CALAMITY XIII // CONCRETE JUNGLE

By: Dickie Watson

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 1st Apr 2022

CALAMITY XIII: CONCRETE JUNGLE

CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF
THROUGH THE BRUISES WHEN THE MAKEUP MELTS?
IN THE DARK WHEN ALL THE POWER’S OUT
EVERYBODY TALKS AND GETS AROUND

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Have you ever questioned yourself – no. Have you ever truly asked yourself if you’re doing the right thing? That you’re living the dream that you were meant to live, that you’re standing on the precipice of your career, that you truly were in the right place at the right time. Or, on the flipside, do you wonder if everyone else has been right all along. You really are the lucky son, the golden child, the one standing because you’ve been protected by everyone else.

That you’re not a fighter.

That you didn’t earn your stripes.

Days. Weeks. Months. Years. For all of these, Dickie Watson has been ridiculed, put down, treated as if he was nothing. That he hadn’t survived Blood Money, Ascension, Countdown and a second round of Blood Money still standing tall. That he hadn’t earned the Empire Championship. That he hadn’t broken down Paul Montouri and made him walk away from the team he’d created with his brother at Ascension because he’d kept the title in his hand. That he hadn’t left Dane Preston in the burning fires of the Fight Tower, defeated before the cage collapsed in on him. That he didn’t stand tall again against Montouri being the last man standing at Blood Money 2.

It’s easy to sit on social media and bitch about your chances. Sit there and say you don’t care about what you’re doing, because it’s easier to be nonchalant and cavalier about your career like this was a fuckin’ fake sport rehearsed and choreographed so you’d lose. So why give a shit? It’s easy to sit there and argue that you’re gonna be the best fuckin’ thing in the world on Twitter, easy to sit there and spout the common aggressive better than you arguments when in reality, you should be in there quaking in your boots. You should be fucking in tears and panicking because you’re facing not only a champion of FIGHT…but the champion.

But it’s easier to belittle someone, isn’t it? It’s easier to argue all of your losses, all of your mediocre abilities and all your lack of success against a man who is one-seventy-six and five-eleven is just him getting lucky. Easier to disregard and tell anyone who will listen that Dickie Watson isn’t shit, that he’s just in the right place at the right time, that staff protects him, that–

The excuses are endless. But that’s all they are.

EXCUSES.

It seemed like the whole of FIGHT was on a warpath of excuses. “Now that I got my head back on my shoulders”, “Man, I was just spending too much time “. “I’ve got this dramatic piece of my life going on and that’s going to supersede everything and that’s why I did so terribly at Venom .” Every competitor. Every moment. Every day. It was hard for the prideful to admit their mistakes, admit they fucked up, admit they weren’t putting their best foot forward. Perhaps, it was even harder to admit that someone else was better than them. Because that meant a pivotal blow to their ego, and of course, the ego is the most fragile piece of human. It’s easily destroyed by words, by actions, by blows to the spirit of a mind.

That was easy for Dickie to do.

How many times had someone come out the other end of the battle humiliated and defeated by him, and became completely silent?

But if egos were so easily shattered, then how did someone like Dickie consistently stand tall? How did he sit there, put up a defense so strong that it couldn’t be shattered, and continue on with his feet planted in the ground and a vendetta against what seemed like everyone rest in his hands?

He was only human, right?

The constant complaints from everyone on a regular basis – the petty, bullshit remarks that were made in closed circles only to be shared with others…they get back to the people they’re about. “Man, I can’t believe that I lost to . I should have fuckin’ won that!” It gets back around. It circles and creates a drain effect that destroys even the best of relationships. How many times had that happened in this world? And how many times had the one doing the complaints gotten ostracized for being a bitch?

Perhaps that’s why he’d snapped on Aiden in January. Perhaps…that’s why he’d become the recluse that he is now. A shot to his ego.

Except the shots to his ego only reinvigorated himself. Except the shots weren’t the kryptonite that destroyed everyone else, they were what drove him to tear the rest of the world down. In the face of his friends, in the face of his very life, it was what drove him to strive to do better. Not for anyone else but himself. And that is why he was the Empire Champion. That was why he stood at the precipice of a company that wanted him annihilated from their presence. Annihilated from standing over every single one of them, unable to be brought down.

And their best hope?

A man that he considered a friend at one time, and if not a friend, then at least someone who swore he had his back. Who continued to have his back. But now? Now, he was not so sure.

Dickie was just the same as everyone else. He was a wrestler, a champion, but also a human. He had the same amount of drama, if not more than, anyone else. The difference? He didn’t broadcast it in a reality TV show way. Not like his opponent for Venom #19. Two shows left until the big one, but this would certainly start setting the tone for his match against Shawn Warstein. No, Dickie wasn’t Joe Montouri, who loved having the tabloids call out his errors and his stupidity, who loved having people like Denzel Porter give him some props for a few bucks.

Didn’t think we’d figure it out, did we?

It seemed Joe Montouri was next to meet The Calamity of his career.

The poor fuck would have a split personality like his ol’ buddy Dane by the time Dickie finished the match.

Not sorry.

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WHEN THE MONEY TALKS
DO YOU THINK IT GETS THE POINT ACROSS?
IT’S THE BURNING COAL YOU’RE WALKING ON
AND IN A SECOND, ALL THE PAIN IS GONE?

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MARCH 26TH, 2022
DICKIES’ PENTHOUSE, 6TH ST., QUEENS, NEW YORK

Dickie, you’re almost out of food.” Amelia muttered, her head in the refrigerator, glancing at the bare shelves. For weeks now, she’d been visiting Dickie in the absence of her brother, checking in on him, spending time with him. She knew eventually, Aiden would get out of his irritable hole he’d dug himself into and stayed after the altercation between him and his best friend. She also knew Aiden would beat himself up if he’d found out and understood the state that the man he considered his brother was in. The Australian might act like he was an idiot to make people laugh, but he was perceptive. Especially when it came to Dickie.

She turned to look at the Empire Champion, who was seated on the couch, his legs propped up on the glass coffee table. Amelia wasn’t even sure if he heard her, and as she closed the fridge, she straightened her body out and leaned on the door handle. He looked even more unkempt than he usually did. He was struggling, still. She didn’t know if it was the constant badgering from people on social media, or if it was the fact that he was just tired. Even without the support of his friends, he’d risen above the competition. He hadn’t faced Page, unable to be cleared from his other altercation with another family member.

The last time he’d been like this, he’d been so manic – up and down constantly – that he couldn’t handle it anymore. Everything was sensory driven, he got drunk and he did ridiculously stupid things when faced with the worst match he’d ever have. He’d lost everything that night. His credibility. His family. Eventually, he crawled out of it, but that was with support.

She threw off her Converse as she walked around the counter and into the living room. He’d drawn the shades over the otherwise floor to ceiling windows, darkening the room. However, the smoggy blue sky was still visible through them. Amelia thought maybe if he went outside, it might be better. He might come out of whatever…this…was. Dickie went to work. Dickie did what he was supposed to. Dickie came back home. There was no training except for that brief moment with Jennie. There were no gym sessions, no drive in his eyes. Maybe he’d given up already. Maybe he’d given up his ability to push before he could even face Shawn. Dickie hated facing his friends, and she knew that. She knew if Aiden was across from him, he’d do everything he could to win, but he’d hate it.

It’s how he lost his family.

It’s how he lost his wife.

It’s how he lost everything dear to him except New Status Quo and The Commonwealth. And the Championship.

Amelia dropped onto the couch next to him. He was flicking through channels on the television, unable to stay on the channel longer than a few seconds before moving on. The war in Ukraine appeared, reruns of The Big Bang Theory, home renovation shows. She reached out and took the remote from his hands, and surprisingly, he let her. “Did you hear me?

Doordash.” He replied, nonchalantly.

She frowned, pursing her lips and shaking her head. “That’s not food. You can’t live off of fast food and random things bought down at the store. You need vegetables, protein. Not,” she reached underneath the blanket that was haphazardly draped over the other side of the couch and pulled, revealing a plethora of chips and crackers, “junk.

Okay.” He shrugged his shoulders. It didn’t seem to bother him. She inhaled, reaching down and getting up off the couch at the same time, taking all of the packages and chucking them into the trash can a few steps away. “What the–

Dickie, I know you’re going through some shit. You’ve been going through it since just before Blood Money.” She started, walking back over and turning off the television. “I don’t know exactly what it is. I don’t know what’s bothering you so badly. And I don’t get it. But this? This isn’t being a wrestler, and this isn’t you. If Aiden–

The response from Dickie was almost violent. He flung himself to his feet and turned on it, clenching his fist and heading for the stairs. She was shocked, if only for a couple of seconds, that even the sound of her brother’s name would get him to shoot up like he had. Perhaps that was how she could get him to stop being listless. That was how she could reach him.

Dickie!” Amelia shouted. She was able to stand on the couch, grabbing the hand he placed on the bannister. “Just…just talk to me. I know I’m not Aiden, or Finn. Or pretty much anyone you’d confide in. I’m just Aiden’s stupid sister. You need to talk.

I don’t need to do shit,” he swore. “They walked out on me. They’re the ones that turned their back. All of them. I haven’t heard from any of them for two months except for about thirty seconds on Venom. So much from camaraderie. So much for solidarity.” He swiped his hand upwards, out of her reach. ”I get it. Betsy took a step back, tried to reinvent herself. She wouldn’t reach out, she has no reason to. Besides, her brother is Warstein. Shawn’s facing me, so obviously, he’s not gonna say shit to me until this match is over. James is doing whatever the fuck he’s doing with Atara, and Kasey is still enamoured with Shawn, so of course, she wouldn’t reach out. And Aiden–

She watched him choke on his words. Aiden was his best friend, she knew this. Amelia tilted her head as she watched him falter and then sit down on the steps, putting his head in his hands. The mighty Empire Champion, lost in his own little world, repeating over and over his mistakes and creating his own melodramatic, negative thoughts. One word was all she spoke. The name of his friend, and it crumbled him.

He was worried about New Status Quo. He was worried about them. But everyone was so separated now since Blood Money that he was worried for their future. He just couldn’t communicate it because the more he communicated it, the more it seemed real.

I fucked up, Amelia.” He choked out. “I lashed out, I acted like an idiot, and I fucked up. In public. Aiden didn’t deserve that, hell, all of those people didn’t deserve it. There’s no point in calling him–

Aiden doesn’t give a shit about that, and you know it.” She countered, hopping off the couch and walking to stand in front of the stairs.

Really?” He raised his head and looked at her through his unkempt hair. “Because I’m sure if I showed up to Wolfslair right now, he’d just turn his head and leave. I told him it was his fault we’d lost our championships. I told him that he didn’t fucking care about anything, that all he wanted to do was be with his girlfriend and that The Commonwealth didn’t matter, much less New Status Quo…and that’s a fucking mess in itself because none of us are on the same page. There’s no communication. There isn’t a fucking point anymore. I’m alone again.

He clenched his hands into his knees, almost white knuckling them.

”I’m always fucking alone.”

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THE COYOTES CRY AND THE SIRENS PASS AND HARMONIZE
FIRES STARTING EVERY DAY AND NIGHT
BURN AROUND US WHILE WE’RE TRAPPED INSIDE

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Cherry blossoms had just started blooming in this early part of Spring. The world would soon be awake, green ushering itself across the lawns and the parks of the city of Nashville. The capital of country music would forever hold so many memories for so many. But still, like many of the original, quiet cities of America as they were growing, a throwback to Grecian architecture was nestled into the city center. The lushious Centennial Park with its fountains and its various art pieces housed the Nashville Parthenon, a replica of the famous one in Athens…though it hadn’t lived through many centuries.

The buds of the blossoms had just started peeking out. Regardless, they were a feature, a focal point of the park.

The Sakura, I’m told, is a prominent symbol in Japanese culture.

The cockney accent of The Molotov was audible as the scene pans down to view him, seated calmly on a bench that allowed the occupant to lean up against the tree trunk. Dickie Watson was doing that very thing, his legs pulled up as he sat parallel to the bench, slumped against it with one leg hanging down and the other propped up as a rest for his elbow. Lackadaisical. Relaxed. The image of ease in a world that constantly threatened his very own sanity.

Just like Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the cherry blossom is a symbol for renewal and optimism, which comes in abundance as the world begins to wake up. The Grecians always referred to it as Gaea, their personification of the Earth, waking from her slumber…or I’m sure I’ll be corrected by James Raven’s midlife crisis, but that’s what I remembered from my mythology class. The Romans stole it and gave us Terra, which clearly, we preferred in the English language because the Romans raped and pillaged so many civilizations in the ancient world that we have to celebrate them somehow…you know, white European culture.

He waved his hand off, setting the crown of his head against the tree and looking upwards at the branches.

Regardless, the cherry blossom is popular because it’s pretty and eye-catching and girls like tucking the blossoms behind their ear for fashion statements. Not because of what it symbolizes. Not because you can relate the lifespan of the flowers it produces to the quick transience of life in the whole schema of the entire world. Not because it means anything, but for superficial bullshit reasons that somehow seem to take precedence over the meaningful ones.

Dickie sat up slightly, leaning over his leg and looking around him. The park didn’t seem to be full of patrons, and that was how he preferred it. After all, on most occasions, he hated being around a lot of people. Arenas never bothered him, but being in a crowd did. Too many times he’d been lost within one, just another face. But gone were those days.

Superficiality is prominent in this sport.” He continued, his voice strong, confident. Clear. Not repetitive, not ridiculous. Just calm. “Look at any competitor and tell me that they don’t give a rat’s ass about appearances. We look at ourselves in the mirror and put on makeup to look appropriate in the lights. We create costumes that enhance what we think is our most attractive area. You’ll notice more glitz and glam around a woman’s breast in the ring than, perhaps, their foot. So many dudes have to wear a cup to enhance their dicks, and you can tell when they’re wearing main event panties, but that’s beside the point. Look at them, and try to tell me I’m wrong. Not a day goes by that we aren’t vain, ridiculous human beings who try to portray themselves in a certain manner that we think is viable and correct.

That isn’t to say, you know, that in our own minds, we aren’t correct. Look at me. I may wear oversized shirts, I may wear ripped skinny jeans and combat boots, but that’s my style, that’s my truth, and that’s what I present to the world. The opinion that I don’t give a shit about what you think of my attire is there; perhaps that’s what I’m going for. Maybe that’s exactly what it is. I have to be comfortable in my own person before I can go out there and argue that I am who I am.

Dickie swung his leg down onto the ground, leaning forward completely. He turned his head, his eyes following to look directly in the center of the frame, as if he was looking directly into the viewer’s gaze. The corner of his lips lifted into a sly smirk, just like he always wore.

So many of us put on a front, put on an act when we’re in public. That we’re somehow wiser, smarter, richer, better than the other, while sitting on the edge of hypocrisy and capitalism. It’s America, right? That’s what society has told us is the most important thing. Status. Power. The blind leading the blind, but it’s okay because they’ve got the money, the cars, the fame. Society says that’s important. Society says that is the end all, be all of the world. If you have the money, you get the girls, and you get everything that you want.

Or at least, that’s what I see when it comes to Joe Montouri.

Dickie climbed to his feet, heading for the fountain in front of him, looking at the Grecian-throwback statue in the center of little cherubs throwing water from their trumpets.

The definition of capitalism, I’ve never quite paid attention to the man as much as he would like me to. But he was always sitting there, on the sidelines. Begging for me to give him a sliver, just a small piece of meat from my otherwise overflowing plate. And the fact that I gave him attention on Twitter made him blow his load, but you know how it is – seems he does that over pretty much everything. How many times had he claimed he was going to take the Empire Championship? How many times has he stated that it was his time, that he was ready, that he was going to be the champion that the company deserved?

And then he gave us a primary school lesson for Blood Money Two.

Let’s pause on that for a second, shall we? Besides the horrible recollection of me being drunk at a Hollywood Undead concert screaming ‘Everywhere I go, bitches always know’ from the phrase he uttered, ‘Wherever I go, I let them all know’…he repeated his goal about thirty times in the space of a minute and a half. ”I want Dickie Watson and that Empire Title”, I have a game plan that will work to take down Dickie and capture the Empire Title,” “Dickie, you are Target #1″ – despite having gone through twenty-two letters otherwise, but I digress…

Dickie raised his hand and covered his mouth in thought for a moment, shaking his head.

You were certain if you could just get rid of me, you’d get the Empire Championship. Wasn’t your most relevant phrase from that was that promotional for the show being that it was going to be your rise and the fall of the Dickie Empire? Sorry, mate. I know Blood Money 2 didn’t quite go your way. Not even in the top five, outclassed by outsiders to this company and yet…your brother had another opportunity to face me in that Epcot Dome and I still walked out of the champion. More on that later, as well. What I want to pinpoint is it doesn’t matter how many times any of you say it, it doesn’t make it any more true. How many times did Brandon Moore reinvent himself and say he was going to become something more than he was? How many times did he fall on his fucking face before losing to you, Joe?

Fucker as the audacity to state his the competition, but he’s the furthest from.

Also, the whole comment about Warstein that he was afraid to face me…look where he is and where you’re not. He didn’t have to waste one sliver of his money getting an opportunity to face me. He earned it. Something that I have a shitton of respect for.

But that’s the thing. A lot of you are fucking blowhards and you can’t evolve to meet the times. You’ve been in this business a long ass time. Far longer than my three years, and like Dane, you were the top of the pops. But you’re…unable to look at the production, the level of the people that Xavier and Miss F have brought into this company, and it’s like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution all over again. Survival of the Fittest. If you can’t adapt, then what the fuck are you doing in this business?

But let me look at this objectively, right? Twizted Thoughtz. JMont Focus. Or is it with the dollar sign? I can’t remember what version of the Insane Clown Posse I’m looking at when I see you. Six-five, two-sixty…impressive. You’re built like a roided bitch and you act like one too, in my own personal opinion. Married a stripper what, three months after fucking Dane’s wife and cucking the fuck out of him until either you or she got their head on their shoulders and stopped living Days of Our Lives. Mia is lovely, even with her…you know, Lil’ Dickie reference, but you know that phrase: you can’t make a ho a housewife. Believe me, I tried.

Another shake of his head, and Dickie moved around the outside of the fountain, following the curvature. His movements are slow and deliberate.

You’ve got the big life. The cars. The investments. The stocks. You understand business, but you don’t understand this business as well as you thought. You’re living that rapstar life, throwing parties at the Velvet Rabbit and inviting Beyonce and Jay Z, although I don’t know why they would want to attend something a wrestler put on. Or why you would invite Justin Beiber when he’s been a complete fuck up since twenty-nineteen, but you know what? Not my circus, not my monkey. You live that money, money, money lifestyle like Bezos and Musk, but without the class.

You can paint spots on a housecat, but that doesn’t make it a leopard.

This is your whole persona. The whole of you. Wrapped up in a hundred words or less. You are that big shot that flaunts themselves because they can’t flaunt anything else anymore. They can’t be remembered for the good they’ve done in the world, or their exploits and their previous experiences didn’t follow them in reputation. You won Toxic Tag, but you lost the Islands Championships to the beginnings of New Status Quo and never recovered them. You were the Queens Champion for a cup of tea, but truly, what the fuck have you done in FIGHT! to cement your own legacy?

Created a soap opera that destroys the credibility of any of the people around you.

Dragged people down into the gutter that you’re swinging in.

The fact that you have the audacity to sit there and judge someone like Shawn Warstein, or personally, any of us that you have yet to beat, have yet to face, have yet to even come up on any of us with the thought that you were going to build your own empire? Chris Page may be at your back, but he’s also behind Sebastian Everett Bryce. He’s behind Sahara. Peter Vaughn. Countless others. CCP Enterprises doesn’t exist to just build you up as a competitor, and you can’t tell me that he’s putting all his faith in you.

I can one hundred percent tell you that he isn’t. Or have you not paid attention? I bet you haven’t paid attention. That seems apropos.

Dickie stopped as the Nashville Parthenon loomed ever prominent in the background. He shoved his hands into his pockets, a rare moment that he wasn’t seen with his championship over his shoulder. But the world was a greedy and evil place. Perhaps it was in the hands of his trusty wallaby, or maybe Aiden was watching it in some corner of their hotel. Nevertheless, the Empire Champion, not formidable in stature, but certainly in status, raised an eyebrow as he continued on.

Let’s go even further back, shall we? Ascension. You may have been dealing with Dane, but as I recall…Dane was the next one to face me for the Empire Championship, not you. Not only did you say that none of New Status Quo would make it to the top of the FIGHT! Tower, but you were so certain that Paul was going to take my championship from me. What happened? Not only did all of us make it to the top, I’ve been holding this strap now since July of last year. This confidence that you feel? This bluster and this profound stupidity that you spout every time you get to face us? It’s just as fucking fake as you, man.

I’m disappointed. Disappointed that in all of this, it took us this long to face. It took you this long – we’re on the nineteenth episode of Venom, plus five special shows in between…for us to truly face. For you to somehow pay off Xavier and Miss F to not only face me in general, but in the Main Event. Maybe ten years ago, you were champion material. Now? You’re not even fit to stand across from me, let alone be in the same ring.

I’m sure you’ll say all of these grandiose statements and make sure that I’ll be your bitch at Venom. That’s what you do. That’s what you know.

I used to think it was Paul living in your shadow…but I think the tables have turned. I think it was you living in the shadows, Joe. Living in the shadow cast by Paul, who has had the gumption and the ability to stand across from me three times. He may not have won any of them, but he at least made it there. You? You’re too busy living General Hospital to put the true amount of effort you need in here.

I respect every competitor that comes across me for who they are and what they’ve done. I may not like their actions. I may respond to their bullshit with my own. But at least superficiality doesn’t exist with me. There is nothing false. I am who I say I am, and I do what I say I will do.

I’d say sorry…

He cocked his head to the side, the smile rising up on his face.

But I wouldn’t mean it.

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WOULDN’T IT BE NICE
TO PLAY THE GAME WITHOUT A CROOKED DIE?
IN A WORLD WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE TO HIDE?
YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIVE IN A DISGUISE

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The penthouse was quiet as Dickie sat on the stairs, defiant, ready to jump and escape the moment that he needed to. Amelia was sure eventually he would get so overwhelmed that he’d reject her and kick her out of his home, but that time was not now. For a second, she could hear the tick-tock of the clock on the wall. He hadn’t said more than six or seven words when she’d shown up. He’d laughed at her jokes. She’d caught him looking at her interestedly, but he never did anything. Even when she threw her legs over his because her feet barely touched the ground.

Honestly, I should be used to it by now.” He shook his head, keeping his gaze from hers. “I ruin every fucking friendship I have. I’ve been abandoned so many goddamn times that it’s just normal, and yet it still kills me. This is why I don’t put faith in anything, this is why I spend so much time being ready to jump. I spent so much time in the system, going back to the Orphanage, getting thrown away for whatever dumb shit I did, it’s like second nature to me. The people I put faith into walked. I stopped getting excited about families because I knew I’d end up back where I started. Just like I am now.

Amelia tilted her head and then moved to sit in front of him on the stairs. She didn’t say anything. There was nothing she could say. She grew up in a happy home with an older brother and a mom and a dad. Dickie’s experiences were not her own, and to say that he became something out his problems seemed somehow…pretentious. Patronizing.

I thought if I graduated university, I’d be worth something to someone. I thought if I immersed myself into their world, they’d care more. And to find that my birth father actually lived less than ten kilometers from where I grew up, and I had no idea…

What?” Amelia cocked her head to the side, incredulous. That was a new development.

Oh yeah.” He scoffed. “Nice neighborhood, brownstone. Got information from…from someone credible,” he amended for a second, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye. “Wife, two kids. They were putting up a Christmas Tree like the picture of a perfect family, smiles and glee. He works for the British Government. I could have knocked on the door, they were so close. I could have gone in there and said, ‘Hey mate, I’m your kid. You knocked up my mom and she died when I was three. Surprise!’ but that would have ruined their lives, you know? So here I am, now, mom’s dead, dad doesn’t know I exist and the people I considered friends have just disappeared like they didn’t exist.

He sighed, and his whole entire body slumped. Like he’d been holding that in for weeks. His voice had been so passionate, even if angry. He was frustrated, and he wore it in his bones more than she realized.

I don’t even get why you’re here.

If I said Aiden told me to check on you, would you believe it? Would it help?” She asked. He raised an eyebrow as if he knew that was a lie. “Okay, so he didn’t. But someone had to. Dickie, you’re not even bothering to care about your own stuff. And that’s not like you either. You slept a majority of January, you’ve sat February and March except for your required presence at FIGHT!. You can’t just disappear off the planet.

No one would notice if I did.

I think a whole company might.” She countered. “This…negative space you’ve placed yourself in…you’ve gotta come out of it. Please listen to me…I doubt highly that those people have left you. New Status Quo, you’ve all just needed to focus on yourselves for a minute. And with Blood Money 2’s result, it’s set two of you on a collision course. You’re bracing yourself for what happened last March.

Another scoff flooded from his lips. “When I lost the opportunity to get the top tier champion when I was the top tier champion for six months? Then my fucking life fell apart. Wife left because we argued one time..

At this, Amelia scoffed. “She honestly didn’t deserve you. Aiden told me how you treated her, how you supported her. A schizophrenic, right? No one knew, and you kept her secret for her.

Didn’t matter in the end, did it? She did the same thing everyone else has. I don’t get it. I really just fucking don’t. I guess I shouldn’t complain. The day I lost everything was the day I realized who I could be. It brought me into my own. I am the fucking top champion of a well-respected company and yet…it’s extremely lonely at the top. I guess that’s to be expected though, right? Eventually, you sit by yourself because no one wants anything to do with you.

Stop it.” She snapped. “No more of that. You have friends. You have people who care. Watch, Kallie has probably gotten Aiden’s stubborn butt thinking about sucking in his pride. He knows he fucked up too, I’ve heard him say it. Quietly. When he’s training, when he’s doing everything he can to fix his lackadaisical attitude. He’s been doing well in PWS: Apex, and he’s fixed it. He’ll call. And when he does, you’ll answer.

Dickie snorted.

None of that either.” She moved to sit on the step that he was on. “You are the Empire Champion. Even if they belittle you, the company looks up to you whether you see it or not. You are their face, one of the reasons people come in. They want to face you. They want the opportunity. Ashlynn Cassidy worked hard against you – she pushed and pushed. I saw that. So did Dane, and every other person in front of you. You are the standard. The one that everyone has to get past, and so far…what, two or three people have?

I don’t even remember…it’s been a while.

I know people get frustrated because you are still there, in the spot they all want to be. Even your friends want it. The opportunity to knock that championship off your shoulders…people don’t tune in because of the person facing you – maybe for Warstein – they tune in because they want to see if you succeed. Whether that’s if they want you to fail or succeed is up to their opinions, but people are going to have opinions, Dickie. Even you have opinions.

He was silent for a moment, before he lowered his head.

It’s just…easier to do this if–

Define this.

He sighed, crossing his arms over his legs and shaking his head another time. “Be this…unstoppable force, be the man that everyone can’t overcome because they’re either too stuck in their own ways, or they’re just…not there. I have to innovate, I have to be one step ahead, and it was easier when I knew I had New Status Quo behind me.

You still do.” Amelia smiled and pressed her hand to his shoulder. “Let them think you’ve dissolved. Let them think that your goals are finished, and that it’s no longer needed. Let them think what they want. But your friends? They might be far away right now, and they might not be as focused as they once were, but I think that eventually, your needs and your fight will realign. Not because you’re forced into a situation, forced into a group for the pure reason of survival, but because you all want to have the same ideals and goals. Your friends will want your championship. But it’s childish if they walk away from you because you both did your jobs. Just…get out of this headspace, okay? It’s not doing anyone any good, least of all you.

Again, he was silent. He didn’t look at her. She leaned forward then and pressed the side of her head against his shoulder.

You have me as a friend too, don’t forget.

To this, he finally laughed a little, though it didn’t sound derisive. “I wonder how Aiden feels about that. I mean, you are his sister.

He’ll get over it. Eventually.

⬈⬋⬈⬋⬈⬋

I WANT THINGS THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY
THE PRICE IS PAIN TO MAKE THIS RIGHT
AND I WOULD BUY A THOUSAND LIVES
SO YOU CAN TRY TO KILL ME
BUT I CAN’T FUCKING DIE

⬈⬋⬈⬋⬈⬋

I’m stubborn as fuck. Anyone who has ever worked with me knows that.” Dickie changed scene, walking to the steps of the Parthenon itself. He placed one foot over the other, climbing them one after the other. He stopped at the top of the stairs and turned to look back at the viewers. His eyebrow was raised. His pose determined. Regardless of wherever he was in his mind, when it came to his career, he was laser focused. A fighter, not just in the ring.

I dig my heels in when someone tells me to do something I don’t want to. It’s remarkably difficult to change my world views simply because some random person decided to post something up on social media. And when I have a goal in mind, there is nothing that can stop me but myself. Win Ascension. Win Countdown. Win Blood Money, both. I don’t come out of left field swinging gravestone epitaphs and writing up someone as a bonafide win unless I feel absolutely certain of myself.

He stopped for a moment, looking up at the decorative sculptures in the triangle of the roof.

I’m like a sculptor, if you think about it. I carve into stone deliberate strokes to create something out of nothing. When FIGHT! came on the map, it was shapeless. Formless, just like the blocks of concrete that went into making this. Every step made, every loss, every win, by all of us created the landscape that is less than a year into its birth. I have to give you that credit, Joe.

But I am the precipice.

The pinnacle.

The status quo that you all fail to reach.

I’m not speaking out of my ass. In the entirety of the company’s life, I’ve lost three matches – only one of my own failure. I know it bothers people that I don’t defend my title week in and week out, but I’m not King of the Midcard like your brother. I’ve earned the privilege of being the one it actually takes skill and desire to face. Sure, you can throw Blood Money at me and try your hand just like anyone else, just as you throw money at people and hope that the deep pockets you have will attract people that are far more intelligent and skilled than you. But you’ve had the opportunity in the past to face me, Joe. Just like Dane did.

He inclined his head, keeping his eyebrow raised as he smirked again. Clearly, he was still confident in his abilities to put Joe Montouri in a body bag. Just like he’d done every competitor in front of him.

For Countdown, if you’d bid the money, you would have had the chance to face me. The fact that people can donate to people and you still didn’t bid for it tells me a lot more about you than you can. I think, deep down, under all the gusto and the frustration and the constant repetition of you saying you’re going to defeat me and not being able to…you’re scared. Scared of what happens to you when you put all your effort in. Scared of what happens when the tables are turned and I defeat you. It’s hard to come back from the edge when you’ve had the taste of what it’s like at the top.

Oh sure, please tell me all about your history. Tell me you were the top of your game, one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. And let me tell you why that doesn’t matter in this moment, in this day, in this age. Tell me you’re the greatest thing to hit the shelves, and I’ll have a counter for all of it.

The most significant piece is the same thing I told Dane. You can have all the championships in the world, but they don’t matter when it comes to FIGHT. They don’t matter in the grand scheme of things because it’s this company that matters. What your accolades are here, what you’ve done to prioritize and push for this place. I live and breathe FIGHT. Until I lose this championship, I am the face of your desire, wants, needs, and hopes.

You’ve salivated for a chance to face me, to stand at the top of the tower where I’ve been and see what it feels like to be in such a prominent company and be recognized for what your accomplishments have been. But fear has taken hold in you. It’s caused you to repeat the same mistakes that everyone does when they fail repeatedly, over and over again. You just defeated Brandon Moore, and he noped out of FIGHT because he kept trying to be relevant, kept trying to make grandiose claims and failed miserably every time it came to facing the wrestlers of this day, this age.

With his hand, Dickie gestured, pointing his finger down with both of those statements. He shook his hand, waving it as if to say, “no, listen”.

It’s not about how much you say, it’s about what you say, Joe. We’ve learned that. My generation of wrestler has learned that you can’t repeat the same thing over and over again to make it true. You can’t repeat yourself in three different ways and hope for a good outcome because the viewers, they see it and they walk away. You’ve lost their vote. Their interest. Their desire to keep you on their televisions. You’ve stated twice that you were going to bring me down, that you were going to defeat me.

And yet Ascension came and went. NSQ stood tall. No one can kill us – you’ve heard Shawn say it over and over. The only people that can do that is ourselves. Blood Money 2 came, and you didn’t make it to the point where you could even remotely face me.

Even when I’m at my worst, I still fight for everything I’ve earned. I still put my career before everything else. I don’t have a Mia to worry about, I don’t need to hide my wife with Mama Vhodka, I don’t need to make excuses for my failures. You’ve created one for each loss, trying to hold yourself up and nonchalantly erase the history with your words. But you can’t erase what’s easily viewable. Hold on to that statement that Dane defeated me on the second Venom that ever aired because that is all any of you can hold onto. Even when I am down, when I’m not sure of my standing with my brothers and sisters, I show up.

I don’t fuck off to other companies, hoping to find success in their arms. When you jumped to XWF, I was certain it was because you weren’t getting the rubs that you were so used to getting before. When someone paid you a little bit of attention, a sliver of a prediction, a moment in the seconds of all our busy lives, you wheedled in and begged for more.

You want the opportunity because it gives you notoriety. It gives you a second where you can bask in the cheers of the crowds. It gives you a moment of happiness. I’ll give you that moment, Joe. When we step into the Main Event at the Bridgestone Arena, I’ll let the Nashville crowd eat you alive as you take in your attention. You can raise your arms, breathe in their excitement, and know for a brief second, you made it to the top. Then the fans will get the best treat of them all.

They’ll watch me tear you a new one.

Dickie smiles then, raising a hand and rubbing it under his chin. He adjusts his beanie for a second, and then moves to pull down the sleeves of his undershirt.

It doesn’t matter what version of Joe Montouri you’ve chosen for this moment. Consistency is key, staying true to who you choose to be is key. Being strong in your presence is what is key. Those open the locks that keep you from further greatness, but you’ve lost every single one of them in your adjustments to try to find the right formula.

Let’s not forget that you and your brother spent the whole of the first season of FIGHT! jumping me like little bitches unable to face anything on their own. I know you had your issues with Allison and her choosing her husband over you, which caused your midlife crisis, but you know…eye for an eye. Tooth for a tooth. Second season, you hid. And now? Now you think that you have the ability to suddenly destroy the man who has surprised every single one of you? The one every one of you is jealous of? Because that’s what this comes down to: that innate feeling of jealousy because someone has done better than you. It’s like a pinprick, but give it time, and it grows to be the biggest thorn in your side. That is where we’re at.

I’m sorry that it’s come to this, Joe. You’re so hopeful. So…idyllic and optimistic that you’re going to take out The Calamity. That you’re going to end my Empire. But I’ve never been interested in an empire. I’ve been interested in destroying every person that comes across me, because that is where power and success lie. I didn’t need to reboot who I was to defeat anyone. I didn’t need to break, didn’t need to find myself, didn’t need to change my face or my persona to fit anything.

This is the calm before the hellstorm takes you over, Joe. I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not.

He shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly, breathing calmly. Appearing calmer than he ever has.

You and your brother can share the same grueling defeat at my hands. We can call it a family trait. And maybe, just maybe, after this all you’ll gain the sliver of my respect that you’ve been hoping for.

He smirks.

Maybe. I didn’t fall into this concrete jungle to be anything less than extraordinary. And now, you’ll witness it not just on the screen, but in person.

The Era of the Calamity will continue.

You’ll be good practice for Warstein.

He raises two fingers to his brow and flicks them upwards in a mocking salute. Then, he reaches forward to the camera, pushing it down so that it moves away, panning across the ground. The last visible image is of Dickie’s combat booted feet walking away, just as he would do so after his match.

No excuses.

⬈⬋⬈⬋⬈⬋

I SAID IT’S ENOUGH
I BEGGED AND I RAN IN CIRCLES
I CLIMBED TO THE SUN
AND FELL IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE
I SAID IT’S DONE
YOU NEVER GET WHAT YOU WISHED FOR
I CLIMBED TO THE SUN AND I FELL
I FELL IN A CONCRETE JUNGLE
AND I’M THE FUCKING KING