“I AM GROOT!!!’
If you thought you were walking into one of those situations where 3 words gets used the entire time like a child would do; you’re sadly mistaken. It’s movie night at Casa de Matthews. And I happen to love watching Marvel movies thank you very much. James Gunn’s critically acclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy blasts over my Bose speakers. My projector shines brightly cutting across the room, distracting from the gorgeous, clear night sky outline to my deck. The perfect setting for the perfect movie. I felt completely immersed in the experience as Groot began to break out of prison angry. It felt authentic as the sounds blasted all around me. As Meredith and her daughter Lexi kept sharing moments of throwing popcorn and laughter; I kept studying the range of emotions of Groot.
His loud voice bellowed deep within my soul. I’d watched Rick over his weird journey over the past few months from laughable comedic schtick to becoming the man who brought the fight to Kostoff. Most people would discount RICK based off his vocabulary alone. Shit! Fun Fact: I have 21 more championship accomplishments than RICK has in his entire vocabulary right now. He’s only muttered two words lately: ORDER and RICK. People would rush to doubt RICK could smell anything other than toast. Hell, the Bandits enrolled him in English courses to wise up the gentle giant. Their altruistic efforts continued to prove futile, but RICK still stood the test of time. I kept watching Groot’s range of anger, loyalty, and fearlessness as he went charging in. I felt the deepness in those three words every time. I had to use method acting styles to grasp those emotions, those feelings to understand who I stood against in that ring.
I kept throwing my unbuttered popcorn down my guzzle like a food deprived homeless person, just losing myself entirely in the moment. Anger! Those twinges of fury pierced my ear drums like nails on a chalk board. I slowly felt goosebumps rolling up my spine. I’d watched this movie at least twice a day to take in these scenes to know RICK inside and out. I had exhausted myself with studying basic psychology, human inflection, and even emotions. I never even once studied these things. But I had one simple task on the mind:
I NEEDED TO BEAT AN EGG BANDIT! I DESPERATELY NEEDED TO BEAT ANYONE OF THEIR UNIVERSE DOWN!
Rather he was associated with them or not, RICK had followed them throughout the last few weeks. And each of those weeks, I kept losing and losing to the Egg Bandits rather in singles or in tag action. I got bested by the Egg Bandits left and right after trying so hard to get Brian Hollywood on the same page with me week after week. I had let distractions and emotions get the best of me. But I wasn’t going to allow anyone from the Eggverse beat me again. I vowed it after walking out last week on the shit storm of a tag match.
I had won against Jiles, Doozer, and Dean throughout my career in this third era of HOW. My pride and perfectionist tendencies kept reminding me of that. The stakes continued to grow higher and higher with me letting Mario down. Desperately clawing to loss after loss builds to your psyche, especially after fighting against one of HOW’s greatest Tag Teams to date. I had gone to war with team after team in MVW. I had taken down The Southern Boys, the Truckin’ Average Company, but I had a team to support me. I had the backing of Mr. McMann’s SEC rallying behind each tactic I had employed on my own in HOW. But it just couldn’t fight through what Mojo the Egg Bandits had since I returned, and I couldn’t put my fingers on it.
As I tuned everything out around me, just focusing, looking like a madman pent on complete destruction; Lexi’s blue eyes focused on me. She leaned into Meredith pointing at me saying so sweet and innocently “what’s the crazy man over there doing?”
I heightened my senses, tensing my body up. Stressfully my body perked up while Groot and the Guardians kept taking out prisoners left and right. Fiercely fighting for my survival, I kept dodging attack after attack that kept coming at me, just working in cardio. Meredith rolls her eyes at me, chuckling under her breath. She’d worked enough hours with me to understand my unconventional match prep methods. She pushed Lexi’s hand down and wrapped her arms around her daughter, loudly whispering “It’s not nice to point at people. Mr. Darin’s training for a big fight.”
“Why does he have to fight, Mommy? He seems to weak to fight! Did he make someone mad? He should get them a gift.” Lexi’s sweet and innocent words jabbed straight at my heart. Had I become soft over the last few weeks? Had I lacked my own killer instinct trying to hide behind the pomp and circumstances? Had I lost the unbridled anger and craziness I’d possessed when entering HOW the first time that I chased our rival promotion’s scumbags off with a clown head and methodically planned murder?
Every bit of doubt surfaced, especially when I stood against RICK’s hardcore antics. Defeated and broken, I didn’t want to finish the movie. All I wanted to do was reflect. I had walked in ready to go to jail and now, I’d focused too much on the showmanship. I wanted the spotlight shown on me. I hadn’t harnessed anything I learned over the last few weeks from Mario from blowing up Hollywood Enterprises. I just went soft under pressure.
As the door’s sound echoed through the house, I marched straight out on the deck. I didn’t care about the brisk breeze outside my door. I didn’t care about making Mario pleased through my work. I unleashed the rage just tossing furniture around on my deck, getting pissed off I couldn’t provide. Meredith rushed out the door and just looked at me rather concerned. I jaunted straight for the railing, aggravated still that I couldn’t scramble one lousy fucking Egg.
“You let off a little steam finally?” Meredith always had a way to try and relax me. With her perfect white teeth beaming, her smile usually melted all the problems away. But I couldn’t shake it. I couldn’t shake Bobby Dean’s words. I couldn’t shake every loss. And I no sell everything. One simple statement from an 8-year caused me to sell for something! And I never fucking sell!
“You don’t get it, Meredith. I’ve conquered Hall of Famers in HOW, World Champions! I believe in my own hype. I’ve spent years pumping it out left and right. I control my own destiny. I’m the toughest S.O.B. on the face of the planet. I’m the Tyrant of the Territories! My outside HOW experiences mattered. And I let the dang Egg Bandits steal my goat. I let them break my mental psyche. I’ve let them use me as a doormat left and right the last 3 times, I set foot in a HOW ring and I haven’t lost since January when I left HOW. And I’ve fought some of the best in the God damn world…”
Meredith doesn’t let me finish my sentence before she wraps her arms around me and places her golden hair on my shoulder. I didn’t know how to feel in this moment. My pride wanted to push her off. I needed NO ONE to protect me. Especially how this business treats you! Everyone stabs you in the back and the simple sign of compassion makes you feel weak. But this time, I welcomed it. I didn’t want to pull away. I felt warmth, something I hadn’t felt in years. I didn’t have any friends to hug in this business. No one gave me the chance because they thought I had blown my shit up constantly or they thought I was annoying. It felt awkward to have a connection with anyone.
Her warmness continued into her somber tone as she let go of the hug as looked off towards the lake, just opening up: “You don’t know how much it killed me to enter rehab and turn my life around, Darin. I made killer money on the streets. I lived the time of my life…”
I interrupted her without a single hesitation, just shooting her a nasty, vile look. “I don’t want to hear a retirement speech. I’m not giving up…”
“Let me finish!” She exclaimed while continuing her thoughts after I cut her off midway through her thoughts. “I thought there was something wrong with me in those moments. I kept letting my guard while trying to figure things out before we connected. But it didn’t mean I was washed up. It didn’t mean I wasn’t worthy to continue my dreams of providing Lexi and myself a life worth living. Sometimes, you have off moments in your game. And the one thing I’ve noticed about you, Matthews, you either all 100% balls to the wall, guns blazing; or you give up and want to give up and panic in those moments. You let your anxiety control you. You tense up, you lose course and you sour on yourself because you’re a perfectionist.”
“You don’t understand this business. When I trained under Noah Hanson, Bryan Willett and Michael Norcia, I didn’t get grace. Any moment I fucked up, I got shit on. It pissed me off. It angered me. It…”
I paused in that moment and it hit me. I kept looking back to the past. I hesitated. I let up on the lesson I had spent weeks teaching Brian Hollywood. The pressure released off my shoulders. Showing her approval, Meredith’s eyes beamed with her smile brightening up. She patted me on the back as she exclaimed “release that tension. You’ll fight harder that way. Quit obsessing over every mistake and let loose. You’re over thinking things. I could tell when you were training in the moving. I might understand your OCD better than you think, Darin.”
I nodded as I closed my eyes and started to just meditate. I lost sight of who I was. I let Brian Hollywood shake my confidence these last few weeks. I kept letting the voices in my head continue to cast doubts and cast hesitation in my mind. But it wasn’t time to do that. This week I was standing in front of a 6’9” 425-pound monster who toppled Kostoff last week. I couldn’t hesitate this week. I couldn’t doubt. All I had to do was to fight like I fought to keep my wrestling career when I stepped in that ring. Because if I didn’t; I would get gutted by the last of the Banditverse.
“I’m a prideful man. It takes a lot for me to admit defeat at any stage of the game. I don’t like selling for anyone one. It’s why they’ve called me NO-SELL MATTHEWS. It’s why people constantly poke fun at me any time I lose and don’t accomplish my goals. They know how much a damn perfectionist I am. They know I get caught up over analyzing every damn thing I do to bring me down. They want me to make this one simple mistake and have my career ended in an instant. I hear them laughing at me all week. I hear the locker room pointing and laughing, making their ‘I told you so, I told you so’ jokes. They want me to step into that ring and overlook RICK. They want me to misjudge this 425-pound behemoth of a man who couldn’t utter words at him. They want me to call him PICKLE RICK! RICK MORANTIS! RICK ASTLY! Hell, they probably want to see me get RICK ROLLED worse than Kostoff did when he battled RICK to his limits.
Guess what? When it’s my life on the line: I’m not a prideful man. I know when a man could hit me harder than a semi-truck with the sheer punch. One who says RIIIIICK for shits and giggles nut when he steps in that ring the last few weeks, he gets the job done.
Hell no! Hell no! Hell no!
I might be a headstrong individual, but I am not stupid. I’m going to run. I fight smart these days, not dumb.
‘RUN MATTHEWS RUN! RUN AWAY FROM YOUR PROBLEMS LIKE THE PATHETIC LOSER YOU ARE!’ I hear the worthless fans crying at the top of their lungs. ‘GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS! YOUR PASSION!’ But I balk at each and every one of you asshats. I’m going to run alright. I’m half the weight of this dude. I’ve got the cardio up. I’ve trained my ass off. I’m nimble AF. You’re damn right I’m going to run because I’ve got more brains than RICK has words. I’ve gotten more titles than he’s gotten from creatively winning. It might be the flash, the pomp, and the circumstances you’ve come to hate about me.
But it’s all about fighting smart this week.
Some people target championships in HOW. Some come to prove their pride. But this week, I just want to bag a damn win against an Egg Bandit. I have spent 3 hard weeks! The 3 hardest weeks of my entire life dealing with dead weight and misfortune after misfortune to keep coming up short. It’s pissing me off to no end. It’s driving me crazy. Every time I see the win in my grasps; it’s one mistake after another. It’s to the point I don’t want a title. I don’t want the glory. I don’t want the god damn approval I’ve craved from my peers the last few weeks. I don’t want to crack jokes about RICK’S NAME or RICKS vocabulary.
I WANT TO BAG A WIN AGAINST A BANDIT. I WANT TO BAG A WIN AGAINST BANDIT FRIENDS. I WANT TO BAG A WIN MORE THAN RIIIIICK SAYS HIS GOD DAMN NAME OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!
It’s all I think about! It’s all I dream about! I crave it more than Mike Best craves cocaine. I crave it more than hoisting up 97RED above my head this day. I’ve buckled down in psychology, take downs, cardio, you name it. I’ve invested my time into because I’m tired of being the butt end of Bandit jokes. I’m tired of them getting laughs at my expense. I’m tired of them degrading my accomplishments all because I changed my branding. I don’t care if I stand against a 400-pound giant, and 12 million pound Bobby Dean, or Cardboard Dan himself. I promise you I will stop at nothing to leave with a win over anyone that wants to associate themselves with that lot of spoiled eggs.
I don’t care if he’s the hardcore expert or the hooked on phonics student of the week. RICK; I am coming to fight you this week. HIT ME WITH CHAIRS! HIT ME WITH WEAPONS! UNLEASH THE HARDCORE SIDE OF YOURSELF. Throw Eggs, throw coffee, hell, throw LOVE or HATE at me RIIIIIICK.
I’m never gonna give up.
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna desert my damn goal.
I will beat you when I step in the ring with you. No distractions. No games. No fun anymore. I mean business when I step in that ring with you guys. Your lot has disrespected my name and I will not tolerate it. I will not tolerate it at all. No more shenanigans this week. No more gimmicks. No more bullshit jokes. It’s time to unhinge myself again. It’s time to let loose. It’s time to bring that killer instinct I walked in HOW when I took Brian Hollywood out and let him in a pool of blood to prove my worth. I’m not afraid to cap your knees. I’m not afraid to break your teeth in RICK. And sure, I know you’re a fighter. You’re a grade A threat. You’re damn well sure I’m going to fight smart for the first time in my career.
I’m that desperate RIIIICK and I promise you, when I am done with you in that ring; I’m not going to be damn well proud with sneaking a win over you. I’m here to get the win and achieve my goal. And I promise you, you will not see it coming. By hook or by crook. I will not let you finish the hammer in this war. And I will beat an Egg Bandit. Mark my damn word! I will not let you RICK ROLL ME!”