I saw the image of a ghost this week.
Now, I know there’s a few of you that have been hooked on the continuing adventures of your good pal, Cecilworth Farthington, so I’m guessing at this point, you’re already rolling your eyes, complaining to whatever glowing screen that you choose to be beholden to that I’m going to start rambling on about THE REAL Max Kael. I don’t blame you, since he got here, I’ve thought of little else.
I’m supposed to be the mentor to the most talented gatherings of athletes that PRIME may have ever had walk through their shiny blue doors. Champions, all of them, Hanlon even reaching PRIME’s pinnacle multiple times before he’s even reached the peak years of his career. Joe, Sid, FLAMBERGE, Hanlon… they are the future and it should be the most meaningful moment of my career that they want to be with me, learn from me, support me… I owe them the best guidance, the wisest insight. I should be a Shaman of Slams for each and every one of them and yet for the past couple of months, I feel like I’ve just been keeping my own head above water. I’ve been in survival mode, threatened by the best of PRIME and all I could focus on was getting through each of those matches.
I walked into PRIME’s house and survived almost the entire roster at Culture Shock. I eliminated more people from that contest than anyone else, including our current strongman sideshow Universal Champion. I earned a shot at PRIME’s purest title for my efforts at Culture Shock, and then I beat a god damn Hall of Fame level wrestling to get my grubby paws on that very title.
Once champion, I avenged the man who rejected Glue in my defeat of Nate Colton.
I pinned Jared Sykes in tag team action, something that I think the entire PRIME roster thought was impossible.
I should be whispered as a threat in the darkest corners of the locker rooms and brightest squares of your sidechat of choice.
People should have signs that say “Cecilworth Farthington Is A Threat”
They used to say it about Phil.
Yet I have none of that. People know I’m good, but they reckon they’re better. They all do. There’s no legend to Farthington, no fear. I wish I could be outraged by this, but I know the truth. The ghost I was looking at reminded me.
PRIME is full of sharks and I don’t think it’s a secret to my talented compatriots that I’ve been slowly bleeding out for a long time. I know that they’ve started sniffing the blood because over the past few weeks, I’ve seen them start to circle before me. I was I could claim that the sharks only came from the wider rosters but I know that my inner circle has also had a snifter of iron go right up their nostrils. I don’t look like the killer I once was, I look distracted, I go into hiding, I make vague promises. I’m just hoping to make it through each show with my dignity intact.
I don’t blame them. I respect them. They see that opportunity awaits them and that through pure statistics alone, someone will be able to catch me at my most distracted.
All because Max Kael arrived.
So I get why you’d think the ghost I’d be referring to would be Max. It’s logical, it has been the starting pistol for the downfall of the Farthington brain.
Yet, this time, my eye was drawn to something quite different, I saw the ghost of myself staring back at me in a very prominent location this week. A simple little video went up on the PRIME website and it allowed the entire world to see a Cecilworth Farthington who had not yet lived the past four years.
At first, as I saw a younger Cecilworth stand with Max Kael at an ATM, I felt wrapped in the warm embrace of nostalgia. A small smile on my face the entire time, laughing at my own stupid antics.
What I should have done was watch it once, feel the warmth of the past wash over me and then get on with my day.
That’s the smart call, the call of a man who certainly wants to advance in the Almasy, and certainly doesn’t want to present Brandon Youngblood with a single opportunity to get his mountain man hands on a belt that I know holds a very precious place in his heart.
It’s also the call of a man who very much knows that the old fuck he’s currently in a power struggle with managed to be one of the few on the PRIME roster that managed to add a notch to Brandon Youngblood loss column and that a loss against Youngblood is basically game, set and match in the war of attrition over the direction of Glue.
Yes, the smart call.
Farthingtons are famous for them.
Typically, when you win a massive match that has the eyeballs of the entire company upon you, it’s a cause for celebration. Crack out the champagne, wank off the bottle top and enjoy the fizzy foam that burst forth from the bulbous vessel. When you stand in the ring with The Anglo Luchador, you never quite know what kind of man you’re going to get. In a lot of ways, Luchador still seems to be seeking his own identity and while that should have created weakness for him, when he stood across the ring from the Five Star Champion, TAL actually proved the contrary true – if you leverage uncertainty, you leverage unpredictability.
To overcome such a challenge, to safely protect your Five Star Championship from an opponent who could have certainty ripped it from your clutches, to advance with your Gluey Brethern in the Almasy Tournament, to see Hanlon take your warnings seriously and manage to find a way past Max…
Why was it not breathe easy time, baybee?
As he heard the bell signal for the end of the match, as he started to loosen his grip around The Anglo Luchador, Farthington looked up at the ceiling of The Colonel’s Delicious YUM! Factory and sighed. As the last match of the night, there was no mystery of who his opponent would be next time around, hell was waiting around the corner for Farthington if he could find a sneaky slippery opening against The Luchador.
And he did. Just like The Founder had taught, Farthington hoisted TAL high, choking the life out of him with The Tarp.
When he wrapped his surprisingly tight wirey arms around the neck of TAL, he closed his eyes and awaited the release and relief. Farthington wanted to be free of the weights of the past and he was so certain that defeating The Anglo Luchador would allow him to breathe a little deeper, smell more flowers, hear more bird songs…
Wrestlers are liars, wrestlers are promoters. Even to themselves. So as his hand went up in the sky, Cecilworth could not enjoy what had just happened because he now knew what awaited, and it was in that moment he knew he’d told himself another white lie. Even as TAL was fading in his arms, the image of Brandon Youngblood sat prominently in the mind of Farthington.
Only one man on the current roster could make the claim that he stood in the ring against Farthington without fading to black. Only one man on the PRIME roster was the wedge that Phil Atken could use to beat Farthington him.
Youngblood was always inevitable. It was just so soon. Just after Farthington used his entire heart and soul to defeat TAL, a man who may very well have represented the heart of the PRIME Revival, he had to dig deep to find the energy to defeat the man who was DEFINITELY PRIME’s soul.
Still, the march of the Death Bracket waits for no man, no time to enjoy victories of the past when you have battles in the future.
This one though? This fight on Friday night?
Cecilworth Farthington vs. Brandon Youngblood.
A victory against Brandon Youngblood brought Phil Atken to his heart’s wildest desire. Atken managed to reclaim his name in the wrestling industry, no longer a joke.
It also brought the end of his very career.
The Study at Farthington Manor had become the hub of Glue Enterprises over the past few months, with the former PRIME Universal Champion, Phil Atken, finding it easier having a stable base of operations, what with the whole “Cancer Jiles and Julian Bathory confining Atken to a wheelchair for the rest of his life” deal. Turns out losing functional legs really cuts back on your desire to be a jetsetting businessman sort. Who knew?
It’s in this very study in which we find our Five Star Friend Cecilworth Farthington sitting on a large wooden dining chair that could be confused as a throne from a distance. Slouched down on the leather seat of the chair, Farthington is pouting in the direction of the large television that sits indented neatly above the roaring fireplace. Farthington had previously said it’s not a fire hazard because he totally sprayed it with “not fire” material.
As Farthington continues to meekly sigh at the PRIME website in a range of sixty glorious inches, his introspection time is cut short by an angry corse voice yelling “YOU’RE STILL NOT WATCHING THAT SHITE, ARE YA?”
Farthington doesn’t even bother looking behind him to see who enters the room, he already knows that Phil Atken is getting wheeled in. Farthington chuckles at his younger self cowering before the ATM and as he leans up a bit in his chair, he sees that his prediction was indeed correct. Atken rolls in with the aid of the General Manager of Glue, Dirk Dickwood. The cutting words coming from Dickwood, not Atken, was also of little surprise to Farthington. Atken wasn’t ranting as much these days, much more into his angry glares. He could have been rented out as a scarecrow if there wasn’t a fear he scowl was so powerful it’d destroy the crops too.
Farthington decides to not drink from this particular firehouse, pausing the video and turning to see the two guests that now join him in the study. He sees that Atken is clutching a stack of binders that sit neatly in his lap. He hands one off to Dickwood, who tosses it in the general direction of Farthington.
The binder flies right into Farthington’s stomach, as Farthington butterfingers his way through holding on to it a few times, finally getting a fire grip after the fifth attempt. Atken just sneers and utters “with reactions like that, you’re already a dead man” with complete contempt for his former charge.
Farthington writhes around in his seat, pulling his body up tight, clearly ready to defend himself but before he can utter a syllable, Atken is already following up on his remark.
“You barely survived The Anglo Luchador, that man had your number in ways that I couldn’t even predict, you slipped into a victory on that show. The second that bell rang you should have been out of the fucking ring and into a training gym. Yet, instead of getting ready for the biggest match of your shitting career, you’re having a little Sad Cecilworth time in the study! Oh, I’m sorry, has five years in the business killed all the joy you once had? Oh no, poor widdle baby has grown up and learned that life is fucking garbage.”
Atken was really feeling himself at this moment, certainly frustration with Cecilworth was a big factor in ripping him down, but frustration at his own position in life seemed to be a much larger motivational factor. Brandon Youngblood was his final ever opponent and a match like this was inevitably going to pick at that wound. As the rant continues, right in the face of Farthington, he doesn’t possess his normal self-assured smirk, his face more akin to a seven year old who was just caught with their hand in the cookie jar before dinner.
“This is Brandon fucking Youngblood, Cecilworth. This is the man I had to hold my FLAMBERGE card for. This is the man I had to use EVERYTHING on. This is the man I had to end my career to defeat. I won that match but that man, he won the war. I was a fucking Walking Dead zombie, even with the Universal Championship around my waist.”
A new look had entered Atken’s eyes. Normally one of suppressed rage, there was a surprising amount of water that was peaking up to say hello at the bottom of Atken’s lids. So much so in fact that it was flowing over like the world’s most disappointing waterfall… those eyes really should have stuck to the rivers and the lakes that they’re used to.
“This is Brandon fucking Youngblood. He’s the very reason that this era of Glue has been on such shaky ground since day 1! Capturing the 5 Star and Intense Championships over two nights of shows should have made our group immediate legends to be feared, spoken in hushed tones of reverence, a match booked against any of The Glueminati should have been seen as a death sentence. Yet, because Youngblood saw right through our weakest link, Tropical Turmoil was less a celebration of a sticky era, more two months of damage control.”
On a regular day, this amount of intense ranting directly into his face, with the spittle to join it, that would have been enough for Farthington’s brain to have gone into lockdown mode and replaced everything Phil was saying with Charlie Brown Teacher mouth sounds, but his subconscious was forcing him to hear this whole thing. Deep down, he knew that no matter how hard he was wrestling in the ring to avoid this sort of dressing down, he still deserved it.
“You’re right, Phil. You’re right”, the defeated tone of Farthington’s voice even caught Atken and Dickwood by surprise. “I look at the guy on the screen there, still trading on his father’s name, still without a clue on how the world works, it’s almost like an alien visiting the planet and trying to make sense of the world they find themselves in. That’s not what bothers me though, it’s just…”
Cecilworth leaps out of his chair and gestures towards the figure of Max Kael, leaning against the ATM, clearly eager to scam Farthington out of his precious Farthington family money.
“… it just reminds me that I’ve always followed. Even when I was a golden god, I was still a follower, I awaited instructions, I was not a man who decided direction. I didn’t have the careers of other’s weighing on me. That Cecilworth there, he just had to do what he was told and hoovered up acclaim by doing it. A strong right hand, never his own man. Yet, happy. He didn’t care. He didn’t need to care. He had two best friends, he was a champion, everything went his way. He knew Max was stealing from him, he didn’t care, he appreciated the company”
Farthington’s shoulders slump a little as he puts himself back in the present.
“Now, it’s week after week of people waiting for me to slip up. Now it’s worrying if I’m giving Joe, Sid, FLAMBERGE and Hanlon the right advice. I don’t have to worry about the results of my match, I have to worry about the results of every match…”
Farthington sneers even as his chuckles to himself.
“Fucking Youngblood, that dude has everything he could want. Win or lose, he’s still Brandon Youngblood… I can’t lose this one, Phil… Youngblood is the key to getting this Farthington back…”
Atken and Dickwood both look shocked as they start to unload the binders onto the large oak conference table. The former Universal Champion, Atken, claps his hands together.
“Now the work begins!”
Brandon Youngblood has a cause, he has a purpose. After what he went through at Ultraviolence, it is no wonder that the man is ready to crush, kill and destroy anything, anyone, even things that don’t really exist like flungicrafts. Men like him, with his talent, they get what they’re seeking.
Most of the time.
See, alongside passion, you also need to be at your physical prime. Having purpose and drive, that’s certainly a buff in this grappling world. Something about that extra little taste of adrenaline gives a little bit more snap to the suplex, torque to a stretch, height to a leap. I saw that very clearly when I stood in the ring with The Anglo Luchador. That guy has the talent, he had the passion, he even had the energy and motivation. He was wrestling as if he was imbibing the spirits of the Gods themselves and yet, despite his ticking of every single box that is the making of a wrestling victory, he still went down in the end. All the resilience, all the adrenaline, all the training, all the tapes, the real life motivation, the studying, paying attention to the small details… it gives you that 95% confidence in your victory.
Everyone knows there’s no way to be 100% confident in victory in this industry. Even those at their prime, those who feel like they’ve reached the very peak of their career, they can still get caught by surprise. Three seconds, an elbow pulled in the wrong direction… it happens so quickly… that sad, heartbreaking tumble down the mountain.
For most people, stepping in the ring with Brandon Youngblood, you are praying and hoping that the universal die has been cast in your favour, that this is the night of the 5%. Especially right now. He, more than any other wrestler on this roster has a driving purpose to get his hands on Ivan.
He’s embarrassed by the end of Ultraviolence, I’ve not spoken to him, I don’t know this for sure, but how could he not be. A legend like Brandon Youngblood tossed around like a trainee getting their first big booking and not realising it’s because the rest of the roster refused to fight the local monster.
I wonder how Kostoff is doing these days. Head attached or unattached, do you think?
I suppose a cheaper punster than myself would say that Brandon is currently in the stage of seeing red.
Imagine how many rights you can wrong if you win this match as Youngblood. He can finally, truly claim to have avenged his loss to The Sticky Hands of Fate, he gets a locked down opportunity at the belt that I know is incredibly meaningful to the man’s own legend, and finally, he gets one step closer to that rematch with Ivan that you know he is desperately, desperately seeking.
Right now, Jiles may have the Golden Ticket but I’m feeling in a real Willy Wonka position. Little Brandy Bucket survived the traps of the Bobby Dean factory and now he’s looking to me to be the man to give him everything that he’s ever wanted.
As Wonka said himself, that man lived happily ever after.
Youngblood can get his happy ending in a victory over me. No, not in that way, the Bobby Dean match was on the last show.
There’s a couple of problems for Brandy Bucket though.
One, Willy Wonka is a fucking liar. What, Youngblood, you gonna trust the words of a serial killer of children? Fucking sicko, aren’t ya?
Two, Brandy Bucket’s arm is fuuuuuuuucked.
That’s the funny thing about being a wrestler, I think we expect that any time we’re on a hot streak that it’ll take an entire barrage from an army to bring us to an end. We look to every enemy on our list and come ready to bring the flamethrower.
Then some dipshit catches us with a roll-up.
On Friday night, I am going to stand in the ring, across from you Mr. Youngblood, then a referee is going to ring the bell and I’m going to kick you right in the arm. Then I’m going to punch that same arm. Then I’m going just kinda windmill maul at it for a few minutes, until you finally decide that actually, you’ve had enough and would like to go home.
Given your current levels of rage and moral indignation, I’m going to guess that the bravado will take you through at least 10 minutes of arm assassination until you decide that you value a future in this industry.
Now, I suppose the question for you, Mr. Bucket, am I giving you a bit of the zigzag, a bit of the razzledazzle. Maybe fucking up your arm real bad isn’t my strategy. Wonka never really needed that cane after all.
On Friday, the factory opens.
A world of extravagant pain.
Beware the everlasting armbar.