The HOTv logo gives way and we are live once again inside the All State Arena here in Rosemont Illinois….just outside the Chicago city limits. We are once again welcomed to the show by the High Octane Hall of Fame announce crew of Joe Hoffman and Benny Newell:
Joe Hoffman: Welcome everyone to Refueled….tonight we spotlight the DeNucci and GOD groups of the LBI. Quite frankly Benny some of these matches would headline most PPV’s.
Benny Newell: Key word is most….tonight….its just a regular night in the land of fucking High Octane.
Joe Hoffman: Well whoever had the under on me agreeing with Benny…you just won…and with some healthy odds.
Benny Newell: Speaking of gambling……Take the Niners and the under tomorrow night……+2 and under 54.5……BOOM
Joe Hoffman: Well that is tomorrow…..tonight we continue on with the LBI. Lets not waste anymore time and take it over to our esteemed ring announcer Bryan McVay who is ready to introduce our first competitors.
The cameras cut to McVay who is standing in the middle of the ring.
Bryan McVay: Our opening contest is scheduled for one fall for the first match up for the C Group in the 2020 Lee Best Invitational….
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Metallica blares over the PA System as Austin Reeves storms out from the backstage area rather angry. Fans try reaching for him but Austin pushes their hands aside as he comes out to a chorus of loud boos.
Bryan McVay: First, making his way to the ring, weight in at 295 pounds; he hails from Newark, NJ. Please welcome Austin Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeves.
Reeves on the turnbuckle cracking his knuckles as he waits for Brenton Cross. Austin’s cracking his neck patiently waiting to destroy anyone in his way to get a win in this LBI match.
Joe Hoffman: Austin Reeves is a big threat in this tournament match up. Standing at 6’8 inches and 295 pounds of brutal destructive force; I am not sure any military experience will get you through the sheer brute power Austin Reeves will have for anyone in this tournament.
Benny Newell: Dear God, I wouldn’t want to be Brenton Cross tonight. Someone give him a Delorean so he can time travel his way past this match. It isn’t going to be pretty for him. Austin’s been through this tournament before. Cross hasn’t! Reeves knows the importance about making an impact in this first round match up.
Smoke appears at the entrance as “COCHISE” by Audioslave hits the arena. Brenton Cross walks through the smoke, his eyes fixed on the ring. Acknowledging nobody, he walks, focused down to the ring, but before he can even make it to the ring, Reeves jumps out of the ring and takes the fight directly to Brenton. He charges straight at him with a shoulder tackle into the barricade. Reeves picks Cross up and slams him straight into the barricade as Matt Boettcher screams for Reeves to bring his ass in the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Dear God almighty! That’s one way to open this show. Reeves just killed Cross to open this match up.
Benny Newell: Cross, I got some Jack for that fatal abdomen injury Reeves left you with. It’ll heal the pain.
Reeves bashes Cross’s head against the barricade a few more times before he chucks him straight into the stairs. He drags Cross’s body in the ring as McVay runs. Boettcher fights with Reeves for a moment begging him to allow Reeves to throw the match out, but Reeves pounds his fists together and Boettcher motions for the bell.
DING DING DING!!!
Joe Hoffman: Austin Reeves is pissed off about his loss to Kostoff at our last event. He’s taking it out directly on Brenton Cross. Cross is trying to fire some punches on Reeves.
Benny Newell: But it’s to no avail, Joe! He’s hitting the rock hard abs of a chiseled, angry, gorilla in Reeves. It’s no…
Joe Hoffman: Dear God! Right in the groin to put some distance! Cross needed some breathing room.
Brenton checks Reeves straight in the crotch to stop him for a moment. Cross rushes towards Reeves with a Spear and takes him to the ground. Cross tries to stomp on Reeves, but Reeves gets back up and tosses Cross across the ring. Reeves exposes the turnbuckle and tries to smash Cross’s head against it, but Cross sticks his foot up and rolls underneath Reeves. Reeves rebounds and Cross checks him directly in the mouth with a knee, shaking the big man, but Reeves’s eyes light up with anger.
Benny Newell: Get the tomb of the unknown soldier ready for Brenton because once Reeves is done with him; they won’t recognize him.
Cross goes flying into the ropes and Reeves hits one sick clothesline folding up Cross. Cross tries to pull himself off the canvas, but Cross gets picked up and leveled straight with a belly to belly suplex. Reeves smiles as the crowd boos him. Reeves tells the crowd to shut up as Matt Boettcher begins to count to ten.
Cross grabs the ropes out of desperation near the rope with the exposed turnbuckle. Reeves immediately slaps his knee a few times motioning for the Last Ride, pointing straight to his jaw. The crowd’s boos intensify as Reeves watches Cross struggle to get back to his feet like a hungry lion.
Joe Hoffman: I’ve never seen Reeves this aggressive. He’s making his statement known tonight. He’s about to kill Cross and….
Benny Newell: Holy shit!!!!
Cross nails a drop toe hold straight onto Reeves and his jaw hits the turnbuckle. Before Reeves fully recovers to know what’s happening, Cross grabs him with a simple school boy and bares all his weight down into the cover as Matt Boettcher makes the count.
DING DING DING DING!
Bryan McVay: Here is your winner of the match via a Pinfall: BREEEEEEEEENTON CROSSS!!!
Matt goes to lift Brenton’s hands up, but Brenton rolls out of the ring and goes near the rabid crowd as he celebrates near the entrance ramp as Reeves looks rather pissed off and delusion he lost the match.
Joe Hoffman: Brenton shut down the size advantage rather quickly tonight when he used Reeves’ aggression against him.
Benny Newell: You can still hear Reeves’ jaw hit that exposed turnbuckle hard. Cross was in the right place at the right time and scores a shocking victory tonight over HOW’s resident beast. Joe, we’re both going to have to drink to that.
“COCHISE” by Audioslave plays in the background and Cross celebrates the shock win as we fade out and cut elsewhere.
The broadcast cuts to the upper level of the arena where Blaire Moise just happens to be standing on the steps in the aisle way.
Blaire Moise: Blaire Moise here in Section 214 of the Allstate Arena where Joe Bergman is sitting tonight.
Quick shot of Bergman in Row C, seat 1. He’s imbibing with a bottle of Budweiser and having a great time with the people in the section.
Blaire Moise: Before Refueled went to air, Bergman was in singles action in a dark match that took place before tonight’s show. HOTv cameras were there once again and here’s how the match unfolded.
(VIDEO: DARK MATCH EARLIER TONIGHT)
Joe Bergman vs. ‘Not Just Intolerable…Not Just Unbearable…He is…’ Justin Sufferable w/‘The Raconteur of Road Rage’ Triple R
…Sufferable hits the corner turnbuckle hard. Bergman sets himself and races across the ring.
Just as Joe launches himself in the air for a splash, Triple R shoves referee Rick Stevens into Bergman’s path and pulls Sufferable out of harm’s way. Bergman crashes into Stevens and drives him into the turnbuckle.
Following the ref bump, Triple R climbs through the ropes and blindsides Bergman – who’s checking on the downed referee – from behind. Then Sufferable joins in and it’s a two on one beatdown. Both Sufferable and Triple R lay the boots to Bergman.
Sufferable steps back to gauge his next move…
…and gets hammered by a chairshot from behind by former LSD Champion Dawn McGill (who’d jumped the barricade, grabbed a steel folding chair, and hopped into the ring).
Triple R turns around…
…and gets a steel folding chair facial. He’s down. Sufferable manages to get back up…
…and immediately goes back down after a chairshot to the face. McGill then reaches down and helps Bergman over to where Sufferable is down. Bergman makes the cover. Then McGill shakes Stevens awake and points over to him.
Stevens sees the cover and makes the count…
Blaire Moise: Congratulations Joe on your win tonight.
Blaire leans over and puts the microphone in front of Joe’s mouth.
Joe Bergman: Thank you Blaire. It was a little harder than I thought it was going to be but thankfully Dawn McGill just happened to be in the building to help out. But it’s a win and in my book a win is a win is a win.
Blaire Moise: You officially return to action next week against Brenton Cross.
Joe Bergman: Blaire, 2020 is here and for Joe Bergman it’s a blank slate. I can’t use time travel to change and erase the disappointing run of results after I won the world title for the second time. The LBI is a great chance for me to get back on track but I know it’s not going to be easy. Brenton Cross will be a tough opponent and I’ll need to work hard to defeat him….I mean he just scored a huge win over Austin Reeves. I’m going to go into the match with the mindset that helped get me the success I had early on in 2019: I’m the underdog – I’m the dark horse in this race – I’m the Cinderella man in this match, I’m the ordinary schmuck trying to mix it up in the rarified air with the best of the best in the wrestling world.
Blaire Moise: And then in two weeks, you will face LSD Champion Max Kael for the title.
Joe Bergman: Oh yeah. And then there’s Max Kael. Everyone knows how difficult it is to defeat Max Kael. Max is not only a great wrestler but Max is a dangerous wrestler and that makes him a huge challenge to overcome. I was fortunate to beat him once in the semi-finals of the world title tournament. He beat me to win the world’s title. So, yeah, I’m going to have my work cut out for me but this is my job. I’m going to work my ass off – put my head down – and get to it, just like each and every man and woman sitting here with me- people who do their job day in and day out to the best of their ability.
He pauses as the surrounding people in Section 214 clap and make lots of noise.
Joe Bergman: You guys have been behind me since day one. I hope I can feed off that energy and come back even stronger in 2020. I don’t need an empire behind me. I don’t need an industry either. All I need is you guys- the people. So let’s all drink up and get ready for our main event because this is going to be a great match between two great wrestlers and I am looking forward to kicking back and watching this one.
Blaire Moise: Thank you Joe Bergman.
Joe Bergman: Thank you Blaire.
With that we cut elsewhere backstage
We cut backstage where we are inside one of the assigned locker rooms.
Refueled time, but the livin’s not easy.
On any normal night, the atmosphere of the Industry’s locker room is light, but professional. Always professional. When you’ve been in the business an average of 18 years (MJ’s youth and time in brings that number down a bit), you know the score by now. How to act, how to gain respect, how to earn it in return. How to make friends, and how to keep them, in a business where too many are out for themselves.
But raise the stakes, and there’s always a chance for tension.
Pit teammates against each other, and the bonds of friendship are ripe for testing.
This is yet another challenge for this crew: the War Games loss was the first fissure, but it was quickly patched as the group moved forward, undeterred. Eric Dane’s abrupt departure proved another, but Dan, Lindsay, MJ, and Jack bonded together to seal it. The surging eMpire, and their inability to gain any traction over them, has been the status quo for weeks on end to nobody’s liking.
And now, with the Lee Best Invitational, and all four required to face off in matches through the group stage just to see who advances through, will prove their toughest test to date. They all know this, even if they don’t want to admit it out loud.
Dan Ryan, for sure, won’t admit this out loud. He surveys the room from his seat on the far end of a bench, wrists already taped up, breakaway pants over his trunks, ready to go despite going on last. Ten feet away his sister-in-law laces up her boots, her phone and multi-colored tape rolls in her bag on the floor, headphones on. At the other side of the room by the door, Jack Harmen avoids eye contact, his fucked-up eye still gruesome to look at thanks to multiple Max Kael Brow Beaters at ICONIC. His match with MJ Flair is imminent; she is conspicuously absent from this scene.
The Ego Buster is the first one to break the silence.
Dan Ryan: So, I know this isn’t ideal…
He pauses, waits for his teammates to tune in. Jack glances toward him but tries to hide his bad eye as he does. Lindsay finishes with her boots and moves to taping up her arms. Dan leans forward to get her attention. She peers back at him, then plucks one earbud out of her ear.
Dan Ryan: …but I want us to keep the big picture in mind. Yes, we all have to face each other. No, we all don’t like it. But more important than that, we have to face the guy that put us all in this position. Beating Mike, killing his momentum and not letting him advance through, needs to be our singular focus. You both agree?
Jack Harmen: (nodding) You had me at beating Mike.
Lindsay Troy: Sure.
Ryan frowns at Troy’s short reply, but presses on.
Dan Ryan: I’m sure if MJ was here, she’d agree as well.
Lindsay Troy: (shrugs) Probably off prepping somewhere.
Jack Harmen: I’m sure if MJ was here last month, a lot of things might be different too…
Lindsay Troy: You can’t focus on that, Jack. Can’t change it, just need to move forward.
Jack Harmen: Well focusing has been proving difficult for me lately.
He waves his hand, careful not to get too close to his eye. Troy flinches; not the best choice of words from her.
Dan Ryan: Anyway, you know he’ll be watching our matches closely tonight. Win or lose, we’ll need to be at the top of our game. Leave no doubt that this is a dangerous road he’s walking down.
Jack Harmen: Usually, I love me some danger…
Lindsay Troy: Yes. Good pep talk, captain. But I think we’re way past big speech time.
The Queen stands up, takes her phone and a few rolls of tape to hand. Dan Ryan stands as well, directing his gaze solely on her as he steps over next to her.
Dan Ryan: (quietly) You good?
Lindsay Troy: Why wouldn’t I be?
Dan Ryan: Oh, I dunno. This abruptness from you is very…un-Queenly.
Lindsay chuckles and slips her phone into the waistband of her pants.
Lindsay Troy: And this “rah-rah, hands in everybody, let’s all kill Mike in the face” vibe is very un-Danly. Sure didn’t hear it when you were looking ahead to wanting your tenth try at Farthington.
Dan Ryan: (dryly) Ouch. Get me some aloe vera for that burn.
Lindsay Troy: Ask my sister for it. Besides, I’m just doing what you do best: zoning in, not letting anything, or anyone, distract me. Not even family.
Dan Ryan: (keeping his stare on her) Fair enough. God knows I don’t wanna distract you.
Lindsay cuts him an icy side-eye and moves toward the door. Jack nearly bumps into her, because what even is depth perception when one of your eyes looks like a White Walker’s? Dan watches her go, a little out of sorts with how that role reversal went.
Not that he would admit it out loud, of course…
We cut to our first commercial break.
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Back live from commercial and the we immediately cut into the entrances for our next match…
“All Aboard! AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…” A light fog rises up from the entrance way as the opening guitar rift kicks in. Parting the smoke is High Flyer, who stands confidently at the top of the entrance ramp. He tosses one hand up in a devil horn taunt, and smiles slyly to the camera. He stomps his way to the ring, paying very little attention to the crowd. Once he reaches ringside, he slips in under the bottom rope, then sprawls on his back. He begins to make snow angels while residing on his back, looking up at the lights before recovering to his feet. As the announcer introduces High Flyer, he leaps onto the second ropes and looks out to the crowd.
Brian McVay: Introducting first. From Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Representing The Industry and weighing in at two-hundred twenty-four pounds. HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHHHHH FLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYERRRRRRRRRRR!
The lights dim as the music builds. MJ Flair walks out with purpose, stopping right at the top of the ramp for just a moment before she heads to the ring. A few outstretched hands are slapped, but for the most part, she remains focused. MJ takes a lap around the ring to greet another handful of fans, then stops by the far ring post. In one fluid motion she climbs from the floor to the top turnbuckle on the outside of the ring, raising her hands while encouraging as much noise from the fans as possible.
Brian McVay: And his opponent. Also representing The Industry, she hails from Warwick, New York. She weighs in at one-hundred thirty-five pounds. She is M-J-FLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRR!
Benny Newell: What a smart move by Mike Best to put all of the Industry members into the same group of the LBI! THE GOD GROUP!
Joe Hoffman: Yes, but he’ll have to eventually face all members of The Industry as well. It may be a smart move, but will he survive the LBI?
Benny Newell: Shut the fuck up, Joe. Of course he will. This is Mike Fucking Best we’re talking about.
Joe Hoffman: Wait, do you like Mike Best again?
Benny Newell: Shut the fuck up, Hoffhole. I got a drink to make.
Joe Hoffman: You’re a fickle beast, Benny.
The two stablemates meet in the center of the ring, and both offer their hands in a sign of respect. The two shake hands and back off to their respective corners. Referee Joel Hortega calls for the bell as both members of the Industry begin to circle one another. The two move to the center of the ring and lock horns in an elbow collar tie up. Neither competitor gains an immediate advantage as they struggle back and forth in the center of the ring. High Flyer ceases an opportunity first, and locks in a side headlock. High Flyer, still holding on tight, pulls Flair over his hip and slams her to the mat.
Joe Hoffman: High Flyer takes the first bit of offensive here.
Benny Newell: I’m about take some offense on this bottle of Jack.
Joe Hoffman: Take it easy, Benny. We’ve got a long night.
Benny Newell: Fuck off, Hoffhole. Me and this Jack have a long standing agreement.
Flair attempts a head scissors, but High Flyer sees it coming and tucks in his head. However, the shift in bodyweight allows Flair to roll out of the hold and up to her feet. Flair quickly scoops a leg of High Flyer and drives him into the mat, immediately taking the top position. Flair quickly transitions into side-control and locks in a headlock, but High Flyer – showing his quickness – locks in a head scissors and reverses the hold. MJ Flair lunges into a kip up and breaks the hold, getting to her feet. She’s quick to a fighting position, but High Flyer is up as well and the two stair on another down in the middle of the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Two technical wrestlers putting on a show for us here tonight!
Benny Newell: Get a fucking chair and throw it in the ring!
The two Industry members pull back, and once again begin to circle each other. The two once again tie up in the center of the ring, but this time High Flyer takes the advantage by locking in a side-headlock, but Flair is quick to the reversal and wrenches High Flyers arm behind his back with a hammer-lock. High Flyer runs toward the corner with Flair holding on. Using the ropes as a step-ladder High Flyer climbs to the top rope and back-flips out of the hold and over the top of Flair’s head, landing on his feet behind Flair. Flair turns around and charges at High Flyer attempting a clothesline, but High Flyer ducks underneath, locks his arms around her waist and spins behind her. Flair tries to escape, but High Flyer slams her down with a perfectly executed German suplex. High Flyer hangs on and bridges for the pinning attempt.
Joe Hoffman: What a move by High Flyer, Joel Hortega in for the count!
But before Joel Hortega can get to the count of dos, Flair kicks out and hops to her feet. High Flyer, not letting up for a second, also springs to his feet. Flair rushes High Flyer backward into the opposite corner and lands a stiff knee into the midsection of High Flyer. High Flyer doubles over, and MJ Flair hammers him down to a knee with a stiff forearm shot to the back. Flair doesn’t stop the attack and grabs the arm of High Flyer sending him across the ring into the corner with a hard Irish Whip. High Flyer rams into the corner but charges out, however MJ Flair telegraphed it and sends High Flyer across the ring with a Steamboat like arm-drag takedown. High Flyer uses the momentum to roll to his feet and again runs toward Flair, but again is sent flying across the ring with another deep arm-drag takedown.
Joe Hoffman: What a sequence!
Benny Newell: That was five shots of Jack in a row, Joe. I’m on fire!
High Flyer doesn’t hop to his feet this time, but rather stays down on a knee. High Flyer cracks a smile at his stablemate and gives her a brief applause before standing up. MJ Flair acknowledges the praise of her friend as she lets him get back to his feet. The two, once again, circle each other before locking up in the center of the ring. High Flyer pushes Flair against the ropes and sends her across the ring with a hard whip. High Flyer goes for the clothesline, but Flair ducks and hits the opposite ropes. High Flyer drops to his stomach, and Flair is forced to hop over him and again hit the ropes. High Flyer springs to his feet, leaps high up into the air and lands a beautiful drop kick that connects with Flair’s face sending her flat down to the canvas.
Joe Hoffman: What an impressive dropkick by High Flyer!
Benny Newell: OK, boomer.
MJ Flair stays down this time, reaching for her nose and checking her hand for any blood. High Flyer is quick to his feet, however, and cautiously walks over to Flair. High Flyer grabs Flair by the hair and slowly lifts her to her feet. High Flyer doesn’t allow Flair to recover and blisters her with a couple of open handed strikes to the side of the head. Flair falls backward into the ropes, holding herself up as High Flyer’s assault continues with a chop across the chest. The crowd instinctively lets out a collective “WOO!” High Flyer then sends Flair across the ring with an Irish whip into the corner. Flair crashes into the turnbuckle and drops down to a knee. High Flyer, attempting to retain his momentum runs at Flair, but is clobbered in the forehead with a flying forearm that puts him flat on his back. Flair crawls on top of High Flyer and makes the cover. Referee Joel Hortega gets into position for the count.
Joe Hoffman: Cover by MJ Flair!
High Flyer kicks out just as soon as Hortega’s hand hit the mat for the count of two. Flair is quick to her feet, and drops an elbow, but High Flyer instinctively rolls out of harm’s way and Flair lands flat on the mat. High Flyer makes a cover!
Joe Hoffman: Nice instincts by High Flyer, and it looked like he caught his younger opponent off-guard there, but ultimately she got the shoulder up and the match continues!
High Flyer seems a bit frustrated, but out of respect for his stablemate he doesn’t argue the count. Instead, High Flyer climbs to his feet, and pulls Flair up with him. High Flyer connects with a couple of leg kicks to the right thigh of Flair, and follows up with a spinning roundhouse kick that lands to the side of Flair’s head. Flair stumbles backward and into the corner. Flair looks for some space, but High Flyer closes the gap immediately and knocks Flair flat on her face with a flying knee that lands on the chin. High Flyer, climbs to the top rope as MJ Flair rolls over to her back. High Flyer leaps from the top rope and executes a perfect frogsplash. High Flyer bounces off of Flair however and holds onto his ribs as he rolls around the ring.
Joe Hoffman: High Flyer may have injured his self on that amazing frog splash!
Benny Newell: You know what heals rib injuries?
Joe Hoffman: What’s that Benny?
Benny Newell: Alcohol, Hoffhole! DRINK!
Referee Joel Hortega is forced to start a ten count as both Industry members lie flat on the mat.
MJ Flair begins to stir around as the count reaches five.
High Flyer also begins to stir as the count reaches six.
High Flyer crawls over to the ropes, and uses them for leverage.
The count has reached seven, and MJ Flair is still moving but remains down.
High Flyer gets to a knee.
Joe Hoffman: High Flyer gets to his feet just before the count of ten, and Joel Hortega is forced to end the count!
Benny Newell: I can’t believe Hortega counted every shot!
Joe Hoffman: You took nine shots?
Benny Newell: DRINK!
High Flyer limps over to Flair, with an arm across his ribs protecting the tender area. Flair, now up to a knee, spots High Flyer getting close and plants a balled fist directly into High Flyer’s ribs. High Flyer doubles over in pain and drops down to a knee but only momentarily. High Flyer throws a wild haymaker, but Flair ducks under. High Flyers momentum causes him to spin around, which allows Flair to hoist him in the air and drop him with a brutal atomic drop. High Flyer hops into the air reaching for his backside, but also still protecting his ribs with the other arm. Flair waits patiently for High Flyer to turn around, and just as she expected he does, and levels him with a standing drop-kick to the face. Flair quickly crawls over, hooks both of High Flyer’s legs and arches her back with a strong pinning attempt. Joel Hortega is quick to the spot and makes the count…
Joe Hoffman: High Flyer reverses the pin attempt!
Joe Hoffman: High Flyer’s done it! Just barely!
Hortega signals for the bell, as both Flair and High Flyer stay on the mat.
Brian McVay: The winner of this match, HIIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHH FLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYYERRRR!
Joe Hoffman: Unbelievable match by both MJ Flair and High Flyer!
The action slowly fades out as we see the two Industry members slowly helping each other to their feet.
The lights in the arena dim as the HOV lights up with 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 red-leather chair that. Steven kicks his feet up onto the desk and flaunts a white envelope to the camera.
Steven: Welcome to the 2nd edition of “Leave it to Stever!”
Steven pauses for applause, but instead the arena once again fills with an outpouring of boos from the fans in attendance. Steven opens the envelope in his hand, and chuckles a bit as he reads the contents of the letter to himself.
Steven: This first letter is from Jim in Ohio! Jim asks, “Steven, my daughter is constantly leaving the lights on around our home. She doesn’t even have to be in the room Steven, she just has all of the lights on! EVERYWHERE! I don’t get it; I wake up in the morning…empty living room; lights are on. I get home from work…empty kitchen, lights are on. I’m at my wits end Steven, please help!”
Steven folds the letter and places it back inside the envelope before tossing it aside. Steven leans forward into the desk, positioning himself in the center of the shot and staring into the camera.
Steven: Well, Jim. That’s a fine question. I think, I would begin to question the little one’s motives in this case. I would sit your daughter down, look her straight in the eye, and ask her this question. “Do you, insert name here, have stock in the electric company?” She must! And if she does, Jim…you might want to begin collecting a stipend from her earnings. Thanks for the question, Jim!
Steven quickly grabs another envelope from the drawer behind the desk.
Steven: This question comes from Bob in Idaho. “I-da-hoe.” Good one, Bob, you got me.
Steven can contain his laughter, and slaps his knee as the crowd lets out a collective sigh at the terrible joke.
Steven: Bob asks, “Steven, anytime my son has French fries he covers his plate in ketchup. He literally uses half a bottle of ketchup with a small fry! I don’t know what to do, Steven.”
Steven folds the letter and tosses it aside.
Steven: Well, Bob. From, Idaho (chuckles)…I think what you need to do is ask this very simple question. It’s guaranteed to get a reaction, and put an end to the madness. “Would you like some fries with your ketchup?” Trust me, Bob. It works every time.
Steven pulls out another envelope, much to the displeasure of the fans in the arena who erupt in boos once more.
Steven: And out last question (crowd cheers) comes from Joe in Arizona. Joe, asks “Steven, my kids have no value of money. They are always asking for money, video games, clothes, and much more. I’m running out of money here Steven, and they just won’t accept it when I tell them ‘no.’ What should I do?”
Steven folds the letter and tosses it aside.
Steven: Well, Joe. There are two courses of action here. The first, is to tell the kids to ask their mother anytime they want something. This could result in their mother telling them to “ask your father.” This causes confusion in children, and they will undoubtedly become frustrated with both you and their mother. But, if the two of you are on the same page with this, the pattern can ultimately end the begs. But, if you really want to stump your kids. You can always tell them, “money doesn’t grow on trees.” That one works, every time.
The crowd lets out a groan as the music begins to pick back up in the arena.
Steven: Well, folks. That’s all the time we have this week. I’ll see you next time, right here on “Leave it to Stever.”
The crowd boos wildly as Steven waves to the camera as the HOV fades to black as we head to a commercial break.
Back live from commercial and the HOV comes to life as a video begins to play….
Magdalena purposely strode forward, her eyes just beyond the semi-truck, still running and toward the camp marked by the North Kaelrean flag. A gloved hand grabbed her elbow. She turned.The North Kaelrean soldier shook his head, hiis stone-faced glare said she was going no further. Magdalena jerked at her elbow. The grip held.
Magdalena: I suggest you free me. You shall want that hand free.
Magdalena gave another jerk. A tighter grip answered, and now the soldier’s twin grabbed her other elbow. She jerked and twisted, but the hands were vices. She struggled and pulled and realized, they weren’t going to let her go.
Just as she’d hoped.
A shadow crossed the semi’s headlights, blotting it out like a solar eclipse. With a heavy thwack, a cane crashed across the back of her first captor sending him arching then falling to one knee on the blacktop. Her second captor wasn’t as lucky. He took the cane across the face & crumpled hard & flat with a thud. The first looked up. And up. And up. Into the eyes of the masked Deacon. Magdelena smirked at her captor as his eyes stared up.
Magdalena: I expressed to you, You needed to keep your hands free.
With a stiff kick Deacon sent him out before turning & Louisville Sluggering the reinforcements who began to pour out of the camp. One. Two. Five. Deacon marched into their midst like a Marine recon in the jungle cutting the North Kaelreans down like vines with his Singapore Cane as his machete. All collapsed beneath Deacon’s swings leaving Magdalena alone in their midst.
She didn’t see another sneak up behind her, grabbing her chin in one palm while gripping the other side of her head with the other. For the first time, she knew that she might have gone too far.
Breathing heavily, Deacon turned back to Magdalena. He looked from her, to her assailant, then back to her as if questioning what she wanted him to do. Deacon took a step forward. The grip on her chin and head tightened. This guy would actually do it; he’d snap her neck. Deacon stopped. She could feel her assailants breath on her neck. She remembered. Her face grew hot, but the heat did not help lessen his grip.
A back kick to his nuts, however, loosened that grip just fine. Her assailant folded to the ground, his eyes bulging and grimace echoing a moment before Magdalena kicked him in the face.
Deacon stepped over this final soldier, dropping the cane across his form. Whittled into the hardwood were the numbers – 13:24. The two walk away leaving around ten North Kaelrean soldiers on the ground outside of Max Kael’s forward camp. Soon after Magdalena and Deacon leave, Max slinks out, his blue eye scanning the broken soldiers on the ground as his raspy, mechanical breathing joins with the groaning of his downed soldiers.
Max Kael:.. Lazy! Pathetic! Sleeping on the job!
He turns and very stiffly kicks one in the ribs causing the man to roll away coughing painfully. Throwing his hands into the air, Max returns to his camp muttering under his breath about needing to find more reliable soldiers as we cut back live to the announcers for our next match.
As we come back from the backstage area of the evening we see the Hall of Fame team ready for the next highly anticipated match up.
Joe Hoffman: Next up is a match up from the Michael DeNucci group of the LBI.
Benny Newell: RIP to DANOOCH! Gone but never forgotten, DRINK!
Joe Hoffman: Exactly Benny. This upcoming matchup features newcomer, Warrick Hill, and the odds on favorite to win the group, Max Kael….who has a serious issue with the newcomer Deacon as well. Did you see what he did to Max’s soldiers in that pre taped segment that aired on the HOV??
Benny Newell: Deacon is a big boy……fresh meat for Max…..eventually. By the way what makes you think some nobody named Bobby Hill….
Joe Hoffman: Warrick.
Benny Newell: Whatever. You think this guy can beat Max? More well known people have tried and failed.
Smoke begins to fill the entranceway. A drumstick taps against a cymbal. It’s a countdown! That all too familiar intro into “Tom Sawyer” by Rush hits! A simultaneous sky blue light runs from the ceiling down onto the ramp as Warrick Hill emerges through the smoke.
Bryan McVay: Introducing first, hailing from Tallahassee, Florida and weighing in at 220 lbs….he is WARRICK! HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
Hill’s hair appears dirty – 2-3 days unwashed. He’s rocking a pair of cheap shades. A cigarette hangs from his mouth, probably a menthol. He’s sporting a shirt belonging to some local liquor store, a ‘complimentary’ item with over $30 bucks of booze purchased.
Benny Newell: This guy looks like they found him behind the arena digging in the dumpster for food.
Joe Hoffman: Looks can be deceiving Benny. Warrick use to pal around with former HOW wrestler Derek Mobley.
Benny Newell: Mobley knew this bum?
Joe Hoffman: Apparently, and from what I have gathered he’s won some regional championships as well as some tag team titles, but never the BIG ONE.
Benny Newell: Hell, that hooker tried the big one last night and failed. HEY-O!
The man casually strolls down the ramp, locates the nearest steps, ascends them, and eases his way into the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Anyways, he attended FSU. Spent some time in jail for selling drugs, and fell in love with a woman who was able to get his sentence reduced and it ended up toxic in the end.
Benny Newell: This guy sounds like a fucking moron Hoffman. I mean if he was caught with drugs he’s not doing it right because I can call my dealer Smitty up right now and say I want a bag of Coke and by the end of the night it will be here. And don’t even get me started on his relationship problems. You bed them not wed them dumbass.
He leans into his corner, relaxed posture, ready for whatever the fuck is about to happen as Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine’s Theme (Epic Dark Side Mix) begins to play causing the crowd to go into a frenzy. The Flag of North Kaelrea appears on the High Octane Vision as the North Kaelrean General appears at the top of the stage.
Joe Hoffman: Don’t be scared by his appearance folks, he is indeed human and he just needs that mask to breath.
Benny Newell: Human, ha.
Joe Hoffman: Excuse me?
Benny Newell: We all know Max is two major surgeries away from being a Terminator with a human brain.
Bryan McVay: And his opponent, hailing from North Kaelrea and weighing in at 230 lbs…..he is the HOW LSD Champion…..MAX! KAEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLL!
Max makes his way down the ramp and gets into the ring. The champion’s eyes do not leave his opponent as he stomps his way to the center before standing at attention. Kael unfastens his title before thrusting it high into the air as he does the North Kaelrean salute as the crowd says…..
Crowd: LONG MAY HE MAIM!
Once the announcer is out of the ring, Joel Hortega checks both individuals and calls for the bell.
Joe Hoffman: And here we go…..
Upon hearing the bell, Warrick Hill comes flying out of his corner like a man possessed and delivers a Superman punch to Max Kael that takes the champion off guard.
Joe Hoffman: Hill catches Max off guard with that fast start.
Hill begins to unload rights and lefts to the body of the Lord Supreme Dictator.
Benny Newell: Cover up Max!
Max tries his best to cover up but Hill is relentless in his punching attack as he cuts off Max’s attempts to escape forcing him back into the corner.
Joe Hoffman: Warrick looks pretty fluid in the ring. I wonder if he has a background in boxing?
Benny Newell: We know he has a background in dropping the soap. HEY-O!
Hortega shouts in Spanish for the two to get out of the corner before starting his count.
Warrick throws up his hands and backs up as Hortega reads him the riot act. Hill goes to grab Max, but the champion quickly rakes the eyes of his opponent and grabs him by his board shorts and slings him face first into the middle turnbuckle. Max takes a moment to adjust his mask before grabbing Hill by the back of the head and repeatedly smashing it against the middle turnbuckle causing Hortega to count.
Max quickly shoots Hortega a look causing the official to hop out of the ring.
Benny Newell: I think that’s the quickest I’ve seen him jump since he hopped his way into this country.
Max builds up a head of steam as he runs the ropes and delivers a running knee to the face of Hill.
Joe Hoffman: Vicious knee by Max and Hill may be unconscious.
Benny Newell: Easy dub here tonight!
Max quickly picks up Hill and snap suplexes into the corner.
Joe Hoffman: Max is vicious here tonight.
Benny Newell: When is he not vicious?
Max pulls Hill from the corner and goes for a cover driving his forearm into his face.
Joe Hoffman: Warrick with the kickout at two.
Benny Newell: That beaner needs to count faster.
Max goes to reach down and pick Warrick up, but instead Hill reaches up and swipes at the face of the LSD champion causing Max to get distracted with adjusting his mask allowing Hill to turn him inside out with a…..
Joe Hoffman: SPEAR! SPEAR! SPEAR! MAX IS BROKEN IN HALF.
Benny Newell: Wouldn’t be the first time Hoffman, and calm your tits it’s not like that spear was on the level of an Austin Reeves.
Max pops the shoulder up in time.
Joe Hoffman: That was close. Warrick Hill almost secured a huge upset here tonight.
Hill slaps the mat in frustration as he hits the ropes and delivers a running elbow drop. He does it again and again and again before he comes to a complete stop before feigning a leg drop and delivers another elbow drop.
Joe Hoffman: I’ve seen that move before.
Benny Newell: Fuck those fuckers on the east coast.
Warrick holds up three fingers, but Hortega tells him it was dos. Hill picks up Max and goes to whip him, but the LSD champion reverses the maneuver and yanks him back towards him to deliver a roaring elbow smash.
Joe Hoffman: Arkham Hammer by Max!
Benny Newell: MAIMING TIME! DRINK!
Max rushes towards the unexpecting Hill with a lariat in mind, but Hill is able to duck under the attack and lift Max up as he turns around.
Joe Hoffman: SKY HIGH! SKY HIGH!
Benny Newell: I’m sure he is.
Sky High Powerbomb by Warrick Hill and Joel Hortega slides into position.
Joe Hoffman: MAX KICKED OUT! BY THE SKIN OF HIS METAL TEETH HE KICKED OUT!
Benny Newell: YES! FUCK HANK HILL JR.!
Warrick lets out a yell of frustration as he mounts Max and begins to rain down rights and lefts.
Joe Hoffman: Frustration setting in and Warrick needs to be careful unless he wants to get disqualified.
Hortega begins to shout at Hill before counting.
Hill pops up and gets into the face of Hortega and the two begin to exchange words. This verbal exchange gives Max enough time to pull himself back to his feet and deliver a spinning forearm smash to the back of Hill’s head.
Joe Hoffman: The Gaslighter!
Benny Newell: Light them up!
Max grabs Warrick and throws him shoulder first into the unforgiving steel ring post. Max jumps up and drives his knees into the middle of Hill’s back causing him to hit the canvas. Max continues the assault as he picks up Hill and sits him on the top turnbuckle. He hooks him and lifts him onto his shoulders. He turns around and before he can run forward Warrick is able to wiggle free and deliver a neckbreaker.
Joe Hoffman: Warrick countered the Kael to the Max with that neckbreaker.
Benny Newell: FUCK!
Both men are down and Hortega begins his count.
Both men begin to stir.
Both men get to all fours.
Both men are up and exchanging rights as the crowd ooooooohhhhhhs and aaaaaahhhhhhs each exchange.
Joe Hoffman: Both men delivering heavy punches.
Warrick delivers a right that staggers Max into the ropes, but the LSD champion uses the momentum to slingshot forward and deliver a headbutt that sends Hill through the ropes and onto the apron.
Joe Hoffman: Brow Beater by Kael sends Hill almost out of the ring.
Benny Newell: He smells blood Hoffman.
Hill hangs onto the ropes for leverage as Max reaches over the top rope to grab him but Warrick quickly grabs the champion and slingshots him on the top rope.
Joe Hoffman: Stun Gun by Warrick Hill and Max is staggered.
Max is holding he throat and clutching his mask as Warrick musters enough strength to hop onto the top rope and propel himself through the air and deliver a flying forearm.
Joe Hoffman: THE JOINT! THE JOINT!
Benny Newell: I prefer lines of Coke Hoffman. You know this.
Warrick scrambles to a cover.
Hortega signals for the bell and everyone is stunned.
Benny Newell: WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!?!?
Joe Hoffman: He won? He won! Warrick Hill just pulled a massive upset here tonight!
Bryan McVay: And your winner by pinfall…. WARRICK! HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
Benny Newell: This is bullshit Hoffman!
Warrick quickly rolls out of the ring and leans against the guard rail as he is declared the victor as Max is going ballistic in the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Warrick Hill just upset the favorite of the DeNucci group.
Benny Newell: It was a fluke! A FUCKING FLUKE!
Hill jumps the barricade and celebrates his victory as he disappears into the crowd as we cut away.
Back live from commercial and we find a sweat soaked Warrick Hill marching down the hallway with a pillowcase full of his personal items slung over his shoulder. Blaire Moise rushes to catch up with him.
Blaire Moise: Warrick! Can I get a second?
Warrick would have normally kept marching but the seductive sound of feminine vocal cords gives him enough incentive to pause. He turns, sizing Blaire up. He nods in approval.
Warrick Hill: Sure.
Blaire Moise: I just wanted…
Warrick Hill: Times up.
Blaire is confused. As are the fans.
Warrick Hill: You asked for a second.
Everybody groans at the stupid joke. Except Warrick, who guffaws. Once he’s done GUFFAWING, he gets semi-serious.
Warrick Hill: What’s up?
Blaire Moise: Hard fought match out there. You guys really went at it…some called it the showdown for the C Group. What are your thoughts on how things turned out?
Warrick Hill: It is what it is. I fought, I won. Life goes on.
Blaire Moise: Kind of lackadaisical given the circumstances.
Warrick Hill: Hey, I got paid, didn’t I?
Warrick flashes his payment for the night’s workload.
Blaire Moise: I guess.
Warrick Hill: Look, am I happy I won? Obviously. But it’s not like this is some unexpected occurrence. Besides, all that REALLY matters is that the eMpire prevailed. It’s tough when two brothers of the same stable have to go at it, fisticuff style. But, I’m sure Max will agree that what’s good for the eMpire is good for HOW.
Blaire Moise: Uh, yea, about that…so are you REALLY in the eMpire?
Warrick Hill: Of course I’m in the eMpire. You saw the pyre. It’s legit, babe.
Blaire Moise: Even with the lack of ‘M’?
Warrick Hill: Hey…
Warrick makes a W with his hand and turns it upside down. He snickers.
Warrick Hill: All day, every day, baby. eMpire for life.
Blaire Moise: Well, okay then.
Blaire faces the camera, ready to wrap up the highly informative interview.
Blaire Moise: I’m Blaire Moise here with…
Warrick’s attention is snared.
Warrick Hill: Did you say Moise?
She nods. Warrick takes his upside down W…better known as an M! and extends it toward Blaire. She picks up where he’s going and makes an ‘M’ with her hand. They bump ‘M’s.
Warrick Hill: Right on, sister. eMpire for life.
With that, Warrick sloppily folds his form of payment and happily struts off, ready to enjoy the fruits of his labor as we cut elsewhere.
We cut live inside a darkened room somewhere inside of the All State Arena. We see a man sitting on a bench with a solitary light on above him. We are unable to make out the man’s face but what we can see is that is holding a piece of paper in his hand. At the top has a single word
The piece of paper is obviously more than one as we see him flip thru the pages and then back to the initial page. The man lets out a sigh and then we see a pen come into the frame……a #97red colored pen……and we see the man sign the document.
He slowly folds the signed contract and places it next to him. There is an audible buzzing sound and we see a cell phone screen light up….but the man does not pick up the phone and instead hits the asshole button as he sees the name on the screen.
The call finally goes to voicemail and the man puts the cellphone presumably back into his pocket and slowly stands up to his feet. As he does he grabs the signed contract and heads towards the door……his face frustratingly staying out of the solitary light above his head.
He exits the room slowly and as we see him enter a brightened hallway we can make out a couple features before the door slammed shut.
Camouflage pants and a pair of military boots.
The scene cuts to our final commercial before the Main Event of the evening.
Back live and we once again cut to the announce table as it is time for our Main Event.
Joe Hoffman: Tonight has been a harsh reminder about just how unpredictable the Lee Best Invitational can be, ladies and gentlemen. Our main event is set to begin here in just a moment, featuring the second match of the GOD Group, and at this time I am joined by the architect of that “Group of Death”, Michael Lee Best.
Mike Best: Thanks, Joe. I really wanted to see this one for myself, and Benny Newell is a fickle piece of shit, so I’ll be taking his place for tonight’s main event. Look me in the face and tell me I didn’t purposely draft four favorites to win the LBI into one group, Joe. Tell me I didn’t just make an entire bracket of dream matches.
Joe Hoffman: Well tonight’s match between Lindsay Troy and new HOW ICON Champion Dan Ryan is certainly a dream match, folks, and it comes with a lot of history. This match has brought back a lot of old emotions for the two long time veterans, who have to put aside their allegiances for the next five weeks on the road to March to Glory.
Mike Best: They’re gonna eat each other alive, Joe. Look at what happened earlier here tonight– Jack fucking Harmen takes down a returning MJF, and just like that I’m a step closer to making it to the final. Let them wear and water each other down. I’m walking out of this bracket with my sixth ICON Championship and moving out of the knockout stage– fucking quote me on that.
The opening clap-stomp beats of “Watch Me” by The Phantoms hit the speakers as the fans in the Allstate Arena jump to their feet. They roar their approval as the lyrics kick in, bringing Lindsay Troy out through the curtain amidst a shower of pyro and cannon blasts. She makes her way down the aisle, spotlights following her path, and she keeps her eyes focused on the ring.
Bryan McVay: Making her way to the ring first… from Tampa, Florida and weighing in at 195 pounds… the Queen of the Ring…. LIIIIIINDSAYYYYY TROOOOOOY!
Once at the bottom of the ramp, Troy jumps flat-footed onto the apron and flips herself up and over the top rope. She then ascends a turnbuckle to give the fans a photo op before leaping off and waiting for the match to start.
Joe Hoffman: Lindsay Troy certainly can’t be happy about her first match in the Lee Best Invitational, and for a multitude of reasons. Old wounds amongst members of the Industry have closed over the years, but a match against Dan Ryan could potentially open them right back up again.
Mike Best: She needs a big win here tonight, Joe. Especially after losing in such epic, humiliating fashion at ICONIC to the man who put her into this nightmare bracket in the first place.
Joe Hoffman: Your humility knows no bounds.
The lights go out and a dual-spotlight makes an encircling pattern on the entrance area as the opening riff of the song plays. When the riff audio kicks it up a notch, Dan Ryan steps out and pauses, looking into the audience and holding the ICON Championship over his head with one arm. Finally, Dan heads down the aisle as pyro blasts behind him.
Bryan McVay: And her opponent… hailing from Houston, Texas, and weighing in at 305 pounds… the HOW ICON Chaaaaampion… he… is… DAAAAANNNN… RYYYYYYAAAANNNNN!!!
Ryan walks directly to the ring, rolls in under the bottom rope and climbs the nearest turnbuckle, keeping his arms down and smirking into the crowd as the music plays. Referee Matt Boettcher collects the ICON Championship from Ryan, handing it off to the timekeeper since it isn’t on the line here tonight.
Boettcher briefly goes through the rules with each competitor, before ringing the bell.
DING DING DING
Neither competitor moves off the bell, staring across the ring at one another. You could cut the tension in the arena with an old credit card and snort it right up your fucking nose.
Joe Hoffman: A lot of intensity as this match begins, folks. Beyond the implications of the Lee Best Invitational, you’re looking at man who nearly destroyed Lindsay Troy’s neck many years ago. And you’re looking at a woman who came back from that injury and destroyed Dan Ryan’s knee. The bridges here have long been repaired, but– wait, what are you doing?
Mike Best: I’m taking notes, Joe. This is great intel. Dan’s got a bum knee. Lindsay has a bum neck. Keep it coming. What you got on MJF?
The two stablemates have slowly stepped toward the center of the ring, nearly nose to nose as they stare at each other’s eyes.
And then Lindsay Troy throws a right hand! And another! Dan Ryan is nearly staggered– he manages to throw back a right hand of his own, and now it’s on in the center of the ring. The fans are going crazy already! Dan fights back and continues the barrage of right hands as he quickly battles LT back toward the corner. Troy backs into the turnbuckle, still trying to hold her own throwing hands, but Dan is bringing them down with increasing ferocity and he’s showing no signs of slowing down!
Joe Hoffman: Dan Ryan is very literally not pulling any punches here tonight, Michael. 2019 was a hard year for the Industry, and this LBI is a golden ticket– for Dan Ryan, perhaps one final shot at a singles match for the elusive HOW World Championship, and for Lindsay Troy, a second shot at a belt that she was very much robbed of at the end of last year.
Mike Best: Good. Hit her harder. This is fun for me, Joe, because every bruise he leaves on her body is setting her up on a tee for me next week. I hope she snaps his fucking knee like a wishbone, too. Let them murder eachother before I ever even have to step into a ring.
Lindsay battles back out of the corner, slipping behind Dan Ryan and throwing him haphazardly backward with a sloppy looking belly to back suplex, mostly due to the sheer size difference between them. Dan hits the mat but shoots right back to his feet, running on pure adrenaline! He swings for Lindsay again, but once more LT slips behind him and tosses him up with a belly-to-back! This time, Dan Ryan stays down.
The Queen of the Ring drops for a quick, potentially foolhardy pin attempt.
Dan easily powers out, but LT seems unconcerned as she climbs back to her feet, taking a few steps back and waiting as Dan does the same. She immediately charges forward with a forearm, crashing into Dan and knocking him sideways into the turnbuckle, where the duo erupt into ANOTHER vicious brawling exchange, a flurry of blows inciting the crowd and turning the place into a powder keg with each mounting blow.
Joe Hoffman: Without a doubt, friendship and courtesy are out the window for this match, if not for this entire tournament. A year’s worth of frustrations are coming out in the ring tonight, and I expect it’s only going to get worse.
Mike Best: You’re looking at two of the best to ever step into the ring. This is actual unstoppable force versus the immovable object type stuff, Joe– except that the eMpire is the one thing in the universe that continued to shut them BOTH down.
Joe Hoffman: Do you intend to make this entire match about you, or can we just enjoy it?
Mike Best: Fuck you, I’m in marketing. I’m marketing right now. And if the Industry is any one thing, it’s smart. They’re going to watch this match. They’re going to try and learn from this match. And I want them to hear my fucking voice the whole time, reminding them who High Octane Daddy is.
Joe Hoffman: High Octane Daddy. Cool. Cannot wait to see what the Father has to say about that one…
Lindsay hits a boot to the gut, ending the back and forth, before throwing a quick knee to Dan’s face, clocking his head backward into the turnbuckle pad! Lindsay steps back and throws a fast dropkick, but Dan ducks and gives her nothing but turnbuckle as she falls to the mat. Quickly picking herself back up, Lindsay immediately walks right into a flying overhead belly-to-belly from Dan Ryan, who tosses her dangerously and effortlessly to the mat! She lands awkwardly, mostly on her neck, bringing a worried hush from the crowd.
Mike Best: OH FUCK.
Joe Hoffman: That was… hard to watch. Oh my God.
Mike Best: A wheelchair is a foreign object and I will not permit her to roll around in the ring with me next week.
Lindz begins to stir, slowly getting to her knees as the crowd cheers for her, but Dan charges out of the corner with a knee trembler, catching the side of her skull and bringing LT back down to the canvas! Now, for the first time tonight, Dan Ryan is being booed.
Lindsay clutches her neck, rolling to her side. Dan, his face still all business, drops down to make the cover.
Pure professionalism and instinct on her side, Lindsay just barely gets a shoulder up, still writhing in pain. Dan finally shows some emotion in the form of a scowl, as he climbs back to his feet and grabs LT by the hair, pulling her up to her knees. He whips her off to the ropes with an Irish whip, but Lindsay catches herself mid-stride and now charges for the ICON Champion like a woman possessed! She throws a flying forearm, but Dan Ryan sidesteps, instead throwing on a hammerlock and twisting Lindsay up from behind. He clinches down on the hold as Troy tries to tapdance out of it.
Mike Best: Welcome to the Dan Ryan School of Rest Holds. Please pick up your sunglasses and diaper at the door, there will be a lot of sun and no bathroom breaks.
Joe Hoffman: That feels rude but okay.
Dan smirks, clinching up even harder on the hold, but LT pushes him backward into the ropes and spins around, nailing a discus clothesline that floors the champion! The crowd pops big, as Lindsay grabs the ropes and begins stomping Dan Ryan into the mat! She’s nearly outside of herself, laying in huge kicks!
Matt Boettcher pulls Lindsay Troy away, warning her that the disqualification is coming if she doesn’t let up. She squints her eyes, backing off apprehensively.
Dan Ryan rolls up to his feet, and now the two stablemates lock up in the center of the ring. Lindsay jockeys for position, but Dan overpowers her and takes her over with a snap suplex! Lindsay is right back up to her feet, letting out a roar as she charges back into Dan, but she eats another! This one connects harder, and Dan once again makes the cover.
It’s not enough to keep the Queen of the Ring down, as she gets a shoulder up once more. Dan gets up from the topside of the pin, grabbing Lindsay by her hair and lifting her up, but Lindsay charges forward with a spear! She knocks Dan right into the corner, and begins hauling off with knees to the midsection, working the ICON Champion over as the crowd goes crazy!
Joe Hoffman: Lindsay Troy battling back yet AGAIN, ladies and gentlemen. There is a reason they call her the Queen of the Ring, and she has fought to retain that crown in arenas all around the world.
Mike Best: She’s gonna have to fight to retain the rights to those knees she’s throwing, Joe. I’m the knee guy around here. Eric Dane tried to be the knee guy. Look what happened to him. I KNEED A LAWYER.
Lindsay moves, letting Dan fall out of the corner and roll into the middle of the ring. She hops up onto the second rung of the turnbuckle, taking flight with a frog splash, but Ryan gets out of the way and watches as LT collides with the canvas!
Dan makes yet another fast cover, trying to capitalize.
Now Dan is beginning to show some anger, as Lindsay once again refuses to quit and gets a shoulder up.
LT rolls to the ropes, pulling herself slowly to her feet, and now both competitors are back in the center of the ring. Lindsay ducks a wild swing from Dan Ryan, reversing into an Irish whip, and as Dan comes back off the ropes she hits a standing dropkick that takes the ICON champ to the mat! She makes a cover!
Immediately Dan rolls back to his feet, but eats another dropkick! The crowd is even louder after this one, but Dan Ryan still won’t stay down. Lindsay backs into the ropes, charging forward, and she wraps Dan Ryan into a running DDT! The cover is made!
Joe Hoffman: THIS COULD BE IT!
Mike Best: NOPE!
Dan is barely up this time, and now the crowd is in full swing.
He rolls out of the ring to catch a breather, but climbs back onto the apron before the countout can begin. Lindsay charges him, but Dan hits a knee to the midsection and stops LT dead! He grabs her by the neck, carelessly throwing her over the ropes and bringing Lindsay Troy down with a vicious fucking overhead belly-to-belly for the second time this match, and once again she lands awkwardly and unprotected.
Dan makes the cover, and the crowd falls silent.
And suddenly, the crowd is back. Dan cannot fucking believe it!
Joe Hoffman: LINDSAY TROY IS UNBELIEVABLE!
Dan lies on the mat, tiring out next to Lindsay Troy, who is also not getting up just yet. Finally, it is Dan who makes it to his feet first, and he aggressively picks LT up off the mat. He gives her a boot in the stomach, and unmercifully lifts her up into powerbomb position.
THE HUMILITY BOMB!
….BUT LINDSAY REVERSES IT INTO A HURRICANRANA!
Dan Ryan is tossed toward the ropes, where he quickly tries to shake it off and roll to his feet. He turns around, absolutely livid, but as soon as he spins around, he eats a pair of knees directly to his fucking face! THE RAYNES OF CASTAMERE! DAN IS LAID OUT AND SHE MAKES THE COVER!
Joe Hoffman: I can’t believe it!
Mike Best: Ho…ly… shit.
Boettcher makes the count…
Dan Ryan is just barely unable to kick out, and the crowd loses their fucking mind!
DING DING DING
With the match over, Lindsay Troy barely gets to her feet, stumbling to the ropes as Matt Boettcher assists her, holding her arm in the arm. Her other arm clutches at her neck, and she celebrates her victory over Dan Ryan as HOW takes its final commercial break of the evening.
Back live and the lights begin to dim at the top of the entrance way as the horrible clattering and clanging that marks the beginning of “Money” by the Flying Lizards begins to boom over the speaker system, causing the highest levels of mild discomfort by all who dared remain in their seats after the main event. You may think these people foolish but actually, now they are getting a little Cecilworth, as a treat.
Out from backstage swaggers the man who had yet to be seen or heard from since his NINETY SEVEN MINUTE LONG Iron Man match with Dan Ryan at ICONIC. He is, I am told to remind you, one half of the Tag Team Champions with Max Kael, the longest reigning ICON champion in the history of High Octane Wrestling and the very man that twenty of the finest talents of the grappling industry are battling for a shot at, the HOW World Champion, Cecilworth M! J Farthington.
Looking rested and refreshed as if he’d been on a week long vacation with some form of unlimited drinks package, the ChampChamp (should be ChampChampChamp but Lee got his bald head involved) stands atop the ramp with a smile that would be measured in miles by most scienticians. The smile stays plastered on the Face of Farthington as he makes his way down to the ring, holding the HOW World Championship up high above the air on his saunter. His Tag Title Title is wrapped tightly around his waist. The crowd reaction has a combination of displeasure at the eMpire’s little Ceciopath coming out for a victory parade and begrudging respect of a man who not only survived but found himself victorious in one of the longest singles contests in wrestling history.
The World Champion scoots into the middle of the ring as grabs himself one of those talky sticks I’ve heard all the kids talking about. He lifts it up to his lips but pauses for a few moments to bask in his own glory. Feeling very proud of himself, he finally decides to drop some delicious words to the crowd.
Farthington: You know, there’s been a lot of surprises here tonight. Some welcome, some that disgust me to my very core, I will leave you to work out which are which. However, in such chaotic times, I felt it appropriate to calm the seas as it were and provide the little bit of… certainty.
Cecilworth proudly and longingly stares at his HOW World Championship that has been buffed up real good and proper for this television appearance.
Farthington: As we all march onwards to glory, we’ve already learned anything can happen during the Lee Best Invitational. Tonight, for some bizarre reason in a decision that I am certain will be overturned once the eMpire launches its legal case, my co-Tag Team Champion, the greatest wrestler of twenty nineteen and finest North Kaelrean general I have ever met, Max Kael, was cheated out of a clear and obvious victory against a drunken waste of space who does not belong here.
Cecilworth holds the back of his hand against his lips, faking a bit of dry retching at the idea of Max Kael’s loss. He spends a few seconds playing it up before readdressing the crowd.
Farthington: If that wasn’t enough, the coward who stole away my ICON title through the pathetic meddling of Lee Best and then came out here last week to BRAG about it… well, it looks like he has already hit a patch of rocky water in the invitational. I’ve said it on twitter dot com and I will say it again right now, Dan Ryan’s ONLY chance at fighting me again, EVER, is winning this tournament. He has had six chances in the ring against me, six chance, SIX, I cannot stress this number enough times. The landscape of HOW has changed, there are fresh faces, some are veterans here to re-establish their legacies, some are damn hungry rookies and you Dan Ryan, you now stand at the very back of the god damn line.
A few of the more rabid and inebriated fans start a small “BACK OF THE LINE” chant, which Cecilworth gives a polite nod towards.
Farthington: You’d think the High Octane landscape was crumbling with some of tonight’s victors but… as I said… certainty is finally here. The man who always delivers on his promises, the man who revived the value of this World Championship that rests upon my shoulder right now, the man who made the ICON Championship the most sought after belt in professional wrestling last year… something Dan Ryan is quickly doing a good job of destroying, may I add… I am here tonight to announce that High Octane’s long national nightmare is over. My new contract has been signed on the dotted line. Yes, you heard me right, the business genius brain that decided that Darin Zion should be HOW’s highest paid employee last year has finally started taking them brain pills he has drastically needed and shoved forth a piece of paper with a lot of zeros that I was very happy to agree to. There’s a few other perks too but that’s not what tonight is for. You’ll hear about those when you need to.
The World Champion gives what I could generously describe as a “cheeky wink” to the camera.
Farthington: Tonight is about the neighbourhood welcome. I had a prior engagement last week so I didn’t get a chance to formally introduce myself to all of Lee Best’s hot new thangs. So, for the Deacons, the Palmers, the Reddings, the Dickulousosities, the new blood who seem to not quite fully understand what their prize is should they come out of the LBI with their hand raised high. My name is Cecilworth M! J Farthington, I am the HOW World Champion. Look upon my twenty nineteen ye mighty and despair. The biggest names in the history of the industry keep stepping into the ring with me and finding out that we are in a very different era now. Maybe you want the bragging rights of winning this tournament rather than than the pot of gold at the end. I get that, I wouldn’t want to fight me either. That’s the thing about the EL BEE EYE, though, there aren’t twenty competitors, there are twenty one. This beautiful belt backed in the finest ninety seven red just means I’ve already punched my ticket to the final.
CM!JF holds the championship aloft once more.
Farthington: You can win your group, you can win the knockouts but that road, that road ends with me. If you want those bragging rights, if you want to say that you won the twenty twenty Lee Best Invitational then you have to defeat me at March to Glory and that’s… unfortunate for you. People keep thinking that surely, surely, somehow, some way, they will be the one to catch me, to trip me up, to catch me sleeping on the job. It’s nice to dream. When I won this championship, I made a vow, I had no intention of being a three, four, five time champion… I plan to be a one time champion. I plan for this belt to be buried with me and so far… that has held up pretty well. I won this belt in a brutal encounter in a prison infirmary. I slammed Joe Bergman’s head against a toilet so hard it took him months to have the courage to even stand in a High Octane ring again but he stood in the way of my legacy and what’s a touch of light attempted murder in the name of history. Last month, I stood in the ring with a hulking mound of meat for ninety seven minutes straight in a match that would have killed any average wrestler and yet I still stand alive and champion and our dear Egobuster finds his ego… busted.
Cecilworth chuckles at his own joke because of course he does, he’s that kind of person.
Farthington: The company needs certainty, I am that certainty.
The mildly concerning smile that is normally followed by Cecilworth attempting to break someone’s arm starts to creep across his face as the visions of LBI competitors dance across his brainmind. The smile curls into a scowl as the champ gets to his final agenda point for the evening.
Farthington: Now, with that said, I feel like I need to address the adorable little words that spewed forth from the mouth of the syphilitic old man who decided he wanted to get cute before my Iron Man match at ICONIC…
The microphone, and indeed the entire airing of Refueled, go dead.