You know…I don’t know where to start this week. I mean, I’m obviously desperate to be back in that ring again, any chance to go wrestle, right? Any challenge, any time, any place. I don’t care who. I don’t cherry pick my opponents, I don’t choose the feuds I work like some…I just show up every fucking week and do my thing. The feuds…I don’t choose them. You honestly think I hit up John Sektor and said we could work a thing and make some cash? Nah. I just work ‘em. Same as the matches. I don’t choose ‘em, I just work ‘em. I didn’t hand Lee Best a list of people I will and will not face when I agreed my return. I do not have a blacklist or anything like that…go ask Lee. I take any match this company throws at me. I always have, I always will. I’m here to compete.
And if you want me to sit here and take a moment to reflect on that first month back?
Sure. We can do that.
Because I’m just like you. If I’m honest, I didn’t expect this. I came back, because, well…you know how it is, right? You’ve got an itch. Sometimes you can go years without truly scratching it, but some days, it just pops back up and you can’t help but scratch it. You don’t want to scratch it. Hell, the last things you heard about the place from a mate was that it was bad times. Not worth it. Stay home, don’t scratch the itch. You can’t help it though, right? You love professional wrestling. Not like you got into it for a time back when you were a teenager and man, it’s like, all over the place nowadays so I’ll watch a bit here and there, nah. You loved it during the dark days. You’re a fucking addict. When there was no Shockwave Sports Entertainment, when there was no High Octane Wrestling, you were there, navigating VPN’s and ratio requirements so you could torrent the actual good professional wrestling from Japan, because like fuck am I dealing with some overwrought, pretentious thing that’s ashamed to embrace the fact that it’s professional wrestling. You were watching the superb sports entertainment that the American and British indies were putting on, hunting down the best lucha…
You’re a fucking addict.
Doesn’t matter if you do go a couple years without watching anything. You’ll catch a clip of a match as you browse your Insta Reels or your TikTok or whatever, and that’s that. You somehow, maybe the algorithm, maybe a friend, whatever, find out about the next big event, watch it, and bam. Every show. All over again.
That’s me. I heard Ward had come back…and can I be honest? I get we’re friends, but I’m just straight up a mark for the guy. So I tuned back in. And again. And again. And again. You get the idea. And just like you, I started developing opinions. I kept seeing Christopher America as World Champion, hearing about his record beating reign.
I beat Christopher America for that very Championship. Kicked off my second reign.
So I started wondering if I still had it? I’d been sat in retirement, paying a little bit of attention every year when it comes time to use my Hall of Fame vote, but otherwise, sitting there, saying I had no interest in coming back for anything other than a little Ground Zero reunion, one or two matches, and it had to be all three of the definitive lineup. Me, Ward, Witness. Otherwise? I was retired. Capitalise the R for emphasis, even.
But…y’know. The itch.
…What do you want me to say? It itches. I mean, it’s a shit thing to say, it looks horrible, but it’s true. If you have the aforementioned itch, you know exactly what I mean, and what I’m about to say.
I was sitting at home, on my couch, covered in spliff ash and taco detritus, and I said the exact phrase you’d expect me to say.
“I’m better than him. I could beat Christopher America. I could be World Champion again, if I wanted it.”
I guess normally, you say some shit like this, and you know it’s not really feasible anymore. You’re in your thirties now, things just ain’t quite as easy as they were ten years ago, you don’t really train, and, well, let’s be blunt. If you’re gonna return to HOW, you’ve got this stupid fucking legacy to live up to – the one where you’ve gotta be on it, every fucking week. You’ve gotta be the guy that makes people go “Ah fuuuuuuuuck” when they see your name opposite theirs because that’s your legacy – that’s what you’re known for. Do you have record breaking Championship reigns? No.
Did you show up week after fucking week? Yeah. Are you, statistically, one of the most dominating wrestlers that High Octane Wrestling, and thus, professional wrestling as a whole has ever seen?
So, returning gets a bit more complex. Unless you’re gonna mask up, you coming back…I mean, you have to aim at the World Championship. That’s all that’s ever really mattered. So do you want it? Because you’re not gonna just walk back through the door and get a World Championship shot. The facts are simple there – even if I’d come back as an Alliance member, well, I’d be at the back of the Alliance line for a shot. And coming back how I did? Lee’s done everything he could to keep me away from the top 5 of the rankings. So y’know. Coming back for the World Championship…it can’t just be a happy times, wave at the crowd, cut some cheesy promos, win the belt, fuck the figurative prom queen and go home. It would be work. It would be effort. It would be a grind.
The greatest hits of Rhys Townsend, you could even say.
So the itch kept…fuck. It kept itching, alright? I fucking hate this analogy, but it’s…it’s the one. I kept watching. War Games? War Games, it got too much. Any previous ill advised return, I just decided to do it on a whim, but this? This was thought out. Before I even reached out to Lee, I had to know if I could go work a match. So I did the exact same shit I woulda done if I was in War Games. I cut promos. I did the work in the gym. I have the tapes of all this shit at home, and yeah, maybe I was stupid for doing it, but I had to know that I wanted to just…wrestle.
Y’know? I wanted to do a thing for the joy of doing it. Not because I felt I should, or because I wanted something I felt I deserved, or to try and add onto my legacy. Let’s face it – the odds are, I’ll make it worse. I’m older now. Slower. But I did that shit, I acted like I was in War Games because I had to know if I wanted it. I mean, we know the answer, right? I’m typing this, so I hope it’s obvious. Sent one of my promo packages for War Games to Lee…the easiest negotiations of my life followed. Plane tickets shortly after.
War Games? Ah cool, Townsend’s back. Cautious optimism is what I felt. Cool. That just makes me want it more. Christopher America doesn’t have the World Championship anymore, but it’s gotten past that now. I don’t really like saying it, if I’m honest, but…yeah. It’s all about number six right now. Stronk is now the target. Cool. But first? Kostoff. A week later, Stevens…and the murmurings go from cautious optimism to quiet whispering that I’m back. Then a tag match with Ward. A quiet, not even really mentioned reunion of the heart and mind of Ground Zero…and a win. With Dan Ryan and Stronk also in the match. Two of the most dominant wrestlers of 2023. It’s not murmurings anymore. Everyone’s figured out what you figured out a couple weeks back during War Games week.
You want this. And it really is a Greatest Hits tour.
The High Octane Wrestling Machine is back.
Though…HOWM kinda sucks as an acronym. Kinda maybe need to workshop the name a bit.
Regardless, you are Rhys Townsend. Not just..fuck. Okay so, I’m obviously me, regardless, right? But I’m the same Rhys Townsend that took the HOW Tag Team Championships to a pay per view main event. The same guy who won five World Championships, who posted twenty seven wins in a thirty seven match year. That same guy who fucking loves to compete, and does not give two fucks who it’s against.
So then comes Sektor and Best, and it happens – it goes from three and oh to three and one. But when you’re partnered up with Brian Hollywood, and Hollywood himself admits that, while he’s going to give everything he’s got, you probably have a better chance wrestling the match handicap…well, y’know.
But isn’t that interesting? Mike fucking Best. The guy I’ve measured myself against my entire career. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero interest in HOFC, and I have zero interest in going and trying to play nice in someone else’s pool, but in terms of guys here in High Octane Wrestling? He’s my measuring stick. Maybe you figure that’s ambitious, but you try sitting here with five World Championships and see who you decide is the dude you want to beat. Plus, for me, on a personal level, pretty much all of my favourite contests have been against him. Not that I’m sitting here aiming for ten. I know how much of a grind it’s gonna be to get another…I’m not stupid enough to commit to be here long enough to get ten. And who knows? Maybe I fall off anyway.
Who knows? But either way, the thing everyone expected to happen happens, my team loses the match, and we move. Management tell me that they’re giving me the week after off to make sure I’m ready for 97Red, I win Wrestler of the Month and…well, we then find ourselves here. Chaos 37.
Now, if you’ve looked at the match card already, you know who I’m facing. But given I mentioned my second reign earlier and the fact that I beat Christopher America to kick it off, I should probably bring it full circle and tell you that Jace Parker Davidson ended it.
When I was told I was facing Sektor at the pay per view, I sighed. I’m not particularly scared of the man…I just feel like I’ve wrestled the match a billion times before, it’s a fucking boring match, and y’know, I appreciate he has his fans, I can see why people enjoy him, but to me? Having to watch this…this thing that’s like someone’s watched Scarface a whole bunch and they also loved GTA Vice City so what happens if we smash those together and get some hipster looking guy with a douchestache to do it…it’s just not for me, right? If it came on the TV when I was watching, I’d change the channel. I mean…I stream everything, personally, so I wouldn’t end up watching some shit I don’t wanna watch but you know what I mean. Still, it’s a pay per view match…some people don’t get those. And I didn’t have to go demand one on the show or anything, it’s just handed to me. Doesn’t matter that it’s Sektor. I’ll still show up. Regardless, a sigh.
When I saw I was facing Jace Parker Davidson this week, again, I sighed.
Maybe you think this is the part where I’m about to jump into some long winded character assassination of Jace, where it turns out I’ve been consuming every piece of content he’s put out for the last six months and I’m gonna tell you exactly why he’s the fucking worst, but if you were thinking that, you’re wrong.
For one, I’m a fucking stoner. Sure, I might go watch a bunch of his recent matches, but all those words? Fuck that bro.
Nah, I sighed because of all the matches I didn’t want, it’d be this one. Not because I just cannot be arsed with having to deal with the gimmick and all the bullshit that comes with it, like Sektor, but because…well, I mentioned my second title reign earlier, right? I also mentioned the twenty seven win year. I don’t know if he was under contract with us that year or not, but if he was? I’d bet a toe that a good chunk of those ten losses were this guy.
I just felt like he had my number.
Didn’t matter how hard I trained, didn’t matter what I did, what I put in…he’d beat me. It wasn’t some thing like it was with Mike, where it felt back and forth, depending on who was on form at the time, nah. It just felt like he’d beat me, every single fucking time. I’m…somewhat sure I at least scored some wins over the guy, but fuck, man…it just felt like he knew how to beat me. And now he’s here. The fifth match of the dream return.
Sidenote – I don’t believe this to be a dream return. Maybe you’re gonna think I’m an egotistical wanker, but I thought it’d go something like this. Maybe not wrestler of the month good, but y’know.
And it’s not just a match against that guy from back in the day, it’s a match with far bigger implications than that. Dan Ryan wrestles Stronk for the World Championship this week. I know I’ve already talked about the switch from singles to tag – as soon as it was announced that someone in the top 5 would be getting a shot at the World Championship, ironically enough. Every other wrestler who’s signed a deal at the start of, or during this period seems to have gotten a shot at the HOTv Championship, but is it my turn this week? Nah, it’s Trent’s. I mean…it’s Ward’s. Nah, this week I get a match that Lee Best knows I don’t want, because Lee Best is not stupid and Lee Best knows I used to think that this guy had my number. Maybe Jace knows that too. Maybe he still thinks he still does – and who fucking knows…perhaps he legitimately does.
I don’t know.
But I can tell you that they are wrong.
I do want this match. As much as I might once have hated the idea of facing him, if I’m honest with myself? I reckon he’s one of the fiercest competitors to ever step foot into our ring, and I can’t wait for the chance to measure myself against a guy I truly have a world of respect for.
And it’s not just that, is it? Lee Best might have a boner about the fact that I sighed and went oh fuck the minute I heard it was Jace this week, but it means he doesn’t look particularly far ahead. Sure, maybe I’ve not gotten the championship shot everyone else on a new deal seems to be getting, but…I’m getting something better, aren’t I?
I’m wrestling the number one contender for the High Octane Wrestling World Championship.
I am being offered a way to cut the line. A way to demand a championship shot and have legitimacy behind it.
So there’s that. Then there’s a chance to test myself against someone who I consider to be one of the best to have wrestled in High Octane Wrestling…and finally, there’s a chance to beat the guy I felt like I rarely beat, even when I was at my most dominant.
A step closer to six.
The fifth match of my return offers me the chance to force myself into the reckoning for the World Championship…and no, that’s not by signing up to be a surprise return on someone’s War Games team. That’s by doing what I love – by wrestling.
Ground Zero is dead. But it’s philosophy, the love of professional wrestling, of sports entertainment? That fuelled me to what I considered the greatest heights of my career. That’s when I did the things I am most proud of. Embracing the challenge, the struggle that comes with this sport the same way I did then is what’s driven me to this start so far. It’ll drive me again this week.
And that’s the thing, right? It feels like a World Championship contest to me. Not just, because as I talked about, it certainly has implications for that very Championship, but because it’s Jace. I could face the guy in a gymnasium at some rickety ass jank house show in front of four drunk teenagers and I’d go out and wrestle like the HOW World Championship was on the line. I want you to understand that. You, the random person who just decides to check out my shit this week, but especially you, Jace.
I want this win.
Not because it sets me on the way to the sixth, no.
Remember how I said things changed, about how it went from wanting to come back so I could beat America for that belt? Only now, America ain’t champ, so it’s Stronk, right? Six. That’s the goal.
…maybe not. I’m a competitor, and thus, I’m an idiot. I don’t want six. Everyone’s setting public goals for themselves around here lately, so lemme jump on that gimmick and tell you about my fucking idiocy.
I want my name to be revered around here like Mike Best’s name is. I believe I’m just as good…and to get there, I have to beat people like Jace. I have to bury those demons. Six will help, as will this. Two birds, one stone.
Ideal for my fat ass, right?
So I hope it’s obvious that I don’t have to sit here and tell you why I want it again. And I hope that I don’t have to tell you how much it means to me. Again, I hope that’s obvious. I hope I don’t have to make promises of maximum effort, or any of that sort of bullshit – again, I’d figure that shit’s becoming obvious right now.
At this point, I hope I can just tell you that Rhys Townsend is coming to Chaos to wrestle, and you know what that means, you understand all that it implies.
Because Rhys Townsend is coming to the Antel Arena in Montevideo, Uruguay for Sunday Night Chaos, and Rhys Townsend is coming to wrestle.
So let’s make trouble in the dream world,
Hijack heaven with another memory now.
I make the most of the turning tide,
It just split what’s left of the burning silence.
Don’t wait ‘cause this could be the last time,
You turn up in the reveries of my mind.
Sleep Token – The Apparition
Normally, this is where you click away, go back to HOWrestling or PornHub or whatever, right? Normally. Except today a video starts playing. It’s a run down little room we’re now seeing, and we’re focused in on a white guy with a taco focused luchador mask. The mismatched camo gear he’s wearing clashes violently with all the other mismatched camouflage that the far more generic looking luchador types are wearing around him. Just behind the man, we can see a Mexican flag – only the eagle is holding a taco within it’s claw, and a badly written TLF adorns the bottom third of the flag.
Mystery Masked Luchador Of Great Mystery: I am El Terroristo, the leader of the Taco Liberation Front and I am here to deliver a message on behalf of the Taco Liberation Front, tacos and taco lovers worldwide!
The man stands up out of the camping chair he had been directing operations from, smashing off one of the mysterious masked henchmen of mystery, almost falling over but not quite. Instead, he styles it out into an overly elaborate yet wonderfully camp attempt at being a, well, y’know. Rebel terror group leader.
El Terroristo: We here at the Taco Liberation Front, we watch the High Octane Wrestling, and we see the crimes against tacos that are perpetrated on a weekly basis! We see this great food get sullied by dastardly people with no respect for the taco’s great history, and only money on their mind! This stops! Now!
He punches the palm of his hand…and winces. It doesn’t stop him, however, as he continues to monologue.
El Terroristo: We will not allow these war crimes to be transgressed any longer! So you, Rice Townshed…we are, how you say? Coming for you, brother! YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR CRIMES!
Spit flies out the guy’s mouth, and if this were still the 1990’s, this’d be where the video would go to the black and white snow type static. Except it ain’t, it’s 2023, so y’know. Black screen. Suggestions for what to go click next. Some adverts. Usual shit.