Posted on August 10, 2022 at 5:58 pm by Conor Fuse

July 3, 2022

“How long are you gonna sit there for?”

“What’s it matter?”

My response is sharp and fast, as if I’ve rehearsed this moment many times. Drowning my sorrows, I watch High Octane television from a distance. There have been a lot of changes; too many if you ask me. The landscape is different. The levels are harder. The bosses are bigger, both physically and psychologically. The graphics are louder. The cHaOs is MOAR insane. They even have a new show named after the old man’s fixation with nonsensical twists and turns.

And this is only week one.

Sure, I’m watching but I’ve drawn a line. I’m merely a spectator. The tall glass cup, three-fourths empty, beside an empty glass cup and an empty glass beside that, tells me I am not in the right frame of mind. I would never have pictured myself in a position like this. Yet here I am.

I can’t be bothered to do more.

Progress moves quickly in the wrestling business. One minute you’re World Champion, the next you’re on the sidelines watching a former World Champion from years past reclaim his spotlight.

“Let’s be real, Walt,” I say, politely waving to the bartender for another. “There’s nothing left for me in his game.”

I don’t need to go any further. Walt knows what I mean, we’ve been through this before. I’ve accomplished what I needed. Went above and beyond. Faster and quicker than the most optimistic person would assume. Larger and stronger than those before me. I showed the doubters and naysayers the Video Game Kid could be a last level guy.

Besides, in this job, everybody goes out on their backs.

Even the hero.

“A good time to step away,” I don’t know why I added an extra emphasis onto my statement. There’s no convincing me otherwise. Not even when I study the new #97, knowing that in a fair fight, I could easily take him.

I see The Son and I think to myself the glory of matches we could have in front of us, a rivalry of which I could only imagine beforehand. I used to beg God for a feud like this. There, in front of me, a true nemesis and a guy who would never walk away from HOW. His bloodline states he’s here for the long haul.

Not like my other rivals.

Not like I’ve decided to do.


The game ended on June 11th. As it should have. We saw the writing on the wall. Our team was dysfunctional. Glitched. Destined for failure.

And still, I almost had them.


Add insult to injury, the true rival I wanted to get my hands on… the real man I have always begged to do battle with… who I finally irked out of retirement…

Well he hit me with a nightstick and mangled my face. Then proceeded to put me in an armbar submission and pop my shoulder out of its socket.

Oh, THEN proceeded to walk away from this game… forever. Today is his last day of work.

“I retire,” I mutter, finishing off my last sip of what has to be round number too many. “Moving on.”

I don’t look over but I can feel Walt staring at me, wondering what the hell I’m rambling on about. That is if Walter was even there to begin with. I turn to my left and I swipe my hand across his body. Like I figured, it goes right through him.

“I’m gonna have to cut you off, son,” I find the bartender directly in my face. “You’re not looking great.”

“Yeah, don’t worry, bro.” I sarcastically wink at him and slide the empty glasses over while carefully pulling my phone out of my pocket. “Already called me an Uber.”

He takes the mugs and attends to another patron at the end of the bar. I try focusing my attention on the rest of the Octane event being delivered to my eyes in the High variety.

Bryan McVay: “Our next match is a Triple Threat Tag Team Match to decide the #1 Contender to the HOW World Tag Team Championship belts.”

The match graphic appears. I’m familiar with the faces.

And I don’t give AF.

“kEEp tHe tIp.” Honestly, I don’t even know if that’s what I said or what dollar bill I ended up leaving on the bar table. I stumble away, shake off the dizziness inside my head and attempt to place foot after foot carefully in front of me, with a level of caution I’m not used to. I’m typically nimble.

Bryan McVay: “From New York City, New York… weighing in at two-hundred-sixty-five pounds… he is The Hardcore Artist and HOW Hall of Famer SCOTTYWOODDDDD!!!!”

Ugh. Fucking kill me. I don’t know if that vomit feeling is from the old man walking down the rampway on the television or what is coursing through my veins.

Probably both.

Careful now, Conor. Let’s not make a complete ass of ourselves. Your phone is buzzing, the Uber is outside. Maintain focused. Lock your eyes on the door handle across the way, that will keep you nice and steady.

Bryan McVay: “And his partner, from Parma, Ohio… weighing in at two-hundred-thirty-five pounds… she is The Queen of Epicness and HOW Hall of Famer BOBBINETTEEEEEE CAREYYYYY!!”

JFC. Has that bitch not learned anything? Still teaming with Scottywood? Bobbie, sis, you deserve whatever fate you’ve got coming if you think that hockey stick wielding tiny dick ginger is a good partner for you.

McVay’s voice continues but none of the other names concern me. Yeah, I hear Cecilworth being called out but I already know he’s got a foot out the door. Fucking guy apparently was going through Bobbie to get to me but folds his cards.


Wasn’t gonna work anyway, Cec. Good call there.

Whoops, fell over. Focus, Conor. You’re almost outta here. Then back to the hotel room for some other arrangements.

Like I said, times are different now. A simple month has changed my complexion entirely. Likely for the better.

Bryan McVay: “From Miami, Florida… weighing in at two-hundred-fifty-three pounds… he is an HOW Hall of Famer and a member of The Board. JACEEEE PARKERRRRR DAVIDSONNNNN!!!”

I hold a middle finger straight at the television screen. No need to look, that nimrod’s face is burnt into my subconscious.

Fucking loser.

“Hey, that’s a Hall of Famer,” Walter says to me as I pass right through him and grab hold of the front door.

“So?” I fire back. “The HoF is as open as Breath of the Wild.”

I give the door handle too hard of a push and stumble out of the bar, much further onto the street than initially intended.

Fuck ‘em all.

I’ll never go back there. Enjoy your playground, Jace. Along with the rest of them.

We’re done.

— — — — —

June 11, 2022

It’s an intense day. Honestly, intense doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling. This isn’t like last year’s War Games where I flew under the radar. I’m the marked man and I’ve made a ton of enemies. Some warranted, like David Noble. I blasted the guy with a ball shot and pinned him after not choosing him on my War Games team when we were supposed to be partners. Yeah, pretty sure I deserve his wrath. Others, however… The Highwaymen? Get bent. All I did was tell Clay Byrd he was sucking on sour grapes, unable to appreciate the World Championship opportunity against me that laid before him… and his schmuck dipshit following decided to blindly believe him instead of the kid who wanted to do right. FFS, Clay hit me with his cast at ICONIC ‘21 and yet I’m the bad guy? Sure. That tracks.

Arriving at her locker room door, I knock in the sound of Mario Bros. World 1, Level 2. Most people would go with World 1, Level 1 but I like to be different.

“Come in…”

I open the door slowly, I figure she might be on guard. Wouldn’t put it past someone else pretending to be me and get a jump on The Epicness. After all, it’s War Games. Advantage by any means. The Best Team doesn’t play by the rules. Look at how our “draft” was handled. Totally biased garbage.

“Bobbie, hi,” I raise my voice and slip into the room seeing Bobbinette Carey lacing up her boots on the far end of the bench. She doesn’t lift her head; she doesn’t seem concerned. “Just wanted to wish you goodluck before your match with Steve Harrison…”

Carey simply nods her head and finishes lacing her first boot.

“Thanks gamer dude,” she eventually replies and changes to her other boot. The truth is both of us have crossed paths a number of times now… I might project a happy-go-lucky naïve kinda guy but I know we don’t have too much in common. Plus, it has to be hard to generate a conversation when you’re first to go in the big war.

I take off my knapsack and open it. There, on the top of my ring gear and title belt lies a manila folder with paperwork inside.

“Hey, Bobbie?”

“Yeah?” She responds, not looking up.

“I brought you something…” My voice trails. I’m apprehensive but I know this is what I want to do. I walk forward and hold out the folder in front of her. Eventually, she lifts her eyes from her boots and stares at my offering.

“I don’t normally do this,” I exclaim. “But I tend to be quite the tape-worm.”

Tape worm? Like a tapeworm? WTF am I saying? Get it together, Conor.

“Look, I take a lot of notes on the bots and bosses in HOW. I study film nonstop. Here’s what I’ve dug up on The Miracle Man. I’ve never faced him one-on-one myself… he’s been a guy who’s avoided me… but this is everything I have. My entire scouting report. From how often he goes for a clothesline, to a percentage breakdown of what suplexes he uses in specific stages of a match, to a marked diagram of where he’s applied his shitty STF hold.”

I open the folder and go directly to that page. I hold the sheet in front of Bobbie.

“See those red dots? That’s where he successfully applied the STF. The blue dots are where an opponent has either escaped or broken the hold within a few seconds. Lots of blue dots, LOL. There’s tons of stuff in here… including how frequently he tries for the knee trigger, or his finisher…” Placing the diagram back into the folder, I extend the paperwork in its entirety to Bobbie. She smiles and claims the documents.

“Wow. You did all this leg work? Thank you. Seriously, I appreciate it. My mind would never be able to put something like this together.”

“Well that’s where I come in, Bob. Ain’t been World Champion for six months without a reason.” Honestly, it’s a risk to hand the information out. Like I said, I put countless hours into this shit. But there’s a really good person underneath there. Jatt doesn’t think so. Most people don’t. Noble told me to run away from her. Whatever. It’s hard to find friends.

“Listen, Bobbie, let’s be real here. I know we’re not really BFF. And I know I haven’t been the most upstanding guy in the world over the past month. I also know you don’t have the best track record with keeping friends either… but deep down, I see a real fighter in you and I respect that. I also know Harrison, Clay, those morons… they want nothing to do with you. I have tried to reach out to them numerous times. I’ve tried to get us on the same page but it can’t be done.” Deep breath, Fuse. “We’re kinda screwed in this War Games. Rather have you a million times over than Steve Harrison…”

Eyeing the manila folder, I watch Bobbie open it and shift through the pages.

“I know we’re different people outside of that ring. But inside?” I nod my head at Bobbie flipping through the pages. “We’re similar. Very similar.”

Carey’s facial expressions suggest she agrees.

“I tend to rub people the wrong way. I have that effect…” She confesses, showing actual vulnerability. No bravado, no queen, just Bobbie. “I knew The Highwaymen were never going to give me the time of day. You, though? You’re right, we aren’t BFFs. But in that ring you’re also right. And this…” She gestures towards the papers. “This is something I will never forget. Thanks for this.”

I close my eyes and I see the massacre. Even with Bobbie by my side, I see the Best Team wrecking us, because those fuckstick cowboys can’t put aside our differences for one night. Because tHe hIgHwAymEn are off in their own little world and will amount to nothing. It will fall on my shoulders. It will land on Bobbie’s, too. I’m DOA.

But I’m going down fighting.

“See ya out there, pal.”

“Thanks gamer dude.”

I don’t plan to overstay my welcome. I make my exit, hoping to see Bobbinette later that night. I feel #97 weighing down my knapsack as I walk through the hall. Likely, this belt won’t weigh me down for much longer.

— — — — —

July 10, 2022

JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

Jesus Christ, Jace. Acting edgy isn’t the best look for you.

Chaos 001, USS Octane. I’ve watched the footage from my iPhone a hundred times over. So this is a hundred-and-one.

“Still not doing something about it, huh?” Walter inquires, shifting in the passenger seat. My car sits a couple of blocks away from the Best Arena where cHaOs 002 is about to begin. “You’ve driven all this way for nadda?”

I shake my head yes.

“This is silly, Conor,” Walt rambles on. “I expected MOAR from you. Why pick me up from Dearness? To enjoy a quaint little car ride?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose. “Walt, you should be so lucky to get out. Besides…” I swipe my hand through him again. “You’re not even here so STFU.”

Full disclosure, I haven’t had a real conversation with anyone since I left High Octane a mangled mess. Looking in my rear view mirror, I see the massive scar across the side of my forehead, thanks to Cecilworth Farthington’s nightstick. A blindsiding attack. A DOA shot. I knew it was coming… I just didn’t know from what angle.

It’s been over a month and I can barely see out of my right eye. Doctor said I will heal but it’s going to take some time. Blunt force trauma is no walk in the park.

And my left shoulder can barely function. I’m left handed.


JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

God, his voice pierces right through me. It’s a harder shot than the fucking blow I took to lose my world title.

And then I watch it once again, view a hundred-and-two. Jace kicks Bobbie below the belt and tosses her over the boat.

“It’s tradition now,” Walter says, leaning closer to get a better view of the footage. “Every year somebody’s gonna be thrown off. You watch.”

I move the iPhone away from Walter.

“But I won’t watch,” I snap. “I’m done with them, remember? Bobbie’s on her own. She would sleep fine if that was me thrown overboard. They all would sleep fine if that was me. So Imma sleep well, too, Wally. Imma sleep motherfucking great… once my eye heals, my shoulder recovers and my concussion symptoms resolve…”

My voice trails. I view myself through the rearview mirror again.


JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

And off the USS she goes.

I see the fear and anger in her eyes. I watch Jace’s smug/arrogant look across his face.

And my heart pounds a little heavier.

“Told you,” Walt mentions, leaning over and viewing the footage. He won’t stay away. I’d push him back but he’s a bloody figment of my imagination. “You’re going in there, aren’t you?”

“I ain’t doing shit, man. How many times do I have to say this?” I reply sternly.


JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”


JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

“You know Bobbie’s not a bad person,” Walter chimes in, cutting me off from rewinding. “You called it out. Initially, your friendship was superficial but as you’ve come to know her, she puts up a guard. She uses people because people have used her. She’s a good soldier, Conor. Not like the others. You spent an entire year being pissed off at Lindsay Troy, Teddy Palmer and Zeb Martin for leaving you high and dry. They were selfish. Then you got rattled at David Noble. Sure, you fucked that relationship up but he took the first shot. Mother fucker went to ringside and ripped you apart. He deserved it. Bobbie? She’s been here forever. She’s actually a loyal and devoted gamer to the High Octane way. She’s a real friend. She’s like an Elder…”

I feel my eyes rolling back into my skull.

“Wally, dude,” My voice raises an octave. “You’re making me long for the days of hearing New-Age Conor inside my head.”

Walter chuckles. “You’re a real fucked up kid, aren’t ya?”

And he turns to the backseat of my car, looking over the 2-4 of alcohol I can’t wait to crack open later tonight. Gone is my Game Boy, Game Gear and Nintendo Switch scattered across the seats. They are replaced with bongs, a packet of shrooms and other paraphernalia.

“Don’t judge me, Walt,” I comment, not taking my eyes away from the iPhone in front of me. “I haven’t jumped into the real serious shit yet.”

And I rewind the footage over and over and over.

JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”
JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

This fucking guy.

“Walt, fetch me my ski mask,” I mention as he reaches into the glove compartment. If I’m gonna do this, nobody will see the damage they’ve done to my face.


JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

I reach behind the driver’s seat and open up the 2-4 case on the floor below, pop the cap off drink #1 and drain that bitch into my system.

I toast Walter with the empty bottle before discarding it out the window.

“On the house!” I cry while Walter doesn’t take his eyes off me. “You win.”

The Elder has a pleased demeanor on his face. “Besides Wally, you ran those V For Vignettes for me last week. Guess they gotta lead to something.”

I struggle to undo my seatbelt, open the driver’s door and wobble out onto the street.

“Pop the trunk. Let me get the rest of my stuff. Because I have a bone to pick…”

JPD: “You want abortion rights, bitch? Have one free, on the house!”

“With everyone.”