Hairless Penguin vs. Owen Cruze
Hairless Penguin vs. Owen Cruze
SCW World Championship

2 RP Limit (No Word limits in effect)

Deadline: Friday, December 30, 2022 at 11:59:59 pm ET (Note deadline for title match)
+++ Miami – 12th December 2022 +++

The overriding feeling that Owen had right now was one of confusion. Why, after everything would Charlotte take her own life. Yes, everything had spiraled out of control, and yes there was no question that she would have to ensure some prison time, but this had come totally out the blue. And Owen had to admit that has he was being asked question by the Police, he wasn’t really listening. Thankfully Charlotte’s sister Max had taken the lead on that, seemingly in her element. The officers, who had introduced themselves as Detectives Cooper and Starling, had been very thorough, getting as big a picture as they possibly could, and seemed more than adequate at their jobs. All Owen wanted to do however was get out there, and start looking for her, not believing that she would take such extreme measures.
Cooper: So, Mr. Cruze…
Owen doesn’t hear him at first, the Detective repeating himself.
Cooper: Mr. Cruze?
Owen snaps from his trance, turning back to the Detective addressing him.
Owen: Sorry, miles away.
Cooper: How would you describe Ms. Byers demeanor the last time you saw her… last night I believe?
Owen: She was struggling with it all… relieved that she wasn’t going to be charged with murder, but still understood that it was likely she was going to jail.
Cooper: And how did she feel about that?
Owen puffs out his cheeks, the questioning already starting to irritate him.
Owen: Well, she wasn’t happy about it obviously.
The detective, trained in matters such as this, immediately picks up on Owen’s annoyance.
Cooper: We are only trying to help Sir; we are not the enemy here.
Owen: Yeah, I know… sorry.
Starling: It’s OK, we know how difficult this is. Believe me, we’ve dealt with a lot worse.
Owen nods, glad of the understanding and feeling more than a little guilty with the way he had reacted. He takes a deep breath, to compose himself, Cooper, reiterating his question.
Cooper: So, how would you say she was feeling emotionally?
Owen: I thought she was doing ok. She knew that she had done wrong and was ready to face the music. I even had Scott’s Mother here and the two of them somehow hashed it out.
Cooper: Scott?
Owen: He was the bar manager at Charlotte’s… died a few days back from his injuries.
Cooper: Ah yes… so you don’t see any reason why she would try and escape ‘justice’?
Owen: No, not at all… it was like. It’s difficult to explain.
Starling: Take your time Owen.
Owen: It was like she wanted to be punished. Like she knew that she wouldn’t be able to move on unless she was. I just don’t get why she would…
Owen hesitates, seeing the look on Max’s face.
Cooper: Please, continue. Anything you can tell us could be of help.
Owen lowers his head, looking at the floor for a moment, then brings it up again and says the words that everyone else was thinking.
Owen: I just don’t understand why she would take her own life. It’s just not like her at all.
Starling writes something down, and then looks back towards Owen.
Starling: We are working with all options Mr. Cruze… including the possibility that Ms. Byers hasn’t taken her own life at all.
Owen had to admit, the thought had crossed his mind, but the situation seemed so cut and dry.
Max: You think she could still be alive?
Owen had forgotten that Max was still here, her voice contained hope for the first time, as if she’d never really considered the possibility.
Cooper: From what Mr. Cruze tells us, Ms. Byers didn’t seem like she was desperate to escape from it all. The profile we are building of her, she seems like a confident woman, who’s situation got so bad, setting fire to her bar was the only way she could get out of her financial difficulties. Of course, we know what that means in the eyes of the law, but a large proportion of the time, manslaughter is nothing more than a tragic accident, as is the case here.
Starling: We don’t want to give you false hope, that’s not our job. But until we locate a body…
Owen: Is that the next phase?
Starling: Divers will be setting up shortly… so yes. But until we find a body, there is every possibility that Ms. Byers changed her mind after meeting with the victim’s Mother and chose to escape from it all and try and start a new life. The longer it takes for us to find that body, the more possible that scenario is.
Max: I just don’t think she would leave me… we were so close.
Owen almost scoffs, knowing that statement was nothing like the case. In fact, only a few days before her disappearance, Charlotte had been ranting to him about her overbearing Sister. The way she felt, ‘getting away’ could have been just as much about Max as Scott’s tragic death. He doesn’t say anything however, not wanting to kick her whilst she was obviously down.
Cooper: Well, I think we have everything we need for now. We may need to ask more question’s later; can we assume that you will be available?
Max nods, she was always around Miami, Cooper then turning to Owen.
Owen: I’ll be out of state from Wednesday, I’m a pro-wrestler and have a show Thursday. I’ll be back Saturday, but if you need anything I’ve always got my cell phone with me.
Cooper: OK, thank you.
Starling: Try not to worry. And if we have any further information, we’ll be sure to let you know.
The Detectives get to their feet, Owen shaking both of their hands and then walking with them towards the front door.
Owen: And sorry… with the abruptness and all.
Cooper: Don’t think anything of its Sir, these kinds of situations play with the emotions. We are more than used to dealing with it, and we didn’t take any offence. You get a feeling about these kinds of things, and let’s just say I don’t believe everything is quite as it seems. We’ll be in touch once the Divers have done their thing, until then try to enjoy the rest of your day.
Owen: We’ll do our best.
The Detective nods, Owen closing the door behind them and then walking back into the kitchen where he had left Max. No sooner has he entered the room does Max engage him in conversation.
Max: So, what do you think?
Owen: I think we shouldn’t be tying ourselves in knots with the whys and wherefores. It’s not doing you any favors.
Max: But do you agree with the Police? Do you think she could be alive?
Owen shrugs his shoulders, still not sure what to think.
Owen: Honestly Max, I don’t know. It all seems a little elaborate to me, and why would she go through all that, knowing that you’d think she was dead.
Max looks away from him at this point, Owen sensing something was wrong.
Owen: Max, is there something you’re not telling me?
Max takes a seat, clearly troubled by something, Owen taking a seat of his own across from her.
Max: This morning… we had an argument.
Owen: About what?
Max: You.
Owen: Me? What about me?
Max: I told her that she was paying too much attention to you, instead of listening to her own Sister.
Owen: So, you were jealous?
Max hesitates, not wanting to part with the words but knowing she didn’t have any choice.
Max: Yes, I was… I was jealous that she obviously had a better relationship with you that she did her own Sister.
Owen: That wasn’t the case Max
Max: Wasn’t it? The way she hung on everything you said, it was pathetic.
Owen tries to divert the conversation away from him and tries to understand what was said.
Owen: OK, whatever… so what did you say to her?
Max: I told her the truth, a truth that no one was telling her. I told her that she wouldn’t survive in prison, even if it was for only a couple of years.
Owen: Why would you do that? She needed this.
Max: No, she didn’t… it would have killed her.
Owen: And now you think she’s killed herself, don’t you?
Max: I do… because I made her feel like she didn’t have any choice.
Owen knew what guilt was like, how it could eat you up inside. He knew that right now, Max was blaming herself, for giving Charlotte what she believed were home truths. Home truths that had potentially pushed her over the edge. After speaking with the cops, Owen had been filled with hope, that she could still be alive somewhere. Now, he wasn’t so sure, but he wasn’t going to give up hope. She deserved more than that.
Owen: You don’t know that Max… no one knows for sure.
Max: And if I’m right, and it was me.
Then she would have to deal with it, but Owen doesn’t say that. He didn’t have to because Max knew it full well. Owen didn’t want to be harsh, but Max wasn’t his problem, Charlotte was. And if she was still alive, Owen still wanted to help her. In any way he could.
+++ Miami – 13th December 2022 +++
Owen had spent most of yesterday standing back from the jetty, praying that nothing would be found, a sudden surge of commotion revealing the worst. At the end of the day, the team had packed up their stuff, no one anymore the wiser. Since yesterday after Owen hadn’t seen Max, and was thankful for that, her problems something Owen didn’t want to deal with on top of everything else. And as he woke and padded across the cold floor of his bedroom, straight into the cold shower to wake himself and then pull on his shorts, a tee-shirt and trainers, he was ready to once again pound the beach, in readiness for the Trios Tournament. He’d resolved that never again would his professional career and personal life merge to one. Something he had proven on December 8th, claiming the World Championship even with everything going on. And so, with a real feeling that today was a new day, he opens the front door, immediately confronted by none other than Bradley Comer, Pixie’s boyfriend, who had tried to get him to invest in a resort in Hawaii, and who since Owen had found was nothing like on the level.
Bradley: Sorry to bother you this early Owen, but as I was in Miami, thought I’d call on the off chance.
Owen’s defenses were already up, the time of day, and Bradley conveniently being in Miami a short-sighted attempt at covering up his real reasons to be here.
Owen: I was just heading out.
Bradley: This will just take a moment Owen; I just want to say something and then I’ll be gone.
With a sigh, Owen steps aside and motions for Bradley to come in. Part of Owen believed this wasn’t a good idea, but the other part was intrigued as to what Bradley could possibly have to say. Bradley makes his way into the kitchen, pulling out a chair and then checking with Owen that it is ok to sit. A nod from Owen and Bradley is seated, Owen choosing to stay stood.
Owen: Can I get you a drink?
Bradley: No, it’s fine… like I said, I won’t be staying long. I would just appreciate the opportunity to explain myself that’s all… and to apologize for my conduct.
Now Owen was even more intrigued, an apology being the last thing he had expected. Owen reaches to the refrigerator, and pulls out a bottle of water, unscrewing the top and taking a drink, never taking his eyes off Bradley.
Owen: So, what you got to say?
Bradley: First and foremost, I want to apologize. I had no right going off at you in New York, and certainly not in your place of business. Doing what I do, it can get kind of stressful, and although not an excuse, I do believe that the stresses were getting to me.
Owen shrugs, fact was he wasn’t even the slightest concerned what had happened in New York and had given it very little thought since.
Owen: It’s fine, wasn’t the first time I’ve been screamed at and certainly won’t be the last.
Bradley: Well, that’s very kind of you, but it isn’t the right way to conduct business and so therefore I apologize.
Owen: OK, apology accepted.
Owen knew that Bradley couldn’t have had the first clue what Chris Clay had uncovered, and as such, Owen was interested as to how he was going to pass it off. Owen knew he was some kind of ‘Golden Goose’ to Bradley, who had the means to make a real difference to his ‘investment’ even if that investment was nothing more than a scam.
Owen: So, is that it? Like I said, I was just headed out.
Bradley: No… no that isn’t it.
Knowing what he knew, Owen immediately recognized the beginning of a new sales pitch. Bradley obviously hadn’t given up the chase, and as such he was going to come at it with a new tact. Owen has to do his best to keep a straight face, him knowing what Bradley could not, not yet at least. That this was all going to be more lies and untruths to get money that he had literally no chance of receiving.
Owen: Look, I don’t want to be rude, but I am in a hurry.
Bradley: OK, so I’m going to level with you
‘That would be a first’ is the first thing to enter Owen’s head, but he bites his tongue.
Bradley: I’m in trouble… and I need this investment to happen. If I don’t get the funds, and this whole project goes under, then I’m going to be in real danger of going bankrupt. It’s the reason I lost it Owen, I’ve tried all the other investors, I’ve tried to get more money out of them to get this over the line, but you were my last hope.
Owen was enjoying this, seeing Bradley squirm his way, trying to somehow fool Owen into relinquishing his cash on what he knew was nothing more than a ‘work’.
Owen: Fact remains though Bradley, my money is tied up in the school and shelter.
Bradley: 10K Owen, that’s all that is needed to rescue this whole thing. To make sure that people don’t lose this amazing opportunity.
Owen: 10K?
Owen purposely says it as if to give him hope, a hope that Owen reads etched all over his face. Sensing this, Bradley swings for the bases, to deliver what he believed would be the killer blow.
Bradley: That’s all… and I know I don’t deserve it after how I acted before in New York. But if you won’t do it for me…, do it for Pixie. I’m not the only one here who stands to lose.
And there it was, the emotional blackmail that Owen had expected. Using someone who Owen cared about to squeeze out every dime of the scam that he possibly could. There was no question, his face looked genuine, but underneath was a man determined only to close out the deal, anyway he could.
Bradley: Don’t let your feelings for me cost you this opportunity Owen. This could make you a fortune, and you know it.
Enough was enough… and Owen pulls out his mobile phone, opening a browser and a webpage that he had in his favorites. He then slides it across the table, Bradley looking at the screen and his eyes widening.
Owen: You recognize that I assume.
Bradley doesn’t say a word and doesn’t look up towards Owen.
Owen: That Bradley, is the land that you’ve been trying to sell me and others, land that already has a state-of-the-art hotel, built just under two years ago. Did you really think I was that stupid, that I wouldn’t check the individual that I was about to do business with? Seems you have quite a reputation when it comes to ‘deals’ like this.
Bradley: Owen, I…
He finally looks up, knowing full well that he is bang to rights. Owen holds up his hand, stopping him in his tracks.
Owen: Nah, don’t want to hear it, Bradley. Don’t want to hear your excuses, I just want you out of my house. You just want to think yourself lucky that I’ve got more than enough going on in my life to contend with, and I don’t see reason to report you. I know a couple of detectives that would love to hear what you’ve been up to.
Bradley gets to his feet, and Owen truly believes that he is going to lose his temper again, so Owen stands too just in case. But instead, Bradley reveals a man who wasn’t lying when he said he was in trouble, and who had seen all his hopes and dreams unravel before him.
Owen: Oh, and if you think you’re still going to fleece Pixie, think again. Her ex-husband, my Uncle Shaun is having lunch with her today, and he’s going to tell him exactly what you’ve been up to. My advice to you, give her back her cash and then disappear.
Owen leans forwards, placing the palms of his hand on the table and leaning forwards.
Owen: Because believe me, they might not be together, but Shaun still cares a lot about Pixie. And if you don’t disappear, Shaun will have no problem grassing you up.
Bradley nods, looking more than a little sorry for himself. Heading to the door, but Owen placing a hand on his chest and stopping him in his tracks.
Owen: Disappear. Understand?
Another nods, and Bradley is gone, the door not even slamming behind him as he leaves. Owen grins, at least something good having happened, in amongst all the recent crap of late. Owen picks up his phone and dials a number, waiting for someone to answer
The voice is instantly recognizable, it being that of his Uncle Shaun.
Owen: I’ve just had a visit Shaun… Guess who?
+++ Miami – 17th December 2022 +++
It may not have been the clean-cut victory that they were looking for, but Owen, Nicole and Ravyn had regardless advanced to the next round of Trios, and a step closer to a contract that may come in useful in 2023. As such, it was now time to focus only on the World Championship defense that would be occurring at the End of Year Special. A night which would once again either signify a giant step forward, or another failing to learn from. The last time he had held the world championship, he hadn’t even managed a single title defense. This time he was intent on going on step further, retaining the Championship to kick of the New Year. The fans had voted, and Hairless Penguin would be the person stepping up to the plate. Someone who no question was a legitimate threat to everything that Owen wanted, considering only a few weeks ago the two of them had one heck of a battle. As such, this Christmas wouldn’t be about excess, or enjoying his Christmas to the full. This New Year would be all about proving that he belonged, and he was far more capable of carrying the responsibility than when he had been nineteen years old. Only a victory would achieve that, an honorable defeat would change nothing. He wanted to show the world that he belonged, and that it wasn’t just a couple of one offs that had brought him to the show. He’d slayed the monster in Xander Valentine, but it would mean nothing if he relinquished the belt at the first hurdle. This his preparation HAD to be on the money, and so it would be. And preparation these days meant running down the beach and to the local gym, and then running back, not matter how his legs burned. Constantly working on his stamina that had ensured his victory over Valentine. He wasn’t a one trick pony anymore, but that didn’t mean that his greatest attribute had stopped being a potent weapon. And it always would be. As he enters the house and picks up the post from the floor, throwing them on the counter, he immediately makes his way to the freezer, pulling out a bottle of coke and popping the cap, taking a long swig, then he filters through the post, stopping at one that didn’t look like the usual circulars, postmarked ‘Toronto’. Still none the wiser, he rips open the envelope and pulls out a letter, only now realizing the significance of this correspondence. Recognizing the handwriting, he sits himself down, feeling the need to, his legs already heavy from the work out. He then starts to read to himself.
‘My Dearest Owen,
I hope this letter finds you well.
No, this isn’t a note from the afterlife, this isn’t proof that this is something else.
No, all this letter proves is that I am just a much the coward that I know you thought I was. That I couldn’t face up to the responsibilities of what I’d done.
Other than yourself, Scott was my best friend, a confidante. Someone who helped me build the business into what it became. I can’t expect you to understand, but what I did, the pain I felt was as if I had killed my own brother.
I thought I could take my punishment. I thought I could spend time in prison and come out a changed woman. But that wouldn’t have taken anything away. It doesn’t take anything away. And I couldn’t live with all the looks, even after I had done my time. The only closure I could give people was by making them believe that I was gone forever. That I’d taken my own life, having taken Scott. And Owen, that’s the way it has to stay.
Max was right, I couldn’t have spent time in prison. I’m right, I couldn’t come back to Miami after what I did. Scott’s Mum might have said the words, but I would have been a constant reminder to her of what I did. I didn’t want that for her, so here I am.
In time, I’ve not doubt that the case will be closed, and I will just be another statistic, another case that could never be solved. By the time this letter reaches you, I will no longer be in Toronto (I know you’re not stupid and you’ll have seen the postmark.) I won’t tell you where I’m going, and I’m not even going to try and pretend I’m happy. But this IS for the best. Not just for you, but for everyone. And that’s why even though I don’t deserve it, I ask one final favor from you. Keep my secret, take it to your grave. Destroy this letter, and don’t ever tell anyone that you read it. I know I’m asking a lot of you but know that this is the only way. The only way for everyone to move on.
Owen, I wish things could have turned out differently. There will always be a part of me that will wonder what could have happened if you weren’t so besotted with Jennifer, obviously the love of your life. I hope the wedding goes well, and the two of you get your happily ever after, because if there is anyone who deserves that, its you. Take care Owen, know that I’ll always be thinking of you, and more than anything, thank you.
Owen places the letter on the table in front of him, relief his primary emotion, tinged with a hint of sadness. She was alive, and that was something. But Owen knew he’d never see her again, and that hurt. More than anyone would ever know.
+++ Miami – 17th December 2022. Later that day +++
To keep up the appearance, Owen had still walked the beach front, to find a clue or two that he now knew he never would. He’d even made his way to the jetty, the diving team no longer stationed there, seemingly having, and quite rightfully, given up hope. Max hadn’t been to the house since, a fact that Owen was glad about, but she had tried to call him on no less than three occasions just today, Owen ignoring the call every time. He wasn’t sure he could lie to her, knowing what he knew. He couldn’t however ignore the Detectives that appear on the back porch, staring through the patio doors directly at him. After getting over the shock of them being there, he gets to his feet and opens the door.
Cooper: So sorry Mr. Cruze, didn’t mean to startle you but no one answered round the front.
Owen: Sorry, didn’t hear you. In a world of my own...
Rather than invite them in, especially knowing that the letter was still sat on the side, he steps out onto the patio, and leans with his back against the fence that surrounds it.
Cooper: Understandable. You seem to have a lot going on right now and the time of year never helps.
Owen: Guess there isn’t ever really a great time for a friend to go missing.
Starling: No, I guess not.
There follows an awkward silence, they were obviously here for a reason and weren’t sure how to put it.
Owen: So, how can I help the both of you?
Cooper: And you know, we have been searching the bay for the last few days, with little to no success. Considering tides, currents etc., then it was an educated guess that if something was going to be found it would have been by now. So, we’ve pulled them away from the case.
Owen was trying to say as little as possible, not wanting to implicate himself. So he just nods.
Starling: You don’t seem very surprised by that.
There was no implication in his voice, but that didn’t stop Owen as taking it as such.
Owen: As I said… I can’t believe for one second, she would take her own life. She’s just not the type to just give up.
Cooper: We are inclined to agree with you Owen, there is something about this that isn’t really adding up.
Owen: What do you mean?
Starling: It’s just a theory now, but to your knowledge did Charlotte have any enemies that might want to hurt her?
Owen: Not at all, everyone loved her.
Cooper: And what about Scott’s family?
Owen: It was just Scott and his mom, and his mom loves Charlotte, she even forgave her. Do you think someone did this to her?
Owen was playing his part better than he thought possible, but at the same time understood this was the definition of wasting police time.
Cooper: Like we said Mr. Cruze, we have a few theories right now we are working through. But right now, suicide seems the least likely and anything that you could tell us to help would be more than appreciated.
Owen shrugs his shoulders, giving as much impression that he could of knowing nothing.
Owen: She’s kicked a few out the bar of course she has, but the next day they were always allowed back in when they had sobered up. Seriously, no one would have a motive to kill her.
Starling: We didn’t say kill her Mr. Cruze
Owen gulps, for the first time truly feeling like he was being put on the spot even though he probably wasn’t.
Owen: So, you think she may have been kidnapped?
The Detective smiles, and Owen says the sentence before he has chance, which also has the benefit of easing the tension in Owen’s shoulders.
Owen: It’s just a theory… I get it.
Cooper: Indeed.
Starling: If you think of anything though Owen, no matter how inconsequential you may think it is, get in contact. And if anyone contacts you, whether it be Charlotte, or anyone connected to all this, let us know.
Owen: Will do.
Cooper passes Owen a card with his name and number on, Starling making his way to the gate.
Cooper: Speak soon Mr. Cruze. Thank you for your time.
Cooper leaves, and the two Detectives leave down the side of the house, Owen immediately going inside and picking up the letter, folding it, and placing it in his back pocket. Owen had hoped they were going to drop it, but it seemed that unfortunately Charlotte has two of the more tenacious cops assigned to her case. As it stood however, all Owen had to do was stay quiet, and Charlotte stay elusive. Right now, however, Owen wasn’t confident of either.
+++ New York – 19th December 2022 +++
Although everything was happening in Miami, that didn’t mean that everything else was being put on hold, and Owen needed to check out ‘Level Up’ and ensure that everything was still running like clockwork. He knew it would be, Finch and Chloe had been doing an amazing job, and were working well together, when they weren’t flirting. But for Owen it was a part of his character… the ‘control freak’ within him when something was important. And although the police investigation was of course important, so was the school and shelter which had gone from strength to strength since opening, and which would expand in the New Year when the building next door was ready. It was an exciting time, and Owen wanted to show his gratitude… whilst also making sure everything was in order.
Finch: Are you sure, I mean this is quite extravagant?
Finch admires his Tag Heuer watch on his wrist, a Christmas gift from Owen.
Owen: Bro, I couldn’t have done any of this without you. You’ve taken this project and ran with it, and I couldn’t be any more grateful considering. You deserve it mate.
Chloe: I’ve only been here five minutes; you didn’t have to thank me.
For Chloe, it had been the latest iPhone as well as Smartwatch, something Owen knew she had her eye on for a while.
Owen: Dude, working with Finch for five seconds is more than enough for some people. No, in all seriousness without you guys, plus Jason and Willow, where are they by the way?
Finch: Lunch… shopping, I think.
Owen: OK, well their gifts are in the office, if I’m gone by the time, they get here…
Finch: Yeah, I’ll make sure they get them.
Owen: There’s stuff in there for the students… plus the residents as well. Don’t think I’ve missed anyone out. Just wanted to make it clear that it’s a team effort, all the way from top to bottom.
Finch: And I’m sure it’s appreciated… and talking of which, we had a new potential resident rock up this morning, someone who you might want to cast your eye over.
Owen: Oh? You don’t usually ask.
Finch: Yeah, well this guy is a little different.
Chloe: We weren’t sure what you would want us to do. Considering the circumstances.
Owen: Well, now you have me intrigued. What’s the story?
Finch: Kids name is Landon Morris, ring any bells?
Owen: No can’t say it does.
Finch: What about Eric Morris?
Owen: Nope, should I?
Chloe: Honestly, sometimes you are a proper embarrassment, how out of touch are you?
Finch: Eric Morris owns Zuuzoo… the current trending Social Media platform. Guys a Billionaire, one of the richest men in New York.
Owen: OK, so who’s Landon?
Chloe: Join the dots dude. Landon is Eric’s entitled sixteen-year-old son.
Chloe and Finch wait a moment, watching as the cogs whirr in Owen’s brain until the lightbulb goes off.
Owen: So why the heck is he turning up at a shelter for the homeless.
Finch: Exactly bro… exactly.
Owen motions towards the office, and Chloe and Finch follow him inside, all three of them taking a seat.
Owen: OK, so what’s the kids story?
Finch: Turns up late last night, almost kicking down the door to get in. Tells me his name, and me not being ignorant to the world realizes who he is. Says that he’s been kicked out of home, that his Father is abusive, the regular stuff and that he can’t go back home. Obviously, I’m a little cynical with the whole thing, but he seemed genuinely scared.
Owen: What about his Mom?
Finch: Estranged from Eric apparently, and currently going through a messy divorce in which she is trying to claim half of everything.
Owen: So, can’t he go live with his Mom for a while?
Finch: Asked that question as well… and apparently not. Good old Eric has frozen her bank accounts and so she is having to stay with friends and no room at the inn for poor old Landon.
Owen: OK, so what’s your gut feel?
Finch: Honestly?
Owen: Yeah, give it to me.
Finch: Give it a couple of days without his home comforts and he’ll go crawling back home. Sounds to me like a kid just acting out because he hasn’t gotten his way.
Owen: And the abuse part?
Finch: We can report it to social services, get them to check in and make sure all’s good. But I seriously don’t believe that this is a case for us to fill out all the paperwork required to get him a permanent place here.
Owen: So, what you thinking?
Finch: Give him shelter for a couple of days, give him chance to digest his options. Maybe let Andy have a session with him, see if he can pick up on anything. My guess, before the end of the week it will all have resolved itself and Landon will be back home on the PS5, VR set up and giant cinema screen.
Owen: Chloe?
Chloe: I agree. And if things do escalate, we can always reevaluate. I reckon he’ll be home for Christmas… can you imagine the presents a billionaires son gets?
Owen thinks on it for a few seconds, before nodding his head.
Owen: OK, give him a bed for a couple of nights, and we’ll see how the land lies then. But yeah, get Andy to book a session in as soon as possible, today if he can. I don’t want this to blow up in our faces when it turns out the kid really was in trouble.
Finch: Not a problem, I’ll call him once we are done.
Owen: Cool, anything else I should know about?
Finch: Not that I can think of. Oh, actually… the contractors came round the other day and said that they will start work on next door mid-January. Should complete for the end of March they reckon.
Owen: Brilliant
Finch: And then what will the next stage be?
Owen: Places like this all around the world… but for that I’m going to need investment.
Finch: Uncle Shaun?
Owen: Amongst others yes. But that’s for another time. Till then, you two just keep doing what you are doing. Cannot be prouder of what we are achieving, and it looks like next year is going to be even bigger.
Finch: Another step towards world domination huh?
Owen: Another step towards giving back…
Finch nods, Chloe smiling at Owen who returns the gesture. This year had been spectacular to Owen, and he was intent on making 2023 even bigger and better. At 22 years of age, he finally felt like his life was on the right track. But more importantly, he truly believed that his father would be proud of him. And that, to Owen, was more important than anything.
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+++ New York – 20th December 2022 +++

Owen had spent a good few days in New York, catching up with old friends whilst still maintaining his fitness, knowing what soon he would know his opponent in the End of Year special, an opponent chosen by the fans. If he was honest with himself, he’d not even given Miami any thought, and as he probably now wouldn’t go back until after the New Year Special. And anyway, staying out of the way meant that he couldn’t put his foot in it and reveal Charlotte’s secret. There was no question that he felt guilty for lying to the Police, and he understood that if they were ever found out, he would no doubt be in a lot of trouble. But although it felt like a character flaw right now, he pacified himself by focusing on the fact he was helping his friend, in whatever why he could. Even more so as he’d not picked up on her struggles in order to help her never get into this situation in the first place. But his time in New York was ending, and this evening he would be flying to Los Angeles for the holidays, Jennifer and him spending it with their nearest and dearest. Jennifer was already in LA, but Owen had time for one last goodbye to the staff, students and residents of Level Up. Having spoken with several students and residents, he was now mulling around the ring. Jason, Willow, Finch and Chloe all nearby.
Owen: So, Jason, what you and Willow doing for the holidays?
Jason: Just a quiet one I reckon… getting too old for anything else.
Willow: Speak for yourself.
Owen: Never change Willow
Willow: I have no intention of doing so.
Jason: And let’s face it, I don’t want her too.
Owen turns to Finch and Chloe who are engaged in their own conversation.
Owen: And what about you guys?
Chloe: Going home for Christmas Day, back here on the 26th.
Finch: I’m staying… which has not impressed my Mom, but someone has to take care of the place right. Reed and I might be going out, dude wants to say thanks.
Owen: Cool, well make sure you all have a good one and come back raring to go. Big plans for 2023 and need you all on top of your game.
Jason: When am I anything…
The door to Level Up bursts open, and a guy Owen doesn’t recognize comes storming over. It doesn’t take Owen long to realize he is making a beeline for Landon, who Owen had only introduced himself to ten minutes earlier. As Eric Morris nearly reaches Landon, Finch instinctively steps in front of him.
Finch: Does there seem to be a problem Sir?
Eric: Yes, you are keeping my son captive in this place.
Finch: I assure you; Landon is here of his own free will. If you would like to step into the office, perhaps we can chat.
Landon: Dad, leave it.
Eric looks at Finch with real indignation, totally ignoring his son.
Eric: I’m not here to talk, I’m only here to take my son home.
Finch: But according to Landon, he doesn’t want to come home so…
Eric has had enough and tries to push past Finch who stands his ground.
Eric: If you know what is good for you, you’ll get out my way.
Finch still doesn’t flinch, but he is nothing like Eric’s size, and the much bigger man pushes Finch to the ground, before grabbing Landon by the arm and dragging him away. Owen is about to make a move, but Jason is closer, and he grabs Landon’s jacket, Eric trying to push Jason in the same way he did Finch. Jason is a must different proposition however, and on pure instinct he swings an arm, punching Eric on the side of the jaw, Morris dropping to the floor.
Owen: JASON!!
Landon helps his Father up, but Eric shrugs him off, his face reddened, partly from the blow but mostly from embarrassment. He turns to Jason, who now has a hand on his chest from Owen, stopping him from doing further damage. Eric points directly at Jason, a look of pure fury on his face.
Eric: You’re going to regret that.
Jason: I don’t think so
Eric: Do you know who I am?
Jason: An asshole?
Eric: Ah, cocky huh? Let’s she how cocky you are when the cops come and arrest you. One call…
Jason: Do you need the number?
Eric: No, I have a direct line to the chief… you don’t realize how much trouble you’re in son.
Jason doesn’t respond again, Owen more than thankful for that.
Eric: Landon. Come on.
Owen watches as Landon and his Father leave the school, before then turning to Jason.
Jason: What? He was asking for it.
Owen: Maybe, but you just struck someone’s Father, someone who has real pull in this city and could really damage the reputation of this place.
Willow: He won’t do anything; he was only bluffing.
Finch gets to his feet, a little shaken up by the altercation.
Finch: Damn, he was an asshole.
Jason: You OK man?
Finch: Yeah, I will be, thanks for stepping in bro.
Jason: My pleasure… though it seems like the boss doesn’t think so.
Owen: I get it Jason, the guys a douche, no question about it. But that reaction is exactly what we are trying to teach these kids how to avoid. Everything doesn’t always need resolving by throwing fists.
Jason: Yeah? Well maybe next time I’ll let someone kick the shit out of your mate, and then drag a kid out of here forcibly.
Jason doesn’t entertain the conversation any further and rolls under the bottom rope to where some of the students have been watching on. Willow shrugs her shoulders at Owen, and then joins her husband, showing her thoughts on the matter.
Chloe: Jason did nothing wrong Owen
Finch: Gotta admit bro, he was only looking out for me.
Owen: I get that guys, truly I do.
Finch: Yeah? Well, it seems like in this instance you care more about the reputation, than what is right. Have a good flight Owen, see you in the New Year.
Finch walks away, leaving just Chloe with Owen, Owen with a stunned look on his face.
Chloe: You can’t blame them, Owen. I get what you are saying, but sometimes you gotta stand up for what’s right. Even to someone like him.
Owen looks towards the ring where Jason is already training his students, then at Finch walking towards the office, and then finally at Chloe, nodding his head. Chloe smiles, and throws her arms around him, giving him a kiss on his cheek.
Chloe: Have a good Christmas bro… love you.
Owen: Love you too.
Chloe heads off in the same direction as Finch, Owen heading towards the door, scanning the gym as he leaves. He catches the glance of Reed James, who nods an acknowledgement, Owen nodding back. With a final look around the gym, he heads out the door, which closes shut behind him.
+++ Los Angeles – 24th December 2022 +++
Although what had happened at Level Up remained on his mind for a while, by the time he touched down in LA it was at least for now forgotten, as he concentrated on the festivities that he would be spending with nearly all his immediate family. Jennifer’s family living in LA made it easier, but then the fact that both Kloe and Taylor were there too made it the perfect place to be, as well as Shaun and Angyalka. It could have been a rush to get around everyone, but Owen had managed to get in some last-minute shopping for his wife-to-be, someone whom he wanted to spoil every single day, even if he told he not to. He had to admit though that he was glad to get away from the last-minute shoppers and being able to sit down with Shaun with a beer.
Shaun: So, you ready for Christmas then? I can imagine everything has been a bit of a blur over the past month.
Owen: It’s been interesting that’s for sure.
Shaun: And becoming World Champion again… I’m guessing folk are saying it’s because of me?
Owen: Of course… anything but to accept the fact I achieved something. Sometimes wonder what it would take for people to realize I’m the real deal, it’s not like everyone pins Xander Valentine is it?
Shaun: Good luck with that. It’s something that comes unfortunately with the Cruze name, and it doesn’t even stop when you’re retired. Keep doing your thing, care only about those that matter and you’ll be fine. Oh, and get that first title defense in the bag, because that’s not something you need to be carrying into 2023. People know how good you are Owen; they’re just not grown up enough to admit it. You’ve come a million miles away from where you were at the last End of year Special. Just think, last year you were starting again with a match against Drake Hemingway, and this year you’re defending the most prestigious title in professional wrestling. That’s something to be proud of Owen.
Owen: I know… and I am. I just don’t want to get a reputation like Dad did, able to win the title but not then run with it.
Shaun: Owen, you’ve won the World title twice at the age of twenty-two. You can do things in that ring that Orlando and I could only dream of. Look how you took Xander down, what the hell was that? But seriously, this is my point. You put enough pressure on yourself without buying into the opinions of others. Continue doing you, and you’ll be fine. I do have to admit though, I’m still intrigued as to what Olek was up to, testing you how he did. I don’t know, maybe it was just to prove that you were indeed the real deal.
Owen: I guess one day we might find out.
Owen lifts the bottle of beer, Shaun doing the same before both take a sip.
Shaun: So, how’s Level Up coming along?
Owen: It’s doing great… got some real talent there. Got a real feeling about a few of them… especially Reed. Might not make it as a wrestler, but Jason says he’s got a real feel of MMA.
Shaun: So that’s the plan then… branch out in all combat sports?
Owen: Exactly, by the time we are through we’ll have multiple classes run by multiple trainers.
Shaun: And let me guess, in states all over America
Owen: To begin with… sure. But that’s going to take investment, and I don’t want to walk before I can run.
Shaun: Well Owen, I might be interested, and I know Blake is always looking out for opportunities.
Owen: I might hold you both to that.
Shaun: Please, think of me if you do expand. It’s a solid idea…
Owen: Amy did it first.
Shaun: Sure… and it’s good that you recognize that. It’s that kind of humility that makes you good at running a place like that.
Owen: I don’t really, Finch…
Shaun holds up his hand, stopping Owen in his tracks.
Shaun: Owen, just stop, you need to stop dumbing this down. OK, Amy gave you the idea, but you built your own, in its own vision, and that should be applauded. And I’m telling you now that Amy would be saying the exact same thing. I say it again, your twenty-two years old. Most people your age is out chasing skirt and getting drunk every night. You’ve already sold a successful business, are now running another, and you have a successful professional wrestling career. Orlando didn’t do that to this extent. I didn’t do that till I was in my thirties. But you’re doing it at TWENTY-TWO years old. Start embracing that Owen and start taking pride in it.
Shaun takes another sip of the drink
Shaun: Rant over.
Shaun lifts the bottle up again, and the two clink the bottles together, Owen with a smirk on his face.
Owen: So, did you speak with Pixie? Or have you been too obsessed with my life and what I do and don’t take pride in.
Shaun: World Champion or not sunshine, I’ll still kick your ass.
Owen: You can try.
Shaun rolls his eyes but continues regardless.
Shaun: She obviously was a little upset, I had to show her the facts, and what Chris Clay had found out about Mr. Comer. But once she got her head around it, and her inner bitch floated to the surface, she was just angry, and ready to make him pay. So, she withdrew her investment, which thankfully she’d not released the funds when I spoke with her. Then she called him up and finished the relationship on the spot.
Owen: And I’m guessing he kicked off like the angry little man that he is?
Shaun: Apparently, she didn’t give him chance. Hung up the phone before he had chance to react. I’ve got a feeling we won’t be hearing from him again now that Pixie has put him in his place. She might look cute, if there is one attribute, she got from her Dad it was her ruthlessness. You cross her, and you’ll suffer. Pixie says thank you by the way… things would have been a lot worse if you’d not had the foresight to get Chris involved. Hopefully she’ll find someone special soon, because she deserves it.
Even though Pixie and Shaun had divorced a long time ago, thanks to her infidelity, Shaun still cared a great deal for her, so much so her and Angyalka were firm friends.
Owen: Are you seeing the kids?
Shaun: Yeah, Pixie is bringing them over tomorrow and we are spending Christmas together.
Owen: You’re a lucky guy… able to have them all under one roof.
Shaun: I’m lucky that Angyalka is so understanding. Family is everything to me, more than the money, or the fame or any of that stuff. And I got a feeling that you understand that too.
Owen: I do.
Shaun: Good, then you won’t go far…
Shaun stops, interrupted by the sound of a car alarm going off, an alarm that Shaun recognizes has his. He immediately jumps to his feet, Owen doing the same as Shaun grabs his keys. He opens the door, and looks left and right, seeing nothing, before using the key to kill the alarm, before then walking to the front of the car, the front windscreen totally shattered.
Shaun: What the fuck?
Angyalka comes outside, and seeing the damage brings her hands to her face in shock. Owen opening the car door and reaching onto the driver’s seat, bringing out a brick with what looks like a gift tag attached. He reads it, and then passes the brick to Shaun, his eyes widening as he sees the message.
‘Merry Christmas’
Scene fades.
+++ Toronto – 30th December 2022 +++
As the scene opens, Owen nods a greeting, acknowledging those taking the time to listen. He sits with his arm resting on the chair rest, his hand thoughtfully placed on his chin. He then leans forwards, clasping his hands in front of him as he starts to speak in his usual confident, yet considered tone.
“The End of Year special has held a lot of relevance for me over the years. This is the event where I won the annual Battle Royal, a match that announced myself to Supreme Championship Wrestling with my first major victory. Last year, it was the event where I made my return to competitive action after taking time out to get my life straight. Defeating Drake Hemingway in a match that would start, what would turn out to be one of the best years of my career. A defining year that ended with me finally finding the redemption I had sought, on my Dad’s birthday none the less. And this year, the end of year special will be no less important, as I attempt to do something that I have never done before. Successfully defend the SCW World Championship.”
Owen raises his eyes, recognizing the enormity of this match. For many, a title defense might just be a part of being champion, but for Owen it held much more significance that that.
“I’ve spoken at great length about my last World Championship reign, and how I failed at the first hurdle. I’ve spoken of the Elimination Chamber, and Under Attack, and how I was in no way ready for the responsibility, and indeed the difficult of walking into that Chamber and walking out Champion. This year, at that very same event, I conquered that Chamber where many thought I couldn’t. I went on to face Xander Valentine and defeated a monster that many thought unbeatable. But all of that, it now must be put firmly in the rearview mirror. There is only one thing that matters, and that is walking out of Toronto with that title strap still in my possession. I cannot be the guy who wins Championships and then doesn’t have the fortitude to have a successful run as Champion. I can’t let it become an albatross around my neck, in the way it did my father. See, a lot of people may not remember, or might not have even been born when my Father claimed his first three World Championships. In 1997, in the now defunct EFW, Dad beat Sickle for their version of the World Championship, only to lose it two weeks later to Desolation. Fast forward to the year 2000, Orlando Cruze versus Lethal Weapon for the ULW World Heavyweight Championship, Orlando wins, only to lose it to Johnny Kingdom on his first title defense. Only on his third attempt, taking it from the legendary Hurse in 2003 did he put a run together that lasted six months. Till that point people were claiming he was fine playing the role of hunter but struggled when it came to being the hunted.
I won’t let that be me.
I’m proud to be associated with the Icon. I’m honored to share that man’s name. But it took me four years to understand that this is MY legacy, not his. And certainly, when it comes to this aspect, I will do everything in my power to NOT follow his example. And throw everything at ensuring I move into 2023 still the SCW World Champion.
In conquering the Chamber, the scene of my demise, I have shown that I have grown into the consummate strategist, able to evolve and adapt not matter the circumstances thrown at me. In understanding my flaws, and doing something about them, I have shown that I am now mature enough to stand side by side with people that have decades more experience than I do and use their beliefs about me against them. In slaying an individual twice my size, and twice my strength, I have shown categorically that I can go toe to toe with literally anyone in this industry and understand what is required to take an individual down, buy focusing on my strengths. By winning the SCW Championship, I have proven that those that stayed with me were correct. That when I said that I WOULD have my redemption, I wasn’t going to stop at anything to achieve it. Now, it’s not about proving that I can become a champion, it’s about showing that I AM a champion. A champion that can have a long and successful reign that will still be spoken about when the End of Year Special 2023 comes around and the End of Year awards are handed out. It’s about being a Champion that the SCW fanbase can once again get behind and look forward to an exciting future. But more than anything, it’s about belonging. It’s about belonging in a company that I disrespected. After everything it had done for me. Yeah, I have my redemption, but there are still those that will believe I don’t belong. By my actions, by my reign, it’s about changing their minds. It’s all about that legacy. It’s all about doing something that can be remembered for all time.”
Owen leans back in his chair, bringing up his foot and resting it on his knee, his hands on his lap. He knew in the coming weeks, with opponents almost lining up to face him, he was going to get the opportunity to prove without question that the strap was over the shoulder of the right person and wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. But he also recognized, again without question, that it was going to be far from easy. Thing is, he now understood that anything worth doing, was never easy. Another sign of his newfound maturity. Another example of him being more than ready for this mantle.
“There are some that have asked me a question. How I felt when Glory Braddock clocked me with her unsanctioned Championship belt during my celebrations. I’m not doubt Glory is asking that same question, or at least that seemed to be the case on Breakdown. Well Glory, I’m not going to say it didn’t hurt. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t annoy me. But neither of those were my overriding emotions. No, what I felt when she did that was vindication. Validation I guess for what I was saying over six months ago about her.
When others believed she was the future.
This is THE Glory Braddock, the chameleon who suits herself to her surroundings, acting in whichever way she must so that she can claim these ‘successes’ that she believes he has earned by right. Glory Braddock has always blamed others when things haven’t been going right. Glory Braddock has always flip flopped from shiny example of what is good, to egotistical arrogant bitch whenever the weather has changed.
She ruined my celebration because of Shaun.
Seriously Glory, at the very least tell the truth. You did it, because of what I currently hold, and without a cheap shot like that you wouldn’t be anywhere near contention. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, you ruined my big moment. You took away the chance for me to share that moment with the fans. OK, that’s done now, so be it. But Glory, let me make ONE thing abundantly clear. I’m not that little kid that marveled at your achievements. I’m not someone who is overawed by you IN THE SLIGHTEST. What I am Glory, is someone with a receipt. For you, and anyone else who dares take the same stance you did. I got my dance card full for the next few weeks, but I make you a promise. I’ll reserve a spot especially for you, title or not. And if I still have it, you can be certain I will put that title on the line. Right now, though Glory, to me, and regardless of that other company you are Champion in, you are everything you fear.”
He pauses, his eyes narrowing ever so slightly, until a grin forms on his face.
“Irrelevant. I truly hope that changes soon and you do something worth talking about. Here, in Supreme Championship Wrestling. THE biggest company in the industry… bar NONE.”
Owen says that last sentence very matter of fact, before reaching off camera, and pulling the SCW World Championship into view. He holds it there for a few seconds, looking at it, before draping it on his lap in full view.
“And the reason for Glory Braddock being irrelevant right now, is the same reasoning as Kim, or anyone else who has their sights set on this title. That being that they, quite simply, are not next in line. They can go a ‘Glory’ and get in my face and post shit, or a ‘Kim’ and put out their feelings on social media in 250 words or less, but it doesn’t matter. The one relevance to me right now is you… Hairless Penguin.”
A wry smile forms on his face. Penguin was one of three nominees that he thought himself likely to be facing at the End of Year Special. So, when he had stepped through the curtain it was very much NOT a surprise. It was also a match that Owen knew would be the perfect ending to 2022. A match that would probably surpass the one they had not much more than a month ago. A match that if won, would solidify his reign as champion.
“Now, I know there are many people you have faced this year that would immediately point to our match a few weeks back and use that as evidence of their inevitable victory.
I am NOT that kind of person.
There are those that would point to Trios and use that as a further example that I have your number. I won’t be doing that either. It would be kind of stupid if I did do that, considering that in both those matches, there was nothing but a hairs breadth between us. I’m also not going to be one of those guys that claim you only got this shot because you are a fan favorite. You only must look back over your year and everything you have accomplished to understand why you are in this position with this opportunity.
Quite simply… you’ve earned it.
You’ve earned the chance to be able to walk out of Toronto with literally the biggest prize in our industry. You’ve worked your ass off, even in the face of some real mockery, for the chance to be able to call yourself the SCW World Champion. That’s why this Christmas time, I’ve found myself training like a demon, I’ve stayed away from the excesses, as much as possible anyways, and I’ve done everything I can to ensure I am in peak condition. Why? For all those reasons I’ve already mentioned. People see you; the ‘Hairless Penguin’ and they immediately tag you as some long running joke. You use that to your advantage, time and time again. I fell for that once, at Taking Hold of the Flame. Since then, I have always given you your due. This time, with the World Championship on the line, I assure you it will be no different. You’ll be respected for what you are.
The current Number One contender.
The World Champion in waiting.
MY challenger
Anything less, and I wouldn’t be the champion I believe myself to be. YOU are the reason I’m not focusing on Glory Braddock and her pointless assaults. YOU are the reason I pay no attention to those who wax lyrical that they made me tap out in front of the world at Rise to Greatness. Instead, I thank them for that lesson. YOU are the reason I would never feel the need to defend Shaun against all these baseless claims, even if I had to. Tell me bro, have you EVER had anyone as laser focused on you as I currently am? I’ll answer that for you… no you haven’t. NO ONE has given you the time of day as I will again at the End of Year Special. I do that because you ARE a threat to where I want to be. You ARE on the cusp of achieving a dream that many deemed impossible. But more than anything I remain focused because I am the World Champion, and it’s my duty. To represent this company in the best way I can. Something historically, I DID NOT do. My greatest regret.”
Owen lowers his head slightly but remains looking at the camera. He would never forget those moments, to ensure he never made the same mistake again.
“I’m a firm believer in learning from those mistakes bud, and that’s what allows us to grow. I’m not a fool Penguin, I know that without those mistakes, I wouldn’t be stood here today. My evolution is formed entirely from those moments in my life when I had almost given up. When I was going to throw all of this away. The roar of the crowd, the interaction with the fans, there was a time when that all meant nothing to me, just imagine that. But the moment that fire was relit, it wasn’t the same flame, it gathered into something much more. An inferno. Last time we faced, it was a mistake that cost you, just one. Like I said, I’m no fool, I know I’m not the only one who learns from their errors, it would be hypocritical for me to say that you couldn’t too. So, what do I have to do? I must be better. You won’t make the same mistakes, and so therefore I must force you to make others. That’s the thing though Penguin, I’m exactly the kind of guy forces those mistakes. I fight at a level, an intensity that doesn’t allow my opponent time to think. Imagine that bro, me openly admitting that I must be better. Better than the person that beat you previously. Better than the person who won the Chamber. Better than the person who toppled the giant Xander Valentine. Scary thought, isn’t it? The fact I could be faster, smarter. Thing is, that isn’t what’s scary, not really. The true scariness is that I CAN be better. I can be all those things. I know I have more improvement within me. I’m a two-time World Champion at 22 years old, not many can claim that with a straight face. And yet, I have more to give and more levels to reach. Tell me Penguin, with all due respect can you say the same? Or is this your ceiling? Without that same benefit of time on your side?”
He waits for mere seconds, allowing that question to hang in the air, before he continues.
“I’m not saying that so that I can fire off a witty retort. I’m not even going to pretend that I know the answer, because the truth is, I don’t. Only you know what you are truly capable of and if it will be enough. What I do know is it’s going to fun facing someone with that same hunger and desire as myself. It’s going to be a blast matching our skills once again. It’s going to be crazy, once again putting on a show to end the calendar year with a bang, in the same way that I started. It’s a privilege to have this job, this opportunity, this title. I’m proud that I will get to share that final stage of 2022, with YOU.”
Owen gets to his feet, placing the World title on his shoulder, turning his head to look at his name on the plate proudly. He then looks back towards the camera, the intensity in his voice changing just slightly
“And so, Penguin, to close, I’m going to level with you. I didn’t work so damn hard this year for it to be over in a heartbeat. I didn’t go through hell, and it WAS hell, to return to the scene of my biggest crime, putting things right, only to fall at the very first hurdle. I’ve nothing but respect for you and what you do, but if you think I fought hard to win this title, believe me when I say I will give everything I have to keep it. Not because I don’t think you deserve it.
You do.
But because ‘Born to do’, ‘Evolution’ and ‘Redemption’, it was all about bringing me to this point. A point when I genuinely believe that I am amongst the very best wrestlers in the world and can only get better. Can you be in that category too? Sure, you can, and this is your chance to prove it. But will you prove it? Perhaps. But if you do, I’m afraid you will have to prove it in defeat. You’ll have your moment one day bro, I’m certain of it.”
He salutes the camera
“But now isn’t your time my friend”
A smirk forms on his face.
“It’s mine.”
He winks, and walks out of shot, as the scene slowly fades.
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