I know you like a fight
I know you like to lie
I’m not gonna take it one more night
Back me against the wall
Toss me like a ragdoll
You can’t break me
I left the arena feeling particularly good. Not only did I finally get that singles win that’s been eluding me since the year started, but I got it in pretty convincing – and quick – fashion.
To say nothing of the fact that it was against Cecilworth’s last pay-per-view opponent, the winner of the LBI in which I completely shat the bed.
To say nothing of the fact that Jack won his own match in even faster and more convincing fashion.
We’re parting ways tonight until the next with our heads held high – because for the first time since March to Glory, and only the second time for me this year – we earned it.
Two things on my mind as I breathe the crisp Chicago air as soon as I’m free from the arena. One – we’re in. Winning our matches against Red and Ted put us in the War Games pool. Two – High Octane’s nothing if not efficient. I already knew the plans for this coming Refueled before I even got outta my gear, it’s MJFlyer against the Egg Bandits.
The team that just lost to HATE, Rick Dickulous and Scott Woodson. Two people that Jack and I are pretty familiar with.
I was relieved. After four months of nonstop boxing matches with the gods, it’s refreshing to step in the ring with mere mortals. I’ve never faced any of the Egg Bandits before, with the exception of Bobo – but if Scotty and Rick were too much for ‘em…
Don’t do that.
I know better than to ever, ever, ever dismiss an opponent. That’s when I lose the plot. Look at the LBI. I lasted longer than all my War Games partners last year, and assumed I’d be able to do the same.
They straightened me out, fast and brutal. Painful lesson, but sorely needed.
“Excuse me, Miss Flair?”
That snapped me out of my laser focus, and I look up, and I see a man, maybe forties, with two kids. Teenage looking boy and a younger girl. The girl’s lookin’ at me the way I looked at my mom at her age. Except she’s half hiding behind her dad’s leg.
“I’m sorry,” says the dad, “and I don’t want to bother you, but you’re her hero, and we were hoping to catch you before you got too far away.
I’m someone’s hero. Trying to roll that around my head. I’ve said it a few times, but it was always about a specific opponent. It’s easy to be a hero standing across the ring from Jacehole, or Silas, or the Beast.
A bit harder when you’ve been pounded down for months. Still… nut up or shut up. I dropped down to one knee and smiled at her.
“Hi,” I said. “What’s your name?”
“Jeannie,” she said, after a few seconds.
“Jeannie? That’s a pretty name. My name’s Mariella.” I held my hand up. “Can I get a high five?”
Shy kid. Took a minute, but she eased out from behind her dad and slapped my hand, which pushed my smile into a full blown grin. And I nearly fell over when she threw her arms around my neck.
“Do you want a picture,” I asked. She nodded.
Her dad pulled out his phone and took aim. Jeannie turned around so we were both facing him, and she smiled… SO damn wide. I held up the cheesy metal horns I do in every picture ever, and she hugged me a second time.
“Thank you so much,” said her dad, “I’m sorry to take up your time.”
“It’s cool,” I said. And then I had a thought. I don’t know why, but it seemed important at the time. I reached into my back pocket and unlocked my own phone. “Can you take one for me, too?”
One more photo, one more hug, and a handshake from the two men, and we said our goodbyes.
“You’re gonna be here next week to help me and Jack win, right?” I asked her. She nodded excitedly, and she gave me another hug before we parted ways. But I found myself turning my head to watch them a few times before they turned a corner, or before I did.
I wondered, will she grow up being told she can’t do something because she’s a girl? Will she grow up with some doors closed for things that shouldn’t matter or are out of her control? Will someone try to put her down by referring to her as her dad’s “dipshit daughter”?
I can’t put it into words, but I think it was really important that she was here tonight and that we met when we did.
Okay. Snap out of it, MJ. Eyes on the prize, and focus on your two priorities. You’re in the War Games pool. You and Jack have the Egg Bandits next week.
And you’re hungry.
Cuz I’ve been feeling trapped for way too long
Feeling like I can’t untie
What’s been keeping me down and on my knees
But you don’t know me
Cut to MJ Flair and High Flyer, sitting on simple stools in front of a green screen. Various High Octane techs are attaching and calibrating wireless microphones for the two. They’re dressed ‘business casual’ – they’re not in formal wear, but they’ve at least cleaned up for the cameras.
MJF: Should we have rehearsed?
High Flyer: Probably. Better question, do we have had a plan at all?
Tech: Okay, the range on these guys is pretty short, but if you get up you should be good as long as you stay in the camera’s view.
No sooner does he finish with Jack, does the lunatic stand up and take a step backwards.
High Flyer: You know, that tech guy — Can you hear me now?
Another step back.
High Flyer: How about now? That tech guy smells really bad.
Another step. He’s off camera.
High Flyer: Earth to MJ. Has the tech guy’s smell disrupted your sense of sight?
MJ looks down, trying not to laugh.
High Flyer: Ca- oo- ee- me?
MJF: You did that one on purpose!
And he steps back into scene as the tech moves off.
High Flyer: I’ll never tell. Hey Eric, you actually smell nice. Like roses.
Tech Guy: My name is Dan.
High Flyer: Good ol’ smelly Eric.
Static-cut. The background now shows an old timey propeller plane with the logo “MJFLYER” plastered all over it.
MJF: Hello friends, I’m the bad decision that seemed like a good idea at the time, MJ Flair.
High Flyer: And I’m the reason your parents drink, High Flyer.
MJF: And we’re here to talk Refueled 27! We got a big one coming up, Jack. You and me against the Egg Bandits. This is a big one, man. All of us – you and me, plus all of the Bandits, have qualified for War Games. The Bandits are already listed as part of the tag team War Games, but which two? Could this match determine whether we get added to the Tag Team title match, or to the War Games main event itself?
High Flyer: It’ll be a shell of a match, that much is certain.
MJ just stares at him, trying not to laugh.
High Flyer: What, don’t you like my yolks?
That breaks her, as she laughs out loud, putting her head in her hands as Jack shrugs.
High Flyer: We’re definitely in for a fight, though. This match won’t be over easy.
And MJ stands up and leaves the camera, laughter trailing behind her.
High Flyer: Oh no, come on back: this is happening. I’ve been saving all of these ever since the Legion of Dairy retired…
Jump cut, they’re both sitting down again. The green screen shows a chicken coop.
High Flyer: Is your brain scrambled from all these egg puns?
They both break down laughing this time.
Jump cut, calmed down.
MJF: We’ve got the momentum going into this one. You and me, we both won at twenty-six, and the Egg Bandits lost.
High Flyer: That was Bobby Dean and Doozer, wasn’t it?
MJF: Well… ya know. How many people lost a tag team belt because someone else in their group won ‘em? It’s like the transitive property of losing.
Jack looks at her, and starts counting on his fingers.
MJF: And they said I’d never use algebra in real life.
High Flyer: Oh wait, I did that once too.
High Flyer: Yeah, it was in jOlt twenty years ago.
MJ raises an eyebrow.
High Flyer: I’ve done everything. I’m old man. I’m dad jokes.
MJF: Hi, dad jokes, I’m MJ.
Awkward stare. Approving nod.
Jump cut. The screen shows… animated, dancing fluid bags like you’d see in a hospital.
MJF: So is Cancer Jiles really cool? Like, Cool Cancer Jiles. Is that his name or a sarcastic comment?
High Flyer: Like ‘Cool story, bro?’
MJF: Exactly. Is he saying ‘Cool cancer, bro’?
High Flyer: That’s mean.
MJF: Yeah, that’s really excessive.
High Flyer: But you know what they say – there is no cure for Cancer.
Beat. Silence. Screen shows a massively photoshopped image of Cancer Jiles, a hundred pounds lighter with pale skin and dark circles under his eyes. Caption reads ‘Cool cancer, bro.’
High Flyer: That’s more of a treatment. But are you saying injectable poison is the cure for Cancer?
MJF: Um. Maybe?
High Flyer: Think carefully, MJ. Are you asking me to poison Cancer Jiles?
High Flyer: My normal poison guy’s been busy lately…
MJF: Of course you know a guy. But I thought you were the guy that people who know a guy knows?
Jump cut. Salmon, swimming upstream.
MJF: You know Zeb Martin, our other opponent? He’s almost the same age as me. And he’s only had one singles win this year, just like me. It’s like looking into a funhouse mirror.
Flyer tilts his head, apparently pondering that.
MJF: Except, ya know… he’s all country and I’m… not. And he’s incredibly green and I’ve had a few years of less – than – legal experience as a professional wrestler, including two World Title reigns in a minor league operation. So, ya know – about as successful as Little Jimmy’s been.
She leans over and slaps Flyer on the knee.
MJF: And! Nobody’s been telling him his career is over and he’s a has-been. I mean, bully for him, right?
MJ starts to applaud, and Flyer joins in, a little confused.
High Flyer: He’s won as many matches this year as I have and his career hasn’t even started yet! Way to go, Zeb! Sharp learning curve ahead though.
MJF: Right? He’s just a baby right now, we need to take baby steps. A few good matches, a few tough losses. All good, all good. But that’s nothing compared to several years, varying degrees of success followed by a few tough months boxing with god.
A wave of realization hits MJ, and she points at Flyer.
MJF: It’s like dog years of a career. Every month this year without a win was like seven years, all because it was personal.
High Flyer: That’s like thirty years.
MJ crosses her arms in front of her and pats her own shoulders.
MJF: That burden? Right here. I’ll carry it for the world.
High Flyer: Man, I remember when I was thirty, and they were telling me I was washed up then, for the sixth time.
MJ looks at him with respect, then shakes her head in disbelief.
MJF: At this rate, when I’m thirty I’m sure my opponents will treat me like Imhotep from that old movie. Thousands of years old, dried up and dusty. And with magic powers that somehow kill everyone.
She crosses her fingers.
MJF: We can only hope.
Jump cut. Green screen is off, and the techs are removing the microphones.
MJF: So that was fun.
High Flyer: Let’s be honest, was any of that useful?
MJF: Oh, it’s all useful. Does it make sense, that’s the ticket.
Flyer shrugs, as he picks a bottle of water up off the floor.
High Flyer: Well… I understood it.
MJF: So did I, man. Not necessarily useful.
She steps off her stool as well, slaps his hand, and moves in for a hug.
MJF: If nothing else, man – we can win by confusion.
I stepped on broken glass
Walking through the past
Feeling every cut that crippled me
Been through it all before
Won’t go back anymore
I’ve gone too far
I have a confession to make: I have legendary blood flowing through my veins. One of my parents is my hero, my motivation, and, like… the source of every bit of energy I have when I need to dig deep and really, really, really pull off something special.
My other parent is a professional wrestling legend and fifteen time World Champion.
Oh… did we not see that coming?
Cool Cancer Bro suffers from the Mandela effect when it comes to me. So many people in this sport… fuck, in this company, have accused me of tryinna ride my dad’s success into a main event that they’ve forgotten that I never brought it up.
Or that I’ve never wrestled a single match in any company where he’d have had even the slightest amount’a pull.
But nobody ever thinks about my mom.
Dude. Bruh. If you listen to the critics, I’m a suckass, second rate wrestler who should be jerkin’ the curtain nightly against Max Stryker, trading wins and reaching, straining, hoping to make it as high as I deserve ta’ ever make it: the second match of the evening.
Anything more than that, like a main event match, or a title shot, or qualifying for War Games? There’s a million reasons why I might’ve won the match, and it can be written off as literally anything except for the skills I possess as a professional wrestler.
Shit. I’ve fought and lost wars this year. I’ve put forth losing efforts that would’ve floored virtually anyone in this company except my opponent that night. The closest thing I’ve gotten to a compliment since Iconic was Andy Murray telling Dan Ryan that I’ve given him the toughest fight in High Octane so far, and I’m still not sure if he meant it as a compliment to me or an insult to Ryan.
But lemmee tell ya about my mom, Cool Cancer Bro. Small town girl takin’ the bus from the midwest to Los Angeles like a thousand other tragic cliches. Waitress. Video store. Front desk at a strip club, all while she’s putting together a band’a brothers to make some music.
Metal and industrial is a gigantic fuck boys club, and she wasn’t welcome. She and her boys earned residence at the last club on the Sunset Strip that mattered and packed the place four nights a week, and she had to get ready in the storeroom because there was only one backstage area and the other bands had taken it over.
She gets a pitbull of a manager to help the band book a cross – country dive bar tour, opening for whoever they can, and she deals with verbal and physical abuse from promoters, other musicians, and the patrons. But the best manager in the world can’t get ya booked somewhere twice unless ya bring the heat.
And she walked into every building with her head held high. She’s got a gig in enemy territory, and she’s gonna make the date.
They hit the east coast, turn their asses around, and do the same loop all over again, but this time, something’s changed. There’s people at the gigs there just to see her. There’s people – sometimes very small people – pushing their way to the front to be a barrier between my mom and the hostile crowds.
A network begins to form, and a movement has started. By the time they got back to Hollywood, they have an honest-to-gods following, and they’re ready to move to the next level.
Next time they go coast to coast? It’s the same shitty bars, but now they’re the headliners. Now, their fans make up more of the crowd than the groups trynna squeeze ‘em out. The assholes and the hecklers are still there, but they’re grossly outnumbered. The other bands on the bill are still openly hostile, but now it doesn’t matter.
My mom is closing the show, so she can take as much time as she fuckin’ wants.
She keeps on playing. She wins the closed community over, one fan at a time. Every loop around the country – around the world, after a few years – they play bigger and bigger buildings. It gets to the point where she has exactly what she dreamed of: major labels lookin’ to sign the band and give them an even bigger audience than they ever thought possible.
And she did something that was unthinkable back when it happened. She told the major labels, ‘no thank you.’ Three years later, she sold out back to back nights at Madison Square Garden.
Mandela Effect or no, when my opponents mention my parents they always go the easy route and talk about my dad because he’s a wrestler and I’m a wrestler so clearly that’s the ticket. Nobody notices the five foot short, hundred pound goth singer who wanted a seat at a table where nobody was willing to let her in…
…so she built her own table and made it the place to be.
I don’t know why the High Octane roster is so hesitant to acknowledge my seat at the table. It could be because I was the Team Lee Best success story comin’ out of last year’s War Games that wasn’t supposed to happen. It could be because Scottywood was totally supposed to win his record-breaking LSD Championship, but he didn’t. It could be because Teddy Palmer was expected to get a War Games slot to go for a second chance with the World Champion that he took to the limit at March to Glory.
Shit, it could be as simple as the fact that I’m an obnoxious bitch who talks too goddamn much.
This year’s been tough on me. This year has been humbling as hell. Every other athlete that cares enough to have an opinion has said MJ Flair is done. MJ Flair sucks. MJ Flair doesn’t belong at this table.
Ask Mike Best. Ask Andy Murray. Who’s been their toughest opponent this year? If they don’t say me, they’re lying to themselves. Ask the Turn-It-Up Express. They took me and Jack for granted at March to Glory.
Ask Red ‘n Ted, the Two Man Stable. Those matches should’ve been a no-brainer by the rankings. Me and Jack, we don’t backstep.
Ask the fans. Who doesn’t give up? Who doesn’t take a back step? Who shows up for every booking – to give it their all?
Ya made it clear how ya feel about Jack, and how ya feel about me, Cancer Bro. You don’t think I deserve a spot at the table? That’s cool. I’ll build my own, and Jack and I will make it the place ta’ be.
It’ll be tough. It’ll be an uphill battle. High Flyer and I have battled the odds so far this year, and if ya look just at the win-loss, it’s a longshot.
We’ve been beat down. We’ve been beat up. We’ve been beaten.
We always rise. We always stand. Even if it’s just one little girl cheerin’ her fuckin’ heart out.
MJ Flair and Jack Harmen are now, and always will be…
Back me against the wall
Toss me like a ragdoll
You can’t break me