Dear High Octane Wrestling,
This should be something you’re used to. You may well consider it a Mike Best thing, writing to you as if it’s 2003 and I’ve got a LiveJournal, or, perhaps you’re a fan of an older vintage and you know that, well, pretty much everyone used to do it back then.
You just can’t always get the television time, nor the clearance to say what you want to say. And, if we’re being honest about things, we’re professional wrestlers. Of COURSE we’re going to be overly verbose. Of course we’re going to talk too much – we are, after all, at our hearts, salespeople. We want you to buy the reams of merch we produce, and, more importantly, we want you to buy our matches on the pay per views. Y’know?
Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes you genuinely hate the person you’re being booked against, and so, talking shit at them – working yourself up over the idea of getting to commit legalized assault at the next event on that person? Easy.
Other times you genuinely like them. You want to be working them. You don’t wanna give them the easy win, but you want to make sure that the match is so good, win or lose, it’s gonna elevate the pair of you. And talking shit to build this match? That’s also really easy. When isn’t it easy to bust on your mates?
But then there are matches against wrestlers where, if you’re honest with yourself? You just don’t care. You want the match over, the feud done, whatever – because you want to move onto the next thing. You want to move onto a feud you enjoy.
(Yes, we do enjoy our jobs. We have to, right? Else what’s the point of sacrificing your body so you can have some fights for money in front of people? There’s easier ways to earn a dollar. C’mon.)
You get that it’s part of the business, right? These boring matches where you just don’t care. Sure, maybe if you spend fucking hours thinking, obsessing over it, you can – you can figure out some reason to care. But it’s not natural. It’s not organic. It’s not something that motivates you, makes you want to be the best you, put on the best match possible. And maybe the fans really give a fuck about it, want to see it.
It’s just something that gives you reasons to do the thing. It doesn’t make you want to do it. Doesn’t make you enthusiastic.
So, what are you rambling about here, Rhys? The tag match?
No, I’m not rambling about that. If we’re gonna be frank, it seems like there’s approximately five hundred people in the match, I haven’t been able to get a complete list of the competitors from anywhere, though maybe that’s just because I’m too stoned and can’t navigate HOWrestling.com as well as someone sober might be able to, or maybe it’s just because management can’t be fucked to write all of the names out. Or, maybe, frankly, I don’t care enough about who’s in it…’cause, well…there’s very little to say about it other than it’s gonna be absolute fucking mayhem.
So if I wasn’t talking about the tag match, then what?
Honestly? John Sektor.
If the PPV match hadn’t been booked already, I would be quite happy to let that attack slide. Wasn’t particularly much of anything, given we’re in the business of professional wrestling, and further to that point, we’re in High Octane Wrestling so…y’know. It’s a nothing, really. But no, the match got booked.
Against John Sektor.
I cannot emphasise enough that, being totally honest with you, I’d rather stay at home and attempt to gnaw off my own foot.
I’m sure he can sit there and tell you about how awesome he is, but whatever, man. All I can tell you about John Sektor is that I’d rather have absolutely fuck all to do with him. He can go do his thing, I can do mine and we’ll all be happy. But no, can’t have that. Have to have a pay per view match.
It’s almost like Lee wants me to quit before 97Red. Almost like he’s scared. Worried. That maybe actual, show up every week and wrestle like the fucking machine I am Townsend is back, so he’s figured the way to do it is to give me a match that I couldn’t give a fuck about. That I’d frankly, rather not have. Get me to fuck off home in the easiest of ways.
But that’s not the plan.
So I’m steeling myself to hear the same moustache and piss puns I heard 10 years ago, because maybe they’ve been tired so long they’ve become fresh. To hear about how he was the driving force behind Ground Zero, when the facts – the shoot – is that neither me nor Ward really wanted him, and, despite what I’ve heard him say, he had nothing to do with the creation of the stable. Worst member we’ve ever had? Easily. And yes, I count the random fuckers who’s name I don’t even remember as better. At least they understood the concept.
And to hear the same promos I heard ten years ago about how great Lee Best is and how much he loves the Alliance…because immediately coming back into the safety blanket that is the Alliance isn’t lazy, or even cowardly, is it?
Of course not. This is The Gold Standard, John Sektor! Never cowardly, always amazing…’cept when he’s busy on drug rehab or some shit.
Still waiting for the “Thank you for reviving my career by letting me into Ground Zero” card, for the record. We both know your claim to fame prior to GZ was the Golden Flakes commercials that ran like, every other week on HOW programming.
So what’s the point of this, Rhys? Why are you rambling about John Sektor, when you’re in a big ass raging tag team match this week?
Because, if it’s not become horrifically obvious at this point, I’m pissed off I’ve gotta waste some of my life on a pay per view match that bores the absolute fuck out of me. And, because, the most important thing here?
Because all of this bullshit about Sektor is just that – bullshit. It doesn’t particularly matter if I want to face him or not, because if I’m being 100% honest about you…I couldn’t give two shits who I face. It’s about what I do, what I put into my work, my art in that ring. And if I’m this motivated, this fired up to go do a match that, on a personal level, I’m not fussed about, then how do you think I feel about getting to team with an old friend this week?
Fuck and yeah.
That’d be pretty fucking accurate. So consider this, like, a warning to the other two hundred and fifty five dudes in the match. If you haven’t been watching the product…well…I’m motivated. I’m back. I’m on the hunt for that sixth championship. Come prepared. By the time Chaos rolls around, I’ll actually have figured out exactly who’s in the fucking match and done my research…but y’know something?
I don’t think it’s gonna matter that much.
See, cause I hear everyone talking about me being in fourth or fifth gear. About how, oh shit…this might be THAT Townsend again. I listen.
But I disagree. I feel like I’m in second or third. That I’ve still got a whole bunch of rust to shake, some big fucking improvements to come. And every time I step in that ring, I get a little better. A little closer to shifting into the figurative actual fourth gear.
So lemme finish by saying two things. Firstly…it doesn’t matter if I go 2-1 or 3-0 this week. I will improve. I will become better, and I promise I will push harder than I have the last two weeks. You might think you’re getting the old Townsend right now, but believe me – there’s more to come.
And secondly? Before Chaos, I will again, send a request to management asking for another match next week. Because yeah, I am gonna wrestle four weeks in a row, if they don’t cockblock me.
When was the last time you could say you wanted something this much?
Marvel at his tricks,
Need your Sunday fix!
Blind devotion came,
Rotting your brain!
Join the endless chain,
Taken by his glamour!
Right smack bang in the middle of Cardiff, right next to the University and Government buildings is a fairly exclusive gated housing estate. Given we’re in the UK and not America, you could call these houses mansions, even if they’re not sprawling country piles. You got some spare bathrooms if you own one of these, you know what I mean?
So, dear reader, we find ourselves in the spacious, tree lined garden of one of the houses, on what’s a particularly sunny and humid day in the Welsh capital. The garden is sparsely furnished with just a random collection of garden furniture near the double doors that exit the house, and, well, we’ll call it a modern art installation, shall we?
That seems the simplest way to describe what, roughly, it is.
In more detail, what we appear to be looking at is a fairly modern main battle tank. Now, I’m not an expert in MBT’s or anything, but it appears to be some older Russian model, and given we’re in Europe and dealing with a man who has a reasonable reserve of money, it’d be a fair assumption that he may well have found some back channels and bought if off a Ukrainian farmer. The tank appears to have driven through three weirdly sequentially placed brick walls, and it’s pressing right up against a fourth.
You never break the fourth wall, dear reader.
So our heroic protagonist, fresh off his second week back in HOW, with a second victory under his belt sits atop the tank’s turret, some camouflage shorts and a particularly horrific pair of camouflage crocs on his feet. Yeah, I know, I know – but the guy’s a metalhead and it’s been warm in Wales. That’s his excuse for the crocs, anyway.
His numbers/boring shit guy, Dafydd is also stood around. He’s got slightly more going on in the clothes department, wearing one of those “matching summer sets” that you can buy as a dude in 2023. It’s from some brand that’s so exclusive and expensive that, even when you’ve paid half an average monthly wage for the right to own their exclusive garments, you still haven’t actually paid enough for them to stick their logo on any of it.
And they’re both staring at the battered, barely functional iPhone that’s laid on Rhys’ hand, the dialtone ringing out into the relatively peaceful afternoon here in Cardiff. Or Caerdydd, if you prefer. Or want some culture, maybe learn a bit of a new language?
Yeah..didn’t think so. But either way, the ringtone drones on and on until finally, a heavily Spanish accented voice breaches the silence.
“We have found the client’s phone, we will attempt to connect you now. We must warn you though, Mister Townsend, that the signal is, uhh, how you say? Very fucked. So it might disconnect.”
“A bit odd. I mean…bit confused as to why I’m speaking to you and not to Trent…”
“Well Mister Townsend, you speaking to me as you could not connect to Trent, and you called your phone company about it. They put you through to us here in Peru, and we will now connect you.”
“Wait, Peru?! Trent’s in fucking Peru?!!!”
“Apparently so, Mister Townsend.”
“Right. Well…Chaos is there. Let’s hope it’s just some bad signal, and he’s not off on some crazy fucked up adventure…”
“I cannot speak to you about any of that, Mister Townsend, but do you want me to connect you?”
“Please don’t be the crazy adventure…please be actual match prep…”
“Is that a yes…?”
“Yeah. Yeah, connect me.”
“Ok Mister Townsend, please hold. This might take a minute or ten…”
And just like that, the harsh sound of dialling returns. The large Welshman looks frustrated, sighs, and fishes a spliff out of one of the pockets of his shorts. And then a lighter out of another. It’d be a fair assumption that Trent’s doing similar somewhere in Peru. Our protagonists companion decides to speak over the randomly changing dial tone.
“So, Rhys…I gotta ask…”
“Do you really think this is a good idea?”
“What’s a good idea? Calling Trent?”
“No mate, doing a tag team match.”
Townsend laughs in between tokes atop the tank, before deigning to reply.
“What, in the win loss, I’m 2-0 since returning so far, why even do a tag match where I might go 2-1 and be not at fault, at all?”
“Yeah. Exactly. Why not get another singles match, give yourself the best chance of going 3-0?
“Well, Dafydd, firstly, and quite simply, I enjoy tag team wrestling. Sure, I’m mostly a singles competitor, that’s what I’ve made my name as, but yeah, I dunno. I love some tag team wrestling. Secondly, and I don’t know if you’ve figured it out yet, but winning or losing…eh. It’s not something I’m personally focused on right now, y’know? I’m just focusing on turning up and having fun. The statement I’m making isn’t about wins and losses, it’s about showing up week after week, about putting the gri…”
“Oi. OI! Who’s fuckin’ callin’ me?!”
The rough, abrasive yet familiar sound of the Trent T. Trent’s voice, the sound of the most stoned colossus to ever exist in professional wrestling interrupts the conversation between the two friends.
“It’s Rhys, Trent.”
“RICE? I didn’t order any fried rice, ya fuck! Fucks’ sake Clive, I ain’t at fuckin’ home, I don’t want a fuckin’ Chinese!”
“No, Trent, RHYS. RHYS TOWNSEND you bald, deaf fuck.”
“Oh shit, Rhys! How ya doing ya fuckin’ fuck?! I’m a bit fucki….”
The signal is quite obviously bad, as it cuts off the end of Trent’s sentence. If you’ve ever wondered what an underwater Trent Fuckin’ Trent sounds like, this is probably pretty accurate.
Probably why he thought it was Rice and not Rhys.
“I’m good mate. Honestly just calling in to see if you know we’ve got a tag match, make sure you’re all good for that…”
“Yeah mate I’m fuckin’ good for it. I’m already in fuckin’ Peru, got some…”
As if to create tension, there’s all of a sudden the sound of the phone hitting the floor. Frantic scurrying in what sounds like undergrowth follows, and yes, dear reader, exactly what you think is about to happen happens.
Trent unleashes a blood curdling scream, and halfway through the scream, the phone goes dead.
Yes, that old cliche. We do love ‘em in professional wrestling, after all.
Rhys Townsend, he of the 2-0 record since his return does not look concerned, or startled, or, well, anything, really. He just simply locks the battered iPhone and sticks it on the tank turret next to him, gazing up into the weirdly clear blue sky that the capital has been blessed with today.
“Aren’t you…concerned about him?”
His friend voices his opinion from below the tank, barely even looking up from his phone as he does it.
“Daf, you don’t know Trent, right? But this is a dude who had a whole adventure with a robot zombie rubber chicken…and I don’t even think I’ve gotten that quite right. He’s invented curries that can literally kill men. Trent, having shitty signal and unleashing a blood curdling scream before the phone goes dead?
Honestly man…it’s about as close to standard operating procedure as that fuck gets. I think I’d honestly be more worried if he was in Trujillo and knew more than “You got a tag match with Rhys”, y’know?”
His friend pauses. This could be because he just scrolled onto something particularly interesting on his social media, or it could be because he’s considering what he just heard.
“Yeah…maybe. Doesn’t really ease my mind about the whole tag team shenanigans, though. Like…I just don’t get it man, why jeopardise a return that’s been going probably better than we both hoped?”
“Because, as you said before, I might lose?”
“Because, Dafydd, as I said before, it’s not about the results, it’s about the process, right? You keep your ear to the ground, and shit, I’ve probably made mention of it as I’ve been out here. People are talking about me being legitimately back, and not one of the abortive returns I’ve made in the past, or the abortive returns that it feels like every Hall of Famer makes. Nah, an actual return. The actual Rhys Townsend is back. Not the Best Alliance’s Monster, nah, but the independent Rhys Townsend, the one who wants to stand on his own, wants to take on whatever the fuck is over there and fancies a wrestling match. This is my third consecutive week being booked. As far as I can tell, that’s more than some guys will wrestle as non PPV in an entire non PPV period, and I plan to go again next week. A solid month. It’s not li…”
“Yeah, I get that Rhys, I get you enjoy tag wrestling, but shit dude, Lee Best made an announcement that someone from the Top 5 of the rankings will get a shot in like…4 shows time, I think it is? It’s decided the week before. You’re talking about wrestling often, why didn’t you wrestle singles? Get more wins. Get up the rankings…you’re 12th now. Another win would see you top 10. Another 2…top 5…”
Rhys chuckles heartily atop the tank, nearly dropping his spliff on a few occasions. Eventually, he regains control and replies to his good friend.
“Bro, keyword there – SOMEONE. Someone. Not whoever’s in 3rd or 4th or whatever, just…someone.”
“So lemme ask you this – after Lee Best has gotten the World’s Most Boring ‘Stache to brain me from behind after emphasising, repeatedly, the thirteen staples I put in his head, do you really think he’s gonna give me a Championship shot? Especially if he’s buying into the hype about this being the Townsend. Me, in a random weekly World Championship match? Go ask Christopher America about it. Or Mike Best. JPD. Hell, even Sektor. You just hear the announcement….”
Dafydd breaks in, stopping a sure to be awful attempt at ring announcing. We should indeed be thankful at this moment.
“Alright, alright, I get it. I’ll let it go. I’m just saying, if you snuck up there as a non Alliance member, into the top 5, on your return? I don’t know that he would be able to not book the match, bro. I feel like the fans would almost be demanding it at that point…just saying. Get what you’re saying too, but…”
“So, if you get what I’m saying, Daf, then you know this is the best way. Might not be the most mathematically probable, but…this is the way. Turn down no challenge, turn up for every match, do the things that motivate me. Right now, getting to team with Trent and wrestle this match against a bunch of dudes I’m far too high to look up…”
“Stronk’s in the match…”
“…it’s not about him, Dafydd. This is about me. This is for me. This is about showing each and every other fucker in that match that I’m back back. That I’m not fucking around. That I’m about putting that grind in, showing up to wrestle on a schedule they wouldn’t dream of doing. About not turning away any challengers…about expressing my love for this shit, for the competitiveness on the highest level I can. Maybe I lose. Maybe not.
It’s just about continuing to send the message, Dafydd. There’s work on, and I’m embracing it. Because that gold encrusted crimson strap will be around my waist again. I’ve known this from the second I signed that return contract, and it’s starting to feel like the rest of High Octane Wrestling is starting to come around to that thought, too. So win or lose…I just keep drilling that home. Keep reminding them of who I am.”
“You know, Rhys, if you do win that belt and wanna wear it around your waist…I think we might have to get some extensions made…”
“Oh, fuck you!”
And that, dear reader, is where we’re gonna leave it, the two friends, being, well, friends. I could do something overly dramatic to finish things, but let’s be honest…you’re probably not even still here, are you?
Exactly. See you in a week, hopefully.
Metallica – Leper Messiah