The nerves set in last night. As he lay in the king size bed at the Double Tree by Hilton in Roanoke Virginia, Claude Ranier had stirred, buoyed by the opportunity that sat in front of him. The thoughts going through his mind were irrepressible. Kendrix was right - this was his all or nothing. A shot at the world title was the thing holding him back, leaving its ever accusing footnote on the chronology of one of the greatest careers on the planet. And if he won...wow, what if CBR won on Monday. Briefcases full of gold wouldn't be able to stand up to the flimsy contract that lay inside the one hanging from the hook at the Civic Centre in Salem Virginia. Nothing could. But the worry had subsided this evening…
Tonight though, the nerves, like water draining off down onto rockfall had cascaded away in a refreshing way. And here, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, nothing could turn a spirit from anything but optimistic. And sitting in the mahogany chair, his elbow perched on the oak stained bar, Claude Baptiste Ranier’s thoughts had turned to those of hope, opportunity and challenge.
For two years he had been denied moments like these. For far too long, CBR had threatened the edges of immortality but been overlooked for men like Will Haynes, Eric Dane and Lew Smith. It was now though that he could take destiny by the horns and make it his own.
CBR: You know, history rarely lies.
The words of the Canadian break the moment of spiritual clarity.
CBR: Buti in the case of the UTA World Title, I believe it deserves a re-write.
Curling his fingers around the glass, Claude lifts the liquid to his lips and takes a satisfying drink of the Hennessy XO Cognac. The Legacy Champion’s eyes close, savouring the taste as the glass withdraws.
CBR: Some things in life defy explanation. Some things you can never put into words. Like the loyalty a man shows to his best friend through right and wrong, the taste of one of the finest brandies on earth…
The glass is rested down on the bar as CBR’s eyes turn to the camera.
CBR: And the beating heart of a man who knows he is facing his future squarely in the face.
Claude’s fingers curl listlessly over the surface rim of the glass, paying little attention as his face straightens, the generous lines of age showing between whispered glances.
CBR: And that is exactly what this Monday is...my future. Never have the stakes been so high, never has the opportunity been so close. Never has it been just me staring into the sun and dreaming of glory. I was always the guy who held them up, the ones who's faces fit...including you Sean.
He rests back in his chair, the words caressing the air with a low smooth confidence.
CBR: And you know how much I respect you Sean. You know how much I look up to you in this business, but this Victory is about me. This Victory is about the Canadian Star.
Claude looks away from the camera towards the window of the Regency Room, the award winning restaurant of the Roanoke Hotel.
CBR: Two years ago coming into the UTA I was unstoppable. I know that, but some of you have forgotten. I came in and took down every challenge laid in front of me, beat a man everyone said couldn't be beaten for the Internet Title and formed the group that changed the face of wrestling forever.
Ranier turns back, his blue eyes looking back into the camera.
CBR: Some of you have forgotten that I am the man who best Yoshii time and time again before he thrilled the world as World Champion. Some of you have forgotten that I was the guy who toppled the mountain of Chris Hopper before Kendrix was ever a thing. Some of you have forgotten that I beat La Flama Blanca before Madman Szalinski or Eric Dane, that I took this belt from John Sektor.
Claude slowly turns the glass on the table, straightening his back.
CBR: And now, without holding the reigns of Dynasty...without babysitting the fortune of Perfection, La Flama Blanca and Sean Jackson I am focused. Without propping lesser men onto my shoulders I am committed. And my mind is clear...I see everything without the shroud of Dynasty. And I know exactly what I want.
He lifts the glass for another drink, before holding it in his hand.
CBR: That briefcase that is going to hang above the ring means a shot at the top prize in this business. It means you're one of the best in this industry and that is exactly what CBR came to UTA to be. And Kendrix, you're right - the world title is the one thing that has eluded the Canadian Star since I started my career in this company.
Claude looks over his shoulder to the busy restaurant, before looking back.
CBR: Half the people here, half the people in this city, will be focused on Monday on the Civic Centre. The eyes of the world will be watching as one of us climbs that ladder and makes history. When that briefcase is unhooked, the future of the world championship will invariably change and one of us, in that very ring, will be the future face of the UTA.
He closes his eyes, the tension slipping away over his shoulders.
CBR: And I'll be dammed...if that person isn't The Canadian Star, CBR...