For Immediate Release
From The Rolling Tray of Rhys Townsend
So…here we are again. I’d be lying to you if I thought it’d happen this quickly, given that he wasn’t even around, off fucking about doing…I honestly don’t know. I didn’t pay attention when I wasn’t around. But I know he wasn’t here. I mean…he might have been? I know there was some fucking around with a mask, and some son I’d never even seen before the other week. I don’t know. But the match this week…?
Personally? I’m flattered.
Three matches is all it took. Two singles matches before I’m being put into tag team matches because there’s a World Championship match going for someone in the top 5 of the singles rankings…Three matches before Lee is sending one of his longest tenured ass lickers and The Son at me with a guy who…well…I’m gonna be blunt here. He might as well not be here. Hell…I’d have preferred a handicap match if I’m honest. But such is life. Such is the booking of Lee Best. We all know it’s gonna take a fucking miracle this week for me to go 4-0.
So…Shall we do this again, Mike? We can front up all we want. I could tell you how much I want to go destroy the Sovereign of Starrgentina, about how honoured I am to step into the ring with one of the guys who made me fall in love with the sport, and you can tell the world about how much you want to take Brian Hollywood apart and…and…
We can lie, right?
We can lie.
We can tell the world that we’re not gonna be laser focused on each other. That it’s a tag team match, there are two other people in it, and, well, it’s not just about us. We can sit here and talk shit at each other for a few thousand words in blogs, letters, missives…whatever you wanna call them, and we can chuck them a few hundred words at the end. Y’know. The lip service.
But…I don’t fancy doing that dance right now. I don’t want to talk endless reams of shit to one of the few guys I genuinely respect in this sport. I just wanna ask one, simple question.
See, I get that’s a simple, boring question, and I’m sure you can go off and elaborate and explain everything three times over in some insanely complicated fashion with at least seven twists, so anyone who attempts to understand comes away confused and just defaults to “Mike Best is a Genius”, which is a neat trick…but genuinely, why?
I know you’ve been watching me since I’ve returned, the same way I’ve watched you supposedly reappear on the scene. And…as far as I’ve been able to tell, there’s very little difference in what we’ve been saying…that the only real difference is where we’re standing when we’re saying it. I’m standing on my own, no backup, no nothing – just me. You? You’re in the Alliance.
I’d love to say that I think it’s cowardly, but I don’t – I understand that bit of it. Saying shit is always easier when you’ve got backup…but, again.
To see the one guy I respect the most in this business take the lazy option…it’s disappointing, y’know? Regardless, you’re probably still widely regarded as the best wrestler on the planet, and as always, I look forward to testing myself against competition. It’s a particular delight that you’re one of my opponents this week. Nobody has ever pushed me as hard. Means the competition will be as good as it gets, and, well, you know me. That’s exactly the sort of challenge I embrace.
Can’t wait to see you again,
‘Cause I look for scarlet and you look for ultra-violet.
And we are exhausted by all this pretending,
We just can’t resist the violence.
And you need a melody, I only need the silence.
But each time we battle,
The blood and the fury takes us a little higher.
“Three and fucking zero, Rhys! Three and fucking zero! You looked like a fucking MACHINE out there, bro! A FUCKING MACHINE!”
You know, dear reader, this is quite obviously an exclamation of joy. However, the harsh Cardiff accent cuts deep across your eardrums. It’s unpleasant.
“I FUCKING LOVES IT, BRO! WHAT A FUCKING RETURN! NO FUCKER THOUGHT YOU WERE WINNING, BUT BOOM, DAS SUPLEXEN~!, UN…DAI….TRI!”
Yes, reader, that was one, two, three yn Gymraeg. Or, y’know. In Welsh. As always, we endeavour to bring some culture to your life. Today, we find ourselves in the tree lined avenues of Cathays Park, right slap bang in the centre of Wales’ capital city. Our two protagonists for the day are walking down the street, engaging in conversation. The louder one, the one with the horrific Cardiff accent, wearing the matching tee shirt and shorts combo so favoured by those who are “fashionable”. Unlike his usual style, this brand actually do splash their obnoxious logo right across the front of the shirt. And the other? He’s our primary protagonist, a 6’1, 270ish pound man. Normally, Rhys Townsend just walks around looking like, well, Rhys Townsend. But today? Today, there’s a hat. And sunglasses.
You could say it’s an attempt at a disguise, but let’s face it – even in the capital of Wales, there aren’t exactly many men who look anything remotely like Rhys Townsend. But an attempt was made.
The fact that the hat and shirt he’s wearing are blatantly advertising Townsend’s Taco Shack really doesn’t help here.
Regardless, there’s actually a smile on that face. Not something we’re used to seeing, if we’re honest. But it’s there.
“Yeah, Daf, it’s been good so far. Not that I’m particularly paying much attention to the results. Like I’ve been saying to you since the moment I decided to come back, it’s not about the result, it’s about the effort. I do that, the results will come.”
“And they have bloody come, Rhys. They bloody have! You just beat the top ranked wrestler and also, handed the World Champion his first loss of the year, as far as I can tell. I mean, who fucking knows if the website monkeys have all the roster shit up to date, but, yeah.”
“In a tag team match, Daf. Easy enough for them to explain away. But yeah, I bet it stings. Still, just proves I’m right. Focus on the effort, not the result. The results are coming because, well…yeah.”
A small little chuckle emerges from the larger of the two Welshmen.
“You get what I’m saying. Right? Last week was nice, but this week matters more. Next week matters even more again. And so on.”
“Yeah…but don’t you think you should take a moment to enjoy what you’ve done so far? Fuck, Rhys, it ain’t just reeling off three straight victories on returning, it’s doing that in three straight weeks. And then going again for a fourth. You get that that’s pretty much unheard of today, right?”
“Just doing me, Daf. Just doing me.”
“But you gotta enjoy your successes, bro! C’mon! I can make a couple calls, I can get a booth for us at Revs with table service…”
“You know Fuel is more my speed, Daf.”
“Fine. I can call the fucking weirdos down at Fuel, I can get…I dunno, do they do table service?”
“Mate, it’s the city’s main rock and metal bar. You honestly think someone’s gonna bring your shit to you?”
“I mean…if I pay enough…?”
A full on, mirth filled laugh echoes around the overly large buildings that make up the civic centre of Cardiff, the two men strolling past City Hall on their way into the commercial centre of the city.
“Not how it works dude. Nobody’s better than anyone, everyone gets the same service. Gotta go to the bar for your shot of Jager, man. Queue nice. Unless the Jager girls are there, in which case, the Jager comes to you.”
“You say that, Rhys, but the last time we were there, you got set up on your own little table, you paid a couple hundred quid so the smoking ban was an irrelevance to you…and you seemed to have a great fucking night. Don’t think you bought a drink. So it’s not really like you get what it’s like trying to get to that bar, given that people just bring shit to you…”
“I wasn’t always famous, Daf.”
“Nah, but I bet you’ve always been a big fucker, Rhys. People gonna move for that shit.”
“Ehh…maybe. But I’m good, Daf. There’s no reason to celebrate this week. I got another match coming up, gonna lose that almost for sure…but I still wanna make sure I put out a good performance. Getting pissed because I won an ultimately meaningless tornado tag team match? Yeah nah bro. I’m good.”
“Not bothered about that?”
“Being teamed with Hollywood to take on Best and Starr. He’s what, two and eight? Two and nine?”
“Something like that.”
“So aren’t you mad?”
“What’d be the point, Daf? Lee’s gonna book what Lee’s gonna book. I don’t hold the pencil…I’m just a wrestler. I show up to compete, and then I go home. He wants me to be 3-1, and let’s face it, barring miracles, there’s almost no way I’m not gonna be 3-1 after this match. Hollywood will show up at the last minute, like he always does, living in his own little world and will be shit. Nothing new. Was the same a decade ago. So the result doesn’t matter, Daf. The effort does.”
“Again with that shit. I get it, bro, I honestly do…but for me, if I knew I was gonna lose this week, I’d celebrate last week’s victory.”
“And wouldn’t it feel a little hollow?”
“What, celebrating a victory?”
“Yeah. When you know the work isn’t done, would you be happy celebrating a small victory?”
The two men stop on Cardiff’s Queen Street. Once the main shopping area of the city, it’s long since been surpassed by the giant mall that’s been built over the last twenty years. It looks nice…but empty shops are rife, and the ones that are here? Poundland. Home Bargains. You know the type of store.
Townsend produces a spliff from his pocket, and under the gaze of, well, quite a few people who have figured out it’s him but are leaving him a bit of space, proceeds to ignite the thing, taking one long ass deep toke as he does.
“I mean…it’s not small though, Rhys. You beat the World Champion. Someone like Darin Zion would dine out on that for literal months, bro.”
“Yeah…one of us is a five time World Champion, Hall of Famer and is one of the most successful wrestlers to ever exist if you wanna go by win rate…the other is trying to run a match back from ten years ago in a desperate attempt to get on the PPV card. There’s levels, Daf. Levels.”
“Yeah, but still buddy…I don’t get why that means you can’t celebrate a little. Live some. It was a big win for someone making a comeback like you are. Fuck, Rhys, that was quite literally a big win for absolutely anyone on the roster, and you’re just here acting like it’s fuck all. Absolutely fuck all.”
Townsend stops at the city’s designated “Goth Spot”, taking a moment to have a smoke and, well, if we’re honest about it, a bit of a sigh. And if you’re not from the UK, well, I have no idea if this carries over, but over here? Pretty much in every city, there’ll be some public monument where the alt kids gather. Usually, it has steps. Cardiff, with all of it’s flatness, does not have steps at it’s goth spot.
No, all it has is a statue of an all time great Welshman, Aneurin Bevan.
(No, not Gareth Bale. I don’t think we’ve quite figured out how to fund a Statue of Liberty sized statue here yet. I mean, ideally bigger, but we’ll settle for that sorta size. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.)
“I’m gonna try and keep this real simple, Daf. Real simple.”
There’s slight frustration on the professional wrestlers’ face as he resumes letting the words escape his brain via his mouth.
“Beating two guys in a tag team match, to me, is meaningless. It is meaningless because I expect, and am expected to be able to beat those sorts of guys in Championship matches. In pay per views. Not in throwaway tornado tag team matches, no matter how great it was to have the lowest of low key Ground Zero reunions. There was nothing on the line other than the win, and yeah, sure, it’s good to win. It’s what, if I’m honest with you, what I’m used to in this business. But get excited over it? Be obscenely happy because, in my third week back, I won a meaningless tag team match?
No. Just no.”
Another pause in the big Welshman’s monologue. Or a smoke break. They’re pretty much the same thing. He stops leaning against the marble based statue, gesturing further into town, and the two men continue walking.
“I mean, Daf, I’m not saying I’m not happy…because I am. This match this week says that Lee Best is scared – not worried, but scared. Last week, the tornado tag? He was worried. Now, he’s scared. He knows I’m not Scott Stevens, I’m not…I’m not like anyone else who he’s battled before. Why do you think he fell over himself to give me a spot in the Alliance? The absolute last thing he needs if he wants pure Alliance dominance is a motivated, engaged Rhys Townsend. Because, Daf, I don’t know how to give up, not when I want something. Lee knows what Godson doesn’t. He knows what guys like Solex and Ryan don’t. So him, sticking me in matches like this?”
The two walk around the small church that sits in the middle of Cardiff, surrounded by shopping centres and restaurants, before heading down the aptly named Church Street.
“That – that makes me happy, Daf. Real happy. Because it means I’m succeeding. It means the results are following the process. So…I just have to keep doing what I’m doing. It’s not a case of being there in case they slip up, it’s a case of being so dogged, so determined, so machine like that I cause them to slip up. I make the mistakes happen.”
“Yeah…that’s fair. I mean, I’ll be honest bro, I don’t really understand the business itself…we both know I came from managing social media accounts…it’s not like I decided to get into this with you because I love wrestling, it’s just because we’re mates and you pay a good wage.”
“Pay a good wage to all my employees, Daf.”
“Yeah. I’ve hea……”
And just like that, his voice tails away. We’ve arrived at the infamous Townsend’s Taco Shack. Normally, I’d be here to give you a description of it’s resplendent features, the large bright board with the name of the restaurant, the Lucha Libre influenced interior design, the carefully curated menu (which does indeed feature more than just Crab Leg Tacos – though, obviously, they are the headliner.), the hilariously awful comic caricature of Townsend’s face…but that would be missing the most relevant things, as Dafydd did not trail off in wonder, like some professional wrestling fans who have made the pilgrimage do when they find Townsend behind the counter serving up tacos, no.
Dafydd trailed off in shock.
For you see, dear reader, the Taco Shack is not in pristine condition. No, it’s not dirty, it was clearly cleaned up after last night’s service, but…well, it’s safe to say there’s been an attack.
Possibly some sort of terrorist one.
The frontage of the shack has been sprayed with the letters TLF, a gaudy orange if you’re curious about the colour. The windows haven’t been smashed because, well, our terrorists sprayed the windows and one would assume that they’d want to leave their recognisable letters. And speaking of letters, there appears to be one taped to the door. The larger, absolutely incensed man, a man who has smashed heads through doors with nothing other than his hands and rage is positively seething with rage as he rips the letter off. He immediately starts reading it aloud – whether this is for the benefit of his companion, or if he needs to verbalize the words as he reads is up for debate, but regardless, he speaks the letter out loud.
“Dear Rice Townshed,
We are the Taco Liberation Front. We are here to make you pay for your crimes against tacos. We are here to advocate for the tacos you don’t, like crunchy tacos and Taco Bell tacos. We will destroy your Taco Empire and replace it with one that sells only crunchy tacos made from the kits you can buy in your local supermarket. Fear us. We come for your tacos…
Daf, who the FUCK are the Taco Liberation Front and why the fuck are they fucking with my shit?! This shit said Taco Bell, I know those fuckers are in the next street over…”
With that, the letter is crumpled and a man who’s fought Kostoff in Alcatraz’s Prison Yard, who’s competed in numerous War Games starts making tracks towards the Taco Bell. However, his much smaller (5’8, 150ish against a 6’1, 270ish guy, if you want the exact figures), immediately places himself in the way.
“Rhys, stop, calm, think about it, bro. This ain’t Taco Bell. They’re like a multi-national corporation, they could just hire like, legit fuckin’ mercenaries to do this, not some halfassed organisation who didn’t even smash the windows ‘cause they were fuckin’ dumb enough to do their graffiti first.”
“But that ain’t saying they aren’t funded by Taco Bell! I’m gonna go smash up that fucking shittip right now, Daf. Right the fuck now.”
“And then maybe South Wales Police do something that ain’t racist for once and arrest you. You miss Chaos, Lee Best and his lawyers see it as a chance to fuck your unlubricated ass, and then where are we? You wanna do something about this, bro, you need to go fight a terrorist organisation. Personally..I just reckon we hire more security for the time being…”
A large, powerful snort comes out of Townsend’s nostrils, as if he’s trying to flush all the frustration out of his system.
“Fight a terrorist organisation? I’ll be honest, bro, I know fuck all about that. My life is fuckin’ boring and is mostly just professional wrestling and tacos.”
“And you don’t know anyone from the wrestling who might know about this shit?”
“I mean…actually…I know one dude who might. He’s a bit busy…but maybe he can gimme some pointers or some shit.”
“So go call him. You go fight the terrorist organisation…I’ll sort out more security for the shop. Maybe some cameras?”
Townsend has already lost interest, fishing his phone out of his pocket, along with another spliff. He lights it, before he realises that he now has two on the go.
“Yeah. Sure. Fine. You go do that. I got a call to make myself.”
The battered, ancient, should probably trade it in for a new one iPhone comes out of the pocket of the shorts he was wearing. We can see him scroll quickly through his phonebook, before he settles on a name within the T’s. It’s Trent. If you know about Trent…well, you’d know he’s probably a good shout to at least know something about this sorta thing. Genuinely wouldn’t rule Trent being behind the overthrow of some African or South American dictator.
But this, dear reader, is where we leave you. Heavy with the mystery of the Taco Liberation Front, laden with the promise of a Taco War.
Ever been to a county fair,
Where all the games are scams?
Now apply what you know,
To all the things you don’t.
Politics and business,
Most love many friendships.
Throw until your tendons tear,
Those bottles stay weighted.
Intro – Sleep Token – Higher
Outro – Drug Church – Myopic