Have you ever had that visceral feeling in your gut where you know that you’re furious… fucking furious… but you can’t quite put your finger on why.
That pressure in the gut.
Those tightly clenched fingers.
The pursed lips.
All the outward signs that something just isn’t right, something doesn’t sit well with you and yet if anyone was to approach you and ask what was going on, you wouldn’t be able to put into words. Hell, the fact you couldn’t explain it may just boost the anger levels further.
All you know is that you’re fucking mad and you need to do something about it.
For nights, you stay awake, you stare at the ceiling, trying to put your finger on the “why”. Was it the way that lady at the grocery store looked at you? Is it the damaged package that the postman handed off to you? You go through your index of trivial slights throughout the week and none of them provide a satisfying solution. You’re clawing at ghosts of your memory trying to find the heart of the irritation.
Your subconscious knows, the smug git. The answer may even come to you in a dream but the memory disappears in a puff of smoke when you are hit by the harsh morning daylight.
Our hero, Phil Atken went through a moment just like this shortly after the airing of the first episode of PRIME’s ReVival. The show had been on in the background while he was dining with friends and every so often, he would glance over at the television with middling interest. The show continued on throughout the meal and Atken didn’t pay much mind of it.
Yet that night marked the first where he struggled to sleep.
Larence, if I dare to be so formal.
Why are you here? Why did you decide to step inside of a PRIME wrestling ring? What motivated you to put your legacy on the line way after you had already reached the tippity top of the grappling arts. You’re a former five time World Champion elsewhere, if I’m to understand your biography on the PRIME wrestling website correctly. I mean, normally I’d just take that on good faith, but your bio also states that you “aren’t here to make friends or be right all the time” so I was concerned that maybe it was some form of practical joke.
Then again, maybe you’re just a man who enjoys being wrong. I’m sure that’s a kink and as a businessman similar to yourself, I am also fully open to accepting any kinks in the name of profit.
Really though, you have a legacy that has spanned decades and yet you were still willing to risk your name… your reputation on a gamble. A punt that you could catch lightning in a bottle once more. Wasn’t the first bottle good enough? Not quite to taste for ole L-Tact?
Oh shit, your initials are LT too. How did they even let you in here?
Did the bright blue lights of the PRIME sign bewilder and bedazzle your soul? Did Lindsay Troy’s unquitable hips draw the eye? I’m just trying to get an understanding of you as a man Larry. There’s a long list of talent that sits upon the PRIME roster page and my question is the same for all of them.
Haven’t you had enough?
Larence, you already achieved, you already reached the stratospheric levels within this business. You were a World Champion. Maybe not in PRIME but you certainly know what it feels like to sit at the top of the mountain. The scraping, the clawing, the agony… ruining your body, destroying soul, losing some degree of humanity. It takes a lot to reach the top, it hurts my very essence to imagine what it takes to stay there, nevermind making that climb multiple different times.
You can be a substitute gameshow host.
You can sit in a fancy office with a pretty red tie and pretend that you’re a real big boy who hasn’t just done a whoopsiedoodle downstairs.
Not enough for you though, eh?
It’s never enough for men like you.
Your humble proprietor,
Back in the early 2000s, some people actually knew the name Phil Atken. They didn’t think of him positively of course, that would be the domain of an insane person but there was an amount of awareness around the man. He’d started showing his face in some of the largest wrestling companies of the era… normally when they were on death’s door and half the roster had already exiled the company due to some backstage drama… but he was in those companies nonetheless.
You can really start to delude yourself on your self value and self worth in those moments. You’d think the fact that companies would typically go up in smoke a few weeks after he set foot in their rings would be an indicator of how much he was valued by the industry that he loved but when you’re passionate and hungry, you let all those awful thoughts slip away. There’s always another reason, it’s not that people couldn’t possibly give a shit about your wrestling or what you have to say, it’s because… I dunno… the concessions weren’t well stocked and then the owner’s wife tripped in her high heels and kicked a dog. That’s the reason the company died, not Phil Atken’s dogshit personality.
Delusion can get a man quite far.
As the aughts progressed, just having famous failed companies on your CV was enough to get a look in at many of the best and brightest companies around. Global Championship Wrestling didn’t give a crap about Atken’s complete lack of ability to hold together a cohesive match or character for more than three weeks, he’d been in BIG COMPANIES, that was enough to allow him in their door. New Frontier Wrestling was the same way.
There was an endearing quality to Atken too. What he lacked in natural ability, he made up for in dedication. He’d help set up rings, he’d coach people ahead of their big matches, he’d happily grab on to any media appearance that was available, always singing the praises for whatever company he’d signed on for. He would go out of his way to be a people pleaser, ignoring how often he’d be taken advantage of because he was so sure that if he worked his ass off, the stars, the big names, the legends… someone would take notice and take him under their wing. They’d open the door and let him know how to get to that next level, the level where he could become his own man.
One time he beat Dusk in a match. He thought that mattered.
It didn’t matter.
This time he just murdered him pre-emptively.
Maybe that will matter.
Instead, for all his hard work, for all of his backstage efforts, for trying his best in the ring…
He was mocked.
One time, our dearest Philip started to find just a small little tasty morsel of success, as a treat. He’d been paired up with a young up and coming talent by the name of Teddy Alexander. A natural and a brute that paired well with the shorter, more scrappy Atken. The two started to build up something of a winning record, got a tag team title shot and everything. Atken was incredibly excited, he was going to be standing in the ring with two legends in the industry – High Flyer and Nova, he knew there’d be barbs tossed back and forth between the two teams, he’d been around long enough to know how it goes. What he wasn’t expecting was the absolute vitriol that spewed forth from Nova. What he wasn’t expecting was a complete burial of his career. For years, he’d heard people sing the praises of what a chill guy Nova was, what a great dude, what a good friend he could be and yet, for the crime of perhaps not being the most talented wrestler in the world, Nova rode in and saw fit to shit on everything Atken had been working for his entire career.
In the end, his big tag title match was buried away on some house show in five minutes and was used as a launching pad for another team. He thought he was being rewarded for his efforts, instead they were just looking for a sacrificial lamb.
For most people, that’d be the sign to go, to give up, to step away from the company full of bullying scumbags and asshole office workers.
Not ole Philly A thought. How about we give you a viking for a mother and a midget for a father. Will that help you get over? Oh no, no one will give a single solitary shit about you still but at least they can laugh at you now.
Oh also you’re fired.
Not a single boy in the back gave a hoot. Atken had been working tirelessly backstage, he’d given his full effort to any booking he had, he’d tried to sing the praises of the company from the rooftop and when he was ejected without ceremony, he was greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and a “who’s that?”.
So off to the world of independent wrestling Phil went.
Dirk Dickwood was a very sweaty man. I’d usually describe him as a moist man but it has been brought to my attention that some people find the word “moist” uncomfortable, so I will try to ensure that I do not repeat the word “moist” again. For the past few years, he’d been riding pretty high on the hog as the manager and agent of HOW’s current Commissioner, Hall of Famer and former World Champion, Cecilworth Farthington.
Then came the whole unfortunate incident where he wanted to sabotage Farthington’s chance at the World Championship because he feared that Farthington would drop him if became too successful.
So Farthington dropped him when he became successful. Probably more so due to the whole sabotage thing, mind you.
Yet before Dickwood stood in the corner of a World Champion, he had stood in the corner of Phil Atken, an asshole. Not exactly the same caliber of experience but hey, it was a paying gig and gave Dickwood a foot in the grapple game.
The two had remained… not exactly friends but certainly friendly over the years. Dirk had even brought Cecilworth on Phil’s podcast a few times in Cecilworth’s early HOW career, giving Atken a lil secret listener boost in the process.
Despite their history, Dickwood was still a little bit taken aback by the text he got out of the blue one Thursday evening.
“Oi fucknut, we need to talk.”
Dirk glared at the screen in befuddlement, it was rare to hear from Atken these days. Hell, he’d even heard rumours that he died in a ditch.
Probably because Cecilworth kept telling people that Phil Atken had died in a ditch.
We are now backstage at the MGM Grand. I’m sorry, you’ll just have to deal with the fact we were in the past and now we have moved into the future. It’s just the kind of snappy flash visualisations that we deal with here at The Glue Factory. Culture Shock is still ongoing, the fans in the MGM Grand are watching a shitton of men attempt to roll boulders with a degree of fervor that seems mentally unhinged.
In an eerily quiet locker room sits a man still looking rather fetching in a three piece burgundy suit. He sits atop a stool as he mops his brow a few times with a fantastic corner square that accentuates the whole outfit. This would be the humble proprietor of The Glue Factory, Mr. Philip Martin Atken. Atken looks up towards his Chief of Security, the mute behemoth of a man who goes only by “Hank”. We’re not sure if this is even his genuine first name. Because he won’t tell us.
Because he’s mute.
I thought we already went through this but yet you’re still asking questions.
Atken gives his protector an encouraging “attaboy” pat on the back.
“Wonderful stuff out there Hank. I really liked how Dusk’s head bounced off the mat as if it had just made contact with a partially built trampoline.” Atken gives himself a hearty chuckle to his own remark but he’s that kind of guy. This is why he’s a bad guy. Not the “murdering Dusk” thing, it’s the “having a sensible chuckle at his own comments” thing.
Hank looks down at his boss and gives a small shrug of the shoulders. The quiet moment between colleagues is quickly brought to a halt by a third party staggering into the room, face flush red in rage.
“WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT? WHAT WAS THAT?”
Atken gestures for his puce-faced pal to take a seat by his side but he waves off the stool, pacing up and down the small room that The Glue Factory had been assigned backstage.
“Dirk, it’s just marketing. It gets eyes on us.” Atken tries to reassure his business colleague, and The Glue Factory Chief of Operations, Dirk Dickwood, who has taken to fanning himself with a Culture Shock programme.
“A fucking marketing stunt? HANK ALMOST KILLED THE MAN!”
Atken looks back up at Hank and gives him another encouraging back pat, exclaiming “YEAH HE DID!” as he does so. This does little to quell the red ball of Scottish rage currently creating a stairway in their small room due to the intense amount of pacing he is performing.
“I DIDN’T MEAN THAT AS A GOOD THING!”
The Glue Factory’s proprietor throws up a set of apologetic hands as a twee little grin creeps upon his face.
“I’m sorry Dirk, I should’ve consulted you first.” The ease of which the apology falls out of Atken’s mouth indicates that this is a normal routine to try and settle his business partner. “The excitement got the best of me. I just saw Dusk there… and Hank here… and it kinda made sense, y’know?”
Dickwood shakes his head back and forward, either bewildered or starting to have a stroke, thankfully he starts talking so we know it isn’t the former. “Tonight wasn’t the night, we were supposed to start slow, build it up. Build up the mystique…”
It’s clear Atken’s patience with his buddy runs out as he yells “FUCK THE MYSTIQUE”. Dirk is taken aback for a few moments but gives his partner the space to continue. “That piece of shit Dusk was trying to embarrass a young, popular talent. He was pulling the exact nonsense that we agreed to work to stop. I just made sure that youth won over experience in the end…”
Dickwood uses one hand to rub his temple as he slams his Culture Shock programme off his face a few times, clearly trying to work through his frustrations in a less than healthy manner. He pauses for a second and interjects “…I think the record books might also fucking show that a seven foot tall mute monster had something to do with little Tapioca Pudding’s big Pay Per View payday.”
Atken gives a hearty chuckle, “Dirk, no one does fucking research these days. A month from now, people will be talking about Tapioca Pudding’s legendary victory against PRIME longstay Dusk. Our little injection will float away like a feather in the wind. That’s just how this industry works these days. No one cares about context, they just look up a results spreadsheet and call it a day.”
Dirkwood drops the programme and begins to massage both of his temples, trying his best to find his centre, forgetting he lost that somewhere in the middle of the 80s. “All I’m saying is we were supposed to start slowly. You weren’t meant to start this by slamming a sledgehammer right into the dick of one of the hearts of the company…”
Atken gives another little self-satisfied chuckle, this time in anticipation of his next comment. This is another reason that he is an awful, woeful human being.
“That’s showbiz, baybee!”
We fade away… is it because Dirk Dickwood is about to choke Phil Atken and we’re worried that some people may be into that? I cannot say.
Last night, I stepped into a PRIME ring for the first time ever and I made a statement. Some people might not quite yet understand my intent, my purpose, my goals… all of that will come with time and we have plenty of that on our hands.
I asked my Chief of Security to wrap his big meaty paws around the throat of the legendary Dusk, a man so revered they made dolls of what a baby version of him may look like, and had him drop Dusk full force right into the middle of the ring.
If I was an egotistical sort, maybe our work for the evening would have been concluded at that point. Perhaps we could have let Dusk and Tapioca Puddings try and continue to battle. That just didn’t sit right with me, y’know? Didn’t feel like the mission would have been fulfilled. Hell, Dusk could have still made a big comeback with grit and determination. I think we’ve all lost count of the times that we’ve been witness to such moments in the wrestling ring.
No, I wanted to present something of a goodwill gesture to the young talent of PRIME. Your Anna Daniels, your Balaams, your Cecilia Ryans and very much in this case, your Puddings family. I wanted to make it clear that I am not here for you. In fact, I’m here to support each and everyone of you. I’m not arrogant enough to assume that the feeling will be reciprocated, that’s not what any of this is about.
Would I appreciate a little nod of thanks from our hot prospects? Well sure, everyone loves a bit of acknowledgement but no, it’s certainly not expected.
At Culture Shock, I made damn sure that my Chief of Security placed Tapioca Puddings atop Dusk for the count of three. I made damn sure that the record book and the PRIME ranking system records that match as a clear victory for Tapioca Puddings and a HUMILIATING loss for the former PRIME Intense Champion.
Muriel, you do not have to thank me, I swear. We’re good.
So, I suppose the question on the lips of the wise would be “why glue?”. I mean, I’m certain everyone gets the reference, I’m not trying to be a mysterious cult leader, that’s the job for roughly half of the roster but not me, not your dear pal Philip.
My new products are trophies, symbols of victory against the enemies of progress. I want the PRIME merchandise stalls to be flooded with sticky products that remind our fans that the spotlight stealing era is over. That The Glue Factory has acted as something of a correction to the mistakes that have been made in putting together this revived and refreshed company.
Those men who chewed me up and spat me out 10… 20 years ago. Those who didn’t give a shit about young talent just trying to find their way in the world. I will fucking die making sure that their poison isn’t allowed to spread in the year of our lord twenty fucking twenty two.
So, Larry Tact of Tact Enterprises, what kind of product are you? I mean with Dusk it was simple, the product basically sells itself. Pleasant colours for crafts, for couples cozying up on a cold evening and doing some quality crafting.
Yet, there’s something shapeless with you, Larry. A lot of shit on the wall but… we’ve basically just ended up with a shit encrusted wall and not much else. This isn’t disrespectful Larry, I’m literally just struggling to work out your form. I asked you earlier what your purpose was and the deeper I dig, the more I struggle.
You had a protege Larry, a young talent who was hungry for opportunity. A chance to carve out his own name, get out there, be somebody. You could’ve brought him to PRIME, you could have stood in his corner and imparted your vast wisdom. Instead, you took the spot in the Almasy Invitational for yourself and expected him to praise you for it.
Predictable limelight leach behaviour.
I’m struggling, really. Your villainy is bog standard.
Fuck it, maybe just some Elmer’s Glue with your face stuck on the bottles.
Your humble proprietor,