Duncan 4:16: Is Shaw right to say Duncan disgraced the title?

James Shaw has experienced a career renaissance over the last few months. He went from a long losing streak to holding championships in multiple promotions. To anyone who witnessed this firsthand, we know it was an extreme attitude change that resulted in these victories.

Longtime critics of Shaw will say that condescending, vicious side of him has always been lurking below the surface (or sometimes, completely visible on Facebook for anybody to see – until James would wise up and delete it). But one thing I’d have never thought of him is that he was a hypocrite. To most, the prevailing view would have been that James is a fun-loving guy, laid back about life to a fault. And maybe that’s why his father, Alan Shaw, got involved. Me, I wanted to believe that it was his father that turned him against his former best friend. That a dad just wanted the best for his boy.

But James told two different stories about what happened that night at IPW’s The Eliminator, when he regained the IPW Championship. First he said that his dad was responsible for opening his eyes to the truth; that he now has to save New Zealand wrestling from those he considers unworthy, like Brook Duncan. But apparently without noticing the hypocrisy of his own words, he also used Duncan’s inability to hold the IPW Championship for longer than four minutes and sixteen seconds as the main reason he had this change of heart. It was Brook’s failure that caused him to act this way, you see. That’s where he’d like us to point the blame. At Brook.

And here’s where I’m supposed to question Brook’s desire, heart, etc. Because I was asked to do this article in order to examine whether James could be right. To focus on the potential shortcomings of Brook Duncan. With all due respect, very few people work harder than Brook, and we should not partake in a pointless exercise in victim blaming when the true culprit’s actions are abundantly clear.

James, you are the one who caused that reign to be that short. He had no reason to see this coming. You jumped your once best friend and took away what he’d spent the last year chasing. You’re parading around in a t-shirt emblazoned with “Duncan 4:16” on it, as if that says anything about the calibre of the competitor he is. It doesn’t – it just says what type of man you are.

Let’s be honest, we should have seen it coming. While celebrating in the ring after matches, James would often fool around with his mates by pretending to attack them. Many times it was him and Brook that stood side-by-side joking about beating each other up. Until the fateful day that it was real. And now he wants to blame Duncan for not being ready for the attack? Nah, maybe the real James Shaw was always ready to strike, just waiting for the best moment when nobody would expect it. After all, it’s just your mate having fun again, right?

His old theme song used to say, “I like to have fun”, and maybe that fun stopped for James when he realised he couldn’t win on his own any more. But he felt like he still deserved to be soaking up the adulation of those around him; he wanted to be the one standing tall at the end with his friends. So he got himself new friends. He’s got his father by his side, guiding him. He’s got the power of Elias backing him up, which is a whole extra problem for anyone trying to get at the IPW Championship.

But this Sunday—July 9 at IPW Bangers and Smash, to be exact—another individual steps up to resist this triad of terror. And he’s the seven-foot-tall, 130kg monster, Reuben de Jong.

After de Jong eliminated Kingi in a Sledgehammer Match at IPW Winter Warfare, and with Vinny Dunn nowhere to be seen, we have a focused monster who’s hungry for the championship. Beating him will be no easy task, and if we’re going to talk about champions who could bring prestige back to a title, you don’t need to look further than a man like Reuben de Jong.

Oh, and James, please don’t forget – in a tag team bout at IPW Caged Fury, Brook Duncan beat you. You lost. I bet that feels just great, to lose again to a man you’re trying so hard to pretend isn’t worthy of your time, or the title. So, if he’s not worthy, and he beat you… what does that make you? You think it over.

Worthiness is earned, James. You’re going to find out firsthand what happens to those who steal the spoils of war. Spoiler alert from history: It doesn’t end well.