“So, here we are again. This stop-start road continues onwards doesn’t it? This past week I showed up and I did exactly what I said I would do. I might have been in that ring against the Judge, but I was Judge, Jury and Executioner for that useless sack of shite. This week however, the challenge isn’t so simple. Freddie fucking styles. Lesser men would begin to quake in their cheap ass boots if they found out they were going to be stepping into a ring with the undefeated block leader. As we all know at this point however, I am no lesser man, I see this challenge ahead of me, and I know what I have to do.
Styles is going down. One. Two. Three.
Now, before we get to what could be a career ending match for that wannabe, I have some other business to attend to.
Last week you were all introduced to what I would call my adopted family, clan Anubis if you will. The result of that meeting means that I must once again, split my time between being the best in the world, and a man of action outside of the ring.
Over the coming weeks you will all get more of a chance to get to know these people, as I travel with them for business. This week, my good buddy and pal Claudia Thorn and one of her latest charges, Leighlah Rose, will be travelling with me south of the border to sunny Mexico. Come join us on our little adventure...
“Bitch if you don’t hurry up and get your ass out here I swear to fuck I am going to come in there and throw you out the fucking window!”
The all-too-familiar sight of Danny’s New York City apartment came into view. Still just as crisp and clean as ever, it was also currently filled with the all-too-familiar sound of Claudia’s raspy voice filling the air with expletives. A blur of orange hair and red lipstick flies past the camera as Thorn, click clack-ing along the wooden floor in five inch stiletto heels moves with speed towards one of the closed doors leading off the sizeable main hall. She bursts through said door without as much as a second’s thought, eliciting a yelp from within the room as the door bursts open.
“¡Maldito infierno! What the hell are you doing? I could have still been naked in here!”
“I’m sorry? Do you think I would be frightened of a pair of tits? Get a fucking move on would you woman? He’s going to be here in a minute, and trust me, he won’t be in the mood for waiting when he gets here, so shift your fucking ass before I put a stick in it and carry you outta here!”
She slammed the door behind her with enough force to once again cause Leighlah to jump. Just as she did so, the front door to the apartment opened, and in walked Danny. Looking a little more casual than usual in his torn jeans and obviously well loved ‘Queen’s Quest’ T-shirt, he took a moment to allow his eyes to flit around the room before greeting Claudia. It had been a number of months since he had graced these walls, having decided to allow Claudia and her new proteges to have the place, but this was his home, his base of operations for many years. The main thing that he took away however, was the fact that the drinks cabinet had seemingly overflowed, as bottles of all different varieties lined the kitchen worktop, and people thought he had a drinking problem.
“How you doing bitch?”
Her expression didn’t change, but he saw it, that slight twinkle in her eye that let him know that she was happy to see him. Obviously she was in some kind of mood, and he’d learned better than to question her when in such a state. Instead he simply walked towards her, arms outstretched. He took note of her outfit as he did so, the leather heels, barely there denim shorts that showed off all three thousand feet of her toned legs, cut off, loose hanging Iron Maiden T-shirt, and makeup down as if she was about to walk down the catwalk. Not the most appropriate outfit for a six hour flight into the Land of Enchantment, but once again, he had learned not to question these things over the years.
It was certainly a much cooler reception than he was used to, but all the same, once she wrapped her arms around him she held him as tightly as ever. As they broke apart, Danny gestured to the closed bedroom door with his head, causing her to roll her eyes and walk off towards the kitchen to pour herself a half-tumbler full of one of the strange and exotic bottles on the countertop. Deciding that she had obviously ran out of patience, Danny went to knock on the door himself, but wasn’t quite given the chance as it swung open as he was about to. Leighlah nearly tumbled into him, stopping just short of crashing into her one time trainer. The look of shock in her bright blue eyes caused him to burst out laughing, which in turn caused her shock to turn into annoyance. Problem with that was, her cute little face contorting into annoyance only increased his mirth further. Without a single word spoken he’d managed to wind her up enough to the point that she simple bustled past him, pulling along a suitcase which he could only imagine contained about a week’s worth of clothes. Considering they were going to be out of the country for about eighteen hours, he also found this somewhat amusing.
Claudia half slammed her tumbler on the countertop, her annoyance evident in every slight movement.
“Right we ready then?”
“And she tried to make me believe that you were the one who would get annoyed if we were late?”
Luckily one thing Claudia hadn’t seemed to have inherited from her father was his supernatural hearing. Danny smirked to himself as he watched the women bustle out of the door. Claudia grabbed hold of a slightly oversized handbag on the way.
“Guess when the only things you consider important are hotpants and lipstick it really doesn’t take up that much room does it?”
With a look of sheer bemusement on his face, Danny followed the women out of the door.
Freddie Styles. Don’t think I’m overlooking you even for a second kid. No matter what is going on, let me tell you now that I am not taking you lightly. I might be the best the world has to offer, but this isn’t the whole world is it? This is Championship Wrestling Federation, and right now, you would be able to put a very large stamp on your claim to be the Ace of the company.
That’s something I could never really claim. Every time I reached the top, something would go wrong. I never got to hold my time at the top of the company, never got to be ‘the guy.’
Thing is Freddie, in the absence of royalty, is the Prince Regent really in charge, or simply a figurehead. This is our time to find out is it not?
You must have been licking your chops going into this one, thinking that this supposed legend seems to have lost his touch, but I hope that you were watching last week when I showed the Judge just what I can be capable of with my head on straight. You’ve been unstoppable up until this point, you’ve been untouchable, but I make a habit of taking those that seemingly can’t be conquered, and conquering them. You might be the best, but I’m the beast.
There are always four major stereotypes when people think of Mexico. Dusty streets, perfect beaches, drug mules and ancient ruins. Danny had been south enough to encounter them all at least once, and once was enough for every one of them apart from the beaches. Those he could do all day and night any given day of the year. This was why at this moment in time, he had a big smile plastered on his face as he walked the sandy shores of La Paz. With the girls off doing their own thing until their meeting later this evening, Danny had a few moments to walk along the sand, doing his favourite thing in the world, contemplating his life by the sea. Growing up in a seaside town in England, those that knew him always knew that was where he would be if something was going on, it was the only place he could really think straight.
He needed it at this moment, a place to collect his thoughts, to try and understand what was going on inside his head. It’s said that a combat athlete is only ever as good as his last match, and although Danny had managed to clock another W in Boise, the manner in which the match unfolded was certainly under his skin. After being unable to pick one up against Zolton the show before, this past week was do or die for The Ripper. The problem with that idealism, is that he almost got himself to the point where he couldn’t of possibly won.
The Ripper has made no secret in the past that he enjoys dishing out punishment, but unlike the Judge, he isn’t there to hurt people for no reason, he goes out there to win at any cost, safety and longevity be damned. So, the fact that he spent the first ten minutes of that contest being basically battered from pillar to post did not sit right with him at all.
For years and years, he had relied on simply verbally battering opponents into submission before blinding them with speedy and innovative offence. When that didn't work, he went on the hunt. The scars that littered his body were each individual stories about how this man gave zero fucks about his wellbeing and just went for it, life and love on the line every single time. It was this mentality that allowed him to move with the swagger he did, this mentality that allowed him to rise to the top, this mentality that carried him all the way through matches that should have killed him.
As he flip-flopped across the white sands of La Paz, he allowed his mind to wander to the point that he barely noticed the dog that ran out in front of him. Just in the nick of time he put the breaks on, finding that without the support of a full shoe, he couldn't quite stop his ankle from rolling, and the next thing he knew he was face first in the hot sand.
Most would have panicked, flinched at this. Danny however trained in this stuff. The literally blistering heat of Morrocan sands had formed his body of work, and his aforementioned tolerance of pain. Without this panic, he was able to simply roll over just in time for the dog's owner to run up to him and apologise as profusely as possible. At least, that's what he assumed, his Spanish left a lot to be desired.
He couldn't help but let the anger flash over him, and as soon as it did, she stopped speaking. She stared at him, her gaze frozen in his eyes. Moment of truth. His lips parted. The word rumbled out of his mouth.
"Truth is Freddie, I've been watching you from afar. The reality is, I probably know more about your in ring style than you do of mine. You've scouted my major moves, looked at my style, the way I move. Hell, you probably know about all the weak points right?
No? Let me give you a run down. Left knee, two major surgeries for ligament tears, right knee, dislocated. Left shoulder, trapped nerve. Right shoulder, muscle tear. Neck, compression surgeries. Multiple broken bones included all but one of my fingers. Ribs cracked beyond full time repair. Cuts, scrapes, confusions the lot.
Why do I tell you this? Why expose the weak points? Simple, if you heard that and licked your lips as you formulated a gameplay, you've already lost kid. I've had more injuries than you've had matches, and through every repeated attempt to end my career, I stand here, I stand strong, and I stand here poised to once again claim my throne as CWF champion of the world.
You know that prize don't you Freddie? Oh wait… no you don't.
Freddie, do the names Autumn Raven, Johnny Graves and Dan Ryan mean anything to you? They mean Jack squiddly shit to me, but to you, the names alone must be nightmare fuel right?
I get that you're on the run of a lifetime kid, this miracle dash to the top may very well define your career when all is said and done, but really Mr Ballgame, you've laid it up, now can you sink it for another two points, or will you fall short, get a handful of net and crash at the last moment like you always do?
So, Frederick fucking redacted. We are getting damn close to the end of this tournament, aren't we? That means that your inevitable and crushing downfall must happen soon. That's where I come in. See, I have the opposite problem. No one takes me seriously until I have put them in the ground. Ataxia and Jace Valentine thought I was nothing more than a good hand, Dan Highlander was so cocky he barely bothered. Cyrus Riddle overlooked me before I crushed him en route to becoming the longest reigning Atlantic City Champion in history. Twice, twenty-nine other people have doubted me before I stood tall at the end of two different rumbles.
You're looked upon with reverence but never truly succeed, I'm looked upon with indifference, yet when the lights are on bright, I'm the one to watch.
See, that's the kinda shit that gets under my skin Fredericko. That's the kinda shit that makes me wanna fight on. Call me fucking Ripper van Gogh, because once I'm done, and only once im done, will people realise how fucking special between those ropes I am.
Not you though. Nah, you'll know sooner than that, you'll know real soon. You'll know because I'm the one who's gonna end your little Cinderella story. I know it would take a miracle for me to win the tournament, but only three seconds to spoil your dreams.
Let that sink in for a minute. See, I know you're big on respect, and I'm sure you don't respect me one bit. Doesn't matter. I know you respect my ability, my legacy. You know better than that don't you kid? That's what makes this interesting. Here's the thing though,Ii don't respect you. That may change, but I highly doubt it.
See, while you were coming up with that sweet ass graveyard bit, I was reminiscing about having first done that skit ten years ago.
Also, and take it from someone who knows. Quit fucking smoking dude. Takes years off your life. Not as many as I'm going to, but shit dawg, you don't need to be hacking up your lungs on me."
"So, you've gotta do all this, AND still wrestle in that tournament thing?
Danny nodded, causing Leighlah's eyes to wonder in amazement. The three of them were back together, walking down a well lit path on this dark night. The scene looked like something right out of your brochure, showing a perfect slice of the nightlife on offer. Claudia was in front of the group, having changed her denim hotpants for a leather miniskirt which was roughly the same length, and the Iron Maiden shirt was replaced with a plain white one of the same cut. Somehow, this seemed more like evening wear.
Danny had ditched the casual look and opted for a more traditional white button down and charcoal sacks. Besides him Leighlah was walking awkwardly along, having squeezed herself into a tight baby blue dress and matching stiletto heels. Certainly not her favourite style outright, and she certainly had to be convinced to ditch her Chuck Taylor's, but Danny couldn't quite help but shoot a few sideways glances at her.
"Right, you guys ready?"
They had arrived at the end of the path, directly in front of them was a small building. A single storey in height, and in many ways highly unremarkable. At least, it wouldn't be if it wasn't for the tank of a man wearing a black shirt and trousers. He stank of heavy, and only confirmed suspicions when he requested that they spread arms for a pat down.
"If you find a space I can hide anything, let me know. I could use it next time I need booze in a theatre."
The process was repeated on both Danny and Leighlah, who both managed it without trying to crack a joke, and the three of them were let through the door. Inside was an ornately decorated, sparsely populated social club style building. A stage at the far end was encumbered only with a single grand piano. It was evident to them that when at capacity, two hundred or more could fit into all the seats looking over said stage. Tonight however, was just the odd person, all sat alone in individual booths, quietly sipping away on a variety of different beverages.
Before the three of them could make even two h3steps into the building, they were accosted by a second, smaller man, also draped in all black.
"Sr. Ripper aquí para hablar con Martino Pérez."
The lackey understood and wordlessly bid them forward, leading the way around the long walkway at the back of the room. Finally, just as the stage was about to vanish out of sight, he opened a door on the left.
Before them was another corridor, barren yet elegant. At the other end was another door, flanked by two armed goons in black. The three of them stepped forward, but were immediately pulled back. The original concierge type dude whispered something in Leighlah's ear, correctly assuming that she was the only one who could actually speak Spanish.
She smiled and turned back to the group.
"Sorry Mr Ripper, no cameras allowed."
Now he could see what was so funny. Danny rolled his eyes as he looked directly into the lens. With a jerk of the head, the message was conveyed and the scene died out.
"See Freddie, in my life I have seen the dangerous, and I have seen the lucky. You are neither, yet you are both.
I know your simple mind will struggle to understand what I am saying to you right now. You are not lucky, you do have some skill between those ropes and on the stick. However, you are also not dangerous. You'll never do what it takes to destroy those in front of you.
When you get lucky to land that perfect strike however, you can be dangerous, and when you try and be dangerous, you can often land a lucky blow.
What use is that however against me? Yes, you've seen Zolton and Paradine get lucky against me, you might think that your avenue for success lies in that fact. But, let me tell you now that with every passing match, I feel more like my old self, fight more like my old self. I didn't get into the Hall of fame on a whim. This right here is my time, and this is my chance to turn this whole tournament on its head. You've established yourself as the greatest threat, and in this, I establish myself as the ultimate opponent. Mr Ballgame, meet the beast.
Quote the ripper. You might be the ace, but ace can be low. The king is always high."