You've got this promotions two godsends... Hornet and my brother, Mark Windham... both mysteriously nowhere to be found, but no doubt watching at home, knowing that they'd never be able to compete.
"What did we care, any one of the three of us, where we sat or how we lived, when youth throbbed hot in our veins, and our souls were all aflame with the possibilities of life?"
--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(One week ago, CSWA owner Stephen Thomas was standing in front of a golden statue in the CSWA Hall of Fame. One display next to the statue commemorates the formation of the UNIFIED World Championship, a task that took two years. Another display gives the run-down of the Hall of Famers accomplishments, a litany that includes 50 championships in the CSWA and out, an ULTRATITLE Championship, the longest-reigning CSWA World Title holder, a three-time UNIFIED Champ. Even to the biggest wrestling fan and amateur historian there are a few listed that are surprising -- an AAWC Universal Title, a WWR North American belt. For a man who has spent the bulk of his eighteen years in the sport in the CSWA, the jumble of letters on the wall is intriguing, at the very least.
A man sits on the turnbuckles in the nearby ring that serves as a center to the Hall's displays. It's the original ring that CS Enterprises borrowed, then eventually purchased, to start the CSWA in the warehouse that once stood on this spot. Around the ring, the displays and statues commemorate some of those who came up through the company -- Mark Windham, once a great champion and friend before he went over the edge; Mike Randalls, never a friend but once a partner and the most intensely focused wrestler he's ever known; Eli Flair, the most updated exhibit and one of the few men in this business that he's ever called friend... but not for years.
The camera crew from upstairs is finished setting up. He takes one more look at the golden statue and almost laughs out loud. If that's Hornet, then who is this sitting inside this old ring? The old Hornet... before Windham's treachery, before treachery of his own, before Ivy left him, before the painkillers got hold of him... the 'old' Hornet was so... so... young. And the 38-year old inside the ring is not.)
"Young men want to be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot..."
So one week ago, Stephen Thomas comes down from the penthouse and announces that, out of nowhere, it's time for ANNIVERSARY. And that in one swift stroke of supposed genius, he's decided that there will be one match... in which everything in the CSWA is on the line.
Not to ruin anybody's day, but he's a few months late. As most of you know, the CSWA's anniversary date was back in March... not that it's ever stopped he and Merritt from using it to make a buck in the past. Hell, we've had ANNIVERSARY in July, ANNIVERSARY in October, ANNIVERSARY on New Year's Eve... why stop now?
In fact, if I recall, this past ANNIVERSARY, most of us were finally making it back home from the latest of Thomas's shenanigans. Much like the shipmates on the Minnow, our three-day cruise turned into a castaway stay on "Thomas's Island," where we got to see Thomas and a midget relive their "Odd Couple" moments. And so the CSWA is stuck with the bill for a cruise ship and several hundred passengers who went through one of the more harrowing experiences of their lives.
And all that screams, "It's time for ANNIVERSARY!", doesn't it?
Then comes the announcement. The one week a year that I'm scheduled to be out of the country. But I don't want to get all paranoid on you... it might wad up Lindsay Troy's panties again, although I hear Troy's doing that personally these days. So I fly back in from Bucharest, start listening to the messages on the machine... "Are you in?", "Why haven't you been on TV?", "Did Thomas finally get rid of you?"
Then I turn on the TV. Troy's on every channel, every talk show, even hocking some sort of combination grill-and-panty-warmer on the Home Shopping Network. And not only him, but "Masked Ryan," tag team champ... I mean US Champ, Kin Hiroshi, even Phoenix and JA are in the mix. And not only *them*, but rocks have mysteriously turned over revealing K-9, Lawrence Stanley, Troy Douglas, Jason Payne... and even Eli Flair.
But there's still more? It's a litany of the great and not-so (I'm not telling which is which) between "Heat Vacuum" Eron, "Eli Flair angled me my one good title" Xias, Nova, John Doe, Karl Brown, Daymon, Zell Hunter, and a whole lot of rooks and journeymen that I haven't seen before.
And just for kicks, we've got the newest member of the Windham family, Lindsay Troy-Windham.. hell, all I needed to know she was a Windham was the way she always decided to stick her nose in my business even when she wasn't wrestling in the CSWA or NFW... and the latest man to walk around with a CSWAwrestlingStore.com version of the UNIFIED Title, Professor Tremendous.
Did I hit everybody? Oh...I almost forgot President Poop's too entrants.. aptly named The Mexican Toiletries. I imagine they'll be managed by Dr. Guggen and that guy who liked to roll the "Wheelbarrow of Justice" around.
With all that name-dropping out of the way, let's see where to start... well, I could spend another thirty minutes like most of you talking about this title and that promotion... or I could spend some more time telling Kin Hiroshi why he's not fit to walk around with the US Title and how he couldn't handle me at PRIMETIME.
Or I could just do like everybody else and start with Troy. (The husband, that is.)
A year ago, Troy, I almost stood up and applauded you. At CSWA17, for the first time in a long time, you stepped up to a challenge other than Eli Flair, and it looked like you realized the importance of what you had done. Despite looking like the "Slacker" of old early on, you cut through the UNIFIED Tournament like a (Slack)knife, then went on to do something that not many can claim, you pinned Dan Ryan on the biggest stage in the sport.
But then you did something that I could've been proud of. You stood up and acknowledged the fans. You stood up and acknowledged your opponent... you even offered him a rematch whenever he wanted it. You stood up like man spoke from your heart... something that very few in the sport have ever done in front of a crowd like that. You talked about coming back from injuries that you didn't think you could recover from. You thanked the people who had supported your career.
And you talked about RESPECT. Your desire for it. Your need for it. Most of all, from your brother. Then when he came out, you took the UNIFIED World Title, the huge prize you had just won, and you strapped it around your brother's waist.
And you signed your death warrant.
Along with it, you almost signed the CSWA's. Everything had been built up to crowning a new UNIFIED Champion. The Thomas screw-ups of the past -- especially stripping Ryan and strapping Melton -- were supposed to be wiped away. You were supposed to stand up to all-comers.
And instead you ended up back in the hospital. Your career in jeopardy, the belt in Mark's hands, and arenas cancelling left and right.
"It's too violent."
"You've got no draw up top."
"I'm not letting Mark Windham in here, he's too unpredictable."
So Thomas decided that he'd float his own boat, so to speak, hiring a cruise liner and using that as his way to run shows on the cheap. And so, in the dead of winter, you stowed away, ready to make your big surprise, ready to reclaim the UNIFIED Title and try to make up for being the worst draw the league ever had as the UNIFIED Champ.
But instead of the glimpse of the Champ-That-Could-Be, we got the Troy Windham of old. Instead of "Mr. CSWA," we got "The Epitome." The man who refused to defend the title against Mark Windham or Dan Ryan. The man who was so scared of being injured again that he wouldn't face down the Windham Curse. The man who once had offered a rematch to Dan Ryan, now couldn't be bothered to even defend the title on the whole Cruise.
And now we've got the Troy Windham is so sure of himself that he's offered a promise, no, a GUARANTEE... that he'll walk out of one of Thomas's concoctions intact and with the title around his waist.
Then again, I forgot. Troy Windham never went through some of the other CS-nightmares. The WHEEL of DEATH. The FIREHOUSE Match. The House of Pain. No, you somehow avoided those and then got baptism by fire against Eli, sacrificing yourself on the altar of Extreme and almost killing yourself to try and prove that you deserved RESPECT.
Now you've got time to call out not only the other thirty-some-odd in this match, but some who haven't shown up. Did you really expect your brother to show up in a match where he can't run in and try and break your neck for what, the seventh time? For Mr. "Lost Soul" to actually show up in a match where he can't claim all the glory for himself?
Or Craig Miles? Craig's too busy trying to prove he can pull "the big one" over on everybody to do anything but run his mouth when called on. And I doubt that the "Cocky One" is going to show up any place I am unless it's his home turf and he's got explosives built into the ring.
Boogie Smallz? The man's passed out in a crackhouse somewhere, his wallet picked over, begging for one more hit.
Beast? Didn't he just do a movie?
Eddie Mayfield? The man's too busy doing Miles' wife... or was that PRETENDING to do Miles' wife... or was that PRETENDING but REALLY DOING Miles' wife... and arguing about a belt that nobody's shown up for (except Tom Adler) in thirteen years.
Michael Manson? Please -- he's got his own little Alice-In-Wonderland world going in the NFW complete with a whole field of goats for him to (bleep). After what I did to him in the "Bamboo Cage" match, or whatever it was called... hell, the NFW wouldn't even show it because it didn't put him over, he's certainly not gonna show up in the CSWA where I can really show him up.
Doc Silver? It's not 1995 and Doc can't book himself into the UNIFIED Title (although I hear he's still trying). Unless he's got enough chloroform and blow darts to bring down an entire ring, I don't think we have to worry about everybody's favorite old fart.
The only things you've got in common with Joe Namath, Troy, are that you both like to get wasted and treat women like whores. If you're dumb enough to GUARANTEE a victory in a match with forty people in it, some of whom you've never wrestled against, then you've gone further over the edge than I'd ever believe.
It means, Troy, that you're closer to becoming your BROTHER than I ever thought possible.
I helped you put that strap around your waist once because the alternative was unthinkable. If I have to help take it away to make sure you don't become a monster like Mark... then I'll do it in a heartbeat.
You're able enough to win, Troy. You could cut through forty people just like you did sixteen a year ago. But that doesn't mean you're GOOD enough.
And it doesn't mean you deserve our respect.
(As the camera pulls back, Hornet hops down from the turnbuckle and climbs through the ropes, leaving the spotlight on the mat's retro CSWA logo.)