(FADEIN to an empty locker room long after the show has finished. Slumped over on a bench is Eddie Patton, still covered in bandages. His breathing is slow and relaxed, so the show must have been over for some time. He speaks to no one in particular.)
PATTON: “If the measure of a man is his ability to conquer adversity… to rise and rise again when the odds are stacked against… then I reckon I haven’t done half bad.
“But if the measure is only victory.. only the ability to get his arms raised, well, then, I suppose ol’ Impulse is the Man of the Hour.
“I ain’t gonna lie. I wanted to win. I don’t want to settle for second place. I don’t wanna be the guy who almost made it. Who pushed and pushed and came up short. Almost is for losers, right?
“Well not tonight. Every journey begins with a single step. And every setback ain’t a failure… it’s just another chance to step up.
“The whole world saw, once again… they witness the electricity. The spectacle. The Next Level of Wrestling.
“Another chapter has begun.”
(CUTTO: A rural farmhouse with an ancient basketball hoop. Eddie Patton is shooting hoops with an old basketball. He’s wearing sweatpants and a gray Indiana University t-shirt. He seems to be moving a little slow.)
PATTON: “What a difference a few days makes. Y’know, it’s funny… you train and you work out and you condition yourself to withstand anything, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. No matter how many backdrops and Russian leg sweeps you’ve executed in your training… it just doesn’t compare.
“Not when you’re in the ring with Impulse. Not with McFark or Windham. They hit back and they hit hard. And they ain’t practicin’ for somethin’.
“But neither am I. And no matter how hard you hit me, I ain’t gonna stay down. Bobby Jack knows. Soon the whole world will know.
“Soon, Vic Gravender is gonna know. The Watertown Wrecking Ball.
“I guess you and I have somethin’ in common along with most of NLW. Comin’ up short. Not quite bein’ there.
“It should be an honor. We’re surrounded by some of the best and brightest talent to come out of this sport in the last 10 years. I reckon I ain’t seen so many bright prospects outside of a diamond mine.
“But that don’t make it easier to lose, does it. Doesn’t make it okay.
“For a moment there… for a brief moment, I was sure I had him. I thought the stars had aligned and the world had opened up and I, Eddie Patton, a virtual nothing, was going to down the man that everybody was SURE was gonna win.
“I didn’t. But I think, for one brief moment, he knew it, too. I think everyone at home knew it. It was possible. In that second, I could’ve been a King… a Champion… something more than a man.
“A flash in the pan. It’s all passed now.
“But I’m here. And I’m still ready. I’m a little worse for the wear, but I got quite a bit of fight left in me. And if you think for one second that I’m gonna let you push me around just cause Bobby Jack ain’t got no honor and decided to ring my bell… well…
“… you’re gonna find that they call me electric for good reason.
“The world of wrestling has changed since I was a boy, I admit. They say there’s no place for someone like me. Someone who puts the armbar ahead of the crowbar. Someone who practices snap suplexes instead of chairshots.
“Well I think there’s still beauty in the brainbuster. Ain’t nothin’ finer than a well-executed sunset flip. And I think all the millions of kids at home.. I think they’re not so different.. their hearts a-flutter when they see somethin’ that really charges ‘em up.
“Vic Gravender… I’m gonna light it up once again. And I hope you’re ready. Cause I ain’t gonna need a crowbar to take the next step of my journey.
“I’m gonna do it the ol’ fashioned way. Hard work. Perseverance. And never sayin’ die.
“It’s gonna be electric, I promise.”
(FADEOUT as he swishes a fadeaway jumper from 20 feet out and smiles.)
(FADE-IN: Sitting in front of an NLW backdrop with legs that are probably made from the planet Krypton, our big-ass hero, “The Watertown Wrecking Ball” Vic Gravender sits, his long goatee barely restrained by rubber bands. The leather jacket he wears has been beaten into the ground and probably has a few stretch marks of its own on it, but Gravender doesn’t mind. Anyhow, he talks. Shocking, I know.)
VIC GRAVENDER: Okay, Eddie, I’m gonna level with you right here and now. Bottom line, I’m like you. We were just as close as the space between the words I’m spouting about meeting each other in a couple week’s time for the NLW Openweight Championship. A not-so-fatass, but ugly as **** Jappo got the jump on me and you just BARELY got eeked out by Impulse. And now here we are, ready to do battle. See who the proverbial “best of the worst” is right now, I guess.
In your mind, anyway.
But that’s where the similarities for this contest end. You’ve got all this pride that you’re fighting for, to prove that what happened at during the Golden Boy Grand Prix was nothing more than a stopgap. See, for me, I could care less. I can’t be bothered to watch promo tapes with idiots dropping eighteen-dollar words that quite frankly, should be teaching at MIT than wrestling around in tights like a queer-mo. I don’t go on YouTube to look at my opponents… and if I do, usually, it’s just to kill time watching some guy get his pecker bitten off by an emu or something equally as hilarious. And I certainly don’t listen to anything that anybody has got to say about me. Ever. Yutaka Maeda will wake up and still be the same, stupid c*nt he was before. I’m still gonna be the guy that crushes whoever the f*ck gets put in front of me.
But why? Why would I want to hurt somebody that, quite frankly, hasn’t done sh*t to me and is just looking to get back on track?
Legacy? Pfft, who gives a crap? When I’m dead and buried, I don’t need to leave anything behind except a big-ass coffin. Wrestlers that go about looking to create a legacy for themselves are nothing but pipe dream chasers. Can you even tell me, Eddie, who won Super Bowl XII? If you can, you’ve got no ****ing life. That’s my point. This ADD-addled society doesn’t remember fame, only infamy. And infamy requires killing somebody. Last I checked, this wasn’t a prison, though the way Jimmy “Grape Drink” Mylde screams like a prison *****, I can understand how one is fooled.
Glory? Man, I’ve been beating the sh*t out of people in shopping mall parking lots and VFW halls for years now, dropping more bombs like I was wrestling in Iraq. Does glory seem like something that appeals to me in the slightest?
Money? I’ve done fine. I’ve got a run-down two-bedroom apartment that I do just fine with. It somehow fits my fat-ass, that’s all I need.
Pride? I got enough to fill a ten-gallon hat, but none of it rests on some throwaway match.
Um, what else is left… uh…
For the competition? No offense, Eddie, but f*ck it. My morning breath is more appealing than whatever the hell you tried to cut on me. At this juncture, call me borderline indifferent to you.
Family? Nah, Mom died, and Dad’s in a home, thank the Lord. My brother, Scott, comes by every now and again and keeps trying to take my sh*t, but he knows I know where he lives (Read: one apartment below me) so he better watch his ass.
For the public opinion of my peers? Uh… you’ve SEEN our roster, right? I think we’re about as normal as this place is going to get when our opponents are guys like The KISS Demon headlining a Pay-Per-View, Wanderlust believing he stepped OUT of a novel, a street-fighting Jew, and other **** that even Vince Russo wouldn’t touch!
So, really, what’s left, Eddie? What’s left if I’m not wrestling for any of those things? I’m honestly not in the best shape on Earth, in fact one could argue I’m in the shape OF the Earth. I’m not a Messiah, I’m not inflicting pain on myself for the sins of others and all kinds of other Biblical mumbo-jumbo? Far as most of the world and my doctors are concerned, I’m already dead in the grand scheme of things.
And since that’s life, friend, might as well get bloody.
(FADEIN to a home gym of some kind, it appears. Various small-scale exercise equipment lies scattered across the floor on top of gym pads. In the middle of this is Eddie Patton, jumping rope at a fairly high rate, much like a boxer, switching his hands back and forth. Beads of sweat drop down his brow. After a few moments he stops and catches his breath, speaking into the mirror.)
PATTON: “Y’know… I can’t rightly say I always understand where a man’s comin’ from. Some men I can understand.
“I can understand how a man can steal a loaf of bread to save his family. I can understand how a man can kill to save himself. I can even understand why a man would wage war to protect peace.
“But I reckon I can’t understand how a man motivates himself to fight, to win, when he can’t even be bothered to care.
“As far as I can see, the only reasons you got for even bein’ in Next Level Wrestlin’ is that you got nothin’ betters to do with yourself.
“So lemme ask ya, Vic… how many dropkicks are you gonna take just ‘cause you can? How many flyin’ forearms?
“I ain’t the biggest or strongest, Vic, we both know that. But me… I got a fire burnin’. I got somethin’ inside me. Somethin’ that makes me strive for everything better. To overcome adversity.
“My pops always told me that the only thing standin’ between me and success is my own dang self. He wasn’t a real educated man, but all’s I know’s is that the man was right.
“If I want something’s in this world, I gotta take it. And between me and those things is you, Vic Gravender. The man who’s thinkin’ we should all be bloodied cause why not.
“Well why not ain’t good enough for me, Vic. Why not ain’t an excuse.
“You say you ain’t got nothin’ to lose, but truthfully, you ain’t got nothing’s to gain, either. You don’t care about glory or legacy… I can’t even rightly tell if you even care’s about winnin’ or losin’.
“Well I care, Mr. Gravender. I care a lot.
“I didn’t call myself electric cause I got a fancy degree in engineerings. I’m just a guy from the middle of this great country who wants to remind the world that we still got the can-do spirit. That we ain’t going down without a fight.
“But if you can’t find nothing’s to keep you going, Vic… no motivation for movin’ forward… for winnin’ this battle.. then I ain’t got much hope for you. Cause when’s we’re both on our backs… and we’res lookin’ up at the bright lights…
“One of us is gonna have a surge runnin’ through their veins… a surge to get up… to push forward… to take another step on this great journey of ours… and the other, well…
“… he just ain’t got nothing’s to lose.
“Who you think is gonna get up first?”
(FADEOUT as he smiles and goes back to jumping rope.)
(FADE-IN SUCKA: "the Watertown Wrecking Ball" Vic Gravender, pacing about the floor in a location unknown. Probably some dingy basement or some sh*t he found one day. Anyhow, the beast's fists are taped and its clear that he's ready to bust somebody's ass. He breathes hot, heavy breath, almost fogging up the lens, taking each step.)
VIC GRAVENDER: “Ah, to be young, dumb and full of... spunk? Take that however you want. I wish I could be absolutely full of pep, vinegar, sugar, spice, and everything nice just like you, Eddie. I really do. As somebody that's traveled these open waters in this funny little sport we call professional wrestling., you get to know people. You get a sense for picking out certain types. Reading up on people, checking out their poker face of the non-fruity Lady GaGa type.
“You call me out on a lot of things. Having a lassiez-faire attitude towards our contest, wanting to be part of NLW because I’m bored. Even taking this match with a grain of salt. Needless to say, Eddie, your expert, in-depth analysis of me was bad. In fact, a plane crash was more on target than your sparkling "I dun mom and pop proud" speech.
“But that's through no fault of your own. You're young. You weigh as much as me when I was twelve and you've got a damn good future ahead of you if the Golden Boy GP was any indication. But you're also impressionable. You assume the best in people and while it’s an admirable trait, it's not a paper I subscribe to. In fact, it sits right next to my sh*tter, rolled up in a paper-like wad.
“But, Eddie, against my better judgment, I’m going to do my part to let you in on a trade secret that I’ve acquired in my time beating the f*ck out of people in dusty-ass wrestling arenas.
“I love our fans, don't get me wrong. But when I'm in that ring, they don't matter. The joy they get in watching me squash somebody into dust doesn't matter. In fact, the guy standing across from me in the ring doesn't matter. To me, you've got a kick-ass upside and outside of work, and I’d probably be one of the first people to buy you a beer.
“But when it comes to my job, I can’t afford to care. Believe me, I want to succeeed, I can’t allow myself to care when it comes to stepping in between the ropes. At the end of the day, I’m gonna shake your hand and thank you for a great match, Eddie, but between bells, you learn that you gotta shut out emotion.
“You can’t worry about entertaining the crowd with how high you can get air off a dropkick, hoping for a cheap pop. You can’t give two squirts of piss about your personal feelings about the guy you’re wrestling. You need to block out the fact that at the end of the day, you and he want the same thing and that he’s trying to take it from you.
“You want to get back in contention for the NLW Openweight Championship, waiting for Impulse or Magnus Destructo on the other side. Despite what you took from my last rebuttal, I want nothing more than to walk out of this match with my hand held high, ready to serve as a warning to anybody else that tries to stake their claim at the championship. Difference between us is we’re going into this match with different plans of attack.
“While you’re concerned about how “eclectricifying” you can be, I’ll be shutting out the emotions and putting up a fight that’s going to make what happened in the Golden Boy GP look like a day at the spa. As you put your pride on the line, putting more pressure on yourself, I’m in total control, ready to attack at a moment’s notice, in full control of the situation.
“Don’t worry, Eddie. These life lessons will come to you eventually. In fact, after this match, you’ll be a little older, you’ll be a little wiser. But if it means that I gotta hurt you to get my point across to anybody else with title aspirations, then I guess I’ll just have to do my part to help a brother out.”
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