“You know I got black eyes
But they burn so brightly for her
This is a blind kind of love
Oh oh oh, the sweetest thing”
– The Sweetest Thing, Earl Pickens & Family
***The late night/following morning of Chaos 5***
The stench of sterilization was in the air.
Even through the seemingly one working nostril he had, he could still smell it.
And his jaw hurt too.
The taste of dried blood still filled his mouth.
He wondered if it was all worth it. All the bullshit with Solex. Ridiculing him in front of the military. Beating him under the watchful eyes of the Statue of Liberty. Having his eagle taken from him.
If America had come through HOW differently, then maybe, MAYBE he would have felt remorse. But America had none.
HOW had taught him differently.
HOW made sure that America was not that naïve. Not anymore.
As America laid there, he stared at the ceiling. The white paint was splattered with black spots in a haphazard manner that revealed no discernable pattern. Bill Right, America’s talent agent and assistant, was there next to him, sitting in a chair to America’s left, head buried in his tablet.
America was fuming.
But he also felt different.
He had some clarity of his mind, something he hadn’t had since before War Games. It was like something was missing and yet, a fog had been lifted.
In front of America, resting on the small desk, was the HOW World Championship. Laying on the table as if it was hurriedly tossed there. Before Chaos, America may have upended the entire place to ensure that the HOW World Championship was treated with the same respect and care as the Declaration of Independence.
But after Chaos, things had changed.
He listened to the slow beeping of the machine next to him as people shuffled outside his room and doors down the hall slammed shut. Bill dared not disturb him.
Lying there, deep in his own thoughts, America’s mind harkened back.
People don’t understand the relationship I have the HOW World Championship. They don’t understand how irrevocably tied it is to Steve Solex – despite me only really knowing him since my return to HOW.
To understand our relationship, I actually have to go back before the first War Games I ever competed in. If I am truly being honest with myself, I came in to HOW thinking I was hot shit but really, I found it difficult to even sniff the main events of our weekly shows, let alone our Pay-Per-Views.
And it nagged at me.
It was this painful cycle of doing well for a bit and then when the big opportunity came for me to take that next step, I fell flat on my face.
Personally and professionally, I was fucking pissed off. I felt like a failure. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t crack that next level. It didn’t matter how I was perceived either. Being cheered, being booed, it all ended with the same result.
Let me give you an example. When I came in to HOW, my first real grudge was with Scottywood. After I won the LSD Championship from him, I was on cloud nine. And then, almost as quickly as I won it, I lost it to Ryan Faze. Imagine declaring yourself to be the greatest LSD Champion of all time and then to just fucking lose it. Just to see all that hard work vanish in front of your eyes.
It was devastating.
And then, I realized, that in that moment, I was like Scottywood.
I was almost all bark and no bite.
Because I talked the game, for sure. But maybe, maybe the title win was just luck. And that… that doubt weighed on me in ways I am still coming to grips with.
When I entered my first War Games, I finished respectably, fourth place or something like that. Everyone was quick to tell me what a great accomplishment it was. They slapped me on the back, rubbed my hair, and told me I should be proud.
But I wasn’t.
Why the hell should I be?
What did fourth place get me?
Was it the LSD, ICON or World Championships?
It was nothing.
They were trying to get me to be okay with mediocrity or to be okay with being fourth place. Maybe they were satisfied with fourth place but I fucking wasn’t.
I wanted the win.
War Games, in that moment, became an obsession. I didn’t want it to become just another match. I wanted it to become MY match. I wanted people to shit themselves whenever my name was announced as a participant.
And on that fateful day in June 2010, I finally won.
I held the World Championship in my hand like a mother holds her newborn child. I looked down on her with such love and affection. While not married, we definitely had our honeymoon – that joyous time where you just bask in the jubilation of your win, and everything seems right with the world.
But all of that was short lived.
Fate intervened as she always does.
My first scheduled defense of the HOW World Championship was against a man I had never beaten to that point – David Black. It didn’t matter what I tried. No amount of training, no amount of preparation, no amount of focus was ever enough to beat him. Every time I faced him was like running into a brick wall.
And so all that joy, all that glory that came from being HOW World Champion for the first time in my life… was snatched away from me.
And I was left back at square one.
That’s Christopher America.
That’s the guy that won War Games.
That’s the guy that lost the HOW World Championship in a month, just like the LSD Championship.
Every title win was a fluke.
Every title win was luck.
And I grew angrier and more resentful.
I challenged Black again for the title because maybe I could finally make him feel the way I felt. Maybe I could prove that Black was the one that had a lucky night and re-establish myself as a force to be reckoned with.
But the result was the same as before.
Oddly, though the result was the same – I took a loss – and yet, I somehow managed to come out of worse than when I started.
THREE MORE FUCKING TIMES AFTER THAT AND I COULDN’T BEAT HIM!
NOT ONCE! NOT ONE GOD DAMNED TIME!
Losses continued to pile and no championships were won.
FOR A FUCKING YEAR, I FLOUNDERED!
But don’t worry, Chris. You’re time will come again, they would say.
As if I should be fucking happy with just waiting. Just sitting back and waiting for the opportunity to come up, hand me a contract for a World Championship shot.
Never going to happen.
So, the time for War Games 2011 came around and I got to participate once more.
And all that hard work? Gone.
That fear of me entering War Games again? That fear I wanted people to feel when my name was called? Diminished.
Only one person had managed to win War Games twice: Shane Reynolds. But he needed help. Both times he did it with a partner.
I needed to do it better.
I needed to do that alone.
The chances of winning War Games with 8 people?
The chances of winning War Games, back to back, by yourself?
But I was determined to do something that no one had ever done. Something that would re-establish me. Because I had tasted HOW World Championship gold once and I was going to do it again, even if it killed me. And if I was going to go out, War Games was the place to do it.
That night, after blood, sweat, and tears, I held aloft the HOW World Championship for the second time. Only this time, she had a partner. The ICON Championship.
I did what no other person had done. I won War Games back-to-back and I won both the ICON and World Championships on a single night.
And although that accomplishment was significant enough, I wasn’t done. The work hadn’t even begun.
The chase is easy.
Winning was moderately difficult.
Retaining was hard.
The very next week, after that hellacious War Games match, both titles were on the line in a triple threat match. And like before, I lost another title in less than a month, this time the ICON Championship. And although many will say I retained the World Championship, I call bullshit on that. Going to a draw and relying on the champion’s advantage to retain made me feel even worse.
Was this my legacy?
A man who talked a bunch of shit, could win a title, and then immediately lose it?
Nothing more than a transitional champion.
It was like whatever championship I won, looked at me, and realized they made a mistake before offloading themselves and moving to their new, rightful owner.
I began to resent the World Championship.
I resented her for the pain and misery that she brought me.
And so, if she was going to cause me pain and misery every time I won her, then I was going to make sure that she inflicted it on everyone else, too. The HOW World Championship during this reign wasn’t going to be a proud championship. It was going to be a cudgel that I used to beat and bash and break every single person that I faced.
And one by one… they began to fall.
Ethan Cavanaugh, my former master.
Scottywood, my first rival.
Even the great Max Kael, in a Bottomline match.
I used the World Championship to inflict so much suffering, but it still wasn’t enough. Something was still missing.
For over 100 days, I reigned.
And NOT A SINGLE FUCKING MATCH WAS MEMORABLE!
I can’t even tell you one thing about those matches. Not one thing about them that stuck out. Not one thing that mattered or one thing that made an impression.
No matter what match I had with whomever, there was always something more memorable than me.
It was like… even sticking with me, the HOW World Championship punished me, as if I STILL wasn’t good enough for her. I put my body on the line TIME AFTER TIME AFTER TIME but it wasn’t enough to satiate her.
WHAT DID SHE WANT FROM ME?!?!
The answer was simple.
She wanted both.
She wanted to be remembered. She wanted to be held by a worthy champion. She wanted whoever wore her to enhance HER legacy.
And I was too selfish about it.
I was worried about mine when I should have been worried about her’s.
Only by enhancing her legacy could I have enhanced mine.
That’s something I see now, but didn’t at the time.
And after 100 days as champion, she was gone again.
When I came back to HOW and entered War Games, I could smell the fear – that fear that I craved before. The World Championship meant a lot, but breaking the tie meant more. If I was lucky enough to win the World Championship, I vowed that I would improve upon what I had learned.
I would re-establish her legacy.
I would provide her with memorable matches, memorable defenses, hard fought victories that made her worth fighting over. Moments that people would reflect on and remember long after I’m gone. Moments that would be etched in the annals of HOW’s halls forever.
It’s something only I can give her.
And my mission is not over.
Steve Solex is tied to this because of what he is.
Steve Solex is not fit to be HOW World Champion because Steve Solex has had NO memorable matches prior to me. He’s not EARNED a World Championship opportunity. Everything he has done involving #97Red, he has lucked into or benefited from circumstance.
ALL BECAUSE OF ME!
But the reason that I know that Steve Solex doesn’t deserve her is because Steve Solex now is exactly where I was all those years ago. Sure, Steve Solex could upset me. He could take the HOW World Championship from me and hoist her aloft but the truth is that she would leave him instantly. Just like she did me back in 2010.
Steve Solex represents everything that I hated about myself from all those years ago.
He may have put me here in the hospital temporarily, but I am going to get out.
And I am going to exact revenge that makes him regret ever stepping to me.
When I’m at my most dangerous is when I am focused on the mission.
And I’ve lost sight of that in the last few weeks.
I thought that by breaking him down mentally, I would have the upper hand. Embarrassing him in front of his military friends. Beating him in HOFC. Having his eagle taken from him.
All of it.
And instead, it has somehow made him stronger and more resilient.
What I should have done is attack him at every chance I had. It doesn’t matter if it was in the back, in the parking lot, or in the ring… every chance I had, I misused.
And now, he has an opportunity to quickly take a championship from me and put me in the same spot I’ve been before.
I can’t let that happen.
I WON’T let it happen.
I will not allow some cancer-ridden, third-rate me, use Dead or Alive as the site to fulfill his Make-A-Wish dream and win the HOW World Championship off of me.
No, I’m going to do what the cancer should’ve already done.
I’m going to end Steve Solex.
I’m going to beat him and show him that he doesn’t get to ride my coattails to relevance anymore. He goes to the back of line. Back to the shadows. To wallow in his mediocrity.
I GET TO LEAVE HIM SCRAMBLING ON HOW TO FIX HIMSELF LIKE I HAD TO ALL THOSE YEARS AGO!
Because it means more to me than it does to Solex. Solex may see this as opportunity to justify himself, to justify his career, or even to justify his existence in the Hall of Fame. Solex may see this as an opportunity for revenge or to establish himself as the threat that he thinks this is.
But for me, it is so much more personal.
This is about me putting down Steve Solex.
It’s about putting down that part of me that couldn’t hold the championship for long. It’s about putting down the part of me that coasted with his championship defenses, and the part of me that was content with just holding the title but never making it memorable.
THAT IS MY PURPOSE!
And I will not have MY LEGACY — MY PURPOSE — dictated to me by Steve Solex. NOR, will I have it taken away from me by Steve Solex!
Because deep down, this… this relationship with the HOW World Championship is about mutual love and respect. When I started, I loved her from afar. When I held her, my love deepened. And now that she has chosen me once again, we will work together to further define our legacies and cement OUR PURPOSE.
At War Games, I took the first step in defining myself FOR myself. I escaped the shadow and confines of my wars with Mike Best. I’m not the trash talker who picks fights every five minutes with Scottywood. I am not the enslaved white man being beaten by Ethan Cavanaugh. And I am not the sidekick in a group of overly arrogant men led by Mario Maurako and Paul Paras.
Now, I am defined by my War Games victories. Defined by my World Title victories. And I will continue to define myself through another SUCCESSFUL World Title defense.
The next step is ahead of me.
Just beyond the horizon.
I see it all.
I will be defined by the matches and wars I will have with the other members of HOW, defending the HOW World Championship through Dead or Alive, through Rumble at the Rock, through ICONIC.
At Dead or Alive, I need to beat you, Steve Solex, once and for all.
For the championship.
For our legacies.
Mr. America? You with me?
America blinked rapidly. The scowl remained on his face as he glanced to the right.
Nurse: I’ve already given your paperwork to Mr. Right. As I explained, the bleeding has stopped. The stitches will hold, given a couple of days. The swelling should also go down after a couple of days. Okay?
America nodded slightly.
Nurse: I’m going to go ahead and give you a few minutes to gather your things. Press the button when you’re ready, okay?
America again nodded silently.
The nurse smiled, glancing at America, then at Bill, before exiting the room.
America began to sit up as Bill rushed over and placed his hands on his back, assisting him.
Bill: Sir, are you – are you feeling better?
Christopher America: No. But I will be soon.
America looked at Bill and Bill nodded back.
Bill: Back to work then?
Bill then grabbed the World Championship and draped it over America’s shoulder. America breathed a familiar sigh. An exhalation of air familiar to smokers that take their first drag off a cigarette after a long day at work.
In that very brief moment, everything was right with the world.
America felt complete; he felt whole.
His missing piece was placed back in it’s place.
And the clarity he once had…faded.
And Bill’s question still hung in the air.
Christopher America: Back to work.
America paused briefly.
Christopher America: In fact, double the workouts. I’ve got lost time to make up for.
Bill smiled as he tapped away on his tablet.
Bill: Yes, sir!
Bill made his way out of the room as America hung back.
He stroked the World Championship.
Christopher America: I’m sorry. For everything. It’s not your fault. It was mine. I’ll fix this and make this better.
For both of us.
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