Xander, you’re so quick to point out everyone else’s flaws. You must sit around all day thumbing through wrestling magazines like a teenager who found a Penthouse. Turning each page, memorizing each little fact, skimming to the end of each page looking for that one thing you really want to hang your hat on. That one thing that you really want to drive home every time you talk about someone that’s not yourself.
Why does that excite you so much Xander?
What magical flaw in my record are you going to dig up? Mike Best used to say I was the Prospector because of the way I looked, clearly he never paid much attention to your actions. Out here panning, looking for that one little gold nugget you can turn into your latest fish story.
“LOOK GUYS HE FAILED AT THIS! IT’S SUCH A BIG FAILURE! THE BIGGEST FAILURE! I’VE NEVER FAILED LIKE THAT!”
That’s because you’ve never had the chance.
You have to put in the work Xander, you have to put in the effort. Nothing around here is given away for free, nothing around here is presented on a silver platter, that’s not how GOD works. That’s not how any of this fucking works. You have to have the drive, you have to have the determination, and don’t get me wrong Xander, you have plenty of determination. I’m pretty sure on your birth certificate it says Xander Determination Azula, ‘cause you have to have a lot of it to keep coming back after all the beatings.
But I digress.
You have to have the drive and determination, you have to put in the work and effort. You have to focus on each match like it’s your last match, you have to sit down and lace your boots days in advance, you have to prepare, you have to put in the work Xander. And sure, going out to the barn and rolling around with Bergman is practice, but it’s not preperation. It’s not learning how to anticipate what your opponent is going to do next, it’s not focusing on the smallest mistakes they make.
That’s where you go wrong kid, it’s not the fact they lost, it’s not how they lost. It’s all about why they lost. What decision did they make, what moment could they have made a better choice, what was that choice? You have to be able to run that simulation in your head, week after week, match after match, you have to look at each and every opponent through that lens.
And if you don’t?
Well, you’ll still be you.
You’re a fighter, we all see that, you’re tough as nails, you’re everything so many guys who walk through those doors aren’t. You show up week after week, take the beatings, take the lumps, convinced that one day you’ll find the magic bean that’s going to take you to the top. Whether it’s from your God, or your henchmen, or Joe, you think the magic answer to success in High Octane will just fall out of the sky.
Look at you, adding three HOFC fights into your contract. Going through each match one after the other, begging for your next fight to be against someone that matters. Do you know how you get to fight someone that matters Xander? Do you know how you jump the line? Do you know how to make your presence known? How to get on their list?
You have to take a risk Xander, you have to take a fucking risk. You can’t just sit back and wait for one of these guys to waltz into the little trap you’ve fucking laid for them. You need to grab them by the scruff of their fucking neck and drag them into it. Burn one of their gyms down, hell burn a house down, that’s what I did the last time someone didn’t want to fight me. If they aren’t going to pay attention to you Xander, then fucking make them.
Be a fucking man, show some fucking pride in yourself. You want a fight with America? Go kill his stupid fucking eagle. Do something drastic, take a fucking risk. For once in your life, walk to the edge of that cliff, shut your eyes, and fucking jump. It might hurt when you fall, you might not survive, but you’ll be kicking yourself for the rest of your life if you don’t do it.
New York City, it made The Behemoth’s skin crawl. Bad things always seemed to happen in New York City. Having your head almost caved in by Mike Best? Check. Having to face Scott Stevens and Black Mamba and getting bored while you stood on the side of the ring? Check. The last place you were on US soil before Cecilworth Farthington broke your arm? Check.
Lots of shitty memories about New York City. The enormous skyscrapers of Manhattan towered over The Behemoth as he walked through the streets. For Clay they stood as the guardians to his own misery, sure he’d met a few relatives, found a family he never knew he had, there was a lot to be positive about. That was what he thought he needed, that was the step he believed he needed to take.
But each time he put one foot in front of the other as he walked through Manhattan. The realization of unhappiness ingrained itself deeper into his sub-conscience. He was always a bear after a loss, normally it stuck around for a few weeks. Normally after pummeling someone else into dust, the anger would dissipate. The inferno inside of his chest would calm, the storm would pass.
But that loss? The way it happened?
It ate at The Monster from Plainview. He’d lost plenty of times in his career, all his biggest matches, all of his potential career defining moments. But the feeling of disgust with himself went away after a while, there was always someone else to blame. Joel Hortega, Matt Boettcher, Lee Best, Benny Newell, The Board, always someone to step up and take his wrath. Always something he could focus on, work towards, an axe that could be ground. And instead, this time, the only person he could be upset with was himself. He couldn’t be mad at SCOTT, as irrational as the big man is, he couldn’t wrap his head around a fictitious reason for the loss.
He just lost.
That drove him insane, it gnawed at him, his shoulders on the mat, the three count coming down. It all played back in his head, he was so surprised by the roll up, he wanted to react, the thought came, but in that one moment his body failed him. The frustration welled in his chest. He wanted to break things, destroy things, smash things. But there was nothing to break, nothing to smash, nothing to destroy. There was just himself to blame. No one else, nobody else was responsible. It was all on him.
The monstrous buildings continued to tower over the man known as The Behemoth. The shadows they cast were enormous, they cascaded across every other building in their wake. He sneered as he looked up, the left foot went in front of the right one and vice-versa as he continued down the sidewalk. He maintained eye contact with his destination, and continued marching through the congested sidewalk. Tourists gawking at the sights were brushed aside as The Behemoth moved onward. His hair was tied back in a ponytail, there was no cowboy hat, just a #97RED tracksuit with black stripes and sneakers. Other than being a giant man, he tried to draw as little attention to himself as possible.
I regret a lot of things Xander, I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Plenty for you to rub my nose in, you could talk about how I was going to fight for the HOTv title, that I was going to defend it for all of us, and how I failed. You could talk about how I said I was going to win War Games, how I said I was going to free us of the oppression, how I was going to grab the biggest bargaining chip from the hands of The Board. How I was going to do that for all of us, how I was going to dominate for every man on that team. And you could talk about how I didn’t.
I talk a lot Xander, I say a lot of things. We all do, we all believe that we’re going to win every single match, we all believe that we’re going to walk in that ring and right whatever wrong is in front of us. Every single person in this place believes that on any given week they can drop anyone else. Few do it Xander, few can actually put forth the effort to achieve the feat, few can conquer the task that’s put out in front of them.
I talked about how I was going to make sure Mike Best’s match was his last, how I was going to drive him through the mat like Kostoff wishes he could. That I burned down his stupid fucking school to get his attention. You could hold all that against me, you could hold my burning hatred for Lee Best against me. You could come out and say that I’m nothing but a liar, that I’m all talk. That all I do is come out here and spin fanatical fictional tales, that I’m the worst kind of liar.
But I’m right a lot more than I’m wrong Xander. I come out here and make claims, that I come out here and talk about how I’m going to wipe the fucking floor with another fucking pretender. How Lee Best must fucking hate them to put them in front of me, and I’m not fucking lying Xander. I tell you the truth as I see it, I tell you the truth from the view of a man who walks into that ring each and every fucking week believing he’s going to put his best foot forward and absolutely smash his opposition.
I’m confident Xander, I’ve always been confident. I have self belief, I’m not answering calls from the chucklefuck squad to talk about their stupid food processor. I don’t surround myself with yes men, I surround myself with fucking killers. I surround myself with my peers, I surround myself with people that believe in the cause because they want to fight for the cause.
My people aren’t like yours Xander, they aren’t looking for a sense of belonging. They aren’t looking for a family they never had, they aren’t begging for friendship and camaraderie. That stuff comes with fighting for what you believe in, it comes with having each other’s back, it comes with fighting side by side for what’s right. It comes from protecting each other, day in, and day out. It’s natural, it develops over time. Steve Solex is a happy man with a family, I happen to be his best friend. Steve Harrison is a crazy fuck with more issues than Sports Illustrated. Joe Bergman is a fucking legend.
We don’t need each other to go watch a movie Xander, we don’t need to hold each others hands when we go to the bathroom, we don’t need to sit around have fucking movie night. We’re individuals, we’re all capable human beings away from each other. When we’re together we enhance each other, we make each other better. That’s why we’re the tag team champions and you and Hollywood are out here getting smashed by me instead of fighting The Egg Bandits in a best of five. It’s because I surround myself with people I can trust, I surround myself with men who are willing to fight and die for the cause.
And I have a cause Xander, oh do I have a fucking cause. The best interests of The Highwaymen require me to keep smashing my way through the roster. Being at the top of the standings in High Octane Wrestling is important, it’s one more thing we can try to take away from Lee. He wants STRONK to get Wrestler of The Year? He’s got another thing fucking coming, because I’m smashing my way straight through to the top. I’ll wrestle every fucking week without a championship or a title. The belt was a means to an end, but I’ll walk out each and every fucking week and do a little murder over someone like yourself.
I’ll walk through fire to make sure he can’t have anything nice. I’ll run through a fucking wall, I’ll do whatever it takes Xander. I’ll do whatever it fucking takes to make sure Lee Best is one unhappy, masked face mother fucker every day of his life. I’ll make sure next time they mold that fucking mask those vents in the front are turned upside down.
That’s my cause Xander, what’s yours? Respect? Do you want respect? Then grow a pair of nuts and fucking do something to earn it. Go out there and pick a fight with someone, go find the biggest guy in the prison yard and fuck him up. And if that’s what you think you’re doing this week? Think a fucking gain. You could have walked out any week you wanted to and asked for this match on Chaos or Refueled. You had two years to come get this match, two years to come seek me out. Two years to look me in the eyes and tell me you wanted a fucking fight.
Because now the biggest bastard in the prison yard is looking for you. He knows you’re coming, there isn’t any surprise, there isn’t any shock, you aren’t unexpected Azula. I see you. I see right through the man that says he’s a fighter, I see right through the man that looks for your worst moments but doesn’t understand the context. I see right through all of it Azula, and I’m going to fucking show you that on Chaos. I’m going to show you what it’s like when the biggest son of a bitch in the yard see’s you coming.
I’ll see you at Chaos.
Oh, and fuck Eris.
I looked down through the observation window, I looked down through the window of the tallest deck in the country. Everything was so small, everything was so insignificant. The awnings of the store fronts were almost unviewable. The cars made micromachines look like Tonka trucks. Individual people could barely be made out. They were all just insignificant little specks of colors moving throughout the streets of Manhattan.
Even the buildings that had towered over me on the way here were small specks. Their shadows had an end. But from here, I could see the shadow the One World Trade Center cast across the island of Manhattan. I sighed as I looked down, it felt exhilarating standing up against the glass. It felt unbelievable looking across such an enormous city, and from here, everything looked so small and insignificant. My own issues that seemed to drag me down, I could see how little they truly mattered.
The perception is always that the world revolves around you, and I could see for the first time in a long time that wasn’t true. Sure, it all matters, sure it all adds up, but I could finally see the truth.
This is how GOD looks at us all. We’re all just the little specks and dots that move around beneath Lee Best. Some of us like the buildings below, become important enough to be noticed, but most of them remain insignificant little specks. Ants to a man, people compared to a GOD. It all felt so futile, it all felt so hopeless. I could feel the emotion welling up in my chest, I’d cried more in the last three weeks than I had in the last ten years, I barely shed a tear at my own fathers funeral, and here I was on the precipice of crying for the third time.
I shook my head side to side, I looked around the room, all the other people in awe. Taking in a picture perfect sunset sailing over the horizon of one of the largest cities in the world. The families taking pictures, the lovers holding hands. And here I was, miserable, a mess, a beaten man looking over the horizon.
I walked back to the elevator, I pressed the button to go down and looked at the doors. After a few moments one of them dinged open and a rush of people entered the building through the door. I stopped for a moment watching the last man exit, pushing a simple little blue cart covered in yellow signage.
You never notice the people in the background, you never notice the people that keep the machine running. Our entire world, as complex and as complicated as it is, is still built by individual people coming together for a cause greater than themselves. In the janitors case that was money, money for his family, money for his kids, money for him to continue to live a life worth living. His currency was money, my currency was vengeance. I craved it, I needed it. I begged for it.
I realized at that moment, that without the janitors, without the men that worked hard to keep this place running day in, and day out, it would cease to function. The upper floor would become filthy, eventually the building would rot and fade away. The observation deck would be condemned, the man at the ticket counter would be out of a job, and the chain wouldn’t just stop with him.
One man, and his friends could bring the entire thing crumbling down.
I smiled, and stepped into the elevator.