“He’s a step slower. He’s old. The look in his eye has changed, and he doesn’t have that killer instinct anymore. His wife and kid made him soft, he was exposed by The Stalker, and then Copycat, and then Rezin … oh, and let’s not forget the fact that he tapped out against The First.
“Check, check, check, check.”
FADEIN: Sean Stevens’ mid-length golden locks hung gracefully down his neck, barely touching his shoulders, freshly shampooed, conditioned, and blow dried, by one of his hoes – no, wait … that’s right, baby face – by his stylist. It was healthy; it was full in body, it had no split ends, and had the perfect mixture of fluff, and waviness. It literally stole every show it’s ever been in, or atleast … that’s what we’re telling ourselves today.
STEVENS: I am going to win the EPW World Heavyweight Championship for the third time, Rezin. I know, I know … I said I’d come back and have fun, let the young fellas rule, and that I was comfortable with where I left this company, but have you seen what’s passing as Black Dawn’s main event? The day that Cameron Cruise competes for the most prestigious title in the game, while you and I are fighting in the middle of the show over something as trivial as federation dominance – which, might I add, never turns out well for the antagonist – and, hair.
“Because, for some strange reason, you want my hair.”
Trip paused, almost in disbelief, shook his head, and then continued.
STEVENS: Ryan mentioned something about you wanting this stipulation the first time around, I thought it was a joke, the stipulation was never added, so I then began to believe that it was nothing more than a stupid rumor, but I guess it’s not.
“I guess more than anything, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out the why behind it all, Rezin. Is it because I’ve been arrogant, materialistic, superficial, and shallow for so long that you think that shaving my head would humble me? Am I Samson? Do I lose my strength if it’s gone? According to the media I’ve already lost it. Is a bald head my kryptonite? Will I not be able to fearlessly fly off of the turnbuckle anymore? Nobody’s ever given a flying fudge about your appearance, ever in your career, you were never anything more than the weed man, with the pot that got you ridiculously high, while remaining undetectable in our urine – oops, did I snitch? Sorry guys. So pardon my arrogance for assuming this stipulation was made solely in an attempt to embarrass me.
“But, somewhere along the lines, someone got it completely wrong. I’ve shaven my hair military style low in the past myself. Ask my wife ... you know ... the one who’s made me soft. She hates it … but, I’ve done it, because ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s hair, it’ll grow back, and it’s silly of anyone to assume that, at the age of thirty-four, losing it would ever affect me in any way.
“So, let’s just scratch out that little nugget of sidebar information and talk about the reality of the situation that we have presented in front of ourselves, Erik. Impulse is awesome, Randall is a good kid, and I’ve always liked him. He’s the future of this industry, in ways that you should’ve been, but his focus is like non other, and yours is well documented. He’s going to have a great series of matches whether he walks out of Black Dawn with his strap, or not.
“Anarky has seven individuals coming for his head, which is cool; because Anarky is a dick, but let’s be serious … that match will be more of a cluster**** than it will be entertaining. And, I’m sorry but The First’s entire leap in the air, flip ten times, and land on his head shtick looked as cool as it did in our series of matches, because I can effectively carry a broom stick to a four star Match of the Year candidate – Google it, I did it in two thousand and five – but, he's not been the same since me, and his matches and promos against Cameron Cruise have been brutal. ...and, I expect it to remain that way.
“The Apocalypse is back, but I’m going to say what everyone else is afraid to … and, that’s that once you get past the smoke, mirrors, catch phrases, valets, and gimmick … Gabriel Poe never had much substance, or was ever really very good to begin with.
“So, that leaves it up to you and me. You, with your entire figurative mission to destroy this company … me, getting another opportunity to showcase my heart, my ability, my mental toughness on the grandest stage in the place where I’m most comfortable – the cage. You don’t care, because that’s not what you’re about these days, but we are going to steal the show. Your ability, my ability, your mentality, my mentality, paired up against the rest of what passes as a wrestling match around here, it will be the match of the night, and very well could end up being match of the year.”
Sean ran his fingers through his hair, for emphasis.
STEVENS: Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
“I’ve lost matches before, I’ll lose them again. If I lose to you inside of that cage, and all I have to worry about is losing my hair, and maybe being teased a bit by some of our peers, who are insecure and threatened by me being here? Then, I leave Black Dawn a winner. But, I know better, Rezin … I know that in order for me to slow you down, in order for me to win this match, in order for me to survive … I’m going to have to hurt you. I’m going to have to take your best punch, withstand it, endure, and keep on going until I systematically break you down. I know what could go wrong in this match, I know that once those cage doors lock, like animals, we won't rest until only one of us remains.
“The media, the commentators like to make it seem like I’ve lost my it because I didn’t thoroughly dismantle you the last time we met, and that’s unfortunate, because as professionals, I expect better analysis from them. You are the same man, that went into King of the Cage, the week after I lost to The First, and stopped his momentum cold, while he was on his highest high. You have always been tough, and I don’t expect anything but to be pushed to my limits … but, hear me clearly, Rezin. I’m going to become EPW World Heavyweight Champion again, and I can’t do that unless I beat you, so I’m going to. And, if everything that I think needs to happen ends up happening, after this match, you may need some time off, because if I’m presented with an opportunity to hurt you, Rezin … you know me well enough to know that I will take it. And, I vow to you to be better than I was last week at Aggression, and if you couldn’t get the job done then? Then chances are, at Black Dawn … you’re in for a very long night.
“So, the floor is yours, Erik … Rezin … Escape Artist. Tell me about myself, tell me about my hair, tell me about why this time will be different then the last. And, at Black Dawn … I’ll show you why your misguided beliefs and delusions will forever prevent you from accomplishing your goals, and being on my level.”
(CUE UP: “The Sun Has Turned To Black” by Electric Wizard. Cause, you know... it’s Black Dawn.)
(Our shot opens up with several close-up shots of the surface of our galaxy’s nearest stellar being, colloquially known as the sun. A screen filters shows it in infrared, kinda like the opening credits to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The ORIGINAL one by Tobe Hooper... not that Jessica Biel piece of shit remake.)
I had a dream last night...
In my dream, the world had finally come together and made itself a better place. Nations put aside their differences. Religion and science found a common ground. The water crisis and that global warming thing had finally be solved. The vices of poverty and hunger and disease had finally been conquered.
Mankind had finally EVOLVED... it took that step up and came to that realization that it would live long and prosper for many more eons. Everywhere over the world, the people came out to celebrate their grand ascension in the light of sun.
And then... the sun turned to black. And fire fell from the sky.
Happiness became despair as people ran like vermin... ran, knowing they could not hide from something as unstoppable as the apocalypse. They died... in droves... in MOUNTAINS... crying out in agony and disbelief.
Then, little by little, the whole planet just came apart... and disintegrated into a wall of flame. Everything that once was the human race... everything great civilization, every great technological feat, every great man... all memory of our very existence had been wiped clean from the universe.
In spite of all of our progress and advancement, mankind was GONE, and there was nobody left to tell the story... because in the end, even we could not realize that we were just one insignificant cosmic anomaly, floating aimlessly through an ocean of nothingness.
(The images fade to black...)
You gonna prevent me from reaching YOUR level, Sean?
(We’re still looking at black as the question is followed by a raspy chuckle, the spark of a lighter, a deep breath, and a painful cough. We fade in as Rezin, in his usual get-up of pants, coat, and shades, clears his throat and waves the smog out of his face.)
What gave you ANY indication that I -- a man billed from the BOTTOM of the goddamned barrel -- EVER ONCE wanted to be on the level of the great “Triple X” Sean Stevens?
Have you listened to anything I’ve said over the past few months? Over the past YEAR, for that matter? Or did you do what everybody else has done, and just passed it off as the mindless ramblings of a sludge-sucking madman?
I find that disappointing, Sean. Here we’ve had all these matches and cut all these promos, and every time I make the effort to give you a glimpse of the diabolical desire that sets me on this path of mass destruction, all you can say is the same boring shit you’ve been saying ever since you came back: “You’re a nobody, I’m the KING, I’m back, buy my new t-shirt, blah-diddy-blah-blah-blah.”
You’re just like everybody else. You talk a lot, but say nothing. You hear words, but you don’t listen. You give me the floor, but I highly doubt you’ll listen to anything I have to say this time around, which makes me wonder if I’m only wasting my time.
But I suppose if everything is meant to be a waste in the end, then it really shouldn’t bother me.
(He shrugs in that “whaddya gonna do?” manner)
So allow me to explain it for you... and please, TRY to listen this time.
I don’t BELIEVE in “levels”, Sean. You and ninety-nine percent of the locker room, however, apparently do. You like to make all these distinctions based on dubious criteria like how many titles you’ve won or how many great wrestlers you’ve beaten over the forty or whatever years your tired-old ass has been in this business... and somehow, you use all that to justify how you are “above” everybody else. Even guys like ME...
And yet, in spite of all that meaningless shit you’ve done over the years, I STILL kicked the so-called “King” in his bitch-ass face. So much for being at the “top level”...
Yeah, it wasn’t enough to beat you... but everyone should know by now that wins and losses never really mattered much to me. Fact is, I pretty much EXPECTED you to win that match, just like everybody else. See, I don’t really jive with transparent concepts like success and failure. I don’t care about whether or not I accomplish this fictitious “goal” you think I’m chasing. All that’s important to me in this sport is the satisfaction knowing I can bring even the perceived greatest professional wrestler on the planet to his knees.
(Boldly smirking, Rezin runs his black-stained fingers through his own mane of hair, which could be described as the exact opposite of Stevens’. It’s dark brown, coarse, unkempt, hanging past his shoulders like the filthy mop used to clean the floors of restrooms. Honestly, losing his hair in this match would probably be a GOOD thing...)
Even so... you shouldn’t worry about what Mike Neely says about your age or your abilities. The man is paid to trash the good guys for no logical reason. But when other people see the great “Triple X” Sean Stevens in a situation where he has to STRUGGLE just to win by the skin of his teeth... then they begin to question. They wonder if the King has lost a step since his last stint.
I know just as well as you that that’s nothing but bullshit... spread around by people who are merely HOPING it’s true because the Return of the King threatens their interests. You haven’t lost anything in your game, Trip. I should know, because I was the last guy that wrestled you. If those first five minutes after the bell had anything to say, it’s that you’re still as dominant and badass as people remember you.
Take it from me... kicking your ass was NOT easy. It took a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, there’s this perception going around that I don’t work hard at what I do.
What happened in that ring at Aggression 67 had nothing to do with you not living up to your expectations. Rather, I exceeded my own. I brought something to that match that nobody in this fucking company never once thought I had in me. But because I don’t have eight or nine World Heavyweight Championships on my resume, nobody seems to notice that.
They think the problem is with YOU, because there’s no other way the KING of professional wrestling could have been taken to his limit by an insignificant and inconsequential dirty little BASTARD like me.
People would rather cut you down rather than give ME an ounce of credit. Take this match, for example. If I’m lucky enough to win, people will look at it as confirmation that the great “Triple X” Sean Stevens is truly a lesser man than what he once was. Nobody will think for a second that I might actually be THAT damb good at what I do.
And why? Because unlike you, I don’t give a flying fuck about the World Heavyweight Title. Winning it is meaningless to me. And because I have that mentality, the haters out there think it makes me less of a wrestler. But if you ask me, anybody out there who thinks a belt around their waist is the only way to validate their worth in that ring is nothing more than a sorry-ass muthafugga.
(The Escape Artist is no longer smirking in his usual manner, but sneering in contempt. Not solely for his opponent, we can imagine.)
Let me tell you something about MY life, Sean...
Over all these years, while the entire WORLD was kissing the King’s feet and wiping his ass with golden silk, people have constantly looked at me as nothing. They’ve always been condemning me for the weed thing, saying I lacked focus, calling me nothing more than a curtain jerker, and always -- ALWAYS -- fucking lecturing over the great and aspiring wrestler I should’ve been, but couldn’t be, because I was apparently holding myself back. But just like levels, I don’t believe in “should haves” either.
I’m sure I could have been a respected and revered symbol of the sport like your boy Impulse if I ripped off all of your moves also, and had the luck of being born out in New York City down the block from Eli Flair’s old gym. But the only Coop’s we had in Lebanon, Indiana were the ones where we kept chickens. Be as it may, the course of my life simply didn’t give me the same benefits as guys like Knox or yourself... a fact that the two of you and so many others constantly forget.
Seriously... do you have ANY idea what it’s like to follow the dream of being a professional wrestler when you grow up in the middle of goddamb INDIANA?! Fuck whatever the hell you think I “should have” been... I’m just happy I’m not a dumb as fuck gas station attendant or pizza delivery driver!
(He shakes his head ruefully, taking the shades off his face to show his insane eyes to the world.)
I didn’t choose to be raised where I was born. I didn’t choose to have a single mother that ignored me every moment I was alive. I didn’t choose to be rejected from the high school wrestling team because the coach thought I was a scrawny dirtbag that wouldn’t amount to anything. Like it was destined that you would day be a king, it was my destiny by birth to put up with all that shit from the moment I came into this world.
All the same... like a stoner with no dope to smoke... I reached down and I SCRAPED for all that I have, Sean. I don’t give a DAMB if people think I could have been better if I just tried harder, or some stupid shit like that. I TRAINED myself... PUSHED myself... traveled this whole fucking worthless planet from Tipton, Indiana to Timbuktu, throwing myself through TABLES in front of handfuls of fans in bingo parlors and high-school gyms... putting my body through every imaginable torture known to man...
...and in spite of it all, here I am, in the greatest wrestling company on the planet. I may be at the bottom of the pile according to over-privileged assholes like you, but goddamnit, despite all the shit life has thrown in face, I’m still fucking HERE, ain’t I?
(He holds out his arms in mock presentation of his existence.)
Sure, I may not be the King, or a two-time going on three World Heavyweight Champion... but if you’ve really understood EVERYTHING I’ve had to overcome just to reach this point in my life, then you’d easily see why those accomplishments don’t mean dick to me. I’ve accomplished enough... and in spite of it all, the world still spat on me and accused me of being too lazy for not taking that final, meaningless step and putting a strap around my waist.
It must be easy, Sean, to have the confidence and ego to go out there and be the absolute best that you can be when there’s so many good things in your life. Things you clearly take for granted. Your striking good looks... your baby blue eyes... your perfect, god-like genes...
And of course your hair. You’re immaculate, golden locks of precious silken HAIR.
Like a lion, the King of the Jungle, your mane is the symbol of your greatness. In my eyes, its the symbol of all the great things you’ve had in life that helped you earn the great things that define your entire legacy. And that’s why I want it. I’m not interested in titles or invisible crowns. All I want is the lion’s mane.
(An evil smile spreads across his face as he holds up a hand a clutches into the empty air, imagining the feeling of what could be there at the end of Black Dawn.)
I want to take something GOOD out of your life, Sean. I want to take the King down a notch... help him to understand that if he doesn’t see a point in serving his people, then there’s no reason why his people should serve him. You can go on and win your precious World Heavyweight Title if it pleases you. All I want is the satisfaction knowing that whether you carry that title or not, I will ALWAYS have the proof in my hands that even this miserable GOAT BASTARD can defeat the great and almighty King in his royal throne room, the cage.
And when those ignorant drones out in the crowd see me hold up those golden locks high into the air... THEN they will finally understand, Sean. They will know at last there there is no such thing as being better than anybody else. They will KNOW that neither of those jackasses squabbling for the World Heavyweight Title could NEVER be taken seriously as main event contenders again.
They will finally know that ANYTHING can happen in this sport. Chaos reigns... and hard work and perseverance mean nothing to the blind luck of this empty cosmos.
(Chuckling a bit as he imagines this ideal nihilistic reality in his own head, he puts the shades back on.)
We can agree on one thing though, Sean. We WILL steal this show. Regardless of how we measure ourselves or how we define success, you and I are two of this federation’s most talented and entertaining men to ever grace the ring. We made it happen once at Aggression 67... now we’re taking it to the cage, where you are the King and I am the Fool.
Nothing would please me more than to see that entire arena empty out as soon as our match was over, because those people will realize that NOTHING they see from that point on could possibly top what we put on the table.
Sure as fuck not Impulse and Stalker or the First and Cruise...
Just don’t get it into your mind that you’re carrying ME through this, Sean. I’ve carried my own weight all these years through thick and thin, whether I was sober or high. Save the effort to carry the broken remains of your pride after I spinning heel kick that mofo into oblivion.
“I’m not a fan of the circus that professional wrestling has become, Rezin.”
FADEIN: The scene opened up in the same barbershop that EPW superstar, SEAN “TRIPLE X” STEVENS used to visit every week as a child. It was an older building, filled with familiar faces, sounds, topics of conversation, and hairspray scents that made Triple X feel right at home. The blue-eyed badass sat in a black leather chair, leaning back comfortably, in a black “King of that Cage” tee, and army fatigue shorts, as his personal barber; Chop – coincidence – sharpened his scissors.
STEVENS: And, I know the part that I played in helping create it, with my extravagant entrances, promos, and emphasis on fashion, and style, but at the end of the day, I always prided myself on bringing more to the table. I always thought it was okay if I did the extra, because once I got in that ring, the people would see that, for all the shit that I talked; I could “go” with the best of them. Sizzle and steak … substance being the main course, while the hoopla served as an appetizer … but nobody ever liked to focus on that.
“I was the bad guy. …The evil Emperor. I held The First down. I no sold Layne Winters, and broke kayfabe on JA. I stepped on Rocko Daymon’s fingers, as he dangled on the edge of a cliff, causing him to fall three stories out of a building, onto parked cars, pretty much ending his career, and that was after I raped his wife in their hotel bathroom. I retired Joey Melton, Lindsay Troy, Marcus Westcott, Jerichoholic Anonymous, the beloved Ice Tre, and a few others that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
“I have done a lot good in this promotion – turned The First and The Stalker into certified stars … Made Anthology and The Fallen legit, temporarily made Nakita Dahaka respectable … walked into enemy territory, and made our World Championship number one in the world, just to name a few – but, I’m more so defined by the bad, so I can relate, and almost feel where you’re coming from when you complain that we don’t listen to you. But, that’s also the pot calling the kettle black, Erik … because; you’ve done a terrible job of listening to me.
“You can’t get past the fact that I look better than you. You can’t see past the gigantic Wrestler of the Year trophies, and Hall of Fame ring. You think that I had shit handed to me, because, let’s face it … in order for me to reach the levels of success that I reached, someone had to have helped, right? And, you think that because I ascended to a plateau that many would’ve killed to ascend to, I look down on you. Well, let me ask you, Rezin … Who did I have in my back pocket? Dan Ryan? As much of an ego as our esteemed owner has, do you think it’s even remotely possible for anyone to have Dan Ryan in their back pocket? Lindsay Troy hates me because I’m better than her, so who or what does that leave us with?
“…It leaves us with the truth, and the truth is this.”
He cleared his throat, and held his index finger up as his restless barber continued to waiting, as Sean spoke again.
STEVENS: I didn’t ask to be born in Orlando, Florida … where the outside world simply views us as the destination where Disney World resides, ignoring the racial prejudice and gang violence that’s torn half of our neighborhoods to shreds. I didn’t ask to be born, and raised by an alcoholic, dishonorably discharged, ex-military vet of a father, who used all of his military technique, and training to beat my mom and I every chance he got. I got dealt a rough hand, Rezin … I didn’t grow up where you grew up, but I fought every single day of my youth to make sure I didn’t stay there, like so many of my childhood friends, and I take offense to any asshole assuming I lived a cushy life, when the contrary is public record.
“Rezin, I kicked, I scratched, and I clawed on every independent circuit that was kind enough to loan me a broom closet to change into my wrestling gear in. Back when the market wasn’t too keen on blonde haired guys with pretty features, back when being a professional wrestler meant you actually had to be a legitimate tough guy, back when I had to participate in bare knuckle fist fights every single time I entered those locker rooms after the show had already ended, just so the veteran guys would allow me to get my clothes and personal belongings, so I could go home. Nothing came easy for me, and no one liked me … they still don’t. But, the reason why I took everything EPW had to offer me in stride, and made every challenge look as effortless as I did, is simple … and, it goes like this; compared to what I’ve been through – best friend dying to gang violence, because he wouldn’t allow anyone to extort me … wife shot, and declared dead … being accused of rape by a groupie, and having to play it out in court, for the world to see – this? Wrestling on television, defending a metal and leather strap? That was easy.
“This isn’t adversity, this is wrestling. You’re not going to save the world, cause it to end, or change anyone’s life with whatever you’re planning on doing to me at Black Dawn, you’re going to step inside of that cage and attempt to beat me in a match.
“And, that’s the difference between you and me, Erik. You’re unrealistic, I’m not. You sit in your little corner, feeling sorry for things you had no control over, blaming everyone else for your shortcomings, lack of heart, desire, and will, and I spit in the faces of the motherfuckers that told me I couldn’t, and rubbed their noses in it, when I won.
“But, the biggest difference? You make excuses, I don’t.
“You have to take your nonconformist stance against the normal rules of wins, losses, success and failure as a defense mechanism. Because if you didn’t, you’d have put a gun to your head, and pulled the trigger a very long time ago. You have to say the things that you say, and believe in the things you believe in, because it gives you a crutch to stand on, and without it, you’ve got nothing. You have to turn a perfectly fine grudge match inside of steel cage into a dog and pony show, by adding silly little stipulations like the loser cuts his hair, when the fact that we're putting our lives on the line should've been enough. And, in my fifteen years in this sport, I didn’t. ...because once all the smoke from the elaborate fireworks died down after my music stopped blaring ... the only canvas that I ever needed to tell a story, and create a long lasting memory was that mat, those ropes, a referee, and an opponent.
“Which brings us to here and now.”
Chop sighed a sigh of relief, as he turned his clippers on.
STEVENS: If I cut it all off now, I win, don’t I? Your manufactured motivation goes up in flames; you no longer have a topic of discussion, or a carefully crafted excuse to finally do the things necessary to win a big match at your disposal, because I’ll have effectively embarrassed myself for you, right? Chop … cut it all off.”
The barber approached him with the clippers, about an inch away from his hair, when Stevens raised a hand in the air, stopping him dead in his tracks.
STEVENS: …on second thought, don’t. Rezin, at Black Dawn, I want you at your absolute best, no excuses … and, if my hair is your motivation? Then so be it, I’m going to keep it. You want it? Come and take it. Do what you said you were going to do … kick my ass again. Just know this, it’s a lot easier said than done, and it took The First four or five shots at it, and even when he did finally win, it was after I beat him first. Rezin, when that smoke clears, and the dust settles, history has shown that when faced with adversity, I come out swinging … I fight. Till the very end. And, you either quit, make excuses, create alternate universes that abide by different rules, so that you'll feel like less of a loser, or you blame others for your inadequacies.
“But, by your own admission, Rezin ... you're a cockroach. I'm a giant. I come, I scope out the land, then I conquer shit. With all due respect to the championship belt that made me a Hall of Famer, and a legend ... Fuck the EPW title ... I'll win that when the time is right. You are my sole focus ... and, at Black Dawn, I've got a lot of money riding on The King, squashing the cockroach.
“So, in closing … since this is probably all you heard anyway … I’m King, you’re not, my new t-shirt is gold, I need it platinum, buy it ... blahblahblahblah.
“At Black Dawn, I’ll let my fists do the rest of the talking. It's your turn to get your ass kicked.”
(CUE UP: “The Pallbearer’s Lament” by Sleepbringer. Naptown sludge... because I know you all hate hearing this crap. But, if a Rezin promo goes by as anything other than unpleasant, then I won’t be able to shake the feeling that I’ve let you all down.)
(Our shot opens up on a stove top... or, more specifically, a tea kettle sitting on said stove. There’s nothing otherwise special about this kettle, although we can specifically see that it’s black. It can also, apparently, talk.)
Hell yeah, check me out... I’m the KETTLE, you btches!
LOOK AT ME!! See how SHINY I am? That’s right, I am the UNDISPUTED centerpiece of the entire kitchen! I mean, come on... LOOK AT ME!!
I am PRISTINE! I am PERFECT! You could SHAVE YOURSELF just looking at me!
(We cut over to the other side of the stove. There’s an equally black pot sitting there, minding its own business.)
...hey, uh, Kettle.
...the fuck you want, Pot?
Don’t take this the wrong way, man... but you’re actually black.
WHAT?! How DARE you say that to me!! Take a look in the mirror, you hypocrite! YOU’RE just as black as EYE am!
Well, I realize that...
And you have the AUDACITY and the NERVE to sit there and tell me that EYE, the GREAT KETTLE, am black! Do you have any idea what I do around here? I BREW THE TEA, GODDAMNIT!! Without ME, you’d be NOTHING! This whole kitchen wouldn’t even EXIST!
I wasn’t trying to knock your style, dude... it just seemed to me that in your enthusiasm to talk yourself up, you forgot what you really are, and I just felt like doing you a courtesy to remind you before your head got too big from it. Really, you’re black, and I’m black, and we shouldn’t pretend we’re anything above what we are.
Whatever, bro! I may be black, but YOU are nothing but a stove top appliance!
...and, what’s that make you?
I’M THE KETTLE, BITCH!!
(The argument between pot and kettle is broken up as the person providing the voice for both objects chuckles. The camera pulls back as the Goat Bastard known as REZIN steps in front of the stove. No black duster this time... the only thing that hides his pasty and hair-matted torso is a thick lead apron. Instead of shades, he sports a set of industry-grade goggles. Clearly, when this guy cooks, he takes it to a whole other level entirely.)
Ah, Pot... I feel for ya, buddy. You just try and explain things, and people just turn it around on you like you’re the one at fault for something.
At the end of the day, though, you and I just have to come to terms with the fact that egos are like assholes. Everybody has one, but nobody likes what comes out of them.
(Using an oven mitt, Rezin pulls the top off of the pot. Do we see Ma’s home cooking inside? Not quite. In the pot is a brewing and boiling mass of black. Noxious fumes rise from the bubbling surface. Rezin holds his head over it and takes in a big breath, wearing the smile one wears when he’s cooking up something tasty.)
Hmm... needs more bowl.
(Using a pair of tongs, he picks up a glass marijuana pipe sitting on the counter nearby and drops it in. If you haven’t figured it out by now, he’s doing a common practice done by many who frequently partake in the use of cannabis when their paraphernalia becomes soiled and dirty from over-use; he’s boiling the bowls for the resin inside.)
That should do it.
(He sets the lid back and takes off the oven mitts to lower the music on a nearby iPod dock, which we can presume was stolen. “Who’s house is this, anyways?” Kenny would ask, if he were here right now. But since he’s not, we’ll have to leave that as a question answered for another time, as Rezin crosses his arms and leans on the counter, ready to address the masses.)
I may be a pot calling a kettle black, Trip... and you’d be retarded if you thought that was the first time I heard that oft-used analogy... but that doesn’t make me any less RIGHT when I say that you haven’t been listening.
And yes, I realize I haven’t been listening very well myself... but you give me little choice, every time you bring up guys who haven’t been in this federation for YEARS and pretend that there are still people out there who give a fuck about what’s in the past. Honestly, you’re beginning to sound like Cameron Cruise at this point...
(Rezin’s hand suddenly jerks up off of the stove and he begins waving it around frantically.)
No, seriously, BURN!! HOT!! CHRIST!! SHIT, that’s going to leave a mark!
(He grimaces at the wound on his fingers, but learns from his mistake as he edges away from the stove where he can’t possibly touch it again by idly setting his hand down.)
For that matter, you’re not telling me anything I haven’t already heard before...
In fact, it was your boy Impulse who gave me the same critical psycho-analysis about a year ago. So, not only does the kid rip off your moves, but he also apparently rips off your hyper-elitist logic as well. Perhaps this explains why he is the ONLY person to whom you've given any credit in the past five or so years.
If you guys want to think I’m nothing at the core, then you’d probably be right. But then, I mean...
(He giggles, low, raspy, and dark. Giggles like a hash-addled assassin waiting in the shadows.)
Won’t ALL be NOTHING in the end, Trip?
Think about it... a hundred years from now, we’ll be the exact same. We’ll be nothing but faded memories. THEN, Trip... I’ll finally be up on your level. Or rather, you’ll be down on mine.
I didn’t bring up my life story as way to excuse myself for what I am. Rather, I brought it up to show that I already KNOW what I am. I tried to get that point out of the way so we wouldn’t have to listen to you state the obvious.
I KNOW I’m a failure, Pops. I don’t need the “Triple X” Sean Stevens Stamp of Approval to understand that. I may LOOK and ACT stupid, but I’m not blind to the truth. Likewise, I know that YOU are a WINNER.
You call it a “defense mechanism”... a “crutch”... apparently unaware that you pretty much do the same thing every time you bring up the laundry list of guys you’ve beaten and/or run out of the company. Me? I consider it a creative outlet.
Allow me to demonstrate...
(He slides over to the fridge, pops open the door, and pulls out a single white egg. He holds it up to the camera, and his eyes grow slightly wider as he tries to seriously address the audience.)
This is my brain...
(He cracks the egg on the edge of the counter and pours the insides into a nearby grime-encrusted glass, carelessly tossing the egg shell over his shoulder when he’s finished. He picks up the glass and takes a quick sip. If you’ve tasted raw egg before, then you probably already know the look that’s on his face right.)
FUCK, bro... my brain tastes like SHIT!
But hey, that’s okay... we’ve got a solution!
(He opens the cupboard door over the counter and pulls out a regular skillet. He fires up another burner on the stove and puts it in place. And yes, it’s also black. He picks up the glass with the egg in it and holds it up to the camera in the same fashion as before.)
This is my brain on drugs...
(He pours the raw egg into the heated pan, and it quickly begins cook.)
WHOA... now we’re talkin’! Originally, my brain was just a slimy and transparent blob without flavor or consistency... but suddenly, you add a little zest and a little heat, and things start really COOKIN’! Now my brain has a nice, smokey flavor! Sounds delicious...
(As it gains consistency, he begins running a fork through it to break up its form and disperse the heat.)
Okay, sure... now it may LOOK like the brains are getting SCRAMBLED through this whole process... but believe me, I know what I’m doing here! It will taste better this way...
(He suddenly looks up into the camera again.)
Oh, what’s that? You don’t LIKE scrambled brains?! Well, FUCK BEANS!!
(Exasperated, he opens the drawer and pulls out a ladle... once again donning an oven mitt and removing the lid off the pot.)
Here I try to do you the common courtesy of cooking you up an honest BREAKFAST, and all you can do is fucking complain about how it’s “not good enough” for your liking. Christ on Sale, I didn’t think I was doing this to PLEASE you...
But hey, if that’s how you want it? Then fine...
(He drops the ladle into the pot and pulls out a scoop of rich and nasty black resin. Once again, he holds it up to the camera.)
This is my brain on REZIN...
(He pours the ladle over the scrambled eggs, making the yellow turn black. The black hash begins crackling and smoking as soon as it hits the heated surface of the frying pan. Rezin watches what was once a simple meal of scrambled eggs turn into a sizzling and smoking mess, all the while wearing his sadistic and goat-like grin. After a few moments, he holds up what’s left and shows it to the camera.)
(He pauses for a beat and pulls a fork out of drawer. Disgusting many watching at home, he forks up a bite, puts it into his mouth, chews it laboriously for a few moments, and chokes it down. When he smiles, his teeth are blackened.)
It’s not easy to swallow, Trip... but you’re going to have to deal with it, all the same.
Which is what I’ve been trying to tell you from the get-go. You can call yourself a king, and me a clown... the uber-elite against a mere circus sideshow... but none of that means DICK as soon as the four walls of the cage surround us. Neither throne nor crown will deter these impetuous legs from guiding their way to your fat and swelling head.
You want to make this out to be a battle of philosophies, but really... it’s just a battle between men. And anything can happen when mere men go at each other. Even YOU can’t deny that there’s always the outside possibility that you might have a bad night.
Win or lose... I INTEND to make it a bad night for you, Trip.
Here ya ago... bone-appetite, or whatever.
(He drops the still heated pan haphazardly onto the linoleum table near the camera man. The camera hangs on the image of the unsightly order of scrambled eggs a moment longer before pulling up to Rezin again as he is turning the burners off, speaking with his pale and hairy back facing the camera.)
I can understand why you’d consider some of the things I say to be nothing more than complete and utter blasphemy. After all, you’re probably the one person who’s gone into that ring and consistently won his battles more than any other man can claim in this federation. Even I can’t deny you of that...
Yet here I am, saying things like and wins and losses don’t really matter in the long run. I mean, that statement alone pretty much demeans all the years of hard work and wrestling excellence you’ve put into this company...
...the years you spent NOT wrestling me, anyway... and not to mention a dozen other fine and under-appreciated athletes whom you would easily pass off as not anywhere near your “level”...
(He turns to face the camera again.)
But if I’m WRONG, Trip? Then please... explain something for me, O Wise and All-Knowing King...
A few months ago, I beat Cameron Cruise in the ring. Cleanly.
Fast forward to today, and he’s gearing up for a shot at the World Heavyweight Champion.
(He pops an eyebrow as his mouth collapses into a crooked grimace. Most Colts fans would associate this as the classic “Manning-Face”.)
Now... I was never very good at MATH, but... something there just doesn’t quite add up in my head.
And because it doesn’t add up, I fail to see how I’m going to “pull ahead” in any way whether I end up on the top or on the bottom for those last three counts.
(Using the he lifts up the pot of boiling resin and carries it with him into the next room. The camera follows him into the dining room, where we immediately realize both who’s house this is and why Kenny has yet to be seen. We’re actually IN the house of Kenny Lombardo... because the host is tied up and gagged at the head of the table.)
(Upon seeing the camera, Kenny’s eyes grow wide and he begins moaning for help. Rezin subsides him by grabbing a flyswatter off the table and whacking him a few times across the shoulder.)
HEY THERE, “Roomie!” Almost ready for our REZIN PARTY!
(He grabs the pot onto the table and grabs a seat next to Kenny and sits, smirking quite defiantly. Kenny’s eyes nervously dart between the Goat Bastard next to him and the camera.)
To be honest, I could care less whether I go up, down... forward, backward... whatever the hell direction I’m going in. It seems to be hard notion to grasp, but I don’t pick a direction and follow it. Whether I win or lose, my aim is destruction, and my cause is chaos.
But this match... even I’ll admit... this is one of the few times where I want to win.
That’s right, Trip... I WANT to beat you, come Black Dawn. I want to do what SO FEW have EVER done in this company. I want to do it in the CAGE... YOUR specialty... MY specialty...
I could have put this challenge down to anybody else, but I brought it to YOU, Trip... because, simply put... \ there’s no point in me going around and saying there’s no such thing as a “best wrestler ever” until I step up and prove to the world that I can BEAT that guy...
...and take his GODDAMB HAIR!!!
You’d be HELLA-FUCKED if you thought I was going to let anybody take THIS away from me...
(Vainly, and quite paradoxically, he runs his fingers across the sides of his clumpy skullet. Kenny speaks without saying anything by rolling his eyes.)
You might call this a joke... a GIMMICK... a clear sign that this sport you love so much has become a circus. But it’s ALWAYS been a circus, Trip. People didn’t travel from miles all over to see Andre the Giant for his wrestling ability.
I don’t have anything else to put on the line BUT my hair. But it’s a small price to pay... just to get you ALONE WITH ME in that cage for a quick fifteen to twenty.
I thought I’d be courteous and make this challenge to you NOW... rather than me having to come and get you LATER. After all, if you and everyone else thinks that this can only end in my face being superkicking into oblivion and a subsequent humiliation, then we might as well get this shit out of the way before things get ugly.
And if you think you know UGLY, Trip...
(Rezin shudders, putting the sunglasses back on his face, thankfully hiding a bit of his OWN ugliness.)
Oh, buddy... just WAIT until you see me at my ugliest.
(Rezin rises out of the chair and pats Kenny a few times on the head.)
Well, Kenny, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal... let’s get the torches and start sizzlin’ ourselves some sludge!
(Lombardo lets out a muffled and forlorn wail of dread as the Goat Bastard chuckles with malice. He reaches over and removes the lid off the pot as the camera man edges his way back into the kitchen and fades to black.)
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The following video footage was recorded at a live EPW event, in Washington, DC. The owner of the video is in no way affiliated with the corporation Empire Pro Wrestling.
FADEIN: The footage was hard to witness, the cameraman did his best to hold his cellular phone still, but this wasn’t the easiest of circumstances, with the raucous crowd surrounding him, chanting names, screaming obscenities, and tossing all types of objects. Not to mention, the idiot sign guy directly in front of him, lifting his hand crafted horribly drawn sign directly in front of the miniature device.
“Jerk,” the cameraman quietly mumbled, as he continued recording.
The scene opened up at a house show … a live taping in our Nation’s Capital that was moments away from ending. Usually, at this point in the evening, fans looking to get a head start on traffic would usually head to the exit, but on this day something special was in the midst of taking place.
Standing in the center of the ring was EPW Hall of Famer, and former pound-for-pound number one wrestler in the world, Sean “Triple X” Stevens. He held a microphone closely to his lips, occasionally wiping his sweat soaked forehead. Trip had just wrestled in the main event of the evening, and in one of those unscripted, unplanned moments that made the viewers in attendance proud to be wrestling fans, he decided to give them something extra.
STEVENS (breathing heavily): On behalf of Empire Pro Wrestling, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for coming out tonight … you were an amazing audience!”
The sound quality was horrible … static mixed with a popping sound, that sounded like a speaker inside of your television/computer/iPad/cell phone exploded. …add in the fact that your highs, mids, and lows all sounded the same, and well … you were in for a pretty horrific listening experience. But, you – the viewer – listened anyway as the fans in attendance applauded, causing a “Triple X” chant to ensue.
STEVENS: …but, before I go, I need to address a few things. As you all know, Black Dawn is right around the corner … and, I don’t think I need to stress how monumental this event is going to be. Every major championship in our company is on the line, and I think it goes without saying that some of the men on our roster will walk into that event one way, and walk out another. What exactly does that mean? It means men that walk into that arena as champions will leave empty handed. People will walk into Black Dawn under their own power, but will need medical assistance leaving. Men will walk into that arena, full of swagger, and bravado, and exit mere shells of their former selves. My opponent on that day...”
Instantly, the mood in the arena changed, from excitement and cheering, to anger and boos. Ignoring it all, Triple X continued.
STEVENS: My opponent that evening, Rezin, is going to, once again, imply that I’m stupid. He’s going to imply that my accomplishments mean nothing and that by acknowledging them, I’m stuck on my past … and, he’s going to try to convince you that by doing that I’m making a grave mistake. He’s going to use four and five syllable variations of the word arrogant to describe me … and, he’s going to make light of our match by cracking eggs, making jokes, and creating a parallel universe where dressing room mirrors are really doorways to alternate worlds, where our evil alter egos reside. Then, in one of those clever little twists, my opponent is going to completely contradict himself and condemn the circus like atmosphere that this business has become, forgetting that by performing silly little “this is your brain on…” skits, he helps contribute to it in ways that my flashy lifestyle never could. Rezin is going to waste your time and mine. He’s a throwback to the early 90s where promos didn’t have to make sense, and you could ramble on and on for hours, switching back and forth from mysterious being to street slang speaking thug, as long as you’re capable of disappearing in a cloud of smoke, and making people believe you’re seeing things that you’re not with the usage of mirrors, and can levitate.”
Triple X paused, allowing the fans to soak up everything he said, or maybe he paused to catch his breath… After all, he did just finish wrestling.
STEVENS: But, my opponent is a liar. He’s a master at twisting and manipulating words, and playing with your intelligence. The truth is Rezin is just like me, he’s just like you. He’s not a being from another world, he’s a wrestler from Indiana that was happy enough just getting by, that eventually got sick of being the punch line in everyone’s jokes. He did illegal drugs then, he does them now. He was talented as hell then; he’s just as talented now … and, pardon me for using the past as my crutch, but … If Rezin would’ve stepped up to the plate, and called me out back when I ran roughshod over this federation … he’d have gotten his ass kicked then, just like he’s going to get his ass kicked now.
“All of the extra stuff that he’s doing? The wit, the skits, the wardrobe change, self-loathing, and bi-polar behavior is nothing more than a cleverly orchestrated charade, created by a mediocre human being, to get people talking. If I can be arrogant for a moment, I am the greatest wrestler of our generation … I don’t need publicity stunts, I don’t need gimmicks, I don’t need stupid little stipulations, all I need is … this.”
The crowd roared, as a steel cage, hanging from the rafters, barely noticeable, from the cameraman’s seat began to lower.
STEVENS: This ring, this cage, this event, this opportunity … this moment. Rezin, you can twist my words, you can call me names, and you can tell all of the jokes, and be as condescending as you want. Knock yourself out. I’m not concerned with debating with you, and I could care less about your philosophies on wins, losses, and life. Quite simply, Rezin … at Black Dawn … I am going to beat the living hell out of you. I’m going to beat you within an inch of your life … I’m going to utilize every area of this cage to brutalize you, and I’m going to show you on the grandest stage of them all what separate’s you from me.
“Are you a couple of levels beneath me? Yes you are. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to take you lightly. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to look past you, or that I think this is going to be a fifteen minute sparring session because I know your potential. I know what you can be, and the fact that you actually want to win this match, tells me that I will have my hands full. But, I also know exactly what you are … and, when you come out swinging, and hit me with your best shot, and I keep getting up, and I keep fighting, and I keep kicking out … you’re going to resort to what you know. To that emotion that makes you most comfortable. You’re going to cower, you’re going to argue with the referee, you’re going to make excuses, you’re going to show your frustration and Rezin … you’re going to quit.”
The cage was completely lowered, and surrounded the ring. Triple X climbed atop a turnbuckle, and sat at the top.
STEVENS: You got it half right, Rezin. When we both die, and we’re resting in our caskets, and I’m dust, and you’re a skeleton, even then, we won’t be equals. Life as you know it will be over, but, not me. Legends never die, Rezin. Everything that I’ve done, the memories that I’ve created, they will be the topic of conversations in magazines, barbershops, and tailgates for millenniums to come. And, you? You’ll be forgotten.
“When I returned to this company, I vowed to never let anyone take my crown. Rezin, I stand behind that. And, at Black Dawn … I’m going to show the world what you and I already know. That this isn’t my farewell tour … this isn’t the end … it’s only the beginning.
I'm going to hurt you, Rezin. You might wanna find Erik, and tell him to prepare to make a reappearance, because when our match is done, The Rezin will be nothing more than damaged goods.” FTB
(CUE UP: “Lost” by Neurosis. Since we’re in San Fran, so I wanted to represent with some Bay Area metal. Yeah, it would probably be more trendy to have gone with one of the big four of Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, or Anthrax... but Neurosis is like that unknown fifth bastard step-child from that generation.)
(We’re in San Francisco, outside the AT&T Park. The stadium is detailed on every corner with “Empire Pro Wrestling presents BLACK DAWN 2012” banners. With this scene as our backdrop, REZIN steps into the foreground, shades, shit-eating smirk, and all.)
Well, my little lambs... we’ve FINALLY arrived! The city by the bay... SAN FRANCISCO!
Even a crack-pot like ME could make it in a place like this! I dare say I could make up my own religion, all based and indoctrinated on the ABSOLUTE APATHY that overwhelms our spirit upon the realization that in the end, all will be NOTHING!
I could make a killing on the Bible of Rezin. Hell, it worked for Anton LaVey...
(He pauses for a moment as if he can hear everybody else watching at home universally ask, “Who?”)
(The goat bastard glances to his left and the camera swings over where we’re looking at another haggard individual with a head covered in unkempt hair and a trench coat covering his shoulders.)
REPENT, ye sinners, for your time on this earth is DOOMED!!
SATAN... WALKS among us!
(The shot goes back to Rezin, who looks rather annoyed by the interruption... and perhaps also, the stark similarities in appearance.)
The BLACK SUN rises... and the DAWN of catastrophe looms over the horizon! God’s wrath with rain HELLFIRE upon us all!
(Rezin looks right into the camera, drops his shades in the 80’s fashion, and perks an eyebrow to the audience at home. It’s that look that says... “Yeah, you know what I’m about to do to this guy.” The camera goes back to the other raving lunatic standing outside the AT&T Park.)
Hear my words and HEED MY WARNING! I have RODE the flying saucer to the realms beyond the Mountains of Mars! I have WITNESSED the coming downfall of man!
(He stops when he feels Rezin’s fingers tapping him on the shoulder.)
Excuse me, sir...
Are you, uh... part of the collective?
...yes, I am. I collect scalps, in fact. Now... could I ask you something?
Ask, for I KNOW all...
What does Sean Stevens say to his wife when she gets out of line?
(Before he can answer, he’s knocked out of frame as Rezin twirls around in the blink of an eye and puts his foot right into his face.)
(We hear the body drop to the pavement off camera, and the silence that follows would indicate that it stands there. With the business finished, Rezin turns back to the camera, readjusts the collar on his beat-up duster, and turns his attention back to the camera.)
There... put that on YouTube, and title it “Hobo Kicks Bum In Face”...
(Rezin clears his throat in a manner that sounds completely painful.)
I’m sure you probably think I’m not too different from that guy. Well, here’s one thing that separates us...
I can spinning heel kick motherfuggers in the face. He can’t.
Maybe you’ve forgotten that. Maybe I kicked you in the head just a little TOO hard back at Aggression 67, and I wiped your memory clean. Or maybe you’re just too proud to admit that it’s always a threat... it’s always lurking out there, ready to strike when you least expect it.
There’s more to me than just smoke and mirrors. I mean... SMOKE is a HUGE part of it, yes, but... it’d be rather foolish of you to underestimate the abilities of the master behind the illusion. And so far, all you’ve focused on is the style... not the substance.
I’m sure in your OWN ideal little imaginary world, EVERYBODY in professional wrestling, everybody treats the sport just like you. None of that gimmicky, carny garbage punks like ME supposedly represent... just nothing but pure wrestling... by tried and true wrestlers... who boldly state how well they wrestle.
I’m sure it would be peachy. No frills... no flair... no bullshit... no cartoon characters... no outlandish settings...
No zest... no texture... no flavor... no imagination... no personality...
Just nothing but pure wrestling.
(He shakes his head and groans audibly.)
I don’t know where you got the idea that I condemn this circus. I EMBRACE it, Trip. Good guys and bad guys... comedy and tragedy... it’s what makes a guy like me LOVE this sport.
And that’s why I have not quit it, even after all these years of being nothing more than a stepping stone to wrestlers like you.
But those years are long gone. You’re not stepping on a stone this time... you’re stepping into a tar pit. How you gonna climb up on your throne again, O King, when you’re down in the PITS with the circus freaks like me?
You don’t need that title a third time, Trip... take it from me. I’ve already destroyed what little credibility that belt had left. After all, I’ve beaten the First... and I’ve beaten Cameron Cruise... and yet... one of those two will be a World “Champion” by the end of Black Dawn.
Beating them got me nothing. But YOU? The great and legendary “Triple X” Sean Stevens? Well, by golly... I imagine that if this rancid goat bastard could scrap out a win over the King of Kings, people would start taking NOTICE of the substance that my sludge-smokin’ style is always hiding.
I could have used this event to pick a fight with anybody else in this federation... but I wanted YOU, Sean. I’d gain more to defeat a LEGITIMATE champion than either of the two phonies in the main event of this Pay Per View. You can call me a coward... but the fact is, I laid this challenge down with nothing to hide, nothing to ask for, and nothing to offer but a mangy wad of hair. If I was truly a coward, I’d pull a Cruise and talk shit about you from the safety of another match.
But I won’t stop you by hiding. The only way I’m going to stop you from taking that belt, Trip… is by going into the ring and getting it done.
If that means eating an X-Factor, and losing all my hair, then so be it. It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to prove that I can stand at that almighty and unreachable “level” you keep prattling on about.
People have always chided me for being unmotivated... but I don’t think I’ve ever been more motivated than right now.
(He takes a brief glance back up at the Black Dawn banners hanging across the stadium exterior, and smiles with sinister intentions to the camera.)
The most direct way to end a man’s life is to sever the head... and so is the same to topple an Empire. I will cut off the head... or in this case... the KING’S head!
The world will look at this federation as others have looked at ME. They will see a joke... a failure... a fucking TRAGEDY...
(Rezin trails off as the homeless man from earlier pulls himself up into the frame, looking dazed and crazed all at the same time.)
...and in the MIDDLE of the ruin, a DARK PROPHET of DESTRUCTION shall stand alone!
Yeah, couldn’t have said that better myself...
(Rezin Damascus Heels the poor hobo for a second time. We hear a body hit the pavement again. The Escape Artist chuckles as he looks down at his handiwork, and walks toward the stadium entrance as we fade to black.)
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