I fear, dear reader, that I have gained a reputation as somewhat of an anachronist; a man content to live in the past, seek solace in the fashions and mores of yore, and – heaven forbid – dine off past glories. And while it’s true that I derive much more pleasure from the intricate weave of a herringbone tweed than I do a tawdry Hugo Boss knockoff, or find more sustenance in a four-course meal at the Savoy than an anemic-looking burger at Paddy’s Patty Palace, I am, above all things, a contrary old bastard.
Brandish me a patriot, and I will sing odes to rebellion. Crown me with tradition, and I will seek the halo of innovation. Hand me a roadmap, and I’ll navigate the uncharted. Offer me structure, and I will revel in chaos. It’s the de Lacy way, I’m afraid. Has been for generations.
This is why it pains me so to have to begin this missive by indulging my detractors and hashing over events from the past, albeit the not so distant past. Nevertheless, when the events in question are as contentious as the ones that took place in the ring during CHAOS 44, a brief retrospective is warranted, wouldn’t you say?
Picture the scene: Rhys Townshend, that potato-headed windbag, has been dumped to the canvas with all the grace of a lumbering elephant – yet another victim of my Dandy’s Decree. He is a defeated man, as well he knows. Indeed, it’s plain for all to see, even the monobrowed charlatans watching in the PNC Arena know the score. But Joel Hortega, determined to cast himself as the protagonist, chooses this moment to take umbridge at some perceived infraction on the part of Mickey, my trusted manservant.
Well, as I’m sure you know by now, I pride myself on my diplomacy. In that moment I turned my attention to the events taking place outside of the ring, intent on resolving matters cordially, only for Townshend to sneak up behind me and take advantage of my indisposition. Fast forward just a few seconds and I find myself suffering from a chronic case of whiplash and two places outside the top 5 rankings.
I mean, the injustice of it all!
It’s moments like this that make a chap wonder just how the Hortega’s of this world ever make it across the border in the first place, what with their flagrant disregard for ingenuity and common sense.
Then, to add insult (and further injury) to this sordid state of affairs, my old pal Shane Reynolds appears out of nowhere, spouting some gibberish about fancying himself the patron saint of lost causes, and almost decapitates me with a steel chair.
So forgive me, reader, if I find difficulty in summoning the requisite level of enthusiasm for a contest with Darin Zion, the poster child for overzealous enthusiasm and perpetual disappointment, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, my thoughts have been a tad occupied.
Nevertheless, I’m a game sort.
Oh, go ahead, label me as conceited and self-absorbed if it makes you feel better, but let’s not deny the undeniable: old Charlie here knows precisely how to navigate the dance of the ego and play the game. Ah, yes, this is the delightful segment where I do a little psychological dissection of my opponent, perhaps sprinkle a few sardonic comments his way, and fan the flames of anticipation for our imminent clash.
Oh, Darin Zion, where to begin? It’s quite the spectacle watching a veteran of nearly two decades in the ring still stumble around with all the finesse of a wet behind the ears rookie. Zion, the self-proclaimed aficionado of positive vibes and prayers, yet when the bell tolls and the sweat starts to pour, all that self-love seems to vanish faster than a puff of smoke, doesn’t it?
Oh yes, a perfectionist, they say, but perfection seems to have a knack for eluding him. Perhaps that’s why he has so little to show for his efforts. Aside from the rather modest collection of titles he’s collected over the years, just what has he achieved? Nothing. At least not since I arrived. While my stock has, last week aside, continued to rise, his has plummeted. A journeyman of promotions, a nomad of the wrestling world, always chasing after a mirage of success but forever falling short. It’s almost poetic, really.
And now, Darin Zion, in the twilight of a lackluster career, steps into the ring to face me, de Lacy. I suppose for him, it’s a last gasp at relevance, a final desperate attempt to garner some credibility amongst his peers. But mark my words, Darin, your journey ends here, under the harsh spotlight of reality, where the accolades of yesteryear will seem a lifetime away.
Let’s address a pertinent matter, shall we? I’ve tasted defeat more than a handful of times since my arrival in HOW. It’s true, but a good portion of my past defeats have come at the hands of opponents larger in stature, their brawn sometimes outweighing my finesse. Yet here stands Darin Zion, a man smaller in physicality than myself, a fact that should alleviate any concern about his potential threat. Size, you see, is but one facet of this particular battle.
The crux of the matter lies in the mastery of technique, the finesse that British training instills in its practitioners. A stark contrast to the flashy theatrics often favored by our American counterparts. While some may opt for a spectacle, we Brits appreciate the artistry of grappling, the poetry of holds and counters, the strategic ballet of the ring. Zion, despite his international wanderings and much vaunted experience, still falls short of embodying the refined craft I have honed over the years.
In this upcoming clash, it’s not merely about size but about the mastery of technique, the strategic symphony that only a seasoned British wrestler can conduct. Zion’s diminutive frame may give the illusion of insignificance, but it’s his lack of refined technique that truly renders him inconsequential in the face of my superior skill. Size may matter to some, but in the realm of the ring, technique and mastery reign supreme.
As CHAOS approaches, make no mistake: my pride is on the line. I view each match as a chance to showcase not just my expertise but to correct the narrative of those few defeats suffered in the past against larger adversaries. Zion, in his ill-fated luck, steps into this battle unaware of the fury brewing within me – a hunger to rectify past injustices, to rewrite the script of defeat into a tale of triumph.
Darin Zion, you are destined to be the canvas upon which I paint this resurgence, the unfortunate recipient of my rekindled fire and resolve. In fact, you might want to keep some retirement brochures handy, my dear Darin. After our little engagement, the allure of a quiet life might suddenly beckon. Consider this a complimentary retirement planning session, a courtesy extended to those nearing the twilight of their endeavors. May the ring witness our clash, and may you ponder the merits of an early exit as my own star continues its ascent.
As I stood at the middle tees of the eighteenth on the Chicago Golf Club course, enjoying the tranquil normality of a sunny Chicago afternoon in early October, I found myself stewing over the various grievances I’d suffered over the last couple of weeks. Between visions of Townshend’s gurning mug – like a tortoise that’s learned to enjoy the stink of its own farts – and Reynolds messanic posturing, I was perilously close to letting my professional life encroach upon my leisure time.
Waiting for the group in front of me to move on to the green I turned to Mickey, today in the role of caddie, noticing the deep lines of strain around his eyes, his almost alarming pallor.
We had lunched together at the club in silence, beginning with a dozen oysters and going on to cold silverside of beef and potato salad, accompanied by a well-chilled bottle of Château d’Esclans Garrus. Not perhaps the ideal prelude to a round of golf, even a little self-indulgent. But damn it, I needed cheering up, and counted every meal taken since my loss to Townshend as a tiny victory over the callous world that would allow such a travesty.
As we ventured further down the the manicured fairway, the sun casting a golden hue over the golf course, I couldn’t help but address the elephant on the course.
“You know, Mickey,” I began, my tone measured though barely able to conceal my lingering frustration, “I’ve been meaning to discuss CHAOS 44 and that regrettable incident with Townshend.”
Mickey, toying with the golf ball in his hand, feigned innocence. “Regrettable incident? Oi, ya mean when I got a bit carried away wiv me enthusiasm?”
“Enthusiasm, Mickey, yes,” I replied, a thin smile on my lips. “But enthusiasm that cost me the match. We had a finely tuned plan, and your… theatrics, for lack of a better word, disrupted it.”
Mickey sighed, realizing the weight of his actions. “I know, Charlie. It was a right impulsive moment. Got meself all caught up in the atmosphere, the heat of the moment. I’ll make it up to ya.”
Molified somewhat by the beautiful golf course scenery, I patted Mickey on the back, a sign of camaraderie. “I appreciate your dedication, Mickey. Let’s just make sure our next performance in the ring is a flawless one. No distractions, no unexpected exits. Just the flawless execution of our craft.”
Mickey nodded, determined. “Yer ‘ave me word, Charlie. The next one, it’ll be bleedin’ impeccable, a performance worthy of a standin’ ovation.”
Scanning the horizon, my mind turned to the next week’s show. “You know, Mickey, I’ve been dwelling on our upcoming bout with Zion. I reckon I can handle him in the ring, no problem at all. But there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, so to speak.”
Mickey furrowed his brow, intrigued. “What’s that, Charlie?”
“Shane Reynolds,” I muttered, a hint of wariness creeping into my voice. “The bloke’s got a knack for sneak attacks, catching one unawares. We can’t underestimate him, not for a second. The last thing we need is a repeat of the Townshend incident.”
Mickey nodded, understanding the concern. “Right you are, Charlie. We’ll keep our eyes peeled for any signs of trouble. Can’t let that sly fox catch us off guard again.”
“Exactly, Mickey,” I affirmed, a steely determination replacing the initial concern. “We’ll be on our guard, and we’ll give Zion a lesson he won’t forget. But let’s not let Reynolds turn this into a three-ring circus. Our focus stays sharp on the task at hand.”
Mickey grinned, his loyalty unwavering. “Yer got it, Charlie. We’ll show ’em what we do with bleedin’ cowards. Reynolds wants a scrap, we’ll give ‘im one.”
After the exertions of the golf course, we decided to retire to the cozy clubhouse bar as the sun began to set. Nestled in leather chairs, pints in hand, talk soon turned back to the upcoming bout with Darin Zion.
“So, Mickey,” I began, taking a sip of my pint, “what are your thoughts on our dear opponent, Mr. Zion?”
Mickey leaned back, contemplating.”Well, Charlie, he’s got a fair bit of cheek, but I reckon his flashy style might be his downfall. Y’see, Zion’s all show, naught much substance,” Mickey continued, swirling his pint. “He’s got these flashy moves, yeah, flips and spins like a bloomin’ gymnast. But that’s just it, ain’t it? It’s like he’s more interested in impressin’ the crowd than actually winnin’ the match.”
He took a sip of his drink and continued, “In our world, it’s the moves that matter, but it’s also the smarts, the tactics. Zion, he’s too focused on the grand entrance, the theatrics. That’s a weakness, that is. He’s like a bloke puttin’ on a fireworks display while we’re quietly plannin’ how to knock ‘im out, step by step.”
Mickey grinned, emphasizing his point, “So, flashy? Oh, yeah. Effective? Not so much. Our approach, Charlie, it’s like a well-tuned heist, precise and calculated. We’ll outwit him in the ring, no doubts.”
I nodded my agreement. “You’ve hit the nail on the head, my friend. And Reynolds?”
“Ya just let ‘im be, leave ‘im to me,” Mickey said with a sly grin, displaying a confident air of assurance.
It certainly set my mind to rest.