MD 145 - Constantine versus Triple X
After making a huge impact upon his return by taking out both Vee ADZ and King Mussel, the former fan favourite known as Triple X has made his intentions clear. His goal is the World Championship and this week he will face the number one contender to that title. A win here would put Triple X in prime position for a run at the top prize following Unscripted. The dangerous bounty placed upon the head of Constantine will be running through his mind as he takes his place inside the ring this week. With danger lurking around every corner, will Constantine be able to focus on his opponent?
RP Deadline Tuesday 24th October 23:59 (Central).
Extensions available upon request.
It had been over a week since Constantine last made an appearance on WZCW TV and he was still feeling the after effects of that particular piece of TV. Not only had he gone up against Logan McAllister – and beaten him in a gruelling encounter – he had been savagely attacked by a member of the production team too. Constantine would have hated to admit it out loud but Justin Cooper had played a blinder when he implemented the bounty on The Power Trip's head. A bounty that, Cooper would have been sure, would have seen Constantine without a hope heading into Unscripted.
But the truth of the matter was that Constantine was used to the pain by now. No broken bones, no nausea and no more pain than usual in the damaged knee. The trials that Constantine had been put through by Justin Cooper were challenging, and would probably become more challenging by the end of it all. But they were nothing that Constantine hadn't – or felt - before.
In his study, he felt comfort like he had not felt in a long time. He had grown sick of the travel in the wrestling business and the lack of down time that he would receive when he was on the road. In truth, it was the only thing that Constantine wasn't going to miss about the industry. If had a few weeks off between bouts and between big matches, then his career would stretch out into his fifties – of that he could be positive. But as WZCW expanded into more territories and pushed the envelope when it came to challenging match to be a part of, Constantine knew that his time was growing short. Throughout the pain and challenge of his final year in WZCW, one thing had been prominent in his mind – especially when things got tough – that it was all coming to a head soon.
And that night, as he lay in his leather recliner, the thought seemed infinitely more pleasing than others. The time off between shows used to be enough for The Power Trip. He would gladly get back on the road when his few days of rest were up. But getting out of his chair was becoming more and more of a struggle with each passing match. The mind was willing but the body was beginning to lose interest it seems.
But his mind was, indeed, willing. The thought of putting Justin Cooper and Vis Imperium down for good was something that Constantine could not - and would not - take lightly. The motivation to bring down the group that he had crafted almost single-handedly shone like a beacon of light in his mind on even the darkest of days. He had created Vis Imperium to be something more than the run-of-the-mill heel stable but the greed and ego of those involved had eventually won the day. In truth, Constantine was sickened by what his brain child had become. A group desperately clinging at any chance to stay on top. A group that would go to extreme measures to make sure that their position of dominance would not be challenged. Putting Tyrone Blades in a match with Batti last week was evidence enough of their lack of empathy.
Constantine's eye flickered towards the large clock on the wall of his study. 7:46pm it read. In truth, Constantine didn't mind waiting for things any more. His daughter had taught him the value of patience, especially when something was worth waiting for. But as he waited again, his mind raced t the match with Triple X at Meltdown this week. Triple X was no slouch in the ring, they had crossed paths before. And whilst Constantine's legacy and skills probably went beyond that of his opponent in the past, there was no telling what would be the result of the match this time around. The fact of the matter was that Triple X had returned to WZCW, hell-bent on destroying all of the heroes that WZCW had built up. And whilst The Power Trip was a long way from being a hero to the WZCW faithful, he had no doubt that Triple X would take great pleasure in taking him down and – possibly – collecting the bounty on his head. There was no doubt about it, Triple X was a dangerous opponent so close to the biggest match of his career. In fact, Constantine had though, there was probably no opponent more challenging.
But the real enemy, come Meltdown, would not be the man standing across the ring from him. Well, it wouldn't be limited to just Triple X anyway. The fact of the matter was that everyone in WZCW had an eye on Constantine and potentially cashing in on the bounty on his head. But even more frightful than that, Constantine has become his own worst enemy. It had been a long time since he was ousted as the leader of Vis Imperium and his interest had waned throughout the time period. But growing closer to Unscripted every day, and the thought of getting his hands on Justin Cooper, Constantine had to be careful not to look past a dangerous opponent and risk losing it all.
He had so much to think about as the walls closed in around him but one thing was for certain. The biggest match of his career was on the horizon and he had to get his ducks in a row prior to the meeting. For his own sanity more than anything. That's why it was so pleasing when the phone beside him eventually rang...
Silence falls as Constantine listens to the voice on the other end of the line.
Constantine: Yes, I believe that is agreeable. I'll see you then, old friend...
And with that, Constantine hung up the phone. Whatever had been arranged, Constantine looked pleased with the thought of it. He slumped his shoulders into the chair and closed his eyes. It was time for the quiet before the oncoming storm.
. . . . .
PRESENT DAY, THREE DAYS BEFORE MELTDOWN
A COFFEE HOUSE IN NEW YORK
Triple X sat there, staring at the two coffees on the table in front of him. The shop itself was fairly busy; people sitting at tables with papers or laptops, or deep in conversation with one another. X however, just sat there, staring. It had been around two years since he last saw her, and though they’d spoken on the phone, he genuinely didn’t know how things would go.
The door to the coffee shop opened, and in she walked. Talia. Her red hair was tied back, and she was wearing a pair of jeans, a sleeveless black top and a pair of sunglasses. She looked around for a moment, before taking her glasses off and clocking him. X stood up as she walked over, and the two embraced. Not as lovers, or even friends. But two people who hadn’t seen each other for a long time, and who had missed each other deeply.
Then she whacked him in the arm.
‘I deserve that.’
She hit him again. ‘You absolute bastard.’
‘I know. I’m sorry.’
Her face was a mix of full on anger, with a dash of relief too. They sat down, and he slid her coffee over.
‘You look good.’
She took a drink from her cup and looked back up at him, focusing on his hair. ‘You look like an idiot with that hair.’
‘I’ll take that.’
She smiled. X hesitated for a moment before taking a sip form his own coffee. ‘It wasn’t you.’
‘It wasn’t you. The reason I left. It was…more than that.’
‘Xander, if you aren’t ready to-’
‘No, you deserve to know.’ X took another long gulp of drink, and cleared his throat. ‘It was me. I needed to get away from me.’
‘What does that even mean?’
‘Everything that happened with the title match, it just…I don’t know. I’d put all of my eggs into that match and I just…couldn’t cope with losing. Or anything that reminded me of that loss.’
Talia looked on, a slightly confused expression on her face.
‘That’s why I didn’t go back. Why I said we should go away. We went to Europe and I honestly thought travelling for a while would make me feel better. I thought travelling with you would make me feel better.’
‘You were my biggest supporter. You pushed me passed my limits, and helped me hit heights I never thought possible. I…I couldn’t separate that from the woman I love. I just saw the person who wished me luck every time I walked out of the curtain, rather than then person I spent every non-wrestling moment with.’
‘There’s no excusing it-‘
‘No, you’re damn right. We were in Prague. We were having the most wonderful time. Then one morning, you aren’t there, and on your side of the bed is a note saying you were sorry. You’re right, there’s no excusing that.’
X looked down, ashamed of his actions. He knew he could have handled things better.
‘…but I know you. Something comes in your head, there’s nothing you can do but follow through with it.’
‘That’s still no excuse.’
‘Oh, I know. But I’m guessing that’s what happened.’
‘I…yeah. Yeah it was. I needed to find myself again.’
‘And did you?’
‘I…I think so.’
Talia sat there, still staring at the table. X reached across the table and grabbed her hand gently. ‘I’m making no excuses. I bailed on you, and that was the wrong thing to do. I shouldn’t have run away from the one thing in my life that made sense.’
She looked up. Her eyes were watery but he could tell she wanted to hold it in. She placed her free hand on top of his. ‘What happened?’
‘I ended up in Russia.’
‘Yeah. I travelled for a bit and, somehow, at some point I ended up in a bar. Smack in the middle of it was a fighting cage.’
‘I think I’d bottled up a lot of rage. I hated that I couldn’t win, and I guess that was my outlet. I did pretty well, too.’
‘It wasn’t just that though. After a while, winning wasn’t enough. I knew I’d fucked up. And I…I needed to suffer. I started to lose. I could have won, but I didn’t. I wanted to feel pain. ‘
He didn’t need to look. He knew she was appalled. ‘My god. Why the hell would you do that?’
‘Because it hurt every time I got in a ring. I’d get hit, it would hurt, and I’d hit them right back. I guess I never realised how much the pain played a part in me wrestling.’
‘What the hell does that even mean? You enjoy being hurt?’
‘No…not exactly. I can’t explain it, but I needed it. And that gave me my outlet for a while. Both inflicting and feeling it.’
‘So why come back?’
‘…because this is my home. The States. Wrestling, if I’m honest. And you. And I came back because it was time. And I’m really glad I did.’
Talia smiled back. She clearly didn’t know what to do with the information X had just given her, but she had some of her answers at least. Her phone began to vibrate; annoyed, she picked it up and glared at the screen. ‘Dammit. I’m sorry, I’ve got a meeting I need to go to-’
‘No, no, it’s fine.’
‘I…’ she stood up. ‘Do you want to meet for dinner? I know you’ll be busy and I’ve got a lot on but, if you want to we could-‘
‘Yes. God yes. I…’
X let out half a chuckle. ‘I didn’t think you’d want to after today.’
Talia sat back down, and this time she reached across for X’s hand. ‘Everyone makes mistakes. And sometimes we all need to do stuff that no-one else will understand. And I…I still love you Xander. I do still have some ways to go, I’m not fully there yet, but…I’m here for you.’
He smiled. ‘Thank you.’
‘Just…don’t do anything stupid.’
‘You know that’s a silly thing to say to me, right?’
She laughed. She gently released his hand and stood back up. She smiled back at him again, before turning around and walking out.
X placed his head on the table and let out a huge sigh. Well that could have been worse...
His phone began to buzz on the table. He lifted his head and looked on the screen.
INCOMING CALL: ANDREY
Another sigh. Boy, you know how to ruin a moment…
‘Andrey, what can I do for you?’
‘Ahh, my favorite American!’ X could just about make out his words through a lot of background noise.
‘Andrey, I’m the only American you know.’
‘But still, this makes my statement no less true.’
‘What do you want? And…are you outside?’
‘Ah, I have new car! Convertible. You Americans can really put a machine together! Anyway, office rang. Have confirmed new match for you on Meltdown.’
‘Yes, you heard correctly.’
Great, X thought. One step closer…
‘Who’m I up against?’
‘Have asked them to forward you e-mail. You’ll like it. Better to read for yourself.’
‘Oh, Before I go, How did meeting with your lady friend go?’
‘Honestly, not that bad. Not that bad at all.’
‘Ahh, this makes me happy. Well, I will let you go. This bad boy isn’t gonna drive itself!’
‘Andrey, just be-‘
X sighed. ‘…careful.’
He flicked through his phone to his e-mails app, and opened it up. Sure enough, an e-mail titled RE: WZCW MELTDOWN from talent relations. It read:
Later That Day
Andrey opens the door, and his attention is immediately drawn to the wall. The name WREN was still on the opposing wall as it was before, but another name, in giant letters, has joined it on the one to its left. The same blood-red colour. The same crimson streaks running down the wall.
C O N S T A N T I N E
In the middle of the room, Triple X sat there on a mat. He was cross legged, wearing a pair of baggy shorts and a vest, he was resting his hands on his knees with his eyes closed. In front of him is a laptop, with noise from a past WZCW show blazing out.
Andrey walks around and sees X’s eyes closed.
‘A little of both.’ X opened his eyes. ‘My version, anyway.’
‘You are a man of mysterious ways, Triple X.’
Xander laughed. ‘I guess so.’
‘A big match so soon after your return, then? I’d imagine you’d be very pleased.’
‘Pleased is the wrong word, but yeah, it’s going well.’
‘A big impact you have made. But a dangerous opponent, this Constantine.’
‘Very dangerous.’ X made his way to his feet, staring at the red letters on the wall. ‘He’s a hall of famer, he’s been WZCW Champion, he’s won King for a Day, he’s the winner of Gold Rush…‘
‘And you’ve beaten him previously, if I recall.’
‘That was a long time ago. And it was by disqualification. There’s nothing I can take for granted here regarding John Constantine. He is a legend.’
X turned back to Andrey. ‘But he is a fading legend. He isn’t really what he once was, but he is still a force. Where he lacks in what he can now do, he makes up for in desperation.’
‘All the desperation in the world surely doesn’t deflect from his knee.’
‘No, but he has a goal. Very few people have what you could call a focused, absolute mission in life, but I can relate to John in that respect. He has a target that in his heart of hearts he must achieve. You can’t underestimate a man who will put his all, literally put his beaten body on the line, for that goal.’
‘And best case scenario; you take him out and you win $50000.’
X turned to Andrey. ‘I don’t give a fuck about the money.’
‘Of course, of course. But a win at least over the number one contender will be somewhat of a huge result. It should thrust you into the world title picture.’
‘I’m not counting on anything yet. Three years ago, I had the World Heavyweight Title. It was mine as far as I was concerned. But it didn’t happen for me. The last thing that’s gonna happen is me making the same mistake again..’
‘Not counting chickens before the hatch. A wise move.’
‘Yeah. One that comes from a lot of fucking things up.’
X closed the laptop and stood up, staring at the name of his opponent on the wall.
‘I won’t ask you about your choice in wall decorating, but you know…I’m surprised to not see Justin Coopers name there.’
‘Why would his name be there?’ X responds without turning away.
‘Well, he is World Champion. One of the main reasons you are back in WZCW. Surely his name has a place here.’
‘The champions name has a place, Andrey. And Cooper is the reigning and defending champion. And with Vis Imperium around, things won’t exactly be easy. But Constantine has a title shot, Kagura is walking around as Queen for a Day. And there’s any number of things that could happen. When I get my shot, and I will get my shot, It could be any one of them, if not someone else.’
X walks over to a table on the left side of the room. On top of it lay a sports bag with his wrestling gear in. He stares at the blood-splattered mask he wears during his entrance.
‘One step at a time, they’ll all burn.’
THE DAY OF MELTDOWN
TARGET CENTRE, MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
It was early in the day, but the arena was a hive of activity. Many personnel to do with making a wrestling show happen were going about their business. The trucks holding all of the equipment were being unloaded, and the ring, down in the arena itself was already being assembled.
X walked through, ignoring most of the people he passed by. Previously, when he first started with the company, he would talk to the guys and girls who set up the arena to host a live WZCW event. Now though, he realised they were just silly fanboys and fangirls who were as bad as the main WZCW fanbase. He despised them.
He arrived at his location; a room set up for an interview for the website. In the background a huge WZCW sign had been set up. A pair of high chairs stood there, with a table next to each with a glass of water filled and ready. In one of the high chairs sat Leon Kensworth, ready to ask the questions.
‘Triple X! It’s been a long time.’ He said, standing up and sticking his hand out.
X shook his hand with a deliberately hard grip. ‘Oh, not long enough, trust me.’
He let go, and Leon, flexing his hand after the hard grip, sat down back down on his seat. X walked over to the empty chair and, before he knew it, he was being set up with a microphone.
‘Just a short interview for the website. Nothing more. Is there anything you want me to go into, anything you don’t want me to go into?’
‘I literally couldn’t care any less.’
‘Great…’ Leon seemed about as thrilled as Triple X did. He placed his clipboard of notes down on the table by his chair. ‘Bob, whenever your ready.’
Backstage Bob stood off-camera and gave Leon the countdown to begin. The camera operator swung the lens into focus.
Here we go…
‘Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us on WZCW.com for this exclusive interview. Joining me at this time, Triple X.’
Leon turns his attention over to X, who was just smiling. He found the whole idea of this interview amusing.
‘Xander, how are you today?’
A short pause. ‘Fine.’
‘…good. Okay. Well, A few shows ago at Ascension 120, you made your shocking return by taking out King Mussel and Vee ADZ before their match even had chance to get going. A truly vicious assault, and neither man has been seen in WZCW since. Why did you choose to return in such a way?’
X just sat there, bemused by the question. ‘Because I did.’
Leon nodded away, trying not to be flustered with X’s unhelpful answers. 'And then, on the following Ascension, you faced off with Wren in an entertaining match, where your new vicious streak earned you a win in your first match in over three years. How did that feel-‘
‘Fine. It felt fine. But that isn’t what you want to ask. It’s certainly not what these people wanna hear. Go ahead Leon, cut the shit. Ask what you want to know.’
‘Triple X, I must remind you not to swear on the-‘
‘I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck. Use it, bleep me, throw it away. I literally couldn’t care any less.’ X leaned forward in his chair. ‘Go ahead. Ask.’
‘Why are you back?’
X took a sip of his water. ‘I’m here to be the best. I’m here to take the World title, and shove it in every one of the fans faces, because we all know that’s the closest they’ll ever get to true success in their lives. I’m here to make them, and every other pathetic excuse for a wrestler they call a ‘superstar’ here suffer.’
‘And how do you plan on making them suffer?’
‘By hurting them. Ask Mussel and Vee how good I am at making that happen.’
Leon froze for a second, taking a gulp of water. ‘Moving on to your opponent for tonight, you’re facing the-‘
‘Yes, the winner of the Gold Rush Tournament. The number one contender. Former World Champion, Hall of Famer, the man known as Constantine. And you wanna know something funny about everyone’s new ‘old favourite’?’
‘Everyone used to hate him!’ X almost spoke with a laugh, sitting back in his chair. ‘The crowd changed their fickle minds with him too, not just me. But John’s played a longer game here than me, or anyone else for that matter. No, Constantine is a skilled manipulator; hell, he was a politician for Christ sake. You could argue he didn’t have what it takes to make it there, which is why he moved over to our world. I’m not going to argue that though, Leon. Just imply it.’
Leon’s expression seemed to get more and more uncomfortable as X continued to speak.
‘Now I know that I shouldn’t be speaking about a legend in such a way, and make no mistake, John Constantine is a legend of our sport. But I’m only speaking about him, Leon, in the same vain of how he has treated his so-called fans.’
‘I-I don’t follow-‘
‘You wouldn’t. Don’t worry. I didn’t expect any more from you. See, John Constantine is a liar. He tells the people he has changed, that he’s looking to go out the right way, on his terms. He’s looking to go out on top, as the best, and he’s gonna pander to the people while he does it. All you people…’ X turns and directly addresses the camera. ‘…you’re used to having the power to mess with peoples heads. You’re used to making them feel worthless, on a whim, and throwing people to the side when you get bored of them.’ X smirked. ‘How does it feel to be played at your own game, huh? Because that’s what your great hope is doing to each and every one of you. And I have to say John; you are doing a magnificent job. Manipulating these people so you get one last hurrah? Spellbinding. You hold them in the palm of your hand and they’re too ignorant to know any different.’
X turned to Leon. ‘You wanna know why I’m back? Because people like John Constantine make me sick.’
X stood up and walked to the camera.‘John, I hope you see this. I hope you take a good, hard look. You’re a legend. I know that. You’re the number one contender. You’re a force to be reckoned with inside that ring, bad knee or no bad knee. Banged up or not. I’m not naive. But I see right through you. Your time is drawing near, and if I have any say in it what so ever, you won’t make it to Kingdom Come. You’ll be watching from your home, in comfort, with your family, as Triple X holds up his – MY – World Heavyweight Championship. Do yourself a favour. Get out now. Before I hurt you even more than you already are.’
X turned and walked back, looking over his shoulder as he exited the interview space. ‘I can only imagine how it feels to know, John, to know you’ll be nothing more than a footnote. Both on my path to glory, and on WZCW as a whole.’
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Hey, I'm just sayin'.
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