I’m going to be perfectly blunt with you, Harrison.
Perhaps far more than I already have been.
When people look at you? They don’t see a champion. Not because you haven’t been one, per se, but… well, it’s because you give them no reason to see one.
I used to think it was just bad luck on your part. The whole not getting an opportunity to be one sorta thing.
But you have had opportunities. Against Sektor. Against Jace.
And now you have another one. Against me.
But after watching back your matches? Your promos? Every other bullshit you’ve spewed on HOTv in between? I’ve come to realize it’s just in your nature to fail.
You’re the fucking Anti-Champion.
My eyes slowly open as the stench of butterscotch and alcohol immediately fills my nostrils. My head throbs and my stomach churns as I roll over onto my back from my right side. My arm is completely numb, indicating that I’ve been there for quite a while. Hours, possibly.
I can hear voices in the immediate vicinity. Chattering. Of all different timbres.
Pushing up from the hard cement floor with my numb hand, I take a hard look around.
Jail. Fucking… JAIL?!
Looking down at myself, I see I’m wearing a red, white, and gold jumpsuit with silver sequins. It looks like I’ve been competing in an Elvis impersonator competition. Looking even further down, I see my shoes are ivory and look astoundingly like Elvis Presley’s white bucks. In my pocket I pull out a piece of paper that says “THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE ANNUAL ELVIS IMPERSONATOR AT BREWSKIES!”
“PLEASANT!!” a voice shouts, cutting through my confusion and the indecipherable mumblings of my other inmates. I turn to look at the source of the voice and I see a tall Black male police officer and a much shorter, familiar-looking white lawyer next to him. Never in my life have I been happier to see Arliss Peters.
“You made bail.” plainly states the policeman, who looks several shades of disgusted by me. Arliss holds his hand up so that he can talk.
“My client is lucky. Brewskies decided to not press charges.” he adds to the policeman’s statement. “Thank you, officer. I will see my client out now.”
Just as Arliss helps move me along by pressing his hand into the small of my back, I look at him and, with a whisper, try to get the words out properly.
“You remember nothing?!”
I stare blankly as we walk towards the front of the police station near an area where personal property seems to be picked up by persons getting their release. Finally, after several moments, I shake away the confusion and manage to form a proper sentence.
…To The Wayback Machine…
24 Hours Earlier
The door swings open as I step back into Brewskies. Those biker dudes, who I previously played a couple rounds of pool with, are now playing with some fresh meat. Not the STRONK kind of meat, mind you, but another biker who looked relatively young and inexperienced. Without even looking in their direction, I make my way to the bar.
“I’d like to open another tab.”
The middle-aged bartender with a mullet and an Elvis tattoo on her neck looks at me with reservations. Obviously, these locals do not take kindly to outsiders strolling in and barking orders.
“Please?” I add, hoping she’ll oblige me.
“Whadda ya havin’?” she says gruffly.
“I don’t care. Whatever ya got.”
“How ‘bout one of our IPAs? You fancy folks comin’ in usually like to order them thar types of drinks, so we stocked up on some ale that looks and tastes like some kinda candy ‘er some shit.”
Squinting hard, I lower my head and rub the rips of my eyebrows with my thumb. “Please God, give me the fucking strength.” I say to myself.
“Whatever. Sure. Let’s go with that, Miss Mullet.”
She turns around to take off towards the kitchen when her fifteen-second delayed response kicks in.
“What the fuck didja say tah me?!”
Being that it’s quite noisy, I figured I can probably get away with it.
“I said sure, whatever beats the silver bullet. You know, Coors?” I say, pointing to an old Silver Bullet bar sign advertising that Rocky Mountain Rat Piss called Coors Light.
“Oh. Okay. Yeah, not a fan of Coors myself. I’ll be right back, hun.” she says, foolishly believing my lie.
Waiting for my dreaded IPA, I look around and notice there are quite a few people dressed up like Elvis Presley. Over in the corner, I notice a DJ getting set up with his decades old equipment and positioning a mic stand on the elevated platform he’s on.
“Oh, no.” I think to myself, realizing this has to be some kind of Elvis Impersonation night.
Miss Mullet returns with my IPA. The bottle of ‘ButterScooch’ literally has a butterscotch candy wrapper on top of a rusty-looking twist off.
“Ohhhhh… wow. So this is it, huh?” I say, looking at the bottle as frightened as someone getting caught by Chris Kostoff trying to shave off his beard on a flight to the next town for Refueled.
“Yessir. Hope ya like it. Enjoy!” she says with a snicker.
I rip the candy wrapper off the top of the bottle and twist the cap off, clinking it against the bar counter as I toss it away from me.
“Here goes nothing.” I say out loud to no one in particular.
Day in and day out, you stand there with a glazed over look in your eyes that screams, “I’m here, but I’m not here.”.
For example, you stand there and present yourself as this remorseless animal, but contradict yourself and say that you have a conscience buried deep somewhere within.
Which is it, Harrison? You can’t have a conscience and call yourself an animal any more than you can divide by zero, Harrison. If you want to know what an animal looks like, then watch my friend Jeffrey. Or your bloated Behemoth Brethren there at an all you can eat buffet.
If you were actually “here”? Then you would BE. HERE. Elevating yourself every week by going that extra mile. Reaching up for that brass ring. Breaking through that glass ceiling. Doing whatever it took to not only survive, but thrive in the wild.
But you just don’t, Harrison.
You cry about superfluous things like not having insurance.
You moan about The Board > Best Alliance > eGG Bandits > Noble Gaming > Hereditary Hair Loss.
You bitch about not sleeping–maybe you should watch back your own promos to help you with that. Costs less than an Ambien, for sure.
You just… goddamn man… you do everything but stay on point.
You give just enough effort, week in and week out, to get a spot on Refueled and occasionally have yourself highlighted on HOTv Spotlight to remind everyone that you’re (unfortunately) still fucking here.
Occasionally, you’re thrown a bone or two by getting an opportunity to step into a tag team match and win a “tag team title” through some freeBANDIT rule bullshit like you did last year right before the tag team division died.
And that? Haha, that really tracks. Just like the marks up your arm you try to hide from the world. ‘Cause only a weak-minded piece of shit addict would say he doesn’t do drugs or whatever when no one ever fucking accused him of doing them in the first place.
Being a part of a team as an end-of-rotation player like you still gets “a ring” with the rest of the team. Congratulations on your participation trophy for being 1 of about 35 in the Best Alliance. But does that really make you a great wrestler in HOW? Or relevant to the history books? No. No, it doesn’t. In fact, it barely qualifies you as a decent tag team wrestler.
Point is, that’s not how being a champion works in the fucking real world, and that’s why you will never get the chance to experience that. Not on my watch, shithead.
Oh, but don’t worry. Now that you have more than one other person at your side again, you can have them do all the heavy lifting for you in the tag division again.
“I mean… there are fragments, I guess? I remember shooting some pool at the local bar and a man staring at me in the parking lot. From there, it gets a little hazy. OH! I remember having a few drinks of some shitty IPA that tasted like what a fucking Butter Beer probably tastes like at the Three Broomsticks.”
I feel the top of my head.
“You know, considering I won first prize in some Elvis look-alike contest, I don’t really feel all that Elvissy. Where the fuck’s my coiffure?” I ask, assuming there are items being held for me while I’ve been stuck in the drunk tank.
“That’s why we’re headed to the IPP.”
“The who in the what now?!”
“Inmate Personal Property. Thought you did time, Arthur?!”
“FUCK, no! Lakewood wasn’t a prison. I was-”
“-in an institution. Yeah, I remember. Sorry. Sometimes I forget the differences between you and JJR.”
Arliss nods and snaps a finger at the police officer, currently on duty at the IPP kiosk.
“I believe there are some belongings to be picked up?” he says to the officer as if it’s another day at the office.
“Name?” the officer lazily replies. Clearly he’s upset that he isn’t out catching bad guys and getting to use his standard issue Glock pistol.
“Presley, Elvis… apparently.” I shoot back before Arliss can respond.
The officer suddenly perks up as if he knows exactly whose belongings he needs to fetch.
“Son of a BITCH. So you’re the Elvis prick, eh? You’re lucky your lawyer friend here is bailing you out for what you did, you motherless piece of shit!”
Well, fuck ME. Did I kill off an endangered species? Did I run over the Mayor’s foot with a tractor? Did I piss on Aretha Franklin’s rotting corpse?
Again, I feel compelled to whisper.
“What is happening? What in the fuck did I-”
“Shhh. We’ll get to that in a minute. Just relax.”
I put my hands up and step back, allowing Arliss to do his thing.
“You do you, King.” I say out loud.
Without waiting another beat, Arliss motions to the officer.
“Pleasant, Arthur. Please.” he says with a frustrated sigh.
The officer shakes his head with a clear moral contempt as he leaves the counter to grab my things.
My eyes open wide as I remember a few more things about the previous night.
“Fuck. I remember some more things about what happened!”
…To The Wayback Machine…
22 Hours Earlier
“Ladies and gentlemen, Elllllvissssss Pllllllllleasant!” calls out the DJ.
I am in no shape to walk out in front of a bunch of Memphians, pretending to be the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Wait. How did I even end up here?!
What the fuck was in that goddamn beer?!
♪♪ You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog♪♪
♪♪Cryin’ all the time♪♪
Wait a minute, is this about Steve Harrison?!
“FUCK YOU ST-STEVE HARRYSINS!! YA BITCH ASS FUCK!! EAT MY DIIIIIIICK MEMPHIS!!!”
Was that me? Did I really just say that? I don’t even know what’s happening right now, but people are looking at me funny. Funnier than usual, anyway. And I don’t think it’s from being the funniest guy in the room, either.
♪♪You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog♪♪
♪♪Cryin’ all the time♪♪
♪♪Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit♪♪
♪♪And you ain’t no friend of mine♪♪
“BOOOOOOO!” these idiots yell at me.
“Get him off the fucking stage!”
“What a disgrace to the KING!!”
Holy shit. These people are pissed.
♪♪Well, they said you was high-classed♪♪
♪♪Well, that was just a lie♪♪
♪♪Yeah, they said you was high-classed♪♪
♪♪Well, that was just a lie♪♪
♪♪Yeah, you ain’t never caught a rabbit♪♪
♪♪And you ain’t no friend of mine♪♪
Am I… am I air thrusting?! Good fucking GOD.
“FUCK YOUUUUUU MEMPHIS!!!! Y’ALL JUST A BUNCHA SISTER WIVES AND BROTHER HUSBANDS!!”
No, no, no, no, NO. I can’t seem to help myself. It’s almost like some kind of wizarding magic has taken control of me.
“Ow, what the fuck lady?! I didn’t even–”
One closed biker-dude fist later, it’s light outs.
Let’s make like Ross and Chandler and pivot that fucking couch for a second.
I didn’t like my performance at WAR GAMES last year. Not knowing what I know now, I didn’t take the whole thing all that… seriously. Heh.
I joined Team 214 just to fuck with our captain. No, seriously. My whole objective last year was to have a moment where I could drop her with the Calamity Pain, tell the rest of the 214 to jump in a lake with an anchor tied to their feet, and go stand in a corner while the Best Alliance dominated the rest of the match. At the end, I would bask in the failures of someone who has looked down on me my entire career.
You see, that overrated, emotionally damaged, train wreck of a fucking twat who proclaimed to be the Queen of Wrestling–when she was actually three positions lower than the lady of the castle—thought she was a legend or bad ass ‘round these parts and the heir to some imaginary throne dreamt up from her innermost delusions of grandeur.
The reality of it? Her duty was always reserved for procurements to the real fighters and defenders of this damn castle. Not some grand sovereign looking down from her royal embrasure.
Stay with me, Steve. I bring her name up not to get off topic or name drop a rival promotion, but to make a very important parallel with you. So don’t go stooging off to one of your Milkamaniacs just yet. Pay attention and I promise you’ll get only more pissed off. Pinky swear.
With my maladjusted goals in place and distracting myself to things that didn’t matter the slightest bit, I was beaten, and my time in WAR GAMES ended sooner than I intended.
I deserved to be pinned, Harrison… I deserved that sneaky roll-up of yours. I hated it. But I deserved it. Most importantly?
I’m actually glad it was done by you.
Because getting eliminated from the biggest event on a HOW Calendar year to a whiny, self-serving, sermonizing snoremonger like you put things into perspective real quick.
You call yourself a Man of Miracles in the same manner an ordinary woman once called herself Queen here in HOW. Much like her, you think you deserve to be a champion, but when the going gets tough and you fucking lose to your betters? You whine and blame it on the sexist pigs talking about your vagina. Or you go down with an injury and come back half a man. Pick one. Whatever. That’s YOU.
With that in mind, I’m going to do everything in my power, whether it’s train, watch tape, or kick a banana tree down with my bare shins like it’s 1989, to never underestimate or overlook you again. Just because you’re the Anti-Champion, doesn’t mean you can’t get a fluke win against someone from time to time. Especially if they’re not expecting your every move.
Unfortunately for you, that’s precisely what I’m expecting.
Everything in your entire being.
And maybe, after some unpleasant motivation, even a little bit more.
“Get this suit off of me.” I say as I start to unzip my jumper in the police precinct.
Arliss looks horrified as my shitty-titty Watchmen tattoo is exposed. Grabbing my hand, he pulls my zipper back up.
“Not here. For the love of God. Do you WANT to be arrested again?!” Arliss pleads.
The officer returns to his desk with the Elvis coiffure. I look at it, internally shrieking about the idea of being accosted by a bunch of foul-smelling, Elvis-worshipping Memphians again.
The moment Arliss signs all the necessary paperwork, he ushers me out of the precinct to the outside in a trail of silver sequins. Again, I pull down my zipper as people walking back and forth look at me with a wild look on their faces.
“I fucking hate the south!” I blurt out to my trusted consigliere.
I knew that leaving this place with intentions of coming back would be a monumental challenge for me personally. People like to create their funny illustrations and manifest these paint-by-numbers illusions to fit a false narrative as long as the picture’s colorful enough and the audience reacts to it loud enough. Who gives a fuck if the illusion is just that and not even the correct color in the corresponding number, right? #ThePerception and shit.
Even knowing this, I left anyway.
To better myself.
To perhaps gain some tangible in-ring experience to beat the living legends of this business that keep coming out of the woodwork.
Even STILL, I knew no matter the reason I gave, people would use it as some type of verbal blade, trying to twist it into my guts at every opportunity.
Despite this, I’ve welcomed it.
I’ve melted the blade down and reshaped it into what can only be described as steeled confidence.
Considering I’ve yet to be pinned or tapped out since coming back to HOW? Or ever in the latter’s case? I think it’s seeping inside people’s minds like a liquid parasite that I was right to leave, adjust my priorities, and make a comeback befitting a champion.
You said it yourself. I beat one of the absolute best.
So… thank you.
For being the first one to fully understand.
To recognize that my purpose has been renewed.
‘Cause not only am I here to claim the Tag Team Championship with my friend Jeffrey, shock the world and win WAR GAMES, and defend my LSD Championship more times than anyone in history, but I am here to fucking crush everyone who stands in my way.
I am here to suffocate those who look in my direction, with anything but respect, in their own mixture of blood and shredded soft-tissue. I am here to destroy anyone who breathes the same fucking air as me. I am here to annihilate, defile, mutilate, vaporize, and raze anyone and everyone to the fucking ground as if I’m the right hand of GOD Himself.
You can’t have a conscience and call yourself an animal, Harrison. One denies the other of its existence.
Once I pick you apart in that ring like a kid with a scab on his knee, not only will you not be the LSD Champion motherfucker, but I seriously question whether you will mentally persevere all the way to War Games. The road to which is a winding and treacherous one, Harrison. Something you and I both know very well.
But don’t worry. Please.
Even if you don’t win the LSD Championship?
Even if you don’t make it to War Games?
I still see a bright future for you.
Just… not in #97Red.
But I’m sure, by definition, you’ll do just fine.
Now be a good boy and get the fuck out of my way, hound dog.