Validation, Or Survival
Writing Prompt: No
Date: 1st Apr 2022
It was a place known for its partying and celebration among the professional wrestling community, but tonight – one wrestler isn’t doing a whole lot of celebrating.
We open up inside The Velvet Rabbit in New York City. There, we see Stage 1, where multiple Does are dancing, much to the delight of the crowd. Among that crowd are Nellie and Erin, who have found one particular dancer they are especially fond of, and are throwing cash in her direction. The music is blaring and the bass is boosted, causing everyone around to be on their feet, dancing.
Everyone, except Centurion.
Instead, Centurion is seated in a lounge chair at a table, holding an empty highball glass in front of him. He looks deep in thought as he stares off into space, the events of the past week still rattling in his head.
Entering last week, Centurion was on a high that he could not come down from. He was the UGWC World Champion, he was fighting for the XWF Television Championship, and he just won the Fight! NYC Bareknuckle Title. He was on a heater, and if he wasn’t considered the best wrestler in the world, he was at least on most people’s Top 5.
However, a loss to Bartholomew Lichter, Charlie Nickles, and Montague Cervantes, all in the matter of a few days, and suddenly the only thing Centurion has left is the Bareknuckle Title – a title he won under less than honorable terms.
As he continues to stare out towards the dance floor, a hand reaches over the table and grabs the glass out of Centurion’s hand. Centurion snaps out of his daze and looks over at one of the head waitresses, Holly Guacamole, holding his empty glass.
“Another?” Holly asks with a smile on her face. Centurion just casually nods, prompting Holly to walk away from the table with the drink.
Centurion looks back out onto the dance floor and sees his daughter and future daughter-in-law, acting like a couple of horny frat boys as they continue to rain cash onto one of the Does. Centurion thinks back to his younger days, when he would frequent clubs like this and spend thousands a night. Usually, though, those nights came to an end when he was dating someone, or married. Nellie isn’t just living the life – she’s living a life Centurion couldn’t dream of.
Centurion’s glass, now filled with Glenmorangie Scotch, is placed back down on the table. Centurion turns to thank and tip Holly, but he stops when he realizes that it is not Holly who has delivered his drink – it’s the owner of the Velvet Rabbit, Candice Wolf.
“You look like hell.” VooDoo says in a serious tone as she leans over the table into Centurion.
“You sure know how to make a man feel special.” Centurion says in a joking manner. “What happened to the excellent customer service we’re accustomed to at the Velvet Rabbit?”
“I know there are people I can piss off with my honesty.” VooDoo says in response. “Some folks will get turned off if I say the wrong thing, and I would never want to lose their money. But that’s not you – you’re way too invested at this point.”
“You know” Centurion says as he picks up the glass of Scotch. “I could always find another place like the Rabbit.”
VooDoo instantly begins to laugh at Centurion’s comment. “Yeah, good luck with that!” Centurion shakes his head in defeat as he takes a sip of his drink, prompting VooDoo to walk to the other side of the table and sit down next to Centurion.
“Come on.” VooDoo says in a more cheerful voice. “It’s not like you to sit here all mopey. Normally you’re conversing with everyone else, and…buying several hundred dollars worth of wings.”
“Yeah, I know. I’m just…” Centurion pauses as he thinks about how to best describe the situation he’s in. “…sitting here, feeling sorry for myself.”
“Hmm.” VooDoo says as she ponders what Centurion says. “Now, I’m no therapist, but I don’t think that’s healthy for you.”
“Strangely enough, that’s also what my therapist says.” Centurion snarks as he takes another sip of his scotch. “I don’t know, I just get like this. I could have won a hundred matches in a row, but the moment I lose one, I start to doubt myself. I was kind of hoping that would go away as I got older, but…”
“You’re a professional wrestler.” VooDoo says, cutting Centurion off. “And you’re a man. The combination of those two things means you have an incredibly inflated ego that is so fragile, it shatters with a gust of wind.”
“Yeah.” Centurion says, agreeing with the honest assessment laid out before him. “It sucks, because I know, objectively, that I’m in a great position in my life, and that I’m one of the best wrestlers in the world, and even the best suffer setbacks from time to time. I could give you the entire fucking speech, you know? Like, I was JUST a fucking World Champion. I hold a title in one of the most competitive wrestling federations on the planet. Every time I speak, a whole army of fans screams with delight. I have federations around the world contacting me, trying to book me. A couple of losses means absolutely nothing, except it gives me something to improve on.”
Centurion’s eyes grow wide as he looks off further into the distance. He stands up from his seat and chugs the rest of his scotch before setting it back down on the table in front of him.
“You’re right, VooDoo!” Centurion exclaims. “I shouldn’t be sitting here, feeling all sad. I should be going back out there, reminding people that I’m Andy Fucking Cortinovis, and I didn’t get here through luck, and anyone who doubts that can kiss my ass!” Centurion bends down and pisses VooDoo on the top of the head. “Thanks, Voo! You’re the best!”
With that, Centurion quickly storms away from the table, leaving a confused VooDoo sitting at the table.
——Still Something To Prove——
We reopen inside a ballroom at the Cortinovis Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle, New York. There, we see Centurion sitting in a chair, the black patterned fabric of which matches the black pattern of the carpet. The rest of the room is empty – plastic chairs are stacked up against the back wall, a podium sits, pushed up against the front of the room, and a couple other lounge chairs sprinkle throughout the vast, open area. Only a row of lights directly above Centurion’s head remains on, and Centurion is seated forward, towards the edge of his seat. He has no cigar and no scotch, but the high-priced suit remains.
“Let me get this out of the way right off the bat. Brandon Moore…
You got screwed.
I don’t know who it was that decided to stick their nose in our business. I know you’re likely to not believe that. Hell, if I was in your shoes, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t believe me, either. After all, I was the beneficiary of the fact that someone has such a severe hatred for you that they would rather see me, a man who isn’t even contracted with Fight, hold the title rather than you. Take your pick as to who that might be – I have to be honest, I don’t pay enough attention to the product to really give you any leads.
Here’s what I do know – whoever it is will not only have to deal with the reckoning that you’re about to put on them, but then they’re going to have to deal with me. Yes, I won the match. Yes, I became the Bareknuckle Champion. But you know what that action placed on me?
Centurion stands up from the chair and walks a few feet to the left of it, reaching a large window that overlooks the city. It is nighttime, and judging by the view, the ballroom he is currently in is several floors up.
“If that didn’t happen – if no one came out to interrupt our match – what would have happened? Would I still have won? I believe in my heart of hearts that I would have, but here’s the problem – I have no proof of that. I’m not positive of that fact, and that burns me. Now, not only do I have to listen to you saying that my title win was a fluke and that I didn’t earn it fairly, I also have to hear it from the Fight crowd and, most importantly, I have to hear it from my own internal thoughts, and that pisses me off.
I deserved better, Brandon. I deserved my shining moment, where I stood in the ring with the belt held high, proclaiming to the entire Fight audience that I AM as good as advertised, and I AM the legend I am talked up to be! Instead, what I got was a lot of questions, a bunch of confused faces, and a title win that’s marred in controversy.
That’s why we’re running this back, Brandon. And it’s why we’re not waiting.
I don’t know what the next couple of months hold for either of us. This mystery person, whoever it is, may murder you before the end of the spring. I don’t know. Or, maybe the opposite happens to you – maybe you become a giant superstar, wrestling main events of pay per views and, thus, you no longer have space on your schedule for little old me anymore. Who’s to say, really? Nothing is set in stone, so I needed to get this done and out of the way as quickly as possible.
And hopefully, this time, we won’t have any intruders getting in the way of our fun.”
Centurion steps away from the window and towards the center of the room. As he gets further away from the window and the chair, he becomes more shrouded in darkness, to the point where he is barely illuminated from behind.
“Set the final result aside, Brandon. Forget about who actually won the match and why. You have to admit, the beating I put on you two weeks ago was a hell of a lot more punishing than anything you’ve been given from the clown car of challengers that have been chasing you thus far in Fight. Granted, you weren’t a slouch yourself. You made me bleed. You gave me cuts and bruises that I think I’m still feeling to this day. Hell, I’ll even go as far as to say your toughness was part of the reason I lost the UGWC World Championship. I went into that match at less than 100%, and I can’t help but think it had something to do with a Texas Deathmatch that I wrestled just one week prior to the pay per view. You’re a bruiser, Brandon. An absolute punisher. You’re…
Exactly what I thought you would be, which is kind of why you weren’t able to beat me two weeks ago. I called your each and every move. I told you leading up to that match the things I expected from you, and you did NOTHING to change your style. You did NOTHING to adapt to the situation you were in. You just kept pushing forward with your strategy like a stubborn asshole, thinking that alone would get you across the finish line. You thought it was any other week, forgetting that you were in the ring with Centurion, not Aiden Reynolds.
And it was in the course of that match that I came to the realization that, honestly…you’re not a good wrestler. You’re a great fighter, absolutely. You’re tough as nails, and you’ll stand there, getting punched in the face repeatedly without so much as blinking, but the moment someone takes one of your punches in return and you realize you’re not the only bad ass in that ring? It’s all over for you. You can’t suddenly turn into some catch-as-catch-can legendary grappler. Most of the time, in Fight, that doesn’t matter. Most of your fellow competitors are exactly the same way.
It’s why, despite my deep respect for Fight and the people in it, I can’t help but be critical about the product in certain areas. There’s no diversity – and I don’t mean that in a “everyone is a white male” sense. I mean that in a “everyone talks, acts, and fights exactly the same way” thing. You’re all a bunch of bad asses, trying to put bad ass each other. You welcome punches to the face because it makes you “tough” and “cool”.
You know the wrestlers I have the most respect for in Fight – other than my friends and old foes, whom I have already encountered in the ring? Anne Boleyn. Sahara. Jinxie Fenix. Folks that have actively decided to be different. Wrestlers that saw the mold that was placed in front of them, and went their own way anyway, despite knowing how difficult it would be. Pro wrestling doesn’t need any more “bad asses”. It needs interesting, creative people.”
Centurion takes a few steps further into the room, and gets to the point where he is completely surrounded by darkness. As that happens, he stands in silence. After a few seconds, the sound of a lighter can be heard, followed by the light of the lighter illuminating Centurion’s face. He lights a cigarette and closes the lighter, leaving the ash end of the cigarette as the only light in the area.
“Our first encounter was about glory, Brandon. Our second one? It’s about validation. For you? You need to prove that the screwjob put on you two weeks ago was the sole reason you’re not standing here today with the Bareknuckle Title. And for me? I need to prove that I am a champion, regardless of where I go or who I face. We both need to prove something, Brandon. We both need validation…”
The sight of the cigarette ash hits the floor, and is quickly stomped out, leaving nothing but darkness.
“But only one of us will get it.”