Losing A Brother
The logo for High Octane Wrestling flashes across a black screen, followed by the logo for HOTv. Tonight, however, there is no opening music for Refueled, nor any camera pans across a sea of fans holding signs. The HOV remains black, until a single still frame image fades in to the center of the screen:
By the time the camera pans away from the HOV, the entire capacity crowd of the Best Arena is on their feet. Dressed in a wide array of suits, ties, and semi-formal clothing, the crowd is not screaming or yelling– a roar of applause comes over the arena in a wave, in a showing of respect for HOW Hall of Famer Maximilian Kael.
Joe Hoffman: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a very special edition of High Octane television. I’m Joe Hoffman, joined as always by Benny Newell, and tonight we celebrate the life of one of the most talented, most bizarre, and undisputedly most legendary men in the history of the sport of professional wrestling.
Benny Newell: Tonight, Joe, my heart is broken. Rest in Peace, Max Kael. You were a crazy son of a bitch, and I never thought in a million years that I’d outlive you.
Joe Hoffman: There is not an empty seat in the house tonight as fans father to pay their respects, folks, and yet somehow the Best Arena has never felt so empty. Max Kael was the embodiment of High Octane Wrestling, and this company will never be the same in his absence. Our thoughts go out to both the Best and Kael families at this time– all we can do now is pay tribute to a man who changed the landscape time and time again.
Benny Newell: Here’s to you, you crazy motherfucker.
Big Buff throws back a shot of something sour and brown, wincing as he slams the bottle back down on the announcer’s desk. His eyes are puffy and swollen, and he looks like a bigger mess than usual.
Joe Hoffman: Next week, the road to ICONIC begins, and we will resume regular operations. But tonight, In lieu of any wrestling contests, we will be speaking with members of the HOW roster about the life and times of Maximilian Kael, and a special funeral service will be held to conclude tonight’s show. At this time, the first speaker on tonight’s show will make his way to the ring… the adopted brother of Max Kael… Michael Lee Best.
The camera pans away from the announce table, but the HOV doesn’t light up. No entrance music accompanies the surviving son of Lee Best, as he quietly makes his way out from behind the curtain. A plain black suit and tie frame the swollen mess of stitches in his nose and face, still healing from the violent end to last Saturday’s Rumble at the Rock pay-per-view, and he carries the HOW World Championship, still flecked with blood, at his side.
As soon as he steps out onto the stage, the previously respectful crowd loses all semblance of mourning– the outpouring of actual hatred for Michael Lee Best is so loud that it almost appears to hit him in the face. Already not holding it together very well, the Son of God swallows hard at the top of the ramp, his eyes glistening and wet under the lights of the stage.
Joe Hoffman: An emotional night all around, folks, but in particular for Michael Best. While it may be hard to have sympathy for the man that many would argue was responsible for the fate of Maximilian Kael, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t in mourning.
Benny Newell: I don’t really know what kind of reaction he expected, honestly. He fucking killed Max Kael. Not exactly a class act coming out first to speak at his memorial show.
The arena-wide cacophony of booing, jeering, and screamed insults rises with every step that Michael takes toward the ring. As he approaches the steps, the HOW World Champion loosens the tie around his neck, already sweating and looking ill as he climbs slowly into the ring. With a microphone in his hands, Michael takes a moment to compose his thoughts, his eyes looking bloodshot and worn out.
He’s clearly having trouble concentrating, as the hate-filled crowd doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. He swallows hard again, closing his eyes for a moment, and just deciding to try and get through this.
Mike Best: I’m sorry.
It is perhaps the loudest boo of his career.
This isn’t wrestling booing. This isn’t playing along with the show, or reacting to a bad guy they don’t like. This is the collective sound of thousands of human beings letting Michael Lee Best know that they wish it had been him instead. The weight of the reaction drains the color out of Michael’s face, and his gaze falls quickly to the canvas.
Mike Best: Please just… let me say what I need to say. Please.
The booing does not stop, or even slow down. The collective hate is almost palpable, forming an invisible fog over the arena that a man could choke on.
He tries to go on talking anyway, over the unstable roar of the crowd.
Mike Best: Max Kael was my brother. No step. No adopted. No asterisks. He might not have been my blood, but he was my family. For ten years, we fought like brothers. For ten years, we loved like brothers. For ten years, through ups and downs and ninjas and peace treaties, we were BROTHERS. I know I’m the last person anyone wants to hear from right now, but I swear to you… I swear to God… If there was anything else I could have done… if there was any other way…
His eyes are glistening with emotion, as actual tears run unabashedly down his face. He appears to be completely heartfelt in his words, but the crowd in attendance could absolutely not care less about the alleged heartbreak of the man they perceive as Max Kael’s killer.
From near the front row, someone throws a glass bottle as hard as they can at the ring, narrowly missing the head of the HOW World Champion. He flinches to get out of the way, holding the microphone in his hand as he tries to keep it together and get through what he wants to say.
Mike Best: I will live every single day with what happened to my brother. Every single day. Life will never be the same again without Maximilian Kael. And I don’t know how I’ll–
He is abruptly cut off, as the crowd is no longer content simply booing. From the depths of the arena, a very loud and very clear chant begins to boil over, spreading throughout the arena in mere seconds.
The word looks like it hurts the HOW World Champion physically– like he’s been smashed across the face with a fucking cinderblock.
Mike Best: You weren’t there.
He shakes his head, his hands shaking as he holds back the wave of emotion that is beginning to actually overwhelm him. His words become faster and more erratic, as the usually unshakable facade of Michael Lee Best quickly begins to melt away. What’s left underneath is raw, and uncomfortable.
Mike Best: I’m sorry that you lost a wrestler you liked. I’m sorry that HOW lost a Hall of Famer. But I lost my goddamned brother. I lost my family. You weren’t standing where I was standing. You didn’t have to make that choice. If things had gone another way, it would be my face up there on the HOV tonight. It would be my memorial show. I didn’t have a–
The tears are streaming down his face now, coagulating with the dried blood at the corners of his stitches. The tears turn 97 Red down his face, messing into his beard in a way that almost reflects the end of the Rumble at the Rock pay-per-view.
Mike Best: I didn’t even ki– I just moved out of the way and–
He wipes the wet away from his eyes, staring at the reactivated crimson on his hands as the crowd continues to chant. Overwhelming him. Breaking his ability to speak, or to think. He raises the microphone in desperation, saying the only words left in his brain. .
Mike Best: …this is your fault too.
For the first time since he’s shown his face, the crowd suddenly quiets. It isn’t the shock of the words themselves, but perhaps the change in their tone– while moments ago, he appeared to have his heart hanging from his sleeve, there is a sudden bitterness in his voice. As though he has been wanting to say it from the moment he came out here tonight, but held back.
He isn’t holding back any longer.
Mike Best: Ten years. For ten years, I have given you… everything. Every ounce of sweat. Every drop of blood. Every minute of my life, for ten years. Listen to me, and listen to me carefully, because I have my cross to bear. I have the weight of this thing that I’ve done, and I will carry it with me forever. But don’t you dare fucking tell me I’m going to carry it alone. Because my brother is FUCKING. DEAD. And he’s dead because of YOU.
He grabs the ropes, his eyes focusing suddenly even through the blur of his very real tears.
Mike Best: I told you that I wanted to be remembered. That I wanted to be IMMORTAL. They should have put me on a fucking mountain. They should have etched my name into the Grand fucking Canyon.Two DQ losses in two years, but they said “that’s not good enough”. Sole survivor of War Games… “that’s not good enough”. I survived the fucking Home Alone house of horrors in Tampa, and they yawned and said “that’s not good enough”. So what did I do? I dragged my half dead fucking body down to the ring the next week, and I said “Let me bleed for you. Let me DIE for you. Let me give you my LIFE” and you fucking cheered for it. I said let me KILL for you, and you CHEERED FOR IT. And now Maximilian Kael is DEAD, because YOU wanted to watch us fight to the death for fucking sport. And it didn’t make me a God. It didn’t make me immortal. It just made me a guy would let his own fucking brother die to keep the HOW World Title around his waist.
He begins to pace around the ring, looking nearly as disgusted with himself as he is about the people in the crowd that he’s addressing. His words get faster now, and more filled with venom.
Mike Best: Enjoy the pageantry tonight. Enjoy the heartfelt tributes from a bunch of guys who wouldn’t have pissed on Max Kael two weeks ago if he was on fire. Enjoy making a martyr out of a man you reviled and despised and pretending like honoring his death will make up for the way you treated him when he was alive. Enjoy pretending that you give a shit, because one week ago, you all plopped down your blood money to watch a man die, and now you have the audacity to come here and celebrate his life. Maximilian Kael gave you EVERYTHING. He gave his life for you. He DIED For you. But from this moment forward, I’ll make you a promise…
He looks at the canvas, his voice lowering to nearly a whisper.
Mike Best: …I won’t make that same mistake.
Sadness and fury in the eye’s of the champion, he tosses the microphone aside and bails out of the ring without any further fanfare. A stunned and quiet crowd watches him make his way back up the ramp, the arena nearly silent as HOTv cuts to its first commercial break of the evening.
Previously unaired advertisement for a tag team that was meant to thrive in the new era of HOW.
Only Ever One
Sat in front of the HOW camera is The Reigning LSD Proud Fighting Champion: Hughie Freeman. Though, not as we know him. He appears to have adhered to the HOW memorial dress code with a white shirt, black tie and trousers with smart dress shoes. However, that’s not to say he’s enjoying it as he looks rather tense and uncomfortable. Regardless, he does scrub up well. You could even say.. handsome.
Hughie nods to the bodies behind the camera.
Hughie Freeman: We good?
He then reverts his attention back to the live HOW rolling camera.
Hughie Freeman: Listen, I’m not gunna put on the crocodile tears like the rest of them. Your man ain’t gunna try and put himself over here on how this has impacted my life. Or even work you into thinking I’m sad. Cos truth be told, fella.. I never even spoke two words to the bloke. And all of you happy-clappers who are pretending that it affects you the most to draw attention to yourself then shame on you.
Hughie Freeman: It’s no hidden secret who runs the dressing room in HOW. They call themselves the eMpire. Aye, and whatever your man Hughie Freeman thinks about those cats personally is another matter. They stay clear of me, and I stay clear of them. It’s better that way. Dare I fucking say it but we respect each other for that very reason.
Hughie Freeman: But let’s not fucking talk about Max Kael the man; let’s talk about Max Kael the performer. The guy that your man studied before getting into this mad crazy world called professional wrestling. The guy that whether you like him or not.. he was the man that evolved with the times and kicked the fuck out of the PC wrestling bumming brigade in the process. The same bumming brigade who dared question his realism or what he stood for.
Hughie Freeman: Professional wrestling like it’s meant to be; entertainment with a capital ‘E’ my friends. Never one style being popular than the other, and going with the times doing the Max Kael thing that is in no way hokey. That is why your man Hughie Freeman is a pro wrestler today. Cos of guys like Max Kael. Who paved the way for all of the unpredictable antics you wonna put in a box and label. It’s not taught, you’re born with it. But I’m still man enough to tell you all who started the trend; who set the precedent.
Hughie Freeman: Thanks for your contribution to the fighting game, and remember: there was only ever one Max Kael… not one of those thousand sheep following fools. Are we done now?
Hughie Freeman looks beyond the camera as he fiddles with his shirt buttons.
Hughie Freeman: Aye, we’re done.
Hughie then pulls out the mic attached to his shirt as he looks to leave the set. The camera then cuts.
The scene cuts backstage to one of the conference rooms within the Best Arena. This particular conference has been designated as the Central Headquarters of StarrSek Industries. Hugo Scorpio (formerly known as The Switch), is dressed in black, standing by the door. One half of his employers is sitting at the head of the conference table with his feet up on the edge of the table. He is tossing up a rainbow colored Koosh Ball in the air and catching it. The Mayor of ManJattan is sporting a very loud plaid jacket (containing pinks, purples, whites, and greens), black pants, black Adidas sneakers with white stripes, and a charcoal gray t-shirt featuring the Silver Shamrock logo. He notices the camera and immediately tosses the Koosh Ball aside, gets his feet off the table, and finger combs his hair. He clears his throat.
JATT STARR: Max Kael. What can the Ruler of Jattlantis say about you? I could give all the plastertudes like “We’ll miss him” or “We’ll keep his family in our thoughts and prayers.” Let’s face it, those would be lies. The only thing I can really say is, in the end…..I won.
The Starrabian Knight smiles and leans back in his chair, placing hands behind his head.
JATT STARR: The very last match we had, my team beat your team. I beat you. I won! The Ruler of Jattlantis has annexed Maxopotamia. Your death has given rise to the new Son of Starrkham!
The King of Grapple from the Big Apple laughs the kind of laugh when a huge weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.
JATT STARR: I don’t have to worry about going out at night hunting elves or finding she-men to put hexes on you. I have won.
The Sultan of SeaJattle takes a breath and becomes incredibly serious, leaning forwards from the chair.
JATT STARR: There’s no mourning here. Max Kael was an inhuman monster who manipulated, kidnapped, and abused countless people, myself included. But fear not, I will offer up my services and mentor Sutler Kael. That warped mind of his will need to be properly deprogrammed, luckily I have a three prong approach.
The Marquis of MadagaStarr holds up one finger.
JATT STARR: First, the “Hughes Treatment”, in which Sutler and I will have a John Hughes marathon of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, “The Breakfast Club”, “Uncle Buck”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, and finally, “Pretty in Pink”. Max was such a Principal Rooney….
The Baron of Boca Jatton brings up a second finger.
JATT STARR: That will segway into Phase Two – “McCarthyism” – which include the timeless Andrew McCarthy films “Weekend at Bernie’s”, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, and then, my personal fave, “Mannequin”. And there will be pizza at this stage. Just no anchovy and no onion. And none of that Hawaiian pizza rubbish.
The Earl of GlouStarr holds up four fingers, then drops his pinky.
JATT STARR: And finally, “Zuck-Con Three” where we will watch the Zucker Brothers Trifecta of “Airplane!”, “Top Secret!”, and “The Naked Gun”. We would have to change your name, your look, we’re talking a complete makeover here, but baby steps.
The Hero of Jattlanta picks up his walking cane “Mister Whacky”, rises from the chair, and limps (still feeling the effects of Conor Fuse shivving him a week ago) closer to the camera.
JATT STARR: There is one more thing. A message for Lindsay Troy. Linds, I respect the heck out of you. You’re a fighter. You’ve got moxie. In an alternate reality, maybe we’re friends like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger only older and more awesome. In this reality, however, we’ve maybe said two or three words to one another, if that. In any case, I admire you. And because I admire you, I am going to ask you for a favor. I want….no, I need you to quit.
The Baron of Boca Jatton pauses to let that word sink in….”Quit”.
JATT STARR: You still have your loving family. You still have your health. You still have a rockin’ bod. You need to quit. Lee Best has tasked me to end you. Just quit. How many more matches do you have in you? More importantly, how many more matches like the one you had with Dan Ryan do you have in you? Quit. You don’t have anything to prove to anybody. This is your chance to walk away while you are still relevant. This is your chance to bask in the joys of motherhood, travel the world, be kind to yourself. Please, Linds, quit.
The Sovereign of Starrgentina, his eyes that were pleading with Lindsay Troy suddenly become darkly serious.
JATT STARR: Because if you don’t, I can’t promise that after ICONIC, you won’t wake up not recognizing your own kids from a head related injury. I can’t promise that after ICONIC you won’t be permanently injured, requiring your own family to care for you. Please, please, PLEASE, quit. Because there is one thing that I can promise you…..in the end, I win.
The scene ends as Jatt Starr reaches into his plaid jacket pocket and pulls out his Tamagotchi as he limps off screen ending the scene.
We return from the break to find a black backdrop and chair placed in the middle of the set. Conor Fuse walks into the picture, looking much less chipper and mischievous than normal. He sports black Adidas golf pants and a plain black v-neck t-shirt. This is the first time in HOW he’s not sporting the color green anywhere on him so… clearly, this situation is different. Conor takes a seat in the chair and seems like he has no idea what he’s about to go through. Fuse looks past the camera lens and to the individual behind it… waiting for a signal.
And waiting… and waiting.
The Vintage politely raises his left hand and speaks to the cameraman.
Conor Fuse: Hey, are we on?
Cameraman: We’ve been rolling for a minute now.
Fuse’s face crinkles, a little embarrassed. He clears his throat and looks into the lens.
Conor Fuse: Max Kael… wow, so this is tough. I didn’t really know you but I can certainly respect everything you’ve done in this environment.
Conor brushes a rattled hand through his messy dirty-blonde hair. Is it because he doesn’t know what to say? Is it because he’s beside himself, realizing he’s in an organization where a guy was killed in cold blood? Realistically, it’s probably a little of both.
Conor Fuse: I was going to keep this short and sweet. When I speak in metaphors, I really do compare this industry to a game. There’s no doubt about it, you were a Final Boss, someone I had hoped to fight way down the road… but this isn’t about me. This is about you and your journey… and the legacy you now leave behind.
The Vintage is still looking for something else to say but his mind is drawing a blank.
Conor Fuse: I think your status in High Octane Wrestling was unmatched… you’ve done more for this organization than so many others before you and your impact here will not be forgotten.
He looks up at the cameraman and nods, signifying the end to his statement. As Conor stands, the door is heard opening behind the camera.
Voice: Ding dong, the Max is dead, the wicked Max, the Minister Max… ding dong the Max Kael is dead.
We then see none other than thirty-nine percent owner of HOW, Scottywood walking across the camera shot, not even acknowledging Conor Fuse. Followed by Frankie the Cameraman, who is holding his own camera, Scotty walks over to the catering table set up on that side of the room.
Conor Fuse moves off to the side, his left eyebrow slightly raised, wondering why Scotty’s being so disrespectful to his fallen comrade.
Scottywood: Love hearing from a bunch of people who barely knew Max Kael talk about how fuckin’ great he is.
Scotty grabs a Revolution Brewing Anti-Hero IPA off the table and cracks the sixteen ounce can open before taking a long drink.
Scottywood: Max was great. One of the greatest wrestlers HOW has ever seen, no doubt about that. But Max Kael was also huge fucking asshole who kidnapped and killed people, so am I going to shed a single fucking tear over him being gone from this world? Fuck no.
And just like that, Scottywood gets up and leaves while the original camera feed moves ever-so-slightly to the left, showing Conor Fuse standing there, trying to process what he saw. Ultimately deciding to shake it off, The Vintage nods to the cameraman, who says “that’s a wrap” behind him. As the group packs up their equipment, it’s obvious the cameraman did not switch off his camera and the footage is still rolling. A shot of Conor’s leg appears and he seems to be speaking to the crew.
Conor Fuse: Hey, sorry about that. I really didn’t know what to say… still feel pretty new here. It’s so unreal about Kael getting killed. I… I… I’ve never seen anything like that before. Was he really as bad as some people say he was? My mom says everyone has a good side… you simply have to find it.
The cameraman lets out an uneasy chuckle.
Cameraman: Take care of yourself, kid. Lotta intense people here…
The cameraman (along with the two other members of his crew) and “The Vintage” Conor Fuse leave the room and into the Best Arena hallway. The main camera is still on and recording the scene from behind them as the group of four walk down the hallway together. The lens is consistently out of focus, trying to pick up the scenery but with every footstep further, it isn’t able to.
Conor Fuse: What are you guys doing for the rest of the night?
Cameraman: Not sure, might catch the game. You’re welcome to join.
Conor Fuse: Yeah, thanks. Sounds good with me. It would be nice to make some friends around here. Everyone’s got all these co-op teams they’re associated with. Best Alliance… Egg Benedict, is it? There was some kind of Death Group before…
Meanwhile, the camera lens is finally able to focus on the background for barely three seconds. It’s enough to show the hallway is empty…
Except for Scottywood, standing there, far down the hall from where they all came from. He isn’t moving… his eyes are just focused on one thing, or one person, in the direction of where the camera is pointed.
The lens snaps out of focus again. Scottywood becomes a black-and-red blur surrounded by white painted brick before, ultimately, the footage comes to an end.
Holy Spirit of Enterprise
Backstage Jack Marley is seen walking towards a door with a cameraman following him. He opens the door and quickly enters the room with the camera man. The camera shot changes to the camera man inn front of him sits Steve Harrison dressed all in black behind a table. He nods at the camera with a sullen look. Jack with a mic in his hand walks in front of the table.
Jack Marley: Oh my god, it is the great Steve Harrison, mon. I am so happy we were able to find you to get a word about the passing of The Minister Max Kael.
Harrison nods towards Jack taking this serious and not as joke as this whole ordeal already feels like.
Steve Harrison: I am glad HOW could finally find a competent interviewer. Great to see you again, Mr. Marley. It has been a very sad week for everyone and especially for ME.
Jack Marley: I heard people considered you his protégé, what do you think of that?
Steve rubs his hands and leans back in his chair.
Steve Harrison: I heard that people said that, many people, maybe thousands or millions have said that, so maybe it is true and yea I will miss the guy.
Jack Marley: Tough times for everyone in HOW with a blind boss, a coke out murderer as a champion, and NOW this unfortunate passing.
Steve Harrison: I just want to send my condolences to someone…I don’t know, how many people liked Max?
Jack shrugs his shoulders thinking back at the times The Minister scared the soul from his body.
Jack Marley: I heard it was a small service.
Steve Harrison: Sad. Anyway—I want all the fans and all the wrestlers to know that I am here to…
Harrison pauses and reaches under the table and pulls out a box and empties its contents on the table and picks up a bottle.
Steve Harrison: TELL YOU ALL ABOUT THE MIRACLE ENTERPRISE HOLY WATER LIMITED EDITION BOTTLES!!!
The Miracle Man tosses the empty bottle in the air and it falls to the floor. He picks up a piece of paper and stares at it with a wild look in his eye, his frown turning to a smile.
Steve Harrison: These are going to fly off the merch table next week. We will have a Limited-Edition Label that shows all the eye colors in one. These wont last forever because I will run out of the amazing water he prayed on soon enough.
Jack Marley: Oh my god I would at least pay $100 for this miraculous holy water!
Steve points at Jack and shakes his head with a smirk.
Steve Harrison: Don’t you worry, Jack. These will go for a low-low price of $50 a bottle and…since you will be selling them you get a FREE bottle!
Jack pretends to faint in amazement of this.
Jack Marley: I know I am not the first to say this but Jesus himself must have created Miracle Enterprise to help with everyone suffering from this horrific death and help people heal.
The Suplex Saint, the undefeated man of amazement stands up and walks over to Jack. He pats him on the back and smiles down at him.
Steve Harrison: Exactly, Jack. I am here to help the masses heal with this amazing Holy Water. I am sure Max would be extremely proud of our business relationship surviving and thriving after his death.
Jack smiles and nods at the greatness that is Steve Harrison
Jack Marley: And of course, half of the proceeds will go to Max’s remaining family…
Harrison stares daggers into Jack and grabs him and starts shaking him not letting him finish his comment.
Steve Harrison: That was not part of our script you idiot…I mean uh…play the music.
RIP by Young Jeezy and 2 Chains begins playing. Jack starts grooving moving side to side his one long dread moving along with him. Steve starts randomly doing the robot and pointing up to the ceiling like saying this is for you Max as the scene fades out.
In Honor of Max Shell
Joe Hoffman: Up next, well… it should be interesting, that’s for sure. The eGG Bandits have decided to once again join forces to honor their fallen comrade, Max Shell.
Benny Newell: More like the eGG Disbandits. Ha. Get it. Ha… I still can’t believe he’s gone, Hoffhole.
Without even the subtle sound of a cracking shell, four figures emerge at the top of the ramp. All of them are solemn in stature, with the majority in matching 97RED jumpsuits; save for a pair of denim on the legs of one particular upstarty member.
From left to right, shoulder to shoulder, stand Doozer, Bobby Dean, Zeb Martin, and the only descendent of COOLYMUPUS. They aren’t the merriest that we’ve seen them, making a half-hurried pace down the entrance ramp in what simply appears to be an effort to hurry along and get this over with.
Joe Hoffman: So far so good, Benny. They’ve made it down to the ring without incident. Who knows?
Benny Newelll: Ya know… I don’t know if it’s the Jack… but if they do some weird egg shit here and it winds up with them resurrecting Max Shell… I don’t know… maybe… I just don’t know.
GREAT GOBBELY GOOKERS~!
Joe Hoffman: It looks like Jiles is holding a miniature coffin in his grasp… No. Wait. That’s an egg carton in the shape of a coffin.
Benny Newell: Kill me now. Let me join Max up above and shield him from seeing this shit.
All four Bandits are surprisingly standing somewhat united inside the ring. Jiles pops the top of the coffin, revealing four eggs inside. After a pregnant pause, each Bandit reaches in removes an egg.
Doozer: Tonight, we honor a legend. Tonight, we… the eGG Bandits… will crack one last egg for Max Shell.
The disappointment is palpable. Doozer doesn’t seem to mind.
Doozer: It’s an understatement to say this place will never be the same without Max. A true… visionary, you could say. On, who’s fate, I think most would’ve rather fallen unto his opponent for that infamous bout at the Rock. Maybe that’s just me.
Doozer shrugs. Jiles shoots him a quizzical look out the corner of his eye.
Doozer: Regardless, I plan to honor our late friend by learning from those who taught him, in the same great stable that showed him the ropes here at High Octane. And if, one day, I can make Mike cry again like Jiles did after he realized his hair was messed up when he met the First Lady…
A harsh throat clear from Cancer sends a message.
Doozer: Right. So here’s one final crack… to Max Shell. A role model for the rest of us. Truly, the Best of us.
The boys nod their head agreeing; acknowledging just how true Doozer’s words are.
Bobby raises his egg.
Zeb raises his egg.
Jiles raises his egg.
Doozer smiles, throwing his egg directly into the ground.
Joe Hoffman: And here we go.
Doozer: I be–
Before Dooze can continue speaking, an enraged Maestro hastily rips his precious T-Shades from off his clean kept face, and in one fluid motion spikes them in Doozer’s direction. Like a pebble, they bounce off of his unbothered chest.
Jiles: HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!?!?!?
Dooze doesn’t flinch at Jiles’ inquisition. Not even a Boston blush. Bobby, aghast, looks on with wide belly button abyss eyes, and then slowly starts to tip toe towards the ropes for a timely Irish exit. Zeb, the upstart, with his head sunk, shakes it disappointingly. The Emperor of the Undercard though… the shades are off. His hair is pulsing blond as if it’s coming back to life…
He looks ready to kill.
Doozer: Let’s settle this right fucking now.
Bracing his opposing hand to go on the charge toward the Maestro, Doozer takes a defiant step forward. However, one step is all that he gets, as the thrust of an unannounced elbow has beaten his efforts to the draw. A jaw drops completely to the mat in utter surprise.
The jaw of the Conquistador of COOL, Cancer Jiles.
With his focus directly on his lifelong friend, Doozer only caught the final millisecond of the Watson Mill Kid’s funny bone aimed directly at his forehead: much too late to offer up any kind of defense. After a work boot to Doozer’s gut, Zeb tucks his former mentor’s head between his legs and jerks his wrists across his midsection. Martin then turns his attention toward the Maestro before lifting Doozer into a piledriver position.
Zeb Martin: This ain’t fer you. This is fer all uh us.
The cross-arm piledriver propels Doozer’s head with a distinct thud on the canvas. Zeb stays seated for a moment, pondering the reaction of another person as to what he had done.
And what he was about to do.
Clamoring to his feet, he reaches into his front pocket and pulls out a wad of…bait? Several fake rubber worms emerge, and he strategically places them in Doozer’s outstretched hand: the same one still covered in yolk and broken shell.
Zeb Martin: When yuh wake up, tell the bawssman I’m goin’ fishin’.
With an adjustment of his hat, Zeb walks past Jiles and shakes his head, almost as if it were an unspoken apology.
Erect, elated, eggstatic… The High Chief of COOL breathes in Zeb’s devastation as if it were his own. He smiles at it. Widely. Deviously. He then reaches behind his ear, and manifests an egg out of thin air.
Jiles: ONE. LAST. EGG.
Tantric, The Crown Prince of COOLSYLVANIA stretches his yolk loaded arm as high into the air that it will go, stands up on his tippiest of toes, and drops the presumably double yolk in his grasp. The remorseless egg whistles towards Doozer’s straight jacket piledrived face as if it were a bomb dropped from Max Shell from the heavens above.
Joe Hoffman: Huh?
Just before the egg can explode across Doozer’s face, his old buddy The Mongoloid Hunter quickly swoops down and catches it.
Jiles: Not yet. Not by a fucking long shot, yet.
The Memorial Show of Maximilian Kael cuts backstage, leaving the remains of the eGG Bandits to clean themselves up from the ring.
A Sting to the Scorpion
As we shift to another part of the backstage area in the Best Arena we see a room littered with pictures of Max Kael’s career ranging from various championship victories, biggest feuds, and incarnations. A door opens up and Scott Stevens enters the room dressed in a custom tailored black suit with a black button up shirt and a 97 red colored tie and it’s topped off with a custom made Max Kael pin he has attached to his suit jacket.
Scott Stevens: Good evening everyone, I know this is a sad day for all of us, and I hope the highlights and everything that I was asked to help out with as been making things a little better.
The Texan begins to walk around the room.
Scott Stevens: Max Kael…….what needs to be said that already hasn’t been said?
Scott barely says as he almost chokes him.
Scott Stevens: I’m not his father.
Stevens stops next to a picture of him and Lee.
Scott Stevens: Or his brother.
Stevens points to a picture of him and Mike.
Scott Stevens: Or a great rival of his.
Stevens walks over and peers at images of Jatt Starr, Darkwing, and Shane Reynolds.
Scott Stevens: Hell, I don’t even think Max truly considered me a friend.
Stevens mutters somberly with his head hanged low.
Scott Stevens: There are many people that consider Max a menace, dangerous, sadistic, borderline psychotic even. Some say he is the purest form of evil that has graced this Earth since Adolf Hitler.
Stevens shakes his head.
Scott Stevens: Those are other people’s opinions, but not mine.
Stevens turns his attention away from the pictures.
Scott Stevens: I consider Max Kael my greatest teacher.
Stevens begins to walk around the room.
Scott Stevens: Sure, I’ve had success in HOW. I won championship. I won some accolades, but it was Max Kael who helped me ascend to that next level. That next level that separates HOW superstars from everyone else. You see, I may have done a lot of stupid stuff in my time here in HOW, but Max didn’t care about that as he was always trying to make sure I was always bettering myself. He is the one who was constantly critiquing me when I wasn’t up to the potential and ability he knew I had in me. If it wasn’t for Max Kael I never would’ve became HOW World champion.
Stevens says as he wipes a tear from his eye.
Scott Stevens: I know I’ve said that a million times before and I will say it another million because it’s the God’s honest truth. Max Kael made me a star in HOW.
Stevens stops in front of a Max Kael picture when he was HOW’s Safety Inspector and pulls it off of the wall.
Scott Stevens: One of my favorites.
Stevens says with a chuckle.
Scott Stevens: Max Kael has sustained an unspeakable career in HOW that expanded all eras. He has been able to maintain relevance since the Golden Era by constant reinventing himself. Max Kael is probably the greatest period because when it came to Max it wasn’t about championships, records, or accolades. It was about something more, it was about getting the best out of you and making sure people cared about what you were doing. Max is the type of person that could get feuding with a tree over because that’s how good he was, and that ability transcends things like eras or championships. That type of ability is one in a million and if this is truly the end and if he didn’t steal Brenton Cross’ ability to time travel, or pull an Emperor Palpatine or that person that wrestled Mike wasn’t a life model decoy than you will truly be missed my friend.
Stevens reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a flask. He pops the top and takes a sip of what’s inside before holding it up and saluting the pictures with it.
Scott Stevens: Vaya con dios, mi amigo.
Stevens takes one last sip before exiting the room.
The Search Begins
Standing in front of a 97Red waving HOW flag is Jack Harmen, the man better known to the HOW Faithful as High Flyer. He wears a deep purple three piece suit with a bright pink bowtie just under the chin. It dangles loosely, as does most of the suit in general. As if he had commissioned it hastily, or stole it from the rack. A slightly sunken eye looks up as he cracks his shoulders. Before he speaks, his nostrils flare subtly.
High Flyer: Max Kael is dead. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe I’ve lost a brother in violence and mayhem, chaos and uncertainty… We had a lot of fun in those short few months. I just know one thing. Max Kael will live on, in our hearts, in our prayers, in our eyes.
High Flyer: I meant our minds. Yes. I don’t want to steal his eye. No siree. Why would you dare say that? I have one good one, and a kind of good one. I’m good. I don’t need his eye…
Flyer steps forward, grabbing at the camera.
High Flyer: Yeah, but can I have it? Max’s eye? I want it. And I don’t trust he’s dead. If I have the eye, he’ll come back to me, and we can play again. We can revel, renew our blood brother bond, and bask in the light of carnage once more.
His eyes widen.
High Flyer: GIVE ME HIS EYE. Do you have it? I WANT. HIS EYE.
Flyer lets go of the camera, throwing his arms up in defeat.
High Flyer: Alright. Alright! I gotta work on my anger issues. But seriously… Where’s his body? Do you know? You don’t? Then why am I talking to you?!
High Flyer walks off, as the camera films him. Flyer passes by a backstage worker who has a manilla folder in his hands, and he just swats it out, causing the papers to scatter.
High Flyer: Maxxxie! I’m coming to find you!
He opens a broom closet. He’s not there.
High Flyer: MAX! Come out and PLAAAAAYYYY-EEE-AAAYY.
Flyer disappears down the corridors, presumably off to look for the very much dead Max Kael. HOTv cuts to commercial.
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The Man With All The Answers
“I’m not quite sure what to say here…”
Backstage, sitting in front of a muted black and #97red backdrop, sits a somber and uncomfortable-looking Lindsay Troy. Words don’t normally fail her, but the Queen is struggling to find the right ones given the weight and impact of this moment. She smooths the front of her black blazer dress, takes a breath to reset herself, and tries again.
Lindsay Troy: It’s always sad when someone dies, especially in this business because people die doing something they love. It’s even sadder when that person was very close to your friends, because their passing hits the ones you care about that much harder.
She pauses, thinking back to comments made earlier in the night.
Lindsay Troy: The Group of Death was not Max’s family; the eMpire was, and it’s because of Mike and Cecilworth that I’m speaking tonight. My friends are hurting, and because they are, so am I.
Lindsay Troy: Max and I were not close. I don’t have fond memories of him; he kicked the shit out of me every time I faced him, and I could never beat him.
A chuckle; a shake of her head.
Lindsay Troy: Didn’t matter what I did, he always had an answer. So many people that have walked through HOW’s doors would probably say the same thing, and that’s a testament to how good Max was; how tough he was. For as many scars as he had, he’s given out so many in return, and in his own demented, psychopathic way, he made me a better wrestler, because he made me work that much harder. That’s what I’m choosing to remember, as I try to help those left behind deal with his absence.
There’s a few seconds of silence before Troy subtly nods her head, stands up, and walks out of the shot.
Something In His Eye
The scene cuts backstage where Hall of Famer, John Sektor, can be seen standing alone, staring down and dressed smartly in his silk gold open neck shirt and black jacket. His hair has been neatly combed bak and his moustache is groomed.
Sektor: I’ve been struggling all week to think of what to say at this time. I almost decided not to say anything, just let this moment pass by and let sleeping dogs lie, or in this case? Let sleeping Legends lie.
Sektor finally looks up at the camera, his eyes red and sore as it’s obvious he has been previously crying.
Sektor: The last words I said about Max was that I hated him. That I wished I was the one facing him in that deathmatch and have the pleasure of ending his life.
Sektor remains solemn, shaking his head with an angry scowl.
Sektor: But they were nothing more than empty words, fueled by my own hatred towards myself. Max, I blamed you for driving a wall between myself and Chloe, but the truth is that you picked her up when no one else would have her. See, Max understood what Chloe needed. He had felt those very feelings when Lee adopted him and took him in as his own. He was one of lifes great outcasts and he felt for those who were like him. He took her in and raised her as best he could. Which was more than I was ever able to do. I should have thanked him, swallowed my fucking pride and thanked the man who has done so much for me throughout my career.
He is visibly fighting back tears, tightening his mouth and nodding with appreciation.
Sektor: You taught me so much. You taught me how to handle losing. How to turn it into a positive. You taught me how to really get inside the mind of my opponents and understand their psychology and the importance of doing that. , you taught me how to understand my own. Most importantly, you taught me how to have fun. Whether it be running around as pirate kings, crimping in the middle of someones segments, hiring captain Price as a personal hit man or terrifying people with a rabid squirrel..
He smiles, earnestly.
Sektor: Those were all great times and probably the most fun I had in this business. I didnt win jack shit but i was HAPPY!. We used to stay up all night whilst I got drunk and just talk about random shit until the sun came up.
His teeth grit together, as though angry with himself.
Sektor: I guess these last few years I lost touch with all that. Now I’m here regretting not coming and talking to you.
A single tear rolls down his cheek as he looks away at the camera.
Sektor: I guess all that’s left to say is…I miss you. I love you. And…thankyou..
He’s quiet for a moment, angrily wiping away the tear before smiling and slowly looking up at the camera.
Sektor: And, for one last time?
His hands shoot up either side of his head, fingers pressed together as though a glass crate is around him.
Sektor: Crimpitee-Crimpitee HOW NOW?..Crimpitee-Cripitee WATCH ME NOW! ..
His hand wraps around an imaginary hornt on his head.
Sektor: Precious unicorns, stinking up the locker room..selliiiing tales and secrets of their wives…LONELY CHILDREN filling up their Tummmmies with TIKA…MASALA….TIKA …MISALA..Safety first, boy watch out for rabidoooo, dramatic readiiings the laughter splits our sides! ..Future sailors floating down the highwayyyy, smiling at the cameras, winking as they go by…pirate kings? Smells like a speedBUMP..watch out NOW! There’s something in your eye!
Sektor covers the one eye which shed a
The scene then fades as Sektor cusps a hand over the eye which shed a tear, before finally turning blank and leaving everyone utterly confused.
Main Event: 10 Bell Salute
We return to ringside where Joe Hoffman and Benny Newell are standing by behind in their usual spot behind the announcers table. Benny is looking worse for wear given that the entire night has been dedicated to sad drinking as opposed to happy drinking, his expression is lackluster, his eyes wet and his face droopy and sad. Joe looks better though he also seems to be sporting a gloomy outlook, his own eyes a little red from rubbing away rogue tears.
Joe Hoffman: Welcome back Ladies and Gentlemen as we continue our celebration of fallen High Octane Wrestling Hall of Famer Maximillian Wilhelm Kael who died just one short week ago at Rumble at the Rock.
Benny Newell: Who killed himself sorta, kinda on purpose but not really..
Joe Hoffman: As I am sure there will be spirited debates back and forth as to the nature of Max Kael or the Minister’s death, the fact remains that at Rumble at the Rock Mike Best emerged victorious and is still your High Octane Wrestling World Champion, we saw from him earlier tonight where he received-
Benny Newell: He didn’t receive a hero’s welcome if that was what he was expecting.
Joe Hoffman: Michael Lee Best was damn near assaulted in the ring tonight. I’ve never seen a crowd hate a man that much before. And given what transpired last Saturday, I’d say it is going to be some time before Mike Best finds many friends here in Chicago.
Benny Newell: I think it’s a little unfair but I’m.. also in mourning. Next week I’ll do a better job defending Mike but I just can’t right now, Hoffman.. I just.. I can’t..
Benny breaks down into wet, pathetic, drunken sobbing as Joe reaches over and pats him on the back attempting to comfort his sloppy, white-girl drunk broadcast partner.
Joe Hoffman: Let it all out Benny, let it all out. Tonight, as we celebrate the storied career of Max Kael we throw it up to Bryan McVay!
In the ring Bryan McVay stands in the center, staring up into the crowd as they rumble and cheer, a picture of Max Kael thrown up on the HOTv, his blue eye burning brightly as a goofy, metal toothed grin is pulled across his face. Upon seeing him the crowd lets out a huge series of cheers, a few “Thank You Max” chants breaking out.
Bryan McVay: Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been my honor throughout my career to announce for High Octane Wrestling and it has been my pleasure over the years to participate in the oftentimes outlandish and outrageous entrances of Max Kael. His goal every week was to come to this ring, to leave an impression, be it one that caused you to love him or hate him and if he got that reaction he knew he had done his job. I won’t pretend we were friends but we both shared a love for this sport, of this company and of this ring and in that sense we were brothers.
On the HOTv the scenes of various different Max Kael entrances over the years including being carried in on a throne, riding an Elephant to the ring, driving a tank into the Best Arena and more. The crowd rises and cheers with each new picture and each fond memory. This is all accompanied by “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day begins to play. The HOTv continues to play through different goofy moments of Max Kael bothering other HOW wrestlers and talents including presenting Jatt Starr with a toy HOW World Championship, attempting to explain to Cecilworth Farthington how to use an ATM, Crimping with John Sektor, making weird faces at the back of Lee Best, wearing Shane Reynolds’ dead sister’s face, leading a group of North Kaelrean Soldiers and more. The video ends again with a smiling picture of Max Kael, 1974-2020 posted beneath it while the audience lets out an earnest sounding cheer, some even tearing up.
Bryan McVay: So how about one last time for the road Max? Hailing from Arkham, Massachusetts..Standing at 6 foot 4 inches and weighing 236 pounds.. The Lord of Kaelsalvania, the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, the North Kaelrean General… MAAAAAX KAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAEL!
The crowd rises to their feet as their voices rise to fill the entirety of the Best Arena with cheers, real, honest, and somehow a little sad sounding cheers.
Bryan McVay: And now the ringing of the Ten Bells.
McVay leaves the ring as a pillar of light shines down on the stage where a folded chair and a pair of Max’s wrestling boots are placed. The crowd quiets into a somber tone, a few hoots and whistles cutting through the silence.
The pillar of light on the stage cuts out as the arena is dropped into darkness. The crowd immediately begins to make noise as confusion and anticipation grips the audience.
Joe Hoffman: Oh Christ, what’s happening?
Benny Newell: Don’t tell me they didn’t pay the fucking power bill. We’re honoring a legend here.
From the pitch darkness, the stage suddenly comes alive with thousands of red glowing lights, like burning eyes staring out at the audience which only causes more excitement to build. The lights each blink out of existence until there is just one last red glowing eye standing on the stage as the crowd begins to stamp their feet, the growing rumble of rising ever higher.
Joe Hoffman: What!? WHAT?!
Benny Newell: He’s not dead! HOLY FUCK HE SURVIVED?!
“Believer” by Solence, a metal cover of the Imagine Dragon’s song, begins to roar out over the P.A. as the crowd begins a massive flood of Max Kael chants!
…First things first,
I’ma say all the words inside my head,
I’m fired up and tired of
The way things have been, oh-OOH!
The way things have been, oh-OOH!..
The stage lights come up as we see a figure in a leather jacket with a hood pulled up over his face to hide it. Standing next to him was Little Lady Sutler, aka Chloe Sektor-Kael holding the half metal skull of Max Kael up in the air, the damaged metal eye glowing red before it flickered and died. The man in the chair looks up, pulling his hood back to reveal..
The crowd immediately changes from cheers to boos as they it is only further cemented that Max Kael is dead and that his adopted son and daughter had apparently interrupted his ten bell salute. Sutler’s pale face sports a smug expression as he stares out at the crowd, pulling himself up out of the steel chair. Chloe Sektor-Kael doesn’t seem to realize what she is holding onto as she cheerfully dances on the stage with the half-skull, just happy to be there.
Taking his time Sutler approaches the ring looking like the spitting image of a young Shane Reynolds but carrying himself with the same pompous self-importance that his adopted father, Max, always seemed to. He climbs up into the ring, holding the ropes for Chloe to follow him in before he saunters up to a shocked Bryan McVay, ripping the microphone from his hand as “Believer” slowly fades.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: What’s wrong with you people, you act like someone died?
This immediately elicits a negative response from most of the crowd as they boo, some even beginning to throw garbage at the estranged son of Max Kael. Sulter doesn’t seem too bothered as he continues.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Oh wait, are you all crying over losing your favorite professional wrestler?
More booing continues to pour in on Sutler, some of the people in the front row even look as though they are debating if they can jump the barricade and reach Sutler in time.
Sulter Reynolds-Kael: If you are mourning the loss of Maximillian Kael then you clearly did not know the man. If you saw Rumble at the Rock and didn’t immediately jump to your feet when my uncle, Mike Best, set up that piece of shit and killed him then maybe you’re as much of an abusive prick as my father was.
The smile vanishes from Sutler’s face as he speaks about Max, years of abuse and mental scars visible on his face. Unfortunately for Sutler the High Octane crowds are not the most sympathetic, especially when their blood thirsty love of Max Kael gets in the way.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Ear muffs!
Chloe set the half skull on the ring before covering her ears, her face still cheerful and rosey despite what her older brother had been saying. In fact it doesn’t really look like Chloe really understands what’s happening as he covers her ears.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Look at that, I’m already a better dad then Max Kael. Now that the little ears can’t hear, FUCK ALL OF YOU!
His face flashes red as he points a finger at Bryan McVay.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Fuck you.
He turns his fingers to point at Joe and Benny.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Fuck you.
He turns and points at the crowd, sweeping his hand around the arena.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: And once again FUCK all of you. All of you enablers that allowed Max Kael to abuse me. Max Kael was a monster who nearly ruined my life, has nearly killed me multiple times, has been responsible for the deaths of my aunt and uncle, he gave my cousin who was 6 to a known mental patient resulting in her eventual death. Death and pain followed Max Kael like flies follow shit, everything he touched became corrupted and ruined!
The young scion of the Kael family turns to Chloe, getting onto his knee as he pulled her hands from her ears.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Okay, Chloe.. I know you haven’t been sure what is going on but I’m about to break some real truth to you. First, I want you to know that I love you and that I will never let anything bad happen to you, okay sis?
The crowd isn’t buying Sutler’s words but Chloe seems to nod toward Sutler with an honest, trusting expression. Sutler smiles, turning to wink at the camera before he continues.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: I’m sorry to report that our dad…Max Kael, is gone. Mike Best sent him up to the High Octane farm up North and he’s retired now..
Chloe Sektor-Kael: ..retired?
Sulter Reynolds-Kael: Yeah, it’s what happens when people get tired of living and having children so they go where adults can’t be bothered anymore. I know, it’s hard being a kid who had two failures of a father who abandoned them in their youth but know this, Chloe, so long as I’m alive I will not abandon you like John and Max did.
Her head snapped to the side as Sutler mentions John, her brow knitting in confusion.
Chloe Sektor-Kael: …John?
Sutler chuckles and hugs the confused girl before picking up the half metal skull on the ring.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: Don’t you worry about him Chloe. Hey, wanna go Trick or Treating later? We can use your fancy new bucket to collect your candy!
He hands the half skull to Chloe who eagerly grabs it up, hugging it to her chest not aware that it was actually part of the remains of Max Kael. The crowd twists and turns with boos and awkward noises of discomfort at the idea of a young girl using Max Kael’s skull as a candy bucket. Sutler turns his attention back to the crowd with a smug expression that looks almost like a carbon copy of his father, Max’s.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: So you might be wondering why I am here tonight? My uncle, Mike Best, and my grand dad, Lee Best, have officially signed me to a contract here in High Octane Wrestling. You know what that means? The era of Max Kael is over, folks.. Max Kael spent his entire life throwing his life away to prove he was good at something and ultimately it got him killed.. What a fucking loser. Now it’s time for me to step up, now is the era of Sutler Reynolds-Kael and before I am done.. Before I retire.. No one.. NO ONE will remember the name of Max Kael. And I won’t die, I promise.
He winks again as garbage begins to fly toward the ring. Sutler doesn’t seem to pay it much attention as the crowd continues to shower him with hatred and disrespect.
Sutler Reynolds-Kael: So before I leave.. Let’s give one last cheer for the man put an end to Max Kael… my uncle, the High Octane Wrestling Champion, the Star Ma.. well.. Actually I don’t think Mike makes anyone a star. Honestly, why doesn’t he just call himself the Star Destroyer, seems more apt, right? I like it better.. The Star Destroyer! The Brother Killer! MMMIIIIIIIIIIIIKE BEEEEEEEEEEEST!
Chloe jumps up and down and begins clapping, the half skull tucked under her arm. Boos, so many boos, so much acid in the screams and roars of the audience as “Believer” crashes over the sound system again, Sutler posing in the ring as the Max Kael Memorial Show officially comes to an end.
A new evil has arrived in High Octane Wrestling.