”Burning bridges behind you is understandable. It’s the bridges before us that we burn, not realizing we may need to cross, that brings regret.”
– Anthony Liccione
I know what this is.
You get used to it.
World Champion Conor Fuse… and two other random people, against the Final Alliance. We’re meant to soften you up for Mike. Of course, Mike would say he doesn’t need you to be softened up, and that may well be true. But that is in fact what we are here for nonetheless. Your World Championship is not on the line. The PWA World Tag Team titles are not on the line.
This is meant to be a punishment, nothing more, nothing less.
Now, you and I, we have history. It’s ancient history for most people but you and I know. We were tag team royalty ourselves once upon a time. Unfortunately, for yours truly, that all ended with a pretty gnarly knee injury. Steve Harrison can take credit for that if he wants, wherever he is, but the truth is, my knee ligaments had been hanging on by a thread for some time. I was trying to ignore it, but the time was coming no matter what.
I’ve heard through rumors and through mutual acquaintances that you have some sort of bitterness toward me for ‘running out on you’, or something to that effect.
It’s an odd thought. My knee is ripped to shreds, and that means I ran out on you.
Maybe I shouldn’t believe everything I hear, because that doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense.
Not only that, but I haven’t laid a hand on you since I came back. Even when you were antagonizing God and probably deserved it, I still didn’t touch you. I have never found any joy in your opposition to us, but I have to recognize that the time for leniency has now come to an end.
Go ahead and say it.
You’re the World Champion, you beat STRONK!, you don’t need leniency.
I would point you to Jace Parker Davidson.
He beat me last week. Did you know that? That image was quickly replaced by an appearance for God almighty himself, and by me, once again picking him up and dumping him on his head right on the hard, cold, metal entrance stage.
This is the thing I always tell young people entering this business. If you spend enough time in the game, if you persevere and keep grinding, you’re gonna live through some peaks and valleys. Even the best of us have gone on losing streaks. So, you better figure out another way to make an impact.
Like me, for example.
I know what I’m supposed to say. I’m supposed to pretend like father time isn’t catching up to me. I’m supposed to live in denial. Okay. I prefer to admit and adapt. I intend to find new ways to win where the old ways no longer work. I intend to fight, until I die I intend to fight.
And now, here we are, you with the belt, and me on the other side of the ring sent to put you down. Let’s not waste time with chest puffing and thinly veiled threats. Instead, let’s just lay all of our cards out on the table.
It is my job to remove you from the equation, Conor. Or, at the very least, to set you up to be removed by someone who comes behind me. One way or another, you’re running headlong into a gauntlet of some of the best this sport has ever seen. So you can play that off, laugh it off if you want, but if you do, you’re making a big fuckin’ mistake.
I know you’re confident. I know you’ve found an edge. But I also remember. I still know you. You aren’t a fool, so don’t act like one. This isn’t set up to be a match, Conor. It’s set up to be a massacre. This isn’t a secret. But I think it’s important to make sure this is said out loud.
Just last week, a possible shot at your World Championship was dangled in front of my face, but first I have to beat Rhys Townsend. And first, you have to somehow defeat Mike Best. What are the odds of both of those things happening? I wonder. I also wonder what happens if we do happen to find ourselves across the ring from each other with the title on the line.
I’ll have to adapt to you too, I’ll have to weapon get your weapon get, and I’ll have to figure out a way to win the one major World Championship that has so far eluded me.
But of course, this for now remains a fantasy, at least until Townsend is defeated and you overcome gigantic odds to keep the title. Mike doesn’t care about anything but that belt around your waist. He doesn’t care about you, he doesn’t care about the Alliance, he doesn’t even care about his father, really, so long as his father is willing to pull strings and open doors for his baby boy to walk through.
And I don’t even hate that. I say, all’s fair in love and war. Hell, Mike and I both would say we’re friends. He’s said that a moment backstage with me at a wrestling show fifteen years ago is the reason he wanted to become a wrestler, but we also have a healthy understanding.
Mike isn’t just chasing the World Title. It is literally the only thing in life that he cares about, and that’s something that I relate to. You will never hear me say that I’m satisfied. Even if I someday have that belt around my waist, I will still be driven to win every single time I step into the ring. You’ve got to beat that. You’ve got to beat it and then you just might have to beat, too.
We’re gonna really see what you’re made of in these next couple months, Conor.
I’m looking forward to it. I have high expectations for you, and I expect greatness. You may go to GOD’s House and shock the world, but you won’t go into that ring at full strength.
As for your two partners, look guys, I have no hatred for either one of you. I know I say that a lot. It’s nothing personal. I say it all the time. But it’s because I simply do not care about anything but getting the job done.
Xander, I applaud you. You’ve persevered through more hardship than most, and Zach, you persevered through the death of your father, walked into the company that made him famous and immediately took up his mantle of losing pretty much every match. The two of you have had about twenty matches in HOW this year, and you’ve got what… two wins between you?
I know this is gonna come off as blatant disrespect, and I don’t really want to disrespect the two of you. I really do admire your spirit, showing up week after week, taking beating after beating.
Zach, you look like your dad minus everything that made your dad dangerous and terrifying as fuck. That dude didn’t win much, but he did fucking damage. He was a tough motherfucker. You? Sorry, kid. I just can’t say the same about you. There’s no aura of danger, no feeling that at any moment you might get a shot in and knock somebody the fuck out. You’re Kostoff Light, and this is gonna go really, really badly for you.
And Xander? You look like Steve Solex from an alternate reality where Steve Solex plays dress up with druids and acts like a bitch. We’ve had some fun in that ring before, Xander. You almost kinda sorta made it look like you could possibly maybe beat me for the HOTv title once upon a time, but it was just a fleeting possibility, man. This week, you don’t even have that. You don’t have a chance in hell of coming out of this unscathed.
And the sad thing is, we don’t even have orders to take you two out. It’s all about the champ, and you two are just here for the very very unfortunate ride. You’re collateral damage in the making. That’s all. You two… you don’t… even… matter.
But here’s what does matter, gentlemen.
What matters is setting the stage for GOD’s House, and that is a task we will complete, no matter what any of you have to say about it.
If you haven’t learned it yet, you need to learn it right away.
Nobody fights GOD and lives to tell about it.
”To be heroic is to be courageous enough to die for something; to be inspirational is to be crazy enough to live a little.”
– Criss Jami
Before Chaos 44
Craig Massey holds out an envelope. Dan Ryan stands up from his desk, takes it and looks down at it.
Craig nods. “Instructions from the boss.”
Dan opens the envelope and pulls a note out from inside. He smiles.
“Yep. And then some.”
Dan strategically holds his hand over the top half of the note, but turns it around so that Craig can see the lower portion.
“If I beat Rhys Townsend at GOD’s House, I get another shot at the World Championship.”
Craig looks down at the words, then back up at the big Texan.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, man. Rhys Townsend is one tough son of a bitch.”
Dan shrugs. “Yes, yes he is. But it’s also pretty easy to get under his skin, and that’s something I’ve already done. I feel more like myself again lately, Craig. The losses these last two weeks? That would have destroyed me a few years ago. But I see the big picture now.”
Craig smirks. “Are you saying this is all part of your strategy?”
“Yes,” Dan says, straight-faced. “It is always all part of my strategy. I don’t just wander through life blowing around. Everything has a purpose, everyone has a purpose. Not every individual step along the way works out the way it’s supposed to sometimes. Sometimes people fuck up, or they just fail, and they have to be dealt with. But the plan remains in place. We keep fighting, we keep moving forward. Until – – -”
“Until you die,” Craig interjects. “I know. That’s what everyone who gives a damn about you is afraid of.”
“Good,” Dan frowns. “Let them be afraid. I don’t have time for it. I don’t have time for failure and I don’t have time for anyone who doesn’t go along with the plan.”
Craig holds both hands up. “Calm down, I’m not saying anything. Besides…” Craig puffs his chest out. “That shit you pulled with Phyllis won’t work on me. I know better.”
Dan chuckles slightly, then rolls his eyes and turns around, heading to a chair behind his desk.
“You’re the one who needs to calm the fuck down, Craig.” Dan turns around and leans forward, both hands on the top of the desk, and stares his associate down. “Don’t start saying stupid shit like I won’t hit you so hard, it knocks the rest of that hair on your head white. Don’t worry, I won’t do to you what I did to Phyllis. I would never beat the shit out of Phyllis.”
Craig stares at him and they hold a mutual serious look, and then, suddenly, Craig laughs, and Dan smirks.
“Nice, man… I like it. That’s the old Dan I remember. It’s nice to see you starting to remember who you are, too.”
Dan looks at him, feeling nothing.
“Thanks, Craig. Your vote of confidence means the world to me.”
They hold another stare, but this time Craig’s smile slowly fades away, replaced by a realization of the falseness, the emptiness of the platitude.
“Um… I uh… have somewhere to be in a few hours, so I had better get moving.”
Dan says nothing.
“I’ll call you later when I’m finished and we can maybe go over plans for this weekend.”
Craig waits for a response, but there isn’t one. Finally he turns and hastily makes his exit. Dan watches him go, staring a hole in the back of his head and then, upon his leaving, staring a hole in the wooden door.
His thoughts drift, his head tilted forward slightly, and he peers up to the top of the door and then back down again.