Eat my shorts, dork.

I’d like to start this thing off with a lesson.

A history lesson.

It’s about the mythical creature known as DEFIANCE.

Can you feel my eyes rolling yet? You will. More than just a mythical creature, what DEFIANCE actually is in comparison to High Octane Wrestling at this point is little more than the Elephant in the Room. So anyway, here’s what you mouth-breathers who can’t stop hashtagging “Fuck DEFIANCE” all over Twitter, along with the idiots who show up to the events with their signs and their hand-drawn homemade t-shirts are somehow unable to process with even the most basic of internet searches and/or common sense:

DEFIANCE won that goddamned war.

!~GASP~!

I know, right?

And it’s been over and done with for how many years now? Ya see DEFIANCE never closed. High Octane shut all the way down. DEFIANCE is still going, albeit with neither my participation nor my creative or business influence. Another thing that you stupid motherfuckers can’t seem to come to grips with because you’re blinded by your own ignorant hubris is that Eric Dane and High Octane Wrestling have entered into a business agreement that several dozen lawyers and accountants put together in order to maximize the mutual benefits for both parties moving forward.

Mutual. Benefits.

So this is what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna trot on down to the office and I’m gonna find out who’s in charge of merchandising. I’m gonna have him slap a #FuckDEFIANCE logo on a few hundred thousand t-shirts, call it a limited time offer, and the company and I are gonna make a mint selling those shirts. Then, every time one of you douche-canoes says “Fuck DEFIANCE” on TV or hashtags it all over my timeline, you’ll actually be accomplishing something for once in your careers by shilling my merch for me so I don’t have to.

In conclusion, Eric Dane isn’t just with High Octane Wrestling.

Oh no.

Eric Dane is High Octane Wrestling.

Remember I said that.

===

April 8th, 2019
The Yuengling Center; Tampa, FL
Shortly after the conclusion of Refueled: One

Eric Dane had been on a rampage since his shoulders had been pinned to the mat several minutes ago. Shit got torn up, fans were accosted, to a point. A camera dude got roughed up and a bunch of equipment wound up smashed to bits.

In short, The Only Star had thrown a temper tantrum.

It hadn’t stopped when the cameras stopped rolling, either. He took his sweet time leaving the ringside area, jawing at the fans and tearing shit up as he made the rounds. A few beers were tossed at him and an assortment of other garbage, but what was one to expect from the kind of classless miscreant who thought that beating the dead horse of something that stopped mattering a decade ago was a good way to pick up chicks.

Or something, fuck, I really don’t know what happened out there. Shit went sideways and then it hit the fan, splattering all over Eric Dane, High Octane Wrestling, and the first couple of rows of fans at ringside. When The Antagonist finally made it back up the aisle and through the curtain he came face to face with the face of HOW…

Lee effin’ Best.

The two locked eyes, maybe for the first time, maybe not, you don’t know and it doesn’t matter. A thousand words were exchanged in a three-second glare that was broken as The Only Star just turned his head and kept walking. Lee shook his head, the expression on his face nigh unreadable. Dane continued on down the hallway, busting a left and passing through what was left of catering before coming to what had been designated as his own personal dressing space.

You know, because Eric Dane is a star, and stars don’t dress with the boys.

He huffed, and he puffed, and just before Hurricane Dane could blow the door in it popped open and the first thing visible was the smiling face of Mr. Robert Dean, former wrestler turned Waffle House rising star turned manager and personal lackey to The Only Star himself. Eric was exceptionally close to blowing another aneurysm as he addressed the Portly Playboy.

“Where the entire fuck have you been?” Eric demanded.

“I was-” Dane cut him off.

“Spit it the fuck out, Bobby!”

“It’s just that-” Again, he is cut off.

“Have you been at catering this whole time?”

Dean’s gaze falls to the floor, he is the definition of crestfallen.

“JESUS FUCK, BOBBY, I NEEDED YOU OUT THERE!”

Bobby sighed audibly. “I’m sorry, Eri- OH-EM-GEE I MEAN MISTER DANE! It’s just that, well if you recall you wouldn’t let me into the dressing room with you before the show, and you told me to scram when I tried to bring you some catering, and you threatened to skin me alive when I tried to go to the ring with you against Madman…”

Dane was not impressed. “And so?”

“So I, uh… assumed-”

“You assumed? You do know what happens when people assume things, right Bobbo? I mean, you have seen The Bad News Bears, right?”

Big ol’ alligator tears welled up in the corners of Bobby’s eyes.

“You’re not gonna fire me are ya, boss? I didn’t exactly work out a Two Weeks Notice at the Waffle House and I REALLY REALLY DON’T wanna go back to man-whorin’ for cheeseburgers again!”

Mr. Robert Dean was entirely too fucking much.

“Bobby,” Eric said. “You are entirely too fucking much, of course I’m not gonna fire you. I’m gonna dock you a month’s pay, but I still need somebody to carry my shit around and drive me around and pick up my dry-cleaning and what have you. The coffee ain’t make itself, yanno, so I’m pretty much stuck with you until you die or I can afford better help.”

Bobby’s face brightened.

“Yuh-yuh-yuh-” He stuttered, “Ya promise?”

Eric nodded.

“Pinky Swear?” He thrust out a fat little piggy.

“Fuckin’ Christ, Bob, what are we? Twelve-year-old girls?”

The bulbous lurkabout nodded enthusiastically.

“Fuck outta here with that bullshit, Bobby. And remember, I didn’t lose out there to Darin Zion tonight. That shit’s on you. Ya let me down, Bobby, do you understand?”

More head nodding. Dane shoulders past Bobby and into the room.

“Good. Don’t let it happen again or I’ll have your mother fed to a tarrasque.”

Mr. Robert Dean followed, shutting the door diligently behind himself.

===

“Joey muh-fugghin’ Conrad.”

The Only Star smiles.

“Good ta meet’cha. Name’s Eric.”

A pause.

“I used to be important.”

Followed by a wink.

“Still am, too. Now, while I may not be important to Max Kael and the rest of the people still in the mix for the World Title, I am important to you. You see, this week I’ll be the Substitute Teacher in your continued learning of the ins and outs of this, my wrestling business.”

The smile widens into a smirk.

“Ya see, kid, I want ya to take everything else out of the equation and pay special attention to all of the advice shoved down your throat by people I’ve either beaten or completely ignored in the past. Seriously, I don’t know who Rhys Thompson is, I’m told he sells ethnic food out of the trunk of an ‘84 El Dorado. Anyhow, I want you to take all of that wonderful advice, and I want you to shove it right up your own ass.”

He pauses again, nodding this time.

“All the way up there, kid, past the colon.”

He winks and gives a mocking Thumbs Up.

“Mayhap you ask yourself why, but the answer is simple. That advice is full of shit, and you might ought to blow it out your ass and forget about it before it gets you in trouble. Maybe even listen to a much more competent and compelling teacher.”

The End Boss jabs two thumbs at himself.

“That’s me.”

Another pause, this one to let that last bit marinate.

“I’m not the boogeyman, Joe. Real talk, I’m just another guy tryin’ to make a name for himself in High Octane Wrestling. Sure, I’ve got history. I could go on at length about my accolades, my trials and tribulations, transgressions, and triumphs…”

“I mean, who doesn’t like to stroke their ego once in a while, am I right?”

“But none of that shit matters. Not the old WfWA, not DEFIANCE, not Utah or Japan or any-the-fuck-where else. What matters is High Octane goddamned motherfucking Wrestling, do you feel me? And I want you to bring me everything you’ve got, kid, however much that might be! And do you know why?”

“Because I demand it!”

“Because I expect it.”

“Because night in and night out, every single time I lace the boots and set foot inside of a wrestling ring, I’m one of the best wrestlers in the entire fuckin’ world! I’ve proven it, time and again, and I’m going to prove it every single time I go out from now until the day that I drop dead right there inside that fuckin’ ring!”

He shrugs, grimacing slightly.

“Or maybe somebody’ll prove me wrong.”

Another, more pronounced shrug.

“Maybe it was Darin Zion. Hell, maybe it’ll even be you…”

“But.”

And there’s always a but.

“If you even think you’re gonna sniff a victory over me, I know for a fact that you’ll be giving the performance of a fucking lifetime. Bringing out the best in my opponents is one of my goddamned superpowers — not because I give a flying fuck about making people look good — but because if you don’t raise your fucking game, I’ll break your fucking neck. For twenty years I’ve stepped in the ring with guys just like you, itching to make a name for themselves, and for twenty years I’ve stood tall…”

His demeanor stiffens.

“I’ve gone places and I’ve done things, kid, things that I don’t feel like you’ve got the stomach for. And it’s not for the lack of Silent Witness’s trying to get you ready, either, it’s that you simply haven’t had enough time in the business to come up against a guy like Eric Dane. We’re gonna find out, though.”

“I’m gonna take you places you’ve never been before, Joe.”

He forces a smirk, still unable to mask a bit of disappointment.

“I hope you’re ready for this, kiddo, because if you’re not…”

He gives a soft chuckle.

“I can’t be held accountable for what happens if you’re not ready.”

===

April 8th, 2019
The Yuengling Center; Tampa, FL
Later that night.

“You know you gotta pay for all that shit, right?” There stood Michael Best, gloriously wrapped in the loudest of plaids. A lazy smirk stretched across his grinning face.

“Fuck you, Mike,” Eric replied.

“Hey buddy,” Mike half rolled his eyes. “I’m not the guy that smashed a bunch of shit because he got outsmarted by Darin Zion. That was you, big star.”

The Only Star stared back at the Son of God, his face purposefully blank.

“Whatever, Mike, take it out of my check.”

“You don’t make enough to cover how much shit you trashed, man.” The quadrillion-time Everything in HOW refused to be undermined. That didn’t stop him from being mildly amused at the attempt.

“Yeah, about that, you promised me seven figures. The fuck?”

“Hey man,” Mike deflected. “Nobody figured the IRS was gonna come in with a giant coathanger and scrape the fetus that was HOW before tonight.

Dane barely registered the idea.

“How is any of that my problem?”

“Because your big fat contract was one of the 97red flags that put the extra attention on us in the first place.”

Dane stared at him, unfazed.

“Not. My. Problem.”

Mike shrugged back. “Is what it is, dude, are you gonna let a shitty low-end guarantee fuck up everything we have planned?”

The Antagonist considered the thought.

“Nah. Saul Goodman.”

Mike chilled the fuck out a bit.

“Ha! Yeah, I knew you didn’t want none.” Mike goaded The Only Star.

“Eat my shorts, dork.” Dane replied.

An awkward moment passed, Mike finally brought it home.

“I put my neck out for you, man, don’t fuck me.”

Eric shrugged.

“Don’t give me a reason too, that’s all I’m sayin’”

===

I’ve got a lot of guys riding my Johnson this week.

It’s not as pleasant as it sounds.

Lots of retired guys yacking their smacks in my direction, trying to catch hold of relevance for the first time maybe ever. Maybe not, you don’t know and it doesn’t matter. That’s all cute and everything for the Twitter Box, but don’t get it twisted and find yourself in a fucked up situation that you aren’t prepared to deal with.

I’m doing everything in my power to focus this, probably my last run, on the right things at the right times to maximize what’s left of my bump-card. I’m tryin’ real fuckin’ hard here is what I’m saying, but sooner rather than later somebody’s gonna try me, it’s goddamned inevitable, and I’m gonna ruin somebody’s life again.

I hope it’s not Rhys Thompson, he’s a boring fuck. Maybe he used to be big shit, but as far as anybody that matters is concerned he’s quite literally old news. As for Silent Witness, I know he’s gonna be in his guy’s corner. I also know he’s not the kinda guy to stick his foot in his mouth when there’s no cause…

At least, I hope that’s the case. Maybe if he can just shut the fuck up and watch, he and I won’t have to revisit that little incident we had a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

And here’s my by god honest opinion on the subject: Thompson and Witness are distractions at best, they don’t matter any more than anything I ever did a decade ago matters. Refueled Two is about Eric Dane and Joey Conrad and what happens when you mix a dangerous veteran with a plucky young prospect. So long as everybody remembers that and nobody decides to stick their nose where it doesn’t belong, everything is gonna be alright.

Well.

That is to say.

Until I cave in Joey’s head the way I caved in Madman’s head, nah’mean?

That’s probably the moment when shit will go sideways.

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