County Fair

Halitosis, his wife Laura, and Ray McAvay visit the Dyer County Fair in Tennessee

The HOW camera guy focused in on the pleasant older lady manning the ticket booth at the entrance gate to the Dyer County Fairgrounds. A light fixture shone on a sign above the older wooden ticket booth that read: ‘Welcome to the 2019 Dyer County Fair.” In the background, there was a kaleidoscope of colors whirling about in every conceivable direction: rides, food stands, and large lights that illuminated sections of the fairgrounds.

“That’ll be five dollars.” She held out her wrinkled hand, palm up, and took three five dollar bills handed to her by Ray McAvay, former HOW World Champion, TWO-time ICON Champion, and LSD Champion.

“Here you are ma’am,” McAvay said. From the view point of the HOW camera guy, it showed the back of McAvay’s Hawaiian print shirt on, jeans, and tennis shoes- the anthesis of the way most people perceive a man who runs a small wrestling company (Missouri Valley Wrestling) should dress. But McAvay always walked to his own beat.

“Y’all enjoy the Dyer County Fair,” the woman said with a gentle smile at the conclusion of the transaction.  McAvay nodded and handed two of the tickets to the other members of his party.

Welcome to Saturday night in Dyer County, Tennessee- Saturday night at the Dyer County Fair.

McAvay handed his ticket to a man standing guard and crossed through the opening in the chain link fence surrounding the fairgrounds.

Next through, Halitosis- sans mask. Hence why the HOW camera guy filmed the group from behind- keyfabe! The camera showed the back of Halitosis’s jeans jacket, jeans, and a pair of cowboy boots.

Then Laura Bergman, also known as the wife of Halitosis and the new Chief Business Officer of Missouri Valley Wrestling, glided through the gate into the fairgrounds in her sandals, jeans shorts, and a button up shirt.

The trio stopped in the grassy area and weighed their options. Look to the left side- they saw all the rides. That’s where the majority of the folks attending the fair congregated- especially around the popular rides like the Zipper, the Ferris wheel, The Wiz, The Sea Dragon, the slides, and more.

Look straight ahead, they saw the livestock area, the exhibit buildings, and took in the country fragrance teeming from the animal pens.

Look to the right, they saw the entertainment area: Sorghum Valley- a miniature settlement in a quaint country atmosphere surrounding the Old Sorghum Mill inside the fairgrounds and the FCNB Amphitheater.

McAvay pointed to the amphitheater a few hundred feet away. “That’s where the concert will take place later on tonight.”

Nodding, Halitosis glanced over at the small facility. The HOW camera guy made sure to stay right behind him and film the back of the wavy brown hair extending from the back of his head. Traffic from Interstate 155 passed by in the distance traveling from west to east and vice versa in a sixty-five mile an hour blur in the frame as the camera man focused in on the growing number of people at the FCNB Amphitheater and filling up the stainless steel benches.

“And that’s where I’ll talk,” Halitosis said, looking squarely at the amphitheater stage where a crew busily assembled the stage for the evening’s main attraction. In the rear of the stage, a sign with “Dyer County Fair” lettered on the plain white background sat centered on the wall. To the right, a faux ticket booth with a caricature of a cow inside the booth sat.

“Right,” confirmed McAvay.

“I love it!” gushed Laura. Growing up in rural Northwest Ohio, Laura spent many a summer night at the local county fair so she found herself right in her element. “This feels like home.”

“Come,” McAvay said, waving the couple towards the rides. “Let’s walk for a few minutes. We’ve got a little bit of time.”

And walk they did. Strolling right down the midway right into the mosh pit of young children, horny teenagers, carnys hawking their wares, and god knows what else. The best thing about it? Sans mask, Halitosis walked forward into the multitudes who gathered at the fairgrounds on a beautiful Saturday night and no one had nary a clue who the man casually wading through the humanity in the midway was.

Of course, McAvay knew who he was and couldn’t help but talk a little business. “I have to tell you the John Sektor you’ll be wrestling next Friday in Memphis is not going to be the same John Sektor I faced back in 2016 in Philadelphia,” he commented.

Halitosis agreed with him. “I know.”

THREE SHOTS FOR A DOLLAR. WIN YOUR GIRL A PRIZE!

“In April 2016, John Sektor had returned from exile in UTAH and we were gearing up for War Games,” McAvay explained. “Sektor was the captain of Lee’s Best Alliance team that also had Brian Hollywood on it. I was angling towards being on Scott Stevens’s team because I thought we could win the whole damn thing. Sektor was back and he was good but he wasn’t the classic, asskicking machine John Sektor of old. Let’s put it this way. In that match, Sektor hit me with his C-Sektion. I kicked out of it. That doesn’t happen. There’s not a lot of people who’ve kick out of his C-Sektion.”

“Yeah,” Halitosis concurred. “I’m thinking now if Sektor hits me with the C-Sektion it’s game over.”

“Exactly.” McAvay stopped in front of a ride called the Yo-Yo, a ride where you sat in a chair attached by wires to a giant spinning apparatus that at full speed flung the rider out away at a near forty-five degree angle. “You do not want to be put in that situation. Give Sektor credit. He’s somehow found a way to quit drugs and he’s also managed to put his career back together again. What he did at War Games was nothing short of genius. He managed to outsmart the two most dominant wrestlers in HOW since the return- Cecilworth Farthington and M.J. Flair.”

“Does that look like fun?” Halitosis asked his wife, watching the spinning Yo-Yo ride at its full intensity and listening to the assorted screams from the riders hanging on in their seats.

Laura grinned. “Yeah. Yeah it does.” She pulled out her purse. “I’m going to go grab some ride tickets and I’ll be right back.” She did a quick search around and found a bright red painted booth with ‘tickets’ plastered all over in a way to grab anyone’s attention nearby next to a giant lemon shaped booth where one could purchase ‘fresh squeezed lemonade.’ “I’ll be right back.” Laura then turned and departed in search of ride tickets settling in right behind a young father carrying his toddler in one arm and a plastic bag containing cotton candy in his other hand and following him. The child drank from a blue sippy cup and seemed a little tired.

“I completely agree,” Halitosis said, calling back to the conversation with McAvay about John Sektor. “I saw it at War Games and I fully expect to see it in Memphis. John’s back at the top of his game. John’s got the world title belt and it’s going to take a huge effort on my part to knock him off the top of the HOW mountain and take that belt from him. But I think I can do it.”

“I know you can do it,” McAvay agreed. “Now believe that you can do it. You need to be one hundred and ten percent committed and focused and you can’t make any stupid slip-ups like the one you made in the Dan Ryan match. Practice what you preach dammit. Three words- attention to detail. Put the work in. Have a game plan. Just go out there and do it.”

Halitosis listened and took in the counsel that McAvay provided without comment.

McAvay looked up as if an idea suddenly struck him. Or was it some fat guy chomping on an oversized corndog not watching where he’s walking.   Eh. Pre-law. Pre-med. “Hold on a second. Let me see if I can find this.” Working feverishly to pull up You Tube on his cell phone, McAvay pointed to the sky and exclaimed, “EUREKA! I found it!” He held the phone up to Halitosis and hit play. “You need to listen to this and take it to heart.”

(VIDEO: Friday Night Chaos – Philadelphia, PA – April 22nd, 2016)
Joe Hoffman and Benny Newell at the broadcast table discussing Ray McAvay’s upcoming ICON title defense against John Sektor.

Benny Newell: …Even though Ray McAvay is facing a member of the Best Alliance tonight, I at least give him credit for bringing Dark and Stormy and now Starbrite to HOW and getting to lick barbeque sauce off their tits.  So listen up…Ray, if you wrestle with your head up your ass like you did last week against Ojeda and Altus, John Sektor is going to kill you.  Not only is John Sektor going to kill you, he’s going to stuff you like a fucking Thanksgiving turkey. He’s going to shred you like wood going through a woodchipper.  So don’t wrestle tonight with your head up your ass.  Oh…and keep bringing your stripper babes with you to the ring.

Joe Hoffman: Inspiring.

Benny Newell: Oh trust me, licking barbeque sauce off a stripper’s tits is a fucking inspiring experience.

McAvay paused the recording.

“Truly inspiring words from a man who know how to lick barbeque sauce off a stripper’s chest,” Halitosis said. He immediately noticed that McAvay was about to correct him so Halitosis did it himself. “…Er, I mean- adult entertainers.”

“That’s better,” McAvay said. “But seriously, every point Benny makes in that video is actually, absolutely one hundred percent correct. Well, except for the whole bringing stripper babes to the ring.”

“Yep. That’s really not my thing.” Halitosis then made a motion with his hands to indicate ‘keep going.’ “You know, in that same clip I seem to remember the Les Miserables celebrating Brian Hollywood losing the LSD title that night to Electra.”

“Ahhh, very good. You are correct. But wait. There’s more.” McAvay hit play and the video restarted.

(NOTE: Like the recent ‘tampon’ incident during a wrestling match proved just how much HOW was ahead of its time, note in the following film clip a certain ‘catchphrase’ that ended up being shamelessly stolen and appropriated by a certain modern-day real professional wrestling corporation for one of its women wrestlers.)

(VIDEO: Friday Night Chaos – Philadelphia, PA – April 22nd, 2016)
Joe Hoffman: Okay.  Speaking of Ray McAvay, Brian Bare has ventured up to the Les Miserables where they’re still celebrating over Brian Hollywood’s loss to Electra-

Les Miserables: SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap) SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

The camera pans up to the Les Miserables section at the Wells Fargo Arena.  Brian Bare is there but Ray McAvay is not.

Brian Bare: Thanks Joe.

Les Miserables: SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap) SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Brian Bare: Well, as you can tell, the Les Miserables are very happy that Electra defeated Brian Hollywood for the LSD title.

Les Miserables: SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap) SHE’S THE MAN! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Brian Bare: They’re not letting me near Ray McAvay…

The camera shows McAvay sitting down in the middle of the section.  He’s looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, lost in his thoughts.

Brian Bare: …so instead, we’re going to talk with his manager ‘No Frills’ Chris Escondido.

Escondido steps into the frame.

Chris Escondido: What?  No Blair Moise?

Les Miserables: WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)  WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Brian Bare: Um…no.  How is Ray doing and how will the distractions of his personal life affect his performance here tonight?

Les Miserables: WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)  WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Chris Escondido: Brian, Ray is focused on one thing and one thing only.  John Sektor.  He realizes tonight is a big night.  The ICON title is on the line.  Ray respects the hell out of John Sektor for all that he’s accomplished here in HOW and he’s going to be ready for him.  And McAvay’s not going to repeat the same flat, uninspiring performance from last week.

Brian Bare: Sektor told Glenn Michaels in an interview that he has Ray ‘penciled in’ for a War Games-

Les Miserables: WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)  WHERE IS BLAIR! (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Brian Bare: SHUT UP!  BLAIR’S NOT DOING THE INTERVIEW…I AM!  BESIDES, WHAT DOES BLAIR HAVE THAT I DON’T?

Les Miserables: BLAIR’S GOT TITS (clap clap clap-clap-clap)  BLAIR’S GOT TITS (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Bare shakes his head and tries to get the interview back on track.

“Classic,” Halitosis laughed after McAvay stopped the video.

“But what did Escondido say to Brian Bare?” McAvay asked him. “He says I realized it was a big night with me defending the ICON title. He says I respect the hell out of John Sektor and his accomplishments and I’m going to be ready for him. That’s what you need to do next Friday night. Be in the moment but don’t let the moment overwhelm you. Respect the hell out of Sektor but don’t give him too much respect. Concentrate. Just like I did in that interview. My life was in flux and my marriage to Dawn was falling apart right before my eyes. But my focus at that particular moment of time was on the task at hand. Pay attention to detail. If you make one little mistake with John Sektor like you did in your match three weeks ago against Dan Ryan, you’re finished.”

Halitosis turned a little somber. “So speaking of Joe and Benny, what’s your take on what happened with them, Blaire and the others?”

Of course, McAvay had heard the surprising news about the firing of Joe, Benny, Blaire, ring announcer Bryan McVay, and referees Matt Boettcher and Joel Hortega. “Well? Benny’s allegiance was to Lee Best and anyone who stood with Lee, period. So I guess that doesn’t surprise me that Mike wants to make that change. Once you take Benny out then I suppose you have to do the same with Joe and start all over again fresh. Blaire? She was a surprise. I mean, after I heard the news I called her right up and tried to rehire her on the spot for Missouri Valley Wrestling. But she’s only willing to do a week by week arrangement.”

“Blaire thinks she may get rehired back?” asked Halitosis.

McAvay shrugged. “Don’t know. I can’t read her mind,” he answered. “She’s not as transparent as someone like…oh I don’t know…Captain Corporation…Brian Hollywood is.”

Halitosis chuckled at the acerbically sarcastic comment. “So. It’s true. You still despise Brian Hollywood after all these years, don’t you?”

“Duh,” McAvay admitted freely. “I despise him in ways you can’t even begin to understand. The man’s a soulless robot.”

“He’s a rich, happy soulless robot,” Halitosis pointed out.

“He was gung-ho for the Best Alliance in 2016. He’s now all gung-ho about this new group of his- The Order.” McAvay shook his head derisively. My experience with people who claim they want to ‘restore order’ actually want is to impose their order on everyone else. Hollywood was big into this before in 2016 when he defeated me for the world title. He’s hasn’t changed one damn bit in three years.”

“So suffice to say you were more than a little happy to see me defeat him for the title,” Halitosis said.

It didn’t take McAvay much more than a millisecond to respond. “Oh hell yes.”

“Well that’s good.” Halitosis looked around and realized his wife hadn’t returned from procuring ride tickets. “Laura’s taking a long time to get tickets.”

Meanwhile, across the way and hopelessly mired in line, becoming increasingly impatient with the amount of time it was taking to get ride tickets, Laura found herself stuck behind a group of female high schoolers who talked a mile a minute and kept up a running commentary on friends, family, and people who walked by while they waited in line. Listening to the various inane comments flowing back and forth, Laura couldn’t help herself and rolled her eyes at the conversation- repeatedly.

“Patience grasshopper,” McAvay counseled, mimicking the name Master Po called David Carradine in the classic 1970’s television show ‘Kung-Fu.’ “It’s Saturday night, the last night of the county fair, and she’s probably stuck in a long line. It’s just going to take a few moments.” McAvay then pivoted the conversation right back to Halitosis’s match against John Sektor. “Speaking of patience, you’ll have to show the same sort of patience next Friday against Sektor. As Benny kept saying over and over during my match with him, Sektor is the ‘thinking man’s wrestler’ and he’s correct in that assessment of him. You cannot go to sleep against him. You cannot let up for a moment like you did against Dan Ryan when Lindsay Troy distracted you. You have to be fully engaged at ALL times against him. Or else you’ll eat a C-Sektion and that will be that.”

Again, still filming from behind McAvay and Halitosis, the HOW camera guy had to move up slightly to allow a hospitality vehicle containing an elderly couple who were getting a much needed lift across the fairgrounds to pass by.

“I know,” Halitosis said looking straight ahead and allowing the camera guy to film directly behind him. “I know what I need to do.”

“Then do it,” instructed McAvay.

“What about Ground Zero?” Halitosis suddenly asked.

“What about them?” McAvay replied. “Don’t worry about Ground Zero. Don’t let your brain get in the way and just go out there and do-”

“Got it!” a female voice interrupted.

The HOW camera guy positioned himself in a way to show Laura walking towards Halitosis and McAvay holding the ride tickets in her right hand.

Laura held the tickets up.

“Excellent,” Halitosis said.

Ray checked his watch. “We’ve got plenty of time before we’re supposed to be backstage at the amphitheater.”

Halitosis took Laura by the hand and walked away from the shot towards the Yo-Yo ride. “Let’s go.”

*

Soon after the ride on the Yo-Yo and a quick trip to the bathroom to get ready for his appearance, Halitosis found himself on the stage in the amphitheater before a few hundred people. McAvay hung back off stage to watch with Laura.

Walking to the amphitheater proved to be a much different proposition for Halitosis with his mask on and his nearly iconic black t-shirt with the block letter ‘H’ in the middle than earlier in the night. Where before, no one had any clue who he was, once he donned the lucha mask and shirt, it seemed everyone knew who Halitosis was. He then led the merry band of people across the fairgrounds to the FCNB Amphitheater.

“I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight,” he spoke from the stage. Me, Ray, and my wife appreciate the hospitality given to us this evening.” Halitosis paused for the requisite applause that followed. “I’m not going to take too much of your time here as I know you’ve got a big time country music show coming up here as soon as I’m done. I just wanted to say that next Friday night, six days from tonight, we and High Octane Wrestling are going to be seventy-five miles down the road in Memphis, Tennessee at the Pyramid for a night of Chaos…Friday Night Chaos. Come on down and watch some of the best wrestlers on the planet…” He paused and continued. “…and then me, too.”

Halitosis grinned and nodded while a few people in the audience laughed along.

“For eleven years, I scuffled, struggled, plodded, scratched, and clawed my way down a road that took me through small towns just like Dyersburg, Tennessee, that took to county fairs just like the Dyer County Fair, because I was focused on a dream- a dream that took place earlier this year when not only did I sign with High Octane Wrestling but then I also went on to win the HOW World Title in my fifth HOW match. Unfortunately, my title reign lasted just two weeks and now I realize how much I didn’t quite appreciate what it meant to be the World Champion. Why? I was in a bit of a fog having been through a whirlwind of joining HOW, winning matches no one thought I had a chance in hell of winning, and then defeating Brian Hollywood for the title. I didn’t have a chance to really think about it. I just went out there and the next thing I knew, I was being handed the world title belt. How did I do it? Hell, I really have no idea how I did it- at the time. Now, I know…” Halitosis pointed to the crowd in the amphitheater. “You. People like you. You got behind me. You cheered me on. You celebrated with me when I won the title. You helped me get there.”

The crowd applauded for a few seconds. Laura popped onto the stage ever so briefly to cheer her husband on.

After the clapping and cheering wound down, Halitosis went on. “Now, this Friday night- in Memphis, Tennessee just down the road, I have a chance to regain the World Title against one of the best wrestlers who’s ever graced a High Octane Wrestling ring- The Gold Standard himself- John Sektor.   John’s backed by his faction- Ground Zero – and they’re a very talented group of wrestlers…old school wrestlers. I will walk to that ring at the Pyramid next Friday night by myself. But I know that you guys will be there because you’ve been there since the beginning. I don’t need faction to have my back because I’ve got you- the fans. The people. And that’s all I’m going to need. Defeating John Sektor is going to be a huge mountain for me to climb. But dammit, we’re going to give it all we’ve got. With you in my corner, I’m going to do everything in my power to leave Memphis, Tennessee next Friday as your new High Octane Wrestling World Champion.”

While the musicians slipped in behind him and began to get their instruments hooked up to the amplifiers, the crowd rose- one half cheering Halitosis on- the other half cheering for the country band who were about to take the stage.

Halitosis waited for the noise to die down before he concluded his remarks.   “Well, I’ve taken enough of your time,” he said while quick bursts of music could be heard as the band prepared for the performance. “So ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the show…”

 

 

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