UnscripTED – ep.01 – 27/03/20
Podcasts. I’ve listened to them, I’ve participated in them, but I never imagined a world where I’d host my own. I never desired to have such a connection with the masses, and frankly never understood those who did. Who in their right mind would willingly open those curtains and windows to what is their everyday life? It was a question I pondered on more than one occasion. But then this funny thing happened. I opened that curtain, just a crack, letting a little sunlight break through. That’s when I realized I wasn’t trying to keep the sunlight out. I was trying to hide from the sunlight.
Ladies and Gentleman, this is UnscripTED.
This debut episode will serve as more of a sounding board, for no other reason than this show being born out of necessity. You see, it turns out that honesty has become the single greatest tool in my road to recovery. That’s not to say it doesn’t come without its challenges. Honesty means holding yourself accountable. It means having to face your past, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. It means admitting when you’re in a good place, and more importantly, when you’re not. But, before I get ahead of myself here, let me clarify all of this for you with six very sharp words.
I, Teddy Palmer, am an alcoholic.
I have been for a very long time. And I hid from it, for a very long time. Not so much the fact that I am one, but more so the realities of being one. I long ago accepted being one, but heavily disputed the realities associated with it. It’s because of that contradiction that seeking help always proved ineffective. I’ve attended AA meetings, and I’ve completed rounds of rehab. But every single time produced the same result: acknowledging yes I am, but denying the gravity of what it is.
That is until I had no choice but to be honest.
The stress of being a professional wrestler is undeniable. Some handle it as the title recommends, ‘professionally’, then there are the others who handle it with great ignorance. For much of my career, I’ve fallen in the latter category. Last month I found myself in the lowest of lows. Red and I walked into the land of High Octane with Tag Team Championship aspirations, and earned ourselves that very opportunity. With no pressure prior to the opportunity, I was loose and relaxed. With that opportunity on our plate, I was uptight and anxious.
And I drank.
I drank hours before that opportunity, and in rewatching that match over and over again, I am ashamed in a way that words simply can’t describe. I failed the fans that spent their hard earned cash for tickets to what media insiders were labeling a dark horse candidate for match of the year. I failed Cecilworth and Max, denying them the fight they deserved as champions. I failed Red, my hardworking tag team partner who only asked me to keep it together and pull my weight. And most importantly, I failed myself. I robbed myself of the opportunity for success.
That’s when I made the sobering decision to abandon being a fuck up.
And what a difference two weeks can make. Forgettable main event fodder to winning the Lee Best Invitational, punching my ticket to Rome. And ironically enough, repaying those I failed in the process. I was afforded the opportunity to show Red I could be what he always preached I could be. I was afforded the opportunity to give Max the fight he deserved two weeks prior, and remedy the embarrassment that came with it. And now I’m afforded the opportunity to do the same for Cecilworth, which I’ll touch on later in the show.
But most importantly, I was afforded the opportunity to make it up to you, the fans. I was able to share a career defining moment with you, and let my actions serve as an apology for what transpired two weeks prior. I gave everyone a glimpse of what they could expect going forward. All of this on the day I chose sobriety. It proved to be quite the Hollywood ending in the eyes of many.
Not for me though. It simply served as a mighty high bar to set. One that is impossible to match day to day in this journey. It’s hand is firmly gripped on the handle to the door of failure every single day, waiting to open it without a moment’s notice. The struggle is real, and this battle is never ending.
As I said, honesty has become the single greatest tool in my road to recovery. And as it turns out, it’s the only one I have left…
12 Minutes Later
“This podcast is brought to you by High Octane Gambling. Bet poorly, and could very well sink your company. Bet wisely however, and you’ll be back in Daddy’s good graces. The choice is yours. HIGH OCTANE GAMBLING! GET HIGH ON THE H.O.G!”
March To Glory is upon us! And boy oh boy, what a card that has been put together for you. Mr. Lee Best, you have outdone yourself. Sure, a certain Lee Best Invitational Winner had you scrambling to redo the presumed card from top to bottom, but that’s beside the point. Saturday night will be one hell of a show, and everyone inside The Colosseum is in for a treat.
Oh, and I shouldn’t fail to mention, “Card Subject To Change”. So obviously shenanigans!
First we have the uniquely stipulated “Loser Can’t Wrestle During War Games Period” Match. Scott Stevens versus Brian Hollywood. I think this match up will come down to who wants the vacation more. Taking that into consideration, Stevens rides off into the sunset for the next three months while Hollywood continues his climb back to glory!
Next up, the match that will easily provide the most carnage of the evening, doing the spirits of The Colosseum proud. The “Fatal Four Way Steel Cage Contest for the LSD Championship”. My boy Alex Redding joins Chris Kostoff and Deacon in the pursuit of who can dethrone Max Kael. My head says Max doesn’t lose two times in a row, my heart and bias say Red comes back hard off back to back heartbreakers. Both men recreate their ladder match fall, Red hits first by a narrow margin. Receipt given, new LSD Champion!
Moving on, “Number One Contenders Match for the Tag Team Championships”. Turn-It-Up-Express take on MJ Flair and High Flyer. I don’t see this one being close, with Flair and Flyer offering up some turn down service. Former Industry mates take ‘er!
And then there is the biggest clusterfuck of the card, “The Five Team Tag Team Championship”. Talk about a tongue twister. Not sure of the rules, how order will be kept, and frankly don’t care to rifle off the ten names of the competitors, with all due respect. The action will be fast, it will be furious, and four of the teams will be left with eGG on their face. The Bandits steal this one!
And of course, we have the main event where yours truly takes on Cecilworth Farthington! This match…this moment…this is what I’ve been waiting for. There is no prediction here. No. I just want to talk, Farthy. I need to talk to you.
You sir are a very smart man.
Choosing to stoke the fires of a fragile man’s psyche, brilliant. Completely depraved, but brilliant nonetheless. If there is one thing you can ask an addict that will have them running towards their vice of choice, it’d be ‘Who are you?’. That existential question has scuttled many a man, and it turns out most who suffer from addiction do so because of that question. Whether it’s not knowing, or worse, hiding from it’s answer, the weight can and will crush you.
So big props. Smart play. In the days of yesteryear, I’d probably have hid that card up my sleeve too, waiting for the exact right moment to play it. You really sent me for a spiral, and as luck would have it, the ghosts of Teddy Palmer’s past decided to make an appearance on the very same day. Crazy how that works, right? Talk about a fucked up day. I mean, an unknown woman alerted me to a heinous event from my past, her friend threw rye directly into my mouth, and I was briefly arrested and detained. It was surely enough to justify breaking.
Here’s the thing though: I didn’t.
I came close, very close. And who knows, if it wasn’t for the aid of a dear friend and confidant, maybe I would have. Yet the fact remains, I didn’t. I didn’t crack. I didn’t break. I didn’t give up. It actually helped me realize you were trying to paint me with a broad stroke. Trying to see if any of those venomous words spitting from that mouth of yours would grab hold and stick. High Octane’s scariest monster he says. Nah, furthest thing from the truth. The scariest monster any of us face is the man staring back in the mirror. That includes you, as well, dear friend.
What else was thrown into theory? Master manipulator was one, right? Delusional egotist was another. Dangerous threat, intended more as means to pump your own tires rather than mine. Fuck laddy boy, there sure as hell were a lot of words that you’ve spoken along the way. And all in the name of what? Each blanketed statement was a straw to grasp out trying to dictate the narrative to suit your agenda.
And sure, there are nuggets of truth to everything you’ve hinted at.
Am I a terrible friend? No. Have I been the best one of late? Nah. I haven’t been. And by no means has that been my intention. In fact, my intention was the exact opposite. I want nothing more than to make that best friend from eight years old proud, not to push him away. Saying sorry to him had nothing to do with the pending outcome of our match. I was apologizing for the fuck up I’ve been this entire time, and the years of our careers I’ve wasted in doing so.
Do I think I deserve the support of these fans? No, I don’t. Recovering addicts have hurt so many people along the way they don’t feel they deserve anything. But I accept it and the last thing I want to do is lose it. If there are people out there who can look at me and relate to my story, I’d rather serve as an inspiration to them, rather than another failure. If winning the World Championship can have any struggling person look in the mirror and say ‘if he can do it, why not me?’, then I’ve served my fucking purpose.
Am I your biggest threat to date? Not by any means. That doesn’t mean I won’t be coming at you with everything I have as a man. With every ounce of fight I have in this body. That I won’t spill my blood or shed tears through this battle. Cecilworth, you need to look in the mirror. That is where you’ll discover your biggest threat.
For as smart as you are, you are as equally delusional.
Do you really believe no one hypes you? If you’d stop talking long enough to listen, the praise is there. But you look for every opportunity to tell us you haven’t lost in a year. You’ll whine and bitch that your streak doesn’t get the same love that Jace Parker Davidson’s did. Here’s a question: what is the real reason you bring up his streak? Is it because you want everyone to talk about yours, or is it simply a reason to remind us you ended his?
You fancy yourself as a constant in this industry. You are the standard bearer and we should all look up to you, and follow the example you’ve set. Don’t get me wrong, holding three of High Octane’s Championships at once is quite the example, and who wouldn’t want to follow that? But if you’re going to peg yourself as something, at least have the decency to be truthful in doing so.
You partake in one of the biggest events our industry has witnessed in years: the formation of The Group of Death. That was an evolution and shifting of power amongst the highest ranks within this company. But then you’ll turn around and shit on everyone else for the ‘rebirths’ they undertake. You’ll tell us in one sentence how your loss to John Sektor was a mistake created out of complacency, yet turn around and ask us to believe that coasting isn’t in your nature, and never has been. You’ll spit on the memory of your father and scream how you outgrew him and never needed a damned thing from him, but then ache that you were never able to win the World Championship while he was alive so he could finally be proud of you.
Farthington the constant. The only thing you’re consistent at is spinning a web of lies and deceit.
And trust me when I say this, I’ve spun my share of webs. All us addicts do. We lie, we cheat, we steal. I am no better than you Cecilworth, but I’m trying to be. I’ve looked at that monster in the mirror, and each day he scares me a little less. You, you are addicted to the idea of greatness. Instead of being able to feel it, you need others to experience it and proclaim it. Your greatest fear is never being quite as good as those who’ve preceded you.
And that will never change until you face the monster in the mirror.
These two week have been a journey of self discovery. Winning the Lee Best Invitational was both a blessing and a curse. It was a victory I very much so needed, not just in my career, but in life. Yet it was a curse in the sense of expectations. And for that reason, I need to win in The Colosseum.
Because I’m scared what will happen if I don’t.
I don’t look at that admission as a sign of weakness. It takes true strength to be honest with yourself. Today is day fourteen of sobriety and I’m not here without being honest. To myself. To my friends. To you. I don’t want to face the uncertainty of what losing the biggest opportunity of my life holds.
So that being said, I’m about to make you a promise. If you hit me with Article 50, and chances are you will, I hope to God you enjoyed how it felt breaking Benny’s arm. If I can’t struggle free, if I can’t get a rope broke, if I am trapped with no saving grace, I am not quitting. I will not tap out, I can not afford to do so. That is my promise to you. You will have to break my fucking arm to end our war.
I hope you have it in you to do it a second time.
Just like I hope I have it in me to end your historic undefeated streak. To beat the man who has stood atop this company since it’s rebirth, and dismantled his competition with deadly precision. Cecilworth, you are the warrior of all warriors in this madhouse called High Octane Wrestling. And believe it or not, I hold a tremendous amount of respect for you in that regard. To win my first World Championship from you would be an absolute honour. This could be the pinnacle of my career. The exact moment I turned the corner, my past safely in the rearview mirror. I need this Cecilworth, more than you could ever understand.
And I will stop at nothing inside that ring to win the HOW World Championship…
11:30 PM – The Colosseum
The view from within is absolutely stunning. The sky is littered with stars, bright enough to light up all of Rome. Everything and anything High Octane related that was to be set up, is set up. There is a certain level of calm the rests within these stone walls, awaiting the shit storm coming its way. The Colosseum is ready to play host to yet another war.
And I sit crossed legged at the epicenter of it all, dead center of the High Octane Ring.
Much like two weeks prior, I seek nothing more than to soak in this moment, one last time. This is the final opportunity to bask in the unknown of what tomorrow night will bring. I know that it is late, time isn’t lost on me, but I need this. Retreating to my hotel room would be a wisemans choice, but something tells me sleep won’t be easy to come by. Not tonight of all nights. I’ll wait to crash in triumph, or fade away in obscurity.
Staring off into the empty rows, I can’t help but imagine a packed house. A crowd in the same vein as the LBI Finals. The same atmosphere and energy. The same level of support. From the fans. From Benny Newell. From Red…
“You really sponsored by High Octane Gambling?” That familiar voice sneaks up on me.
Turning around, Red is standing outside the ring, arms resting on the apron. He too looks to be breathing in the calm, appreciating the magnificence that is the Flavian Amphitheatre. He rolls under the bottom rope, making his way towards me.
“…Unofficially…” I reply as he takes a seat beside me.
The two of us sit, side by side, crossed legged like we were back in that third grade classroom. Who would’ve thought that two grade school kids from Toronto would make it here, fighting for the right to be called Champion in Rome’s storied Colosseum. Life truly is unpredictable.
“How’ve you been?” He asks.
“I’ve been good. I’ve been good.” I repeat, hoping the second time will make it hold more weight.
“Run-in with the local leos back home, eh?”
“Heh, yeah…” I scratch the top of my head. “Distracted Driving…”
“I.. didn’t realize that was an arrestable offence.”
“When there’s booze on your breath and shirt, and you make inappropriate comments about the officer’s wife, it is.” I look at Red who seems slightly confused. “A drink was thrown in my face and Officer Marshall” I finish the puzzle with the final two pieces, Red shooting an ‘ah-ha’ face to the now clear picture.
The two of us sit, nodding, silence falling between our small talk. The much bigger issue remains at large, it’s just a matter of who will bring it up first.
“You good to go for tomorrow night?” Red asks, toeing closer towards that line.
“I think so. I’ll know for sure when I walk out onto the stage.”
“Did you…did you prepare?” He asks, knowing full well I did, but alluding to his voicemails full of recommendations.
“I did. That I did.”
Silence falls upon us once more. A shooting star prompts an ‘oh’ from me, pointing in the sky. It wasn’t that interesting. Not interesting enough to kill the awkwardness, at least.
“You? Fuckin’ torture Mr. Best signed you up for, eh?” I ask.
“Well…you’ve beat Kostoff, Deacon and Kael, so it can’t be that bad…” He jabs.
“Beat you too.” I dig.
Red laughs, as do I. The silence returns. If we were sitting anywhere other than this Colosseum, it’d be way more awkward than it is. Fuck it.
“Hey man…” I pause before ripping the bandaid off. “I’ve been a bit of a dick the past two weeks.”
“Bit? Nah.” He begins, shedding a brief grin. “You’ve been a colossal dick.”
There it is.
“I got so caught up in the idea of my childhood dream, that I completely lost sight that we share the same childhood dream. It wasn’t my intention to cut you out.”
“I know, Ted.”
“It’s just, I’ve relied on you alot in my career. Too much. And in turn I’ve let you down. Again, too much. This opportunity to me is more than fulfilling that childhood dream. It’s an opportunity to right a lot of wrongs.”
“You don’t need to right any wrongs with me. I haven’t been keeping track. Family doesn’t do that.”
“But I have been. How couldn’t I? It’d be one thing if we were both fucking up along the way, but that hasn’t been the case.”
“And this relates to you cutting me out of your life how?”
“I needed to do this on my own. For both of us. I needed to show you, and more importantly, myself, that I can do this on my own. Win or lose.”
“Okay, but how…”
“No listen. If I win this, I need it to have been done on my own. I need to eliminate any potential doubt that if it weren’t for you, the outcome would have been different. The same goes the other way. If I lo…”
“Too close to your match to be talking about those kinds of ifs.” Red cuts in.
“Fair enough.” I agree.
“You realize I might be stubborn, but I’m not a detriment, right? Had you just explained yourself clearly, I would have followed your lead. Trust me, I know that this is your opportunity, and will be there for you as you see fit.”
“…That’s what Binh said…”
“Binh’s,” he heaves a dry chuckle, “Binh’s one fucking smart dude.”
“That he is.” I smile, shaking my head, wishing the little guy was here in Rome. “But the voicemails…”
“Dude, you weren’t answering any of my calls. I was just trying to make you angry enough to reply. We needed to talk shit through to move forward. We literally had the briefest of convos at the arena, where if you remember, I agreed with you, and we went from that to you completely ignoring me. Again, stubborn, but not a detriment.”
He’s not wrong.
“I’m sorry man. I am. Can’t take back what I did, but I can learn from this mistake.” I say, letting out a brief snicker. “It’s kinda my thing now.”
“And they say old dogs can’t learn new tricks…”
Again silence, but a different tone. The awkwardness has begun to evaporate, replaced with a settling peace.
“Bros?” I ask.
“Knucks?” I follow up.
I extend my fist, waiting for his to join. As it slides towards, I do the very thing that will drive him mad, but deep down he’ll appreciate. I grab onto his wrist and pull him in, latching on with an apologetic hug. He resists, squirms and pushes away. A new kind of awkwardness has joined the foray.
“So Farthington.” He quickly tries to erase our embrace, dusting himself off.
“So Farthington.” I play copycat.
“World Championship.” I continue to play.
“You know, I listened to every word you had to say today.”
“You say you think you’re ready.”
“You’re fucking ready bro.” He slaps his hand on my back. He does his best to try and contain it, but his pride leaks through his stoic exterior. “Old lead tongue, I misspoke the last time we were together. I told you to chase your childhood dream. Fuck that noise. Go live your childhood dream Ted.”