Pull on the new flesh like borrowed gloves, And burn your fingers once again

Pull on the new flesh like borrowed gloves, And burn your fingers once again

Posted on August 24, 2023 at 8:41 pm by Rhys Townsend

I feel the pressure of a thousand eyes staring at me,

They want to see me fall.


Yeah right man,

You won’t see me at all.

It would be the easiest thing in the world to sit and rage and just…stay home at this point, wouldn’t it? Got angry about losing a match I didn’t even give a fuck about two weeks before, but however you want to look at it, losing at pay per view hurts, right?

Especially given my history with them.

So perhaps that’s why I’m here today.

(Spoiler alert: It’s actually not.)

Here being the little warehouse I own. It’s not that much, really. Once it was a wrestling school, y’know? They called it a Dungeon. I trained here. Trent, too. If you really wanna drop names, then Rob Michaels/Michael DeNucci? He trained here, too.

But now?

Now it’s just a warehouse filled with some shit from my taco empire and one worn, but, believe me, perfectly serviceable ring. When you consider that at one point, this place was churning out wrestlers for the, well, inevitable churn of the independent scene under one name, and then went ahead and turned out some of the greatest professionals to ever lace boots in this sport, I do kind of feel ashamed that I’ve turned it into nothing more than a repository for memories. Somewhere around here is the bag I stuffed the five commemorative championships that they’ve given me. My Hall of Fame ring too.

Don’t quote me on that. I’m not sure.

I’ve never been one of those guys to have a trophy room. I’ve never really understood exactly why I’d want to go sit in a room and stare at the things I did. What am I supposed to get out of it?


“Oh yeah, I’m real good at doing a professional wrestle, look at all my shinies!”

Do you not think that if I wanted a trophy room full of shiny things, that at some point in my career, I might have decided to make a concerted run at the LSD Championship? Or the HOFC? Or the ICON? Or gone and wrestled in other federations? Let’s face it…I’m one of the most dominant wrestlers to ever step foot in a High Octane ring – not hyperbole, there’s a whole bunch of stats to back this up – if I wanted a room filled with trinkets, I’d have a room filled with trinkets.

But how’s that supposed to help me win my next match?

I’m not sure how sweeping the fucking floor in here is gonna help me win my next match either, but I’ve already cleaned the ring. And we don’t need anything else today. Somehow, I don’t think I’m going to be giving any lectures on techniques my opponents love to use today.

But regardless, this is going around, we’re taking all sorts of tangents…but the point I was originally making about the trophy room? I’ve made it a point of pride all my career to not sit on my achievements. Not to be that guy who’s banging on about what he did in the past and how it entitles him to something in the now, but you know what?

That’s exactly what I did. I figured just showing up and being Rhys Townsend would be enough.

It obviously wasn’t.

For John Sektor, the match obviously meant something, but to me, it was just another win I wanted to get out of the way so I could get on with the serious business.

But instead, I’m sat…well, no, stood, actually – here, in this warehouse, having resigned post War Games, having watched what feels like literally every single other wrestler who’s won a match or signed a contract in that period get a shot at whatever singles championship they’re chasing, but me?


Fuck all.

Oh no, wait…here, have a Tag Team Championship match. Yeah, sure, we know you give a shit about those belts, Rhys, we know you love tag team wrestling, but at the same time…nobody else gives a fuck about them.

It’s not exactly like there’s a long list of wrestlers queueing up to demand a shot at our Tag Team Championships, is it? Maybe other teams from outside of HOW, sure, but let’s be honest – they’re all seeing the opportunity to come perform in front of a real professional wrestling audience, to perform in the best wrestling federation on the planet. But people in HOW itself? They could not give two fucks about the belts. Or again, there’d be a list of teams lining up to challenge for the belts. Which as we’ve established…there isn’t.

And oh yeah, I’m ranked in the LSD Division now.

Which would be lovely if I gave even the slightest of fucks about that championship. I couldn’t give a shit if it’s the belt I need to complete my Triple Crown in HOW…I just don’t care about it.

It’s not the World Championship, is it? It’s just a secondary thing. “Oh, you’re real good at the wrestling, but you’re not real good enough to go wrestle for the big belt.”

And yes, I get that with Mike holding the belt right now, that’s not quite true. And I also think that if you booked Townsend vs Best for the LSD Championship on the same PPV card as a World Championship match…I don’t give two fucks who’s in that World Championship match, it would not main event that pay per view. But still. My point stands.

And y’know, I felt like I got shunted into random tag matches last period just to keep me from climbing the rankings too quickly. This? This feels like the same thing.

“Can’t give you anything good in singles Rhys, you’ve got tag team stuff going on, sorry.”

Work harder in the ring than anyone else, and what’s your reward?

You get shunted into a division you don’t want to be in, and given a match for the Championships that nobody seems to care about.

So we’re standing and raging about it instead. Wrestling for the tag team championships while a bunch of guys who didn’t put the work in you did get to go wrestle for the right to face Stronk at the next pay per view.


You’re probably gonna get another nothing singles match in the middle of the card. Perhaps it’s another one where you’re gonna be expected to carry the majority of the build, because you know, occasionally cutting a promo in the general direction of the other person and not even being in the same country as each other is just SUCH HYPE, GREAT BUILD, right?

Fuck off.

Do I want to be in this warehouse sweeping this fucking floor?

No. Not at all.

But nothing’s gonna change if I just sit at home and cry about it. No.

Maybe this is one of those times where I need to take a step back, take a deep breath and go again. I don’t think I’m wrong when I say I feel I should be in the World Championship scene. I don’t think it’s wrong that I couldn’t give two shits about the LSD Championship and find being ranked for it an insult. And I don’t think it’s wrong that I’m still pissed off that I had to work a match I didn’t give two fucks about. Or that I’m mad about losing. Or that I’m mad that I feel like I’m being deliberately shunted away from the World Championship.

But I can do two things with those thoughts, right?

Like how I can do two things with this brush – I can either go around the ring again, or I can just walk over to the wall and lean it there.

Nice brush. Good brush. You moved the dirt a couple feet away from where it previously was, and I appreciate you for that.

That fucking ring man…so many stories.

I can remember stepping inside it for the first time at 17, literally just showing up here because of a mate. Remember the gunshot that came out the first time I got slammed on it – literally a minute after stepping into the ring.

Can remember the pain that came almost immediately, too. The way he picked me up like nothing and just did it again. And then for a third time. And then turned to the other twenty two students and told them that’s exactly how to not take a flatback bump. Thanks mate, very big help right there!

Odd to think it became my life, regardless.

Can’t help myself at this moment, wondering towards it. Hop up on the same apron I sat on and watched hours of footage on my opponents when I was an 18 year old who was just pumped to be getting a steady paycheque.

Though this time it’s more just reaching for the battered backpack I drag everywhere these days. It was once camouflage…now it’s like, half camo, half dirt. One of those things where I should probably go buy a new one, but…this one ain’t broke yet, so why am I gonna spend money I don’t have to? It’s got a couple spliffs (which is what I’m going for), as well as my vape, which as you might expect, is already packed. But yeah, the prerolled spliff, that’s what I’m here for.

Past the snacks, around the speaker, just beyond the can of Monster is where the little pouch, filled with everything an overly anxious asshole needs to become as chilled and as horizontal as everyone thinks I am. Extract one spliff and one lighter, create fire and inhale.

Fuck, this shit is strong. Stare at the walls for three hours levels of strong.

But anyway…apologies for the slight diversion, but back to my point, right?

Two things. There are two things I can do with this anger I feel is legitimate and justified.

I can take my ball and go home. Stay home. Don’t bother showing up anymore. If professional wrestling ain’t gonna appreciate me, then I don’t need it. I can just let it go. Go back to the tacos. Live off what I’ve already done, cast my yearly Hall of Fame vote, maybe occasionally drop in to say hello, but fuck all else.

Or I can do the other thing.

I can be mad, sure, but I can also take a step back. Did I perform as well as I could at the pay per view? Did I give it everything?

Not even close.

And if I’m showing up for matches and putting in an effort like that when I don’t give a fuck, then really, I should be focusing in. I should be trying to make sure I give a fuck each and every single week. I should be showing up like it’s the World Championship match I want, even when it’s not.

(And if you’re one of the assholes who takes shots at me for talking about wanting the World Championship? Fuck you. One of us has desire to be the best and is confident enough to talk about it and one of us isn’t. Which one do you think you are?)

Doesn’t matter that I feel I’m getting this shot at the Tag Team Championships just so Lee Best can say he’s given me a shot at a Championship. Doesn’t matter that I feel I’m being kept away from the big matches, kept away from the things that actually get me excited, that give me a reason to want to show up beyond my love of professional wrestling…I need to turn up like they are that World Championship match.

Before I decided to halfass it, I was almost undeniable for a shot at the World Championship. Had I won…I don’t even think there’d be a debate. I think the match to headline the next pay per view would have already been set and we’d be building to it, not having some four way on Chaos to figure it out.

But I half assed it and he wrestled that match like it was the biggest of his career. I was more bothered about my own hubris than wrestling. So now we’re here. Again, I could dwell on this – and believe me, I have – or I can just take the lesson from it and move.

Don’t half ass it.

So we’re done with that. We reset this week, and we go again. New pay per view period. Sure, once again, my goal? Taken away from me because we have to follow the same formulaic build for the World Championship every time it’s not War Games – get the match booked week two…but that doesn’t mean I can’t achieve regardless. Doesn’t rule out the possibility of winning that Championship before the pay per view even rolls around. Doesn’t rule out beating the winner of the four way and, unlike last month, walking out on the next Chaos and demanding the World Championship shot I just earned.

If people think there’s gonna be some magical drop off just because I finally lost a singles match…then they quite obviously don’t know me.

Am I sitting here, filled with desire to walk out there and wrestle the best match of my life for the PWA Tag Team Championships?

Not gonna lie, no. It’d be nice to win them. I love Tag Team wrestling.

But wrestle for them like it’s the High Octane World Championship?

Again, won’t lie, probably not gonna happen. I mean, honestly, I’d be shocked if you could find a wrestler who’d do that. We all love to compete, we all want to be competing at the highest levels, and, deserved or not, half the time people just look at Tag Championships as an unworthy diversion. Something that’s gonna take up their valuable time.

But me?

I take pride in my abilities as a tag team wrestler. I take pride in the fact that I took the HOW Tag Team Championships to the main event of a pay per view. I take pride in my three reigns as a Tag Team Champion.

Remember before when I talked about how I don’t care about secondary championships? I mean…yeah. I generally don’t. But Tag Team Championships? Even with the unpredictability of relying on a partner, because who the fuck knows what partner you’re gonna get…yeah. I give a fuck.

I give many fucks about what I achieved with Ground Zero, about what I created with Evan Ward. Multiple World Champions in that faction. Multiple Tag Team Championships. Something that lasted past me, past it’s first leader leaving. Something that still echoes around certain corners of High Octane Wrestling, even. And maybe this week it’s not a case of getting to do this as Ground Zero, of reuniting, but it is with the guy I won the Championships with before.

Not that I know exactly what Evan Ward is gonna turn up here in a little bit. Or what Evan Ward turns up on Chaos.

Regardless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to it. Maybe people don’t talk about us as one of the greatest tag teams in HOW history, more bothered about our individual solo achievements, but personally, I’d put us up there. So getting to reunite, getting to challenge for Tag Team Championship Gold once again? (And yeah, I know, I know, it’s weird, even when I’m talking to myself, I still capitalise things like Tag Team Championship Gold. Welcome to the weirdness!)

Yeah. Gets me pumped. I’m usually pumped just to wrestle. Tack a little extra excitement on if there’s a championship or a shot at a championship at stake. And then add a little more – not World Championship levels of more – but a little – for a Tag Team Championship shot. Throw in the fact that I feel insulted to not be in a singles match, and insulted again because myself and Ward are not the betting favourites…(Or are we? Honestly man…I don’t understand American gambling. Too many numbers.) yeah. Yeah, I’m looking forward to getting in that ring on Sunday night.

And it’s not just that either, is it?

Nah, it’s two members of the Alliance. Two actual members, not ancillary ones or secondary ones or associate ones or whatever…I don’t know. There’s about 9 million, it seems. But not just two – I mean, maybe I should be excited to wrestle a legend like Jatt Starr, but that’s kinda whatever, to be honest with you. Who knows if it’s Acid Trip Jatt Starr or Actual Good Jatt Starr, y’know?

Nah, across from me is the man who’s sitting number one in the rankings and has, as far as I can tell, been there a while. Yet, like me, he’s not in that World Championship Contendership decider. If I’m honest…I find this more baffling than my own omission. Number one in the rankings, yet, somehow not worthy of a chance to earn the opportunity at the World Championship?

Honestly man, I’d fucking love to hear what he thinks of that. See if it’s just “oh no, I had a good career, I’m just a good soldier now”, or if he’s a legitimate competitor who’s pissed at being passed over for guys who are statistically worse than he is. Y’know? I’ve got a worse record than him, but I’m pissed off about being passed over for that match. I’d be goddamned nuclear if I was him.

My prediction?

Some Lee Best asslicking and something along the lines of “I’m happy with my place, I can’t wait to kick your ass.”

Be shocked if it was anything else.

But I mean, like I was saying…last period I did some shit. Beat people in matches I wasn’t expected to win. Fought my way up the top. This week, starting this period off with gold and the chance to beat the guy who sits at the very top of the rankings? Yeah. Because maybe he is nuclear about not being in that match. Maybe he does take his eye of things juuuuust a little bit this week, and maybe I get a pinfall on Dan Ryan. Probably not, not when you look at how fucking good the guy is, but still.

You live on optimism, right?

Maybe this isn’t the sort of shit that bothers most wrestlers. Maybe most people here are just bothered about working a nice story, having some feud that’s overly complex and involves fifty nine side characters and a whole little side universe you need to pay attention to if you want to have any hope of understanding what the fuck they’re talking about. Maybe everyone else is just happy to careen along, never really taking any control beyond showing up every week. Maybe everyone else is just happy, never angry, just embracing the fact that this is what they do for a living – something they’d probably do for free if they had to.

But me?

I can’t help myself.

I can’t sit here with my five World Championships and my Hall of Fame Ring and be happy and content.

(I mean, again…I think they’re around here somewhere? Maybe?

I don’t fucking know.)

I’m sorry…I just can’t. I can’t not be pissed off that I’m not wrestling for the World Championship. There’s not some magical switch in my head that I can turn on and off as I need it…it’s just always there. So maybe it’s the same as last month, right? I just keep clocking in and grinding away. I just keep showing everyone exactly how fucking good I am, week after week until I become undeniable. Same desire, same hunger, same need to do enough to get myself into the Hall of Fame for a second time.

Or maybe it’s different this period.

Maybe I’m not working towards a match at the pay per view this time – because one isn’t set. Maybe I’m not sticking my head so far up my ass I think the only thing that’s truly worthy of my time is the World Championship – because that’s fucking stupid.

Maybe, instead, I’m excited again. Engaged. Actually looking forward to the pay per view. Looking forward to stepping into the ring with this federation’s baddest Tag Team for the biggest prize available for a Tag Team. Looking forward to the chance to maybe add the LSD Championship to the list of shit I’ve won that I barely remember.

‘Cause that’s what it’s about, right? Sitting here, waiting for Evan to show up in whatever car he has, and find some fucking solution to his gimpy leg. Figure out some way we can win this week.

Perhaps this week can be another ground zero for Ground Zero.

Even if it’s not Ground Zero anymore. Even if it’s just now two guys who can barely stand each other teaming up to see if they still have what made them one of the greatest tag teams to step through the doors of High Octane Wrestling.


It’s like,

Rushing the trip,

Just to find,

I’m all alone at the top.

And I wanna turn around,

But there’s not enough time.


Feel The Pressure – Drain

Whatever – Hundredth