It took my dad four years to win War Games.
Four years is a long time, dude. Think about how long Trump was President. That’s how long it took him to win a fucking War Games. He spent literally a third of his HOW career trying to win one match. Every year, June would come along, and every year, it was second place. Last survivor of a losing team. Second place on the winning team. ICON Title. ICON Title. ICON Title. An entire championship became so synonymous with my father that he built his entire empire around it. “The ICON” Mike Best. FiveTime Academy, FiveTime Entertainment, FiveTime brand fucking sweatpants. You can talk about making lemonade all you want, but when it came to winning War Games?
My dad was a fucking lemon.
Ten time HOW World Champion. Won over twenty cumulative titles in his time as an active wrestler. Solitary Confinement, ICONIC main events, multiple LBI finals, a spot in the Hall of Fame. This motherfucker won two legit deathmatches in his career.
Won War Games twice.
And it took twelve years.
Dad took an L in his first match against Uncle Max (REST IN POWER). He took an L at his first HOW pay-per-view, against Christopher America. His entire first year in HOW was a fucking dumpster fire, bro, and that’s coming straight from his mouth. But my dad didn’t have TEN-X, to get him ready for HOW. He didn’t even have formal wrestling training, just an amateur background. The kid? Shit, I’ve been training for this since I was fifteen years old. Lindsay fucking Troy taught me how to lock up and run the ropes. I have cumulatively been trained by every living member of the Group of Death. You think I’m intimidated by Boomer Fuse and his League of Extraordinary Poors? I have the single greatest pedigree in professional sports, and I’m just getting the fuck started. I might be my father’s son, but I am NOT my father.
My dad’s rookie year was a Toyota Camry.
Mine’s gonna be a fucking BMW.
“So, Adrian. You found your father.”
A long, tired sigh escapes the elephant in the room, as he unrolls his trunk and slinks down from the corner he’s been hiding in. Tyler Adrian Best has been standing in his mother’s kitchen for less than four total minutes, and already it’s time to have that conversation.
The flight back to Jersey was long. That didn’t bode well for Tyler’s first show overseas, as the next leg of the trip from Newark to Kyiv was looking like a cool twelve hours in the sky. Even flying HOA with the other non-poors, it was a lot to factor in– jet lag and changes in the air pressure. Confined to a cabin for that long, without room to properly stretch and stay limber. It would be fine to fly out on a vacation… but to have his very first HOW pay-per-view match twelve hours away from home was a lot.
But then, so was being back home in Northfield.
“My name is Tyler.” he answers, opening the fridge and avoiding eye contact. “And yeah… I did.”
The long silence that follows is accompanied only by the sound of a knife chopping garlic, as his mother continues to prepare ingredients atop a cutting board in the center island of the kitchen. Tyler grabs a gallon of chocolate milk out of the fridge, filling a tall glass up to the brim and taking a long sip.
“Shocked he doesn’t have you drinking already.” Amanda Tyler rolls her eyes. “Oh wait, he’s a cokehead, not a drinker.”
Another long silence.
The elephant feels like maybe he should leave.
Amanda drops a handful of chopped garlic into the pot on the stove, moving on to the half an onion still resting on the cutting board. When you can hear the sound that a knife makes slicing into a fucking onion, the silence is officially uncomfortable.
“He’s been sober for three years.” Tyler grumbles, not looking up from his milk. “And he’s paying the rent on this house so. I don’t know. Maybe don’t throw shade.”
But he’s paying a lot more than the fucking rent.
For the better part of five years, Michael Lee Best has been paying for… everything. And Amanda knew it. Tyler’s first car didn’t come out of Amanda’s bank account, it came from a PayPal account with an HOWrestling.com e-mail address. His “scholarship” to Troy Combat Systems? That was a fat check from the Son of God himself, delivered to Lindsay Troy in person. Tuition to his private highschool? All of his expensive electronics and editing equipment? The food in his mouth, the clothes on his back, and the quality of life that Tyler has been used to living?
Well, that came from the Irrevocable Trust.
Yes, that Irrevocable Trust. The Rasheem Capital Trust, established by the legal slugs known as Shitemoore and Fartharder, to legally funnel divested funds and assets to itself through an anonymous series of tubes. Since the establishment of the RCT in 2014, every facet of Tyler’s life had been bought and paid for by a bank account in Nevada. Oh, and until Tyler turns twenty one?
Amanda controls the debit card.
Don’t mind the big gray fellow under the kitchen table.
That’s just the other elephant.
It’s the hardest match in HOW.
That’s what Dad tells me. Harder than being stuck in a jail cell alone for two weeks, in complete darkness. Harder than fighting your own brother to the death. Harder than getting into the Hall of Fame… look at guys like Stevens or Solex, and that’s not even disrespect. And he says it’s because you can’t do it alone. It’s a different skill set. You gotta somehow get out there, sometimes with people you don’t like, and you have to work as a team. Sometimes you hurt your friends, and protect your enemies. But you also gotta be looking out for numero uno.
Because there’s only one HOW World Championship.
And there can only be one champion.
You gotta break up that pin, because you don’t want your team shorthanded. But you also wanna make sure your partners aren’t as fresh as you are, because you wanna be the sole survivor. Work as a unit, but choose your opportunities to eliminate the competition on your own team. Motherfuckers get stabbed at War Games. Motherfuckers get shot. And it ain’t even just about the title, either.
Winning War Games MEANS something.
It’s an accomplishment in itself. Lotta dudes out there won Big Red, but not nearly as many can say that they’ve won War Games. Guys like America, or my dad, they have something to fucking brag about. They’ve done it more than once, but even then, they’ve failed more times than they’ve succeeded. It took my dad four fucking years to get that monkey off his back… but it’s like I keep saying, I’m not gonna be as good as my dad was.
I’m gonna be better.
This year, I wanna do something that’s never been done before. I wanna do something that goes down in the record books. I wanna do something that stamps my name on High Octane Wrestling and cements that the first third generation talent in HOW history is the Real Deal™. Your boy isn’t taking four years to win his first War Games.
I’m gonna win it in my second match.
“So how much do you need, Adrian?”
Tyler sets an empty pint glass in the corner of the sink, grimacing as his mother calls him by a name he’d rather forget. He wanders past the center island, sitting down in one of the unnecessarily decorative kitchen chairs. He awkwardly shuffles his feet, rubbing his shoes against one another as he avoids making eye contact with Amanda.
“I need all of it.” Tyler mumbles, trying to just rip off the bandaid. “I’m on the road full time now with my father. He can’t legally take control of the Trust, but TEN-X is going to assume guardianship until I’m twenty one. I have some forms you need to sign. And my name is Tyler.”
He reaches behind the chair, grabbing his drawstring backpack off the back. He rifles through the contents of what was ultimately his carry-on, grabbing a half-folded manilla envelope from underneath his gym clothes.
His mother doesn’t even look at the envelope.
“Yeah, that’s not happening.” Amanda dismisses him, still moving about the kitchen. “You’re eighteen years old, Adrian. You don’t need access to that kind of money on a whim. Not till you’re older.”
She grabs a plate off of the counter, carrying an over-filled sandwich to the table and placing it down in front of her son. Tyler eyes the wild stack of Italian cold cuts peeking out from beneath the lettuce, still famished from the travel day behind him. He decides not to let himself be distracted by a deviously placed lunch– at least not yet.
“It’s my money, ma.” Tyler looks her right in the face. “Look, if it’s about the house… I’m gonna make sure you’re taken care of. You’re not gonna have to–”
His voice is interrupted by the thunder crack of a cabinet slamming.
In an instant, the familial pleasantries are over.
“THE MONEY?!” Amanda laughs, snidely. “You think I want the fucking MONEY!?”
His mother swings around from behind the kitchen island, hands on her hips as she stares at the baby boy that she raised, on her own, for eighteen years.
“I didn’t want the goddamned money in the FIRST place!” Amanda rebukes, angrily. “And it’s not YOUR money– it’s his. It’s always been his. Stuffed away into a shitty side account with you as the excuse, so that he didn’t have to give it up when another one of his conquests divorced him. He’s USING YOU, Adrian.”
She bustles around the kitchen, clearing fuming but trying to keep her anger from boiling over on the inside. Tyler can feel an unusual pang of anxiety in the center of his stomach, like the kind you feel when you’re getting a little carsick.
“Stop calling me that.” Tyler grits his teeth, raising his voice. “My fucking name is Tyler. And he said you were gonna be like this. Said I’d be wasting my time, and we could just let the attorneys do it. I’m sorry you fucked a rockstar and he didn’t write an album about you, but he’s, my FUCKING FATHER and it’s MY FUCKING MONEY.”
He abruptly stands up from the table, the chair kicking out from behind him as he stands to face his mother. Her eyes grow wide– he’s never spoken to her like this before, and she’s equal parts hurt and enraged. Amanda doesn’t flinch, though… all five feet, four inches of her stand right up in his face, looking up at her son with fury in her eyes.
“How dare you.” Amanda fumes, poking him hard in the center of the chest. “I fucking raised you. He knew you were his kid for eight years. Eight FUCKING years. Now he’s divorced and that money is free and clear, and suddenly he’s ready to be a dad? REALLY? Don’t be a fucking idiot… the second you give that stranger access to his money, he’s gonna go right back to sending a birthday card through a fucking shell corporation. But yeah, Adrian, go ahead and let him–”
He didn’t mean to do it.
Doesn’t even know how he did it.
As soon as the name leaves her mouth, something snaps instead of Tyler Best– her sentence is cut off midway, as he grabs his mother by the front of the shirt and pushes her up against the fridge.
“DON’T FUCKING CALL ME THAT!” Tyler roars, grip white-knuckled.
Amanda’s words are caught in her throat, held back by the sheer terror she’s feeling in the moment. Adrian had always had a temper, but not like this. He’d never even raised his voice to his mother in eighteen years, much less… this.
This isn’t her son anymore.
“I’m– I’m sorry.” Tyler swallows hard, immediately letting go of her shirt. “I didn’t mean to– I don’t know what I–”
Pulling her shirt back into place, Amanda sniffs hard, holding back tears that are equal parts rooted in fear and in anger. She brushes past Tyler, grabbing the papers off of the manila folder and hastily scribbling her name at the bottom with a pen.
She shoves the signed documents into his chest, a crumpled mess.
“Take your money, Tyler.” Amanda’s words stab him like so many daggers. “And get the fuck out of my house.”
He said that HOW is gonna change me.
Said that it changed him, too. That he was a “Fisher Price fuck” before he landed in HOW, same way I was drudging around the indies. But change is a good thing. Change keeps you strong. Change means that you adapt to the times. Boomer Fuse is stuck in the past, worshiping video games that look like ass, because this little 32-bit bitch ain’t got a thing to look forward to. Only one motherfucker in history ever went back to back at War Games, and you ain’t it. Even my Dad never did it, and we both know that he has your number like you slipped it to him at the club trying to get your pussy ate at 3AM. Last night we were having a late dinner and you text him “Ayyy, you up?”
Bitch, it was 9:30.
You should just call your squad Team Big Mad That Mike Retired. Xander Azula is chasing HOFC like it’s gonna bring Daddy back from the store with those cigarettes he went out for. Clay Byrd has not stopped ugly crying into his copy of A Loss To Remember since my Dad hung up his boots without giving him a win back. Boomer Fuse has a pinned Tweet in his heart that says “BUT IF YOU EVER WANNA COME BACK FOR ONE MORE….” like a fucking mark. Pretty sure Jatt Starr got life-cucked by the CEO so hard that his wife left him and he started wrestling in drag, and Darin Zion has literally said into a live microphone that if he ever met my Dad, he’d let him slap him in the face.
Somebody grab Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny.
It’s a whole team of fucking Stans.
Well I can’t bring your Idol back out of retirement, Boomer, and I can’t stop you from naming all your RPG characters after him, but I can give you the next best thing.
Tyler Adrian Best.
The Grandson of God. The Legend in Training. The Winfluencer. GOD’s Gift to Wrestling, and the next HOW World Champion. My father is the captain of this team, and he fucking built it for me, bro. I’ve got the only motherfucker to go back to back. I’ve got a literal murderer and a dude who would bench press your ego while he eats a tuna sandwich. I’ve got a Hardcore Artist, a King of Everything, and a dude who knows you better than literally anyone else in High Octane Wrestling. This isn’t “Hard Mode” or whatever bullshit video game analogy you’re gonna come up with to show all the fellow kids what a cool teenage-adjacent bro you are, Boomer. This is fucking war. My dad might have settled for the silver medal for four years, but The Kid doesn’t settle for shit– the only time I’m planning to be the Second Best is when they’re describing how many members of my family have taken a World Title from you.
So let’s address the elephant in the room, Conor. Vintage is out. I’m the next gen.
Now go get me a fucking Diet Coke.