Long Beach Airport
Long Beach, CA
Two days after dropping Brian Hollywood down a peg at Chaos 33, Xander Azula finds himself returning home, a certain weight finally off his shoulders from the wear and tear of several weeks prior. His path to War Games saw him reach his highest of highs when he competed for the HOW World Championship…and his lowest of lows when his win over Christopher America was reversed, leading to the mess he finds himself in now.
“Because of course,” Xander mutters to himself as the Head Disciple and his followers leave the terminal, making their way toward a taxicab waiting nearby. Xander shakes his head with a sigh, realizing that the jig may well be up on his “REAL World’s Champion” schtick. Nothing worse than someone bragging about accomplishments they can’t back up, right?
Xander chuckles at that last thought, but the laughs come to a stop when a text message pops up on the Fighter’s phone screen. Azula looks down to get a glimpse, hoping it’s not bad news…and smirks when he realizes his wish has been fulfilled, reading the message aloud to himself.
“Talked it over with some folks, we’re doing the thing. Find those students you wanted, we’ll get the ring set up this week.”
August 15, 2019.
It’s a date that I won’t forget anytime soon, but for the uninitiated, let me explain why it holds such significance.
Such was the night of the first–and only–show I ran as a promoter, with nothing more than a thought of trying to put something different out into the business. I was a student of the game for so long, and I wanted to become a teacher…hence the formation of Academia Fuerza.
The event we held that night was a showcase of the students that learned by my hand, alongside some big guests at the time…but it would also prove to be the last show I would run, at least for a while. Far too many issues between people led to the whole thing being shut down.
What lesson did I learn from it? How to handle my doubt, and believe me I had my fair share of it going into that show. My doubt got the better of me that night, losing everything I had tried to build in an instant because people didn’t have faith in a man who didn’t have faith in himself.
It’s a lesson I have had to learn over and over again ever since…even coming into HOW, that lesson sticks to my craw. It eats away at my soul, trying to peel back every ounce of energy and joy until I’m nothing more than a shell of who I once was.
But every damn day, I fight that urge to give up. I look back on every battle I’ve had up to this point, and it gives me the strength to carry on…the strength to endure.
It’s the sort of strength that gives me confidence to get back in the ring with a Hall of Famer like Bobbinette Carey, a woman I had the honor of facing–and defeating–a year ago, inside that very ring. Times have changed for both of us since that meeting, but you know what hasn’t?
My drive to succeed.
Bobbinette Carey had something just a couple months ago that I didn’t, a chance to compete inside War Games…and what did she do with that opportunity? She squandered it, letting a ghost of her past haunt her to the point of failure.
That’s something I’m counting on when we head to Indianapolis, Carey. I’m looking to be another ghost of your past haunting you, and just like I dropped you with the Fist of Eris at the Yuengling Center in Tampa last year, I will knock you right off that little pedestal you’ve set up for yourself inside the Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
I’ve been away a little too long, and folks have forgotten just how dangerous I can be…so it’s up to you to be the example I set for the rest of them. Consider yourself my star pupil for the night, Nettie…and the lesson is pain.
And then, we’ll see if you have the strength to endure.
Hawaiian Gardens, CA
“Thank you all for coming out tonight folks, and we will see you next month for Ain’t Got No Crystal Ball!”
The small but electric crowd inside the sports complex cheers for the final words from Xander Azula, closing out the first Fuerza Pro show in four years. As the fans begin to take their leave, the Head Instructor steps out of the ring to hand the microphone back to one of his ring crew, a student who recently joined the fray of Academia Fuerza.
Azula makes his way through the curtain, watching with a slight smile on his face as students and guests alike are packing up after what felt like quite the successful first romp back. The cleverly-titled show coming up would serve as the finals of a tournament for the group to crown their first singles champion, but Xander’s attention is soon drawn to his phone lighting up with yet another text message. This one does NOT bode well for the Fighter, as he quickly recognizes it for what it is…a call to action.
Specifically, a call to return to HOW and compete for the first time in two months. Xander cannot help but let out a small sigh as he picks up his phone, reading the message in full with a nod of acknowledgement before placing the device in his pocket. He knew he was in for a rough ride soon enough, but first…he needed to handle Fuerza business.
And handle it he does, shaking hands with everyone that came in to compete that night and meeting up with fans that have been hanging around since the show came to a close just outside the exits. This was, as Xander had told himself in the weeks leading up to this very moment, the sort of life he could settle into…even if that nudge to compete kept pulling at him every so often. Such is a fate Xander resigns himself to, silently nodding to himself just after wrapping up the meet and greet before heading to the parking lot, eager to get in his car and get the hell home as we fade to black.