(FADEIN: Joey Melton in front of a black backdrop.)
You know bud, this will probably be one of those moments in life that will make me remember why I hate irony. This is where you get me with your $2.00 lb meat hooks and repay me for that night seven years ago in Huntsville. In my defense, I thought, I would’ve bet Cruise’s life on it, that the warm body I paid to have sent to your room was a woman.
What I’ve always liked about you Anarky is you adjust. Maybe he wasn’t what the doctor ordered, but that didn’t drop the curtain on your night. We’ve all had nights like that. If Shame was a dress I’d have nothing else to wear.
At my age I’d probably have no more luck drinking you under a table that I will staying on my feet inside the squared circle, but you get to a certain point in life when you don’t give a **** about the odds, kid. I know it’d look bad if Joey Melton walked out of this thing a winner. I know in today’s world you play in big arenas and Joey Melton plays on cruise ships wrestling for Junior titles, but there’s beauty somewhere buried deep in that scene. I’ve moved my mountains, and really, it’s all more or less more of a bother than a boner. Hornet, God bless him, he fell for the ideology behind the title. I still remember the red faced lectures about what it meant to be THE champion. That was his cross to bear and he wanted every splinter. Never wanted the extra weight, or to hang in shadows like Doc paranoid about sinister schemes being given a foundation to see his demise.
You’re the top billing in this dance and I love you for it, because this isn’t about fortune and glory, kid. It’s about the performance, about the ironies and beautiful moments in life where you realize every sin in your life, even those committed in Alabama eventually come back to haunt you. And it’s about getting my hands on the only person in life I’ve ever wished was dead. Michael Manson.
Michael Manson the man I once billed as employee of the month, torched my vineyard to the ground. Do you have any idea how long it takes to create good wine, Anarky? Not the cheap **** you chase memories of your childhood molestation with, but really good, so smooth you don’t know you’re being ****ed wine? It takes years, and if that zombie hadn’t burned my life to the ground I’d be on every street corner, I’d be at every dinner party that gave a damn, and the essence of Joey Melton would’ve been bottled and sold, but no…I have nothing today but Valium.
Manson’s eluded me for years and I would bet he’d vanish again before getting in the ring with me, but if my other option is being asked in airports across the country if, “you’re that CSWA guy?” I’d rather be in the ring with you getting beat to ****.
I have forgiving skin. There’s nothing you can do to me that hasn’t been done before. Hell, the worst I’ve done to myself.
But I’m sure you don’t care about any of this. Kong SMASH! Kong swat the planes away.
You were always almost too simple for words, Anarky. But America is dead and now promotions are paying you 6 figures to headline when royalty like Joey Melton collects dust.
But the reality is…
Everything dies baby that's a fact.
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.
(FADEIN to a dimly lit bar, where Anarky sits at the bar, drinking a Sierra Nevada. The bar is otherwise empty. The talking heads on a fuzzy TV in the corner are outraged at the recent acquittal of a young woman in Florida.)
“The word’s been getting’ thrown around a lot lately. I guess that’s to be expected in anything called the P* Wrestling Classic. A lot of old names. I wish I could say old friends, but let’s face it… we aren’t exactly in the business of making friends, are we.
“I don’t even really know what it means. Not in this business. Not when people will bend over backwards to avoid offering even a tiny amount of respect for anything anybody has ever accomplished. Because it doesn’t fit their egocentric need to imagine the universe as something meant to glorify them and remind them of their importance.
“And look at me, rambling again…
“Maybe we’re both too old, Joey. I might not quite be in your realm of age, but let’s face it… both of us have probably looked at ourselves in that mirror and had to ask ourselves that simple, undeniable question.
“How much do I have left?”
(He takes a long swig of the beer and contemplates it for a moment.)
ANARKY: “Will I even know? Will I find out in that ring, when I’m a step late, a dollar short? Or will I be punch drunk, like Muhammed Ali, the last one to know that it’s too late, out on my feet, a walking punchline of who I used to be.
“But I guess you’ve moved past all that, haven’t you, Joey. You are a man consumed. A man who seeks vengeance. And the limits of your own body and its age mean nothing to you.
“Me… I’m just an obstacle. A well-paid, high-billed obstacle, it seems, but an obstacle nonetheless. And though you seem content to lull me into complacency, claiming you barely stand a chance against me, I know better.
“I know what desperation does to a man. I know how far the desire for revenge can bring you. And don’t think for one second that I’m going to underestimate you or everything you’ve learned in the last… what, two decades?
“But right here, right now, there’s no Michael Manson and there’s no Hornet and there’s no Impulse. It’s just you and me.
“I didn’t come here to cement my legacy at a top performer or to prove my worth among the legends. I didn’t come to wreak havoc on the likes of Hornet and Manson.
“I didn’t even come here to spread the glory of Empire Pro Wrestling to the unwashed heathens.
“No. I came because this may be the last chance I have to step into the ring with people I’ve known for a long, long time, one more time to remember who and what made me, remind myself that we all have history, we all have a past, that defines who we are.
“Paychecks don’t matter. Top billing doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter.
“When the bell rings, we’ll be new again. We’ll just be two desperate humans, scratching and clawing our way through 30 minutes of Hell, for a chance just to survive, just to move on.
“This is who I am, Joey. Will it be enough? Who knows.
“If not, well, hey… at least we can drink cheap wine and yell at the TV for not sending that sl*tty young woman to the electric chair. There’s always that.”
(FADEIN: Joey Melton stands in front of a CLASSIC backdrop.)
MELTON: That’s right, Anarky you’re no rookie just as I’m no Angel, but if you’re treating this tournament like a company picnic you’re going to lose your dignity in that ring, son. The only friends you have in this business are the ones who are already dead or retired, and either really are usually late on sending Christmas cards and party invitations.
I remember how desperate you were to make friends 15 years ago.
When the boys in the back told Merritt you weren’t ready for the push. It mattered to you to get their attention, to gain their approval. If GUNS said you weren’t ready, well, he was always right, wasn’t he Anarky? And yet you’re here today and he’s on some Ranch married to a homophobic Southern belle.
I’m sure he’s very happy, having a wife who carries his balls in her hands. But this isn’t about the past and the slaves to glory who rode in it…its about the here and now and if you have no further passion burning in your stomach than just to show up and remember the times…I feel for you Anarky.
I feel for you because it means you’re all this business has to push to the top. It means the indifference you showed to greatness as a young kid remains. You were one of the more promising kids that ever walked through Greensboro. Why did it take this long for you to reach the top? It shouldn’t have. We both know it.
Back when Merritt couldn’t dream of another holding THE belt other than HORNET, I was paid to be more of a maker of men. I could name the young stars who have pretty 401Ks because of me, but they don’t deserve this time and space. I made them. And when my shield left, they were left to toil in the wind. Chad wanted me, you know right after GUNS went around carrying a bottle of piss around his neck…he wanted me to throw you on my back. Anarky and Melton. We could have have been devastating together. More so than ARROGANCE, CLAW, or The PROFESSIONALS.
But I didn’t sign off on it.
Because I told Merritt in two years you’d be fronting that company. In reality he wanted me to get you ready for GUNS, for HORNET, Eli and the Windhams. But I thought if you found your own way you’d be so much more dangerous.
And yet it took 15 years for you to front anything.
This is a company picnic Anarky. We’re not going to eat fried chicken and reminisce about the time Ivy busted into the men’s bathroom with explosive diarrhea. The men left in this tournament, mostly, are just loners who can’t say goodbye to the business. Who have nothing else to go home too.
At this point in life maybe we should have our own ranches, with castrating women and kids. But I don’t. I pissed away my last chance at that, so my brand is all I have left. Joey Melton still sells today, not even Michael Manson could stop that.
But you have to ask yourself Anarky, why its taken you to the end of your career to move **** off shelves?
(FADEIN to a single room with an overhead lamp. Anarky sits on a stool, smoking a cigarette.)
ANARKY: “When you first dream of being a wrestler, there’s an idea of what that means. The fame, the adoration, the glory. The training and hard work. The endless tours. The women. The stalkers. The titles and money.
“The respect of your peers.
“Of course… one of the harshest lessons a young man has to learn in this business is about what respect really means. You see, having a title around your waist doesn’t grant you sh*t from the self-serving egomaniacs. And the few wrestlers who actually do manage to respect their peers don’t generally give a sh*t what you’ve done and just want to shake your hand for a job well done.
“I remember that lesson well, Joey. I remember GUNS walking around with that bottle of urine, mocking me, day in and day out. I remember the mounting frustration. If I had accomplished so much, why was this muscled freak giving me such a hard time? Had I cheated? Had I dishonored my profession somehow?
“No. I didn’t cheat or lie or steal. I just wasn’t in his little accepted club of people he thought earned it. This was my introduction to all the little backstabbing and conniving and manipulation that goes on in this business.
“You know all about it, don’t you, Joey. For all your time in the business, you sure as hell don’t respect it. Why else would you come out here and disgrace your old home by openly discussing the supposed secrets that we all cherish? The time-honored traditions?
“I understand we live in the world where the average fan knows a lot more and spends a lot more time on message boards discussing the ins and out of the business. I am not ignorant.
“But maybe it’s just me, but I at least like to pretend some of this sh*t still matters. That I still am not going to wipe my ass with the history of CSWA or anywhere else just to look smart and in the loop.
“As much as I appreciate the history lesson and all the hard work you put into creating my career, which has seemingly been a great big disappointment to you, Joey… f*ck off.
“Did you follow me in GLCW? Or FWF? Or WFW? Or even UWA or IWC? How about WWL? Or NGEN?
“But you presume to know so very much about me cause you met some punk kid 15 years ago with big dreams who thought he could punch Hornet and GUNS in the mouth and walk away. Well guess what.
“I spent the last 15 years proving it, night after night, whether or not you or anybody else was paying attention. I did it in backwater leagues and headlining leagues. In front of thousands and at local bingo halls.
“You think you know me, Joey Melton. Guess what. Everybody thinks that. They see the facepaint, the scraggly hair, the cigarettes… they see that I’m a little bit older, and maybe not as fast, and probably not as ambitious as I once was.
“They see me and they see weakness. A man who isn’t really up to it. A man who is, as you point out, a disappointment.
“I may not be the best at rubbing elbows with the legends, and I haven’t made many friends in the time since I left CSWA.
“But when the bell rings, Joey… when all the posturing and history lessons and sh*tting over the history of this sport is over… that’s when people really get to know me. That’s when you realize that I didn’t just spend the last 15 years waiting for my shot at Empire Pro.
“I spent the last 15 years honing my craft. Going out there, night after night, and reminding every motherf*cking last wrestler that win or lose, they were going to limp out of that ring when they were done with me. They’d f*cking remember my name.
“You’re right, though, Joey. I got nothing else to go home to. This is everything I am. In that ring, I am Anarky. Outside… well… there is no outside. There’s only downtime. The spaces between.
“I might not belong in your little club, Joey. I’ve been kicked out of more than my fair share of clubs, I'm sure.
(OORP: Posting on Steve's behalf while he's on vacation.)
JOEY MELTON: Fifteen years in the business Anarky and now you finally sell.
That’s what they don’t tell you when you sign your first contract is, it’s not up to the Gods when you break through the dawn and are ready to lead the company into the next day, but your fate belongs to the simple man. We’re marketed and sold; the best of us are just demographics. I’ve played for over twenty years because I realized if a man could get his bored housewife to the arena with him, the company had customers for life.
You’ll say it was hard work, sweat, tears.
Blood. Forgot blood.
Do you remember the first time you shed a pint? Felt proud didn’t you Anarky? Those same voices who were bitter and jealous of your talent as a rookie, welcomed you as a new man.
It shouldn’t have taken you this long to be the Main Event. Maybe you cared more about the boys in the back than being sold. You knew you were special as a rookie, but you wanted to wait your turn. You could have had a million in your pocket now but you opted to sleep a little better at night.
In this business you’re always somebodies’ ***** Anarky. Fifteen years ago you resisted Merritt’s golden ladder, but now find yourself having to please a man just the same. You tested well then, you test well now, maybe you’re finally at peace with what this business takes from you.
I’m interested in finding out how you’ve changed. Stronger, for sure. Smarter…well…its all in the eyes of the beholder, aye kid. But I know when you lay down to sleep at night that body hurts like hell. (Melton holds up an empty wine bottle) I’ve told you what Manson did to this bottle, but what has it done to you?
I remember a kid who partied a little too much some said. Took too many risks, and they weren’t sure if he’d be in Greensboro overnight.
Here I am lifetimes later, still struggling with the emptiness of living in glass. Ivy told me recently it was a testament to sheer luck that I’m on the bill after all these years. On one hand she’s right, I’ve been face down on a bathroom floor seconds away from no pulse too many times to remember. But in a business sense there’s always somebody out there willing to pay to see you step on stage and be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
I remember Merritt walking through the locker room, reaching inside a cardboard box and tossing an Anarky action figure at your feet. The look on your face…how everything you are, every dream you had, can be reduced to a handful of plastic and sold.
If the plastic moves off the shelves and you’re half-dead, the plastic says you win. What we didn’t tell you that night Anarky, is it doesn’t matter how big you are, or how talented you claim to be, in this business, and its best you learn it now while your zenith awaits…nothing matters but your little plastic friend.
So, big man you can beat on me, turn me to dust and blow me into the wind, but the real battle may already be won. We’re demographics, kid. This bottle says I have nothing personally, but you see, I’ve spent the last years performing in places most men are too prideful to go, because I know if there’s an indigenous tribe discovered in the Amazon somewhere, there’s a new crowd to play to, and whoever moves the most plastic wins, Anarky.
If we met in a dark alley you could take what’s in my wallet.
But, in a darkened arena the Melton Brand is what will stop you.
(FADEIN to a bench somewhere in downtown Chicago. Anarky is smoking a cigarette. People walk by, going about their business.)
ANARKY: “I’ve got to hand it to you, Joey. It’s pretty rare I find myself at a loss for words. Yet after listening to you tell me, once again, how long it took me to get to the Main Event, I’m not even sure if I should attempt to correct you or just shrug my shoulders because quite honestly, I don’t really give a f*ck of Joey Melton thinks I spend the last decade in a bingo hall.
“You DO realize there’s a big, bold world outside of Greensboro, don’t you? Other wrestling promotions? Other title belts? Do you understand that the world doesn’t begin and end in CSWA?
“Cause if there’s one thing I’m quite sure of, Joey, it’s that you do not have even the slightest f*cking clue what has been going on in my career.
“I don’t give a f*ck about Chad Merritt’s golden ladder, and I sure as f*ck don’t care if you think I’ve finally made it or not.
“I remember fighting Ares in the NGEN Hardcore Tournament Finals in a triple ladder match. I remember it distinctly… like it was yesterday. I remember hitting the Chaos Breaker off of the ladders and through several tables.
“I remember the fear… wondering if I could even move my legs. If I could ever get up. Covered in the broken remnants of wood and tangled in bent metal. And the entire arena is chanting NGEN! NGEN! NGEN!
“And I crawled my broken ass over and pinned that motherf*cker.
“You know what I learned? I didn’t have to be Hornet or Joey Melton or GUNS or Tom Adler or Eli. I didn’t have to be pretty and I sure as f*ck didn’t have to sell action figures to toddlers.
“You want to turn me into a marketable demographic? Go ahead. You wanna wear a suit and talk about commodities and ratings and merchandising conversion rates, that’s up to you, man. It’s not my concern what the suits do. They want to sell me? That's their problem, not mine.
“Sell the Melton Brand to all the kiddies back home in Greensboro. Cause you forget one thing.
“The ring doesn’t give a f*ck about your brand or your merchandising. The ring… it doesn’t care how many years of service you have or how many superstars you made for Chad. The ring… the ring doesn’t give a sh*t who we are or what we’ve done.
“The ring doesn’t love you or give a sh*t if you just want revenge on Michael Manson. It’s beautiful in that way. We are all equals.
“In the ring, I don’t have to be Hornet or Melton or any other brand. I don’t care if people call me a legend or a main event or a big draw.
“I don’t know if there is a better way of doing it, Joey. Or if I’m a great big disappointment to you because you wanted me to be your super special best friend in CSWA. It doesn’t really matter.
“You’re just another in a long list of guys on the other side of that ring runnin’ their mouth about how I should’ve done things their way and cared about their titles and all that other sh*t.
“You want me to play your game and demand respect from the old guard. I’m supposed to keep runnin’ up and kickin’ the football, and you keep pullin’ it out from under me.
“Well come time for our match, we won’t be playing your games anymore.
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