WOUNDED TIGER, HIDDEN NIRVANA
Event: ReVival 27
Event Date: 05/05/2023
WOUNDED TIGER, HIDDEN NIRVANA
Coral Avalon walks backstage of the T-Mobile Arena, his gear slung over his shoulder. In a vintage 2015 “Crownless Kingdom” T-shirt and track pants, the Crownless King has arrived somewhat uncharacteristically late for a match for one of the most coveted championships in all of professional wrestling.
That fact is why he’s so focused on his path forward. He has precious little time to make his final preparations to face Nate Colton.
Maybe that’s why when the cameraman steps out of his way, it catches a view of a darkened hall in the arena that Coral is about to pass by. Moments later, emerging like a technicolor vampire, a familiar man in dreadlocks and mismatched eyes appears before Coral.
Sage Pontiff: You know the Five Remembrances?
At this, Coral has his fists halfway up–call it finely honed skills from a lifetime of fighting–and eyeballs the revealed speaker. Sage is looking like he freshly stepped out of Haight-Ashbury in 1967, with flowers and bright leaves woven into his dreadlocks. He’s also entirely shirtless and wearing a sarong and a multi-patterned caftan, and seems to think nothing of the fact that he nearly spooked someone into swinging on him. Why would he? Coral considers his look for a moment, and notably doesn’t unclench his fists or drop his position from ready, leery of the Bodhisattva’s intentions. Sage doesn’t wait for a response.
Sage Pontiff: The Upajjhatthana Sutta. “I am of a nature to grow old, and I can’t escape old age. I am of the nature to get sick, so I can’t escape sickness. I am of the nature to die, I can’t escape death. All that is dear to me and everyone I have loved is of a nature to change, and I can’t escape being separated from them. My actions in this moment are my only true belongings.”
While this is delivered with his standard catatonic, smooth, wasteoid timbre there’s something in his words. We’ve heard him enough and seen the results of his philosophizing enough to know that even if we can’t see it plain, there is likely an implicit threat. Coral Avalon is no dummy, either. His look is one of disbelief verging on combative.
Coral Avalon: Most people would just say “hello”, but I think I’ve seen you enough to know that you’re not “most people”.
While his expression never changes, there’s something about the Bodhisattva makes the Crownless King uneasy. Maybe it’s the “implicit threat” part. Maybe it’s the fact that Coral’s jaw only just started feeling right again after Sage greeted it with a heel kick in the brawl at the end of ReVival 25. Either way, he never lets his guard down or unclinches his fists.
Coral Avalon: Something I can do for you, Sage?
Sage Pontiff: You know, a lot of people view interaction as transactional? Like just now–”what can I do for you”. What can I do so that I can extract a price. “You owe me one” type shit. It’s so…
He waves his hand dismissively.
Sage Pontiff: …typical.
Now, he begins to float. Not literally, of course, but the length of the drapery and his languid pace make it seem that way as he begins to encircle Coral, who for his part plays it smart and rotates right along with him,not letting him have unfettered access to his back whatsoever.
Sage Pontiff: I think of it more like this: what have you been missing, and what can we achieve? Hell, what have I been missing, y’know? I spent a lot of time after I got eliminated floating. Questioning what my purpose was. I honor the traditions of the vision quest, and that medicine is powerful. And it showed me…not a path. Paths are linear, man-made things. But it showed me a gap in the iron where the sunshine came through like a powerful laser, and all I had to do was just…reach in and pry a doorway open. And I look at you. Your doorway is closed. You haven’t accepted the Upajjhatthana Sutta yet.
With a bemused smirk, he stops, looking Coral up and down.
Sage Pontiff: And for you…well, you don’t really have much time left to accept those and open your own door, right?
Coral never takes his eyes off of Pontiff, every bit as bemused at him as Pontiff is of him.
Coral Avalon: Sage, you’ll forgive me if I’m not really buying what you’re selling to me. I’ve seen you in the ring. A little bit outside of it, too, I’d seen some of the bruises you left for security after the battle royale. I don’t think you’re interested in opening anyone’s doors except by battering ram, and then seeing what spills out once you have.
He shrugs his shoulders.
Coral Avalon: But you’re right. I don’t have much time. As in, I don’t have that much time to waste before I go fight Colton tonight. Unless you mean “time left on this Earth”, which… to be honest, I’m already playing with house money as it is.
Sage Pontiff: Oh, you’ve got me, absolutely. I do want to tear open the doors of perception. The doors of the self. You’re a wounded tiger, Coral. You’ve lost a few claws and you’re bleeding on the floor of the jungle and all of these wolves think you’re about to bite it, for good. They think you’re weak and vulnerable. But you know what makes a wounded old tiger such a dangerous thing? Desperation.
He folds his arms, smiling serenely to himself.
Sage Pontiff: You want to win? Is that what will make you feel spiritually enriched? Then you need to tap into that. And maybe if you tap into that, you’ll catch a glimmer of what you’re actually capable of–and you’ll be able to face the universal truth. But I know you because I’ve known you before, and I’ll know you again: you want success. You don’t want growth. What makes you so…afraid of my truth?
Coral Avalon: Your truth, huh?
For a moment, Coral’s expression betrays a bemused smirk of his own.
Coral Avalon: Funny how “your truth” is just you trying to goad me into throwing hands with you.
Coral crosses his own arms, staring at Sage.
Coral Avalon: You know, I call myself the “Crownless King” because I don’t need a crown – or a belt – to prove that I’m one of the best in the world in the ring. I want to face Nate Colton because he’s one of the best to do it right now. Win or lose, he’s going to know that he was in the ring with me. The title belt is just garnish to me.
He smiles dangerously.
Coral Avalon: And you want that for yourself too, don’t you, Sage? You want this “wounded tiger” to bare his fangs at you… But you don’t want him to do it at his peak. God, that’d be silly, right? You want to fight him in a scenario where you hold all of the cards. Right here, right now. An uncontrolled, unfamiliar environment. It’s smart, really. It’s a place where you’re free to smash my face to smithereens with an escrima stick without any of those pesky rules to get in your way.
His smile fades. His gaze turns to steel.
Coral Avalon: The truth-seeking will have to come later. Shouldn’t you know the value of patience, oh wise Bodhisattva?
Sage Pontiff: A crownless king is a blind emperor is a godless holy man. If you think that I’m here because I need the fleeting instant gratification of breaking your consciousness free from your skull, then you really know less than I assumed.
He kisses his fingertips and reaches to place them on Coral’s head–to which Avalon quickly swats his hand away. The Bodhisattva chuckles at this and shrugs, retrieving a cone of sacrament from behind his ear and starting to walk backwards slowly.
Sage Pontiff: Your type never listens. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll go out there and succeed. Or you’ll go out there and fail. And either way, you’ll be the same man when your aching body wakes up tomorrow morning. And the world will have gone on, and you’ll face the same existential crisis worrying that it’s left you behind that you’ve had every morning as of late. But most importantly? Enlightenment will still be just a decision away. Because nirvana is always there–and so am I. I have all the time in the world, Coral Avalon. You don’t.
Coral watches him go in silence. Soon, he is alone. After a moment’s pause, he lets out a long, weary sigh.
Coral Avalon: That went well…
Then he continues onward into the arena as we cut to…