Boomer Fuse likes video games.
Can you believe it? What a NERD, right guys? I mean, I have a PlayStation 5 in my dressing room and every single person I know played Animal Crossing for the last two years to cope with their anxiety while they were stuck inside. But what a NERD! Can you even imagine? Next thing you’re gonna tell me is that he likes the MARVEL MOVIES, and he’s a fan of HARRY POTTER!
I don’t get it, dude.
What does everybody see in you?
You’re like a forty year old’s idea of what a twenty three year old is, but also you’re like fucking thirty, bro. Your entire gimmick is just a hobby that literally everyone has. I know you caveman boomers were always stuffing nerds in lockers and calling them homophobic slurs, but it’s fucking 2022 and you’re just a dork. Everybody plays video games. Everybody likes geek culture. I heard Scottywood likes to drink, maybe he should dress up as a beer bottle and yell “BOTTOMS UP” right before he hits a superkick or something— you are to youth culture what Clay Byrd is to cowboys, and you both suck at whatever you’re trying to achieve.
And would just say you’re a bad guy already?
All this “will they/won’t they” shit is making me wondering “will I/won’t I” shove my face through a plate glass window with my face covered in salt. It’s called foreplay, not eightplay, fucking cum or pull your pants back up. Cheers and boos don’t cancel out and create silence– the sound you’re hearing is no one giving a shit anymore.
You’re the blandest top guy of all time.
A Paper Mario champion. Literally just holding that belt like my Grandpa told you to get a switch from the yard, and now you’re just waiting around for someone to beat you. You love video games so much that you stole all your dialogue from a Create-A-Wrestler career mode. Your move set is just every generic indy trampoline wrestler with a bunch of boomer game references slapped on top of them. You’ve been the leader of two stables and nobody in HOW could tell you who all was in them for a million dollars with a gun to their head.
hEy MeMbEr AoA gUyZ aOa WuZ aWeSoMe.
I’m gonna punch you in the fucking mouth, dude. You better hope that you’re eliminated from War Games before I even enter the match, because I’m literally just gonna beat the fuck out of you for fun. You wanna be a persecuted nerd so bad? I’ll treat you like one. I’ll stuff you in a fucking locker. I’ll give you an atomic wedgie. I’ll stick your head in the toilet and flush, so you can watch your entire championship reign swirl down the drain.
I just don’t like you, bro.
And I’m gonna slap the shit out of you.
“Boy, I hope this place isn’t a shithole.”
Leaned back in his seat, Michael Lee Best stares out the window at endless clouds beneath him, stretching out his legs on the carpeted floor of the private jet. His hands lie restless in his lap, drumming out a tune on the legs of his jeans despite there being no music playing in the cabin.
“This isn’t stupid, right?” Michael asks, only half rhetorically. “Like, it’s War Games. You do War Games in the fucking Ukraine, right? It’s… topical.”
The CEO of HOW fidgets in his seat again, failing to get comfortable. It’s always been a problem on long flights, but this one has him a little bit more anxious. Sending an entire company into an active warzone for a show that, best case scenario, is going to put HOW back into the red for months to come. Ever wonder why they always go back to the Best Arena after a show like this?
It’s because they’re broke now, stupid.
He reaches into his jacket pocket, pulling out a tennis ball. For fifteen years, he’s been carrying this dumb thing with him onto every flight he’s taken, and years of wear have left it half-berift of it’s trademark fuzz. He tosses it back and forth between his hands, jostling aimlessly.
“I don’t know.” Michael sighs, looking around the cabin. “We’ve done all the wars, right? Normandy, yawn. Gettysburg, again? Pearl Harbor… okay, fine, I guess. But this is like, where an actual war is happening, so– Tyler, are you even listening?”
The Son of God tosses the tennis ball at his son, who is seated directly across from him in the spacious charter, a pair of expensive looking headphones resting just behind his ears. The ball collides with his chest, snapping him out of the daydream he’s been having and jolting him back into complete consciousness.
“FUCK DUDE!” Tyler exclaims, his body convulsing suddenly. “Jesus, yeah man, sounds dope. Fucking free the Ukranians or whatever. Fuck.”
He grabs the tennis ball out of his lap, chucking back at his father a lot harder than it was thrown at him in the first place. Michael narrowly dodges a headshot, laughing his ass off as it whizzes by the side of his head and falls to the seats behind him.
“Nice arm, Sandy Kofax.” Michael smirks, crossing his arms. “At least I’ll never have to worry about you throwing in the towel.”
Tyler leans forward in his chair, his eyes turning remarkably cold in an instant. They lock on to those of his father, as he stares unblinking.
“Yeah well, probably had a dad.” TAB says, blankly. “They usually teach you that kind of shit, right?”
There’s that elephant again.
I wonder if he had to pay for two seats?
Michael shifts uncomfortably in his chair, not really knowing how to respond. It’s rare for the son of Lee Best to be at a loss for words, but it’s finally happened. Rendered speechless, by his own flesh and blood.
“Got any killer closers about riding a bike?” Tyler goes on, unabashedly. “Have a pun about learning how to shave? You love rule of three, right? Got a knock-knock joke about growing up without a male influence because your dad was too busy doing coke and fucking strippers to make it to your wrestling meets?”
Both father and son have their eyes locked upon one another, jaws clenched. Two lions, one old and one young, trapped in a tailspin of testosterone and existential grief. The silence is all-consuming– nothing exists in this moment but a cold, defiant stare between two very different generations of Best. And yet, not entirely so different.
The Son of the Son of God’s left lip turns upward, just slightly.
Just the hint of a smirk, the same one that has defiled HOW television for over a dozen years. Tyler’s posture begins to relax, as both men finally release their deathgrip on eachother’s egos. It’s Michael who starts to laugh first, and then his son. It’s tense at first, and quickly relaxes into a genuine laughter.
“Go ahead and ask.” Michael shakes his head, unclenching his jaw. “I know it’s killing you.”
Tyler takes a deep breath, slouching forward again with his elbows on his knees. He looks deep into the eyes of his father, with only one question in his heart.
“Yeah.” Tyler nods his head. “Who the fuck is Sandy Kofax?”
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
Why Boomer Fuse?
Seven other dudes on that team. Hall of Famers, champions, long-time vets and Xander Azula. Why’s ya boi going all-in on the video game man? And yes, I’m gonna say man, cause this motherfucker is about to be thirty years old and should be investing in long term stock options, not vintage copies of fucking Earthbound. Why not go after Clay Byrd, who literally burned my father’s livelihood to the ground and pissed on the ashes? Why not go after Simon Sparrow, who cost him War Games twice? Why not go after Darin Zion, who keeps knocking on my door every Refueled asking me if I can get him an autograph on a Starter cap from my Pops?
Buy it off eBay, Zion.
We are not friends.
I’ll tell you why I’m all-in on Boomer Fuse: It’s because somebody has to be. Because somebody has to see through the bullshit. You got this whole soft ass roster full of huggy bois who never wanna hurt anyone’s feelings, and write strongly worded letters to the office when somebody says something mean about their friends. And you got everybody doing the “we hate Conor Fuse” bit like the cold open to fucking Saturday Night Live. Well LIVE FROM UKRAINE, Boomer, it’s the end of your World Title reign.
Cause I don’t find you adorable.
You’re the exact type of spot-holding, sponsor friendly, bland as licked-clean Saltines champion that my Great Uncle Ollie needed holding the bag till my Grandpa woke up. Lee Best was dreaming for months, and now he wakes up to this fucking nightmare?
Why Boomer Fuse?
Why the fuck anybody but?
This motherfucker couldn’t draw money in Mario Paint. It’s like when I was ten, and my half brother wanted to play video games with me so I’d just unplug one of the controllers and let him think he was playing too. That’s literally Boomer’s entire run as HOW World Champion. He’s just mashing buttons and we’re all playing along and telling him that he’s doing a great job. But you’re not! Everyone is lying to you! Everyone is so busy creating a positive environment around here that no one has the balls to tell you that your segments are prescribed off label for insomnia. I’m gonna watch your last title defense instead of popping a fucking Ambian at the hotel, because it might be the only cure for that kind of jet lag. You are the worst, dude.
You’re the fucking worst.
Forget shattering my father’s records. Forget winning War Games just to prove the haters wrong. Forget being the youngest HOW World Champion of all time, and obtaining the unobtainable in my second ever televised match. Nah, fuck all of that, Boomer. I wanna win this match just because I know it’ll make you fucking sad to have another moment stolen from you by a Best. Just because I wanna see your whole riot squad race to their DMs, to tell you that you should have won the whole thing.
Just because I can.
I’ll win War Games on fucking spite.
“Eight years is a long time.”
You can joke about the elephant in the room as much as you like, but much like that big gray bitch himself, you can never truly forget. The words come after a longer silence than was comfortable, with two men staring out at the clouds.
There’s a lot of clouds between Newark and Ukraine.
Twelve hours of the, in fact.
Tyler looks up from the window, his gaze meeting his father’s as he’s finally about to ask the real question that Michael has been waiting for. The CEO is surprised it took him until somewhere over Scandinavia.
“Go on, then.” Michael shifts his attention, crossing his legs. “Ask me.”
Tyler furrows his brow, resting his chin on his steepled fingers.
He can’t grow a beard yet– his nails graze bare flesh, digging into his skin. But then, Michael wrestled clean shaven until damn near 2016… maybe it was genetic. Maybe a lot of things were genetic. He’d inherited his father’s hellacious temper, and his dangerous charm. His unwavering confidence. Time would tell if he’d ever measure up to that man that brought him into this world and disappeared, but then… some might say that about his father, too.
The elephant waits with bated breath.
“You knew about me eight years ago.” Tyler asks, bluntly. “You bought me fucking school clothes. You paid for wrestling school. But you don’t tell me I’m your son until after a judge gives half your shit to your ex-wife. The fuck am I supposed to think?”
Michael leaves the question to hang in the silence a moment, as he reaches over into the seat next to him. He picks up the tennis ball and let’s it fall back and forth between his hands– funny as it was to have it winged past the side of the skull, he couldn’t just leave it on the floor.
It’s a good luck charm.
“That’s not the question, Tyler.” Michael shakes his head, looking down at the ball. “Ask the real question. Cut through the bullshit. Ask me an honest question and I’ll give you the honest answer.”
He looks up, catching his son’s eyes.
No pissing contest this time.
The Grandson of God sits up in his chair, pulling the headphones off from behind his ears and tucking them around his neck. He turns the screen off on his phone, setting it in the cupholder next to him.
“Alright.” Tyler takes a deep breath. “Do does any of this actually fucking matter to you?”
His father sharply pops his neck to one side, cracking the joint to relieve the nagging pain of the flight pressure. There was a time in his life that the Son of God could have passed out on the floor of this plane, woken up and had a beer, and still wrestled at War Games. Now?
Now his neck hurts, because air pressure.
“Yes, it does.” Michael nods, stating it matter-of-factly. “Yes, you matter to me. Yes, I care that I’m your father. No, I don’t want your fucking Trust money. And yes, I’m planning to exploit our relationship to make us both a lot of fucking money because it’s the greatest wrestling gimmick of all time. Anything else?”
Michael leans back, crossing his arms.
“Yeah.” TAB says, unwavering. “Why’d it take eight years?”
Tyler’s post almost seems to shift unconsciously, matching his father’s. The two men can only look at each other for a moment, as they prepare to have the talk. Not the one about the birds and the bees. Not the one about saying no to drugs. Not the one about not being mad, just being disappointed. Michael takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly– any of those would be a vast improvement over the “sorry I abandoned you for your entire life after I busted in your mom without a rubber on” conversation.
“Like.” Tyler shakes his head, looking confused. “Aight, bet, you didn’t know you knocked my mom up. I get it. But once you found out… why did it take eight years? If I decided to become a fucking accountant, would be even be having this conversation?”
That’s the sentence that cuts Michael Lee Best to the bone.
It isn’t the severity of it– Tyler was in his right to say whatever the fuck he wanted, all things considered. What cuts the Son of God to the bone is the fact that he’d had this same conversation with his own father twelve years ago. He’d asked the same questions. Felt the same fury, and embarrassment, and sadness, and shame. In one of those rare but powerful moments of self-awareness for the bastard child of Lee Best, he understands the irony of the situation better than anyone on the planet. Or maybe it isn’t irony at all.
Maybe it’s the cycle of abuse.
“No, we wouldn’t.” Michael shrugs, just… going for it. “You want the truth? That’s the truth. But you were never gonna be an accountant, Tyler. This is in your blood. I got you a letter and a scholarship, I didn’t force you to take it.”
The Son of God tosses the tennis ball into the air, following it all the way up with his eyes and all the way back down into his hands.
“Look, Ty.” he lightens his tone. “Real talk? Your mom gave the best head in Atlantic County, but she’s one of the craziest cunts I have ever met in my entire life. If I knew she was pregnant, I’d have had a doctor stuffing her so full of coat hangers that she shit mothballs. I was literally your age and about to go pro– what would you do right now, if you found out some broad you tagged from Tinder was carrying my fucking grandchild?”
Tyler Adrian Best should be absolutely horrified by the words that he just heard, but he’s oddly serene as he looks back at his father. He slowly nods his head, stifling a laugh.
“Who am I?” Michael asks, rhetorically. “Do I look like the kind of dad who comes to baseball games? I didn’t have shit to offer you, Tyler. I had money. So I sent money. I set you on a path so that someday, I might have something else to offer you… and now I do, so here you are. The keys to the kingdom. Yours for the taking. ”
Tyler’s father leans forward, looking at him intently.
“Listen.” Michael says, shaking his head. “I’m sure that batshit twat put a bunch of ideas into your head that I want your trust money. I got one thing in that Trust that I need back someday, and that’s another conversation for another day. But if there’s even one real Dad lesson I can teach you in this world, it’s that women are fucking ruthless psychopaths who don’t give a fuck about anything on this earth but sucking your wallet and your best friend dry. I know she hugged you, and raised you, and made you cookies and shit, but she also sucked my dick behind a Movie World in Northfield because she saw me wrestle in front of twelve people at a rec center. They cannot be trusted. You got me?”
The son of Michael Lee Best cracks his stone face, bursting out in a very uncomfortable laughter. He runs his hands through his hair, slowly shaking his head as he stares into his own lap.
“Jesus.” Tyler chuckles, his voice getting a little higher. “That’s still my mom, man.”
“Look at me, Tyler.” Michael answers, the humor leaving his voice.
Slowly, Tyler’s eyes look up to meet his father’s. The CEO of HOW is no longer smiling, and the niceties have left his eyes. He reaches out a hand, resting it on Tyler’s knee.
“You’re the franchise.” Michael goes on, very serious now. “I’m giving you everything. Every tool at my disposal. Every advantage that I never had. I’m setting you up with every imaginable privilege to be the best wrestler in the history of the fucking world, but that shit comes with a price. There is gonna be a target on your back for your entire career. They’ll smile to your face and talk shit when you turn your back. When you succeed, they’ll say it’s because your dad is the boss. When you fail, they’ll say you don’t live up to the hype. And it’s up to you to live up to the hype, Tyler. Do you understand?”
The Grandson of God looks down at the hand of his father, seeing the Hall of Fame ring glistening on his finger under the bright lights of the private cabin. It took his father five years to earn that ring, and was the only thing of value that he’d ever kept safe.
Tyler wonders if he can do it in three.
“Bet.” he answers, resting a hand on his father’s, briefly. “Legit glad to be here.”
They seem to know exactly the number of seconds it takes for the interaction to get weird, because they each seem to pull their hands away at the same moment.
A moment of awkward silence, before the Son of God’s eyes light up.
“Oh, and fuck a Trust fund.” Michael adds, with a smirk. “That’s your retirement money, Tyler. Save it. I got you something.”
He reaches into his blazer, producing a heavy, onyx-colored version of The Liberty Card, the very first one in circulation. He hands the card across the aisle to Tyler, placing it in his hands– Tyler Adrian Best is written on the front of the card, in slightly raised lettering.
“I never had nice things, Ty.” he smiles again, leaning back in his seat. “Subconsciously, guess I never felt like I deserved them. But there’s no God. Nobody keeping score. No prize at the end for self flagellation. First time I ever met Dan Ryan, he told me–”
“You gotta take what you deserve in this world.” Tyler rolls his eyes, mockingly. “Ain’t nobody gonna give it to you. Yeah, Dad. He has a pull-string that reminds me that he’s the reason you’re a wrestler. Does great power come with great responsibility, too?”
Tyler holds up the card, grinning from ear to ear as he looks over the face.
“For real though.” he chuckles, admiring his present. “Thanks, Dad. I always wanted to be a shitty rich white kid.”
It feels heavy in his hands– someday, he’ll learn that the weight of money is more about the gravity of it than the physical heft, but for now he looks absolutely thrilled to be holding a credit card with presumably no limit.
He leans forward, offering his father knuckles and bumping his fist.
“So… when do I get the knee?”