The Wringer.

The Wringer.

Posted on July 22, 2022 at 11:58 pm by Xander Azula

If there’s one thing we all know about professional wrestling, it’s that the business is exhausting. It can take the absolute best people and wear them down, grind them up…put them through the wringer. All that’s left is a hollow, bitter shell of what was once a bright-eyed rookie.

The toll that wrestling takes looks different on each competitor. Some of us lash out against anyone coming in after us…others take the time to help raise the new generation up.

That’s something I can respect, Josh Conway.

What I’m struggling to comprehend, however, is the approach you seem to have chosen.

You’re at the end of the road in your wrestling career…and you chose to step between those ropes once more. I can admire the tenacity, but…is it truly worth what you have coming to you?

Most folks I know, once they’ve reached that final milestone in their career, they pivot from in-ring competition entirely. Some take up nice, cushy office jobs…some open a wrestling school.

You’ve chosen to make one last run, and why?

Because a doctor took a look at your knee one day and said “right, looks good to me boss, go show ‘em what you’re made of”?

Oh, Josh.

You’re gonna learn yet, friend.

All these years in the business should’ve taught you that once you suffer a prolonged injury of any sort, you’re never quite the same.

A knee injury in particular is a rough one to truly overcome.

Might wanna ask Steve Harrison about that.

Maybe he’ll give you some sort of Miracle product to patch things up.

Or let you borrow a knee brace.

You’ll need all the support you can get facing me, buddy.

See, I’m something of a shark these days.

I smell that blood in the water, and I rush into a feeding frenzy.

Cage or no cage, I know what I need to do.

How to get the job done.

And I wanna see how that knee holds up against a chop block.

How that skull handles a Fist of Eris.

I want to know what you’re truly made of, Josh.

What you can handle when you’re put through the wringer.

Just look at Brian Hollywood, the man you couldn’t quite stack up against in your HOW debut.

I tore through him, and you couldn’t deal with the scraps.

You got your first taste of what it’s like to be in the vast ocean, but you haven’t dealt with a hungry predator just yet.

If you thought stumbling at the Hollywood hurdle was bad, just you wait.

Because unlike Brian, ol’ Xander here did some proper studying.

I watched a slew of old footage of a man who for years, decades even, could hang with the best of them in his prime.

A man who rose to the top and put the word “professional” in “professional wrestling,” in both his in-ring ability and his backstage demeanor.

The man I saw commanded respect from his peers of the day.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s the same man that showed up in the Best Arena two weeks ago. Because that, Josh, is a man not only past his prime but ready to be put out to pasture.

Just look at Scott Stevens.

I beat him up so bad inside that cage that he’s gone full lapdog for Lee Best.

You never go full lapdog.

I take a look back at my path of unsanctioned violence and bask in the destruction I’ve left behind…but then, I realize there is still so much work to be done.

Consider yourself lucky this match is not held inside that cage.

But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security.

The pure rage I’ve unleashed in the cage is being refined for in-ring use.

A method to the madness, if you will.

And I owe that to a wonderful coach in Joe Bergman.

A statement that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as I’m not one to overly praise people in this business.

If I have a nice word to say about them, they deserve it.

And when we step inside that ring at Chaos, you will find out what the true might of Eris looks like, when given just the right finishing touches of a master craftsman.

Everyone at the Mabee Center and watching from home will bear witness to Josh Conway’s trial by fire, leaving his body and spirit broken in the process.

No doubt leaving you to further question where to go from here, just as I’ve had to deal with for over a year before finding my niche.

And hey, if this last run of yours goes sideways, at least you can have a backup plan.

A man of your talent deserves a chance to prolong his well-being, after all.

I’m sure Bergman would happily take on an assistant coach at the Barn, you just say the word.

Bergman’s Barn
Plattin, Missouri

It’s already a rough morning for Xander and his Eternal Circle followers as they arrive at the Barn, as the drive from the airport managed to be prolonged by a surprise traffic jam off the main highway. The early heat only made things worse as the group approach, the Head Disciple eager to get through his session for the day before immediately heading back out to Tulsa for Chaos this week. Xander is still feeling proud of himself after the beating he gave Scott Stevens two weeks prior, and the message he delivered via video inside the Enterprise Center.

Though the challenge has been unanswered by this time, Xander was sure he could grab the attention of someone in particular…or else, he’d take whatever next step was necessary. Speaking of…they take just another step toward the door when it opens, revealing Joe Bergman. Xander picks up immediately on the fact his coach is not dressed for training. In fact, he looks to be…leaving?

“Hey coach, where ya headed? I thought we were training today.”

Bergman lightly shakes his head in response, much to Xander’s confusion.

“Afraid not, I have to head to town to meet up with Ray McAvay at MVW Headquarters. We’ve got to hash out the situation with Darin Zion challenging for the MVW Men’s title.”

Xander can’t help but let out a heavy sigh, partly at the thought of not training and partly at the idea of Zion challenging for an MVW championship. In his eyes, Zion going after the men and women of the Valley seemed like such an odd turn of events after War Games…but perhaps that’s what TRUE LOVE entails.

“So then, who am I training with today?”

Joe just smiles at the question before responding.

“Don’t worry, Xander. You’ll be in good hands this morning…I promise.”

With that, Joe walks to his vehicle, hopping in before starting the engine. As he pulls out to hit the road again, Xander and his crew enter the Barn…where he’s startled by a loud CRAAAAACK of a bullwhip. Xander turns his attention to where the noise came from, and sees Dawn McGill dressed in a curious getup, all black top and bottom with 3-inch spiky black heels, a mischievous smile on her faces as she waves to the Head Disciple of Chaos.

“Hiya, Xander.”

Azula drops his jaw at the sight of McGill, tapping the whip in the palm of her hand like some sort of sado-masochist wrestling dominatrix of a trainer

“The last time I wore this outfit was to train Rah before his big match with Michael Lee Best for the HOW World title last year.”

With that statement, she sends the whip flying again with another loud CRAAAACK as Xander jumps once more at the sound. Dawn just chuckles at this before speaking once more.

“Hopefully you’ll fare better this Sunday than Rah did that night.”

Xander gulps for air, looking a little anxious about the training session about to ensue. Moments later, we find the crew off to the side of the barn somewhat, as Dawn stands in front of a movie poster adorning the barn wall. Dawn catches Xander’s attention by clearing her throat before she speaks.

“Your assignment today, Mr. Azula…”

Dawn points to the poster, which we now recognize as that of the Chuck Norris film An Eye for An Eye, featuring Norris with one of his patented spin kicks in front of a superimposed image of the Golden State Bridge.

“An Eye for An Eye is a 1981 Chuck Norris movie about a San Francisco Police undercover narcotics cop aiming to avenge his partner’s death and destroy a drug-smuggling ring operated by the Chinese Triads.”

Xander’s eyes dart back and forth, as he tries to process what this has to do with professional wrestling. Noticing the Head Disciple’s look of concern, Dawn quickly continues to speak.

“In the HOFC element, you thrive because it’s burst of violence followed by a break and then another burst of violence…another break…and so on.  In a wrestling match, there’s no break. There’s no time to catch your breath. And that’s where you get tripped up.”

Dawn seems to accentuate her point by tapping the whip in her palm before continuing.

“We need to get you more acclimated to wrestling a longer match… like a sprinter who becomes a long distance runner. Like someone used to writing a blurb, trying to write an essay.”

Xander seems almost taken aback by this, as if offended that Dawn would suggest he can only handle short bursts of energy…but Dawn presses on.

“I was going to have you reenact the fight sequence at the end of the movie. But logistically, I would have needed to borrow Joe’s house, hire a bunch of extras, and scope out locales for some of the scenes. So instead, I just brought in the Beer Bellied Softball Playin’ Ninja to beat the hell out of you today.”

With that, the barn door opens as April O’Neale enters, looking lovely as ever in her bright yellow outfit as she motions for Hank, Stan, and Tiny step in behind. Xander stares down the three tall, beefy men dressed in “Beer Bellied Softball Playin’ Ninja” shirts…and mutters to himself.

“You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kidding.”

Dawn and April just smile as the trio of Ninjas charge at the Head Disciple…as we cut to black.