[FADE IN to a small TV showing grainy footage of some quite old wrestling. Really astute fans would be able to spot Mark “Rollerball” Rocco wrestling on British TV, but the footage is so distorted and stretched it’s hard to make out who his opponent is, let alone be able to see most of the action.
ZOOMING OUT we can see “The Dragon” sitting in an old brown arm chair, an over-thin cushion. The TV, which we can see is a CRT, is standing atop a low, glass-fronted wooden stand, a beige folding door to the right of shot and faded wallpaper on the wall behind the TV. The carpet is a faded patterned brown one, although there’s a blue rug that’s almost as faded as the carpet as well. To the left of the TV is another wall, and on the wall are a few ornamental plates in chronological order from 1988 to 1994 gathered from various trips. The Empire Pro wrestler and Ultra Title hopeful is wearing old jeans and trainers with an old, paint-splattered jumper]
Karl: I know. Hardly the most glamorous setting for something like the Ultra Title, but I’ve got family things to take care of for a few days. Plus it doesn’t really matter if one of us is in the gym in the hour or so it takes to do this, or at the old family home taking a break from sorting through almost 50 years of family memories. It matters that you turn up to the ring and give it everything you’ve got, and people who know me know that’s what they’ll get every time.
Not that I’m unique in that regard. Everyone here, from the guys I know like Anarky, Shawn Hart, Sean Stevens and Jonathan Marx to the ones I’ve never seen like Kiyomori, is going to give it their all. One slip up and we’re going home. Nobody wants to be the one who lost in seconds, let alone in a tournament of this magnitude.
That’s what this comes down to. I don’t know anything about Kiymori, if I’m honest. And since I’m helping sort out this place before a funeral I’m not going to get the chance to dig into his history in Japan the way I would like to. I have heard the name on the grapevine, I have a few contacts left from training over there, but I’ve never seen your matches. Before you think of sending in clips, I should warn you that I don’t really care either. Arrogant, perhaps, but it doesn’t honestly matter what you’ve done before. If I started researching your old matches, I would get an idea of what to expect, perhaps, but I’d be far less flexible in my approach to you.
And it’s my flexibility in the ring that’s gotten me through some of the nastiest matches of my career.
Hm. Flexibility. Stopping to think about it, it’s our flexibility that truly defines us and our successes in life. People often say it’s survival of the fittest, but it’s survival of the one who can adapt, alter their approach, and find the way to make the biggest impact quicker than the others.
In this tournament, that flexibility is going to be the difference maker.
[Karl reaches down to the floor, picking up a so far unseen TV remote. He turns the TV off, standing and looking out of a nearby window. There’s a small hedge in front of a large communal lawn, beyond which there’s another hedge and a busy main road, a footbridge over it and a large round about barely visible to the left of the shot. Karl’s eyes seem a little misty, lost in nostalgia, as he speaks]
Karl: You know, Kiyomori, I may not know anything about you. But being in this house… this house was my Grandma’s. Her funeral’s next week. I’m not saying that for sympathy, but because I learnt a lot from her. I learnt a lot in this house. I learnt to approach life with an open mind, approach every challenge with my eyes open, my head held high, and my mind sharp and focused. I’ve had matches where I’ve not known my opponent until they walked through the curtain. I’ve had matches where the stipulation has changed moments before the opening bell. I succeeded because of the lessons Grandma taught me.
Mind ready for anything.
Accept the possibilities.
I learnt a lot from Grandpa as well, but that’s another story for another time.
The point is, Kiyomori, that no matter what you are, who you are, what you do, you won’t surprise me.
Took a long time to say that, didn’t it? I’m rather verbose, you’ll get used to it.
[He turns, looking across the room while the camera stays on him]
Karl: This match, whatever greets me… it looks like it’s going to be an interesting one. The little I know about you suggests we’ve got similar styles, similar approaches, and similar backgrounds. It’s going to be a case of who is more flexible in their approach and able to quickly decide on a course of action that takes the other by surprise long enough to end the match.
The 37 year old from Japan, or the 29 year old from England.
I won’t be corny and say I’m doing this for Grandma, she never cared for my in-ring career. But I will say thanks to her for giving me the lessons I need in order to make sure I go into this match one hundred percent focused, and ready to adapt to whatever you throw at me.
I can only hope you can do the same, or this is going to be a very, very short match.
[FADE IN to a small, well-lit gym. There are a couple of mirrors on one wall, and we see in the reflection a few cardio machines. Moving through the gym we take a right turn and come upon the free weight area where we see “The Dragon” using the incline leg press. The camera ZOOMS IN closer, the cameraman trying not to break the wrestler’s concentration]
Karl:[deliberately quietly] You don’t have to stand back, you know. The boom’s not going to pick me up so well from there.
[Sheepishly, the cameraman walks closer while ZOOMING OUT the lens, keeping Brown in focus]
Karl: Not long now before the Ultra Title tournament gets under way. For some, it seems the pressure’s already too much. Others are right at home, cracking jokes, telling tall tales, generally being morons of the highest order. What else do you expect, though? Every time there’s a major tournament, you get the same kinds of people. You get those who buckle and don’t show up. Those who take it in stride and carry on as they always do. Then there are those who talk themselves up more than ever in the hope they’ll get noticed, and it’ll cover for their insecurity.
I fall into the second group. Or do I? I would say that, after all. Nobody’s going to say they’re more unsure of themselves now than they normally are. That’d mean that they weren’t sure of themselves in their own environment, and being in a new one’s thrown them off their game so much they’re not sure they can cut it.
Don’t over think it. I’m definitely in the second group. There’s a bit of added nerves, but not enough to worry over. I’m human, after all.
But really, what is there to worry about at this stage? There are one hundred and twenty eight people involved. I’m not one of the favourites for the tournament. Some would see me as last sixteen, maybe. Others would see me getting no further than this. Whichever way you slice it, most would see me as one of one hundred and twenty seven losers. So, no pressure on me at all.
[With one final push, he sets the weight, taking a couple of deep breaths. He reaches down to his side, grabbing a towel as he sits up and makes his way over to the bench press]
Karl: One hundred and twenty seven… the Ultra Title’s really a tournament of losers, isn’t it? The same as every award show. That’s the thing with tournaments, awards, anything competitive. There can only be one winner, whether it’s a team sport or an individual event. Everyone else is a loser.
Which means there’s going to be a lot of large, over-inflated egos getting a huge knocking as the next few weeks go by.
[He takes a break from speaking, finishing his set on the bench press before sitting up again]
Karl: It’s not going to take a lot to become one of the sixty four through to the next round. A few seconds. Getting to the thirty two, that’ll be a challenge. The sixteen… that’s going to be interesting.
I guess I sound confident that I’ll make it that far, don’t I? Facing Kiyomori, a man I know next to nothing about, how can I be anything else? I can’t change anything about him, I can’t change anything about my preparation at this late stage, so why worry about it? I know that some people in tournaments like this have the idea that they hold their cards close enough to their chest that they’ll get their opponents confused, worried, agitated, that their opponents will be so worried about things they can’t change that they’ll be off their game.
If that’s Kiyomori’s plan, so be it. If, and it’s a big if, that’s his plan then he’s picked the wrong person to do it to.
[“The Dragon” starts a second set on the bench press]
Karl: Like I said. Open minded. Ready to accept whatever gets thrown in front of me. There’s no other way to take a match like this, and there’s no point worrying about it. If I started to worry, I would be thrown off my game.
I’m one of the most flexibly-minded competitors in this tournament. I’m one of the youngest, I’m one of the quickest, and one of the most technically sound. No matter who I’m against, I give it everything. It’s damn near impossible to get me so agitated I lose focus. I’m a fifth dan in Taekwondo, a multi-time champion, and “The Dragon”.
Against anyone, I leave it all in the ring. And against Kiyomori…
[He finishes the set, sitting up and fixing his eyes on the camera]
Karl: I can see it being the same result as dozens upon dozens of matches before.
They play with my fire at it’s brightest, and they get burned.
Karl: Why do I get the impression Castor’s going to have a go at that one…
When someone is named after one of the most famous Japanese Samurai, which continues to be remembered for his accomplishments has a lot on their shoulders. When an individual bestows the name upon themselves, the pressure on their back is momentous. While the pressure of having so many eyes watching, waiting, and wondering how you perform would cause many to falter, crumble, or simply quit; Nao Morita is not one of those individuals. His accomplishments throughout his career speak miles on that alone.
While being thirty-seven years old would lead many to feel Nao Morita is on the decline as far as his in-ring ability, those who have watched him recently know that is far from the case. If anything he is still as skillful in the ring as he was when he turned thirty. His mystique and aura have earned him the nickname "Puroresu Jisei" which translates to “Spirit of Wrestling.” Even his opponents have shown him the respect in which his reputation has earned…
Nao Morita did not change his persona in order to simply draw attention to him; he has the humility and respect that is expected of a Japanese gentleman. Yet, he has the confidence and presence to announce when he feels he has been disrespected. Especially, when the infraction is from someone he feels that has not earned the respect of his peers. Nao Morita did not earn his way in order to be taken likely.
He is Kiyomori and he will be sure to make an example of why you should show him the respect he deserves…
Our scene opens to what one could describe as a meditation room. Serenity fills the air, just by viewing the room you are filled with a sense of peaceful bliss. Although a strange tension does exist within this sense of peace, a few idle footsteps begin to put a face to the tension. Kiyomori comes into sight wearing the formal kamishimo attire. He stands with purpose as his eyes stare into the camera.
Kiyomori: Since I accepted the invitation to wrestle my first match within the United States, I have been asked as to why I would make my debut within the UltraTitle. Why I would enter into a tournament against some of the best talent the United States has to offer, why I would risk having an unsuccessful debut against prestigious competition.
He pauses briefly.
My answers have been simple; I would not waste my time accepting a match against someone that has barely even completed their training, just to guarantee myself a victory. My excursion to the United States is for the soul purpose of achieving victory and bringing the UltraTitle into my possession.
He has a noticeable Japanese accent, yet he is very easy to understand. He continues to stand with a purpose, having to yet to move since he began speaking.
I was under the impression that I would receive a challenge within the UltraTitle, unfortunately I was very disappointed when I was told my first round opponent would be Karl…
He scoffs before continuing.
“The Dragon” Brown…
Dragons in Japanese culture represent humility, respect, and power. The dragon also represents the courage and strength that resides deep within each one of us, the wisdom to know when to speak and what to say when you decide to speak…
Something Karl Brown does not possess…
Kiyomori pauses again as his voice takes on a sharpness that was not present before.
If I am correct within a few seconds you stated that you wished to study my career and then claimed you did not care to study your upcoming opponent. Not the wisdom of a dragon, not the contradiction someone that is of stable mind should make in such a short period of time. Allow me to quote Sun Tzu to enlighten my opponent as to the error of his ways…
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” Karl Brown, you have made it that you indeed do not know me, that is your first error; your second error exists in the fact that you do not even know yourself. One so misguided does not go by the moniker dragon. By neither knowing yourself nor your opponent, your chances a victory…
Do Not Exist.
Kyiomori nods his head as he pauses, his eyes piercing through the camera almost as Karl Brown was standing before him.
This not only makes you inflexible, it also defines you as being an idiot. Your disrespect will not go without punishment, your stupidity will not be allowed to stand, and you will learn to never again disrespect your superior. How am I your superior? That is something that should be running through your mind right now.
Unlike yourself, I have studied your career…Especially, the periods in which you studied within Japan. Many described you as pompous, arrogant, foolish, disrespectful…You were one that felt you knew more by watching a few matches on your TV by those who had spent many years making their names in Puroresu.
Kiyomori shakes his head in disgust as arms fold in front of his chest.
However, you are not without talent. I will be the first to admit that you are a very talented wrestler; you are just without heart and respect. You sit within the very how that was in your family for decades and speak words that dishonor your family, your words dishonored the Grandmother and Grandfather you hold so dear…
One of which whose funeral you are preparing for, I cannot allow them to live with the shame of you continuing on in this tournament to use their memories to gain you sentiment, allow you to use their memories as a stepping stone into fame, they do not deserve such treatment…
And you do not deserve to carry their name…
He pauses; his eyes do not hold any sorrow for the harsh and personal words he just spoke. Kiyomori looks around momentarily before returning his gaze back to the camera.
If it only takes you a few minutes to dishonor your family, disrespect your opponent, to show your character is on such a low level that you do not deserve to even wrestle in the same ring as myself or most of those within the UltraTitle…
Do you honestly feel you can obtain victory against Kiyomori? Are you truly the idiot I find you to be? Why should I waste my time stepping into the ring against such an opponent?
He has begun to speak slower, putting an emphasis on a number of his words.
These are answers you should quickly find the answers to, as in your current state you should not even bother wasting my time and challenge me for a spot into the second round of the UltraTitle. I hope you are able to find these answers as I would enjoy a challenge from you Karl Brown, a challenge from an individual with spirit, not the weak pathetic person you are today.
If you are not able to find these answers before our match, I will make it my responsibility to remove you from this competition. Not only as my first opponent on my way to winning the UltraTitle…
The following is said with extreme purpose and meaning.
But for the honor of your family, as your mere existence is a scar on their memory.
Without honor, an individual is without a purpose or meaning of existence. One must protect the honor of their family with every fiber of their being, as dishonoring the family is worst infraction that one can commit.
When a family has been dishonored, their accomplishments are forever blackened by the transgressions committed by their decedent who decided against carrying on the respected name that was given to them.
Not only has Karl Brown; who wrongfully assumes he is a dragon, dishonored his family, he has placed himself on Kiyomori’s bad side. A man who decides to enter into such a state has nothing of note to look forward to in their immediate wrestling career. While being a man of principle and purpose, he is not above using someone of lesser respect as an example.
Karl Brown will soon be made an example of, and he will never forget the day he faced Kiyomori.
We open to the back of a man who is wearing a leather jacket, our view slowly backs off and more of the man comes into view, we notice that he is wearing blue jeans as well. The peaceful sound of a gentle breeze, along with the clear sky tells us that we are indeed outside. As the zoom recedes a little further, we are taken aback by the beautiful view of a field of Cherry Blossom trees in full bloom. Further beauty is caused by the mystical Hanafubuki, the blizzard of falling Cherry Blossom petals, a result of the breeze. The figure stands still taking in the majestic scenery before turning around and showing that this is the respected Japanese wrestler known as Kyiomori. He takes a moment before speaking as the petals continue to rain behind him.
Kiyomori: I enjoy taking in the beauty of the Cherry Blossom trees, standing here causes me to focus on life, my career, and what I need to achieve to accomplish my goals. In all honesty, my mind has been taken over by the upcoming UltraTitle tournament, as all of you have seen, I have recently made various harsh statements towards my opponent Karl Brown. These statements were made after waiting quite some time to make my presence known to the rest of the field.
Kiyomori pauses slightly before continuing, his trademark eyes are full of passion and thought.
When one does not react quickly to an opponent, it is not a sign of weakness; instead it shows that individual is of wise nature. One entering into the realm of the unknown has less promise than entering into one that has been unveiled in front of you. If one purposely enters the realm of the unknown when they are not forced, they have made a decision that could end up being fatal.
When one attempts to predict the future when dealing with the realm of the unknown, such an individual proves themselves to be foolish, arrogant, bordering on the edge of idiocy. This individual does nothing other than put undue stress and pressure upon their performance that is more likely to lead into embarrassment than success. When an individual purposely enters the realm of the unknown and makes predictions of the future they will not only suffer embarrassment…
They set themselves up for destruction…
Kiyomori pauses momentarily allowing his words to sit in the minds of the viewers.
Yes, these words are directed in the direction of my opponent Karl Brown. He believes that he will easily defeat me and make his way into the second round of the UltraTitle. This is the very man who believes being open-minded has something to do with being prepared for his opponent inside the ring…
Kiyomori shakes his head in disbelief.
English is my second language and I do not make such mistakes as to the meaning of simple words. His lack of respect for me and his misplaced cockiness proves that he is nothing over than a simple idiot. The British are known for their class and intelligence, yet he shows none. So, he has not only proving to be a dishonor to his family, but to his country as well. Just look at my opponent in the first round. Karl Brown brags about how talented he is, how proficient he is in Taekwondo, how he is…
Kiyomor iagain scuffs again before referring to his opponent by the following name.
The Dragon…he breeds of the cockiness that would lead him in believing that he has nothing to worry about facing me in the first round…Karl Brown believes he has nothing to fear by stepping into the ring with me and there is no pressure by doing so. This is the same individual who does not take his training seriously enough in order to tell the UltraTitle camera staff to wait until he’s done. That is the lack of respect he shows myself and the tournament, this is the same individual who believes he will simply defeat me without having to even to worry about who I am. Kiyomori becomes visibly upset, not in such a way that he seems angry. His facial expression and posture are in a way that tells the viewer that he is annoyed by his upcoming opponent Karl Brown.
I will make this extremely clear for you Karl Brown, your fire cliché, is insignificant. Your arrogance is insignificant as well. Your rationality is again insignificant. There’s only thing of significance that you have said or done in the past few weeks and it’s something you had no control over…
You were placed as my first round opponent in the UltraTitle. I will take great honor in being the one who breaks you. That is something already written in the annuals of this tournament Karl, I am going to break you. I will make you doubt who you are, I will cause you to question your entire existence. I will break your ignorant dreams of advancing to the next round, as this is all about the UltraTitle, no more or less.
He pauses for a moment.
There is no one else I would rather face in the first round of the UltraTitle, as not only will I have the satisfaction of setting you on a new career path, I will have the opportunity to hopefully face a more worthy opponent in the next round. While I am aware of your skill, there is no doubt in my mind that you will crumble once you have to face the man you right off as being someone not worth your concern or effort.
I stand here as someone who does not have any respect for Karl Brown, he has lost any opportunity he ever had at gaining it with his mindless comments about a tournament that is way above his level. He will soon come to realize that…
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