Mariella, Mariella, Mariella.
It’s been the damndest thing, this little dance that you and I have had of late, hasn’t it? And here we are, just a few short days away from the final steps in our little tango. It simultaneously seems like just yesterday that you and I first stood across the ring from each other...all the while, it also feels like I’ve been living this hell for a lifetime.
That’s the thing about chance encounters in this industry, Mariella. Just about everything in this fucked up business of ours is about a duality. There are those who are cheered, and those who are booed. There are those who are driven to good works, and those who only seek out their goals, no matter the means that take them there.
There are those who understand history, those who understand how it affects our futures, and those who are ignorant to these truths. Perhaps they are willfully blind, perhaps they are truly blissfully unaware. Doesn’t really matter which it is, MJ - the outcome more or less stays the same.
Ignorance of the law isn’t a valid defence. Doesn’t matter if that’s a law of man, or of nature.
I was recently reminded of my own past, Mariella. The one long before you entered my purview. Don’t worry, though - I know that you’re the sort of self-absorbed, inward-facing, narcissistic little child who doesn’t like it when the spotlight isn’t on you - I will return to our shared history soon.
See, my brother Ian’s been on my ass lately about what I’m going to do after wrestling. As if there is a world after wrestling. As if there’s a Jarvis King without wrestling. As if this isn’t all that I am, all that I have ever been, and all that I will ever be. As if this business isn’t my lifeblood pumping through my veins, the very air that I breathe. As if the very essence of what I am is not tied up in this industry.
Ian’s been all over me about figuring out what’s next. With the way things are going in Halifax these days, he was pressuring me to get into investing in real estate. We’d been to a few properties, but nothing seemed to appeal. I had seen a number of low-cost rentals; Halifax is a university town, by and large. We have three major universities, plus a half a dozen career and vocational colleges. This means that there’s always money in rentals. The problem is, I can’t imagine anything more boring.
I mean, other than this anecdote.
So we move on to condos. Big money in buying up condos and turning them into short-term rentals ala AirBnB. The issue with this is that there’s going to be a lot of regulation coming around these soon, Mariella. Right now it’s the wild west for this sort of gig-economy-style apps, and sooner rather than later the Lyfts and Ubers and AirBnBs of the world are going to be subject to the sort of regulations that they attempted to duck by disrupting the marketplace. I hate that I know all of this, to be honest.
Don’t worry, we’re going to get back to wrestling in a minute.
This one day, this particular day that I’m describing, we found ourselves at a building that seemed so familiar to me. It was a part of town that I hadn’t been to in many years, but things hadn’t changed at all. Burnside - an industrial park headed out towards the suburbs. The kind of place where you don’t go unless you have a reason to.
“I think this is the last one for today,” said Ian, his voice weighed down by the weariness of the task that he had set himself. I simply grunted a reply. I didn’t want to be there, Mariella, but I was suddenly transfixed by the building that laid in front of us.
See, I was being transported back to a time in my past. A time when I was probably not a whole lot younger than you. A time where I was full of piss and vinegar, and a desire to prove myself.
“So this is not a residential building,” Ian said, pouring over some documents in front of him that gave the tech-specs of the property. “Has a long-term tenant, so you don’t even have to try to fill it.”
I knew all of this, Mariella. I knew that it was non-residential, setting aside the fact it was in a non-residential part of town...I knew that the plain, brick building that we were parked in front of had four rooms - two changing rooms, each with a somewhat suspect shower, a modest office with an old-school water cooler and a coffee pot that always seemed to have a half a pot of coffee sitting on its burner, and a large, cavernous gym.
I knew this because it was a part of my history.
History...now, you and I have history, don’t we, Mariella? You probably think that recent history has things going in your favour. And, even I have to admit, I understand why you’d feel that way. The last three times we’ve been on opposite sides of the ring you’ve got the better of me. Things are looking pretty good for ole MJ, aren’t they?
Honestly, your simple-mindedness is galling, appalling, and all too predictable.
Look back closer on those victories, Mariella. Think hard about what those victories actually looked like, and a much different picture begins to form, doesn’t it? Once you stop patting yourself on the back and start to really examine the circumstances, suddenly MJF isn’t the big fucking hero that you undoubtedly think you are.
You won a tag match - granted, a pinfall victory over yours truly. No mean feat, to be honest. I can’t take that away from you; the history books will show that on that particular episode of Evolution, Mariella Jade Flair pinned Jarvis Jay King. In a match in which I was forced to work with a psychopath that I couldn’t begin to trust. A match in which your partner was someone who you not only respected, but maybe even kinda liked.
You won on Pay Per View. Big time deal, that. Not a lot of times that Jarvis King loses on Pay Per View. That’s a pretty exclusive club that you joined...pretty much only the likes of Angelica, Chaolin Sahn, Big Sexay fit into that bracket, and your name is etched next to those hall of fame talents. Of course, none of them were gifted their victories by me. All of those other names...they didn’t simply win, they had to beat me. They had to best me, rather than just be the victim of my mistaken attempt to teach you a lesson.
As I stepped into the gym, the clunking of the heavy double doors echoed throughout the space and I was blinded slightly by the reflection of the late-afternoon sun hitting the floor-to-ceiling mirrors on the opposite side of the room. Instinctively, I found myself walking along the side of the room, not daring to step towards the centre of the wooden floor as I made my way around the circumference.
I could hear my trainer yelling at me about scuffing the floor with my street shoes. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end, remembering him lecturing me about respecting his gym. My stomach turned over as I recalled those tentative first steps towards locking up for literally the first time.
“I was wondering when you’d come,” came a gruff voice from the darkened office in the south-west corner of the building. It was closely followed by echoing footsteps as a man, my height and build but some 30-odd years my senior. Pushing 70, he still cut an imposing figure, MJ. I don’t know if you can understand this, having been given everything from Daddy...there was something about this guy that still stirred something deep in me, from a primal part of my psyche.
Mark Dark. My trainer.
When Jon Stewart came to the top of the ramp this past week and dropped the stipulation - get disqualified and be disqualified from Golden Intentions - I can’t blame you for celebrating. It’s a predictable reaction from you, Mariella, and you’re nothing if not predictable. The only thing more predictable than you, though, is that you’ll not quite see the full picture.
Stewart’s move, ostensibly, is to prevent me from taking the same sort of action that I did at Twilight of the Gods, when I wrapped a steel chair around your body. Simple fact is, that’s not necessary, MJ. There’s no risk of me disqualifying myself at Golden Intentions, because of...well, my intentions.
At Twilight, I didn’t strike you with that chair out of desperation or from any sort of desire to deny you the chance to beat me fair and square; that was never my concern, MJ, and it never will be. What I was trying to do at Twilight of the Gods was teach you a lesson. A lesson that you’ve needed teaching for a very, very long time. I
It’s the same lesson that I tried to teach you when I shoved you off the top rope at Evolution 50. This lesson that you need to learn is the reason that I stuck my hand up when you were looking for a quote-un-quote “real” challenge. It’s the same reason I was so fucking furious when you were gifted that win by that idiot referee. It’s why, MJ, we’re still doing this little dance, you and I.
“So,” said Mark, his voice rough from his years shouting at crowds as a journeyman wrestler, running the roads from town-to-town, smoking god knows what, god knows where, with god knows who. “Bump card’s filling up, isn’t it?”
I shook my head. “No,” I said, my own voice barely above a croak.
Mark looked at me, his eyes narrowing slightly as he straightened up. “No what?”
“No sir,” I said, instinctively. He nodded his approval.
“So if it ain’t that, what brings you back? Not to say I don’t have time for you... I mean…” he gestured around at the empty room, “it’s not as if I’m busy with students.”
“I think,” I said, unsure of what I was saying as the words formed themselves, “I’m going to be your new landlord.”
Someone needed to smarten you up to the reality of this business, Mariella. Someone needed to teach you that the charmed little existence that you lead is a fucking fraud - a facsimile of a facsimile, a copy of a copy. See, you’ve gotten to lead your life, your career, believing that it’s the MJF show. You’ve been duped into believing that’s the natural order of things.
And I gotta tell you, Mariella. That makes me fucking sick.
You’ve had your run at the top of the world, and believe me, I know that it’s not for a lack of talent. You’re a good performer, Mariella. But you think that because you were born into this business, you’re owed something from it. You’re fucking not, and your sense of entitlement churns my goddamn stomach.
I think back to WrestleFest, where it was a fucking Flair family reunion, and I found myself wondering who fucking invited Mumsie and Daddy to the party? Who bowed down and made you the fucking princess, Mariella? And most importantly, where was the person to stop the madness?
See, your family may be wrestling royalty elsewhere, but the CWF? That’s the house that Jarvis King built, sweetheart, and the fact that you’ve main evented WrestleFest and I haven’t is a goddamn travesty. The fact that the Flair Family Barbecue closed the CWF’s biggest show of the year rather than the re-coronation of the King...there are a lot of reasons I dislike you, MJ...but that one, oh that one….it takes the cake.
So when Stewart said that I couldn’t get DQ’d...I found myself smiling, MJ. Oh, sure, not at first, but once I had a bit of a chance to have some clarity of mind. See, I thought the way to teach you the lesson you needed to learn was by hurting you. I know that’s wrong now. I’ve seen the light in that regard, Mariella.
The real way for you to learn is to embarass you. To beat you. To show you that the silver spoon in your mouth is tarnished when compared to the grit and hard work and sacrifice that I had to make in Mark Dark’s gym in order to become, frankly, a better competitor, a better champion, a better wrestler than you’ll ever be.
And then I go on, Mariella. I go on and fix the mistakes of the past. I win Golden Intentions. I go on to WrestleFest and beat whatever jabroni is the champion by that point...and I am king in name and deed once again.
And MJ? You should see me in a crown.