“Styles make fights”.
That’s the sort of hollow aphorism the so-called experts usually trot out when discussing fights of this calibre. Two technicians: one a gritty competitor of the ground and pound variety, the other a proud practitioner of this noble sport in all its aesthetic glory. Will Sektor’s ruthless aggression trump de Lacy’s artistry, or will the Englishman’s ring-savvy give him the edge over his hot-headed counterpart?
Damned if I know.
I leave the pontificating to the armchair critics. The same people that didn’t give me a hope in hell against Shane Reynolds. The same people that questioned my desire after the loss to Rhys Townshend. The very people who continue to cast doubt over my legitimacy, despite the myriad wins over ex-champions, Hall of Famers, and countless other Johnny-come-latelys invariably touted as the next big thing.
Quite frankly, I have long since stopped listening to the noise emanating from know-it-all marks who don’t know their arse from their elbow drops. Why?
Because… I AM WORTHY.
I haven’t dedicated my life to this dear sport for the plaudits. Lord knows I don’t do it for the money. No, I continue to lace up my boots and step into that ring because I know I am great at what I do. I don’t need the affirmation of the boys in the back to tell me that. I don’t need an employee of the month plaque or a pat on the head from Lee Best. I know.
And yet, at the tender age of 45, I am under no illusions. Better men than I have concluded much celebrated careers as they reach their middle years, acutely aware that their best days are behind them. They lose a yard of pace, find they’re not quite as nimble as they once were, and discover that although the mind is still willing, the body isn’t.
It’s a terrifying realisation, I’m sure, and one I don’t look forward to encountering any time soon. I’m acutely aware that time is not on my side.
Then again, I was never blessed with an Adonis-like figure or lightning-fast reflexes. My game has always been one of intellect. It had to be.
So what makes me different?
There’s an old saying in our business: “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” And let me tell you, I’ve seen plenty of those so-called “spot monkeys” light up the sky with their death-defying stunts, only to fizzle out before their time. Kids with more guts than brains, throwing themselves off ladders, through tables, playing to the crowd’s thirst for spectacle. But where are they now? Most are broken, battered, forgotten – their bodies worn out before they even hit forty.
Me? I’ve always played a different game. A longer, smarter game. I use my brain, not just my brawn. I’m not out here trying to impress the baying masses with high-flying antics or reckless abandon. That’s a young man’s folly, a path to a short and painful career. I’m in it for the long haul. Every move I make, every hold I apply, is calculated. Precision over pandemonium, strategy over spectacle. It’s not about how hard you can hit, but how smart you can fight.
I’ve outlasted those “human highlight reels” precisely because I know this sport isn’t just about physical strength; it’s about mental agility, about being two steps ahead of your opponent and the ever-changing game. That’s how I’ve remained at the top of my game for so long. I adapt, I evolve, I outthink. I don’t sacrifice my body for a fleeting moment of glory. I fight smart, and that’s why I last. That’s why I’m still here, doing what I love, when so many others have fallen by the wayside.
In this game, the brightest stars often burn out the fastest. But me? I’m the enduring flame, burning steadily, outlasting them all. Because in this world, brains beat brawn, every single time.
I’m not quite yet ready to go gentle into that dark night.
I don’t want my journey in this sport to be a tale of mere survival. I want it to be one of triumph, of a legacy meticulously crafted through intellect and calculated risk. But as I stand here before you, basking in the comforting glow of past victories and the promise of future conquests, I find myself contemplating an elaborate career that still feels… incomplete.
What is it that eludes me still? What could satiate the hunger that governs my every waking thought?
Ah, yes. A little something to stand as a testament to my dignity, my prowess. Something that reflects the caliber of gentleman I am – one accustomed to the finer things in life. Something tangible, something… gold, perhaps. And, I must confess, there’s a particular glint of gold that catches my eye, dear reader: the HOTV title, currently gracing the waist of John Sektor.
That title demands a representative who exemplifies the more edifying qualities of our company’s roster. The HOTV title isn’t just a belt; it should be a symbol of excellence, a beacon for those who elevate our craft beyond mere physicality. It should be an honour bestowed upon those who can blend the art and science of wrestling, who can embody the spirit and the ethos of our sport. And that, my friends, is a mantle I am more than ready to assume.
You see, the recognition I can take or leave. It really matters not to me. But seeing Sektor sporting that HOTV title… well, that’s an affront to my delicate sensibilities. Seeing him parading around the place with that belt, it’s like a lady of the night draping herself in the Queen’s jewels; an absurd spectacle, a clumsy masquerade in which the finery only serves to underscore the fraud.
Don’t get me wrong, John. You are indeed a man of commendable talent. In fact, we are not so different, you and I. We both stand as seasoned veterans in this arena, respected for our technical prowess and our measured approach to every bout. You, much like myself, are a student of the sport, dedicated to dissecting your opponents and capitalising on their weaknesses.
However, that’s where the similarities end. The divergence emerges when you examine our temperaments. I take pride in being a cool and collected figure in the world of wrestling. The very epitome of British restraint. I seldom allow my emotions to steer the course of a match. Every move I make is a calculated decision.
In contrast, John, your reputation is built upon violent outbursts and unpredictable fits of rage. While your technical skills are unquestionable, your emotional volatility often takes you down a turbulent path. It’s a stark dichotomy in our approaches. And one I fully intend to exploit.
Lately, you have positioned yourself as a mentor to the younger wrestlers and while on the surface this might appear an altruistic act, one must question your motives and suitability for such a role. Is this a genuine desire to guide the next generation, John, or a subtle admission that your time in the ring is waning? Perhaps you sense the twilight of your career approaching, seeking a job beyond the ropes, beyond the cheers and the glory. In the art of war, the ageing general often turns to teaching, leaving the front lines to younger, more agile warriors. Are you preparing for your own inevitable retreat?
But let us not forget, Sektor, you have always sought solace in numbers. Take, for example, your association with the Alliance. Ever the loyal soldier in Lee Best’s army, eh John? There’s a certain irony, isn’t there, in aligning yourself with the very embodiment of wrestling’s corporate malice? It begs the question: do you seek strength in numbers to mask your own inadequacies? There’s an old adage about birds of a feather, and in your case, it seems you’ve chosen to roost with those who share a penchant for… let’s call it ‘moral flexibility.’
You stand with the Alliance, a faction siding with evil, perhaps seeking shelter under the wings of power. Does the great John Sektor need the backing of Lee Best and his cohorts to maintain his stature? Is this a sign of a wrestler looking to shore up his defences, aware that his own might no longer be enough?
I have walked a different path. I’ve never sought the patronage of my superiors, never felt the need to align with powers-that-be for my own gain. My journey in this sport has been a solitary one, in which any advantages I may have been afforded in my youth were only ever held against me. Where the only person I’ve ever needed in my corner is my faithful manservant, Mickey. He doesn’t offer me the protection of a faction or the influence of a wrestling magnate. No, Mickey provides something far more valuable: unwavering loyalty and the kind of support that can’t be bought with contracts or titles.
You see, Sektor, while you stand in the shadows of the Alliance, I stand alone, unafraid to face the challenges of this sport with nothing but my own skill and intellect. I don’t need an army to fight my battles, nor do I require the underhanded tactics of a faction to secure my victories. My success is not bolstered by alliances or favours; it is earned through sheer determination, strategy, and a profound understanding of this art form.
So, as Chaos approaches, remember this: while you bring the weight of your faction, I bring the strength of self-reliance. And in the ring, it’s not the numbers that count, but the resolve of a single, indomitable spirit. That, John Sektor, is the essence of a true champion – the ability to stand alone, unbowed and unbroken, even when the odds are stacked against you.
I remember exiting the warmth of the long black car, my little black overcoat wrapped tightly around me. Sebastian, my cherished Steiff Teddy Bear, clutched to my breast. I remember the bell tolling time in a spire above the roof. Jean-Pierre carried my trunk into the shadowy hallway. I glance back forlornly. Nannie waves solemnly from the passenger window. I remember the sound of the car starting and fading away in this lonely ungentle world as the rain beat down on my tousled hair.
“Come Charles, meet some of your dormitory mates. That’s a good chap, this way.”
I am ushered through an oaken door by a gangly man in wireframe spectacles. He seems impossibly old, though I don’t imagine he’s much older than I am now as I recall these events.
A large room of high windows, tables, chairs and benches. The wood gouged with initials and names. The walls kicked and scarred. And a little group of gurning school kids at the window. They approach, unsmiling, and brush past me like grazing cattle. One hand is put forward in greeting.
“There you are, this is Charles. He is from York, boys. Welcome him. No nonsense now. You, Oliver, stop picking your nose and show Charles here the way about.”
And with that Mr Spectacles disappears. The door closed. The little group grinning again. One boy feels the fabric of my overcoat. I twitch my shoulder away.
I stare at the hard unforgiving faces and step back, squeezing Sebastian tightly.
“New boy give us that bear. We don’t have toys here.”
“New boy give us that bear.”
The little circle tightens around me. Pudgy hands reach and pull at Sebastian.
“Give us that bear new boy if you know what’s good for you.”
I feel my heart racing. Thump. Thump. Thump. The leaves of the sycamore trees brush the squares of the window pane. A grimy hand tugs at Sebastian’s ear. Other fingers clawing at the crook of my elbow, desperately trying to prise him from my grasp.
“You can’t get out of her new boy.”
I raise a little fist and strike out. The faces close in again. A hand pushes hard against my chest. I feel myself careening backwards, a boy crouching behind my knees. Sebastian is pulled from my hands as I fall. My head bangs against the floor and stars dance across a sudden blackness. As I open my eyes I see Sebastian’s grey innards stretched from his gut and torn to pieces by the laughing hands.
I am incandescent with rage.
I rise shouting and flailing my arms. The door handle turns, A sudden scuffling commotion. Then silence. A row of little boys seated primly at their desks, studiously examining their textbooks, faces contorted in thought.
“What’s this nonsense going on in here. What’s the dreadful meaning of this?”
I am led away by the ear. Back down the long dark corridor. My chest trembling with every breath. Through a swing door into a large room with panelled walls and ceiling. Pushed towards a big leather chair I take a seat. A tall thin man in a dark checked coat enters. I stare at his brightly polished boots, refusing to meet his gaze.
“Charles, I am your housemaster. Who pushed you down.”
“I do not know.”
“It’s not unusual for the students to become a little… boisterous on meeting a new classmate. We have some strong characters here. Did you get a cup of tea?”
“Did you enjoy your little tea?”
“It was quite reasonable.”
“You’re a precocious little chap. Where did you study previously?”
“Who taught you?”
“Good show. You’re a dear little chap.”
“Do not speak to me like that.”
“I beg your pardon.”
“I do not want to be called a dear little chap. I am a small human being.”
“I see. Well perhaps it’s time we took you to your dormitory. Our small human being will be playing rugby tomorrow.”
“I have no intention of playing rugby, sir.”
The housemaster’s expression shifts from bemusement to a mild exasperation. “Well, Charles, rugby is part of our curriculum here. It’s important for building character and camaraderie.”
I clench my fists, still fuming over the incident with Sebastian. “I have no interest in camaraderie, and I certainly won’t partake in a sport that involves throwing myself about in the mud!”
The housemaster sighs, leaning back in his leather chair. “You may find, young Charles, that there are times when one must engage in activities that one might not initially prefer. It’s all part of growing up and learning to be a well-rounded individual.”
I remain defiant. “I won’t do it.”
He regards me for a moment, his eyes betraying a hint of sympathy. “Very well, Charles. We won’t force you to play rugby. But do understand that there are consequences for defying the norms of this institution.”
I meet his gaze with determination, my resolve unshaken. “I understand, sir.”
With a resigned nod, he rises from his chair. “Let’s get you settled into your dormitory then. We’ll discuss this further in due time.”
As I follow him back down the dimly lit corridor,a sinking realisation washes over me – the familiar comforts of home might as well have been a distant, unreachable dream. This austere institution represents my inaugural foray into the harsh realities of the “real world,” and I have swiftly arrived at the conclusion that I hold little affection for it.
I awoke to a disorienting scene – the cold, sterile titles of a hospital room greeting my groggy eyes. Tubes and monitors surround me, serving as a stark reminder of the In God’s House PPV and the brutal match against Shane Reynolds that had left me battered and broken.
A feeling of vulnerability washed over me, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I had ended up there. Memories of the match and the pain that had followed began to resurface.
Just as despair began to settle in, a familiar voice broke through the sterile silence. “Well, look who’s finally decided to join the land of the living,” Mickey, my loyal cockney manservant, sidled into the room, his face adorned with a cheshire cat grin.
In his hands, he carried a small bottle of scotch, a glimmer of solace in this clinical setting. Mickey knew just how to raise my spirits when life had dealt me a harsh blow.
I offered a weak smile as Mickey approached, my voice barely above a whisper. “Mickey, it feels like I’ve taken one too many hits lately. Maybe I’m getting too old for this business.”
Mickey’s eyes sparkled as he uncorked the bottle of scotch. He poured a small measure into a paper cup, handed it to me, and took a seat beside the hospital bed. “Nonsense, Mr. Charlie,” he exclaimed. “You’re as tough as they come, and you’ve got more fight left in you than most.”
I took a sip of the scotch, its warmth spreading through me, and I found solace in Mickey’s unwavering belief in me. “You really think so, Mickey?”
Mickey nodded vigorously. “Absolutely, Mr. de Lacy. And speaking of fights, you’re not going to believe this. You’ve got yourself a title shot against none other than John Sektor!”
I blinked, the fog of my injuries gradually lifting. “John Sektor?”
Mickey grinned. “The very same, sir. And let me tell you, he’s been looking vulnerable lately. I’ve watched his matches, and I’m convinced he’s there for the taking.”
As Mickey continued to regale me with his observations and strategic insights about Sektor’s recent performances, a newfound sense of excitement surged through me. The prospect of reclaiming my place at the top of the wrestling world, even after my recent injuries, felt invigorating.
“You know what, Mickey?” I said, my voice growing stronger with each word. “Maybe I’m not too old for this. I’m ready for this title shot, and I’m going to show everyone that I’ve still got what it takes.”
Mickey’s eyes gleamed with pride. “That’s the spirit, Mr. Charlie! You’ve always been a fighter, and this is your chance to prove it once again.”
As the conversation continued, a lingering concern gnawed at me. “Mickey, I’ve seen how aggressive Sektor can be in that ring. He’s a force to be reckoned with. After my match with Reynolds, I’m not sure I have the stamina for another all-out war.”
Mickey leaned in, his voice low and conspiratorial. “He’s an ‘ard bastard, no doubt. But just like Reynolds, everyone has their weaknesses.”
I raised an eyebrow, intrigued. “And what might those weaknesses be, Mickey?”
Mickey leaned back, a sly grin on his face. “Well, I’ve been doing some research, and it turns out that Sektor’s knees have taken quite a beating over the years. They’re fucked.”
I rebuked Mickey with a withering look. He knew of my distaste for profanity.
“Sorry, Mr Charlie. I meant to say that ‘is knees are in a right old state.”
A spark of excitement kindled in me as I considered the possibilities. “His knees, you say?”
Mickey nodded. “That’s right. If you target those knees, you might just find a chink in his armor. Wear him down, and you’ll have the advantage. There’s no way he’s kicking out your suplex with those knees.”
I felt a sudden surge of confidence at the tactical advantage Mickey had pointed out. With renewed determination, I set my sights on the upcoming title match against John Sektor, knowing that my experience and strategic approach, combined with Mickey’s insights, could prove to be the winning combination.
“Thank you, Mickey,” I said with a grateful smile. “With your help and a well-executed plan, we might finally see a bit of gold.”
Mickey patted my shoulder reassuringly. “That’s the spirit, Mr. de Lacy. Together, we’ll make sure you come out of this match as the champion you were always meant to be.”