I never really had a family, growing up.
I don’t mean that I’m a fucking lizard person or anything. I wasn’t hatched from an egg on a beach, or set adrift down a river and raised by wolves. But let’s face it, I’m the product of a deadbeat drug addict and a narcissist wrestling promoter. In what version of my Memoirs do you expect to read about the value of sitting down for a meal as a family? I didn’t visit a dentist for the first time until I was sixteen years old. I learned how to forge my mother’s signature in the third grade, because I knew she’d never be home for enough daylight to remember to sign my permission slips. I met so many “new dads” into my teens that eventually, I didn’t even bother to learn their names anymore. I didn’t have a “family”– my mother fucked Lee Best for an eight ball of cocaine, and he didn’t stick around long enough to find out if I popped out with a goatee and an eyepatch.
But hey, everyone has a hard luck story, right?
Some kids are born without arms. Some kids are born in third world countries. Some kids had to share a bunk bed with Darin Zion. There were a million children out there who had it worse than me, and I don’t waste a whole lot of time feeling sorry for myself. That’s not what this is– this isn’t gonna be some “poor me” sob story.
This is a story about family.
This year, I turned thirty four years old. To me, that means that I have now spent exactly half of my life pursuing the dream of someday being a world famous professional wrestler. I took all that anger and all that angst and all that fucking childhood neglect, and I turned into the kind of hate fuel that makes a man achieve his dreams. I turned it into a dream, and then I made that dream a reality. Dan Ryan looked me in the eyes in the parking lot of the Meadowlands, and he told me to take what you deserve in this world, because no one else would give it to you.
And for seventeen years, I have done exactly that.
For seventeen years, I have hate-fucked the system, stuck my middle finger up at the rules, and put my own needs ahead of everyone else in the name of “getting what I deserved”. And it’s a solid strategy. 10/10, would recommend it, because it made me a Hall of Famer. I’m not suddenly having a change of heart, just because my one millionth go around on the carousel of “MIKE VERSUS LEE, NEW AND EXCITING” has the crowd begging for me like Keith Sweat. That’s not what this is, either. Like I said…
This is a story about family.
Because let’s face it. I’m a selfish, conniving, manipulating, politicking motherfucker, and I have been now for half my life. I’m not the kind of guy who makes a lot of friends. I’m not the kind of guy you invite over for Thanksgiving. I’m barely a guy you tolerate when you’re waiting in line at a catering table. For a guy like me, if you don’t have family, you’ve got nothing. And for half of my life, I have done what I wanted, said what I wanted, and taken what I wanted, because I didn’t have friends. I didn’t have family. I was beholden to nothing and no one, and instead of mourning over it, I celebrated it.
But it turns out that I was wrong.
I’ve had a family for ten years now.
And I’m not just talking about the Group of Death. Make no mistake, the love I feel for the four people I share a locker room with bears stating and stating often. I would take a bullet for these motherfuckers without blinking an eye. Max Kael is my brother– he pisses me off, sometimes we fight, but in the end he always has my back, and I have his. Dan Ryan is my mentor– he’s the reason I got into this business, one of my most trusted allies, and one of the only human beings that I trust to never bullshit me. Cecilworth Farthington is my best friend– my ride or die, if you’re a bird I’m a bird, people have some questions level bee eff eff. And Lindsay Troy. What do I even say about Lindsay? Without her, there is no Group of Death. The woman who always has my back and checks me on my bullshit. My ultimate co-conspirator. These people are my friends, these people are my family, and these people are what continue to make this stupid business fun for me, even though I’ve done everything that there is to do.
But they aren’t the family that I’m talking about.
I’m talking about High Octane Wrestling.
Yeah, cue the boos, hack premise, right? I can see you rolling your eyes, and I don’t give a fuck. I’ve been in High Octane Wrestling for longer than I’ve ever been in any relationship in my entire life. Feels fucking weird to even think about that– if my relationship with HOW was a child, it would be approaching puberty by now. Every single Saturday, or Monday, or Thursday, or Friday, or whatever fucking day the show is from year to year, we get together for a big family event, and it’s made up of all the stupid shit you see at every family reunion:
Your dumbass cousin Darin, who has a big heart but always wants to go out back and pet the rabbits. Your drunk fuck Uncle Scotty, who is a lot of fun until he gets a few beers deep and starts asking everybody to be in a tag team with him. You bring along a few of your buddies from high school– guys like Doozer and Cancer Jiles, who I met back in DREAM. Guys like Bobby Dean, who I met on the indies. They come and go– sometimes they wander off on their own, and sometimes your brother Cecilworth kicks them so hard in the bum that they wake up in another timezone, working for a guy who is always asking Lee Best for McDonald’s money. It doesn’t matter, you welcome them back with open arms.
Your nephew Scoot shows up with an earring at Christmas, and everyone makes fun of him so hard for four years that he stops being able to wrestle good. Your step-penguin is always pitching business ideas and tells you he’s a hitman sometimes, but you know that he’s a good, solid, reliable dude. And shit, every once in a while you have to throw someone out of the party for being kind of a dickhead, but that’s life.
You fight with your family, and you call each other names. You yell, and you scream, and you fight, and you don’t speak for forty eight hours. But in the end, you fucking hug it out, because that’s what family does. Family isn’t just about positivity and fuzzy feelings, it’s about having enough respect for the people that you love to tell them to suck it up and stop being a bitch. It’s about being able to dig deep and admit that you were wrong. It’s about not throwing away a relationship over some temporary bullshit, because you know that you need those people in your life, no matter how shitty something might feel in the short term.
Sometimes, family is about tough love.
So before I say everything that I have to say, I want you to know that I love you. I want you to know that we have been down a crazy road, with ups and downs, and there have been times that we didn’t see eye to eye. We’ve exchanged shitty texts, and annoyed phone calls, and we’ve both suffered the burnout of not knowing when to just walk away for a while. You are a good friend, and I am honored to be still doing this with you in 2020.
But this time, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew… Doozer.
OH SHITFUCK CLASSIC MIKE BEST BAIT AND SWITCH, HOW DID I FALL FOR IT AGAIN?
Rest your head, baby bird– ICON Daddy is gonna feed you.
Dooze, I know what you’re expecting from me this week. I watched you try to raise a living human being from the grave, somehow. I watched you take a bunch of potshots, and then get your little serious voice on. And what you expect is for me to sleep on you– to fall into the same trap that the rest of them have fallen into, time and time again, and treat the eGG Bandits like they’re a joke.
But I know you better than that, Doozer.
Because you’re family.
Because you and I were throwing our dicks down on the table long before HOW came calling. Because you have been one of my best friends and one of my worst enemies in this industry. Because if there is any one thing I’ve learned over the last ten years, it’s that the eGG Bandits have always thrived on being taken lightly. You throw your eggs, and you do your goofy little skits, and you make everybody laugh, all the while hoping that no one notices the fire in your eyes and the acid in your veins.
You’re looking at this as your ticket up, aren’t you?
You’re staring at War Games with a little twinkle in your eyes, and looking at that last spot on Team Lee. Imagining a world where you’re standing in the middle of the ring in Normandy, with that belt held high over your head. Remembering what it was like to be on top, all those years ago, and knowing that this match is your last chance to get noticed. Your last chance to escape the eternal hell of jokes about “which came first”. Your last chance to be THE GUY, instead of just being another guy.
I know you’ve got that itch, Doozer.
And I’m begging you to keep it at bay.
As your friend. As a man who considers you to be family, because I fucking love my HOW family. I’m begging you not to make a mistake that’s going to cost you more than just a match. This opportunity that you see before you is an illusion. Smoke and mirrors. You’re stepping into the ring with two of the most vicious killers in the history of High Octane Wrestling, and sometimes loving someone means having to be honest with them.
Sometimes, it means a little bit of tough love.
When I was eleven years old, I told my mother that I wanted to be Superman when I grew up. That I wanted to fly high up in the air, and save people from burning buildings, and be bulletproof. That I would do anything that I had to do to become Superman. I was fucking beaming when I told her, man. I thought my Mom was going to be so proud of me. And she leaned in real close, and I could smell the booze on her breath. She got this real shitty smile on her face– the kind that only the cruel know how to wear. And do you know what she said to me, Doozer?
She said, “Superman isn’t real, dipshit.”
And to you, maybe that sounds like a sad story. To you, maybe that sounds like a mother crushing her little boy’s spirit. But to me? To me, it was one of the only favors that she ever did for me. Because she managed my expectations. She let me know right then, right there, that just because you want something with all your heart, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. You can’t just dream it, believe it, and achieve it. Superman isn’t real, Doozer, and I learned that when I was eleven years old.
You’re forty seven.
I have known Bobby Dean for almost fifteen years, and I love him like a brother, but when he cashed in a lottery ticket and tried to make his career off my back, I elbowed him so hard that he took a two week nap and lost the baby weight. I could have paralyzed him. I could have taken his life, Doozer. And if you don’t keep that fire inside of you down to a dull fucking roar, then I will snuff it out and I will leave nothing left but smoldering ashes.You said that the Mike Best you see today isn’t the same guy you knew ten years ago, and you’re right.
This guy is better.
This guy is at the top of his game. This guy has hardly missed a step in four years, and has lost less times since 2016 than you’ve quit and re-signed with HOW. And I’m really glad we finally have a match against each other this week, man! I’m sincerely excited for you! I’m totally good with you coming down to the ring with your little carton of eggs and doing your little routine– pew pew, we are the eggmen, googoojajoob. Great fucking stuff. Super entertaining!
You are an incredible friend, a brother, and a hell of a fucking guy, Dooze. If I ever get married, I’ll probably at least ask you to be an usher, but let’s make one thing clear. If you don’t miss me with that “something to prove” bullshit this Saturday, you’re going to learn the same lesson that so many brothers have learned, as they stared up at the lights and prayed for mercy.
Superman is dead, and I wear the fucking pants in this family.
Now let me know when you’re ready to hug it out.