Momentum

Momentum

Posted on May 8, 2024 at 1:30 pm by Mike Best

Steve Solex. 

Yes, you’re the one I want to address this week. 

Not Noah. Not Drew. Not even Witness. Because there’s some air that needs to be cleared between us, and before we step into the ring together at CHAOS, I wanna clear it. 

I’m not sorry, and I’d do it again. 

That’s the most honest it gets, Steve. At March to Glory, I chucked Matt Boettcher into the trash like an empty Big Mac box, and I have absolutely no regrets about that. The belt around my waist is the HOW World Championship, and it is the single most important possession that a man can hold. You worked your ass off to win the Lee Best Invitational, you made it to the dance, and then we had the single worst pay-per-view main event since you were still wearing that stupid cowboy hat and everyone thought they were Butch and/or Sundance. 

And I regret nothing

Truth is, Steve, I respect you enough to give you anything but a fair shot at my championship. That’s a weird way to compliment a man, but I feel like you’ll understand. The HOW World Championship is my life and my identity, and at March to Glory, I felt that they were both in danger. No such thing as a fair fight when your life is in danger, and I think you know that more than anybody. But I want to make sure that you know a couple of things, before we become tag team partners this week. 

Jace acted alone. 

There was no conspiracy.

But yeah, I sure as fuck let it happen. 

Can you trust me this week? Absolutely you can. We’re on the same team, both figuratively and literally. Our friendship means a fuck of a lot to me, and after last week, this match means a fuck of a lot to me. Can you trust me backstage? Fuck yeah. Can you trust me on a road trip? Fuck yeah. But can you trust me when you challenge me for the most important prize in all of wrestling? 

Absolutely not. 

Not now, and not ever. When we inevitably meet again for this championship, I’ll shoot three referees in the face and put your grandmother into a camel clutch if I have to. Whatever it takes to win. Whatever I need to do. But because I’m not ashamed to tell you that, and because I don’t feel the need to keep that information from you, I hope that it helps you realize that if I tell you when you can’t trust me, it’ll help you realize when you can

That’s it, that’s all I wanted to say. 

I’m looking forward to tagging up with you this week. It’s been a long time coming. I know you got your shit with Sektor, and that’s cool, and maybe he and I have our own differences to work out this year. But when we step into the ring at CHAOS, know that I’ve got your back so long as you’ve got mine. And I know that this is the part where usually I’d pivot and talk some shit about Drew Mitchell, and my old pal Sam, but this week just hits a little different for me after what happened in last week’s main event. 

I’ve talked enough shit. 

It’s time to let the violence speak for itself. 

 

——————————————————-

 

“Noah fuckin’ Hanson.”

Everyone has heard the phrase “I’m not mad, I’m disappointed”. Oftentimes, it hurts worse than the anger ever would have in the first place. But do you know what hurts even worse than that? Mad and disappointed. 

Today, James Cornfield is both. 

His face as beet red as a freshly washed firetruck, the former owner, booker, promoter and sole proprietor of Pro Wrestling: ASSAULT throws the stress ball in his hand about  as hard as a human being can throw a stress ball. It collides with the wall of his new office within the confines of TEN-X, falling harmlessly and anticlimactically to the concrete floor beneath. 

“Noah Hanson.” Cornfield repeats, enunciating slower this time. “Noah. Hanson. The fuckin KFC guy. Chicken boy. The Oscar-nominated poultry assassin who looks like the dickhead from Face Off. Are you fuckin’ kidding me, Nepo Baby? Ain’t you the GODDAMNED WORLD CHAMPION?”

Sweeping his arms across his own desk, Cornfield empties the entire wood top frame of its contents, sending paperwork and binders flying halfway across the office. The target of his tirade, the aforementioned HOW World Champion, avoids eye contact, looking toward the floor as though there’s something very interesting to be seen there. 

“It wasn’t…” Michael begins, frustrated. “I mean, I’m not the one who— it was fucking Teddy, Jim. I did everything I could, I just—“

“Teddy Palmer.” Jimmy interjects, shaking his head. “I don’t care who you think lost you that match, kid. I don’t care if it was Teddy Palmer, Teddy Roosevelt, or Teddy goddamned Ruxspin. You walked into my office with a sack full of cash and a sob story about 3%, and then you immediately turn around and shit the bed like you never broke up a three count before. Chicken Boy and Droop Mitchell? No disrespect to Droop, he did some numbers in XPRO for me, but fuck. Midcard fuckin’ talent?”

The Son of God grits his teeth. 

He asked for this. In a literal sense, he physically asked for this. When he convinced James Cornfield to come out of retirement from management and be in his corner full time, he knew what he was getting himself into. Even still, the same arrogance that had him working to less than his full potential was the same arrogance that led him to believe he wouldn’t find himself in a position to get screamed like this. 

At least not immediately. 

Michael plops down into the padded chair in the corner of the office, dropping his elbows down onto his knees. For a moment he considers arguing back— to write Noah and Drew off so easily feels like an oversight on the part of his new manager, but it also feels like an excuse to even go there in the first place. Michael Lee Best has loudly and frequently proclaimed himself to be the greatest of all time, so whether they’re a couple of mid carders or the best thing out there since the invention of the headlock, it shouldn’t matter. 

He should have gotten it done. 

“…you’re right, Jim.” Michael breaths out, heavily. “No excuses. It was a bad night.”

Cornfield snorts. 

“A bad night.” he repeats, almost mockingly. “A bad night was when Bill Collins got us lost in the middle of bumfuck Kentucky cause he was afraid that if the top heel in the territory got caught wearing prescription glasses to drive in, he’d kill his fuckin’ heat deader’n the goddamned Dodo bird. YOU got beat like a smart mouth ten year old in a K-Mart parking lot in front of the world and the man you gotta defend that title against a second time in two goddamned weeks. That ain’t a bad night, Baby Lee. That’s an embarrassment to you, to me, to your Daddy, and to the fuckin’ wrestling business.”

The mouth of the world champion nearly goes agape. 

“Okay, Jesus Christ.” Michael protests, rolling his eyes. “I’m willing to eat some crow on this one and say I could have done better, but that’s a little fucking dramatic, Jimmy. It was one tag match. It’s embarrassing, but it isn’t the end of the—“

“WRONG.” Cornfield interjects, loudly. “That’s the problem with you. That’s your three fuckin’ percent, right there. That’s why you fuckin’ tied Quiet Witless a couple weeks ago. And that’s why you came to me in the fuckin’ first place. Ain’t any such thing as just a tag match, Silver Spoon— you didn’t just lose a tag match. You lost your momentum.”

The eyes of the champion narrow, as he leans forward on the chair. He looks almost like a teenager being scolded by his father— maybe not the worst thing, for HOW’s most petulant child. He clearly doesn’t like being talked to like this, but again, this is all part of the deal. 

A look of disgust in his face, James grabs a folder off of the floor, amidst the pile of scattered documents. He pulls a page of notes out, shoving into almost into the face of his client. 

“Look at this.” Cornfield points at the page. “You’ve had four goddamned matches in 2024. Four. One real title defense, one bullshit title defense, one draw, and a loss. You think I couldn’t teach fifteen other guys to throw a knee the way you do? The thing about you that makes you successful in the ring isn’t pure athletic talent, Sweatpants Boy… I hate to break it to you, but there’s five guys minimum on the roster that could make you look like a ten year old girl if the only thing that mattered was athleticism.”

This is about all Michael can take. 

He stands up from the chair, the momentum shoving it backward as he stands up and steps right up into Cornfield’s face. His cheeks are beet red, half out of embarrassment from being run down like this and half from his own anger, both at himself and at James for bringing it out of him. 

“Now you fucking—“ Michael begins. 

Cornfield puts a finger in his face, interrupting him. 

“No, you talk enough.” Jim looks him in the eyes, sternly. “Now you’re gonna listen, or else you’re paying me to be your fucking lacky, and I ain’t nobody’s lacky. You got your balls, and you got your momentum. You win cause you been winnin’. Cause guys look at your name across from theirs on the card and they give up before that bell even rings. That’s why all the guys that fuckin’ beat you do it in the first place— they’re too goddamned stupid to be intimidated by you.”

He pokes the champion in the chest, not backing down from him at all. It’s a stark change, considering that Michael Lee Best is used to being simped to by underlings. 

He needs this. 

This is the missing piece. 

“Well, Witless ain’t stupid.” Cornfield sighs, grimly. “But he’s sure as shit got eyes. And not only did he take you to a fuckin’ draw, but now he watched Droop and the Chicken Coop Kid hand you your first loss of the year. What do you think he’s thinking about his chances right about now, Michael? Do you think he’s giving up before the bell rings?”

He cocks an eyebrow. 

This is not a rhetorical question. 

Michael Lee Best loosens his posture, physically deescalating as he considers everything that his new manager is telling him. For all of the Son of God’s talents, and even his abilities to be self aware, he’s never been good at identifying his own weaknesses. This is a weakness. This is a problem. And it needs to be corrected. 

“Okay, Jim.” Michael nods. “What do I need to do?”

The gruff exterior of the old wrestling promoter softens, as he slowly nods his head back. A small hint of a smile curls at the corners of his lips. He’s finally getting somewhere. 

Cornfield sits at the edge of his desk, tapping his fingers against the hardwood.

“See, now that’s a start.” he grins again, though only for a moment. “What you’re gonna do, Michael, is you’re gonna do the absolute opposite of what anyone would expect HOW’s favorite Nepo Baby to do in a throwaway tag team match on a free weekly show. You are gonna go out there and make a fucking example of those boys. Specifically ol’ Droop himself, Drew goddamned Mitchell.” 

As he emphasizes the name of the LSD Champion, Cornfield aims his fingers together like a gun, firing it toward Michael Lee Best. The Son of God is listening, but looks more than a little confused. 

“Drew?” Mike asks, puzzled. “I mean, I got no problem with Drew. Good kid. Respectful. One of Sunny’s kids. I know he’s the one who grabbed my legs last week, but shouldn’t I be more worried about Wit–” 

“No, you’re right.” James rolls his eyes. “I’ve only forgotten more about the wrestling business than even your Daddy ever knew, but you’re probably fuckin’ right. Maybe you oughta take all this money back and send me back to my little fuckin’ farm town so I can study up and maybe SOMEDAY have a singular idea what the fuck I’m talkin’ about.” 

He tucks his hands onto his knees, leaning in close and looking directly into the face of his client. 

“Listen to me, you little shitbird.” Cornfield sneers. “Last week, you told that little tea-sippin’ crumpet-stuffer that you had no issues with him, and I didn’t like it then. But I don’t give a Queen’s queef if you’re plannin’ to apply for citizenship and join the Royal fuckin’ Airforce, after he ripped you offa’ that apron last week, you officially have a problem with him.”

He steps up off the desk, moving closer to the champion and putting a wagging finger right in his face. 

“Your boy wants to be a Witness?” James snarls. “Then you let him bear fuckin’ witness, kid. I want you to dismantle little Droop in front of God, the world, and his fuckin’ tag team partner. I want you to make his shoulder declare independence from it’s goddamned socket and dump fifteen gallons of his blood into Boston fucking Harbor. See, with you, it’s always either personal or it ain’t, but it ain’t gotta be personal to be painful, and you need to make it fuckin’ painful. THAT’S how you get your momentum back. THAT’s how you put the fear back into Quiet Witless. THAT… is how you put your goddamned dick back on the table and re-establish the status quo, because right now you’re the fuckin’ Coronavirus, kid. Scary as fuck a couple of years ago, but these days ain’t nobody worried about gettin’ within six feet of ya.”

Michael hates to admit it. 

But it makes a lot of fucking sense. 

Two title defenses a quarter and a couple of random tag team matches might be prolonging his career in the physical sense, but it’s been dulling his edge– when is the last time that the Son of God openly told a guy he didn’t have any issues with him? The old Mike would make an issue with you. Make it personal. Do whatever mental gymnastics he had to do to make every match the most important match of his career, not just to sell tickets, but to hype himself up to perform. He’s getting soft. Last week he gave Noah Hanson fucking life advice. He told Drew Mitchell that they were cool. 

What the fuck

“Okay.” Michael nods, his eyes narrowing. “Yeah. You know what? Fuck that guy. I’m the motherfucker who beheaded Kostoff. I’m the motherfucker who left Max Kael for dead at the end of a rusty metal fucking pole. Little Jack Sparrow look-alike bitch. Little XPRO cumstain that dripped into an HOW ring and lucked into Jace having a case of the sads. I’m gonna beat the shit out of that limey fuck, and then I’m gonna serve him up to Solex with a thank you card.”

He clenches his fists, whole body tensed as he reaches toward the filing cabinet, ripping his HOW World Championship off the top and throwing it aggressively over his shoulder. 

“Who the fuck are you?” Cornfield shouts, hyping him up. 

“I’m the fucking champion.” Michael nods, through gritted teeth. 

“I SAID WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?” the manager repeats, much louder this time. 

“I AM THE HOW WORLD MOTHERFUCKING CHAMPION.” he snarls, slapping his hand against the title.

With a roar, MIchael Lee Best knocks the chair behind him over as he charges toward the office door. He bursts through the doorway, slamming the door behind him as he once again leaves James Cornfield grinning to himself at his desk. 

This is becoming a recurring theme. 

“It’s just…” Cornfield chuckles, to himself. “It’s so fuckin’ easy.