But if you’re black, being ‘woke’ is just not taking white people’s bullshit. Or talking about lifting yourself and your people up.
Darkwing is a lot of things, but he hardly considers himself woke.
He’s just a black man in America, trying to leave something behind.
And is that why we find the HOW Hall Of Famer back in HOW after so many years? Is that why we find Darkwing back about to make his return to a business that he had discarded? A business that shunned him? A business that he didn’t need?
No, no no. Darkwing isnt back because he needs to be. He isnt back because wrestling is different.
He’s back because HE is different.
Darkwing stands in the living room of his now aged cliffside house in Palos Verdes, CA, a rich, affluent white small city 20+ miles south of LA. He is wearing a navy blue tshirt with grey basketball shorts, with Under Armor Black and white striped sandals.
He’s owned this house for over a decade now, its grown with him, it has scars and memories etched into it like he does. He glances over to a crack in the wall from a clumsy HOW cameraman when Darkwing had the pull to have HOW cameras come to his home when shows werent too far. He smiles remembering the cursing he did later when he saw it.
Darkwing goes to his mini bar near the kitchen, and inspects his current inventory of alcohol. He drinks more now, not enough to be an alcoholic, but enough for some to think he might want to rethink things. He sees a bottle of imported coconut tequilla and smiles. He reaches for the brand “Los Santos”, and carefully pours a shot. His hand trembles. A reminder of the damage HOW left with him. He scowls and knocks the shot back.
The trembling doesnt cease though. It echoes as it reminds him of the losses and pain. He thinks of what he should expect now and how that will change his approach.
Does it really matter?
Darkwing hasnt wrestled in a very long time. He completely walked away from the business. He left it all behind. Like a Jedi Knight shutting himself off from the Force, he had to open his mind up and rekindle the spark. Could he do it?
He begins to worry. Darkwing carries the scars of defeat, humiliation, doubt. Why IS he really here anyway? Was he gassing himself up? Were others gassing HIM up?
He had seen a certain…Second City Saint’s recent return to wrestling. Like himself, The Straight One had cut himself off from this business. But Darkwing was better than him. Darkwing was a bit younger and was even better in MMA.
By now, three more shots have been downed. The tequilla was good. Smooth. Fresh. Coconut flavor was crisp and strong. Darkwing snapped out of his thoughts. 4 shots down in seconds. He didnt feel them, but this wasnt good. He needs to be clear headed. Suddenly, his phone rings, almost mercifully, and Darkwing puts the shot glass down before he goes any further. He sees the number is blocked and decides to answer.
‘You have a match.’
“Against who? A single?”
‘No. Tag with Bobbinette. Eli Dresden and Brian Hollywood.’
“I dont even know who they are.”
“Asshole”. Darkwing smirks to himself. The trembling returned. Was it because the spotlight was back on? He struggled with his next move. Should he say something? Everyone is waiting for him to speak. He’s always been good at it. That never goes away, as they say, right?
Darkwing begrudgingly calls Bobbinette. The trembling intensified. The mystery of it bothered him.
“Hey best friend♥” Bobbinette says, almost singing the salutation.
Darkwing: Are you still on the road? We apparently have a match.
Bobbinette: No, I’m in Cleveland. Yeah, I saw we have a match. I thought it wouldn’t be for weeks.
Darkwing: I am at a loss. Who are these people we’re fighting?
Bobbinette responds, but Darkwing’s trembling returns and he doesn’t hear her.
Suddenly the words “But Eli…she’s got promise. Brian Hollywood is a run of the mill dime a dozen flake” ring through and Darkwing perks up.
Darkwing: Brian Hollywood sounds familiar. He’s still alive?
Bobbinette rambles on again, something about Brian being a boring white guy, but the trembling has again gotten worse. It is deafening. His hand, his right hand, is somehow making noise.
Darkwing(snapping out of it): So Eli is good I guess? I dont think ive ever heard you say anything positive about another woman. Even the girls i’ve dated that you liked.
Bobbinette rambles again. Everytime she speaks the trembling drowns her out. Darkwing struggles to fight back. “Be here. Be here.” he mutters quietly. Bobbinette is so involved with “bringing the woke era to HOW” that she doesnt hear him.
Finally Darkwing wins the tug of war with his anxiety.
“Also showing them why we are proud of where we came from and how we both shattered the –”
Bobbinette says, and Darkwing cuts her off suddenly;
“Bobbie, we both know this goes further than being woke.”
Bobbinette: Let me have this, Darkwing!
Bobbinette goes into a mini diatribe about being excited. The trembling hand is now shooting sharp pains through his body. Why is this happening?
Darkwing is back in control.
Darkwing: Listen, like you, I too have some things to iron out with both the wrestling business and our place in it, and what my legacy will look like……(sensing her spacing out)…are you listening?
Bobbinette admits to day dreaming. Darkwing always had a knack for sensing her moods and her emotions. They had a weird, yet powerful connection and that connection is what helped him not waste words here.
You can hear a bit of frustration in Bobbinette’s voice as she ends the call. Darkwing doesn’t argue. His hand flared up again, briefly, then subsided.
Darkwing shook his head. “That didn’t help”. He mutters. He looks down at his mini-bar, sees the bottle of Bushmills irish whiskey, his favorite, and chuckles. He pats the bottle and walks to his deck.
Stepping through the sliding glass door, Darkwing gazes out onto the Pacific Ocean. Darkwing had did this countless times, but today felt different.
There is more on the line now. The trembling hand reverberates pain and past trauma as Darkwing closes his eyes imagining the lights, the music, the crowd.
In the past, Darkwing would say he’s doing it for the people, but now….
“Fuck the people.”
And it was with that soft remark that Darkwing realized why he was doing this shit all over again.
It wasnt money. It wasnt fame. It wasn’t even really about Bobbinette, although nobody else on the planet couldve got him to come back.
“Why does she do this, I wonder?”
Darkwing shakes his head as the breeze gives him a chill.
The reason he is back…..6 years later….has it been 6 years?
…..Darkwing is tired. He is 37 years old now. He wonders if he can still do his more ambitious moves, like his springboard clothesline and springboard spinning heel kick. Can he still leap over the ropes and onto the floor? How quick can he counter into moves like the Inglewood Cloverleaf or the Nightfall?
That is whats happening to his hand, as it screams at him. Reminding him of the pain and suffering of the past.
The near 40 year old doubts himself.
Doubt isnt a new thing for humans, and isnt even new to Darkwing. Darkwing doubted when he walked away from the business. He doubted when he returned. The circle was now complete.
But the most disturbing thing is that Darkwing doesn’t have his why.
The tag match will be rough indeed.
Darkwing clenches his right fist and slinks back into his house.
*SEVERAL DAYS LATER*
It is a now a new day. January 19th. Darkwing is standing, with his full wrestling gear on, standing across inside the ropes of a wrestling ring, from a trainer and sparring partner in a gym in Torrance, CA which is about 15 miles or so South of LA. The Gracie family of Ju-jitsu legend have a gym nearby and Darkwing has been coming here for a while to train in MMA.He also has picked up some Jeet Kun Do, a blessing as its given him skills to grow with his now older body.
The grizzled trainer, a stocky mexican man, snarls at Darkwing.
Trainer: You look soft! I havent seen you this weak since your Grandpa died.
Darkwing’s brows narrow at the mention of Grandaddy’s passing. He shakes his head convincing himself that the gut response wasnt worth it. Instead he cooly replies,
Darkwing: Ill be fine Pablo. Dennis, go for the lariat again.
Darkwing motions for a fit, tall brown skinned man to come at him. He’s wearing blue trunks with a white tank top. His scruffy beard and handlebar mustache clash with his bald head and narrow eyes, but it makes him look somewhat intimidating to regular people so he goes along with it.
Dennis charges forward into a lariat. Darkwing ducks it and counters with a drop toe hold, then gradually floats over into a front face lock.
Pablo screams at Darkwing:
“WHAT WAS THAT SHIT!?”
Darkwing sighs. He doesnt even bother to respond. He motions for Dennis to go again. Dennis gets up and charges once more. Darkwing hits the drop toe hold, then slightly-faster-than-last-time floats over into the front facelock. Pablos snarls.
“HOLY SHIT, THAT BRIAN HOLLYWOOD MOTHERFUCKER WILL EAT YOUR BLACK ASS ALIVE!”
Darkwing’s eyebrows raise at the invocation of his blackness.
Pablo seems confused. He angrily steps forward, right into Darkwing’s face.
Pablo: YOU HEARD ME! YOU ARE GONNA EMBARASS YOURSELF UNLESS YOU GET YOUR ASS READY UP HERE!!
Pablo jams his finger into the side of Darkwing’s head. Darkwing scowls.
Darkwing: I am ready.
Pablo: NO THE FUCK YOU AREN’T!! WHY ARE YOU EVEN GOING BACK!?
There it is. Again.
That pesky why.
Darkwing freezes. His hand roars at him. It trembles so much that Pablo notices, glancing down at it. Darkwing tries to hide the hand’s trembling by putting his hands in his hips. It works, but the hand still yells at him, the howls of pain and misery from HOW years past.
Darkwing has yet to answer.
Pablo has seen enough though. He smiles, with sarcasm free flowing from his lips.
Pablo: You’re done. Come back Saturday.
Pablo: You can’t hear either now? Yes, Saturday.
Darkwing: I have to fly out this weekend.
Pablo: I DON’T GIVE A SINGLE TABASCO COVERED FUCK. GO TALK SOME SHIT TO YOUR FUCKING JOBBER OPPONENTS AND KILL TIME THAT WAY. BRING YOUR ASS HERE AT 6AM SATURDAY OR I SWEAR TO GOD…..
Darkwing sighed, gritting his teeth.
Darkwing: I understand. Thanks Dennis.
Darkwing bows half heartedly to Dennis and exits the ring.
Darkwing wants to say something. But he just doesn’t have the heart. He wants this match to be done. He has always done best in the middle of fights. Maybe the why will be found when he hears the roars of the crowd. He knows the people will be torn. He won’t be standing for them. He will be standing for himself. And Bobbinette.
Maybe that’s always been the problem. For a decade, Darkwing always did things for others. For the people. For Lee. For the business. For Bobbinette.
Darkwing is back at his house, on the deck. A double shot of Bushmills in his hand. He lifts the glass to his lips to drink, and then he stops.
He may not have his why. Yet.
But he does know one thing…..that he has to know his how. The how has to be to respect his body and put himself first.
The how has to be him doing his best. It has to be him showing that he is still great.
Darkwing pulls his phone out his pocket. He sees a text from Bobbinette saying that some in HOW thinks he hates white people. He laughs.
Darkwing: I don’t hate white people…but its you motherfuckers who seem to doubt me the most.
Darkwing mutters to himself as he ponders why people think that.
This may be the most vulnerable Darkwing has ever been. The least strong.
But this is the angriest he’s been.
That pesky why……that can wait. It’ll come. Maybe when Brian or Eli tap out. Or later.
Darkwing puts the phone back in his pocket and tosses the irish whiskey out onto the cliffs below.
Darkwing will be silent for now.
From now on, shit happens on HIS terms.
The people can wait.
Brian and Eli will feel his darkness one way or another.
But they won’t hear it coming.
Let’s let his fists and holds speak louder than his mic skills.