Wales never changes.
Pale grey sky, almost permanent rain…
…except, y’know, like anywhere else, it has it’s share of sunny days. Lately though…Wales has been in some sort of weird halfway house. It’s been warm, for October. Like, easily get away with wearing a teeshirt and shorts sorta mild slash warm, dear viewer. Almost getting up to twenty degrees, in real temperatures, where zero is where a thing freezes and a hundred is where water boils. Sensible units of measurement, you could say.
Either way, unseasonably warm. However, it’s just as cloudy as you might expect for a Welsh October, and they are the usual grey…they just…don’t rain. So it’s also, for Wales, unpleasantly humid.
I’m sure you’re starting to get the idea.
Today, we’re in a location that, dear viewer, should be becoming familiar to you, if you’re one who indulges in the adventures of Rhys Townsend on a regular, or even semi regular basis.
It’s the warehouse in “North Cardiff”. Or, y’know, Taffs Well. The converted warehouse…probably looks better than it has in quite a while. It’s storied walls are still largely unadorned, barring the one oversized neon illumination, advertising Rhys Townsend’s World Famous Tacos.The neon green “Townsend’s Taco Truck” is accentuated well by the weed leaf. The lamp slash light guy did good work. But the ring looks…well, it looks like it’s had a new canvas, apron, ropes, turnbuckles…I mean, they’re plain, unadorned, but they look new.
It is, when you think about it, dear viewer, somewhat odd. This is a place that trained our protagonist. Trained Trent. Has had a hand in training Evan Ward. Trained “Hollywood” Rob Michaels. But all it is now is a ring. The training home of a five time World Champion and Hall of Famer, sure…but a place that’s going to produce the next Hall of Famer?
Unlikely, given it’s not seen a rookie, or second, or third year wrestler in quite a while. A different Hall of Famer, sure, but someone who’s not even made their High Octane debut yet? Nah.
Maybe today is different.
Because surrounding the exercise bike are two other men, one of whom who actually looks like they might be a professional wrestler. Like their back may well have gone through the guncrack ritual that all wrestlers do, that their back has felt the burn of the ropes in bed at night after one particularly hard session earlier that day. The other? Dafydd.
Hardest thing that boy’s ever done was cleaning up his vomit after a night when he did the Lads In Magaluf.
Rite of passage for some Welsh boys, you know?
And the man on the exercise bike, twelve pack of tacos…well, I say twelve pack. It’s obvious that the box once contained twelve tacos, though now? Five. Five tacos left in the box of twelve sit on a table at a convenient height if you’re on the bike, next to a large bottle of what appears to be some obnoxiously blue coloured drink. One would hazard a guess that it’s isotonic, or a “sports” drink. There’s no label on the outside of the bottle because, well, nobody’s getting paid to stick a label on there so instead, noxious blue.
And the TV in front?
No, it’s not playing the latest Brian Hollywood footage. Instead it’s playing some wrestlers that are nor particularly worth naming here, wrestling in a Japanese style ring in what is, quite obviously Japan. Bit of the old puroresu, as they say.
Rhys Townsend sits on the bike, the Wales jersey he’s wearing soaked through with sweat, spackled with ash and taco dust, legs churning away at the pedals as he sits upright, utterly enraptured by the athletic contest displaying on the flat panel screen in front of him.
Dafydd speaks over the Japanese wrestling. If we’re being honest, it’s not particularly loud. Loud enough so you can hear the indecipherable shouting of the Japanese commentary team and the snare-like sound of a man taking a bump in a wrestling ring, but not so loud you can’t talk over it. He even looks like he’s attired to do exercise, though, the PSG jersey he’s wearing looks like it’s only ever seen awful dance moves in Revs on a Saturday night as it’s only athletic endeavour.
“…You just…hoping you’re gonna get thin if you do some cardio? Like, protein tacos?”
“Nah. Just normal tacos.”
The quiet yet firm voice of our protagonist, the former HOW World Champion and current #3 ranked wrestler, Rhys Townsend comes in reply.
“And I don’t really care mate. I hate running. The only running I want to do is when I run the ropes as part of the whole keeping ring fit thing, yeah? So this. This helps. And I don’t want the fuckin’ six pack, bro. I couldn’t give a shit about the six pack. And like…why the fuck are we even doing this, Dafydd? I’ve lost once. Once. One time. One singles match. Literally fucking it. Who cares if I got a little extra fat? Who gives a shit if it’s body by fucking tacos?!”
He builds to a crescendo, almost hitting the emotion, the intensity of the sort of promo he might cut backstage at a Friday Night Chaos before he goes out to wrestle for something he really wants. Silence descends over the pair and their unnamed friend. I mean, it’s obviously not true silence, the match having ended.
The entrances for the Japanese wrestlers start for the next contest, the guitar driven instrumental 80’s styled metal quietly piping out of the TV’s onboard speakers, the announcer occasionally cutting in with an over the top announcement. Again, Dafydd pipes up, the harshness of his Cardiff accent cutting through.
“Fine. Why this Japanese shit? Shouldn’t you be watching footage of Brian Hollywood?”
“What, you think I’ve just fucking forgotten the matches I’ve watched him wrestle? I’m at the fucking arena most weeks. Of course I’ve watched his shit. I know how he wrestles, just like he knows how I wrestle. Sure, I can spend hours pouring over things, and maybe I’ll figure out that this week, he might be a little more susceptible to a pinfall, because he’s not been kicking out very well lately. Or maybe he’s telegraphing his suplexes with a twitch of the right hand before he goes for the lift. Maybe he’s leaving a leg open, something perfect to be picked for a Single Leg. But maybe not. So perhaps I just wanna sit here and do some shit that you, and a whole fucking bunch of other people have been telling me to fucking do, because all of a sudden, Daf, all of a fucking sudden…all of this shit means everything again.”
There’s a grunt of assertion from the yet unnamed young man, as if he’s agreeing with Rhys. I mean, he probably is. Dafydd isn’t bothered by the rants coming out of his employer, looking unphased, feeling like it’s part of his job to be an absolute asshole and ask some awkward questions, if that’s what’s needed. Make sure everyone knows the reasoning. Make sure everyone’s on the same page and all that.
“Yeah, sure, that answers why not Hollywood footage, but again, why Japanese wrestling? What’s the point of this?”
“Yeah. Seems random.”
“Just ‘cause I like it mate. And I might pick up a few things. You never know. Always learning, you know? Japanese wrestling…there’s some good stuff in there for a wrestler like me, dude. Good stuff for a powerhouse.”
“Fair. So…who’s the dude? Not to be an awkward asshole or anything, but you gonna introduce me, or what?”
Townsend laughs, continuing to ride the bike. He leans back a little, nodding at his new accomplice. As if by magic, the young man produces two perfectly rolled cannabis filled spliffs, the cone looking beautiful. A lighter appears shortly after, and the man gets both spliffs going, before passing one to the High Octane Wrestling Machine.
More of a pause. Snare drum of the ring cracking away, the crowd and commentators riding the waves of the contest, getting ready to build to the crescendo that is the ending.
“I mean…Rhodri Rees. But yeah, Rhod Rees.”
“And he is…what, your weed guy?”
“Nah mate, the pharmacy is my weed guy. I mean, his weed guy is also the pharmacy so…but no, I mean, he can roll a spliff faster than any man I’ve ever met not named Trent, and his cones are almost Trent standard. Man was training at that wrestling gym over in Newport…six two, two forty, more agile than me. Nice moonsault, good Exploder. Decent German. You wanted me to get a training partner, so….”
Dafydd looks a little flustered, as regular viewers will know, he has attempted to foist his own training partner on Rhys. An Australian named Sturt…some people like the Australian accent, and some people don’t. I would guess it’s a fair assumption that Townsend is someone that doesn’t. Dafydd eventually collects himself, before composing his reply.
“What was wrong with Sturt? He was doing alright on the Australian scene, starting to get interest from Japan…”
“Yeah, exactly. He got a booking in Japan. Like, what, you want me to tell him no? I chucked that dude loot for a hotel and a decent flight and wished him well. Six week tour. He should have a decent chance. And, y’know. That accent.”
There it is.
“So I figured, rather go get someone local. Someone…no offence dude…”
Townsend nods at his new friend as he says that, Rhod Rees deciding to speak up for the first time.
“None taken bro.”
His generic South Welsh accent is tempered by the fact that he’d literally just inhaled a deep toke of his smoke, but still. He seems to go back to silence as Townsend continues his earlier sentence.
“…who ain’t shit. They aren’t gonna take bookings elsewhere.”
“Fair. I can see the logic. Cheaper too, I bet.”
Silence falls over the three again, the obligatory whizzing of the bike barely audible over the wrestling on the screen. This, dear viewer…would be a good time to leave our protagonists, I feel, as the Japanese wrestling is building for it’s main event, the entrances about to fill Sumo Hall with their splendour.
That’s the sort of thing that Rhys Townsend will tolerate no interruption of.
So we leave him, focused as he’s ever been, gesturing for a laptop…something to write some thoughts down on.
Hello Brian, it’s been a little while, hasn’t it?
If you want to be precise, it’s been ten editions of Chaos and one #97Red.
Do you remember? Chaos 035? We teamed up? Took on the Final Alliance? Y’know…Mike and Sektor? We lost? Remembering now…?
‘Cause, y’know, I guess some of the loss is on me, right? We were a team, I could maybe have done more – like not even bothering to let you tag in at all – and we might have won. But…I didn’t do that, you got your ass kicked and we lost. I took my first loss on since my return at War Games and it was your fault, if we’re assigning blame in an impartial fashion.
Weird how things stick in your head like that sometimes, ain’t it?
So now. Chaos 046. One on one.
I get that you’ve got a list of achievements that some would be jealous of here in this federation, and, believe me – I know if I take my eye off the ball at all, you’ll pounce, and I’ll lose…but let’s be honest here, Brian.
Are you gonna treat this match like what it actually is?
I don’t mean the one where you get all Scott Stevens delusional because I’m aware of the threat you pose, and think we’re facing each other as equals, like we’re somehow kinda on the same level.
No, I mean the one where you stop and look at this match objectively.
Maybe you want to look at the history. Perhaps you’re gonna go visit the Stevens Archive of All Things High Octane, and remind yourself of exactly how dominant I was a decade ago. How I got my Five World Championships – not by competing with people like you, but on a level above that – going toe to fucking toe with Mike Best, and not coming out 0-2, or whatever the fuck it is for Fuse, but actually winning those matches.
Or maybe you can’t be fucked to deal with the stench of ProBoards that comes with all things Scott Stevens…maybe you just want to stick to HOWrestling.com, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did.
But you don’t have to go far. You can see the Wrestler of the Month award I’ve already picked up this year. You can go look at the standings page…again, not like you’ve gotta go far. I’m right there, third place. Can check the singles record – seven matches, six wins, one loss. As far as I’m aware, I’m the only signee since June who hasn’t had a one on one shot at a Championship so far…and I’m pretty sure you know why that is, but I’ll emphasise – because I’m in a Number One Contenders match to main event ICONIC for the World Championship. I’ve skipped over the other Championships and gone straight for the big one.
…are you starting to understand, or should I just fuckin’ directly address the big ass pink and yellow spotted elephant in the room at this point?
Realistically, Brian, unless I fuck up, what’s the best you can hope for, here? Again, ruling out fuck ups.
I’ll give you a minute.
..no, it’s not a heroic underdog victory.
No, it’s that old fuckin’ tired trope of “A Good Showing.”
And yeah, I hate saying it as much as you’re gonna hate hearing it. But let’s be fucking real, dude. I am not just “some” former World Champion. I am not just any Hall of Famer. What I have been saying, subtly or otherwise since I returned is that there are levels, right? Sure…there’s Mike. I don’t dispute it. Everyone has goals, right? Mine is him. Some of his records. Get closer to his ten. Or eleven, maybe, by the time I get a shot at that belt. But everyone else? And I mean literally anyone you care to name who has ever passed through the doors of the Best Arena, Brian.
They’ve all won less World Championships than me. Hell, I’d bet good tacos that my winning percentage is better than theirs, while we’re at it.
Perhaps you’re gonna go to what everyone else has been saying – that I’m just blowing hot air. Chatting shit. And I get it, it’s fine, you gotta have that self confidence that you’re gonna be able to take that guy down, right? But c’mon. Be fucking real for a minute, dude. A good showing is genuinely the best outcome you can hope for.
Because maybe, with some other people, what you’re currently thinking? You’d be right. They would be overconfident…but that would also mean that you, Brian, along with this hypothetical other wrestler, would be shortsighted.
I am well aware you are no slouch. Like I said, if I fuck up? I could well lose. I will have to turn up and wrestle the best match I fucking can if I want to win…but this isn’t just some meaningless throwaway match for me, mate. I know, I know, it’s just a random singles match on a random Chaos as we come up to the pay per view period…maybe I’ll get booked again next week, maybe I’ll get it off and this is my last chance for in ring action before we go to Lee’s place.
(I thought he lived in Chicago, rather than Miami, but hey.)
But it’s not just the random singles match to keep my eye in, is it? ‘Cause if we wanna circle back around for a minute, I mentioned the rankings not so long ago.
Yeah…those bad boys.
Do you see Dan Ryan booked this week? No, me either. Shane Reynolds is, though. De Lacy and Sektor are also wrestling, and my good friend Evan Ward could move joint 10th with a win, I think…I dunno. I’m too fucking high to work out Ward’s permutations right now, but rest assured, it’s 100% a thing I will be doing on my flight over to Atlanta. Regardless, my rankings point? I beat you, and I go second. I go seven, one and oh, as they say.
Again, for emphasis…I go second.
So I cannot halfass it this week…I cannot just about barely pull out the victory like Mike did against Carey last week, y’know? I have to treat you as seriously as the match for my sixth World Championship.
Because that…that’s what it is for me at this point. One more match. One more step closer to the thing each and every single one of us wants in this federation. I mean, maybe you can say, ah yeah, sure, I’ve won it, I’m good, I’m just here because it’s fun…
…but we both know that becomes utter fucking bullshit you find yourself in something that might get you a shot at the World Championship. Or just a straight shot at the World Championship. And I do not want to walk into ICONIC with any doubt. I want every single motherfucker in the federation to understand – from you, Brian Hollywood, to Jace, to de Lacy, to Fuse, to Ward, to Sektor, to Mike – every motherfucker here – that I will deserve that shot I am going to earn. That I should be the one who challenges for the World Championship at the biggest professional wrestling show we put on.
And how do I do that?
I do that by being Rhys fucking Townsend.
I do that by being a guy who gets billed as the Wrestling Machine by Lee Best. Think on that for a moment. The man has been in this business how long, seen how many wrestlers sign contracts for him, and who does he think of when he thinks of a machine between those ropes?
So don’t waste our time, mate. Brian. Please. Don’t go talking to the guy you found at the local indie show and convinced to be your Big Business Buddy (because c’mon bro, Niles Omega is the most high school indy wrestler name I’ve heard for time.), who’s gonna tell you that plans are in motion to do a thing with the super secret Luxembourgian mafia that’s gonna pay Big Business Bucks. Please. Be serious for once. Embrace the fact that you’re a professional wrestler in the biggest company for that shit on planet Earth for once.
Go fucking train.
And treat this match like what it is. One that you should be training for, one that you should be watching endless hours of footage. One of those things where you tell your butler that you’ve got shit to take care of, even though you know you’re probably gonna fucking lose. One where you just hope you can do enough so you don’t look like an absolute fucking ass on worldwide television.
Because, Brian, like it or not – and I know, you probably don’t – I know half the federation is rolling their fucking eyes at this point – but I am one of the fucking greatest of all time.
And why am I a machine?
Because I prove that shit every single fucking time I step in that ring.
It will be no different.