Oh, hi John.
I didn’t see you there.
You know, because everytime you show up I’ve got my back turned. I guess you think that a Best Alliance t-shirt and that shit stain you call facial hair somehow gives you a free pass, but sooner or later you’re gonna have to come at me from the front. I guess it’s been a few years since the last time you did that, am I right? And how’d that turn out for ya, Sek? Pretty good or nah? Seems like to me that night ended with you counting the lights, just like everybody else involved in that particular clusterfuck of a Chamber match.
Am I right?
You don’t have to answer, it’s rhetorical, of course I’m right.
I don’t know about you, but things have been up and down for me since that night. You may or not remember, being a junk head and all, but that last time we met up was right smack in the middle of my last real good run. Get it, John? I said smack. Because you’re a junkie fuck. We’ve got that in common, you and I. Have you got that under control yet, bud? I only ask because I know a lot about the highest of highs and the lowest of lows myself.
Let’s say I’m concerned about ya, big fella.
Don’t let me digress, I’m sure I’ve got a point.
Yeah, I made my bones on you in Utah, remember? You were the big bad wolf, you and your Machine were supposed to squash the world. Remember all that? Never happened, though, your friends all fucked off one by one, so did you. I ran through the rest of that roster on the way to shaking hands and disbanding that Dynasty that you guys couldn’t figure out the answer to and everything was all peaches and fuckin’ cream.
You know, for a while.
Utah’s not exactly known for its long term consistency.
The point is I was better than you then.
You traded out one group of lackey fucks for another.
Sure, you won War Games, won the World Title, I’ll give you that. And what was that group of shitheads that you joined to get it done? Ground Zero? How long did that shit last, Johnny, a month? Two?
I’m starting to smell a method of operation, John.
It’s all coming together.
The Best Alliance.
Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here, hoss?
So the question at hand, as ironic as this is coming from me of all people, is how long before the pressure gets to ol’ Johnny Sek again and he dives back into the needle? How long before it gets too hard for you to show up for work? One loss? Two? WIll you make it past losing to me at Alcatraz or is that all it’s gonna take to spin you right back out into the abyss that you spend most of your time in anymore? Did you and Jatt and Steve Solex take any of this into consideration while you were tongue-punching Lee’s shitbox to get your jobs back, or is this something you’re thinking of for the first time now that I’ve brought it up?
I mean, ol’ Jesus L. Best has sure been running a lot of game about what a killer that you are, John, but it’s been my experience that you’re a sad sack of shit who can’t do anything without somebody drawing you a fuckin’ map on a napkin and a couple of mooks to help you get it done. Any of this sounding familiar, or are you that full of your own shit?
It’s cool if you are, I mean, I am.
One almost has to be to make it anymore.
Especially guys like us, John. Old-timers. Junkies. Flunkies in your case. How are we supposed to get on TV and lie to the masses if we can’t lie to ourselves, right? Take me for example. Believe me, I’m more than aware of the hypocrisy of a guy like me running down a guy like you for fucking off and going home. I mean, at least you’ve done something here, right? War Games. The World Title. Maybe some other stuff, I honestly didn’t pay attention too much before I got here. Point is, I am acutely aware of the kind of hubris that it takes for me, after the way I’ve handled my business in the past, to chastise you about doing some of the same shit.
Don’t think for one second that I’m gonna change my tune.
Wrestling as a business isn’t about the past so much as it’s about “What have you done for me lately?” And John, lately I’ve made a habit out of mowing people down and getting real fuckin’ violent when the need arises. And you? Well. You’ve beaten up a couple of scrubs and jumped me from behind twice. Great job, Johnny-boy, you and your friends have managed to beat up a forty-nine year old man and fuck his arm up pretty good after Jack Harmen did his batshit crazy best to at least tear that arm off legally inside the confines of a sanctioned match.
You, on the other hand…
With all your little buddies.
With your ugly Tony Montana cosplay and that stinking cigar.
With that ugly mustache that starts and ends in your chest hair. All you’ve managed to do is get my attention. Maybe you wanna ask Steve Solex how that worked out for him. I guess you think maybe that dropping me on my head a few times and not quite breaking my arm gives you some kind of a psychological edge against me but you’re so full of shit that your eyes are brown if you think any of that matters. What matters, Mister Golden Standard of mediocrity, is what you can do when all of your friends are busy dealing with their own bullshit and you’ve got to stand in front of me, look me in my fuckin’ eyes, and find out if you measure up or not when you don’t have a stacked deck on your side.
Spoiler Alert: You absolutely do not.
On the twenty-fourth, at The Rock, it’ll be time to put up or fuck off. You won’t have Jatt Starr there to do your talking, or Steve Solex to do your lifting. It’ll just be you and me, we’ll have a Come to Jesus meeting right there in front of the world, live on Pay-Per-View, and we’ll find out if you’ve really got what it takes to be back or if Lee just brought you in to pop a rating for a couple of weeks before one of your betters slaps you right back down underneath whatever rock that you came out of a couple of weeks ago.
As for me?
I guess the whole world gets to find out if I’ve got my demons under control or if I’m just as full of shit as you are. Maybe this is it for me. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll get lucky and I’ll have another meltdown before we get to Alcatraz. Don’t count on that though, big shooter, because unlike this time last year I’ve got enough of my shit under control that an afterthought like you doesn’t stand a chance of knocking me off of whatever makeshift pedestal that I’ve managed to build up for myself since coming back a few months ago.
What it looks like, John…
…is that Eric Dane is gonna make his bones off of John Sektor’s sorry carcass.
[October 27, 2019]
Twenty-nineteen was supposed to have been a banner year for Eric Dane. He’d had a couple of half-assed stints in a couple of half-assed promotions over the previous couple of half-assed years, but that would all be erased once Two-Thousand and Nineteen had come and gone.
Boy howdy, did that ever turn out to be a crock of shit.
Looking back with some semblance of clarity and a newfound sense of mindfulness, The Only Star can only hold himself to blame for the shit show that 2019 turned out to be. It all started in March. High Octane Wrestling was all set to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and Eric Dane was in just the right place at just the right time.
That is to say, unemployed.
Mike Best, then retired from active competition, had reached out.
Historically Eric and the Son of GOD had something of a tumultuous relationship. What, with Dane having been the brains behind DEFIANCE as well as the loudest chirping mouth on the low side of the Mason-Dixon Line, and Best, Lee’s son and the living embodiment of all things High Octane. Oil and water isn’t a strong enough comparison to how diametrically opposite those two have always been. Of course they were going to cross verbal swords, it was a money match in the making, even back then when contracts disallowed it.
What not a lot of people knew, however, was that Mike and Eric had buried the hatchet over a shared penchant for high end cocaine and the kind of mutual disrespect for pretty much everything that became the building blocks for their on-again-off-again friendship. It took weeks of convincing before Daddy would even consider reaching out to his former Defiant nemesis, but phone calls were made.
Bridges were rebuilt.
Asses had been kissed, and Eric Dane had been signed to a big money High Octane contract by the Prodigal Son. Everything was peachy for about fifteen minutes before Lee flipped the script and rewrote the contracts of the entire roster. To say that Lee Best was cheap would be an insult to Jewish grandfathers across the globe.
It wasn’t about the money.
Eric had never had an issue with credit.
It didn’t hurt that he had good friends with loads of money. Hell, there was an entire meme about Dan Ryan eating an $85 steak while he and Eric had a strategy session during the lead-in to that year’s War Games. That part of the story is for later, though.
So no, it wasn’t a money issue.
It was a matter of pride.
So Eric haggled, but in the end he signed Lee’s low-ball contract. The Only Star was happy to find himself actually excited to finally set foot inside of a High Octane ring after all of the years of posturing and pissing contests. It should have been fucking epic. It should have been the hottest thing to go down in wrestling since somebody important set somebody else on fire. You know, because that shit used to happen all the time in the nineties and double-aughts.
Isn’t it weird how there’s always a but?
Darin Zion happened.
Round 2 of the World Title Tournament came up quick and Eric did the worst thing that a wrestler with some name value and credibility could do. He underestimated a guy that was looking to make a name for himself.
It was all downhill after that.
Eric Dane as the leader of the Best Alliance had been a debacle from the word go. He spent so much time trying to measure dicks with guys like Scottywood and Max Kael and everybody else with an HOW legacy that he completely lost sight of the matters at hand. All of this led up to a War Games where Dane choked again, eliminated early by Max Kael on the way to seeing John Sektor pull a win right out of his ass.
Lee was embarrassed, he dissolved the Best Alliance.
Ground Zero became a thing.
Dane and friends started calling themselves The Industry.
Ground Zero fizzled all the way out.
It was all a haze of bad ideas and shitty execution on the part of the former DEFIANCE boss who spent every waking hour trying to find the old Eric Dane instead of accepting that Eric Dane had gotten old. He started to spiral out of control after the War Games match. Literally everyone on the opposing team had told him that HOW’s version of the Match Beyond was different than every other one that he might have been in elsewhere. They were right, of course. Not because it was any more violent, but because it took such a tremendous toll on Eric’s mental health.
Dane lied to everyone. His friends, opponents, sworn enemies, frenemies, the boss…
He told them all that he was fine. Had himself convinced that he had everyone else convinced that everything was on the up and up as he had found his way back into the bottom of a lot of bottles and an endless supply of all the powder and pills that he could shove up whichever nostril he could get to work at any given time. Deviated septums are real. So onward he’d marched, falling further and further behind the curve with every passing day.
The old Eric Dane never did show up.
And then there was a cold, miserable night in New Orleans.
October 27th, to be precise.
The Only Star had been holed up in his apartment for several days at that point. His nose had long since stopped bleeding, new calluses having grown in his nasal cavity due to the sheer voracity with which he’d been trying subconsciously to kill himself. He’d be up for days at a time, only managing to sleep when he could find enough Xanax to crush and snort to bring him down from the yayo. His apartment was a post-apocalyptic shrine to everything that was wrong with being a pseudo-celebrity with enough good will to convince friends with expendable incomes to fund his lifestyle.
Followers of the history of The Only Star would point to this as the method of operation of Eric Dane any time when things weren’t going especially well for him. His entire existence had become predictable to pretty much everyone but Eric himself.
He’d been pacing for a while, furiously tapping away at his phone. Skeeted out of his mind and out of everything but a bottle of Adderall that he’d found stuffed in the back of some drawer or another Eric found himself unable to sit still but unwilling to leave his loft apartment overlooking the back side of the French Quarter.
He’d been going back and forth between a group chat with his Industry teammates and a twitter fight with Mike Best. Mike, master of button-pushing that he’s been for his entire career, had figured out a real good way to get Dane all riled up and in his feels. Eric knew what Mike was doing, it had been a tactic he’d used on others just as often, but in that completely unhinged state of mind he had no way of doing anything but falling right into the trap that Mike had set.
The saddest part?
Mike Best had probably not been trying to send Dane on tilt. Full disclosure, he was probably sitting at home, bored on the shitter, passing the time by cracking on anybody who had the dumb luck of showing up on his feed.
An HOFC Match between Dane and Best had almost been signed that night.
Instead, Eric took everything personally.
He had crushed and snorted a couple thousand milligrams of the ADHD medicine. On some level he knew what was happening. He’d reached out to his friends for help. For not nearly the first time, Lindsay Troy suggested that Eric take some time off and check himself into rehab. Dan Ryan offered to pay for it. MJ Flair offered moral support and probably a signed copy of one of her Mom’s albums. Eric ignored them all.
And he quit.
Like a bitch.
That’s enough about you, John.
Let’s talk about me.
My name is Eric Dane.
The Only Star.
The Last Outlaw in HOW.
And yes, that includes you. We can surmise that you’re no outlaw based specifically on your animalistic instinct to lick all the shit off of Lee Best’s bootheels. As a matter of fact, between that and your career as the Number Two Guy in every generic heel group you’ve ever come across, we can pretty much chalk you up to revisionist history and shock value. I mean, come on dude, at least during my stint with the Best Alliance I was the in-ring Leader.
You’re the guy Lee thought of after The Minister.
And Jatt Starr.
And sure, my run on the payroll was an abject failure. We can all agree to that. Hell, ask literally the entire roster. They all love to throw that shit up in my face. Your boy Steve did it just last week. All it earned him was a big, fat, embarrassing loss. But hey, he’ll bounce back right? That guy’s made a fuckin’ career out of almost being relevant so I wouldn’t be too worried. You wanna know why that run didn’t work out for anybody involved? Well, among several other reasons that are none of your fucking business, the deal-breaker for both sides was that I refused to bend that knee.
I don’t have it in me, John.
Maybe you can tell me what it’s like, following orders with a smile on that ugly mug of yours. Me, I’ve always been a little too defiant for all of that. Case in point, last week at Refueled. After I finished fuckstomping your girlfriend Solex you showed up, simp that you are, and did a real fine job White Knighting for him. Just like Uncle Lee directed, I’m sure.
Does he even let you take a loose shit without signing off on it?
Maybe he does.
Maybe you got a better deal than I did.
I doubt it, but anything is possible in HOW, that much I’ve come to wholeheartedly trust. Doesn’t really fuckin’ matter though does it? Once we get to Alcatraz the only advantage you’re gonna have is that my arm is sore. The issue with that, ol’ buddy ol’ pal, is that you didn’t finish the job on the arm when you had the chance. Instead of tearing my arm off you put me in that cute little Sektor Stretch.
And I laughed at you.
You wanna know why? Because you’re a fuckin’ puddle, bud. Judging from the look on your face anytime somebody smarter than you speaks you were probably dodgin’ a coat hanger for the first nine months of your life, weren’t ya? Jesus Christ, Sek, you’re easier to undress than a drunk white girl behind the dumpster at Los Pollos Hermanos on Dollar Margarita Night. I could keep going, John, I can break you apart verbally for hours on end. That much is disturbingly obvious, you being twice as thick as that shithead Solex. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about this though, bud, I’m certainly not taking you lightly.
That, my mustachioed friend, would be the kind of catastrophic mistake that I haven’t made since the night I let that fuckwit Darin Zion get one on me. Sure, I fucked up and pissed away a lot of opportunities in the interim, but I’ll never make the mistake of underestimating somebody in HOW again. I know that whether you’ll admit it or not I’m your litmus test, John. Weird Uncle Lee wants somebody smashed, so he brought back a sad disappointment to take that somebody out for him…
Remind anybody of anything?
It’s your boss’s way of doing business, John. His own method of operation.
Has been for a long time.
So I expect you to bring everything you’ve got, John. All of your experience and expertise, all of your backup, hell, bring us some dope and when this is all over we can get fucked up in the bathroom before the ambulance gets there. I’m not above it, and it’s cool now since Mike decided to hoover schneef off’a the World Title on live fuckin’ television a few months ago. You and me can set the golden standard for the rest of the show, Sek, two old-timers beating the shit out of each other all in the name of Lee Best’s ego!
I can’t fuckin’ wait.
I’ll even tell you a secret, John, if you promise to keep it between just us girls. This is probably the biggest match I’ve had in fifteen years. The stakes, for me personally, are the highest they’ve been since ten years before I’d ever heard your name. You wanna know why, John? Because this is my last run, for real. Mike can yammer on about dying in the ring all he wants, but that’s been my plan for as long as I can remember. But that’s not all my guy, I have to do something big at Alcatraz. If I don’t, I’ll never make it back to the top. I’ll never get another shot at another title, or the opportunity to main event another Pay-Per-View.
It all starts with you, John.
The beginning of the rest of my career.
The beginning of the end of yours if you ain’t real goddamned careful.
[October 13, 2020]
It has been a silent ride so far.
After Graysie’s successful title defense earlier in the night at MVW’s Wrestling Night in the Heartland Eric had been oddly quiet. Graysie half-expected that he’d have a mountain of shit to give her about getting distracted by ringside shenanigans and almost coughing the match up because of it. Instead he’d only nodded and buried himself in his phone, silently waiting as she showered and changed, even going so far as to pull her rolling suitcase behind him on their way out of the building proper and into the Navigator that they were currently silently riding in.
Dane has the wheel. In the passenger’s seat Graysie stares out at the stars, lost in the glimmering night’s sky and cursing herself for forgetting to pack her Raycons. Eventually, somewhere just on the outside of St. Louis on I-55, the Only Star breaks the silence.
“I’m proud of ya, kid.”
Blinking herself back out of the stars and into reality, Graysie mumbles a response. “Excuse me?”
“I said, I’m proud of you. For getting out of the dojo and getting to work. For winning that belt,” Eric jabs a thumb at the MVW Women’s Title, neatly seat-belted in the seat behind Graysie. “For everything.”
“Are you feeling okay, Eric?”
He rolls his eyes, hoping she doesn’t take it as a declaration of war.
“Nah, I’m serious.”
“Thought you might want to hear it.”
The silence returns. For her part, Graysie isn’t sure how to take it. She and Eric have been at each other’s throats since the two week span where he’d both quit her last gig for her and then made his HOW return by trying to ruin Lindsay Troy’s knee.
Awkwardly, she finally answers.
“Uh, thanks, I guess.”
It wasn’t exactly a shining display of gratitude, but Eric figured it’d have to do.
“Listen,” he says after what could have been an eternity. “I want things to go back to the way they were.”
That one strikes a nerve.
“Again I say, Excuse me?” She does a shitty job hiding the animosity that’s built up between her and the man who was supposed to strap the rocket to her ass and send her soaring to heights unknown in the wrestling business. “The way things were was awkward at best and have been downright terrible for the better part of a year! Did you know Auntie Lindz won’t even take my calls anymore?”
Eric makes a face.
“Eh. Lindsay’s been a little busy lately.”
Graysie crosses her arms belligerently and turns her eyes back to the stars.
More time passes.
Just past Memphis Eric tries again.
“How about…” he starts, aware of her cutting eyes at him. “We go back to the way that it should have been. We’re supposed to be a team. I’m supposed to be helping you, not holding you back. It’s just…”
Eric trails off.
“What?” Graysie isn’t used to Eric being so…
Eric considers this. It doesn’t take long.
“When we met, when you flash-pinned me in that gym in Tampa and I agreed to take you on, I wasn’t exactly in the best place…”
He trailed off again, Graysie gave him the time he needed.
“Look. I’ve been my own worst enemy for a good half of my life. I don’t want to be yours. I was a little, hell, a lot fucked up. My shrink has several words and phrases for it, Cognitive Distortion being the one that pops up the most. But I’m trying, fuck knows I’m trying. I don’t want to be remembered as a broken down failure, yanno? So I’m trying to do it right this time.”
He smirks at the absurdity of the thought.
“I’m trying to get my shit together, kid.”
“And?” Graysie asks.
“And I need all the help I can get.”