Thank You

Thank You

Posted on April 10, 2024 at 11:37 pm by Teddy Palmer

December 9th, 2023 – Cripple Creek, Colorado

A silence had fallen between Larry and myself after I draped my Final Alliance jacket across the dash of his truck. It wasn’t one of the awkward or uncomfortable variety, but rather one of contemplation. His facial expression gave no hints as to what his train of thought might be, his body language didn’t speak to me one way or the other. It appeared as if he was attempting to be mindful of what I’d just presented.

“ICONIC is in three weeks,” I said, hardly able to contain my excitement. “And this right here is gonna be my payday.”

I tapped my pointer on the embroidered #97 Red ‘B’ sewn on the breast of the jacket as a mischievous smirk curled out the corner of my mouth. I’d been careful in placing it underneath the overhead cabin light I’d turned on, hoping the dim spotlight shining down created a certain ambiance for the garment. Larry shifted his gaze from the snowfall beyond the steering wheel for a brief second and offered a slight nod, his eyes widening slightly as he pursed his lips.

“You couldn’t pay me enough to wear that thing,” Larry was blunt with his reply. “It’s fuckin’ hideous.”

So much for being mindful…

I wanted to be irritated with his response, but the reality is he was right. The jacket was, as he so eloquently put, ‘fuckin’ hideous’. But in spite of its general lack of beauty, I needed him to look beyond the mid-life crisis vibe it reeked of and see it for what it really was: a Golden Goose. I needed him to feel the same exhilaration I felt when I shook GOD’s hand and accepted my key back into the Kingdom.

“I can appreciate your opinion,” I replied dryly, biting the inside of my cheek. “But that jacket is gonna let me open a door that’s been closed for nearly three years.”

The words barely finished leaving my mouth before Larry rolled his eyes. He blew the air from his lungs with a condescending huff, his barrel chest bouncing upwards.

“All for a payday?”

“Your fuckin’ right,” I snorted. “And if I play my cards right this time around, it’ll be a BIG payday.”

“Is that so?” he asked with a slower cadence, almost mockingly. “So you going back, it’s all about money?”

“Of course it is,” I snapped back with an indignant flare. “In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t have much of it. Some might say I’m broke as fuck.”

That teller at the bank was extremely unprofessional…

“You disappear every time the check comes. Trust me, I’ve noticed…”

“That’s just a weird coincidence,” I brushed aside his jab, tapping on the jacket once more. “But let me show my thanks with a nice steak dinner when that money starts rolling in.”

“I think I’m good.”

“Jesus, how about you remove the stick and show a little excitement here?” I exhaled, his lack of enthusiasm beginning to wear on me.

“Ted,” his tone softened ever so slightly as he prepared to impart some big brother wisdom. “Money isn’t everything.”

“Easy to say when you’ve got it,” I replied dismissively, looking out the passenger window.

“You’re right. It is easy,” he shifted his weight uncomfortably atop the driver seat. “And I’m telling you, if the only reason you’re going back is to fatten your bank account, don’t do it. There’s plenty of options out there for you to make some decent cash. But this one? Just…fuckin’ don’t.”

I could feel the warmth of frustration flushing my cheeks, so I cracked my window slightly, allowing snowflakes to pull inside the vehicle. I snatched the jacket off the dashboard and tossed it behind my seat. The conversation wasn’t heading down the path I’d hoped for, and it was my childish attempt at putting an end to it.

Larry wasn’t going to let that happen.

“Listen. What I’m about to say, you’re not going to like it, but you need to hear it.”

“I haven’t cared much for what you’ve said this far,” I combed my fingers through my beard. “But fuck it, keep going.”

“When it comes to HOW, and the Wrestling industry in general, you don’t have much self respect left to sell,” his words cut like a knife. “You’ve done nothing but shit on the Palmer name, and it doesn’t have the value you think it does.”

I could almost taste the dirt on the soles of boots, my jaw having dropped to the floor of the truck. There was no way I heard him correctly, he couldn’t possibly have said what I thought he just did.

I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt…

“Shit on the Palmer name?” I inquired with a raised brow.

“I didn’t stutter.”

Turns out I did hear him correctly…

“Need I remind you what I’ve accomplished?”

“Oh, I’m familiar with your resume,” he began with disappointment. “Two stints for a combined year of service, and that timeframe might be generous. You walked out on not one, but two contracts when the going got tough. You’ve never thought twice about taking your ball and going home, something you’ve done with every company you’ve ever worked for.”

“You know what? Fuck you.”

“The truth hurts,” he said, matter of factly.

There was no disputing the facts, and it absolutely did hurt to have it thrown in my face. But I wasn’t about to let him see that.

“You think rifling that shit off gets to me? Fuck no,” I spit, trying my best to be convincing. “I’ll tell you what does though. Of all the people in my life, I thought you’d be the one I could always count on to be in my corner. But the truth is you’ve never had my back.”

“Never had your back?” Larry scoffed at the claim. “I’m the only one who’s ever had your back. I’m the only one who’s cared enough to be real with you. I’ve never backed down from telling you what you need to hear, because I respect and care for you too fuckin’ much to just tell you what you want to hear.”

“So your idea of respect is being an asshole?”

“If wanting the best for you makes me an asshole, then yeah, I’m an asshole. That’s all I’ve ever wanted for you, and unlike everybody else who’s claimed to be in your corner, I’ve never expected a fuckin’ thing in return.”

“And how’s this not the best for me?” I asked with exhaustion.

“Because!” he snapped.

Another hush befell the truck, aside from the wintery whistle from my window. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed he too had reached a tomato shade of frustration. I could feel my temples pulsating as I clenched my teeth together. Seconds turned into minutes as stubbornness fueled our silence. It was going to take the bigger man to break it, and attempt to restore calm for the remainder of the drive.

And like always, that was Larry’s role to fill.

“Money and everything that comes with it, it doesn’t mean a damned thing. That shit comes and goes, you have it or you don’t. And whether you’re drowning in debt or seated on some golden throne, when death comes knocking at your door, it dies with you.”

I could feel his point was supposed to be profound, but my financial woes resisted buying in. All I could think of was the rustic cabin I’d called home for the past two years that we were currently en route to. And by rustic, I mean small, decrepit and bordering on the fine line of condemnation.

I wanted more, and in my mind, deserved more.

“But what doesn’t die is your name, and the legacy you’ve created,” he continued with sincerity. “And the one you’ve put together isn’t the greatest.”

“It’s not horrible…”

“But it is. You’ve never put the work into making your name mean something. Rather, you’ve lazily put your trust in others to do right by it and they’ve let you down every single time.”

Before I could try and rebut his assertion, I was met with an ‘I’m not finished’ finger wag.

“Red used your personality to compensate for his lack of. Grady used your image to attach to his business ventures. Lindsay used your rising popularity to support her ill advised vision.”

With each example, he counted it off on the hand held up to prevent me from interrupting his monologue.

“You’ve spent your entire career as a supporting character and you want me to be excited that you’re about to do it again? That’s why I said, if all you’re going back for is money, find something else because you’ll only further cement THAT legacy, and no amount of money is worth that.”

With a glance over my shoulder, I looked at the crumpled jacket on the backseat. I noticed in my peripherals that Larry had taken his eyes off the road, and was staring in my direction. I conceded and turned to face my big brother.

“But,” he began, letting a grin breakout underneath his Tom Selleck-esque moustache. “You still have time to change that, if you want. You can use that jacket as your foot in the door, and finally make the Palmer name mean something. And if there’s anyone who can make OUR name live forever, it’s you. And that’s something money can’t buy.”

***

I came back to HOW for a paycheck.

I didn’t come back to win or pursue championships. I wasn’t trying to pander to fans in attendance or those watching at home. I couldn’t have cared less whether they were singing my praises or cursing my name.

I quite literally came back for a paycheck.

That’s it.

And as it would turn out, I’m paying for it, far more than I’m earning. The dollars going into my bank account aren’t worth the soul I’m selling off, bit by bit, week by week. The fucked up thing is I was warned this would happen, by someone who I value more than anyone else in this world.

He warned me the price I’d pay wasn’t worth it. That coming back with money on my mind would only cement my less than stellar legacy. I’d be branded nothing more than an absolute waste of potential. A could have been blinded by dreams of grandeur. A man of greed who valued possessions over experiences.

To be blunt: A Fuckin’ Loser.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been these past four months. Ask Hugo Scorpio or Charles De Lacy and I’m sure they’d give you their opinion on it. On paper, my resume surely had them questioning their chances of survival. 2020 Lee Best Invitational Winner. LSD Champion. Tag Team Champion. I was the man in our pool who’d tasted success in this company, freshly christened as one of Lee Best’s men.

Certainly our pool was destined to run through me.

If either one of them were going to walk into the finals at March 2 Glory, they’d have to fuckin’ earn it. They’d be in for a fuckin’ war that’d test them both mentally, and physically. It’d be an encounter they’d walk away from having lost a piece of their career’s lifeline.

That’s what it could have been. That’s what it should have been.

Instead they both stood victorious, surely both thinking the same thing.

That’s it?

There’s no doubt in my mind that’s what’s made me an easy target around here. I came back with itchy pockets rather than that burning desire in the pit of my stomach. The raging fire that Sektor shows week after week while he extends one of the most dominant reigns in this company. The white hot flame that Solex rode en route to winning this year’s Lee Best Invitational and propelling himself into the World Championship picture.

Smoking embers won’t get you anywhere in this business, and that’s all I had.

Key word being had, past tense.

As it turns out, all I needed was someone to ignite it. And that’s exactly what happened at Madison Square Garden. When Hollywood and Hanson tried to extinguish it in a shit stained toilet they unintentionally set this company ablaze. As JPD watched his orchestrated assault unfold, he started a fuckin’ wildfire.

And for that, I have two words for the lot of you: Thank You.

I needed to be face down in that toilet and see a visual representation of who Teddy Palmer had become. I needed to taste the literal shit that I’d been feeding this company everytime I walked through its doors. I need to hear the vile, derogatory opinions that define who I am.

Without it, change was never going to occur. And every fuckin’ one of you will live to regret it.

Unfortunately for you Hollywood, you’re up first. I want to feel bad for you, truly, I do. But then I think back to you repeatedly slamming that toilet seat against the back of my head as I struggled to breath, and the desire to break your fuckin’ face consumes me.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to do at CHAOS.

I will be relentless in making sure that’s what happens. No amount of begging on your part will stop me. I can’t stress enough how much I want you to try and make a deal with me, bargain for your career and future outside the ring. I want you to barter for your quality of life so I can send the world a message that Teddy Palmer can no longer be bought off.

Know that your fate has been decided, and all you can do at this point is pray for a fuckin’ miracle, but I wouldn’t count of GOD answering your prayers.

And that will only the beginning.

That’s right Hanson, you’re next up to the plate.

I hope you’ve taken a moment to listen because I need you to do me a favour. I know you’ve got a Championship match to prepare for, but I implore you to watch what I do to Hollywood. I need you to witness what you helped usher back into HOW. It’s very fuckin’ important. You have to understand that your obsession with Mike Best needs to come to a halt.

I am your new obsession.

And Jace, don’t think for a second I forgot about you. I hate to come off as needy, but I need something from you too. I need you to keep putting bounties on my head. I want you to implement fines, even go as far as voiding my contract all together. I want to lose everything I have. Send my ass to the streets for fuck sakes, I know you can do it.

I’ll stay warm with the fire you keep stoking.

And when we’ve reached that point, I look forward to seeing the fear in your eyes when you’re staring back at the monster you created.

You’ve made it your mission to make a joke of me since I’ve returned.

I’ll return the favour by using you to make the Palmer name mean something around here again.