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Round 1: Larry Tact vs. Derek Martin

BMorris

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[Fade in: The setting is a barren field -- looks like one on which some farming had been done. The camera pans around the field and finds a lone individual walking in the field. As he comes closer, we see the individual is "Dead End" Derek Martin. He is dressed in blue jeans, a black jacket and a white T-shirt, he has short brown hair, a goatee and a cold stare on his face. He speaks as he walks around in the field.]

DM: This was where it all began for me -- I was just somebody happily working on the farm. I considered wrestling something to do in high school and something I did well. I would have been happy just working here, but somebody just had to approach me and say, "Hey, want to take a shot at professional wrestling?"

[A sneer.]

DM: And so the story begins of how it's possible for somebody who used to be just a friendly guy working on the farm, could turn into somebody who just doesn't give a damn any longer. Time after time, I was made promises, I had words put into my head and I had people who said they would have my back -- and what exactly did it get me?

[Beat.]

DM: I had my share of successes but all I got with that was person after person putting the knife in my back. I had my suspicions that some people were just taking advantage of the fact that I just thought hard work was gonna keep me up at the top -- but I found out otherwise.

I found out just how cutthroat this business can be -- and as promoters kept phoning me, asking me to give it another go, telling me things wold be different, I finally realized something: In order to make it in this business, you've got to be cutthroat yourself.

[A snicker.]

DM: So I told them I'd come back but it would be on my terms -- and I'm not talking about contracts. Money is not the issue. Length of the deal is not the issue. The fine print is not the issue.

No, no... the issue is that I'm around for one reason and one reason only: To see to it that the hopes and dreams of those who oppose me are shattered and to leave them broken and battered.

And so, we come to the Ultratitle tournament -- and no matter how far I go, I promise you that men are going to be broken at my hands.

[He then stops and his cold eyes are focused directly on the camera.]

DM: And that brings me to Larry Tact. I do remember you -- I saw you in the WWL and, honestly, what I saw at the time reminded me of how things were with me when I started -- a promising talent who I'm sure a lot of promoters wanted to talk up and make him believe the world would be his on a silver platter.

I won't claim to be an expert on what you've done since that time, Larry, and I'm not gonna deny that you must be a talented individual -- but the bottom line is, it doesn't matter what you've done or what your talent level is. What matters is you are about to cross paths with somebody who may have been a nice guy at one time, but is now just pissed off at the world in general.

[A slight laugh.]

DM: And I wouldn't have it any other way.

And what that means, Larry, is that I'm not just looking at this at my first step toward the Ultratitle. I'm looking at this as my first chance to hurt somebody.

Physically? Not necessarily, but it would be a nice bonus.

[A snicker.]

DM: Mentally? Now that's what I'm talking about.

Emotionally? Oh, you better believe it.

That's the type of hurt I put on people, Larry. I take whatever aspirations people have, whatever delusions of grandeur they believe in and whatever self-importance they've built up for themselves -- I take it all and shatter it to pieces.

It's what I've done to many before me -- from legends to wannabes, from the long-time veterans to the up-and-comers.

And it's what I intend to do to you.

[A slight, sinister smile.]

DM: So bring your best, Larry -- and then be prepared to face the inevitable.

That's me shattering the world about you and leaving you a broken man.

[Fade out.]
 

Starbreaker

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What ULTRATITLE represents for me.

Disclaimer: The following is brought to you by Tact Enterprises, Inc. (I) We do not own any of the trademarked images, logos, and other copyrighted material shown. All of the above stated are property of their legal owners.

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(A lone, baritone voice sounds out, solemn and thoughtful.)

LARRY TACT: "Wrestling..."

(We open on a shot some meters behind a man. His feet crunch on the gravel of a circular driveway, the sun shining on the countless small pebbles laid down. His destination is a house with a split exterior: the top half, perhaps the second level, consists of white aluminum siding; the lower exterior, or ground level, is constructed of brick. Some steps lead up from the driveway to a double door entrance, framed by two white, cylindrical pillars.)

TACT V/O: "What can a wrestler do for the world?"

(The man, himself, is tall-- somewhere in the range of six-and-a-half feet, maybe more. He wears a black windbreaker, stonewashed blue jeans, a pair of black shoes, and a silver watch. His golden blonde hair, typically falling to between his chin and neck, is tied back. As he reaches the steps, one of the doors opens and three people step outside: a hispanic family of father, mother, and teenage son, dressed casually.)

TACT V/O: "Are we leeches of society, selfishly indulging ourselves at the expense of others, with no benefit?"

(As we near and the man ascends the steps, closer inspection reveals the son wearing a blue t-shirt along with his black jeans. Zooming in on the shirt, we see a worn image of Larry Tact, sporting a crew cut and wearing long tights with lightning bolts on them. He is seemingly about to tie-up with another wrestler, and more lightning surrounds them. Above this image is the word "SHOWTIME.")

TACT V/O: "Are we responsible for serving a greater purpose to society, outside of the ring?"

(Zooming out, the man greets the father with a handshake and a couple claps on the shoulder. He gives the mother a kiss on the cheek, and a smile, which she returns as she speaks. The man turns to the son, and points at the shirt and commenting to the parents, who nod. The man reaches out and ruffles the teen's curly black hair, causing the kid to swat away the hand. Instead, they exchange a unique handshake. The man nods approvingly, and speaks in the same baritone voice.)

"We'll grab lunch, then beat it to the gym before they start, so you can see how everything works. You ready, Daunte?"

(The teen nods.)

DAUNTE: "Dude, I feel like I've been waiting forever, of COURSE I'm ready! And, ah, you know... thanks for coming by. This is gonna rule!"

TACT: "Count on it. We're going to teach you about every inch of the ring today, kid."

DAUNTE: "Yeah, then I'm gonna get in there and make YOU tap!"

TACT: (laughs) "You want to bet on that?"

(As the two continue to banter, they all turn to head inside and, as they do, we catch sight of the back of the teenager's t-shirt. It reads: "YOU WILL BE TACTILIZED!")

TACT V/O: "What is our legacy?"

FADE OUT.


FADE IN.

(CUE UP: "Infection" by Onitsuka Chihiro.)


(FADE TO: Larry Tact and Daunte heading into a complex, with the sign over the entrance reading, "RingRats Academy."

FADE TO: Daunte watching, intently, as wrestlers lay down planks and setup posts; and screw together pieces.

FADE TO: Canvas being stretched out and laid over a base and secured.

FADE TO: Larry Tact helps Daunte to secure rope to a turnbuckle. Daunte wipes his forehead, clearly strained and breathing hard, but determined and smiling the whole time until they finally accomplish the task.

FADE TO: the wrestlers shaking hands with Daunte, as he and Tact admire the completed wrestling ring.

FADE TO: Daunte watching Tact in the ring. There are several shots of Tact wrestling with a few of the academy's trainees, finishing with a shot of one of them tapping out to the Tactful Surrender. Daunte cheers at seeing the submission locked on, with its desired effect.

FADE TO: Daunte with his parents, outside of RingRats Academy. As they begin walking away and wave goodbye to Tact, who stands at the doorway, Daunte runs to him and gives him a quick hug, they do their handshake, then he runs back to his parents, still excited.

Although he is smiling as he watches the family go, Tact's expression looks conflicted, with a tinge of melancholy. He heads back into the building.)


FADE OUT.


FADE IN.

(Larry Tact sits on the apron of the ring.)

LARRY TACT: "When I was young, my parents never took me to wrestling events. They didn't embrace it, the way my brother and I did. We would sneak upstairs to watch wrestling, while dinner was made; find a way to get to the mall for an autograph signing; save up from our summer jobs to make the live events. It was completely worth it, the sneaking around and scrounging to save up."

"I remember telling my parents I had gone to wrestling school and was being booked at events. I thought they would tear me apart, and ban me from going back to school without some kind of constant surveillance. Instead, they actually warmed up to it. My determination, my passion... it seemed to win them over a little. And bit by bit, I made my way into the industry."

"Nowadays, it seems like wrestling isn't as polarizing, but it's still not mainstream, either. The subculture is more diverse, we have a lot of styles and personalities. In some ways, it makes finding your niche, and carving out your own career, that much more difficult. But if you want it badly enough, you'll find a way."

"I'm a veteran now. I've heard so many criticisms of the industry, and even of myself. Even though I've taken time to carve out not only a wrestling career, but some business ventures to keep me steady, there are still people close to me who shake their head at what I do. They disrespect what I love, what I have worked tirelessly at for my entire adult life, and even before then."

"But I deal with it, because there's no critcism that can weather away one simple truth... the only one you really need to have, in your heart, to keep going."

"I love being a wrestler."

(He reaches up and takes hold of the ropes with his hands.)

"Daunte's father was a mentor of mine. He had a hand in helping me build up, in myself, some of what it takes to survive in this industry. But in my opinion, Daunte is braver than all of us. See, he fights a battle everyday of his life, because Sickle Cell Anemia does not give you a rest. It's not something you can talk yourself up about, meet in the ring at a designated time, and beat. It's just there, every waking moment, and every second of rest. It's not something he can beat with a chair, or wear down systematically, because it exists inside of him. It systematically, mercilessly, wears him down."

"Today was a good day. It was a great day, for me, getting to hang out and give him a piece of the business. I don't know if you saw, but Daunte has the first t-shirt they made of me when I broke into the pro circuit. "Showtime" Larry Tact, that's what they started out billing me as. I was brash and ignorant, but I was good, too. I got by more on talent than skill; more on charisma than experience. And I learned. I learned as much as I could, and continue to this day. When you think you don't have anything more to learn, you need to reconsider what it is you're doing."

(He pulls himself up by the ropes, standing on the apron. The shot adjusts so we can still see him from the front, mostly.)

"And even with all I've learned, Daunte teaches me something new every time I get to see him. He won't ever be able to be a wrestler, like his dad. He probably won't even be able to help put a ring together, on his own power. And still, he has as much passion for wrestling as a lot-- a lot-- of guys I see step through the ropes, and try to make a career in between these four corners."

"Daunte absorbs wrestling like a sponge. And he doesn't discriminate, either. He's gone through dozens upon dozens of puroresu videos I've given. Although he seems to be hooked on Japan, in general... (chuckles) he's a big fan of Onitsuka Chihiro... relates to a lot of her music. He's one diverse kid, and would make a hell of a wrestler."

(He slaps a turnbuckle, resting his hand on it.)

"Which brings me to a place where diversity reigns... all different styles, all different people comning together to challenge each other for supremacy. ULTRATITLE."

"What does ULTRATITLE mean? Is it a stamp on someone's legacy... a testament to the lengths people will go to win... the end-all-be-all of titles?"

"My first round opponent is "Dead End" Derek Martin, and it seems like he's got plenty of history of his own with the type of people this industry seems to harvest without fail..."

"People who will stab you in the back if it means elevating themselves."

"People who won't cease to surprise you in how low they will stoop to get what they want."

"Promoters who will jet out the back door to save on payouts, then blame the wrestlers in the dirtsheets, so they can live to run another event."

"Derek, I've heard the stories, and I've colleceted some of my own to tell. I can see your points, but I don't agree that it has to be that way."

"You don't need to be cutthroat to get where you want to be. But you do need to keep your head. I've gone through that period of knowing, just knowing you were going to be screwed. Might as well screw the other person first, right? Only thing is, it isn't one way or the other in this industry."

"If you need something that's certain, and you can believe in... it's that your work doesn't go unnoticed by the people watching. Whether they like you or not is irrelevant, Derek. They see you, and if you work hard, regardless if you get screwed or not, they'll acknowledge it. They may not like you, but more often than not they'll have to respect your work."

(He steps through the ropes and leans his back against them.)

"And sometimes, after a lot of effort, and if you really are passionate about wrestling... when you step back into the ring again, some of those people will even start to like what you do. It can even catch on, to the point where they'll start cheering you. And eventually... you might win them all over."

(Raises his hand momentarily.)

"I can attest to that. Or, hell, check out Empire Pro Wrestling, and ask 'Triple X' Sean Stevens."

(He comes towards us and leans forward on the ropes, shrugging.)

"I don't expect you to change your opinions based on what I say. I'm not in the business of changing people's minds. I'm a wrestler, and I'll be there to give you a match to remember, even in this opening round. You can chalk that up in the 'Things You Can Believe In' column, too. Because I don't come to play; I'm here to win."

"Unlike a lot of the people in this tournament, though... I'm not here for myself, Derek. See, I'm not sure anyone can really say how far anyone can make it, when you're talking about this ULTRATITLE. 128 participants? It's simply a crap shoot to predict. And I'm not wasting my time and energy on figuring out where my chances lie."

"Instead, I'm here to represent. I've already established myself, cut out a place I can be. But as the EPW Television Champion, and the only EPW Champion in ULTRATITLE, I am going to represent the promotion. Not because I'm a shill, or because of anything to do with Dan Ryan. If he really wanted the publicity, he could do it on his time, and he knows that's what I'd tell him to his face."

"I choose to represent the Empire, though, because it's simply been the home for my wrestling to fluorish. It's been where I've been able to exercise my passion and my desire to compete. I'm not indulging myself at the expense of others. In fact, people actually do like me, and what I do in the ring, so I try my best for them."

"And before you start calling it cliché... the truth is, I don't think there's really enough of us who really do do it for the passion, and the people, anymore. In this era, that's almost frowned upon by our peers, which is a little disappointing. Then again, I've never been one to just tow the line, and maintain the standard. I set standards."

"In this first round, Derek... I'm going to show you the vulnerabilities of inevitabilities. I'll show you just how fragile that line of thinking can be."

"When you see a kid with a disease that, at one time, had the 'inevitable' prognosis of a shortened lifespan... and now, that's anything but set in stone... it makes you open your mind to what's really in our control. The most passionate of fighters can break limits that others try to set on them."

"I've heard my doom in the ring stated to me before, Derek. And I've left a path of humbled foes in my wake."

"I've been extremely fortunate because my infection... is my love for wrestling."

"It's relentless and incurable."


FADE OUT.
 

BMorris

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Re: What ULTRATITLE represents for me.

[Fade in: We find "Dead End" Derek Martin seated on a couch -- one would presume that this is Martin's house we are at. Martin wears a black T-shirt with a yellow "DEAD END" sign on it and faded jeans. A scowl is formed on his goateed face.]

DM: So many people in this world have their hopes, dreams and aspirations that one day they might make something of themselves. Yet, day after day, people watch as those hopes, dreams and aspirations before them fall apart right before their very eyes -- sometimes from circumstances they could have been able to control, but often, from circumstances they had no control over, because somebody else was pulling the strings.

[Beat.]

DM: Now, don't get me wrong -- it's always nice to see somebody go out of their way to give a little inspiration to a young kid who has a condition that truly impacts their life and lifestyle -- just as Larry Tact is doing for that young kid named Daunte -- but there's a lot of responsibility that comes with being an inspiration to somebody else.

Such as -- what do you tell the person who gets inspiration from you -- and who you may even get inspiration from -- when you are confronted with disappointment? With heartbreak? With adversity?

[And then, Martin develops a sinister grin on his face.]

DM: Or with somebody who just wants to hurt you?

Answer me that, Larry Tact -- what will you tell Daunte when you step into the ring with somebody who is just out to hurt you -- somebody like me, who is not only out to hurt you, but anyone else who he happens to face in the Ultratitle tournament?

What are you gonna say to Daunte when I tell the world that my purpose is to send any aspirations of you winning the Ultratitle to never be realized?

What do you tell him when I'm in that ring, doing whatever it takes to break you not just physically, but mentally and spiritually?

What, Larry Tact, will you tell Daunte when you have to explain to him how you were left a broken man at the hands of "Dead End" Derek Martin?

[A snicker.]

DM: See, Larry, as much as I might get a little touched by what you do for Daunte, and by what Daunte does for you, it ultimately doesn't matter when you step into that ring with me. Because any hint of sympathy I might feel for Daunte now, just isn't going to be felt when the bell rings and I am allowed to do what I do best.

Break people.

[Another snicker, but then Martin's face grows cold and that smile vanishes, replaced again by a scowl.]

DM: Now, if you think I became cutthroat simply because the business can be that way, it wasn't just that. I became cutthroat because I found that was the way that I could truly enjoy myself in this business and make promoters think twice before they pulled their stunts.

But don't mistake that becoming cutthroat means I lost my head. Just ask anyone who has faced me in that ring -- you may not know these people that well, but they would tell you that I have never lost my head when I set to take somebody down.

Because, Larry, losing your head means you lose focus -- and believe me, I never lose focus. I don't lose sight of what my objectives are when I step into the ring with anybody.

I didn't lose focus when I battered a legend of the UWF, right in front of his own wife, and left him bleeding -- and every time he battled back, I just bloodied him up again. Some might say I'm the one who forced him into retirement.

I didn't lose focus when another legend in UWF declared I wasn't good enough to take his spot in a stable he was once part of. In the end, I proved otherwise and it all went downhill for that guy from there. Hell, I'll admit he got the jump on me first and he still got beaten down at my hands.

I didn't lose focus when they threw me against a 400-pound Samoan who loved to talk himself up -- I broke his arm, broke his pride, took a title belt from him and it went downhill for the big man from there.

Those are the things I've done to other men -- and it's just the tip of the iceberg.

And as much as you may not approve of my methods, one thing remained a constant -- I stayed focused on my objectives until they were accomplished.

So you better not be confusing being cutthroat with not keeping a level head.

[A pause, then Martin again gets that sinister smile.]

DM: But you may want to start thinking about how you are gonna explain those things I've done to Daunte.

Or better yet -- start thinking about how you are going to explain to Daunte how you couldn't get the job done when you faced "Dead End" Derek Martin.

Believe me, Larry, for all you talk about your love for wrestling and how much that little kid inspires you -- you'll find it's not gonna be enough when you face the man who just loves to beat people down, and will certainly love to crush your hopes of taking that first step to the Ultratitle everyone craves.

And the next time you visit with Daunte, you'll only have one thing to discuss with him.

[The sinister smile again vanishes as Derek's face is cold and serious.]

DM: How I beat your ass and ended your dreams of the Ultratitle.

[Fade out.]
 

Starbreaker

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Responsibility.

Disclaimer: The following is brought to you by Tact Enterprises, Inc. Trademarked images, logos, and other copyrighted material shown are property of their legal owners.

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(The camera turns on in a somewhat haphazard manner, facing the floor, then moving around all over the place for a bit. As it steadies, we appear to be inside of an airport. The sign at the nearest gate indicates a New York to Chicago flight. Larry Tact is standing by a row of seats near the gate, a duffel bag at his feet. He is not alone, as a few fans seemed to have spotted him. He autographs slips of paper for them when another couple people approach. Someone has their t-shirt autographed as some more people gather around. A woman dressed in business attire comes into view with coffees in the four-cup holders. She hands one to Tact and begins to break up the crowd, but Tact halts her and puts the coffee down, continuing to sign away. From behind a camera, a whimsical voice sounds out; that of Tact's brother, 'the Enigma' Fanatic.)

FANATIC: "Responsibilities of a man daring to take a flight to a show with the fans ..."

(The overhead speakers turn on.)

AIRLINE STAFFER: "Attention passengers on JetBlue Flight 917, New York to Chicago..."

(A few of the fans waiting, apparently flying on their own, give signs of exasperation and go to collect their bags to board.)

"... Due to some inclement weather, our inbound flight is circling and there will be a slight delay. We anticipate take-off to be pushed back only about 30 minutes or so. We apologize for any inconvenience, and appreciate your patience."

(The fans who went off drop their bags and rush back to the group surrounding Tact, assures them he isn't going anywhere as he chats a couple people up while signing. Then he looks up to the small crowd that's formed, leaving a decent portion of the seats around the gate unoccupied, or occupied by parents of the younger fans on luggage watch.)

TACT: "I take it you guys and gals may be going to see Aggression 66?"

(A consensus of nods and a few shouts of "YES!")

TACT: "Well, this flight's delayed and I think I'm all out of time to talk to Teddy Alexander, so... anyone want to hear a couple stories from the road?"

(Many "YES!" responses. Tact looks towards the camera and gives a small shrug.)

TACT: "Save it for later."

FADE OUT.


(We come back to a living room inside one of the James Chicago's penthouse suites. There is an L-shaped plush sectional sofa across from a 42" flat-screen TV inside one wall, framed by polished wooden panels; a glass table in front of the sofa, end table next to it; and the other, white-painted walls have triple windows showing a view of the Chicago night skyline.

Larry Tact sits on the sofa holding a glass with an adult beverage in one hand, and scoops some trail mix from the bowl on the glass table. Off-camera, the calm, mystic voice of 'the Enigma' speaks first.)


FANATIC: "That was a very fan-friendly day, was it not?"

TACT: "It isn't always that way, just to be clear. Almost all wrestlers are not rock stars. And that being the case, I'm not one to complain about fans wanting a story to tell their friends, and having a personal touch added to their swag, if they brought something with them for the show. And if that was any indication, it's nice to know there'll be another hot crowd for Aggression."

FANATIC: "Indeed ... and it seems Derek Martin feels having the responsibility of fans expectations could prove to be ... a negative."

TACT: "Derek Martin is also interested in what I'll be planning on telling people if I lose. He wants to make sure that I don't think he's out of focus... and that I'm not under the impression that he's going to let any sympathetic feelings he has keep him from unleashing brutality and violence upon me... oh, and that I should be aware not to mistake his being cutthroat with losing his head. Because the business isn't why he's cutthroat... he just likes it that way."

FANATIC: "Yes ... and he additionally cited several anecdotal evidences of his history of aggressions ..."

TACT: "Can't forget those. And I don't intend on it. But the best thing Derek did... is simply stopped talking. Because it's pretty clear that he has a disconnect between his thoughts, and his speech. For all I know, it's an impediment of his own."

FANATIC: "More than likely, I would say he may possess an issue of anger management ..."

TACT: "Maybe so, but that gets into a whole different set of questions. Let's just say, while Derek was talking about his past, and what he intends on doing to me in this opening round, it sounded an awful lot like he was trying to do some convincing. And it raises the question..."

"Derek, who were you trying to convince with all that talk? Me, the fans, yourself, or all of the above?"

(He takes a moment to pop some of the trail mix from his hand.)

"If it was me you were trying to convince, you just wasted your time and breath. I already said I'm not in the business of changing people's minds. My name isn't Dale Carnegie, Anthony Robbins, or Rhonda Byrne; and if I wanted to do that, I could set up a motivational and public speaking engagement."

"Now, the insinuation you seem to have missed in my words, was: And you aren't, either. Last I checked, we weren't booked meet in the Church of Ultratitle; Ultratitle Temple; Mosque Ultratitle... you get the idea? Anyone who wants to talk about how tough they can be, how strong they can be, how many people voted them Most Likely To Injure Someone, or even that they are the "Best Wrestler In The World"... it's all different versions of the same pants-dropping epidemic that's raged on in wrestling for years."

"Call me crazy, Derek, but I'm perfectly fine deciding who the 'bigger' man is through wrestling the damn match. Novel concept, I know."

(He takes a drink from his glass and places it on the table, scooping up some more snackage from the bowl.)

"If you were trying to convince the fans of how big and bad you were, well, that's something they'll have to decide for themselves. But I know, as a fan, I enjoy watching the wrestling that goes on in the ring more than the people trying to prove how tough they are by injuring the stars everyone wants to see. There's little skill to that; anyone can break another person's arm. I could pull two people off the street, put them in the ring, and they'd probably do worse than break an arm. Because they lack experience and skill. Is that the message you want to send about yourself to the world watching, Derek?"

"And anyway, I've heard of more impressive stunts than what you described at Coney Island."

(Tact crosses a leg over his knee, and takes some more trail mix. Down the hatch.)

"I'm sure I don't look Super Intimidating and all that, right now, eating hotel freebies and sitting in a penthouse suite, do I? I'm not known as a headhunter, or a guy who needs to hurt people to get ahead, either. Despite that, I've gained a lot of respect and admiration over the course of my career. Fans and peers find themselves able to root for me and take me as a serious threat, respectively. And I didn't need to break a single person's bones to get where I am."

"That's what I meant when I said you don't need to be cutthroat to be accomplished in this industry, Derek. It wasn't a statement to whether you had your head in the game. I would hope you have yourself focused if you intend to participate in this Ultratitle tournament. Otherwise, what are you doing here?"

"What surprised me is that you seem to take the idea of responsibility as some sort of burden. For me, it's just the opposite. It's a challenge. And as far as giving the fans someone to put their support in? That responsibility is a privilege. I've had responsibilities to uphold since I decided to start down this path I'm on. I didn't have anyone giving me money for wrestling school; no one to help me feel less pain from the training. There wasn't anyone suggesting that I just 'give it a try.' This is something I wanted in my life. I took responsibility over my career, and I made it on my own merits. I've taken responsibility for my actions, good and bad; because SHOCKER... I'm not perfect. Not the strongest, the biggest bad-ass, the worst offender, or the smoothest operator."

"And as far as I can tell, only one person takes the title for each of those. So there are a lot of legends of this sport who don't possess the best of those qualities. They're still legends."

"It's much the same with this tournament. There's a horde of people out there wanting to deem the Ultratitle theirs, what they need, their one 'true' goal, and it goes on and on. It's all nice fluff, but we're in the opening round of a 128-competitor tournament. The Nintendo Store in New York also wouldn't let me rent out psychic Pokemon to predict my next opponent. So, I'm focused on the match and opponent at hand, who I know I'll be wrestling."

"And when it comes to that... wrestling... what we're all in this tournament to do? I can beat anyone, on any given night, despite how many people they've hospitalized, or wives they've traumatized."

(He uncrosses his leg and rests his forearms on his knees, olive-green eyes glinting.)

"If you tuned into EPW TV, Derek, you'd see there's all kinds and styles there. There are people who come through from other circuits and promotions, too. Sometimes they think that, because they did it all somewhere else, they can replicate that in EPW. They look beyond their debut to the titles they'll be in line for, soon enough."

"Then they lose their first match, and they don't understand what hit them. How did it all go wrong?! Sometimes they stick around, other times they'll leave outright. But the ones who know they have to work for it, and put in the time-- they usually come up with some of the best matches you'd be privileged to see."

(He takes up the glass from the table, has a drink, then replaces it..)

"You've been fantasizing all week on how badly you'll be hurting me in this match. What you seem to be overlooking is that I didn't sign up under, 'Punching Bag,' however badly you may want it to be. Which makes me wonder if you're trying to convince yourself that I'm going to simply fold like an accordion, so you can get to the part where you have carte blanche of brutality."

"I won't be real sorry to burst your bubble on that one, Derek. But you? You may be sorry you entered this tournament, by the end of our match. Because the line of thought you seem to be treading has lead many to a common 'dead end' of their own..."

"A humbling, Tactful Surrender."

(He smirks.)

"And, Derek? I take full... responsibility... for each and every one."

FADE OUT.
 

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