[Broadmoor Arena, Colorado Springs, Colorado - Post Evolution]
The last of the ring crew filed out from the area where the CWF ring had stood. The smell of the sweat, blood, and beer still hung heavy here. It was a smell I had grown accustomed to at first and then the longer I was in this business, loved. Attired in my travel clothes, dress pants, white button down with black cuff links and my favorite pair of Coghlan shoes. I stand there with the Paramount Title on my shoulder. I smile at the site of the workers cleaning up the mess the faithful left behind.
Jimmy Allen: Dad always called it returning to the scene of the crime.
I quipped to no one in particular. One of the cleaning crew looked up briefly as I had spoken but quickly went back to the task at hand. I turn and begin walking up the ramp. I begin speaking out loud as I go.
Jimmy Allen: Those two were not ready, not by a long way. It’s funny, people sign there name on the dotted line in a match against me and think this is easy. They believe with every ounce of who they are that they can take what’s mine. What I fought for. What I earned. When a professional talks about blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not cliche, it’s just a fucking fact.
The thought of those two knuckleheads thinking they could just waltz in here and make name for themselves at my expense angers me. Now at the top of the ramp, I look back down to where the ring once stood.
Jimmy Allen: Arenas and wrestling rings have been my second home since I’ve been old enough to walk and talk. These places, they are special to me, they bring me peace. They bring a smile to my face. It’s no wonder my father found it so difficult to walk away from the business.
I continue my way through the curtains and what had been our gorilla position. My bag waits there, where I had left it and I snatch it up in one motion as I continue down the twisting hallways. I stop and face the camera.
Jimmy Allen: It’s the question that’s in the back of every man and woman who comes to this business with gold as their goal. “How will I know when it’s time to give all this up?”. It’s a hard question, but an easy answer, “We have absolutely no clue.”. When our bodies quit responding to the demand we place on them I guess is the easy answer.
I turn back to walk away and feel my knee buckle a little. I pause there flex it, I can hear it pop when I do. I cringe at the sound. I take another step and it’s fine. So, I continue on my way as the words to an old Pat Greene song comes to me and I begin to sing.
Jimmy Allen: Mile upon mile, got no direction. We're all playin' the same game. We're all lookin' for redemption. Just afraid to say the name.
[Twisted M Ranch - Texas - a few days later]
I had been contemplating my retirement quite a bit during the last few months. Sure, I’m in the prime of my life. I’m still young and marketable, certainly a viable champion. The thing is when I received the forgiveness from my friends….my brothers. That made me start thinking about this. The fact that the way I won this belt didn’t bother me in the least is what concerned me. The lack of remorse towards the other men in that match who had gotten screwed over.
Jimmy Allen: “Why did I allow that stand?”
“Because it’s a business son, title belts mean more money in your coffers.”
Dad could startle you at times, his words of wisdom rang with truth. It also rang with the bias of the father. Especially when he said it with such obvious pride. I smile at him shooting him a wink.
Mac Bane: So, are you going to introduce me to this lovely lady?
I blush a bit at my own self-absorption. Then I quickly recover and make the introductions.
Jimmy Allen: Of course, sorry about that dad. This is Marrissa, this is my father Alex Walker.
He embraces her in a hug.
Jimmy Allen: Did I mention the fact that he’s a hugger?
She giggles a bit and then all of a sudden it registers in her brain.
Marrissa: Mac Bane?
Dad smiles a slow easy smile and nods briefly, then turns us towards the house.
Mac Bane: Let’s get some lunch before your mom thinks I’m up to no good.
Marrissa looks at me and mouths “oh my god” and I can’t help but laugh. I remember seeing her Mac Bane collection of DVDs. What she hadn’t told me when we first started seeing each other was what a huge wrestling fan she was. She was there the night I won the Paramount title and was the first one to the ring to help me celebrate that.
Mac Bane: What’s so funny Jim?
I chuckle again and explain.
Jimmy Allen: Marrissa is having an out of body fangirl type experience right now. She’s a big fan of your early work it seems.
We stop and he studies her for a moment.
Mac Bane: Smart girl and has good taste too? You did well junior.
[Uptown Dallas - a few days later]
Back at my place, now that she had met my family. They fell in love with her right from the beginning. Her knowledge of our industry made her a hit with everyone. She was still in the bedroom talking to my sister Jules on the phone. It made me smile, for the first time since I can remember, my family actually approved of someone I was dating.
Jimmy Allen: Back to the task at hand.
I stand and cross the room and begin recording my promotional for the pay per view.
Jimmy Allen: Well kids, here we are one more time! This time, as a defending champion. Time after time people has counted me out or written me off. I’ve been the underdog for as long as I can remember. Some things never change. See, I did something I’ve never done before over the last few shows. I allowed Silas his time in the spotlight with his mic drop moments. It was important for him to have that. It was more important for me to allow him to have that. You see, Silas is one of those people who absolutely has to have the spotlight. It has to be firmly on him or he goes full tilt.
I pause there for a moment and allow that to set in.
Jimmy Allen: Yes, that’s right, I called Silas Artoria a spotlight whore. I’m not wrong. The simple matter of the fact is. We all are in this industry. Without the support of the fans, we are nothing more than glorified pit fighters. Whether that support is adulation or contempt makes little difference. The reaction is the reaction after all. I’ve been on both sides of that throughout my career and it feels amazing no matter which I get. The fans here, they are amazing, and they deserve the best we can give them every week.
I pause again and allow a bittersweet smile to cross my lips.
Jimmy Allen: At vertigo, it will be no different when Silas and I take center stage. You will get the very best of what we each bring to the table. I’ve made no bones about the fact that I don’t like Silas Artoria. That doesn’t change the fact that I have a massive amount of respect for what he presents week in and week out. That man, as annoying as he is. He’s still a tremendous talent and a credit to what we do. So why do I respect a man so much that goes out of his way to try and make others look weak or unworthy?
I begin pacing back and forth, temporarily disappearing from the frame before returning to center.
Jimmy Allen: Because his talent is undisputed. Whether you like him or not, you must give credit where it’s due. He was able to do something I never could. He did manage to beat MJ to gain a title shot. That in of itself is noteworthy. Now, when it comes to me, he made some mistakes. He won’t recognize them as such, but I’ve come to expect nothing less from him. He kept trying to paint me as some kind of villain.
I pause once again, allowing a smirk to come to my face.
Jimmy Allen: They say that no matter how good a person you are, you’re still a villain in someone’s story. That being said….I’ll be your huckleberry, Silas. You see kids this is the part of the story where I tell Mr. Atoria how he fucked up.
Now my mood changes as I get down to business.
Jimmy Allen: I stood there and allowed you to paint me as the bad guy to the fans and anyone that would listen to your bullshit. I allowed you to think you gained the upper hand with a ladder match. More importantly, I allowed you to think that you are somehow relevant. That you matter to anyone other than yourself. That’s the trap that you were allowed to use on yourself Artoria. It was all I could do not to bust up laughing at your dumb ass as you trapped yourself. You painted yourself into a corner.
I cross my arms across my chest and allow my training to take over, taking the anger away and back to a more rational posture.
Jimmy Allen: You tried without much success to turn the fans against me. You tried to make them believe that somehow I did something wrong. Did you have me beat in that match, yes, no question about that. I wasn’t the one that screwed you over Silas. Too bad you’re not as much of a ring general as you think you are. Otherwise, you would have continued the battle and done more damage to the one person that was a threat to you in that match. Me! I was the one man in that match that had the pedigree and experience to take you out.
I smile at the camera as I continue.
Jimmy Allen: You turned your attention from me to the chaos around you and it cost you. The inspector or whatever the hell his name is should have been the subject of your ire. I did what I’ve trained to do my entire life. I pinned your shoulders to the mat and the man counted three. So, what I’ve said so far is probably going to get me labeled a disrespectful bastard. I’m okay with that. The next mistake you made Silas and this was the real gem. You thought that a ladder match would favor you?
I drop my arms down by my side and shake my head mouthing, “no”.
Jimmy Allen: Fun fact Silas, I’m undefeated in ladder matches. A little history lesson for ya. About six months into my rookie campaign. I was teamed with a man named KC3, we were known then as The Paradigm Shift. We won the tag team championships in a ladder match. This gives you no advantage Silas. The only question is, will I drop the lone star on your face before or after I take my belt off that hook?
I smile at the camera one last time.
Jimmy Allen: Well, we’ll be finding out very very soon. Bring everything Silas, you’re going to need every ounce of everything you are to beat me. As long as I take a breath Artoria, I’ll be the bane of your fucking existence.