This might not be about wrestling.
Haven’t decided yet. It’s the last Mike Best blog ever, I’m gonna write about whatever I want. It might not tick all the boxes, and it may leave some people disappointed, but I’ve been here for twelve years and I think that I’ve earned the right to say goodbye my way. I’m just gonna sit here and write this until I stop, and I’m not even really sure what I’m going to say. I have to reiterate… it may not even be about wrestling.
I had thought about really laying into Clay one more time before March to Glory, and I still might… streams of consciousness tend to go wherever they go… but honestly, he’s shown me so much disrespect for the last six weeks that I really don’t want to go out on the sour note of talking too much about a guy who hasn’t even bothered to respond to me yet.
Guess he has “other commitments’ these days.
I have lived and breathed wrestling for a dozen years now. Twelve years is a long time. I’ve been wrestling longer than I was ever in school, at this point. I have literally never had a relationship in my life that lasted as long as my relationship with HOW– girlfriends, family, friends, anything. All the friends I have in the world that I actually talk to, or hang out with, or give a half a crap about are here in HOW. And I don’t think I’ve ever loved anything or anyone as much as I’ve loved HOW.
See, HOW loves you back.
That’s always been the draw, for the lifers. Even if you can’t put your finger on it. This is our playground, and we get as much out of it as we put in. Hate her and she hates you back, but show her love, and kindness, and effort, and she will give it back to you a thousandfold. Maybe it sounds like a bunch of ass licking, but I really do mean it– when you stop and wonder how some of us put in full time job hours in this place, it’s because you get back what you put in. Guys like Lee Best and I, this isn’t just some game to us. It’s real. The emotions are real. The highs are real, and the lows are real. This place is what keeps us going on the days that it’s all we have.
I’ll be honest, I’m already having second thoughts.
Doing that scheming in my head. Every lifer knows the feeling… when you’re out, but just looking for that excuse to get back in. Waiting for that DM from Lee, so you can pretend for a while that you’re not coming back, before you inevitably start planning out your next return. Jatt Starr, John Sektor, Chris Kostoff… swear to God, I’m not entirely convinced we’ll never somehow see Max Kael alive and well in HOW again. I’m sitting here on the precipice of retirement, and having those thoughts like “I bet Clay and I could be captains at War Games, and really keep this thing going” or… “the REAL blowoff match needs to be at Rumble at the Rock”. And I’m not doing it because I really want to keep wrestling, and beating my body up every week. I’m not doing it because I want to keep fighting Clay forever, either.
I just don’t know what else to do.
When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. All I have is wrestling. It’s my only skill set.. I’m thirty five years old, and I’ve signed a contract to take over as the CEO of High Octane Wrestling. To watch from the sidelines, as others pursue their dreams, while I help to run the machine from the comfort of a big wooden desk. As excited as I am to have real, functioning joints again, and to literally never run the risk of being crucified again in my whole life, sometimes you just wanna keep doing something because it’s what you know. Because it brings you comfort.
Risk is terrifying, and I’m not brave.
Jumping off a ladder isn’t a risk. Being powerbombed through the floor of the Roman Coliseum isn’t a risk. It’s a hazard of the job. Risk is hanging up your boots while you’re still in the vicinity of your athletic prime, and throwing yourself full force into the business side of things without knowing if you’re qualified. Risk is realizing that you never had a fallback, but falling back on it anyway. I could eat steel chairs until the cows come home, that doesn’t scare me… it’s knowing that at March to Glory, I’ll wrestle presumably my last ever match in front of my hometown crowd, and then… that’s it.
Win or lose, that’s it.
There are a lot of complicated emotions in me lately. It’s weird… it feels like I’m casting myself off on the ice like some kind of an elder Eskimo here, but it’s not like I’m going anywhere. I’ll still be backstage every week. I’ll still see everyone I know, whether I love them or I hardly tolerate them. I’d say that this isn’t how I ever saw it all coming to an end, but that’s kind of a trick statement…
I never thought about the end.
That’s kind of part of the obsession, you know? It’s like falling in love. When you throw your whole heart into something, and you commit to it, you don’t think about the fact that someday it might come to an end. You tell them you’re going to “love them forever” and for as long as you’re in love, it’s the truth. It doesn’t usually work out that way, but no one is telling a lie. No one is setting out to deceive. It’s just that circumstances change sometimes. HOW is the love affair I’ve had that was meant to last the rest of our lives, but our circumstances changed. It’s time for me to take the boots off. Time for me to step aside, and be what my soul mate needs me to be. Because it’s the only love I’ve ever really known.
You know, that’s a lie, actually.
I did fall in love once. It was never plastered on your television screens, or exploited in one of these blogs for cheap heat or anything. Kinda flew under the radar, and not many people in HOW even knew I was seeing someone. Long distance thing, as it tends to be when you spend a lot of time on the road. She was married, and about to get divorced. I was still working through the muddiness of my divorce, too. We kind of bonded over all of that. Made plans for a life together, went all in, talked about being together forever. She left her husband, moved out of the house. We’d visit when we could. Then she moved back in with her husband, and instead of just admitting that circumstances changed, we dragged it out for eight months. Made it harder on each other and ourselves. To be dead honest with you, actually, it just ended very recently.
It ended… today.
A year of my life, and it came to an end via text message, because it was “too hard” to do it any other way. I’m angry. I’m hurt. I’m sad. For the last eight months, I’ve been telling the few people who knew about all this that it was “still kinda going on, but it had cooled down” or… “we’re still figuring things out, we talk every day”. But as I sat down to write this last blog, planning to verbally eviscerate Clay Byrd and make him feel the kind of hurt that I’m feeling, I found that I wasn’t able to tap into that rage. That the trash talk wasn’t flowing. I didn’t expect it to hurt this much when it finally and inevitably came to an end, no matter how much I could see the writing on the wall. This sucks. It fucking sucks. I’ve been in love exactly one time in my entire life, and it came crashing down in a fucking iMessage.
And so… I’m having second thoughts.
Because I’m so fucking broken as a human being that my first thought after a terrible, drawn out break up isn’t that I should take time to heal. It’s that I could REALLY use this fire to get ahead in HOW. To make another run at the World Title. To ride on top for another year, miserable all the way because the only passion I have left inside of me is pure spite. HOW has always been the place where I’ve worked out my problems, so the second things are hard outside of the ring, that’s where my heart goes.
It goes to the ring.
HOW doesn’t drop eight paragraphs on you that fucks up your world, an hour after sending eachother silly GIFs. It doesn’t get upset about the idea of you seeing other women, even though it moved back in with it’s husband back in fucking September. HOW doesn’t tell you it’s going to block your number and all your social media, just to make sure that neither of you reaches you and starts the whole mess all over again.
Actually, that one is a lie.
Lee blocks me all the time.
None of that has anything to do with wrestling, but thanks for reading it. I’m really gonna miss having this kind of outlet all the time. Do you know how great it’s been, for twelve years, to just take out every aggression I’ve ever felt onto this stupid blog? It’s been better than therapy… a place to put down my thoughts, and use them to tell you a story. To turn my anger toward the world, whether petty as fuck or wildly deserved, into venom soaked trash talk that won me matches before we ever even stepped into the ring. The fuck am I supposed to do now that I’m retiring? Process emotions like a normal adult? Actually deal with my problems, instead of just figuring out a cool way to turn it into a promo on Refueled?
Big yikes. That sounds awful.
Anyway, the second thoughts are just thoughts.
I know that my time is over. No one gives a fuck about seeing a guy become the World Champion for the eleventh time, and they shouldn’t. It’s self indulgent. I’ve won double the world titles of the next highest guy on the list, and no one is ever breaking most of the records I’ve set in HOW. My watch has ended. It’s okay to sit down and let someone else have a turn. I’m leaving HOW in good hands as far as the action inside of the ring goes, and I still get to have my fingers in the pie from outside of it. But knowing that all these things are true doesn’t make them any easier to accept. That’s maybe one thing that the biggest heartbreak of my life is teaching me, in real time. Just because you don’t want to accept that something is over doesn’t mean that keeping it alive is healthy.
It’s time for my career to end.
But it doesn’t have to go out with a whimper.
There’s this old tradition in wrestling that you go out on your back. I mean, you’re never gonna just hand a guy a victory, but nobody goes all out in their last match. You do the favors. You get your shots in, you try to get the victory if it’s in your grasp, but you don’t fucking kill a guy out there just to have your hand raised one last time. Kostoff did the favors for me once, and it made me into the megastar that I am today. The business gives you everything, so you give back to the business on the way out, and I know that I have the opportunity in front of me to absolutely make Clay Byrd at March to Glory.
And I’m going to absolutely eviscerate him.
Only way I go out on my back is if I die in my sleep, Baby Byrd. Don’t let my case of the sads fool you into thinking anything different. Everybody wanted apromo battle between the two of us for March to Glory, and we both know they aren’t gonna get it. Hard for me to find the fire to barrage you over and over again, when you’re “too smart” to respond to me. Great work, Clay– your silence is the greatest strategic move of your career. Can’t wait for them to herald your match against Mike Best for years to come, where your response to absolute verbal evisceration was to turtle up in your big dumb shell and wait to say anything till I couldn’t respond anymore.
GET HYPED, AMIRITE?
Fuck, look at me slipping into promo mode. Such an easy thing to slide into. I said that I didn’t wanna go out on a sour note, but here I am… sour. Honestly, I think I’m actually kind of bitter about that. That my retirement has been essentially taken over and repurposed into some kind of vehicle for Clay Byrd to try to get over with the HOW fans. You terrorized me for six weeks, burned down my wrestling school, attacked my friends, assaulted me in public, and made my entire 2022 thus far a living hell, and now you don’t even have the fucking courtesy or the respect for me to cut a fucking promo that I’m able to respond to.
You’re a fucking coward, Clay.
You got the chance to play chess with Bobby Fisher, and you’re hiding in the corner of the board and calling it “STRATEGY”. You’re corner camping like it’s fucking Call of Duty, because all you know how to do is quick scope. Your silence says a lot more than a promo would have, Clay. There wasn’t enough fresh water left on Earth to satiate the thirst you’ve been exhibiting since I announced my retirement, but now the cat has your tongue. And it didn’t even work, stupid– now I’m just cutting a promo about how you haven’t bothered to cut a promo yet, and it’s going to make whatever you DO say look stupid. Because I’m good at this. Because I’m the best that there has ever been at it.
Six days till March to Glory, Clay.
You fucked around for six weeks, and now you’re gonna find out. Every insecurity I have about the end of my career, every ounce of hurt that I’m feeling right now, every bit of anger I’ve felt over every petty inconvenience. After March to Glory, it all goes away, so I’m gonna treat this match like an All You Can Punch buffet. You’re going to pay for every blog I’ll never write, every knee I’ll never throat, and every title I’ll never chase because I think it’s a substitute for real love. You took every memory I had of this place away from me, and now I need to make a new one. An imprint that will last a lifetime. A vision of the cold, unconscious Clay Byrd in the center of the ring, while my victory music plays one last time.
And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
Any hope you had at beating me at March to Glory just blocked you on social media and deleted your number out of their phone. Hope moved back in with it’s husband, and it’s doing GREAT. This little love affair you had with hope has come to a blistering, painful end, and just because you don’t want to accept that it’s over doesn’t mean that it’s healthy to keep it alive. Trust me, Clay. Eventually it leaves you feeling empty, and desperate, and fucking stupid.
And in this case, unconscious.
I’m going to embarrass you so deliberately at March to Glory that Lindsay Troy is pre-emptively banning cage matches in PRIME. Because you need the reality check. Because you’ll never be HOW World Champion, or win a War Games, or accomplish anything of value as long as you keep failing to pull the trigger on anything substantial in your career. It’s always half assed. Always low risk. You had no problem attacking me from behind or cutting a promo when I wasn’t around. Burning down SixTime Academy while I was safely miles and miles away. But when it comes time to nut up and go one on one with me, you’re already retreating?
This is the talking face, dummy.
This is the easy part. You can say all kinds of hokey ranch-boy shit here, and no one will ever hold it against you. If you clam up like this when it’s time for mean words, the fuck are you gonna do when it’s time to get in the ring? Let me get ALL my offense in, then hope to God there’s something left of you once I’m too tired to counterpunch?
Bold strategy, Cotton.
Let’s see if it pays off.
I didn’t know if this was going to be about wrestling, and I guess it was, in the end. Cause it’s always about wrestling, with me. I tried to talk about my feelings, and all of that was very real, but I guess in the end I’m always going to come back to wrestling. It’s easier for me to beat the shit out of Clay Byrd than it is to process my emotions. It’s easier to make a dick joke than say that I’m in pain. It’s easier to hide behind this business and get all my venom down on paper than it is to work it out like an adult. When that match ends at March to Glory, and I become the CEO of High Octane Wrestling, maybe I’ll have to learn some new ways to cope with my life, and my feelings, and all the shit that’s wrong with me.
But I’m not retired yet.
In six days, I have a lot of uncomfortable feelings to work out in that steel cage, and I’m going to work them out in the unhealthiest ways imaginable. It isn’t your fault that Katherine didn’t love me enough to not go running back to the life she knew. It isn’t your fault that this is my only coping mechanism. It isn’t your fault that I take out my fears, and my insecurities, and my anger on whoever is standing across from me in the ring. But it’s your fault that you’re gonna be that guy at March to Glory. It’s your fault that it’s going to be in a steel cage. And it’s your fault, and your blatant disrespect for my last HOW match, that this feels like the most important match for me to win in my entire career. I don’t even really need the win, Clay.
I just really need you to lose.
I need to fuck up your 2022 the way that you’ve fucked up mine. I need it to be hard for Uncle Ollie to see you as a War Games captain, because you took an L in a match at March to Glory. I need the wrestlers to see you get thumped by me for a third time, so that your legacy against me is a big fat fucking goose egg. I need you to never get the closure you so desperately crave from me, because I have outmatched and finessed you at literally every meeting we have ever had in HOW. You want to be the new Kostoff, Clay? Congratulations, you’re the new Kostoff.
I killed him with a fucking shovel.
And I think I’ve got one last burial left in me.