The Ozarks, MO
“NUMBER NINE! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
We had dragged the recruits out to the Ozark mountains to put them through a gruelling hike with full gear on their back. It was a test of physical and mental endurance. It’s how soldiers train. It’s how people train for Ironman competitions and it’s how I’m training for my own Iron Man event. They were all suffering in their own way, but number nine was falling way behind the pack.
As he breathed heavily on all fours, staring down at the rocky surface and sucking in air, I leaned over him for a scolding.
“Why are you at the back number nine?” I screamed.
“I-I’m sorry, coach,” he gasped.
“Don’t give me fucking sorry! Number four is a ahead of you. She’s a fucking girl! Do you like being beaten by girls number nine?”
“No coach,” he solemnly replied, his eyes filled with embarrassment and fatigue.
“Then why are you so far back?”
“I’m fucked!” he gasped, leaning back on his heels and staring up at me with eyes that begged for mercy.
“Fucked? FUCKED? You think you can just quit when you’re in the ring? Do you want to be a fucking embarassment to my sport? Is that it?”
“Do you want to give me your number?”
I held out my hand, giving him the chance to rip off his arm band and hand it to me. Then it would all be over for him. He could return to the bus and rest up. I could tell he was considering it. He looked at my outstretched hand as though I was holding a fist full of blood money.
Eventually he shook his head.
“Then MOVE! GETTHE FUCK UP THAT HILL!”
Your positive motivator is the thing that will drag you through even the toughest of times, giving you the inspiration you need to make the most of your strengths and overcome your weaknesses. I hear so many times when people have complained about how much effort they’ve wasted on a particular situation and got nowhere. The answer is usually obvious – the missing ingredient is almost always positivity. They’ll say ‘How the fuck am I supposed to think positively when I can’t dig myself out of this hole?’ My answer? ‘You’re stuck there because you’re not thinking positively.’
Each of these recruits have got all these elements, which are great; but they’re running on negative fuel, and they’ve got nothing to give them a positive motivator, a light at the end of the tunnel. None of them know when this is going to end, whether they will make it, how hard it’s going to get.
I like to think that the ones who are running at the front are focussing on the drive of proving to themselves that they are tough. That they can endure this physical stress and overcome it to get stronger. That all of this is a means to an end, which for them is the opportunity to become a professional wrestler. It doesn’t matter what that motivator is. It’s only positivity – that will tie all your effort and drive together, and keep you bouncing back.
My positive motivator is obvious. It’s the LSD championship. It’s breaking the records as it’s champion. It’s increasing my incredible legacy even further. I want to be the best version of myself so that I can leave behind a story that will inspire future generations of wrestlers. This requires hard work, blood, sweat and even tears. Having this positive motivator means that I’m willing to endure whatever sacrifices I need to make. I know I’ll constantly need to evolve and change to get there; but that’s fine, because I know it’ll be worth it.
You have to take time to work out what you really want from life. It’s by looking inside yourself, interrogating your priorities , really examining your ambitions, that you’ll find your positive motivator.
Cutting ties with Jatt wasn’t an easy decision, but it was necessary. Once I realised that he was a source of negativity I had to remove him from life. He was a negative influence on me. So when I say he was holding me back it goes deeper than the obvious. Just being around his mentality was draining and subconsciously it was preventing me from finding any kind of positive motivation.
I loved Jatt. I still do. I wouldn’t offer to share the stage with him at Rumble at the Rock if I didn’t. Whilst he may downplay the gravity of this match, I know just how special it will be from when the bell rings till the very end of that ninety-seventh minute. Having Jatt in this match adds a different dimension. It makes it personal. Not only do I have to endure a ninety-seven minute Iron man match, but I have to do it against one of the greatest of all time. I have to do it against a man who has his own motivation.
Jatt is motivated to hurt me. To beat me. To embarrass me so that he can make himself feel better. That’s negative motivation. In the end, his anger will be his downfall as I will clinically take him apart.
Positivity always beats negativity.
Later that day.
St Louis, MO
It was dark when we returned to the GSWA. We had been out for over twelve hours, romping on uneven terrain with thirty kilo’s on our backs. I was muddy, smelly and sore, but myself and the other coaches looked to be in much better shape than the others. I was convinced that today’s exercise would break at least one of them and cause them to hand me their number. To my surprise, all twelve remain.
I hadn’t competed since my title defence against Flyer. So I’d spent the last few weeks training the recruits and Adam, as well as helping Adam rise through the ranks in MVW. I’ve also been training for the Iron Man, with Jatt held firmly in the centre of my mind. Now I was booked to wrestle Jatt and Jace in a tag match, with my last pay per view opponent as my partner.
Eventually I unlocked the door to my accommodation, which is situated around the back of the main GSWA building and across the training yard from the recruits dorm. I stumbled into the bedroom and hit the bed face-first. It felt like a post-traumatic stress reaction.
I couldn’t remember ever being so utterly spent. After what seemed like a few seconds, a pounding sound roused me from a puddle of drool. Blinking stupidly, I lifted my flat, creased face and pushed my aching body up from the bed.
The annoying thumping was coming from the door. I staggered through my small home and turned the knob.
I was too tired to keep my eyelids up. Something smelled good. If only I could get my eyes open.
“Where have you been all my life, handsome?”
It was Regan.
I stepped aside, discarding all vestiges of vanity and self-respect, and opened the door wide. She walked past me and crossed to one of the chairs at my desk. An office away from my office. I managed to get my left eye open halfway. She looked devastating. Dropping into the seat and crossing her legs elegantly, she turned her gaze back toward me.
“Did I wake you?”
Mistress of the obvious. I grunted and wandered into the bathroom. God, I was a mess. My face looked like a balled-up pair of khakis. It desperately needed to be steam-cleaned and pressed.
I crawled into the shower. Between the hot water and the potent deodorant soap, my synaptic functions reluctantly emerged from hibernation. I towelled off and slipped on a bathrobe, walking back into my office. Regand was just returning to her seat. Apparently, she’d been doing a little snooping.
“Find anything interesting?” I asked, dropping into my desk chair.
She looked at me openly, the very soul of innocence.
“What do you mean?”
“Searching my office would be like me going through your purse.”
Regan smiled disarmingly. “You can look in my purse. I don’t mind.”
“That’s not the point.” I pinched the bridge of my nose and looked up at the ceiling.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Regan still smiling at me.
“Are you always this friendly when you get up?” she asked.
She was incorrigible. It didn’t seem to matter that I was annoyed. The more I got to know Regan, the more I realised that I had to take her on her own terms. Being upset by her uncontrolled curiosity was like resenting a carrot for being orange. She was the way she was, and if that wasn’t good enough, well too bad.
Unfortunately, even when she was pushing the wrong buttons, I was overwhelmingly attracted to her. What I really wanted to do was leap over my desk and show her all the steps of the forbidden dance of love. But caving in to carnal desire at this point would only condone her attitude. I had an image to uphold. I turned back to her, a pillar of strength in terrycloth.
“So, what brings you here?”
“I missed you, ofcourse,” she gasped, shooting me a look as though that were obvious. “How was your day with the recruits?” she asked, oscillating her slender hips in my office chair.
“It was good. I tortured them. None of them cracked. I got to know them a little better as individuals so now I can start picking at their weaknesses,” I explain.
“You sound like a sadist.”
“Well I take pride in inflicting misery onto others, so I guess I am,” I said, tired and matter of fact.
“You look like you endured some misery yourself,” she smirked.
She reached down to my desk and grasped a packet of cigarettes with her nimble fingers. As she held one between her lips, I wondered if she would ask my permission to smoke in my office. The familiar sound of the zippo being flicked open answered my question.
“I hear Adam’s doing well. He’s been promoted to the men’s division,” she mentioned, taking a drag and making sure to blow the smoke in my direction.
“I hear you had something to do with it,” she continued, watching my expression carefully.
“If you mean shouting at Ray until he gave us what we wanted, then yeah!”
“You know that’s not what I mean..”
Ellis competed in a match against Ken Kardoucheian where if he won he would move into the Men’s division as number four ranked. His opponent’s old man tried to interfere in the match so I stretched the mother fucker. Adam won, I just had his back.
“I ensured the match was contested on a level playing field,” I diplomatically replied.
“Well, moving into the Men’s division means more money. Which means more money to us so make sure you pass on my congratulations,” she said with a smirk, flicking the ash into my used coffee mug.
What she didn’t know was that Ellis wasn’t paying me a penny for my services. As soon as Regan signed over her services to me I made sure he kept all his earnings to himself. MVW is a good promotion, but it pays peanuts, and I didn’t need it. When the day comes and I finally retire and he’s landed a big time contract? Then we’ll talk-turkey. For now? It’s our little secret. See, I’m not such a monster after all.
“I believe you have an interesting match this weekend. The BA boys reunited. That’s gotta get you thinking, huh?” she asked, narrowing her eyes at me to get a read. “Especially with Clay as your partner..”
I shrugged nonchalantly.
“I’m not worried. Clay gets it. He knows that fucking me over in this match won’t achieve anything for him. He’s a smart man. I know he’ll be seething with anger when he looks at my face. When I stretched him at Bottomline and forced him to tap? I took a little piece of him with me. Still, he knows there’s a time and a place.”
“What about Jatt?”
“Pfft, that mother-fucker,” I grunted. “You know, I was picturing a different kind of match between him and I at Rumble at the Rock. One built on honour and integrity. Two brothers going toe to toe, putting on the performance of a lifetime. But that mouth of his is turning me sour. But in terms of this match? I don’t even want to touch him. Not unless I have to. He wants my blood? He’s going to have to wait. I’m just gonna toy with him.”
She was smiling as though the way I was talking was getting her hot under the collar.
“Jatt’s doing what he always does, hop from one warm body to the next. Like a fucking leach. I burned him, me moves onto Clay. Now? He’s trying to get in Jace’s good graces. You know why? Because he can’t stand on his own two feet any more. But at Rumble at the Rock?” I left the question hanging, smiling to myself. “He’s gonna have to try and stand for ninety-seven minutes!”
I had gotten so lost in my own narcissistic day dream that I’d failed to notice the change in mood from Regan. As I looked at her she seemed solemn.
“Hmm? Oh, yeah I,” she began, choking as he made eye contact with me and letting out a gasp. “John? What are we doing?”
The question genuinely confused me. Maybe it was the fatigue but I didn’t know if she meant literally or figuratively.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean us!”
We shared an awkward silence. She’d brought up the elephant in the room which was our weird relationship.
“I don’t want to be just business partners and fuck buddies! I want more,” she pleaded, her eyes starting to look moist. “And don’t give me that macho bullshit of yours. I know you have feelings for me too.”
“Regan,” I sighed. “There’s a reason why they call me the machine..”
“Why can’t you admit it? What are you afraid of?”
A lot of things, as it turned out.
“I just don’t have the time or energy for anyone else at the moment,” I bluntly replied.
“Except for Adam!”
I puffed out my cheeks, wishing the floor could just swallow me up so I didn’t have to deal with this awkward situation. I liked Regan, a lot. She’s right, I do have some feelings for her, but I swore off relationships many years ago.
“Look, I don’t know anything about you,” I explained. “You’re a ghost. There is no information about you what so ever. And that makes you dangerous.”
I was referencing the private investigator I’d hired to dig up info on her. He turned up blanks and said that there was no record of her even existing.
“You been doing a little snooping of your own I see?”
“Look, everything you need to know is sat in front of you. The person I was before is dead. They don’t exist any more. I started a new life for a reason and I don’t want my past to dictate who I am now. You can write my future with me, John.”
I raised my eyebrows purposefully.
“See, that’s where the danger comes in. I don’t like it when someone knows more about me than I do about them,” I explained.
“Well maybe if you spend some real time with me you might get to find out. But I need to know that you’re all in before I go ripping open my wounds.”
I just nodded slowly. I didn’t know what else to do. She stood up from my desk and threw her bag over her shoulder, beginning to walk past me. I stood up to see her to the door when she stopped and turned to me.
“Look, I know you have Rumble at the Rock coming up and you’ll be tunnel visioned while you prepare. But how about after that we give it a try?”
I thought about it for a moment, but I couldn’t give her an answer.
“I’ll think about it,” I replied. “It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just difficult for me.”
She stopped and looked me squarely in the eyes.
“Maybe this will help..”
She reached up and gently slid her cool hand onto the back of my neck. Our lips met softly, then deeply. As she pulled away, she gently bit my lower lip. A previously unused nerve flared into existence, lighting up my entire left side, all the way to my instep.
Regan ducked out the door but then stopped and turned.
“You said you pictured a different kind of match with Jatt. What do you picture now?”
I could feel my face stretching as the smirk worked all the way up to my ears.
“I’m gonna crush him..”