Everyone knows how prideful I am with my work. Hell, it’s no secret I hated working in tag teams over the course of my career. It drove me apeshit to rely on someone else’s talents to drive my success. I’m a perfectionist. If something goes wrong or is too hard, I easily give up on it. It’s like I’m the enemies of Mike Best’s Twitter wars: I flee off Twitter in seconds after the first zinger flies off the presses. It’s the easy way out of all my problems.
Anytime something went wrong in PWX or HOW, my first instinct was to flee into the night. Those instincts kept trying to take over since I lost to Mike Best for the HOW World Championship. My stomach continued to knot up in pain. My shoulders felt like they held two skyscrapers up. Every time I watched The Minister screw up another opportunity; the voices in my head echoed louder and louder:
“You don’t have to worry about having talent; you never had any.”
“You’re mediocre! You’ll never amount to anything special in your career.”
“You’re nothing more than janitor, clean up the toilets, Zion.”
As the insults echo louder and louder each time they repeat, my fists clinched up tighter and tighter. My neck slowly tinges. As I replay The Minister ruining my career on three separate occasions; my soul darkens more on the inside. I had lost that sweet innocent spirit people adored about me. Now I only crave revenge.
My eyes continued to stare at the same long stone path I had taken for the past 15 years. With each step, my legs felt heavier. My heartbeat raced faster as I sauntered closer to that door with the golden lion knocker. My words got lost in the void of my mind as I made it up the brick staircase to the front door. Now I only hear silence! I stare blankly at his door, struggling to raise my hand up to do what I needed to do. Even if it cost me my own pride, I couldn’t allow things to stagnate this time. I mustered up all the strength in my arms and reached up to grasp the golden handle.
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
I could picture what I heard on the inside: the owner rushing down his large, lavishing staircase. My throat swells to the point I could barely swallow. Sweat poured down my head while my knees shook. I closed my eyes as the familiar voice bellowed through my ears drums as he opened to find me standing on his doorstep in shock.
“HOW DARE YOU SHOW UP AT MY MANSION!!!!” Brian Hollywood exclaimed ready to slam the door straight in my face. As I felt the air stream of the door beginning to slam in my face, I didn’t hesitate to slide my foot in between his two huge doors. I couldn’t let him close them!
My face immediately winces in pain from the force of the doors closing on my feet, but I refused to budge. I hobbled into the entrance of his mansion. The stoic look on my face intensified his rage as I forced my way in through the entry way of Hollywood’s manor.
I couldn’t force the words out of my mouth. It wasn’t a matter of my brain derailing off the tracks ready to say something stupid when I see the HOW World Championship this time. I just didn’t want to say what was on my mind. As he continued to lambast me with more insults and hate from our feud those past few months, my mind began wandering to distract itself from the pain and torture I’ve endured. I just stood there expressionless, devoid of all feelings. As he finished his tirade, I rushed up and wrapped my arms around him.
I stepped back and mustered up all strength in the world to swallow my pride. “I’m sorry, Brian. Over the past few months, I’ve blamed you for all the problems in my career. I can’t take back what I’ve done to destroy our friendship over those past few months. But…”
I felt like I was choking. Silence overcame me as I replayed The Minister attacking Meredith to destroy any hopes or dreams of winning the HOW World Championship. I flashed back to the disappointing feeling of learning I would team with Brian Hollywood for yet another HOW World Tag Team Championship match. While I know Lee wanted to reward me for my showing, in that moment, I felt like teaming with Brian was a step back.
My fists clinched together with my face turning red, but I turned to see Hollywood just standing there with his arms at his side. It’s like he felt my struggles and pain. He knew I failed myself. He just shook his head as I took a deep breath, feeling like all the pressure in the world released from my shoulders as I continued.
“I need you. I’ve resisted our paths aligning once more but losing to Mike Best taught me something. It taught I need my family in my corner. If I wouldn’t have resisted Mario’s request; you would have stopped The Minister. We could be holding more gold in HOW if we would have watched each other’s backs. We could have stolen the Egg Bandits glory at No Remorse. Hell, I could be holding the HOW World Heavyweight Championship right now. But I squandered all those opportunities. I’ve pushed you away. I’ve caused you to stumble just like I have and now…we’re back fighting the Bandits again…”
I reach down towards my satchel and pull out a box labelled “HOLLYWOOD” on the side. I toss it over towards him as he just looks at it longingly, like he remembered what I put inside of it. His silence said it all.
“Look, I won’t continue to interrupt your busy day. You don’t have to say anything. I’ve pissed you off these last few months I know. But if you want to beat the Egg Bandits this week and reclaim our first bit of gold together in nearly six years; you know we must do what we’ve been asked. It’s time to pull our heads out of our asses and start being a family again. We’re brothers. We’ve been through a lot of shit these last 15 years. We need to start acting like it again. Lord only knows I’ve failed at being your brother. But…”
Before I finish my sentence, Hollywood grabs me, gives me a hug and slides something into my pocket. He nods at me while he says “Go to the address on this card. If there’s one thing I know about you, Matthews, you’ve lost your edge. Go find it again.”
In typical fashion, Hollywood heads up his staircase without muttering a single good-bye. I reach down into my pocket starring longingly at the card before I head back to my car and leave the premises knowing I need to start listening to my brother once more.
“I can already hear the Bandits cracking the same Odd Couple jokes they’ve cracked the last couple months when Mario Maurako lined up two bitter enemies up to settle up their differences and win the Tag Team Championships. They’ve cracked the code and beaten us time and time again. Brian Hollywood and I have failed to function as a cohesive unit on multiple occasions. I’ve walked out on him twice and took the easy way out to protect my value. As I did that I watched as the Bandits continued to soar through the ranks and successfully dethrone a lot of HOW’s biggest threats over the last few months.
Jiles conquered Cecilworth Farthington in a convincing fashion to win the HOW LSD Championship.
Doozer and Jiles dethroned the Hollywood Bruvs and not only won the HOW World Tag Team Championships but ended their careers in HOW.
When people continued to discredit them, they’ve proved all their doubters wrong. They pushed each other harder to achieve the success they hold today. Hell, I wrote off every Bandit when I fought them in singles action the past few months and racked up loss after loss. I spent more time cracking jokes and discounting their success like everyone else in HOW did. They’ve earned the love and respect of the HOW fans from all the success they’ve accomplished.
But I’ve done some growing since I stood across the ring from the three worded wonder: RICK. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I stepped in the ring and took Mike Best to his limits right before his successful title defense at No Remorse. I cannot take my eyes off the prize. And I cannot do it without family in my corner.
Watching you Bandits love and support one another in all your successes made me take a step back after not only losing to you, but losing against Mike Best. I could have easily prevented The Minister’s interference if I hadn’t methodically destroyed my friendship with Brian Hollywood over these past few months. He was my biggest supporter nearly 6 years ago pushing me to achieve greatness in HOW.
It’s easy to write off two brothers who’ve been at each other’s throats for the past 4 years, but there’s two things I know about my brother you two don’t: one when one of us sucks up our pride and admits fault: we renew that chemistry. And when there’s gold dangling in front of our faces; we rise to the challenge.
Instead of being so short sighted and focusing on the past few months Bandits, go back and watch it on the HOTV app! When I first walked into a HOW ring; Brian Hollywood and I knocked off HOW legends John Sektor to win those belts. We continued our success when we knocked off Mike Best, Tara Michaels-Davidson, Scott Stevens, and Silent Witness defending those belts. Hell, Brian Hollywood pushed my ass towards the HOW ICON Championship in War Games.
You forget through all the chaos and destruction Brian and I’ve put each other through; our brotherhood erased all the Fisher Price dust off our careers. We soared to the top of HOW’s rankings and shocked the critics. It was easy for us to get jealous when one of us achieved more success than the other. We listened to the locker room and we got jaded. It made it so easy to give up on our friendship and pummel the ever-living shit out of each other.
In that moment, we took our eyes off the prize. We lost sight of what had grown us success. We let our jealousy and hatred destroy our careers to the point we stopped caring. And we let our enemies turn us into welcome mats where people like 24K, Eric Dane, and Lindsay Troy could wipe their feet all over us.
We didn’t give a shit about fighting for our success let alone those HOW Tag Team Championships around your waists. We only wanted to beat the ever-living shit out of each other and destroy each other’s careers.
It’s about time we grew up. We didn’t realize we could still maintain our friendship through our successes like the Bandits did. We let the spotlight corrupt that driving desire our friendship brought to us.
Brian, I know we’ve shared our differences over the past four years. When we formed the Order, let’s not lie about shit; I still held animosity that you held that HOW World Championship before I could. It fueled my jealousy and it drove me insane. I wanted to prove to the world anything you could do; I could do better. But now’s not the time to cut each other down. It’s time we sucked up our pride and get down to business. It’s time to re-forge our brotherhood.
It’s time we steal the winning formula! It’s time to show the Bandits our true potential.
On Refueled XXXVII, there’s no living in the past. There’s no hiding behind Centaur Zion pictures, stupid insults, or cheap cardboard cut outs, Bandits. It’s time to go to war over those HOW World Tag Team Championships.
You damn well know I’m focused since I lost to Mike Best. It’s eating me up inside. And I damn sure know it’s eating my brother in arms up that we both don’t have much gold around our waste since returning to HOW last summer. We’re both tired of the dry spells of holding HOW gold. We want to prove why we’re the most ruthless champions in HOW history. We’re tired of pissing away all our potential losing match after match.
And we’re damn sure tired of people writing off our friendship.
After having people talk about how I came within inches of taking Mike Best’s Championship gold, I’m still ready to earn my 24th accomplishment in my wrestling career alongside my best friend. I’ve never been more focused or passionate about anything in my career.
Those HOW Tag Team Championships once built my legacy here in HOW. I’m ready to have them define my career resurgence.
Make no mistake about us Zeb and RICK, you two might be the oddest eggs of the bunch, but we will not take you lightly like we have in the past. There’s too much at stake. We want those HOW Tag Team Championship around your waists and we will do whatever it takes to walk out of Refueled XXXVII with them draped around our waists.
We want our second reign with the belts that made our careers. Those HOW World Tag Team Championships mean more to us than the HOW World Championship. We made those belts amazing and we want to do it again. And I couldn’t think of a more crowning achievement than beating the most dominant tag team in HOW today. It’s an uphill battle, Bandits, but we know we can dethrone you. Because the Boyz are back in town and the brotherhood is reunited. We’re one unit now and we’re determined to win HOW Tag Team Gold.
When we do Bandits, make no mistake about it; we promise to celebrate in the only fashion that Hollywood and Matthews could ever do — a round of karaoke with our fans. When they queue our music and play it after we pin you guys, we promise the crowd will join us in a glorious rendition of a better 80’s band than AC/DC. They will sing our championship song from the rafters as Queen echoes from the loudspeakers and rows of our adoring, waiting HOW fans. And you will hear us all singing it as we hold those HOW Tag Team belts over your beaten carcasses raising our microphones high into the air singing:
“We are the champions, my friends
And we’ll keep on fighting ’til the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions
Of the world”