Caroline Dallins, henceforth known as Killer C, now in her what... Eleventh year as a professional wrestler lounges on her couch, spread out on the burgundy number. One naked foot of her’s, with anklet bangles glinting merrily from sunlight through closed curtains, continued bobbing to and fro. The bands of the legs of her sweatpants were so loose that from the way she laid they had come crossed the calf. Her eyes are weary but that’s no big shock. Caroline’s eyes have always been weary. World weary. Sleep deprived. Some days she wants to spend the whole day in bed.
Some days she does.
You can just tell by the body language in her frame. The languishing figure and the slouch against the inside arm of the couch that she’s camped out on. That is a woman who has made it a lifetime of struggling to get out of bed. School and meetings and job interviews and dates and probably her own wedding from a lifetime ago. Fear, worry, disinterest all likely were candidates of the reason and the rhyme for barricading her.
Barricading Caroline but not outright stopping her.
Never outright stopping her.
“Five-hundred and sixty-five days was the last time I counted that I will have been... Uncrowned. Mind you, there must be a certain degree of arrogance bearing in my soul that I think, that I would conceivably believe that I could just waltz into Pro Wrestling NEO, have this be my debuting match and on night one of this company’s very first pay-per-view, walk out with one of their pieces of gold. Arrogant. That’s the word and general feeling for success at times. You gotta be arrogant a little bit. It is extremely arrogant of me to just think I can waltz in and out when the likes of Kuller, and DeMarcus Gresham’s fine ass have actually been working their way through the Heaven or Hell tournament. The people you have known. Seen. It is extremely arrogant when my stomping grounds are Florida... Did you see me in Tallahassee though? No. You damn sure saw Lockheed though in tag action. So it must be arrogance. It must be some level of arrogance that makes me think I can do this.
She sat up from off her laying position on the couch... For half a second. Caroline slumped right back down as if hoping she wasn’t the only person she was trying to fool with that initial curve of the back and hands steadying herself.
“For those wondering, as of night one it’ll be five-hundred seventy-six days. If perhaps say Cosmo might have his way, then it’ll be five-hundred seventy-seven days. Maybe if he wins he can point me in the direction of the best place he knows that makes a decent spider roll of sushi, pat the elder on her back and drag her out behind the woodshed because by the time he’s been doing this as long as I have I’m mostly suspecting that he would have at least tripled the amount of accolades he’s held. My point is I know my odds by the by, understanding some of whom I’m facing against. The younger, the equals, the betters... So it must be arrogance to believe I can just walk in right? It... It has to be arrogance to believe that I’ve given up more, and put in more to just walk in and walk out, Grand Championship in hand... Right?”
The former multi-time champion, the woman who once described herself as “Killer C” looked up at the ceiling. The nickname is the same mind you, but hardly does the woman ever call herself that anymore. As if she has to re-earn it in her own eyes perhaps. She breathes in, one of those big breaths. You know the type. Like someone’s about to break that unfortunate news to you. The whole “You’ll get ‘em next time kid.” You know that bullshit spiel.
“Maybe it isn’t arrogance. Maybe I’ve had all of that beaten out of me in the last year and a half. Slowly but surely walloped out of me, facing one world breaker after the next, tasting what was truly out there, out of my own comfort zone. I made a promise to myself after this one tag match I had, another loss tacked on in what’s become a small streak of losses. I’ll be honest I’m almost proud of the failings given that I’m learning more and more about myself.”
She seemed to realize she was getting way off topic, and Caroline looked at the camera.
“Anyway... This promise I made right,” She began. “I made this promise to myself that I wouldn’t... That I couldn’t return ‘home’ as it were until I got an understanding of what piece of me I must have lost along the way. I want to find that part of Caroline Dallins that must have broken off either during the time her husband had to divorce her simple ass because she was too out of control, obsessed or her best friends could no longer trust her to be the person in her corner. I want to find that Caroline Dallins. I wanna tell that Caroline Dallins to come home. I wanna tell her ‘baby I swear I won’t pick up the bottle anymore. I promise it’s just clean livin’ and professional wrestling for me now’, knowing it’s a damn lie but there’s an off chance she comes home anyway.”
There was a gentle smile under ruby lips. So beautiful.
She seemed to snap out of her own moment of melancholy, Caroline pulling out of the abyss all by her own damn self.“I feel like I’ve started to pull a Lester Young, a Billie Holiday, a jazz musician proper. This excellence I used to have is in this steady decline, but somehow it’s given me this clarity I haven’t had in years. Somehow it’s slowly making me better than I think I’ve ever been in the last few years. What do you learn from wins, really? How to be a good sport or a bad one? How to stay on top? It’s limiting is what it is, and diminishing returns to boot. So I’m looking at my time in NEO... My time, for a long time I’m hoping and my time getting out of my comfort zone with simple intentions.
I need to relearn the game. I need to get back into what made me, ‘me’... Because I’ll be honest, me sitting right here and saying ‘I’m going to be Pro Wrestling NEO Grand Champion’? That ain’t it. Me saying ‘I can be Pro Wrestling NEO Grand Champion’ though, that sounds a lot more like where I’m at. Me saying I have all the tools to face the best and the brightest, the top and the bottom and me right smack-dab on the in-between, and I could come out richer... That sounds like me of current, but until I can speak with that confidence of ‘will’ and ‘am’ and ‘going to’ and ‘undeniable’, then maybe... Maybe ‘can’ is good enough for now.”
Her smile faded away as soon as it tried to form more than what it was. An attempt at a wider grin wade made by Caroline Dalllins before it died away full stop. It was as if she was straining herself just by trying to be happy and broke it all up again in the attempt.
Her nostrils flared and her eyes closed.
“We’re in an industry where it doesn’t pay quite enough just to be a wrestler. You have to hustle and bustle and work this and do that and open this and splash your face all over that. Those of us who only care about doing this... This right here, do it just for the love of the game. Yet as we get closer and closer, minute after minute to Insurgence, I’m left to ask myself...
What do you do if what you love don’t love you back anymore?”
Caroline Dallins sat up for the first time since the recording of this video and looked at the camera dead center.
“I was a shitty wife to a man who deserved better. I was a shitty friend to a woman who needed more. I’m a shitty sister to a man who can’t find much else, and an equally shitty mentor to a bunch of kids who could do better. At the end of the day, when there’s only one thing left in life that you love that you have left... What else can you do but work to make it love you again?”
She reached forward to touch the camera on the tripod; turn it off and end this.
There was a moment’s hesitation, as if she had more to say but then came acceptance.
“You’ll see and hear it done the same way a billion times. Every person will get in front of a camera in some location and they’ll break down opponent by opponent. How many times have we seen it before?” We hear rummaging, it’s like someone is raking through a junk drawer you have in your kitchen. Some of the scrapes sound metallic while others sound more like plastic. The voice belongs to Cosmo Cooper, hopeful to be crowned the first ever Pro Wrestling Neo Grand Champion. We can see exactly what he is doing at the moment, but we can sure hear it.
“Not going to be me… I can sit here and list off the names… Isaak. Ashley. Katya. Evelyn. Andy. DeMarcus. Caroline. Thanks to the internet I could even tell you everything they’ve done in the last few months and give this illusion that I know what I am talking about—or they’ll tell you the same exact thing. It’s boring.” More rummaging. “They’ll all say the same about me. A prodigy. The leader in this industry. I appreciate the respect, and I will return the nod of the cap… but this? It’s a little more serious than a fun little event.”
“You see,” he paused. “I get it. A lot of you see a title up for grabs and you decide to run for the gold. After all, what is a better way to get your name on the map than snagging that gold without having to do any work besides… throwing your name in the hat. I would like to compare you all to vultures. You aren’t predatory enough to go to a place like 4CW, or Valor or anywhere else to try and earn a championship through hard work and perseverance… which is exactly what I’ve had to do by the way.”
We finally see Cosmo for the first time and he is as laid back as ever. The backwards hat that seemed to barely sit atop his long mane, a floppy t-shirt with his face on it and a pair of ripped up jean shorts that seemed better suited for the beach. It seems the guess of a junk drawer was near correct. The floor was strewn with junk such as: HDMI cords, old pieces of metal which seemed to have come off house hold appliances, batteries and old controllers that he was still holding onto for whatever reason.
“Like the pile I am standing in, you all make up parts. There’s something attached to you. Some of you? It’s a status. Some of you? It’s the company you keep. Some of you? It’s the job you sought after when you got into wrestling in the first place. Some of you?” A slight plump of his lip. “It’s all of the above. It’s like… this for example.”
Squinting, he bent down into the pile and pulled out a small triple A battery and surveyed it for a moment before he held it out in front of him.
“This battery. Together? With some other batteries?” He quickly bent down and picked another up. “They hold more power. Put them in something bigger? It’ll power them on. But like this? It doesn’t do you any good… it’s probably dead anyway.” He sneered and tossed it over his shoulder and it landed with a thump in the other junk.
“None of you have this… identity that you can stand alone. Sure, some of you have forged on into companies that have closed down as quickly as they opened… but you all need something else for that light to come on. A few of you? You’ve been a part of teams, and that is what defines you. Hence when I talked about need another battery to have enough juice to power something on.”
“The thing is. I’m not going to shy away from what I am coming into this match… the favorite. I embrace it. I accept it. Playing up a narrative that there’s 7 other people in this match which means anything can happen? It’s something I am not going to do. I accept it… I want all of the smoke… and that is why I alone should be the first ever Neo Grand Champion. Every single week I go out and bust my ass in various cities across the WORLD and I never miss one step.” He held up a finger as he looked intently into the camera.
“Not one. It’s like a Bernie Sanders rally up in here… but I’ll give you the same spiel I give everywhere I go. Nobody is going to represent this brand better than me. Nobody is going to represent Neo as well as me. Nobody is going to be a better WRESTLER at the end of 2019 than Cosmo Cooper. Because I want each of you fake ass wrestlers to stand up and tell me where you are going to be before Insurgence? … the day before that? The day before that? Most of you were sitting on your ass with your Twitter fingers. You know what I was doing?”
“Monday: Revolution Pro. Main event. Friday. Manchester, England. Rebellion. One of the only advertised matches for a mystery show. Sunday. Thailand as the Apex Champion in Valor in a tag team tournament… all leading up to Neo…” He let those words sink in. “Now one of you step to me and say that you’re consistently keeping that schedule and consistently getting the wins I am…” Cosmo made a motion as if to say it’s over. Kinda like Vince Carter did when he knew he won the dunk competition.
Yeah. Same one.
“I don’t go with my palm out asking for booking. I stand on the TOP of this mountain and look down at the rest of you as you ask for these handouts. I’m not winning this title for the clout. I am winning it because of what will happen. Because the second I strap that baby around my waist? The buzz begins.”
“Don’t believe me? Go compare Valor’s ratings before and after. Go look at their attendance before and after. Go look at anything you want and it will all point to the man who started it all… Cosmo… Cooper.” He dropped his head for a moment. A smile crossed his lips as a bit of his hair fell into his eyes from underneath his hat. “Am I telling you this because it’s going to win me the match? No. I’m telling you this because the proof is in those statistics that I can back up what I say… none of you have that resume’ and I understand that some of you KNOW you don’t have that resume’ which is why you’re in that match… but I’ll be damned if I let someone new… or someone established… or someone who is the pet of some other thing… I’ll be damned if I let them waltz in and win a title that I not only desire… but I need.”
“2018 wasn’t easy for me. I suffered some big losses…” he picked up another battery and tossed it behind him idly. “I know that no matter what I do people are going to cheer. I know that no matter what I do a certain crowd will always be there to have my back… but it isn’t… enough… for me. The Apex Championship isn’t enough for me. I want to hold that forever. The Grand Championship won’t be enough. I want the set the bar as high as it will go… and keep it there.”
Cosmo looked over all the junk. Shaking his head, it seemed he couldn’t really come up with what he was searching for.
“I don’t belong among the mess. I’ve proven that. I’m not going to be the one to put you together and let you stand alone. I belong out there…” he pointed to the door. “Where the nice appliances are. Where everything works. Where I am the one that works… not among the things that don’t.” With that, he stepped away from the junk all over his floor—careful to avoid any sharp pieces that may get his bare foot. After all, the junk represented his opponents.
“I do not know what walk of life you come from before this, I don’t know what companies you’ve frequented nor do I know if any of you would come close to carrying that belt around from place, to place, to place like I would… but I do know this.”
“You’re in my world now. I don’t care what building it is. I don’t care if it is in Sacramento or Anchorage. It’s all the same to me… and the feeling I had when I raised that Apex Championship for the first time? Or the plethora of other belts you can find in my resume’?” He chuckled. “It will be the same feeling when Cosmo Cooper is your first ever… Neo… Grand… Champion.”
An ethereal sigh fills to an echo inside the extremely dark and cloudy confines. Is he smoking? That is not like DeMarcus Gresham. Yet, light smoke continues a slow movement around the unidentified area. No, it’s the smoke we all prepare for. The many sheeplike currents on Twitter tend to be in love with the term. Pity.
“Perhaps it is driving me to insanity but yet, I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe it is that simple. This is a sum of many parts. The steps that continue in the middle after choosing between the fork in the road. No. No. Inaccurate. In a gifted man's case, the available paths come much larger than the number of 2. I have seen it form in my own time. The grandness I speak of, outside of our opportunity, of course, is how very easily we all rather assess at face value when we all have encountered what I currently go through. Some of you directly involved could be sharing these same moments. Toeing the line...balancing along the sky-high ropes staring risk and danger in the face as if you are one of the key players of Cirque du Soleil. What happens to the Yann Arnaud's or Sarah Guillot-Guyard’s of the wrestling world?”
“Wh?-oh!! The Cirque du Soleil deaths that happened during the show?”
“Look at me. Being in yo head getting me cultured! Yall catch up! Might get you some pussy one day.”
“To answer. They become me. Or somewhat like me. Dead or simply waiting for the cold to overcome. You believe it's lonely at the top. That only means you've never really been at the bottom. Thus, you are missing the complete view.”
The smoky scene begins to pick up getting denser by the second as only the voices fill the void.
“We all have these voices. The goodwill conscience fighting against your anger. Your rationality versus your rage. All being the gentle reminder of the morals you were given as a child. The soft voices that you never had to respond to. Just respond to the moment. Now imagine that voice becomes stronger. A full ability to respond and almost seem lifelike in your mind?”
“Not gonna hold you up Egg. That does sound a little bit crazy.”
“Give time hmm? Then, you have that match. That one particular match. You reach that crossroad and from that point, your career is never the same and neither is your mind. There's a chink in the otherwise impenetrable armor. Have you felt this before Andy? How about you Ashley? I know you have Evelyn and have since made your smiling changes. Katya, you ever had that hole in your armor that is continued to be struck to a point it changes you? You’ve had to. Issak same question? Would you ever admit that change? How about you Caroline? Has this profession changed you in the grand view? Cosmo? Wrestling’s shining beacon yes? What changes have you felt since the dominant Battleborn days until now? Perhaps rising above childish Grandmother fucker puns changes you for the better hmm?”
“Ooooo, you said a swear.”
“Look deep and don’t lie to yourselves either. Answer that and then tell me do you think I’m crazy or am I just embracing the grand view?”
“Nope still going with crazy.”
The smoke increases more and more in the dark background until it almost overtakes the screen to switch into a familiar view from Pro Wrestling Neo: Boogie Nights: A Deathsteak Memorial. The scene after the 4-way match deemed "FULL METAL PANIC" where fans bring the weapons. A bloody beaten DeMarcus Gresham wobbling. Not walking. Wobbling toward his locker room inside the depths of the Doak Campbell Stadium. The EMTs and medics already doing their jobs and having more than half of his body bandaged or treated in some fashion.
“I would say this evening was the beginning. The start of the armor being placed under duress. It wasn’t so much about the defeat. Although a factor in this...change, it wasn’t the result. It was the experience. If you did not yet know, I am quite the vain specimen. I take my time looking in the mirror. I enjoy looking divine. This type of carnage tends to pull away from the pristine. I still hold evidence of that battle to this day. I realized that night that there is a place for it. Not so much of the human chess battle I’ve come to understand. This profession can and will bring out the best and worst of us. While I attempted to keep this my gentleman’s game of value and respect to most Mr. Kageyama has quickly shown us with this exhilarating tournament sometimes it’s just not meant to be. It is indeed a time and place for it all. My aggression isn’t a path I’ve stumbled upon. These choices aren’t Antonio’s influence.”
“Antonio? Who the dripping dick is that?”
The pause is momentary as the screen shows the large DeMarcus stumbling once he enters his locker room. Getting to his knees he sees the many amounts of gauze along his side is already damp with blood.
“I’ve finally decided on a name for you. It’s a great time. The Gift returns to a double status as champion all in one night. I become Grand and Grand Prix. The deserving emblem of Pro Wrestling NEO.”
“Sounds swaggerish. Are you getting swagger Egg? Who taught you that?”
“A new friend. A growing relationship. Perhaps will become the only one I have.”
“ANTONIO GOT YO BACK EGG!! I like that. I sound like a sexy Mexican.”
An elitist smirk shows on DeMarcus’ face looking at his side. A slight chuckle as he rises back to his feet heading toward his items on the other side of the room.
“It is as it’s always been about the path. Have you all been here for this grand view my dear 7? Understanding it beyond the surface? This is about the grand view of it all ladies and gentlemen. We are the main event of night one for a reason, aren’t we? The Golden 1 Center to determine the gold of the rising company the world knows as NEO. The 8 of us are battling to become grand. To eliminate each other one by one until there is the last man standing. It will take the whole of you to accomplish such a feat. It will take the grandest parts of our good, bad, ugly, and absolutely dreadful. Things my time here and in 4CW has helped me come to understand. Question is do you all have that...capability...to intertwine it all into one. If Volume V showed you anything...I’m sure it did. I’m forever evolving. Growing with each match and each moment. More than this I’m prepared to represent this company as it should be. Not another wrestler looking to add to the belt room. Not another opportunist wanting to be everywhere at once and still being nothing at all. I’ve been here from the beginning. The integral part of numerous match of the night awards. The downfalls have only brought me further and it is because of consistent hits against me during my career the tide begins to turn. The favor returns. It comes to fruition at Insurgence.”
The view switches to a vision from February 3, 2019. Pro Wrestling Neo - Volume V to be exact. The Oracle Arena looks in awe at the large athletic build of the Gifted One as he makes his entrance to the ring. His partner for the evening, Nina Stokes, is already in the ring looking on as normally DeMarcus would give notice to the boos around him. The normal smirk he wears in response to the fans vitriol his face is unreadable. A steady blank stare only hearing the voice in his head and seeing the goal in mind. Seeing the defeat of Mariano Fernandez & Ezra Eden.
“Heh. Invitational. I remember it well. Usually, the open door policy only allows the weak. Yet this time around are those who can attempt to see the grand view as I do. Keyword, attempt. One who has been here from the start. Evelyn. She wisely saw the jewel of NEO. Same can be said for Ashley although her time came at Boogie Nights. I was not impressed with the performance overall. Just my truth and I’ve been able to keep watch of both. The rest of you are just corresponding to that open door. Seeing an opportunity but walking in without any idea of what comes with opening it. The pride of this place and what we’ve had to go through. The Gift, that is among you. Cosmo can’t help it at this point. Where doesn’t he go? Issak is in over his head. Katya, I actually look forward to you. Same for you actually Caroline. Call it respect or honest intrigue. Andy, I apologize for the damage given to you in advance. The titles of NEO shall be held by the blood of NEO. Visitors do return to your planes.”
We cut in from black to reveal the entrance to Lucky’s Pub, where one lone bouncer stands in front of us, a three-piece suit adorning the thick, barrel-chested man highlighted by the colorful highlights of a ten-gallon hat and rhinestone cowboy boots.
Torn between garish and professional, the bouncer looks into the lens, almost insulted by it’s very presence.
“Ya’ know we don’t permit cameras inside, right?” The southern drawl is almost lost in the deep- rumbling bass of the bouncer’s voice.
“U-uh… we were told to meet someone inside,” the cameraman, nervous if the stutter was anything to go by, “He needs to rec-”
The cameraman’s cut off by the bouncer raising his hand, palm out as though to say ‘Let me halt you right there’, a moment of extended silence passes as the bouncer slightly tips the rim of his hat back in a practiced manner that tells us that he’s not only stared at himself doing it in the mirror, but that he thinks it looks intimidating, as opposed to like a total toolbox.
“I dunno who told ya’ that son, but if you think I’m lettin’ ya take THAT thing,” He points into the lens, “into that bar there…” he thumbs over his shoulder, “then you’ve got to be outta yer’ m-”
“W-well,” The cameraman interjects, causing the bouncer’s expression to sour, obviously displeased with being interrupted mid tough guy act, “if Ashley Lockheed is in there, d you think you can send him out?”
Immediately the bouncer’s expression and body language does a complete one-eighty at the mention of the Pro Wrestling NEO competitors’ name, the mild sneer and contemptuous eyebrow furrow melting into a good natured grin
“Ash? Shit man, why din’t ya’ say so?” He turns, motioning for the camera to follow him, “C’mon man, he’s prolly by the billiards table. Hey Rodney, cover me while I take this guy over to Lockheed’s dumb ass”
A similarly huge bouncer walks past the camera’s periphery as our focus enters the bar’s threshold. The calm and relatively quiet night air immediately driven out of memory by the oily, neon over-lighting and the thrumming beat of the house speakers belting out generic cock-rock.
Through the lens we see that the bar is nowhere near capacity on this relatively laid-back Thursday night in Texas, the bartender looks more wrapped up in conversation than drink-mixing as a duo of probable regulars argue animatedly over some sport or another, their voices drowned out by bending guitar notes.
Panning left we see several empty booths, benches and table-tops shining brightly even in the lower-lighting, waiting for guests that - given the day - likely weren’t arriving.
A mild step down from the dance floor and the broad shoulders of the bouncer shift to the left, revealing to the camera a billiards table occupied by two men, and observed by one female onlooker.
The female in question was the classic west-Texas beauty standard, honey-blond hair in loose curls, The majority of its length pulled up into a ponytail that was both intended to look casual, yet probably took several torturous hours to tease into position, fair freckled skin accentuated by the bright yellow summer dress that hugged long limbs and trademark curves.
One of the men was dressed in what could only be called the Austin Tuxedo, black leather cowboy hat, pre-faded and beaten yet an undeniable quality that spoke of expensive taste and old oil-money. High cheekbones and boyish, almost-noble face directly contradicting the fat lip packed with chew he was mulling over as he watched his opponent break to open the game.
The final man was dressed nicely, ostensibly. An orchid colored button up was unbuttoned down to mid-chest, sleeves rolled up hastily and stained with equal parts engine grease and whiskey. His suit-vest was similarly unbuttoned, hanging off his shoulders like an afterthought… his medium-length, pale blond hair - which may have started the night held down with gel, was now askew, seeming to match his state of sobriety.
“Hey Ash,” The bouncer calls just as Ashley makes the shot… and sends the white ball straight into the corner pocket as the man starts at the sudden intrusion, earning a laugh from both of the wrestler’s companions.
“... shit” Full Auto mumbles before hastily reaching into the pocket of his slacks and tossing his opponent a five before turning to the bouncer with a somewhat sour grin, “alright, yes, hi Neil! Th’ fuck do ya’...”
The question dies on his lips as he notes the camera, rolling his eyes as we cut to black.
We cut to the bar’s rooftop patio, the night sky illuminated by the lights of the city.
“We set up?” The Texas drawl blurts out.
“Yeah,” Comes the cameraman’s voice, “all set up… you want to walk on all dramatic-like or may-”
A chuckle cuts the cameraman off as Ashley Lockheed walks into the lens’ view, a cigarette in one hand and a tumbler of scotch in the other, “Fuck no… do some of the fellas on the roster actually do that? Frame it for that whole… mysterious air thing?”
“Uh… sometimes?” The cameraman offers lamely.
“Well… okay, not a chance n’Hell I’m doin’ that so let’s just start,” A sip of scotch before Ashley waves into the lens with a foolish grin adorning his face, “‘ello there, Pro Wrestling NEO, if y’don’t recognize me that’s because well, I’ve only had one match in the company thus far an’ that was a while ago”
There’s a pause as he takes a drag from his smoke.
“Oh, I won that one by the way,” Lockheed exhales slowly, before waving the smoke from his view, “but I guess that don’t matter, cuz on the horizon lies the Supershow, called Insurgence, and I get my second kick at the can, only this time? It’s… uh, a main event spot I don’t remember earnin’, in an eight-man clusterfuck, for a title belt…”
Lockheed chuckles to himself before raising his glass in a salute to the camera “Will say this for pro-wrestling, it’s never borin’. So cool, I’m willin’ to roll with the punches and dish out a few myself. The powers that be wanna throw me in th’ barrel an’ see how Full Auto does lined up opposite seven other people? That sounds like a pretty good goddamn time!”
Laughing, Ashley fishes a paper out of his pocket and unfolds it, he stands there looking over it curiously for a moment while idly sipping at his scotch “... Villar, Gresham, Dallins… Coop, Dj… uh…” he clears his throat as he considers how to pronounce the name, “... fuck it… I’m callin’ ya Kat… blame Texas public schoolin’, Kuller… n’ Otto”
He sighs, balling up the paper and tossing it over his shoulder “Look, I ain’t much for studyin’, I’m built for doing. I think it’s obvious that most all a’ yas in this match have a higher profile than me, longer careers, tougher opponents than any I met in that ring, n’ that’s okay, if this were goin’ to be easy, it wouldn’t be any fun,” He finishes the last of his drink with a sigh before perching the smoke between his lips and closing distance with the camera, “if you find my lack of reverence or preparedness insultin’ or stupid… well,y’all will get the chance to tell me such in that ring, but I’m not tryin’ to be. I’m itchin’ to get in there with the lot of ya’ and see how I measure up, I’m just not built for prep n’ studyin’, I’m a creature of reaction”
He points into the lens “So on the twenty-fourth, in - ugh - Sacramento, I’m A-Okay with the lot of ya’ thinkin’ you’re lookin’ at a fool well out of his element,” his grin widens, “it’ll just make it all th’ more fun when the safety gets switched off, I go ’bang’ and the lot of you go down, wonderin’ how this shoot-out all went so wrong as I walk away with the treasure…”
He takes the smoke out from between his lips and blows a cloud out into the night sky.
“Ashely Lockhhed… Grand Champ n’ the Last Man Standin’”
He stares into the lens a moment before breaking his line of sight and looking past the camera “... that wasn’t too damn corny, was it?”
“A little, sir” The cameraman admits as the scene fades to black.
Her right hand ran through her hair, cupping her hand to the side of her head to keep the hair pulled away as she looked at her skin. Unblemished, no sign of trauma. Same as it was every day, but she still had to check, had to make sure. It had been years since the incident, since the sharp blades went into her skull. The scars didn’t remain-they never did with her-but the memories did. Having to spend so long away from what she loved doing, re-learning everything she needed. Watching everyone she knew succeed, getting better and better at wrestling, making great strides. She wasn’t jealous of them for their successes, she was only left sad that she couldn’t be there too. Wrestling, that had been the light in her formative darkness, was for so long out of her grasp.
But those sad days were behind her. Had been for longer than she had been forced away, she had been back wrestling for years now. But the memories remained, and so she started everyday by looking at herself in the mirror. A piece of her liked to imagine waking up one day and finding it had all been a dream, she was still recovering, and wrestling again was still so far out of her grasp. So she checked.
And today, just like everyday, it was still real. The past was the past. She was happy, and she was wrestling.
It put a smile on her face.
Evelyn Kuller, the Perfect (and immensely positive) Evil, casually sits cross-legged on the floor of her living room. The usual grin is upon her face as she lifts a hand to wave at the camera. Despite the large task looming over her she seems to be in good spirits, energetic despite it.
“Life comes at you fast, huh!”
Her hand goes to the back of her head, scratching at it as she lets out a small chuckle.
“Going right from coming up short in Heaven or Hell to get into the World Championship match, to finding out I’m in the match to crown the Grand Championship. Going from that brief “ah dang” prick of disappointment to “OH DANG” so fast, it’s enough to give someone whiplash! But it’s a good feeling, having a new goal in front of me so close to losing my last one. But now I’m going from a match against three other amazing wrestlers to facing 7!”
She laughs for a few moments, seeming to genuinely enjoy the situation.
“That was a surprise to hear, but I like it! It’s the kinda news that keeps you on your toes. You don’t hear “you’re facing 7 other people” and think of anything but shifting into the best and most prepared you you can become! I’m sure it was the same for everyone else, too. We’re all different people coming from different places and statuses, but I’m sure the second we all heard it would be an 8-way elimination match, we all had the same thought at the same time: gotta be ready, gotta be ready. That’s something I enjoy about wrestling. It has this habit of suddenly making vastly different people have the same goal as each other. Not just in the way of wanting to win the championship, but that they have to prepare and become the strongest them they can be for the challenge ahead. That is the one thing all of us have in common. The same goal was born, a goal that leads to another goal above, the Grand Championship.”
She sits in thought for a few moments after that, the grin leaving a bit as she sits in contemplation, perhaps about the goal itself, or the match it leads to.
“I don’t know everyone in this match. By that I mean know know, you know? Personally. I’ve only spoken to Issak before this match, we had our own incredible time together in a place called JCP, where we fought for the top championship. Lovely days. I’m familiar with many in the match though! People with masses of accomplishments to their names like Caroline or Cosmo or DeMarcus, or someone like Katya that’s making a name for themselves day by day. I don’t really know Ashley or Andy, but the fact they are here speaks volumes. While I have to go out and fight them all soon, I can’t help but feel a kinship to them all. Like I said, we’re all united in the forming of the goal to become the best “us” we can be so the goal of becoming the Grand Champion can be achieved. All of us will go out there with the same goal, the same dream. For one match we’ll all share in something that won’t be replicated, not exactly. That’s special to me.”
It’s a softer smile that comes to her face now.
“Experiences like that, that is what I value the most about wrestling. There’s nowhere else that would give me an experience quite like this, you know? Ever since I stepped into the ring for the first time, wrestling has given me so many unique experiences, new feelings that have lived in my heart and soul since then. Even the sadder ones, even the disappointing and angry ones, they have a place in my heart. It’s why I’m always so happy to be here. Because wrestling has given me so much, and it only gives more. And I get to have one of those experiences at Insurgence, with 7 other people, a unique moment that will live in my heart forever. Knowing that I’ll have that, I already have this feeling of victory inside of myself.”
A pause, and then that soft smile turns back into a grin as she points to the camera.
“Don’t think that means I’m gonna be caught slipping though! Just because I have this victorious feeling in me already doesn’t mean I’m not looking to become the first Grand Champion, same as everyone else there! Becoming the first is an experience unlike any other. I felt it once before, in JCP, but the differences between that situation and now mean it will feel brand-new to me still! I want to experience it all, and that means I have to be sure I prepared the best me possible to weather the storm that will be coming and gain that victory! Bias is obvious of course, but I think I’ve done that. But we won’t know until I’m out there, huh! I will just have to do what I do best: hold hope in my heart, that I have succeeded in my goal of preparing the best me, and thus achieving the supreme goal and becoming Grand Champion!”
And she goes quiet again, the grin fading off into a look of contemplation again. It fades too after a moment, as she then looks to the camera with a serene look on her face.
“Do you know what becoming champion means, at least to me?”
She pauses a moment to let anyone watching come to their own conclusion before continuing on.
“Everyone has their own meanings, I think. A unique meaning for a unique person. For me, it means...you’re doing it. You’ve achieved so much progress, and this just cements it more and more, what you’ve doing. The work you’ve been putting in, the progress, it’s not just real but it’s burning bright. A shining path of steps, each one taken forward with hope and belief in yourself. Each step taking you away from the past, from the darkness and the miseries, from the evil person you were, each one towards...”
A pause, and she seems to struggle. The perfect word, the descriptor of what was being aimed for. That struggle takes a few silent moments, as a hand absentmindedly went up, running through the hair on the right side of her head. The struggle fades away suddenly, melting into understanding. That soft smile comes to her face again.
“Towards the ever-brighter light.”
She raises a hand and gives a peace sign to the camera, that smile still on her face.
“So, to everyone in the Grand Championship match, thank you for sharing in this experience with me. I can’t wait to see what we create together.”
Post by Issak Otto on Feb 22, 2019 23:56:40 GMT -5
"You Got a Friend in Me"
You can be certain, the first thing Issak did after getting the news, was go around the room, giving hugs.
Issak Otto was lucky enough to receive multiple opportunities within his career, all of which he was very thankful for, but he never expects there to be another. Sure, the elimination match may have been open to anyone willing to sign up, but expecting anything from the world simply wasn't his MO. What's more, there was nothing within him that expected a main event. The excitement he received, being able to introduce himself to a whole new company, was almost overwhelming.
This was all written across his face as we opened up on Issak walking the streets of Sacramento, a stack of papers pressed against his chest and a stapler in his right hand. The smile on his face told the entire story.
"Humility has become a rarity in this industry."
A stranger headed towards him on the other side of the street, of course minding his own business. Issak was not about to let that happen, nor allow him to pass by without flashing him a smile. Issak went a step further, putting out his hand a high-fiving the stranger with an abundance of enthusiasm.
"Truth be told, I've made a bit of a name for myself. Focusing upon my goals and working hard to get there. I've stayed true to my morals each and every time, didn't stray, which is something to be said. You could look around you and easily find a multitude of people who have climbed the ladder, but could you find ones that had done so without purposefully stepping upon the heads of others? Most people are able to list off their championship wins as their accomplishments, and I have some of my own that I'm VERY proud of, but I'm most proud of being able to do it while remaining humble."
He came upon a telephone pole, which promoted him to take the top piece of paper, stapling it to the large wooden pole.
"I'm overjoyed that NEO took a chance on me, first and foremost. They were so very kind in setting me up with a match against one of my very best friends, Will Neilsen, and now they're showing they're generosity by not only accepting me onto their roster, but allowing me this opportunity. An eight person elimination match, main eventing night one of Insurgence for the chance to be crowned the very first Pro Wrestling NEO Grand Champion."
Otto stopped walking for a moment, looking as if he was about to feint.
"My head is spinning."
And he more than likely wasn't exaggerating, as he began to wobble. Luckily, he was able to check himself, shaking his head from side to side before his usual smile returned. He continued on.
"I took a look at the list of competitors in this match and there's no doubts in my mind, each and every person deserves to be here. Ashley, Evelyn Kuller, Katya, Cosmo, Andy, DeMarcus, and Caroline. Some of you I know quite well, whether that be because we have history together, or because we go to the same gym. Either way, I hope it's alright I call you all by your first names, because I really feel that close to you all. All eight of us are sharing this experience together. Nobody else knows what it's like to be in our shoes at this exact moment in time, and the only people that do are the same ones that are going to be sharing a ring Sunday night. I think that's pretty special, don't you?"
His eyebrows got wide as he asked the camera, almost as if he was expecting an answer. Of course, we knew that he was never going to receive one. A moment later he realized this as well, though he didn't seem too broken up about it.
"I wouldn't have it any other way. There's so many talented and skilled competitors that I get the chance to compete against, it amazes me. I honestly wouldn't trade any one person for another. To those that I've never had the honor of personally meeting before, I want to tell you that I'm glad to meet you for the first time! There's really no better feeling than going up against new and exciting challenges, testing your own style against that of others. I think you all bring something to the table, and it's going to be difficult to outlast each person and make it to the end."
Issak whipped a bit of sweat dripping from his forehead, getting nervous just thinking about it.
"I'm not sure how many people in that ring will know my name, but I know there's at least some. The biggest thing I'm fighting against going into this Grand Championship elimination match, is my reputation. Even if you've never heard the name Issak Otto, I'm sure you can understand the gist of who I am just by hearing the words I speak now. This really is the kind of person I am, and it's the same person you can expect in the ring come Sunday."
He nodded his head up and down, easily showing just how proud he was of that fact. He had reached yet another telephone pole, and stapled a piece of paper to this one as well. Still, the camera was unable to see what was written.
"However, I want to make sure everyone understands, I may be the most humble person walking into the ring at Insurgence but that doesn't mean that I don't know how to bring the fight. In my eyes, the largest display of respect I could give to a competitor is going out there and giving nothing short of my all! I would be insulting all seven of you if I didn't try my very hardest to win the Grand Championship while I'm in that ring. Plus, I'll also tell you that I don't do any holding back. I've had my fair share of hard losses, but I've also had my fair share of amazing wins. I've earned each and every one of them, and if I'm going to become the first ever Pro Wrestling NEO Grand Champion, then I'm going to EARN it. That's for sure."
He rose a fist to the camera, showing how passionate he was about it. Humble yes, but always ready for a fight? WITHOUT QUESTION.
"I suppose the bottom line I'm trying to get at, is please don't expect that you're going to be able to take advantage of me. Yes, others have tried in the past, and maybe I'm not the wisest when it comes to seeing that ill intent in others. I always expect the best, and I believe there's good in everyone, so surely I believe that out of all seven of you. But I'm also here to win. I've put too much on the line and fought too hard to ever find myself giving up inside that ring!"
A third telephone pole, and just as you more than likely guessed, the same action was repeated. The camera took a second, staying behind as Issak moved on. It tried to get closer to the paper upon the telephone pole, before Issak caught it.
"Oh! Silly me! You're probably wondering what all these flyers are for, right? I can't believe I forgot to invite you!"
He smacked himself in the forehead, the explanation of the flyers completely slipping his mind until this very moment.
"Back in JCP and ACM, within my first couple of matches I held a friendship meetup! Where people from around the area, and of course the company we work for, were invited to a FUN event for friends! This time, we're doing rootbeer floats, with all sorts of fun and exciting games. All of Pro Wrestling NEO is invited, of course! Make sure to bring your favorite game!"
Issak removed the top piece of paper upon the stack, handing it over to the person behind the camera. The camera nodded up and down, and Issak smiled in return.
"I'll bring the Grand Championship, and everyone can get a turn holding it! I can't wait!"
He threw his hands into the air, shouting to the sky, before running off. Naturally, to continue posting his flyers. The thought of being able to represent Pro Wrestling NEO as a champion was more than enticing to him, and he was going to put everything into making sure it was on his shoulder. Issak had a habit of getting his hopes high, but really, he didn't know any other way. He'd remain humble until the day he dies, and he'd keep trying for that Grand Championship, no matter what..
Post by djurdjevic on Feb 22, 2019 23:59:35 GMT -5
That undeniable thirst.
How strong does it burn? How deep does it run?
An attachment to victory is what the squared circle demands of those who seek to reach the summit.
An attachment that runs deeper and burns hotter than all who stand in your path.
A bold-eyed, red-lipped Katya Djurdjevic, whose short skirt bared her tanned thigh at each insolent step, stands at her easel.
She is painting a majestic dragon that counterfeits life splendidly.
The eyes in particular were reproduced with repellent realism.
A hungry glare fitting for an apex predator. Filled with intent… determination… resolve.
“The dragon stands at the pinnacle of the natural world. Nothing and no one can bend its will. Regions never trodden by human foot nor penetrated by human imagination are nothing before it. Thats why we wrestlers must pursue the summit like an unyielding dragon. We must fight for the goal to the bitter end, no matter what it takes.”
Setting down her brush, Katya stares squarely into the fierce eyes of the dragon. Then she turns her earnest gaze on us.
“But there is one other terrifying predator that roams the earth -- one that stands above all others -- the creatures known as humanity.
Did you know? You’re the descendant of the greatest warriors and conquerors in history.
It surprises me when people say they have bad genetics in certain cases.
Just being overweight for instance isn't a sign of bad genetics.
Our ancestors were men that killed for sport, slept in their bear skins, and spent every day wrestling, fighting, and hunting to survive.
Not all of them did. Only a fraction of men ever reproduced. The creme de la creme.
Those that were weak, incapable or slow got passed over by roving wildcats or invading marauders. Fading forever into the mist of the forgotten.
The weak are meat… and the strong eat. But the ones that did survive passed on their genes to generation after generation.
Which brings us to you and I.
Since only the fittest and strongest managed to create new life, the fact is we’ve got the same genetics as the greatest warriors in history.
Which is why when I saw wrestlers mistreating my colleagues in my interviewer days, I asked myself, “Can I stomach being treated this way? When I have all this potential deep inside?”
Katya turns to face us in full, smiling.
“At first, it was about self-defence, but anyone who knows me knows how I love competition.
And slowly, that built into what we have here today.
It’s here. My first ever Pay-Per-View. My first ever title shot.”
Her hands are trembling. Her chest is hot, but her eye contact and voice is ever steady. She puts a hand on her hip.
“I don't know whether my opponents will expose my inexperience at this level, but I’m sure the fans will talk fervently about the theatre of this eight man elimination match for weeks to come. A match composed of some of the best in the country. Deciding who will be a symbol of Pro Wrestling Neo's strength. As for me, this is a crucible without precedent. But destiny does not come to those who wait. Fortune must be seized.
And in this environment, an ordinary fight is out of the question. Now that the people wait in want of a symbol, they don't yearn for a faint light but a dazzling one. It's all about heat, passion and overflowing hot bloodedness! I will offer up everything to awaken to a level of strength surpassing my opponents.
As a wrestler, I've been charged to create an incredible match the moment the bell rings. Neither experience nor status can excuse me from this duty.
The girl inclines her head and smiles modestly.
“I’m well aware I’m the least qualified to be in this match. Some might even say I'm chasing after nothing but a deluded fantasy. Honestly, it's pretty wild to see some names on this card and realize they're not in the main event, but I am. Still... an invitational is an invitational. And I've been invited to compete in this titanic championship match to decide one of Pro Wrestling Neo's great flag bearers. The one who will spearhead Pro Wrestling Neo’s rise in the wrestling industry.
The first rule of being a great is rising to the occasion. So I'll bury whatever gap lies between us.I'll take the top prize and I won't let anyone get close. I must elevate myself to champion.
The problem is the stiff competition in my way. Most of whom each boast a championship pedigree far greater than my own. Looks like I'm in for another uphill battle. See, some wrestlers are in fashion. Some disappear; some become great wrestlers. And some… some are enormous wrestlers. I'll be facing a few of those in this one. And on top of that, few things sting a top star more than allowing a nameless rookie to outdo them in a title contest. They’ll be coming at me like something fierce for sure.
And that's all i really wanted. I'd heard that Pro Wrestling Neo' was home to proud warriors you can't find anywhere else. It is not easy to win regularly at a place like Pro Wrestling Neo where the scrutiny is intense. Here they turn unspanked young cubs into champions, and push champions to the next level.
A secret to success is surrounding yourself with excellence. To compete against the excellent.
That's one of the reasons why I debuted at the Young Guns Cup. To face the best and to build that mindset about myself that's necessary to succeed in this sport.
I lost in the first round, which is frustrating, but getting the first fall on Annie Zellor in record time in your first ever bout isn't something to sneeze at either.
But as painful as that loss was... it was only the beginning. The beginning of something big -- big enough to shake Pro Wrestling Neo to its very core -- the rise of Katya Djurdjevic. Because I'm not here to skate by or make up the numbers. I’m here to win. Tonight may well be the scene of one of my greatest successes. Making a massive statement as I stun the world in what will be an immortal contest.
Oh, sure, I can admit, I'm being very cheeky thinking to take advantage of this invitational. But at the same time… I can feel the draw of raw competition stirring in my chest. There is a lot of room for advancement here. I could be uprooted like a sapling in a flood, or I could l add heroes such as Cosmo Cooper and Isaak Otto to the notches on my belt. This match is nothing more than one of the many difficult trials that stand in the way of my path to stamping my name on the warrior's ladder.
With the calibre of my opponents, I’ll have to show you guys my resolve is superior to yours. This is what it means to have resolve. There is no power in mere words.You will understand my resolve not as mere words, but within your heart. So clean out the wax in your ears and listen up!”
Red hot confidence reflects in the Russian's eyes. There is a strength to her voice now.
“Think twice about underestimating me. Otherwise you'll be swallowed whole by the winds of change. He who is narrow of vision focuses on what is before him, never seeing the big picture… the view that a great champion sees.
Looking on from the outside... is quite different from being inside and feeling it yourself. Which is why hearing it from Class A wrestlers was so priceless for me when I was an interviewer last year.
I got to speak with such a massive variety of competitors. There were those who were prideful down to the very roots of their hair, and others who excited my curiosity. And on top of that, there were the ones whose capabilities are frighteningly excellent. The elites within elites.
And soon, it became clear to me. What's needed to become a great champion is the willpower of a hundred! And also, the arm strength of a hundred! Furthermore, the knowledge of a hundred! And the experience of a hundred and the luck of a hundred too! By possessing all these traits they see the view that a great conqueror… a great champion sees.
Regardless of what the battlefield is like or what the situation may be... they're always.. treating themselves as the heroes and centre of the battlefield, just arrogantly forcing everything and anything else to revolve around them alone.
I will evolve and reach new heights of strength to claim my first major championship - the jewel in the crown of Pro Wrestling Neo - the Grand championship.
It’s only necessary. After all, I'm chasing the backs of your Chandler Scotts, your Emilio Vialpandos, your Bronx Vs... but i don't plan on merely rising up to stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of them. I don't have some half assed ambition like that. I'm going to shoot right past them and become the mightiest champion in history!"
Post by Marilyn Lee Cross on Feb 23, 2019 4:22:47 GMT -5
Marilyn Lee Cross, seated in front of a dining table, is seen with a smile on her face. It's a bit odd, but she folloes this up by looking around with exaggerated motions, almost as if she's searching for someone. The only person she finds is her cat Durango, who saunters into the shot before flopping over to his side, feet stretching out in every direction as he looks up at her. Immediately she begins rubbing his belly, looking up at the camera with a smile.
“You know, I'm not supposed to be in the match. I mean, I wasn't announced for it, so it's probably a little confusing seeing me here, cutting this promo. And up until a few days ago, I would have agreed with you. It would've blown my mind to enter a match I'm not announced for, and act as though I'm not just gonna compete without a problem, but win the whole thing. Crazy, right?
And yet, here I am. Ready to compete.”
Durango begins to purr, rolling over on his back as he looks up at MLC. She continues rubbing his belly, her nails gently gliding through his fur as she shrugs.
“Now, I know what you're all thinking. ‘How is this happening?’ ‘Marilyn, what are you doing, you're stretching yourself too thin.’ ‘You've got your own match to worry about tomorrow, why barge into one the night before?’ And they're all valid questions. There shouldn't be a reason for me to go into this match whatsoever. I should be taking this opportunity to get some last minute rest before I step in the ring with some of, if not the toughest men and women on the Pro Wrestling Neo roster. Show me someone who takes Nora, Manny, or DeMarcus lightly and I'll show you a damn fool. Ezra and Nina? Dangerous as hell. Shane? He'd boot me in the face without a second thought, and I'm sure Tabitha won't stop at anything to claim the Grand Prix Championship. None of them will. I've got seven opponents who are dangerous individuals, and the smart play would be to study tape, train my ass off, and make sure I'm prepared for what comes.
Then again, Twitter will tell you I haven't made the smart move in 2019.”
Another chuckle, another shrug. For those that have followed Marilyn, no doubt they've seen the storm that's followed over the past week or so. Hell, since January. It's been wild, man.
“Honestly, I don't care what people might think. I have spent the better part of two years as the girl everyone thought was naive, everyone thought couldn't make it, that I would just fill a role rather than break out and be THE star. No one saw me as champion, I had to scratch and claw to get my title victories. I'm proud of my few title reigns because no one expected one, let alone four. Could they have lasted longer? Yeah, I wish they did. Could there have been more? It's entirely possible. There were some opportunities, but because I listened to naysayers rather than stick to what I had learned, I either squandered them or let them slip through my fingers. And ultimately, I have no one to blame but myself. I chose to listen to people who wanted me to fail, or worse, wanted me to do well but never as well as they did. I took bad advice. I realize that now.”
Durango has turned over to his side, curled up and softly purring. Letting him get his rest, Marilyn gets up, walking over to the kitchen and begging to get a glass of water.
“The past… three months, I'd say, have changed me. Utterly, completely changed me. I've stared down every bad decision I've made, every insecurity and doubt. It nearly killed me to see where I went wrong, where I hurt people, the negativity that I had allowed to fill my life until I barely resembled the girl who originally entered this business back in Fall of 2016. I had changed, not necessarily for the better or worse, but into something I didn't want to be.
I am no longer content being the girl in the background that's just happy to be here. I'm no longer the girl who's here and waiting for opportunities to come. I'm not supposed to be in this match, and yet I'm here telling each and every one of you that I'm going to be there Night One, competing for this Grand Championship. I am TAKING my opportunities now, and whether people like me for it or not, I can't worry about that anymore. I can't hold back because people might be upset, be sure those who make the biggest impact always have their detractors.
I'm sure most of you don't like that I'm barging in. It's probably disrespectful as hell. But if you were in my shoes and you had the chance, wouldn't you take it? Wouldn't you move Heaven and Earth to enter this match and fight for the Grand Championship? If you say no, you're a damned liar. You'd fight until your dying breath to enter this match, so why hold me to a different standard? I'm fighting for this title, and despite the competitors and the challenge that lays ahead, I'm going into this guns blazing. Is it smart to do that when Cosmo Cooper could elbow me until he knocks me out, or DeMarcus could choke me out? Probably not. But they'll have to get that opportu it, and like fuck if you think I'm giving them the chance to beat my ass. I'm coming into this with a plan, the same plan that I began working on the second I got approval to enter this match. I've had two extra days to prepare for the challenge ahead while you all need to adjust your gameplans for an extra competitor. Is it fair? Shit, is life?"
The question hangs in the air as she takes a sip of her drink, nonplussed by the situation she seems to have put her opponents in. To prepare for seven people is already a difficult challenge, but adding one more? It adds to the stress, if her fellow opponents did, in fact, feel stress. Cosmo doesn't seem like the type whatsoever. Dude oozes calm.
Marilyn doesn't even pretend to shrug, setting her glass down before smiling at the camera.
"It's not what you're really used to from me, I know. But like I told you, I changed. I grew. And either people accept it or not is no longer my concern.
How many people claim to change and grow, but in fact merely pretend while staying the same? How many people do in fact change, but it turns out to be for the worse? They're driven by desire and unhappiness, so they allow it to mold them into people they never thought they would become. They turn into the monsters they swore to defeat, and lose their purpose and self.
I was unhappy with the person I was. I had the desire to change, to grow, to become a better and stronger person because i believed that's what I needed to be in order to be strong. I felt like people looked at me as expendable, like I could be replaced in a moment and no one would even notice. Even when I won a title, this complex made me feel like the moment wouldn't last, that it was just a matter of time before I lost the title and went back down into obscurity.
I had to grow. I had to look at all my faults and work on them to become a better version of myself, one that was strong because of her faults instead of having none. It's not easy admitting that people's perception of you was correct, that you were a supporting character rather than fighting to be noticed. I coasted, I pushed for others to get more opportunities while I told myself I would be fine, and ultimately I held myself back because I was scared to take that next step.
How many good outcomes did I let pass me by because I was scared of the outcome? How many chances was I given in hopes that I'd realize exactly what I could do? I am tired of holding myself back, of wondering 'what if'. From now on, I make my own destiny. I'm taking every available opportunity, and whether I win or lose, I will no longer let my fear of failure hold me back. Maybe this is a smart decision. Maybe I'm screwing myself up for the following night. I don't know.
But this is something I need to do. And no one is going to stop me."
Looking into the camera, Marilyn holds the gaze for a few moments before Durango wanders back into the scene. Meowing, he's picked up by Marilyn as the scene fades.