Jatt, I’d say you and I are destined to do this forever but you’re old and you’ll probably die soon.
From the moment I met you, almost one year ago, it’s been a puzzling relationship. You emulated me, called yourself The HOW Classic and changed Hugo’s name to The Switch. I was furious, then flattered. Video games are fun.
We meshed over a Nintendo VR system. Wrestled at Rumble at the Rock. You even guest refereed my first championship contest for the ICON Title against my upcoming tag partner, Dan Ryan.
Play this Game for a while and you can weave in and out of some interesting storylines. The second you cracked my head against the cement floor in Alcatraz, I heard the coagulated cries of inmates demanding “more!” Blood seeping from my skull, I watched in third person as The Vintage’s true inauguration stalled and I haven’t been able to scratch your data from my memory card since.
To say I’m bitter would be the wrong narrative. I’m not bitter. Far from it, in fact. Lindsay, Teddy, Zeb, Dan, they hate you… but you know this. They’re frothing at the mouth with thoughts of ending you once and for all.
Not me. Hate is such a strong word.
I don’t hate. I don’t want revenge. I just want my phone call.
See Jatt, unlike the others, I am captivated by you. You’re clever, funny, witty and accomplished. You’re Hall of Fame and that accounts for something in my gaming manual, regardless of what other BOTS and Bosses currently wrestle in this system. The Best of the BA, Jatt Starr.
But then I look at your face. I’m holding your mug shot in front of me. Maybe my 214 brethren are a bad influence on me because I wanna stab your eyes out.
With a pen.
Stab and pull.
And then smash them with a console.
Next, I’d bend you over and rip out your colostomy bag. You’ve gotta have one, right? My grandpa does, most elders do.
Finally, I’d tear you limb from limb, so you are nothing more than a floating Futurama head. Glass jar. Put you on my shelf.
None of this is because I hate you. Dude, I fucking love you. I want you to retire so I can wheelbarrow you into an old folks home. I can visit. We’ll play chess, talk about times past, walk on eggshells regarding the nobility of politicians, divulge in the latest sports trends (are you into the new wave baseball statistics like I am or are you a traditionalist?). Hell, I might even treat you to Country Kitchen Buffet one morning if I wake up early enough.
I typically don’t rise until 8am. That might be a little late for you.
And I want to do all these things with you before you develop Alzheimer’s. With the beatings you’ve taken recently, we don’t have much time.
You are everything I strive to be and more. You’ve recklessly driven to the ring in a golf cart. I once traveled to the ring in a Segway. You’d enjoy them. They’re much easier on the legs than you’d think; all ya gotta do is stand there. You would absolutely rock a Segway.
Jatt Starr, my first real opponent in HOW. Not Erin Gordon, she doesn’t count. Not Eric Dane, he wouldn’t wrestle me because I tOO SiLLy.
I’ll show everyone how silly I am. And then this wolf in sheep’s clothing will hit you with a Fatality.
But to think that you, Jatt “Moto,” hand picked ME upon your triumphant return. Jatt, the man who’s seen it all. The stories you could tell. The fun we could’ve had together. It makes a lot of sense why you wandered The Vintage’s way.
Nevertheless, we are on opposite sides, my special friend. You are with them.
That’s not why I requested to be in this tag bout. I requested it because times are different. A year changes a lot.
A year changes too much.
And I don’t like it.
The Jatt Starr of today is not the Jatt Starr of 2020 when he won the LSD Championship and I may (or may not) have privately been cheering for him.
Hey, wha’ happened? Lost the LSD and Tag Team Titles in the span of a week.
Some would say you’re over the hill. I would say you’ve jumped the game shark.
Jatt Fading Starr.
I know, I know. At least I didn’t make a joke about Segway weight restrictions. I’m above the low hanging fruit, I’m not Donkey Kong.
It really boils down to this:
I. Don’t. Like. This. Jatt.
It’s like watching your favourite athlete crumble in the twilight of his career. Hello, Albert Pujols, my name is Conor Fuse.
Please bat above the Mendoza Line, my friend. Please don’t have a 1:4 TD:INT ratio.
You’re the Vinny Testaverde of HOW.
Age is crippling. And right now it is crippling me watching you.
So as a result, I’m gonna have to take things into my own hands.
You can out wrestle me from a technical standpoint, sure, but come find me scaling the cage. Come play monkey bars with me as we hang from the roof. That delicate body of yours can’t take this match. If you haven’t booked hip replacement surgery yet you sure as shit will when this is over.
Shady Lee Anchors, do you have any openings? Because I have a special comrade I hope to put out to pasture. He means a lot to me, treat him well. I never dreamed of things ending this way.
Now, about that phone call…
October 25, 2020
“My mom says you can always find out someone’s true colors when they don’t get what they want…” I say into my cell phone, reciting a go-to line I heard as a child.
I figured this would be my narrative. High Octane wasn’t going to come easy. My first pay-per-view match and I blew it. I did kick out directly after the three.
The person on the other end of the line is replying but I’m not paying attention.
“Listen, is it possible? I have spent the past twenty-four hours knowing he and I are going to meet over and over. He’s too captivating. I need it. I WANT IT.”
My Game Boy stands beside me. My looming henchman and mini boss. I will have to let him go soon. He’ll be restricted to guest appearances only because where I’m going next, I have to go alone.
“Yes, I can be there tomorrow at 8am sharp and I’ll bring the proper documentation.”
Looking over at Alcatraz, which hosted Rumble at the Rock the night before, I’m able to take a deep breath, then exhale calmly.
“Checking myself into a rehabilitation facility, friend,” I tell my Game Boy. “Might be away for a while.”
… … …
October 26, 2020
The reception desk is off to the right, you can’t miss it. Large, circular oak table, running from the front of the room to the back. Inspirational posters line the walls but I’m too focused on the task at hand to read them.
“Hello,” I address the woman behind the table. “I’m Conor Fuse and I’m here for my check-in.”
The middle-aged receptionist has ratty blonde hair and heavy bags under her eyes. I can relate, it’s got to be difficult being around this type of clientele. Putting the phone down, she doesn’t look thrilled to engage in another conversation so quickly. She looks me over, head to toe, unimpressed. I tried my best to clean up, so I don’t know what her problem is. I’m wearing actual dress pants (blue) and a PING polo golf shirt. Green, of course. No gaming attire, I’m distancing myself from the Discord crowd. Instead, I’m looking sharp. Dapper. Ready to close that business deal, six-figures, maybe even seven. I went to great lengths to slick my hair back and I never touch my hair. I typically let it roam around on its own, fall as it may.
And yet, I’ve expelled all of this effort and the woman is staring at me as if I don’t belong.
Finally, she speaks.
“Check-in?” She says in-between chewing a wad of gum.
“Yes, ma’am. I have many suitcases in my car. I’m ready to go.”
There’s a loooong pause. She doesn’t think I’m serious.
The receptionist lets out a sigh. “And who is it you’re supposed to meet?”
I nod. “Exactly! Rebecca. I was told to be here at 8am.”
A man slowly walks to the exit doors behind me. He’s rickety, shaking profusely and hunched over. I’m surprised he has the energy to make it across the lobby. I’m also a little concerned no one else seems to care this man is leaving under his own free will.
The receptionist redirects my attention. “Are you sure you’re in the right location?”
But before I can reassure her I don’t make mistakes, I’m greeted by a younger woman, around my age, with a tap on the shoulder. “Conor, is it?”
I turn and reply with, “yes, that’s me.”
“Rebecca.” She extends her hand and we shake. She seems rather friendly. “Let me show you around.”
I sneer at the receptionist with sort of a, “see you idiot, I’m in the right spot” expression.
“Follow me. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I scamper behind Rebecca to the entrance doors. She uses her card to swipe us in.
“So this is our first floor, Forest Glen.”
The hall is wide and long. A living room location is off to my left with a large screen television, three couches and a number of moveable chairs. Chairs! Wonder if I can fold them and crack them across someone’s back. There’s a cafeteria to my right, too. Past these amenities, big oak doors line the hallways from both sides. The floor tiles are a marble green and blue, the walls are a dull shade of beige. The smell is delicious, they have to be pumping a lot of air freshener into this place. Cherry Blossom Summer, I know the scent. I have it in my car.
“We have twenty five residents here and wonderful, attentive staff,” she starts. “We have three nurses on call throughout the day and two at night, laundry is taken care of on a daily basis and…”
I nod, slightly. I’m taking it in visually so I’ve spaced out mentally.
“Would you like to see the room?” Rebecca asks me.
As we walk down the hallway, I notice there are nameplates beside each oak door.
“Very nice touch,” I comment softly. Very nice, indeed.
We arrive at the end of the hall and stop in front of an oak door that doesn’t have a nameplate. Rebecca pushes the door back and we walk inside. A bed to the right, a large cabinet to the left and a bathroom beside me. It’s bare bones at the moment but I could make this into a sick gaming pad.
“Wonderful.” I state. I can tell Rebecca is pleased that I’m pleased. “Sign me up!”
Rebecca smiles warmly. “Oh that is excellent. I know you filled out the paperwork already. When will your grandfather be moving in?”
My eyebrow raises. “Grandfather?”
Rebecca points to my hand. “Yes, is that not your grandfather?”
I look down, remembering I have been carrying a picture with me the entire time. I feel myself blushing and I shake my head. “Oh, uhhhh, yes, that’s my grandfather Jatt.”
It’s Jatt’s roster mugshot.
The woman pats me on the shoulder. “I can see the resemblance.”
“Uhhh, thank you, yes. We are similar in looks and personality. But I regret to inform you, he won’t be moving in here yet.”
Rebecca seems confused. “Why is that?”
I lower my head. “He doesn’t think this is the place for him, at the moment.”
The young girl nods. She’s heard this story before. “We get that quite a bit but our focus is on nurturing a real family environment. It’s a frustrating spot you’re in.”
“That’s the thing,” I begin, as I look around the room. “It’s a little unorthodox but I was hoping I could stay here, just on weekends, until the time is right… for my grandfather that is.”
I can see Rebecca is becoming uneasy but she is momentarily interrupted by her intercom. Apparently Jasper randomly walked out the front door without anyone catching him.
“I’m asking for something unprecedented, aren’t I?” I pull her back to our convo. “Dang. I know I’m not the appropriate age but I could make this place a real bright spot. A true destination for the distinguished senior.”
She starts to let me down easily but I interject.
“Rebecca,” I hold my hand out in a pleading gesture, “I’m aware there are regulations but sometimes I don’t feel like I connect with my crowd. I feel more in tune with my grandfather and his friends. Mr. Sektor, Mr. Woodson, Mr. Solex, Mr. Lee. Gosh golly, sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation. I feel so out of touch with people my age that I need to hide behind a computer screen.”
Perhaps I’m getting through. “If you could point me to the correct person, I’d love to convince them. This is for my grandfather, anyway. I love him so much. My staying here would be temporary and he would be more likely to come if I could decorate the room ahead of time…”
I’ve worked Rebecca into a tear.
Damn Conor, you’re better at this than you think.
… … …
October 26, 2020
“And place that bad boy right over there, please and thank you.”
Two Small Men With Big Hearts are a great moving company. They situate my Secretlab OMEGA Stealth 2020 Series Gaming Chair in the middle of the room without hassle, completing the layout of my new bachelor pad. The empty cabinet is now full of video games, VHS trading tapes and comic books. My 64” LCD television is connected to the consoles I need.
“I’m gonna be very happy here.”
I tip the movers a hundred bucks and lounge in my chair. I can’t wait to wander out and meet my roommates.
“Uh, ‘ello there, sonny.”
Or maybe some will come to me.
The man is around 5’2”, rather frail but steady on his feet nonetheless. Looks familiar. “Are you the new resident I’ve heard so much about?”
I laugh. “Word gets around quickly, doesn’t it?”
The elder agrees. “We don’t have much else to talk about here. It’s not everyday someone young moves in.”
“Yes, that’s the thing,” I say as I walk over to the man and place my hand on his back, “I’m feeling a little discriminated against already. I hope someone my age would be welcome.”
I can see the wheels turning in this man’s head. He doesn’t know how to reply, so I place my hand lightly on his back. “I’m just kidding.”
I’ve confused him. He puts a finger to his chin and starts tapping it. As the gears eventually click, he looks back up towards me. “Are you the new resident I’ve heard so much about?”
I wink and smile. “That I am, good sir. The name is Conor.”
“Jasper,” he replies. “What brings you to the Dearness Living Center?”
I walk to my front door. I carefully look around and ensure no one else is nearby. Strolling into my room, I pass Jasper and stretch out on my gaming chair.
“What brings me here, huh? I’ll tell you a quick story, roomie. My grandfather wrestled me a few days ago. And do you know what he did? He told me he emulated me by locking himself in a bunker and playing video games all day. It ended up being the right approach because it got inside my head and he won.”
Jasper listens intently.
“Now it’s MY chance to return the favour, no matter how long I wait! When my name is called to wrestle Jatt- errr my grandfather again, I’ll be ready!” I snap as I take a stand from my chair, working myself up. “And the longer it takes, the more I’ll live here! The more I’ll BE LIKE HIM!”
Jasper smiles and rocks his body back and forth.
“You’re the new resident I’ve heard so much about. Quite the young lad but that’s okay.” Jasper responds.
I pace towards him with passion and give him a hug. This is gonna be a wonderful place for me to work from.
Welcome home, dude. I may stay here forever.
“Getting to know you is one of the ways we’re able to create better care.” – an excerpt from the Dearness Living Center (DLC) brochure.
As a result, greetings, John “Mortal Kombat” Sektor. And you certainly are mortal. I intend to scramble your brains, too. Come pull !RANK on me, I dare ya. I’m a top ten player, single digits. And you? You’re a washed up old timer, like your partner. Dignity and grace have passed you by. Simply taking orders from God now, instead of being one yourself. That’s your true !ranking in this War. Dumb and disposable. Just gotta figure out which one of you is Bebop and which one of you is Rocksteady.
“Duhhh sorry Krang and Shredder we failed again!”
There’s a lot of wrinkly skin walking around the HOW backstage and I intend to purge the system in a match that will allow me to do so.
Drink your prune juice, remember the old days and come finish your career. I’m doing you a favour. How much longer can you throw that body around?
When a Coleco Telstar console predates you, that sure is saying something.
I thought you were untouchable. I thought you were a God. I watched you dissect High Flyer. “You’ve still got it! You’ve still got it!” That chant is so cliche but cliches are true. You beat Dan this week, sure, I’ll give you that. You obviously have something left in you when it wants to come out, when you don’t get cranky and lazy inside the ring. Only so many times you can go to a suplex. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. Try learning some of the wrestling styles of today.
I wanna see that John Sektor tope suicida.
Learn, grow, stop being stagnant. The best wrestlers adapt to the times.
Or you screw up the dive, land on your head and die.
I’m Game either way. Are you?
June 6th is a War and you are not a God anymore. This little scamp is gonna take you out back to the woodshed.
Or my retirement home.
Hall of Famer and the most historical/feared wrestler from yesteryear…
Holding a Second Player’s controller to Jatt.
Say whatever you want about my comments. Tear them apart, don’t validate them, that’s fine. I’d expect nothing less. But I’m right on this one. Don’t believe me? Ask every single person in that locker room, my side and yours, whose name comes first.
No. Not Who’s on First. DAN called you Abbott and Costello, not me. The two of you are more of a Muppet Show. I say Statler and Waldorf.
I digress, the name that comes first in your tag team is JATT STARR. If they tell you any different, they’re lying.
I’ll bring a pair of scissors to the cage. Snip your hands off Jatt’s coat tails and proceed to castrate you. Won’t be getting all gropy with women then, will we?
But don’t worry about it, John. I’ll wheel you out to pasture, too. Jasper just died LOL so the room next to Jatt is free. If you’re feeling super needy, though, I can configure bunk beds for Jatt’s pad. And if that’s not your thing, I can take it a step further.
We’ll check you into a number of additional quality care options while I nurse you back to health.
Suffer an injury at War Games? They have a short-term rehabilitation program on floor two where Dearness Living Center’s highly skilled clinicians/therapists will work with you towards goal recovery. What about the long-term? Good question, I’ll tell ya. While that tope suicida may never happen, the underlying goal of DLC is to help keep your remaining independence in as many ways as possible.
Wednesday, bingo. Thursday, arts and crafts. Friday, karaoke. You can bring Zion in for that one.
And on weekends, a nurse will remind you of your favourite television show, Starrgazing. Well, that’s just what we’ll call it. Our little inside joke, teehee. I typically say Re-Fused, most say Refueled. But for you and Jatt, it’ll be titled Starrgazing.
Sutler Kael. Zeb Martin. Conor Fuse.
A few of the younger names you’ll see. High Octane’s new stars. Perhaps Sutler and I are destined to do this forever, not myself and your Player One.
Either way, you can tune in every weekend to find out.
Social engagements. Special events. Complementary therapies. Maybe they’ll even help you kick the drug habit.
And it’s all so affordable. Lee’s not paying me a lot so if I can live there, you can, too.
I can feel you just RAGING, John. It’s natural to feel that way when you believe your independence is being taken away.
Might I align you with DLC’s core values?
You will never feel like you have nothing left to give.
John, you’re not my main focus but I will still be there for you because you mean the world to my old man.
Jatt, you’re a much different story.
Thank you for seeing something in me. Thank you for the loss. Thank you for the attention.
Now, let me do you the favour of ending your Game. Please. It’ll be better for the both of us.
I want you to live an enriched twilight. You shouldn’t have to worry about Dan Ryan. I want to keep you safe. This isn’t tongue-in-cheek.
I won’t forget you, I won’t move on.
I’ll visit you once a week.
I’ll hold your hand.
I’ll always be there.
Until you die.
And when others rip on you, I’ll defend your name.
“Jatt Starr was a legend.”
“Jatt Starr was a God.”
“Jatt Starr was War.”
“Jatt Starr was High Octane.”
I found you a nice resting spot.
I will make you proud.
I will end this at War Games.
I promise you that.
And there will be no need to thank me.
After all, I owe you one.