It’s 2AM at a jazz joint somewhere on Bourbon Street, and business has all but slowed to a crawl. Behind the bar stands a bartender lazily wiping out a glass, his attention focused entirely on the four-piece outfit playing on a small stage in the corner. A few patrons are scattered around the room, but our attention is on one person in particular; Nathan Paradine, sitting at a table in the middle of the room, his feet up on the opposite chair and the top few buttons on his shirt undone from the heat. On the table next to him is a glass with a finger or two of liquor and he swirls it around absent-mindedly as he watches the band.
Nathan Paradine: “Goddamn Xander Daniels.”
He places the glass onto the table with a small thump and leans backwards, his arms hanging lax at his sides.
Nathan Paradine: “I’ve been wrestling for a long time. When I was twenty, I packed up my bags and left Australian for Japan. It was… difficult for a gaijin to break into wrestling at the time, and to be honest I probably spent more time sweeping floor and playing errand boy than I did wrestling for the first few years. But eventually I broke into the business, and I did alright. I called myself the Nomad, because I was the only one there with a shred of English. At least initially, a few Americans popped up eventually. All of a sudden I was yesterday’s news and it stung a little bit. Not to matter though, by that stage I’d been going back and forth between Australia and Japan for ten years and I was about ready for a break. I’d saved up my money, and I was going to do one last tour to cap it all off. I was scheduled to work with a guy named Cody Williams… he was an inexperienced little bastard. But with me leaving, he was set to be the next big thing in the promotion we wrestled for. God, it’s funny looking back. It seemed like such a big deal at the time, but I can’t even remember the name of the place now.”
Paradine peers into his glass, and it’s pretty clear from his somewhat slurred rambling that he might be a little bit drunk. He runs his tongue along his teeth and thinks better of another sip.
Nathan Paradine: “Cody was an arrogant little shit, and he pissed me off. He expected me to take a dive on the last big show, to set him up as the new star gaijin. I pretended to go along with it, but it was the last straw after a tour that had seen me disrespected again and again. When we got out there into the ring, I dropped Cody on his neck and bam. They said he’d never walk again. Well that wasn’t entirely accurate, but… I can be a real nasty piece of work, sometimes. I did that to Cody and I felt no remorse. I took my money and went into semi-retirement. This must have been around… 2004, I guess? I went back to Melbourne and got married. Didn’t work out, of course. Turns out I’m pretty unbearable when I have nothing to do, so after the divorce I got back into wrestling.”
There’s a pause, and this time Paradine takes the smallest of sips. He waits a moment, tasting the alcohol on his tongue before swallowing.
Nathan Paradine: “It was a place based out of Las Vegas, the Sanctioned Violence Organization. I went okay, I guess. A few years of ring rust did me no favors, this would have been around 2008? But Cody Williams was there, and he was bloody walking again. He didn’t recognise me, but I knew him straight away. It made my blood boil that he had turned something I had done to him into a gimmick. The incredible recovery of Cody Williams, Second to None! So I challenged him to a match, and I tried to break his neck again. A bit more thoroughly this time, but it didn’t work out as I’d hoped. The sVo went under soon after, and I made my way to Hostility.”
Another pause, another sip of liquor, another moment as he savors the taste as much as the memories he is explaining.
Nathan Paradine: “You know how Hostility went already. When I was there, I struck up a partnership of sorts with Xander Daniels. I felt hard done by of sorts, and I wanted to make Hostility burn. He was a rookie, but he had the fire to accomplish what I needed him to do. We ran roughshod through Hostility as Violence: Evolved, and when everything was said and done… I discarded him. He didn’t take that so well, funnily enough. He tried to put a notch in his belt by taking me out.”
Paradine takes a deep breath, staring directly into his glass as he speaks.
Nathan Paradine: “Remember the ex-wife? Well, she was working for me. She was a lawyer, y’see. Things were kinda getting good between us again, like maybe we could have had a second go at things. Xander… well, he’s a man who can appreciate irony I guess. He kidnapped her, and did the same thing to her I’d tried to do to Cody Williams twice. He broke her neck in front of me in what was covered up as an ‘accident’. Hostility shut down before I could get my hands on him, and he disappeared.”
Paradine places the glass down on the table and folds his arms over his chest, rocking slowly back and forth as he relives this painful period of his life.
Nathan Paradine: “Emily- the ex-wife, that is- she survived, and she can walk again now. She doesn’t want anything to do with me though, pretty sure she remarried some bloke out on the west coast. I didn’t stop wrestling, because what the hell else was I going to do? The sVo opened back up and I competed for them, but I was a mess. I was drinking and getting involved with people who I would have been better off to avoid. Cody Williams appeared and we actually teamed up for a while, before he turned on me… guess I kinda deserved it from him though. The sVo shut down again for good after a few years, and I got even worse. I tried to kill myself, and the goddamn cord I used snapped. I thought I had a second lease on life, and resolved to do better this time around.”
Paradine laughs bitterly to himself.
Nathan Paradine: “What the hell have I done? I haven’t tried to be a better person; I’m the same old angry bastard I’ve always been. I have nothing! Parents, dead. Sister, dead. Every time I try to do something consistently, I find a way to fuck it up or have it taken away from me, everything but professional wrestling. It’s all I have, the woman I love who refuses to love me back. To get my hands on Xander Daniels I risk giving all that up, and losing the last goddamn thing that keeps me going.”
Paradine’s hands curl into fists and he looks at them intently.
Nathan Paradine: “I’m a bad person. I don’t deny that. I’ve done terrible things to get what I wanted, and I’ve done terrible things on behalf of other people. This thing with Xander… it is an ugly, horrible thing that needs to be dealt with. I’m not going to pretend it’s going to change me, or turn me into someone I’m not, you have to be realistic about these sort of things. I’m doing this because I want to make that son of a bitch hurt. I want to look into his face as he begs me to put him out of his misery. I want to feel his life ebb and flow away in my hands. There’s not beating around the bush. If I can’t beat this man, then everything he has said will be proven correct. This isn’t a wrestling match for me; this is life and death. I don’t care about the Golden Intentions match, all I care about is that one man who will be standing across the ring from me at showtime. I am going to win this match, or I am going to fucking die trying.”
With a toast towards the band on the stage, Paradine tosses back the remaining liquor in his glass and lets out a satisfied sigh, leaning back with his head cupped in his hands as the scene comes to an end. Golden Intentions will be make or break time for the Australian Submission Machine, but does he have what it takes to stop “The Phoenix” Xander Daniels?