Sunday, May Tenth, Twenty Twenty
Forty-Two Minutes Past Three P.M.
Finally the long awaited final touches have been added to the 24k stay-over house in the northern Chicago suburbs, at least to the main floor. The room we are currently in is the cigar room with an unlit stone fireplace making our backdrop.
James Witherhold sits in a leather chair, a matching chocolate ottoman in front of him. He’s hanging out in a black and gold robe with a black shirt underneath. Normal casual setting for Perfection except that this week is unlike any so far in High Octane. This week James has been given a chance for the ICON Championship, not only that but against Mike Best to boot.
Witherhold ponders for a moment. That’s not where we’ll begin.
“I warned you.”
The tone coming off Perfection isn’t rich with the sarcasm, petty talk-down, and normal shit we get from him. He’s quite serious and dark, a side we haven’t heard.
“I warned each and every one of you, dopey idiots, that our experience together would be much better if we all just had a little fun. Some headlocks, a little toying around with the competition, you know, something we all could look back at as a great ol’ time.”
Looking up at the camera, James stares at us with intensity. A different plateau of Perfection, one where we can actually buy what he’s selling. No bullshit. No fluff.
“I even went as far as to warn Steven Solex that stepping in that ring with me wasn’t going to be a rendition of a cat playing with it’s prey. I told him clear and flat out what my intentions were- that I was going to break him!”
James smiles with pride. Promises made, promises kept.
“It’s been a rare minute since I laid out a plan to actually go out to compete with bad intentions. I typically live by doing things the easiest and most efficient way possible as is well documented. Dishing out a punishment like I did this past Saturday, well, that’s normally saved for special occasions.”
Although, any chance for the audience, or anyone for that matter, to watch the ‘World’s Greatest Technician’ step in a ring is a ‘special occasion’. That’s what Perfection would tell you.
“And how special was it that Joe’s stupid mug was front and center to watch it happen? How much pleasure did I take in dragging Solex around like a throwing dummy?”
Joy is starting to break through Witherhold’s current dark tone.
“Pretty special if you ask me and I enjoyed every goddamn second of it, thank you very much! Watching Solex’s life drain out his empty fucking skull while crushing his windpipe with my boot, him coming within seconds of spending the rest of his professional athletic career as a Special Olympian was everything I knew it’d be, if not more!”
Perfection smirks and kicks his feet up on the ottoman in front of him.
“Poor Steven is probably still recovering in the hospital. Maybe I’ll send him a card or…”
James reaches down and returns with his hand holding a black square tin box. He turns it to its side so the top is able to be seen. ’24k’ in the center and under it in a smaller font ‘Manly Man’ both in gold. Shameless plugging.
“The just released, as of one hour ago, 24k ‘Manly Man Shave Kit’. Which is available at your local Bloomingdale’s.”
He returns the product out of sight and guides us back to a more serious tone. For a moment at least.
“The fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, no professional deserves to be beaten within an inch of their life… unless they decide to cross 24k, much like those two fucks have! It felt pretty damn great to hear Solex’s shallow gasps for air before Bergman decided to play ‘White Knight’.”
James throws up his finger as though he forgot a thought.
“And might I add that there’s no sensation on this earth than that of feeling someone’s bones begin to give right before that beautiful sound of them cracking!”
While it may have been all smiles and enjoying the events that occurred a moment ago, Witherhold’s still not quite happy.
“That very rare ‘pop’ is just another thing on a growing list of items that Joe Bergman has fucked me out of! Hortega wasn’t going to save Steven Solex, no one was. I guess I’ll just need to try to accomplish that on my next unfortunate opponent…”
An unexpected and sinister smile slowly makes its way across Perfection’s mouth.
“Which is ironically this week. Another special occasion it seems. One that I had no goddamn idea would happen…”
The faux disbelief that Withhold is trying to give off doesn’t fool anyone. Probably a good reason he never made it in Hollywood.
“Actually, that’s a lie. I figured either between the whole ‘fighting champion’ shit you’ve been shoving down our throats or because of your fragile yet massive ego, this would probably be inevitable- the Undisputed ICON Champion Michael Best versus Perfection.”
James slowly points at the camera. His finger moving up and down two or three times as he talks before returning it to the arm of his chair.
“Knowing you, Michael, I’m going with the latter… I mean, look at what it actually took to push you over that little edge, stomp your feet, and shout ‘I want to wrestle Perfection and I want him now!’ Was it 24k beating the shit out of the now defunct eMpire and the Industry? Nope! Was it maybe 24k slapping around the two legends and titans of this business in Dan Ryan and Lindsay Troy? Nope! Was it 24k taking tag team gold away from GoD that got us here? Nope, nope, and nope!”
Shaking his hand to go with ‘nopes’ he even mouths it a few times being the ass that is Perfection.
“No, folks. What really irked Michael Best, what really makes him want to get a piece of ‘yours truly’ wasn’t all that I just listed. It’s also not the fact that 24k has pretty much taken over High Octane… your fucking house, Michael.”
Witherhold can’t even believe it. He would never have allowed something like this to happen if he was in Michael’s shoes. Which is easy for James, because he’s not.
“No. ‘Thin-Skinned Mike’ couldn’t handle a few Tweets.”
Perfection puts up both hands. His signature ‘wait, wait, wait’. Always done to soften what he has said or is about to say.
“Now, I’m not going to be like some of the dunces around here, Michael, and say some shit where I claim- ‘if you can’t handle a tweet, you sure as fuck can’t handle me’. I’d never, ever do that- obviously. I know too damn well you’re not anyone I should snooze at. I know you aren’t a Steve Solex, he’s a high level competitor nowhere near our tier.”
Briefly Witherhold points to the camera as though to Mike Best himself and then turns his finger back toward his own chest.
“And it’s an exclusive tier. I don’t need to rattle off all of your accomplishments here in High Octane. Everyone one knows that Michael Best is the foundation of this company, even if that foundation is starting to slowly crack. The proof is in the history books for all to see. A multi-time title-holder, the man who has broken almost every single record that this company holds. Accolades that could line the guest bedroom walls at the 24k stay-over in Winnetka!”
Zero tones that would suggest he’s being a dick. Perfection truly admires what Mike Best has done.
“A captain of War Games, a man who had an entire month dedicated to him, an entire Refueled solely revolving around him. The champion who is on a quest to put up as many title defenses as possible.”
A brief look at the floor and then back at us. Something’s cooking in that brain.
“Some of that is just in the last few months. It’s quite impressive and that’s coming from me of all people. Honestly, it is impressive. I wish I had an adopted dad who owned a wrestling company to give me an entire month of dedication virtually no one celebrated, to just make me a captain of a War Games team; I’m actually a little bit jealous.”
The level of snark flowing from Perfection is pretty unbearable.
“Just jealous enough, Mike, that it makes this all the more worthwhile! I’m the man who gets to bring your ass right back down to earth. The man whose stable broke that comfortable feeling you had when things were all working in your favor! I’m the man who remembers only a few short months ago when things were so perfect and cozy in your little sandbox!”
Perfection raises his hand with the palm facing down. Then swiftly brings it down as though crushing something underneath.
“Then suddenly, totally, and completely ruined it when we showed our beautiful, tremendous, manly faces here and started stomping out whatever you created! I’m the man who ends your title reign.”
James is going off as though he’s giving a stern talking-to to an unruly child.
“All because you couldn’t put your fucking ego in check…”
Not James’ problem. More power to Mike Best for not keeping things in check and allowing something to spiral so easily.
“And stupidly wanted a piece of me! Let me be as clear as I possibly can right now, I’ve been WAITING for this, Michael! Sure 24k have been having a great time in High Octane and around Chicagoland. Sure, we’ve been racking up wins- BIG ones at that! Sure, we even got a giant LED display over our PRIVATE suite! But this… you and I? I’ve been waiting for this for a long goddamn time. This is what I signed that dotted fucking line for when I was sitting in Lee’s office.”
There’s not any sense of lies, sarcasm, or anything of the sort behind what he is saying. What James has said is the stone cold truth. He has been wanting a match with Michael Best.
“I have been itching for a match with you. I’ve wanted to test you and wrestle you for years, Michael! But…”
It can never last long. Can it?
“Not like this.”
The statement leaves a lot of open space as to what James Witherhold is talking about.
“I know, you’re shocked. Who am I to be so dismissive over this wonderful privilege you’ve bestowed upon me? How dare I mock the fact our ICON Champion is such a world-class competitor he offered a shot to the ‘World’s Greatest Technician’?”
Witherhold waits a moment, his eyes briefly shut as though he is regaining his composure over just the thought of what he speaks next.
“Because you gave it away for free, you dumb mother fucker!”
Yup. He’s mad. As he should be. The house he’s sitting in doesn’t heat itself.
“Did you realize even for one second how much cash we could have filled our pockets with in just pay-per-view bonuses alone? Disregard the entire part where I walk out with a belt. Forget the bit where we have one of the greatest technical matches EVER displayed on a High Octane broadcast!”
Perfection is becoming more agitated with the entire issue at hand but what he says next helps bring down the edge.
“Because that shit could have happened at a fairground, a high school gym, or even at a VFW hall and still have been considered a ‘classic’. A must fucking see, if we wanted, Michael. This encounter… Michael Best defending the High Octane ICON Championship against Perfection… is the type of shit history writes about. Surpassing such events like- Rumble in the Jungle, Rhys Townsend toeing off with Jace Parker Davidson, Dan Ryan versus Hornet.”
He’s not wrong. Just the notion of Michael Best against Perfection had the internet buzzing but it actually happening? Twitterverse is in chaos.
“But the opportunity for a giant pay day from a match almost five years in the making? A match of this caliber?! Once in a lifetime, you dope! And I guarantee you those regulars in section two-fourteen wouldn’t have shown up if you would have had patience! We could have harpooned ‘whales’ with just our names up there- merch, VIP Meet and Greets that I’d never attend in my life, the revenue streams are endless…”
And with a snap of his fingers.
“Poof! Gone! Just like that ICON Championship and deservingly so for being too fucking short-sighted! No wonder Lee took your stocks away. Zero business acumen whatsoever! Luckily, Michael, you make up for that wide deficit with your ring smarts.”
James might be pretty agitated over the prospect of losing money, but that’s quickly put to rest over the prospect of wrestling Mike Best.
“Probably the only man on this planet I can say is almost equal to me as far as intelligence in this sport. It’s like I’m wrestling a worse looking version of myself at Refueled. That’s exciting to me! That gets my blood pumping! Like I told Solex last week, bullshit ‘pull out of a hat’ matches do nothing for me.”
Nothing whatsoever actually. Perfection probably doesn’t even know what he hates more: random matches or being fucked over.
“Facing one of the best in the business, facing one of the select few who can truly claim the mantle of ‘technical wrestler’…. and then to defeat them and have my arm raised while they lay there in agony with the title being wrapped snug around my glorious goddamn waist… that’s what makes my fucking cock hard!”
Not literally, of course. This level of competition is what drives James Witherhold. And money.
“And to think, all I had to do in order to get this sort of treatment was to slap you in the fucking mouth in two-hundred-eighty characters or less. Seriously, I would have never been so irate to make a career defining mistake like this. You got so bent out of shape that ‘yours truly’ dared to not suck your fucking asshole, unlike many around here, you threw him a bone.”
Witherhold shakes his head like a terrible error has been made.
“Wrong person to throw a bone to, Michael.”
And James means every damn word of what he just said.
“Maybe you were too busy getting your dick wet from a busted ass prostitute or maybe you were spit-shining that ICON Championship for ‘yours truly’…”
James makes a motion with his left hand like he’s washing a window or shining up a title belt.
“And I want that fucker GLISTENING before you’re forced to hand it over! But in case you didn’t tune into the last Refueled… playtime’s over. Solex and Bergman have done something you and GoD couldn’t do. Those two and their meaningless, irritating, idiots in two-one-four actually managed to trigger and light a fire in Ol’ Perfection. They’ve managed to bring out a version of me unseen since Andy and I tore through the whole of Japan!”
A unique and memorable time for the duo. Although they had differences, the work produced was far beyond anything considered ‘great’ in the region.
“Now you have an actual challenge in front of you. Not that shit you put together in an attempt to fluff your wins. No, Michael. A serious fucking Everest to climb and like most people that attempt to conquer it, it’s knowing getting to top is just half of the journey.”
Leaning towards the camera we can tell that James is every bit vested in what’s spewing out of his mouth.
“Well, here you are. You climbed, you cried to Lee because someone was mean on Twitter, and you got your match. You’re standing on the summit, my man. All you have left is the final half- the descent… defending. And that’s where most die. That’s where the inevitable happens and the mountain claims the ill-prepared, vulnerable, and over confident because that’s what it excels at.”
The speed that things have turned serious could be considered unbecoming. Especially for a person as sarcastic and brash as Perfection.
“That’s what I excel at. Times like this exact opportunity.”
Witherhold is taking much pride in those facts while he continues.
“Shutting up fucks like you, taking their belt, and parading it around like I just stole your girl is my specialty! What do you excel at? Putting together groups that let your competition run rampant for three solid months? Letting outsiders take your territory and claim your lands? Sitting on your hands while your friends get physically whomped until you get a Twitter notification calling for action?”
A raise of the eyebrow before James clears any doubt about Michael Best.
“Please. I expect more from you, Michael. Or actually, I don’t. Make it easy for me. Just come down to the ring ready to fight over some retweets as I’m ready to take the fucking belt out of your hands and bring it home to the ‘Triple One’. Come to Refueled thinking this is just some match with a glorified manager or some dumb shit. Because lord knows that’s the type of idiocy that is floating in the head of yours.”
There’s nothing Perfection would love more than to be overlooked. It allows him to be even more formidable.
“That way it’s quick and painless. I just catch you, roll you, one-two-three, and you ride off into the sunset confused about what the fuck just happened.”
Slow lift of the hand and the presentation of the actual option that is on the table from Perfection.
“Or you put all your talent out there. You put every ounce of energy into this match, you try your goddamn hardest… and I do the same. Which results in me possibly putting you out of commission for a while when I go out of my way to make that display you did to M.J. Flair amateur night!”
Witherhold smiles before removing his feet from the ottoman and sitting up straight.
“In fact, Michael, do it. Try your hardest, bud. That way the world can see what happens when a ‘fighting champion’ bites off more than he can chew. So they can see what happens when ego and thin-skinned attitudes drive poor decision making.”
Perfection now stands up from his chair. The camera rising with him.
“At the end of the day, Mike, I’m going to make this your biggest fucking regret.”