Combat TV Roundtable

(We fade into a darkened stadium – and more specifically, an empty ring, with a dark maroon velvet apron draped across the ring beneath the three figures sitting in “director” style chairs. The stadium appears to be empty, and a monitor is stationed inside the ring suspended from the ceiling, with an interesting logo in the upper right hand corner for “EWA Live From Sydney”. Seated in the center directly beneath the monitor is the lovely Allison Haines, dressed in a black pantsuit with a clipboard in hand and a smile on her face.

Immediately to Allison’s left is the former eleven time World Heavyweight Champion, Grady Smith. Smith is clearly annoyed, dressed in a dark brown suit with an impatient expression on his face. The man doesn’t have to say a word for the viewer to see that he’s completely exhausted, as the bags underneath his eyes are evidence enough.

Seated to Allison’s right is the new EWA World Heavyweight Champion himself, the owner and Chief Executive Officer of the EWA, Alexander Haven. Haven has the bright shiny gold belt draped across his shoulder, wearing a black designer suit and a smirk on his face. Haven appears to be well rested, having likely flown straight to Australia from London, rather than from London to the US, and then on to Sydney, as Grady Smith did.

Allison nods toward the camera, and begins to speak.)

Allison Haines: Ladies and gentlemen, Combat TV viewers, thank you for joining us for this very special EWA Roundtable broadcast here tonight. We are coming to you live from the Land Down Under, inside the Qudos Bank Arena in beautiful Sydney, Australia, as part of an EWA publicity tour that will feature a major EWA event to be held here later in 2017. But right now, let’s get down to business tonight, as we’re pleased to bring you this roundtable discussion with the two men I have here with me. I’m honored to introduce to you the eleven time Heavyweight Champion of the world on my left, Grady Smith.

Grady Smith: Thank you, Ms. Haines. It’s great to be here in Australia.

Allison Haines: And how are you doing this evening? I know you had quite the travel schedule to get here, only to have to wait…

Grady Smith: Yes, I wasn’t provided with the… most ideal, travel schedule, let’s say.

Allison Haines: That’s true, you ha..

(Alex starts to clear his throat, rather loudly, doing his best to interrupt Allison, which he has done successfully. She shakes her head for a second, before turning…)

Allison Haines: And to my right, the owner of the EWA and its brand new EWA World Heavyweight Champion, Alexander Haven.

Alexander Haven: As great as it is being in Australia, it’s pretty damn good being just about anywhere these days when you’re sitting on top of the world like I am, Allison. We’re excited to bring a future live event here, where I will undoubtedly be defending this Championship belt and cementing my legacy as the greatest EWA Champion of all time.

(Grady lets out an audible sigh at Haven’s comment, which prompts a small laugh from Allison Haines. Haven immediately shoots her a look, and she composes herself instantly.)

Allison Haines: Thank you, gentlemen. I’m going to ask you a series of questions here tonight. These questions have been provided to me in advance —

Grady Smith: By whom, Allison?

Allison Haines: Excuse me?

Grady Smith: Who provided you with the questions you’ll be asking us this evening?

Allison Haines: I…the questions were provided by EWA management —

Grady Smith: Just as I suspected. Carry on.

Allison Haines: I should add that I was provided the opportunity to, at my discretion as a journalist, make additions or changes to the questions I will be asking you both tonight. Now then…

Alex, as you’re the…rightful champion, how does it feel to finally have that belt where it belongs?

Alexander Haven: Honestly, the word that comes to mind is “natural.” Throughout my career I have consistently proven to be the best at what I do, whether that’s wrestling inside a ring, or running a multimillion dollar empire. I have taken the EWA to new heights, but even as I valiantly fought to tear down the machine and rebuild it in my own image, I found myself still subject to the same old problems I was plagued with before – being held down by those around me. Only this time, it wasn’t the corrupt EWA machine. It was my own friends and so-called “family.”

Allison Haines: Grady, conversely, how does it feel to know your career is coming to an end?

Alexander Haven: That wasn’t the question, Allison.

Allison Haines: (glances at her papers and sighs) I apologize, Alex. Grady, how does it feel to know your career is coming to a merciful end?

Grady Smith: A merciful end? Is that what we’re calling it now? I think one thing Mr. Haven fails to realize is that we each, as individuals, get to decide when things will end, something I would have assumed that Mr. Haven would have been well aware of, having originally ended his career on his own terms… and even, for a period, ending his marriage on his own terms by crawling to some hole in the wall in London. Please, correct me if I’m wrong, Alex.

Alexander Haven: You know what happens when you assume, Grady. You make an ass out of you and… well, just you, really.

Allison Haines: Ok, so moving on… Is this really a question?

Alexander Haven: If it’s written on your papers, it’s a legitimate question, and we would appreciate if you asked each and every question written down for you.

Allison Haines: I… I can’t believe I’m asking this.

Alexander Haven: Hey, if you’d like to join Terry on suspension…

Allison Haines:: (sighs) Mr. Smith, EWA production staff has asked if you anticipate any more elaborate entrances during your tenure with the EWA, as the cost of obtaining rights to use songs and the cost of the video production of your entrances has skyrocketed three hundred percent since your return.

Grady Smith: My entrances?

(Grady rolls his eyes before looking at Alex)

Alexander Haven: It’s a deep concern to the budget department. Your elaborate entrances for events cost us money. Money that we then have to find through other avenues, such as potential sponsorship trips, like the one we’re on today.

Grady Smith: I could come to the ring with some kid off the street playing drums on a 5-gallon bucket and it would still generate more fanfare than anything Mr. Haven does.

Alexander Haven: So then why don’t you? Why don’t you find this kid with a bucket and have him for your entrance?

Grady Smith: My entrances tell a story. About my mood, about my thought process going into the match. They are designed to enhance the overall EWA product. Something that I’m sure helps you obtain all of those sponsors that provide the EWA with the income needed to reimburse travel to such places as where we are today.

Alexander Haven: Nobody’s paying attention to your entrances, Grady. They’re using that time to get up, go to the bathroom, get a beer. Those are things that make us money.

Grady Smith: So, then wouldn’t you want me to continue my “elaborate” entrances, if the fans are making you money during that time?

(Haven rolls his neck back, looking up towards the ceiling, taking a couple of deep breaths. Grady has clearly been able to counter punch everything Alex has had Allison throw at him during the interview so far. Something he expected the old veteran to do, but maybe not with the ease that he’s been able to do it so far.)

Alexander Haven: Allison, next question please.

Allison Haines: This next question is for you, Alex. Are you proud of the way you won the EWA Championship?

Alexander Haven: Excuse me? The question was “Are you proud to be the EWA Champion?”

Allison Haines: I’m sorry, Alex.

Alexander Haven: It’s not Alex anymore, Allison. Alex is reserved for my friends, not so-called journalists – who I employ, by the way – that so clearly display their biased opinions of me in their questioning.

Allison Haines: I feel the situation needs to be addressed, Mr. Haven, and the context of the question is the same.

Alexander Haven: You introduced Grady as the eleven time World Champion earlier, yet you never asked Grady Smith how many people he screwed over to accumulate that number. How many times he won the title under “unfair” circumstances. He left a trail of bodies in his wake. Just because he wants to play the grizzled old veteran with a heart of gold now, doesn’t nullify the sins of his past. At least I take ownership of my choices, both past and present. Hell, Grady Smith wrote the book on doing whatever had to be done in his own best interest, no matter the consequences. It just so turns out that my best interest, in this case, is also the EWA’s best interest. So yes, I’m proud to be the EWA World Champion, Allison. I’m ready to take this company…my company…to historic heights.

Grady Smith: … and I assume that those historic heights are only achievable when you as the champion, is that correct? Despite the fact that Ray Willmott and I sold out the O2 arena in London in less than an hour, the fastest sold-out event in the history of the arena?

Alexander Haven: See, there’s that selfish nature of Grady Smith again, only thinking about himself.

Grady Smith: Allison, the difference between Alexander and myself is that Alexander will sit there and tout to you and the rest of the world his neanderthal geocentric point of view, believing that everything that happens circles around one central point: himself. It’s a model that’s often found in two very distinct sets of people: the youth who don’t know any better, which Alexander has finally come to realize that he doesn’t fit into that group so well anymore…

Alexander Haven: … still younger than you.

Grady Smith: The second group of people are those with illusions of grandeur, which clearly Alexander falls into. I’ve been the first to admit that, in my youth, I also fell into this second group. However, while someone was hiding out in a run down bar in London for ten years because the big bad world was just too scary for them to face anymore, others of us realized their purpose in this world was bigger than just themselves. Some of us decided to start giving back to the world, rather than trying to drown in out behind bottle upon bottle of a particular Canadian malt beverage. That World Heavyweight Championship didn’t define me. I didn’t need it to feel better about myself. I chose to pursue it to show everyone that every so often, if you put your mind into something, you can achieve it. I earned it.

Allison Haines: Mr. Haven…recently, my colleague and the voice of the EWA, Mike Malone, conducted an interview with your former best friend, Chris Kage, who expressed his desire to have a match with Mr. Haven for the EWA World Heavyweight Championship. Mr. Haven, as the reigning champion, what are your reactions to the comments of Chris Kage?

Alexander Haven: Chris Kage calls himself “The Incomparable” – a name that I came up with, by the way – and as its creator and owner of said intellectual property, I hereby reclaim its rights. Henceforth, Chris Kage shall be known as “The Irrelevant” – a far more fitting name for his current status in the EWA. Without me, Chris Kage is a shell of the man he once was. A man that I propped up to heights he never deserved to fly at, and as such, I will make sure his place in the EWA is reflective of his worth. Chris Kage is a bottom feeder attempting to find relevance once more with my name, and I’ve already wasted far more breath on this ridiculous question – which I did not approve – than he warrants. No further comment.

Allison Haines: Grady, your wife Janelle was in attendance at Live From London. How does it weigh on both you and your lovely wife, knowing that your son, Martin Robertson, helped Mr. Haven defeat you for the EWA Championship?

(Haven quickly jumps in, interrupting Grady before he can respond.)

Alexander Haven: We gave her great seats, too. Really treated her first class. I could have sold those tickets at a tremendous profit, but I didn’t, because I’m a gentlemen who puts family first. Janelle should know better, at this point. She’s a lovely woman, really, but she’s no stranger to this industry. She knew what she signed up for, and unfortunately, her son and I delivered. Deep down, I suspect she knows what Marty realized long ago. That I am a far superior man to her husband and any ill will she harbors towards me is a result of her own insecurities about her husband’s manhood.

Grady Smith: Mr. Haven would be wise to never speak a word about my wife through that quivering lip of his ever again, especially if he values all that he holds sacred to him.

Allison Haines: Mr. Haven, there are those out there who believe that due to the…manner in which Grady Smith lost the EWA World Heavyweight Championship, that Grady Smith should receive a rematch for said championship. How would you respond to that?

Alexander Haven: I would respond to that by reminding Grady Smith that, over the course of the past year, he has a losing record to me. And if he were to wish to extend that losing streak against me, all he would need to do is indicate when his EWA-issued walker will be ready to cart him down to the ring to accept another loss.

Allison Haines: Mr. Smith, your response?

Grady Smith: Alexander has all the tools to talk a very, very big game. He also has a very short term memory because he conveniently forgets that any victory he’s had over me during our time here in the EWA has always included one Martin Robertson somehow involved in the match.

Alexander Haven: Hey, someone has had to teach the kid how to be successful in this business. All you’ve done is hold him back.

Grady Smith: Hold him back? You mean by taking a title shot for yourself instead of giving him the opportunity to prove himself?

Alexander Haven: He could beat you anytime he wants. Just like I beat you anytime I want.

Grady Smith: You only get victories over me when you’ve got time to plan your interference.

Alexander Haven: I beat you at Path of the Warrior. I beat you last week. I beat you today. I can beat you anytime, such as… as…

Allison Haines: Friday night at Battlelines?

Alexander Haven: I can beat you Friday night at Battlelines… wait, what?

Grady Smith: I heard this Friday night at Battlelines. Grady Smith versus Alexander Haven, main event of Battlelines, for the EWA World Heavyweight Championship.

Allison Haines: What do you say, Ale… Mr. Haven?

(Alex darts his look back and forth between Allison and Grady. Clearly, he’s searching for an answer to the question, and is trying to stall as long as he can to formulate a response…)

Allison Haines: Mr. Haven?

Alexander Haven: Shut up, Allison. I heard you the first time.

Grady Smith: If you don’t want to accept the challenge like the man you claim to be, I could always just give Ms. Vandervor… oh, wait, pardon me…. Mrs. Kage… a call…

(You can almost start to see steam pour out of the ears of Alex at the mention of that name, especially with the specific infliction Grady purposefully put on the married name of the former EWA Executive Assistant)

Alexander Haven: You stupid idiot… she doesn’t work for the EWA anymore.

Grady Smith: You’re right, she doesn’t. But I’m sure she still has a few contacts still back at EWA Headquarters that wouldn’t mind highlighting the championship rematch clause in all officially sanctioned title matches bound under the rules and regulations of the EWA…

Alexander Haven: Goad me all you want, Grady, you’re not getting your rematch.

Grady Smith: You… “win”… the title in London. Is that how you really want to honor the memory of your old friend Vince? The man who convinced you that you had a higher purpose? The man that propped you up for ten years without ever asking for anything more than for just you to not forget who you are? Because if that’s the case, he apparently never figured out the cowardice that existed inside Alexander Ha…

Alexander Haven: SHUT UP! You shut your old, fat face right now! You don’t get the right to speak his name, Grady! You want me to put the old gunslinger out of his misery once and for all? You want to end your career at Battlelines? Fine! Alexander Haven. Grady Smith. EWA World Heavyweight Championship. Main event of Battlelines. Enact your rematch clause, you selfish son of a bitch, because WHEN I beat you in five days time… and believe me, I WILL beat you… there is no future for Grady Smith. There will not be another title match… there won’t even be another match for Grady. I will leave you in a pile of blood and broken bones, just like I left that pathetic piece of gutter trash Chris Kage in a pile at Champions Summit. It’s your funeral, Grady, and if you want me to be your officiant, so be it. But rest assured, by the end of Friday night, people will not be singing the praises of Grady Smith.

Grady Smith: That’s good… that’s good, Alex. Did you script that? Have you been practicing that since you got to Sydney, or did you find that somewhere? Instead, you should work on finding yourself another hole in the wall located in another far away city to hide in. Because the way I see it, everything is falling apart, Alex. You’re a desperate man who made a desperate attempt to legitimize his legacy by taking something that even he knows doesn’t belong to him. Your world is crumbling, and rather than recognize the fact that everything is falling apart, you’re attempting to hold it together by nailing random boards together to build any sort of rickety framework to keep it propped up.

I want you to listen, Alexander… and I want you to listen closely. Your fantasy world is slowly coming to an end. And you have only yourself to blame for that. You’re the one to started to destroy your own world when you turned on Chris Kage a few months ago. You took out the only support beam you’ve ever known. You tried to replace it with Michael Draven, but how’s that working out for you? Where’s he been since Live from London? Doing the Three Kings work?

Your act in London showed just how desperate you are to try and, for one final time, legitimize what Alexander Haven really is. The old Alex would have gotten the job done the first time when he tried to steal my belt… not have to come up with some random contingency plan on the fly. Desperate men do desperate things, and everything you’ve done over the past few weeks reeks of desperation. Come Friday night, I’m going to show the world just how far you’ve fallen. I’m going to show the world that the Alexander Haven that sits before me right now is only a shell of the former person he used to be. You have cracked. Friday night, your kingdom shall fall.

(In an instant, both Alex and Grady stand up, pushing their chairs behind them as they get nose to nose. Alex takes the EWA World Heavyweight Title off his shoulder, holding it high in the air overhead. Grady, though, never breaks eye contact with Alex to look at the belt. Instead, he simply smirks at Haven as the camera zooms in on their faces before fading to black.)

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