Three Stages of a Tainted Legacy

Three Stages of a Tainted Legacy

Posted on March 27, 2024 at 10:15 am by Silent Witness

March 26, 2024. 2.45pm

Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Chicago, IL.

“Please welcome to the stage a very special guest… He is a member of the High Octane Wrestling Hall of Fame. He is a former HOW World Champion. He is a five-time LSD Champion and he is THE… Greatest LSD Champion of Aaaaallllllll Tiiiiimmeeeeee™… Ladies and Gentlemen, please make some noise for one of your own: SILEEEEEENNNTTTT WITNEEEEEEESSSSSS!!!”

The South Building of McCormick Place erupted into cheer as their adopted son, Silent Witness, walked out to greet the C2E2 crowd. Having spent a few years roughing it on the windswept streets of Chicago, learning more about life than he ever could in a thousand lifetimes in sun-soaked California, it had been an easy choice to represent Chicago instead of Los Angeles when he returned to HOW. Luckily for him, the fans – and the city, generally – had embraced it and welcomed him as one of their own. Now, the LSD Legend had his first opportunity to give back to the city since he returned to wrestling. The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo – or C2E2 – was an annual… well… geekfest. Christopher Lloyd was there. Amy Jo Johnston – the Pink Ranger – was there. Christina Ricci, Chad Michael Murray, and Mads Mikkelsen were there. They had gaming, comics, cosplay, anime – you name it, they had it. Including, of course, wrestling.

When the organizers learned that Silent Witness was back in HOW – and now a full-fledged Chicagoan – they immediately reached out to see if he would be interested in attending. The HOW star jumped at the chance – or at least his agent, Mickey Gibson, jumped at the chance to book him to appear. It would be “good PR” for him, according to the Brit, and if Silent Witness was really being honest with himself… he had been looking forward to it, too – Christopher Lloyd, damn it!

Of course, when he was booked as a surprise guest way back in January, nobody knew how his return would go. All anybody knew back then was that Silent Witness would cross off a bucket-list match against Scottywood, fight a deranged version of an old friend against Evan Ward, and that the last person in the #DILLIGAF LBI Group was someone giving the platform formerly known as Twitter some free advertising. Well… everybody except Silent Witness. Looking back at that time, even just a couple of months ago, he knew he was going to succeed this time. He could feel it. 

He always knew he had the talent to compete at the highest level in HOW. He had proven it, and despite the disappointments of the past decade, anybody that had been around to see him at his best knew it, too. Despite the lowered expectations that everyone had about him – the “meh, he’ll be gone again soon” attitude that he had ‘earned’, for lack of a better word – there was a reason that Mike Best, John Sektor, Bobbinette Carey, et al. still peaked their interest when the return of Silent Witness was announced. It was the same reason that hits on spiked in the hours that followed. Everybody had the same thought: Maybe this time he’ll show it… Maybe this time we will get the Silent Witness of old.

As he took a seat alongside the host, acknowledging the crowd with a wave, Silent Witness knew he was on his way to proving that yes, this time it was different. There was still a long, long way to go to prove this was a sustainable, successful return and not a flash in the pan, but… what better way to start proving it than by winning the big one, against the very best in HOW, at the first major event of the year?

“Silent Witness, ladies and gentlemen, what a special guest!” began the host, raising another cheer from the crowd. Silent Witness hadn’t caught his name, so… let’s call him Bob. “Thank you so much for joining us” continued Bob, turning towards the LSD Legend. “We’re just going to dive right in with some questions from the audience…” he trailed off, turning quizzically towards the crowd, as someone was handed a microphone. “Ah, yes, you sir. Please go ahead” he instructed.

The man, in his mid-40s, overweight, wearing jeans and a black t-shirt, stood up. Now, Silent Witness was not one to cast judgment, nor subscribe to stereotypes… But the Venn diagram for D&D players and wrestling fans was probably as round as this guy, and he looked like he was having a wet fucking dream. Still, the LSD Legend smiled – it felt good to bring a little bit of happiness to someone’s life. “First off, I’m a big fan,” he began. “I’ve been a HOW fan since the beginning, I’ve followed your career and I just wanted to say welcome back…” he continued, nervously, as Silent Witness smiled and nodded his appreciation. “HOW has had three distinct eras: The Golden Era, the Modern Era and now what is being called the Final Era. With so much of your own career tied to HOW, which of the three do you feel has been better, both for you personally and for the company as a whole?”

Silent Witness puffed his cheeks and let out a long exhale. “What a question to start off with…” he responded, smiling. “Before I talk too much about myself, I’ll address the second half of that question first” he continued. “People ask about which era was better, who would have won in this time or that… Honestly, all three stand up on their own merit. You know, wrestling was going through a major boom period when HOW first opened its doors and it was a really exciting time for everybody. Every day, every show was exciting, the crowds were wild… Then the ‘modern’ era gave us some of the best matches in HOW history, introduced us to people that will go down in HOW history as all-time greats…” he paused, taking a moment to let his words resonate with the audience. 

“Now, we have probably the most creative minds we’ve ever seen in HOW. The talent level at the moment, and over the past couple of years… It’s been really great to watch” he continued. “So when people talk about which time was better, my answer is really simple: Just enjoy it” he added in earnest. “HOW has been the number one wrestling promotion in the world for over twenty years, the greatest talent in the world has passed through those doors and every wrestling fan has loved watching it all unfold. Right now, we’ve got Mike Best, John Sektor, Teddy Palmer, Evan Ward, and the list goes on…” he shrugged. “Where else in the world has that kind of top-tier talent on show every week? So just enjoy it, man…”

As the HOW veteran finished his passionate monologue, the crowd began to cheer and applaud, before Silent Witness could move on to addressing the rest of the question. Humbly, he raised his hand, asking them to calm themselves – he hadn’t said anything they shouldn’t have already known, and he wanted to keep his train of thought going.

“Now, moving on to my own HOW career… I’m lucky enough, or maybe I should say old enough, to have been around since more or less the very beginning of HOW. I think it’s fair to say that my career could also be broken down into three stages,” began the LSD Legend on the first part of the fan’s question. “… and the fact that I can conveniently line it up with the three eras of HOW is just a happy coincidence, I promise” he added, drawing a polite laugh from the crowd.

“The beginning of my career, the most successful time in my career, I think it’s fair to say…” he continued. “… was the ‘first era’ of HOW, as you put it in your question. I was so focused, so driven to achieve back then. I wanted to be the best of the best, in the best organization in the world and I would have done anything to achieve that.

“My problem back then was that I wanted it too much. I was so stressed out all the time, worrying about what other people were doing, instead of focusing on myself” explained the LSD Legend. “I had tremendous success in the LSD division… helped build it into one of the key pillars in HOW that it is today… But I always wanted more. Instead of appreciating just what it meant to be competing against future Hall of Famers like Shane Reynolds, I always looked further up the card with envy” explained the HOW veteran.

“I wanted to be competing with Kostoff, Darkwing, Jatt, all those guys in the World Title and ICON Title picture. I pushed too much, too quickly, and had I taken a moment to appreciate what I already had, it probably would have pushed me into that main event scene a lot sooner” continued Silent Witness, to a hushed crowd that was now hanging on his every word. “So when I look back at that time, I try to remember the good things – the focus, the drive – and learn from the mistakes. The biggest thing I learned from that first stage, I guess, is not to rush things. Be the best at what you are doing and good things will always come your way.”

“Then there’s the second stage. The World Title stage…” he trailed off for a moment. Smiling, he shook his head. “Man, I was so fucking good back then” he added with a chuckle, drawing more laughs from the crowd. “I’m kidding… kinda. I was definitely, for a short time, at my absolute best back then. 2012, man… That was my time, and I squandered it” he added, ruefully. “ was on top of the fucking world, man. HOW World Champion. War Games captain. I had it all right there in front of me, and I allowed an angry Welsh prick to take it all away from me…”

He fell silent, as did the audience for a moment, before erupting into cheers and clapping, showing their support for the former HOW World Champion. Silent Witness smiled, looking around the room and taking in the friendly vibes. “After that, it hasn’t ever been the same. I guess if I’m honest, it’s a mixture of disappointment at what happened, at letting everybody down, and feeling like I didn’t make the most of my opportunity” explained the HOW veteran. “I’ve spent years trying to get that feeling back, but it was a moment in time that will never happen again. It took me a long time to understand that” he continued. “I’ll never recapture that moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make new moments. That’s the lesson I learned from that second stage of my career – embrace the special moments while they’re happening. Don’t cling on to them too tight once they’re gone, and try to create new moments instead of living in pursuit of the old ones” he added, before looking towards the fan that asked him the question initially.

“Which brings us to today…” he said, smiling at the man. “My largely disappointing, non-existent stage. Sure, I’ve been around a couple of times, but can anyone here tell me one major achievement I’ve had in HOW over the past… let’s say ten years?” He looked around at the silent crowd, as they racked their brains trying to think of a positive for the HOW veteran. “Exactly…” he said, after a few seconds. “When I left HOW in 2018, I didn’t know if I was ever coming back, aside from a few spot appearances here and there,” he admitted, honestly. “I was burned out, broken – broke…” he continued. “My HOW career was going out on a whimper. My wrestling career was done, my life had no meaning anymore… It was a dark time. 

“But thanks to some kind-hearted friends, I found my place in this world again, and over time my confidence grew. I had to take years away from this business to find myself, but eventually, I was ready to come back. I have the focus, I have the drive from that first stage of my career. I know I have the talent, my ‘second stage’ proved that…” he added, pausing momentarily. “Most importantly, though, I have the experience and the knowledge of how to handle the unique pressures that come with competing at the top of a HOW billing.”

He shrugged. “Sure, Mike and John have done it time and time again, so there’s an argument that maybe I’m not quite at that level. Mike for sure will think so – he’s always had my number. The difference now is that I’ve finally pieced it all together. I could have done with learning all of this a decade or two ago, sure, but I fucking got there in the end…” concluded the HOW veteran, to a thunderous applause. “Thank fuck!” he exclaimed, smiling.

“I know that’s a long fucking response…” he said, directing it toward the fan. “But I hope that answers some questions about why I’m back, and why I’m still driven to do this…” he paused, searching for the right words. “… fucking crazy shit that we do. My legacy in this business – in this company, specifically – is somewhat tainted. It’s time for me to put that right and bring the HOW World Championship back home to the people of Chicago!”

That closing line was enough to send the crowd into rapturous applause, rise to their feet to cheer for a smiling Silent Witness – as he got ready for whatever was to come next…