The esteemed roster of High Octane Wrestling has hardly ever been the shining beacons of common sense, not exactly the people you could find inhabiting the class of the intelligentsia. Too caught up in their own worlds, too caught up in their concept of “point scoring” to comprehend that which is actually very simple.
I came back to wrestling to defeat Michael Lee Best.
Michael Lee Best knows this.
I know, shocking isn’t it.
I’m a little bit perplexed what the dullard members of the High Octane roster thought was going to happen at ICONIC when the bell rang. A fucking tickle fight?
Times may change but events can often be recurring, particularly in the sport of wrestling. Eventually every unique idea has been thunk, every evil has been schemed, every plot hatched and in the year 2021, the fans are just witnessing the newest remix.
Re-release can add nuance, director’s cuts can feel like new viewing experiences but they all still come from the same source.
An injury at the first HOW show post-RATR designed to destroy someone before they can even reach ICONIC?
Clay Byrd has no idea he’s just a tribute act.
It’s 2014, the Rock has just been rumbled and Jace Parker Davidson and Michael Lee Best had identified a new threat to their power, one greater than they had experienced for quite some time, Cecilworth Farthington. They didn’t like that they feel threatened. The politics of old hadn’t worked and Farthington’s relative success had continued pretty unabated. He was just off the back of winning the first (and last) ever Team Solitary Confinement match at Rumble at the Rock. Eyes were starting to turn in his direction. This was not good for the Era of Ego.
The Ego Boyz needed to act fast.
And lo, the SON whispered into GOD’s ears.
A big match post-PPV. Every champion in the spotlight. So, it was booked, the main event set. Locked in. Only half of the participants knew the true intentions.
HOW Tag Team Champions – David Black and Cecilworth Farthington
ICON/LSD Champion JPD and World Champion Mike Best.
Mike Best tried his damndest to deal with his new threat, the classic tricks came out full force.
Trick one, undercut the Tag Champions by removing what Best viewed as the source of their power, the man behind the throne, Dirk Dickwood. For the week leading up to the match, Dickwood got calls, letters, e-mails, singing telegrams… you name a communication method and Mike sent it in his direction. Mike wanted Dirk to manage Project Ego.
For Dirk’s incredible talents at ringside?
Of course not.
It was a way of sending a message to Farthington. No matter how far our hero had made it in HOW, there were always going to be forces greater than him and they would make damn sure that he’d stay in his spot.
Dickwood turned Best down. It was befuddling to Best, managing the HOW World Champion should have been the dream of any influential manager on the scene and Dirk had outright rejected it. Still, that’s why you made contingency plans.
Michael Oliver Best seems like a nice guy, his fashion sense is admirable and you really have to respect the confidence of any man who walks around in a tophat in this day and age, no matter how mistaken that level of self-confidence can be. I mean, I think the entire list of tophat wearers in the year of our Lord twenty twenty one is that fat lad from Thomas the Tank Engine and our new boss, the MOB-meister.
I even understand why he made his decision for the ICONIC main event, pushing my personal distaste of the matter to one side.
New owners want to make their presence felt, they want people to recognise their authority, they want people to understand the power they have and the fates that they control.
He wasn’t to understand WHY things between Mike and Cecilworth felt heatless.
He didn’t understand what the match meant.
Most people didn’t.
“Tell your boy I have a special match lined up for him. If he loses this one, there’s no way I can book him against Jace, there’s just no heat.”
Dirk Dickwood was flustered. He’d stood by Cecilworth’s side as he decided to wage war against HOW’s most dominant wrestlers and yet week after week, Cecilworth was proving that perhaps in his thirst for vengeance he’d returned too early.
March To Glory was in sight, Jace Parker Davidson’s LSD and ICON championships were in sight, Cecilworth’s first singles title in the wrestling industry was weeks away but his client just kept failing to seal the deal in his warm up matches and Lee Best had grown impatient.
Cecilworth was going to be given one last chance. If he won the match, well, his chance at revenge would stay in play. His chance at fulfilling the potential that Best and Davidson were threatened by could still come to fruition.
Dirk’s concern was growing, Farthington had assured him when he made his return during the ICONIC main event that he was ready to return, he was ready to take down the legends at the top of the HOW mountain, he was ready to defeat the undefeatable.
Yet in the weeks following Farthington’s dramatic return, the record book was telling a very different tale – loss after loss after loss.
His client wasn’t looking like a returning hero, he was looking like a failure and a farce. The boss had started to take notice. Dickwood wasn’t sure of the problem, had Cecilworth lost a step? Did he never have it in the first place?
Had he returned too fast?
The only thing that Dickwood knew was that his client had run out of opportunities and Lee Best was sending in an executioner to finish the job.
I remember that night vividly… well some of it anyway. I was fresh off another hot loss from, fuck, who was on the roster at the time, Reggie Rivid’s Happy Tummy? Sure, for argument’s sake, let’s go with that.
Who I lost to doesn’t really matter in the big picture, the fact was that I lost. I’d come back to HOW with big dick energy and in the weeks that followed there’d be significant shrinkage. The brass balls had been pawned off weeks prior. My heart was sinking, my self-confidence in tatters, my role in the industry had a massive question mark hanging above it.
I was wallowing in my own misery of my own making, when Dirk Dickwood stormed into the locker room, muttering in Scottish, probably an endless parade of the foulest swear words knowing him.
Somehow, in his manic state, I could still make out some of the statements and I didn’t like what I could hear.
Lee Best had given me one last chance at proving myself. One last chance at proving I could be in the top tier of High Octane. A loss and I’d be wallowing around at the Sex and Money Tier for the rest of my career, living in the hopes of the big names leaving the company so I get my pity run at the top.
A fate worse than death really.
People were threatened by me when I joined the company and I was three seconds away from being a Scott Stevens-esque punchline. Another figure that people would get on HORs to discuss how they had potential but could never quite put together all the pieces to make a run at the top.
Lee Best had hammered my death notice to the HOW Village Square.
My only method of appeal?
Defeat Mike Best
Farthington couldn’t really believe it himself, he heard a hand slap the mat for the third time, he’d heard the bell ring.
Fuck, he’d even heard Bryan McVay announce him as the new HOW ICON Champion.
None of it felt real to him.
Dirk Dickwood stood at ringside, his face couldn’t hide his look of disbelief. Like any good manager, he wanted to believe in his client, he wanted to believe that he’d reach the top of the industry but this was the first time he allowed himself to ACTUALLY believe it.
Cecilworth Farthington had just defeated Jace Parker Davidson. He had ended Davidson’s nine month undefeated streak. He had become the ICON Champion. He had defeated Mike Best on the previous show to even have the fucking match in the first place.
He was having trouble letting that sink in.
Him, Cecilworth Farthington, he had just defeated Mike Best and JPD back to back.
Two men that the rest of the roster felt a sense of dread around, he’d not just survived, he’d overcame.
In a matter of weeks, Farthington had proven Mike and Jace to be mortal.
There’s something about those weeks in March 2015 that I keep going back to. It’s not for self validation, I have an fifteen month undefeated streak and the record as the longest reigning ICON Champion in HOW history for jerk-off material. My history has meaning behind it, you see.
No, I just always marvel at how it’s amazing that a couple of wins can change the course of a career if you can sustain the momentum. The modern HOW roster seems afraid to try and break out of their roles and yet will very willingly grumble and mumble about the lack of opportunities, always sitting, awaiting the handouts they will assuredly get from playing it safe.
We’ve moved away from the era where people scratch and claw to EARN their spots. We’ve reached peak coasting. People who would rather amuse and bemuse the fans with the same schtick week after week. Hall of Famers who show up to play the hits, giving everyone that warm nostalgic glow and very little else. Fuck, there’s a man on the roster who eats faces and every his act seems like trite routine at this point.
How dull do you have to be as a human that even trying to eat people seems to fall into the channel changing mundane range?
I wasn’t anything special back when I arrived in HOW. I let Dirk do the plotting and planning, I just showed up for the matches. I built up a healthy winning record but instead of doing anything WITH those victories, we decided not to rock the boat.
Dirk told me that hard work would be its own reward in the end. All I had to do with keep up my winning ways and we’d end up drenched in glory at some point. So I wrestled match after match. After a while, Lee paired me with the charisma hurricane known to us mere mortals as David Black and we became a tag team.
Our deal was being a tag team.
We won matches.
As a tag team.
Basically, we feared doing anything marginally interesting.
Don’t rock the boat. Don’t dare do it. That could threaten your future.
My reward for my hard work and diligence?
Mike Best put me in a fucking hospital bed.
Every fucking dullard who got added to this match by Michael Oliver Best fits the same profile, even if they can’t yet admit it to themselves. They got this spot by playing it safe, staying in their line, following the predetermined path that the powers above ordained for them.
JJR ate some faces and defended his title.
Conor Fuse was sad that he lost the World Title and then became a bit happier.
Jatt Starr sang the hits and hit the bricks.
Clay Byrd made a SHOCKING and UNEXPECTED last minute return after taking time off to pan for more gold.
Jace Park Davidson continued to cling onto a rankings table for dear life despite having zero big wins to his name in several months.
Everyone neatly in their lane, driving carefully, obeying the speed limit.
It’s almost as if they’re lining up to get kneed in the face. These are High Octanes’ biggest names. The company’s biggest stars, all willingly signing themselves up to be cannon fodder.
You don’t become World Champion by sticking to your lane.
You don’t beat Mike Best by playing it safe.
Cecilworth Farthington had been staring at his watch nervously for the past ten minutes. His legs were practically vibrating at the table, a mixture of anxiety and annoyance was rushing through his body in waves. Every time he tried to scratch the back of his head, something of a nervous tick for the man, he winced in pain. He knew that Clay Bird had smashed up the back of his skull something fierce at the end of Refueled but he had yet to retrain his brain and so every couple of minutes served as a stark reminder of the danger a be-casted Byrd could present for our hero.
Nandos wasn’t exactly a conventional meeting place for the HOW Hall of Famer but it was close to the hotel he’d spent the past few days recovering at. He’d always known it as the KFC for the middle class, a place where the mediocre of society can drone on about what sauces they like to eat their chicken with because who needs an actual personality when you can prattle on about the Scoville scale. People love it when you tell the HILARIOUS story about how you burnt your penis having a crafty wank after eating hot wings. Much better than having any interesting thoughts or opinions, that’s for sure.
Yes, Cecilworth had come to already loathe the location he was in, not to mention the people inhabiting it. It definitely seemed like the location that HE would choose…
“Cecilworth, sorry I’m late, I kind of assumed that you weren’t going to bother showing.”
Cecilworth peered up from his menu, still perplexed by the very concept of “Peri-Peri” sauce to be greeted by the bloated, ruby face of noted alcohol consumer and former wrestling manager, Dirk Dickwood. Scientists say that if you studied Cecilworth’s face close enough in that moment, with the right microscope, you could actually see a small smile crack upon his face.
Cecilworth gestured for Dirk to join him at the table.
“I knew you guys were touring the UK but I wasn’t expecting a call.”
Dirk exuded cheerful energy as he tried to squeeze his rather spherical gut into the small corner booth that Farthington had grabbed. As he slowly lowered himself down, his attempts at friendly small talk were cut rapidly short.
“Dirk, you were right.”
Cecilworth launched into his thoughts, barely giving Dirk seconds to settle in his chair. The former manager was rightly taken aback by the words that had just been launched in his direction.
Stunned would be a more accurate description of his facial experience.
“I.. I… err… I was right about what, C-Money?”
Farthington’s nervous energy had reached a fever pitch, his fingers drumming upon the table without any rhythm, just frantic banging.
“The World Title is a curse.”
A lot of people have correctly pointed out that the attempt to revive The Gentlemans’ Game in HOW was a massive, big fat failure.
These people are, of course, entirely correct.
It was anemic from the first news post.
Two men who knew they had an unfortunate date at ICONIC dug into their “teehee, giggle, giggle” bag of tricks as a defense mechanism. The hope that by having “fun”, the fear that sat deep with both of them would never rise to the surface.
Make a big joke out of the build to the match, don’t make things too serious, that’s how to keep it safe.
I knew that me and Mike were conmen, I just didn’t know it was so deeply set within us that we could con each other, fuck, we managed to con ourselves.
People were so eager to point at the failure that they didn’t stop to ask themselves WHY it failed. They stop for even a moment to consider why me and Mike were terrified of treating the match with the dignity it deserved. If we allowed ourselves to treat it as a real contest…
Well, the eMpire fell for a reason.
If they’d just let us see it through, if they didn’t let Uncle Olly change the booking, they would have actually got the thing they desired.
The reward for never rocking the boat.
All they had to do was give me and Mike the ICONIC main event, all they had to do was let that bell ring. We would have KILLED each other because we’re the same person. We both don’t want to know.
We NEED to know.
We wouldn’t stop, we wouldn’t rest, we wouldn’t give up until our bodies crumbled and fell. If the bell rang again, we would never have noticed, there would be no give, no quarter, no retreat.
We would have killed each other.
Mike Best has never forgiven that fact he lost to me in 2015, that loss has ate at him. He has waited over six years to try and finally avenge that loss.
I have seen Mike Best beat my World Title record, I have stood in tag team matches and saw him get the pin, I have fought in multiman contests and been eliminated before my best friend. I’m deathly afraid that one win was nothing but a fluke, maybe even a tinge of sympathy. Maybe Mike wanted me to have that match with Jace, maybe he threw the match. I have never been able to answer that question conclusively.
This match would have been the conclusion.
You would have your special good boy treats for never rocking the boat. You could have partied like it was fucking 2016 HOW all over again.
So, when 2022 looks like another World Championship reign of death. When 2022 is the Mike and Cecilworth Gigglefest. When 2022 results in us circlejerking in the ring on live fucking television, just remember, your pathetic whining got you this reward.
Thanks Uncle Olly.
You did us a solid.