It’s Revival 21 in the Amalie Arena and we’re in the middle of the PRIME Tag Team Title celebration with all members of the Love Convoy standing in the ring. The crowd reins down their hatred for Jonathan-Christopher, Tristan, Vickie and Darin Zion. While JC, Tristan, and Vickie have become animated, their co-hort Zion crosses his arms against his chest. REAL LOVE rolls his eyes while Vickie yammers aimlessly gloating about a false victory. With each passing minute, Zion gazes up to the rafters, tuning out the annoying witch. After taunting the Tampa crowd, Vickie ramps up her trash-talking game.
Vickie Hall: My team will go TWO-AND-OOOOOOOO tonight, followed by the following Revival when Darin Zion gets back into singles competition and FUCKING DESTROYS WHOMEVER comes his wa-
The vein erupts in Darin Zion’s forehead–REAL LOVE’s face has become a brilliant shade of red. Hell Valentine’s Day card manufacturers wish they could master this red color! REAL LOVE marches right up to Vickie and yanks the microphone out of her hands.
Darin Zion: VICKIE! ENOUGH!
Crowd: HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!
The crowd erupts hoping to see this annoying unit implode before their eyes. The remaining Love Convoy members look on in shock while Zion’s staring a hole into the irritating wench. Vickie’s eyes widen before she storms right up to him, whispering audibly into his ears.
Vickie Hall: Psst, Ziont give me the mic, okay? Everything’s fine….
As Vickie tries to steal the microphone back, Zion holds one-half of the Hall-Mark couple back with his might. Both Vickie and Zion bicker back and forth until the cold, calloused face melts away from REAL LOVE. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply. Letting out a disheveled sigh, Darin becomes choked up while speaking, tears rolling down his eyes. REAL LOVE shakes his head, his fists balled up.
Darin Zion: Look, I’m not leaving this group…I’m staying right here. But we cannot keep running away from failure. I can’t keep doing that. I’m done running from it. Being truthful with myself…that’s REAL LOVE. And it’s time for REAL LOVE to evolve and become TOUGH LOVE.
Darin Zion spikes the microphone on the ground. The Tampa crowd erupts into a massive “HONK” chant, while Vickie’s slowly easing away from Darin. Everyone from the dancers, The Love Convoy, and the Tampa crowd look in shock and awe while Zion stomps out of the celebration.
Time: 12:45 PM
Location: North End Cafe–Lafayette, Indiana
It’s stormy and gloomy outside the Lafayette area–no warm sunlight beams into this quaint, little cafe. Time hasn’t touched the inside of this small cafe. It still has its black, rounded booths, ugly green rug, and hideous light fixtures it had since the late 1970s. The hustle and bustle of the lunch hour has all the servers distracted.
In one of the booths, Darin Zion and his brother Jackson Thakker devour down their lunch in peace. Both men met up from their busy days. While Jackson’s visiting for a farm convention; REAL LOVE’s tied up doing media appearances for HOW. Thakker’s got on his bright white cowboy hat and his usual denim attire. Zion’s decked out in a blue-striped collared shirt in khaki pants for the occasion.
While Thakker scarves down the last of his Country Ham Omelette, Zion’s barely touched his Steakburger. Crossing his arms, Darin continues to recount his Saturday Night Troubles.
Darin Zion: I can’t believe I said that shit in public! It’s like I went into a trance. I lost myself in the heat of the moment…
Jackson uses his fork to cut another bite of his omelet down. Wiping some stray ketchup from his mustache, the Big Oklahoman Brute counsels his distraught brother.
Jackson Thakker: It’s a-okay, bro! Y’er only establishing y’er boundaries. I reckon it’s tough f’er ya. Most people get better at that art when they’ve had youngins. Ya haven’t quite done that. But I understand that in rasslin’ yew gotta do what’s best f’er ya.
REAL LOVE shakes his head before resting it in his palms. Darin’s shoulders tense up as he continues to reflect.
Darin Zion: It’s just…this LSD title tournament means everything to me. I’ve never outright won ANY HOW tournament I’ve fought in since I joined 8 years ago. Hell, I tied in that LBI against Brian Hollywood in 2016. Every other time, I’ve either gone out the first round or got weighed down by a useless tag partner.
Darin reaches over for his glass of water and chugs it down. After taking a couple bites from his burger, Zion sits it back down. Locking eyes with his brother, Darin lets out a big sigh.
Darin Zion: For once in my life, I want to earn my keep without a manager. I don’t want a tag team partner dictating what I can or can’t do. I don’t want anyone breathing down my neck. I want to earn my own merits. Because I made those mistakes–I’ve got to fight harder to earn back my credibility.
Jackson Thakker: Quit tryin’ ta justify y’er actions with me. Y’er doin’ a bang-up job in the LSD Title Tournament. The family’s proud of the strides you’ve made. All these mind games y’er friends are playin’–distractions Steve Solex can use against you.
REAL LOVE scratches his chin for a moment while Thakker snarfs down the final bite to his meal.
Darin Zion: That’s absolutely right…I’m trying to keep my mind clear for that rematch. It’s the finals of this tournament and I damn well know Solex’s focused on the prize too.
Jackson Thakker: Exactly! If those Love Convoy idjits love ya…they’ll understand where y’er hearts comin’ from on this issue. They’ll love and support ya no matter whatcha do! Keep fightin’ hard cuz lil’ Easton’s counting on Uncle Darin to bring home that LSD Championship.
Jackson downs the rest of his coffee before excusing himself from the table. Darin Zion stands up from the booth and extends his arms out for a hug. Both men embrace before Darin gives his brother a gentle pat on the shoulder. His eyes light up while a huge grin forms on his face.
Darin Zion: Thanks for letting me blow off some steam, man.
Jackson Thakker: Just keep trustin’ that big heart of yours, Darin. You’ve always been a fighter and I know ya won’t let anything stand in y’er way from gettin’ the biggest win of your career. I know y’er dad and our ma screwed ya up a lot. But you’ve matured a lot.
Darin Zion: Facts man! But you’ve helped me come a long way these last few months. I wouldn’t have won 4 matches in a row without you.
Both Zion and Thakker both shake hands before REAL LOVE tosses a $50 bill on the table. Jackson looks in shock before a twinkle forms in Darin’s eyes. After giving a slight smile, Darin heads on to his next media appearance.
-no hard feelings from last week man
we still cool in my book!
I needed to establish some boundaries moving forward
wanna hangout and play some online games 2night?
-not now…boo’s still upset…maybe l8r?
-sry man, u kno im booked all week with media appearances
tomorrow im doing autograph signings
friday’s when i’m on another podcast with Stewart
saturday is gym prep day and some community events…u know life of us wrestlers
–ahhhhhh! those how fools gotcha on the hook?
-doin’ my part to show initiative. I want that LSD Title more than anything.
–my boo and I culd tell…
–passive aggressive much?
–well vickie spent over 10k on that tag celebration…
THAT U RUINED…
maybe u should unblock her and apologize
patch things up
she WAS rootin’ 4u in the lsd title tournament after all
–GOD DAMN not this shit.
I don’t have time ur drama right now, JC.
–thats jonathan-christopher…u kno not to short-hand my name…
anyways, put that loser soldier away. make it worth it, man.
u got this, ZIIIIION! win the LSD title for the Love Convoy
rootin for u buddy
–whatevs…i’ll handle this shit in Orlando.
right now, Solex comes first, the LSD Title is above ALL other priorities.
–w/e Zion…dont forget to make it right w/ ur friends
Time: 10:23 AM
Location: Studio 37–Lafayette, Indiana
Sweat pours from Darin Zion’s hands. It’s the highest profile interview he’s had in 7 years. The last time Darin Zion received this type of attention–he main evented a string of HOW’s final Pay-Per-Views against Brian Hollywood in 2016. Now the neon lights beamed bright over him. The cameras now focused solely on his face. The tensions rose in his shoulders while his pale, white clammy face continued to drip sweat.
REAL LOVE takes one final sip of water from his cup. As Darin stretches the bright, red color on his plaid shirt; the intro starts.
“Get ready for the smack down
Get ready for the smack down
I know you gonna react
When you put on your back now
‘Cause there’s no turning back
When you’re facing the smack down”
An abbreviated version of Thousand Foot Krutch’s “Smack Down” blares over the sound system for a few moments. Before long–the Powerslam Network Podcast local explodes onto the screen behind REAL LOVE. Darin takes a deep breath before the animated host Stewart Walker takes the airwaves.
Stewart Walker: Welcome everyone to the Powerslam Network Podcast–streaming live on YouTube and our subscription service on Powerslam Network+. Don’t forget to subscribe today to get all the latest scoops from pro wrestling today.
The burly, black-haired teddy bear looks over to Zion. The shot brings both the host and his guest into focus. Walker’s hand extends towards Zion, who cracks an awkward looking smile on his face.
Stewart Walker: I’ll be frank with everyone here–I didn’t ever expect to have today’s guest on our main show. Over the past 4 years, this man’s floundered around High Octane Wrestling trying to find himself. However, he’s chalked up a string of wins lately that has the wrestling world talking about him.
Mr. Walker adjusts his bow tie before continuing his introductions.
Stewart Walker: He’s one of the most loud-mouthed, obnoxious wrestlers to ever walk through HOW’s front door. Many would describe this man as eclectic–a unique soul who marches to the beat of his own drum. Please welcome one of the finalists in the HOW LSD Title Tournament…DAAAAAAARIN ZION!!!!
Zion’s smile fades from his face while he’s shaking his head at Walker. Leaning down towards his podcast microphone, Zion rebuts the host.
Darin Zion: You mean I WAS that man. Over the past few months I’ve grown out of that phase of life. After Lee Best and I mutually parted ways–I learned to let my actions do the talking in that ring. I didn’t like the results when I tried to build my own clout. It was overwhelming to say the least. No more brash tirades…no more over-the-top level 9000 gimmicks. I’m a simple everyman like you and the rest of these fans.
Stewart Walker: The footage speaks for itself.
Stewart motions towards the production crew to roll the footage. A compilation of Zion’s last four matches rolls across the screen showing his wins over Brian Hollywood, Rocky De Leon, Scott Stevens, and Xander Azula. The scene cuts back into Stewart applauding Zion.
Stewart Walker: It’s quite an impressive feat when you’ve knocked off 2 HOW World Champions, a PRIME rookie, and a man who came within inches of beating Mike Best.
Darin Zion: It wasn’t a walk in the park…
Stewart chuckles while he glances down at his notes.
Stewart Walker: Yeah after Stevens concussed you on that steel chair–I thought you were a goner from the tournament.
REAL LOVE’s eyes widen before he relaxes back in his black leather seat. Crossing his arms across his chest–his eyes do not leave the rugged Oklahoma graduate.
Stewart Walker: Anyways looking at your busy schedule–you’ve got a lot going on in both HOW and PRIME right now. Some could argue it’s a major distraction in your path to regaining your LSD Championship.
Darin Zion’s eyebrows raise up. REAL LOVE reaches for the microphone.
Darin Zion: What do you mean it’s a distraction?
Stewart Walker: Well, not to question your talents, Mr. Zion. It’s just your biggest cheerleading section–the Love Convoy and yourself have displayed some…interesting issues since you made your long awaited HOW return.
Screenshots of Zion’s recent conversations with Vickie and Jonathan-Christopher play over the screen. The production team mixed them in with Zion’s recents promos and the Tag Title Celebrations fiasco. We cut back to Darin Zion grinding hard on his teeth. Zion’s face glows with red undertones. He’s tapping his foot on the ground, taming his tongue.
Stewart Walker: Rather you want to admit it or not–the Love Convoy falling apart is all the distraction Steve Solex needs to…
Darin Zion: The Love Convoy is FINE. F-I-N-E! We’re like anyone’s family. I didn’t come here to share a therapy session with some dumb mark. Our little hiccup is the least of my problems…
Stewart Walker: Touchy subject?
Darin Zion: No, let me show you what’s grinded my gears for the last week…
Darin Zion reaches over towards Stewart’s side of the desk and smashes down a button. A clip from the MVW House Show on 6/19/21 begins to air. It’s the last few moments of the match. We see Darin Zion sizing up Steve Solex, awaiting to hit the Ban Hammer on him. REAL LOVE’s inches away from knocking Solex out clean. However, before Zion can connect with the Mercdad–a hooded figure emerges from the crowd. Commentary from Benny and Joe airs over the speakers.
Joe Hoffman: WAIT! WHAT…WHO IS THAT?
Benny Newell: It’s definitely not one of Dan’s 233093209 daughters, that’s for sure.
This hooded man takes a pencil out of his pocket and taunts Darin Zion. The irate Zion slides under the bottom rope and begins pursuit. With Darin Zion distracted by the unknown Marty Pratt–Solex gets back to his feat. After nailing the Solexecution on Zeb Martin, the referee hands Steve Solex the HOTV Championship. The distraught Zion turns his attention back to the center of the ring, giving a horrified look as the scene fades.
Darin Zion: No, it’s been almost 2 years that memory has plagued me, Walker.
The camera zooms into Zion’s intense scowl. Darin’s voice raises as he continues to become passionate about this moment.
Darin Zion: The last time I took my eyes off Steve Solex–that opportunistic bastard picked up a championship I should have won. I let some dumbass MVW rookie crawl under my skin so much, I lost the best chance I had to win singles gold since 2016. I easily could have put Solex away. But that sly bastard weaseled his way out of Rockford, Illinois with gold.
Darin Zion’s head droops down while he collects his thoughts for a moment. REAL LOVE balls his fist up and slams it straight down on the desk with authority.
Darin Zion: Solex’s only gotten more dangerous since that fateful night, Stewart. Since then he’s become an HOW Hall of Famer. I’ve watched him go toe-to-toe with HOW World Champion Christopher America. I witnessed him form a ruthless bond with the Highwaymen. I saw him win more gold when they captured the HOW Tag Team Titles. This bastard leveled Scott Stevens with a fuckin’ chair and cracked his skull. And then that cold-hearted bastard walked out on his stable at ICONIC.
Darin Zion pauses and glares at Stewart Walker with a sharp hatred in his belly.
Darin Zion: Steve Solex is the dangerous, annoying final boss standing in my conquest to kill off my jaded past. This man’s a fuckin’ calculating solider with a hardened heart. He’s a jaded ruthless SOB wanting to get his hands on Jace Parker Davidson before I can do it. There’s no doubt in my mind Solex is out for blood because he got robbed at ICONIC. He lost both his LSD and Tag Team Title matches and he’s hungry.
REAL LOVE reaches over for his bottle of water and chugs it for a few moments.
Darin Zion: So to answer your question–no. I haven’t taken my eyes off Steve Solex. I won’t make that mistake again. I’m sizing up to erase the biggest mistake of my career when I step into the Mackey Arena at Chaos 021. I’ll make damn sure to give Steve Solex some TOUGH LOVE—something that flip-flopping turncoat has never experienced. I don’t care which one of the 31 Flavors of Solex shows up in that ring. I’m gonna split open his skull like I’m at war.
Stewart stops playing with his handlebar mustache on his beard. The podcast host simply nods in response to Darin Zion. REAL LOVE flops back into his chair and lets the man chime in on the conversation.
Stewart Walker: No doubt the LSD Championship finals will end with a bang. Both of you guys are a couple of underestimated hard-hitters. You’re both looking to put Tag Team wrestling behind you.
Darin Zion: I did a long time ago. I put everything behind me but that LSD Championship. Don’t think for one minute–I won’t do anything to win it back. Maybe I’ll return the favor and level Solex with the chair. Maybe I’ll break that fragile soldier’s neck with the Love Handle. Either way, I’m taking Solex as my prisoner of war. I’m gonna torture that bastard within an inch of his life. I don’t need some fuckin’ flash solider gimmick or multiple personalities to carry my ass to success.
Zion pounds his fists together while Walker’s eyes light up.
Darin Zion: I only need these two hands to wreck Steve Solex’s dreams of becoming a singles champ once more. It’s time I give Solex and the HOW roster the TOUGH LOVE they deserve. After I plant Solex’s head on that mat and pin him–I’ll realize my dreams. I’ll finally win one of the March HOW tournaments. I’ll punch my ticket to March 2 Glory–and I’ll erase my questionable past with my current accomplishments.
Stewart Walker: Indeed! We’ll be right back after a word from our sponsors…
The scene fades to black while Zion and Stewart banter in the background.
“Let’s set the record straight, Solex.
If you come in here with a rap sheet belittling my past mistakes like Jace Parker Davidson did last week–you’ve missed the fuckin’ point. This week–father time isn’t gonna hand you an easy victory. One minute won’t yield you fuckin’ miracles. Neither will any blood issues I’ve held with Jace.
You’re my target–standing in between me and my dreams of LSD gold.
I know you’re a soldier looking for one helluva fight. Hell, I wouldn’t expect anything less from you Solex. I know damn well you plan on taking me to the limits. You’re planning to leave my knocked out corpse on Lee Best’s doorstep saying you solved his problems. Hell, I know you’re one crazy mother fucker looking for indescribable ways to torture me.
But they won’t work.
I’ve let your HOTv Championship victory eat away at me for the past two years. I grew into a bitter and jaded man like yourself. I almost self-destructed my HOW career because I let it all mess with my mind. It became that simple brick wall I kept running myself into. That loss kept me up at night, torturing my soul on replay.
Now is the chance I can rectify the errors of my past. They all chalk up into one thing–jealous, greed, envy, hatred. I let it all build up until I exploded like a ticking time bomb. I let it take control of my every thought, action, word, and deed.
But now, I can erase that green-eyed monster. I can atone for all the sins I committed the last 4 years of my career. You’ve given me that chance to wipe the slate clean and write a new chapter in my story.
I want to take you down, soldier. Nothing else would look better on my resume than conquering a combat-ready veteran who served our country. Nothing else would validate my punched ticket than beating the man I let get away.
I promise Solex, I will correct my ship. I will set sail towards England with a 5 win streak. I’ll not only give you TOUGH LOVE but I’ll push myself and give me a dose of it too.
This is the final stretch–and I will not be denied this time. I’m giving you my all this week. You’re the one that got away from me once. But won’t allow it this time.
I will walk out of Lafayette as the winner of the LSD Title shot. I will get my ultimate prize: a clean slate and a PPV match.”