Tough Love, Real Love

Tough Love, Real Love

Posted on June 30, 2022 at 11:58 pm by Darin Zion

INCHES AWAY!  After my body swings forward with a failed Ban Hammer, it’s a mere few seconds, and the unthinkable happens. Tyler connects with The Second Streets Sweeper out of nowhere.  3 seconds later, I came up short once again.  My fists clinch tight together while I clinch down on my teeth.  The footage didn’t lie to me.  Pandering to the crowd at Refueled C cost the 4Z Network another opportunity.  Reaching over, I grab the nearest pillow before tossing it across the room.  My face burns with a beet-red complexion.

“GOD DAMMIT!  That’s the last time I EVER use the fuckin’ Ban Hammer.  It’s cost me more matches than not.  I’m tired of entertaining these worthless plebs in enabling me.”

I still haven’t left the comfort of the cabin out in the woods.  I wouldn’t dare grace my Z-Mobile subscribers after they cost me that match.  Their blind encouragement only keeps me further away from attaining the elusive #97Red.

I reach over to grab the remote to rewind the footage back towards the match.  I focus on watching myself once again embracing an aggressive streak.  A sly smile forms on my smug mug while I outstretch my hand towards the wooden frame.  Her picture rests next to me.  Raising the photograph up, I caress it with gentleness.

“Soon my precious, I vow to give you my perennial love.  I’ll punch my ticket to you at all costs.  You’re the only thing I desire, baby.”

I swirl around the 8X10 picture of the HOW World Championship to admire it.  Letting out a long, drawn-out sigh, I continue blithering on.

“The Board won’t keep me from you.  CareyWood won’t keep me from you.  Halitosis won’t keep me from you.  Even if HOW management saddled me with another dead-beat partner; it will not stop me.  I’m sick to death of holding my feelings back for you.  I’m sick of sitting on the sidelines doing nothing.  CHANGE IS NECESSARY!!  I won’t stop until you know my love.  You and the HOW Universe all will soon feel my love.”

A wicked laugh exudes from my lungs while I crack my knuckles.  I lounge back in the couch, flailing around uncontrollably.  The sinister look in my eyes creeps out while I succumb to my unrestrained emotions.


The cacophony of buzzing echoes throughout this desolate small-town tattoo shop.  For years, I’d held off making a rash decision of inking up.  But now felt like the time to embrace these desires.   An uneasy feeling settles in my stomach before I step up to the chair.   The turbulent voice of my step father pangs away at my ear drums.  I could almost hear the loud hollering of that bastard echoing behind me.

“You sure this is what you want, man?   It’s a little weird…” The scruffy, bearded, inked up, 300 pounder asks me.

I nod with authority.  “Don’t you dare question the choice of the Vi-Zion-Ary!  I won’t tolerate your judgement, pedestrian.  The Zillennials will grow to love it.”  Without hesitation, I extend out the palms of my hands.  I close my eyes, scrunching up my face.  People have thrown me off cages, sent me through barbed wire, and broken my back.  But after all these years, I still couldn’t get over my fear of needles. As the tattoo gun hums, my body twinges and curls up.  Immediately, I clamp my hands together.

I can feel the miscreant’s warm breath on my shoulders.  The rancid scent of bourbon and beef wafts through my nose.  My face crinkles up before my right eye pops open to peer at the beefy man’s face glaring at me.

“Look boss, you gotta lemme do my job.  Can’t act like no pussy!”  He bellows out with the deep bass in his voice.  Rolling my eyes at his misogyny, I expose my hands to him.

Clamping down with sheer force, he drives the needle to my skin.  I space out, gazing at the beaming red neon lights, numbing my mind with daydreams.  While the behemoth rambled on about his life, I tuned him out while he finishes out my first tattoo.

“How’s it lookin’, man?”  The man exclaims while I scrutinize his work.  The font I chose made it look like I branded my skin.  The #97Red ink extenuated the deep pain I’d sequestered for years.  My eyes glowing, confirming my delight at this work of art.  I lift my right arm up and flaunt it around.  It’s scratch like letters display my first message.


It’s something I sacrificed for years to gain the success I’ve had in HOW.  It represented the lack of self-care I’ve given myself on this journey.  Now when I rally my flurry of fists; my opponents will feel the pain I’ve caused myself.  Every last rival will understand the sequestered anger I’ve bottled up for them.  Every fan will grasp my torture while I laid my body down for THEIR self-pleasure.

A demented sense of pride lights up my eyes.   I slap my left arm back down to the chair’s arm, reading for another burst of pain.  Jumping back in for more agony, I bit down on my lips.  The artist flashes me a dubious glare before shirking his shoulders.

Hitting a nerve, I yelp at the top of my lungs before my body tenses up.  My Tattoo Guy almost messes up before he stops.  Tossing his gun down, he hollers at me and thrusts his finger at my face.

“FUCKIN’ HELL MAN!  You can’t do that shit!  I’ll screw this up, douche bag…”  Before he can finish his rant, I flip him the bird with sheer defiance.   While his nostrils flared up, I could see his arm twitching, readying to blast me across my moneymaker.  Plopping back in his red bar stool, he forces my hand down on the chair.

The machine thrums and whirls around my skin completing the second tattoo:  ADORAZION.  It represents a not-so-subtle reminder to put myself first.   I need to stop caring about winning the hearts of others.  I need to love MYSELF and my needs first above anything or anyone.

My hand dives into my pocket to retrieve some cash.  Handing it off to the man, I exclaim to him, “Thank you for your service, peasant.  I appreciate your art work.”  I plop the money into his hand and exit this shit hole of an establishment.


While the last couple of weeks have passed, I’ve become more unkempt than usual.  I’d let my hair become frazzled and unruly compared to the past few years.  My facial hair continues to grow in a reckless frenzy.  But I’ve adopted a new look.  Sporting a bombastic white shirt, dark brown corduroy pants, and a beige fedora, I emerge back into society.   Your Proprietor of Z-Mobile struts his stuff down the streets of NYZ without a care in the world.  My rustic brown Yale Oxfords hit the pavement with a new zest for life.   It’s almost like I’m skipping amongst the hustle and bustle of Times Square.

Taking in a lungful of the polluted city air, I exhale with an audible force.  Embracing the sun beaming down on my pail skin, a delightful smile is painted on my face.  Reaching out to everyone I meet; I hand them a flyer with self-promotion for the first episode of Chaos.

“Zion’s Love Convoy hits the Station on CHAOS 001.  Tune into HOTV to learn more!”

While most people toss the papers off to the side, some decide to embrace it.  They wish me well when they see I’m wrestling for a Tag Team Title shot.  After a few hours of distributing marketing materials, I stop to sit on a bench.  Pondering for a moment, I’d almost forgot to extend some LOVE to my undesired tag team partner, Joe Bergman.  I pull out my Zi-Phone 13 Pro Max to order a Bergman-style Bouquet of Flowers.  FTZ Flower Delivery always has something average and dead inside like Halitosis-Man acts.

While this small gesture would satisfy most, I knew I needed to do more.  Maybe I’ll order him a Missouri Valley Masseuse to stimulate him.  After all, divorcees need LOVE too.

“HAHA!  That’ll show that bastard who leads this team!  It ain’t any one of those stinkin’ Highwaymen who controls this locker room.  It’s the most pasZIONate man in Professional Wrestling.  Hope he understands if he costs me this tag team title contenders match; I’ll floor his ass like Jill Berg did.  You want my love; get me one step closer to that HOW World Championship match with that Commie Bastard.  I can nuke that part-time idiot in a 750-word promo battle any day of the week.  HMMMMPH!”

I mutter under my breath while finishing the order.  Crossing my arms against my chest, I shake my head.  Reaching down into my wallet, I extract the picture of The Title That Got Away.  I hold it tight against my chest.  Deep in my heart of hearts, I know a win would move me one step closer to my love.

A few bystanders toss coins at me, mocking my look.  With a simple shake of my head, I rebuke their actions.  “Go ahead!  Patronize me more, you sycophants.  The reality of LOVE will hit you like a ton of fuckin’ bricks.”

Taking a few moments to observe my surrounding, it enlightens my view of this wretched city.  I watch while thieves pick pocket innocent civilians.  I survey male pigs grouping women.  I view vagabonds pleading with the plebs for cash.  I can feel my stomach churning around from all the random acts of depravity.  With a sneer forming on my demeanor, I shirk my shoulders and leave.

“It’s time to teach these people some tough love.”


Fast-forward 3 hours and now it’s nightfall in the city.  The billboards illuminate the night sky in Times Square.  Most people head out to celebrate their Independence Day early.  Between the drinks, food, and festivities occurring; they’re ringing their Independence with a bang.

Yet not a single one of them gives a rat’s ass about their fellow brothers and sisters.  These people need to act like PhilaDARINphians!  The city of Brotherly love is so much better than these folks!

I emerge from my hotel room out in the square with a sign draped over my body.  It reads “HECK YES, LOVE’S THE BEST.”  I march down the streets with a sense of purpose, armed with my megaphone.  Hitting the center of the square, I leap up onto a bench.  Exposing my newly tatted hands towards the world, a sick smile crinkles across my rugged face.  After flopping and flailing around like a mad man, I grab my megaphone.

I dared to push the envelope; I prayed these peons would film me and make it viral.  I didn’t give a single fuck about their opinions about me.  There’s no such thing as Bad Press.  It resonates all the same.  Putting the megaphone up to my mouth, my voice booms across the plaza.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for some TOUGH LOVE.  Your Zenith of Generation Z is appalled at selfish attitudes.  After spending 12 hours in this town, I want to puke.  You’re like every last person in that HOW locker room.  You exude narcissism and superiority.  Yeah, I’ve watched every last one of you stick your damn noses up in the air, not displaying one ounce of love to your fellow citizens.

You’ve all got a case of Best Privilege.   You think your fake designations make you better than everyone else.  Don’t worry, I’ve seen you snuffing each other all fuckin’ day.  It’s pathetic!!!!”

A couple of pieces of debris come flying my way before I dodge them. I taunt the crowd more, hoping to rile them up.  It’s a risk in NYZ, but these are my people and I expect better out of them.  It’s the exact same I expect out of my fellow HOW wrestlers.

“For too long, I’ve given you my perpetual admiration.  I’ve done my part over the past 8 years representing people from every shithole city in the USA like NYZ.  I’ve unwarranted shit for your entertainment.  I’ve embarrassed myself so you could all laugh at me.  I became Mr. Reliable at my job to please the vexatious Board.   But it’s gotten me jack shit over the years.  Everyone bulldozes my boundaries and treats me like shit.  So yeah…it’s time for some TOUGH, REAL LOVE.”

I take a moment to pound my sign to bring attention to my message before continuing.

“This week, the 4Z Network’s gonna step into the ring with more dead weight around his fuckin’ ankles.  HOW saddled me with former disheveled HOW Champion Joe ‘Halitosis’ Bergman.  I can already feel his 6-foot, 215-pound ass weighing me down.  The audacity of HOW saddling that rubbish Missouri Redneck appalls me.

You know what the Highwaymen did to the Locker Room?  They fuckin’ walked out on the damn team.  They put their pretentious asses first like the sycophants they are.  Their exactly like you; they don’t give two shits about building a better world.   Joe could have decided to rebuke his stable’s behavior.  That boring Missouri Native could’ve displayed tenacious love to his friends.

But he let the locker room lose!

He’s too busy sulking over the loss of his extinct marriage.  The man continues to reminisce through fuckin’ flashbacks to pull his head outta his ass for one minute.  Halitosis could’ve stepped up and led his team to win War Games. Hell, the man’s already using his pull to blind another sick sole into his Missouri Valley cult.  Poor Xander Azuzu is too dumb to see it.  He lets the man gaslight his path.”

Crossing my arms and legs, I sit on the bench.  I take a moment to rock back and forth while I continue my rant.

“You think I want to get strapped to another Brian Hollywood?  Another Xander Azula?  Another Scottywood style wrestler bound to fail and bring me down?  FUCK NO!

But that won’t keep me from putting on the performance of a lifetime.  The InspiraZIONal Speaker of 4Z will fight against the odds.  As the first ever One Manned Tag Team; I’m gonna win my shot at the HOW Tag Team Championship.  I’ll become a 4-Time Champion and carry both belts around my damn waist.  As the future sole HOW Tag Team Champion, I’ll make my two belts better than #97Red.  I’ll outperform the ICON Champion.  I’ll become the more dominant the John Sektor’s LSD Championship reign this era.  ALL UNDER THE POWER OF MY OWN LOVE!!!”

My blood boils so hot, you could feel the smoke forming in my ears.  Clenching my teeth tightly, I listen to the crowd swarming me throwing insults.  But it fuels me.  It gives my voice more energy while I continue to scream into the megaphone.

“It’s not like I have a tough challenge.  Look my four other opponents!  The Board is filled with two narcissistic best buds.  Yes, CECE and JPD, I’m talkin’ bout you fools.  Let’s take a moment to dissect their pathetic lives.  Cece, buddy, you damn well know I respect what you’ve accomplished this era in HOW.  You’re the undefeated HOW World Champion.  You’ve won multiple championships in 1 year.  You got the HOW Hall of Fame nod you deserve.  It would be stupid of me to try and run down all your fuckin’ accomplishments.

But you’re one flawed human being!  Sure, you’ve racked up the accomplishments.  You’re the best of the Bests.  You thwarted Mike at ICONIC.  Congratulations!  But no one in the damn locker room likes your humble bragging bullshit.  Your creative quips aren’t fuckin’ fists and your damn rusty.  You’ve only wrestled one match since your damn return.  Sure, you won, but can you really brag about beating Bobbinette Carey?  She’s become the newest locker room punching bag since she returned with Scotter McGavin at her side.

Every time I watch one of your promos, I feel like I’m watching an old man romancing about good ole days.  You’ve got a lot of medals of war.  You cut the skin with those verbal jousts.  But it ain’t fuckin words that win wrestling matches.  It takes heart and soul to win wrestling matches.  It’s something you lack.  Let’s be real, you admitted you’re never satisfied.  You’ve got a Savior Complex that extended high above the NYZ skyline.

Your narcissism blinds you to your flaws.  You come to my LOVE CONVOY with your head up your ass.  And that’s it; you’re gonna be tapping out faster than Brian Hollywood does at 11:59.  The glory days of you corpsing to win matches ain’t happening on my watch.  But those memories on the damn boat and get outta here.”

I take a moment to pause and reflect before focusing on JPD.

“And don’t even get me started, Jace.  The USS Octane isn’t your fuckin’ love boat.  So get your damn hand out of your pants.  I won’t tolerate with your misogyny and ego.  Last time we stepped on this boat together, your tag team failed you.  You lacked the skills to lead the worst version of the Best Alliance to victory.   After embarrassing you, you should have thanked me for saving you from makin’ love to Bestie.

But no, instead, you’ve failed to show your gratitude.  It’s funny how you make fun of rape victims this week Jace.  God only knows I wish your mother didn’t have compassion for you.  Maybe she should have taken advantage of Roe v Wade and aborted your ass.  See, I can do edgy comedy shit too.  It’s an overused troupe here in HOW.  Thinking you can step onto the USS Octane with your bloated head.  Fuck you!

You’ve stood in my way to greatness for far too long.  After I took that last stomp from you, I snapped.  I lost it because I let my naivety blind me since we started feuding.  I could let my anger for me blind me.  I could spend all day ripping your arm from your socket to put you on the shelf.  Hell, I could burn your ass better than Ray McAvay did.

But it ain’t gonna be cheap palor tricks and shock-jock jokes that win me those titles. I’m here to do business and teach you love.  I’m here to break your selfish habits and achieve greatness.  I’m gonna put you behind me once and for all…just like Tara did.  Just like Madison will do to you too.

I’ll leave you in a heap of loneliness it’ll paralyze you.  You won’t even be able to use that good hand for a quickie anymore.”

 I rise back up to my feet and crack my neck for a second.  I glare at the crowd with intensity and shout louder at them.

“And don’t even get me started with CareyWood.  For Fuck sakes, their blind altruism sucks.  It’s exhausting watching Scottywood become a shell of his former self.  A man on a war path has become someone’s bitch.  He’s turned into the St. Louis Blue and choked more than I can count. He’s latched himself to Carey’s ankles.  He’s become that beta co-dependent boyfriend everyone laughs at behind his back.

Come on Scotty…floor Carey with a hockey stick.  I fuckin’ dare you, ball-less wonder.  You’ve lost the edge I’ve reclaimed over the past few weeks.   Why?  Cause you’ve forgotten what it’s like to love yourself.   Maybe you should ask Carey to help you with that.”

I scratch my beard before continuing on.

“Oh did I hurt your feelings Carey?  Too bad!  We don’t have time to listen to your virtual signaling speeches in this match.  You portray yourself as a concerned citizen, begging for equal rights.  You have them and earned them.  You’re an Hall of Famer and a former World Champion.  I don’t understand why you don’t realize that.

Pull your head out of your ass and deflate your ego.”

I jump off the bench and down to the crowd.

“When all of you step into the ring with REAL LOVE.  I promise I will show you some tough love this week.  I will walk out the winner and I will punch my stake at the HOW Tag Team Championships.”