Well, I don’t think anyone’s fantasy bracket had this final circled.
The mumbling and the grumbling of the dreamers has reached a fever pitch over the last few days. All these excited Almasy Finals danced around their heads – stories of love, stories of revenge, stories to be finished, stories to begin. To them, they don’t quite know what to make of Jonathan Christopher Hall vs. Cecilworth Farthington in the main event of the Superdome, it doesn’t feel like one of the matches they desire.
In their shoes, it makes sense. It’s a fresh match, certainly, fresh matches do create a certain air of interest. It’s more than a clash of styles, it’s a clash of the very essence of a person.
That’s not enough for a hook though, is it? Not when they could have had matches like Coral Avalon vs. Cancer Jiles or Jared Sykes vs. Hayes Hanlon. Matches with history, matches with bite. Hell, matches where it’s clear who to cheer for. Our simple fans do enjoy having a corner to back, makes them feel part of the show, doesn’t it JohnJohn? We know what the Superdome is clamouring for.
They want stories.
Now, I gotta admit, JCH, he’s trying, he’s out there hustling, trying to convince people that he’s on a journey. A Hallmark journey at that. That’s something, that’s a tasty crumb (no, not that kind). After his humiliating start to a career in PRIME, bounced out in Round 1 of last year’s Almasy by the dominant force that is Brandon Youngblood, he’s here, a year and a half later, and he finds himself in the finals of the very tournament that humbled him back then.
A story of resilience, a story of overcoming adversity, a man overcoming past errors, it’s meaty enough, the kind of thing you’d purchase a ticket at the cinema for if you slapped an A24 label on the poster.
I think there’s a better tale to tell here though. A real filet mignon.
Johnny, you don’t have to try too hard for this one. I’m sure you know the same thing that I do.
We’re pretty close to being star crossed lovers, are we not? A universe that has fought to keep us back for the entire time we’ve been consuming the same spaces, a universe that made sure that we did not exchange a word with each other, never mind a grapple.
Before your dearest gets too hot and bothered, I’m not trying to wedge in, the kind of love I seek doesn’t form a triangular shape. I’m simply saying that this match was always meant to be. We had to scrape and claw our way through some of the toughest matches in our lives, and now here we are, ready for battle, to fulfil our roles.
Do you understand why yet, Jonathan? Is dear Vickie starting to piece together the parts? She should be, she’s to thank for this. She’s to thank for you falling at the final hurdle. She is the one who has created the situation for you to take a slapstick pratfall in the middle of the biggest moment of your career.
How much have you heard of Vickie’s father, Mr. Hall? Of his past? Of his actions? Have you ever heard the tale of the mass exodus of Action!? Perhaps not, it’s not a story The Halls would tell you.
Twenty years ago, your precious pretty pink pal’s father, in a moment of pure desperation rushed to stem the tide of the tsunami of shit heading in his direction. His company was close to death and his last resort was to hire hungry new talent to fill the gap.
Hungry new talent like Phil Atken, my mentor.
One of Reed Young’s first actions in the whirlwind of chaos he found himself in was to hand Phil Atken his first World Championship. A wrestler basically plucked of obscurity and handed what was still a very prestigious prize at the time. It didn’t work, desperate decisions by the panicked never do. Soon, Action! was closed and Atken was blamed.
That started 20 years of resentment, 20 years of pain, 20 years of suffering. Yes, people can hold on to grudges for 20 years. Ask anyone who was brave enough to step in a PRIME ring with my dear leader, I think all of them would agree that they felt even second of those twenty years. Spite, such a powerful force.
If I was you, Reed Young would be off the Christmas card list. At a minimum, I’d be charging him back for the arm surgery you’re about to take.
See, I say it all the time and yet people never seem to listen.
Without Reed Young, there is no Phil Atken, certainly not as we now know him,
Without Phil Atken, there is no Cecilworth Farthington, certainly not as the wrestler you know now.
And finally, without Cecilworth Farthington, John Christopher Hall gets to finish his stor-
For the past few weeks, PRIME’s Five Star Champion had made the very sensible decision not to return to his home, Farthington Manor, rightfully assuming that there were a few angry people waiting to have words. Turns out if you shove a man out of his wheelchair and then stab a fork into his skull, leaving him to bleed out until someone finds him, the parties involved aren’t particularly cheery about such things.
Farthington had barely touched his phone over the past month, unusual for a man who had insisted they just snap the shot as is for his PRIME publicity photo while he was mid-text. Actually, it probably explains why they managed to get an updated image where he actually looked at the camera.
Sure, he kept it charged, but the endless buzzing had started to annoy him. Any time he casually glanced at the phone, another ten missed calls from Dirk Dickwood were present. His voicemail and missed call notifications had reached the point where they gave up tracking and just jammed “99+” on the lil circle.
Cecilworth Farthington is a lot of things, and many of the names you call him are probably fitting, but he is not an unwise man. Learning from the folly of others had made him more patient, less impulsive over the years, so when he decided to finally answer a call from Dirk, it was clear he had a reason to do so.
As Farthington slid the button to answer the call, the phone hadn’t even reached his ears before the shrill screaming of Glue’s senior manager pierced through. “OH, NOW YOU WANT TO TALK, YOU LITTLE SHITEHAWK, IF I KNEW WHERE YOU WERE RIGHT NOW I’D GIVE YOU A GLASGOW KISS AND A GLASGOW CUDDLE. THE SECOND ONE I MADE UP. IT’S WHERE I STAB YOU…”
Holding the receiver a good distance from his ear, Farthington didn’t seem all that bothered about the hot headed rankings of one of his longest term friends, simply cutting him off with a “You done?”. A flabbergasted Dickwood on the other end rumbles and stumbles over his words for a few brief seconds until his brain catches up with the question he was asked. “OF COURSE I’M NOT DONE, I’M JUST GETTING STARTED. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH BLOOD THE MAN LOST…”
“Shhh shhh shhh, details that don’t matter. Yes, yes, I tossed Phil out his chair and jammed a fork in him, very sad, very tragic. How could I do such a thing to my adopted family, etcetera etcetera. Can we speed this whole thing up?”. There was a sneer to Farthington’s tone rarely seen in conversations with Dirk. “It was just theatrics, Dirk. A metaphor for my dominance over PRIME. I mean being willing to conquer the evil mentor who had been emotionally manipulating you for months? That gets the chins wagging!”.
The rage in Dirk’s voice was replaced with confusion, “you did this to glorify your wrestling career?”
Cecilworth chuckled at Dirk’s question, as if the answer was so obvious, it was absurd to even ask the question in the first place. “I did it for my love, Dirk.”
Dirk stammers to find the words, as he hears a speaker announcement in the background. He hears the rustling of movement on the Farthington phone. “Oh, it’s boarding, sorry Dirk, I gotta go…”
“Where are you go—” before Dirk’s next question finishes, Cecilworth has already slammed the button to end the call. He looks up at his gate, clutching a boarding pass in his hands. He straightens himself up, and feels a vibration in his hands again. This time there’s no courtesy picking up the call, just the asshole button.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Rome.”
So far in my PRIME time, I’ve barely had any interactions with the Love Convoy, which is remarkable considering the entire squad’s expertise in getting right in the middle of any business going.
Now, I could make the easy excuse, I could say that the shrill voice and rancid social media personality of my opponent’s betrothed was what scared me away. I could even glibly pretend that I had the opinion their hot tub should’ve been shut down by health inspectors. Those are pretty safe comments about the tandem. To join in the cliché, that would make me fit in with the rest of the boys, that would sell the message that I’m normal, just one of the banter brigade rolling our eyes at ooey, gooey abusive love.
There’s nothing normal about me, I think that much I’ve made obvious to the PRIME audience by now.
No, I’m going to be honest, perhaps more honest than I’ve ever been in my career. I avoided JCH, Vicks and their fun DJ pal because it served to remind me of all the whispers that have plagued me for my entire career.
“Oh, Cecilworth, he’s sexless.”
“Oh, Cecilworth, he’s asexual.”
Every week I stand in the backstage area and see a parade of romantic partners, wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends and everything in between depending on the truth of the person and their journey. I see them all look at me as if I have done something wrong in my life, that I must be hollow and empty to lack that connection. By never finding someone to love me back, I have failed as a human. I am doing the whole “living” thing wrong. It’s not just PRIME, it’s plagued me my entire career. People love to speculate about my personal life. Hell, I’ve heard certain corners of the internet love shipping me and Hank.
The pity in the eyes of everyone else, the shock I don’t have somewhere to go for Thanksgiving. It could ruin the confidence of another man, it could very well have shattered me. Thankfully, I know who I am.
That doesn’t mean I’m not jealous, Johnny. Just not for the reasons that your Convoy assumes.
Once the inevitable happens and you and Vickie end your special journey on the hit new show “Hallmark Divorce Court”, people will empathise with you. Your struggles and flaws, they understand them. What you’ve gone through with Vickie, it falls within the parameters of normal society. You get their pity because they can feel what you feel, they understand your experience.
“A man convinced he had found that special person to fill the hole in his soul”, they’ll say, “of course he was led astray by his villainous and abusive partner.”
Now, not everyone will forgive. There’s a couple of berries that I’d reckon will not be helping to break down those barriers on the day that the foretold and foresaw happens. They still understand the “why”, even if they do not forgive it.
For better or worse, for richer or poorer, people get you. No one is sitting puzzled about who JCH is and why he is that way. Everyone gets love, they may not approve, god I don’t think I could find anyone right now who does right now, beyond DJ Tristy and Wrestler X but they still know why it is happening. They may wish you made healthier life choices, they may hope you one day find an escape, they wish that you find a lover who truly appreciates you for you. They get it.
That’s why I’m jealous, Mr. Hall. I’m the other side of the coin. I might as well be The Mighty Thrumblelord from the Planet Gargaxua for as much sense as my life choices make to our roster brethren and their extended families. Ask their opinions and I’m certain you’d get a very similar answer – I am an alien, a scientific experiment gone wrong.
I don’t fit in the Earthian box, the behaviours accepted as within the normal range of tolerance for society. So instead I become an aberration. I become something to fear, something to track. I’m treated with as much dignity as a Bigfoot.
I’m jealous that you are a wreck of a human who is seconds away from a warm embrace.
For I am something wrong, a scientific study, best looked at from afar.
In what may be considered an unexpected scene to some of the PRIME viewing audience, considering he barely travels anywhere apart from Farthington Manor and the PRIME show locations, we instead find our intrepid hero Cecilworth Farthington sitting down in the stands at the Colosseum in Rome. The Five Star Championship sits to his side, proudly glinting off the winter sun that’s come out to say hello in a picturesque afternoon. “From the outset, let’s make it clear, I’m not here for a cheap Colossus/Colosseum pun. This place runs much deeper for me.”
Cecilworth briefly chuckles to himself, a wry smile starts to creep upon his face.
“I know, I should be bunkered down, I should be getting ready for the Halls… I can spot a handicap match when I see one. Yet, instead of punching a bag or rolling on a mat like I normally would, I felt drawn to this place. Every night as I’ve closed my eyes after hearing Coral Avalon’s hand hit the mat, this place has been there, like a beacon signalling for me to return. The universe has opened itself to me and it has told me at this exact moment in time, at the precipice of legacy, I should be here.”
Cecilworth dusts himself down as he asks the camera man to come in a little closer, pointing to the walkway that sits just to his left. “This is the exact spot I came to three years ago, that very stairway was the final resting place for my father’s ashes… not because he had any affinity for the place, he was very suspicious of Italians after that whole World War business.”
Cecilworth’s tone is clinical, like a documentary film-maker rather than a man burdened with the grief of a lost loved one. “I dropped the ashes here because it was convenient, and partially accidental. I had a match down there.” Cecilworth points down to the centre of the massive venue. “So it just all kinda happened in a Mr. Bean-esque comedic cavalcade. A poor member of staff even pissed on ashes, but that’s about all that man deserved in life, so I wasn’t exactly going to be hopping mad over it in his death.”
Cecilworth bends down on the stairway, inspecting it closely, looking for signs of his past actions but there is nothing to see. Years of rain have likely spread every part of the remains of Lord Farthington into the famed Roman sewage system. Cecilworth terror of a father is much more likely to be up the noses of the scrunched up faces of tourists than having any part of him remain in the historic location.
“Ah, so it’s not to try and make peace with a monster. If not to draw parallels with my abusive former business partner… why are we here?”
Farthington looks down from his high vantage point, he pictures himself standing in the centre of the ring, the Colosseum crowd cheering him on, not because he was a hero, but because he was just very good at what he did.
“Last time I was here, I made an incredibly brave declaration, I give myself a very arrogant nickname. My opponent that night had just survived a brutal tournament, he’d beat some of the very best in the business… momentum and the winds of change to his back, he felt he had a story to finish. No one expected him to be the man standing across from me, not when there were so many big names in his way. Sound familiar, Mr. Hall?”
Cecilworth pauses for a second, as if he’s actually expecting a response from across the world.
“People see their own stories, they are convinced that they are owed a happy ending. If all the stars have aligned to bring them to a historic moment in their lives, surely that means that the universe owes them the victory…”
Cecilworth internal smugness has oozed out into a fully self satisfied chuckle. “The universe, I speak to it and it wants you to know that it doesn’t owe you shit, Johnny Boy, just like it didn’t owe anything to the man who was left with no option but to tap out in front of a braying Italian mob three years ago.”
It’s not just the smile that’s become plastered on Farthington’s face, it’s the body posture that has started to shift. No longer hunched and demure, hunting for ashes that he’ll never find, Farthington has now straightened up, memories of the past allowing him to feel a sense of pride, his Five Star Championship is now hugged in a warm embrace.
“Did you hear Vince Howard last week, Mr. Hall? Did you hear what he called me? Mr. Finish Line. I warned Coral, I warned him that I had to dig deep, that I was going to have to become the man I once was if I was to conquer the Almasy Mountain. If I was to be the final gladiator standing, caked in blood, exhausted but victorious, then a Farthington questioning his place in the world just wouldn’t do the job. Calling myself The Finish Line of Professional Wrestling, that’s not just a slapdash nickname for t-shirts, it’s a promise, a promise that I intend to continue to fulfil”
Farthington slaps his forehead, which is a smaller target for him than some other members of the roster.
“Oh, of course! That’s what brought me here. To remember. To remember my love.”
Love’s a complicated word, very fiddly, incredibly hard to pin down. The lexicon equivalent of the delightful Flubber that sought to destroy Robin Williams.
When most people are asked to picture what love is in their minds, there’s always another living being involved, is there not? Whether it be love of friends, love of family, love of a pet or love of a partner.
Despite the general consensus of me pointing elsewhere, I have to confess, I am in love. I have been for some time. Right now, I am ready to dispel the toxic gossip train that has surrounded me.
Wrestling is my love. She is my passion. She loves me back and treats me better than any human ever would. I have spent every waking moment since my childhood trying to love her back as much as she loves me, and that’s hard Johnny, because she really loves me. She has put gold around my waist, she has put a ring around my finger. We are very committed to one another.
See, for months people have been questioning what The Glueminati is, they didn’t get it, they didn’t understand the purpose. Under Phil Atken, it was very clear, he wanted to find young talent to do his bidding and protect his legacy, ensuring that they help him get to the top of the ladder, isn’t that right FLAMBERGE?
My Glue Boys though? We’re united under one banner, the love of the sport. Joe, Sid and Hanlon, we may love it differently but love is love and our hearts belong to her.
Joe and Sid, they travel to Japan regularly just to up their game. They learn new techniques, new skills… well Joe does… Sid just sorta waits until someone does a powerbomb and then wonders if he’s done that kind before. Normally he has, but sometimes he’s surprised that there’s a sweet new bomb to do.
As for Hanlon, he got heated at me because he’s passionate. He cares. This matters to him. Wrestling is not a platform for media dominance to Hayes Hanlon, he isn’t looking to use wrestling as a launch pad to a mediocre afternoon chat show. It is what he wants to spend his life doing.
Just like me.
Vickie was right, Jonathan, this tournament final is going to be a pivotal moment in the greatest love story ever told.
Just not yours.