(FADEIN to an empty locker room, long after everybody’s left. Sitting on the bench, slumped over, is a man with a towel over his head. After a few moments, he pulls it off and wipes it face. We see it’s Eddie Patton. The towel has dried blood on it.)
PATTON: “Another night, another opportunity lost. Or perhaps I should stay stolen. Once again, Bobby Jack Windham, in his endless quest for self-glorification, has decided that lil’ ol’ me is worth all this trouble.
“Y’know, Bobby Jack, for a guy who’s totally convinced I’m nothin’, you sure do spend a lot of time worryin’ about me. Makin’ sure I can’t advance.
“Every step of the way. Every time I try to move FORWARD, Bobby Jack, there you are, hitting me with that Righteous Ring Bell o’ yours.
“But I’m not sittin’ here feelin’ sorry for myself, Bobby Jack.
“I’m sittin’ here thinkin’. Thinkin’ about you and me. About the steel cage. About righteous vengeance.
“I can’t claim to know what the Lord wants, Bobby Jack. I reckon I’ll leave that to smarter, holier men than me n’ you.
“But my destiny in Next Level Wrestling is just beginning. And there isn’t a goshdarn thing you can do about it. I didn’t come here to listen to you take the Lord’s name in vain. I didn’t come here to fight in cage matches with men who sneak attack me.
“Y’know, Bobby Jack… I thought we were even. I got one up on ‘ya after you got one up on me. But you just couldn’t let it go. You just couldn’t accept that some Podunk kid from Indiana could possibly get into a ring with a bona fide Windham and WIN.
“Well guess what, Bobby Jack.
“It don’t matter if it’s inside a cage or not. I ain’t afraid of you or anybody else. I might not have a fancy name or battle shoulderpads, but I spent my whole life gettin’ ready to put spinnin’ toe holds on men who were more concerned with their name than their craft.
“Yeah, you’re a pretty impressive specimen. You were a real big shot at Texas A&M. But just like everybody else, it don’t matter what you done now. This is a whole new ballgame. This is the Next Level.
“Me… I’m just startin’ to make my name. Define who I’ll be. What they’ll think of when they say my name.
“You might’ve robbed me twice already, Bobby Jack, but I’m done messin’ around. I’m done with your shenanigans. Done listenin’ to you preach to me.
“Every fan in attendance… every fan who supports our product by watching us on Pay Per View… they’re gonna get what they pay for. They’re gonna get what they want.
“And what they want, Bobby Jack, is for you to shut the heck up and quit preachin’ and start fightin’ like a REAL MAN. Cause until you do that, you ain’t squat. Just another false preacher. Seen plenty of those.
“Inside the cage, you ‘n I are gonna settle things once ‘n for all. I ain’t promisin’ victory, Bobby Jack. I’ll leave that to you and your pride.
“But I know every fan is gonna be cheerin’ me on. When things look their darkest… when the storm starts to rise… when you wanna strike with that holy vengeance… those fans are gonna make that deafenin’ roar…
“And that energy… that electricity.. is gonna vibrate in that arena. And we’re gonna FEEL IT.
“And YOU’RE gonna feel it, Bobby Jack.
“It’s the FUTURE of Next Level Wrestling.
“At Eye to an Eye… the future of NLW begins. Don’t worry, Bobby Jack… if you can’t feel it yet.
(CUT TO: Bobby Jack Windham, wearing a white 10-gallon cowboy hat, a jean jacket and a black T-shirt that reads CHRIST SAVES on it stands underneath the Sweetwater, Texas water tower.)
BJ: I know God is great because he has made ME great. God game me the strength of a bulldozer, the speed of a lightning bolt, the intelligence of a supercomputer and the last name of Windham.
That's why it has taken me so long... to come to terms with this. Of why I... the two-time Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's West Texas Athlete of the year... a three time NCAA champion... was handed a LOSS in his second professional match. Of why I was so forsaken, despite dedicatin' my life to Christ and his mission.
I've spent hours in prayer... askin' God why this tragedy befalled me... of why he chose ME to suffer as much as I have.
And then... then HE spoke to me.
It's became... I AM THE NEXT LEVEL.
It's because I have been chosen to lead this promotion... to lead the entire PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING INDUSTRY... to its next evolutionary step. I have been chosen... to SPREAK God's message. To show people how to live a proper life in the shadow of Christ. To be the hero and role model that everyone on this planet so desperately want... and even more desperately needs.
Eddie Patton, this has never been personal. I'm not a man who has hate in his heart.
But God sent you into my lahf for a reason. It would have been easy for me to simply destroy you and leave you as an afterthought. But HE sent you to me for a reason. For our match... it now has a PURPOSE. It has given me an even bigger pulpit to show my many gifts... and to spread the word of Christ to the unwashed...
And it has given me the opportunity to become what He has promised me that I should become.
Eddie Patton... you say that these people WANT to see you defeat me.
Eddie Patton, that may be true.
But, Eddie Patton... more importantly... these people NEED me to defeat you. For I will be there shepherd. For I will lead them to a higher calling. For I will lead them to their SALVATION and to a better life.
I am not a false preacher, Eddie Patton.
I am something else entirely.
I... am... The... Next... Level.
I... AM... THE... NEXT... LEVEL.
I! AM! THE! NEXT! LEVEL!
We meet at Eye for an Eye, Eddie Patton... but I fight for the only one who sees all.
(FADEIN to the cityscape of Hartford, Connecticut. CUTTO: Bushnell Park, where people walk their dogs and go running. A couple holds hands by the fountain. CUTTO: Eddie Patton running through the park in an Indiana University t-shirt and warm-up pants. The camera follows him for a few moments before he stops and catches his breath. He sits down at a bench and admires the serene view.)
PATTON: “When I signed a contract with Next Level Wrestling, I admit I was a little worried. Comin’ to the big city, where every corner brings another opportunity to sin, it’s enough to corrupt even a great man, and I ain’t ever claimed to be a great man.
“I know how lucky I am to get this opportunity. How they coulda picked a million other kids just like me. People with big names and big contracts. They could’ve passed me over ‘n just signed Carlos Canyeta. But they took a chance on me.
“I ain’t got the luxury of knowin’ anybody in the business or ridin’ anybody’s coattails to success. There wasn’t no fancy press conference when I signed my contract.
“And I ain’t complainin’. I know I should be down on my knees and thankin’ whoever’s up there for everything I’ve been blessed with.
“But I also don’t need to shove it down people’s throats, either. It ain’t my place to worry about the way a man worships. I guess that’s just one of the differences between me ‘n you, Bobby Jack.
“ That, of course, and I ain’t a lyin’, backstabbin’ cheater like yourself. You talk about character. About leadership.
“I ain’t seen such a thing from you since you started here in NLW. Just an angry, bigoted man full of hate. And jealousy.
“I ain’t tryin’ to save anybody, Bobby Jack.
“I just wanna go out there and put on the greatest spectacle under bright lights, so that one day, some kid can sit there and see how beautiful a flawlessly executed frog splash truly can be, and he can be inspired, like I was, to start that journey.
“Even if he ain’t got the right name or the right money. “
(The camera pans over and sees a couple getting into an argument. They begin screaming profanities at each other (which are beeped out) and when they realize the camera is on them, they stop and walk away… the camera pans back to Patton.)
PATTON: “I know the world ain’t a perfect place. I know there’s a lotta weird stuff goin’ on out there. And I ain’t tryin’ to judge anybody for it.
“But you, Bobby Jack... you just won’t let a sleepin’ dog lie. You gotta keep poke poke pokin’ me.
“I ain’t gonna get mad, Bobby Jack. I’ll leave that other men.
“Cause you can’t stop me from doing what I need to do. What I was BORN to do. To fill that arena with the same energy which I saw when I was a kid. To pass on that legacy. For the next generation.
“If I go out there, and I execute my plan, and I hit my spots, and I stay composed and calm, then I know I can be one of the best young wrestlers in the world.
“That’s what it’s all about, Bobby Jack. What you’ve forgotten with your Messiah Complex. It ain’t about you or me or your message.
It’s about those fans shellin’ out there hard-earned bucks to see the world’s greatest athletes put on the greatest show.
“We should be thankin’ our lucky stars we even get this chance, this opportunity, to do what so many others can’t. That we are the chosen few who carry the torch for all those who couldn’t make the journey.
“Would it kill ya to show even an ounce of gratitude, Bobby Jack? Wouldja die if you had to admit how lucky you’ve been?
“I reckon it just might.
“Well it don’t matter, cause the fact is, Bobby Jack, I AM grateful. And I AM lucky. And I know that I was one in a million to get here, to this match, to fight you, live on Pay-Per-View from Hartford, Connecticut, in front of millions of people.
“And if just bein’ there ain’t enough for you, Bobby Jack, if just having the chance to do all that isn’t enough for you or the Lord, then I reckon I’m sorry you’ll always be empty and sad inside.
“But I’m done lettin’ you drag me down with ya. I’m done lettin’ you push me around. I’m done lettin’ you point your finger at me.
“I ain’t a bad man, Bobby Jack, but I ain’t a field mouse, either. So you keep pointin’ and judgin’ and preachin’ and I’m gonna keep on runnin’ and trainin’ and practicin’.
(FADEIN to what appears to be a press room of some kind with a Next Level Wrestling: Eye for an Eye banner hanging behind a table. Eddie Patton sits at the press table dressed in street clothes and an “It’s Electric!” t-shirt. A slew of reporters sit with their hands raised. Patton calls on one of them.)
REPORTER: “Eddie, in your first match against Bobby Jack, you were rather soundly beaten. In your second match, you manage to eek out a victory. Why do you suppose your performance varied so much between matches?”
PATTON: “Every week, we go out there and give it our all. Some weeks, it’s enough. Others, it ain’t. I reckon I don’t really know what I did so differently. But I know after my first loss, I didn’t go home and cry to my mom and pops. I went out there and I trained and I learned. I executed. So when we got back into that ring, he wasn’t fightin’ the same man he was fightin’ before. He was fightin’ a man that had adapted and changed.”
(He calls on another reporter.)
REPORTER: “Given the larger than life wrestlers like Magnus Destructo, Wanderlust, and Vic Gravender, how do you think you’ll hold up in NLW long-term? Are you concerned about injury?”
PATTON: “Every wrestler has to worry about injury. There ain’t no offseason to rest. You go out there, you do your job, and you try to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wanderlust or Magnus Destructo. I know they’re dangerous men. I know they’ll tear me to pieces if I let ‘em.
“I also know that a lot of these guys come from crazy places and wear insane outfits with spikes and would love to eat my soul. Maybe I’m the weirdo here cause I’m just a man. But I can only be what I can be. If I can’t lead by example, as the man I am, than I don’t deserve to be out there, sellin’ t-shirts and tickets, and I certainly don’t deserve the adoration of anybody at home.”
(He calls on another.)
REPORTER: “Do you think today’s wrestling fans can even appreciate a more technical wrestling style? Or has the rise of hardcore and behemoths essentially destroyed more old school, technical styles?”
PATTON: “Well if ya look at the NLW roster, I suspect you’d have to say I don’t really belong here. The inmates are runnin’ the asylum and even the color commentator can’t go five minutes without some racial epithet.
“But I don’t measure myself by how other people act. The whole world could be full of these types of people and I ain’t gonna change. I’m gonna go out there and give the fans the absolute best style I can. And I know that even if I reach a couple of kids with a well-timed drop toe hold or a Russian leg sweep, then it was all worth it, cause that’s what got me goin’.”
(He calls on another.)
REPORTER: “Given all that Bobby Jack Windham has done to you, how are you going to handle him inside that ring? Do you think you can keep you composure with a guy who has cost you so much already?”
(Patton stops and thinks about this for a minute before answering.)
PATTON: “I ain’t gonna lie. I don’t have a ton of kind words for Mr. Windham. He’s a world-class athlete and he clearly comes from one of the great family dynasties of this sport.
“But truth be told, I ain’t got a lot of respect for the man himself. He’s a conniving little rat. And he goes behind people’s backs just to stab ‘em from behind. He talks about Jesus, but he should be talkin’ about Judas the way he acts.
“But I can’t let myself get dragged down to his level. I can’t let myself become another Bobby Jack Windham. Cause I gotta be Eddie Patton. That’s all I know how to be. If I try to be somethin’ else, somethin’ that ain’t true to myself, then not only am I lettin’ myself down, but I ain’t fulfillin’ my potential.
“Nobody ever said this was gonna be easy. I knew when I signed here that there was gonna be bad men with dark thoughts. And some of those men were gonna do everything they can to make my live a living Hell.
“But I also knew that if I kept my chin up, and I kept pushin’ and pushin’, that there ain’t nobody who can keep me down forever. Not a Windham, not a man named Magnus Destructo, not Impulse, not ANYBODY.
“The future of this sport is written in that ring today. And I’m gonna be one of the men who helps write it.
“And there ain’t anythin’ you or anybody else can do about it.
“Thank you all for coming today and I look forward to Eye for an Eye.”
(FADEOUT as the reporters try to ask more questions.)
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