The HOW World Championship.
I’ll never forget my first. ICONIC 2010, the culmination of my first year in the big leagues. A six man ladder match. My first year in HOW had a lot of ups and downs, but it had all built up to that moment. I remember earlier in the year, I’d come so close… David Black was on this unstoppable run with the title. We squared off on Turmoil, and wouldn’t you know it, I fucking won.
I thought that was it. That was my one shot in my rookie year, and I’d come up just short. So imagine my surprise when I’m standing in that ring at ICONIC, staring at five other men with the same thing on their mind. The same determination. The same goal. Looking back, the whole thing is kind of a blur, but I’ll never forget reaching up for that title. Holding it in my hands for the first time, as I came down off that ladder, knowing my name would be inscribed on the plate. That no matter what else happened, I’d always be known as a man who had captured the HOW World Championship. I didn’t know then that it was only the beginning. I didn’t know then that I’d be the winningest champion in company history. I didn’t know that I’d be the only person to ever hold that belt ten times.
That was almost fourteen years ago.
Look where we are now, man.
I know everyone thinks I’m a disingenuous fuck at this point in my career, and that everything I say is just bullshit. That’s my fault. I planted those seeds and I’ll be harvesting them for the rest of my life. Fair play. But I can’t state enough how important this match between us is, Conor. There are only a few of these in a man’s career— opponents who become known not just for who they are, but who they are to eachother. I’ve had a few. Max Kael. Rhys Townsend. And you, Conor. When I think back on my career, and when others look back on my career, those are the matches they remember. The feuds that lit the world on fire. We’ve done it a half dozen times now, man, and yet I can’t help but feel we’re just getting started. It’s not really the time to talk about the past, though, or even the future. It’s time to talk about the now.
You and me.
In God’s House.
I’ll be honest, Conor, you had a shot. After the war we went through at 97 Red, I’ve struggled with a little bit of self doubt. Wondering if I could get it done twice, when let’s be honest, I barely got it done last time. You knocked me out, my guy— flying knee to the dome, and if I hadn’t been literally saved by the bell you’d be holding two titles right now and wearing both of them. Proudly. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise. And I know you say that a second is worth as much as a hundred seconds, but hey, a bullshitter knows a bullshitter. You hype yourself up the same way I hype myself up. You make the odds full insurmountable. You make yourself believe you’re the underdog. But you beat me, Conor— the only thing on my side that night was time. So yeah, going into this match, I wasn’t at my most confident.
I was getting nervous.
I won’t pretend otherwise.
I’ve never had a run with the LSD Title, Conor. Not a real one. Not once in the fourteen years I’ve been kicking around these hallowed hallways. People have always speculated that it’s because I just didn’t give a shit about the LSD Championship, and the truth is that they were right. I didn’t. For years and years, I thought of this title as tertiary. The belt of meaningless violence that desperate midcarders fought over, to prove that they belonged in the main event. I know it was always supposed to be treated equally with the ICON Championship, but I never saw it that way. Never believed it. The ICON was my baby.
The LSD was my red-headed stepchild.
But I’ve been trying, man.
Busting my ass, week in and week out, defending the absolute shit out of this thing. Trying to make it a part of my legacy, just as much as Big Red or the ICON or the HOFC Championships. Trying to erase and whitewash years of disrespect I put on this title, not only out loud, but in the back of my own brain. But it seems like the harder I fight to make this championship the caliber that it deserves, the more resistance I get. Hall of Famer after Hall of Famer talking about how they don’t give a shit about the belt. How they think I don’t give a shit about the belt. In all honesty, it’s been wearing on me, Conor. Week after week, same tired bullshit. But it was all going to be worth it, because at In God’s House, I was going to face you.
A guy who gets it.
A guy who gives a shit.
And you really had a shot, Conor. Part of me was even hoping that this round might go to you, and we could sneak a best two out of three out of this. Have the final battle at ICONIC. It was this perfect storm, where I was cheering for you and doubting myself, and I really believe that if nothing had changed, you might finally get that big win over me that you so desperately need.
But you fucked it all up, Conor.
You won the World Championship.
You did the unthinkable— you beat STRONK. Shit, you ended STRONK. You… the video game kid that Eric Dane refused to wrestle. You overcame maybe the most terrifying force in all of pro wrestling, and you won the single most valuable prize to boot. You did it, Conor. Congratulations. For the third time, you ascended the mountaintop and planted your flag, solidifying you as the top rung of the HOW ladder. I cannot express enough how much that speaks to your talent. I cannot express enough how much that proves that you are one of the all time greats, sincerely. But do you know what else I cannot express enough?
How horribly you fucked up, man.
You changed everything.
Everything. Fuck best two out of three. Fuck rooting for you to succeed. Fuck this weird respect that I’ve developed for you over the last couple of years. And most of all, Conor Fuse, fuck that little nagging doubt living rent free in the back of my mind. You changed the entire dynamic of this match. Do you know how many times I’ve successfully defended the LSD Championship on a pay-per-view, Conor? In my entire career?
One fucking time.
And boy, I barely did it. Barely survived. Barely scraped by. I hate to call anything I’ve ever accomplished “luck”, but if I was going to pick a night to call it luck, it was 97 Red. I’m accomplishment fueled, Conor— I have always thrived when there’s something to gain far more than when I’m simply fighting not to lose. And you fucked up, Conor, because you turned me into a challenger. Do you know how many times I’ve challenged the HOW World Champion in a singles match and lost? In fourteen years?
If there’s a thing in the world that I’m BEST at, it’s challenging a seated World Champion and taking their title. You ruined everything. In my head, at In God’s House, you’d get the job done this time. You’d narrowly squeak one out over the Son of God, and we’d finish this out at ICONIC. A true best two out of three. A series of matches that would have gone down in history.
But I can’t hold back, Conor.
I can’t not win the World Championship.
It’s like fucking heroin, man. You know. You feel it. You felt it the second that bell rang, and they handed you the title. I appreciate the showing of respect, and you being unwilling to wear that belt until you’ve beaten me, but I still know that you feel it. There’s no other feeling on planet earth like being the HOW World Champion— I’ve done it ten times, and still the idea of an eleventh just gets my fucking blood pumping. Gets my dick hard. Makes me want to get into that ring and tear you limb from limb, break every bone in your body, do whatever I have to do to wear it on my shoulder again. And I don’t even dislike you, Conor. It isn’t even personal at this point. I like you… I respect you… I want you to be successful, and I see so much in you that I see in myself.
But Jesus man.
You won the title.
Outside of my Hall of Fame ring, there’s just… nothing more important. Nothing that means more to me. Not friendships. No relationships. Not my father, or my son, or my health. It’s like the goddamned Ark of the Covenant. And I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed. I’m legitimately not proud that I feel this way, but I can’t stop it. I’ve never been able to stop it. This is the title that I killed my brother for. I let Aceldama straight up murder my girlfriend instead of giving up the World Championship. This terrible codependent relationship that I have with the belt isn’t healthy, or sane, or sustainable.
But it’s real.
I’ve been trying, man. Trying to get better. Trying to get healthier. But I’ve just got these fucking triggers. I’m an addict. Took me seven years to get off coke, but let’s be real, coke was never my most destructive addiction. It’s always been this. It’s always been wrestling. Competition. Championships. I’ve flushed so many things down the toilet in my life over the pursuit of fucking leather and gold, man. A big, meaningless cummerbund that means literally everything to me.
I need it, Conor.
I don’t want to need it.
But I need it.
Sometimes I’m jealous of people who are content with mediocrity. I’ll see a guy in line at Walmart, wearing an HVAC logo on a work shirt, and just think “man, this guy is a fucking lifetime miscarder, and he’s fine with it”. Mediocre wife. Mediocre kids. Makes five or six hundred bucks a week. Weekly poker game in the garage, and once a year he takes the kids to Disney but they eat dinner outside the park. And I’m not even knocking it— it sounds like absolutely the most miserable thing in the world to me, and I’m so fucking jealous that he’s content with it. Happy, even. Just waddling through life, Waffle House to Waffle House, dumping mediocre loads by the light of a half paid off iPad while his mediocre high school sweetheart sleeps miserably upstairs. And it sounds like fucking heaven to me. I want to be complacent with that.
I can’t be.
I want to be.
But I can’t.
I know it sounds like crocodile tears. I get it. “Oh, poor me, I’m one of the best wrestlers in the world and it’s torturous”. But fuck, man. Nothing is ever enough. Eleven HOW World Championships isn’t gonna fill the hole. Twelve. Thirteen. A second spot in the Hall of Fame. I’m sick. I’m fucking sick and I can’t fix it. I’ve hurt so many people… burned down so many friendships and relationships. Betrayed people I loved. I’m afraid that I’m going to throw knees until the last one lands me in a grave, and I’ll have never stopped long enough to appreciate any of it.
You don’t get it.
I am never satisfied.
I was fucking miserable the entire time that Christopher America was busy breaking my records. Fucking miserable when STRONK held the title over his head at War Games. My first thoughts when Conor won the belt? They weren’t pride for Conor. They weren’t grief for STRONK, a man I respect and care for. The first thoughts in my head were of greed. Of opportunity. It’s not like I’m unaware that I’m an insatiable monster. That it’s a detriment to myself and everyone around me. That it’s kept me from forming the kinds of strong friendships and relationships that other people take for granted. And maybe it sounds like I’m just making excuses, but I swear to you, Conor… I don’t want it to be like this.
I don’t want to want to hurt you.
I don’t want to want to destroy you.
But God, I fucking want to.
So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I’m about to fuck up the rest of our year. I’m sorry that I’m going to cost the world the best “Best of Three” they’ve ever seen. I’m sorry for the way that you’re going to be feeling after that final bell at In God’s House, Conor, because I know how hard you take it when you come up short. I will do everything that I can to convince my father that Mike Best versus Conor Fuse 3 is still the move at ICONIC. I will do everything in my power to make him see that it’s still a draw. I will fight for our third match, Conor, because I can promise you with every bit of sincerity I am going to do everything in my power to take your championship.
I will cheat. I will beg, I will borrow, I will steal. The second that bell rings, I am not to be fucking trusted, Conor. I will be a snake. A monster. The worst version of myself, and I will not stop until there is a new champion. I’m sorry. Sincerely, I am fucking sorry. I have been doing so well, getting so much better, getting so much healthier. But this is a big fucking trigger and I am going to lose control. Don’t shake my hand. Don’t buy it, if I beg you for mercy. If I look like I broke my leg, don’t fucking stop, because I am lying.
I killed my own brother, Conor.
I killed my own brother for the HOW World Championship.
I need some time to think about all of this. I don’t know if we’ll talk again before the show or not, and maybe it’s better if we don’t. But please know, for whatever it means to you, that I respect the shit out of you and everything that you have done. You earned that title. You deserve it. All that shit I ever said about you being a kid, or a gimmick, or being disappointed… man, was I ever fucking wrong about you. You are a World Champion that HOW deserves. You are a future Hall of Famer. You are someone who, in another life, might have even been my friend.
I’m sorry for what I’m going to do, Conor.
I really am.
I’m an addict.
I don’t want to be.
But I’m an addict.