Not so cold open.....
The High Octane Television logo fades out and we are welcomed live as we see a solo closeup of Joe Hoffman as he stares intently into the camera.
Joe Hoffman: A month and a half ago, the 2020 edition of the Lee Best Invitational kicked off at Refueled XIII. Over the next seven weeks, twenty wrestlers would compete in four groups with the winners of each group moving on to the semi-finals.
(Montage of wrestlers in the LBI)
–Alex Redding saunters forward, offering only a slide-glance to the paying public.
-“Perfect Insanity” by Disturbed cuts in as the HOW crowd roars for the former HOW World Champion Brian Hollywood.
-Tick Tick Ding IT’S TIME TO WIN! Teddy Palmer emerges on stage. Arms outstretched, he rips the hood from his sleeveless jacket down.
–James Ranger comes out, a slow smile creeps onto his face as he stops short of the ramp.
–Buck Yates enters the ring by wrestling underneath the bottom rope and circles the ring ungracefully with Percy (a pig’s head).
-“Lumberjack” by Jackyl begins to play and the ramp lights up in white as the giant form of Rick Dickulous emerges from the back.
–Crash Rodriguez slowly makes his way down the entrance ramp as an animation of his name plays on the HOV behind him.
-The Gregorian chant brings out Magdalena to the stage followed by the Deacon, his giant robed frame creating a backdrop.
-“For Whom the Bell Tolls” – Metallica blares over the PA System as Austin Reeves storms out from the backstage area rather angry.
-Smoke appears at the entrance as “COCHISE” by Audioslave hits the arena. Brenton Cross walks through the smoke, his eyes fixed on the ring.
-“All Aboard! AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA…” Parting the smoke is High Flyer, who stands confidently at the top of the entrance ramp.
-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.
-That all too familiar intro into “Tom Sawyer” by Rush hits as Warrick Hill emerges through the smoke.
– Star Wars: Emperor Palpatine’s Theme (Epic Dark Side Mix) plays as Max Kael stomps his way to the center of the ring before standing at attention.
-The opening clap-stomp beats of “Watch Me” by The Phantoms brings out Lindsay Troy through the curtain amidst a shower of pyro and cannon blasts.
-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.
-The Call’s “Let the Day Begin” plays as Joe Bergman walks out on the ramp. He pumps his first in the air and starts towards the ring.
-“Personal Yeezus” by Depeche Mode ft. Kanye West slaps fucking bass over the sound system, it’s sweet opening riffs heralding the arrival of the SON OF GOD, Michael Lee Best.
-‘HOW’s #1 Dad in the World!’ Steven Solex steps out from behind the curtain and onto the entrance ramp. He dribbles a soccer ball down the entrance ramp.
-Ring announcer Bryan McVay sees Chris Kostoff racing towards him and rolls out of the way. Kostoff then charges straight towards the Deacon in the corner.
Joe Hoffman: Now tonight, the winners of the four groups come together in two semi-final matches with the victors going on to meet in tonight’s main event. Which one of these four wrestlers will walk out of here tonight the winner of the Lee Best Invitational and earn a HOW World Title shot at March to Glory?
(Alex Redding spins around with a spinning heel kick that stuns Hollywood. He boots him in the stomach and gutwrenches him up and piledrives him . . .)
Joe Hoffman: Alex Redding faces off with his tag team partner Teddy Palmer . . .
(Palmer picks Mamba up, props him up on the rope and hits the Last Call straight to his chin. He pulls him to the center of the ring and makes the cover . . .)
Joe Hoffman: . . . as the Red and Ted Connection clash in the first semi-final. The winner will go on to face the survivor of the second semi-final match pitting two members of the Group of Death against each other when The Mother of God – The Queen of the Ring Lindsay Troy . . .
(Dan Ryan turns around, absolutely livid, and eats a pair of knees from Lindsay Troy directly to his fucking face! THE RAYNES OF CASTAMERE! DAN IS LAID OUT AND TROY MAKES THE COVER! . . .)
Joe Hoffman: . . . takes on the Lord Supreme Dictator, North Kaelrean General Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.
(Max Kael gives Cross a headbutt and Cross’s legs go rubbery. Max puts his hand across Cross to his shoulder – leaps – sits out – and brings the jaw of Cross down right on his shoulder . . .)
Joe Hoffman: Alex Redding. Teddy Palmer. Lindsay Troy. Max Kael. Which one of these four will win the Lee Best Invitational and face Cecilworth Farthington at March to Glory for the HOW World Title?
(Quick video shots of Redding, Palmer, Troy, and Kael appear one more time)
Joe Hoffman: Buckle your seatbelts and hold on tight, we are about to find out now.
With that we cut away to a video package of the Final Four…
Alex Redding vs. Teddy Palmer
As the video ends we cut directly to the ring announcer as its time for our first Semi Final match!
Bryan McVay: Our opening contest ..is an LBI Final Four round match and is scheduled for one fall!
Crowd: One fall!
The slick and sleazy opening riff of ‘Love Spreads’ by the Stone Roses hits the PA. The HOW faithful give a tentative reaction to the guy that overcame Hollywood in his first outing. We’re well into the open, and damn near the lyrics before a confident Grady Patrick, dressed impeccably and under his trademark bowler’s cap, strides forth. He’s breathing in the environment, and letting disappointment paint his face. He walks forward a-ways before pointing to the stage. Alexander Redding saunters forward, offering only a slide-glance to the paying public. The garish grin of the Joker splashed on the left leg of his MMA long shorts catches the eye before panning up to the Stone Temple Pilots tee. With a look that tells you all given-fucks could fit a thimble, he strides ringside.
Joe Hoffman: Both Alexander Redding and Teddy Palmer have overcome the odds in the LBI to get to this moment and they’re opening up Refueled XX.
Benny Newell: I can’t wait for 10 more episodes; we get to earn that third X. Hopefully Lee brings in strippers and lots of Jack Daniels. I got my $1 bills ready for that episode.
Joe Hoffman: Why aren’t you focused on this match? Two underdogs over came the odds. They came ready to fight tonight.
Benny Newell: They’re both stepping into the ring getting ready to be led to the slaughter house for tonight’s main event. They have to face the winner of Max Kael or Lindsay Troy. Both have been on quite the tear lately. They don’t know who they’re up against.
Joe Hoffman: Both have the privilege of wrestling first. They will have the most rest out of anyone in this tournament. You’re looking right past them like everyone else is.
Benny Newell: Quiet Hoff Hole! I know what I’m doing! Drink!
Bryan McVay: Introducing, from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada… The Willing Villain… ALEXANDER! REDDIIIINGG!
Reaching ringside, Red takes a lap around, ignoring the outreached hands, then slides in. He’s immediately to the ref for a short conversation/bullying session. Taking his place in a friendly corner, he lifts the tee off and drops the shirt to the floor. He rolls his neck, looking ready for this fight.
“WELCOME TO THE PARTY” BY DIPLO, FRENCH MONTANA & LIL PUMP projects through the arena’s PA system. The obnoxious beat reaches the point of lyrics, which coincides with Teddy Palmer’s emergence on the stage. Arms outstretched, his swagger brings him a few steps forward before he rips the hood from his sleeveless jacket down. His smile is that of confidence. His wink to the camera is that of cockiness. Each step forward is in rhythm with a slight head bob, his eyes scanning the aisleway audience. Ted avoids use of the steps in favour of rolling underneath the bottom rope. Hopping to his feet, he circles about the ring. Deciding on a corner, he pops himself up on the middle ropes, yelling out to the crowd. The words are loud, but inaudible due to the crowd noise and bouncing speakers. His fingers pointing at his chest give context, however, as we can assume he’s proclaiming greatness of sorts. But tonight, he looks straight at his partner Alexander Redding preparing for his moment in the spotlight.
Bryan McVay: Introducing, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada… TEDDDDDDDY PAAAAAAAALMER.
Teddy Palmer and Alexander Redding both shake hands. Matt Boettcher rings the bell to start the match. Redding and Palmer both look at each other and nod. They walk to the middle of the ring whispering in each other’s ears. They both extend their arms out for a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to start the match off. They both yell “Rock, Paper, Scissors, SHOOT.” Teddy Palmer smiles as he lands on rock! Nothing beats Rock! Until he looks over at Alexander Redding…
Joe Hoffman: Paper beats Rock, Benny…you think?
Benny Newell: Damn! I have to give Redding and Palmer credit here. Both men want to make end this match quick. That’s some spunk. Going straight into the lion’s den fresh, Joe. I can drink to that.
Teddy lies down in middle of the ring and Matt Boettcher makes the count…
Joe Hoffman: Holy crap! Reversal by Palmer!
Benny Newell: I knew these two rookies were too stubborn for their own good. They’re about to have a drag out, knock out style shoot fight in the look of their eyes. Do they know what they’re getting themselves into?
Joe Hoffman: They do, Benny! This is the LBI! We’re about to see a classic out of these Young Lions.
Redding looks pissed at Palmer for not sticking to the agreed finish. He immediately kips up to his feet to attempts a superkick, but Palmer flips him around and launches him with a snap German Suplex. Redding struggles to his feet. Palmer goes for the second in the hat trick, but Redding flips to his feet. He hits him with a DDT stiffly towards the mat. Redding grabs Palmer and locks in a headlock. Palmer slowly claws over to the ropes and Boettcher starts the five count to break the hold. Redding moves away as the both align back into the center of the ring.
Both Palmer and Redding lock up. Redding tries to slide a sleeper on Palmer, but Palmer Irish Whips Redding into the ropes. Redding bounces back and gets caught with a devastating Belly to Belly Suplex. Palmer goes for the cover, but only get a two count. Redding’s now dazed and confused. He struggles towards the ropes to regain his composure. Palmer charges at him trying to hit a bulldog, but Redding ducks. Redding races towards Palmer and takes him down with a Running STO. He locks in the Stereotype Sharpshooter, but Palmer pushes him sending him flying face first into the turnbuckle.
Joe Hoffman: This fast-paced match continues as Palmer charges towards his brother in arms, Alexander Redding and DEAR JESUS! Redding leaps up and hits a sunset flip. Boettcher with the count.
Benny Newell: DRINK! Palmer’s got his shoulder up. Both these men are making it harder for the next round. And I love it. It’s pure chaos!
Joe Hoffman: Absolutely! They’re proving they can hang in their Final Four match.
Redding wipes the sweat off his face, still in shock his partner keeps coming back for more. He leaps back to his feet and hits a stiff flapjack on Palmer. Palmer rolls to the outside to get some rest. Redding slides towards the outside. Palmer rushes over towards him, but Redding executes a perfect AA Spinebuster driving his partner’s back against the mat. Boettcher starts the count, but Redding wastes no time. He tosses Palmer back into the ring at the count of 5. He gradually pulls himself back up to the ropes, but Palmer seizes him and hits a suplex, slamming Redding’s back stiff against the ring. Palmer lifts Redding up and nails a Butterfly Suplex. Redding struggles to the ropes, Palmer pulls him back in the center of the ring for the Heel Hook. Redding inches closer towards the ropes. His finger tips get inches away from the ropes….
Benny Newell: That heartless bastard! I’ve underestimated Palmer. He’s pulled his best friend back center of the ring. He’s going to break Redding’s foot trying to win.
Joe Hoffman: You hope it’s going to snap like your arm did against Cecilworth a few weeks ago, don’t you?
Benny Newell: Shut up, drink, and call this match!
Redding begins to fade away due to the pain. Boettcher goes to check on him, but Redding’s adrenaline pushes him through. He pulls himself up and swings his foot into Palmer’s jaw landing a messy Enzuigiri. Both men lie on the mat for the count of 8 before Redding gets his second wind and gets back to his feet before Palmer does. Redding’s eyes widen. He’s looking to end this match. He rushes over to Palmer and picks him up to hit the Grady Special III, but Palmer reverses it into a Huricanarana. Palmer motions for a Top Rope Elbow Drop, but Redding rolls out of the way. After catching his breath, Redding capitalizes by grabbing his partner’s hand and attempting the Red Dead….
Joe Hoffman: Teddy saw it coming! Teddy saw it coming. Alex Redding just got racked by his partner to reverse that move.
Benny Newell: HOLY HELL! Someone get my Jack Daniels because I felt that from here. But sometimes you gotta do what you must to win!
Teddy shakes his head as Redding’s lying on the floor. He whispers “I’m Sorry” as he rushes towards his best friend with full force. He leaps straight up in the air and nails the UnscripTED on the back on Redding’s neck with a sickening thud, much to the delight of the HOW crowd. He rolls over his best friend and Matt Boettcher counts…
DING DING DING DING!
Bryan McVay: Here is your winner of our opening match….and advancing to the finals of the LBI: TEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDY PALMER!!!!!!!!
Joe Hoffman: Teddy’s got a big challenge tonight as he wrestles the winner of our next match. He put his heart and soul out on the line for this spot.
Benny Newell: Will that be the stupidest move of his career? The Group of Death doesn’t fuck around here, Joe. Lots of heart and soul laid into our opening contest. We know they’re dangerous!
Joe Hoffman: Right, but for now, we celebrate Teddy’s big win! Can he do the impossible and overcome the odds?
After Matt Boettcher raises Teddy’s hand, He walks over to Redding and raises his hand out of respect. Both men embrace and celebrate Teddy’s win as we fade to the back for our first segment of the night.
Flesh and Blood
The first LBI semi-final match is in the books, and what a storied affair it was. From the ring, Refueled heads backstage to a hallway not far from the entranceway, where two schemers huddle together, talking softly.
Lindsay Troy runs her hands over her forearms, settling the last of her arm tape into place and trying to focus before her fight against fellow Group of Death-er, Max Kael. Beside her is Michael Lee Best, wearing a Batman t-shirt with the HOW ICON Championship draped casually over his shoulder. The Son of GOD gestures with his hands, pantomiming movements and making strategy suggestions, while the Queen nods along, occasionally chuckling.
It’s not long before footsteps thud toward them, and the heavy sound of mechanical breathing interrupts their conversation. Michael turns toward the noise and comes face-to-face with his adopted brother, The Lord Supreme Dictator.
Max Kael: What have we here? MORE SECRETS???
Max’s good eye flicks between Mike and Lindsay. For her part, Troy keeps a neutral expression, having only recently gotten on better terms with Max in the days leading up to Refueled, thanks to an impromptu training session between them in Tampa. Mike, on the other hand, offers his brother a guilty smile.
Mike Best: Oh… hey, Max.
The Lord Supreme Dictator leers at his brother, narrowing his eye in suspicion.
Max Kael: Do not “oh, hey Max” me, Michael. Are you– are you offering inside information on my weaknesses and stratagems to the my opponent I am your FLESH AND BLOOD!
Mike Best: You’re literally my adopted brother. But yes… we’re match planning. We have to cover our bases, Max. It’s a big night.
Lindsay Troy: (wincing) I told you we should’ve done this in a Discord PM, Mike.
Max Kael: A POX ON YOUR DISCORD, WOMAN.
Lindsay sighs. So much for the slight goodwill built between them. Perhaps the disappointment shows on her face, as Max does soften some immediately after his outburst.
Max Kael: Oh relax, I said on your Discord. Not upon you. I wish you luck tonight and blah blah blah so glad we’re in the Group of Death. This is about the ACCORDS, not the DISCORDS. Heh heh heh… the betrayer must answer for his betrayals. So you know, uh, answer for them. Now.
Mike Best: I’m sorry, Max. What do you want me to say? You’ve won like ninety seven LBIs. This is her first one. Who cares who wins, as long as the Group of Death wins the LBI? We need you to be a team player, buddy. Let’s just get through March to Glory, get past all this in-fighting, and look ahead to War Ga–
The growl from Max’s mask is sinister, and his eyebrows furrow resentfully.
Max Kael: THIN ICE, MICHAEL. The ice you walk upon is thin. So thin that it might crack. And that crack might open into a WIDER CRACK! And there is water beneath that ice, dear brother. Cold, cold water. Water that you are only currently separated from by a crack. Water cold enough that a man can freeze and drown. Water so cold that it will suffocate the air from one’s lungs, should they take the wrong step and plunge through that ice. That thin, thin ice. That cold, forgiving, cracking, THIN–
Max stops talking, as he realizes that in the time it took him to build his ominous monologue, Michael and Lindsay have literally walked away. Beneath the respirator, you can almost see the deepening scowl wash over his face.
Max Kael: Thin… ice. Where’s ma’ goddamned ICON Title match, Mike?
Max is left standing perplexed, as Refueled heads elsewhere within the Allstate Arena.
Changing of the Mask (?)
We cut backstage and in front of a brick wall, Brian Bare leans around the corner eyeing the front of a building at least a block wide. Donned in a winter jacket, his collar up to protect from the March winds that somehow doesn’t even move his perfect hair. The wind does impact the camera’s microphone, the crackling drowning out whatever Brian’s saying. He turns & his eyes say all that needs saying?.
Brian Bare: What are you doing? We can’t walk in there recording. Bare shakes his head. They want Blaire for the cupcake work? Running from one silly interview to another throughout the arena? As long as her tits can take it, fine. I’m going to be their investigative reporter, starting with this. No more mysteries for the Mute Freak Deacon.
Mumbling can be heard from behind the camera.
Brian Bare: I’m telling you, he’s in there. Been in there. More mumbling. I don’t care what he’s doing; it’s something that people don’t know, but they’re going to. Dude runs out on the business 7 years ago then shows back up unannounced. That doesn’t just happen. There’s a story here, and I’m gonna find it. Now, put your phone away. I’ll tell you when to get it.
The screen goes black and when it comes back on, Brian is in a room surrounded by cleaning equipment, a single light above his head and a door behind his back. He gives his winning smile.
Brian Bare: This is Brian Bare of High Octane Wrestling with a special investigative report. After a 7 years absence, the man known as the Deacon left his relatively obscure life to return to the wrestling industry with our own High Octane Wrestling. I sought to learn his secrets from Magdalena to no avail. Jack Dawson did a special interview with Magdalena and learned nothing more than that she and Deacon share close ties as religious fanatics from the dangerous Middle East. Brian offers a nod. Both Jack & I made a crucial error – Magdalena can’t produce the answers; we needed the Deacon who is her–
The door behind him opens. A plump, blond nurse screams, dropping a tray to clatter on the floor.
Brian Bare: Uh… was looking for the bathroom.
Nurse: You scared the… wait, what are you two doing? She looks to her right and leans back to look down the hall. Meredith! Call security! We got another one.
Brian tries to walk around her. She blocks his path then looks at the camera.
Nurse: And filming it? Good heaven, y’all disgusting!
Brian pushes through, the nurse slamming against the door frame as he runs into the light of the hallway. The camera guy holds his arm out, steadying her.
Off-screen: Sorry… it’s really not what you think.
Brian Bare: Let’s go!
The camera shakes out of the broom closet and into the brightly painted hallway before crashing into Brian’s back who’s standing straight against a giant’s chest.
Brian Bare: It’s him, isn’t it? The camera backs up. Bare glances back to the camera then takes a step back, forcing the cameraman to take another step, allowing a very unhappy Deacon into the frame wearing a mask of a different kind – a simple medical one. Brian swallows then straightens his coat before looking way up to the 7 footer. If I could have a moment of your ti–
Three nurses and two security guards break into view, their hospital ID tags swinging with excitement a moment before impact is made, the camera clatters to the ground, and everything goes to black as we head to commercial.
Back live and HOV comes to life and we see a recorded video begin to play….
White paint pierces out of the dark brown sign that hangs over the entrance of a covered bridge, announcing its name and birth year.
WATSON MILL BRIDGE
The structure traverses several feet away from an eight foot waterfall to the right of our view. On the calmer side across the bridge, an individual sits in a fold-out camping chair with a fishing pole propped loosely in his hands. A periodic blues guitar strum accompanies the scene, keeping consistent with the “good ol’ country boy” atmosphere that attempts to set the mood.
There is a quick fade, and we find ourselves just a few short feet away from the man. His faded denim is accented by grass stains on the knees, and a pair of light brown wedge boots also appear to have seen better days. A royal blue hoodie reading “OGLETHORPE COUNTY WRESTLING” in red athletic font hangs loosely off of his torso. A mesh-backed cap from the yesteryear of Nascar advertises the logo of Levi Garrett Racing, covering a thick mop of brown hair. The brim of the hat is pulled down low to cover his entire forehead.
A small styrofoam minnow bucket flanks his left, and a partially-empty bottle of Diet Mountain Dew rests in the chair’s built-in cupholder. “Partially-empty” may not be the best description, though: upon inspection of the sides of the bottle, it appears to be serving as a makeshift spittoon for the can of Copenhagen in the opposite cupholder.
A graphic flashes onto the screen for a brief few seconds, providing us with an informal introduction to the subject: Zeb Martin.
Zeb Martin: Y’ever make your way down here to North Georgia, I don’t recommend comin’ tuh Watson’s Mill fer the fishin’. Bucket of minners here is just for show. Shore ain’t doin’ me any good puttin’ em on the hook.
His drawl could be accurately described in the same vein as if it were an order of Waffle House hashbrowns. Unlike most hick film tropes, he did not speak in a slow cadence: it was genuinely authentic, deep fried and heavily buttered.
Zeb Martin: State park, so you cain’t even drank a coldbeer neither. Naw, this ain’t where you want tuh come cast a line. Been comin’ here since I was a youngin’, though. Just a nice place tuh sit and do some thinkin’, remember when thangs weren’t so complicated. That’s why I still come out here, I reckon. Rod ‘n reel just a way tuh make it look like I ain’t just out here tuh do drugs or sumptin. Or look like a dern lunatic, talkin’ to himself.
While not a full-on turn, he glances slightly upward and grins knowingly to the camera. Despite the rustic stubble, there was still plenty of youth on his face. At least the part we could see.
Zeb Martin: Been out here every day the past week. Know a lot of old folks who’ll swear up and down that they ain’t never took a notion tuh want to get out of the sticks, that they ain’t never wondered what life woulda been like if they’d done went and made sumptin more for ‘emselves. They all just spinnin’ a yarn, tellin’ tall tales. Every damn boy and girl ever lived in a trailer or beat up old house from here wanted tuh get the hell out of this place and make a lil’ more money. Make a lil’ better life for them and the family.
Putting a little tighter grip on the pole, Zeb begins to reel the line back in rapidly.
Zeb Martin: Them old folks I see every mornin’ down at the Bread Basket in Colbert…
He pauses instinctively. His pronunciation of that word (“CALL-BERT”) is much different than the shared last name of the late night talk show host.
Zeb Martin: Sorry ‘bout that. Reckon we got a different way with sayin’ thangs down here. Meant the town, not the actor. Anyway, them men eatin’ biscuits and rantin’ and ravin’ about how youngins ‘don’t know they got it so good,’ they prolly uh get a good laugh if they see this. I get tuh leave Georgia, but I ain’t done nothin’ since I got the call up ‘cept come here and remember the past.
As the line exits the water, Zeb sighs at the empty hook. Either the bass had bitten the bait and got away, or the minnow wriggled itself free. He sets the pole down next to the bucket and reclines back into the chair.
Zeb Martin: Truth is I’m scared. Near shitless. ‘Cause now that I got my ticket out, I gotta do ever’thang I can tuh make dang sure that if I come back, it’s just tuh pay a visit. Livin’ in Chicago might not end up bein’ all it’s cracked up tuh be, but it damn shore beats bein’ twenty and still sharin’ a bedroom with yer kin. All the shakin’ and uncertainty in the world ain’t worth lettin’ myself down. So, I’ll be seein’ y’all, High Octane. I’m Zeb Martin, and I look forward to ‘rasslin ya real soon.
With that the video ends and we go live to the announce team for our next Semi Final match.
Max Kael vs. Lindsay Troy
The ominous opening to “My World Now” by 7kingZ blasts through the speakers as a mixed reaction from the High Octane Faithful heralds the GOD Queen of HOW to the stage. Lindsay Troy strolls out amidst a shower of pyro and cannon blasts, the picture of confidence, not a single fuck to be had. She takes a moment to bask in the ovation and the pyro, then makes her way down the ramp as spotlights follow her path. Troy keeps her eyes focused on the ring, waving her hand dismissively at any fans who hurl insults in her direction. At the bottom of the ramp, she hops flat-footed onto the apron, slips between the ropes, and saunters over to a corner to scale the turnbuckles and pose a bit before the match begins.
Brian McVay: Introducing first, hailing from Tampa, Florida. And weighing in at one-hundred, ninety-five pounds. LIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNDDDSSSSSSAAAAAAYYYYYY TRRRRRRRROOOOYYYYYYYY!
The sounds of Palpatine fill the arena as Max Kael steps out from behind the curtain. Flanked by a couple of North Kaelraen soldiers, Kael makes his way down the entrance ramp. Kael waves, prestigiously, to the fans in attendance before sliding under the bottom rope and sending his temporary lackies to the backstage area.
Brian McVay: And her opponent. From North Kaelrea! Weighin two-hundred, thirty pounds. He is the current LSD Champion and one half of the tag team champions. The Leader of North Kaelrea…MMAAAAAAXXXXX KAAAAAAAEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!
Joe Hoffman: This is a helluva a semi-final match here, as two members of the Group of Death square off to determine who will advance to the finals of the Lee Best Invitational.
Referee Joel Hortega calls for the bell as Kael and Troy begin to circle on another in the ring. Troy motions for Kael to come at her and the two lock up in the center of the ring. Troy takes the immediate advantage by securing Kael’s head and neck in a side-headlock. Kael attempts to break the hold, but is unsuccessful in his attempt as Troy grits her teeth and squeezes with all her might. Kael flails his arms, but eventually backs himself and his opponent against the ropes, and using the momentum of the bounce pushes Troy against the opposite side ropes. The two collide in the center of the ring with a double shoulder block. Kael stands firm as Troy falls flat on her back in the center of the ring. Kael quickly follows up with an elbow and quick cover. Hortega is quick to slide in for the count.
Joe Hoffman: First cover of the match by Max Kael!
Joe Hoffman: Troy shows some early resilience with that kickout.
Troy is able to quick out just after the count of two, and quickly slides out from underneath the North Kaelraen. Troy tries to spring to her feet, but as she gets to a foot and knee, Kael viciously punches her in the side of the head. Troy looks a bit woozy as she wobbles in place, but she is able to get underneath her other foot and stand in the center of the ring. Kael shows no pause in his aggression, and quickly clobbers her across the side of the head with another stiff punch. Troy stumbles backward and into the corner, with Kael in close pursuit. Kael rears back for another closed fist punch, but this time Troy is able to halt his attack with a kick to the midsection. Kael doubles over, but for only a moment as he rears back to throw another punch.
Benny Newell: BOOO! YEEAAAHHH!
Joe Hoffman: sigh
Troy sees it coming again, and once more plants a boot into Kaels stomach. Kael doubles over again, but this time he has no chance to recover as Troy lets out an animalistic grunt and floors him with a clothesline. Kael lands more on his head and neck than back, and Troy seizes her opportunity to take the offensive momentum away from Kael by planting a couple of downward stomps into Kael’s chest. Kael holds his chest as Troy continues her assault of boots, but suddenly Kael catches a boot, and gnaws at Troy’s ankle with a vicious bite. Joe Hortega begins his count of five as Troy pleads with him to break the hold. Troy realizes her position quickly, and drives the sole of her boot into the side of Kael’s face, forcing him to release the bite.
Joe Hoffman: Dirt move by Kael, but it proves mildly effective!
Benny Newell: What was dirty?
Joe Hoffman: He was biting…never mind.
Troy shouts a few inaudible, but stern words at Kael while waving her finger in his face. Troy grabs Kael by the neck and lifts his to his feet, landing a few stiff right hands of her own as she brings him up. Troy throws Kael off the ropes and when Kael returns Troy plants a boot into his stomach and drives his head into the canvas with a tripping DDT. Kael bounces from the mat and lands on his back. Troy quick climbs over top of him and makes her first cover of the match as Joel Hortega slides in for the count.
Joe Hoffman: Great sequence for Lindsay Troy! Referee Joel Hortega with the count!
Kael is able to get his right shoulder up at about the count of two, as Hortega shows two fingers to Troy. Troy is unfazed by the unsuccessful pinning attempt and quickly gets to her feet, and climbs the top turnbuckle. Without hesitation Troy leaps from the top rope and crushes Kael with a frog splash. Troy bounces up off of her opponent on impact, and holds her stomach as she rolls over to her back. But again, Troy is quick to her feet. However, she appears to be a bit stunned from the impact of the maneuver she just landed on Kael, and she stumbles backward into the corner. Kael slowly begins to get to his feet, and Troy pushes off the tope ropes in the corner, putting herself on the second rope. Just as Kael gets to his feet, Troy leaps into the air, and attempts a hurricanrana from the second rope, but Kael is able to hold her in tight and doesn’t allow her to execute the move. Kael spins her around and plants her into the canvas with a sitout powerbomb.
Benny Newell: Airplane ride! That’s what friends do!
Joe Hoffman: How much Jack do you have left, Benny?
Benny Newell: Not enough, Hoffhole!
Kael is unable to make the cover, however, and Troy begins to stir around. Both competitors slowly climb to their feet and once there, they stand across from each other, both of them wobbly but standing. Kael attacks first with a right hand to Troy’s face, but she is quick to reply with a right hand of her own. Kael throws another punch that lands, and Troy is momentarily down to a knee. Troy throws another right hand, and the two go one-for-one. Kael stumbles backward as Troy’s right hand connects, but without warning Kael charges forward and tackles Troy down to the mat. Blatantly, Kael uses both hands to strangle Troy from the full mount.
Joe Hoffman: Max Kael up to his dirty tricks, but Lindsay is working on something!
But Troy, using her BJJ experience allows Kael to think he has the advantage as she pushes Kael’s knee back and shrimps out from underneath the mount and pulls max into her guard. Troy secures Kael’s right wrist as her eyes begin to well up from the lack of oxygen. Troy spins her body underneath Kales, and isolates his right arm with her legs and drives him flat onto his back as she locks in an arm bar.
Joe Hoffman: What a reversal by Lindsay Troy!
Benny Newell: Strangling mofos is Max Kael’s strong suit. He’ll get it back!
Kael immediately recognizes the danger he’s in and squirms himself toward the ropes. Troy retaliates by planting a few stiff kicks into the side of his head, rendering Kael still, but only for a moment as he climbs to his feet. Troy wrenches back and arches her hips, bending Kael’s elbow the opposite direction. Kael stacks her up however, by leaning his weight onto her legs, and then with all of the strength he can muster, lifts her into the air.
Benny Newell: Another airplane ride! Lindsay Troy is one lucky lady!
Joe Hoffman: Quiet Benny, she won’t be lucky for long!
Kael holds Troy high in the air as she tries to regain control of his arm, but Kael begins to run and buck bombs her into the corner. Troy stumbles out of the corner and right into WMD!
Joe Hoffman: WMD! WMD!
Kael makes the cover and Joe Hortega slides in for the count…
The sounds of Palpatine echo throughout the arena as Hortega calls for the bell.
Joe Hoffman: Max Kael has advanced to the finals of the LBI! What a match!
Benny Newell: The Group of Death reigns supreme!
Joe Hoffman: That was inevitable, Benny!
Benny Newell: Shut your fuckin’ trap, Hofftits!
Max gets to his feet and stares down at his stablemate as Hortega hoists his arm into the air as the scene fades backstage.
What the man said....
Tonight was going to be a busy evening for HOW’s trainers. With the LBI Final Four Wars taking place, last week’s reformation of HATE and their heinous actions, and the newfound aggression emanating from the rapidly growing Tag Team Division, Lee Best had every reason to have multiple ambulances paid for and on stand by.
In a stroke of luck coming out of our first semi final match up, neither Alexander Redding or Teddy Palmer were on route to the closest ‘local medical facility’. That being said, it wasn’t all rosy for the main event and our dynamic duo: Redding lays on the floor with bags of ice taped to his shoulder and neck, Palmer sits in a folding chair beside him, wincing as the medical student finishes her examination of him.
Teddy Palmer: Hell of a match…
Alexander Redding: Yeah, let’s not do this again anytime soon.
His chest heaves up and down letting a short laugh out, before the uniced arm moves to his ribs.
Alexander Redding: Laughing hurts.
Done with the once over of Ted, the mid-twenties med-student pulls the gloves off, and shoots them over Red to the basket in the corner. She gives a meaningful look to the two man stable, hinting to the warning she gave them prior to us joining them. Standing up, she takes her leave back to where she could expect one of, mostly likely both of Troy and Kael in short order.
Teddy Palmer: Don’t worry about it. They say it’s the best medicine…
Red props himself upward, using the concrete wall as a back rest, seated beside Ted. This right here is the very moment these two have been dreading for weeks now. Amongst them, one winner, one loser. One dream lives on, for now at least, while the other has died. You can feel the hurt both men are experiencing in what surely is one of their toughest shared experiences.
Victory just doesn’t taste quite as sweet this time around for Teddy Palmer.
Teddy Palmer: This…it just sucks…
Alexander Redding: It’s all good man.
Red slaps Ted on the knee, half saying ‘we’re good’, half saying ‘let’s move on’.
Teddy Palmer: You still got my back, right?
Alexander Redding: It’s gonna take a lot more than this for me not to. Bros before Tournament Finals and World Title shots, or something along those lines. That doesn’t work, but you know what I mean.
Teddy Palmer: Figured as much.
Redding slides up the wall, dropping his ice pack to the ground. Stretching his neck side to side, he looks down at Palmer who in turn has yet to look at him.
Alexander Redding: Ted, it’s time to move on man. Get in the right mind. Be happy about this. You’re in the finals. Just finish it off now. Win this thing.
Ted finally looks over at Red, letting out a slight forced grin while nodding at his running mate. It’s at this moment that Blaire Moise enters the frame, microphone in hand. Usually her presence would be enough to perk Ted right up, but not this time.
Blaire Moise: Teddy, Congratulations on what had to be a tough victory, both from a physical standpoint as well as a psychological standpoint.
Ted purses his lips, furls his brow, and nods as a means of saying ‘Thank You’.
Blaire Moise: But now, you need to refocus on Troy/Kael, who just moved onto tonight’s finals. What are your thoughts on that match up, especially knowing the other four members of GoD surely will be lurking around with a vested interest?
Ted delays any form of a response, letting the silence linger between them. He stands from his chair, shares a knowing glance with Red, before turning and smiling at Blaire.
Teddy Palmer: My thoughts? Fuck Troy/Kael. Fuck GoD. Tonight I do the unthinkable. Tonight I win the Lee Best Invitational.
Ted walks out of frame, Blaire left standing with her mic in hand. Getting very little from the usually talkative Teddy Palmer, she looks to Alex Redding for a further sound byte. Red leans his face over the mic and looks straight into the camera.
Alexander Redding: What the man said.
Pure. Fucking. Gold
As we fade in, standing just outside the 24K Suite at All State Arena, is Mikey Unlikely and Perfection. Both men sport professional looks. They stand with Brian Bare, HOW Backstage reporter. The ever experienced High Octane employee opens up the interview segment.
Brian Bare: Ladies and Gentlemen at this time I’m joined by two representatives of 24K. Mikey Unlikely and Perfection.
Mixed reaction from the fans in attendance.
Brian Bare: We found out last week that at March To Glory coming up next week, All four members of 24K would be competing in what can only be described as team warfare! 5 Tag teams competing for the biggest prize in High Octane, the Tag Team Championships.. What are your thoughts?
Mikey and James share a look, Mikey proceeds first.
Mikey Unlikely: What you and everyone else out there needs to understand is the 24K and The Hollywood Bruvs are one united team… This match is going to help us achieve one of the goals we’ve had since we set foot in High Octane. To become the High Octane Tag Team Champions.
Perfection: Plain and simple, it doesn’t matter who walks out with the titles amongst us. Only that two of us go home with fat gold on our waists.
Mikey Unlikely: The fact that we get to take them off of the former eMpire is just a sweet add on. Sure we know it’s not going to be easy, We’ve got five different tag teams in there. Red and Ted have proven week in and week out they are top competitors here in High Octane, just look at what we saw in the Lee Best invitational! I can’t take anything away from them.
Brian Bare: With the way this is set up, you don’t know if the eGG Bandits or the Turn It Up Express will be in the tag match, do you have a preference?
Perfection nods thoughtfully.
Perfection: You act like we have a choice in what who want. We don’t have the same luxury like GoD to pick and choose our fate. If. The eGg Bandits get in so be it, been there done it. Have the history. If Turn It Up Express ends up in the match, good. So be it. Another tag team to prove our collective dominance against in that ring.
Brian Bare: With a brand new tag team forming and being added to the match, what do you think of the tag team of HATE! Scottywood and the returning Damien Ryan?
Mikey Unlikely: In order to make waves in HOW, we need to beat established names in HOW! Scottywood and Damien Ryan have both been staples in High Octane. They have been here for quite some time and have both forged their own legacy, now they will do so as a team… Imagine, not only winning tag gold, but beating some of the biggest names in HOW history in just one night! That would really put us on the map.
Brian Bare: Let’s talk about the champions… We know Dan Ryan will be in the match to defend the championships, what we don’t know is if his partner will be Max Kael, or Lindsay Troy…. It all depends on how this tournament shakes out! What are your thoughts?
Mikey Unlikely: One of the reasons we were brought in under FAT salaries by Lee Best, was to help take care of the Industry and the eMpire. As I mentioned prior, It was nice of the Industry to do half the work for us…That’s not to say that we’re done with Jack Harmen and MJ Flair, they will still get theirs. BUT RIGHT NOW we have the chance to beat any combination of the supergroup that wants to step in the ring with 24K. That sounds good with me. They won’t just have to beat the Bruvs but they will have to beat all four of us.Like it or not, 24K has a distinct advantage in this one.
Perfection: Brian, we’re not just here in the Triple One tonight shaking hands, kissing babies, taking selfies. We get the unique chance to watch two tag teams that might stand in our way to claiming the biggest tag team belts in this industry. While they bust their fucking balls, we’ll be busting open champagne. No matter the outcome of tonight it doesn’t change the fact that we’re going to turn March to Glory into Pure. Fucking. Gold.
The pair head back to the suite as Brian Bare closes the interview.
Brian Bare: Alright folks that’s it from 24K! They are primed and focused on the upcoming Tag Team Title Match at March to Glory! Lets head to our next commercial break…
Scott Stevens vs. Black Mamba
As we come back from commercial break we see the Hall of Fame team ready for the next highly anticipated match up.
Joe Hoffman: Next up is a match up that has some personal feelings involved as James Ranger takes on Scott Stevens.
Benny Newell: Personal feelings my ass Hoffman. Mamba did something unforgivable and he paid the price for it.
Joe Hoffman: Whatever the case may be, the point is Ranger and Stevens had been tag partners the last two shows and they came up short against the Bruvs and Andy Murray and Perfection.
Benny Newell: If you noticed Hoffman, Mamba was pinned in both matches but he knew Stevens wanted Murray, but he said he got it and he got pinned for his arrogance.
Bryan McVay: This match is scheduled for ONE! FALL! With a twenty-minute time limit. Introducing first, in the ring and hailing from London, England and weighing in at 200 lbs…..he is JAMES RANGER! BLAAAAAAACK! MAAAAAAAMBAAAAAAA!
The crowd gives Black Mama a warm reception as he paces back and forth like a caged animal waiting to pounce.
“Dead Man Walking” by Crucifix ft. The Lacs
The video screen lights up and flashes across the screen a Texas flag, with the words, “Texas Born. Texas Bred.” “Texas Forever.“ branded into the flag. The cheers that had once filled the arena quickly turn into jeers. The crowd knows who is about to walk out and they are letting him know it by chanting his favorite chant as the final image that is displayed across the screen is a giant hand that slowly closes into a FIST as letters slowly appear and form a message and that message reads in bold, capitalized letters… SCOTT STEVENS.
Bryan McVay: And his opponent, representing the Great State of Texas, from Houston, Texas and weighing in at 256lbs, he is….HOW CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER. SCOTTTTTTTTTTTTT STEEEEEEEEEEEVENSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
The Texan comes sprinting out and slides into the ring and immediately goes after Mamba, but has to be restrained by Matt Boettcher.
Benny Newell: Let them fight Bitcher!
Joe Hoffman: Stevens not wasting anytime as he wants to get his hands on Ranger
Stevens and Mamba continue to talk trash to one another as McVay gets out of the ring and Matt Boettcher calls for the bell.
Joe Hoffman: And here we go…..
Stevens and Mamba both come out of their corners and begin trading right hands.
Joe Hoffman: Looks like this is going to be a slugfest.
Stevens delivers a massive European uppercut to Ranger before driving a knee to the gut of Mamba driving all the air from his lungs.
Joe Hoffman: Mamba just got the wind knocked out of him.
Stevens grabs the left arm of Ranger and whips him towards the ropes only for Mamba to reverse it. As Stevens comes back on the rebound, Mamba lifts up the Texan and drives his knee into the nether regions.
Joe Hoffman: Inverted atomic drop.
As Stevens drops to a knee, Mamba runs towards the Texan as delivers a kick to the side of the head.
Joe Hoffman: Running enzuigiri by Ranger and Stevens is now on all fours.
Benny Newell: What the fuck is going on?!?!?!?
Mamba sees an opening as Stevens gets to all fours as he gains momentum by hitting the ropes and looks to deliver his scissors kick.
Joe Hoffman: Final Execution….NO!!!!!!!!!
Stevens is able avoid the ax kick and as Mamba turns around he sees a waiting Scorpion.
Joe Hoffman: DOUBLE S SPINEBUSTER!
Stevens’ expression on his face is that of full blown hatred as he stares down at Ranger and yells….
Scott Stevens: GET THE FUCK UP!!!!!!!!!!!
Stevens delivers a sickening superkick to the side of Mamba’s face.
Joe Hoffman: Remember the Alamo Superkick by Stevens.
Mamba doubles over into a bowing position and Stevens hits the ropes and delivers a vicious curb stomp as Mamba’s face is driven into the canvas.
Benny Newell: Biting the curb! DRINK!
Stevens quickly places Mamba’s head between his legs and lifts him up and holds him up letting the blood rush to his head before spiking him into the mat.
Joe Hoffman: Spike piledriver!
Benny Newell: Good job Hoffman and you didn’t even have to check Stevenspedia for the answer.
Stevens crawls into a cover and drives his forearm into Mamba’s face as Boettcher begins his count.
Boettcher calls for the bell.
Bryan McVay: And your winner by pinfall, he is….HOW CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER. SCOTTTTTTTTTTTTT STEEEEEEEEEEEVENSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
Boettcher goes to raise the hand of Stevens, but the Texan yanks it away. Stevens looks at Mamba one final time before exiting the ring as we cut backstage.
The Bandit’s locker room.
It looks as you might have guessed. Eggs everywhere. A giant mirror for Jiles to check his perfect hair. A bunch of hand rails for Doozer. An assortment of fruits and veggies for Bobby to snack on.
The three men are gathered around the mirror, although it’s not The Mongoloid Slayer who takes center stage.
Cancer Jiles: It’s time to show High Octane what it’s like to be a Bandit! Sure we have had a bit of a rough patch here in the past, but we’re the eGG fucking Bandits. We don’t ask. We just do. And tonight will be no eggseption!
Doozer: You might want to work on your phrasing there buddy.
Bobby Dean: Meh, if you make the hole small enough you can have sex with just about anything.
Cancer and Doozer take a second to look at the innocently smiling Bobby Dean, unable to tell if he’s joking or serious.
Speaking of Bobby Dean, there he is, standing in front of the mirror, adorned in his blue feather robe. His laces are tied tight. His overly small, blue trunks snuggle his package in just the right way. Most importantly, his smile spreads from ear to ear.
Bobby Dean: Not gonna lie, feeling pretty good right now, guys. It hasn’t been easy getting here!! But dammit here we are! I’m gonna squash those two!!!
Bobby lets out a childish chuckle as the excitement of tonight’s match overwhelms him. His joy is infectious as his partners in crime can’t help but grin, proudly basking in the glory of their large friend.
Cancer Jiles: Looking good Bobbo! Ready to show the High Octane world what the new and improved Bobby Dean’s got for them!
Doozer: Very svelte!
Bobby Dean: Feeling svelte Dooze! Whatever that means. It sure feels good!
Doozer: It means skin… You know what, never mind.
Cancer Jiles: Should I start to feel bad for these Express guys? You know, going in there against a hungry Bobby Dean, and a determined Doozer! They ought to be shaking in their boots right about now, uh champ!?
Cancer steps up and pokes the obscenely large belly of Bobby, causing the fat to jiggle and the man to giggle. Meanwhile, Doozer, having finished tying his laces, rises from his chair. A stern visage on his face, he nods to himself as if confirming that he’s ready, before making his way towards the locker room door.
Doozer: Let’s get this W boys. Here’s our first step to reclaiming those tag titles.
With back slapping and whoops and hollers, the three make their way out the door ready for war.
Voice: Evening gentlemen… Bobby.
The enthusiastic trio come to an abrupt full stop. After a slow, dreadful turn around they see Lee Best, The GOD of HOW, casually leaning against the wall next to their locker room door.
The smug look on Lee’s face has one of the three rather nervous.
Bobby’s confident smile falters as he tries to shuffle behind Doozer and Cancer
Doozer sternly looks on with his arms crossed over his chest.
Ever the spokesman for the trio, Cancer springs into action.
Cancer Jiles: Lee, you didn’t have to come all the way down here to wish us luck on our upcoming match. I appreciate the gesture though. It’s not lost on me. US I should say. It’s not lost on US.
Lee Best: Let’s not dance around the situation any longer than we have to. I’ve got more important shit to deal with than this nonsense, so how about I just get right to it? Bobby. You make weight?
Bobby’s head immediately falls. Doozer looks enraged as they are Dan-Ryan-shaking-hands-with-
Cancer Jiles: Come on now, Leeeeeee. The guy has been busting his ass the last few weeks. I think we ought to reward the little, big fella. Let’s give him a chance tonight, what do ya say?
Lee, with a shrug of his shoulder removes Cancer’s arm, before he steps forward. Passing Doozer and placing himself in front of the dejected Bobby Dean, who still refuses to meet his eye.
Lee Best: You and I had a deal. You went around, behind my back, and got signed to a contract that you technically didn’t deserve. Honestly, I’m not even mad at you for doing it, I’m actually kind of proud of you for pulling it off. But, just because you got your contract doesn’t mean our deal just goes away. No, no, no. If anything it makes our deal even more important, because now these two guys are relying on you to uphold your end. I expect you at 250, if you expect to step foot in that ring. So, I’ll ask one last time. Did. You. Make. Weight,
Bobby looks up, into Lee’s eyes, but only for a moment before his head dips down again and he mumbles his answer, to the unsurprised Lee..
Bobby Dean: No.
Lee Best: Allow me to clue you fellows in on a little… rule change, if you will. If Bobby here competes in any match over the limit he and I have previously agreed upon, any win you boys manage to squeak out will be overturned and ruled a defeat. Any monies you’ve earned with said victory will be forfeit. Any titles you may have won, will be null and void.
Lee smiles in triumph as Bobby looks up shocked, mouth agape, looking apologetically to his friends, who look resigned to their fate.
Lee Best: Well then, gentlemen I’ll leave you to it, it looks like you might need another minute or so to go back and finish getting ready.
And with that Lee turns around and walks down the hall leaving the three in his wake. Without a word, the three turn and walk back into their locker room so Cancer Jiles can get suited up. As they walk through the door, Doozer claps his large friend on the back reassuring his dejected compatriot as we cut back to ringside.
Chirping is over...
“Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins kicks in over the speakers. A chorus of boos fills the arena as Dan Ryan steps out onto the stage, dressed in casual business attire — slacks, and a light blue button-down dress shirt — and something decidedly less casual around his waist – one of the HOW World Tag Team Championship belts.
The flashing lights reflect off his sunglasses as he stalks his way down the ramp, a slight smirk on his face.
Joe Hoffman: Well, we’ve been hearing rumors all week that Dan Ryan wanted some time out here tonight. After a hellacious match with Mike Best last week, not to mention tonight’s semi-finals determining his partner at March to Glory, I’m sure he has a lot to say.
Benny Newell: He might as well, everyone else runs their mouths around here, why not him too?
Joe Hoffman: We might be getting the most cohesive possible combination out of this, to be honest. Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy definitely have the most experience teaming together of any of the Group of Death members, and possibly the most experience together out of anyone else involved.
Benny Newell: Yeah, we get it, they’re family, blah blah blah.
Joe Hoffman: All I’m saying is it’s a terrifying thought to think those two are in this position because they both lost a match. This truly may be the deepest group I’ve ever seen.
Ryan makes a half-loop around the ring, pausing just in front of the broadcast booth as he’s handed a microphone by a crew member at ringside. Ryan takes the mic and takes his sunglasses off, his eyes catching sight of Benny Newell at the table. Ryan smiles slightly and walks slowly over to Hoffman and Newell, keeping his eyes on Newell the whole time.
Joe Hoffman: What… what’s this?
As Ryan towers over the seated announcers, he leans in and sets his sunglasses neatly right in front of Benny Newell, then smiles and gives him a little light pat on his left arm. Newell frowns, and Ryan turns around and shoots forward to dive into the ring under the bottom rope.
Benny Newell: I don’t think I like him very much.
Joe Hoffman: You don’t like your free souvenir? Seems like a pretty nice gesture to me. People pay good money for those sunglasses on the e-shop.
Benny Newell: He could’ve at least signed ‘em.
Ryan gets to his feet, microphone in hand. He straightens his shirt and adjusts the belt around his waist and waits as the crowd continues with the booing. He nods a bit and smiles, sincerely, raising the microphone to his lips.
Dan Ryan: Oh hi, Chicago.
Everyone boos again. Dan flashes an insincere smile, then rolls his eyes a bit.
Dan Ryan: I wanted to come out here tonight and address a few important matters with you all. You see, I’ve always been the type of guy who likes to be very straightforward and to the point. I don’t like misunderstandings, so I wanna make sure I make my position clear as often as humanly possible.
Ryan lowers the microphone just for a moment and lets the words hang just a beat before continuing.
Dan Ryan: I’m not a nice person.
Ryan’s smirky expression becomes more of a frown.
Dan Ryan: Sometimes I try to be one when it’s expected of me. Sometimes I give a shit about people and sometimes I don’t. It’s hard to predict, really. I can tolerate a lot of things because I have many years of seeing every level and line of bullshit that can be thrown a man’s way and I’ve survived it all. I learned a very long time ago how to close myself off when necessary, and the truth is, I just don’t have much empathy anymore….
Ryan shakes his head slightly.
Dan Ryan: …assuming I ever had much to begin with. Who knows? I don’t really remember a time before feeling this way. But, what I do know is that I don’t give one hot damn about 90% of the people in this building right now.
Dan Ryan: Go ahead. I don’t care. But I will say this. There’s been an awful lot of chirping around here lately. Every time I turn around there’s someone casually dropping my name into their amateurish little high school musical promo, or speaking my name dismissively while strutting around a luxury box somewhere, or casually talking shit on social media…
Ryan shoots a very serious glance in the direction of Benny Newell and holds the look for a few moments.
Joe Hoffman: Did someone turn up the A/C? It suddenly got really cold over here…
Benny Newell: I don’t know what he’s referring to.
Joe Hoffman: I’m sure.
Dan Ryan: (turning back to the crowd) Truth be told, we’ve had a lot of new people make their debuts lately, and I get it — the thing to do is take shots at the people on top to try and make a name for yourself. You come in, you fire away blindly and you see if you can get people talking about you. Unfortunately, for most of you, your big shot right off the bat is more often than not followed by you flopping like a fat dog trying to jump up on the couch.
Benny Newell: I think he’s talking about you, Joe.
Joe Hoffman: He most certainly is not.
Dan Ryan: I’ve laid back and listened to all of you run your mouths for a few weeks now because I’ve had business to attend to. We’re running a goddamn juggernaut over here, shuffling the deck to see who’s gonna be defending which of the FIVE MOTHERFUCKING CHAMPIONSHIPS we currently hold. I’m sorry, but I haven’t had time to walk over to the den and address the kiddy table. But now? It’s all settled, so here I am and I’m gonna set you all up with a few receipts.
Ryan reaches around back and unbuckles the tag team championship from around his waist and holds it up high.
Dan Ryan: You see this? At March to Glory, I will be going out to the ring with Lindsay Troy to defend this against most of you motherfuckers who have been running your mouths. I would like to cordially invite any of you, whoever you are, to please come and see me and say any of the bullshit you’ve said about me to my face so that I can listen politely and then slap the ever-loving shit out of you. I would like for you, Michael Unlichael, and your little buddy Kendrix to PLEASE… by all means, come up to me and engage me in some of your Hollywood Bruverhood. Let’s talk about your favorite roles, your favorite places to dine on Sunset, your best time racing down the hills of La Cienega. Give me one little opening to snatch either one of you by your scrawny little throats so I can curb stomp you like the Hollywood Boulevard gutter trash you are.
And please, James…. Perfection… whatever the fuck your name is. Come strutting down to the ring with that stupid smirk, looking like someone’s three-day-old cumrag that they tossed in the corner of a hostel in Santa Monica and then peed on. Come down and make sure that leash you have on a fucking wrestling legend is tight as you drag Andy Murray to the ring, and I’ll kick that goddamn cigar down your throat so far you’ll be shitting ashes in Cuban for two weeks.
Benny Newell: Jesus…
Joe Hoffman: He certainly has a way with words, I’ll give him that.
Dan Ryan: And you… Egg Bandits. You come out during matches and you throw your stupid fucking eggs at people like three little junior high buddies pulling pranks after the 8th-grade dance. You disappear for months on end, I assume because during hunting season you have to maximize your time in an effort to stock up enough meat to get Bobby Dean through the Winter. Then you come back, throw groceries at people and somehow get a shot at the World Tag Team Championship at one of the biggest shows of the year. How long are you three boobs gonna keep trading on your names to slip in the backdoor of championship matches while simultaneously subjecting us all to your boring 2008 comedy troupe routine? HEY — Second City Suckasses, leave the poultry at home and come get that ass-kickin’ you’ve been begging for. I’m no longer in a mood to entertain your foolishness.
That goes double for the Turn-It-Up Express. Hey Rick, I bet your schtick was funny as fuck back in the Circuit City breakroom, but do please try to spare us your ‘omg i totally fukk chiks’ routine. I’m sure that shit is charming as hell in the Toronto underground fucknut club scene, but around here it just makes you look like a goddamn tool. You and Matt Klazzic, with two Zs in his name, so you know he’s SERIOUS, can also feel free to come down to the ring, sexually harass a few women on your way so we don’t forget how cool you are, and proceed to get your teeth kicked down your throats. As far as I’m concerned, MATT, you’re missing at LEAST one Z from your name, because so far every time you’ve opened your mouth, half the audience fell asleep.
Joe Hoffman: I’m not sure I agree with Dan Ryan. I haven’t had any trouble staying awake when Matt Klazzic talks. Do you, Benny?
Benny Newell: I have a six-pack of Monster energy drinks under here at all times, so I’m covered.
Dan Ryan: Now obviously, I don’t wanna leave anybody out. I would absolutely HATE to leave anybody out. But I do also wanna be fair. Scottrow Woodson, you are for now part of company management, so that leaves me with a bit of a conundrum. Do I show you the respect that you so very much desire, or do I kick your fucking head off your shoulders? What to do? What to do? Honestly, I’ve been having trouble figuring out how to feel about the new you lately. With that red bush pulled up on your head and your face all stretched back like that, I can’t tell if you look more professional or if you look like you’re prepping for a spot on RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s hard to know how to make decisions like these so I consulted Lindsay just before coming out here tonight and well… she’s not in a very good mood. I’m afraid she told me that we should use that empty skull of yours for target practice, Scott. I’m sorry. I am sorry. But hey, look on the bright side, you’ve got Damien Ryan by your side, and you’ve really honed in on what most people think of you by calling yourselves ‘HATE!’, so I think your luck is about to change. Instead of “a treasured Hall of Famer, once respected, but withered away to nothing more than a sad shadowy reflection of what you used to be, forced to wander the dusty trails of HOW all alone”, you are now ”a treasured Hall of Famer, once respected, but withered away to nothing more than a sad shadowy reflection of what you used to be… with Damien Ryan”. So right away you’ve gotta be pretty psyched, am I right??
Bottom line, in exactly two weeks, Lindsay Troy and I will be walking down the aisle to this ring and we will defend these tag team championships against every last one of you, and I can goddamn assure you that when the bell rings, we will have reminded every last one of you just who the fuck we are. Talk your shit, go ahead, but come March to Glory, one by one, we’re putting you in the ground.
Ryan flips the microphone away and it tumbles to the mat as “Zero” kicks back in and he climbs out of the ring.
Joe Hoffman: Wow, some big words from Dan Ryan, who will be defending the tag team championship alongside his sister-in-law at March to Glory.
Benny Newell: That definitely was some fire right there, but I’m still not sure I like him that much.
Joe Hoffman: One of the guys from the crew over here next to us told me he could probably get Dan to sign those sunglasses for you. Would that help?
Benny Newell: Really??
Joe Hoffman: No.
Benny Newell: I hope you die soon.
Joe Hoffman: (chuckling) We’ve got to take a commercial break, but don’t go anywhere! The Egg Bandits and the Turn-it-Up Express fight it out for a spot in that World Tag Team Championship at March to Glory…. NEXT!
World Championship Match
Teddy Palmer/Max Kael vs. Cecilworth Farthington©
Tag Team Championship Match
HATE (Scottywood and Damien Ryan) vs. Hollywood Bruvs vs. 24K (Murray and Perfection) vs. eGG Bandits/Turn-It-Up-Express vs. Group of Death© (Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy)
Tag Team Number One Contenders Match
eGG Bandits/Turn-It-Up-Express vs. Team to be Named at Refueled XX
The eGG Bandits vs. Turn-It-Up-Express
Joe Hoffman: Welcome back folks, time for our big tag team match that will decide who gets entered into the Tag Team Title match at March to Glory and who gets into the #1 contenders match.
Benny Newell: Egg Fuckers vs. Eighties Hair Shits
Joe Hoffman: No…. It’s The Egg Bandits making their HOW return versus Turn It Up Express who are making their debut as a tag team here tonight. One of them will get a shot against the Group of Death, Hollywood Bruvs, 24K and HATE for the Tag Team Titles.
Gunter glieben glauten globen
Boos start to flood the Allstate Arena as “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” by The Offspring plays over the speakers and Scott Woodson and Damien Ryan make their way out onto the stage flanked by Franklin Woodson. The 49% minority Owner of HOW is dressed in his #NYR blue shirt with #97Red tie as Damien Ryan has his wrestling tights on with just his own #97Red tie. Franklin is dressed in a suit that seems like he just bought it off the rack at Kohls… in fact I think you can even see the price tag still on it.
Joe Hoffman: We were warned that Mister Woodson would be joining us at ringside tonight…
Benny Newell: Keep him the fuck away from me Joe… I saw his fucking bullshit hashtags on the fucking twatsphere.
Joe Hoffman: #RehabForBenny?
Benny Newell: I’ll fucking kill you Joe.. live here on fucking TV.
With microphones in hand, the music fades out as Woodson and Ryan makes their way down the ramp.
Scott Woodson: Why all the HATE from the people here in shit-town.
Scott Woodson: Ugh… Anyways hope you are ready for a hell of a tag team match tonight… even if neither of these teams will have a chance in HELL to defeat HATE at March to Glory when I reclaim those titles for the 3rd… or 4th time if you asked me and Carmen Jennings…
Joe Hoffman: Geez… deep dive back to 2010 when Jennings and Woodson defeated Valora and AWS Man in an unsanctioned HOW Tag Team Title match at WMW’s High Stakes PPV.
Benny Newell: Fucking nerd… you’re worse than Stevenspedia.
Scott Woodson: Now, I’ve certainly been impressed with the talent that Lee has brought in for this division… and this may be the best that the tag division has ever looked in HOW’s history. I mean between 24K, The Hollywood Bruvs, The Bandits and Turn it Up… fuck that’s a hell of a division already. But add in the current champions freeballing… I mean freebirding it… plus HATE… well you got one hell of a division.
Damien Ryan: Hell of division Scotty… I mean whoever the Group of Coffee Breath… I mean Death has team with Dan Ryan… Troy or Kael… they are going to be tough… dare I say impossible to beat.
Scott Woodson: Max Kael… is pretty impossible to beat…. Unless you are a fellow Hall of Famer.
Damien Ryan: Well… you haven’t had the best of luck against him either as of… well this whole refueled era.
Scott Woodson: Fact… one of the few facts from that dang twitter account… but it is also a fact that I have beaten Max Kael. So while it might be tough… while it might be a challenge… it is not… impossible.
Damien Ryan: But we all know Max Kael is likely walking out the LBI winner cause… Max Kael and it’ll be an all Indus… it will be Ryan and Lindz defending those belts.
Scott Woodson: Yep, toughens the meaning of if you can’t beat them… join them. Which is another reason Troy will definitely be in this match. But hey, like I said… doesn’t really matter who is in this match at Glory, HATE will conquer all.
HATE reaches ringside as they toss their mics and join Joe and Benny at the announce table while Franklin crosses his arms and tries to look tough guarding the two future champions.
Benny Newell: Stop screaming HATE… we’re right here.
Scott Woodson: Screamin What? No…. I’m referencing HATE Wrestling you numb nuts… do I have to explain everything to these uneducated idiots?
Damien Ryan: Short answer… yes Woodson.
Benny Newell: Hey!
Scott Woodson: Hey! Why don’t you lay the bottle of Jack down and try actually doing some research for shows like Hoffman.
Joe Hoffman: Finally! Thank you Mister Woodson.
Benny Newell: Sobriety advice from Scottywood… that’s some hypocrisy…
Scott Woodson: Benny, you wouldn’t know good advice if it was sitting at the bottom of that bottle.
Benny Newell: DRINK?
Scott Woodson: Yep, drink your face off Benny…
The Egg Bandits music hits as they make their way out onto the stage flanked by Bobby Dean. With cartons of eggs in their hands they joke about tossing a few out into the crowd before they proceed towards the ring.
Bryan McVay: The following tag team match is scheduled for one fall! First making their way to the ring, being accompanied by Bobby Dean, Cancer Jiles and Doozer… The Egg Bandits!!!!
Joe Hoffman: Three men Led will always invite back, The Bandits…
Scott Woodson: Are men I know very well, especially Jiles who I have held the very Tag Team Titles with that we may be fighting for. I mean I handed him the other belt and we only defended it once against some nobodies before we lost them to The Maurako Family… but ya…
Joe Hoffman: COOL Reality… after you teamed with Frankie for a quick match.
Scott Woodson: Yep, my undefeated son.
Music for Turn It Up Express hits as we see the Rick Dickulous and Matt Klazzic explode out onto the stage full of energy to the roar of the HOW crowd who love the energy from the new tag team.
Bryan McVay: And their opponents,they are the team of Rick Dickulous and Matt Klazzic…. Turn It Up Express!!!!!
Joe Hoffman: This will be Matt Klazzic’s HOW in ring debut tonight as we were all introduced to him last week.
Scott Woodson: some call Doc Brown or Brenton Cross and bring these men back from the eighties rut they are stuck in.
Damien Ryan: Cross is dead… yep… think I def killed him last week.
Scott Woodson: oh ya… well we can always drag out his corpse if needed.
Express enters the ring as Hortgea does his best to keep the teams apart, but he quickly gives up as he calls for the bell.
Joe Hoffman: Chaos erupts in the ring as we are under way!
Doozer throws Dickulous over the top rope as Klazzic kicks Jiles in the gut and nails him with a DDT before he clotheslines Doozer out of the ring and Hortega declares Jiles and Klazzic the legal men. Jiles stumbles up as Klazzic throws him into the ropes as Jiles holds on for a moment before Klazzic charges and both men fly over the top rope and land hard on the outside. Hortega starts the ten count, but he is interrupted by Woodson in the mic.
Scott Woodson: No boring counts… this match will now be contested under tornado no DQ and falls count anywhere!
Dickulous is first time his feet as he grabs a steel chair from a fan in the first row and drives it in the gut of Doozer and suplexes him down onto said chair. Suddenly an egg hits Dickulous in the face, blinding him as Jiles dreads him into the barricade. Jiles pops up and goes got the chair but Klazzic goes for a roll up from behind….
Jiles kicks out as Klazzic quickly drives an elbow into the face of Jiles before pulling the COOL One to his feet and nailing a belly to belly on the outside mat. Klazzic gets up and catches a hard clothesline that turns Klazzic inside out as Dickulous nails Doozer with a big boot as the crowd cheers god only a moment before Jiles nails a low blow and school boy Dickulous.
Benny Newell: Dick shot to Dick by Jiles! What a dick!
Dickulous kicks out as Jiles thumbs him in the eye before Klazzic comes in with a big drop kick that sends Jiles hard into the barricade. Klazzic and Jiles exchange shots as Doozer comes in with a kendo stick and nails Dickulous splitting him open as Jiles connects with a super kick that send Dickulous over the barricade and into the front row.
Joe Hoffman: This no DQ stip is starting to take its toll on the competitors… guessing that’s by plan Mister Woodson.
Scott Woodson: So astute… glad my gonna watch these two teams beat the HELL out of each other before one has to face us.
Benny Newell: Even if they have no chance to beat you as you say?
Scott Woodson: I will kidnap your drunken carcass and drag you to rehab if you don’t shut your slanderous, booze stained mouth.
Jiles us laughing at Dickulous and doesn’t see Klazzic nail him in the side of the head with an old NES console.
Joe Hoffman: From what work hole did he dig that out of?
Benny Newell: It’s from the ghost of Brenton Cross!
Scott Woodson: Have another drink Benny…
Klazzic takes one off the controllers and starts to choke Doozer with it after a bit of an exchange as Hortega asks if Doozer wants to tap. But The Dooze says no as he kicks his leg back with a low blow and Jiles comes back with a super kick
Joe Hoffman: Terminal Cancer!!!
Klazzic falls into the first row of fans as Dickulous grabs Doozer from the crowd and slams his head into the guardrail. Jiles see this and sprays Dick in the face with a yellow mist that may or may not be egg yolk.
Joe Hoffman: COOLympisn Yolk
With Dickulous blinded and hanging over the guardrail, Doozer grabs Dick’s head and connects with a DDT straight down onto the steel chair that was used before.
Benny Newell: Fuck Dick just got his eggs scrambled by The Bandits!!
Joe Hoffman: Pinfall by Doozer on Dickulous!
DING DING DING
Bryan McVay: Winners of this match and advancing to the Tag Team Title match at March to Glory…. The Egg Bandits!!!!!
Hortega raises the arms of Jiles and Doozer as Dean comes in to celebrate while Woodson and Ryan stand up at ringside.
Scott Woodson: Guess we’ll be taking our eggs HATE side up come Glory.
Damien Ryan: I’ll take mine on a HATE McMuffin. Need me some bread to cover up their sour taste.
Joe Hoffman: Puns aside, The Bandits join four other teams in the fatal five way brawl at March to Glory.
Scott Woodson: Yolks aside you mean, cause we’re gonna whisk theses eggs away before they even get to March to Glory.
Woodson and Ryan toss their head sets down as The Bandits turn their focus to the announce table and the two teams start to converge as HOW referees and officials quickly jump in to keep the six individuals apart. They try to push the officials apart but more pour in as they keep yelling at each other while we cut to the backstage area.
The action cuts backstage where we see a very familiar bald head writing on a piece of paper. Apparently finished, he leans back in his chair and smiles at the camera pointed directly at him.
Lee Best: Just wanted to take a couple moments here to get a couple points across. First off congrats to everyone who has been winning money so far tonight…
Lee holds up his betting slips from the High Octane Gambling sports book and smiles…
Lee Best: Secondly, I didn’t even want to be here. I fully planned on getting out of the city with all the snow inbound, ya fuck snow in March, but at the end of the day this is MY Invitational and I know I need to be here.
There is an audible buzzing sound and Lee reaches for his phone on his desk and picks it up and begins reading an apparent text message.
Lee Best: Well look it here…..another deal finalized……here check out the image folks…..
The GOD of HOW holds up his phone towards the camera and shows everyone the deal he apparently just finalized…
He quickly snatches the phone away as another message comes thru….
Lee Best: Yep. You can’t see that…….but ya…..shit is actually getting done with me back in majority control and once again High Octane Wrestling is climbing to the top of the pro wrestling mountain……and I plan on planting our flag firmly at the top of that fucking mountain soon enough.
Lee looks down at his watch and smiles….
Lee Best: Time is up. Time for my non son to speak…..get the fuck outta here.
The camera quickly drops down to the ground but does not turn off. As the cameraman walks towards the door, with the camera still on, we hear the next words out of Lee’s mouth before the door is shut closed…
“Need you at March to Glory man…..ya…..Card is Subject to change motherfucker”
WORLD CHAMPION SEGMENT
As the cameras cut back inside the main arena, the stage lights go pitch black causing a buzz to spread across the crowd due to the interesting and intriguing development. This curiosity doesn’t have to last long as a blood curdling scream hits the speaker system. A second quickly follows.
“We Appreciate Power”
The banging jam known as “We Appreciate Power” by Grimes indicates the arrival of one fifth of the HOW Tag Team Champions and the HOW World Champion, Cecilworth M! J. Farthington. The lights slowly fade back up, reaching a focus point at the top of the entrance way as out from the back swaggers the man that Max Kael and Teddy Palmer are very soon about to fight for the right to face. Farthington has a mile-wide smile that certainly does not indicate any concern about the events of the LBI as they have unfolded so far tonight. He holds the HOW World Title up high, for all to admire and indicates for his music to be faded out, as he remains in place at the top of the stage.
Hoffman: Well that sure was interesting and this must be what Lee was referring to with his non son comment, as the World Champion wasn’t on my format sheet, but to be far this thing never gets filled in and handed out late in the day, but we have been graced with the presence of the HOW World Champion. A man who has kept a low profile since…
Newell: Since he logged off of twitter??
Hoffman: Well Benny…..he did successfully defend the Tag Titles with Max Kael a mere two shows ago.
Newell: All I heard was Max…who is 3/4 of the High Octane Mt. Rushmore.
The music suitably faded as the commentary bickering fades away and the champ raises the microphone to his luscious lips.
Farthington: Friends, Illinoisians, wrestlings fans, lend me your ears. I come here tonight to praise the Lee Best Invitational, not to bury it.
The smuggins that is CM!JF takes a few moments to truly bask in the contempt of the crowd who are very keen to vocalise their displeasure at Cecilworth’s cheap shortcuts since the end of ICONIC.
Farthington: The ELL BEE EYE has brought us such wondrous joys. Shocking upset victories, devious plots, two men brutally punching each other in the face even though they are both in the most powerful group the High Octane Domain has EVER seen… yes… we have seen it all. Yet, the plan from day one, the goal of this tournament, the ultimate skullduggery from the Group of Death ends tonight as Max Kael ENSURES that when the final bell rings at March to Glory, the all powerful GoD keeps the World Championship safely in our possession. Hell, Ole One Eyed Willy himself Leecifer Best fired up his dusty 24K modem to the surf the world wide web and endorse Max Kael as the LBI victor at AITCH OH WRESTLING DOT COM a few days ago.
Farthington seems almost too pleased at his own reference, the microphone picking up a light bit of self-chuckling.
Farthington: Life is pretty sweet for GoD. Still, we have one match to go, one final puzzle piece that allows us to gently glide this masterstroke and textbook case of treachery to its final destination. That is what brings me out here…
Newell: A bail bond is what brings you out here…
Hoffman: I thought the charges were dropped.
Newell: I don’t want to talk about it.
CM!JF pauses for a moment as he gently admires the HOW World Championship that sits atop his shoulder.
Farthington: Tonight, my brother-in-arms, Maximillian Kael, First of his Name, Long May He Maim… will doubtlessly claim victory in the Lee Best Invitational and I need the best seat in the house for a little scouting. For he may win the LBI but I plan to keep this title wrapped nice and snug around my HIGHLY erotic waist.
I’m sorry to report that the World Champion did an unspeakably uncomfortable thrust on this declaration.
Farthington: And Teddy, I’m sorry to inform you that this sweet little Cinderella story of yours that’s happened so far? It ends with a glass slipper in the back of your goddamn skull at the hands of the ELL ESS DEE Champion. So, with that said, I would like to introduce you to your special guest commentator for the finals of the Lee Best Invitational…
The booing of all of those who have put together where this is going could destroy the arena in its intensity.
Newell: Oh no he fucking isn’t…
Hoffman: Benny… where are you going?
Farthington: IT IS I! YOUR WORLD CHAMPION! HOORAY!
The camera catches Benny throwing up a double bird to Cecilworth who has started to slowly make his way down to the ringside area. Benny tosses down his headset and storms backstage clearly having no intention on joining the man who broke his arm
Hoffman: Well folks, when we get back from commercial break, we finally reach the match that has been three months in the making. The Lee Best Invitational Final happens live on HOTV as LSD Champion Max Kael takes on Teddy Palmer in a match NO ONE expected to happen. DO NOT MISS THIS!
Refueled returns from commercial break with a clear buzz of anticipation spreading wildly throughout the arena. We cut to ringside where Joe Hoffman has been joined by Cecilworth M! J. Farthington at the announce table. Benny Newell has decided to abdicate his throne given the presence of his arm-breaker at ringside.
Hoffman: 3 months, and what should have been 18 matches at this point and we are finally here at the end of a grueling Lee Best Invitational. The bookmakers must be RAKING it in tonight as no one could have predicted this final…
Farthington: That’s absurd! Implying no one saw Max Kael reaching the finals? He has won this thing several times!
Hoffman: You know I meant Teddy Palmer, a truly surprising finalist and a man I think it would safe to say that NO ONE picked to be here tonight. You have to imagine the butterflies in the wayward veteran have to be churning his stomach something fierce as he awaits his theme music backstage.
Farthington: It’s the big fight feel, Joe! At this point I think it would be safe to say I am something of an expert on the matter. For Palmer, the big question is whether that feeling drowns him in the briny deep or he rises to the occasion. The answer to that one is clear…
Hoffman: And that would be…
Farthington: …He’s facing Max. He’s dead.
The pre-match commentary is interrupted by “Welcome to the Party” by Diplo, French Montana & Lil Pump – the bass-y beats and lightest of air horns marks the arrival of the man who had to defeat his own tag team partner to get to this match, earlier in the evening. That man is Teddy Palmer. Teddy makes his way out on the stage to a shockingly loud ovation from the crowd who have clearly rallied for the underdog of the LBI and his success story up to this point.
Hoffman: Two weeks ago you and Max Kael crushed Teddy Palmer and Alexander Redding’s Tag Team Title dreams with a lot of help from your Group of Death compatriots. Does it not seem foolish for Palmer to be standing out there alone…
Farthington: This is the Lee Best Invitational final, the Group of Death have the utmost confidence in Max Kael to dispatch of this sloppy drunken goon without our intervention. Plus, Lee banned the Group of Death, The Top Knot King of Kansas and Grady O’Hoolihan from ringside to ensure that his precious Lee Best Invitational had a fitting and clear conclusion.
Hoffman: Then why are you sitting here?
Cecilworth pauses for a second, uncertain of a response.
Farthington: Champion’s prerogative. I’m here in an official commentation capacity, nothing more.
Teddy Palmer seems overwhelmed by the fan response to his reaching the LBI finals, the fight that he has had to dig deep down inside to get to this career defining moment is not lost on him as the camera picks him wiping a droplet of a tear from his eyes. Caught up in the instance he finds himself in, Palmer even deems it correct and right to slap a few fans hands, keeping his focus towards the ring at all times.
Hoffman: You surely have to admire Teddy Palmer at this point, the man came into HOW full expecting to be part of our expanding Tag Team Division and yet he could be minutes away from punching his ticket to the March to Glory main event in Rome. This is boyhood dream territory if ever I’ve seen it…
Farthington: I’ll admire his corpse when Max is done with him. I’ll say things like “hey, that corpse put up a hell of a fight, didn’t he?”. Which will demonstrate my admiration for Tedward.
Palmer allows his head to bop to the beat of his theme a few times as he stomps up the ring steps and into the ring, fully absorbing everything that is happening to him as he does so.
McVay: Ladies and gentleman, it is time for your MAIN EVENT OF THE EVENING. The following contest is scheduled for one fall with no time limit. It is your LEE BEST INVITATIONAL FINAL!
The crowd hoot and holler in excitement at being present for the tournament final.
McVay: Introducing first, currently entering the ring, he weighs in tonight at two hundred and nineteen pounds, standing at six foot one inches, he hails from Toronto, Ontario, Canada… TEDDYYYYYY PALMERRRRRRRRRRR!
Palmer carefully enters the ring, very clearly soaking up the atmosphere and the moment itself. This is cut short as the lights in the arena cut out as the stage lights up with green and red lights, the North Kaelrean Flag waving on the HOTv. The sound of the “Emperor Palpatine’s theme EPIC DARKSIDE MIX” begins to play before it suddenly, and quite jarringly stops. The house lights lift back up leaving the crowd confused as Max Kael does not appear.
Hoffman: Well, LSD Champion Max Kael was about to make his entrance but it looks like there has been some kind of.. Stoppage?
Farthington: Matt Boettcher has clearly called the match off, fearing for Palmer’s life in the hands of Kael.
Hoffman: What an absurd suggestion.
Farthington: Oh so you want Teddy Palmer to die? I thought you were supposed to be a nice guy, Joe!
The audible sound of Joe sighing is masked by the sudden appearance of Maximillian Kael appearing on the stage with a customized North Kaelrean microphone as he is met with a mixed reaction from the crowd. He lifts the microphone to his mask as he slowly stalks the stage.
Kael: Sorry about that false start, listen, I was in the back thinking about this match and I realized there is no mathematical way that Teddy fucking Palmer is going to pin me here tonight, there is NO WAY I lose here tonight. I’ve basically already won.. So instead of waiting a week to debut my NEW entrance theme since I’ve already come out once tonight with my old theme.. Why not give the people want they really want?! Yet another new Max Kael theme song! So get those lips ready, Bryan McVay!
His mechanical voice booms out over the crowd before Max shuffles back off the stage. Some of the crowd, eager to see the main event, boo while a small selection of Max Kael loyalists cheer for this obvious ego trip.
Farthington: Hell yeah! Another theme song change!
Hoffman: That’s his fifth new theme song in a year, roughly changing it every three months.
Farthington: I got a little special ditty planned for March to Glory. I learn from the best, Joe!
Hofffman: Does the Group of Death spend most of their time talking about new theme music?
“Shit Just got Real (FEAT. Sen Dog)” by Die Antwoord thumps out over the speakers as the stage once again lights up with flashing green and red lights. Above on the HOTv the North Kaelrean flag once again appears intercut with Max winning his various LBI matches excluding his loss to Warrick.
Strutting out onto the stage arrives Maximillian Kael wearing the LSD Championship over one shoulder and the Tag Team Championship over the other. Though his mouth is not visible because of his breather mask you can assume he is likely smirking beneath it.
Bryan McVay: Hailing from The Glorious Nation of North Kaelrea,..Weighing in at 230 pounds and at a height of 6’4’’..he is the Lord Supreme Dictator.. He is one member of the High Octane Wrestling Tag Team Champions and LSD Champion.. MAAAAAAXIMILLIAN WILHELM KAAAAEEEEELLLL!
Sauntering to the edge of the ring Max slithers up onto the apron, wiping his feet off before slipping beneath the top and middle rope. Slinking to the center of the ring Max holds both titles into the air, sure to ensure that Teddy Palmer gets a very good look at the title he failed to win. Palmer for his part does his best not to get tricked into the trap, looking dead ahead and keeping an unbroken focus on the LSD Champion.
Hoffman: A bit of mind games from Max Kael, trying to remind Teddy Palmer that only a few weeks ago he and his partner Alexander Redding came up short for the Tag Titles. You have to know that Palmer is looking for revenge after the zip tie incident…
Farthington: Ring the damn bell and get this match going. It’s time to ensure the Group of Death retain the World Championship at March to Glory BAYBEE.
Matt Boettcher checks over Max Kael, as best as one can do to a man with a half-metal skull and metal teeth. Beyond his physical deformities, he does not appear to be concealing any other weapons in the eyes of Boettcher. While Boettcher pats down Teddy Palmer, Kael hands off his LSD and Tag Team Titles to a ringside attendant. Satisfied that both mean are clean, Boettcher signals for the bell at the crowd roar in approval.
Hoffman: And with a single wag of the finger, the Lee Best Invitational Finals are underway. This should have been match nineteen of the gruelling series but a few personnel issues cut down the field slightly.
Farthington: Let us not forget the true LBI finals, March to Glory.
Hoffman: So no surprises if you proclaim yourself as the winner of the LBI if you manage to retain at March to Glory.
Farthington: I will be the LBI winner WHEN I retain at March to Glory.
Kael and Palmer circle around each other in the centre of the ring in the opening moments of the contest. Both men are clearly not at full capacity after the semi-final bouts earlier in the evening and are cautious in wanting to make the first move. Kael keeps his fists up as he lays the first few strikes to Palmer, kicking him in the thigh over and over. He doesn’t get all of his kicks as Palmer is able to dodge enough that Max is still making contact but not quite at full force. Palmer manages to grab Kael’s leg on the fourth kick attempt and sweeps his free leg, sending the LSD champion down to the canvas. Teddy is unable to follow up as Kael uses all his force in his left leg to force Palmer into the ropes. The man who is one fifth of the tag champions manages to quickly scramble back up to an even base.
Hoffman: You’ve known Max Kael on a personal level for a long time now, you’ve trained with him at Mike Best’s academy. What does Teddy Palmer have to do to get the advantage in this contest?
Farthington: Beyond not being a sloppy, sad mess? Nothing. Max Kael is at his most confident and that makes him INCREDIBLY dangerous to corpse-y half of the Red and Dead Express.
Palmer rebounds off the ropes with enough time for Max to slam his half-metal skull into his chest, taking the wind right out of Teddy. More enraged than shocked by the force of the Skull of Kael, Palmer grabs the back of Kael’s skulls and drills him with a European Uppercut. This staggering the LSD Champion but seems to do bigger damage to Teddy Palmer who makes contact with the metal mouth of Kael in a way that his knuckles get quite crunchy. Palmer tries to wave off the pain as Kael rubs his jaw, flashing a blinding smile as does so.
Hoffman: I just don’t know what the strategy is to beat a man who at this point may be more metal than man.
Farthington: You could sneak into his room at night and try break him up to sell for parts. Other than that, I can’t think of any strategy.
Undeterred by his mechanical opponent, Palmer tries to keep his momentum going, he leaps up and allows his boot to collide with Kael’s skull through a leaping enzuigiri. As the enzuigiri lands, Teddy’s face scrunches up in pain as he quickly goes to nurse his ankle.
Hoffman: Wrong side of the skull!
The leaping kick still does enough of its job, as it manages to fully floor Max. Palmer rubs his shin as he studies his opponent who still remains prone on the mat. Palmer thinks very carefully about his next move and chooses to mount Kael at the chest. He grabs Kael’s left arm and tries to hook it in tightly but as he pulls back on the arm, Kael flows forward and slams his skull into Palmer’s with a vicious headbutt. Palmer drops the arm and collapses backwards as Kael’s piercing blue eye glares at his opponent.
Hoffman: I think it’s fair to say that Kael’s… augmentations… if you can call them that… have proven to be an incredible advantage to the Hall of Famer. I’m not sure what Teddy Palmer was shooting for there but it did not work in his favour.
Farthington: Max Kael is in the Hall of Fame because of his constant sense of reinvention, whether it be physically or mentally. What’s a few painful surgeries when it gives you this level of success? He’s one of my best friends and he terrifies me!
Kael pulls himself up and sneers at the woozy Teddy Palmer, scuffing his military boots across the face of Palmer for good measure, Max Kael makes the tactical decision to mount the top rope, stretching himself up the kick Palmer in the head a few more times on his ascent to the top. Kael looks down at Palmer from the top rope and takes careful measure, falling off the top rope, almost as dead weight.
Hoffman: A brutal fist drop right from the top rope, Max Kael will be making sure to pull out all of the stops to clinch ANOTHER LBI victory.
Farthington: Max keeps telling me he never wins at March to Glory though, so I’m counting on that…
Satisfied with the deadly damage dealt, Kael hauls Palmer up, Palmer staggers to his feet and looks very out of sorts. Kael begins to throw hands like a fiend, drilling Palmer with a series of lefts and rights that leave Teddy Palmer completely stunned. Kael finished up the sequence of jabs and kicks by spinning around and drilling Palmer right in the temple with his titanium ocular bone and matching eye patch. Before Kael gets a chance to follow up on the blow, Palmer staggers into the ropes. Instead of seeing this as a negative, Palmer throws his body weight into the ropes and rebounds back at Kael.
Farthington: Excuse me?
Hoffman: Theodorpedo… it’s what he calls his running single leg high knee.
Farthington: I did not see a single buttock involved in that entire exchange.
Kael certainly looks stunned after a full force Theodorpedo right to the face but Palmer comes out as the one looking worse from the exchange. His knee collides straight with titanium so as Kael crumbles backwards against the ropes, Palmer clutches his knee in agony. Palmer pounds the mat as an outlet for the pain shooting through his body after his scrap exchange.
Hoffman: How can you even knock Max Kael out for a pinfall when his skull is partially metal?
Farthington: As our friend Palmer is quickly learning, you don’t. There’s a reason he was the number one ranked wrestler last year and is currently sitting at the top of the table this year.
Hoffman: Aren’t you at all concerned about this problem at March to Glory?
Farthington: Group of Death retains regardless, BAYBEE!
Teddy Palmer quickly realises that the skull attacks are not going to do the job in this match and leaps forward at the LSD Champion again. He tries to vice grip himself around the chest of Kael, attempting to hook in the left arm of Kael. Palmer manages to wrap himself around Kael but struggles to get control of the arm in the way he is hoping.
Hoffman: This is the second time that Palmer has tried his hand at the grappling submission game in this match. Do you think this is part of his match strategy? I’ve heard he has a mean triangle choke!
Farthington: I’ve heard he should just stop trying and submit to the Will of Kael.
Palmer tries to shift his weight to force Max to his knees but Kael continues his take control of the situation. Palmer tries to hook the left arm a second time but Kael manages to swat it off. Using both free hands, Kael manages to hook his claws into the back of Palmer. Kael pulls his fingers down full force, delivering a nasty back scratch to Palmer. Palmer winces in pain which presents just enough of an opening for Kael to fall forward, drilling Teddy into the mat with a sort of situational make-shift powerbomb.
Hoffman: He didn’t get all of it but Kael has bought himself another opening in this match!
Farthington: Teddy Palmer will be wishing he could bribe himself out of this match in a few seconds. Max Kael is back in control, it’s play time!
With a prone Palmer, Max shakes off the pain rushing through his body as he reaches the deep end of his second contest of the evening. He looks down at Palmer and a maniacal grin sweeps across the face of the LSD Champion. He saunters over to Palmer and slowly falls to the mat, drilling Palmer in the chest with a Brow Beater, Palmer leans up a gasps for air but Kael ends that by booting him in the face, as someone would a dog that they did not desire to be present any more. Kael staggers back and takes measure again…
Hoffman: It looks like Kael is looking to hurt Teddy Palmer, do you think Kael sees this as something of a March to Glory showcase? A second Brow Beater is clearly his intention and knowing the LSD Champion, he could do this all night!
Farthington: It’s unfortunate but Teddy Palmer is simply collateral damage in the masterplan of the Group of Death and let me tell you… WHAT?
Cecilworth’s braggart ways on commentary are put to a stop as Kael goes dead one more time, falling to the mat with headbutt intentions for Teddy Palmer. Palmer manages to gain enough wits to see it coming and catches Kael’s head as Kael starts to drop. Palmer spins around and vices his legs between Kael’s skull and left armpit.
Hoffman: KAEL HAS BEEN CAUGHT! KAEL HAS BEEN CAUGHT!
Farthington: You’re getting yourself too worked up, Joe. This is the LSD Champion, this is the Hall of Famer. The man’s stamina is legendary. He was tossed into a literal dumpster fire and came back two weeks later to crush the Highest of Flyers – a simple leg vice isn’t going to be a reason to pop the Idiot Champagne.
Kael frantically uses his free arm to punch the kidney of Palmer, who can feel his grip loosening. The two jockey for control as they slide around the mat. Kael tries more rapid jabs in the hopes of getting Teddy to loosen his grip and the two men now find themselves dead centre in the middle of the ring. Max Kael pushes toward and pushes Teddy Palmer’s shoulders down to the mat. Matt Boettcher is quick enough to spot the pin fall.
Teddy Palmer makes to roll his shoulder up, still not breaking his grip.
Hoffman: I did not expect to see these two caught up in mat grappling…
Farthington: Didn’t Matt Grappling wrestle earlier tonight?
Joe Hoffman brushes by the laissez-faire commentary of the complacent champion as Kael and Palmer remain locked in a battle on the ring mat. Palmer manages to pull Kael in tighter, basically locking him out of his free arm. Kael’s eyes widen in a panic as he can’t seem to struggle free from the grip. A desperate Kael puts all of his might into an attempt to butt Palmer right in the nutsack…
Hoffman: TRIANGLE CHOKE! PALMER HAS MANAGED TO CLINCH THE LSD CHAMPION INTO A TRIANGLE CHOKE!
Farthington: Oh yes, this is very concerning…. This is MAX KAEL. Which part of that are you missing Joe?
Just as Kael tries to drop his head further, Teddy Palmer spots his biggest opening in the entire contest and manages to fully lock Kael into a very snug Triangle Choke. The LSD Champion’s eyes begin to furiously dart around the ring as he tries in his barely conscious mind to see any openings available to him. Matt Boettcher asks Kael if he submits but Kael waves him off, half fading, half looking for the path of escape. Kael tries to force all of his weight to the side, hoping to spin out of the lock, but Palmer is able to roll back, keeping him locked tight in the middle of the ring.
Hoffman: Kael is trying to break free but his options are rapidly narrowing. Teddy Palmer has made the most of this opening!
Farthington: Would you listen to yourself? Max. Kael. When’s the last time you heard of him tapping? Never? BECAUSE HE’S MAX FUCKING KAEL!
Kael’s eyes begin to widen in agony in a skull-popping capacity. Out of options he goes dead weight and throws himself backwards. Hoping this will break him out of Palmer’s vice, it has very much the opposite effect, increasing the pressure in the choke. Kael starts to feel his body fading as Boettcher checks for the submission again.
Hoffman: Teddy Palmer could be seconds away from winning the Lee Best Invitational. He has Max Kael dead to rights.
Farthington: You are delusional at this point, Joe. Teddy Palmer is moments away from never darkening the doors of the Group of Death again and let me tell you something…
Kael, feeling his eyes rolling into the back of his skull does one last pass of his ring positioning. Accepting his fate and having no other option, he gives Matt Boettcher the signal.
DING DING DING
Hoffman: MAX KAEL TAPS!
Farthington: What. The. FUCK?
The camera quickly cuts to the announce table, the HOW World Champion has leaped out of his seat, his eyes wide, his jaw slacked, he head shaking back and forth furiously.
Hoffman: TEDDY PALMER JUST FOUND THE SECRET TO DEFEATING THE HALF METAL MONSTER! HE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THE DAMAGED THROAT! TEDDY PALMER JUST WON THE LEE BEST INVITATIONAL! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THAT CECILWORTH?
Farthington remains speechless, mouth agape as the camera cuts back to the ring. Teddy Palmer breaks the triangle choke and the LSD Champion crumbles to the mat. Matt Boettcher helps Teddy up and raises his hand up high for the entire crowd to see. The crowd roars their approval at the results.
McVay: Here is your winner of the TWENTY TWENTY LEE BEST INVITATIONAL… TEDDY PALMERRRRRRRRR.
Matt Boettcher tosses Palmer’s arm up in the air once again and Palmer can’t help but break out into a smile. The enormity of the moment is almost too much as he soaks in the crowd’s delight of the result.
Hoffman: No one thought this man could do it. Not Lee Best, not the Group of Death, not even his own tag team partner. No one thought that the Lee Best Invitational was going to end with Teddy Palmer being crowned the ultimate victor but with a simple triangle choke, Teddy Palmer has got a date with destiny at The Colosseum for the World Heavyweight Championship. This is revenge for the zip ties, for the Tag Team Title match – Teddy Palmer has every right to celebrate the night away.
The camera quickly cuts back to a dejected HOW World Champion, biting his bottom lip and shaking his head furiously.
Farthington: He’s ruined EVERYTHING!
Cecilworth screeches his last words into the headset and slams it down on the table. He grabs his World Championship and storms from the announce table, not even making eye contact with Teddy Palmer. We cut back to the ring where Palmer simply gives Cecilworth a wave goodbye, yelling “SEE YOU IN ROME!”. Palmer turns away from the champ, back to the crowd who are giving him a standing ovation at this point, and collapses to his knees both mentally and physically exhausted.
Hoffman: Just when you think the surprises of the LBI have concluded… this has been a wide ride!
We see a final shot of the World Champion standing with his back to a kneeling Palmer as the crowd continues to roar.
With the LBI officially in the books, and a winner crowned, the camera suddenly comes back to life– the celebration of Teddy Palmer has had its moment in the sun, but the show is not yet over. The HOV lights up backstage in the Allstate Arena, with the camera zoomed in on a framed ballpoint pen on a plaque, hanging above a mantle.
Yes. That pen.
Lee Best himself sits in his 97Red leather chair, as the camera pans down to show him scowling behind his huge, oak desk. He holds his hands in front of him, taking his attention away from the mountain of paperwork to address the High Octane Faithful. The camera is still extremely zoomed in on his face, not showing the office around him.
Lee Best: All in on Max fucking Kael.
The God of HOW shakes his head in disgust, as he glares into the camera. The spikes on his eyepatch shine in the overhead lights.
Lee Best: I went ALL FUCKING IN on Max Kael. Teddy Palmer, Max? REALLY? TAG TEAM TED wins the fucking ME Invitational? Disgusted. I am actually disgusted, you fucking Darth John Wick manrobot dickhead. Congratulations. We’re fucking bankrupt. You finally killed HOW, dickhead.
The GOD OF HOW is so angry that he isn’t even yelling anymore. He’s past the point of violent anger, and is now the kind of quiet, smoldering rage that makes his words calm and calculated. A hint of a smirk almost appears on his face, like he’s one of the 970,000 HOW wrestlers who wants one on their fucking headshot.
Lee Best: Or at least you would have. Fortunately, we had someone else on the roster in HOW who knew how to hedge their bets. I might have been stupid enough to believe in my adopted son and go all-in, but not everyone was so confident. I’d be packing up this arena right now and heading back to fucking Florida to rent out a fucking bingo hall if someone hadn’t had the foresight to place what ended up being the single smartest bet of the entire Lee Best Invitational.
The camera finally begins to zoom out, revealing that there is another man standing in the office with Lee Best. The only six time ICON Champion in the history of HOW, Michael Lee Best, stands at his father’s side. He’s of course wearing the HOW ICON Championship over his shoulder, still wearing his Batman t-shirt from earlier in the show.
Lee Best: Thank GOD I have two sons.
Reaching up and giving his biological bastard a pat on the shoulder, Lee gives a shitty, mean smile to the camera as he leans back down onto his elbows and looks back at the camera.
Lee Best: As soon as Michael saw the odds go live for Teddy Palmer winning the entire fucking tournament, he locked in a bet that saved this company from going dark forever. I know that my SON and I don’t always see eye to eye, but he did myself– and the rest of you dickheads– a solid tonight. Booking 101 was always to put the ICON Championship on the line at March to Glory against the runner up in the Lee Best Invitational, but if you think I’m rewarding Max Kael for nearly fucking bankrupting this company, then let me dust off an old classic for you: NOT HAPPENING. Instead, as a reward to MY ONLY SON… he’s taking March to Glory off, and the ICON Championship will NOT be defended in Rome.
The Bastard Son can’t help but smirk, as he pats the ICON Championship that rests on his shoulder. While he’s always happy to fight all comers, it would take a moron to decline such a generous gift from GOD.
Lee Best: In fact, to truly show MY ONLY SON how much he means to me, and to this company, I’m officially declaring March to Glory to be SON OF GOD APPRECIATION NIGHT! There will be cake. There will be fucking streamers. There will be curveballs, and surprises, and I’m making THE ONLY SON THAT I ACKNOWLEDGE the official HOST of March to Fucking Glory. And if you want to complain about that, do it in your little Discord groups, because I don’t wanna fucking hear it. See you douchebags in Rome.
With that Refueled XX and the Lee Best Invitational officially comes to an end.