Conor, Conor, Conor.
It was always going to come to this. You were always going to be my final target because if nothing has taught us this past few months, it’s that when we let others make decisions for us, it never ends well for either of us.
War Games, for me, is personal; because you stabbed me in the back. You pushed me off the cliff. You drowned me, sacrificed me, so you could ‘level up’. You thought it was what you needed to push yourself over the edge, but in the end, you lost so much more than I could’ve ever lost. I lost the biggest match of my life; you lost your soul.
It doesn’t absolve you of what you’ve done, Conor. It doesn’t negate that you stole potentially the most significant moment of my professional career. Still, it’s an excellent aperitif to the fury I will unleash upon you at War Games. You see, Conor, you’ve earned everything coming to you in Ukraine and then some. I won’t be able to deliver every blow that comes the way of your pretty baby face. I won’t be able to ensure I’m the one who slams your body multiple times into the mat or the floor. It’s just not feasibly possible.
Keep questioning my effort, though. Because my effort will be what decides your fate when it is all said and done.
* * *
We have a long way to go, though, before that comes, Conor. I must confess to you something, though. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the road not taken. My father, you see, left behind a compass for me, and on the back of it is a poem that I can’t seem to shake out of my mind. You know the one, don’t you, Conor?
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
I’ve long found myself at multiple paths and decision points that I couldn’t decide which road to go down, to push myself further down a path that held nothing but murky endings and confusing beats. In recent nights, I’ve had dreams, pleasant dreams, that make me believe I’ve made the wrong decision time and time again.
* * *
The first one is with my daughter, Lorelai. You may have seen her hanging around backstage, Conor. I still have nightmares from time to time of the memory of her mother, Philadelphia, ripping her away from me and withholding her from me. For over a decade, I had to hold onto the hurt, and I’ve wondered time and time again why I decided the best option was alcohol and drugs instead of fighting for the most critical person in my world.
That pregnancy, Lorelai’s birth, tore apart my relationship with Mary-Lynn. It was difficult for her to wrap her head around her partner also being a father with an ex-girlfriend, during the time we were trying to get our relationship off the ground. I’d already sacrificed so much for my daughter, so why didn’t I push myself to get her back into my life, to figure out how to have co-custody with her. It’s a decision that haunts me to this very day, and I have no good explanation for the path I chose that day, to leave her with her mother.
Sure, she is back with me now, but I can’t help but think about all of the memories I’ve lost along the way, like coins that slipped out of a torn pant pocket, but these coins are far more valuable, and losing them means a part of my soul taken along with them.
Disappointment doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about myself when I think about the path I didn’t walk down. They say you are your worst enemy, but they have no idea how true that is.
* * *
I think about how I walked out of place after place simply because I felt myself reaching a point I couldn’t confront, raising my game to be an elite wrestler and a champion truly. It’s another dream I’ve had lately of what would’ve happened had I not left PRIME, abandoned Mary-Lynn when we were trying out our relationship again, and captured the various championships that I knew were in my grasp. Could I have been Conor Fuse of a previous generation? Would my name be whispered in the same breath as a Lindsay Troy or Dan Ryan? Would I have been able to craft a hall of fame career in PRIME, DEFIANCE, and HOW, been more like you?
If I hadn’t been scared of success, Conor, would my self-destructive tendencies vanish over time instead of self-doubt? Filled with enough confidence to earn what I knew to lay before me? Because, Conor, I was scared. I was afraid of being in the spotlight and being praised for something. Maybe that stretches back to not wanting to be in the spotlight because my father would tear me down and destroy every ounce of confidence that my psyche could no longer handle.
The reality is that I could have reached loftier heights than I’ve reached thus far. I think you know that. I think you see that inside of me. Part of me thinks the betrayal hurts so much because you believed in me, wanted the best for me, and pushed me to be the best version of myself. You refused to let your shortcomings slow us down; instead, we figured out how to let our strengths cover each other’s weaknesses. Isn’t that what a team is supposed to do? To ensure that we paper over the other person’s weakness and ensure we’re a unit that can fight against anything that comes our way?
I know I could’ve been a world champion somewhere, anywhere, at this point in my career. It’s not my talent that holds me back but my fear. To think I’ve walked this path as long as I have and for… what? Sure, I have more money than I can imagine, and I can provide for my family several times. I wrestle because this is the one thing in my world that I’m good at. Because there is a sense of peace that comes with stepping into the squared circle that I can’t seem to get anywhere else.
When the moment came for my biggest match, though, Conor, I rose to the challenge. That’s why you did what you had to do. Because you realized that I could win the match and take your title, and you couldn’t have that, could you? Because the reality of being second fiddle to me was too much for your fragile ego to bear, wasn’t it? The realization of being taken down by what everyone perceived as the lesser of your equal wasn’t something your conscience could handle?
Don’t worry, Conor, I’ll come back to that match. I, unfortunately, won’t be able to take another stroll down the road I should have chosen two decades ago not to shy away from what destiny had in store for me.
* * *
I know you’re dying to know about the third path not taken, Conor.
The path that haunts me at night because it was indeed in my grasp. I still had work to do to be a world champion in every continent, save Antarctica. That was something, though, within my grasp.
I would have had to wage war to have custody of my daughter. At the time, though, I made more than enough money to hire the best lawyers and ensure I received at least partial custody of her, to hold onto those memories that my fingertips could grab and hold onto.
The third path, though, Conor, is one that I have no one to blame but myself. The reality is, I could have two more kids, a marriage, something that filled every crevice and corner of my very being; a life with Mary-Lynn. I remember walking out in New Orleans, and it haunts me to this very day. Because while there are thousands of championships out there for us to chase, there is only one love that is genuinely worth pursuing.
I could have the entire world, Conor, and I have nothing. Because I would rather live in my fear and cowardice instead of being the man I don’t know I’m capable of being. Yet, striving for that would be significantly better than the prison of hell in which I live. Because, Conor, I have nothing. I have no championships. I have no partner that is truly my equal.
Instead, I have my consuming hate of you. There is no easy way out, Conor. Not for me. Do you think you can do the worst to me? I’ve already done the worst to myself, buddy.
This third path it’s the one that I regret every single day, and I know no matter how many championships I earn in my career, no matter if I manage to reach my full potential, it will all hold a pale candle to the life I could’ve lived had I not retreated.
* * *
Conor, I wish you could’ve just been honest with me. I wish you had picked up the phone and told me, ‘Hey buddy, look, no hard feelings, but I’m going a different direction for War Games’. Instead, all I got were some texts after the fact that told me ’Hey buddy, look, if you would’ve been there when I picked again, I would’ve picked you.
Look at your team. You have Lee Best wanting to obliterate you until nothing is left. You think you’re walking into a team match when in reality, it’s everyone versus you. The one person in HOW that had no desire for your title was me. Point blank and simple. Did I want to be HOW World Champion one day? Of course. Did I want to hold onto 97red and face all comers for it? Definitely, yet, I would not do it at your expense.
Because you were my boy.
Wouldn’t it be great right now to not have to worry about someone on your team stabbing you in the back to ensure they walk out the HOW World Champion? Because let me tell you, that strategy of yours, that shit looks exactly like Russia regretting invading Ukraine. I bet Putin, and you could share strategies and commiserate with one another.
Then he would KGB you, and we’d never hear from you again.
Let’s look at your team, Conor. Have you looked at your team, Conor?
And the winner of Steve Harrison and Bobinette Carey.
Do you feel great about walking in with this team? Fuck, let Harrison and Carey both in this match. Sure, we’ve got Scott Stevens instead of JJR, but tell me which team you would feel better about walking into War Games with?
Because if you were with Lee Best and Michael Lee Best, they have their priorities in order and know-how to ensure they protect their best interests and keep people in line.
Look at yourself in the mirror, Conor, and realize that you are fucked. I don’t care what kind of performance you manage to put together, Conor, because having to carry the likes of everyone on that team will break your back. The only person you can trust on that team is a man who puts honor before all else, Steve Solex.
Your conciliatory texts did fuck all except piss me off. Because the writing was already on the wall. You put championships above respect. And how did that work out for you? Sure, you will have the LSD Championship and Tag Team Championships in your back pocket, but your LSD Champion will be a fucking wreck when the rest of War Games takes place.
Your Tag Team champions? The very definition of paper champions. The value of those titles took a fucking dive after the March to Glory PPV match.
So you’re left all by yourself, Conor.
The irony is so fucking rich that it’s inflation-proof.
* * *
Let’s talk about the match, Conor.
You know what match I’m talking about. Our match.
Do you know how many times I’ve played that back and watched it, Conor?
I don’t need to watch it, Conor. I can play that shit verbatim in my mind. I can’t begin to describe how I felt at the onset of that match when I hit the German Suplex and followed that up with the Northern Lights Suplex. The Tope Suicida through the ropes and sending your body crashing onto the cold hard floor. Busting your head open after sending you into the ring post. The Shooting Star Press. The spear where I could feel your ribs on the verge of giving out.
Then you knocked out Boettcher. And decided the only way you could beat me was to cheat your way to victory.
You took the biggest match of my career and made a mockery of it.
I gave you EVERYTHING I had, and you knew you couldn’t beat me. Not fair and square. So you decided that winning was worth more than any respect you EVER had for me, you FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!
Talk to the officials after that match, and they’ll tell you I DESTROYED the fucking backstage area looking for your worthless self.
You ran scared Conor, and then weeks later, try to play it off. Ask me to come back into the fold.
Conor, I’m not sure if it’s crystal clear yet my feelings on that.
I learned something that night, Conor. I probably should have known it all along since I entered HOW. That no matter how good you are in this place, it won’t matter because unless you are willing to slice the head off your opponent, you will not survive in this place.
HOW is not about winning. It is simply about surviving, embracing the darkest version of yourself, and unleashing its fury upon everyone in your path.
You tried to hold off for as long as possible, but you ultimately succumbed to it because that title meant more to you than your principles, your friendships, and the core of you.
In your eyes, though, Conor, it’s okay because I have to pay for my sins. Who the fuck are you to decide what my sins are? You act like me not immediately signing my contract is some unforgivable sin, you hypocritical piece of shit. You took it upon yourself to be judge, jury, and executioner.
There will be nowhere for you to hide in Kyiv. I will do everything to be there, waiting for you, on night two. And I will come for my pound of flesh. There are no rules of engagement when it comes to you. Everything is on the table, and I will reduce you until you no longer recognize yourself.
Let me let you in on a little secret, Conor, then I’ll walk away and let you wait, minute by minute, until the start of War Games.
I promise you this; I will do everything to be the reason you lose the HOW World Championship. I will do everything in my power to ensure you do not walk back into HOW with your head held high.
And I promise you this, Conor. I will give every ounce of myself, pour everything I have into doing what I can to walk out of War Games the winner, holding your HOW World Championship.
Then on, Refueled 100, I will set it on fire and watch your legacy burn to the very ground. It would be a fitting end to the Refueled era, wouldn’t it? One of the most decorated wrestlers of those 100 shows, one of the shining champions of that era, to watch it all burn away at the hands of the man that you stabbed in the back.
I think it would be fitting, how about you?
Then, I will walk into the backstage area, and I will find you. I will drag you out into the middle of that fucking ring.
And make you lace my sneakers.
Then, you will indeed have hit the end credits.