9th April, 2019 - Pepsi Center, Denver.
There is a special room for champions, complete with the luxuries that would need to accommodate these figureheads. It was implemented relatively recently after some complaints of champions sharing the dressing room with rookies got to management, and it was a luxury that Silas would find himself in.
Hidetaka Ito, a man he fought in a ladder match and the stiffest striker to have ever walked the earth, had revealed himself to be the shrouded man in black. First, it was a simple rescue, then it was a phone call, and then it was the man himself.
It was difficult to describe the complex thoughts that went through Silas’ head. One of shock, from a man who resided several thousands miles across the Pacific would come to specifically help him. One of horror, as he knew he would’ve been watching his progress from a rookie in Paris to a major draw, and witnessing his many, many falls as he failed to capture one title in his relatively long tenure with the company.
Finally, there was one of pride. The man made the journey just for him, and no one else but him.
It was the adrenaline that was needed to finally put Jimmy Allen away for good, not with the Fall of Man, but with Ito’s Burning Hammer. He wasn’t sure he was able to pull it off, but the simple set up was enough for Silas to execute it well.
It gave Silas the Paramount Championship, it gave the long journey an ended, and it gave the Canadian a sense of emotional relief. He finally did it, and did so in front of the man who taught the young boy everything he knew.
He was saddened to hear that Ito had retired, but during that time his downward spiral was in full flux, reaching its peak during Summer Games as the Passenger exert more control with Silas’ lack of desire. But the uphill battle gave him everything he needed. It gave him a new purpose, a new life, and a fresh outlook.
This man was placed upon a comfortable sofa within Silas’ new dressing room. White instead of the dullish grey, and far brighter than the gloomy, demoralising, repetitive boredom of the old room. Silas could barely move a muscle, and slumped within the sofa like a sack of potatoes.
Until Hidetaka threw a large ice bag on him.
SILAS ARTORIA: JESUS CHRIST!
Silas struggled to take the freezing cold surface off him, but was eventually successful.
SILAS ARTORIA: THE HELL WAS THAT FOR!?
Hidetaka chucked in amusement.
HIDETAKA ITO: Muscle recovery.
SILAS ARTORIA: What!?
HIDETAKA ITO: [[It helps you regain muscle control. Like ice baths for athletes.]]
Silas kind of knew what Ito was saying, comparing throwing a sack of ice at him to a planned cold bath. He just wished that Ito would’ve given him prior warning next time.
SILAS ARTORIA: [[At least give me a heads up!]]
Hidetaka smiled for a moment before handing Silas a glass of orange juice, which the canadian was apprehensive about. The japanese man chuckled.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[You acquired different tastes since our last encounter?]]
Silas sneaks out a sly smile before grabbing the orange juice. He drank relatively quickly, completely dehydrated from his battle with Jimmy Allen, as Ito looked upon a perched Paramount Championship. The ivory belt was a sight to behold, vigorously polished and cleaned to the point that the belt could reflect ones image. It was arguably the most beautiful belt the company ever made, with the pure white strap making it stand out from the rest of the Championships.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[Feels good, winning a title, doesn’t it.]]
Silas wasn’t too sure how to reply, he just looked upon his former opponent with some form of confusion.
SILAS ARTORIA: [[Why are you here, Ito-san? Why come from Japan?]]
A deep chuckle escaped with Ito.
HIDETAKA ITO: When you enter the wrestling business, you will never retire from it. Your body may be broken and torn from the years of wars but your soul will remain passionate. It will crave for the business and will stop at nothing until it gets it’s fix.
HIDETAKA ITO: I retired from the business as a participant, but time has allowed me to check in on you, and I saw a broken down man with little hope for himself. He was improving but couldn’t grasp the ledge that would lead him to a different plane of greatness. He was improving but he was missing something, and it was the sight of him in a broken state after a Last Man Standing Match, I had to come and personally chuck up on you.
Silas looked at Ito for only a few moments, before clutching his ribs lightly. The Last Man Standing could only be described as a slaughter, and it solidified his thoughts that he wasn’t going to be successful in a way that was meaningful.
SILAS ARTORIA: I won’t lie. It’s been rough. I tried building something but it was crushed thanks to outside factors, and anything important beats me every time. I tried banging on the same wall again and again until it would eventually crumble.
Deep breath, he looked at the Paramount Championship. His.
SILAS ARTORIA: I guess it worked eventually…
SILAS ARTORIA: ...although it was more because I didn’t want to let you down.
He looked back at Ito, but before he could open his mouth, Ito spoke first.
HIDETAKA ITO: Do you know why i was a champion for so long?
SILAS ARTORIA: Because you fought on and overcame your challenges. Exhaustion is one hell of a hurdle.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[A minor element.]]
Silas’ expression changed. Battling opponents was a minor element? But it was why he was able to win! He held the belt for nearly two years in his last run, but the matches were minor elements!? How?
The expression amused Ito, whom pulled up a chair and sat opposite to Silas.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[Just became you leave school doesn’t mean you should stop learning. No matter how easy the challenges may be, you should always learn and never falter. The moment you get comfortable is the moment you get complacent, and that leads to failure.]]
HIDETAKA ITO: [[I got complacent once, recently. And that’s what lead me to you.]]
Silas’ eyes shoot open. He knew that the Crescendo tournament was full of people more experienced than him, and would completely waste him to the point of embarrassment, but to learn why he won?
SILAS ARTORIA: Impossible.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[You were naught but a young pup, and now you are the wolf.]]
Ito rests his hand on Silas’ shoulder.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[You finally learned that tonight, and I hope it sticks with you.]]
Silas was frozen, he wasn’t sure how to respond. Does he say thank you? No, too casual, too common for someone of Ito’s stature. Go emotional? No! Weakness, can’t show that in front of this man who flew from Japan just for him.
Still, it was eye opening, and he knew what it mean’t to him.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ito-san, can you join me in the middle of the ring next week? I have some things I want to say.
Ito smiled and stood up.
HIDETAKA ITO: I would be honoured to be on stage with the new Paramount Champion.
Beat and a smile.
HIDETAKA ITO: The champion’s request should always be granted.
He stood up and started walking towards the exit.
HIDETAKA ITO: I’ll see you next week, wolf. Get some rest, and think long about what I’ve said.
SILAS ARTORIA: Most certainly.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[Good night, and goodbye!]]
He closed the door behind him and left Silas alone in his new locker room, and despite the flash and comfort it provided, it was all window dressing to Silas. He just gazed long at the door Ito had entered and left through, and lingered on the words he just said. It was hard to describe what he was feeling; it was a cocktail of emotions, and the quiet time allowed him some piece.
PASSENGER: I hope this man isn’t too much of an interference.
SILAS ARTORIA: Far from it.
20th April, 2019 - Clive's Kickers Jazz Bar, Oklahoma City.
A lonely, empty bar fades in, with a bartender tending to a patron, and musicians playing the music of saints. It was a Wednesday, so the establishment didn’t anyone else in; they were too busy with what the weekday had in store for them.
The bartender hands two men, Silas Artoria and Hidetaka Ito, a drink each. One had orange juice with a pineapple slice hanging over the edge, and the other was a cloudy, strong sake. They take their respective glasses and look at each other.
SILAS ARTORIA: To our partnership.
HIDETAKA ITO: To your future.
A light clang, and the two sip their drinks. Silas eyes the frame, and smiles comfortingly.
SILAS ARTORIA: We have just started the beginning of a new chapter in the CWF. We have a new champion in the form of me, and the Paramount Championship is no longer the afterthought belt. When I went into that ring at the start of Evolution, I did it with one goal in mind, and that was to put the belt and it’s upcoming bouts back on the radar.
He turns to Hidetaka.
SILAS ARTORIA: [[How is it?]]
HIDETAKA ITO: [[Not too bad.]]
Back to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: And here we are, celebrating that accomplishment. I’ve finally gotten out of my painful cycle of rising and falling, I’ve made it clear that with each bout it’s going to get more difficult to read my movements thanks to my dedication to continuous learning, and I’ve lifted the Paramount Championship in terms of prestige.
He takes another sip of his drink.
SILAS ARTORIA: So...what is the first thing that happens to me when I put the Paramount Championship forward?
SILAS ARTORIA: I get put into a ten-man tag which has me teaming with some people who don’t exactly like me, a guy who has never competed in a CWF ring before, and Moe Davis. If I was an educated man, I would assume that this matchup was made to ensure that everyone would target me.
A small, wicked smile escapes him.
SILAS ARTORIA: But…
He takes a glance at Hidetaka.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve got Ito-san with me, and despite his looks, he is the toughest son-of-a-bitch I have ever encountered!
He delves into thought.
SILAS ARTORIA: Isn’t this the first time I’ve cursed in front of the cameras?
Glance at Hidetaka.
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, it is warranted.
Back to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: His famed Burning Hammer that put down Jimmy Allen is the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. If you get hit by it, you are going to need medical attention. Your eyes roll into the back of your head, and when you wake up, the world won’t be the same to you. This is why he is going to be joining me at ringside every match, because his wisdom is invaluable to those fortunate to be given it.
Another sip from his drink, before simply leaning forward in thought. What to say next, what to focus on.
SILAS ARTORIA: So...because of me, and not just because of the man in the passenger seat.
He looks back at the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: Let’s go down my opponents. The team of Kingston, Kennedy, McVeigh, Murphy, and Impact Champion Graves.
Wicked smile, trademark in it’s consistent appearances.
SILAS ARTORIA: Let’s go through them in order, shall we?
He leans back into his chair and takes out his hand. Time to count the members of disOrder.
SILAS ARTORIA: Kennedy. Young, inexperienced, second to bottom of the bracket. Hasn’t won a match, so her involvement could be best described as a mother forcing her son to take the weird cousin to a birthday party. Lip service, and nothing to worry about.
SILAS ARTORIA: Kingston. No matches on record, no accolades to showcase. Just a boy following a blind dream. A simple squire to the rest of his gang, equivalent to the vague friend who is in the circle because they are the only one who can drive. Except in this case, the driver doesn’t know the concept of a steering wheel. A cow walking into the slaughterhouse, blind.
Next finger. Number three.
SILAS ARTORIA: McVeigh. Another man in a long line of twisted monstrosities that come into the CWF. See The Shadow, Ataxia, and myself! Here’s the big difference. We are actually intimidating to the point that those who step into the ring with us are continuously asking questions. How will they move? How will they react? What can I do? Difference between us and you, Ophelia, is that we actually achieve the basics. Duck egg matches, another member of the band of lemmings.
SILAS ARTORIA: Murphy. The next member in this band of merry circus animals, fitting considering he calls himself “Mad Dog”. Do you know what we do to Mad Dogs? We take them to the vets, put them down, and taxidermy them for decoration. I’ve heard you talk, and you babble on in incoherent gibberish so that alone would be good cause to put a needle in you. Although a brain tumour is required to give the doctors the green light, and if we conducted a MRI scan on your head, we wouldn’t find anything.
Number five, and a small level of apprehension.
SILAS ARTORIA: And thus, we take a look at Graves, the only noteworthy member of this tribe of lemmings. In the short amount of time he has been here he’s already been crowned Impact Champion. And I must say, I’m quite impressed. To rise to become a champion is one that requires hard work and dedication, but your treatment to the belt that I previously contested for is nothing short of...well...insulting. But that’s the point isn’t it?
He sits back up.
SILAS ARTORIA: You wanted to make a point, and it started so well until you revealed your new group. A bunch of preschoolers who would be laughed out of an abandoned bingo hall by the mice. You say you’re going to institute this grand, big change, put the CWF roster on notice, incite a revolution…
He picks his drink up.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...but the reaction from the audience was a resounding “eh?”, judging from their silence. Don’t kid yourself. They weren’t stunned at your audacity. They just didn’t know why someone so brash as yourself would surround themselves with cattle.
Sip of a drink.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know, when I fronted The Coalition with Autumn, Braxton, and Coulter, we actually achieved things as a unit. We stole the whole show, we continuously won, and we bonded over our shared vision of wiping the old slate clean.
SILAS ARTORIA: The difference between the four of us and your little band of merry men is that we left an impression before joining together. It makes that new alliance stand out, whereas it looks like you accepted the first people who walked into a Department of Motor Vehicles outlet. I can get people to take you more seriously, but if the bar is lower than dinosaur bones, it’s not a hard thing to do. “Everyone come see the greatest show!”
He swirls the drink around and around, and looks at Hidetaka. He was clearly being read by them, analysed even.
SILAS ARTORIA: [[He can’t claim the numbers advantage, can he?]]
HIDETAKA ITO: [[No.]]
SILAS ARTORIA: [[Or even the advantage of unity.]]
HIDETAKA ITO: [[No.]]
A deep chuckle escapes from Silas, and he returns his attention to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have the third most wins and the second most losses in the CWF roster, and what does that tell you? You can’t call me a loser because I have the ivory belt, and I have the most wins out of all the holding champions in the company. No…
Another sip, before he looks at the drink and completely downs the last remaining drops. The pineapple flavouring turned out to be only “fine”. Not something he would consider having again.
SILAS ARTORIA: It means I have a wealth of knowledge. Movesets, counters, counters to those counters, finishers, signatures, everything in the book. I’ve faced most of the roster and moreso, and knowledge is the key to victory. You’ve surrounded yourself with students, while I have a teacher amongst me. I think when you formed this group, you thought you would have the numbers to help you, but this is a ten man tag, and I have faced two of my upcoming teammates before. You haven’t had enough time with them to consider yourself a fully fledged us.
He stands up, stretches his back, and looks at Hidetaka.
SILAS ARTORIA: [[Shall we?]]
Hidetaka smiles and finished the rest of his drink.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[Restroom first]].
Silas chuckles, and returns his attention to the camera, but almost immediately sighs with disappointment.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know...I was hoping by the end of the next Evolution that I would find someone to face me for the Paramount Title at the next PPV, but to be honest…
One final smile to see us our.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...none of you are in my league.
SILAS ARTORIA: Farewell, and enjoy the music.
He walks off frame towards the exit, as the continuous, everlasting jazz music sees the viewer out.