To answer a question no one is asking…
Why did I, “The Vintage” Conor Fuse, join Grapplers Local 214? Why did I associate myself with HOW’s Origami Queen, Zeb Martin and Teddy Palmer?
As High Octane leaves Chicago to travel around the U.S., with a final destination to culminate at the Tokyo Dome, I’m reminded of a very important saying.
It’s dangerous to go alone.
So why did Conor Fuse join Grapplers Local 214?
A better question might be, well why the hell wouldn’t I?
March 14th, 2021
After Match vs. High Flyer, Streets of NYC
This was supposed to change everything.
I don’t need to give you the rundown. I’ve been aimlessly walking around NYC for the past three hours. Yeah, I checked out pretty early after I jammed that chair down High Flyer’s throat. Punk-ass bitch, don’t mess with me again.
If you’ve followed my journey in HOW it’s had some ups and downs. A lost life here, a defeated Boss there. I’ve faced a lot of old men, too. Seems to be my calling. Jatt, Scottywood, Flyer. I guess that’s why they call me The Vintage. I just need to get that old man smell outta my nose, it’s driving me batshit. Old people suck.
Yadda yadda, I beat High Flyer. I took his place and now I’m the high flyer of High Octane Wrestling.
So why does it feel like I’ve lost?
For a solid month, I plotted against my false hero. I took my tape trading collection and I destroyed them one-by-one over Flyer’s skull. I tried to reboot The Lunatic, too. Give him a fresh coat of paint but he didn’t bite. Then I roamed around the streets of New York City channeling the art of instability in order to become him.
March to Glory was my coming out party. I had everything on the line.
Lose to High Flyer and look like a fool. Defeat him and begin my true journey.
“What journey?” Hands in my pockets, head down, I’ve bumped into the odd person here and there but I don’t bother saying anything. This is the city that never sleeps, anyway. My match was on early and I hadn’t paid attention to anything else. Don’t care, doesn’t matter.
This would be the attitude I likely would’ve taken if I lost. I was so invested about winning in MSG… and yet, I was outta there so fast, I couldn’t tell you who was on after. Did Dan Ryan ascend to the shit-talking championship? What about Bobby Dean getting his chance to lay out Steve Harrison? Did Lindsay Troy go back to the kitchen after she punked Steve Solex? Did Scottywood actually referee the street fight or was he beating himself off inside the New York Rangers locker room? I’m sure he had access.
Ah, yes, dear gamer… the questions I don’t have answers to right now.
I’ve decided to make my way to Times Square. I was here earlier in the week, freaking out on random people for shits and giggles. I was being a “Lunatic” like Jack Harmen. I thought my plan was pretty clever, to be honest. Then after I defeated Jack, like I just did, I’d already have a two-week head start on replacing him in mind and spirit.
I’m sitting in the exact same location when I first landed in NYC and hatched this plan. But I’m no longer excited or hopeful even though I achieved exactly what I set out for.
I could analyze this forever and get no answers. As a result, I figure it might be fun to brighten my spirits and start answering my own March to Glory questions.
“No idea if Dan Ryan wins but I don’t wanna get in his way…”
“Bobby Dean is still fat, right?” That’s a joke, Bobby! I know, dude, I know. You’ve lost weight. “Naaa, I hope he dummies Harrison.”
“LT better cave Solex’s skull in. That guy’s so cringe. Gender norms. Way to go, bud. The Mom of HOW is gonna roll up in her minivan and show you who’s Boss!”
As for the street fight?
“I really like that Teddy Palmer fellow. Zeb, too. It’d be cool if either one of them got the victory.”
I wrestled Zeb in one of my first contests. Honestly, can’t recall who won, that’s what I think of the guy. It was a good match, very close. He’s super underrated.
“Ted or Zeb. Then go beat Jatt Moto. F Jatt Moto.” I shrug, trying not to get my hopes up. What I didn’t realize until now…
…is both of my hands have tightened into fists.
I’m shaking with anger.
“Wow…” I state out loud, “I must really hate some of these guys.”
But who am I kidding? As the self-appointed referee, I bet Scottywood finds a way to crown himself the #1 contender to the LSD title. Unless he really is twisting a batch off inside the NYR locker room. Nothing surprises me in HOW.
… … …
April 8, 2021
Grapplers Loco 360 Retreat – St. Louis, MO
So as you know, at this point I’ve joined the co-op of Grapplers Loco 360. I’ll likely piece together more of what brought me there later on. For now, LT’s texted directions to our AirBnB. Teaming together and traveling together. From this date forward, we’ll truly be a cooperative force. I’ve taken a taxi from the airport to downtown St. Louis. The loft we’re staying at is near the city museum. Seems like a pretty neat spot as I exit the taxi, tip the driver and wonder why I didn’t take an uber instead. They’re all the rage these days.
On the outside, it’s a red brick building, twelve stories high. Got some of those vintage vibes running through it. HOW Mom knows her shit. Of course, she sent pictures to all of us by group text (I invited them into my gaming discord, too but no one has bit just yet). I didn’t look at the interior pics, though. I’ll wait to see them in person. I like surprises. I do, however, hope she hooks us up with bunk beds. I don’t care who my roommate is, I just want bunk beds.
Anyway, up the stairs, etc etc etc and to the PENTHOUSE suite. Lindsay said she left me a key under the WELCOME mat. I was the last one to arrive because I had some other business to take care of (you’ll find out another time). Once inside, the suite is killer! It’s like a studio transformed into a living quarters. Cement walls, nice touch. High roof, also nice. Big, wide open space. Pool table to my right and a couple of couches and chairs surrounding a widescreen television to my left. I saunter over to the TV and place my duffle bag beside it. I like to travel light; only the necessities for this gamer.
Checking out the TV, I wonder if it’s compatible for what I need.
Opening my bag, I take out a mini VCR player and a handful of VHS tapes. Yeah, the High Flyer tape trading game may be DOA but other collections are a GO.
If you’re checking out the label on the tapes, yep, you’re reading them right. It either says “STEVE SOLAX” or “CLAY BYRD”. Yes, I know, it’s Steve Solex but I’m refusing to give that moron the time of day to fix it. Lucky, I got Clay’s name right.
VCR hook-up works. Zeb, one of my newfound friends, is welcome to join me in analyzing film.
Next, I pull out two miniature plastic goombas from my bag and place them on the TV stand. If you’re looking at this and wondering why I taped a mini mustache to one of the goombas… well, clearly, that guy is playing the part of Steve Solex. And yep, I put a cute little cowboy hat on the other goomba. He’s Clay. Have fun on your new ranch, my plastic pal.
Is it silly to pack this kinda stuff? Maybe. But this serves as a consistent reminder: The Best Alliance aren’t going to put their Bosses out first. No Jatt. No Sektor. Hell, Zeb and I are not even getting a mini boss like Harrison.
We get JAGs. Don’t know what JAG stands for? I heard the terminology when my brother was playing fantasy football a few years ago.
J.A.G. – Just Another Guy.
It’s not an endearing term. I find my own way to say it.
J.A.G. – Just Another Goomba.
Because Clay, until you can prove yourself over the long run on the big stage, that’s what you are.
And Solex, LOL, guy isn’t worth my breath.
With the VCR player all set up, my commemorative goombas beside it and my tapes all laid out in order, I know what I’ll be doing for the next two days. Now, I just need to find my room, unpack the rest of my stuff and then meet up with my team.
My new team. Pretty awesome.
There are three bedrooms but the one on the far left, I’m told, was mine. As I walk into the room, my jaw hits the floor (figuratively; I’m okay).
I toss my purple duffle bag on the top bunk, take three steps back and smile.
That bitch knows me well already.
… … …
April 9, 2021
Start Bar – St. Louis, MO
I hold up a note in front of the LOUD building I’m standing in front of.
“Conor, meet up @ Start Bar, 1000 Spruce Street. -Zeb.”
That’s not exactly how the note reads. Zeb’s handwriting and sentence structure leaves a lot to be desired but I get the drift. I’m just… a little skeptical. Bars aren’t my scene. I prefer chocolate milk to alcohol, 8-bit music to electronic and a cool worn in pair of track pants + tee to a popped collar shirt and a wardrobe that cost me more than my PS5 console any day of the week.
Regardless, I’m willing to give it a try.
Upon arrival, the “bouncer” didn’t check my ID. That’s because there was none. Weird.
I open the big purple doors… and my jaw not only drops to the floor for a second time today but I can feel my eyes bugging out and go wiiiiide AF.
Another dude who gets me.
It’s an arcade bar!
“Hey bo.” I’m greeted by my upcoming tag partner, Zeb Martin. “Figg’rd we needed tuh get some bondin’ time in. Whutchu thank?”
“Shit, Zeb.” I say, continuing to look around in amazement. “This is a siiick place you picked. I love it!”
I put my arms on his shoulders and shake him good. Honestly, not sure why I did that. Guess I’m pumped.
“You got me that Bass Fishing game, now brought me here! I know we have some work to do, getting to know each other, getting ready for Solex and Clay. Bracing ourselves for whatever The Best Alliance brings… but this is an unreal start, dude. The START Bar! I should’ve known! I thought it was like the ‘start to get you drunk bar’! Haha. We’re gonna be awesome friends!”
“Hope so, man. Glad ya decided tuh come on board. So, what we doin’ first? Wanna get a drank?”
Sorry Zeb, not really hearing you right now. I’m hatching a plan on what arcade we’ll play first… second… third… fourth… etc, etc. I’m already mapping out the entire night in my head. OCD takeover! Gamers strip club come true!
Dragging Zeb to the first arcade stop, I shoot a few quarters in and turn to him with a mischievous grin.
“This, my friend, is Street Fighter 2. It’s probably my favourite fighting game of all time! Yeah, Mortal Kombat is up there but Street Fighter is SO fetch!”
Zeb’s looking it over. I think he’s getting into it! I’m sure he knows of the game and has played it before, I just couldn’t fight the urge NOT to introduce him to it, regardless.
“I’m pickin’ the big sumo ‘rassler. He any good?” Zeb asks. Maybe he hasn’t heard of Street Fighter before. LOL!
I smile widely. “Yeah man, E. Honda’s the best one in the game. I’m really in for it now!”
Look, I feel bad. E. Honda sucks. You know it, I know it, EVERRRYBODY knows it! Honda kinda looks like Bobby Dean, too. Cute. Though he fights like Scott Stevens. HI-YO! Anyhow, if I can’t set my new friend up for a 16-bit beating, then what are friends for?
I think this will be the start of something really monumental… for all of us.
It is dangerous to go alone.
But I am not alone. Not anymore. And I’m not with a bunch of life-sucking JAG’s who have their own agendas in mind, either.
Clay Byrd? Hillbilly redneck, tell me how long you’ll stay part of The Best Alliance when you realize you’re disposable.
Steve Harrison? Meh.
Steve Solex? Angry loose cannon. Actually, you’re kinda adorable when you’re angry.
Mortal Kombat Sektor? Player Two who wishes he was Player One.
Hughie Freeman? Wannabe street fighter. Wet dreams about being Ryu or Sagat but is more like E. Honda. Classless BOT who takes everything personal.
And the king of them all… Jatt. Clown shoes extraordinaire.
You’ll fail. They all do; it’s inevitable. And when The Best Alliance does fail, Big Boss will simply discard y’all and find new toys to play with.
In fact, I think he’s plotting Plan B. Saw some commotion in a limo… already looking elsewhere than his current group of goombas? After all, Big Boss can see again.
It’s dangerous to go alone. But I am not alone, not anymore.
You know what? I like those odds.
I made my official debut in High Octane right after last year’s War Games. Perhaps, only now, is my real HOW campaign beginning.
War Games. Come a war, that saying rings true once again.
It’s dangerous to go alone.
So it’s smart to ban together.
Why did Conor Fuse join Grapplers Local 214?
Seems pretty clear to me.