Respect. Challenge. But don't underestimate.
“I’m sorry, Mister Johnson isn’t in today,” Laura said to another independent promoter. “Can I take a message? I’m afraid he won’t be in for a few days, he’s got a few things he needs to take care of – yes, that’s right, for MCW. Yes, I’ll pass that along. Thank you.” As she hung up the receiver, she looked over her shoulder at the office door of Leonard Johnson, manager of Blitz, and her boss. She had thoroughly enjoyed going to see the recent match against the Celtic Assassins, and was having a blast with her work. It didn’t hurt that it was well paid. He was a good boss, too – he didn’t overwork her, treated her with the respect you would expect from a man of his age and experience, and was generous with the few requests she made. It was a far cry from the man who stepped in front of the television cameras at wrestling events and scheduled promotional segments.
And it was because of wrestling that Leonard was not in his office. He had decided to keep an eye on the running of the wrestling school he owned, but everyone knew that was an excuse to keep an eye on Blitz. With so much riding on their next two matches, he was understandably a little nervous. In Empire Pro Wrestling, they were set to face off for a chance to reclaim the gold that the Highland Park Social Club had seized just a few weeks earlier. In Major Championship Wrestling, however, was a match that many were saying was the dream match – Big Dog and Dan Ryan from A1E, against a very dominant team. Big Dog himself had admitted that he was looking forward to the match, seeing in it a test, a challenge that neither A1E, nor the teams so far in MCW, had been able to provide. Even though Leonard knew that Max and Paulo wouldn’t slack, he had been less than impressed with their match on Aggression recently, and though confident that they would win, he had to admit that it would be one of, if not the most, difficult matches since the two men teamed together.
“Herr Johnson,” Max called as Leonard watched a tape of their recent match with the Celtic Assassins. “What are the travel plans for the MCW match?”
“Hm? Oh, that, I think Laura’s booking the flight today, she said she’d call when it had been taken care of.”
“You sound worried, Leonard,” Paulo said without looking over his shoulder from the weights he was lifting. “You don’t think we can handle this one?”
“It’s not that. I’m more worried that you two have been letting yourselves slip – you’d never have made it that easy for Irish and Sergeant normally.”
“They caught us on an off day,” the American grunted as he completed another rep. “No chance this time.”
“Don’t get over confident.”
“We’re not, Herr Johnson,” the German replied. “Groβ hund und Herr Ryan are going to be a challenge, but not one we cannot overcome, du meinst dass.”
“But look here,” he pointed at the screen. “See? You were sloppy. You may have won but you were sloppy, and you’re not going to have that luxury this time. This isn’t Golem and X-Ecutioner where you can finish them off by turning one mans submission hold against his partner – you’ve got to make sure there are no mistakes.”
“Leonard,” Paulo called, sounding a little peeved as he rested the weight. “They’re going to make mistakes too. All we’ve got to do is catch them when they do and BANG! A finals match to destroy another NAPW team in.”
“Just make sure you catch them.”
[FADE IN. Leonard Johnson, manager of Blitz, is standing, alone, in front of a Major Championship Wrestling logo. He’s dressed casually, wearing a smart polo-neck t-shirt instead of his usual suit and tie, but he seems a little uneasy. He doesn’t look haggard or tired, but that might be the effects of the make-up and lighting positions that are all the rage in wrestling promos these days. He speaks fairly firmly, yet with an air of civility and respect]
LJ: Semi-final time. And what many are calling the match of the tournament is just a few days away, as Dan Ryan faces the most dominating team under an Empire Pro Wrestling contract – a team that has made it’s way to the semi-finals of a major tournament that another team under his employ could not be bothered to turn up to the first round of. Still, I’m sure watching Joey Melton get destroyed by a clown is more entertaining and will rake in higher ratings than Max and Jecht easily reclaiming the World Tag Team Titles this pay per view, so I should let that slide. Besides, he’s done a great impression of James Irish thus far, so I cannot say much to him until someone presses the volume control on his remote control.
However, his partner, Big Dog, has graced us with an appearance. I must thank you for your kind words, and for actually saying something of half-substance. I say half-substance, because, whilst you used more words than the Celtic Assassins did, your points can be summarised too easily.
Point one – the tournament so far has been a disappointment to you.
Point two – you’ve dominated A1E’s tag team division for a year, and it’s boring you now.
Point three – you want a challenge.
Point four – you think Blitz might actually be that challenge for you.
Now, since three of those points are in fact nearly identical, you’ve said two things. That’s three more of merit than any team thus far in this tournament, but it hardly amounts to real substance from a man who’s supposed to be a legend in this business.
To be honest, I expected more from you. I’ve been watching tapes of you from over the years, and you truly have been a force to be reckoned with, with razor-sharp wit, skill in the ring, and intelligence above the average for professional wrestlers. And to break the ice, you give us that.
You want a challenge, and hope a team that your partner has told you about can provide it.
Are you sure you’re not phoning it in? Are you sure you haven’t gotten so used to running over every team you meet that you’re overestimating your own abilities and underestimating Max and Jecht?
I sincerely advise against it. It will end up with you soundly defeated for the first time in many a year, and I don’t think for someone who’s saying he wants to see how far he can go with what he’s got, to take three steps back, is a very useful thing.
Because whilst you are towards the end of your career, Max and Jecht are in the prime of theirs. They’re both in their early thirties, and, injuries willing, have another ten or so years at the top. Whilst you sit there looking to fulfil your potential in this one match, to show yourself how good you’re not, they have everything to gain from this match. No-one really is considering that they’re going to be able to topple the mighty team from the minor leagues.
[There’s a cough off camera, as if to say “WHAT?!?!” Leonard quickly addresses the cougher before talking to the camera again]
LJ: Yes, I called A1E the minor leagues. Both Big Dog and Dan Ryan have been around long enough to expect that kind of thing from someone in a different company. It’s why you don’t go around insulting the company that pays your cheques. To lower Empire Pro Wrestling to the minor leagues would be something only an idiot would attempt. Take Troy Windham as an example if you want to know what I’m talking about.
Now, Big Dog – I fully expect you to have a lot of bark and bite left in you. I know full well this isn’t going to be an easy match for Max and Jecht, hungry as they are, because I’m not stupid. I’m rightly one of the top managers in the business, because we don’t underestimate. Max and Jecht will respect you before and after the match, no doubt.
But don’t for one instant think that they’re going to respect you during it – because respect all too easily leads to fear, intimidation, and to self-doubt. Rather than looking at you as Big Dog and Dan Ryan, champions, or Big Dog and Dan Ryan, legends, they’re going to see you for what you are.
Big Dog and Dan Ryan. Opponents. Opponents to be dominated. Opponents to hurt. Opponents to beat into submission.
Big Dog and Dan Ryan – the same as every other team that gets in the way of Blitz.
To Dan Ryan, I hope you shake off being mute soon. I know the pay per view is taking up your time, but don’t be a James Irish.
To Big Dog – hope that you haven’t asked for too much, and are able to do what only one team has been able to do in over three years in a straight tag match.
Survive the Blitzkrieg.