“So, history would dictate that this is the point I come onto camera, spend half an hour making sure that each of you know that I am rich as balls, before I pratte on about my previous achievements in this industry and use all that for a basis that would result in the conclusion that I am better than all of you.
Well, let’s get this out of the way now, avoid all of that useless shit and hit the fucking nail on the head right out of the gate. I am better than all of you, especially two-time champion Duce Fucking Jones. Duce my deluded little fool, you are about to be introDuced to someone else who is not only a two time champion, but unlike your pathetic ass, someone who has never lost the title.
Now, with that out of the way, shall we get on with the show?”
With that, Danny winks at the camera, his long blonde hair partially obscuring his face. He stands from the single spindly chair he was sitting in to deliver his brief soliloquy and walks towards the door to the room, pushing it wide open and flooding the small darkened room with brilliant sunlight. He steps out into it, leaving the cameraman to follow behind in his wake.
As we step into the sun drenched narrow streets, the camera pans around to take a look at the surroundings. Cobbled roads, tall buildings, bars and shops littered liberally around the street.
“For those of you uninitiated, welcome to Italy. Vico Equense to be exact. Nice little holiday spot. Away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan life, away from the expensive restaurants and clubs. See, I realise that over the last couple of years, I have rested on my laurels, using my fancy New York City Apartment, my jet and my offices to set my scenes. So fucking unimaginitive. What did that get me eh? A promise that I would win the rumble only to be nothing more than a drop in the ocean, a guarantee that I would finally put Harley Hodge away in the retirement home that was calling out for him, only to be sent packing with my tail between my legs.
I figured it was time to return to my roots a little. Yeah, OK, so I am not having to travel to each city by beat up car, staying in the cheapest hotel rooms, and I am certainly not having to consider doing all that while having to take my seven foot, three hundred pound companion. No, these days, I live a little better, sleep a little better, and travel with intent, not necessity. There’s one thing I really do want to return to though, something I left behind a long time ago. I want to return to the days when I was hungry to be the best, rather than just knowing that I was.
Yeah, I said was. I was once upon a time, but what the fuck does that mean when in this industry you are only as good as your last outing? So, like I said return to my roots, but use everything I have learned along the way. Combine the most dangerous parts of the old me, with the intelligence and experience of the new me.
In simple terms, because most of you out there will certainly need it. Beat the ever shitting shit out of you, but without losing my cool and coming up short because my blinded rage stops me from seeing something coming. Back then, I had something to prove to the audience, to the Master. Now, the only person I give a shit about impressing is me.”
He walked as he talked, and now, after rounding a corner, the high buildings vanished, giving way, on his right hand side at least, to an expansive ocean view, a hundred feet below him down the cliffside. In the distance, mount Vesuvius looms in the bright blue sky in the distance.
“So, you might be wondering why I have dragged myself all the way out here, to this land of good food and beautiful scenery instead of wasting away time in North Cackalacky before the show. Well, the answer for this is two fold.
Number one. If given a choice, who out there would actually want to spend time in that cesspit instead of one of the greatest countries in the world? Number two. Let’s be honest, the setting doesn’t fucking matter does it? I mean, when we watch the promos that our peers put out, who actually gives a shit if they are sat in a hotel room or sat on the fucking moon?
No one. The promoters might like a good story, but we, we just go and see what these clowns have said about us right? So, I’m here in the sun, enjoying a nice walk along the road, the sea glistening in the sun, and not a fucker around me can understand a word I am saying and it makes no fucking odds, because those of you that don’t think you’re above me just wanna know what I have to say about Duce and the tournament as a whole right?”
With a smirk he stops speaking, continuing to walk along his path, the open gap overlooking the ocean was now gone, replaced by a row of cliffside houses that must have incredible views from their balconies. Next to this row of houses is a much larger and wider building, which, when Danny stops walking as we reach the door, is a hotel. The Santa Maria to be exact.
“This was where I stayed the first time I ever came here you know. Up there on the third floor, overlooking the ocean. Whole group of us on a combination study tour slash booze cruise. I made my professional debut in CWF just over three years later.
What’s this got to do with anything I hear you ask, and it’s a fair question, and the answer is simple. Fond memories. Memories of drinking bars dry, getting heat stroke visiting Pompeii, climbing the fuck outta that volcano you can see over there. We all look back to better times don’t we? Part of human nature. It’s why I think I have been so stuck in my past for such a long time. Yes, the clever amongst you would have noticed that, well done. There is a juxtaposition to what I am saying here. Aren’t I supposed to moving forward but right now I am banging on about memories?
I’ll give the slower among you a chance to catch up… got it? Good. The fact is, memories, experience, they define us, make us the people we are today. The fact is, for most of you out there, you have not lasted as long as I have. The Ripper debuted in CWF 10 years ago, nearly to the day. On that night, I attacked then Paramount Champion Franklin Frederickson, and essentially declared myself the most dangerous motherfucker in all of CWF.
The reality of that, of course, was that I was just a young twat with an overinflated ego who thought that because I had a cool character I was the absolute shit. What’s the difference now then? Well, my ego is no longer overinflated. Also, no characters. What you see with me now, is what you get. I don’t need to tell my story, when the scars that riddle my skin do that for me. I don’t need to boast about what I have won and where, when I can counter every damn thing you have for me. Been there, done that, begrudgingly wore the T-shirt.”
He opened his mouth to continue, but seemed to decide against it. Instead he turned away from the camera pointed at his face and simply continued along the path, which was now curving back away from the ocean and heading back inland. He didn’t say another word for five full minutes as he continued along his path. In fact, the only action he made other than simply walking along was to remove his aviators from the neck of his shirt, and placing them on his face. Eventually, he reached a small train station, and stopped.
“You know I was just thinking how many crutches I used for so long in these things. How often I would break it up by getting or sipping on a drink, or by lighting up a smoke. I don’t often pay attention to you all, because quite frankly the majority of you bore the shit out of me, but I wonder who else does that? When you have no new fresh ideas, you just go back to what you know, what makes sense for your character. I have been guilty, I am sure we all have. Even the most creative of us have off days right? Well, when you have used something before, and you keep going back to it, it’s because it’s what you know right? Like this place, I have been here before, cut a promo on someone from down on that beach before. But today, I feel like changing the scenery.”
He turns away from the camera once again, turning his attention to a middle-aged Italian man sat in a both.
“Uno a Sorrento per favore.”
And with the exchange of cash, and a short wait on the platform, Danny boarded the train to Sorrento. What he didn’t do, however, was purchase a ticket for the poor sap following him around in this heat with a camera on his shoulder, filming this existential self-reflection...
As the shot reopens, it shows the hustle and bustle of a busy airport, people milling about looking at trinkets, others rushing around trying to make it to their gate on time. Some were just lazing around, reading books, browsing their phones, not really in any rush to get anywhere. Danny B was one of those people, as right now, he was simply looking out of the giant windows, watching the planes coming and going. A hubbub of sound was in the background, all different languages being spoken, suitcases and trolleys being pulled around, and tannoy announcements that no fucker could understand filling the air above.
“This is something I really didn’t think I would ever miss you know. Commercial airports. They are amazing though aren’t they? The energy in places like this is incredible. Especially here in England. A mix of excitement, boredom, frustration and drunkenness. For some people, it’s all of the above. It’s a phenomenal place. Here I am though, flying with the masses, waiting for my connector to Douglas International, then it’s a short drive to Charleston, and on to the main event, where I belong.
Guess it’s about time I addressed the issue, and by the issue, I mean Jones. After all, once I am on that plane, I don’t wanna have to be thinking about his ass again, so we might as well get this over with.”
Danny turns his back on the window, and leans against the handrail bar running the length of the glass. He sighs deeply, readying himself for the words about to spill from him.
“I have to be honest with you before I start, my first hand experience with Duce is limited, so some of what I will be basing this on is second hand knowledge and inferences. Also, I shall desperately try and avoid basing insults on his speech patterns and intelligence. Obviously they are easy targets and not something I wish to stoop myself to. Although, as mentioned, most people only come for these bits, and I imagine Duce will be doing the same thing I imagine, so I shall try and speak clearly, because I do not want him to miss a damn thing.
Where to start then? Well, the easy target is obviously the fact that he is the only other CWF champion in this tournament. Which you know, goes to show what happens when champions win the big one. Fair play to him the guy, he not only stuck around after winning once, but he went on to win it again. There aren’t too many guys in the company's history to have won it twice. You know what is even rarer though, someone who has won it twice and never lost it. That’s me Ducey baby. That was then though right, what have I done lately to even show a level of confidence against a fighter of your calibre? Fuck all right?
Well, good. You’re up to speed. The answer to the question is that you are asking the wrong question. It’s not what I have done, it’s what I am going to do.
You know, I am glad that Rish hasn’t eased me in here. I am glad that I get to stand toe to toe with one of the best that this company has to offer. This is statement time for me, and believe me boy, whooping your ass around that ring for twenty minutes and leaving you in a heaping mess of blood and piss when I am done is exactly what I need to get my mojo back. This really isn’t personal. I don’t know you, I don’t give a shit about you, which I realise places me in the same club as the CWF fans and your own fucking mother, so the idea of going into that ring, and ensuring that you cannot compete in remainder of the tournament is one that appeals to me.
See, that’s my aim here, is to walk into that main event and remind everyone that no matter whether I am the old me, the new me, or the fucking distorted me. I am still me. And what I am, is the motherfucking Ripper. Not a nickname I take likely boy. You’re gonna be IntroDuced to the toughest challenge you have ever felt between those ropes. I plan on bringing the best I have, and kid, if you don’t double your efforts, you gonna find yourself stuck without a plan, without a hope in hell, and without your pride.
Don’t get me wrong kid, I am not underestimating you in any way. I realise that to make it to the top of this company takes grit, determination, a willingness to do whatever needs to be done. You’ve done it, and you have done it more than once, and we can argue until the cows come home about how tough the competition level was. You weren’t there for my era, and I haven’t been here for yours. This battle right here, this is the clash of the generations people are looking for. Trust me on that. When I stood toe to toe with Alex Cain, with Harley Hodge, those were the battles people were looking for. We have one of them on our hands right now. A bonafide hall of famer versus a shoe in future one. Question is, can the old man with more scars on his body due to his wars than you have had hot dinners beat the young and future legend with everything to prove in this match?
Well, yeah. Fucking obviously I can.
I know you are looking to bounce back. The loss at Paradise must be stinging, and what better way to get back into the hearts and minds of the fans than by taking down someone who lets face it, has a habit of rubbing people the wrong way? I get that, I walk in and even though I am being booed out of the building, we all know from that moment I walk through the curtain the event raises a level, the expectations become higher, the atmosphere outright changes. It’s a big fight feel whenever the Brighton Beast walks down that ramp.
Honestly though, and this is from one legend to another, this match is a show stealer in the making. Match of the tournament is written all over this. After all, our styles will mesh well, both proficient strikers, bot with Japanese influence, and I am sure your training will prepare you for my high flying capabilities. You have all the tools kid, and against anyone else, this would be your match to lose. But you aren’t against anyone else, you are against me.
You remind me of me you know, young, hotheaded and with all the potential in the world. That was me. That’s where you are now. But I have gone beyond that. I am no longer young, I no longer lose my shit when things aren’t going my way, and I no longer have unrealised potential. You got something. After all, I wouldn’t be the first HOF’er you have faced in your time here, and I probably won’t be the last, but Jarvis King may have once been special, but like so many others, he’s a shell of his former self. Yeah, you got him a couple of weeks ago, and for all I know, there’s more on that list, forgive me if the idea of trawling through your match history seems as about as inviting as being Ataxia’s psychotherapist, but whatever has come before will not prepare you for what is coming next.
I know you have sights on winning this whole thing, and unlike most of the delusional fuckers filling the ranks who are thinking the same thing, you actually do stand a chance, at least you would, if you hadn’t have been placed in the same block as me. No doubt you will have a hell of a showing, but second place is a tough pill to swallow, which is why I am going to make it easier on you this coming week by ensuring you remember what second feels like. I know you have had recent experience, with Dan Ryan making you his bitch, and honestly, if you couldn’t keep up with that wannabe, I don’t know what chance you think you have here, but I digress.
You sir, to many are the epitome of what is on offer in this tournament. The shining light in a sea of uncertainty. You are what the masses look upon for hope and guidance, you’re their fucking hero Ducey baby. But trust me when I say, to me, you are nothing more than a high-level warm up, a stretch so that the real star can shine once again. You are the first step in me systematically tearing down CWF from the inside, and not for the first time, reshaping the whole damn show in my image. Some may call it a delusion of grandeur, and I call those people week, feeble minded, and probably American. It wouldn’t be the first time I have done it.
I hope you are feeling good about yourself, I hope you walk into the tournament with your head held high. I want the best version of you, I know deep down under that crowd pleasing patter and that can do attitude, you are nothing more than a street rat, ready to pounce on the smallest scraps to survive. You built that attitude into something big, something respectable. Good for you. But this week, I shall rip and tear at every one of those external layers, every morsel of protection you have surrounded yourself in, and I will let you know what you knew oh so many years ago. That your elders are, and will always be better than you. You could never live up to your father, and now you will not be able to step up to me.
Have at you kid.”
His eyes still alight with malice, the Ripper finally stops talking, having gathered a fair amount of attention in the form of some onlookers happy to keep their distance from him. His eyes, piercing as ever, filled with the same cold emerald as always, bore through the lens of the camera, no soul, no twinkle visible within. And then, as if the previous ten minutes had not happened at all, he dropped his gaze towards the watch on his wrist, the Rolex logo proof that he hadn’t quite left all of his wealth behind, and simply strutted off, wheeling his suitcase behind him. No care in the world about the upcoming match, just really wanting to ensure that he was one of the first in line. He had booked himself a window seat, and really didn’t feel like climbing over people to get into it.