How the hell did I wind up here?
The sidewalks of Sony-dori street were relatively quiet at this time of evening. Tokyo was well known as being a modern metropolis, positively humming with life as it’s inhabitants and tourists bustled their way through the streets. The neon signs were beginning to stand out as the sun lay low in the sky, practically kissing the tops of the sky-rise buildings in the backdrop.
The Gold Standard, John Sektor, watched quietly from the white van he was in, resting back against a torn fabric seat and wearing a NY-Knicks baseball cap to obscure his identity. He hated the Knicks, but it was the first hat he had grabbed during his intoxicated rampage through the streets of Tokyo.
His eyes were wide and darker than normal, his pupils dilated like empty black holes with no soul lying on the other side. He glared anxiously towards a bar on the opposite side of the street.
‘The Bar High Five’
His eyes gripped tightly towards a little girl outside the bar. Raven haired, olive skinned, petite and delicate figure..it was Chloe. His long lost little girl, here in Japan and less than a hundred feet away from him. As she stood outside the bar, she was accompanied by a tall Japanese man in a black suit, black tie and black drivers hat. He was presumably the driver of the black Lexus which was parked just in front of them.
I repeat, what the FUCK am I doing here?
I’ve spent my entire time here in Tokyo working my way through the process of answering that question. Now, fuelled with the powdered courage of cocaine, I’m about to do something extremely wreckless and stupid. I’ve reached the end of the line. The end of my proverbial tether. All the shit I’ve been through these past few years? Has led me to this moment.
But before I go landing myself in a world of shit, right before fucking War Games? I should probably go back to the beginning..
Two days earlier…
The foyer of the small and intimate wrestling venue was surprisingly busy for this time of day. A group of Japanese fans queued patiently,in an organised line, for the chance to meet the newly dubbed ‘StarrSek B.A.T.T.L.E.’ They were all donning their merchandise, some flying the HOW logo, Mike Best T-shirts, Miracle Man hoodies..one obese man at the back even had a ‘Scoot Stoovens’ meme t-shirt on.
Sektor and Jatt resided behind a small foldout table, with their Tag Titles showcased for the fans to pose with whilst their various t-shirt and clothing designs hung on display behind them. Jatt’s smile was wide whilst Sektor’s seemed more forced.
It’s amazing how a big win can change your perspective. Beating Dan Ryan at the last show felt like the momentum shift that I needed. Finally, I had scored a big win, even if I did have to stoop below the belt to get it. I regard Dan as one of the best in the World, so picking up a dub at his expense felt huge.
But it also got me thinking.
Where the fuck did it all go wrong?
Lately? I’ve been so wrapped up in my Debby Downer routine from losing so much that I was blinded to where my failures were spawning from. Now that I’ve got that monkey off my back? It’s like a smog cloud has been lifted and I’m suddenly able to see and think clearly. Reflect on every step and action I have taken to figure out where everything began to unravel for the technical wrestling machine.
“Absolutely!” said Jatt, jumping up enthusiastically to grant a fan’s wish. “C’mon Sek, this lovely Japanese lady want’s a picture with the champs!”
Sektor felt his teeth clenching as the sound of Jatt’s voice was beginning to grate on him. “You don’t have to refer to everyone as Japanese, Jatt,” he explained, slowly standing to his feet and picking up his half of the championships. “They all are.”
Jatt merely rolled his eyes as the two of them posed with the lady, Sektor allowing her to hold the title around her waist as Jatt clutched at his for dear life. As the shoot wrapped up, Jatt and Sektor sat down to sign their headshots for her and gestured for the next fan to come forward. He allowed Jatt to do the talking each time. He was always fond of the Japanese fans, based on his short stints in Japan during his younger years. They were a different breed to others. Still, as always, he wasn’t in the mood for people-pleasing.
As Jatt and I laid the titles back down on the table, I couldn’t help but look at them and think…these don’t belong to us! Something Ray McAvay said really hit home. He said that Teddy and Lindz were real champions, and that we were just parading around, showing off belts that we never won. And he’s right. Look at us!
This isn’t me!
John Sektor, EARNS, championships! He doesn’t ‘self declare’ himself as one. I am a lot things. I am a lot of BAD things. But one thing I am not is a fraud. But as I look at those belts right now? That’s exactly how I feel. All that piece of Gold and leather represents to me right now is a child that isn’t biologically mine, but I have to put on a brave face and carry it proudly on my shoulder so that I don’t cause it any lasting damage.
“STAR-SEK BATTLE, STAR-SEK BATTLE,” chanted Jatt, rallying the crowd to join in with the chant as his right arm pumped in the air.
Sektor couldn’t hide his embarrassment and disgust as he regarded his Tag Team partner. Suddenly his eyes bulged and his whole body turned rigid, as though a light bulb just turned on in his head but what it revealed wasn’t pleasant.
Is Jatt the problem?
No. It can’t be. I’m just irritated from spending so much time with him. Being trapped inside that steel sardine can with him aboard the USS Octane had just driven me stir crazy.
But then, why did I form this team with him in the first place? Lee never intended for Jatt and I to forge this friendship. He just paired us up to give Kostoff a good kicking as we sent him packing.
Tag team wrestling was where I began my career back in two-thousand-and-two with Chris CK. Do I really want to finish it the same way? I declared years ago that I was done with Tag team wrestling. That I was an established solo veteran who only cared about himself.
Is this what this is? A fucking nostalgia trip? Is Ray McAvay right? Are we just two old losers fighting to stay relevant at a time when the tides are turning in HOW?
“You ok, man?” asked Jatt, looking genuinely concerned as he noticed the fearful expression on his partner’s face.
Sektor blinked his eyes and shook off the cobwebs, snapping out of his trance and deep thought process.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he whispered, somewhat unconvincingly.
“You don’t look fine, brother. You look a little eeky-peaky,” he explained, batting away a fan’s attempt to shove a photograph under his nose.
“Actually, I do feel a little weird. Probably that sushi we had for lunch,” he lied, still not believing his own doubts and not wanting to hurt his partner’s feelings. “Look, I’ll do my best here but you’ll have to probably carry us through the rest of this thing?”
“No problemo, amigo. I got you!”
I watched as he got back into character. Cracking jokes, pulling cheesy poses for the camera. He did a convincing job of portraying to people that he was in good mental health. But I know different. I know Jatt’s slipping further and further towards either manic depression or full blown psychosis. He’s a ticking time bomb, and question is?
Do I really wanna be around when it goes off?
I suppose I owe him? He’s always got my back. Never in my career did I ever think Jatt Starr, of all people, could be relied upon as my most trusted friend. But I can trust him. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s how I wound up in this position in the first place?
Am I with Jatt because it feels safe?
Let’s think about that for a second. I returned at the back end of last year completely out of shape, full of ring rust and severely lacking in confidence. I had no fucking idea if I could even GO any more. I was scared shitless of blowing up on my first night out and forever ass fucking my career legacy. But there was Jatt to catch me if I fell, right?
Jatt and I held each other up. We were crutches for one another, whilst we both healed to be strong enough to stand on our own. Is that what Jatt is to me?
A safety net?
Come to think of it, he’s been trying to ‘fix’ me ever since we first teamed up. First, he tried to get me talking about my unresolved issues over losing Chloe. Every day I would rip his fucking, bleach blonde, head off because he would push the envelope on a subject I wasn’t comfortable discussing. And just the other day he was crying like a proud mother when I told him I was getting clean for War Games. Like HE was the catalyst for that success.
I might be digging way too deep with this, but the more I think about it? The more I feel as though he is getting some kind of satisfaction from trying to heal me. As though maybe he can’t fix his own pathetic life so he’s taking a shot at mine?
Sektor let out an audible sigh of frustration, which caught the attention of his partner and nearby fans. He forced a smile at a young Japanese boy, who was proudly wearing the newest ‘Starr-Sek B.A.T.T.L.E’ t-shirt, which was grossly overpriced.
“Apologies, I’m just a little tired. All that working out in the gym,” he explained, flexing his bicep for the fan in case he couldn’t translate English.
His arms and body in general were beginning to look more firm and lean. It was evident he had been giving every spare second he had to the gym and improving his body. As he smiled at the fan and rubbed his bicep, he turned to look at his partner, who’s gut was protruding over his belt buckle. He couldn’t stop himself from grimacing.
I know it seems crazy after one big win..but as I look at Jatt now? I feel like maybe I don’t need that crutch any more. My body is getting stronger. My sharpness in the ring is coming back. I’m picking up wins again.
It feels like the only thing Jatt cares about any more are these Tag titles. He jumped at the chance to steal them from Jiles and Harrison. God only knows how he did that by the way. Now he’s rebranding us with a new name, signing us up for meet’n’greets and conventions. This is Jatt fucking Starr we’re talking about. Why does he care so much about this team? Like me, he worked fucking hard to create his OWN legacy. Now he wants to die as an embodied ‘trip down memory lane?’
Even LEE, doesn’t recognise us as individual competitors any more. He gave us a shared RANK at War Games. Sergent fucking StarrSek. We are literally entering as one person, because we can no longer have the identity as credible singles competitors.
Holy fucking CHRIST!
Sektor buried his head in his hands as he experienced this epiphany. Jatt, grossly concerned, planted a hand on his back and bent down to his ear.
“Sek, what’s up? You wanna wrap this up and go get some rest?” he asked, looking up at the fans and giving them an awkward smile. “He’s fine, guys. Just a little off color.”
Sektor didn’t respond. He heard the words but he was too gutshot from the realisation that he had lost his identity. Breathing heavily, he jumped up from his seat which caused a startled reaction from the crowd and even Jatt.
“I need some air,” he panted, his eyes panicked with anxiety as he gazed in the general direction of his partner. “I’ll be back in a minute. You got this, right?”
“Sure, homeslice,” Jatt replied reassuringly, painting a brave smile. “Take all the time you need. These people love the Starrabian Knight!”
Sektor hadn’t even let him finish talking before turning and running through a set of doors in the wrestling hall. He anxiously navigated his way through a corridor before bursting out of a fire exit into a back alley. Leaning against the wall, he looked up to the heavens to try and catch his breath.
“Fuck it,” he growled, pulling out a squashed packed of cigarettes from his back pocket. “One aint gonna kill me.”
He lit the cigarette and inhaled the first drag as though it was a race. The instantly effect of the nicotine hitting the back of his throat was apparent by the relaxed expression on his face. The element of concern remained, however, as he took another drag before thumbing the butt of the cigarette.
I always felt as though Jatt was carrying ME! It was me who cost us the Tag titles, not him. It was me that needed constant reassurance and it was me that needed Jatt’s uncanny ability to fire up someone’s self esteem. Yet here I am now, asking myself the question..
How much am I carrying Jatt?
I think back to when he was facing Connor Fuse at Rumble at the Rock. The mother fucker locked himself in his basement playing video games like a man possessed. He hadn’t changed his clothes in weeks, just sitting there in his own filth, obsessively trying to understand his opponent because he had never come across someone before who could rival him with quirkiness. Had I not snapped him out of it he would have fell on his ass and Connor would be the one right now bragging that he was going to deliver his second defeat at War Games.
If it wasn’t for me? Jatt would be the size of a fucking manatee. He’s still a fat fuck, but without me dragging his sorry ass to the gym once a week? He would literally not even lift a finger to stay in shape.
If it wasn’t for me? We wouldn’t have held the Tag team championships for six months, because it was ME that scored the win in every single successful defense that we had.
It was ME that came up with the game plans, not him. All Jatt did was put on goofy spots on show nights to try and make us relevant. ‘Starrsek Industries, the comical sideshow everyone tunes in to see on a Saturday night and watch them make a fucking mockery of themselves.’ I’m supposed to be a fucking killer. A bad man. A very bad fucking man and yet now I’m a joke by-proxi.
“Arrgh,” he growled, gipping a handful of his jet black hair with white knuckles and tugging at the roots in frustration.
His face was a picture of sheer torment as his face creased like a piece of foil with his eyes shut tight. He quietly puffed on his cigarette, digesting all the information he had just analysed in such a short space of time.
How long am I gonna step back to prop Jatt up? How long am I prepared to stay in his shadow, just to keep this nostalgia trip alive? Teaming with Jatt is safe. It’s secure. It’s a familiar place that I feel comfortable in. But you don’t win jack shit until you step outside your comfort zone.
I want to go all the way at War Games. I want to be the last man standing, holding the World title above my head and righting the wrong of two-thousand-and-nineteen..the year John Sektor climbed to the top of the mountain but then took a shit and fell off it.
I’m arguably in better shape now than I was two years ago when I won it. Beating Dan taught me that I can still deliver in the big matches. I’ve got all the tools to get the job done. But now I feel as though I have this gigantic weight pressing down on my shoulders.
Is it time to cut myself free?
He puffed out his cheeks and cupped his hands over his mouth, dragging his fingers down his cheeks as the cigarette still burned between them.
I gotta tread carefully with this. Now is not the time for knee jerk decisions. We’re a week away from War Games. The Best Alliance needs Sergeant Starrsek to be a well oiled machine to ensure the survival of the Tag Team championships. We have a job to do. A mission to achieve.
A War to win.
He nodded purposefully, throwing his half smoked cigarette down on the floor and squashing it with his Cuban loafer. Taking a deep breath, he painted on his best game face and headed back through the fire exit, slowly making his way back to the foyer to help Jatt with the signings.
Maybe If we retain the Tag titles I’ll feel like we’ve actually earned them. Maybe I’ll find that connection again. Maybe with Jatt at my side, as we march through the gauntlet of the Local Grapplers Club, we can fight side by side and go to the end together. He is a hundred percent the only man I trust in that ring with me.
Jiles? He doesn’t take anything seriously enough to be trusted. Only reason he’s going into War Games as champion is because Mike put all his eggs in the HOFC basket at Iconic.
Jace? Fuck that guy.
Harrison? Two steps shy from becoming the next Scott Stevens.
Solex? He’s a bad man like me. He’s got the heart of a warrior and the only man who has actually seen a real war. But I can’t trust him either.
Scottwood? C’mon man!
Sutler? I am certainly not in the frame of mind to think about that little prick right now. And what he represents of me!
Clay? – Well there’s a man who may actually go the distance with me. A man with fire in his belly, ready to take the company by storm and steal the show. But I don’t know him anywhere near enough to rely on him.
No, the only man I can trust, one hundred percent, is Jatt fucking Starr! This is a time for unity!
As Sektor stood in the doorway to the foyer, he watched in disbelief as Jatt seemed to have organised an impromptu conga line with all of the fans.
Still, I can’t help but wonder. If I don’t win at War Games? And I don’t mean the Tag titles. I mean the BIG BOY prize! If I don’t go all the way and win the whole damn thing? If I lose?
Is it Jatt’s fault?