(FADEIN on Eli Flair in silhouette. He's got a pretty well known profile, so it's obviously him. His body language states "I'm agitated," which is a sign that we should stay back and be neither seen nor heard.)
FLAIR: At no time was this meant to be fun.
So many wrestlers step back from the life when it's time, or after it's long past due, then continually make short term comebacks, hoping to get a bit'a money and a little more of the spotlight. This can be due to ego, desperation, or a thousand other things.
One thing that all those reasons have in common is that they're usually accompanied by one great match - if you're lucky - and a lotta atrocious abortions with no business hangin' around a wrestling ring except to ring the bell. But they get paid their millions 'cuz their name can bring some people in, and they get the token applause when they go through the motions, play to the crowd a bit, and hit their finish. Think I'm wrong? I defy you to come up with a better explanation for the overblown reaction that Lint Douglas had during his very mediocre and forgettable Ultratitle run.
But it's human nature. Right now, Axl Rose could reform the original Guns 'n Roses lineup, walk out onstage, play 'Welcome to the Jungle,' take a shit on the crowd, and they'd be sold out for months in advance. People would fight for the front of the pit in hopes of catching an Axl shart.
Which brings me to me.
I haven't lived up to what I wanted to do here in the EPW. I know most'a the fans haven't noticed; they saw me demolish Aaron Jones, they saw me kick ass but be a non-factor in the four way. What they saw probably made 'em think that ol' Eli Flair is about 85 - t' - 90 percent'a what he was or could be, they appreciate the fact that I'm out there still doin' it up, and they're applaudin' 'cuz everyone's heart is in the right place.
First of all, my heart's never in the right place. I don't do much for sentimentality or nostalgia when it comes t'the wrestling business. The past is the past and it should be respected, but hey, facts are facts, if y'can't produce, fuck you, get outta the way, 'n let those who can, do.
I know I can, but I've done fuck all so far t'show the EPW. This changes now.
One'a my points'a pride in a career that's spanned eighteen years with the occasional break for healing injuries, taking personal time, and officially retiring, is that I've never ever coasted. I don't step into the ring unless I'm prepared t'leave every single bit'a myself inside. And I'm fully prepared t'leave every bit'a my opponent inside the ring as well, be it in one piece or several. I don't care if it's against Mike Heftel in front of six fans in a dark match or against Castor Strife in the Ultratitle Finals in front of twenty thousand paid and twenty million via pay per whatever; every match, for me, is the Wrestleverse main event.
So, I'd like to apologize in advance t'both Rocko Daymon 'n Christian Light, because once the lights hit, the music starts, and the bell rings, not only won't I give you any quarter or show you any mercy... but I'll honestly not care if you're able t'make it to Aggression 75.
Rocko Daymon. Verifiable living legend that's provin' it as we speak.
Christian Light. Along with 'Pulse, the absolute future'a this business.
And at least one'a you's gonna be a bloody smear by the end'a the night. Maybe both'a you.
But don't take it to heart; it's nothing personal.
(We’re at the Dojo, after hours. “The Ballad of Dwight Frye” is up next on the playlist. Our shot opens on the iconic view of ROCKO DAYMON, turned away from the camera, showing the masses the human mural of pain and sacrifice made up in ink and scar tissue stretched across the skin on his back. A towel comes draped over one shoulder, a sign of momentary rest in the wake of a job well done. His voice, like thunder, rumbles with ancient boldness that seems to roll on for miles...)
Two shows into this return campaign, and now I have just as many wins. I suppose I should be feeling pretty satisfied with that...
But... that's not the case.
(He pulls the towel off of the shoulder as he turns around to face the camera, tossing it off to the side before he crosses his broad arms over his chest and levels a god-like gaze upon the camera.)
I don’t ever want to feel satisfied... because once I’ve reached that point, it means I’ve stopped growing as a competitor. The way I see it, I can only be as good as my last match... and if I can’t keep raising the bar to my own personal set of standards, then I’d be setting myself up to fall behind. It’s a competitive sport right now... but in order to stay one step ahead of the game, I have to keep myself in a state of constant and gradual development.
And yes, I believe that even legends of all ages and experiences have room for improvement. As I’ve said before, I didn’t come back to Empire Pro to simply live up to a legacy. Rather, I’m here to surpass everything that was ever known about me. But in order to do that, I can’t let myself get comfortable... because there’s still a lot of work to be done, and it only gets harder from here on out.
Don’t get me wrong... a win is a win, and I’m happy to have it. And though I managed to triumph over three other contenders in that four corners match back at Aggression 73, I didn’t truly feel that I carried myself in that ring a clip above the rest. Yeah, I took the punishment, I refused to give in, and eked out the win once the opportunity was there... but that’s the same old song and dance when it comes to Rocko Daymon. I didn’t prove anything that every fan of Empire Pro doesn't already know to be true.
The world already knows me as the man that refuses to die... but now I want them to see the other side of that man. I want them to see the part of me that refuses to hold back when the smell of blood is in the air. I want them to see the Legend, the Myth, the MAN give as much as he receives.
Hence, the next leg of this endless journey... Aggression 74.
(The Paragon of Professional Wrestling Excellence strokes his regal beard as he stoically ponders his next challenge.)
In one hand, there’s Christian Light... a figure who has quickly gained my admiration in the short time he’s been a part of Empire Pro with his presence inside the ring and his manner on the stick. And yet, despite how he very much seemed in line to put Boogie Smallz in his place, he stumbled in his own path at Unleashed. Now he’s pressed to prove his commitment to this federation.
Then there’s Eli Flair, who I had the pleasure of tangling with for the first time back in Oklahoma City. It would appear he’s trying to shake disappointment with himself for what he sees as not giving the full one-hundred percent as advertised. Could have fooled me, after that match... but it’s a fair assessment. Flair came into Empire Pro with high expectations, and despite what I felt to be a spirited battle back at Aggression 73, I would understand if there were some who would feel he has yet to meet them.
Like me... they’re not satisfied with what they’re putting forward. Like me, they intend to do something about it once the bell rings.
But... something gives me the feeling they’re on track for more disappointment. At least for this match of ours at Aggression 74. Not because either of them aren’t capable of doing exactly what they intend to do... but because unlike me, they have the misfortune of trying to get it done at the expense of Rocko Daymon.
(He negates this by holding his head down slightly, turning it once to the left, then to the right.)
...and I can’t abide by that.
Those guys are fighting to take back their identities. But me... I’m fighting to take back my Title. And when it comes to getting that done, then I can’t waste any time giving a damn about their frustrations or their struggles. I’ve dealt with enough frustration and struggle on my own end over these years, and through all of that, I refuse to be turned away at this point.
I had to sacrifice a lot to be the kind of competitor I am today, and to give myself this chance at redemption. We needn’t go down that dusty road again. But right now, I’m interested to know what the other guys in that locker room are willing to give up. What will they sacrifice in order to be greater than Rocko Daymon?
What will “King of Extreme” and “The Last Nighthawk” be willing to sacrifice, in order to stop me from carrying out the Mission at Aggression 74?
This time, I’m not going to bank on two guys distracting themselves with each other while I move in for the kill. This time, I intend to step up and prove that I AM the better contender in the federation’s talent pool.
Becoming a bloodstain on the mat doesn’t intimidate me. Even if that were the case, everybody still knows that my shoulder is going to pop off the mat before the three. Real question is, what happens after that inevitability? Because once that bloodstain picks itself right off mat and starts fighting back, nothing but trouble is in store for anyone who doesn’t have an answer.
There’s no stopping the avalanche once it’s already begun...
(Slowly, the former World Champion turns away from the camera, leaving the scene to fade out on the lasting image of his backpiece.)
(FADEIN on a table with two full shotglasses. It's pretty vague, what's in the glasses, but its a brown liquid that appears to be some form of scotch whisky.
In fact, I'll spoil it for you. It's a pair of shotglasses with single malt in 'em. They're picked up, almost in stereo, and just as quickly returned to the table, empty.
Pull back, and there are two people sitting at the table.
On the left is 'Total Elimination' Eli Flair, wearing a sleeveless 'Cupcake Club' T-Shirt and cargo shorts. On the right is Ivy McGinnis, in a spaghetti - strap black tank top under an unbuttoned New York Yankees home jersey.
We can't see the back but the smart money says the number is 37. Look it up.
She's also wearing black jeans and black sketchers with her legs crossed in front of her.)
ELI FLAIR: I'm callin' your bluff, Rocko.
The cards're on the table, and while you've been bettin' 'straight flush,' the reality'a the moment is that you've got nothin' but two small pair.
(He paused to allow the always - sophomoric Ivy to giggle at the double entendre.)
POISON IVY: No offense, of course. Happy accident.
(Ivy refilled the shots.)
FLAIR: What are you fighting for, Rocko? You're fighting for a thing. A thing that's won and lost seemingly at random sometimes, a thing that means more t'you than anything else in the world.
Is that fair?
FLAIR: By that token, you wanna win this match to get you closer to the thing, right? By that token, you'll need to be able to compete for the thing.
By that nature, Rocko, you'll never be able t'put it all into this match.
IVY: After all, what good is a title shot if you can't move your arms, am I right?
FLAIR: I ain't lookin' at the World Title, Rocko. Granted, I'm not an idiot - if I signed, earned, or was otherwise given a match against poor little brian I'd jump at the chance t'take his poor little title away.
IVY: 'Chance.' Way to be polite, E.
FLAIR: I try.
FLAIR: What am I willing to sacrifice t'win this match at Aggression, Rocko?
FLAIR: Now it's obvious our paths've never crossed before.
(CUTTO: A post - production flash - cut. Two seconds of hyperactive jumps featuring Eli Flair covered in blood against a variety of opponents.)
FLAIR: Not only am I prepared to sacrifice myself and the both'a you t'win this match, kiddo, but I'm prepared for this to be my last match. I've been prepared for my last match for nineteen years now; long as I leave it all in the ring I don't regret a bit of it.
IVY: Whether the EPW is your home, or whether you're just renting it from Sean, Rocko - you're looking down the road past Eli and Christian, and that's what's gonna cost ya.
FLAIR: I'm an accident, kiddo. I'm a by-product of subbornness mixed with grassroots activism, mixed with glue and homemade stitches. I was never s'pos'ta be the biggest name that ever came outta Greensboro, I was never s'pos'ta be the guy controllin' the ebb 'n flow of a company, and I sure as shit was never s'pos'ta even be a one time World Champion.
IVY: Let alone fifteen.
FLAIR: So the question, what'm I willing t'sacrifice to 'stop you from winning,' Rocko, is real simple. I'm willing t'sacrifice my career, your career, and Christian Light's career. The real question... what are you willing t'sacrifice?
If you're lookin' t'take back the EPW World Title, you're clearly not willing t'go as far as I am.
That's why you're gonna hit a detour at 74.
IVY: There's no stopping the avalanche once it's already begun, Rocko? You're wrong.
[We find ourselves on a field on a clear summer day. In the backround, tree branches full of green leaves dance in the breeze, while in the foreground, the grass is mostly steady, holding the green and white patterns of a painted football field.]
[And standing front and center, just behind a pile of footballs on the ground, is The Last Nighthawk himself. Christian Light is dressed in a black Steelers polo shirt with yellow trim on the collar, as well as some blue jeans and white football cleats. As he looks at the camera, he takes off his Aviator sunglasses and hangs them by the arm on the front of the polo shirt where the split in fabric meets.]
[Picking up a football, he cradles it in his hands as he speaks.]
“The Last Nighthawk” Christian Light: I love this time of year.
It’s a great opportunity for a good beach run, which I am a huge fan of.
With all the nice weather going on, its ideal to take a walk through the local park and picnic with the wife and kids.
But probably best of all, football preseason is in full swing. And while my favorite team lost their preseason opener, there's some positive that can be taken from it in that they're working out the kinks in their system.
[Christian cranks his arm back and fires the ball down the field. As he does, the camera shifts, and we see that he’s throwing to a young man in shorts and a Mepham high gray T-shirt. However, the throw is way over the young man’s head.]
Light[to the running young man]: Sorry, kid!
[Christian leans over and grabs another football as the camera shifts back to put him front and center.]
Light: There are a lot of ways that wrestling and football are similar, more so than most people realize. The comparison is usually there because of the physicality of both sports...both require men, usually of unusual size, to attack each other in some physical way, each other until one of them can't answer the bell, so to speak. In football, this results in broken plays, sacks, turnovers, or long touchdown drives. In wrestling, we trade in wins and losses, pinfalls and submissions. But the middle part is still the same: two or more people grappling with one another in as physical a way as possible in order to meet an end.
[Winding up, Light throws another pass to another streaking kid. It’s on target, but it hits the kid in the hands and falls to the ground, incomplete. Christian, sighing, picks up another football.]
Light: The wrestling and football comparisons can go on for days...pride in their sport, fame and sometimes fortune to the victors, a potentially hard life when it’s all said and done...but one thing that is also similar that people fail to pick up is that both football and wrestling have systems.
[Light uncorks another throw, a longer pass than the last two. This one falls short of the receiver. He leans over and grabs another football.]
Light: In football, the systems have to do with the type of people and type of plays that someone wants to run. For example, some teams embrace the fullback role, while others don't have a fullback on their team at all. In wrestling, people embrace different fighting styles and different training techniques to hone them into their own personal weapon of choice. In either sport, it's important to match the personnel to the system. Mike McCarthy uses an attacking 3-4, so having a 4-3 linebacker that specializes in zone coverage and cleaning up any edge runs isn't going to be a good fit. Likewise, If I tried to emulate a style like, say, Rezin, it wouldn’t be too effective. I don't have the size and agility to pull off a Rezinrana or a Damascus Heel with the necessary effectiveness it requires to win at the highest level.
Or the stomach to carry around that bucket of sludge, for that matter.
But with my combination of size, strength, and amateur wrestling background, it makes more sense for someone like me to have a hybrid power / grappling game. Not only am I naturally disposed to that type of fight, but I have the necessary training to pull it off.
[Light throws again, this time a swing pass to someone who catches it and runs with it down the sideline.]
Light: It takes a perfect merge of system and personnel to win consistently in football, and wrestling is no different. But the best match of fighter and system in the world does you no good if you cannot execute it to perfection.
And that's what separates my opponents this week from the rest of the pack. Not only do they have systems, they're able to execute them to perfection as well.
Rocko Daymon. A former EPW World Champion. Winner of his first two matches back in the Empire. Like Bruce Arians, I'm sure you're a man that could be successful wherever you go, because you have a system that works and you get the best out of yourself each and every time you step into the ring.
Eli Flair. The Dick LeBeau of the Empire. Heck of a run in Ultratitle 2012, and if my glance at your history is accurate, very successful the world over. And yet the only thing that you want is to keep looking forward, keep making every single day the best day of your career. I admire that kind of passion...and I hope that when I move along in my career, I can have that same kind of passion for continued success.
But who does that make me in this analogy of late-2000's Pittsburgh Steelers staff?
[Another pickup, another throw, and this time, it’s right on target down the field for a touchdown.]]
Light: Mike Tomlin.
Not because he’s the “head” coach. Not because he’s just somehow better than either of his coordinators; there’s evidence that the three treated each other as peers.
But because in two thousand seven, he was a relative new face to the scene. Fresh, hungry, and recognizing the challenge he would have in climbing to the top of the mountain in the world of the NFL.
I’m fresh, relatively speaking, to this scene. I’ve had a couple of matches, and I’ve been told it’s clear to anyone watching that my talent is there to make it happen. Heck, Eli Flair implied it himself.
But will that be enough to overcome my opponents’ seemingly unending thirst for victory by any means necessary?
[A pause, and a small chuckle from Christian Light. In the background, we see a bunch of young men in gray t-shirts and shorts take off running down the field, the throwing portion of this practice over. Whistles follow the running men, the sound trailing off in the distance. As this is happening, Light shakes his head, almost in disappointment.]
Light: With the two elite talents in front of me, I never in my wildest dreams thought the conversation would turn to who’s got the desire for the win. Really? That’s the big, burning question? Who wants it more?
Let me give you both the answer.
If either of you think you want this win more than me...then that man needs to see a neurologist. There aren’t words in a language known to humans that describe the desire I have to win this match. If I didn’t want to win this match...if I didn’t want to be the best that the Empire has to offer, I would have gotten in my van, driven home to Garden City,and spent the rest of my days retired from wrestling and enjoying the sight of my twins growing into productive members of society.
Why else did you think I signed on with the Empire? What, did you think I liked the sound of head trauma in the morning?
I hate it.
I hate hearing the ringing in my ears every time someone kicks me in the head. I can’t stand the double-vision, the headaches, and the long stays in emergency rooms nationwide.
But it’s all worth it for a chance to be the best.
Maybe that seems mundane to someone who’s won fifteen World titles, or who’s been to the top of the Empire mountain. But to me, it’s everything. To me, I’m fighting like my Empire Pro Wrestling career is on the line.
Because, moreso than either of you gentlemen, it is.
If Eli Flair had a bad match, they’d give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a 15 time World Champion, 2012 Ultratitle runner-up, and he’ll bounce back.
If Rocko Daymon, former World Champion and local legend, has a bad match, it’s OK, because he’s Rocko Daymon, he won a heck of a four-way last time, and he’s good for a better effort next time, we know that.
If I have a bad match...my second in a row...do you think they’d even think about picking up the phone and calling me back in?
I’ve won four World Titles over the years that I’d consider “major”. Five if you count the “Defiance Master of Wrestling” moniker. But none of those have any connection to the Empire. If I go out there and I let you two out-work me, out-hustle me, and beat me soundly...then I might as well say my final goodbyes to all the fans of the Empire, because that will be the last night darkening their doorstep.
I have no clout to stand on right now. My own fault for getting suckered into a bad situation in the IC Title four-way match, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.
But all that means is that I’m as hungry as anyone you can find anywhere in the world for this win.
And I know, in my heart, that if I stick to my system...if I stay within myself...that I can make it out of this match with my hand held high.
Light: Opportunities like this...Mike Tomlin knew they don’t come around too often. Especially with two extremely talented assistant coaches waiting in the wings should he fail.
He coached his tail off. He worked with the men he had...the personnel he had.
He grabbed opportunity by the short and curlies.
And he became the youngest man to win the Super Bowl.
He achieved greatness. Immortality, if you will.
And that’s the direction I want to be headed.
I will not stop until I become the best.
Now I don’t doubt what either of you have said. You both are hungry, for your own reasons. And I wouldn’t insult you by standing here and saying that you’re not as hungry as I am. What makes you great is that you have that same fire burning within you. Whether it’s your primary motivator or not, it’s always there, simmering under the surface.
So when you stand here and tell me, Eli, that you’ll sacrifice both of our careers to win this match, I believe you. And when you, Rocko, say that you want to be the man who’s never satisfied...who smells blood and strikes for it with all the power and the fury that is personified in an avalanche...I believe you.
But then...well, it seems we’re at an impasse of desire. We all want to win just as badly.
So then what’s the real question we should be asking ourselves?
Light: Who’s going to make the first major mistake?
[Light‘s look becomes deadly serious as he glances down at the camera.]
Light: If you value this match...if you value this win...then it better not be either of you.
Because there’s a certain man with a blonde flattop that will be waiting for his moment.
And he’ll put you out like flicking a light switch to take it.
ELI FLAIR: I think we understand each other, Christian.
I don't look at this as an opportunity to win a match, or to make a mark, or to prove something to Empire Pro Wrestling. I've won more matches than I can remember and lost more than you've had in total. Maybe I'll put you down and you'll stay down. Maybe I'll put you down and you'll take it'n gimmee your best shot. Maybe your best puts me down, and maybe it don't.
I wouldn't expect anything else.
But you make an assumption about a bad match, 'n the benefit'a the doubt.
At this point, a bad match means I don't belong anymore, and that's unacceptable to me. Like I said, I ain't here t'do the greatest hits. I ain't here t'make anyone feel good. I'm here t'take over this company from the inside out. I'm here t'stand in the middle'a the arena and listen to twenty thousand people chantin' my name, not because'a what I did last year, but because'a what I did in the last five minutes.
And if I can't, then I'm headin' out in a blaze'a glory.
You are not as old as ya feel, Christian - that's a load'a shit. You're as old as your passport says. The only recourse I have is to train harder.
So I'll either win this match in bold fashion, or one'a you two's gonna have t'kill me t'take me out. If there's one thing I can't stand it's bein' a bystander t'someone else's legacy.
Do. Don't watch.
So fuck your clout or lack thereof, Christian. Fuck the possibility'a Danno not givin' you a call back. Fuck the boys, fuck the fans, and fuck the entire wrestling business.
You make 'em remember you, and it won't matter if ya get'cher hand raised or if you're carted out on a stretcher after forty five seconds. That's where your football analogy falls to shit, kiddo.
I want this to happen for ya, Christian. I want the fans t'give you a standin' O when the match is over.
Cuz they're already gonna give 'em to me 'n Rocko, whether we've earned it or not.
Make 'em remember ya, kiddo - and y'never know what'll happen next. You could be headlinin' 75 against Jonesey for his belt, or the Boogie Man for his. They might even drop ya in with poor little brian and you'll be the next EPW World Champion.
They'll remember ya, kiddo - because we're gonna steal the show. You, me, Rocko... we're gonna make 'em wish they put us on last.
I'm going to win this match because I'm going to win this match. Because my time in the van ain't over.
But there ain't no reason why we all can't be rock stars.
(Shot fades in on ROCKO DAYMON, strapping up the gloves, sitting on the end of the bench in the locker room. It should be noted that he’s alone, because that’s just how we roll. We’re in the Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, just a little while before the show is about to begin. The man himself is in his standard silver and brown-trimmed trunks, eyes focused and mind clear.)
I suppose you could vaporize the mountain if you wanted to, Eli... but do you really think that’s a good idea?
Compare the one-point-one million tons of power the atomic bomb provides compared to, say... the twenty-four megaton explosion that was the result of Mount St. Helen’s blowing her cap.
I don’t often compare wrestling to poker, but if this all really came down to luck, are you sure you want to push yours when it comes to the Paragon of Professional Wrestling Excellence?
Am I speaking clearly enough?
(He finds the camera.)
Or maybe I’m just not speaking enough...
And, I have to admit, that’s been intentional on my part. These days, I tend think too many athletes spend time trying to argue points in front of cameras, rather than just doing what they should naturally be doing. I’m talking about proving it in the squared circle.
Thing is, my time is precious. I only speak when I feel the need to, and I only do so to provide inspiration to the federation.
So when I speak, I -- and I alone -- will make an effort to say only what I feel needs to be said.
And if you can’t fill in the blanks, Eli, then perhaps I sorely misjudged you.
On the other side of the spectrum, you seem to only want to speak in an effort point out how wrong I am. This is now the second time you’ve felt the need to address me personally in an effort to point out a flaw in my motivation. Now you’re jumping to the assumption that I’m looking past this match, because I’m making it clear what my intentions are.
Frankly, sir, I’m not here to argue. I’m only here to beat you.
That’s not to say I don’t respect your experience and your wisdom, Eli... but you only know what you know from battles outside of this federation. Until you actually live up to those promises of giving it your all, then I can’t help but take your message with a grain of salt. I’ve got years and years of my own experiences backing up my own level of confidence.
I could be wrong. But then again, so could you. You were certainly wrong about what you were going to bring at Aggression 73.
And you’re wrong right now, if you honestly believe I’m looking past you right now.
So why don’t we clear the air now, before that cocky attitude of yours crosses a line that can’t be uncrossed...
I realize I’ve spoken frequently about retaking the World Heavyweight Title... but I would trust you understand that when I say that, I’m only speaking about the direction every man is inevitably either consciously or unconsciously driven to when he comes to Empire Pro. But you seem to think that because it’s the only thing I care about... and that’s where you and your friend are wrong, amigo.
If it were just a matter of taking back the title, then I would have pulled the Sean Stevens card and got an immediate rematch the minute I walked back through the door. But that’s not how I roll. Champions define their legacies through their battles and their triumphs. For me, winning the World Heavyweight Title of Empire Pro wouldn’t mean anything, unless I knew I overcame the greatest talent in the federation at the time to climb my way up there.
And that’s where you come in, Eli. The moment you walked into Empire Pro and promised to win the belt in under a year, all before the bell even rang in your first match, you threw down the gauntlet. Here I am, picking it up. Winning the title wouldn’t matter unless I beat you first.
But I don’t need to set a timetable in a showy effort to impress the fans. They know its an inevitability, Eli... because unlike you, they were there with me through it, every step of the way. It doesn’t matter how long it takes... a few months... a few years...
(A few minutes?)
Anything is possible...
I’m patient... and practiced... and persistent. I intend to walk the path one match at a time... knowing full well what’s at stake every time I step through the ropes. All that talk about never coasting? Fighting every match like it’s your last? You don’t have to lecture me in that field, Eli... because I’m already an expert in my own right. Forgive me for not having adequate time to get a highlight reel together. Just think of your own, but with me in place of you, and EPW logos on the ring.
That’s how I defined my career. The reason I never felt the need to bring it up is because with a name like “the Undying”, it should pretty much go without saying. And I earned that name, because more than once in my career, I’ve left the ring convinced that I had just suffered my last match.
But I just kept comin’ back... like my own kind of freak of nature, never reaching a limit, but just growing and getting stronger with every cataclysmic battle.
Wrestling is my life, Eli. If you have the power to end my career, then by all means, try to end it if you think you can... but my career is not yours to sacrifice. I’ve given up too much to preserve it for this long, and if it means bringing an end to your own, then so be it.
Find yourself in the Cloverleaf, and I’ll break your spine. Kick out of the Brain Rocker, and I’ll keep driving you into the canvas until your head caves in. If that’s what it takes to get your condescending ass out of my federation and back behind the autograph tables at the wrestling conventions, then so the fuck be it.
Christian Light is correct when he predicts this will come down to the man who makes the first mistake. And right now, Eli, I’d say you’re that man... because while the two of us are walking into this battle with an open mind on what awaits us, you’re already convincing yourself you’re going to win just because you say you will.
(He shakes his finger to the camera.)
Fuck that noise. Not in my house.
I refuse to let you stroll in here and treat this federation that I’ve poured my soul into over the years like another notch in the great, almighty belt of “the King of Extreme”.
You came here looking at me as the man who beat the “great” Sean Stevens. If you don’t think I have the power to be the man that brings the “great” Eli Flair to his knees and to the final epiphany of his career, then you only go on to prove that after nineteen years of getting your ass kicked in rings across the world, there’s still plenty more punishment left to go around.
As I said... even legends can learn something new. And if I were to take you to your word, then I’d say you’re about to learn that your professional wrestling career is reaching it’s end here tonight, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(The end of the line for most of New York’s sports teams in post-season runs, for that matter.)
What am I really fighting for, Eli?
(He lifts his shoulders slightly. It’s not exactly a gesture of uncertainty, but it certainly seems as though the question has no answer.)
I couldn’t explain it to you in a single sitting, Eli... simply put.
It’s more than just the title. The fans... the federation... the boys back home... myself... all the good stuff. Mostly, though, I’m fighting for most of the same reasons you’re fighting: just to prove to myself that I still have it, and I’m not going to let anybody stand in my way to say otherwise.
Maybe you’ll come to learn more about it once we get in that ring again. I honestly hope it won’t have to come to ending your career, Eli, but if you’re going to bet all in, then I have no choice but to see it and call.
Go big, or go home...
(He slaps the EPW decal put up on the side of the wall.)
...this is MY home.
(Rising off the bench, Daymon exits the locker room, and the shot goes to black.)
“The Last Nighthawk” Christian Light:
You know, when I play Rock Band, I always liked to be the drummer.
Not at first. Nah, at first everyone wants to be lead guitar. But my buddy Joey, he’s a bit of a guitar freak, but I can understand that, considering he’s one of those guys that has posters of Slash and Randy Rhodes on his wall. He’s got a buddy who thinks of himself as some kind of smooth operator jazz-type singer, so that guy grabs the microphone every time.
So that left me with what passed for a drum set in the Rock Band universe...four colored “buttons” that look like the drum pads carried about by school kids when they do their drum lessons.
It’s funny at first, because when you think about it, the drummer is usually the least well-known member of the band. He’s always the one that sits there, gets a little crazy but no one notices because he’s behind a gigantic drum set, and he only really gets noticed when his lead singer points them out. Sometimes the drummer’s a bit shy, sometimes not so much. But when the performance starts, the audience’s attention drifts to the melodies of the lead singer or the guitar man.
The drummer gets forgotten amongst the noise.
But the funny part is, that’s not who I am at all, really. I’m out here commanding your attention right now. When I step into that ring, I will command two men’s attention, even if it’s just to become a target for their aggression. And if we steal the show like Eli says we will...then we’re going to command a whole lot of people’s attentions.
And I’m going to love every second of it.
Greatness is in the eye of the beholder. Greatness has some absolute properties, sure, but a large chunk of it is relative. Years from now, when all three of us are long gone from the Empire, the fans are going to look back on us, and they’re going to make the judgment on our greatness. The business is going to look back in the annuls of history and decide who they want to represent their company in some kind of Ring of Fame. Someday, we may even have someone come up in this business with the silly idea that they’re going to be the next Eli Flair or Rocko Daymon.
Or maybe even the next Christian Light.
You dismiss the fans, you tell me to “make ‘em remember you” and forget the rest, when really the two things are one and the same to some degree. Without the boys, without the business, without the fans chanting your name, there is only a portion of what we’re looking for. The glass is only half-empty, and we need more than just ourselves to fill the remainder.
And that’s where the next part comes in.
You want them to remember you, Eli. You want their adulation, and I can understand that completely; their cheers are more powerful a drug than any that can be conjured by nature or man.
But how will they remember you? What legacy will you leave for Aggression 74, when the curtain closes and it’s time for the rock band to get back in the van and move on to the next city?
Will they be talking about Eli Flair, the ageless Mick Jagger, continuing to roll on in his quest to continue to be the man?
Maybe. Much like you, there’s a reason Mick Jagger is world famous.
Will they be talking about Rocko Daymon, the mega-talented Keith Richards of this match, continuing to hammer out hit after hit after hit and rolling on victorious yet again?
Maybe. Rocko’s fire, his talent, and, should he win, his streak in the face of the toughest possible competition, is certainly admirable.
Or will they remember me?
Will they remember me setting the tone for this match much like Nils Pert sets the tone for Rush? Because...and I guess you could mark this as a spoiler alert...that’s part of my game plan for this match. For me to take advantage of your mistakes...I have to force your hand, and make you make decisions you may not want to make in that ring. I have to push you in the direction I want you to go, because I’m pretty confident you two won’t make too many unforced errors. If I’m going to win this match, it has to go, by and large, by my rhythm.
You say make ‘em remember me, Eli?
If I have my way, I’m going to take it one step further. They’ll remember how I made this match my own.
They may come to see Mick Jagger. They may come to see Keith Richards. They may chant both of your names during the show, and in the end, one of you two may stand victorious.
But as they’re walking out to their cars...as they return home to their everyday lives, I promise you that some of those fans...you know, the ones that came to see Mick and Keith, not only will they remember Nils name...
...they’ll remember the legendary Pert Roll.
See you at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, gentlemen. May the best man win.
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