CONTENT

Title: Harvey Dent
Featuring: Cayle Murray
Date: 24th Dec, 2015
Location: San Diego, CA
Show: Victory XLIII

“You certainly chose an apt alias, Madman. I’ll give you that much.”

Jesus Christ, this guy’s even more unhinged than I thought.

He’s a goddamn lunatic.

At Victory, Szalinski broke into my locker-room, then sat alone in the darkness, waiting to creep me out. That was troubling enough, but what he did at Season’s Beatings? That takes the cake.

“Yoshii came out and gave you his compassion and support for what must still be a pretty devastating loss.”

Rest in peace, Peach.

“He did you a good turn, Madman, and you didn’t just throw it back at him.

You tried to end his career.”

I shake my head. 

I’m sitting outside in the California sun, and all I can think of is Madman Szalinski, and what he tried to do to Yoshii’s leg.

“Is that what you’re gonna try to do to me, Madman? Is that what you meant when you said ‘I’ll show you what happens when you take the high road?’ Shit…”

 Turns-out Madman’s a lot more dangerous and unhinged than I’d thought, but I won’t let him repeat what he did to Yoshii.

I won’t let him take my livelihood away.

“That man’s just a giant teddy bear, Madman. He wouldn’t so much as swot a fly without provocation, and even if he did, he’d feel bad about it after. Yoshii’s a kind, gentle soul: he doesn’t have a vindictive bone in his body.

But you know that already, don’t you?”

Attack the guy who can’t fight back: a classic coward’s move. Madman knew Yoshii’s morals would stop him from retaliating against a man he thought was his friend, and that makes this no better than if Madman had jumped him in the corridor.

“Maybe it was naïve of Yoshii to come out, but he didn’t deserve that, lad. But you’re not going to attack Cayle Murray without reprisal. You’re not going to put ME out.

Yoshii couldn’t bring himself to fight back, Madman, but I will. As soon as we hit that ring, I’ll answer every single blow you throw at me, and not just for me, but Yoshii too.

But I’ll do it my way.  I won’t try to take a limb or put your on the shelf. I won’t talk trash, and mock you when you’re down. I’m gonna look you in the eye, wait for that bell to ring, and fight your dark, crooked soul with honour, passion and heart.”

Feels good to get this off my chest.

Real good.

“Season’s Beatings taught a lot about your turn to darkness, and showed just how deep it runs. But I’m not afraid by this escalation, Madman. I’m not scared.

It just makes me even more determined to get in there and put a stop to your reign of blood. The worse you get, the more important it becomes for men like me to stand-up, and that’s not a force on this Earth that can quell the fire inside of me.

I know what it’s like to fight for my life, Madman. Trust me. And if that’s what I have to do to end this mania, I won’t hesitate.”

Truthfully, I still don’t have a clue what this lunatic has planned for Monday, but I won’t tell him that.

A few deep breaths calm my racing heartbeat. It’s late afternoon and the sun’s gone down, but the air’s still warm and clear. I’m out on the balcony, gazing-out across the moonlit ocean, a little fatigued from the flight home from Chicago.

Dealing with Madman’s erratic volatility’s gonna be one hell of a challenge, and that’s without taking The Pantheon into account. Fortunately, I’ve got Will and Jeff backing me up, but something tells me Madman wants to do this thing alone.

I’ve no doubt that his allies will swarm if it looks like their boy’s about to fall, but Szalinski’s made it very, very clear that he wants to “teach me this lesson” personally.

“I don’t avoid hurdles, lad. I don’t sidestep or duck beneath ‘em. When someone puts an obstacle in my way, I hop right over it. When I trip and fall, I don’t give-up: I get-up, dust myself off, and keep trying until I pass that hurdle and move-on to the next one.

I know you can relate to that, Madman: back when you wore red and blue. Back when you meant something to the people who put you on-top of the wrestling business in the first place. Back when you knew what it meant to go to war for something bigger than yourself.”

I lean forward on the wooden table, and unscrew the bottle I’d almost forgotten about. After taking a deeply unsatisfying mouthful of lukewarm mineral water, I pop it back down beside the two books I’ve been thumbing through lately: The Killing Joke and The Long Halloween.

A pair of Batman comics: one of the perks of sharing a house with my brother and his 18-year-old son.

“Dynasty used to be the big, tyrannical wheel that ruled this place. They definitely weren’t the same force when they split, but they helped define an era. That’s undeniable.”

It’s hard to feel good about their demise when The Pantheon have just stepped-in to take their place, though.

“But they couldn’t have done it without you, lad. They couldn’t have done it without opposition.

You were the man bold enough to defy the wheel and stand-up to the bullies. That’s what made you special. That’s what made you stand-out! You were the only guy bold enough to strike those bastards down. You refused to become part of the wheel, and you refused to let it trample you.

In fact, you were doing everything you could to BREAK that damn wheel.

But I guess it got to you in the end.”

There’s sombre tinge creeping in. No matter I have to do to Madman on Monday, it’s still sad to see a hero fall.

“You let it crush your individuality " your identity " and now, you’re noi the force that breaks the wheel: you’re part of it.

And the worst part? It’s not even your wheel, Madman. It’s Eric Dane’s!”

Once a leader, Madman Szalinski has joined the faceless heard.

“You’re a spoke! You’re a bit-part in someone else’s dream, because if you think Eric Dane has your best interests at heart, you’re even nuttier than I thought. Thorpe, Dean, yourself: you’re no more than pawns on The Only Star’s chessboard, and as soon as you outlive your use, he’ll cast you aside.”

So much for individualism, right?

“I know the picture you’re tryn’a paint of yourself, and I’m sorry, Madman: but I’m gonna have to call ‘foul’ on that too.”

I take a little breath, readying myself.

“You’re tryn’a turn this into a tragedy. ‘The world did this to me,’ you say. ‘You people did this to me.’ You’d have us believe that the universe pushed Madman Szalinski just one step too far, and that triggered his passage to selling-out.

I think you’re trying to be like the antagonist of this book right here.”

I slide The Killing Joke from beneath the heftier Long Halloween and hold it up.

“You’re trying to be The Joker.”

I’ve thumbed my way through this comic a few times now, but today, the story feels more pertinent than ever.

“Here’s the tale of a man so traumatized by his own misfortune " so beaten down by the world around him " that it finally drove him nuts. If you’ve read it, you’ll know the sympathy it evokes when the wife passes away, and the regret you feel when he dives into the chemicals and emerges as The Joker.

His mind broken, his sanity shattered.

The book makes you feel sorry for The Joker, and mad at the world for turning him into such a villain. That’s exactly what you want, Madman, but I’m not buying your little Joker story.”

I put one book down, then hold-up the other.

“You’re not The Joker.

You’re Harvey Dent.

Two-Face.”

I flick through pages and pages of Tim Sale’s gorgeous illustrations, ‘til I find an apt picture of the man himself. Slick hair, chiselled jawline and an immaculate suit: Madman was never so immaculately well-presented, but he was a real force for good. Just like Dent.

“Unlike The Joker, Harvey Dent was a real somebody before he fell. Just like you. As the city’s District Attorney, Dent was a real force for good in Gotham war on evil, and a vital cog in its justice machine. The Joker was but a failed comedian before submitting, but Dent was looked-up to.

He was admired.

Just like you, Madman.

He used the law, you used your fists. The weapons were different, but the cause was the same.

Fighting crime, in Gotham’s streets or the UTA’s arenas.”

My fingers take me through a few more pages, ‘til I find the pivotal scene. The infamous mob boss Sal Maroni throwing acid in DA’s face: the very moment Harvey Dent’s life spiralled towards insanity.

“Thus, Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face.”

Gotta point the panel out, just in-case.

“Two-Face is one of Batman’s most enduring enemies…”

Not that I’m trying to compare myself to The Dark Knight.

“He doesn’t carry a major threat to the rest of the world like The Joker. No, Two-Face is a warning. He’s a walking, talking reminder of what happens when we give-in to wickedness. He’s a constant reminder of how far even the greatest, most revered members of society can fall.

Just.

Like.

YOU.”

Two-Face is an image of the villain Batman works hard to never become.

Madman Szalinski is an image of the villain Cayle Murray works hard to never become.

Got myself all fired-up now. Take all the fluff away, and this is still one hell of a main event on the most exciting brand in professional wrestling today. Men like Madman and his Pantheon buddies give me a reason to keep fighting, but the match alone is one hell of a motivator in its own right.

“But here’s the thing about Two-Face: no matter how broken he is or dark he goes, you always " ALWAYS " see the good in him.”

Another page flick takes me to a perfect portrait of the villain’s face.

One side immaculate, one side burned.

Harvey and Two-Face.

Good and evil.

“It’s right there on his face.”

My index finger taps the good side.

“Every time this monster looks in the mirror, he’s eyeball-to-eyeball with the man he used to be. Everything he used to represent is right there in the flesh, and he can’t avoid it.

I hope the same’s true for you, Madman. Every time you meet your reflection, I hope you remember every fan you turned your back on, and every good quality you used to embody. I hope you remember sticking it to Dynasty, and how good it felt to make a stand.

… and I hope it makes you feel ROTTEN, Madman. I hope it fills you with regret, guilt, and everything in-between.”

Pause.

“… because if it does, then maybe " just maybe " there’s still part of you worth saving.”  



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