Welcome to The Witness Report: Your new weekly opinion piece, hosted by me; Silent Witness.
We will probably change the title.
There are a lot of new faces in High Octane Wrestling since the last time I was here, so let me give you all a quick rundown of who I am.
I debuted in HOW in 2004 and quickly became a… fairly important part of the rise of the LSD division. On and off from then until 2009, I was a pretty average wrestler overall, but I always had success in the LSD division. Then, in 2012, I returned to HOW and… Well, I was actually pretty good for once – I was inducted into the Hall of Fame, won the World Title, got my face smashed in by Rhys Townsend and then pretty much fell off a cliff. I have been back-and-forth with HOW for years but if we’re being brutally honest, I probably should have retired after dropping the World Championship, because it has all been pretty dreadful since then.
We don’t need to worry about any of that, though. My in-ring career may be over, but this is a new chapter in my High Octane story. Each week, I am going to give you my opinion on what happened on the latest episode of Refueled – the matches and incidents that caught my attention and what I think might happen next. There is also another element to this that Lee Best and I have agreed on – as surprising as that is – which we will be building on over the coming weeks and months. I will talk more about that later.
This is not going to be a match-by-match in-depth breakdown of every single aspect of the show, though. There will be events that this Hall of Famer does not want to waste precious column inches on, so if your promo doesn’t get mentioned, well… It probably didn’t excite me and as this is my opinion piece, I’m going to talk about the things that did. It’s nothing personal – it’s just my opinion. You’re welcome to agree, disagree, or simply say that this whole thing is a nonsense – I am still going to say my piece, just the same.
But why should you care about what I think? Well, as I said, I am a HOW Hall of Famer, former World Champion and a five-time LSD Champion. None of that matters in the here-and-now when it comes to matches – yeah, I heard you, Farthington – but my experience in HOW is pretty extensive and I know what works. I also know all-too-well what does not work, so I think I’m in a good position to comment on the current affairs in High Octane Wrestling.
Alright, that is enough jawing about me – let’s get started with Refueled LXII – whatever that is in regular numbers – here’s my take on this week’s highlights.
John Sektor’s return to focus: There is no hiding from the fact that Sektor has fallen far below The Gold Standard in 2021. Prior to this week’s win over Lester Moregrimes, Sektor had failed to score a victory in singles competition in this calendar year. Defeats to Clay Byrd and Zeb Martin prior to #MTGMSG and a defeat to the red-hot Teddy Palmer, along with a sketchy tag team record had me doubting if my fellow Hall of Famer still had what it takes.
He addressed that issue forcefully before his match, sending a clear message to Teddy Palmer that although he might currently be a couple of miles down the track, the LSD Champion might want to start looking in his rear-view mirror. John still has a long way to go to prove he is still in the same race as Teddy, but he has captured my attention – and no doubt Teddy’s as well after a spiteful victory over Moregrimes.
Arthur Pleasant trying to be… pleasant: I don’t know much about this guy, but he reminds me of the late, great Maximillian Kael in some ways. There is an unquantifiable sinisterness (is that a word?) about him that just commands attention and demands respect. We saw that when he interrupted Lindsay Troy’s meet-and-greet: Lindsay made sure she kept her distance from him. They obviously have a past that I’m not currently aware of, so perhaps she has been burned before, but that stuck out to me as a telling moment.
Arthur was there because he wants to be on the 214’s War Games team, and who could blame him? It is one of the most important events on the calendar and he made his pitch. Whether or not the Local Grapplers can trust him enough to welcome them onto the squad remains to be seen, but they must be considering it. Personally, I would like to see more from Pleasant – and so does Lindsay Troy – because so far, The Provocateur has beaten Bobby Dean and Darin Matthews (or Zion, or whatever his name is this week), whom had a combined record of 2-8 for the year when they faced him. Arthur’s real test came against Dan Ryan (6-1 at the time) and he came up short. He has another chance to prove himself this week against High Flyer.
Choo, choo! The G-Train has rolled into the station: I must admit, I had forgotten all about my involvement in the Gino-Scottywood feud all those years ago. Even Hoffman’s recap has not brought anything back – I guess all those hardcore matches have taken a toll over the years. Nevertheless, I was pumped up for this match from the moment it was announced – and it did not disappoint. Both men gave it everything they had, and what a show they put on for us.
Scottywood was gracious in defeat – perhaps showing a maturity that he did not have when they first fought – but I want to focus on how good Gino looked. No, I’m not talking about his abs, I’m talking about his ring craft. Mike Best warned us that this was not the same idiotic kid we were used to, and boy did he prove it. Gino was decisive, ruthless and seemed to always know his next two, three or four steps throughout the match. When it didn’t quite go to plan, he was able to adapt his game-plan and action it. He had his fair share of luck – he was Saved By The Bell more times than Zach Morris – but everybody needs a little luck here and there.
A very impressive return from Giordano and if I were a team captain for War Games, I would keep a close eye on him. I’m not sure he would win War Games, but every team needs that one guy who can come in and have an explosive impact, maybe eliminate one or two opponents – Gino could be that guy.
The chemistry between Sutler and Conor: Sure, they may see things differently, but these two just seem to be made for each other. Fuse insisted that he was not interested in teaming with Reynolds-Kael, but personally I would like to see that happen. They seem to be two sides of the same coin, albeit Sutler may have a somewhat more… twisted view of the world – and who could blame him.
I have no idea what will happen next with these two, but if Conor really doesn’t want to co-op, then they seem destined to face off against each other somewhere down the line. That is a match I am already excited for and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. War Games, anyone?
I’m not buying into Farthington vs Best: Words that might make me look like foolish in a few weeks, sure, but these two have been best buddies for life since the first time the bumbling Englishman set foot in a HOW arena. Some of the greatest rivalries in this sport have started like that, so of course it could happen.
Reynolds-Kael’s phenomenal pedigree: I remember the bitter, life-changing feud between Shane Reynolds and Max Kael. It is no surprise to me that Sutler is… the way he is. Both of those men were ruthless, callous individuals in the ring and Sutler seems to have aspects of that. His instinct to exploit the situation that led to his victory was right out of The Minister’s playbook and he picks up a huge win over Dan Ryan; inflicting defeat on him for the first time since #MTGMSG.
I think that covers most of my favorite moments from this week’s show. I am conscious that I have taken a lot of your time already, so let’s look ahead to next week – and introduce an old-but-new feature that we will continue to build on over the coming weeks.
Lee Best – as everyone will know – is a deeply unpleasant individual. We were in discussions for months about what role I could play in HOW for 2021 and beyond, before we finally settled on something that we have always agreed on: The potential of High Octane Gambling. We are still ironing out how exactly to harness that potential and we will be bringing more detail about how that could impact the roster over the coming weeks, but our discussions have been productive, even during his current predicament. Maybe it’s the meds, who knows, but we are seeing eye-to-eye, so to speak and we have big plans to finally make this a worthwhile venture in HOW.
In the meantime – and this brings us back to Lee being deeply unpleasant – there is a stipulation in my HOW contract that he simply would not budge on. To introduce the early stages of HOG to the roster, I will be giving you the odds on each match for the upcoming card and giving you Not the Best Bet of the Week. What does that mean? Well, my contract gives me $500 per week – but only if I correctly place that $500 on a winner. If my prediction wins, I get my $500. If my prediction is wrong… Well, it wouldn’t be the first time I found my lunch in a trash can. On to the preview!
LSD Championship Match: Teddy Palmer © (-167) vs Clay Byrd (+130)
What a main event we have in store! Teddy Palmer (8-2 for the year; 4-0 since #MTGMSG) has been sensational in 2021 and is riding a six-match winning streak, dating back to February 27th. Byrd (5-2; 3-1) is the underdog in this match, but he has not been defeated in singles competition since February 6th when he lost to Mike Best, and he has a great opportunity here to win the LSD Championship for the first time. Incidentally, Teddy Palmer’s last singles defeat was on the same show, against Steve Harrison.
There are other similarities here that make this match a little less predictable than one might imagine: Both men have faced relatively easy competition this year, with their average opposition strength (wins versus losses of their opponents at the time of facing them) below .500 – Palmer’s year-to-date opposition strength is .477 (0.500 for the War Games period), while Byrd’s opposition strength is 0.363 (0.263 for the current period). Also, both men have impressive win rates (.800 for the Champion, 0.710 for the challenger).
Palmer’s win streak is undeniable, though, and could prove to be the big difference here. A $100 bet on Teddy wins you $60, whereas the same bet on Byrd wins $130, should they be successful.
HOFC Title Match: Mike Best © (-200) vs Xander Azula (+350)
As the years progress, it becomes more and more difficult to make the argument that Mike Best is not the greatest wrestler in this history of this business. He has been at the top of his game for a generation – it’s an incredible achievement that deservers so much respect from everybody. Nevertheless, he will still have to be on his game against Xander Azula. This year, Azula (4-1; 1-0) has beaten everybody in his path not named Mike Best.
Mike (8-1-1; 2-0) has only lost this year to the current World Champion, under what can favorably be considered questionable circumstances. He seemingly has not been pinned in singles competition since dinosaurs walked the earth and it’s difficult to look beyond the Son of God.
$100 on the defending HOFC Champion wins you $50, whereas $100 on a victorious Xacuti Chicken (hey, it’s rare I’m in a position to make fun of someone’s name, give me a break) would net you $350 profit.
3-on-1 Handicap: The Best Alliance (-500) vs Darin Matthews (+1000)
Well, this is what you get for trying to help set up the ring, I guess. Darin Zion faces the HOW World Champion, a former HOW World Champion and Hall of Famer… and Steve Solex. Darin (1-7; 0-3) enters this match with by far the worst record in HOW and needs a miracle to stand a chance of making it out of this one of his own volition, never mind winning. If Darin wants something hopeful to focus on, he could look at the combined year-to-date record for his opponents, which comes to 6-7-1 (or a 0.440 win percentage) and Steve Solex has lost four in a row. However, it seems unlikely that Zion walks out of this one with a W.
Matthews is a huge underdog here and a $100 bet would win $1000 should he somehow pull off the impossible. $100 on The Best Alliance wins a meagre $20, so we have taken a look at the odds for which member of the Best Alliance will score the winning pinfall or submission. $100 on the Champion wins you $50, $100 on JPD wins you $55, or if you think Solex deserves your backing, $100 wins you $150.
Arthur Pleasant (-125) vs High Flyer (+150)
Lindsay Troy told The Provocateur to prove himself and he has an immediate opportunity to do so against High Flyer. Pleasant (2-1 since his first match in April) experienced his first defeat last time out against the man-mountain Dan Ryan, but has looked impressive in all three outings so far. High Flyer (2-4 on the year; 1-2 for the current period) on the other hand, has struggled this year. Back-to-back defeats against Bobby Dean (whom Pleasant has beaten) and Sean Stevens have underpinned his struggles and his poor run looks set to continue here.
A win for Arthur Pleasant might not be enough to convince Lindsay Troy and the rest of the 214 just yet, but if you put $100 on it, you will win $80. Should High Flyer pull off an unexpected win, your $100 will win $150.
Bobby Dean (+300) vs Cecilworth Farthington (-125)
Cecilworth Farthington heads into this match as the heavy favorite, despite not having faced any competition so far in 2021. Bobby (2-5; 1-2) followed up his victory over High Flyer with an immensely disappointing performance against Jatt Starr, and unless there is a dramatic improvement in just seven days, I am expecting a similar outcome here. There is of course an element of doubt whenever a wrestler has been inactive, but there is nothing about Farthington’s career in HOW so far that would suggest it could have an impact. He has been truly dominant throughout his career and this new foray into the HOFC division will begin in similar fashion.
$100 on Bobby Dean would return a $300 profit, should he defeat the returning Hall of Famer. $100 on Farthington wins $80.
NOT-THE-BEST BET OF THE WEEK
As I mentioned earlier, the only way I make any money out of this is by guessing that a wrestler will win and hoping it actually happens. Putting my $500 on the Best Alliance to overwhelm Darin Matthews is the obvious choice here, but I am not going to do that. Instead, I am backing Cecilworth Farthington to overcome Bobby Dean as my bet of the week. If we believe that Farthington wants to earn his shot at Mike Best’s title, he will not do himself any favors by losing his first match. I expect a quick and decisive victory here for the returning star.
So, there you have it. The first Witness Report is in the books. If you like what I had to say, come back for the next one. If you don’t like what I had to say, well… Come back anyway. If you don’t like my opinion of your chances, go and prove me wrong, then come back next week.
Just… come back.