War Games is just a week away and it’s time to look at the odds, directly from High Octane Gambling headquarters! Who is favorite to win? Who are the rank outsiders? Is there a dark horse amongst the pack that could cause an upset? We’ve got a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it.
But before we get to the main event…
High Octane Fighting Championship Match: Mike Best © (-167) vs Scott Stevens (+275)
Let’s not try to be too clever here: Mike Best is the clear favorite to win this match. Scott Stevens has been out of action for the entirety of 2021 after major surgery that could have cost him his career. Now, it seems that he will lose that career anyway, as he will be forced into retirement if he does not win.
I like Scott. I spoke to him this week and he is in good spirits. He has a lot going for him: He’s seasoned, he’s tough, he’s ready and he’s motivated. But to return to HOW and immediately put your livelihood at risk against the absolute number one wrestler in the world… Well, that is one heck of an uphill climb and Scott better be up for the challenge.
Only the current World Champion has been able to stop Mike Best this year. Dan Ryan, Clay Byrd, Conor Fuse – some of the early favorites to win War Games – have all fallen before him and now the King of the HOFC division takes on a rusty, past-his-prime, old man. Stevens will have to be at his absolute best to win this one. He’s got it in him – Scott Stevens has beaten Mike Best before – but it’s hard to look beyond the incumbent Champion.
$100 on Mike Best nets you a $60 profit, while $100 on Stevens returns $375.
The Best Alliance vs Grapplers Local 214 And Friends
Winning War Games is tough. The aforementioned Mike Best – the greatest competitor in HOW history – took years to win it. We aren’t interested in the odds of which team will win – it’s all about the wrestlers for this one. Let’s look at each individual competing in this match and their chances of walking out of War Games with their name etched into HOW history.
Arthur Pleasant (+850): I have waxed lyrical about Arthur’s rise to the forefront of this match in recent weeks. The odds might not reflect it, but in my opinion the 214’s chances of winning this match will rely almost as heavily on The Provocateur as they will on the LSD Champion. The problem Arthur will inevitably have to deal with is that he is hated by his team mates and would probably be a better fit on the other side. He will have to betray his team to win War Games, or they will betray him. That is why his odds are relatively high – the 9th favorite – but he remains my choice as the dark horse for this match.
Cancer Jiles (+650): There are a few things that do not go in Jiles’ favor. Most importantly, nobody retains the World Championship at War Games. Or at least, it’s very rare. He is not in the greatest form (4-3-1 for the year) and although he has won three matches since taking the title from Mike Best at #M2GMSG, his only loss came as part of a team effort alongside two of his War Games squad, against lowly Darin Zion just a couple of weeks ago. Nevertheless, he bounced back with a big win last weekend and as team captain, he will make the final decision on who hold the World Title should his team win. That is why he enters the match as joint-4th favorite.
Clay Byrd (+550): The biggest threat to Teddy Palmer, for obvious reasons. He will either be the first man eliminated from the match, or he will walk out with the LSD Title as a minimum. We rate this man’s chances very highly here at HOG and if he does make it beyond the threat of Palmer, he will instantly increase the Best Alliance’s chances of leaving War Games with all the gold. It is a big if, though, which ultimately affected his chances. He enters this match as the joint-2nd favorite – but those odds could be shortened very quickly if he disposes of the current LSD Champion.
Conor Fuse (+800): Conor sits among a group of individuals sat on a $900 return from $100 placed. These individuals are absolutely contenders to win War Games, but they will most likely need a lot of things to go their way. Conor and Dan Ryan will first have to deal with the threat of Jatt Starr and the rapidly-rising John Sektor and that, of course, has had a detriment on Conor’s chances. We also cannot ignore Sutler’s favorite frenemy’s run of three successive losses. Nevertheless, he is certainly on the Ones To Watch list.
Dan Ryan (+650): Dan Ryan receives slightly more favorable odds than his team-mate, despite losing his last two matches against two members of the Best Alliance team. Prior to those close losses against Sutler Kael and John Sektor, Dan Ryan was on a tear – including handing Arthur Pleasant his only defeat so far. There is no doubt that the giant could have beaten both Sutler and his immediate opponent at War Games on another day, and that is reflected in his odds. Unlike Arthur Pleasant, Ryan commands the respect of team captain Lindsay Troy – and it is far less likely that he will be sold short by his team. If “even Kostoff” (not my words) can win the World Title, then it is only a matter of time until Dan Ryan does, and War Games could be his chance. We would have Ryan level with Clay Byrd, but his defeat against John Sektor, whom he must beat on June 6th, had to alter his odds.
Darin Zion (+1750): I’m pretty sure it was Keats that said “One win doth not maketh a contender.” Well, Keats, or Shakespeare, or Wordsworth or… Silent Witness… Anyway – it was one of the greats. Sure, he won the impossible match, but he also lost to 4 of the men in this match this year and has looked awful while picking up his 7 losses. Any good Champion will tell you after an emphatic win that they are taking things one step at a time and remain focused on the long-term goal… Zion told us he was going to Disneyland.
Jace Parker Davidson (+900): The King of Everything is one of the tougher competitors to evaluate heading into this match. On one hand, he is a multiple time Champion, one of the most dominating figures in HOW history. On the other hand, he lost to Darin Zion and tried to set Ray McAvay on fire, which was roundly criticized by pretty much everybody in HOW. His inconsistencies are stark: Losses to Zeb Martin – spoiler alert: the biggest outsider in the match – albeit in a tag team match, and the handicap loss to Zion sandwiched an impressive victory over Lindsay Troy. There is no doubt that on his day, JPD is a tough test for anybody. The real question is: Does he still have that version of JPD in him?
Jatt Starr (+950): Oh, Jatt, you loveable idiot. I straddle the line between boredom and reminiscence whenever I hear about the Ruler of Jattlantis, and there is a danger that you cannot still hang in 2021. Conor Fuse has made it clear that he intends to put Jatt out to pasture, and we tend to agree with him here at HOG, as reflected in Jatt’s odds. We suspect that Jatt may be the man to fall in the tag team element of the match, despite my longing for the return of the golden era of HOW.
John Sektor (+850): Despite my admiration for Sektor’s re-emergence at the sharp end of HOW in recent weeks, it could be that War Games has come around a few weeks too early for him. He is favored over his team-mate thanks to his impressive win against Dan Ryan, but the combination of Ryan and Fuse is likely to be too strong for the Tag Team Champions. However, should John advance into the main crux of the match as we expect him to, he has the experience and the ruthlessness to stay in contention. He is tied with Arthur Pleasant as 9th favorite to win, but much like his opponent, The Gold Standard could be a dark horse in this match.
Lindsay Troy (+650): I have made my feelings on Lindsay’s leadership very clear recently. I think she should have done more to rally her troops and allay any doubts within the group that she is a true leader. There are few doubts about her ability in the ring, although she will need to improve on her recent outings if she is to go the distance in this match. As the leader of the team, her chances are boosted much like Cancer Jiles’ are, which is why she is joint-4th favorite to walk away as World Champion, instead of being lost in the middle of the pack.
Ray McAvay (+1000): It may seem a little unfair to rate the former World Champion’s chances so poorly, but there are a few factors to consider here. Firstly, this isn’t 2016, when Ray was at his peak. Secondly, even though he had fared fairly well in his two tag team matches against four of the Best Alliance team (1-1), he has not seen enough in-ring time to be considered anything other than an outsider. In fact, by the time Ray McAvay enters the War Games match on June 6th, more than a month will have passed since his last outing in HOW. Inactivity kills in HOW – even more so ahead of the most challenging match of the year.
Scottywood (+1750): Scotty is a huge underdog in this match, but it became clear this week that his motivation for this match is to ensure the Best Alliance wins – not that Scottywood wins. From Lee Best’s point of view, it’s a masterstroke: Woodson is exactly the kind of man Lee needs to enter the match, have an impact that swings the momentum in favor of the Alliance, before inevitably being eliminated. If Scott can do that, he will have done his job.
Steve Harrison (+800): I said Arthur Pleasant is my dark horse for this match… Well, The Miracle Man is in that conversation as well. His chances took a hit with his loss to Pleasant last Saturday, but there is no doubt that with a little bit of luck, Harrison could be in the mix at the end of the match. He is 7-3 on the year, so there is a lot to like about his chances – albeit all three losses have come against members of the 214 squad. Harrison enters as 7th favorite to win – that is a fair reflection of the threat he poses in this match.
Steve Solex (+1300): When you look at his record, which includes 5 straight losses, it’s easy to see why Solex is not among the front-runners for this match. You could make an argument that his odds should be closer to Scottywood’s. So, why isn’t he? Well, Solex flies under the radar – and that could be an advantage in an elimination setting. While the likes of Scottywood will be looking to make an impact – thus drawing attention to himself – Solex can quietly go about his business until there’s nowhere left to hide. He’s going to need a lot of help to win this one – a favorable entry spot would certainly help – but it seems unlikely that Steve Solex walks out of War Games as World Champion.
Sutler Kael (+500): Are we about to see the first second-generation War Games winner? We here at High Octane Gambling think so. Sutler is the only entrant with an unblemished record since #M2GMSG and he showed great awareness to beat Dan Ryan in his last outing. That kind of natural talent is hard to come by and unless he loses out to the captain’s choice rule, I can’t see anybody stopping Sutler Kael from following in his father’s footsteps (Max won War Games in 2012) and becoming the next HOW World Champion.
Teddy Palmer (+550): Well, if anybody is going to stop Sutler, this could be the man to do it. Teddy enters the match as joint-2nd favorite, alongside his LSD Championship challenger, Clay Byrd. If Teddy can make it through that first element of the match, he will be a major threat to every other competitor. His entry position works against him, but there is little doubt that the man who only has one blemish on his record during this period – the tie with Clay Byrd aboard the USS Octane a couple of weeks ago – will be on everybody’s radar. The 214’s hopes hang on his ability to overcome Clay Byrd – otherwise, there will be scant opposition to the Best Alliance in this match.
Xander Azula (+1000): The man who’s name nobody can remember… Or at least, conveniently forget when it suits. Well, he is somewhat a forgotten man in this match, too. Xander has an excellent record in HOW – only Mike Best has beaten him (twice). The problem is, aside from that match with Mike, his only match during this period has been a victory over Steve Harrison. As impressive as that is, Xander falls into the same category as Ray McAvay: Inactive and in trouble.
Zeb Martin (+2000): Last, but least, I said last week that Zeb Martin is out of his depth in this match. His sole singles match victory was due to outside interference. His other two wins were tag team matches – and Ray McAvay won one of those for the team. His “performance” – which is a very generous term for what he produced at Korakuen Hall – sucked away any kind of momentum he had into a dark, depressing void. Not only do I think Zeb Martin has no business being in this match, I also believe his presence on the team actually hinders the 214’s chances of winning.
So, there you have it. The great thing about the War Games match is that it’s anybody’s to win (aside from Zeb Martin, clearly) and even a strong favorite like Sutler Kael could fall victim to an upset. But where am I putting my money for this monumental event? It’s time for…
NOT-THE-BEST BET OF THE WEEK
Once again, there is an easy choice – Mike Best to defeat the returning Scott Stevens. But I’m focusing on the main event, and I cannot look beyond the favorite here. I’m placing my paycheck in the hands of Human Resources and predict that Sutler Kael will win War Games and leave as HOW World Champion – and I will leave $500 richer.