DING. DING. DING.
Grimacing on the canvas and clutching his ribs, the Gold Standard screwed his eyes tightly shut as waited in pain for his lungs to allow him to breath. He’d heard the bell, and he knew he’d lost, but those facts would be dealt with once he had recovered. This was a struggle, having had a 235lb Whale of a woman land on his midriff and having not been battle hardened for so many months out of the ring. He could hear Jatt screaming something at Carey but he was in too much pain to decipher what he was saying. He could sense some commotion following this but was uninterested as he focussed on regaining his breathing.
As he rolled onto his side and opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was a pair of black boots. Following the trail they led to the familiar face of Scott Stevens, who was ranting and raving into the camera. Panning around he saw the culprit of his sore ribs lying in a heap, spark out. He smiled briefly, enjoying the fact that she had gotten her teeth kicked down her throat, but the smile soon faded as he wanted to correct the wrong which had just taken place.
He was hurt, embarrassed but, above all else, furious that he had lost on his return. So much hype had stirred since he showed his face on HOTv that his pride was left hurting most of all. Mostly due to the manner of his defeat.
Pulling himself to his feet he looked around for signs of his so-called partner, Christopher America. The last thing he saw of the World champion was him collapsing at ringside and now he was nowhere to be seen. Something didn’t sit right with the Gold Standard. He had known Chris too long and wasn’t buying that he was genuinely unwell.
His face still stung from Simon’s strike of disrespect. He could taste the vengeance in it and he couldn’t blame him. The headache was beginning to bubble up like a stormcloud as the raucous drone of the crowd bellowed in his ears. Before long his fists were rolling into fists, knuckles white.
With the bit between his teeth and a heart full of rage he stormed out of the ring and headed towards the back, ignoring fans who begged for selfies and signatures. He swiped the curtain to one side like he was delivering a back hand to his mistress. On the other side was a member of the production crew wearing the usual headset and carrying a tablet.
“You!” he barked. “Where’s America?”
The crew member slowly and nervously pointed a finger to nowhere in particular.
“He was taken to the treatment room,” he stammered.
Sektor raised his chin, chewing on his own tongue as he pondered whether it was possible that America had earnestly taken ill. He would have to see it for his own eyes. Striking a glare back at the crew member he approached him and got within an intimidating range.
“You tell your production buddies to get word to the boss, right now, that I want that BITCH next week!”
The crew member choked on his words for a second. “Uhm. That’s – really not within my remit..”
Before he could finish his sentence Sektor had him by the scruff of his neck, yanking him in close via his collar.
“Then make it part of your remit!”
With that he pushed the crew member abruptly and marched on towards the treatment room in the backstage area. He cussed and growled the whole way there, more upset with his own performance than anything else but looking to shift the blame somewhere else.
The door of the treatment room crashes open as the irate Gold Standard stands in the doorway. The doctors and his nursing assistant clutched their chests, having jump out of their skins. Sektor surveyed the room with narrowed eyes.
“Sektor,” the Doctor gasped. “What can we do for you? Please, hop on the table and let me take a look at..”
“Where’s America?” he interrupted.
The doctor and nurse regarded each other uneasily, rousing yet more suspicion from the Hall of Famer.
“He, uhm, he was feeling better so he left,” the Doctor explained.
Sektor’s eyes burned even brighter.
“A man collapses at ringside and has to be carried to the back, and then just gets up and walks out of here?” he growled, grilling the Doctor.
“Look, I don’t know what to tell you. He came too and got up and left..”
“You best not be covering for him,” Sektor warned.
The Doctor swallowed hard and nervously raised his hands.
“I’m telling you what I know and that’s it!” he answered back, trying to sound firm.
“This whole thing fucking stinks!” Sektor barked, shaking his head and looking around the room. “If you hear from him I want you to give him a message.”
The Doctor nodded in agreement, but with a look that said he wouldn’t have any choice.
“You tell him, that if I find out he screwed me tonight?” he paused, gritting his teeth. “The I’ll kick the red, white and blue out of his sorry ass. You got that, Doc?”
The Doctor nodded, and with that Sektor turned to head back to his locker room.
Why did I come back?
A phone rings and you recognise the number. You ignore it the first few times because you know what will happen if you answer it. Eventually curiosity gets the better of you and you answer it.
Before you know it? You’re back in the circus.
After the injury, physio and rehab, retirement was beginning to treat me well. Lot’s of time to fish, sit on my boat in solitude and do whatever the hell I want. I was at peace for a long time. I’ve accumulated plenty of money over the years so that wasn’t an issue. The wrestling academy was thriving.
But I got bored. When you enter this world you develop an itch that can’t be scratched unless you’re in the ring. I’ve done it all and won it all, yet there are still things I want to do. I thought the fire was burning out but all it needed was a little oxygen to get going again.
But now I’m back, and already things are turning to shit. The anxiety, paranoia and relentless stress hits you like a ton of bricks.
Sektor was in a world of his own as he stared blankly out of the rain dashed window of the armoured SUV. Eventually he broke out of his trance, turning to the open door across from him at the red skull mask of one of the EPU agents.
Sektor half smiled at the expressionless mask which enquired about his well being.
“I’m fine, sorry, was in a world of my own there.”
“Well we’re here.”
Letting out a deep sigh, the Gold Standard slithered across the leather seats and out of the SUV. One of the agents held an umbrella above his head, shielding him from the rain as he adjusted the collar of his shirt. He was dressed typically smart in a black suit with an open collar white shirt, staring up the steps towards the entrance of the Best Arena.
The EPU walked by his side, 2 by 2 formation, as they walked through the parted sea of fans gathered outside of the area. They all cheered and whooped in support of the Gold Standard, excited to see him so close and in the flesh. Sektor couldn’t even look them in the eyes, still shamed by what had transpired in the last match.
Once inside they made their way straight to the press room. Sektor took his seat at the table, cracking open the complimentary bottle of water which had been prepared for him by the arena staff. He took a sip and glanced around down the stem of the bottle, getting a read on the various rag sheets journalists. It was a relatively small crowd. Most would be waiting for the World champion to give his address.
Camera flashes bounced off his face but it didn’t seem to bother him. Sektor had gotten used to the flashing of cameras over the years, and knew where to look to avoid being temporarily blinded.
“Ok guys, you all know who’s in what order. Let’s try to keep this organised. We’ll get through the appointed questions and then it’s at Sektor’s discretion whether he wants to open up questions at the end. With that said? If Sektor is happy..”
Sektor gave him a nod but his face had the expression of a man who didn’t want to be there.
“Let’s get started.”
The first person stood up in the audience, a woman in his early 30’s wearing knitwear and thick rimmed glasses.
“Hi Sektor,” she began with a smile. Sektor remained poker faced. “You returned to the ring last week after many months away from the industry. It’s fair to say that it probably wasn’t how you imagined it would go. What are your thoughts on what happened last week?”
Sektor tried to shrug it off, giving the impression that he wasn’t overly wounded by the loss that he took.
“It’s fair to say that I did not plan on losing. The match itself wasn’t even a match. It was a mess. First of all my partner takes ill at ringside and leaves me on my own. Then it’s two on one.”
He rubbed the moustache as his teeth gritted from recounting this.
“But I can’t sit here and make excuses. I’m experienced enough to have adjusted once America was ruled out. I’m smart enough to have at least put in some kind of performance. In the end, I lost the match. Me. Nobody else and I should have been better. On a better day I would like to think that I could have beaten both Carey and Jatt by myself.”
He shrugged once again, inverting his mouth to add to the nonchalance.
“Alas, what happened? Happened. I cannot change this and in the grand scheme of things it was a nothing match. No one will give a shit. No one will remember this match, least of all me. What happened was nothing more than an unfortunate mistake. So I put it behind me and move forward. Ready to correct that mistake.”
Without introducing themselves the next journalist stood up and fired out his question.
“What about what happened to America? There’s evidence now to suggest that he was pretending to collapse at ringside to avoid competing. If that’s true, what does that mean for you and America?”
Sektor smiled calmly, but at the back of his mind he was still seething.
“You would have to ask him that. I know Christopher as well as anybody. I know what he’s capable of. If he did screw me over last week? Then he already knows what lies ahead for him and I, because I will not forget. But that’s all I have to say about that.”
Another journalist took to the microphone, this one from an online blog site dedicated to wrestling.
“Since you’ve come back you’ve had your sights set on another match with Simon Sparrow at Rumble at the Rock. Since then he’s had an awful lot to say about you. We were just wondering if you were aware of what he had been saying and how do you respond to it?”
Sektor laughed and nearly spit out some water as he was in mid sip.
“Of course I’ve heard him. His voice is inescapable. It’s no surprise that he still harbours a lot of ill feelings towards me. But I didn’t want this match to give him another shot at redemption. I didn’t want this match because I hate him as much as he hates me. Because I don’t hate him. In fact, I love him. But..”
He paused and thought carefully about his words before continuing.
“Put it this way. The more he runs that mouth of his? The more uncomfortable things are gonna get for him come Rumble at the Rock,” he warned, cracking a hint of a smirk before dismissing the journalist with his hand. “But that’s enough on Jatt. We’re not here to talk about him today, we’re here to talk about my match. So does anyone have any questions about that or can I go and continue my preparations?”
Another journalist bites at this opportunity and stands up, waiting for the microphone to get passed back to her.
“Sektor, you’re facing Bobbinette Carey this week, who has become somewhat of an inspirational figure to woman around the world. What sort of match do you think you’ll get from her this Sunday and what are you expecting?”
Sektor smiled at the mention of Carey’s inspirational character.
“Well, I’m not going to sit here and be so arrogant as to suggest that his match will be an easy one. Aside from the fact that I have competed in so long, Carey is a helluva competitor. She’s proven many times that she can hang with the biggest and best in the business and that’s why she’s in the Hall of Fame. So I expect her to give me a real test this week. I expect her to bring it and to push me to the limit, so that I may learn as to where I’m at and make necessary adjustments as I prepare for Jatt in an Iron man match.”
Sektor lowered his eyes, considering whether to continue, knowing that what’s eating at him is probably wiser to be left undiscussed. He couldn’t help himself.
“And, of course, you’re right. She is an inspiration. Not just to women, but she ticks every fucking demongraphic box on the census form, thus representing every minority in this country, and indeed the world. As a man who comes from a family of immigrants I can appreciate that. And I commend her for speaking up for what she believes in.”
He then narrowed his eyes at the people in the room, taking his time to look at them one by one.
“But then I wonder?” he continued, licking his lips as he eyes narrowed further. “Why am I not an inspiration? See I represent something more than just oppressed races and genders. I represent desire. I represent determination. I represent True Grit!”
His tone turned angry as he scowled around the room.
“I have bled, #97 red for almost two decades and I have done it with nothing but clinical excellence in my trade. Yet all people talk about is when Carey starts beating on her damn drum. Am I the villain in this story because I am a man?”
No one in the room answers, they just awkwardly stay silent.
“That’s what I thought.”
“Sektor, if I may ask,” called another voice from the group of journalists. “Carey pinned you last week. Obviously, Jatt was visibly upset with her that she seemingly stole that victory from him as he, obviously, wanted the bragging rights of having pinned you himself. What do you think her motives are for doing that?”
Sektor, still feeling bitter, just shrugged his shoulders. He’d already lost interest in this conference and was ready to leave.
“I would expect nothing less from her. She has made a career out of stealing the spotlight from others and robbing them of their moments. We’re talking about the same woman who crowned herself World champion at War Games, after Shane Reynolds carrier their team through the entire fucking match. So it’s no great surprise to me.”
Sektor stood up, beginning to button his jacket.
“Let me tell you what’s going to happen this Sunday,” he began to explain, remaining calm and collected. “I haven’t come back here to play nice. I haven’t come back to have hallmark moments and put on spectacles. I’ve come back to fucking win. And to do so by any means necessary. I am going to grab Bobbinette by that fifty dollar weave of hers and smack her around the ring like a violent husband. I’m going to stretch her in ways that she won’t even have read about in the karma sutra. I’m going to fucking hurt her and if neccessary I will fucking kill her. Because I’m not fucking around. On Sunday, I will get the job..done!”
With that he raised his chin in the air.
Ignoring the pleads of more questions from the journalists he made his exit from the room, closely followed by his security team. He was more angry than he was before he entered and it was mostly his own doing. He wanted to be in the ring with Carey right then and there, so that he may burn off the aggression he was feeling and channel it into another form.
As they made their way outside he was greeted once again by a small gathering of opportunity fans. He looked up at the sky and smiled as the rain had stopped. Reaching into his jacket he pulled out a thick Cuban cigar and rubbed it across his moustache and gave it a sniff, before placing the tip between his teeth. Firing up a zippo, he lit the end and gave it a few hard tugs before taking in big drag and letting the wind carry it away.
“Look at these peasants,” he spat, gesturing with his stogie. “Pretending to care about me. They couldn’t give a fuck.”
One of the EPU agents turned his head towards the Gold Standard, his eyes barely visible through the mask.
“You sure your okay boss?”
“I will be….I will be..”