The Past. The Present. The Future
That year holds many different meanings to me.
For most, it signals the end of an era as the long standing wrestling promotion, High Octane Wrestling, turned off the lights for the first time in a very long time and many wrestlers including myself that had called it home were homeless and jobless for the first time since 2008 or in my case, 2012.
Released from our contracts and free agents for the first time in forever most of us sought out the next wrestling promotion to house the band of misfits the wrestling world loved to hate. Two names stood out as the companies that decided to take a gamble on the crop of talent from Chicago and those promotions were Wrestle UTA and 4CW.
The level of success we had in these promotions varied because some lasted longer than others, but the truth is it wasn’t HOW. We thank Perry Wallace and James Wingate for the opportunity they gave us, but at the end of the day they aren’t Lee Best and it wasn’t High Octane Wrestling.
Most went into “retirement” after their run in 4CW or Wrestle UTA because they felt they had nothing to prove to anyone. I don’t blame them as some had been with Lee and HOW since 2008 and when you’ve given your blood, sweat, tears, and body parts to a company for almost nine years what else do you have to prove? Working opening matches some place new?
I don’t think so.
While most drifted off into the sunset I continued to compete in various promotions because 2016 is remembered by me as leaving a sour taste in my mouth.
I started the year as the High Octane Wrestling World Champion.
In late 2015, I had finally broken through the glass ceiling and shed the moniker of “The Lonesome Loser” when I won the championship at Rumble at the Rock by defeating legends, Hall of Famers, and the absolute best wrestlers in the company at the time. I stamped my legitimacy as World Champion when I defeated Mike Best at HOW’s biggest event, ICONIC. I had wanted to parlay that into winning the prestigious Triple Crown of HOW which consists of War Games, Rumble at the Rock, and the Lee Best Invitational. I had already won two out of the three feats when my team defeated Team Boardwalk earlier in the year at War Games and at Rumble at the Rock 8 when I became world champion for the first time. My start to the Rob Michaels Invitational was a good one as I dominated Max Kael, but then it unraveled when I lost my world championship to long time rival, Scottywood, in my first defense.
The year continued to be a mixed bag as I continued my success, but I never saw another opportunity at the world title until I was selected one of four captains for War Games and even though my team was victorious, Ray McAvay walked out as champion.
In wrestling, you’re only as good as your last match, and my last match in HOW didn’t end so well.
Friday Night Chaos
Location: Chicago, Illinois: The Best Arena
July 8, 2016
Stevens is furious. He stands up and turns to see Dawn McGill, flanked by fifty members of the Les Miserables, standing on the outside. McGill defiantly flips him off.
Joe Hoffman: DAWN McGILL MADE THE SAVE!
Benny Newell: She’s not supposed to be there. The Les Miserables aren’t supposed to be there!
And that brings out the EPU. They stream out from the back but a sudden crush of people block them and a full scale skirmish breaks out.
Joe Hoffman: There’s a huge brawl over by the stage with the EPU and some of the Les Miserables.
Benny Newell: Matt, throw the match out before the shit really hits the fan.
To add more spice to the match, Lisa Barbosa-Stevens jumps up on the ring apron and runs through the ring.
Joe Hoffman: And now what’s Lisa Barbosa-Stevens doing in the ring?
Barbosa-Stevens leaps through the top and middle ropes and tackles McGill on the floor.
Joe Hoffman: BARBOSA-STEVENS TAKES DOWN MCGILL!
The two begin to roll around with wild punches being thrown by both.
Benny Newell: CAT-FIGHT! CAT-FIGHT!
Joe Hoffman: This is getting out of control. We’ve got another brawl outside the ring!
More EPU race out from the back to try to regain control. McGill and Barbosa-Stevens continue to roll around on the floor. Matt Boettcher tries to get in between the two and get them separated.
Benny Newell: Why the fuck is he doing that? Bitcher get back in the God-damn ring and count McAvay out.
Joe Hoffman: It’s complete chaos!
Now seventy people down on the floor surrounding the ring and blocking the view of the HOW’s Hall of Fame announcers.
Benny Newell: What the fuck? Where’d Stevens go?
Joe Hoffman: I don’t know Benny. It’s hard to see-
A crease forms and opens up. McAvay has Stevens’s leg hooked and a Big Bertha driver is lying next to him.
Benny Newell: WHO THE FUCK GAVE McAVAY THE BIG BERTHA DRIVER?
Joe Hoffman: Maybe it was Senor Benjamin, the gardener.
Actually, the answer is hanging around close by the ring apron- HOW’s sanitation specialist Bert the Janitor.
Benny Newell: SON OF A BITCH! FUCK YOU BERT!
Joe Hoffman: McAvay covers!
Boettcher sees the pinfall and immediately jumps back up to his feet. He goes to the ring apron and slams his hand on the mat to make the count.
Joe Hoffman: McAvay did it!
Boettcher immediately calls for the bell.
Ring announcer Bryan McVay doesn’t even try to climb back into the ring. He makes the announcement from the floor.
Bryan McVay: Your winner…”Tin Cup“ RAY! MCAVAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joe Hoffman: Injured neck and all, Ray McAvay pulls out an unlikely win over Scott Stevens tonight!
Benny Newell: This is fucking unacceptable!
Joe Hoffman: The EPU and the Les Miserables are still brawling on the floor. They’re trying to separate Lisa Barbosa-Stevens and Dawn McGill.
Since my last match in High Octane Wrestling I’ve traveled from promotion to promotion competing against the best the world has to offer not only to try and erase that disdain from the memory of the masses, but also to keep ready just in case…….
Location: Houston, Texas: Stevens Household
January 2019, 7:00 a.m. local time
It’s been awhile hasn’t it?
It’s been three years since we stepped foot inside the Stevens Household to see what the former HOW Champion has been up to.
The image of a six foot tall black iron gate comes into view before the long hike up a concrete trail until we reach the outside of door of a ten thousand square foot house that sits on two acres. The serenity is broken up by the sounds of voices coming from inside the house.
“Jack, finish your breakfast and get ready for school.”
The ever familiar Texan says to a boy who happens to be eleven or twelve years old as a family of four sit around a wooden table eating scrambled eggs and extra crispy bacon.
The boy says as he shoves the last piece of bacon into his mouth and steps away from the table before exiting the room.
“Expect you home late tonight?”
A mocha skin woman with raven colored hair and piercing brown eyes asks Scott as she takes a bite of her eggs.
Scott says as he takes a bite of his bacon.
“Making the media rounds to promote my match with Oscar and going to put some extra time in at the gym before I head to San Antonio this weekend to train and strategize with dad.”
Stevens says as he takes a sip of his orange juice as the woman nods.
“I got some good news.”
The woman replies and Stevens looks at her with an intrigue expression on his face.
“Oh? What’s the good news babe?”
Stevens asks his wife and she cannot contain her excitement as she blurts out the news.
“I’M WRESTLING AGAIN!”
She says with extreme jubilance as her husband nods.
“Where you working at now?”
Stevens asks before taking a bite of his eggs.
“Missouri Valley Wrestling, the same company I was working for when I stepped away when my contract expired.”
Lisa says as her husband is trying to remember the name.
“The company where McAvay and Dawn McGill are at?”
Stevens asks as his wife shakes her head.
“The very one.”
Lisa replies as she takes a sip of her orange juice.
“When did all this take place?”
Scott asks with a curious tone.
“A few weeks ago.”
Lisa replies and her husband has a confused look on his face.
“And I’m just hearing about this now?”
He asks with a chuckle and Lisa simply smiles.
“Jill Berg called and asked if I was interested in coming back because they had an opening for an opportunity to challenge for the Women’s championship and being the former champion I was perfect for the spot. I was a little hesitant at first.”
She says and Scott looks surprised.
“Hesitant? That doesn’t sound like you.”
Stevens replies and Lisa shakes her head in agreement.
“I know babe, but I hadn’t been in a wrestling ring in almost a year when I dropped the championship to Christa.”
Lisa says to her husband who just shrugs.
“I know, so I told Jill that I needed a few weeks to get back into ring shape before I made a final decision.”
Lisa tells Scott who is connecting the dots.
“So that’s why you’ve been going to the gym more recently and staying late at the training facility.”
Stevens says as his wife nods.
“Exactly. I wanted to make sure I was a well oiled machine instead of looking like a fool.”
Lisa informs her husband who finishes his breakfast and rises from his seat and takes his plate to the sink and begins to wash it.
“So when are you headed back to MVW?”
Stevens asks as he cleans his plate.
Lisa says and the plate slips out of her husband’s hands but it doesn’t break.
Scott says confused.
“I’m making my return this Saturday at their pay-per-view when I make a surprise run in and take out former Women’s champion Sheline Carrigan.”
Lisa informs her husband as Scott turns off the faucet as he finishes washing his plate and makes his way over to his wife and gives her a kiss on the lips.
“You’re going to be great.”
He says which brings a smile and red to his wife’s cheeks.
She says embarrassed.
Jack says as he comes back into the kitchen and sees his parents all lovey dovey.
Lisa asks her son as he nods and the two head towards the door.
“Have a good day at school.”
Scott says as he watches his son and daughter head out the door to school as he begins to pick up the rest of the plates and glasses around the table. As he puts the plates into the sink his iPhone 8 begins to ring. Stevens wipes his hands on a nearby towel as he walks over to the counter and picks up his phone and it’s from a number he doesn’t recognize but it has a Chicago area code.
Stevens asks when a voice he thought he would never hear from again asks a simple question.
“Hey dickhead, what are you doing in March?”
The Future is defined as the time or a period of time following the moment of speaking or writing; time regarded as still to come.
Still to come.
An unexpected certainty is still to come because this isn’t the same old High Octane Wrestling I remember three years ago. Sure, some faces and names may still be the same, but from what I’ve learned in my five years in HOW is that names and faces come and go all the time it’s what you do while you are there makes you worthwhile.
When I met Lee Best in Chicago to discuss the reopening of High Octane Wrestling I told him I was in before he even said if it was going forward or not. If you are one of the people who haven’t experienced HOW for yourself you’re probably asking yourself why would I resign with a company whose owner has put me through so much misery for five years? The incidents with Tara, Da Bears fans during the New York street fight, and being suspended when my Captain Planet faze didn’t go over so well would have made anyone else quit, but I didn’t.
I stayed when most people would have quit.
Maybe I’m a sucker for punishment.
Maybe quitting was the easy way out.
I was always taught no matter how difficult a situation arises you stay and finish what you started. I’ve always been loyal to whatever company I was wrestling for no matter what my personal feelings were to people in charge or towards my fellow wrestlers. Besides, in some weird way through the pain and misery that bald idiot put me through he made me a better wrestler for it.
I know that’s weird to say, but if it wasn’t for Lee pushing me I probably never would have became the wrestler I’d become. I’m forty-one years old with bad knees held together by Scotch tape and chewing gum and one bad shot and I’m done. I’m probably one more concussion away from permanent psychosis, but despite all my physical ailments I was able to achieve goals that I probably would have never accomplished if it wasn’t for One Eyed Willy telling me I’m shit and can’t do this.
Like him or not, Lee has always been truthful because if he sucks your dick and tells you it’s all good and everything is fine then how will you ever get better?
If it wasn’t for Lee pushing me I would have never became World Champion. I know what you’re thinking haven’t you been world champion in other promotions, and the answer to that is yes I have. However, the HOW World Championship is the one I had to put in the most work to achieve and when I won it everyone recognized the hard work I had put in over the years to achieve that goal because unlike most world titles out there the one with the 97 red leather strap is probably the most prestigious to obtain.
Think about it.
There has been a total of 50 recognized HOW World Champions when HOW closed it’s doors in 2016.
The most reigns are held by Lee Best’s son, Mike, with 8 reigns.
The second most reigns is by Rhys Townsend at 5.
Then there is everyone else with either 3 reigns or two reigns.
The there is the few people who were at the right place at the right time and were lucky enough to hold the championship one time.
Out of 50 reigns only 27 individuals have held the world title with Rhys Townsend and Mike Best having held that title 13 times. That’s ten more times than HOW legends like Jace Parker Davidson and Aceldama have held it or Hall of Famer John Sektor has held it. Hell, those two have dominated the HOW World title picture more than anyone in the history of High Octane Wrestling in the Golden Era, the Modern Era, or this Refueled Era. That’s how difficult it is to win this championship.
When the ink was dry on the contract Lee smiled that sly smile of his and informed me some of the details about how they were going to proceed going forward with getting rid of the weekly show format to a monthly with an opening to a bi-monthly show because of time, resources and finances a weekly show was not possible at this time. I told him if it was only one Supershow and we went out in a blaze of glory afterwards I was fine with that because I was just happy to be back in HOW.
I shook his hand and knew I had just signed a deal with the devil once again, but I didn’t care because I was home.
Everyone that has never been a part of HOW sees us as a cult with a mob mentality because if you attack one you attack us all, but we are a family…..a very fucked up family, but nonetheless a family. When HOW announced it was reopening it’s doors and they were having a tournament to crown a new world heavyweight champion you saw familiar names that hadn’t been heard from in three years coming back.
These eight have been the core nucleus during my time in HOW and I was ecstatic to see that they have returned. Each one of them has been a friend or foe at some point and it’s always a joy to step inside the ring with each of them.
As the days continued to pass more and more Hall of Famers and legends started to come out of the woodwork, but not to compete in the tournament.
Christopher America, the second greatest mind in professional wrestling came back as a consultant to HOW.
Ryan Faze returned to his old stomping grounds as a producer and an agent.
Rhys Townsend returned to become the main sponsor and pimp out his taco trunk during breaks from being Senior Vice Present of Creative.
Silent Witness crawled out of whatever dumpster he is living in these days to manage a young up and coming wrestler by the name of Joey Conrad.
Other legends and Hall of Famers to return that are competing in the tournament are the usual suspects…..
The name missing was Jatt Starr but The Starrabian Knight was probably balls deep in some pussy or six pussies and missed the invitation.
HOW favorites returned as well……
Newcomers such as……
Decided to roll the dice and try to capture the brass ring.
However, Lee didn’t stop there as he wanted to make sure this was a tournament to remember, a tournament where the best of the absolute fucking best from all around the globe would be in and money or even death wasn’t an issue.
Those names that Lee Best got are some of the biggest names in professional wrestling that weren’t competing in a High Octane Wrestling ring the last 8 years.
The Incredible One, you may remember him as Ian Bishop from Boardwalk Wrestling and the guy who almost signal handedly won War Games for his team. He’s dominated Boardwalk and he’s dominated his current company of OCW as well. Major money player.
Madman Szalinski, Lee Best must have sacrificed whatever piece of soul he had left to the gods to resurrect a guy who supposedly died from cancer in 2017. Regardless of if Madman is alive or undead his name echoes throughout the wrestling world and just like Mike Best you either love him or hate him. He wasn’t just the Wrestle UTA champion, he was the FACE of Wrestle UTA. Whether Lee likes or hates Madman personally is irrelevant because the former UTA champion is an ATM and Lee loves to line his pockets with green no matter the animosity he may have.
Halitosis, a familiar face in the last days of PCW and lately in MVW where former HOW alumnus like Ray McAvay, Dawn McGill, RAH! And Jill Berg reside. Halitosis is the latest to try his hand in the big leagues and if Lee was convinced by his former alums who have had vast success in HOW then Halitosis is the real deal.
Lindsay Troy, the Original Queen of the Ring. A woman who has dominated everywhere she has competed and Lee has courted her for 17 years hoping she would grace his ring with her presence and it hadn’t happen until now. Better late than never and I’m sure the small fortune and title shot didn’t hurt her signing her name on the dotted line either.
Eric Dane, it’s Eric fucking Dane. What needs to be said expect….WHAT! THE! FUCK?!?!?!?! The man who woke up and said Fuck Lee Best. When he ate said Fuck Lee Best. When he took a shit he said Fuck Lee Best. When he was fucking whatever ring rat in whatever shithole he was in said Fuck Lee Best before he stuck it in and said it twice when he jizzed on their face. Eric Dane is the one wrestler that no one would ever think to step foot in a HOW ring because he and Lee Best hated so much, but as the old saying goes money and championships talk bullshit walks. Lee probably had to rob Fort Knox, take out a second, third, fourth and fifth mortgage on his home, marry Mike off to some Russian mail order bride, take Max’s other eye, and say DEFIANCE Wrestling is the greatest wrestling promotion for The Only Star to sign his name and walk into the lion’s den.
The future is not set.
These twenty five people before me are looking towards the same goal as I am and that is becoming the HOW World Champion. One wrong move, one missed finisher, one injury can turn the tide and the person you think you are going to face happens to be someone unexpected. The only thing for sure that is in my future is Lindsay Troy in the first round of the HOW World Championship tournament.