The Canadian and Japanese duo had opted to leave Jamaica back for Canada. As much as the two would like to stay in Central America, after the go-home Evolution show the two agreed that the sweltering weather was too exhausting for them. There was a brief incident in which Silas felt slightly dizzy after his match against Tom Marrow, not because of the competition but because of the humid temperature bearing down on them.
Unfortunately, Toronto wasn’t doing much better. While the temperature was certainly cooler than Kingston, it was unusually humid. Mid twenty degree weather and no air conditioning made the day to day life a combination of opening and closing windows, consuming their total bodyweight in water, and hours upon hours of trying to get some sleep.
On a warmer than usual Friday night, the two of them simply relaxed with four fans blasting air in their faces in vain attempts to get cool, all the while the latest Evolution replayed on the television.
Specifically, the promo Kyuseishu delivered after Silas issued his challenge. He was surprised that the returning expat responded so quickly to his request for a match, that he couldn’t help but admire the energy they displayed, even if it was just diatribe. He was particularly entertained by the comments regarding cultural appropriation while coming across as hypocritical, and certainly wasn’t a fan of the vulgar language and euphemisms used.
The cat looked cute, though.
SILAS ARTORIA: A “strong style” match, eh?
This was in relation to the specific challenge Kyuseishu presented to Silas. Not a normal match, a strong style match, meaning…. what exactly?
Regardless, the comment elicited a chuckle for Hidetaka Ito, whom Silas immediately turned to with light confusion.
SILAS ARTORIA: You find him amusing?
HIDETAKA ITO: There’s no such thing as a “strong style” match…
Ito-san turned to Silas, with the giggling stopped but the smile remaining.
HIDETAKA ITO: ...stipulation wise at least.
This didn’t help the confusion, as seen by the response Silas gave in terms of expression. The emotion he elicited before was the same, but far less subtle.
SILAS ARTORIA: So, theoretically I can just do my regular routine and no one would bat an eye?
HIDETAKA ITO: Well...I don’t think Mr Kyuseishu would be pleased, but true.
Ito returned his attention to the television, and by extension Kyuseishu, whilst Silas kept his confused gaze upon the aging Japanese legend.
HIDETAKA ITO: But where’s the fun in that?
Silas simply twitched at the question.
SILAS ARTORIA: Ito-san?
HIDETAKA ITO: Silas, what do you think of when you hear the words “strong style”?
It was difficult to come up with an answer. On one hand, he was part of the Crescendo tournament which featured athletes that call themselves strong style specialists. He faced a few of them and lost to every single one of them, so he can comfortably get a grasp on describing the style.
On the other hand, Ito’s questions never opened themselves to simple answers.
SILAS ARTORIA: Wrestling that really hurts?
HIDETAKA ITO: That’s the surface level, [[but how do you deliver strong style]]? By hitting your opponent really hard until they go down? By adding more power to your current moveset?
SILAS ARTORIA: No.
HIDETAKA ITO: Of course not. You’d wear yourself out too quickly and the few milliseconds extra time needed to deliver, say, a hardened version of your Knockout kick, is the difference between victory and complete defeat.
Kyuseishu’s promo finally came to an end, with the expat declaring that Silas vocabulary and delivery was offensive, and implied that Ito was a mare trophy that was carried around. Interesting, in a way, considering that Ito within his retirement years could likely skin anyone alive within a simple clothesline, something Silas was all too aware of. He’s still not sure if all his teeth are back in his head after his final match with Ito.
Without warning, Ito drank the last of his water, and stood up to tower over Silas.
HIDETAKA ITO: Strike me!
Understandably, Silas’ eyes widened with shock.
SILAS ARTORIA: What!?
HIDETAKA ITO: Strike me with a knife chop!
Silas froze momentarily in his seat, unsure what to think of the request, but eventually started to obey his mentor’s command. He placed his orange juice on a nearby glass-topped coffee table, and stood up to face Ito. The aged Japanese man simply looked at the slightly shorter man, reiterating his request without saying a word.
Silas looked at his hand, and took a light breath.
He struck Ito with the requested move, forcing Ito to reply with a light sharpness in his breath. They bit the side of their face as they delved into thought, almost like he’s examining the pain he was just given.
Silas didn’t know what to think. He just struck Ito!
HIDETAKA ITO: Light sting, good for a normal match.
Immediately, Silas is topped to the hard floor, with the knife chop from Ito connecting with such force that even preparedness may not have prevented the outcome. The pain stung like he was just shot, with his breathing becoming far more horsed and sounding like a chain smoker. The Canadian couldn’t help but scream in absolute agony, as he clutched the impact area like it would help him.
SILAS ARTORIA: ARGH! JESUS CHRIST ITO!
HIDETAKA ITO: How does it feel?
Silas shot a wide eyed look at Ito, trying desperately to hide the pain within as it refused to subside.
SILAS ARTORIA: WHAT!?
HIDETAKA ITO: You’ll be fine. How does it feel?
The pain wasn’t subsiding in any form, and Silas clenched his fists in pain. He finally got the message that pressing against the impact area wasn’t going to help, and instead banged his palms against the wooden floorboards. He grunted repeatedly, to the point that he didn’t expel any words in what felt like several minutes.
He grabbed the orange juice and consumed what remained of the glass. He swallows, and sharply exhales. Didn't help.
SILAS ARTORIA: Feels like my lung collapsed!
HIDETAKA ITO: Good.
Silas couldn’t comprehend Ito’s words, and instead returned to a shocked look, not sure what to take of his answer and action.
HIDETAKA ITO: Strong style is a combination of two things: delivering power in the simplest of moves, and conditioning your body to withstand unbearable punishment.
The pain finally started to subside, and Silas began to relax in what felt like years, to the point that his face was slightly creased from the prolonged time his expression was held for.
Ito didn’t change, still relaxed and calm throughout.
HIDETAKA ITO: Strong style is being the unmoving lone warrior under the archway, standing against an army of unrelenting soldiers. The simplicity of the moves, combined with their elevated power, allows them to not only withstand the assault, but remain standing.
HIDETAKA ITO: You’re a great athlete, Silas. The fact that you won and held onto a coveted championship demonstrates that, but your style of attack in comparison to strong style is easy to counter.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’m going to change my entire moveset?
HIDETAKA ITO: Not quite.
Ito stepped forward, completely dwarfing Silas in both presence and height. And yet, there was a strange sense of comfort.
HIDETAKA ITO: You’re going to limit your moveset next week…
Ito held out his hand to the downed Silas, but Silas didn’t move. He finally had some silence and so moments to think on Ito’s words, their context, their purpose. Everything Ito does, say, and imply always has a purpose. It was a puzzle to unravel for those unfamiliar with his vocabulary, but the last few months with Ito made deciphering the meaning slightly easier by sheer familiarity.
He grabbed hold of Ito, and his mentor pulled him to his feet.
HIDETAKA ITO: ...but you’re going to withstand much more.
Silas finally smiled. The pain is gone.
HIDETAKA ITO: Strike me!
The compound’s main hall, complete with the wrestling ring and the numerous tools used in the day-to-day training routines an athlete subjects themselves to. In the middle of the floor, not too far from the ring, is Silas himself, cross legged. His eyes are closed, and his breathing is controlled.
Calm, and collected.
He slowly opens his eyes, and smiles to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: Good evening.
He shuffles from side to side, getting comfortable in the process.
SILAS ARTORIA: I do apologise to the CWF for mine and Ito’s sudden departure from Ito. The countries are beautiful but the blistering weather was becoming a grave concern that we had to fly to familiar territory.
He chuckles to himself.
SILAS ARTORIA: Not that it made much difference, as it turned out.
SILAS ARTORIA: But we’re not here for me to ponder about the temperature or complain how the climate is something my body is unfamiliar with. We’re here to talk about my match with Kyuseishu, starting off with the underlying question of “What is a strong style match?”
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, a strong style match is a regular pinfall match, and the strong style aspect is purely on the competitors. In short, I could do my usual style of wrestling and I wouldn’t be scolded for it.
Light chuckle and smirk.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I’m not one to backstab or betray a pledge, so I am more than happy to say that come Paradise, so long as my challenger sticks to his word, that what you’ll get is pure, unadulterated strong style. You’re going to see some new things from me, some adjustments to my moves, and some of you are going to wince at some of the things Kyuseishu and I are going to throw at each other.
He twists his neck, relieving it of it aches.
SILAS ARTORIA: The things he and I are going to deliver are really, really, really stiff, to the point that I’ve arranged ice packs to be delivered upon the match’s conclusion.
SILAS ARTORIA: But why would I divert from my moveset for something that seemingly looks so...basic?
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, it’s to do with familiarity and conditioning. Those who specialise in strong style are trained to take on much more punishment than even the current champions in the CWF. What are considered to be devastating finishers to some, myself included, can be brushed aside like dandruff for those who undergo the demanding training.
He leans forward.
SILAS ARTORIA: So then I thought, “I’ve been here for a while, and most of the people are familiar with my style and moves to the point that I could be easily countered.”
He leans back.
SILAS ARTORIA: I need to switch up my style, to keep my opponents on edge, otherwise I won’t return to the upper echelons of the card. Kyuiseishu essentially opened the door for change, so I consider this to be a transition match, from the familiar Silas, to something a little more...devastating.
SILAS ARTORIA: Let’s say more teeth are going to fly.
SILAS ARTORIA: Which brings me to Kyuseishu himself, or Hoyt Williams, or whatever he wants to be called. I called him out because I thought he would be an interesting opponent. New to the CWF, interesting behaviour, and a similar background to myself. Sounds like a neat matchup, right?
His smile starts to fade as the jovial tone of his presentation descends into a more serious, to-the-point tone.
SILAS ARTORIA: Boy, I certainly opened up pandora’s box, didn’t I?
He clears his throat.
SILAS ARTORIA: I normally aim to be as...kind as possible to the CWF roster whom take shots at myself, either randomly or as part of an address for an upcoming match. My reasoning is that if I call someone a loser and I win, I gain nothing. If I call someone a loser and they win, I lost to a loser!
SILAS ARTORIA: But Kyuseishu’s understanding of my background is...underdeveloped, to say the least.
He winced in pain and seethes quickly through his teeth, but quickly rebounds to return to the posture he was at before.
SILAS ARTORIA: So let’s point out some points in his address, both on and off television.
SILAS ARTORIA: First, let’s start off by mentioning that, unlike you Kyuseishu, I didn’t travel to Japan. I was invited for a limited time for a specific tournament that I took advantage of. The reason why I call it a second home is because I learned a swath of lessons from my very few months there.
SILAS ARTORIA: But look at you! You spout out that you are an enemy of cultural appropriation, yet you adopt a japanese name as your own. Isn’t that a little...hypocritical of you? You say that I bastardize Japanese wrestling tradition, and yet you take it several steps further!
He winces a little again, not as much as last time.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re understanding of the topic is...maladjusted, to put it very politely.
SILAS ARTORIA: You say that I am a japanese fetishist with the way I complete, but I never sought out these elements, they came to me. You demand exotic elements in your performance, from your name to those two tigers I heard you tried to acquire through less-than-legal means, and demand that I pay to make the problem go away!?
A giggle emanated from Silas’ mouth, almost slipping into a cackling texture repeatedly, before he suddenly stops dead.
SILAS ARTORIA: Darling, you called me old. I’m younger than you!
Beat, he starts to undo his shirt.
SILAS ARTORIA: All I wanted was a simple match to bring me back into the fold, and you had to run your mouth with multiple different avenues, both in and out of the law. You just had to escalate it beyond your control, maybe because this is the biggest match of your career and you wanted to blow all your ideas out in a short span of time. Have you ever heard of patience?
All buttons undone.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’ve made this bed, and I will ensure you lay in it.
He grabs his shirt.
SILAS ARTORIA: Rejoyce, for you finally have a match with a credible opponent whom is willing to meet you at your level.
SILAS ARTORIA: You call yourself the king of puroresu? Sweetheart...
He reveals his upper body for all to see.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...I was trained by the emperor, of puroresu.
Bruises, bandages, some cuts and dried blood, covering the majority of the upper torso.
SILAS ARTORIA: Sweet dreams.
The feed cuts out.