I was in hell for three days.
As much as you say you won’t let it get to you, as much as you promise not to sulk and feel upset – defeat can be crushing.
Particularly defeats like this.
I am a living manifestation of everything Colton Thorpe hates in this world. He’ll tell anyone who’ll listen: International Affair’s only gonna make him louder, and winning’s only gonna make him worse.
In his eyes, winning justifies everything. The abuse, ambushes and assaults. Every moment of humiliation, disrespect and slander. All the dastardly deeds committed over the course of our gruelling five month rivalry are vindicated, because they were committed on the road to victory.
Now he’s destined to repeat these acts – and worse – on whoever crosses his path. Why wouldn’t he? Thorpe thinks he’s cracked the formula, and this is the way to behave for him to succeed in this business. It’s the only way he knows, and it’s done nothing but work for him so far.
As the prizes grow bigger and the stakes higher, his actions will escalate. What’s left of his soul will disappear into the ether, and we’ll have another megalomaniac on our hands, another sociopath.
Another Eric Dane.
But I could’ve stopped it.
Defeat takes Thorpe down a different path. He’s forced to re-evaluate and reconsider. In the face of failure, Colt looks at his actions through a different lens. He questions the path he’s taking, and starts wondering if he’s made the right choices. His journey to madness slows, or maybe even halts completely…
But I couldn’t get it done.
“So the bad guy won.”
Running through your own shortcomings in front of the world isn’t easy, but it’s time to let it out.
“My goal eluded me. I stood against my greatest adversary in the biggest match of my career, and I fell short. I lost.”
The thought was crippling, and it haunted me for days.
Distressed and downtrodden, I drifted through the days following International Affair an empty vessel. Such a huge match, such high stakes. Such pressure and expectation. Such a momentous, career-defining moment, and I’ll go down as the loser.
Not good enough.
“Colton Thorpe and I are vastly different men with vastly different methods, and on the night, his was stronger than mine. Congratulations, champ…”
I pinned all my hopes and dreams on beating Colt, and I lost. I’d not just let myself down, but my friends, family, and anyone who’d ever worn my name on a t-shirt or tuned-in to watch me wrestle.
I disappeared down a dark, dark hole.
Started wondering if maybe Colt was right. Maybe I’m not made for the upper reaches of this business. Maybe I can’t survive in the wrestling game’s deepest waters.
Maybe I should’ve just let myself die in that motel room all those years ago.
“I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support they’ve given me in this war, and apologise to anyone who I’ve left disappointed by what happened in Tokyo. You deserve better than Colton Thorpe as Wildfire Champion, and none of you should have to deal with the chaos he’s about to brew in this aftermath.”
Of course I knew how ridiculous I was being, but I’m not a robot. I can’t be cold and stoic in defeat but jubilant and joyous in victory. I’m a human being, driven by the same emotions and insecurities as anybody else, and yeah, sometimes defeat gets to me.
I hurt because I pour my heart and soul into this business.
I feel bad because I care.
“But I refuse to be a man defined by the bad times. I don’t wanna have any regrets when I’m looking back at my career twenty years from now. When people talk about me, I don’t want them to talk about the times I fell down, but the times I got back up again…”
These things take time, but I’ve come to terms with it now. Defeat takes you places and teaches you things that victory cannot, but you can’t let the negative feelings stew for too long. You’ve gotta learn how to bounce back. How to grow.
You can’t lick your wounds forever. Sooner or later, you’ve gotta let them heal.
“B.R. Ellis, it’s a pleasure to meet you. No doubt you’re probably looking at me right now wondering what kinda state I’m in, mentally and physically. You’ve been around, lad. You’ve seen the things Colt put me through, you’ve watched the marathon war of attrition we waged on Sunday night. I’d never accuse you of overlooking me – never – but you’d be forgiven for assuming that maybe I’m a little fragile, maybe I’m a little banged-up…”
Here I go.
“Let me set the record straight.”
It’s late, and the gym’s all but cleared-out for the day. Andy’s still scurrying around somewhere – it’s his place, after all – but otherwise, I’ve got the place to myself.
I’m freshly showered after my first post-International Affair workout. My limbs hair’s combed, my t-shirt’s fresh and I feel more relaxed than I have in weeks.
“I’ve just lost the biggest match of my career to a man I cannot stand, who’s terrorised and tormented me like a playground bully since the day I got here. Physically, I went into the match with busted ribs and competing’s only set my recovery back a few more weeks. My left shoulder’s not working as well as it did before the match, and I feel a little twang in my knee every time I kick the heavy bag.”
You don’t compete in a match like that and not emerge with a few war wounds, but that’s the job. We put our bodies through hell on a daily basis: the damage is just something you have to deal with.
“But I’m not weakened, lad. Not by a long shot.”
The fire’s coming back now. I feel it spark-up in my belly, and spread through the rest of my body.
“I’ve swam down shit creek, but I’ve come out clean.
I’ve stared into the eyes of defeat and found redemption.
I’ve swallowed the bitter pill.
I’m focused, B.R. I’m driven. I’m ready.”
My younger self would’ve drowned in this defeat, but I’ve learned how to turn positive into negative. The last half decade of my life has been one big rencovery story, and I won’t get stuck moping and feeling sorry for myself.
Cayle Murray, the wrestler, has met many defeats.
But Cayle Murray, the man, will never be defeated.
“You’re a mighty fine competitor, B.R., and you conduct yourself with dignity. At Victory, I owe you nothing less than the strongest version of myself, and that’s exactly what you’re gonna get.”
Thank you, Colton Thorpe, for making me stronger.
“Every moment of depression, stress and anxiety: I’m channelling all of ‘em next Monday. I’m using them as building blocks for a better future, and in the ashes of this defeat, I’ll be reborn. This match has taught me more about myself than any other, and it hasn’t weakened me: it’s made me better.”
The low blows make me better.
The Thorpedo made me better.
Falling from the tower made me better.
Losing made me better.
As the clouds of doubt and self-loathing cleared, I found clarity. I found the tools to toughen my resolve and strengthen my will for future battles. Every misstep is a blessing, ever error is a gift, because I know I’ll do all I can to never make them again.
“You’re getting the rebound. It’ll be Cayle Murray, fully-charged and cranked-up to ten! I’m ready to get out there, put on a show, and show the world that my head doesn’t stay in negative spaces for long. The disappointment is all for a better cause, and it’s not just about proving I haven’t lost a step.
It’s about standing for something. It’s about fighting for a better tomorrow. It’s about standing-up to the bullies of this company, and embodying the change I want to see in the UTA.
I can’t do any of that unless I’m at my best, and that’s exactly what I have to be on Monday.”
The bandages under my shirt itch a little, but I don’t want to stop when I’m rolling.
“I’ll respect you from bell-to-bell, Mr. Ellis. I’ll shake your hand before and after, and give you one hell of a fair fight in-between. I ask nothing but the same in-return, and I know that’s exactly what you’re gonna bring.”
This guy’s probably just as determined as I am, and if you were as overlooked as B.R. Ellis I’d imagine you’d be the same.
Poor lad barely gets a mention when Victory’s biggest and brightest are mentioned, and I know he’ll see this match as a huge opportunity. Ellis is as skilled as anybody in the company, and if he takes my scalp, his reputation skyrockets.
Of course he has my respect.
“So let’s do it, B.R. Let’s lace-up and give these fans the barnstormer their support deserves. Things are only gonna get tougher here with Thorpe and Dane in cahoots. The clouds will get thicker, the nights darker, the temperatures colder…
Only men like us can stand in their way. Let’s show ‘em what we’re made of.”
I take a moment to tighten my glare and slow my breathing.
“Eric and Colt’ll tell the world I’m finished. Done. Over.
At Victory, I tell ‘em one thing in return.
‘Never doubt me.’”
"I know you’d all like us to be at each other’s throats… but who cares what you mouth breathers want? I know I don’t..."
- La Flama Blanca