The sound of the gym’s locker room door being forced open and smashing against the wall went off like a gunshot. Standing in the doorway, in his wrestling gear, drenched in sweat, holding his left shoulder, and leaning against the door frame was the unmistakable outline of Christopher America. America winced in pain as he tried to push himself off the door frame and move into the locker room. As he made his way to the bench near a set of lockers, Luis followed in after him.
America groaned as he sat himself down. He looked up at the lights, clearly in pain. He was still trying to catch his breath as he held on tightly to his shoulder. As his breathing began to slow, America pulled his gaze down from the lights to look at Luis with contempt.
Luis scowled and folded his arms across his chest.
Christopher America: Well? What are you standing there for? Get the med kit, boy!
America barked the order with as much venom as he could muster in the moment. Luis continued standing there, fuming at America before stomping off. Upon his return, Luis was carrying a small med kit that looked old and well-used. Upon catching America’s eyes, he sneered at that package, wondering what unholy, Un-American diseases and germs were on it.
Luis opened the med kit and turned to America.
Slowly, America removed his hand and pulled down his strap to reveal a large gash. His body was awash with blood, both dried from having partially soaked up by his singlet and the other fresh, oozing from the open wound.
Luis’ eyes went wide as he took in the sight. And as much as he wanted to linger at it, America was an impatient employer. He blinked quickly shaking the awe from himself and grabbed a damp cloth and some water. He began washing away the blood while America closed his eyes and breathed forcefully through the pain.
After clearing away most of the dried blood, he began to treat the wound. America closed his eyes and jutted out his chin, doing his best to ignore the pain receptors that seemed to be firing at will inside his brain.
Having treated it as best he could, Luis began to clean away the rest of the dried blood on America’s chest. And as he did, he came across a scar that looked like a child’s crude drawing of an arrow. Luis looked up into America’s face and saw him still breathing through the pain.
Luis: What is this?
America blinked and looked down where Luis’ attention was at. America sighed out of frustration, pushed Luis away and pulled the strap up over his shoulder.
Christopher America: That… is a long time ago.
Luis: Did you get into a knife fight?
Annoyed at the insinuation that he would be so desperate as to have a knife fight, America mockingly retorted back, shaking his head on each word to drive the point home farther.
Christopher America: No, I did not ‘get into a knife fight.’ It was a mistake. A mistake from…
America thought back to the instance he got it.
Had it really been that long?
Christopher America: …almost ten years ago.
A mistake… that I am… being forced to repeat.
America looked away from Luis and stood there as if forcing himself to accept that decision. Luis said nothing but stared at America. America snapped himself out of his thoughts and looked at Luis’ gawking.
Christopher America: Anyways, congratulations. You got me.
America quickly tried to change the subject by goading Luis into a verbal fight. And it worked, as Luis got incensed and spat his words back.
Luis: Your arrogance got you, like it always does. You think that I don’t know how to train or that I don’t know what I’m doing. You’re in my hometown now! These are MY friends! They’re wrestlers and they overwhelmed you.
America let out a hearty laugh, the first one he’s had in a long while.
Christopher America: Wrestlers? They’re, what, 180 pounds soaking wet?
Luis stood firm.
Luis: And they’re used to taking on and beating men twice their size. And judging by the gash on the shoulder. They ‘got you.’
Luis folded his arms across his chest as America stood there frustrated.
Luis: Besides, you should have told me about the shoulder. I would’ve kept them away from you…
Christopher America: NO!
America’s shout shocked Luis as he jolted with the noise. Suddenly realizing he was shouting America quickly calmed back down.
Christopher America: No!
I don’t want any special treatment from you. Fucking judging me just like your father did.
Luis audibly and performatively sighed. He was growing agitated and spoke with deliberate intent.
Luis: As a trainer, my job… MY FATHER’S JOB… is to make sure that we work with and around any injuries present on our clients. Our job is to make sure that through our workouts, you don’t make the injury worse. Because in doing so, you could not only lose the match, you could find yourself put on the shelf. Shoulder muscle injuries… AT BEST… are four to six weeks of recovery. Do you want that? I’m sure YOUR employer doesn’t.
So, you’re going to tell me what the hell that injury is and how bad it is so that we can work around it.
America stood there. The second best wrestling mind’s brain kicked on and began calculating as many possible scenarios as it could. Excuses, explanations, lies, truths… it all ran through America’s head, extrapolating any and all possible outcomes that it could… before finally settling on a decision.
America took a deep breath, licked his lips, and began.
Christopher America: Years ago, I was a part of a group of men known as the Best Alliance. We ran roughshod over HOW, much like the Final Alliance does now. Our job… our duty… it was simple. Capture the titles – all of them – and prevent anyone from winning them. After… numerous… attempts to capture the Tag Team Championships failed, Mike Best, the boss’ son, and I teamed up and became the Best Americans.
We captured the Tag Team Championships.
We did what the others couldn’t.
Mike and I’s relationship was… strained… to say the least. He and I fought like hell against each other over multiple championships. And I… I hated him. I felt like he took things from me. Championships. My spot. My spotlight.
And I tried… hard.
I tried to work through my insecurities for the betterment of the Best Alliance. I tried to put all of my feelings aside for the sake of the group, for the sake of Lee. And I thought that to ensure the title stayed with the Best Alliance… and selfishly to stay in Lee Best’s good graces, I would do everything in my power to protect his son and ensure that he walked out of that War Games with the HOW World Championship.
America winced and rolled his shoulder, still feeling the pain.
Luis: But what leaves a gash like that? The slice you had was from a broken kendo stick. That other scar is a puncture.
Christopher America: It was from a harpoon.
Luis laughed out loud in disbelief.
Luis: Seriously though…
America’s voice dropped in tone as he glared at Luis.
Christopher America: Seriously.
Luis was stunned, fumbling for words but America pressed on.
Christopher America: This scar isn’t a… a battle wound. It’s not something to be proud of. It doesn’t show how tough I am. This scar represents one of my greatest failures. It represents one of the stupidest decisions I ever made. And no, I didn’t go to the doctor or the trainer and have it looked at. I didn’t have my shoulder rehabbed or anything like that.
I kept it as is.
A PERMANENT reminder.
I yanked the harpoon out of my skin. I wished that I could’ve taken comfort in the fact that I protected the boss’ son, but I couldn’t. Because while my protection saved him in that moment, he still did not win War Games. My sacrifice…
America looked down, mournful and resentful.
Christopher America: My sacrifice meant nothing. No rewards. No victory. Because the title… went to the winner. And the winner was Max Kael, that… deranged… psychopath.
Christopher America: And now, my championship is in jeopardy. Not just by members of my own team but by outside players as well. And do you know what our orders are… what our goals are?
It’s not to protect me.
It’s not to make sure that I walk out with the championship. It’s not to help further cement my status as the greatest War Games competitor of all time. It’s not even to make sure that we walk out with the LSD Championship or the HOTV Championship or even the Tag Team Championships.
It’s to make sure that the Alliance wins War Games.
Which means that this whole thing… the WHOLE EVENT… is based around making sure that the Alliance keeps the HOW World Championship.
And I’m not stupid.
I know what I am.
Lee knows too.
I’m damaged goods right now.
The loss to Stanislav. The near loss to Azula. My constant struggle to get along with Ward, to say nothing of my continued hatred for Steve Solex.
And as War Games got closer… as I got dressed for my matches, I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw that scar staring back at me.
Because it knows.
It knows that if I want to stay in the Alliance, if I want to do my part, then I need to follow my orders. I need to do my damn job. It knows that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished, how many people I beat, how long my reign goes, or the FUCKING FACT THAT I AM UNDEFEATED IN SINGLES ACTION INSIDE OF HOW!
America’s voice then dropped to a whisper.
Christopher America: It knows that, at the end of the day, Christopher America, current HOW World Champion, is nothing more than a cog in the machine.
And I deluded myself into thinking that I was something else. Even if I was a cog, maybe I was the golden cog, or the largest cog, or the central cog, the one that everything else hinges on or depends on…
But I’m not.
And that’s not Lee’s fault.
It’s no one’s fault.
I knew what I was getting into with the Board and the Alliance. I just… I stupidly thought this would be different.
And so now… now I know what I have to do. It’s the one thing in the world I hoped I would never have to do again…
If I can’t win War Games, then I am going to have to once again attempt to sacrifice myself for the betterment of the Alliance. Just to make sure that we keep the championship out of the hands of some deluded NERDS.
America turned towards a wall mirror. He held out his hands and looked at himself.
Christopher America: Another mark of shame for me to bear.
Luis remained behind America but walked into view of America’s vision. His mouth was open as he continued to listen in disbelief. The way America told the story, the flag man was a victim of poor circumstances beyond his control. He was the victim of HOW’s machine, like everyone was. It seemed like America, despite his best efforts, still found himself chewed up and spit out by that machine.
Luis processed as much as he could but something pulled him in a different direction. And suddenly…
Luis shook his head and nodded at the reflection of America.
Luis: You almost had me. I have to give it to you. You are… very… charismatic. And you spin a wonderful tale of victimhood. But I also remember that you have a gift for twisting things into a sick and perverted version of what really happened.
You say that you’ve moved on from Mike Best, but you haven’t. The hate may be gone but the hurt is still there. The way you look at your scar. It’s not one of shame. It’s one of fear.
And you’re afraid… even now.
America whipped around and glared at Luis.
Christopher America: Of course I am!
You have no idea!
NONE AT ALL!
Without… without this championship… I am nothing! Without the Alliance, I am nothing! You think what I did to your father was horrific?
Luis’s eyes flared at the mention of his father.
Christopher America: I work for a man who stabs his enemies in the eye with a pen! Those who disappoint him suffer same the fate… or worse.
I… have… no… choice.
I sacrifice everything at War Games.
Look at me! NOW!
The epitome of America lowering himself to being in your country. The man who hates everything Un-American having to debase himself, LEARNING to co-exist with those less than him from countries that mock us while simultaneously wishing they had the prosperity that we do.
I employed you… Alexei… Richard… Bill… all of you… to mock you. And now look at me… dependent on all of you. NEEDING you to help me.
Luis saw America for what he was. Their previous interaction in America’s home was smoke and mirrors. A façade wrapped in a lie wrapped in overconfidence. A multi-layered betrayal of what and who America really was. America showed his hatred for himself on full display. Luis, meanwhile, was disgusted. The sniveling, the groveling. Had he really been afraid of this man?
Luis: You’re a small man.
In that moment, Luis questioned how this man could’ve been the one to hospitalize his father. America’s eyes flashed with fury as he took a step towards Luis.
Christopher America: And you play a dangerous game.
Do you think that because we’re in Mexico, it won’t cause me to snap you like that?
America snapped his fingers.
Christopher America: Or the fact that I’m surrounded by your… your friends makes me scared? Let me tell you something. I’d be more than happy to jump you and take on those masked freaks out there. It would make my job at War Games easier. No need to defend the title. Just protect it. Protect the Alliance.
America fumed as the pain in his shoulder disappeared, replaced with a pulsing adrenaline. America got into position and motioned with his hands.
Christopher America: COME ON!
MAKE THE DECISION FOR ME!
Luis, however, said nothing.
As much as he hated to admit it, America was right. Pressing him now would only make his life easier.
And that was the last thing he wanted.
Luis stormed out of the locker room, leaving the med kit on the bench. America turned back to the wall mirror and pulled his strap away from his shoulder.
He looked at the scar and then closed his eyes.
He didn’t like it. But he knew what had to be done.
Lee Best wouldn’t have it any other way.
I need to get some things off my chest before I peel back the curtain further. So I apologize to those that this doesn’t concern.
Joe Bergman, you’re a piece of shit.
Plain and simple.
I have no respect for you as a wrestler or a human being. Every single interview that you do, you say the exact same shit over and over and over again. And it’s boring. Because YOU are boring. You have nothing new to say or offer. You may complain about how long I talked about the stupidity of your sports entertainment vs. professional wrestling argument but I don’t hear you talking about sports entertainment anymore, do I? No, you fucking gave up on that like a little bitch the moment you got smacked down.
And it didn’t even matter to you that I said that I wouldn’t face you at PWA 2, it didn’t matter that I said I don’t care whether I can beat you fair and square. The only thing that seems to matter to you is that you beat the same ORDINARY and BORING drum over and over hoping it somehow becomes a rallying cry for other people like you.
This isn’t 2019, Halitosis. This is 2023. And HOW is populated by a better class of wrestler.
I’m the gatekeeper to this World Championship.
And you… you aren’t coming near her.
I guarantee you that.
Jace Parker Davidson. I watch promos from you and I can see, hear, and feel the boredom dripping from your voice. You do NOTHING to keep yourself interested. Instead of waiting for tournaments to name your challengers, seek out someone that challenges you. Like I did. Like how I called my shot on EVERY SINGLE MEMBER OF THE HIGHWAYMEN. Instead of trying to fight Carey, who has barely won a match over the last two years, you could’ve called out Conor Fuse, Clay Byrd, Dan Ryan…. Hell, you could’ve even called out me.
But you didn’t.
Mike Best put you in an HOFC cage and you know what you did? You bowed down. And you’ll brush it off, Jace. You’ll brush it off as you just ‘getting it over with’ or spinning it as something more noble like ‘surviving.’ But the truth is that you and Scottywood and Scott Stevens are all cut from the same fucking cloth.
You gave up the moment the match was announced.
Mike put you in the cage not to boost his ego but to wake you the fuck up. To make you care a little more. To get you motivated for War Games. To get you motivated and push you to become a better champion. And ALL THREE of you shit the bed. I’m not talking about your performance in the cage, either. I’m talking about how you acquiesced from DAY FUCKING ONE. I’m speaking as one of the very FEW men who’ve beaten Mike in an HOFC match.
You don’t DESERVE the LSD Championship. Not for that performance. And say what you want, Jace. Talk about my World Championship match against Azula. I can see it on the tip of your tongue. But whether I won or lost that match, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, will question that I put more effort into that match than you did in yours.
You’re starting to pull yourself out of the depths of not giving a fuck. You’re on television more often. You’re welcome for that. It’s nice to see that this veteran can give you, the up and comer, a little advice and see that you incorporate it and run with it.
I saw your little promo where you called me Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen. That can mean one of two things. Either Clay Byrd has paid a ticket to watch Zack Snyder butcher someone else’s work or he bought a book and asked someone to read it to him – making sure to show him the pretty pictures after every panel. Either way, it means Clay Byrd would rather spend a paltry sum of his 485,000 dollar contract on entertainment than actually invest in a lifestyle so he doesn’t look and smell like Crackhead Kenny lying in some New York City gutter.
At best, Clay, this means that you are marginally better than Jace, because it means that you actually decided to start giving a fuck again.
But don’t lie and big yourself up and say that you worked hard and trudged through adversity… unless working hard means doing FUCK ALL for most of 2022 except losing big matches… or unless trudged through adversity means overcoming your own ineptitude.
You promised that night that you were going to beat the shit out of me and Ward, but you didn’t, did you? No, just like how the Highwaymen were ‘doing good’ or that you’d finally ‘win the big one’ at ICONIC, it was just another lie, just another broken promise.
And don’t talk to me about how you beat Ward one on one. I don’t care. I don’t like Ward, either. I think he’s obnoxious. I think he’s a douchebag. And I see through everything that he does. And don’t get me wrong… Ward is good, Clay. He’s a good wrestler. He’s a tough opponent. But Ward isn’t Christopher America. Ward isn’t the HOW World Champion. Ward isn’t the greatest War Games competitor of all time.
And if you think I give two shits about the fact that you are named captain, do me a favor and calculate how being named captain translates to actual War Games victories. Go ahead. I’ll wait while you try counting on your fingers.
So relish in your captainship, Mr. Byrd… I’m sure the title brings you some comfort. But believe me when I say that being named captain is the ONLY title you and Ward will take comfort in.
Now, for the rest of you, allow me to peel back the curtain more.
I want to show you this scar, here on my shoulder. Almost a decade ago, I got this by defending Mike Best from a harpoon attack. I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do in an attempt to ensure that the Best Alliance retained the HOW World Championship. Many of you have questioned whether Christopher America would do what was best for him or what was best for the Alliance.
Let me answer that for you.
Christopher America is going to do what is best for Christopher America.
First and foremost, what is best for Christopher America is what is best for the Final Alliance. And that means making sure that I complete the cycle, that I do what no one since Aceldama before me has done, which is to retain the HOW World Championship inside of War Games. Securing the victory and the championship for me and for the Alliance.
If I find myself in a position where the championship would be in jeopardy of falling into the hands of someone outside of the Alliance…
… Then I… will do what is best for me… and make sure that the championship stays with the Final Alliance… even if it means that my beloved is put into the hands of some Un-American filth.
So yes… I will work with Evan Ward, Aceldama, Charles de Lacy, and… if so necessary… the other one… the one in the mask.
Because it’s the right thing to do.
For the Alliance.
For Christopher America.
For the HOW World Championship.
So now you know even more of my mindset, now you know just how important this match and this championship are to me.
And now, I want you all to do me a favor.
Tell me about you.
Tell me about the lies and the excuses you’ve got stored away as to why you didn’t win War Games. Tell me how it’s someone else’s fault that you didn’t put forth the time or the effort. Tell me how you couldn’t anticipate the returns of Rhys Townsend or Max Kael. Tell me you didn’t see the resurrection of Graystone or Marcus Reinhardt coming. Tell me about how if it weren’t for Cecilworth Farthington or The Anglo Luchador or Bill Dickinson, you’d be World Champion.
TELL ME ABOUT HOW YOU DIDN’T SEE THE SCREW JOB COMING!
Expose yourself and your lack of planning for the entire world to see.
I expect it. I expect it all.
From harpoons to guns, from beaches to battlefields, from outside interference to shocking betrayals, War Games gives it all to us. A match designed to truly test who among the HOW wrestlers is the absolute best. And I learned long ago to expect the unexpected.
Because when it happens, when that unexpected variable shows up, that’s when our adaptability… our ability to evolve… is truly tested. See, I don’t have time to be afraid. I don’t time to worry about the pain or the blood. All that matters is the goal. All that matters is the HOW World Championship.
War Games turned me… this technical wrestler… into the brawling, uncaring, hardened wrestler you see before you. War Games took me and scraped away my wide-eyed innocence, hardened the soft skin with callouses and scars, and showed me what it truly means to ascend beyond wrestler – to become something more – something elite, something legendary, something iconic.
And so, when you stand opposite from me in that cage… that… is what you face. That is what you have to conquer.
And to borrow a quote from Clay Byrd’s new favorite bedtime story…
I’m not locked in there with you. You’re locked in there with me.