Location: Chicago, Illinois: Stevens Apartment
January 24, 2022: Time: 2:30 pm
The Windy City is quite busy for a Monday afternoon as there are cars honking loudly and the pedestrians are not as friendly as they walk passed one another. As we continue to see the Chicago Skyline from a balcony afar our attention quickly turns back inside the apartment as there is an argument happening. As we make our way further inside the complex we see Scott Stevens wearing jeans and an old McKenna Blue HOW t-shirt arguing back and forth with someone, but that individual cannot be seen in the apartment.
The shouting echoes throughout the apartment and the person who Stevens is talking to on a Google Meet is none other than James Ranger, also known as, Black Mamba. Mamba immediately goes quiet and the Texan regains his composure.
“Look man, I’m not mad. We did our best, and…..”
Mamba cuts Stevens off.
“Well our best wasn’t good enough.”
Ranger states the obvious in a defeated tone.
“What did you expect?”
The Texan asks his partner who shrugs on the video call.
“You have to understand that Steve Solex and Clay Byrd have been actively wrestling non-stop every week. Outside of Byrd having a temporary vacation with his arm being broken he hasn’t missed time and neither has Solex. Let’s look at the footage again.”
Stevens rewinds the video a bit before hitting play on the screen.
Stevens then drags Solex off of the mat, whips him into the ropes, and goes for a clothesline only for Solex to duck underneath it. As Stevens turns back towards Solex, he is met with a shoulder tackle that sends both men to the mat. Both men scramble to their feet, rush at one another, and connect with clothesline on one another that send both crashing to the mat.
Joe Hoffman: And both men are down and hurting after connecting with clotheslines on one another! This is the pivotal moment of the match because whoever can get to their corner first could potentially decide the outcome of this match! And Clay Byrd is CHOMPING at the bit to get in the ring.
Both men are slow to rise to their feet, with both men trying to make their way to their corner. Stevens grabs Solex’s right foot and holds onto him while Byrd has his arm extended, looking for the tag in. Solex then proceeds to kick Stevens in the face with his left boot, freeing him in the process, and getting the tag to Byrd. Byrd comes roaring into the ring, grabbing Stevens off of the mat, whipping him into the ropes, and connecting with a power slam on Stevens.
Joe Hoffman: And Byrd comes in hotter than a Texas day in summer! I’ve heard rumblings backstage that Byrd has been ready for a fight since the end of ICONIC and he’s getting his chance to let it all come out.
Stevens rolls over to his corner and tags in Mamba who comes in and connects with a leaping knee to the jaw of Byrd. Byrd drops to one knee from the shot while Mamba bounces off the ropes. As Mamba gets close to Byrd though, Byrd spears him and leaves him lying in the middle of the ring. Byrd makes his way up to his feet, watching as Mamba makes his way back up to his feet. Byrd then bounces off the ropes and connects with The Texas Lariat, which flips Mamba inside out! Byrd then goes for the cover.
DING DING DING
Joe Hoffman: Byrd with the Texas Lariat to put this match away! Byrd and Solex pick up the first victory in Group B!
Stevens hits the stop button on the video after the count of three.
“See what I mean?”
Stevens asks the question and his partner grudgingly nods in agreement.
“Mamba, I know you are a proud wrestler, but shit like this happens. I mean this is your first match in what, a few years?”
“That sounds about right.”
James responds and Stevens quickly replies.
“See, and this is my first real match in like seven or eight months. We are both rusty as hell going against two well oiled machines. We had a chance, but it was a long shot at best.”
Stevens chuckles and so does Mamba.
“Look man, we may be down, but we aren’t out of this tournament. All we need to do is do a little more prep work for our next opponents and I believe we will walk out with the victory.”
Stevens’ words of encouragement seem to cheer up Mamba.
“You’re right. We can meet up sometime next week and start prepping for our next match.”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Speaking of matches……”
Mamba starts his statement and it immediately gets the attention of Scott Stevens.
“What about it?”
Stevens nonchalantly asks and Mamba chuckles.
“I bet you didn’t expect it to come this soon, did you?”
Curiosity fills Mamba’s tone and Stevens shakes his head no.
“Honestly, no I didn’t. I guess that’s the difference between the Lee Best and the Michael Oliver Best regimes. Lee would have had me jump through hoops and had me somehow lose the opportunity before I could actually have the world title match. Mr. Best though is different as he must see that I am ready and is giving me the opportunity now despite my recent performance in the Maurako Cup and doesn’t need to drag it out with Conor Fuse to the next pay-per-view.”
Mamba listens and nods.
“The more important question I should be asking you is, are you ready?”
The question hits Stevens as he leans back on his leather coach and takes a moment before answering.
“I think I am.”
The confidence in the Texan’s tone brings a nod of agreement from his partner.
“You sound ready Scott.”
“James, I feel ready.”
“Well, next time we see each other, hopefully you are fifteen pounds heavier in the waist area.”
Mamba gives the Texan some last words of encouragement before exiting out of the Google Meet.
“Same here buddy.”
Stevens replies to himself as he exits also. Scott closes his laptop that is sitting on his glass coffee table and leans back on his couch again. He looks up at the ceiling of the apartment for a few minutes before reaching into his left pocket and pulling out his iPhone 13 Pro Max. He clicks on the green phone icon and clicks the second name under the favorites section and that name is….
Stevens puts the phone to his ear and listens to it ring until a deep southern drawl answers.
The man on the other line waits for a response.
“Dad, I think it’s time we get the band back together.”
Stevens tells his father before hitting the red button to end the call. Scott places his phone onto the table next to the laptop before getting up and walking out of the room.
Sooner, rather than later is what I said to you at Refueled and it seems Mr. Best believes in that sentiment as well Conor. You and I have known each other for a while now because you and your brother battled my brother and cousin in DEFIANCE for tag team supremacy. Despite what my old man may say, I wasn’t surprised you and your brother gave my family issues when ya’ll battled each other for tag gold because I saw that you put in the work and you had that fire and drive inside of you that few wrestlers have nowadays. You aren’t concerned with money, or women, or padding your stats when it comes to accomplishments and accolades because you simply want to be the best and you proved that in the tag division and you’ve proven it in here in High Octane Wrestling when you became the World champion, twice. Most people would be shocked to hear that a video game obsessed individual holds the top championship in one of the top wrestling promotions in the world.
Unlike some people who may have blown you off in the past because they are too busy with their Applebee’s menus and are blinded by their only star of self-delusion because a feud involving you doesn’t work for them, brother. I am a professional and I will work with anyone and everyone because that’s who I am. I grew up in this business and I paid my dues just like you to get to the top where you are now. You saw when I came into DEFIANCE I was battling the Murray Bros and Seth Burns for the top title, but before that when I was in UTA I was facing off against the likes of a dwarf in a frog costume and a wannabe Jamaican. Even here in HOW, I started at the very bottom against a dreg known as Chance Von Crank and moved up to the lower tier battling Matt Fury and Kirsta Lewis until I was able to capture 97 Red in my fifth anniversary with the company.
However, the landscape of High Octane has drastically changed since I was last at the top. It has gotten younger, hungrier. And because of this change in the hierarchy; veterans, legends, and even Hall of Famers have to change their ways to compete in the Refueled era or they will go the way of the dinosaurs as time and competition passes them by. Everyone wants to stay relevant, but only a few have pulled it off successfully in the new era, and you have made that task particular hard for the rest of us to catch up because you set the bar extremely high. I’m going to be brutally honest with you Conor when I tell you I’m not on your level. I know you’re going to tell me I earned this opportunity, but let’s pull out the strategy guide and break it down shall we. The match I earned this opportunity to face you was a battle royal where I was an active official and participate. I picked my spot and I did it by eliminating Jace Parker Davidson when he thought he had won. It lasted a few seconds. My last real match was teaming with Black Mamba for the first time in almost eight months to take on another Hall of Famer and a regular top contender for many championships, more importantly, the one you have in your possession currently. We lost. Granted, the two of us put up a fight, but the fight wasn’t good enough for two rusty individuals who haven’t seen the inside the ring for close to a year and a couple of years.
We were embarrassed and rightfully so. Happens when you are out a long time.
Steve Solex and Clay Byrd were well-oiled machines compared to the rust buckets of Mamba and myself and we were exposed. You have been a well-oiled machine since you debut and you have missed a beat. Take your tag match this past Sunday for instance; my partner brought his all that night and we still lost while you had a partner who barely showed up and you still won. You carried that team to victory; I cannot claim the same feat.
The major difference between us right now is your priorities.
You’re probably asking yourself what am I talking about, but you know exactly what I am talking about. You’ve had wars with Sutler Kael, Clay Byrd, Jace Parker Davidson, and Jeffrey James Roberts, but you are still fixated on that magical unicorn known as Michael Lee Best. Everything you’ve done since you won that World title from Sutler Kael at Bottomline because you defeated the End boss but not the Final Boss. When you lost it at Rumble at the Rock he began to live in your head rent free. Even when he was defeated in seven minutes and fifty seconds in classic fashion at ICONIC you still had him in the back of your mind even though you walked out the fucking champion once more. Even when you had your little games celebration, you still were questioning your place as champion because you didn’t go through Mike.
Who the fuck cares!!!
You won the tournament and became world champion, he didn’t.
End of story.
Let me tell you how this obsession with Mike Best going to go because no one knows better than me.
It’s going to end badly.
I wanted to face Mike for five years. FIVE YEARS. I begged, pleaded, and even demanded, but it never happened. When it finally happened, I beat him. However, that was the worst thing to happen to me and yes, I have had things done to me in HOW no one once done to them. You see, that victory plagued me for years because that was the only thing I talked about. I may have lost every match since then but I would constantly remind everyone that I defeated Mike Best. That was all I was anymore, and every time I faced Mike since ICONIC back in 2015, I have lost and it was a fucking beating I suffered. It wasn’t until I was served some humble pie when Mike kneed me into retirement. You see, if I would’ve just let the obsession go it would’ve worked out because when I won the world title I didn’t need to defeat Mike anymore to prove myself because I was the champion of High Octane, and that was good enough. You are the champion of High Octane and that should be your only focus because Mike Best isn’t challenging you at Refueled, I am. While you have been fixated on him, I been solely fixated on the thing you have strapped around your waist. Since I began my trials, my whole fixation is to regain 97 Red. I have done everything needed to get me back to where I need to be. Being the constant professional has gotten me everything when Mr. Best gave me the opportunity.
- 2021 Official of the Year against stiff competition from Sutler Kael and Rick Stevens.
- A number one contendership opportunity at Lethal Lottery, which I won.
- An induction into the prestigious HOW Hall of Fame 2021 Class alongside Evan Ward, Steve Solex, J.D., and Bryan McVay.
The only thing left to accomplish on my Road to Redemption is to become the World Champion one final time, and the more you focus on games, Elder Scrolls, and unicorns named Best, I will stand victorious over you and when that happens there won’t be any redos from previous savepoints.
It’s Game Over.