Refueled XXIII
  • Event Type: weekly

Refueled XXIII

Event Date: April 25, 2020 at 10:00 pm

Match One

As the cameras come to life and the picture goes live across households all over the world, the High Octane Wrestling logo flashes over the HOV, followed by the logo for HOTv. The camera pans across the stage as fireworks shoot off into the air, showcasing the specialized set for ReSSSURECTED– the one night event replacing Refueled, here on the final show of MIKE BEST APPRECIATION MONTH.

The camera now begins to pan across the crowd, showcasing fan made signs and showing off a rather impressive sold out arena– of course, any anti-Mike Best signs were confiscated at the door, since tonight is such a historic occasion.

MURRRRRBERRRRG

SHHHH BOBBY’S SLEEPING

WHERE’S MA GODDAMNED ICON TITLE SHOT MIKE? 

FIVETIME SIXTIME

THEY TOOK MY HATE SIGN SO YAY GROUP OF DEATH

ALEX TEDDING AND REDDY PALMER

CECILWORTH “MURDER” FARTHINGTON

BRACE YOURSELVES: WAR GAMES IS COMING

MIKE BEST FOR PRESIDENT CUZ HE’S A SHITTY POLITICIAN

Okay, maybe one anti-Mike Best sign slipped through security.

We quickly see members of the EPU move to escort that particular fan from the arena, before the cameras cut to the Hall of Fame announce team to officially begin tonight’s show.

Joe Hoffman: Good evening everyone, I’m Joe Hoffman, joined as always by my broadcast partner “Big Buff” Benny Newell, and we’re coming to you live for Refueled… or should I say, ReSSURECTED! As announced earlier this week by Lee Best himself, tonight’s show will feature four matches, all of which will see Michael Lee Best in singles action. The main event? The coveted 400th match of the self-proclaimed SON OF GOD!

Benny Newell: That’s goddamned right, Joe. Four matches, no regrets. One last show for Mike Best Appreciation Month, and we’re cramming as much appreciation as we can into one motherfucking show! I have no idea who LEE’S BLESSED SEED will be facing here tonight, but I can’t fucking wait.

Joe Hoffman: Well last week’s Lethal Lottery certain shook things up, Benny. We saw new tag team champions crowned, as the lottery-drawn tag team of Andy Murray and Joe Bergman took on Murray’s own 24K for the HOW Tag Team Championships and emerged victorious. The War Games qualifier matches have begun, Max Kael managed to retain the LSD Championship in one of the most difficult Lethal Lottery matches in history, and Mike Best retained the ICON Championship against Bobby Dean.

Benny Newell: He FUCKING MURDERED Bobby Dean, Joe. That fat shit is in a fucking bologna flavored coma right now, dreaming about Boston motherfucking cream pie. Mike Best ought to rename those elbows “Diabetes”, because he’s the thing that killed Bobby Fucking Dean.

Joe Hoffman: Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Bobby Dean, who has my partner callously mentioned, is currently in intensive care right here in Chicago.

Benny Newell: Fat people aren’t people, Joe. It’s fine.

Joe Hoffman: Well, we’re hoping to have an update on Bobby here on tonight’s show, and I’m sure we’ll hear from the many different wrestlers who were impacted both positively and negatively by last week’s Lethal Lottery. But before we get to that, we’re ready for the opening contest of tonight’s special four match card. Let’s get into it!

Almost as if on cue, music begins to play over the speakers heralding the arrival of Mike Best, but it isn’t the music you’d expect. In both a throwback to the old days, and a blatant disrespect to the man he seriously injured last week, “The Best Around” by Joe Esposito’s riffs are what is playing over the sound system, and the fans shit all over it… immediately.

Mike Best doesn’t appear to give a fuck, as he makes his way out from behind the curtain with the ICON Title over his shoulder and a microphone in his hand.

Joe Hoffman: Well this is disgusting. The definition of adding insult to injury, Mike Best is making his way to the ring to the theme music of Bobby Dean. The man is in the hospital, for God’s sake!

Benny Newell: Oh don’t be such a little bitch, Joe. It was his music first! Mike Best used it for years!

Joe Hoffman: Yeah, because he literally stole it from Bobby Dean!

Benny Newell: Agree to disagree.

Michael makes his way down the ramp, rolling under the ropes and popping quickly to his feet in the first of many entrances here tonight. Microphone in hand, he waits for his iconic theme music to fade away before speaking. Of course, he’s also contending with a crowd full of people who are doing their absolute best to boo him out of the building on his own historic night.

Mike Best: Come on, now. This is no way to APPRECIATE the SON OF GODis it? I’m the greatest ICON Champion in history! I’m the architect of the Group of Death! I’m a High Octane Hall of Famer– hell, I’m THE BEST AROUND!

More boos. Loud boos. One boo, two boos, red boos, blue boos. Like an unruly passenger on the Cecilworth M. J. Farthington Disco & Grappling Shindig at Sea, he’s taking in an unreasonable amount of boos.

Mike Best: I know, I know. You’re all upset about Bobby Dean. I am too! I love Bobby! We go way, way back. We were friends before HOW. We were friends and stablemates before anyone even knew what an eGG Bandit was. It broke my heart to hurt Bobby like that, folks, but you have to understand… nothing… nothing… gets between Mike Best and the HOW ICON Championship.

He paces the ring as he talks, going through the motions of sounding like he feels badly about what happened. It’s very, very clear that he does not.

Mike Best: See, I’m going to do something that no one has ever done before. I am going to successfully defend the HOW ICON Championship eight times– a number never before reached, in any era of High Octane Wrestling. And to do that, some sacrifices will need to be made. Some regrets will need to be wiped clean. And tonight, ladies and gentlemen… Tonight is about doing both of those things. Four matches. No regrets.

The crowd is already tired of listening to Mike Best prattle on about himself, and we haven’t even reached the first bell. They’re strapping in for a long night, as he continues.

Mike Best: Tonight, four men will walk down the ramp to take me on for the HOW ICON Championship. Four defenses, in one night– an unprecedented night, and an unprecedented achievement. And when this night is over… I will have successfully defended the ICON Championship five times, with only three to go. And to prove that I truly am the single greatest ICON Champion in history, not only am I going to wrestle these four matches, IN ONE NIGHT… but I’m going to do it… alone. No Group of Death. No help from my Father. No interference of any kind. In fact, if any member of the Group of Death should so much as step through that entranceway or hop that guardrail to assist me in LITERALLY ANY WAY… I will immediately forfeit the HOW ICON Championship, and never compete for it again.

At this, there is actually a giant cheer from the Chicago crowd– the idea that Mike Best could lose his championship tonight due to his own hubris brings actual joy into their angry little hearts, and the cheer is one of the loudest that Mike has heard in some time. He doesn’t understand the irony, so a smile comes across his face.

Mike Best: So with that said, the first match of tonight’s show will be contested under OFFICIAL HOFC THROWBACK MMA RULES– five rounds, and the only way to win is by submission or knockout! And of course, officiating the bout will be the HOFC Legend himself, the ORIGINAL REFEREE of the HOFC Division… Rick… Motherfucking… Stevens! Let’s bring out the challenger.

“Uprising” by Muse begins to play over the sound system, as the fans stare in confusion at the entrance ramp. Instead of a huge name like Mikey Unlikely or even a throwback like Mark O’Neal, the fans are stunned as former HOW ICON Champion Crane steps out from behind the curtain, looking more than a little bit out of shape after his many years away from the sport.

Joe Hoffman: Oh.

Benny Newell: AAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA IT’S FUCKING CRANE!

Joe Hoffman: I don’t know why I didn’t expect this, folks. I get the distinct feeling that tonight’s matches aren’t exactly going to be five star matches.

Benny Newell: What are you talking about, dickhead? Crane stole the ICON Championship from Mike Best back in 2011– literally STOLE! It’s the only match in HOW history that Lee Best ever PUBLICLY ADMITTED that the referee’s made the wrong decision on, and that titfuck Crane quit before the rematch! THIS IS JUSTICE!

Crane makes his way to the ring with little fanfare, still pissed off after all these years that HOW is a shitty pyramid scheme. He climbs up the steps and onto the apron, ducking under the ropes and taking his corner. Rick Stevens asks both competitors if they’re ready, and on confirmation he signals for the bell to be rung.

DING DING DING

The first round is officially on the clock, as Rick Stevens steps backward to let the men fight. Crane comes charging in and shoots for a takedown, but is blocked immediately by a sprawl from the champion. He shoots in a second time, but the takedown attempt gets stuffed once more.

Joe Hoffman: Yeah, this is going to be a wholesale murder. Jesus.

Benny Newell: Why are you saying that like this is a bad thing? WE’RE NOT A PYRAMID SCHEME YOU BRAD JACKSON ADJACENT PIECE OF ACTUAL SHIT! GO BEG GIA VAN ZANT TO SHOW YOU HER TITS, SO YOU CAN SEE A PAIR THAT ISN’T PIXELATED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR LIFE, YOU RAT FUCK!

Frustrated, the shortest reigning ICON Champion in history throws a wild haymaker, and Michael Best immediately traps him into his signature shining triangle choke– Crane taps out merely seconds into the match, already breathing heavy and clearly out of wrestling shape, as the official bell is rung.

DING DING DING

Michael pulls back on the hold, keeping it locked in for an extra couple of seconds with a shit eating grin on his face, just because he can. He’s bragging about nothing. Crane clearly hasn’t competed in at least five years, and is entirely out of wrestling shape.

Bryan McVay: Here is your winner, in fourteen seconds, and STILL HOW ICON CHAMPIONSHIP…. MICHAEL… LEE…. BEEEEESSSSSSST!

Finally releasing the hold, Mike Best gives Crane a solid kick in the gut, snatching the ICON Championship from Bryan McVay and aggressively holding it over his head. He’s one match down, as the cameras cut away to the first segment of the evening.

Sweet Dreams are Made of These

The following pre taped PSA comes to you from inside Bobby Dean’s hospital room.

Earlier today…

The shot opens on Bobby Dean sleeping like an angel in a losing hospital bed. His head is  heavily bandaged, while the rest of him is covered in a 2XL hospital gown. There are no breathing tubes or IV’s connected to him, just the little thingy that clips onto your finger to monitor vitals.

The shot slowly starts to pan out, revealing Doozer to Bob’s left. He’s seated, and dressed in street clothes: plain white T, Levi jeans, and a pair of Reeboks. In his grasp is a dirty magazine. Bobby always liked to read the articles, so Dooze has taken up the mantle while The Man from Honalee sleeps for his life.

The shot opens up even further, revealing the entirety of Bob’s hospital suite. It’s here we see  Cancer Jiles stalking about the room like an innocent man inside of a prison cell. He’s also dressed in street clothes: vibrant silk shirt, fancy slacks, and alligator loafers.

The Bostonian grabs a hold of Bob’s closest hand. Then, as optimistic as humanly possible, he addresses the viewing audience.

Doozer: Hello, High Octane. We, the eGG Bandits, come to you with an update on our friend, and brother, Bobby Dean. As you know, following the tragic events at the Lethal Lottery, Bobby was admitted to the hospital and placed into a medically induced coma. Since then, while his condition has stabilized and his vitals are trending upwards, he remains comatose.

The Malignant Maestro of COOL stops his jailhouse pacing and attempts to join in the update. But alas, he waves it off and passes the buck back to Doozer.

The angst is real.

Doozer: The good news is Bob’s coma is no longer medically induced. His Doctor said that  while his body and mind still have a ways to go as far as recovering, all he simply but not so simply needs to do is wake up. He also said that if it weren’t for the recent weight loss, improved diet, and exercise, it’s possible Bobby wouldn’t have made it.

The Dooze looks over at Jiles to see if he’s ready to speak.

Sadly, The Cantankerous Captain of COOL is checking out his hair in a small mirror.

I know.

The gaul.

However, this is one of the ways Jiles calms himself down. Some people count down from ten. Some people take a deep breath. He checks his hair, and in this instance, manages to once again wave off The Dooze.

Doozer: The Doctor did warn of the possible side effects Bob could suffer from being asleep for so long. While they ranged from mobility, strength, and senses to name a few, there is no guarantee he will fall victim. He also said there’s a good chance that when he wakes he will be the same person we all have known and loved.

The Dooze sneaks a peak at Jiles.

Thankfully, the pure blooded COOLYMPIAN now appears ready. Calm and collected, he walks over and stands on the side of Bobby’s bed that is opposite of Doozer. Then, he reaches out and delicately grabs Bob’s other hand.

Jiles: Bobby says hi.

Ironically enough the hand motion that is made is more jerking off than waving hello.

Or not ironic at all really.

Jiles: I’d like to take this moment to thank the good doctors here at Chicago Memorial for looking after my dear, beautiful friend. They have been tremendous. I do not know where we’d be without them. I’d also like to thank the good people who have sent flowers, prayer cards, and chocolate covered eggs leftover from Easter. It hasn’t been easy, but all of the love you’ve sent Bobby’s way has helped. Please, do not stop. Continue to pray, continue to support, continue to love Bobby Dead.

Doozer: Dean.

Jiles: Dean! And I know one day soon, at a time to be determined, he’ll be back inside that wrestling ring.

Doozer: Don’t forget about the other thing.

Jiles: Oh, and while WE have you. I’d like to announce that due to Robert’s current predicament, and with an eye toward the future, the eGG Bandit’s are looking to bolster their numbers. For the first time since Cardboard Dan joined our prestigious ranks, we, the once again unified brothers of the yolk and shell, are ready and willing to change someone’s future. Apply during the week, and interviews will be held on the next show! We look forward to hearing from ALL of you.

Leave it to the Bandits to start a recruitment drive from the hospital room of one of their fallen.

Oh well.

At least it seems as if Bob’s brutal beatdown was not in vain, and has now become a rallying cry for the recently conflicted eGG Bandits.

Thanks?

Cut to commercial.

 

Match Two

Joe Hoffman: Well with one match down already, folks, it’s looking like Mike Best has not exactly lined up the competition of the decade here tonight. We’re getting ready to begin the second match of the evening, and at this point I have to assume we’re going to continue to see lackluster matchups.

Benny Newell: Says you, Joe. I really enjoyed the opener. Thought it set a good tone. Thought Crane got some good offense in. If you weren’t such a hater, you would have enjoyed that CLASSIC MATCH.

Joe Hoffman: I’m surprised you don’t need a medical grade chapstick, Benny. I really, really am.

Benny Newell: Hey, I just know greatness when I see it. And this show is fucking greatness. When you win twenty plus singles championships in HOW, you can have your own fucking show, alright? For now, I APPRECIATE MIKE BEST!

As the fans in the arena prepare to see what relic from the past Mike Best has come up with this time, “Don’t Hate Me” by Nerfherder begins to play over the speakers, yet another throwback theme song for the HOW ICON Champion. He makes his way out from behind the curtain for the second time tonight, briskly headed towards the ring with the ICON Title on his shoulder.

He quickly hops up the ring steps, before ducking into the ring and handing his championship off to referee Matt Boettcher.

Joe Hoffman: So who is it gonna be, Benny? Frankie the Cameraman? Shocker? El Hombre Blanco? Or maybe the cardboard cutout of Dan Ryan the Bandits keep backstage?

Benny Newell: All that salt, and me without any tequila.

The instrumental chorus of Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” takes over the sound system, bringing the arena to rise out of their seats– they actually KNOW this guy! The one and only Professor Keller! He steps out onto the stage in his tearaway suit, ripping it off as he makes his way down the ramp.

Joe Hoffman: I… I stand corrected. It’s Professor Keller, former HOW World Champion!

Benny Newell: HOLY SHIT! I forgot that guy existed! He beat Mike Best in 2014 for not only the World Title, but ownership of the whole fucking company! THE OPPONENTS HAVE A THEME, JOE, AND THEY ARE GETTING BETTER AS THEY GO! YOU WERE FUCKING WRONG!

Joe Hoffman: ……

Benny Newell: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! YOU WERE WRONG!

Stanley Keller stops for a moment at ringside, taking in how long it’s been since he was in a HOW ring as he sets his glasses near the ring steps. He climbs up into the ring, taking the opposite corner and staring at Michael with an intense, devious smirk on his face.

Referee Matt Boettcher calls for the bell.

DING DING DING

In a call back to their match six years ago, neither man rushes in, starting the match by circling around the ring and feeling eachother out. It would appear that Mike has learned a thing or two from their previous encounter, though, because as Keller gives up a head fake, trying to draw Mike in… Best shoots in from the bottom and takes Keller out at the legs! He dives onto the Professor, slamming into him with a barrage of right hands, much to the chagrin of the fans in attendance.

Joe Hoffman: An aggressive start from Mike Best, looking to get his shots in early. This won’t be the same walk in the park that he had against Crane– this man is a former HOW World Champion.

Benny Newell: Oh, what, suddenly this isn’t a joke match? FUCK YOU. Get him, Mike!

Keller wants to cover up, but instead he grabs Best by the hair, pulling him into a headlock! Michael Lee Best is stuck in a guillotine as Stanley tries to choke him out, and he’s forced to release his top position to get free. He thrusts to his feet and staggers back, holding his neck and giving Keller room to stand up.

Best shoots in again, but this time Keller counters with a side headlock. He runs to the corner for a bulldog, but Best pushes him off, sending Keller to the ropes. On the rebound, Mike looks for the back body drop, but Keller kicks him in the face to the roar of the crowd! The Professor leaps into the air, connecting with a smashing dropkick that staggers Mike Best back against the ropes.

Joe Hoffman: WHOA! What a shot!

Benny Newell: Shot? DON’T MIND IF I DO, HOFFHOLE!

Keller rushes forward, but Mike grabs the ropes and pulls them down, trying to send Keller flying to the concrete below! Keller lands on the apron, catching his balance, and as Mike turns around, he grabs the ICON Champion by the arm! Diving over the ropes, Keller tries to turn it into a rolling cross arm breaker in the center of the ring!

Joe Hoffman: THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL! WE COULD HAVE A NEW CHAMPION!

Benny Newell: WAIT NO TAKE BACK THAT THING ABOUT INTERFERENCE!

Michael struggles to keep Keller from locking in the hold, and he rolls to his side, trying to wrench free. With his free hand, he reaches forward, gouging at Keller’s eyes and forcing him to release the hold!

The crowd goes ballistic, pissed off that we didn’t see a winner in the opening minutes of this match, but Mike Best flips the fans a collective bird, clearly not giving a fuck anymore. Matt Boettcher gets into his face, threatening to disqualify him for blatantly cheating, while Best mocks the senior official and bounces off the opposite ropes.

*THWACK!*

Like a ton of bricks shot from a tornado, Michael Lee Best smashes the I KNEED A HERO directly into the face of Stanley Keller, having learned the hard way that the best way to deal with Keller is to catch him blind and end it early. The former World Champ hits the mat, and Mike Best drops for the pin.

 

ONE!

 

TWO!

 

THREE!

 

DING DING DING

A valiant effort for Professor Keller, but his return to the ring is both short lived and unsuccessful as Mike Best stands up from the pin, aggressively grabbing the ICON Championship and once again holding it over his head. Two matches down, with two to go.

Bryan McVay: Here is your winner… and STILL…. HOW ICON Champion… MICHAEL… LEE…. BEEEEESSSSTTTTTT!

Action cuts away….

Uphill Battle

We cut backstage to Blaire Moise, looking small and insignificant in favor of the gigantic ‘WAR GAMES IS COMING’ banner behind her. You know what backstages look like.

Blaire Moise: We’re rolling hard on HOW Resurrected, but we’re also looking to the future! Seven days from now, to be specific, where the HOW World Tag Team Championship will be on the line, as new champions Andy Murray and Joe Bergman will defend against their number one contenders…

She pauses as MJ Flair enters from the left, and Jack Harmen from the right. Harmen stands stoic, chomping on an enormous glob of chewing gum, while Flair moves from foot to foot, clearly bursting with energy.

Blair Moise: …Jack Harmen and MJ Flair. You two have had a pretty rough year so far, how do you think that will affect your focus next week?

Jack Harmen laughs, so she turns towards him.

Jack Harmen: Rough? Getting busted open with the flat end of a shovel is ‘rough.’ Wrestling a match in a hot spot on a card climaxed with a terrorist bombing is ‘rough.’ Rewriting match stipulations on the fly just to fuck with your opponent – that’s ‘rough.’ A string of losses?

He laughs again.

Jack Harmen: The right three seconds next week erases all of it. Doesn’t matter how it got there if the gold’s on your shoulders…

Blaire considers this while MJ Flair nods her head in agreement.

Blaire Moise: This match was originally supposed to be the two of you against Andy Murray and Perfection –

MJ seems to be stifling back a horde of laughter.

Blaire Moise: – and that’s been the presumed match since March to Glory. The wild card in all this is Joe Bergman, a man you weren’t expecting to wrestle and a man Andy Murray was not expecting to be teamed up with. How will this sudden twist affect your preparation?

Jack Harmen: Joe’s a good egg, gonna be a shame to crack him. To be honest, it changes a lot, but more changes for Murray than us. Can he even get along with Joe Everyman? Or will his own ego destroy this fragile partnership? That being said, does this mean Murray won the tag team titles from himself? I’m so confused about that…

MJ swings her attention back around.

MJF: At the bottom’a the pile, man…

Jack Harmen: …like a snake eating itself…

MJF: It doesn’t matter what duo goes inta’ this match with the High Octane Tag Team Titles – we got an uphill climb ‘cause we’re the challengers. Andy Murray? All respect ta’ the man after steppin’ in the ring with him, he’s The King, and he’s clearly earned that moniker for a reason. Clearly, the man knows how to win, but the question with Andy is his physical health, and that shit’s the sword’a Damocles hangin’ over his head.

Jack Harmen: That ain’t no crime.

MJF: Joe Bergman seems like a good guy, a solid athlete at the end of it. But how will they function? Andy Murray and Little Jimmy were a team outta necessity and convenience, but Bergman’s got himself a partner already in Steve Solex. These guys, two completely different styles’a wrestler. Two completely different points’a view, and two completely different career paths t’get here. Will it matter? Of course it will. Will it be a detriment?

She taps the side of her head.

MJF: There’s the question.

Blaire Moise: Final thoughts before next week?

MJF: This one’s gonna hurt. We know it, the two’a you know it. Just do us all a favor and tell ya boys ta stay out of it, right? Cause one’a these teams is gonna walk out with the High Octane World Tag Team Championships, and I think it’s safe ta say that none of us wants any of us t’have an excuse as ta why.

Jack Harmen: Any interference from 24k in this match will be considered a forfeit of your manhood, Murray. And Berg? Sorry ‘bout the mouthwash way back when, but seriously dude, go see a dentist. That ain’t right.

Blaire Moise: Alright folks……time to cut to a video from earlier tonight…

 

Disrespect

Earlier today, outside the arena we find Darin Matthews decked in an expensive dinner jacket, black vest, black bow tie, and shiny black shoes carrying a present wrapped in red and black wrapping paper.  Behind him, he pulls his suitcase filled with championships. Meredith stands beside him in sultry black dress exposing her cleavage.  Her blonde hair and her glasses as the approach the arena.  Matthews confidently strides towards the building, continuing to ramble on to Meredith about his accomplishments and accolades.  His smug smile and overconfidence continue to beam through as he’s excited about tonight’s Mike Best Appreciation month festivities.  Deep down, he knows this will work to secure his in-ring career back in HOW.

Darin Matthews:  I can’t go wrong tonight Meredith.  I just can’t!  HOW’s benevolent independent sensation and 23-time championship caliber athlete Darin Matthews is getting his job back.  I’m going to get my match to prove to the world I’ve changed.  I’ve grown up.  That together with the brand recognition of HOW behind my name:  I can accomplish gaining championship 24 and beyond.

Meredith:  This seems insincere if I’m being honest.

Darin Matthews: I didn’t ask you for your opinion, Meredith.  You’re just a business manager…

Meredith rolls her eyes at Matthews.  Clearly, she’s had to deal with him for the past week since his MVW Men’s Heavyweight Championship got stolen from him for “not defending it.”  You can tell she doesn’t want this job, but needs it.  Her eyes twitch from nerves and frustration as she turns off to the side and murmurs under her breath.

Meredith:  Asshat.

Darin clears his throat and glares a hole straight into her as she just looks away.  He continues to talk, clearly becoming more animated and louder as he speaks.

Darin Matthews:  I’m brilliant.  Brilliant I tell you!  I know the one way into Lee Best’s heart:  his son.  He’s so proud of all his son’s accomplishments, Meredith.  He’s a former 8-time World Champion, a Hall of Famer and he proudly wears the ICON Championship he’s won six times.  He conquers everything he touches.  He’s the fruit of Lee’s loins.  He’s a chip off the old block.  I had to spare no expense in giving Mike a gift.  I spent a fortune on his present.  I didn’t have to do it. I wanted to do it.  You have to wine and dine the big wigs to get ahead in this business.

Meredith:  Right?  You’re trying to brown nose.  I get it, Darin.  You’ve only talked about this present 100 times on the way here.

Darin Matthews:    Meredith!  I use to think like you.  I hated when wrestlers would do it.  But get the terminology right, doll.  It’s buying in.  I’m buying into the brand.  I’m showing commitment.  I’ve had problems with the Bests all these years.  I used to go on Twitter, their show, the whole 9 yards and bitch about getting overlooked.  But I wasn’t showing the Best Family any respect.   I needed to make sure to get them the finest gift.

Matthews grabs Meredith’s shoulder and turns her around to show her the fans lining up for the show as he points and laughs at them.

Darin Matthews:  Unlike these worthless peons, I show my future boss respect.  I broke bank to prove how bad I want this job.

He then leans down to his suitcase and points to it proudly.

Darin Matthews:  Then when they see this magnificent present and my amazing resume; I’ll get my HOW wrestling career back.  You’ll see!  They’ll see!  They’ll all see!

Matthews eyes widen and his eyes begin twitching.  His smile slowly curves around his lips as the stress and pressure builds up inside of him.  He walks towards the entrance where talent report for duty, but gets met with a huge security guard who weighs about 285 pounds, has chest tattoos, and has a long beard.  He steps straight in front of Matthews.  Darin balks at him before loudly exclaiming.

Darin Matthews:  How dare you disrespect me?  Do you know who I am?  I’m the Tyrant of Territories…Darin…

Security Guard:  Zion?  I have strict order from Lee Best to deny you access to the building.

Darin Matthews:  You heathen…it’s not Zion.  It’s Matthews!  Matthews!  M-A-T-T—

The security guard leans down and shoots a death stare straight into Darin Matthews’ eyes.  He can feel the seriousness and smell the chewing tobacco this guard breathes straight into Matthews face before he spits it off to the side.  He cracks his knuckles and pulls out the clipboard.  He shoves it in Darin’s face.

Security Guard:  I don’t give a fuck how you spell it, Mr. Best clearly put your name and picture on this clipboard.  He clearly stated not to let that, and I quote, “delusional fuckstick near my son’s celebration tonight.”

Matthews is appalled at this decision.  He shoves his suitcase and present right at Meredith before he begins to wag his finger and poke the security guard’s chest.

Darin Matthews:  You listen to me right now.  I deserve my meeting with Lee.  I’ve worked my ass off 15 years.  I bought his son a present an extravagant gift all to earn my…

CRACK!  CRACK!  CRACK!

Security Guard:  Listen, now’s not the time to try and be tough to earn your contract back.    Mr. Best has more important things to do than deal with some 15-year-old cry baby like yourself.  It can wait until next week.  Tuck what’s left of your small ego between your legs and walk away before I ruin what little reputation you have left.

You can audibly hear Matthews’ gulp in the background.  He scoffs at the security guard’s threats while he turns his back around.  He grabs his suitcase as he passes Meredith, who grabs her face and chuckles under her breath while muttering softly.

Meredith:  You deserved that.

Darin Matthews: Fine!  Disrespect me you worthless, tattooed heathen.  I’ve made more money in one night of my career than you’ve made in your entire worthless life.  My lawyers will hear about this…

Meredith nudges stiffly in the gut trying to shut him up and he begins bickering at her as they walk away into their rented limousine for the evening.  The guard shakes his head at Matthews as they both leave for the evening.

The pre-taped video ends and we head to commercial break

Llega El Carnaval

Back live and as we cut backstage we are greeted with a loud male voice and very heavy footsteps, walking into the picture is what can only be described as the carnivals ring leader, dressed somewhat between looking like a clown and like an old school gentleman from the early forties.

Ring Leader – “Roll Up, Roll Up the carnival is coming to town! featuring the amazing Pierre and his one-legged mouse, Javier the brave and his amazing one-eyed lion, and all the other great freaks from all around the world. Not to be missed!! coming soon to your eyes at your own very town. Can you beat the wall of death? How about going one on one with our own Mexican superstar Lucian, find out next week if you have what it takes to win the top dollar, only next week when the carnival comes into town!.”

Blaire Moise – the carnival is coming to town?

Ring Leader – That is correct Blaire! Are you excited?

Blaire Moise – I am not sure to be honest!

Ring Leader – What do you mean you are not sure? Do you not like the lights? do you not like animals? Do you not like how we manipulate the minds of all the people who come to watch us? Ha! Just joking, we would never do something so evil to someone so pure like yourself. No.

Blaire looks puzzled even more now than before.

Ring Leader – Make way, make way, here comes the newest superstar on the High Octane Wrestling roster, you saw him last week win his debut match to enter the War Games Draft, but tonight Blaire he is here in Person…Here is Lucian!

Suddenly streamers fly across the room as Lucian Santangel makes his way into the camera shot. Wearing a traditional Mexican suit which can only be described as a mariachi band jacket and black slacks.

Lucian Santangel – Hola Blaire, Hola Amigos, Hola High Octane Wrestling.

Lucian waves to Blaire before looking into the camera.

Lucian Santangel– Last week, we saw myself and a lesser-known man called Dan Ryan advance into the draft of War Games thanks to some amazing tag team action…

Before Lucian can carry on Blaire buts in with a sharp question.

Blaire Moise – Lesser-known man? I believe Dan Ryan won the match?, I mean all we saw you do is take a knee to the face!

Lucian Santangel – Excuse me!

Lucian’s face goes from happy to a stone-cold blank expression.

Lucian Santangel – Did the guy who rammed his knee into me win? Is he going to war games? No! I am!. How dare you say such lies to me that I never won the match. Next week I step toe-to-toe with another loser in the match, Zeb Martin. I guess you think Zeb will get the upper hand in that match too?

Blaire Moise – Well…

Lucian Santangel – Be quiet, The carnival will show you and all these other doubters wrong as Lucian is here to show you all what he can do, Zeb, it starts with you! Be Prepared Zeb, Be prepared.

Lucian and the Ring leader walk out of the camera shot.

Match Three

We return ringside where Bryan McVay is standing in the center of the ring with referee Joel Hortega nearby as we prepare for the third match of the night.

Joe Hoffman: Up next Mike Best is going to be defending his ICON Championship for the third time in a series of four title matches in total. This time he’s up against a young man who managed to upset Mike Best years ago defeating him for his then High Octane Wrestling World Championship.

Benny Newell: Townsend is coming back!? DRINK!

Joe Hoffman: No, not likely Benny. It’s one time HOW World Champion Adonis Smyth!

Benny Newell: Oh.. great? DRINK!

Back in the ring McVay lifts the microphone to his lips as the crowd quiets.

Bryan McVay:  Introducing First the challenger..

“Whoa is Me” by Down With Webster pumps out over the P.A. system as Adonis Smyth makes his way out onto the stage with a look of determination on his face. He is met with a healthy pop from the HOW faithful who remember his surprising week long run with the HOW World Championship.

Bryan McVay: AAAAAADONIS SMYYYYYYYTH!

Joe Hoffman: McVay forgoing Adonis Smyth’s hometown, weight and height as I understand it the front office never got McVay a card for Smyth.

Benny Newell: Well why the fuck would they, Hoffman? The answer is they wouldn’t cause Mike is about to destroy this guy.

Smyth bounces on the stage for a moment, psyching himself up as best he can before he moves down to the ring. He quickly enters as referee Joel Hortega checks the man over as the lights dim and the music cuts short.

Bryan McVay: And his opponent.. Once again ICON Champion MIIIIIKE BBBBBBBEEEEEEEEEEEEEST!

“Power” by Kanye West kicks up as we all have a moment to reflect on how good West was before he started to drink his own koolaid. Spotlights center on the stage as Mike Best appears once again, the ICON Championship hanging over his shoulder. Much like the nature of his music Mike swaggers out like a man with two extra pair of nuts and a very large cock.

Joe Hoffman: This will be Mikes third match of the evening for the ICON Championship and technically a rubber match between these two men.

Benny Newell: It will be end for Adonis Smyth with the roll that Mike is on right now, and not only that but look at that swagger, Hoffman! That is the way a man with a huge dick walks!

Joe Hoffman: I would like to remind fans that Mike Best has, in fact, a very average sized penis, not that there is any shame in it, I only point it out because Mike Best walks like a man whose had a record setting number of ICON and World Championships.

Benny Newell: All post effects, they didn’t want anyone killing themselves over the massive dong that Mike Best inherited from his father! I’ve seen it in person, it’s a full 5’6’’ long and about as wide as a-

Joe Hoffman: Thank you Benny!

Strutting to the ring Michael takes a lackadaisical step up onto the apron beaming a shit eating grin directly at Adonis who has maintained the expression of focus. Slipping between the ropes Mike pulls the belt off his shoulder and tosses it to Hortega before he unexpectedly lunges at Adonis Smyth caughting him off guard as he tackles him to the ground!

Reigning a series of closed fists down Adonis Smyth covers up as the bell rings!

Joe Hoffman: How is that even fair! Mike attacks an unprepared Smyth before the bell!

DING DING DING!

Benny Newell: There’s the bell, Hoffman, happy now?! DRINK!

Hortega tosses the belt to Bryan McVay as he exits the ring before he immediately begins yelling in Spanish at Mike for his continued assault on Adonis. Eventually Mike relents and stands up, his arms help up in the air as Joel checks on the battered Smyth. A chorus of fresh boos rain down on Mike as he wears an arrogant smile.

As Smyth climbs to his feet Mike is on the attack once again, charging forward with a short clothesline and sends Smyth down. Dragging him up to his feet Mike sends Adonis into the ropes and catches him mid gut with a lifted knee causing the challenger to once again hit the mat hard.

Joe Hoffman: Mike, despite his age, is still one of the best technical wrestlers in the business with his MMA style blended in and we can see here Mike playing with Smyth.

Benny Newell: This is Mike Best Appreciation, Joe, that means we’re supposed to appreciate him! So Appreciate that he’s enjoying himself for fuck sake!

With the patience of a predator working on a wounded animal Mike circles Smyth before he darts in again executing a brutal Belly to Belly suplex! Maintaining waist control Mike drags Adonis back up and spins him around and hoisting him up into a high elevation release german suplex sending his opponent crashing down half way across the ring on the back of his head!

He once again takes his time as Smyth slowly staggers up to his feet, his eyes swimming in his head as he stumbles around the ring. Darting in once again Mike slips behind Smyth and executes a snap dragon suplex, floating over to cinch Adonis back up to his feet before he tosses him with a half nelson suplex, this time following through with an arch to put the man into a pinning predicament.

Joe Hoffman: After a series of brutal suplexes Mike looks like he might end it here..

Benny Newell: SUPREX SHITTY!

 

Uno..

 

Dos..

 

KICKOUT!

 

Benny Newell: What an idiot!

Joe Hoffman: Surprisingly Smyth kicks out! But.. I might be in agreement with you, Benny, I’m not sure how smart that was..

Somehow Smyth manages to kick out of the suplex, the ever present smile on Mike’s one of pure amusement. He slowly climbs back up to his feet as he looks at the near lifeless body of Adonis Smyth at his feet. Dragging the smaller man up once again Mike hooks him up for a vertical suplex as he hoists him up into the air..

CUTTER!

Somehow Smyth was able to use his momentum to spin out of the suplex and executed a surprise cutter on Mike wiping the smile clean off his face. Stunned, Mike Best rolls out of the ring and collapses to the floor out the outside as he holds his jaw. The fans explode as Adonis Smyth scrambles around the ring desperately trying to build some momentum.

Joe Hoffman: That was a HUGE change up in the direction this match was going, Benny! Can Adonis Smyth capitalize on that incredible counter?!

Benny Newell: WHAT?! WHAT DID I MISS!? I was drinking and I didn’t catch that counter?! GET HIM MIKE! FAST!

Looking to take advantage Smyth fires his afterburners and keeps the pressure up using the ropes to build speed before he drives over the top rope and comes crashing down on Mike Best! The ICON Champion crumbles under the attack as Smyth looks reborn, the fans rallying behind him!

He works fast to pick Mike up, rolling him back in the ring as he climbs the ropes! Mike struggles to stand up as Smyth flies!

Mike eats a diving hurricanrana that sends him crashing to the mat as Adonis Smyth desperately clamours over the top of his fallen opponent!

Joe Hoffman: He’s going to do it! He’s going to make magic happen twice!

Benny Newell: NO! KICKOUT!

 

UNO!

 

DOS!

 

KICKOUT!’

 

Benny Newell: Thank Fuck!

Joe Hoffman: A very determined kick out by Mike, not even close to a three count by still a surprising display by Adonis against Mike right now! He needs to keep up this pressure if he wants to get all three seconds though.

Benny Newell: Not Happening Hoff!

Mike kicks out well before the third hand falls, his face flushed red and marked by surprise. Smyth looks disappointed but he knows he has to keep the pressure up on Mike. Dragging Mike up to his feet Smyth takes to the ropes looking for a big closeline!

THWACK!

Mike spins and connects hard with an elbow right to the side of Adonis’s jaw as he attempts the closeline. Smyth’s head bounces hard off the mat as his body goes limp. Mike’s face contorted with rage as he mouths the challenger’s body.

Joe Hoffman: Mike might have just knocked Adonis Smyth into next year with that strike!

Benny Newell: Kill him! Kill him now!

So begins a merciless series of elbows directly to the side of Adonis Smyth’s head. Not some weak forearm smashes mind you, Mike drives the point of his elbow down over and over and over again driving it down toward the side of Smyth’s unprotected head.

The booing slowly fades as Mike keeps the attack up. An uncomfortable silence begins to fill the arena as the wet sound of bone and meat colliding intercut with the lound, savage grunts of Mike replacing any audience reaction.

With Adonis Smyth’s face little more than an unrecognizable puddle of mashed facial tissue and broken bone Mike stands up and puts a foot on his face as a horrified Joel Hortega drops for the pin.

 

Uno.

 

Dos.

 

Tres.

 

Winner: MIKE BEST IN 6 MINUTES 23 SECONDS.

Joe Hoffman: Mike Best retains his ICON title for the third time tonight and.. Folks I think we’re going to.. Sorry I KNOW we are going to need a medical team out here for Adonis Smyth as Mike.. well..

Benny Newell: He shows you what happens when you’re an untalented hack who gets into the ring with a real fight like Mike Best! Somebody call the Wahbulance cause Mike Best just got a hospital another paying customer!

Section 214K

Joe Hoffman: Last week at Refueled 22, the Lethal Lottery lived up to its name in the HOW Tag Team Title match.  Joe Bergman was the first man drawn to this match.  Who would be the second?

(LAST WEEK-HOW Tag Team Title Match: The Hollywood Bruvs © vs. ????)

Bergman climbs onto the turnbuckle and raises a can of PBR to the people in Section 214.

Joe Hoffman: Bergman is more than enough challenge for the Bruvs as was the first World champion of the Refueled era and only two time champion as well since we came back.

Benny Newell: I’ll give credit where credit is due Hoffman and Bergman can get the job done in the ring.

The Bruvs seems confident as they make fun of the ordinary one, but their expressions change when they hear……

“The Facts” by Trap Them

. . . fires up with its driving rhythm and razor-sharp guitar tone, heralding Andy Murray’s arrival.

The big man strides out from the back with a loose swagger. 

Joe Hoffman: Uh oh.

(END VIDEO)

Joe Hoffman: Which led to this.

(LAST WEEK-HOW Tag Team Title Match: The Hollywood Bruvs © vs. Andy Murray and Joe Bergman)

As Joe drops to a knee, Mikey goes behind Bergman and hooks him.

Before Mikey can do anything the massive bicep of Andy Murray wraps itself around the neck of Mikey Unlikely and the Scotsman picks up his stablemate and drops him on his head.

Joe Hoffman: Spirit crusher!

Cover.

One.

Two.

Three.

Benny Newell: YES! Wait…….FUCK IT! DRINK!

Bryan McVay: And your winners by pinfall, AND NEW! HOW WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS!…..JOE! BERG! MAAAAAAAAAN! AND THE KING OF WRESTLING! ANNNNNNNNDY! MURRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAY!

Murray grabs both tag titles and looks at both before tossing one towards Joe Bergman and the big man helps Kendrix get Mikey out of the ring and all three members of 24K head towards the ramp as Bergman looks on.

(END VIDEO)

Joe Hoffman: Let’s go to Blaire Moise in the ring for what promises to be a very unique interview with the new HOW Tag Team Champions, Andy Murray and Joe Bergman.

Blaire Moise: Thanks Joe.  That’s right.  I am interviewing the new tag team champions Andy Murray . . .

Blaire points up to the 24K suite in Section 111 of the Allstate Arena where Andy Murray stands just outside of the box. There is, of course, a healthy security presence to keep rowdy fans away. 

Blaire Moise: . . . and Joe Bergman.

She points way up to Section 214 when Bergman stands by the railing with the people in the section on their feet and making a lot of noise behind him.  He’s got his half of the HOW Tag Team title over his shoulder and a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon in his hand.

Blaire Moise: Guys, this is most certainly one of the most unique title changes in High Octane Wrestling History, particularly with regards to camp 24K. Andy, one of the biggest questions coming out of all of this is what is the mood like back there? What we saw of The Hollywood Bruvs after the match didn’t look great…

The King of Wrestling’s facial expression has already turned sour. He raises 24K’s Golden Microphone™ to his lips.

Andy Murray: Are you really stirring the shit in your very first question, Blaire? Jesus Christ…

Murray has his half of the HOW Tag Team Championships slung over his shoulder. A new t-shirt design is only half-obscured by the leather and gold: it’s the words “Slayer of GoDs” above a row of heads, two of which (Lindsay Troy and Dan Ryan, presumably) have been crossed out.

Andy Murray: No comment. Piss off. Ask old Joey Beige up there something instead…

Blaire takes the hint and turns to Bergman up in Section 214.

Blaire Moise: All right.  Joe?  Two weeks ago your tag team PBR debuted with a win over the eGG Bandits.  How does the fact that you are now one half of the tag team champions with Andy Murray affect PBR?

Joe Bergman: It doesn’t, Blaire.  Look, wrestling is all about the moment.  Last week, the Lethal Lottery created a moment where Andy Murray and I were unexpectantly paired up against the Hollywood Bruvs and we won the tag belts. 

And again, Section 214 rises to their feet and makes a mighty roar, interrupting Bergman. 

Joe Bergman: This doesn’t change PBR’s long term plans.  I know the Murray-Bergman tag team will probably be a temporary alliance so I’m just going to enjoy the moment and then work my ass off to get ready for what will be a tough match next week against two great wrestlers in High Flyer and MJ Flair. 

Blaire Moise: Joe, do you have any concerns about you and Murray working together as a team?

Joe Bergman: I said this earlier in the week and I’ll say it again, Andy Murray is a consummate professional so, no, I don’t expect any issues.  We are professional wrestlers.  We are the tag team champions and we have to defend the title next week.  Andy Murray’s career and his accomplishments speak for itself.  My job is to hold up my end of this bargain.  That means I’m going to work my ass off the next few days to make sure I’m at the top of my game when that bell rings next Saturday night.

Andy Murray: Ohmygod…

The microphone picks The King Of Wrestling’s under-his-breath grumbling up. 

Andy Murray: Do me one favour and ditch the rolled-up-sleeves/man-of-the-people guff for a second, would ya? I didn’t bring a sickbag with me tonight and I’m pretty sure you don’t wanna be responsible for these people cleaning spew out of their hair a few minutes from now…

Murray gestures down to the first row of fans beneath the 24K box. He looks up, bypassing Blaire Moise to address Bergman directly.

Andy Murray: The deal is this, Joseph. I don’t like this, not one bit, but you know what I like even less than having to team with boot-licking, brown-nosing little dorks? Losing championships. So yes, you are doing to “hold up your end of the bargain.” That’s the minimum I expect from a guy who let the Hollywood Bruvs kick his arse for 10 minutes before The King swept through and took care of business.

Andy pauses.

Andy Murray: I’m not interested in your platitudes, lad. I’m not going to be your friend. I’m not climbing all the way up this building to hang with your “people,” we won’t share a beer after the show, and I don’t give a flying fuck about your New Balances, baby monitors, and Old Navy store cards. Just come to the ring and do your job, because I’m not a “consummate professional” and I won’t hesitate to drop you on your goddamn head if you lose my title.

Murray’s face has now curled into a smirk.

Andy Murray: Trust me, brother. You don’t want your little sprog growing up with a chalk outline for a father figure…

Section 214 erupts in a chorus of boos.  A chant of ‘Asshole . . . asshole’ starts up. 

Bergman raises his hands to quiet them down.   Then he leans over the rail – no smile, slightly more intense – and stares right at Murray.

Joe Bergman: Well, to be honest, I thought ‘consummate professional’ sounded a whole lot better than ‘bitter old man who sold his soul to 24K to chase a final big payday.’ 

Benny spews out a stream of Jack Daniels he was drinking.

Joe Hoffman: Really Benny?

Bergman takes on a more edgier tone than normal.

Joe Bergman: Forgive me for showing you the least bit of respect.  Or being as your friend James likes to say – GRATEFUL – for being in this position of holding not your title or my title but the High Octane Wrestling Tag Team Title.

Section 214 comes to life and they drown Bergman out.  Again, Joe has to quiet them down.

Joe Bergman: All I know is that we’re stuck with this arrangement for as long as we hold the title and I’ll be ready next Saturday night to fight like hell to retain this belt.   So make sure you put enough staples and bondo into that knee of yours to make it through the match so you can hold up your end of the bargain and we’ll be fine.

And with that, Bergman turns and heads back to his seat.  The King of Wrestling almost looks impressed with his tag team partner’s clap-back.

Andy Murray: Huh. Cute.

All Andy does from there is look up at 214, simpering away. He then reaches to the bottom of the Golden Microphone™, switches it off, and quietly heads through the suite’s door, a middle finger raised above his head.

Blaire Moise: So, uhhh, there you have it guys.

The interviewer doesn’t quite know what to do for herself.

Benny Newell: Fuck, Hoffman… I didn’t expect that to turn into a shootout!

Joe Hoffman: Something tells me that next week’s match with High Flyer and MJ Flair is definitely going to be one to pay attention to. Are these guys really going to be able to hold it together?!

Action cuts to a commercial as the crowd is still buzzing from the interaction between the Tag Team Champions

A Change is Gonna Come

Back live…

Zeb Martin: Dern!

The Watson Mill Kid was at about a 9 on his anger scale, despite it being around a 2 for most other normal human beings on the range.  Checking every cranny of a large military surplus duffel bag for the third time, he shook his head in frustration. Empty. Just like the first two times he’d looked.

Presently occupying a small spare bedroom, the shelter did not necessarily resemble abject poverty.  However, it certainly gave off the vibe of a college student living off campus for the first time. Clothes once neatly folded were removed from a small oak dresser and strewn across a futon in the far left corner of the room.  A single poster of singer Kelsea Ballerini (Zeb’s current country music crush) hung on the balsa-framed closet door. Other than this, the minimalist Martin was alone in the rented room. Despite his collected demeanor, his nerves were shot as a result of his latest predicament.  He peered up to the camera from a seated position on his iron-frame bed, explaining his situation in an extremely detailed soliloquy.

Zeb Martin: Cain’t find my old ones neither.

Or not.  At the Lethal Lottery, upon the call to get dressed and be ready to wrestle, Zeb was met with quite the surprise.  Someone had taken a pair of scissors to his “big boy trunks,” and despite High Octane’s relaxed standards and practices department, the gear was rendered in such a way to make them appropriate only for a wrestling fetish video.

Therefore, it wasn’t so much of the random chance of the match circumstances that threw the Comer native off his game. Wearing jeans to the ring ended up being his only option, and the only time he’d ever competed in them were back in the days of squaring off against his friends on a trampoline.

What made the incident much more interesting is that it did not exactly come off with malicious intent.  The ominous note to “stay what you are” was clearly meant as a message to keep true to his backwoods roots, but who had done it?  And how had that same person managed to steal his spare pair? The only individuals that had access to them would be his roommates: none of which would have had the ability to get backstage into the Allstate Arena the Saturday prior.

It was a conspiracy the likes of no one had ever seen.

Zeb Martin: I got no enemies up here.  Dangdest thang why someone go’n go messin’ up my gear, but heck.  Might hafta get used tuh ‘rasslin in my Wranglers fer awhile. Ain’t no problem on my end, jus’ confused as tuh why.

Martin gives a shrug and a habitual tug on the bill of his Ricky Rudd cap.

Zeb Martin: So lemme apologize first tuh ol’ Doozer. Jus’ a lil’ thang like that not ought tuh have shook me up, but it shore ‘nuff did.  Couldn’t get back in position tuh do what I shoulda done and saved ya from the three count last week. But that’s how thangs go, I reckon.  Congratulations tuh Lucien ‘n Mr. Ryan on punchin’ yer cards in the War Games pool. S’pose looks like me and Lucien go’n be givin’ y’all another un here soon.  Now that we ain’t strangers, lookin’ forward tuh a good tussle with ya.

Once again, Zeb’s eyes shift downward back to the green bag.  With a reach of his hand, he pulls the canvas back again to ensure he hadn’t missed something.

Zeb Martin: Jus’ hope I ‘ont lose nuthin else until then.

 

SLUUURRRPPPPPPPPPP

We cut away elsewhere and the scene opens backstage at the Allstate Arena, where we have a very rare event occurring before our eyes. Mikey Unlikely, one half of The Hollywood Bruvs, stands not only outside the 24K Suite, but he’s walking down a hallway in the lower portion of the building. Far away from their comfortable abode, it appears Mikey is looking for someone.

He’s got an ice cold frapp in hand. Looks to be of the caramel variety but based on the goldness of the syrup, there’s also a chance it could be butterscotch. Anyone’s guess really! Ice cold Butterscotch and/or Caramel frapp in hand the Unlikely one rounds another corner after looking both ways. He appears to be talking to himself as well.

Mikey Unlikely: Listen Bruv I messed up… No that’s not right! …Manly Man to Manly Man let’s hash this…. No, what is ‘hashing something out’ anyway? Should be Hashtagging it out if you ask me.

He shakes his head with frustration.

Mikey Unlikely: Now before you say anything let me just…

The Hollywood flop artist found who he was looking for but before he can get any of the rehearsed lines out, he freezes in place. His tag team partner, Jesse Fredricks Kendrix is walking quickly in his direction. Mikey looks down at the Frapp in front of him and gulps.

Mikey Unlikely: Jesse! Hey Bruv! Let me just say…

Waiving his arms wildly the English Bruv cuts him off.

Kendrix: HEY! YOU DON’T SAY….THAT?!

Mikey braces for the yelling from the angry Bruv to commence, instead JFK pulls out a frapp from behind his back. Oreo flavored …CLASSIC!

Kendrix: Did you know they installed a Frapp maker in catering here!? It’s AMAZING! I can’t believe it! It’s got so many toppings Mikey you’ve got to see it! 4 whole packs of Oreos sitting right next to it!

Unlikely gets bright eyes with wonder before a thought crosses his mind that changes his complexion to a ghost white.

Mikey Unlikely: IT’S A TRAP!

He looks both ways and covers his head waiting for something to happen. Nothing does. Slowly he uncovers himself. JFK also looks around suspiciously.

Kendrix: I don’t think so Bruv, I think they are just trying to get us out of that Suite!

Nodding wide eyed his American counterpart agrees.

Mikey Unlikely: That’s what I mean! The Frapp Maker, the Oreo’s, the Froppings! It’s all too perfect. It’s gotta be some kind of set up…

Unlikely looks down at the Frapp in his own hand.

Mikey Unlikely: Here, I want you to have this, I’m really sorry about Lethal Lottery, and messing up the High Octane Tag Title situation…

JFK skips a beat, then shakes his head.

Kendrix: No Bruv, it was me, I should have been there, and ready to break up the pin. You were right, I haven’t had my game face on, but I found it! So this Frapps for you too!

In a sweet moment between the best Bruv, they swap Frapps and both take long slurps from the straws. Both “Ahhhhh” at the same time as well. All is right in Bruv-ville.

Mikey Unlikely: I was the one who was at fault Jesse, I’ve gotten pinned twice now, it’s getting out of hand.

His partner’s not accepting it.

Kendrix: Listen, Yeah?! Like I said Bruv, it’s my fault! I gotta know where you are at all times if we’re going to be a team.

They keep it going.

Mikey Unlikely: Seriously though, I can’t get beat like that, it’s my fault.

JFK furrows his brow.

Kendrix: I know what you mean Bruv, but I’m taking the fall on this one! It’s on me!

Now Mikey is getting sick of arguing.

Mikey Unlikely: HEY YOU DON’T SAY THAT! IT’S MY FAULT JESSE!

The Englishman is ready to go rounds.

Kendrix: LISTEN YEAH! IT’S MY FAULT! I WILL BE THERE NEXT TIME!

Suddenly, another voice from off-screen.

Dan Ryan: Can I make a little suggestion?

The Bruvs look over and find that Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy are standing in between them and the suite. Lindsay has a frapp of her own in hand. Apparently it was, indeed, a trap.

Dan Ryan: I think it was both your faults.

Mikey and Kendrix both snap to attention.

Mikey Unlikely: See!! I told you it was a trap!

He turns to Ryan, questioningly. Kendrix snaps his fingers disappointedly, he’s been duped again.

Mikey Unlikely: Is this a trap?

Ryan just frowns. Troy rolls her eyes. Mikey switches his frapp to his other hand and holds his free hand up.

Mikey Unlikely: Look guys, we’re just tryin’ to have a little night time pick me up here. I can’t properly defend myself with a coffee in my hand, ya know.

Ryan hears this, then looks at Lindsay, then back at Mikey, and with a violent swing of his arm slaps the frapp out of Mikey’s hand and into the wall where it splatters all over and runs down to the hallway floor. Ryan relaxes, and just stares at Mikey, who stands, stunned, looking down at the coffee droplets all over his shirt.

Mikey Unlikely: Bruv, what…. the hell, man? My frapp! Can you believe he just did that??

Mikey turns to look at Kendrix, who manages to get the amused look off of his face just in time, then angrily shakes his head no.

Suddenly Ryan makes a sound like he screwed up.

Dan Ryan: Oh shit. Damn man, my bad. Hang on…

Ryan turns to Lindsay Troy and reaches out for her coffee. She grumbles, but hands it over. Ryan takes it and turns back toward Mikey.

Dan Ryan: Here ya go, man. Seriously, my bad, totally.

Mikey is suspicious, but accepts the peace offering and takes the frapp.

Without warning, Dan Ryan violently slaps this one from his hand as well, and there is now a new large coffee splash mark on the previously pristine sheetrock of the hallway. Mikey and Kendrix both turn to stare at the spot where the coffee landed. Kendrix looks up first, making eye contact with Ryan, and frowns, covering his coffee with his free hand and stepping back a step.

Unlikely snaps out of it, he goes for Dan Ryan. Kendrix with his free arm holds Mikey back, apparently he’s not really trying to get to Ryan.

Mikey Unlikely: HEY NO ONE MAKES ME SPILL MY FRAPP!

Lindsay is a little irritated herself, and looks at her brother-in-law.

Lindsay Troy: I was gonna drink that. Now what am I supposed to do?

The face of Kendrix lights up suddenly, and his love of frapps takes over.

Kendrix: There’s a machine in catering now!

Just as quickly, he remembers the situation, and goes back to covering his coffee with a sneer. Lindsay looks at him and smiles, wickedly.

Lindsay Troy: Or I could just take yours.

Jesse begins to whisper to Mikey but everyone can hear it.

Kendrix: OK Mikey, I’m going to let you go, but I want you to hit them both!

The Ego Buster chuckles.

Dan Ryan: Probably not the best idea.

He stands poised and ready, as Kendrix wonders how he was heard. Mikey clenches his fists, revving himself up with rage (this is the worst thing that has ever happened to him) but he’s taking his good old time with it. Jesse takes a deep and meaningful look at the cold delicious beverage in his hand before bringing the current love of his life to his lips.

SLUUURRRRPPPPPPPPPPPP

Another loving look towards his half finished Frapp.

Kendrix: Ahhhhhhhhhh

Satisfied with his consumption efforts, our Hollywood hero is now caught in quite the dilemma. However he overcomes it quickly following up his satisfied noise with a begrudging goodbye sigh…he throws the remaining contents of the frapp all over Ryan and Troy.

Queue bedlam.

Lindsay, who took most of the frapp hit, immediately rushes at Kendrix and bulldozes him backwards into a trash bin. Dan and Mikey start throwing hands, with the larger Texan gaining the advantage quickly and decking Hollywood’s Greatest Entertainer flush across the jaw. Mikey careens out of the way, but as Ryan moves after him, he kicks the Ego Buster in the balls and starts hammering away at his back. Kendrix manages to stop Lindsay’s hammerfists with a thumb to the eye. He pushes her off him and the Queen struggles to her feet, growling and red hot.

Just as soon as the scrum gets started, EPU floods the scene, pulling the Group of Death and 24K members apart. They build a human wall between them, tasers at the ready in case anyone gets any more unruly.

Begrudgingly, and reluctantly, all combatants back away…but this is far, far from over.

Don't Get Cute

As we return to the arena, the speaker system fires up to impart the following words of wisdom.

Mr Finish Line”

The warbled and delightful funky opening of Vulfpeck’s “Mr. Finish Line” streams across the ears of the Chicago faithful in attendance from section 111 to section 214 and everything in between. This heralds the arrival from backstage of the current smuggest champion in the High Octane domain, which is a remarkable feat considering the competition, the HOW World Champion – Cecilworth M! J. Farthington.

Joe Hoffman: Tonight has been all about Mike Best’s redemption and resurrection so it seems fitting that we are about to hear from his best friend, the World Champion, Cecilworth Farthington.

Benny Newell: Eurgh. Last time he was out here with a microphone, he broke my fucking arm. If he comes near me, I swear…

A rather irritated looking CM!JF storms down to the ring with some degree of urgency, the mixed reception from the crowd does not seem to stop him in his tracks for even the briefest of moments. His brow is furrowed and it is clear that he is marching to the ring with purpose. The World Championship gleems off the arena lighting, potentially blinding many at ringside with its majestic glow and allure of power. He marches past the announcer’s table, causing Benny to recoil for a few brief seconds but this terror is short lived as Farthington snatches the microphone out of Bryan McVay’s hand and rolls into the ring. Benny settles back into his chair as Farthington takes his place centre in the ring, “Mr. Finish Line” slowly fading away in the background.

Joe Hoffman: With the look on Farthington’s face, I don’t think he’s here to celebrate Mike Appreciation Month.

Benny Newell: He’s lucky he’s a free man, never mind World Champion. HE BROKE MY ARM!

Joe Hoffman: I know Benny, I saw it.

A rather irate look Farthington begins pacing up and down the ring, clearly not in his usual self-satisfied spirits.

Cecilworth Farthington: T. B. D.

Farthington spits out each letter with a forceful level of bile, clearly perturbed by the uncertainty of his challenger for next week’s Refueled.

Cecilworth Farthington: Are we really going to play that game again Leecifer? You want to get all cute, “keep me on my toes”, is that it? Last week, I informed the entire roster that if they wished to even step in the ring with me, they had to earn the right. To date, the only people I would say have done so are members of the Group of Death so… they don’t really feel like they need to do your pathetic little bidding. A week later, suddenly on the old HO WRESTLING website there’s rumours abound that ole Lee Best is going to sneak some undeserving scum in the back door for MY World Heavyweight Championship days before I become the longest reigning champion in High Octane History. PA. THE. TIC.

The brow of Farthington could possibly cave in if he exerted any more force in the upper head area. A vein on his forehead begins to bulge out.

Cecilworth Farthington: So, who has earned it Lee? Andy Murray? He can’t, he’s already booked! Perfection? He’s too busy getting an espresso martini enema last I heard. Hollywood? Doesn’t seem very fair to put a trainee in the ring against me. So, who is it? Is it Shocker? Are you trying to shock me with Shocker A-GAIN? Do you remember what happened last time you tried to get this cute? I’ll tell you who does, your Hall of Fame commentator who has a broken fucking arm.

Cecilworth pivots to look over at Benny Newell, bearing his shark grin and attempts to get Newell’s attention. Newell seems more preoccupied with his bottle of Jack.

Cecilworth Farthington: Seriously, we’ve seen this play before, we already know how it ends. Lee Best tries to STUN me by announcing my opponent at the last possible minute, I tell him my contract blocks that bullshit. Then… I break Benny’s OTHER arm. So, say, why don’t we just cut out the theatrics and I’ll just snap Benny in two, right here, right now. No point in waiting until next week for history to repeat…

Cecilworth starts to walk towards the ropes and slides one leg out onto the apron, he mimes pivoting the rest of his body out of the ring too but pauses mid-bend and leans back into the ring.

Cecilworth Farthington: Or… you can do the sensible thing and come out in front of this wonderful and loyal Chicago crowd and let them know the ungrateful little shitehawk that you have deemed WORTHY of challenging my glorious reign as your champion. So, the choice is quite simple Lee, you can have another broken arm on your conscience from your precious little drunken wreck in the announce booth or… come out here, name my opponent and we’ll have a gentleman’s handshake and call it a day.

With one foot still out of the ring, Cecilworth mimes looking at a watch that definitely isn’t present on his wrist.

Cecilworth Farthington: Mike’s got twenty more matches to win tonight or something, we need to keep this moving. Leecifer, you know it’s good business, you know what my contract says, you know you can’t play this game. You know I will outsmart you. You know that I will best Best.

Cecilworth leans over to look at Benny again.

Cecilworth Farthington: Wow Benny, it looks like Lee doesn’t give a shit about you. Why don’t we speed up this process and I’ll give myself next week off…

 

THUD

 

SQUELCH

 

GROAN

 

The three sounds are heard as an unaware CM!JF crashes down onto the concrete outside the ring from the apron from a brutal spear tackle, catching the World Champion, ambushing him from behind. A dazed and confused Cecilworth looks up, groggy and unsure what or who just tried to make scrambled eggs out of his noggin.

Joe Hoffman: KOSTOFF! Kostoff snuck into the ring when the World Champion had his attention focused on Benny Newell and speared him out of the ring, out of his boots and down to the ground below.

Benny Newell: KILL HIM KOSTOFF. END THE FARTHINGTON LINE!

Kostoff rolls out of the ring and drills a series of stiff boots to the gut of Farthington, who is completely defenseless at this point. Farthington doubles over and Kostoff drills him with a kick straight to the head. Kostoff hoists CM!JF up into a semi-powerbomb position and keeps him halfway. He releases the clutch with a spin that sends Farthington’s back and skull to crack against the side of the ring apron. The World Champion pants and screeches out in pain.

Benny Newell: Not so smug now, is he Hoffhole?

Joe Hoffman: Kostoff is a Hall of Famer with a record of the utmost brutality. He stood toe to toe with Dan Ryan two weeks ago and reminded everyone of the things he is capable of in the ring. This is a very different situation to Teddy Palmer for the World Champion.

Kostoff drops down and drills a few stiff punches to the skull of Farthington as the crowd roars approval of his actions with an air of excitement. Farthington looks completely out cold and limp from the Kostoff onslaught but the Hall of Famer decides he isn’t quite done yet. He pulls Farthington up again into a powerbomb position…

Joe Hoffman: No Remorse right into the ring steps! That brutal sit-out powerbomb from Kostoff… I’d be surprised if the champion will even make it to next week’s show after colliding with those steel steps. His head snapped right back!

Benny Newell: Welcome to Kostoff, Farthy. You’re gonna DIE.

Kostoff looks down to survey the damage done and smirks as he the former World Champion stares intently down at the current one. Kostoff turns towards the Chicago crowd, who for years have booed the man as he went up against hometown GOD Lee Best, who are now cheering madly for the man.

Now smiling, Kostoff jumps into the first row of the crowd and exits up the steps, as the crowd cheers madly.

Joe Hoffman: With the EPU still engaged with 24k and GoD, the World Champion was vulnerable. I’m getting word from the back that Lee Best has confirmed that CM!JF’s TBD has now been determined. Next week, High Octane Wrestling Hall of Famer Kostoff will get a final chance an will be facing Cecilworth Farthington for the HOW World Championship. With Kostoff in the Top 10 for most of 2020 it is not out of the realm of possibility that we end with a new World Champion next week.

Benny Newell: There’s your one week notice, bitch.

We fade out to unscheduled and final commercial as the medical staff, who rushed down to ringside as soon as Kostoff entered the crowd, continue to work on the World Champion.

**NEXT WEEK**

Match Four

Back from the unscheduled commercial break, we are live until its time to end the show.

Joe Hoffman: Three matches down, and one to go, ladies and gentlemen. The final official show of Mike Best Appreciation Month has thus far been full of surprises. The one night returns of Crane, Professor Keller and Adonis Smyth have been a glimpse into the history of High Octane Wrestling, but it would be hard to call tonight a battle for the ages.

Benny Newell: Tonight has been the most legendary night in wrestling history, Joe. You shut your whore mouth before I stuff my duck into it.

Joe Hoffman: I’m sorry, what?

Benny Newell: Sorry, mouth typo. But you know what I meant.

Joe Hoffman: Well, the main event is set to begin, folks. Let’s get underway.

Dad, how come nobody likes me?  

Cause you’re a mothafuckaaaaaaaaaaaa… 

The head bopping intro to “Motherfucker” by Hopsin begins to slap over the sound system, heralding the arrival of the SON OF GOD, Michael Lee Best, for the final time tonight. Now finally using his current day theme music, Michael looks slightly worse for the wear after wrestling three times already tonight.

Joe Hoffman: Michael Best is on a quest to successfully defend the HOW ICON Championship at least EIGHT times, ladies and gentlemen. If he fails to do so, he will NEVER compete for the championship again.

Benny Newell: Yeah, well between that Bobby Dean match last week and the three he’s had so far tonight, I’d say he’s on his way. ALL HAIL THE SON OF GOD!

Joe Hoffman: These have been… dubious… defenses, Benny. Some of these men haven’t wrestled in nearly a decade.

Michael holds the HOW ICON Championship into the air as he makes his way down the ramp, staring out into the crowd as he bobs his head to the sweet jams of his own entrance music. He approaches the apron, rolling under the bottom rope and standing to his feet in the ring as he hands the HOW ICON Title off to referee Matt Boettcher.

Borrowing the microphone from Bryan McVay, Michael raises it to his mouth to cut himself one final self-aggrandizing promo for the evening, but before he can utter a single word…

UNDEEEEEEEEAD

The most famous music in High Octane history begins to blast over the speakers, and as “Undead” by Hollywood Undead has the whole crowd singing along, a smiling Lee Best appears through the entranceway and out onto the stage. Whoever was slated to face Mike Best in tonight’s main event, it looks like it’s going to have to wait.

Michael smirks at his father, giving him a little wave, but Lee doesn’t appear to acknowledge it. He’s come out to talk business, and he gets right down to it as the Chicago crowd roars for the GOD OF HOW.

Lee Best: There’s my boy. Making his father proud– after all these years, the SON has finally learned how to clean up after himself. A decade worth of messes and loose ends, all swept up in one night, and conveniently putting you three defenses closer to setting yourself yet another HOW ICON Title record. Brings a tear to my eye, son. All of the warm and fuzzies.

The GOD of HOW makes a little show of pretending to sound touched, putting a finger underneath his eye as he mockingly wipes away a single tear.

Lee Best: Now, I hate to interrupt your night, during your month, to be the bearer of bad news… but sometimes a father has to show his son a little bit of tough love. I know that you think that your next opponent is about to walk his ass down the ramp and hand you one more successful ICON Championship defense here tonight, but– and I’ve been waiting all year for an excuse to say this to you, Michael– NOT HAPPENING.

A roar from the crowd, for a line that doesn’t mean much to the new class of HOW, but brings an actual smile to the face of those who have been around the bend a time or two.

Lee Best: You know, better than ANYONE, that the HOW ICON Championship is the purest Championship in the history of all things High Octane. After all these years, you should have known I wasn’t going to let you come down here and game the system. You won’t be getting that fourth ICON Title defense tonight. In fact, you won’t be getting any official title defenses here tonight. The matches that took place on tonight’s show will not count toward the standings. They will not count toward the ICON Championship records. Simply put, SON… they don’t count.

Michael lifts his microphone to speak a rebuttal, but in yet another throwback to the old days, Lee Best has #MUTED his microphone. The SON OF GOD continues to try and speak, getting more and more frustrated, but Lee only smiles.

Lee Best: Like I said, Son… a little bit of tough love. Last year, you were a War Games Captain who wasn’t in War Games. Then, you were in a solitary confinement match where you never went into solitary. An ICONIC match that you rigged behind my back, a March to Glory where you sat at my side and watched your stablemates fight for their titles. And I realize, SON, that for a man who claims to be the greatest wrestler in the history of HOW… you’ve done a lot more talking than fighting, as of late.I heard your little bleeding heart promo last week, tugging at old Dad’s heartstrings, trying to develop all those character traits I value so much,  “I need to be a man and do this on my own”… “I need to get rid of the safety net”. Well, Michael… ask, and ye shall receive.

Lee nods his head softly, as the crowd cheers for the implications of that final line. Inside of the ring, the SON OF GOD begins to question the stupid things that he tends to say when he’s under pressure.

Lee Best: We’re heading full tilt into the second War Games show of the new era. So, SON… let me tell you what I’m gonna do. One more freebie from dear old Dad. I’m gonna spot you the first pick at War Games. Sit on it, take your time, pretend like you aren’t just going to pick your little BFF Farthington, and make your announcement by next week’s show. But in the meantime, since it turns out we don’t have a main event here tonight…

The GOD of HOW looks around to his left and right, as the crowd begins to buzz.

Lee Best: You said that tonight was all about wiping away your regrets, and I can respect that. But since you want to be a REAL BOY now, and get all those monkeys off your back… I think there’s at least one more name from your past who deserves a place on the list. A man whose name you probably haven’t thought about in quite some time, because you hate the feeling you get down the middle of your spine when you remember it. A man who is here tonight, Michael. And I think that it’s time the GOD of HOW announced… the other War Games Captain.

Lee lowers the microphone, as “Sin with a Grin” by Shinedown suddenly begins to play. Instantly, the crowd ERUPTS into cheers for some  Hall of Fame theme music that hasn’t been heard in MANY years in HOW.

Joe Hoffman: No way! It can’t be! That’s Shane Reynolds’ music!

Benny Newell: ..s..Shane Reynolds?! Is… SHANE… the OTHER War Games Captain!? How.. the FUCK!?

The crowd continues to roar as Mike Best does his very best to no-sell the crowd reaction and the music. An unsurprising smirk is painted on his face as he stares up at Lee, who stares back at his son with the most stoic of expressions.The Era of Tough Love begins with a staredown between Michael and Lee, which is unfortunate for the SON OF GOD– he doesn’t notice, as a man with long dark hair jumps the security railing behind the Son of God.

Wearing a crisp white suit with a red tie, the presumed other War Games Captain and  predator stalks toward the ring with a steel chair in his hand.

Joe Hoffman: That’s Shane Reynolds! That’s Sha– wait, IS that Shane Reynolds?!

Benny Newell: Of course it is, I’d know that emo fuck anywhere! MIKE! LOOK OUT!

Sliding into the ring, the other War Games Captain readies himself behind Mike, the chair lifted and ready, his feet dancing in place in excitement, his dark black hair covering his face. There is murmuring in the crowd, as the fans try to figure out exactly what they’re dealing with here– the man looks like Shane Reynolds, but only at a glance.

A moment too late, Mike realizes that he is no longer alone in the ring as his smirk slowly fades.

Benny Newell: Turn the fuck around, Mike! He’s right behind you!

Joe Hoffman: This is bad, Benny. This is going to be really bad. 

Mike starts to shake his head, knowing that his overconfidence has likely just made him fall for a basic tenant of Wrestling 101– if you’re watching the ramp, they’re going to get you from behind. He slowly begins to turn around and face his–

CRACK!

Joe Hoffman: OH MY GOD! What a chair shot! What in the HELL is going on here?!

Mike Best lays curled up in the middle of the ring, holding his face, as the aptly called “Sham Reynolds” reaches up to brush the faux emo hair out of his face. As he does so, he clearly reveals a rubber mask bearing the face of Shane Reynolds– the same type of mask that bank robbers wear, usually emblazoned with the faces of dead presidents.

Joe Hoffman: That is definitely not Shane Reynolds.

Benny Newell: Wait, it’s a mask? It’s a FUCKING MASK? What the fuck, Hoffman, who the hell is the other War Games captain then!? FUCKING SHAM REYNOLDS! CALL THE GODDAMNED GROUP OF DEATH!

Joe Hoffman: …they can’t come out here, Benny. By Mike Best’s own decree, if a member of the Group of Death steps through that entranceway to help him here tonight, he forfeits the ICON Championship!

CRACK!

Before any further inquiry by the announcers team can be made, the Fake Shane sends down another thunderous chair shot across Mike’s upper body!

CRACK!

Another chair shot across Mike’s head and the arms protecting it!

CRACK!

The chair shots keep coming as the frame of the chair begins to bend and contort as it is wrapped around the ICON Champions body!

CRACK!

A final chair shot lands upon the crumbled mass of Mike Best before the mysterious War Games Captain hurls the chair away and seems to simply stare down at his target.

Joe Hoffman: This mysterious assailant just… just MASSACRED the ICON Champion with a chair, and NOW what’s he thinking? Who in the hell IS this man? Or.. woman… or person… who would come out here pretending to be Shane Reynolds?!

Benny Newell: Hoffman I’m torn, I can’t tell if I should be angry that the SON OF GOD is being murdered, or be excited because this is the work of DADDY LEE! I..I CAN’T DECIDE, HOFFMAN! DRINK!

Unwilling to participate further in the commentary of Mike Best’s destruction, the High Octane Wrestling Hall of Famer grabs a large box labeled “Emergency”– he rips off the lid, retrieving an unopened bottle of Jack Daniels. Throwing caution to the wind, Benny immediately tears off the cap on the bottle and begins to down the whiskey like a pelican attempting to swallow an angry fish.

Back in the ring, the mysterious masked War Games captain drags Mike up to his feet, standing behind him. Near effortless, like a man who has practiced the move a million times, the Faux Shane nails a perfectly constructed spinning unprettier in the center of the ring, dropping Michael Lee Best face first into the steel chair that had been left on the canvas.

Joe Hoffman: ORIGINAL SIN! That’s the Original Sin! That’s Shane’s signature finishing maneuver! Whoever is under that mask, ladies and gentlemen, they want us to believe that they are Shane Reynolds… and they pose a danger not only to Michael Lee Best, but to High Octane Wrestling. This is sincerely terrifying.

The crowd is quiet. So is the mysterious second War Games Captain. As “Sin with a Grin” once again plays over the speakers, the man in the Shane Reynolds mask raises a single fist into the air. The camera pans out for a long shot, as Lee Best stands at the top of the stage, his expression grim and unmoving.

The second War Games Captain has been chosen.

The Era of Tough Love has begun.

Refueled comes to an end.