War adversely affects its soldiers and civilians alike.
Physically, the obvious impact of such can be seen within a soldier’s stature. Those who were once standing tall with pride can no longer do so with excruciating back and leg pain inhibiting their physical stance.
A man like John Sektor has already begun showing the signs of physical limitations long before the predictable war-cry into battle even takes place. The constant reminder of his own mortality through the limitations of his knee(s) and back, along with other concealed damages to his physical well-being, imparts a large dose of validity to this and poses it more as fact than it does theory.
In fact, through the events that have led up to the very precipice of the war we both stand on, I could feel the struggles of John Sektor as he climbed down behind my back and placed me in that dragon sleeper. Perhaps if I didn’t catch that wince in his eyes when he landed on that bum knee, I wouldn’t have given another thought to it. But that the Sektor Stretch, his most valued maneuver in a repertoire of thousands, didn’t put me away like it has all the others who came and challenged before me? I can’t help but wonder if Sektor is attempting to deceive us all.
The evidence is insurmountable.
Then there’s the back. Oh boy. I could just feel it tense up throughout the match. He used every muscle in his body to subdue me, and every time he did this there was a slight shutter, an involuntary twitch if you will, that revealed yet another weakness to me.
Though I could’ve possibly fought the sleeper hold a bit more, why risk a loss to this technical wonder when I knew his back wouldn’t be able to hold up much longer?
His mistake was not letting go. Both physically and figuratively. The higher I raised myself with him on my back, the more I felt that twitching in his. Every nerve-ending in his lower lumbar revealed, with a soft little whimper, of the next move I needed to make.
Risky to us both, but absolutely necessary.
And that’s why I jumped backwards, throwing caution to the wind, and thumped us both onto the outside mat. Splat. Fuck, that hurt. But my pain aside, I saw the agony in John Sektor’s entire false pretense. I saw the lies behind this thin veneer of old school toughness. Even with the #97Red mask that continued to pour down over my eyes.
That’s when I knew.
That’s when I knew Sektor was not the man he said he was.
He was… something more.
To be able to come at me like he did with all of the injuries he’s collected over the years like so many nickels and dimes, he was still absolutely great. I’d be a fool not to recognize that, as much as I can’t stand what he represents with the LSD Championship.
John Sektor is a greater competitor than most of the people in HOW, to be honest. Even the World Champion, dare I say.
But he was not as good as me. Not on that day.
Not on any day.
He could not dissect me in real time like I could him. If he had? Maybe there would’ve been a different outcome… twenty-years earlier, sure, but a different outcome indeed.
Nothing changes that. Not one match. Not one-hundred matches.
That’s the physical result of war for some people.
Psychologically, war can take just as much of a toll. People, again like John Sektor, have a tendency to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. A dangerous mental health condition that affects its sufferers in a variety of ways. Being that we are in High Octane Wrestling, an athletic organization that thrives on violence and the inherent macabre from the actions that facilitate it, it should go without saying that this is not a new term for any of us. Both fresh faces and seasoned ones alike.
The death of Maxamillian Wilhelm Kael after his war with Michael Lee Best has impacted viewers and roster members alike since the aforementioned events transpired. There’s a reason Max’s name has come up in every one of my promos for John Sektor, and it’s not (just) to get under my opponent’s skin by having to hear it from a relatively new name to the promotion. Though, clearly, it’s obvious I have. Every time I say Max’s name, Sektor reacts as expected. Like a patellar reflex test, only my words are the orange triangular hammer.
Hypervigilance seems to be a symptom John Sektor suffers. As evident by the manner in which he falls to the floor every time he hears my words and reacts to them as if a bomb just went off. But, then again, maybe there’s actually something to that? Yes. Yes, perhaps there is.
Depression is another well-documented symptom. I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that John Sektor could set the Gold Standard for this by the way he may react upon losing a loved one; in his case, the LSD Championship. Or by exhibiting an intensity to the trauma after feeling a lack of control to the event in question; which, in his case, will be losing his prized possession after I render him unconscious in a match that, on the surface, demands someone audibly expressing a desire to give up.
Having no control in one’s destiny often leads to psychotic breaks or events indicative of such trauma. John Sektor is not immune to this by any stretch of the imagination, and the moment he recovers from unconsciousness and realizes I have acquired the title he has held so dear for so long, I expect we will see this change imminently.
Having a lack of support after the event? Not heralded as a hero after being vanquished by a villain who stood in the way of everything he represented for six months? This could also be a catalyst in what is often described as a triggering point.
I pity John Sektor for this.
The better a person is in that ring, and as a human being outside of it, the more prone they are to a monumental collapse. With that said, Sektor has all the signs that indicate someone about to be broken–both physically and psychologically, by the entrenchment of war.
Let’s not dwell on the maybe’s and could be’s, though. We’ll save that for the report after March To Glory, when we talk about what coping mechanisms are instrumental to the grieving process of loss.
As I have said two times prior, there are three important rules to live by when charging ahead into battle.
We’ve looked at the rule of surrender. For which Sektor has miscalculated and misunderstood completely.
We’ve deeply analyzed the rule of survival; for which Sektor has finally seen with his own two eyes how willing I am to do whatever it takes to ensure my own. By his own admission, Sektor now understands fully how completely focused and determined I am to end his historic reign. Being frightened by this is only natural, as so many others before him have felt, and countless more after him will ultimately discover.
Today? We look at the third and final rule when ready to maim and murder one’s way to victory for gold and glory.
The Rule of Subversion.
For in every war, we must subvert the oppressive and undermining enemy with the unexpected and unforeseen rise to power.
Every historic regime, one way or another, embraces its end of days.
Or woe betide its unnatural descent into wrath and ruin.
A REALLY SHITTY LOOKING GYM
Wrigley Field. I’ve wanted to visit one of Chicago’s biggest and oldest landmarks for years, but I could never find the right opportunity to do it. Traveling the world over, I’ve visited just about every NFL, NHL, and MLB stadium, rink, and field known to man. In fact, throughout the last decade or so, I’ve made it a point to visit one. So seeing Wrigley Field — and perhaps training in it — would be my white whale, sorta speak.
Well, that white whale still fucking eludes me because Arliss Peters is a fucking moron.
Instead of brushing my hand across the Ivy-covered outfield walls or spreading my toes across the coarse turfgrass before throwing a roundhouse kick to my training partner, I’m stuck in a fucking dingy ass gym with yellowish walls stained from years of chain-smoking. This place might not even have a shower room. Fucking disgusting.
Despite Arliss Peters being an incompetent, I couldn’t possibly be happier. Because in front of me is the Muay-Thai Kru legend who has taught me everything I know about the art of the eight limbs, Chai Son Nguyen.
Chai Son, who speaks fluent English from commuting between Thai-Land and the United States for the last three decades, has been setting up mats and an elevated platform with four metal legs for the last several hours. I’ve tried to lend a hand, but every time I’ve made the attempt, Chai Son has slapped my hand away rather viciously.
This one-hundred and forty-five pound martial arts master might be the only person in the entire world whose throat I wouldn’t slit for slapping my hand or turning me away like that. Even my best friend, Jeffrey, wouldn’t get away with such disrespect.
“No one sets up my mats. NO ONE!” shouts Chai Son as he continues setting up the raised platform.
“Yeah, that’s fine. Whatever. What the fuck is that for anyway?!” I say, motioning toward the strange metal grate.
“You have your steel steps in your wrestlefites. This is to replicate that.” Chai Son says in his quick-paced dialect.
Nodding, I lean against the wall of the gym, probably contracting some incurable disease. As time goes on, Chai Son eventually finishes setting everything up. After changing into the same fight shorts that I wore when I fucked up Preston Alexander’s face a few days prior, I jog in place for a moment. Chai Son shakes his head.
“You look ridiculous.” he says.
“I feel ridiculous.” I say in agreement.
Chai Son kicks the metal grate a few times, assuring its stability.
“How you want to train?”
“Well, Chai Son, I think we should-”
Chai Son immediately hits a cross elbow to the right part of my jaw. Jesus FUCKING Christ. My eyes immediately well up in their sockets involuntarily after that wicked, unexpected shot. If that isn’t enough, my ears ring so loudly that any audible words being hurled in my direction are to be sure go unheard for the foreseeable future.
Thankfully, after only a few moments, the ringing subsides and I can hear clearly.
“You will address me as Mr. Nguyen.” my Kru says.
“Yes, Mr. Nguyen.” I address him properly, as asked. Didn’t need another goddamn shot like that before March To Glory, that’s for sure.
Chai Son nods his head in satisfaction.
“Mr. Nguyen, I’d like to learn how to counter a move. A deadly move. Probably the deadliest move I’ve ever seen in a professional wrestling ring, to be honest.” I admit, much to my chagrin.
Chai Son’s curiosity piques as he leans in intently.
With Sektor being the type of competitor to exploit weaknesses in his opponents, I can’t afford a moment wasted. I think about this for a few seconds before finally speaking.
“It’s called the Sektor Stretch. It’s a hyper-extended variation of the dragon sleeper where the pressure is implemented onto the lower back besides the obvious neck area. I’ve been able to escape this once before thanks to a knee giving in, but Sektor will be smarter, more focused, and in far better shape for this second match. Besides, the counter I have in mind with the Calamity Pain normally leads into a pinfall. With that in mind, I don’t want any wasted motion out there. So, Mr. Nguyen, if we can? I’d like to start there.”
Chai Son nods.“Very well.”
Quicker and more agile than I last remembered him being, Chai Son flies toward me with a military roll. I back up slightly, but Chai Son, the master Kru that he is, already has me by the waist. Climbing up onto my back, given the height difference being in my favor by about six-inches, he immediately places me in a dragon sleeper.
“AHHHHH! FUCK! AHHHH!”
Moving from side to side, I refuse to give Chai Son the edge by lowering myself to my knees. He applies more pressure onto me, hoping to get me to tap, but I simply groan in agony and lift my arms, trying to feel for a chin or an ear. Anything to help get me out of this predicament.
“Do you submit, Arthur?”
Struggling inside the dragon sleeper, I shout a vehement “NO!” at Chai Son. Soon, I feel my legs weakening.
However, instead of being beaten by this, I use the falling momentum to my advantage and roll backwards with great agility. Before I know it, I’m on top of Chai Son. To my dismay, he still has the hold applied. Now I’m punching at Chai Son’s ribs and chest, hoping to force him to release the hold.
I feel faint, though. Soon the oxygen cuts off from my brain as he tightens his grip.
In a last ditch effort, though, I sit back instead of digging into the mat. Suddenly, Chai Son’s grip loosens and I’m able to slip my head out of the hold.
“Fucking fuuuuck, Mr. Nguyen!”
“Did I not apply the hold correctly?” he says with a grin.
I can’t help but laugh, “No, you definitely applied it correctly. Maybe even better than my opponent. Jesus Christ, man.”
I roll my neck side to side, rubbing it with my right hand. Chai Son definitely put some torque into the hold that I did not expect. With John Sektor outweighing me by twenty-five pounds and Chai Son Nguyen by no less than ninety-five pounds, I need a stronger game plan to counter the Sektor Stretch. There’s no way I can hold Machine’s weight up for as long as I held Chai Son’s. It’s just not possible.
Maybe I didn’t need to, though. I already discovered that rolling back from my fall’s momentum put me on top of Sektor. So, assuming Sektor refuses to let go of it the same way Chai Son just did, I’ll know enough to sit down a lot sooner and put myself in a better position.
That’s when I realize what I can do to alter Chai Son’s (and John Sektor’s) plans.
“Let’s go again, Mr. Nguyen. Same move.”
“Very well.” he says before leaping at me again. This time I expect the quick go-behind waist lock. Just as I expected, Chai Son leaps up onto my back and applies the dragon sleeper.
Instead of holding him up like I had previously done, I simply fall backwards, using my momentum to carry myself on top of Chai Son again.
“Holy shit. It actually… worked?!” I think to myself, surprised deeply.
“Focus, now.” I also tell myself as I nearly forget the original game plan.
I immediately sit back, and when he holds onto the Sektor Stretch, my head pops out again. But instead of doing nothing with this advantageous position, I place my arms over his. Muscling him to the right, I flip forward on top of Chai Son with a brutal-looking cattle mutilation.
Instead of screaming out in pain, Chai Son’s much smaller stature allows him to slip through my grasp, turn around with me on top of him, and apply a sleeper hold.
The same type of sleeper hold that Sektor nearly put me away with during our last encounter.
Before I could kick my legs up, Chain Son grapevines both of my legs.
This son of a bitch just put me to sleep.
…FIVE MINUTES LATER…
The scent of smelling salts revives me. I choke from the acrid aroma of bleach or ammonia and shake my head, coughing to the side.
“Wake up, Arthur. This is no time for a nap.”
Shaking my head, I realize how I had just failed. But, surprisingly, not with the move I expected to fail in countering.
“It was the sleeper.”
Forgetting to say Mr. Nguyen nearly costs me another strike to the head, but I block it and add, “It was the sleeper, Mr. Nguyen!!”
Chai Son nods with more satisfaction than he did before; most likely because I could counter his strike and own my mistake straight away.
“Goddammit, I know what I need to do now. Let’s fucking GO. I lift you up into a fireman’s carry and you slip down behind me with a sleeper hold.”
I look at Chai Son, who looks unhappy that I did not follow up with the “Mr. Nguyen” he expected.
“Nah, nah, nah. Fuck this happy horseshit. You’re fucking John Sektor to me right now. A hundred and forty-five pound John Sektor. A mustache-less, quicker version of the motherfucking MACHINE!!”
Chai Son flies forward with a leg, attempting to kick me for my lack of respect, but I dodge out of the way. This fucker’s not playing around now.
Chai Son leaps at me, hoping to connect with a flying forearm, but I duck forward ever so slightly and catch him in the fireman’s carry I wanted in the first place.
Just as I need him to, he slips behind me into a sleeper hold.
Grabbing the back of his head with both hands, I drop to the mat hard, connecting with a brutal jawbreaker that actually causes my Kru to cry out for a moment in pain. Holding his chin, I leap forward at him and wrap my arm around his throat with a flying guillotine choke.
“Night fucking night, John.”
Chai Son flails with punches to my ribs, but I refuse to let go. Fuck that. I’m never letting go! Not until I hear a fucking bell sound and his body goes limp. Not even if the son of a bitch’s neck snaps in two and he dies before the referee, whomever it may be at bell-time, can recognize his unconsciousness.
I yell with rage as I pull upwards on the guillotine while grapevining him. To my surprise, Chai Son Nguyen is one strong bastard to be able to hold my two-hundred and twenty pound frame up this long.
But as impressive as that feat is, it doesn’t matter.
He falls to his knees, unconscious.
Unlike I intend to do at March to Glory, I release the guillotine.
Licking my lips at the sweet taste of victory, I smirk. Searching for the smelling salts, I grab a single package of them and fiercely rip it open. Then, kneeling down next to Chai Son, I grab his lifeless head, lift, and shove the smelling salts into his mouth.
“It’s Mr. Pleasant, by the way.” I say, laughing as I hop up onto the metal grating that my Kru had set up earlier. Looking at him, I tilt my head, wondering if I had held the guillotine a little too long.
Seconds go by… and nothing.“Shit…” I say, wondering if I had killed him.
Suddenly, Chai Son lifts his head. He gags and coughs at the bag of smelling salts I inserted into his mouth.
“Oh, goody.” I say, with a tinge of disappointment in my voice.
“I wonder if John will be so lucky?” I say menacingly.
I know what it’s gonna take to beat you, John.
So you’re goddamned right to be scared.
You may not want to admit it, and will most likely vehemently deny it given that you’re a much larger man than the person I discovered it with, but that doesn’t matter to me in the slightest. Because I’ve finally figured it out. Took some lumps and bumps, but I’ve put the pieces together and solved the great puzzle of John Sektor.
Now? It’s time to subvert the narrative and choke the Machine, the Gold Standard, Technical Tyrant, and the motherfucking LSD Champion the fuck OUT.
It’s going to take me wrapping my hands around your neck and not letting go.
It’s going to take choking the life out of your fucking body until the official deems you incapacitated.
I don’t even care if it looks like you’re asleep, John.
I’m not letting go.
You can fucking die in that ring for all I care and be the martyr for a division that only exists in your CTE-addled brain.
Once I have you in that guillotine?
I’m NOT. LETTING. GO.
You can watch hours upon hours of tape and look to neutralize every move in my playbook if you’d like.
You can try to set the pace of the match so that I follow your lead until it brings me to my fucking doom.
You can slowly pick me apart and work some holds, targeting areas on my body that no one else would’ve thought to target.
You can display the most aggressive chops, punches, kicks, suplexes, and stretch plums you fucking want to, John.
You can tell me to fuck off and call me ‘just like the rest’ and all the usual bullshit you tell everyone.
You can point out to me, like you have in the past and to anybody that’ll clap at this achievement, how you haven’t lost a match since War Games 2021.
‘Cause through all of it? In the end, MACHINE, you’re just that. A fucking machine… and you’re all out of the oil you need to run properly. In fact, you’ve been leaking it all over the ground since our last match.
Machines? As great and useful as they are, they eventually malfunction. They eventually… break.
They are eventually UNMADE for spare fucking parts.
By turning every screw, removing every bolt, and welding through every solid corner of a machine’s frame, it can be reduced to an unrecognizable wreckage.
That is your fate, John. Being UNMADE in front of the world live on Pay-Per-View.
When the pieces scatter and that bell finally rings? I’m going to pick up every part I broke, place them in a garbage bag, wrap it up in chains, and toss it into motherfucking Lake Michigan.
All of them, John. Every fucking piece.
Except for one.
That piece is going to be raised high into the air as the words you never thought you’d ever hear finally come to fruition and echo out across the Best Arena:
“AND NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW LSD CHAMPION…”
You won’t believe it once you regain consciousness. You can’t believe it. It’s like… it’s like some waking fucking nightmare you just want to end.
But you’ll have to believe it, John.
‘Cause at March to Glory?
The glory that awaits?
It’s all fucking MINE.