander’s eyes widen with worry as he quickly answers, bracing himself for what’s coming.
“Xander, where in the world are ya right now!? You’re late to training, and I will not be disappointed!”
Xander stammers, trying to find the right response.
A long pause, and an exasperated response from McGill.
Xander looks flushed with embarrassment as he tries to pivot away from danger.
“Yes, Miss McGill…Dawn. We’re on our way now.”
Xander quickly ends the call, signaling for his disciples to pile into the Missourimobile so they can make haste in arriving at the Barn, where no doubt another painful…training session…awaits them as we fade to black.
Oh, don’t worry Christopher.
I didn’t forget about our reigning HOW World Champion, not by a long shot.
Here we have a man really enjoying the perks of his position in ol’ Chris America.
I can’t say I blame him, though.
Three-time World Champion, three-time winner of War Games.
Those paths are not only similar, they run parallel.
The man knows how to endure.
That’s something I can respect.
You know what I can’t respect, Mr. World Champ?
One plain and simple fact that sticks out like a sore thumb from the lot.
When I issued my open HOFC challenge two weeks ago, it went out to everyone.
Nobody was exempt from the challenge of stepping inside that cage, to step up to the beast.
Not even you, champ.
I’ll give credit where it’s due, though.
At least you have an excuse, something that sets you aside from the cowards of this company.
You’re a busy man, I get it.
I will leave you to deal with Steve Solex, and I will leave it to Stever to see if he can overcome the mounting odds to take the 97Red belt from you.
But I will be watching, Chris.
Watching with hungry eyes.
Waiting to see what’s left of you after Dead or Alive.
But enough talk about the near future, let’s talk about now.
The real goal of this week, for me?
It’s to get a feel for what it’s like to step in the ring with a bonafide Hall of Famer.
One of the crown jewels of HOW, reflected by his many accolades from years gone by.
I won’t stand here and ignore all you’ve done, Chris. I’m very familiar with it.
I’ve done my research, like a good little student of the game.
The pressure of being in such an important match is not lost on me.
But, as the old saying goes, pressure creates diamonds.
And in a company full of rhinestones, you’re looking at a finely-crafted jewel in the making.
You’d do well to watch what I do in that ring when we face off in Dallas.
Watch what happens to Stronk when that bell rings, and I get into my element.
I don’t need a cage to build up that rage.
Your precious Secretary of Defense could very well suffer the brunt of the damage…but you are not sitting in an ivory tower, champ.
You’re at ringside, which makes you a target.
And as World Champion, you’ve got the biggest target out of everyone here.
All that mad smack talk you’re known for gets silenced the moment the bell rings.
And all that’s left is action.
Brian Hollywood wants a fight.
I want a fight.
And dammit all, I expect a fight inside the American Airlines Center this Sunday.
You know what I want, America.
Give me what I want.
When I’m through with Stronk, I want to face you like a man.
I know you’re good for it.
Which is great, because I’d sure as hell would hate to chase you down.
I will show the great Christopher America what I am capable of.
I will punch, and kick, and throw knees and elbows until I am no longer left wanting.
Till my hunger is satisfied, at least for the time being.
And in front of everyone watching in Dallas and from the comfort of their homes, I will systematically break down the World Champion.
Perhaps Steve Solex will find a new sense of motivation to finish the job at Dead or Alive.
Maybe Joe Bergman will give me a hardy pat on the back for a job well done from his student.
But what I have in store for you, America, is for me and me alone.
Because I am a little selfish at times.
I can be a little petty.
I see an opportunity to take on the top dog of HOW, to knock him down a peg or two.
And, petty little bastard that I am, I am chomping at the bit.
I cannot wait much longer, Chris.
I can just about see the finish line of this
I want to get this done and dusted, and I want it now.
I will take the crown jewel of HOW, and I will rough it up.
Take some of that fancy shine right off.
And expose the ugly truth, that you are not untouchable.
You can be beaten, and this Sunday you will be beaten.
And I will make you acknowledge me.
Make you recognize my rightful place in the pecking order.
Hail Eris, hail Discordia.