Honestly, this ought to be the main event.
No shade to Chris America, that’s my guy, but nobody wants to watch him beat up an old retired military dad for a second time. Trust me, I’ve watched old veterans with mental illnesses fight, and it isn’t as exciting as you’d think. Just a lot of swinging blind and thinking about the old days, back when they were fingerbanging a bunch of brown dudes to steal their oil.
But the Ascension of the God of Sons?
For the ICON Championship?
That’s a fucking main event. You could have put anyone across the ring from me, and guaranteed that I was going to steal the show. I could have wrestled Blaire Moise at Dead or Alive and brought the fucking house down. Because I am the HOW ICON Champion, I am HOW’s second WORLD CHAMPION, and I have achieved every single thing that I have ever set out to achieve, in my entire life.
It’s annoying, isn’t it?
Waiting for me to get what’s coming to me, only to find out that “what’s coming to me” is a nicer car than you’ll ever even be allowed to test drive. Waiting for me to pay the piper, but the piper never comes to collect. I’m the kind of guy you want to punch in the face, but I’m so fucking good at what I do that you swing and miss, every single time. Well guess what, you dumb motherfuckers? My uppance ain’t coming, and I get to win. I get to dominate. I get to grab this industry by the balls and flex how much bigger my nuts are, and there isn’t a fucking thing that a single one of you can do about it. Not Michael Lee Best, not the fans of HOW, and certainly not fucking Jatt Starr.
Jatt, you really did turn out to be a little bitch, didn’t you?
Man, I expected so little, and yet I’m still disappointed.
You’re a fucking DVD player, my guy. Obsolete. Good to keep in the closet for a round of nostalgia every now and again, but you’re dead fucking technology. You didn’t stop hearing about DVD players because some asshole took a baseball bat to every last one of them, you just stopped hearing about them because they don’t fucking matter anymore. Cooler, newer shit exists. You’re a “colored only” drinking fountain. An iPod Out-Of-Touch. You used to call my dad “Jatt 2.0” and now he’s the CEO of High Octane Wrestling and you’re in the bargain bin, praying some half-blind thousand year old grandmother buys you for her grandson because she doesn’t know that you’re fucking useless. You called him Jatt 2.0 and never even had the self-awareness to realize that 2.0 is a fucking upgrade.
Well, I’m the new model, bitch.
I’m all of the code with none of the bugs. My dad was the beta, and I am the fucking ALPHA. Do you honestly, honestly look me in the eyes and tell me that you stand any chance whatsoever of beating a man who is better than you in every single way? You got clowned on in 2014 by a half-tuned-out Mike Best at a pay-per-view he was double booked on, but you really, truly believe that you’ve got my fucking number?
Motherfucker, you can’t even count that high.
The TEN-X Corporate Office
“First off, you smile too much.”
The CEO of HOW snaps his fingers, pointing in the general direction of the hallway in front of him, beckoning for Tyler Streets to follow him. The bright grin on the face of TEN-X’s newest signee fades into a thin line across his mouth, toughening up in the face of the man who has just hired him to be his assistant. The man he has spent the better part of his life wishing that he could be.
Michael Lee Best.
The greatest wrestler in the history of High Octane Wrestling.
“It’s off-putting.” Michael goes on, as they meander down the hallway. “Life is dogshit wall to wall, don’t walk around smiling like an idiot all the time.”
The Hall of Famer stops in front of a barebones office, a very no-frills affair with a desk, a chair, and a laptop in it.
“That’s gonna be your office.” the Son of God says, gesturing into the space. “I’m a pain in the ass to work for, but it’s a good opportunity. You’re gonna be taking care of the shit I don’t have time for, which is almost everything. Work hard, be professional even when I’m not, and prove to me that you’re willing to pay your dues. You’re on a free ride, but you’re skipping a lot of lines here. Oh, and never give out my cell phone number. Ever.”
He glances backward at Tyler, mostly to see how well he’s absorbing the information. The future God of Sons is virtually stone faced, latching on to every word that Michael says as though he’s going to be tested on it later. Michael hides a smile, quickening his pace as he moves them further down the hallway of the TEN-X offices.
This kid fucking idolizes him.
It’s almost a superpower– you can ask Tyler Adrian Streets about any match that his mentor has ever had, and he’ll tell you the date, the winner, and if the winner wasn’t Michael Lee Best, why he got robbed. He remembers stipulations, championship reigns and records down to the day, and can quote almost entire blocks of monologue from any promo that the Hall of Famer has ever uttered. It’s hard to say exactly where it all went wrong, but in this particular moment in time, this is a boy looking at his father as though he’s a God.
Not that he knows it’s his father.
“Welcome to Thunder Dome, bitch.” Michael smiles, as he opens the door at the end of the hall. “This is where the magic happens.”
He spreads his arms out, as he leads Tyler softly into his personal office. He leans against the doorframe of the office, letting his assistant take it all in– years worth of promotional materials sit in hastily labeled cardboard boxes, and folders upon folders of contracts and day-to-day bullshit are strewn about the desk, but that’s not why they’re here.
They’re here to see history.
The office is a veritable shrine to Michael Lee Best– photographs line the walls, documenting prolific moments in his career. Title belts sit in glass cases around the office, and original leather and gold that had sat so proudly around his waist. His tenth HOW World Championship, his first HOFC Champion. His fifth ICON Championship, the very same one that birthed an empire and would eventually find its way around the waist of Tyler himself.
Tyler is absolutely slack jawed.
From running ropes in a hot gym to standing in the office of HOW’s greatest Hall of Famer, staring at the kind of swag you can’t exactly find on eBay. This isn’t even a day that Tyler has ever bothered to dream about, because he couldn’t have even considered the possibility of being here someday. His eyes are wide, as he takes it all in.
“I worked my ass off to get here, Tyler.” Michael says, softly. “I spent my whole career listening to people tell me that I didn’t earn any of this, and it always made me fight harder. Always made me work harder. You’re on a free ride here, Ty, so you’re gonna have to work your ass off, too. You’re gonna have a lot of people telling you that you only got these opportunities because of who you… know. That I handed you this on a silver platter, and you didn’t have to work for it.”
He places a hand on Tyler’s shoulder.
“Prove them wrong.” he nods, with a soft smile. “Make yourself undeniable. Forge your own path, be your own man, and make the most of this opportunity. Not just as the assistant to a fucking CEO, Tyler– you aren’t just here to push papers. I wanna turn you into a fucking champion. I want you to show your– some– kid an office just like this someday, filled up with things you worked your ass off to achieve. Don’t let me down.”
He slaps his hand against the doorframe, snapping himself out of this moment of relative vulnerability as he pulls his gaze away from Tyler Streets.
“Anyway, I have an 11PM out of O’Hare.” Michael changes gears, back to business. “You should already have my itinerary memorized, though, so don’t expect reminders like that going forward. You’re starting right now, so if you made any plans today, cancel them. Work out of your office, or mine, I don’t really give a shit honestly… any questions?”
He crosses his arms, as the young assistant looks back at him with a hesitance in his eyes. He clearly has something that he wants to ask, but probably won’t. Of course, Michael expected as much… Tyler is a good kid, but he’s definitely a fucking mark.
“Business or personal.” the CEO rolls his eyes.
“In that case,” Tyler brightens up, with a big smile. “I have about a thousand.”
Of course he does. Michael has to hide the excitement in his eyes– a dozen assistants have had questions about Max Kael, or War Games, or what it was like to get into the Hall of Fame. About whether or not that Catholic Panda was a real bear or not, or why he came back from UTAH all those years ago. Normally, he abhors these kinds of conversations, but Tyler isn’t your run of the mill assistant.
He’s the future of HOW.
He’s the future of everything, and he doesn’t even know it yet.
“You get one.” Michael says, faux sternly. “Use it wisely. What do you wanna know about? Best Ladder Match, 2010? Retiring Aceldama, twice? What’s solitary like?”
But as Tyler opens his mouth to speak, it turns out he doesn’t want to ask about any of that. And MIchael is completely unprepared for the question he chooses to ask.
“So.” Tyler begins, with a hint of a smirk. “You’re my dad, right?”
The air is sucked out of the room at warp speed.
Suddenly, the room feels dry and arrid, or maybe that’s just the throat of Michael Lee Best as his eyes begin to dart all over the office. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen– he’d run this over in his mind a thousand times, but in none of them did Tyler Adrian Streets find out that he was the God of Sons on his first day at the office, barely laced up for TEN-X. This was supposed to be a process. A gradual coming to terms. An exercise in trust building, and relationship forming, eventually with like… a fucking steak dinner or something.
He opens his mouth to speak, but words don’t escape.
You want to have a conversation with your kids about Santa Clause, you don’t want them walking downstairs in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve and seeing Mom and Dad laying the presents out under the tree. And yet here was Tyler in his fucking footy pajamas, creeping down the stairs with visions of sugarplums dancing in his head.
It feels like an eternity before he answers.
“Uh.” Michael stammers, his voice hollow. “Yeah, Tyler. I’m your Dad.”
Tyler’s arms are crossed in front of him, leaning against the opposite side of the doorframe and entirely mirroring the posture of his father. Cat is out of the bag now, and Michael braces himself for the onslaught that is to come. He still remembered like it was yesterday, finding out that Lee Best was his father in the middle of the wrestling ring, during a live broadcast of a fucking Thursday Night Turmoil. He remembered the anger. The confusion. The flood of emotions, meeting the man who had abandoned him for his entire childhood.
He never thought he’d be on this side of it.
Tyler looks his father up and down, slowly nodding his head as the wheels turn in his brain. He takes a deep breath, uncrossing his arms and putting a fist out in front of him.
“Aight, bet.” Tyler smirks. “Mike Best is my dad. Pretty dope.”
He reaches his fist out, bumping it against Michael’s limp hand as the Son of God stares at him in absolute shock. Pretty dope? Where was the anger? Where was the rage? Where were all of the completely justified feelings of utter abandonment and disrespect?
“I, uhm.” Michael taps a hand against his leg. “You’re not… surprised?”
“My guy.” Tyler laughs, slapping the CEO’s arm. “You recruited me out of nowhere, put me into your camp for free, and made me your assistant. You’re either trying to fuck me or you’re my dad. And we look exactly alike.”
Smarter than Michael had been, at his age. Michael didn’t find out that Lee was his real father until twelve years ago, and even then it had taken him completely by surprise. Tyler Streets was off to a better start at eighteen than his father was in his mid-twenties, and had the athletic talent to match. He had the ability to be the best of the Bests, and all it would take was the right mentoring. The right parenting. The right relationship between father and son, and every record the Son of God had ever broken would only exist in the rearview mirror of Tyler’s eventual career.
And it all starts right here, even if completely unexpectedly.
“Listen, Ty.” Michael lowers his gaze, averting eye contact. “This flight… I really do have to go. But when I get back, we can talk, alright? We’ll go out to dinner. There’s a lot of stuff you need to know. I know you’re probably processing a lot of hard emotions right now, and this can’t be easy to digest so I’m sure you’re in a little bit of shock. Is there anything that I can–”
“That ICON Championship.” Tyler asks, stepping away from the doorframe. “Is that THE belt? The fifth one?”
Interrupting his father, Tyler takes his phone out of his pocket, snapping some pictures of the decorations on the walls, and the trophy cases.
“Uh, yeah.” Michael chuckles, awkwardly. “That’s the one. Listen, if you need some time, I can–”
“Man, that’s fucking dope.” Tyler approaches the case, peering inside. “A hundred and fifty seven days. Eleven days short of the record. I was eight years old. It’s too bad this fucker is retired, man… I would have loved to fight for the ICON Championship. But yeah, dude. Have a safe flight, we’ll catch up when you get back.”
It’s evident that the son of Michael Lee Best was taking the news… well. Surprisingly well. Unbelievably well, as though he’d just been told that lunch was in the breakroom, or that he was getting a company car. In fact, it was almost as though he hadn’t just told Tyler something that was going to change the entire course of his life forever. As though he was just a robot, processing some routine data. He was smiling, but he was emotionless, more concerned with a championship inside of a glass case than dealing with the single biggest piece of news that he’s ever received in his life– actively putting aside his own mental health to stare at white and gold behind a locked glass case.
He smiles too much, but with nothing behind it.
Maybe that paternity test wasn’t necessary.
Tyler was a Best.