Here I am, sitting near the bottom of the standings. Some would say the laughing stock of HOW, burdened with the task of scrapping my way back up by any means necessary.
Luckily, every burden is a blessing.
And I am truly blessed in this situation, because I have little left to lose as I step into the ring with Shane Reynolds. This is a Hall of Famer who sits pretty at #4 in the ranks as of late, a man coming off a recent 41-day title reign as HOTv Champion that is only the tip of the iceberg of his accomplishments.
A former LSD, ICON, and World Champion stands between me and glory this Sunday…but even the highest wall can be climbed with enough ingenuity. Believe you me, Shane-O, I plan on putting that to great use when we step into that ring.
Because looking at you, Shane, I see not the Hall of Famer, the man who achieved these great things in the olden days…I see a man who’s fulfilled his one true purpose, revenge.
After all, that was why you came back, wasn’t it? After all these years of hiding, you show up at War Games to be a ghost of Bobbinette Carey’s past…and you haunted her to a win in Australia, holding onto the HOTv title in the process.
But what now, Shane-O? You beat the woman you sought your revenge from, and you no longer hold the championship…where do you go from here?
Every time you’ve stepped into that ring could be your last, Shane. You know this all too well by now, hence why all those high-flying maneuvers of the past have largely stayed behind. But more than that, every match you have now means your body is worn down, eroded by the waves of time…and I am the wave that breaks you.
So let me tell you where you go, Shane…the long road to ruin.
A road that begins with the Fighter standing across from you when we’re inside the State Farm Arena. All of HOTlanta is going to bear witness to a fallen, broken man.
They will mourn the demise of your legend, as mine rises to a higher level.
I will no longer be the laughing stock, I will not be a joke. I will be the man that destroys Shane Reynolds, once and for all, sending him back to the void from whence he came.
I will begin my ascent up the rankings, and my road to redemption as I seek revenge of my own against Steve Solex…a Hall of Famer who, like you, will soon find out that Xander Azula gives no so-called legend a pass.
Such is the blessing of burden…a blessing that will absolutely curse you this Sunday.
A curse that will never leave your side, not when the new face of fear reveals itself. Folks like you and Steve Solex have done this to me, Shane. You’ve left me no choice but to embrace the chaos that’s been dormant for far too long.
I hope you’re ready to embrace that chaos, Reynolds. We’ve been waiting for you.
Let there be chaos.
Long Beach, CA
It’s been two days since Chaos 45, a rough night for Xander Azula…but we do not see the Fighter inside the common room. Instead, we are greeted by the sight of his closest Eternal Circle followers seated around a table. The mountain of a man that is Vagn Dahl looks across the table at his junior compatriot, Thomas Crowne, who is no slouch in stature himself, before both men look to the lone woman of the group in Mysti, a look of concern on her face as she finally cuts the silence by chiming in.
“So, what are we going to do about Xander?”
“He’s been going off the rails for months now,” interjects Thomas with a furrow of his brow. “Let’s face it, brethren, he still hasn’t quite gotten over that loss at ICONIC…or that rough night going after the World Championship.”
All three nod in agreement before Dahl chimes in, his gruff tone a juxtaposition to the ones preceding it.
“But he is the leader. Whatever we are to do, we do it for his best interest.”
They mutter a single word of agreement, before Crowne speaks up once more.
“We need to get him back on track, regardless. You saw how mad he was over being inches away from stopping that pinfall on Sunday. He’s taking THAT loss to heart, because he got laid out by Dan Ryan…he even said something like ‘Dan’s on my shit list’ as we left the building that night.”
“Been muttering about ‘showing a new face’ all day yesterday, for that matter,” adds Mysti with a heavy sigh. “I don’t even know what that means, but it can’t be good.”
The three disciples look at each other, the silence starting to overtake them until Vagn puts an end to it once more.
“Seems like as good a time as any to go check on him. He’s been holed up in his quarters since we got back, and unless he snuck out I don’t think he’s even had any food.”
With that, the big man rises from his seat, heading toward the commissary. We cut away to moments later, as Dahl walks up to the living quarters of the Head Disciple of Chaos…an eerily quiet room, much to Vagn’s chagrin.
Sandwich in hand, the big man knocks the door with a heavy hand, a booming thud signaling his arrival to the man on the other side of the door…but there is no response. Dahl gives it another try, until the door finally opens…and the sight standing before Vagn gives the man a startle.
For the man who stands before Dahl is not the usual Fighter we see…instead, this Xander Azula has his face all painted up, his lips twisted into a snarl as he snaps at his right-hand man.
“What do you want?”
“What the hell is this,” replies the big man, looking neither amused nor intimidated by the change in look from his leader. “I brought you food, go get cleaned up and eat.”
“We need no sustenance, mortal, we crave–”
“Ah, stuff it.”
With that, Dahl slams the sandwich into the hand of Azula, shoving him back into the room before closing the door in his face. He notices the doorknob starting to turn, and grabs onto it tight, forcing the man inside to come to grips with being trapped in his own quarters for the time being as Dahl shouts at the door with authority.
“You can come out when you’ve fed and cleaned yourself, brother. You’ve lost your marbles, and we need you focused for what’s to come.”
The senior disciple shakes his head at the response he gets, the distinct sound of Xander howling in laughter before chowing down on the sandwich, as though giving in to the need to feed as Dahl heads back to the common room…plopping himself back down onto the seat he returns to, a heavy sigh before speaking to Crowne and Mysti.
“Yep, Xander isn’t fully with us right now. Let him eat and get himself sorted, and we’ll discuss the game plan going forward. He wants a crack at Solex, but he has to go through Shane Reynolds first…and there’s no way he’s going against Reynolds the way he is right now.”
This is a point all three can come to terms with, once again nodding in agreement as they prepare themselves for the arrival of whatever may step out of that living quarters…whether it’s the Fighter or something else, something dark. Whatever it is, the disciples know there will be repercussions as they gear up for the week ahead…but we are left with more questions than answers, for we simply fade to black.