High Octane Wrestling
Published: Written by: Rhys Townsend

I own a farm.


Well, maybe farm is a bit of an understatement. Farming complex might, technically, be more accurate. And if you’re sat there thinking “Rhys Townsend, a fucking FARMER?!”, then it’s hard to blame you. But I farm weed.


Which really shouldn’t be a surprise. 


So when you return to an American based company, and you yourself, live in Wales, it makes a fair bit of sense to have somewhere in the States where you can base yourself, doesn’t it? So…I’m naturally gonna do it at the farm. Had to clear out a warehouse that we were previously using for storage, but let’s face it – not exactly a hardship to have a warehouse full of weed to smoke, is it? Send a load to Trent for “testing” purposes, keep the rest for yourself…happy days. I mean, I haven’t filled the place out with gym equipment, just a ring and a fairly loud sound system. And yeah, I know, Oregon. It’s not the sunshine state, and there’s probably strong arguments for basing yourself in California, but if you’re not paying attention?


I’m Welsh. I need to live somewhere where it rains, or else I feel like the entire fucking world is going wrong.


So here we are. Me and my training partner.


I didn’t go and hire someone who’s an actual trainer…nah. Why would I? What are they going to teach me, exactly? I’ve done more than 99% of professional wrestlers out there. Five Time World Champion, so on and so forth…nah. I did the sensible thing, considering all I really need to do is stay sharp – I hired someone who’s used to being thrown around a ring for little cash.


Yeah, I hired an independent wrestler. Even gave him a contract…made sure he’s gonna be where I am, but other than that? He can take whatever bookings he likes. Works for me, works for him. I guess when you’ve decided that your ring name is Ford Lamar, Jr., you need all the help you can get.


And no, I don’t believe that there’s a Ford Lamar, Sr.


Either way, it brings us to where we are right now, which is somewhere in the state of Oregon, not too far from Portland, in a warehouse on my farm, in a ring I bought off the Internet, with the sweet, sweet smell of my cannabis fields filling the place.


With ol’ junior flying through the air.


Gotta love suplexes. 


He lands hard, thumping off the canvas, before he does what he’s paid to do – attempt to win a wrestling match against me. Only we got no referee. He springs up and charges straight back across the ring at me, narrowly missing my bald head ads I duck under a fairly pathetic attempt at a lariat. He stops, briefly confused, which is about all the time I need to clasp my arms around his midsection from behind and, once again, hoist him high into the air, before driving his neck and shoulders into the canvas with Das Suplexen.


Or a German Suplex, if you’re one of those people who likes to call moves correctly and not by the name the wrestler chooses to use. High-angle bridging German, to be precise. I hold him there, bridging the hold, up on my tiptoes for what feels like approximately the right amount of time for a three count, before releasing it. He doesn’t move as I roll out of the ring, merely groans.


He only starts to stir after I’ve towelled off a little, and am in the middle of chugging a bottle of water.


“Ughhhh…fuck, man, fuck. They told me you were like a throwback from early 90’s Japan, but I didn’t believe it until you’d given me my third concussion…”


I can’t help but laugh as he slowly picks himself up off the canvas, staggering towards the ropes


“I mean, shit, Rhys, how many times did you drop me on my fucking head?”


“Four. Maybe five. Don’t know, wasn’t counting. Didn’t know I paid you to bitch…?”


“You don’t, it’s like…a free add in?”


“Ah. Thrilling.”


He chuckles, as he drops out the ring and heads towards his bag of gear, finding his water and taking a nice, long drag. Speaking of nice, long drags…


About now is a good time to produce the spliff, filled with the Single Leg Crab Of Doom strain we’ve been experimenting with here, and to take a nice, long drag of it. Let the fragrant smoke fill my lungs, keep it there, and then exhale.


Not bad shit.


“So you feel prepared for that gangfuck of a match?”


“Sure. As prepared as I can be, anyway. There’s so many people in this match, it’s gonna be like an England versus Wales fight on St. Mary’s Street on Six Nations matchday. Just fucking mayhem. But I know I got two dudes who got my back, so….could be worse.”


He nods, finishing off his water.


“Not worried about that new stable?”


My turn to laugh. A nice booming chuckle, echoing out around the warehouse.


“Not particularly, no. Would you be?”


“Well, there’s what, 8 of them?”


“Think so.”


“Then yeah, I mean, they got the numbers…”


Again, I can’t help but laugh. Except this time, I had a lungful of smoke, so it’s more like laugh, splutter, cough and walk over to the fridge filled with Monster Energy, grab a can, drink a bit so my throat doesn’t feel so fucked, then laugh a bit more. 


And then reply.


“Ford, mate, did you watch the end of Refueled?”






“It was…well…I mean, I don’t want to say anything too bad, they’ve all got major league contracts, and I’m working gymnasiums and you, so…”


“Don’t puss out, mate. Just say it.”


“Well, Rhys, it was a fucking mess, wasn’t it? I’m not entirely sure what it was they were looking to accomplish?”


“Exactly. You have weeks to plan how you’re going to make an impact, and when you finally come up with your cunning plan, it involves doing something that one man did just a few weeks back, while your erstwhile leader stands there directing traffic, pretending he’s the badass he wishes he was.


Nah, mate, I’m not entirely sure what it is I, or for that matter, the rest of High Octane Wrestling is supposed to fear. I’ve had more impactful and less confusing shits, to be quite frank.”


It’s Ford’s turn to have a bit of a chuckle now, right around the time I take another chug of the Monster, as I head back over to the ring, hopping up on the apron. Doesn’t take long before the can’s on the apron next to me, the spliff is hanging out of my mouth at a jaunty angle, and I’m busy scrolling through Instagram.


“Don’t Hollywood have like, World Championships to his name? Stevens too, for that matter…”


“Yeah. You’re right, I think they do.”


“So doesn’t that mean that they’re a threat?”


“Never said they weren’t. They won the Tag titles last week, they’re no slouch team. I was merely pointing out the lack of leadership they showed first week they decided to exist. And the World Championships they have in that stable…I’m not sure it’s something I’d boast about, if I were them, to be quite honest? Yeah, they won the title, but what happened to HOW the last time Brian Hollywood was World Champ?”


“It closed?”


“Exactly. Drawing power, of well, I dunno…a salad? Whatever. Throw in the fact that pretty much all of the notable main event talent from that era had gone to Utah or just straight retired, and it’s a bit like boasting that you won the U-11’s league, after all the bigger kids had their 12th birthday. Bit useless, really. 


Look, Ford, both the other teams in the match aren’t a joke, they could both go ahead and win the match. They’re both accomplished. But then so is Ground Zero. I know we’re the team with the biggest targets on our backs in this match, I know both teams are gonna be looking to pin one of us, because that’s the best bragging rights you can get out of this, right? My job to stop that. Witnesses job, Ward’s job too, but you know what I’m saying. Egg Bandits been together a long time, this new stable is gonna wanna prove themselves…it’s not gonna be easy.”


“But you’re confident you can win?”


“Of course. If I didn’t think I could win every match I’m in, then I might as well just go back to Wales right now.”


He looks thoughtful as he starts to compose a reply, but before anything actually manages to emerge from his mouth, my phone starts to ring. It’s that default iPhone ringtone that almost everyone has, because custom ringtones went out of style about ten years ago, so now everyone has the default.


I hate it. I’d change it, but, if I’m honest, I’m too fucking lazy.


I don’t recognise the number, but then, American phone numbers make no sense to a Welshman like myself.


“Townsend speaking.”


The voice on the other end? I recognise it. Immediately.


“Rhys? Thank fuck. Look, is there any chance you could get down to San Fran? I might have gotten myself into a bit of trouble…”


Silent “I’ve got a Cunning Plan” Witness.


I have no clue why he figured going to Alcatraz to find Chris was a good idea, and I’m pretty sure I know the exact words that are about to come out of his mouth.


“Yeah. You know as well as I do that I’m in the same time zone. What’ve you managed to get yourself into?”


“Well…my little excursion to Alcatraz? Didn’t go so well. You need to come bail me out if we’re gonna compete as a trio…”


See? Cunning plan. Brilliant one.


“Yeah, I can. I’ll call your lawyer too, just in case. Go enjoy jail food for a bit, we’ll get some tacos after. I got a couple trucks there busy gouging the fuck outta San Fran’s residents…it’ll be a hoot.”


“Alright. Alright. Thanks man…I’ll see you soon.”


And then the line dies. I don’t know how that shit works, if I’m honest? Any of my jail time has usually resulted in a highly paid lawyer seemingly materialising out of nothing to get me out and free, but there we go.


There’s an enquiring look from Ford that I catch out the corner of my eye as I search for the lighter that I put down not two minutes ago.


“Don’t ever start, or lead a stable, Ford. Ever. It’s a lotta work!”


“What’s happened?”


“Someone managed to get themselves arrested…and of course, I gotta go free the fucker. Look, dude, I don’t know what your bookings are for the rest of the week, but I’m gonna have to cut our time short for now, I’ve got a trip down the coast to make. And a few calls before I can do that. Feel free to hang around here for as long as you need.”


He nods, knowing he’s been dismissed, and goes back to fucking around in his gear bag or whatever it was he was doing while I was on the phone.


Found the fucker.


The lighter that is.


So I reignite, bringing the spliff back to life as I scroll through the phone book,finding the number I want. It rings for a few seconds, and then I’m speaking before the other end can say anything.


“Evan? Rhys. I know the show isn’t there, but I’m about to go to San Francisco, any chance you could meet me there…?”




“Some real tacos now, yeah? Not the shit they serve here…”


Santa Clara appears to be one of the many faceless cities that dot America – it’s just kinda there and largely inoffensive. Apart from when you pay a fair amount of loot for exclusive taco rights, and they merely dump your truck out in the parking lot.


But regardless, I wasn’t here to check up on one of the 42 trucks, I was here because Witness figured it’d be a nice way to say thanks. I went along with it because, well, getting to watch Garoppolo’s knee explode again would be good entertainment. Except it hadn’t, because nobody was allowed to touch him. Practice SUCKS. That, and fuck the Niners. Skol Vikes.


And I don’t think Evan even had a clue what was going on. 


“Yeah, we can go and get some proper tacos, Rhys.”


“I got one taco there, Witness, it’s so hot you wouldn’t have needed to call me to bail you out – coulda just eaten one of these, taken a shit and it woulda burned you a way out.”


“That sounds totally awesome! I’ll take three!”


“I’ll be genuinely shocked if you can, Evan. Like, for real, proper, genuinely shocked.”


“Maybe just one…?”


“Might be a wise idea, bro.”


There’s one of those moments of companionable silence as we walk towards the truck, the worker behind the counter already noticing me, moving to grab the apron that every truck has somewhere behind the counter…the one that’s exclusively for me.


“So I’ve been meaning to ask, Rhys…”


“Meaning to ask what, Witness?”


“Well, I’m just a bit concerned about how we came off on Refueled. We’re there throwing the accusations of bias at Mike, and then later in the show, he appears and is entirely reasonable. Basically agrees with what you said. Declared the new era and all that. Talks about fairness and whatnot. Are you not a bit concerned about how we came off?”


I sigh, plucking my third joint of the last hour out of a pocket, quickly igniting it to life.


“Fairness? The man preaches fairness, yet is quite happy to send America off to Alcatraz for a Solitary Confinement match against him while he waltzes around free on the outside…last I checked, everyone was meant to go in at the same time for that match.”


“Well, yeah, but someone has to run HOW…”


“Lemme put it this way, dude…if you really thought it was fair, would you have tried to break into Alcatraz? I don’t think you would have. His words say one thing, his actions another. I don’t believe or trust him, to be quite honest. Look, we’re back because we were all looking at HOW and thinking what a fucking mess, right?”


Nods, murmurs of agreement from the two men, strolling towards the taco truck with me.


“And a chunk of that was down to the eMpire, to Mike, no? Look, dude, I get what you’re saying, but I have more history with that guy than pretty much anyone else on the roster, and I don’t believe a single word that came out of his mouth on Refueled. It won’t be long before it’s jobs for mates and all that type of bullshit. You really believe that, magically, he’s turned into a decent guy and is gonna do a good job of running HOW? Nah. I’m not buying it. I mean, maybe you’re right, maybe we should back off a bit…for now. But I find it to be already bullshit. Like I’ve already said, I think it’s some bullshit that he’s roaming free before The Rock, but America’s already locked up. I don’t think it’ll be too long before we see some more bullshit, if I’m honest. We need to be ready, prepared for that shit.”


“True enough. Can’t argue too much with that.”


The words come out of the LSD Legend’s mouth, but his face is wracked with thought. Good. He should be willing to question me, question what I’m doing and how I’m steering Ground Zero. If he wasn’t willing to do that, then it’s a short step from here to there, and me roaming about, looking to put heads through doors and whatever other shit my head decides is a good idea.


And I mean…moments like this, getting to hang out, to talk things through with these two? This is part of why I came back. I bled for these guys, just like they bled for me. We made Ground Zero into the force it was, into the force it is. 


The heart of the stable is right here.


Ward, Townsend, Witness.


What many call the definitive lineup of Ground Zero.


And it’s about this time in my reverie that we reach the truck. The anonymous worker type who was previously behind the counter quickly vacates, deciding that right now is the time he wants to take a break. I mean, I’ll be honest…I would have sent him on one regardless. But it’s about time to chuck the apron on and get my buddies some of the best tacos around. Witness is busy studying the menu, Ward only having eyes for the Ground Zero. I clap my hands together, indicating it’s decision time.


“Alright boys, what can I get for you? Witness, you first, because I am 95% sure of what Evan’s gonna order…”


“Uhh…the Hashtag Predictable? That’s chicken, right?”


“Yup, not a problem. Medium heat, yeah?”




“Sensible choice, my man.”


“How many of these trucks do you have, anyway?”


“42, dude.”


“Why 42? You could surely have more if you wanted, couldn’t you?”


“Ooh! Me! Let me answer this one, Rhys!”


Evan can barely contain himself, so I just nod, letting him take the floor.”


“Because 42 is the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything!”


He looks far too pleased with himself, having answered that one.




And Witness just looks a little bit confused. A couple seconds later though, and he’s munching away on his predictable tacos, with their predictable level of spice.


“And for you, Evan?”


“The Ground Zero!”


“You know that’s the hottest one here, right? And that Trent was involved in the development of the sauce?”


“Yeah, I totally want it, it sounds totally awesome!”


“Your funeral bro. Your funeral.”


I can’t help but smirk once the taco is prepared, and handed over to him. The idiot takes a large bite, and almost instantly, the pain appears on his face.


I can’t help but start to laugh as he goes through about 29 different facial expressions in about two seconds, almost as if he’s immediately regretting his choice.


Lucky I didn’t serve him three, really.


And let’s hope the shit he does tomorrow doesn’t stop him from competing on Chaos. Don’t really fancy a handicap match, if I’m honest with you. I already feel like there’s a huge target on my back, already feel like every motherfucker is gunning for me.


Not that I can complain. Just business as usual, really. Because if every motherfucker wasn’t gunning for me, I feel like I would be doing something wrong. All I can do is keep bringing it, keep bringing my best effort and doing everything I can to live up to my own ideals, to Ground Zero’s ideals. 


All I can do is keep being a pro-wrestler the only way I know how.


I just hope it’s enough to not let my teammates down.

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