(VIDEO: Tiananmen Square – Beijing, China – Monday June 5th, 1989)
Chinese troops armed with assault rifles and tanks smashed through demonstrators – mainly Chinese students who’d spearheaded the ’89 Democracy Movement uprising that occupied Tiananmen Square for over six weeks in 1989 – and ended up killing anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand protesters as they put down the protests using brute and lethal force.
The day following the crackdown on the square, a column of tanks lined up to exit the square and rolled up to a man wearing a white shirt and black trousers holding two shopping bags who deliberately blocked the path of the vehicle.
The tank tried to go around the man. He stepped into the path.
The tank tried to go around him a second time. Again, the man placed himself directly in front of the vehicle.
This happened several more times before the tank gave up and shut down its engines.
No one really knows what happened to the man who heroically faced down a column of tanks in the famous picture. There have been varying accounts of the man’s fate. Some say he was arrested and executed shortly after. Some say he was whisked away by fellow protesters never to be heard from ever again.
One man against an army.
Now, just to be clear, I want to point out for the record that I’m not going to even attempt to try and equate the courage of a man who stood up to a column of tanks in the midst of what was an incredibly dire situation to a professional wrestling match. Not in a million years.
But what I will say Max is this- you can bet money that I’ll have my eyes peeled for any sign of your ‘North Kaelrea’ army. I may not be able to stop them in the same fashion as that brave man who put himself in the path of several tanks that could simply run over him at the snap of a finger. But I’ve never backed down from a fight in HOW. I certainly didn’t back down in May when we met for the very first time in the semi-finals of the world title tournament. I didn’t back down in June when we met again two weeks after I won the world title for the first time. And after I won the title for a second time in September, I had no problem agreeing the very same night to meet Dan Ryan and later on Cecilworth Farthington at Rumble at the Rock for the title.
My time away from HOW following Rumble at the Rock gave me valuable perspective. I realized the biggest mistake I made at Rumble at the Rock was not following through with my original plan to show up with the Les Miserables to Alcatraz. I mean, we even went so far as to tape a vignette with the Les Miserables and then ended up never using the footage. What I should have done was attempt to feed off their energy – it was really my best chance to try and pull off what would have been an unlikely win over CMF and Dan Ryan. You know, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference in the match result in the end but I still should have followed my instincts.
Live and learn.
Max, we all know that right now – at this very moment of time – the eMpire has been the most dominant faction in HOW during the Refueled era with the Industry coming in a close second. Cecilworth Farthington has been nearly unbeatable and now wears the HOW World Title belt that I wore around my waist for two title reigns totaling seventy-one days. Until two weeks ago when you ran into Warrick Hill, Max Kael’s only loss in the Refueled era was to me back at Refueled III. And then there’s Mike Best- probably the only person on the planet who would willingly book himself into a Group of Death scenario with the likes of the Industry’s Dan Ryan, Lindsay Troy, M.J. Flair, and High Flyer in the LBI.
As for you Max. I’ll say this much. The match you had with High Flyer at ICONIC was simply epic- a classic HOW match chock full of brutality and over the top violence. Yeah, you got tripped up against Warrick Hill in the first match of the LBI but you bounced back last week against Austin Reeves. I picked up a nice win over Brenton Cross in my first LBI match Saturday night and now, here we are again.
This will be the third time we’ve done this in less than a year. The first time we met – Refueled III – ended up being the night that things got serious for Halitosis. Up to that point, Halitosis had been a novelty – an oddity who just happened pulled off major upsets of HOW Hall of Famers David Black and Scottywood. I was the Cinderella man. The guy who appeared out of left field. The underdog. The dark horse. You missed the Gaslighter. I ducked underneath and caught you turning with the Breath of Death. You nearly got me with a crucifix pinfall after I hit the high angle senton but I managed to reverse and get the pin on you.
The second match between us came down to the wire as well. Two weeks after I’d won the title against Brian Hollywood, you came in lock and loaded and ready to avenge the loss. Full credit to you, that’s what you did with a little assist from your late Herald who helped you reverse a pinfall to give you the win- and the world title. No excuses. The better man won that night.
But now, here we are – match number three. Here’s the thing though, you’re not facing Halitosis this time because the Luchador with Insanely Bad Oral Hygiene is retired after fourteen years. At Refueled XVI you’re facing a guy named Joe Bergman – or ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman. So let me tell you a little about him. His move set is not a whole lot different from Halitosis but you’ll be glad to know that there’s no more ‘Breath of Death’ to worry about. I’ve cleaned up my dental health and stopped ingesting the most hideously stinky foods I could find.
Now, if you leave me an opening like you did in our first match – you may get a little green mist as a present – but other than that, I’m pretty much the same wrestler I was when I wrestled as Halitosis.
Max, I remember what my wife Laura told me before our first match that you and I were on equal terms. We both wanted the same thing- the HOW World Title and we both had to get through the other to reach our goal. Well, this time it’s a little different. You hold the LSD title. I’m working my way back after taking a few weeks off after Rumble at the Rock. I’m going to try to beat you with grit, perseverance, and tenacity. I know the road back to the top of the mountain is paved with hard work, concentration and focus, trusting my instincts, and paying close attention to detail. I know I can’t let the moment overwhelm me or fear failure, success, and the moment. At the end of the day, even though you’re resembling a certain dark Sith Lord from the Star Wars movies more and more – I’m going to refrain from calling you Darth Kael – you are still just a man – albeit with some additional mechanical enhancement. You are still just a man who has to find a way to pin my shoulders down for a one – two – three. You still have to find a way to be the last man standing with the title belt at the end of the match.
I’m coming for the belt, Max. Bring your army. You won’t have far to look for me. I’ll be the one standing in your path. Please. Underestimate me again. Do so at your peril.
Dry Fork Road
Friday Afternoon February 7th
Pumping out at full volume from the speakers of an outdoor Bose stereo system:
♫ “Rednecker”- Hardy ♫
So you think you’ve got some county line cred
‘Cause you rode a dirt road or two
You got a mossy oak hat on top of your head
And a southern pride tattoo
The sound boomed out from several locations – a speaker connected to an electrical pole next to the single vehicle garage – another speaker located on the front porch of a doublewide at the end of the gravel driveway – a third speaker perched on a hay wagon about twenty feet off the edge of the house – and flooded the field cut out from a forest just off a tiny ribbon of pavement that wound through the Missouri hills south of St. Louis called Dry Fork Road with a neverending sonic explosion of music.
Yeah, you might’ve a drank a little grain alcohol
Or hauled a little hay
But if you think your boots got more dirt than mine
I got one thing to say
It’s rained a lot over the past month so parts of the field are muddy. However, the owner of said property – a man known as General DeBauchery in wrestling circles – is enjoying the wet and slippery conditions in his field by running his four by four 2019 Ford F-150 through the mudhole – the white paint job of the new truck turned multiple shades of brown and black from the Bridgestone heavy duty truck tires throwing mud and sod all over the place.
My town’s smaller than your town
And I got a bigger buck and bass on my wall
I got a little more kick in my drawl
Y’all I got little more spit in my chaw
A former PCW personality and last seen on HOTv as a part of former HOW World Champion Ray McAvay’s Les Miserables, General DeBauchery now worked at Missouri Valley Wrestling as a backstage agent and also still wrestled occasionally on the independent circuit along with fellow PCW alumni Nic Koteen, Al Cahall, and newcomer Dave Hibachi as the Vice Squad- Promoting Politically Incorrect Personal Choices.
And my truck’s louder than your truck
And my collar’s a little more blue
You might think that you’re redneck
But I’m rednecker than you
Yes I am…
Hibachi manned the stainless steel PGS Legacy Big Sur 51-Inch Propane Gas Grill with Rotisserie in the gravel driveway away from the single car garage and cooked up hot dogs, burgers, steaks, and brats over the expansively spacious grill. Cahall brought the beer – Koteen- the smokes.
I got a car parked in my front yard
With a floorboard full of Slim Jims
I piss where I want to
And I fish where I swim
Multiple beer kegs dotted the front lawn and a huge bonfire lit up the yard in a crackling orange and black inferno which helped offset the mid-thirty degree temperatures on the outside to the point where several guests did not feel the need to wear winter coats.
Yeah, I bet you ain’t got it on a tailgate
Or killed a copperhead a time or two
Man, if you’re thinking you’re a better beer drinker
Buddy, I’ve got news for you
Laura Bergman sat in a lawn chair close to the bonfire to keep warm – one hand wrapped around a half empty wine cooler. She relished the opportunity to get away from the office for the day and relaxed in the chair watching her husband Joe playing in the mud hole in the field.
My town’s smaller than your town
And I got a bigger buck and bass on my wall
I got a little more kick in my drawl, y’all
I got a little more spit in my chaw
Laying on top of an old mattress now tied to the hitch of the Ford truck with a rope, Joe kept his head down and hung on for dear life as General DeBauchery tore a path through the field trying to dislodge him.
And my truck’s louder than your truck
And my tick hound’s a little more blue
You might think that you’re redneck
But I’m rednecker than you…
General DeBauchery cut the steering wheel hard left swinging the mattress with Joe on it wickedly through the marshy grass and mud causing one of Joe’s hand to be ripped away from the rope. He found himself half in the air, half gripping the rope with his left hand – hanging on for dear life.
…I’m rednecker than you
“Well that sure looks like a lot of fun,” a female voice called out, snapping Laura out of her stare.
Blaire Moise. HOW’s backstage interviewer. Her blonde hair waved in the cool February breeze as she shut the driver’s door of her silver 2017 Honda Civic five seater that got an estimated thirty-five miles to the gallon and had a high dependability rating from J.D. Power and Associates. Her stylish clothes seemed a little out of place in the background of a rural playground.
“Oh,” Laura said to her. “Hi Blaire.”
“Well. I didn’t realize I was walking right into the middle of a country music video.” Blaire let out a yawn and stretched, reaching both hands towards the sky as far as she could go. The drive down Interstate 55 from Chicago to Imperial to do an interview with Joe for HOTv on his return to HOW took about four hours.
Laura’s head snapped around and her brow furrowed. She saw Joe had finally succumbed to the challenge of withstanding extreme centrifugal force and got launched off the mattress into the air.
“Lots of fun,” Blaire added after Joe landed and finally stopped rolling smack in the middle of the mud hole.
“So. Do you really want to interview him today?” Laura asked as Joe pulled himself off the ground and brushed the mud pack from his sweatshirt and pants.
“I’ll just make sure I stay a good five feet back from him,” Blaire quipped, cringing at the mud dropping off of Joe’s shirt. She observed the chaos going on in the field – people firing bottle rockets back and forth at each other – someone else hopped onto the mattress and was being pulled around the field behind the Ford truck showering another man sitting in a chair in the middle of the mud hole with an endless stream of mud.
Blaire turned back towards Laura and asked: “Should he be really doing this the day before his first match in the LBI?”
Laura shrugged. “He’s relaxed. He’s about relaxed as he’s been since this whole thing started.” She pointed at an empty chair right by her. “Have a seat. The bonfire makes it pretty warm right here and I’m sure he’ll be done playing in a few minutes.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” Blaire pulled up a chair to sit down.
Her head whipped around. A fresh blue spot dotted the garage door – a thin stream of blue paint dropped down a fraction of an inch. A paintball shot that whizzed by close to her car.
TOO close to her car.
Blaire shifted around in her chair to locate the offending person. The person in question stood several feet away holding the paintball gun in his hand that’d just fired the paintball that barely missed Blaire’s car. He had an impish smile on his face.
Color Blaire not amused. “HEY! WATCH IT! THAT’S MY FUCKING CAR YOU ALMOST HIT!”
“Sorry!” he shouted back.
“Jesus,” Blaire muttered. Returning to her conversation with Laura, she asked, “How is Joe doing?”
“What do you mean?” asked Laura.
“He took a tremendous amount of punishment at Rumble at the Rock. I’ve watched a couple of his dark matches he’s wrestled since then and he still doesn’t seem to be a hundred percent yet.”
Laura nodded her head. “Yeah. That match against Farthington and Ryan took a lot out of him physically…” She paused briefly and finished her sentence. “…and mentally. Joe had way too much on his plate going into Rumble at the Rock. He had already lost the match mentally before he even set foot in the infirmary. He knew what he was walking into and he fought like hell and it just wasn’t good enough. So once the doctor’s cleared him to resume training, Joe and I had a sit down talk about determining one – if he should continue to wrestle in HOW and two- how should we go about it.” Laura took a sip of the wine cooler and then continued. “I thought we needed to go back to basics and what worked at the beginning. For me, that meant one thing- going to Dawn McGill and seeing if I convince her to come back and start training him again.”
“Well that explains her appearances at the dark matches before Refueled,” Blaire said. “What does Dawn McGill bring to the table that someone else couldn’t?”
“Easy. She knows how to cut through the bullshit and bring clarity to any situation and that’s what Joe needs right now,” Laura explained in between sips from her wine cooler. “She knows Joe’s wrestling style inside and out. She knows what works for Joe and what doesn’t work. She knows her job is to get Joe refocused on winning matches again and not worrying what everyone is saying about him. Dawn can get him to stop worrying about trying to be the good guy, the face wrestler and all that baggage that comes along with it and just go out to the ring and wrestle the damn match.
“And apparently, she’s pretty handy with a steel folding chair too,” Blaire interjected, remembering that she hopped the rail and took out two men with a chair in Joe Bergman’s dark match before Refueled XIV.
“Yeah,” agreed Laura. “She is.”
Blaire connected the dots and put two and two together. “Well then, I suppose I ought to make plans to have a chat with Dawn McGill too.”
“Well it’s your lucky day then.”
Blaire and Laura glanced over in the direction of the new voice joining the conversation.
“Ladies,” Dawn McGill greeted Blaire and Laura. “Sorry I’m late Laura. I had to meet Ray McAvay and drop off the kids before I came out here.” Dawn went over to Blaire and shook her hand.
“So Blaire. What would you like to talk about?”