<i>(We fade in on a steady close-up of the EPW Intercontinental Title belt. There's a brief zoom-in on the nameplate, which has Aaron Jones' name engraved on it, before the camera zooms out again to show the belt in full. Aaron Jones talks over the image)</i>
<b>Aaron Jones:</b> With some things in life, you just can't help reminding yourself over and over again.
I was worried just focusing on the title belt would seem a little too much like gloating, but in the end, I think it's the only way to visually represent what I'm feeling right now.
I've known people who got engaged or married and then, for days or even weeks afterward, kept feeling their eyes slowly drift to the ring on their finger. They knew it was there -- you might forget your anniversary a few years down the road, but you don't forget your wedding a month after it happens -- but they couldn't help looking at it whenever it crossed their mind or flashed in their peripheral vision.
It's not just about achieving a long-term goal. It's not just about holding onto a memorable moment.
It's about having a concrete reminder. I did this, and I have this to show for it.
And if I ever, for even a split second, start to think that maybe it was all a dream -- we all get the occasional moment of sudden doubt, even if it makes no sense -- it's easy enough to prove myself wrong.
No matter how long I might hold it, right now, the EPW Intercontinental Title is mine.
<i>(The image fades out. A second later, we fade in on a shot of Jones sitting at a desk in a relatively nondescript office, the only hints to its purpose being a handful of flyers and posters suggesting it's for a manager at a gym -- probably the one from which most of Jones' promos originate. The desk is fairly clear, and the EPW Intercontinental Title belt sits on it in front of Jones)</i>
<b>JoneS:</b> They let me use the manager's office for this one. A nice gesture, I thought.
I hate this particular cliche, but there's really no way for me to describe the last few weeks without using the term "rollercoaster ride."
Think about it. At the beginning of March, I had yet to score a victory I could call my own in my entire professional career; just a singular tag match in which my partner got the win.
Then, in the course of just a few minutes, I not only scored my first pinfall victory of my entire career -- over one-half of EPW's premier tag teams, no less -- but I suddenly became the holder of a title I didn't even know I was going to be competing for.
The second-most prestigious title in Empire Pro Wrestling -- previously held by a tough, widely respected competitor who has more than 100 pounds on me -- is now mine.
I really don't say this to brag. It's just a lot to take in.
But here we are.
Now, at the biggest pay-per-view of EPW's schedule, I've got not one, but two matches. Both for titles -- one for this one, one for the EPW Tag Team Titles.
And if I want to hold onto this title, I’ve got to get past Rezin.
Now, Rezin, I know what kind of opinions you generally have of your opponents. A mutual respect might pervade my other match at Wrestleverse V, but I don’t expect to see much respect from you.
And that’s OK. Until fairly recently, I spent a lot of time not getting any respect from my opponents. I’d prefer to have it, but I can live without it.
But don’t forget: At Wrestleverse, you don’t face a winless rookie.
You face the new EPW Intercontinental Champion, with all the implications that go along with that.
It took some time, but finally, this belt provides me with some concrete evidence of something I’ve wanted to prove for a long time:
Underestimate me at your own peril.
As much work as it took me to get my first winning streak and my first piece of gold, I don’t intend to give up either without a fight.
<i>(Jones keeps his eyes on the camera as we slowly fade to black)</i>
(We are greeted by the ominous chimes of a death knell as the camera fades in on a gloomy and gray sky obscured by a pall of clouds. Panning down, we find ourselves in a cryptic GRAVEYARD, damp beneath a drizzle of light rain. The camera follows along a row of headstones bearing a series of familiar names… LAYNE WINTERS… MR. SUNSHINE… DONOVAN ASTROS… ADRIAN WILLARD… TEDDY ALEXANDER… RICH MAHOGANY… BOOGIE SMALLZ…)
(Eventually, it arrives on an open plot, where a funeral currently appears to be underway. Nearby, a MYSTERIOUS WOMAN dressed in black, face obscured by a veil, bears silent witness over the CASKET held over the open grave. The camera pauses a beat to read the characters engraved into the stone… HERE LIES MALCOLM JOSEPH-JONES, 2012-2014.)
(The camera continues its long pan, finding the BLACKENED BARE FEET of a man standing nearby. Slowly panning up, past the baggy pants and long coat… past the EPW Television Title sacrilegiously worm upside-down around the waist… past the flesh-bound copy of the Necronomicon held against a disgustingly bare chest… past a priest’s collar around the neck… and finally the face of REZIN, eyes rolled back into his head and mouth pinched into a hilariously over-exaggerated grimace of mourning.)
Dear lambs of Empire Pro… we are here today to remember the career of our one fallen brother, Malcolm Joseph-Jones… a career cut down by scythe of death so soon before its time.
And yea, though I walk through the valley of death, and take a look at my life, and realize there’s nothing left… we take this time to remember Malcolm, his GREATNESS, and his uncanny ability to burst through brick walls, shouting “OH YEAH!” at the top of his lungs. Thus, O Great Void of the Beyond, we commend this career unto the earth, returning it to thee, not-lord of not-lords.
(The casket descends into the open grave. The nearby widow begins to sob mockingly.)
Hashes to hashes… rust to rust…
(As it hits the bottom, a smirk appears on the Goat Bastard’s face. The camera drops down to a nearby BUCKET OF SLUDGE… which Rezin promptly kicks over, half-assedly filling the hole with noxious muck.)
(The camera comes back on Rezin as he loses the collar and turns his attention to the camera, and by proxy, the millions watching at home.)
So falls yet another promising up-and-comer… cast out of this Empire in defeat and shame, because his mind could not withstand the poisonous realities exposed by yours truly. Key word there is “ANOTHER”. I mean, seriously, just take a look for yourselves…
(He waves his hand over the row of stones.)
My gloomy little garden continues to grow, seemingly with every show at this point. We’ve reached the point where the locker room has grown so anemic, our flagship Pay Per View event, WRESTLEVERSE V, contains a mere four matches.
To think, you all doubted me when I said I was going to DESTROY this company. You all doubted me when I said I’d take down every champion... taking every belt, one by one… destroying the false concept of “greatness” that punks like ol’ KOOL-AID here kept guzzling down like… like…
(Smirks again, like a possum eating shit.)
Everybody wants to take that step up… get the fame and the acknowledgement. But at the end of it all, as we can tell by the growing list of careers that up and DIED right here in Empire Pro, it’s clear that it’s all an empty quest for the sake of vanity. Some broken function deep within the human mind… an animal urge to convince ourselves that we are all individually important, and we somehow “matter” in the grand scope of things.
But you know, I’m beginning to think that human consciousness is a tragic misstep in human evolution. Somehow, we became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. But we are creatures that should not exist by natural law…
(The widow lifts her head…)
We are merely things that labor under the illusion of having a self… an accretion of sensory experience and feelings, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody.
(He scoffs with a indifferent shrug of his shoulders.)
Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming... stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction. One last midnight… brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.
(The widow throws back the veil, revealing the dumbstruck face of CAITLYN DAYMON.)
…are you fucking kidding me? You totally just lifted all that from True Detective…
(Rezin’s nihilistic smugness shatters into an expression of annoyance. He stammers briefly, making a whole bunch of funny noises before making an irritated retort.)
Well whatever! Regardless, the words of Academy Award-winner Matthew McConaughey are no less true!
And everything I’ve been saying over the past few years? That’s all been true as well. I gave the bleak reality to just about every name you see etched on a stone in this yard… and now, they are no longer with us. Maybe they just couldn’t hang with the big leagues. Or maybe I helped them to realize just how pointless this grab for attention really is. Either way, I can’t help but revel in just how fucking right I was this whole time.
And I can tell you right now, this is FAR from over… like the angel of death, I’m strolling through this federation, cutting down one career after another… and there isn’t a damb thing anybody can do to stop me. It’s an endless cycle… Dan Ryan overpays some jackoff to come in, make a big speech, spike the ratings… a year or so later, they pack their bags and leave.
There’s no solution to the epidemic in sight. Because this is a world where NOTHING is solved. Someone once told me, “Time is a flat circle.” Everything we’ve ever done, or will do… we’re going to do over and over again.
Again… TRUE DETECTIVE!
(Rezin convulses again under a wave of irritation, but nevertheless presses on.)
All philosophating aside… DEATH keeps trudging forward, indifferent and inevitable as it always has been. Empire Pro, once a robust and prestigious destination fed for the greatest athletes on the planet, finds itself limping into Wrestleverse V like a sick man suffering through its last days. Dan Ryan is off in Japan, doing anything and everything he can to cut his ties with this sinking ship and the dumb, drowning fans clinging to it for dear life, holding out for some lasting hope that will never come.
And all those prestigious championships? Degraded to the point of hardly being relevant. We’re living under the reign of the undisputed worst World Heavyweight Champion in this company’s history. The tag titles are held by a team that is only considered “dominant” due to the fact that the tag division has been non-existent for years.
And then there’s the new Intercontinental Champion… AARON JONES. The kid was a doormat for the longest time… and in a matter of seconds at Aggression 76, suddenly he’s being considered a top talent.
How the fuck are you people not getting this by now? CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE WORTHLESS!! When the most insignificant of PESTS are being considered the best in this industry, then it’s blatantly obvious that people are LIVING IN DENIAL!!
(Caitlyn has moved up to Rezin’s side, putting an arm around his waist and tapping the inverted “worthless” TV Title around his own waist with reassurance.)
Oh relax… not EVERY championship is worthless. They just don’t understand, dear… the belt doesn’t make the man. The MAN makes the BELT… which is why regardless of who carries what gold around here, the only man the fits the TRUE definition of champion is the one standing here right now.
(A lusty smile crosses the Escape Artists face.)
How right you are, my Queen of Grief. Given everything I’ve suffered over the years… given all that I’ve OVERCOME… it’d be outright BLASPHEMY for anyone to suggest I’m not one of the most paramount professional wrestlers in Empire Pro history! So many have come into this company… so many have FALLEN. Yet over all the years, while people POINTED and LAUGHED at the Goat Bastard, he kept pressing on…
Because REAL greatness isn’t about petty accomplishment and hollow victories. It’s SURVIVAL… and so far, it’s my acceptance of that fact that has allowed me to persist and succeed over the course of generations.
And I’ll continue to survive, beyond Wrestleverse V… until the day this whole company finally collapses upon itself.
But one thing that won’t survive beyond Wrestleverse is one of this company’s oh-so-precious titles… due to the fact that the roster has become so thin, we have to unify what’s left. Because being a champion isn’t all that special anymore, when the guys with belts outnumber the guys WITHOUT belts.
Is Aaron Jones going to be the one last remaining beacon of hope to stand up and stop me? Will he succeed where others have failed?
(He lets out a gravelly chuckle… obviously not all that optimistic in that reality. With the former Mrs. Daymon leaning on his shoulder, sharing his bemusement with a smirk of her own, Rezin sets his attention on the camera.)
Let me be real with you here, Aaron… I mean no disrespect to your one great breakthrough moment in professional wrestling. Let’s not forget… not that long ago, I myself was once a scrawny kid out of Indiana, eating the mat night after night, but still picking myself up and moving on, hungry for a legit win.
Only I didn’t have a Copycat to train me, and an Eli Flair to pat me on the back and give me a bunch of false encouragement. What you managed in just a couple short years, I only managed after a decade of trying to claw my way through a brick wall of adversity, all on my own power. And there was nobody there to cheer me on, or give me the underdog treatment.
Naw… people looked at me, and all they could see was a lazy stoner. Guys like the First and Layne Winters said I wasn’t worth getting in the ring with. Guys like Impulse and Stevens said I was using the whole Dopesmoker gimmick as an excuse to cover up a lack of talent. Nobody had the ability to look past all the smoke and jests… nobody could see the passionate and industrious warrior behind it all, yearning to one day garner the respect and esteem of a legitimate professional wrestler.
Forget them, dear… because here stands today a legitimate champion, with one belt around his waist, and another just within reaching distance.
Banking your chances on the assumption that your opponents will always underestimate you will only get you so far, Aaron. The thing about being a champion is, putting the belt around your waist also comes with putting a target on your back. If you were the same old greenhorn we’ve known for the past year, the winless rookie bumping his head on the glass ceiling while the Benny Hill theme played in the background, then I could probably give two shits about you.
But I can already tell that the gold is getting to your head… feeding your ego… making you believe you’re actually WORTH something. I can respect a young man tirelessly going into that ring night after night, stubbornly fighting against all odds… but calling yourself an accomplished champion? THAT… I can’t get behind.
Let’s not bullshit ourselves, okay, Aaron? Regardless of whatever you think the implications that come with being an Intercontinental Champion, it doesn’t change the fact that your victory was over a guy who wasn’t expecting a match, wasn’t expecting a challenge, and hadn’t been in action for over half a year. You beat a guy twice your size and exponentially more accomplished and experienced than yourself… in a matter of seconds. Some might call that a miracle. There’s another word for that though… and it’s called FLUKE.
I can tell you that the Television Title you see around MY waist isn’t a fluke, Aaron… because it came at the expense of ten hard years of survival and suffering. This belt isn’t a symbol of greatness; it’s a testament to all those I outlasted over the years.
And inevitably, Aaron… I’ll outlast you too. My hope, my dreams… they died long ago like stillborn infants. Only my sheer HATE keeps me going at this point…
(Putting an arm around his paramour, Rezin and Caitlyn move on from the fresh grave of Malcolm Joseph-Jones’ career… approaching yet another empty hole in the ground. Rezin glances it over and winks ominously at the camera.)
Provided your head doesn’t explode from the force of my heel flying into it at twice the speed of sound… there might be a shred of hope that you can keep going yourself.
But what you will quickly learn, in your brief and inconsequential time as Intercontinental Champion, is that everything has to end at some point. Streaks, reigns, careers, lives… nothing escapes the scythe.
Why struggle, Aaron? Why tarnish the last moments of your career’s existence by making a bit pointless show of effort? Just close your eyes and accept the doom you can’t escape… and I promise, I’ll make it as quick and painless as possible…
God, you are such a lying bastard…
(He flashes her a goat-like smile, and they wickedly laugh to themselves as they exit the frame. The camera pans up to catch a glimpse of a WEEPING ANGEL overlooking the freshly dug grave… and we slowly fade to VOID.)
<i>(We fade in on another close-up of the EPW Intercontinental Title belt. After a couple of seconds, the camera starts to zoom out, finally stopping when most of the room is visible. It's the same office as last time, and Aaron Jones once again sits at a desk with the belt laid out in front of him)</i>
<b>Aaron Jones:</b> Yes, I'm focusing on the EPW Intercontinental Title again. Yes, I said last time I was worried it looked a little too much like gloating.
I'm willing to take that chance again. I figure it might help me get a message across to my opponent at Wrestleverse V.
Well, one of my opponents. You know what I mean.
Rezin, you'd have been perfectly right to say being underestimated has served me well. I'd like to think Eli Flair and I could have beaten Animezing Dragons, and I'd like to think I could have beaten Boogie Smallz, even if all of them had viewed me as a serious threat.
We'll probably never really know with Boogie.
But certainly, in both instances, being underestimated by my opponents was a factor in my victories.
And given that fact, I suppose one could make a case that your unwillingness to take me seriously could be considered underestimation and, therefore, a risky move.
But let me be as clear as I think I can be on this point:
Under no circumstances do I want you to underestimate me, Rezin.
I'd not be so conceited as to tell you what is and isn't considered underestimation, but whatever it entails, I don't want you to do it.
If I wanted to be underestimated, why would I spend any time talking about the end of my lengthy losing streak? If I wanted to be underestimated, why would I put the championship belt I hold right in front of me while I talk?
I have no interest in being the guy who only wins because he's lucky.
I don't wish to downplay my accomplishments any more than I wish to harp on them. Neither option appeals to me.
Clearly, though, one of them appeals to you, Rezin.
I've tried really hard since my EPW debut to avoid trash-talking my opponents.
I haven't had much to trash-talk about, I know. And even if I did, I have no illusions that I'm any good at it.
But you know, Rezin, a lot of your talk about destroying EPW and the general futility of life reminds me of someone else.
You remember why I decided to sign an EPW contract and compete as a wrestler, right?
It's because I felt I needed to redeem myself for my part in the sick game Copycat played with EPW. I was the last person to realize he was a fraud.
He talked -- or, more accurately, I talked, his words coming out of my mouth -- a lot about his principles, about the wrestling business being doomed, about being willing to destroy EPW if he had to.
And he didn't mean a word of it. He just wanted the attention.
Now look, Rezin. I knew going in that psychological warfare is one of your fortes. I mean, you do spend a lot of time with Rocko Daymon's ex-wife.
Some guys might claim to be too tough, or too smart, or too mean to be susceptible to mind games.
I'm not so naive as to think I'm immune, though. Heck, nine times out of ten, I'm probably more at risk than the next guy.
But this particular attitude? I know this one. I've seen it before.
And now I know better than to find it persuasive.
So maybe don't try to convince me on this one.
And maybe don't expect me to rely on luck to carry me through our match at Wrestleverse.
Let's just have a match. Your title against mine.
Maybe I'll win. Maybe I'll lose.
But I don't expect to leave disappointed.
<i>(Jones looks into the camera for another second or two before the shot fades to black)</i>
FWrestling.com was founded in 1994 to promote a community of fantasy wrestling fans and leagues. Since then, we've hosted dozens of leagues and special events, and thousands of users. Come join and prove you're "Even Better Than The Real Thing."
Add Your League
If you want to help grow the community of fantasy wrestling creators, consider hosting your league here on FW. You gain access to message boards, Discord, your own web space and the ability to post pages here on FW. To discuss, message "Chad" here on FW Central.