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Round 3: "Total Elimination" Eli Flair vs. "The Only Star" Eric Dane

Chad

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Round 3: "Total Elimination" Eli Flair vs. "The Only Star" Eric Dane

Roleplay begins Sunday and ends next Sunday. 3 RP maximum.

You may submit a card segment for use on the card by private messaging it to the following usernames: Chad; Ford; User Poets Not all segments may be used (i.e. we might only include winners, just depends on the amount of craziness).
 

User Poets

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Someone just wants a hug.

(FADEIN: on Eli Flair's basement.

Seriously.

You'd never guess it, because it looks like a recording studio. That's because it is a recording studio. To save costs, save time, and allow themselves more creative freedom, it's a lot easier for Eli's wife's band to go to their basement.

At the moment, Eli Flair is sitting in a high backed desk chair, leaning back with right foot resting on his left knee. He's moving a little bit from side to side like he's filled with anticipation and energy, but he remains in his seat.

Eli is dressed typically, in a sleeveless T-shirt that, today, is advertising 'Cocky' Craig Miles, with his smoke - filled sihlouette and the caption 'American FUCKING Hero' across the front, cargo shorts to his knees that are frayed and worn, and old Converse low tops. His black hair was out of its ponytail and hanging somewhat limp near his face. )

FLAIR: Shhhhh.

(Eli puts his finger to his lips, with a smirk forming on his face. With a quick half - turn, he presses a button on the master control board.)

ERIC DANE (VIA RECORDING): Yeah, all the little chicas like you used to cream their little bloomers when I came through, World Championships swaggering in and out of every town from New Orleans to New York to New Delhi, with my bad-boy attitudes and my leather jackets, fast cars and full wallets.

(Eli turns his gaze from the board and gives the camera a skeptical look. He looks like he's about to say something, but he presses another button.)

ERIC DANE (VIA RECORDING): You’re a lot of talk and too much posturing, kid. You’re a boy playing at a man’s game.

(Eli turns back around, looking like he is literally swallowing back a sarcastic comment. He puts up his right hand with his index finger pointing toward the ceiling, but turns back to the board. A third button.)

ERIC DANE (VIA RECORDING): But understand now that they won’t be cheering for you because they like you, Matt, they’ll be cheering for you because they hate me.

And that’s the entire point.


(With the completion of that particular sound byte, Eli put his feet up on the monitor.)

FLAIR: You know--

(He stops.)

FLAIR: One more.

(One more it is. He hits one more button.)

ERIC DANE (VIA RECORDING): While my reputation may indeed proceed me, you can rest assured that gone are the days that The Only Star rested his laurels or survived by the skin of his ego.

(And with that, Eli spins his chair around again, facing the camera head - on.)

FLAIR: Congratulations, Dane, you got your wish.

I assume, at least, that your wish is an opponent that you've heard of - that you can point to achievements and legendary moments of, and say 'Yeah, that's my speed.' I assume, considering the fact that you brought my name up against Go Go WhoGivesaSh't along with Cancer Jones and Chris Sheffield, that we were the three opponents you thought might present a challenge to you.

And of course, you enjoyed sh'tting on your opponents for the past two rounds as being beneath you. Amusing to watch, at least.

I'm sure I would've been more amused... if I'd ever heard of you.

(Eli shrugged.)

FLAIR: I'm not saying that to be flippant either, Dane. Other than your first two rounds and the information you provide to the Ultratitle office, you're a complete mystery to me. Apparently you're a two time Hall of Famer and a multi time World Champion.

Way to go, sir. Two highly enthusiastic thumbs up to that. I'm sure you enjoyed riding that success on down the hallway against Gogo Sweettits and Cagey Matt, but unfortunately for you, you're about to hit the wall.

Let's get this outta the way, Dane. You're in two Halls of Fame? You're a multi time World Champion?

Well, I'm in one Hall of Fame, officially, and if the promotions themselves didn't fold, I'd probably be in at least two others. Over the course of my fifteen year career, I was a fifteen time World Heavyweight Champion. I was a second - tier, Hardcore, and Tag Team champion an additional forty eight times in the same space. I am only one of two people on the face of the planet who can say he was both the CSWA World Heavyweight Champion and the FWO World Heavyweight Champion - and when you throw the Asylum Fighting Championship into the mix...

Well, Dane... it's kind of a big deal.

So now that we've established that championship reigns and Halls of Fame are nothing special, we can get down to business.

(He folds his hands behind his head and leans back in his chair again.)

FLAIR: I think you're trying too hard.

(Eli smiles.)

FLAIR: You accused Cagey Matt of being too much talk and too much posturing, but that's completely pot kettle black, Dane. Are you honestly trying to convince anyone that someone besides you is talking too much? All you do is talk, talk, and talk, in the hopes that you'll beat your opponent into submission by the strength of your words alone. Have you ever actually faced off with someone who recognizes your diarrhea of the mouth for what it is?

You told Cagey Matt that the fans would only be cheering for him because of how much they hate you.

Do they, Dane? Or do you just wish they did? Because I have to tell you, every word outta your mouth seems like it's carefully scripted in order to be the cool jerk, the one the fans love to hate. And you don't get to be the one they love to hate if you don't secretly wish they'd love you, Dane.

It's like a standing ovation... for the diabolically insecure.

Now, I've been hated by entire cities, Dane. And I don't mean the clever catchphrases and attempts at edginess that you've apparently built your career on - I mean I've had entire arenas booing my every move and throwing everything at me from wadded balls of paper to cups to cans to folding chairs. One night, in the middle of the Merritt Auditorium in Greensboro, a fan somehow threw a fire extinguisher at me.

And I've been loved and embraced by the same fans to the point where I got a citation from the borough of the Bronx for littering and blocking the sidewalk due to the overwhelming number of cards, letters, and flowers that were left outside my building the night my daughter was born.

In Toronto.

To turn your boasts toward Cagey Matt on their head, Dane, I feel obligated to let you know that they only reason that you're going to be booed out of the building; the only reason that the fans are going to hate you as we come face to face in the middle of the ring... is because of how much they love me. This match is not about you, Dane.

If I wanted to, I could spin this match from the beloved, popular Original Nobody, Eli Flair, coming home to dispose of the arrogant prick, hated Eric Dane, to one of the petty, vengeful, hated King of Extreme, Eli Flair, against some guy who apparently did something significant once.

Not only is the story of this match completely out of your control, Dane, but the fans love me for having my finger on the trigger the way I do.

That's the first difference between us.

(Eli lifted his arms above his head and cracked his wrists and knuckles before dropping his hands in his lap.)

FLAIR: But maybe your obsession at running roughshod over your first two rounds' opponents, Dane - maybe your obsession at getting to this point where you'd get to face off with the King of Extreme... Maybe it's based on something deeper than professional curiosity.

You're what, thirty nine years old, Dane? And as I understand it, retirement didn't take when you tried it the first time.

Why?

Did you run out of money, did you not realize that no longer wrestling means there's no longer weekend shopping sprees at the Sharper Image? Did you run out of things to do at home and alone, with your thoughts as your only company?

There's only two reasons why someone would come out of retirement in this industry, Dane: either you needed to or you wanted to, either for personal reasons or financial ones.

Does it sting, just a little bit, that I don't need this, Dane?

I retired for good three years ago, after wrestling the single greatest match of two thousand nine. This was two years after I officially retired after wrestling the single greatest match of two thousand seven. This was two years after I announced my retirement at the conclusion of NFW Ultratitle Season 2, after wrestling the single greatest match of two thousand five.

Win or lose, Dane, I'm going to be coming back to the house that is my home in upstate New York, confident in the knowledge that I've once again stolen the show, and that the only reason the fans remember my opponent's name is because they were on the other side of the VERSUS. Win or lose, I'm still the rarest of the rare in this industry: I made my money, I made my name, and I never once compromised. I can't even count the number of times I've wrestled in excess of an hour, or the number of times I've wrestled in the most barbaric of conditions.

Stairway to Hell.

Barbed Wire.

Death Games.

Wheel of Death.

And I have never, ever, spent a single moment in the ring that I would regret.

(Eli leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees.)

FLAIR: Truth is, I feel sorry for you, Dane. Multi - time World Champion, two time Hall of Famer, et cetera, and whether you win this match -

- Unlikely -

- or whether you lose this match -

- Inevitably -

- the reports will still have Eli Flair in the spotlight and Eric Dane in the byline. It's nothing personal.

And now you'll be able to focus on your World Title shot against Castor Strife. Good luck with that, kiddo.

(Eli laughed.)

FLAIR: Like I said, Dane... you made it almost halfway through the tournament, and now you're hitting the wall.

Unfortunately for you... this Wall hits back.

Good luck.

You'll need it.

(Eli stood up and reached behind the camera, switching it off. FADEOUT)
 

Justin

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Someone needs his medication.

One thing that Eric Dane has never been accused of being was a patient man. Inside of the DEFIANCE offices he kept a strict schedule, and everyone around him knew that it was their asses on the line if they didn’t adhere to it. He’d been sitting in what was supposed to be a comfortable chair for the better part of half an hour past the time of his appointment, the tell-tale signs of a headache began beating at his temples.

“Mr. Dane?” The same idiot blond receptionist that hadn’t recognized him when he arrived called from behind her desk. He glanced over the morning’s edition of the Wall Street Journal at her, concealing his growing annoyance with a cheerful smile of recognition. “Five more minutes.”

His nostrils flared. He forced a polite answer.

“Whenever Mr. Seitzer is ready for me.”

She hadn’t paid him a bit of attention. He’d been in Greensboro since last night, and he’d been here at CS Tower since fifteen minutes before he was supposed to. His appointment was for eight o’clock in the morning, as he requested, and as his Rolex rolled over to eight-forty he let his thoughts wander, partly to pass the time, partly to get it out of his system before he went in front of a camera.

Suffice it to say in his mind’s eye he was strangling that blond-haired twit with her own telephone cord for having the gall to make him wait. Past that perhaps Rudy Seitzer found himself being thrown out of a fifteenth floor window for such shoddy business practices, Eli Flair found himself ground into dust and sent finally and properly into retirement, and Chad Merritt found himself scrambling to get some posters printed up with one less aged CSWA legend’s face to plaster all over it.

It occurred to Dane that he’d never worked Greensboro. Partly because he’d always hated the wrestling scene in the Mid-Atlantic, and partly because CSWA had always had the region in a stranglehold and he’d never worked for for CSWA. He found himself thinking back to where he was when CSWA was in its infancy, or even when it was on top of the world, and he smiled, a genuine smile for once, at the remembrances of his earlier work in the wrestling business.

A few minutes and a few daydreams later and the little blond secretary answered her ringing phone. Dane snapped back to attention and he listened to her every word.

“Yes sir.” She listened. “Yes sir.” She stifled a chuckle. “Of course, I’ll send him right up.” She hung up the phone and went back to what she was doing.

A flash of red came to The Only Star’s face, but he let it pass. They were baiting him, of course. He’d come into this tournament an outsider, nevermind his tenure inside the New Frontier where he was also still considered an outsider, and nevermind that his own promotion was affiliated with ESEN TV just like everywhere else that mattered. Eric Dane wasn’t a man who made his mark on the business on ESEN, and he was the leader of a fairly surly and defiant group of wrestlers who had had trouble with the censors and everyone else since before the ink had dried on the television contracts.

Not only that but he’d flaunted the fact that he didn’t need CS Enterprises for his promotional time, and he didn’t show all that much respect to all that many people who had made everyone in this building a big pile of money for a very long time. Eric Dane was an antagonist in every sense of the word, and he was in hostile territory. It was elementary for them to treat him the way he’d been treated this morning.

They might not admit to it, wouldn’t want to lose any face, but everyone in this building from Chad Merritt to Ivy McGuinness to the man he’d come to speak to, Rudy Seitzer, was horrified of the idea of Eric Dane not only beating their poster-boy, but going on to win the ULTRATITLE and then having that kind of ammunition to run off at the mouth about for the next however many years before another tournament is booked.

Of course they would do anything they could to agitate him. Maybe even spur him into doing something they could throw him out of the tournament for. It was a solid play, but it wasn’t going to work. Eric Dane had been working the politics of the wrestling business for his entire life, and just because he wasn’t dealing with complete morons this time around didn’t mean he was at any kind of a disadvantage.

It only meant that the playing field was even for once.

He smiled, another genuine, toothy smile. Things were looking up.

“Mr. Seitzer will see you now.” She must have finished her Sudoku. Eric set his paper to the side and stood to his full six foot four inches in height. He strode over toward her desk but changed his direction when she jabbed a thumb in the direction of a bank of elevators across the lobby from where he stood. “Fifteenth floor, he’ll meet you in the studio.”

Eric muttered obscenities to himself as he plodded across the tiled floor of the lobby and mashed the ‘up’ button with an outstretched thumb as he came to a wait again. The elevator took its sweet time coming down from wherever it had been parked and the doors opened to him with a ding. He stepped in, pressed ‘15’ and waited. He felt the metal box around him lurch into motion and looked down one last time at his watch.

It was now eight fifty-two in the morning.

The elevator opened again with a cheerful ding. Eric stepped across the threshold and took a look around the vaunted TV studio of the CSWA. It looked a lot like his own DEFIANCE studio. In reality, it looked like damn near every studio he’d ever set foot in. The major difference was an asinine poster on the wall depicting the record-book of the five-minute promo. Dane raised his brow at this, cutting a five-minute promo was the first thing you learned in any wrestling school worth its beans that has an affiliation to a televised wrestling product.

“Ahem.” Someone cleared their throat.

“Rudy Seitzer?” Eric asked.

“Marvin Parsons,” The man answered. “I run the cameras, Rudy asks the questions.” Eric mentally noted that Marvin didn’t offer his hand to shake. Rather, he nodded in the direction of another door. “Rudy’s waiting for you on-set.”

Dane made his way through, meandering around equipment until he found himself standing face to face with an older man in a suit. It wasn’t as nice as his own, but at least there wasn’t a CSWA logo stitched on the breast. “You must be Rudy.”

“Yeah,” Rudy answered. “I must be.” He motioned for Dane to take a seat, there were two chairs three-quarter facing each other, a couple of fake plants to frame the scene, and a green-screen behind them.

Both men sat down, Marvin came through and fastened a couple of microphones to their lapels and then he was back behind the camera where he belonged, motioning the two of them that they would be recording in five...

Four...

Three...

Two...

He made a fancy pointing gesture as the little red dot appeared on the camera. Both men sat with smiles, an ULTRATITLE logo surely plastered over the green-screen once this went to air, and an hour or so after they should have, things finally got under way in Greensboro.

“Welcome again wrestling fans and fanatics! As always I’m Rudy Seitzer and I’m here in the CSWA Studio with the very defiant, very outspoken Eric Dane, owner of DEFIANCE, Number One Contender to the NFW World Title, and one of thirty-two men left with a chance to walk away from ULTRATITLE with the trophy in his hands-”

“You don’t like me, do you Rudy?” Eric interrupts.

“How do you mean?”

“You make me wait for an hour in a lobby on the ground floor, then you rush me up here, you barely introduce yourself and you don’t even bother to shake my hand, neither does your producer, and then you jump in front of the camera and start putting me over in the most boring, stock footage kind of way that you can come up with. What gives?”

“I don’t understand how any of this pertains-”

He is interrupted again. “Everything pertains to everything in this business, Rudy. A man in your position should know that much at least.”

“I don’t know you,” Rudy retorts. “How could I not like you?”

“You know of me.”

“I do my research.”

“Of course you do.” Eric sits back, relaxed as ever in front of the camera, not fifteen seconds in and he’s already taken complete control of the interview. “And from what you’ve seen, you don’t like me.” It was no longer a question.

“To be fair,” Rudy replied. “You’re not a very likeable man.”

The Only Star indulged himself with a chuckle.

“No.” He shook his head. “I most certainly am not. Not to the untrained eye, at least, and certainly not to anyone whose sole experience with me is through tapes and hearsay. I dare say you might like me if you got to know me. I’d offer you a job myself except I heard that CSWA is reopening.”

Seitzer tried to get the interview back on track. “Is that why you’re in Greensboro? Looking to go to work for CS Enterprises?”

“Hardly. I came here to get a feel for my opponent, and you come highly recommended. As I hear it, you’re the only person that Ivy and Eli would let interview them back in the day.”

“That’s true enough.” Rudy didn’t like the way he’d been ambushed by Dane, not one little bit. True to his reputation he remained the picture of professionalism. “I suppose they just like the way I do business.”

Sharply, Dane retorted. “I bet you never let them wait for an hour in the lobby.”

A few tense seconds passed as Seitzer tried to compose himself and get things back on track. In the back of his mind he toyed with the idea of losing the footage of this interview before Dane made it out the front doors of the office.

Rudy soldiered on. “Let’s talk about ULTRATITLE, shall we?”

“Let’s.” Dane gave him nothing.

“You practically walked through your first two matches in the tournament. You’ve shown absolutely zero respect for your opponents, and you’ve made it plain that you expect to be in the finals of this tournament. Care to comment on any of that?”

Dane furrowed his brow. “To be frank, my first two opponents couldn’t get together and squeeze enough brains out of both of their heads to figure out how to beat me if I laid down and took a nap in the center of the ring. The one was a rookie little girl, completely out of her league, and the other was a ten year veteran who was wetter behind the ears than the girl. You sign up for a tournament like this and you expect to deal with a bit of fodder before the actual competition starts.

As far as my making it to the finals, anybody who signed their name to the contract for this thing who didn’t see themselves not only making the finals, but winning the whole thing and lifting that trophy over their head at the end has absolutely no business being here. I’m not here to make a good showing and get noticed, I quit having to try to get noticed fifteen years ago.

This isn’t just something to pass my time, Rudy, believe me my plate is plenty full. Joining the ULTRATITLE was a calculated business venture, a way for me to step into the ring with some of the best the business has ever had to offer and prove once and for all why I call myself The Only Star in the wrestling.”

“I know about forty guys who would disagree with you about that.” Rudy replied.

“I know a thousand. And I’ve beaten them all, one by one, until I’m blue in the face from telling people like Eli Flair just exactly why and how I am who I am, and I do what I do.”

“Speaking of Eli,” Rudy started, “He had a few things to say about you and your legacy. Care to retort?”

“I do not.” Eric sneered.

Rudy raised an eyebrow. “How’s that now?”

“I don’t care to retort to anything that Eli Flair has said about me.” He said this in a very deadpan manner so as to not leave it open to discussion. “If he thinks that he can come off of the couch, his gut covered in mustard and Cheeto-dust, and stroll into this tournament and bully me into apprehension with a couple of strong words then he’s lost already, and I’m sitting here wasting everyone’s time.” Once finished, Eric smiled again. Turns out he was having an exceptional day here at CS Enterprises.

“So...” Rudy wasn’t quite sure how to respond. “If you don’t want to talk about Flair-”

“Come now, Rudy, I never said I didn’t want to talk about the man. I said I wasn’t going to answer the man.” Eric chided. “There’s a difference.”

Exasperated, Rudy gave in. “Well then, this is your time, have your say.”

Right about now is when the camera-shot would tighten in on Eric Dane, cropping out the interviewer so that the main attraction could have his say.

“Here’s the thing, Eli. You can babble on about what you did fifteen years ago or twenty-five years ago or forty-five years ago all day long, and it doesn’t matter one iota to the way this is going to end when I get you inside of a ring. The fact of the matter is this, you’ve spent the last several years playing Mr. Mom and sitting in traffic all day waiting to go to the gym to spend thirty minutes on a stationary bike and you somehow have the outright guts it takes to think that that combined with a very lengthy and respectable resume is a reason for you to see your name on the marquee on the outside of the building one more time.

And you’ve so cleverly covered your ass by telling the world that you don’t need to be here, and you’re perfectly happy to take your ball and go back home. You know, because you have Real Outside Interests and a Totally Fulfilling Life outside of wrestling.”

He rolls his eyes.

“In actuality what you’re doing is pissing on this tournament, the ULTRATITLE itself, and your own boring legacy. Let me explain something to you, you obviously addled and overrated son of a bitch, by out and out saying that none of this matters to the high and mighty Eli Flair, purveyor of cheap beer and provider of cheap studios to bad musicians, you’re undercutting everything that all of us Actually Employable Wrestlers are trying to achieve with this tournament.

You can tell me I don’t matter, and guess what, it doesn’t matter. And not because I say so, but because you chose the easy way out. Rather than glory, you chose the suburbs. Hooray for you, you made enough money that you can send your kid to a private school and she can still grow up to be a poorly raised brat under the yolk of an ego-maniacal asshole of a father desperately seeking an excuse to get away from the howling brood and that nagging wife for just long enough to sniff the panties of that glory that you so willingly gave up all those years ago.

People like you make me sick, Eli. All hopped up on your own dogma, convinced of your immortality because ten years ago you won a few hardcore matches. I want to actually physically scoff at you, Eli, because you’ve become the butt of the joke and you aren’t even smart enough to get the punchline.”

Eric stands and walks toward the camera, in full on promo-mode now.

“This isn’t some silly little game to me, Flair, this is SERIOUS BUSINESS and you should understand that I am a SERIOUS MAN. I’m not here to pop the buyrates, and I’m not here to collect another paycheck so I can make that next car note. I am here to win and I’m going to do it at your expense and by any and all means at my disposal.

And I want you to remember this moment, Eli, this last grasp at glory and adulation that you’ve so miserably limped through. While you’re sitting at home on the couch flipping back and forth between reruns of American Gladiators and the Lifetime Network Movie of the Week and you’re screaming to the kitchen for a sandwich you can be reminded of when you stepped into the ring with someone who was your better on every level and you got sent home to live the rest of your sad, safe little prefabricated life and you can smile, because you didn’t need any of this to begin with.”

A pause.

“And me, well I can polish my ULTRATITLE, bemused at the man who used to be Eli Flair.”

With a final smirk he is done. He walks right up to and then past the camera, and right out the door, leaving Rudy and Martin in their studio to do whatever it is that they do when the people who actually draw money are done putting it down on tape.
 

User Poets

The Shadow Pope
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We Don't Need No Education

"This is fine," said Ivy McGinnis, as the taxi pulled over at the corner. She handed him a wad of bills and stepped out into the warm June air. The low radio and cabdriver CB faded into the sounds of the Bronx in the evening.

Its rhythms were soothing to Ivy, as time spent in her 'official' home of Orlando, Florida, to her, never compared to the home she grew up with.

As she walked down the street toward TC's Pub, the activity around her was slowly replaced by a growing lyric.

"Breaking the Law" by Judas Priestess was playing, very loudly, on the jukebox. The all - female Judas Priest tribute band did not have an album out, but since the ownership and management of the bar was on friendly terms with the band, they had several top notch rehearsal demos available for public consumption.

"MCGINNIS!" shouted several people as soon as the diminutive blonde stepped inside the door. Ivy slapped hands with several regulars as she walked around the bar. Valerie and Tracy were working tonight: Cally was somewhere with Knox doing the NFW thing or the EPW thing or wherever it was he worked.

Didn't matter: he'd be running both of those promotions before the year was out.

"Good evening, ladies," said Ivy, "Where's Tweedledee?"

"Downstairs," said Valerie, as she handed a short glass with two fingers of single malt to her boss, "He's been there for a few hours now."

Ivy took the glass and didn't break stride. She walked around the bar, through the swinging door, and turned a sharp left. If she kept going straight she'd have ended up in the kitchen where Spider put together his meager bar food.

Although, his nacho plate with the homemade salsa and guacamole was second to none.

No, the first left was a straight path downstairs, to the storage room for all dry goods and non-perishables.

And a wrestling ring.

The building used to be Coop's Gym, the dive where legendary hooker and shoot wrestler Terry Cooper taught the neighborhood kids the finer points of professional wrestling for nearly fifty years. He was good at his job, too: his early students might be lost to the territory system, but in the past thirty years he broke 'Total Elimination' Eli Flair, 'Impulse' Randall Knox, and the greatest wrestler you never heard of, 'The Enigma' Johnny Fizzbin, into the sport.

When he died, he willed the building to Eli Flair and Ivy McGinnis, and when they realized they didn't have the time to devote to training the next generation, they turned it into a neighborhood pub. Still, Eli could never part with the ring where he learned his craft, and it was moved into the basement. It was completely non - functional; the ceilings were only about twelve feet, the five foot three Ivy McGinnis could barely stand up straight in the middle.

But it was always where Eli came to think.

"You ready for this?" asked Ivy.

"Yeah," said Eli, sort of absent - mindedly, like he wasn't really thinking about his answer. He was lying on his back in the middle of the ring, his black hair spread out messily around him. He wore his black leather trench coat despite the warm weather, along with a plain black button down shirt and black leather pants and boots.

"Good," replied Ivy, "Rudy's waiting. He said he can get something up on the website if we can get it to him in the next two hours. And I really wanna get one back for him."

"Get what back?" asked Eli. He still hadn't moved: this was his mellow spot.

"The way Dane was such a dick to Rudy," said Ivy.

That's when Eli sat up. He rolled once and swung his legs under the bottom rope and sat with his arms on the middle, and he looked at his best friend. "I mean, I'm not defending him," he said, "but he was just confrontational, really. He's just scared and out of his element and playing defensive. I thought it was funny, actually."

Ivy shook her head. "No, I mean what happened before the spot filmed."

"What happened before the spot filmed?"

"I told you already."

"No you didn't."

"Yeah," repeated Ivy, "I did. I asked Rudy why he looked so upset during the entire interview, and he told me what was what, and I forwarded it to you."

Eli stared at her.

"In your email," said Ivy.

Eli shrugged his shoulders.

"Didn't you read you email?" asked Ivy.

Eli raised an eyebrow.

"Of course you didn't," said Ivy, deflated, "Have you ever checked your email?"

"Never," said Eli, "Wasn't it enough that I finally bought a cell phone?"

"Which you never take with you!"

"That wasn't part'a the deal," replied Eli, "If I'm not here, home, or the apartment, I'm with you or Angel. Isn't that enough of a way t'get in touch with me?"

Ivy didn't say anything, she simply punched him in the chest.

"So what's up with Rudy and Donny?" asked Eli, ignoring her attack.

"He was apparently pissed because Rudy made him wait," said Ivy.

Eli rolled under the bottom rope, and they started to walk to the stairs. "That's not like Rudy. Did he have reason?"

"Apparently the camera guy called out sick and they couldn't find anyone to man the camera. Rudy tried to find anyone who could do it but there wasn't anyone else there, he had to drag Marvin out of the nerve center to man the thing."

"Did anyone tell Dane what was what?"

"Dunno," replied Ivy. "Why?"

"Because if they told Dane, this is why we made you wait, then he's just a dick," said Eli, "but if nobody told him this very reasonable reason why he had to wait, then he kinda had a right to be pissed. I'd be pissed at Rudy if he ever made me wait."

"He never made you wait," countered Ivy.

"Hence I've never been pissed at him."

They walked out of the basement, and, presumably, a block away where Eli Flair still kept an apartment in the Bronx.

(FADEIN: A Bronx, New York fire escape.

It was twilight. Not the terrible pseudo vampire movie more commonly known as twiglet, but it was about twenty minutes after the sun went down, and the sky was glowing red all through the background.

In the foreground, Eli Flair was sitting, with his elbows rested on his knees and his hair pulled out of his face for once - in a ponytail behind his head. With his hair out of his face, the scar that ran from his forehead to his cheek over his left eye was very well pronounced.

He looked like he had something to say.)

FLAIR: So that's where you're taking this, Dane?

I'm old and retired and unfit to take place in this tournament, so you're going to be taking this match in a cakewalk, fueled by your disdain for everything corporate and mainstream, because you've carved your place out in this tournament as the outlaw and the outsider and you'll refuse to acknowledge anything that points anywhere else.

If you were tryin' to be any more underground, I might need a shovel and a treasure map.

But what's your angle here, Dane? The fact that I left the sport three years ago?

That's a dangerous game, Donny.

There was a two year gap between my match with Dan Ryan at NFW's Wrestlebowl Two and my match with Sean Stevens at FWO's 2009 Cyberslam, but it didn't stop Trip and I from stealing the show.

I train just as much now as I did then, and I'm in just as good shape now as I was then, cheetos - and - mustard - stained shirt and all. You should know, Dane... you're just as good as I am right now, and no better.

(He smiled, and ran his hands through his hair.)

FLAIR: Two and zero, Dane.

That's the only thing that matters right now: the Ultratitle.

And I say that despite the fact that, according to you, I'm currently disrespecting the entire thing.

(He shrugged.)

FLAIR: Are you f'king kidding me?

I'm livin' the dream, Dane.

Take a thousand wrestlers from all promotions and all income levels and ask 'em what they want outta this business, and I'll guarantee you one thing. The young kids, the ones who have't had their eyes opened yet, they'll tell you they wanna be World Champion.

The other eighty percent, the ones with family at home, or the ones who've learned the truth: the ones who've been hitting two hundred and fifty shots a year for at least five years? They'll tell you they wanna make enough money t'go home.

I made enough money t'go home, Donny. Twenty times over. The past decade was all about giving back t'the sport.

So, not only are you not a rebel for questioning my dedication to this tournament, but you've shown your ass as the tool that'cha are for tryin' so hard t'drag my name through the mud: a name that's pretty well f'kin' respected in this corner'a the industry.

It's like the wannabe - edgy musicians who rail against the government. You really wanna be edgy, you accuse the jews'a runnin' Hollywood, then you can see how anti - establishment y'really are. Yeah, you're edgy, but you'll also never work again.

The ultimate irony to me, Dane, is that you don't get it now, and your arrogance pretty much determines that you'll never get it.

You've gotten spoiled from the first two rounds of the Ultratitle, coupled with what I can only assume has been your entire career: you're surrounded by a lack of competent competition.

It's as if you think declaring yourself better than me makes you better than me. As if your imitation of the rebellious attitude that Randalls, Tsunami, and I held for realzies seventeen years ago meant that you were truly as defiant as the three of us.

Maybe you are; you're probably not. But be that as it may, I've taken out better wrestlers than me time and again, and I've been far better at this than countless wannabes that've managed t'pin my shoulders t'the mat.

The point is that it's entirely possible for you t'get lucky this round. And I hope you believe in luck, because it's your only saving grace.

Because the alternative: the reality that you built where I'm somehow transformed into a soccer mom trying to keep the cellulite from working its way up my ass? It's laughable at best and wishful thinking at worst. But keep believing it. I love barely getting past my opponents, it makes me feel alive and it makes me happy to give the fans their money's worth, but if you're gonna overshoot me by as much as you're braggin' ya will, I'm just as happy to step between the ropes, knock your overconfident ass to the canvas within five minutes, and be home in time to read my daughter some Dostoyevsky before she goes to bed.

I'm serious, she's smarter than both'a us.

But go forth and be Defiant, Dane. The world sees you for what'cha are: a disposable hero with no more rebel in ya than the latest super bowl halftime show.

I'll prove it, too. If you were truly an outlaw on the edge of this industry like you claimed, you'd've torn me down on your own broadcast and gotten Defiance Wrestling over at the expense of cS Enterprises. Instead, you conformed to what the Establishment wanted you to do and your adversarial attitude only served to make for lousy television.

In other words, the Dead Kennedys might've been the greatest punk rock band that ever existed, but there's only one Jello Biafra. Only Brandon Cruz would sit in the chair and try so hard to convince us that he's not an agent of The Man.

If he was really punk rock, he wouldn't've had t'convince anyone of anything.

Think about it.

(FADEOUT)
 

User Poets

The Shadow Pope
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The answer

(FADEIN on the 2012 ULTRATITLE logo, with Eli Flair, in full 'battle dress' of a black button down shirt and twenty five year old black leather trenchcoat. In other words, the setting is one of a thousand of Eli Flair's classic promos.)

"I had a vision the other night, a vision of the future of the Ultratitle. I came to a revelation about the nature of Eric Dane and this match, and my journey past the halfway point of this tournament."

"Eric Dane is envious."

"Listen to what he's said. More specifically, listen to everything that he hasn't said."

"He runs a wrestling company called Defiance. He calls himself the Only Star. We're supposed to have visions in our brain of an upstart promotion filled with rebels who buck the system, a wrestling promotion too dangerous to see the light of day."

"Except that he's negotiated his rebellion onto ESEN, the network that shows nothing but professional wrestling. Except that he's forgotten, when your promotion is filled to the gills with rebels 'n outlaws, being a rebellious outlaw becomes the standard and, by definition, nobody is a rebel."

"Look at the way he uses his mainstream name recognition."

"I might consider V'ger Tits Ending to be a tool, particularly the way he talked down to Paul in the IGC show a few days ago, but I give the kid credit, he's used every bit of mainstream media he's managed t'get himself on to put over the International Wrestling Federation. He's focused on the survival of the whole, not the glory of the one."

"How many times, during the Ultratitle, or during your slow and subtle takeover of Castor Strife's media empire, have you put over how awesome Defiance is, compared to how often you've put over yourself?"

"There's nothing wrong with that, Donny - as long as you're callin' a spade a spade and admitting that you're a career minded opportunist. It gets t'be a problem when you try to put yourself over as an underdog fighting the odds that the establishment's set against you."

"And that's where we find ourselves, Dane... the fact that, whether you wanna admit it t'yourself or not, you wish you were me."

Eli ran his hand through his hair and let some of the strands fall where they may.

"Think about it."

"You're so protective'a your bad boy image that y'take it out on Rudy Seitzer of all people, 'n he's the only one you've spoken to so far who doesn't actually have a stake in who wins. Your opponents? They want you t'lose. Your entourage? They want you t'win."

"Rudy? He gets paid the same no matter what, so he just wants things to be entertaining."

"You expect to be treated as a rebel and an outsider because you're trying too hard to portray yourself as a rebel and an outsider, and consider it justification to act like an as**ole because you're being treated like an as**ole because you acted like an as**ole on Rudy's Grapevine."

"I, on the other hand..."

He stopped for a moment and held out his arms, being overly dramatic just for the fun of it.

"I stepped into the biggest wrestling promotion of the 90s, a conservative, mat wrestling based organization with emphasis on clean cut heroes and relatively benign villains - even in the middle of what would later be referred to as the Hardcore Revolution, the biggest villains were still focused on wrestling. Ray S Cornette's Corporation and his relentless bids to take over the CSWA. The Whiner who Would Be King, GUNS - his legendary battles with Hornet and Randalls were still based in the wrestling ring, not with kidnapped entourages and movie studios. Even Mike Randalls himself, the legendary 'King of Darkness' who staked GUNS' knee... he was, before anything else, a wrestler."

"And when I stepped into the biggest wrestling promotion of the 90s, as a twenty three year old kid with less than six months of practical experience as a professional wrestler, I really was the outcast and the rebel, simply because I didn't fit into their presentation."

"And within a year, without compromising a shred of my own integrity, without saying a word that I didn't agree with, and without throwing a single punch in the ring that I wouldn't've otherwise thrown... I was one of the most popular and most loved names in the company despite being the exact opposite of what the fans were conditioned that their favorites were supposed to look like and do."

"But that's the past. Right, Dane? Who cares what happened twenty years ago, all that matters is the here 'n now, right?"

"So let's look at the here 'n now."

"I've been accused of pissing on the legacy of the Ultratitle because... I assume it's because I came outta retirement to compete. Because if I win this thing, there's no promotion with braggin' rights. Because if I win this thing, there's nobody who can come after me to say 'You're an overrated hack, Flair - and I'm gonna prove it by beating you and claiming the Ultratitle crown for my own.' I assume."

"And because I outright stated that I don't need the Ultratitle to be content with my career. Because I stated, in words or actions, that a win would be a nice bookend to something I never finished during the course'a my regular career and that losing would mean that I stood up after the three count, soaked in the standing ovation that the fans would be giving me, and going home without a shred of bitterness to the whole thing."

"Because I chose the life in the suburbs after a career of standing ovations, while you're one of those fundamentalist hardliners who seem to think that if you're not somewhat angry and somewhat bitter, all the time, if you can honestly say that you're going home - and mean it - that you're doing it wrong."

"Look at you. You're thirty nine years old, and when you look at our careers side by side, there's really only one difference."

"On one hand, you run your own wrestling promotion. On the other, I'm actually happy."

"I can safely say that I've made more money than anyone else in the history of professional wrestling, based on the amount that actually made its way into my accounts and stayed there. While my contemporaries were buying the mansions on the hills and the ten thousand cars and making that the measuring stick for their success, I was living in a rent controlled one bedroom apartment in the Bronx that'd been in my family since the Depression and was actually making a plan for life after professional wrestling, whenever that happened. And I made that money based on the fact that I wasn't afraid to go into someone else's backyard."

"What did you say, Dane? That you were the outsider that everyone wanted to see fail? I was the outsider in the CSWA, I was the outsider in the FWO, I was the outsider in The Asylum, and I was the outsider in the NFW."

"Handwave it away by saying that I was part of the inner circle of three of the four, and contemptuously took the World Title in the Asylum just because it pissed Joe Campbell off so much, but I didn't begin in any of those places as someone's friend or confidant. I walked in the door, a complete stranger, and took over by virtue of me being me."

"I didn't make this big show of being from the outside, Dane - and I didn't compromise a thing about myself to step through the door of any of those companies, or the smaller ones in their orbits - and yet I either held their World Championships or wrestled in the greatest matches that they'd ever see."

"Or both."

"Which is why I'm here now, Donny. Because if I really was, as you stated, sitting in traffic to get thirty on an exercise bike to keep myself in reasonable shape, hoping my resume would be enough to limp as far as I can into this tournament, then I'm afraid you're even more delusional than I thought."

"The fact of the matter is, I'm treating the Ultratitle like I've treated every other professional endeavor I've ever undertaken in this industry: I'm coming in, I'm wrestling as hard as I can, and I'm going home when the music's over. I'm not here to make friends or half ass it, and if you truly think my presence here is based on any part nostalgia... then your evening is going to be painful, embarrassing, and over far too quickly."

"Three states that I'm sure you're familiar with."

"But the biggest disappointment of all about you, Dane? For all your attempts at being edgy and outlawed, for all your claims of Defiance because it's built into your business, you're the most conformist - to - the - system opponent I can remember having."

"Based on your own dissertation of my career, a wrestler can reach the top of the industry, win countless championships, wrestle against the biggest names in the sport and have a resume that lists some of the most memorable matches that this business has ever seen - and leave on his own terms without a single misstep that would've indicated he left one match too late - but if he didn't do it the way you would've done it, then he's doing it wrong."

"And that, Dane?"

Eli laughed.

"That's the most pathetic part of all."

FADE
 

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