The local gymnasium in St. Louis was a far cry from the polished arenas that HOW usually ran but it held a certain charm. The wrestling ring, bathed in the harsh glow of fluorescent lights, stood like a beacon in the center of the worn hardwood floor. Sweat and determination hung in the air, mingling with the scent of old leather and gym socks.
21-year-old rookie pro wrestler Drew Mitchell was supposed to be training for his third match against Scott Stevens, but his focus was elsewhere. His muscular body moved sluggishly through the motions as Sunny O’Callahan, his mentor and manager, watched him intently. Sunny sipped from her bottle of Southern Comfort and shouted instructions at him.
“Come on, Drew!” Sunny called out, her voice laced with frustration. “Put your back into it!”
“Right-o, Sunny,” he replied, flashing her a cheeky grin that belied the lack of effort he was putting into his training.
What truly vexed Sunny were the two attractive women leaning against the far wall of the gym, their revealing outfits leaving little to the imagination. Drew had picked them up at a local bar the night before, and they had followed him to the gym the next morning like lost puppies. His eyes constantly flickered over to them, paying more attention to their curves than the moves he was supposed to be practicing.
“Oy, love, you sure have a way of getting the blood pumping,” Drew called out to one of the women, who giggled and twirled her hair around her finger.
Sunny clenched her jaw and took another swig of Southern Comfort, her patience wearing thin. “Drew, you need to focus! This match against Scott Stevens isn’t a joke!”
“Relax, Sunny,” Drew replied, his British accent thickening with amusement. “It’s just a bit of fun, innit?”
Sunny rolled her eyes at his response.
“Fun?” she muttered under her breath, shaking her head in disbelief. “He thinks this is fun.”
As Drew continued to half-heartedly execute his moves, Sunny’s frustration mounted. She could see the talent and potential within him, but his lack of discipline and his insatiable roving eye towards members of the opposite sex threatened to derail his blossoming career. With each stolen glance at the women, with each lazy attempt at training, Sunny’s ire grew.
“Enough!” she finally shouted, tossing her bottle of Southern Comfort aside. “If you’re not going to take this seriously, then maybe you don’t deserve to be here!”
Drew’s laughter died on his lips as he turned to face Sunny, his eyes narrowing. “You’re overreacting, love. Lighten up a bit.”
“Lighten up? This is your career, Drew!” Sunny shot back, her voice cracking with emotion. “I can’t believe you came here to the States just to throw it all away for a couple of giggling bimbos!”
“HEY!” one of the bimbos spoke up in a very high pitched voice. “We’re no bimbos…” She turned to her friend. “Right?”
The friend nodded and blew a bubble with her gum.
For a moment, Drew seemed to consider her words. But then he shrugged, his stubborn pride rearing its head. “I’ve got this, Sunny. Trust me.”
And with that, he sauntered over to the women, slinging his arms around their shoulders as they left the gym together, leaving Sunny standing alone in the ring, her heart heavy with disappointment and fear for what the future might hold.
“Alright, I’m done for today,” Drew announced abruptly, wiping the sweat from his brow and smirking at the women.
Sunny’s eyes flashed with anger as she stormed toward him. “You can’t be serious!” she snapped.
“I’m done. I’m ready to go.”
“You’ve barely broken a sweat!”
“Come on, Sunny.” Drew rolled his eyes. “Scott Stevens has won one match all year, and I’ve already beaten him twice. What’s there to worry about?”
“Did you forget that last time was pure luck?” Sunny seethed, her voice rising. “You didn’t train for him that time either and the fact Stevens shit the bed is the only reason you won that match. This time it’s in a cage, and Stevens is going to be out for blood!”
Drew toweled off and let Sunny’s words go in one ear and out the other.
“You need to take this seriously!” Sunny yelled at him.
Drew scoffed, a dismissive wave of his hand accompanying his words. “There are better wrestlers back in the UK and X-Pro than Scott bloody Stevens. I don’t need to waste all my energy on him.”
“Is that really what you think?” Sunny replied, her voice dripping with incredulity. She could feel her frustration boiling over, threatening to consume her. It took every ounce of restraint not to shake some sense into the cocky young wrestler.
“Absolutely.” Drew smirked, his indifference infuriating Sunny even more. He turned towards the women, who eagerly latched onto his arms like they were prized possessions.
“Damn it, Drew,” she shouted out. “Why are you being so cavalier about this upcoming match. Scott Stevens is no pushover, and you don’t start taking things seriously, you might lose more than just a match—you might lose everything we’ve built together.
Drew didn’t bother to respond; he simply sauntered out of the gymnasium, the women giggling at his side. Sunny watched them go, her heartache and frustration swirling together into a bitter cocktail.
“Fine!” Sunny spat, her hands balling into fists at her sides. “Go ahead and throw away everything we’ve been working towards! But don’t come crying to me when Stevens tears you apart in that cage Monday night!”
The echo of Drew’s laughter and the women’s giggles faded into silence, leaving Sunny standing alone in the ring. Her eyes, still burning with the fire of her rage, scanned the empty gymnasium. She took a deep breath, trying to steady herself, the scent of sweat and determination filling her nostrils as she addressed the absent Scott Stevens directly.
“Scott Stevens, you listen to me,” Sunny began, her voice strong and unwavering, her Californian accent mingling with hints of Irish lilt. “This week is a free hit for you. Drew Mitchell? He thinks he can just waltz into that cage and beat you without breaking a sweat.” She paused, shaking her head, her frizzy blonde curls bouncing with the motion.
“God knows I’ve tried to knock some sense into him,” she continued, frustration evident in her tone. “But he won’t listen. He’s too busy chasing skirts and basking in his own arrogance.”
Sunny gripped the ropes beside her, knuckles turning white as she leaned forward as if she was trying to force her words through the walls of the gym and straight into Stevens’ ears. “So this is me asking you – no, begging you – to show up for this match. I want you to give Drew Mitchell the reality check he so desperately needs right now.”
Her fingers relaxed, relinquishing their hold on the ropes. “Drew’s talented – there’s no denying that. But he’ll never reach his full potential if he doesn’t learn to respect his opponents and take this business seriously. And maybe, just maybe, an ass-kicking from you will bring him back down to earth.”
Sunny sighed, her gaze drifting to the spot where Drew had stood minutes earlier, “I don’t want to see him waste his talent, Stevens. I don’t want to watch him throw away everything we’ve worked for because of his own foolish pride. So this week, don’t shit the bed like you did the last time. Show up and give Drew the cold hard slap in the face of reality he needs.”
And with that, Sunny O’Callahan stepped out of the ring and exited the gymnasium, leaving behind the echoes of her desperate plea and the hope that Scott Stevens would rise to the challenge.