Exposed

Exposed

Posted on April 24, 2024 at 4:31 pm by Silent Witness

April 24th, 2024.

The Best Arena. Chicago, IL.

Sometimes, you need a podcast studio and a co-host to prompt you to talk about your next match. Other times, all you need is a chair in an empty wrestling ring, in an empty arena… Well, and someone to record it all, but… shut up. You know what I’m talking about.

So that’s where Silent Witness was. Sat in a chair, in an otherwise empty wrestling ring, staring at a camera, in an otherwise empty arena. If he had a joint in his hand, you might be forgiven for thinking it was the beginning of a Rhys Townsend promo. But alas, there were no drugs in sight – and the arena was well-lit, lacking the eerie darkness that would give that angry Welshman’s promos their… je ne sais quoi… 

Nonetheless, the nod to Silent Witness’ fellow Hall of Famer – and arguably Mike Best’s fiercest rival – was unmistakable. Was it some kind of subliminal message for his opponent; an attempt to get in his head by reminding him of his past – a past Silent Witness believed that Mike had entirely lost sight of? No, of course not. That would be fruitless, not to mention fucking insane. But sometimes, all you need is a chair in an empty wrestling ring, in an emp-

… You know where this is going. Oh – there was one other thing in the ring, on the floor between the HOW veteran’s feet, and it would be remiss to overlook it, given its subtle, yet significant nod to his opponent. 

A negative COVID test.

“There he is,” began the former World Champion, smiling. It wasn’t what you would call a sinister smile, but… Sadistic? Like he had just taken a barbed-wire baseball bat to the forehead and enjoyed it? Yeah… Something like that. 

“At least, I think I saw a glimmer of him in there, somewhere” added Silent Witness, leaning forward and squinting slightly, as though he was looking for something. “The Mike Best I used to know. The one that took no prisoners. The one that didn’t give a fuck who he upset, who he walked over, or who he had to rip apart to make sure he kept hold of his spot as the number one draw in HOW. Hell, the number one draw in all of professional wrestling.

“You threatened it, at least. For a second – in between the braggadocio that, frankly, sounded like a call for help, pleading with yourself to remember who the fuck you used to be – you sounded like that guy…” he shrugged, nonchalantly. “But then you lost it, and you went back to the cliché – no, the caricature – of yourself that you have been as far back as I can remember.”

Silent Witness sighed, throwing his arms out to the side in exasperation. “Because you just weren’t listening, Michael” he said, frustrated, as he looked back towards the camera.

“I wasn’t asking you ‘what if?’ for my own benefit. Oh, no, no. It wasn’t a fantasy I was playing out to make me feel better about myself, a whimsical story to give me hope that maybe this time I can beat Mike Best. I asked ‘what if? for you.

“I thought putting that idea in your head might stir something in you. Force that world-eating motherfucker out of his shell and back into the spotlight. What if you lose that title? What if the person you lose it to deserves to be HOW Champion more than you? What if you realize this isn’t a fucking joke, and if you don’t wake the fuck up to it, you’ll lose that title in a fucking heartbeat?

“You’re absolutely right, Mike – the time for sucking each other’s dicks is over, so let’s just get straight fucking into it, shall we? There’s something eating away at you right now, a nagging thought that you can’t get out of your mind, no matter how much you try to push it away by telling me just how much better than me you are. It’s a sinking feeling in your stomach, because you know that it’s the truth you just don’t want to say out loud:

“You don’t think I can beat you right now, Mike. You know I can.”

Silent Witness wasn’t angry. He wasn’t pumped up, adrenaline-fuelled, or anything close to resembling any heightened sense of emotion. He was calm, because he was confident.

“It’s why you’re hiding behind the bravado. Reminding me just how much better than me you have always been. How I haven’t won a title in HOW since 2012, while you’ve been this all-conquering monster, leaving bodies, relationships and friendships alike in your wake. Because I’m supposed to second guess myself, right? Not in public – hell, not even in private for 97% of the time – because you’re goddamn right that I’m stubborn, and I’m not backing out of this match…

“But we both know what you were doing. You were trying to plant a seed in the back of my mind, so that in my most vulnerable moments – those sleepless nights between now and Chaos – I would start to doubt myself. What if I can’t beat Mike? Even this… disappointing sequel, Mike 2.0 version, that is tarnishing his own legacy, while he’s throwing out barbs at me about tarnishing my own. What if I can’t beat him?”

Silent Witness smiled again, then shrugged.

“It didn’t land, my friend. Because not only do you know that I can beat you, for maybe the first time… I know I can beat you. I know that right now, I can beat any version of you. I’m not sitting here trying to shit on you, Mike. I’m not for a second trying to suggest that it’s a fucking guarantee, because unlike you, I’m not taking this match lightly. 

“You did exactly what we both knew you would do. You lied. And you gave me my flowers. You told me how much I deserve this shot and yadda-fucking-yadda… and then you lied again – to yourself.”

Silent Witness paused, letting that sink in. Unlike his usual demeanor when he went off on a tangent like this, there was no over-the-top emotion. No attempt to show just how much he really means what he’s saying, because there was no need for it. He knew that Mike Best, and everybody else watching, knew that what he was saying was from the heart.

“The quote-unquote ‘truth’ you tried ever-so-hard to convince yourself of – that you haven’t been half-assing it – is a fucking lie. Maybe in that moment you weren’t – maybe I got through to you just a little bit and maybe I made you care for just a second. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, when you spend the rest of your time trying to convince… me? You? Whoever it was… that you’re better than me because you live in some kind of crystal skull lair like you’re the bad guy from Inspector fucking Gadget.

“Because whether you want to accept it or keep on denying it, that was you lying to yourself, too. Or, maybe it’s exactly what I said – a cry for help to your former self, pleading for him to make an appearance. Fuck it, I’ll join in:

Please show up on Friday night, Mike Pol-.”

Silent Witness stopped himself.

“No, I won’t deadname you, Michael, as tempting as it is to do what you did to me. So let me continue:

Please remember who you used to be, so that when I look back and I tell that story I told you about – the one where I can say I gave it my best against the all time best – he gave me his best. I know you respect me enough to give me that, if you can remember where you put the keycard to access that MVP-level of your fucking 90’s cartoon villain lair.”

Silent Witness stood up, and began pacing back and forth between the chair and the camera. It was the first sign of emotion he had shown. Maybe it was just a coping mechanism to help him keep control of his thoughts, or to control his anger at the apparent disrespect he felt emanating from his opponent. Whatever it was, eventually he sat back down, took  a deep breath, and composed himself.

“You’re right… A lot of people have run away after losing to you,” he continued. Silent Witness took a moment to take in his surroundings, then glanced a knowing smile at the camera. “Rhys ran…”

In a surprising change of pace, Silent Witness tilted his head to the side, smiled, and raised the pitch of his voice by half an octave. “But so did your friends.”

The smile on his face wasn’t warm. It wasn’t friendly. It was the smile of a man that knew he was about to say something hurtful – and had no intention of pulling any punches.

“You know who I mean. Your peanut gallery. The privileged few that you hand-pick to do your bidding for you. Your Stadler and Waldorf: your muppets that you enjoy playing with, positioning them as your faux equals, so that they would protect you whenever there was even a hint of a threat to your ego. Be it a promo, a twitter post or a backstage interview, there they would be – quick to pass judgment and kill any momentum they dared try to generate.

“But we both know it wasn’t just to belittle and demean your opponent, trying to get in their head and cast some doubt in their minds, Mike. That would betray your reasoning for manipulating them into that position to begin with. It was also to get in your head. To alleviate the doubts in your mind. And, of course, to prop up that giant fucking ego, making sure Manchild Michael – since we’re Namecalling – didn’t have another moment and run off crying about it.”

Silent Witness stared coldly at the camera for a moment. Whatever respect and friendship he had towards his opponent had been fully suspended now.

“I know how it is, because I was that guy. I was the one running off to Utah with you – and not in a fun, The Book of Mormon ‘Sal Tlay Ka Siti’ way. So, I’ve seen how you play everyone like a game of chess; positioning your pawns to benefit you. I’ve seen what happens whenever one of those pawns steps out of line: how the rest of them rally around their king, ostracizing the rogue, helpless bastard until the only option they have is to leave.

“But I look around now and… well… everybody left you, didn’t they, Mike? Why is that? Did they have enough of your petty rages, or did they finally see the selfish, jealous side of you? The one that can’t allow anybody else to have even a hint of success if it detracts from yours? You know who I’m talking about, because they were your best friends in the entire fucking world. Or at least, one of them was. Not like you and I – we are friends, but we’re not go on a fucking cruise together friends – and they fucking left you

“And when they left you, they exposed you. Because now you are all alone. Nobody wants to protect you. Nobody wants to help you when somebody comes along and holds a mirror up to you, showing you the monstrous cunt you really are. Or the lazy motherfucker you have become recently. There is literally nobody left in the little black book of ‘people I haven’t taken advantage of yet’ for you to turn to. Fuck, I don’t know why it’s taken so long for somebody to challenge that ego of yours when you don’t have your Mean Girls around to protect you, but maybe it’s because I know how you tick that makes it so easy for me to take advantage of you.”

Once again, Silent Witness took a moment to compose himself. Mimicking what he had done in his previous address to the HOW World Champion, he began wagging his finger towards the camera.

“I want to leave you with this, Michael, because I don’t think you’ve quite grasped what’s happening here. This isn’t ‘what if Silent Witness overcomes all the odds and beats Mike Best?’ This is ‘what the fuck does Mike Best do with himself when Silent Witness beats Mike Best?’

“Because yes, you have always been better than me. But it was never a walkover. I have always given you everything you can handle – very close, then you find your moment, right? And hell, if we had 10 matches, you might win 9 of them. But I’m not trying to win 10 matches – I’m trying to win one. This one. And this isn’t some trope about how maybe now that Mike is coasting, maybe-just-maybe this is my time. No. I respect myself more than that, even if you have forgotten how to do that. 

“This is about waking you the fuck up. I almost had you – and yes, I know almost doesn’t count for shit, because this isn’t a participation trophy sport – but I almost fucking had you when you were at your best. Now, I’m back to being the same guy I was then, or pretty fucking close to it… But I have to ask, Mike… Do you even remember how to be that guy? Because if you don’t, it doesn’t matter how many times you say you’re better than me, better than everyone – this watered down version of Mike Best can not guarantee he beats this version of Silent Witness. 

“Because yes, you are still better than 97% of the roster, but you and I both know that I’m not 97% of the roster. I’m in that 3%. And that doesn’t mean I definitely will beat you, Mike, but it means I fucking can. And if you want to carry on living your life as a 90’s cartoon villain, you need to fucking realise that, or you will be waking up to the sweet, sweet sound of Bryan McVay declaring those three words you don’t want to hear:

AND THE NEW.

“I disturbed the sleeping giant’s slumber last time I spoke to you. I wanted more, but anybody who knows you can see that your heart wasn’t in it. You didn’t take me as a credible threat to your title. So now I’ve come for the jugular. Now it’s time for that sleeping giant to wake the fuck up.”