A sun-filled room in South Texas. The morning sun is shining through a large wood-paned window, overlooking a gently flowing stream. Inside, in a wrought-iron old styled hospital bed is a large gray bearded man.
The man is... well, large - thickly muscled, at least six-foot seven or so, perhaps three hundred pound-ish. The beard is long, perhaps three feet long itself and.... well, let's be honest.. it looks fake, like maybe glued on.
A 'nurse' walks in who looks suspiciously like Alaina Troy-Ryan and appears to look over our patient. She checks his wrist and counts a pulse. She then places her palm on his forehead and is startled when his eyes flutter open and he looks up at her, confused.
Patient: "Nurse... nurse, where am I??"
Nurse: "You're in the hospital. You've been very very ill."
The patient tries to jump up but the nurse holds him back slightly.
Patient: "Nurse!! I.... I had a match for TEAM against Larry Tact. I... haven't missed it, have I?? Tell me I haven't missed it! What's been going on in the wrestling world since I've been out???"
Nurse: "Well... Cameron Cruise is the A1E World Champion and now leads a faction that is taking over Empire Pro one opponent and one title at a time..."
Nurse: "WFW and New ERA have ressurected and combined into a giant mega federation HELLBENT ON WORLD DOMINATION!!!"
Patient:(looking off into the distance, concerned) "Just like episode 27 of Voltron......"
Nurse: "Joe the Plumber is running wild in NFW... and the world is overrun BY DAMNED DIRTY APES!!!!!"
Patient: "Nurse..." (Looking at his long gray 'beard', the patient grabs the nurse's lapel and pulls her close) "...what year is this?"
Nurse:(confused) "It's 2009, Dan."
Patient: "But.... but those horrible things you just mentioned. How can they possibly exist in any SANE world?? How can these things be when only six months ago by my estimation... such things were unimaginable."
Nurse: "Dan, it's only been a couple months."
Patient: "A COUPLE MONTHS?? NURSE, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?!?!"
Nurse: "No, what?"
Patient: "It means the wrestling world has gone mad, that's what it means!! It's just like that twilight episode where everyone else looks like a pig, but I'm beautiful, yet they think I'm the one that needs fixing!"
Nurse: "Did you just call yourself beautiful??"
The patient pulls his beard down and whispers... "Just play along, would ya?" .... and the nurse shrugs...
Patient: "It means I still have to face Larry Tact in the midst of this turmoil. It means the wrestling world has lost its way without me. It means I must set things right."
Nurse: "Right the wrongs!"
Patient: "Avenge injustice!!"
Nurse: "Retire the elderly!!"
Patient: "That's right. I'm lookin' at you, Doc Silver."
"And above all else, remind everyone that a world without Dan Ryan has become a world without true greatness, true excellence and as the world of professional wrestling loses it's true greats we are forced to succumb to the mind numbing mediocrity of people like Larry Tact..... UNLESS.... someone does something about it."
"And so, despite lying here in convalescence, sleeping the months away while waiting for my next match - I can still rise up, step forward and with a smirk on my face and a gleam in my eye take my rightful place on top of this industry."
"I know you don't care. I know you don't care not only about what I'm saying but apparently, about our match as well. Someone who takes a match like this so lightly doesn't deserve to move any farther. And wouldn't you know it? As luck would have it, you don't have to."
"I'm happy to end your participation."
"So spend your NEXT three weeks of non-promo time considering Anthology's next move, because as far as this tournament goes your next move is straight down on your neck, with a snap, crackle and pop and a trip to the medic."
"And I know you won't have time to do anything about any of this.."
"After all, while watching this... I'm sure you've been consoling Cammy every since I made the crack on him a few minutes back. Good luck spending the rest of your career massaging THAT ego."
FADE IN: on a caption set, center-screen, reading:July 3, 2009. This fades into a rooftop scene, a pool in the background, surrounded by brick-laid patio, and party decor setup all around. A lone man sits back on a patio chair, facing us; his back to the pool, dressed in khaki shorts and a ribbed pine-green shirt. His blonde hair is tied back, not hiding his olive green eyes, or the smug expression on his face.
LARRY TACT: "Validation. Fame. Glory. Respect. Riches."
"These are all things people relate to a match with Dan Ryan. If you are able to defeat this man, you may be looked at in a whole different way. If you feel that you've been under a glass ceiling, this may be your chance to finally break through. A victory over Dan Ryan may propel you to a level you've never seen before. Promoters may come flocking to you; new opportunities may open. And if you play your cards right, you may be on your way to gaining all those things I first mentioned."
"But what about for the man who doesn't need Dan Ryan for those things? What about the man who is, literally, just trying to use him to advance one more round? What lies in store for that man?"
"Hang on, everyone. We're going to find out, because this is it. We're almost upon the time of Dan Ryan and Larry Tact, facing off in the Regional Finals. And I think I've made it relatively clear throughout this tournament... that I'm not here just for a match with Dan Ryan."
"I'm simply facing Dan Ryan so I can advance out of the West Region, and further towards the TEAM Invitational Finals."
He pauses for a moment.
"Dan, there's no doubt; you're one of the greatest in-ring competitors anyone's ever seen. You're as decorated as they come, and have stood in the ring with the elite. You've run the gamut of promotions in the wrestling industry, and there's no one who can take away from the run you've had."
"On top of all your in-ring accomplishments, you put together a fine promotion, in EPW. Your business savvy has been almost flawless, to the point where you even had A1E in the palm of your hand, for a time. Granted, all that's now in other hands, but...(chuckles)... I think you know who to call, if you wanted or needed to."
"I could even thank you for putting the talent in place, that would eventually form one of the greatest forces known to wrestling, in the Anthology."
"I could... but that isn't the point of listing things you've heard a thousand times."
"The point is... I'm well aware of who you are. And you're aware enough of who I am, given I'm in EPW."
He leans forward a bit, sitting on the edge of the seat.
"We both know what it feels like to win big matches, and to lose them, too. Wrestling doesn't have secrets we haven't uncovered yet. We're familiar with how to play the game, and we know the way we like to operate. This is veteran facing veteran... and neither one of us is going to let up."
"But while you're looking for one more trip to the Finals, and one more win... I'm still hungry to meet that challenge for the first time. And don't bull(BLEEP) us all, Dan. When you've yet to meet a challenge you've set your sights on, there's just something... more... driving you."
"The first time is always sweetest."
He gets up from the chair and walks out of the camera's view. A few seconds later... FADE OUT.
The screen then shows,July 4, 2009. FADE IN: on the same location, but with a party in full swing. Music sounds out into the air, people hanging out in the pool, and dancing out of it. The camera is moves along, occasionally we see people waving, and a female voice asks the guests how they're doing, from off camera. Eventually, we come out of the general pack of the party, and down to the balcony, where we find Larry Tact, wearing a pair of blue Alfani jeans and a black Nautica shirt. He leans over the balcony railing, a cocktail in hand, looking at the Manhattan skyline. Glancing back momentarily, he sees the camera approaching.
LARRY TACT: "Ever the intrepid filmographer, Cin?"
The voice of Tact's longtime girlfriend, Cindy Winsted, can be heard from off camera.
CINDY WINSTED: "What are you doing out here? It's not very host-like to step away from the party for too long. Let's get back to our adoring guests!"
LT: "I just need a little time to think..."
After a few moments, the camera is set down, and we see Cindy appear and nuzzle up to Tact, wrapping her arms around one of his. She has on a curve-hugging purple string tanktop and black miniskirt, showing off her long legs, with her brown hair tied up.
CW: "You, needing time away from one of our parties? Sounds pretty serious..."
LT: "Yeah, well... I can't go all-out tonight. You know how it is."
CW: "I know, sweetie. Do you think you're ready for the TEAM Regionals?"
LT: "Yeah, I'm ready."
CW: "It's a big match for you. If you win, you'll be in the Final Four. Not to mention... I mean, beating Dan Ryan is pretty big."
There's a pause, and she rubs his back.
LT: "Babe, you know I won't take Dan Ryan lightly, but that isn't my reason for doing this."
CW: "Of course. But you've been taking time to prepare for this match virtually since the moment he advanced."
LT: "Yeah, I've taken some time every day. The thing is... it isn't Dan Ryan I'm worried about... not so much as myself."
CW: "Sweetie, you've always given it your all. I've seen that, myself, for years!"
He wraps an arm around her waist.
LT: "That's true... but it's just that... I may be one of a very few people who doesn't see Dan Ryan on this pedestal. It's strange, watching other people going back-and-forth with him, before a match... and just acting differently than they usually would. It's like something's... missing from them... like something gets stripped away, when they see they're facing Dan Ryan."
CW: "But what? What's missing?"
Tact doesn't say anything for a few moments.
LT: "Confidence, I guess. When you go up against Dan Ryan, you aren't able to hide anything. Any titles you've won... anything you've done before... it's basically meaningless to talk yourself up about. People I've spoken with, who have faced Ryan, tell me they were amazed by his ability. They thought he was stronger, or faster, than they realized. Or they never expected he'd kickout of their most reliable move... reach the ropes when they had him in their most practiced submission."
CW: "Well, no offense, honey... but Dan Ryan IS the most accomplished wrestler around today, isn't he?"
LT: "None taken... and yeah, you're right. That's kind of what I don't understand. All these people go into their matches knowing they're facing an accomplished wrestler... one of the best. But they talk themselves up like they're going to beat him senseless. They think, somehow, THEY have the move or technique that's going to make the match easier for them. I've seen guys who I've been in promotions with, set to face Dan Ryan... and it's like they change themselves. They either try to act like they're on level with him, or that they're ABOVE him. The truth is, for anyone facing him, it's a battle against yourself, as much as against him. You can't think you'll put him away easily. It's just not possible."
CW: "I guess they need to get their egoes boosted before they face someone his caliber?"
LT: "Yeah... I guess. Maybe the whole 'Ego Buster' thing has something to it, huh?"
CW: "What's important is, you don't forget who YOU are. You got to this point by trusting yourself, and the people who know you believe in the way you've succeeded. There's no reason to change that, just trust yourself. Trust your routine. Which, might I add, would normally include an annual Fourth of July party...."
He looks at her, gives a lopsided grin, and kisses her lightly. They pick up the camera and we see a shot of the Manhattan skyline, as fireworks begin going off in the distance. FADE OUT.
A caption reading,July 5, 2009. FADE IN: on Larry Tact, sitting at a table of the world-reknowned Blue Note jazz club. Currently on stage is HIROMI, a female artist who plays piano and keyboards with her tunes, accompanied by bass, guitar, and drums from her backup. As they play, the camera turns towards Tact, who has on a Kenneth Cole ensemble: tan button-down shirt, stonewashed blue jeans, and black shoes. His golden blonde locks are tied back, and he looks relaxed with a glass of wine and a finished plate of food.
LT: "Sometimes we act differently without realizing it, but it's important not to stray from what works. I've been concentrating on preparing for my match with Dan Ryan for some time, now, and I've been careful to keep to what I do, and not what others want me to do. I never expected any defining moment, where I figured out a fatal flaw in his technique. Actually, Dan's pretty straightforward, as far as that goes. He does his thing, and he does it well. He comes to the ring, ready to overwhelm and punish his opponents, and generally finds people who just aren't able to keep their heads on. Whether it's because they actually are overwhelmed by him, or just let the name and notoriety of Dan get into their heads? Who knows. Either way, the result is the same."
He takes the wine glass in hand, gently swirling its contents.
LT: "Frankly, Dan... it'd be a pain in the neck to look up to you all the time."
He takes a sip from the glass, savoring it, then nods, grinning.
"And while I know you live up to your hype, as much as anyone could... at some point, I'd think you'd have to watch out not to buy into it all. Especially when you're facing someone who can meticulously... tactically... take advantage of overconfidence of that sort."
He sets the glass back on the table.
"You see, it's not that I won't acknowledge what you've done. I've gone and done that. The truth is, though, you aren't wrestling me with your trophies and titles wrapped around you for protection. People see their name next to yours on a card, and they immediately begin thinking of what has gotten you all the notoriety."
"I look at you, Dan... and I see the man who stands in my way of getting to this tournament's Final Four."
"That means I'm facing someone who's on their game, to have reached this far. And I'm facing someone who can finish me off, just like I can them, in the matter of one good chance. At this stage of the tournament, it's really just as simple as that. You've got to be ready to face people at their best."
"Just like I am."
"This is going to be Federer-Roddick, in the ring. On the one side, you've got the pinnacle of our sport; the one by which all others are measured. He's amassed the most titles, he's got nothing more he needs to prove, and it allows him to play where he pleases, at his leisure."
"On the other side, you've got a man who has had success. He's certainly one of the best in the sport, and has won 'Big Ones' in the past. At the moment, he's looking to breakthrough to a new height, meet a new challenge in his sport. He's got all the ability necessary, all the tools required."
"The match is going to be grueling. Momentum is going to swing one way, then the other, then back again... on and on. Both men will be put to the test... both will be worn down."
"And the result?"
"Nobody will know, for sure, until the very end."
He clasps his hands together on the table.
"Not for nothing, but 'Cammy' can take care of his own ego. And if you've been as ignorant as everyone else... not realizing Anthology for the force it is, and not needing each other as crutches... then, Dan, you surely aren't taking me as seriously, either."
"I'm sorry you can't speak for yourself on this match; that you need me to show you I'm paying attention, before you'll actually say something worth listening to. Just the same, I'm obligated to listen... but you should know that I'm not going to break out the band because, holy crap! Dan Ryan speaks!"
"You can criticize me for taking my time, and it's not any different than all those in the past, who criticized me for appearing too often. Ironic, that bit..."
"To each his own, though. I've matured since those days of the past. For instance, had we faced years ago, maybe I'd be like the Jonathan Marx's of the world... just being satsified to get to this point. Satisfied to be facing Dan Ryan, and all that means. Maybe I'd be talking like mad, trying to be the gutsy underdog."
"By now, though, you face me as a veteran. It isn't about beating Dan Ryan. It's about earning the opportunity to continue wrestling in this tournament."
"It isn't about breaking through any glass ceiling. It's about having the opportunity to challenge myself further, against three others who are wrestling at the top of their games."
"Maybe that's not something that impresses you, Dan."
"Well, maybe I'll try squeezing a tear out over it once our match is done."
"But in the ring, there's no chance I won't have. And Dan, with all you've done, in the ring and out of it... through titles won and companies invaded... you know how wrestling can throw even the greatest their curves."
"So when the great Dan Ryan falls to Larry Tact, this round, I don't even care if you acknowledge it or not. Just take it in stride, humbly and quietly, as I move on to the Final Four."
"Because whether you think I'm paying attention or not, have a shot or not... one thing you should know well in wrestling, even from some of your own endeavors..."
A long wooden back porch, about 12’ X 60’ or so extends to either side of a set of patio furniture. Off the front end of the porch extends a valley as far as the eye can see, clear to the horizon. Trees and brush dot the rocky landscape, the vegetation a yellowish color from the lack of rain. On a faux-leather backed chair is ‘The Ego Buster’ Dan Ryan, wearing long track pants and a short sleeved ‘Houston Texans’ t-shirt. Being mid-afternoon the heat is touching triple digits, but a steady breeze keeps the temperature under the porch awning bearable. Ryan peers off into the distance through dark sunglasses, a bottle of water on the nearby table.
Ryan: “So Larry Tact, aren’t we the ambitious sort?”
“It almost seems as though you were making up for a week of silence by cutting three promos at once, splicing them together and then pretending it’s one big epic production. God knows I love a good epic production, Lar’. And heaven forbid if I don’t get to hear what you think of me, what you think of what I’ve done, what you think someone should do to prepare against me, what you think the mistakes other people have made against me and how much confidence you have….. in three different places.”
“Tell me, Larry – who’s been giving you advice?”
“I’ll come back to that.”
“You see this?” (Ryan waves around him) “This represents what you think of me, Larry. I sit up here looking out as far as the eye can see and I own every last inch of it. I look out to the left, to the right, straight ahead, around front… and everything you see with your human vision I own and lord over. It’s a fitting metaphor, don’t you think?? But the truth, Larry – and most people don’t get this – but the truth is that to obtain such property, such wealth or to wipe away the metaphoric screen, such prestige and status…. You have to be not legendary in word alone, but in actual work and in deed.”
“Everything you see here, everything you look on out there I busted my ass for. I spent my time getting thrown around by my elders. I spent my time learning the ropes and getting bones broken to pay my dues. I spent my time as a cocky punk kid whose mouth ran more than it should. I’ve paid the price ten times over. I look out on what I’ve accomplished and the victories are sweet because I every last square inch of it corresponds to a drop of sweat that it took to obtain it.”
“Now……… I get it. You’re self-aware.”
“You go into a match normally and you think – what’s this guy’s weakness? What’s his flaw? Where should I attack where it would most benefit my strengths and weaknesses?”
“And what’s the point?”
“I’ve been doing this for far too long, far too well with far too dominating a result. So you can’t attack with confidence, but you can’t attack with reverence. You can only do what Larry Tact does best. And as your clever nom de guerre would cause one to assume, that will likely be with tactical excellence, yes? A tactician of the highest order…. Larry…. Tact. But what does Larry Tact do when his opponent is also known just as much for his tactical excellence as his power? As much for his power as for his intelligence? As much for his intelligence as his ring psychology? As much for his ring psychology as for his supreme confidence and complete lack of hesitation?”
“Why, Larry Tact…. he only does what he can do. He does only what any man can do. He lays his cards on the table and simply hopes for the best, doesn’t he? Because what you’re smart enough to realize and also smart enough not to admit…. is that your best hope is that I am somehow…. overconfident…..that I somehow take you lightly.”
“But we’re way way past that point, don’t you think Larry? Don’t you think that by time you reach the elite 8 of an industry-wide tournament we should all be past the point of phoning it in? No, at this point it’s about putting every last ounce of what I have on the table against everything you have… and may the best man win.”
“I know what you’re here for, Tact. I know the first time is the sweetest and I know that many of my opponents come in my direction for just that, their first taste of greatness. And you say I’m just another name on the bracket to keep on fighting another day. But the longer you stay at it, the longer you fight……the sooner you have to face someone like me, eh Larry? I can’t be just another name to you, sir. I can’t be just your means of going from big time professional wrestler to wrestling royalty. You can’t avoid having the idea of beating me be such a simple thing in your mind. You can’t afford to look at it as just another match. You have to beat me, Tact. You have to do something only a handful of men have ever done. You have to kill the giant.”
“And no, it’s not that I read my own clippings. I don’t have to read anything. I was there. I was there when the so-called ‘legend’ was made. I was there when, before people started hyping me as the ‘greatest in the world’, the moments happened. I lived those moments, Tact. It’s not hype. It’s who I am. I’ve lived, breathed and bled this business for over ten years – and when you’ve done that, when you’ve done that and come out the other side able to make your own choices, call your own shots and stand up on top of the wrestling world with impunity, you have the credibility to stand here and tell people the truth.”
“I don’t do the ‘three faces of Ryan’ for the viewing public. There’s no Fourth of July Barbecue ‘kiss the cook’ Dan followed by a black turtleneck fingersnapping in a jazz club Jack Kerouac Dan. I’m what I am one hundred percent of the time – and there’s no such thing as overconfidence, Larry – not when you work your ass off and prepare for every single possible outcome. Not when the preparation is as legendary as the ringwork. What someone else might see as overconfidence, as arrogance is a supreme belief in my own ability, in my own road work, in my talent and in a career that says I am exactly what I say I am.”
“Don’t insult anyone’s intelligence…”
“ ‘I look at you, Dan… and I see the man who stands in my way of getting to this tournament’s Final Four.’ “
“Of course you do, Larry. Of course you do.”
“The truth is Larry, you’ll have to damn near kill me to put me out of commission for three seconds. So what you need to do is get on the horn, talk to your mentor and get some tape. Because within the last week, you’ve gotten away from a few simple facts that some DVD footage can well remind you of. I’m not just a name. I’m not just a legend and I’m not just a pile of trophies and title belts. There’s a man behind all of that. There’s a man who did it all. It’s not just a story. It’s real life. It’s flesh and blood. It’s not just someone on their game. It’s someone whose game extends to heights you can’t even fathom.”
“Your own confidence is admirable, but it’s not warranted. You think this is Federer-Roddick?? Well…. for one thing, this ain’t the finals. For another, don’t insult Andy Roddick like that. For whatever ambition you have, LARRY TACT…. you have an over-inflated opinion of yourself if you think this is some sort of epic showdown. You’re kinda right in one way. If you won this match, I’d go on my merry way, take it in stride and move on to the next great match. A loss to you can’t possibly harm me in any way. But a win for you…..well…..hey Larry, that’s what it’s all about isn’t it?”
“A win for you helps make you a star – unless you go on and lose to Doc Silver in the Final Four.”
Ryan leans forward and whispers just a little bit…
“And not for nothing right back atcha….. but don’t talk to me in the third part of your little Bourne Trilogy three-part splice about Anthology being a force, Larry. You know nothing about what a true wrestling juggernaut is. You know nothing about holding an entire company in the palm of your hand, nothing of standing on top of a company’s throat with not only their World Title around your waist, but the very purse strings of the board in your back pocket. You know nothing of being in position to single-handedly cripple an entire wrestling empire with only your own compassion for a former friend standing in the way. Taking you seriously?? Why don’t you show me some s**t, Tact?? Hmm? Why don’t you show me something that I’m supposed to be afraid of, huh? Show me something other than Cameron Cruise pinning Troy Douglas for his title after a fluke neck injury and you and Wells lording over a tag team division that barely exists.”
“It’s not that you need each other as crutches, Tact. It’s more like you need someone else to make you interesting at all.”
“But hey, what do I know?? You’re Lindsay’s headache now. I only have to wrestle you.”
“Your maturity, your wrestling savvy or your TACT or what have you has never and will never be a concern to me. I don’t see the relevance of you being a rookie or a veteran, because I’ve dominated both. And the truth is, no matter what your approach, no matter what your advice, your future lies directly in the palm of my hand, Tact. Throw your curves, throw your changeup, throw that nasty high heat with the cutting motion and follow it up with a nasty slider.”
”NONE OF IT MATTERS.”
“You’re just like everyone else, and despite all the words and despite all the protestations to the contrary you’re just one more douchebag who things he’s gonna walk in here and make a name off of me and my legacy. No matter what you say in the Bourne Identity or the Bourne Supremacy portions of your little production, you just can’t help ending the third part with the old ‘when the great Dan Ryan falls to Larry Tact’ line.”
“Tsk tsk. Contradiction within your own set of words, Larry. So disappointing, and I had such high hopes for you. You won’t come out here and…….you won’t deny that………you won’t this, you won’t that…..”
“Yes you will.”
“Guess what, Larry?? Welcome to being just like everyone else in the world.”
“So hey, whoever you got your advice from?? Throw it out the window. Get on your knees and pray to God that I come down with a cold. Pray to God that I blow out my knee running on my treadmill.”
“Pray to God that instead of trying to squeeze out a tear, you don’t have a hard enough time squeezing out a breath.”
“What you’re getting to be, Larry Tact…..is the next person in line to tell the next person in line what it was like to be in the ring with Dan Ryan, how he surprised you with his ring savvy, how he shocked you with his power, how he overcame you with his relentless will to win. But what you don’t get to be….is part of the Final Four.”
“You might not strike up the band when I speak, but the band will be there nonetheless….”
FADE IN: on a shot of Beth Israel Hospital, in the Union Square area of Manhattan, NY. Fading from the shot, we are taken to one on street level. There Larry Tact-- dressed in black Levis shorts, sneakers, and a blue mesh jersey, and blue-lensed/silver-rimmed Kenneth Cole shades-- stands near the entrance doors. His hair falls midway down his neck, framing the shades and his face, and he has his arms crossed over his chest, grinning, before he speaks.
LARRY TACT: "I'm standing so close to a place you should want me airlifted into soon, Dan. I would hope so, at least; because if you don't intend on it, then it's going to be a long night for you. And don't worry about any 'hot air' on my part, because my standing here should say more than enough to a simple point. So close, yet so far. You won't be sending me here after our match."
"I'm glad you took so well to my little holiday compilation, though. Really, I didn't expect you'd reinforce just about EVERYTHING I said, by saying it over in your own words. Glad to have that kind of effect."
"But if you think rehashing and threatening me with your variation of the, 'Don't you know who I am?' speech is going to get to me, then you were really only hearing what I said, rather than listening to what I meant. There is a difference, contrary to what your grammar school teacher may have told you, down there in Texas."
"And unfortunately, that'll only contribute to a one-way ticket out of this tournament."
He props a leg against the wall of the building, and shrugs.
"Busy yourself trying to figure out my 'technique' and style of addressing you, if you like. Epic production? Nah, you haven't seen anything NEAR the 'productions' I'm capable of putting on. Ask Chris Horowitz, back in the IWF days. If I wasn't funding production costs, he would have killed me!"
"But what does it matter, anyway? Our match is yet to come, and that's where you'll really learn something about me, since you obviously don't do well with video comprehension. You're the type that requires to be forcibly educated, right? That's okay, I've got plenty ready for that phase of our little program."
"I, on the other hand, am fully capable of non-confrontational learning. I prepare in all different ways; watching DVD, sure! Although, honestly, Dan, I couldn't get all the footage that way. Some of your stuff I had to break out the VCR for...."
A hint of a smirk, but he shrugs it away.
"No big, just sayin'. If you want to talk about big, how about that property you've got! Great stuff there! Yeah, great LAWN, Dan... love the landscaping job.... right..."
"I'll make a note of trying to get your local Lawn Doctor's number, after the match. Right along squeezing out that tear...."
"Really, though, I get it, Dan. I know you're a big star, with a big Texas attitude, and big rewards for your big effort. You don't have to spell it out for me. You heard me, before, but I'll say it again. You're the marquee, the man only in name... legend in reality. You've got all the trophies and the belts... all the titles and accomplishments that the other wrestlers look at in awe and with envy."
"Maybe all except... well, me."
"Because if I really had all that envy and awe, I wouldn't be able to keep you in perspective. I wouldn't see past all that shiny stuff you went and reiterated... and see the man. And contrary to what you think, and what I said before... I do see the man."
"I see the man so clear, that it bothers you, Dan. Because you want me to see the Legend, and be impressed. You want Larry Tact to envy Dan Ryan, and all the grand possessions he has."
"And. I. Don't."
He shakes his head.
"If anything, Dan, I haven't been ambitious enough. Over the past eight years of my pro career, I could have gone higher. I could have been in CSWA, like you. I could have gone to NFW, like you. I could have gone to the multitude of promotions you did, scouring the wrestling industry, to satiate your obsession. Impossible goals and all that."
"Now, maybe you'd love to call me a coward for not, Dan. You might want to say that I didn't have that same obsession because, what... I wasn't up to the test? I didn't have the guts to do it? Something along those lines?"
"You can say what you want, but I've long-since been sleeping in the bed I made for myself. I'm more than comfortable with what I've done, where I've been, and continue to be in wrestling. That doesn't take anything away from you, nor does it mean I can't take it to you. Because let's face it, Dan... who really goes to the lengths you have? Who's been so obsessively competitive as you? Sure, it gets you all those material things, and that's great. It gets you the notoriety YOU want me to envy. But why should I? What makes Dan Ryan so special, that I should bow down?"
"If I weren't comfortable in my own skin, and rightly confident as I am, then maybe I would. But Dan, you've told me what I already know. You've given me only more reason to believe in what I can do, and that's advance to the Final Four."
"And from what I heard, your competitiveness and obsession with wrestling? It also drove you to a point where you didn't even know what you were doing. And then the little girl, your relative, stared at you and you cracked."
"So all the work and sweat and blood the man put into building his Legend... nearly destroyed him... and a child defeated the Legend to save the man?"
"Makes a superb story for the Inquirer, Dan... but it's not the story I want for my legacy. Understand that."
"I suppose there's a storybook quality to it. That even the grandest schemes, and the most complex puzzles.... sometimes all it takes it a child's innocence, to solve them all."
"I intend on taking a slightly different approach, but you can bet that I'm not who you want me to be, or spend all your words making me out to be."
"I don't neglect the man who built the Legend. Dan Ryan, the man who can acutely correspond victories to sweat he spilled for his earnings... the man who has burned bridges and built empires... but, most importantly, the man who has built his legacy by his own hands, and his own work in the ring... is the man I will be facing in the ring."
"And the Legend isn't as important as the man. Just as I've been saying."
He pushes off the building, taking a couple steps forward.
"Take it how you will, but I'm anything but ignorant to all it took for you to get where you are. I'm a little surprised you'd let yourself think I'd be that easy on you, seeing as I've been witness to some of your 'excellence' in person, and there are so many places you've been... so many that you've defeated. So much source material to draw from."
"Why use a 'mentor' when I can just draw from all the examples you've set, while pursuing your endless obsession with wrestling?"
"Just like, why use Anthology to take away from the interest I generate on my own? We all know where we stand in this industry, and we can back ourselves up. But together, we're that much stronger."
"In this case, though, Anthology should be miles from your mind. Like you said, we're Troy's problem, so no need for you to raise that issue first. You just have to wrestle me... which is going to prove much more adverse to your fortunes, than you'd like. You'll find out just how well I can back up what I say, with my own power."
"And while this may not be the Finals, Dan, ala Federer-Roddick, I never claimed that was a common point. Go ahead and nitpick, if that's the best you can do."
"Nitpick that... my style... my very person. It's good fun to me, and nothing gained for you. But when bell time comes, be sure that it's all coming back at you, in spades, when you realize that I'm nothing short of ready to do what it takes to win."
"And why wouldn't I be? 'Damn near kill you?' What part of wrestling doesn't include going to ANY lengths to win? I may not have been in all the promotions you have, Dan... but I've heard that line before. And I've gone on to victory against people who have said it."
"I can't say I've done it to YOU, yet. But Dan, I'm ready to go the lengths. I've got no reason to give you anything LESS... than EVERYTHING in my game."
"Like I said... this is going to come down to the very end, before a winner is determined. And since you weren't listening, I'll say it again..."
"Larry Tact has what it takes to beat Dan Ryan. If you want to get into what I didn't say... I never said the 'Federer' of our match... you, Dan... was walking away the winner."
"What this match WILL do like the Wimbledon Finals... is stretch beyond expectations. Because I'll force the issue, just like Roddick... only I'm also going to force you down, and out, of this tournament, Dan. Not with brute strength, blinding speed, or technical prowess alone. Just one or two of the wrestling elements won't do. I'm going to give you everything, and then some."
"And if it sounds cliche, well that's because it's no secret. That's just the way to beat a legend."
"Try as you might to disbelieve me, but this won't be any old match, just because it isn't the Finals. I fully expect, however, to raise it to the level of a Finals, with the performance I put on."
"It's called going above and beyond what anyone expects. And while I completely acknowledge your capability to do it, Dan, that just won't be the story this time around. Because for one night, in this one Elite 8 match... the only one that matters between us... I'm going to hold out and break through on Dan Ryan. I'm going to outdo you just long enough."
"Because that's all I need to do, to reach the Final Four."
He takes another couple steps forward, his body in view from the upper torso and up.
"It's clear I do have more to prove. I have to do as much, because I'm not Dan Ryan. And even if it's a side effect, I'll prove something to you, and to everyone else, by advancing; just like you had to, at one point, as you ascended to where you are. It's the way of the wrestling world, Dan. I know you haven't forgotten, with all the sweat and work you gave and put in. But I won't expect you to tell everyone, either... that I'm cramping your space."
"That I might just be making you see that bit of yourself, when you beat a legend you were not 'supposed' to beat... in ME."
"The funny thing is... I don't see that in myself. I just see a man who's dedicated to beating the opponent set in front of him. That's all I need to be focused on, and there's no reason to be distracted otherwise."
He steps further forward, from his shoulders and up now left in view, his olive green eyes dead set on the lens.
"So what can I do, but prove to you and everyone else? I've got one match to advance to the Final Four, one shot, and this is how the draw went. I didn't choose it, nor shy away from it. I'm just staring it right in its Texan face. And I'm not backing down until I DO advance to the Final Four, with whatever adjectives or glitzy dressing anyone wants to give it... as long as it gets Dan Ryan three seconds counted on the mat... passed out.... or otherwise eliminated."
"What you don't seem to understand most, is that I don't need to beat Dan Ryan to send my star rising for glory, fame, fortune, or validation. I addressed this right off the bat. I only need to beat Dan Ryan to take my place in the Final Four. It's all so I can EARN my advancement in the TEAM Invitational Tournament."
"And whatever you, or anyone else, THINKS of it, Dan..."
"Whether you, or anyone else, THINKS I have what it takes, or not...."
A 'mailman', looking somewhere around six foot tall, maybe about two hundred twenty five pounds. You'd almost say he was Doc Silver, if not for the weird disguise and phony moustache. Still, he clips a postcard to the screen door and takes off.... with the quickness...
FADE IN: on the door of Larry Tact's penthouse suite. Tact opens the door, wearing a robe and a pair of Nike shorts, picks up the Wall Street Journal he forgot to get, and dumps it in a garbage pail after glancing through a few headlines.
LARRY TACT: "Yeah, yeah, economy sucks... stocks rebounding... eh, I'll find out in tomorrow's..."
He yawns and is about to close the door, then notices a postcard on the door when he turns back. He plucks it off the door and reads it.
LT: "Hm... Doc?"
He disappears inside the apartment. A few seconds later, we see Tact reappear with the postcard, and brings the flame of a lighter to it, watching it burn.
LT: "I'll be ready for you, or Duke... in the Final Four. No sooner, though... not before I take care of business in my region..."
He drops the burning note into the pail with the WSJ, and brings it back into his suite. FADE OUT.
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