x1

x1

Posted on March 4, 2022 at 4:59 pm by Conor Fuse

The most transcendent video game of all time is Mario Bros. for NES. The game can never be replaced. There’s something about its simplicity and yet the level design is more complex than many passive gamers give it credit for. When I was little, I used to play Mario Bros. nonstop. Even if I had ten minutes, I’d speed run to see how far I’d get. And when I had more time on my hands, then it’s crack my knuckles, sit TF down and get serious. When I wanted to risk it… and I mean really risk it, I would not hit reset. Instead, I’d completely commit to the game I was about to play. If I slipped up early and lost a life, too bad, I continue.

This is only half of the obligation. I also wouldn’t seek extra lives or coins on purpose. If I jumped into a few of them, it’s inevitable. But I play with the default three lives and I don’t go out of my way to find others.

Before each level, the game gives you a black screen, with your character and the amount of lives remaining.

x3
x2
x1

Some players crumble under intense pressure. This is it, don’t screw up. Why was I so careless in World 1 – Level 3? I really could’ve used that extra life right about now.

If you’re asking ‘why is Conor Fuse rambling about Mario Bros. when he’s in the semi finals of the Maurako Cup?’ then allow me to spell it out for you.

I made a commitment to risk it all when I joined David Noble. Prior to HOW, I called myself a tag team specialist. Let’s be real, I’ve been a failure in the HOW tagging game.

I could’ve been there to stop Jiles and Harrison from cheating against Ray McAvay. Instead, I laid on the outside, unable to move because I didn’t pay attention to my surroundings.

I could’ve helped Dan Ryan find his legs, wrestled more of our match. He was clearly damaged from War Games.

I could’ve been there for Teddy Palmer. Not let him roam backstage alone, jumped by Clay Byrd and SRK. Honestly, I’m a little foggy on what actually happened because, as I said, I wasn’t there.

Conor Fuse, the tag team specialist? Can’t blame a dude for not buying this tagline. And now, as World Champion, there’s an added target on my back. We aren’t just playing Mario Bros., it’s a duo cartridge with Duck Hunt, too. People are shooting at me from left, right and center. Scott Stevens screams I’m ignoring him. FFS Scott, I said go level up. I already beat you. You cheated your way to #1 contendership. Fight Jeffrey James Roberts, he’s the guy I’m DYING for. Beat him, I’ll face you again. I’ll face you a million times over if you PROVE IT. But Scott chooses not to listen. Can I blame him? Not really. Evrrrrybody got the orange NES gun in their hands, taking shots. Missouri Valley Wrestling can’t be happy with their loss to Noble Gaming. They once sent a guy to take down LSD Champion John Sektor. Sunny’s probably working on pumping a minion’s tires to avenge #97 in the middle of the ring. Hey, Steve Harrison. Keep thumbing me down. I see you.

I digress. I am getting far away from my initial point. This being… I am no tag team maestro when I have lost so many of them.

David, too, risks it all. After years away from the ring, he steps back into the squared circle and makes his own commitment, a reintroduction to the business and the Maurako Tournament.

…Only to be shafted when his original partner vanishes. Can’t see him.

So here we are, tied together in a brand new co-op. Lose once, slip up, there’s no reset. Can we prep beforehand? Get to know each other? Nope, go fuck yourself, the tournament has already started and these players are hungry. Noble and The Gamer go into this blind. No extra lives in the bank. Coin collecting isn’t happening, either.

Games represent reality. Backs against the wall, beat MVW who throw their hungriest, albeit most dysfunctional team together in order to make a name for themselves. Defeat them and next… Devil’s Advocates. You know, only one of the most dominant champions HOW has ever seen in JJR and his understudy, Arthur Pleasant, who’s as legitimate as they come in his own right. Throw in my love for tag wrestling, desire to avenge previous HOW tag team Ls and David’s short-term contract… we have so much on the line.

We survived.

…For now.

Because the job isn’t done, this game isn’t over. My friends, Simon and Mario (not Mario from Nintendo) tell me the woman who will be standing across from us this weekend likes to play a lot of them. They say she’s a bigger player than I am, she simply doesn’t hold a controller while doing it.

Guess we’ll see. I’m always an “experience it myself before it’s true” kinda guy.

Reality is: it’s over for the losing co-op no matter what.

When I made the ultimate commitment in Mario Bros., my adrenaline was sky high. Nervous? Yes. Tense? Duh. Yet… I felt ALIVE. When I made the commitment to David Noble, it brought back these memories. Because this is wrestling, isn’t it? This is sport. No second chances. Noble Gaming didn’t start with a life remaining. No. Our black screen showed a two player game and an accumulation of negative lives. x-1. For all intended purposes, we shouldn’t be in the semi-finals.

…But here we are.

How’s that for being a tag team specialist?

Maybe I’m not so bad…

Maybe we aren’t.

… … … … …

Glens Falls Civic Center (now the Cool Insuring Arena)
Fuse Bros. Match
Glens Falls, NY
February 20, 2010 – 19:30

This was a first. Down on the apron, head slightly tilted, I can see the referee slide into position. One of them hooks my brother’s legs.

ONE.

I roll to my side. My arms aching, head pounding. I was blindsided. They both moved so quickly, they knew exactly what they were doing. We, however, did not.

TWO.

The funny thing is, I already know it’s over. Why am I trying to get up? I’m so far away. The greatest rush of adrenaline in the history of adrenaline rushes won’t get me there. I should’ve come to this realization before the count started.

THREE.

See?

DING DING DING

The announcer bellows the winners. Soon after, one of them kicks me off the apron. Christ, he could’ve saved me the mental torment and done this sooner. I didn’t need to see three slaps of the mat.

This is our first loss. Fuse Bros. take the hard L, the hard way too as a trickle of crimson drips into my eyes. The pit in my stomach. I’m about to throw up.

Momentarily, Tyler finds me on the outside. He props me to my knees as the theme song from the other team blares on the PA.

“You did well,” he says, a slight grin crossing his face. “We’ll get them next time.”

Next time? Fucking next time!? This guy serious right now!?

I guess my facial expressions are on full display because Tyler places a hand on my shoulder. He’s usually not this friendly, I swear.

“Everyone loses, dude. This is what, our fifth match? Those guys have known each other for years,” I can tell Tyler was hit real hard himself, looking like he suffered a stinger. “And they’re still in the independents.”

Big bro slaps my shoulder before lowering his arm.

“We have bigger goals.”

Sure, bigger goals, cool. HELLO BRO, we just lost to a team on the independent circuit. I dunno what this says.

Oh, wait. I do!

It means we suck.

Tyler helps me to my feet. We hobble up the rampway to cheers. They aren’t loud, nothing mind blowing but the fans have taken notice.

“They…” my voice trails as I look over to Tyler. “Like us?”

Tyler rolls his eyes and gives a slight nod. “Yeah dude. Pretty sure they like you more than me. You’re the fun one.”

Ah, whatever. They’ll be over us by tomorrow.

We approach the top of the rampway and disappear behind the curtain as I continue running through the end of the match. We were separated and got schooled. I wasn’t able to predict I’d be dropkicked from our corner. Tyler was crushed with a double team powerbomb and, hence, here we are. First ever loss.

Feels great.

“I hate this feeling,” I say to Tyler, both of us still on wobbly legs in an attempt to find our locker room.

“Good,” he replies.

“What?”

“Well I’d have a lot more questions for you if you enjoyed losing, dumbass.”

Fine, good point.

… … … … …

Little Caesars Arena
Refueled LXXXVIII: Noble Gaming vs. Devil’s Advocates
Detroit, MI
February 20, 2022 – 21:57

Twelve years to the date I stared adversity in the face, David and I find ourselves in a similar position. Me, previously attacked backstage at the hands of Arthur Pleasant, controller to the side of the head. (Those things hurt like shit, hard plastic is a bitch.) David, fresh off a beating, hit with a low blow amongst much more, gassed in our corner. It took everything he had to slip away from the Mask of Sanity, only to find my hand.

The pressure is on, Conor. Here’s where you prove you’re either a tag team pro or fraud. Because David isn’t getting back in. It took everything he had to keep this match going. Now it’s on my shoulders to end it.

Double clotheslines. Yeah, come at me, boys. Let’s goooo.

Tilt-a-whirl DDT to Arthur. Minor payback for the brutal blindsided move from earlier. I’ll see you again soon, Mr. Provocateur. Don’t forget to take your coins, crybaby hardcore dipshit.

Hurricanrana to you, JJR. Put the lotion in the basket ‘cause I would not fuck you hard. Not even gently.

!RANK !RANK !RANK

Hell ya gamers, level me up. And to make sure I’m doing this right, trust me, I use my peripherals. I see Pleasant’s down on the outside. He’s not getting up.

I Weapon Get Roberts.

Then I finish him off with the 450 Super Splash.

ONE.

Don’t worry David, I got you.

TWO.

Because, after all, you got me.

THREE.

Fucking right, ring the bell.

DING DING DING

Bryan McVay bellows our name on the mic, the fans are going apeshit and David and I embrace as our theme music plays.

Not so bad, eh. We scratched tooth and nail for this. Target on our backs, completely ignorant to each other and made it work.

“Man, god dammit,” I mumble. I dunno why I am frequently swearing these days but this feels good. It’s amazing. Accomplishing something with a partner is always rewarding.

“We could have phoned it in, you know?” I say to Noble before we split to opposite ends of the turnbuckle, capping off Re-FUSED.

“But we didn’t,” he replies.

ATM, the next level is unknown. I guess it depends on what Harrison and Kostoff can do next week.

TEN MINUTES LATER…

David and I rest in our locker room. Not much is said at first. He’s on his side of the bench and I’m on mine. His head rests against the brick wall behind him, looking exhausted. And he’d have to be. He took on a lot and kept going. I can see how he made a name for himself before High Octane. He’s doing it again.

We’re doing it.

“I want more, dude,” feeling energetic, I lift my head and stare directly at David. I don’t know how I can find these second winds… or fifth winds. Noble might think I’m doing lines of coke on the side. I’ve assured him the only Coke I do is of the Coca variety.

…Which might be more terrifying. I am the way I am and I’m… clean.

“I want this entire tournament,” I can feel myself opening a long winded diatribe so be ready. “You got screwed with an Egg Bandit. Those guys don’t do shit, man. Only when they want and when they want is, like, never, lol. We can take this whole MFer down. We’re so close. Three way tie at the top? That’s okay, we’ll fucking do it again. Put Pleasant and Roberts down x2. Harrison and Kostoff? They’re gonna pay for defeating you buddy, which, again, was bullshit because you had an eGG bAnDiT. Hey, did you know I once fought Bobby Dean and Bobby Dean once beat my arch nemesis, Sutler Reynolds-Kael? Yep. It happened. Bobby WON. So, get this, I asked Bobby, I said ‘hey Bobby, bring the guy who beat SRK. You’re like a Game Genie and I can learn from you’ and he’s all ‘dude, I just wanna eat catering and be a fat POS’ and then I’m like ‘dude, seriously, if you beat me you could be IN THE TITLE MATCH at the pay-per-view with me and Sutler’ and he’s all ‘no, I’d rather shove this cake down my throat and-”

Whoa. I’m at a whole new level.

My eyes find David. He’s simply sitting there, chill. Have I rambled like this before? I gotta hand it to my partner, he knows how to deal with my acts of passion.

“Sorry,” I say, calming myself down.

“It’s the adrenaline in your veins. The specter of battle, the thrill of winning. It’s coursing through you right now. No need to apologize. I feel it too, I just channel it differently than you do.”

I bite my tongue, give a wink and a smile. Time passes. I lift my head again, although I’m much more subdued.

“David?” I ask.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for having my back out there… like when Arthur attacked me backstage. You came to my defense. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem, Conor,” David replies. “It’s what teammates are for.”

Damn right, man. Hell, get to the end of this thing, win the Tag Team Titles… we aren’t just teammates anymore…

We’re brothers.

— — — — —

Bobbi,

Thank you for being nice to me. In a world where BOTS and Bosses are lined up after #97MarioRed, you’ve genuinely acknowledged my existence past an achievement. While my good friends, Simon and Mario, claim you are manipulative, I worry they are typecasting. For I can only see what’s projected in front of me and you present yourself like a pretty cool chick. This doesn’t mean I’m gonna back down in our match and nor would I expect you to do so, either. I may joke about the BFF tagline but I know Darkwing is someone you have actually shared the ring with. They say bonded in blood makes great friends, so I’m not about to discount your ties to him. While the two of you may not have started with minus lives, you certainly wrestle like it. Upon your fearless return to High Octane, I’d like to argue nobody has made a louder noise and bigger mark than Bobbinette Carey. I’m not talking about how bright the colour magenta can be, I’m talking about ripping Scottywood, winning your tournament bracket and standing up to Mike Best. The return of Bobbinette Carey, signifying the landscape in High Octane HAS changed and things WILL be different. You walk hard, you play strong.

Maybe that’s why I wanna be your friend. See, deep down, I am a little gamer. I may be High Octane World Champion, I may have defeated a difficult group of players to get here but I am still learning the ropes. My campaign rolls on as I find new ways to survive, amidst fierce villains. Though you… you laugh in the face of those who oppose your colourful ensemble and are fearless on the campaign to success. I’ve only started to realize what I need to survive in this game. The Conor Fuse of 2020 wasn’t gonna make it. The Conor Fuse of 2022 might not make it in 2023.

I had to strap a man… no, excuse me, I had to strap THE Mount Rushmore of HOW to an electric chair, zap the mother fucker…

And still lost.

So I’m slowly collecting an understanding of what I need to do on an individual level, match-by-match.

Outside of the ring, it’s taken me a while to understand I require friends, real friends, to help me and I help them. We succeed together. No, this isn’t an offer to join the AoA. You and I are both aware the members of my co-op don’t like you (and I’m sure the feeling is without a doubt mutual). Again, I’m not even saying we need to be BFF. I guess my rambling means one thing…

I respect Bobbinette Carey.

And eventually, perhaps, we can trust each other in this strange wrestling world.

I’m not sure what this means yet. Like I said, I’ve got a lot to learn. Your naïve World Champion, a gamer, ebbs and flows along as he fights the BOTS and Bosses M.O.B. deploys upon the Best Castle. You and Darkwing await on your side… David and I in the other. I will always consider myself a tag team guy but I know, come our match, Noble Gaming will be in for a world of trouble. Darkwing, please forgive me, as I do not know you well enough but I’m aware of your accolades. You are an original inductee into the HOW Hall of Fame alongside my idol and mentor, Jatt Starr. If our worlds collide frequently from here on out, so be it. You’ll be a welcome addition to the Rogues’ Gallery. Apparently, I have plenty of applications pending.

When the four of us do battle, let it be a glorious display of desperation. David and I need this victory. We lose, he (likely) leaves High Octane. Nevertheless, the two of you have no intention of failing, I am certain. Failure is not something Bobbi does and neither, of course, would a partner of her choosing. I would expect nothing less than your best.

This is a weight I have never felt before. While I have defeated a Hall of Fame member or two… to hold a victory over two inductees of the golden achievement, at the same time, would signify The Ultimate Gamer, is, indeed, ultimate.

Good luck to you, Bobbi and you too, Darkwing. David and I will come at you with absolutely everything. Hell, we started at x-1 and here we are in the semi finals. Almost poetic we pull this off.

As I said earlier, bonded in blood makes great friends, right?

Well Bobbi, you crack my skull, I’ll gladly crack yours.

I can feel us becoming BFF… already.