War is set upon men who are prepared to do anything it takes to attain victory.
Men who will not hesitate to inflict unmitigated violence upon one another.
Men who will not shy away from painting the canvas with the blood of their enemies.
With that said, there are three important rules to live by when charging ahead into battle.
Fail to deliver on any of them? You won’t just lose, but you’ll break completely. Maybe even be forgotten.
Today, we look at the first one.
The “Rule of Surrender”.
Obviously, this match is in your wheelhouse. I know that. I understand this. I… made the fucking challenge, after all.
The betting lines of HOG are clearly favoring you. If I didn’t really know what I was capable of? I’d probably throw a C-Note or two down on you as well.
But that’s the thing about information, John. And ignorance.
I know what I’m capable of.
But do you?
Obviously not or the idle threats you made the last time you flapped your gums in my direction would’ve been more carefully chosen. You wouldn’t have so carelessly taken me lightly and shot your shots so blindly.
You said it the last time we went face to face. I, Arthur Pleasant, have only had a handful of singles matches in HOW.
How can one gauge another’s talents based solely on the matches they’ve seen?
That’s easy when a mere ripple effect can make waves across an ocean.
You wrote me off as a mere number, and I nearly killed you. Trust when I say that I’m willing to do it again if necessary. Win, lose, or another fucking draw. You go for that Sektor Stretch on me again? I’ll have an answer for it you will. not. like.
So it begs another series of questions: how did a man with only a handful of matches under his belt force you, the greatest technical wrestler in all of HOW, to a fucking draw?
How did a man who said I’d eat every word I said about him and the legends that came before him… fail in delivering on all of that?
Information… and ignorance.
It can help you, or it can destroy you.
With you? I’m going to do anything and everything I can to make sure it’s the latter.
COMMUNITY #37 APARTMENTS
The line trills after I press the green call button on the finger-print riddled touchscreen display of my iPhone. I can feel the anger build from the other side of the call attempt as he sees my name pop up. Or perhaps a familiar-looking zip code that he’ll eventually figure out to be mine. All of this assuming, of course, he deleted me from his list of contacts like I imagined he would.
Can’t say I blame him too much for trying to cut ties with me. Considering what I did to one of his prospects the last time I crashed his training center, I’d say I got off pretty easily. Especially knowing what he’s entirely capable of all too well.
Fathers rarely have the same sense of humor as their sons do. Hell, since I’ve been in High Octane Wrestling, I’ve seen many examples of this between Lee and Michael, too.
“Your call has been forwarded to the voicemail for-“ an awkward pause followed by someone’s actual voice, ”Eryk”, which then pauses and transitions back to the universally known stock female voice, “No one is available to take your call. At the tone, please record your message. When you’ve finished recording, you may hang up or press the pound key for more options.”
“Pick up, Dad. Don’t be a salty old man. Let’s talk.”, I calmly say into the phone before hitting the red ‘END CALL’ button.
It seems that my father, Eryk Van Warren, is still upset with me for causing a scene over at ‘Champ’s Legacy’. Oh well. There goes Plan A.
In a lot of ways, John Sektor and my father have a lot in common. Both men have had successful, legendary careers that have spanned the globe over multiple decades. Both are very proud men for the success they’ve each had. Former World Champions. Former Tag Team Champions. Former champions of all kinds of speciality divisions. Hall of Famers. The similarities are uncanny.
If only Eryk Van Warren was Cuban and not of Dutch descent, I’d probably have some major questions for them both.
I stare at the wall inside the bedroom of my apartment. Specifically, at a crack in the foundation. Being on the first floor, I could see the structure settling just a bit more every year. What started as a crack in the corner has now traveled up to the ceiling. Before long, unless my landlord finally invests the proper amount of funds into a fully functional remodel of the entire apartment complex, those cracks would cause everything to collapse.
I can’t help but draw another parallel to my opponent for March To Glory. Our first match was the first crack in the Machine’s foundation, and before long, it would spread everywhere. Like fucking wildfire.
His time, not only as LSD Champion, but as a professional wrestler altogether, is quickly collapsing. Whether he knows it or not.
The line trills again. After a moment, the voice mail prompt picks up again.
Rather than leave a message, I simply hang up. No point in leaving a message that’s just going to go unheard.
Snapping out of my reverie, I lay my shirtless upper torso onto the bare, grimy mattress. “What to do, what to do.” I silently ask myself. I could try to contact my younger Uncle Mike (I know. It still confuses me, too.) but he was a little too hot-headed to make family reparations with. That and the young stud is probably too busy competing in some bullshit, upstart fucking academy for whatever insignificant company that would have him because of his last name. Hope he realizes that none of it matters, not even his name, if he ever grows a fucking set and makes it up to the big time here in HOW.
Suddenly, AC/DC’s classic “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” plays on my vibrating phone. What can I say? He has a good theme.
Looking at the caller info, I can see, much to my shock, “Dad”.
Holy shit. He actually wants to speak to me?!
I press the green answer button and hold the phone to my ear.
“Hey. I didn’t think you’d call me back.”
“I know. What can I say, Pops? Sometimes I need to draw a little bit of blood from someone in order to make a point.”
“All I wanted to know was if you were available. I have a submission match at this upcoming PPV in HOW and I-”
“Oh, so you actually watch HOTv? So you know, then. Gotta say I’m pretty fucking surprised by that.”
“All I want is to borrow a couple hours of your time so I can learn a thing or two about submissions and shit.”
“Dead serious. How is a garbage hardcore fuck like me going to be prepared to battle a Submission Machine if I don’t at least try to prepare myself for his moveset?”
“That’s all I want, Pops. Swear to fucking God.”
I flip the phone away from my voice as I place the knuckles of my free hand into my mouth. It’s the only way I can stifle my laughter from the disingenuous conversation I’m currently having.
“Perfect. He’ll do. If he’s as good as you say he is, then I’ll take your word for it. Do we meet in Chicago or do I have to fly out to Vegas again or…?”
“Fantastic. Tell him I’ll see him there.”
I pull the phone away from my ear and press “END CALL” with my index finger.
I’m not one for quotes like my best friend Jeffrey is, but I just thought of one that seems very fitting for this moment.
“Announcin’ your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”
~ Al Swearengen, Deadwood
MARCH 16TH, 2022
THE HOUSE OF ALEXANDER
Later that day…
“Man, you dumb as FUUUUUCK for challenging Sektor to a submission match. He finna stretch you a million different ways, son!!” says Preston Alexander, the young upstart from my father’s training facility, ‘Champ’s Legacy’. He’s also the man whose ear I bit into several weeks back.
“I mean, we talkin’ like that scene from Suspiria, my dude. You know the one. Where that dumb white bitch pisses ‘erself from the way she gets twisted up from that other dumb voodoo white bitch or whoever the fuck she was? Musta rewound that shit ‘bout thirty times and each time I’m like YOOOOOOOOO..!!!”
Looking at his ear, I can’t help but laugh.
“Pretend for a moment, Presto, that I know what I’m doing. And what the fuck does finna mean?!” I reply, almost giddy at Preston’s disbelief.
Ignoring my question about ‘finna’, Preston laughs.
“I mean… do ya, though? Do ya really know what ya doin’?” he inquires, half-rhetorically, as he leans back with his eyes narrowing in skepticism. If his intentions are to annoy me to the point where I even out his earlobes, then he’s succeeding greatly.
“How’s the ear, Presto?” I ask, taking my finger and flicking precisely where the ear had been recently taped up after our last encounter.
“Eyyy! Ey, ey, EY! None of that shit now. Ya old man said you’d be on yo’ best behavior tonight. You feel me?”
Despite previously getting off on the wrong foot, Preston has been surprisingly willing to work with me on some submission sparring. I suppose I have my father to thank for that. Or perhaps Preston just comes from excellent stock.
Scarboro is an interesting little town. When I say little, though, it’s not meant to be taken figuratively. It’s actually a tiny town within Lee County, home to a diminutive population of about sixty or seventy blue-collared folk. Give or take a few bumpkins. It’s secluded inside a wealth of forestation, but also only an hour and a half from the city of Chicago.
This makes it an ideal place to train without having to run into anybody else from the HOW roster. So, being that Preston Alexander’s family is from Scarboro, my father set me up to meet him there during our last conversation on the phone.
The smell of manure chokes me. There must be a farm somewhere nearby because I’d recognize that scent anywhere after living in Virginia for a brief period of my life. Yep. That same smell emanates from somewhere nearby. Gotta love fresh cowplop in the country air.
“So, where are we going to do this?” I ask plainly.
“Got a set-up out back. Gotta warn ya though. It ain’t very forgivin’. Take ya Advil now.”
“But… you have a wrestling ring set-up, right?”
“If by wrestling ring ya mean four tree stumps, bale wire, and some thin blue mats I found in the dumpster behind the local gym, then yeah. Sure do.”
A sigh escapes my lips as I realize what exactly I’m in for.
Leading me through the house Preston grew up in, I wave awkwardly at his mom and dad sitting in the living room. I believe their names are Hank and Ethel. Or… was it Richard and Lenora? Fuck if I can remember, honestly. Preston introduced us hours ago, and we hadn’t interacted with one another beyond the simple nod.
After leading me through his home, we exit to the backyard via a sliding glass door with smudge prints all over it. Probably from pets and/or lively little grandchildren.
Within seconds, I realize that I have never seen anything like what I just encountered.
Four tree stumps.
Bale wire used for ring ropes.
Thin blue mats with rips, tears, and stuffing emerging from various sections of it. No wonder it was thrown out by the local gym.
Holy fuck. This is gonna suck. HARD.
Regardless of the pain that lies ahead, though, I know for a fact I need this.
John Sektor’s going to come at me with everything he has.
He’s pissed off that his eighth title defense will haunt him for the rest of his days.
He’s mentally wounded that a brash, young, out-of-his-gourd competitor like me would have the audacity to challenge him and the comfort zone he lives in.
“So where do you want to start, AP?” asks Preston. I chuckle at this as the vivid images of being locked in the Sektor Stretch flash across my eyes.
“How are you with dragon sleepers?”
“Pretty good. I mean, that ain’t my move per se, but I know for a fact they be hella dangerous and nearly impossible to escape. Why?”
I smile, clasping my hands together as I roll my wrists. They crackle and pop as I then roll my shoulders, further loosening up my muscles and conditioning myself for some severe joint pain.
“Rule of surrender, Presto. It’s time to get acquainted with it.”
The Lightweight Superstar Division.
The Lee Superstar Division.
The Lee & Sektor Division.
Whatever you want to call it? I don’t give a flying luchadore FUCK what the acronym stands for. What I give a fuck about is the meaning of this title. The prestige of this title. The legitimacy of this title.
Ever since I came back, and before I even left, to be honest, I’ve looked at that championship and frothed at the mouth over the idea of getting a shot at it.
Now? Not only am frothing at the mouth over this opportunity to become a household name in High Octane Wrestling, but I’m prepared to fucking kill for it. Even if it means I’m sharing a cell with Jeffrey James Roberts from here on out. Which, in all actuality, is not such a bad thing the more I think about it.
Because what you’ve done to that championship, John Sektor? It’s unforgivable.
You have all but killed one of, if not THE, most important championships in HOW history.
People have nearly died competing for that belt.
Someone was literally thrown overboard on the U.S.S. Octane in an effort to capture it.
Max Kael, a legend amongst legends–someone I looked up to before I ever arrived here—shaved years off of his life (had it not been ended like it did) to make that title the most sought after championship in the entire company. And if it bothers you that I continue to mention the name of a man I respect in HOW’s history? You’re welcome to throw another hissy fit over it, because I just don’t give a fuck.
Then you submit Teddy Palmer and suddenly it’s all about you?!
The heritage of that title… gone after a five-minute backstage interview with Blaire Moise, telling everyone who came before him to fuck off because he’s better than what the LSD championship represented up until that point. Right? You fucking know I am, shithead.
Fuck Jace. Fuck Max. Fuck Witness. Fuck ‘em all ‘cause John Sektor, sniff-fucking-sniff, misses the ICON Championship so badly that he’s ready to play “Let’s pretend!” in the land of make believe and defile the dignity of the LSD Championship in the process. Right?
When you tried to assuage the fears of the “cult fans” of the LSD Title, you never even intended to honor your very own hollowed out words.
You… ugh… you literally make me fucking sick. You and every hypocritical word that comes out of your lying, stupid fucking mouth.
John Sektor’s the LSD Champion now and he needs to be relevant again. He needs something tangible to sink his claws into in order to stay fucking afloat here. It’s a new era!
That’s not me making shit up for a fucking promo, man. That’s not me stirring the pot like Mike Best does when he wants someone to get so mad they go blog-for-blog against him. I mean, you can if you want to, but that’s on you for how ridiculous and third rate you’ll look.
See, you literally said that shit to a HOW audience. In front of thousands. In front of millions, even. Maybe you didn’t say it in those exact words, but your exact words mean the same fucking thing as mine. What you did was change the narrative of something that needn’t be changed. You just poured a vat of fucking acid over the entire meaning of that championship.
You bet your fucking hairy, flower-print shirt wearing ass I can see right through you, you selfish motherless fuck.
You wanna know the real fucking reason no one’s challenging you for that championship, Machine? Why no one’s ‘stepping up’? Here’s a hint: it ain’t ‘cause you’re this unbeatable, unstoppable entity. Nah, Mr. Fucking Tapout. You’re an amazing technician and deserve that Hall of Fame ring, absolutely. But you’re just as fucking beatable as the next guy. It just so happens you’re on a massive roll of momentum that’s manifested itself after you vomited out this glorified amateur wrestling bullshit to the world.
Just because the ICON Championship isn’t around anymore, you felt the need to recreate it in the LSD’s image, supplanting the picture pressed on its faceplate because you need to venture onward with some kind of self-discovering, spiritual journey.
What a piece of shit move you sackless, Mr. Potato Head looking bitch.
It’s a fucking disgrace, honestly. As much shit Jatt takes around here every time he laces up his boots, at least HE had the cojones to risk his life and take on Lindsay Troy in a scaffold match… and actually win. Then he stepped up again after he won the title and defended it under falls-count-anywhere rules. Now that’s a man who bleeds LSD.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but… Jatt Starr is more of a man than John Sektor could ever hope to be. You’d think the world would’ve finally seen that in the 97-Minute Iron Man Match you two fuckheads had, but… nope.
You? You’re just… gonna bleed. All over the ring. All over our bodies. ‘Cause you holding that title is akin to silencing a room full of laughter after telling a bad fucking joke. Only the bad fucking joke is you, and everybody will point and fucking laugh at you when I make you eat your own words in this ‘submission’ match.
All these challengers who “aren’t stepping up” can see through your veil of jaded bullshit. They see, like I see, a talented mat technician having a mid-life crisis, believing he should tailor a title to suit his style just because he’s unable to adapt to the world around him.
You’re scared, John. But not of me, obviously. No. You fear what I will reveal to the world when I beat you at your own game. Honestly, it’s a damn shame nobody else has been able to see what I see and done enough of their own research on you, or that title, to expose you for the fucking fraudulent lying dickhead you are. Maybe we’d have already seen a new LSD Champion crowned a long time ago if that were the case. Who knows? Hindsight and shit.
Lucky for me, I’m not some insipid fucking jag-off chasing after something I don’t understand or can’t fully comprehend. That would be stupid. And fucking lazy. Like pretty much every person on that goddamn timeline who has ever challenged you for it under “normal wrestling rules”, John-o.
Fact is, as good in the ring as you are; and believe me when I say that I cast no aspersions on how good of a wrestler you actually are, you’re just as culpable for the injustice bestowed upon that championship as everyone else is. Maybe even more so.
And that’s why I have you.
Right… where… I fucking… want you.
Dead to fucking rights.
You, John Sektor, HOW’s Last Bastion of Technical Brilliance (you can have that one for free) come full circle at March To Glory. ‘Cause the first championship you ever held in High Octane Wrestling?
Will be the last championship you ever hold.
Then the true metamorphosis of the LSD Championship can begin.
Under a new era.
A very… PLEASANT… era.
Now go do what you do best and quote me word for word again like the monotonous, uninspired, robot cunt that you are.