Snow Angels on a Car
Having successfully defended his HOTV championship, once again, Sektor found himself flat out on the hood of some poor bastard’s car in the Charleston Civi Center parking lot. The aluminium hood was now moulded around his body like he’d been making snow angels. It was the second week in a row he had endered night being laid out and banged up.
His eyes slowly began to blink open, staring up at the dull lights that hung high above in the underground. He was becoming used to viewing the world through a blurred lens and having to solve the mystery of what happened. He tried to lift his head but was greeted by sharp pains flying up and down his spinal column, accompanied by the dull thud of a headache. He allowed it to drop, sounding out a light thud on the already ruined paintwork.
It was like awakening from a dream only he knew was real and quickly the events that lead to his current position came flooding back. He remembered being hit hard and hit twice, staring up at younger Chris Kostoff, who was of course his son Zach. His final words played back to him:
“See ya next week mother fucker..”
He remembered everything up to being bombed down before the lights finally went out. A sarcastic smirk spread across his face as he began to chuckle ironically, grimacing as the laughter caused pain in his lower back and abdomen.
“..(sigh)..Guess I asked for that..” he groaned.
Sektor lived and died by the sword and new all actions had a reaction and often dire consequences. Lying on the hood of a car, crippled with pain was one consequence. Another, more troubling, consequence was that he would now have to compete for the fourth week in a row with injuries stacking on top of one another.
When you poker a bear there are consequences.
When you’re a champion, you just have to face up to them and find a way to overcome them. That’s all you can do.
He will find a way.
A Bucket of Ice
“The fuck are you laughing at?”
Sektor growled his words in the direction of Simon (his sports physio/personal trainer) who was cupping a hand over his mouth to try and conceal his laughter. The champion was a pathetic sight to behold, hobbling slowly and painfully across the patio in Lee’s garden. Every muscle and bone in his body hurt and every movement sent his pain receptors into over time.
“Sorry buddy,” Simon apologised, still struggling to keep a straight face. “But you look like John Wayne after he’s shit himself!”
Even Sektor couldn’t help but chuckle at that remark, which caused even more pain as he clutched at his stomach and grimaced.
“..don’t make me laugh!”
Sektor continued to hobble over to him as Simon hailed his hands apologetically. The sun was shining but was wasn’t warmth awaiting the Gold Standard. Instead, a 105 gallon barrel filled to the brim with ice and water. He showed no fear as he approached the barrel, having been sat in plenty of ice baths and cryotherapy chambers throughout his life. He always started his days with an cold shower, tightening up the cardiovascular system through the release of noradrenaline, adrenaline and epinephrine, as well as dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin.
“He really did a number on ya, huh?” Simon asked, making small talk by stating the obvious.
Sektor flickered his eyebrows as he rested on the rim of the barrel.
“He got guts, I’ll give him that,” he huffed as he began to climb a ladder at the side of the barrel.
“..or just as insane as his Daddy?”
Sektor smirked, feeling a wave of nostalgia as he thought about Chris Kostoff, one of the true classics from a Golden era of professional wrestling.
“If that were true then I wouldn’t be still standing right now,” he admitted.
Sektor proceeded to do his breathing routine, taking in full lungs of air and breathing it out in a continuous motion without pause. The science behind it was to turn his blood rich with oxygen and to make it alkali, meaning that his tissues and organs could survive in the extreme cold for longer, giving his body optimum time to reap the benefits that it had to offer.
Simon didn’t say a word, not wanting to break Sektor’s breathing or concentration, and so occupied himself by preparing a protein shake for his client. Sektor remained focussed on his breathing, trying to empty his mind as it became woozy from the overdose of oxygen and lack of carbon dioxide. He struggled, all the while thinking about his former protege..
The only person he should be thinking about now was Zach Kostoff. The young rookie who almost broke him in half on the hood of a car. Yet, it was his former apprentice who haunted him.
After several minutes he stopped breathing and hovered a foot over the side of the ice barrel. Slowly, he lowered himself in, submerging his entire body up to his neck in the ice water. The cold should have been a shock, like a thousand knives plunging into his body all at once, except it wasn’t like that. He had prepared his body adequately and was relaxed and enjoying the sensation of the extreme cold numbing his pain receptors. That was the first time in over a week that he had felt some form of relief. A smile slowly crept across his face.
“Feel good?” Simon asked, noticing his smile.
Sektor merely nodded, enjoying the tranquillity that his mind was finally giving him.
“Hopefully after a few days of this we can start some light training. Get you loosened up for the match with Kostoff,” Simon suggested, although sounding more hopeful than anything else.
“Hah! Ironic isn’t it?” Sektor asked, opening one eye to look at Simon. “Last week I was complaining because I wasn’t allowed to train. Now? Now I can’t, even if I wanted to.” he laughed, having always been a fan of bitter irony.
“You’ve certainly been through the ringer lately, bud.”
Sektor smirked, not just because it was true, but because he was also proud of it.
“Your body is in desperate need of a rest, champ! I know you’re tough, but we both know your limitations. You can’t keep going through this week after week. Something has to give,” Simon warned, showing genuine empathy and concern towards his client.
“Eh,” he groaned. “I have been informed that I will be given a week off after this next title defence. Win or lose..”
“Well that’s something? Right?” Simon asked.
Sektor shifted slightly in the ice, not looking convinced by Simon’s enthusiasm for the week off.
“I dunno. Part of me wants to keep going, you know?”
Simon frowned, feeling a contradiction to everything Sektor had been projecting up to this point.
“You need time to recover, John. Your body is fucked, never mind your head which is clearly concussed.”
“I know. But this is the first time in a long time when I have actually felt at peace,” he explained, rather vaguely.
Simon couldn’t help but look confused.
“I’m sorry, I’m not following.”
“Never mind. You wouldn’t understand.”
He was referring to his inner struggles with confidence. Competing week after week had distracted him from the deep, dark pockets of his own mind and kept him focussed on the job in hand. He had no time to wallow in self pity and loathing and could just be what he was always meant to be.
“Ok, well let’s just hope you get through this next match in one piece and come out with the dub,” Simon eventually replied.
“You know, the ring is no different from this bucket of ice,” he began to explain. “Once I’m in it? I don’t feel a thing. Not until it’s over.”
“That’s the dopamine talking.”
“Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just the only place where I belong,” he continued, looking out over the gardens and grounds that don’t belong to him.
Simon finished shaking the shake he was preparing and placed it down on a table, listening intently. It was a rare moment to hear the Gold Standard talk so openly.
“I tried to retire. I tried to walk away and do normal things. I tried playing golf. I tried travelling the world. There was a time when I believed that every wrestler, every fighter, knows when it’s time to call it day. Most leave it too long. Maybe I am? Even when I returned I tried to compete on a limited schedule. But the goading from Townsend and others really got to me, because deep down I am just as much a fighter as they are. I think about Chris Kostoff, until only a couple of years ago he was still competing. Losing almost every match but he kept fighting and fighting. I asked myself why. Why would you put yourself through this, Chris? But now I know why..”
Sektor’s eyes appeared solemn, as he realised his own hopeless fate inside a barrel of icy water.
“It’s because it’s all he knows. That’s all I know. It’s the only thing that brings me any shred of happiness. Without wrestling I am dead inside.”
Sektor watched Simon wearily as he tried to sneakily check his temperature with a lazer thermometer.
“I’m not out of my mind, Simon.”
“I’m not saying you are, bud,” he replied, seemingly satisfied by the results on his gadget. “But what are you saying?”
Sektor paused, taking a deep breath, as much as the ice would allow him to move his chest.
“I am saying that I guess I will keep fighting. I will keep fighting until my body will not longer allow me to. But as long as I can walk upright I will put my body on the line and fight each and every match as though it is my last.”
Simon half smiled and nodded respectfully.
“I love a good Story, Simon. But there’s only one way the tale of the Gold Standard is going to end..”
“Oh yeah? How?”
“…in a blaze of fucking glory!”