The scene picks up as Amanda Johnson and a camera crew are loitering outside of the medical bay. I mean, that’s as good of a place as any to hang around if you want to increase your chances of running into someone to talk to, right? Especially after a show such as Autumn Annihilation where the superstars tend to take more risks and put themselves in harm's way more frequently on the grander stage. However, Amanda and the crew’s presence here isn’t merely a coincidence. Judging by her antsy and anxious demeanor, it’s clear that she’s looking for a certain someone.
Amanda Johnson: And you said that you saw her go in there?
She asks one of the nearby crew members.
Random crew guy: Yeah, yeah, went in quite a bit ago. Haven’t seen her come out yet.
Amanda nods and offers a thank you before turning her attention back towards the door in the distance. A few moments later, the door swings open and the newly crowned International Heavyweight Champion, Cordelia Stevenson, emerges from the medical bay with an ice pack in hand and her newly acquired championship slung over her shoulder. Her eyes instinctively turn towards the crew as she begins walking gingerly towards them, a bright smile on her face.
Cordelia Stevenson: Something told me that I’d be running into you guys sooner than later.
Cordy lets out a low laugh as she motions Amanda and the crew over towards her. She seems to be in especially good spirits despite her battered appearance and rightfully so considering the show she put on earlier in the night.
Amanda Johnson: Is everything alright?
Cordelia pauses and looks down at herself, before looking back up at Amanda and shrugging.
Cordelia Stevenson: What makes you ask that? I look like I’ve been in a war or something?
Amanda goes to respond, but quickly catches herself when she realizes the question was rhetorical. Cordy points a finger at her and gives her the ‘gotcha’ wink.
Cordelia Stevenson: Everything is good, chica. I’m as good as can be. No concussions or anything like that. They said that's what they really wanted to check me for because I took some pretty bad spills and hits out there, but I’m good money. Hurting, of course. But not too bad right now, because I’m still on an adrenaline high to be honest, but boy, once I come down off of that…
She lets out a low his and shakes her head.
Cordelia Stevenson: I probably won’t be able to walk for like a week, maaaaan. I’m just trying to stay ahead of it.
She says, holding up the ice packs.
Cordelia Stevenson: I’ma keep it a buck, I got my ass kicked out there. Johnny and Savannah? They really put my ass through the ringer, but real talk, I’m as tough as they come, chica. You know that. Johnny Karma knows that, and if Savannah didn’t know? Well, I guess it’s safe to say that she knows now.
Cordelia makes sure to adjust the title on her shoulder as she smiles at Amanda.
Amanda Johnson: Well Cordelia, I must say congratulations on your amazing victory out there tonight. To say that you were resilient would simply be an understatement. How does winning this, the International Heavyweight Championship compare to winning the FGA World Championship back at the Fifth Anniversary show nearly three years ago?
The questions brightens Cordy’s smile.
Cordelia Stevenson: This one was so much different, y’know? I think I’ll actually— I dunno…
Cordelia Stevenson: —Enjoy, this one, you get what I’m saying? The last time around it just seemed as if there was this huge weight on my back; the burden of expectation was heavy and stifling, and even after I became the champion, you could tell in my demeanor, I still carried a colossal chip on my shoulder and it was as if finally getting there wasn’t enough. I was on edge and honestly, I didn’t know how to enjoy my accomplishment. I didn’t appreciate it for what it was. There was just so much surrounding it; Zero walking out, Zero coming back. Having to unify the titles to name an undisputed champion when there should have never been a dispute in the first place; not to mention life outside of the ring… through it all, I realized I never allowed myself to have a moment, y’know? I never allowed myself a second to be proud of what I’d done. But this time?
She glances down at the International Heavyweight Championship on her shoulder and nods.
Cordelia Stevenson: Oh I’m definitely going to have fun with this one, chica. And maybe it’s because I wasn’t chasing it this time around, you know? Maybe it’s because I wasn’t driven by an unhealthy obsession to just prove that I was better than everyone else. I went out there tonight, of course with the intention to give everything I had to pull out a victory, but more importantly, I just went out there tonight to do something that I loved, and there’s no stress in that. I simply wanted the chips to fall where they may, and now that all is said and done, well, you see how they fell.
Cordy motions with her hand and Amanda nods.
Amanda Johnson: Well the chips certainly fell into your favor tonight Cordy, but unfortunately that also means that they did not fall into the favor of your long time associate, Johnny Karma.
The change in Cordelia’s mood is very visible at the mentioning of Karma’s name. Her eyes lower to the ground and she lets out a soft sigh.
Cordelia Stevenson: Johnny…
Her voice trails off and she grows quiet. Amanda notices the shift in demeanor and can relate because it seems to be a common sentiment amongst those in the building.
Amanda Johnson: By now you’re very familiar with Karma’s quest to become a champion again by the end of the year. With him losing here tonight, it doesn’t look as if that will happen. What are your thoughts on that?
Cordy looks up now, her gaze meeting Amanda’s.
Cordelia Stevenson: Johnny Karma is an incredible competitor. He and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, but he’s definitely a cornerstone of this company and a future hall of famer without a doubt. Johnny Karma could have very well been the one standing here before you holding the International Heavyweight Championship. Hell, he was --
She holds her fingers up, touching her index finger to her thumb.
Cordelia Stevenson: -- this close to getting me up out of there after he hit me with Dazed and Confused. Johnny gave it his absolute all, and he has nothing to be ashamed of with what happened here tonight. If it couldn’t have been me, then I was damn sure hoping it could have been him, you know? Anyone but Savannah!
Cordy laughs and then lets out a deep breath.
Cordelia Stevenson: But real talk,I don’t think this is the end for him at all. Johnny has been at it nonstop for years now, but tonight if anything, showed that he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank. Unfortunately, disappointment is something we all become too well acquainted with in this business. I’ve dealt with my fair share of it and Johnny has too. But one thing I’ve grown to admire about him is that he’s a warrior through and through, and he always bounces back. I think the chapter of Karma is far from over, and we’ll be seeing him around.
She turns towards the camera and mouths the words, ‘we better’. Amanda cracks a smile, seemingly content with the material she’s getting from the champ.
Amanda Johnson: Now, you mentioned Savannah-- just how fulfilling was it for you to get your revenge here tonight? Savannah was someone that put you on the sidelines for a significant amount of time years ago, mocked you at every given opportunity and was the very person that many -- although they may not openly say it -- feel drove you to retirement. What does it mean to you knowing that you brought an end to her reign.
Cordelia holds up her hand.
Cordelia Stevenson: Hold up, first off, Savannah did not drive Cordelia Stevenson to retirement. Let’s nip that narrative in the bud right now. But you want to know something? I’ll let you in on a secret that I’m not even sure Savannah herself knows. Once upon a time, she did end the career of a good friend of mine, and force them into retirement, and you know something; weirdly enough the circumstances were damn near identical. Her, wielding a chair, coming in with a cowardly ass group, and blindsiding someone all the while playing the numbers game. It seems to be a specialty of hers to be honest. And while I was able to eventually come back to the thing I love -- that good friend of mine wasn’t so lucky. So this thing with Savannah, it was extremely personal for me to an extent that no one really knew. And it brings me an insurmountable amount of joy knowing that I was the one to end her reign, because this wasn’t just about me. This was also about someone close to me that she hurt in a very similar fashion. Now, removing those personal biases and feelings aside and speaking strictly from a competitive standpoint? Savannah Taylor definitely showed me something out there tonight. She dominated me in a fashion that, I honestly can’t recall anyone doing before. Savannah Taylor kicked my ass, and truth be told, she’s come leaps and bounds from where she used to be years ago. I understand how she made her ascent to the top -- but I also understand why she wasn’t able to stay there tonight.
Cordy’s eyes narrow a bit, but her lips curve into a smirk.
Cordelia Stevenson: I got to hear what Savannah had to say earlier, you know, when you spoke with her? And she brought up December 10th, 2016. Boston, Massachusetts. That was my first match as FGA World Champion if I remember correctly, and I remember looking forward to that match. Savannah was a former World Champion at the time, and she’d made a name for herself in other places, but she hadn’t quite found her footing here in FGA. But I didn’t doubt her, nor did I discredit her. I simply asked her to bring her best that night, because we’d seen glimpses of it, but for whatever reason, she just couldn’t put that best foot forward consistently. Apparently, my words touched a nerve, because here we are three years later and she can spit them out for you verbatim. Sometimes the truth hurts, but sometimes that truth is what you need to open the window to enlightenment. I said plenty of things to Savannah Taylor back then, but you know what’s really crazy? Some of them still ring true to this very day, and I remember telling her one thing in particular.
Cordy she squints her eyes, trying to recall her exact words to Savannah.
Cordelia Stevenson: I said, ‘I don’t want any excuses from you, Savannah. I don’t want any threats nor do I want any promises. I simply want your best. Is that too much to ask? I want the Savannah Taylor that made this climb… the Savannah Taylor that fought with an undying tenacity to reach that mountaintop when no one thought that she could. I want to meet her here at the top, so I can give her her first lesson on staying here.’ Do you remember that?
Cordy asks, but then waves her hand before Amanda can even answer.
Cordelia Stevenson: Probably not, but look at where we are Amanda. In the years that I was gone, Savannah Taylor fought, clawed, and did everything she could to finally make it to the top of the mountain. And when she finally made it, who was here to eventually greet her? Tonight was her lesson on staying here. I’ve never questioned Savannah’s ability. I’ve always thought she was extremely talented. I remember seeing her wrestle in EXODUS when I used to head out to San Diego and catch shows, and admiring some of the things she could do in the ring. The girl can go and she showed that without a doubt here tonight. But do you want to know, why she isn’t standing here in front of you as the International Heavyweight Champion?
Amanda nods her head.
Cordelia Stevenson: It’s because she quit. She had me on the ropes, but I wasn’t going to let her have it -- and she didn’t have the heart to take it. And that’s the reason why she is no longer the champion. It’s not because I’m better. It’s not even because I may have wanted it more. Savannah Taylor isn’t the champion simply because she didn’t have the heart of one. And it doesn’t get much simpler than that. So if Savannah ever wants to know the difference between her and I? There goes a heart check boo.
Cordelia’s words are short and concise, punctuated with a shrug. It’s clear at this point that there’s nothing else left to say. Amanda Johnson thanks her for her time and offers another congratulations before the champ gives a nod and gingerly walks away towards a friend waiting in the distance for her. That championship celebration is about to be lit.