(Hornet’s in the position that has become ubiquitous – sitting on the leather sofa in the media room of his Greensboro home, one leg hanging off the sofa as he watches the end of the Vacant/JA UNIFIED Tournament match. “Vacant” hits a low blow, then the Gory bomb to put JA down for the count. Hornet’s forehead wrinkles a bit as the match begins again.)
“Vacant.” The final masked man left in the tournament. And we all know how much I like masked men, don’t we?
From the legend of El Toro to the Highwayman, from WASP to Masked Man #4, masked men have never really been a positive for me. And then the latest, our dear “Jaguar Mask” who turned out to be the son of the announcer voted “Most Likely To Be A Punk” in his high school yearbook. Hell, even Sammy Benson’s got more class than that joker.
But now, another masked man steps in the way of the path to the UNIFIED World Championship. Better name, better wrestler, but apparently, still a punk.
I’ve listened for years while folks decided that they wanted to run the CSWA, and if they couldn’t run it, they wanted to ruin it. I’ve put up with the suggestions that because I was successful that I must be a puppet for Merritt and Thomas. I’ve survived the CORPORATION’s attempt to put Ray S. Cornette in charge. I’ve lived through the JobTour, and the Invasion, and the Intruders. And I’ve even taken my own shot at blowing CS Enterprises’ plans with the Claimstakers.
So which one are you, Vacant? Run or rack and ruin? Whose chess piece are you? Or are you the mastermind himself?
Or just another of the detractors? They were there in 1992 when the CSWA went national – the folks who said that the little regional promotion would never make it in a land dominated the Big Two. And even when the Unified Title had been solidified as a championship nonpareil, then they decided that the CSWA was corrupt and all its talent must be overrated. Even while at the same time every wrestling company around was trying to get a CSWA superstar on its shows.
Then the CSWA wasn’t serious enough, or extreme enough, or cutting-edge enough, or funny enough, or…whatever it was that the critic wanted to lay into. And “the troubles” began. Merritt failed the company by letting his emotions lead him to attacking a midget. Thomas decided he had better things to do, unless it was fighting with Merritt.
And despite a whole new generation of talent created: Eddy Love, Kevin Powers, Deacon, Steve Radder, Mark Vizzack and Cameron Cruise among others, plus the resurgence of talent like Eli Flair and Poison Ivy, Troy Windham, Mike Randalls, Tom Adler and others… it was never enough. The league was too traditional, or too inactive, or too big or too successful. Despite the fact that the CWL and the fWo were quick to sign contracts with CSWA talent, despite the fact that leagues like GXW wanted to chance to use the CSWA to showcase their companies, despite the fact that talent was still being developed and existing talent was still having success – it didn’t matter.
The CSWA was in a slump. It’s too old. Too slow. Too much time has passed it by.
And so was Hornet. Right? That’s what I was told in the NFW, and by our GXW ‘invaders,’ and by the dirt sheets and the ‘new blood’ in the CSWA. You’re too old… too slow…too addicted to pain killers. You’re not good enough -- forget merging thirty “World” titles to create the UNIFIED World Championship. You’re not tough enough -- forget the WHEEL of DEATH or the Firehouse or the electrified steel cage matches against Randalls. You’ve been passed by, that was all years ago, before you lost a step, before you went heel, before you got involved with Ivy, before you admitted you were addicted to Soma.
So I guess you could say that the CSWA and I know what each of us are going through pretty well. I’ve grown up here, but I’ve had the chance to walk into 50 other promotions and show them what it means to be Hornet and what it means to be a wrestler in the CSWA.
(Hornet sits up on the sofa and leans in towards the camera.)
And so now the CSWA faces its “rebirth.” Like 1992 when it stepped out of the Southeast and put everything on the line banking on ANNIVERSARY and the ULTRATITLE. Like 1998 when it recovered from the “Who Killed The Red Midget?” saga Merritt put us through and decided to “Sink or Swim.”
It’s time for the entire world to remember what the CSWA is. To remember that the resurgence of our sport was built by two men who loved wrestling, and a group of wrestlers who just wanted to go out and put on a show. With all due respect, before Cyberslam and End Game, there was FISH FUND. Before Lamont Hollywood or Finn and Taylor, there was Buckley and Benson. Before Tuesday night was Intense or Wednesday had Warfare or Thursday had its Titans, there was PRIMETIME.
And before “Vacant,” there was Hornet. And after the masked man inevitably shows us who he is, I’ll still be here. Still trying to go after the Unified Title, still trying to get a reaction from the fans… still trying to put on a good show.
One more match, masked man, and I step into ANNIVERSARY as one of the Final Four. So, whoever you are – GUNS, Jim Williams, hell, even if you’re Eli or Deacon, bring it. Show me what it means to be older, to be a step slower, to be past your prime.
Grey line shooting across, gradually turning green. Will it move with the modulations? Does a bear **** in the woods?
THE VOICE OF VACANT:
At last I have control of your T.V. set. Are you recieving me? Good.
One down. Three to go. No matter which way you want to spin it, this enterprise of chasing the CSWA Unified gold comes down to simple math. Four matches win you the strap. Three, two, one, or, as in the case of the punk last time, zero get you a big fat welcome to oblivion.
But only those below men of our ilk need worry about that. This is like the AFC Championship game in recent years; talk about the Super Bowl all you want, but the real champion's getting decided here. Me, with my accolades stashed in a closet for temporary safekeeping. And then the Hornet.
It doesn't matter if your name is Paul. It doesn't matter if you stake claims or kneecaps, if the rednecks want your head or your seed, if your aims are heroic and business--you are the CSWA. And I saw you flaunt that with pride during your little soliloquy. You took everyone uniniated on a ride, of what you've done, of why this crumbling building is referred to as the House That Hornet Built, or in the case of one wrestler slash net geek I saw on the web, the House That Hornet Tried To Swallow Down With A Bourbon Chaser.
But I'll be honest, as you began to talk about the history I began to find myself sieged with yawns. It wasn't that I thought I was too good to pay attention to you, it was that I'd seen it all before. Literally.
You see, Hornet, what you have to understand with a career like yours is that you are not limited to those ropes. You are not limited to that arena. Your matches become legend, shooting up incomprehensible miles in the sky and bouncing off a satellite that once hit comes back down all over the world.
Even all the way on the other side where I am.
The history lesson is lost on those who do their homework. But **** doing it, I lived it, son. I used to come to the house shows and wear the face paint. The day you turned on Vizzack almost drove me to tears. Your actions against GUNS made me throw up my spaghetti. I know you better than I know most of my damn family. Oh, you never saw me until now. And we've never even come close to facing off in that ring until now so you can save the timewarp guesses, k?
But I know you. I know you are great. I recognize you are tough. And it's easy to note that you have something to prove.
That's the problem I find with direction opposition vis a vis competitve mediums: the other guy wants to win, too. Rest assured, just because I have yet to show my face does not mean I am some fresh-out-of-OVW kid behind the ears like my so-called opposition last week.
You like to say you came before me. That you'll teach me how to become a champion.
Hank Luisetti invented the set shot in basketball. No one suggests he is one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Why is this? Evolution, to borrow a phrase. The game evolved from his invention, eventually surpassing his efforts to become quicker, sleeker, more fast-paced, with better technology to plan both offensive and defensive efforts--now people like Tracy McGrady, who just years ago would've been centers run the show as point guards. The game of the peach basket is replaced by net, and 20-point games only happen in backyards between brothers.
You don't have to teach me about being a champion, because I've been World Champion a few times over. Not 30, but considering I'm barely out of college if you give me time I'm sure I can give you a run for your money in that department.
I am not out to ruin the CSWA; bad business decisions and flawed leadership have done that already. I am not out to disparage you, because only a fool wouldn't learn from history.
But I should leave you with a question.
What happens when someone who grew up watching Hornet, imitating Hornet, seeing Hornet like a family friend took what he learned from that and invented his own modus operandi to add to it?
Someone who only knows Soma as a club or a Strokes song?
Well, that was low, but the joke was there for the taking.
The point is, last week was about anger: about someone misrepresenting what I built my career on. You see where that got him.
This week is about history. About us stepping into the ring for the first time together and blowing the roof off the mother. About the historic final 4.
And at the end of it all...whether by hook or by crook...the almighty Hornet...and then soon his beloved crown jewel...will BE history.
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