Opus Ignus

Opus Ignus

Posted on June 18, 2020 at 6:45 pm by Dan Ryan

Let me be candid, Mr. Witherhold.

It’s true. Technically, you have a shot at the World Championship this week. But James, let me say this, and I say it with as much professional love as I can muster — There are unclaimed remains on those beaches that have a better chance of walking out of Normandy with the HOW World Championship.

Your words hold no weight, James. You don’t scare anyone. You don’t intimidate anyone. You had a fighter’s chance at fooling everyone for a couple of months there, but it’s already become clear that you exist because Andy Murray got hammered one night and ordered a professional wrestler on Wish.

It’s like you’re almost decent. There are these little moments where you’re kinda fast, seem kinda skilled, look kinda talented. But unless there’s someone else there to clean up your mess, or you’re fighting some lower-level bum, it all fades away with the snap of a finger or the throwing of a single clothesline. Two matches in a row you weren’t just beaten. You weren’t just pinned. It didn’t just put numbers in your loss column. Two matches in a row you ended your night unconscious. You have permanent brain damage and a bad neck now because of those matches, and yet you’re still on TV pretending it was no big deal. No longer Perfection. Now you’re Pretension.

Your current meltdown is honestly the most interesting thing about you since you signed here. Mostly you’ve just chilled out in your little suite at the arena, smoked cigars, and trash-talked like you have Bell’s Palsy. Boomer Sooner, eh buddy? But now, you’re going into full-blown toddler tantrum mode and it’s absolutely delightful.

I kinda feel bad for you in a way. I feel like maybe you’ve recently suffered a terrible personal trauma. That your dumbness is partly actual dumbness and partly the after-effects of something horrible that recently happened to you. But then again, I’ve known people who had some pretty bad feely hurts, and they haven’t climbed into the above-ground pool behind their mobile home and trash-talked Lee Best the way that you just did. It seems like a bad idea to go after the guy who actually wants your team to win, who has a history of embarrassing and publicly humiliating people who cross him haphazardly, but what do I know? On the bright side, you’re probably gonna get that big public moment with Lee Best that you’re so upset you didn’t get when you were chosen for his team. I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess it won’t be the streamers-and-ticker-tape moment you’re dreaming of, though.

It’s as if since we decided to actually confront you, you’ve become the victim of the world’s longest ever game of ‘stop hitting yourself’, and you’re playing it willingly.

You’re slowly becoming the guy who stands in the middle of downtown and screams at the pigeons on the ledge on the buildings above. The hair’s a little more disheveled, the suit’s a little mussed up, you smell a little more like pee than usual. I’d tell you to take one of Andy’s pills, but alas, it seems he’s given them up. It’s bad enough that guy’s so cranky all the time. Now he can’t even share the good shit when it’s time to party, am I right, James?

And party you do, eh Jim-Bob? After all, that’s what you came here for, to fuck around with the lot you arrived with. You’re really good at fucking around. You fucked around and got a tag team title, fucked around and lost it to your own partner, fucked around and got your brains bashed in by Mike, fucked around and got your brains bashed in by me.

Because you allowed it.

I think you fucked around and lost your goddamn mind.

I would suggest you stop allowing it, James, because it’s been a really really bad look for you lately.

Who knew there was an expiration date on mediocre talent, Jimmy Joe?

Who knew that the life support cord you’ve had plugged in the wall couldn’t quite stretch all the way from Utah to Chicago?

I did, for one.

Actually, most of us did.

You might be the worst reader of the room in the history of this business if I’m being honest, and there are a shit-ton of people who could qualify for that list. You think losing to me is an embarrassment, and I find that fucking hilarious, sincerely. I’m not even upset, because you’re a guy who unironically thinks that he has a chance in hell of winning the World Championship this week even though lately, you’ve spent more time staring at the lights than Scott Stevens at a Christmas Pageant. You think there are people who don’t see you as hokey gutter dwelling beach trash, with your painted-on tan and fake teeth.

Your biggest problem right now is that you can’t see what is so fucking obvious to everyone else. You’re not in my league. You have never been in my league. You could be in your prime, which you are definitely not, and I could be sixty-four, on the verge of taking senior discounts at the country club, and you would still not be in my league. You would dance around, jump over ropes and throw your little ineffective offense at me, and I would still catch you and drive you into the fucking dirt like the bargain basement spoiled rich boy knockoff that you are.

Now you’re having money problems, and having money was the only reason anyone ever put up with you in the first place. I’m not entirely sure this whole tax evasion thing isn’t just a clever plot by all of the other places of the world working with the U.S. Government to ensure that you never travel your goofy ass to any of their countries, states, beaches, ever again. Imagine having to put up with you more than one day at a time. Fucking shudder. Do you think Andy will keep putting up with you when you can no longer afford to pay him not to hit you? What about when the government shows up to repossess his shiny new knee?

Can you even afford to fly over to Normandy, James? Do you need a place to stay? I rented out a rather large place, and there are several little satellite homes on the property. The estate is big enough that I wouldn’t even notice you were there, and that’s really the perfect metaphor for your time in High Octane. Seriously, just hit me up. I could send a car.

You might as well. If you’re worried about being able to pay me, you could just clean up the place once or twice. There isn’t an actual full time cleaning crew here.

Speaking of throwing out the trash…

“I’m right back where I started at War Games last year.”

That’s what you said, MJ.

I don’t think you’re right back where you started at all, kid.

I think you’re considerably worse off than you were a year ago, and it’s not even close.

A year ago, you were coming in as a heralded young talent, with some real bonafides on the indy circuit, a famous last name, and the support of some true legends of the business. No one was looking at you last year and saying you didn’t have a chance. You were a wild card, sure, but an exciting one. There was an air of possibility around you.

You won the fucking LSD title.

I don’t think that many people were shocked about that. It was impressive, to be sure. You were there right up until the end. You survived a hanging. You were the hot shit in our group after that match, with the big head to match it.

You disappeared for a while, but I don’t even care about that. You think you have it all figured out, but you still don’t have a fucking clue. You still think it’s just because you got cocky. Let me give you some advice…

Don’t cry too hard about what happened to the Industry. “Friends and family” is a mobile phone plan, and we were neither.

We were a business arrangement, MJ. Maybe you aren’t as smart as you think you are, or maybe you’re just far too young and naive, but you’re getting way too far up in your feelings about all of that.

I fought Cecilworth Farthington for the better part of the year. I’m the only person in this entire company that has even sniffed getting one up on him, when I won the ICON Title. He has mowed down everyone else in his path. No one has even come close. When you go to war with someone that often, certain respect develops. And since you want to know so fucking badly, it was him that sat across from me in a room in Chicago and offered up a partnership.

We share respect that comes with trying to kill each other in the ring. It’s the only thing that’s real in this business, but you don’t understand that yet. How could you? You never stuck around to earn any of that respect, and the first time things got tough, you ran for the fucking hills. You can’t just show back up, produce a famous father, and wipe that decision away with your little pro wrestler white-out. It doesn’t work that way.

You talk about betrayals and sneaking around and scheming, and the thing you’ve never been able to wrap your stupid little head around is that I don’t give a fuck about any of that. Not one last fuck about any of it. Go ahead and say I only care about what others can get me. I’ll tell you what I care about. I care that I’m teaming up with someone who I know will step up when it’s time to fight, who will spill blood when it’s time, and be right there to throw hands when it’s time to go to War. Fucking forgive me if I somehow don’t think that’s you. Go fucking figure.

For God’s sake, why the fuck do you still think that you meant that much to me anyway? Because I knew your father? Because I knew Randall and Ivy and have been friendly with your mom? I don’t care about you. I didn’t even ask you to team up with us. That was Eric. I did all of that for Eric’s sake because Eric’s always been much closer to what I would call a friend. You never even cracked the surface of that, little girl, and I’ll tell you something else while I’m at it. Don’t think for one fucking second that Eric really gives a rat’s ass about you, or any of the rest of us either. Because I’ve been his friend, I know that Eric Dane only cared about the rest of us to the extent that we could help him wage his silly little war with Lee Best. He’d been fighting that battle in his mind for a decade, and that’s all that fucking was. We were all his pawns the way you say I’m Mike’s pawn now. Get the fuck outta here with that shit. Everyone’s trying to use someone else for something. Your simplistic view of the world is exactly why I had to get the fuck away from you as fast as possible. I don’t have time to show you how to fucking grow up. Go do that shit on your own.

And don’t get mad at me because you put more meaning on our relationship. I’m sorry, MJ. I’m just not that into you.

But I will tell you one thing, Martha Jo, watching that little rube goldberg brain of yours trying to figure out how things happened and how things work is like watching a locomotive slowly start on a downward sloping track, picking up steam and picking up steam until it becomes clear that it’s going far too fast, far too recklessly. The gears start to pop, smoke comes pouring out from underneath until finally the engine itself explodes with a fiery bang and it plummets mercifully over the edge of a cliff and to the ravine floor below with an angry thud.

You don’t understand me, and that’s fine because I wouldn’t in a million years expect you to. There’s nothing about anything you’ve been saying that surprises me in the slightest because you have only the barest minimum amount of experience in this business to try to draw from when you’re doing your little “I’ma tell ya what you’re really thinkin’, man!” routine. I’m sorry, but it’s real hard for anyone to take you seriously. You’re like some kid who stumbled across a psychobabble picture book when her English class took a trip to the library and thought it’d be smart to stand up during an expert’s lecture to ask little gotcha questions. You’re playing yourself, kid. You understand nothing. Your plucky little second-generation wrestling kid charade is wearing thin now. That sabbatical you took didn’t change a thing about you. You’re still Punky Brewster as a wrestler, and we’re over it.

Give me another rundown of your team. Let’s hear you talk about mom and dad and Kevin one more fucking time. Kneesus Christ, I’ve never heard someone talk so much and still not say much of anything. Give us your take on Andy, your take on James, tell us you’ll see us in the ring. For fuck’s sake, you’re the most boring Seinfeld episode ever. That’s how much nothing you’ve been talking about.

God help you, kid if you think that ‘not ever betraying anyone’ is a competent stand-in for actually winning matches.

Betrayal isn’t even a real thing anyway, because I’ve never given enough of a fuck about most people to consider betrayal a possibility.

And Andy, you’re just as fucking bad.

Ohhh, you immediately threw Lindsay Troy under the bus. Ooooh, how could you be friends, how could you be family, how could there be trust?! Ooooh, my knee, I’m getting old, my pee-pee hurts when I go potty!

When did you realize that you’re just a much older, hairier MJ Flair with an accent?

Why can’t you get it through your mashed potato head that no one gives a damn about you being a bad father — shocker of the fucking year — or a bad husband, or a recovering pill junkie, or that you like to spend your Summer evenings crying over old family photos while listening to your Carpenters records? Why can’t you just age gracefully? Why can’t you, with all of your experience in this sport recognize the obvious — that you’re utterly and hopelessly doomed in this match?

The Minister, I assure you, doesn’t give a fuck about you. He’s far, far more dangerous than you realize, and if he tires of you, he won’t hit you with a chair. He’ll slash your fucking throat. Do you understand? He’ll literally kill you. And your backup is James Witherhold, whose neck is nearly broken after last week, and a child who right now is preparing for this match by playing footsy with some effeminate chef named “Kevin”. You can’t talk shit to the man, you can’t scare him, can’t intimidate him. Not with everything you have can you get the upper hand on him, and he will not come running to save you.

You’re in denial and you’re lashing out, Andy. I understand. We watched you sell the tale, then we stepped in to remind you who’s actually in charge of the story. Two weeks is all it took. Two weeks to tap you all on the shoulder and say hello. I can see why that would unnerve you, why you’d verbally claw at any angle to try and threaten us with who-knows-what.

I’m sorry, Andy. I forgot, you don’t make threats, you make promises. You write sins, not tragedies. It’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality. It’s time to pull yourself together. The inevitable is here, I’m afraid. You can’t talk your way out of this one.

I would suggest you get a metal knee brace to cover for your clickety-clackety knees. It’d be something else if you showed up with secret adamantium knees to hit us with this week, only, Eric Dane’s already kinda well-known for doing that very thing. I don’t know why I’m trying to suggest things for you anyway, come to think of it. That was my only real idea, and I’m sure you’ll come up with something much more original than that on your own. Besides, I’ve been teaming with a guy who has literal cybernetic implants. It’s not like a guy with a simple fucking metal knee would bother me. And actually, the more I think of it, if you actually did do something like that, I’d probably just call you Forrest Gump, and tell you to take your magic legs and go teach Elvis to dance or some shit.

So yeah, don’t listen to me. Just come up with your own shit.

You’re a very simple man, Andrew, and you want simple things. But poor Andrew is addicted. Might as well face it. You love the sport so much that if only you didn’t love it so very very much, you’d have been a model husband, little Marvin woulda given you that “#1 Dad” mug, and you’d be eligible to donate your kidneys to Cayle if he should ever need one.

But you see things in such narrow ways, it’s no wonder you continually walk into things and hurt yourself. I bet you have a dog. I bet you have a dog and I bet you named your dog Andrew, just like you. And I bet little Andrew thought he was just the best little doggy because his daddy was just the best little daddy, and after all why not? His name is Andrew too! And I bet little Andrew had no idea why the other doggies didn’t immediately think he was the king of doggies. Why do they make fun of little Andrew? It’s not his fault his little puppy knees hurt. It’s not his fault he doesn’t read good. Most doggies can’t read good! It’s not his fault his little puppy brain doesn’t understand complex human emotions or how words go together properly. Daddy never taught little Andrew that! But little Andrew still wuvs his daddy. Daddy is the best. Daddy will always be the best daddy in the whole wide world.

The truth is, all of this is so much more complex than you realize, but I won’t be mad at you anymore. You can hate me if you like, and that’s fine, I don’t care either way, but I won’t be mad at you. I realize you aren’t capable of understanding what you’re really walking into on that beach.

You think you can exorcise a few demons, and that’ll be enough to get you through this. But this is gonna be misery for you, Andy. You won’t win, and you might get legitimately murdered by your own partner. It’s gonna be a real learning experience for you, just like it was for me last year. I still hold out a little hope — hold out the slightest glimmer of hope, that unlike Molly Jean Flair, you won’t be right back where you started last year. I hope you learn your lesson well. I’d love nothing more than to get back into the ring with you one more time because God knows that what we did a couple of weeks ago was just the appetizer. There’s so much more to come.

If there’s anything left of you after War Games, I want you to consider this an open invitation to come and seek me out for round two. Leave your friends at home, and I’ll leave mine. Just say the word.

I’m always willing to feed that addiction again.