The End Is Near
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 27th Dec 2021
“War” was the perfect name for it.
The ongoing feud between Chris Page and Centurion has spread over 10 years, through five wrestling promotions, and has lead to gallons of blood being spilled throughout multiple continents. At Countdown, the final pay per view of the year for Fight! NYC, the biggest, most important match, and perhaps the final match of the ongoing war, will take place. And it won’t be a normal match. It won’t be a Falls Count Anywhere match. It will be a War of Independence Match, a match Centurion created, but hasn’t competed in in years. It is one of the most brutal matches in professional wrestling – one that has legitimately ended careers in the past.
We open up inside the old C&C Inc. Training Facility in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The gym has been cleared out, leaving a replica of the War of Independence structure inside. Standing in the middle of the ring, looking out of the first cage, is Centurion. He isn’t in his usual former attire, but rather is wearing a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. He is looking up at the top of the cage, to get a measure as to its height, then back down at the sea of tables and weapons that are littered between the cage and the cell.
“So, this is the War of Independence cage.”
Centurion looks up toward the entrance of the building to see Ruby walking toward the ring. Centurion steps out of the ring and the cage and leans up against the inside wall of the cell, facing Ruby.
“When did you get in?” Centurion inquires, surprised by Ruby’s presence. “I just assumed you were going to wait in Chicago until I got back.”
“I couldn’t sleep.” Ruby says in a tired voice. “I caught a red eye flight and got here this morning. My mind has been racing for the past week, and sitting in that apartment all alone was driving me mad.”
“You’re not alone.” Centurion says in a joking way. “You have Athena and Garnet to keep you company!” Ruby glares back at Centurion, clearly not in the mood for any sort of jokes or side comments. She walks up to the cell wall and puts her fingers through the holes as she looks in to see the various weapons spread about.
“Are these all the weapons that you’ll have?” Ruby questions as she looks at the Singapore canes, tables, barbed wire, and hammers that are lying on the floor.
“Only the tables are guaranteed.” Centurion responds. “Back in the beginning, the tables were the only weapons, but since they got rid of the ladder at the top of the cell, they decided to change things up and add the weapons to compensate for that. Neither I nor Page knows what’s actually going to by lying around here.”
“That’s good.” Ruby says, sarcastically. “So there could be knives and swords and things like that lying around, and you won’t know until you step into the cage, right?”
“Well…” Centurion responds hesitantly. “I guess technically, yeah, but I doubt Fight would do that. Even if we sign waivers, the company actively putting deadly weapons out there would be a huge headache for them. Besides, they have a lot of money tied up in Chris Page, and if he were to get stabbed by a weapon they placed there themselves, they would be scrambling.”
“But they have no money invested in you.” Ruby says, factually.
“They’re making money off of me.” Centurion answers back. “And they have treated me real well every time I’ve come to visit, so it’s not like they’re going to be trying to screw me or anything. I think they want me to come back again at some point, which wouldn’t…”
“Back out.” Ruby says, cutting Centurion off.
Centurion let’s out a slight laugh, thinking that Ruby’s request was mostly a joke based on the dangers of the match. “Yeah, right.” Centurion looks Ruby in the eyes, and instantly can tell she’s not joking. The smile washes away from Centurion’s face as he realizes his girlfriend is asking him not to take part in the biggest match of the year. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“There’s still time.” Ruby says back in a panicked tone. “You’re not signed to Fight. There is no contract that you’d be breaking. All that would happen is that you would forfeit the money, and you don’t NEED the money.”
“Ruby…” Centurion says in a comforting tone. “I’ve been building towards this match for almost a decade. Page and I have had two matches this year that all lead to this. I’m not going to back out. I’m going to be fine...”
“I don’t want to hear that you’re going to be ‘fine’!” Ruby yells, cutting Centurion off. “I don’t want to hear that you’re going to survive, and that you’ll heal, and every other excuse you make before you sign up for one of these crazy matches. None of those are guarantees! You have no idea what you’re stepping into!”
“I DO know what I’m stepping into!” Centurion yells back, no longer in a comforting mode. “I know this is going to be Hell! Just like our first two matches! But that’s part of the business.”
“No, it’s not “part of the business!” Ruby replies. “Certain things are out of our control in this business, but this? You purposely signed up for this. You and Chris Page decided long ago that one of you isn’t coming out of this thing alive.”
Centurion steps away from the cell wall and paces back and forth. At the moment, none of Ruby’s concerns are getting through to him. In fact, he’s angry at the fact that she is so concerned about his well-being that she would actually ask Centurion not to compete in the match. Centurion runs his hands through his hair as he let out a deep breath.
“Don’t you understand?!” Centurion forcibly asks. “I have been pushed and pushed and pushed so much for so long, and there’s only so much someone can take. You don’t think I wanted this to be over when we were in Greece? Of course I did! But Page couldn’t let it go, and I’m not going to let him walk around, telling people he scared me off!”
“You have nothing to gain from this.” Ruby says. “You already have your career etched in stone! You’ve proven to be one of the best wrestlers in the world even after your 40th birthday! Who cares if he wants to troll you on Twitter! Let him have it!”
“This isn’t about wrestling!” Centurion screams back. “It’s about being A MAN! How could I ever look myself in the mirror again if I let Chris Page get away with everything he’s done? How could I talk about any wrestler, and say how I’m going to beat them, if I back down from this challenge? How could I tell Nellie to never let the world get in the way of her dreams if she sees me backing out of my biggest challenge yet?”
“So, what?” Ruby questions in an aggressive tone. “You’re going to put your life on the line for pride?”
“Yes!” Centurion is quick to answer.
“TO HELL WITH YOUR PRIDE!”
Centurion is stunned by Ruby’s response. It is the first time he has ever heard her curse, and also the first time he has truly seen her be angry. Ruby, for her part, does not seem to regret her tone. In fact, her face shows her complete frustration and rage. Centurion knows he can’t go off topic, or else Ruby may snap even further.
“I know you’re scared.” Centurion says in a calm and sympathetic voice. “But you have to trust me. I know I may act like an idiot sometimes, but I promise you, I do know what I’m doing. Chris Page isn’t the first person to threaten my life and my career, and this isn’t the first time I’ve stepped into this structure.”
“I don’t care what you’ve done before.” Ruby responds, calmer than before, but still with a bit of anger in her voice. “I wasn’t there. But I’m here now, and I want to keep you around for a lot longer. The horrible decisions you made in your past got you here, but you don’t have to keep making those mistakes. You don’t have to do any of this.”
The anger slowly begins to fade from Ruby, as sadness begins to take hold. Her angry eyes begin to well up, but she keeps it together. Centurion walks back up to the cell wall and places his fingers over Ruby’s, interlocking them through the chain link wall. Centurion takes a deep breath and exhales before looking Ruby in the eyes.
“Look…” Centurion says in a soft voice. “I love you. You’re the greatest thing to ever happen to me, and I would do anything for you…but you have to let me do this. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me in this match, but I know I have to try. If I don’t, there would be no coming back from that. I’d rather lose than not try.”
Ruby puts her head down, knowing that this is not a fight she can win. She places her forehead against the steel of the cell and just lets it sit there for a few seconds. Neither of the two say anything. In fact, neither of them so much as move, allowing the moment to just wash over them. Ruby lets out one sniffle, and stifles the rest of her tears before looking up at Centurion once more.
“Ok, fine.” Ruby says in a resigned voice. “But you make sure you come back to me. You need to promise me nothing terrible is going to happen to you.”
“Well, I can’t...”
“Promise!” Ruby yells back, interrupting Centurion. “You promise me you’re going to be alright, Andy Cortinovis. And you mean it. You promise this to me right now, or I swear I’m hopping on the next plane to Canada, and you’ll be going on this journey alone. You’re a lot of things, but you would never break a promise. I know that about you. So, you need to promise me right now that everything is going to be ok, and that you’re going to be walking through that curtain at the end of the night.”
Centurion places his head against the cell, and the two have their faces inches apart, but the cell wall separates them. Centurion kisses the only part of Ruby he can – her fingers – before closing his eyes. He knows what might happen to him. He knows there’s a chance things don’t go smoothly, and that he is heading into a world of pain that he may never recover from. A smarter man would back out. A smarter man would retire from the business, marry Ruby, and never have to worry about these things ever again.
But in a battle between brains and pride, pride has won out, and now Centurion is forced to make a promise he doesn’t know he can deliver on.
——You Came To Me In A Dream Last Night——
We reopen inside the same location we just were – inside of the model War of Independence structure. This time, however, there is no Ruby, and all the main lights in the building have been turned off. Instead, two spotlights shine on the structure, illuminating Centurion. He stands between the cage and the cell, and he leans up against the cell part of the structure, looking directly into the camera with intensity as he speaks.
“This is where I’m supposed to say my back is against the wall. It’s where I’m supposed to say that I’m in desperation mode, a must win situation, and all of my chips are on the table. It’s what Chris Page is expecting me to say. Hell, it’s what everyone is expecting me to say.
Sorry…you’re not going to get that from me.
Is this the biggest match of the year? Absolutely. Is this the biggest match of my career? You could argue that. But there is something that I have going for me that Chris Page doesn’t have the luxury of, and that’s the fact that I’m playing with house money.”
Centurion paces away from the spot he is standing in, stepping over various weapons and past several tables as he speaks.
“And I have you to thank for that, Page. You are the one that has allowed me to enter this match with absolutely no pressure on me. It didn’t have to be this way. In fact, I should be entering this match with the weight of the world on my shoulders, in desperate need of a victory in order to validate my career. But you couldn’t allow that to happen, Page…because you couldn’t shut the fuck up.
You couldn’t shut the fuck up the first time we faced off, either, when you didn’t just guarantee a victory, but you guaranteed a burial of my career. You had to go that one step further, didn’t you? You won the match, clean, in the middle of the ring, and that SHOULD have been enough for you…but you weren’t able to bury me and you weren’t able to stop my momentum. I lost that match and shrugged it off like it was nothing, and that pissed you off more than anything in the world. You don’t want to just beat people physically, but you want to beat them mentally and emotionally…and you failed to do that.
And you couldn’t shut the fuck up before our match in Greece, when you promised to embarrass me in front of a pseudo home crowd. You weren’t satisfied with winning the first match, oh no – you wanted to spill my blood and leave me broken, battered, and destroyed. You didn’t want me to leave Greece under my own power, and you agreed to a Falls Count Anywhere, no disqualification match. A match…that you lost.
And I was prepared to just leave it there, Page. I was ready to turn a corner and never see you again. You could move on with your life, and I could move on with mine, and we would never have to have this battle again…but then you couldn’t shut the fuck up once more.”
Centurion bends over and picks up a metal baseball bat. He inspects it for a few seconds, hitting off the cage wall to test its durability and to prove it’s legitimate before tossing it back down onto the floor, leaving a very loud “clang” in its wake.
“Despite all of this. Despite failing in your goals on two separate occasions, you still have the audacity to run around, telling everyone that I’m a nobody, that I’m not in your league, that I’m not deserving of the “legend” title, and that you’re going to destroy me and bury my career once and for all. Let’s gloss over the fact that you’re full of shit, and you know it, and focus primarily on the fact that you broke the first rule of professional wrestling – don’t bury your opponent so bad that there is no winning scenario for you. You could have just said you would win this match, Page, but you always have to act so fucking hard when the camera are around you, don’t you? So now, you not only have to win, but you have to send me out in a body bag, a goal you KNOW you can not accomplish. I’ll get into the reasons why I’m going to win in a minute, but you’re already in a losing scenario, because no matter what happens in this match, I will keep marching forward. I will keep wrestling, and keep picking up wins, and keep getting my title shots, and all this match will be is another empty threat delivered by Chris Page. You’re not going to kill me, Page. You couldn’t even kill Robert Main’s career. Hell, the only thing you were successful in killing was the WGWF.”
Centurion runs his hand over the chain link of the inside steel cage, allowing the cold and jagged metal to run over his skin.
“I know you’ve already talked about me, Page. Fight! NYC does a wonderful job telling people about the promotional materials that have been released by their talent. I would have loved to watch it – but it was too damn long. I saw the run time equaled damn near 7 hours, and I just said “fuck it”. No one has that kind of time to burn, but I can probably take a guess as to what you said about me. It’s very likely the same exact things you said about me the first two times, because for as much as you pride yourself on being a shit talker in this business, you have lost your edge in recent years, and you’ve become more predictable. Anyway, what did you say about me?
I’m boring? I’m a career mid-carder that’s not on your level? I’ve lost a step? Am I hitting most of the bases? That’s the thing – for someone that everyone because of your “quick whit” and ability to bury someone, you somehow managed to just repeat the same shit everyone else says about me. Though, I guess that’s better than admitting the truth. That would hurt your “badass that thinks he’s the greatest” persona. The truth?
You’ve obsessed with me. You don’t like me – that’s clear – and you don’t think I deserve the success I’ve achieved, but there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re not sure why I’m able to win so many matches, or keep being relevant in my 20th year in the business, but you know I am, and it pisses you off. You don’t want to respect me, but there’s that little voice in the back of your head that keeps nagging you about me, and anytime you see me on television, or on social media, or backstage at a show, that voice creeps back up and needles you. You don’t actually think you can end my career, no matter how badly you want to, so instead, you’re just going to create your own reality that involves me being irrelevant. Centurion winning matches and being a fan favorite across the world? Not in the Page Reality, he isn’t. Centurion is a legend who won more matches in the XWF than anyone in history. Nope, in Page Reality, he accomplished nothing. Centurion is highly respected by wrestlers that have never even been in the ring with him? No, in Page Reality, everyone thinks he sucks and thinks he’s nothing more than a jobber. Hell, at this rate, I’m surprised you don’t tell everyone you rightfully won the presidency and command your little minions to storm the Capital in your honor. Oh, and speaking of your little minions…”
Centurion walks up to a wooden table and sits down on it. Centurion bounces a little bit to show how sturdy and solid the table is before looking back into the camera and continuing his speech.
“I find it funny that you call me boring, when you have to surround yourself with younger talent with much more charisma than you just to carry one of your promos. I don’t have anything personal against any of the people that decided to bow down to you and lick your nuts. They’re morons who have zero grasp of history and don’t understand that they’re nothing more than profit machines for you, but I don’t make it a habit to beat up people just because they’re idiots. Trust me, I have been taking notes – I saw Betsy Granger reach out to you after she dropped the ball against me. I saw Elijah Martin join your little club as a last ditch effort to try and beat me since he CLEARLY can’t do it on their own. I see Sahara attempting to throw away what little dignity she has left in order to have someone tell her she’s important, even if it’s all bullshit. I see the horrible business decision Candice Wolf is making by attaching herself to you. And I see Thaddeus Duke wave his pom poms for you, latching on to you, hoping you’ll be the father figure in his life that he desperately craves. I notice them all, and I’m keeping tabs on them…but that’s for down the line. That’s after you turn your back on them and discard them like yesterday’s trash like you normally do. That’s for when you send their career into the gutter, and they reach out for another veteran to try and pick them back up, and they find they no longer have a sympathetic ear to speak into.
You had the option to age gracefully, but you decided not to take that option. Instead, you decided to suck the youth out of younger superstars like you’re some kind of punk rock vampire, and when you get REALLY mad, you put on shitty face paint and make yourself look like an old guy who stumbled his way into the Gathering of the Juggalos. The biggest embarrassment about your quick descent into a midlife crisis, however, has to be the fact that you’ve gone from being one of the most cunning, maniacal individuals who could exploit every weakness a human being had…to being simply nothing more than a Twitter troll who tries to bate reactions. You’ve gone from being one of the best in the world to being the YouTube comment section. If the Chris Page of 2011 saw what the Chris Page of 2021 would become, he would have taken him out back behind the shed and shot him in the fucking head. Instead, it’s the Page of 2011 that’s been euthanized, and this complete shell of what once was remaining in its place.”
Centurion hops off the table and walks back toward the cell wall, putting his fingers through the chain link as he pulls himself as close to the wall as possible.
“Does it upset you, Page, knowing that we’re about the same age with close to the same level of experience, and yet my star is rising, while yours is falling? Does it upset you knowing I have the likes of Level Up wrestling and UGWC hitting up my cell phone every day, asking me when I’m available to compete in the ring? Does it upset you knowing I’m not even signed to Fight!, and yet they’re willing to throw all the money in the world at me just to make sure I make this match? Face it, Page – I’ve become what you want to be. You’re not the blueprint – I am. That’s why you demanded that match in Greece. That’s why you begged the Black family to reach out to me for this match. You may think you’re better than me, but you also see me achieving what you’ve been trying to accomplish since Robert Main put your shoulders on the mat – only I’m cashing in on those opportunities.
Good work going after the Ramsey’s, though. I’m sure you really struggled fighting back the challenge from two people who make Atara Themis’ relationships look functional. I have no ill will at all toward Todrick or Austin. In fact, I happen to like them as human beings, and I think the world of them and their future potential…but don’t act like beating them was somehow equal to the opponents I have slain in recent months. You downplay my opponents because you don’t know them, but trust me – some of them are up there with the best in the business today. If you don’t think folks like Lucy Wylde or Rogan MacLean could beat folks like Austin and Todrick, you’re not paying attention. Or, you’re just lying, which would be par for the course for you. I’m sure, when I beat Donovan Hastings and become the UGWC World Champion, you’ll find a way to bury that entire fucking federation just to make yourself feel special.”
Centurion takes a deep breath and looks up to the ceiling. He says nothing for a few second, before exhaling and lowering his head to face the camera once more.
“So, here we are, Page. Ten years’ worth of tension. One year worth of insults, sneak attacks, and matches. What now? How does this end? You beat me again? Big deal. You make me bleed? Guess what, homeslice…”
Centurion walks up to one of the glass tables and runs his hand over top of it. Then, in one swift motion, he punches the table, shattering the glass. Centurion lifts his hand back up, revealing a bloody and cut up hand. He looks at it for a bit before showing it off to the camera.
“…there’s no amount of pain you can do to me that I haven’t already done to myself. I’ve been through Hell, Page. I’ve experienced more pain and suffering in my lifetime than I would ever wish on my worst enemy. I lost my wife. I lost my son. I was once a social pariah that was so outcasted that my own sister wouldn’t talk to me. I’ve gone from owning my own casino and my own empire to watching it all crumble around me, and I’ve risen through those ashes to become a much stronger version of myself. You think some steel is going to harm me? You think tables, and glass, and barbed wire is going to hurt me? You don’t understand, Page. I’m immoral. Life couldn’t bring me down. Those closest to me who wanted me dead couldn’t bring me down. International crime syndicates couldn’t bring me down. What the fuck do you think you can do to me?
You keep sucking on that copium, though. You keep telling everyone how much of an insignificant worm I am, and how I shouldn’t even be in the ring with you. Those doey-eyed little fucks you have following you may believe you, but it isn’t them you have to convince. It isn’t Twitter you have to convince. It’s yourself, and no matter what happens in this match, no matter how many Page Plants I receive, and no matter how many nasty tweets you send in my direction, nothing will stop me from being the image that burns into your brain every night before you go to bed. Nothing will stop you from raging every time a commercial comes on that I’m in. Nothing will get me out of your head. You know what else you’ll never get?
Love. Like true, affectionate love. Not the love people give you so you’ll give them money and a spot on a wrestling card, but the kind of love that makes you feel human. That is the sad reality of your life, Page – there is no one there for you. It’s why you spend so much time at the Velvet Rabbit – you have to surround yourself with love that is purchased because you know you won’t get any of it when you go home. There won’t be mourners at your funeral, Page – only folks showing up to make sure you’re actually dead. Oh, and I’ll be there. And I won’t be there to piss on your grave, either. I’m way too classy for that. I’ll just be there smiling, knowing that I beat you for the final time.”
Centurion reaches down and grabs a golf club. He looks at it for a few seconds with a big smile on his face before turning back to the camera.
“I must say, it feels nice to be in a battle that I’ve already won. I wonder what it’s like from your side – the side that knows there is nothing that can be done that will satisfy my inner demons. I shutter to know. I hope you’re able to reflect on that, Chris Page, as you’re sitting in the hospital after you meet your…
Centurion stops, and looks back at his golf club. He smiles again, this time without looking at the camera.
“No…no I’m not going to give you the catchphrase. Not this time.”
In one swift motion, Centurion bashes the golf club against the side of the cell, causing a loud clash to echo throughout the room and the golf club to break in Centurion’s hands. Centurion stands, silent and motionless, as the sound reverbs throughout the building. Seconds go back with nothing, until finally, Centurion lifts his head to look into the camera.
“See you at Countdown, bitch.“