Saturday, May 13th, 2023
Solex Ranch – Basement Gym
Solex snarls as he stares down the black, canvas heavy bag in front of him. His brows narrow with determination, creating canyon sized creases in his forehead. His eyes, locked onto the heavy bag with laser-like focus, rage with a fiery resolve. He clenches his fists with a white knuckled grip. Veins bulge out from underneath his skin, snaking their way along his arms and shoulders. A long light hangs in the center of the room casting a dim glow that gives off just enough light to cast a shadow Solex’s muscled frame that stretches across the concrete floor, bending up onto the mildew ridden wall of the basement gym of his Franklin, Tennessee ranch.
He raises his fists and throws a lightning fast left hand that slices through the air like a whisk in motion. The sound of bare knuckles thudding against the canvas-wrapped heavy bag reverberates through the room, echoing off the walls. Like rapid-fire, the sound of another punch – in perfect cadence – booms in. Solex’s fists dents the heavy bag with each powerful strike. Punch after punch lands flawlessly on the intended target, causing the heavy-bag to sway and recoil under the impact. Solex’s masterful striking is on full display as his relentless assault on the bag is the perfect blend of beauty and violence; a symphony of controlled aggression.
Punches, kicks and elbow strikes crash into the heavy bag relentlessly for three minutes until a timer blares a spine rattling alarm. Solex drops to a knee and stares down at the ground as he attempts to control his breathing. Sweat drips down from his forehead forming a small pool on the black rubber mat beneath him.
The weathered and calloused hands of Steve Solex’s dad, Dick, clapping together echo throughout the basement gym.
“I like it. Good work, son,” Dick says as he walks across the room and approaches his son.
It’s been a few weeks since Solex lost to Jace Parker Davidson and missed out on his opportunity to become the LSD Champion for the first time in his career. And it’s been even less time since he was named a War Games Captain; his first such honor. Solex is well aware of the importance of being a War Games Captain, and he knows his team has a great shot at winning. He didn’t want to call his dad back out to the ranch, but he knows if he wants to win himself a World Championship…this is the only way.
“Shut the fuck up you old bitch and grab me that towel,” Solex says, still breathing heavily and pointing to a towel hanging on a hook on the wall opposite him.
Dick smirks and walks over to the towel. He rips it from the wall causing the hook to flex and spring back into position. He casually tosses the towel to Solex, who catches it, allowing it to settle gently upon his shoulder. Dick then walks back over to his son, and takes a knee next to him, looking for a father-son moment.
“Ya’ know, I would never recommend this to you. I think you’re a fine athlete and a great competitor. I feel like you are going to become the next HOW World Heavyweight Champion. I have no issues saying that and believing it. You are the best in the world, whether people choose to admit it or not,” Dick says, his voice filled with pride and his chin high up in the air.
“And before I tell you this,” Dick continues. “I just want you to know how proud I am of you and how much you have accomplished.”
Solex looks up at his old man, his eyebrows narrowed and his jaw clenched tightly.
“Just fuckin’ spit it out old man. What the fuck do you want?” Solex interrupts, his anger extremely evident as he questions his dad.
“It’s not what I want, son. I don’t want this at all. But I think…I know…if you want to win this match. If you really want to win this match and bring home the HOW World Heavyweight Championship, you’re going to have to…”
Dick pauses and looks up at the ceiling as his eyes well up with tears. His hand begins to shake and he quickly grasps it with his other hand in an attempt to steady the involuntary shaking.
“Dude…if you don’t fucking say what’s on your mind…” Solex begins to shout as his frustration grows, but Dick interrupts him.
“You need to bring out Shawn Kutter!” Dick shouts.
Solex jumps to his feet, nearly knocking Dick to the floor in the process. Solex stares down at his old man, his eyes burning with range. He clenches both fists tightly as he fights off the urge to sock his old man right in the mouth.
“What the fuck did you just say?” Solex asks, as he grits his teeth.
Dick, still shaking uncontrollably, never looks up at his son.
“You need to bring out Shawn Kutter,” Dick repeats, this time in a much softer tone.
Solex scoffs and bursts into laughter, with an expression of total disbelief. After a second or two of fake laughter, Solex stops and asks, “You’re fuckin’…you’re serious, aren’t you?”
Again, Dick never looks up at his son and instead nods his head yet as he keep his eyes locked in on the floor.
Solex can’t believe what he’s hearing and starts to become a bit fidgety.
“I knew this was a fuckin’ mistake!” Solex blurts out, his voice filled with frustration and disappointment.
Without hesitation he turns and marches up the stairs as the scene fades to black.
Sunday, May 14th, 2023
Solex Ranch – Patio
The Tennessee sun beams down on the landscape of this beautiful Sunday afternoon. Solex and his veteran buddy Hank have been taking in the rays and hanging out on the patio deck for a few hours, talking shop. A bottle of whiskey is set on the glass table between the two men. Both of them have crystal glasses in front of them, half full with Tennessee’s finest whiskey. Solex laughs hysterically as Hank interrogates him about the upcoming War Games match.
“No shit, Sherlock. You should have never doubted me. Bergman was always going to fall in line, I just had to piss him off. I’m a mad scientist. I’m an evil fucking genius. When are you going to realize that? Not only did I get Joe Bergman to fly his ass back to the states, I got him to turn on Clay motherfuckin’ Byrd,” Solex chuckles as he slaps his knee.
Hank shakes his head and adjusts his trucker cap and through a grin says, “I do have to admit, that was some pretty brilliant shit.”
A smile tugs at the corner of Solex’s lips as he winks at his fellow combat veteran. “You’re goddamn right it was,” he declares.
“Yeah, you might be an evil genius of some kind, but I gotta ask…Darin Zion? I don’t know what the fuck your were thinking with that one,” Hank says as he lets off a sarcastic grin and shakes his head.
Solex raises an eyebrow and raises his crystal glass to his friend. The sun shines through the amber-colored, Tennessee-made whiskey. Solex admires the drink before tilting his elbow and taking a sip.
“I know you’re not gonna like this answer, Hank. And he’ll, a lot of people might call me crazy. But I gotta tell ya’, Darin Zion is the most underrated wrestler in all of HOW,” Solex affirms, raising both of his eye brows and widening his eyes.
Hank, caught off guard by Solex’s response, immediately jumps up from his chair like he has a rocket up his ass and begins to pace the patio deck with a look of disbelief.
“Ok, you’ve officially gone off the deep end, man”, Hank says, as he bends over and locks eyes with the MERCDAD.
Solex responds with another mischievous grin and once again, without missing a beat, raises his glass to him and takes another sip of the top-shelf whiskey.
“I said what I said, Hank. The kid never gets a fair shake around here and if I had to pick between Darin Zion and the likes of Scott Stevens or motherfuckin’ Scottywood, or…fuck, name any NERD you want too. I’d draft Darin Zion every day of the fuckin’ week over any one of those spineless pricks, and I’d do it twice on Sunday!” Solex says, his voice taking on an edge as his tone sharpens near the end of his statement.
Hank shakes his head, snatches his glass of whiskey from the table and downs it in one gulp. His eyes light up and he quickly inspects the glass.
“Damn, that’s some good shit,” he says before wiping his lips with the backside of his forearm.
“Pour me another,” Hank says as he slides his glass across the table to Solex.
Solex takes a beat and gives Hank a cross look before tipping out a couple fingers worth of the golden brown nectar from his crystal decanter.
“And what’s the deal with STRONK, man? Does that fuckin’ guy even speak English?” Hank asks, his voice becoming slurred from a little bit too much whiskey.
Solex shoot’s up from his chair and grabs Hank by the throat. He pulls his friend in tightly as he cuts off Hanks breathing with a white knuckled grip.
“You don’t say that man’s name unless accompanied by some motherfucking reverence, you understand me? I don’t give a flyin’ fuck how close you think we are…that’s my motherfucker right there. Working with him was the best thing I’ve done all year and up until just a couple of weeks ago, I was the number one wrestler in all of High Octane Wrestling,” Solex growls through clenched teeth.
Solex’s eyes burn with an intense fury as he locks eyes with Hank, guiding him down to his chair. Hank, red as can be, nervously nods that he understands as he calmly takes his seat. Solex, still seething, gradually releases his grip and allows Hank to finally catch his breath.
“Jesus H…” Hank begins, but is immediately cut off by Solex.
“Like I was saying. STRONK’s my fuckin’ guy, you don’t need to worry about him one fuckin’ bit. He’s got his size back and he’s got DOG. Do I need to say anything more?” Solex asks, condescendingly.
Hank instinctively rubs his throat trying to shake off the discomfort, but a sharp pain shoots down his throat with each swallow causing him to wince with great exaggeration which causes Solex to scoff in disgust.
“Weren’t you in fucking combat? Grow a` set, you fuckin’ pussy. Have some goddamn respect for yourself,” Solex mocks as he rolls his eyes in frustration.
Hank adjusts his posture, trying to get his bearings together and look a bit more manly than he currently does.
“Fuckin’ say it, before I choke your ass out completely this time,” Solex demands as he menacingly points a finger across the table at Hank.
Hank appears confused but he seemingly understands what Solex means.
“STRONK…” he begins tentatively, pausing for an uncomfortable moment.
Solex tilts his head, locks eyes with Hank and gives him a cross look.
“STRONK…” Solex prompts, guiding Hank along.
“STRONK is…” Hank says, but once again he pauses.
Solex begins to stand up but before he can push himself completely out of his chair Hank shouts out…
“STRONK IS GOOD!”
Solex casually sits back down, grinning from ear to ear.
“You’re goddamn right he is. And don’t you fuckin’ forget it,” Solex says, his tone noticeably lighter than before.
“You’re starting to act like that bitch Jace Parker Davidson over there,” Solex says as he lifts his glass to his lips and takes a sip of his whiskey.
Hank gives Solex a look like he wants to say something, but Solex gives him a look of death from across the table.
“Don’t you even fuckin’ start,” Solex blurts out before Hank can get a syllable out. “I know…that little bitch beat me at March to Glory. I know, he beat me in some dumb fuckin’ gimmick match and was handed the title by Michael Oliver Best. I know, I didn’t have what it took to get the job done that night. But you know what I did to Jace Parker Davidson?” Solex asks as he leans forward in his chair.
“What’s that?” Hank asks, his voice trembling with nervousness, clearly afraid of provoking another attack from Solex.
“I eliminated that sorry bitch from War Games last year, and this year…I’m going to fucking do it again. Honestly, that would mean almost as much to me as winning the whole fucking thing,” Solex proclaims as he drives his fists into his knees.
“You can’t be serious…as much as winning the whole thing? I mean, I’m sure it’s important, but it can’t be that important?” Hank questions, trying to get to the bottom of it.
Solex shakes his head and just stares blankly at Hank.
“You don’t get it man. My only loss this year has been to that thirsty, dumb fuck. Retribution…revenge…those are the things that drive me. Those are the things that I get up for in the morning. That’s why I hit the pavement at four-thirty every motherfucking morning, no matter the weather. Eliminating Jace Parker Davidson from War Games is the reason I’m flying to Mexico tonight. I’m not going because Lee Best told me to. I’m not going because The Final Alliance needs me. I’m going because I want to defeat., humiliate and embarrass that walking, talking bag of monkey shit, Jace Parker Davidson,” Solex rants passionately before downing the rest of his whiskey.
“C’mon man, it can’t be that serious with him. You have to stay focused on the prize,” Hank insists, as his tone rises much higher than before.
Solex once again shakes his head. This time the weight of Hank’s stupidity seems to weigh him down. He leans forward in his chair and buries his face in his hands. Hank stares awkwardly at Solex, still a little wobbly from the mixture of whiskey and lack of oxygen.
“You’re either dense as fuck, or just plain fucking stupid, man,” Solex erupts out in a muffled shout from behind his hands, his voice riddled with frustration.
“But, I’m just…”
“Just get the fuck out, Hank. I can’t fuckin’ take it anymore,” Solex demands in a stern tone, pointing toward the back door of the house.
Hank slowly gets up and tries to plead once more with Solex, but Solex never looks up and continues to point to the door. Hank, like a college girl taking the walk of shame, slowly and softly stomps across the deck and into the house.
Solex leans back, his body tense with frustration, and takes in a deep breath as he tries to regain his composure. He then stretches across the table and grabs ahold of his crystal whiskey decanter. In one swift motion, he takes the lid off and chucks it behind him, shattering it into countless pieces across the patio.
“Fuck, I need new friends,” he mutters before taking a swig of whiskey straight from the decanter.
After taking a giant gulp of the 90-proof bourbon, he leans all the way back into his chair and stares up at the afternoon sky.
“Maybe Dick was right. Maybe I need a change. Maybe we need a change.”