Tuesday, February 21st, 2023
Jace’s head was pounding and he was hungover. He had way too much to drink and eat last night at his little birthday party gathering. He didn’t want to get out of bed. He didn’t want to make himself presentable. He certainly didn’t want to be out in public bright and early, hiding behind a pair of sunglasses from the evil Denver sunlight. A day of rest and recovery is just what the doctor ordered, but when you have aspirations the likes of Jace Parker Davidson? A day of rest and recovery isn’t something you can afford very often.
Samantha Tolson had gotten Jace up at nearly the crack of dawn to go look at different venues that could be the place that would become ‘The Kingdom’ which was Jace’s idea for a new gym and wrestling school run by the two of them. It would be a fitting replacement for TEN-X Wrestling since he had parted ways with that place and seemed to be the only person that bothered trying to keep it alive. While moving on was the right decision, the void left by not having a state-of-the-art facility to train at was sorely missed. Especially, with the fact that March 2 Glory was right around the corner.
Jace and Samantha arrived at a rather large building in downtown Denver. The location was kind of tucked away in a little area. Coors Field wasn’t too far away but would garner most of the attention. The spot was a hop, skip, and a jump away from Larimer Square. They entered inside and began to look around the empty and dusty abandoned space.
“Well, it certainly looks like this place would be big enough for what we need.” Samantha said out loud as she walked around the space while looking around.
Jace walked around the space, but at a much slower pace than Samantha. He didn’t respond, but he ran his finger along one of the windows in the building and noticed the substantial amount of dirt collected with just one swipe. It was obvious if this place would be the one that he picked, that an industrial-sized cleaning effort would need to be made.
“You’re not saying anything.” Samantha had turned to face Jace with her hands on her hips.
Her tone had shaken Jace from his mind drifting off a million miles away. He scanned the majority of the space behind his sunglasses before replying.
“It’s filthy.” He groaned while wiping his hand clean on the side of his pants.
“Did you expect it to be spotless?” Samantha asked as she cocked her head to the side a bit.
“No.” He said with a sigh as he walked around a little more inspecting the space. “I just didn’t expect it to be THIS much of a mess either.”
Samantha shakes her head and then turns around to continue to look at the space. Jace follows behind her as she reaches into her pocket. She pulls out a crumpled-up napkin, the same napkin that Jace had drawn on when he came up with the idea for the wrestling school/gym. Samantha stops and holds it up into the air so that Jace can look at it.
“This was your idea, your dream. You spent so much time trying to keep someone else’s dream alive, but now you have a chance to have your vision come to life.” Samantha said with passion in her voice. “So, what is the problem? This is the third place we’ve looked at today and it seems like you’re not interested in any of them.”
“I’m interested.” Jace said meekly in defense of himself.
“Sure could have fooled me.” Samantha snapped back. “What is it that is bothering you?”
“Steve Solex.” Jace answered in a flat tone.
“Isn’t that one of the guys you’re facing this weekend?” Samantha inquired.
“Sunday night and then again at the PPV in Manchester, England for my LSD Championship belt.” Jace corrected her.
“And that’s a problem?” There was concern in her voice.
Jace paused for a moment to think about the loaded question she asked before answering.
“A problem? No, but it just feels like I’m missing something…” Jace paused once again. “I feel like Lee Best has something up his sleeve. At the Lethal Lottery, it was a cage match against Aceldama with Solex as the referee, but I survived that. Even the attack after post-match.”
Jace reached up and rubbed the back of his neck.
“Maybe you’re putting too much thought into it?” Samantha suggested.
“In High Octane Wrestling, you have to always be thinking and on your toes.” Jace began to walk around the space again. “Steve Solex is just… Steve Solex. They threw Aceldama at me and needed Solex as the referee, but still couldn’t get the job done. So, now I’m just facing Solex straight up at March 2 Glory? That can’t be the plan, not if he wants to get the LSD Championship belt off of me. Something else is going to go down, but I just have no idea what that is yet.”
“What are you going to do?” Samantha followed behind him.
“The only thing that I can do.” Jace stopped and turned on his heels. “That’s train and just expect the unexpected. I know that Steve Solex alone isn’t enough to beat me. Just like Lee Best knows that Steve Solex by himself isn’t enough to beat me. That doesn’t mean I’m going to underestimate either one of them. But that’s why I need a place to train hard to prepare for what is to come. I need this to get up and running ASAP. I need ‘The Kingdom’ to be fully functional, so, that means I’ll take this place. I’ll sign whatever paperwork I need to and put down payment in cash.”
Samantha reels back a bit from his statement then places her hand on his shoulder.
“Let’s not be hasty now. You’ve spent a lot of money the last few months and buying this place will be one thing. But then, how are you going to manage to buy all the equipment that we’ll need?” Samantha said in a calm tone. “I’m all for your making your ambitions a reality, but you don’t need to go broke in the process.”
Jace shakes his head vehemently.
“No, I can’t just sit back and wait for things to come to me anymore. I have to take a gamble and put in the effort to make it a success.” He pulled Samantha close and hugged her. “You don’t have to concern yourself about money or the equipment. I have someone in mind that could provide us with everything that we could need and more.”
“Someone?” Samantha questioned as Jace continued to embrace her.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head. Talk to the person that owns this place. Find out their price and have all the paperwork drawn and up sent to me.” Jace kissed Samantha on the forehead before letting her go. “I have to get moving on other things. I’ll meet you back at home later and we’ll figure out what we’re doing for dinner, yeah?”
Jace didn’t give Samantha time to respond as he turned around and left the building quickly. Samantha let out a sigh but knew there was no point in trying to stop him. Once inspiration struck Jace, there was no stopping him. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her phone as the scene fades.
Jace, it made back to his ‘Sanctuary’ home in Denver and made his way into study on the second floor. He had pulled up a seat at the desk and grabbed a hold of a pen and some paper. He had decided that if he had to team with Conor Fuse this week in the main event of Chaos that he was going to write his partner a letter.
Conor had done the same thing when Jace had to drop out of the Maurako Cup last year. It wasn’t a gesture that made Jace feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside but being the spiteful person that he was. He figured that Conor would appreciate the clap back in his approach. Jace tried multiple times to write a letter but would end up stopping midway before balling up the piece of paper and tossing it aside for a new one.
Every single letter turned out meaner than he intended it to be. Nice and subtle weren’t things that Jace was good at but he took a deep breath before making yet another attempt.
I’m writing you this letter because I’m sure at this point you know that on the Go Home show for March 2 Glory, we are set to team together for the first time since the AoA died.
I know I’m not exactly your favorite person at the moment and I could say that the feeling is mutual, but neither of us has time for petty squabbles. We’re set to take both Steve Solex and HOW World Champion Christopher America in this tag team main event.
My opponent for March 2 Glory and your opponent, which is your chance to become a three-time HOW World Champion at March 2 Glory.
I don’t think I need to stress any further the importance of this match.
I know what you’re thinking though, and your right.
I am an asshole.
I know I am an asshole and it’s something I find pride in. I’m not sitting here writing you this letter to apologize for turning my back on you and Jatt along with what was left of the AoA. I did it, and I own the fact that I did it. I also do not regret my decision and given the chance, I would do it all over again.
I think you’re smart enough to realize any of us would have done the exact same thing.
A spot in the HOW Hall of Fame. A spot among The Board. A raise in pay and preferential booking? What is there not to love about that offer? Of course, I chose that over the AoA, even if that meant turning my back on you.
I would say I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings, but this is HOW, Conor. No one gives a damn about your feelings. Not even your so-called BFF.
You should know by now to make it in this ‘game’ you need thick skin and how to adapt to roll with the punches. You’re an emotional guy though, and I know your first instinct will be to lash out at me and tell me how much you hate me.
To tell me how much of a scumbag I am for what I did to your friend, Bobbinette Carey. Again, I’m not here to apologize for a fucking thing I’ve done because it would be a lie. I did what I did to Carey and given the opportunity, I would do it ten times worse. She’s not your friend, Conor. You’re her crutch. You’re the solid support that keeps her from falling flat on her face. You’re the bit of talent and relevance that keeps her name alive among the roster of HOW.
She will whisper sweet nothings in your ear and pretend that she cares about you. Until someone more talented and more relevant comes along for her to latch onto. Then, she’ll stab you in the back and leave you lying in a ditch without even a second thought.
That’s what I did to you, isn’t it?
So, trust me when I tell you that, I know a snake in the grass when I see it. I know someone just like me or worse, especially after I’ve been in the ring against them.
But this isn’t about Carey. This is about me and you.
This is about the fact that we could walk into this match at each other’s throats, but what would we gain from that? I could sit here and tell you that I only left the AoA because outside of you, the whole stable was absolute shit.
I could tell you that I didn’t go down with the ship alongside you, because not only did you replace me in the Maurako Cup with David Noble. You also tried to make him a member of the AoA without even asking my opinion on the matter.
Where is David Noble now?
I could sit here and point out how you had all the faith in the world in Jatt Starr, but look at him now. He did the same thing that I did to you for his own reasons. However, he hasn’t gained a Hall of Fame spot out of the deal. He hasn’t had preferential booking nor does he have a real shot at putting gold around his waist. He didn’t get a huge pay raise. He just did it because he feels safe under Lee Best’s thumb.
I could point out that you make poor decisions when it comes to people you chose to associate with. Like how you thought that you could work with Clay Byrd and The Highwaymen to win War Games last year. Like how you drafted someone like Arthur Pleasant just because he was LSD Champion at the time, instead of picking someone like me, who was still on the board.
We could put all our personal differences aside for one night only.
I know Lee Best. He’s not just going to let us walk out there and take on two of his favorite members of The Final Alliance, and allow them to be embarrassed before March 2 Glory. And I got to tell you, no one is coming out there to help us. Not Bobbinette Carey, not Jatt Starr, and not Stronk. Nobody will help us, so, we have to help each other.
I’ve teamed with Christopher America. I know his tendencies and what is important to him. There isn’t a level that he won’t stoop down to just to retain his title against you at March 2 Glory. And it has nothing to do with you, Conor. It has nothing to do with beating a worthy opponent inside of the ring.
The opponent he NEEDS to beat is already retired.
Christopher America NEEDS to beat the record of the longest HOW World Championship reign held by Michael Lee Best. It’s the Son of God that haunts Christopher America’s nightmares. So much so, that he was willing to share a War Games victory over you with Mike’s son, Tyler if it meant having more War Games wins than Mike Best.
America won’t ever top Mike’s ten reigns as HOW World Champion, but he is in shooting distance of the record for the longest reign. Do you want to be a thorn in the side of Christopher America? Do you want to stick it to Lee Best? Do you make sure that Christopher America can only tie Mike Best’s record reign?
It would drive America absolutely up the fucking wall.
The man would crack mentally and then Lee Best’s greatest weapon would be rendered useless. I can help you achieve that goal. Remember, it was me that helped make sure that you won the HOW World Championship belt for a second time back at ICONIC two years ago. Let me help you do it again.
I know what Bobbinette Carey will say to my offer. I know what everyone else on the roster will say about my offer.
Am I trustworthy? Absolutely not.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that, for the right price and the right conditions, I wouldn’t go and side with Lee Best once again at the drop of a dime. My talent and my moral compass can be fucking bought.
But this time? This week? I have an axe to grind with our opponents. I have a hatchet to bury between the eyes of the people that treated me like a weak link instead of a leader. We have common enemies and common goals this week.
If you gain then I gain.
And you know personally how much I love to succeed.
That is my offer.
You can accept it, and for one night only, we can show people how dangerous the pairing of Conor Fuse and Jace Parker Davidson can truly be. Or, you can be a stubborn child and turn this into a three-on-one situation heading into the biggest match you’ll have all year.
The choice is yours.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday, February 24th, 2023
Jace staggered his way back into the building. He could hear the roar from the crowd but it was mostly just white noise at the moment. Every single step Jace took sent pain shooting through his body like lightning. Each step felt like the last one that he would ever take. Darkness was creeping up in his peripheral. Probably a concussion from the match that he had just endured. This would be great news seeing as how he’s due to wrestle in the main event at Madison Square Garden in exactly two days.
This is what he signed up for, however. A spot in the three-night event known as the Denzel Porter Invitational 2. A featured match on Night One of the event. A chance to open some of the eyes of the more household-name wrestlers in this business. He strived to be more than just a ‘HOW guy’ in the opinion of the masses. Yet, regardless of his current relationship with Lee Best, Jace still tried to bring a bit of the spotlight to High Octane Wrestling through his talent and dedication. Had he achieved that tonight? Only time will tell when it’s all said and done.
He found a quiet corner of the building and leaned against a wall. He tried to breathe deeply, hoping that it would stop the world around him from spinning. Eventually, he slid down the wall until his ass was planted firmly on the floor. Absent-mindedly, he rummaged through his pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. It wasn’t a habit he indulged in often, only those times when the feeling of ‘fuck everything’ was too strong to resist. He beat on the pack a little bit then removed a single cancer stick before placing it between his dry, cracked lips.
His taped-up hands and fingers were coated in blood. Some of it his, some of it belonging to Jason Cashe, who was his opponent this evening. His blood-coated hands were just a mere appetizer to the amount of blood that was caked around his face and hair. He drove his hand back into his pocket again and fished out a lighter. He flicked the flame to life and then raised it to the end of the cigarette. The tip of the cigarette lit and that first drag from a long overdue smoke was absolute heaven.
“Jace!” The voice shouted in his direction louder than he appreciated.
To be honest, the voice has been calling out to him the entire time. The source of the voice had even been standing there leaning over in front of him. He raised his head slowly, but the combination of blood and trauma to the head made his vision blurry. All he could make out was a silhouette of a human being.
“Madison?” He choked out through drags from the cigarette. It was more of an educated guess than it was actual knowledge or confirmation.
“You look like you got run over by a semi.” Madison reached out and touched his arm.
“Heh… almost.” Jace retorted with a sarcastic chuckle.
“You’re doing way too much. What just happened out there? It was totally unnecessary. You have a title that you need to defend next month and you’re out there taking risks like that. What do you gain from it?” Madison lectured.
“But I…” Jace’s voice trailed off as he tried to remember if he had won or lost the match just moments ago. He couldn’t recall either way, so he decided to take another drag from the cigarette. “I get to go out there and prove I am one of the best in this business. I get to put my name on the map in places outside of HOW.”
“Is that what you call it?” Madison pressed.
He didn’t respond. He just took another drag off of the cigarette as the cancer stick started to become more ash than cigarette.
“You got an LFL team, you got a Roller Derby team, and you got the STRONKUMMS business.” Madison listed off. “I know you want to accomplish a lot of things, but you’re only one person. I understand. I was there, and I know what missing those five years of wrestling meant to you. But if you keep up at this pace, you’re just going to burn out before you can accomplish half of the things that you want.”
His eyes snapped up and narrowed. He still couldn’t see her clearly, but he heard her words and he felt the rage erupt inside of him.
“Those five years are exactly why I need to push harder.” He groaned. “You never know when it can all be yanked away from you in a blink of an eye. I can’t afford complacency. Yeah, I won a Wrestler of the Year award. I made the HOTv Championship something worthy of holding. I held three Championship belts, at the same time, at the end of 2022. Since I’ve come back, I’ve won every single Championship belt there is to win except one.”
“You’ve also gotten into the HOW Hall of Fame.” Madison added. “But all of this is because you haven’t won the HOW World Championship belt?”
He waved the hand that held the cigarette dismissively as the line of ash rained down to the floor.
“Not just that.” He said through a mini coughing fit. “I made the LSD Championship belt just as good, if not better, than the HOW World Championship belt. It’s not the title that is important, it’s HIM. I want to be regarded the same way that he is regarded. I’ve done everything that he’s done since he came back and more, but I don’t get even a fraction of the recognition. I don’t get asked to main event PWA shows. I don’t get asked to be a member of The Final Alliance. I didn’t get to be Champion of the Year last year, even though I held more titles than he did.”
“You’re talking about Christopher America?” Madison raised her eyebrow.
Jace slowly nodded his head up and down before placing what was left of the cigarette back into his mouth.
“I don’t think America is your enemy here.” Madison sat down beside Jace and leaned back against the wall. “He spoke pretty highly of you in his promo the other day. He seems just as confused as anyone else about why you’re not a member of The Final Alliance. He even went as far as to call you his friend.”
Jace began to laugh which only caused another coughing fit. He composed himself and then nonchalantly began to pick shards of glass from his knee.
“And I’m just supposed to believe that?” Jace let the question linger in the air. “Christopher America doesn’t care about anything, or anyone, outside of Lee Best and the HOW World Championship belt. Maybe winning a 4th War Games match makes that list. America can whisper all the sweet nothings about me that he wants, but it’s not like, outside of Board business and matches, that he and I ever hung out or even spoke. America is the kind of man that would stab his grandmother in the back if it meant getting another step closer to being considered better than Mike Best.”
Madison sighed and shook her head.
“America is smart enough to know that I’m better as an ally than I am an enemy. He knows that I’m a good person to have on his side come War Games 2023.” Jace blood covered fingers pluck another shard of glass from his leg. “America’s ‘friendship’ with me is completely reliant on the fact I stay in his shadow and I don’t become a threat for his Championship belt. Arms distance kind of deal, just like everyone else. I want the recognition that he gets. If that mean helping Conor Fuse beat him? Or, even going to take the World Championship belt myself? Then maybe that’s what I need to do.”
“That all sounds good, but how are you going to take down Lee Best, Christopher America, and The Final Alliance single-handedly if you keep doing this to yourself?” Madison placed her hand gently on his other leg.
“That’s easy. All I have to do is…” Suddenly, the cigarette fell from his lips down to the floor. The darkness that threatened his consciousness finally won the battle. Jace’s body slumped over to the side nearly hitting the floor as Madison jumped to her feet.
“Jace?! JACE!” Madison tried shaking him, but he was unresponsive. Madison screamed out for help and then quickly pulled out her phone to dial 911.