Wednesday, the Fourth of March Twenty-Twenty
|Quarter Past Eleven A.M.
We are at the Sky-Line Club Chicago. The private, exclusive, small venue of only a dozen tables and at this reserved time only two are taken. One by two executives having lunch and a far table in the back where Andy Murray and Perfection sit. The Scot, sitting side-table to Perfection, drinking whiskey mid-afternoon with James enjoying a flute of champagne. Witherhold dons his trademark charcoal suit, white dress shirt, gold tie, and Maybach Diplomat III shades rocking his face.
Yes, he’s wearing them inside.
Andy, well, Andy looks like he just rolled out of bed and was ready for the day. Unkempt beard, shaggy looking, with a black ‘High Octane Wrestling’ zip-up hoody on and donning a look of ‘the number of fucks I give is roughly equal to Black Mamba’s chances of ever making a single headline’. Now we get a waitress in shot holding a small see-through pitcher of pure orange/yellow liquid approaching the front of the table.
“Sir, your freshly-squeezed orange juice with light pulp, per your request.”
James looks at her with a smile. Andy couldn’t really care either way as he dabbles on his phone with his open hand.
“Ah, thank you. If we could also get a backup of neat, top shelf of course, for my friend here. That would be most, MOST appreciated.
Perfection leans forward and with taps the waitress too close for comfort on her thigh.
“Thank you, honey.”
Absolute sleaze from Witherhold, loud too, as he peers to examine her ass while she departs. Executives are still enjoying their lunch in the background. No one cares. Not even the Scot who takes a sip of his whiskey.
“Now, as I was saying.”
Perfection now takes the small creamer style pitcher of freshly squeezed OJ and lets a single, lonely drop, hit the top of his champagne before setting it back down.
“That right there. That’s how you make the perfect mimosa, my man.”
Murray looks less than amused.
“I waited half an hour for that shite?”
Andy says as the camera pans to a center shot of the two. Murray giving a hard look into us all before Perfection runs his hand through his hair now ready to address.
“Well, well, well. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”
A small sip from Perfection’s crystal flute glass.
“Too long actually. Honestly, when did you ever think you’d see my glorious face again? Let alone partnered with this man next to me that needs zero introduction?”
Witherhold points his flute in hand slightly to the direction of the Scot.
“You didn’t, that’s when. It wasn’t even a thought that crossed your minds.”
James free hand extends out towards the camera.
“I don’t blame you for it either. I kind of just…”
Chime in from Murray.
A smile and correction by James.
“… disappeared for a while. In fact, the last time I decided to step foot in a wrestling ring a few months ago it was almost a reflection of these exact circumstances. Except it wasn’t televised, it was low key, and with little or no pay. I was on one of those… what the hell do they call it, bud?”
A single word from Andy.
And Murr turns his attention to his phone that sits on the table near him.
“Yes, that’s it – I was on a metanoia! I flew to a country that I would have never stayed longer than twenty-four hours in… and I lived there. It’s true. A place most of you couldn’t even point to on a map.”
Witherhold lets the suspense build for a few seconds.
“A place called…
Oh, come on. Just a few more seconds.
Catching the slight sarcastic tone of Perfection a smirk pans Andy’s lips.
“It took a lot for ‘yours truly’ to step out of my comfort zone, to fly across the ocean first class, and work amongst people who had one one-thousandth of the skill at this table.”
Perfection looks over at Murr.
“One one-millionth of the talent of 24k some may say”
Andy shakes his head, just a cracked smile seeping from the corner of his left lip. Witherhold stays on this path of communication.
“I didn’t go to Japan to compete. I went there to find myself. I was trying to rekindle that spark that I had lost. Searching for why I even started in this business to begin with. I had…”
Andy gives a reassuring nod.
Perfection leans in a bit.
“Exactly – doubt.”
His eyelids closing just a smidge with the gravity of what he is about to lay down.
“And you know what?”
”I found the answer I was looking for… and in Japan of all places to boot. More importantly… I was tagged and partnered with the man sitting right next to me… my right hand man, Andy Murray.”
James plants his hand firmly on Murray’s shoulder. The Scot peers at the lense with an intensity not seen before.
“I worked night in and night out with him. Bonding through our winning, growing through our challenges as a team. Something no one in the States would have ever conceived and something the Japanese were too naive to realize the dynamics of.”
Perfection lets out a small chuckle before going forward.
“Months of working together, learning how each approaches this craft we love. Never once having to plan because we were one single competitive mind. All up until the point that I got sick and tired of sushi, sake, crammed public transportation and decided my… metanoia… was complete.”
A fairly large sized drink from the Scot.
“To say, after all this time, all that searching, that I’m looking forward to this opportunity at Refueled Nineteen would be a flat-out understatement. One might say I’ve been waiting on this moment for years. That’s right – years! Almost six to be exact.”
Andy now sets down his now empty glass. Gives us a six with his hands before the waitress returns and swaps the glasses. Andy picks up the new and full glass and begins to lightly swirl his new drink while James continues.
“Waiting for the night you and I, Scott Stevens, would step foot in the same ring across from each other.”
Perfection’s light smile begins to slowly turn to a big one.
“Scott, I mean that. It is a landmark oppurtunity… an opportunity to finally and forever plant my beautifully shined boot right into your big fucking mouth! It’s going to be amazing, almost everything a younger James Witherhold could have dreamed of.”
And there it is, the single right hand index finger vertical at mid-level towards the camera.
“Yet… not only do I get the chance to take you to task live in Rosemont, Scott, I get to do it with this guy…”
Perfection nods over towards Murr.
“…standing in the corner equally as excited to stomp you and your buddy Mamba both out. I get to do it with the man I helped when he was at his lowest of his lows, boys. My friend, my tag team partner and stable mate, Andy Murray.”
He then uses the same index finger to point back and forth between the team.
“We get to wrestle and shut you down in front of a crowd that actually appreciates us. That wants and is enamoured by 24k. For us to be able to stand on that apron, in that square circle, especially after so many years away from the ‘big time’… and then beat the living fuck out of you Stevens for a return…”
James moves the crystal glass back towards himself.
Sip of the ‘mimosa’. A swirl of the bubbly between the teeth before swallowing.
He sets the glass down in front of him.
The same waitress that served Witherhold his fresh orange juice and Murray’s backup returns with menus. First she hands one to Murray and then to Perfection who sets his down on the table. She bows out and leaves before James continues.
“I don’t want it to seem like this is all about me. Poor Murr here has been itching to get back in the ring, to get back into action as well. He’s been looking for an excuse for violence, gentlemen. Believe me.”
A very sinister look has come in the eyes of Andy Murray. ‘Violence’. Violence is what he has yearned for.
“Luckily for the rest of civilized society it’s you, Mamba & Stevens, he plans to execute that violence upon.”
“And you should be thanking Lee Best. You two may very well be the first ever to have been defeated in consecutive weeks by 24k. That’s goddamn history.”
Both Perfection and Murray nod in agreement, pure sync. It’s really unsettling.
“The first to experience what we have to offer collectively and the first two to ask ‘why’ afterwards. Why would we choose to sign contracts with Lee Best? Why did you two have to be the initial lambs on the Altar of Gold? But more importantly, why did we decide to decimate the Industry and the eMpire… before the Group of Death? ”
A short look over at Murray who has returned to extensively examining the menu.
“We wanted to make a statement at large. Not to you Scott Stevens, not to you Black Mamba, or the rest of you incompetent fucks. No. We wanted to make a statement to you. The fans of wrestling.”
Witherhold peers over the frames of his sunglasses.
“WE want better!”
He then takes off his sunglasses.
“YOU want better!”
Perfection now uses them to point at the camera.
“That’s right. 24k has been listening to you while others rather listen to themselves. We too see the state of the business at large. Fans of wrestling, Grateful, passionate fans of this institution… you were lost. You have been wandering the desolate lands of pro wrestling for roughly three long years.”
James folds in the arms of the sunglasses before setting them on the table.
“Three. Fucking. Years. I don’t blame you for just ‘switching it off’ as my good friend next to me would say.”
Shake of the head behind the menu from Murr.
“Plain and simple. It took balls for Lee Best to cut Mike out of the business end and put his baby back into operation. It took steel fucking nuts to throw four of the hottest names of this decade – BAR NONE – into his already illustrious collection. But…”
Full hand in a slow down motion.
“Oh and there’s always a ‘but’. Isn’t there?”
Shrug and nod from Murr again from behind the menu.
“It was your selfless dedication, Grateful Ones, after being abandoned countless times that gave us this very chance . A little bit of my finessing as well, not to pat myself on the back…”
Andy instead does that for him.
“… but mostly because of you.”
Double finger point before pulling them back. James looks honestly and earnestly at the camera. It’s a look we have never received from him in all our years of Perfection talking to us, the fans.
“You who make their way to Rosemont and turn Mannheim into a parking lot all the way past Higgins – week after week, after week. You decided to give this company another fighting chance.”
He points at the camera, right to us all.
“Not Scott Stevens, not Black Mamba, certainly not the Conglomerate of Cunts that fused together at the last opening of Refueled. They don’t back this promotion up with their dollars like the seventeen-thousand plus of you that actually put your money where your mouth is.”
James grabs his flute, gives a short ‘cheers’ motion with it.
“Especially those in the ‘Triple One’.”
Setting the glass down again Witherhold crosses his arms in front of his chest.
“What the rest of the roster doesn’t understand is that they aren’t you and 24k sure as hell isn’t them.”
Andy sets his menu down and gives off one of the cockiest smiles. Almost equal to Perfection’s.
“24k didn’t sign for the money. We didn’t do it because of the fame. We all… well, most of us, have plenty of both. Believe me. We did it because we already have established our pasts. Now, it’s time to establish HOW’s future.”
The confident grin pulses off Perfection’s face as Andy once again swirls his drink.
“You’re looking at just two of four very important pieces of that future. Let’s talk brass tax guys, gals, whatever the fuck you identify as – Lee Best has laid the foundation for possibly one of the strongest comebacks in wrestling history.”
Golf clap by Andy while holding his whiskey glass. It’s a hard task. Now a sip to celebrate it.
“If there’s one big take away it’s this, Grateful Ones: We aren’t here because we want showers of praise for merely existing or are in search of some owed respect we haven’t earned from our fellow peers.”
The Scot sets his glass down, looks dead at the camera, lifts his left hand and flips it a stiff bird while Perfection goes on.
“Because we don’t give a fuck about our peers or their praise.”
Murray then returns his hands to more important things. Whiskey and his phone.
“We’re certainly not here to win over their worth fuck-all respect and not here to suck the asshole of Lee Best until daddy gives us what we want!”
Murr looks up from his device and gives us a hard ‘no’ shake of the head.
“We joined HOW for YOU, the actual fans! The ones who put their asses in seats, who buy our shirts over at Pro Wrestling Tees.”
James extends his open palm hand in Murrs direction.
“Yes OUR shirts! Especially the newest, hottest selling shirt on the pro wrestling market.”
Murr unzips his HOW hoody to reveal said shirt. Perfect marketing.
“A shirt so chic it makes the bitches shake – the Hollywood Bruvs 24k edition short sleeve!”
Enough of that shilling as Murr zips it back up.
“Let’s be clear, we’re here to set a standard. To excel. To give you what you deserve which is the…”
Perfection jams his finger lightly against the table with each word.
“Promise. Of. Gold.”
Hand then turns flat and cuts across the confusion.
“The promise that our standard will always be the highest. That when Lee Best signed his name on each of our dotted lines, he did so knowing he just elevated this company one giant tick higher. And we’ll make sure to keep that promise.”
“Not to Lee Best, but you, the Grateful Ones… and most importantly, to each other.”
The Scot nods slightly before grabbing and lifting his glass. So does Witherhold.
“That’s what it means to be 24k, 24/7.”
The waitress now approaches again. Camera panning back out and right. Perfection puts his sunglasses with the waitress ready to take orders, notepad in hand.
“Are you gentlemen ready?”
Murray nods his head, glass still in hand.
“Fuckin’ aye we are.”