An Interview By
[At the bar in the middle of the Tap Room, Hayden Hardkore sits next to an unlikely figure. With his shirt buttoned up, and his tie pulled tight, Edward Newton rests his OSW World Championship on the counter.
His nose has a plaster across it, from where Brent Kersh made him bleed last week.]
Hayden Hardkore: “Well Kia Ora mate. Nice of you to come and join me. Korero Mai… Have a chat with me. I’ve been waiting to get you on a bar stool for quite some time.”
[Edward glares at him, his lip curling in disgust.]
Hayden Hardkore: “Suppose I had better get on with it then, aye? I have to jump straight in and talk about your incredible undefeated streak. How long goes it?”
Edward Newton: “Twenty-six and zero.”
Hayden Hardkore: “Christ, that’s one hell of a number. Doesn’t that put pressure on you every time you step into the ring? Don’t you feel like there’s a target painted on your back with the amount of people who want to beat you and end that streak. I mean, it’s unheard of, right?”
Edward Newton: “It is unheard of, you’re correct. However, I don’t feel pressured at all. For every opponent on this roster, I have a grand plan. I have researched them all. When it comes time to do battle in the middle of that ring, I’m prepared. There are many who’d let such a number boost their confidence, or create an ego, but not I. I cannot afford weakness such as arrogance or hubris. That World Championship demands my full attention and whether or not I win, or lose, I must find a way to keep it within my possession.”
[Hayden nods in agreement.]
Hayden Hardkore: “People have questioned your methods, though, haven’t they? You’re ruthless out there, mate. You don’t always win by, shall we say, fair methods. Many have questioned your alliance with Injustice as a means to keep you undefeated.”
[Edward looks over his glasses at Hayden, smiling somewhat.]
Edward Newton: “There’s no prizes for second place. There’s no victory in morality, or integrity. Look at Mike Lane or Brent Kersh, for example. These two men have been downtrodden and abused for the entirety of their careers. They’ve always done things the ‘right’ way. Where has it gotten them?
Mike Lane has lost the once love of his wife. His father in law is a corpse, his mind has slowly faded into darkness and that morality and integrity he once held so dear is ebbing away with every passing week.
And Brent Kersh? My opponent for Ring King has lost more than anyone could ever imagine. His son is dead, his wife has been hurt, tortured and their baby harmed within the womb. His daughter’s fiancée was inexplicably run down and maimed. What has being a nice guy gotten Brent Kersh?
Besides from a match with me, at Ring King, and let me assure you Mr. Hardkore – that’s a ridiculous name, by the way, that a match with Edward Newton is no victory.”
[Hardkore pauses, soaking the information in. His face contorts, knowing his rebuttal is likely to piss the Champion off.]
Hayden Hardkore: “Aren’t you afraid of Kersh? He’s a veteran of the business. He’s been around more matches than we’ve had hot dinners. If there’s anyone on the roster who could stop your undefeated streak and put an end to your budding title reign, is not him?”
[Newton laughs heartily.]
Edward Newton: “Has the Tap Room turned into a comedy club? Brent Kersh had ought to be afraid of me, Mr. Hardkore. How many attempts did it take your precious Brent Kersh to defeat The Scarecrow?”
[Hayden goes to answer, but Newton cuts him off.]
Edward Newton: “Actually, disregard that. How many years did it take for the Kersh family alone to stop the terror that was The Scarecrow?”
Hayden Hardkore: “Decades.”
Edward Newton: “Decades. Precisely. It took The Kersh family decades to defeat The Hayman, yet I’ve beaten him twice in consecutive months. I walked into a house of horrors against the greatest horror in the world and survived. Brent Kersh damn near died, didn’t he? The last time he fought The Scarecrow, it took a rouse out of my playbook to stop his son from dying and even then, he failed.”
Edward Newton: “I don’t fail. Unlike your wrestling career, Hayden, I don’t fail. Brent Kersh is going to retire by the time Ring King has concluded, you mark my words. He’s going to take his ball and go home. Once I’ve beaten him like the sorry sack of worthless meat that he is, he’s going to know deeper within his soul than ever before that he simply doesn’t have what it takes to do this any longer.
I don’t have to riddle you that. You can see it within the whites of his eyes. There’s a fear there. A fear that he cannot defeat me, just like everyone else.”
[Hardkore shrugs his shoulders.]
Hayden Hardkore: “You said you weren’t arrogant, mate. That sounded a little arrogant to me.”
[Edward stands up, collecting his Championship from the counter. He slaps it over his shoulder and shakes his head.]
Edward Newton: “When you’ve looked into another man’s eyes and seen doubt, seen fear, seen terror, then you have the right to an opinion. I’ve looked into Brent Kersh’ eyes and I’ve seen all of those things. I looked at a man who knew he was at the end of his rope, yet he held on for dear life, refusing to let go. Sometimes, it’s easier to let go of the rope. Sometimes, it’s less painful than holding on. At Ring King, whatever part of Brent is holding on to this fantasy that one day he’ll become OSW World Champion will be gone, and when it is, he’ll have nothing to stick around for.”
[The World Champion struts off towards the exit, leaving Hayden to take a sip of his beer and contemplate what he’s just been told.]