I’ve had some good tag team partners over the years..
Footage of a young John Sektor and Chris CK begins to play from the early 2000’s. Sektor and CK both raise the tag team championships above their heads with raw emotions flooding their facial expressions.
More footage of Sektor and Scott Stevens during their brief stint as the ‘Thoroughbreds.’
I’ve had some great ones..
The video montage continues, firstly highlighting Sektor and Mark O’Neal under the Best Alliance. The team known as the ‘A-Listers’ stand at the top of two turnbuckles, showing the world their prizes.
The montage then switches to a shot of Sektor standing in a group with the Argonauts of awesome; Christopher America, Paul Paras, Silver Cyanide and, of course, Mario Maurako. This is followed up with a shot of Ground Zero; Rhys Townsend and Evan Ward.
One who I would even consider a brother. Mi Hermano..
The montage shows a slo-mo of Sektor and Jatt Starr embracing one another with the Tag Team championships in hand.
To master the craft of tag team wrestling is to harness chaos and chemistry.
A pair of warriors click. In-ring partners feel as close as brothers. And when it comes time to ring the bell, the stories they tell are bolstered by tried-and-true tag techniques.
Done deftly, tag team competition is a jolt of energy in the squared circle. It’s turning a crowded ring into a stage for a violent drama. The formula for making the most of tag wrestling is simple yet hard to achieve. The ideal team fits together like two jigsaw puzzle pieces.
Sometimes you knew more about your tag team partner than you knew about your wife!It’s no coincidence that some of the greatest teams of all time have been either brothers or best friends.
Fuse and Noble? HOW threw them together, seemingly for the sake of filling gaps in the tournament bracket. It was clear that putting them together was smart. They were both elite workhorses who were underappreciated and more renowned for their mic work than their mat skills. Sharing all that seemed to make them fast friends.
Now look at them. They overcame a handicapped points score in the group stage and made it all the way to the finals. That’s all the proof I need that they are a match made in heaven and certainly a team who can defeat us if we don’t prepare properly.
Myself and Adam aren’t brothers. We aren’t father and son. Although we have a close relationship, you couldn’t really consider us friends either. What we have is unique, in the sense that I don’t remember HOW ever having a student/teacher tag pairing until now.
But the chemistry we share is real. We understand one another. I know how his mind thinks. I know what his weaknesses are and he understands how I operate because he has studied me like a wrestling bible. Trust is not an issue because I tell him what to do and he follows his orders to the letter.
Unlike most teams you see these days, ours has clear leadership. We refer to tag teams as a partnership, but in my mind you always need clear and decisive leadership to achieve your goals as a team. That’s not to say that I’m a tyrant who barks orders at him. I’m not Putin. A good leader listens. I take note of every word he says and evaluate it so that I can learn from him, just as much as he learns from me.
That is why we are a great team. That is what got us to the finals of the tournament. There’s no luck involved, I was even wrestling with half my right knee. It was grit and determination, but it was also careful planning and training.
Noble gaming will be hoping that my focus lies with the LSD championship, and that we will slip up in the tag title match because of that fact. Unfortunately for the two of them? They are about to be reminded as to why I am a Hall of Famer. We will be putting as much focus and planning into this championship match as I will be doing for my submission match with Pleasant.
All or nothing.
And just like Jatt’s theme music?
I want it all!
Sunday, March 13th
St Louis, MO
The Brazilian oak desk, in my office, at the Academy headquarters was littered with letters and bills that my accountant wanted me to review. Adam and I would be entering boot camp for March to Glory the following morning and heading to Milwaukee that night, so I was trying to get on top of all of my other duties so I could focus on my two championship matches. It was at these times that I found myself missing Regan, even if she was conspiring against me.
The GSWA was spending more than we were earning. I’d just put a down payment on a swimming pool being put in because hydrotherapy was good exercise for worn out knee joints. My team tell me that my business model is all wrong, which annoyed the fuck out of me because they are essentially agreeing with everything Regan said. The twelve recruits we had for the Gold Standard programme had dwindled down to eight, so I suggested we fill their numbers. Apparently the lump sums they paid in fees wouldn’t be enough and that if the business is to survive we need a steady income of money. It’s been pitched to me that we open our doors to anyone who wants to take wrestling classes and use the facilities. In other words, turn it into a regular gym.
I hated the idea. It made my vision for the academy seem less special. But we had bills to pay.
A knock at my office door broke my concentration.
“Come in,” I called, reaching for a steaming cup of fresh, black, coffee on my desk.
Adam entered my office with his usual friendly enthusiasm. My stomach instantly began doing backflips as I looked at his innocent face. The guilt was already consuming me. How could I have done something like this to him? It feels like betrayal but I know in my heart that my intentions for doing what I did were for his own good.
“Adam,” I said with a forced chirpy tone. “How was your weekend?”
“It was, okay. Was nice to go to church with my parents this morning,” he admitted.
I gestured for him to pull out a seat opposite my desk, knowing full well that it was only a matter of time before he found out what I had done.
“Well, I’m not a God loving person myself. But I respect it,” I replied. “You want some coffee? It’s fresh.”
“No, I’m good. Thanks.”
I found myself sipping my coffee with my eyes pointing down to the papers on the desk. I felt like a coward.
“So,” I began, finally looking up at him with a forced smile. “March to Glory. We made it!”
His face lit up as I said this.
“How are you feeling?”
“Oh, you know,” he began, taking a deep breath. “Excited, nervous, all of the usual stuff. I’m just stoked to be in the final.”
“Well, I intend to win. As I’m sure you do too,” I suggested, reaching for the remote control to my projector screen. “I thought we could have a little briefing session before we commence training.”
He turned around to watch the projector screen scrolling down to conceal the office window overlooking the shop floor. Once it was down I clicked open some files I had prepared on my laptop which was linked to it. The face of David Noble appeared.
“David Noble. Came to HOW after a six year hiatus from wrestling, having last competed at, defiance,” I explained, almost vomiting the final word out. “Physically, we should match him in every way. He’s a brawler, likes to punch his way through matches so you’re gonna want to work close to him. Use your grapples and keep him close, don’t let him get any room to get shots on you.”
He nodded affirmatively to indicate he had made a mental note.
“The six year absence doesn’t seem to have affected him much. He’s shaken the rust off pretty quick and doesn’t look like he’s lost a step. He’s a good team player from the looks of things and, like Fuse, he competes with passion and heart. But what are his weaknesses?”
I began to click through some slides which showed noble in various poses where he seemed agitated, angry and frustrated.
“He has a short fuse. His temper can get the best of him so that’s something we need to look to exploit.”
“How do we do that?” Adam asked, looking genuinely intrigued.
I puffed out my cheeks and relaxed back in my chair. Getting a reaction out of people was somewhat a speciality of mine.
“Whatever it takes. Bring out the dirty playbook. Poke him in the eye. Illegal chokes. Whisper in his ear that you’re gonna stretch him harder than you stretched his girl last night..”
Adam frowned as though this kind of gameplay was alien to him.
“Does he even have a girlfriend?”
“I dunno, it’s not important. Find out! Point is that you don’t win championships by being a clean collar guy, Adam. Sometimes you gotta get dirty and we should be doing everything we can to light this guy’s fuse. Anger is good, but lose control of it and it can be your undoing.”
I clicked another slide which showed noble in mid air, sending an elbow towards an unknown opponent who lay on the announce table.
“He’s a risk taker too. That’s good for us because we are not. Not unless it’s absolutely necessary and that the risk is a calculated one!”
Adam nodded slowly and closed his eyes, as though he’d heard that lecture from me a thousand times over. Because he had. The face of the World champion soon appeared at the click of the next slide. I took a moment to study Connor’s face. The face of the company. The face of the World champion.
“Connor Fuse. Our World champion. Like me he has won every match this year. Unlike me, he has been beaten since War Games last year. However, he is in the form of his life and you need to be ready for him.”
“Yeah, he’s awesome,” Adam gasped, quickly removing his smile as I shot him a look.
I clicked the next slide which showed a picture of Connor alongside his brother, Tyler Fuse.
“He has pedigree in tag team wrestling. He and his brother, Tyler, were quite the unit over at Defiance. It’s likely the key driver behind him and Noble clicking so quickly. Their chemistry seems almost instant.”
Clicking again reveals a picture of Connor in mid-springboard moonsault.
“He’s a high flyer. Fast pace and momentum are his tools to bewilder and wear out his opponent. He and Noble have very contrasting styles but they seem to compliment each other well. Noble being the heavy hitter and Connor with the high tempo assault. Same tactics here, keep him grounded. Don’t give him the space to get that speed going and don’t turn your back on him.”
I watched the back of Adam’s head nodding as he kept his eyes focussed on the projector, completely engaged with the brief. The next slide was a video where you could see Fuse climbing to the top turnbuckle, his opponent laid down horizontally, directly beneath him.
“The super splash 450. Look at the positioning of his opponent,” I explained, circling the opponent with a lazer pointer. “You need to be fully aware of your surroundings in this match and if you find yourself there? You’re in splash territory. Best thing you can do is wait until he jumps and then roll out of dodge at the last second. That way? He hurts himself and you can capitalise.”
I noticed Adam judder slightly as he watched the impact from Fuse landing torso first on his opponent. I then clicked to the next video where Fuse has just whipped his opponent to the ropes and as he runs back towards him Fuse jumps up and stomps him down to the mat with the ‘foot stomp.’
“Watch out for that one. Don’t go charging at him at ANY point in this match. He can pull that move from anywhere so long as you’re running at him. Hug the ropes and slip out of the ring if you have to.”
I click the screen until it turns off and wait for Adam to turn back towards me.
“You got all that?” I asked.
He nodded fairly confidently. “I think so.”
“The thing about Connor is that he relies on his opponents taking him for a fool. Don’t fall for that ‘video game-guy’ image of his. He’s a smart kid. There’s a reason why he’s already a two-time World champion,” I informed him, feeling a twinge of envy in my dark soul.
“Oh don’t worry, I think the only guy who’s at risk of being underestimated in this match is me,” he admitted.
“With that said, he can be reckless. His energy and passion can lead him to get over excited and caught up in the moment. He feeds off the crowd and that momentary loss of focus is a small window of opportunity for us to take advantage. Both of them have been unstoppable up to now, but they make mistakes. We need to be patient and wait for those mistakes to come.”
“Got it!” he replied, with a confident nod. He puffed out his cheeks, the tactic talks clearly getting him amped up. “I can’t believe you’re gonna compete in two championship matches on the same night. That’s wild,” he laughed.
I found myself narrowing my eyes and reading between the lines.
“You think I’m making a mistake?” I asked, cocking my head inquisitively.
“No, not at all. I admire you for it. I have every confidence that you can boss both of these matches.”
He was either lying or held me in such high esteem that I was becoming some kind of immortal figure to him. Truth was that competing in two matches had me nervous. How could it not?
“I imagine that the matches will be spaced far enough apart that I will be given ample rest between matches. With any luck this Tag title match will be the opener. I’m less likely to agitate my knee, whereas if we kick off with the LSD championship match we both know Arthur Pleasant is going to look to mutilate my knee as much as he can.”
And there it was. The look of concern reared its head in Adam’s face and it was as broad as daylight.
“If that happens then your role in the tag match becomes even more crucial. This could be a key factor but we won’t know until the night what order the matches are. So all we can do is have some contingency plans in place. But no matter what happens, I’m leaving with both belts,” I continued, with absolute certainty.
His smile lit up the room. I could see myself as a younger man sitting opposite me. He was about to get his first taste of winning a championship. Once he got that the hunger would never leave him. Getting him those tag belts was vitally important.
“Okay, go get your shit together. We’ll head to Milwaukee once I’m done here. I got an answer to give Mr Pleasant,” I suggested, waving him off with my hand.
He nodded affirmatively and stood up to leave. As he approached the door I could feel the guilt beginning to bubble in the pit of my stomach.
“Adam?” I called.
“Yeah?” he innocently replied, turning to face me.
“You know that anything I do is for the good of the team, right? And for the good of you?”
His eyes narrowed as he smiled pleasantly with a look of confusion.
With that he left through my office door and closed it quietly behind him.
“What have I done?”
The night before…
With Adam away the Gold Standard had found a rare opportunity to relax and unwind. Problem was he didn’t know what to do with it, so he decided to head into town and watch a game at a sports bar.
The smell of beer almost turned his stomach as he walked through the doors. It had been such a long time since he had taken a drink that he found himself no longer enjoying the vibrant aromas that an establishment like this emitted.
The bar was hundreds of conversations told in loud voices, all of them competing with the rock music that dominated the atmosphere. The crowd was young, students from the university for the most part. Sektor wound his way through the warm bodies to order a drink – a clean drink.
“Lime and soda, por favor,” he asked, propping his elbow on the bar and turning to look up at one of the many tv screens.
Miami Heat were playing Timberwolves and half time had just been called. Sektors home team were up by 12 points which brought a brief smile to the LSD champions face. In his peripheral vision he notices a rather tall female positioning herself at the bar next to him as he receives his drink.
“Gimme another G & T. Double,” slurred the inebriated voice of the woman to his left.
Sektor turned inquisitively to the woman and began to study her physique. She was indeed tall, a good couple of inches taller than he was but she was wearing heels. However her figure was athletic and her blonde hair complimented her beautiful facial features. She was clearly well on her way to being shit-faced.
She looked intriguingly familiar to him, but he couldn’t place her face.
“Do I know you?” he asked, narrowing his eyes to study her closely.
Her droopy eyes took a second to focus as she swung her head in Sektor’s direction.
“You’ve probably seen my pictures floating around the internet. Everyone has,” she informed him, looking a little dejected by the admission.
“You a porn star?” he asked, looking excited.
She laughed as she grabbed her drink and took a big sip from a straw.
“Might as well be.”
She extended a delicate hand which he took into his. “Victoria,” she announced, formally introducing herself.
“John,” he replied, turning his head to the bartender. “I’ll get this.”
She smirked as she recognised the gesture as to be a classic pick up move. Buy a girl her drinks.
She was vulnerable and Sektor could smell it a mile off. He preyed on women like this.
“So what’s your story, Victoria,” he asked, taking a drink from his lime and soda.
“Eh, I’ve had a shit couple of weeks. Was supposed to be meeting a girlfriend of mine but looks like she’s a no show. Guess I’ll just get shit faced on my own and make some bad decisions,” she explained, her body language screaming with woe.
“Well, if it’s bad decisions you’re looking for,” he began, offering her a confident smirk. “You’ve come to the right guy.”
She rolled her eyes but smiled playfully. Sektor could tell that she was interested. She probably wouldn’t look at him twice if she was sober, but she was in a reckless mood and Sektor knew he looked like the bad guy she was looking for to bang her troubles away. She would hate herself in the morning, but Sektor didn’t care about that. It had been a hard minute.
“Listen, you look like you need to have some fun,” Sektor began, making his move. “What say we jump in a cab and hit a casino?”
The idea seemed to intrigue her as she paused for thought.
“I’m dead ass broke,” she admitted.
“Not a problem,” smirked the champion.
She considered it for a moment, likely considering where the night would eventually lead her to if she came with him.
“Sure, why not?”
“Excelente,” he excitedly replied, slapping his hands together.
“Let me go powder my nose and I’ll be right back.”
Sektor saluted her as she headed to the bathroom and as he watched her walk he found himself racking his brain once again to place her.
The tall stature.?
The athletic figure?
The blonde hair?
That’s when the penny dropped and he put all the pieces together. This wasn’t just a random drunk girl he had found in a bar. It was Victoria McGill!