Jatt Starr. The person I would attribute to the real rise of The Vintage. While I have spent the majority of my time worrying about Bobbinette, I haven’t forgotten about my other friend, either. Funny how things work, two years ago I was gearing up for the biggest fight of my life against my current teammate. It was a match I would end up failing. But failure in this game can mean many different things. It was an initial failure… not a sustained one. It was what I needed, at the time I needed it. Nowhere near the levels I am now, it was the XP I required to become a two-time World Champion and handle myself through additional failures such as losing my first World Title the following year in Alcatraz.
No. The prison has not been kind to the gamer. It’s beyond playable, a button masher requiring ELITE level skills. It’s been the event I haven’t figured out how to master.
And here we are. Beside me, my friend. A mentor, a legend, his legacy speaks for itself.
In front of us… the man who I swore I’d take down at the end of our tag team tournament. The definition of wrestling. The paramount of our four corners. His teammate… the biggest physical threat I’ve faced. Mini boss in structure, 8-4 by definition.
Just a gamer trying to do the right thing. Defend his friends, wrestle in their name. Because come this Rumble at the Rock, that’s what I’ll be doing. No World Title on the line, no need to prove myself. Been there, done that. But to have the burden of someone else on my shoulders… that’s an entirely new level to play.
As for this Sunday, some may call it a precursor, warm-up or test-run. Throw us all together and see what happens. Chaos, likely, is certain.
I don’t look at it like any of those things. This isn’t preseason. No trial, beta or demo. It’s part one of two.
Been waiting to get my hands on you one-on-one for a long time, Stronk. I’ll have to wait a little longer for the “true” singles test. But I can still punch you square in the dick, regardless.
Hope your dick is as big of a target as you think it is.
— — — — —
“Are you ready?”
Guess those words have circled around sports for centuries. Are you ready? It can mean a lot of things. By simply asking the question, it can mean that I’m not. It can mean I’m not sure, or I don’t have the answer yet.
And here we are, San Francisco. Sunday, an arena. Two weeks later, the pen. I sit cross-legged while staring at the ominous structure, certain I know what violence is about to come. I’ve done this before, many times. Arrive early, walk around the castle and get a feel for my surroundings. I visited the Chase Center an hour ago but now I have to see the real deal up close and personal.
Well, as close as I can get without swimming over.
Will my opponents and Jatt take this match on Sunday as seriously as I intend to?
“I said ‘are you ready’?”
I most certainly hope they do.
That’s why I’m here. Looking the prison straight in the face. Reminding myself THIS is the end game, where careers come to die. It’s also where careers are molded. Mine has been, twice already.
Stronk will pay for what he’s done to Bobbie. He’s going to see a whole new intensity in front of him.
Should I give him a taste on Sunday? Or should I surprise him when it really counts?
“Are you!? Hello!?”
A hard sigh. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m not gonna be able to hold back. This is not a bad thing. I’ve gone full tilt before and as a result, my back has been against the mat, staring up into deadlights. I’ve walked into a match with so much blinding rage I didn’t know what to do with myself. I feel like I’ve learned how to project this energy. To go into Chaos this Sunday with a reckless game plan may be my best option. I’ll know if I can handle the powerlifter or return to the drawing board and find a new strategy.
“Guess you’re not ready.”
So hit him, Conor. Stomp Godson’s fucking head. Leave nothing to the imagination. End Stronk here, before he can walk into the gates of hell. Make him ponder the meaning of life. Let him contemplate a gamer’s rage before October 30th.
The tiny dick man’s biggest test comes soon. Let this be the prequel Stronk needs before the actual events.
“Maybe you are ready!”
My eyes can’t look away. My body moves, I’m standing now. But my eyes still fixate on the prison. Inside those walls… all the pain and torture those inmates caused. The mindset they needed to carry out their merciless events. Hmmm, I’ve headbutted and mauled a guy to unconsciousness before.
I electrocuted another.
I have the potential inside me to bring something similar. Something Stronk doesn’t have. I know it.
“Oh, he’s ready!”
Finally, my gaze is elsewhere. I am at peace with my decision. I’ll return to the Chase Center now. I will focus and harness myself.
Only to lose all control in two days.
I never did give him an answer, regarding if I’m ready. I didn’t tell you who I was speaking to, either. That’s for another time.
But the answers he asks me is clear. Very.
I. Am. Ready.
Now all I ask: Is Stronk?
— — — — —
Never thought we’d meet again. Glad you didn’t retire, buddy. I want one more shot at you.
If it’s not a singles match ATM, so be it. I’ll take what I can get. You… me… we aren’t very different when you think about it. We can be flamboyant, yet focused and determined. When something or someone is in John Sektor’s path he usually takes it down. That LSD run you went on, boy was it something.
Do I mean the drug or the title run? You decide. ; )
Back to serious points… through my journey in High Octane I rarely looked at a card and saw an opponent lined up against The Gold Standard and thought to myself “yeah, they have a chance.” We also have some of the same friends, been in the same circumstances… and despite all of this, we have barely crossed paths.
I get it, if I had started my career when you did, we would have faced each other frequently. I can’t help when I was born, like you can’t help being near the end of your career. Retired once… and this game dragged you back, huh.
You’re the wrestler I inspire to be, with a focus and attention unmatched. Perhaps this is where we differ. I’d love to have this narrow-minded attitude. Focus and channel all of my energy into wins and losses. Yes, there is substance use… real life aspects can weave their unwanted way in. But to be honest I never felt like any of that was my business. Put IRL roadblocks in front of John Sektor, he often powers through inside the squared circle.
So why return? You’ve literally done everything humanly possible in this game. What really took you from the sidelines and placed you in the center of the ring? What are you searching for? What did you miss?
Or maybe this is really all you know.
And that’s a sad life. Because Father Time WILL take your talents away, one day.
Last we spoke, it was heated on my end. I was furious you didn’t acknowledge me as much as I would have liked… and yet, I can’t help but think there’s some mutual respect now. I wouldn’t be the first who has pushed you to your limits. I don’t expect much from you… I wouldn’t think you’d be focused on this gamer. That would be displaced aggression, not something you’re known for. But if you stick around long enough, I’d like to make something clear.
Our paths won’t be a random cross-up in the future.
We won’t meet in the finals of a tag team tournament or a thrown together go-home tag team match. No. I want John Sektor one-on-one. I want The Gold Standard’s focus squarely on my shoulders.
Sunday isn’t a regular contest for me. As I said previously, it’s not a throw-away. Not only do I have to show Stronk what he’s signed up for… I have to leave a LASTING impression on you.
You can’t walk away this time.
I will make sure you DON’T walk away.
Others chomp their nails for Conor Fuse vs. JPD. The boss wants to see Conor Fuse vs. Steve Harrison because, of course, he could kill two enemies for the price of one.
But what I want… why I play…
Is for a legend like yourself.
I won’t let you choose retirement yet. I’ll let you settle your grudge with Jatt.
And then I’m next in line.
You might not have patience for me. You might not want anything to do with me. I’ll make it my business, John. I’ll show you why I am your next direction and why I can’t let the best wrestler I’ve ever laid eyes on leave once again.
There’s no suplex you can’t hit, no submission you can’t deploy.
I can slip outta all of them, though.
Oh, you’re sure as hell going to.
— — — — —
I can’t believe we lost.
It’s moments after March to Glory and the main event Tag Team Championship tournament finals between Noble Gaming and John Sektor and Adam Ellis. David and I were defeated. Some would say it was close. A mere single move away from the opposite being true. Yet years from this event, no one will remember those details. Merely the winners.
Noble has taken it hard. He sits with his head in his hands on the seat beside me. I guess I’ve taken it hard, too. I am nowhere near my chipper self. Not that I would be after a loss… but this one seems particularly hard.
I called Sektor out. I pumped his tires, I said he was the best. And I meant every single word of it. But I also was playing him for a fool. Sucking him into the belief I would wrestle with honor and dignity. No. This time I was willing to go to another extreme. I tried to split apart his friendship with Adam Ellis. I wanted Sektor to suffer for brushing me off in the past. I took things too personal.
And I really wanted this win.
I NEEDED this win.
When I look at this moment… it was certainly the start of the end to my friendship with David. Kinda poetic how this works. I spent my energy ripping Sektor away from Ellis… only for David and I to be the ones who drift apart.
By my hand no less.
I look over to him and pat him on the back. However, inside me I feel vengeful. David took the pin.
I did not.
“Excuse me for a minute, buddy,” I say to my partner, standing up and eventually strolling into the hallway. My mind is a mess, my head is spinning. Anger slowly courses through me but I’m not particularly aware of how I feel. Not yet.
I find an exit door, into one of the back alleys of the arena. It’s raining. Lightly. I stand with my hands on my hips, breathing heavily.
I can’t believe we lost. I don’t get another shot at John Sektor.
My plan to prove I’m the best wrestler in the world… World Champion, Tag Team Champion, tournament winner.
I’ve only got half the honor.
Continuing to breathe heavily, I turn to see a garbage bin off to the side. I place my hands on my head now, trying to take a deep breath in and out. Attempting to relax.
I think it’s working.
But the reality in front of me…
Sektor is going to retire soon. I know it. That’s why he’s got his protégé. That’s why he’s building his own wrestling school.
And we blew it.
David blew it.
On a night where Sektor was distracted with TWO matches, he still beat us.
He beat David.
Fuck friendship. I picked the wrong guy. I was supposed to be with JPD. Maybe even Jatt…
“I’m still World Champion,” I tell myself. It’s all in front of me.
Sure doesn’t feel like it, though.
The loss continues to play through my head.
I let out a scream, look down and realize I’ve completely destroyed the garbage can in front of me. I mean destroyed. Broken into a million pieces, Such anger, such rage.
Conor Fuse doesn’t waste opportunities.
Changes are going to have to be made. Where do I start?
— — — — —
October 24th, 2020.
I rest outside Alcatraz, head down into my knees, mind wandering. Two hours ago I was scraped off the pavement, thanks to Jatt Starr. I walked into High Octane, he pointed directly at me and chose The Vintage for his hurrah return match.
What a hurrah it was.
“Screw this, Game Boy,” I mutter, barely loud enough for me to hear. My hulking henchman, all 6’6” 300+ pounds of him is beside me. His arm pats my back once, lightly. I lift my head and he stoically stares into the distance with his NES luchador mask covering his face.
“I lost my first big match… to a legend of all people,” I go through each move inside the prison. How close I was to winning, despite how much I bled. How I kicked out right after the three and yet.
An L goes on my record.
“I’m not good enough for this place.”
It’s a statement; I thoroughly believe it. I’m not ready for HOW. Alcatraz is no joke.
The Video Game Kid is.
Some would say Jatt’s the real deal, that despite his funny demeanor he’s a former World Champion, he’s a pinnacle in the High Octane banner. His face is posted everywhere, along with the other top guys. Beating Jatt would’ve been more shocking than losing. Losing and hanging with him shows I belong just as much. Some would say it’s what I do AFTER this that matters more.
A deep breath in and I lift my head. Side note, I gotta learn to breathe better because this deep breath shit doesn’t work. My heart is hammering like a motherfucker. I’m feeling a sense of anger but primarily it’s sadness.
I won’t make it far here. The prison walls have knocked me down and spat me out.
“Let’s go, Game Boy,” I say while I stand and my second hand joins me. “I gave it my all but I don’t think I’m coming back…”
If I only knew.
— — — — —
Stronk, I’m going to hold off and say the majority of what I intend to next week. But as you can see… I’ve faced a lot of setbacks in HOW. And yet, I’m still here.
John Sektor, I have been encouraged by your return. Last year, you paid no attention to me. This year, I forced you to stand across the ring from me. I went through many other teams to meet you in the finals. I’ll go through many more wrestlers to find you once again. Through Stronk. Through Christopher America. Through anyone Lee puts in my way. I will get what I want, a chance to prove me, of all people, can out-wrestle you.
Jatt, as the initial man who knocked me down, you also helped pull me up. While my attention has veered towards Bobbie, I’ll always be in debt to you. What you’ve done for my career… there’s no World Championship, let alone two reigns, without your return to wrestle me. To beat me. Other friends have left my side. But you, Jatt, you’re not a friend of mine. You’re not even a mentor. You are the true embodiment of Vintage.
What happens in two weeks… do I leave Alcatraz a broken man again? I’ll find out soon enough. The first chapter starts Sunday.
And Stronk, I’m not sure you know what you signed up for.