“You cannot run away from weakness; you must some time fight it out or perish; and if that be so, why not now, and where you stand?” – Robert Louis Stevenson
So I had the strangest dream..
The drumming of the rain, on the roof of the limo, provided nature’s white noise as I looked around and tried to gather my bearings. Everything was blurry, my mind fogged up and unable to attach any logic to the situation.
Turning to my right, I saw Jatt sitting next to me, dressed top to toe in a black suit with white shirt and black tie. It was then that I decided to look at what I was wearing, which turned out to be the exact same. I couldn’t be more confused if I tried. Jatt looked relaxed, casually staring down at his phone but not seeming to be doing anything with it. I looked to my left. The rain pinged, angrily, off the glass, obscuring my view of what lay outside. As I lowered the window, I could only make out the dull silhouette of the church through the madness of the downfall.
Sektor: Jatt, what are we doing here?
Jatt looked at me, arching his head to the side with a bemused expression, as though I was playing some kind of a game. It didn’t matter why we were here, I was still recovering from a recent tragedy.
Sektor: I lost..
The grief overwhelmed me. I had failed. Let everybody down. Lee had entrusted me with the task of beating Eric Dane and putting him in his place. I was supposed to be his most trusted hitman in these situations. And I couldn’t get the job done.
Jatt ignored me, blankly staring down at his phone. I tried to make out what he was looking at but couldn’t focus without making it obvious.
Sektor: Have you spoken to Lee? Did he mention me?
Jatt turned his head slowly, glaring at me with somber eyes and an expression as if to say ‘Seriously?’
Jatt Starr: I think he has other things on his mind right now, John.
Even Jatt sounded disappointed.
Sektor: I’m so confused right now, Man! What’s going on with me?
Jatt Starr: You’re grieving, John. It’s understandable.
That’s when I looked back out of the window. I could just about make out a few dark figures carrying something on their shoulders towards the church. A large, dark-wood object, glistening under the rain. It was a coffin. My heart began to pound. I was so engrossed in my own self loathing that I had forgotten about the main event, and the ramifications it had for Lee and the entire company.
Sektor: Jatt, whose funeral is this?
As I turned, Jatt was half way out of the car, slamming it shut behind him. I hastily followed, instantly drenched as the rain soaked every pore. Jatt walked quick, a black umbrella shielding him as he made his way towards the steep, church steps. As I transcended the cold, wet, slabs of marble I tried to make out the faces of the dark suited and dressed individuals standing either side. Their faces were obscured by black veils on the women, bowler hats on the men and black umbrellas causing a deafening tapping sound from the rain.
As I reached the top I felt my feet give way, aquaplaning on the marble slab at the top and soon I was in a heap, soaking up the puddles through my back.
Sektor: Hijo de PUTA!
I sat up, slapping my hands in the puddle like a petulant child, feeling a surge of anger fizzing through my veins as I looked up at the useless onlookers who were just staring at me.
Sektor: Nobody fucking help me, then!
Nothing. No movement. No care. No compassion. They continued to stand in their formation either side of the steps. I waved them off with disdain, grunting my way back to a vertical base and heading inside the church. I could hear the Organ playing a haunting, low tempo, tune but I didn’t recognise it.
As I stood in the entrance, under a big stone archway, I shook the wet off my clothes like a dog, running a hand back through my sodden hair in an attempt to make myself presentable. The once white shirt was now grubby and see-through. I felt like Karma was out to get me.
The church was practically empty, save for the pallbearers who had just finished placing the coffin at the front of the altar. On the left side of the aisle, one row from the front, I could see the thick, blonde, mop of Jatt’s hair. The sound of my own shoes echoed as I walked down to join him, interrupting the harrowing tune of the organ.
Sektor: Thanks for waiting for me..
My sarcasm didn’t rattle him as he merely turned, slowly, pressing a finger to his lips and staring at me with the same cold eyes he had in the car.
Jatt Starr: Shhh!
Sektor: The fuck? Don’t SHHH, me! There’s nobody in here!
I exclaimed, looking around at the empty church.
Sektor: And this aint no fucking library!
Jatt Starr: Please, John. No cursing in the house of God.
I narrowed my brow, but before I could react I could hear the squeaking sound of wheels coming down the aisle. As if on cue, the God of HOW, Lee Best was being wheeled past us by Mario. His face was expressionless, staring out with empty eyes and no emotion present. He looked like he’d had a mental breakdown. I just stared at them both as they passed me and moved to the front of the opposite side of the aisle.
Sektor: He won’t even look at me.
Jatt Starr: He’s blind, John.
Sektor: I mean, Mario. You all think I’m a failure.
I turned to read Jatt’s expression.
Sektor: ..don’t you?
Jatt gave me nothing in the way of reassurance or support. He didn’t react negatively either, just ignoring me entirely, which felt worse.
Some movement near the altar caught my eye. A hooded figure in a black robe with crimson red trim, was moving around to the front of the coffin. He had a vestment around his neg, a colourful purple cloth with intricate designs sewn into it that I couldn’t make out from the distance. I watched silently as the figure seemed to float around to the back of the coffin, whilst Lee was wheeled up the side. His trembling hand outstretched itself as Mario helped him to his feet. The pair of them leered into the coffin, neither one uttering a word or showing any glimpse of emotion. It was then that I, again, looked around at the otherwise empty church. Was it Max in there? He wouldn’t have had many mourners. Then again, the other guy wasn’t so popular either. Surely Lee would have seen to it that the roster and fellow Hall of Famers came to pay their respects?
Sektor: Jatt, just tell me.
If failing to beat Dane hadn’t been embarrassing enough, not knowing who died felt even worse. Jatt continued to look at me blankly.
Sektor: Who is it?
Jatt just pointed towards the coffin, where Lee was already being wheeled past me, back down the aisle towards the entrance of the church. He wasn’t even staying for the service.
Jatt Starr: Go look for yourself.
I felt a sudden chill run down my spine as I turned slowly towards the open coffin. I didn’t want to look but something compelled me to do so. I stood, stepping out into the aisle and swallowing hard as I made the short walk up to the altar. The hooded minister stood with his head bowed, concealing his face. I slowly made my way up the three steps, the soft, decorative matt beneath my feet silencing my steps. My eyes closed as I leant over the coffin.
As my eyes opened the breath left my lungs in a sharp gasp at what lay before me. It wasn’t Max. It wasn’t Lee’s other son. It was..
A younger version of myself. No moustache. A youthful and almost innocent face from a time when I actually regarded myself as a good man. My heart began to pound as I stared at my own, lifeless, complexion staring back at me. The most disturbing part was that I looked at peace.
My gaze was soon distracted by two sets of bony fingers slowly wrapping themselves like spider legs around the edge of the coffin.
The familiar cackle of evil laughter was like ice running down my spine. My eyes slowly climbed the black robe and staring back at me was a steely blue eye and a menacing grin, filled with sharpened metal teeth.
It was Max.
The minister just continued to smile at me, enjoying my torment. I just froze with shock. I didn’t know how to react. A familiar smell of strawberries filled my nostrils as I felt something move past me to my right. I turned to see the most beautiful raven hair of a young woman walking past me.
Tears filled my eyes as I was ablaze with emotion. My daughter looked at me with the those huge, burning, orange eyes, her olive skin unblemeshed. She didn’t recognise me.
Chloe: Who’s that, Dad?
The minister’s smile was stretched even tighter, enjoying the torment. I clutched my chest as my heart ached, I thought I was having a heart attack.
Minister: He’s no-one. No-one!
I closed my eyes, the salty tears stinging face as they soaked into my face.
My eyes opened and I was in, almost, complete darkness. I searched my surroundings, desperately trying to figure out where I was. I knew I was dead. I knew I was in some kind of hell or purgatory, awaiting trial for all the sins I had committed throughout the past twenty years of my miserable life. In the distance I could hear the faint, bellowing, sound of a ship’s horn. I recognised that sound. The cold, broken, stone floor. The stained, equally cold walls. The mouldy sink and toilet stuffed at the back behind a mattress crawling with infestation. It was a cell I’d been in before.
My heart was beating faster than a drum on parade. I was overwhelmed with claustrophobia and could feel the panic attack beginning to rev up. Lurching forward, I gripped the cold bars of the cell, pressing my face against them, searching desperately for signs of life.
Sektor: HEY! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME? HELLO? THERE’S BEEN SOME KIND OF MISTAKE!
“There’s been plenty..”
There was that chill again. Every hair stood on end as I heard the voice reply in the calmest of tones. I listened as the footsteps drew nearer.
Sektor: Who’s there? Let me out of here!
My knuckles ached as my grip tightened. The footsteps stopped and I could make out a dark silhouette of a man in the shadows.
Man: You put yourself in here, John.
Sektor: Who are you?
As he stepped forward out of the shadows I began to sob like a hopeless child. It was the same young man who lay dead in the coffin.
It was me.
Sektor: Only you can get yourself out..
That dream really fucked me up.
I thought I could lock all those feelings away. Mask them with drugs, booze and endless women. Channel them the only way I know how, which is, ofcourse, is wrestling. I guess there’s no running from your demons. I can’t keep going around in circles, it’s fucking boring now. The last time I was in HOW I fought back from a heroin addiction and won the World title, only to piss it away a few weeks later because my mind was weak. I have to look at myself in the mirror and come clean.
I hate myself.
I hate what I have become, what this business has done to me. As a young man, I set out in this World with the vision of becoming one of the greatest World champions of all time. I wanted my wife and kids in the front row as I main evented the greatest shows. I wanted to live my own version of the American dream.
But you and I both know, Eric, to make it in this circus? We have to sacrifice everything. I sacrificed my marriage. I sacrificed my daughter. I sacrificed my soul to realise that dream and when I got to the end of that rainbow, no matter how many times I did it?
I felt empty.
I tried to convince myself that my purpose in life was to be one of the bad guys. A villain. The guys you hear about on the news who commit terrible crimes of violence with no remorse. No soul. But I’m lying to myself. I focussed so hard on not failing in the ring that I lost sight of what really terrified me.
Failing as a husband.
Failing as a father.
Failing as a human..
So when Lee called me up and gave me his pitch, I listened. He told me that he was still chasing that dream of HOW burning to the ground in one big Blaze of Glory, giving us all the closure that we so desperately need. I wanted to tell him no. I wanted to stay under my rock, hoping to one day find some peace by myself. But I needed that closure too. Lee has been saying the same thing for fucking years now.
HOW will go down in a blaze of glory.
But it never does. It never dies. It just continues to exist because no matter what? Nothing is ever good enough to finally close the book. No one can write the perfect ending so it just goes on, and on, and on..
So I had to come back. To help HOW die so that I can live.
After that dream, I feel the urge to tie up my own loose ends and write that perfect ending. Starting with Chloe.
I want to Kill Max. I hate him. He manipulated me once upon a time and I have never truly recovered. When I was at his side I watched as he slowly twisted the mind of his own son, so God knows what damage he’s done to my little girl. I wish I was the one in that death match. I’d love nothing more than to stand over him and watch as the light goes out in his one good I. Or at least die trying.
But I can’t. At Rumble at the Rock, Max either dies or continues to exist and either way I can’t touch him because he’s in the Alliance. So I guess I have to channel all of this emotion through somebody else.
That’d be, you, Eric.
Every bit of hate that I have for Max and for myself, will come raining down on you. This might be the turning point for me. Maybe I can prove to Chloe that the John Sektor she once knew and loved, isn’t dead. That I’m not a failure. That I can still do the one thing in this world that I was actually good at.
Don’t go thinking you’re special, because you’re not. You just so happen to be the first man standing in my way as I embark on this journey of destruction. And If I ever needed to look at someone and feel better about myself and my own self loathing? It would be you. Because you’re a bigger piece of trash and more of a failure than I ever have or will be, Eric. You carry yourself as some kind of badass, a true anti-hero, but really you’re just an overinflated balloon of hot air. You’re just a frustrated asshole who can’t bear to look at himself in the mirror and see the cracks.
Why do you think Lee hand picked me to do this task? Because he sensed some history between us? Because he smelled a few dollars at the prospect of two ring Alpha’s like us locking horns, going to war to prove who the baddest man is?
He chose me, because he knows I have your number, Eric. He knows I can beat you and that when you lose to a better man you’re done! There’ll be no way back for you. That’s the way I see it. Maybe Lee hopes that when I teach you a lesson you’ll learn from it for once in your life and figure out how to actually make it here in HOW. But I know him too well to know that he really doesn’t give a fuck. The only people that matter to him now are the ones who shared a drink with him at Refueled thirty nine.
But I know you too. I know losing to a guy like me will eat you alive. You might stick around as a good midcard filler for a while but eventually you’ll pack your bags and find another company to throw your weight around in. Another roster to try and bully and push around, because God knows you’ve given it your best shot here in HOW haven’t you? But you realise now that you’re amongst a den of wolves and try as you might you’ll never be the big dog.
I have a nasty habit of motivating people, Eric. I know that you’re chomping at the bit to prove something against me. I also know after everything I’ve done to you over the past few weeks that you are picturing all the violent an nasty things you’re going to do to me at Rumble at the Rock. And Lee’s been poking you so hard that you’re about ready to snap. Perhaps I’ve hit the right button the last few weeks. If not I certainly will at the Rock. I’ve got you like a cornered rat and there’s nothing more dangerous. I bet you’re just itching to spring at me and go for the throat, aren’t you? I don’t look forward to that part. Recovering from our match is gonna be a real bitch, but I’m no stranger to pain. You’ll leave your mark, I’m sure of it. I know you’ll make sure that, win or lose, ole John Sektor will never forget the time he poked the big angry bear that is Eric Dane.
At the end of the day you can be as defiant as you want. But one way or another? I’ll get the job done.
If you really think this match is going any other way then you’re deluded. I hear you, constantly throwing in my face that one time you got something over me. A cluster fuck match in UTAH, really? Do you know how much you’re embarrassing yourself by bringing that up? You could at least tell the whole story, Dane. How I was the first man to enter that stupid, gimmick, chamber match and how you were one of the last? How I wrestled the majority of it with a fucking fork sticking out of my back? How I eliminated more people than you did, until finally you came at me fresh as a daisy while I was running on fumes and managed to pin me down. Wow.
You shouldn’t have bothered. I was happy to leave that in the past but you brought it up. You even go on to say that you ran, roughshod, through the rest of that roster, AFTER we left. Of course you did, because I wasn’t there to stop you.
You’re clutching at straws Dane and I can smell the desperation. You’re trying to convince me and the rest of the World that you’re still a badass but your selling lies. We all see right through it.
Let’s talk about the last time you and I were in a ring. A real ring, where it matters. A fucking HOW ring. It was War Games, 2019, and, as you rightfully pointed out, I won it. I didn’t need help. I single handedly masterminded my own victory, outsmarting my own team mates to add yet another accolade to a long list of accomplishments in the only company that ever mattered. Where did you finish?
First man eliminated!
That’s the gulf between us, Dane. I don’t see how a year or so has bridged that gap. It’s not like you’ve been any more active than I have. I am still the standard that you are yet to reach, and you’re gonna be wrestling shadows at Rumble at the Rock. You think I’m stupid. That I need others to do all the thinking and talking for me. I honestly believed you knew me better than that. You’ll find out just how smart I really am. Forget drawing a map, I’ve already got the blueprints for our match and thought of every possibility. Whatever questions you ask in that ring I’ll answer because that’s what I do!
Better than me?
You’ll never be better than me.
You call me a pussy for running you down with a group. For attacking you from behind. Probably for injuring that arm of yours and leaving you at a disadvantage. But I make no apologies, Dane. Could I still beat you without all those factors? Without giving myself a foothold in the match by weakening your arm?
But why leave it to chance? I am Lee’s hitman. His ring general. Don’t mistake that with me being his bitch. It’s a position I’ve earned through my abilities in the ring alone and what lengths I am willing to go to a job done. No matter how many times I’ve flaked on him he’s always kept a place for me at his side. That’s true respect, Eric. Something you can only dream of having one day.
He pays me to get the job done and that is what I’m doing. I’ll stack the odds against you as much as I can because I am a man who delivers. I don’t care if you think I’m a pussy, because I’ll be the one marching forwards towards one last swan song before I help burn it all to the ground while you lie licking your wounds. The result is all that matters, Dane. No one ever remembers how it was achieved. I’ve got nothing to prove and certainly not to you. I’ve already made it here, boy. What the fuck have you done?
For you this is your big chance, and probably your last. Beat me and perhaps Lee will take notice and give you the push you so desperately need. I’m not a fool, Dane. I know you have the tools to beat me. We’re about as evenly matched as it gets. The tale of tape would end in a coin toss. And Lee’s been poking you so hard that you’re about ready to snap. Perhaps I’ve hit the right button the last few weeks. If not I certainly will at the Rock. I’ve got you like a cornered rat and there’s nothing more dangerous. I bet you’re just itching to spring at me and go for the throat, aren’t you?
The only real difference between you and I is that I’m not afraid to show weakness. The whole world knows how fractured John Sektor. Give him the right nudge and he’ll fall into a pit of needles. I put on a good front. I play the tough guy in front of the cameras and carry a smirk. But inside I’m suffering.
But my strength grows out of weakness.
Acknowledging our weakness is the first step in preparing our loss.
You might just want to remember that one, Eric.