“I want in.”
A simple sentence at its heart, three words in total. For most, a mundane sentence used when ordering pizza for the group or playing in a home poker game. Not really worth paying much mind to. Predictable in a way.
Yet, when you start digging deep into the meaning, it’s a lot more powerful. Those little words indicate a desire, a lust even, a deep seated sense of wishing to belong. To be part of a collective.
When uttered, the person seeks to be part of the group and no longer exist on an island.
A lifetime of change.
Dig deep into your mind palace and start sifting through the historical archives. Don’t go too deep. Fat Bobby Dean in a golf cart? No, way too far. Stop. Turn around, go back again. I told you, we aren’t going too far.
There we go. You’ve found it. HOW was just about to be Refueled and you, like everyone else were uncertain what the future was about to bring. Would the World Championship Tournament even finish? Would we make it to War Games? Surely we wouldn’t manage BEYOND War Games. This was one final job, one final paycheck, one last chance at glory for some of Lee Best’s most loyal warriors. A nostalgic horse ride in the setting sun. John Sektor could tackle his addiction, Darin Zion could shrivel his cock in an ice bath, Mike Best could… continue to be Mike Best.
You remember these questions, you remember these emotions.
You also remember you had one foot out of the door. You also remember you had an eye on HOW’s newest, brightest, shiniest new partner federation – Online Championship Wrestling. You remember watching with interest as Max Kael and Mike Best showed up unannounced. You remember the foundation being build. You remember the building blocks of the eMpire starting to be formed. The three Ms – Mario, Mike, Max.
You liked that.
You wanted that.
You made the call.
“I want in.”
Have you ever had that person in your life that you are complete and totally “done with”. You know, the one that has wronged you many times, that you have given chance after chance to and the result always ends up being the same. He’s the one you swear to all of your other friends that you never want to see again, probably in some form of foul mouthed tirade.
Then they call you and ask if you want to meet up for dinner.
You should say no. You told everyone you’d say no. And yet…
A champion deserves a slap up meal. It’s almost cliche at this point to see high calibre athletes chomp down on expense steaks, aged wine and decrepit whiskey. Did you know if you taste the soul of the wizard who barreled it, you can become the new Whiskey Prince? Sure, that may be entirely untrue but it at least gives you a flavour of the age of the whiskey involved.
A champion also deserves the finest company for said meal.
On the 1st of June in the year of our lord twentieth twenty, only half of the above was true.
“I told you this would happen. I warned you!”
The juice of the rare steak dribbles down the triple chin of the portly man stabbing his fork in the general direction of the hero of our tale, the High Octane Wrestling World Champion, Mr. Cecilworth M! J. Farthington. His dining companion for the evening is what you would call a “food talker” or even “mouth breather” if I dare go so far, ensnaring each bite of flesh with a line of teeth that could best be described as making you want to jump, jump in the level of criss-crossed they are. As morsels of potato and meat fly out in all directions onto the pristine white table cloth below, the fork continues to stab forth into the direction of Farthington.
Farthington: I didn’t come here for a lecture. I’m not entirely sure why I came here at all.
The champion’s plate was pristine in presentation, untouched by neither fork nor knife. The glass next to the meal was less fortunate. Farthington probably would have inhaled the entire thing if he knew how many calories the glass contained.
Farthington: This is not one of those “make good” meals. There is no Jesus to come to here. Somehow, you caught me in just the right mood and I bestowed upon you five minutes of my precious time so if you would resist ingesting an entire cow for a few moments to actually make your damn point, I’d appreciate it.
Farthington’s dining companion starts to mop up the juices and spit around his mouth with what could upsettingly be described as a “novelty hot dog tie”. As we get a good look at the man for the first time and not just his gaping mouth full of meat, we realise tonight’s company is Farthington’s former agent, Dirk Dickwood.
Since the incident before Rumble at the Rock, life hasn’t been too kind to the foul mouthed chubby funster. Where one there was a mere single chin, it was replaced upwards of four. The stomach could serve as an inflatable raft should the plane need to come to an emergency landing. You could brew the bags under his eyes.
Dickwood: Didn’t I tell you that you didn’t want to win the World Championship. Didn’t I tell you that I was protecting you with my sabotage? Didn’t I tell you that your life with a constant target on your back would be miserable?
As Farthington snaps his finger to indicate that he would like another livener to help endure the fresh hell of a conversation he finds himself party to, he leans in closer, locking eyes with his former mentor.
Farthington: And where are you getting the mistaken notion that I am miserable Dirk? From where I’m sitting right now, all I see is a sad pathetic wreck of a human who has achieved NOTHING without riding my coattails. You’ve gained weight, your teeth are disgusting and I’d have to guess the last time you actually got any sleep was… November 2019. Is this… is this a little bit of projection, buddy?
Another stab into the steak and a measure of mash to match. The round and rosy-faced Dirkwood doesn’t immediately leap to his own defense, savouring each chew instead. He looks remarkably calm given the attempted character assassination from his former friend. After a large gulp of satisfaction, Dickwood also leans in.
Dickwood: And yet I seem happier than you right now.
The HOW World Champion lets his old friend’s words roll around his head for a few moments. He leans back in his chair and lets out a weary sigh, pushing his back right against the chair. He refuses to make eye contact with Dirk, choosing to glare down at his drink instead.
Farthington: I want in.
The locker room of Refueled I had a rather jovial atmosphere. The old wars had long been forgotten and there hadn’t been time for new ones to form. Farthington for his part had just finished up his first of two bouts of the evening, dispatching The Lost Stranger with relative ease and punching his ticket to the next round against John Sektor. He’d been waiting the entire day for a chance to have a private conversation with his old buddy Mike Best and rushed out of the shower, his dong quickly covered when he spotted his chance.
Best: You know I can’t make that call myself, right? We’re a group of equals. Max and Mario will have to approve.
Farthington’s head begins to bound up and down like an excited puppy.
Farthington: I know, I know. This is the chance though Mike. This is finally the chance. There is no way our legs can be cut under us this time. This brave new era, we can finally be the team we always wanted to be.
Mike runs his fingers under his chin, repeating the same “M” shape over and over as he looks deep in thought.
Best: What about Dirk?
Farthington gives out a hearty chuckle.
Farthington: What about Dirk? He has as much power and force as a dildo made of cotton candy. It’s not up to him to approve of the deal, it’s up to him to go along with it.
Cecilworth pulls up a QR code on his wonderful and modern mobular tubular phone, encouraging his old buddy to scan it up on his own.
Each fatty bite smacking against the lips of Dickwood was like a flash bang to Cecilworth ears, his toes curled and body intertwined in discomfort.
Farthington: Things are a little bit rough right now, sure. I grant you that Dirk, I’m not delusional. Mike seems more excited to spend time with his ole mentor Ryan. Lindsay’s been over at his house a lot too, always concocting this scheme and that for their next matches. There’s definitely cracks. Little ones though. Happens all the time with mergers.
Farthington begins to prod at his steak with a fork, not really attempting to cut it up or consume it. It seems to be more of an attempt to distract the mind than satisfy the rumbling of the tummy. Dirk Dickwood’s tongue pierces out of his mouth, to Cecilworth’s eye it looks forked as a snake grin sweeps over his old manager’s face.
Dickwood: And is that little kink the reason that when Kostoff was murdering the ever loving shit out of you, not a single one of your own group came out rushing to your defense?
Farthington mops his forehead with the napkin that was previously resting atop his lap, taking a big swig from his water glass as he lets Dirk’s words wash through him.
Farthington: Well Ryan and Troy were preoccupied with The Bruvs, Mike had taken the night off because of the spooky mask guy…
Dickwood: And Max?
Farthington begins furiously rubbing the back of his neck.
Farthington: He was… err… busy. You know how that guy is.
Dickwood: Funny that. He always seemed to have your back during the eMpire days.
Dirk leans back in his chair, taking ownership of it as if it was his own personal throne. He bounds back the whiskey in his glass and jams another cube of steak into his gullet.
Dickwood: And let’s talk about Mike for a second…
Farthington: Don’t you fucking dare. That man is my best friend. That man is the reason I am World Champion right now. If he never let me into the eMpire, this year. This one off miracle year… it never happens.
Dirk’s rolls back, bouncing up and down on his chair, the balloon of smugness that engulfs him looks fit to pop.
Dickwood: Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t the last time you two even sat down and had a conversation the moment where he realised that he wanted to challenge you? I can understand why things might be a little bit icy at the moment, I know if my best friend wanted to take my greatest accomplishment away from me, I’d be none too pleased. What would have happened if he won the LBI? What if Max had won? What if Troy had won?
Farthington: They… they would have declined the match.
The noise that escapes Dirk’s mouth could best be described as a “shart cackle”.
Dickwood: THEY’RE SHARKS you idiot. This is exactly why I never wanted you to win that World Championship. It’s destroying you. It’s destroying your soul. You saw me as the enemy. I’m not the enemy. THAT’S the enemy.
Dirk jabs his fork in the direction of the World Championship that rests atop the middle of the table as a makeshift decorative centrepiece. Speckles of meat fly off the edge of the fork, tainted the championship’s plates in grease.
Dickwood: This tag match. Just be careful. Mike prides himself on War Games victories, you’ve been around him enough to know how much he loves bragging about his expertise in the match. I’m just saying… The Bruvs might not be the only ones with an interest in softening you up before the plane trip to Normandy.
A friend turned enemy knows a lot about a person, what feeds them, what starves them. They know which emotional triggers they can pull. Dirk Dickwood had known Farthington for almost ten years, he knew exactly what he was doing and based on his parting words, he was certain it was working.
Cecilworth sits down in front of the bright glare of a fresh, clean laptop screen, the blinding light almost distracting him from.
Farthington: Journaling… that seemed to be the recommendation. Get the thoughts out on paper. I’m not rattled. He didn’t rattle me. Delusional little fat fuck playing babby’s first mind games.
Cecilworth stares at the blinking cursor of an empty document. The cursor blinks back. The champion cracks his knuckles, hovering them over the keys and hoping that they’ll start doing their job.
I’m something of a fraud. Not for the reasons that the peons of the chattering classes seem to think. These grand designed conspiracies because their puny little brains just can’t quite accept that not only am I the World Heavyweight Champion but this reign is the longest in company history. I get it, for years people have seen the clown act, the buffoonery, the upwards of eighteen dollars, the battles over a briefcase, the assassination by KFC’s finest Colonel. Hell, one time I found myself in a cave with a yeti.
So this new reality can be quite upsetting to the untrained mind. It will “crack ping” a brain something fierce like a cat swallowing a pill designed to snap its brain in two.
No, that’s not the reason I’m a fraud. I earned my accolades. You don’t come out of a prison infirmary or a ninety seven minute long Iron Man match because you’re lazy. You don’t break HOW’s greatest monster’s arm because you’re overly possessive of your title.
I’m a fraud because of what I said just before me and Max Kael won the tag team titles. I’m a fraud because of what I told High Flyer before he almost stole away my World Heavyweight Championship while he wore a god damn straight jacket.
The eMpire would never descend into infighting? The eMpire would always stick together?
Foolish. No other word. I was straight up foolish.
I laughed at the Industry fighting each other in matches, called them another predictable alliance who were caught up in their own egos rather than the collective good. This idea of “spirited contests” amongst compatriots has never really stood well with me. If you believe in your friends, you celebrate their successes, you raise them up and you understand that their victories are your victories. You don’t start side eyeing their belt before they have a chance to wrap it around their waist. After all, if that’s how you feel, how are you different from any other jackal who forms the line behind a new champion.
We were supposed to be better than that.
The eMpire was supposed to be better than that. Maybe we were at the time. I know I was.
Max Kael won the HOW World Championship from Halitosis. On the road to last year’s War Games, I did not set my eyes on Max’s championship after all, his victory was OUR victory. I knew my role, I knew my responsibility. I was the ICON Champion and I was to retain that title for the Glory of the eMpire.
Times changes, motivations too. The shiny bald skull of Leecifer takes a few passive aggressive shots at his own son and what happens next…
Mike kills the family.
He promised us a new one, a big one, a better one. The Group of Death. Yet from minute one, GoD has stood for everything I fought against. Dan Ryan and Mike Best battling over the ICON Championship. LT and Max battling over the LSD in a brutal encounter that served no other purpose than for allies to weaken allies. Max Kael is playing the reluctant member of Lee Best’s War Games team and yet he has the power in his own hands to tell the old man to go fuck himself. He doesn’t though. He doesn’t because he’s not family. Never was. His own ego won’t let him be part of the collective.
“I just need to know.”
The feeling isn’t mutual.
The Group of Death is a clapping seal for Lee Best. A strong union is a fearful thing for a boss and instead of fighting the tide, surf has been the fuck up for dear ole GoD for months now. There’s no purpose, no mission, no vision. It has all the grand design of a fucking playpen. Battles between the members have been just as common as outside the group and when we are given the opportunity to join forces, we’ve shat the bed more often than not.
The family didn’t get bigger. The family died. A business arrangement was the replacement. Walmart. Fucking Walmart. No heart, no soul, just bargain savings on HOW’s finest athletes.
I suppose if you’ve got this far, you’re probably going to start feeling pretty smug Messrs. Kendrix and Unlikely. 24K came in strong, 24K looked to dominate the scene and I’m sure right now you’re hyped, jazzed and fisting each other over the sheer thought of doing Perfection and Andy Murray the favour of weakening us before War Games. GoD is in disarray, mistrust is rife.
I’m sure the upcoming bout was the talk of the icebox you’ve made your territory at the arena. I get it, you don’t want any heat to get in.
It’s funny though isn’t it. The last show before War Games, you have a Tag Team War Games to get ready for and you have been thrown on the altar of myself and Mike Best. Perfection is Dan Ryan’s latest goat and yet your own indentured servant seems to be able to ride off to the pay per view with as clean a bill of health as his sawdust knees will allow. Your contractually obliged stable mate skirts off free, just like he did when he robbed you of your tag team titles.
I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.
24K is strong. 24K is proud. 24K would never descend into infighting. You’re friends! Hell, maybe even family.
You stupid, stupid men. Family doesn’t exist. I know that now.
I’m a fucking businessman.
Saturday night, you are both going to pay the price of doing business. Maybe I’ll take pity, maybe I’ll let you both ride into War Games with both arms intact.
Then again, I never have given you a receipt for that little debut stunt, have I?