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Posted by Brian Hollywood
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An overhead view of an empty wrestling gym in the early hours of the morning comes into focus. There, two rings sit side-by-side, with no more than the odd chair positioned beside it. It’s eerily quiet, other than one man who sports lime green Adidas track pants and an “8-BIT BADASS” t-shirt kneeling inside the squared circle on the left. Clearly coming into focus now as the scene zooms closer, it’s ‘The Vintage’ Conor Fuse.
Fuse is near the ropes, carefully placing scotch tape down to make an X. He stands, looks it over and takes a deep breath.
“No. Just, no.” He mutters to himself, motioning with his hands that the X should be about two millimeters closer to the ropes. To someone else, this detail wouldn’t matter. It’s two millimeters. To Conor, however, he is growing more furious by the second. Whatever he is up to remains unknown for another minute as Fuse gets back down on his knees, removes the tape and places it in the “correct” spot… even if that spot looks like it’s no different whatsoever than the one he just made.
Conor rises, this time immediately pleased with himself. He doesn’t need a different perspective to see that the X is in the right location.
Fuse pats himself on the back (literally) and nods. He walks over to the ropes closest to the X. At first, he carefully places a foot on the bottom rope and slowly jumps off, kicking the air where the X sits underneath.
“Perfect. This is perfect.” Conor says to himself, albeit much louder this time. Fuse goes back to the ropes and jumps off the bottom one, again and again, faster each time. He kicks the air where the X is harder and harder, too. He’s certainly practicing something.
The Game Boy enters the gym. The entrance door swings open and then slams shut, diverting Conor’s attention.
“GAME BOY!” He shouts. At first, ‘The Vintage’ sounds happy. However, as The “Mini” Boss makes his way to the ring, it’s clear Fuse was rattled by the noise. “I need you to stay quiet. I am working very hard here!”
The mute dummy lifts up a can of iced tea. Conor was so focused on the door slamming shut he never saw what The Game Boy had brought him.
“Not right now, my friend.” Conor mentions, as he goes back to jumping off the bottom rope. “I do appreciate it, though.”
The Game Boy sets the can of iced tea down underneath the far turnbuckle. The hulking man makes his way to the corner much closer to his teammate. And while The Game Boy doesn’t say a thing, it’s as if Conor Fuse feels connected to him telepathically and replies as if TGB asked him a question.
“Yes, yes, I know. I am going to extremes here.” Conor remarks. “But the early bird catches the… uhhhh, I only know wrestling and video games. I’m not a proverb kinda guy.”
Fuse goes back to rushing the ropes, in full speed, jumping off the bottom one and landing the kick where he wants to.
“Okay, that’s a fair assessment.” He says, as if The Game Boy made a comment (spoiler: he didn’t). “I know Funko Pops too. And movies. And Netflix. I guess I really am a diverse guy when you think about it.”
Conor drops to a knee and removes the X. He then pulls out a handful of folded up notes in his back pocket. He scans the notes quickly, maybe too quickly for the average person and puts them away. He immediately gets to the middle of the ring and replaces the tape in an X exactly where he intends. There is no need to re-do the placement this time. Fuse stands and processes the dimensions as quickly as he did the paperwork. Conor smiles from ear-to-ear.
“I know, Game Boy, I know. Maybe this is a little too much work, even for me. It’s not like I don’t know who Scott Stevens is. We have both been a part of different organizations at the same time. But you can never take someone like that too lightly. Even if it’s… Scott Stevens.” Conor says, looking up at his friend. “Hey, remember when I thought it was Scott Stevens the hockey player?”
The motionless Game Boy can only telepathically reply and by now you should even be questioning if he has that ability…
“Yeah.” Conor mutters to himself. “I wish it was Scott Stevens the hockey player. Keep your head up! Haha.”
Fuse giggles for his own amusement, impersonating the NHL version of Stevens.
“Brawler. Powerful. Whateverful.” Conor states, likely being the traits of the wrestler named Scott, as ‘The Vintage’ bounces hard into the ropes but then ensures he hooks his arms around the top rope at the last possible second, halting his momentum and hurting his arms in the process.
Conor stumbles forward but he’s able to successfully break his speed and go nowhere near the X on the canvas.
“Excellent!” He says with a sinister grin. “You see that, Game Boy? Do you see, do you see? I am SO SMART. Smart cookie!”
Conor is sidetracked…
“Mmmmm, cookie.” Sounding very much like the Cookie Monster, there is a long pause before he shakes his head and reverts back to the normal childish, OCD-minded individual he is known for. “So Stevens likes to hit that Toxic Sting of his. That cutter. If he throws me into the ropes like so…”
Conor rushes the ropes again, going full blast and hooking his hands across the top at the very last-second before coming off them. Again, he lets out an “owie” but again his face shows he is very happy regardless of the pain he caused.
“And then, if I hook my hands against the top rope but I LEAN forward while doing it, this stupid dummy-Stevens is gonna think I’ll leave my head exposed and he will go looking for the cutter.” Conor makes a loud BUZZ sound, like someone gave an answer on Family Feud and then found out their response wasn’t on the board after all, even though everyone said “good answer, good answer” although it really was a TERRIBLE answer… “WRONG. Just wrong. Jokes on you, Mr. Scott Stevens Not-The-Hockey-Player. I trick you with keeping my head down, forward… and THEN if I can get at the ropes just the right way, I stop ALL the MO[mentum]. This makes The Stevens BOT lean forward himself, looking for the cutter… BAM. Kick to the face by CONOR FUSE!”
Conor pats himself on the back (literally) and gives himself a round of applause (literally).
“I am not just another pretty face, Game Boy. Although my mom says I have a very pretty face.”
The Game Boy slightly nods.
“Now, I just gotta work that kick in. This is gonna take a while but I will perfect it! No doubt!”
The scene speeds up as if it were a montage. Conor takes many attempts at the ropes. While he has performed the rope break to his liking, the kick coming off doesn’t reach the spot he wants to, at least not yet. In his mind, the kick falls just a little short of the X he marked on the canvas mat. To some onlookers, the kick may be very close or even at the X but to Conor he knows he is off, just by the tiniest of margins.
Into the ropes, halt and kick.
Into the ropes, halt and kick.
Again. Again. Again. Again.
Daylight starts appearing through the gym window. It may be 5am now, or 6am, no one is sure. As the scene slows back down, Conor performs the move once more. When he kicks out, his eyes grow wide and his smile becomes pure evil.
“EUREEKA! I’ve done it!” Fuse walks to the center of the ring and looks at The Game Boy, who hasn’t moved an inch. Did he sleep through all of this? Is he just as interested as he was an hour ago? No one knows.
“Okay.” Conor says, snapping his fingers. “I’ll take that iced tea now.”
Upon request, The Game Boy moves from his turnbuckle to the buckle where the can of ice tea sits. He snatches it off the ground, his large hand engulfing the Nestea 355mL can so that it is barely visible. The “Mini” Boss walks it over to Conor and hands it to him.
A quick pop of the top and Conor guzzles it down in a hurry. “Mmmmmm. That’s good NEStea.”
Conor tosses the can out of the ring and pulls the notes from his back pocket. He scans them quickly and folds them back up.
“Right. So next, how to get out of the sharpshooter. Game Boy, I’mma need you for this one. That’s why I called you.” The Game Boy walks to the center of the ring as Conor falls to the mat. “It says in my cheat codes [scouting report] Scott Stevens only cracks this out for big matches. Well, AIN’T NO BIGGER THAN ‘THE VINTAGE’, AM I RIGHT!?”
“OH YA, I’m right!”