Prelude – October 16th, 2022
A familiar voice echoes throughout the halls of the San Francisco arena. Everyone’s ears in the nearby radius perk up. The cameras pan to the source of the disturbance: a door labeled Office of GOD.
“FUCK YOU, YOU BALD BASTARD! I’VE GIVEN YOU THE BETTER PART OF 8 YEARS! YOU FUCKIN’ BREACHED MY CONTRACT! YOU VOWED BRIAN HOLLYWOOD AND I WOULD NEVER SHARE A RING AGAIN. WORST OF ALL, YOU MADE ME WRESTLE WHEN I WASN’T CLEARED YOU DIPSHIT! YOU SET BACK MY PRECIOUS CAREER. YOU CAUSED MY NOSE TO GET REINJURED. FUCK ALL OF THIS AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, FUCK HOW! YOU DO NOT APPRECIATE REAL LOVE AT ALL…”
Before the tirade continues, EPU guards flank the surrounding area. Lee Best’s guards barge through the door and drag out REAL LOVE Darin Zion out of the office. Kicking, screaming, and flailing around in the air, REAL LOVE’s face turn’s a distinct bright maroon color.
Darin Zion: Get your filthy fuckin’ paws off me this instance or I’ll tie this fuckin’ company up in so much litigation. I don’t give a flip if I’ve got the worst record on the roster. My lawyers will ruin this company. I’ll conquer GOD and take him for every fuckin’ penny he’s earned.
After relentlessly squirming around for a few minutes, Darin frees himself and charges back towards Lee Best’s door. More EPU guards charge towards the annoying pest and tackle him straight to the ground. Zion’s neck twists and contorts to avoid them.
Darin Zion: I HATE YOU ALL! YOU’VE MADE MY LIFE SO FUCKIN’ MISERABLE WITH THE BANS, INSULTS, ETC. I’LL FUCKIN’ SHOW YOU ALL! WATCH ME OUTSHINE THIS SHIT HOLE WHEN I KEEP WRESTLING IN PRIME! 2BECOME WILL BECOME THE PRIME TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS AND YOU WILL RUE…
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZTTTTTTT!!!!! ZZZZZZZZZZZTTTT! ZZZZTTT!
Before Zion can even finish the statement, the EPU guards tase Zion with immense force, knocking him out. The Red Skull Masked Crusaders pull Zion’s lifeless body off the ground and toss him out the back door like a full sack of trash, slamming the door behind them. REAL LOVE rolls around, slowly waking up–clenching his fists together before walking off.
Date: December 7th, 2022
Time: 9:27 PM
Location: The Fields of Thakker Ranch – McComb, OK
It’s a brilliant, bright, and starry night out in the middle of nowhere. No clouds fill the night sky, no bright LED city lights polluting the view. The stars glow like tiny diamonds in the sky. The temperature is perfect for a relaxing bonfire–a brisk 57 degrees outside, a soft wind blowing over your skin. The animals fell asleep for the night, leaving one in silent solitude.
Before long, REAL LOVE Darin Zion walks into the picture pulling a huge wagon of supplies with him. Dressed in his denim jeans and jacket; REAL LOVE is sporting his LOVE MATTERS trademark shirt underneath. Alongside him, he wheeled in a wagon carrying the supplies for a perfect night of peace: firewood, some charcoal fuel, a fire pit, and his trusty Yamaha acoustic guitar.
Grabbing the supplies, Zion readies his fire. After pouring an insane amount of fluid into his self-made fire pit; REAL LOVE sets it ablaze. The embers glow with a beautiful gleaming orange and yellow light. Pulling out his guitar, he strums a familiar tune by Ed Sheeran. His voice intensifies when he hits the pre-chorus.
“Don’t think I fit in at this party
Everyone’s got so much to say (yeah)
I always feel like I’m nobody, mm
Who wants to fit in anyway?”
Pausing for a moment, Zion fixates himself upon the stars, pondering his life choices. Crossing his arms against his chest, REAL LOVE’S about to ease back before the rustling of footsteps startles him. Darin’s fists fly straight into the air before a familiar face appears in front of him.
Jackson Thakker: Relax there, killer! Yew don’t hafta worry, brother. It’s only me! Couldn’t help ta listen in on y’er concert to nobody. Gotta say, yew inherited mom’s singing voice…
Jackson rests his arms into his jean’s pockets. For a moment, Zion sizes up his brother, who donned the trademark redneck wife beater, black cowboy hat, jeans and a hoodie. However, REAL LOVE lacks the energy to perform. Darin shakes his head before falling back into the coarse, dead brush behind him. Letting out a painstaking sigh, Zion rolls his eyes into the back of his head.
Darin Zion: Honestly I don’t want to hear stories about mom. The bitch abandoned me when I was 3 years old. She left me to tend to an alcoholic bastard all alone. What the hell do you want?
Jackson taps his foot for a moment, pondering his next words. Stroking his long, black mustache, the Cowboy walks towards Zion before pulling his phone out. Thumbing through some videos, Thakker presses play on one that piqued his curiosity. It’s a clip of Zion’s promo from REVIVAL 20 on the ACE Network. Jackson pauses after the following line from Zion:
“But most of all… I’m sick of two people… two owners. One isn’t with this company, so I’ll deal with his blocking ass later but the other one revived PRIME.”
After placing his phone back into his hoodie pocket, Jackson prods Zion. The muscular Oklahoman kneels down to Darin’s level, crossing his arms.
Jackson Thakker: Care to talk ‘bout what I just saw? I thought you were done with Patchy the #97RED bearded pirate. He unceremoniously fired your ass after your temper tantrum.
Darin Zion: BLAH! BLAH! BLAH! I don’t want to hear it from you. I meant every damn word I said in that promo, Jackson. Once I’m done capturing the PRIME Tag Team Title–I’ll remedy my #97RED ledger of mine personally. I’m tired of everyone thinking I am a joke–Lindsay Troy, Lee Best, the HOW roster. It’s time for me to earn the damn respect of the locker room by accomplishing something. In due time, I may get my revenge. But if you think it’s about earning redemption–I’m done with that.
As Zion gets back up to my feet and wipe the dirt and brush from me, he catches a glimpse of Jackson slapping his palm against his forehead. As his hand slowly moves over his jaw, he pauses to contemplate his next words.
Darin Zion: You think I’m not being honest with myself?
Jackson Thakker: I don’t think–I know yew ain’t. Y’er once again pounding y’er chest like a gorilla. Y’er hopin’ to assert dominance in the situation. Y’er loud mouth says it all.
Before wasting another breath, arguing; Zion pulls out my iPhone and shoves it straight into Jackson’s face. On the phone displayed a message from Lee Best.
“I see you asshole! Talking shit on the side!”
Darin Zion: Think it didn’t work now? I got Best’s attention. That man wants what he knows he cannot have any more. I’ve spent 8 years working for that man. You don’t think I know how to crawl under his skin by now and get his attention. He took the bait hook, line, and sinker.
Thakker’s eyes widen while he scrolls down reading the other messages Jackson nods before adding his thoughts in an unenthusiastic tone.
Jackson Thakker: Sonuva Bitch! Guess y’er right ‘bout something.
Darin Zion: I’ll handle that in due time, Jackson. Right now, it’s not about Lee Best. I need to get my head on straight and find myself again. I feel like I’ve lost my way. Doing the same damn thing for 15 years breeds complacency. I grew too comfortable and I need to do some soul searching. I’ve gotta give myself some tough love before I decide to accept his offer.
Jackson Thakker: Do what ye must, brother. We got plenty of time for you to do some soul searching. Just do me a favor. Make absolutely sure this is what you want. Don’t get lost in all the bullshit politics this time.
Darin nods at his half brother before pulling the bastard in for a hug. After embracing for a few minutes, REAL LOVE locks his eyes with Thakker’s.
Darin Zion: Don’t worry, Jackson. If I re-sign with HOW; I won’t do it for Lee. I won’t do it for Hollywood or anyone else. I’ll do it because I have unfinished business.
-r u serious, Zion?
how could u do this?
u rejoined HOW?!?! WTH!!! bae thinks u r on a suicide mission.
member how lee disrespected u
-It’s none of your damn business, Vickie. Besides, you and your bae left me hanging…
-zion..that bastard is toxic. stay the course in PRIME.
LB just gonna use you like a fuckin’ puppet.
bae loves and respects u enuff to makes amends.
-It is my personal business. I’ve got unfinished business to tend to there.
-u think the machine wants u?
LB’s gonna use u again.
gonna steal all ur merch monies
he will undervalue and under appreciate yew unlike 2B1.
we understand ur luv, hun.
-leave me alone, Vickie. Let me do my thing in peace. It’s business.
Don’t worry about me, I can handle this. I got a plan.
-we do too! make a 2B1 in how.
u will make bank, boo. trust me and jonathan
zion, answer me! u could print millions
-Like I said, Vickie…I gotta do this myself. Leave me alone.
Date: January 14th, 2022
Time: 10:05 PM
Location: Honda Center–Anaheim California
The halls are abuzz with excitement after the first PWA event concluded. Everyone’s packing up their belongings, heading back towards their hotels. As the camera pans around throughout the hallway; the locker room door flies open. Out walks Darin Zion with his trademark duffel bag in hand. Zion stops to rub the small cut above his left eye brow. REAL LOVE checks down at his phone for a minute before Brian Bare comes barreling down the hallway. Without a second thought, Brian rushes up to approach Zion after his big win over PRIME’s Rocky De Leon.
Brian Bare: Darin! Darin! Darin! I’ve been looking for you all night long! First, the crowd wants to know…as an 8 year veteran of HOW–tonight you represented PRIME first. It’s unusual for you to waiver support from #97Red. What is up with that change of pace?
Zion crosses his arms against his chest. His right eyebrow raises up before shaking his head. It takes every inch of effort left in Zion’s body, but REAL LOVE’s biting his teeth down on his lips. Darin wants nothing to do with that question.
Brian Bare: Oops! Sorry, I was told not to ask questions about that situation.
Darin rolls his eyes, continuing to head towards the door. As ZIon pushes Bare backward; HOW’s awkward announcer continues in pursuit of REAL LOVE.
Brian Bare: Anyways, congratulations on your big win against Rocky De Leon tonight. You put up a hard fought battle earning your second win in a row. It’s a rare occurrence for Zion to pile up wins these days.
Darin Zion continues to nod at Bare, politely trying to excuse himself. However, the pest continues to badger Zion.
Brian Bare: Anyways, you’ve got an upcoming match against Scott Stevens in HOW’s LSD Championship tournament and no doubt you’re looking to capitalize on that momentum to regain some HOW gold. What message do you have for Scott Stevens?
Zion exhales an audible breath of air before marching onward. He doesn’t have any time to answer Bare’s stupid questions.
Brian Bare: Ah cold shoulder! It’s exactly how you’re treating your 2B1 Besties right now. Fair enough; gotta keep that playbook close to your chest. Speaking of the Love Convoy–any chance you’ll invite them back into your corner in HOW to stop Stevens. After all, Stevens is on a role. He’s a former Tag Champ and…
Darin Zion: HOOOOOOOOOOOOOONKK!!!
Bare shoots Zion a look of perplexion. When Bare tries to speak again, Zion meets him with more annoying sounds.
Darin Zion: HOOOOOONK! HOOOOOOOOOOONK! HOOOOOOONK! HOOOOOOONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HOOOOOOOOONK!
Zion gets up in Bare’s grill as he finishes the last one and chases him away. Zion’s shoulders relax. Taking a few moments to breathe and relax more, the gears in REAL LOVE’s mind turn. While scratching his chin, Darin realizes for the first time–he’s at a loss for words. A confused look forms on his face while he continues to leave the arena.
“Let me take some time to show some REAL LOVE to my fans. I’m still in shock after I won against Rocky De Leon at PWA-01. Normally I’d take the time to brag and boast about getting one single win. I’d let the damn victory define me and lose sight of what is ahead of me.
But I can’t do that against someone I consider a true friend.
What fans don’t know is Scott Stevens and I know each other inside and out. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other over the past 8 years. You wouldn’t hear me normally admit this publically, but Stevens deserves all the accolades he’s earned over the years. From the HOW Title wins to his Hall of Fame induction—that man has been through hell and back.
For all the shit he’s been through—Stevens has overcome the odds and made quite the name for himself. True be told, when this match got announced—I dreaded it. And seeing how JPD destroyed him with the LSD Belt—I know it pissed him off.
And the one thing I learned over my career; hell hath no fury than a pissed off Texan. Jace gave Stevens some tough love and loaded the proverbial gun against me. And we all know damn well that a Texan like Stevens will take the gun and shoot anyone in his path towards revenge.
But he’s not the only one who’s got his back against the wall at the 11th hour. I also have everything to lose in this first round match up.
When I returned to HOW—I got an ultimatum: this is my LAST chance. And we all know in life, tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I only have one year to prove myself. I’ve got to reach deep down from within to make changes. Otherwise it’s curtains for REAL LOVE.
The pressure is on me now more than ever to make changes and improve. And let me drop the curtain and continue to be REAL; I came back with a lot of uncertainty. I didn’t have any grand plans, crazy monikers, or bullshit to hide behind anymore. It’s the first time I have no other choice but to take things one day at a time.
I’ve got to buckle down and make changes–and one thing I know I’ve got to do: kill whatever past I created for myself.
To paraphrase PRIME’s Brandon Youngblood–this match HAD to be against Scott Stevens. Why?
Because I see all the bad parts of my past all bundled up in Scott’s current career trajectory.
Over the past 3 years, I pandered too much for the HOW crowd. I tried to become a caricature of how they all perceived me. I jettisoned my career into a nosedive and crashed and burned hard. I spent too much time trying to tickle the Best Family’s jollies or trying to win friendship with the HOW locker room–that I lost myself.
Rather Stevens wants to admit it to himself or not–he’s still trapped in the same tailspin I felt. Scott wants you to believe he’s no longer a puppet. He wants to drop his guard and dish out a helping of tough love, but in reality–he keeps missing the point everyone’s trying to tell him.
JPD tried, Christopher America tried, and hell the entire locker room has tried for years. Stevens gets his head caught up in his fuckin’ character too much. He loses himself too much in pleasing the masters who do not give one shit about him–and chokes when it matters.
He’s searching for the same praise and adoration I chased for 8 years. Hell he’s still jumping up and down trying to retrieve that fuckin’ carrot Lee Best dangles in front of him. He wants the glory of standing alongside the Final Alliance, the Best Alliance, whatever they call themselves this week.
He believes the MACHINE needs him. He’ll yammer on constantly about how they selected him for War Games. He continues to brag about all the championships and accomplishments he’s earned in the previous eras thinking someone will erase them.
Well Stevens, here’s a dose of Tough Love. You’ll never be one of them. I won’t be one of them either. I’ve let it go. The past doesn’t matter; it’s about what you’ve done today. I learned that the hard way.
You can’t stay stuck in the past or get caught up in the details of the future. Focus on the here and now. It will not carry you to present day success.
I’ve grown and evolved over the past 3 months. You want to claim I’m the same Darin Zion I was in the past. But if that was the case–Lee Best wouldn’t have re-signed me to HOW if that’s the case.
I’m not coming into Chaos 019 that loveable dipshit you hope you can gain an easy win over. No, I’ve got one simple purpose. I’m coming to kill MY past. I’m fighting to earn my damn respect back.
And you’re the perfect metaphor for it, Scott. Every time you gloat about your accomplishments to my face–I’m going to kick your damn face off. Anytime you sing praise to Lee Best–I’m gonna wrap my arms around your neck and suffocate you. Each time you try to insult me–I’m gonna ignore it and beat your ass within an inch of your life.
Because every time I look at you–I see my demons. I see them trying to drag me back into the depths of my own personal hell. I hear them preparing the shackles, hoping to enslave me back to my past sins.
I’m coming back into Chaos readying to conquer the epitome of who I once was to move forward. So here’s some tough love, Stevens. Drop the tough guy act. Stop slinging your bullshit trash talk at me. Don’t get caught up in all your Stevenspedia bullshit and what you KNEW about me. Do not get distracted by your bullshit feud with JPD.
Come at me with your best. Because I damn well won’t misjudge you. I know what it means if I beat a former 3 Time HOW Champion to earn my third win back. It’ll jettison me straight to the LSD Championship and then #97RED. I won’t underestimate you, so you better not do the same to me.
Otherwise, you and Rocky De Leon can meet up and discuss what it’s like to lose to Darin Zion.”