Chapter View

Business As Not-So-Usual

The Way It Has To Be

Hackers and Hijackers

Mr. Anonymous

The More Things Change

Suspicious Minds

Regret

Nothing Left To Save




Regret

MARK WINDHAM: Should we be honored Ryan? Are we to pretend winning this (Mark holds up the UNIFIED World Title) offers a measure of validation as it once did, when games and personal glory meant more than a check? Maybe weíve both outgrown running to the dinner bell once itís rung. All Iíve sought since winning this belt for the first time was growth.

But, I did nothing more than chase my tail.

You were right Dan. I couldnít see it then, but in the free time working twice a year brings clairvoyance filled the gaps. I was consumed by the pettiness of luxury. Mark Windham. The All-state high school wrestler, the quarterback with Division 1 offers, the greatest athlete Sweetwater Texas had ever seen, the young CSWA legend, did nothing more than dominate every level of competition, climb over every obstacle placed before him. Dan Ryan, it all came too easy, is what Iím trying to say. But that it was taken away just as easily, well thatís the heartache, isnít it? You work your ass off, you look in the mirror day after day and you know your life hasnít been misplaced. All those nights in the gym, on the hard floor, on the open road, with men you donít trust as far as you can throw, bleeding for competitive delirium.

Every moment was worth it, untilÖ

It leaves us with no effort.

You see, Dan, what we are in the greater scheme of things is a pawn. Weíre somebodyís puppet who wants to spend a dollar on something other than fresh fruit. Itís not about us, itís never been about what we as men can accomplish. Maybe you were smart enough to realize that before it was too late, but I kinda doubt it. I saw the way you looked after you broke me in Seattle. I saw what winning (Mark TAPS the belt) this did to you, what it meant. And all that good will soured, didnít it, when Thomas stripped you for show.

And what are we today? As men who victimized each other for this company?

Weíre on call.

Weíre wrestling for this title, because itís the only match up theyíve got. Mark Windham and Dan Ryan, three years later, I guess Thomas hopes it pops a number. But, can we really invest in the effort to save something when it feeds us only on favorable terms?

I broke.

I fell to pieces because everything I took to the shelter with me was a lie. As great as Mark Windham was in his youth, heís been just as big of a disgrace in his thirties. Iíve lost a marriage, a daughter, and the love of my life to this business, but what hurts the mostÖ.what ****ing got me in the end, Dan, was seeing my piece of crap brother cheered like a hero and booked in my place. Nobody was there but me when the hours were put in to becoming a genius in that ring. THAT WAS ME. But, theyíre all there when something new must be sold. Well, kiss my ass, Dan, nobody tell me when Iím done being relevant. Nobody pats me on the shoulder, sends a FedEx memo saying, ďYouíve served well, contract not renewed.Ē

No, Dan.

I am relevant.

I have something left to say.

I have more pain.

Iíve been awakened to the fact that I do still answer the dinner bell, when that gold carrot is left dangling. BECAUSE IT WAS ON MY TERMS. My freaking brother Dan, left as heís done since day one. He ran. Heís a quitter. Heís dirt. Heís dirt Dan. And donít you sit over there and feel like a champ for putting on an A show with the man.

Donít you tell me it was a honor to be put down.

He ran, I pick up the pieces. Thatís my calling. Thatís my destiny. I fell and lost it all, Ivy, my baby, the belt, Paul. I have nothing but a ****ing big house, but Iím past the age where money means anything. Thatís not what I want. I want an apology. I want free will. I want that feeling I had in Seattle, of your back breaking over my knee.

Weíre all thatís left.

Weíre all that banks.

But thatís one manís angle.

Mine is very simple.

(Taps Belt) This is what I live for, in the shell thatís left.

Ivy says she regrets our night.

Our decade.

Our love.

Everybody regrets Mark Windham.

I think you will too.

Weíre not done, Dan. This company, the legacy, itís over. The writing is on the wall. No, weíre not climbing that hill for glory, or THE resume filler. Weíre showing to beat the hell out of someone we canít stand.

Break me again Ryan.

Break me until you have meaning once more.