Chapter View

Business As Not-So-Usual

The Way It Has To Be

Hackers and Hijackers

Mr. Anonymous

The More Things Change

Suspicious Minds


Nothing Left To Save

Nothing Left To Save

(FADE IN....)

(A giant CSWA Backdrop with the numbers " '06 " in the corner....

Dan Ryan stands in front, peering into the camera...)

Ryan: There's nothing left to save, Mark. Not in you. Not anymore.

Here in the CSWA, no matter who has been in charge over the last fifteen years, things have run pretty much the same from the very beginning. When I made my choice in late 2002 to spit in the face of conventional wisdom and destroy the CSWA World Champion on GXW Television, I knew what I was doing. I knew who I was doing it to and why, and I knew the repercussions.

I knew that when Chad Merritt's anger cooled and he finished destroying his office, the flipping of dollar signs in his eyes would offset that feeling of anger pretty quickly as well. All I had to do was let Paul look like the hero for a show. And so that's how it went. I came to Primetime with my belt and Paul played his hero role and jacked me up on the stage. The crowd goes wild and everyone's happy. Receipt paid, justice served.

But that was never to be the end of it. No matter what the sheets say, I'm not one to ever play my cards for the world to see. I was a businessman even then, though not as polished as today. The one thing I always was, however was a top notch wrestler. That was never in doubt and the only reasoned I was allowed to do the things I did in the first place. That and the fact that Merritt knew I wasn't here to challenge the sanctity of his company. I was here for Evan Aho, and it became in the end all too easy an objective.

And I was warned, Mark. Oh yes, believe me I was warned.

Stephen Thomas didn't blindside me when he stripped me of the title. It's common knowledge around the world of wrestling that the ego trip struggles between Thomas and Merritt have squashed many a young career trying to make a way for themselves in this game.

But I had no illusions of grandeur, Mark. Never did. My head was never bigger than reality and I never took that belt or any other belt as anything more than the symbols that they are. They make those things to symbolize who is on top of the sport at any one given time, but it no more completes me now than it ever did back then.

And that's where saving you becomes absolutely impossible.

It's always been more than that to you. The symbol became your God a long long time ago, and for a man of your advancing years it's just too late to make a change of that magnitude. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, can you? Not unless the dog wants to change on his own - and you don't. We both know that you don't.

You've lost it all, that's true. It's unfortunate as well. But stop blaming the game for your situation, Mark. Decisions got you where you were. There were hardly ever any good ones made were there? Only bad and worse. You had five star talent and one star sense. That, and a flair for the needlessly melodramatic.

It's never an honor to lose in a shot at one of the most prestigious symbols of excellence in this sport, and I'll continue to chase excellence as long as I'm an active competitor in this business. But it will never be all that I am.

I'm sorry that your life has taken such a drastically different turn than mine. But the business, the doesn't swallow us all up whole, Mark. My thirties have brought to me the best years of my life. I guess I peaked in my misery early on.

It's never an honor to be put down, Mark. I don't thrill in losing to your brother, but I don't rage in it either - because there have been other shots in the past, and there will be other shots in the future. And...because if I retire tomorrow, I'll still be fulfilled. Everything from here on is icing on the cake. I do it because I enjoy it.

I'm just not on the emotional road to self-discovery that you're on anymore.

But then again, we are going on a cruise.

I suppose it's the perfect place for some baggage.