Private: Solomon Richards
There was a part of me that knew that it would begin this way. I couldn’t have possibly believed that after so long away, I would have just walked back into the ring, in front of an unknown crowd, and come out with a win. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to slam my fist into the wall and damn Rezin for using such cheap tactics to move forward in the tournament.
To be honest, I would have done that ten years ago. I wouldn’t have thought twice about blaming my loss on anything other than my lack of skills. The fact of the matter is, I am a veteran and I should have seen it coming. I should have prepared; countered. But all I could do was stare up at the lights.
It had been such a long wait, watching everyone fight and advance for the top prize in this resurgent PRIME. But I had to do it. I had to endure. This was my penance for being too slow. Too weak. Then it came.
I was in my hotel room when there was a slight rap at the door. Just two, sharp knocks before there was a note slid underneath the doorway. I leaned down to pick it up and opened it without moving from the hallway. It was the booking sheet. This week I would be facing three other competitors in a fatal four-way match. It was another tournament style match. I chuckled softly to myself for a moment as I poured a glass of water into an MGM branded mug I had placed near the vanity mirror in my hotel room’s bathroom.
It was a losers bracket.
There wasn’t going to be a lot of difficulty trying to figure out just what we all had in common this week. We tried, and we failed. We would not be representing PRIME as the top superstars in the company. We had all lost our opportunities to be a part of that. Now we fought to find our place on the undercard. Three of us would struggle to even find that after this week. One would move towards Culture Shock and towards the Five Star Championship. I wanted it to be me. But after round 1?
Hard to say.
I finished my glass of water and sat the paper on the nightstand next to my bed. I didn’t have long to prepare. Three opponents means triple the chance that I could be caught flat-footed. After the embarrassment that I had suffered at ReVival 1, I was not going to go through that again. This week would be different.
~ ~ ~
So many things I could say.
I could come out here and preach about how this coming week my experience will shine through; and I will prove to be a solid veteran, standing in the better years of my career. I could explain to all of you that I am a man on a mission; and that I will let nothing stand in the way of me finding my place inside of the halls of PRIME. I could explain away my loss to Rezin as a simple miscalculation that led to my early exit.
None of those things would be too far from the truth.
I could sell some form of an “Eye of The Tiger” montage about how hard I’m training to beat each and every one of you on my way to Culture Shock. Wouldn’t that be something that no one has ever seen before? How novel. A man bellowing from the rooftops about how he was dealt a bad hand. But, he will prevail and nothing will stand in the way of him getting exactly what he deserves!
But, what do I deserve?
Have I proven anything to anyone in this company? Have I shown anything to the fans of PRIME? Have I given them any reason to buy my T-Shirts or to want my autograph on their foreheads?
I don’t think so.
I lost to Rezin. That’s on me. He did exactly what he said he was going to do. He telegraphed it a week before. He told me exactly who he was and what he was all about. He was going to beat me, rules be damned. I was Goliath, and he was David. It was only natural that David would use any advantage that he had at his disposal to take me to my knees. I should have seen it coming. I should have been able to account for his strategy. But I didn’t.
But, then again, neither did any of you, right?
For one reason or another, we all found ourselves on the losing end of a match in the tournament to crown the first Universal Champion. Now we stand together, face to face. On one side is the very edge of oblivion. The end of the line. On the other side is another opportunity, a way to stake a claim on this newly minted version of PRIME Wrestling.
I want to be the type of person that comes out here and delves deep into the character of each and every one of my opponents. I want to know just what makes you tick, just what goes on inside of your heads. There is a fire inside of me that wants to take every personal weakness that you have and feed it to the flame, letting it engulf me in a firestorm of unmitigated rage. That part of me wants to study you all intently, know every weakness, every angle that I can take to attack you.
He taught that to me…The words and actions of Jacob Mephisto will forever poison the back of my brain. I saw how he managed to twist the very core of me against myself. He made me doubt what it meant to be… me. He made me hate myself, doubt my ability, even my own sanity. He took the last few embers of light that I had within me and he snuffed them out. Or so he thought. While I watched him rage against the death of his time in the Almasy Invitational, I could feel the furnace being stoked once again. I could feel the rage burning within me. I know that I am capable of doing what he does. I know I have that monster deep within me that can take the bright lights of those around me and dim them to the point of submission. He does that better than anyone I know, yet he still found himself in the same position that I am in. He still found himself scraping viciously for a place to be. So why would I stoop to his level?
Instead, I’ll spend the week ahead of me looking inward. I’ll find the parts of me that are weak, and pound the dull ends into a razor thin edge, ready to go into war. I know what I face at ReVival 4 is a challenge. I saw all of your matches; and I’m certain I’ll see them many more times in the days that come. I’ll focus on how you move in the ring, what you are capable of, and what I can attempt to do to overcome that. I know that my style of wrestling automatically leaves me at a disadvantage when it comes to a match with multiple competitors. The notion that I will be able to subdue all three of you at once in order to get another of you to submit is silly at best; and dangerous to my chances of winning at worst.
At this stage of my life, I don’t want this. I don’t want to be fighting to prove my value to a company week in and week out. I should be in the position where I am known and respected. Had I been able to stick it out through the failures and the losses, I very well could have been at that point in my life, but I just…couldn’t. I couldn’t see past the wins and losses and I couldn’t reconcile the fact that not every match will go my way. It’s altogether possible that this could very well be my last opportunity to show that I am worth it; and that I have something to offer this business.
So I don’t want it.
I need it.
This is the point in the show where all of our desperation begins to emerge. Where we all begin to feel that burning desire deep within us to find our place in this world. I’ve been searching for that for so very long. I’ve traveled from one destination to the next, an empty husk waiting to be filled with the light of success and life. Now thanks to this, the Five Star Championship, PRIME, and Culture Shock, I’ve found a reason to shine again. I’ve found my place. I’ll be damned if I let Ria Nightshade, Alex Redding, or Cecelia Ryan take that from me.
~ ~ ~
I decided to take a walk.
There were so many things on my mind that night. Who was I going to be? What did being in PRIME mean to me? What was I going to do if there was no place for me in the Five Star Championship division? Another loss, and there was a good chance that management would start to lose faith in me. So I took to the streets. The lights of the Vegas Strip were blinding at night.
The sinners were out in full force. Some of them shuffled out of the casinos, intoxicated to the point of staggering. Some of them made their way to makeshift chapels to “cement” their brand new loves made over the fumes of tequila shooters. Everyone seemed so happy. Most of them probably had no idea what they were doing in the morning. Long after the haze of their inebriations died down, they would have to trudge back into their normal lives, find another way to force some purpose into their lives. But today, none of that mattered.
They were either riding highs from an unexpected windfall, or commiserating with friends and colleagues at their expected losses. Las Vegas was a special place. I felt it the last time I was here, and the hands of time had not begun to add that patina over the shine that was the City of Sin. It was still just as bright and polished as it ever had been. Everyone was welcome here. Everyone had a place, and everyone fit in. At the same time, no one here actually belonged here. They were merely passing through. A momentary stop on the way back to their real lives, wherever that may be.
That’s the way it had always been for me, though. I was just a strange face in a strange land. I made my way further down the strip. After about four blocks I found myself at a four way stop. On the opposite side of the road there stood a man. He was wearing a pair of black slacks, and a short sleeved white button up shirt, with a black tie. I knew this man. Not personally, but I’ve met him many times before. I remember the days as a child that my father forced me to be this man. In his right hand he held aloft a small, black leather bound book. His shouts were unintelligible as the taxi cabs rushed by and people lowered their heads out of his eye line as they walked past him. It didn;t matter to me much what his message was. I could probably guess, that just by the fact that he was standing on a street corner screaming.
This man knew his place in the world.
He may be lost. He may be misguided. With certainty, this man knew what he wanted from life, and he had found a way to make himself happy. In a way I envied him. That life was long behind me. The days of preaching the word of God had passed me by. At this point, it was hard to say how strong my faith even was. I was called here. I was called to do something better. To be a light in the darkness of a world full of sin. At least that’s the way I used to see it. Then I actually got here. The vast majority of people that I had come into contact with in this business were good people. It wasn;t at all the world of unchecked debauchery that I was led to believe it was.
Even if it was? What kind of good had I been up to this point? So far all I had managed to do was be an example of what it looks like when you’ve given up. Just one more dullard who had all of the potential in the world, but squandered it. I retreated into the black. Faded into nothing. But here was this man. People scoffed at him, cars kicked up puddle water on the cuffs of his pants, yet he still stood. Tall, unshaken, unwavering. He preached his gospel for all of the needly, whether they realized they needed him or not. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a pack of Pall Malls, shaking one from the soft pack and pressing it between my lips. I considered walking past the man. I considered bowing my head like everyone else, pretending that I couldn’t hear the word.
But that’s what I’ve been doing all of this time, isn’t it?
I wouldn’t ignore the path any longer. I walked across the street, directly towards the street corner preacher. He seemed taken aback when I reached out to shake his hand. It was a small step. I didn’t change that man’s life, but I definitely showed myself that I still have a shred of empathy left in my soul. As I walked away, I could hear him. His cadence was barely even interrupted. I started to make my way further up the road.
I didn’t know where I was going, but for the first time in a long time, I felt like I had direction.
~ ~ ~
There will always be a part of me that wants to rest on the laurels of simply being bigger than the rest of my competitors. In this match I am facing three people that I have a significant size advantage over. When I was a kid, fights rarely got past the point of them actually standing face to chest with me. That was all it took. There was no weight class in the High School Wrestling Association for “Giant.” That kind of thing followed me well into my adulthood.
There were more than a few matches where I could simply throw my opponent around for a while and wait until they were just too tired to keep getting up. But then the skill levels started to catch up with me. I couldn’t rely on my size anymore.
I found myself at a crossroad. I could either find a way to get away from simply being an ox, and try to find a way to make a statement in the ring. I found it. I found the way to purify the evil that stood across me in the ring was not with brute force. I had to stretch it. I had to wring the devil out of them with my own two hands. And I started to win. I started to turn heads, and I started to climb up the card.
When I found myself back in the ring, It was too easy to fall back into old habits. It was too easy to throw my weight around in the ring, and try to win my way through the tournament by punching my way through it. It didn’t take too long for me to realize that this place wasn’t called PRIME for nothing. This place had the best that this business has to offer, and I will do everything that I need to do to make sure that when people think of PRIME, they remember that Solomon is here, fighting the fights so that you dont have to.
So I will stand in the center of the ring. I will wrench the demons from your bodies, and cleanse you. The fears from previous losses, the anxieties from future responsibilities? Lay them at my feet, and I will pick them up and thrust them on my shoulders like a mighty yoke relieving you of your burdens. At ReVival 4 I will begin my journey towards being the Five Star Champion. When those of you who fell to me look forward, and you see me with that championship snapped around my waist, I want you to smile. I want you to know that I am more than capable of taking your hatred, your insecurities, the very burning evil within your soul, and make it into something more beautiful than either of us could have ever dreamed.
I have found my place in this world. I have found my place in PRIME. I am here to fight the battles that others are unable to fight. I am here to be a light in the darkness, leading the way from the front lines so that others can follow behind me, finding their own places in this world. I will be a beacon of hope for all of those languishing in the darkness.
Cecelia, Ria, Redding? Bring everything you have to the altar that is the ring at the MGM Grand. I will be there, ready to take all of it onto myself. For I am mighty, I am Strong. I…am Solomon Richards, and I will be your Five Star Champion.
~ ~ ~