Sweat pours from the brow of Sutler as he pushes himself across the ring. He throws his weight into the ropes, feels them stretch and bend before using that building momentum to launch himself back toward the other side of the ring.
They call it running the ropes, it’s one of the basics of wrestling and something that every wrestler worth their salt has learned.
In this place Sutler could escape from the dramas of the world outside of it. In this place he could hone his body, train it to take damage, to endure pain and to push beyond to achieve physical victory over an opponent. Up until now he had been given older guys, low card scrubs and part time talent.
Bobby Dean would be his biggest challenge to date. That wasn’t a fat joke that was the truth. While the Sutler on screen did like to talk about how successful he was or how skilled he was the truth was that he was a young man with only a few years under his belt. He made mistakes, he tried to take shortcuts that only veterans should try and he definitely lacked the full arsenal of weapons older, more experienced guys had.
That did not mean that Sutler couldn’t learn and improve though.
Bobby Dean, on the other hand, very well might have reached his wrestling peak in many ways.
Trudging across the ring Sutler went over the list of moves in his head again. Suplexes, Michinoku Driver, Brainbuster, Senton, Headlock.
Those were the core of Bobby’s offensive outside of punches and kids. There wasn’t anything wrong with having a limited offensive, the key was doing it flawlessly, executing it in such a way that your opponent can not counter it. Bobby was good..
But he wasn’t that good. It was a weakness that Sutler would target and exploit. Bobby was bigger and stronger but Sutler was faster, quicker and had a deeper pool of offensive and defensive capacity. His adopted father, Max, would likely have rope a doped Bobby allowing him to wear himself out. His biological father, Shane, might have gone for direct, brutal offensive destruction hurling his body at Dean.
Sutler had a different tactic in mind.
He felt his body lean into the ropes once again. Again and again.
The Dean Weiner.
That was the real problem in all of this, Sutler reasoned. The Beautiful Dropkick was easily countered so long as Sutler was prepared for it however to find yourself in the Deaner Weiner means that something terrible must have already happened. His uncle, Mike Best, had countered the attack by literally biting Bobby’s dick. Effective if crude, Sutler wasn’t entirely sure he had it in him to bite another man’s dick to win a match.
At least he didn’t think he did, he hadn’t found himself in the position yet.
Lost in his thoughts Sutler tripped, his body hurling itself to the ground where he crashed and burned, his shoulder taking the brunt of the crash before his limp body rolled to a stop. It didn’t hurt much other than his pride and as he laid on the heap on the ground Sutler was happy for the rest.
Staring up at the lights above the ring he could feel the mild sting of the sweat rolling into the corner of his eyes. He felt his heart attempting to tear itself out of his chest as it pushed his blood through his body. He felt his legs, which had gone numb from the running, began to feel again, fire burning through his calves.
He took in all the pain and let it wash over him like a punishment. If he tripped in his match against Bobby he wouldn’t just be staring up at the lights, he’d be receiving his first loss in a High Octane Wrestling ring.
That wasn’t acceptable.
Sucking in a few more breaths Sutler clenched his teeth and pulled himself up using the nearby ropes. He took a moment as he steadied his breath and let his mind settle. He had another twenty minutes of running the ropes before he could move onto falls. Plenty of time to think of ways to counter the Deaner Weiner he believed.
Taking in another deep breath Sutler threw himself into the ropes.
Sutler leaned back in his chair as a grin stretched across his face.
“Great, that’s a wrap then.” A voice called from behind the camera that had been filming the young man. The bright light that had been behind the camera switched off as Sutler’s eyes dilated, readjusting to the sudden absence of light.
“You think that was fine?” the Son of Scions asked, fidgeting in the chair that seemed comically large for him.
“I’ve been recording bits for High Octane Wrestling for a while now and this is by far one of the more entertaining bits I’ve seen in awhile. It should be edited up and ready Refueled this Saturday.” the man who appears to be the on site direction assures Sutler with a broad smile before his phone chimes to life. He excuses himself and slips away as the young Reynolds-Kael leans back in his chair satisfied with the answer.
“He says the same thing every time he finishes up with anyone. He even told Brian Hollywood he looked like World Championship material last year.” the camera man admits with an apologetic look.
“..Brian Hollywood? Darin’s friend?”
“The same one.”
The confidence in Sutler was immediately let out as he considered that unfortunate news. The smile quickly descended into a Reynolds style frown. If dark storm clouds could have gathered above his head and rained directly on his parade, it would have. Unfortunately Sutler had neither magical powers nor the budget to create such a visual.
“Where have you BEEN?!”
The voice cut through the air like a dagger, the cold, vindictive call of his dear Aunt Elenore, the executor of the Kael Estate and arch nemesis to the Best Family. Over the last few weeks Sutler had been desperate to avoid her while enjoying the relative freedom that High Octane Wrestling offered him.
“Oh, uh, Hi!”
Sutler stammered as panic gripped his heart. He quickly jumped up from his chair, his dark eyes darting around the room as he searched for anything to busy himself with. Spotting a small stack of used scripts Sutler snatched them, burying his face in them desperate to avoid his Aunts withering gaze.
“I’ve been trying to contact you for the last three days, where is your phone?” Elenore hissed through clenched teeth, her ruby red lips like fresh blood opposite her snow white skin.
“Oh my phone, I lost it last week.” He lied quickly with a gentle shrug of his shoulders. Almost as if fate were to remind him of the shortcomings of lying a soft ping echoed from his pocket, the tell-tell sound of a match from Tinder.
“Then what was that?” Elenore countered, a thin eyebrow rose atop her brow, her contempt plain.
He knew he was sunk but some part of his lizard brain wouldn’t let him admit that to his Aunt. Maybe it was fear? Maybe some part of his adopted father was rattling around in his head refusing to allow the two to have a healthy relationship. It didn’t matter at this point, the lie was sent out into the world and based on the crinkle that formed on the bridge of his Aunt’s nose, she was smelling his obvious bullshit.
She approached him slowly akin to a cat circling in on it’s cornered prey. In his mind Sutler understood physically his Aunt was no match for him and he could easily reach out and snap her in half but even knowing that he felt a deep fear of her. Maybe it was her confidence or Sutler’s awareness that both of his fathers, Shane and Max, had thrown their best at her and she had managed to survive.
Now Max was dead and Shane was MIA but Elenore?
Like death and taxes the specter of the Kael Family never seemed to go away for long.
“You’re a terrible liar, just like your father.”
The words cut through Sutler as Elenore slapped the papers out of his hands before snaring his chin between her thumb and index finger. She pulled him close enough that he could see the scars beneath the heavy make-up as well as the dead quality of the glass eye that filled the left socket, gifts left to her by her deranged brother Max.
Gathering his strength Sutler slapped her hand away before turning his back on her, his brooding expression back on his face as he pushed the fear down.
“Yeah well if you learn to lie well from your family, your family is probably a pretty shitty family.” he spat out as he stormed away from her seeking to set some distance between the two.
“Where are you going Sutler?”
“I’ve got to get ready for Saturday, big match against Bobby Dean.” he shot over his shoulder as his pace quickened. In was a partial truth, he did need to prepare for Bobby. He had talked a lot of shit about the guy over the years, if he were to lose to him now he’d look like a real piece of shit.
“We need to talk.”
Her voice was going distant as Sutler continued to put distance between the two of them. Here in the Best Arena the back halls were like a maze with storage rooms, lockers, offices and conference rooms, with any hope he could get lost in that mess and avoid his Aunt.
“Yeah, we will.”
She replied but he couldn’t hear her. She sounded angry but Sutler didn’t care. He was finally free, free to live out his fantasy, free to experience the world outside of the Kael Estate and outside of the control of anyone whose last name ended with Reynolds, Kael or even Best. A smile stretched over his face as that dark cloud of his head started to break, a little sun shine coming down.
“We need to talk now.”
The thunder roared overhead as the storm intensified. Somehow Elenore had managed to cut Sutler off despite having been left so far behind. Letting out a scream Sutler threw on the breaks scrambling, stumbling and falling back as he stared up at the disapproving face of his Aunt.
“We will just leave me the fuck alone right now, Jesus!”
Sutler scrambled back up to his feet as his face flushed red. He could feel his skin burning as the adrenaline kicked through his veins. Fear was replaced with anger as he glared at his Aunt who refused to give up the ghost and leave him alone.
There was a finality to her words that inferred to Sutler that she was not willing to budge on it. Before Sutler could offer any further debate on the issue she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small black silk bag tossing it to Sutler.
“What’s this supposed to be?” he asked as he peered down at the bag with a shrewd eye. Elenore didn’t answer simply crossing her arms as her eyes narrowed at her shithead nephew. Knowing there was only one way to get the answer Sutler carefully pulled open the bag and peered inside.
He felt his blood run cold, all the hate and anger he had managed to summon against his Aunt fell flat.
He chided himself for ignoring the calls and avoiding her. Looking back up Sutler felt himself trembling.
“What does this mean?”
She doesn’t answer as Sutler stares down at the flickering mechanical eye of Max Kael.
Robert Dean, first and foremost I want you to understand how proud we are of you.
Over the last year you have lost weight, you’ve improved your win loss average and made major changes in your social life that we here at High Octane Wrestling believe will lead you to even greater success. We are absolutely thrilled that you’ve decided to look to Michael Lee Best for guidance while leaving behind the eGG Bandit lifestyle.
It takes a lot of courage to recognize the flaws in yourself and work toward better yourself. It seems fitting now that our employer, my grandfather, Lee Best, has decided that you needed to be the first member of the High Octane Roster to meet with the new President of Human Resources.
That being, of course, me, Sutler Reynolds-Kael, the Son of Scions.
Oh but you knew that already didn’t you buddy?
See I felt up until this moment that I was being a bit formal and I don’t want you to feel nervous or unsure. I want people to feel like I’m the kind of guy you can come to with all your problems and concerns knowing that I am going to take them very seriously. After Refueled I want you to feel that, no matter how badly you get beaten, no matter how quickly you tap out or get pinned you’ll always have my respect and ear should you need it.
I’m here to put the Human back into Resources, to wade through the nitty gritty in order to really make sure that the High Octane product is something that can be enjoyed by all people, an inclusive, progressive program where nobody has to feel like they are bullied, belittled or besmirched in anyway. I want to start that with you Bobby.
So what have covered so far?
I’m proud of you and I respect you.
Now I read somewhere that when you do these kinds of reviews it is important to lead with positives, this helps put you at ease and prepares you for any criticisms you might receive. How are you feeling right now Bob? You’re famed for your self-deprecating sense of humor is probably hard at work right now.
This little exhibition match we’re about to have is your chance to show Mike what you are capable of. Some part of your brain is preparing you for the big run, for Bobby Dean’s big chance to break out, to rise above the station you’ve languished in the last few years.
This match means a lot to you and because of that you think you’ve given yourself some kind of advantage.
Here’s the snag with that.
You’re not the only guy in a situation to have to win this match. You’re trying to salvage a career while I’m trying to build mine. I don’t ever intend to find myself in your situation, Bobby, having to betray everything I’ve ever known in order to grab at a chance for glory. I don’t intend to find myself there by treating each and every match as a must win, by treating every match, from top to bottom like a must win.
What weight do you have on you when all you do is fight for yourself, Bobby? Just yourself and after your recent weight loss I can’t imagine that’s much pressure.
I have to do it for my Aunt Elenore, to make her proud and feed into my need to have a mother figure.
I have to do it for Uncle Mike, to get that special little dopamine jolt when he says what I do is passable.
I have to do it for Shane Reynolds, to remind him that he isn’t the best Reynolds in High Octane Wrestling history anymore.
I have to do it for Max Kael, to remind the World that he isn’t the best Kael in High Octane Wrestling history anymore.
And sure, after all that, I do it for myself because otherwise I’d probably blow my brains across a wall.
Fuck just saying this is making me feel a little shaky about what would happen if I were to lose to you Bob. Do you really want whatever might happen if lost and my fragile ego shattered leaving me feeling like an absolute failure.
Do you really want that on your head?
If you’re not willing to accept that, Bobby, you’re not ready to be learn from a man who murdered his own brother to keep his World Title and you’re not ready to beat his nephew who I can promise you will not hesitate to do whatever it takes to win.
That’s me, I’m the nephew.
Whew, that got a little dark, I hope I didn’t make this uncomfortable for you, Bobby. Let’s finish with something positive, right?
After you do exactly what is expected of you, losing to me, the doors to success will be thrust open. After February 20th, after one final loss to me, Bobby Dean begins his conquest of High Octane Wrestling!
…after you lose to me.
Thanks, buddy, good talk. You’re free to leave now.