Listen up, Handsaw Hank! This is Corporal Punishment, and I’m ready to draft you into a world of pain, brother! Chairs! Tables! Barbed wire! There will be blood! And the likelihood of career-ending, disabling injury that goes along with it!

And you know something else? I was wondering if we could do this another way. Maybe one that doesn’t require rolling around on broken glass or literally lighting each other on fire? I’d rather not dislodge an eyeball or knock a tooth through the roof of my mouth and out my nose. Again.

How do you feel about speed chess? Or a Fortnite tournament? I’m willing to be flexible, provided your ideas don’t involve a ring rigged with low-grade explosives, or a stipulation about being thrown into a tank of live piranha. Yes, those are things that have happened, brother. Google them.

I just turned forty-five and I could probably pass for ten to fifteen years older. Two and a half decades of falling off ladders and landing on flaming tables will do that. You’re wont to call me “a broken-down old man” in your promos, so surely you concur. If I were a car, a demolition derby would hesitate to take me, and who could blame them? My hips and lower back are making noises that should only come from rusted-out machinery.

Even you’ve had, what? Two? Three documented concussions? Those are just the ones you know about. You pride yourself on refusing to ever tap out, but your central nervous system might have other ideas, brother. Doesn’t a bakeoff or a crossword competition sound preferable? Think about this before you allow me to staple a souvenir program to your scalp.

I know we have “workhorse” reputations, and we’ll do anything to put on a great show, but is it worth it? The fans go nuts for it, but that’s probably shock value. Do you think they really want us to bump onto beds of thumbtacks and run razorblades across our faces to get pops? In this era of social media, they surely know how many of us die before fifty because of this stuff. By that metric, I’ve only got five years left. I’d like to spend them in full possession of my physical and mental faculties. Can we employ the latter of those now to keep both indefinitely?

Let’s use our heads, brother, rather than putting them through the un-gimmicked windshield of a parked car.

Think about this too: when we flog each other with rattan canes and perform aerial maneuvers with fluorescent light bulbs duct taped to our spines, we inspire legions of kids to do that very thing, regardless of what the disclaimer at the beginning of the shows tells them. Maybe we can teach them to not pulp their brains by doing the equivalent of repeatedly banging their skulls against a granite countertop. That’s the dream, isn’t it?

Another is to not paralyze myself by leaping off the top rope onto an unpadded concrete floor, hoping my opponent isn’t half a second too late to deflect me. Let’s do both! For the kids!

Setting our onscreen animosity aside, I like you. You’ve still got time to figure things out, and you have a good long life ahead of you; provided you don’t fall victim to a mortality rate fifteen to twenty times higher than that of the general population. Those are morbid statistics, brother.

But if you really want to proceed as planned, I’ll be there. I guess. I’ll have my brass knuckles and sharpened Japanese kamas at the ready and will do my best not to nick a major artery this time. We’ll leave it all in the ring. I just hope I’m not unintentionally referring to the remaining two-thirds of my right ear.

Time to go to war, troopers! Let’s hope we don’t wind up as casualties…