Of Systems And Desire
[We find ourselves on a field on a clear summer day. In the backround, tree branches full of green leaves dance in the breeze, while in the foreground, the grass is mostly steady, holding the green and white patterns of a painted football field.]
[And standing front and center, just behind a pile of footballs on the ground, is The Last Nighthawk himself. Christian Light is dressed in a black Steelers polo shirt with yellow trim on the collar, as well as some blue jeans and white football cleats. As he looks at the camera, he takes off his Aviator sunglasses and hangs them by the arm on the front of the polo shirt where the split in fabric meets.]
[Picking up a football, he cradles it in his hands as he speaks.]
“The Last Nighthawk” Christian Light:
I love this time of year.
It’s a great opportunity for a good beach run, which I am a huge fan of.
With all the nice weather going on, its ideal to take a walk through the local park and picnic with the wife and kids.
But probably best of all, football preseason is in full swing. And while my favorite team lost their preseason opener, there's some positive that can be taken from it in that they're working out the kinks in their system.
[Christian cranks his arm back and fires the ball down the field. As he does, the camera shifts, and we see that he’s throwing to a young man in shorts and a Mepham high gray T-shirt. However, the throw is way over the young man’s head.]
Light[to the running young man]:
[Christian leans over and grabs another football as the camera shifts back to put him front and center.]
There are a lot of ways that wrestling and football are similar, more so than most people realize. The comparison is usually there because of the physicality of both sports...both require men, usually of unusual size, to attack each other in some physical way, each other until one of them can't answer the bell, so to speak. In football, this results in broken plays, sacks, turnovers, or long touchdown drives. In wrestling, we trade in wins and losses, pinfalls and submissions. But the middle part is still the same: two or more people grappling with one another in as physical a way as possible in order to meet an end.
[Winding up, Light throws another pass to another streaking kid. It’s on target, but it hits the kid in the hands and falls to the ground, incomplete. Christian, sighing, picks up another football.]
The wrestling and football comparisons can go on for days...pride in their sport, fame and sometimes fortune to the victors, a potentially hard life when it’s all said and done...but one thing that is also similar that people fail to pick up is that both football and wrestling have systems.
[Light uncorks another throw, a longer pass than the last two. This one falls short of the receiver. He leans over and grabs another football.]
In football, the systems have to do with the type of people and type of plays that someone wants to run. For example, some teams embrace the fullback role, while others don't have a fullback on their team at all. In wrestling, people embrace different fighting styles and different training techniques to hone them into their own personal weapon of choice. In either sport, it's important to match the personnel to the system. Mike McCarthy uses an attacking 3-4, so having a 4-3 linebacker that specializes in zone coverage and cleaning up any edge runs isn't going to be a good fit. Likewise, If I tried to emulate a style like, say, Rezin, it wouldn’t be too effective. I don't have the size and agility to pull off a Rezinrana or a Damascus Heel with the necessary effectiveness it requires to win at the highest level.
Or the stomach to carry around that bucket of sludge, for that matter.
But with my combination of size, strength, and amateur wrestling background, it makes more sense for someone like me to have a hybrid power / grappling game. Not only am I naturally disposed to that type of fight, but I have the necessary training to pull it off.
[Light throws again, this time a swing pass to someone who catches it and runs with it down the sideline.]
It takes a perfect merge of system and personnel to win consistently in football, and wrestling is no different. But the best match of fighter and system in the world does you no good if you cannot execute it to perfection.
And that's what separates my opponents this week from the rest of the pack. Not only do they have systems, they're able to execute them to perfection as well.
Rocko Daymon. A former EPW World Champion. Winner of his first two matches back in the Empire. Like Bruce Arians, I'm sure you're a man that could be successful wherever you go, because you have a system that works and you get the best out of yourself each and every time you step into the ring.
Eli Flair. The Dick LeBeau of the Empire. Heck of a run in Ultratitle 2012, and if my glance at your history is accurate, very successful the world over. And yet the only thing that you want is to keep looking forward, keep making every single day the best day of your career. I admire that kind of passion...and I hope that when I move along in my career, I can have that same kind of passion for continued success.
But who does that make me in this analogy of late-2000's Pittsburgh Steelers staff?
[Another pickup, another throw, and this time, it’s right on target down the field for a touchdown.]]
Not because he’s the “head” coach. Not because he’s just somehow better than either of his coordinators; there’s evidence that the three treated each other as peers.
But because in two thousand seven, he was a relative new face to the scene. Fresh, hungry, and recognizing the challenge he would have in climbing to the top of the mountain in the world of the NFL.
I’m fresh, relatively speaking, to this scene. I’ve had a couple of matches, and I’ve been told it’s clear to anyone watching that my talent is there to make it happen. Heck, Eli Flair implied it himself.
But will that be enough to overcome my opponents’ seemingly unending thirst for victory by any means necessary?
[A pause, and a small chuckle from Christian Light. In the background, we see a bunch of young men in gray t-shirts and shorts take off running down the field, the throwing portion of this practice over. Whistles follow the running men, the sound trailing off in the distance. As this is happening, Light shakes his head, almost in disappointment.]
With the two elite talents in front of me, I never in my wildest dreams thought the conversation would turn to who’s got the desire for the win. Really? That’s the big, burning question? Who wants it more?
Let me give you both the answer.
If either of you think you want this win more than me...then that man needs to see a neurologist. There aren’t words in a language known to humans that describe the desire I have to win this match. If I didn’t want to win this match...if I didn’t want to be the best that the Empire has to offer, I would have gotten in my van, driven home to Garden City,and spent the rest of my days retired from wrestling and enjoying the sight of my twins growing into productive members of society.
Why else did you think I signed on with the Empire? What, did you think I liked the sound of head trauma in the morning?
I hate it.
I hate hearing the ringing in my ears every time someone kicks me in the head. I can’t stand the double-vision, the headaches, and the long stays in emergency rooms nationwide.
But it’s all worth it for a chance to be the best.
Maybe that seems mundane to someone who’s won fifteen World titles, or who’s been to the top of the Empire mountain. But to me, it’s everything. To me, I’m fighting like my Empire Pro Wrestling career is on the line.
Because, moreso than either of you gentlemen, it is.
If Eli Flair had a bad match, they’d give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a 15 time World Champion, 2012 Ultratitle runner-up, and he’ll bounce back.
If Rocko Daymon, former World Champion and local legend, has a bad match, it’s OK, because he’s Rocko Daymon, he won a heck of a four-way last time, and he’s good for a better effort next time, we know that.
If I have a bad match...my second in a row...do you think they’d even think about picking up the phone and calling me back in?
I’ve won four World Titles over the years that I’d consider “major”. Five if you count the “Defiance Master of Wrestling” moniker. But none of those have any connection to the Empire. If I go out there and I let you two out-work me, out-hustle me, and beat me soundly...then I might as well say my final goodbyes to all the fans of the Empire, because that will be the last night darkening their doorstep.
I have no clout to stand on right now. My own fault for getting suckered into a bad situation in the IC Title four-way match, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.
But all that means is that I’m as hungry as anyone you can find anywhere in the world for this win.
And I know, in my heart, that if I stick to my system...if I stay within myself...that I can make it out of this match with my hand held high.
Opportunities like this...Mike Tomlin knew they don’t come around too often. Especially with two extremely talented assistant coaches waiting in the wings should he fail.
He coached his tail off. He worked with the men he had...the personnel he had.
He grabbed opportunity by the short and curlies.
And he became the youngest man to win the Super Bowl.
He achieved greatness. Immortality, if you will.
And that’s the direction I want to be headed.
I will not stop until I become the best.
Now I don’t doubt what either of you have said. You both are hungry, for your own reasons. And I wouldn’t insult you by standing here and saying that you’re not as hungry as I am. What makes you great is that you have that same fire burning within you. Whether it’s your primary motivator or not, it’s always there, simmering under the surface.
So when you stand here and tell me, Eli, that you’ll sacrifice both of our careers to win this match, I believe you. And when you, Rocko, say that you want to be the man who’s never satisfied...who smells blood and strikes for it with all the power and the fury that is personified in an avalanche...I believe you.
But then...well, it seems we’re at an impasse of desire. We all want to win just as badly.
So then what’s the real question we should be asking ourselves?
Who’s going to make the first major mistake?
[Light‘s look becomes deadly serious as he glances down at the camera.]
If you value this match...if you value this win...then it better not be either of you.
Because there’s a certain man with a blonde flattop that will be waiting for his moment.
And he’ll put you out like flicking a light switch to take it.