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X-treme Wrestling Federation » XWF Live! » Character Development RPs
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Warfare - A Love Story
Author Message
Thaddeus Duke Offline
Management Lv. 2


XWF FanBase:
Some of everyone

(cheered; very rarely plays dirty but isn't lame either; many likable qualities)

06-22-2024, 07:26 AM

Wrestling is a love story.  A balance between athletics and drama, love and hate, art and cinema.

Sitting at Gorilla with my arm still in a sling, my chin rested in the palm of my good hand and my arm propped upon a table as I looked at the monitor with a seemingly blank stare.  On my monitor, the announcers were reacting to the Bastards attack on Seb Bryce with the camera trained on the Universal champion.

“Cue Strings Only,” I barked to the music supervisor as Mark Flynn hurried through Gorilla with his 24/7 briefcase.  ”Get the lighting ready!”

I wasn't sure, but it seemed to me Flynn was about to cash in.

There it was.  Seb Bryce laid on the mat.  Strings Only strikes up, the Flynn lighting igniting the Ball Arena… and the fans absolutely lost their minds.

Fact is, I wasn’t staring blankly.  In my head, I was already starting to think ahead to July 1st in Washington, D.C.  Hell, preparation for this show in Denver began even before The Revelry.  I needed to absorb as much information as I possibly could about what our capabilities were on the production side of the show.  I know people think that I coast on my name alone.  That what I've done has granted me opportunities that I wouldn't otherwise be granted and I mail it in.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I love this company.  Yes, my name affords me certain opportunities, but it wasn't my father that put the Duke name in such high regard.  That was me.  Through me, through my wrestling career, my last name carries weight no matter where it appears.  It just took me a long time to figure out that my name need only appear beneath the black ‘n’ blue XWF banner.  Because this… is where I belong.

”Camera three!  Camera three!” barked an associate producer.  ”Parker sighting through the crowd!”

”No, no no!” I ordered.  ”Stay on camera one!”

”But we'll miss Parker!” he protested.

”We don't need to see him show up, only what he does!”

And it happened.  In full view of camera one, trained on Mark Flynn handing over his case… that fucking elbow that came out of nowhere.

Denver. Blew. Up.

It was hard not to smile.  If I was just a fan watching at home… I'd have jumped out of my seat.  Watching it unfold behind the scenes brought a rare smile to my work-mode face.

They call me General Manager, but I hate that title.  It gives off the air of autonomy.  Warfare is not an autonomous entity nor am I.  It’s a conglomeration of many minds working together for one goal: to put forth the best possible product that those that dedicate their lives to this company can be proud of.  I call myself Executive Director.


Because that’s well and truly what I am.  Yes I do the booking, but that’s just one small piece of the puzzle.

”Cue Parker's theme,” I barked before hitting a switch in front of me that connected me to Jacuinde.  ”Phenomenal job boys, send it home.”

I don't produce our commentary team.  I want them to react in real time to what they're seeing unfold.  It's more natural, organic, authentic… real.  Because we are real.

”And we're out!” The producer states.  At which point, the entirety of Gorilla Position erupted with celebratory applause.

Throwing off my headset, I leaned back in the chair and closed my eyes.  If you've never been point man on a show the size of Warfare, you have no idea how mentally exhausting it is.  Contrary to common belief, we don't know what happens next. 

We have to be on our toes from the moment the opening theme hits, to the moment the screen goes black.  Some things we know in advance, like in-ring promos and the like so we can plan for those.  We have no idea if anyone will interrupt.  We had no clue the epic Xtreme title match would bleed into the epic match between Bourbon and Cent.

Compelling content compels content.

That was good, Theo Pryce said with a slap on my good shoulder.

”I know,” I said with a smile.  ”I feel like I need a cigarette.”

You were right, Pryce conceded.

”Probably.  But about what?”

I stood now, the show was wrapped. Gaffers and gophers were already starting the teardown.

Theo and I headed back through Gorilla.

Warfare needed a director, he stated, echoing something I said when we met about Warfare almost a month ago.

”Yeah well, a lot of people made this happen,” I said as we walked.  ”I'm just the guy moving the sticks.”

Theo and I came to a fork in the hallway where we'd go our separate ways.

I'll be interested to see the numbers from tonight, he said as he turned his back to me and started walking away.

”Yeah me too,” I agreed.

As I started to walk toward my in-house office to retrieve my things, I remembered our meetings about Madness.  That show turned a corner quickly.  Ratings, gate, attendance figures trended upward week after week.  I was proud of the work I did with that show but it wasn't right for me.

Too much “I” and never enough “we.”

Madness was put on ice not because of the numbers or the financial viability of the product.  Madness was extremely successful. It was iced, because I did not find that show personally satisfying and when the product is 90% me and 10% them, yeah I take a selfish look at it.

Warfare has the right balance.  15% me and 85% them.  That's the way it should be.  I should be able to sit here and direct cameras and lighting operators.  I shouldn't need to find a wrestler an angle in which they can be compelling.  When I started in this business, I didn’t get over because of my name.  Regardless of what people said and claimed, it was actually harder than if I'd dropped the Duke name and used an alias.

People of all walks of life from wrestlers to fans resent nepotism.  I had to bust my ass and earn every bit of the respect that's now afforded to me.  In a business where everyone is hyper critical of everyone, an extra bright spotlight shined upon me.  They waited for me to fail.  Truth be told, I almost did.  I had a tendency to embrace things people said rather than correct the narrative.

My life wasn't my own.

When I took control of my life, I took control of the narrative about my career.  And I've never looked back.

”You ready to go?” I asked my wife as I poked my head inside my office.

She responded only with a look, and never a word.

We were wheels up from Denver in less than 15 minutes.  On the plane, Lauren spoke but three words.  “Don’t follow me,” as she retreated to the bedroom cabin.  I stayed by myself in my office aboard.

Lauren and I had never had a great marriage.  It was good at times, toxic at times.  I was a womanizing piece of shit for our first year.  She didn't seem to ever give a damn, but it was Frankie, not her, that called me out after we lost Gracie.  All the bullshit I'd been doing came to an abrupt end as I entered treatment for my addiction.  I haven’t looked back since, and I don’t plan on going back, ever.

Things were good again, great even, until her brother Maurice showed up out of nowhere.  He threw our whole lives into disarray.  He had himself convinced that Lauren was running a con, a scam, like they used to do when she was just a kid.  He refused to believe, like many others, that what Lauren and I had was real and authentic.  She just had to be scamming the rich boy because rich boy.

I was patient.  During his time at Paradise Ridge, I bit my tongue and never said even a fraction of what I wanted to.  If Maurice left, it needed to be Lauren’s decision, otherwise she’d have resented me for it.  Earlier this year, that’s exactly what happened.  Lauren had told him to go away.  She loved me, she loved our kids and the life we were building together.

Maurice left.

He came back a few days later as Lauren and I were headed to the airport en route to TRIAD.  Berta called in a panic.  Maurice had broken in and had my kids at knifepoint.  Not even twenty minutes later, Maurice laid dead in a pool of his own blood on Frankie’s bedroom floor.  Her doing, not mine.

In the immediate aftermath, we were still a well oiled unit, but as time went on, her agitation grew.  I’ve been where she is.  I know the emotional turmoil she’s in because once upon a time I also had to end the life of someone I loved.  I’m the right person to open up to in order to talk.  Yet she has chosen not to.

”She blames me,” I said to myself at 35,000 feet above the United States.  I didn’t put a bullet in his skull because I thought she’d hate me if I did.  Instead, she hates me because I didn’t.  So much so that she’s willing to use someone as insignificant in my life as Dolly Waters as a reason to openly hate me.

When we were kids, Dolly and I were inseparable.  We were really close.  You could probably say that she was my first love.  While her and I never got together, the fact remains that there were, at least at one time, very real, mutual feelings between us.  Despite Dolly and I having never done anything except kiss a couple times, Lauren has conveniently used our history as an excuse to hate me in the open.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.  Yes I loved Dolly, but we were kids.  It was only now, as I sat alone listening to the winding of the Boeing jet engines, that I even realized what happened tonight in my office.  Lauren called it out in real time, but I didn’t see it the way she did.  Dolly Waters was coming on to me heavily, in front of my wife.  I didn’t realize it for two reasons.  1) because that ship sailed a long time ago and I no longer feel for Dolly the way I used to.  And 2) because Dolly Waters doesn’t chase married men.

Regardless of how she once felt about me, even if she still loved me like she used to, there’s no way she’d come after me now.  I’m married with a family.  That’s not Dolly’s M.O.  The irony isn’t lost on me.  I was a huge whore and she never gave a damn.  But the one I never slept with is the one that causes Lauren to break.

Still though… with my wife barely uttering three words to me in any day over the last few months, I find myself wondering what if…

Dolly and I never worked out.  We were young, we were kids and we most certainly loved each other.  In some ways, maybe we still do.  Fact is, while I regularly dropped anything and everything to help her, to chase after her when she’d go off the deep end, those same things were almost never reciprocated.  I’m extremely selfless when it comes to people I love but Dolly was never like that.  Not with me, never with me, but once.  She took my hand and insisted on helping me find the truth about my mother’s death.  Through that, her and I grew very close again.  So close, that we very nearly threw caution to the wind and explored that ‘what if.’

When Dolly and I returned to the States, we did so holding each other's hands.  It felt good.  It felt right and natural.  I dropped her off with Corey Smith picking her up.  Corey saw it and questions began immediately.  Dolly and I never answered his inquiries.  Instead, we locked lips one more time and I was off to see the birth of Livvy and T.J.  Things got real for me, quickly.  Whatever was going on then between Dolly and I, disappeared quickly.

That was three years ago.

I always felt like ‘Thad & Dolly’ was something people rooted for even if they’d never say it out loud and admit it publicly.  How could they not?  Two kids that practically grew up in the business together?  Two kids that knew each other like the palms of their own hands?  Two kids that very obviously had real love for one another almost from the moment they first met?  What’s not to like about that?

Wrestling, after all… is a love story.

[Image: wgqr9W2.png]

1x  XWF Universal Champion || 3x  XWF Xtreme Champion || 1x  XWF Supercontinental Champion (First)
1x  XWF Hart Champion (Last) || 2x  XWF Television Champion || 1x  XWF Tag Team Champion
1x  OCW Savage Champion || 1x IIW Tag Team Champion  || 2x  SOTM (9/20, 7/21)
2021 Male Wrestler of the Year (shared w/ Alias) || XWF Hall of Legends
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