"No, no, no."
Jesus Christ, this is for the UTA World Championship. Doesn't anybody pay attention anymore?
"For the love of God, no."
This is the reason only a select few could ever lay claim to the most prestigious championship belt in wrestling.
"There is a reason you have never been UTA World Champion Haynes, and that's because you simply don't understand the concept."
Don't you understand that in order to be the UTA World Champion, you have to step your game up higher than everyone else. The moment the clock struck midnight on December 31, 2015...
I became a new man.
And now, 2016 belongs to me.
"Eric Dane isn't scared my friend, he doesn't have the common sense to be scared."
I smile, brandishing one of those calm, irritatingly confident smirks. Yeah, Will Haynes got a win over Eric Dane during the Ring King Tournament, but this was a whole different ballgame. The usual song and dance from the Thrill simply wasn't going to cut it...
Not in Atlantic City.
Not in 2016.
"His ego has gotten the better of him for almost twenty years, it is his Achilles heel. But you, you can't grow beyond Ring King."
Which made this the perfect time to cash in.
It was the same as last year, Will Haynes defeated me in a singles match and naturally assumed it would equate into a World Championship reign.
"You are stuck on it, as if on pause, thinking it will help you escape the mediocre performances of past World Championship matches. But you and I both know that won't be the case, as evident by the many failures you have had."
And he has had plenty.
"Case in point, last year after defeating me by questionable circumstances, you spent weeks bragging about it. You stood in the middle of the ring, in backstage interviews and acted like you were the World Champion."
His bragging was the worst, it seemed to go on forever. But instead of letting it get to me, I turned it into something positive and in the end, I was the one who ripped the beating heart from his chest.
"You boasted to anyone who would listen, placing yourself on a pedestal too tall to maintain, and ended up getting knocked off by a man with a better game plan..."
Someone who understood Sun Tzu.
Someone who understood that there were two parts in making a plan work.
Followed by execution.
We now found ourselves in part 2 of the plan.
"That being me at All or Nothing."
Like I said before, this was all about location and timing, preparation and execution. It all screamed CASH IN THE BRIEFCASE, because the planning stage was now over, replaced by the execution stage which pointed at me becoming the World Champion again.
"But that has always been your problem Haynes, you get distracted by your own success. You read those press clippings and can't seem to stay out of your own way."
Now don't get me wrong, I have said it before and will say it again, Will Haynes has talent. He has beaten some of the best wrestlers in this company, some of them twice.
Yeah, he has beaten me twice. So has Zhalia Fears, but it didn't make her a mouthy diva like it did him.
She stayed within herself, refusing to be the flavor of the week and has been close, damn close to where she wanted to be. If anything, her own body has denied her success...
Where Haynes has managed to be his own worst enemy.
"It's a sad lesson, really it is, if only you were smart enough to see it. The success you brag about, from a year, long gone, has blinded you to the truth..."
Speaking of truth, it is time someone spilled it to the Thrill.
"And that truth is this..."
Whether he wanted to hear it or not.
"You have lied to yourself long enough. For as good as you are, Atlantic City will not be your crowning moment. Yes, you are capable of being a champion here in UTA. Just not the World Champion."
Of course Mr. Haynes will say otherwise. He is probably in front of the mirror now, practicing his acceptance speech for the fans who follow his every move. But as long as I am in UTA, with the ability to thwart him, the Thrill will never feel that World Championship around his waist.
He doesn't deserve it.
He doesn't know how to beat Eric Dane for the title.
"That distinction belongs to me, doesn't it Mr. Dane?"
Now things are getting interesting.
"You see, I don't do things on your schedule, only mine. I decided to battle your ego with patience, to strike only when the bull in the China shop wasn't paying attention."
Again, striking in Chicago was out of the question. Everyone anticipated the trigger being pulled at Seasons Beatings, which would have shocked no one.
There would have been no out of control moment, no shattering of dreams. It would have been wasted, even by Chicago standards.
"Don't you know that insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?"
There is a reason I pose that question to the World Champion. It is because no one on the roster, outside of me, knows the blueprint to beat him. Yes, the obvious blueprint that everyone else seems to ignore.
To beat Eric Dane, you expose his ego.
I shrug, mainly because it is simple. So simple that I'm shocked everyone else has over-looked it. Since his arrival in this company, Dane has shoved his ego down the throats of everyone too weak to stop him.
"And now I'm catching you at the opportune time. In Atlantic City, amidst the bright lights and celebrity status, you are just like everyone else who sees me as the weak link in this equation."
How did he put it again?
Oh yeah, he kicked my teeth in when I was new to the business. There was Mr. Dane, able to move in and out of wrestling companies like a Hollywood mega-star. While I couldn't get in without a ticket.
Times have since changed.
You will find that out soon enough.
"You think I'm scared."
To this I laugh, because for a World Champion, his ego couldn't have been more wrong.
"Sun Tzu taught us if nothing else, if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle..."
Scott Stevens thought the same thing, and he lost last week. Hell thirty-nine other superstars at All or Nothing and everyone in the Ace in the hole match at Ring King thought I couldn't get the job done...
And yet here I am, a former two-time UTA World Champion and a briefcase away from securing it a third time.
"Which means in the chaos I will create, there will be endless opportunities like combinations on a slot machine. You don't think of me as a threat because I'm supposed to be star struck like every other idiot you've faced..."
Hell, not only is this not the 1990's, it is no longer 2015. But yet, the supposed smartest man in any room wants to continue living in the past.
"But I'm not Eric, I'm nowhere close to being star struck. You seem to forget that I have followed your career since I broke into the business in 1999. I remember seeing your star fall on many occasions, then bail when the ego could no longer handle the disappointment."
Oh yeah, I know the World Champion better than any of you.
With Jeff Andrews being the exception.
"Time after time I have watched you crash and burn, in company after company, all over the globe. I have seen the pain in your eyes, the little bruises that dotted your ego..."
Gotta love those Jack Hunter references.
"And yes, you did get the better of me back in the day, I'll admit to that. But now I get to return the favor, a moment I have waited for all my life. I have played this in my head over and over...
Eric Dane is one of the reasons I use that theme music from Phil Collins. We have a history and I will leave it at that.
"Biding my time until this moment arrived. For almost sixteen years, literally, I have waited to turn the tables on you. To shock the wrestling world, to turn it upside down, to change it's very landscape in my favor."
Ever since the Only Star arrived in UTA, I have been in preparation mode. This Monday, it will switch to execution mode where Dane will be sent back to the Boardwalk, title-less, friend-less, crushed.
"I am sending you back to Defiance Eric, this is my time now and you can't stop me. Once again, I get to kill two birds with one stone and even though you understand the threat exists, your ego won't allow you to believe I will do it."
After all, he did accuse me of being scared and I will let him continue to think that...
Feeding an ego bigger than Santa Claus, Yoshii and Bobby Dean combined.
"But I will do it. I will do it because I'm going to make history..."
Finally, the reason I'm cashing in, so pay attention.
"By being the first man to not only win All or Nothing two years in a row, but also being the first man to successfully defend the UTA World Championship there."
That's right, I will defend it against thirty-nine other superstars.
Something Perfection couldn't do.
Something La Flama Blanca couldn't do.
Nor Dane and Haynes.
"And all I have to do is wait for them to destroy each other, right there in Atlantic City. Where opportunity and timing are just as easy as understanding Sun Tzu and the two parts that make a plan work."
Or better yet, just remember the story once told about the Lion, the Bear, and the Fox.
The Bear seeing a stray goat, rushes in to seize it. At the same time, a lion rushes in from another direction and a mighty battle ensues. They fight to the point where neither can continue, their wounds grounding them.
Just then a fox rushes in, seizes the prize and rushes away, unscathed.
The moral of the story?
"Preparation, followed by Execution."
I can't help but smile, for the story fit me perfectly.
""Once ' The Fallen Angel', now 'The Ominous Angel'.""
- Lew Smith