Posted on February 18, 2022 at 5:24 pm by Conor Fuse

Seriously, what a fuck load of shit coming from both of you guys.

Jeffrey, quite confident in how things will play out, aren’t we? The punisher, here to inflict his violence and make David and I suffer, as if we failed a test beforehand. Yet there you are, biting flesh, opening wounds, taking lives, a far worse role than anything I’ve done. See, I don’t dislike you. In fact I’ve found your behaviours rather spell bounding. This will be the beginning of a very special bond. You, the remorseless soldier, so righteous in your stance, as if there is one lens to see the world. And I, the virtuous hero, understanding our paths are much more complex.

The moment you arrived in High Octane, escorted to the ring constrained, I instantly took notice. Remove these restrictions, hear the bell and I became fascinated even further. The way you fly through the air, the conviction in your strikes. Seeing you in the finals of the Best Tournament was no surprise. You have achieved more than even the most talented of athletes in such a short period. You’ve made a name for yourself. You are a draw. No doubt, you are a threat. The walls within HOW already beckon your name for blood and trepidation.

And yet, I wonder if these accolades mean anything to you.

After winning the World Championship at ICONIC, I laid awake contemplating… are you even the type of person to seek payback? Would it have mattered who walked out of the O2 Arena with #97? Because win, lose or draw, the next time, the next REAL time I would find myself positioned across from Jeffrey James Roberts, I doubt you’ll come at me with anything less than your endless fury. A few weeks ago you claimed the HOTv Championship was a vital possession, so I would assume adding to your collection would be of significant interest. I can see you haven’t forgotten December 27th, either. No, I’m not gonna directly speak for you. You are a Rubik’s cube for whom I am trying to understand. In a game where we do have real killers on the loose, I understand my limits. I am not born of your world. You, not of mine.

But we are not so different.

You’ve constructed reality through books, and I, through video games. While I cannot begin to understand what your upbringing would have entailed, your means do not justify my ends. Translation: between these four corners, dead center of the ring, everyone can be created equal. Of course most of us aren’t. There’s an important attribute called skill and it will definitely determine hierarchy. Place Buffalo Bill inside the squared circle and he may not escape a well positioned headlock. If you’re looking for someone realistic, John Wayne Gacy carried a heavyweight frame. It’s doubtful he’d have the finesse to keep up with a high flying wrestler at peak performance. See, when the bell tolls and the cameras are on, you and I are on an even ground.

Wrestling is a funny game, isn’t it? It brings out the idiots, the educated, the rookies and the vets, the historical figures who can’t let go. It brings out the marginalized, the ones who would find no home otherwise. The loners, freaks, weirdos and scumbags alike. It also brings out the most dangerous. People who don’t need words to invoke fear. Real horror.

Not from a video game, not from a book.

Many can mouth the saying “I’m gonna kill you”, rarely anybody has the potential to do it.

On Sunday, I will be across from one of them. Maybe two, if trained correctly. I’m well aware of the threats in front of me.

Fans are drawn to the exceptions, the men and women who stand out from a group who already stood out. You and I, Jeffrey, are exceptions from extremely different dimensions.

Sometimes, I wish the game of wrestling would end here but it doesn’t. There’s politics, money and other variables at play. Hell, if you weren’t so captivating with your words, perhaps you’d be on the outside looking in. It’s vital to command attention on the mic. While actions always speak louder, if you couldn’t captivate the ear of the everyman, a Best would simply not employ you.

There’s also the variable of teammates. I will admit, this is an area I thought you would struggle in but you have found the perfect partner.

I’ve just found more.

I hope you understood this concept when you laid on your back and I pinned you. Mario, Simon and David join me, arm-in-arm, to combat the murderers row of athletes High Octane has to offer.

But I’m not that kinda guy, Jeffrey. Believe it or not I had no idea my friends would powerbomb you. Honestly, if they didn’t, were you going to let Arthur Pleasant stand aside? I may be a dumb gaming manchild… but I am not a dummy.

Come this Sunday, David and I will fight you and Arthur in a fair contest. Or, as fair as the four of us are willing to take it. Our paths will cross and with any hope on my end, it will be frequent. ICONIC was a clusterfuck, a bedlam of talent jockeying for the ultimate prize. Our true one-on-one battle will come to a head eventually. For now, however, I look forward to mixing it up with you and your… partner.

I may hold the representation of HOW Champion but you, my dear friend, hold something absolutely paramount.

My long term interest.

You may be God’s weapon, I can Weapon Get God.

Ultimately, you are more than this silly Silence of the Lambs saying. I may poke fun but I will never doubt you. Soon you will learn not to doubt me, either.

Conor Fuse is not a spiritual man but after this Sunday, may God bless you.

May God bless us all.

I believe we are going to need it.

… … … … …

Mackey Arena
Refueled LXXXVII – Post Fuse & Noble def. Missouri Valley Wrestling
West Lafayette, IN
February 13, 2022 – 21:07

Wandering through the backstage hall after a match has its ups and downs. Either I’m berating myself on an error, which likely cost me the W or I give myself kudos… albeit briefly.

Tonight, as Noble and I make our way back to our locker room, I haven’t felt this hyped in a while. You’d think winning the championship would be the highest form of celebration but let’s be honest… I blacked out during my first World Title victory, only to get immediately kneed as my arm was raised. The second taste of #97 left me beaten down, a physical mess where I only had the power to drape a hand on top of my opponent.

No. I’ve started to realize it’s less about the achievements as it is about the Players you surround yourself with. Either those who are at your side, or directly across from you in the ring. This is what keeps me going. It’s not the high score but WHO is at the end of the high score. How can I cash these credits? Who is in front of me next?

Jeffrey James Roberts and Arthur Pleasant, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.

As we know JJR was the man who I put my arm over to collect a second championship achievement. But it wasn’t a match. The bell rang, he was powerbombed by three co-op friends and I won.

Now we will really face off against each other.

And with David by my side, I have a viable player 1B to my player 1A.

“Nice work out there,” I say as we continue down the hall. David told me he signed a short-term HOW contract and he may leave after the tournament is over. I don’t think I can let go of this guy, he’s legit. We’re legit. He had my back against BO and The BOT. If it wasn’t for David’s quick thinking, I’m not sure we would’ve won. Cary’s forearm knocked me down good, old guy be damned.

“Thank you, man,” I smack Noble across the back as we arrive at our locker room. He’s breathing heavily, then again, so am I. Our victory is clear. We receive Devil’s Advocates with everything on the line. I used to believe I was a good tag team partner. High Octane, however, has made me question not only my tag team abilities but me as a person, too. I lost tag matches alongside the 214. While Dan Ryan was neither friend nor foe, he would’ve made the perfect Vintage partner and yet he was on his last legs. He told me outright. Jace, too, was excellent but life happens and as #97, you have to pick up the pieces quickly.

‘Cause everybody’s coming.

This campaign is wide open. I find myself hearing of challengers for the Mario Red strap from every level possible. I get it, I’m not the most dominant champion. Why wouldn’t Bosses & BOTS call me out?

“Still alive, buddy,” I say, collapsing on the bench as David takes a moment to stretch out his right leg. “Your bowling ball splash was brilliant. Well timed, perfectly placed. Knocked the band of misfit toys down.”

The left side of Noble’s face cracks to a smile ever-so-slightly. He doesn’t have to say a word, I can tell he picked it up from watching Roberts and Pleasant’s recent interaction with MVW. And while Noble can’t perform a plancha, it’s an effort like this that reminds me…

This tournament IS as big as the World Championship.

Some would say the comment is crazy. W/E. I pride myself on EVERY campaign.

Gamer’s Code.

Noble takes a seat across from me. He leans his head back on the brick wall and closes his eyes. I want to tell him “don’t leave”. I want to march into M.O.B.’s office and do something I would typically have zero balls to do.

Demand Noble be given a full time contract.

But I get it. I’ve been through this path before. Last summer GL214 banded together and then fled.

“Let’s take this one match at a time, Conor,” I mumble to myself quietly, so David can’t hear. “If you don’t win next week, it’s all over anyway…”

And what a shame this would be.

… … … … …

Ready Player One – Arcade Bar
Detroit, MI
February 17, 2022 – 20:00

“Dude, awesome! Thanks for meeting me,” I exclaim as David finds the bar stool beside me. I can tell he’s out of his element. “Listen, I, uh, used to hit up the local arcade bars with an old HOW teammate. Always felt it ‘got me in the zone’, lol.”

I can also tell David’s a little off guard about how I speak in internet acronyms.

“I’m going to have to get that Google Translate app for you if you keep up with your ‘lols’, ‘wtfs’, ‘bbq’ and other internet lingo,” David begins as he looks around the place. He should be thankful I haven’t gone into the real niche abbreviations like KPC, OMDB and TNTL. “This is… somewhere different than I normally would drink, but I also don’t think I’ll have to worry about getting into a bar fight here.”

Never seen a brawl yet in one of these digs.

I reach into my SNES themed backpack and pull out a notepad. There will be no studying tape tonight. Instead, it’s time to have an intense conversation. Strategy 101.

“Okay, you know this match is serious, I know this match is serious and we both know Jeffrey. He was your HOW opponent…” My voice stops, wondering if I hit a nerve.

“Not a match I want to remember,” David responds, referring to his first ever contest in HOW. Not the way he wanted to come out of a sabbatical from the industry. 

“Yeah, he’s a fucker…” my voice trails, wanting to agree with David. In some ways I do. In others, I am so mesmerized by JJR I like Roberts exactly the way he is. Take a bite out of Dresden, make Darin Zion bleed. Just don’t tell either of them I enjoyed it.

I lean forward, trying to convey a serious tone. “So… we can do this. Your first interaction with Roberts went poorly but he is vulnerable. He’s susceptible because he can’t consider much outside his own reality. While he might be the most serious threat inside High Octane…”

I pause, smile and pat David on the shoulder.

“You’re looking at the most serious threat in the entire game.”

A bold, almost laughable statement, yes. Considering I’ve dragged my partner to an arcade bar, live a life of Nintendo and days ago said I was not a dominant champion… nevertheless, others have underestimated me. Nobody chose The Ultimate Gamer to be a one-time World Champion. I have to create some false beliefs here. Biggest threat: Conor Fuse #97.

I digress. “David, as a guy who flips around the ring myself, I know the faults of our wrestling style. Anybody can see me coming. Want to avoid a shooting star press? Put your legs up. Simple. Roberts is trickier, though. He has significant mental torment. When Jeffrey goes for a moonsault, he wants to land across your throat, not your torso. It’ll take additional maneuvering but we have the power.”

“Don’t worry, Conor. I remember doing the flippy shit as well. Being away from the ring for six years though, you lean on throwing ‘bows and smashing the fuck out of people. Bit easier than knocking off the rust on the ropes,” David responds. “Roberts is trickier because he is a wolf and not masquerading as something he’s not. You either have to equal his intensity or throw him off his game so he’s on his back foot. It’s going to take everything we have and then some.”

I nod in agreement. “You will get my all on Sunday. We’re in an arcade bar, I like video games and I can annoy your face off but I want this victory for you. And for me. And for us, bro.”

“Look, whatever happens on Sunday happens. You can’t blame yourself,” Noble reassures. “All we can do is lay it out there in the ring. I know that’s what I plan to do and I know you well enough by now, you’ll do the same. It’s all I can ask for.”

I nod in agreement for a second time.

“Made some extra notes on Jeffrey and Arthur,” I say, passing along my notebook. “Take a look.” Noble doesn’t need to be asked twice. He glances over my writing while I lean back and contemplate things further.

The wrestling landscape changes drastically. Gone are many of the counterparts I thought I’d battle for years. Jeffrey is the same age as myself and presents an inner demon, which tells me he isn’t going away anytime soon. What Sutler Reynolds-Kael took personally, in a loss to Conor Fuse… Jeffrey James Roberts has attributed to an act of God. Pieces falling into place. Pawns aligned purposefully. Not unlike a platforming video game, this is exactly meant to happen as it should. Level by level. Predetermined progression. Similar to the sacred timeline I believed existed between Mike and I.

If we can do this… if David and I can defeat the Devil’s Advocates, it merely delays Roberts’ hunger to continue to see this story through.

And it also keeps a guy in David Noble within the HOW walls. A guy I’m liking more and more.

A lot on the line this Sunday, beyond a World Championship.

No wonder I’m hyped.

… … … … …

Plattsburgh State Fieldhouse
Post Fuse Bros. Match
Plattsburgh, NY
January 4, 2010 – 20:10

My brother and I walk through the backstage hall, victorious in our first ever tag team match in front of a live audience. Tyler, stoic and subdued as always, marches on ahead. No need to celebrate, we both know there are bigger events on the horizon. A loss would have been crushing. A victory, merely a nudge in the right direction, confirmation we are on the right path.

With all this said, I can’t help but smile. Ear-to-ear, a beaming grin, it’s something I won’t let Tyler see. There’s a reason I’m letting him lead the way and we aren’t side by side.

My mind wanders into the future. Where will this win take us? Will I look back on this moment fondly or will the events of tonight set me up for catastrophic failure?

We enter our locker room, which is more like a broom closet. Two small chairs are situated beside each other. Breathing heavily, Tyler and I take our seats. He leans his head against the brick wall and closes his eyes. Meanwhile, my thoughts race. Move by move, I process the match. What we did right, what we did wrong, how we’ll get better. I have a feeling this deep, analytical approach will do me harm and good down the road.

“Nice work, bro,” I say, using every muscle on my face to hold back excitement. “You really killed it out there.”

Tyler doesn’t reply. He keeps the same pose, falling into zen. This is fine by me. Earlier in the day, I couldn’t stop worrying about our outcome. Tyler, however, was right.

“There’s only so much you can prepare for,” he’d say. “After, you have to trust you either have it, or you don’t.”

From the moment we pulled up to the arena, to the second we stepped through the ring ropes, I kept my mouth shut and listened to his words.

They paid dividends.

Plan. Implement. Trust. My first lesson in tag team wrestling.

Tonight we were successful. As for the future? I guess we’ll see.

All I know is… I’m hyped already.

— — — — —


I haven’t forgotten about you. While our campaigns don’t specifically align at the moment, it doesn’t mean I can’t address The Provocateur. Last year I propositioned you: join the Grapplers Local 214 and get this cool SNES controller. Silly, yes but it is my demeanor. The controller was more of a symbol, I didn’t mean for us to legitimately game together. I have a shitty discord to scratch that itch. Anyway, you accepted this token and you joined alongside the good in our path vs. evil. It was an odd pairing, obviously, but you brought your A Game. Maybe it was for selfish reasons… wanting to establish a Denizen of Decay. After all, you were well on your way. Undefeated for a while, the new star drawing eyeballs, Arthur Fucking Pleasant. If by the odd chance you were fighting for honor and justice, hey, consider it a bonus. I am always a ‘life bar half full’ kinda guy.

Post War Games, you ran away.

Most of the 214 disbanded because the friends I had were false heroes. Only Darin Zion was a true comrade. Now… you’ve returned. Aligned with a killer, the two of you wreaking havoc and once again, what’s old is new. You’re making quite the name for yourself. No random takes John Sektor to the limit.

Still, I’d like to believe there’s a part of you with a soul. I saw it, you can’t fool a guy like me. I have heart and I can see when another one beats heroically, too.

The 2022 Arthur Pleasant is not you.

I’m not saying step away from Jeffrey. As your champion, who desperately needs a new and improved Rogues’ Gallery in front of him, JJR is the last person I want to see neutered. If you are a means to empower him further, please, do your thing. But what I am saying to you is the following…

I know you better than you think I do.

When you go into war with someone, when you bleed alongside your surrogate family, no matter how makeshift or insincere, you share a piece of them forever.

I truly look forward to our new war, the start of a different journey, on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Mark my words, Arthur. You chose wrong this time.

And when I, The Vintage, The Power-Up King, the World Heavyweight Champion, become too much for you and Jeffrey to handle.

Do it.

Run away. Again.

Only now, I’ll hold the door open.

Just don’t forget to drop off my vintage controller on the way out.