Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis

Posted on March 27, 2024 at 2:46 pm by Mike Best

Sometimes I wonder who I am. 

I mean, I can tell you a bunch of facts about me. I can tell you that I’m thirty seven years old. I can tell you that I’m a twelve time HOW World Champion, and I can list off the huge list of accomplishments on my resume. I have a twenty year old son, and my father is the most infamous wrestling promoter in history. I’m… fuck, I don’t know. I’m like 6’1” and 220lbs or something. All of these things are true. All of them technically define me. But none of them really give you, or me, any idea of who I actually am. 

Truth is, I’m not so sure myself. 

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking as we approach another March to Glory. Thinking about the old days, I guess. My very first HOW match was in the Lee Best Invitational, and I was immediately thrust into the Narcotic Group with Max Kael, Jatt Starr, David Black and Mark O’Neal. Fucking snipers, the whole lot of them. And I’ll tell you what happened— I got my ass beat by Max Kael. I got my ass beat by Jatt Starr. And I got my ass beat by Mark O’Neal, too. Not Black— David Black still holds no wins over me. Fuck David Black. But that’s not my point. 

Point is, I got fucking merc’d. 

I waltzed into this company thinking that I was hot shit, and I was promptly and aggressively humbled. It was utterly humiliating. I remember sitting in the locker room after I was eliminated from the LBI, my head in my hands, just trying to figure out what I was going to do. I’d hedged everything on this jump to HOW, and I’d found out so quickly that it was on another level from anything that I’d ever done. The competition was stiff, the wrestlers were legends around every corner, and I was in over my fucking head. And I’ll be honest with you:

I almost quit. 

I considered it, for sure. Crawling back to DREAM Wrestling and begging for my spot back. I’d carved out a nice little niche for myself, the biggest fish in the small pond, and it was comfortable there. It was safe. I knew my place. Why risk getting my ass kicked, over and over, week in and week out, when I could go back to the place where I was King? But that’s what a situation like that will do for you. It’ll help you figure out who you are. And it turns out I wasn’t the kind of guy who was going to walk away from a challenge. And so I stuck it out, and I got on my grind. I scraped and I clawed, and despite being eliminated from that LBI, I still main evented March to Glory. 

Chris America. 

HOFC Championship. 

We beat out the LBI Final and the HOW World Title, and we had the single greatest HOFC Title match of all time. And I wasn’t done scraping and clawing, either, because then I scraped and clawed to my first ICON Championship. My first War Games. And at ICONIC 2010, I had scraped and I had clawed and I had dug in so deep that I captured my very first HOW World Championship. The very same belt that’s sitting beside me on my desk right now. The very same belt I’ve subsequently held eleven times, literally twice the amount of times as the runner up to my record. 

I knew who I was, then. 

Adversity paved the path. 

I’m incredibly aware of how douchey this is about to sound, but I haven’t had any real sense of adversity in HOW in a very long time. It’s not meant to disrespect the work that everyone around here puts in, or to put myself on some crazy pedestal above my peers, but it’s just the way that things are. When I won my first World Title, I had this insane death grip on the thing, because I was so afraid that if I ever lost it, I’d never get the opportunity to win it back again. But I’ve won it eleven times since then, and honestly, the pressure is kind of off by now. When Stevens beat me for the title before ICONIC, I didn’t have a panic attack. I didn’t relapse and dive nose first back into a pile of coke. I simply collected myself and my feelings, went back into ICONIC, and took my championship back. 

Adversity builds character. 

So who in the fuck am I today?

I’m lost. I’ve barely lost a match in five years. I could lose the next hundred and still have a lifetime winning record in this company. There is no next level, no second Hall of Fame, no higher level of Mount Rushmore. No new titles to win, no new ground to break, and no knew accomplishments to be accomplished. I have done it all, seen it all, and conquered it all. Twice. Three times. A fucking half dozen. And honestly, I don’t know what to do about it. I briefly considered one of my insane, self imposed stipulations— if I lose at March to Glory, I’ll never compete for the title again. But I’ve been down that road. I did it a couple of years ago, and somehow here I am holding the championship again. It’s like I said before… it’s an addiction. I don’t know how to walk away from it forever. But what in the fuck am I even doing anymore? I’m seeing all these promos from John Sektor, and Steve Solex, and Silent Witness, and even de Lacy, and I’m almost envious. I can see the hunger. I can see the drive. I can see how badly they want to take this championship away from me. And in years past, I could let evil in. I could let it boil over into anxiety, and use it to make me stronger. More dangerous. 

But I’m not afraid. 

And that’s… a problem. 

The uncomfortable truth is that I don’t sincerely believe that there is anyone on this roster that is on my level. Not saying that to get heat. Not saying it to be a dick. I’m just telling you the truth. I think that I am far and away the best in the world at this, and that I look down a great distance at the second place podium. I almost feel guilty for admitting this aloud, because I understand how it comes across. I understand the egos that it will bruise, and the feelings that it will hurt. And I legitimately do feel bad, because I fucking like the people in the LBI Final. John Sektor is sincerely my friend. Silent Witness is sincerely my friend. I don’t know Chuck very well, but he seems like a good guy to have around, and a great addition to HOW. And Solex? I mean, this I Believe In Steve shit isn’t just some goof I’m doing, I really do see Steve Solex as one of the pillars of this company. He’s one of my closest friends in this business, and someone whose company I sincerely enjoy. I’m not trying to say that you guys are a bunch of bums, or that I don’t think you belong in the title picture. I just I think that I have this down to such a science that there is literally no way for me to feel challenged anymore, and without that challenge, there is nothing to keep me sharp. 

Not being afraid isn’t a good thing for me. 

It makes me weak. 

It makes me beatable. 

Do understand the fucking palpable irony, here? That being unaware of how much better I am than everyone else was exactly the thing that made me so much better than everyone else? I trained harder. I worked smarter. I did everything so meticulously, because I believed that any margin for error was death. I wrestled every fucking week, because I was terrified of being overshadowed or forgotten, and it kept me in shape. Now, I’m sitting at home every week or wrestling spite dark matches on shows. HOW was like a video game, and I have unlocked every achievement. Beaten every level on every difficult. Found every Easter egg. Every single thing that happens in HOW makes me go “Oh, I remember when that happened in 2013”, or “Oh, that’s like at War Games in 2010.” I have done too much. Been here too long. Existed at a high enough level for long enough that it has become impossible to just be in the moment and forget everything that I’ve ever seen. 

It is, in it’s own way, omniscience. 

It is Godhood.

And I don’t know what to do. I don’t know who I am anymore. I am everyone and I am no one– I am literally writing a wrestling promo about how there’s nothing left for me to write wrestling promos about. Do you understand the absurdity? AND I AM FUCKING KILLING IT. This is really, really good, but what has always driven me was NOT knowing that it was really, really good. So is my awareness of how really, really good it is actually making it fucking suck? I don’t know. And that should give me anxiety. That should make me panic, and erase all of this and start again, but fuck. What am I going to do? Cut the same fucking promos I’ve been cutting for fifteen years? 

Hey Sektor, you sure do have a drug problem, huh? How’s your daughter Chloe, who was briefly the property of Max Kael, who I murdered in a wrestling match but now he’s alive on PRIME somehow? Remember the Hall of Fame? ‘Member the 97 other times we did this? ‘Member UTAH?  

I don’t want to do any of that. 

I don’t want to turn on Solex and go full left wing just so we have something to argue about. I don’t want to dive into Silent Witness’ stint as a homeless man and talk a bunch of shit about a match we had in 2015. I just want to figure out where everything went wrong, and how I got so far ahead of even the rest of my fellow Hall of Famers that this all started to feel inconsequential. I want to figure out how to stop feeling like if I lose the World Championship at March to Glory, it’ll be fine because I can just win the fucker back by War Games. Because I can. Because I probably would. Because I’ve I think won War Games now more time than anyone else has, and I have absolutely no doubt that I can do it again. I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to know these things. 

But I know them. 

It’s ugly, but it’s the truth. 

I don’t know exactly what happened to the kid who couldn’t sleep the night before a pay-per-view, because he was so nervous about his match that he couldn’t stop throwing up in the hotel sink. Maybe he just learned too much about the world. Experienced too many things. Maybe the PTSD of watching Nickelback get murdered and seeing so many people die over the years has just hardened him into an unthinking, unfeeling sociopath who thinks of himself as a God now. I don’t know, but I honestly wish that I did. 

So I guess, we’ll see what happens. 

But Rhys Townsend fucking ran from me. Dan Ryan fucking ran from me. Conor Fuse, Andy Murray, Lindsay Troy, Clay Byrd. The resurrected Max Kael is playing in a safe space pond, when he could have come back here and challenged the man who literally murdered him. I have been given absolutely no reason to feel like a mortal, and it is at this point impossible for me to bring myself back down to Earth. Part of me hopes that I walk into March to Glory and get humbled in a way that I sorely need to get humbled. That whoever wins that LBI Final just steamrolls over me in seven seconds and makes me eat every last word that I’ve just said. Maybe it would make me feel like that scared kid again, the one who spent his first year in HOW climbing the ladder. I want to be afraid. I want to be anxious. I want to feel like there is someone around ever corner, ready to take me out. But like it or not, I am the single greatest wrestler in HOW history, and no matter how much I like and respect every man who has a shot at me at March to Glory, the only fucking doubt I have going into this show is in myself

Somebody prove me wrong. 

Somebody remind me who I am. 

I am fucking begging you