Aboard the Parsons' Cruise Liner 2
Aired May 3, 2006
CSWA line producer MARVIN PARSONS gives the five-minute countdown to VERSUS host JOHN SIMONS as he goes over his notes in the make-up chair. These PRIMETIME POOLJAM tours seem glamorous -- but it's never a free vacation for the crew, just a grueling schedule, especially given the CSWA's usual lax show lineup.
Marvin uses the extra time before the taping begins to touch base with road agent Brian Nord. The ship is supposed to come into Montego Bay for PRIMETIME this evening, but with the fiasco of last evening... the Red Midget's bizarre life story in just five acts, or was it six, who knows? Everything had gone odd... controlled chaos. On the surface, nothing was different about the show prep. But beneath... Thomas locked in the Presidential Suite, the Red Midget and his security goons appear to have control of the ship on orders of the "Hacker", Ivy nowhere to be found, and now Hornet on the missing list, just a few hours before his match at PRIMETIME.
Simons is at the desk now, a replica of the one back in CSWA Studios in Greensboro, now set up in a small conference room connected to two others that together serve as the makeshift production control room. As Simons and the stage manager go over the final list of segment breaks, Marvin takes a minute to himself, sixty seconds to try and make sense of why, with everything out of control, this mystery man known as the Hacker is so bent on everyone pretending that it's business as normal.
Sixty seconds becomes more like ninety. Marvin comes out of deep thought (as deep as a Parsons can think, that is) as the show is already underway. As Simons completes his introduction, Marvin calls for the cut to the Sean Stevens segment.
('Triple X' Sean Stevens stood in front of a black 'Primetime in Montego Bay' backdrop, cigarette in his right hand, taking the occasional puff as he awaited his cue. His long golden hair was tied back into a ponytail, and he had grown a week's worth of beard, that clearly made him look a little more menacing than usual. He was clad in a sleeveless, black and white, "Planet Earth's Champion" t-shirt, blue jeans, and dark sunglasses. After being told that he could begin, he took another drag, blew smoke in the camera's direction and spoke softly.)
trip - There's something about this place that keeps bringing me back. I'm not gonna sit here and bullsh#t anyone into believing I ever thought I'd be in this situation again, because honestly ... I don't need this place. I don't need another matchup with Hornet to validate my career. I don't need to show the world that they were mistaken for labeling Shane Southern the 'golden boy' instead of me, Shane did that all by himself. I don't need this. I'm afraid I may be coming off bitter, but I'm not. I'm not bitter, not at all. If anything, I feel bad. Bad for the CSWA who can never seem to get it right. Bad for the CSWA fans forced to believe in a phony product.
(Pausing, he took another drag, blowing the smoke through his nose.)
Am I going to be the CSWA's savior? Nope. Don't want to be. I've been there, done that, with nothing but scars to show for it. When I was fighting Dan Ryan and the GXW head on, Shane Southern followed my lead. When GUNS claimed he'd tear the CSWA down brick-by-brick, he targeted Southern as his next victim, and Shane responded, in what has now become the typical Shane Southern response, by saying nothing.
I took it upon myself to stand up to that man and the Intruders. But, this is the chosen one? Why? Because his accent sounds better on the radio than mine? Because his charisma and country boy charm is more marketable? That's fine, I could accept that, if it were anything close to the truth. Fact of the matter, there is nothing more marketable about Shane Southern than myself. There's nothing Shane can do with a mic that I can't do twenty million times better. And, oh yeah ... I'm a better wrestler, too.
Don't believe me? ...I figured you wouldn't. The wrestling world wants to see Shane Southern out-perform me at PRIMETIME. They're hoping, no, praying he reclaims his 'spot'. The sad thing about the whole thing is, when I expose Shane's weaknesses, easily ... I'm gonna be seen as the bad guy. I'm gonna open so many eyes, yet, like always, the people ... my people are gonna turn on me. Again, I can live with that. Personally? ...I never gave a f--- about the fans anyway.
(He began breathing, heavily. His cigarette had reached it's butt, so he flicked it to the side, putting it out. He cleared his throat, and looked up once more.)
And, that leaves me with you, Hornet.
The face of the CSWA. Hornet, in the past, you often waited for me to address you before you'd acknowledge me. It's nice to see things haven't changed. In the past, right before we wrestled, you'd lose a big encounter against a wrestler who shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as you, in this case, enter the Muffin Man. Then you'd beat me.
The thing that I'm noticing around here is nothing ever really changes. Or at the very least, you don't like it when it does. That's the price you pay, when you need this place to make you a household name. The difference between today and yesterday, Hornet? I no longer need that. I am a household name, simply because I am quite possibly the best wrestler in the world, right now. I have money ... t-shirt sales ... little kids crying when they see me at WalMart. The pressure to be accepted by you, and the people who run this place is gone. If you beat me ... it won't be because things didn't change. It'll be because you're better than me. But, see ... I can't really see that happening because that's just not possible. You're too old, too slow, with too many personal problems. To label you a shell of your former self is a compliment, especially when you're not even close.
I saw the match with, Hiroshi ... and, like the majority of your matches the past three- or- four years, I wasn't impressed. I should've beaten you a long time ago, but to dwell on the past would be stupid, especially since I've got the opportunity to right a bunch of wrongs in one night.
This time around, I'm going against the grain, Hornet. This time, it's all about me, and it's not because I want it to be, it's because it has to be. Or else the CSWA may never be what it once was.
(Trip exited to the left, leaving the camera focused in on the 'PRIMETIME' logo.)
In the middle of John Simons' second segment, the door to the conference room bursts open. Moments later, the stage manager is left with the unenviable task of prying the VERSUS host out from under the desk while convincing him that it wasn't some ploy by the Red Midget or his 'master.' JA finds the whole situation amusing, explaining that he and Lollipop are simply exploring the ship. The couple exits with a few well-wishes for the crew, and more than a few snickers at Simons' reaction.
As they reset the shot and get Simons composed, Marvin Parsons' mind wanders again. Fifteen years ago, Marvin had been the one causing the stir in the CSWA. They all thought he was a dimwitted lighting technician and treated him as such. To teach them all, Marvin set himself up as the "Hijacker," interrupting shows and wreaking general havoc as part of plan to kidnap and enact personal revenge on Mickey Benedict as part of what he saw as his duty to his family. And now, for the first time, the very first time, Marvin did something he hadn't done in almost fifteen years... he began to think like the Hijacker again.
The doctors at GreenValley Home for the Mentally Deranged had taught him to 'override' those impulses, to bury them underneath 'normal' behavior that allowed him to walk back into the CSWA a year later and resume his job as a lighting and sound man. Then years later become an assistant director and now a program director. But with everything going on... maybe sick minds thinking alike was the key. Maybe Marvin could finally redeem himself by finding the clue to bringing down the Hacker.
But this was so big. To hijack a whole ship, the whole company. If I had that much power... I'd want to enjoy it...
SIMONS: ...and it remains to be seen if Steven Shane can be the one to bring JA's Greensboro title reign to an end in Montego Bay. The two men took a moment out of their cruise to send a message to each other.
(We open to Steven Shane standing in front of a CSWA backdrop.)
Shane: Well, here we are. It might not be where weíre supposed to be geologically, but it is where weíre supposed to be CSWA-wise.
And that destination that weíre currently vacating is stop number two on the Steven Shane Takes Over Tour, which stands at 1 and 0.
But who really knows what the hell is going on with the stops on this damn ďcruiseĒ?
Quite frankly, I donít know and I donít care. All I know is that I have a match coming up on Primetime, and that match is against the Greensboro Champion.
(Shane gives a smirk.)
Shane: Mr. AnonymousÖ
I wonít go into any type of history lessons here, J to the A, but maybe you should go to class once in a while and not sleep through it.
Either that or watch out on those bumps to the headÖ
Because the way I have it figured, this is JA/Shane IIÖ
Even though I canít get a match in EPW that Ken Cloverleaf allows me to finish anymore without him butting in, that match still happened.
But this match will turn out much differently, AJ.
Not just because Ken Cloverleaf isnít around, but because Iím determined to have the buzz around this cruise be about me until we dock this damn boat.
Thatís right, two weeks on international watersÖ
Two weeks of everyone on the boat talking about the new Greensboro Champ in only his second match in the place where legends are made.
(Shane motions his hand in the air from left to right as if reading a banner that promotes the CS-Dub.)
Shane: You see J to Azzle, you of all people here should know what Steven Shane is really all about.
Iím not only someone who walks away with titles when theyíre in front of him; I get them and hold onto them until people know what the title is all about.
Itís not some charade like having a title handed to you and then walking around with it until the next defense so that you can simply say you were the champ.
My background on the CSWA is quite short, being as Cameron Cruise in the only bitch on my list, but Iíll make you this guaranteeÖ
After I beat you for this title, Iíll not only bring it to prominence like other titles can only dream aboutÖ
But Iíll also do it twice as well and twice as long as youíve already done.
Whatever type of run youíve had here in the CS-Dub is now thrown in the trash and never to be recycled again, because after Steven Shane dominates you in the match this week, heíll do the same to your whole career.
Hereís to PRIMETIME and that belt going to my bunk after the show.
(Shane gives a smile as the camera fades out.)
(We're on the deck of the PCL2, Jericoholic Anonymous, Greensboro Championship strapped around his waist, stands, facing the ocean.)
JA: The more things change, the more things stay the same...
(JA turns around to face the camera.)
JA: You change companies, and you expect to find different faces. Yet, here I am, facing off against Shane Stevens. I could have sworn that this wasn't an Aye-One-Ee or Ee-Pee-Dubya match, but then I look on the schedule and I see that it isn't. And besides, I don't know if either one of those companies would spring to take all these wrestlers, fans and hackers on a cruise like this, let alone have us work on it either. But hey, I guess El Tardador really digs the concept of "working vacation."
Still, I digress. Shane Stevens, you and I may be in all the same companies, or we may have been in all the same companies before. Yet, this is the first time we've ever faced off against each other. Strange, ain't it? That our paths never would have crossed until now? I'm sure there are a bunch of fanboys out there who've been waiting to see this match for years now. I can't help they'll be a little disappointed.
Y'see, I've got a lot on my mind right now, especially considering that I also have to look for a friggin' hacker as well as defend this title against all comers. I really don't have time to put on a fancy show, or make you feel like you're special because this is an Internet dream match. No, I have to get business done.
Sorry if I have to be crude in dispatching you, but them's be the breaks, Shane. I've got no time to play around.
But hey, if it makes you feel any better, at least you can go back to beating on Melton's cabana boy after this one's over.'
(Fade to the CSWA logo.)
Simons was in full tilt now. The first take of this final segment was a bust, but he launched into the second take like he actually knew what he was doing. As he hyped the grudge match between Mark Windham and Dan Ryan he hit all the high points, showing footage from their previous encounters, mentioning that neither had shown a huge aptitude for ladder matches, and making sure to factor in that Mark Windham had possession of the UNIFIED World Championship despite the fact that his brother was champion in name only and had announced his retirement as part of his stint in the NFW.
With Simons in control of the situation, Marvin's mind wandered again. If I were in control of this ship, control of this whole company while it's afloat, what would I do now?
While it's afloat...
Marvin mumbled something to his assistant director before careening out the door into the hallway. He stopped only briefly to check a ship-to-shore phone located in their hospitality suite. Still not working.
As he burst through an exterior door and onto the broad deck, he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. It should have some reception by now, this close to Montego Bay. But nothing... no bars, not a hint of a signal... confirming his suspicion.
He can't let us dock. Cell phones would work and word would get out. He can't let anyone off the ship. He must have control of the whole staff, including the Captain. The only way he could avoid risk would be to have plotted another course from the very beginning, otherwise someone at one of their ports-of-call would realize that a whole ship was missing.
Red had warned the CSWA talent and crew not to do anything that might cause the 'normal' passengers to panic. But when they realized that they weren't docking anywhere, things were going to get ugly in a hurry. With Thomas under guard and Ivy missing, it was up to Marvin to let everyone know that they had to prepared after the show tonight.
Maybe, just maybe, they could find a way to use the commotion to their advantage, to find some slip-up. After all, no hijacker is perfect -- because in the long run, it's not about the details, it's about the desire for revenge. It's about feeling wronged, and getting back at the ones who made you feel like less than you really are.
And with all that emotion bubbling up to the surface, if you get lucky, the chinks in the armor become apparent.
And then...I've got you!
MARK WINDHAM: Should we be honored Ryan? Are we to pretend winning this (Mark holds up the UNIFIED World Title) offers a measure of validation as it once did, when games and personal glory meant more than a check? Maybe weíve both outgrown running to the dinner bell once itís rung. All Iíve sought since winning this belt for the first time was growth.
But, I did nothing more than chase my tail.
You were right Dan. I couldnít see it then, but in the free time working twice a year brings clairvoyance filled the gaps. I was consumed by the pettiness of luxury. Mark Windham. The All-state high school wrestler, the quarterback with Division 1 offers, the greatest athlete Sweetwater Texas had ever seen, the young CSWA legend, did nothing more than dominate every level of competition, climb over every obstacle placed before him. Dan Ryan, it all came too easy, is what Iím trying to say. But that it was taken away just as easily, well thatís the heartache, isnít it? You work your ass off, you look in the mirror day after day and you know your life hasnít been misplaced. All those nights in the gym, on the hard floor, on the open road, with men you donít trust as far as you can throw, bleeding for competitive delirium.
Every moment was worth it, untilÖ
It leaves us with no effort.
You see, Dan, what we are in the greater scheme of things is a pawn. Weíre somebodyís puppet who wants to spend a dollar on something other than fresh fruit. Itís not about us, itís never been about what we as men can accomplish. Maybe you were smart enough to realize that before it was too late, but I kinda doubt it. I saw the way you looked after you broke me in Seattle. I saw what winning (Mark TAPS the belt) this did to you, what it meant. And all that good will soured, didnít it, when Thomas stripped you for show.
And what are we today? As men who victimized each other for this company?
Weíre on call.
Weíre wrestling for this title, because itís the only match up theyíve got. Mark Windham and Dan Ryan, three years later, I guess Thomas hopes it pops a number. But, can we really invest in the effort to save something when it feeds us only on favorable terms?
I fell to pieces because everything I took to the shelter with me was a lie. As great as Mark Windham was in his youth, heís been just as big of a disgrace in his thirties. Iíve lost a marriage, a daughter, and the love of my life to this business, but what hurts the mostÖ.what ****ing got me in the end, Dan, was seeing my piece of crap brother cheered like a hero and booked in my place. Nobody was there but me when the hours were put in to becoming a genius in that ring. THAT WAS ME. But, theyíre all there when something new must be sold. Well, kiss my ass, Dan, nobody tell me when Iím done being relevant. Nobody pats me on the shoulder, sends a FedEx memo saying, ďYouíve served well, contract not renewed.Ē
I am relevant.
I have something left to say.
I have more pain.
Iíve been awakened to the fact that I do still answer the dinner bell, when that gold carrot is left dangling. BECAUSE IT WAS ON MY TERMS. My freaking brother Dan, left as heís done since day one. He ran. Heís a quitter. Heís dirt. Heís dirt Dan. And donít you sit over there and feel like a champ for putting on an A show with the man.
Donít you tell me it was a honor to be put down.
He ran, I pick up the pieces. Thatís my calling. Thatís my destiny. I fell and lost it all, Ivy, my baby, the belt, Paul. I have nothing but a ****ing big house, but Iím past the age where money means anything. Thatís not what I want. I want an apology. I want free will. I want that feeling I had in Seattle, of your back breaking over my knee.
Weíre all thatís left.
Weíre all that banks.
But thatís one manís angle.
Mine is very simple.
(Taps Belt) This is what I live for, in the shell thatís left.
Ivy says she regrets our night.
Everybody regrets Mark Windham.
I think you will too.
Weíre not done, Dan. This company, the legacy, itís over. The writing is on the wall. No, weíre not climbing that hill for glory, or THE resume filler. Weíre showing to beat the hell out of someone we canít stand.
Break me again Ryan.
Break me until you have meaning once more.
(A giant CSWA Backdrop with the numbers " '06 " in the corner....
Dan Ryan stands in front, peering into the camera...)
Ryan: There's nothing left to save, Mark. Not in you. Not anymore.
Here in the CSWA, no matter who has been in charge over the last fifteen years, things have run pretty much the same from the very beginning. When I made my choice in late 2002 to spit in the face of conventional wisdom and destroy the CSWA World Champion on GXW Television, I knew what I was doing. I knew who I was doing it to and why, and I knew the repercussions.
I knew that when Chad Merritt's anger cooled and he finished destroying his office, the flipping of dollar signs in his eyes would offset that feeling of anger pretty quickly as well. All I had to do was let Paul look like the hero for a show. And so that's how it went. I came to Primetime with my belt and Paul played his hero role and jacked me up on the stage. The crowd goes wild and everyone's happy. Receipt paid, justice served.
But that was never to be the end of it. No matter what the sheets say, I'm not one to ever play my cards for the world to see. I was a businessman even then, though not as polished as today. The one thing I always was, however was a top notch wrestler. That was never in doubt and the only reasoned I was allowed to do the things I did in the first place. That and the fact that Merritt knew I wasn't here to challenge the sanctity of his company. I was here for Evan Aho, and it became in the end all too easy an objective.
And I was warned, Mark. Oh yes, believe me I was warned.
Stephen Thomas didn't blindside me when he stripped me of the title. It's common knowledge around the world of wrestling that the ego trip struggles between Thomas and Merritt have squashed many a young career trying to make a way for themselves in this game.
But I had no illusions of grandeur, Mark. Never did. My head was never bigger than reality and I never took that belt or any other belt as anything more than the symbols that they are. They make those things to symbolize who is on top of the sport at any one given time, but it no more completes me now than it ever did back then.
And that's where saving you becomes absolutely impossible.
It's always been more than that to you. The symbol became your God a long long time ago, and for a man of your advancing years it's just too late to make a change of that magnitude. You can't teach an old dog new tricks, can you? Not unless the dog wants to change on his own - and you don't. We both know that you don't.
You've lost it all, that's true. It's unfortunate as well. But stop blaming the game for your situation, Mark. Decisions got you where you were. There were hardly ever any good ones made were there? Only bad and worse. You had five star talent and one star sense. That, and a flair for the needlessly melodramatic.
It's never an honor to lose in a shot at one of the most prestigious symbols of excellence in this sport, and I'll continue to chase excellence as long as I'm an active competitor in this business. But it will never be all that I am.
I'm sorry that your life has taken such a drastically different turn than mine. But the business, the game....it doesn't swallow us all up whole, Mark. My thirties have brought to me the best years of my life. I guess I peaked in my misery early on.
It's never an honor to be put down, Mark. I don't thrill in losing to your brother, but I don't rage in it either - because there have been other shots in the past, and there will be other shots in the future. And...because if I retire tomorrow, I'll still be fulfilled. Everything from here on is icing on the cake. I do it because I enjoy it.
I'm just not on the emotional road to self-discovery that you're on anymore.
But then again, we are going on a cruise.
I suppose it's the perfect place for some baggage.