Home Is Where The FIGHT Is

By: Sahara

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 15th Apr 2022

VENOM 19
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Backstage…

I don’t know what’s up with Miss F tonight, but she was never particularly nice to me. Until today, that is. I mean, she was always professional, but she’d never really spoken to me on any sort of personal level. Why would she? I’m not exactly the most approachable type. It was always strictly business between us, and that’s fine by me. But for some reason, she’s looking at me differently right now. Speaking to me differently. I can’t quite put my finger on why, though.

As I stood there in my ring gear warming up for my match with Ashlynn Cassidy, she came up and started talking to me, prattling on about how she was a dancer – or at least, wanted to be one – and how amazing she could have been. Why she was telling me all this, I have no idea. Apparently, she allowed a man to worm her way into her life, which derailed everything and took her down a different path. I tried my best to be nice about it, forcing a smile, but I usually use this time to amp myself up before I go out there and perform, and this was gettin’ in the way of that. I was preoccupied. Couldn’t she see that?! Besides, I don’t know what any of this dance stuff has to do with me. I mean, I get it, it seems like a reference to my husband, Thaddeus. But he hasn’t held me back from wanting to wrestle, if anything, he’s helped remind me of who I am in ways I cannot even put into words–

Wait, did she just say Ashlynn didn’t pass her fucking medical evaluation?

”Oh fuck come on”, I heard myself blurt out!

Miss F was oddly calming with her response. She told me about something she had arranged that I may not like, but probably won’t hate, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean. Heaving a sigh, I followed her through some twists and turns backstage before she led me into a rather large conference room…

”Oh, what the fuck is this,” I heard myself whisper as we enterd a room full of wrestling fans. Most were wearing t-shirts with my name on them, or holding signs they’d made for the show. Signs with my name on them. There were even a few thinly veiled sexual references to desert heat or some such nonsense. As I looked around the room, there seemed to be a legion of teenage girls with their parents, and other men and women of all ages.

Is this what they want me to do tonight? A fucking meet and greet?

Miss F reminded me that these specific fans were MY fans, and I should try to not be my usual self for once. I’m pretty sure that was her calling me a bitch without actually calling me a bitch, but whatever, she probably had a point. As I said earlier, I’m not exactly the most approachable person…

I turned, ”Miss F, I really don’t think this is necessary–” My voice trailed as I realized she wasn’t even standing next to me anymore. I turned a bit further before turning all the way around, ”Miss F?!”

Where she fuck did she go?!

”Sahara, over here,” I looked toward the voice of one of the various FIGHT production crew that remained in the room, and whoever it was, she beckoned me to take a seat behind an elongated table full of my merchandise. There were five-by-tens, shirts, markers of various colors from black to silver. It was a whole prearranged layout. The FIGHT crew attempted to keep things orderly so the fans didn’t rush me, but that didn’t stop them from holding up their phones, taking pictures or recording videos… I even heard a few positive messages blurted out, which was a bit disconcerting.

I can’t say I was expecting this. Or this sort of positive reaction. I can’t even say I understood why they set it up. I checked the time and heaved a sigh… fucking Ashlynn. Turned what woulda’ taken me less than twenty minutes into a whole fucking night of fan service…

Whatever, I thought, let’s get this over with.

I absently made motion to the first in line as I took my seat, and when I looked up, there was a little girl that was way too young to be attending FIGHT shows standing there with her mother. I suppose that goes with the territory of touring. It’s a bit harder to control who can and cannot come to our shows now that they’re not taking place in the death star that was once FIGHT tower.

Her hair was done much like my own. Or at least, they made an attempt at it. Her mother, resolutely not a blonde, was the first to speak–

”This is Katie, she’s incredibly shy, but loves you more than anything in the world.” Me? Really? She smiled as she looked down at her daughter rather proudly, ”She’s not interested in Baby Alive dolls or anything like that. The second she saw that really-really-really blonde woman wrestling on television, she said that’s what she wanted to do when she grew up! And ever since, she never misses Venom, even though we make her watch the more PG versions that bleep out the unsavory language…”

I couldn’t help but feel… wait, what did she say?! PG?

I looked up at the little girl’s mother, ”Wait, they have a PG version of FIGHT on television?!”

The woman shrugged, ”I suppose it’s like when you listen to music and they have explicit versions and radio friendly versions? All I know is the one we put on bleeps out the bad stuff… otherwise I don’t think she’d be able to watch it, considering you’re a bit of a potty mouth yourself…”

Without skipping a beat, the woman nudged her daughter forward, ”Go ahead honey–”

The little girl stepped forward, but the words never came. I sat there, staring at this little blonde girl and forced a smile. Up to that very moment, I wanted to be anywhere else. I mean, literally anywhere else. But as I looked into that little girl’s eyes, I could see the nervousness consume her, and I couldn’t help but think that little girl could have been me. I let out a sigh. I could either take a minute or two and give her a memory she won’t soon forget, or do what I usually do–

Fuck it, just this once…

”Ya know, Katie,” I reached across the table and took the little girl’s hand in mine. ”There was a day that I was so nervous when I was your age; they were gonna make me sing a song in front of the entire school, and I just wanted to throw up–” As I told the story of my childhood recital, the girl began to perk up a little. I even noted a hint of a smile. ”You know what I did right before I had to go on stage and sing?”

She shook her head no and shrugged, still too shy to speak.

”I threw up…” She giggled a little at my expense, which somehow brought a genuine smile to my face.. ”And then I sang so loud, and everyone loved it. I could still hear the applause… it was the first time I’d ever felt a crowd response. It was amazing. And I never would have felt it if I hadn’t spoken up–”

She finally opened up a bit, ”D-did you throw up right in front of everyone?!”

I let out a little laugh, ”No, I ran into the bathroom and did that in the sink. Well, more like all over the sink. And the bathroom. But what I’m tryin’ to tell you is… I was so nervous I wasn’t gonna be good enough that I made myself sick, and because of that I almost missed out on the greatest thing I’d ever experienced. The applause. I was just like you, Katie. So don’t be nervous. And don’t wait for the world to hand it to you. Take it. Even if ya gotta throw up a little to get there. Take it.” I stood up and walked around the table, kneeling down to give the little girl a hug. She nodded and cried and her mother profusely thanked me. I gave her a signed five-by-ten and an autographed shirt that was probably many sizes too big for her, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t care. I even signed the sign she’d brought to the arena before they went on their way to enjoy the remainder of the show.

It took all of two minutes to share that moment with a little girl I probably won’t remember in a day or two. A moment for me that would last a very long time for her. Who knows what would become of her, but right then and there – in that moment – I’d been reminded of something on a deeply personal level that I’d forgotten… A promise I made to myself long ago. That if I ever did get famous, I wouldn’t be like all the other famous people out there that take it for granted. I promised that no matter where I was or what I was doing, I’d always make time for my fans… it was a promise I’d broken many times over the years.

It was just another thing I’d forgotten about why we do what we do… and it’s about a whole lot more than money.

I stood up and looked out across that conference room riddled with fans – my fans – and I felt… funny. There they were, this room full of people looking at me. What the hell was it I was feeling?! Vanity? Felt it before, but it never felt like this…

I quickly realized that oh so familiar confused Sahara face was coming on so I stopped myself from thinking too much about what I was feeling and decided to go with it… if these fans would rather hang out with me instead of watching the show, so be it…

As I moved to take my seat, I could swear I spotted Miss F in the back of the room, but when I looked again, she was nowhere to be seen.

While I’m not positive I saw what I saw… I swear to God she nodded at me and smiled.

What the hell is going on here?!

~~~~~

Hey Shawn, remember me?! You know, the drunk blonde from the FIGHT Christmas Party that told you to get off your glacier-state ass and take the fight to Dickie loooooong before the big match was finally announced?! Yeah, we like to call that too little too late. Ya gotta strike when the iron’s hot… and if you two were any colder, we’d be living in a fucking ice age. Though I gotta say Scrat vs a fucking acorn would be a more interesting main event for our supershow, I am still interested in seein’ what you two got in store for us. Call it morbid curiosity, cuz if there’s one thing FIGHT knows, it’s how to deliver. Usually. Yeah, you know exactly who I am and what I’m all about. Eyes on me, Shawnie. I’m the girl that’s gonna tell you like it is, because I don’t really give a fuck if you like it or not. I ain’t here to placate this roster of fragile little egos. Any of ya wanna take your tiny little balls and go home? Then go. Leave. Sayonara, bitchs. Ya can’t hang if ya can’t swang… So go ahead, show the world you’re afraid of me like I already know you are. I know I’m under your skin, and slowly but surely, I’m gonna eat ya from the inside out. Rent free.

You already know what I’m capable of when I decide to care. And buddy… unfortunately for you, I fucking care. The thought of being in that ring with you is gonna be like being back in high-school when my boy-crush fell asleep on the bus with his head on my shoulder. Silly sounding, I know, but at that moment, I just felt all warm and fuzzy inside. Kinda like how I feel at the thought of finally steppin’ into the ring with you.

Where I belong. Forgive me if I orgasm when we lock up… I mean, the great and powerful Shawn Warstein! I can barely contain my excitement! I gotta give it to ya though, you did it, Shawn. The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t really exist. Kinda like how you convinced the world of your greatness by beating almost nobody of note the entire time I’ve known ya. I ain’t convinced like the rest of the wrestling world… so I gotta see it for myself. Call it my need to know. Cuz if you are as great as you claim to be, tell me, why the backup?! Why did ya need Watson, Granger, Raven, Raynolds and Winterborn to do what you’ve done? Great men stand alone. Cowards come with a crew. But you know what they say… maybe it’s time to fight fire with fire. That’s why you and your little crew of misfit toys formed in the first place, isn’t it?! To hold people like me down while artificially propping yourselves up? To contain those you deem a threat, while simultaneously pretending they’re not? To control the Blood Money, and thus… FIGHT itself? You even admitted it to me at the Christmas Party in case ya forgot…

But that’s why there’s a part of me that respects the hell out of you. You make no bones about it when asked. Point blank. This was and is about you. Not the NSQ, not Dickie Watson, not even sistermine…

And I fucking love that about you.

But ya made one tiny little error in judgment, and for the better part of three seasons, I sat back and watched ya get away with it. Ya see, when a man or a woman comes home from a hard day’s work, when they step through that door, they expect to see the welcoming sight of their house and their family. But one day… I opened that door and I saw you fucks sittin’ around like ya owned the place. You, Watson, Reynolds, and the rest of your half-defunct little crew. Ya came in and sat down like it was yours. But ya see, FIGHT was my home, too. It belonged to all of us. We all helped build it. It may have been a relatively new home, and maybe it wasn’t always perfect, but I knew the day I stepped foot in that building that I’d found what I’d been looking for.

And then you and your little cunt crew moved in and decided to plant your cutsie little flag and ya started tellin’ others what they could and couldn’t do… and that didn’t sit right with me.

It still doesn’t sit right with me.

Cuz when I stepped back into that building and I saw you sittin’ on MY couch, kickin’ back, enjoyin’ a drink. MY drink! With MY family! With FIGHT! You took what we all built and made it into your own little playground, and that ain’t somethin’ I’m gonna let slip anymore. For three seasons ya got away with it, but that shit’s gone on long enough.

You step into another woman’s domain and sit on her fuckin’ couch, you best not just sit there when I walk in the goddamn door, cuz I’m fixin’ for a fight. I’m talkin’ a balls out, knock down, drag out, bare knuckled, bloodbath of a fuckin’ fight the world won’t soon forget.

You look me in the eyes right now and know this shit and know it well, you got a fight comin’, Shawn, and it’s comin’ from me. Not from Paul Montuori. Not from Dickie Watson. From me! You and I are finally gonna have our night under the lights… and on Venom, I’m makin’ a statement all over your ass.

What statement, you ask? That FIGHT ain’t the Shawn and Dickie show no more…

And whether ya like it or ya don’t like it, FIGHT is MY everything, and I’m takin’ back what’s MINE. Sahara versus Warstein is where it always shoulda’ been. Our names in the marquee in big bold letters. You know, the match you said would never happen cuz you got nothin’ to gain by it? You may have nothin’ to gain, but you sure as hell got a lot to lose…

And make no mistake, I’ll walk through the gates of Valhalla to make sure you do. We coulda’ done this at Ascension, Shawn… in front of the world on the biggest stage, but you robbed me of that moment, and I can’t help but wonder why? Just another example of the kinda games you play when facin’ an opponent that might just bring it. We shoulda’ been a BIG match for the BIG time, though I suppose I can accept kickin’ your teeth down your throat on a random Venom. My advice? Run coward… run. Cuz the big bad Shawn Warstein is about to get his ass whipped by that tiny little meaningless Sahara.

And let’s call it like it is… since the day I faced off against the savior of the New Status Quo, James Raven – and beat him – you’ve been afraid to step in the ring with me, cuz you know damn well I ain’t about to phone this one in. Not with you. You’d better be ready to go, boy… cuz you’re another match away from showin’ the world you’ve lost your stride… and with each passing day, this whole Shawn vs Dickie dream match scenario becomes even more of a snoozefest when the big-bad contender can’t even beat the people he calls meaningless…

I’ve been doin’ this far too long to let a person such as yourself act like I’m nothin’. That my name means nothin’. And that I’ve accomplished nothin’. I ain’t askin’ for your respect no more, Shawn… I’m telling you that you’re giving it to me. Maybe I got a chip on my shoulder. Maybe I got somethin’ to prove. And yeah, maybe I ain’t all that likable, but I am gonna show the world that I belong in there with you. We’re gonna go to war in that ring, Shawn… so I suggest you don’t go bringin’ a gun to a nuke fight, cuz I’m about to be launching ballistic missiles all up in your ass!

~~~~~

VENOM 19
Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN
Still Backstage…

It was about two hours into the show, but I remained in that room with those crazy Sahara fans, taking it all in. I could hear the roar of the crowd from time to time, and would look up at the monitors to see the action as only FIGHT could deliver.

I made sure every last person in that line had a few minutes with me, just as Miss F would have expected. Some of the fans went back to their seats to enjoy the show while others remained, milling about and talking to each other. Telling stories. Sharing some laughs. That’s what this is all about. That’s the part I stopped seeing. It’s so simple, yet so easy to overlook. One thing’s for certain, FIGHT sure as hell saw something in me worth salvaging or they wouldn’t have bothered with all of this…

As time went on, a bit of a impromptu Q and A session started up to button up the night, and I found myself sitting on the edge of the signing table with a mic–

I sighed, contemplating how I wanted to respond to a question about wrestling for FIGHT…

”What’s it like wrestling for FIGHT?” I repeated the question as I looked out across the room where quite a few fans remained. ”Okay, let’s approach this like this… what’s my job?! Anyone?!”

A few random responses such as ‘tell stories’, or ‘sell tickets’, were blurted out.

”Well, yes and no. Yes to all of that, but also no. That’s not my job. I thought it was, but that’s just a small part of it. Until a couple weeks ago, I thought the only thing that mattered in this business was the money, so I’ve been askin’ myself that question for quite a while now cuz it’s no secret I no longer need money. I’ve been lookin’ for something to hang onto, something to keep me goin’. Something… more. And until someone reminded me, I’d forgotten what my job really was. I’d forgotten what made me strong out there in that ring.

”To put it simply, my job is to go out there and make sure YOU fans have to tell them – and by them I mean the promoters – that I not only belong here, but that I belong at the top of here…

”That whether the Watson’s or the Warstein’s or the Preston’s or the Montuori’s wanna admit I’m on their level or not doesn’t matter. What matters is you fans look at me and KNOW that I am. That you look at me and KNOW I belong in that ring with the best of the best. That I’m on their level if not above it. ”At the end of the day, my job is to make YOU fans DEMAND you get to see me in the main event where I belong… and that’s how you climb the ladder in this business. And that’s what it’s like working for FIGHT.”

I took a few moments to let my words sink in, and waited as a bit of applause settled down.

”I did great things in this business. Things almost nobody remembers… and that makes me sad at times. The people I once knew. The people I once wrestled with or against have been lost in time. They were great people that did great things. And we did those things back then because we loved doing it. This was long before FIGHT, or the XWF or you name the promotions of today. It was before the kind of money you see thrown around these days. It was before social media and streaming. We busted our asses out there cuz we loved it… and we wanted to make you fans scream… ”Yanno, you guys don’t know this yet because FIGHT hasn’t released the next bookings, but I know, and since you fine fans remained with me in this room, I’m gonna tell ya before the rest of the world knows…”

I looked over to the FIGHT production crew and shrugged, ”I’mma be facin’ off against Shawn Warstein next week on Venom–” The resounding pop from the fans in that room brought on a smile. ”Cuz you fans demanded it, you finally got it… I know, it shoulda’ already happened, but I’ll take what I can get.”

‘Kick his ass!’ Someone yelled out from the back of the room. I pointed to the back–

”I’m sure as hell gonna do that! But I gotta come ready. They say to know your weaknesses… and if you’re the type that thinks they have none, then that is your weakness. We’ve all got ‘em. Even Shawn. They’re lurking somewhere. It’s swallowing that pride within and admitting it that hurts so damn much. It’s accepting the reality that we aren’t perfect, no matter how great that mirror may look. Believe me, I’ve got my flaws.”

There was a bit of laughter in the room, which I acknowledged with a smile.

”Yeah, yeah, I know… it’s not like I hide my flaws like others around here, right? Mine? Mine are right there out in the open. A blend of my own self-interest combined with my perception of the competition. If I’m interested, and I believe they’re worthy, I’ll be better than the best. And trust me when I tell ya Shawn’s worthy. But when I’m not interested, no matter how mediocre they may be, I’ll be even worse. I’ve always been that way. And it’s a flaw. Ever since I was a little girl pitching in little-league, I mean, what girl didn’t wanna play pitcher after seeing the Bad News Bears and watching that badass little Tatum O’Neal wipe out the boys? Yeah, I know the reference is a bit dated, but you all get the picture I’m tryin’ to paint.

”That’s when I first discovered my fatal flaw. That’s when I recognized that I tend to play up or down to my competition. I knew it then… if I was playing the league joke of a team – and there’s always one of those – I’d half ass it. I’d throw half as hard as I knew I could… because I usually didn’t have to worry.”

”And that’s where those flaws tend to creep up and bite ya on the ass…”

I paused for a moment and looked out across the fans that remained in that room.

”It all hinges on that word… usually.

”I usually didn’t have to worry when phonin’ it in, but every so often, ya run into the unusual. Like Paul Montuori for instance. He came ready. He came to fight. He came to put on a show, and put on a show he did. And we all know how that turned out. I got my ass kicked. And I deserved it.

”Just like when that joke of a team somehow plays the game of their lives, and they’re absolutely juicing my half-assed two-seamer. That’s a sinker ball to you. It’s a fastball where you lace your index and middle fingers over the seams to generate downward rotation, and that causes the ball to sink right when it approaches the plate. Anyway, if a sinker is pitched properly, low in the zone, it’s like hitting a bag of cement. It usually results in a slow rolling grounder that shouldn’t leave the infield. ”Well, on that particular day, they were leaving the f’n park…”

I nodded, acknowledging the laughter that filled the room.

”Yeah, it wasn’t pretty. ”But on the flip side of that coin, when I thought the team I was facing was unbeatable?

”That’s when I was at my very best. And that’s why I can promise ya this… love him or hate him, Shawn Warstein is one of the very best. And I plan on wrestling my ass off to prove to each and every one of you that I belong out there with him. Yeah, we can both talk shit with the best of ‘em, but when it comes down to it, when that bell rings, I know he’s gonna bring it. But so am I. I’m gonna prove my name belongs right up there alongside his. I’m gonna prove to Miss F and everyone else that ever fought for me… that ever believed in me. I’m gonna prove that FIGHT made the right choice in keepin’ me around when I know damn well they coulda’ and probably shoulda’ let me go…

”I realize I’m a bit of a pain in the ass… okay, maybe I’m a lottabit a pain in the ass as my good friend Ricky might say. But I’m also fucking great at this. ”You want the best? You got the best right here in FIGHT. From Warstein to Bryce, to the remaining Montuori to Rodriguez. Michelle. Ashlynn. And all the rest. Some haven’t yet had the pleasure. Others haven’t yet felt the pain. ”I’m one of the very best you’ve ever seen… and I promise ya, I’m gonna give this one my everything…”

After the Q and A, I spent the remainder of my time with those fans watching Dickie Watson defeat Joe Montuori, adding in unnecessary but funny commentary along the way. Well, we all thought it was funny.

It was an interesting Venom, to say the least.

I may not always be this nice to wrestling fans, but these particular fans were mine. They belonged to me, and I to them… so for one night I pressed pause on bitch.

I’m not sure why Miss F or the rest of the brass at FIGHT set this thing up… but I’m glad they did.

Of course, I’d never actually tell them that…