Sunday, January 30th
“Hell Yeah! First win in the bag, baby!” Ellis cheers excitedly, pacing around our locker room.
I winced in pain and breathed heavily as I attempted to peel my tights down and over my bad knee. It was pulsing under the pad and tapes, likely swollen to the point where blood supply was being dangerously restricted. It was hard to enjoy the victory in this moment as pain had forced its way to the front of the queue.
“You did good tonight, rook,” I grunted, puffing out my cheeks and trying to silently suffer as I got a grip of my knee support. “You were nice and tight, stuck to the game plan, and keeping the big boy distracted so I could isolate Princess Ivy was a really smart play. So kudo’s.”
“Thanks,” he modestly replied. It was evident that he was consciously trying not to get overexcited.
“This match is done,” I continued, gingerly slipping the knee pad over the swollen tissue it had been supporting. “Gah, now it’s time to focus,” I continued to grunt, as the pain shot through my leg like hot needles. “On Stevens and Mamba..”
I could sense by his silence and still position in my peripheral vision that he was concerned by my knee. I hadn’t even done the lion share of the in ring action and it was blowing up like a hot air balloon. He didn’t need to be worried. I was worrying enough for the both of us, but I’ll be damned if I allow this to ruin our tournament. I’ve carried worse injuries into matches.
“Pass me an ice pack, would ya?”
As Adam moved to the ice box I finished peeling the physio tape connecting my lower leg to my upper leg. I may as well not have bothered. I couldn’t even see the knee cap, just a shiny and oedematous fluid filled sack. The cool of the ice felt like I was extinguishing a fire as I pressed the ice pack against it, holding it there for a few moments before securing it with tape to free up my hands.
“Can I do anything else?” asked the young apprentice, continuing his arched brow of concern.
“Nah I’ll be fine. Swelling will go down soon enough and I’ve got some more treatment planned once we get to Cleveland. It’ll be good to go,” I reassured him, and also myself. “Anyway, what do you know about Mamba?” I quizzed, changing the subject.
He took a breath to try and think of something worthwhile to say. “Not much to be honest. He’s British?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “He is British, yes. To be honest he hasn’t competed consistently for quite some time. I haven’t been aware of anything remotely meaningful from him since around 2010. That’s a long time.”
“So he’s going to be relying on Stevens to carry him?”
“Perhaps. But we don’t really know what he’s been doing all these years. Perhaps he’s been training for a great comeback. I tend to fear the unknown more than the facts. We should be cautious with him all the same. His record may not look great on paper, but he has heart. And he has something to prove. There is nothing more dangerous than a man with something to prove,” I explained, trying to teach him the importance of not underestimating his opponent, no matter what.
Adam nodded, taking it all in. “Well I’ve competed against Steven’s at MV-Dub. So at least I have that experience heading into this match.”
“Absolutely! First hand experience with your opponent can be vital. He will have made notes on you also. But unlike him, you are developing and are without a doubt much improved since the last time he faced you. So be sure not to make the mistakes which he will be expecting you to make.”
Another affirmative nod. Not even a half hour had passed since the bell had rung to declare our first tournament match win, and here we were preparing for our next match. That’s the kind of dedication that wins tournaments.
“Did you know I once mentored Scott Stevens?” I asked.
Adam cocked his head to the side. It was obviously news to him.
“No, I didn’t.”
“He wasn’t a rookie like you. He was very much a capable competitor, and pretty accomplished by the time I had taken him under my wing. But he had a lot of bad habits. So I tried to teach an old dog new tricks,” I laughed, reminiscing about the times myself and Steven’s ran together.
The Thoroughbreds…what a terrible fucking name that was!
“Did it work?”
I looked up at him and I could feel the arrogance creeping into my smile.
“He went on to become World champion. Now? He’s in the Hall of Fame,” I informed him. “So you tell me.”
His smile was rich with admiration. These are those moments I missed when I wasn’t around for Chloe when she was growing up. When the person who looks at you as a role model hangs on your every word and takes it as gospel.
“I did the same for Christopher America. Took him under my wing and he went on to be one of the biggest Icons in HOW history. He even broke into the Hall of Fame before me,” I laughed.
“So you literally make Hall of Famers,” he gasped, probably looking into his own future.
I smiled with a grimace as a fresh wave of pain washed over me. “Nah. I was just one stop on their journey.”
It turned to a throb. The throb got harder and harder and I could feel my heart beating along with it in my chest. I needed to scream and roll around, but I couldn’t do it in front of the kid. He looks up to me for fucks sake, I can’t be crying like a bitch. My lungs got tighter and tighter as I held back.
“Go get me a Poweraid, would ya?”
He frowned and pointed towards the shower. “I was gonna wash up first..”
“Hey! If I ask ya to get me a fucking Poweraid then get me a fucking Poweraid!”
I saw his eyes roll as he marched out of the locker room like a petulant teenager. I was in too much pain to give a shit. Once he was gone I let all the air out of my lungs. Not in relief, but in agony. I rolled onto the floor like a dying fly, teeth clenched together and grunting as I tapped out against the locker room floor.
I couldn’t tell ya how long I carried on like that, but the sound of the door opening soon brought me back to the room.
“Christ, John!” called the voice from the doorway.
It was the company doc. I could never remember his fucking name.
“Do you not know how to knock? I’m a champion for fucks sake and a Hall of Famer! You don’t just come walking in here!”
He just stared down at me with concern and shook his head.
“Adam mentioned that your knee looked in a bad way,” he explained.
I squinted my eyes. “Sorry, are we just going to ignore what I just fucking said?”
“Let me take a look,” he asked, reaching out his hands and walking towards me.
“Fuck-OFF!” I warned, guarding my iced up knee like a prisoner guarding his tray-dinner. “There’s nothing wrong with it, just go about your business.”
“John, you know the rules. If you’re carrying a knock I need to assess you in order to clear you to compete,” he warned.
“You can shove your rules up your ass!”
He let out a sigh. “Just let me take a look,” he continued softly. “I might be able to help.”
I stared at him for a hard second, struggling to trust his intentions. The pain felt like my brain’s way of telling me to take any help I could get at that moment. So I reluctantly moved my hands away from my knee.
He carefully reached his hands towards the pack of ice and began to remove the trape.
“Careful!” I warned him.
He gasped once he removed the ice pack and saw the state of it.
“Jesus!” he gasped, placing a delicate hand on the inflamed tissue. “It’s hot! John, this is infected!”
‘Shit,’ I thought. Another problem I had to deal with.
“There is absolutely no way this is going to heal in time for next week,” he explained in the blunt manner that most doctors use to deliver bad news.
“So, what? Am I to forfeit then? That your grand fucking idea for me?” I ask sarcastically, as thought it was even an option.
“You might not have a choice. I can clear you like this..”
My hand lunged for his throat but caught a fistful of his collar and tie, pulling him close enough so that he could smell my stinking breath.
“You listen to me carefully,” I growled, foam literally forming at the corners of my mouth. “You will clear me to compete. Or I will stretch your spine so hard in the wrong direction that you’ll be looking up your own asshole.”
He swallowed hard. I took that as a sign that he believed I would follow through with my threat. I would have too. Threatening to pull me from a match is like trying to take a Rottweiler’s bone away from him. You try it and you get your motherfucking hand ripped off.
“We clear on that, Doc?”
He reluctantly nodded and I pushed him away.
“I’ll get you some antibiotics. Make sure you take them and if you start feeling sick or feverish you check yourself into the local hospital. I don’t care how tough you are John, Sepsis kills!”
“Whatever you say, Doc,” I replied.
He reached into his blazer pocket and pulled out a strip of pills, dangling them in front of my face. I just stared at them and then up at him to see if he was being serious.
“For the pain,” he explained.
“I know what they are. Get them the fuck away from me!”
“John, don’t be silly now. You’re in crippling pain, you need these..”
“You don’t offer oxycontin to a recovering heroin addict you stupid fuck!”
“John, you’re never gonna get through this next match in this much pain..”
“Don’t tell me what I can’t do. I’m John FUCKING Sektor. The machine! I would rather go down on one leg in a blaze of fucking glory than derail my career with opiates again. Nobody wants to see John Sektor the drug addict again. It’s been done. It’s boring. Everyones sick to death of Johnny drug’s Sektor!”
“So what are you gonna do, huh?”
“I will find a way. I always do!”
It took four days for the swelling to go down. I got Adam to rent a car and drive us to Cleveland because I didn’t want the cabin pressure of a plane. Seven hours with my leg elevated in the back of a shitty rental.
Four days with my leg elevated. Four days of eating anti-inflammatories like candy. Four days of no training.
I needed to find a long term solution. The surgeons tell me I need the whole knee replaced with a titanium one. Months of rehab and unlikely to wrestle again means that’s not a solution.
I’m not making excuses. Come Sunday both myself, Adam and my fucking knee will be ready for whatever Scott Stevens and Mamba have to throw at us. The Doc doubts me. I even sense Adam having his doubts as to whether my leg holds up.
Doubt is a dangerous thing.
It can turn a mans legs into stone. It can spread through your body quicker than the most aggressive of cancers. It can be your worst enemy and the one thing standing between you and your goals.
William Shakespeare once said that doubts are traitors, and make us lose what we often might win, by fearing to attempt.
Well I fear nothing except for failure and so I replace doubt with nothing but confidence in myself, my abilities and most importantly in this tournament?
When I was laid up in the hotel room with my leg, all I could do was think about my opponents. What state of mind would Stevens be in? He’s coming off a loss in a World title match. I know first hand how deflating that can be. He will have spent the entire winter break planning, training and dreaming of raising that title above his head one more time, only for Connor Fuse to fucking beat him and rip that dream away from him.
Not only that, but he’s a Hall of Famer now. Deservedly so. I mean, I wouldn’t have given him my vote if I didn’t believe that. But I also know the temptation that comes with finally getting in. You can’t help but think to yourself:
“That’s it! I’ve done it all now. I’ve achieved the ultimate goal in wrestling. Maybe now it’s time to retire..”
The thought crossed my mind when I got in. But I’m a competitor through and through. The hunger never went away and that is why I am crawling over broken glass to get through this tag team tournament with the next rookie of the year. Because I want to win. Keep winning. I want to win the tag titles with a young man trained by my hand so that I can prove to the World that not only am I the best? But I can train someone else to be the best alongside me.
You know something else? I believe in Scott Stevens. Deflated he may be but I wouldn’t have voted for his picture to hang near mine if I didn’t believe that his soul burned with the same intensity that mine did. Like a true Texan he will get back in the saddle and dust himself off. He will ride towards this match with his head held high ready to try and tackle his next challenge.
Scott Stevens has had more shit thrown at him from people than I have ever seen in my entire life. He’s a lot of things. An idiot? Sure! But a quitter? He is NOT!
I have a ton of respect for Scott. As infuriating as he was when he was under my wing I still had a soft spot for him. He will no doubt be doing everything he can to beat me and my new protegee next Sunday.
No doubts at all.
Mamba on the other hand? Shit, I’ll be surprised if he actually shows up. I had to check the ballot about three hundred and fiddy times when I saw his name on it for the Hall of Fame nominees. What he did to get his name on there I’m sure I do not know because it aint for anything he’s achieved in a HOW ring. I know that fucking much.
I aint saying he’s not a good wrestler. The guy had huge potential once upon a time. Problem is he shits the bed every time he tries to get a run going.
I really hope for Stevens’ sake that Mamba turns up and brings us a fight on Sunday. After all, this is a tag team tournament with the key word being TEAM. It aint about John Sektor or Scott Stevens as individuals because I have to rely on Adam Ellis, just like Scott has to rely on Mamba.
I have complete faith in my partner. I have hand trained him. I am moulding him in my own image. He was a blank canvas when I started and soon enough he will be a fucking masterpiece. He listens. He learns. He does what I tell him to do because he’s a good student and he knows when to take instruction.
No doubt in my mind over Adam Ellis.
As I said, my doubt lies heavily in the corner of Mr Mamba.
I hope for a pleasant surprise when the two of you help Adam and I blow the roof off the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Stevens knows that, whatever level he needed to go to to compete with Connor last week? The two of you, as a team, are gonna have to go up one more when you enter the ring with the Gold Standard and his apprentice.
I look forward to the match, boys. But let me give you guys and the other teams a little spoiler for how this tournament is going to go. John Sektor and Adam Ellis are going to win the whole fucking thing and be crowned tag team champions.
My knee may not be a hundred percent. But that doesn’t matter. Because my mind has never been stronger. I can feel it. I can feel that same feeling I had when I went on the greatest run in my career and carried both the World and Icon titles.
But now I’m even better.
I am going to smash every record that I can with the LSD championship and I am going to win the Tag Team championships with Adam and then I am going to get my shot at the World title and win every god damned belt in this company.
Because I am the best in the fucking World.