Look around and it feels at times that no one really cares,
It gets me down but I’m still gonna try to do what’s right.
I know that there’s,
A difference between sleight of hand,
And giving everything you have.
There’s a line drawn in the sand,
I’m working up the will to cross it.
I know that this is the point where I should go ahead and talk shit. I’m sure that, if he can be bothered to show up for this match, that it’s pretty much what he’s gonna do. He’ll take an almighty dump over me from the greatest of heights, he’ll relentlessly put himself over while making a big deal out of beating a guy he’s just been telling everyone is worth absolutely nothing in this business.
It’s what he’s done for the entire build of this match, after all.
Maybe we’ll hear more about how he’s the “heart and soul” of Ground Zero, of how it was “never the same without him”, maybe some other bullshit along those lines. I mean…I wouldn’t be shocked, though, honestly? I felt like I was pretty plain before when I talked about it. You missed the point of the stable back then, John, because you laboured under the delusion that it was about making this place all about professional wrestling. Which…if you really were the heart and soul of Ground Zero, like you claim to be, then you’d know that, no, it was NEVER about that. All it was was something simple and pure – about celebrating our love for this sport. All of it’s aspects, be they professional wrestling or sports-entertainment. And again, I’ll say it once more – all you were to me and Ward – the two guys who actually founded Ground Zero, the two guys who are actually the heart, soul and brains of Ground Zero – was a hired gun that management talked us around into because we weren’t sure who else to recruit and we wanted to be a trio. A stable. Not just a tag team. That was literally it. If management had decided that day we asked if they had any suggestions, that Scott Stevens would have been a good suggestion…guess what? We’d have gone after Stevens. And Silent Witness? He was never a founding member, because, y’know…I literally just talked about who founded it. But a member of the definitive lineup? The one that literally everyone but you thinks of when they think of Ground Zero?
See, I fired these exact shots before. I said these exact same things before, but I get the feeling that you just won’t understand, John. So I’ll make them again. And again. Because while you and others might make the comparison that we’re similar…I’d disagree. Like I said before, the difference between us is simple. I’m a leader, he’s a follower. Sektor does what others have already done. Sometimes he does it better than those who came before, and other times, he does it worse. Me? I do my own thing, if that’s not become horrifically obvious yet.
But this match has me questioning that.
I don’t think, if you keep up with these missives when I post them, or if you’re a, y’know…Townsend mark in general, it’s not really a big secret that I don’t want this match. Fuck, I think I’ve even said as much publicly. It bores me. The idea of going against a guy who’s the exact same fucking gimmick I remember from ten years ago because he’s decided to come back for a Hall of Fame jolly? I would have despised the match ten years ago, and, like Sektor – I haven’t changed in the last decade, I despise it now. The fact that I’m also a Hall of Famer doesn’t change anything for me. Because if you figure I’m back on a Hall of Famer celebratory run at this point, then I’m honestly not sure what else I can do or say to you to prove otherwise. Especially given that I just wrestled more matches than anyone else on the roster over this buildup to 97Red. Shall I mention the Wrestler of the Month award again? The “dream return”?
You get my point.
Which is also the exact same point that has me questioning myself.
Jace said it right before I beat him. He felt like he HAD to win, or else he was gonna have to deal with me inserting myself into the World Championship match. He’s not wrong, y’know…it’s a thing I’ve done before. He might have hated it then, hates the thought of it now, but I earned my way into those matches. I made my case for wrestling for the biggest prize in the game undeniable – the exact same way I’ve done this period.
I don’t think anyone would have a legitimate argument if I am the next man in line for a shot at the High Octane Wrestling World Championship, I just have to get through this match with John Sektor first, right? Which, as we’ve just mentioned, is a match that bores me. That I don’t really want.
So…are you starting to see where I’m coming from?
Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been in this match with Sektor, and yeah, Jace was right – I would have gotten myself inserted into the World Championship match. Maybe at his expense, maybe it woulda just become a triple threat…but you get what I’m saying. Yet this Rhys Townsend, 2023 Rhys Townsend didn’t. Instead, I just sat there and did the same thing I’ve been digging at people for – I was passive. I just let it happen. I didn’t walk out on Chaos and demand to be put into the World Championship match because I earned that right with my dominance in the ring, instead I went and cut a promo that I really wasn’t motivated for, because like most other people in this company, I love my job, I enjoy doing it and I like the bonus I get from ticket sales. And the extra merch loot. And the better sales at whatever fuckin’ Taco operation I have going there…
…still gotta find out who blew up my fucking truck.
But yeah. So perhaps now you understand why I’m questioning myself. I get that, when you come back after time away, you’re likely to be missing a step. Not quite what you were before. I mean…I generally disagree, and I think my body of work so far would also like to disagree with you. I think I might be better than I was. But this? This match makes me wonder if I am. Makes me wonder if I have lost a step.
Because me and you, random asshole who’s reading this shit…we both know that if we’re handing matches out on merit, I shouldn’t be facing John Sektor. And let’s be straight here – while it might be a fun thing, Rhys Townsend versus John Sektor in isolation, as an aforementioned one off Hall of Fame jolly, it ain’t so great when it isn’t. It’s a bit of a shit match, especially when you think about it from my point of view. Shall we lay it out? Let’s lay it out.
Outside of another singles victory, and a singles victory over a guy who’s wrestled a single tag team match, and whatever fucking name value John Sektor has left, what, exactly, do I have to gain? Given I care about beating Sektor the same amount as I care about beating Stevens, or Zion, or some part timer, that ain’t really a factor in this, so, again, what do I gain?
I’ll wait – see if you can come up with more than “Fuck All.” Because I can’t. At best, I can retain my hard work up to this point.
Losing, though? That could be painful. Could set me back a couple steps on my way to the World Championship. And yes, Stronk, and whatever Best family member you cart around, if you retain, I’m coming for that belt. Could make me do a whole bunch more work. Might even send me towards one of the other championships or Stevens or something. Who fucking knows?
So imagine you’re me. You’ve got a pay per view match you’ve never cared about, you just let a chance to try and get out of it pass you by, and now you’ve gotta defend all your hard work from the last two months with literally no other benefit to victory.
On a Pay Per View.
Maybe you think every match at every event is the same, and I should be just as motivated for each and every single match, but when you spend two months building to get a match at one of these events so you can advance yourself, advance your career to get a match where you can do neither, merely maintain the status quo?
It fucking sucks.
But I have to block that out. I have to find it in me to decide that I’m gonna go do all I can to make sure that this is the best fucking match of the night. To go work in the ring for hours, make sure that I am on fucking point, the same way I have been every single time my name has been on the match card. I have to finish making the statement I set out to make when I returned, the same statement people uttered ten years ago when they saw their name opposite mine on the match card, the same statement people are starting to utter these days.
“Oh shit…Rhys Townsend.”
I have to go ahead and live up to the billing I’ve been getting. That I’m not just another Hall of Famer. Not just another former World Champion.
I have to go ahead and show why I’m the brains of Ground Zero.
To show why I was, and am High Octane Wrestling’s One True Monster.
Why I am HOW’s Finest Homegrown.
To live up to Lee Best billing me as High Octane’s Wrestling Machine.
That’s what I’ve gotta keep reminding myself of. Not digging at my faults. Just reminding myself of the challenge in front of me. Don’t dwell on the match I don’t want against an opponent that straight up bores me, just look at it as another chance to go live up to another weighty bunch of expectations. Because that’s what I’ve done since I walked back through that curtain, and it’s what I’ll do every single fucking time I walk through it. It’s what I’ve done every single time I’ve stepped through the curtain.
Because this is what I do. This is who I am.
Because I am a machine.
Not a part time, turn up when I fancy it, attempt to get opportunities I don’t deserve machine.
But a real life goddamned fucking wrestling machine. The type that wins matches with relentless efficiency. The type that wins those matches with moves most wrestlers consider “too simple” to win a match.
The type of Wrestling Machine that makes you tap the fuck out.
Rhetoric can’t raise the dead,
I’m sick of always talking,
When there’s no change.
Rhetoric can’t raise the dead,
I’m sick of empty words.
“So you see, Senor Rice Townshed…we gave you warning, ese, we told you we were coming for your taco truck…”
The large finger of Rhys Townsend jabs at the screen of the battered iPhone that he probably should have upgraded two or three years ago, rather than just switching to some SIM only contract, no handset. Bit of a cheap bastard, dear viewer, considering that he could easily afford a new phone. But then again, these professional wrestlers, notoriously thrifty bunch, so the tales go.
Either way, as you may expect at this juncture in time, we find ourselves in Australia. In Melbourne, somewhere near the waterfront – it is, at the least, a thing we can see in the near distance. And while to a Welshman, this may well be “wear your Gareth Bale jersey and a pair of shorts” weather, to an Australian, it’s winter. So our large, portly professional wrestler of a protagonist is clad in just such a shirt, the jersey doing an impressive job of not conforming too closely to the sort of body that a diet of tacos and weed brownies will bring. He’s not alone. His slightly younger, horrifically more fashionable friend, Dafydd is clad, like…well…have you ever seen a British lads holiday? Yeah? Pretty much that. Horrific polo shirt, naturally buttoned all the way up, horrific shorts…you get the picture. And along with them is a third man – and we can tell from the fact that he’s wearing trousers and a hoodie – or pants if you’re American – that he’s Australian.
Like I said…it’s winter for them.
The three of them are out on the balcony of the apartment that we can safely assume our protagonist has rented for the duration of his stay in Australia. One always like to have a base, after all, and the phone is leaning up against just one of many tubs of Australia’s finest medicinal cannabis.
“This motherfucker man…he fucking Tweeted this shit at me. TWEETED. I don’t even know what the fucking password is for my Twitter anymore, I only got this because I randomly decided to check my fucking emails…”
“Alright bro, calm down man, calm down…”
The finger jabs forward again, smacking into the screen. It’s a small miracle the contents of the table don’t go flying, given the force behind the poke.
Fingerpoke of Doom indeed.
“We gave you the warning after we did your shop in, hombre, but you didn’t listen. You didn’t listen! You continued blaspheming against tacos!”
Again, another aggressive jab, this one enough to knock the phone from it’s precarious balance on a tub of weed. The weed naturally goes flying over the table, and Townsend’s reflexes? Well, despite his size, they’re well honed. And you could say the man has a sneaky turn of speed…because somehow, defying the odds, not a single bud hits the floor. Some fly across the table, but…the ones that wanted to go for a trip? They get caught.
“The motherfucker has the worst Mexican accent I have ever heard in my fucking life, Daf. And he’s white! And his fucking luchador mask…I mean, what fucking cheap ass DHGate Chinese bullshit seller did he pay five bucks to that for? It’s fucking AWFUL.”
The phone is righted soon after the weed is restored to it’s rightful place in the tub. This time, it’s leant against the ashtray. A more secure thing, you might say. The finger jabs forth once more, the badly filmed footage once again springing to life, cutting Dafydd off mid sentence.
“So we came for your truck, hombre. Your truck. But does that stop you from blaspheming? No! Still you perpetrate war crimes against tacos, still you force your crab leg tacos on the people…still you do not heed our warning! So you see, homes, we’re close. Real close. The Taco Liberation Front is close enough to start fucking with your wrestling, hombre…but don’t even think about coming for us! Don’t even dream of it!”
Townsend snorts as he lights up the spliff he’d been rolling while El Terroristo delivers his latest taco threats.
“Because our secret lair, ese? It’s surrounded by the ocean, by fucking sharks! Great White! Tiger! Tiger Great White! Our scientists, they breed the deadliest sharks, the fiestiest drop bears…”
The as yet unnamed Australian man interjects, the Australianness of him becoming horrifically obvious as he does speak.
“Drop bears! Ahh, mate, that cunt’s gotta be in Straya!”
But the video continues rolling on, captivating the trio.
“…and the most killer kangaroos you could see, hombre. We feed them on your tacos, to make sure they are angry and hungry for fat Welshmen, ese! We will take all your tacos! FREEDOM FOR TACOS!”
And just like that, we’re staring at a spinning Taco Liberation Front. If I may pass comment, dear viewer, I’d say that this really looks like it was created by a man with all the photoshop skills of a degenerate toddler, it really is that bad. Nevertheless, a silence falls over the three men, only the occasional inhale or exhale punctuating the city noise that fills the air. Dafydd, The Numbers Guy is the one to break it, his Cardiff accent doing a very bad job of attempting to softly insert itself and create gentle conversation.
If you’ve ever heard a Cardiff accent, viewer, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Loves it, I does.
(That’s sarcasm. Just in case.)
“Soooo…not actually planning to go after this motherfucker, are you?”
“You’re gonna ask that fucking question? After the motherfucker blew up MY FUCKING TRUCK?!”
The sudden explosion of anger takes the other two men back a little. Rhys takes a moment to calm himself, puffing away as he’s visibly collecting himself, forcing himself to be calm.
“Yes, Dafydd, I’m going to go after that fucker.”
“But you don’t even know where he is!”
“Your mate here seems to think he’s in the country. Just gotta figure out what fucking island. Dumbass said he was close to here, so…”
“Rhys, all of fucking Australia is an island!”
“I mean, we prefer continent, cunt.”
Again, the Australian interjects, only to get a snappy reply from the Cardiffian.
“Sturt, shut the fuck up. You’re not helping. Rhys, you have a fucking pay per view match against John Sektor and you’re talking about, what, going off on some fucking crazy expedition like you’re goddamned Trent?!”
“Yeah. Exactly that.”
“And you’re not worried about throwing away all your hard work because you couldn’t keep your eye on the ball and train the same way you’ve actually done training for every single other match you’ve had? Not worried that a change in routine is gonna bring defeat?”
“Nah. Don’t think so. I feel like I gotta go do this, Dafydd. Fucker destroyed my taco truck.”
“Yeah, and thank FUCK for medicinal cannabis, right? Else I get the feeling we’d be having to pay for a new table when we leave. But is now really the time? Again, you don’t even know where he is!”
Townsend pauses for a second, seeming to contemplate this information on a very deep level. And, dear viewer, you know when a stoner is contemplating something on a deep level, you know it’s deep. There’s a chance they might not come back to the conversation…or worse, they might start a long and almost incomprehensible ramble that does nothing other than confuse you.
“No…maybe I don’t. But that fucker you brought is clearly Australian. He must know what islands are close to here…plus I fucking saw some on the plane on the way in. So I know they exist. And I know he’s on one of ‘em.”
“Yeah, but even so mate, those islands are fucking big. And you have a pay per view match!”
“And I got a thing to do before it. No big deal. I am well aware of who John Sektor is and what he’s capable of, Dafydd. I might be bored by the match, but that doesn’t mean I’m not trying. And who’s to say that a little expedition wouldn’t get me into tip top fighting shape, eh?”
“Or killed by a spider. Or a snake. Or a shark or…fuck knows, Rhys. It’s Australia. Whole fucking place is trying to kill you.”
“Noted. Now, you…”
Townsend points at the stereotypical looking Australian. Y’know. Messy blond hair. Bit of stubble. AFL hoodie, some random adidas tracksuit pants and some thongs.
No, not those thongs. Like…sandals? Australians call them thongs for some godforsaken reason. I’d at this point, be tempted to make some remark about their lack of culture, but one does have to give them some leeway, dear viewer. They do live on the wrong side of the planet, after all.
“Sturt mate. Good to meet ya, how ya goin’?”
“How am I going?”
“Yeah, how ya goin’ ya cunt?”
“Uhh…mad? Angry? I mean, if you’re asking how I am.”
“Yeah. Exactly that. You reckon we should go get that cunt?”
“Ah! See, Dafydd, this one, he listens! I like it.”
Dafydd merely sighs and shakes his head.
“Yeah, he’s a promising local wrestler. Figured you could do with a regular training partner. Maybe someone to help keep you in shape…lose a bit of weight?”
“Yeah mate, and maybe get myself a coupla nice indie bookings. Be sweet mate. Big fan.”
Townsend chuckles at this point, finishing up what’s left of his smoke.
“Right. So Sturt…you reckon you know where you’d hide if you’re some Poundland evil genius wannabe like this asshole?”
“Yeah mate, King Island, she’d be right. Not many cunts there, Great Whites been spotted around, perfect place for a cunt to go set up an evil lair.”
“And you fancy coming along? Helping me out?”
“That’s what you cunts are paying me for, right? And, ya know, you’re a top cunt. I might learn something.”
“A top cunt?”
“Yeah mate, a top cunt. Ya know, like a proper decent bloke.”
“Oh. Yeah. So…you reckon we can find the fucker?”
“Yeah, no dramas.”
“And you know where we can get equipment for this expedition? Helicopter, giant ass knife, large supply of tacos…”
“Again mate, no dramas. I’ll take care of it, she’ll be right.”
Dafydd sighs loudly, interjecting himself back into the conversation.
“Rhys, really? You know what could happen if you lose. All that hard work…”
“It’ll be fine, Daf. Look, I got a native to guide me, like you’re supposed to do when you go on some crazy expedition…”
“Your life is not a fucking 1980’s action movie, Rhys…”
“No, I know. But I know what I’m doing. I mean, I don’t, but I know that I don’t know what I’m doing, therefore, I know what I’m doing.”
“You are not gonna fool me with some twisted stoner logic. C’mon bro, it’s a huge match! I get you don’t give two shits, and yeah, you are right, he has been lazy…but you can’t guarantee he’ll continue to not give a shit. He might train harder than he ever has before!”
“And I’ve never gone on a fucking expedition before, so guess what, Daf? I will be too! Look…I’ll go a few with Sturt before we set off, after he’s arranged everything, alright? Get a bit of ring time in. That good?”
“No, Rhys, it’s not. We both know you should be training. Properly. But I appreciate the gesture.”
“Good. Then you don’t need to worry.”
Townsend’s smile is almost patronising, but not quite. His finger jabs out at Sturt, continuing to speak.
“You need to go organise a chopper, expedition gear, tacos, weaponry, and then you also need to text me the address of some place that’s got a ring where we won’t get bothered. Got it?”
There’s a nod from the Australian, and this, dear viewer, is the point where we part. We could hang around further on this balcony, but honestly, from this point on, it’s pretty much just gonna be Rhys Townsend smoking weed. Possibly eating tacos, but, generally, doing very little of interest. But, given that the man appears to be planning some cannabis fuelled excursion to a small Australian island, perhaps we ought to check in soon?
But for now, you could well call this farewell.
We brought you people the fruit and the seed,
Every little letter that was written in defeat,
Feed the machine (Feed the machine)
All that it needs (All that it needs)
Feed the machine (Feed the machine)
All that it needs
Thrice – The Artist In The Ambulance
Thrice – The Artist In The Ambulance
Zeal and Ardor – Feed The Machine