“You’re not here to party.”
Dan Ryan throws his suitcase onto a bed in the Grand Studio Suite of the Maison De La Luz in New Orleans. Cecilia Ryan is standing at a grand styled and ornate window looking out over the French Quarter.
“You bring me to a fancy hotel in the French Quarter and tell me not to party? What is this, your version of torture?”
Ryan looks up.
“My version of torture looks nothing like this, I assure you.”
Cecilia rolls her eyes and looks back at the hustle and bustle outside. Ryan goes back to what he was doing, getting himself set up for the next few days leading into Golden Intentions.
He walks over next to his daughter, eight inches shorter than he, and looks out.
“I agreed to this. You’ve been begging to train ever since you were little. If you’re gonna come along and learn the business, I want you to take it seriously.”
“I’ve only been serious about this, dad. Nothing else has ever mattered to me.”
Silence lingers for a moment.
“I know.” Ryan glances at his daughter, every bit her father’s daughter, with the added genetic lottery winnings that come from the women in the Troy family as well. Cecilia Ryan, sixteen years old and already five-foot-eleven inches tall.
“Don’t worry, dad. I’ve been talking to Aunt Lindz about this since junior high.”
Dan nods. “I know that, too. You two aren’t very subtle.”
The younger Ryan smiles.
“I’ve been told this -- recently.”
“It’s a family trait.”
This time she looks up with a full smile.
“That’s what I told mom when she pointed it out.”
Dan Ryan chuckles, turning to walk away from the window.
“Smart woman, your mother.”
Cecilia stays at the window, nodding and muttering under her breath.
“Yes she is.”
A few days later in the hotel restaurant, Dan Ryan has set up camp in a corner booth away from the main seating area.
He’s on his second drink already when the “Queen of the Ring” Lindsay Troy walks up and takes a seat.
A Queen is never late, Daniel Ryan. She always arrives exactly when she intends to.
Don’t try to cheer me up with paraphrased Tolkien. It won’t work.
LINDSAY TROY: (shrugging)
It was worth a shot. That nerd crap usually does the trick.
You know, it would’ve been much more pleasant if it was you on the other side of the ring from me this weekend instead of Captain Coleco. I haven’t heard this many video game metaphors since DEFIANCE booked us in a booth next to those professional gamers at Comic-Con.
You sure about that? Because I can call Tyler and see if he’d give Link a run for his money…
One glare from Dan puts that idea to bed. Not that she was even serious about it to begin with. Lindsay chuckles and picks up the drink menu.
Maybe the banter would’ve been much more pleasant but that might’ve been about the only thing pleasant about it.
DAN RYAN: (dismissively)
I don’t care about all that. I’m just tired of having to listen to a grown man talk about power ups and secret levels for the last two weeks. He swears he’s not twelve years old, and he would be rather tall for his age if he was, but he only weighs about a buck seventy-five, so it’s not impossible.
LINDSAY TROY: (pointedly)
Well, maybe you don’t care about all that, but I do.
DAN RYAN: (groaning)
I told you I’d work it out with Tyler and I will. It’s not as simple as going out to a ball game and hugging it out over a beer. It’s a little more complicated than that. There’s stupid male ego shit involved. You know better than most how that works. It’s like that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, if I don’t hold the counter-weight just right, a big boulder will come down from the ceiling and crush us all.
Troy rolls her eyes.
You’re right. You’ve been around Zach Van Owen way too long. You’re starting to talk like him.
DAN RYAN: (disgusted)
And you know that’s not what I’m referring to. Look. (She puts the menu down.) After all the shit that happened two years back in DEFIANCE, I absolutely did not come back to fight you. Here or anywhere else. I’d just as soon go back to Tampa and live my life than risk imploding this family again over this business.
It got intense over there, and that’s my fault. I’m the one who took it there. I won’t blame anyone else. But that place was a different environment to this. There was always some sort of power play going on -- always something triggering my instinct to just destroy everything in my path. It’s my weakness, you know -- of course you know -- but that’s why this has been so good, so much more like the beginning when we could do our work and be professional wrestlers again without having to worry about the fate of others being affected by my every decision. I get what you’re saying -- but it won’t happen again. I’d rather go home, too -- and I will if I have to.
I know it won’t, because I know what it did to Cecilia. And I know what it did to Ami and Kaz. Our kids felt the aftershocks, Dan. I can’t have it happen again.
DAN RYAN: (not selling the statement at all)
I can’t believe that kid’s name is Kaz. And spelling Ami’s name with an “i”. Is she dotting it with a tiny heart yet?
LINDSAY TROY: (shaking her head in MOM disapproval)
She’s nineteen, Dan.
I know that.
Troy rises from her seat.
Oh come on. Don’t worry so much. Everything’s gonna be fine, alright? Let’s leave the past where it belongs. Things are good and I plan to keep it that way. You should be happy. You have a very eager niece who can’t wait to get started learning everything her auntie Lindz knows about the wrestling business.
Where do you think I’m off to? I gave your child some homework when we were traveling to Little Rock and I need to see how she did with it.
With a smirk and a wave, she heads out of the restaurant and back toward the elevators.
Two hours before Golden Intentions and the CWF World Champion Dan Ryan is off in a quiet corner of the building, away from the loud crowds of people backstage. There are tons of visitors in tow tonight, people coming for a chance to win a shot at the title.
Ryan cares for none of this.
Instead, a chance to close his eyes and focus. One last word before showtime.
The camera rolls, and the first thing we see is Dan Ryan’s arm retreating from hitting the record button. Then he cocks his head to one side and looks directly into the camera.
Here we are. Here I am and here you are. I’m the CWF World Champion, everywhere I go demanding respect and raising the stature of this championship, making everyone stand up and take notice of CWF again.
And there you are, speaking in video game metaphors like a mental patient, again, as always.
I watch and I listen. For some reason, there are people in this world who think highly of you. There are people in this world who think it’s amusing that you talking in video game terms in broken English -- despite being a native English speaker -- that even though half of your comments barely make sense and are an assault on the language, you somehow deserve time to hold a microphone in your hand and talk.
If I were in charge, you’d have a manager by your side saying pretty much everything for you on account of your being a moron. But I’m not in charge, so there we are.
Sometimes I wonder why I still do this. I wonder why after twenty years of the fight, of the wars, of the blood baths, of main events all around the world, would I subject myself to a mental patient who talks like a garden variety Comic-Con patron.
This week, I started my only surviving child down the path of this business. Despite my best efforts, it seems it’s in her blood. I’d have preferred a safer vocation for her, but we don’t choose our dreams, do we?
I watched her early training sessions this week. I watched the drive and the passion come pouring out of her with each mistake, with each new learning moment. I watched her learn quickly, much more quickly than I did, and I was both frightened and proud. Frightened because I know what this business does to us. It tears us apart from the inside. It forces us to make decisions that will impact more than just our careers inside the ring. Proud because she’s already picking this up. Proud because she apparently took the best of what I had to teach her and hasn’t let the bad get deep inside of her. Or maybe it has and I just haven’t seen that yet, right?
Through all of it though, I remembered why I still do this. I remember that in everything I do, it still remains that I have an unquenchable need and desire to be the best in this business. One day I’ll lose a step, but not yet. I have to be the best, and so I am.
You talk about power ups and cheat codes, Zach.
Okay, I’ll play along.
I’ve never needed power ups or cheat codes.
I’ve always had a relentless drive to be the best. I never needed shortcuts. I have to hear that bullshit, from you and other idiots who have never been in my shoes and never could. Even a man like Duce Jones, who stood in the spotlight for five seconds, could never know. People like you and he think because you stand on the mountain for a flash in time that you have any clue what it’s like to be me.
I’ve been on top of this business for two decades.
You didn’t know?
That’s because you didn’t matter.
But where I go, I make everything matter. So for about fifteen minutes at Golden Intention, you’ll matter because you’ll be in the main event with me. I’m making you great for a brief moment in time, because where I go, I make everything great.
For the first time in years, the CWF Championship matters because it’s around my waist, and my reputation holds weight. It wasn’t a reputation born in a boardroom on a whiteboard by suits. It was a reputation earned with blood and sweat, with guts and balls. It was earned with repeated dives into the breach, into the thick of the fight where men find what they’re made of. I’m a survivor of countless wars, a blade sharpened on the stone of the very highest peaks of this business.
This will be another peak -- not because of what you bring, but because of what I’ll bring out of you. I’m making you a star tonight, Zach. This will be your highlight. And because of what I’m making of you at Golden Intentions, my victory over you will matter -- because I’ll MAKE it matter.
Ryan holds the belt up, making sure the camera gets all of it.
This is the CWF World Championship. I spilled blood for it and I’ll be damned if it goes to the likes of you. I’ve worked hard to make this championship matter, and you will not be taking it from me tonight.
I’ll play your little game, and you’ll have your fun. But after tonight, no more. Put in your quarters, play your little levels, but when all is said and done…. Zach?
I’m pulling the plug.
Ryan glares straight into the camera as we….