St Louis, MO
“You understand, right?”
Regan’s hand trembled with rage as she held the phone up to her face. She couldn’t hide her emotions as Sektor grinned back at her on the phone’s display. She was furious. She was wrestling for control over him and he was standing firm. Yet he was unaware of her hidden motives.
“I guess I have no choice. Do I?” She spat her words like venom before slamming a polished nail on the red phone logo, disconnecting the call.
Her posture was rigid as she stamped her right heel, before storming past the cargo trucks towards her car.
“Where would you like us to put this, mam?” asked one of the drivers as she stormed past him.
“In the fucking warehouse, where do you think?” she screamed over her shoulder. Yanking the door open of her white Hyundai, she threw herself into the driver’s seat, slamming the door shut with intent.
The leather of the steering wheel squeaked as she wrung her hands on it. Her tight chest was heaving up and down as the anger pulsed through her veins. With one final, deep, breath she let out a blood curdling scream that could have shattered lesser glass.
Hands shaking, she reached over to the glove compartment and popped it open. Lifting out a silver hip flask she unscrewed the cap and thrust it to her lips, like she was taking an antidote to a deadly disease. Reaching up to the sun visor and flipping it open, she looked at herself in the mirror.
“What did you do that for?” she asked, seeming disappointed with her actions. “You’re only going to drive him away!”
She straightened up in her seat as though giving herself a shake.
“Come on girl, get a hold of yourself.”
Glancing down at her phone, in the passenger seat, she reached for it and took a breath before beginning to compose a message:
Sorry! I shouldn’t have hung up. Been a stressful morning. Will leave keys with JD.
Later that day…
Meet me at the family arena tonight in St Charles to watch Adam! Will call when I land to arrange time.
05:30am: Weighed in at 225lbs this morning. My weight when I was fat was 245lbs. I’m lean, toned and healthy. I feel light on my feet and shedding all that weight took the strain off my joints. Matt wants me back close to the 245lb mark for when I wrestle Clay. This time, all muscle. I worry that the weight may slow me down, but I trust the science he is applying to the process.
I’ve chartered a private jet to take us all to Missouri. I don’t want any travel fatigue and I’m eager to get in the new facility and get grinding. Every second is precious.
Big Night for Adam in the Heartland, let’s see what he’s learned.
Will work on a training schedule with the team on the flight over.
After my awkward phone call with Regan I decided to finish breakfast and head over to my old gym. I wanted to pay my old wrestling coach Micky a visit before we got on the plane Monday morning. God knows when I’d be coming home..
I told him all about our plans to open a wrestling academy. He seemed excited for me and was pleased that I had something to focus on. What he really wanted to say was that he was happy I was behaving myself and staying clean. We talked for a good hour about old memories as well as my upcoming title defence against Clay. I laid out my plans for an intensive couple of weeks of training.
Micky felt the need to remind me that ‘rest and relaxation’ was just as important as the time spent in the gym. ‘Too much work makes John a sad boy,’ as he put it. It made me think of Regan. Perhaps I was too hard on her. After all, she’d worked hard to secure the facility, equipment and get it all set up for us in time for this training period. Perhaps spending a couple of hours with her wouldn’t do any harm. So decided to invite her to watch Adam compete in the ten man battle royale in St Charles. Hell, I was going anyway so she might as well tag along.
I tried to convince Micky to join the team but he politely declined. He felt the kids in his gym needed him and I respected that. After all, I wouldn’t be where I am today if he hadn’t shown that commitment to me all those years ago. He was like the father I wished I had. I would have loved to have him around to put the new cadets through their paces..
St Louis, MO
Sektor’s Unnamed Facility
We landed in St Louis at around 10am. I spent most of the two and half hour flight trying to distract myself from the unsettling notion of Clay Byrd trying to take my position in the Best Alliance. I couldn’t let him get in my head. He was full of shit. I’m Lee’s guy and everyone knows that. I’m the one he calls upon to get shit done. I’m his ‘Hitman.’ This was all an attempt to get in my head, as he had been trying to do for the past few weeks. I’ve played this game before and I knew how to win.
Just don’t bite…
The minivan pulled up outside of the warehouse and we all rushed to get off and get inside. Everyone was pumped to see what it looked like and we were all eager to get to work. JD (John Durnian) was waiting for us as Regan had promised.
JD held the door for us. I entered first, followed by Adam, Matt and Simon. We all gasped in unison as we looked around. Carrying my LSD championship over my shoulder, I instantly spotted the squared circle in the middle of the old warehouse. It was practically glistening like a shiny new toy. I could hear the others talking and commenting but their words didn’t register. I was being pulled towards that ring as though it had a tractor-beam.
As I got close I reached out a hand, as though I was about to touch an untamed animal. The canvas was soft and clean as I brushed my fingers over it. Leaning in, I pressed my nose to the apon, sniffing it gently. It smelled so clean and new, no hint of sweat or blood. It was pure and unsullied. Soon it would be broken in and smelling of hard work. But for now? I enjoy her.
I wanted to get inside her instantly, but my sneakers were grubby from my journey.
“Adam?” I called, looking across the gym at him. He was sitting on the bench of a lateral press, testing out one of the machines.
“Fetch my wrestling shoes,” I commanded, taking a step back to admire her as I waited.
“She’s a beauty,” came the voice of JD as he joined me at my side.
I nodded in agreement. Beauty was an understatement. My very own wrestling ring. That I owned! This was a special day. I then noticed the writing on the side of the apron. As I looked closer I noticed the same logo in the centre of the canvas.
“G.S.W.A?” I asked, in the direction of my personal trainer. “What’s that?”
JD looked at me as though I was being basic. “Gold Standard Wrestling Academy,” he explained, as though it was obvious.
“When did we decide this?” I asked scornfully, knowing full well who had made this decision without my consent.
“Heh, Regan said she was taking a risk. She figured you’d like it. You can always change it if you’re not happy with it,” he explained.
I was trying to decide whether I was mad because I didn’t like it, or whether I was just being petty because I hadn’t come up with it.
“I guess it works,” I eventually conceded. “It’s a little close to the ‘Five Time Academy.’ But fuck Mike!”
My bag boy arrived with my gym bag, placing it down carefully near my feet and unzipping it. He pulled out my wrestling shoes, which I use for training, and handed them to me.
“Thanks kid,” I said, taking a seat on the steel steps.
I slipped off my sneakers and laced up the wrestling shoes, skipping up the steps in my shorts like a kid running down the stairs on Christmas morning. I stood on the outside of the apron, running the top rope through my fingers. The rubber hose felt amazing with no signs of cracks from years of stress and abuse. I wiped my feet for the first time on the apron, before ducking under the ropes.
From the centre of the ring I stood and looked around the entire gym for the first time. Shining back at me were all the new toys I’d spent my hard earned money on, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in myself on equipment alone. You name it, we had everything. Weights of all shapes and sizes, machines, leg presses, chest presses, cables, rowing machines, bikes, treadmills, cross-fit, pads, punching bags, mats, rope..everything!
And it was all in one place.
At that moment I couldn’t have been happier. I almost felt like I’d made it. But I reminded myself that the second you think you’ve made it? You should retire. Without chasing something you won’t push yourself and I know that. I knew that when I won my last World title. I knew that when I got in the Hall of Fame. I haven’t made it, not in my mind.
I slipped the LSD title off my shoulder and laid it down carefully on the outer apron, before slipping up my hoody and hanging it in the corner. On my heels I ran straight to the ropes and bounced off them from one side of the other, repeating the process to feel them out. The ropes hurt more than normal, because they were brand new and hadn’t been broken in yet.
Eventually I stopped. I could have played around all day but we had work to do.
“Alright guys listen up!” I yelled, clapping my hands together twice to get their attention.
One by one they made their way over to the ring, looking up at me as I leaned over the ropes.
“We need to remember, that this academy? Isn’t just for the students,” I explained, giving Adam a lingering look. “This is for me! You are all here to get the best out of me and to make sure I achieve MY goals. The ultimate goal?” I paused, taking time to look at each of their faces for commitment. “To become World champion!”
A few whoops from the guys in support of that notion.
“To get there? I have to get through the Monster from Plain-view Texas,” I laughed, in my worst attempt at a southern drawl. “Clay Byrd may just be my toughest opponent yet. He hell bent on beating me and taking away this title,” I explained, picking up the LSD championship and holding it up for them all to see. “This is what it’s all about. We got eleven days before we head to Chicago. Let’s make every second count!”
More enthusiastic whoops as they clap their hands in appreciation.
“JD, what we got first hermano?”
“Leg day!” he laughed.
I fucking hate leg day.
Everyone hates leg day.
13:45pm: 2 hours of cardio done. Legs are warmed and ready for an excruciating afternoon of leg building.
Lunch was unreal. I’ve never eaten so much in one sitting. Poached salmon with eggs and steamed vegetables, followed by pasta in an organic tomato sauce. Washed town with another protein shake.
17:00pm: 3 hours of leg building. JD really pushed me to fatigue the muscles on each exercise. We didn’t do sets, instead we were going until ‘fail’. JD tells me it’s a technique to get maximum fatigue into the muscles, so that we can build. You literally push yourself until you cannot physically lift any more. My legs are like acid now.
Legs are always important in wrestling. You get your power from the legs. That count’s double for Clay. I need all the extra strength and power I can get. I will NOT be bullied around the ring by him!
17:15pm: Carbs, carbs and more carbs!
18:30pm: Adam and I broke in the new ring and had a little sparring session. His skills are coming on nicely, but he’s still over eager. Will see how he does tonight. Matt is making me take a bag of nuts to eat…
Missouri Valley Wrestling
Wrestling Night in the Heartland on HOTv
The Family Arena
St. Charles, MO
“SCOTT STEVENS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!”
“HAhahaha, what a loser,” I laughed.
Adam was doing pretty well. He’d survived six eliminations in the battle royale and was already in the top four. He hadn’t eliminated anyone himself, but he was surviving and holding his own.
The family arena could hold almost 12,000 people for a wrestling event, and it looked almost sold out. I was able to blend in with a baseball cap and sunglasses. I was avoiding anyone noticing me and mobbing me for photographs.
“Do you like your office?” Regand asked, looking up at me with her crystal blue eyes.
“I do,” I simply replied, keeping my eyes focussed on the match.
Things had been a bit awkward with Regan. I was consciously trying to keep her at arms-length without coming across as rude. I really didn’t want her getting in the way of this training period and causing a distraction. She kept trying to make conversation and I just kept killing it dead with one or two word answers. She must have thought I was the most ungrateful fucker on the planet.
My office was fucking sweet to be fair. It had a solid oak desk with a high power computer, which was rigged up to a projector overlooking the window which overlooked the entire gym. I could stand and watch people train and then when I pull down the blind? It reveals a projector screen. I’ve got Bose speakers in the ceiling, a bar (which I won’t be using for now), and a nice simple whiteboard for scratching down notes and ideas. There’s a watercooler, coffee machine and even a little refrigerator. No to mention an intercom system so that I can shout abuse to the students down on the shop floor. Most importantly it was soundproofed.
She really had thought of everything..
“At the back of the building is an annex that can sleep up to 20 people. The team can sleep there for now until their living quarters are built,” she explained.
“Where do I sleep?”
She was giving me those eyes again, seducing me into her web of sin.
“Well, I am just rattling around in that house all on my lonesome. Makes sense for you to..”
“Save it, Regan,” I growled, not having any of it.
“W-hat?” she gasped, appearing genuinely confused by my reaction.
“What are you not getting here? I told you, you’re a distraction! Are you trying to make me lose my title?” I barked, wide eyed and accusing.
“Don’t be so ridiculous! Why would I want that?”
I didn’t answer her, I just crossed my arms and tried to focus on the match. Adam looked like he was in trouble.
“Fine, get a hotel. But you’re going to be spending a lot of time in St Louis,” she argued. “So I figured It would save you some money bunking in with me,” she explained, trying to make the offer sound innocent.
This is what women do. They trick you into thinking you’re staying over. They talk you into keeping an overnight bag. Before you know it you’re living together, getting married and sharing a bank account.
“I’ll crash with the team for now. Have some private quarters built for me,” I instructed.
“Have them built yourself!” she snapped back, her neck cranking to the side to accentuate the sass.
“Fine,” I replied, letting out a sigh.
“ADAM ELLIS HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!”
“Damn,” I whispered.
I noticed her pouting next to me and I could tell she was upset. I’ve been cold and cruel for so long that I forget how much rejection can hurt. Why did I care? Was I starting to like this woman? If I am then I’m in a whole world of trouble.
“Look, I’m not saying I won’t stay over from time to time,” I said, placing an arm around her toned shoulder. “Just right now my mind is a hundred percent on this title defence and I don’t have room for anything else.”
Her smile looked like relief as she looked up at me. I found myself staring at her lips. They were pulling me. I had to stay strong.
“I’ll catch up with you later, enjoy the rest of the show,” I added, turning to leave.
Her face melted into shock and disbelief. “Where are you going?”
“To see Adam,” I said with a shrug.
“Well I’ll come with you,” she added, reaching down to pick up her purse.
As sensitively as I could I started to explain how this was a man thing and that he and I needed some one on one time. I told her that the feedback I was about to give him will likely be tough for him to swallow, and it will save him some embarrassment if we did it in private. I could tell she was still disappointed, but she made the effort to act as though she was fine with it. Which was good enough for me.
I caught up with Adam backstage. He was busy downing a bottle of water, so I picked the right time to give him a hearty pat on the back.
Poor kid was choking on the water for a solid minute before he could breathe properly.
“What you do that for,” he croaked, as the air was going into his lungs instead of out.
“Ahh, quit being a baby. You did good out there tonight,” I said. I always struggled to give people compliments. Especially when I knew it meant something coming from me.
“Really? I dunno, I felt I could have won,” he admitted.
It was good that he was so ambitious, but it was my job to keep his feet on the ground.
“Ah, you placed fourth and there were some big names in there. Now you’re the number one contender for the Heartland championship,” I explained, giving him a hearty pat on the arm.
“Oh shit!” he gasped excitedly. “I didn’t even realise!”
“Yeah, so keep working hard and keep winning. You never know, you might be a champion soon. Just like your mentor here,” I said, giving him a wink.
I could see the fire in his eyes. It was like I’d jumped into a time machine and travelled all the way back to when I was his age. I was younger than him when I won my first championship. Hell, I was younger than him when I won my first HOW championship. Which just so happened to be the LSD. But I had that same fire in my eyes and that same hunger in my stomach. That first championship is everything.
“Where’s Ms Marsden?” Adam asked, suddenly realising that she wasn’t with me.
“She’s still out there watching the show,” I explained, sticking some change into the vending machine to get water.
“You and her are getting pretty close,” he teased.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself kid,” I grunted, unscrewing the cap from the water. “You’ve known her longer than me, what’s her story?”
I studied him down the neck of the bottle as I started to drink. His shrug of the shoulders told me he either didn’t give a shit or didn’t know. Both probably.
“I don’t really know anything about her. I am grateful though,” he added, sparking my curiosity.
“Yeah. I mean, it was her who put in a good word with the guys here when you were looking for someone to work with.”
My gut suddenly sprung into life, and it wasn’t the absurd amount of carbs I consumed that day. Something wasn’t right.
“Hang on. She asked them to suggest you?”