It’s been mere moments since Chaos 17 went off the air, and Xander Azula is still hanging around…only he isn’t just lounging backstage.
He is on a search, a hunt even…and it’s for one man in particular. A man he calls out to with a yell, to a response of silence aside from the echoes down the hall.
“Ayo, Coach! Where are you!?”
Xander has been frantically looking around for Joe Bergman since his coach made an appearance in the final moments of the show, but he and Adam Ellis are nowhere to be found. Instead, the Fighter bumps into a confused stagehand who is quickly subjected to a rant.
“I can’t believe I’ve been bamboozled like this, damn it. I’m over here fighting for his honor, like he’s been put on the shelf for always and eternity…and he just shows up tonight, no big deal. No phone call, no text to let me know what’s up. I’d expect this level of disrespect from just about anyone else…but not Bergman, not my coach.”
The stagehand, having nothing to say in response, just quietly shrugs his shoulders before walking off, much to the chagrin of the Fighter…who is left stewing in his frustration, to the point of ripping off a poster for ICONIC from one of the walls. He stares it up and down, focused on the faces featured…faces that include Christopher America, Clay Byrd, the rest of the Highwaymen, and even the Egg Bandits despite the landscape of the tag team division changing drastically since the Best of Seven series came to a close.
But not Xander.
He’s not even a footnote on the final supershow of the year, and this infuriates him as he crumples the poster up, tossing it to the ground before making his exit from the arena. Deep in the back of his mind, he is plotting…scheming, even…to figure out what his next steps are.
As we inch ever closer to ICONIC, I’ve been tasked with fighting an uphill battle to take my place on the show…to the point where I’m facing a mountain of a man in Bobby Dean.
Oh, Bobby. Look what you’ve gotten yourself into now.
A former HOTv Tag Team Champion, a man who successfully defended sVo’s Roulette Championship enough times to earn a shot at the big one over there…but here in HOW, you’re just the next lucky victim of my wrath.
When I look at you, I see a man who had to deal with the weight of his accomplishments and achievements holding him down, keeping him from reaching his full potential.
Guess you don’t have to worry about that anymore, do ya Bobbo?
It’s a shame you fellas couldn’t hold those belts for long against the Highwaymen…but it’s a bigger shame you have to deal with me this Sunday.
Because I’m still mad as hell, and I’m gonna take my frustrations out on you.
Coach Bergman is back in action, but that doesn’t mean I’m not mad about what was done to him. He’s got his battles to fight, and I have mine.
Because if no one is going to take me up on my challenge, then I may have to resort to forcing my way into a match…isn’t that the hot thing to do?
The card is subject to change, after all.
And if beating the ever-loving hell out of you means I can earn my spot somewhere, I’ll take it.
Because I’m tired, Bobby…I’m exhausted.
Chasing after people gets boring after a while, and I wanna put my energy into something much more meaningful with the time I have left.
This is the last Chaos of the year, the last stop before ICONIC…my last chance to really command respect in HOW, and I’m gonna pull it off by beating a certified legend of the business…another name on the list of legends humbled before the Fist of Eris.
And really, where’s the shame in that?
It puts you right up there with Hall of Famers like Kostoff, Bobbinette Carey, and Steve Solex.
All broken by my hand. All forced to accept defeat by the Fighter.
And now, I turn my eyes to the mountain that is Beautiful Bobby Dean
Ready to shake it to the very core, and bring the whole thing crumbling down.
And after I’ve leveled that mountain, I will plant my flag in the ruins.
I will stake my claim as one of the greats.
And then, if necessary, I will crowbar my way into ICONIC, and take what’s rightfully mine.
The gym is buzzing with activity, absolutely packed as one would expect after Thanksgiving as those who blew their diet on the holiday meal are now catching up…and among the hustle and bustle is Xander Azula, hitting the heavy bag hard as he works on his strength and conditioning.
He has opted to focus on simplistic training at a separate gym this week. With the sudden return of Joe Bergman last week on Chaos, Xander is just salty enough to keep his distance…leading to a natural question of how he will fare against Bobby Dean this week.
That is not the question on Xander’s mind right now, however. The question he’s asking himself with every punch against the bag far exceeds the scope of just this week alone.
“What the hell do I do now?”
Muttering to himself, the Fighter continues the assault against the bag until one of the gym’s staff approaches him, resting a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey man, ease up…you don’t wanna hurt yourself.”
Xander pays no mind to this, continuing to swing away at the bag as he mutters once more.
“It’s not me who’s gonna get hurt, that’s for damn sure.”
The staffer picks up on this, unaware of who Xander is or who that veiled threat is actually aimed toward.
Xander quickly snaps out of whatever mental state he was just in, looking at the young man with a tinge of regret.
“Sorry, man. I’m a fighter, and I got a big one coming up this weekend.”
The staffer gives an impressed look with a smile on his face.
“Nice! How you feelin’ about it?”
Xander struggles to answer the question, his mind still processing things as he just quietly walks away from the bag, much to the confusion of the staffer. Xander makes his way toward the exit, stopping only to grab his bag out of the locker he rented before stepping out the door as we fade to black.