So you think you can tell...
Heaven from Hell...
blue skies from pain.
"Ten years ago, everything was put into motion. Ten years ago, a story began... whose ending has not yet been written; whose ending is pretty much up for grabs to anyone that might wanna throw down some wagers."
"It all started with a girl named Alicia Lauren McGinnis, whose death haunted me for nearly all that time... whose death did more to spark my contributions to the Extreme Revolution than anything else.... whose death somehow brought two very different people together in an attempt to fill the void that Alicia left in both of us. The other person's name is Ivy McGinnis, perhaps you've heard of her."
"In the ten years since, I've lost most of my friends... all of my goals... and my optimism for the sport of professional wrestling being something like a family."
"But one thing that hasn't changed... one thing that probably will never change... is that Eli Flair is still one hell of a tough opponent."
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
Four championship runs of one form or another in ten years, and I'm essentially right back where I was in January of 1995... preparing for a match against a former CSWA World Heavyweight Champion. But, trust me when I tell you, Ryan... despite the fact that I lost that one due to interference from Johnny Tropic, I consider you a far more intelligent, competent, and capable opponent than Degadeth on his best days."
"Yeah, I know... so's JJ DeVille. But it's the thought that counts."
"I know what they did to you, Dan... I know they took the belt from you with a smokescreen of a power struggle and a Wag of the Dog better than most political strategists could come up with. And the only thing that's currently keeping me from referring to you as a Deposed Champion is the fact that Southern took the title from Melton, and as a non-political titleholder, he deserves the chance to show what he's made of."
"But that doesn't mean I agree with it."
And did they get you trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
"I started this thing off with a brief rant about how I got here... mainly because I believe it's good to remind yourself of what's gone on before. It keeps you focused on moving forward instead of backward. And I got here, to Houston and a match with the Ego Buster, by losing everything that meant anything in my life, and slowly getting it back. I don't know what your relationship was with Merritt or Thomas, Ryan... but I openly disagreed with them, I mocked them when they deserved it, and I didn't show up for work when they didn't have the best interest of the CSWA fan in their plans. But I also never missed a booked day of work in this company or any other... and never disappointed the people by telling them I'd be there when I wouldn't."
"Go check it out... not with the man but with the boys. Any match I skipped, I made it pretty damn clear I wasn't gonna be there."
"I'll be there in Houston, Ryan... to officially meet the Ego Buster. I've heard stories and rumors... and I've heard some pretty wild tales. I want to separate fact from fiction and see for myself what the years have done to shape Dan Ryan."
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
"I want to know if the forces that created the man who led an ill - fated invasion of another company into the CSWA are any way similar to the ones that prompted an apathetic kid from the Bronx to fend off a crazed cage fighter in another promotion, and then walk into the lion's den to defend his honor."
"I want to know if the man who has done more since invading the CSWA to raise the integrity of the company is any way like the man who has the life's blood of Greensboro's Favorite Export running through his veins in every possible way."
"The only difference between us in that instance, Ryan... is the fact that I don't like to do things the way I'm told. While you were doing that restoration of integrity, there was simply no place in the CSWA for an Eli Flair... at least, not Eli Flair the way I am. Merritt and Thomas had some ideas, things I might be able to do to carve out an alternative path... but that ain't me. If what I'm doing in the CSWA doesn't mean anything, I'd just as soon stay home and let someone else with a meaningful path take that television time."
"In many ways, you represent a return for me."
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year...
Running over the same old ground,
What have we found?
"What could be more meaningful than a test of myself with the man who was politicked right out of the title? What could be more meaningful than the chance to see the man with more passion for the sport than half the CSWA roster win the World Title less than a year removed from carrying the banner of another company?"
"What I'm trying to tell you, Ryan... is that I asked for this match out of purely selfish and self - serving reasons."
The same old fears,
Wish you were here.
"I want to know, firsthand... just how good you are."
"So I'm waiting - for another time and another place...."
A wooden desk forms the centerpiece for the room, a large nameplate above on the wall - the words conveniently blurred for the camera. Thomas, like Merritt before him does not take kindly to the appearance of other companies on their programs - whether on television or in promotional packages.
Thus our shot is confined to an office - plush though it may be, but lacking in any sort of grace.
DAN RYAN sits stoically behind it, fingers intertwined on the desk. Papers are here, papers are there - contracts, expense reports - various mundane duties and technicalities requiring his attention.
On top, a memo from the CSWA.
Ryan: "So Eli, this paper in my hand - and now your own lips - tell me you've requested this match."
"I'd be lying if I said I hadn't seen this coming for some time."
"We were destined to meet in the ring eventually, and perhaps a lot sooner if not due to some complications. I would say unforeseen complications, but they too were of course expected."
"You want to know who I am?"
"You know where I come from and the sort of pain that shaped who I've become. I won't get into the depths of my pain. You should understand as much as any - the loss of Alicia - the birth of your child. You know my loss."
"I've never chosen to speak about those things publically and I never will. What my opponents choose to do with that knowledge is the overwhelming temptation to attempt to exploit for their benefit."
"I would never give them that satisfaction."
"You know who I am, I think."
"In the past I have patterned myself after you, Eli."
"Don't let it surprise you too much. You really don't have that many years on me in tenure in this business, although your iconic level is greater than mine. You've chased gold more often, but don't take that as a criticism. We all have our vices."
"The political games, Eli - they've stripped you of your joy for what you do. Perhaps having close friends gunned down in gang wars didn't help - but the Merritt-Thomas machine is what has driven the lifeblood and passion for this sport from your veins."
"I don't suffer from that affliction, and I'll do you the favor of telling you why."
"I came with no preconceptions, Eli."
"The ill-fated invasion? It was only ill-fated because I jumped ship. It was only ill-fated because my partners in crime were weak and I knew it. Still, had I not jumped ship I would have been CSWA World Champion as an outcast, the gloried invader standing atop the company he despised as it's hero. Ironic."
"But what good is fighting for a cause you don't care about?"
"What did I need in it, Eli? Evan Aho was a symbol of what I hated. He was a symbol that had disrespected something that I loved. He disrespected what people like Erik Zieba and the late Chad Dupree created from the ground up and that I helped to legitimize."
"I had my vision, Eli - and in time I fulfilled it. Taking over companies, disrupting politically the inner workings of a legendary company - it never was in my interest."
"I've learned to take joy in what I do because I've accepted who and what I am and have run with it. There isn't a man or woman on this planet that can take that from me because I've made the decisions within myself to be great by the terms with which I've set up for myself."
"When Stephen Thomas stripped me of the title I considered it typical. Say what you will, but Shane Southern is as illegitimate a champion as Melton was, but that's the sort of thing that company management has never much cared about."
"Shane Southern is the champion right now because he was chosen as the golden child a year ago. He was chosen for the role he stands in right now. The title was stripped from me because when the truth is told, an outsider with a history of bucking the system was not their first choice. It doesn't matter who I beat while champion. It doesn't matter if I raised the integrity of the belt, Eli. A pesky little thing like integrity is easily fixed by assigning a paper champion and then feeding him to the golden boy."
"No, I was stripped so that Shane Southern could be champion today, and interestingly enough I have more to do with who Shane is right now than anyone associated with this company. Joey Melton? Need we go into the deeper meanings in that? I trust your intellect to know better."
"If you want to know how good I am, I'm more than obliged to show you."
"Maybe I'll remind you of some things along the way....."
".....like why you got into this business in the first place...."
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