Evolution is over and the roster and staff are mostly cleared out. Still, some people lag.
“The fuck’s taking so long?”
“You’re really asking me why a teenaged girl is taking a long time to get ready?”
MJ Flair’s match was second tonight, after months of closing the show - but she’s still taking forever to clean up and get ready to leave. Additionally, Eric Dane has spent most of his post-debut time in J. Rish’s office, handling contract issues.
This leaves Adrian Evans waiting, oddly patiently, with another newcomer to the CWF.
Adrian: Look, Angus - I don’t know about your arrangement with Mr. Dane, but I get paid a lot of money to be Ms. Flair’s fixer, and for that amount, I’ll never complain about sitting and waiting.
Adrian is talking to Angus Skaaland - best known to the world of professional wrestling as one half of the DEFIANCE Wrestling commentary team. Almost as well known, however, are the deep personal ties Angus has with Dane - everywhere Eric Dane has wrestled, Angus Skaaland has followed.
Angus: What you get paid, I call pocket change. She’s a TEENAGE GIRL. Go tell her to hurry the fuck up, it’s almost bedtime.
In response, Adrian simply laughs.
Adrian: There’s no need to posture, my good man. We both have our roles to play and we both have loyalty to our respective teams, but we have nothing to prove to each other. Besides, Mr. Dane isn’t finished with his business either.
Before Angus can respond, and as if on cue, MJ finally emerges, bag over shoulder and phone to ear.
MJF: Yeah… Yeah, that’s pretty much how it went. Hold on a second.
She looks up.
MJF: Hi, are you Angus?
MJ holds up a finger and returns her attention to her phone.
MJF: Yeah. Thinning hair, a little pudgy… Yeah? … Why? … Okay then.
She holds her phone out.
MJF: I’m supposed to ask you to punch my phone.
Angus looks hesitant, but after a moment he takes a breath and gently taps his fist against the screen. MJ shrugs and returns her attention.
MJF: Yeah, Cally, he did.
Another bit of silence.
MJF: Allrighty dear, love ya.
She hangs up the phone and looks between Adrian and Angus.
Adrian: All okay?
MJF: More or less.
Her attention stops on Angus.
MJF: What’s your deal?
Angus bristles. Adrian chuckles to himself.
Angus: What’s my deal? What’s yours?
MJF: No, no. I mean, what’s up with you and Eric Dane? I remember you from WrestleUTA - you and Dane and the blonde stick and Team Danger, but other than the Danger Boys beating me and Eddie for the tag team belts… we never interacted.
Angus: It’s a long story.
Adrian laughs again.
Adrian: Shorter than you think, Ms. Flair.
Angus: Essentially, your dad’s kind of an asshole.
Adrian: Well, it’s longer than that.
“So… Here we are again.”
“MJ Flair on one side of the ring, Cassandra and Dean Coulter on the other.”
“With a twist.”
“On one hand? Cassandra, you don’t get t’hide outside the ring and be granted the advantage of a free first shot. You’re in my sights, bell t’bell, and that means bad things for you.”
“On the other… Quite possibly, the most talented free agent in the sport today just signed with the CWF, and he’s my tag team partner.”
“Do you know Eric Dane? Have you heard of Eric Dane? Let me introduce you to Eric Dane.”
“Some time ago, there was a wrestling company called WrestleUTA. I started there, and Eric Dane joined the company, maybe six months later? I was still learning my craft; I had good matches, I presented myself well, and I was given various opportunities that I took advantage of. I had a few very brief stints with two of the mid - level singles titles, but found the most success of my career to that point as part of an odd-couple tag team that I’m not gonna delve into the dysfunction of at this point.”
“But the World Title was well and truly dominated by a group of wrestlers that called themselves Dynasty: in my time there, three of them held the World Title for a combined total of four reigns; they were very much into bottlenecking who would get a shot at the top and doing whatever it took to ensure the Championship would remain with Dynasty.”
“About a month after I left the company, Eric Dane walked up to the WrestleUTA World Champion that had literally dominated the entire year to that point, winning the Tag Team Championship with me - I told you not to ask - winning the Legacy Title, and ultimately, winning the World Title. He had literally not lost a match for nine months or so.”
“Until Eric Dane stepped to him, pissed in his face, and took the title.”
“That is literally all you need to know: Eric Dane does not care who you are, who your Oreo Bros are, or how ‘airquotes’ powerful your little cult is: if you’re between Eric Dane and a thing he wants, he’s going to make you pay for it.”
“Can he and I work together? That’s a fair question. The main thing on that is, is there a reason why we can’t? This is a tag team match with nothing on the line but pride. This is my chance to get a measure of revenge on Cassandra for her interference last week, and for Dane to start his CWF career off with a splash. There is literally nothing for either one of us t’gain from screwin’ the other.”
“Cassandra and Dean Coulter, on the other hand… Despite the power you might think you’ve got as a part of some scroatless cult? What’s Dean’s motivation t’do more than go through the motions and make it look good? You’ve apparently got someone he cares about… prisoner?”
“Does that even happen anymore? Do we take people prisoner? Is she in a cell, being fed bread and water and reeducation training like Alex DeLarge?”
“I look at Cassandra, and I honestly need t’wonder… why are you here?”
“Seriously. What’ve you done, anywhere, t’earn a main event match?”
“Would you like to know? I’ll tell you.”
“You tried to hit me with a chair.”
“... Yeah. That’s your only claim to fuck fame. See, at least here in the CWF, I’ve earned a main event. Literally everywhere he’s been, Eric Dane’s earned a main event. Dean Coulter is a former CWF World Tag Team Champion: he belongs in main events.”
“You, Cassandra, have spent your career losing to Caledonia. I know, I know… so did I. But at least I was the World Champion while doing it.”
“The only worry in this match is Dean Coulter. Like I said, as a former World Tag Team Champion, Dean - you’re a good talent and a dangerous man when you’ve got your head in the game. And you’ve got a great rapport with your tag team partner - together, you’re a force to be reckoned with.”
“Just too bad Sam Braxton isn’t in this match.”
Adrian: So, you want to know why your father and Eric Dane hated each other?
Sitting in an out-of-the-way pub in the bowels of Baltimore, Adrian Evans nurses a scotch on the rocks while MJ sips a club soda with lime. The lighting in this place is terrible, but it hasn’t stopped at least a few people in the place from wondering what the young chick is doing with the old midget.
But, of course, fuck ‘em.
Adrian: Keep in mind, I have never actually crossed paths with Mr. Dane or Mr. Skaaland before - but your aunt has given me plenty of information, Ms. Callasantos and Mr. Knox have done the same, in the other direction.
MJ sips her drink, waiting.
Adrian: Mainly, as I see it, the problem is that Eric Dane and your father are incredibly similar. They’re both outside the mainstream. Neither of them have had an easy path to the legendary reputations they’ve earned for themselves, and they’ve got their current respect despite their non-mainstream mentalities. Your father has your aunt Ivy as his biggest zealot, while Mr. Dane has Mr. Skaaland in a similar capacity.
Silence for a few seconds. MJ appears to be soaking this in.
Adrian: A bit.
They suspend their conversation for a moment while a waiter brings over a plate of fully loaded nachos. MJ grabs a handful and crunches down on them, making sure to enjoy as many hot peppers as possible.
Adrian: What did Ms. McGinnis tell you?
MJF: Aunt Ivy told me that Dane was a shallow, self-obsessed twit, and that he’d betray me at his first opportunity. According to her, Dane is an overhyped, under-talented fuckhead that started his own wrestling company because he lacked the ability to make it to the top on his own abilities.
Eyebrows raised, Adrian takes a drink.
Adrian: That makes sense. And what did Ms. Callasantos say?
MJF: Cally called him ‘bossman’ and called him her biggest fan, and called herself Angus Skaaland’s biggest fan. I dunno, it was weird.
Adrian: There’s some truth in all of it.
He eats a few nachos, clearly not in a rush.
Adrian: Your father was never the wrestling mainstream. He was always his own man, and he never compromised himself: not ever. Even with all of that in mind, he managed to catch a spot with the CSWA, the most successful mainstream promotion of the late 1990s and early twenty first century. Your father should be credited with the fact that he was able to carve out a place for himself in the midst of a very conservative company.
MJF: Okay. This isn’t new to me though.
Adrian: I know it isn’t. What may be new is that Eric Dane, at the same time your father was making history, was doing the same on a less public scale.
Angus: *AHEM* ESEN is not the only channel that had wrestling showing across the world in the nineties and double-aughts. justsayingisall.
They both stare.
Adrian: I didn’t say that, and didn’t even come close to implying it.
MJF: Seriously, calm your tits.
Adrian: Anyways, during the same period where your dad was winning the CSWA, FWO, and Asylum World Titles, Dane was winning the Championships in the NeWA and WfWA territories. Less media coverage, no less impressive.
Adrian: So, your father and Mr. Dane had only a few incidental meetings, but the main thrust behind their animosity was the fact that they were so similar.
Angus(Covering his mouth): COUGHBULLSHITCOUGH
Both Adrian and MJ give a knowing look to Angus, who still tries his best to look innocent.
Adrian: So it was pretty simple. Your father, MJ, was envious of the fact that Eric Dane managed to maintain his ‘indie cred’ through his career by working outside the system, and then, of course, making his own.
Adrian: Exactly. And Mr. Dane was envious of the fact that your father was able to work for the biggest companies in the history of this sport, maintain his ‘indie cred,’ and become a legend on his own terms without having to create his own company in the process.
MJ sits back, her head spinning.
MJF: So it’s a matter of ‘I’m more punk rock than you?’ If they’ve got issue, why did he say he was here to repay a favor to my dad? It’d make more sense that he’s doing Cally a favor. You guys know her, right?
For once, Angus is momentarily speechless.
MJF: Cally called Eric ‘Bossman,’ and called him ‘The best boy.’ Considering how close my dad and aunt Ivy are to Impulse and Cally, it’s weird.
Angus: That’s easy. Impulse and Cally worked for DEFIANCE. They worked GORRAM hard for that place, and Dane appreciates loyalty.
It’s as if a light bulb goes off over her head.
MJF: That’s it. Loyalty. Respect. In the long term, Eric Dane and I need to figure out a reality where we can bury all the shit between him and my family. In the short… we just need mutual respect.
She sips her drink.
MJF: I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem.
“You called yourself a Queen, Cassandra.”
“That makes sense. That’s how you and your SSRIentologist idiots see yourselves.”
“Considering you’ve done nothing but fail in the CWF to date, I have to assume that it’s an honorific inside your lil’ cult. Does it mean anything? Am I s’posed t’be impressed?”
“Queen Cassandra of the Institute.”
“Who the fuck cares?”
“Time and time again, the SSRI and the Ouro Borealis are presented to the CWF as a whole, as the most deadly, devastating force any of us could face.”
“Every time. Literally. Every. Time… you people stumble on the last step.”
“Why is now any different?”
“The Childlike Empress is considered a beast, and I make him my bitch.”
“Jace Valentine joins the Institute to stack the deck and win him the CWF World Title, and he loses it on his first defense.”
“Dean Coulter, you and Sam were the CWF World Tag Team Champions, you hooked up with the Institute for… reasons… and you lost.”
“Queen Cassandra, your entire history in this company is getting beat by Caledonia and getting a chair to the face by Eric Dane.”
“Remind me again… why should any’a you chucklefucks be taken seriously?”
“That’s right… you’re the monsters under the bed. You’re the demons in the closet. You’re the ones who knock.”
“The problem, Oreos, is that no matter how threatening you try to be… no matter how much you try to portray yourselves as monsters… We do not fear you. We are not intimidated by you.”
“There’s a line in the sand, Cassandra. You’re the monster? We’re the monster slayers.”
“If your entire hope for this match is the variable of Eric Dane, you’ve got no hope. You’re simply too small-minded to understand that the CWF is not the end-all, be-all of professional wrestling, and you can’t fathom the fact that an athlete that hasn’t made his bones literally in front of your faces is literally better at this than you.”
“Pop quiz, cunts: what do you call a cult that doesn’t matter?”