What a waste, I said to myself, sitting in the locker room, unlacing my boots.
Let me clarify.
Ten minutes ago, Max Kael stabbed Jack Harmen in the head with a glass shard, ostensibly winning the First Blood LSD Title match. Which is weird because, while I get it’s a ‘FIRST’ blood match, Teddy Palmer ain’t bleeding, so… shouldn’t it continue? I dunno; it ain’t my job ta figure out.
Anyways, ten minutes ago Max stabbed Jack. Five minutes ago Scott Woodson found me and told me I could take off my gear, cause I’m not wrestling tonight.
I mean, it is a Lethal Lottery. We had three title matches and two War Games qualifiers – and more wrestlers on the roster showed up than there were blank spots on the run sheet.
And no, I didn’t yell at Scotty.
He might’ve been an insufferable douche when he was wearing his older-than-me dreads and guaranteeing victory, but he was talkin’ to me as an office guy just doin’ his job. And ya can’t yell at someone for just doin’ their job.
That’d make me the insufferable douche. No comments from the peanut gallery.
But it feels like a waste to be taking off my gear, getting dressed, and leaving the arena without earning it. You guys feel me, yeah? The sweat, the blood, the stiffness and exhaustion.
You earn that fuckin’ post-match shower, meal, and hang. Right now, heading out after just milling about the backstage for a few hours?
Dude, I ain’t happy. But that’s because, whether I win or lose, if I’m at the show I want the opportunity to rise or fall on my efforts.
But. It is what it is. I’m in my street clothes, and I’m on my way back to the monitors to see if Mike Best can somehow get past the best around, the massively massive fuckin’ guy that is Bobby Dean.
Yeah. That’s a thing. Jesus fucking christ.
I’m usually pretty good for whatever’s next. I’m not a promoter, and I’m not a planner or a subject matter expert. Saul Goodman.
But the second the lethal lottery ended and Lee’s office announced the next two shows? A showcase of his spoiled, privileged son, plus a standard Refueled with the tag team championship involved?
My first thought was ‘thank fucking fuck we don’t need to split the night with Mike.’ Because, and I’m sorry if we offend your sensibilities, the fact is, as a High Octane athlete, when we’re out here promoting our matches, the actual promotion is secondary to the kinda, sorta, maybe interrogation asking us ‘Did you say a thing that takes focus from Lee’s baby boy?’ And woe to you if you do.
Still, Andy – you haven’t shat on Jack and I against the backdrop of the Empire or the Group’a Death, or any intention otherwise. You know, you shat on us just to shit on us.
But the fact is, if there’s too much substance to wipe away, the superficial idea of ‘All right, I’ll get you on the way back,” gets stuck in the middle of ‘you don’t belong there.’
We. Me. I don’t belong there.
That was good ish, Jack, I said, as the cameras flipped off at the Mike Best Egomaniac Night. You gonna be good to hang out next week at my place, like, between now and the title match?
Jack says yes. He’s literally all about the substance of the work, not the immediate gratification. That’s cool, man. Glad to be part’a the team.
As frustrated as I am with the way things have gone so far this year, dude, Jacks’ gotta be twice as bad. He’s dealt with the same ish as me this year, just a little extra.
Little Jimmy cheated him.
Max Kael fucked him.
Lee put us together after our partners abandoned us and turned into a splatter of cunts.
What can ya do, right?
At the same time, nothing sells a professional wrestling match more than the anticipation of athletes comin’ back together again.
Like, we were expecting t’be facing off with Andy Murray and Perfection for the High Octane Tag Team belts, but remove Little Jimmy for Joe Bergman. Immediately, the question is, what’s Joe got that we don’t?
Almost as fast, the answer jumps up as ‘Halitosis,’ and ‘Distraction from what matters,’ and ‘Sadness.’
What’s different? We’re coming up on War Games, and Jack and I both have plenty’a experience with Joe Bergman in that setting. Jack neutralized the halitosis with mouthwash, and I was in the ring far past his failures.
Wins and losses in the short term might be good for self-esteem, but they mean fuck all when you’re in the moment.
Right now, we need to step back and reevaluate. Because the Hollywood Bruvs have stumbled, losing tag team titles that they never won. Andy Murray needs to step back and figure if his road-worn body can handle the burden that teaming with little jimmy can inflict on him. Little Jimmy was fuckin’ dumb enough to cosign on another team’a Bruvs defending his titles at the Lottery, and he paid the price for being a brainless, ball-less little cunt.
And Joe Bergman is in the right place at the right time, taking a tag team belt without doing the work intrinsic in building a team that can capture the fans’ imagination.
No wonder we stepped outside the box.
I need to take a quick shower, I told Jack Harmen, as we entered my meager studio apartment. I was sweaty and overheated from the workout we just finished at Knox’s gym, but I was still determined to be a good hostess. For what it’s worth.
Sure, said Jack. I’m good.
Beer’s in the fridge, I said. And some tequila. And vodka in the freezer. He asked for a sandwich. I told him I have no food. He seemed sad but decided to eat the vodka.. This was my dad’s old place, but he said I needed to be here to get the right perspective on being a professional wrestler in the twenty first century, and he’s pretty much right. Per usual.
Of course, being old school, Daddy also shut the shit down right there when we started to notice some’a the more blatant conspirators faking a table, suckering ‘em in, and cheating ‘em outta their rightful evening.
It happens enough with the appropriate red flags, so we can’t blame anyone in the sport who’s tried to call attention with negligence of duty, yeah?
Your dad lived here, asked Jack, back when he was just wrestlin’ all the fuck time. Yeah, I replied, even as I swiftly ducked my head under the stream to clear the sweat, oil, and grossness from my hair.
Daddy told me he was here up until he moved to Los Angeles in like oh-two, I continued, but he kept the apartment so he could feel his roots. TC’s Pub, the building where he learned the craft and later transitioned into a local dive bar – is just across the street.
These pictures are cool, said Jack. He’s referring to the family portraits up on the wall. Mommy and Daddy and me with people. Uncle Pete from Type-O. Geddy Lee. Uncles Tom and Kerry from Slayer. Sharon Osbourne. Mr. Maynard.
My favorite memory – one of the earliest ones that I can still maintain – me and Mommy, and Roger Waters, David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and Richard Wright in 2005 in Hyde Park, London.
Jack seems like he’s hovering over that one more than most. I’m not surprised, I didn’t appreciate what I witnessed on the day, but in the fifteen years since I’m a fuckin’ apostle.
But I never forgot the impact of those men and their set. Even before I knew the impact of what I was seeing, I could see they cared.
It’s a thing I internalized every minute of every day since: if the music hits me on a downslope it’s my job to redirect it externally to the audience.
It’s like we’re here ta’ kick ass and play sensible riffs, and we’re almost all outta ass to kick.
Yeah. I lost a singles match to Andy Murray, and Jack lost a singles match to Little Jimmy. But we both more or less owned Joe Bergman back when he was a luchador with insanely poor oral hygiene back in the day. And I took Andy to his limits, to a point where he couldn’t rest his knee because there wasn’t nothing to rest anymore in and around the pain.
Lounging here before Refueled 24, we’re both well aware of the stakes’a the match. I assume, at least. Jack hasn’t really been all that verbose about how he feels about the flow of our career path opportunities, but the fact is, he’s got twenty years’a experience on all of us and any shortcomings in his career have nothing to do with what he can plan for.
You gonna surprise me with a hold? Ya might.
But ya next step, slammin’ me down; takin’ me over; sweepin’ a leg; chokin’ me out.
You can’t beat me, because your holds aren’t good enough, and even if they were, my most excellent partner Jack would jump in there and show ya why ya not good enough.
We are not here, however, to win matches. Challenges. Nights. Matches. Games of chance, by the opinions of others.
Which of course means we’re about to be in my standard formation.
Always on the outside, looking in, as my mom would say: she wrote it, she sang it, and I’m currently living it.
Can we outwrestle Andy Murray and Joe Bergman? I’m comfortable saying we’ve got the chops.
But can we put the skills to task and actually fuckin’ do it? This is where we separate the potential from the pipe dream. Because as good as Murray is? Bergman’s the same old, same old, with the same old fuckin’ basement ta’ fill in.
Not a fuckin’ fatalist; Andy and Joe might still win. But I fuckin’ guarantee it’ll be in spite’a their bullshit, not because of it.
Or not. Just listen.
We’re somewhere with MJ Flair; the ‘where’ doesn’t matter. She’s making a point.
Or don’t. Fuck you.
“When were you so great?”
“You’re just a side character.”
“Gutless little arseholes.”
“Living in that shadow.”
You know. They say the last grasp of legitimacy in professional wrestling is when you resort to personal insults. Because we’re all here because we’re all fuckin; good at this. Even as you’re saying the same shit you said two weeks ago.
Because even when you win, Andy, you get your dick kicked into the dirt and your shit talking is woefully outta place.
Because if you really were the de-facto leaders of the tag team division, you’d be able to defend your titles with quiet dignity – or loud dignity – and be a solid and stable team instead of an interchangeable mess of disappointment. Because if 24K really mattered, the Joe Bergman substitute would be a big deal instead’a just bein’ an irritant.
“Because you’ll be sucking it through whatever remains of your teeth after we’re done.”
Yeah. Whatever that means, you illiterate cuck. We’ll be taking the tag team titles away from you this weekend. Because even as you’re shoveling shit on both of us, Jack Harmen and MJ Flair, you’re repeating yourself. Because even as you’re reminding us of how awesome we’re supposed’ta regard you, you’re a syndicated episode of a forgettable sitcom that we’re all long since tired of. You’ve been a dominant force in High Octane since ya showed up, Andy, but you’ve literally said the same shit every week since your first match no matter who you’re opponent’s been. And if you can’t flex on a different opponent, all that says to me is that you don’t belong in a company like High Octane. Where you can’t control-V your babble ta’ protect a title belt.
We appreciate your efforts, but we here in High Octane want our professional wrestling athletes to have more substance.
And if we can’t get there, I promise you.
You’re going to pay for it.