The screen fades up to a darkened room. A single light shines down and we see the Armani-clad veteran, "Too Cool" Chris Hopper standing with his hands clasped in front of him and a congenial look on his face.
Hopper: When you have been around as long as I have there are new responsibilities you take on. Some of them are easy and others will, if I must be utterly honest, grate on you.
He pauses with a smirk and then the congenial look returns as he continues.
Hopper: This falls under one of those. You see as someone who has been doing this for half of my life, I now have a responsibility to ensure the next generation is ready to take up the mantle.
He unclasps his hand and begins gesturing a little as he speaks. In all honesty, Chris may not be able to speak clearly if he didn't have full use of his hands.
Hopper: Truth be told, it was the main reason I was signed by UTA. They saw me as a great veteran hand to help bring young guys up and I saw it as my last shot in the big time.
Hopper: Overall I think it has worked out for both of us, and while men like me generally despise working with the next generation because it usually means being replaced by them.....I have taken it upon myself to fulfill this role.
He cocks his head slightly to the left and almost chuckles.
Hopper: Why do you think I get so many matches against young guys that the fans adore? It sure as hell isn't because I'm teasing a flip in attitude all the time.
He laughs a little, but then composes himself almost comically fast and continues.
Hopper: This Wrestleshow is another of those opportunities....Quinlan. So let's talk, Sanctus, or whatever you really want to be called...
Hopper: This week we will square off in the ring and I will test you to your limits. You see in order to be someone the future can see as a champion in UTA, you have to be able to handle yourself in the ring and outside of it.
He holds up a finger, wagging it as if to say no.
Hopper: Don't ever let anyone say this business is easy. It has a cost. In fact, I had a discussion about this just a few days ago when I was visiting my parents for my birthday.
He reaches into his jacket breast pocket and pulls out a small, remote control.
Hopper: I had security cameras put in their place years ago, so I figured I'd show you the latest installment of "Why, son?" for your enjoyment. It will open your eyes to the true cost of this thing we have chosen....
Chris holds up a remote and clicks a button, sending the screen into static.
The screen switches form static and it is in a "hidden camera" style of shot. Almost as if this is from a security camera feed. We see a kitchen table, almost as if set in an old "Dukes of Hazard" setting. There are old looking cabinets all around the room that are more off-white colored and dimmed form their original luster. The table cloth is an old-time red and white checkerboard scheme that completes the old country view of this room. There is a large amount of food on the table, which has 4 chairs set around it. Everything from mashed potatoes and gravy to fried chicken. We hear voices as people are walking towards the kitchen.
MAN: I just don't understand why you went back, son. You know you're forty-one now.
Two men round the corner and we see it is "Too Cool" Chris Hopper and his father, a man in his early 60's, heading toward the table continuing their conversation.
Hopper: I missed it Dad. I missed it more than I ever thought I would.
Dad: Seems to me that you are never yourself when you get in front of people Chris. You get arrogant to the point of being obnoxious. You know that was always what those people said about you before you retired.
Chris drops his head as he sits down, visibly upset.
Hopper: I know.
Dad: You know they said the same things in high school about you too. They said you had too much swagger and you were too big for your britches. I once heard people joke that your football helmet had to be specially ordered to fit your oversized ego.
Hopper lets out a feigned laugh, but no smile is visible on his face.
Hopper: That is why I wanted to come back Dad. I wanted to prove that....
Dad: (interrupting) I know you wanted to prove that you could back up your talk. I have seen this in your before son. I love you, and I would hate for you to be disappointed at this stage of your life when you could be settling down and having a normal life.
I larger woman that looks to be in her mid-50's walks into the room. She is wearing an apron and has a smile on her face. She leans down and kisses Hopper on the cheek.
Mom: I know more grandchildren would be nice.
Chris rolls his eyes at yet ANOTHER mention of more Grandchildren.
Hopper: I think you have your hands full the ones you have already. Or is two from me and two from my sister not enough?
Mom: The more the merrier I say! And one of them we did just meet last year for the first time after he was already grown! We want to spoil grandchildren, not just see them every so often.
Hopper's Mom starts pouring drinks as the conversation continues.
Dad: Are you happy son?
Hopper: Yeah I am.
Dad: I mean really happy. Are you happy that you see your daughter only a couple of days every month? Or the reason behind the fact that you never met your son until he was eighteen? What about the fact that you risk paralysis every time you step in the ring because of your neck injury from years ago? You don't think this has passed you by at all son?
Hopper sits there very quietly, brooding over his answer. Finally he turns to look at his father.
Hopper: Yes. I'm happier than I have been in a long while.
Mr. Hopper points at Chris' neck and the veteran yanks away with an annoyed look.
Hopper: The neck is fine, I had several doctors run test after test to make sure it was strong enough and I passed with flying colors. That's not an issue and you know the reason I don't see my daughter is her mother and not my schedule. Jenn has made it clear that she wants me to have nothing to do with her, but she's all too glad to take my child support check every month. And Dylan? Well wrestling brought us together in the first place so it is hard to fault the business for that.
He pauses, seeming in contemplation.
Hopper: As far as the game passing me by? Ask some of the guys who I have taken it to this past year and see if it has passed me by. I may not be what I was at age twenty-eight, but I'm still a top performer. This is who I am Dad. I've loved wrestling ever since you took me to those small shows at the high school when I was a kid.
Hopper's Dad starts laughing, remembering those trips.
Dad: I remember you yelled so loud at those wrestlers you were hoarse for days after.
Hopper: I loved it not just for the athletics and glory, but because it was the first thing I ever truly got to enjoy with you. I had a pure love of the sport and the business. All I have ever wanted to do was make you and Mom proud of me.
Chris' Mom reaches and hugs her son before sitting down at the table.
Mom: You do Chris...every day you find new reasons to make us proud.
Hopper: Thanks Mom and thanks for cooking today.
Mom: Don't mention it, honey. I love it when either of my babies are home.
Chris' Father pokes his arm to get his attention.
Dad: Son, listen to me please. I worry about your health, but if you say you've had it checked out then I'm behind you all the way. Just promise you won't take unnecessary risks or trust the wrong people.
Hopper: I won't Dad. I promise.
Dad: Ok then....I'll say grace.
As the Hopper family takes each other's hands to say prayer over the food, the screen fades to snow.
And then back to Hopper standing in a hall of mirrors.
Hopper: That is what it takes Quinlan. That is what it means to be one of the top men in this business. This Wrestleshow you get the chance to start filling in the blanks that truly matter. We already know some....
Hopper: Hell, the fans know enough that they seem to like what you do out there. That kind of charisma is hard to teach....believe me I have tried....
He makes a disgusted face.
Hopper: Ever heard of Larry Gionet? The guy was cardboard.....anyway....
He shakes it off.
Hopper: You have the ability to connect with the fans, and I respect that. But now we will find out what you can really do in the ring. I watched you face off against Harrison, but Amy doesn't stand six-feet, eight inches tall....and doesn't weigh nearly two-hundred and ninety pounds.
He adjusts his suit coat to look more imposing in it.
Hopper: Quinlan, I like you. And win or lose at Wrestleshow, if you fight like a man and give everything you got without resorting to cheating.....I'll respect you. This is a test, my friend. It's a test for both of us.
He grins again.
Hopper: For me it is a test to continually see if I can keep up with all of you younger guys in the squared circle.
He points toward the camera.
Hopper: For you, it is a test whether or not you even belonged here at all. I'm the measuring stick, my boy. Remember my last match against somebody in his debut?
He nods slyly.
Hopper: His roster spot was open the next morning. I have a good feeling about you, Quinlan. I look forward to the test we have between us at Wrestleshow. I look forward to finding out just who you really are.
He clasps his hands in front of himself again and actually winks.
Hopper: And may the best man win.
The screen quickly goes black.