(Fade in: Mark Windham, cut up jeans, and a Boy Troy sleeveless black T-shirt, stands coolly in front of a GXW backdrop. Windham’s hair is untouched. He looks fresh, which is a welcome change, as if a good dream finally played out. No more awakenings mid-term. Mark takes a breath. Smiles. He’s survived. And doesn’t know how.)
MARK WINDHAM: I told you I was your savior Dan, I told you I’d make all your past sins right. You didn’t want to believe me. Or maybe...you just didn’t care.
I forgive you either way.
Look at me, Champ. Still after all these months, acting like your personal Jesus, accepting your worst, and sliding what’s best for me aside.
Hmmm. (Windham strokes his chin thoughtfully)
God made man.
I made Dan Ryan.
Man kills God.
You killed me.
It’s bliss isn’t it, Ryan? When a moniker is thrown in your face? Oh that’s probably too deep for a Monday evening, or entirely full of sh*t.
It’s not for us to decide anymore.
No, our minds are controlled by dead presidents and endless fools who are broken chasing them. The paying public; I.E. the masters of our fate.
Welcome to my world, Ryan. I went through hell in Seattle only to ensure you step through the commercial fire to join me.
I’d ask how it feels to be champ.
But I know.
I’d ask how it feels to lay down every night in a new bed, missing your family, wondering if in the end you’ll be hated or loved.
But I know.
I’d ask if you regret it, yet. The appointments, dates, appearances, I’d ask if you’ve reached your breaking point.
But I know.
Remember Dan...your personal Jesus knows the number of hairs on your head, let alone whether or not you’re ready to cave.
Do you like your life, now, Dan? And be honest, don’t pass bullsh*t across the table and expect I’ll feed.
How many nights you workin’ now?
How much respect have you really got? Being the CSWA champion went out of style about five years ago. We’re a dying breed Dan. Men who destroy themselves a season too late. Now, the CSWA title digs the grave for you. You’ve gotta work harder to clear your name.
So we’ve come to Wales to do it.
The doors have opened for Dan Ryan, ignorantly he’s going through.
I’d ask why.
But I know.
It’s too late to turn back.
This is your life. And it’s ruled by the amusement of others. It’s governed by the dollar, and whether you can still command face value.
You want to. Because...then...you’d be somebody, have something than no one can take away. You want to, because you can never fully out run your ghosts.
Thus, I’m asked to save Dan Ryan once more.
We done pretty well for ourselves, aye, boy?
The votes are in; Seattle was a hit!
But to really milk us, we need a second act.
For our ghosts to disappear, one of us...can’t get up.
Who will that be, Ryan?
You see, I took your best shot. Damn fool for doing so, but I accepted it.
Light pours in through a window. DAN RYAN sits comfortably on a leather sofa in a dimmed room, illuminated only by the light from outside.
Ryan smiles....an old friend returns....
Ryan: "Mark my man. Well damn if it's not good to see ya."
"It's been what....four or five months now? Six, seven? The days...they fly by so fast. I feel partly responsible that we haven't managed to keep in touch. It seems to me that the things that matter most in life...or rather the people....should be cherished and held near rather than simply forgotten."
Ryan snaps a finger....
"Dammit.....there's that script again."
"You haven't changed a bit, have you Mark? Still clinging to the formula...still holding to form."
"Tell me, do these little monologues help your state of mind Mark?"
"You haven't gained any further insight into the workings of my mind in the last six months I see."
"Perhaps it's a trap to draw me out into reminding you that my win over you was not my first World title, but my eighth....but you know I'm too smart to..."
"But certainly, who am I do disappoint my adoring public? Let us play the game."
"How many nights a year am I working? This is a trick question I'm assuming, considering this is our first encounter since August."
"In fact, I have less commitments today than I did last summer when I won the title. "
"And missing my family?"
the smile fades...
"We both know that's impossible don't we?"
"I've never ignorantly walked into anything, Mark. You of all people should know that. What happened in Seattle....that's what I live for."
"You could have won, if you prefer that ending....it wouldn't have mattered. It's the battle that makes me feel alive, and that piece of my psyche alone is the only one that I've ever willingly worn on my sleeve."
"So why are we here...doing this again?"
"Is it so simple as you say? Do we fight to pop a crowd reaction? Do we work to best a match that not only tore the house down, but won unanimous praise all over the world?"
"For you...perhaps so."
"But for me, maybe it's because in that ring....in that moment where everything but the present steals away and becomes irrelevant....that's where I find my purpose."
"Men strive for fame and fortune, and that's part of the game. But I live it. It would sound like rhetoric to anyone else....and that's fine."
"But how can a man like you ever understand the true feeling that comes with that anyway, Mark?"
"I'll always get up, Mark."
"No matter what...."
"No matter what you say...no matter what you do...."
"I always come back."
"I told you this once before, Mark....and you didn't listen."
"How does it feel to be champ?"
"You'll never truly defeat me until you can understand what it feels like to be me."
"Until then, you'll have to settle for assigning traits of your own to me by plugging 'Dan Ryan' in instead of 'Mark Windham'."
"Battle your ghosts on your own time. I've got a life to lead."
"And sorry....but crawling really isn't my style. So hard on the knees you know."
"Let's just hope someone has an eye on the light switch shall we?""
"You may still have your doubt....but hey....I'm sure you can find your belief somewhere....after all...you're the personal Jesus right?"
“Hell’s brewing, dark sun’s on the rise
This storm will blow through, by and by
House is on fire, vipers in the grass
Little revenge and this too shall pass
This too shall pass, darling
Yeah I’m gonna pray
Right now, all I got’s this lonesome day
MARK WINDHAM: (quoting) “Maybe it's because in that ring...in that moment where everything but the present steals away and becomes irrelevant...that's where I find my purpose.”
As I said, Ryan, I know you better than you know yourself. You speak of scripts mockingly, yet we’re playing from the same one. Difference between us Dan, is I’m waiting at the bitter end.
As much as I want company, you don’t have to follow. Write a new ending, Ryan. Take that weight off your shoulders and create a new path for yourself.
Who’s fault is it that I know you so well, that I empathize with being controlled by pride?
I was a self-made man too. Too proud to give a damn, but I’m making your choice so easy. Ryan, no one ever told me, the dream is what destroys. No soul stepped forward to cut me loose. I was set up to drop, as my ghosts quietly watched.
Who’s fault is it I was made to hate myself? It’s the answer I search for in vain.
I run from a need.
In that moment, as we said, this ****ed up life doesn’t matter. It’s just us, at the top of our games, invisible to ourselves, and the trouble attracted to our footprints.
Dan, I don’t wanna be your Personal Jesus. I don’t have that much love. No, Dan...the truth is, I hate you.
I hate because I see myself.
On the edges.
In the thin blackness of your heart.
To go off.
I know, what you’re going to say, and you’re right. We make our own beds. If my convictions strayed, it was my own fault. This life is what I’ve made of it.
This I know.
I wish it weren’t so. I wish I could spin my world back into control. But I can’t. I have to lie, covered with mistakes, in the corner of what time I have left.
As much as I swear I’d do so many things differently, in August I kicked the same ol’ dog again. I made you; I set you on the bitter path engulfing me.
You very well may have held seven other World titles, if so, that’s great. But your name was made off me.
Which belt are you defending in Wales? Which World title’s allowed you to cut back on the work days? Your name’s in lights because you pinned me.
That’s the non-deniable truth.
And now...you’re too far lost to come out clean. It’s the thirst to stay where you’re at now, that kills. Eight World titles. It won’t stay there, will it?
No...there’s a ninth. Tenth...and then...we descend.
When you have to work harder to find that peace, you’re a shell of yourself, but you can’t turn away. Not for us Dan, not when that title...the glory in the ring we’ve found is all that’s kept us going these years.
So you’ll hide.
Forget everyone who’s ever loved you and disappear for years. Believing, dreaming...you can return soon and the thirst will have dissipated.
It never does.
So you’ll challenge yourself, that this time...you can handle the separation anxiety that comes with parting from the peace.
I couldn’t, Dan.
Beating the hell out of a twenty-eight year-old mid-carder does nothing for you anymore. The sh*t thing I did to you, I placed you on a level that narrows your opportunity to find our moment.
To be well...to keep the demons at bay, you have to have the most to lose. You have to have that title, and the fame sleeping with it.
So you’ll sell yourself to get it one more time.
Maybe you will, I hope for your sake you do.
And then...when the pieces are ripe to be put back together, there will be someone knocking on your door, hands extended, wanting to be made.
Don’t do it, Dan.
Don’t you make the same mistake that I did. Don’t you force your life onto someone else.
I’m bigger than this sport! This city and all the riches in it are mine! When you’re where I am...you don’t have to chase ghosts with ***** like Troy. You just have to fight the narrowing of the light, and take back the gold blanket those begger’s hands stole from you.
I feel, and it’s so hard to trust my feelings anymore, that there’s hope for you. That if you could hand me the title back, your life could still be saved.
(Windham moves closer to the camera, begs almost.)
Let me take it from you Dan. Let me save you from the hell I put myself through.
Look at me...it’s all I have left. Let me touch it Dan, I just...want that fleeting moment of peace taken from me six months ago.
I’ll hold it for you. While you deal with your issues. If I have the belt I could counsel you.
"And he looked through the glass, but what he saw was not himself. It was a distorted image, a false echo of what could have been....or what could become...."
------- FADE IN....
A hallway with various pictures lines the wall. One bears an inscription that reads "First Professional Championship" and a noticably younger Ryan standing over a fallen former TV Champ...
Not that anyone remembers that....
Ryan looks intently, allows a smile as he glances at the words "The Ego Buster"....and no mention of the man's real name....
Ryan: "So Mark, you've come to this have you?"
"Let you touch it one more time? If I would just give it to you? Forgive me for asking, but am I wrestling Mark Windham at Battleground Britain or Bilbo Baggins?"
"With all of your experience and all of the wonderful things that you've done in this sport, you obviously managed to acquire an equal dose of delirium if you're gonna sit there and try to pawn off all of that nonsense on me."
"Let's draw some very clear distinctions here, Mark."
"First of all, you don't know me. I don't think there's anyone in this sport currently wrestling who can say that they do. Most just stop bothering to try and simply move on. It's best that way."
"And yet you persist."
"The problem with you is that there are certain things about me that never crossed your mind, whether by sheer ignorance or by grand design."
"It's never occurred to you that I'm not driven by the cheers of the crowd, by the pull of the limelight or the hunger to win."
"It's never occurred to you that someone of our ability level could ever settle for anything but holding the highest ranking title in whatever wrestling company rules the sport at the time."
"It's never occurred to you that not holding that title....does not make me feel empty inside."
"These things have never occurred to you because whether by design or by mental makeup, the road you took was etched in stone before you wrestled your first match."
"The truth is, it took the finality of a life changing event to wake me up to a reality that kept me from ever reaching the point that you reached."
"As of January 13th, 2002....my life started over."
"If we ever were alike, Mark....it was before that date. Before that date, I was a failed father, a poor son....and on that day and the months that followed, I was forced to come to terms with that. I could have become the tortured soul so often read about in such tales, but I didn't. Why is that, Mark?"
"You already know why."
"I dealt with it like a man. I didn't run from it. I faced it head on."
"You've failed in coming to grips with every ghost that's haunted you in your career and life because you've spent a lifetime running."
"I don't live my life for the glory of championships or for the screaming throngs that await me in every arena in the world. I live my life for the memory of someone who would have wanted me to be the best at whatever I chose to do. And whether that is in the ring today, or out of it working in the business in some other capacity thirty years from now.....I'll be content so long as I'm part of what drives me."
"I was content before what you call....making me. But you didn't make me Mark.....I made myself. I was made by stepping out into the spotlight to show the world what I had already been doing for years."
"Believe it or not, there are those of us who feel fulfilled in life, man. Some of us don't leave our chosen profession a broken down shell of a man. Some of us live our dream, then pass that dream on to others."
"We find that joy in life that goes beyond needing to live out a young man's fantasy in an old man's body."
"That sort of joy in life that would make a Dead Head sell his van....make a shizophrenic turn in his crayon...."
"But you can't understand that, Mark."
"You think you know so much, yet you've learned so little."
"You don't hate me because you see yourself. You hate me because you see what you wish you could have been. And it's only now that you're starting to scratch the surface of that understanding, while most of it still seems so far out of arm's reach."
"But you shouldn't be so hard on yourself, Mark."
"You never had any other choice. It's who you were, who you are....who you always will be. It's in your mental make-up to need these things. Call it a disposition for ultimate failure, call it a personality trait. Whatever it is, it's yours to hold and cherish...."
"But not for me, Mark."
"See, I'm not interested in being your friend...and I'm not interested in solving your life long search for inner peace."
"But I will save you the trouble of feeling any further guilt. Take whatever frustrations out on me that you feel you need to. And once you're done flailing your arms and having some 'Mark Time', I'll be happy to put you out of your misery once and for all."
"Please though, take your time...take out the frustrations of your youth. Only in the end will time catch up with you and bring you startlingly back to reality."
"Sorry Mark....as much as you'd like to go back....only one of us can remain...... forever young....."
So then Dan, I’m but a shadowy reflection of yourself. The shell of a man you avoided becoming by taking responsibility and harnessing grief.
In Wales, by your account I won’t see myself, but a man I never had a chance of being...
Maybe Ryan, it’s best you keep the belt. For as much as I begged (rolls eyes) to be encompassed in the sanity the gold brings, we both know I lack the inner-strength to be well once parted from it. Maybe, Champ, the Awakening is that I’ve finally met a man capable of clearing the sorrow left by my faults.
It’s clear now that...Dan Ryan, CSWA World Champion, can save me. I’m not asking you to become my Personal Jesus, for that’d covet too much. Jesus asks his followers to be remade in his image.
It’s too late for me to be remodeled into anything but what I already am.
A Lost Soul.
Might I find peace though, vicariously through you? As you journey with the belt against Shane Southern, Hornet, Eli, and God only knows who else. You don’t need the moment that corrupts to be well. Dan Ryan stands on his own. My legs are broken, but might I share in the victories that keep you standing?
Is it that easy? Is the moment that defines the only difference between us, so boldly drawn that it can never be nudged astray?
Of course not you ass.
Don’t you ever f*king think you’re better than me, Ryan, not for one damn second. If trusting your own goodness helps you sleep at night, then you are a man, if only a deluded one.
You stand there, belt around your waist, and try too hard to come across as enlightened. So you’re the one being all you can be for someone who never got the chance.
You know little and understand less. You’re a piece of garbage Danny, in denial over your own stench.
I am what I am, but you magically had the power to change? Let’s be honest. You’re still a failed father and a poor son, worse you’re trying to convince someone otherwise who’s dead and gone.
I’ve tried to tell you. I know it’s hard to accept that a purported lunatic is talking common sense, but man...I laid it out for you, like a disciple spreading the gospel, I preached, but it didn’t get through. Not that I expected otherwise. I’ve lectured Troy for years, and to this day he’s about as dumb.
There’s no light for either of us, Dan. We’re reflections of one soul, too far gone to capture the truth.
You can’t live for someone else.
Always carrying their baggage, being guilted by their ghosts. It’s too much of a weight believing you can. When you stumble, dragging their dreams through the mud as well. You see, Ryan, being a man about things is exactly the sin. The dead don’t want you wasting your life serving as a reminder of what they’re unable to do. Memorials just never work out in the end.
(scoffs) Changed man...
I know enough about you to know you’re no saint. That attaching your day-to-day actions to a loved one you weren’t there for is the sincerest form of blasphemy.
How do they feel about the drop you sent me on in Seattle, ten feet to a cement floor?
How do you explain away the nights I woke, spitting blood?
You f*ked me up good Dan, I’ll admit to as much. Yet somehow I’m missing the logic where that makes you a latter day Paul.
You’re no hero Ryan. Never waste the time convincing someone otherwise.
I’ve spent endless days, carrying the same burden, ramming myself into a brick wall. I know what it’s like.
I’d ask how it feels.
But I know.
It’s hell on earth, Ryan. That you don’t believe I’m suffering the same fate: hurts. The way I see it, by accepting each other, we heal.
Why aren’t you willing?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a soul that understands. Someone to help me live for myself
I’m a not the Living Psycho, Ryan. A Lost Soul who’s morphed into a glory hound.
I want the belt back, because it’s in that moment that I’m not tempted to live for ghosts.
I’d ask if you understand.
But I know you do.
It’s only in “Mark time” that we’re saved.
Reach out and touch faith is right. After all you’ve done to me, I’m still extending my hand.
Look at it as an offer to a beautiful friendship.
Seeya in Wales. I know you do your best work in the dark, but the lights stay on, I’m forcing you to pay up.
"Two divergent paths, moving parallel to one another....undeniably similar, yet infinitely different..."
------ FADE INTO DAN RYAN
Ryan sits on a long wooden bench on a front porch. We've seen it before....
A ranch sprawls out in front of him, but the camera turns so that the view retreats behind us....and Ryan looks directly at us, shaking his head in disappointment....
Ryan: "I've finally realized my mistake, Mark."
"I have finally realized the error of my ways."
"I tried to make you understand. But it's become overwhelmingly clear that you never will."
"As similar as my path has been to where you began in this sport, our mindsets are undeniably as different as night and day."
"Tell me, Mark? When have I ever claimed to be a hero? That's a laughable concept at best....."
"Dan Ryan, a hero."
"That'd be something wouldn't it? I dare say that 99% of the wrestling world would chuckle at the thought...a man like me trying to make himself out to be the hero."
"I'm no hero, Mark. I've never wanted to be one and I never will be. If some kid sees me that way....then whatever. But it's not the role I've chosen, and so I don't give it a second thought."
"Have we stepped out of the two dimensional world and into reality yet, Mark?"
"Do we become more than just one or the other in life? Are there not shades of gray that emerge as a result of ones actions and reactions?"
"Or is it either tortured soul.....or enlightened hero....and nothing more?"
"In the beginning it was you and Hornet.....Mark and Paul....interesting.....the hero and the tortured soul. If that's not a vivid illumination into the Windham mindset....then what is?"
"I understand so little you say, but I think you speak those very words over yourself more than you even realize. In failing to understand where I come from, you admit your lack of ability to understand even the simplest of human condition."
"I'm not a hero, Mark. I'm not enlightened. I very well be that piece of garbage...."
"I'm none of any of the overdramatized brushes you choose to paint me with. I'm simply a man who was forced to deal with issues and did so."
"Is it simple of me to not have been horribly scarred mentally by my lot in life?"
"Should I wallow in what I didn't do rather than make a point to look forward to what I should do?"
"'Mark Time' saves no one."
" 'Mark Time' sends a man with limitless talent into a spiraling void of insanity."
"I'm sorry man, but I don't live in 'Mark Time'."
"I never said I didn't understand what you went through. I can see where a man who has gone through what you've gone through could come to the point that you're at."
"But does that make us similar.....one of us arrogantly 'enlightened' as you would say....and one of us tortured and bitter?"
"Or does that mean that we were never particularly similar to begin with?"
"You had the success I'm having...and you went through hardship. But I'm afraid that's where it ends, Mark."
"I'm afraid there's no soul connection to speak of. There's no vision of Mark Windham as a young man walking in Dan Ryan's shoes for us all to gawk at."
"I'm not a better man than you, Mark. Not in any way that you would search for. But I did deal differently, and I came out the better for it. Does that make me smarter than you?"
"You're the one getting defensive about it, man. I never said any such thing."
"I've already accepted that you simply are who you are. I've already healed."
"But you want your healing to come through my turning into you, don't you? It's not about healing anything about me. I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, Mark. I wasn't just hatched yesterday..."
"Don't you need me to descend into a cascading spiral of self-doubt and anger? How else would you be able to justify your own path in life?"
"How else can you heal, Mark?"
"I suffer no fate that isn't my own, Mark. I have my path and you have yours. Whether or not it extends any further in direct contact with the other is still to be determined.....but I'm not you, Mark.....not now....not ever."
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