Let me give you a crash course of what it means to be very very cold in a place that is much colder than where you're from.
I'm bundled in a cat - ear wool hat that comes over my ears, a thick black - and - white striped scarf, a pullover hooded sweatshirt with a Pagan Crucifix on the front, a long purple trenchcoat, ridiculous thick mittens and boots with fake fur around the edges.
Inhale through your nose and everything freezes. Exhale and everything melts.
I'm not drinking alcohol tonight; the bar owner was nice enough to keep a pot of coffee brewing for me.
The people here are joking about how they're in the middle of a heatwave.
Since we got here, it's gone all the way from negative fifteen degrees to a hot, humid, sweltering zero.
They say cold weather is good for asthma. I'd really like to punch whoever said that right in the ovaries.
So why am I outside? Babysitting.
This is what's called a 'personal appearance.' RK and I are at Otter's Saloon in Minneapolis, hyping Aggression 76 and the iminent Wrestleverse extravaganza.
RK is the smart one: he's inside.
I'm the sentimental one. There was a girl here, about twenty one years old and six seconds who could easily pass for fifteen, totally emo doe-eyed who told me that I was her hero, and she hasn't left my side almost all night. She's told me about her parents and how they just don't understand, she's told me about how she thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her and she's afraid to confront him because she's afraid of being alone and she's not doing well in school and all she wants is to meet someone who can be a wrestler so she can come to the Empire and we can be best friends and
I'm out of breath.
But I think you get my point.
Anyways, she looks like someone who'd find trouble if she was sitting in an empty room, so when she told me she needed to go outside to smoke a cigarette, and even though it was really really dumb of me, I went with her.
She's still talking, too, even as she's shaking trying to hold her cigarette to her lips. Fingerless gloves look cool, but when it's this cold and you're as skinny and probably anemic as this girl, you need to be practical.
Then again, we bonded over the fact that we have the exact same purple tinted hair, so I'm not one to talk about practicality.
But she's a good girl, she just needs someone to keep an eye on her.
Too much caffine and nicotine has contributed to this girl's motormouth, and she actually stopped talking there for a second.
"So what's the deal with your being a wrestler now?" she asked.
So I explained to her the whole thing, how despite the fact that I'm a total clown I've actually got classic wrestling training from the same people who trained RK, and how that actually puts me in a pretty decent spot. I'm bigger than Muse, I think, and even though Haruka is Japan - tough, she's clearly too humorless, too single - minded to deal with a ridiculous match like this.
Of course she is, she's all up with Castor Strife. He's the guy who was all about the underground.
I think he came of age wishing he was Cecil B. Demented.
But it's like Uncle Hank says, money will cool people out every time. New Frontier title, Ultratitle winner, and Castor Strife is now in the owner's box.
He didn't sell out, of course. He bought in.
Just like The First.
He was the underdog, he was the guy everyone wanted to see win.
Hope, wasn't it?
Taking back the World Title from the evil Triple X... showing that Hope is all you need to bring a little light into the Empire.
Plus help from Anarky.
Money will cool people out every time, and I told this girl that once The First got his hands on the money that a World Title gives you... it's apparently addictive. Now, I don't know if Muse is a gold digger or if she actually loves The First for The First, that's beyond my pay grade to really care about, but the human condition is a hobby of mine and watching The First go from the underdog to exactly what he had always fought against was equal parts entertaining and sad.
I'm no hipster, and neither is RK, but it's a little sad how The First and Castor Strife were both anti - establishment.
Until they got a raise.
Honestly, I think RK is the only person who has ever said - and followed through with the idea - that he'd rather not be World Champion than compromise himself.
So in between this girl's cigarettes and our expeditions to the frozen outdoors, she told me her brother is a big fan of Castor Strife and that the four of them - she and her brother and their respective significant others would all be at Aggression, and her brother had a gasmask he was going to wear and she had a big glittery Calico Rose sign with the Birthday Massacre bunny drawn on it and she'd try to put it in front of him the entire time.
Like he'll even get in with a gasmask. They'll think he's up to shenanigans.
So that's my story of the first night in Minneapolis.
(FADEIN: Muse standing in front of a camera. She’s doing about as good an impersonation of Miesha Tate as she can, with thigh length pink hot pants that have third party ads on them, and a white top also done up like NASCAR with her dark hair in two long braids. “Team” by Lorde plays in the background.)
MUSE: The gold digger charge is adorable…First and I are eternal…We’ve lived and loved over millennium…We meet up every so often and get back together after a few lives apart…We’re fated to be together it is the natural order of the world…He brought souls to this planet, he turned humanity from the soulless animals they were into creatures capable of understanding and knowledge…
And I brought art and music and creativity to the world…It was I that sang the first song, I that played the first note…I that painted the first cave wall, not to give information, but to inspire others…First put souls into humanity…And I gave those souls something to fill them, something to content them…This is who we are, it is what we’ve done…You and all of humanity are our legacy.
You spin the whole “Die a hero or live to become the villain” myth…It’s not true…First was always meant for this…The only thing that changed was he stopped lying to the people…Hope…Hope is the last thing that left Pandora’s box…Hope is the greatest evil that ever escaped that construct. First wanted the masses to love him…So he lied to them, he told them what they wanted to hear…But he couldn’t keep doing it to himself, he couldn’t keep lying that we’re all special, we’re all great if we but want it…
Because we’re not all great, most of the people on this world will never amount to anything, it’s just not their Fate, it’s just not the way things are…So he stopped telling them lies and told them the truth, that he’s better than them, he’s always been better than them…He didn’t sell out, he decided to preach the facts…That you or anyone else would condemn him is foolishness…
You’ve made it far Rose, you were never meant to just hang out behind that bar and be a nobody, you have a path to follow, a Destiny to unlock…You know greatness is inside you…I see it and it’s plain as day to anyone who understands these things…Why do you go back there all the time? Why do you ground yourself in such things? Why do you insist on being common when you can be so much more?
You’re one of those people who can’t accept what she is and is scared of it…You need to embrace it. Leave your past life behind…Tell Impulse to quit trying to be the common man and grab for the brass ring, to become what he’s always been meant to be…It’s up to him if he wants to lie and con the masses about their potential…But it’s up to him to finally live the life he’s meant to have…
As for selling out or compromising one’s beliefs that’s fine. Impulse can be the iconoclast who does it his way, that’s acceptable, the machine will always find ways to market its products. We all fit a mold, there’s a demographic and a price point we all hit. Impulse is more the Duck Dynasty, salt of the earth middle America Red State kind of guy with his cheap shots on the gays and wholesome ‘traditional values’ and First is more of the coasts and his weird subculture look…I understand how the game is played and so do you…
So let’s have our little scrap shall we? I know you want your pound of flesh for what I did to you and how it supposedly allowed for your man to get his ass beaten by The First…And I want to see what I can do inside that ring…Long have I stood outside it watching as others take their turn in the arena, battling for the glory that comes with victory…Having thousands of people living and dying with your ever move, your ever action…To be the center of attention is why I exist, it’s why the great people are great, because they can do things that captivate and inspire the masses…A piece of art that moves someone to tears, a song sung sublimely, the perfect form of a right hook driven into the rigs of an opponent…Beauty has many forms…They inspire and destroy…
I will make that ring my canvas, and your pain, tears and blood will be the tools I shall paint upon it…The ringer Castor brought in can join us as well as we dance the dance of struggle and competition, as we push each other closer and closer to the breaking point till one of us gives out…
That’s the glory of the arena, that’s what makes us different, that we bravely enter into that battle, that we risk all we are to become even more…This is my moment and this is my time…
You should be honored that you get to share it with me.
Day two in Minneapolis, and we're apparently right in the median. Negative nine degrees.
We're celebrating this cold front (no kidding) by ordering room service and staying in. Law and Order is on.
Amusing sidenote, a friend of mine was once accosted by the police for drunkenly dumping garbage cans in the middle of the street. When stopped by police, the officer was willing to let him go if he cleaned everything up. He did not, and he stated that he knew his rights, as he watches Law and Order.
We picked him up the next day after bailing him out. Lesson learned.
But in the midst of watching the antics of Detective John Munch, my mind drifted to The Big Lie.
Do you know what Richard Belzer defined as 'The Big Lie?'
If you repeat something loud enough, often enough, eventually people believe it.
What fascinates me the most about all this is that you're not even trying to hide the fact that you and The First are both liars, The Muse.
Are you Muse, or The Muse?
It's like you got married and took his first name, The.
But listen to you, shiny britches, you said The First wanted the masses to love him, so he lied to them.
Then you said RK and I are all Middle America Duck Dynasty Anti Gay Red State people.
Why stop there? Why not call us both Republican Banker One Percent Anti Choice Woman Hating Tea Partiers who think all taxes should be zero and they can pay public employees with potluck lunches and candy bars.
I mean, if you're gonna make things up, really commit to it. But since we're living in sin with no immediate or future plans of getting married, do the family values on parade really qualify?
Actually, I have to take the blame, or the credit, however you look at it, for the The family and their accusations of homophobia. You see, RK doesn't wear makeup on a regular basis. He's endured me giving him goth face for industrial nights at Necromantic, but as a rule, he doesn't make himself up, and it's pretty safe to say he has no idea how to expertly apply it.
So when we were all gearing up for Unleashed and The First was doing his thing, I offhandedly commented that he really knew what he was doing with his application. That ankh just looks top notch every time.
Unless he's cheating with a stencil, and there's no harm in that. Art takes time!
But I happened to mention it, and then seeing you two together, I'm sorry Mrs. The, but your husband has a steadier hand than you. So I asked, I wonder if The First brought the makeup into the relationship, or if you taught him and the student simply surpassed the master.
I think you're not really as starry as you think, Muse.
If The First is better than all of us, I doubt he'd care about the opinions of the little people. If you were both better than all of us, I don't think you'd work so hard to refute the things said about you.
Congratulations on the million year anniversary, by the by. Is a million years the 'carbon' anniversary?
There is greatness in everyone, Muse. True greatness is in doing what makes you happy as long as it's not hurting anyone else? I love tending bar. I get to listen to loud music, meet interesting new people every day, and try to expand my mind with as many new facts as possible, learn about books to read, bands to listen to, and places to travel to.
Ironically, these are the same reasons that I love being part of the Empire.
RK and I are part of the Empire's promotional machine, we know that, we know we're making money for a large, multinational corporation and we do so in part because we know that more money for the Empire means more money for us.
It also means more money for the The family, for Cameron Cruise, for Malcolm Joseph Jones, for Aaron Jones, for Rocko Daymon, for Caitlyn Daymon, for Rezin, for Anarky if he ever comes back...
We don't get paid for the personal appearances. RK and I like to get out on the street and meet the fans face to face because we legitimately like them.
I know The First is the greatest of all time and you're the greatest and a half of all time, and you shouldn't have to sully yourselves with dealing with The Great Unwashed. I assumed that's why you guyses names are never on the appearance sheet.
That's very elitist of you. That's very non - subculture of you.
But that's me and RK. This is the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and it's also the Land of Devo, P-Funk, and The Ramones. Inclusion, The Muse... not exclusion.
If The First only hangs out with his freakish subculture, then you imply that his freakish subculture are the only ones worthy of hanging out with him.
Isn't that just as exclusionary as you're accusing RK of being?
Me, based on the fact that I go out and mingle with anyone and everyone who has an interesting or dull tale to tell, means that I identify with everyone.
Even your freakish subculture. I can almost guarantee we've been to the same social events before RK started wrestling here, and simply never met.
And I don't subscribe to the Harvey Two - Face theory, The Muse. I think if you're a hero, you were always one, and if you suddenly become a villain you were just lying or manipulating.
Incidentally, my theory fits your explanation of The First to a T.
But by that token you're assuming that RK and I are the heroes. If you want to go that route, that's cool. You're wrong, but when has that ever stopped you from saying things?
RK and I have been cheered for the things we say and do. RK and I have been booed for the things we say and do. Neither reaction changed the fact that we say and do the same things with either reaction.
I don't hate you, The Muse. I don't even dislike you. Despite everything you and The First have said and done, it's a wasted emotion. I feel sorry for you.
By your own admission, everything you and The First say and do is directly or contrarily influenced by what you think the crowd thinks of you.
Last thing, The Muse... You and The First are older than time itself, or something? He's the oldest soul and the best at life and far above the rest of us or something, right?
How come he can't win his title defenses without a Plan B?
(FADEIN on the mask of filed teeth that covers the mouth of HARUKA WARHEAD, who sports dyed red hair on one side of her head and a shaven skull tattooed with the heads of the Cenobytes on the other side. She stares into the camera with dead Piranha eyes, as the camera pulls back to show her sitting cross-legged on the desk of EPW President CASTOR STRIFE, wearing ripped black spandex pants and a black-leather WWII-era bomber jacket. CASTOR himself is in the leather executive chair behind the desk wearing a light blue button down dress-shirt with the top button undone, and a red tie loosened around the neck. A rocks glass is in front of him, quarter-filled with a dark amber substance)
CASTOR: "You know what my favorite part is of being the MAIN ATTRACTION the world over? Its hearing very rich men accuse me of being changed by money. (air quotes) 'Buying in'. Cute euphemism, but you've missed the mark, Impulse. The only difference between working for minimum wage and working for a few extra zeros is a wider driveway and nicer cars. But a slave is a slave is a slave, whether he drives a Bentley or a Prius, lives in a mansion, or tells millions of gullible fans that he still lives in an affordable brownstone in downtown New York City."
"Always remember, old friend: you have more in common with me than you do with 'them'." (smiles)
"But if you need reassurance, here's where we differ. You have the OPTION to sell out, or to stay pure. And me? Those options stand on a desk with my name on it."
"PRESIDENT Castor Strife, and don't you forget it. I'm here to keep the lights on and the water running. And as long as you live under MY roof, we're going to play by MY rules. I set this match up for a very specific reason."
"I think it's important that people know exactly what they're buying when they order Wrestleverse on pay-per-view. The consumer shouldn't go into this with false expectations. The way our marketing team tells it, this will be a contest between three of the very best and a mystery contender, and ANYTHING could happen!"
"But if history is an indicator, only one thing will happen. Castor Strife will walk into the main event the President, and walk out the CHAMPION. It's what I do, Impulse. I stand and DELIVER."
"For all those sitting at home, this tag match will serve as a reminder that nobody in this game is on my level. And that they can buy a Castor Strife 2014 EPW World Champion t-shirt with confidence that it won't be repackaged and sent to Zimbabwe the next morning."
"More than anything, I will be sending a strong message to our friend and resident champion THE FIRST, that the only reason he reigned over the Empire's continent is because I hadn't discovered it yet. Now that pro-wrestling's Conquistador has arrived, I wonder if The First will be having flashbacks to a past life, when all his Aztec gold was burning?"
"This is a battle of superpowers. We each represent a third of the game board, more or less. While that may be intriguing to the bookmakers in Vegas, and the sports writers, bloggers, and podcasters out there who making a living off of speculation and analysis, I would like to remind you and the world of a very simple fact..."
"In the game of MONOPOLY...never bet against the banker."
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