(The shot opens with a slow fade to black with Chelsea Wolfe's "Feral Love" slowly brooding to life in the background. The first thing that can be made out is the broad-shouldered silhouette of ROCKO DAYMON, seated on a chair and facing the camera. As more light comes in, we can see he's sitting in The Dojo back in Seattle, wearing his trunks and his "FUMETSU" brand t-shirt. The expression etched upon his aging face is one that a sailor would wear having just braved a storm at sea. Yet there's a glint in his eyes that suggests he knows there are only more storms to come.)
I walked into the Battle Royal back in Philadelphia with a mind full of questions...
Am I past my prime?
Am I losing focus?
Am I really just deluding myself into believing I'm an elite athlete?
But those questions didn't bother me... because in my heart was the desire to find the answers, one opponent at a time through an endless melee of bodies, blood, and chaos. It was the desire to put those doubts to rest that tempered my will and spirit, and forced me to hold my ground every time I faced elimination. I didn't falter, I didn't break... I didn't die. And now I'm one step closer to bringing the EPW World Heavyweight Championship back to Seattle.
Still... even after outlasting thirteen other men, I'm not satisfied. There's more work to be done...
Believe me, I'm proud that all my effort and emotion paid off... but don't mistake me for the type that gets caught up in the glory. A tremendous feat? Certainly... but it could all just as easily be for nothing, if I don't take this mission one step further, and claim the victory at Aggression 76. I'm too far into this now to allow all of my hard work to go to waste... so my focus is the next match in my path.
And beating the opponent... the last man eliminated from the ring at Aggression 75... the last man to rightfully win the World Heavyweight Title... and a man I know all too well...
(The camera pulls in a bit to get more of Daymon in the shot. He adjusts his position, unfolding his arms and leaning forward to get in a bit closer, just to make sure his words aren't misheard.)
Yet again, our paths have crossed, Cameron. Seems like it shouldn't come as much of a surprise anymore. Both you and I are just too damn stubborn and egoistic to back off from that top spot. It certainly isn't a surprise to me that the last two men in that Battle Royal happened to be the only two men in that bedlam who were former EPW World Champions. And now here we are again, both hungry to take that title back for a second time... and neither one of us is willing to back down.
Let me be clear, Cam... I have no interest in dredging up our sordid past. Maybe you feel differently -- I know you have a "Cam-on-Cam" persona to uphold -- but personally speaking, I don't think it will help you in any way once that bell rings. And I really don't think the facts support your side of things. If you want to take it down that miserable, mud-soaked road, then be my guest... but understand, everything in the past is in the past... and it all happened for one reason.
And this is the reason... you and me, Empire Pro's two GREATEST athletes of the past, present, AND future, putting everything on the line to earn that spot in the main event at Wrestleverse V.
After going toe to toe with you at the end of that romp at Aggression 75, there's no longer any doubt in my mind that you could walk into that ring among the likes of Strife, Impulse, and the First, and walk out triumphant with that belt over your shoulder. And everyone knows that you'd deserve it, given everything you've been through and all that you've done.
If this sport were a democracy, you'd have my vote, Cam... simply because you were the last man to work his way up to winning that belt, and because I feel it's wrong that you were denied a second opportunity at taking it back.
But in that ring, personal opinion doesn't come into play. It doesn't matter who's right or wrong... up is down and black is white, so long as you get the other man's shoulders down for three counts. The harsh reality that you're now coming to understand, Cam, is that in this sport, nobody cares if you get robbed. But when all is said and done, those that are remembered are the ones that pressed on, persevered, and overcame their smaller losses to achieve even greater gains.
Time will tell if you can overcome it all, Cam... but this time, to get to yourself back to that level, you've got to overcome the greatest roadblock that's ever stood in your career...
(He points to his chest.)
And that's me.
I'm sure there are few who would doubt that a man of your experience, strength, and skill-set has the ability to get the job done. And I'm preparing to put those qualities to the test in our match. But my question is, Cam... how prepared are you? How well are you going to hold your own once that bell rings?
Leading up to that Battle Royal, you plainly stated that I DON'T live up to the standards of greatness of a former World Champion. And to be honest, that stuck with me...
I remembered those words clearly when it came down to you and me in the end. I decided right then there wasn't a better opportunity to prove to you the level that I compete at. And who knows... maybe I really didn't wrestle at the standards a former champion, like yourself. Rather, the way I see it, I fought at my own set of standards... those of a future champion.
It may have been a token win, but all the same... the message should have been clear to you, as you came down head-first off the apron. If you write me off as inconsequential... I will make you pay for it. If you fail to recognize me as the greatest challenge your career has ever faced... then you will never take back that EPW World Heavyweight Title, so long as I draw breath.
And believe me, I don't say that as a disrespect to your abilities. But historically, Cam, your greatness weakness has been yourself... simply because you choose to underestimate what I'm able to bring between those ropes when it's all on the line.
Ultimately, though, I know that it doesn't really matter what I say to you. I'm sure it doesn't even matter if I go in there and beat you, clean and convincingly... because I'm certain there's nothing on this world that could convince the great Cameron Cruise of anything that goes against what he believes to be true. And regardless of what you believe, it doesn't change the fact that you're one of the greatest and most competitive athletes of our generation, when it comes down to it. I'm still in for a hell of a fight... but fighting my way out of hell has lately been more of a habit for me.
The trick of it is not to see it as hell, because hell doesn't exist. Neither does heaven, for that matter. All we have is what's on this earth... and I believe in only one god.
His name is Death.
And there's only one thing I say when I pray to him before every match...
(He clenches his eyes shut.)
(The camera slowly fades to black as the camera pulls back again, Daymon fading into the shadows as the music track ends in.)
"Philadephia is known for being the 'City of Brotherly Love.' Only, you can ask just about anyone, especially the members of the Eagles...unless you do well for the people of Philadelphia...you're about as useless as a wet paper bag."
(Fadein, Cameron Cruise dressed in a black sport coat, blue undershirt and slacks. His hair slicked back, he shakes his head as he starts to pace back and forth in front a white EPW Aggression backdrop.)
CRUISE: And the people of Philadephia know, as well as the rest of the Cruise Nation, that I'm alittle more adept than a paper bag.
I told everyone that too. Eli, "Em-Jay-Squared", Shawn and Harmen that too, in so many words, and while I didn't pull off the victory as the last man in the main event last week, I didn't fail at the goal I set out to do.
Which, anyone who watches EPW television will tell you, was taking another step towards taking back the one title that ACTUALLY belongs to me.
The Empire Pro World Heavyweight Championship.
You see Rocko, the difference between you and I, is that you seem to think you're some kind of cat and can withstand every horrible act known to man and come back to life like you're Mario, on his way to save the princess, and The First is ol' big bad Bowser.
Now, I'll give you a couple things.
One, you took a nice vacation courtesy of Sean Stevens, and because of that, you were STRIPPED of the World Heavyweight title due to the fact that you were unable to compete. This has ALWAYS been a recurring theme with you, Rocko. Either you can make it and show the world that you belong with the likes of us at the top of the wrestling world...or you get put down and laid out for periods of time that would piss off even the likes of Derek Jeter.
And two, The First really does kinda remind me of the cartoon Bowser from the Mario Brothers game on Nintendo.
That's truth, Rocko, and what's more is that it's rediculous that you can call yourself "Undying", because that would actually infer that people are trying to kill you.
And nobody, especially anyone that wants to earn a check from Dan Ryan, wants to go to Jail for committing a murder, myself included.
I've never wanted to kill you, Rock, because I don't need to. While it's true I've had periods of time where I've wanted to make you think twice about finishing your career and concentrate on your marriage instead...
(Cruise stops for a second)
...who says I don't have good intentions, by the way??
(Cruise continues to pace)
I can honestly tell you that I've never actually wanted to KILL YOU.
As far as Aggression 76 is concerned however...you can use any kind of similarity to it you want, because as far as I'm concerned, beating you is just as much the same thing.
I move on, take on Castor, Impulse and First, and you can....I dunno, seek out Eli and decide whether or not it's worth it to continue in this business...
Or do what you do best in this business that's just as good as the prolific skill I put forth in the ring in this business...
You think you're in this too far to let your hard work go to waste??
Try almost twenty years.
See, I'm happy that you're happy I'm the last man eliminated from the ring at Aggression, really. And don't get me wrong, if it was the other way around, and I won the match, eliminating you in the process as the last man in the ring....
I STILL wouldn't be satisfied, because in reality...neither of us ACTUALLY has a leg up on the other....NOT YET.
Not until the second bell rings at the end of Aggression 76...and we're faced with the NEXT obstacle on the way towards getting back what belongs to me.
MY World Heavyweight Championship, the same one that was STOLEN from me.
There couldn't possibly be any reason that that had to happen other than the fact that The First is a greedy, grimey, grubby, son of a BITCH with makeup.
The fact is that it took you until NOW to believe that I have what it takes to compete against three other guys for a title that doesn't belong to anyone but the man you see before you...it's not exactly pathetic Rocko, but believe me when I tell you that it says a HELLUVALOT about you.
But you've won that title before Rocko, so it's unlikely that this is going to be a walk in the park. I can promise you that there's not a man, woman or child watching that thinks that.
I'm not out to kill you, Rocko, because the fact that you're still here, you're still standing and competing against me for the one thing that should've never left my shoulder in the first place...is respectable.
(Cruise stops again and looks at the camera)
No, I'm out to beat you, either by pinning your shoulders to the mat or your hands slap the mat in submission, and that's that, because the REAL harsh reality is that everyone in the Cruise Nation knows and cares that I got robbed at Black Dawn.
And by THAT notion, by that credibility...that's all the support I need.
You bow before a God you call "Death"...believe me, neither the three men one of us is going to face at Wrestleverse is going to be anything compared to what I have to bring at Aggression...which is fine.
You're going to find out just like Sean, First, Impulse and everyone else that that isn't going to be enough to beat me.
That's not a prophecy.
That's not my being Hardcore or "Extreme" or a message that you need to know that's new.
But it IS a reality check that you just...won't like.
(The set-up isn't much different from last time as the camera fades in from black, only now we have the epic choice of "Anvil of Crom" from the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack as accompanying music. ROCKO DAYMON appears in a rather Conan-like state himself, once again seated and staring boldly into the camera. It should also be noted that he's wearing a Seattle Seahawks #25 football jersey.)
...I think I'm Mario...?
(He shakes his head.)
No, Cam, I think you're mistaken. Now, there was a guy in a mask in the indies around here who probably fit that description, but I don't see how video games apply to you and me.
If it's okay with you, can I ask that we not lose ourselves in the metaphors, please? Because frankly, I've got better things to do than to split hairs over the true meaning behind a nickname. It had no bearing at the end of Aggression 75, as I drove you into the ring-side floor courtesy of the Brain Rocker. And in the ring at Aggression 76, regardless of what the fans call me... regardless of whatever you think it says about me, or my ability to compete... it's not going to change what's coming for you.
See... this is exactly what I warned you NOT to do. But once again, in true Cameron Cruise fashion, you're focusing on things that don't matter, trying illogical on false information. Obviously, you can't point to anything that's happened recently as a way of proving I'm lacking in either talent or passion... so instead, you choose to inflate a big matter over something as simple as a name.
Nobody said anything about you having to kill ME to win this match. That's just ridiculous to even suggest...
You're getting all caught up on that word... "Undying"... practically repeating yourself word for word from a few months ago by continuing to draw up this notion that I see myself as indestructible against all odds. But once again, you seriously misjudge the person I am. It's true... on rare occasions, I'll eat the canvas and not get that shoulder up quick enough. Eli Flair proved that back at Aggression 74. But all the same, you of all people should know that well enough by now that I don't make it easy.
You should know as well that it's not the body you need to worry about killing, Cam; it's the pure, raw competitive spirit inside me that refuses to die.
It's that determination to succeed... to prove the doubters wrong... to withstand insurmountable amounts of punishment... to overcome even more insurmountable odds... to keep coming back when everybody thinks I'm over and done... to gain the respect of every person involved in this industry, one blood-soaked match at a time...
That fire inside never smolders out... it never goes away. It doesn't die, and nothing you could ever do will kill it.
I would have thought you would have known this by now, given we're already so well acquainted. But then, you also seem to think the only thing I've done well over the course of my career is "quit", so it's clear to me that even in spite of all of our battles, and the number of times I've dropped your head on the canvas, you still don't know a goddamn thing about me...
That's not good, Cam... especially since you're walking into the most important match of your career, with everything on the line. Wouldn't you want to be sure you had all your P's and Q's covered? Or do you want to mouth off like a jackass for another week, for no other reason than that seems to be what YOU do best?
And let me be clear, I realize that I may not have spent as much time as you in Empire Pro overall, Cam... but then, some cars rack up mileage, and other cars win races. What's important to know is that at any time I've been active in this federation, I've only had one thing on my mind: Winning the World Heavyweight Title. For you, though, this only became a big deal in the past year or so. If you don't see a problem with that, then I'd say you're in need of a serious re-appraisal of who you really are.
It certainly should say a hell of a lot about me that it took me a while to give you the respect you deserved... although perhaps it says more than you understand yourself. What it says to me,though, is that I'm a man of high standards and high expectations... and throughout all those years, while you sat on your hands, building a large career out of small accomplishments, and surrounding yourself with a bunch of glad-handing yes-men, I was putting my life and body on the line every chance I had in an effort to try to win the greatest prize in this sport... the EPW World Heavyweight Title. Sometimes, I fell short... but that was the price I paid for putting my head out there and going for it all.
The real difference between us, Cam, is that I'm not afraid of failure. There's more to being at that level than just having the ability and the confidence. You also have to have the hunger for gold. And you can't be afraid of the consequences, no matter what the cost.
I kept getting put on the shelf over all those years because I ran head-first into every opponent that proved himself an obstacle in my path. And where were you? Sitting back, criticizing my every failure, and hiding from all the real competitors when they were out there in their primes. You spent that time carrying Joey Melton's bags, or goofing around with Jared Wells, or flipping through your rolodex in a desperate effort to add bodies to your hopeless Anthology vanity project.
Like I said, best leaving the past be the past, because the facts don't support you.
But finally, after the Daymons and Stevens slowly faded from the picture, the ever-opportunistic Cameron Cruise was right there to make his long-awaited move. And you made it to that level, and we all give you the credit you deserve... but don't act like everybody else in that locker room is an idiot for not realizing it earlier. You did nothing to earn that recognition, because while the real champions were out there making names for themselves, you were sitting on the outside looking in.
The true kings of nature are apex predators... but all you are, Cam, based on your history, is a scavenger.
Let me be honest, though... I credit you for finally finding that hunger and finally becoming a quality athlete. I'm just saying, I think it's sad that it had to take having the EPW World Heavyweight Title being robbed from you to finally figure it out.
Regardless as to whether you respect me or not, I'm still going into that ring, and giving you the fight of my life. It doesn't matter to me if you think you deserve that opportunity to move on to Wrestleverse V more than I do; you don't deserve anything unless you prove you can take whatever it is you want in that ring.
And if you think there isn't anything left for you to prove... then you're walking into this under a dangerous mindset, Cam. You've still got plenty to prove... and the more you continue to underestimate the competitor I am at this point in my career, the more you set yourself up for a titanic failure of your own. Further proving my point that Cameron Cruise is his own worst enemy.
When you're ready to pull your head out of your ass and tell me something worthwhile, I'll be right here, waiting...
(The shot slowly fades to out as Daymon lowers his head, and we go to black.)
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