Title: Redeeming Steps
Featuring: Freddie Styles
Date: 3/16
Location: Atlanta
Show: Evolution 45

Ever get the feeling like you've been running for a good, oh, I don't know...50 miles? Just for kicks, let's make it 52. So you've been running for 52 miles, and you suddenly come upon a rest stop offering ice cold water. Feeling particularly thirsty, you stop to purchase a bottle...only to find yourself a few cents short. The cashier's some old bastard with an attitude, and refuses to give you a small discount...and you're left with a dry throat and an exhausted body?

Long winded question, I know. But take it seriously for a moment, have you ever felt something quite like that?

Because for a good portion of my time in the CWF...that's how I felt. It's strange, really, that I would feel so damn exhausted bouncing here, there and everwhere. Sorta like my body just got so used to the wrestling business that it refused to work unless under strain. I suppose I shouldn't be all that surprised, after all...this is my life, my dream and my ambition.

Hard to believe the last few months.  The good of another set of tag belts overshadowed with the bad of losing the Impact title, the rematch, and every singles match inbetween that and Confliction. Confliction....where I finally put Clayde and his bands of boys down and out for good.  The wrestling world's pretty much blown up ever since, and I've became an overnight redemption story of sorts. Already, CWF fans are chanting my name nation-wide and as we head to Phoenix, are continuously asking me about how I feel after beating Clyde, just excited enough to speak to the man who did the impossible.

They're acting like children in a candy store and, well...I myself feel like one as well. I've been on a high ever since Conflictionthat I've not felt in a damn long time. It's incredible, the feeling that you get when the fans are already raving over you just after a big PPV win. I'm already enjoying it again like it's the first time...and I really have to thank Clyde for all the response I've gotten. Admittedly, had I not beaten the man last week...I'd just be another face in the crowd.

Now my name's being chanted again, I'm being asked for autographs again, and I'll never be addressed as "That guy who played cannon fodder to the Snake Nation."

It's really just one of the greatest feelings I've had in awhile...I don't think I've felt this great in a while. And now this week I'm heading in for another challenge in Johnny Graves. It's really going to be a rough week from me, from my hopes of heading home to Bama before the show to train, to fly back to Phoenixfor the match, then get to training again.

Free advertising for CWF here: Folks, if you haven't bought gotten your tickets for Evolution yet you really should act soon...this is going to be one to remember.

Going back a bit though, on that whole training thing...I'm actually on my way back to my hometown to see if my old wrestling coach is still running his gym. I was hoping for a bit of nostalgia before I head back west for Evolution...maybe it'll get me ready and focused enough to take on, and hopefully defeat, this Johnny Gravesfellow.

Flight's gonna be landing soon, might as well wrap things up. All of you fans that know me will remember my drive for this business...none of that'll change at all, but I have a feeling you'll be seeing a whole new side of Freddie Styles that never had the chance to come out until now.

I can't promise a victory atEvolution, because this Graves felow is a good dude, and won his 4 way match at Confliction as well...but I can promise change. I can promise that I'll be stirring things up like never before, and that the CWF will be rocked to it's foundation when I'm ready to move. Things aren't going to be easy for me in trying to accomplish my dreams...but they never were supposed to be easy, either. I don't plan on making the same mistake I did before and fall short of my dreams...I hate being teased like that.

It's time that I buckle down and get ready to climb, because it's a long way to the top of the CWF and I've only just made the first leap up again.

It wasn't exactly as he had been picturing it when he wrote about it on the computer.

A spiral of smoke drifts upwards from a solitary ash tray, lying dormat on a oval-shaped coffee table. The smoke swirls with the blades of the ceiling fan, spanning out across the room and hovering like a cloud, tainting the oxygen in the air and bringing with it the smell of tobacco. A single hand swings downward, fingers working quickly to lift the cigarette from it's bed of ashes and glass, and bring it to a waiting mouth above. Lips clamp down on the filter of the cigarette and lungs inhale deeply, a red glow casting at the tip as a set of eyes stare dully ahead at a figure in front of them.

"That's gonna kill you one day, you know..."

"So will life."

Silence filled the room quickly after the sudden intrusion of voices, as the two men sitting at the coffee table stare at one another with equally intense looks in their eyes. The man with the cigarette drops it to the ashtray, flicking the ash off the tip of the cancerous stick and lifting it once more to his mouth.

"Fact of the matter is, kid, anything can kill ya'. From that wrestling shit ya' do ta' this cig in my hand. Hell, nowadays just taking a breath of air might cost ya' life in the wrong place. Ya' can even look at someone the wrong way and they'll whip a .45 out on ya'."

The man takes a drag of his cigarette, inhaling deeply once again with a bemused look on his face. Once finished, he exhaled the smoke and pointed the cigarette at the figure before him.

"Now ain't that some shit, kid? I sit here smokin' my life away...but I ain't even sure the cancer'll get ta' me in time. Maybe some little punk 'round the street corner'll come lookin' for my wallet, an' kill me just ta' get ta' it."

"Whatever happened to you, coach? You've let yourself go after all these years..."

"Time changes people, Freddie...there wasn't much I could do ta' stop it."

The smoke filters through the room, as the dimmed lighting and sad atmosphere made the whole room appear rather melancholy in and of itself. Freddie lowers his head and sighs as he stares down at the stained carpet rug his feet are firmly planted on. Coffee stains, tears from one of the man's many cats...the rug was as tattered as the man's appearance was.

Who would have ever guessed that this overweight and elderly man was, during Freddie's teenaged years, the head trainer at the wrestling school Freddie had attended.

"'least I ain't as bad as I used ta' be...after my wife left me with th'kids I became an alcoholic to chase away the pain. Worked well for awhile, 'till I nearly killed some kid ridin' his bike on the side of the road. Spent a few years in prison for the DUI, then came out and decided ta' take up smoking as a stress relief instead. Been hooked on them since...but on the bright side, I ain't touched a beer bottle in over 4 years now."

Freddie lifted his head, his eyes softening as he looked on at the man who once taught him how to make it in the same game he was playing today. The man, however, caught this look and waved his hand at Freddie, coughing a little as he raised his voice.

"Oh damn it, Fred...don't give me that look ya' little sentimental bastard. I could care less about Mary now, I jus' hope my kids are still doin' fine."

He paused, his own gaze now lowering ever so slightly, before he'd caught himself and looked up to make eye contact once again. His lips, once formed to a deadpan expression, now curled slightly as he smiled the slightist smile he could, forcing a chuckle.

"After all...it's hard not ta' care about them, y'know? I did alot of thinkin' when I did my time...thought about a lotta things, from family ta' old friends. I'd actually watched ya' career in the CWF, kid...you were makin' me proud. last few months might weren't the best, but nevertheless ya' made me proud."

Freddie offered the man a kind smile, leaning back in the couch he was seated in as he looked on at the once familiar face taking up the recliner across the coffee table from him.

"I'm glad to hear that, I really did give it my all there...these last couple years working there have been a blast mostly, even if the lows were really low. Just...hard to believe how far I've came ever since you started training me, King."

King smiled and laughed a genuine laugh, placing his cigarette down onto the ashtray and kicking his feet up on the coffee table, his recliner leaning backwards with him.

"So what exactly is it, kid, that ya' came here for anyway? I know ya' didn't just come ta' shoot the shit, ya' gotta have a reason for gettin' ta' me after, what, nearly 15 years now?"

Freddie laughs to himself, looking down at the coffee table as he hunches forward, hands lying limply in his lap.

"I'm facing a new addition to the roster who won his mirst match, so I gotta get sharper to show Johnny Graves that I'm not some flash-in-the-pan wrestler. I thought I could use a bit of training, and rather then go to the usual spots...I was wondering if you'd let me use the old gym one more time."

The ever-so-slightly wrinkled face of King Carleton lit up like a 60 watt lightbulb, dimples forming from the large smile that quickly grew upon his weathered face. Bringing his feet down off the coffee table and then leaning forward, King stretched out his arm to pat Freddie on the shoulder with a small laugh. A small line of smoke drifted upwards towards the ceiling fan from the discarded cigarette as he then stood very slowly, so as to not hurt himself in the process, and looked down at his former student from across the coffee table.

"Ya' were my top student, kid...th'best of th'best. Ya' come here ta' Atlanta when yer' matches are in God-damn Arizona or some shit...an' ya' actually think ya' have to ASK me ta' use the gym? Shit, kid...by all means, it's yours--beat the shit out of it."

Freddie stood with a smile, taking Carleton's hand in his own to shake it firmly as he looked down at him, ready to express his gratitude when suddenly King brought his free hand up to smack him upside the head.

"But stop bein' so damn tall! God-damn, ya' were barely just a fuckin' five-footer first time I saw ya' and now yer' breakin' 6 feet n'up. It's fuckin' crazy."

Both shared a brief laugh, as King reached out for his cane for support as he then led his once prized student onward to a place of their past. In Freddie's mind, him coming here was the best move he could make...for the CWF was a new beginning for him. Therefore, he felt it was fitting to train at the very place he'd began his dream in.

For Freddie Styles...the road to CWF redemption was the place he wanted and needed to be.

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