What Makes A Champion

What Makes A Champion

Posted on May 14, 2024 at 12:11 pm by Mike Best

Good morning, Sam.

Turns out I’m up early today, so I don’t see a lot of reason to waste time and wait to see what you have to say to me this week. I’ve kind of got this idea in my head of what you might do, or what you might say, but you’ve thrown me a lot of curve balls since the Lee Best Invitational, so I’m gonna try something different this time around. There’s not going to be any back and forth. I’m gonna make sure you stay out of my head, and I’m not going to try to get into yours. But there are some things I need to say to you, and they are things that I’d rather say out in public than keep to a text message, or a private conversation. 

So here we go, Samuel: 

I don’t think I can beat you this week. 

There it is, in plain English. And you don’t believe a word of it, I know that. You’re already sitting there, just upon reading that sentence, thinking about how you’re gonna flip it on me. Accuse me of playing mind games, or convincing myself I’m the underdog, or lying to you and patronizing you. And that’s fine… do what you want to do, because I’m not saying this for you, I’m saying it for me, and I’m saying it on record. I don’t think that I can beat you this week. I think that you’re on the best run of your entire career, you’re hotter than you’ve ever been, in any era, and I don’t know for sure that there’s anything I have to throw at you that you aren’t ready for. Shit, I didn’t even beat you the first time– I retained my title on a technicality, because you have to beat the champion to take his title, and a draw won’t do. 

Well, I remember when that happened to me. 

I remember what it did to me. 

Still remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2010, my first full year in the company, and I got my big shot against David Black on a regular weekly show. I think it was a Turmoil. The was on fire… maybe his best run in HOW, ever, and it was like nobody could touch the guy. But here comes a freshly named Mike Best, high on his own supply, and firing on every cylinder. The guy was not ready for me. I hit him from every angle. I attacked every weak spot I could find. I did everything in my power, and then do you know what happened? 

I fucking beat him. 

By disqualification. 

I don’t need to explain the rules of wrestling to you, Sam. You know why that sucks. And even though I’d just achieved the impossible, I walked back to that locker room empty handed and the chip on my shoulder was so fucking big you could have built a whole new wrestling promotion on it. And maybe that memory is why I’m sweating this match so bad, bud, because I didn’t go back to that locker room and feel bad for myself. I didn’t lose my confidence. I didn’t pack it up and think “hey, I can try again some other time”. Nah, I let that chip on my shoulder grow, and I got fucking angry. So angry that I didn’t lose another match for the rest of the year. So angry that I built a fucking career out of it. So angry that I went on to ICONIC, and I didn’t just beat David Black… I beat five other men to take my first HOW World Championship, and then go on to win eleven fucking more in the years that followed. I took the champion to his limit, I walked away empty handed, and it defined me for the next fourteen years. 

I still hate David Black, to this day. 

Because that was supposed to be my moment. 

I know you’re not stupid, Sam. And you know that I’m not stupid, either. You and I fought to a draw, and as much as that has probably fired you up for the sequel, it’s deflated me just as much. I’m supposed to be the best wrestler in the world, but right now, I feel like the second best wrestler on the roster. I’m not gassing you up, or trying to fuck with you, no matter what you might be thinking I’m doing here. I’m just telling you the truth. Since we wrestled, I’ve lost back to back matches, and that’s not something I’ve done in literally as long as I can remember. I can make excuses and blame tag team partners all I want, but I don’t fucking lose back to back matches. Ever. Maybe it’s bad timing. Maybe it’s bad luck. Or maybe you shook something loose in me, and I’m trying to figure it out. I’m not entirely certainly, but that’s the problem. 

I’m always certain. 

Even when I say I’m not. 

I know that sounds mind-fucky too, like “Oh, well if you pretend to feel like the underdog to hype yourself up, then obviously that’s what you’re doing right now”. Yeah, I know, it’s confusing to me, too. The meta of the Mike Best Cinematic Universe is a little unhinged sometimes. But I guess I just want to put this down on paper, because maybe it’ll help me work through it, too. And I guess I also just wanted to put a couple of things on the record, since nobody is going to believe a word I say either way once the match is over and the championship is decided: 

 

  1. You deserve this. 
  2. You earned this. 
  3. I am fucking proud of you. 

 

Nobody has stepped to me the way that you have stepped to me, in a very long time. Reminds me of Townsend in the old days, before he lost his smile for the ninety seventh time. I have not been so nervous for a match on a weekly show in over a decade, and I wish that I could say that it’s a nostalgically comforting feeling, but it’s fucking not. I hate this. I want it to be over with. Whether I’m going to win, or whether I’m going to lose, I want to get this giant fucking weight off my chest so that I can move on, because the not-knowing part is fucking miserable

So well done to you, mate. 

You fucking broke me. 

But I’m not Rhys Townsend. I don’t get a tickle of doubt in my stomach and decide to give up before the bell. I’m just going to have to do something against you that I haven’t had to do in a long time, and this is gonna sound shitty, but again, it’s honest. 

I’m gonna have to try really hard

I don’t have to do that, too often. 

That’s gonna rub a lot of people the wrong way, but the truth is the truth. There aren’t a lot of names on the roster that I can see myself paired across from, and feel like I have to try particularly hard. I can cut a couple of promos, do a couple elbow-collar tie-ups, and call it a day against ninety seven percent of the roster. But I can’t look at you the way that David Black looked at a twenty-something year old me, and hope that I get lucky. I have to look at you the way that twenty-something year old me looked at David Black. I have to let this define me. I have to reignite this chip on my shoulder. 

Because this is my championship, Sam. 

And you have to beat the champion. 

Maybe it’s not as exciting for everyone to see me step to you without any one-liners, or dad jokes, or threats to remove your shoulder from it’s socket. And maybe you were hoping we’d spit absolute fire at eachother, and get as hyped for this match as possible. But this is a different kind of hype for me, Sammy. There’s no grandstanding here. No putting my dick on the table, and inviting you to compare sizes. I have to lock in, and focus up, and be as honest with you, the world, as myself as humanly possible. This is going to be hard fucking work. This is going to be a challenge that I may or may not be prepared for. 

But all I can do is my best. 

And all you can do is your best. 

And either way, I will shake your hand when it’s over. 

It’s the craziest thing. This is usually the part where something wild hits me. A left turn I can take, where I flip everything that I just said into some world destroying promo that strikes fear into your heart. But you’re not afraid for this match, Sam. You have no reason to be. I’m the champion, but somehow, the whole world is looking at this one like it’s my time to prove myself. That you’re the gatekeeper, and I’m the one who has to step up to the challenge and prove that I belong on the other side of that door. And I don’t begrudge them for thinking that, or my father for thinking that, or even you, if you think that. Because I fucking think it too. And that’s wild, because I’m the one with the fucking belt. I’m the one who has won it twelve times. I’m the one who has broken record after record, but after awhile, I feel more like I’m the one who’s becoming a broken fucking record. 

It is hard to be the champion. 

See, a man needs to struggle. 

Maybe that’s another reason I’m so uncertain about this one. You had to fight to get here, Sam. You have that dog in you. That thing to strive for. There is no next level for me to ascend to… no further rungs for me to climb on the ladder. If I beat you at CHAOS, well then yeah, I’m supposed to. I’m the champion. That’s my job. There will be no streamers, no parade, no sea of text messages congratulating me. It won’t change my career, or my life. It will just be another climb to the next challenger, when I have to do it all over again. And after awhile, you start to run out of things to keep you going. You start to run out of things to talk about. I’m Mike Best, I’m the champion, I win all the time– try to rewrite that sentence every week, in a new and interesting way. 

Now do it for fourteen years. 

People expect me to win. People expect me to be the champion. They roll their eyes at it. There’s a whole promotion out there that basically exists because a bunch of people got sick of me being the champion, and they still screenshot my blogs and talk about our shows more than they focus on their own. There is an entire Anti-Mike-Best Counterculture. What the fuck is left for me to say to you, or to anyone else, than to just come out and start being honest? I said that 2024 was the Year of Honesty, and I’ve held very true to that so far. But I guess this is the kind of honesty you’re not supposed to say out loud… I’m kind of out of shit, man. And there was a time in my career that I’d almost want to lose this match, because then I’d have something new to chase. Something new to talk about. I could disappear for a couple of months, get my shoulder fixed again, and come back as some new version of Jesus who has like… a ferret, or something. I don’t know, the 2010’s were weird. 

But we’re well beyond that now. 

I’m too comfortable in this spot. 

I don’t want to have to chase shit, again. I’m at the top of the mountain, and I’ve made a nice little man cave up here, and I don’t want to turn it over to you or to anyone. I’m not sure I can beat you, Sam, but I can promise you that taking this title from me will be the single hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. I will not offer you a fair fight. I will not lay down and die. I resort to whatever I need to resort to in order to retain my HOW World Championship, because everything else is so far behind me that this is what I have left. “Mike Best, HOW World Champion”. I would be happy to hand-engrave that onto stone business cards at this point, because I do not ever intend on losing my job title and being fucking demoted to challenger. So that’s where we’re at this week, Sam. You’re my friend. I respect you, and you’ve earned this, and I’m proud of you. But until the final bell rings at Chaos? You’re not Samuel Owens, my friend. 

You’re Silent Witness, my challenger

Silent Witness, my enemy. 

If the version of Michael Lee Best that exists in 2024 has the ability to beat Silent Witness, then I will walk out of CHAOS as the champion, make absolutely no mistake about that. I don’t care if they have to put me on fucking life support after it’s over, so long as the HOW World Championship is sitting on my bedside table and waiting for me when I wake up. You probably think that I’m underestimating how bad you want this, Witness, but I also think you’re underestimating exactly how much this means to me. I have sacrificed everything else in my life for this championship, and I will gleefully and excitedly sacrifice my body, your body, and the body of anyone in our vicinity to finish the job. 

So I wish you luck. 

And I wish me luck, too, because maybe I’m gonna need it this week. Like I said before, I have no terrible things to say about you this week. No trash talk. No creative insults. Just some stuff I wanted to say to you before we hit the point of no return when the music starts playing on Friday night. If you walk away with the championship at CHAOS, no one will ever be able to say that it was handed to you. Or that you didn’t deserve it. Because you will have pried it from my cold, dead hands and you will have done so after I did absolutely everything in my power to prevent it. 

But Witness. 

You’d better be fucking ready. Because a lion is at his most dangerous when he is backed into a corner, and no-one including God Himself can say that I’m not backed into a fucking corner this week. I will be more dangerous than you’ve ever seen me be. More ambitious than you ever knew I could be. And a different animal than the complacent little cub that you fought a couple of weeks ago. You have awoken the Lion Heat. You have interrupted the cat nap of the King of the High Octane Jungle. You have brought a man back from the dead who I thought was gone forever, and whatever happens from here, just know that it’s your fault. 

Good luck to you, Samuel Owens. 

And fuck you, Silent Witness

It’s time to see what makes a champion.