American Soul

American Soul

Posted on May 25, 2021 at 8:06 pm by Ray McAvay

January 2015. 

Tara Michaels Davidson had just wrested the HOW World title away from Mike Best at ICONIC.  Project EGO (Tara, Mike, and Jace Parker Davidson).  John Sektor and-

*SFX- the sound of a needle being yanked off a record*

All right.  Before we go any further, let’s just get this over with once and for all.

Jace Parker Davidson.  Are you watching?

You are?

Good.   Roll tape…

High Octane Wrestling – June 14th, 2016 / War Games
Team Best vs. Team 4CW vs. Team Stevens vs. Team HOW Hall of Fame
[…The cameras capture 4CW owner Perry Wallace sitting back down in complete and utter shock of what he is seeing. He absent mindedly reaches into his pocket and lights up a half smoked joint he was saving and can only watch with everyone else as it unfolds.

The man is a bloody mess as all but one EPU agent exit the ring. The man is lying prone in the center of the ring on his back as the EPU agent kneels next to him and lifts his head up. It is then…and only then does he take off his helmet to reveal himself to the man.  The other man in the match is literally dragged over to the center of the ring and placed on top of the EPU beaten man and Boettcher has no choice but to make the pinfall count.




The EPU agent…with helmet off…takes his place next to Lee and they both smile as they watch Matt Boettcher award the World Championship while the beaten man lies there in a puddle of his own blood.

The Beaten Man? Jace Parker Davidson

The EPU Agent? Jason Cashe


War Games comes to a close with a final shot of Ray McAvay holding the World Title…]

There you go.




We’re done here.

Turn out the lights, your delusional party’s over.

If you continue to have issues with the way War Games 2016 ended and still maintain that you were ‘screwed over’, my advice to you is this- go air your Festivus of Grievances to Lee Best.

But before you go do that, know this- up to now you’ve gotten off easy.

Real easy.

I know, I know.  Yes, you ate a pin to Darin Zion, the one-man team in a three on one handicap match against the Best Alliance when Jiles and Solex left you hanging.  Yeah, Lee Best may have come out that night and said some mean things to you after the match.  Yeah, I came out at Refueled LXIV and totally set fire to and blew up your ridiculously false narrative that I somehow screwed you out of the win at War Games 2016.

You’re thinking to yourself, ‘that’s it’, ‘I’m home free’, and that no other consequences are going to result from you trying to set me on fire.

Jace, you could not be any more wrong.  You see, I still haven’t forgotten what you tried to do.

Oh, I know.  I’ve heard your protests.

“Oh come on…this is HOW we’re talking about.  We’ve spiked babies.  We’ve gouged people’s eyeballs out with ball point pens.  Besty the Cow.  Michael Oliver Best’s rather unfortunate demise.  The Embosser.  Christ-Plow.  Nickelback.” 

Check that.  What happened to Nickelback was okay.

“The best part of waking up is Graystone in your cup.  And so on… and so on…”

Got it.  Anyone who’s remotely familiar with HOW knows that there’s been some, how you say- unfortunate incidents, that’s taken place in HOW over the years.

“But it happened in old school HOW.”

Yeah, yeah.  Let’s look at the people who’s trying to represent the ‘old school’ HOW these days.

Jatt Starr and John Sektor.

Oh sure. Jatt and Sektor are old school and I mean real old school- as in ‘Old School’- the Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson movie about a bunch of depressed guys in their thirties trying to relive their college days by doing stuff people would do if they were still in college.  Except Jatt and Sektor are even older so it comes off more pathetic and… well… um creepy.  While Jatt does try to look semi-normal in donning the polo shirt and all, Sektor’s become the guy in high school voted ‘Most Likely to Show Up in a Dateline NBC Catch the Predator’ segment.

The fact that these two have managed to ‘reclaim’ the World Tag Team title they LOST to Lindsay Troy and Teddy Palmer, then ‘regained’ by Cancer Jiles and Steve Harrison in a match against Ray McAvay and Conor Fuse in a ‘title match’ governed by the ‘Freebird Rule’ is just so ‘old school.’

Except I’m not sure what your definition of ‘old school’ is, but I know this much: Jatt and Sektor lost to LT and Teddy in the ring where wrestlers compete for titles against champions who defend their titles.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: To be the man, you have to beat the man. Or more succinctly, you don’t become champions until you actually defeat the champions.

I simply laughed out loud when I watched Jatt and Starr parade around with their ‘newly won’ title belts.  Old school indeed.  Jatt.  John.  LT and Teddy are true champions.  You two are just a couple guys walking around showing off your fancy shiny belts… and who knows what else.

And then Jace.

Jace, there’s nothing ‘old school’ about what happened in Los Angeles.

First off, it’s one thing to resort to a physical confrontation. That’s all part of the wrestling gig.

It’s another thing to deliberately try to hurt me.  Again, that’s part of the wrestling gig- a distasteful one in my view but it’s still part of the game.

But to try to set me on fire, potentially affecting not only my career but my life?  No.  That’s not acceptable.

Jace.  You fucked up big time and at War Games, you’re going to pay the price. You’ve crossed a line and that comes with consequences.

As I’ve told you before, I’m not a super-uber-babyface like my good friend Joe Bergman is.  Nope.  Eye There’s no absolution for your sin.  There’s no way in hell I’m going to let this slide.  You hit me.  I hit you right back.  You try to set me on fire.  I go to War Games with one job and one job only- to make sure your time in the match is a living hell.

The ‘feud’ you started is no longer about Jace trying to get back at Ray McAvay over something that didn’t happen in 2016.

This feud is NOW about Ray McAvay avenging a monumentally stupid act committed by Jace Parker Davidson in 2021.

You will get your receipt for what happened in Los Angeles by me kicking your ass all over the ring in the Tokyo Dome- AND more importantly- helping Grapplers Local 214 defeat the Best Alliance at War Games.

Now, back to regularly scheduled programming…


January 2015. 

Tara Michaels Davidson had just wrested the HOW World title away from Mike Best at ICONIC.  Project EGO (Tara, Mike, and Jace Parker Davidson).  John Sektor and Scott Stevens were tag team champions.  Mike and Sektor became Hall of Famers.  Sex and Money- Darin Zion, Noah Hanson, and Brian Hollywood was a thing.  David Black was still around. 

Into pro wrestling’s wildest three-ring circus walks some guy named Ray McAvay with a weird golf gimmick and former LSD champion Dawn McGill as a manager.  I go from a goof into a brief feud with Austin Reeves that cost me the services of Dawn to becoming the LSD Champion four months later when I finished third and helped Team JPD win War Games 2015.

After losing the LSD title nearly a month later, I kind of float from show to show, pay per view to pay per view for the rest of the year.  I was married to Dawn McGill now. She was pregnant.  Got a couple shots at winning the LSD back, didn’t work out.  Thought seriously about leaving HOW at the end of 2015. 

By January of 2016, HOW was on the ropes.  Talent defections didn’t help.  My father had passed a few weeks back, my career had stalled, and I needed a new direction.  I’d always been big on interacting with the fans and cultivating my fan base so one day I had this idea to buy an entire section full of seats and give them away.  Then I drove around Chicago with Dawn McGill and handed them out to people at factories, restaurants, small businesses, bars, any place we could give them away and filled up the section with people who don’t usually get to sit in the fancy, high priced seats close to the action.

Thus, the beginning of the Les Misérables. 

With the Les Misérables behind me, I won the ICON title.  Got attacked by the Best Alliance after losing the ICON title to Darin Zion which set off a near riot inside the Best Arena by the Les Misérables.  Won back the ICON from Darin a couple weeks later.  Went to war against Brian Hollywood with the Les Misérables and then War Games 2016 came along and I won the world title with Team Scott Stevens.  But then for some inexplicable reason that to this day I STILL don’t understand, Stevens turned on me at the next show and handed the belt right back to Brian Hollywood.  

After Hollywood defeated Darin Zion to consolidate all the titles with him, HOW shut down in July 2016 and that was all.  That is, until I received a phone call that HOW was starting back up again in March of 2019 and asked if I would be interested in coming back.

I thought about it for a couple days and ultimately decided to decline the offer.  I knew realistically my in-ring career was coming to a close and I thought my story had been written and there was nothing more to write.  I’d started at the bottom.  Working my way up the ladder.  Won the LSD, ICON, and World title, and War Games.  I believed there was no way I could ever top the story I’d written with HOW.  So Dawn McGill and I recommended Halitosis/Joe Bergman to Lee Best.  Lee took him on thinking he’d be perfect in the comedy midcard role in a HOW roster that was stacked to the ceiling with quality wrestlers.  So of course, Mr. Comedy Midcard Guy manages to shock Lee and everyone else on the planet by winning the HOW World Title tournament, beating my old nemesis Brian Hollywood to become the first World Champion of the Refueled Era.   

Halitosis/Joe Bergman become the first pure babyface wrestler in HOW since Evan Ward and gained a lot of popularity.  He built on to what I had done before with fan interaction, added a few touches of his own, and soon developed a rabid group of followers in one of the upper sections of the Best Arena. 

Thus, the beginning of Section 214.

Out of the Section 214 movement, Joe and Steve Solex formed an ill-fated tag team called PBR – ill-fated because they only competed once as a team, a win over Cancer Jiles and Bobby Dean.  The Lethal Lottery came around and threw Joe together with Andy Murray to challenge 24K for the tag teams and much to everyone’s surprise- they won.  They would go to War Games 2020 as the tag champions but the week of the show, Joe called and told me he was not ‘feeling well.’  He’d seen a doctor before heading to France but didn’t hear anything back so he boarded the flight and left.  Not fifteen minutes after he’d returned to the States without the tag title, he received a phone call and shortly thereafter had major heart surgery.  After an ill-advised comeback at ICONIC where with the help of Section 214, Bergman defeated Solex, Joe retired for good.  A couple months later, Lindsay Troy came calling to Joe with an idea to continue 214 on as an entity and he readily gave his blessing.

Thus, the beginning of Grappler’s Local 214.

Joe confirmed to Lindsay that returning to wrestling was 100% out of the question.  But.  He did give her the name of someone he thought might be interested in doing this one more timed- a former HOW World champion and War Games winner no less.  Lindsay called me out of the blue.  We talked.  She put forth the offer and…

Ray McAvay returned to HOW. 


Thursday May 13th
Fort Stockton, Texas

Sunrise in West Texas.

For Ray McAvay it was home sweet home.

A Chevron gas station with the noise of the traffic coming from the nearby Interstate nearby clearly audible.  Across the street, red lights from a line of cars waiting in the McDonald’s drive-thru as the orange-ish sun peeks up in the horizon between the restaurant and a Fairfield Inn right next to it.

A 2012 Chevy pickup truck rumbles past the gas station down the main drag, four lanes of light traffic, heading towards the center of town- Fort Stockton, Texas to be exact.  The truck has a large Lone Star sticker in the back window.  It also has quite a few miles on it and with that there’s a slight hole from wear and tear in the muffler which makes the truck sound louder than it should.

Because of the additional engine sound combined with both the driver and passenger side windows being down, the volume of the SONY XAV-AX1000 6.2-inch digital media receiver with carplay and Bluetooth inside the truck is turned way up.  The sound of Texas Country artist Aaron Watson’s ‘American Soul’ song pulses through the speakers- shoved into several rudimentary holes cut into the truck’s interior- like a giant boom box on wheels kicking out a jam.

“All the old men at the diner, telling tales too tall to tell
They’re bragging about the good ol’ days and how this country has gone to hell”

On the outskirts of town, there’s the famous- or infamous- Mullet John’s Strip Club and Beer, Bait, and Ammo Store.  Owned by McAvay’s wife Stacee Perry aka Dark of ‘Dark and Stormy- West Texas Adult Entertainment Legends’ who often accompanied McAvay to his matches, the club was a source of many a misadventure for McAvay and his friends before, and after, he joined HOW in January 2015.

“But as for me, I believe we got a heartland full of hope
We’re coming back abound ’cause you can’t hold down the American soul”

The place is fixed up real nice these days with a fresh paint job on the exterior, a brand spanking new digital sign on the front of the main building, and a smaller digital sign on the convenience store side.

It’s the joy of grandma laughing at grandpa’s funny jokes
It’s the rumble of those old baseball cards flapping between the spokes”

Now traveling inside the city limits, the truck passes by Cowboy Liquor on one side, The Steak House on the other, coming up on a Dollar General store (because they’re everywhere) at the light at North Oklahoma Street.  Panning around the area, the city is set up like most are in the Southwest.  Spread out.  Wide open.  Not a lot of tall buildings.  Some trees.  Lot of brush and sand.  The occasional tumbleweed.

“It’s a Fourth of July picnic, it’s Farm Aid and rock ‘n roll
From town to town, you can hear the sound of the American soul”

Turning right onto N. Jackson Street. US 385 South.  Soon there’s another intersection.  US 385 veers south.  Texas 194 goes straight.  The truck stays on Texas 194 and continues down Jackson.

“Oh say can you see, the flag that you wave
Freedom ain’t free, in the home of the brave”

The road now becomes Old Alpine Road and we are now just southwest of town now.  In the distance is the driving range that Ray owns.  In the front of the yard there’s a sign that reads: Texas Jack’s Golf Driving Range.  The motorhome where McAvay spent a couple years living in has long since gone and the parking lot has been improved and the buildings and the range have been spruced up considerably.

“It’s the root in the boots, from the hard hat to the steel toe
It’s the hustle and muscle, blood, sweat and tears that build the backbone…”

The truck pulls into the parking lot and parks.

“…of the American Soul.”

Engine turns off and the driver’s side door opens.  Ray McAvay exits the truck and walks over to a picnic table under the sole tree on the property where two men wait- Gary and Dave.  Between McAvay’s full time gig owning and running Missouri Valley Wrestling, the visits back to Fort Stockton had been few and far between over the past couple years.

With a wide smile on his face, Ray greets his friends with the expectation that they would be eager to hear all about his latest exploits in High Octane Wrestling…

…he was in for a bit of a surprise.

Gary: Are you fucking insane?

Gary is the official groundskeeper and ball picker upper at the driving range.  He’s sitting on top of the picnic table with his arms folded in a disapproving manner.

Dave: Yeah.  What he said.  Are you going through some middle age crisis thing or what?

Dave was McAvay’s former wrestling manager back in 2015 who now manages the driving range for him.  He’s seated next to Gary with Ray standing up in front of both.  He too has his arms folded.

Awkward smile by Ray.  This was not what he expected.

Ray McAvay: Well gee thanks guys, that’s the validation I was looking for.  I knew there was a good reason I stopped into Fort Stockton to visit you guys.

Gary: You’re forty-one years old.  You hadn’t wrestled in over two years.  You have no business getting back into the ring now.

McAvay raises his hand to make a cogent point.

Ray McAvay: Hey, I actually pinned someone in the first match.

Dave: Sure.  Then Jace Parker Davidson kicked your ass later that night.

Gary: And on the next show too.

Dave: And on the next show.

Gary: He totally kicked your ass on the next show.

Dave: Yep, he did.

Ray’s head swivels back and forth between the two men.  He finally jumps back in.

Ray McAvay: Okay okay okay.  I did exact some retribution on the man.

Gary points to the bandages on Ray’s arm and a small one on his leg.

Gary: Yeah.  Then he set you on fire.

Ray McAvay: The burns were minor.

Dave: The man set you on fire, Ray.

Again Ray tries to interject himself back into the conversation.

Ray McAvay: Look, I don’t expect you guys to understand.  It’s something I have to do.

Gary: You’re going to get hurt.

Ray McAvay: I… I-

Dave: Why now?  You’ve got a good life.  You’ve got a good wife.  You’ve got kids.   You’ve got Missouri Valley Wrestling cooking on all cylinders.  Why mess all that up?

Ray McAvay: It’s hard to explain.

Gary: What is so important to you that you’ve got to drop everything and go back to HOW again?

Ray McAvay: Again, it’s hard to explain.


Tuesday May 18th, 2021
In Flight from Dallas, Texas to Tokyo, Japan
Somewhere over Alaska.

Flying over the very top of Alaska, hundreds of miles above the Arctic circle with the lights on the plane dimmed so passengers can sleep if desired, I recline back in the chair and try closing my eyes to shut my mind down.  If I can stop dwelling on Gary and Dave’s unexpectantly hostile reaction to my HOW return that keep flashing through my mind and making it next to impossible to get a little sleep, perhaps I can get a couple hours shut-eye before we land in Tokyo.

To my right, in the window seat, is Joe Bergman.  Bergman’s asleep, head against a pillow with a blanket pulled up to chest level.  His head lies against the side of the interior wall of the plane behind the window.

Behind me is Rah.  The Sunshine God eschewed his usual royal attire for a simple pair of shorts, t-shirt, and tennis shoes for the twelve-hour trans-continental flight.   The golden blindfold covering his eyes helps him get some shut-eye.

Next to Rah, Victoria McGill- the oldest daughter of Dawn McGill.  She was the spitting image of her mother except for the fact she was two inches taller and thirty pounds heavier.  A promising wrestler in her own right, this is her first time traveling outside the country and the first experience getting an up close view behind the scenes with a big time wrestling company.  She’s curled up as much as she can in her seat with her head resting on Rah’s broad shoulder.

Why were they all coming with me to Tokyo?  Joe Bergman is going to help me train for the War Games match so he’ll be here the entire time.  As for Tori McGill and Rah?  Well, let’s just say I have a little surprise in store for Jace Parker Davidson and the so-called funeral he’s planning for me at Refueled LXIV. 

I glance over at Bergman and hear a steady ticking that sounds like an old-fashioned Timex watch.  Actually, It’s the sound of Joe’s mechanical heart valve, ticking away and doing its job.

Time also keeps ticking on and twelve hours on a plane gives me plenty of time to think.  The original plan was for me to come back to HOW and use my experience to help Grappler’s Local 214 win at War Games- repaying Joe Bergman for the same kindness I once bestowed on him when I recommended him to Lee Best two years ago.  I did not expect this whole thing with Jace to blow up.  Hell, I had no idea JPD was coming back to HOW. 

Now I wonder if I should have come back at all? 

Have I bitten off a little more than I can chew at this stage in my life?  Sure, I’m royally pissed off at Jace for what happened in Los Angeles.  Sure, I saw my life momentarily flash before my eyes- literally- in a giant ball of flame.   Sure, I’m forty-one years old now and sure as hell not the wrestler who won War Games five years ago when I was in the best shape of my life.  Now, twenty-odd pounds heavier and more used to sitting behind a desk making important decisions than running the ropes and taking the punishment that I’ve been taking the past few weeks, the last few weeks has taken a lot more out of me than I expected it would.

And don’t get me started about the fire incident.  I never counted on that happening.  Actually from the reaction, NO ONE expected that to happen.

Maybe Gary and Dave were right.  Maybe coming back now was a mistake. 

I could have just stayed in St. Louis.  Maybe I should have just stayed in St. Louis. That would have been the easy thing to do.  But Ray McAvay has never been about doing the easy thing.

I’m here and there’s no turning back.  Too many people are counting on me.  Lindsay, Conor, Zeb, Teddy, along with Dan, Xander, Darin, and Arthur.

As I told Blaire Moise in an interview last month, without the Les Misérables, there’s no Section 214 and without Section 214, there’s no Grappler’s Local 214. 

The reason I came back to HOW was to finish what we started so long ago on a cold night in January 2016 when the Les Misérables came to life. In the end, it’s really not just about me. 

It’s about the people.

It’s about the roots of the boots. 

It’s about the hard hats and the steel toes. The hustle.  The muscle. 

The blood, sweat and tears.

The backbone of the American Soul.