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Cross Recoba

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004 - Bad Habits
« on: October 03, 2017, 11:52:17 AM »

CROSS




The room reverberated with the crash of a body onto the mat, the impact drawing the breath out of Recoba from the Northern Lights Suplex. His mind was cast back to the previous Showdown, the pain of the Ranhei being reversed into the ‘Three-Some’ suplex that cost him a televised debut win. Dakota releases the suplex immediately but Cross beats her back to her feet.



“Crisp suplex, ‘Kota!” Cross tried to mask the flashback with enthusiasm.




“Thanks, but what’s with the quick kip-up?”




“I don’t want to waste training time, it’s your WWH debut - got to make sure you’re fighting fit!” Recoba deflected, how well he carried it off he wasn’t too sure. “That Northern Lights suplex is going to come in handy, it counters the ScRM of Whelan’s and your MMA training should put you in a position to use the move on DeDraca in a heap of ways…”




Dakota smiled, her enthusiasm to training had been a welcome break to Cross.


“That’s true, I’ve got my own version of DeDraca’s Pale Horse too! One thing I’ve noticed though, they’ve both got a Curb Stomp in their arsenal…”




“Good spot, I used to do that move a few years ago but I’d step through from a surfboard position, limited the chance of missing the move. That’s something we should probably go to the tapes for - how often do they miss that move? Do they have a tell or set-up move for it?” Cross was impressed by the observation.




“Perfect time to either sweep the leg for a submission or roll out the way and hit them with a Superman punch!” Jennings pulled her hand back as she said it.




Recoba laughed at how animated she got when talking out her ideas.




“Sounds good, but right now we need to go into what some might call ‘The Dark Arts’ of wrestling…” Cross’ smile went from a genuine smile into a mischievous smirk.




“Huh?” Sometimes he felt he might be too abstract with Dakota.




“All matches have rules to some degrees, but there is always ‘wiggle room’. Everyone can do it but the art is in doing it well. Don’t choke out your opponent right in front of the referee, that’s a moronic way to do it. All that’ll do is mark your card for him to watch you a little closer than everyone else. Now, if you land some ground and pound style punches, the ref comes over and gets you to back off - all you have to do is move your knee across their neck and protest a little and you’ve stolen an edge without the zebra knowing it!”




Cross smiled at one of his favorite underhanded tricks, Dakota wrinkled her nose. He knew that this would be a tough sell in some respects. She’d been described as the ‘girl-next-door’ while he had overheard one of her friends call him an ‘All-American Scumbag’, sometimes the blonde hair came in handy for hiding his actual ethnicity.




Recoba’s mind was brought back to reality when his ringtone went off.




“Lemme guess... Al? What’s going on with you two? You’ve been distracted since your meeting with him last week…” Dakota’s voice was a mixture of teasing and concern.




Cross ignored the call, the acoustics in the gym would amplify anything Costello would tell him, he’d understand.




“Don’t worry about it, it’s business, that’s all. This is more immediately pressing...let's start with some basic ways to bend the rules.”


*****




AL




The years had been good to Alberto Costello, he’d come over with his parents in the forties to America. The grip of Mussolini had taken the best years of his parents’ lives away from them they were determined to give Alberto better.




Life had been a struggle, his parents hopeful of their son gaining a respected occupation in the police. Where they saw his bilingual skills as being able to bridge the gap between their own and Americans he saw something else. On reflection he saw what they couldn’t - his career in business had taken himself, and his parents, to a better life.




His view now was proof of that; he turned four a few weeks after Bugsy caught a hail of bullets. What Siegel had set-up was still paying dividends for men like himself. Cafe Venezia, the scene of this view, had reaped the benefits too. Its founder became one of Al’s closest friends when he had moved here and Costello repaid his friendship with loyalty and advice. As the years had rolled on he’d become a silent partner and godfather to the founder’s son and current owner, Cesare.




He checked his watch, Santino was late even by his own standards. Recoba, while not a godson, was something of a special project to Costello. Even at his tender age, he displayed insight and intelligence that reminded Al that the investment had been worth it. His only fault, the follies of youth.




The door swung open and he saw Vincenzo, a waiter, point towards his table. Cross walked across the dining room swiftly. His hair slightly out of place and at odds with the rest of his appearance. Recoba leant into Vincenzo’s ear and he saw the waiter head towards the bar.




“Welcome, Cross, I trust you’ve come prepared...despite your lateness.” Costello rarely admonished, he had found greater success in letting someone be aware of his disappointment. He suspected that Recoba’s ‘guest’ would be at the root of his tardiness.




Cross brushed the fringe from his face and inhaled deeply.




“Sorry, Al, Dakota…” Cross’ voice stopped as he saw Al’s expression remain unmoved. “I got into the office early this morning to finish off this pitch…” Cross’ voice became more confident and assured away from his personal life.




“Good...so, what is this plan of yours?” Al’s voice remained non-committal, for as much affection as you can feel for someone it would never infringe on his business decisions.




“I ran some numbers on independent wrestling in the United States alone. There are hundreds of companies across the country, that means that there are THOUSANDS of wrestlers competing in them looking to get their shot at the big leagues. Out of those wrestlers, there are maybe only spots for three, maybe, four score of them.” Costello was glad he was focusing on the numbers, it gave someone like himself, who hadn’t followed the sport since champions were promoted on their ethnicity, an easy view to take.




“If you look at who makes it they have a combination or selection of - charisma, ability...but most importantly, the look. If you’re six-foot-plus but still under two-hundred pounds, you’re going nowhere. Genetics can’t be helped though, but through pharmaceutical advances, they can be gamed…” Costello nodded, he could see where this was going.




“WWH is based out of San Diego, but nationwide. The amount of promotional activity in California alone means that it was an easy choice for this project. All of those wrestlers want to be in New York or LA, they’re hubs for them, from the guy who wants to just have a big city life to those who fly all over the world.” Cross had gathered momentum but now was the time to get to the point.




“Are you suggesting a talent agency?” Costello wanted to bring Recoba back on track and the firmness of the question would either lead to an answer or explanation.




“No, we set-up a chemical connection.” Costello frowned at the boldness of the plan, Recoba caught the look and expounded. “From an arm’s length, obviously. We can find a doctor, I know that we can find dozens in our debt. The wrestlers? We get them to do the leg-work, we get them to take on the risk, their payment is a percentage from each deal to set against their debts...I’ve even taken the liberty of identifying targets for that area…”




Costello’s frown had turned to a smile, this plan sounded promising but he wanted to make sure his young charge had covered the obvious bases before impeding further.




“Who do you have in mind?” Costello caught himself buying into the idea more than he intended to let on.




“Firstly, James Piercy - put short, he’s hungry, he’s the self-proclaimed ‘King of the Independents’, and because of his reputation - he travels a lot. What lets him down is his lack of ‘the look’, he’s short on charisma a little too, but it’s mostly the look. What’s on the market these days is continuing to help people like him but most importantly - if we find the right doctor to finger, it’s undetectable and slower to show results. Beating the tests is the big one here. I’ve made enquiries under the pretence of putting on a show at The Sands and worked out that his marker couldn’t be cleared if we took any less than 75% of his booking fees for an entire calendar year…”




“Where do I know his name from though?” Costello knew his brain wasn’t yet playing tricks on him through age, his own physician remarking on both his mental and physical acuity at his last check-up.




“This is the only hitch, he’s dating Lillian Walker - she’s not a network star but she soon will be. Chances are you’ve seen him in the background of some awards show. The hitch becomes less so when you consider that his debts could easily be settled, or at least improved, by her bank balance. That they remain as such suggests that rather than having a disadvantage it becomes an extra string to our bow. I can get out to him in California after the next show.”




Costello felt an internal sigh, Recoba had been back from what the board was told a sabbatical for a month or two, that was a simplistic view of the truth.




“Given the Tebbutt debacle that sent you over the pond, how do we avoid any residual fallout from the issue?” Costello HAD to address this point, from a financial point it would determine how much capital needed to be set aside for influencing authorities, from a reputational view - Recoba couldn’t take a fall, he was too high-profile within The Sands Group for it not to become a question the board might ask.




“Al, listen - I’ll go make the introductions, I’ll find the doctor, I’ll talk to the wrestlers, but at no point will all three parties be in the same room. If I see the wrestlers I’ll do so by seeing them at a show they’re on. ‘Cross Recoba attends local wrestling event’ isn’t much of a headline. The other means of communication will run how we run any other plan - difficult to trace. The Tebbutt situation was unfortunate but she didn’t pay, EVERYONE has to pay what they owe - else we’ll be in the poorhouse. Besides, I’m willing to bet that those in our special book who heard the rumours paid back the money a little quicker than they were intending beforehand!” Recoba smiled, a misjudged expression, but one that took away the severity of his words.




“I’ll be assigning someone to work on this with you, it’s not that I don’t trust your vision, but I’d rather overly safeguard now than have to play damage control later...who is the other target?” Costello saw Recoba’s smile evaporate.




Vincenzo bought Recoba some time to compose himself as he brought over a bottle of Cordero di Montezemolo Barolo Monfalletto and poured two large glasses. Costello smiled his appreciation and in turn received a grateful nod as the waiter made his way back to the kitchen.




Cross took a generous drink from his glass and swallowed heavily before speaking.




“Rob Blake…” The words fell out just above a murmur.




“Sorry?”




“Rob Blake” Cross’ voice this time audible but drenched with remorse.




Costello took the opportunity to take a sip of the rich red wine from his glass thus affording himself time to process what he had just heard.




“As in the Rob Blake that trained you?” Costello had met Blake a handful of times but was aware that he and his friends had been spotted at The Sands more often since Recoba headed to London.




“How deep is he in the hole?” Costello wanted to show concern, for often this business of theirs took you to places where the decisions you didn’t want to make could be found.




“There’s no way to see it other than he HAS to play ball, Al. I can swing down to his place in California when I see Piercy, but…” Al sensed that Recoba had more to say.




“...but he has to pay.” Costello’s words were emotionless but impossible to misconstrue.




*****