April 23, 2023
Smoothie King Center
New Orleans, Louisiana
We open backstage, just moments after the shocking final moments of Chaos 29, as Xander Azula casually limps into the locker room, the very room he was in just before stepping into the ring with the biggest match of his career. Xander glances over at the bottle lying on the floor near the wall, precisely where he threw it at the end of promising that a new era would be ushered in tonight. One would think that Xander would come to regret making that promise, but something seems off…because the Fighter has a smile on his face. Not some fake grimace that could be passed off as a smile…a proper ear to ear smile as he reaches over to grab the water bottle, taking the cap off for a swig to rehydrate.
Xander takes a seat on the bench, closing his eyes as he groans at the pain he’s in. To the Fighter’s credit, he tries his best to shrug it off, taking a deep breath before slowly exhaling. The sight is a very strange one indeed as the door swings open, with his Eternal Circle crew making their way into the locker room. The confusion on each of their faces indicates that they’re equally uncertain why the Fighter is in such a good mood…and Xander picks up on this the moment he opens his eyes back up to see his fellow disciples.
“What’s the matter?” Xander asks, taking another swig of the water as his crew just looks at each other once more before staring at the surprisingly gleeful Fighter. “You look confused about…something.”
After another brief moment of awkward silence shared between the Head Disciple and his followers, Mysti finally speaks up.
“And you look awfully happy for someone who–”
“Went and beat Christopher America?” interjects the Fighter, his smile widening to a grin. “Who walked into that ring here tonight, pinned ol’ Red White and Blue Balls in the middle of said ring, and walked out the new HOW World Champion over a month before War Games? Hell yeah I’m happy. I’m fucking ecstatic, my dear.”
He stops himself for a moment, raising a hand as if to pause the conversation so he can take another swig of his water before continuing.
“I’m gonna go to the post-show media scrum, tell the world exactly what I think about Lee Best and the old guard of High Octane Wrestling, and then we’ll go out on the town and celebrate. We’ll go see if any Smoothie Kings are still open, ask for the HOW World Champion discount on four large smoothies, and then we’ll go crash one of the finest restaurants they have in the French Quarter.”
Xander takes another pause, groaning at the pain in his, well, little Fighters from where America took him to Dick Kick City.
“But before we do any of that, I think I should go see medical staff for an ice pack. The champ’s balls are hurtin’ like hell right now.”
Xander rises from the bench, clutching himself as he steps out of the locker room with his crew close behind. Moments later, retrieving the necessary ice pack to, well, relieve himself as needed, Xander heads to a part of the backstage area that would normally hold such an occasion as a post-show media scrum…but there is no sign of reporters, or anyone else for that matter. This, naturally, frustrates and even infuriates the Fighter as he starts shouting to no one in particular.
“Where the hell is my media scrum!?”
Mysti tries to rest a hand on his shoulder to calm the “champion” down, but Xander persists.
“I am your new HOW World Champion, damn it, and I deserve a bit more respect than this! I want my audience, I want my celebration, but most of all…I want my damn belt.”
His face snarls as he makes that last remark, which comes off as worrying to his followers…but all they can do is nod in agreement. After all, now is not the time to explain what really went down in the main event. Thomas Crowne, possibly the most crafty of the trio standing alongside their leader, finally offers up some assurance.
“Whatever it is you need from us, you got it. That title should be around your waist, and we will see to it that the title comes to its rightful home.”
Xander nods at this with a smile, satisfied with the response as he leaves the locker room. Vagn Dahl and Mysti rush over to Crowne with a slight glare, as Vagn inquires of the junior disciple with a raised eyebrow.
“What exactly do you have in mind, Thomas? America has a stranglehold on that championship, what are we supposed to do about it?”
Thomas simply smirks at this, pressing his index finger to his temple.
“I got this, my man. Xander just needs to have a championship in his possession, for the time being. You’ll see.”
Dahl and Mysti look at each other, uncertain as to how effective the plan might be…but eventually nod in agreement, before the trio take their leave from the locker room to catch up with the Fighter for a night of mostly-warranted celebration.
The champ is here…the REAL World’s Champ, that is.
The conquering hero of New Orleans, the man who defeated Christopher America in the middle of that ring and became the NEW High Octane Wrestling World Champion. You all heard the man himself announce as much at Chaos 30.
Anything after that is all kinda fuzzy to me. Anyway. Onward and upward, folks!
Your new World Champion is not willing to rest on his laurels, however…especially not after all the shit I’d been given over the past two years. Instead, as I felt that sweet, sweet 97RED in my hands I felt something come over me. A certain hunger I’d almost lost before that night.
I am not content with just being the World Champion. No, I want it all.
Every title, every accolade, every crumb of success I can grab in this company…it’s all mine for the taking, and it starts at Chaos 31. It starts with taking a prize I’ve fallen short of twice before…the High Octane Television Champion.
Most importantly, it starts with beating Dan Ryan.
O Danny boy, I’ve been waiting a long time for this one! When you and I were on the same War Games team back in 2021, I always had in the back of my mind that it was a matter of time before we squared off against each other…but then, you vanished without a trace. Left me chomping at the bit for a crack at you…until it became clear you weren’t coming back.
And I’ll be honest, Danno…I’m mad as hell at you.
Not for going away, or even because of why you went away…but the manner in which you finally came back. Disappeared off into lord knows where for months, but all it took was a call from Lee Best with a favor or two, and a chance to redeem yourself.
Shit, if I were in your position I’d have taken the offer too. I get it.
Hell, beating up Clay Byrd is something I can respect the hell out of you for wanting to pursue…but then you found a way to drag me into this.
You just had to do it, didn’t ya?
You had to cut your cute little promo back in January, where you looked to make a statement with a little joke about using other people’s words…and you brought up my name in passing, since you felt a need to quote Clay Byrd. Other people might have found that funny, but I sure as hell didn’t. You have no idea how much that really pissed me off, Dan.
You can keep my name out of your fucking mouth, you hear me?
You’ve had all this time to focus on other things, like being Jatt Starr’s big brother or some shit, collecting the HOTv Tag Team Championships, and all the while carrying the banner of the GOD of HOW…but look at you now, Dan Ryan. This year’s War Games is a weird one, because we had a draft that’s actually kept for this long…and now you’re working with the man you attacked upon your return. I was gonna ask you how that feels, but you seem the kind of man that can stay cool, calm, and collected no matter what happens.
Maybe it’s those damn shades.
But here we are now, Dannypoo. You won the HOTv Championship back at March to Glory and really, good on you…I’d say you’ve proven yourself on this road of redemption you’ve taken. There’s just one problem…that road just hit a major speed bump.
Because now, you’re facing Xander goddamn Azula.
A fighter, a master of his craft, and the REAL World’s Champion.
If the higher ups don’t want to acknowledge me for what I am, then I’m gonna take it out on you. If they’re not gonna give me the 97RED that belongs around my waist, I am gonna take your belt as punishment. Because I am an angry Fighter, a vengeful Fighter that will take every piece of humiliation I have suffered and turn it back around.
And when I do, the Hammer of GOD comes crashing down one more time…only to break into a million little pieces. The one-time Ego Buster will find his own shattered.
I will leave you a broken goddamn mess inside that ring, and I will add the HOTv Championship to my collection. The hometown crowd will weep over their fallen hero, and the captain that drafted you to his War Games team will wonder what’s left of you to compete in Mexico City…but that’s none of my business.
You put this upon yourself months ago, O Danny boy…and now the pipes are calling. Spelling out your inevitable downfall by the Fist of Eris. A fist of defiance against the GOD you serve.
See you in Houston, Dan Ryan. Enjoy your final moments with that title…because it belongs to me now.
Strand Historic District
Just days before his second title challenge in the span of a month, Xander Azula and his crew have come to the lovely landmark south of Houston to take in the sights and sounds. They approach the Railroad Museum when it becomes apparent that Xander’s followers have something more in mind than just showing him around.
You see, this entire trip has had Thomas Crowne carrying a large knapsack, much to the annoyance of the occasional security guard he’s had to assure was not something malicious. As they arrive at the museum, a reminder of the machine that rolls on until it can’t any longer, Crowne takes a pause, asking the crew and the Head Disciple to comply.
“Before we go inside, Xander, we have something to present to you.”
Xander raises an eyebrow at this, as Crowne opens the knapsack and reaches into it…pulling out a replica HOW World Championship, much to the Fighter’s delight. Thomas hands the championship to a gleeful Xander with a smile as he presses on.
“For you, champ. It only seemed fitting to parade around with your World Championship.”
Xander is absolutely speechless, slinging the title over his shoulder like a proud parent as the group finally enter the museum. We hear one last statement from Azula before fading to black…
“The champ is here!”