“You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself to make yourself forget.”
You think you’ve got this all figured out, don’t you?
No, you got lazy.
Ah, I know. Don’t let anyone else know that it’s what you’re thinking. But you are thinking it, aren’t you?
Someone told you how you’ve changed, how you’ve grown, how it’s all been for the better, and you believed them.
You stopped listening to yourself, stopped listening to the voice that got you there in the first place. Who is anyone else to get in your ear and suggest another way? Who can stand on level ground with you and understand… any of it?
Twenty years ago — imagine. Imagine the suggestion that you might put your own desires and goals to the side, and for what? To line someone else’s pockets. To pull strings and drag someone else up to your level. Why?
All we have is who we are, ultimately. Your nature will always be the truth of you and yet you spend so much time trying to change it. You find some reason to make good, to make nice.
You tell people you care about things like honor and morality, when the truth is that you feel none of it, you place no value on these things because all that matters is what you can or can’t do. You can win or you can’t. You can bash someone’s brains in… or you can’t.
You will or you won’t.
There are bigger things at work here. It won’t do anymore to simply exist, to simply be here and cruise along for the ride, shrugging your shoulders and throwing punches for no reason. The true joy is and has always been in forcing your will upon people, in taking what you want instead of waiting for it to be handed to you.
No more putting up with some whiny ass kid getting a big fucking head, then fucking off to mommy and daddy.
No more getting screwed by an inferior tag team partner taking a fall to lose a championship.
Not this time. Not in Rome.
It’s just you, and family.
The new ways weren’t enough.
The old ways worked better.
“She didn’t tell him?”
Alaina Troy-Ryan stood in the kitchen of their suite at the InterContinental in Chicago. Ryan looked at his wife and shook his head, and she threw her hands up.
“Jesus.” Alaina rolled her eyes, leaning slightly on the kitchen island and tilting her head slightly. Most of the time, she could set a clock to her sister’s actions; Lindsay was nothing if not consistent. But sometimes….sometimes the Queen even throws her a curveball. “Why the hell wouldn’t she tell him?”
The “him” in question? Tyler Rayne.
Dan didn’t respond verbally. He just made a ‘blabbermouth’ motion with one of his hands.
“Okay,” she replied, conceding the point. “But this was a pretty big deal.”
Ryan’s eyebrows rose and he nodded sarcastically, “Right, and that’s probably why she didn’t tell him.”
Alaina sighed and walked around toward the desk nook near the breakfast area of the kitchen. “Well, she could’ve told me she hadn’t let him in on it yet. I feel terrible.”
Ryan smiled. “So you blabbed about something to someone who wasn’t told something because they always blab about things. You know how much I adore irony.”
She looked up from the pile of mail she’d been idly shuffling through.
Dan shrugged as if to say, ‘okay,’ and walked over to the refrigerator, opening it up and taking a bottled water from inside. He opened it, took a sip, then turned back toward his wife.
“Did you tell him that Cece knew as well? Because I can see how that might’ve been a kick in the gut.”
She frowns. “I didn’t realize you’d told her.”
“Yep,” Ryan said, raising the bottle to his mouth for another sip. “I don’t keep anything from her anymore where this business is concerned.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Alaina’s look of motherly concern deepened, and she prodded, “Should you really be letting her see this side of you?”
“This side of me?” Ryan raised an eyebrow, let a mild chuckle out. “On the contrary, there’s a side of her that’s just starting to become clear. She may look like her mother, but she thinks like her father.”
Alaina looked down slightly, then back up. “I’ve noticed.”
“She needs to know the truth,” he said. “She needs to understand it. She needs to know it. If she’s planning on getting involved in this, if she really plans to follow in my footsteps, she needs to get a full taste of what this is all about. She needs to be prepared for every aspect, good and bad.”
“And this is….” She trusted him, but led the question.
Ryan smiled. “It’s all good.”
Alaina sighed, not at all comfortable with this.
High above the newly constructed Colosseum floor, a light breeze blew across the ancient structure. On a viewing platform, some hundred or so feet up, Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy stood at a railing, looking down at the ring.
The new construction blended in well with the old stone, the jagged remains of the original seating stretched out to either side around the circular structure.
Dan Ryan: This looks like it was a logistical nightmare.
Lindsay Troy: Had to have been thousands of planks they laid down over the original flooring. Maybe even multiple layers.
She narrowed her eyes, thinking it all through. The wind lifted her newly dyed dark brown and red curls forward.
Lindsay Troy: When Mike went through the boards a decade ago, he’s lucky he didn’t get impaled.
Ryan nodded, scanning the arena behind the wrestler entrance, where just about twenty to thirty feet further along the circle, a covered box was offset, where assumedly Lee Best will watch the night’s festivities.
Dan Ryan: Lots of creative opportunities to do some damage around here.
Lindsay Troy: And we are nothing if not creative.
She turned to look at her brother-in-law and leaned against the metal barrier.
Lindsay Troy: You and I have a real opportunity to make these belts our own now. It might be Freebird rules but we can carve our own niche with them. Just like the old days. We started something with ‘em back at Rumble at the Rock and my plans…well….
The Queen inhaled deeply, annoyed. Held it for a moment. Exhaled.
Lindsay Troy: I was wrong to put the Group of Death deception ahead of keeping hold of the titles. Playing up the elbow and relying on Jack was a mistake. I’m sorry.
Ryan placed two hands on the railing, just to the side of her, and looked down, cracking a smile.
Dan Ryan: Did I tell you what Cecilia said when I told her about all of this?
Troy didn’t respond, but shook her head ‘no’ just slightly.
Dan Ryan: She said, and I quote, ‘I fucking love that.’
A quick flash of surprise crossed Lindsay Troy’s face, then she smirked, despite herself.
Dan Ryan: You don’t owe me an apology. To be honest, I was dreading the idea of letting you know I needed to get out of that group. I couldn’t take another second of it. I hoped you’d walk out with me, but I wasn’t sure. I’ve never been so relieved in my entire life as I was when you let me in on this. I haven’t felt this good in ages.
Lindsay Troy: It’s a return to the dark side for the both of us.
Dan Ryan: Maybe for you. I never really left. But at least now I don’t have to pretend anymore.
She smiled back, nodding.
Lindsay Troy: Alright then. You wanna talk some of this out?
Ryan keeps his eyes on the ring down on the floor, but gives a little thumbs up.
Lindsay Troy: Okay. Scottywood and Damien Ryan. One we know, the other we don’t. End of the day, it doesn’t matter; we still have to take them seriously as a threat.
Dan Ryan: Alright. Set the scene. Have we been drinking?
Lindsay Troy: No.
Dan Ryan: They probably won’t win, then.
She half-smirks, half frowns.
Lindsay Troy: Maybe take them a little more seriously than that.
Dan Ryan: I am. I am. Trust me, the last thing I need is to be taken out by that barbed wire hockey stick of Scotty’s. He’s got nothing to lose, for sure. And you make sure you’ve got an eye on Damien Ryan. He’s a bit of a wild card here.
Lindsay Troy: The unknowns always are. I’ll see what I can dig up on him by Saturday night.
Dan Ryan: The others we know very well.
Lindsay Troy: Unfortunately.
Lindsay Troy: I already know Jiles is gonna want some payback for that pin he ate from me last year. He and Doozer are refocused, and that makes them dangerous.
Dan Ryan: Refocused huh? What a coincidence. So am I.
Lindsay Troy: You’re always dangerous. The two of them being dangerous and refocused is…I want to say unprecedented, for them. And they’ve already won a big ass tag clusterfuck once in this era. So here’s what we’re lookin’ at.
She starts ticking ‘em off on her fingers.
Lindsay Troy: We’ve got an unknown in Damien Ryan, a violent veteran in Scottywood, two rejuvenated eGG Bandits, and four hungry assholes in 24K.
Dan Ryan: Needless to say, we owe the 24K boys one. They think we haven’t responded in kind yet because we fear them. This feels like the perfect spot for some… payback.
Lindsay Troy: Ignorance is the parent of fear. And if there’s one thing the 24K crew is, it’s ignorant.
Ryan nods, watching as two workers attach a banner to the wall just in front of the owner’s box down near the floor of the Colosseum.
Lindsay Troy: Keep an eye on Murray. He targeted us for a reason, and I’ve been around him longer than you have. He’s the real deal, and I’ve got a real deal score that needs settlin’, with him and Mikey both.
Ryan looks up, no smirk, no smile.
Dan Ryan: Yeah. I know you do. You and I both do. And don’t worry. I know he’s the real deal. Believe me…. I’m counting on it.
This is gonna hurt me more than it’s gonna hurt you.
I’d like to say I’m gonna keep this brief, but I’m not gonna keep this brief at all. I want you all to know right up front that I respect every single one of you.
I respect you all so much that you are getting my absolute full and undivided attention right now, with no pretense and no ulterior motives. I owe you all nothing less.
Also, there’s so fucking many of you and I really wannna make sure you all get your money’s worth.
There is, of course, the obvious.
Lindsay Troy and I are the HOW World Tag Team Champions.
This is the second independent go-around for us with these belts around our waists, and will be the second time in the last six months that we will have defended these championships on a major HOW event. Between us there are enough singles and tag team championships to fill a lifetime supply of trophy cases, and I’ll have you know that I intend very much for the two of us to leave Rome with these belts the same way we came in with them. We are, simply put, one of the greatest tag team combinations in the history of this sport, whether you like it or not.
So, having said that, let’s pivot for just a moment and talk about all of you.
eGG Bandits, guys, I’m gonna start with you. A question, as we start this….
Instead of talking and talking and talking, wouldn’t it be easier to just put a pillow over my face while I’m asleep?
Jiles, buddy, I know how loathe you are to do even the slightest bit of match research or training, and I know your ‘Dan Ryan insult card’ is the 2008 edition, so I’m gonna cut you some slack. I remember when I first got to DEFIANCE, how you were kind of a big deal. Now you’re like the drunk uncle at the family reunion who once got caught making out with his cousin. Everybody still loves you, but you kinda creep ‘em all out at the same time.
It’s a really good thing that you and Doozenbaum don’t have to rely on the quality of your skits to win matches, because quite honestly, the two of you could put some of those eggs into the back of your pants, sit down on a hot plate and make omelettes, and be more entertaining.
You guys should really team up with Alex Redding. That man loves fairy tales, and I’m almost positive Bobby Dean has sat on a wall and had a great fall before.
But as I alluded to previously, you’ve been on top before, Cancer buddy. I remember. I saw it with my own two eyes or I wouldn’t have believed it. Could you win at March to Glory? Stranger things have happened. I once saw a panda on a unicycle, and I once saw Scott Stevens reading a book. Sometimes the things we least expect have a way of miraculously happening.
So could it happen? OK, sure. But I’d say it’s even money both ways that you either win this match or else blow the whole thing off, then cruise around Rome riding on Bobby Dean’s shoulders throwing eggs at gelato stands while he rides an olde timey bicycle. So either or, really.
It’s like with Scott Woodson and Damien Ryan. There’s so much HATE!1! thrown their way, and people don’t give them the credit they deserve, but I for one am taking them very very seriously. Damien Ryan for example, the man doesn’t talk. He’s silent, mysterious, yet sensitive. In fact, he might be too sensitive for HOW. Like if he showed up at your house for Thanksgiving in a sweater vest and you were all “nice sweater vest” sarcastically, he’d get up, yell ‘HATE!1!’, take his casserole off the table and go home.
And Scotty, what can you say about Scotty that hasn’t already been said? He’s a Hall of Famer. He successfully made the transition from top level talent, to middle level talent, to lower level talent, to front office guy who likes to send out HATE!1! Tweets, and back to lower level talent again.
But believe me, Scott. I’m taking you seriously – serious as a heart attack. I know you’re tough as fucking nails, and I’ll treat you accordingly, believe me. I know you love this. I know you love the violence just like I do. It’s not like you need the money. You’ve invested your money wisely, and I’m quite certain that you sit among the ranks of other well-known red-heads like Lucille Ball and Ronald McDonald in sitting on big fat piles of ANARCHY BUCKS!! (HATE!1!).
OHHHHH WAIT. (HATE!1!)
You lost all your money, didn’t you? Money, arenas….. Damn man. It’s just the beer, huh? OK well, forgive me, Scott. Not trying to hit a nerve.
I see you working. I do. This is all part of your plan to slowly work your way back to the top of the ladder again. And what a pair you two make. You talk way too much, Damien Ryan doesn’t talk at all. You’re like Penn and Teller, but not as good at wrestling. You’re putting everything you’ve got into pulling this off, and I can’t fault you for that. It’s not a lack of effort that’s causing you, like your liver, to fail.
It could be worse, I suppose. You could spend your days dressed like Jersey Shore rejects, chasing skanks and taking side trips to the zoo to see the seals and try to scam old ladies into giving you denture-free blowjobs behind the monkey cage.
Oh hai, Mikey and Jessie, I didn’t see you there, bruvs!
I don’t wanna be too hard on you guys, since the two of you were clearly born with fetal alcohol syndrome. I’ve never met anyone who was conceived during a beer pong marathon before, let alone two people. I have so many questions.
One of those questions is — what is it that makes you two bumblefucks, who made their names by succeeding in my wake, or in Mikey’s case, by being completely outsmarted, outhought and outclassed by me in every way — think that you’re gonna step into the ring with me and Lindsay, no matter how many of your paid-off friends come with you, and take these belts away from the Group of Death? You wanna tell that story, Mikey? You wanna tell the story of how I infiltrated your little Mormon death squad as you tried to take over DEFIANCE, then fucking embarrassed you and sent the lot of you back where you came from? Then you spineless turds go crawling back after Lindsay and I are gone, and I’m supposed to kneel down to this bullshit?
Listening to the two of you trying to act like badasses is like watching a bunch of blind gorillas group fuck — messy as shit, flopping all over the place, two side gorillas off to the side wacking off waiting for their turn — it’s a fucking shit show. You come in here, into the middle of the most competitive roster of professionals in the history of this business, and you’re cracking your stupid jokes, you’re jumping over the rail and taking cheap shots….
But you didn’t choose to take shots at a bunch of noobs just learning how to lace up the boots. You came at the Group of fucking Death. You came at Cecilworth Farthington, World Champion and undefeated for a goddamn year.. You came at Mike Best, Hall of Famer, ICON Champion, more championship reigns around here than you can count. You came at Max Kael, Hall of Famer, LSD Champion, multiple time ICON Champion, multiple time World Champion, multiple time Tag Team Champion…. You came at me and Lindsay Troy and you fucking know good and well who we are.
And you came… with Perfection.
And how about you, James? Huh?
I’ve been wondering, is it normal in your family to talk like a poorly programmed android who’s learning to control his brand new emotion chip? Were you perhaps raised on the set of Westworld? I wonder if you have an off-switch hidden on the back side of you somewhere. I’ve never actually seen both of Mikey’s hands while you were talking, so I just assume that with a flick of his wrist, you’d throw a fuse, or else suddenly start speaking Spanish, like a defective Buzz Lightyear doll.
Sorry to burst your bubble, guys, but you’re not flying. You’re falling. With style.
You’ve got this big pile of money that daddy apparently found in some stripper’s ass crack while on a ski trip to Vale back in the 60s, and you wear your stupid little suits… who gives a fuck, you oiled up, greasy-ass Richie Rich reject character? Will your five-hundred-dollar hair gel keep your hair in place when I slap the holy fuck outta you? Will you smile that shit-eating grin of yours when I kick you in the fucking mouth? Are you gonna stick around after we break your goddamn kneecaps, or are you gonna run off and cry because you just realized that your extension cord doesn’t reach all the way back to Salt Lake City?
It really isn’t fucking fair that you’re making Andy Murray carry you like this. The man’s back hurts bad enough as it is, you insensitive prick.
And Andy, hey man – you’ve had your things to say to me, you call me a coward, and so on… but we both know your heart’s not in it. The cranky wrestling veteran routine is so well-practiced that you wear it effortlessly, as naturally as your accent graces your lips, a second skin just as pale as your first.
I give you my attention out of respect, but I’m gonna need to see your proof of purchase on the idea that I’m a coward and you’re not. After all, you’re the one who buddied up with a bunch of guys and jumped us from behind. Oh yes yes, so very brave. Your credentials in HOW as someone in a position to call someone else a coward are suspect at best, my friend. So don’t do that, Andrew. Do better.
I’ve considered that the reason you’re following this Perfection character around is because you’re playing out your own version of an It’s a Wonderful Life alternate reality. I keep trying to get through to you because all I’ve ever heard is what a legend you are.
But maybe you don’t understand me because you’ve been legally deaf since you jumped in a frozen pond to save Cayle. Thank God you saved him though, otherwise his whole platoon might’ve died.
It’s just so unbelievable that the King of Wrestling is being dragged out of retirement by a guy who sounds like an eight year old making a video promo of his favorite wrestler in his dad’s living room when he talks. I can only assume that James has a steady stream of Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve flowing from his dick with the way you’ve had your puffy alcohol soaked lips firmly clamped around it since you showed up here.
And shit, Murr, I’m old, but I’m not ‘forget that I already used that line about your birthday in a tweet a week ago so I drop it into a promo and think I’m being clever all over again’ old. See a doctor, bud— those chair shots might have done more than just make you dog dick ugly.
I realize that your new BRUVS’ only material is to become wrestling birthers, because you said it first, and you’re the only one among you with any actual credibility, so they happily lick up your pre-cum the moment it oozes from your dick.
But you’re the fucking King of Wrestling and you’re recycling Twitter insults like you’re proud of it. How low will you fucking sink before someone takes you out back and puts two in the back of your head so you can go out with a shred of dignity? Do we even need the bullets? The way you’re held together with fishing twine and bubble gum, all it’s gonna take is the right breeze to tip you over like a cow, which is fitting enough for a guy who is milking every last dollar out of this business before he’s rightly put out to pasture.
Look guys, I get it. Anybody can win any given match on any given night in HOW. But let me drop some stats on you, since Scott Stevens is otherwise engaged right now. 100% of the matches that I have lost in HOW have been to members of the Group of Death. One hundred percent. That’s a one with two zeroes next to it, like Andy Murray at a photo op with the Hollywood Bruvs. What does that mean for you? It means maybe you’ll hit a home run, and become the new one percent. It means that maybe you’ll be able to call yourself a tag team champion on Sunday morning. Because we’re an American company, and if anyone knows anything about America, it’s that anyone can become the one percent, right? Or maybe I’m full of shit. Maybe the game is rigged. Maybe a bunch of guys who can’t be fucking beat teamed up with the only guys who could beat them, and the victory laps you’re planning are more like light jogs through a kill zone.
You talk your shit about how there’s all of you and only two of us. Well, think about how it’s gonna be when the two of us outlast the eight of you. Think about Lindsay Troy and I standing over the pile of the rest of you laying on your backs in the middle of the ring while we hold these championship belts up high.
And all of you, after talking your shit, with nothing left to say.
Think about that.