“I’ve known a great number of clever men. I’ve outlived them all. You know why? I ignored them.” – Lady Oleanna Tyrell; Game of Thrones
Two days before RATR
Ritz Carlton San Francisco
The knock on her door is so soft that Lindsay didn’t hear it at first.
She’s out on the balcony with a glass of white wine, enjoying the cool air off the Bay and listening to the hustle and bustle from the streets below, tourists making their way to their dinner reservations, sleepy travelers looking for their hotels to crash for the night.
It’s amazing to think that just a year ago, she and Dan were talking strategy, getting ready to ascend one of two guard towers in defense of the High Octane tag titles against Darin Matthews and Brian Hollywood.
This year, while the biggest unknown is what her match will be, her opponent is someone she should know better than anyone, but now hardly knows at all.
It’s nearly impossible to prepare for a man like Dan Ryan. For a big man, he’s more than agile; he’s ferocious even when he’s not holding a title, but when he has one he guards it like Smaug hoarding the treasure of the Lonely Mountain. Now that he’s embraced an inner monster long suppressed there will be no stopping him until he destroys the matriarch of the Troy family.
Lindsay’s ancient house faces collapse because of the Hammer of GoD.
While she’s beaten him before, most recently with her double knee strike, this tactic might not be good enough this time. His deadly elbow brace could knock her clean out of the air, and the only way she might have a chance is to keep him grounded.
Attack the knee.
The one she injured five years ago, tearing ligaments that put him on the shelf for nearly a year. She’s never tried to put the Stay of Execution on someone of Dan’s size; Eric Dane was the largest opponent, and her most recent experiment, but it might be her only chance to survive this match.
And Lindsay needs to survive Dan. Not just for herself, to stand toe-to-toe with the man he is now, look down the barrel of the gun and play Russian Roulette with every punch she throws, every kick she lands. Not just for her sense of returning and belonging in GoD … and who knows if there will even be a GoD after Rumble at the Rock is over. But for her own aspirations in the company.
Lindsay wants to be known as one of – if not the greatest women wrestlers High Octane Wrestling has ever seen, and she can’t do that until she wins a singles title. The ICON championship represents the purest wrestling title in the company; on par with the World Title, held by some of the best wrestlers to ever step foot in a High Octane ring. It’s been held by every Group of Death member multiple times, and the last time she had a chance to take it, she came up just short due to the eMpire protecting their own: Cecilworth Farthington.
This is the way things are now, Lindsay thinks to herself as she takes another sip of wine. I’ve never won a title by being fucking nice.
And the time for pleasantries has long since past.
The knock on the door comes a little louder now, and Lindsay turns her head toward the entrance. Puzzled, she walks back through her room and checks the privacy hole, then quickly unbolts the locks and flings the door open.
Her daughter stands before her, a rolling suitcase in one hand and a large travel bag resting against the handle.
“Hi Mom. Don’t be mad, okay?”
Lindsay’s jaw about hits the floor at the sight of her. “Don’t be…What the hell?!”
“Can I come in? I have something to show you.”
When her mother doesn’t move, Ami pushes by her into the room, showing more gumption than she has in all 20 years of her life. She throws her bag on the floor and quickly sets about unzipping her suitcase. Lindsay walks into the living area, still stunned.
“What is going on with my children showing up in places they are not supposed to be?”
“I know, but I don’t have Friday classes so at least this isn’t super weird.”
“Don’t try and reason your way around this,” Lindsay scowls. “Start talking.”
Rather than explaining, Ami whirls around and presents two metal plated forearm guards that had been wrapped up in her clothes.
“When I said Kaz and I were trying to help you,” Ami starts. “His plan was to try and talk to CeCe. And this was mine. To counteract Uncle Dan’s elbow brace.”
Lindsay looks down at Ami’s hands. The guards look adjustable, and like they’d easily slip on and off her arms, fully covering her fists and forearms.
“Ami…” she stammers, floored at the gesture and at her daughter’s ingenuity. “I don’t know what to say.
“Do you want to try them on?” Ami smiles and holds them out. “And I can show you what they can do.”
So, here we go with this.
Dan Ryan is going to do what Dan Ryan does; come through with a lot of window dressing and big mean words to assert his dominance.
Yes, you’re dominant, Dan. But your big mean words aren’t gonna drive a knife through my heart. They haven’t done it before, and they won’t do it now.
I’ve survived a lot of harsh shit from people, and I’ll survive it from you just the same.
I’ve survived in this business because I haven’t had anyone take it easy on me. Because I’ve endured the struggle, scratched and clawed my way to the top of the mountain. And it sure wasn’t because you gave anything to me, Dan. You like to crow about how you ‘put’ my first world title on me; motherfucker, I ran the tables on your tournament and I goddamn took it.
And then I held onto it for over 800 days because nobody had the talent or the temerity to take it from me.
I am the single most decorated female athlete this sport has ever seen. There had never been someone like me before I came along and there will never be another one like me once I finally hang my boots up for good. Those boots you told me to put back on two years ago because, “hey, you used to have fun doing this,” and “it’d be great to work together again.”
Let’s not forget who followed whom here.
Let’s not forget who first came calling to me to join up with Eric Dane and the Best Alliance.
That was all you, buddy. You and I are inextricably linked, whether you like it or not.
You can run me down, think of every clever turn of phrase to pop the boys, break my spirit, make me want to take my ball and call it quits for good.
But I’m a survivor.
I fuckstomped Eric Dane at No Remorse and I took this ICON title shot. I ate chairshot after chairshot after chairshot and watched the Minister sign his name to a Death Match in my blood, and I walked out of the Best Arena with my head up.
I’m not going anywhere until I get the only thing that’s eluded me here, and that’s glory and singles gold in HOW.
I’m not leaving until I forever make my mark on this place. And that mark’s not gonna be that I had a bad stretch of it in 2020 and I somehow, someway rose above it all. I’m no underdog, I’m not one to be pitied, you can get the fuck outta here.
No matter what, I’ve always survived you.
And I’ll survive you again. This time, with gold in my hand.