We have all heard phrases such as “no pain, no gain”, or those that echo similar sentiments, but there comes a point when an athlete needs to be up-front and open about the pains and injuries they are experiencing. It is all too common for us wrestlers to try to mask or hide the fact that they are in pain, or suffering some type of injury, in an attempt to continue to train and compete. After all, how is one supposed to stay competitive with peers or teammates when they are sidelined due to an injury? To put it simply, these thoughts and behaviours are dangerous to all athletes, but especially young athletes. Younger athletes are still growing, which puts them at an even greater risk for a more severe injury or potentially chronic injuries in the future.
I understand this, yet I ignore it. If I don’t push on and fight through the pain then I forfeit the LSD championship. If Arthur Pleasant is the one to beat me then I will go out on my shield and go down swinging. Even if I end up crippled at the end of it I will know that I went down in the blaze of glory.
The advice I would give Adam is the complete opposite, making me somewhat of a hypocrite. He’s still young. The way I feel when I get out of bed in the morning is why I will never forget what I do for a living. I have a knee that needs replacing. I have to stand in a hot shower for thirty minutes with it on my neck and back because my muscles go tight as a drum when I sleep. Both knees make it hard to go running on a cold morning, which is why I miss the climate of Miami. Thank god spring is coming in Missouri.
My body paid the price for being a wrestler and it’s a debt that still isn’t settled. However, the injuries are part of the process that made it possible to be where I am now. They are my battle scars, and they help me appreciate what I have today.
I am competing in two matches. Double the chance of forcing my knee to finally give up on me. Double the chance of me picking up new injuries. One of those matches is a submission match against Arthur Pleasant. Pain is guaranteed. Fresh scars almost certain. This man will stop at nothing to take my championship, and if he can inflict more misery on me then he will laugh while he does it.
The real challenge for me?
Making sure I-have the last laugh!
The Best Arena
Pre-March to Glory!
Sektor had arrived hours before March to Glory was due to go on air. He wanted to be as close to the command centre as possible so he could get the news of the match order the microsecond that it was announced. Knowledge is power. The more hours, minutes and seconds he had to prepare for his first match the better chance he stood of coming out of both of them victorious.
He lay on his front the treatment table that his physio, Simon, had set up in the locker room. He had a resistance band hooked under one arm and the other end hooked around the top of his foot, bringing his knee to ninety degrees like a half Boston crab. He hissed and groaned with pain as he extended the joint against the band’s tension. The pain in his knee sent shockwaves up the nerve right through his leg and into his lower back.
He woke up that morning and couldn’t put his weight on it. He beat the living shit out of his hotel room pillow in frustration, cursing his ‘shitty’ knee for letting him down on the one day he needed it to be at its best.
“Turn over,” Simon instructed, looking just as concerned as Sektor felt.
Sektor slipped the band from under his arm and hurled it across the room like a toddler throwing his rattle out of his buggy. As he turned over Simon gave him an apathetic look.
“Stay-calm,” Simon enunciated. “This is not the time to go losing your head. We’ll sort this,” he reassured.
Sektor let out a low growl as he allowed the physio to manipulate the joint of his knee.
“How’s that feel?”
“It’s not so bad. It’s when I put my weight on it,” Sektor explained.
Simon nodded, staring at his knee helplessly.
“Just fucking do it,” Sektor groaned.
Simon looked up at him slowly, knowing full well what his boss was referring to.
“It’s risky, mate,” he warned. “I could end up tearing your ligaments and then you haven’t got a hope in hell’s chance of getting in that ring tonight.”
Sektor didn’t say a word, he just gave him a cold hard stare until Simon reacted the way he wanted him to.
With that, Simon moved around to the back of the treatment table and used a level to sit Sektor up in a supine position. He then unfastened his belt and pulled it three from the loops of his pants, folding it in half and handing it to the LSD champion.
“Bite down on this.”
Sektor closed his eyes, his face already drained of color at the thought of what was about to come. He placed one hand behind the backrest of the table and put the belt between his teeth. Gripping the back of the table with both hand, he looked at Simon who was taking hold of his right leg and placing his foot under his arm. The physio then planted a foot on the table for leverage and gave Sektor one last glance.
Sektor gave a single, affirmative, nod and closed his eyes. Simon, gritting his own teeth, began to pull away from Sektor’s body with the knee under his arm, pushing as hard as he could.
Sektor’s muffled screams echoed around the small room as his teeth sank into the tough leather of the belt.
Sektor let out a final yelp as he felt his knee pop. Simon released his grip, having manually pulled his lower leg bones away from his femur to give the joint enough room.
Sektor rolled into a supine foetal position on the table, hissing heavily as he waited for the shock of pain to settle down.
Simon wasted no time breaking out the vials and needles. He had packed everything he knew he would need for tonight. He laid down his instruments carefully on a sterile medical tray and placed it on a steel chair to the right of Sektor’s table before handing him a bottle of water.
Sektor took his drink and was still breathing heavily, but the pain had passed its peak. He looked over towards Simon as he was washing his hands and had a troubled expression.
“Let me ask you something,” he called over.
“Go for it,” Simon replied.
“You follow wrestling, right? You understand the sport?”
“Oh yeah, big time,” he responded enthusiastically.
“So you have a good understanding of all the rules and stipulations for various matches?”
Simon turned with a confused frown but still nodded.
“I’d say most of them, yeah.”
“So for this submission match. The only way I can lose is if I voluntarily submit, right? Either by tapping out or telling the referee that I give up. Would you agree?”
Simon, still looking confused, approached Sektor whilst drying his hands on some paper towels.
“Sounds right, yeah.”
“So if Pleasant knocks me out. Or chokes me out and puts me to sleep. He doesn’t win. Right?”
Simon puffed out his cheeks and looked toward the ceiling as though it had the answer to the question.
“Because that’s the whole point. It’s a submission match. I have to be the one to signal the end of the match..”
Simon grimaced, as though he was stumped.
“I mean, that sounds right, yeah. But to be honest mate I don’t know. I guess you could argue that you could be beaten into submission?”
Sektor looked at Simon with such disgust it was as though he had just shit his pants right in front of him.
“No! Simon, I have studied wrestling since the age of ten. I have competed at a high level for over twenty years and, more importantly, I am a fucking submission specialist. Those are the fucking rules!”
“Alright, calm down,” he snarks back, throwing his hands up in submission. “Why’d you ask then?”
Gritting his teeth the LSD champion slumped back onto the table.
“Something Pleasant said. He seems pretty adamant that their are alternative ways for him to make me submit. But I am convinced he is a fucking idiot and doesn’t understand the rules. It can’t be true what he’s suggesting..”
Simon remained quiet, focussing on his work after cleaning Sektor’s knee with a pad on some forceps soaked in chlorhexidine. He’d drew up some cortisol in a syringe and wasted no time plunging it into the empty socket of Sektor’s knee. The champion grimaced slightly but he had gotten used to this procedure.
30 minutes later..
Sektor barged his way into the referee’s locker room. Both Hortega and Boettcher turn with surprise to the LSD champion standing in their door, pointing a finger.
“Which one of you assholes is refereeing my match?” he asked, looking at them both simultaneously.
“Which-a-wan?” Hortega replied in his hispanic accent.
“The submission match!” he barked, feeling on the verge of being triggered.
“We haven’t been given our assignments yet. Seem’s ole MOB is waiting ‘til the last minute,” Boettcher replied.
Sektor narrowed his eyes in disbelief, pointing an accusing finger at Hortega.
“Then why the fuck did he ask?”
Boettcher smiled as Hortega just shrugged ignorantly.
“Look, it’s gotta be you, right Matt? No way is this dipshit officiating such a match like this?”
Boettcher shrugged. “For all we know, it could be Stevens?”
“Rick Stevens?” Sektor replied, more confused than he thought was possible.
“No Scott Stevens.”
Sektor shook his head, not in the mood to waste time on shitty jokes.
“Look. Whichever one of you it is, we need to be clear on the rules,” he ordered, grilling the both of them.
“It’s a submission match. Pretty straight forward.”
“Glad you agree,” Sektor replied, with a mixture of relief and anguish. “So the only way to win is by making your opponent either tap out or verbally submit. Am I fucking correct?”
“Correct,” Boettcher agreed, nonchalantly.
Sektor breathed a huge sigh of relief, shaking his knee around which was beginning to feel numb from the local anaesthetic.
“Why do you ask anyway?” Boettcher asked out of curiosity.
“Because Pleasant seems to think that he can win by rendering me unconscious,” Sektor laughed, as though it was nonsense.
The mood in the room flipped once again as Sektor noticed both Boettcher and Hortega looking at one another.
Boettcher waved his hands through the air. “Nothing. Well..I guess it’s something I never really thought of. You ever considered that Joel?”
“For crying out loud GUYS! You’re fucking referees! Hall of FAME referees! You’re telling me you don’t understand the rules of a fucking submission match? Less than TWO hours before the show is about to start?”
“Oh we understand them,” Boettcher argued, confident in his response. “I’m just not sure what it means if one of you gets knocked out. If it’s you, then technically you can’t continue..”
“Yes. That’s called a tech-nic-al knockout, Matt. Not a submission!”
“Yeah but you still can’t continue and the match has to be stopped.”
Sektor falls quiet, feeling panic begin to set in.
“Guys. If that happens, you have permission from me to let the match continue,” Sektor explained, feeling some sense of authority as the champion.
“We can’t do that. You couldn’t defend yourself and it’s our job to look out for your safety out there.”
“Then what? What happens? Because I’ll tell you what WONT be fucking happening, is me losing the LSD championship. Because this is a SUBMISSION match and the only way I lose the belt is if I tap out or say the words I give up! Which I will never fucking do.”
Boettcher and Hortega both look at each other as though they are none the wiser.
“Look John, don’t worry. We’ll get this cleared up with management and get back to you.”
“Good. Do it now. I want an answer in the next twenty minutes or so help me God I’ll put both of you mother fuckers to sleep!”
When stressed and afraid, the human brain is only made better at learning and remembering things we fear – it locks us in with our demons and gives them longer claws. It makes us want to hide in the dark and make no sound, ready to fight if we need to. In this state we invent new monsters, we look for more, desperate to survive.
The result is that we amp up the fear of whatever we’ve been conditioned or directed to fear. We lose the ability of the higher mind to hush those fears and restore inner peace; all other types of learning need a more relaxed and calm state. They need a little light to show that the “monsters” are only clothes in the closet, that perhaps a fancy dress costume made an interesting shadow, but everything is okay. Calmness is as the dawn when the real world is seen, and the actors pulling the levers of fear are revealed.
The brain in fear can become scattered and unfocused, yet the primitive fears can also hijack the ability for logical analysis to produce a plethora of paranoid ideas that sound so plausible that even the teller fails to see them for what they are. And so in the pandemic the wild conspiracy theories exploded.
In other words..you got me rattled, Arthur.
I’m not too embarrassed to admit it. I fear you. I fear all of my opponents. That’s what keeps me on my toes and stops me getting complacent.
But you’ve managed to do something that nobody has done for a very long time and you’ve gotten into my head. You’ve played me at my own game. I’ve been pacing around backstage like a paranoid lunatic trying to figure out if you’ve actually discovered some kind of loop hole in this submission match. I still don’t have the answer but I’m sticking to my fucking guns. The only way one of us loses is by tapping out or submitting verbally.
You see what you’ve done to me?
Enjoy it man, this is a proud moment for you. You’ve rattled the machine. You made the Gold Standard paranoid. I can count on one hand the number of opponents who have ever managed to do that.
What scares me the most is how motivated you are. You’ve convinced me that you are a hundred times more motivated to beat me than any other of my LSD contenders who came before you. Even more than Jatt was. Even more than yourself when you took your first shot.
You gave me one of the greatest matches of my life. I could feel your desperation mirroring my own. I could sense you were surviving. I will never forget the panic I caused when I had you in the Sektor Stretch. I was picturing bending your head back so far that your cervical spine would burst through your throat like a scene from Alien. That’s the level you got me to.
I’m glad it didn’t kill you, Arthur. Honestly. Or else we wouldn’t be here now, on the verge of creating history. But I was prepared to kill you..to protect what is mine.
Because it’s a loss that I fear. Loss of what is mine, what I have built, what I have embedded. You threaten all of that. You have become and threat which means that you have gone from being a mere rival?
To being my enemy!
I know that when you hear that you will smile and wear it as a badge of honour. But trust me, you won’t be smiling when the bell rings. See, a rival or challenger? I’ll walk the line to some extent in terms of protecting them. But my enemies? All bets are off. I will go to the blackest parts of my soul and dig deep to make sure that you lose and that you suffer and if I have to fucking break your neck or kill you I’ll fucking do it.
This is what you wanted, so this is what you are going to get.
So yes, Arthur. I fear you. But mark my words at some point in this match I’m going to look you dead in the eyes and smile as I see them screaming with fear.
If I get you in a hold you can’t get out of?
Because I won’t stop until something breaks.