We are inside Gibsons Restaurant in downtown Chicago. The entire restaurant is empty except for Perfection who is sitting at the bar in the lounge area. He is wearing a three piece Armani charcoal suit and his overcoat is hanging on the back of his chair. In front of him is a glass of ice water on a coaster with a squeezed lemon inside. Unusual for The Number One Contender, normally a he would be enjoying liquor. Witherhold is toying with the coaster, spinning in left to right.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment...Eric.”
Perfection turns his head and looks over at the camera.
“Since the day you appeared on UTA programing back in May I’ve wondered when our paths would cross. I knew that it would happen and I figured it would be around Ring King, but, things didn’t seem to work in our favor. I do apologize…”
A snarky smile takes over his face.
“I could have beat you earlier. Yet, with that title...MY title...sitting pretty around that waist...I’d like it MUCH more to beat you NOW than have beat you then! I know it’s unusual, you’re probably in shock to even hear that an original UTA talent wanted to face off with anyone from the wrestling immigration wave of twenty-fifteen. Actually and quite truthfully, I was one of the few that wanted to wrestle the new faces that Wingate had brought in like yourself, Eric.”
He lifts his hand up and with the other he jabs his finger into his palm with each name he rattles off.
“Ron Hall, Crimson Lord, and Mr. Fantastic, who personally arrived just to step up to ‘Yours Truly’...to Alex Beckman and John Sektor, the roster began to become ripe with serious contendership. There were two men, however, that I knew I needed to face before I hang the boots up and wait for my UTA Hall of Fame induction- someday.”
James points towards the camera.
“Mike Best...and YOU….Eric Dane! I knew picking up a win over both of you would rubber stamp me into legendary status! Unfortunately, ‘The Icon” is no longer with us. I’m sure some day he’ll return to the UTA ring and when he does I’ll beat him in the same fashion I beat you, Eric. Hell, it might even be with MY title on the line!”
Perfection grabs the glass of water and begins to slowly stir the lemon into it.
“We can talk about my inevitable win over Mike Best some other time however, Eric. Right now, you have something I want. You have something that is priceless in this entire industry...MY UTA World Championship! I’ve been wanting that belt since All or Nothing, Eric. I had to take the back seat as Sean did nothing with the belt. I had to roll my eyes as Eduardo faced chump after chump in so-called title defenses. They had their time with what should have been MINE!”
Smiling that photo perfect smile the arrogance oozes from him.
“That’s right ‘Big Bad’, that belt is MINE! I’ve worked over a year in this company beating the best damn talent from across the wrestling industry to win that belt not once...but TWICE! I’ve busted my ass and made some poor decisions along the way but I’ve earned that belt back! I’m going prove that when I win at Wrestleshow right here in Chicago, Eric. I know you think it’s impossible...so did I.”
The arrogance that was on display quickly dissipates.
“I thought the same exact thing in Mexico when I went in undefeated...ten and zero. I went in against Yoshii and he got the better of me. Much like Will Haynes got the better of you, Eric. The point is, even the greatest can be beat on any given day. You aren’t the ‘Big Bad’ everyone believes you are. You’re JUST...another wrestler.”
James adjusts his seat so he is square with the camera.
“A wrestler I just so happen to have a modicum of respect for. There are few workers in our business that I can say that about, Eric. You’re a seven time world champion...you are in possession of the UTA World Championship- the world, until Monday, is yours. I can respect that; your accolades and your history of work.”
Crossing his arms he leans forward with his head just slightly.
“But my respect for your work isn’t why I’m excited to get in that ring with you, Eric. I’m excited to exploit every single one of your mistakes, I’m excited to play the greatest game of human chess that these Ungratefuls have ever seen! I’m excited to win CLEANLY against you, Eric, and have that belt fastened tightly around my waist!”
His lips turn to a large smirk.
“I’ll even let you shake my hand afterwards.”
Followed by him shrugging his shoulders in a “who cares” fashion.
“I doubt you will, but you have to understand, it’s not because you weren’t great at Seasons Beatings against ‘Yours Truly’, it will be because you underestimated me. I’m not like the breed here in the UTA...I’m not a product of weakness like some of the people you’ve faced on your rise to the top! You may think I am...and I hope you continue to. I hope the moment that bell rings you believe I’m just another schmuck like B.R. Ellis.”
Setting the drink down he lifts his hands he begins to unbutton the sleeves of his dress shirt.
“Beating you for MY UTA World Championship would be beautiful enough…but proving you wrong? Hell, proving the majority of the locker room wrong? Oh- that would just be the cherry on top.”
He raises his finger up in the air.
“We do have one thing the majority of the locker room doesn’t though, Eric. Passion. Passion for this sport, for it’s history, and the rewards it pays for putting in your hard work. Passion to be the best, passion for the belt I’m winning at Wrestleshow. It’s what drives us to success. Every Ungrateful with basic internet knows you’ve had more success than me, Eric, you have more money than me, you might even have a bigger house...but you sure as hell aren’t a better wrestler than me!”
Shaking his head he gives off a sense of disapointment.
“You sure as hell aren’t the better man either...surprisingly. After you hit me with my belt at Victory I should have paid it forward but I didn’t. You know why, Eric? It’s not because I couldn’t. It’s not because I didn’t want to...because I sure as hell did. It’s because I want you at one hundred percent so there is no excuses when I plant your shoulders on MY canvass for three!”
Perfection stands up from the high back chair and pulls his wallet from his suit jacket.
“I want you at your best, Eric. That’s why I’m partnering with Cayle Murray and by default your good friend Jeff Andrews, maybe even Will Haynes. I want them at ringside to keep the rest of the Pantheon out. I want just YOU in this match...I want the greatest challenge I have ever faced...and I am going to conquer it!”
The rightful and true UTA World Champion begins to shake his finger back and forth towards the camera.
“You’re UTA’s Everest, not because of that title but because of who you are, Eric. Even though I hold Will Haynes against you, he didn’t pin you on that canvass. He didn’t win in a traditional wrestling match, much like I will. Why don’t you ask your buddy, Stephen Greer, how it feels to be outwitted every single move. “
He goes into his wallet and pulls out a hundred dollar bill and leaves it on the bar counter.
“If I were you I would be cussing Greer out for being so god damn soft. What kind of friend costs them the UTA World Championship? Not a good one, I’ll tell you that. Speaking of not-so-good of friends, there’s this rumor circling that you killed Dynasty, Dane?”
Witherhold begins to laugh very audibly. James gets it down to a snicker before continuing.
“No...no, let's be clear. I killed Dynasty! The minute I walked out of that group it died, even if Mikey Unlikely is too damn stupid to realize it! They couldn’t sustain without ‘Yours Truly’s” star power gleaming on them! The minute I had no use for them anymore, Eric, they slowly dissolved. You’ll soon discover that about The Pantheon. The light bulb will click and you’ll stop having to rely on others and count on just yourself.”
Reaching behind him he picks up his overcoat that was on the back of the chair and slides it on.
“You have that opportunity at Seasons Beatings, but we both know you won't allow that to happen. Even if you did, it wouldn't be enough to retain MY UTA World Championship! I want it more, I want to be the man that pins Eric Dane one...two...three, without a single question in anyone’s mind!”
James moves his free hand into the inner jacket pocket and pulls out a cigar that he places in his mouth.
“The best part about all of that...is that it will happen.”
He kisses the end of it getting a taste of the tobacco flavor before pulling it from his mouth unlit.
“You may have ended ‘The Year of the Luchador’, Eric, but I’m ending ‘The Month of the Only Star’. Get that belt shined up real nice for me.”
"And oh, the mysterious indie trollop hiding behind her own skirts, the second coming of what, dear? Even the best in Chicago is still in a class below me, lass. That’s a confirmable fact."
- Bronson Box