Sunday, April 11
St. Louis, MO
She hears the *ping* of a text message in-between Ami’s excitement over Jatt’s defeat and Kaz’s annoyance over Jiles selling his soul, but Lindsay doesn’t know exactly what’s in store for her until she hangs up the phone after her weekly post-show check-in with her kids.
When she finally retrieves the card line-up and scrolls through, her stomach churns and a sudden chill creeps over her body, no doubt aided by the mid-40s temperatures that springtime in the Midwest is famous for.
Tag Team Title Match
Troy and Palmer vs. Sektor and Starr
Lindsay leans back against the exterior white stone wall of Jack Patrick’s Bar and Grill, wrapping an arm around her body as tipsy passersby careen down the sidewalk, off to either their next late-night bar stop or to their homes for other activities. The rest of the Refueled 59 card is stacked as well, she sees: her newfound nemesis, Arthur Pleasant, is in a hot opener against Darin Matthews; the past and present thorns in her side, Hughie Freeman and Clay Byrd, are in action too; and her Grapplers Local 214 stablemate, Conor Fuse, is taking on the latest pompous pawn in Lee Best’s game: the World Champion, Cancer Jiles.
Conor’s shot at the 97Red strap is an enormous opportunity for the youngster, and Lindsay has the utmost confidence in the spirited gamer’s ability to not only be a serious problem for the Maestro but to take his newly-won prize away from him. This is also a huge opportunity for her and Teddy, with both members of StarrSek Industries coming off huge singles losses – Jatt especially, just hours before eating a pinfall and losing his LSD title to the affable Canadian. And while Lindsay is sure that, outwardly, neither John nor Jatt will give the appearance that those losses bother them, she knows deep down that they do. Wrestlers can’t compete at the high level that High Octane Wrestling requires, and have the kind of pride in their abilities that Jatt Starr and John Sektor do, and not be bothered by losses.
She knows this, because she’s the same way.
The last time the Queen was a tag team champion was a little over a year ago, as a result of the rise of the Group of Death from the ashes of the Industry. She may not have won the tag titles, but she felt responsible for losing them when she teamed with Dan Ryan at last year’s March to Glory. Prior to that, she had no hand in winning them as part of the Industry, and while she successfully defended them at 2019’s Rumble at the Rock, that was the only time she “held” the gold in competition before the eMpire wrested them away.
StarrSek may not know how important this match is to Lindsay, but there is no doubt in her mind that Lee Best does. This is her first opportunity to actually compete for and win the tag team championships, not just defend them, but it comes at the expense of partnering with a man she’s never tagged with before, who is riding an incredible hot streak, and who has two massive wins over the men who currently hold those titles.
Talk about pressure, and needing to rise to the challenge.
I can’t be the reason we don’t walk out of Dallas with those belts, she thinks to herself, as another text alert pops up on her phone. I’m not going to let another March to Glory happen.
Her hazel orbs flick down to the screen to read the incoming communication. It’s a note from her lawyer-slash-agent, Clay, wanting to talk in the morning about a few divorce-related things. Normally, Lindsay would press for more details, but with the announcement of this tag title match, she can wait to hear whatever he has to say for a few hours more. She shoots him back a text with a time, and then starts thumbing through her recent messages list until a group text appears.
BK, Daryn, need your help. Big tag title match in 6 days in Dallas, new partner, we need a camp so we can be in sync. I’ll fly you in if your schedules permit. Let me know ASAP.
Once Lindsay presses the little blue and white up arrow to send the message flying off across the country, she pockets her phone and makes her way back toward the door of the bar. A mini-camp last week helped Ted win the LSD title, and there’s a damn good chance that lightning can strike twice, especially if the ones helping them out are her two former students and current tag team partners Daryn Thompson and Bracken Krueger.
She and Teddy have amazing chemistry outside the ring. If they want to dethrone StarrSek Industries, they need to make sure they have it in the ring as well…
“Alright, there’s good news and there’s bad news,” Tara Gilson begins. “Which do you want to hear first?”
Lindsay raises her right eyebrow at her divorce lawyer’s question, while also taking a sip of coffee from an oversized mug. She sits outside on the deck that’s off the living room of the 214’s St. Louis AirBnB, not wanting to wake any of the boys up with her early morning Zoom call. The morning dawned sunny and chilly, and the Queen’s dressed in an oversized hoodie and yoga pants to ward off the bite in the air. Her iPad is propped open on the table, with both Clay’s and Tara’s faces in the little boxes in front of her.
“Bad,” Lindsay replies. “Get that out of the way.”
“Tyler hasn’t moved off of wanting the gym,” Clay says, keeping his voice calm and even. “His lawyers are holding fast.”
Lindsay sighs, unsurprised, but still frustrated. “Figures. He’s always been stubborn as fuck.”
“The good news,” Tara continues, “is we believe the Underground Lounge is not an expansion of the Katana’s Point. It’s a different business model not under that umbrella, which means it’s not subject to the terms of your pre-nup and you’d be entitled to half of it.”
Clay nods his head in agreement. “We don’t know if a judge will see it that way, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. But it’s a good angle to take as leverage.”
“We’ve been over this before, you two. I don’t care about getting any money or ownership stake from Ty’s businesses,” Lindsay says, frowning. “That’s not the point. I have my own money; I’ve always had my own money.”
“I know that, and Clay knows that,” Tara agrees. “But you said you wanted to go to war. This is the best approach to take right now because he and his team are not expecting this. Besides…you fight for a living, and you know better than either of us that battles and wars aren’t polite; they’re messy, and they’re brutal.”
Lindsay bites her lip, allowing Tara’s words to sink in. The lawyer has a point, both about her career and about this particular challenge in her life, and she did say a month ago that she didn’t want to give up one of her businesses without a fight. So why not go on the offensive?
“Okay,” she acquiesces. “We can take this route and see if it pans out. If it does, it might pressure Tyler to drop his interest in the gym, because I can’t see him wanting to give up any stake in the club.”
“Great,” Tara beams. “I was hoping you’d say that; my team has already started on the paperwork. I’ll let you know when we move to next steps.”
“Thank you, Tara,” Clay says. “We’ll let you get going. Lindsay and I have some other things to discuss now.”
As soon as Tara clicks off the call, Lindsay barrels forward. “This isn’t going to work, Clay.”
“Don’t be so sure that it won’t.”
“He couldn’t have been that stupid,” she retorts, placing her head into her hands. “Not an expansion and not the same business model? There’s no way.”
“Look, I know it sounds like a long shot, but Tara’s being very thoughtful and smart about this. It’s an interesting loophole she’s found and we’ve got a good chance of it working in our favor.”
“You know I trust you two. I just…” Lindsay trails off. “…I’m tired of this dragging out.”
“I know you are. Hang in there a little bit longer, alright?”
“Okay. I want you to do something for me on the side, though. Call it a contingency plan.”
“You got it, hold on.” There’s rustling as Clay reaches for a pen and pad off-screen. “Alright. Whatcha got?”
“In case this doesn’t work, and I have to give Tyler what he wants, I want you to start looking at alternative locations for after the divorce is finalized.”
There’s a momentary pause as Clay processes what Lindsay says. He looks at the camera, sees that she’s serious and, eventually, puts ink to paper. “Okay. Where? Chicago?”
“Probably not, unless Alex and the staff want to move up this way. I want to try and retain as many people as possible, because I can’t see them staying on with Tyler.” Lindsay drums her fingers on the table, thinking this through for a minute. “I’d also rather not compete with Six Time. Let’s consider elsewhere in SoCal, or maybe Vegas or Arizona. But again, this is preliminary, Clay. I’d want to go where there’d be a viable market for us.”
“Let’s keep this between us for now, also.”
A nod. “You got it. I’ll be in touch. Good luck this week. Big match.”
“Thanks,” Lindsay says. “Daryn and BK are meeting us in Dallas for tag team training. I sent them a message last night and heard back from them an hour ago.”
“You always know how to prepare,” he smirks. “Talk soon.”
The screen goes black and Lindsay leans back in her chair, looking up at the crystal blue sky. She knows this latest bump in the road needs to run its course, and Tara’s plan of attack is an inventive one, but there’s a part of her that wants to put this ugliness behind her as quickly as possible and move on with her life, even if it means giving up something that she doesn’t want to. She can always rebuild, come back stronger and better, with a new location that will far surpass the current San Diego one.
For now, though, she will stay the course. There’s a more important clash on the horizon.
The metal door squeaks open behind her, and Lindsay looks over her shoulder to see Larry – coffee in hand – walking across the threshold onto the metal grates of the balcony. She gives Ted’s big brother a smile, closing the tablet’s case as she does.
“Hey,” she says, pulling a chair over so he can sit. “You’re up early. You sleep alright?”
“Yeah, not too bad,” he replies, taking a seat and placing his mug atop the table. “Early riser. Hey, what’s the deal with that Conor kid? I caught him looking in my bedroom door last night while I was in bed.”
Lindsay looks at Larry, puzzled, before laughing quietly. “Oh…oh no. He’d had a few too many shots at the bar last night and headed out before us. He might’ve thought you were Ted. I don’t know if he’s realized yet that your brother and I….you know…”
“Ah, makes sense. Weird, mind you, but makes sense.”
“Conor means well,” Lindsay smiles again, “even if he can be a bit hyperactive.”
“Oh you don’t have to explain hyperactive to me,” he snickers, taking a sip of coffee. “Need I remind you who I had the pleasure of growing up with.”
“I can’t even begin to imagine the trouble you two must have gotten into. I’ve already had to bail Ted out of lock-up once because of a misunderstanding with Zeb’s kid sister.”
“Why do you think I became a police officer?” Larry raises his brow.
Lindsay smirks in response. “Discount on bail for your brother?”
Larry simply nods with wide eyes, his grin saying more than enough. He leans back in his chair, looking out over the railing to the joggers gracing the street below before letting out a controlled exhale. “I haven’t seen Ted like this in a long time. It’s…refreshing.”
A hint of pink creeps along Lindsay’s cheeks as she looks down at the table, uncharacteristically shy all of a sudden. “I’m glad.”
“I like you Lindsay, and I like you with my brother. You’re good for him, you’re what he needs. Just know that behind Ted’s devil may care demeanour, when he cares for someone, and I mean really cares,” he pauses, looking back towards her with a hint of a smile. “Well…he’ll be good for you too.”
“This is all still very new, Larry,” she says, taking a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “I’ve had a lot of disappointments in my life. I’m going through a messy divorce; I’m sure he’s told you. It’s not just me that’s affected by that, it’s my kids too, even though they’re technically adults. I walk a tightrope every day, dealing with that, dealing with this life we lead and all the shit that’s thrown our way. I just want you to know that I care about your brother too; if I didn’t, I would have stopped this a month ago.”
“He’s told me. I’ve been there a few times myself,” he empathizes. “And I know you do. I can see it. I’m not trying to overstep, or make you uncomfortable, and if I have, I apologize. I just know that Ted can be…well, Ted. But I also know he has a heart of gold, and given the time, he can be what you need too.”
“No, you haven’t overstepped.” Lindsay places her hand on Larry’s shoulder reassuringly. “If anything, I’m just glad you’re in our corner.”
The metal door behind them slowly creaks open for a second time, prompting both Lindsay and Larry to turn around. Leaning up against the frame is Teddy, wiping away at his eyes, still half asleep. He’s wearing pink drawstring shorts that ride a few inches above the knee, and a teal ‘Fanta’ shirt that’s cut off just above his belly button. He arches his back slightly, scratching his stomach, letting out an exasperated yawn.
“Please,” Larry turns to Lindsay, shaking his head. “Please give him time.”
Lindsay laughs, unable to help herself. “If his wardrobe choice is the worst thing about him, I think I can handle it.”
Thursday, April 15
Maple Avenue Boxing Gym
9AM with nary another soul in the gym save for two HOW tag title contenders looking to find their groove and a team that’s already found it both here and abroad.
This is day three of a three day camp, and it’s going much better than the days before. Lindsay and Teddy, both accomplished singles wrestlers in their own rights, have found success throughout their careers in tag teams with other people: the Queen of the Ring with Dan Ryan, and the current HOW LSD Champion with Alexander Redding. Now, with less than a week to prepare for a monstrous match against StarrSek Industries, Lindsay decided the best way for them to get on the same page, perfect their timing and ensure their chemistry’s right, is to run drills and simulate matches as a tag team. And the only way to do that, is to bring in a team to work with them.
Enter: the Texas Technician, Daryn Thompson, and the Lakeshore Leviathan, Bracken Krueger.
Both youngsters came up through Lindsay’s system in Tampa, and have found success as both singles competitors and tag specialists in Legacy of Champions, GLOBALPRO, and FATE in Japan. Daryn, a third generation star from Dallas, and Bracken, a 6’10” behemoth from Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, became fast friends due to their mutual affection for Muay Thai, dim sum, and Johnnie Walker. It’s fortuitous that the pair are in the States for a month working shows across the South and are able to meet up in Daryn’s hometown to do their mentor a solid in preparation for HOW’s flagship show and the big tag team title semi-main event.
The first day of training was, predictably, a little rough, no thanks in part to Daryn not taking it easy on Teddy while the pair were between the ropes. The two had several run-ins in a past company while Teddy was much more irresponsible, and Thompson didn’t let him forget it, working stiffer than she should for the intended spirit of the camp.
“Why don’t ya show me how you really feel?” Teddy had said, before being rocked by an uppercut.
“Surprised yer not face down in a shot glass, that was yer favorite place to be after all,” was Daryn’s smirking retort.
When he was finally able to tag out to Lindsay, the Queen made sure to give Daryn a small taste of her own medicine, leveling her with a swift knee strike to the abdomen, then bringing her down to the mat with a snap DDT.
“You’re supposed to be helping us, D,” Lindsay said, annoyed, from the mat. “This ain’t it. So whatever residual shit you’re holding onto, work it out outside the ring.”
After a ten minute conversation between herself and Teddy by the heavy bags away from Lindsay and Bracken, the pair made their way back onto the mat.
“You good now?” Lindsay asked.
“We’re good,” Daryn said, nodding. “I’m sorry.”
“Told you to work it out before we got in here,” Bracken said, spitting off to the side. “Can we get back to work now?”
“She started it…” Teddy mumbled, to which Daryn glared at him and Lindsay did the same. “But yeah…we’re good.”
The second day of camp went much smoother than the first, with Teddy and Lindsay finding their rhythm with the timing of their tags and deciding which moves to execute on double-teams. With Bracken significantly outweighing the pair, the veterans had to go to the well and use their skill sets to keep him off his feet so he couldn’t overpower them. They were also able to neutralize Daryn, the smaller of the two, and keep her from tagging out to Bracken.
Today, on day three, the group gathered to discuss ring positioning, as well as the psychology and tactics StarrSek would use throughout the match.
“It’s likely they’re going to try and neutralize me like we neutralized Daryn yesterday in an effort to rile you up, Ted,” Lindsay says, after the drills are done. The group sits in the center of the ring, sipping water and cooling down. “They’re going to use our relationship to their full advantage. You can’t let that bother you. You need to keep your head.”
“I can’t not let it bother me,” he says, squirting a stream of water into his hair. “But I’ll keep my composure.”
“You have to know this is the risk we take,” she replies. “But the way we’re going to win those titles is being better than that. Not letting them get the better of us. I need to do the same; it’s not just you.”
“She’s right,” Daryn says. “And it ain’t her first rodeo, Teddy. The two of you don’t need to be datin’ fer assholes like StarrSek t’have a reason t’run their mouths.”
“Them runnin’ their mouths didn’t stop me from putting both of ‘em down,” Teddy replies. “This week will be different, sure, but I think we can use our relationship to our advantage.”
“If John and Jatt can see that they aren’t frustrating us, then that’s going to frustrate them. They’re prone to make mistakes that way.” Lindsay reaches for a nearby towel and wipes the sweat away from her face. “You can be a Hall of Famer, you can sit at GOD’s right hand, and still make one false move that’ll cost you a match. They think they’ve got the mental edge right now, but we’re going to take that away, and once we do, those belts are as good as ours.”
They say that if we don’t learn from history, then we are doomed to repeat it.
Which makes me wonder, John, if nobody told you this when you decided to drop allusions to sexually assaulting me in the ring on Saturday. I mean, it worked out so well for you when you faced Clay Byrd in the DeNucci Cup, or did Big Beefy Texas Man and the new LSD Champion, Teddy Palmer, ring your bell so badly that you forgot what an absolutely terrible fucking idea that is?
BIG YIKES, MY GUY.
It’s bad enough that week after week, we’re treated to your unhealthy obsession with Mike Best, John. Because I know it’s not an obsession with me. You’ve been riding Mike’s dick for years, and my old relationship with him is just a clever cover for it. Do you miss being a cog in his machine? I’m sure he can find a place for you, if you’re really that desperate and lonesome.
It’s also bad enough that everyone also has to deal with Imbecilic ramblings from HOW’s own Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Jatt Starr who, by the way, gets his jollies off on calling me old, but is so insecure about his own age that he can’t even be bothered to list his date of birth on the HOW website.
How many issues deep into the AARP magazine are you, Jatt? I hear they start sending you that at 50, and since your crows feet are deeper than the Mariana Trench, I have to assume that you’re pushing at least 60 now. Old enough for the Early Bird Specials, but still young enough where you can’t collect Social Security.
What a shame.
I wonder, once Teddy and I relieve you of the tag titles this week, if you and Jatt will finally fuck off once and for all.
A girl can dream, can’t she?