Tyrone’s shaky camera work kicks things off as we join Jarvis King, sitting comfortably on his leather sofa with a beer in hand, watching the big fight on Pay Per View. The date, June 9, flashes on the bottom of the screen as Jarvis calmly takes a sip.
In stark contrast to his older brother, Ian King flutters around behind the couch, momentarily kneeling over a desk whilst talking on the phone. His energy is frantic; while Jarvis doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, it’s clear that Ian is doing the worrying about something for the two of them. He seems to not notice Jarvis and Tyrone as he mutters into his phone.
“I’m on hold,” he says through gritted teeth.
“Ian, why don’t you watch the fight?” says Jarvis, not looking up from the television.
“I’m on hold,” Ian repeats, not so much to Jarvis but to himself. His tone is yet still more strained, with more than a twinge of frustrating gurgling forth from the back of his throat to his lips as he lets out a hissing sigh.
“C’mon Ian,” Jarvis says, still not taking an eye off of the TV. “You just missed it – the guy who won in court this week got totally punked out! There’s still time to catch the main event, though.”
Ian’s pacing and attention do not waver. “I’m in some kind of hellish holding world of holding,” he says, before his eyes perk up as the muzak seems to stop, signalling that someone has finally answered his call. “Yes!” he says, wiping his brow. “Ian King for…yes, but…listen, I don’t care that he made the announcement, you can unmake it, and…”
Jarvis turns around, meeting his brother’s eye. “Are you trying to get on with CWF management, Ian?” The younger King brother’s eyes widen, which causes Jarvis’s jaw to set upon itself. “Hang up,” he says, determinedly.
“But…” Ian starts.
Ian, reluctantly, acquiesces, and slips his iPhone into his pocket before closing up some of the books and documents on the table and slinking over to sit next to his brother on the couch. Jarvis returns his gaze to the television – live from Chicago – and reaches down to a cooler next to the couch to grab a can of Alexander Keith’s. He wipes the condensation from the can off on his black t-shirt before cracking it open one-handed and offering it to his brother. Ian accepts.
“What’s he doing anyhow?” Ian asks, pointing at the camera.
“Content, my man,” says Tyrone from behind the lens.
“Intro to KingCast,” says Jarvis. “Now watch.”
The two brothers sit in silence a moment, watching the action on-screen while quietly taking turns at sipping away at their beers. It’s awkward. Jarvis’s stare never leaves the television, but Ian, still frustrated and flustered, can’t help but look over at his brother every few seconds. Jarvis obviously feels Ian’s eyes digging a hole into his head, and so it’s the elder of the two who breaks the silence first.
“What?” Jarvis says, not taking an eye off of the television.
“Jarvis,” Ian begins. Jarvis doesn’t let him continue, though, as he cuts him off immediately.
“I knew what I was doing, Ian. I didn’t opt-in to the Golden Intentions match at number 2 because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I’m not some flighty moron, Ian. It was a carefully thought out and calculated plan. I’m not an idiot.”
“Not an idiot,” Ian repeats. His tone is much more even than it had been before; clearly this was the fight that Ian was ready for on this occasion. “What exactly would you say you are, Jarvis? Some sort of genius? You go out, unannounced, as a special guest referee in a match that you should have been competing in, for a chance to be last in that match. You pick and prod at a man that already has issues with you, and then you make an announcement that no one’s expecting, not least of which me, that you’re not only in the match, but you’re coming into it as one of the first two competitors. If that doesn’t sound like an idiot, Jarvis…I don’t know what does.”
Jarvis smirks and takes a long pull from his beer can. He crushes it in his hand as he finishes, before tossing it effortlessly behind him, where it lands perfectly in a recycling bin. “I have a plan, Ian,” he says, reaching for another beer. He repeats the same ritual as he did for Ian’s – wiping it off on his shirt before cracking it open one-handed with his index finger – and takes a sip. “Besides,” he says as he lets out a quiet belch, “you don’t manage my career. I do.”
“And what kind of management do you call this, Jarvis?” Ian asks, his tone as exasperated as its ever been. “You’re setting yourself up for failure!”
“No,” Jarvis replies, taking his eyes off of the television and meeting his brother’s gaze head-on. “What I’m setting myself up to do is know exactly where Christian STARR is at all times that night. See, I used to treat this job as a vocation – a calling that I had a particular inclination towards. I used to think of professional wrestling as a really simply equation – you wrestle well, and you get success. You wrestle poorly, and you get failure. Then I got blindsided by a guy who I used to call one of my best friends. That’s when two realizations hit me.”
“Number one,” says Tyrone from behind the camera. “Ow, that hurt.” Jarvis rolls his eyes while flashing a rude hand gesture at Tyrone. The big man laughs.
“One,” Jarvis says, returning his attention to Ian, “is that this isn’t just a job, it’s a business. And I’ve been making some bad business decisions. I’ve been caught off guard one too many times. So it became clear to me that I had to start to take responsibility for the business decisions that I make, because if you don’t make the decisions, they get made for you.”
“Second, I realized that in wrestling, like in life, there’s an unsettling amount of random happenstance that pops up, and that the best laid plans of mice and men aren’t worth anything when a wrench gets thrown into the gears. What can be done, Ian? You have to be able to adapt. You have to be able to deal with that randomness, because if you can’t, it will run you over and leave you for dead. This industry doesn’t owe me a damn thing, but it will try and collect on debts it thinks that you owe it.”
“So how do I deal with these two little epiphanies, Ian? Easy. I make business decisions that limit my exposure to unplanned events. There’s nothing that Christian STARR would want more than to get a fast one on me after we’ve already tangoed, and I’ve already retained my Paramount Championship. How do I deal with that knowledge? I make damn sure that he has to face me, man to man, face to face, first thing in that rumble.”
“But,” Ian interjects, “even if you do eliminate the threat of STARR, you’ve got to deal with 28 other competitors.”
“Yes,” Jarvis says, thoughtfully. “A quandary to be sure. Thing of it is that I’m stepping into that ring largely with people I’ve never faced off against. There’ll be the odd old hands – Amber, Omega…hell, I heard a rumour that Kemsey Fucking Ramsey’s gonna be there – but it’s definitely going to be a complete crap shoot come match time. So how do you deal with a random event? How do you rig a crap shoot? You play with loaded dice, and the only loaded dice that I’ve ever needed is the fact that I am Jarvis J. King. And this,” he says, winking at the camera, “is KingCast!”
The typical star-wipe brings us to the intro video package of the CWF’s premier internet talk show, KingCast! The incessant ticking of a clock starts off “Hello Timebomb” as a shot of Jarvis King pinning Christian STARR in their instant classic first encounter is shown. “And now,” booms the voice of KingCast’s announcer, just as the referee counts three, awarding the pin fall and Paramount Championship to The Internet Icon.
The scene changes, now showing Jarvis lifting his old friend and bitter foe Shane Donovan up for the Straighjacket Piledriver off the apron. The two men crash through the table at ringside, just as the voice continues. “He is a former CWF champion, Grand Slam winner, and Hall of Famer...”
We’re treated to Jarvis blindsiding STARR with a Yakuza kick on a recent episode of Evolution, before standing tall with his Paramount title held aloft. “And current,” says the announcer, “reigning and defending CWF Paramount Champion…”
Next comes multiple shots of Jarvis as a referee from just two weeks back. Shots of Jarvis being tested by STARR culminate in The Internet Icon snapping and hitting a superkick. “The internet Icon,” says the voice, “The Ethernet Enigma. Jarvis J. King Presents…”
The shot changes back to the image of STARR trapped in Royal Mutilation, tapping out in slow motion, as enormous block letters fill the screen with the word that the announcer speaks next: "KINGCAST."
With that, the video package fades to black, and is soon replaced by the screaming studio audience. As “Hello Timebomb”, just barely audible beneath the din of the crowd, chugs along, the camera swoops low over the crowd and focusses on a red curtain to the right of Jarvis’s desk. Smoke begins to pour out from underneath, just as the curtain begins to part giving way to a blinding white light.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” says the voice, as the silhouette of a suited man walks into the light. “Please welcome your host, The Internet Icon, JARVIS KING!”
The commotion gets, if possible, even louder, as Jarvis King walks forward with a bottle of water in hand and the Paramount Championship on his shoulder. He smiles widely as the curtain closes behind him, and waves as he makes his way to the desk. "HOW'S IT GOING?" he screams over the din of the crowd's cheers. They begin to calm and settle down, as King takes a seat in front of a green-screen representation of the Halifax skyline, and sets the Paramount title on a stand to his right, presenting it to the audience. “Big news this week, folks. Lot of stuff to get to as we are about to go to the city of brotherly love, so let’s get into it.”
With that, a positive pregnancy test pops up on the green screen behind Jarvis King's left shoulder. The Internet Icon raises an eyebrow and adjusts his tie. “That’s riiiiight,” he says with a smile, “we’ve got big news on the rumour front as somebody’s gonna be a daddy!”
A picture of a fairly tired man holding a newborn baby boy pops up, with the caption “WELCOME TO THE WORLD JONAH PAUL!” Jarvis raises an eyebrow and shakes his head. “No,” he says, confused, “like…someone’s expecting. And it’s not that guy. I mean, who is that jabroni anyhow?”
“No,” says Jarvis as the picture is removed. “We’re talking about a bit more of a high-profile poppa-to-be…”
A picture of Scott Steiner is shown. “No,” says Jarvis. “That’s Big Poppa Pump. We’re talking more of a…’royal’ baby.”
Steiner is replaced by Will, Kate and the two tiny heirs to the British throne. Jarvis rolls his eyes, and rests his head on his desk. “No,” he says, his voice muffled in his own chest. “We’re talking about a wrestler here.” With that, a picture of Jarvis himself pops up, causing King to sit up at attention with a look of panic in his eyes. “NO NO NO!” he shouts. “STARR. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT CHRISTIAN STARR!”
STARR’s portrait – rather, a shot of his face seconds after being superkicked in his Beat the Clock Challenge match against Duce Jones – flashes up on the screen, next to a concerned looking Allison Hollywood. Jarvis sighs, satisfied. “There,” he says. “Don’t fucking scare me like that, Rick.”
“Anyhow, needless to say, a celebration is in order, Christian!” Jarvis claps three times, slowly, with a smirk on his face. “I mean, it’s sort of a miracle that you were able to knock that dime-store skeeze up to begin with. I mean, the years of bulimia usually lead to a woman not being able to conceive, and well…Christian, I know how you wrestle, so I’ve got a pretty good sense of how impotent you are.”
“Of course,” Jarvis says taking a swig of water, “we’re hearing about this juicy piece of gossip in the last week or two…which would actually mean that the actual act would line up pretty well with when you lost…” He points at the Paramount title. “…so I mean…maybe, just maybe it’s not as miraculous as I thought before, Christian.”
“That having been said, STARR, a genuine mazel tov to your little fucked-up family of fools. And when that melon-headed spawn bursts forth like a xenomorph, you’ll be able to tell little Christina what life was like when she was conceived. A literal fascist was in the White House. A band from the 90s covered a song from the 80s because a kid born in the early 2000s asked them really nice on Twitter and it became the hit of the summer of 2018. And finally, little Christina’s daddy – well, the guy who raised her, anyhow – he gave up to a much better, much better looking man for the Paramount title at Golden Intentions.”
Jarvis grins, as the image turns to that of The Internet Icon standing tall with the Paramount title as STARR lies broken on the mat, having just tapped out to Royal Mutilation. “See, Christian, I gotta tell you, I’m really excited that we’re facing off at Golden Intentions. I’m really excited that it’s a submission match. You might argue that you were owed a title shot – that you deserved a rematch – but to be honest, I wanted this match.”
“Simply put STARR, I wanted an opportunity to provide you with a receipt.” The image changes over to the night that Jarvis won the Paramount title. STARR and Payne stand cruelly over Jarvis, the former champion with the title he just lost in hand. “That night was supposed to be my night, Christian. It was supposed to be my moment to celebrate and stand back at the top of the mountain with the title that made me who I am today. Instead, I was left beaten, battered, and without the title that I had earned through perseverance and frankly being better than you.”
“You took something from me that night, STARR. You took away a moment that I should have been able to treasure for the rest of my life. You also took something from me on this night.” The shot changes to one of Jarvis at Paradise, locked into the King’s Cross. Jarvis shakes his head. “That night you took another moment that should have been mine and mine alone.”
“So, at Golden Intentions, I plan on taking something from you. I plan on taking your dignity. I plan on taking away your sense of self. Your very essence. The thing that you define yourself on. I plan on taking away your very soul, Christian.”
Jarvis swallows, clears his throat, and continues. “Christian, you’re good, son. You’re damn good. You’re a man on the cusp of greatness, with every tool at your disposal to find success.” He chuckles and shakes his head. “I mean, I can’t believe I’m saying it, but you could be staring down the barrel of an exciting and prosperous career. You might just be the next big thing. And with the tools that you have, you should be able to strive for greatness in the CWF, and in this industry as a whole.”
Jarvis taps a pen on the desk in thought. “But take a minute, Christian,” he says, dropping the pen. “Take a second to look back at the words I just said, and, by the way, I mean every one of them…but really think on them. You could be prosperous. You might be the next big thing. You should be able to strive for greatness. See, even when I’m paying you a compliment – again, compliments that I truly, honestly, sincerely intend to pay you – I have no choice but to put it in the realm of the hypothetical.”
“It’s a hypothetical world, Christian, wherein you live up to your potential. It’s a hypothetical world wherein you not only have the tools at your disposal, but you know how to use them. It’s a hypothetical world wherein, when the lights are on bright and the pressure is high, you don’t crack. It’s a hypothetical world, Christian, because it’s not a world that exists. It’s a hypothetical world because you can’t perform at those levels. It’s a hypothetical world because you do crack under the pressure. It’s a hypothetical world because it’s a world in which you never had to stand across the ring from Jarvis J. King.”
The shot of Jarvis with the title held aloft returns as King takes a swig of water. “When I step into that ring for our one-on-one match at Golden Intentions, Christian,” he continues, “I want you to know that I’m not doing so just to defend this title. I’m not stepping into that ring for retribution for you trying your damnedest to deprive me of something that I earned, through blood, sweat, grit and determination.” He shakes his head with a smile. “I’m stepping into that ring motivated by the desire to prove to you that your promise is unfulfilled. That your hype is nothing but empty words. And most importantly, Christian, I’m stepping into that ring to show you that your loss at my hands a month ago wasn’t a fluke; it was divine providence.”
“I know that you so badly want it to be a fluke, Christian.” Jarvis sighs. “I know that you wish in the pit of your stomach that you lost this title – a championship that you value almost as much as I do – because of some trick of the universe or glitch in the matrix. I know that the very base of your soul, you wish nothing more than to prove that your recent downturn in form isn’t because of your shortcomings, but because of some miscarriage of justice that you intend to right through the course of our match.”
“The other thing that I know, Christian,” King continues, pointing at the screen, “is that you’re not a stupid man. You may be short-sighted and vain, you may lack in vision and have an overabundance of ego, but you are by no means unintelligent. You have your feelings, your desires, your wishes, your wants…but deep down, you know that all of that amounts to is a hill of beans when faced with the truth.”
Jarvis leans in, his voice dropping to a whisper. “And the truth hurts Christian.” His eyes narrow. “I know it does. That said, as painful as it is, you know what a fluke is. A fluke is a one-off. It’s unprecedented. It’s a one-time event that exists in isolation…but we both know that’s not what’s at play here.”
Jarvis leans backwards, straightening up, and looks towards the ceiling making imaginary marks in the sky as he speaks. “This isn’t Leicester City winning the Premier League once; it’s Bill Shankly leading the mighty Reds of Liverpool towards beginning a dynasty. This isn’t Christian Starr winning his first title.” King shakes his head and smirks. “It’s Jarvis King winning his first title. This isn’t a stone dropping into the ocean; it’s the beginning of a cliff eroding.”
“You want to pretend otherwise, and I can understand that. I’ve heard you, Christian. Don’t think that I haven’t. I’ve heard you when you say that you’re a changed man. That you’re more prepared, that your eyes are open, that you are a version of Christian STARR that the world has yet to see.”
“You say that you’re hungrier than you once were. You say that there’s desire in your heart unlike anything that the world has ever experienced. You’ve got the eye of the tiger, you say. You’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder, you say. You say that you’ve been chasing chickens and punching sides of beef, while I’ve been training in my state-of-the-art facility with Brigitte Nielsen and…” A picture of Ivan Drago with King’s head crudely photoshopped on flashes on screen. Jarvis stops, and shakes his head. “Sorry,” he says as the picture changes to one from the most recent episode of Evolution, with both STARR and King standing eye to eye. “I’ll be honest, I saw the trailer for Creed 2 and I’m kinda hyped.”
“Anyhow, the point is…You’re a changed man, about to prove to the world why you’re the king of wrestling and…blah, blah, blah... here’s the thing about this whole self-aggrandizing thing you do, STARR - it sounds really good when you’re saying it.” Jarvis shrugs, almost as if he’s coming to accept his own words. “You’re a hell of a salesman, and you’ve got a lot of people buying into the hype, including – from the sounds of it – you.”
“The problem is that when you’ve heard the hype job from a million other flashes in the pan, you start to get really, really good at sniffing it out when you’re faced with little more than a catchphrase that’s propped up with a tiny bit of talent. Put it another way – when you’re faking it till you make it, those who have made it can recognize it when you’re faking it.”
“It’s sad, though,” Jarvis says, sadly. “I mean, you genuinely think that you’re great. You want to talk about greatness, Christian? Greatness is a 20-year-old young man from Halifax, Nova Scotia, stepping forward on to the world’s stage and winning his first championship. Greatness is that young man defending that title, setting the template that you tried your best, and failed, to emulate.”
“Greatness is that same kid throwing off the shackles of an oppressive ruler and carving his own place in the world. Greatness is beating a champion who had never been beat before and defending that title more times than any other champion ever had before.”
“Greatness - and this the part that you seem to be sleeping on - is when that kid was beat back, he rose up like a phoenix from the ashes and won more titles, and more accolades, and achieved more than you’ve ever even dreamed of. Greatness is establishing a Hall of Fame career and still striving for more. Greatness is everything that I have achieved and everything I still work to achieve. Greatness is what I am, and it’s only what you pretend to be.”
“Like I said, Christian, you’re a poor imitation of the national brand. You’re a cheap knock-off of the genuine Jarvis King article, which means that you don’t quite measure up to the kind of man that Jarvis King is. See, Jarvis King is the kind of guy who sets records. Jarvis King is the kind of guy who breaks barriers. Jarvis King is the kind of guy who, after making you tap out, will go on to the Golden Intentions match and go ahead and set more records, and break more barriers and become not only the first man to go pillar-to-post with that rumble, but the first dual Paramount and World champion at WrestleFest.”
Jarvis stands, picking up the Paramount title and swinging it over his shoulder as he does so. “That said, Christian,” he says, running a hand through his hair, “I want you to be telling the truth. I want to believe in the hype. I want you to be at your best, and I want that best to be 50% better than you’ve ever been before. I want it really, really bad, because I want to show you that beyond a shadow of any sort of doubt that you don’t measure up.” King smirks. “I want, in those quiet moments where it’s just you and your thoughts, for you to have no doubt that you’re good, but good is not great. You’re talented, but talented is not flawless. You’re a king in that ring, but a king is not a god. You’re Christian STARR, but Christian STARR is not anywhere near Jarvis King.”
“But you’re definitely close enough, Christian, to Bow Down.”