Hello Cayle, my old friend.
It’s been too long.
You remember the last time, don’t you?
Of course you do.
How could you ever forget that night?!
A binge that started when you were turned away at the promoter’s door, and ended with blacking-out in a pool of bile, vomit and lost dignity.
Then the cherry on-top: waking in a hospital two days later, being told your heart had stopped, and that you'd "died" for three minutes.
You were no more than a boy back then. A wild, reckless, terrified boy devoid of responsibility and maturity, who buried his problems under pills and poison.
I was with you every step of the way, through bar fights, missed flights and temper tantrums. We were constant companions, Cayle – inseparable, even – and boy, what times we had!
I remember you squandering every opportunity and pissing everything away with petulance, ego and insecurity.
I remember the empty bottles, trashed hotel rooms, blacklistings and your subsequent relegation to the tin-pot indy scene.
You didn’t like that at all, did you? You were Andy Murray’s brother, goddamnit! You deserved better than empty bingo halls and school gymnasiums.
That’s what you told yourself, at least.
But look at you now, Cayle.
You’re one of the most talked-about wrestlers on the North American circuit. People love you, man! You're one of the most popular men in the UTA, and on the current trajectory, it won’t be long before you’re the face of this company.
You’ve grown, Cayle. You’ve found dignity, honour and respect. You stand-up for what you believe in, and you’ll fight your cause until you heart stops.
You’ve become a man, Cayle Murray!
No shortcuts, no cheap shots, no lying, cheating or stealing. Just good old-fashioned hard work, rock-solid moral foundations, and an infallible code of ethics.
It started right here in Japan. No American promotion would touch you after rehab, but that was fine: you wanted a fresh start anyway.
You hopped across the Pacific and rebuilt yourself in the Land of the Rising Sun, far away from the USA’s bright lights. Here was a scene stripped of the theatrics and materialistic trappings of the American scene, where you needn't worry about the rumour mills and gossip columns.
In Japan, you put you head down and wrestled, and it cleansed you, revitalised you.
It took a while, of course. One doesn’t go from hopeless addict to athletic wunderkind overnight. It was a long, hard grind, but you were one of Tokyo Pro’s most popular Gaijin by the time your four-year tenure was over.
You chipped away at your doubters with fire, heart and soul, and you loved every minute.
You didn't need your stimulants any more. Puroresu was your only drug now, and it gave you the grit and guts needed to turn your life around.
Leaving here was a wrench, but the UTA fit you like a glove, and you couldn’t say “no” when they came calling.
But as soon as you arrived, there he was.
You marked the kid as trouble from the first promo, and his actions since have only confirmed it.
Men like Thorpe don’t last long in Japan before being ran out of the country. Puro has it's share of miscreants, sure, but none like this guy.
Nobody poured alcohol at your feet and mocked your addictions in Japan. Nobody attacked you on your way down the ramp, took a steel chair to your ribs or blindsided you in a corridor.
You haven’t dealt with a man like this since you were that man yourself, and that’s why Thorpe gets to you.
He does everything that you used to do, Cayle, but this time, you’re the victim.
The coin’s been flipped and the roles reversed. Colt’s putting you through everything that you once subjected your opponents to, and it doesn’t feel so good, does it?
Your past will always be there, and guys like Thorpe are a constant, unwanted reminder. That haircut, that moustache… that stupid goddamn jacket: all it does is drag you back to the bad old days, and it makes you want to scream.
Colton Thorpe’s taken you to the deep waters, and that’s where I dwell.
All alone in your hotel room with nothing to do but listen to your thoughts. You've been awake almost 24-hours straight, but you won’t be sleeping any time soon, Cayle. Not if I have anything to do with it.
Every little breath sends beacons of blunt pain pulsing through your torso. Thorpe sure did a number on those ribs of yours, and that’s all you’ve thought of since Victory XL. Dane and Thorpe, charging down the ramp, removing your consciousness and forcing your hand. Then, later: chairshot after chairshot after chairshot, ‘til you’re carried away in an ambulance, writhing in agony.
You’ve tried closing your eyes, but it’s no use. The sound of my voice is too loud, and your mind’s racing too fast, and it’s not just because you’re angry: you’re terrified.
You don’t just have to defeat Colton Thorpe at International Affair: you have to defeat me.
I am the devilry that compelled you to trash his Chillin’ With Colt set.
I am the shock that struck you when you pulled that fork from Sektor’s back en route to failing inside that Chamber.
I am the moment’s lapse that distracted your concentration and allowed Thorpe to steal victory in Johannesburg.
I am your demons, flaws, mistakes and failures, and tonight, I have your attention.
Tonight, you’re mine.
You’re trying to break me, I hear you say. Colt’s trying to break me.
You’re right, Cayle, but you can’t just let us win.
You’re the new posterboy, after all. The bright-eyed, clean-cut golden child who came back from the dead and captured the hearts of just about every wrestling fan on the planet.
Certain things are expected of you now. The fans need you to stay strong, because just about the only guy left who’ll put himself second and stand-up for common decency in this fucked-up game. They need their knight in shining armour to stay clean and pristine, because with you, they don’t have a hero.
Colt’s made your blood boil, but you can’t just knock his teeth down his throat or put an arm across his windpipe and choke the life out of him.
If you stoop to that level -- if you let me win -- you’re no better than he is. Everything you’ve worked so hard for is gone, Cayle! You become a a charlatan.
You become the man you used to be. The hero dies, and the failure returns.
As your mind races around your head at 1000mph, you start to wonder if you’re going insane.
The AC’s cranked and the sheets are off the bed, but you’re still sweating like a pig. Your heart’s pounding so strongly that it might soon burst through your banged-up ribs, and there’s not a painkiller strong enough to cure your aching head.
You need a relief: something to cool the flames, calm your nerves and take the pain away.
You need your oldest friend, Cayle, and he’s waiting for you just across the room.
Wobbly legs carry you out of bed and over to the mahogany dressing table. Before you know it you’re removing the decanter’s lid and picking up a crystal glass. You pour a generous measure and close your eyes.
So thoughtful of the hotel to leave liquor in the addict’s room, right?
You’re raising the glass to your mouth. Whisky tingles your nostrils, and it all starts flooding back.
The hangovers, the recoveries, the relapses.
Your darkest days.
Your will starts to tremble as your lips touch crystal and four plus years of sobriety reaches an end.
Do it, you pussy!
Your grip tightens, a lump forms in your throat: you’re tryna fight it, but you know you want it.
You know you need it.
Take a sip of that sweet, sweet nectar and let all your worries fade away.
You knock your head back.
No, you say. Not like this!
Then the glass flies from your hand. The scotch that could’ve been your salvation dribbles down the wall towards the shattered glass on the floor.
You collapse into a crumpled heap.
Well done, pussy.
You won this round, but the battle rages on.
The next few hours pass like a blur.
Not quite conscious but not quite asleep, the trance is only broken when a fists chaps thrice on the door connecting this room with the next.
“Morning,” a familiar voice calls. “You decent?”
Andy takes your grunted response in the affirmative, opens the door, and brings his 6’7” frame into your room.
His appearance is a stark contrast to the dishevelled mess that you’re in. The hair’s slicked sideways, the jawline’s clean, and the clothes are immaculate.
Andy, the consummate professional.
Your father’s favourite son: a bastion of class and humility that who you’ve spent most of your life aspiring to emulate.
He takes one look at you and his face creases with surprises. “Jesus, Cayle: have you even slept?” he asks.
You rub two fists into your eyes, trying to shake the grog away before mustering a response, but he doesn’t give you that opportunity. Whisky fumes hit his nostrils, and he clocks the open decanter.
“What the hell?” he asks, picking-up the lid. The look on his face – part rage, part disbelief – jolts you like lightning.
This man brought you into the business. He put his own reputation on the line and went to bat for you more times than you ever deserved. It was him who paid you way through rehab, and put a roof over your head and warm food in your stomach whenever you fell on hard times.
If there’s one person that you can’t afford to let down, it’s Andy.
If only I had a face to grin with, Cayle, I’d be doing my best Cheshire Cat right now. Things are about to get interesting.
“Tell me you didn’t do this, Cayle,” he says in a sour tone and rising decibel. “Tell me you did—“
“No” you cut him off. Panic kicks-in. “Andy, it’s not how it loo—“
“’Not how it looks?!’ Jesus, Cayle!” He puts the top down and shakes his head.
“Andy, I didn’t drink it!” you tell him, almost shouting. “Look!”
You throw a pointed finger towards the broken glass and the whisky-drenched carpet. The wallpaper’s already starting to stain.
“I swear on our parents’ graves, man,” you say. Andy’s head bolts round. Nothing’s more sacred to you two than the memories of those who brought you into the world.
He knows you wouldn’t use their names in vain.
He trusts you.
You run your hands through your hair and close your eyes. The pain in your ribs flares-up for a moment. “It’s just…” you begin, but your words tail-off and it takes a few moments to regain composure. “It’s Colt. I can’t stand this guy, mate. He’s driving me insane.”
A long sigh escapes Andy’s lips. “So you’re letting him win?”
“No, it’s not tha—“
“Yes, Cayle, it’s exactly that,” he says in a tone you haven’t heard in years. “This is exactly what he wants. He wants to dig-up the skeletons in your closet and lower yourself to his level, because that’s how he beats you on Sunday night, Cayle! That’s how he wins!”
You don’t argue: you just sit there and listen.
“I can guarantee you that he wants nothing to do with a fit and focused Cayle Murray, but you’re playing into his hands! You can’t win like this, lad, and you’re only making his job easier.” He pauses, shaking his head. “I sure as hell didn’t come all this way across the world to watch my baby brother give up like this.”
He sees through everything, Andy: always has, always will.
The man’s not without his own flaws, but he can see the old Cayle re-emerging. He sees the warning signs and your old traits rearing their ugly heads again, and he won’t stand for it.
He is the angel on your shoulder, and he won’t let this devil win.
“… and the worst thing?” He continues. “You already know all this.”
You do know all this, Cayle: but you’ve already let me inside, and I’m not going down without a fight.
“I’m not perfect, Andy,” you say sombrely.
“You don’t have to be perfect, lad” His brow tightens, and he folds his arms across his barrel chest. “You have to be Kalen Alexander Murray.”
The big guy steps towards the window and flicks the blinds open. The morning’s too dull to be blinding, but the daylight shakes you into life.
“Look at this place,” Andy says. You get-up from your pit and join him. “13 million people crammed into one giant sardine tin.”
It was a hazy morning, but the view still stretched for miles from your 41st-floor viewpoint. Tokyo: an endless, twisting concrete jungle, brimming with life, colour and culture. Despite everything else, it felt good to be back.”
“60,000 of those people are gonna fill the Tokyo Dome on Monday, Cayle, and a huge portion of them are gonna be there to see you. You’ve probably wrestled more matches here than anyone else in the UTA, period, but now you’re gonna leave all these people disappointed. Is that what you want?”
“Of course not.”
“I know it’s a lot of pressure,” Andy continues. “I know exactly how he makes you feel, because I’ve been there a dozen times before, lad. But you have to rise above. You have to get your head back in the game and be the Cayle Murray that everyone loves, admires and respects, or this guy’s gonna make an example of you.”
He turns back to the glass and runs a hand over the cityscape.
“Get your mind right and you’ll be the king of this city on Monday, but if you don’t? You’ll leave a pauper.” He puts a firm hand on your shoulder and stares into your eyes – into my eyes – and I feel your strength growing.
I feel your confidence return, and your willpower build.
I feel the new Cayle Murray – the UTA’s Cayle Murray. The unbending, unbreakable upholder of all that’s still good, honest and pure in the wrestling business.
My voice fades, my pulse slows...
My powers are waning.
“Don’t let that happen, Cayle,” Andy says. “See you downstairs in 20.”
Your brother takes his leave and disappears back into his room.
You let out a long, deep breath.
I thought I had you, Cayle, but you’re stronger than I thought.
As you stay gazing across Tokyo, a smile finds its way onto your face for the first time in days. Just as the sun fights through the morning’s gray skies, you’ll burn through the clouds of doubt, uncertainty and insecurity and emerge brighter than ever before.
You can’t afford to be the old Cayle Murray again. You can’t afford to be the man Colton Thorpe wants you to be, because if you are, then it's all for nothing.
Rehab? Recovery? Japan? The UTA?
Might as well throw the last four years straight in the trash.
This is a battle I cannot win.
Thorpe may yet defeat you, but you will not defeat yourself.
I will not defeat you.
I start moving away from you, step-by-step, until you can no longer hear the sound of my voice.
Farewell, Cayle. ‘Till we meet again.
"I am more than just a pair of tits with a wicked snap front kick."
- Alex Beckman