The streets are quiet, the aftermath of New Year's Eve evident. A few lost items of clothing left carelessly on benches and empty bottles strewn on the pavement. Street lamps light the evening, the night here in Cleveland on the first day of Twenty Sixteen, a whole army of resolutions being played out against temptation and resolve. The footsteps are heard as Claude steps into the shot, his hair tied back into a ponytail and a warm jacket over his shoulders.
CBR: You know Ron, I don't blame you…
Claude’s hands are in his pockets as he walks under the light of a lamp post, the cold night creating a chill around the solitary scene, parked cars and empty shop fronts peppering the sidewalk.
CBR: After nearly two years of proving to everyone both in and out of the UTA that all I cared about was money and backstage power, why would you?
Ranier stops so the light illuminates his face. He shrugs at the question and let's his shoulders settle.
CBR: But the truth is, I wasn't always like that…
Claude lowers his head a moment as if in reflective thought, before moving forward out of the light again and walking at a slow, deliberate pace.
CBR: I was brought up the right way in Canada. Wrestling family, third generation, but for all my father ever taught me, I was blinded by opportunity. I knew I wasn't ready, he knew it, but the son of the great Jean-Paul Sebastien on someone's books was worth more cash than I could say no to. It was either take that plunge or stay as a referee in my father’s promotion, learn the ropes and do it right. Like so many times in my career, I took the quick fix.
The steps are few and far between as Ranier moves past a bench. Empty beer cans, crushed in the middle, are strewn almost poetically across its surface.
CBR: And the UTA was no different. The fact is, Ron, you're right. I've never held a World Title. Some would say I've never asked for it, others that I hid behind the World Champios of Dynasty and earned my cheques. But one thing is certain, no one has worked harder than Claude Baptiste Ranier in this company…no one.
Claude gets to a street corner, stopping. The light is green but this is not a journey to get somewhere in particular. This is a cleanse, clear the head before the big night.
CBR: Whilst so called big names came in and rose to the top, I stayed. When legends entered our doors, CBR was here. When champions asked for weeks off at a time, The Canadian Star worked tirelessly day in day out to make this place the beacon of the wrestling world as it stands today.
Ranier turns to face the camera, withdrawing his hands from his pockets and letting the index and middle fingers of one move a loose strand of hair from his eyes.
CBR: You see Ron, much like you, I am enshrined in the history of the UTA. My sweat holds the bricks together that make up its walls and my blood fills the beating heart at its very core. CBR is built into the very fabric of the United Toughness Alliance!
He steps forward slowly, the coat closed, warm around the jumper on his torso.
CBR: Legacy champion for two hundred and forty seven days is not a fluke. You want to know if I'm ashamed of the things I've done? Hell yes I am. Will I spend my time making it up to the fans, to you boys in the back and to everyone that works tirelessly to make this place great? Absolutely. But none of it changes who I am at my center...nothing ever will.
Claude leans in an inch, the cool wind making a gentle howl across his lip.
CBR: In his very veins...CBR is a champion...CBR is wrestling
"Yo momma so ugly when she went into a haunted house she came out with a job application."
- Kirk Irving