"Another day, another story. Seems to be all we do nowadays isn't it? We weave stories designed to ensure people become interested in us, so that the great Gods in the sky above can approve or disapprove of us. This is the life we all choose. Today, more than ever, we weave these stories in an attempt to make the world like us, because deep down. We are all shallow, fickle creatures.
I forgot this for a while, if I'm being honest. I became consumed with myself, and living a life for me and me only. Worrying about business and wealth, then consuming myself with returning to my roots.
I thought I was missing something, something needed to complete me. The reality of that situation is that I found that thing a very long time ago. So, what am I still doing here? Well isn't that a question we would all like to have answered right now eh?"
Danny seems to be talking to himself as he wonders around the edge of what seems to be a large forest. Long time fans would know it well. The sun had dipped over the horizon, casting a slight reddish glow over the whole scene.
Draped in his now normal t-shirt and jeans combo, as opposed to his trademark three piece, a continuation of his change from savvy, cutthroat businessman, to fed up veteran searching for his place in the world.
"Realistically, I haven't got an answer. I keep hoping the answer to my query will just slap me in my face. Last week I thought that would be the case when I heard from a ghost, but no. That wasn't the answer. So, I came here. You know this place. I spent many years in this place. I've cut a hundred promos from within these grounds. I hoped for an answer. I got nothing. Nothing but more confusion."
After walking silently for another minute or so, Danny comes across a tree stump. A tree that was felled before he had ever even stepped foot in these hallowed grounds, yet it never seemed to grow even an inch. He ran his gnarled fingertips over the damaged and weathered bark, hovering a moment over a spot that seemed to be darker in colour than the rest. With a deep sigh, he sat upon the trunk, looking up at the giant building that sat in the middle of these acres.
It stood tall and proud, three stories high and big as a castle. Constructed of stone and cement, it still managed to come across with a classic English manor vibe. It felt simply majestic, and projected itself just as such.
A few lights emanated from the buildings many windows. Staff members mainly. Danny knew that there was no occupants inside at the moment. The owner was in Morocco, his daughter in Texas, and the third occupant was sitting on a tree stump outside, looking up at it.
"This isn't my home. I wasn't born here, nor raised here. I have homes around the world, in New York and Florida, England and Italy, Manila and Osaka. But this, no, this isn't mine. Yet, this place is so entwined in my professional career, it's hard to imagine ever being so far away from it."
He looked up to the left, before raising his hand and pointing towards a row of balconies on the top floor of the house. Five in a row, jutting out from French doors, looking unlike anything else on the exterior of the home.
"There, if you had been sat where I am right now almost ten years ago, you would have seen three members of the Cyndicate standing out there one morning. Jarvis King, King Nothing and myself waking after a night of drink and debauchery in celebration of our induction into the group."
He dropped his hand, smirking a little to himself as he did so, obviously remembering what little he could of that night.
"I've been trying to get in touch with the old me for so long but I haven't come to the very place that epitomised me for so long. My CWF career is entrenched in this building. It's not just the celebration of my induction. I cut my very first promo ever in this spot I sit now, I chipped the stone of the edge of the building in a blinding rage the first time I lost to Amber, tied up the Blue Scorpion in the basement, met Claudia Thorn for the first time in the assembly room, read my own biography in the library. Inside this building is a corridor in which replicas of every championship I have ever won hangs, including the CWF world and Tag titles. My CWF Hall of Fame plaque hangs at the end of said corridor. A tape of every match I have ever had resides within these walls, including my Golden Intentions and Tower victories.
It's all here, so here is my past and my present, and the future will become history within these walls.
Being here has hasn't answered the question of what I was missing, it's answered the question of why I was looking for it in the first place."
Danny stops for a moment, turning his head to the sky, watching as the glow fades, being replaced with the inky blackness of night.
"I have been going back and forth for months, floating between a hunger to become great again, and a desire to just give the fuck up full stop.
See, this is the problem for me. So many of CWF's roster are characters, people using a front to hide their own miserable and pathetic lives. When the cameras are on, they are dark, brooding, deep as shit. Me though, I'm real, and with that comes with fluttering emotions, changing perceptions. It's those changes that have allowed me to flit between the killing machine that made Phoenix Lestrange and Tom Marrow look like utter bitches in my wake, so a wrestling mastermind that realistically had Duce Jones ready to scream my name in submission, to the fucking failure that couldn't put down Nathan Paradine.
So, this coming week, as I lock horns for the very first time with Zolton, what version of The Ripper will grace that ring?"
Sensing the goosebumps starting to raise on his scarred arms as the chill of night sets in, Danny stands from his perch and begins to head towards the house.
"The version of me that you'll get is one who senses an opportunity. A chance to play spoiler. Zolton stands one point ahead of me in the current rankings. See I know that I have a chance to win this whole thing, so long as I don't lose again, but Duce stands a better chance than me. That's fine, realistically, I've come to understand that winning a belt I have held twice before doesn't hold as much weight as it once did.
I also know however, that if I let Zolton beat me this week, he'll stand a better chance of taking the whole thing. So, for me, this isn't an opportunity to win a match, nor inflict the harm I so love to do, but instead, I get to play spoiler, which in reality is far more fun!"
Danny makes his way up to the huge, elaborately decorated Oak doors at the front of the house. As always, they opened as he approached, creating a thunderous echo throughout the huge entrance hall behind them. The first time he had stepped through he spent ages looking for the trick that allowed the doors to open with seemingly no human or mechanical intervention. These days, he simply steps inside, wishing to avoid the cold air that had suddenly surrounded him outside.
As the doors closed with an almighty thud behind him, an old man stumbled out of a door to the right. This was Albert, the keeper of this home for over fifty years. Albert was long beyond retirement age now, but he felt no need to hang up his gloves just yet. Albert informed Ripper that his chambers were ready, as if that would be news to him. All the same, he acknowledged the information and began his climb up the large marble staircase at the end of the entrance hall.
As he walked along the corridor on the top floor, he allowed his fingertips to brush across the walls. Again, ornately decorated, allowing the interior of the home to look as resplendent as a Royal home, hues of crimson and gold chosen deliberately for this reason. His mind wandered back to the very first time he had been shown what would become his home for years as he found his feet as a professional wrestler.
It was different now. Back then he projected an image of toughness, but inside he was a bag of nerves and fire. So ready to prove himself to the world. Back then he was a character, a caricature of evil. Now, he had accepted the darkness within himself, and embraced it.
His room looked as good as ever. The four poster King size draped in sheets of teal silk as always, a fire crackled warmly in hearth. Albert had taken the liberty to ensure that plenty of fruit and nuts were waiting on a small, dark wooden table in the corner, and besides the high back that faced the fire, on a small table, sat a crystal decanter and matching tumbler, both filled with a sweet, amber liquid. Sometimes, having someone wait on you had its benefits.
Of course he sat, clasping the tumbler in his right hand as he stared into the fire.
"So, Zolton, my goal this week is to spoil your ascent to the top. So how am I going to do that?
Well, let's look at the facts, shall we? As it stands in the tournament, you're in the same boat as I am. We both so far have a single loss to our name. The only other difference is that I have a bullshit of a draw. That's neither here nor there though is it?
I'll be honest, before this week, I knew your name, and nothing else. I didn't need to care about you, and it's not like you're special enough to garner my attention anyways. I do know you're bigger than I am, and that there's a real chance that you're going to try and use that against me.
No biggie, I'm used to it. I'm used to people thinking they can bully me. More people have tried to push me around than you've faced in your professional career, and none have succeeded.
I also have found from a rather simple search that we have both graced Bally's as members of the Boardwalk wrestling roster. Funny though, I don't remember ever seeing your name in the lost of former AC Champions. Whereas, I stand before you as the single most dominant champion in Boardwalk's history.
So, there's something I have over you. Someone else I have, is that I am already in your head. I saw you unable to talk last week after your victory. Too busy planning to beat me already. Bless your soul. All that energy and there's me unable to summon a single fuck for you. Hell, the only reason I am bothering right now is contractual obligations.
Must have stung when I ran through my list of people I was willing to face you and you were nowhere near it. I see now however, that may have been a touch foolish. I've seen that you can handle your own, and honestly I'm somewhat impressed by you.
You kind of remind me of you a few years ago, still hungry, still ready to fight. Funny how you compared Svenson's burgeoning career to your own, citing six years between you. This was enough for you to consider him a boy, a meekling, a rookie.
Of course in that logic, your six years barely makes a dent in the world compared to my fifteen then does it? So, shall I refer to you as a boy? Shall I consider you a rookie? In reality, your impact on this world is laughable in comparison, but what about the here and now, what separates the two of us going into this fight?"
He seems to contemplate this for a moment. His fingers tap gently on the side of the crystal as the fire light dances in his pupils. He rocks his head back and forth, allowing the light to bounce off his face, highlighting the years of scars and scrapes.
"In reality, what separates the man of chaos from the Demon of Death?"
He sets the now empty tumbler back down on the spindly table besides him, not looking for a second, not allowing the fire light to leave his eyes. With an air of amusement, he proceeds to answer his own question.
"Well, isn't that another question we wouldn't all mind being answered. I honestly believe the two of us could spit barbs at one another for days on end. We could honestly continue to ignite one another's fire, stoking the flames until the heat consumes us.
What difference would that make when the bell rings though? We're both soulless killers between the ropes right? Nothing will stand and in our way when it comes to claiming our pound of flesh, and like I said, we stand as good as equal on the leaderboard.
What I do think will make a difference however, is our maturity in the ring. I don't take anything at face value, you do. You base arguments on names and appearances. You think you're the baddest fucker on the planet, and as someone who used to have the same mindset, let me give you a piece of advice, you aren't.
You might be out there to make an impact, to make a name for yourself, to raise hell, to create chaos. I have a different approach, I have one target, one aim. To win.
Zolton. I have seen it all, done it all, and faced them all. In reality, there should be no problem in me facing someone I should know inside and out. You really are me from the J.Rish years. Your passion, your hunger, your drive will take you far, and one day, I hope that you realise that potential, but against me it just isn't going to happen.
I want you to take this opportunity kid, you'll get to see what can happen when you focus that anger, harness that energy and utilise that hunger, you get to become me.
At least, that's until the RKS puts you down for the three, that's when you'll learn your most valuable lesson…
You're not ready yet. I am."