A cushioned pedestal and a large projector screen dominated the frame. It was lit softly, not allowing any sharp shadows to enter the image without overwhelming the audience with brightness. There was a strange haze in the air, as the CWF Champion’s footsteps crept into the audio space. He soon appeared, holding the championship carefully with two hands aside of the centerpiece, gently handling it.
Softly, he placed the championship on the elevated surface, with the gold standing out without it being too distracting. Two steps back, Silas looked at the belt, before a deep breath.
SILAS ARTORIA: Two years is a long time, Duce.
Suddenly, the screen behind him tuned to a dead channel; static belting throughout the room, before softly tuning into a broadcast. It was a wrestling match from the CWF’s past, at least two years old.
Slowly but deliberately, Silas turned towards the frame. His face was stoic, not making light of what he was about to say.
SILAS ARTORIA: The second match I had in the CWF was a battle royal lost to time. The winner would get a championship that would be defunct a few months later. Several of us, scrambling around and hoping to be the last one standing.
The match became clearer and showed what amounted to younger and downgraded versions of several recognizable faces. Jace Valentine, The Shadow, men, and women who would later become regulars of the CWF.
SILAS ARTORIA: There’s a couple of noteworthy opponents in that match. Some of them would come to define my entire career, from it’s highs to its lows.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s also noteworthy for being the last time you and I ever entered a CWF ring with the intent to win a match.
The footage behind him started playing a montage of clips, ranging from eliminations to several attacks. Kicks and punches here and there, some people getting busted open as was the style at the time. Silas and Duce were exhausted, but the most notable thing about the montage was that the two of them never acknowledged each other. No eye contact, no physical contact, as if the two of them didn’t know each other was in the match.
Both were eliminated, having never laid a finger on each other.
SILAS ARTORIA: Look what happened to us in the interim. We went from the lower card, opening acts, to becoming pillars of the entire company. We went after tag championships, the Impact Championship, the Paramount Championship, before eventually winning the belt I currently held.
He turned to take another look at the big golden belt, sitting on top of the clothed pedestal, like a crown being taken care of. Silas gazed lovingly at it, before returning his attention to the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: We both went through the vigorous trials that the Alpha and Omega Tournament laid out for us, and we came out as different men. Different athletes altogether.
Silas paused for a moment, before a grin emerged on his face, a stark contrast to the comparatively stone-faced approach moments ago.
SILAS ARTORIA: I actually wanted to face you in the final. That performance with Mr. Rishel irked me in the sense that, regardless of whether or not you accepted it, you were the chosen golden boy of the company. They wanted you to take the crown, and declare you as the chosen one.
SILAS ARTORIA: I...hate...anointed ones. Those who were chosen, instead of earning the title through their blood, sweat, and tears as I did.
His head tilted to the side.
SILAS ARTORIA: I wasn’t chosen, Duce. I wasn’t handpicked by management or the people. In fact, I was coming off a major loss that damaged my credibility. No golden crowns offered, no sympathy offered, just a man beginning another downward spiral.
His smile grew wider and he lightly raised his arms.
SILAS ARTORIA: Look at me now. The One True Omega taking the crown after climbing up the tower of corpses.
SILAS ARTORIA: And yet, there was a small hint of dissatisfaction in it all.
His finger pointed towards the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: All because I didn’t get to face you.
SILAS ARTORIA: There have been men and women like you who have entered the ring…
His hand lowered.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...and I’ve felled every...last...one of them.
He takes a look at the title again, still admiring it as if it was the crown jewel of an entire kingdom.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have two matches for the price of one at Frozen Over, and you stand up to me and demand a battle. Not for the crown, but for respect.
Back to the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: Admirable…
His fingers contorted into a clicking pose, ready to cut off the feed.
SILAS ARTORIA: A wish was granted, and we will finally witness who has the stronger claim to the peak of the mountain.
One final smirk to see those watching out.
SILAS ARTORIA: Good luck.
And the feed cuts to the dead channel.