Blue Balls and Heart
Refueled II, Post match..
I should have known better. How could I have been so naive? It was supposed to be the greatest match of all time. Mike Best vs John Sektor. Rival vs rival. Career vs career. The winner having the ultimate bragging rights over the other and advancing to the semi-finals of the World title tournament.
Instead, that weasley, little, cocksucker decided to be a cowardly little cunt and take the easy way out, turning me into a laughing stock in the process. I was stupid to believe that he had a shred of honour and respect towards me. That he would uphold his promise and give me the fight I deserve. I was prepared to risk it all tonight so that I could make that match even more special than it was already supposed to be. Instead, he kicked me, not once, but fucking twice in the balls to disqaulfiy himself, saving himself from ridicule on fucking twitter. I’m now convinced that he knew he couldn’t beat me tonight. He sensed my desperation and realised that this match meant more to me than it does him. He couldn’t risk the loss with all the noise he’s made for himself over at OCW. His opponents would have held this over his head and thrown it in his face every time he opened his annoying little trap.
Now I’m sat, backstage, in an empty locker room, with an icepack on a very bruised and swollen pair of balls. I’m so, unbelievably, fucking angry. I tried to get up to punch a locker but my balls wouldn’t allow it. I’m lucky this locker room is empty. If anyone else was here I’d be screaming abuse at them just to make myself feel better, but I wouldn’t be able to defend myself. Everyone else is off either preparing for matches, enjoying the free food in catering or in the ring competing. Scottywoods probably propping up the bar and drowning his sorrows after an embarrassing defeat to the rookie, Halitosis.
Mike probably high tailed it out of the building the second he left the ring. He’s smart enough to realise that I would have come straight after him. And I would have, If I was physically able to. I know myself too well. I can’t let this lie, whether he thinks he’s retired or not. I’m going to make it my life’s mission to make sure I get the match he’s robbed me of. I’m going to be a constant thorn in his fucking side and I will do whatever it takes to get what I want. He’s right. I am chasing ghosts. I do need to beat him more than he needs to be beat me. I cannot die without knowing who the better man is. But it goes even deeper now. It’s a matter of revenge. My revenge! Michael Best will be my obsession until I can finally close that chapter on my terms.
I let out an audible scream, booting my water bottle across the room in a mixture of sheer anger and petulance. My balls throb even harder now, forcing me to apply more pressure with the pack of ice. I can feel my breathing rate begin to increase as the anxiety forces my heart to pump harder and faster than it probably should at rest. My hands shake as I pick up the phone lying next to me on the wooden bench, scrolling through my contacts down to ‘D’ for ‘Dealer.’ Every instinct is telling me to make that call and acquire the true medication I need for a situation like this.
An aching begins to spread across my jaw as my teeth clamp down. The plastic of my phone creeks as I realise I’m beginning to crush it. Eventually I allow my muscles to relax and let out a deflated sigh, realising that I can’t allow myself to relapse. Not now. Not after how far I’d come. I worked too hard getting myself clean and working on my fitness. I was only just starting to feel human again. I can’t let Mike drive me back to the junk. I wasn’t due my next dose of methadone until the morning, but I’d need a little extra tonight to help me sleep. I have an appointment tomorrow at the wellness centre to discuss my progress, where they will probably try and reduce my dose. I will be telling them, with a firm hand, that if anything? I needed it increasing.
A vibration causes me to look back at my phone. A message appears and my eyes shut tight as I read the name of the sender:
My parole officer, obviously executing his right to check in on me and check that his cash cow is still playing ball. I didn’t even need to read the message, I knew the premise of what it would say:
“Hello John Boy! Hope your big and hairies aren’t too sore! That must have been a literal kick in the balls LOL. Win’s a win though, right? Anyway, make sure you swing by mine tomorrow with the money. Chow xx”
The kisses at the end are what fuck me off more than anything. This mother fucker had a sixth sense of timing and knowing how to get under my skin. The next six months are going to be the longest of my life whilst he leeches twenty percent of every paycheck I earn.
I reach into the side pocket of my gym bag to retrieve a pack of smokes and a zippo. I’ve given up the drugs and cut down on the booze, but nicotine and caffeine are still vital to my survival. I pack the box of cigarettes on the back of my head seven times, no more, no less, before lifting one out and placing it slightly to the left of centre of my mouth. Purposefully ignoring the ‘No Smoking’ signs I ignite the flame on my zippo and light the tip, inhaling deeply and blowing out a much needed cloud of smoke into the room.
I was just starting to enjoy it when the door to the locker room bust open, abruptly, revealing a five-foot, nothing, never-finished-puberty-aged prick wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard. Must be one of the production guys. He looks at me like a deer caught in headlights.
“Oh, sorry sir, I..”
“Don’t you know how to knock?” I bark, trying to pierce his soul with my eyes. I’m not in the mood to interact with people, especially not annoying producers who think they know how a wrestling show should work.
“Sorry I was looking for..” he begins, stopping dead, mid sentence.
I realise, quickly, what stopped him as his eyes fix on the cigarette gently releasing nicotine up towards the tiled ceiling.
“Sir, I’m afraid you can’t smoke in this building,” he informs me, actually having the balls to raise his eyebrows as though he has some authority over this situation.
I lean forward a little, staring him dead in the eyes and taking my time to speak so that he can fully understand the response I want him to make.
I growl the words through gritted teeth, widening my eyes as much as I can. Wisely, he leaves the room at once, closing the door behind him. He must have sense that, blue balls or not, I would have leapt out of this seat and smacked that fucking headset across the room, leaving him with tinnitus.
With the timid production boy out of my way, I go back to enjoying my cigarette, attempting to strategise how I would get to Mike. I consider signing up to OCW. It would be easy enough. I’m pretty certain Marcus Welsh would bite the hand off another HOW Hall of Famer joining his roster, even if I’m a recovering junky. The thought of me going after his prized possession would surely have him salivating. But I can’t. My body can just about handle the HOW schedule. I’m nowhere near ready to wrestle for two promotions and HOW will always be my priority.
A tremendous roar from inside the arena suddenly breaks my concentration. It was a mixture of cheers and disappointment. The HOW crowd very rarely finds themselves in unison over who they want to be the victor in matches. I look up across the room to where a monitor had been, silently, showing the events of the show and see Brian Hollywood’s arm held aloft by the referee. He’d just beaten, the legendary, Lindsay Troy and booked himself in the semi-final of the World title tournament..
It suddenly dawned on me that I was in the semi final. One step closer to winning the World title. I had promised Mike that If I beat him I would do everything in my realms of capability to win the whole tournament so that he can, at least, know he was beaten by the champion. I couldn’t give two fucks about Mike any more, but I still want that World title.
Mike Best would have to wait. I’ve got Brian Hollywood to prepare for.
Miami, Florida. Ray’s Gym..
“Are ye sure, now, John? Niall won’t hold back! You can see how big he is, he’s a strong fella!”
I’m standing in the dusty, blood and sweat, stained ring in Ray’s gym. Ray Doherty, my old trainer, was trying to talk me out of entering into a fully competitive wrestling match with his nephew Niall. He wasn’t exaggerating. Niall is big. He’s a good four inches taller than me, and about eighty pounds heavier. ‘A great big strapping lad,’ as Ray would say. With hair as orange as an African sunset and a matching bushy beard, he reminded me a fucking viking. He glared at me with wide, yet, smiling eyes, smirking with excitement at the prospect of getting his hands on a real veteran of the business. Ray had talked to me at length about Niall. He had wrestled a bit back in Ireland and had come over here to break into some of the bigger promotions. Ray had even asked me to mentor him at one point, before I started injecting poison into my veins. He hasn’t mentioned it since.
“When have I ever suggested something, and not meant it?” I reply, just wanting to get the fuck on with it.
“Can’t ye just spar? There’s no need to go risk injuring ye-self before such a big match!”
I don’t know whether Ray had a lot of confidence in his nephew, or whether he simply lacked confidence in me. I hoped it was the former and march back towards my corner.
“Give me everything you got, big man,” I say to Niall, goading him a little to ensure he doesn’t get tempted to go easy on me.
Mike hadn’t just robbed me of the opportunity to have another career defining match, but he robbed me of the struggle you need to endure in a tournament like this. Every opponent needs to be a test, pushing and driving you that bit closer towards the finishing line. To beat a man like Hollywood I need to be battle tested, not kicked in the balls and gifted a safe passage. Hollywood just got past Lindsay Troy. She might have a tight snatch between her legs instead of a cock, but that doesn’t make her credentials as a legend of this business any less significant. He had earned his passage to me the hard way, so this is my chance to test myself before I get in the ring with a man who is desperate to prove his claim to the World title.
Hollywood is nothing like Niall in terms of physicality. He’s almost equal to me in that regard and is a thinking man’s wrestler. Niall is a brute and power house who’s tactic would be to surely use his strength and power to his advantage. I wasn’t looking to wrestle a Hollywood tribute act. I just wanted someone to beat the shit out of me and see if I could survive.
Ray sighs and half heartedly steps out of our paths, signalling for the two of us to lock horns.
“Go on then. If ye fecking insist!”
I come out of my corner with my guard up, but Niall comes at me like a freight train, catching me off guard and hammering a forearm into the side of my head. It’s like a bowling ball has just been spit out of the ball return as my brain slams into the back of my skull. I look up and see a blur of red hair coming towards me. I seem to be holding myself up in the corner, unable to prepare for the hailstorm of stiff forearms he begins to slam against my head. After the third I manage to bring my arm up to cushion some of the blows.
“ONE, TWO, THREE, come on now, back up! Get him out of the corner!” Ray barks his instructions to his nephew, taking his officiating duties seriously but, more likely, trying to protect me. Niall begins to back up and gives me room to recover and come forward.
“Hold up! What the fuck is this?” I whine, in a high pitched voice. “This is supposed to be a fucking simulation. In the real world, my opponent wouldn’t allow me to simply come out the corner. There’s no fucking gentlemans rules in HOW!”
“Fer cryin’ out loud, John..”
“NO!” I bark, ignoring Ray and looking his nephew dead in the eyes. “You treat this match as though your life depends on it, you ginger cunt!”
I notice Niall’s back literally straighten as a smirk spreads through the jungle of his beard.
“Alright, then,” he calmly replies, in such an ominous tone that it genuinely unnerves me.
With that he lets out a war cry and lunges at me with a clothesline, which would have surely took my head clean off, had I not managed to duck it. I decide to run into the ropes and propel myself back at him. As he turns, I shoot a low dropkick to his knee, bringing him to his knees. This was my strength. Thinking on my feet and adapting to my opponent. The oldest trick in the book when dealing with someone bigger than you was to take away their legs.
The grimace on his face told me of the damage I had done. I wasted no time kicking him onto his back with a well placed boot to the side of his temple. I begin to lay stomps to the knee, already plotting to target that area, seen as I’d already started. To be fair, Ray stayed quiet, but I could feel his eyes on me. He would be concerned for his nephews own career, but knew he would face dangers like this in the real world.
After, what felt like, several hundred stomps to the knee, I eventually pick up his boot with the intention of strapping in a basic leg lock. Another war cry forewarned me of what was coming, but I couldn’t stop it. A size fourteen boot suddenly plowed into my sternum, sending me across the ring and landing on my back. My experience has taught me to get up as quickly as possible because my opponent would soon be on my tail. I figured the damage I’d done to his knee would slow him down.
I was wrong.
He comes straight at me like a bull charging towards the matador that has abused and taunted him his whole life, picking me up and goring me into the corner turnbuckle. My chest tightens as the wind gets knocked out of me, giving him room to slam several shoulders into my midsection, so many that I lost count. Next thing I know, the gym is turning upside down as he picks me up out of the corner and slams me down on the canvas, planting his heavy chest on top of mine and hooking my leg as though it’s weightless.
“ONE, TWO..” Ray calls, reminding me that I need to kick out.
“HA-HAAAA, come on then!” Niall taunts. The mother fucker was actually having fun!
He proceeds to slam me around the ring like a fucking ragdoll. Anyone watching will surely be pissing their pants that this rookie, from Killarney Ireland, is literally having his way with a so called HOW Hall of Famer. But every slam reminds me of the pain that I can endure. In the ring you reach a metaphorical wall. Sometimes that wall’s too high and that’s when you find yourself not answering the three count. To win tournaments and titles you have to not only try to climb over every wall that hits you, but you have fucking smash through it.
Brian Hollywood will not lie down. He will not give me an easy match. I have many things to say and many opinions I hold over Hollywood, but that can be saved for another time. Fact is he’s proven he can get through the acid test to reach the top of the proverbial mountain. I’ve done it many times in the past. But the real question was, could I do it now?
“Come on, John. Enough already. There’ll be nothing left of ye by the time this match comes around,” Ray pleads.
I’d lost count, but I figured it was around the eighth time my spine had bounced off the canvas in succession. I could smell and feel the warm breath of Niall on my face as he panted heavily. He was beginning to wear himself out. He’s a big lad, but I’m still over two hundred pounds and he’d just deadlifted me, God knows, how many times. Being a smart wrestler means knowing how to conserve energy and pick you moments. Nevertheless, he’d done real damage to me. My back was in spasm and I couldn’t move, even if I wanted to. But I could think, and plan.
Niall eventually grunts and begins to pull me to my feet. I could try and attack if I wanted to, but I knew he would probably just block anything I threw at him and hit me ten times harder. It was time to play possum, and wait for my opportunity to strike. I’m soon finding myself draped across his shoulders, like a mink fur, in the fireman carry position.
This is the time to strike. I hit him with the sharpest point of my elbow in the temple. Many a man would drop me after one but it took four for this fucking animal to let me go. He rubs at his temple with his back to me. I think about chop-blocking him in the back of his knee, but decide to wait instead, target his head to get a few birdies and stars circling around his head so that I wasn’t the only one. As he begins to turn, I get myself in position, rifling a superkick right onto the button of his chin and sending him staggering into the ropes. Inwardly I yell an almighty “YES!”
The celebrations are quickly halted as another, Viking like, war cry catches me off guard, followed by a decapitating clothesline that bounces the back of my skull off the canvas. Even with the world spinning in a blur, I can’t help but analyse how I’ve never been hit that hard in my entire career.
And I’ve been hit by Kostoff..
If he wanted to pin me right now, I’m not sure I could kick out. I’ve been knocked out enough times to know that the blurry white silhouette in the corners of my vision spell danger for my win-loss record. Thankfully I can hear a muffled cry of commands through all the haziness, telling me that he is wanting me to get up off my ass.
“COME ON! GET UP!”
Come on, John, think! Maybe I should just lie here. It’s nice here, it’s comfortable here. No one is currently beating the living shit out of me here. Though, I’m pretty sure I can hear Micky counting me out. I could hope that my instincts were right, and that Niall would rather opt for a genuine win over me, encouraging him to help me up.I can’t take the risk. Simulation or not, the competitor in me wants to win this match. If I can’t win this, I may as well not even bother showing up to face Hollywood. I’ll just send him a text message saying ‘You’re welcome!”
Coughing up a lung, I roll onto my side, holding my neck which now has new shooty pains running through it. I push myself up onto a knee and slowly get myself back to a standing position. My eyes look up just in time to see the ginger, ball of fury, flying at me once again. I find myself dropping to the canvas and taking him down with a, text book, drop toe hold.
Thank you muscle memory!
Adrenaline is pumping. Re-energised, I waste no time locking in my trademark Sektor Stretch, firstly tying up his left leg with my own as he lies on his stomach, then crawling onto his back like that French rapist did to that bitch in the movie ‘Irreversible.’ I then hook my arm underneath his chin and wrench back. His screams fill me with warm fuzzy feelings. I love hurting people. Stretching them into all kinds of positions and hearing their suffering was one of the many things I enjoy about my job. But likely the top three.
His fingernails scratch my forearms, drawing blood as he desperately tries to pry my arm off him. The only thing that could stop me now was a fucking bullet. I have this hold locked in tight and I’m not letting go.
“Do ye give up, Niall?” Ray asks him, lying on his own stomach and looking at him with desperation.
That’s my cue to wrench back even harder, causing a blood curdling scream from the big Irish man.
“Niall, tap out, PLEASE! He’ll break ye friggin neck!”
Ray’s not exaggerating. I will break his neck. I love Ray like he was my own father, but I won’t lose any sleep over breaking his nephews neck, even if he has earned my respect. When I said to treat this as a the real deal, I fucking meant it.
A little bit more pressure was enough for Niall to concede and finally tap out. Out of respect for Ray, I immediately let go and roll away. Anyone else? I would have let them suffer a few seconds longer.
As I stand up I find myself waiting for Ray to lift my arm in victory, and then remember that this is a training exercise and no fucker is actually watching. So, instead, I turn to head out of the ring, but an growling sound forces me to look over my shoulder.
Oh, someone isn’t happy. Niall comes charging towards with a creased brow and vengeance written all over his face. Ray quickly steps between us and puts up his hands to defend me.
“Now, now! Calm down, Niall, it’s over, ye lost!”
White foam is literally gathering, in the bristles of his beard, from his mouth as he breathes heavily. I could mock him and hurt his ego a little more but I was in a strangely good mood.
“Look kid,” I begin, at least enjoying a little patronisation by referring to this beast-man as a child. “I don’t like giving people compliments..”
Niall’s expression softens slightly. There’s an awkward silence and I soon realise that both Ray and Niall are waiting for me to finish my sentence.
My stomach just won’t allow it. Inwardly I’m telling him just how much he tested me. That he is clearly no rookie and has a bright future in this business. I even wanted to tell him that he hit harder than Kostoff. But I don’t..
..Because I’m a cunt!
“I think that’s as close as ye’re gonna get,” Ray eventually tells him. Ray knows me well.
Niall eventually lets out a sigh and gives me a begrudging nod before sticking his tale between his legs and exiting the ring.
“Good lad, Niall. Ye did great! John’s a feckin veteran and Hall of Famer. Ye should be proud of ye’self!”
I don’t think Niall see’s it that way. I felt his hunger and confidence in this ring. He thought he could beat me. He thought he was better, stronger, faster. That’s the mentality you need to make it.
“John, ye’re a crazy fecker, you know that?” Ray laughs. “Tell you what, though. It’s great to see how good ye look. Last time I saw ye, ye couldn’t be arsed with any of this. Ye looked like shit! But now look at ye!” he emphatically says, patting me on my slightly more toned deltoids.
Last time I trained in this gym, I was a skinny junky who’s muscles had been metabolised as a side effect of malnutrition. I’d been training every day since my match with Farthington, trying to rebuild myself back to the Gold Standard, and the results were starting to show.
“Though, if ye want to beat this Hollywood fella? Ye might consider not getting hit so much.”
“That’s great advice, Ray. Thank, you,” I sarcastically reply.
If this exercise taught me one thing, it wasn’t not to get hit a lot. Although it probably should. No. It taught me that I still have the heart to get through situations where I have every right to be beaten.
It’s heart that has won me every title I have ever held. Knowledge, ability, technique, brains, experience…all important factors, but they are nothing without heart. I know now..
I still have the heart of a champion.