Event Date: April 3, 2022
- 1. Stronk Godson vs. Scott Stevens
- 2. Leave it to Stever
- 3. You're Fucking Welcome
- 4. Butt Hurt
- 5. It's On Me
- 6. Chris Kostoff vs. Darkwing
- 7. Suplexes Are Coming
- 8. Brian Hollywood vs. Steve Harrison
- 9. Opportunity Trumps Potential
- 10. WAR… is Inevitable
- 11. Knock Knock...
- 12. Xander Azula vs. GenoSyde
- 13. Mackdaddy of Mojo
- 14. Noble Gaming
- 15. Clay Byrd vs. Conor Fuse
Stronk Godson vs. Scott Stevens
The High Octane Television logo gives way and we immediately cut to the middle of The Best Arena where Hall of Fame ring announcer Bryan McVay is standing in the middle of the ring as we are kicking off the road to War Games immediately with a match!!!
Bryan McVay: The following match is ONE FALL!
The fans come to life in the Best Arena, excited for the opening match of the evening.
Joe Hoffman: After Bobinette Carey and Scottywood graced the fans here in Chicago, they’re more than ready for a match to get started.
Bryan McVay: Introducing first, hailing from Houston, Texas and standing at six feet and six inches tall, SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOTT! STEEEEEEEEEEEEVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENS!
‘A Country Boy Can Survive’ by Hank Williams Jr. rips through the Best Arena as Stevens emerges from the backstage area and walks with a purpose to the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens hoping his march to War Games is better than his march to March to Glory. While he had two shots at the HOW World Championship, he fell short both times against Conor Fuse. A victory here tonight, against STRONK Godson, would go a long way to helping Stevens find his confidence in 2022.
Bryan McVay: And his opponent, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota and standing at five feet and nine inches tall, STRONK! GODSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!
Hank Williams Jr. fades into silence before it is replaced by ‘Juicy’ by Notorious B.I.G.
It was all a dream
From backstage appears STRONK, who looks physically imposing. He marches down to the ring and makes his way to the center of the ring where he looks at Scott Stevens.
Bryan McVay: No fear in the eyes of STRONK, even if he is giving up eight inches to Stevens. Godson has been rather upset at being left off the March to Glory card. Needless to say, this is a chance for him to pick up some momentum after getting a victory over Xander Azula, who will be competing later on tonight for the HOtv Championship in Genosyde’s first defense.
STRONK looks ahead at Stevens, his chest heaving, while Matt Boettcher asks STRONK to make his way to his corner.
Bryan McVay: A stacked card tonight, as the HOtv Championship AND HOW World Championship will be defended later on this evening! First though, Godson and Stevens as Boettcher signals for the start of the match.
STRONK makes his way back to the center of the ring and slams his fists into his chest repeatedly. Stevens walks up to STRONK and smacks the taste out of his mouth.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens is on record as saying that he is one of the strongest wrestlers in HOW and would have no issue throwing STRONK around the ring. It looks like Stevens wants to assert his dominance right out of the gate.
STRONK, his head cocked to the side from the slap, rubs his cheek a little bit before his head snaps back towards Stevens.
STRONK Godson: TOSS ME!
Stevens, looking at the challenge STRONK has laid out, wraps his arms around STRONK and tries to lift him up, but STRONK doesn’t even budge. Stevens looks at STRONK, confused, and tries to lift him again, but once again, STRONK remains firmly planted in his spot.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens unable to lift STRONK as Godson looks amused at Scott’s attempt to do so.
STRONK shakes his head before he slams his head into Stevens chest, stunning the Hall of Famer. STRONK then grabs Stevens and lifts him onto his shoulder. Stevens kicks furiously, trying to get out of the meaty arms of STRONK, but is unsuccessful as STRONK runs full speed and connects with a running powerslam on his opponent. STRONK makes his way up to his feet as Stevens lies there, shocked by what just took place.
STRONK Godson: GET! UP!
Stevens sits up slowly and looks at STRONK before gradually making his way back up to his feet. STRONK rushes at Stevens only for Scott to connect with a drop toe hold, causing STRONK to crash into the mat. Stevens gets back to his feet and drops his elbow across the small of the back of Godson.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens getting some much needed offense in here and looks to be targeting the back of Godson, hoping to slow the power-based offense that STRONK has demonstrated in his early career here in HOW.
Stevens makes his way to his feet, bounces off the ropes, and drops a knee across the lower back of STRONK. Making his way back to his feet, Stevens begins to snap kick after kick across the ribcage of his opponent. Stevens grabs Godson by the back of the head and yanks him off of the mat and is caught by an elbow from STRONK. Stevens stumbles backwards as STRONK bounces backwards and connects with running shoulder block that flips Stevens inside out before landing on the mat.
Joe Hoffman: Hard landing there for Stevens who might be wondering which way north is right about now. Godson showing that even if he is giving up a height advantage to Stevens that his power more than makes up for it.
STRONK drags Stevens up to his feet and connects with a Backdrop Driver, causing Stevens to grab the back of his skull from the impact. STRONK wastes no time as he yanks Stevens up to his feet once again and connects with another Backdrop Driver. Stevens looks dazed as STRONK yanks him to his feet again and goes for another Backdrop Driver only for Stevens to land on his feet. Stevens then goes for the roll-up.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens managing to land on his feet on that last backdrop driver, went for the roll-up, but STRONK managing to get out of it before Boettcher managed to finish his count. Close call there for STRONK, but Stevens has a bit more work to do to get the victory in this match.
Stevens takes his time getting up to his feet, still feeling the impact on the back of his skull and neck. STRONK starts to make his way to his knees and Stevens quickly puts a pause to that with a stiff kick to the side of STRONK’s head. STRONK rolls onto his back as Stevens grabs the ropes and connects with a series of of muddle stomps before he leaps into the air and drives his boot across the chest of his opponent.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens starting to pick up some momentum here. The brawler mentaility for Stevens means less lifting and more striking with an opponent like Godson and right now Stevens is finding a rhythm here that is working. Godson will need to make sure he doesn’t get too far down in the hole if he wants to stay in this match.
Stevens grabs STRONK by the back of the head and begins to pull him up to his feet. He then whips him into the ropes and connects with a spinning back elbow that stuns STRONK, but he remains on his feet. Stevens then whips STRONK into the nearby corner before moving towards the opposite corner and runs full speed, connecting with a Stinger Splash in the corner. STRONK looks dazed as Stevens whips him across the ring again and goes for another Stinger Splash only for STRONK to move out of the way. As Stevens stumbles backwards, STRONK connects with a release German Suplex that sends Stevens flying across the ring.
Joe Hoffman: And what a show of strength there for STRONK as Stevens went to the well one too many times there. Stevens neck and head must be throbbing from the abuse that STRONK has dished out here, though STRONK is going to need a moment to catch his breathe.
STRONK makes his way back up to his feet and catches a rising Stevens with a headbutt that sends Stevens into the corner. STRONK then connects with a knife-edge chop that causes Stevens to grimace in pain while stumbling out of the corner. STRONK wastes no time as he grabs Stevens and lifts him up over his head before connecting with a Gorilla Press Slam. Stevens lands hard on the mat and STRONK catches him on the bounce up before connecting with another Backdrop Driver.
Joe Hoffman: And STRONK continuing to just drop Stevens on the back of his head and neck. That’s not going to do Stevens any favor and he’s going to need to see a chiropractor at the end of this if the trend continues this way. STRONK is showing his determination and strength in the middle parts of this match so far.
STRONK grabs Stevens and yanks him to his feet, connecting with another knife-edge chop that drops Stevens to both knees. STRONK reaches down and wraps his massive hands around the skull of Stevens and starts to apply pressure, as Stevens squirms from the pain and pressure he is feeling. Boettcher checks with Stevens to see if he wants to submit, but Scott refuses, instead driving his fist into the midsection of STRONK with no impact. Stevens fires another one, but STRONK seems unfazed. Stevens then slams his fist into the knee of STRONK, which breaks the hold and stuns STRONK, but only momentarily as he yanks Stevens up to his feet and connects with another Backdrop Driver.
Joe Hoffman: You could hear those knife-edge chops in Champaign as they filled the entire arena and I don’t think anyone in the backstage area will be wanting to feel those from STRONK. Godson has managed to keep the pressure up quite a bit and continues to dish out punishment upon Stevens.
Godson goes to pull Stevens up to his feet, but Stevens catches him with a fist to the jaw. STRONK is stunned, giving Stevens the opening he needs as he makes his way up to his feet and connects with a stiff knee to the face of STRONK. Godson stumbles backwards into the ropes and Stevens runs full speed at him before connecting with a running knee to the face, sending both men crashing to the outside. Stevens is the first one to his feet and he begins to stomp away at STRONK while Boettcher begins his count on both men.
Stevens ignores him though and continues to stomp away, each shot stiffer than the last.
Joe Hoffman: And Stevens managed to catch STRONK off guard there and sent both men to the outside after that vicious knee strike. Stevens though is going to want to get back in the ring soon if he doesn’t want a double count-out. A count-out of STRONK though might give Stevens a bit of confidence on his march to War Games though.
Stevens grabs Godson and whips him into the ringside barrier. Godson collides hard with the barrier and Stevens wastes no time as he fires off a flurry of his own knife edge chops on STRONK, each one echoing throughout the Best Arena. With Godson leaning against the barrier, Stevens connects with a European Uppercut that stuns Godson before Stevens whips him into the edge of the ring. Godson’s back connects hard with the ring and he drops to both knees as Stevens takes the opening and connects with a DDT onto the outside.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens really taking it to Godson right now and Godson is laid out on the outside as Stevens is recovering from the assault he just dished out on Godson. Meanwhile, Boettcher is continuing his count.
Stevens rolls back into the ring forcing Boettcher to restart his count on Godson.
Joe Hoffman: Godson looks really out of it right now as he is looking around and trying to figure out where he is at exactly. He will need to get up and back in the ring if he doesn’t want to be counted out.
Joe Hoffman: STRONK starting to show some signs of life here as he’s made his way up to his knees, but he looks like he’s taken some damage from Stevens on the outside of the ring!
Joe Hoffman: Godson starting to use the ringside barrier here to get back to his feet, but he needs to get his head on straight and fast!
Joe Hoffman: Not looking good for Godson here as Boettcher is almost finished with his count and Stevens looks like he’s about to get a victory here.
As Boettcher gets to nine, Godson rushes into the ring. Stevens is waiting for him as he begins to stomp away at Godson and Godson eats every single one of them until he grabs Stevens foot and pushes away, causing Scott to fall onto the mat. STRONK fights to his feet and catches Stevens with a headbutt that drops Stevens to one knee. Godson then runs off the ropes and connects with a running knee to the face, sending both men crashing to the mat.
Joe Hoffman: And a knee strike of his own there from STRONK. Godson knew he needed to turn the tide of this match or it would be over for him and managed to do just that! STRONK now needs to capitalize while the iron is hot while Stevens needs a chance to clear the cobwebs in his head.
Both men are slow to their feet with STRONK making it up to his feet first and he hoists Stevens up to his feet. Stevens drives his shoulder into the face of STRONK and then goes for a Diamond Cutter only for STRONK to push him off of him. Stevens lands on the mat and as he makes his way back up to his feet, STRONK grabs him and connects with the Squat Rack Breaker! Stevens collides hard with the ground as Boettcher checks on him.
Joe Hoffman: Stevens tried to get the Toxic Sting on STRONK, but Godson was having none of it and tossed Stevens off of him. Then Godson just put Stevens down on the mat with the Squat Rack Breaker and this match might be just about over if Godson can put his finishing move on him.
STRONK then walks over and puts Stevens into a grounded rear bearhug.
Joe Hoffman: Body Dysmorphia! This might be the end of Stevens!
Stevens struggles mightily to break out of the hold until he has no choice, but to tap out.
DING DING DING
Joe Hoffman: And it’s all over! Godson with the victory!
Bryan McVay: Your winner, at the fourteen minute and thirty second mark, STRONK! GODSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!
Godson eventually releases the hold on Stevens as Boettcher orders him to do so repeatedly. Godson then makes his way up to his feet and looks at Boettcher before raising both of his arms in the air.
Joe Hoffman: A great back and forth match here between both men with Godson managing to pull it out in the end. This is the start that STRONK wanted while not the start that Stevens was hoping for as both men are looking towards War Games.
Leave it to Stever
Post match the lights in the arena dim as the HOV lights up as the words “Leave it to Stever” appear on the screen. The God-awful 1950’s television theme music plays throughout the arena as the crowd erupts in a chorus of boos. The letters quickly fade, and the scene on the HOV transitions to Steven Solex seated behind an old wooden desk. Steven is outfitted in his a “#1 Dad” ballcap, and a freshly ironed plain white t-shirt. Steven sits leaned over the desk, propping himself up with his elbows. As the music fades, Steven relaxes his posture and sits back into the 97red-leather chair. Steven kicks his feet up onto the desk, showing off his tan cargo shorts and his white New Balance shoes. A burlap sack to his left is filled to the top with hundreds, maybe thousands, of white envelopes.
Steven Solex: Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, back to Leave it to Stever!
The piped in crowd applause is barely able to drown out the live audience’s boo’s.
Suddenly, the screech of an eagle obliterates the ear drums of the fans in attendance as a bald-eagle swoops into view and perches itself on Solex’s right shoulder. Solex looks up at the eagle, looks back at the camera, and winks to a perfectly timed ding. Solex reaches under the desk and out a bird perch. He places it on the desk and the eagle hops from Solex’s shoulder and perches itself on the cylinder of wood. Solex pets the bald eagle’s head, and it oddly leans into the gesture like a dog would. Solex laughs to himself as the crowd in attendance continues to boo.
Steven Solex: Let’s not waste any time at all and let’s get right to it, let’s see what we have here today in Steven’s Sack!
Steven reaches into the burlap sack, pauses, looks into the camera and winks to a perfectly timed and piped in ding as the live audience continues to boo’s wildly.
Steven Solex: Our first question comes from Jack in South Dakota. Jack asks, “Hello Steven! My kids are developing a complex. Both of them continue to fight over who they think my wife and I’s favorite kid is. We always tell them that we love them equally, but they never believe us and continue to press for an answer. What should I do?”
The crowd continues to boo as Solex tosses the envelope over his shoulder to a perfectly timed sound of glass shattering, like this is a fuckin’ late night talk show from the nineties and this is the headlines.
Steven Solex: Well, Jack…it’s pretty simple. Just tell them that your favorite kid is the neighbor’s son, Jimmy…or whatever your neighbor kids name is. The fact is, Jack, your kids sound weak and mentally soft. So, there really is no way that either of them are your favorite and there’s no point in lying to them. Jimmy is probably more athletic and smarter than either of your two anyway, so just tell them the truth, Jack! And if that fails, ask them…”If your dad Jack was stuck on a roof, would you…”
The piped in crowd laughter attempts to drown out the live audience’s boos, but the raucous boos from the audience are too loud.
Steven Solex: Ya’ know what, let’s just stop right there.
Solex reaches into the bag and pulls out an envelope that has an American flag painted on it. Solex smiles at the site of Old Glory, and tears into the envelope. He quickly reads the letter to himself, and immediately clenches his jaw. The hard breathing through his nose and redness of his face clearly illustrate the fact that he is seething. With his jaw clenched, he reads the letter aloud.
Steven Solex: This one is from Hugh in Upstate, New York. Hugh asks, “Now that we’ve seen the return of Christopher America, is there any chance that you two Patriots could team up in the future?”
Solex stares into the camera and rips the letter in half. He doesn’t toss it behind him. He doesn’t playcade to the piped in audience. He’s pissed.
Steven Solex: Fuck that guy.
Solex continues to stare into the camera, his face trembling…but his mustache remains steady.
Solex’s bald eagle gives out a small screech, and quickly Solex snaps out of it. He shakes it off and reaches into the bag for another envelope.
Steven Solex: This one is from Chris – oh the irony – from South Florida. Chris asks, “Hey Steven. My kids are always embarrassed when we run into someone that they know when we are out in public. They always think that I’m going to embarrass them. What can I do to make them think otherwise. Thanks Steven!”
Solex snickers to himself as the crowd in attendance continues their chorus of boos.
Steven Solex: You’ve got to be witty, Chris. That will change how your kids look at you. Anytime you see anyone you, or your kids, know in public you should say “Guess they’ll let anyone in here!” And if you happen to see that person a second time in the same day, you can say “Long time no see!” This is a sure-fire way to get your kids to laugh and love being in public with you. Also, when there is a distance between you and said people…finger guns is always the answer. Kids love that!
The piped in crowd laugh and applause still struggle to be louder than the live audience as Solex claps his hands together and leans forward into the desk.
Steven Solex: Well folks, that’s all the time we have this week!
Solex tosses the final letter behind himself.
Piped in Crowd: See you soon!
More boos from the crowd in attendance drown out the laughter from the piped in crowd.
Steven Solex: Not if I see you first!
The bald eagle once again screeches loud enough for the deaf guy in the back to hear it as the piped in crowd laugh and applaud. This time the volume has clearly been turned way up, drowning out the jeers in the area as the scene fades.
You're Fucking Welcome
Following ‘Leave it to Stever’ we cut backstage to Blaire Moise.
Blaire Moise: With me right now is one half of the new HOW Tag Team champions…Adam Ellis.
Adam steps into the shot. He has the tag team title belt over his shoulder.
Adam Ellis: Um… if I may… uh… give a shout out to a couple of my friends from back home.
Adam proudly holds up the title belt.
Adam Ellis: Mike… A.J…. Charlie… not bad… not bad at all. I’ll be seeing you soon.
Blaire Moise: Okay Adam. First off, congratulations on you and John Sektor winning the tag team titles at March to Glory.
Ellis responds with a shy grin and nods.
Adam Ellis: Thank you Ms. Moise.
Blaire Moise: Seeing as one year ago, you were still making sporadic appearances on Missouri Valley Wrestling television, how does it feel to be standing here tonight as a HOW champion?
Adam Ellis: How does it feel? Look, I know I still have a lot to learn and I have to keep working to get better. But I wrestled at the Best Arena in the main event of a main event teaming up with arguably the best wrestler in HOW- John Sektor. And we did it. We beat a great wrestler, a great champion in Conor Fuse and another great wrestler in David Noble to win this. Hell yeah, it feels great Ms. Moise to be called a champion in HOW. It feels real good.
Blaire Moise: You mentioned John Sektor. After everything that’s happened the past couple of weeks revolving around Victoria McGill, how is your relationship with John?
Adam Ellis: We’re fine.
Blaire doesn’t quite believe him.
Blaire Moise: You’re fine?
Adam Ellis: Yes, Ms. Moise. John and I are fine. He apologized for what happened. I’ve accepted his apology. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over and done with and we’re moving forward from here. I may be just twenty-one years old but this isn’t high school anymore. I’m a professional wrestler in a major professional wrestling company and I’ve got a job to do. John Sektor’s been a great mentor and teacher to me the past few months. Joe Bergman built the foundation but John’s taken what Joe started and turned me into who I am as a pro wrestler right now. I wouldn’t be here right now talking to you and holding this belt if it weren’t for John Sektor.
Blaire Moise: And what about Victoria McGill? You and her had a lengthy conversation this past Monday in the parking lot of a restaurant.
Adam Ellis: Well, I’d like to keep private the conversation I had with Tori. But we’re friends. Tori’s got a lot of outside stuff going on with her right now and as I’ve said repeatedly, my sole focus is on my wrestling career so maybe this was for the best anyways. Both of us are trying to establish ourselves as pro wrestlers in the industry… me here in HOW and Tori at MVW… and maybe this became more of a distraction than both of us thought it would become. Tori’s a great person. She’s a great wrestler. I think she’s going to do big things in the pro wrestling industry. But for us… this is probably the best way to go.
Blaire Moise: All right. One last question Adam-
Male Voice: BLAIRE!
Both Blaire and Adam’s head turn as a very familiar face walks up and joins the shot…
Blaire Moise: ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman?
Indeed, it’s the former two-time HOW world champion and former tag team champion. Joe goes up to Adam and gives him a hug.
Joe Bergman: Congratulations kid! You deserve it.
Adam Ellis: Thanks Joe. I couldn’t have done this without your help either.
Blaire Moise: Joe, a quick question.
Bergman turns to the intrepid HOW backstage interviewer.
Joe Bergman: It’s good to see you too Blaire.
Blaire Moise: Thanks Joe. Glad to see you’re back.
Joe Bergman: I’m back?
Joe plays coy with Blaire.
Joe Bergman: Maybe I’m just here visiting Adam Ellis.
And Blaire’s not having it.
Blaire Moise: You were also at the same restaurant where Adam and Tori had their talk on Monday having a talk with Steve Solex. Is PBR getting back together?
Female Voice: HOLD ON! WAIT JUST ONE MINUTE!
Blaire’s head snaps around. She does not like what she sees.
Blaire Moise: Oh shit…
Sunny O’Callahan- complete with dark sunglasses, a red and green queen’s crown with green cape, black bustier and pants- strolls into the frame.
Sunny O’Callahan: That’s right bitches. I’m back.
Incredulously, Blaire looks at Joe.
Blaire Moise: She’s going to be your manager?
Joe Bergman: If I were coming back? Maybe.
Sunny O’Callahan: Now Blaire-e-poo, I could have stayed down at MVW and been the big fish slumming it out in a small pond.
Blaire Moise: I thought Ultratron-6.1 kicked you out of the Kabal of Really Awful People.
Sunny rips the microphone out of her hand.
Sunny O’Callahan: But that’s not where the ‘BEST FUCKING MANAGER EVER’ belongs is it? The ‘GREATEST FUCKING MIND IN PRO WRESTLING’ shouldn’t be working at a company that bills itself “Bringing Minor League Wrestling to the American Heartland.’ Hell no. Where I- Sunny O’Callahan- the best manager ever- the greatest wrestling mind in history…
Blaire rolls her eyes.
Adam’s captivated by the blonde.
Joe’s just going with it.
Sunny O’Callahan: …belongs is in the big leagues at the top of the pro wrestling chain. High Octane Wrestling. That’s where THE ONE TRUE QUEEN OF PRO WRESTLING should be. That’s where… JOE BERGMAN should be. So to Blaire Moise and ALL of my fans out there, I’ve got just TWO WORDS for you.
Sunny O’Callahan: YOU’RE FUCKING WELCOME!
Sunny leaves. Adam’s head watches her as she glides off down the hall.
Blaire counts three words on her fingers, not two.
Joe shakes Adam’s hand and he follows Sunny.
Blaire turns to the camera and shakes her head. She mouths ‘commercial break’ as we fade out for our first scheduled commercial break of the evening.
Back live from our first commercial break…
OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH, BEG MOTHER FUCKER, BEG!!!!
Seether’s “Beg” hits as the boos rain down from the crowd as we see both The Hardcore Artist and The Queen B make their way out onto the stage. The two are soaking in the boos with huge smiles on their faces as they embrace in a hug which gets even more boos from the crowd.
Joe Hoffman: These two pulled a huge one over on the HOW fans… on HOW staff as they screwed us all over in their sham of a match.
The two make their way down to the ring, ignoring the fans slinging profanities.
Scottywood: So many questions… and so many people so fucking butt hurt. Butt hurt that things didn’t go as you all expected. Butt hurt that neither me nor Carey lost an eye. Butt hurt that we fucking fooled every single one of you.
Bobbinette: I told you all that this was going to end with us hugging it out. I made the declarative statement, it was going to happen and you didn’t believe me.
Bobbinette has a smirk on her face as she has an arrogant look on her face.
Scottywood: I hear everyone bitching about how it looks… let me make this fucking clear… I don’t give a flying fuck. I have never gave a fuck… and I’m not gonna start now.
Bobbinette: I told you that you would forgive me and get over it Scoo…
Scottywood raises a hand and cuts her off and interrupting her.
Scottywood: Let me also make something clear… Bobbinette… I am never gonna forgive you for what you did. But I realized that taking your eye wasn’t gonna change a damn thing. What you did make me realize over the past few weeks, is that your life is already super fucking shitty… Carey… you don’t need to lose an eye too.
Bobbinette’s smile fades as she looks at him and no longer seems as joking as she just was. Scottywood shrugs his shoulders
Bobbinette: Wow… seriously scooter?
Her face is in shock by the comments as she looks at him less than pleased waiting for him to continue.
Scottywood: Hey, be happy your life fucking sucks… otherwise you’d be eyeless right now. Everyone thinks The Hardcore Artist got soft. Well maybe fifteen years of friendship bought you a few ounces of fucking sympathy. You’ve certainly been the closest ally I’ve had in HOW over all these years. Which honestly isn’t saying much with this cliquey group of shitbags. But let’s all still remember that I still took a fuckers eye at March to Glory!
Scotty reaches into the pocket of his jeans and pulls out Marc’s eyeball that he plucked from his skull at March to Glory and tosses it down on the mat. It takes a slight bounce before it comes to a sickening stop on the ring mat. Scotty just stares out at the crowd with a cold, heartless look on his face.
Scottywood: So yes, I may have reached out before the match and offered an olive branch to Carey. We may have buried our dirt in a way friends should. But neither of us were passing up a Pay Per View payday… so the show must go on. We agreed if things got to a third fall… well you all saw how the match ended.
The boos continue to come from the crowd as Scotty just smiles and shakes his head.
Scottywood: Yeah, you all paid me and Carey to watch that match. You wasted a good twenty minutes of your life watching. All thinking that someone would lose an eye… and like the fucking idiots you all are… you believe it. There are much more important things on the horizon than getting revenge for something I can’t change.
Bobbinette: Like War Games.
Scottywood: War Games. Now we all know how much Carey wants to win that match again. I’m sure you have all heard about her politicking behind the scenes for months now.
Bobbinette: Hey, easy on the P word. Those people have a history of being Uber douchebags.
Scottywood: Those people? You mean white men? I thought we were gonna try and tame that shit down.
He says raising an eyebrow.
Bobbinette: For once, no, cause trust me, the white chicks are way crazier.
Scottywood: Fair point. But the fact is that if Carey or myself stand a chance of even being on a War Games team… let alone winning it… we need to work together. I mean we are the only real team there is in HOW… let alone the tag team division. The main event for March to Glory was two fucking thrown together teams. Fuse and Nobel… and then John Sektor and… who the fuck is Adam Ellis anyhow?
Bobbinette: Sektor dug Ellis out of MVW… seriously do I need to say more?
Scottywood: Ah, HOW’s spare parts bin, gotcha.
Bobbinette: Hey Scooter, now go easy on Fuse, I know you two had issues years ago, but wouldn’t the World champion be an epic addition to our team?
Scottywood: The kid has certainly proven his worth here in HOW. So yes… yes he would. But it is War Games season… and if there is one thing I have learned in HOW… it is that nothing ever goes to plan. But that certainly isn’t gonna stop us from trying. Trying to win the HOW Tag Team Titles… with a real team. Because we all know if me and Carey teamed up in that fucking awfully named tournament, we would have fucking ran it!
Bobbinette: And trying to win War Games… again! Since apparently all of you seem to have forgotten exactly what happened in 2008.
She tilts her head to the side and glares at the camera.
Scottywood: That I debuted in War Games and nearly took the LSD Title from a cheating Kostoff?
He chimes in
Bobbinette: No! I mean you did.. but I’m not talking about that. Im referring to the fact That Shane Reynolds and I BOTH survived War Games and I became the HOW World Campion because of my leadership abilities.
She says with a smile as they start chanting “Fuck you Carey.” Clap – clap – clap clap – clap. “Fuck you Carey.”
Scottywood: Well, let War Games season begin… I hope you all have the stomach for what is to come.
Scotty smiles as he steps forward and crushes Marc’s eyeball that is still on the mat. Carey cringes watching it squish.
Scottywood: Oh… and since we ended March to Glory with a hug… let’s start War Games… with a beer.
The ringside crew member hands Scotty two cans of Revolution’s Anti-Hero IPA, which he passes one off to Carey. She looks hesitant for a moment before accepting the beer. They crack them open before cheering and taking a drink. Scotty then goes to kick Bobbinette in the gut.
Joe Hoffman: Scotty just….
But he stops just short of kicking her as the two start laughing and have another drink as more boos come from the crowd and we cut away to somewhere backstage.
It's On Me
The camera cuts to a backstage hallway, one occupied by Eli Dresden. To say the blond looks a little rough around the edges is an understatement, but in all honesty? It’s not really a surprise. For a long moment, she looks at the camera dead-on in silence… but ultimately, she shakes her head.
Eli Dresden: Fuck it, we’re doin’ it live.
A deep breath.
Eli Dresden: I had this whole rant planned out, y’know? About how Bobinette Carey’s doin’ everything she can to be the cis white hetero man she rips on damn near every time she opens her mouth, about how Brian Hollywood only became a halfway decent partner after realizin’ that his dumb ass couldn’t actually do it alone after all… how those two hockey bros who were attached to Scottywood were fuckin’ lucky they were never across the ring from me because win or lose, I woulda’ made them the follow-up act to Deepthroat Davidson, but what good would bitchin’ about any of it do? I can’t blame any of them for how, once again, I didn’t merit a spot on a HOW pay-per-view.
Eli shakes her head.
Eli Dresden: Ever since I came here, as a matter of fact… I’ve never rated a booking on a HOW pay-per-view. Closest I came was with ol’ Sugartits, come to think of it. After that was when Cancer Jiles decided to take my place at Rumble at the Rock, though at least I made sure he paid for it after the fact. But no matter how many people ignore my boundaries, how many people refuse to take no for an answer or how often they take me for granted until I decide that I’m done carryin’ their ass to victory? It’s on me that I haven’t had the success that I want. I…
Trailing off, she takes another deep breath before she forces herself to rip the proverbial band-aid off.
Eli Dresden: …I have to change, cuz it ain’t no one’s fault but mine. And as much as that hurt to admit, it’s nothing compared to how much I’m gonna hurt anyone that’s put in my way.
A pause; the blond smirks, though it doesn’t come close to reaching her eyes. How can it?
Eli Dresden: None of you can say I didn’t warn you.
The camera cuts to ringside.
Chris Kostoff vs. Darkwing
“Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace begins to play throughout the arena.
Brain McVay: Introducing first!
The crowd jumps to their feet as Darkwing makes his way out to the entrance ramp.
Brian McVay: From Inglewood, California. He stands six-feet-three inches tall and weighs in at two-hundred-forty-nine pounds! He is an HOW Hall of Famer! DAAAAAAAARRKKKKKKWINNNNGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
Darkwing makes his way down the ramp and slides under the bottom rope. Almost immediately “Wolf Totem” by The Hu begins to play, to another pop from the audience.
Brian McVay: And his opponent!
Kostoff immediately makes his entrance and storms down the ramp with a menacing look on his face.
Brian McVay: This man hails from Tampa Florida. He weighed in at two-hundred-eighty-five pounds and stands a towering six-feet-five inches. He is an HOW Hall of Famer! This is KKKKKKOOOOOSSSSSTTTTTOOFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!
Kostoff slides under the bottom rope and finds himself a corner. Brian McVay hurries out of the ring as the two HOW Hall of Famers stare one another down from their respective corners as referee Joel Hortega calls for the bell.
DING! DING! DING!
Joe Hoffman: These two Hall of Famers are ready to go!
The two men clash in the center of the ring with an elbow collar tie up. Kostoff forces backward into the corner.
The referee begins his count of five as Kostoff pushes upward on Darkwing’s chin, forcing his head back.
Joe Hoffman: Oh! Kostoff releases just before the count of five and absolutely caves in Darkwing’s chest with a clubbing forearm!
Darkwing goes down to a knee as Kostoff backs up to the center of the ring. He calls for Darkwing to come after him.
Kostoff: Let’s go you son of a bitch!
Darkwing grimaces in pain, but digs deep and charges in.
Joe Hoffman: Spear from Darkwing! NO! Kostoff gets out of the way!
Darkwing blows right past Kostoff and goes through the middle turnbuckle and shoulder first into the ring post.
Joe Hoffman: The ring must have moved two feet!
The crowd cheers wildly as Darkwing is pulled from the corner. Kostoff turns Darkwing around and with a stiff kick right in the abdomen, Darkwing is doubled over.
Joe Hoffman: NO REMORSE!!!!
Kostoff flattens Darkwing in the center of the ring and makes the cover. He doesn’t hook a leg, and just leans over top of Darkwing.
Joe Hoffman: Joel Hortega makes the count!
Darkwing doesn’t even attempt to kick out, and looks like he may be seriously injured.
Joe Hoffman: Oh my! A quick and devastating win from Kostoff here tonight!
The crowd cheers on Kostoff as he jumps to his feet and lets out a primal scream that silences the audience. Kostoff drops down to a knee, and grabs Darkwing by his bald head. He helps his long time friend to his feet. Darkwing is still wobbled and is in obvious pain as he tries to rotate his shoulder and neck.
Joe Hoffman: OH!!! Kostoff just blasted Darkwing right in the face with an unbelievable forearm!
The crowd lets out a collective gasp as Darkwing stumbles backward and falls through the ropes to the outside. Kostoff is quick to follow, as Darkwing lays motionless on the outside.
Joe Hoffman: What is Kostoff doing!?
The crowd has gone silent as Kostoff removes the padding from the outside floor, exposing the concrete below.
Joe Hoffman: Kostoff, no! Not on the exposed concre…
Joe Hoffman: NO REMORSE!!!!!! ON THE EXPOSED CONCRETE!!!!
The crowd remains silent as Kostoff slams Darkwing into the floor with his signature powerbomb that results in Darkwing’s head and neck slamming into the concrete floor. The crowd gasps as the air is completely sucked out of the arena.
Joe Hoffman: Get some help out here, Darkwing is seriously hurt!
“Wolf Totem” by The Hu begins to play throughout the arena as the crowd begins to boo Kostoff. Kostoff stands over Darkwing, pointing a finger and yelling something that can’t be heard over the crowd’s boos.
Joe Hoffman: Medics are on their way down the ramp with a stretcher. This doesn’t look good for Darkwing, folks.
The medics scramble to get to Darkwing, but Kostoff standing over top of the member of the Dark Order is enough to keep them at bay momentarily. Kostoff lets out another primal scream before he steps away from Darkwing, allowing the medics to do their job…and immediately they place on a neck brace on the fallen Hall of Famer.
Joe Hoffman: The medics have placed Darkwing in a neck brace, and have stabilized him on the stretcher. An unbelievably violent attack from Kostoff after a match in which Darkwing was already destroyed, is definitely going to result in some injury time for Darkwing.
The medics run the stretcher up the ramp and right past Kostoff, who stands alone at the top of the entrance ramp. The music fades as Kostoff stands alone, staring at the crowd.
Joe Hoffman: I hope he’s proud of the work he’s done here tonight. Darkwing is going to pay the price for Kostoff’s inability to control his behavior.
Kostoff throws his fists in the air as his music picks back up and the crowd lets out all their frustrations toward the HOW mainstay and Hall of Famer.
Suplexes Are Coming
Brian Bare is seen walking with the camera crew as quickly as they can. He looks down at his watch and then turns a corner. He stops and in front of him is a locker room with the door wide open. Inside it looks like something exploded as bottles and trash are on the ground and it smells like a Grateful Dead concert. Suddenly like a bullet from a gun Steve Harrison comes sprinting out of the door. His eyes are bulging out and shifting all over the place as he looks around and then down at Brian.
Steve Harrison: LONG TIME NO SEE, BRIAN!
Brian takes a few steps back surprised by Steve’s outburst.
Brian Bare: It sure has, Steve, you have been surprisingly quiet since you came back from your injury.
Harrison nods wildly and rubs his hands together.
Steve Harrison: YOU KNOW BRIAN, WHEN THE VULTURE BITES DOWN IT MEANS YOUR LIFE IS OVER!
Brian looks around confused.
Brian Bare: Um…ok? You seem excited, Steve.
Steve Harrison: AM I BEING LOUD, BRIAN? I CANNOT TELL ANYMORE THE BEES ARE BUZZING AND THE SUPLEXES ARE A COMING!
Brian holds his hands over his ears and then sees inside the locker room again as the doctor who has been raveling with Steve cleans up what it looks like a syringe.
Brian Bare: I guess nothing is completely perfect, huh?
Steve turns around and sees what Brian has seen and then looks back at him a smirk on his face now. He takes a deep breath and nods.
Steve Harrison: It sometimes takes a few minutes to control the energy, Brian.
Brian Bare: Oh, ok well we can move on for now, right? I have gotten word that Steve Solex met up with you after March to Glory, do you have any comment on that before your big match with Brian Hollywood?
The Miracle Man takes another deep breath and stretches his arms up to the sky.
Steve Harrison: Steve Solex is a man’s man and yes, he gave me some money with more than enough interest on top of it. As for my match in just a few minutes I am not even sure Hollywood is going to make me sweat. I saw his promo and he appears to have already given up against the greatness that is ME. You know what is next, Hollywood? Steve Harrison hitting IT’S A HARRICLE and you losing again.
Harrison takes another deep breath and rubs is temples.
Brian Bare: Will you be keeping an eye on the Main Event tonight?
Steve Harrison: I still have two.
Brain laughs uncomfortably.
Brian Bare: Well, of course but seeing it is Clay Byrd against Conor Fuse for the Title I would think you would have a lot of interest in it.
Steve Harrison: I have no idea what you could possibly mean, Brian.
Brian Bare: I mean…Clay owed you money and Conor in your opinion owes you money for using Noble Gaming as his tag team name.
Harrison puts his hand up with a chuckle.
Steve Harrison: Didn’t you know that Steve Harrison lets bygones be bygones. I hope the best man wins and not a BEST man.
Harrison starts walking away towards the entrance as his match is about to happen.
Brian Bare: What about war games?
Harrison keeps walking and peers backwards.
Steve Harrison: I am going to beat Hollywood so badly right now that I knock the grey from his hair and then maybe I will think about War Games.
Harrison disappears around a corner towards the ring as we cut too commercial.
Brian Hollywood vs. Steve Harrison
We transition back from commercial break, and after a few moments “Take the Money and Run” by The Steve Miller Man begins to play. The curtain flies open and The Miracle Man, Steve Harrison, walks out with his arms in the air.
Bryan McVay: The following match is scheduled for one fall! On his way to the ring first, from Fairfax, Virginia, weighing 245lbs… STEVE HARRISON!
Joe Hoffman: Well, Harrison looks to be in a miserable mood tonight. I know he’s been very vocal as of late about not making it to March To Glory and a singles championship eluding him in HOW, but it feels like Steve Harrison is going through some sort of… change? I dunno, folks. This should be interesting.
Where a smirk would usually be pasted, a scowl has been placed in its stead. He walks toward the ring and instead of waving at the indifferent crowd, he simply rolls into the ring, ignoring Matt Boettcher and waits for his opponent.
“Stronger on your Own” by Disturbed blares over the Best Arena speakers. Hollywood slowly walks from the back and takes center stage. He stands there for a few brief moments, then closes his eyes. He reigns in the boos from the crowd as he gets in final mental preparation for his upcoming match. Once Hollywood opens up his eyes, his usual pyro shoots off in opposite corners of the stage until it makes its way to the center stage area.
Bryan McVay: On his way out next, from Los Angeles, California… weighing in at 245lbs… BRIAN HOLLYWOOD!
Joe Hoffman: Gotta love it when two hated men by the HOW faithful face each other!
Hollywood makes his final push as he charges the ring, rolling under the ropes. He gets back to his feet and looks about the entire arena glaring at the fans before he takes his place in the corner turnbuckle before turning his gaze intently in the ring as he awaits for the bell.
DING! DING! DING!
Joe Hoffman: And here we go! There is absolutely no love lost between these two!
Harrison and Hollywood lock-up, but the bigger Harrison shoots behind him with a go-behind. Lifting him up, Harrison holds Hollywood for a few seconds before slamming him backwards with a German suplex! The crowd “ooooh’s” from the impactful nature of the landing.
He has a bridge!
Joe Hoffman: Holy… does he have him already?!
Hollywood gets a shoulder up at the last possible second, as the crowd moans with astonishment over what almost was a record-setting victory for Steve Harrison.
Undeterred to put the former HOW World Champion away as quickly as possible, Harrison sits him up and runs straight into the ropes…
Harrison’s knee smashing against the back of Hollywood’s head echoes throughout the Best Arena as he connects flush to the back of his head with the knee trigger.
Joe Hoffman: Enlightenment! The Miracle Man really is looking to put Hollywood away in record-time!
Harrison rolls over the seemingly lifeless Hollywood and hooks a leg for a deep cover!
THR- Hollywood kicks out!
Joe Hoffman: You know, Harrison might’ve done what a lot of people might consider “whining” this week about being left off March To Glory, but he’s absolutely killing it here! Hollywood is staggered!
Feeling the momentum, The Miracle Man brings Brian Hollywood to his feet and sets him up for the Chicken Wing Suplex…
Joe Hoffman: It’s a HARRICLE!
… but Hollywood lands on his feet instead of being suplexed to the mat! Wasting no motion, Hollywood hops forward, and falls back with an inverted jackknife pin. Hollywood grabs onto Harrison’s wrists, pulls back, and arches his back over Harrison with an amazing looking European clutch!
Joe Hoffman: What a pin attempt! Does he have him here?!
Boettcher is right there for the count!
NO! Harrison kicks out right after two and the crowd is stunned by the beautiful technical move!
Joe Hoffman: If he’s watching back there, John Sektor, the Technical Master himself, has to be impressed with that one!
Frustrated that he couldn’t get the pin after enduring an onslaught from the Miracle Man, Brian Hollywood collects himself in the corner and waits for Harrison to get to his feet – which isn’t long as the man is now incensed.
Harrison runs at him but Hollywood is ready with the single-leg dropkick!
Joe Hoffman: Executive Decree… misses!!
Sure enough, Hollywood whiffs the finisher attempt and Harrison watches him soar ass first into the turnbuckles, folding himself in a heap and landing awkwardly on his head.
Steve Harrison: BRIAN HOLLYWOOD, EVERYONE!!
The crowd boos this man as he seeks to embarrass his opponent, watching him struggle to get up from the mat.
Joe Hoffman: There’s something different about Steve Harrison here. Something… nasty.
Once Hollywood is up off the mat, Harrison grabs hold of him in a bear hug then heaves him halfway across the ring with a vicious belly-to-belly overhead release suplex. As Harrison stands up, he looks out to the crowd once again, seething through gritted teeth.
Steve Harrison: BRIAN HOLLYWOOD, EVERYONE!!
As soon as he shouts this, Harrison runs over to Hollywood, spins him around, hooks him up in a chicken-wing then lifts him up into the air with a nasty suplex.
Joe Hoffman: It’s a HARRICLE! He nailed it! Hollywood is out, ladies and gents!
The former HOW World Champion appears to be out as Steve Harrison makes the cover.
Steve Harrison: STEVE…
Steve Harrison: …HARRISON…
Steve Harrison: …EVERYONE!
DING! DING! DING!
Joe Hoffman: Wow. What a dominant performance tonight from Steve Harrison. He looked like a different man tonight. Almost like a man possessed!
“Take the Money and Run” by The Steve Miller Man hits the speakers again as Boettcher goes to raise Steve Harrison’s arm. But Harrison pulls away nastily before rolling out of the ring. With a scowl on his face, Harrison heads to the back as miserable as we’ve ever seen him.
Opportunity Trumps Potential
As we cut away from the previous match, the HOV comes to life and a video begins to play…..
Best Arena Parking Lot.
Earlier This Week.
High Octane CEO Michael Lee Best is walking through the city of production trailers outside the arena, sporting Silicon Valley formal attire, jeans, and a blazer over a t-shirt. Best brings his hand up and adjusts a pair of sunglasses over his eyes before turning the corner into a larger empty space.
Set in the middle of the space is another trailer, larger than the others, with a set of metal temporary steps leading up to a door. Mike stands at the bottom of the steps, looking up at the door, and shrugs ever so slightly. He sighs and makes his way to the top, opening the door once he arrives.
He pulls his sunglasses off as he steps into the much darker trailer and squints as his eyes adjust. Looking straight ahead he sees 4th Wahl sitting there, but he doesn’t sit for long. At the sight of the Son, he hurriedly stands up out of respect. Mike looks at him, takes a quick glance around the room, and gestures to the door dividing this half of the trailer from the back section.
Mike Best: He in there?
4th Wahl stays still, but nods.
The CEO responds with a patronizing thumbs up and a very fake smile then drops the expression and turns toward the door. He opens it slowly, peeking inside, and sees the hallway to his right heading toward the back of the structure. He nods, making a sucking sound with his teeth as he heads past the first group of empty cells.
Best looks inside, taking note of each cell, then raises his eyebrows at the sound coming from straight ahead of him.
Perched on an old TV tray and pointed toward the last cell is an old picture tube television/VCR combo. Loud yelling can be heard, someone screaming about being born again and preparing for the return of Jesus, a torment for an audience of one. Mike moves forward, coming just to the point where he can see the prisoner in the last cell.
Sitting in the middle of the floor of the cell is former HoTV champion, Jeffrey James Roberts. He’s back in his orange prison-issue jumpsuit, sitting cross-legged with his back to the Son. From behind, Mike sees wounds across his nearly shaved head, untreated, with caked blood everywhere. His hands are bound behind his back, and he’s swaying back and forth nervously.
Mike watches this for a few seconds, then starts to look around the cell. Nothing left, nothing on the walls, nothing to write with, nothing to read, art supplies gone. All remembrance of any reward has been wiped from the room, leaving only the broken killer inside.
Best walks slowly toward the television, then looks back at Roberts as he turns the TV off, cutting the noise to silence.
Roberts’ ears perk up. He sits up straight and then turns his head just enough to peer over his shoulder. He leans forward and uses his momentum to rock to a kneeling position, then to a standing one, and turns around, glaring at Michael Lee Best with an intense curiosity, eyes lit up in awe.
Mike chuckles a bit, looking over this man who everyone has been so scared of. He holds a smirk on his face, but Roberts’ expression begins to make him feel a bit uncomfortable, so he breaks the silence.
Mike Best: You look like hell.
No response. Roberts just stares.
Mike Best: Just had to see it for myself.
The CEO crosses his arms in front of him, nodding softly as he takes in the sight of Jeffrey James Roberts in the flesh.
Mike Best: We never officially met. ICONIC 7:50 and all that. My dad thought enough of your potential that he risked everything to bring you here. The Undead Uncle doesn’t see that same potential. Question is… do I?
They hold a look in complete silence, and Mike Best looks to start speaking when Roberts speaks up.
Jeffrey James Roberts: You’re the Son.
The CEO nods with a brief smile, bemused. Roberts is still looking in his eyes, mesmerized.
Jeffrey James Roberts: You’re…. His…. Son.
Mike Best adjusts his blazer slightly.
Mike Best: Yes, I am. And I was wondering…
He steps a bit closer to the bars, never losing eye contact.
Mike Best: How deep is your commitment to my father?
Jeffrey James Roberts: It is…Limitless.
Absent-mindedly, Mike Best clasps his hands together and smirks, intrigued. He turns, his eyebrows furrowed in thought, and starts to pace a short distance left then back again.
Mike Best: So, Mr. Roberts… does that loyalty extend to the Son?
Roberts continues to look into the Son’s eyes, and he takes one step forward before falling into a kneeling position, his hands still bound behind his back.
Michael Lee Best smiles a sincere smile, satisfaction written on his face.
Mike Best: Good. That’s real good.
Mike Best: Dad saw your potential. Then he left you to rot in midcard Hell. I don’t see “potential” in you, Jeff. I see opportunity. If you’re tired of sitting in here all bloodied up and miserable, I have a business proposal for you…
With that the video ends and we cut elsewhere
WAR… is Inevitable
Back inside the arena and everything goes to black.
Little specks of light from various cell phones, lighters, and other such means of illumination break through the darkness like rays of light through a curtain.
Horrifying, methodic guitar riffs and hard-hitting, slow-tempo drums immediately hit the speakers inside the Best Arena.
The measured pace of the abrupt song is unsettling as the distorted sounds of what can only be described as demons screaming are heard.
“In Spirit In Spite” by Absent in Body jolts everyone in attendance from their seats to their feet. From their reveries and all around absentmindedness, a buzz throughout the arena is suddenly very palpable.
Unsure of whose theme this is as it is not familiar to anyone on the current roster, the flame from their burning curiosity only rises higher as the seconds pass.
Joe Hoffman: Okay. What in God’s name is this?! Or, more appropriately, who in God’s name is this?!
A #97Red spotlight shines down revealing Arthur Pleasant.
On his knees inside a circle of light that is eerily similar to the glow of a blood moon, his back is turned towards the capacity crowd and his hands are outstretched. The High Octanians absolutely fucking shower him with boos the moment they realize who it is.
The entire arena comes to life in a crimson light and Arthur Pleasant rises to his feet.
Turning around slowly without moving his legs, this haunting image tattoos itself on the eyes of every watching fan in attendance. Clearly standing on some slowly rotating mechanism set up on the stage, he holds the LSD Championship across his left shoulder. Proudly.
Joe Hoffman: Welp, here comes the brand new LSD Champion. To be honest with you, I’m not quite sure what to make of this… entrance.
Smoke billows out from the sides of the ramp way, also radiating in red.
Pleasant marches forward as the harrowing song sludges onward.
Wearing a plain black t-shirt that reads, “LSD is my drug.”, Pleasant slowly makes his way down the ramp, with the redness continuing to engulf the entire arena.
Joe Hoffman: I feel like I’m stuck inside a Virtual Boy.
Pleasant stops to look at a few fans mouthing off at him. He simply smiles, knowing there’s not a damn thing they can do to him. Continuing on towards the ring, Pleasant slithers underneath the bottom rope and into the ring.
Joe Hoffman: New champion, new theme song, new t-shirt, new weird entrance… new… Arthur Pleasant?!
Pleasant slowly saunters around the ring as the song slowly fades.
The red light, however, does not.
Wearing an earpiece, he flips a switch on the device and turns it on. We can immediately hear his breathy facial expressions.
Arthur Pleasant: I told you so.
The crowd boos Pleasant as mercilessly one can be booed.
Arthur Pleasant: None of you wanted to believe. “Not the quitter!”, you said. “There’s no way this guy will defeat one of the toughest and greatest Hall of Famers to ever walk High Octane Wrestling’s hallowed halls!” you shouted without an ounce of conviction in your voices. “John Sektor will tap Arthur out like the bitch that he is!”, you blindly repeated to each other like the braying, insignificant, braindead little sheep you all are.
The booing intensifies as they realize the red light is not going away any time soon.
Arthur Pleasant: Well… I did. I told you I would. I told you I could. And I absolutely fucking did. I submitted your sheepherder and now this ghost of a division can be resurrected into what it once was. A beautiful monster capable of unimaginable violence and stomach-churning decay. Your welcome.
Chants of “Sek-Tor! Sek-Tor! Sek-Tor!” are quite audible.
Joe Hoffman: This man is an absolute liar! He did not make John Sektor submit! The match was called by the official!
Smiling up at Joe, almost as if Pleasant could hear him try to correct his statement, he continues.
Arthur Pleasant: I have traveled the world spreading my brand of violence to every nation, state, and city that I possibly can… and now that I have your attention? Now that I have the LSD Championship in my rightful possession? It’s time for it to spread here. Like a great plague, manifesting a malignance wherever it goes. Those of you in the back who doubt me? Who mock me? Who no-sell and sandbag my very existence with your every word? Those of you out there who pretend that I’m not the man of my word that I’ve proven myself to be? I want you to think long and hard about your actions. About your… goals. Because your goals will have serious consequences should you decide to try and achieve them at my expense.
Pausing for dramatic effect, he looks around at all of the audience members. Nodding his head, as if he got the reaction he so desired, he continues.
Arthur Pleasant: We’re at the precipice of WAR, people.
He holds a hand up to try and quell some of the marks who know precisely what he’s talking about.
Arthur Pleasant: After being here for a cup of coffee, leaving you all high and dry, and coming back for another delicious cup… I am a Champion. I am something that men and women, who have been loyal to H-O-W year after year after fucking year, have never had the fortitude or inner-strength to actually be. I am the source of all your contention, jealousy, and frustration. I am the catalyst for bitterness from the empty-headed, gutless hangers-on who lumber along week to week like mindless zombies looking for that delicious win to slake their lust. Looking for that opportunity to waste yet again in the hopes that everyone will forget the following week. Like penniless junkies willing to suck and fuck anyone or anything that moves to get their next pathetic fix.
The LSD Champion takes his championship into his hands and looks into the beautiful golden faceplate. Softly caressing it, he smiles.
Arthur Pleasant: I know, I know. My words are harsh. Boo hoo, McKenna Blue. The truth stings like a motherfucker and all the perennial losers backstage will learn to accept it.
He points to the backstage area amidst the red hue of the atmosphere.
Arthur Pleasant: WAR is looming. WAR is coming. WAR… is inevitable.
The Provocateur slings the LSD Championship over his shoulder again.
Arthur Pleasant: I already told you what the three rules are. John didn’t follow them in battle with me and look what it got him. A bayonet straight through the fucking heart.
He holds up the LSD Championship for all to see as it glistens like a ruby in the red incandescence.
Arthur Pleasant: The same result will happen when he fails in preventing me from becoming a Dual Champion. Because you best believe Jeffrey and I will cash-in our well deserved opportunity at the Tag Team Titles and walk away with even more gold. This is not a threat. This is scientific fucking certainty.
Looking into the camera, he rubs some stubble on his face.
Arthur Pleasant: But I digress. Soon, everyone will be looking to Jeffrey and myself to implement those rules of WAR once again. Only this time? It’ll be behind an unforgiving, cold, steel structure.
The audience starts to clamor as a chant of “WAR GAMES! WAR GAMES! WAR GAMES!” overwhelms the arena like a gunshot into an echochamber.
Arthur Pleasant: I assure you, there are no games afoot when I wage war in that ring.
2021 saw me take the lobe of an ear from a Hall of Famer.
2022? The Plague of High Octane Wrestling scrapes the rot off of the fucking bone.
He shrugs nonchalantly. Almost as if
Arthur Pleasant: Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Pleasant flips the off switch on his microphone earpiece as the red fades away into normal lighting. The terrifying “In Spirit In Spite” plays again as Pleasant steps through the ropes, ignoring every word being thrown at him by every little sheep looking to get their fifteen minutes.
Joe Hoffman: Well, I’m not really sure what to make of that, folks. Besides my eyes hurting from the awful red lighting, what I got from that is that it’s obvious he’s sending a warning shot to John Sektor that he’s coming to take away another title. Also, it’s even more than obvious that Arthur Pleasant is throwing his hat into the mix for War Games. If he manages to hold onto that LSD Championship in between now and then? We just might see that become a reality for the second year in a row.
Pleasant calmly walks up the ramp and stops at the stage area. He lifts the LSD Championship up high, eliciting a strong negative reaction from everyone watching.
Fade to commercial break.
As we come back from commercial and we shift to elsewhere in the arena, where we see a door open up and out walks The Hardcore Artist himself with a devilish grin on his face. As the camera follows Scotty we see he is suddenly stopped by Bobbinette Carey.
Bobbinette Carey: What’s up with that Scooter?
Bobbinette Carey: Doesn’t look like nothing to me.
Scottywood: Had a few beers with a friend. We’ll talk about it later.
Scotty informs her as he points to the HOW camera that is right in his fucking face. She nods her head, understanding as they both turn to leave, but the camera slowly pans back to the door and the name on the door reads…..
Xander Azula vs. GenoSyde
Joe Hoffman: Last week at March to Glory, a new HOTv champion was crowned.
(Jeffrey James Roberts © vs. GenoSyde- HOTv Title match)
Roberts positions himself on the top rope. He measures GenoSyde and looks for a splash…
GenoSyde throws the chair off his chest, STRAIGHT into JJR’s face! The champion falls into a heap on the mat and the PWA star collects all of the chairs… piling them on top of one another.
He throws JJR in-between his legs…
Joe Hoffman: GenoSyde hits FlipSyde!
The Canadian Destroyer drives JJR through a plethora of steel!
The challenger isn’t done. He has Roberts with all his might and connects with Intentional Homicyde.
Onto the pile of chairs.
Hortega slides into position as GenoSyde hooks the leg.
DING DING DING
“Loser” by Beck plays as James Cornfield dances out of sync to the music while making his way to the time keeper’s table. He snatches the HOTv Championship from it.
Bryan McVay: The winner of this match and the NEW HOTv Champion… GenoSyde!!
Joe Hoffman: Tonight, GenoSyde makes his first HOTv title defense against this man…
(Aftermath of Darin Zion vs. Sir Simon Sparrow Match- March to Glory)
After Sparrow makes his way to the back, “Engel” plays over the PA and Xander Azula heads to the ring to check on Zion.
Joe Hoffman: Zion gave it his best effort tonight, but fell short against Sir Simon Sparrow…but it seems Xander is out here to check on him after what’s been going on the past few weeks!
Xander helps Zion to his feet as the crowd cheers for him. Xander extends a hand to his fellow Master of the Multiverse. Zion hesitates and then the pair shake hands.
Azula pulls Zion in…
…and delivers an elbow to the head! Zion drops to the mat.
The crowd boos the hell out of the Head Disciple, who glares down at his one-time tag partner. Then he leaves passing officials rushing to ringside to check on Zion.
Joe Hoffman: After the short-lived alliance between Xander Azula and Darin Zion came to an abrupt end at March to Glory, HOW CEO Michael Lee Best immediately booked Azula to face the new HOTv champion GenoSyde and that match will take place right now. Let’s go to the ring and Bryan McVay.
Bryan McVay: Ladies and gentlemen, our next match will be one fall and it will be for the HOTv TITLE!
McVay pauses for the applause from the rabid HOW fans inside the Best Arena.
Bryan McVay: Introducing your challenger…
The whistling intro of “Engel” by Rammstein plays over the PA system, setting the crowd off in a chorus of boos. Xander Azula and his Eternal Circle disciples step out onto the stage and survey the crowd with a gleeful grin.
Bryan McVay: …weighing in tonight at 230 pounds. From Long Beach, California…
The crowd show their disdain for Legion and his crew, who simply laugh at the ignorance they see as they head toward the ring. Legion directs his disciples to circle around the ring.
Bryan McVay: …XANNNNNNNN-DER. A-ZUUUUUUUUU-LA!
Azula and his disciples hop onto the apron with wicked smiles on their faces and enter the ring. Legion directs his crew to leave the ring and awaits his opponent.
Bryan McVay: And his opponent…
A looping guitar riff backed by a hip hop beat the opens Beck’s “Loser” comes on the sound system. The lights dim and a center spotlight finds the masked monster marching out from behind the apron.
Bryan McVay: …accompanied to the ring by James Cornfield…
Behind GenoSyde, James Cornfield creeps out but allows GenoSyde into the main view for the fans to witness without a distraction. Soon after, Cornfield appears to the left of GenoSyde, holding his hands out to display the challenger for all to see (as if no one got the memo already and then pointing out the HOTv title belt around the champion’s waist.
Bryan McVay: …weighing 301 pounds tonight. From Hell, Michigan…
GenoSyde marches down the rampway alongside his promoter.
Bryan McVay: …he is the HOTv CHAMPION! GENO-SYYYYYDE!
The PWA owner, booker and sole proprietor continues to point in GenoSyde’s direction as the large man grabs the middle rope and pulls himself onto the apron. Then he steps over the top rope and into the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Both men are now in the ring. Joel Hortega will be the referee.
Cornfield hands the TV Title to Hortega who then turns and holds it up in the air. Then he hands belt to the timekeeper.
Joe Hoffman: All right. It looks like we are about to be underway.
Joe Hoffman: And here we go.
Azula races across the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Azula comes out with a high elbow…
GenoSyde’s head snaps to the side…
Joe Hoffman: …and that surprised GenoSyde!
…the HOTv champion wobbles but does not fall.
Joe Hoffman: Another one! That’s a Bullhammer and GenoSyde falls back to the ropes.
Xander follows. He whips GenoSyde across the ring. Azula waits for him to return and goes for a third Bullhammer. GenoSyde ducks and goes on. Azula turns around and waits again for GenoSyde to come back. Azula ducks under a jumping clotheseline and GenoSyde runs off the ropes again. Drop Toehold by Azula. GenoSyde down. Azula to the top rope. He jumps and drives his knee into GenoSyde’s midsection.
Joe Hoffman: HUGE MOVE BY AZULA! COVER!
Azula goes for the shock pinfall.
GenoSyde kicks out emphatically but Azula goes up top again.
Joe Hoffman: Here we go again? Can he hit it a second time?
Azula flies. GenoSyde rolls away this time and Xander lands hard on his knee.
Joe Hoffman: No! Azula tried to drop that knee from the top rope second time but GenoSyde rolled out of danger.
Grabbing his knee, Azula tries to get to the ropes. Cornfield shouts to GenoSyde and the HOTv champion slides out of the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Xander Azula went for the quick knockout hitting two Bullhammers and a top rope knee but GenoSyde survived the early assault and now he’s conferring with Jim Cornfield on the outside.
Cornfield takes GenoSyde for a walk back and forth at ringside while talking to him.
Joe Hoffman: Cornfield is giving his man a chance to clear his head and stop the momentum by the challenger.
Hortega starts a ten count.
Azula back up and watches GenoSyde pacing back and forth with Cornfield.
Gesturing with his hands to ‘calm down’…
…Cornfield imparts a few more words of wisdom to GenoSyde…
…before the HOTv champion climbs back up onto the apron…
…and slips through the ropes.
Joe Hoffman: Both men back in the ring now.
GenoSyde meets Azula in the center of the ring and hammers him with hard shots to the temple. Azula backs up.
Big boot by GenoSyde drives Azula into the ropes and back. He puts Azula’s head between his legs.
Joe Hoffman: Flipsyde on the way… WAIT!
Azula pulls GenoSyde’s legs forward. GenoSyde loses his balance. Azula flips up and over holding his legs and pins GenoSyde’s shoulders down.
DOS- GenoSyde powers out.
Cornfield slams his hands on the ring apron.
Joe Hoffman: That’s twice now that Azula surprised GenoSyde.
The PWA promoter has some… ‘harsh’ words for the HOTv champion.
Joe Hoffman: GenoSyde is a little off his game here so far.
Azula charges forward again. He throws another Bullhammer. GenoSyde ducks under again and this time wraps his arm around Azula’s neck… other arm around the waist… lift and slam.
Joe Hoffman: Exploder suplex by GenoSyde.
Azula lands a few feet across the ring. GenoSyde methodically takes his time to walk over and pull his opponent off the canvas. He throws him in-between his legs… he flips up and over Azula into a CANADIAN DESTROYER!
Joe Hoffman: FLIPSYDE! This is the move that GenoSyde used to wear down Jeffrey James Roberts last week at March to Glory.
GenoSyde rolls over to cover.
Joe Hoffman: Azula got a shoulder up on the pinfall!
GenoSyde pulls Azula up. He sends Xander to the ropes… SPEAR!
Joe Hoffman: He nearly folded Azula in half with that one.
Cornfield claps on the outside.
GenoSyde hooks the legs.
Tre-hand on the rope!
Joe Hoffman: Xander Azula grabbed the bottom rope!
Hortega waves off the count.
Cornfield again shouts words of encouragement as GenoSyde takes Azula by both legs and pulls them back. Azula holds on to the ropes with both hands. GenoSyde yanks him away and Azula falls hard to the mat. Azula kicks at the legs as GenoSyde moves in. He lifts Azula into a gorilla press position and then legs go… Azula comes down and again his body nearly folds in half across GenoSyde’s knee.
The champion covers.
Joe Hoffman: I have no idea how Xander Azula got a shoulder up!
GenoSyde keeps going. He throws the challenger in-between his legs. He flips up and over for another Canadian Destroyer.
Joe Hoffman: Another Flipsyde by GenoSyde…
Azula falls backward through the ropes and ends up toppling off the apron to the floor.
Joe Hoffman: …but Azula was too close to the ring edge and GenoSyde can’t go for the immediate pinfall.
GenoSyde slides out and goes over to his downed opponent. He pulls Azula up…
…but Azula shoves him head first into the ring post.
Joe Hoffman: Desperation move by Azula.
Azula scrambles back onto the apron and rolls back into the ring. He goes up to the top turnbuckle.
Joe Hoffman: High risk move coming from Azula.
GenoSyde jumps onto the apron and crotches Azula on the top rope. He climbs up onto the top rope and sets Azula up for another Canadian Destroyer… this one from the top rope!
Joe Hoffman: FlipSyde from the top rope? No…
Joe Hoffman: YES! TOP ROPE FLIPSYDE!
Azula’s not moving now but GenoSyde pulls him up one last time… PENDULUM STO!
Joe Hoffman: INTENTIONAL HOMICYDE AND THAT SHOULD DO IT!
GenoSyde rolls on top of Azula and hooks the leg.
Hortega calls for the bell.
“Loser” by Beck plays and like he did before at March to Glory, James Cornfield does an out of sync dance while snatching the HOTv Championship from the timekeeper’s table.
Bryan McVay: Your winner at nine minutes and eighteen seconds… and STILL THE HOTv CHAMPION! GENOOO-SYYYYYDE!
Cornfield presents GenoSyde with the belt and raises his arm in victory.
Joe Hoffman: GenoSyde retains his title tonight but Xander Azula came out firing and went for an early knockout. But the big man was too much and the champion retains his title here tonight on Refueled. Our main event tonight is coming up. HOW World Champion Conor Fuse versus the Texan Clay Byrd for the title and we’ll have the match for you right after these commercial messages.
Mackdaddy of Mojo
Back live and backstage at the Best Arena in the conference room formerly referred to as “The StarrSek Industries Epicenter”. Sir Simon Sparrow sits at the head of the table in his leather office chair, facing away from the table towards two covered easels. He is in the middle of speaking and two people sit at the conference table, a man and a woman, both in their late twenties. The man types on a laptop while the woman writes on a legal pad.
Simon Sparrow: …which is where the Jattlantic City Idol nickname started. Now, the Mackdaddy of Mojo name began, and some would say ended, ha ha!, with a match against Daddy Mack, he’s barely worth talking—-
There is a knock at the door which causes Simon Sparrow to stop swivels towards the door.
Simon Sparrow: You may enter!
The door opens and Darin Zion enters. Simon Sparrow rises from the chair and motions for him to enter. Darin walks into the room and looks over at the man and woman who follow him with their eyes.
Simon Sparrow: Darin Zion, good of you to come. Don’t worry about them. They’re not here, they don’t exist. They’re my ghost writers. Spoiler alert, they’re not really ghosts. Seriously though, they’re helping me write my memoirs.
Darin opens his mouth to respond but Simon Sparrow quickly interrupts.
Simon Sparrow: Not a word, not a fucking word. You’re like the Energizer Bunny when you open your mouth, you just keep going and going and going. It’s exhausting.
Darin looks almost offended by this statement , but complies nonetheless. The self-proclaimed Professor of Sparrowdynamics starts walking to the easels.
Simon Sparrow: Before we get to our business, I wanted to show you something. Tonight, after Conor Fuse does the impossible and successfully defends his HOW Championship against Clay Byrd, I am going to surprise him with a painting. Are you familiar with the artist Rembrandt?
Darin opens his mouth but once again Simon Sparrow interrupts.
Simon Sparrow: Of course you are! Who isn’t? Well, I hunted down one of his descendants and commissioned them to paint a portrait of Conor Fuse!
Simon Sparrow removes the cover from the painting on the right revealing a stick figure with giant round, dilated eyes and a huge smile carrying a small rectangular object with what might be a GameBoy or a game controller, Simon is not certain.
Simon Sparrow: As it turns out, that genius does not run in the family. So, I went to an artist who studied Rembrandt in some hoity toity art school and he delivered this….
Simon Sparrow unveils the portrait of Conor Fuse in the style of Rembrandt, an amazing likeness. The HOW Championship is over his shoulder and in the background, a blurry, faded image of a TV with what looks to be a greenish dinosaur-like shape, Yoshi, no doubt.
Simon Sparrow: He’s gonna love it! A Rembrandtesque painting from the Rembrandt of Wrestling. That’s gonna be the name of the book “Simon Sparrow: From Jatt Starr to the Rembrandt of Wrestling”. Who’s the Rembrandt of Wrestling? Me. I am! Unlike some other people who claim to be artists, all my matches are masterpieces. What do you think?
Darin Zion opens his mouth but is once again interrupted as the man click, click, clicks on the keyboard of his laptop.
Simon Sparrow: That reminds me, you’re gonna be in the book as well but I don’t like your name. “Darin Zion”. It screams “Religious Loser”. You need one of those pseudonames. Let’s drop the “Zion”…Darin…Darin….Dingleberry…no, no, that’s much worse…I got it! Darin El Diablo! No, that would be cultural mispronunciation….are you French? If not, you are now…you will be Darin Diabolique. Double D, have a seat, let’s talk.
Simon Sparrow has a seat at the head of the table and Darin Diabolique/Darin Zion takes the empty seat to his right.
Simon Sparrow: So, you’ve come to apologize? Don’t. It’s a sign of weakness. As far as I’m concerned, all is forgiven. Water under the bridge. There! Done! Now, is there anything else?
The inner fanboy shows in Zion’s twinkling eyes. In a humble manner, Zion approaches Simon with a calm demeanor.
Darin Zion: Only wanted to follow through with my word. Anyways, I do have something on my mind. We both know that I’m a brash, hard-headed individual. It’s not the first thing I admit out loud, but it’s one of my biggest weaknesses. It’s something that’s long held me back in HOW.
Zion leans forward in Sparrow’s directions, hands folded together to plead with the Hall of Famer.
Darin Zion: I’m growing tired of floating around the lower mid-card. Having the label of ‘Ole Reliable’ isn’t cutting it for me. Over the course of my HOW career, people have taken advantage of me. Hollywood used me as a pawn in his quest to win #97Red. Now Xayne Acaricide took advantage of my services.
A scowl forms on Zion’s face while he continues to rant about the post-March to Glory attack. It turns a shade of beet red.
Darin Zion: I spent the course of 3 months making that mediocre nuisance relevant to the HOW masses. He concocted an elaborate ruse to embarrass me in front of my hometown crowd. He jabbed a knife straight into my heart and I want to make sure he’s the last. I want to make an example out of that buffoon. He refused to give me the respect I deserve.
Zion’s eyes dart to the ground. It takes him a lot of effort to muster his request. It’s almost like it’s a gut punch to him.
Darin Zion: You damn well know I’ll put in the work. It’s rare I put myself out here like this. I know for the last few weeks, we’ve had our differences. You’ve outright denied me for the AoA on public television. I damn well deserved your scorn for what I did. But I’m tired of being stuck in neutral, feuding with the likes of idiots like Azalea. I want to change course. I’d like to turn in an application to join AoA.
Zion exhales in an audible manner before locking eyes with the Professor of Sparrow-Dynamics.
Darin Zion: At this point I’ll take anything. You can offer me full membership, trainee, or hell, I can become your personal protege. Whatever it takes to earn my spot on the team. All I want is to crush that Xenomorph’s brain into the canvas. I want to splatter his brains all over the canvas to make a point. My time in this ring is dwindling and I can’t waste any more of it. All I ask is you help me make a statement so loud; I punch my ticket into this year’s War Games match somehow. What do you say?
Zion’s eyes glow like an innocent puppy dog. Extending his hand out, deep in the back of his mind, he hopes Simon accepts. Simon stares at the hand and decides not to shake it…yet.
Simon Sparrow: So, you wanna take a masterclass in Sparrowdynamics, eh?
Zion opens his mouth to respond but is immediately shut down.
Simon Sparrow: Shut up. First of all, the AoA? Dead.
Darin Zion: Dead?
Simon Sparrow: Deader than the Marx Brothers. They’re all still dead, right? The point is, maggots are feasting on it’s remains as we speak. But, if you wanna do this, it won’t be easy. Your moral code will be questioned. You like helping old ladies across the street? Not anymore, you’re pushing them into traffic. You open a door for your lady friend? Nope, she opens the door for you. The fans? Dead to you. Deader than the AoA. They look up to you because they are beneath you. They mean nothing to you. You wanna be a star, act like one. Maybe your lady friend likes it, maybe she gets repulsed by it and shacks up with a traveling salesman from Humptulips, Washington, or maybe you buy her a ticket to Dumpsville. Hey, sometimes you gotta sacrifice. So if you are willing to sell your soul to the HOW, possibly lose everything you care about for a taste of success….and provide me with six percent of all of your merchandise profits then we have an agreement and lessons will commence. If not, don’t worry about it. Leave the way you came. Or think about it before deciding. It’s your choice.
Zion turns around to the camera person and gets real close. A serious look of pondering is sketched across his face. With his hand, he makes a motion towards the door. Simon turns towards the writers who are diligently working to get every word and movement down.
Simon Sparrow: Is this gonna be great for the book, or what?
Darin Zion (to the cameraman): Please excuse yourself from the room. Mr. Sparrow and I need to tend to some business matters in private.
The camera person refuses to move. Darin crosses his arms against his chest firmly. The tapping sounds from his toe become audible for the audience.
Darin Zion: LEAVE US! NOW!
Zion begins to crack his knuckles to pursue the camera person. The camera frantically jolts around as the person exits the conference room area. Darin Zion slams the door in the face with a firm motion. We fade to black wondering what both men are discussing.
We cut elsewhere Conor Fuse wanders the backstage area of the Best Arena, #97red firmly on his shoulder. He main events once again and looks ready for his battle with Clay Byrd. He grabs the door to his locker room and pulls it open only to see David Noble sitting on the couch, feet firmly planted on the coffee table, and looks to be in deep thought while sitting there.
Conor Fuse: David! Been wondering where you’ve been and here you are, right under my nose the entire time.
David though doesn’t move, his eyes remaining firmly closed. Conor walks over to the couch and taps David on the shoulder. David’s eyes slowly open and he looks over at Conor.
David Noble: There you are. You know how long I’ve been sitting in your dressing room?
Conor looks at his invisible watch.
Conor Fuse: Five minutes. Pretty positive I was just here.
David slowly nods his head.
David Noble: That is… entirely possible. I must have dozed off.
Conor Fuse: Been wondering where you’re at all evening. Glad to see you here.
David Noble: Yeah, I watched the show a little bit. That STRONK, man, he is a beast.
The Vintage looks delighted at the mention of Godson.
Conor Fuse: Haha yeah, he’s pretty dope. The power lifter and the… Power-Up King?
Fuse takes a moment to contemplate. Then he smacks Noble on the shoulder.
Conor Fuse: Still not as good as Noble Gaming…
He says this with a wink and a nudge.
Conor Fuse: I have to worry about Clay first. Big mother fucker thinks I’m either hanging with The Board or allowing The Board to manipulate him and I. “Conor Fuse and Clay Byrd tear each other apart!” Shouts Clay in my ear, like this is a BAD THING. To which I reply…
Fuse looks blankly at his teammate.
Conor Fuse: So?
Noble is dismissive of Clay.
David Noble: I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m sure you’ll shit down his throat.
Conor Fuse: Well, that’s rather disgusting.
David Noble: I know, right?
Conor chuckles as he sits on the couch next to David. As he does, he sees a manila folder resting on Noble’s lap.
Conor Fuse: Is that what I think it is?
David Noble: Yeah.
Conor Fuse: You sign it yet?
David Noble: Not yet.
Conor Fuse: What are you waiting for?
David shrugs his shoulders, his hand resting on it.
David Noble: Sorry about March to Glory.
Conor shakes his head.
Conor Fuse: Bro. Yo. C’mon. That was a great match… could’ve gone either way. I wouldn’t stress too much about it. It is what it is and your stock soared during these last few months. We made a great team and whenever you want to team again, I’ll be right there with you.
David Noble: Same here. I’ve got your back.
Conor then holds out his fist, waiting for David to bump it. David looks at it and bumps it.
David then looks at the folder on his lap.
David Noble: Not sure what I’m going to do with this. I’ll hold onto it and see what happens.
Conor Fuse: Sign it man, you’ve earned it. LFG… or something.
David smiles and stands up before making his way to the locker room door.
David Noble: Don’t get into too much trouble with me not around, okay? And you get in trouble? Don’t worry, I’ll be there for you.
Conor nods his head.
Conor Fuse: Sign it, David.
David Noble: Soon.
He looks at the folder.
David Noble: Soon.
He then opens the door and walks out, holding onto his manila folder as Conor leans back on the couch.
Conor Fuse: See ya, buddy.
We fade out for our final commercial break of the evening.
Clay Byrd vs. Conor Fuse
As we return from the final commercial break of the evening, members of The Board are already making their way to their assigned places for tonight’s main event. Taking the usual place of Bryan McVay is Christopher America, who stands next to referee Rick Stevens and already has a microphone in his hands.
HOW Commissioner Cecilworth Farthington sits at the timekeeper’s table, giving a thumbs up to special enforcer Jace Parker Davidson, who is standing ringside to keep the peace here tonight.
Joe Hoffman: It’s time for tonight’s main event, folks, and I have to say that something smells fishy in Denmark.
Mike Best: Clay Byrd has been griping for months that he earned a singles opportunity at the HOW World Championship. All the guy talks about is how he got screwed at every turn… so what do I do? My FIRST ACT as the CEO of HOW is to give Clay Byrd a World Title shot, and then ban interference of any kind to ensure that he gets a fair shake.
Joe Hoffman: With the entirety of The Board at ringside, while no one else is allowed anywhere near the ring.
Mike Best: I trust in the integrity of The Board, Joe. That’s why I hand selected them as my cabinet here in HOW in the first place. You’re a man who understands justice… at March to Glory, when Clay Byrd VICIOUSLY ATTACKED BENNY NEWELL… you did the right thing. You put on the referee’s shirt and you made the count.
Joe Hoffman: What happened at March to Glory doesn’t make this right. The HOW World Championship has a long history of respect, and integrity, and this doesn’t feel like either of those things. Lee Best NEVER would have allowed this, no matter what I may think about his strength of… character.
The camera cuts back to the ring, where America is ready to introduce tonight’s match.
Christopher America: The following contest is scheduled for ONE FALL, and is for the HOW WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP… making his way to the ring first, appropriately from PLAINview, Texas…
“Gunning For You” by Nick Nolan begins to play over the speakers, the guitar and harmonica blasting through the arena as Clay Byrd makes his way out from behind the curtain.
Christopher: Standing at 6’7” and weighing in at a technically morbidly obese 295 pounds… CLAY…. BYRRRRRRDDDDDDDD!
The challenger steps through the fog, cowboy hat low over his eyes and his long coat just barely trailing behind him along the ramp. He slowly begins to walk down toward the ring, his eyes filled with obvious anger as he keeps them fixated on the ring in front of him.
Joe Hoffman: Clay Byrd seems to know the score here tonight, but I don’t think that’s going to stop him from doing everything he can to capture the HOW World Championship.
Mike Best: Honestly? I hope he does. Clay Byrd is a hell of a competitor. When I beat him at March to Glory last week in my retirement match, objectively humiliating him in front of a sold out crowd, all I could think about was “man, this guy isn’t half bad.”
Clay walks up the ring steps, wiping his boots on the apron as he climbs over the ropes and gets into the ring. He slowly removes his hat and duster, taking his corner and waiting for the champion to arrive.
Christopher America: And his opponent… from Toronto, Ontario… ugh… Canada…
READY, PLAYER ONE?
“Bloody Tears (Epic Version” from Castlevania II begins to play, as “The Vintage” Conor Fuse makes his way out from a haze of purple mist at the entranceway.
Christopher America: Standing at 6’1” and weighing in at 210 pounds… he is the HOW World Champion… the Vintage… the master of the Super Splash 450… he is… CONOR…. FUUUUUUUUUUSE!
The 97Red beauty around his waist, Conor is looking just about as pissed off as Clay Byrd is here tonight, staring down at his challenger as he descends the ramp.
Mike Best: Conor Fuse looks dialed in here tonight.
Joe Hoffman: He’s been dialed in for nearly his entire HOW career. This two time HOW World Champion captured his second title at ICONIC after the existing champion was eliminated in… what what was that time again? Seven minutes, fifty seconds?
Mike Best: I will deadass replace you with Kaley Matheson.
Joe Hoffman: The point is, Conor Fuse is the real deal. He may have struggled as of late with some questionable match outcomes, but he’s looking to prove here tonight that he can do things on his own and get the job done as HOW World Champion.
Conor enters the ring, handing off the HOW World Championship to referee Rick Stevens and taking his corner. There isn’t a lot of pageantry here tonight, as both competitors stare across the ring from one another with intensity in their eyes. This isn’t just a world title match, it’s a world title war.
Stevens holds the belt aloft, as America leaves the ring and takes a spot near the champion’s corner. Jace Parker Davidson camps out at the other side of the ring, looking around for intruders.
DING DING DING
Immediately off the bell, Clay Byrd steps to the middle of the ring, jacking is jaw for Conor to come fight. The HOW World Champion seems to have no problem with that, and after some exchange of words a right hand is thrown in the center of the ring! It’s hard to even say who swung first, but immediately both men have escalated this to a brawl in the opening seconds of the contest.
Rick Stevens is clearly letting the closed fists go, leaning into his years of HOFC refereeing to know that it’s time to just let these guys fight. Byrd has the better of the exchange on pure size though, backing the champion into his own corner with furious right handed punches.
Joe Hoffman: Clay Byrd is pissed off and swinging for the fences!
Mike Best: What he lacks in intelligence, he more than makes up for in pure caveman strength. Definitely an advantage out there in the ring.
Conor realizes that he’s in trouble, and quickly ducks his upper half in between the ropes to break it up. Rick Stevens forces the two apart, as the World Champion gets a second to breathe.
As soon as the count resets, Clay swings again, but Conor sidesteps and let’s Clay shove himself forward into the corner. The champion begins laying forearms into the back of Byrd’s head, wall spamming the challenger! Byrd can’t cover up, but now it’s his turn to duck into the ropes and try to break the count.
Conor Fuse: I have till–
The HOW World Champion eats a stiff elbow to the face, cutting him short of copyright infringement as he staggers back toward the middle of the ring. Clay Byrd turns and charges, spearing the champion to the canvas and railing on him from above with vicious blows!
Joe Hoffman: This is a BATTLE! Clay Byrd wants the HOW World Championship, and Conor Fuse isn’t giving it up without a fight. Two totally different sizes and fighting styles here in play. This has the potential to be a classic… if the Board stays out of it.
Mike Best: All in the name of a fair fight, Joe. I love this as much as you do.
Conor Fuse manages to wriggle away from the flurry of blows, grabbing the ropes and pulling himself to the outside to regroup. He takes a deep breath and then slides back into the ring, just quick enough to get in there before Clay can capitalize and attack him while he’s down. Conor is back on his feet, and now he circles with Byrd in the middle of the ring, both men looking for their shot. The two men lock up in the center of the ring, but Clay again uses his size advantage to overpower Conor, kneeing him in the gut and leaving him doubled over in the middle of the ring.
Clay takes off running for the ropes behind him, clearly looking for a TEXAS LARIAT…
…but Jace Parker Davidson grabs his leg!
Immediately, the crowd in the arena begins to boo the fucking daylights out of this, as Rick Stevens goes to the ropes to scold the special enforcer. Jace begins apologizing profusely, explaining that he thought it was Kostoff trying to interfere in the match.
Joe Hoffman: Oh come on! Here we go…
Mike Best: It’s an easy mistake to make, Joe! Imagine if that had been Chris Kostoff just now… Jace would have been a hero.
Clay Byrd is fucking LIVID, about to jump over the ropes and tear Jace Parker Davidson limb from limb, but he’s forgotten about Conor Fuse! The HOW World Champion rolls him up from behind with a schoolboy pin!
Taken by surprise, Byrd kicks out at two, but quickly realizes that he can’t take his eyes off the HOW World Champion for even a second. He yells out in frustration, but rolls back up to his feet and re-engages with his opponent nonetheless. There is a buzz in the crowd, as the camera cuts to the side entrance to the main floor of the Best Arena. Clearly seeing that the fix may be in, Steve Solex is making his way down through the ticketed portion of the arena, shoving his way through the crowd toward the guardrail.
Joe Hoffman: I think Steve Solex has seen enough.
Mike Best: Well he can see enough from behind that fucking guardrail, or he’s fired.
Immediately, special guest ring announcer Christopher America makes his way to the guardrail, reminding Steve Solex that he needs to stay behind it. Solex looks beyond incensed, but America just smirks and walks away.
Inside of the ring, Clay Byrd whips Conor to the ropes, catching him with a rebound suplex that rocks the ring. He covers the champion, going for the pin!
Conor is up at the two count, hard to call it a near fall, but the crowd reacts nonetheless. Clay looks frustrated, grabbing Conor by the hair and dragging him back up to his feet. He lifts the still stunned champion up, rocking the ring a second time with a thunderous bodyslam! He covers again.
Conor once again powers out of the pin.
Joe Hoffman: Clearly not going to be enough to get this done. That one seemed like a waste of time.
Mike Best: No, admittedly, that’s smart. He’s forcing Conor to expend energy. Jumping off turnbuckles takes a lot out of you, that’s why I never fucking did it.
Conor is definitely slower to get up this time, as Clay guides him in an Irish Whip. Conor counters, though, shooting Clay off into the ropes and taking the big man off his feet with a spinning heel kick! The crowd gets hot for that one as both men hit the canvas, with Conor being the one to get up a little faster this time.
The champion fires off another kick, this time of the roundhouse variety. It staggers Clay, who is still getting up, and drops the challenger to a knee in the middle of the ring. Conor Fuse this time comes off the ropes with a superkick, but Clay doesn’t go all the way down!
Clay is wobbling.
This time, Clay goes flat on his back, and the HOW World Champion makes a cover!
Conor looks absolutely livid, but a kickout is a kickout. Clay rolls toward the ropes, trying to get some breathing room as the match goes on.
Joe Hoffman: A devastating series of superkicks from the champion, but it’s not enough to seal this one up for Conor Fuse.
Mike Best: Clay Byrd is a tough son of a bitch, Joe. He’s also an arsonist, but who’s even keeping score.
Clay rolls out of the ring, his turn to need a second to reset the fight as Christopher America gets up onto the apron, pointing out to Rick Stevens that Solex is ringside now, and to keep an eye on him. With Stevens distracted, Special Guest Judge and HOW Commissioner Cecilworth Farthington nails the resting Clay Byrd in the back of the head with his judge’s clipboard, immediately rolling him back into the ring.
Joe Hoffman: What is fair about this, exactly?
Mike Best: Can’t win the match outside of the ring, Joe. Cecilworth is making sure we have a decisive victory. Saved Clay from a countout.
Conor Fuse is beginning to look sincerely aggravated by the “help” he’s receiving in his title defense, clearly not wanting anything to do with it. He begins arguing with Rick Stevens, telling him that this is basically a bunch of bullshit and he wants all these guys out of here.
And he isn’t the only one.
From the other side of the arena, the fans are buzzing as “The Miracle Man” Steve Harrison tears through the crowd, getting to the guardrail on the other side of the ring. Like Solex, he still can’t cross the threshold, but he’s about as close to the action as he can get while not technically interfering.
Conor is still arguing with the referee, but now it’s his turn to get caught. Clay Byrd doesn’t give a fuck about his white knight effort to keep the match clean, and sees his opportunity, railing Conor with a disgusting looking spear directly in the back! The inverted form of his usual signature move is even more dangerous from behind, and Conor crumples into a nasty heap as Clay rolls him over, making a cover!
NO! CONOR BARELY KICKS OUT!
The arena is on their feet after that one, believing we had a new HOW World Champion after one of the gnarliest looking spears in the history of HOW!
Joe Hoffman: WOW, TWO POINT NINE NINE!
Mike Best: Holy shit, he almost did it… hold on.
Throwing down his headset, Michael Lee Best stands up from the commentator’s table and begins to beeline for the ring. Before he can get to far, however, we have another huge roar from the crowd as the back of his jacket is suddenly snatched within the fist of someone behind him… he’s stopped in his tracks… by Hall of Famer Joe Bergman!
Bergman is on the other side of the guardrail, clearly not violating any rules, as he holds the CEO of HOW by the blazer, spinning him around and letting him know that the main event isn’t going down like this. Immediately, Jace Parker Davidson and Cecilworth Farthington rush to the aid of their friend and CEO, trying to separate the two at the commentary table!
Joe Hoffman: Folks, this is getting out of hand…
Inside of the ring, Clay Byrd is back to his feet, holding the ropes as Conor Fuse stumbles back to a staggered, but standing position. Every fan in the arena is out of their seat, as Clay comes off the ropes…
NO! CONOR FUSE IS TRIPPED BY CHRISTOPHER AMERICA!
The HOW World Champion lands face first in the ring, as the only remaining member of the Board literally saves Conor’s championship reign by attacking him from ringside! The boos are fucking unmeasurable at this point, as Clay throws the lariat but stumbles forward into the ropes instead from the follow-thru!
Joe Hoffman: THIS IS BULLSHIT! COME ON!
Conor Fuse quickly recovers, not even realizing exactly what just happened as Clay rebounds off the ropes. Conor rebounds off the opposite rope like lightning, leaping into the air and NAILING the Head Stomp with both feet, taking Clay Byrd to the mat and rolling onto him for the cover.
NO! FUCKING CLAY KICKED OUT!
The crowd can’t BELIEVE it, and neither can Conor Fuse! He rises to his knees, his hands in his hair as he fights actually pulling it out of his head. It was 2.99999999 but this match somehow continues!
Joe Hoffman: CLAY BYRD IS STILL IN IT, FOLKS! I DON’T KNOW HOW, BUT HE’S STILL IN IT!
The loud reaction from the crowd pulls the Board away from the fracas at ringside, as they finally separate Best and Bergman at the commentary table. Cecilworth Farthington now gets up onto the apron, acting as the official judge and arguing with Rick Stevens that clearly this was a three count, in his expert opinion.
Fuse crawls toward the turnbuckle, and now he’s in absolute desperation mode. He pulls himself to the second turnbuckle, standing onto wobbling legs as he slowly begins to smash his arm across the pad on top.
Conor Fuse is powering up.
With every single smash, he seems to rebuild some strength, and the torn crowd is half cheering the hell out of it and half begging for Byrd to get to his feet…
…and Byrd does.
Slowly pulling something out from deeply within his soul, Clay Byrd begins to rise up from the canvas, and Conor has no idea! The HOW World Champion is powering up, slapping the turnbuckle over and over again, as Clay Byrd loads up his outstretched arm one last time…
Joe Hoffman: …I can’t freaking believe this!
Byrd launches forward harder than he ever has in his entire life….
The impact in the middle of the ring is felt throughout the arena, as Christopher America lays the challenger out in the middle of the ring with a finisher not seen in HOW literally in almost ten years. America is in and out of the ring like a fucking snake, an act of Guerilla Warfare that sends the arena into an absolute fit of boos. Farthington sees that the deed is done, and immediately stops arguing with Rick Stevens, telling him that it was probably a two count after all.
Conor Fuse is still smashing the turnbuckle, and doesn’t even see what happens as he finishes POWERING UP, turning around to still see Clay Byrd laid out where he left him!
Joe Hoffman: This is the heist of a century, and Conor Fuse doesn’t even know it’s happening!
Now at full power once more, Conor launches himself onto the top rope, leaping from the top with THE SUPER SPLASH 450! He lands center mass onto Clay Byrd, not understanding why the crowd is booing as he holds it for the cover.
DING DING DING
The booing only intensifies as the final bell rings, certifying that Conor Fuse has retained the HOW World Championship. He rolls off of Clay, as Christopher America makes the official announcement.
Christopher America: Here is your winner, AND STI–
Before he can even finish, the Hall of Fame guest ring announcer is smashed in the side of the head by Steve Solex, who jumped the guard rail the second the bell rang. He takes the Hall of Famer to the ground, railing him with punches as Harrison and Bergman jump Jace Parker Davidson and Cecilworth Farthington from behind! Inside of the ring, Conor Fuse gets back up to his feet, deciding to help Clay Byrd up to his as well. He tries to shake hands with the Behemoth, still not having an idea how he just retained his title.
The CEO of HOW looks around, realizing that he’s the only one not fighting. He takes the opportunity to bring the HOW World Championship into the ring, walking it up the steps and proudly presenting the title back to the man who just successfully defended his title. Something clicks in Conor’s head now, as he realizes why the crowd has been booing.
And why Clay Byrd looks fucking pissed.
Michael sees the writing on the wall and drops off the apron, escaping certain murder at the hands of Clay Byrd and leaving Conor to deal with the fallout. He makes a confident retreat, taking the rest of the Board with him as they decide that brawling with these guys is not in their BEST interests.
…and Conor is left alone.
A thousand emotions flood the veins of Clay Byrd, as he clenches his fists. Bergman, Solex and Harrison join him inside of the ring after fighting off The Board, and now all four men encircle Conor Fuse, giving him no way out from a situation that honestly wasn’t even his fault.
At this moment, it doesn’t matter.
Clay Byrd fires off with the Texas Lariat, crumpling Conor Fuse into a heap of his own flesh as the HOW World Championship falls limp at his side. The HOW World Champion, and now officially the first War Games captain, is knocked clear out by the angriest fucking Texan you’ve ever seen… the other three men in the ring stand tall with him, and while they couldn’t legally stop this match from going the other way tonight, it’s clear that there is a new faction in HOW… and that they have Clay’s back going forward.
The Highwaymen are born.
Refueled comes to an end.