In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 24 2022, the Post UltraViolence Media Scrum continues. Housed in one of the Deepak Chopra Stay Well Meeting Rooms in the MGM Grand, a litany of reporters from the wrestling world sit in the gallery, notepads and recorders in hand. From the background, we hear the voice of PRIME Executive Vice President of Media and Technology, Keila La Luz, speaking into a microphone.
Keila La Luz: Up next, PRIME Hall of Famer Brandon Youngblood.
There isn’t much ballyhoo to his entrance, rather, simply walking from the hallway before making his way to the desk centered against a PRIME backdrop. Across the table is black cloth, as well as bundles of paper strewn haphazardly about. Dressed in combat shorts and a Youngblood Diamond muscle tee (fresh off the printers and available on the PRIME-porium. Will you buy it without the threat of having your head kicked off?), the Tower of Babel eases into his seat, reaching to his side for the bottle of water placed on the table. He looks toward the gallery, to the microphone before him. After trying to adjust it on its stand, he simply takes it into his grasp, pondering for a few moments what he wants to say as the flashbulbs start to pop. Squinting, he waits for the pictures to stop before he begins to speak.
Brandon Youngblood: First of all, would like to let everyone know…there’s been no new information on Jon…Jonathan Rhine. Last status update I got from Justine…um…it’s just…it…shakes you up. Shakes you to your core. I know I saw what happened when it happened…thought it was pretty vicious. Uncalled for. But you try to think about it in terms of what we put ourselves through and what we go through…we’re pretty hardened as individuals. We’re people…but we know what we’re signing on for and the longer you do it…you sort of calcify yourself to it in a lot of ways. So I thought, hey, it’s a pretty brutal beating, pretty fucked up…but I tried to put it out of mind because of what was coming up with my own match…selfishly…there’s this visceral reaction to what you see, but when you’ve got a fight coming up, you have to have your mind on that…your head in that space…or you could put yourself in a bad spot.
He rests his elbows on the table, sitting up straight.
Brandon Youngblood: So, and I don’t want to make excuses for myself, for my performance, I got my head on the task at hand, facing Nova…you have to have your mind on him because if you don’t…well…if it ain’t clear from before, it is now…he’s one of the best that’s ever done this…he’s one of the greatest wrestlers PRIME has ever known…and I mean…I’m not shocked. Lots of people might be, but I’m not. So…we have the match, we fight, and then we have the moment after, and it’s just like any show, you know. But then…news started trickling in…Lindsay left the building…it was…and then there was talk from people at ringside with what they saw and what they heard and…
An uncomfortable shift in his seat.
Brandon Youngblood: And that good feeling goes away. Once you hear about all that. What they heard. You look at the angle from that brainbuster and…I don’t know. I know that Jon was rushed into surgery and that’s…never a good sign. But I’m not going to…speak…or conjecture…at this moment. There’s a lot of things up in the air. I know that his family has been notified. I know that Jared and Justine rushed to Sunrise the moment their match was over, and so did Coral. I’m not saying their…masked names…hope they don’t mind. I know Lindsay is there and there’s others from PRIME that are rushing to be there. Nate Colton, um…Tom…Luchador…a few others. This is something…it’s scary.
A shake of the head. He purses his lips, stifles a cough. Or perhaps its a ruse, to lock the emotions he is feeling away, especially with what he is about to say.
Brandon Youngblood: I know one thing…I know Jon is going to be alright. He’s going to be fine. I want him to be fine. But he’s going to be fine. He’s one of the best. Best of our generation. Jonathan is one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen. When it comes down to history…FUSE…SCCW…there’s three people I think of when it comes to showing out as the absolute best. There’s Clinton Sage…there’s Amy Campbell…and there’s Rhine. And he might be the best out of them all…I don’t know. He’s one of the most underrated wrestlers in PRIME history. A former Intense Champion. You got a Colossus main eventer there. And what he was doing as a tag team…I know Jon is going to be alright. He’s somebody I’ve never wrestled. Next year, everything willing, everything in front of us…it’d be nice to square up with him. He’s one of those dream opponents for me I haven’t gotten a chance to compete against and…yeah. He’s going to beat this. I know it. I have faith in it. Yeah…
His eyes are downcast. He looks away. Words of positivity can deceive; his body language tells the real story.
Brandon Youngblood: I know it’s the most important thing on everyone’s mind right now. Just wanted…to get that off my chest from the start, before diving in. Jon is a good man. And he didn’t deserve what happened to him out there. Period. End of discussion. Just need that to be known.
A few steadying breaths, an easing of his posture, and Brandon looks to be ready to move forward.
Keila La Luz: We will move forward in designated order.
From the gallery, a recognizable voice comes from someone who is deeply plugged in to the sport of wrestling, whether it’s the proverbial big leagues or small start ups; Denzel Porter of Breaking Wrestling News.
Denzel Porter: Hello Brandon. Would like to say that everyone here shares your feelings on Jonathan Rhine’s speedy recovery. In regards to Paxton Ray, you’re a locker room leader…what do you see as the overall reaction to what happened and what sort of punishment do you think is necessary given the situation?
Brandon Youngblood: Well…that’s really going to depend on what we learn in the coming days. Um…if I’m honest…I’m not someone who has thrown my weight around here in regards to a lot of things, tried to be a good soldier, but if some of the things…if what I’m thinking might…I don’t want to think…he ain’t welcome here. He’ll never be welcome here. And that’s something I’m willing to fight management on. And I mean that. Sincerely mean that.
The scattered pieces of shaken composure suddenly tighten, his face tightening.
Brandon Youngblood: Paxton Ray is a piece of shit. A fucking disgusting piece of shit. A lot of people…they thought they knew that man. Maybe a little rough around the edges, but that’s wrestling, you know? By all rights he was a man in awful circumstances with what was going on with Nora…we…PRIME…as a family…this past year since coming back, we’ve tried to do our part to help raise as much money as we could for the foundation…to help him and his daughter in her fight against cancer…I know a lot of people were deeply involved with that…no one more than Jon himself. And when we learned that she was in remission…my God. So many people on this roster were overwhelmed. Crying. People you wouldn’t think…crying tears of joy. Because that little girl…she’s a champion. And…to go from that…to divorce yourself from that…
Brandon Youngblood: I don’t know why he did it. I really don’t give a shit. You got a problem with a man, you take it up with them face to face. Talk it out. If you want to fight, we got a goddamn ring…it’s right there. Settle it there. But no. He did that…whatever the fuck that was. You can’t trust that man ever again. How can you? Everything we thought we knew…we really never did. But if it’s…Paxton’s not going to be here. He won’t. Period. And if…well…when Jon is healthy and ready, and if everything goes like we’re all hoping…well then I guess there is a place for him then. So Jon can get his pound of flesh. But I don’t care what excuse that piece of shit tries to spit out there. It’s garbage.
Denzel Porter: Quick follow up; are you advocating for official action from PRIME management in regards to this situation? You’ve been pretty vocal in the past in regards to certain situations you’ve seen in PRIME.
Brandon Youngblood: I guess so. I mean…the ship is pretty lax here. We kind of have to…carve out our own justice as it were. I’m sure he’ll get a fine…a big fine…or some shit. That’s the going rate on this kind of shit, right? You…you try to hurt someone…end their career…office slaps a fine on them. Nothing more. Nothing else. Maybe it’ll be as big as the ones they hit Bathory and Jiles with. And then maybe we can run another night at MSG or whatever the fuck. But then again, maybe they got marketing shit out there so they’ll keep Paxton around. Sure it’d look great to have him mean mugging next to Jon. Maybe put a little white out on Jon’s face as a nice little touch. It’s not like we’re part of our own network or like we can fix poster materials or any of that…
Incredulous, he shrugs his shoulders.
Brandon Youngblood: And what I said is going to piss off Lindsay, but I don’t give a fucking shit. I’ve been here long enough…put my blood into these walls…and I’m going to say what I want to say. Shit like this? Got what they wanted. Situation with Phil Atken? Got what they wanted. When you let it be law of the jungle, your fines are just fucking Monopoly money. Nobody gives a shit. Message sent. You want something bad enough? Take the lowest road. Even though that wouldn’t have flown when she was competing here. And when you fine me, Lindsay, give to Sunrise. Make it worth my fucking time and make sure it goes somewhere it’ll be of some actual good, rather than in the pocket of James Dolan.
After a few moments without follow up, another voice can be heard from the gallery, this one with a pronounced and rough New England accent.
Al Corsa: Al Corsa, Spinebuster Mag–
Brandon Youngblood: Al…sorry…Al…if I sound like I’m pissed off? It’s because I am, alright? And it ain’t you or Denzel, you guys do a great job, I appreciate the work you do, but this is fucking bullshit, alright? One of the family got hurt real bad. And we’re all in a holding pattern. And I’m asking myself why I didn’t hit that fucking ring right then and there. But I’m also sitting here…I’m thinking about Caesar, and seventeen years ago…back when I was a piece of shit…seeing what happened to Jon…it’s like a flashback. And it sticks to you. It sticks to your soul. Now I got damn near two decades of separation from that, and hell, Caesar came back after I tried to break his neck and end his career and he became a goddamn titan. Universal Champion. At the time the longest reigning. Hall of Fame. He went to The Frontier and won the Ultratitle. But we didn’t know any of that was coming that night. And I remember not even caring what I did. And Jon…
Brandon Youngblood: I’m worried. And I’m pissed. And funny enough, none of it’s got to do with losing tonight. Hell…I–
Al Corsa: I actually wanted to segue into that.
Brandon Youngblood: –yeah, I understand. Sorry Al. And sorry, Denzel, if I came off as short. Again, nothing against you guys. I ain’t directed at you. I appreciate you.
Al Corsa: Thanks for clearing that up. We all know things are a bit tense right now–
Brandon Youngblood: But it shouldn’t get in the way of you doing your job–
Al Corsa: Oh, believe me, it’s quite alright.
The Tower of Babel can’t help but chuckle.
Brandon Youngblood: I’m sure it is. I ain’t even thinking right now, just letting it all hang out, so I’m sure I’ve said some stuff that’s going to get me into some hot water, but fuck it. Better to be honest than fake. Better for everyone that way, right?
Al Corsa: Anyways, onto your match with Nova tonight. People pegged it as a dream match. Seventeen years since Colossus II, you guys were just below the main event that night. Two up and coming stars. Today, you’re two of the most recognizable names in company history. At the same time, both of you have been on different paths. You won the Almasy Invitational, became Universal Champion. He’s struggled to find his footing. Is the result tonight shocking to you, given his win changes not only perception but also trajectories pretty dramatically? Do you feel like you underestimated him in any way?
Scratching his bicep, the Hall of Famer is at ease as he begins to answer.
Brandon Youngblood: I mean…I touched on that earlier, Al. Everyone else might be shocked, but I’m not. Maybe some others? Who knows? Look…Caesar…Nova…he’s had his challenges. And, honestly, since I’m letting things fly, fuck the state of Washington. Like…seriously…nonviolent offender, and they used him to try and make an example. So fuck them. But I’m not shocked. Look, there’s two pillars left from that era left. One is doing amazing things with her apparel company. The other one…better left forgotten. It’s me and it’s him that’s left. And let’s be honest, Nova hasn’t been far away from getting that signature win in this era of PRIME. He had…well…he had Knox beat…until Shanahan interfered…so maybe I should thank him for Caes coming out all house of fire? Yeah…thanks Shanahan, you creepy ghoul ass prick…
Another chuckle. This one, however, has venom behind it.
Brandon Youngblood: But seriously…he and Johnny ran through Survivor right until the end. He’s had some bumps in the road, but I’m not shocked. And I’m not going to ever take him lightly or overlook him in the ring. Look…I’m happy for him. It makes my road a lot more complicated to some of the things I want, but I’m happy for him. Again, seventeen years ago…I was a different man…and I tried to ruin his career and his life. And that guilt…that remorse…it never went away. But after tonight, he gave me what I asked. Steel sharpening steel. For the both of us. And I sought him out afterward, and we shared a very personal moment. I let him know how proud I was of him. And…
A pause. His voice quivers.
Brandon Youngblood: Maybe…shit…getting a little emotional here…
Another few coughs. His eyes glass over.
Brandon Youngblood: He forgave me. Truly forgave me. And I could feel myself standing up straighter. For a long time, I hated him. I wanted to be loved like him. Respected like him. And now, I have all that, and so much more…but I never felt I deserved the happiness, you know? The joy in the work. And I’m excited for the future…because I no longer have to carry the weight of that night in Honolulu. We’re both free from that. We’re both free to be our own men and stand as brothers. And I told him I wanted nothing but the best for him and that I love him and that if he ever needs anything…anything…I’m there for him. Maybe we wrestle again. Who knows. It’ll be for the trilogy. And I think neither one of us would be shocked with who comes out with their hand raised in the end. Sorry if I’m rambling…but…I didn’t lose tonight in that ring. I might have been pinned, but I won so much more. I gained a brother for life. And that…that means something in this world.
Barely keeping together, Youngblood wipes the tears from his eyes with his fingers, taking a deep exhale.
Brandon Youngblood: Wow…that felt…so heavy. Sorry…
He tries to once again straighten himself. A wide smile flashes across his face, a genuine warmth enveloping him. And as he composes himself, another voice from the gallery begins to speak.
Bob Carpenter: Bob Carpenter, Ringside Monthly. Obviously, you would have liked to have won tonight. Doing so would have most likely lined you up as the de facto number one contender for the Universal Championship. With this loss tonight, your path toward that goal is made muddy. You said you were happy for Nova, but isn’t there a sense of disappointment to be felt in losing such a close match and probably costing yourself Universal Championship contendership?
A shrug of the shoulders.
Brandon Youngblood: Is what it is.
Bob Carpenter: Especially given this time of year?
Brandon Youngblood: You mean Colossus?
Bob Carpenter: Right.
The wellspring of emotion from earlier? It’s eased back into normal.
Brandon Youngblood: Look, Bob, when I came back to wrestling this time…I didn’t do it in another company. It was PRIME or nothing else. Not because of my place within its history. But because of what this company represents. Number One By Definition. A decade closed, and the doors reopen, and it’s taken off. Top in the industry. The place to be. All metrics through the roof. And it’s a roster filled with the best the sport has to offer. I wanted to be the standard bearer, and pretty much from jump, I’ve been just that. Our rankings, I’ve been in the top spot for the entirety of this year. Won the Almasy. Became Universal Champion. And yeah, it sucks, Bob. Because on my goal sheet, I had main eventing Colossus in bold print and underlined. I know the history. It’s the biggest showdown of the year. It matters. People might say it doesn’t matter who main events Colossus, but it does. And I’ll put my year here against anyone’s…not just now…but in PRIME history, and say I should be at the top of that marquee. Tonight changes things, but whatever. You think most of this roster goes out there against this Nova and gets their hand raised? They’re lying if they think they got better than a fifty-fifty shot. Most of them don’t even have that. Not a slight, just being honest.
Bob Carpenter: If that’s the case, what are your thoughts on Cancer–
Brandon Youngblood: Next question.
Bob Carpenter: –but I mean, Cancer Jiles is now the Universal–
Brandon Youngblood: Look, we’re about making our own justice here, right? Maybe I just show up in Chicago.
Bob Carpenter: Are you saying–
Brandon Youngblood: Read it however you want. They probably could use the ratings bump after their show in Cleveland. I mean, Anglo is going to be there. Then again, maybe I don’t want to chance getting lit on fire. Or shot. Or ending up in a Punisher gimp mask.
Bob Carpenter: So you’re not going to–
Brandon Youngblood: Bob…it’s not my call, alright? That’s on office. And I have my thoughts on all that. But that’s for Lindsay to hear. She’s going to be pissed with what I said earlier, but she’ll live and so will I.
A quick, terse volley.
Bob Carpenter: Thanks, Brandon.
Brandon Youngblood: I know I stepped all over you there, but in reality, there’s a lot bigger things going on in my head than that piece of shit. So, I’m just going to cut that off and move on, if that’s okay?
Bob Carpenter: Sure.
Brandon Youngblood: When something substantive goes down, I’ll give you the interview, alright? Again, sorry, but I just want to move on.
Another voice from the gallery, this one female.
Tami Matsumoto: Tami Matsumoto from Tokyo Sports. Real quick, want to ask, anyone really catch your eye tonight? This evening was quite long, but saw many people show out.
Brandon Youngblood: I mean…yeah. Obviously really happy and proud of what I saw out of Nate Colton and Hayes Hanlon. Both men had unique challenges, Colton with FLAMBERGE…those two it feels like are just loaded with all the potential in the world…thoughts on FLAMBERGE being whatever…I can’t deny the talent. Doesn’t change anything. But…yeah. Hanlon…that Super Massive on Ivan? Jeeeeeesus Christ. Hayes is a hoss. And he’s a lot further along than I think a lot of us expected. I don’t know…Anglo Luchador, finally, he got his piece of Balaam and Hoyt and all that. I think the Winds and the Kings showed why we have the best tag division in the world, even…despite…well…I was shocked by Mephisto beating Daniels. Violent match, anything can happen. But that one left an impression. And Rezin is a damn machine. I’m not going to be shocked if he continues to ascend…Goat Bastard knows no limits. Just…Masters of the Multiverse…there’s a lot of good that happened tonight. It’s just a shame that…well…maybe we forget all about it in a few days. I don’t know. Crazy how things can change so quickly.
From the background, we hear the voice of PRIME Executive Vice President of Media and Technology, Keila La Luz.
Keila La Luz: If there are no further questions…
Brandon Youngblood: Thanks–
Keila La Luz: We’re going to have to deviate from our lineup a bit here. Nate Colton was scheduled to be on next, but he is away at Sunrise Medical Center. In his place will be…this can’t be right…FLAMBERGE?
The sound of shuffled papers can be heard as Keila lowers her own microphone.
Keila La Luz: Who put this together, these two…Kendell, it was Kendell? Are you…are you joking with me right now?
Having risen from his chair, Brandon is as caught off guard by the announcement as Keila is. Shaking his head, he begins to walk away, and as he does, the young French superstar walks in from the hallway. To say that FLAMBERGE isn’t pleased would be an understatement; he sulks his way into view, and while he is well dressed for the occasion, there is an air of confrontation in his manner. It’s been weeks since the events of ReVival 13, and for him, his entire world has changed. The man he had cast his lot with, the man who should be there as his mentor in dealing with the emotion and disappointment in moments such as these, is nowhere to be found. Instead, The Humble Proprietor of the Glue Factory, Phil Atken, is far away, dealing with the aftermath of the brutal beating and debilitating concussion he received at the hands of Julian Bathory and Cancer Jiles. People can question whether the advice of Atken would be helpful at this moment, especially after losing such a close match to a rival like Nate Colton. For whatever it is worth, FLAMBERGE is alone, solitary, and none too pleased about the notion of being poked and prodded with questions in what he’s already convinced himself is a hostile environment.
The presence of the Tower of Babel makes his feelings all the more acute and claustrophobic. This is the closest they’ve been since that night in August. Even with their minds elsewhere in this early morning, such intentions ring hollow as they cross paths. The two lock eyes. It’s near comical, the size disparity. They stop, mere inches from each other. The tension is palpable. Youngblood had threatened he’d put the French super-athlete in the ground, told him he was coming for him and going to put him in a body bag for his part in costing him the Universal Championship. Hell, the only reason FLAMBERGE hadn’t beaten Rezin was thanks to Brandon’s presence, calling out to the referee about the bag of chips and the brick of glue he was going to use to brain the 5 Star Champion. The MGM Grand’s security begins to stand, trying to swarm. The likes of Dametreyus and the Enemigo’s are with Cancer Jiles, ensuring the broken and shattered eGG Bandit didn’t try to high tail it out of the hospital at the first available moment.
PRIME staff tried to do their best in the absence of The Queen of the Ring. Whoever Kendell was, they would have some explaining to do, following Youngblood up with FLAMBERGE. The Tower of Babel broke the silence between the two, his glower intense as he spoke.
Brandon Youngblood: Good match. I ain’t forgotten about you.
That’s all it took.
FLAMBERGE catches Youngblood over the eye with a sharp and vicious elbow, his lanky limbs shooting in a burst of dizzying violence. Before anyone can believe what they just saw, another elbow cuts near the eye of Brandon, who follows up with a powerful shove that almost sends the French star into the gallery. Once he gets his feet, FLAMBERGE launches himself, grabbing Youngblood in a clinch, ready to throw more elbows. He isn’t alone. Brandon hits one of his own, and another, and then, the two begin exchanging elbows, wildly thrown punches. Before security can break it up, Youngblood grabs onto FLAMBERGE and powers him to the floor with a sagging body lock, quickly throwing a bevy of nasty ground and pound dirty elbows into his face. It takes a good twelve security guards descending upon the melee to put an end to things, seven of them yanking Youngblood off FLAMBERGE, the other five pinning the young man to the ground so he can’t retaliate. As they do, the young man begins yelling in his native tongue.
FLAMBERGE: TU ES UNE MERDE! SALAUD JE VAIS TE TUER!
It’s in the separation that we see the damage; blood pours from a cut above Youngblood’s eye, freely flowing down his cheek. Looking at his heavily tattooed elbow, it appears as though he has had a hunk of flesh ripped from it, as though it was bitten off with tremendous force. Pulling him back, Killean Sirrajin enters from the hallway, his massive body acting as a barrier between the Suplex Daddy and the Crown Jewel of the Glue Factory. Brandon’s wild smiles conveys a hungry malice, his eyes wide and intense. As the flashbulbs pop, he is dragged out, exiting stage left.
Once he is gone, we see it wasn’t a hunk taken from Youngblood’s elbow.
It was FLAMBERGE’s blood painted across it.
The young star is wildly flailing, kicking, yelling, roaring.
FLAMBERGE: JE VAIS TE TUER, PUTAIN! TU M’ENTENDS, PUTAIN?!
Given an ounce of freedom, FLAMBERGE quickly stands, and the full effect is visible; blood pours from both his nostrils, as well as from cuts over his lip and his cheek. He reaches for his face, looking at his palms, now stained crimson, and he starts swinging at MGM security. They try to calm him down, but it is no use. As he storms towards the interview table, the security guards separate, hovering but not engaging. FLAMBERGE starts slamming his hands into the table, papers smearing with his blood, all before he starts slamming double hammer fists into the table until it gives way under the pressure of his assault.
FLAMBERGE: FILS DE PUTE, BÂTARD STUPIDE ! COMMENT OSES-TU, PUTAIN?! COMMENT OSES-TU, PUTAIN?!
Not satisfied, FLAMBERGE grabs at the sagging end of the table, muscling it onto its side, and starts throwing fierce kicks into the wood, his shin and foot connecting, over and over, rapid fire, teeing off as if it were a muay thai sparring session. The table breaks into splintered pieces, with FLAMBERGE grabbing the metal base and launching it into the PRIME backdrop. He continues to stalk, absolutely irate, a total mess, ready to kill anyone who dares come close.
FLAMBERGE: ENCULÉ CHAUVE SANS BITE!