It’s cold by the shore. Not that cold on the boardwalk. At least not for the resident THRILLmaker of the UTA. He wears a leather jacket, a dark gray thermal underneath, with a pair of black jeans. His feet are cozy in a pair of black boots. He shrinks into his jacket a bit trying to suck in the warmth best he can.
There’s part of him that wanted to storm down to Louisiana. To kick in the door of the Wrestle-Plex and sign himself with Dane’s own wrestling project. It certainly would’ve been brazen enough. But then THRILL took a few deep breaths.
He counted to ten. Calmed himself down, he realized that was a bad idea.
It was a knee jerk reaction.
Instead he booked himself a flight. Got into town early.
Haynes: “Wait, you’re awake?”
His voice is a bit loud as the wind picks up right behind him for a brief second. He starts this follow-up with a question.
Haynes: “Wide awake? Eyes open? Sleep wiped from both your pupils?”
Haynes scoffs, waving off the camera as he did before, shaking his head. He’d love a cigarette, but he gave them up. He stares out over the ocean, the rumble of the tide crashing upon the shore can be heard in the quiet.
To break the silence Haynes clicks his disapproval of that notion.
Haynes: “I doubt it.”
“It’s clear that you’re sleepwalkin’, Eric. Sleepwalkin’ right through this twilight a’ your career. Half hearted comparisons; propin’ yourself up with folks the “old” you wouldn’t even give a second thought to.
Hell you think that Bobby Dean is the ace tactfully hidden up your sleeve.”
“Give me a break.”
the THRILLmaker’s eyes nearly roll out of his head. He’s tired of hearing about Bobby Dean; the guy might as well not even exist. Bobby Dean just spins through the revolving door down at UTA headquarters.
Haynes: “When I begged you t’ show me somethin’ Eric, when I begged you t’ bring it; t’ show me the REAL Eric Dane I meant it. N’ for half a minute there you actually delivered.”
“You put me out a’ commision. You pinned half the field in the Chamber Match; a fact you WON’T stop spittin’ at anyone n’ everyone regardless a’ the fact that it happened IN AUGUST. You assembled a crack pot team t’ help insure you beat Blanca. It really was “vintage” Eric Dane. Until ya know it wasn’t.”
His shoulders lift and then fall. His hands pop to the side. THRILL is unsure of which way Eric Dane is going. One moment the Only Star seems to have the numbers in his favor n’ the next his numbers have dwindled, his knees have buckled under the weight of Perfection, and he’s still talking as if he’s got this one in the bag.
Haynes: “Until ya slide right back int’ the same stuff you were doin’ in June, n’ in May. Kickin’ your feet up, restin’ on that legacy ya built for yourself, n’ actin’ like no one can touch you; regardless a’ what the record book might have t’ say.”
“You didn’t evolve, Eric. You regressed. You didn’t wake up. You took a nap. Had yourself a sleep.”
“Well sleep on me.”
“Sleep on me again.”
Haynes nods his head. He doesn’t mind it. He likes when the odds are against him. Spectre, Sean Jackson - twice, Eric Dane, Mikey Unlikely. Whenever the odds are against him seems he performs well.
Haynes: “Regardless a’ what happened last time, regardless a’ what our common past says, just keep sleepin’ on me. Not like I ain’t used t’ it.
“Come on, Eric. I wanna hear more about how I ain’t ready t’ “be the man.”
Haynes: “No skin off my back. I’ve grown accustomed t’ people sleepin’ on me, not givin’ me the benefit a’ the doubt. It’s not like I’m undersized or under weight. Ain’t like I laid a few legends t’ waste in my day. Not like I’m a former Legacy Champion or nothin’.
“Just keep discreditin’ me. Keep tryin’ t’ bring me down. Spin me this fable about backroom deals with Michael Lorenzo insurin’ my title shot. Have Bobby Dean throw me beatings. I don’t care.”
Haynes again shrugs his shoulders.
Haynes: “Better than him have beat me down, Eric. N’ I’ve stood up.”
“Hell you beat me down yourself. You think a beatdown is all it takes t' get t' me. Think a few fights are all you need t' get me off my game. Think again. I been at this a long time, Eric. Not as long as you, fine, but still a long time. Fights don't scare me."
"Never have. Never will."
"You tried t' put me out, Eric. You didn't want me out of comission for a few weeks or a couple of months; you wanted me done forever. You meant t' end my career that night. All because I beat you."
"Because I outsmarted you."
"Because I came back. I came back t’ steal the pay per view on which you won the title.”
Haynes stares into the camera, nodding his head. His match with Mikey Unlikely at International Affair is up for Match of the Year.
Haynes: “N’ now I’m here t’ win the title from you.”
“N’ THAT’s the best you got.”
Haynes takes a deep breath and exhales it. He kicks at some sand on the beach as he begins making his way back to the entrance along the boardwalk.
Haynes: “Talkin’ about takin’ someone’s eyeball out, instead a’ ya know actually doin’ it? Shruggin’ me off as if I don’t matter; like you didn’t throw yourself a temper tantrum after I beat you."
"I just don’t buy any of it, Eric. Not for one second.”
Haynes holds up a lone digit.
Haynes: “No one is under your skin."
Sarcasm drips from his voice.
Haynes: "You’re as cool as a cucumber. You don’t care about Sean Jackson. You don’t care what happened t’ Colton Thrope. You don’t even care that I’m about t’ come for that World Title with everythin’ I got.”
His sarcastic tone vanishes as quick as it came. He regains his focus as he prepares to close things out.
Haynes: “Eric, it’s time t’ settle up. Make you pay for what you done. You cost me my shot at gettin' somethin' that's slipped through my hands a few different times in the past year."
Haynes sees an open bench. He takes it, easing back against the weathered wood.
Haynes: “The World Title.”
“Way back at All or Nothin’ Twenty Fourteen, Eric, it was just me n’ Sean Jackson in the ring. You were off doin’ other things. Just the two a’ us, n’ Dynasty did what Dynasty used t’ do. Made sure one a’ their own sat up top.”
“What about the Ring King final? Another CHANCE t’ finally get my one on one shot, n’ what happened? I made Alex Beckman tap out. No one saw it. Another opportunity through my fingers.”
Haynes shakes his head. That still gets him angry. If only he would’ve kept the hold on Beckman longer. If only.
Haynes: “But this one. This one right here, Eric. This chance.”
“We both know - I EARNED.”
Haynes eyes narrow. Laser focus from him here.
Haynes: “I earned it by beatin’ Sean Jackson, not just once - but twice. N’ I haven’t just gotten lucky against him. If he wants t’ cash in, let ‘em cause I’ve had more than enough for him any other time we faced off.”
“I earned this shot by crawlin’ my way back t’ action, Eric. Showin’ incredible resolve t’ get back by International Affair."
"There’s guys that would’ve given up. That wouldn’t have been able t’ push themselves as hard as I did; that wouldn’t have been able t' handle two or three workout n’ physical therapy sessions a day. Guys that wouldn’t have pushed.”
How’s that for Grit? For Fortitude.
Haynes: “I earned this by meetin’ Mikey Unlikely in one a’ the leadin’ candidates for MATCH A’ THE YEAR. I earned it by makin’ him pass out in a pool of his own blood, Eric.”
Haynes: “N’ that's actually a guy I liked at one point. I haven’t liked you since you walked in the door.”
"I mean why the hell did ya even have t' come here, Eric? Did ya need t' add to the title collection that much?"
Haynes thinks about the WTFC days. Thinks were simpler then, easier. Not anymore.
Haynes: "What did ya get bored sittin’ on your ass for the last three years. Workin’ only a handful a' matches?”
Haynes shakes his head. Someone had whispered that the Only Star had ring rust when he was first signed but Will had no idea how inactive Dane has gotten.
Haynes: “Hell I’ve worked over triple your matches in the last four years since I joined the UTA. N’ you still wanna talk about how my title shot got gifted t’ me. Still wanna act like I ain’t earned every single thing I’ve had here since walkin’ in the door.”
“I wanna ask you a question, Eric. N’ quite frankly I don’t expect an answer from you at all. But do you think you out worked me in that ring for the last year?”
Haynes shakes his head. The answer is obvious - NO. For every Chamber match Eric Dane has, Haynes as an All or Nothing. There’s only one thing the Only Star can POSSIBLY hold over Haynes’ head at this point.
The World Title.
Haynes closes his eyes. He’s imaging the title on his shoulder. He can feel it...almost.
Haynes: “I’m ready, Eric. Ready t’ snatch that title right off you’re damn shoulder. If I gotta mix it up t’ get there; I’ll be ready. You want me t’ throw down, Champ - well I will. I’m willin’ t’ do whatever I gotta do t’ win this, Eric.”
"Whatever I gotta do. By Any. Means. Necessary."
Haynes nods his head as things fade.
"That's the beauty of it, it doesn't do anything!"
- Cecilworth Farthington