For nearly 12 years, I have bled 97Red.
That’s a long fucking time. That’s as long as I was ever in school. It’s realistically most of my adult life. For everything I ever accomplished floating around the indies, I was only ever there for about five years in total— I broke into wrestling barely out of high school, and HOW is most of what I’ve ever known of pro wrestling. So before this thing goes full HOFC and we put our dicks on the table to take our little shots and throw out little barbs, I guess the first thing I want to say to you, Dad, is… well… thank you.
Thank you for giving us this playground to play in.
Thank you for keeping this ship alive by any means necessary, through health problems and financial troubles and family feuds. Thank you for making HOWrestling.com so much more than just a domain on the fucking internet. Thank you for radio shows, and thankless long nights, and endless phone calls and texts and wellness checks. Thank you for putting up with an infinite line of whiners and drama and bullshit, just so that none of us had to get real jobs and deal with the real world. Thank you for the single greatest wrestling company on the planet, one which I am proud to call my own, and whose Hall of Fame I hold more dearly than I hold almost anything else in my life.
Thank you, Dad.
HOW got me through a trash marriage. Through a thousand failed relationships and hard times. It got me through a global pandemic and the sickest two weeks of my fucking life, when the entire future started to look bleak. Lee Best has taken care of me when I was down, and I’ve taken care of him when he was down, too. It has built me friendships that will last a lifetime, and created enemies that will never fade. This company has meant everything to me, and for good reason.
Because this company IS everything.
The first time that I ever slid the HOW World Championship over my shoulder and snapped a selfie, it hit me like a ton of bricks how much that belt means to the world of pro wrestling. How much it means to win it. How much it means to chase it. How much it means to call yourself the champion. And why do you think that is? Any fly-by-night company can slap gold plates on a piece of leather, so how is it that Big Red hits so different? How can it mean so much more than anything else in this business?
Lee Motherfucker Best. That’s how.
A Hall of Fame that means something. A World Title that means something. Rankings that mean something, radio that means something. Hard work, blood, sweat, and tears that fucking MEAN SOMETHING. They used to call us a cult, and you know what? Fuck it, they’re right. HOW is a goddamned cult, and the Kool-Aid I drink out of Duck’s cupboard ever week is #97GoddamnedRed. This is the Cult of HOW, Lee Best is it’s wild-eyed leader, and I have been a proud soldier, son, and guard dog now for over a fucking decade. Best twelve years of my life, for better for worse.
But that’s not why we’re here, is it?
The HOFC Division might be on life support, but no one clicked this link to watch me pull the plug. They want to see us air our dirty laundry in public, and we’re gonna give it to them, aren’t we? Teach them how it’s done, since the HOW collective seems to think that HOFC is just blatantly tearing through the fourth wall and cutting the same fucking promo every week. See, they weren’t here when Rob Michaels invented it. They weren’t here when America and I brought it into the main event. They weren’t here when Scottywood took it and ran with it, and they weren’t here when I fucking perfected it.
They’re just a bunch of tourists.
A bunch of wannabes who think all I do is write blogs and break down walls, so they stole them both and massacred my passion project like monkeys trying to paint the fucking Mona Lisa. You’re drawing stick figures, you fucking chimps, so get the fuck out of my museum. You’re bashing pots and pans together and telling everyone it’s a platinum album. What I do is art, and what you do is just fucking noise. The HOFC Division was created to showcase real fighters having real fights, talking shit and beating the fuck out of eachother. What has it become now? Advertisements for Reese Mart and Wrabbit Wrestlers. A big fucking joke, because no one had to balls to put their reputations on the line and get into the cage themselves. A bunch of douchebags challenging me at my own game without knowing the rules of engagement. It’s fucking sad, man– I’m the champion of a division that can’t support itself, and every day that crown starts to lay a little heavier upon my head.
A golden throne in a crumbling castle.
Let’s call a spade a spade– at Bottomline, I’m going to punch my father in the face and knock him out. There’s a reason it’s the opener, people. He’s my father and I love him dearly, but he’s also a blind old cancer survivor with no formal wrestling training. I’m the greatest fighter alive, and I’m fighting a man who has legally been a vegetable, twice. I’m the man who knocked out Kostoff with a single knee– the same Kostoff who TOOK HIS EYES. Lee Best is a POTATO WITHOUT EYES, and he is obviously going to get starched at Bottomline.
That’s a good joke. I don’t care if you don’t get it.
On paper, this isn’t a match, it’s a felony– another softball from dear old Dad, confirming to everyone in HOW that he has handed me everything since the day I walked into this company a dozen years ago. Maybe he’ll even be a good sport and take the knee, right? This was never supposed to be about the match, it was supposed to be about the venom laced promos, and truth be told… I don’t have a lot of venom for the old man these days. Haven’t forgot a long time.
Like I said, he built this house and he made it my home.
I am thirty five years old, and for this entire last run in HOW, I have been on autopilot. Cruised into OCW on autopilot and won a bunch of belts, got into a Hall of Fame. Came home bored and switched from autopilot to cruise control— won two ICON Titles, went undefeated for over a year, set all the World Title records, and then left it all behind. Jump started HOFC, won the tournament, held the title with an iron fist. And sorry to bury the whole roster, but I barely even tried. I was a bad guy who refused to do bad guy shit.
No being a coward.
Just a champion doing champion shit, because none of you were on my level and didn’t know how to put me over. I had to be dominant and act dominant, because none of you would acknowledge it for yourselves. Nothing but excuses and tough guy rants about how I was afraid of you. Motherfuckers, I haven’t been nervous about a match result since the day we reopened the doors.
That’s not even me being cocky. It’s just the truth. I am so much better than everyone on this roster that even Lee doesn’t pretend I’m not the GOAT anymore. I coasted for a year on an undefeated record, and I lost to Jiles because I cared more about the HOFC Title than I did about trying to come up with new ideas for boredom fueled death matches. I was the greatest, I’m still the greatest, and what the fuck do you do when you’ve done everything else? You do the one thing that’s left.
You fight an old man in a cage.
At Bottomline, Lee Best and I will make the name of that show truer than it has ever been before. A Bottomline match. A match that shouldn’t be that exciting once the bell rings, and yet I promise that you don’t want to miss it. A match that might be over in ten seconds, but will change High Octane Wrestling literally forever. We didn’t promote it because we didn’t have to. I won’t overhype it here either, because I don’t have to. And I won’t waste everyone’s time with a bunch of trash talk that I don’t mean, either, because I don’t fucking have to. I have been with Lee Best through thick and thin, through Utahs and late night arguments and a whole lot of “if you don’t like it, quits”. I have been here for the good times and the bad times, and we have always said that when it was time to burn everything to the ground, the final match would be Mike versus Lee in a steel fucking cage.
Thanks for everything, Dad– now let’s get our pens ready.
Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.