Whatever the case and despite how much the fans might despise it, no one could deny the impact CBR had had on the business - and this was his Rocky Balboa moment. Emerging from the chaos of Ring King with a victory over the popular Arab, sinking the dream of that fanciful return, Claude was back and he had no problem in telling the world.
From the embarrassment of tapping out to Alex Beckman - something he had expected more fuss and fanfare to be made of by his peers - to failing to grasp the briefcase at Ace in the Hole, it had been difficult for The Canadian Star. And now with his old friend Sean Jackson turning his back on over a year of family...it seemed like rock bottom. Far from it...
The sound of a rusty tap turning fills the scene as it fades into view, a sequence of lockers surrounding a couple of wooden benches, each partitioned by a metal bar with hooks as makeshift clothes hangers. The floor, cold and slippery reflects the glare of the artificial light, as the water stops running and the sound of wet footsteps is heard carefully working their way round a corner. A changing room, a gym; empty - all for the privacy of the Canadian Star.
Into view, Claude Baptiste Ranier appears, the droplets of water creeping down his solid, muscular chest, one arm bent showing off the considerable physique of his biceps to hold the generous white towel in place around his mid-section. The abdomen, as if cut from granite with its flawless definition, protrudes above the material as the former Legacy Champion's hair hangs wet and loose down to his shoulders framing the image of perfection. Approaching the camera, Claude administers the remnants of a smile, lost in what is obviously a mildly frustrated countenance.
CBR: Oh, don't mind me; I was just busy sculpting. It's not every day you achieve the most victories in the history of the UTA - amidst all the chaos, CBR still breaks records.
Claude lifts his free arm an inch, twisting it to reveal large triceps then back around as if to accentuate the point, before turning his back to the camera and withdrawing the towel to dry himself off, dabbing at his arms and down over his chest.
CBR: I know what you're all thinking; you're waiting for a reaction. To what happened on Wrestleshow; I'm not blind. Suffice to say, on twenty first of July twenty fourteen, it was I who reached out to Perfection and Sean Jackson to make history together at Ring King that year and today it is I who stand alone with my new brothers.
The towel finishes its work on his front and is circled round to the back, using his forearms to pull it back and forth, drying Ranier's spine and down over the curvature.
CBR: I started this family. I am sure in the coming weeks the defection of Sean Jackson will be addressed but for the time being I have a few words for that classless son of a bitch...
Claude drops the towel onto the bench, opening his locker and withdrawing some clothes. Slipping on a pair of pants he turns to face the camera, sitting on the edge of the bench and lifting one ankle onto the opposing knee to pull on a sock, pausing a moment to look into the lens.
CBR: Sean, thank you for your efforts in MY vision. Thank you for being there at the beginning, building an empire with me. Thank you for your part in carving our names in the stone. You're services though, are no longer needed.
Ranier flicks his eyes back down, finishing with the sock then raising the other ankle up and repeating the process, lifting the light blue cotton and slipping it over his toes.
CBR: Thank you for everything, but here's the truth; you were always the let down, the charity case Sean. We put the World Title on you - and make no mistake, WE put the world title on you - because we knew it would sell. The mighty Sean Jackson with the World Title around his waist made money for us all - the ever willing disciple.
He finishes with his feet and places them back on the floor, over the towel carefully laid out before him. Claude sirs for a moment, his elbows on his lap as he runs his fingers through his hair before looking back up and at the camera.
CBR: But losing to Will Haynes is simply unacceptable, let alone twice - taking six months to roll around with an old man with back aches, purple hair and arthritis - Eduardo had to clean up your mess. Which brings me to another one of your past failures Sean that last week I had to sweep under the proverbial carpet.
Ranier reaches into the locker and from a hanger withdraws a light blue cotton shirt. He places his arms through their sleeves and turns back to the camera, fingers playing over the buttons.
CBR: On eighteenth of May twenty fourteen, a young Arab named Abdul Ahad shocked the world by pinning Sean Jackson cleanly. Fast forward a year and four months, CBR silenced the upstart. Sean was world champion at the time, something my friend...you will never again be.
Ranier slowly walks to the side of the bench, the buttons slipping into their holes as he works his way down, taking a seat on the corner of the wood.
CBR: I understand Sean, you simply aren't good enough and that's ok. I mean, only Lew Smith and Hussain have lost more matches than you, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before you collapsed. Whilst from ending one upstart Claude Baptiste Ranier is poised in a match befitting his stature in the world of wrestling.
He finishes doing up the buttons on his shirt and uses his palms to flatten out any creases against his chest and arms before standing and reaching back into the locker for a pair of chalk stripe trousers. Using his elbow to steady himself against the metal bar, Claude slips one foot into its leg then the other, pulling the fabric up to his waist.
CBR: After beating icons, legends, breaking records and changing the world, the brass gives me something unforgettable this week, a war for the ages. They gave me...Mitchell Quinlan? Twenty victories in a year and a half and I get the on-again off-again phantom princess who couldn't get past FKA...
Ranier slowly shakes his head as he walks slowly back around the bench, pushing the black leather belt end into its buckle and fastening it in place. He sits down on the wood, honest eyes wide and looking for answers from the dead screen.
CBR: That's right, I remember you Mitchell. I remember you well. What an honour it is to be going against the man who main evented the first ever Victory! A show now teaming with talent, some of the biggest home grown UTA and outsider stars. Selling out shows all over the world! You were there Mitchell! It's all down to you!
The smirk starts to grow on the callous face of the Canadian Star as he retrieves an onyx and platinum cuff link and starts pressing his shirt cuffs together, twisting the handles through the holes and dropping it into position.
CBR: What a big night, the only match on the card in front of a few dozen people...and, well;
The smile disappears to a disapproving look as Claude stops what he's doing and addresses the camera.
CBR: You lost Quinlan. You lost to a DDT. And then, so momentous was your debut, you were withdrawn from television. But that was then, wasn't it Mitchell? That was a different time. A lot can change in a year...and when you came back, well, what a REAL impact.
Ranier's expression softens again as he takes the second cuff link and eases it into place.
CBR: You came back, didn't you...and beat Cecilworth Farthington. The man full of promise, an invader from the North East, poised for success, to make a name for himself; and you Mitchell, or should I say Sanctus, you made him run away with Mike "Daddy Issues" Best. What a feat...the man who defeated MVC and Lew Smith humbled by the White Knight.
Claude feigns surprise and awe, his jaw opening up wide as he shakes his head in astonishment.
CBR: And then the legendary Amy Harrison and the runt of Team Danger and people were talking about the newcomer Sanctus. There was a real buzz Mitchell, a real energy in the air. So where...honestly I'm curious; where did it all go so, so wrong?
He stands slowly from his seated position, looking back at the lens as he makes his way to the locker once more, retrieving his suit jacket. Ranier slings it delicately over his shoulders he slips his feet into polished black shoes.
CBR: Was it those two average outsiders Eric Dane and Bronson Box?
Claude quickly leans in at the camera with a wink
CBR: ...who, incidentally my good friend Kendrix destroyed...
Re-steadying himself, he places the suit jacket on the corner of the bar, taking a small tub of hair wax and twisting the lid.
CBR: Was it the Chamber? Or that little tirade on Twitter? Or maybe it was because Cayle Murray and Colton Thorpe simply ignored you in their little undercard dark matches war? I mean ouch, I can't imagine how that would feel - flicked away like dust off a shoulder, a little annoyance for two jobbers trying to take their first steps on the UTA ladder.
Claude looks at the camera a moment with an 'o' being formed by his lips silently, as if reacting to the insult adorned on the little White Knight. He carefully scoops a small glob of wax with his index finger and walks to the mirror, leaning forward and generously applying the compound to his hair.
CBR: And so, forgotten, beaten and buried, the mighty Mitchell Quinlan returns after the abject failure of the Sanctus project and no one cared.
Ranier styles his hair away from his face, still concentrating on the mirror rather than the camera, using his fingers to lift and lower loose strands and straighten it back over his head.
CBR: Am I painting a picture? Are you getting the message?
Claude inspects his work, before turning the tap and washing his hands before twisting it back into place, returning his body to face the camera and walking slowly back to his jacket perched idly on the changing room bench.
CBR: It's not your fault Quinlan. You didn't ask for this match. For whatever reason, the powers that be seek to punish you, to strip you of that wonderful momentum you earned against a crack-pipe-pimp straight outta Compton and the archive books. But imagine for one second Mitchell, close your eyes and imagine what a victory against the Canadian Star could do for your career...
Ranier closes his eyes, lifts his head and breathes in slowly and audibly through his nose. His hand resting on the top of his jacket, pensive expression as if mind deep in thought.
CBR: The crowd cheering, Blackfront shouting Oh my God over and over. A win over the longest reigning champion in modern day history. Over the man with the most wins this business has seen, the founding member of Dynasty, the greatest technical athlete in the industry today.
He slowly opens his eyes, looking back at the camera, taking the jacket from its spot and slipping his arms in before doing up one button and slipping his hands into his trouser pockets.
CBR: You can open your eyes now Quinlan, that's it, look back into my face. Did you see it? Could you smell it? Taste it? Good. Because that's the closest you will ever come to beating the Canadian Star. In your dreams kid...see you next Monday for a dose of reality.
The grim curls up on Claude's lips as he backs away. A few steps walking backwards before turning from the camera and exiting the changing rooms, the quiet hum of a fan and the droplets of water the only sounds framing that dream...