There’s a joke amongst the boys in the back that after a bitter loss, well, I say that like there’s such a thing as a joyous or delightful loss, that the boss’ office will be a backstage sell-out after show night.
They call it the twenty four hour rule.
It’s wise advice, that soul crushing disappointment you feel staring up at the ceiling as you hear the referee count to three, it’ll make you go through waves. Anguish, anger, rage, maximum pettiness. There’s always a little hint of anger in those first few hours that you haven’t yet allowed your body to process.
So take twenty four, calm your soul, however you deem fit. Don’t line up at the bosses office demanding you get out of your new contract. You might even start seeing some silver lining, the potential for new adventures, new enemies, new friends.
We all get caught up in our feelings at one time or another, even if we are in the middle of giving our wife an unspecified massage.
I’ve always been a big proponent of the rule, sometimes no matter how many angles you’ve planned for, training bouts you’ve undertaken, scouting tapes that you’ve viewed, on the day, someone is just your better. You can think you trained better, promo-ed better, hyped better but the referee’s decision is uncaring towards those feelings.
I could sit here and be a hypocrite, I could happily sit here and say that Conor Fuse’s win was unearned, undeserved… HOW’s big hero boy got to the finals of the ICONIC Tournament with a pair of brass knucks and a bunch of outside interference. I’d certainly question whether such things were the actions of a hero but no holes I pick, no objections I scream are going to change the very clear reality.
Conor Fuse beat me.
He pinned me, the referee counted three. He was victorious. The match was No DQ, nothing done was underhanded in the confines of the contest. Conor did something few men have since 2019, he well and truly defeated me. No asterisk, no Wikipedia notes, no dubious record keeping.
It was in that moment that I went back to the very question I asked right before our big show in London.
Why are we here? What is that motivating factor that drives us forward? What pulls at us to be better than our best, to pull out a victory from the jaws of defeat?
I thought I knew my answer – I wanted to beat Mike Best. I wanted to return to HOW and beat Mike Best, just to put a capper on everything that I’d achieved this run. Yet, when I viewed back the footage of our opening contest last night, as I saw a dead eyed special boy repeatedly boot his best friend in the face over and over again, blood gushing from his face, I just felt hollow.
There was no warm glow of victory, no sense of superiority.
Just the concern of a damaged friendship over a stupid sense of competition.
Michael Oliver Best gave me exactly what I wanted and it turns out, I didn’t want it. Like a kid at an ice cream bar, my eyes were bigger than my stomach.
I’m a fucking idiot, I’ll admit that. In my heart of hearts I felt that if I finally beat Mike, I might be viewed in the same light with HOW’s top names. The people that get mentioned wistfully on radio shows, the people who build hype by dipping their toe back into the pool. Instead, I just feel empty.
I don’t know why I wanted the fucking thing in the first place, I always knew how it would go, it’s how it always goes. Regardless of pinky promises, safety nets, agreed rules of engagement or whatever else, the ultimate conclusion is still that everyone and everything gets fucked. There’s a reason I resisted it for YEARS.
So if not Mike, if not defeating the undefeatable, if that isn’t my driver? What is?
I came back for the HOFC, tried to lay a claim to Mike Best’s title, backed it up in the cage, went undefeated, and finished fights in seconds…
No one gave a shit.
I ruined a main event between JPD and Sutler Kael. All I got was a passive aggressive magical contract that I didn’t want to sign and petty sniping.
I broke a man’s arm to claim a spot at the ICONIC main event and people went “ho-hum”.
I’m never going to be a legendary figure, it wouldn’t matter if I won the World Title again.
I used to convince myself that it was fear, that people were scared to engage with me, that while people knew exactly what to expect entering into a war of words with Mike, fighting a Farthington in battle was a much more terrifying prospect.
The truth was always more simple:
No one cared.
I held every belt available in this company at one point and everyone who wanted to fight me was still going “haha, you speak funny and have a funny name”. I murdered a man in a toilet and the next fucking opponent spent more time mocking my accent than being concerned for their wellbeing.
No one cared, no one cares.
I wasn’t a convict, mad genius, twisted soul, video game imp or anything in between. I was a wrestler, I wrestled. I came from a wealthy family but that by itself is nothing more than an interesting anecdote than anything else.
So if no one cares, you do it for yourself, right? You do it to prove your own worth to yourself. It doesn’t matter what the naysayers think if you’ve got the record to back it up. Problem is, I hit that point in 2019.
I came back because, in my head, I thought I mattered. I came back to remind people that I mattered. Turns out the only thing people ever cared about was waiting for me to lose.
When I saw JJR run down to the ring with the fucking clown car that followed, I realised that it’s no longer my time. Michael Oliver Best has new stars, he has new fights, new feuds, new legacies to create. A deep talent pool that all deserve to have their chance to shine.
Lee Best wanted to hand me an LSD Championship match at Rumble at the Rock this year, I insisted that it go to a talent who shows up day in and day out. Jatt and Sektor proved me right in that call. HOW doesn’t need me getting in the way. I don’t want to be another HOW Hall of Famer clogging up the pipes for the new guys as I try to have my fifteenth “final” run. I don’t want to be that guy that the new kids start pointing to and whispering “I thought he was meant to be good”, with the ever hurtful reply “he used to be”.
Or the even worse “was he ever good?”
I am happy with my achievements, I value them greatly, even if no one else does.
This era of HOW gave me my first and only ever World Title in my career. It gave me my first and only ever Hall of Fame spot. I’m never going to manage that again, it’s an absurd notion to pretend otherwise.
I got to run roughshod over the company for over a year with my best friends, through two War Games even. Not many people can claim that, people are always seeking new challenges and often they look internally to their circle. Until today, I avoided that and I was a better man for it.
I didn’t realise until Joel Hortega slapped that mat for the third time that whatever it was I thought I was still chasing, I didn’t need it, I already had it.
I think it’s finally time to embrace the life set out for me by my father. He took great care to set up my future and I decided to destroy myself rather than take the easy option.
The feeling I felt coming back through the curtain after my match with Mike tells me that now is the time for the proverbial “Easy Street”. I won’t be a PRIME athlete, I won’t be Defiant, I certainly fucking won’t be Classic.
I’ll just be gone.
For anyone who has paid attention to my matches over the last couple of months, which in this case is fucking no one, my days in the ring have been very much numbered. Every day I tried to train and push through was a day in living hell. It’s time for me to listen to the message my bones have been screaming for the last six months.
I’m not going out as a pillar of salt.
No paying someone to dress like Colonel Sanders and shoot me in the head for an HOTV skit. No shitting in a paper bag, setting it on fire and ringing Uncle Olly’s doorbell. No sass, no fights, no arguments, no wars. Only me, honouring my word to myself.
Lee Best is a great man, his brother seems to know how to follow his example. This company is in good hands.
As for me?
Time to fade away, to be forgotten about in twenty four little hours.
I ruined my fucking body for the ring that rests on my finger right now.
I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Lord Cecilworth Farthington