The heart of the Bandits has been taken.
The Hollywood Bruvs kidnapped Cardboard Dan Ryan.
In order to fully understand the ramifications of what Maui Unlikely and the rest of the Jesse James Kendrix Gang did this past Saturday night, you must first understand what CBD means to The eGG Bandits. He is not simply a piece of cardboard carried around for shits and giggles. Yes, he might have started off that way many moons ago; an in-joke about how easily we could get him over more than his real life likeness.
But Cardboard Dan has evolved into so much more since then. He’s matured, if you will. He’s transcended the production line, taken on a life of his own, and now stands as the constantly flexed middle finger we Bandits like to wave at the boring and the stale. We’re looking at you; the steak eaters and the blood bathers who riddle High Octane’s roster with barbaric lunacy and unchecked levels of testosterone.
While the mission statement remains unchanged, our monument personifying it has fallen. As such, I’ve decided to bear the cross of CBD’s expedited return on my own.
This is my calling.
To his captors, I say this:
If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. Hair products and extra T-shades add up. BUT! What I do have is a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for Mongoloids like you. If you let CBD go by August 8th, that’ll be the end of it. If you don’t, in order to secure the guarantee of his release, I will choose him to be my partner in the tag team title match at No Remorse.
The Maestro and CBD versus The Hollywood Bruvs, for the Tag Team Championships of the World.
Hope you were sitting just then.
And I guess that means the clock is ticking.
The Egg Den
The round table inside the eGG Den at One Bandit Way is nothing special. You certainly wouldn’t confuse it for the six by one oak slab you’d find serving the same purpose at 13 Hammer Crumb Street. Rather, our table is of modest means with metal folding legs that squeak like Dan Ryan when you open and close them. Much like the room where our used housewarming gift can be found, and any of the other adjoining rooms for that matter, there are no trinkets or pleasantries. The heads of those who have fallen to the Bandits aren’t mounted on the walls in ascending buck point order. Championship gold, from a time and place that isn’t relevant to the here and now, aren’t in display cases for visitors to hopefully see and fawn over.
Fuck, we barely got toilet paper.
But we do have all the eggs you’d ever need.
Truth be told, the only thing of any importance inside the eGG Den are the knights of yolk and shell who dwell inside of it. Oh, and of course my hair product and spare T-shades. For this tale, only two of the said knights are seated at their modest table. Sir Ye Very Olde of Bostonia, and Sir COOL of COOLYMPUS.
Ham, and Cheese.
Yolk, and Shell.
Dooze, and Me.
My buddy, my buddy, Dewzore and me!
The two of us have come together to thinktank possible strategies for climbing the always dangerous, seemingly insurmountable, steeper than steep, Mount Ryanmore.
All the faces are belong to us.
Dooze has tried on more than one occasion to reach its lofty summit, and he’s also the person I trust most. Not only will I take whatever help or advice he can offer in the utmost regard, but I’m also willing to overlook the fact he’s always succumbed to the rarefied air of Ryanmore’s peak.
Oh and I have yet to tell my oldest buddy and confidant, or any of the other Bandits, what I plan on doing if I’m unsuccessful in transplanting The Bandits’ pliable heart back into our collective chest by August 8th.
So no, me asking for his help isn’t my sly way of buttering him up.
“He’s bigger. He’s stronger. He’s tougher.” Doozer looks at me straight-faced; without remorse or hesitation. Together, we’ve been around the block, so he’s not going to sugarcoat a thing. Never has. Never will. “He’s a way better wrestler, in almost every facet, and he’s going to try to seriously hurt you. Look at what he did to those guards on the last show. They had to freeze that one guy and store him on the USS Octane so Dan could avoid a murder charge. Don’t think for one second there isn’t a cryo chamber with your name on it somewhere inside that ship, cause you can bet your ass Lee’s not only set that up, but also has your insurance policy bulked up.”
Franky Fragglerock doesn’t know I’m fully aware of the chamber. It’s where I sleep.
“Can I win?” I sheepishly ask as my eyes dart around the obvious. “You know I’d usually never second guess my confidence like this, but the imposing task at hand has me feeling like Bobby Dean pre War Games.” To my possibly devious credit, I’m not wearing the shades to emphasize just how concerned I am.
“Probably not, but you can survive.”
My soul sinks faster than Dan’s concern for Lindsay Troy when hearing my friend’s cold-hearted, yet honest response. Still stubbornly determined, I fight against my looming fate.
“That’s not good enough. There’s got to be a way.”
The Dooze eases back in his chair and falls into deep contemplation. “Well, you are a lot faster… sneakier.” The eldest Bandit squints, as if he’s searching through his thoughts visually. “You can fly off the ropes with way more efficiency. And, what I think is most important, you can take a beating with the best of them.”
I start the prior run down with a confident smile, and end it with a resigned frown. I press on. “Oh, really? My strongest skill is getting my ass kicked and asking for more? Thanks, pal.”
The wise sage chins up after catching a whiff of my sarcasm. “Start off by trying to make him uncomfortable. Frustrate him by attacking quickly, decisively, and from all angles. Wear him down whenever you can. You’ll want to run his big ass back and forth inside that ring like he’s learning the ropes for the first time.” Something I’m still not used to seeing from my embattled Bandit brother follows as a sinister smile stretches across his face. “Shift the action to the outside. Take a second to recover when you need to. If possible, make him chase you around out there like you’re Mikey Unlikely.”
Then, Doozer takes a breath, checks his surroundings, shadily leans in and whispers, “…and cheat.” He hastily scoots back and returns to his previous lectorous tone after advising something he’s never before endorsed. “Which, luckily for you, is also something you’re good at.”
I righteously nod in approval while not-so-innocently responding, “Now Doozer, I haven’t a clue as to what you mean.”
I know exactly what he means.
The full repertoire of my unfair playbook begins flipping through my mind as if each play is listed on a different card inside of Dooze Belichick’s extensive rolodex.
Danny Boy Pipe Clip
-Works with the opponent facing backward
-After a running start dive into the back of opponent’s knee
-Effective way to take a larger opponent down
-Aim for just above the calf, and drive through
-Opponent will fall backwards, possibly on top of you
-Situational, must have a raw egg, can not be hard boiled, preferably a double yolk
-Throw egg at the feet of a charging opponent causing them slip and lose their balance
-Works better when concealed
-Most times an opponent will slip backwards, DO NOT use COOLYMPIAN YOLJK as a follow up due to the natural defense
-Depending on their skill level a more agile opponent might require two eggs
High Knee of Charles Jiles the Third
-Aim for the outside of the thigh, a few inches above the knee
-Useful when trapped in a headlock
-Stops even the biggest of competitors
-Effects vary, but for most the impacted leg will lock up, severely limiting mobility for a short while
-Follow up with a low blow, or COOLYMPIAN YOLJK to maximize potential
Higher, Dirtier Knee of Charles Jiles the Third
-Aim for the groin on a forward facing opponent
-Most effective on males, still works on some female competitors
-Illegal, therefore make sure the referee doesn’t see it
-Most opponents will drop to their knees afterwards, opening themselves up for almost any maneuver
-Double tap if possible for more desirable results
I pull my attention away from the endless cheats occupying my thoughts, and refocus. Dooze has his hands full this week, so I won’t be able to pick his sharp brain much more– better make the most of it while I can. “What else? How do I pin him? This is Danan The Destroyer we are talking about here. He’s filled with vigorous rage and murderous intent – granted it is under the right circumstances – and Zula isn’t around right now to reign him in.”
Happy to still engage in talk of tactics, General Dooze responds, “Sadly, Dan has numerous ways to go about winning. He can end the match from anywhere inside the ring if he gets his hands on you and doesn’t let go. You on the other hand, against him, only have one.” He raises his eyebrows while leaning forward to further emphasize his point. “So if you wish to be successful you’d better be ready to suck it up and live with the pain.”
All of the previous excitement I had contemplating cheating strategies is quickly dulled while imagining the misery and agony the latter part of the plan promises.
As honest as ever, Dooze continues, “That said, if you can somehow manage to weather the storm and stick to what I mentioned earlier, maybe you’ll have done enough to put his rage in your back pocket. Then, you use it against him in conjunction with what you do best– kick a blinded motherfucker in his yellow face.” The grizzled vet goes out of his way to look into my eyes to further emphasize his adamant nature. His blues are nearly blinding.
“That’s how you beat him. That’s how you pin Dan Ryan.”
My oldest pal forgets to mention with a handful of trunks and two feet on the ropes for leverage. I won’t bother correcting him, though. Instead, I sigh heavily, as if I am just now becoming fully aware of my work being more than cut out for me.
For Dooze, I swallow my doubt, turn it inside out, and force the next phrase out of my mouth,
“Sounds simple enough.”
Before we get underway here, I’d like to apologize for the magnificent hair day I’m having. I know it must be distracting, and I’ll be sleeping like a baby tonight because of it.
Usually, I’m seated for these intimate rendezvous. I guess you could say I like to compose my symphonies relaxing back on the always warm, always inviting 97red sofa. Of course, while doing so in the leisure of my 97red jumpsuit.
That’s just not the case for today.
Not entirely, at least.
Today, I’m just a little too excited about the couch topic to sit still. I woke up early, came rushing down here like a kid on Christmas day after getting done at the salon, changed into my customary company garb, and haven’t been able to stop moving since. Infact, I have so much to say I was even thinking about calling up the Darin Matthews Band to come down and play accompanying guitar to my vocals.
Open up my eyes and…
Let me out,
A little baby!
Needless to say it’s been a nice distraction with everything that has been going on in Hollywood.
There’s the trusty fern. It stands proud, as green as ever.
There’s the monitor, plugged in and piquing interest with a giant Play button on it’s screen.
There’s the soon to be occupied empty couch. I am a professional after all.
There I am, The Walking COOL.
This might be just another match for the Carnivore of Egos.
But for me?
Shit’s about to get real.
Now, I’ll sit.
“Hey, remember when I egged you?” A gentleman’s pause for the dementia crowd. “I do. It was a good, thirty foot toss. There was a slight breeze coming out of the southeast air conditioners creating wind gusts anywhere between 1 to 2 miles per hour. It was a main event, and a crowded ring. The Bandits were just coming back. I think it was a bingo, no?”
The monitor on the wall starts to play the footage of the egging from Refueled 18. It stays on a constant loop, showing various angles. Me and my agape shitgrin check out the reel a few times before coming back.
Right in the kisser.
I slightly arch my neck backward, and purposefully cough up phlegm that’s been stuck in the back of my throat since Dan removed CBD’s head. I shoot the screaming, blackened, lunger of disappreciation through the air, and brace myself for its inevitable impact with the Earth.
1.8 on the RICKter scale.
I got an app. It’s Canadian.
Good thing HOTv isn’t on a fault line.
“Dan, Dan, Dan. The Animal Man. Public Enemy Number One. Although, you do have some competition. Yeah, just because Cardboa…” Suddenly full of shame, I bite my bottom lip. I swallow my emotions desperately. It’s not easy controlling them, but damn it the captors could be watching and the last thing I want is for them to see the bleeding heart on the sleeve of my jumper jacket.
Ya know, leverage and stuff.
“Just because he’s gone for the time being does not mean that I’ve forgotten about what you’ve done. You heinous pig.” A crack of the knuckles and grit of the teeth. “I still feel guilty for the way I reacted after the beheading. It’s honestly been weighing me down like a pile of shit sitting inside of my trousers.”
I wave my hand in front of my nose to signify that yes, the Danny Drop in my pants is indeed still there, and it does indeed still stink.
So much for leverage and stuff.
“I don’t know how you sleep at night, Dan. Maybe you don’t.” I shrug. “Certainly would explain a lot.” Baffled, I continue on. “For the life of me I can’t put it together. You, the big bad man. You, Mr. A1: HOW wrestling is done.” Winky wink. “You, the former Everything Everywhere Champion. You, the world beating, bone breaking, head tearing, rabid animal eating, LEGEND of the RING.” I look around the studio as if I need help finding something at the grocery store. I know the answer is out there, I just have to find the person who has it.
Maybe it’s me.
“I just don’t get it. I don’t. People looked up to you. Wrestlers of today grew up idolizing you. I’m sure even your parents loved you at some point.” A deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. “How could a man of your stature, and your prestige, who carries such a big stick… how could he let a piece of cardboard with his own likeness printed on it become more relevant than himself?”
I know the answer.
But I don’t like propping myself up.
Or The Bandits.
“Like, what are you doing wrong, Dan? You’re the church’s altar boy, and he’s the one who has his own commercial for Christ’s sake.” Pathetic. I shake my head. “He doesn’t even use broken glass for bernaise sauce, and he’s got a better following than you do among the hardcore fine dining crowd.” Okay, got me there. That’s because of Bobby. Well, it was because of him. He done changed. “What do you got, Dan? Another PPV win you can’t even talk about? A Gibson’s credit card that charges back to GoD? A flaccid pimp hand?”
“Dane dropped his pants and drug his dirty asshole across your fancy floor. Then he took your girl, MY Queen, out to a horrible buffet dinner and left her with the check.” Disbelief covers my well-kempt face. Luckily, my shades are keeping my bulging eyes from falling out of their sockets. “And you let this man simply walk away? Even after he was openly insubordinate? What a joke. So tough you are, Danny Chivalry. Tough as in you’re an overcooked piece of Mongoloidian beef.”
I wince, derisively.
“Find a back bone, big man. You’re so yellow right now you could be on the Simpsons.” A hearty bellow escapes from me, changing my mood. “Better yet. Hey Dan. The wizard called. Oz said they want their lion back. They plan to sell you to Carol Baskin.” I laugh yet again. This time it’s more patronizing than hearty. “If I mix you with blue, do you turn green?” I erratically wave my arm around like I’m painting a portrait. Then, satisfied, I throw away the imaginary brush and chuckle at my creation. “Looks like you’re shrinking. FAST. Pretty soon, they’re going to start calling you the Hamster of GoD again, and not the Hammer.”
Oh? What’s that? They never…
I proudly smile long and wide, like I’m posing for wedding pictures and have no clue who anyone is from either bridal party.
“Well, Dan, that’s about all the time I have for a Harz Roller like you. And here I was so eager to reach inside the canary cage, too. Oh well. Good luck with the spine search, and I’ll see you on Saturday night.” I nod agreeingly. “FYI, Bandit revenge season……… continues!” More confident nodding ensues. “You’ve certainly had your way with us in the past, some might even say you’ve done as you pleased. Now though, now it’s time for you to dip your toe into the cooling waters of Lake Maestrotonka. Don’t be afraid. The temperature is just right.”
I was going to ask him how he liked his eggs, but we already know the answer to that.
On his face.
Good day, sir!
I said good day!
The Egg Den
Before we pick up where we last left off, how about a funny?
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
Do you know the real reason as to why The Bruvs kidnapped Cardboard Dan?
It’s because the other cardboard likeness they carry around wasn’t funny enough.
So stupid, right?
FUCKING CBJ IS A RIOT.
Anyway, it hasn’t been long since the match prep session Dooze and I had. Since then we’ve talked a little bit about a new painting he is supposedly getting commissioned, and his opponents this week, Matthews and Hollywood. I laughed about the painting, but only because I knew the size of the snowball I was about to throw his way next. And, when I finally did decide to break the news about my man or mouse, put up or shut up epiphany…
“No. No. No. No way. Not going to happen. Bobby has a world title shot this week and you’re pulling this shit?” I lower my head. Dooze does have a point. “Who else knows about this?” He prys further with a tone of desperation.
Nervous, I struggle to find the right words. “Eh, depends on who skimmed the prologue. Let’s just assume everyone does now.” I don’t enjoy the look Doozer is giving me very much. He’s like that old guy watching over Lee Best.
“And if you don’t get him back by… when was it again?”
With time on my side I confidently answer, “August 8th.” However, the reaction on Doozer’s face rattles me, and almost tricks me into thinking it’s tomorrow.
“HA. You’re telling me that if your Maestro meddling isn’t successful by then, you decreed with no discussion at all that you will go one on two against The Bruvs? For the titles? Are you crazy? How does that help any of us? AND DID WE JUST GO THROUGH THAT WHOLE RUNDOWN ONLY FOR YOU TO SPRING THIS SHIT ON ME?!”
What can I say? The guy knows me. “Two on two, me and CBD.” I wait for a laugh that never comes. I straighten up. “Your point is not lost on me.”
“Answer my question.”
“Doesn’t matter. This has to be done. Drastic measures must be taken in order to reconcile my inability to protect our own.”
Ahhh, there it is.
Now that the true heart of the matter has been broached, I can proceed with all my cards on the table.
Doozer, face completely flush and breathing intensely, incredulously asks, “You can’t be serious?”
I pleasantly gesture for my friend to sit back down, which he doesn’t find so pleasant. “I get it. But understand this. Under my diligent watch the group almost imploded. Bobby took a looonggg nap. I failed to court the eGG Queen. CBD was kidnapped. We’ve failed to recapture the tag team titles, twice. Oh, and let us not forget, much like Danan The Destroyer did while he was having a cup of tea with Eric Dane on this past week’s show, I stood idly by and did nothing when presented with the opportunity to right a wrong that was done to a close friend.”
Now granted, my inaction had more to do with the shock of seeing the head torn from my innocent friend’s shoulders, and DTD’s was just him being a pseudo chivalrous bitch. Still though, there’s a lot of irony involved so I’ll count them as the same. I am aware of what the words integrity and dignity mean after all.
Unimpressed with my response, Dooze demands more of me. “Tell me this then, of your grand plan. How are you going to make them cut off their own nose to spite their face? How are you going to get them to throw away such a great advantage?”
I rub my hands together, my confidence returning for the first time since we started down this dialogue. “I’m the Maestro for a reason, Dooze. In the end, everyone dances to my tune. Them. Dan Ryan. Even you.” The old bull snorts. “Don’t deny it.” I insist. “And relax, they might even wind up crying, it’s so lovely.”
“That’s not an answer to my question.”
He’s not wrong.
However, I’ve given enough information out for one day.
See directly above.
(Oh, and go fuck yourself.)