It was Wednesday morning and I had spent most of it in the airport. Refueled 99 would be taking place live from New York City inside the world-famous Madison Square Garden. It just so happened that I would be in the main event of the evening. Teaming with Tyler Aiden Best who would be making his live television debut in an HOW match. Our opponents are ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman who would be teaming with the lowly Xander Azula.
The flight had taken off while I was seated in first class next to Madison who was thumbing through a magazine. A flight attendant came by and asked if I needed anything. It wasn’t long before she came back with a pillow and a shot glass full of whiskey. I leaned back against the pillow and swirled the contents inside the glass a little bit. I had trouble getting comfortable. War Games was right around the corner and this is only my second match after coming back from injury. The first match was against Scottywood to qualify for the War Games match and now because of people being crybabies and getting fired. Scottywood is on the same team as I am.
I am not happy about this. Damn that Simon Sparrow.
But I couldn’t worry about that right now. Sure, Scotty is the same guy that tried to slice my head off with an ice skate. That match was pretty brutal but the sweetest revenge will be when Scotty is the first one eliminated from the match on our team. He can threaten to turn on us all he wants but it’s not like he’s going to be in the cage long enough to do anything. My focus needs to be on this tag team match. I’ve never teamed with Tyler before but I’ve helped him a bit in the Ten-X program. And when I wasn’t personally involved I watched what Mike Best and Dan Ryan were teaching him.
I know Michael wants him to shine in Madison Square Garden. So, there is a certain amount of pressure to make sure I help make that happen.
Good thing we’re not facing stiff competition. Of course, I’ll get some heat for that by saying that because people like to beat to death the fact that Joe Bergman is a former HOW World Champion. So what? So was his buddy Ray McAvay and we all know how that went. Then there is Xander Azula who has a career in HOW comparable to a wet fart. The man is so obsessed with HOFC matches because inside of that rusted cage is the only place he stands a chance of picking up a win. He needs rounds and breaks in between to make himself seem formidable. Five minutes into an actual wrestling match and he’s blown up and looking for a break to have juice and orange slices.
Doesn’t mean I’m going to underestimate them.
A win for them means nothing other than a few bragging rights. The important thing is that Xander made it to War Games for Team Locker room. Along with the fact that Joe Bergman is a bitter man that feels screwed out of his spot in the match. With Clay Byrd knowing his team is outmatched I wouldn’t be surprised if he ordered Joe and Xander to focus more on injuring myself or Tyler instead of getting a win. Then again Clay or the rest of The Highway Men could be lurking somewhere in the building looking to take the situation into their own hands.
My nostril flared as I exhaled a deep breath. I raised the shot glass and took a sip of the liquid inside. I closed my eyes as I felt the slight burn of the whiskey on the way down.
I couldn’t worry about any of that though. I needed to look at this as an opportunity to get some much-needed ring time before flying off to the Ukraine. I know what both Conor and Clay are capable of but the rest of the team? It’s pretty much the who’s who of washed up has-beens and complete garbage. Doesn’t mean that I don’t need to be prepared. If I want to walk out at the HOW World Champion then I need to be able to be ready for the unexpected. I’ve been training my ass off since I qualified but there is nothing like an actual match to measure whether you’re in ring shape or not.
Keeping up with Tyler will be a task within itself but it can also be a good way to form chemistry with a teammate. I just hope he doesn’t call me a Boomer again. Also got to make a mental note to make sure he leaves his cell phone in the dressing room. That way he won’t spend half the match taking selfies.
No, wait, he’s been trained better than that. No need to underestimate the kid just because of his age or hobbies. He’s going to be the last one to come out at War Games. And this week I’m going to make sure he’s victorious in his first televised match.
Joe Bergman and Xander Azula have no idea how much trouble they are in for come Sunday night.
New York City was just like I remembered it. Loud, congested, and with that faint, foul stench of Scottywood in the air. After checking into the hotel, Madison whined non-stop until I agreed to take her out to eat. After getting dressed and hailing down a taxi we were well on our way. We arrived at a place called Provisions Daily in Union Square that Madison just wouldn’t shut up about. We stepped inside and were greeted and led to our seats. Only, we weren’t the only ones at the table. Imagine my surprise when I saw my own seated at the table with a welcoming look in her eyes. I snapped my head side and growled down at Madison.
“What the fuck is going on here? Is this some kind of set up you had planned all along?” I hissed as Madison lowered her head in shame.
“It’s not her fault, when I found out you’d be here in New York I decided to call her and asked to see you both. Please have a seat, we have a lot of catching up to do.” She says while gesturing to the two empty chairs at the table.
Madison quickly raised her head and took one of the seats before I could stop her. I contemplated just leaving them both here but I knew that would be a futile effort. Madison would just bring her back to my hotel room or wherever else I decided to go before the week was over. I exhaled in a frustrated manner before pulling out the chair and taking a seat.
“Isn’t that much better? I heard the food here is delicious and I just feel like this is going to be the best day!” She exclaimed in an excited manner before grabbing her menu.
I rolled my eyes at the words coming out of her mouth before grabbing my menu. Maria Davidson-Brown is a woman who was more of a slave than she was a wife or mother. But yet after all these years here she sits beaming at me like nothing that happened in the past even matters. A waiter came over and took our orders. I ordered alcohol with my food because I knew I would need to be intoxicated to deal with this bullshit. After a while our food arrived at the table, and we all began eating in complete silence. That is until Maria decided to speak up again to break the awkward tension at the table.
“How does it feel to be home again?” Maria inquired while looking over at me.
“My home is in Miami” I replied in a stern tone that made her eyes widen a bit.
“Well, that might be true currently.” Maria composed herself before pushing on. “However, you were born and raised here in New York City.”
She waited for me to respond but I took a big fork full of food and shoved it into my mouth as an excuse not to talk. She decided to turn her attention to Madison briefly.
“And I must say you have an absolutely beautiful girlfriend. I’m glad you were able to find someone you love after that messy divorce from that Tara lady.” She reached out and placed her hand over top of Madison’s.
Madison goes to respond but I swallow the food in my mouth and interrupt her from speaking.
“First off, Madison isn’t my girlfriend at all. She’s just someone I pay to do the meaningless crap that I don’t feel like doing.” I could literally see Madison’s demeanor drop into despair out of the corner of my eye. “Secondly, I have no desire to talk about anything to do with Tara. I suggest you just forget she even existed because that’s what I have done.”
Madison clears her throat and goes back to focusing on her plate as Maria removes her hand.
“So, how have you been doing lately?” Again trying to keep pushing the conversation.
“I’m here, aren’t I? So you tell me.” I say offhandedly.
“I mean as far as your health. I remember seeing you fall off of that cage and Tar… your ex wife landing on you. You protected her but ended up injuring your neck pretty badly.” She said in a concerned tone but I saw through the bullshit. “I would have thought that would be enough to make you retire from this whole wrestling thing and enjoy the rest of your life but yet here you are back getting in the ring again.”
“Oh, you wanted me to remain retired. I’m sure that you would have LOVED that, wouldn’t you?” I could feel the fuse on my temper starting to burn away.
“What is that supposed to mean?” She tried to act defensive at my accusation.
“You know exactly what it means. However, I’m a fucking adult so I can do what I want to do whether you approve of it or not.” I grabbed a hold of my glass and took another drink hoping the booze would numb the annoyance.
“I never had a problem with you being a professional wrestler. I just don’t want you to put your health and well being in danger because of it.” She raised her hand to my mouth and tried to choke back the crocodile tears.
“I’m sorry, I forgot that you didn’t try to stop me from being a wrestler. You just did whatever Dennis told you to do because Lord forbid you think for yourself.” I slammed my glass back onto the table harder than I originally intended to.
“I do have a mind of my own and your father…” She tried to continue but I interrupted her so loudly that people in the restaurant started to stare.
“That man is NOT my father! Don’t you EVER try to refer to that man as anything close to being related to me in any way, shape, form!” I nearly rose out of my seat if not for Madison grabbing a hold of me by the arm.
“Settle down.” Maria said under her breath hoping no one around us could hear. “We can talk about this calmly without making a scene in public.”
“Jace your fathe…” If looks could kill she would have died ten times over in that chair just from the stare I give her before she immediately corrects herself. “Dennis loves you very much. I wish you two could put the past behind you.”
“The past is behind me. I fucking cut him out of my life and went about things more important because he is dead to me. The fact that you could sit there with a straight face and claim that he loves me like you just did literally disgusts me.” I grabbed a hold of my napkin and wiped my lips with it.
“Dennis has his moments but that doesn’t mean he didn’t love you. Do you even believe that I love you?” There she was fishing for some affectionate bullshit.
“Does it matter?” She should know by now I’m stubborn and won’t just roll over to give her what she wants.
“Well I certainly think it should. I am your mother after all.” She added with a little more bass in her voice.
“What is this all about, really? You come here and have Madison trick me into meeting you, for what? So I can sit here and tell you all the lovey dovey shit you want to hear while listening to you talk about your shithead of a husband?” I felt Madison reach down and place her hand on my knee trying to comfort me but I just swatted it away.
“I haven’t heard from you in years! You don’t call, you don’t text, and you definitely don’t visit. So I’m sorry I jumped at the chance to see my own flesh and blood.” The defensive tone had returned.
“You know when you couldn’t have heard or seen me?” I asked as I placed my elbows on the table and rested my head on my hands. “When I was fourteen years old. You know, when I wanted to become a professional wrestler. Then Dennis would beat the shit out of me and tell me that as long as I was under his roof I would do what he told me to do.”
“I tried–” I slammed my fist down on the table which startled her.
“You did absolutely fucking nothing. You know, you fucking knew that Dennis hated me because I wasn’t his child. Not like Bailey. She was his blood and that’s why she got the special treatment and I got beat like a dog.” I begin to ball up my napkin in my hand.
Maria bites down on her bottom lip as I continue.
“If you were so worried about having a relationship with your own flesh and blood as you put it. Then you wouldn’t have just stood there as he kicked me out of the house at fourteen and left me to live on the street. But you chose that asshole over your own son. I would have died out there if not for Uncle Charles.” I literally owed my life to that man.
“Don’t you think I had something to do with that?” She pleaded.
“I don’t want to hear the lies and excuses. If you wanted to help me you would have put Dennis in his place instead of being his submissive little puppet. You let those ties be cut, don’t try to put them back together now.” I pushed my plate out of my way.
Maria remained quiet for a moment or two trying to act like my words didn’t cut deep.
“Fine, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to stop loving you just because you feel that way. Let’s talk about your wrestling career.” She folded her hands together neatly in front of her.
“Why?” I asked simply.
“I saw your last match against that Scott fellow. The one that is also from New York City and it was horrific. He tried to cut you with an ice skate. Why does this wrestling thing always have to be so violent?” She batted her eyes a bit.
“Uhhh, because it’s a combat sport.” I said obviously.
“Yes, I get that but people have died in your company doing this wrestling thing. I don’t know what I would do if you died in a wrestling match.” She placed her hand over her heart and her bottom lip quivered a bit.
I felt my cell phone vibrate in my pocket as Maria was hamming it up. I pulled the phone out and read the text message I had just received. It was from Mike Best pretty much telling me to take care of his kid this week and make sure he shines in the match. Like I didn’t already know that.
“Are you even listening to me?” Maria was getting frustrated that her words weren’t pulling at my heart strings.
“What do you fucking want from me?!” I asked as I returned my cell phone to my pocket.
“I want you to not go to Ukraine and wrestle.” She said plainly with a tone of sorrow.
“Fucking excuse me?” I had trouble believing the words I just heard.
“For that War Games thing. I don’t want you to go to Ukraine or have anything to do with it. It’s far too dangerous of a situation.” She explained.
“Dangerous? I think I’ll be fine. I’ve been in War Games matches many times and I’ve even won one of them so yeah I’m going to back out of this.” I said confidently.
“It’s not about the match, it’s about the location.” Maria said in her most serious tone. “Don’t you know that Ukraine is in the middle of a war? Not some fancy wrestling match by that name but an actual war. Do you even stop to consider the amount of people that have lost their lives over there?” Apparently she kept up with current events, who knew?
“Oh yeah, tragic story, boo hoo and all that. Doesn’t matter to me, once they see me compete inside of that cage both Russia and Ukraine will be fighting over my services. I’m not going to pass up a chance to win the HOW World Championship belt just because Russia is a dickhead.” I crossed my arms and looked over at Madison who has remained quiet this whole time.
“You’re not even taking this seriously! You might get shot to death or blown up by an air strike. Why throw your life away for a silly gold belt?” Maria had an angry snap to her words.
“Simple, that gold belt is my life. Something that you and Dennis tried to keep me from for far too long. If not for that belt and my career? I might as well be dead anyway, that’s how you left me at fourteen anyway.” I rose from my chair but Maria spoke up again.
“Can I at least see you wrestle this weekend before you head off to Ukraine?” Maria asked somberly.
“You want to see me wrestle? Of course, you can… just get the HOTv Network and you can see all my matches. What? You thought I was just going to gift you with tickets?” I said with a chuckle.
“You didn’t even get me a Mother’s Day present!” She fired back.
“Well if I had a mother then I would have.” I reached into my wallet and placed some money on the table for the food.
Maria wiped the tears from her eyes as I turned around and headed towards the exit. Madison reached over and tried to console Maria.
“I know he’s a jackass but please look after him and bring him home safely please.” Maria whispered into Madison’s ear.
Madison nodded then hugged Maria tightly before getting up to catch up with me as the scene fades.
We open inside the parking lot of the Madison Square Garden arena. It’s midday and the parking lot is mostly empty. The camera focuses on the front of the building in all of its majesty before panning down slowly. The view centers on HOW Hall of Famer Jace Parker Davidson standing in the parking lot admiring the arena. Jace nods his head slightly before turning towards the camera.
“Madison Square Garden. The Mecca of arenas in this country and famous throughout the world. Every wrestler or future superstar dreams of being in the spotlight, in the main event of a match here in this building. Put on a show in this building? And you’ll forever have that moment go down in the history books. Just so happens yours truly is in the main event inside this building for Refueled 99.”
A smirk spreads across my face before I continue.
“This won’t be the first time I’ve main evented inside of the Garden and hopefully it’s not the last. However, for the man known as Tyler Aiden Best? It’s not only his first televised HOW match, not only his first main event, but also his first time he gets to close the show in Madison Square Garden. It’s a story fit for the silver screen, and it will be a pleasure to share this moment with the future of HOW.”
I bow my head a bit in acknowledgement of the Grandson of God.
“As for our opponents? We can thank the two of us for even making it to this level on the last show before War Games. I can’t speak for Tyler but I accept cash payments for the gracious privilege that we have bestowed upon you. Let’s face it, when you think of main event talent. When you think of guys worthy enough to main event Madison Square Garden. Joe Bergman and Xander Azula aren’t the names that pop into your heads. And I know what you’re thinking, but Joe Bergman is a two time former HOW World Champion!”
I roll my eyes as hard as I can.
“Sure but then again so is Brian Hollywood, so what’s your point? Hell, even Scott Stevens and Scottywood have managed to hold the title. If you can’t hold onto the belt for more than sixty days then please shut the fuck up. All these low class wrestlers like to chirp about holding the title in the past like it makes them relevant. But if you look behind the curtain you’ll realize these forgotten few only held the title in the darkest times of HOW. Like literally everyone had to dip out from Mike Best, to Farthington, Townsend, Max, and yours truly before they got to let that gold plate hang over their pink little man panties. Joe Bergman is no different in this aspect.”
I pause for a moment and hold up my hand towards the camera.
“Actually, Joe Bergman was NEVER HOW World Champion. It was Halitosis that was a two-time Champion. The man had to put on a mask and make his breath smell like Kirsta Lewis’ vagina on one of those not so fresh feeling days. Man had to use breath kicking harder than Bruce Lee to accomplish anything in his career. But like I said when your title reigns involve beating Brian Hollywood and then a John Sektor who was halfway out the door then maybe you need to go back to your corner and wait to be called upon. Yet this man thinks all of that qualifies him to go on and take the next three weeks to train Xander Azula so that he’s prepared for War Games.”
I double over with laughter for a moment before regaining my composure.
“The best part is that he thinks that he can get this mission accomplished alongside Harrison, Solex and Byrd inside of a goddamn barn. Not inside a proper training facility, or at least a random gym with a ring inside. No, a fucking barn in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. I know Bergman and his friends are fucking hillbillies but come on! Xander is a valley boi cosplaying as a spooky boi and you’re going to lock him in a barn and do what? Baling some hay? Cleaning up after the farm animals and Clay Byrd? The whole thing reeks of desperation. Like three weeks’ time is enough to turn Xander into a credible athlete. But anything to help The Highway Men, right? Anything to help The Boys because you already know they are in a lot of fucking trouble. Yet Xander’s pathetic ass is going to take you up on the offer because as Farthington would say, he’s infected with the bad brain. He’s going to let a man that couldn’t even qualify for War Games train him for that exact same match. Yeah, totally makes sense guys, good job.”
I sarcastically give a thumbs up to the camera.
“And don’t get me started on that qualifying match against Christopher America. The one where Joe Bergman tried to turn into a political campaign. Yeah, stroke of genius there. Let’s campaign with the people of section 214 and sing songs. Let’s make shitty commercials and march in the streets because we’re fighting the machine! Fucking nonsense. All this talk about fighting the good fight, please. All that got you was your ass whooped in the middle of the ring, But oh poor me, Christopher America gave me a low blow. The Board are meanies and cheaters! Yet what do you do? You came falling from the ceiling like Batman from Wish and you attacked a defenseless referee because you felt slighted. If this is what you call the Good Fight then your whole group is fucking delusional. You don’t like The Board or Lee Best? Then don’t cash his checks, don’t accept the title shots he graciously hands out to you crybabies. Don’t even remain in the goddamn company. Go venture out into Fisher Price land and see how far you get. Go join MVW and pretend like anyone with an ounce of talent on the HOW gives a flying fuck. And if that doesn’t work? You can always give Lindsey Troy a foot rub and a box of chocolates to see if she’ll take mercy on your poor souls.”
I rub my right hand down over my chin.
“You’re lucky we don’t fine you for what you did to Rick Stevens and suspend you indefinitely. No, what we do is reward you with a main event match in the most famous arena in America. Ohhhh we’re soo fucking evil let me tell ya. No one is screwing you over, no one is holding you back. The reason you didn’t make War Games? The reason you’re going to lose again this week. It’s because you’re just fucking Ordinary. Christopher America is an elite competitor and the greatest War Games winner of all time. It would take more than Ordinary to beat him even on his worst day. Tyler and I? We’re also elite athletes but obviously you’ll try to twist the narrative and whine that Tyler didn’t earn his way into War Games like everyone else. Tyler gets favorable treatment because of his last name.”
I literally spit onto the pavement to get the taste of those words out of my mouth.
“Maybe if you paid attention to his dark matches. Maybe if you paid attention to the training that he’s gone through then you’d understand. He’s got Best blood flowing through his veins. He’s being trained by Mike Best, Farthington, Dan Ryan, and Lindsey Troy. And when one of them isn’t taking him to task then he’s learning from guys like Christopher America and myself. All names that carry weight in this business. If you think the Tyler in FIGHTNYC was an accurate gauge of his talents then you’re in for a fucking surprise. There will be no scripted matches with hardly any wrestling at all. There will be no baby oiled escapes from a man that had twelve too many $5 footlongs before his match and considers himself a Comedian. No, after Sunday night there will no longer be any sleeping on Tyler Aiden Best. You’ll see up close and personal why he’s not only a part of our team at War Games but also why he was selected to come out last.”
I clap my hands together before rubbing them up and down.
“So spend all your time in your broken down barn. Do whatever you can do to turn Mr. HOFC wannabe into a man that can execute a proper wristlock. It isn’t going to happen. You got better chances of Arthur Pleasant sticking around past a War Games PPV cycle. Xander is just a warm body for you to play with before he gets absolutely dismantled at War Games. You’re playing with a lamb in the barn just to lead him into the ring inside of this building with two hungry lions. Fill his head with all your so-called knowledge. Whisper those sweet nothings into his ear so he feels good about himself. We want him to believe in himself before Tyler knee’s his head all the way up to the rafters. You worry about a small section of people in a random arena on a weekly basis while we have a whole worldwide audience that pays their money to see us do what we do best.”
I slide my hands down into my pockets.
“Enjoy these fifteen minutes of fame come Sunday night. Cause when it’s all said and done you’ll have to accept your places back at the bottom of the food chain here in High Octane Wrestling.”
I turn and take one last look at the Madison Square Garden arena as the scene fades to black.