We cut backstage to find Coral Avalon in casual clothes for the evening, sitting on a steel chair and adjusting the flag on a battle standard. While he isn’t in action for tonight, he’s preparing for war nonetheless.
Joe Fontaine: (off-camera) Okay, so this is a story as old as time.
Sid Phillips: (off-camera) Oh no, what are you doing?
Well, someone has to.
Coral shakes his head, but smiles at what’s going on off-camera. He doesn’t want to intervene with that sort of pre-match ritual, no matter how ridiculous it is. His smile fades slightly when he notices someone approaching him, though he doesn’t move from his seat.
The camera pans to the left to see Eddie Cross and Dave Gibson approaching, which explains the change in demeanor. Eddie doesn’t appear to be just passing by either, he is making a direct line toward Coral.
Eddie Cross: Hey Coral. Before you make assumptions about the situation, you got a minute to hear me out?
Coral looks up at Eddie, still not moving from his seat.
Coral Avalon: Sure thing, uh… Eddie.
He turns to Gibson, nodding to him.
Coral Avalon: Hey, Gibby.
Gibson chuckles with a bit of rasp.
Dave Gibson: Been a while since someone called me that. Good to see you too, Coral.
Eddie removes his glasses and shoves them in the pocket of his jacket.
Eddie Cross: I’ve been thinking, and a lot has happened since our match. I have been meaning to find you so I could tell you something to your face.
Coral sets his flag to the side, and stands up from his seat so that he can meet Eddie’s gaze.
Coral Avalon: Well, as it turns out, I’m all ears. It’s a condition, I know.
Coral Avalon: No, but seriously. What’s up?
Eddie usually looks intense, but today he seems a little more relaxed than usual.
Eddie Cross: I just wanted you to know it was an honor to face you and that the loss taught me more than a win ever could. I know I say a lot of things and I get under people’s skin, but that is part of the game.
Dave leans forward and chimes in.
Dave Gibson: Believe me, I was shocked myself when he told me about this plan. But the kid insisted on looking you in the eye and telling you. I ain’t about to stop a young man in the business from paying their respects. Ain’t enough of that today, in my opinion.
Coral Avalon: Yeah, I know what you mean, Gibby.
He turns to Eddie.
Coral Avalon: You know, this is going to sound like corny loser talk to you, but wrestling is its own reward to me. I always want to win, let’s not get it twisted, but winning or losing isn’t as important to me as being able to do this at this level at all. A couple of years from now, I’ll lose a step. Maybe two. I won’t be able to move as well as I used to, because the only thing in wrestling you can’t defeat is Father Time. I’m not sure what I’d do with myself once that happens.
He smiles and points a finger to Eddie as he continues.
Coral Avalon: But you, Eddie, you’ve still got your whole career ahead of you. Moments to make, championships to win. Everyone has setbacks when they start, hurdles to jump over, and ever-moving goalposts to chase. You’re driven to compete. You’ll find a way to succeed. I’d bet money on it.
Eddie nods and seems to take the words to heart.
Eddie Cross: That’s why I wanted to talk to you. I spend a lot of time talking about how people around here aren’t real wrestlers, they don’t care about the business. But you, you’re different. I looked up some of your old tape and you gave it everything. You grow, you evolve. You’re the real deal.
He looks back at Dave for a moment before continuing.
Eddie Cross: I’m not obtuse. I know what people say about me, and frankly I don’t really care. I wasn’t hired to become everyone’s best friend. But respect? I will make time for that.
Coral Avalon: Well, no one’s born special. It’s the work we put in that makes us special. Take Joe and Sid, for example. They’re both second-genners, like you are. You wouldn’t think they put the work in, since they both act the way they act. But they do. The growth they’ve had in the last year is astounding. They wouldn’t have done that if they didn’t believe in wrestling.
In the background, Joe and Sid can still be heard.
Sid Phillips: (off-camera) Joe, why are you doing this now!? The tag title match is in a half hour!”
Joe Fontaine: (off-camera) Relax. Let me do this. It’s important.
Sid Phillips: (off-camera) Pirates, though!? Does this look like HOW!?
Joe Fontaine: (off-camera) Funny you should mention that…
Coral noticeably winces hearing all of Joe and Sid’s “pre-match preparations”, and tries to pretend like he didn’t hear any of that.
Coral Avalon: Although sometimes I wish they’d take this more seriously than they do… Oh well. Ignore them. I’m sure it’ll work out fine.
He pauses, smiles awkwardly, and looks away.
Coral Avalon: I think.
Eddie looks at the pair and raises an eyebrow.
Eddie Cross: You’re on your own there.
He extends a hand and offers his respect to Coral once again.
Eddie Cross: Good luck in the Battle Royal. I mean that. Mutual bullshit aside though, if it comes between you and me and you’re standing in the way of winning a title shot? I will not hesitate to take you out. I hope you understand it isn’t personal.
Coral takes Eddie up on his handshake, and smiles.
Coral Avalon: Never is, my dude. It’s a battle royale, after all. If the opportunity presents itself, you should throw me out… because I’d do the same.
Eddie Cross: Good.
Eddie turns and walks down the hallway, with Dave in tow. The camera pans back to Coral and off camera you hear the two talking.
Eddie Cross: Gibby, eh? When were you going to tell me about that one?
Dave Gibson: How about the umpteenth of “go to hell Eddie.”
Their voices trail off as they walk away.