Five Years Ago...
Dan Ryan is stalking through the hallway, fuming. He slams his fist on a door and it flies open. He peeks in briefly but no one is there. He keeps going and does the same thing twice more with the same result. He stops short as he sees a hastily written sign set up in front of an open doorway with “Reception for Dan Ryan” scrawled on it.
Dan grits his teeth and quickens his pace toward the door and looks in where he sees the FIST of DEFIANCE Eugene Dewey across the locker room leaning against the opposite wall, wearing a pair of sunglasses suspiciously similar to those missing from Dan’s bag and pulling an ill fitting ‘Ego Busted’ t-shirt over his head.
Eugene Dewey: [looking up with a smile]
Sup dood? Question, how the hell do you get this thing over that cinder block you call a head? Also, I feel like Geordi La Forge in these things. You sure you’re gonna see me count Lindsay’s shoulders to the mat with these on?
Ryan simply snarls and is across the room in a flash. Dewey is just able to brace himself as Ryan makes contact and drives Dewey into the lockers, making a huge dent. Eugene is stunned but is able to start fighting back as Dan Ryan rains down lefts and rights to the FIST. Dewey gets his arms up to cover his head and manages to twist enough to knock Dan Ryan off of him. Ryan is back on him quick though and soon both men are hitting the ground again, swinging wildly.
Lindsay Troy: [running in]
A crowd of DEFsec come rushing in and pull the two men apart. Eugene Dewey has a bit of blood coming from one side of his mouth but otherwise has a huge shit-eating grin on his face. Mission accomplished. Ryan is seething, being held back by no less than four men. Troy gets in between and gets right into Dan Ryan’s face.
BACK OFF! GET CONTROL OF YOURSELF!
Ryan ignores her completely, practically spitting in anger in Eugene Dewey’s direction. Troy gets up in his face again and gives him a hard shove in the chest. He barely moves, but it gets his attention.
Lindsay Troy: [in a deadly serious tone]
I said GET CONTROL OF YOURSELF.
Dan Ryan stares her down for a few tense moments, and for a second she isn’t sure if the big man is gonna listen. He looks from her to Dewey again, who now gives Ryan a little wink.
Dan snarls at the FIST, but before he can lunge at Dewey again his attention is drawn by the number one contender as she intentionally clears her throat.
Go walk it off, Dan.
Ryan steps back a few steps, now in the doorway, and nods.
Yeah…. good idea. Walk it off….. walk it off.
Ryan turns and stops, back to the room, cracks his neck, then leaves, and not silently. The wall on the outside of the room takes the brunt of his frustration and he slams a fist into it. Meanwhile, the FIST of DEFIANCE stares at Lindsay Troy inside the locker room, giving a little smirk but saying nothing. She narrows her eyes and thinks the situation over, but there is a group of DEFsec in between the two of him. After a moment of temptation, she leaves.
"So... that's how it's gonna be...."
Dan Ryan looks out over the expansive view of the Rocky Mountains from his hotel balcony, his breath visible in the crisp morning air.
I have to say, I'm impressed, Duce. I'm truly impressed. I've had such a good time getting to know you these last few weeks. It's a breath of fresh air that I have a challenger who isn't either constantly reapplying his eye shadow or constantly cackling like a twelve year old on laughing gas, and who instead is thinking about how to get the job done in the ring. I assume you don't have some sort of lost love that you want to talk about for an hour before our match at Vertigo.
Ryan leans on the balcony railing.
Strategy is a specialty of mine, you know. Sure, it's fun to just punch people in the face, kick them in the teeth and then spike them on their heads. But the real joy comes from the chess game, you see. Moves and counter-moves and plots and plans.
You're a young man, right? Twenty-four years old or so?
You probably think you know it all. God knows I thought I knew it all at twenty-four.
Well, you took the first big shot. I applaud you for that. A loaded knee strike to the head. Good one. Big win for you. Yes, big win. For you. Here's the thing...
There wasn't anything on the line, was there? I've been feeling you out since I found out it would be you and I for the championship at Vertigo. You just showed me one of your cards. It was a good card, but I dunno, I may have saved that Ace for title time. Yeah, I dunno.
I wonder wonder wonder... if maybe I could come up with an Ace or two. It's an I Quit match after all. No disqualification, no count outs... just you and me and whatever I can come up with for you. You took a good shot, it's true. But now I get to take mine. I wonder...
Ryan glances thoughtfully at the camera.
I haven't been here all that long. This Byson Kaliban fella... are you two close? What about family? Siblings? What about Freddie Styles here? Who asked to have him fed to me this week after that stunt you pulled last week with the chain?
Do I look like a chump to you, Duce? Do I seem like the kind of guy to take something like that and not come back hard to give you back your receipt? It may not be you in that ring, but it looks like it's gonna be someone close to you. How long have the two of you been partners? A while? I bet the two of you have gotten really close. I bet you guys hang out, have barbecues with your families, trade Christmas cards.... I bet your wives or girlfriends get along great, they go out shopping together and you have family game night. I bet you're a killer when y'all play Risk, right? You sneak attack don't you? Hey...
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Ryan smiles a wide grinning smile.
I couldn't agree more.
So here's the deal with Freddie Styles, and Freddie, I do apologize for speaking mostly to Duce.... but Freddie Styles might as well be my personal punching bag this week. Freddie, you might as well be a heavy bag hanging in my gym, swinging back and forth at the mercy of my punches and kicks.
Don't worry too much. This isn't one of those times where I'm so tired of all of you that I'm just gonna take you, spike you on your head and put you in the hospital for six months. No no no, we're just getting started here. We don't need to be so dramatic.
For now, I'll settle for throwing a little fujiwara armbar on you and tearing a ligament or two. It'll be okay if you miss six to eight weeks of in-ring action, right? Your tag partner seems to have moved on without you anyway.
Ryan places both hands on the railing, leans in and then pushes off, standing back a step or two in the center of the balcony.
I've got this temper, you see. It's gotten the best of me in the past. And when it does get the best of me, it usually doesn't turn out very well....
Ryan glances at the camera with a sinister smirk.
...for everyone else.
Lindsay's here now... (Ryan waves a hand) ...so maybe she can help to keep me in line. (Ryan chuckles) ...but probably not.
Times are changing for everyone around here. I'm the World Champion, and I'm unlike anything you have ever seen. There are literally hundreds of men and women in the business you can ask about what happens when you test me. I find it enjoyable hurting people. And you, Freddie, you're just the next man up.
This is a big week for you, man. You get a free shot at the best of the best -- and I've got a little present for you...
Ryan sneers at the camera, then turns and stalks away.