April 3, 2022
Slamming the exit door on my way out of the Best Arena, I am in no mood for a post match celebration. My three month reign with #97 continues due to a successful title defense mere moments ago, but as I storm through the parking lot, wanting to distance myself from this place as quickly as possible, it doesn’t feel like I’m walking out on top. In fact, I’d say it’s the exact opposite. This could have been my biggest test yet, against my toughest opponent to date. With no disrespect to Scott Stevens, this was a match where half of Vegas laid money down on the champion and the other half, the challenger. It was a battle. A war. Exactly what I signed up for when I joined High Octane. The angry, disgruntled giant, who had been provoked and pushed to the brink of insanity, against the righteous do-gooder, the video game kid, the flashy, balls to the walls champion, who recklessly tosses his body through all four corners of the ring and then some. The new poster-boy of High Octane, the heart and soul of the company… or at least that’s what I wanted this match to become.
It ended as something entirely different.
I let out a scream, a shout, a cry for mercy within the whirlwind of my mind. I am not happy. My heart rockets out of my chest, my fists are clenched and ready to knock over the first thing that gets in my way. He was right, you know. My opponent said they’d get involved and they did. The Best Alliance… The Board… whatever they’re called. They stuck their nose into Conor Fuse vs. Clay Byrd like they didn’t give AF about either of us.
I didn’t see it happen until after the match.
Nobody will believe it.
Tonight I walked into the Best Arena, placing my World Championship on the line against Clay Byrd. It was an opportunity to show everyone what kind of champion I have become. It was a real chance to shut my critics up, that I, Conor Fuse, can hang with anyone, at any time, under any circumstances. Perhaps these critics should’ve realized I was the real deal when I powered past Cecilworth Farthington, Jeffrey James Roberts and the aforementioned Clay Byrd all in one cold December night a short time ago, becoming a two-time world champion but in the wrestling world, people forget fast and minds change in an instant. It’s my job to continue to hammer home the truth.
I am legitimate. 24/7.
As I furiously leave the Best Arena, I don’t feel like I can make a claim to any of this. Conor Fuse did not lay out Clay Byrd on his own. The narrative is ruined. Destroyed. Deleted.
I promised Clay a fair fight and I didn’t deliver. Although it’s not exactly like I can control the situation, either. A grounded and composed Conor Fuse would tell myself I had no ability to stop The Board from fucking around in our match.
But I am not grounded right now and I am definitely not composed.
Reaching the end of the parking garage, I see my car from the corner of my eyes. However, with the state I find myself in, I realize I’m in no condition to get behind a steering wheel. For however long it will take me, I’ll walk back to the Dearness Living Center because I’m going to need to cool down… significantly.
I swear I didn’t see Christopher America slip into the ring and level Clay Byrd. I swear I would’ve handled things differently if I did.
Only after the match was over and Clay took his frustrations out on me, did I sluggishly walk to the back and demand to see replays.
Then I saw the truth.
I get it. I can understand Clay’s frustrations. He didn’t get the fair fight he wanted…
But it wasn’t like The Board was only messing with him, either. It’s not like America only tried to screw Clay over. I got tripped up, too. I got taken down. The Board didn’t care what happened in our match. They only wanted… chaos.
It pisses me off. It grinds my gears. And not for the reasons one would think.
I do not like Clay. That asshole lied to me… he said he wanted to be my friend and then he clubbed me in the back with his broken arm. He’s said a lot of things in HOW. Mostly complaining. He wines. Bitches. Moans. Yeah dude, it’s not cool to have Mike Best fuck you around but suck it up, recognize what’s within your control, realize you’re a mammoth, physical specimen and clothesline his head off or die trying like the rest of us.
Clay had the audacity to look past me in our title match. He spent his air time obsessed with The Board and not focusing on Conor Fuse. Sure, they got involved.
I was still his opponent. I should’ve been his focus.
I felt disrespected. Slighted. Overlooked.
“Prick,” I mumble to myself while I exit the parking garage, lowering my head and power-walking my frustrations out. I wasn’t born with the physical gifts the Texan was given. I don’t have his size, strength or ability to end the match in one blow. I’ve had to work for everything I’ve received. I’m a skinny, pale, borderline malnutritioned athlete. My aerial abilities didn’t happen overnight, I had to fine tune everything. Christ, the ‘Last Level’ Conor Fuse didn’t happen immediately. Meanwhile Clay Byrd is main eventing matches in less than a year after joining HOW.
I wanted this victory to be clean.
Because the funny thing is, despite the pros I’ve said about Clay, I know I’m the better wrestler, the better man. I’m more focused, skilled and ultimately… I want it more. I have always wanted it more.
Now he has an excuse for his loss and also the belief I could’ve had something to do with this clusterfuck outcome. No doubt he will complain more moving forward.
“Chill out, man,” I say to myself as I continue to walk down the street. To be honest, I’m not feeling any better, although I keep telling myself to relax. “There will be another day.”
There better be… or else this anger will continue to mount. It’s not even because Clay deserved a fair fight. He hasn’t deserved anything after the way he’s treated me.
I just wanted a definitive win.
For now, it’ll have to wait.
— — — — —
Hey Clay, you pigshit sloth, I hate your fucking guts. How have ya been?
This time our match is going to be different although I still can’t wait to hear what bullshit excuse you’ll come up with after I pin your shoulders to the mat this time, too.
Yes, you were right. The Board got involved the last time we fought each other. And yes, you had every right to be a little salty. If our roles were reversed, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been thrilled. And yet, I also wouldn’t have made a big deal about it, either. Within a day, I’d have sucked it up and moved on. I’d have asked myself WHAT’S NEXT instead of being fixated on something I can’t go back and erase. Live in the present, instead of the past. It’s what winners do. Gamer Code 101. I’d have dealt with my frustrations on my own time and then simply moved forward.
I guess that’s a major difference between you and I. Over the past year I’ve gotten to know you a lot better and I’ve realized you’re just a miserable, fuckstick schmuck who will complain about everything. You’re a massive, oversized crybaby who has long outlived his welcome at the top of the High Octane levels and I can’t wait to knock you down a couple pegs, hopefully for good. While you failed to realize the World Title opportunity that laid in front of you the last time we wrestled, you also failed to work together when we stepped into WarGames on the same team. This is where I finally figured out it doesn’t matter what happens to you, Clay. You’re a shithead, useless Texan, who has no ability to see the opportunities in front of you and make the best of them. Because regardless of what happened between our World Title battle at Refueled, you still had WarGames. You still drafted your team. Plus you had mine. And me, the World Champion, fighting on YOUR side.
But for two months straight… the only thing Clay Byrd accomplished was complaining about my drafting abilities and further complaining how unfair WarGames was structured for “the good guys”.
I never complained about your draft picks. In fact, I welcomed them. Whatever the fuck you wanted to do, whomever the hell you wanted to take. Even if they weren’t the next wrestlers on my list, they were the next on yours and I was totally cool with that.
I didn’t give a flying fuck Lee Best tried to rig the draft for his family, either. Of course he would try rigging it, he runs the bloody company. He hates us. If I wanted to sign up on Easy Mode I would’ve joined the Best Alliance a long time ago. I’d have become the Best Boy Simp.
Shit man, by merely standing on the opposite side of the boss you are WELCOMING a world of fuckery coming your way. I know this. How thick is your god damn skull? Because as we continued to try coexisting over the WarGames team, you couldn’t stop running your mouth.
“Arthur Pleasant was a dumb choice,” says a dejected Clay Byrd. “Why are we stuck with Darin Zion!?”
First off, Pleasant was the current LSD Champion at the time and second, Darin Zion is always a 100% committed High Octane guy.
It’s like why would PRIME sign Darin Zion?
Because he always gives his best, that’s why.
Every single second and every god damn fumbling word out of your Texas sized mouth was nothing positive whatsoever. Clay puffs out his chest and claims he, and only he, has the right answers.
I’m tired of clarifying this but I was the World Champion. Not you. Therefore, it was MY World Title to lose. Not yours. How is this difficult to understand? Are we in preschool? I deserved to make decisions ALONG with you and I was willing to put our differences aside.
WarGames was a gauntlet. Often unfair but never unmatched. There’s something to be said when you can overcome extreme odds, in the face of everyone doubting you… when you can last from bell-to-bell, be the opening man in WarGames and make it to the absolute, bitter end…
It’s enthralling. Exhilarating. It’s what I live for.
I’m Mission: Impossible, mother fucker.
I guess this is something you can’t grasp since you’ve never achieved the highest accolades.
I didn’t complain I had to team with Harrison or Solex. They are clearly not my favourite guys but it doesn’t matter to me. Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared if Darin Zion found fifteen other multiverse versions of himself to join our team. I’d have zipped my mouth shut and done what I could to survive. That’s what I do. End of the day I am concerned with myself. Conor Fuse worries about Conor Fuse.
You worry about everyone other than Clay Byrd.
Results show it.
I made it to the end of WarGames but lost my World Championship by my own hand. And you? You fumbled your way through and bowed out somewhere in the middle. I dunno, it was hard paying attention to WTF you were doing. You basically mailed it in. Your whole team did. As I, trying to be a decent guy, rallying the troops when I begged us all to ban together and be on the same page for ONE NIGHT.
One fucking night, Clay.
You couldn’t do it.
Then again you barely showed up to television over that period.
But hey Imma go down on your level for a brief moment here and speak facts. You think you’re such a swell little drafter? You think you can judge talent so well? Let’s see how amazing those Highwaymen did over the period they were together.
Steve Solex, lost at the hands of Christopher America.
Steve Harrison, lost at the hands of Christopher America.
Joe Bergman, couldn’t even make it one step towards Christopher America, thanks to yours truly.
And you, Clay Byrd, lost to Christopher America.
What? You got another excuse for that loss? Big deal Dan Ryan was the cameraman. I lost my World Title because of interference too, bro. Shit happens when you wrestle, particularly in Lee Best’s playhouse.
So step aside, big man. Imma show you how it’s done.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re good. Awfully talented. But you’ve been moping around at the top of this tier for a year and a half now and you’ve yet to win the big one.
News flash: It ain’t happening.
Go wrestle Dan Ryan. Fight him in front of his 32857373297 children while I move onto the real individual I have a bone to pick with and a man who won’t waste my time moaning. He’s a champion for a reason. He knows how to channel his energy.
And I know how to channel my energy. It’s in the ring, it’s what I live for. I care not about what happens to me before or after the bell. FFS, sometimes even during the bell. It’s moot, it’s meaningless. As long as I’m wrestling as the legal participant, I will always have an opportunity in front of me… and if I do make it to Christopher America, he can be spotted any advantage Lee Best wants to give him, I won’t complain.
Tie both hands behind my back? Sure.
Blindfold myself? No problem.
Spot America a couple pinfalls beforehand in a best-of-seven? Whatever helps him sleep at night.
Bottomline, I’ll do what I always do…
Shut my mouth and wrestle my heart out. In the end, no excuses.
So here it is, Clay. Here’s your moment to do the same. To step up and be a decent opponent. Opportunities come and go and now you have another one, against one of your rivals and someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with.
I’m here to tell you the outcome will be the same, though.
You’re bigger than me, I’m faster than you.
You’re stronger than me, I’m tougher than you.
You’re stupider than me, self explanatory.
I’m on a defcon five over here. You’re the only man standing between me and my own redemption, a story I haven’t even had the opportunity to receive yet while I’ve sat on the sidelines (and quietly I might add), watching your entire group FAIL at their own chances to win.
I have said nothing. Not one word. Zero complaints. Simply watched each and every one of you succumb to the last level. I didn’t bat an eye or give AF. I did my own thing… waiting… knowing… MY chance would come eventually.
And I’d be ready when it did.
Everyone’s well aware by now what my accolades are. But I’m gonna point out one new developing trend. When I am this motivated… when I am this pissed off… I’m a whole different animal, Clay. I don’t just defeat you.
I make you contemplate the meaning of life.
I made Stronk Godson’s heart stop.
I scared away Cecilworth Farthington.
And my newest achievement… it might be my crowning moment to date…
I took Steve Harrison, a man who thought for the past three years he was MY equal, and I slapped him a dose of reality.
Not even fucking close.
I sobered him straight. He’s not anywhere close to Conor Fuse. I crushed his soul, I buried his confidence. I demoralized him so hard he could barely walk into this tournament, proceeding to get his ass fed to him by Jatt Starr.
You might never see your friend again, Clay.
I want you to know I did that.
Solex walked out on your team because he didn’t want to do it anymore but Harrison walked out on your group because I made sure he got the sads.
And now, you’re in luck. I’m feeling like I have just enough energy left to do the same to you, BB. Imma Head Stomp you so hard, Super Splash you with all my might… you’re gonna realize your next World Championship opportunity is far, farrrr down the road. No matter your size and skill… no matter how physically imposing you might be…
I want it more.
Always have, always will.
You go right back to where you belong. Not World Championship caliber, not main event talent.
And Clay, until you can suck up your losses like a man and start taking some ownership and responsibility for your own choices, it’ll forever be like this.
Although deep down inside, I hope you will still have the confidence to carry on after I defeat you.
After all, Harrison didn’t.
— — — — —
“I don’t need counselling,” I say with a snap. “This whole thing is fucking stupid.”
I killed a guy. Scratch that, thought I killed a guy. Clearly he’s alive and well now, even wrestling again so the world is normal. I’ve dealt with my demons and I have a golden ticket in front of me to finally face off against Christopher America.
…If I defeat Clay Byrd that is.
“She’s forcing me to go to counselling and open up about my feelings, what a shit load of fuck,” I state coldly as a rage slowly trickles down my spine. I tense up, my shoulders tighten. My neck is straight and upright. My eyes, if I could shoot lasers through them, I would burn whatever’s in my path.
Counselling makes no sense. And why? Why is Bobbinette asking me to go to therapy?
Because I’m locked away, right here, in the middle of this homemade cell I constructed over four months ago. That’s why.
Well a little news flash for her or anyone else wondering… why I stay here isn’t because “I’ve gone crazy”. Exact opposite. I have a clear mind. One-track focus. The cell is helping me channel my inner rage. I can conduct the emotions I have going on inside of me and unleash them in the ring.
I think I’m doing pretty good, ATM.
One victory away from the chance at reclaiming what was mine to begin with.
Two weeks ago I sulked in this prison and had Joe Bergman on my mind. He was the ONLY focus. I’ll admit, it was a lot harder to hate Joe, let me tell you. He was the one Highwayman I didn’t have a reason to detest. If I’m being honest, I respect the guy a great deal.
Now, however, it’s easy. Real easy. Clay Byrd.
He talked down to me.
He didn’t listen to me.
He failed our team.
And he gets another shot at the World Championship before me?
“HELL NO HE DOESN’T!” I snap. “It’s my turn! I’m next in line! I have a right to 97! GIVE ME THE CHANCE!!!!”
I see dancing Texas Lariats swirling around my head. I see the one that hit me after I defeated him at Refueled. I see the one that blindsided me when his arm was in a cast.
I see others, too. Random Texas Lariats.
My heart pounds.
My teeth chatter.
I can’t wait to get my hands on him.
“I don’t need therapy, I need a fucking World Title opportunity!” I bellow down the hallway, knowing nobody can hear me, other than myself.
I am not emerging from this place until I get my chance. I will walk into Chaos and then return to these dungeon walls.
…Well, other than the stupid counselling sessions Bobbie is asking me to attend, in order to appease her.
Everything is going my way. I will do whatever it takes to defeat Clay in the center of the ring next week. It’s all on the line.
I can feel it. I know these walls welcome me. They are giving me power to feed from.
By the best of my ability I will ensure Clay has no excuses after this match in our rivalry.
The bell rings.
Conor Fuse stands tall.
No outs. No cheating. An honest, well fought victory.
That’s why I’m here. It’s why I sit on this cold cement floor in the corner of the boiler room and eat three brutally stale, square prison meals a day.
Wins and losses have become my lifeblood. I have to make it back to the top. I am defined by my success in High Octane. This is the game I play.
Sunday will end definitively.
I swear it.