We find ourselves in the company of a man many are already calling The Intergalactic Champion, because he is. Yes indeed, Phil Atken stands in front of the camera, suited, booted and belted. The Intergalactic Championship is slung over his shoulder as he stands in front of the Space Invader IGC backdrop with a mile wide smile.
Atken: There's something that just feels ever so rewarding when you become a champion, especially in circumstances that seemed to upset the apple cart just a tad. I mean, I'm a realistic man, I know where IGC pushed in all their chips, they already had the Leyenda de Ocho posters, t-shirts, hat, mugs, clocks and explicit photos are ready to be fired out to the masses the minute he became the inaugural Intergalactic Champion. Only, it just didn't go down that way, did it Morty? You and the commission, you could even envision a scenario where a man like me would would out as your champion, with your belt on your own territory. I mean hell, look at this damn belt, it has Ocho written all over. It's a damn Space Invader. It screams 8-bit.
Phil holds the title a little closer to the camera as if proving his own point before slinging it back
Atken: So at Survivalism, Morton Murphy and the IGC, they had set up this lovely cart, selling delicious Ocho Granny Smiths when suddenly Phil Atken appeared to boot the whole thing over and I gotta admit, I loved every second of it. The shocked faces, the panic sweat, the rushed phone calls, the chaos that ensued as I held the Intergalactic Championship up above my head in front of the screaming 20,000 plus at Survivalism, it gave my life meaning again. It gave me purpose and a sense of belonging. The purpose to screw over these weasels in authority who think everyone will bend to their will. Yet as I said, here we stand. I'm your champion and you're positively fuming about it, aren't you? It's why that narrative of just how close Ocho was has already started to permeate the blogosphere, the tweeters, the web 2 point 0s and everywhere inbetween. Please. I have great respect for Ocho, I have no respect for the hype machine that wishes to propel him forward because he better suits the image of the Commission. Still, I'm your champion now and it just can't stop eating you up inside, can it?
The smug grin returns to the facial features of Mr. Atken, growing wider by the second, it was some consume us all.
Atken: I mean why else would I have the one tool that has been the greatest asset in all of my career taken away from me? You know as well as I do that I am one of the best scouters in the business, you know that analytics and experience brought me the victory on that fateful Carolina evening. So, my reward for become YOUR champion is to go into my next match blind? To walk to the ring and wing it? If I was a Cynical Cynthia, I'd start to think you wanted to belt off me already. I'm sure that can't be the case though, that's just unthinkable. Infathomable. No, I'm sure that you allowing me to go to the ring unprepared and without the foggiest idea of what to expect is your idea of treating your new champion to a “night off”.
Atken: Now of course, those of you who tend to be more... lacking in mental acumen... may think that at “Sorry, You're Not a Winner” I actually have the upper hand. That I have the trump card, the ace up my sleeve because my opponents have to go to war before they even step inside the ring with me. You may think that this gives me some great advantage because I'll be battling against the infirm to defend my championship. That couldn't be further from the truth. No matter who from the trio makes it out of round one, they'll have that adrenaline bumping in their veins, they will be ready for war and I speak from experience, you can't great that blindly. You can't create that unique kind of energy that races through you after a hard fought victory by sheer force of will alone. I know I certainly can't re-create it, after all I'm not a damn wizard, no matter how many people keep posting the contrary on the internet.
Phil despondently shakes his head at the well known internet “wizard” rumours that have been floating around the innanet recently.
Atken: Still, if there's one thing that a man like me thrives on, if there's one thing that pushes me forward and puts me at the top of the pile more than anything else it is that remarkable power of spite, that warm fuzzy feeling it gives you to put those who have doubted you and belittled you in there place, that's the kind of thing that no amount of money can buy. At “Sorry You're Not a Winner”, I have a chance to get that feeling once more and I will do everything in my very power to get there. Still... let's look at what the IGC has put before me... let's raise the first mystery curtain and see the challengers to my throne. To my reign. Who are the people who want to remove Phil Atken from his first title victory in five years? Who would be insane enough to do that? Let's lift curtain number 1!
We cut a fancy computer graphic of three curtains labeled “1”, “2” and “4” because everyone will wonder where curtain 3 is. Curtain number one raises its virtual self up to review the giant maw of Magnus Destructo behind it.
Atken: Ah, Magnus Destructo. How can you describe a man like Magnus Destruco. Hell, can you describe a man like him? Is there a word in the English language that you could accurately label his unique brand of batshit as? I always have problems with men like Magnus, men who have stated on camera their desire to eat my face, my mind is always stuck in two camps about them. I never know if I should fear them or pity them. Generally, in my experience I always tend to err on the side of pity because jesus, a man like Magnus, he has one hell of an over-compensation problem. The abundance of swearing, the non-stop yelling, it's like Lenny Bruce became a Power God.
There's a part of my brain, a small one I must admit, that really hopes that when I walk down to the ring in front of the Maryland Massive, I find myself standing eye to eye with you Mr. Destructo. You're just crying out for someone to end the pain, for someone to make it all better and I can be that man. I can help you. I can right you back up and have you safely sailing down the sea of sanity. I know that's what you want to. I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice. You need that failure on the biggest stage of them all so that you can become you again. A normal, sane human man. I get that, I'm a caring guy. I'm a bleeding heart, really I am.
I know you're sick of your current lifestyle, how much water with red dye you've consumed and pretended it was blood at your local Church of Satan coffee evenings. How many times you've went down to local gothic bar and got on the crotch swing... whatever that is... I just assume they have something like that so that you may prove how much pain you can tolerate. I know you're quick tired of adding to your nipple ring collection.
I can end that pain, I can stop you from the mundane and I will stop you. I will ensure I stop you because I cannot stomach the idea of the cumulation of five years hard work going out the window to a man like you. A man who... let's be honest... never grew out of his teenage angst stage, who still thinks that Slipknot is a “thing”. To go down to you in the ring would be to validate every critic I have ever had. It cannot and it will not happen. For both our sakes.
Still, lets get on to the next curtain, shall we?
Curtain 2 now raises as if by the power of a mighty sorcerer... or computer graphics animator and we find the beautiful face of Aran Thompson behind it.
Atken: We're sure he's not erOn, right?
Voice from Off-Camera: We're certain sir!
Atken: But he's Relentless too?
Voice: It's not him.
Atken: Thank god for that. Still at least we're moving up the ladder of respectability here. You know, I once once a member of the Jolt roster, back at the crazy time where they capitalised the J, not the O. I remember my time there, I was treated like crap, I was humiliated a dozed times over and some nut job kept on running around backstage an insisting that I should use the belly to belly as my finisher. It was an awful time, a time I do my best not to remember and yet here I stand in front of a man who is waving the jOlt flag right in my face.
Yet I don't seem to hold the same ill will towards my friends at jOlt than I did for my buddies at ACW. My battle against ACW really felt like a battle of redemption for me, to show the company that tossed me out on my ass in the middle of the motorway that I was, am and shall always be better than them. Better than their best, better than what they could throw in front of me. Maybe it's because those who tormented me in Jolt are not those who make up the company now, while in ACW that was far from the case. I just have a hard time building up the same level of bile towards Jolt and that's a concern for me. Bile is pretty much what propels me forward in life.
Yet there is still something that seems to have been stuck in my craw from your comments Mr. Thompson. Something that could build that ball of bile that I greatly desire quite easily. It strikes me as completely and totally fascinating that you wish to come to the IGC and you wish to challenge its champion, hell you wish to become its champion and yet you can't even get my damn name right? You can't even show the damn common courtesy to stand in front of the camera and call out the correct person? I'm sure Phil Atkins, whoever he may be, is already quacking in his damn boots that the Mr. Relentless himself, Aran Thompson is gunning for whatever title belt he hold dear.
You claim you're ready for battle against me and yet you don't even know who I am. That is god damn astounding. It terms of mental faculties, you might actually be lagging behind Magnus Destructo. I will damn sure do everything in my power to ensure you don't leave the show with my title on the grounds of the god damn principle of the matter.
Ah, there's that bile I was hoping for. I knew I could find a reason to detest Mr. Thompson, I just had to look for it in the right place. Still, we have one more curtain to peak behind, do we not?
Our final smiling face peaks out from behind curtain numero three...o. The former High Flyer himself, Jack Harmen.
Atken: I must admit, for all my cynicism, for all the bitter bones in my body, I'd be lying if this hasn't been a match I've wondered about for a long time. Eleven years in fact. Ever since my beloved trainer allowed me to hang around backstage at an IWO event many years ago. I saw the then High Flyer, I saw what he could achieve in the ring, I saw the connection he had with the fans and I knew that I wanted to test myself against that man. I wanted to prove to myself that I could hang at the level of a High Flyer.
A year later I was offered the chance to appear on an IWO show myself, there were touring around Philly by then, pretty much in their death rattle phase and I had a big money contract elsewhere but I just couldn't say no to the allure of the IWO. I thought I may even get to put myself to the Flyer test if I showed up there. Sadly, he was already off elsewhere, making the big bucks, becoming this established legend in the business and the window of opportunity to face him was closed.
Over the years, I've come close to standing across the ring from the great Jack Harmen, Ultratitle semi-finalist and yet it's never really happened. Our paths have almost crossed in NFW but that chance to go one on one, that chance to test myself... that has never happened. Not for ten years. The prospect of a match that is personal to me, a match that is ten years in the making almost makes me wish I could influence the triple threat somehow. I want Harmen but I know I may not get him. It's that feeling of powerlessness that really shouldn't be allowed to worm its way into a champions psyche.
Still Jack, as much as I respect you, as much as I wish to test myself against you, I couldn't help but notice only one of us walked away from Survivalism with our head held high. That gives me a good gut feeling about what could happen in Maryland. I've always wondered but after that night, I think I know, I just hope that the power of fate gives me the chance to prove it.
It's an interesting field the our esteemed Commission has put before me. I will be very eager to see who emerges from it. Let me assure all three of you fine gentleman though, this belt, this Intergalactic Championship, it's mine. When I leave Maryland, it will still be mine. I don't care what the company wants, I don't care who they consider as a marketable commodity, I'm not the horse about to go to the glue factory, I'm a damn grizzly and I dare any one of you to try and enter my lair. I will claw your fucking faces off and unlike you Destructo, I mean it.