“Well I prayed for peaceful waters,
But the storms already came,
So let it rain,
Let it rain,”
“Like A Hurricane” by Cody Jinks
How many times have you been broken by this place Jatt? How many times have you let this place conquer you? How many times have you fallen, and wondered if you could get back up again? How many times have you looked up from the mat, stared at the lights and wondered ‘Where do I go from here?’
Jatt you’re an incredible specimen. I say it every time we face off, the Keith Richards of High Octane Wrestling. You’ve lived harder, and been through more than most around these parts, and yet here you are, still standing, still the Jattlantic City Idol, or the Jattlantian, or the Sultan of Starrattle. You’re the pillar of consistency, the man that’s been the measuring stick around these parts through each and every era. You’ve been beaten down and broken, your wife’s lost her eye, your daughters in a coma, you’ve given your family for High Octane Wrestling, you’ve given your sanity, you’ve given up everything for it.
And yet here I am, wondering if I can put myself back together.
You’re a lot stronger than I am Jatt.
You’re not going to beat me in an arm wrestling match, or lift more weights than me, or run through a brick wall. But you have an uncanny ability to bounce back, sure you might bounce between Simon and Jatt like you’re some type of Jekyll and Hyde. But each time you reinvent yourself, you become something different. You leave something behind, some part of your personality shifts, and leaves just enough for the other side to take control.
I respect that, Jatt.
You don’t have to go through what I go through. You don’t have to go through the pain the loss causes, you don’t have to feel it like I feel it. You don’t have to live with the misery, you don’t have to sit outside your pickup truck and drink beer until you’ve pissed your own pants. You don’t have to be like me Jatt.
Instead you become someone else, through failure, you get to warp your own mind to take on some type of different persona. Yet here I am, suffering, screaming into the void, shouting into the nothingness. Feeling that lack of emotions.
And you get to smile.
It’s not fair Jatt, it’s not fair. It’s not fair that you don’t have to deal with the suffering like I do. It’s not fair that you get to turn into something else. It’s not fair that you can rebuild yourself into something else in the blink of an eye.
I wish I could do that, I wish I could let it all lie out there. I wish I could leave it all behind. But I can’t Jatt. I drag these losses around on my shoulders, each one a personal slight. Christopher America, Conor Fuse, Mike Best, John Sektor, Teddy Palmer, they haunt my dreams, they haunt my nightmares. They live inside my head, rent free. They eat breakfast with me and laugh at me, they watch me make a sandwich and cackle. They see me take a piss and laugh at my dick.
That’s my life Jatt, I see them everywhere I go. Simba looked up into the clouds and saw his father after he passed? I look up into the clouds and see Dan Ryan smashing me across the shoulders with a chair, I see John Sektor choking the life out of me, I see Sutler Kael choking the life out of me.
Each one of them took a piece of me with them Jatt, each one of them took part of me away from the ring the night they beat me. They took my pride, they took my confidence, and each time I have to fight my way back up, I have to build my own sanity back up.
And Jatt, I’m not going to let you do that to me.
I was struggling to see, Brandon Youngblood, the Ace of PRIME was on my back. I felt his giant forearms constricting around my throat. I felt him lock the choke in, my vision already started to fade as I tried in vain to struggle for air. My larynx was smashed together, and I knew the dire straights I was in. Brandon Youngblood might not be as tall as I am, but he’s a thick man, he’s a strong man, and he pulled on my neck and head with all of his might. I could feel my face become flush, and I knew I couldn’t escape. I reached out towards the ropes, but they were too far.
Then Brandon wrenched back hard enough that I was able to use his momentum to crash down on top of him. The crash of my near three hundred pound body coming down across his sternum wasn’t enough for Brandon to let go of the choke. But I was able to sneak a gasp of air in, the impact timed up with one more attempt at finding breath. That little bit of oxygen that filled my lungs allowed me to do the only thing I could think to do in that position. I squared my feet up with the ground and pressed with all of my might. I pressed with everything I had, I pressed like I was trying to squat a semi-truck. I gave it everything I had. I heard that snively little shithead referee from PRIME strike the canvas once, and the edge of my vision blurred again. I felt him strike it for the second time, and the bodies natural reaction was to try to roll, but I couldn’t do that.
I had to try to fight through the choke the same way I had always fought through them. I had to put Brandon in danger, that was the only way to get out of this maneuver. That was the only way to shift the momentum. Then I heard Nixon’s hand crash to the mat for the third time, I heard Nixon start to yell at Youngblood to let go, and felt the air rush back into my lungs. I felt the hot stadium air rush in, and I breathed as deep as I could as Youngblood pushed me off of him.
It didn’t work for me against Sektor, it didn’t work for me against Palmer. But against Brandon Youngblood, it finally worked. I grasped at my throat and looked back at the shocked Ace of PRIME. His jaw hung open, and he was barking at Nixon, but the spindly referee grabbed my arm and lifted it into the air. I looked into his eyes, and I could see the fury inside of the grizzled former PRIME Universal Champion. I could see the hurt in his eyes, I could see the pain, I could feel his agony.
He’d never tell anyone how he felt, he’d never talk about it with his friends that would comfort him as he walked back through the curtain. He’d say I was the better man, he’d say I wrestled a perfect match, he’d say what he needed to say to cope. But I knew the truth, my bruised esophagus, my almost crushed larynx, my bloodshot eyes, they were the proof.
I got lucky that night.
Nothing could change that, nothing Brandon Youngblood would say on the internet in the coming weeks would change what I thought of that encounter. The man had hit me with my own finisher and I was lucky to survive, he’d beat me around that ring like I was a dog. That wasn’t a show of strength, that wasn’t a show of HOW’s dominance. It was a pitiful whimper before Ivan Stanislav would destroy Christopher America.
I walked up the ramp with my music playing and looked back at Brandon Youngblood coming out of the ring, distraught. He was stunned, the moment had overtaken him, his lust for victory had conquered him. I knew that feeling, I’d felt that feeling time after time. I felt it as I lined Christopher America up for the lariat, I felt it when Dan Ryan smashed me with that steel chair. I felt it when I woke up staring at the lights, I’d felt that feeling for a month as I walked into that arena and California. And even now, I still feel it.
I had made Brandon Youngblood feel what I felt. I had done exactly what I wanted.
And I still didn’t feel any better.
You ever have to tear something down to the studs? You hear it all the time on those old shows on HGTV, they talk about how the home has good bones? Bob Villa walks up and knocks against a 2×4 after he smashes a hole in the drywall.
That’s what I have to do Jatt. I have to tear myself down to the studs. There’s too much baggage, I have too many shadows following me. I’m trying to get on a plane and I’ve got way too many bags to check. Even with the raise Lee gave me this year, I still can’t afford to get on that plane. Except that plane is the wrestling ring, and I have to march down the ramp and step into the ring with the wiliest of wily veterans. I have to walk down that ramp, torn down to the studs, with everything bare for the world to see. I might as well be walking out butt naked in Chicago, let the world see the bones, let them see what I’ve been left to become. They probably assume what’s happened when they see the bags under my eyes from the sleepless nights.
And the guy that might have ended Steve Harrison’s career is going to be standing there in the center of the ring waiting for me. The same Steve Harrison that almost crippled Dan Ryan was put out to pasture by you. And here I am, a wounded animal walking into a lion’s den. I have to drag myself down that ramp, and come up with a way to get past you. I have to come up with a way to survive you, just like I survived Youngblood.
And what do I get as my prize?
I get my shot at redemption Jatt.
I get my shot at absolution.
I get my shot at forgiveness.
And standing in my way is a living breathing, HOW legend. You’re fighting for one last ride, one last run to the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a great story Jatt, it’s a wonderful fairy tale you can tell your daughter when she wakes up. You can sit beside Gilda’s bed and explain everything to her.
But Jatt, it’s still going to be a fairy tale.
Because I have a chance to bury one of these shadows. I have a chance to throw one of the monkeys off of my back, I can have the chance at salvation Jatt. I can conquer my own demons at Chaos, I can take that next step in my life. I can put myself in position to finally walk away from Conor Fuse once and for all.
Do you know how much that means to me Jatt?
Conor Fuse is the only one that can save me. He’s the only thing that can set me free, conquering one of my demons, conquering one of the shadows, finding a way to fight against everything that rages against me? I’d beg you for it Jatt, I’d beg Lee for the opportunity. I’d get down on my knees and kiss the man’s feet, and I wouldn’t feel shame about it.
Because I don’t deserve the opportunity Jatt, I don’t deserve to be in this tournament. Yet, here I am, with the chance to bury two of the demons, with the right set of circumstances lining up. I can live with a few demons Jatt, you’re living proof of that. You can live with Mike Best staring over your shoulder, you can live with Sektor’s fiancee, you can live with your wife’s eye being on your hands.
I can live through some of them.
I just need to conquer the ones I can, and you’re in my way Jatt. You’re standing in my path, and I have to eliminate you. I’ll do whatever it takes in that ring, I’ll cheat right there with you Jatt. I’ll take it too far, I’ll punch you square in the dick, I don’t care. I have to get there, I have to fight Conor Fuse in the finals.
I’m desperate for it, Jatt.
I can feel it, I can feel the weight coming off my shoulders. I can feel the moment of redemption, the sky will open up, the angels will sing, I’ll feel like I had died and gone to heaven. You can’t do that for me Jatt, but you’re the last thing in the way from me feeling that relief. You’re the last thing I need to remove from my path before I can start walking the path to redemption.
You’ll be my last sin before I find absolution.
I’ll see you at CHAOS Jatt. Get fucking ready.
The lights were dim around the outside of Calvary Baptist Church, the winter evening still came early, and The Behemoth sat outside in his truck. He watched the parishioners walk in, wearing their church clothing. It was a Wednesday night, it wasn’t the normal fancy hats, it wasn’t church for the sake of showing off, this was church for the sake of worship.
Working families showed up in jeans, herding their gaggles of children, men and women forced to miss the weekend services filtered around them. The Monster reached over into his passenger seat, cracking open a beer from the cooler. He poured it into a filthy plastic McDonald’s cup and sat outside the church staring, watching. He put his window down so he could hear the congregation’s worship. He could hear the poor souls crying out for salvation, on the other side of the concrete wall. They begged for forgiveness from a higher power, they begged for forgiveness from a magical man in the sky that could make things happen.
Clay’d given up on the magical sky man a long time ago, somewhere between the chip in his brain, and never getting to meet his mother. He hadn’t decided which incident had really done it, but they had both assured him that the magical sky man wasn’t really there. But he listened still, as the faithful sang their hearts out. Some of the songs he could make out the tune, others he didn’t know, but they all talked about the same thing.
They all talked about salvation.
They all talked about forgiveness.
There’s no magical man in the sky, but there was a man’s forgiveness he needed to earn, a man he needed to repent to, a man’s grace he needed more than anything else.
How the sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me, ”