(We open on a lecture hall at the University of Alberta. Stylin' Kyle Roberts is writing upon a whiteboard, but his body is obscuring whatever he's marking down. He turns around.)
KYLE ROBERTS: Oh, hello, there. You've just caught me just taking care of some business. Now that we're in the MCW tag team finals, we just had to cross another one of our defeated opponents off our list.
(Kyle steps to the side, where we see the following text on the whiteboard:
The Highland Park Social Club
Brian Bruno/Simply Beautiful
The first two teams are already struck out. Kyle crosses the last team out, and then adds "BLITZ" to the board.)
Well, it comes down to two teams. The New and Improved D-X and BLITZ. Man, won't that be one for the ages? BLITZ, a tag team that held their company's tag team titles for a year, defending it against other deserving teams. The New and Improved D-X, a team that, while not champions for an entire year, gained these belts four times within one year. Pretty impressive, no? The New and Improved D-X, a team who has been undefeated outside the NAPW in interfederation competitions, whether it was the Dupree Cup, or the MCW Tag Tournament. BLITZ, a team who has been undefeated in this tournament as well--
BRUCE RICHARDS:(walking on) I think that goes without saying. The only way you can get to the finals here is to be undefeated.
KYLE ROBERTS: The way the first round went, maybe the Celtic Assassins could have been voted in after losing more. Stupid jerk teams that can't find their way to California. DUH! Just go west as far as you can possibly go, dumbasses! Then, once the roads lead to water? Go as far south as you can possibly go before you hit the border!
BRUCE RICHARDS: It wasn't a matter of direction.
KYLE ROBERTS: It was a matter of being stupid idiots! Seriously, if we can manage to fly from Canada to get here and deal with customs, any team based in America can find their way to L.A.!
BRUCE RICHARDS:(looking at the whiteboard) Updating?
KYLE ROBERTS: Yup. Hey, did you get that presentation made up?
BRUCE RICHARDS:(rolling his eyes) Did I get a presentation made up? Kyle, how long have you known me?
KYLE ROBERTS: I dunno. Four years?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Have you ever known me to be ill-prepared when it comes to presentations?
KYLE ROBERTS:(shrugs) It could happen.
(Bruce pushes a button beside the whiteboard, and the whiteboard pulls to the side to reveal a television screen.)
KYLE ROBERTS:(impressed) Ooooooooohhhhhh.
BRUCE RICHARDS: The university has a lot of cool things now. You can thank our government for all the new renovations.
(Bruce pulls out a wireless remote. He clicks, the TV turns on, and up pops a list of D-X's defeated opponents.)
BRUCE RICHARDS: BLITZ, you keep talking about how you're so powerful and speedy. Well, Kyle and I have made our living beating the odds against opponents.
KYLE ROBERTS: Bruce is a big guy, but yet, we find ourselves facing off against larger wrestlers. And winning.
(Click. A masked face in dreadlocks.)
BRUCE RICHARDS: The Predator. Seven feet tall. Three hundred and twenty-five pounds. A real monster, the phenomenon of the NAPW.
KYLE ROBERTS: That is, until the New and Improved D-X beat him handily, dented his mask with an Emerald Fusion, and sent him back to Parts Unknown. He's never been seen since.
BRUCE RICHARDS: He reminds me a lot of you, Jecht. Ferocious. Intimidating. And once he's down? It's took him a while to get back up. Too bad Kyle and I never gave him the chance.
(Click. A large mug, a huge grin, and a blue cap that reads "Edmonton Delivery Service.")
BRUCE RICHARDS: Delivery Man #1. Former NAPW tag team champion. Now, he's not quite as tall or as heavy as you two, but he's a bruiser. Luckily for me, so am I.
(Click. A weatherbeaten face, a crew cut of silver grey hair.)
KYLE ROBERTS: Kenny Krenshov. Six foot nine. Three hundred and sixty eight pounds! Compared to this guy? The Predator's a girl! So what happens when this guy gets angry during a match? He starts punching the **** out of Bruce. And Bruce "The Beast" Richards, even though the guy's got a hundred pounds on him? Bruce starts punching back. No quarter given.
BRUCE RICHARDS: I really felt that one.
(Click. A team we all know. Bobby O'Brady, Al Thoes. Grimacing into the camera.)
KYLE ROBERTS: Look, Bruce and I know you beat these two. But they took you to the limit. Thirty minutes, and from what I remember, it was a true battle of wits. A clash of titans! But, really, guys, you were facing off against the NAPW tag team champs! And this time, you'll be going up against the two men that managed to regain these belts from them.
Let's face it. We all know that there's a reason it's BLITZ against the New and Improved D-X. Because we beat three other teams to get here. Were they all competitive matches? HELLS no! But that's the whole point of tournaments, to weed out the losers.
BRUCE RICHARDS: What have I seen so far in this tournament? I've seen the Highland Park Social Club fall. You keep saying that it was a different version than the team that beat you for those Empire Pro tag belts. But honestly, it's taken you how many months to get into a position where you can get a rematch?
KYLE ROBERTS: God, I really hope for your sake that it's a different version of the Social Club, because the ones that faced us? Luh-AYME! I guess that's what you get for letting your manager fight for the belts.
And then there was Irishred and James Irish. Good guys. Good wrestlers. But when you're facing off against the New and Improved D-X, it's all about tag team strategy. And that's something we've got in spades!
BRUCE RICHARDS: Simply Beautiful and Brian Bruno. Both of them friends from NAPW. We had nothing against them, but they had nothing to give us. One Down & Dirty later, we get to the finals.
KYLE ROBERTS: So now you guys really can't moan and ***** about your competition. Daddy's here, and he's come to pick up the pieces. You're big, I'll give you that. Hell, any three-hundred pound guy who can moonsault is going to be a pretty devastating encounter. But you're going up against the five-time NAPW champs! The men undefeated whenever we hit the ring in these events! You're fast? I'll bet you I'm faster. You're mean? Bruce has the ferocity of five wet wolverines! --
BRUCE RICHARDS:(trying to interject) What does that even mean?
KYLE ROBERTS: -- Your manager's crafty? Pffft. If he was so crafty, what the hell was he doing when he decided to help you defend your EPW titles? I do what needs to be done to get wins. Kyle Roberts is DAMN sure smarter than you. I've even got the t-shirt to prove it!
You'll be facing off against Bruce Richards, future NAPW heavyweight champion! Kyle Roberts! The biggest rock star the world will have ever seen! We are the team to beat in this here competition, BLITZ! My only concern is how the hell I'm going to able to Emerald Fusion one of you!
BRUCE RICHARDS: You did it to The Predator. I'm sure with some training beforehand, you'll be able to get them up.
KYLE ROBERTS: You know what I'd love to see? A Chart Attack on Max. That would be sweet.
BRUCE RICHARDS: I'll do my best. BLITZ, I'll say this once again for you to understand: Kyle and I? We are the real deal in tag team wrestling. Sports journalists know it. Our own fed has acknowledged that two years running. Just because you're not familiar with the relatively new federation that is New Alberta Pro doesn't mean we're something to scoff at. We will be the competition you're looking for. I, for one, will be eager to face the challenge that Max and Jecht claim to be.
(Kyle and Bruce walk out of frame.)
BRUCE RICHARDS: "Biggest rock star," eh? Were you finally able to finish Guitar Hero on the medium difficulty?
Leonard knew what that meant. One more match. One more team, one more concerted effort, and the MCW Invitational Tournament would be over. Either the New and Improved DX would win, or Blitz would win. Either way, the fans were going to get a fantastic match. Tag team wrestling, on the up and up across the industry, was finally creating the buzz he always knew it could. The only thing that had stopped it was a lack of trust – companies preferred to give the main event spotlight to singles stars. They preferred to give the time to they had groomed the fans on – in this industry, you could make anyone a singles star given long enough.
Yes, there were advantages to singles wrestlers being the main event. It was easier – easier to do the plucky underdog story. Easier to make successful the big bad boss versus the disgruntled employee storyline. There were only two people needed to make the singles main event a success – you could add in other people, but keep the focus on two, so as long as they held their own, that was all that mattered. In tag team wrestling, though, there were always at least four people involved. The boss versus disgruntled employee storyline was all but impossible to do well – you could overrun it easily enough, but it would quickly become the employer plus lackey. Too much work. The cheers of the crowd, similarly, were not focused on the one name, but on the many – and that didn’t move as much merchandise.
Of course, there was another problem – the overuse of the good friends, better enemies bit. A tag team respected by the fans, supported, prematurely ended in a bitter dispute, because the two “couldn’t work together.” Be it egos getting in the way, a lack of communication, or just not being ready for life on the road together day in, day out, day back in again, day out again. It was tough – he’d been in the business a long time, seen many teams come and go. He’d seen enough teams fight each other – before matches! The constant fluctuation in tag teams was always a problem, always holding back the division. It had for too long been a dumping ground for singles wrestlers who management had nothing else for – put two random people together and have them fight for a bit. If they were big stars, give them the titles, ignore the rest of the division, and wonder why no-one cared about tag teams.
But recently, that had changed. Teams were staying together, not torn apart by jealousy. The tag team division was being placed progressively higher up the card, and there was a start, just a start, of feuds emerging where the focal point wasn’t the titles. The easy way was no longer being taken – risks were, and they were paying off.
And the Tag Team Invitational he and Latham had organised was paying untold dividends – not least to MCW’s bank balance. It was separating the wheat from the chaff – people could now look and see who the good tag teams were, who the great tag teams were. Sixteen teams, the crème de la crème of tag team wrestling, had come together, and shown what they could do. Yes, some had failed to turn up – but that was to be expected. Some people in the industry are just there to collect paycheques, and don’t care about the fans. He knew that. Unless you have them under strict contract, you were never going to get everyone to the arena on schedule – the booking of their home feds sometimes would not allow it. There was no way, for example, for a team to wrestle in Japan one night, then in Europe, then America against the very best the next and still give one hundred per cent. Still, he was pleased with how things had transpired. Yes, things could have gone a little better, but beggars can’t be choosers – and with how difficult it had been finding sponsors willing to support the event (simply because it was tag team wrestling), he certainly couldn’t exactly have been a chooser.
But the finals… the culmination not only of his work as an organiser, supporting Latham through the ups and downs, but also the culmination of his efforts with Blitz. He wasn’t surprised they were in the final – he always had every confidence in them. He knew deep down they knew what they were doing. But it still felt good to see them in this position. One match away from the ultimate summit of the industry – the highest peak. Yes, Empire Pro Wrestling was where the action was, where they still had unfinished difference with the true Highland Park Social Club, the three men it had taken to pin him to hand them their first loss in close to two years – but compared to the entire industry, one promotion is as nothing. He knew that. The industry had survived long before MCW, long before NAPW, long before UCW, A1E, or Empire Pro – and it would survive long after they had all held their final card. He was far from being stupid, and he knew that in order to be truly great, you had to be one of the best in the business. Win the title in one federation all you wanted, as many times in as short a space of time as you could think, it would only make you a small fish in a tadpole pond. To grow into the whale, you needed to swim in the ocean.
And that is what he’d helped Max and Paulo do. He started working with them, and took them all over the world. He took them on the road, through every independent league he could think of, for several years, with the sole purpose of proving there was not another team in any of those leagues who could hold a candle to them. And here, sitting as he was amongst the fruits of those endeavours, he smiled. In this room, where not many people had entered, was row upon row of title belts, trophies, photographs, lists, top hundreds with Blitz as number one. There were photos of signs held up at events – always booed, always in the minority, but there – signs that spoke of the respect the fans held the team in. Signs that showed that even though the fans may boo them in the match, they cared. They recognised the greatness of the two behemoths.
It had been a long road, but one that was almost at an end. Blitz were just one match away from achieving universal recognition – no more would people ask “Could they beat the best?” They would be the best. In just one match’s time.
“Mister Johnson,” Laura rapped her knuckle lightly against the door. “It’s time.”
[FADE IN. Leonard Johnson, the manager of the most dominant team in tag team wrestling, is standing in the middle of a Major Championship Wrestling ring in an empty arena. The camera zooms in, past the rows of chairs that are just waiting for the day when they’re occupied by rabid fans, baying for the blood and excitement that only MCW can offer, that only tag team wrestling can offer. Leonard, as always, is dressed smartly, wearing a dark suit, pale blue shirt, and blue silk tie, his shoes buffed to a shine. The light is from the houselights, and fills the scene with a familiar yet strange sensation – after all, the arena does look different with no fans]
LJ: So it’s come down to one final match. And FINALLY, the opposition has something to say. For the first time since Nakita Dahaka got planted in the middle of this ring for the pinfall, another team has decided to try and make this a challenge. And lest we forget, they’ve got a championship! As if we dare forget that, they’ve got the NAPW Tag Team Titles around their waist!
It’s a shame they can’t understand English or do some basic planning. If they could, then they’d have realised the mistakes they made in their little attempt at a vignette before the NAPW scriptwriters even set down to work.
But I suppose I can’t be all that surprised. They’ve fallen into the same trap as the Celtic Assassins, the same trap as Big Dog and Dan Ryan. The same trap as the Cameron Cruise Project, or the team of Christian Sands and Lindsay Troy.
They’re believing their own hype.
It’s rather a sad state of affairs, for example, when a team celebrates winning the tag team titles in the same division four times in one year. Let me repeat that – they won the NAPW tag team titles four times in one year. Now, ceteris paribus, how many times would you suppose they had lost those titles in that self same year? Or if not lost, then how many times were they without those belts?
Three at least, possibly four, from first winning them to final defence. Is that really supposed to be impressive? It’s like Richard Fleihr saying he’s a sixteen time World Champion – whose title history is more impressive, his, or Bob Backlund’s six years with the title? And which is harder to achieve, four title victories in one year in one federation, or holding the belts for over a year undefeated across the planet?
Yes, the World Tag Team Titles held formerly by Blitz were international titles.
But let’s ignore championships for now. Like I said, they’re not important in a match like this, in a tournament setting where the best compete. Let’s take a look at some of their ill-informed comments, the comments from this supposedly great team.
Let’s look at a bit of shared history – the Highland Park Social Club.
You want to know if there was a difference between the two men you faced and the three men it took to pin a manager? Yes, there was. You faced, as I recall, Chip Friendly and a non-entity known as Steven Shane. I, meanwhile, was being pinned by a man known as Slambo the Clown. Not my proudest moment, but one I was sadly forced into. The other member of the triumvant that we faced is called Richard Farnswirth, one of the better technical minds of the industry. Now, as for why I was in the match to begin with, as anyone who bothered to look beyond their own little world and do some research would know, Farnswirth and his team of lawyers managed to persuade Dan Ryan to have the three of them together in one match – but even then, they knew they couldn’t beat Max and Jecht. There was simply no way they could hope to survive Blitzkrieg. So, they also had myself added to the match – something Dan thought would go down well with the fans. I did try and get out of the match, but sadly I had already been advertised. So I had to compete – though to my credit, I survived far longer when forced into the ring than I had thought possible. After all, I’m the other side of forty, with far from the most athletic of backgrounds or bodies.
Now, as for the lack of a rematch, Dan spoke to me about it in the days after my hospital visit, and he had an idea – build the tag team division into something that had been lacking, the one thing Empire Pro had been lacking. For that, he asked that Blitz not take their rematch immediately, because it would be ultimately bad for business if Max and Jecht were booked two on two against the real HSPC, only to dismantle them in a matter of minutes. After all, a strong tag team division is one where one team is not destroying all the others week in and week out – a strong tag team division isn’t destroyed by two men on a regular basis as your namesakes did in Stamford. I’m sure we both agree with that. So, we’re jumping through hoops, knowing it’s just a matter of time until those belts are back around the waists of the two most dominant men in this industry.
Now, as for the list of names you’ve spouted – am I supposed to be impressed? Predator? Delivery Man number one? Krenshov? Not only have I seen larger men, I’ve also seen larger men than those fall. And the reason they fell?
Because as big as they are, they couldn’t wrestle. They had power, but nothing else. That’s what separates big men from big men – look at Leon White, or the recently deceased Scott Bigalow. Both very large men, who were also highly agile. Power, speed, and technical precision.
Now, let’s compare with Max and Jecht – power, check. Speed, check. Technical precision, check. No doubt you’re aware of their strength, whilst I don’t know of any other big-man who can outpace Max in the ring. The agility of the two men is, I’m sure you’ll admit, without question – no matter your size, it takes agility to pull off some of the moves these two manage with ease. I’ve seen people far smaller fail to even hit a somersault, let alone turn it into a neckbreaker in one of the most devastating single finishing moves in the industry.
Not to say you two aren’t without your own strengths. You two are certainly tough – to survive on raw potatoes for months on end, you have to be. But, it’s a shame that diet has withered your minds.
So you’re undefeated in TEAM and MCW events? Wow. So far that’s seven matches at most. A seven match undefeated streak… the sort of thing most decent wrestlers go through most weeks. You’re five time champions in NAPW – as if that means anything in a tournament which set airport metal detectors off with monotonous regularity.
Please. Max and Jecht outstrip you with every claim you make. Bigger men defeated, several times. Number of tag team titles throughout their careers – by a factor of almost twenty. Speed, I’m sure Max pound for pound has even you beaten – a three hundred pound man able to complete a hundred metre dash in under eleven seconds is a sight to behold. Undefeated streaks, experience, almost everything you could think of, Blitz are superior.
Which makes you the underdogs. And if your biggest concern is how to hit your finisher on either Max or Jecht, then you’re as deluded as the Celtic Assassins.
After all, how can you connect with an Emerald Fusion if you can’t even survive the Blitzkrieg?
“Cut! That’s a wrap.”
“Mister Johnson,” Laura politely asked through the dressing room door. “Matt Matteson called whilst you were taping, he was wondering if he could have an interview with you tomorrow?”
“Of course. Make it around lunchtime though, I’m travelling the rest of the week.”
“Certainly, Mister Johnson. Shall I have the car pick you up tomorrow at two thirty?”
OoC: sorry for leaving it so late, only just got a chance to sit down and work something out. Sorry ><
(An Edmonton elementary school playground. The weather is warm enough to still have snow, yet let the kids out to run around. Children are playing during recess, and the camera zooms in on three boys in particular. They look to be around twelve years old.)
JACK: So did you do that math assignment for Miss Murphy?
CURTIS: Nah, last night, I was playing some Gears of War. Never mind, I'll do it before class.
JACK: But the class is next period!
CURTIS: Look, I'll do it before she asks for the assignment, okay? There's still time.
OFFSCREEN VOICE:(from behind them) "There's still time." The classic phrase of the procrastinator.
(The boys turn around to see who's talking only to find...)
BOYS: The New and Improved D-X!
BRUCE RICHARDS: As always.
KYLE ROBERTS: So, you wait until the last minute to do stuff, too? Sounds like our good friends BLITZ.
BILLY: Who are they?
KYLE ROBERTS: Only the roughest, toughest tag team we've had to face in the MCW tournament. Or, that's what I hear. Problem is, while we're out here working hard to promote our match, they're nowhere to be found!
BRUCE RICHARDS: You see, boys, whether it's a matter of them not taking us seriously, or whether they simply think they've got better things to do, they seem to be procrastinating, just like Curtis with his match assignment.
(A title pops up on the screen: "A D-X PSA: Procrastination")
KYLE ROBERTS: Who are we to know for sure? Maybe they're in Cleveland! Or Bermuda! God, why can't we be in Bermuda, Bruce? It'd be so nice to jet away for a weekend. We could laze around on a beach letting the mocha-skinned hotties serve us drinks all day!
BRUCE RICHARDS: We fly down to Los Angeles tomorrow. You're not in the mood for California?
KYLE ROBERTS:(sighs) I'll take what I can get, I guess. Maybe I'll hook up with Eva Longoria if I get the chance.
BRUCE RICHARDS: You won't get the chance.
KYLE ROBERTS: Hey, she's into athletes, right? Well, who better an athlete than Stylin' Kyle Roberts?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Even if you DO meet her, even if she's remotely attracted to you, you think that Amy won't have something to say about it?
KYLE ROBERTS:(sullen) Sure, Bruce, just go ahead and ruin my dreams.
BRUCE RICHARDS: The point is, boys, if you're too lazy to do the tasks you need to do, like this math assignment, how are you going to learn the proper skills to make it out in the real world after school? If you become a businessman, you're going to need discipline to keep your appointments and get your work done when your bosses want you to. You'd be cheating yourself out of your life, Curtis.
KYLE ROBERTS: Just like BLITZ is cheating us out of actually seeming interested in the biggest match of the entire freakin' tournament! I swear, it takes those two muscle-bound lummoxes three days to form a sentence, but that's why they've got that manager! And if HE'S not willing to get his ass out and film a promo to promote our match for the MCW fans--
(D-X's manager, Bill Fleming, walks on screen.)
BILL FLEMING: They've posted.
KYLE ROBERTS:(in mid-rant) --What?
BILL FLEMING: You can stop filming your PSA on procrastination. They've filmed a promo. Well, at least, Johnson has.
KYLE ROBERTS: It's about bleedin' time!
* * *
(We cut to a coffee shop, where Fleming has his laptop out, playing the video promo that Leonard Johnson made.)
KYLE ROBERTS: ****.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Looks like we're in for a fight.
KYLE ROBERTS: ****!
BRUCE RICHARDS: I'll say this. The kind of talent that Leonard has must cost a pretty penny.
KYLE ROBERTS: We're doomed! The guy can talk CIRCLES around me! Seriously, we might as well pack it in right now! I'll join HIS side! Gimme the Kool-Aid, Leo, I'm all yours!
BRUCE RICHARDS: Calm down, Kyle.
KYLE ROBERTS: Calm down? We're going to get schooled by two mongoloids, and you're telling me to CALM DOWN?
BRUCE RICHARDS: You want to know what we're going to do against BLITZ in that match? We're going to go in there. We're going to fight them. We're going to win.
KYLE ROBERTS: Are you CRAZY? They're huge! They're fast! They've been around longer than us. Everything this guy says is the truth! We're the five-time NAPW tag champs, but that means that we just lost those titles four times!
BRUCE RICHARDS: It's true, we have. But every time we do, what happens? We get back on our feet, dust ourselves off, get right back in there and win it back. What Leonard Johnson forgets is that he's not dealing with any normal tag team. We're not the guys who accept losses. We're the hardest working tag team in the business, remember?
KYLE ROBERTS: We're going to have to bust our asses to keep up with those guys!
BRUCE RICHARDS: What's that? Have we lost this match already?
KYLE ROBERTS: Not right NOW. Once we hit that ring, though?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Once we hit that ring, we give them no quarter. We don't let up. Tag team wrestling at it's finest. Are you going to argue with Tom Holtzerman, the man who called us the most dominant tag team of the year? He gave US that credit, not BLITZ. And what about that website that named us the top tag team? Are they wrong too?
KYLE ROBERTS: Well, no.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Yes, at times we lose. Sometime we lose big matches. But that's because we let our guard down. We think the competition is too easy. Sound like anyone you know? It should, because, according to Johnson, we're the underdogs. We're that tag team that BLITZ is underestimating. We're the Celtic Assassins.
KYLE ROBERTS: What? No!
BRUCE RICHARDS: That's exactly what he's saying. The roles this time are reversed. So here's what we do: We act as the tag team unit that we are at our best. We get in that ring, and we just take them apart piece by piece.
KYLE ROBERTS: But they're mountains! Goliaths!
BRUCE RICHARDS: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Just make sure that you're not underneath when they do.
KYLE ROBERTS: Yeah, I see what you're getting at. If we don't let up, use all our tag tricks, this one's in the bag.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Precisely. If you fall for Leonard's spiel, then we're doomed. If you use it as incentive to beat these guys like David beat Goliath, it's a done deal. You see, Leonard can talk all he wants about how tag team wrestling is FINALLY getting its due. If he bothered to watch some tapes of NAPW, he'd see that tag team wrestling was big from the very beginning. That very first card, October 31st, 2005. What was the main event? It wasn't the NAPW Title match. Plague won the title before we even left the dressing room. And why was the NAPW Tag Title match the main event?
KYLE ROBERTS: Because the bookers saw how awesome and competitive we were?
BRUCE RICHARDS: You got it in one. The New and Improved D-X? We ARE tag team wrestling! Stylin' Kyle Roberts and Bruce "The Beast" Richards were the most over guys on the card, no matter if we were good or evil. We've been the main event on so many occasions. During this month's D-X gauntlet, every match in that run has been a main event. And this week in Los Angeles, we're going to show BLITZ exactly why we are the main eventers, right?
KYLE ROBERTS: I'm amazed, Bruce. You've completely changed my point of view on this one.
BRUCE RICHARDS: It's the only thing I could do. You're not a loser, and I'm damn sure not going to let you act like one. Because if you lose, we both lose. And that's not something I'm letting happen. Especially not to BLITZ. All Johnson's done is stoked the fire. Because now we've got something to prove.
KYLE ROBERTS: We couldn't prove we were better than fourteen other teams in this tournament, just because it was so easy. So now that we've actually got a challenge...
BRUCE RICHARDS: Well said, partner.
KYLE ROBERTS: What are we waiting for? Let's go train!
BRUCE RICHARDS: And then in Los Angeles, we go out there and show every North American wrestling fan why the New and Improved D-X is THE team to beat.
(Bruce, Kyle and Bill Fleming leave the table as we fade to black.)
[FADE IN. A corner café shop, quite serene and pleasant. Sitting at one of the tables, Leonard Johnson is talking to Matt Matteson, wrestling writer]
MM: Great. Well, first thanks for finding time to do this, I know how busy you are.
LJ: Not a problem.
MM: Now, let’s get straight to business. The MCW tag team invitational tournament is coming to a close, and you’ve been accused in a rather backhanded manner of leaving it late to promote the match. Would you like to respond?
LJ: I’m fully aware that some people may think it hypocritical of me after what I accused the Celtic Assassins of – saying nothing. After all, we’re only a matter of a few days away from the match itself, that I understand. However it was simply an inopportune time for someone as busy as I am to find enough time in the day to tape something that I considered to be decent and worthwhile. Yes, I could of done what the Celtic Assassins and New and Improved DX did and said absolutely nothing of merit, or in the case of the former absolutely nothing at all after an edited tape – but that would go against what I personally believe. If you’re going to do something, it has to be done well, or it’s not worth doing at all. As anyone who knows me will appreciate, I, Max and Jecht are all incredibly busy. Their independent dates are booked six months in advance, and we fulfil each of those without fail. There are numerous contract discussions for endorsements, as well as a vast quantity of correspondence which requires my personal attention, and an even larger number of possible business ventures – wrestling is not my only business concern. It is my primary concern, but not the only one I have. As such, I have to juggle things around or risk putting out something as poor as what we have seen from the NAPW contingent in this tournament to date.
MM: So you’re saying you didn’t have time?
LJ: Precisely. My average day, whether it be a weekday or weekend, involves over fourteen hours of work. In fact this interview is taking place because I have time between two engagements, one near here and the other in Japan, so I’m taking a break as I wait for my flight. Some of us do have more important things to do than be at the beck and call of the opposition, and whilst I know that Latham would normally be in constant contact the closer it got to the date of the event, he was aware that he would have promotional segments sent in. He knows that I am a professional, and will get to these things as and when I can. In fact, there is going to be another segment taped tomorrow, which will be sent to him as soon as it is done. If the representatives of NAPW had taken time to do any kind of research then they would have known I am a professional who has never not promoted a match.
MM: And what about Max and Jecht? Couldn’t they have done a segment?
LJ: Unfortunately they’ve been busy training and competing. As I said earlier, their appearances on the independent circuit, across the globe, are booked roughly six months in advance. Yes, we have been known to tape some segments at those events, but there are many companies, the majority in fact, who will not allow us to do so. As for whether we could have taped a segment in the gym, there was my schedule to consider. Because I could not guarantee something worthwhile, I was not comfortable putting out something that I had not had time to first consider.
MM: OK. Now, earlier today, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but your opponents put up a new segment.
LJ: I have seen it, yes.
MM: Then you’re aware they mentioned Tom Holzerman and ENN – any comments?
LJ: Only that people who believe the opinions of two bodies to be gospel when there is a greater body of the industry that has never even heard of the New and Improved DX, must be even more deluded than I first assumed.
MM: How do you mean? I mean, I’m not sure of anywhere that mentions Blitz as being the best in the big leagues…
LJ: And that’s the phrase – in the big leagues. Those that put out maybe one card a week, one a month, or whatever. Tom Holzerman, ENN, or even yourself, do not follow every federation across the planet. There’s no way you could. Now, in two thousand and six, how many matches do you think Max and Jecht had?
MM: I’m not sure.
LJ: In excess of two hundred and fifty. I don’t have the precise figures to hand, but I know we were away touring at least that long. Many of those matches were in front of crowds of hundreds or a few thousand, at most. Then there were also the matches in Empire Pro Wrestling, the early stages of this tournament, and special appearances in larger promotions in other countries. If you go on a win/loss record throughout the year, can you imagine how few matches Blitz lost?
MM: I’m guessing two?
LJ: You would be right. Once against Farnswirth, Slambo and Friendly, and again to Sergeant and Irish on an off day at the end of the year. That puts at a conservative guess, two hundred and forty eight victories in one year. Percentage wise, zero point eight per cent of their matches were lost.
MM: I didn’t know that.
LJ: Precisely. Blitz go on the road, win matches, and those matches go largely unreported outside of the local area. Yes, I could make a song and dance about how Blitz have defeated another team on the road, but what would that prove? That Blitz as we already know are the most dominant team in the industry. Even then though, people would question whether they were truly the most dominant team on the planet, because despite facing a large number of teams, they had not faced all of them. Now, to return to your question about them using the ENN rankings and Tom Holzerman’s personal rankings, neither is gospel. Neither Holzerman nor the ENN follows every single league in the industry – they quite simply don’t have the time nor the manpower. There are discrepancies between all “top” lists – one magazine in the United Kingdom, for example, had Samoa Joe in their top ten singles wrestlers for the year, but he does not rank inside the top two hundred and fifty list given by ENN. The industry is too wide to take any notice of lists or awards given by one or two bodies. Now, had every wrestling writer, or at least a majority, said they were the best team of the year, they might have something to back up their claims – but considering that most wrestling writers haven’t heard of them, then it’s safe to assume they’re either not the greatest as they claim, or they’re simply idiots.
MM: But couldn’t the same be said for Blitz not being the best?
LJ: Yes, I’m aware of that as well, which is part of the reason why Blitz tour as extensively as they do. If you look at figures throughout Blitz’s career, the number of people they have wrestled in front of, not including television figures, is in the millions. Millions of wrestling fans have seen at least one match involving Blitz live. Last year alone hundreds upon hundreds of millions of fans saw them dismantle another team – in person. Not on TV, but in person. Now, take TV figures into account, and you can see why most would say Blitz has the greater claim to dominance. They have gone forth into the ocean that is the wrestling industry and dominated; the New and Improved DX? They’ve felt content to sit in their pond from what I can see, barring two forays into the wider streams and brooks which feed the rivers and ocean of wrestling.
MM: OK. Now, if I can move you onto their comments about the state of tag team wrestling
LJ:[interrupting] Ah, yes. Their comments about how NAPW’s first card was main evented by the tag team match. First card of a new promotion somehow equates to tag team wrestling finally getting its due. I’m sorry, but that is one of the most asinine statements I’ve heard in this entire tournament, up there with the Celtic Assassins claims that they had a chance of winning when they said nothing in over five minutes of tape.
MM: Can you explain?
LJ: On the independent circuit, Blitz commonly feature in the main event. Tag team wrestling does on occasion feature as the main event on televised shows as well – however, does that mean tag team wrestling is the event? Does that mean tag team wrestling is being used correctly? Are bookers taking the chance with it? Where are the tag team only companies? Tag team wrestling is only now beginning to be taken seriously by a growing percentage of the industry. Are they seriously claiming that NAPW is the industry? Are they seriously stating that people tuned in to watch the first NAPW cards to see tag team wrestling? Yes, they may have main evented, and done so more frequently since, but their logic does not follow with reality. People are only now tuning in primarily to see tag team wrestling across the industry, and, as much as they may wish to claim otherwise, it is not because of the New and Improved DX, or some company that I’m sure over ninety per cent of wrestling fans have never heard of. It’s been a long and arduous process, but for whatever reason, and the MCW tournament is a great part of this, multiple companies are using tag teams more efficiently. They’re being seen as more than another attraction and are becoming the attraction.
MM: OK. Now, what do you think to them taking a narrow-view in their claims of wanting to be show, quote, every North American wrestling fan, end quote, that they’re the best?
LJ: I’m glad someone other than myself sees how narrow minded that is. Which is another reason I take Blitz on tour, across the globe. They have competed regularly in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia and the Pacific islands. They don’t limit themselves to one small part of the wrestling industry, but are dominant across the globe. The wrestling industry is bigger than NAPW, and is certainly bigger than North America – if anything, there are times when I would suggest that Japan is a better place for wrestling. Britain is fast growing, as are other European nations, and the hunger in the eyes of competitors around the world is far greater than the lethargic view you get in many so-called “big name teams” here in the United States, on guaranteed pay cheques. But that’s another debate entirely.
MM: And one we’d probably be in all day. OK. What about claims that Max and Jecht are underestimating Roberts and Bruce?
LJ: I don’t think that even needs answering. If Roberts and Bruce were as good as they think they are they would already know what I’m going to say – especially since it’s been said time after time after time.
MM: But do you think they actually thought of looking back at previous tapes? That does require professionalism.
LJ: True. I’m getting bored of saying it, but the truth seems to need repeating to get into their skulls. Max and Jecht have never underestimated another team. They’re professionals, and are going to go into this match as professionals. They’re going to go in and do what they always do. Professionals do not underestimate their opponents because they realise that’s the first step towards losing. How many matches have been lost because someone underestimated their opponent or overestimated their own ability? Countless. Max and Jecht will not allow that to happen to themselves – if they are beaten, then it was the better team on the night that won. The two of them will then get up, and act as professionals. Win or lose, once the final bell has sounded, that match can be forgotten, because it’s not important any more. What matters then is the next match. No quest for revenge, just another match.
MM: Excellent. Well, there’s a lot more I want to ask, but I know you’re busy, so I’ll leave it at that unless there’s anything else you want to add?
LJ: I don’t think for this match there’s currently anything else that needs saying. I’ll say more undoubtedly tomorrow though when I record the final segment.
MM: Brilliant, I look forward to it. Thanks again, Leonard.
LJ: I’m glad to have been able to help.
[At that, a black saloon car, a BMW to be more precise, pulls up outside the café. The nearside rear door opens, revealing Laura sitting there looking very smart. Wordlessly, Leonard stands, and walks over to the car]
LJ: Prompt as always.
Laura: Thank you, Mister Johnson. The plane leaves in four hours, check in time is one hour, so this should get us there with some time to spare. You also need to look over these documents before we land.
LJ: As always.
[Leonard takes the documents from her hand. She leans back across to her seat behind the driver, as Leonard enters the car, closing the door behind him. The car then pulls away, as we FADE OUT]
“Mister Johnson, there’s a Keichi Honda here to see you.”
The door opened, as Laura stepped back towards the crude desk that had been set up for her outside the dressing room. Standing in the opening, Leonard was first met with this slight Japanese businessman, dressed in a very formal, some might even say overly tight, two piece suit, with a white shirt and red tie.
“Please, Mister Honda, come in.”
“A pleasure to finally meet you, Mister Johnson,” the smaller man said as Leonard turned to let him enter the room.
“Yes, Mister Johnson?”
“You can take a break from the paperwork if you want. Could you also remind them that I want them here to talk about tonight’s match in an hour?”
“Yes, Mister Johnson,” she replied, gathering up the papers she had been reading into their folder, and placing it neatly into her bag. “Is there anything else you need?”
“No, you can take a break. You’ve earned it.” That was the truth – every time he’d looked at her since they boarded the plane the day before, she had been working over some papers or other. Her attention to detail had definitely had a positive effect on his business ventures, but he did worry that she might burn herself out – she was after all only eighteen years old, and most people her age burnt out after even half the work she’d done. He knew she also led an active social life, with many friends and a dedicated and loving partner, but he did not want her doing too much before she could handle it.
Slowly, he turned back into the dressing room, closing the door behind him. “Now, Mister Honda,” he began. “I hear you have a proposition for me?”
“Yes, Mister Johnson.” This man was formal and polite, Leonard would give him that. “I represent Pro Wrestling NOAH, and would like to extend an invitation to your team to come and work for us.”
“An interesting proposition,” Leonard responded. He, like anyone with more than a passing interest in Japanese wrestling, knew that NOAH was making in-roads towards becoming the number one promotion in Japan – New Japan was having trouble selling-out its traditional strongholds, leaving NOAH to do something All Japan had failed to do – outsell NJPW at the Tokyodome. “What terms would you like to offer?”
“As you know, Pro Wrestling NOAH has built a fine reputation in our six year history.” Great, thought Leonard; another longwinded spiel. “We have recently had a shift in all of our major championships, and are looking at strengthening our talent roster with the greatest talent we can find to make our company even greater. Mister Misawa’s mission when creating the company in two thousand was to successfully demonstrate modern professional wrestling as being homogenous, allowing those with talent rise to the top, no matter their origin, something he felt All Japan had failed to do for some time. To this end, he has asked me to offer you the following terms – naturally, a contest with our reigning GHC champions, currently Takeshi Morishima and Mohammed Yone…”
Leonard interrupted. “But I am assuming that Kenta Kobashi and Tamon Honda will be given a title opportunity once Kobashi returns?”
“You are aware of Kobashi’s cancer?” Honda sounded startled. Leonard had him.
“I do keep tabs on people who wish to use Blitz. For instance, I know your tag team scene does not have a history of gaijin wrestlers – you’ve only had three individual gaijin holding a belt.”
“Yes, but Mister Misawa wishes to assure you that this is changing. He sees your clients as an integral part of any future planning concerning the GHC Tag Team titles. He also wishes to extend an offer individually to Max to compete in singles competition, with a view to having him challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Misawa himself.”
“All well and good,” Leonard mused. “But I do have to wonder, financially, what would be his interest? How much are Blitz worth to him – would they be on a fixed salary, or on a tour basis?”
“Mister Misawa himself would have that information.”
“I see.” This was going to go nowhere. Honda, Leonard could tell, did not have enough authority to get what he was after – Leonard could tell by the fact he had brought a briefcase in with him that he was expecting to get Blitz signed to a contract. “It is very difficult for me to be able to answer positively concerning an offer that cannot be negotiated.”
“But Mister Misawa assures me that any financial offer he made would be most pleasing to you, Mister Johnson.” He almost stumbled over his words, rising slightly in his chair. This wasn’t a seasoned businessman like Leonard had hoped.
“That is easy to say, but I have to think what is already on the table for my clients.” He spoke slowly, not rushing, not varying his pitch – he was professional. He was in his business element. “They already have a contract with Empire Pro Wrestling which ties them to the company for the foreseeable future, and are being used as a hub for the growth of their tag team division. Major Championship Wrestling has clauses in their contract for the final match of the ongoing tournament that the winner will represent MCW when requested, and there are several other offers being discussed far more formally and with financial details to hand, including from AJPW and NJPW – Mister Mutoh has actually offered a very lucrative contract which would not tie us to his company alone, but obviously any contract from yourself would have to improve upon his offer, because we are not likely, given the current climate, to work extensively in Japan away from All Japan or New Japan should we sign a contract with either. It simply would not be in our economic interest – I assume that Mister Misawa would like an exclusive contract for our work in Japan?”
“I… I’m not sure, but I think that would be in the best interests of both parties would it not?”
“I’m afraid I have to say no. I do not see any point in further discussions until I can see the offer in front of me in writing – it would be like my signing a cheque which you would fill in the amount on later.”
“I’m sorry, I’m rather busy, and if you cannot provide me something in writing, then I’m going to have to ask you to get in touch with me when I am back in the United States. I’m sorry we couldn’t come to some form of agreement, but as you see, I cannot discuss something without knowing precisely what is on offer.”
“I see. I shall let Mister Misawa know what we have discussed.” And with that, rather swiftly and sheepishly, Keichi Honda left the room.
“Amateurs,” Leonard thought to himself as he walked over to the nearby table, picking up a folder and leafing through some of the contents. In actuality, the AJPW offer was not as lucrative as Leonard had implied – but nevertheless, the fact that NOAH had now joined the Japanese bidding war, publicly, would increase Blitz’s earning potential in this market. That was good enough.
[FADE IN. Leonard Johnson, along with Max and Jecht flanking him, is standing in front of an MCW logo. Leonard, as always, wears a suit, whilst Max and Jecht are each dressed to wrestle, arms folded, standing with their backs straight. It’s quite clear they’ve just come from the ring, with sweat glistening slightly from the heat of the bucket lights used to flood the ring, bathing it in an intense glow. The match itself had been largely formulaic for them, a relatively easy victory over two local Japanese wrestlers]
LJ: So it has finally come down to this. Tomorrow night, in Los Angeles, the final match of the Major Championship Wrestling Tag Team Invitational Tournament takes place, pitting the New and Improved DX against the only surviving team from the original Major Championship Wrestling run in two thousand and three. There is very little time left to prepare – training in the gym won’t do anything except risk injury at an inopportune time. Watching tapes will more than likely get you stuck in your ways when what is required now is lateral, quick thinking. Adaptation, determination, and skill are going to determine the outcome of this match.
It’s very exciting for the fans, isn’t it? After all, when the sixteen teams were announced, who would have considered this to be the final match? With the so-called greats that shared time in this tournament, one could have been forgiven for thinking that the Cameron Cruise Project, or Silver and GOLD, or the Highland Park Social Club, or Dan Ryan and Big Dog would have been more likely to conquer the opposition. Especially if you took what the wrestling writers were suggesting – that those four were the teams to beat. Yes, the New and Improved DX and Blitz were not in many eyes potential finalists – semi-finalists maybe, but not to this stage.
But that’s the difference between being called great, and actually being great. You can be called great without being able to back it up. Those that are called great have the world at their feet, given to them. Those that are called great have people fawning over them, singing their praises either for past accomplishments, or for simply being. Those that are called great go out and sing their accomplishments as if they mean something.
Those that are great go out there and get on with their dominance. That is what we have here. Max and Jecht – Blitz. The PERFECT combination of power and speed. A team that has gone through the supposed best in the industry and come away with victory. A team that gets on with their jobs without complaining, without feeling the need to show off their title collections, and without making the assumption that their opponents are underestimating them.
Jecht: To be honest, we couldn’t care less if our opponents want to underestimate us.
Max: They’re the ones who are going to be left broken in the ring.
LJ: All that matters to these two behemoths is being professional. Going into the ring and beating their opponents until the match is over.
Jecht: And if they can’t keep up with us, it’s their own damn fault when they’re bleeding and embarrassed.
LJ: But I’m sure that this match will be quite different. I hope I’m right in this assumption – that Richards and Bruce actually are more intelligent than they appear. I hope they aren’t going to be like the Celtic Assassins, or Big Dog and Dan Ryan, and are going to apply themselves to this match. This isn’t about NAPW or Empire Pro Wrestling. This is not about the World Tag Team Titles of Empire Pro Wrestling, or the Tag Team Championship in NAPW.
Jecht: This is about two teams wanting to beat each other.
Max: As all matches are. It does not matter if it is the main event or the opening match, wir focus exactly the same. Wir compete at the same level.
Jecht: One hundred per cent effort, from first bell to last. We don’t give a damn where our match is on the card, EVERY match is the same.
LJ: To give any less than one hundred per cent, to think that being in the main event somehow makes the match more important or special, that’s stupidity in its finest form.
But I’m going to make the assumption that they already know that. As the underdogs going into this match, they have to realise that every match has the same importance – your match wherever it is on the card is the main event for you. It’s the big stage, where you get to showcase your talents to the world, attracting, if you’re lucky, the kinds of offers I’ve been dealing with recently.
But… this match… I don’t see it being the crowning glory of the careers of Roberts and Bruce. Try as I might, I don’t see how they can win. Oh, they can give a good fight out there, but actually winning? No. They lack the power, the experience as a team, the focus – and most importantly, they lack the strategy. It’s all well and good just wailing away on someone until they can’t take it any longer, but that doesn’t work against people who know what they’re doing in there.
Jecht: It takes strategy. Looking at all your matches we’ve been able to find, you guys are pathetic when it comes to that. As bad as the Celtic Assassins – taking shots means nothing, and just hitting someone means NOTHING in the ring, ESPECIALLY when we can give it out ten times worse than you can.
Max: Du sagst dass du would need to use all your team tactics – you have nowhere near enough, Freundinen. Du meinst dass we think you the underdogs, that we are underestimating you as you have done other teams in your career? We are not going to let our guard down, because that is not what the best do.
LJ: Precisely. Max and Jecht know each other in the ring better than any other tag team partners in the industry – they have never argued with each other. They go out there and give it their best because that is what they are paid to do. They don’t think the competition is too easy once the bell sounds, they just go out there and go straight through them. Some offer more resistance than others, but sooner or later, they end up beaten and battered in the ring. Yes, they have bad days as anyone with the schedule would – but I guarantee you that you will not be so fortunate as to catch them on a bad day tomorrow night. You’ll have them on the same page, knowing what the other is planning, and preparing in their mind EXACTLY how to further cause you harm. Hell, with all the experience they have in this industry, there is NOTHING you can even throw at them that they haven’t seen. There are very few people who have been teaming as long as they have, and in NAPW, Empire Pro, New Era, A1E, MBE, UCW, or anywhere else you care to name that your beloved Tom Holzerman and ENN follow, you’ll be hard pressed to name ten wrestlers with more years experience than either of these two.
Everything is pointing at Max and Jecht to win, and rightly so. You two are the underdogs hoping, like the Celtic Assassins before you, for a Cinderella ending, where you get what you want. You’re seeking a fairytale ending where little David manages to topple Goliath.
Funny thing about fairystories – the one that finally won gets mentioned, and the dozens or hundreds that failed before them are just a statistic.
Prepare to be just another statistic. Another name beaten by the most powerful, the most experienced, the most DOMINANT team in professional wrestling today.
You two may be good in the pond you live in, and your first foray into the ocean may have some people talking – but this is not your time. Give it five years, and you might be greats. Until then, keep dreaming about hitting your finishers. Because there is no way you’ll survive the POWER and SPEED that will be brought to bear. One of you will simply be another casualty of lightning war.
“Excellent! That’s a wrap, let’s get this tape off to the States quick!” The technicians were already dismantling the set, the camera, and the lighting rig as Max, Paulo and Leonard started walking towards the dressing room. They pause at a table, Max and Jecht taking a bottle of water each and draining the contents as quickly as possible. From a nearby corridor, Laura starts to come over, a clipboard in hand, as the director comes over to talk to Leonard.
“Hey, Leonard! Just wanted to say it’s been great working with you guys today.”
“Thank you, it’s been a pleasure working with you too.”
“Thanks! I also wanna tell you I’m glad there’s still someone who can do those style skits – there’s not enough of them any more. I don’t care what people say, sometimes simple is better. Yeah you didn’t have the flashing titles, the techie gadgets, or the scripts, but that ain’t what’s important. I love the way you do these unscripted and don’t use heavy editing to polish it.”
“I’m simply more experienced with this than most people are. You pick up how to record off the cuff and not rely on tricks to make your message seem decent over the years.”
“Well, anyways, I gotta make sure all the gear is ready to ship back, Latham’s orders. Good luck tomorrow night!”
“Mister Johnson, the plane will be leaving in five hours. We should be at the arena early afternoon, between one and two pm.”
“Ja, frauline. Vielen dank.”
“The travel plans sure are a lot more comfortable these days,” Paulo laughed. “We springing for first class again?”
“Naturally,” Laura nodded, relaxing slightly as the director left the four of them alone. “It’s a direct flight, and I’ve ordered the usual catering provisions for the usual time at the arena. Is there anything else you would like me to do before we depart, Mister Johnson?”
He checked his watch. “The car will be here in an hour, correct?”
“Yes, Mister Johnson.”
“Call the office and have them forward everything that needs looking at to the venue for me, then I can’t think of anything else, no.”
“Of course, Mister Johnson.” With a quick tilt of the head to excuse herself, she hurried back towards the corridor, taking a cellphone from her pocket and dialling a number.
“You two should go get ready, we leave soon. I want you rested for the match.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Paulo said, moving towards the dressing room as Max rolled his neck, staying behind a few extra seconds.
(Bruce "The Beast" Richards and his manager Bill Fleming are on a jet airplane heading to California, for good or for ill, for the last time. Because they're in the last round of the MCW Tag Team Invitational. Not that they're terribly surprised, of course; anyone who thought The New & Improved D-X wasn't going to make it to the finals obviously hadn't been doing their homework. They're in first class, something they always felt they deserved but never really took advantage of, until now. They flew out in Business Class each time before, both to save money and their egos. But this time they felt they deserved a little recognition of their achievement, and to treat themselves to the best that United Airlines had to offer. Bruce Richards is in a charcoal grey suit and is nursing a glass of amber liquor; Bill Fleming is in a blue suit and is sipping a glass of champagne. Bruce, however, doesn't seem to be enjoying himself as much as one would have thought.)
BILL FLEMING: Man, this is pretty nice.
BRUCE RICHARDS: What, you've never flown first class before?
BILL FLEMING: Oh, sure I have. But only once. That was because I had to fly out to my grandmother's funeral, and I got a bereavement special because it was the only free seat on the airplane. This time it just feels nicer.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Well, I'd hope so. We're not flying out to a funeral, this time. (Swallows the last of his whiskey.) This is only slightly less depressing.
BILL FLEMING: What? You seemed pretty upbeat about things yesterday.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Yeah, I was. I had to be, to make things easier for Kyle. When Kyle's down, he needs someone to continually prop him up, or else he goes spiralling downwards and out of control. But the more I think about what Johnson said about us, the more it got under my skin. (Snaps his fingers.) Stewardess?
(A plain woman in a blue skirt and white blouse comes over.) FLIGHT ATTENDANT: We prefer to be called "flight attendants", sir.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Well, I prefer to be called Mr. Richards. But since I'm not wearing a nametag, and you (gesturing at her chest) seem to have misplaced yours, I guess we're stuck in this adversarial relationship, now, aren't we?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: My name's Carol, Mr. Richards.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Thank-you, Carol. Now, I was wondering if you could get me another one of those tiny bottles of scotch whiskey, please.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Certainly, sir. Now, would you care to make a selection for dinner? We have a beef tenderloin with a peppercorn cream sauce and pommes frites--
BRUCE RICHARDS: Sorry, no, I'm afraid all MY potatoes have to be RAW.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Oooooh-kay. Well then, we have steamed salmon with a lemon-dill butter sauce and grilled vegetables.
BRUCE RICHARDS: Grilled vegetables? You have a barbeque on this plane?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT:(Sighs and gives him "the eye".) Look, Mr. Richards. Those are your choices. I don't get paid enough to deal with your passive-aggressiveness and your partner's manic depression. I have over a hundred other passengers to deal with, all of whom are in less comfortable seats than you and yet are somehow better behaved. You want to make your choice now, or should I come back later?
BRUCE RICHARDS: ...Salmon please.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: And for you, sir?
BILL FLEMING: Same, thanks.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: All right, I'll be back with your drink in just a moment, Mr. Richards.
BILL FLEMING: Thanks, Carol. (To Bruce.) What the heck was that about?
BRUCE RICHARDS: I'm stressed out, okay?
BILL FLEMING: You're stressed out? Bruce, I'm stressed out every day, but you don't see me antagonizing people, do you?
BRUCE RICHARDS: To be fair, Bill, you're just much more polite than I am.
BILL FLEMING: Seriously, what's your problem?
BRUCE RICHARDS: That god-damn Leonard Johnson's pissing me off! It's like arguing with a brick wall! Everything he says and does completely nullifies anything we do, not because he's picking us apart or because he's making legitimate points, but because he's so ******* unwilling to even CONSIDER another opinion! (Doing a really bad impression of Blitz's manager.) "Mr. Johnson, what colour is the sky?" "I've been around the world five hundred times over. I've seen everything there is to see. I've fallen and gotten back up so many times that LifeCall should have used me as their spokesman. I know literally everything there is to know about everything, because I have seen every sight and had every experience there ever is. I built tag teams with my bare hands and the body parts of broken wrestlers that I've gathered up in my cross-country scavenger hunt. I am the best and smartest person in the world, because nobody has ever been able to prove me wrong. And I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that the sky is blue." "But Mr. Johnson, what if I told you that, based on the position of the clouds in the sky and due to pollution altering the refraction of light in certain areas, that the sky has actually appeared pink, or orange?" "Listen, friend, I don't think you heard me. The sky is blue. End of story" "How do you KNOW that?" "Because I've never seen a pink sky before, and I've seen everything." "How is that possible?" "Because I said so. I have seen everything. Have YOU seen everything?" "Uh, no." "Then how could you DARE insinuate that I haven't?" "Sir, this isn't even remotely logical."
"Logical? I've seen and done everything. My tag team has seen and done EVERYTHING. They've won AND lost. And I'm so ******* smug, and so completely unable to defend anything I say, I just act incredibly smooth and ignore anyone who refutes me, so they come off looking like chumps. And I've been doing this so long that I can make ridiculous statements, without any kind of basis, and then people automatically believe me." "That doesn't seem--" "The New & Improved D-X eat raw potatoes. I don't know what that has to do with the upcoming match or their wrestling ability, but it just sounds bad. Don't dispute me. Have you ever seen them NOT eat raw potatoes? Then you can't prove that they DON'T, can you? Furthermore, they don't look at the tapes. It’s true because said so. Don't bother to say they do their research, because I said they didn't. The New and Improved D-X only wrestles twice a week. Don't bother asking me why, it's when I see them on TV. No, there's no way they'd do house shows, because you never see them on TV when they're at house shows, do you? Therefore, they must only wrestle one third as much as Blitz does. It's a proven fact. In addition, let's ignore their claims to have defeated large, muscular people, because my team has also defeated different large, muscular people, so that can't even be possible. Don't worry about that not making any sense, because I have such a good grasp of the English language that you're stunned by my eloquence. Also, my team has magical powers that help them win matches, and a green sprite that talks to them in a bad English accent and gives them important advice. Don't dispute me."
(Carol comes back with the tiny bottle of whiskey.)
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Here you go, sir. And if I might suggest that be the last one? You're talking to yourself.
BRUCE RICHARDS: I was talking to Bill. (Gestures over at the seat beside him, which is empty.) Dammit, Fleming, you don't just walk away from me in the middle of a rant!
(Cut to Kyle Roberts, in his sharp green suit, standing in line for the airplane phone.)
KYLE ROBERTS: Stupid Blitz. Think they're so smart. Holding press conferences with leading questions and making us look bad. That's not fair! The New & Improved D-X makes other people look bad! WE always come off looking good! That's part of our charm! I'm not "Stylin' Kyle" because I look like some unwashed, unshaven hobo! (Scratches his stubbly chin.) I look like an unshaven fashion model. (Waves to Carol as she walks by.) Hey, Carol.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Mr. Roberts, sir, may I PLEASE have my vest back?
KYLE ROBERTS: Hey, don't get mad at me. You left your vest off when you went into the washroom to check out the "sink suction problem" with the co-pilot. I just figured I'd put it in a safer place than you did. It's not my fault you ignored flight safety in favour of "suction". (He grins.)
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Mr. Roberts. I've had to give your brooding partner a piece of my mind already--
KYLE ROBERTS: He's a real downer, huh?
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: Don't make me give YOU a piece of my fist.
KYLE ROBERTS: I'd prefer a piece of a--
FLIGHT ATTENDANT:(Grabbing him by the necktie.) Don't even finish that sentence.
KYLE ROBERTS: Gak! I could get you fired for--GAK!--for abuse!
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I don't care. It's my last ever shift. When I get to Los Angeles, I'm going to work for a travel agency and get out of this ridiculous profession. I've already got glowing references. I have nothing to lose. Now WHERE? Is my VEST?
KYLE ROBERTS: Overhead compartment. (Gestures.) Two rows down.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT:(Letting him down and straightening her hair.) Thank-you, Mr. Roberts. (She gestures to the telephone.) Phone's free.
KYLE ROBERTS:(Watching her as she walks away.) I think I'm in love. (Picks up the telephone and dials.) Blitz think they're so smart. Hooking themselves up with a Gordon Gecko-looking jerk who does all the talking for them! He's all talk and no action! Which means that Jecht and Max are no talk and all...don't think about it. Don't THINK about it. Just focus on the mission. Send Johnson on a wild goose chase, and then he won't be able to make D-X look like fools. Then we'll see who'll have the last laugh!
BILL FLEMING: Uh, Kyle? I need to talk to you and Bruce.
KYLE ROBERTS: Not now, Bill, I’m busy.
BILL FLEMING: Busy with?
KYLE ROBERTS: Leaving a crank phone call. (Claps his hand over his mouth.)
BILL FLEMING: For who?
KYLE ROBERTS: Nobody. (Into the phone.) Yes, Leonard Johnson’s office, please. (Claps his hand over his mouth again.)
BILL FLEMING:(Sighs.) Oh, come on, Kyle. I thought you and Bruce dealt with that already!
KYLE ROBERTS: I was just pretending, for both of our sakes. If I don’t act all upbeat and jolly at the end of one of Bruce’s little pep talks, he just keeps coming at me with it. I just smile and click my heels together, and he laves me alone.
BILL FLEMING: Oh, for Pete’s sake.
KYLE ROBERTS: And then I get to blow off some steam my own way. Like annoying flight attendants. Or stealing peanut bags. (Wiggles his eyebrows and pulls five or six bags of nuts out of his coat pocket.) Or making prank phone calls to the other team’s manager telling him that he’s needed off-continent. Like Japan or something.
BILL FLEMING: This can’t possibly work, Kyle. KYLE ROBERTS: You don’t know that! And even if it DOESN’T work, it makes me feel better. That guy’s a jerk, and if the only way I can get one over on him is with stupid crank phone calls, then that’s the way it’s going to be. NOBODY out-maneuvers Kyle Roberts! NOBODY!
BILL FLEMING: Kyle, this is ridiculous. We’re going to sit down and have a talk now.
KYLE ROBERTS: Yeah, whatever. Just a second, Bill—
BILL FLEMING: I don’t remember ASKING you if you wanted to come and have a talk! I said, we’re going to have a talk. I don’t want to hear any more of your excuses; I’m your manager and you will take my advice whenever I give it to you, and I’m giving it to you RIGHT NOW. Now, hang up that phone and sit back in your seat.
(Kyle stares at Bill, mouth agape. We hear what sounds like an answering machine message from the telephone receiver.)
(Cut to Kyle Roberts and Bruce Richards, sitting in their seats, slouching and looking unimpressed. Bill Fleming is standing in front of them, his arms crossed.)
KYLE ROBERTS: All right, Bill, we’re here. Now just get with the dumb speechifying, we’ll ignore you, and then we’ll get back to whatever we want to do.
BRUCE RICHARDS: More whiskey please!
BILL FLEMING: Kyle, Bruce, shut up.
KYLE ROBERTS: Blah de bla-
BILL FLEMING:(Not raising his voice, but in a very no-nonsense manner.) I said shut up. (Kyle and Bruce cram it.) Now, unless I missed a memo from you two telling me that my services are no longer required, I’m still your manager. And as your manager, it is my job to steer you in what I feel is the right direction. Your professional careers and your mental & physical health are in my hands Kyle shut up. (He holds up a finger to Kyle, who was about to speak and then promptly slouches back down.) You two are acting like fools, and I’m not going to let you ruin the good name of The New & Improved D-X just because some smooth-talking agent gets under your skin. Now, I don’t want to lecture you two; you’re grown men, after all. So you should maybe, I dunno, start acting like it. Do you have anything to say for yourselves?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Wow, Bill. This is the most manager-like speech I’ve ever heard from you. I’m impressed.
BILL FLEMING: Don’t be. This is the first time you two let me down so badly. I honestly have no idea how you two could have possibly wedged your heads this far up your asses.
KYLE ROBERTS: That’s cold, Bill.
BILL FLEMING: You’re allowing yourselves to be psychologically manipulated! Johnson’s buried you with a huge pile of bull**** from his seemingly limitless stockpile, and for the first time you two can’t see your way around it! Bruce, you say he’s making ridiculous claims and huge leaps of logic, but you can’t use your own logic to counteract it? Kyle, you say he’s talking circles around you, but you’re resorting to prank phone calls instead of tearing him a new asshole? What the hell happened to you two?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Well, it’s just—
BILL FLEMING: Rhetorical question! You got SNOWED, boys! And by a fairly good manager, I’ll admit it; the guy crafts a sentence so good that most people can’t see through to the logical fallacy at its core. But I’ve got a riddle for you. What has two thumbs and is a GREAT manager? (Gestures to himself with his thumbs.) THIS guy. Now, Leonard Johnson’s got you thinking about him, got you good and mad. And it’s FINE to be mad with him; he encourages it. He says that we should already know he’s going to say because he says it over and over again. And boy, does he EVER, guys. His repetitive rants put me to sleep in the first five minutes. But you two actually listen to him because he’s attacking you where you’re both most proud. Bruce, you’re a calculating sonofa*****, and it’s tearing you apart inside that he’s not playing by your rules. Kyle, you’re the king of the mic, but he’s barely letting you get a word in edgewise, just bulldozing right ahead. And all this time, you’re missing the big picture. It’s not HIM you should be focusing on. It’s BLITZ. Their manager talks about how they’re so talented, big, fast, tough, bla-de-bla-de-bla. They think they’re better than you. (Shrugs.) We’ve heard that before. The team’s good, you know that. You’ve seen them in action. But you’ve prepared new strategies. You have a few contingency plans. And you’re going to go out there and put on the best show that crowd has ever seen. It’s going to make Bret Hart & Shawn Michaels at ‘Mania Twelve look like a schoolyard brawl. And you’re going to come out looking the champions you are, whether you get the pin or not.
(Fleming sits down facing them.)
BILL FLEMING: Don’t think about how badly you want to win this tournament. Don’t think about the NAPW Titles. Don’t think about Johnson, unless it’s to find a little pocket of rage you didn’t know you had. Don’t think about how badly you want to beat Max & Jecht into the canvas. Think about putting on a great ****ing match. Think about pulling out all the stops. (He snaps his fingers.) Moonsault. (Snap.) Beartamer. (Snap.) Torture rack. (Snap.) Polarizer. (Snap.) Chart Attack. (Snap.) Emerald Fusion. (Snap.) Down & Dirty. (Snap.) Think about making the fans go BANANAS. Think about making history. And that’s how you’ll win. (He grins.) You two going to start acting like The New & Improved D-X again?
KYLE ROBERTS: You bet your ass!
BILL FLEMING: And you’re not just saying that? Because I’ll be able to tell, and I’ve got plenty more lectures where this one came from.
BRUCE RICHARDS:(Holds up his hands.) Peace, Bill, peace. You snapped us out of it.
BILL FLEMING: And as for Johnson? Leave him to me. That asshole called you “small fish in a tadpole pond”. You’re not in the pond boys; you’re swimming in the damn ocean. Show ‘em what you can do.
FLIGHT ATTENDANT: I’ve been waiting for your manager here to finish talking for five minutes. You want your dinner or what?
BRUCE RICHARDS: Hell yes. I’m starving, and I need to soak up this liquor I have in my stomach.
BILL FLEMING: All right. Eat like kings, boys. Because you are.
(The three men smile and dig in to their meals as we fade out.)
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