"There are two paths that can be taken in this sport, Hornet. There's the Path of the Stars, and the Path of the Moon."
"The Path of the Stars is punctuated by powerful and far - reaching organizations that put the full weight of their power behind their Stars... deservedly or not, they are given every advantage."
"The Path of the Moon... is a little more complicated. The Moon gives off no light of its own, it relies on the Sun for its ability to be seen by mere mortals... but the Moon lights up the night and controls the tides. The Moon is far more powerful than the Stars would ever hope to be."
"And we're not just talking astronomy."
(FADEIN on the moon, full and gigantic in the night sky in the background of an outcropping of land. Blocking part of it is the silhouette of a man with a mowhawk.
Take a guess.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "I know you, Hornet, and I know your history. I know what you're thinking right now, about me and about the organization I represent."
"You're assuming that I want to capitalize on the Hornet name and make a name for myself, right? That I want to be able to tell everyone that the IWF was built on the ashes of Hornet's funeral pyre."
"I wouldn't blame you; people don't see you as a man and an athlete anymore, do they? They see the legend that precedes you whether you want it to or not, and everyone wants to have your scalp on their belt."
"And if you tell me that I'm wrong, you're being contrary for the sake of it, and that's beneath you."
"So what's my angle, Hornet?"
"I want to know."
"I would have been just as happy for this match to take place in the middle of the Merritt Auditorium, or on the first IWF Pay Per View out of Las Vegas, or in a smokey basement with no witnesses. The venue and the audience are inconsequential to me, and the opportunity to become Intergalactic Champion is third on my list of immediate priorities."
"First is James Witherhold at IWF Surge."
"Second is you, Hornet."
"I wanted this match because I wanted to know, Hornet. Are you as good as your supporters say you are, or are you half marketing creation and half Greensboro Hype Machine like your detractors say you are?"
"I don't know where the truth lies, Hornet, but my guess is that you're somewhere in the middle."
"Beyond my contempt for the way you at least superficially embrace your status as a professional wrestling mogul, I have to say I admire the way you're using the notoriety that your name can bring to assist a fledgeling company in getting started. The cynic in me wants to know why here, why now, but the optimist that hasn't been completely purged as yet applauds you for your selflessness."
"It's important for me and crucial for you for the optimist in me to win out, Hornet."
"Because, to me, respect is everything."
"Honor is all that matters."
(He turned, ostensibly toward the camera setup but the backlighting really makes it impossible to tell.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "I wanted you to know that, Hornet... because it's your best chance of survival."
"Because anything less will not... will not... escape the gaze... of SHA NAGBA IMURU."
(He walked down the outcropping and out of scene, the image of the moon remained for several seconds.)
(FADEIN: HORNET is in a wrestling ring in a warehouse in Springfield, Missouri. Three young guys are outside the ring in various states of physical shape, but all are sweaty and breathing hard, apparently having just finished some drills in the ring. They now watch as Hornet runs the ropes, breaking up his traverses with leaps and rollthroughs. In a flash, he breaks off his circuit, instead going the motions of whipping an opponent into the corner. He backs into the opposite corner and takes off – as he reaches mid-ring, he launches into the air with a HORNET SPLASH, careening with full force into a dummy bag in the corner, then bouncing back. The trainees on the outside start to cheer and make comments, until they catch a glance from the man seated behind the check-in counter.)
(Hornet grins at the interaction, then climbs up sits on the top ropes, facing the cameraman.)
HORNET: Been a while since I had you guys following me everywhere, huh? But that’s part of the business – our own personal paparazzi ready to catch our every negative word aimed at someone.
I’ll try not to disappoint, but Vizier ta Seti is an unknown quantity to me, and I think he likes it that way. But he’s been clear about what he knows about me. I guess I represent the “Path of the Stars” – a “name” created by a powerful organization that gives credit only where its pocketbook is concerned.
Maybe so. But that assumes that “powerful” organizations are born that way, and that “names” are created from them like Zeus pulling Athena from his head. What the “Path of the Moon” ignores is growth. My “name” was nothing at first, Vizier. Then it became known by a city, like yours. Then a nation. Then the world. The name of Hornet and the reach of the CSWA were a tandem, a symbiotic relationship, if one that wasn’t always the most healthy or even.
Yes, I’ve been told for years that I was “product” of one company. That outside of that I was nothing. Let’s assume that’s true. Isn’t being “The One” in what was the largest promotion in the world enough?
No, that’s why you have “contempt” for me. Because even knowing nothing about me outside my “industry bio,” you’ve decided that I’m worthy of contempt because I somehow “sold out” or have believed the “hype.”
I’ve found that men who bandy about words like “honor” and “respect” often immediately throw those words into the garbage moments later when they follow up with words like “contempt.” You could have simply walked into this acknowledging the challenge, Vizier. Instead, you decided to forego respect and attack my honor without any reason at all.
So let me introduce myself, Vizier ta Seti.
My name is Hornet. I’m a professional wrestler. And at times over the last twenty-plus years I’ve been the best wrestler in the world. I created the most valued championship in this sport and I marched across the world to do it, from bingo halls to stadiums. I’ve wrestled in front of over 100,000 in an arena and I’ve wrestled in the Bronx in a church-turned-arena in front of hundreds. I’ve faced amateurs and Antichrists, professionals and provocateurs. I’ve been equal parts addict and antagonizer, star and savant. I’ve been turned on, off and around, and I’ve done the same. I’ve drawn and made more money than anyone in the sport today. I’ve been called a sell-out, a flash in the pan and meaningless, as well as a hero, a franchise and a legend.
I’m a professional wrestler. This is what I do. When you step into the ring with me, Vizier, you’re stepping in with one who has actually seen it all.
Whatever “path” you’re on, you’re being led to the epicenter, a ring in Greensboro, North Carolina. Your revolution ends full-stop when you find out the gravity of this situation. Welcome to the Path of the Sun, Vizier.
Let's reinvent the gods, all the myths of the ages.
Celebrate symbols from the deep, elder forests.
(FADEIN on an IG banner, with Vizier ta Seti standing in front of it. Shirtless, wearing sunglasses that hid his eyes, and holding the IWF Emerald City Championship belt over his shoulder, he seemed relaxed and confident.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "We're trapped in a paradox, Hornet, drowning in time."
"There's you, the legend, the Champion, the man that built an empire on his own back. You're winding down to the end of your career, there's nobody to share the top of the mountain with you, and you're starting to wonder."
"What did you accomplish?"
"Your rise went hand in hand with Greensboro's, as you stated. Your rise was the result of powerful marketing and personal initiative, as I stated."
"Then the company went away and you had no place to call your home."
"What happens when the music's over, Hornet? Everything returns to zero."
"If the organizations where you built your legend no longer exist, if the majority of the men you overcame are no longer part of this world... did it ever happen?"
VIZIER ta SETI: "My contempt, Hornet, was not directed at your accomplishments or at your wrestling resume. I respect your accomplishments. I respect your resume. I considered you one of the most talented wrestlers of your day."
"All without irony."
"My contempt, since you decided that the word is all that mattered, stemmed from the fact that once the organization was the worldwide powerhouse that it was, and once it had made you wealthy and famous beyond your wildest dreams, you decided that, not only did you deserve it, but that nobody else involved deserved the same opportunity."
"Remember, Hornet? It ended up being personal after all, and it was all that this industry could talk about. For about a month."
"Making it to the top of your chosen profession, seemingly ungrateful for the work that everybody did to get you there, is where my contempt stems, Hornet. But the way you were powerless to stop the fall of the Roman Empire made it all worthwhile from a self - indulgent point of view."
"Act one was the consolidation. They responded to you - we responded to you. When it became obvious who it was that was the cash cow, you were a no - brainer to be the face of the nation."
"Act two was the expansion. Create one established Unified Champion and vanquish the forces of Darkness that threaten the harmony of the Greensboro oasis. The Hero is injured and it falls to the Replacements to save the day."
"And they did."
"Which led to Act three... the betrayal."
"It's nothing personal, right? Of course, you lied."
(Vizier took his sunglasses off and stared into the camera.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "I believe the past seven years have been something of a mid - life crisis, Hornet, over the fact that you simply can't believe that this business has moved on without you."
"To your credit, and as I've stated, I appreciate and respect the fact that you're willing to step into the church - turned - arena in the Bronx, or willing to increase the visibility on the Intergalactic Championship."
"But I don't think we needed a full - on press conference to announce that an old, unemployed wrestler is looking to get booked."
"At the end of the day, you've been doing this for a quarter century, Hornet, and you're not working for any company. Old and unemployed is descriptive language."
"I accepted your press conference challenge, Hornet, because you need to understand that this is no longer the world in which you existed. I accepted your press conference challenge because my victory would bring more notoriety to my home."
"And I did not insult your honor, Hornet."
"You sold your honor years ago when you decided to stand against the organization that made you, and instead of standing with your convictions by going all the way with it, or showing your integrity by actively working toward redemption, you let your career run out of gas with less than a whimper."
"Thus ended Act three."
"What do you do for the encore, Hornet? And if nobody shows up for your slow slide toward suicide, do you reschedule?"
"You expected I would attack your name, Hornet... but there's nothing you can say to defend the honor and integrity that you built for a dozen years and then allowed to corrode and rust for the next dozen."
"Sha Nagba Imurru."
(Vizier put his sunglasses back on.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "This is our world now, Hornet, and your heroes and villains are dead."
(FADEIN on Hornet sitting in a folding chair watching two young wannabes in the ring training. The warehouse is stifling, but they keep going, hitting the ropes over and over again.)
HORNET: Thanks for your version of the “Hornet Retrospective,” Vizier. For someone who is “old and unemployed,” you sure spend a lot of time dissecting my long career. But we know the reason behind that, don’t we? Because you don’t have one of your own to talk about.
You’re a handful of matches into your run as the “champ” in IWF. Congratulations. But the personal contempt you feel for me as a representative of the “institution” doesn’t come from anything I’ve done. “Gladiator” was on the rise, and then the fall came just as quickly. Through no fault of your own, the world changed in 2001, and you found yourself tossed aside. Then you got injured…
Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it? I was at the pinnacle, and then came the fall so many had prayed for. I ran back into a building to try and save a friend, and then a wall collapsed. And my back was never the same. This industry moves quickly, jumping to the next big thing as fast as it can to try and keep houses booked and ratings up. When I came back, I had to reinvent myself, and I did it with a branding iron and a new attitude. I showed that just as I could be the “Hero” and stand at the top of the mountain, I could do the same thing as the villain.
And years later, it was time for a change again. So I partnered up with a man I had betrayed and a man I electrocuted, and we put together the fiercest stable the professional wrestling world has ever seen.
And then I brought it all full circle. “The Greatest American Hero.”
This industry isn’t forgiving, Vizier. It doesn’t think of the future, it only thinks of the now. It is what it is – a cold, heartless business. It’s not a person – it doesn’t feel, it doesn’t dole out grace and mercy.
And it doesn’t owe you anything.
I’ve spent the past decade in the business, Vizier. While you spent it on the sidelines licking your wounds and complaining about how you had been screwed. I’ve done my share of the same in the past, but every time I got back up. When a wall fell on my head and broke my back, I got back up. When I lost the CSWA World Championship, I got back up and fought a bigger man toe-to-toe for 90 minutes to take it back. When I allowed myself to get taken over by prescription drugs, I recognized the problem and finally dragged myself back to my feet. When Joe The Plumber and Triple X beat me within and inch of my life, I still got back up for more. And months ago when Joey Melton tried to finish me off, I got out of a hospital bed and went to an arena to pin his shoulders to the mat.
Vizier ta Seti doesn’t get to decide whether I’m done in this business. You don’t get to decide whether I have honor and integrity or not. A man who has sat on the sidelines for a decade and has seen nothing doesn’t get to decide how my career is judged.
You talk about seeing all, Vizier, but you have seen nothing. You have wallowed in your own self-pity and pain, flailing against the “industry” as if it’s a person that has held you down.
It’s time for you to learn, Vizier. “The life you are seeking you will never find.” Welcome to the encore, Gladiator. Welcome to my show.
(FADEIN: An advertisement for IWF Surge, fading into an advertisement for IG's iTunes or GTFO #4. Thirty second bumpers for each show, curiously with the IWF Emerald City Champion, Vizier ta Seti, featured prominently in both.
CUTTO: Vizier ta Seti himself, in front of an IWF SURGE! banner. He wore Hornet - style facepaint in black and gold, and still held the IWF Emerald City Championship in his hands.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "I've gotta hand it to you, Hornet... you stumped me."
"I was expecting your rebuttal to my commentary to be an attempt to shut me down, once and for all, where you told me about your fall from grace and your recovery and resumption of your career like nothing had happened with some kind of intervention or revelation or something."
"Instead, you 'reinvented yourself' because 'the industry moves quickly.' "
(Vizier said it complete with air quotes.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "So you were the Greatest American Hero because it sold, Hornet? You were lauded for your dedication to your fans, and you were sainted for your fighting for what was right... as a marketing decision?"
"How else can you justify what you just said? You reinvented yourself because the industry moves quickly and, while you were buried under a wall and the industry moved on to what was next, you decided to cash in."
"If it wasn't about the money and the headlines, you would have been just as content wrestling as you had before the accident."
"It wasn't 'How do I maintain my integrity, how do I maintain my honor' when you decided to turn your back on your fans, Hornet. It was 'How can I make the most money and grab the most headlines?' I can only assume that's what you were also thinking when you decided... what was it?"
(STATIC: CUTTO Hornet in his gym.)
HORNET: And years later, it was time for a change again. So I partnered up with a man I had betrayed and a man I electrocuted, and we put together the fiercest stable the professional wrestling world has ever seen. And then I brought it all full circle. “The Greatest American Hero.”
(CUTTO: Vizier ta Seti.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "How did that work out for you, Hornet? If I remember my history, none of you three ever made it to the top of the mountain again, and isn't that what it's all about?"
VIZIER ta SETI: "I mean, if you can decide to become a villain to keep up with the Joneses, then surely you realized that the World Championship was all that mattered."
"Consistency is the first step toward integrity."
"Of course, what do I know? I was nursing a broken neck when the industry decided that it no longer wanted the Gladiator."
"It's not a name I shy away from."
"Your story sounded familiar up to a point, Hornet... but there's something you left out. The broken neck I suffered against James Renshaw was just the excuse I needed to leave this industry. If professional wrestling would only see me as a terrorist and an evil man without the respect I demand... then I neither needed nor wanted professional wrestling."
"And the only reason I returned was because the IWF afforded me the respect I insist on - not as their Champion - but as a part of the process."
"At no time did I ever see any of my journey... as something I could sell."
(At that, Vizier turned his back to the camera; metaphorically turning his back to Hornet.)
VIZIER ta SETI: "You're right, in that I don't get to decide if your career is over. The industry decided that during the past few years, how every match that you've been in has been built on nostalgia as opposed to progress. The only thing I decide is whether or not I win this match and bring greater glory to the IWF."
"And I will. Because I say I will."
"Because I am and will remain the Minister of the Frontier."
"Because while you accuse me of seeing nothing... the fact remains that your crime is far worse."
(HORNET is standing in front of the Greensboro Coliseum. It’s not the arena in Greensboro that we’re historically used to seeing him in front of. He’s lit up by four floodlights that reflect off the glass façade behind him. Inside you can see the Coliseum’s full height intersected by stairways and open space. The camera pulls in closer, showing Hornet standing on top of the Coliseum’s sign directly in front. Up and over his left shoulder is a larger LED sign highlighting the IGC’s inaugural “Fly Me To The Moon” card with the date and time.)
You’re an interesting contradiction, Vizier. You can’t stand the pillars of the industry for what they “did” to you, yet you’re all about the “glory.” You say you returned because the IWF afforded you the “respect” you deserved, but a broken neck was the “excuse” you needed to get out of an industry that didn’t need you.
You’ve followed my career. You’ve let me know that everything I’ve done has been worthless, that it wasn’t done with honor and integrity, that the only respect I had was from promoters who wanted to make a buck. You even know my name. How incredible – given that it’s been aired on international television.
Your “journey” has apparently been one of “take my ball and go home.” Mine has been different. Even when I was treated poorly by promoters or literally had my services sold to other promotions, including men I have no respect for, I had respect for the business. And I had enough respect for myself to go in and do my best.
From the CSWA to the NFW, from LEGION to IGC, I’ve stepped in knowing that the only man or woman who is going to give me respect is me. You may believe that you’re due respect, but the honest answer is that in this business, respect is a weak man’s shield. It’s a paper shield that men hold up when they’re either trying to jump over some one or when they’re trying to protect their spot.
Do you think Joey Melton “respected” me? Or Jim Williams? Or GUNS? Or even Mike Randalls? What about Eli Flair? Sean Stevens? Do you think either one of them “respected” me in the ring when beating me meant grabbing the brass ring themselves?
I’ve learned more than you can ever know, Vizier. Because you’re too petty and petulant to look outside of what you’re owed, too short-sighted to look past how you were looked over ten years ago. What I learned is that I decide what my brass ring is. At first it was the CSWA World Championship, and then it was a dream of something bigger, something that didn’t even exist. And dozens of titles later, the Unified Title was born. After that it became muddled for a while – I thought it was about my legacy, about my respect, and then I learned that was simply false pride.
Business became personal and my personal life fell apart. The woman I loved decided she could turn her back on me in business, and I decided I could turn mine on her when it was personal. And that led to a dark place – to integrity and honor and respect all being shoved to the back of the closet behind a shoebox filled with pills.
But I got up, Vizier. With the help of those around me, the will to change and faith in God, I found a new way. And I learned that what defines me isn’t what you or anyone else thinks, or even my “legacy” – it isn’t my biggest successes or my lowest defeats – instead it’s that everyday I get up, I thank God for a new day of sobriety, and for a new day of opportunity, whatever that may be.
Today is a day of opportunity, Vizier. Today is a day when the man who has seen it all gets to see something new. Today is the day when the old man revels in memory and the new man relishes learning something he didn’t know before.
Today is another day that I get up, Vizier. And come what may, I’ll do the same thing tomorrow. The question is – will you? Or will it be another decade?
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