Well shit the bed, Jack.
We made it.
To be fair, we might be a decade or so late to this particular party.
Or, hear me out, maybe we’re right on time. Eric Dane versus High Flyer for the first time ever in the year of our Lord, two-thousand and twenty. How many championships of how many worlds do you think we add up to, Jack?
Does it matter anymore?
Did it ever?
I had my eyes on you, all those years ago. Back in the land before time, where guys like us could be on top of our respective worlds and barely ever come into contact. God bless the tape-trade because I knew who the High Flyer was in the nineties, as I’m sure you knew about me. You remember how it was back then, though, right? Every third guy was the greatest of all time, anybody with a microphone could call himself the best in the world.
I did it.
You probably did it.
Even our friend Mike Best would end up making a career doing it.
All anybody ever needed was fifteen minutes of TV time and enough charisma to convince the assholes and idiots that you were what you said you were. That kind of shit only carries a guy so far, though. It takes more than an overblown ego to last as long as we have. It takes a certain toughness that most guys don’t have. To boot, it also takes a certain amount of mental acuity. This is probably where I’m losing you though, you aren’t exactly well known for your intellectual prowess or the ability to use it to your advantage.
Me, on the other hand, well I’m what the kids these days call woke. Throughout all the bullshit, and admittedly I’ve seen more than my share of bullshit, but through it all I’ve prided myself on a sense of self awareness. It’s a strength that has almost never failed me.
Know yourself, your strengths. Your weaknesses.
But that’s not enough.
Know your enemies, and same. Keep them at arm’s length, just close enough to slap the taste out of their yapping mouths but not so close as to give away any trade secrets.
Most importantly, know potential enemies. Keep your eyes just focused enough on the peripheral to keep yourself from being caught off guard. For years I stayed ahead of the game just by keeping my eyes open. Anymore, though…
Sometimes I can’t see the forest for the goddamned trees, Jack.
And that’s what brings my attention, finally, to you. The High Flyer. The No Show King, whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean. I’ll be honest with ya, Jack, I may have had my eyes on you back then but the moment our circles closed in on each other and I actually had to spend a few minutes in your presence, well…
Let’s just say I lost you in the junk drawer a long time ago.
You’re television static, Jack. You’re always there. Right in the background. Just out of the reach of relevance but never far enough away to disappear for good. You buzz around at the fringes of reality like some kind of a savant and you look real fuckin’ good against ham ‘n eggers like Simon Whoeverthefuck, but then…
You said it yourself last week.
All anybody has to do to beat the great High Flyer is show up, ain’t that right? Because it’s not about wins or losses to a fresh off the farm lunatic like Jack Harmen. The only thing that matters is the holy fight and the unholy violence, right Jack? 1998 called, they want their tortured soul anti-hero back.
Follow my logic here, Jack. Imagine if you tried. Imagine if instead of making excuses for why you can’t beat your meat let alone a ranked opponent, you actually took this seriously for once. Again? Whatever. Just imagine if you found whatever spark that you had two decades ago that made you a household name and you brought that shit to the ring with you come Refueled.
Wouldn’t that be fun?
You might even win a match every now and then.
Not this week, against me, but like… some other matches.
This week you’re counting the goddamned lights on general principle.
Eight pounds of gold and leather landed on the table in front of me. Had I been eating on china instead of a paper plate, this could have been problematic. As it were, it was just the first volley in what was likely going to turn into a very loud argument.
That much was clear.
“Hey look,” I said to the ether, “you got yourself a toy belt.”
I knew that would set her off, and it did.
“EXCUSE ME?!” Graysie took two broad steps into the room. Right behind her was my best friend and benefactor, Angus Skaaland. He had probably the most smug look I’ve ever seen dripping down his face.
“Come on in, kid. Sit down, have a microwaved burrito.”
Oblivious to her recent comings and goings and tired of pretending to be a nice guy, I started pushing buttons and had no intention of stopping. Truth be told, I’d been getting sick and fucking tired of Graysie Parker and all of the drama that she brought with her.
“I’m out of plates, though, so I guess you can use that thing. It probably won’t blow up the microwave, right?”
She grabbed the strap and took up a position opposite me. She refuses to sit, though, probably some bullshit about not wanting to sink to my level. Fuck knows I’ve heard that line out of her enough times over the last year or so.
Angus intervened before Graysie could take the bait. “It’s the MVW Women’s Championship, Eric.”
Ignoring Angus I took another bite of burrito.
“Who the fuck said you could go to work for those guys?”
Graysie fumed, Angus rolled his eyes.
“I did, you fucking asshole, and she won their top belt in her debut fuckin’ match! Live on Pay-Per-Fucking-View as a matter of fact!”
It was my turn to roll eyes.
“Good. Great. You went to a shitbox indy and you won an outlaw belt. Happy fuckin’ Kwanzaa, kid, you’re in the big leagues now.”
Graysie smiled. Angus chuckled.
“What?” I asked between chews. “What’s so funny?”
“You,” Graysie answered. “That’s what. You have no idea.”
My eyes shoot immediately to Angus. “What’d you do?”
“Let’s just say Graysie’s not the only one with an MVW contract signed, notarized, and finalized.”
A lump came up in my throat.
“Ain’t no fuckin’ way.”
Angus nods. It’s Graysie’s turn to chuckle.
“Pretty easy, Superchief. MVW is part of the High Octane Television network. As such, they are also very much a direct feeder to HOW. A developmental territory, if you will. You work for Ray McAvay now.”
My anger flared.
“I’m not wrestling for MVW. I’ll quit, sit out my HOW contract, I don’t give a fuck.”
“No,” Angus started. “You are not. You wrestle for HOW. But you manage Graysie Parker in the Missouri Valley Wrestling association. Dig it?”
“Who signed off on this shit, Lee?”
My head exploded.
“Excuse the fuck out of me?”
“Scott Woodson. Your favorite. Said something about keeping you on your toes while you’re, ah, how did he put it?” Angus looked up at Graysie’s smiling face.
“Getting used to the High Octane style.”
The burrito was gone, and so was my patience.
“Get out,” I whispered through gritted teeth.
Graysie tried to say something funny. “But-”
“I SAID OUT!”
Angus and Graysie shared another look as silence hung on the air.
“Come on, Graysie. Let’s let him stew on this one for a while.”
Angus stood and the two of them made their way back out of the room and back from whence they came. The entire time all I could think about was different and progressively violent ways of making the both of them wish they’d never got a kick out of this stupid little fucking idea.
“God. Fucking. Dammit.”
The worst part?
I was out of burritos.
Here’s another thing, Jack.
I’m not scared of your little hardcore fetish.
I have no problem beating you all over the Best Arena with every kind of plunder I can get my hands on. Brass knuckles, lead pipe, steel chair, I don’t give a fuck Jack I’m down for whatever when it comes to this shit. Hell, if Mike Best can have a Somebody’s Actually Gonna Die match at Alcatraz I don’t see any reason why we can’t bring hand grenades and tanks into this shit.
Patriot missiles? Are those still a thing?
Weapons of Mass Destruction?
Fuck it, Jack, let’s split some goddamn atoms!
. . .
Of course I’m being facetious.
This is HOW, Jack, violence is the accepted currency.
We all fight dirty.
Everybody tries to hit everybody else with a brick when given half a chance.
I’ll drop you on your head until you’re drowning in a pool of slobber and then I’ll pin you with a handful of tights just because I know that Hortega and Boettcher ain’t gettin’ paid to stop it. So yeah, we’ll fight. Bring some barbed wire, see if I give a shit, I’ll bring razor wire. It doesn’t matter if we’re being honest, right?
And don’t give me any of that garbage about how you just really like to fight. We all like to fight, dickhead, that’s why we do what we do. I’ll set you on fire and give your burnt corpse a Starbreaker Knee if that’s what it takes to move up the two or three spots in the rankings that you’re worth to me right now.
You can’t stop me, Jack.
You can’t hope to contain me.
You can maybe not die, I’m told you’re good at that.
But don’t get your expectations up.
I’m not coming to Refueled XLI for a nice competitive match or for a hardcore spectacle. I’m coming to kick your shit in until you can’t continue, and then I’ll be along about my merry way. If it means pretending that you can still fly high on those knees of yours and grounding you into the mat, I’m prepared to do that. If it means a sword fight in the middle of the ring, I’m ready for that too.
And just in case you weren’t sure…
All those years ago, I was always better than you.
At the end of the day, you’re gonna find out that I’m still better than you.
Then, much like in the cases of the other twelve people who’ve handed your ass to you this year, you’ll take your place as another notch on my belt. And that, Jack, will be as close as you get to moving the needle back in the direction of relevance as it pertains to High Octane Wrestling. Or maybe I’m wrong Jack, maybe you’re more than a played out hardcore gimmick and an ever-decreasing nostalgia pop.
Let’s be honest, though.
We both know better than that.
And seriously, Jack, so does everyone else.