Tarnished Legacies

Tarnished Legacies

Posted on September 21, 2022 at 11:09 am by Christopher America

“There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier, save our own inherent weakness of purpose.” – Kin Hubbard

 

I keep having the same dream.

I’m sitting on an elaborate throne of stone at the edge of a cliff. I’m in my wrestling gear and the HOW World Championship is on my shoulder. Throngs of faceless people stand before me. I cannot tell if they are cheering for me, screaming at me, or crying out for me. I feel my arm raise, my fingers uncurl into an open palm. And I acknowledge all before me.

A wave of supreme satisfaction washes over me.

I feel content.

After a few moments, I feel a presence.

And then I turn around.

And I see before me an enormous mountain, no discernable path upwards. No footholds, no ledges. Just sheer, smooth cliff face.

And the fear swells.

And then I wake up.

Only to repeat the dream the following night.

The last few weeks, no matter what I do throughout the day, it happens every time I go to sleep. And I’m left wondering why I can’t change it. It’s as if my body is disconnected or broken in some way. Logically, in my brain, I know I’m in a dream, but my heart rebels against that and keeps me helpless. I am simultaneously forced to experience them out of body and watch the events unfold within my own body.

Unable to change anything.

So then I’m left with only this…

What is the mountain?

And why am I afraid of it?

*******

Wrestling is many things.

At it’s core, it’s a sport. A contest of strength, speed, and endurance, utilizing skills both mental and physical. At times, that sport is dressed in clothes akin to a stage play as epic stories between good and evil play out before an audience of anywhere from dozens to millions. That audience then aligns themselves with certain wrestlers, booing some and cheering others. They decide amongst themselves, at times organically, who they will attach themselves to. Oftentimes, it is because the disagreements between wrestlers echoes disagreements that have played out in their own lives.

For those with superior intellects, they align themselves with me.

Because I’m the living embodiment of America.

I’m the hero.

And this is my story.

And my story, unfortunately, cannot be told without mentioning other Hall of Famers. This week, for Chaos 10, I’m teaming with Hall of Famer John Sektor against Hall of Famers Jatt Starr and Bobbinette Carey.

Many of HOW’s fans will look at this as a spectacle, an exhibition between four of the very best wrestlers that HOW has ever produced. They’ll get to see four former World Champions collide. They’ll scream and cheer and foam at the mouth but I see this match so much differently than they do.

On my side is John Sektor.

And I know John Sektor.

John was a former stablemate of mine. We’ve fought with each other and against each other. But John has done something truly miraculous. John returned to HOW after a hiatus and established himself as the Gold Standard.

Not a moniker.

Not a gimmick.

But a way of life.

John set the standard for what it means to come back and be successful in this business. Because let’s be honest with ourselves, we’ve all seen it happen before. Wrestlers that become icons. Icons that become legends. Legends that become Hall of Famers. Hall of Famers that become disappointments. Those that come back and become the very definition of unfulfilled potential. Wrestlers who ride on name brands to sign fat deals, hoping for opportunities to be handed to them, only to fail miserably.

And I know.

Because I was one of them.

A few years ago at Rumble at the Rock, I was supposed to join Ground Zero and face Mike Best. I came back full of piss and vinegar. I attacked Mike and the following week, I got hauled off to solitary confinement.

And what happened?

I wallowed in my own sadness and pity. I could barely focus on the match. And I shit the fucking bed in that match. Mike was so good and I was so far behind him in terms of skill that it served me right.

Solitary was punishment for my arrogance.

But John Sektor helped change the game on that front because John Sektor helped become the fucking measuring stick of Hall of Famers who come back to HOW and succeed. And John did that by dedicating himself fully to this. Where I failed, John succeeded. And where I failed was because I wasn’t fully committed to this. I still had one foot out the door and one foot tentatively in the door.

I paid the fucking price.

You’ve probably noticed by now that I refer to him as John, not as Sektor. And that’s because he has something rare. Something so rare that only a handful of people in this business actually have it. And that’s my respect. John won War Games. John won the HOW World Championship since being back. John Sektor literally REDEFINED the LSD Championship, holding it for nearly a year.

And I want that.

I want that for me. And for the World Championship.

You see, I’ve held this World Championship for 93 days but that’s not enough for me. That’s only half of what Jace and Aceldama have been able to accomplish. It’s only a third of what Mike has done with this championship. It’s a third of what John did with the LSD Championship.

And that drives me further and harder.

I am proud to have John Sektor as a partner.

*******

I struggle mightily to remember more about the nightmare I’ve been having. My mind races as I think about the lingering questions. Is this my throne or did I usurp it? How did it get here? How did I even get here? Who were the people before me? My subjects? My captors?

The only one that seems to gain me any traction is the question of how did I get here. When I think about that, I vaguely grasp at visions of myself walking a path. It’s as if I am stuck in slow motion. I want to move faster, but can’t. I want my eyes to move quickly, gather what information it can so that I can process some semblance of what I’m seeing. But it’s useless.

Last night, I vowed that I would work to focus on this. When the nightmare takes me, this would be my focus.

And when the nightmare did come, I focused myself and tried to look down at the path. Slowly, my eyes and head moved downward and I saw it.

The earth underneath my feet was soft. It was red. Was it clay? I don’t know. Each footstep sunk into the earth and was a struggle to pull out. The path ascended and I struggled more and more with each step. I stumbled and fell to one knee. Another flash of red as I noticed the HOW World Championship for the first time on my shoulder. The strap flew forward. Instinctually, I try to reach out and catch it but I’m moving too slowly. It hits the red earth and becomes stained. I chuckled to myself and pulled myself up.

I ascended the path. At the top, I saw the stone throne. I readjusted the belt strap over my shoulder and sat down. Throngs of faceless people stood before me. I could not tell if they were cheering for me, screaming at me, or crying out for me. I felt my arm raise, my fingers uncurl into an open palm. And I acknowledged all before me.

A wave of supreme satisfaction washed over me.

I felt content.

After a few moments, I felt a presence.

Not again.

I turned around.

Must stop.

And I saw before me an enormous mountain, no discernable path upwards. No footholds, no ledges. Just sheer, smooth cliff face.

And the fear swells.

And then I wake up.

*******

The other side of my match at Chaos 10 is a different story.

I look at Jatt Starr and Bobbinette Carey with a disdain and hatred that I once reserved for Mike Best and now reserve for the Highwaymen.

Jatt Starr is struggling right now. But if we’re all being truly honest with ourselves, Jatt Starr has been struggling for the better part of 15 years to establish two separate identities for himself. One as Jatt Starr and one as Simon Sparrow. The problem with Jatt is that he’s focusing on the wrong duality. To put it plainly no one gives two shits about the struggle between Sparrow and Starr.

The fans want Jatt Starr.

They NEED Jatt Starr.

And all Jatt’s done is cock tease the audience. Just doing enough edging before he backs off completely, leaving the HOW fans blue balled just to catch a glimpse of a man from a bygone era.

The true duality that Jatt needs to focus on is the Jatt Starr of old and the Jatt Starr of now. The Jatt Starr of old was legendary. The stories I’ve heard of Jatt Starr as told by others make him into something mythical, as if the stories were based on rumor and innuendo. Starr was presented as some sort of unicorn – graceful, amazing to behold, and that one should consider themselves lucky for having been able to witness it.

But what of the Jatt Starr of now?

Is it the nagging disappointment that feeds him now? Is it that the Jatt Starr of now isn’t the same or even better than the Jatt Starr of old? What does Starr see when he sees people like John Sektor win War Games and the HOW World Championship? What does it do to his soul when Mike Best wins his eighth, ninth, or even tenth World Championship? Does it eat him alive knowing that wrestlers have surpassed him? Or that his name doesn’t garner fear? That every single time he steps into the ring, he diminishes the mythos of Jatt Starr irrevocably?

I don’t think anything feeds Jatt Starr now.

I think Jatt Starr is apathetic.

Or worse.

Jatt’s coasting.

Riding out a few more years on his contract so that he can get paid and sail safely into retirement until he comes back for a reunion show at age 85. And he’ll do what he always does. He’ll come up with 35,897 new catchphrases and infinitely more nicknames.

And nothing else.

Because that’s what Starr does. He puts more time and effort into bigging up his own ego than actually working on his wrestling ability or lighting a fire under his own ass or having some sort of brass ring he wants to obtain.

I would say that Jatt Starr is a shell of his former self, but I’d be lying.

Because there is nothing inhabiting the shell of Jatt Starr. There hasn’t been for years. Oh sure, he may eek out a win here and there. But when it comes time to win and HOLD ONTO a championship, Starr does what he always does.

He crashes.

He falls.

He bounces up like a cartoon character, unfazed at his diminished legacy.

Ready to try it all again.

He’s Wile E. Coyote.

With none of the drive and determination.

*******

It’s happening again.

I have to think.

Why is it so hard to think?

Why the path?

Why is it red?

Can I remember more?

I’m alone on the path. Why?

The earth underneath my feet was soft. It was red. Was it clay? I don’t know.

Maybe if I race to the top, I can spend more time there. I want to run.

Each footstep sunk into the earth and was a struggle to pull out. The path ascended and I struggled more and more with each step. I stumbled and fell to one knee. Another flash of red as I noticed the HOW World Championship for the first time on my shoulder. The strap flew forward. Instinctually, I try to reach out and catch it but I’m moving to slowly. It hits the red earth and becomes stained. I chuckled to myself and pulled myself up.

I have to move faster.

I ascended the path. At the top, I saw the stone throne. I readjusted the belt strap over my shoulder and sat down. Throngs of faceless people stood before me. I could not tell if they were cheering for me, screaming at me, or crying out for me. I felt my arm raise, my fingers uncurl into an open palm. And I acknowledged all before me.

A wave of supreme satisfaction washed over me.

I felt content.

After a few moments, I felt a presence.

Not again. I’ve learned nothing.

I turned around.

And I saw before me an enormous mountain, no discernable path upwards. No footholds, no ledges. Just sheer, smooth cliff face.

And the fear swells.

And then I wake up.

*******

The other component is Bobbinette Carey, a woman who is so deluded that she has difficulty truly grasping the reality that lies before her.

Bobbinette Carey is a hall of famer who, according to history, earned her credentials before I even stepped foot in HOW. What I’ve witnessed of Carey, success wise, has been her ability to pull wins out of nowhere. When wrestlers underestimate her, that’s where they falter. That’s the success portion of Bobbinette Carey. But that’s not what Carey’s known for. It should be. Her ability to be dangerous should be her defining characteristic.

But it’s not.

Like Jatt Starr before her, Carey has tainted her legacy. And I know you, Carey. You’ll deny it. You’ll do more mental gymnastics than actual fucking gymnastics to defend it. But I’ll prove it to you.

During the lead up to War Games, you deluded yourself into thinking that you were actually worthy to be a War Games captain. Then you further deluded yourself into thinking you were worthy to be picked. And when you had the opportunity to get on a War Games team, you failed. In your head, with Scottywood, you schemed and you plotted. But in reality, with Scottywood, you whined and sat on your ass doing nothing. Then, by lucking into an LSD Championship match, you had an opportunity to get onto War Games and you failed again. You have this grating and annoying belief that you’re ability to rack up losses somehow, someway means that you are worthy of championship opportunities and main event matches.

You’ve spent the better part of these last few weeks and months running around backstage talking about some tragic event that happened to you and you expect people to give a shit. You’re fucking selfish. We have lives, too. Lives that revolve around success at our jobs, which is wrestling. Lives that revolve around money and championships, you know, core things about professional wrestling. But you aren’t about that. You’re consumed with other bullshit and if a wrestling match happens to break out and you just happen to be there, only then will you take part.

And the worst part is you don’t see it.

You don’t see that being all consumed with other bullshit and not focused on wrestling has hurt you.

Let me tell you a secret.

We don’t care what happened to you. We’re not your friends. Even Conor doesn’t give a shit about what happened to you. Conor’s biding his time. Still nursing his wounds and waiting for the right time to pounce on Jace or Stronk.

You run around HOW and expect everyone to drop everything and give two shits about Bobbinette Carey when the problem is that Bobbinette Carey doesn’t give two shits about herself. You’re not a strong, independent woman. You’re a weak woman who latches herself on to more successful men in the hopes of being carried over the threshold of relevancy.

You, Carey, have damaged your Hall of Fame legacy and it makes me sick.

So go ahead. Spin me a yarn. Tell me a tale about how you’re helping the wrestlers of tomorrow or that you are really focused on our match at Chaos. Justify to yourself your actions over the past few months so that you can lie better to me and the fans. And then after you’re all done, go run along to other former World Champions, and drag them down with you so that they, too, have their potential and greatness diminished by the mere association with you.

And me?

I’ll be doing what I do best.

Training, practicing, wrestling. To get better. To be the fucking best in this industry.

*******

It’s happening again.

I see it.

The path.

The stumble.

The ascent.

The throne.

I’m sitting on an elaborate throne of stone at the edge of a cliff. I’m in my wrestling gear and the HOW World Championship is on my shoulder. Throngs of faceless people stand before me. I cannot tell if they are cheering for me, screaming at me, or crying out for me. I feel my arm raise, my fingers uncurl into an open palm. And I acknowledge all before me.

A wave of supreme satisfaction washes over me.

I feel content.

After a few moments, I feel a presence.

And then I turn around.

I see before me an enormous mountain, no discernable path upwards. No footholds, no ledges. Just sheer, smooth cliff face.

Wait.

I’m wrong.

There!

There’s something there!

I walk to the mountain. I place my hand on the cliff face. I run my hand along it and stop. I push my fingers in. My hand pierces the rock. The first grip.

I look up.

The fear swells.

And then I wake up.

*******

Chaos 10 is a chance for me to do something that I rarely get to do.

You see the true reason that I detest Carey and Starr so much is that they remind me of how I was when I would make my sporadic returns only to lose over and over again. By putting those two down, I’m going to put down that part of me that began tarnishing my own legacy. The part of me that thought I, too, could coast on name recognition. That losses didn’t matter and that I was worthy of championships and main events that I hadn’t earned.

That part of me that focused on bullshit that didn’t matter instead of winning matches, winning championships, and being the absolute God damned best wrestler on this roster.

No, that whole mindset dies at Chaos 10.

Maybe then, when Carey and Starr are staring at the lights with pain coursing through their bodies, they’ll wake the fuck up from whatever funk they’ve been in. Maybe they’ll finally give us the constantly dangerous hall of famers we’ve been expecting, instead of these puppets that prance around looking for their cheap cheers of nostalgia.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m not taking you lightly. I’m not underestimating you. I know what will happen if I do that.

Instead, I’m going to give you the absolute best of Christopher America, your current HOW World Champion. I’m going to treat you both as if you’re both number one contenders, as if I’m defending this belt at Chaos. That way when I beat you, you’ll have a change of heart like I did.

And then…

Maybe I can cleanse myself of my past transgressions.

Get rid of my past failures.

And kill that part of myself once and for all.

Leaving me alone to re-write my legacy as I see fit.