Joe Hoffman: Arthur Pleasant is going to be focusing on the knee of John Sektor all night……
I’m a wounded animal, surrounded by wolves.
A slow motion video plays of Arthur Pleasant diving towards Sektor’s knee and delivering a vicious chop block. The motion remains slow as Sektor’s face crumples with pain.
I did all I could to strengthen it. Protect it. My knee just needed to hold up long enough to get the job done..
A video, again, plays of Sektor swooping behind Pleasant and strapping in a rear waist lock. He then bends his knees to deliver a German suplex. The video slows right down as the knee buckles beneath him, causing him to stumble.
If my knee wasn’t fucked before? It is now. Pleasant made sure of that. It was the one chink in my armour that he could expose. To be honest with you? I expected worse. I would have been tearing it all over the ring like when a tiger mauls its prey. I guess you could say I was lucky? Except another match has passed me by and my knee is more painful, less mobile and then I am one step closer to being shelved.
I should be thankful that there is so much interest in the LSD championship, all of a sudden. After all, last year I couldn’t even find anyone on the roster worthy enough to defend against at Iconic, so it ended up being Bill Dickinson. Not a single person threw their hat in the ring to come and challenge me because they knew that they would leave London with a loss against their name to end the year.
Now they’re all lining up. Pleasant. Cornfields ape. Funny isn’t it. I pick up a bad injury and suddenly everyone wants a shot at my title. I can’t blame them I suppose. They smell blood. They know that there’s a fault with the machine and they want to take advantage.
I was lucky to walk out with the championship that night. Over twenty minutes of trying to put Pleasant away and I was running out of options. I thought I had finally put him to sleep but the fucker threw us out of the ring and now my back fucking hurts too.
He was tough. Maybe I should retract everything I said about him not stacking up with all the opponents who came before him. He certainly took me the distance, even if I was only on one leg. But I stand by it. I always said that you don’t know a person until you’ve fought them in the ring and now I know who Arthur Pleasant is. And I know he will be coming back.
I spent the entire night in a cold sweat in my hotel room from the pain. I literally wanted to cut my own leg off, at one point, it got that bad. There is nothing I can do to relieve the pain and it’s making me sick. I can’t sleep.
I can’t drink because the drink will slow me down and affect the rest of my able body. It slows recovery.
I can’t take painkillers because I’ll get addicted.
I can’t take sedatives because I need to be able to think and function so that I can survive the next match.
I’m so desperate for relief that I willing to give anything that won’t derail me a shot. I can feel the desperation creeping in. I know everyone looks at me as though I’m on borrowed time. I see it in my own camp. The sideways glances? The fake smiles trying to shroud the concern. I’m not fucking stupid.
As long as I can lace up my boots and get myself in a wrestling ring I will fucking wrestle. I will wrestle as though my life depends on it because my life does depend on it. This is it! This is who I am. This LSD championship is worth dying for. The tag title tournament is worth dying for. I will keep going and going until my heart stops! If my knees give out I will crawl and drag my ass around the ring like the fucking Terminator.
You all want to circle John Sektor like fucking vultures? You all want to swoop down and attack him while he’s weak?
Well bring it on!
This John Sektor doesn’t quit. He’s a warrior and warriors go out on their shield. You want to beat me? You want to take my championship then you’re going to have to be dragged through hell to get it. I refuse to let this knee be an excuse.
Another video plays with a raucous crowd cheering in anticipation as Sektor has Pleasant in a sleeper hold in the corner of the ring. Pleasant’s face is fading but he takes one more defiant step towards the top rope before hurling himself and Sektor out of the ring.
Joe Hoffman: OH NO! OH NO! NOT LIKE THIS!
I will find a way! I always do. And if I can’t? As I said..
…I’ll go out on my shield.
A final image is shown of both men laid out and motionless on the arena floor, before it slowly fades to black.
“You need to talk to him..”
Adam Ellis breathes out a deep sigh as he looks through the glass window into the small surgical area. Standing by his side is Sektor’s physio, Simon. They both watch as Sektor lies on a table, wearing a hospital gown as a man in scrubs is drawing up a solution from a vial into a syringe. The needle on the syringe is particularly large as Adam appears a little green around the gills at the sight of it.
“What can I do?” he eventually replies.
“He listens to you,” Simon ushers.
“No he doesn’t,” Adam scoffs, watching his mentor with a genuine look of concern plastered all over his young face.
“You have to try!” Simon encourages, desperation seeping into his tone.
“What would I say to him?”
“You need to make him see sense. That knee is fucked! He needs to take time off. He needs surgery, rehab, the whole lot. That’s his only shot of keeping his career going because the more he pushes it the closer he gets to..”
“Don’t say it!” Adam snaps, closing his eyes as though the thought of what Simon was about to say terrified him to his core.
Adam knew that one day he would be taking the torch from his mentor and continuing his great legacy. He wasn’t ready for that, not by a long shot. There was still so much to learn and he didn’t want to fall flat on his face and cause embarrassment to Sektor’s legacy. He needed Sektor to keep going just as much as he did.
In the room the surgeon is dipping a wrapped probe from an ultrasound machine in some jelly. He then proceeds to gently roll the probs around Sektor’s knee joint, keeping his eyes on the monitor and he looks for a sweet spot.
“Will this work?” Adam asks, looking to Simon for hope.
Simon takes his time answering, taking in a breath and contemplating with a gurn of the mouth. “Eh, it will bring down the swelling and provide some temporary pain relief. But it will only mask the problem, not solve it. And not for very long either.”
Adam has a worried demeanour as he goes back to watching the procedure. The surgeon holds the probe in place with one hand and lifts the syringe with the other, carefully piercing the skin in the outer side of Sektor’s right knee joint. Sektor winces in pain and brings his hands up to his forehead as he grins and bears it. The surgeon all the while watches the monitor so that he can see the needle is in the right place, slowly injecting the solution and moving it around in the knee socket. With every twist of the needle Sektor’s face contorts tighter.
“I know this tag tournament is important to you,” Simon begins. “But you gotta ask yourself, is it worth it? Knowing how much pain he is in?”
“It’s not my decision to make!”
“Well he’s not going to fucking make it is he? He’s fucking deluded..”
“If he heard you talking like that..”
“I know, I know, he’d fire me..”
“Oh, he’d probably do a lot worse than that!”
“Look,” continues Simon, placing a reassuring hand on Adam’s shoulder. “You can find another partner.”
Adam snaps his head at Simon with a look of sheer disgust, jerking his shoulder away from his touch.
“What are you saying?”
Simon sighs and rolls his eyes. “I’m just saying that he can’t compete so we can get you a replacement. I’m sure Joe Bergman can hook you up with..”
“That’s enough!” Adam barks, looking at Simon sternly. “If it’s not with him? It’s not with anybody.”
Adam turns back to his mentor who is going through great lengths to continue in the tag team tournament alongside him.
“We win together. We lose together!”
St Louis, MO
Inside the huge, and kitted out, gymnasium of the Gold Standard Academy is the Gold Standard himself. No expense has been spared as the most up to date and modern training equipment sparkles all over the studio, yet more evidence of Sektor investing in himself.
His head is positioned downward forty-five degrees in a decline as Simon is busy strapping on his knee brace. To his left hand side is his personal trainer, Chris, who has a look of deep concern on his face as he watches Sektor getting his knee strapped up.
“Hurry up for fucks sake! I haven’t got all day amigo,” Sektor snaps, looking particularly short of temper.
Simon glances up at Chris as he seems to be biting his tongue and Sektor notices this.
“The fuck you looking at him for? AY!”
He yells at Simon and snaps his fingers several times to get his attention.
“Focus on your fucking job!”
Simon slowly exhales to keep his own temper in check as he does as he’s instructed and finishes fastening the restraints of the knee brace. He gives it a light pat and flings a hand gesture at Sektor before walking away to cool off. Sektor had been talking to his team like shit all week at the training camp. It was clear that frustrations were boiling over and he was lashing out at those around them.
With the brace on, Sektor began to flex and extend his knee several times to get a feel for it before planting his feet against the footplate of the leg press.
“Now remember, take it easy,” Chris begins, using calmly hand gestures. “We don’t want to blow your knee..”
“Yeah-yeah, the match is in three days, let’s get a fucking move on eh? VAMOS!”
“Okay-okay, I’m gonna put it on a low setting to begin. Just to get the joint warmed up before we put some real pressure on it,” explains his PT.
Sektor rolls his eyes and gestures to move things along. The sliding of steel on steel can be heard as Chris pops a metal pin into the stack of weights in the back of the machine. Sektor extends his legs and raises the weights with ease as he pushes the footplate up from his declined position. He does this for about twenty reps and then begins to do it faster and faster as he begins to lose patience. Finally he allows his legs to flex all the way causing the weights to slam against each other and sending an clinking echo around the gym.
“K, I’m warm. Now put some real fucking weights on it,” he barks.
Like Simon, Chris seems to be holding his temper as he moves the pin on the weights.
Sektor extends his legs once and then allows the weights to slam back against one another for another deafening clink of metal.
“The fuck is this?” he asks, scowling at Chris in disbelief. “A fucking five year old could press this!”
“John, we will get there. We have to go slow and build up..”
“Fuck slow! There is only one way we do things here! Intensely! So give me a weight that at least my dead grandmother couldn’t lift.”
The look on Chris’ face says that he’s done trying to look after him and he proceeds to up the weight by a good few levels.
Sektor proceeds to press again, this time with more strain in his face as he extends his legs. He forces breath out of his lungs, through pursed lips in a controlled manner with each repetition. Sektor does this for ten repetitions, straining hard before finally letting the metal slam again.
“More,” Sektor interrupts.
Chris moves the pin up another level and Sektor shakes his head. He moves it up another level and hovers there but Sektor narrows his eyes. He moves it up one more and Sektor lifts his chin slightly to signal that that’s where he needs to stop.
He takes a breath and focuses his eyes on his feet, not the knee which is the cause of everyone else’s concern. He breathes a couple more times to psyche himself up and then begins to go to work.
“ErrrrRRRUGGGHHH!” his grunt growing as his legs extend.
A vein has appeared in the side of his temple and his face beams as red as a beetroot as he struggles to push the plate. He flexes his knees back slowly to control the weight and lets out another guttural grunt as he pushes for another rep. Chris hasn’t taken his eyes off Sektor’s braced knee the entire time, as though he’s waiting for it to burst out of the skin and shoot across the room.
After only five, painful, reps he allows the weights to slam against one another. He breathes heavily, closing his eyes and flopping his head back against the seat.
“Good, fucking, job man you are a beast. What’dya say we go get you in the ice tub and..”
“More..” Sektor whisper, his eyes still closed.
Chris mouth is still frozen on his last word as he regards Sektor with disbelief. “What?”
“I said more,” Sektor replies assertively, opening his eyes and glaring at Chris.
“I don’t understand, this is madness! You aren’t strengthening anything! All you are doing is putting more stress on that damaged knee and you’re going to..”
“I need to know it can handle it. I need to trust it and I need you to do as you’re fucking told!”
Chris looks at Sektor as though he’s looking at a mad man who has lost his mind. In Sektor’s mind he had to endure this pain and he needed to know his knee could endure it, because it was going to be a hell of a lot worse once he steps in the ring with his old pals Solex and Clay Byrd.
Chris shrugs as if to say ‘fuck it’ and slides the pin up a couple more notches. Sektor has a cold focus in his eyes as he slowly peels his gaze away from Chris and back to the spot on the plate.
As he pushes the plate he yells in agony, screaming the entire gym down as he extends his knee all the way to a locked position. He slowly flexes it back, practically whimpering before letting out another blood curdling scream as he performs another rep.
Chris turns his eyes away as though he’s struggling to watch, listening to the screams like he’s listening to a torture scene from a horror movie.
After thirty seconds or so of this the slamming of metal around the gym rings like music to his trainers ears. He watches emphatically as the LSD champion collapses back against the seat and pants heavily.
“Err, Sek? Could I get a quick word with you for a minute?” asks a familiar voice.
His partner and protegee, Adam Ellis, joins him at his side. He glances at him quickly, closing his eyes again as he tries to control his breathing. Sweat begins to run down the side of his face.
“Can’t you see I’m a little busy here, rook?” he asks. “You’re supposed to be in the ring. Training!”
“I’m just taking a quick break..”
“Break? Who told you to take a break? I certainly fucking didn’t,” he grunts, sounding like a miserable old man.
“I just wanted to talk about the match,” he further explains, appearing a little nervous.
He glances across at Simon who is watching from the other side of the gym and happens to give him a nod as he meets his eye.
“What is it?” Sektor snaps, taking his right foot off the plate and bending his knee back and forth.
“I know you shot this down last time I suggested it,” he begins, taking a pause for courage. “But I really think you should let me take the majority of the ring time in this match.”
Sektor chuckles to himself.
“We’ve already been over this, kid,” he replies.
“I know, but, look, this will be the fourth match you have wrestled in a row. You haven’t competed that frequently in a long time and I’m used to it.”
Sektor raises an eyebrow, looking concerned at what his student may be angling at. He pulls a lever on the seat which lifts it back into a normal seated position as he swings his legs over the side.
“Oh, so you think because you’re younger and fitter that you’re more capable of absorbing the attrition of this match, that it?”
“No, I don’t mean it like that. I’m just saying that you’ve not had to compete for more than two weeks in a row for a long time and now that you have a busted knee?”
“My knee is not busted!” he snaps defensively.
“Fine, in a bad way!” Adam corrects himself, beginning to sound frustrated.
“You’re hurt. You haven’t had longer than a week to let your knee heal up a bit so let me help. I can do it. Even Joe said I did a great job of keeping your ring time down in the last couple of matches..”
He stops talking as Sektor’s eyes widen. He stands to his feet to look his student eye to eye, grimacing with a slight limp as he puts his weight on his right leg.
“So you’re taking tips from Joe Bergman now?” he asks, sounding betrayed.
“It’s not like that. I was just getting some inside info on Solex and..”
“You want inside insight on Solex, you come to me!” he instructs, banging a hard index finger against his own sternum. “Steve Solex. Clay Byrd. We were all in the Best Alliance together, so if you want facts you go to the fucking source, hermano. We have all fought together and against one another. You don’t need no second hand info from Joe fucking Bergman.”
Sektor was displaying a trait that Adam hadn’t seen before from him. Jealousy. It was clear that getting wisdom from another veteran had cut his mentor in some way.
“Listen Adam, you’ve done good the last two matches. Real good. I couldn’t be happier with your performance,” he begins, which brings a hint of a smile to his apprentice’s face. “But you’re still a rookie!”
This hurts Adam. He can’t hide the shock in his expression as his mentor lands it on him like a right hook.
“You go in that ring any longer than you need to with those two? They’re going to smash you to fucking pieces. I mean it. We’re talking about two of the baddest mother fuckers on roster. Bad men, Adam. I know, because I too am a bad man. They won’t give two flying fucks about ending your career before its even begun, in fact I bet they want to try, just to fuck me over!”
Fear sweeps across Adams face as Sektor continues to land home truths.
“They are veterans and they are heartless bastards. Make no bones about it, we have not secured this group and these two are our toughest opponents yet. You are not ready for them and if we have any hope of beating them? It’s ME!”
Adam’s eyes drift to the floor but Sektor grabs hold of his chin ruggedly and pulls it back up.
“I don’t want you looking at me the same way all of these cockroaches keep looking at me. Like I’m some fucking cripple.”
“We are a team. But I, John Sektor, am the difference between winning and losing so don’t you fucking forget that and don’t you DARE insult me by suggesting that I do the light work in this match!”
Adam’s face beams with embarrassment and he looks as though he could cry.
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to help,” he explains.
“You wanna help? Get back in that fucking ring and train. Go home tonight and watch footage of the two of them until you see them in your sleep. Eat, sleep and breath this fucking match until it’s over and we’re moving on to the next round. But above all else?”
Adam gawks at his mentor attentively, awaiting his next instruction.