Wednesday, January 15
EFK Martial Arts
“Hey, I really appreciate you flying in for this.”
Alex Creed, once known professionally as “The Mecca,” and forever known as FWO superstar “Kodiak” Vic Creed’s offspring, gave his friend and boss a crooked grin while putting a kick protector on one forearm and a punch mitt on the other.
“You make the call, and I’m there. Besides, it’s been awhile since we went toe-to-toe.”
Once a highly accomplished wrestler and MMA fighter, Alex saw his professional career end on a low note after his last four fights ended in losses. But no matter. Alex always had a home at DP’s, and once he officially retired, Lindsay asked him to take on head trainer responsibilities at the dojo’s San Diego location, not far from her and Tyler Rayne’s beach house. Well, Rayne’s beach house. Troy married into it.
But a job so close to home? Sign him right up.
For the last five years, he’s passed on the knowledge he learned from Lindsay and her uncle to SoCal’s most wide-eyed and impressionable. At least every other month, sometimes every month, and even during her most hectic travel times, the Queen would fly in to check up on things in person. Weekly phone calls were always on the calendar. When he was first breaking into the business, Alex had been guarded. Having a sociopath for a father whose true intentions could never be discerned made him that way. But he immediately took a liking to Lindsay, and she in turn to him. He considered her the sister that he never had, and her uncle a surrogate father.
Their training location today, EFK Martial Arts, is closed to the general public; open gym hours begin at 4:30, but through her time in Chicago during her PRIME tenure, Lindsay knows Anthony, the owner. And he was more than amiable to letting her and Alex have the run of the floor for a tune-up session prior to ICONIC and her match against Mike Best.
After all, the Son of GOD is no slouch when it comes to the practice of mixed martial arts. With he and Alex being of similar build and similar fighting styles, this seemed like the best course of action.
Plus, Lindsay knew that Alex was far removed from the business and its everyday dramas. He knew the basics of her dealings with Mike Best, and her elbow injury, but that was it. She could’ve asked Tyler to join her today, who couldn’t seem to help himself to a few shitty tactics here and there during his time in the ring, which also would’ve been a boon to her in her preparation for this match, but there were too many emotions there after what Best did to her at Refueled IX. Better to keep those out of it.
Besides…you’ve seen enough dirty, underhanded tricks, and chances are you’ve seen them all.
“So, I figure we go at least 60 to 90,” Lindsay says, rolling her neck and shoulders out. “Warmups first, then sparring.”
“Whatever you want, LT. I’m at your disposal.”
“Good. Think fast.”
The right jab is lightning-quick, and Alex throws his mitt up to block.
“Thanks for the heads-up.”
He’s rewarded with a wink and a jab-cross.
“How’s the elbow?”
“Feels alright.” Jab, cross, jab. “I’m cleared and that’s what matters.”
“To the office, sure. They want their money match.” Alex takes note of a little more pop behind Troy’s blows at the mention of this fact. “But it’s not like anyone was sending you bouquets of flowers and ‘Get Well Soon’ cards.”
“Jack did send me Mary-Lynn and a diorama of the eMpire drowning under a waterfall.”
“Well that’s … something.”
Jab, cross, over-hand right.
“Dan made me spinach puffs.”
“Ah yes, the best cure for an untimely injury.”
Troy throws a side kick, which Alex deflects.
“MJ sent me a box of protein shakes.”
“Your team is looking out for you.”
“And all of that is well and good, but this team is fighting on its back heels. Not to mention, I didn’t come here to be a part of a group. I came here to make my own way, on my own road.”
A jab, cross, left-uppercut puts Creed on his back foot, but he steadies himself and resets. Lindsay’s face is set in hardened determination. She surges forward, comboing a jab, right uppercut, and a left hook.
“You know me, Alex. I don’t trust a lotta people.” Two rapid-fire knees to the ribs. “I didn’t trust Dane when he put this group together. I only agreed because Dan went in on it. And I haven’t always remembered to look out for myself first over looking out for the needs of others, which has gotten me into trouble more times than I want to admit. Now Eric’s gone. And we’ve been on shaky ground for far longer than I’m comfortable with.”
This gives Alex pause, and he almost doesn’t deflect a left cross coming for his temple until the last second. This is uncharacteristic for the Queen to admit; Lindsay has always been selfless and been known to put everyone else first, accurately, to her own detriment more than a time or two.
It’s a hard truth to realize that you might be at a crossroads.
Especially when you’ve got the biggest match at this stage of your career looming on the horizon.
“That’s all static,” Alex asserts. “And I’m sure that it’s probably coming in part from Best. I know you’re not the type of person to let your adversaries get into your brain, but if what you’re saying is even the least bit true, it’s more important now than ever to tune it out. You’re right that you came here for you. You know that doesn’t have to change when you’re part of a team, no matter how unsettled things seem to be. Your success is the team’s success, right?”
“Nobody else is in this match with you. Remember that. It’s you against Mike Best. Take the Industry and the eMpire out of it. Your team may share in your success, but your team does not define you. Only you do.”
Lindsay stared at Alex, letting what was a quite profound statement settle between them. After a few seconds, she chuckled.
“When did you get so wise?”
The Mecca tossed her a cocksure grin. “I learned from the best.”
Thursday, January 16
“Really, if you think about it, you can set a watch to it.”
Lindsay Troy stands outside the main entrance of Soldier Field, bundled up against the mid-20s temperatures in a long parka, hat, and gloves. Her curly hair is tucked loosely in a hair tie under her hat, and her cheeks give off the faintest hint of pink in the dimming light of day. She could’ve cut this promo indoors somewhere; requested a private room in a swanky South Loop restaurant, or a conference room at the Intercontinental Hotel.
But Soldier Field holds a special place in her heart. It was the location of PRIME’s last ever show in 2012: Colossus VIII.
It’s true that the company comes up a lot when the Queen is discussed, but no one would dare argue that Lindsay Troy was its standard-bearer for many years, and that it was one of the biggest reasons that Lee Best wanted to sign her to HOW. Why wouldn’t he want the top star of his biggest in-town competitor on his roster? Why wouldn’t he try his damndest to sway her away?
But Lindsay Troy always does things on her own time. In her own manner.
She is not one to be bought.
She is not one to be moved before her time.
“The Mike Best Tantrum Hour, right on time.
“I know it must be very hard for you, Michael, to square yourself with the thought that no matter how many times you try to talk yourself around it, no matter how you try to justify it, no matter how many dead and buried titles you tried resurrecting, that I am the reason for your constant overlooking by your dear father Lee.
“And I’m sorry to say that I just…cannot relate to that. Nor am I sorry for you, because you really don’t make it easy for anyone to be sorry for you at all, ever.
“I don’t feel sorry that you’ve been on this great undefeated tear since the year of our Beyonce 2016, and it wasn’t good enough for Lee. I don’t feel sorry that you took your talents to UTAH and lead the MASHEEN to glory untold. Hell, I don’t feel sorry that you think you’re the odd man out in the eMpire.
Untuck your balls.
You can put all the blame on me all you want, Mike, but the truth of the matter is, is that all those little titles that you may have won elsewhere doesn’t compare to the legend and the legacy of Lindsay Troy as far as your father’s concerned. And really, I could give a shit less about that. I didn’t come here to satisfy Lee Best’s insatiable appetite. I came here to satisfy my own curiosity.
I came here to compete.
I came here to win.
And that’s what I plan on doing.
You’re already looking ahead to the spoils of war, and that’s always been your problem, isn’t it? Put your dick on the table, spout a bunch of bullshit – and believe me, you can smell it as soon as it leaves your mouth – and hope that enough people buy into it that it becomes fact versus a very well-crafted tale of fiction.
You might’ve earned the right to talk, Mike, what with your big undefeated streak of three years runnin’. You want me to play these playground, jungle-gym games. Well guess what?
I’m not biting.
Because that’s what you want, right? Get Mom all riled up at the petulant child that she goes and plays right into your hand. Gives you the attention that you so endlessly crave.
And your reworking of history about dear ol’ daddy. Tut tut, Michael, tut tut. I’m gonna let you in on a secret. Unlike you, I don’t live every single second of every single day wondering if Lee Best likes me or not. If he does, okay. COOL. But I’m not the one crying in the corner when Mr. Best goes to Washington, sticks the knife in and gives it a twist. I mean, I’m a fighter. I fight. As long as he lets me do that, I’m pretty much good to go.
Look, I know that if I just….let you have your little toddler tantrum, Mike, you’ll cry it out eventually. Let you keep spreading unsubstantiated rumors that I whined to Lee about being ‘unappreciated’ and ‘overlooked.’ As if anyone could overlook the greatest female talent to ever strap on a pair of boots. Seriously, let’s just pop your binky back in your mouth and warm up your ba-ba for you. A couple-four ounces and you’ll be straight into your nap. A couple’a hours later and you’ll be fresh as a daisy, attitude renewed, powdered up and ready for your day.
Oops…there I go being “arrogant” again.
But it’s true, isn’t it?
Are you gonna deny it?
Are you gonna underestimate me?
Because I promise you this…if you do?
It will be your downfall.