There is only silence deep inside The All-State Arena as we are hours removed from the twenty-first Refueled of the final era of HOW. Twenty-nine shows in total have past and as the new era did for years, this era of HOW is starting to run like a well oiled machine. A influx of new talent has come in and charged up the High Octane fuel cells and are running side by side with some of the biggest names of HOW last era. Yet some have failed to lift themselves off the ground since the restart. Failed to recapture that magic they once had. One of them is sitting at the desk in his office and staring at the nameplate that for weeks has sat in front of him. He stares at the words as if they mock him now.
COO of HOW
“COO… another bullshit fucking title.” Curses Woodson for a now rare occasion as the anger is obviously boiling over from this week’s show.
“Just like General Manager and Commissioner. Meaningless titles for meaningless jobs. I can’t even book a simple match without getting blindsided that the entire show next week will be a Lethal Lottery. Guess that’s not worth a memo to the forty-nine percent owner of HOW. But Mike Best sure fucking knew!” Yells Woodson as the words echo for a moment in the office before he sighs and drops the nameplate down on the desk with a light thud.
“I wish my memory didn’t betray me so much. Because I should have seen all of this coming. When Mike sold me the forty-nine percent… when he kept his two percent. I should have known this is how it would all come to be. It’s not the first time Lee has screwed me. I doubt it will be the last. But hell, I just watched the Turmoil episode on HOTv where he fired me as General Manager and just gave it to Jatt Starr… or Simon Sparrow, whatever he was going by then. I had no power then… and I have no power now. I’m just pushing papers and dealing with all the crap that Lee Best doesn’t want to.” Accepts Woodson as he swipes at the piles of papers on his desk and sends most of them flying to the floor.
He then turns his chair a hundred and eighty degrees to the mini fridge behind his desk. The glass door shows us inside where all we can see is NOS energy drinks, but he opens the door and pushes them aside as he reaches deep into the back and pulls himself out a can that is not like the others. Closing the fridge he spins back around and places the ice cold bottle down on his coaster.
Revolution Brewing’s Anti-Hero IPA
Staring at the can with a crazed intensity, Woodson wants to crack it open. He wants to pour the golden liquid down his throat. He wants to shatter the sobriety he has carried since Stevens crucified him at Alcatraz.
“I don’t see the point of this playing by the rules. Pulling my dreads back and acting like some kind of professional. Not drinking any fucking beer. For what? It hasn’t gotten me fucking shit and I look like a damn joke. Shit wasn’t much better before… but at least I had you beer. You at least made it all a bit better….” Confesses Woodson as he reaches for the pull tab of the beer.
Suddenly the door to Woodson’s office opens up and in busts Woodson’s tag team partner and long time friend… Damien Ryan.
“There you Are Scott, it’s like… what in the hell are you doing?” Transitions Damien mid sentence as he spots the beer sitting in the hands of his tag team partner.
The crazed look turns to near euphoria as Woodson cracks the pop top into the aluminum can and releases the godly aroma from the Anti-Hero IPA into the air as it zooms instinctively to Woodson’s nostrils.
“One hundred and fifty-four days Woodson. That’s how many days you’ve been sober since Rumble at the Rock. You’re gonna throw all that away because Lee pissed on your booking? Because maybe right now he has the upper hand. All you need is one strike and we’re back in this. Saturday you have literally five golden opportunities. You win any of them and that power balance will shift in a big way towards you.” Pep talks Damien as he walks over to thee desk and reaches for the Anti-Hero IPA, but Woodson pulls it back and stares back at Ryan with a questionable look.
“Don’t you mean we have five golden opportunities?” Shoots back Woodson, glossing over the whole beer in his hand issue for the moment.
“I wish I could Scotty… but the HOW doctors still haven’t cleared me after the attack from 24K. Something about concussion protocol and all that bullshit. So it’s just you entering the lottery for HATE and hoping to hit the jackpot. Which I can tell you will be a lot fucking harder if you down that and beer and throw this all away.” Explains Ryan as he again reaches his arm out towards the beer hoping he has reasoned enough with his friend.
“So if I pick the Tag Team Title match… I’m going in there blind with a random partner? Great. Add another challenge to the already tough task of beating 24K… or The Hollywood Bros… Bruvs… whatever they call themselves.” Questions Woodson as he looks back at Ryan and just shakes his head at the sickening idea of wrestling with any of the other Lethal Lottery entrants.
“That’s the negative way of looking at it… you could also be in one of the War Games qualifiers. Get yourself a guaranteed shot in a match where every title is on the line.” Counters Ryan as he tries to turn things around and off the topic of him not being medically cleared. Which we could start a whole separate conspiracy theory about who prevented the doctor from clearing Ryan.
“After some twelve years on HOW… a negative outlook is just being realistic. Plus War Games? A match where I have SUCH a good history in. Whether it’s making the wrong pick in teammates that costs me the whole thing… or falling flat on my face like last year. That match has never been a strong one for me. So why would I ever expect myself to be able to turn that shit around at this point in my career.” Almost laughs Scotty as he War Games has been the toughest Pay Per View of them all for him to string together any kind of success.
“What about the one on one title matches with Ma…” Tries to finish Damien but Woodson cuts him off as he raises the beer to his mouth and knocks the can straight back and starts chugging the whole IPA within a matter of seconds.
“What the fuck Scotty!” Exclaims Ryan with complete dejection as he knows Woodson has just thrown months of hard work out the window.
Woodson finishes the can and tosses it blindly behind his chair. Turning back to his mini fridge he swings it back open and starts digging around to see if there is a second… or sixth in there.
“You better not be looking for more… which I can’t even believe you had any in there to begin with. What the fuck Scotty… you seriously gonna go back to him… back to Scottywood?” Questions Ryan as Woodson finds another can and now slowly turns around in his chair before placing the fresh can on his desk. Missing the coaster totally and putting the cold can straight on the wood finish.
“Scott Woodson is weak… way too fucking weak for HOW. I mean if The Hardcore Artist couldn’t hang here in HOW, why did I ever think that some Scottywood-Lite version, going by my real name, pulling his dreads back in some false attempt to act professional was going to survive. That he wasn’t going to get walked all over by everyone here. No swearing… no beer drinking… sitting behind a desk and doing fucking paperwork. Didn’t help me beat fucking Scott Stevens… who has fallen to such a low point that he isn’t even allowed to wrestle on HOW TV until after War Games. All I have is a win against Brenton Cross… who seemed like the time circuits had fried his fucking brain by the time he showed up to fight.”
Woodson just shakes his head… sickened with what he has become… with how everything is going for him in a return to HOW that he was beyond excited for when it was announced back over a year ago. He cracks open the second beer… which gets little response now from Ryan as the damage is already done… and he knows there is no spotting his friend now.
“Scott Woodson, Scottywood… it doesn’t matter what you call yourself or how your fucking hair is done up. It doesn’t matter if your cursing like a fucking sailor or drinking cases of beer each night. You know what DOES matter? That you have some fucking confidence in yourself! Not everything is gonna go perfect… and yes I remember your old nickname from back in the day. I know you strive for perfection everyday… which is nearly… no, fuck it… it is impossible. So with that kind of standard set for yourself… you’re always gonna fail…” Rants Ryan as Woodson picks this moment of course to cut him off.
“Great talk coach. Really motivating the team.” Sarcastically shoots back Woodson as he pops open the second beer and takes a moderate swig this time instead of chugging it like a frat boy.
“For fuck sakes… get your head out of your ass Scotty. Look at the fucking positive side of this. Sure, Lee fuck up your booking against The Egg Bandits… the worst ranked Tag Team in the division. But now you have a chance at three titles and a spot in War Games. Which of those would you rather have? Put your precious ego on the back burner for once. Lee is the Owner of HOW… and this isn’t NGW anymore. I would have thought after twelve year you would have learned that… but I guess even I have underestimated your stubbornness.”
Ryan pauses as he can see the words piercing through Woodson who just snarls back at Damien with no retort except to take another drink of his beer. Ryan shakes his head as he knows this is far as he’s gonna get with Woodson tonight. All he can do is hope that words sink and somehow fully get through that thick stubborn skull. Which with all the holes in it, you’d think would be so much easier…
“But you do whatever you need to do Scotty… when you’re finished drowning in your self pity pool of beer… I’ll be here for ya. Cause you’ve earned that from me man. Remember no matter how low ya fall… you got people to pick ya up.” Offers Ryan as Scotty finishes the can and hurls it at Damien who easily dodges it before making his way out of the office, knowing he has done all he can tonight for Woodson.
Leaning back in his chair, a still speechless Woodson finishes the can of beer as he crushes it in his hand with anger and throws it against the wall of the office. He hates when Damien is right… but he’s already taken this leap off the cliff… he might as well get his money’s worth out of the fall…
Some 2 Days Later…
Now I can’t tell you everything that has happened in the last forty-eight hours. But to sum it up is a hell of a bender that started with Woodson… or Scottywood, finishing the six pack in his office. That was the chill part, cause then the quote, unquote party moved to the concession stands in the AllState Arena. The closed concession stands at one in the morning where he started downing more IPAs until he somehow broke the tap system.
Never yet a drunk pour his own beer… he’s drunk and gonna fuck all your shit up.
From there it moved onto some Chicago bar that is still open at two in the morning… where and what he drank doesn’t really matter… cause Scotty certainly doesn’t remember. But his ass surely did get kicked out… likely for trying to fight the first bald man he saw because fuck Lee Best… right?
So Saturday leads into Sunday and there will never be a shortage of bars to hit up in the windy city. All happy to take the money of a man looking to drown months of pent up frustrations that he has tried to bury deep in his soul. The details again don’t really matter as you can go to any number of bars and watch the story unfold daily.
Come Monday morning and the bender seems to be over as we find the COO of HOW passed out face down in a hotel room. Not on the bed… oh fuck no. He never made it that far. Woodson is face first on the dirty ass hotel carpet… a pile and drool soaking a small spot near his mouth. Luckily his head is turned, but also luckily he hasn’t puked… there at least. Because let’s be honest, after a hundred fifty-something days of not drinking… his stomach can’t hold it’s beer anymore. Did he puke in the hotel hallway? Or did he make it to the bathroom? Mysteries that only the housekeeping crew may ever know.
A black boot comes in to lightly kick Woodson in the ribs as he lets out animalistic groan as his body barely has any energy in it to move. Again the boot drives into Woodson’s ribs, this time a bit harder causing him to roll over onto his side and curl himself a bit up into a fetal position. Struggling to fend off the intrusive strikes interrupting the pounding headache that he can feel all the way down in his toes he manages to spit out the only word one can use at times like this.
“Ya ready to stop fucking around? Cause the only thing you’re gonna win down there is a likely lethal trip to the ER.” Jabs Ryan as he is done pulling shots with his friend who he has let get whatever he needed out of his system by trying to drink Chicago dry of beer.
“I’ll take that as a yes. I ordered a NOS and a fuckton of Gatorade. Then we’ll put this weekend behind us. I might not be able to compete at the Lethal Lottery, but I’d HATE for us both to miss out on this opportunity. Now think you can manage to pull your ass up off that fucking carpet and put some clothes on?” Asks Damien as he tosses a t-shirt and jeans next to Woodson who again makes some kind of unintelligible sound.
…Ya, he might just be wearing a pair of boxers. I thought y’all might not need to know that… but Damien spilled those beans. But gotta give Damien props… not many guys would be this patient with their stubborn shit of a friend. I guess that is what seventeen years of a professional and personal relationship gets ya. Plus it was Woodson that gave Damien one of his first big breaks in wrestling back in 2003… and opened the door for him here in HOW back in 2008 and again in 2020.
Sure, they have battled across from each other… like the 2007 30-Man Battle Dome match where it came down to Damien and Scottywood. An outcome that Woodson tries to forget… but Damien rarely lets him. But it’s battles like that which have only grown the respect the two men have for each other.
But it’s the most recent job offer in 2020 that has bought The Corporate Artist the most good will from Ryan. I mean it’s no secret that life without wrestling can be tough for a wrestler… since that is all one has to live for when they dedicate every moment to the business. And Ryan fell hard like most when his career came to a halt four years ago. After some tough times he had to resort to a job at a Guitar Center trying to explain the intricacies of different guitars to people who can’t even master medium mode on Rock Band. It’s a far fall from his original gimmick in 2003 of “Mr. I Don’t Give A Fuck”.
Now I don’t wanna knock working an honest job in retail… but when you have wrestled in front of thousands of people night after night… a job like this kills you a little everyday. You miss the lights, the roar of the crowd… the competition. Damien was looking forward to it all at March to Glory. But we all know how that ended up thanks to four men who knew they couldn’t take out HATE in the ring face to face. So believe me when I say that Ryan may be rooting for Woodson to pull a match up against anyone in 24K for a chance at retribution. Whether it be the Hollywood Bruvs in the Tag Team Title match… or Murray or Perfection in one of the War Games qualifying matches.
Woodson starts to slowly pull himself up to his feet with the kind of speed that would make a sloth fall asleep. Baby steps as Woodson is able to sit himself up against the bed as he holds his head which feels like there is a rock concert going on inside it.
“Please tell me it’s still April…” Somewhat questions Woodson as Ryan just shakes his head with a smirk on it.
“Yeah, it’s April… in the year 2042. Brenton Cross kidnapped us and took us twenty-two years into the future. Sadly I killed him before I figured out how to use his time travel powers to take us back to 2020.” Jokes Damien, trying his hardest not to crack up laughing.
“What the fuck?! Are you serious?” Panics Woodson as he quickly realizes that yelling was a huge fucking mistake as he grabs his head and winces in pain.
“No you fucking idiot… that would be ridiculous. The man was a fucking delusions crack head. Time travel? What a joke.” Dimisses Ryan as he can’t believe Woodson fell for that as much as he did. Then again… the man is severely hungover… or possibly still drunk… not sure, so let’s chalk a lot of that up to that right now.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
“Go away… I’m dead…” struggles out Woodson as the knocking on the door feel like he’s being shot in the fucking head.
“One moment!” Fires back Ryan quickly as he shakes his head and steps over Woodson as he walks over to answer the door with the room service he placed. After accepting the cart and tipping the man, Ryan wheel in the cart with breakfast… or lunch… not sure of the time of day… and most importantly the large quantity of fluids to try and hydrate up a man who hasn’t had anything but beer touch his lips in over forty-eight hours.
“You’re gonna eat and drink or I’m gonna wrap this fucking metal tray around your head and it’s gonna feel like a cannon has blown your head clean off your shoulders.” Informs Ryan as he lifts the top off the tray revealing a bevy of breakfast options like eggs, bacon, toast and sausage for the two. Woodson slowly pulls himself up more so he can sit on top of the bed as he nods back at Damien and reaches for a couple pieces of bacon.
“Oh, and you got a call back yesterday… which I’m sure you don’t remember. But we got a meeting this week with our old friend you called on Refueled. So you better be ready, because we need him to even the odds after the Lottery.” Says Ryan as Scotty smiles, he knew his friend would call back… that he wouldn’t be able to resist the idea of returning to HOW.
Now… there’s only some five days to prep for literally every possible matchup one could think of in HOW. Which will be nothing compared to trying to get Woodson back on the wagon he has fallen so hard off of. Fuck I don’t envy Ryan…