The Kingdom Training Facility
Friday, May 12th, 2023
The sound of keys rattling is heard before a large door is unlocked and opened. Two sets of footsteps can be heard until a switch is flipped. The light shines to life to illuminate part of The Kingdom training facility and wrestling school. Conor Fuse is the first one to step forward with wide eyes as he takes in the surroundings of the illuminated area. The LSD Champion walks up behind Fuse and breaks the silence.
“This is what I was telling you about on the way here.” Jace places his hand on Conor’s shoulder. “My own personal training center and wrestling school.”
“Not bad,” Conor commented with a nod of his head.
“Well… it’s not just mine. I have two other co-owners, but I’m the majority owner.” The LSD Champion says with a bit of a chuckle. “However, you’ve only seen part of it. Allow me to show you the rest.”
Jace leads Conor through the illuminated section of the facility. There is a Juice Bar along with free weights and treadmills placed around. Conor looks them over before Davidson flips another switch. Another section of the facility sees the light.
“I used to be a trainer at TEN-X Wrestling as you know, but life in HOW changes,” Jace explained. “Michael Lee Best went from being a friend and a stablemate to my enemy. TEN-X was barely staying afloat and I got tired of trying to sign up people to come there and train. Especially since most of the so-called trainers and the owner did not give a single fuck.”
“Working under someone else can be a drag,” Conor admitted. “I prefer to treat the people around me as equals – unless they think I’m shit. Then they’re shit, ya know? And then handling people nicely doesn’t always pan out either, I’m sure you remember how it went last time.”
Conor stops rambling as he begins walking through the new section and Jace shakes his head at the obvious shot thrown at him. Davidson sighs and shakes off the comment as he follows behind Fuse.
“We have full male and female locker rooms with showers. We have a training room for injuries along with trained physical therapists and doctors working around the clock. A licensed Masseuse who will be on duty to tend to student’s or athlete’s every ache or pain.” Jace gestured over to the section he just spoke about. “We also have the equipment to use for boxing or striking and the MMA octagon for those of us that enjoy that kind of combat.”
Conor walks over to the octagon and grabs hold of the fencing. He gives it a good, firm shake before turning to look at the LSD Champion.
“You looked ridiculous out there in that cage.” Conor showed the first sign of emotion since arriving in Denver.
Jace groaned over the whole HOFC situation before waving his hand.
“Okay, no need for friendly fire here.” Davidson tried to keep the situation light. “I hate everything about HOFC. That was what, my second time ever competing inside of it? It just isn’t my thing. I prefer the freedom of a wrestling ring.”
“Yeah, the second time,” Conor said in a low tone. “The first time was when you beat me inside of the cage. Man, I remember that. LOL, I thought you were a n00b. I mean you still kinda are, but I need to let go. I know, I know.”
Conor looked over at Jace who took a moment to choose his words wisely.
“Yeah, that did happen, but you’re a whole different person now compared to how you were back then,” Jace replied with a smirk. “Besides, it’s not like you haven’t kicked my ass since that HOFC match happened.”
Conor once again nodded his head silently as both men continued further through the facility. Another switch gets flipped as the final area gets illuminated. This was the section with various wrestling rings along with other training equipment. Conor doesn’t wait for Jace, he takes off and slides under the bottom rope to enter one of the rings. He pops to his feet and begins to run the ropes back and forth, testing out the quality of the ring itself.
“The equipment is in great condition. I got a deal on it from one of my co-owners who wasn’t using it.” Jace confessed. “I got the idea and the layout for this place from the training facility that she owns. I wanted my place to be just as good as hers. I wanted somewhere I would enjoy training where I don’t have to answer to anyone else.”
Conor keeps running the ropes a little bit before stopping. He leans over the top rope and looks down at Jace.
“That’s great and all.” Conor began. “But why did you bring me here?”
“That’s simple,” Jace answered in his best salesman voice. “I want to train the future of professional wrestling. I also want to train alongside people who put as much effort into this profession as I do. The Kingdom will be invite-only, which is why I didn’t bring Stevens with us. You, however, are invited to train here whenever you like.”
“Is that so?” Conor asked with a cocked eyebrow.
“Do you want to sit and wait for Mike to invite you to TEN-X? Do you enjoy going to random gyms all over the country every week?” Jace looked for a response but Conor didn’t give one. “I’m just saying, this is a place where you don’t have to worry about any bullshit. You won’t have to worry about someone attacking you while you’re working out. Hell, maybe if you like it then we can get you to teach a class or two for the students.”
“Oh, lovely. That sounds fantastic.” Conor shook his head and narrowed his eyes. “But uhhhhhh dude, tell me why you REALLY brought me here and been trying to butter me up! What TF is with you guys? You and Jatt, acting super cool to me recently. It’s weird, it’s strange. I’m uncomfortable. I’m rambling. I ramble when I’m uncomfortable. Wait, I ramble when I’m not, too. Uhhh… Imma shut up now. Just tell me.”
Jace cranked his neck and then climbed up onto the ring apron. He stood in front of Conor with his shoulders squared.
“You want the truth?” Jace said in an aggressive tone. Conor nodded his head confidently. “Fine, I brought you here because I need your help.”
The words shocked Conor a bit as Jace stepped through the ropes.
“Honestly? This whole War Games thing this year? It’s fucked, we’re screwed before the match even begins, but you know that already.” The LSD Champion exclaims as he leans against the turnbuckle. “We got paired up on a team with Scott Stevens and Scottywood. Mike Best is the leader of the team but that’s only a front to excuse the obviously rigged nature of this match.”
Conor folds his arms across his chest as Davidson continues.
“Yeah, Scott Stevens will always put in an effort. He’ll always show up, which is fine. The problem is that when he shows up his efforts are less than effective. He’s basically a warm body to fill a spot on the team. A nameless soldier to be struck down to make someone else look good.” Jace pauses for a moment. “Scottywood is completely worthless. There is no reason why he should have bothered to come back to HOW for War Games. His zombie ass should have become a bartender at some fucking hockey hole in the wall in NYC and left the actual wrestling to the professionals.”
Conor let out an intentional cough which might have been covering a laugh or meant to agree with Jace’s opinion.
“That leaves just me and you.” Jace points back and forth between himself and Conor.
“Right, I know how this level plays out. I’ve been here before.” Conor said defiantly.
“It’s not like that this time!” Jace protested.
“Of course, it’s not!” Conor laughed sarcastically. “Don’t worry, gullible old Conor will just forgive and forget, ‘cause I always forgive and forget. You can walk all over me like a welcome mat but I’ll take you back into my circle of trust with open arms!”
Jace growled in frustration.
“What do you want?!” He shouted at his War Games teammate. “Do you want me to admit I was wrong? Do you want me to apologize for what I did to you and the AoA? Maybe I need to apologize for what I tried to do to Bobbinette Carey. What is going to make you let it fucking go?!?!”
Conor rolled his eyes. “You sound like that old LeBron James commercial.”
Jace steps away from the corner and gets in Conor’s face.
“You shouldn’t trust me,” Jace says in a calmer tone. “That is logical on your part after everything that has happened. I’m not going to stand here and lie to you by saying I’m sorry for what I did.”
“Naturally,” Conor adds.
“What I will do is admit that I learned my lesson.” Jace reaches up and points to the eyepatch. “You were in the ring with me when this happened. For a long time, I wanted to blame you for being a shitty partner. I wanted to blame you for what was done to me but that was wrong. What happened was because of a pre-meditated attack by one man and one man alone. I’m not suggesting we magically become BFFs or whatever it is you like to do with others. I’m just saying, we have a common enemy that only we can do something about.”
“We do, do we?” Conor stands his ground in front of Jace. “I can’t wait to hear this.”
“Just think about it for a moment.” Jace requests. “It’s me and you on one team against the entire roster. There are members of The Final Alliance on every other team. Sure, others claim to be against Lee and The Final Alliance. Yet, you and I both know that every single one of them will be caught up in trying to capture gold. So, you and I, we do the opposite.”
“The opposite of trying to win a Championship?” Conor’s tone sounded like he thought Jace had lost his mind.
“None of us can stop The Final Alliance by just trying to take a title belt away from them.” Jace proclaims. “War Games is just one event. There will be more after it, there always is. This means even if one of them loses a belt, Lee will have another in line ready to take the belt back in the future. The only way to stop The Final Alliance is to chop the snake off at the head. We have to take out Lee Best, not the members of The Alliance.”
“Lee Best isn’t in the War Games match,” Conor interjects.
“Correct, but this is War Games. This is the event he is the most proud of, War Games is his baby.” Jace tries to get through to Conor. “If there is one place that Lee Best is going to appear and strut around like a fucking Peacock it’s War Games. This is our chance to put an end to this shit once and for fucking all.”
Conor remains silent, deep in thought before pointing over to The LSD Champion.
“So, you want me to sacrifice winning gold in the War Games match and you’re going to do what? Just lay the LSD Championship belt on the canvas and let everyone fight over it?” The Skepticism in his voice was loud and clear.
“I didn’t exactly say that…” Jace tries to explain but Conor interrupts.
“You want me to sacrifice winning a belt while you do everything in your power to keep your record-setting reign as LSD Champion going strong.” Conor scoffs. “I’ve heard some bullshit stories from you before but this one tops them all.”
“I am not trying to scam you!” Jace yells. “You want the LSD Championship belt? I’ll go and get it then hand it to you right now if that’ll make you believe me. The thing is, that you and I both know at this point, that holding a title doesn’t fix anything. You’ve been reeling from the moment Lee came out of that coma and then stood face-to-face with you in the ring. If you think being the LSD Champion fixes everything from the past, The Final Alliance, or Lee Best then by my guest.”
You could cut the tension with a knife between the two men but eventually, Conor raises his hand to his chin and begins to walk around.
“Let’s just say that I decided that your idea isn’t completely insane.” Conor ponders out loud. “What you’re suggesting is that we ditch our team and any chance to win a belt to take out the man that signs our paychecks?”
“That’s exactly what I am suggesting,” Jace answered in a serious tone.
“You’ve lost it completely. I thought the Elders had it bad.” Conor rubs his hands over his face. “Even if Lee is there within reach, a whole army of EPU members will be there to protect him. You don’t think I’ve wanted to punk his ass before and haven’t tried?”
“The EPU members aren’t a cage full of professional wrestlers. We’ve both competed inside of War Games multiple times and survived.” Jace resorted to logic. “You’re the man that nearly murdered STRONK Godson. You’ve tried to take out Lee alone and so have I. Which is exactly why we need to help each other and finally do it. An army of EPU members be damned, if we have each other’s back then we can do this.”
“And then what?!” Conor shouts. “We just kill Lee Best once and for all then HOW is no more? Okay, okay, it sounds kinda cool, but honestly, as HONEST as possible, I’d like to murder guys like Stronk and Ward before Lee.”
“Lee is the mastermind of the whole operation.” Jace pointed his index finger down to his palm. “Without Lee around to keep his soldiers in line, everyone will wander off on separate paths. Taking out STRONK and Ward will be so much easier without Lee around to force them to be united.”
Conor exhales audibly.
“Look me in the eye and tell me you’ve been having the time of your life in the company. It’s pretty much written all over your face. Going through the motions is an understatement for you, Conor. You’re lacking purpose and you can only run through the same levels of a game so many times before you start reaching for a new game. The new game is a HOW without Lee Best. The whole landscape changes once he is out of the picture.”
“Trust you, murder Lee Best, and possibly kill HOW.” Conor sighed.
“You can’t tell me the thought hasn’t crossed your mind.” Jace runs his fingers through his hair. “He took everything you ever accomplished in his absence and shit all over it. He’s pushed this narrative that you’re soft, a whiner, a nerd, and someone not worthy of being considered among the best in the world. You can look at my face and see all of the reasons I need to put that motherfucker six feet under.”
Conor continues to walk around the ring as his mind battles over what he should believe and what he shouldn’t. With a groan, Conor shrugs and walks past Jace.
“This is a lot and I need time to figure out what I’m going to do.” Conor grabbed hold of the ropes. “I gotta go.”
“All I’m asking is you give it serious consideration.” Jace walked to the center of the ring. “You know where to find me if you come up with an answer.”
Conor exits the ring and walks out of The Kingdom leaving Jace alone in the ring to wait and see what he decides to do.
So, here we are.
War Games 2023 and my back is against the wall. I’ve been saddled with a Team Captain who doesn’t give a fuck about anyone but himself. A ragtag group of wrestlers, who outside of Conor, were placed here to make sure I have zero chance of winning War Games.
So, what am I going to do?
You should already know what I’m going to do by now, but if you don’t then let me tell you once again.
My main goal all along has been to get rid of Lee Best.
How do I do that? Well, the options are plentiful right now.
I know Lee isn’t going to make it easy for me. If I have to go out in a blaze of glory to get to him, then I am more than willing to take as many of you motherfuckers with me as I can.
I know what I’m trying to do seems to be damn near impossible. Chris Kostoff lost his life trying to accomplish what I am about to attempt. And that’s fine with me, I have no problem going all in on this one shot. I’m pushing all my chips to the center of the table, I’m risking it all on the gamble that Lee Best has used up eight lives of his nine lives. I just need to crush the last remaining one.
Does that make me pathetic for wanting to fight an elderly cancer-ridden man until he dies by my hand?
Pretty much, yeah.
Do I care that it does?
Absolutely fucking not!
Look, I’m not stupid. I learned how Lee Best operates a long time ago. Lee and I were never friends. We were employer and employee. I was a pawn on his Chess board and I was absolutely fine with that. I got money, opportunity, and into the Hall of Fame off of that alone. Regardless of how shitty of a person he is, I got to put my name on the map because of him. I sold out to the Best Alliance after I first won the ICON Championship belt. I sold out to the Alliance when I made my return to wrestling in April 2021. I did it a third time when the AoA was a sinking ship in favor of The Board.
Honestly, at this point if you’ve been in HOW for any serious amount of time. You’ve been either aligned with Lee Best or you’re just a stubborn un-achieving asshole.
It’s just how it goes. And yet when the inevitable happens, people still act like they had no idea that Lee Best is Lee Best. None of us are so precious in the machine that we can’t be replaced. HOW has operated and churned forward without Christopher America, Rhys Townsend, Evan Ward, John Sektor, Bobbinette Carey, Scottywood, Steve Solex, Jace Parker Davidson, and even Lee’s son, Michael Lee Best.
No person is bigger than Lee Best when it comes to HOW.
He might not be selfish enough to allow himself to be voted into the HOW Hall of Fame but trust me when I say. The man more than makes up for it with his pettiness and how he rigs the game in his favor shamelessly.
Lee disbanded The Board because Michael retired. Farthington fucked off to wherever he decided to go. That just left me and America to carry the ball for the group. And boy, did we ever plow through the defenses and carry that motherfucker to the endzone every single time.
Though, The Board wasn’t Lee Best centric so, it had to go.
And thus The Final Alliance was born. Christopher America, Steve Solex, Evan Ward, STRONK Godson, Aceldama, Dan Ryan, and Jatt Starr.
It’s like The 92 Dream Team partnered up with the 85 Bears. It’s like playing a game of Madden on easy mode with every player rated 90 or above on your team.
Outside of myself, Conor, Bergman, and Clay Byrd. Who is honestly even left?
Darin Zion? Brian Hollywood? Stevens? Scottywood? Carey? Azula? A Dandy?
Yeah, no thank you.
I’m not trying to play 300 or scream This Is Sparta. I’m not going to sing a rousing song to try and pep people who dislike each other into a suicide mission. If I’m going to bite it, I’m going to do it on my own merit, or at least with someone worthy of holding their own.
But you knew this, Lee.
This is why you’ve treated Conor like shit from the moment you returned to HOW. It’s why you took offense to the things I said after you brazenly excluded me from The Final Alliance. I’m not even mad about that.
What I am mad about is that after everything we’ve been through. After you’ve sat back and watched what I am capable of doing over the years. That you had the balls to stab me in the eye with a pen during a tag team match.
It takes enormous balls for someone as frail as you to do something like that to someone like me. Did you think I was just going to roll over and die? Did you think I was going to drop to my knees and obey like a good little pup?
The funny part is that these massive balls are only in your head. You’ve gotten to the point where you’re high on your own fumes. You’ve cheated death so many times, that you realistically think you’re invincible. The problem is that you alone didn’t accomplish any of that.
You lure the simple-minded with candy and promises. And when they are ineffective you walk into a match to the death against Kostoff with The Egg Bandits up your sleeve.
I’m sure you have contingency plans after contingency plans lined up because that’s what you do. You’re always wheeling and dealing with anyone and everyone you ever wronged because you’re the best Loan Shark that has ever lived.
So, who is going to pop out when danger looms at War Games? A member of the PRIME roster? Graystone? Shane Reynolds? Lindsay Troy? Who have you sweet-talked to watch your ass? Who in your mind did you think was good enough to stop me?
The rent is overdue, Lee.
I’ve sat back and listened to your son and everyone else talk about how I did nothing to fight back against you. That I’m just this punk ass that is all bark and no bite. They confuse my patience for weakness.
I could be Scott Stevens and run into war armed with a slingshot and a pocket full of pebbles. I could’ve immediately made a half-baked revenge effort or made a snarky news post the moment you dared to go against me.
A piece of advice: Don’t buy any unripe bananas while in Mexico, you won’t live long enough to eat them.
You stabbed me in the eye with that pen and you had the nerve to piss on my head while it was in a toilet.
Running in immediately throwing uneducated haymakers doesn’t fit the crime. I’ve waited patiently, I’ve picked my spot and allowed everyone to write me off. I’ve always worked best when I fly under the radar.
Urine can be washed away with soap and water but the eye? No, you branded me. You placed a landmark of dominance on my face and I cannot stand for it.
For that, you will pay with your life. There is no eye for an eye in our situation. Why take an eye with I can pull your beating heart from your chest and crush it in the palm of my hand.
It’s not the first time we’ve done battle at War Games but it will certainly be the last.
You think yourself holier than thou but I’ve cut a deal with the devil himself. You tried to take my eye but I’ll show you that my arms are just fine and aren’t too short to box with God.
We can go to Hell together.
I like the fire but we’ll see if you can stand the heat.
Count your days, the sands in the hourglass of your life are about to run out.