“So it’s violence, then.”
The slightest hint of a shrug rolls off the shoulders of the HOW ICON Champion, as he stares down at his phone and turns off the screen. It had taken Jace Parker Davidson all of about nine seconds to choose death over defeat, so maybe he’d been right– Tyler certainly gave him too much credit for being smart.
He stuff his phone into the back pocket of his jeans, grabbing his bag off the carousel and dropping the wheels to the floor. Flying commercial was fucking bullshit, but even moreso when your luggage is delayed by over an hour and you’re stuck sitting in a fucking airport staring at fat, miserable tourists headed to their fat, miserable destinations. Wasn’t Miami supposed to be filled with beautiful people?
Did these people eat them?
“About fucking time.” Tyler mutters, under his breath.
Rolling toward the exit, the God of Sons looks around for his ride, keeping his eyes peeled for some kind of a sign with his name on it. No way in hell could his father have expected him to fly commercial AND book his own Uber… the fuck was this, the stone age? They hadn’t been seeing eye to eye as of late, but even if Father and Son weren’t quite a big happy family at the moment, there’s no way he’d punish him this much.
“AYYYYY TYLER BEST HERE!” TAB hollers, stretching his arms out and making himself large. “IF YOU’RE HERE FOR TYLER BEST, SHOUT THAT SHIT OUT HOMIE.”
A lot of people certainly turn to look at him, but not a single one is carrying a sign at all, much less with his name on it. A couple of people play a game of “nudge nudge, is that that guy from wrestling?”, but not nearly as many as he’d like. See, in the pro wrestling hellscape that exists in 2022, there are ten thousand Fisher Price wrestling companies, and every wrestler works for all of them. They’re all actors and models and rockstars and billionaires, so it shouldn’t actually be a big deal to be a wrestler in this universe. It’s like running into a plumber.
Who is a billionaire.
For no reason.
“You gotta be fucking kidding me.” Tyler shakes his head.
He pulls his phone back out, hitting his father’s name on the speedial. This is not the kind of day-to-day bullshit that you bother Lee Best with, but it’s definitely worth bothering someone. May as well be the guy who blew a load into his mother and subsequently thinks he has the right to tell him how much he has to tip at a restaurant.
“You’d better answer, motherfucker.” TAB taps his foot, still holding his bag. “It was all towncars and private planes when you still thought I was gonna be your fucking mini-me. Two faced little cuck.”
The phone rings through, but eventually just goes to voicemail.
In an act of tantrum so thunderously impressive that it turns more heads than yelling his own name, Tyler lets out a guttural roar and throws the phone about as hard as he can, smashing it against the outside facing wall of the airport. As soon as the phone collides with the concrete, regret begins to slip in– this was his only form of communication, and thus his only way out of this airport.
You can’t fucking hail an Uber.
You can’t check your text messages. Your Twitter mentions. You can’t even ApplePay. This is the first time in Tyler Adrian Best’s life that he’s been without a screen, and he can already feel the anger and anxiety building from within him. He scrambles toward the phone and scoops it up off the airport floor, but the thing is just fucking busted. The screen is splintered like a windshield in a twelve car pile up, and the Ghost of Steve Jobs himself could not fix this phone.
“FUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” Tyler yells, literally looking toward the Heavens. “Fuck Miami. Fuck my dad. Fuck Uber. Fuck commercial. Fuck this stupid cheap ass phone. FUCK EVERYTHING.”
He stuffs the now smashed phone back into his pocket, shaking his head as he rolls his bag out through the exit and into the staggering Miami humidity.
This week was not going at all as he’d planned.
His travel is fucked. His schedule is fucked. JPD suddenly found his fucking boner and his focus and quit the whole goddamned pond he’d been dominating, so now his entire focus was on High Octane Wrestling. A properly motivated Jace Parker Davidson was one of the most dangerous forces of nature in existence, and that force of nature was now aimed squarely at Tyler Adrian Best and the HOW ICON Championship.
And he wants to defend them separately?
Maybe it’s the no-screens anxiety, for the first time, Tyler Adrian Best has begun to feel like he’s bitten off more than he can chew. What the fuck happens if he loses? His first singles match, after talking all that shit. Left with nothing– no title, no glory, no leverage. Just another guy bragging that he won War Games, but had nothing to show for it. This was bad. This was “have to take a shit but you’re in a thin-walled church full of nothing but hot girls” bad. This was “have to listen to Crash Rodriguez stutter through an entire OCW radio show but then he skips your segment because he’s big mad about HOW, which was the only reason you were even listening” bad.
And if you ever listened, trust me, that’s really bad.
They literally read the whole thing out loud.
It’s pretty R-Worded.
“Can someone please help me?” Tyler asks, walking into the crowd of smokers standing outside. “I broke my phone and I–”
No one even makes eye contact.
He quickly rolls his bag over toward one of the cops standing outside– the same ones who should be shutting down the airport smokers, but are too busy being fat and wasting taxpayer money and shooting at unarmed black people.
“Excuse me, officer.” Tyler begins, forcing a smile. “Can I borrow your phone? I need to get to my ho–”
The cop steps out into the middle of the terminal road, ignoring Tyler entirely and going back to directing traffic. Tyler’s mouth hangs halfway open, absolutely shocked at the lack of courtesy he’s receiving from these strangers. He’s in need. He needs help. He’s fucking stranded at the airport, and he isn’t even asking for much. A fucking Uber to a hotel, so that he can salvage this trip and get ready to do his goddamned job. For a better man, or at least an older one, this could be a moment of self reflection. A moment to think back to those homeless veterans outside of the restaurant, and show him what an evil prick he’s been for most of his life. This could be the moment that it all turns around.
“Fucking asshole.” Tyler mumbles, throwing a middle finger in the air. “Enjoy three divorces and a drinking problem you fucking prick.”
Maybe today isn’t a “lesson learning” day.
After all, Tyler doesn’t have a cool therapist to conveniently learn and develop from. He doesn’t have ninety seven ponds to dip his feet into, to develop a complex and not at all forced narrative that everyone is expected to follow between companies. Who the fuck is Sam Tolson? Is that one of those random Twitter catfish that ding Jace’s OnlyFans budget by fifteen bucks a month? Honestly, I can’t follow all of this.
Love you, Jace.
It’s all love.
But this is the ICON Championship.
This is the title that Mike Best made his entire career on, and it’s gonna look pretty stupid if his shithead kid loses it within one pay-per-view period of it being brought back specifically to build on this whole family lineage thing. Michael Lee Best was furious that the title he retired was being brought back as a “second World Title”, and even more furious that Lee Best had signed off on the idea in the first place. If Tyler loses it to Jace Parker Davidson, one of Michael’s longest and most competitive friends and rivals?
Well, maybe Tyler ought to sign a PWA contract.
And maybe he’d be safer using a Sharpie than a ballpoint.
Tyler reaches into his pocket, taking out his phone to see how far away from the hotel he is. Of course, he immediately feels like a fucking moron as he realizes again that his phone is absolutely dunzo. How did people figure this shit out before phones? Are there… maps available? He hasn’t seen any maps.
“Not this week.” he huffs, looking around at the humid apocalypse before him. “Fucking… any time but this week. Jesus Christ.”
He rolls his bag across the crosswalk, ignoring the line of taxis waiting for people in situations exactly like his. Do you know why? Because he’s eighteen years old and has absolutely no idea what a taxi is, or how they work. He doesn’t remember dial up. He doesn’t remember having to drive to the restaurant to pick up food. He doesn’t know literally anything about how to navigate the world, because he was raised on a consistent scholarship of Mike Best’s money in a world that didn’t require him to do anything for himself.
Tyler Best is an amazing wrestler.
And he’s fucking terrible at everything else.
“Can… can someone help me please?” Tyler asks, trying to hide the anxiety in his voice. “I just need to get to my hotel. I broke my phone and… ugh.”
He cuts himself off, with a long sigh.
This is fruitless. No one is going to help him. He’s going to die at this fucking airport and lose to Jace Parker Davidson by forfeit. Nancy Grace is going to do a three part special on him as a missing person. This isn’t supposed to happen to rich white kids.
He leans against the cement pillar of the parking garage, slumping down to his feet and resting with his roller bag next to him on the pavement, looking back at the airport in front of him. Travelers are headed in and out, completely unaware that they are literally ruining his life right now. He drops his elbows onto his knees, running his hands through his hair and thinking about where the fuck he’s going to sleep tonight.
You can’t wake home from the airport.
It’s probably illegal.
Besides, he’d have no idea where he’s going. Doesn’t have any cash. He’s never even been to Miami before. Kids like him get mugged. They get raped. They get murdered. Tyler feels absolutely no fear inside of a wrestling ring, but it turns out that put into a basic difficult situation in the real world, he falls apart faster than a Fisher Price alliance with the PWA. He is literally shaking, completely and totally triggered.
This is an anxiety attack.
Tyler tries to swallow, but there is nothing but sand in this throat. He’s pretty sure that he’s going to die, but he can’t even get a water without going back through airport security.
“Fuck this.” Tyler grits his teeth. “I’ll just fly home. Fuck CHAOS. Fuck my Dad. I’ll just quit.”
He has his credit card. He has his ID. He has enough to get back to Chicago. Serves his father right for leaving him in this shitty situation in the first place. All he had to do was have a car waiting for him– the same courtesy he’d have given to the rest of the Board. The fucking CEO of the company is about to lose his ICON Champion and his fucking main event over a singular act of pettiness that could have left him dead or homeless. HIS OWN SON. Fuck everything, Tyler Adrian Best is quitting this company and going to work for Aunt Lindsay that PRIME, because–
“Hey douchebag!” A voice rings out. “Your ride’s here! Get in the fucking car!”
Looking up from the pavement, Tyler nearly jumps out of his shoes as he’s shaken from his spiral, looking up at the car idling in front of him. The driver pushes the passenger door open, beckoning him in.
But it’s not his father.
It’s Jace Parker Davidson.
Project Ego 2.0.
I respect you, Jace. I respect you a lot more than I respect just about anyone in the wrestling business, because you call it like you see it. Maybe I don’t always agree with what you say, but I certainly respect that you don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t. Not like these other wishy-washy fucks, more worried about their public image than actually having something worth saying. I respect you inside and outside of that ring, but this week I don’t have any room for respect.
I gave you the warning shot.
You chose violence.
And I respect that too. So long as you’re willing to die in that ring, then I guess we’re gonna have ourselves a fucking banger at CHAOS 7. I had a near-death experience at the airport this week, and it really put some things into perspective for me. It really gave me some real-world knowledge that I need to absorb, and properly process. But one thing I know that it did for sure… was to remind me of what’s important.
Jace, this title is important to me.
I stood outside of a fucking airport for seven minutes today and it felt like an eternity. I thought that I was done for. I legitimately had no idea how to navigate this world outside of the wrestling business. I’m a child. You call me a grown man, and inside of that ring you’re sure as fuck right. But at the end of the day, I’m an eighteen year old kid and I’ve never worked a real job in my life. I’ve never struggled. You literally had to explain how taxis work on the drive back from the airport… the fuck am I going to do out in the real world?
This is what I was born to do, Jace.
Maybe I’m not willing to be so melodramatic as to say I’m willing to “die” out there, like you are, but fuck if I’m not gonna fight my ass off. I need to fly private. I need to have a little man with a little sign welcoming me to his car when I land. I need this credit card with my fucking name on it, and no maximum balance. I can’t go work at a fucking Wal-Mart, my guy– you could retire tomorrow and be set for life, but me?
You said it yourself.
I’m just getting started.
So good luck at CHAOS, Jace. I am going to do everything in my power to beat the ever loving fuck out of you and walk away with two championships, because anything less than “better than my father” and the world will look at me like a failure. Like a guy standing outside of an airport with a broken phone, who doesn’t know how to get to his hotel. I don’t want to be normal. I don’t want to be one of them. I don’t want to be a fucking mortal, Jace, I want to be a GOD. And I ascend to my supremacy this weekend.
Thanks for the ride, buddy.