EVERYTHING LASTS FOREVER – 2
High Octane Asylum
I have been through this corridor many times. I walk through its dark lit hallway as the lights flicker. Always flicker. The mood is solemn but there’s an intensity building at a slow pace with each forward movement I make. After I pass through the triple pad locked doors and the security pat down, I’m left inside what has to be best explained as a living, breathing dwell. Prison cells to my right. This whole world is nothing like the homemade dungeon I built in the basement of the DLC. Instead, these cells mean business. Enclosed two-way glass, with a metal door. Three padlocks per door. In the most extreme cases, four or five padlocks. Security is taken seriously, some of these men have killed before. I’m sure they’d do it again, if given the chance.
Tap, tap, tap. I hear my sneakers pressing against the cement. This asylum has been built into a cave well below the surface, as most of the surroundings are not self-constructed. I feel as if I’m walking down the hallway to find Hannibal Lecter waiting at the end, where he roams freely inside his prison, managing a deprived and secluded life. He will never see the sun again, freedom is fictitious. He cannot undo the harm he caused and he is to be punished for eternity.
In many ways, this High Octane Asylum owns my Rogues Gallery. Others who did me wrong, who deserved to be strapped of their freedoms and housed inside this personal hell for the rest of their eternity, too.
As I pass by each unit, some of the men and women from inside these cells want to capture my attention further… but I am not here for them. I will not get sucked into another game. For I only have one campaign to play, I am not a multitasker when it comes to wrestling.
Tap, tap, tap. My sneakers continue to lead the way. There are 16-bit renderings of each inmate underneath their nameplates. Sometimes I forget the order in which the prisoners reside, so I take a quick look at their entrance doors before walking past their windows. If I feel the need to converse further I would.
I do not.
I pass the angry cowboy, the milk man and the powerlifter. I know the one I’m searching for is at the end of the hall, in the chamber that often holds my most important target.
Tap, tap, tap. I thank the security guard who leads me to the bitter end. He nods and simply walks away, but not too far, just in case anything goes haywire.
There’s a time and a place for battle.
This is the time and the place for words.
I don’t approach the glass. I don’t want him to know I’m here until I reveal myself appropriately. I walk to his dungeon door, kneel down and run my hands across his name plate.
It’s my new best friend and also my ultimate enemy.
I can feel a sense of patriotism oozing from inside. Pride. Honour. And then some. Unlike the others, his door has been painted. It is not the bare bones of metal and stone you see before the others. No. He receives a special treatment.
The handle is a bald eagle and it’s padlocked more than five times. Concern runs deep within the HOA. Do they fear he will break out and get to me otherwise?
Or will I break in and get to him?
I clear my throat and collect myself further. I approach the open, two-way glass but with the dim lighting, those non stop flickering lights I had mentioned before… it’s always tough to peer inside.
Is he in there? I’m told nobody has broken out of the HOA and there’s no free time given elsewhere. I assume he’s inside and he can hear me.
They never respond, though.
…It is my dream after all.
I glance inside the window. I see the American flag in the right hand corner, hanging above his bed. I eye various awards he’s achieved on a shelving unit. There’s another bald eagle structure, this in the form of a large, ominous statue, perched upon his front entrance.
There are emblems and cities of American architecture etched into the stone wall. The Statue of Liberty. The Liberty Bell. The Grand Canyon. ETC.
Past the patriotisms and superiority complex, countless wrestling notebooks are scattered around. Strategies. This is a man who takes his sport… his career very seriously. There’s no room for error, only excellence. I saw this firsthand when he refused to employ his finisher against Brian Hollywood, deeming it temporarily unfit for combat. Perhaps punishing himself for a previous match, he took an alternative route and, as a result, a much more impactful direction when he locked Hollywood into his Enhanced Interrogation Technique.
For now… I’ll be doing the interrogation.
Eventually, my eyes fall upon it. The World Championship, #97, resting on the other side of the glass, right at the soles of my feet.
It’s a message. He knew I was coming and he was sure to greet me accordingly.
I like this fair and honest play.
“It’s good to have you here,” I begin, solemnly at first. Blending into my surroundings is something I do rather well. There is no hate in my voice, I am cautious of the words I choose. No massive ramble, I’m keeping my ADHD on the straight and narrow. There’s no need to scream or push my weight around. I’ve come here to talk. It’s the time to talk…
“Amazing décor. Love what you’re doing,” I state, gazing into the faded two-way glass. I do my best to try finding every corner. “The last guy who lived in this apartment didn’t last long.”
I moan. It’s an uncomfortable position for me. This is the penthouse suite, the prime real estate. The end of the hall is where you want to be. Too many wrestlers have come in and out of this location.
“Who am I kidding, they all never last long. So I’ve started to wonder… is it me?”
I’m not sure how to answer this in a one-way conversation but as emphasized, I place pressure on the man who resides at the end of the Asylum. He’s supposed to be my greatest threat…
Sadly, it always falls short.
“I guess we will formally meet on Sunday,” I say with a chuckle, trying to lift my spirits. “It’s been a lot of fun watching you from a distance.”
Usually I can motor on with my words at a rapid pace. In this specific scenario, I’m finding that harder to do.
I wonder why.
“I’ve cheered you for the past year, did you know this? Hoping you would continue your incredible championship reign.” No lies, I can be as open and honest as possible in this dream. I’m not appeasing the man, this is the truth. Screw Solex and Harrison. Forget the disgruntled cowboy. They’re a joke who couldn’t measure up to the lone video game wolf.
“I hope, in some ways, you’ve cheered me, too…”
Again, I laugh. This time uncomfortably.
“I can’t believe I wasn’t impressed with you.” I said this to America in June of 2022. It was my initial comment to Christopher before I walked into WarGames. It was an off-the-cuff remark, I had so much shit going on at the time. I had a million people after me.
Even my own fucking teammates.
And a Hall of Famer I retired six months earlier lurked in the shadows.
Imagine the pressure.
FULL STOP. I digress. My concerns revolve around the individual on the other side of this glass.
I have wanted this forever.
“Fuck you, prick. You see patriotism, I see arrogance.” I step back with a smirk on my face. “Just kidding; we’re neighbours. Christ, 99% of my career is spent making a living in America. Pretty sure I’m good.”
The ice breakers are through, the small talk is over. Wherever the entity of this man resides across the tainted window, I’m here to discuss business.
It’s going to pick up.
“I saw the Spiderman comment. It’s like you get me because I’m more than video games, ya know. I dabble in comic books, too.”
I look around the facility my subconscious has constructed, this High Octane Arkham.
I walk directly to the glass. Mere millimeters away, my face can feel the intensity from within his dwell.
“You need to win, I need to win. I’d expect nothing more.”
I have so much to say… but pressure weighs down my shoulders to say it. Therefore, it is difficult for me to find the appropriate wording.
“I want you to know I greatly respect you. I don’t even mind…” I begin, motioning towards the world title. “How you won that off me.”
I don’t mind. I’d have done it. Christ, I did it when Jatt, Mario and Jace helped me stop Arthur from interfering and the three of them powerbombed Jeffrey James Roberts. I simply draped an arm over JJR’s chest.
For a while there, I thought Roberts could be in this penthouse prison. He’s initially the one I’d be speaking to at the end of the hall. But then again I thought SRK would occupy the unit for years. Mike Best. Stronk Godson.
“It’s you.” I say sternly. I am certain of it. “America!”
I close my eyes, tilt my head back and let the pressure of our upcoming battle consume me.
There’s so much to say but at this moment in time, I want to live in the present. Inside my own head. The HOA. The structure that holds my rivals within.
I can feel the seriousness mount.
“You can’t sleep at night, huh?” I mention with a sarcastic chuckle. “It’s obvious I’m sleeping well. A deep slumber of a fake asylum, hehe. And yet both our dispositions mean the same thing, don’t they?”
We are on a collision course. At this time, there’s no further need for me to talk about it. I want to stand here, across from the man who has the World Championship, the man I’ve spent an entire calendar year chasing.
It’s he who unlocks the next steps in my career.
In more ways than one.
— — — — —
When I first entered High Octane, I was captivated immediately. I watched Mike Best battle Max Kael across numerous events and it didn’t take me long to become envious. They have secured the entire organization’s attention, from fans to talent, management to sponsors. Most importantly, they had secured each other’s attention, the most vital part of the puzzle. A prolonged war, with neither individual backing down, nor ever contemplating the notion. Their feud sprawled across pay-per-views and television. Yes, it was for the High Octane World Championship but it was beyond a mere accolade. They were friends, yet enemies, each man sworn to be the one who stands over the other. From the second I stepped foot into HOW, I looked high up the card from my level 1 floor and I said to myself…
Someday, that’s gonna be me.
I’m a two-time World Champion. WarGames survivor. Tournament victor. They say I’m on the Hall of Fame path.
But if my career was to end today, I’d feel like a failure, Christopher. No fault of my own.
See, I have never experienced the battle of Mike and Max.
I’ve tried. I promise you, it is not without my effort. I had hoped it was going to be against Max’s son, Sutler. My desire to dance at the top of the charts with this gasbagging brat was a potential long term reality. We were similar, yet different. We hated each other and still I could see our friendship growing into something special.
…Then I nearly murdered him in cold blood and he ran away, never to be seen again.
My next hope was in the form of the SON of GOD himself. But it was clear his career was winding down.
Finally, I laid eyes upon a large, powerful, pea-brained idiot… with the chance to give me a serious run for my physical well being.
I stomped a 50 pound weight through his chest. Nearly killed him.
Your 2022 return didn’t go unnoticed. It’s hard not to watch a Hall of Famer rejoin the company and align himself with The Board. My dreams of finding this fight forever future could be real again. I, the current World Champion and you, the very best from a previous era.
Then you pinned me… and the opportunity was there for the taking.
Thank you GOD.
It wasn’t without work, though. By no means did I deserve a championship title match after the WarGames team I put together. Nor physically was I going to be able to challenge anytime soon.
Instead, I’d work. Rebuild. Reestablish my rights to the top of the level. Watching you. Cheering for you. Knowing if I held up my end of the bargain, I’d see you again and I would not let go.
Here we are, March to Glory. An opportunity to actually start something, not finish.
The reality is I do need to beat you for the title in order to accomplish the first step. Because otherwise you would have won and nothing will go on. Nor should it. You’d be granted approval to look elsewhere for an opponent…
So I cannot accept this.
I am your opponent, Christopher. I will take your championship away and then our relationship will grow into something more sinister.
This is why I play the game… why I came back to High Octane and didn’t leave after I initially lost to you. I hope this is a key reason why you returned, as well.
As you may know, Max and Mike fought to the death, where one of them killed the other. Am I asking for our relationship to go this far?
I’m at a stage in my career where you tell me.
I’ve had some very good rivalries here, don’t get me wrong. Jatt Starr comes to mind. But Jatt and I are from different worlds. He is a mentor. While he has been an enemy, he’s also helped me reach the top. I could never do harm to him like I would want to do to you. And while you are an accomplished legend yourself I’m here to tell you that when you walked back through those HOW doors a year ago…
You walked into my fucking game.
I’m the guy.
I’m the Mike Best and Max Kael now. I’m the measuring stick, the wrestler who they all want to step over. I am the poster boy, the company man, the one who shuts the fuck up and does whatever he’s suppose to for the right of the High Octane flag. To wave high, to wave strong. To tell other promotions who think they are in the same sentence as this company…
They ain’t anywhere fucking close.
I led the charge; I was the hero. I didn’t need to staple my country to my name and yet they knew where I’m from. They knew what got my blood to boil and what kept me up at night.
I gave everything to HOW. Still do. They could love me or hate me… they could call me The Video Game Kid… say I’m a joke… or ignore me altogether. They could point at my fondness for computer technology or dream sequences…
But they would never be able to stop me otherwise.
Even THE SON himself. He held me down, yes. He knocked me out, sure. And yet I still recovered, definitely. I leveled up and blew past all of them in the ICONIC ‘21 tournament.
Others will continue to deny me my right. Let them. They’ll laugh at how I’ve befriended Bobbinette and I’ll tell them, in response, it’s none of their fucking business.
Because when motivated, when pushed to the edge, I always show.
Let them talk, if they do. Behind my back or in front of me, it doesn’t matter. I know who I am. I have grown a confidence in myself to understand no matter the obstacles, no matter the path… I will prevail. I will succeed.
But as I’ve come to learn, Chris, winning isn’t everything. Over the past year it has left me empty. Alone. Sad.
I need more.
And I am dead fucking serious.
So when I say the World Championship is not my main focus right now, it’s true. It isn’t. But it has to come with me, Chris.
It has to.
This needs to be chapter one of our story.
I will stay with High Octane until the bitter fucking end. Until Lee Best gets punted in the head, his brother takes over or the promotion is awarded to Darin Zion.
I don’t give a fuck if one of Dan Ryan’s daughters emerges as the leader.
I am here.
And I am now.
I am also the future.
#97 is coming with VCF.
I will keep you up at night and I damn well better. You are exactly the wrestler I need in my career.
You demand excellence of yourself.
So do I.
I demand the absolute BEST effort of Conor Fuse every single match. That’s why I haven’t been pinned since YOU pinned me and since Mike pinned me before it. I don’t get pinned in non-championship matches against B-list talent. A win over Conor Fuse is hard to find and that’s due to the fact I require NO DAYS OFF. Nothing mailed in. I will go until the night is through. I will treat an opening bout as if my life is on the line.
I play for the game. The moment. The war.
I have left every single opponent who questions my abilities behind. Lost. Drifting in nothingness.
Yes, I have a controller in my hands and yes, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
But I am so much more than a player, Christopher.
So… fight once, twice… fight to the death? I’m chomping at the 8-bits.
I locked myself in a prison for you. I have put myself through torture for you. I have stepped away from everything else I was going to do here… for you.
Christopher America provides the greatest opportunity of them all. A rivalry I can sink my teeth into. A grudge where we’re just getting started.
And now I ask you to join me. Clearly, I know you will.
Center of the ring; middle of the canvas. Bash my fucking head in, bro! Put me through your interrogations. I will go to any lengths necessary. I’ll do whatever you ask.
Because I am your Max. And you are my Mike.
We are the focus of High Octane Wrestling. The best it has to offer.
I promise you… I swear to you… I will give you every last ounce, every bit of passion in my soul. I’ll bleed for you. Die for you? I will definitely destroy you… and you’ll try to destroy me. It’s only fair.
So let it be known that on March 12th, 2023, all bets are off. Anything goes. Conor Fuse vs. Christopher America, for the HOW World Championship.
I have longed for this moment. May the feud start off with a fire and rage unforeseen in years.
May Conor Fuse stand over you and prove he’s the best wrestler in this business. And you, my greatest adversary.
A March to Glory.
A road to war.
A rivalry unparalleled.
I hope to inspire the next generation to walk through these doors. How he, or she, can glance up to the ceiling of the last level, witnessing Conor Fuse and Christopher America wrestle to the bitter end.
There’s no other way to view it. No turning back.
Let me take your greatest prize.
And let us do this forever.