Chaos 21 – February 5, 2023 – Mackey Arena – West Lafayette, Indiana.
Clay and I have done this before. We aren’t friends but, perhaps, we should be. We’ve battled common enemies for a while now, it’s almost baffling we can’t agree on things. Was it my fault I was unwilling to pick a WarGames team that he wanted? Was it his fault he swore to be my friend and then proceeded to stab me in the back at ICONIC 2021? As I wind up and put my left fist square between his eyes, and he returns the favour with a blow to my temple, maybe we’re both at fault. I don’t think we’ll ever be good, we’ll never see eye-to-eye. We are destined to do this forever. Guys who should be on the same page, two of High Octane’s top talents continued to be pushed down by the powers that be.
I bounce off the ropes, I duck his clotheslines, I hit the next set of ropes and look for a missile dropkick of my own. He dodges, drops an elbow into my neck and proceeds to hammer the living piss outta me.
Fuck this clown, I tried to help him. It’s a doomed relationship. Guy has rocks in his head. Go ahead, punch me… destroy me. You can’t keep me down, Clay. You’ve never beaten me. You never will.
I’ll end up pulling this off.
He continues to slam my head against the mat by wrapping his massive mitts around my skull.
What a dick.
Can’t wait to finish him off.
— — — — —
April 9, 2023 – Near midnight.
I’m a fool to think plans can’t change quickly. It’s been a long month after March to Glory and here I am, licking my wounds. What have I been doing since I lost to Christopher America in England? That’s a story for another time. The most important thing is, by now, everyone knows I returned… commandeered an SUV ordered by Lee Best’s goons, beat the shit outta the real driver (that was fun, btw), hopped in the driver’s seat and patiently waited. Waited. Waited. Jesus tap dancing Christ they took forever leaving the arena. Oh yeah, there was also the banana peel Mario Kart reference. I’m such a clever little guy.
Anyway, EVENTUALLY I jumped those clowns. I got them good. I wasn’t a total prick though, I unpacked their bags from the back of the SUV. I mean what am I gonna do, steal #97? I’ll have a chance to take that back officially at WarGames if I play correctly.
So after the fun reveal, I’m aware I’ve awoken the anger in Lee Best. I was drafted to Mike Best’s team and now I have to watch THE SON disembowel half of my group in HOFC. Let’s knock down our team both physically and mentally before Mexico, because that makes sense. And here I am in my own personal hell, too. America and Ward in tag team action. Honestly though… no issues there.
But I team with Clay.
I see what you’re doing here, Lee.
I’m above it. I won’t fall down the trap of utter destruction.
Two months ago I swore I’d never be Clay’s friend. We had drawn a line in the sand where we had gone on for far too long as enemies. If we couldn’t coexist last year, how the hell are we gonna do it when we’re on different WarGames teams this year?
Yeah, Imma man-up. Power-up, if you will. As I sit here, in the same SUV I took over, parked in an empty lot, cell phone in hand as I see the press release for Chaos 28, I’m gonna do something I should’ve done a long time ago.
Apologize to the angry Texan.
I have enough humility for that, right? I better.
“It’s decided,” I think out loud to myself. “Clay and Conor will coexist for one night only. No problems between the two of them whatsoever. Let’s get ‘er done!”
Placing my cell phone down on the passenger seat, I slowly drive out of the parking lot. I’ve got to return this rental, go to my hotel and take it from there. Easy.
— — — — —
April 10 – Anytime during the day.
“We got it rolling?”
My hulking henchman, The Game Boy, merely nods to me as he fidgets with the recording buttons.
I’m in my hotel room. We’ve got a real vintage camera set up (in case you want to know it’s a badass Sony Alpha a7R II with vello grip, complete with six batteries since those things drain like a bitch on speed, three chargers as a back-up in case those batteries don’t work, and it should, at best, provide me with upwards of 14,000+ shots on the mechanical shutter – because you know a video camera are pictures, right? It’s not really taking active footage, it’s taking pictures. Duh. Sorry, totally rambling. Like I’m not just vintage with video games, I’m vintage all the way through, baby).
It took a while to set this thing up. I was gonna go full blown Super 8 but thought otherwise.
“Okay, we’re rolling,” I believe The Game Boy would say these words, if, in fact, Game Boy spoke a word. He’s a mute freak for good reason.
I stand front and center. I’ve only got one take of this because you can’t rewrite the footage and I am not gonna spend a fortune on any more film. That shit is expensive and Lee isn’t paying me enough so I should probs befriend that shitface owner or leap into his Hall of Fame and then he can pay me on a per-appearance basis similar to how he was gonna pay that moronic best friend of Mike’s, Cecilworth, who I retired for the record until I heard he showed up in PRIME and-
Why do I stall? Guess I really, really don’t want to do this.
I look at The Game Boy. He’s positioned behind the camera and he has it rolling.
Fine. Fuck it.
“SWALLOW MY PRIDE!” Jesus. FFS. Did I say this out loud?
No turning back now.
“Okay, hi. Hi, Clay. It’s-a-me, Conor Fuse! Have you seen the new Super Mario Bros. movie yet? I have. Wow, what a spectacular, delectable event that was, eh? Honestly, it was a little too video-game-referencey for me but I won’t give any spoilers since you don’t seem like the kinda guy who would go there opening night. Or at all. God dammit. Okay. PAUSE.”
Game Boy pauses the video recording. I figure I only have three to four minutes worth of actual good footage I can provide and even then, ten or so seconds of Clay’s uninterrupted attention lol.
“Why am I doing this?” I ask The Game Boy. He simply stands there with his right finger almost poking into the record button but he won’t press it without my command. “Right. I’m putting aside our issues.”
My eyes wander the hotel room. I’m not really used to spaces such as this. For the past six months I’ve been traveling directly to and from the airport, not staying in the cities where Chaos is booked. I’ve grown accustomed to the dungeon walls deep within the Dearness Living Community. But I’m not doing that anymore. Never again.
“Roll it!” I shout to The Game Boy and he presses the button.
“Hello, Clay! It’s me, your new best friend, Conor Fuse! NOW, don’t touch that dial,” I have to move quickly. I hope he’s still watching the video at this point in time because I’m about to dive into the good stuff. “I’m sorry, bro. I am. For everything. We both want the same shit, let’s be real – to become World Champion and we both don’t wanna be held down by Lee Best. I know what you’ve been through and I know it sucks. I also know you likely want to punch me in the head so that’s why I come to you via video recording. Ha. This Sunday, I promise you I will be on YOUR side and I will do whatever it takes to pull out the victory for US. We’re not best buddies, we’ll never be, I get it. But what we can be, for one night only, is a decent tag team. Your friends have come and gone… my friends have done the same. If we take care of business, maybe it’ll end up being you and I at the end of WarGames. A fair, honest fight inside a cage where no one else can intervene. I’m willing to do it. Christ, I WANT to do it.”
I see Game Boy give me the signal. Got about half a minute of footage available to shoot.
“It has to start this Sunday. Let’s mop the floor with The Final Alliance and go from there. No big deal about our past. I’ve always looked at it like we wanted the same things and I have absolutely no issue. Also, I hope you enjoyed this vintage video I put together. Ehhhhh, I hope you have a VHS player.”
The footage is done and I finished right on time.
“Yeah, there’s no way he entertains this trash,” I mention to Game Boy, as I stroll over and take the camera off the tripod. “Regardless, I’ll spin this film onto a VHS tape in no time.”
Then it hits me. Not only do I wonder if Clay has a tape player… but I don’t have the guy’s mailing address, either.
“He’s in Texas somewhere, right?” I ask The Game Boy and he shrugs his shoulders. “I mean how many Clay Byrd’s are out there? He’s gotta be listed in the phone book.”
I say this realizing there is no such thing as phone books anymore but I’m sure I can look him up online.
That only gives me his phone number, though.
“Hmmmmmmm,” I carefully take the roll of film from out of the camera. “I hope Clay appreciates how cool this footage will look. Then again maybe I should’ve gone with the 16mm Arriflex camera. You wanna talk about expensive AND vintage? That shit is right up my alley!”
I pat The Game Boy on the head as he takes down the tripod and puts away the camera. I’ll transfer the film over tonight with my other gadgets and then mail this to Clay, somehow, someway. I hope he can tell I’m being honest. No fucks given. In fact, zero fucks given about our past. I may be stuck in the vintage times with cameras, video games and everything else but after spending a month on the sidelines, the new and improved Conor Fuse had additional time to think. I didn’t need to imprison myself to contemplate life, either.
Fresh start; clean slate. I ain’t about to go around pissing off people who could help.
I have a cool, straight-shot to the final boss and I’m gonna snatch what’s mine. Then I fix the wrongs I made. As mentioned, a new beginning. It started when I fooled those nimrods into my SUV. It’ll really kick off when Clay and I defeat the World Champion and the returning legend in tag team action.
“Okay, Clay,” I clutch the film in my palms. “Now it’s up to you to meet me halfway.”
— — — — —
Hey boys, what’s shaking? More specifically, what’s up champ and the returning hero who’s now on the darkside? You fuckboys like what I did to ya last week? You think Imma lie down and bow out as if I should take March to Glory as the defeat of my life?
Never, and I mean EVER confuse a single defeat for a final defeat. It was only a matter of time before Conor Fuse was finally pinned (though I never did, technically, get pinned. I also didn’t, technically, tap out either). It took over a year and a half since I lost a one-on-one match.
And I lost. Make no mistake. A couple months ago I got caught into a bitching war with America, re: I complained about how he cheated to defeat me at WarGames and I could, potentially, take that same approach here.
No. I refuse.
I don’t care if it’s clean or not. I’m willing to accept where things stand.
Yet you will not FINISH ME. /Mortal Kombat
I’ll pop my shoulder into its socket. I’ll rehab my hands after Mike Best nails them to a cross in my literal crucifixion. I’ll hop up, throw a few MOAR quarters in the machine and start at Level One all over again if I have to.
I live for this.
I want the chase.
So, boys, the last thing I’ll do is step away. You can blindside attack me and force me out of action. The key word is FORCE me outta action.
Because I’m coming back.
HELLO dipshits, I’m here!
Of course, I’ve learned my actions come with consequences. Jump a couple of unsuspecting patrons in the backseat of an SUV, equals being “fed” to them on the next Chaos show.
Hell, let’s throw Conor a partner for good measure and let’s not have it be the two or three people Fuse actually pals along with! No Bobbinette, Jatt or Zion here. Let’s give him the disgruntled cowboy.
I will walk to the center of the ring with zero animosity towards Clay. I don’t care what the past brought us because I’m all presently focused right now. I refuse to get caught in the trap of letting go… because I have seen it happen so often, to so many people. I’ve witnessed wrestlers who could actually help each other be unable to look past issues they cannot change. I can’t fix last year’s WarGames.
But I can fix this one.
In 2022, Conor Fuse was the man with the ultimate target on his back. After all, that’s what being World Champion will do to you. In 2021, I watched Cancer Jiles fucking crumble and meltdown because he wasn’t able to do jack shit. He allowed those laser pointers to find the target on his back and he stood still. Therefore, he was blasted to hell, or PRIME. LOL PRIME kinda sounds like hell with Lindsay in charge.
I digress. In 2022, Conor Fuse tried to run and jump and make everyone miss their marks to the best of his abilities.
Now there is a new target. So in 2023… WTF are you gonna do, Chris?
I’ll tell ya what ya won’t be able to do, bud. And that’s fuck with my focus. I’m hellbent on seeking revenge.
The truth of the matter is…
I don’t need to win the title to do it.
From now on, I work a step ahead. Hence Conor Fuse is the driver in the SUV. This week, you’ll see a united front between Clay and Conor. On my end, the history I’ve had with the Texan is a wash.
On his end…
Well, you know what, I’ve never had a question about Clay’s character. Our differences were circumstantial. Pushed upon us. Now, however, we have a common enemy unlike before.
You will go down on Sunday.
And Ward, buddy, pal. I got a lot to say to you, too. I’m saving most of it for another time but let me be clear. I’ve been meaning to ask you…
Do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into?
It’s a legitimate question, Evan. It’s great that you resurfaced. Amazing. Awesome. So neat and terrific. As you can tell, I’m a real vintage fan so if Lee wants to dangle a guy from the past in my face… fuck, I get all tingly thinking about it.
But this isn’t 2013. HOW is at the highest level. Over the past two years I’ve seen real, honest talent walk the fuck away because they couldn’t hack it. They recognized they signed up for something that was, pardon the pun, a pipe dream.
Most of the veterans that return like the IDEA of wrestling… they just don’t wanna put the work into it. In other words, it’s cool on paper but asked to press buttons on a controller? Fucking pass.
Sure, one match is nothing to worry about. Two or three, NBD either. Come talk to me when it’s WarGames time. Or Rumble at the Rock.
Or ICONIC, if you last that long.
Fuck buddy, I’ll do you one better. With the proverbial internet frothing at the mouth from the prospect of a Conor Fuse vs. Evan Ward “fight forever” battle, I’m willing to go all the way and tell you come ICONIC 2023, I’ll go to war with you one-on-one at the biggest stage ever.
Godspeed if you make it there.
So you’ve won a WarGames, bravo. Standing ovation for you. Yay, yay, yay. I’ve won two world titles myself and I’ve been the last one standing in back-to-back years of WarGames, literally going coast-to-coast in last year’s event. What does that do for me NOW, Evan?
So please, by all means, inject yourself into my world. In many ways, you already have. You can also do further damage to me if you so desire. I welcome it; I love that shit. Blood on our hands, bro. Put me in the hospital. Make me drink outta a straw.
Can’t keep me down. Like the Terminator, I’ll be back.
Just don’t forget to tell me how you’re holding up over the summer, or when Bobby Dean returns for his brief HOW tour where he reminds everyone he’s actually a solid fucking wrestler and he defeats you before vanishing off into the distance for the 97th time. Don’t forget to tell me how you’ll pass those boring spring months being Christopher America’s lackey while trying to build your way up to former relevance. It’s great the old guard is excited for your return and it tickles me fucking pink you’re vintage enough to be a significant battle I can sink my teeth into.
But I ain’t hanging my hopes and dreams on Evan Ward until I see you have the stamina it takes to HANG ON in the new and improved High Octane.
Like I said, it isn’t 2013. It’s ten fucking year’s later, bro. You’re ten years slower, ten years older, ten years closer to death.
Nice little rookie story, being the good guy, being the hero.
What are you now?
It’s not rhetorical. Tell me. Speak to me in the middle of that fucking ring when my back ISN’T turned and I don’t have to keep my head on swivel. Are you the same Evan Ward that shot through the !RANKS and won absolutely everything there was to offer? …Or has that time passed you by and it’s an ideal but unrealistic representation?
I’ll be waiting.
Scratch that, Clay AND I will be waiting.
‘Cause I’m the real good guy here, Evan. I heard back then you liked to do the noble thing. Obviously, that changed.
I’ll show you who vintage Evan Ward is.
After all, I’m willing to put aside a true blood rival feud so I can receive the opportunity to beat the piss outta you and America. If I’m willing to befriend an enemy and allow Clay and I to move in a positive direction… I think I’m intent on pounding your face in.
Step inside the squared circle. We’ll see if you have enough energy left to even make it to WarGames, let alone ICONIC.
I won’t hold my breath.