Christopher America looked out the limousine window as buildings, cars, and people moved by at such a speed that each was distinguishable from the next. Not that the HOW World Champion was looking for anything in particular.
Bill Right, of Right’s Talent Agency, sat opposite his client. Uncharacteristically, the iPad with which Bill usually had his head buried was resting on the seat next to him. Bill sat with his back against the seat and his right leg crossed over his left. His left arm laid across his chest with his right hand propping his head up. Bill stared at his client, scanning him. The patriotic wrestler looked as if he was burdened by so much.
After a few moments, America blinked and looked at the empty seat next to him. It was a reminder of what wasn’t there. His father. Absent friends. The Board.
Christopher America: Do you…
America caught himself, wiped his mouth with his hand, and then began again.
Christopher America: Do you believe in me?
The World Champion turned and looked at Bill. The look in his eyes was that of a troubled man, searching for reassurance; of a child looking to a parent, searching for comfort; of a wrestler, looking for approval. Bill looked back at him quizzically, head cocked to one side. Bill’s eyes darted back and forth across America’s face, looking for clues as to where this was coming from.
Bill spoke the word quietly, still searching for clues on America’s face. Finding none, Bill repeated himself, more confidently.
Bill: Yes! Unequivocally, yes!
America nodded silently.
Christopher America: Good.
Bill furrowed his brow.
America looked away and sighed. He scratched the back of his head and looked back at Bill.
Christopher America: I’m just thinking about this Stanislav match.
Bill: You aren’t seriously doubting yourself, are you? You know you’ve beaten foreign wrestlers before, right?
America pursed his lips and shook his head again.
Christopher America: I don’t know. This… this hits different. This entire event reminds me of when HOW tried to do a joint event before and I… I don’t want a repeat of that.
Bill: You… never told me about this. What happened?
America took a deep breath as he began.
Christopher America: About ten years ago, Lee Best signed an agreement to make HOW part of an alliance of wrestling companies. Each of the companies functioned as they normally do. Each with a champion. But overall, this alliance of companies had a champion as well. He was like a… a champion of champions. And so, I show up for work and Lee announces this to the entire locker room. And I…
Bill’s face sunk with disappointment, anticipating where this was going. America nodded as he continued.
Christopher America: Yep. When I find out there’s an overall champion, I do what I normally do. I introduce myself by running my mouth off. I talk up HOW. I talk down the other companies. I let loose a string of insults designed to do one thing and one thing only: garner attention. And like clockwork, out of the woodwork comes wrestlers from all different companies, trashing me, trashing HOW, and essentially questioning my skills and the intent of HOW joining the alliance.
And it was cute watching them squirm and beat their chests, but they weren’t the prize. They weren’t what my eyes were set upon. So, I continued to play my game. In fact, I got to do the thing I love most, which is argue in circles.
America spoke slowly as he seemed to relish the memory.
Christopher America: Argue for the sake of arguing because I wanted a stalemate. And if I got my stalemate, I knew someone had to come in and break the tie.
And the one who I wanted to break the tie was the alliance’s champion.
And he didn’t disappoint. He came right on cue.
America chuckled to himself.
Christopher America: You know, it’s funny, but I can’t even remember his name. Eugene Fitzroy… or Fitzgerald… I think? I’m not even sure anymore.
Whatever his name was, he came from atop his throne, and he got right in my face. He tried desperately to give as well as he got. His only problem was that I had been a student of the trash talk game for some time.
The World Champion spoke the words with pride.
Christopher America: And after playing with him, I finally pulled the trigger. I goaded him into putting the alliance’s championship on the line against me.
And I knew… I KNEW… Lee Best would be fine with it. He would salivate at the chance to bring that championship into the HOW fold. He just had to work out the details with the alliance. And knowing Lee, he’d find a way to make it happen. Whatever he gave up, he’d make up ten-fold from ticket sales, advertising revenue, whatever.
And I… I had the opportunity to become the first person in the modern era to bring in another World Championship into HOW.
America paused. The smile on America’s face, the pride in his voice, the light in his eyes – they all faded. He moved his tongue along the underside of his teeth as he saw the images of that match flash before his eyes.
Christopher America: I was…
America shook his head in regret.
Christopher America: I was young. I was dumb. And I was hungry. Just not hungry enough. The weight of the moment crushed me. In the end, he beat me. And I look back on that match as one of the great failures of my career. Flopping like that in front of so many people, in front of so many other wrestlers.
America leaned forward in his seat with his elbows on his knees.
Christopher America: Because I made it all about me.
He was itching to put down a punk kid in what he thought was an upstart company.
And like a punk kid, I wanted that championship so that I can bring it back to Daddy Best and hope that he would fawn over me. I wanted the title, the glory, and the adulation.
And my opponent, he made it about everything else. He defended that championship against me, against HOW, against Chicago, against what he saw as an invading force into the alliance. He fought like his life depended on it. He fought as if his career was on the line. Like there was no tomorrow.
He accepted that weight. Happily!
America spoke the words almost in disbelief.
Christopher America: But probably the thing that sticks with me the most is what happened after.
Do you know what Lee did to me after I lost that match? Do you know what the locker room said to me after I lost that match?
Hanging on America’s every word, Bill leaned forward and shook his head.
Christopher America: Nothing.
America looked mournful as he spoke the words barely at whisper level. Bill looked dumbfounded as America nodded.
Christopher America: I know. Not a punishment. Not a snide remark. Not a… not a fine, not a dressing down.
As if they didn’t believe I could do it. Or maybe they… they hoped, but then they saw the match and knew it wasn’t going to work out. Maybe they saw something in him and not me. I – I don’t know.
And now, I’m put right back into the same situation.
Only now, it’s the PWA instead of the NWA. It’s Ivan Stansilav instead of that alliance’s champion. But now I’m the champion, not the challenger. And I know what you’re going to say, the championship isn’t on the line.
I know that.
But, somehow, that makes things worse. It makes the stakes greater. It makes this match harder. I feel that weight of the moment again.
America took a deep breath as he rubbed his knuckles.
Christopher America: You know, I watched as Cancer Jiles was brought back into HOW. And although he didn’t talk it up, we all knew he was the World Champion in PRIME. We all watched as his matches in HOW got shorter and shorter. The effort he put into his matches was less and less. Until finally, the PRIME World Champion was being beaten in a matter of minutes.
I can’t let that happen.
Not to me.
Not to HOW.
Not to her.
America pointed at the HOW World Championship sitting on the seat to his right.
Christopher America: I’m not going to be a repeat of Cancer Jiles. And I’m sure as hell not going to be a repeat of that punk kid from before.
I can’t let Stanislav beat me because this… THIS MATCH… I might as well be defending the championship because I’m defending the literal GOOD name of HOW from some stupid Soviet FUCK who works for a rival company!
If he beats me… he BEATS the HOW World Champion.
He beats AMERICA!
America was almost yelling at this point. He could feel the adrenaline pulse through him as his heart rate ticked upwards.
Christopher America: And I’ve seen what PRIME can do and it scares the shit out of me.
The Egg Bandits assisted in the killing of Chris Kostoff. Not beat him. Not retired him. They helped end his LIFE! And then The Anglo Luchador… he comes in and he beats Jace Parker Davidson. He does something that few in HOW were able to accomplish one on one last year. And I saw it!
Thank God it wasn’t for one of our championships!
And then Adam Ellis, who signed with PRIME, works with one of our own and now… PRIME and MVW might as well have a fucking inside man in Joe Bergman!
They’re like some demonic creature. They’ve implanted themselves in HOW and, slowly, their tentacled reach extends farther and farther.
Bill nodded quietly as it all began to click.
Bill: You are on the hook, aren’t you?
Christopher America: More than you know. And that’s why I’m questioning whether I believe in me… whether I’m ready to rise to the moment this time.
I know what everyone’s thinking. This is… another instance where Christopher America, the patriotic wrestler, faces off against the evil, vile Russian or North Korean or Chinese wrestler. They giggle and laugh because they know I’m going to have to touch his dirty body or hear his filthy language or listen to his awful ideals. But they’re wrong.
This isn’t a match.
It’s not an exhibition.
This is more than a test, more than a warning shot.
This match is the opening salvo.
If the HOW World Champion can’t beat a man who’s been in PRIME for a short time, then PRIME really has earned their status as better than HOW because HOW’s top two champions will have fallen to members of their roster.
And you know what will happen if I lose this time?
There won’t be silence. Not like last time.
If I get beaten, I lose my status as the unpinned and unsubmitted World Champion. I carry that loss with me as Chaos begins again. And while others wrestle to earn a shot at the HOW World Championship, I have to wrestle with MYSELF to figure out where the hell I went wrong! Instead of training for Byrd, Harrison, Bergman, Starr, or Fuse, I’ll be left wondering why I was able to run through the Highwaymen, through Hall of Famers, through legends but when put before Ivan Stanislav, I fell.
America leaned back in his seat and shook his head.
Christopher America: I feel in over my head.
Bill: We both knew this was going to happen. With everything you’ve done to beat the Highwaymen, you made it known that you wanted to make the HOW World Championship become THE championship in all of pro wrestling. You’ve said it yourself.
This match is your opportunity to do that.
To establish the dominance of the HOW World Champion.
This is a reward from Lee.
I know it feels like the weight of two worlds rests on your shoulders with this match, but it doesn’t have to feel that heavy.
The World Champion put his elbows on his knees, hung his head, and sat there in silence.
“The weight of two worlds.”
The words echoed in America’s ears as he knew Bill was right. The weight of one world, embedded in #97Red colored leather, sat majestically on a seat to his right, signifying his status as World Champion. The weight of the other world, who’s weight rested on his shoulders, could be felt even now. Since he won War Games, he assumed that weight. Each match, whether for the World Championship or not, whether HOW’s pride was on the line or not, added further weight to the load he carried.
Bill: You see these worlds as separate entities but they are one and the same. That weight you feel? It doesn’t grow when that belt is put on your shoulder. That weight is always there because you’re the holder of that belt.
That belt doesn’t weigh 9.7 pounds. It weighs so much more. Whether that belt is literally on your shoulder or not, you ALWAYS carry that weight – the weight of the champion.
And you probably feel that more than ever now because you’re in uncharted waters. You’ve never held the championship this long because you’ve never been as good as you are now.
The caliber of opponents HAS TO grow more difficult. You’ve said the only way to build your legacy is by building her legacy.
Bill pointed to the championship as America glanced in her direction.
Bill: If that legacy has to grow, then so does the challenge each opponent provides. You MUST rise to meet these moments.
And whatever you feel now, whatever worry or doubt or fear you feel, it’s going to get worse.
As your reign grows, do you think any of this gets easier? What happens if you beat Farthington’s reign? Or Mike’s?
That weight grows.
The moment you slip up and forget how good you are is when they will all pounce. All your work to make that championship THE only one worth having will go out the window.
Everything from scheduling your workouts, keeping focus, re-working and adapting your moves for each opponent. All of it will have been for nothing!
There was a desperation in Bill’s voice. He knew how America would take this advice. But secretly Bill needed to hear it too. He also put too much time and effort into this to see it evaporate now. He had been through too much. America had been through too much.
The words hit America in the right way. The World Champion lifted his head, put his hands together and held them in front of his face.
Bill: You know why Lee is good at what he does? He doesn’t second guess himself. He does something because it’s right in that moment in time. He lets others do the second guessing.
You. Wanted. This.
And I signed on with you because I wanted this too.
Right now, Lee’s giving it to you – this match, this opponent – because it’s right. It’s the right time, the right opponent, with the right World Champion. He’s not second guessing himself and neither should you.
This is everything we — what you’ve worked for. That insurmountable mountain? It only gets harder the higher you climb. And the weight will start to try to wear you down further. You’ll feel it in your shoulders, your chest, and your legs. You’ll feel your muscles scream in pain, your joints buckle, and your breath escape you.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. I’m telling you this to prepare you.
This is where we dig deeper. We put one foot in front of the other. And we march onwards and upwards.
Always aim for what’s beyond, but keep yourself focused on what’s directly ahead. And that’s Stanislav.
Bill leaned forward and put his hand on America’s knee.
Bill: And we… we can carry this weight together and make it through.
Do you know what it feels like to have an immense weight pushing you down? It’s soul-crushing, breath-stealing, and demoralizing. You feel at times like a frightened child. And no matter how hard you try, that weight leaves you prone and helpless, struggling to break free from it.
That’s why this – the HOW World Championship – it’s not for the weak. For over 200 days, I have reigned as the HOW World Champion, bearing a weight and responsibility that few will ever conceive of and even fewer will ever realize.
The weight I bear with this championship isn’t measured in pounds. It’s measured in Lee Best’s expectations, fans’ desires, a country’s hopes, and a company’s pride.
The only weight you’ve ever known is the weight of a soldier’s boot to your face as you give it a good licking.
You know what? That’s not fair. You see, I know nothing about you except that you’re Russian.
So let me take a real stab at your background.
It’s tragic. It involves you living in squalor, or on the edge of starvation, or both. Either you or a member of your family has been involved in sex work of some kind. And the only reason you’re in PRIME is so that you can hopefully afford your first track suit.
Does that about sum you up?
Let me try again.
You’re a lumbering giant. Tall, muscular, looking all buff and jacked with a beard that you hope to shave and donate to Putin so he can finally get the toupee he wanted. No girlfriend or wife to speak of, probably because you’re so muscular that you ripped your dick off during masturbation and they want nothing to do with a eunuch.
Now try analyzing me. Because whatever you say I am, I am that. I AM America’s best and brightest, it’s lowest and dirtiest. I am all of it rolled into one. I am her hopes and dreams, the promise of a better tomorrow. I am the ruthless underbelly that does whatever it takes to get ahead. I am her desire, her success, and her champion. But I am also her jealousy, her hatred, and her revenge.
Speaking of revenge… you see, Stanislav, I am 100% committed to being in this match and beating the ever-loving shit out of you because I owe it to myself to rectify a mistake over ten years ago. Are you that committed? Not because someone told you to but because you want to be?
Because if you go through with this match, you’re going to feel the full weight of America come crashing down on you.
For me, this match IS going to be World War 3.
Because I have to assume you’re a big fucking deal if PRIME threw you to this American wolf. But just because you’re a big deal doesn’t mean that you and I are on the same level. As great as you probably are compared to the rest of PRIME’s roster, I’m that much greater than you. In this match, you’re stepping into the ring with the only true superpower in professional wrestling. A champion with speed, athleticism, and power so explosive, that by the end of it, you’ll think you’ve been hit by a nuclear bomb. A man with so many moves and weapons at his disposal, you’d be forgiven for thinking I was in an arms race.
At over 60 years old, you’re on borrowed time. When you step into the ring with me, I’m going to make your body and wrestling style look and feel as old and outdated as the guns, tanks, and supplies your country is fighting and LOSING to Ukraine with. And unfortunately for you, no other country can supply you with enough firepower to counter me, to out gun me, or to flat out BEAT ME!
Over my time in HOW, I’ve gone to war multiple times and won. I’ve beaten everyone from my most hated enemies, to former US military men, to would be psychotic dictators. I’ve done it in foreign countries that PRIME wishes they had the money to get to. I’ve learned how to channel negative emotions and turn them into positives. I’ve harnessed anger, exploited my own desperation, and weaponized an unending desire to be great.
You know nothing of what I’ve been through. The pain, the sacrifice, the humiliation, the journey that I’ve had to go through to get to where I am today.
But don’t worry. I’ll show you. I’ll show you what that’s done to someone like me. How it’s transformed me. How I’ve had to push through thresholds of pain that you’ll never know.
And I know what you’ll say. You’ll talk yourself up, tell yourself you can do it. You’ll indulge in fantasy. You’ll even try to fit me into a box so that you can desperately try to grasp who and what I am. But the problem is you’ve been dickriding Putin so long, you can’t separate reality from fiction anymore. But don’t worry. I’ll bring the cold, harsh reality of America’s truth, power, and freedom to you. In fact, by the end of the match, after seeing what America does to you, you’ll get tired of dickriding him.
You’ll be begging Vladimir Putin to become Vladimir Pullout.
Bring whatever and whoever you want to this match, if you think it will help. Bring Mother Russia, bring Papa Putin. Bring the women, children, and diseased men of your country who haven’t already been conscripted yet. And watch as they all fall before the awe-inspiring presence of ME!
And when the match is over, after I’ve beaten you with the power of one million bald eagles and four hundred million free citizens flowing through my veins, they’re going to cart you off to the nearest American hospital.
And as you lay there, unable to move, with only the sounds of the electrocardiogram monitor to comfort you, you’ll have the briefest of moments to contemplate your failures before Putin sends one of his lackeys to stage an accident where you fall out the nearest window. And PRIME, they’ll simply shrug their shoulders as another career comes to an end. Crushed by the weight of America’s might.
No video package.
No in memoriam segment.
No ten bell salute.
They’ll ask to have your body, your belongings, your merch – all of it – thrown into the dumpster out back and lit on fire.
A fitting tribute to you and your country.