The Best Arena, Chicago
[An unaired segment]
Bryan McVay: And here is your winner, and STILL HOTV CHAMPION! JOOOOOHHHHNNNNN SEEEEKKTTOOOOOOORRRR!
The crowd erupted in wild, testosterone fueled, cheers as the Gold Standard’s name was announced as the winner of the match. Only the Chicago faithful would award a member of the Final Alliance with such a reaction, any other arena he’d likely received a chorus of boo’s, drowning out the odd pocket of fans who support him.
The HOTv champion pulled himself up from the ropes, feeling weak in the legs after a hard fought match against a fellow Hall of Famer, Bobbinette Carey. He knew he’d been in a tough match which made the victory all the more meaningful as he looked around at the crowd with the championship clutched firmly to his shoulder. Every match where he left the ring as the champion he felt grateful.
The Gold Standard leaned heavily against the ropes but found enough energy within himself to thrust the championship into the air, doubling the volume of cheers from the crazy Chicago fans. He glanced at the challenger who was still on her knees and shaking her head, probably feeling like she could have won. He waited for her to look at him. As she did he smirked but offered her a nod of respect. She merely closed her eyes and nodded to herself before rolling out of the ring to allow him his moment.
As John Sektor basked in the glory of his win, he couldn’t help but feel an electric tension in the air. It was like something was about to happen, like the universe was trying to tell him something. He looked out into the crowd, scanning the sea of faces for any sign of what it could be.
That’s when he saw her. A beautiful woman with long, dark hair and piercing emerald-green eyes. She was staring at him, and he felt like she was looking right through him.
Without even realising it, John found himself exiting the ring and moving towards her. His feet carried him through the cheering throngs of fans as he made his way to the edge of the ring barricade. The woman was still staring at him, her eyes burning into his.
As he got closer, John could see that she was wearing a black leather jacket and tight, dark jeans. She had a mischievous smile on her face, and he could tell that she was dangerous. His vision was still obscured from the sweat in his eyes and shots to the head he had received and he couldn’t quite make out who she was. His instincts felt like they knew.
“Chloe?” he murmured to himself in disbelief.
She was a few rows back in the crowd and as he threw a leg over the barricade she turned away from him.
“No, WAIT!” he yelled, quickening his pace as he vaulted the barricade.
The excited front row fans were getting in his way, pulling at his arms and thrusting their phones into his face. He tried to brush them off but they were in full mob mode.
“Get the fuck out of my way!” he growled, pushing one fan off him. “MOVE!”
He stood on his tip toes and could just about see the back of her raven haired head as she moved away from him.
“CHLOE?” he yelled, shoving one fan straight onto the concrete floor of the arena.
He fought through the crowd, tempted to start swinging but he knew that wouldn’t be wise. In the end he stopped, scanning around the sea of fans desperately trying to spot who he thought could be his long lost daughter.. She was gone.
He stood there gazing hopelessly into the crowd. A few of the fans close by had noticed something wasn’t right and had given him his space, but most continued to selfishly wrap their arms around him and take selfies. He just stood there looking numb, allowing it to happen.
As John tried to catch his breath, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he had just missed a chance to reconnect with his daughter. He had spent years trying to find her, and now that he was so close, she had slipped away again. He felt a pang of regret in his chest, wondering if he would ever get another opportunity like this.
He made his way back over the barricade to ringside, feeling defeated and exhausted. The adrenaline from the match had worn off, leaving him feeling drained. He slumped down on the padded floor, his championship belt still draped over his shoulder.
“You okay, champ?” a voice called out over his shoulder.
He turned his head to see the fiery red hair of his apprentice, Eve, looking down on him at ringside with a concerned look in her eyes. He didn’t answer her straight away and looked right through her. His head was completely gone.
“John?” she asked again, reaching out a hand and delicately placing it on his shoulder in a bid to comfort him.
He looked at her hand for a moment and closed his eyes.
“I’m fine,” he eventually said. “Just tired is all,” he lied, forcing himself up to his feet.
“You were amazing tonight,” she added, wearing a proud smile as she continued to comfort him.
Sektor puffed out his cheeks and shook his head.
“I wouldn’t go that far,” he admitted. “But we got the job done didn’t we?”
He reached out a hand which she dutifully slapped and grabbed.
Dirty Deeds reached the end of the track leaving nothing but the sound of the crowd in the arena, who suddenly started to begin chanting:
“That’s all for you!” Eve said.
Sektor smiled and lifted the championship in appreciation of the crowd, but deep down he didn’t care. He’d almost smashed a dozen of them straight in the mouth because they were in his way.
A member of the ring crew, sporting a headset, approached him nervously.
“I’m really sorry sir, but we need to clear the ring area for the World champion,” he explained.
Sektor’s top lip curled in disgust as he turned to face the crew member.
“Well he will have to fucking wait won’t he? This is my moment!” he spat, glaring angrily at the helpless crew man.
His anger quickly subsided as he remembered his place in the pecking order. The World champion was Mike Best, the Son of God. The last thing he needed was to piss off Lee when things were going so well for him. So he let out a deflated sigh and turned to Eve.
“I’ll catch up with you later,” he said.
He didn’t even hear her reply as he marched angrily towards the ramp to exit the ring area. A thousand thoughts were running through his throbbing head as took his leave.
He made his way backstage, his mind still reeling from the missed opportunity with his daughter. As he passed by other wrestlers and staff, he barely registered their greetings and well-wishes. He only had one thing on his mind, finding Chloe.
He quickly made his way to the locker room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. He suddenly halted in his tracks as he saw a woman standing in front of his locker room. She had her back turned and all he could see was the jet black hair and tight fitted dress. He moved closer and as she turned she smiled at him. He stopped walking again as disappointment resurfaced.
It was Blaire Moise.
“John, congratulations! Can I get a quick interview?” she asked, waving a microphone at him.
He turned his head and saw the camera guy to her left which he had failed to notice before. He sighed to himself and walked towards her.
“Not now Blaire,” he huffed, planting a hand on the door and pushing it open.
“Please,” she asked again. “I got some inside info for you?” she teased, hoping this would be enough to hook him in.
Sektor held the door slightly open and undecided. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone, but he knew he had duties to fulfil.
“Come on, this probably won’t even air,” she added.
Sektor turned and took a deep breath.
“Fine, but make it quick,” he ordered.
Blaire smiled and took a quick second to adjust her hair on her shoulders and to position herself correctly for the interview.
“I look okay?” she asked the camera guy.
He gave her a thumbs up and she nodded back. He began counting down from three on his fingers for Blaire to commence her interview.
“Blaire Moise here and as you can see I am with the HOTv champion, The Gold Standard John Sektor! John, congratulations tonight on retaining in what looked like a really hard fought win. How do you sum up that match with Bobbinette Carey tonight?”
Sektor took a second to gather his thoughts and compose himself. He was so far removed from the match that he needed to place himself back into that mindset so that he could articulate his thoughts to Blaire.
“Like you said, it was hard fought. I knew that Carey would bring it tonight, she always does in the big matches against big opponents and John Sektor for the HOTv title doesn’t come much bigger. She got some good shots in,” he explained, checking his nose to see if it had stopped bleeding. “She almost had me on a couple of occasions and it wasn’t my best performance. But I did what all great champions do and I found a way to get over the line and get the job done.”
“Your new apprentice, Eve, was in the front row tonight. What do you think she will take away from this match?”
“I told her beforehand not just to study what I do but what Carey does. She’s a woman looking to make her name for herself in an industry dominated by men and there was a lot she can learn from Carey’s performance tonight, good and bad. As well as my own. Most importantly I wanted her to see that getting a win isn’t always pretty. Sometimes you have to dig deep and get through some ugly moments, like I did tonight. There’s no easy matches when you get to this level but I was happy to still meet my own standard.”
He smiled proudly to himself but narrowed his eyes at Blaire as he noticed a familiar, mischievous, look in her eyes.
“Well, next week, my sources are telling me that you will be defending the HOTv championship-” she began, pausing deliberately for dramatic effect. “-against Charles de Lacy!”
Sektor’s eyes widened, not through fear, but through sheer surprise and intrigue at the mention of de Lacy’s name.
“Really,” he gasped.
“What do you think about that?”
Sektor took a moment to gather his thoughts.
“Well, first and foremost I don’t know a lot about him, other than what I’ve seen since coming back here. I’ve never wrestled him before so that, in itself, gives me an added challenge. It’s always more difficult to compete against someone you’ve never competed against. So if this is true then I’m going to have to go back and do my homework on this guy. Ultimately I’m going to have to adapt in the ring and do a lot of thinking on my feet.”
“Charles has been in great form recently, with his most recent victory coming against Shane Reynolds who you’ve had a lot of history with. Are you impressed by how quickly he has adapted to HOW and how high up in the rankings he is?”
“Uhm, I wouldn’t use the word impressed. Certainly, he has a certain level of professional respect from me. Beating Shane Reynolds is always a tough thing to accomplish so I have to be respectful of that and consider him a serious contender to my championship. Like you said, he hasn’t gotten to where he is in the rankings without working hard and winning so I certainly won’t be underestimating him, put it that way.”
He stroked his moustache, smiling to himself.
“But you know, this is great for the HOTv championship. When I beat Shane for it all those months back I promised the World that I wouldn’t settle for it being a bottom feeder belt. That I would elevate it and take it up the rankings with me. Now it’s being defended against a guy who, before tonight? Was joint third with me, right?”
Blaire nodded at him to confirm.
“So I am delivering on my promise. Every championship I have held I have strived to elevate and make more sought after and more lucrative. Now we have a championship defence with two men at the top end of the table so it’s a great moment for the HOTv championship.”
“It sounds like you have realistic expectations for this match, but I assume in your mind there is no doubt that you’ll be walking out next week with the championship?”
Sektor smirked confidently and shook his head.
“Absolutely none. I’m sure it will be a tough match, tougher than tonight’s probably. He’ll give me new challenges and new obstacles to overcome. I have no doubts about that. But ultimately I am now ranked second in the company. I should be throwing my name in the ring for a World championship shot, but I know that right now isn’t the time for that. But after Iconic? I promise that next year will be another year for John Sektor and it won’t be long before I’m the World champion. To do that I need to continue to prove myself and beating Charles de Lacy next week will go a long way towards achieving that.”
He looked around and began to push open his locker room door.
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hit the shower,” he explained.
He left Blaire to say her final words to the camera as he stepped into the locker room and shut the door behind him. He could hear her mumbling outside the door but the silence of the room only reminded him of the troubles in his mind. He approached one of the benches and slumped down onto it, draping the HOTv championship over his knees.
As he sat there, Sektor’s thoughts turned to his new apprentice, Eve. He had taken her under his wing, but he knew that she was nothing like him. She was young and naive, eager to learn, but still lacking the killer instinct that was necessary in the world of professional wrestling.
He had seen her watching the match tonight, her eyes wide with wonder and excitement. He had seen the potential in her, the raw talent that just needed to be honed and molded into something great. But he also knew that he had to be careful with her.
He could already feel the darkness that lurked within him, the cold and ruthless drive to win at all costs. He had seen it in Blaire’s eyes too, the hunger for success that drove her to ask those probing questions.
But Eve was different. She was innocent and pure, and he couldn’t let her be corrupted by the darkness that consumed him. He had lost Adam that way. He had lost his only daughter, Chloe, that way. He had to find a way to teach her the skills she needed to succeed, without succumbing to the darkness that threatened to consume her.
Sektor sighed, his thoughts drifting to his past mistakes. But he knew that he couldn’t dwell on them. He had to focus on the present, on the upcoming match against Charles de Lacy.
He picked up the championship belt and ran his fingers over the gleaming metal. He had worked hard to elevate the HOTv championship, to make it something more than just a stepping stone to the World championship. And he wasn’t going to let Charles de Lacy take that away from him.
He stood up, determination filling him. He had a match to prepare for, an opponent to study, and a championship to defend. And he was going to do it all with the same drive and determination that had brought him this far.
As he walked towards the shower, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. He needed to get ready for whatever Charles de Lacy had in store for him.
A few days later..
The Gold Standard Wrestling Academy
Sektor watched his students train from the window of his office. The academy building was an old, converted, warehouse and his office overlooked the main training area where the foreman would stand to check on his workers.
Sektor watched his students train from the window of his office. The academy building was an old, converted, warehouse and his office overlooked the main training area where the foreman would stand to check on his workers. The sounds of violence echoed through the warehouse walls with a muffled tone as the boxing bags, ropes and wrestling mats shook and swayed every time that someone hit them. The sound of canvas being landed on, shoes tapping against the wooden floorboards, along with grunts and yells caused the faint smell of stale sweat to waft through his room.
His eyes were glazed as though he was in a dream state. They were fixated on a set position, watching a young woman sparring in the ring with three male students. The woman had raven black hair and a slender figure, but this didn’t stop her from quickly locking up with two of the men and taking blows to her ribs and groin while she launched punches at their faces. She spun away from one man only to be taken down by another one who tried to lock up her legs so that he could dump her onto her back (but she managed to escape). Immediately after escaping this she found herself locked up with a third man who tried to apply a chokehold but failed when she broke free by punching him repeatedly in the face.
He smiled with pride. After all, it was his daughter he was watching in the ring, his own flesh and blood. A deep swell of pride flowed from his heart and through his veins as he watched his daughter following his teachings word for word and hold for hold.
His smile faded as quickly as his daughter’s hair faded from black to red. It wasn’t Chloe he was watching, but Eve. He had imagined, for a short moment, that his daughter was in that ring. That he had reconnected with her and was passing on his wisdom and teachings to the one fraction of goodness that he had ever delivered to the world.
He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. He couldn’t let his past mistakes consume him. He had to focus on the present, on training Eve to be the best wrestler she could be. More importantly, he had his own match to prepare for and a very difficult match at that.
He moved away from the window and grabbed a remote from the top of his solid oak desk. Behind the desk was a photograph of himself and Lee shaking hands as a reminder of where his loyalties lie.
As he clicked a button on the remote a blind began to retract down over the window. It wasn’t just a simple a blind, but a white canvas that could be used to project onto. He then moved behind his desk and took a seat in his plush, leather, office chair, clicking something on his laptop.
A video begins to play of the match at “In God’s House” between Charles de Lacy and Shane Reynolds. The sound of Joe and Benny can be heard, accompanied by the roaring fans as the match has reached fever pitch. Sektor strokes the bristles of his moustache slowly as he watches de Lacy closely as he locks in a side headlock and underhooked one of Reynolds legs.
Joe Hoffman: DANDY DECREE?
Sektor continued to study the footage as de Lacy completed a perfectly executed Fisherman suplex and bridges for the pin.
DING! DING! DING!
Joe Hoffman: de Lacy wins!
Sektor pauses the footage and rewinds. He watches again as de Lacy sets up and hits the fisherman suplex, this time a little more closely. As he hears the third count and the bell he pauses the footage and sits back in his seat, staring at a frozen image of de Lacy with Reynolds hooked in a fisherman suplex bridge-pin.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of that move, hundreds of times,” he began, still stroking his moustache with a slightly concerned look in his eyes. “What makes yours so special?”
He sat for a moment, trying to figure it out. Soon he realised that he would have to forensically analyse de Lacy’s suplex and pin to see if you could figure out what made this simple suplex so devastating in his upcoming opponents hands.
He sat forward again and began to open up some software on his computer, loading up the video file from the match he was just watching. It took a painfully long moment to load and as he impatiently waited there came a knock at his door. He didn’t look up as he answered.
The door opened and in stepped his young apprentice, Eve. She was sweaty and breathing heavily from her sparring session, with a red swelling forming under her eye that didn’t seem to be bothering her.
“Hey, is this a good time?” she asked nervously, noticing that he was deep in concentration.
He waved her in. “Close the door,” he instructed.
Eve moved curiously behind his desk and looked over his shoulder at what he was doing. She could see a still image of de Lacy with Reynolds head and leg hooked and ready for the Fisherman suplex.
“This guy’s finisher, it’s nothing special,” he began, shaking his head slowly with a puzzled look on his face. “But he’s won so many matches with it. There has to be something different that he’s doing,” Sektor explained.
He pressed play and both he and Eve looked up at the big screen covering the window. They both watched as the move was executed, this time in slow motion. He studied every aspect of it, from the way de Lacy bent his knees for the lift, to the moment he exploded at the hips for extra impact as he brought Reynolds over head, right the way through to the impact on the canvas.
“Nothing special there,” he groaned.
His eyes narrowed as he looked at the bridging pin. He was straining to look at something and quickly moved his hands to begin clicking around on his computer software. The screen zoomed in several times to a blurry, pixelated image which slowly began to focus. Once the image was sharply he investigated the hands and arms of de Lacy as he kept Shane’s leg hooked.
“Look at that,” Sektor gasped, pointing at the screen. “Look how much effort he’s putting into that clasp. Every ounce of strength is going into that leg hook. His arms are bursting.”
He continued to watch it in slow motion but then clicked for it to play at full speed.
“Look at Shane!” he instructed, pointing at the screen once again. “He’s desperately trying to kick out of that but he CAN’T!”
Eve merely marvelled at how the move was being executed, whilst Sektor was subconsciously rubbing both of his knees with a look of dread written all over his face. He soon found himself looking down at them and it dawned on him just how much of a problem that move could be for him.
“If he hits that suplex on me I’m toast,” he admitted, pausing the video and sitting back in his seat.
“You really think so?” Eve questioned, carrying a huge amount of belief in her mentor as the champion.
“My knee’s are fucked. Even with the braces I won’t have the strength to kick out of that. He’ll know that. He’s perfected that fucking move and that’s his ticket to his first HOW championship,” he explained.
“What are you going to do?” Eve asked, not in a way that she was concerned, but more inquisitive as to the tactical mindset of her mentor.
“I don’t know yet,” he admitted. “This isn’t boxing. It’s not like I can just stay on the outside of him and keep away. Everytime I get close to him to grapple I’m running the risk of him executing that move. This is going to be tricky.”
He continued to stare at the still image of de Lacy and the Fisherman suplex, rubbing his moustache for comfort. Eventually he glanced up at Eve out of the corner of his eyes and realised that he needed to inspire some confidence.
“Don’t worry though,” he continued. “This is what it’s all about. This is why we prepare and do our homework. Straight away from watching this I now know that I will have to work on my timing, when to move in and when to not. I need to be selective and if I find myself in a compromising position I need to try and stay alert.”
He swivelled in the chair slightly, turning away from the screen to give Eve his full attention.
“The most important thing to remember is that I am the champion. This-” he continued, tapping the HOTv championship which lay next to the computer on the desk. “-is mine to lose. He has to take it from me and as a champion I always have the advantage. I just need to figure out what his weaknesses are and try to exploit them.”
“Have you noticed any yet? Weaknesses, I mean?” she asked.
“From what I’ve seen he’s quite a well rounded wrestler. He’s slightly taller than me, about the same weight, so physically there’s no advantage for me, in fact that probably goes to him as well because he’s younger and less banged up than I am. But he is prone to the odd mistake. And he has an arrogance about him that I can look to exploit,” he explained.
He chewed on that for a moment before looking at Eve and narrowing his eyes as a thought popped into his mind. He then reached for the laptop and pulled out a USB stick.
“I have an assignment for you,” he began, extending the USB stick to the young red head.
She took the USB stick from him, looking at his with a confused look on her face.
“It’s important that you learn how to analyse an opponent for a match. You need to learn their strengths and weaknesses as well as look for patterns and re-emerging situations that occur over multiple encounters. On that stick is every match that Charles de Lacy has had to date. I want you to go back to your quarters and watch every single one over and over and make notes. Tomorrow I expect a full presentation detailing anything important that you think can help me beat him.”
Eve stood gawking at him, almost mesmerised by the task he had just given her as though she was overwhelmed. It was indeed a lot for work to do in one night and something she had never done or had to do before.
“Why are you standing there? Get to it!” he barked, frowning at her with a stern and authoritative expression.
“I-I don’t have a computer,” she replied, her cheeks blushing with embarrassment.
Sektor seemed taken slightly aback by that admission so calmly began to unplug his laptop from the wall, shutting the lid and lifting it from his desk.
“Here,” he offered, extending the computer to her. “You can borrow mine.”
“Thanks,” she said, nervously taking it from him.
“Now get going, there’s no time to waste.”
She nodded her head obediently and hurried out of his office.
Once alone, Sektor was left with a worried feeling in the pit of his stomach.
He knew that this match was going to be his toughest challenge yet, and the stakes were high. Not only was he defending his championship title, but he was also fighting for his career. He had been in the wrestling business for over two decades, and he knew that his time was running out. His body was betraying him, and he could feel his knee shudder with pain every time he took a step. But he couldn’t afford to lose, not now, not ever.
Winning was all he had left.