Pushing The Limits Of Toughness

By: Centurion

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 29th Apr 2022

In the words of a famous philosopher – “it’s a bitch getting old.”

Those words ring throughout Centurion’s head as he sits in the hot tub of his Chicago apartment. This is not a “sexy time with the ladies” kind of hot tub night; rather, it’s a “you’ve been doing rehab on your hip for the past two hours and you need to loosen the muscles” type of night. 

Several weeks ago, while defending his UGWC World Championship, Centurion felt pain in a region near his lower back. He did not think much of it, considering he’s a pro wrestler in his 40’s, these things happen. So, he fought through it. After two more matches later that week, however, Centurion found himself in the hospital with pain in his abdomen that felt like an alien was about to burst out and start singing showtunes. 

It was discovered that Centurion had something known as Psoas Syndrome. Essentially, Centurion injured the Psoas Muscle – a long muscle that extends from the lower back to the femur, and moves through the hip and upper leg region. Injuring that muscle can initially feel like simple back or hip pain. Untreated, however, Psoas Syndrome can start causing pain in the kidneys and colon, making it often misdiagnosed. The treatment?

Rest, followed by physical therapy. Generally pro wrestling isn’t on the list of activities to do while trying to heal, but Centurion is the Fight NYC Bareknuckle Champion – the last title he holds after a rather disappointing stretch of months – and he’s not looking to give that up anytime soon.

Centurion has his eyes closed as he tilts his head up toward the ceiling, allowing the water jets of the hot tub to hit his aching muscles. He feels himself slightly dozing off when the sound of the bathroom door opening causes him to open his eyes. Into the room steps Ruby, holding a cup of tea, which she walks over to Centurion and places next to him.

You know what the worst part of this rehab process is?” A frustrated Centurion asks as he grabs the cup of tea.

Not being able to drink?” Ruby responds in a voice that shows she has had this conversation before, perhaps many times.

Not being able to drink!” Centurion quickly yells out, unphased by Ruby’s response. “I honestly think that’s causing everything to hurt even more than it normally world.”

“…yeah.” Ruby says after a pause, betraying the fact that she thinks this would have been common knowledge. “It’s called withdrawal. Happens to a lot of people when they quit drinking.” 

No, no.” Centurion raises his finger and moves it back and forth. “It happens to alcoholics. I’m not an alcoholic.”

Ruby just smiles as she lightly pats Centurion on the top of the head. “Sure you’re not, dear.” Ruby reaches into her pocket and pulls out a USB drive which she also sets down next to Centurion. Centurion takes a sip of his tea before setting it back down. He then picks up the USB drive and looks at it.

What is this?” Centurion asks as he moves the drive back and forth through his fingers.

Scouting report on Aiden Reynolds.” Ruby says as she begins to rub Centurion’s shoulders. “Nellie sent that over. Wanted you to watch it as you soak in here.”

Centurion looks at the drive for a few more seconds before tossing it nonchalantly to the side. Ruby doesn’t even flinch – as if that was the reaction she was expecting.

That could have been an email.” Centurion says with a slight laugh in his voice. “Also, what makes her think I haven’t been doing my research already. All I’ve had is time. I think I’ve watched every Aiden Reynolds match…ever.

She’s nervous.” Ruby says in a calm tone. “She blames herself for your most recent losses. She says she should have known you were hurt and pulled the plug in the matches, as if you would have let her do that.

Yeah, really.” Centurion says as he grabs his cup of tea once again. “If she would have so much as suggested I forfeit or no show any of those matches, I would have fired her.”

No, you wouldn’t have.” Ruby quickly responds. “But you wouldn’t have listened to her, I know that.” Centurion gives a slight grin, knowing Ruby is correct, before taking another sip of tea. Ruby, meanwhile, continues the conversation. “You can’t blame her for being nervous about this match. Your first match since leaving the hospital, and it’s a title match on a pay per view against an opponent you barely know. All of the worst case scenarios are rolling through her head right now.”

She needs to have a little more faith in me.” Centurion says as he sets his tea back down next to him. “And you need to have more faith in me, too. I can feel your negative aurora. It’s really bringing the vibes down.”

Centurion goes to say more, but Ruby squeezes hard into Centurion’s shoulders, causing him to wince in pain. He recoils from her and gives a slight laugh, but Ruby just shakes her head.

You can’t just start using the word ‘vibes’ now that Erin taught you what it means!” Ruby says in a half joking, half angry tone. “And I have plenty of faith in you, but I saw you in that match against Jason Cashe. Even you have to admit it didn’t look good.”

It didn’t feel good.” Centurion responds in a much more serious tone. “It’s weird – I’ve wrestled through injuries before. I’ve torn things in my knee and finished the match. I fought through having my thumb being bit off. But those were pains I could feel and push aside. This hip thing, it wasn’t so much the pain, but rather, it felt…locked. Like, when I tried to go for a move, my leg wouldn’t react. It was the first time that ever happened to me.”

Then why didn’t you tell us after the match?” Ruby says in a quizzical tone.

Because I didn’t think it was a big deal.” Centurion says as he shrugs his shoulders. “I thought it was just another case of tight muscles, maybe something pulled, and if I told either you or Nellie, you would have a massive freak out and worry about me for the next 48 hours, and I didn’t want that.”

So instead you wait until the pain is excruciating and have to be rushed to the hospital.” Ruby bites back with a tone similar to a teacher. 

Centurion sits in silence for a few seconds, picking up his tea and taking a sip before answering. “...I didn’t say it was the best decision I’ve ever made. But there’s nothing we can do about it now. We would have ended up in this same situation regardless of what decision I made. I just have to move on and get ready for Reynolds.”

What do you know about him?” Ruby asks, all too willing to change the conversation. 

Tough guy.” Centurion says as he readjusts himself and closes his eyes once more. “Decent potential. VERY Australian. Like, AGGRESSIVELY Australian. You know, the kind of Australian that approaches you in a khaki vest and yells “Oi, how’s it goin’? Got any veg-ee-myte?” Like, THAT Australian.”

Ruby blinks a few times as she stares at Centurion in confusion. “I’m afraid I don’t follow.”

There are multiple types of Australians.” Centurion continues, as if he is a professor in a college course. “You have the beach bums. The ones who like to surf and tan. They’re pretty much just Californians, only more understandable. Then you have the Half Brits. These are folks that are technically Australian, but if you met them in a public place somewhere, you wouldn’t be able to figure out which of the Commonwealth Countries they were from. These are usually the Australians that have lived in Florida for the past 10 years. And then you have the Aggressively Australians. These folks think Crocodile Dundee was a poser. They want to fight and wash their bodies with sandpaper, and they will call you the C word OFTEN.”

Oh,” Ruby says as she starts to catch on. “So like, Noah Jackson.”

Kind of.” Centurion responds. “Think Noah Jackson if you left him out in the sun for several days. That’s Aiden Reynolds. Just a tough, gritty dude, which explains why he was linked with New Status Quo.”

Oh, he’s in NSQ?” Ruby questions.

“…maybe?” Centurion responds, unsure of himself. “He’s either IN NSQ or he was FIGHTING NSQ. I’m going to be honest, most of these folks over in Fight are so interchangeable I can’t tell one from the other. If I remember correctly, he was about to fight Dickie Watson. One of those two is in NSQ. I could easily Google it to figure out which is which, but I like…don’t REALLY care. All I know is he’s turned some heads with some important people, so he must be pretty tough.”

Right.” Ruby nods. “And you’re going to fight him…on one leg.”

My leg will be fine by the time the match comes around.” Centurion says, reassuringly. “It will be sore, but it should be worked out enough by that point that I don’t risk injuring anything. Besides, I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of “moves” and “holds” in this match. I think this is going to be two dudes just punching each other in the face really hard.

Great.” Ruby says sarcastically. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Before Centurion can respond to Ruby’s cynicism, the sound of a buzzer is heard. Centurion opens his eyes and curiously glances over at the location of the sound – a metal speaker box with a button on it. The buzz was from someone outside the building seeking permission to use the lift that leads to Centurion’s luxury apartment. Ruby stands up and walks over to the box and presses the button.

Hello! Apartment of Andy Cortinovis.

Don’t say that!” Centurion yells as he quickly turns to Ruby. “You don’t know who that is! What if that’s some creep looking to stalk me, or a photographer looking for that big story? You can’t just be giving away our…

Before Centurion can continue, the voice on the other end of the box speaks. It is a low, soft spoken British voice, but one that sends chills down Centurion’s spine. It’s a voice he has heard many times before, from both an advisory and an ally. It was the voice…

…of the mysterious Mr. Blue.

Delivery for Mr. Cortinovis…from an old friend.”