V/O: “And here I am. Again.”
My feet dangled over the edge of the Sapphire Princess, as I sat there and just looked out over the calming waters while the rest of the ship is in a hustle. My back to my friend who no doubt had started rolling with her camera. April - A film student, a friend, and basically my manager who is too camera shy to be a onscreen manager. One of the lucky three hundred or so aboard the ship. People may argue against that but at least like myself she is a fan of the sport and thus watching in the seats, even tonight.
Soon in no less than thirty minutes the UTA will start recording Proving Grounds. An event I am quite familiar with, having defended my Prodigy Championship there on occasion and enjoying the crowd of loyal followers of the UTA.
And yet, here I am again. Time to get to it.
I spun around, legs over the ledge inwards, and smiled for the camera. One thing about me that remained true was when I showed my emotion, it was never fake. Never.
“Just three weeks ago I faced La Flama Blanca for his UTA World Championship. I brought him everything I had, and he delivered everything he had. It was a great match, and heck I enjoyed every minute of it except for those final seconds. Where-” I slammed my fist into my open palm. “Boom! That boot of his connected and it was over. As it always is for any of his opponents.”
“You gave it your all, Zhal.” April added for my ego boost. At least most likely.
“I did. But, here I am again. Next week I am part of a fourway elimination match to determine new number one contenders at International Affair.” I held out my hand and extended a finger for each name as I list them off, “Quinlan, Scott Stevens, Perfection. A interesting group as we all were here since 2014, except of course Scott Stevens.”
“Indeed.” I answered with a smirk to April as I closed my hands and placed them on my lap. “He was in the UTA in 2014 but after his first match would not be seen here for nearly a year. Still, he was here in 2014.” It was a stretch to include him as from 2014 but to make sense of what I was saying, I saw no reason to alter that thought.
“Had no idea.”
“Me either honestly but it was before my own time. Perfection though, we all know. Former champion. Former Dynasty leader. As that is what Dynasty really is. A group of great wrestlers, led by whomever has the most gold and power. Case in point today it is La Flama Blanca.” With a shrug I leaned back on my palms and looked up at the nearly clear blue skies. “And by chance if Eric Dane somehow comes out on top and Sean does not try and cash in, but Claude beats John for the Legacy Championship, you will see CBR as the new leader of the group. It is what it is, and we all just have to accept this. For now.”
“Still, you got some interesting opponents for the pay per view, Zhal. Hell that Stevenson guy escaped from Alcatraz island and somehow won a World Championship. Instead of being tossed back in.”
I laughed as April just looked at me with confusion.
“Sorry April, dear. It was not that he escaped, as that place has not been in use in forever but he did win the championship of that Chicago promotion where those Machine guys are from, like John Sektor and that mister microphone wannabe Mike Best.” With a smirk I continued, “Which is where Scott just put their entire roster on notice as the top dog. Gotta respect that.”
And truth was, I did. While I never personally had seen any of Stevenson’s matches before he came in at Black Horizon, I had seen them since. Like a good girl I had done my research into my opponents. Something I learned from my friends last year, and continue to do so. You have to know what you are getting into after all.
If you do not, well. Just look at the past...
Much like my first multi-person match here. A ladder match for contendership shot. That hardly went my way. The four way I won against three of UTA’s largest competitors to win my first title. Ever. Was the only time that really worked out for me. Not even Ring King for the Ace in the Hole which I was so close but Sean Jackson pulled that one out in the end. Or several weeks ago where Kendrix beat myself and Abdul.
And here I am again. Here. Multi-man match up. A match type that I just have not had that much luck with in the past. The only time was when a championship title was on the line. It seemed my pre-research only worked out when focusing on on person, much like my own matches.
I need to change that. I need to.
“Any idea?” April had been talking as my mind replayed those moments of the past. The glorious moments but also those learning moments. “Zhal?”
“Sorry,” and I said it with sincerity as I was, “you were saying?”
“Asking,” she added with a shake of her head, “what about Quinlan? And Perfection?”
“Quinlan-” I stopped and tilted my head a bit to the right, looking directly down the barrel of April’s camcorder. Yeah, for some reason she chose to haul that around instead of her phone or tablet. “I miss Sanctus. Quinlan is still Sanctus of course. A mask does not create the hero, after all.”
“Is he though? A hero, I mean?”
I shrugged at the question, “I dunno. I mean, he still does what is right. He has not fallen into the trap that is Dynasty. The Truth only partly won. And he has had a decent run here in the UTA so far. Wins and losses. You know me April, I can not compare those.”
Laughing I popped off the side of the ship as one of the crew approached. His face curled with that constipation look. I knew that look. I got the look from the guys when I showed up at Victory in my hometown, because well it was my home, and I wanted to be there… Eric Dane’s constipation face looks a lot like Bobby Dean’s KFC stuffed face. Curiously creepy.
“And Perfection. This is where it gets good, April dear.” I leaned back against the side and looked at the barrel once more, “Does it, Perfection? It does. See, I know you. I know the way you think. And while I am still aching to get my hands on Sean Jackson, and I will one day, you are no different. Dynasty always got their way with Wingate, and anybody in charge.” I grinned and mouthed ‘truth’ before continuing. “You must be looking at this four way elimination match as some sort of joke. After all, you are a former UTA World Champion, right? Something we had in common, and still do really. We both had to give up our Championships at All or Nothing, and were unable to leave with them. Of course you took that Wildfire Championship. And got suspended and stripped.”
And that is where things truly got odd with Perfection. And who am I to not remember the finer moments?
“Remember that, Perfection? Remember when you were stripped of your title and suspended, then returned at Victory? You attacked Lamond who just won the number one contendership for the Prodigy Championship, that very title I made and held dear bucko, and you were fuming at the lungs.” I just leaned there and stared forward. Trying not to laugh, which was difficult given the circumstance. “Fuming, man. Like a dragon ready to let loose. Veins popping. Yelling out to the audience and anybody that would listen that you were the real Prodigy Champion, and not Ron Hall.”
“Did he ever-” April started to ask but I cut her off. Which I admit was a bit rude.
“Nope. And that is what makes it all that much weirder. Right, Perfection? You were so persistent and believing the words being spewed out of your mouth, and yet your focus should have been on the Wildfire Championship. And it was, few weeks later after we had not seen you for awhile yet again.” I shook my head and pointed forward, “and you got that back, without even having to wrestle. Only to lose it several weeks later in your first defense against Pin Smith, where you tapped out. Perfection, what was the point?”
Truth was, maybe, deep down inside, I actually agreed with Mister Wingate’s decision back then. To be suspended likely means that the title can not be defended so should be released from that hold, but at the same point if someone fought hard for it, it seems unfair. Then again, I was never up for the idea that he was just handed it again. Did he deserve the Wildfire? Yes. But, it should have been through a contested match.
“Truth of the matter is Perfection, look at it like this. If you wind up eliminated first, you get that shot at your championship title you so wanted, oh so badly!” I smiled and broke into a fit of laughter. April joined me off camera which caused some attention to go out way from the various crew working on prepping the show. i know though if some of my colleagues were around and not preparing for their matches, they would have got a kick out of that too. “Just saying it like it is, Perfection.”
“Hey!” I cast my eyes over to the right of April where a familiar face stood, arms crossed with clipboard over his chest, the ring crew's lead and no doubt under some heavy pressure tonight - Sydney Parker. “You need to get over to the set with the rest. And you lady, the only reason you are on this ship with Ms. Fears is to be a person in the audience, so get your ass over there pronto. We need those seats filled when the cameras go live.”
I smiled and gave him a nod as he walked off in a huff, and then I refocused forward.
“Just one week guys. For once you can honestly say there is no loser coming out of this match. To say so would be to disgrace the Championship and its Champion, no matter which one it is. Of course, sights are always to the top.” I raised my head and tilted back, looking upwards once more. “Way up top. The stratosphere. That UTA World Championship,” I reached up with my left arm and grabbed for the stars, no longer visible, “my dream. And I am going to find my way there again. International Affair is a fine nudge up that mountain to the top of the summit.”
I lowered my arms and looked back forward at the camera for one final thought. Or rather, statement.
“I will be the UTA World Champion. And to get there, I will go through you boys. as my eyes are on that one, ultimate prize. Come Sunday, consider this woman focused and grateful.”
My grinning face would be the final thing seen while April did a slow, dramatic effect style zoom in. Quite the artist she is, and in a week I planned to make my own art as I outlast the other three and find myself in the ring for that championship title one more time.
Here I am again.
And it is a place that I am all too familiar with.
After International Affair, I will no longer be here.
I will be on my way there.
Where I belong.
"Do not be too cocky, as their are many people here in the UTA that do not know how to handle the cocky!"
- Mikey Unlikely