DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. Nothing in this article should be construed as the opinion or position of High Octane Wrestling, Lee Best or anyone with any booking authority real or imagined. I can’t job you. I’m basically the High Octane janitor. I should probably be living under an assumed name in Aruba. Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. Some of this isn’t even true.
Right at the top of this, let me say, this is not meant to be a blow-by-blow intricate dive into storylines and match setups. I haven’t read any of the roleplays yet. This is meant to be a fun little supplemental piece of something to hopefully entertain you, or, if you aren’t entertained, help you fall asleep tonight.
Back in May, Lee and I were having a texting conversation, non-sexual, and he mentioned he wanted to do a Summer PPV show with a Tombstone theme. That or the Alamo. He was partial to Tombstone though… or was it the Alamo? I don’t remember. I was never good at following instructions. Or remembering things, like birthdays, important dates, or efedding rules.
Obviously, he ultimately settled on Tombstone. And he decided to hold it on location, in Tombstone, Arizona, which surprised me, because I just assumed that holding Dead or Alive, a show dedicated to the wonderful 80s hair metal-ish band Bon Jovi, would be somewhere in New Jersey. But Lee doesn’t care about locational accuracy. He cares about RATINGS. I told him it was all a very good idea. I also told him that not having Tombstone pizza sponsor the show and be the official concession item of Dead or Alive was a missed opportunity, but unless Tombstone comes out with an authentic deep dish, Lee Best ain’t goin’ for that shit. Get your poverty pizza out of here.
Now before I start going through the matches and giving some opinions and thoughts, I want to talk about the “graphics department” of High Octane. I’ve been in the game since 1997, if we’re talking e-fedding, and 1991, if we include the play-by-mail years before e-fedding was even a thing really. And I can’t think of another fed I’ve been around that does graphics and especially hype videos to the quality level that High Octane does. Lots of feds have done videos, have done graphics, but not like this. No disrespect to any other fed or their graphical marketing choices, but I feel like HOW is the gold standard for this. Not just videos for hyping up shows, not just a poser image to show us what people look like, but other things too, like commissioning original theme music and editing into an entrance video. These are the little touches that make the oft-maligned HOW a place that inspires so much loyalty.
Now that we’ve talked about the original planning for the show and now that Lee’s rear end has plenty of red lipstick marks on it, let’s talk about some of these matches, or all of these matches. Here we go:
MVW World Championship Match:
Darin Zion v Adam Ellis ©
One of the most often tried, but also most difficult to pull off angles in e-fedding since the NWO first formed almost 30 years ago, is the invasion angle. So many try it, some have done it well, most have not. There are all kinds of shades of gray in the concept, and I think this match represents the most realistic and believable version of it. There haven’t been any indiscriminate attacks that make no sense within the confines of High Octane Wrestling, and time has been genuinely given to establishing the MVW World Championship as something that matters to HOW fans. Not always an easy sell.
But the truth is, JD, the brain behind this world-building, is the most criminally underrated handler in e-fedding history. JD has a million characters and he writes them all very well. Seth, over in DEFIANCE, in the angle fed world, is a similar dude. Huge stories, huge world-building, and talent for days. Darin Zion, from what I can gather, is the little engine that could for High Octane. The guy has taken a beating over the years, but he keeps coming back, and not only does he keep coming back, he keeps coming back with ideas for stories, with feedback for people who want it, and he reaches out to people whose work he enjoys. These are not just two solid handlers. They’re solid people, and that’s more important to me nowadays. These aren’t the Wild West days of the 2000s where shit talk was king and destroying your opponent was all that mattered. Good people like this doing good work make for the heart and soul of a good e-fed.
My my my, I’ve gone into a bit of a rant there. I do declare my heart is a-flutter.
Last Man Standing Match:
Chris Kostoff v Lee Best
If The Undertaker vs. Mr. McMahon had been the primary instigator of the Attitude Era and was the defining feud of the period like Austin/McMahon was, that’s what Lee Best vs. Chris Kostoff would be. Two men who refuse to die, fighting each other for eternity until, most likely, the Earth literally opens up and swallows them whole. This match could cause a black hole to form, is what I’m saying.
Here’s what amazes me about this. Always has.
Chris Kostoff is over as an absolute monster. He doesn’t win a lot, but has an unmistakable aura about him. And he does this while posting short shit talk roleplays from his Blackberry. The man still uses a Blackberry (probably). This is a Last Man Standing Match, and although I haven’t read the roleplays yet, as previously mentioned, I did happen to see that they agreed to go extra on the roleplay limit. I think they got to six apiece maybe? Perhaps five. Knowing for sure would require me looking it up, and that won’t do. Either way, this is as old school as old school gets.
How many of you remember the days of no limits? No roleplay limits, no word count limits. People going back and forth with three or four roleplays on the same DAY. And that was commonplace back then. Any of you who have been in this game more than five years ago remember this madness. It’s a roleplay rule and method that brings to mind a back and forth slugfest, which I’m sure is the intention. Last Man Standing. Not just a mediocre sitcom starring Tim Allen, or a description of Bobby Dean at the end of a pancake eating contest. It’s a fight. Technically Bobby Dean vs. pancakes is also a fight, but the winner of that fight is never in doubt. It’s diabetes. I digress.
Baptized in Blood Match:
Scott Stevens v Scottywood
Scott Stevens. Now here’s a guy who… ((c) Cris Collinsworth) …also is always coming back with ideas and is always on his hustle. There haven’t been many wins in HOW in this era, but he’s a former World Champion and a newly crowned Hall of Famer, no matter what you think of how he won it, and has had a good share of success in other feds. He also, let me assure you as someone who was fed head of a fed he was in at one point, will pepper you with endless angle ideas, even if they don’t make sense. He will suggest an angle with the World Champion after losing the opener the week before. I respect the balls in that. And sometimes it works, like when he got a World Title shot last year. He didn’t win it, but he was there, main eventing a title match, and I respect the hustle. You should too. Unless you don’t like Scott Stevens, in which case fuck that guy.
Scottywood, as we all know is the hardcore legend of High Octane. He’s Sandman in ECW. He’s not throwing suplexes, not using a single one of Chris Jericho’s list of 1,001 holds. He’s hitting you with things, really hard. Hockey sticks, whether wrapped in barbed wire or not, but usually wrapped in barbed wire, chairs, belts, a bottle of really bitter IPA, pretty much anything he can get his hands on. He also cannot hold his liquor, I’m told, as he spent more time on the HOW Forbidden Door trip earlier this year throwing up than anything else. But that’s neither here nor there. Also, no truth to the rumor that he will be heading up the new HOW Lightweight division.
Scotty, however, is another of the heart and soul pieces of High Octane. He’s synonymous with it. I just can’t imagine what I know of HOW without Scottywood being part of it. He feels like the little brother of HOW. We all give him shit, but we’d jump in and have his back if an outsider tried anything.
This is a Baptized in Blood Match.
I grew up in a bit of a Christian fundamentalist household, so I’ve seen many actual baptisms and they rarely involve blood, except for that one time Mrs. Bishop slipped and cracked her knee on the ceramic. But it was just a flesh wound. She’s fine now.
But this match isn’t like that at all. There will be blood, I have been promised by Daniel Day-Lewis, and it will be flowing but good.
Bullrope Match for the HOTv Championship:
Bob Grenier v Clay Byrd ©
Next up we have the French Canadian hockey legend Robert Grenier taking on the very big Texan from Pittsbu… er, the suburbs of Youngst… I mean, from Plainview, Texas, Clay Dewayne Byrd. Grenier is most known for his time in PWA sister fed Online Championship Wrestling, or OCW if you like acronyms because you’re so lazy. Loser. Do better.
The Bullrope Match would seem to favor our Pennsylv… er, Ohi…. er, Texan friend, Clay Byrd. Clay is from Texas, where there are bulls and ropes, so a bullrope to him is just one of the toys his parents put in his crib for him to snuggle with and fall with asleep while the Colt .45 propped up on the teeny tiny gun rack over his head served as a reminder to any rackin’ frackin’ varmints that this baby was no regular baby. No, this was a MAN… eventually. Aww, they’re so cute when they’re little. Seems like it was just yesterday when Clay Byrd was knee high to a grasshopper screaming out “pew pew!!” for the first time while kicking his legs out like Yosemite Sam. Yosemite has nothing to do with Texas, so I feel it fits, unlike Clay in rooms with a standard ceiling height.
But just because the stipulations for this match seem to favor Clay Byrd, that doesn’t mean that Bob Grenier doesn’t have a shot here. I’m certain he has a shot. He has to have a shot. I don’t know if he has a shot. But I do like the cross-promotional opportunities and work being done here. Being part of the PWA, we will likely see more interpromotional matches like this, and I’m pretty much here for it.
I don’t know Grenier well other than the little bit I found on the OCW site, but I know Clay, and Brock is one of the most consistently great writers in the hobby. He’s a big, tall dude from the Midwest who writes a believable Texan while wearing gigantic pants, and that is to be applauded. Besides, you can make fun of Brock’s pants all you want, but there’s something to be said for airflow, and while you’re sitting there with your balls all swampy, he’s grinning and Ric Flair strutting away feeling high and dry. So suck on that.
I’ll look forward to reading this match, because I like Clay Byrd. But here’s to wishing the best for Robert Grenier. Welcome to HOW pay-per-views.
Tag Team Championship:
The Board v BFFs v Azula & Hollywood v The Highwaymen ©
And now, the single greatest character in the history of fantasy wrestling, e-fedding or anything else, Stronk Godson. First off, let me say, I know the writer of Stronk, Devin, from way way back. We go back to the same e-fedding circle, FW.com, where he was at one time a very dominant World Champion with a character called Joe the Plumber. He was absurd. He did heroin in the middle of matches, smelled like urine, had torn up clothes, and lived in a dumpster… and wrote at an elite level. Fast forward to now, and Devin comes to HOW and foolishly tries to pretend that he’s a newbie. It took pretty much five seconds for everyone to realize, um, bullshit, new my ass. I reached out to him, and when he realized who I was, he told me who he was, and my mind was blown that he came back. He’s truly one of the best of the best of the best, hands down. It took him about three shows to get his feet under him, and ever since then, good luck beating this dude. And in this match, teamed up with fellow Board member Jace Parker Davidson, no less than a fucking Hall of Famer. I very much appreciate Jace for being a decent human being and for his underrated trash talk, which amuses me greatly. All in all, this is a very solid team with not really any weaknesses.
The BFFs have been a slow build in discord for quite a while now, much to Bobbinette Carey’s chagrin. The back and forth between these two is a bit of an Odd Couple vibe, but don’t call them a couple around Carey, for she has been known to cut a bitch. Don’t think she’ll do it? No one dresses up like Sailor Moon and goes to conventions if they don’t mean business. NO ONE. And she’s a Hall of Famer too, so shut up.
Conor is one of the best in the business, too. He’s been on a bit of a break since his World Title run ended but that loss definitely was not why he took a break. No. He’s been following what’s left of the band Rush on their tour across Canada, and you listen here, WiFi in the mountains is spotty. Also Toronto and Vancouver are just lovely in the Summer. It’s just like my Summer here in Texas, except the exact opposite of it in any way at all.
Xander Azula and Brian Hollywood feel like they probably have a big hill to climb. But I’ll say this about these guys. Alex, who writes Xander, has been all over the place in this hobby, done lots of work to bring communities together, run feds and generally do the workhorse stuff wherever he’s needed. I think that matters more than anything else I could say here. And Brian Hollywood is a pillar of the HOW story. He’s in that same group of guys like Darin Zion and Scottywood who are just synonymous with what High Octane is all about. I’m not sure if these guys can pull this out, but I’m rooting for them nonetheless. I like to see good things happen to good people.
And last, but certainly not least, the champs, The Highwaymen, Steve Harrison and Joe Bergman.
Fun Fact: Did you know Steve Harrison used to be greatly involved with the dairy industry in the United States? Turns out his family invented a new way to milk cows back in the 1850s, and Harrisons have been going around milking titties ever since. The man was a milk maven, a two percent tycoon, but he gave it all up to try and gain a greater amount of respect, and he’s done that. But his family blazed a trail to get good quality milk onto your local shelves, so next time you pour the last bit of milk in the bottom of your finished cereal bowl down the sink drain, you remember the Harrison family. In all seriousness, and again, not having read the roleplays yet, I have to say Harrison is one of those guys who writes some tremendous stuff that really plays well in the High Octane style. I feel like he found a groove last year, and he’s kept that good work up.
Joe Bergman is, of course, JD. Now I already raved about JD earlier in this article, so I won’t go over well-trodden ground here. But I can say that Joe Bergman shows JD’s versatility as a writer. If I remember correctly, this character was not meant to be a serious competitor in the reboot of HOW, but JD fucked around and took a guy named “Halitosis” to the world championship… TWICE. He’s kinda like Stronk. Even when he tries to suck, he just can’t do it. He’s too good. And the character has evolved in a cool, believable way that I dig.
I feel like this is gonna come down to just who was on their A-game during the roleplay period. All of these teams have a shot if they can do their best work. If they don’t, well, I don’t think this is a match you can win at less than your best.
Simon Sparrow v Tyler Best ©
Let me give a little disclaimer here. Mike is one of my closest friends in the game. I like Simon Jatt Starr Sparrow, also. I like him considerably better than the High Sparrow on Game of Thrones, who is now dead as a result of fire. Simon Sparrow most likely will not die from fire as a result of this match, but you can never really know for sure with the Best family.
What I like about Tyler Best, the ICON Champion, is that he’s basically a twist on a very well known character. It’s no secret that Mike had taken the Mike Best character about as far as you can take your character. Nothing left to accomplish. No challenges left. He was at that point where you’re just done, and I can relate to that feeling. The last thing you want to do is water down your best character because you lose your fire. I don’t think he’d mind me saying, we talked about this when he was winding the character down, and I told him, I’d love to see him pick up something different and write a different character. Stretch yourself, reprove to yourself what you can do, set up a whole new pile of new challenges, especially the challenge of working out a character from scratch.
What he’s done with Tyler Best is take the core principle of the Mike Best character and twist it in a way that it makes sense he would be Mike’s son. I especially enjoy the moments where Mike Best, of all people, is shocked by something Tyler does. Tyler also affords Mike the opportunity to get legitimately evil, doing things like beating up homeless people, just things that are probably irredeemable. That’s interesting.
Simon Sparrow, the former Jatt Starr, is yet another Hall of Famer on this show. He earned that spot in the years before I knew what High Octane was, but I can say that in the time he’s been back during this era he usually is pretty consistently good at the humor side of this hobby and his story writing is underrated, too.
I do think Tyler probably will be tough to beat, as Mike always is. You almost have to just hope he lays an egg out of boredom or annoyance, but I think Mike has found his second wind with this character, so I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
Christopher America © v Steve Solex
Last, but not least, we have the World Championship. The World Champion is, surprise surprise, a Hall of Famer. And for my money, he’s one of the best trash talkers in the world. This is an area of the hobby that I enjoy greatly and he’s been consistently good at it since he came back. I hear he was really good at it in the old days too, so it’s really good to see him back and picking up where he left off. Christopher America won the belt by winning War Games, perhaps the most difficult match to win in the hobby, so he absolutely earned it. He worked hard to get it, and he’s doing a good job of making his reign something to remember.
I have particularly enjoyed the rivalry between America and Steve Solex. Solex is a guy that people sleep on sometimes, but come on, a real life soldier writing a veteran who also likes to grill delicious meats. I’m not sure how this match is gonna play out. I might have more on it after I read the roleplays and the match itself goes up. But I do know that no matter what, Solex is having a nice juicy steak afterward.
Still, this is the main event, and it’s a big one, and it’s a good one.
We’re seeing a champion at the top of his game defending against a guy who has done consistently great work for a long time now, and is finally getting his big shot at the main event. Eric is good people, too, so I feel a legitimate happiness seeing him get this spot. If he actually wins the belt, boy, that would be a feel-good moment for me.
And with that, we are done with this first little blog article thing. Hopefully it was worth your time, hopefully you enjoyed it, and it adds a little to the weekend festivities. Next time might be a Dead or Alive recap, or it might be a medley of Wanted Dead or Alive, You Give Love a Bad Name, and Blaze of Glory on the harpsichord, played by my good friend, a man who definitely offered to actually do this, the one and only Steve Solex. It’ll be just like the old days in the barracks. Don’t sleep on his guitar solo.
‘Til next time.