Sharp Left Turn
You're welcome, Ravager.
If it wasn't for me, your next extended period of time in the TEAM Invitational Tournament would involve countless hours of listening to DC Stark tell you how he was robbed by being the number five seed, and who are you to be seeded above him, and if you were really good at this you'd have won last year or the year before, and it's too bad you've faced off with him in the second round because you're going to lose in a horrible, one sided match against him.
Because he's the future, after all.
No, Ravager, you won't hear any of that from me, and I'll probably not bring him up again.
Probably. It depends on you.
For the moment, my economy camera is pointed at the tape I wore on my left hand and wrist for my first round match. It's been cut off, but you can plainly see the letters JFZ written on them.
"One down, four to go."
"That's what it'll take to win the 2009 Invitational Tournament, after all. I never had any doubt I'd get to the second round; my confidence in what I can do is that high."
"But this is where my trip takes a sharp left turn, in the shape of a man called Ravager."
Anywhere else, and I might goof on your name. Not that Impulse is much better, but I'm reminded of Tim Curry in the movie Clue. 'I'm merely a humble Ravager. I ravage, sir.'
"It's no laughing matter, however. You made it to the finals last year, only to get stopped by Mike Randalls. Most people would consider that a moral victory, regardless."
I certainly would. I think it's written in the Big Book of Wrestling Knowledge, that the strategy for wrestling Mike Randalls is as follows: you lose.
So you lost. I would've probably lost, too. Most of the field this year has lost to Mike Randalls.
"Since it took a match against Mike Randalls to take you out of the field last year, you have to be considered by most to be the heavy favorite to take it all. Hex, if I wasn't involved this year, my money would be on you."
In fact, I think my roommate did bet on you. Remind me to pound him later.
"Unfortunately, our paths have crossed. That means I'm going to have to work my hardest to make sure yours ends with me. No ego, no ill will, no hard feelings... just bad luck. We all get it from time to time."
"This is simply my year."
No, it's not my time, where you don't know what trouble is. And I'm not nearly as arrogant to say that I'm owed this. I'm not.
But, neither are you.
"This is going to be the toughest match you're going to wrestle in the Team Invitational Tournament this year, Ravager. I'd even go so far as to say it'll be toughest match you've wrestled since your final match in last year's tournament. If I have anything to say about it, the outcome will be the same, too."
Of course, it's possible your actions will speak louder than mine, but there's no law against optimism, right?
Even when it's not optimism.
"But, if you're able to get past me, you can kick up your feet and relax on easy street."
"So to speak. Don't actually do that."
"But, again, if you're able to get past me, you should definitely keep your mindset the same, because your third round, fourth round, and fifth round opponents won't give you nearly as much trouble."
'I'm the man! I'm the greatest wrestler in the world! You should be on your hands and knees, thanking whatever god you believe in that I allow you in my ring!'
'Oh yeah? I got past Impulse.'
Maybe I exaggerate, but aren't we in the business of limitless hyperbole?
"But, cubed, your third round opponent doesn't exist. To say nothing of your fourth round, fifth round, and all the way up however high it goes."
"Neither does mine."
"I'm all that exists to you right now, Ravager, and you're all that exists to me. Nothing else in TEAM matters until this is settled."
Almost nothing, at least.
"You said something against your first round opponent, Ravager, that's got me worried. Let me go to the tape for the official record."
I swung the camera around to the brand new flatscreen television in my living room, which showed a black 'INPUT' screen. There was some sound of... well, something, as I dug for the oversized remote control with far too many buttons.
Ah! There we go. The DVR jumped to life, showing, well - you.
"Every man in this tournament will scratch, claw, betray, and sacrifice to get to the top. I've had to do it, I'm sure you've had to do it, so why pretend like we're going to do anything else?"
"Scratch, claw, betray, and sacrifice."
I'd like to repeat that, because it sounds vaguely important.
"Scratch, claw, betray, and sacrifice. Let's start from the end, Ravager. Sacrifice? You'd bet your life we're both willing to sacrifice what we have - and in some cases more than we have for the sake of the next match. I can extrapolate that from what I know of you, and I can speak for myself because I'm me. When it comes to myself and this sport, nothing matters except the next mission."
Right now, that would be you.
"I have issue with scratching, clawing, and betrayal, Ravager. Scratching and clawing carries with it a certain implication of senseless violence, and that's something I can't support. I'll beat you, and I'll beat you decisively, but I won't try to hurt you or humiliate you. There's no cause for that."
There's never a cause for that.
"I also don't believe that betrayal has any place in this business. If I say I'm going to beat you, it means I'm going to try my darnedest to do just that; to get involved with clandestine operations that would involve winning your trust only to turn around and screw you out of something you've rightly earned is something that I couldn't live with."
For example, anyways.
"My philosophy has always been, if I can't beat someone straight up, I didn't deserve to win. So that's something to put your mind at ease, right?"
No, you've still got an uphill battle to get the 'W' on me, Ravager, but at least you know you won't have to watch for flying metal.
"You seem to be big on respect, Ravager; so am I. I want this match to happen in the worst possible way, so please just do me one favor: hold nothing back."
"Because I don't intend to, either."