ANNIVERSARY 2006 Press Conference
CS Towers, Greensboro, NC
July 22, 2006
"He's IT?" Thomas pulled his head back from plain view and slumped to the base of the bronze statue concealing his despair. "Martha, I go on in three minutes."
"I can stall if you like, see if more show."
"No, I don't want you to bloody sta—what can you do?"
"I've made a replica of Graceland out of paper clips in my office. Maybe he'd want to see that?"
"You don't have an office, " Thomas stated.
"And don't you see what's wrong about that?"
"Oh yeah, God forbid you don't have more room to work in the back forty where Elvis took Lisa Marie and friends on blasted pony rides."
"Every girl should have a pony. The ones that did sure as heck don't grow up to be secretaries for companies existing solely for tax purposes." Martha looked back into the lobby of the CSWA Hall of Fame. "I didn't have a pony."
"If you don't shut up I'm going sell tickets to let kids ride YOU around. That's some girl's dream too, actually."
"And we still do work here, Martha. You know that." Thomas sighed and straightened his tie.
"If you can call Google-mapping a lost Cruise Ship work, sure. We're as busy as bees. Look, Thomas, the only reason I haven't left is because I've got two thousand dollars of dental surgery coming up next week. Health care is a wonderful thing."
"Yeah, about that…"
"I will kill you like a dog!"
"We all make sacrifices Martha. Just, some more than others," Thomas slid the last comment in as he stepped out of the shadow HORNET's life-size statue provided, narrowly avoiding the knock-out uppercut Martha threw at her boss.
As Thomas walked to the podium three more bodies filed into the lobby and were eagerly waved to fill a plethora of empty seats. "Great! More of you then. Bus together from the opening of the new Red Robin?"
"We're here to see the Hall---"
"Sit, sit!" Stephen pointed animatedly to a front row of seats as he took his place behind the podium. Tonight's press conference would make or break the CSWA (again). The words he spoke before a rolling live camera could very well be his last as Chairman of CS Enterprises. The non-existent turnout was a severe blow to the legacy of the CSWA, but since his first day as Captain of the ship, Stephen's come to understand the cliché, "Nothing lasts forever," very well. He remembers a time when press conferences in the CS Towers were media events and lavishly decorated by Thomas and Merritt. Hell, they announced the Main Event for FISH FUND X with white tigers at every entrance. Perhaps the money carelessly thrown away over the years could serve the company well now, but overspending was compensation for growing up in….Greensboro, North Carolina.
"What floor is the video room on? The brochure said we could browse hours worth of classic CSWA moments in a surround sound theater environment."
"Just, shut up and act like you're taking notes. I might need an eyewitness account of the death of my career a little later tonight," the Chairman saluted Marvin Parsons, the longtime producer of CS Enterprises to start the proceedings.
"I'm here to see it, Stephen."
"Martha, damn you! Merritt asked you to get your teeth fixed eight years ago! And now…now of all times you magically discover you DON'T have an engaging smile? Your mouth's been covered long enough, shut it."
"In 3, 2…" Marvin counted down. He'll be able to retire in twenty months. Don't think he's not crossing the days off his Poison Ivy swimsuit calendar. The one McGinnis made as a joke for a handful of employees but ended up with more mileage than a Benson bar tab.
"You're a pitiful excuse for a human being!"
"Oh, am I?" Thomas turned off camera to sarcastically stare the woman he couldn't do without in the eyes.
"What Marvin…did the ice sculpture of Teri's vagina melt again?"
"No, sir. You're live."
Thomas wiped his forehead with the back of his left hand and took a deep breath. "Good evening. Ladies and gentlemen, it's been my pleasure over the last eighteen years to get to know some of you on a very personal level. The CSWA has always been treated with respect by the media, whether we've been atop of the Sports Entertainment world, or dealing with difficulties, such as our recent troubles with our Fan Cruise."
Stephen looked out into the room and imagined the empty seats as unmarked graves for the leagues he and Merritt have outlasted since their inception. "Eighteen years spanning three different decades of historic wrestling action that's been the standard for this industry. No denying that. But why are we here? Why am I here long after the man who saw the dawn of a new day with me all those many, many days ago moved on? Maybe our legacy is complete. Maybe if the CSWA waded into the ocean waters and swam towards the setting sun, nobody could blame us, and maybe nobody would care. We've staked our claim in the world. Blazed our own trail. And we've had a whole lot of damn fun doing it. The question I ask on this summer day is a simple one. What else is there?"
The handful of scattered bodies in attendance looked at one another and agreed.
"What else is there?" Thomas looked off to Martha and smiled. "There's the next year. The next day," Stephen shook off a chill as he spoke. "It's been a disaster of late. And you know, I'm as much to blame for anyone on that front. You don't wake up in the morning and WANT to run a company into the ground or tarnish the legacy so many men and women have poured their own blood, sweat, and tears into making. You don't make that your letterhead of business letters or send out company wide memos with such a mission statement. No. You wake up every damn day of your life wanting to do the best. Wanting to see the next day."
Martha silently put her right hand over her mouth and started to cry.
"Mistakes. I've made a few. But then again. Too few to mention." A small wave of laughter broke out at the Elvis reference. "I don't know whether I have the ability to make the CSWA matter again. I don't know. Probably not, okay. I've been digging since the day I came back into the fold and took over this company, and some would say I've been digging my own grave. Fair enough. If that's the case," he looked out into the crowd, into the teeth of the beast he forged with his best friend and Thomas found a resolve missing, "I've opening my arms to embrace the best sleep I've ever had. I don't know what lies in my ability to turn this company around. To make the UNIFIED title matter once more. But I know. For now. Right now. I have the ability to make a new day. And it's here, in front of my friends and so many of the media members that have been with us since Day One, that I announce our next PPV."
The ghosts rummaged through the halls birthing a faint wind which blew over the stack of papers Thomas held in his hands; A blessing, perhaps, from the spirit of days when the CSWA knew a path not of mice, but of men.
"On August 27th, inside the Thomas," Stephen caught himself and grinned. "Inside the CSWA Auditorium, CS Enterprises presents: CSWA ANNIVERSARY 2006: Coming of Age. I've signed one match, and have no intention of signing another. I promise to you, the fans, that this will be the greatest match in CSWA history. Ladies and gentlemen, your Main Event, your…event," he smiled and laughed at the cloud hanging over his head. Married life has calmed Thomas to much of the pressures that drove him from the business years before. "The ULTIMATE GOLD RUSH match!"
"The what?!" the room asked together.
"I need a dramatic echo when I say that, Martha. Blast, what are you good for?" Thomas laughed, and went back to work. "The ULTIMATE GOLD RUSH match."
"He said," Martha took a step forward, "The ULTIMATE GOLD RUSH match."
Everyone in the room laughed.
"Thank you." Thomas gave a thumbs up to his lovely assistant. "Five rings: one in the center surrounded by four others, one at each corner. The UNIFIED World Championship suspended above the center ring. Wrestlers will be divided into four rings on the periphery, while UNIFIED Champion Troy Windham waits in the center ring. The other three CSWA champions will be placed in the outer rings, one in each ring, leaving one ring with no champion in it. Battle royals will take place in each ring. The last man standing in each ring advances to the center ring against the UNIFIED champion. The ring winner also wins the CSWA championship defended in that ring. In the ring with no champion, the ring winner wins the right to challenge for any title at a later date should he not win the UNIFIED title at the end. As each ring's battle royal finishes, the ring winner automatically advances to the center ring to face the UNIFIED champion in a battle royal. The final man standing in center ring, once all others are eliminated, is the UNIFIED World Champion."
The Chairman took a small step back. "Questions?"
"Does this company currently employee a roster big enough to entertain this concept?" asked the one actual member of media in attendance.
"And there’s the second meaning of the ‘gold rush.’ Not only is it a chance for the competitors to win one of the four CSWA championships, but it’s a chance for those who have always wanted a shot, always wanted to strap that gold around their waist, to come and throw their hat in the ring. The contract for the ULTIMATE GOLD RUSH match is an open contract. Meaning, you walk into the Auditorium on the 27th and you're in the match. It's open to ANY wrestler, in ANY promotion. I don't care if you've never fought before in the CSWA, or have been banned in the CSWA, or just plain don't like the CSWA. This is your night. This is your opportunity."
"Why this match? Why now?"
"Because I'm tired of dreaming small. Because 18 years ago we came through those doors with four men and a few hundred in attendance. And if this is the last thing I ever do, we ever do, and it this stage, everything has to be considered as such, then I refuse to go out with a whimper. And also," Thomas scratched his chin and smiled, "because Troy Windham does not dictate to me the terms THE World title in this business is defended on."
"Are we to believe this is retaliation for Windham's recent refuse to put the belt up against Dan Ryan or his brother Mark Windham?"
"Yes, you're to believe that. Troy said he wouldn't wrestle two men. I'm demanding he face up to four."
"Who do you realistically expect to show up for this? And will Ryan or Windham be eligible?"
"To the latter, no. I'm giving Windham his wish." Thomas smiles. "To your first question. Anybody who's wanted a belt that dates back before their current company's existence should think really hard and long about showing up on the 27th. People look at the CSWA and think what they want to think. But I've always seen it as a place for the best of the best to compete. And we've proven that. If you want the UNIFIED World title, if you want Troy Windham, then I suggest booking a trip to Greensboro on August the 27th."
"More information in the coming days, but for now, I'm off to plan a celebration. Thank you."