MD 138 - Constantine versus Eve Taylor (Non-Title)
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Moments After Ascension 114
In an unknown locker room, everything is quiet. Suddenly, the door in the corner of the room flies open and bangs against the wall that it rests against. An immense beam of light fills the dark room but is immediately drowned out as a shadowy figure lurches into the light and leans against the door frame. Amidst the shadows, a guttural groaning and retching echoes around the room. The figure searches for something for a few moments, it's slick hand palming the cold stone wall. Suddenly, a clicking noise can be heard and, soon after, the room is bathed in beautiful white lights.
But the pure white of the light above, reflecting off of the wooden beams along the wall and the white stone floor, does nothing to distract from the beast in the corner of the room. The same beast that hangs over the locker room like a dank shadow. The same beast that just won the revived Mayhem Championship.
Constantine: Damn it!
The Power Trip leans against the door frame for a moment longer, the Mayhem Championship hanging loosely over this left shoulder. The bruises and welts on the legs and torso of the Mayhem Champion can already be seen on his battered body. Uncorking a bottle of water, Constantine pours the liquid over his head and takes a deep, stuttering breath in. Tossing the bottle to one side, Constantine finally gets off of his resting place and stands on his own, lingering in the doorway long enough to know that he can trust his unsteady legs. After a moment more, Constantine hobbles towards the benches and his belongings. Crashing down onto the wooden beam, Constantine lets out a deep sigh before allowing his head to drop into his hands.
Constantine lowers his hand slowly, his hands trembling from the match only moments ago. He turns them over and watches them as they shake uncontrollably. A look of terror begins to cross the features of The Power Trip as his eyes focus on his shaking digits in front of him. He looks towards the Mayhem Championship on the wooden bench, his hands still shaking as he turns his head. The golden glint of the new Championship reflects upon his terrified features as he takes deep breaths in and out. Suddenly, Constantine's look of terror begins to fade until a smile is barely visible. Growing and growing, Constantine's smile soon turns into a laugh, growing louder and louder until it fills the room like the light did only seconds ago. The laugh continues to boom around the room until it suddenly stops. Constantine continues to stare at the Mayhem Championship lovingly.
Constantine: Worth it...
The Power Trip lets out one final snigger as he finally turns from his new Championship. The screen fades to black.
* * *
A Few Days Prior
Constantine hated New York City, he always had. The look, the height, the smell all of those factors contributed towards, and concocted a cocktail that Constantine had always been repulsed by. Being driven through it's gargantuan streets was as close as Constantine ever wanted to come to the people of New York. The people that, he felt, encapsulated everything that was wrong with society as a whole. Fuelled by nicotine, caffeine and the good old American spirit, New Yorkers always seemed to be holier than thou a trait that Constantine resented... Perhaps because it reminded him of himself so much.
Needless to say, Constantine would not be in the Big Apple if necessity didn't dictate as much. Unfortunately for The Power Trip though, necessity did dictate his presence and no one dictated more Kenneth Banks right now.
Constantine had always been a shrewd man, it was a quality that he was proud of. In his time in politics and in WZCW, he had learned things very quickly. He was always interested in the way things worked and liked to know them from the inside out. It was through that morbid intrigue that Constantine was able to exploit people and organisations when he needed them to be exploited. Numerous times over the last 8 years, Constantine had used that knowledge and manipulation to great effect. But his alliance with Mr. Banks was something altogether different.
Indeed, it was Mr. Banks who had approached Constantine and Mark Keaton about the possibility of acting as his protection from The Hollow Ones. Banks could be a strong ally as a means to achieving everything that Constantine had set out to achieve from day one in WZCW. Never before had Constantine had his foot quite so far inside the door of power. Mr. Banks, it seemed, was all too willing to allow Constantine access to it.
Constantine knew that he was weak. And therein, lay opportunity.
* * *
Some Time Later
The door to Mr. Banks' penthouse opened to reveal The Power Trip. Banks allowed a smile to cross his features as he extended his hand towards the Tag Team Champion. Constantine nodded his head as he reflected the emotion of his boss clutching his hand and shaking it vigorously.
Banks: I'm so glad you came, John. Honestly, I thought you had thought better of coming here for a moment there.
Constantine lowers his eyebrows in confusion, looking deep into the eyes of Mr. Banks as his employer raised a hand to show him inside of the penthouse. The place was sleek and elegant right down to the last details. On the other side of the open-plan living area, glass stretched from floor to ceiling, revealing the New York skyline in all of it's glory. Constantine made his way inside the penthouse and soon stood in the middle of the floor, admiring all of the possessions and beauty of the house. Constantine slowly turned around, lovingly gazing at the beautiful paintings that hung on the wall before Banks addressed him once more closing the door behind them both and moving to the other side of the room.
Banks: Truth be told, I've been a little on edge since Kingdom Come. What with everything that transpired before and during the event, I'm sure you can understand that?
Constantine shakes his head slightly, blasting away the cobwebs and confusion from his senses as he does. He looks for Banks at the door but soon realises that he has moved on, totally unbeknownst to him.
Constantine: Uh, yes. Absolutely!
Constantine forces a smile as Mr Banks moves across the room towards him and offers him a glass of brown -coloured liquid as a measure of his welcoming. Constantine nods his head in thanks as Banks hands the drink off to the Tag Team Champion and moves towards a white fabric sofa a few metres away. Constantine sips from the booze and begins looking at the paintings on the wall again. Suddenly, he is transfixed by one in particular. Banks stays silent and watches Constantine move towards it in complete silence.
Banks: Ah, you're a fan of artwork, I see? I dabble in it myself but I don't often have the time to go out looking for new pieces. I tend to leave it to my assistants to deal with new purchases. Hell, I don't even get a lot of time to enjoy them these days.
Constantine continues to gaze at the piece of work, taking in it's utter beauty and intricate details his eyes wide and mouth hanging slightly open in acknowledgement of its wonders.
Banks: It's a Dali piece, I think. An original too, I believe.
Constantine spins on his heels to look at his employer as a hint of softness emanates from the mouth of the usually so hardened Power Trip.
Constantine: It's truly beautiful...
The words trail off from Constantine's mouth, almost as if he has been hypnotised by the painting in some way. Banks allows a massive smile to appear on his face as he continues to sip on his drink. Getting up and moving towards Constantine, Banks seems almost renewed and confident as he makes strides.
Banks: It's not often that I have someone in here that is so taken by the arts, John, I appreciate that trait in a person. Sometimes, the nuances and beauty of the work is lost on those who cannot fully understand it. And I can tell, just y looking in your eyes at this moment, that you are not one of them.
Banks turns Constantine around to him and grabs him by the shoulder. He continues to smile as he looks at a flabbergasted Constantine. Banks gives Constantine a pat on the shoulder with one hand and then takes another sip from his glass. The slap to the arm of Constantine is enough to rouse him from his dream-like state and break the mysterious spell once and for all.
Banks: But I didn't fly you out here to talk about art, you probably have guessed as much. This is business and I'm afraid there are pressing matters at hand.
Constantine: Of course.
Banks: I first want to thank you and Mr. Keaton for everything you have done for me already. Tyrone Blades is a blight to this company, as I am sure you are aware. He thinks that he still owns the company in many ways. His ego, his wanton lust for danger and destruction... It makes me utterly sick.
Banks stops a moment, recalling the incidents that have led him to this point.
Banks: After what he did to me, I needed him to pay for his actions. I needed The Hollow Ones to go away. And I am pleased that I came to you for that help. Your actions at Kingdom Come sent out a clear message to Blades and Phoenix that they are not the authority in WZCW... I am!
As Mr Banks' begins to get fired up, Constantine allows a smile to spread across his features listening to the words of the WZCW owner and agreeing with him internally.
Banks: Over the course of the next few weeks, John, I will be taking back control of this company and saving it from people like Phoenix and Tyrone Blades. The work I have to do is very dangerous and will, undoubtedly, make some people very upset as a result. When people get upset, they lash out to try and protect what they are about to lose. Tyrone Blades will be one of those people, John. That's why I want to extend the working partnership that I have with Vis Imperium. A partnership that has already seen dramatic results and will continue to grow in strength until WZCW has come to order.
Constantine feels a pang of excitement begin to climb up his spine as the hairs on his arms stand to attention. He had long fantasized about being in a position of power and here was his opportunity to claim it once and for all. Who knows the benefits of such a relationship but Constantine was keen to find out. Trying to steady his voice and contain his excitement, Constantine sips his drink and then coolly replies.
Constantine: Yes, I believe we could see to that.
Mr Banks allows his smile to grow wider as the look of nervousness and concern disappear from his eyes. He immediately gets up off his couch and moves towards Constantine with his arm extended. Constantine shakes his hand gleefully but cannot help but notice the smile on Mr Banks' face begin to fade.
Banks: I'm afraid, though, there the loss is not finished there, John. You see, to shape WZCW into the organisation that you and I both know it can and should be, there needs to be more sacrifices made. One of those sacrifices will come in the form of the Tag Team Championships.
Mr Banks' words hit Constantine like a bullet from a gun. He staggers backwards slightly, catching his balance and his glass before it slips through his fingers. The look of shock on his features immediately bring another look of concern to the face of his employer.
Banks: Now, I know that you are going to be upset about that, John. But listen to me now. The Tag Team division is gone. You and Mark Keaton have scared every shred of competition that we had out of the building. So strong and powerful is the notion of Vis Imperium, I have Vance Bateman and Becky Serra struggling to find anyone to go up against you both. You have to realise that you have become the most successful team in all of WZCW history and will forever go down as the man who retired the Tag Team Championships another string on the bow of a man who has accomplished so many great things!
Constantine struggles to comprehend what is going on as Mr Banks brushes his ego some more.
Banks: I will, however, reward you in kind. Both of you, that is! I plan to reinstate the Mayhem Championship on this round of shows and I promise that a member of Vis Imperium will leave with that Championship around his waist. It is a reward for everything you have already done for me and a signal of what is to come. I am a string ally for you, John. But this needs to be done for the good of the business. You know that and I know that.
As Mr Banks continued to talk about the decimation of the Tag Team division, Constantine sat and listened. It tore at the heart of The Power Trip that everything he had worked for until this point would soon be dissolved. But what's more, concerns and questions now filled his head and he didn't know where to start. What would become of the long-term goals for Vis Imperium? More importantly, how would Mark Keaton react to losing his Championship in the wake of all of this? And finally, how would the two men co-exist after battling to win the Mayhem Championship?
Constantine and Banks talked for hours that night about the industry and how they both saw it. Upon leaving the penthouse of his employer, Constantine felt a little more confident about the future. But, perhaps, more importantly, Constantine was willing to admit his mistake. Mr Banks was not weak at all. Physically, he could not take on The Hollow Ones on his own, there was no doubt about that. But mentally, Mr Banks was a shrewd man who had the strength and toughness to tell The Power Trip what was happening to his face. Banks was not weak at all, in fact he had shown great strength in bringing Constantine into the picture and the Tag Team Champion appreciated it.
Perhaps, just perhaps, this could be the beginning of something special indeed...
* * *
A Few Days Before Meltdown 138
Constantine sat alone in his study, contemplating the last few days and what had occurred. In the space of one night, he had gone from being the Tag Team Champion with Mark Keaton, to facing off against him for the new Mayhem Championship. The thoughts of Vis Imperium exploding and being no more had weighed heavily on Constantine's mind prior to Ascension 114. But sitting in his office now and looking at his Mayhem Championship, Constantine thought back to the ending of Ascension 111. Keaton had given him everything he had and taken him to the limit. But when all was said and done, he raised Constantine's hand and congratulated him like a man. That was the core of Vis Imperium and that is why it would endure.
Mia: John, something has just been delivered to you...
Mia's confusion on the matter was evident in her words and left Constantine pondering if it was a question or not. A question that he did not have an answer for. Getting out of his chair and exiting the room, he followed the mother of his child into the kitchen to where a massive flat package rested against some cupboards. On the front of the bubble wrap, a letter with the name John was taped. Constantine studied the package before ripping off the letter and then taking some scissors to the packaging. As he cut away pieces of bubble wrap and paper, it become clear what it was. He tears off the final piece of the paper to reveal...
Constantine allows a massive smile to cross his features as the beautiful painting from Mr. Banks' house now rests in his. He puts his hand on the frame of the painting and looks at it lovingly, trying his best to take in the majesty of it once more. After a few seconds, Mia interrupts.
Mia: Wow! That's stunning, John. Who sent you that?
She takes the letter from Constantine's hand and rips it open. She begins reading aloud.
Mia: Dear, John. I want to, once again, thank you for everything that you have done for me in the past and continue to do. As I shape WZCW into what it should be, I will need people like you to protect it from those who wish to see it stay the same stagnant mess that it has become. That is why I sent this painting to you as a reward for everything you have done.
Mia stops for a moment and considers the gravity of this wonderful gift. Constantine continues to look at the painting as she reads on.
Mia: I seen the wonder in your eyes the first night you seen it and now I gift it to you in the hope that, once our work with WZCW is complete, you look upon our beloved wrestling federation with the same love and passion for excellence.
Constantine looks up at Mia, now transfixed by the heart-warming words coming from her mouth.
Mia: I did a little bit of research on the paining and found out that it is, in fact, a depiction of Narcissus. Narcissus was so beautiful that he was tricked into falling in love with his own reflection. Given that your match this week is against Eve Taylor, I thought it only fitting that you consider her character. Just like Taylor, Narcissus could never love anyone else. Taylor's failed relationships with both Aubrey Stone and Mikey Stormrage has shown her to be of the same ilk as Narcissus. She may try and prove her love and loyalty but her only love is herself. And just like the myth of Narcissus, Eve Taylor will die looking longingly at what she cannot have. You know as much as I do that she wants to be a Champion with every fibre of her body. But Champions either have it in them or they don't. And as the events of Ascension 111 showed, you are the true Champion that WZCW needs.
Constantine gets to his feet and slowly takes the letter from Mia, scanning it with his eyes and finding his place. He reads the final few lines.
Constantine: There is much to do in WZCW still but the work has begun. As equal partners in the transformation of this company, I am your reflection and you are mine. Eve Taylor stands in the way of progress, pondering what the future holds her own ego standing in her way. Rid this company of her arrogance once and for all... Vis Imperium endures!
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Two legendary competitors in two consecutive matches.
No matter how many times I said that phrase in my head, or to myself, I could not bring myself to believe it to be true. It seemed surreal for me, someone who hadn't exactly ended 2016, the "Year of Eve Taylor" as I boldly proclaimed many a time, with the greatest record. All the anguish; all the misery; all the doubt that was in my head, swirling through my thoughts... it was all worth the pain and suffering to create a resurgence in my career, and a new desire in wanting to become the best, because I've now got two legendary names under my belt that I've defeated in recent weeks. Not only did I defeat the woman who everybody regarded as the greatest female of all time, Celeste Crimson, but I defeated the man who holds the record for the longest Eurasian title defense in WZCW History, Titus Avison, who is slowly closing the gap on the greatest reign of all time, Tyrone Blades' year-long World title reign. I defeated both of them in consecutive weeks. One after the other. I can't believe it, and I was there! I was physically in the ring against those two competitors, and I was the one to put them down for the count, or make them tap. I witnessed it first-hand, as first-hand as first-hand can get... and yet, I'm still awestruck. All I wanted to do was yell it out to the world, and tell everybody of my accomplishment. That's how excited I was for my achievements, and how pumped I was for future opportunities. For a moment, I was happy. I was back on the trail of success, and glory. It was the road I sacrificed everything for to be on, and I finally felt unchained by my own burdens. No longer did I feel like an outcast to the rest of the wrestling tribe, but I felt wanted, and I was the seeker who was determined to fulfil her destiny at the top of the mountain. All this, I wanted to tell someone... anyone...
... but every time I tried to call Michael, he wouldn't answer my phone. I sent him a message, but he wouldn't reply. I considered going through social media, but I didn't want to harass him. I know he had been through some rough times recently, with everyone seemingly against him. I know that feeling all too well, and I just wanted to reach out and grab him; hold him tight against my chest and never let go. As much as I wanted to, I couldn't, because I was not in the right state of mind, and Michael didn't deserve to have me dragging him down as he was set to defend the World title on the grandest stage of them all. With his loss against Cooper, the fans rallying behind his hurtful words, and the connection between Cooper & Vis Imperium led me to believe that I had made a mistake. Maybe Michael was right: maybe we should've stuck together through the most demanding schedule of our wrestling careers. Maybe Michael & I could've worked through the Kingdom Come cycle, and we would've been there for each other. I keep reminding myself that hindsight is 20/20, and what I thought at the time was right, no matter how much it hurt, but the outcome... I got what I wanted: I proved my ability as a wrestler, and now I'm riding a wave of momentum, but Michael lost everything. He lost the title, and he lost me. I just hope Michael hasn't lost himself, but how can I help him if he won't talk to me? What can I do when every time I try and get close to him, he evades me like the plague?
I looked down at my phone to check if Michael had responded, but nothing was there. In a rage, I threw my phone at the opposite end of the lounge.
God dammit, I'm selfish, and I fucking hate it sometimes. All I want right now is for you, Michael, to be here on the other side of this couch, sitting here listening to me, talking to me, about our days. I couldn't care what we talked about, all I wanted was you to be here with me. There I go again; being selfish. I didn't mean to ruin everything we had Michael. It wasn't your fault. None of this is your fault. If anything, it's mine. I was the one who lost the Elite title, and the Lethal Lottery, and I was the one who became so depressed, and self-conscious, of my own abilities, that I destroyed the best relationship I've ever had with another human being...
... but what could I do? Michael wasn't answering me. The company won't help me. He wasn't at the shows this round, and he evaded me at Kingdom Come. The past has already been written, and I can't change any of it. As of right now, I can't help repair the relationship for the future. What else can I do?
At that moment, Abigail, the female clerk I met at the gaming store a few months ago right before I decided to take the dive into a relationship with Michael, came back from the kitchen with two cups of coffee. She handed me one, before grabbing hers and looking to sit on the couch. I tried looking away so she couldn't see the look on my face, and read my thoughts, but I wasn't quick enough.
"Tell me what's wrong."
"I said I'm fine."
Abigail looked at me with a smirk.
"How about I phrase that differently: tell me what's wrong?"
I looked over at Abigail as she took her spot on the couch. As she did, she jolted up quickly, noticing she had sat on my phone. She grabbed it, and placed it on the table. The screen was not locked, and she saw the missed calls I had for Michael.
I had to say something before Abigail asked me questions. As much as I like talking to Abigail to my problems, I didn't feel like repeating myself.
"Look Abigail, that's a problem I'm dealing with. I know what I've got to do. I'm just angry, and frustrated at myself with all of this. I'm on my way to prove my worth as a wrestler, and I know my focus should be there, but how much more will I have to sacrifice to get there. I haven't even had a World Championship match yet, nor have I had a number one contenders match, outside the Lethal Lottery matches, and I feel like I've lost so much."
"And you'll probably lose even more. Who knows what you'll lose next. Maybe I might say something, and we'll never speak again. I mean, how long has it been since the last time we spoke to each other?"
Abigail and I hadn't really said much to each other. We've played a game or two online, but nothing major. It's not that I don't like Abigail, it's that I haven't had the time... or, in another perspective, I never made the time to keep in contact, because I was too obsessed with being the best, and I didn't even regret it until I thought about it. Damn, I really do have a destructive nature when it came to relationships.
"What matters most is what you want, and from what you speak to me, you seem to really want that World title. So forget about Michael. Forget about all the sacrifices you've made. Forget about everything that's happened, and do everything you can to get that World championship. What's done is done. If you're angry, let out your frustrations against those that stand in your way. Let it out against whoever you're facing next."
My demeanour changed very quickly. I was pissed off now. Not because of Abigail telling me to forget Michael, but because she just reminded me who my next opponent was: John Constantine.
My eyes darted directly at Abigail. I was so angry, I put my coffee down. I didn't want to accidentally picture Abigail as Constantine, and throw burning liquids in her face.
"Constantine. He's my next opponent, and he's an arrogant prick. I hate him."
"Well, that's easy. Take your current frustrations out on him."
I've been told that I can be drop dead gorgeous, but I've never had the looks to kill, because I felt like I had a murderous look in my eye.
"Oh Abi, current frustrations are the least of my problems with Constantine. We go way back, Abigail. We back. Back to a time when I was first starting out with the company, and the second I saw that smug bastards face I knew I never liked him. I've changed my opinion on many people since I started, Michael included, but this guy? Constantine? I've hated him since the day I met him. You know how people experience love at first sight? When I saw Constantine, my body filled with rage and hatred. You know how when that happens in the movies, and the two people bump into each other, and they have that awkward pause before picking up whatever they dropped? Well, when I first laid eyes on Constantine, I wanted to shoulder check the cunt, drop his arse to the ground, and beat the living crap out of him with my stiletto until my footprints went red."
"That's... that's not healthy."
"Yeah, that's roughly my thoughts and feelings on Constantine as a person. Competitor? He's got some amazing accolades, and all the man needs is to win the Eurasian championship, and he'll be the next Grand Slam champion. I mean, right now, he's the Mayhem champion, and he'll probably end up as the final tag team champion in WZCW history, and he's on top of his game... but even then, I don't respect him. It feels like he's been making deals with the big boss, and securing his position within the company. That lying, cheating son of a bitch, getting everything he wants on a silver platter. That fucker has more failed relationships than I have, and he willingly stabs people in the back to get to the top."
"Do you hate him because he is everything you wish to be, and everything you've done to get to his position, he's done as well, but he's been more effective?"
I was going to pause and ponder about what Abigail said, because that is a very good interpretation of the situation. Eve had wanted nothing but glory, and success, and to be considered the very best. Constantine was one or two accolades away from being in that top echelon of competitors. Even without gaining those accolades, Constantine is still a Hall of Fame worthy nomination. I would wage that Constantine is the headlining inductee for the next Kingdom Come event. All Eve ever wanted was to be in a position similar to Constantine. All the accolades. All the gold. All the success. All the-
"Nope. Constantine is just a dick."
"That can't be the reason. There has to be some underly-"
"Nope. He's a dick, and I want to beat him so badly, he'll feel like Michael after our first date: drained of every fibre of his being."
"I didn't need to hear about what you do in the bedroom."
"Many people seem to question my sexuality, especially after the whole Aubrey Sloan saga, but after I'm finished beating up that dick-"
"Okay, I get it! You don't like him."
"Like is too nice a word. In fact, there is no word I can use to describe the hatred I have for Constantine, but it's a good thing I'm not in the political business where all I do is use my words to destroy people. Constantine might be good with his words, but I'm much better with fists. As far as I know, one fist is all it takes to shut anyone up, and considering the amount of shit that spews from that asshole, I'm pretty sure nobody is going to mind. So, I'm going to shove my fist so far down his throat that I'll come out the other side, wrap back around, and use Constantine as my own ventriloquist puppet to give the people a good show."
"I didn't know you were a very violent person."
"Abigail. I don't have a family. I don't have any friends, besides you, and even then, I've seen you like twice. Michael isn't answering my calls. I'm excited to be on my way to success, yet after three years of busting my arse, I'm still not in the World title picture, so I'm going to start busting other people's arses until I get there. Constantine is in my way. I hate his guts, and everyone and everything that associates with him. He's the Mayhem champion. Mayhem is normally very violent. Right now, I feel very violent. I want to not feel very violent, and be on my merry way to the World title. What happens when I combine all this together in one neat little package?"
"Imma kick Constantine's teeth down his throat."
I smiled. The first legitimate smile I've had in months. I smiled because I was happy. I was happy to get the opponent to hurt someone, and I had no regrets. Abigail looked worried.
"Okay, Eve. You do what you got to do."
"Thanks, friend. I knew I could count on you to hear me out. Lord knows the voices in my head won't listen."
With that, I finished my coffee Abigail had given me, I grabbed my phone, kissed Abigail on the check goodbye, and set off on my merry way. Whatever I had to deal with in my own mind, and in reality, had to wait, for Constantine was my opponent, and I needed to deal with him. Every frustration; every anger; every bit of hate needed to be given to Constantine, because after him backing Justin Cooper to defeat my Michael for the World title, and sneaking his way up to the top, somebody had to knock him down a peg.
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