You know, that was the first time I’ve had fun in HOW since War Games.
Well, violent fun with Max Kael is it’s own kind of fun, but I mean, just joshin’, jokin’, havin’ a laugh in a studio with MJ.
Normal people fun.
What the hell is that word even.
If I met a normal person, I’d call him a freak. Cause everyone’s got an issue of something in their library. Most have a couple. Some have subscriptions.
Why am I talking about normal people?
Oh yes. Normal people are weird. They don’t exist, cause everyone’s crazy. I’m just diagnosed.
Where was I?
Oh yes. Airport. Heading to whatever city is on this ticket. Got a tag match with the Bandits.
It’s probably Chicago. It’s always Chicago.
I don’t care enough to check, but I know I’m at the right gate.
Oh wait. No. Wrong gate.
Wait. No, it was the right gate, and it is Chicago, but the airport just decided to play musical chairs. Great. Fucking Detroit. Is this Detroit? Why don’t I just go rent a car? Oh. No, this is Atlanta. How’d I make it to Atlanta? What was I doing yesterday?
Whatever. Look forward Jack. Nothing in the past can do anything but harm you.
Although there is the past glory. Reminiscing about the past. Nostalgia. It’s a hell of a drug. Time and nostalgia can make a rabid wolverine house broken.
Don’t worry about the past, don’t remind yourself about the past glories. Keep them where they belong.
Just… remind yourself how you used to get there.
Which reminds me. Where am I going? Gate C? Jeez. The other side of the terminal? That’s a lot of walking… At least they have those flat escalators that should be what every side walk is made out of. Why is that not the norm?
Focus. Get on the plane. Watch the videos Mary-Lynn loaded up on your laptop of this generations’ Legion of Dairy.
It’s the night of the show, Refueled XXVII. The pitch is already at a high fever. I can hear the hustle of the crew setting up the ring, some of the early fans arriving to tail gate.
I saw Flair’s car in the lot. They put us next to each other. Normally I would travel from arena to arena with my partner, but with the Flairs, well…
It’s kinda weird.
I mean, Eli and I straight up murdered each other at least four times. If my memory is correct. Granted that was 20 years ago, and a lot of things can happen in 15 years. Was it 10? No. Definitely 15, maybe 20. Although we had that cup of coffee eight years ago.
God damnit, focus.
I take that stupid pill Clarissa prescribed me as I push into the backstage locker room. Nod to Curt. I think his name is Dave but I call him Curt. It might be Mike.
Been here before, same as ever. Know where our locker is. Time to go there. Usually I’d hit up catering to see what tonight’s spread is like, but… gotta think differently to achieve different results.
I knock on my locker room door. I knock. On MY door. Why the…
So I open it.
And see Eli Flair sitting there. Looks like he’s stretching, looks like it hurts. I look around. MJF’s nowhere to be seen.
My eyeballs start to dart around like I’ve just been diagnosed with tourettes.
Her bag’s in the corner.
“Eli.” I say, trying to look past him. “Is your better half around?”
“She’s pacing, sir. Gettin’ her mind ready for the show,” replies Eli, “Five minutes, she’ll be back. Or ten. Somethin’ like that.”
I chuckle. Perfect. “So, uhm… Eli. I’ve been wanting to ask you… you’ve seen me out there… what exactly was I missing?”
Eli takes a deep breath. Never a good sign. “I really couldn’t say, sir – I mean, I’m seven years out from my swan song and you know the deal -when you’re out, you’re out. But it seems to me that this place is more of a cult than Merritt could’ve ever hoped for, and the boys that do the best are the ones that swear a blood oath. That ain’t exactly your MO, is it?”
“Oh no.” I shrug. “Yeah. I swear different kinds of blood oaths… But I meant, last week. It was a rhetorical question, cause I was missing YOU in my corner. I thought you were here for the two of us? For the team, right? I thought you’d be there for both of us, but I shoulda known, you’re just here for your daughter.” I’m petulant. I’m needy. Have you met a crazy person who’s not? “Who, by the by, is already better than you.”
He ducks his head, and runs his hand through his salt – and – pepper hair. “You ain’t wrong on that, sir. And I ain’t gonna lie to ya, I’m in HOW in and of itself for my kid. When I went all in, I didn’t know you two were gonna be a thing goin’ forward. But beyond that?”
Eli shrugs his shoulders. “We never had the conversation, and I’m not gonna insult you by assumin’ you wanted or needed me in your corner.”
A smirk forms at the edges of his mouth. “Besides, I’m an old fuck with bad knees. How fast you killed that kid last week, by the time your hand was raised I’d’ve been halfway to the ring at best.”
“Not wrong. On either account. You are kinda right about what I’ve been missing out there. Maybe I haven’t truly made this place my home, but can you blame me? I’ve called like, seven places home and vacationed in 50 more… I can count on one hand how many are still alive.” I solemnly speak to Eli, aging wrestler to aged out wrestler. “Just, only thing I want… keep me honest, will ya?”
He hesitates for just a second, but holds out his hand which I immediately shake.
“A few exploding cross incidents aside,” says Eli, “you and me, we’ve always been cool – and you’ve taken care’a my family. Whatever you need, kid – you got it.”
CUTTO: Black video Matte.
HIGH FLYER (V.O.):
Perspective is a funny thing.
FADE from black. High Flyer stands in front of a waving HOW flag, red97 bright and center. He cracks his fingers.
If you look at my career from the standpoint of High Octane Wrestling, you certainly would see a man who hasn’t reached his potential. A wrestler with all the talent in the world that’s holding himself back. When I look at myself now, I see that wrestler, staring back at me in the mirror. And I want to smash it, take the shattered glass shards, and gently skin the nearest person I can reach.
But I know that’s not a good thing to do. Unless I’m told I can. Then it’s exactly what I should be doing at that exact moment.
Flyer looks from side to side, confused.
Honestly, my moral compass is the people surrounding me. In MJF and Eli, I’ve got warriors, valiant fighters who will never back down. But ultimately, I have something I haven’t had much in my career.
Flyer crackes his knuckles together.
Flyer begins pacing.
You see, I’ve been reminiscing about the past a bit, trying to think of the thing I’m missing. And I’ve realized it’s not just one thing. It’s three. The first thing hit me front and center when MJ and I were booked against the Egg Bandits this week. Laughter. Pure unbridled joy. I was missing humor, comedy, I forgot that I didn’t just do wrestling because I was good at it. I’m a wrestler because I LOVE it, and I LOVE making people laugh. And just because I love to make people bleed at the same time and treat this all as serious business, doesn’t mean I have to take EVERYTHING so serious. I did pretty good at War Games doing just the opposite.
Flyer makes a large imaginary check mark motion.
Check one. Live a little. Enjoy life. STEP TWO. Surround myself with people I can call FAMILY. Cecilworth did it, and he’s been more successful than ever. Then again, that might just be until D-Ry and L show their true colors. But the truth of the matter, is that we as a society do better when we’re accountable to our peers. We do better when we have something besides ourselves to fight for. Now. I got that. I think. I hope. Seems promising in MJ. I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?
Flyer chuckles to himself.
STEP THREE. A place to call home. HOW is where I threw my bags at the end of a long day, ready to kick ass… but it hasn’t necessarily been my HOME. I’ve had too many over the years. I’ve learned not to get attached. Back in 2000, people said the only thing that would outlive a nuclear apocalypse would be cockroaches and the IWO. Back in 2005, no one saw Disney shutting the fWo down. In 2014, I mean, well, the writing was on the wall, but I’d been in the NFW for almost a decade at that point. I’m used to things coming to an end. I’ve wrestled in more feds than Zeb Martin’s even heard of. But at the end of the day… what’s the point in being somewhere if you don’t have your heart in it? I look at the Bandits, degenerates, no doubt, but they’ve found the key to survival.
Flyer leans forward.
Laughter. And yet, to survive is not to thrive. The key to thriving. The key to victory? It’s combining all three steps. It’s finding someone you can laugh with, even during the tough times. Finding someone you can trust, who is there for you. And it’s about heart, doing everything you can to persevere, to keep playing the game because the odds’ll eventually bein’ your favor.
Flyer rubs the back of his neck, trying to work out a stiffness.
You wanna know why I’m still wrestling twenty eight years later? How I’ve wrestled through two iterations of Dairy based squadrons and they both were idiots, and I expect a third in five years called the Yolk Society. Because no matter how hard it gets, no matter how often I slip and fall, how many times the bar gets reset…I keep picking myself back up, and reaching for the stars.
Flyer’s eyes dart to the upper left, in thought.
If I can teach MJF one thing…
Bandits, I’ll teach you guys too, if you’ll listen. That way, you’ll all be here in twenty years. And I’ll be the Eli Flair, walking down to the ring with a cane going “But my programs are on!” Lean in.
Flyer leans into the camera.
The key to becoming a legend?
Flyer looks behind him, goads the viewer to come closer to the screen and whispers.
Just. Keep. Going. Never stop. Don’t stop for anyone. Don’t stop for other people, don’t stop for the fans, don’t stop for yourself, don’t stop for your boss or injuries, don’t stop for pedestrians… just keep going. Keep fighting.
You guys taught me how to laugh again, how to love life, live it to its absolute fullest… And for that, I’ll let you have more than thirty five seconds of ring time. Cause I’m just that nice of a guy.
That being said, you can ignore everything I just said until after our match later tonight. Until you look back on it reflectively tomorrow and realize I was right all along… Cause you’ll fight, harder than you imagine you can, you’ll bleed sweat and wear yourself down, until your body fails you, or your spirit does. Or both. And when you think you can’t go any longer, you don’t have the wind or the energy, or the heart to go on, MJF or I will come out of nowhere and knock the last bit of will you have. In a daze you’ll hear our music and see our hands raised as we are pushed forward into whatever future may await us. You’ll think back to this interview… you’ll replay my lessons in your brain, and you’ll start to wonder about your fishing trip. You’ll think to yourself… Huh.
Flyer tilts his head to the side and looks up in an inquisitive manner.
Maybe I shoulda told better yolks.
Flyer just smirks as we fade out.