CULTURE SHOCK 2022
SURVIVING THE GAME
“To be more than a conqueror. You have to learn to enjoy the pain. If you want to survive the game.”
The PRIME logo flashes repeatedly as “Surviving the Game,” by Skillet grows into heavy metal rumbling, screen transitioning to a flashing Culture Shock ‘22 logo. The music slows, a partition running down the center of the screen. The left side flows through the arenas of Culture Shocks of the past, while the right side pans across the current-day MGM Grand Garden Arena. The images that are to come on either side are somewhere between real-time and slow motion, bodies of PRIME wrestlers moving like they’re under water.
“You can try to defeat me, you don’t know it’s the pain that’ll feed me,
and I’m gonna take back what you took me for.”
Dusk lifts Jonathan Winters at Culture Shock ‘07 left of the partition, dropping him toward the mat for a brainbuster. It rolls into the right screen and into ReVival 3, where Hayes Hanlon takes a German suplex from “The New World Savior,” Julian Bathory
“All the bones that you’re breakin’, you pretend that you’re the one that can save me ,
now I’m takin’ it back, it was never yours.”
Jason Snow thrusts the powerful superkick known as “Snake Eyes” at Culture Shock ‘09, his leg disappearing into the partition. The boot of Impulse enters on the right side colliding with the jaw of Darin Zion at ReVival 1.
“Fightin’ for my focus, give the pain a purpose
Light the fire inside, feel it come alive.”
Center ring, “Your Personal Jesus” Hoyt Williams trades big right hands with “The Bad Dog,” Wade Elliott in 2009. Panning over into the right screen, Garbage Bag Johnny delivers a couple right hands against The Anglo Luchador at ReVival 3.
“Show ’em what I’m made of, victories for the brave ones,
who never bowed a knee when it’s do or die.”
Nitz Donnelly sprints across the ring at Culture Shock ‘08, but runs toward the spinning elbow of “The Underground Pimp,” Tyler Rayne. Before we can see the elbow blast into Donnelly’s face, the two disappear into the partition, where the spinning body of Rezin emerges to connect with a heel kick on Solomon Richards during ReVival 1.
“Ooone moore tiiiime,
SURVIVIN’ THE GAME!”
Missing the super kick known as “Snake Eyes,”, Jason Snow finds himself wrapped up in the clutches of Brandon Youngblood, who heaves him overhead for a German Suplex in 2010. Snow disappears into the partition, and King Blueberry enters on the right, taking a belly-to-belly suplex from Doozer.
“I can be unstoppable! Gonna walk through hell, gonna shake the walls!
Survive, survivin’ the game!”
The Dual Halo. 2009. Danny Ferguson drops off the shoulders of “The InHuman Being,” Tchu, who locks in a sleeper hold. He starts dropping him to the mat for “The Downfall,” but instead we slide into the right screen to see Nova, “The Risen Star,” plant Cancer Jiles with a double-arm DDT at ReVival 3.
“Livin’ the impossible, I’m the champion, indestructible!
Survive! ’cause I’m,
SURVIVIN’ THE GAME!”
At Culture Shock ‘09, “The Murder Show,” Hessian, stands on a table, hoisting Fusenhoff into pile-driver position. He drops, but the image pans to the right to ReVival 2, where John Kennedy Royko Jr. crushes Shawn Warstein to the mat with a cradle piledriver.
“All the liars around me, like the wolves of the walls, they surround me,
in the face of the fear, I keep standin’ tall.”
Devin Shakur bolts across the ring, leaping at Easton Hall and leading with his elbow at Culture Shock ‘08, his body enters the screen’s partition, making way for Teddy Palmer, who collides into the midsection of Anna Daniels with a spear at ReVival 4.
“I come out like a lion, I was born to be demon-defiant,
and I won’t ever let this kingdom fall.”
Lindsay Troy leaps back off the turnbuckle in 2008, corkscrewing through the air on the left panel with “The Crowning Glory”, blending into ReVival 3 and Anna Daniels, finishing her own corkscrew to connect the “Cake or Death” on Nicholas Pfefferman.
“Show ’em what you’re made of, victories for the brave ones,
never bow the knee, ‘cause it’s do or die.”
On the left, Tony “The Grin” Gamble drapes across Nova’s back, just before tilting over for the “Bourbon for Breakfast.” Hayes Hanlon takes over on the right, Dusk across his broad back, tilting and slamming him into the mat with a Death Valley Driver at ReVival 5.
“Ooone moore tiiiime,
2009. High Flyer runs and leaps with a Yakuza kick aimed toward the head of “The Malice Man” Duke Williams. He fades into the partition, bringing us to ReVival 4, where “The Murder Daughter,” Cecilia Ryan drives both knees into Ria Nightshade.
SURVIVIN’ THE GAME!”
The left side highlights Asa ‘Fro’ Fountain, leaping from the top turnbuckle at Culture Shock ‘06 with an elbow aimed at the black heart of Sonny Silver lying on a table, then blends into Cancer Jiles, connecting an elbow drop of his own on Teddy Palmer at ReVival 5.
“I can be unstoppable! Gonna walk through hell, gonna shake the walls!
Survive, survivin’ the game!”
Garbage Bag Johnny crawls to a fallen Jason Snow at the Dual Halo in 2009. He exhaustively holds out an arm to drape across Snow’s chest, reaching into the partition and giving way to the flailing arm of Impulse as “The Last Diamond” Brandon Youngblood smashes him into the mat with a Samoan Drop at the ReVival 5 Main Event.
“Livin’ the impossible, I’m the champion, indestructible!
Survive! ’cause I’m,
SURVIVIN’ THE GAME!”
And then, the music shifts. Skillet trails off as something more aggressive, more powerful, takes over.
The partition fades off the screen as the music from Final Fantasy X hammers in, the two sides merging together to reveal “The Final Fantasy” Seymour Almasy inside an all-but-collapsed steel cage at Culture Shock ‘11. He heaves a lifeless Jacob McKail off his shoulders, and lifts a knee to collide with Jacob’s unprotected face. A smug grin remains across his face as McKail falls awkwardly to the mat.
And then, somewhat eerily, The Final Fantasy looks to the screen, his face softening to a small smile.
Though it’s short lived, as we rush out of frame and into the absolutely raucous MGM Grand Garden Arena, the crowd surging to Almasy’s former entrance music. A quick pan around the arena from the ACE Network cameras show some signs the PRIMEates brought with them to the first supershow of the ReVival Era…
KING BLUEBERRY MUFFIN MAN
THE ICYHOT LUCHADOR
HOYT GAVE ME CROHN’S DISEASE
IT’S GONNA GET MUSSY IN HERE!
PASS ME THE BUNDT, BOBBY DEAN!
LAST DIAMOND = FIRST CHAMP BACK
FUCK CANCER (JILES)
MELVIN ONLY DOES MISSIONARY
I HOPE ALL TWELVE SURVIVOR TEAMS HAVE FUN
I HOPE ELEVEN TEAMS IN SURVIVOR HAVE FUN AND MIKEY UNLIKELY STUBS HIS TOE
MESSIAH HAS MY WIFE
(next to this) EVERYONE HAS HAD HIS WIFE
I AM IN A CULT… NO THE OTHER ONE… NO THE OTHER OTHER ONE
I LIKE GLUE! (But really what’s all this about)
CECILIA RYAN HAS RESTING BITCHFACE
BOOK RIA NIGHTSHADE!
REZIN OWES ME $50
I’M SNS’S DD
(next to it) I AGREE, GO DANGEROUS MIX!
Finally, we’re taken to the Commentation Station where PRIME’s Hall of Fame announcer duo sit, looking dapper as ever.
Nick Stuart: I. Have. Goosebumps. After TWELVE. LONG. YEARS. Welcome BACK – to CULTURE SHOCK!!!
Nick Stuart’s heavy words hang in the air, the MGM crowd bellowing into the rafters. A lightshow of PRIME blue ‘n’ white dances around The Garden.
Richard Parker: What a moment, Nick! I never thought we’d see another one!
Nick Stuart: It’s all here, my friend! Big matches, title shots! The only thing missing? The Dual Halo.
Richard Parker: Maybe in 2023?
Nick Stuart: If you want to ask Lindsay Troy, be my guest. But let’s focus on tonight. Dusk opens us up against Tapioca, and no doubt, Muriel Puddings. We kick off the return of the tag team division with Tag Team Survivor. And the Anglo Luchador looks to cash in a receipt against Balaam, the Mask of Malice after a devastating flogging at ReVival 5!
Richard Parker: On top of that, a Number One Contender’s Match for the Universal Title involving Anna Daniels, Teddy Palmer, Impulse, and Julian Bathory. The FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH FIVE-WAY, with Cecilia Ryan, Shawn Warstein, Hayes Hanlon, Jonathan-Christopher Hall, and Rezin!
Nick Stuart: And in its historic return, The Uni. Versal. Championship. The Tower of Babel, Brandon Youngblood squares up with “COOL” Cancer Jiles to honor the life of Seymour Almasy and cap off the Almasy Invitational Tournament, and ultimately crown our next. Universal Champion. This is BIG, Richard!
Richard Parker: Bet it all on black! Culture Shock is BACK, baby!
A ROYAL WELCOME
Before the cameras cut away from ringside, all the lights in the arena go out, which sends a buzz through the crowd. The buzz swells louder. Cheers and screams begin to mix in, and before long a very familiar clavinet intro to long-time PRIMEates blasts through the MGM Grand Garden Arena’s speakers.
Every fan in attendance who wasn’t already on their feet leaps from their seat. Cell phone screens and camera flashes start illuminating the blackness as Silver and GOLD~! pyro explodes like cannon fire from the stage.
Greasy, slicked down fine
Groovy leather trim
I like the way you hold the road
Mama, it ain’t no sin
Talkin’ ‘bout love
Talkin’ ‘bout love
Lindsay Troy, in a black and blue leather jacket, black tank top, black skinny pants and heeled boots, throws the curtain aside and strides out onto the platform with a roar. She paces back and forth across the stage, hyping the crowd up as she does, this appearance in front of her people long overdue but oh so needed.
Nick Stuart: Here she is! The Lady of the Hour herself! Many of the PRIME Faithful, former employees, and former wrestlers always wondered if this company would have a resurgence and we’re here tonight because of that woman right there….the Queen of the Ring herself, Lindsay Troy.
Richard Parker: I’ve had a lot of things to say about Troy over the years, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone as tough, as accomplished, and as respected as her.
Nick Stuart: And we wouldn’t be sitting here right now without her, Rich. Don’t forget that.
Richard grumbles a bit, but you can tell it’s good-natured.
Troy begins making her way down the ramp, stopping along the way to greet some of the more die-hard fans she remembers from past PRIME shows. She makes her way around the ring, stopping at the announcers booth to say her hellos and well-wishes to Nick and Richard before walking up the steps and entering the ring between the top and middle ropes. Vince Howard hands her his custom blue PRIME microphone, and she gives him a hug in thanks.
“Trampled Underfoot” eventually fades out and the Queen stands amongst her subjects. She looks out amongst the crowd and smiles.
Lindsay Troy: WELCOME….TO CUL….
She stops her welcome as a chant has risen and taken hold through the crowd.
THANK YOU LIND-SAY! *clap clap clapclapclap*
THANK YOU LIND-SAY! *clap clap clapclapclap*
THANK YOU LIND-SAY! *clap clap clapclapclap*
As the appreciation grows in volume, the Queen appears genuinely touched. She looks down at the mat, smirking, shaking her head almost imperceptibly, trying to will the flush from her cheeks.
Lindsay Troy: No, thank you.
Troy looks back up again, that famous smirk of hers still present.
Lindsay Troy: You all wanted this to happen. I’ve said it already, I heard the asks and I saw your pleas. But with a lot of things in my life, it needed to happen at the right time, and there was no more perfect time than last summer to start these plans. I thank you for your patience. I know you wanted to see me out here on ReVival 1, but I wanted these first few shows to be about the talent and not about the person who employs them all. I thank you for your trust and your loyalty, not only to me but to this place … even when it was gone. Even when the times were tough and we had other companies nipping at our heels, trying to knock us from our place at the top of the mountain. We made it through. We made it back. Who else from the old days can say that?
Richard Parker: Nobody, that’s who.
Nick Stuart: Hard to argue with you there, partner.
Lindsay Troy: Tonight we’re bringing the Almasy Invitational to a close. And I could say a lot about the man known professionally as Seymour Almasy, but we’ve got a stacked card and I’d probably be here awhile. So here’s what I’ll say: Seymour…Jason…was the best of us and someone I always strove to be thought of in the same class as. He was as tough in the ring as he was kind, thoughtful and intelligent outside of it. He’s thought about and missed every single day, and it’s my intention to have this tournament become a yearly tradition with the new era of PRIME.
A wave of applause reverberates throughout the Grand Garden Arena at the news.
Lindsay Troy: Now, like I said…we’ve got a stacked card tonight and I think we need to get right to it. I do want to leave you all with two more things: one, you’ll be seeing a lot more of me once this show is over…
Richard Parker: Hoo boy.
Nick Stuart: Not necessarily a bad thing, Richard.
Richard Parker: Who are you kidding, Nick? Playtime’s about to be over for a lot of these hooligans.
Lindsay Troy: And two….it was nice to hear Zeppelin again tonight, but as you all know we’re in the ReVival era. And with the change in the times comes a change in the music. So play me out, Johnny….and WELCOME….TO CULTURE SHOCK!
Lindsay tosses the microphone back to Vince as “Put ‘Em in the Grave” by the Jedi Mind Tricks cues up. She stands center ring for a couple moments more before the scene moves elsewhere.
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE
The camera opens up on the 28th floor of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino. It focuses on Garbage Bag Johnny from behind, pantsless, as he looks in a mirror, holding one of two formal bathrobes in front of his torso. The bathrobe he’s holding is more of a timeless classic, tuxedo-colored number.
Garbage Bag Johnny: The name’s Bond…Garbage Bag Bond.
His wholly inaccurate British accent notwithstanding, the ensemble is probably a lot classier than the second bathrobe, which is made from a comfortable silky material in an even more comfortable button-down flame shirt design. Johnny switches the robes to imagine himself in robe number two.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Oh yeah…welcome to Flavortown!
The sound of a door opening comes from offscreen and the camera whips around to reveal Johnny’s new tag team partner standing in the door frame.
Nova: Hey, Johnny, can you help me drag this practice boulder out of the ele–Jesus H, buddy. Put some pants on!
GBJ, startled at Nova’s interruption, quickly throws the luxury flame-patterned robe over his body to cover himself.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Sorry, dude. I was just getting ready for my date with Muriel later, so keep an eye out for a sock on the doorhandle. Say, you think I should go with this robe or the other one?
Nova: Definitely the one you got on, but we gotta focus on Survivor first. Get dressed and meet me at the elevator.
*STAR WIPE – 28TH FLOOR*
Nova and GBJ (now back in standard attire) are in front of the elevator, both pulling at a large rock that’s wedged between the doors. GBJ tries climbing over the rock to get into the elevator and push from the other side.
Garbage Bag Johnny: How the heck did you get this in here?
Nova: I always tip my luggage porters well.
The elevator is letting out a loud beep now, signifying the doors have been held open way too long.
Nova: Here, let’s try pushing it back in to see if we can get rid of that sound.
Nova pushes the rock, and it looks to clear the opening.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Uh, hey, Nova? I’m pinned here.
The doors start to close and the beeping subsists.
Nova: Don’t worry, I’ll call it back.
*STAR WIPE – FIRST FLOOR*
We cut to the first floor, where we see a pair of men bickering between themselves as they appear to be waiting for the elevator to come back down. Upon closer inspection we soon realize who these men are…the taller man, with his impeccable mutton chops, is none other than Randall Schwartz, and the one looking like he got carded at the bar is Kenny Freeman.
Randall Schwartz: Why can’t we just take the stairs, man? We’re not that far up.
Kenny Freeman: Bro, we’re on the FIFTH floor. I’m saving my leg strength for when we have our challenge. I’m not gonna cramp up pushing a boulder!
Randall just rolls his eyes with a shrug before a shout catches his attention. He and Kenny turn around, just in time to see the elevator doors swing open, and inside it, there’s a yelling rock.
Kenny Freeman: What the hell?
The Rock?: If anyone’s out there, can you help me? I’m stuck back here…if you smell-la-la-la-la-just kidding. It’s Garbage Bag Johnny. Please help. I have a date later.
Randall Schwartz: Look, man. We’re just trying to get to our room. Can’t help you with your rock problem because we got a boulder thing later and Kenny here doesn’t want to cramp up.
Meanwhile, Kenny is trying to maneuver his body around the rock that’s blocking most of the entryway. The elevator starts beeping again as Randall Schwartz realizes that there’s not going to be room for both him and his tag team partner on this trip.
Randall Schwartz: Ah, just my freakin’ luck.
Kenny Freeman: Weren’t you the one who wanted to take the stairs anyway?
Randall Schwartz clenches a fist as Kenny Freeman squeezes into the elevator enough to clear the sensors, stop the beeping and close the doors.
*STAR WIPE – 12TH FLOOR*
The Hollywood Bruvs come from the stairwell, sweating and panting in a way that no real athlete should. Each holds a Starbucks drink in one hand, struggling to catch their breath, when they hear the elevator ding open.
Randall Schwartz: Screw this. I’m taking the stairs.
Schwartz pushes himself out of the elevator again, and he passes the approaching Bruvs as they make their way down the hall from the stairwell door to the elevator bank.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Ah, man. It’s on your foot. Hey? Did you get out of the elevator?
Finally, the winded Bruvs make it to the elevator;
Mikey Unlikely: Who the hell is holding up the elevator!? We’ve been trying to get down here for MINUTES now!
Kendrix: Yea Bruv, Pulleys on the loose innit!?
They find the elevator door open and a giant boulder inside. Mikey does a double take as JFK points to a pair of boots behind the giant rock.
Kendrix: I think there’s someone back there Bruv!
Mikey crouches down and sees the feet as well now.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Hey guys! It’s me Garbage Bag Johnny, Little help? Anyone?
There’s no response to Johnny.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Uhh…guys!? GUYS!?
It’s no use, the Bruvs are gone. They knew they’d be asked to help and scooted out of there as fast as they could. With that, the door closes and GBJ is back off.
*STAR WIPE – 28TH FLOOR*
The elevator doors open again, and in the meantime, Nova has procured a rope and tied it into a lasso.
Nova: You still in there, buddy?
Garbage Bag Johnny: Where else would I go?
Nova: Listen, I went room to room, but none of our tribe mates are around, so I got this lasso. I’m gonna try to pull you out of there.
Nova tosses the lassoed rope into the elevator and the newfangled team manages to work it around the wedged rock. He’s grunting and growling as he pulls at the rock, but nothing much is happening. The rope keeps the elevator door open, though.
Nova: You gotta push.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I am pushing!
The door to the stairwell opens, and Kenny Freeman comes through, the Hollywood Bruvs are behind him, and as they all get to the 28th floor, exhausted from all that climbing, Nova tries recruiting each wrestler to pull as they come through the stairwell door, but nobody’s up for it, not even Randall Schwartz as he pulls up the rear. They all shrug or shake their heads and abandon Nova and Johnny for the comfort of their own rooms.
Nova: Look, Johnny. I think we’re just going to have to hit the emergency button and send you down to the lobby…let the fine people of the Las Vegas Fire Department deal with it.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Wait, what? I’ve got to get out of here tonight! I’ve got a date!
Nova starts rolling up the rope so he can stash it in the elevator and close the door, but before he’s able to reach in, hit the emergency button, and send his tag partner down to the main floor, he’s interrupted by an audible ding. From the next elevator over. Because big Vegas hotels have more than one elevator.
Nova: Hey guys…a little help here? My buddy has a date.
Two men step out of the adjacent elevator: Brock Newbludd and Pat Cassidy, collectively known as the Saturday Night Specials. Each of them is double fisting Ballyhoo Brews. They look at Nova, then each other. Finally, Brock puts a beer down in GBJ’s elevator, and Cassidy hits the emergency button, and sends the elevator back down to the first floor. The Specials head to their room, laughing and shaking their heads.
We cut to elsewhere in the backstage area, specifically the locker room area. Inside, Dusk is sitting on a metal chair. He is leaning back and his eyes are focused upon a television set. On the television set is a clip from years ago, over a decade ago.
For his part, this is clearly a conversation that Seymour Almasy wants no part of. But if the Lost Soul insists, it will be had.
Almasy: Look. I stand by what I told Kensington. Maybe you have history with Pierce. I don’t know, and quite frankly, it’s none of my business. But for someone who claims to be able to take them down…you’re making a bunch of mistakes that a 12 year old who watches this show could tell you. I stand by that statement, because it’s true.
Dusk: I’m sorry, is this the part where I’m supposed to tell you that I’m gonna hit Pierce with one mean Blizzaga? Then, when Aimz isn’t looking I’m gonna hit her with an Armor Break and nail her with a Bio? Of course, I’ll still have Phillip Kennedy, but no worries because I’m gonna bust out my Orichalcon and stab him right in the back. I’m gonna own ‘dem bitches!
Yet, the entire time, Dusk’s face is as serious as he can be as he hammers home the Final Fantasy nickname that Almasy just signified dead.
Dusk: My problem, Seymour, is that you’re not lifting a damn finger to do anything about the Hand! No, you seem content with just letting them run wild and not caring about it. Glad to see that your strategy seems to have worked out in your favor. You get the almighty Desade and Aimz in a tag team match tonight with some mystery partner. Figure out who that person is?
Perhaps to Dusk’s surprise, Almasy…chuckles?
Almasy: Kensington is an entertaining man. Trying to bait me into reacting to this. Believe me…I’ve had time to sit and think about what I’m going to do. Maybe I have a partner, Dusk. Then again, maybe I don’t. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the ass? I go out there and beat them both by myself…
The tape stops playing. In his right hand, Dusk has a remote and he’s paused it on the still of Almasy. A moment passes before there is a knock at the door. Dusk doesn’t move, knowing it is a stagehand.
Stagehand #1: It’s time for your match.
Dusk nods his head. He’s been doing this for thirty years now. There’s no surprises left for him. Instead, he looks at the screen for a moment longer, remembering a time now long gone, a moment lost in time.
As he stands up, dressed for his upcoming match against Tapioca Puddings, he looks at the stagehand who is still standing there.
Stagehand #1: Who is that in the frame with you on the TV?
Dusk doesn’t answer though as he stops in front of him.
Dusk: That man is the reason why we’re here tonight doing this, why the Almasy Tournament was started. Tonight is about him.
The stagehand nods his head.
Stagehand #1: Oh wow. That’s really something.
Dusk simply nods his head.
Dusk: Tonight, my match, it’s dedicated to him. Because he was what made this industry, this sport, this thing that we enjoy so much, truly special.
Dusk lowers his head, before he steps out of the locker room and makes his way to the ring for his upcoming match.
DIPSHITS UNITED INTERNATIONAL
A group of figures congregate around a campfire. Tiki torches dot the surrounding area. Before the night is over, Melvin Beauregard will have to contend with the fact that these torches have been stolen from the poolside patio, because that’s just the sort of shit that happens when you let a mannequin tend the bar. Of course, he will also have to reconcile that a goddamn campfire has been started in the middle of his resort, so maybe the tiki torches really aren’t that much of a problem in the grand scheme of things.
Seven of these figures mill about, while the other five are stationary because they are not people at all. The human-to-replicant spread is the kind of ratio most colleges dream about for their students and faculty, but if this was a university then no one would go here because King Blueberry would be chair of the biology department and Bobby Dean would be running the dining hall, so students would likely spend their time either poisoned or starving. At least the Solid Gold Rock And Roll boys would make music theory interesting, but we don’t offer that as a major, and this school isn’t accredited.
That got off the rails a little bit. Let’s recenter. Where were we again?
Oh, yeah. Dipshits. Campfire. Tiki torches.
In the midst of this nonsense, the Blueberry boy holds a stick full of marshmallows over the fire. A few feet away is a cardboard cutout of Cher to which someone has taped a pair of replica Universal Championship belts.
King Blueberry: Alright, folks. Shit just got real. In a few minutes we’re heading outside to push a big rock, and we need a plan. Now I don’t know if Team Hey-Cool-PRIME-Has-A-Homeless-Tag-Team-Now has a plan, but you can bet that Team Dickpills does, because if there’s one thing I can tell you about Jonathan Rhine is that if that man has a thought about anything then holy shit he will let you know. That guy’s worse than a Facebook vegan.
He draws the stick away from the fire and tries to shake out one of the marshmallows, which is now charred and smoldering. The shake is a little too aggressive, and the marshmallow takes air before landing on the majestic, voluminous perm of cardboard, uhh, Cher.
King Blueberry: That’s probably fine.
It bursts into flames.
Bobby Dean: Awww, can I still eat it?
Doozer: Don’t answer. He’s gonna eat it regardless.
No one responds, as Bobby looks at the burning carcass while licking his lips lavisciously.
King Blueberry: Anywho, floor’s open. Who’s got ideas?
Near the back of the group, Nate Colton develops a sudden interest in his feet.
King Blueberry: I swear to god, if I have to start calling on people like we’re checking homework…
He begins waving his marshmallow stick around like a conductor, pointing at each person nearby in turn. As he does, a blob of molten marshmallow flies from the end and lands across the ample, buxom chest of Charity. Beside her, half the face of cardboard Cher has burned away.
Bobby’s attention is now focused on the new smoldering marshmallow, but he’s not the only one, as Super Cool Guy gazes at his love interest so intensely he hasn’t even blinked this whole time. The two men are probably staring for completely different reasons, but that’s not for us to say. Bobby licks his lips once more, but is suddenly smacked on the back of the head by his fellow Bandit and neighbor, The Dooze.
Doozer: No! Bad Bobby!
Figuring there was no better time to bring some sense into the situation, one of the Nates finally speaks up.
Nate Colton: Well…
The young superstar looks at the somehow-and-most-likely-self-appointed leader of Team Delta Upsilon Iota, and suddenly finds himself the target of King Blueberry’s full attention. It’s very unnerving, and he quickly tries to look at someone else. Unfortunately, everywhere else he tries to look is somehow worse.
Nate Colton: It’s a safe bet that the other teams are going to try to mess with us. It might be a good idea for one or two of us to play defense, keeping eyes and ears open for when that happens.
The Blueberry strokes his chin thoughtfully.
King Blueberry: Hrm. Good point, good point. Alright, Colton – it’s Nate, yeah? – consider yourself our official taze-man.
He reaches to his waist, where a stun gun is clasped to a belt like he’s Darth Goddamn Vader. He unhooks the weapon, and tosses it lightly towards Colton.
King Blueberry: Knock yourself out. Or, not. Preferably someone else. Someone else would be cool. Bonus points if that someone else is also on one of the opposing teams. Capiche?
Nate fumbles the catch a bit, then becomes even more concerned when he realizes what he has in his hands. He certainly didn’t expect to have a taser thrown at him (lol, newb.)
Nate Colton: I’m really not comfor–
Bobby Dean: So if Nater-tot over here gets a taser, what do I get?
Nate Colton: Here, you can hav–
Everyone Around the Campfire: NO!
Doozer: Please don’t give him that, please. I cannot say please enough, but yeah, please don’t do that. Pretty please.
Bobby’s hopeful look slowly evaporates as his smile turns upside down. Suddenly a large bag of giant marshmallows lands in his lap, and his eyes go wide. Looking up he sees King Blueberry with his arm extended, after having just thrown the bag across the empty space between the two. Blueberry smiles, and offers a wink to the now happy big man, as the big man begins to stuff his cheeks full of the gooey goodness like a chipmunk with nuts.
Bobby Dean: Th..k jew…
The Boston Bruiser known as Doozer shoots King Blueberry a mostly menacing, with a hint of jealousy, glare. His left nostril and eye twitch simultaneously, as his face turns red and a vein in his forehead becomes visible. Unable to control the oncoming outburst, the old man stops trying and jumps up to his feet, garnering the attention of all those around him… well, kinda… cuz… y’know…
Doozer: First off, spit that shit out.
He barks, while pointing an angry finger at his fat friend. Bobby just looks up at him like a sad, little kid, hoping his puppy dog face will somehow reverse Doozer’s directive.
Bobby drops his head and opens his mouth, letting the disgusting mix of saliva and half chewed marshmallows drip out of his pie hole. Blueberry has to look away after being pretty sure that he saw a tear fall down shortly after the thick, sugary, spitlike substance.
The Elder Bandit grimaces at the sight of his pathetic partner before turning to address the others encircling the campfire.
Doozer: Hear me now!
He bellows, sending those slumping around the fire into perfectly postured pupils. Filmix squints, then deadpans…
Nathan Filmix: Is the fire speaking to us now?
Trent Sadikaj: Are we the Ninja Turtles or something?
Doozer: Shut up.
Trent Sadikaj: Don’t remember Splinter being so rude, but I’m sorry.
Pretending he didn’t hear the latest Canadian quip, The Old Bull redirects his focus back to the group.
Doozer: Look, fellas. It’s pretty clear that no one is expecting any of us to survive this contest. From Team 80’s Canadian Pornstars, to the literally and theoretically handicapped Blue Crew-
King Blueberry raises a finger in objection, only to catch Bobby shooting him a look of “don’t, it’ll only get worse” and quickly lower it.
Doozer: Not to mention, I’ve got to push TWO boulders down the strip.
He shoots Bobby a glare so strong, Dean doesn’t even need to look up to know it’s happening.
Doozer: To be honest, the only team worth worrying about in our tribe consists of these two lamers named Nathan.
The Honourable Dooze gestures forward Filmix and Colton.
Doozer: No offense.
They both shrug, realizing there’s no point in responding any other way.
Doozer: Which means we should all vote them out, when the time comes.
Both Colton and Filmix throw their hands up, looking cross at the standing Bandit.
Both Nates: What the-
Doozer: You idiots want to argue how you’re more useless than any other team you’re lookin at?
They simultaneously shake their heads and settle back down.
Doozer: So yeah, we’re the underdogs. And that’s putting it nicely.
You can almost feel the collective morale dropping with each word.
The Bostonian raises a pointer finger to the sky.
Doozer: Underdogs CAN win. And for those of you who know the story, just before one of the biggest examples of an underdog pulling it off, their coach said to them… and if any of you go into this contest with anything in your little peabrains, please let it be this…
He waits for all eyes to be on him, or at least close as a few are still wondering where he is..
Doozer: FULL EYES AND CLEAR HEARTS CAN’T LOSE!
Blueberry jumps up, pumping his fist into the air. The Canadians look teared up. Bobby, however, cowers while cautiously raising a hand.
Bobby Dean: Uh, Doozy? Buddy? Don’t you mean clear eye-
An open hand shoots in front of Dean’s chubby face.
Doozer: One more word from you, and I’ll do the whole fed a favor and cut that tongue out of your mouth.
Bobby’s head falls again, while he mumbles…
Bobby Dean: I could still use one of those text to voice things-
Doozer: Those won’t bring your sense of taste back.
Bob’s eyes nearly pop out of their respective sockets as the rest of the group gasps.
Bobby Dean: YOU MONSTER!
The Dooze finally cracks a smile.
Doozer: Save that energy for the boulder. Let’s go, freaks.
DUSK vs. TAPIOCA PUDDINGS
♪ Ooooh whoo hoo hoo! ♪
The upbeat, synthesizer-driven tune of “Friends With P.” by the Rentals hits the speakers, signaling the entrance of the Puddings clan.
Nick Stuart: And here we go with our first match of the night, Richard! According to Twitter, it seems that Tapioca has spent most of this week buried up to his neck in mud as a punishment for saying some very unsavory things about his sister.
Richard Parker: I felt he was too easy on her, to be honest. This pale ball of pathetic really needs to position a piano over her head and drop it one day.
A smattering of cheers pulsate across the MGM Grand as the redhead emerges from behind the curtain, giving a polite wave and an unattractive grin. He reluctantly starts his march to the ring as the audience begins to grow louder for the emergence of Muriel. Wearing a size XXXL t-shirt with the bottom altered to look similar to a tennis skirt, the camera gets a close up to read the graphic displayed on it. It’s a Big Dogs “I LIVE AT THE CORNER OF BITE ME BLVD and NO FRICKIN WAY,” one of the vintage classics from the husky-oriented consumer.
Richard Parker: Oh, good. She brought her butter knife with her.
While always brandishing a weapon to make sure her brother doesn’t turn tail and run, it seems to be unnecessary this evening. After almost having his entire body atrophy in a makeshift grave, he’s actually happy to be here.
♪ If you’re friends with P., well then you’re friends with me. ♪
♪ If you’re down with P., well then you’re down with me. ♪
Vince Howard: This opening contest, is scheduled for one fall with a twenty-minute time limit! Accompanied by his sister Muriel and hailing from Chubbuck, Idaho, he weighs in at one-hundred and seventy pounds… TAPIOCA PUDDINGS!
The two eventually make their way to the ring, with Muriel taking her position over in the corner and giving Richard Parker the universal sign for cunnilingus.
‘Stronger’ by Kanye West rips through the MGM Grand Arena, much to Lindsay Troy’s chagrin.
So much for “new entrance music at Culture Shock,” CRAIG.
No matter. The PRIMEates start chanting anyway.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
From the backstage area emerges the man himself, Dusk. He stands at the top of the ramp as the fans cheer him on and chant his name. He has on a pair of white pants with black stripes on them with Dusk running down the outside of both legs. He wears a long black trench coat as well. He methodically makes his way down the ramp, slapping the hands of fans on his way to the ring, before he slides in under the bottom rope.
Vince Howard: His opponent…hailing from Los Angeles, California…weighing in at two-hundred twenty-five pounds…he is a former Intense Champion…DUSSSK!
The elder statesman of PRIME makes his way over to an unoccupied corner, makes his way up to the middle turnbuckle, and holds his arms out as the fans continue to chant his name. He hops off the middle turnbuckle and removes his trenchcoat before handing it over the top rope to a ringside attendant before slamming his forearms into his chest and making his way to his corner of the ring.
Referee Elvis Nixon calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And here we go! The opening match of the first pay-per-view extravaganza of the new PRIME–
Richard Parker: Two goobers playing patty cake.
Nick Stuart: –Oh would you stop?
Richard Parker: Let’s call it what it is, Nick. The economy is rough right now, okay? Gas is seventeen dollars a gallon. Small children are having to work in mine shafts that could collapse at any time to be breadwinners for their families–
Nick Stuart: A great disparity in experience on display here. Dusk is as seasoned as they come.
Richard Parker: As are his artificial hips…
Nick Stuart: And Tapioca Puddings, well…
Richard Parker: Yeah, that’s right Nick. Spin this one. Go on. Tell me how excited you are to see Tapioca Puddings grapple at the morgue.
Nick Stuart: You never know what you may see in PRIME. Bigger upsets have happened.
While the commentary team is doing what they have done for so long, Dusk and Tapioca draw near to each other. The size disparity is evident. Dusk towers over poor Tapioca by over half a foot, and while the much older and greyer veteran might not be in his physical peak, his build still dwarfs that of his opponent. If anything, Dusk might pass for the sprier of the two, given how pale Tapioca is. The fans are cheering; after all, Dusk has his distinguished loveable quality, and then you have the sympathy element behind Puddings. And if there was any other reason, it would be Muriel Puddings, Crush Limbaugh herself, swinging around a t-shirt cannon and launching items into the crowd.
Perhaps the cheering is more noise as a result of this, as the Barbeque Bae isn’t launching licensed PRIME merchandise…but rather…bootlegged long johns emblazoned with the visages of an inebriated Garbage Bag Johnny.
Richard Parker: Oh, look at the lovebird…
It’s hard to tell if there is sincerity or disgust in Richard’s voice.
Dusk takes in the scene, looking side to side, smirking. Tapioca merely uses his forearm to wipe the snot away from his runny nose. Getting in position, the seasoned vet steps back, extending his hands, looking for a Greco-Roman knuckle lock, mouthing so that only his opponent can hear him ‘Show me what you got, kid’.
Nick Stuart: Dusk looking to test the elementary wrestling skills of his opponent here.
Richard Stuart: With someone who looks like they walked right out of one. Should get him on some offender lists outside of Florida.
Tapioca takes a few tepid steps forward, looking at his hands for a moment, giving an exaggerated gulp that is visible up in the nose bleeds. A fervent shaking of his head is quickly followed with Tapioca locking hands with the former Intense Champion. Dusk plants with his heels, ready to brace, but in doing so, Tapioca begins to wildly stumble backward, nearly losing his balance. As easy as it would be to bully the poor kid, a part of Dusk had no interest in doing so…instead wanting to do what people in his support structure should have done before throwing him to the wolves. Easing up, he merely tries to test his arm strength. Tapioca shakes like a twig as he musters every last bit of his strength to do something, anything, but after a few uncomfortable seconds, Dusk, with very little effort, is winning the exchange, Pudding’s arms completely to his waist, stamping across the ring as though he is walking on hot coals as he begins to whine.
Nick Stuart: Dusk utilizing his technical advantage in the early going here…
Richard Parker: He’s dancing like a maniac! And that whine! It’s like I’m listening to the dying cries of a bird…probably the one from those damn Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials
Muriel takes time out from her busy schedule of launching unwanted (save for those with certain discerning tastes) undergarments into the crowd (once the GBJ long johns ran out, she followed it up with sizeable granny style panties with Nova’s face centered in the front, as well as ‘Fighting for NORAD’ bibs that were sure to get a cease and desist from one Shweta Kallemullah) to start smacking the ring apron canvas, shouting at her brother to hurry up and get the win because she needed to ‘make sure her leg hairs were well groomed and stubbly before her big date’ later on in the evening. Tapioca shoots a look to her, absolutely mortified, because he knows what this means and it probably involves getting an eye full from the passenger seat of a Monster Truck. Nobody needs that in their life. He tries to fight, but after a moment of trying, he gives up, his whining growing all the worse.
Richard Parker: Oh geez he looks like he’s going to cry…
This is worse than Dusk could imagine. He lets go of the Greco-Roman knuckle lock, grabbing hold of a side headlock. There is no malice in his movements, no sudden snap, just a slight pressure. For Tapioca, it may as well be a beartrap. His feet once again stamp about the mat, his arms flailing wildly. Dusk, sighing to himself, transitions to a hammerlock, the initial movement almost lifting poor Tapioca off his feet.
Nick Stuart: You can tell Dusk isn’t trying to hurt him, but if Tapioca doesn’t start getting the idea that he’s in a wrestling match, he may as well just lay down.
Richard Parker: Dusk should have already pulverized him. You see how loose these holds are?
Nick Stuart: Tapioca has been pushed around most of his life, by all accounts. What does bullying him in the ring prove to anyone?
Richard Parker: The ring isn’t a place for the meek and mild!
With a slight wrench upward of the hammerlock, Dusk’s strength is all the more apparent. ‘You got to give some fight, kid,’ the former Intense Champion coaches, but rather than get a burst of wrestling displayed, Tapioca charges forward and grabs hold of the ropes with his free hand, then wrapping his arm over it, and then using his legs to do the same. Anything to get away. Referee Elvis Nixon begins to count for the rope break, but Dusk lets go instantly. Puddings, without the weight to brace against, falls to the canvas with a crash. He scrambles to his feet, his back against the ropes, his hands going for his hair. He wants to be anywhere but here. Dusk snatches him in a collar and elbow tie up, pulling him from the side of the ring to the center, now insistent in dragging something out of the much younger wrestler.
Muriel Puddings: …And I’m gonna be McLovin it as he gets me that secret sauce…
This statement cuts through Tapioca’s world like a knife. The leverage, the pressure, the size, all Tapioca can do is cry for help as there is nothing he can do. The world is closing in on him. What did he do to deserve this? Where was Ernest to save the day? And just like that, Tapioca Puddings caught Dusk in a magnificent armdrag takeover, shocking in how crisp it is, so much so that Dusk, on the rebound, stumbles back onto his butt. His eyes are wide. And after a moment, he begins to clap. And smile. The fans loudly cheer. Tapioca, huffing and puffing, looks at the crowd in shock. What just happened? Muriel isn’t paying attention, she’s too busy sauntering around the ring, flaunting her Big Dog dress to realize that, for a brief moment, her brother showed he belonged in the ring.
Nick Stuart: Oh what an armdrag by Tapioca there! And Dusk is smiling! He’s getting to his feet and smiling!
Richard Parker: Wait wait wait…woah…
Dusk makes his way back over to Tapioca, who is looking at his hands like they’re made of magic. Another collar and elbow tie up happens, and this time, as if fueled by the power of some wrestling deity, Tapioca fires off another arm drag. Muriel misses this one too. The former Intense Champion picks himself up, smile on his face, but this time, when he goes in for the collar and elbow tie up, he switches it up, and before falling for another quick armdrag from the shockingly competent Tapioca, locks his own hips, and tosses him with a hip toss. The velocity launches Tapioca across the ring, causing him to scurry to the outside, where he bumps into his own sauntering sister, who completely bowls him over as if he isn’t even there.
Nick Stuart: We might have a wrestling match breaking out here!
Richard Parker: Or something oozing from a trailer park.
Crush Limbaugh herself can’t help but look at her own brother and hiss, looking down at her Big Dogs dress to make sure there aren’t any more stains on it because thirty eight would be just too much for the Doré Debutant. She scoops him up and rolls him back into the ring, where Dusk gives him enough space to get back up. That said, once he does, he strikes forward, grabbing onto Tapioca and slamming him to the canvas with a quick spinebuster, and the cover.
FOOT ON THE ROPES
But that one is a result of Muriel perching her brother’s foot on the bottom rope. Fun as it is, he still has a match to win, and Tapoica had shown him enough so he wouldn’t feel bad in increasing the intensity. He grabs hold of Tapioca and raises him to his feet, only to get a forearm to his breadbasket as a result. The blow briefly takes the wind from the former Intense Champion’s sails, but there is no follow up, and as he stands fully upright, Tapioca is standing there, hands up, ‘I’m so sorry Mr. Dusk, I didn’t mean to, it’s just that…’
‘Don’t sweat it,’ Dusk responds before hitting Tapioca with a kitchen sink side knee. The wind leaves the other man’s sails. A quick russian legsweep follows, but before going for another pin, Dusk gets hold of a waistlock from behind, nailing a german suplex.
This one happens without the interference of Muriel, who Elvis is glowering down as she tries to do…something…probably illegal with the t-shirt cannon.
Nick Stuart: This is what we expect from an opening match. And we are seeing a story play out here…David vs. Goliath…
Richard Parker: Oh come on–
Nick Stuart: As this match progresses, we’re seeing more from Tapioca, but also, Dusk is firing on all cylinders. He’s made the comment how he wants to win the 5 Star Championship soon, and to do so, he’s going to have to be as impressive as he’s starting to show here.
Muriel is done messing around with the t-shirt cannon, and instead is staggering about the ring, taking a swig from a flask that she had retrieved from her own Nova panties (the horror). Tapioca cries out as he reaches for his neck, reaching for the ropes to get back to his feet, and once he does, Dusk grabs hold of him, looking to get another german suplex. In complete wild panic, Tapioca bites at Dusk’s bicep, doing whatever it takes to get free.
Richard Parker: That boy is rabid!
Nick Stuart: Elvis Nixon admonishing–
Richard Parker: That boy got Idaho Nathan Rabies!
Dusk lets go, shaking his arm, shocked at what has just happened. Tapioca tries begging off, tries profusely apologizing, knowing he’s crossed the line. The forearm smash from Dusk is quick, as is another, and another. This isn’t bullying. In fact, this is how it needs to happen. In a flash, he strikes.
Nick Stuart: Oh what a Superkick by Dusk!
Richard Parker: That kid went sailing out of his boots.
Nick Stuart: And out of the ring!
The excitable Nick Stuart isn’t wrong; Tapioca Puddings was crushed with a brutal Superkick, but what saves him is how the momentum of the fall to the mat causes his frame to fall to the outside from underneath the bottom rope. Muriel isn’t there to ‘help’ this time, instead seeming to have gotten money from someone in the front row to do armpit farts. She’s laughing. She’s having the time of her life. Her brother? Trying desperately to pick up his shattered jaw.
Nick Stuart: Dusk following to the outside, and Muriel is getting close…
Richard Parker: Is she going to hit him with a slipper?
In fact, she is, until he turns around, and in so doing, causes the former Chubbuck Spud Princess beauty Pageant winner to yelp and have her object fly into the crowd. She’s far more pissed at the idea of not getting at least a few Lincolns before parting with it. The momentary distraction IS enough for Tapioca to regain some of his grey matter, launching onto Dusk’s shoulders with a sloppy leg scissors, but he can’t bring the former Intense Champion over with the move, and instead, Dusk powerbombs the poor kid onto the mats in defense. The camera quickly shoots to a part of the arena where some people with Baby Dusk dolls with their hair spray painted grey having a grand ole time.
Tapioca arches his back off the outside mats and begins screaming, pounding his feet, mewling. ‘Sorry,’ Dusk mouths, grabbing hold of him, rolling him back into the ring, only for Tapioca to just keep rolling and rolling until he nearly spills out of the other side. Grabbing the ropes to pulling himself up in a way that can only be described as utterly drunk, Tapioca is quickly back on the defensive, having to throw an overhand chop with very little in the direction of Dusk. Another. And another. The blows have something on them, but not enough to bring Dusk to a full stop. He rushes in, grabbing hold, and swings Tapioca overhead with a Northern Lights Suplex.
Nick Stuart: Muriel putting her brother’s foot back on the ropes!
Richard Parker: Maybe she wants him to die in there. Cold. But fair.
Staggering away from Dusk, Tapioca stumbles, falls back down, only to try again, stumbling, falling to his knee, then his back. At this point, this is a mercy killing. Dusk loads up on the other side of the ring, ready to hit another Super Kick. He has Tapioca in his sights, ready to do what has to be done. Poor kid. Didn’t stand a chance. Tapioca is hanging on by a thread as he staggers back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Muriel!
Richard Parker: Oh God no!
The Armpit Farting Maven is on the ring apron. Even more concerning? She’s gotten hold of Elvis Nixon and turned him off course with an open mouth lip lock. As Elvis Nixon flails to free himself from the horrors that are currently happening within his mouth hole and considering what rule violations he can disqualify Tapioca for, inside the ring, Dusk crumbles straight to the mat as if a train just drove straight through him. A jelly-legged Tapioca eyes light up in terror as he sees a seven foot monster of a man hoist Dusk up and drill his skull almost through the entire damn ring with a Choke Bomb.
Nick Stuart: What was that! WHO WAS THAT?
The tall brute looks over to the stunned Tapioca and instead of assuming he’ll get the message, he body slams the poor child onto top of the PRIME veteran and slides out of the ring. Muriel quickly frees Elvis Nixon from his prison and as he turns around to very much disqualify Tapioca Puddings, he is completely stunned by the fact Tapioca is making a cover and forgets everything that just happened, dropping down for the count.
Richard Parker: Elvis Nixon’s going to be billing Lindsay Troy for therapy sessions for eternity after this one.
Nick Stuart: That’s your observation on what just happened? Nixon is counting! Nixon is counting!
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Oh you have to be kidding me!
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…TAPIOCA! PUUUUUUDDINGS!
Instead of giving her sibling an opportunity to experience any enjoyment in his life, Muriel grabs Tapioca and drags him out of the ring, heading with urgency to fire off much more devious merchandise wherever she chooses to roam in the MGM Grand.
Meanwhile in the ring, Dusk is starting to come to and from his facial expression and is entirely uncertain about the events that have just unfurled. As the PRIME veteran tries to get his bearings, he is kicked full force directly in the gut by a rather pointy and shiny black wing tipped shoe. He gasps for air but can’t quite fill his lungs before another gut kick hits him full force. Elvis Nixon isn’t aware of the in ring action to call for support, still trying to purge his mouth from the crimes that have been performed there.
Nick Stuart: This is ridiculous, first Dusk has to go through the humiliation of having a recorded loss to Tapioca Puddings in the ring and now this…
Richard Parker: Dusk only has himself to blame, he wanted to play the good guy when he could’ve ended this match in seconds. He allowed this to get dragged out long enough for a seven foot man to murder his soul.
The Baby Dusk Doll legion are making many angry mouth noises towards the ring as the camera pans up to see a man neatly attired in a burgundy three piece suit continue to kick the shit out of Dusk, looking entirely disgusted through the process. The shoe assault comes to a halt as the seven foot figure hands off a microphone to the besuited gentleman. He takes a few steps away from the former Intense Champion as turns towards the furious crowd, a gentle smirk on his face.
Besuited Gentleman: None of you know who I am, do you? That’s okay, none of the boys in the back would remember me either and there’s quite a few of them who just LOVED to make a mockery of me back in the day.
As Dusk’s assaulter comes into action, we see an older looking man, still quite muscular for his age but certainly suffering from a degree of senior sag. A tuft of what was once golden hair, now a mixture of grays and whites, is swooshed atop his hairline. To his side, the 7 footer, dressed in a no-nonsense black turtleneck and matching slacks, his bald head blinding some of the fans who bought tickets in the seventh row.
Besuited Gentleman: My name is Philip Martin Atken, the humble proprietor of PRIME Wrestling’s newest business partner, The Glue Factory. The man to my side is my LOYAL Chief of Security, a man who will only accept being referred to as Hank. I don’t know the back story, and quite frankly, I don’t care.
Dusk starts showing signs of movement, crawling towards the man now identified as Phil Atken. Atken drops the microphone for a few seconds, his salesman smile quickly dropping into a snarl as he drills another kick right into Dusk, this time aiming to break a few ribs given the force and aim.
Phil Atken: Ten years ago, I stepped away from the wrestling industry with a record that was… muddy… to say the least. I found new avenues, new interests, new skills. I lived a happy life. Not a rockstar life, not the life of a wrestling legend, but I was comfortable. I’d made my peace in life, I’d found my bliss. Yet, this company… PRIME… it could’ve come back swinging. A nirvana for the young and hungry looking to get their foot in the door of the industry that I love. Instead, a parade of the same kinds of people, and in some cases, the EXACT people, who ruined my passion for this business… they decided they were going to mock, mitigate and hold down the new generation of talent. One last ride for the glory whores. It’s disgusting. They disgust me. So, I decided that perhaps I needed to build up a partnership with PRIME and the MGM Grand…
Dusk manages to crawl over to Atken and begins clawing away at his legs, clearly indicating he still has fight in him. Atken doesn’t even bother dropping the microphone this time, instead just nodding to his Chief of Security, who hoists Dusk up for a second Choke Bomb.
Phil Atken: Sorry about that, some of our raw materials are rather difficult to mold…
The salesman’s smile quickly returns to Atken as Dusk shows zero signs of life.
Phil Atken: The Glue Factory is proud to announce our first collaboration with PRIME. For those of you looking for that perfect sticky substance to support your crafts just after sunset… we are DELIGHTED to bring you… Civil Dusk. A perfect blend of yellow and blue. We’ll have it in the merchandise stalls real soon.
The boos in the crowd are still very pleasant, but perhaps more dampened than the original fury, likely out of confusion of what the MGM Grand PRIME gang just witnessed. Phil Atken flips the microphone to the ground, his Chief of Security opening the ring ropes for him. The camera pans back to the knocked out Dusk one more time before it cuts to the legendary announce team of Nick Stuart and Richard Parker.
Nick Stuart: For weeks now, we’ve been told the Glue Factory is coming to PRIME and now we discover…
Richard Parker: I have no idea what we just discovered and I saw it all. I was here. I saw everything that just happened with my own eyes. What the hell is going on?
The camera fades out of the scene as the crowd try to cheer Dusk on in getting back to his feet after the assault from Phil Atken and his Chief of Security.
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A, UHHHH…..
Culture Shock returns from its commercial break to find two somewhat unfamiliar men standing in front of a podium, shoulder-to-shoulder. One man, a small wiry man with a ridiculous topknot, wears an outfit that wouldn’t have been out of place on an episode of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. His tank top is too short, exposing his midriff. He wears one elbow-length fingerless glove on his left arm, and he wears black leather pants so shiny that you could see the reflection of the cameraman in them should one look hard enough.
The other man, huge by comparison to the ridiculous man standing next to him, is dressed in a wrestling singlet. He looks more than a little unhappy.
Joe Fontaine: Alright, is everyone here? Is that everyone? Hello? Is this thing on?
Joe taps the microphone, and it lets out a wickedly loud screech from the feedback. Joe hurriedly attempts to squelch before it really pierces the ears of everyone in the room. Once the horrible sound is squelched, the man known as “Tempest” Joe Fontaine of the Winds of Change clears his throat, and speaks.
Joe Fontaine: Yes, hello! Hi! I’m Joe, this is Sid, and we’re the Winds of Change! Whoo!
He waits for applause that doesn’t come, even after he raises his arms in celebration of at least getting their names right. His tag team partner, “Riot” Sid Phillips, rolls his eyes, his arms crossed in front of his large chest.
Sid Phillips: I can’t believe you called this meeting, and people showed up.
Joe Fontaine: Yes, well, it was important to gather together the great forces of Team VIAGRA!
No, Joe and Sid were not Team VIAGRA, nor were they summoning them through some sort of dark ritual. That would be ridiculous. No, they were part of the Survivor tribe based on Team VIAGRA. It’s different.
In the room, seated before them in varying states of not wanting to be there, are many other people. Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Vickie Hall, who seem more interested in one another’s eyes than in anything Joe is trying to say or do. Darin Zion, Jonathan-Christopher’s tag team partner, sits next to them staring at his cell phone and also not paying attention to Joe. One gets the impression that the moment Joe says anything dumb, he’ll get very loud. So, any second now.
David Fox and Mushigihara, the Dangerous Mix, sit towards the back. Both of them are equal parts amused and bemused, just a lot of musing going on. But both of them stared at Joe, who stands oblivious to their staring and their musing. Meanwhile, Jonathan Rhine and Paxton Ray of the Fighting For Nora Foundation had evidently joined late, and were just coming into the room.
As Rhine addresses his tribemates, Paxton starts to lumber over to the nearest empty chair, which so happens to be near the Dangerous Mix. Without prompt, Mushi seems to push said chair out from under the table, grabbing it and swinging it around just enough to leave it open for Paxton Ray, to whom he gestures with an upturned palm, as if to say “it’s all yours.” With a grateful and respectful nod, Paxton takes his seat, before the two brutes stare into each other’s eyes before nodding in unison and turning their focus to the Winds of Change up front.
Jonathan Rhine: Sorry, guys. Last minute big donation.
Joe Fontaine: Is cool, my dude. Have a seat! Kick up your feet! Uh, but anyway, I went ahead and called for the first official meeting of Tribe Team VIAGRA, because guys. Listen. I’ve got a plan to help our tribe succeed. Hear me out. Okay?
Meanwhile, Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall brush each other’s hair and hold their partner closely. Zion continues texting.
Sid Phillips: How come I hadn’t heard this plan before you got up on the podium?
Joe Fontaine: Hey, don’t worry about it. I got this.
Sid throws his arms up in frustration, but allows Joe to talk. Rookie mistake.
Joe Fontaine: Alright! So, tonight, the eight of us fine people are rolling some damn boulders down the Strip! That’s one more than Team DUI, so we’ve already got a great advantage. But I thought of a way to turn our advantage even, uh… advantage-ier. So I’ve gathered everyone together to lay out my master, foolproof plan.
Sid Phillips: Let’s hear it. Can’t wait.
Joe Fontaine: We’re going to win. And that’s why I advocate all eight of us push one boulder at once.
Sid turns to Joe like he’d grown a third eye, and it’s doing sick eye tricks for everyone to see. Like, somersaults and gnarly kickflips.
Sid Phillips: Uh. What?
Joe Fontaine: Well, I mean, if we all push one boulder down the strip together, as a team of eight very cool dudes, then that means our whole tribe wins in a four-way tie for first. It’s foolproof. I don’t know why no one on Survivor ever does this. If we all win together, we’re all immune, and then the other two teams are fresh out of luck. The luck dispensary is closed, for we will have bought all of its stock!
Everyone in the room gawks at Joe, who stands very proud of his master plan.
Sid Phillips: That has to be against the rules. And what was wrong with my plan?
Joe Fontaine: I forget. What was your plan?
Sid Phillips: Uh, I go and powerbomb each and every person in the competition to death. Powerbomb them until they die. Powerbomb them until their ghosts die. Probably twice in Mikey Unlikely’s case. Screw that guy in particular. And then, once everyone and their ghosts are dead, I roll our boulder to the finish line and win.
Joe Fontaine: Wait, how is that any less illegal than what I proposed?
Sid can only offer a shrug.
Sid Phillips: I don’t know. I could try powerbombing the boulder. It might not end well, though. For the boulder. Or the strip.
Joe Fontaine: Right, uh… that’s great, Sid. We can table that under Plan B.
Sid grumbles at the suggestion, muttering to himself as he decides he doesn’t want to take part in any more of Joe’s shenanigans.
Sid Phillips (muttering): Should really be Plan All-The-Letters-In-The-Alphabet, because it’s definitely the best plan.
Joe ignores him, and addresses the other wrestlers in the room. And Vickie.
Joe Fontaine: Uh, any questions about my cool plan for winners so far?
Tentatively at first, Jonathan Rhine raises a hand, then stands up.
Jonathan Rhine: I have a question. Why make it so complicated? We’re all capable, strong men. We all have a purpose, something we’re fighting for. Why not just go out there and do our best? I know we can do it.
David Fox: Alright. So here’s my idea; the bigger, stronger guys push the boulder from behind, while the smaller ones pull it along on the other side, and make sure the path is clear. Smooth, simple, and gets the job done.
Joe smiles a wide grin, gesturing at David Fox.
Joe Fontaine: See? This guy gets me.
Sid Phillips: Mr. Fox, I implore you to not encourage this dipshit.
The Forever Man and Pretty Pink haven’t been paying attention at all.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Baby, I love you so much. I need you so much.
Vickie Hall: Oh baby, I love it when you call me baby.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: All I think about is you, every day, every minute, every SECOND.
Vickie Hall: Oh, gosh golly.
She turns and nudges Zion.
Vickie Hall: Am I a lucky girl or what?
Vickie goes back to providing her undivided attention on her ALP.
Vickie Hall: Do you remember our Wedding Day?
How could Jonathan-Christopher forget?
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: How could I forget?
She blushes and giggles innocently.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Only the most important day of my life.
Vickie lowers her head with a hint of sadness.
Vickie Hall: If you win the 5-Star Championship… I wonder… will this night replace that one?
The Vow of Virtue places a delicate hand on her chin and speaks with a tone of voice conveying nothing but facts.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Never.
And the two go back to a warm embrace as Joe stands there, first with no clue what’s going on. Then the room turns back to the real tasks at hand. Fontaine glances at Phillips with an awkward smile on his face, as though he’s not sure what the problem with his plan truly is. He looks to Sid, who glares down at him with an owl-like expression of disapproval.
Joe Fontaine: Not sure what the big problem is.
Sid Phillips: One of these days, Joe…
The threat of powerbombs is the most likely end of that sentence, because of course it is. However, Sid doesn’t finish his sentence because the doors to the meeting room fly open.
Every head in the room turns to the doors, which are now wide open. After a long pause, a man flies into frame with a karate kick. No one in the room knows why he would do this. Perhaps, you might think, this man is currently beset by ninjas. You never know. Ninjas can appear from anywhere and be imperceptible to the human eye. Which might make Doozer a ninja, we don’t know. Once the man does a few more mock martial arts gestures, the kind you only see in martial arts films, he stands upright, shaking free his wild blue dreadlocks to reveal a pasty aging …
… Oh. Hey. It’s Tony Davis, of actual Team VIAGRA fame.
Tony Davis: It’s me! Tooooon-eeeey Davis!
Davis tries his best to reference Piper calling Tony Atlus during a match. Applause!
Well, at least, that’s what Joe does, until Sid slaps him on the back of his head.
Everyone else just stares awkwardly at Tony.
Tony Davis: Uh, I heard there was a Team VIAGRA meeting. But none of you are High Flyer, are you?
A pause. He scratches the back of his head.
Tony Davis: …Mary-Lynn Mayweather? Is she here? Like, in disguise? Like, a really good disguise?
The silence is so deafening that you could hear Paxton Ray audibly cracking his knuckles.
Well, the silence other than Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie, who have broken their loving gaze to speak words of affirmation to each other.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I adore you.
Vickie Hall: You are my everything.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I could never imagine my life without you.
Vickie Hall: Then never do.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I can’t believe you are mine.
Vickie Hall: I am yours!
Vickie looks down, a little unsure of herself. The Forever Man takes her chin again.
Vickie Hall: Would you… oh I don’t know… it’s silly.
Jonathan-Christopher hasn’t heard what it is yet but for sure doesn’t think the idea is silly.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: What is it, baby? You can tell me anything.
Vickie Hall: Would you… oh I don’t know… be willing to go over your wedding vows with me again? Right here, right now? I mean there’s people around, even if I don’t know them or care much. It does remind me of our night, though.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I would love to.
Vickie Hall: Wonderful. Oh dear, wonderful.
Vickie ducks into her large pink purse and pulls out a collection of papers. The Hall’s don’t break their vows yet, however. They’ve become lost in each other’s eyes again.
Back to the room. Tony Davis is dumbfounded. As is Jonathan Rhine, who scratches the back of his head.
Jonathan Rhine: I’m sure the other teams are a little more organized than this, so we should try to focus here. Mr. Davis, I’m a big fan. We’re competing in the Tag Team Survivor under your name, so hopefully you can give us a little inspiration? Something to will us to victory?
Davis’ eyes perk up. He reaches behind his back and pulls out a sack with a dollar sign on it. He reaches into the bag and pulls out a small medicinal bottle, and launches into a sales pitch.
Tony Davis: Oh boy howdy I’ll tell you what, we got the very best performance enhancement drug on the market that you all could…
Tony notices the Hall couple giving each other eskimo kisses.
Tony Davis: All but them… their love is scary potent already. But, here you all go! Free! on the house! From Pfizer! Even better than a vaccine, it’s VIAGRA!
Davis begins to hand out the viagra, going first to the Hall’s due to the magnetic pull of their love, but then moves on to Fighting For Nora. Jonathan Rhine looks very uncomfortable.
Jonathan Rhine: I’m…I’m okay. No thanks.
Paxton Ray doesn’t even look at Tony as he tries to hand him the bottle, so he moves onto the Winds.
Sid Phillips glares at the bottle of pills he’s handed, and raises an eyebrow before stuffing it into his singlet. Joe takes the bottle, gives it a good look, and then hands it off to Sid without another word. Sid shrugs, and stuffs that into his singlet as well.
A woman’s voice clears their throat from the entranceway. Tony stops in his tracks and turns, to see Mary-Lynn Mayweather standing at the door entrance for a cheap pop. She stands with her arms crossed.
Mary-Lynn Mayweather: You know I’m only Jack’s lawyer, right? If you get arrested for handing out prescription medication… I’m not going to defend you pro bono.
Tony Davis: Bono… Sonny. Listen, all, I’m gonna need those pills back. Throw ‘em up if you had to.
Joe turns to Sid.
Joe Fontaine: Well, dude?
Sid stands there menacingly for a while, but he eventually caves and pulls both bottles of pills from his singlet and tosses them back to Tony. He catches them both, somehow.
The Halls just ignore him. Darin Zion breaks out laughing, but it likely has more to do with his text exchange than what Tony is trying to do.
Mary-Lynn Mayweather: Also, everyone, remember to show pride in your team and your team name. I’ve actually got the true leader of Team VIAGRA on the phone right now!
Mary-Lynn pulls out her iPhone and Facetimes with the name “Jack Harmen” It rings twice, and then Harmen picks up, his wide red hair streaming in front of his face as he stands in front of a concrete wall.
High Flyer: Yes, Yes! What Mary said! Remember, you’re representing VIAGRA out there, so if you suck, you’re dead to me. Oh, Hi Joey. Daniel. You look younger than I remember. Halls and Mushi, good luck to the fellow Faithful, and Rhine? You’ve always been a stalwart talent. Don’t disappoint me.
High Flyer hangs up from his end. Joe Fontaine raises his hand.
Joe Fontaine: Hey, is he… uh, just outside in the hallway?
High Flyer: (off screen) No. Shut up.
David Fox: Seriously, though, that looks like it’s right outside the door.
Mary-Lynn sighs. Reluctantly, and dejectedly, High Flyer appears over her shoulder. He nods to the motley crew.
High Flyer: Man, I do miss this place. So much blue everywhere… What a PRIME place to wrestle. So, what are you guys doing tonight?
Joe Fontaine: Oh, y’know… pushing boulders. The kind of thing that you do on a Survivor competition when you’re around rad dudes that definitely respect great ideas like mine.
Joe Fontaine: Hey, you take that back! My idea was awesome.
High Flyer: … Actually, Tony, give them all the VIAGRA. They may need it. Their penis could become a third leg for balance. Don’t be stingy…
As Tony smiles and starts to try and hand Viagra to everyone again, Paxton Ray and Mushigihara share a significant look.
Paxton Ray: We’re fucked, ain’t we.
The camera crawls down a dim corridor toward a closed door. It abruptly snaps open, revealing naught but a pool of darkness inside, and silence.
A pair of muted lights begin to glow, faint and phantom bulbs hovering in the murk like a magician’s trick. On the east and west ends of the room, televisions switch on to white noise and static. The ghost lights brighten just enough to illuminate a figure at the center of the room, facing away with head bowed. The light catches the bottom of an emblem scrawled on the wall, the glint of silver brushed over a crown atop a stylized M.
The Julian Bathory presented in his eerie ReVival promos was a well-dressed showman and presenter. This rendition is grim and solemn, already clad in his ring attire, a silver and green towel draped over his head, veiling his features, the icon of MESSIAH embroidered at the crest.
His voice sounds fed through an effect filter as he begins to narrate, a deeper timbre than his usual tone, a hint of reverb, overlaid with subtle hisses as of a snake.
Julian Bathory: Tonight the tribute concludes, and the prologue period for the new era ends. Champions will be crowned and, finally, there will be clarity as to the hierarchy in the house of PRIME. Hmph. Clarity.
An image finally appears on one of the TV’s. It shifts between clips of war-ravaged landscapes, calamitous storms, and riotous violence, before changing tone to scenes of consolatory charity, rekindled love, warm-hued horizons, inspirational photos of history.
Julian Bathory: Most of us have heard the Cherokee legend, in one iteration or another. The story of the two wolves locked in us all, forever fighting, with the burden of our heart the prize. One is evil, representing hate, greed, sorrow, lies, and every other iniquity blackening the human condition. The other is good, the spirit of love, joy, peace, empathy, humility. Who will win? Well, it’s up to you. It will be whichever you feed the most. As director of MESSIAH I’ve traveled the world and shaken hands with altruistic titans, shared tables with dictators. I’ve seen the darkness at the core of reality, felt its inviting lure, and been lifted up by elements of faith and righteousness.
The other TV fades to black before leaping into highlights of Anna Daniels from her prior match-ups in PRIME. Oncoming Storm putting away Nathan Filmix, flashes of aerial artistry as she gracefully crashes down on Nicholas Pfefferman, spikes the crown of his skull into the mat with an inverted hurricanrana. The audience roars approval as she poses, basking in adulation.
Julian Bathory: The Muse, the enigma that is Anna Daniels. Even the scholars within the organization’s ranks can’t determine what drives you. The results, however, are more substantial both in PRIME and besides. Beyond just the strength contradicting your size, frankly there’s an unnerving labyrinth of voices and ambitions under that cloak. Which wolf which you embrace in the end? Or are such things trivial, beneath the scope of what guides you?
A change to a reel of Teddy Palmer’s actions in the ring. A flurry of clipped brutalizing uppercuts and suplexes, punctuated by the Nosebleed Section that put Cyrus O’Haire to rest in round two. Unlike Daniels, he dismisses the crowd and saunters away at the end.
Julian Bathory: An auspicious free spirit haunted by myriad addictions and vices. A man who could be king reducing himself to a pauper, all in the name of the next thrill, the next moment of fleeting bliss. Who shows up tonight, Teddy? The engaged warrior with the throne in his sights or the wayward junkie, forever chasing the dragon?
A smiling Impulse, standing over Julian himself in the quarterfinal, arms triumphantly raised.
Julian Bathory: I wish I were a man above reprisal, but you wounded me grievously, Impulse. Myself and the MESSIAH collective both. I don’t tape to know what you’re about. You have skin invested in this game, wily Randall, globe-trotting veteran. Like me you can’t afford to toss this opportunity away, watch your career wither on the vine and wonder what could have been. Who does fate and fortune favor now? It’s been a long road, old gunslinger, and this may be your last stop. The question lingers: will you leave this town riding tall on a horse, or prone in a box?
The images on both monitors fade. Onto one springs a video of curved horns awash in fire, and other angelic wings of mercy.
Julian Bathory: The dust settles tonight at Culture Shock. With the prelude’s close shall the dominant narrative of PRIME be written, and let it be told, MESSIAH shall command this story. We are legion. The Season of Knives will shape us. Defiance is futile, assimilation inevitable. Evil wolf, good wolf. New World Savior, Carpathian Devil. It’s all perspective. In the end, that immutable end that will come for us all, who can tell the difference?
He pivots in his stool, lifting his head for the first time, eyes flickering open. The irises are yellow, almost golden, shimmering, the eyes of a serpent of myth. One side of his mouth turns up in a wicked-seeming half-smile, a trick of the light imparting the appearance of fangs.
Julian Bathory: Forever the crown.
WHY THE CHAIR IS THERE
We cut to Matt Mills who is smiling, beaming really, with a microphone in his hand. Behind him is Fighting For Nora, talking to each other lowly and nodding. We aren’t as focused on them, however as we are on the woman Matt Mills stands next to.
Matt Mills: Hey guys, I’m with Fighting For Nora and their newly appointed manager, Shweta Kallemullah, who is also the Fighting For Nora Foundation Chairperson. Ms. Kallemullah, I have to ask, what led to your foray into the wrestling world?
Shweta Kallemullah: Thanks for having me, Matt. Ordinarily I’d prefer to be in the background, not heard, not seen, running things for these two men who have worked so hard for the Foundation’s purpose. Part of the job was checking in with these two, with Nora, to make sure everything was running smoothly. However, with the introduction of Tag Team Survivor – a great idea by the way.
Paxton Ray: Says who?
Shweta Kallemullah: The two men have even less time for their Foundation. Which means that in order to help them and myself, I should be around them more. So we have temporarily moved the Foundation offices to Las Vegas, and I will be around much more often.
Matt Mills: And what do you think you can bring to Fighting For Nora as they embark on this quest to become the inaugural PRIME Tag Team Champions?
Shweta Kallemullah: Matt, what color socks did you wear on the very first ReVival?
Matt Mills: Uh…what?
Shweta Kallemullah: I’ll try a little more recently. ReVival 3?
Matt Mills: They…uh, they were probably…black?
Shweta Kallemullah: As time goes on, our memories forget small details, things that are seemingly unimportant. But someone I used to work for taught me that all details are important, and if you want to run a successful operation, you must see the details, remember the details, and use them to your advantage. My value to Fighting For Nora is the same as my value as the Chairperson; I keep my team focused, I keep them ready, and to be a little crude, I run the goddamn show so that they don’t have to.
Rhine looks at Paxton and chuckles.
Jonathan Rhine: He even talks like her.
Paxton Ray: Who?
Jonathan Rhine: Nobody.
Matt Mills: I’m hearing from my production manager that I was indeed wearing black socks. Moving on, what do you have to say about your team’s chances in tonight’s event?
Shweta Kallemullah: It’s a strange thing, this challenge. While I have the utmost confidence in Jon and Paxton to succeed no matter the situation, I feel more comfortable about their chances in a wrestling ring than I do about their chances in boulder pushing. And the format of tribes and alliances lends itself to unpredictable outcomes. But look at the two men behind you.
Matt turns and looks at the tag team. Rhine smiles proudly while Paxton shrugs.
Shweta Kallemullah: They’re the first team to score a pinfall victory in this new PRIME. A team that defeated three other teams to do so. And a team that has successfully generated attention and financial backing for a cause that we can all get behind. These men are the face of something special, and that’s why I continue to put my faith, my resources, and my skills as a manager and chairperson behind them.
Matt Mills: Well good luck out there, Fighting For Nora. Tag Team Survivor is next…
TAG TEAM SURVIVOR
Twelve men stand in the dry Las Vegas night in three groups of four.
Okay, that’s a lie. It’s eleven dudes, but one of them has a mannequin strapped to his back with bungee cords like Chewbacca at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. What a schmuck.
Before each group is a boulder the size of a small car. How did they get there? Probably cranes or really big trucks. What’s the boulder budget for a promotion the size of PRIME? Evidently a lot. What happens if a giant rock goes rogue? Pray the crowd is insured. Is this a good idea? Oh god no, but we’re doin’ the thing, so strap in ‘cuz it’s about to get weird.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we are moments away from taking the first steps towards crowning the inaugural tag team champions in the new era of PRIME. Tonight twelve of the preeminent teams in professional wrestling have an unorthodox challenge in front of them.
Richard Parker: That’s the polite way to say it.
Nick Stuart: We haven’t seen Survivor in professional wrestling in quite some time. Any predictions for tonight, Richard?
Richard Parker: That’s a loaded question, and there’s no real way to answer it. It’s like anything I might say could come true, no matter how bizarre. It all feels like it’s on the table tonight.
Despite the fact that they’re all gathered here to shove big rocks, not everyone seems to have got the memo. Sid Phillips is dressed in his ring gear, evidently unaware that rocks of this size were not made to be powerbombed. Garbage Bag Johnny looks ready to serve up a pile of Donkey Sauce in a Guy Fieri-esque flame-patterned bathrobe. The monitor around Nova’s ankle blinks a steady green.
Richard Parker: Does Nate Colton have a taser?
Nate Colton does, in fact, have a taser.
Richard Parker: Why does Nate Colton have a taser?
Because the alternative was “Bobby Dean gets a taser”.
Nick doesn’t get a chance to answer, because that’s when the sound of an air horn signals the start of the contest. A roar rises from the gathered crowd flanking both sides of the Vegas strip as the combined might of the different teams.
For one of those teams things go immediately sideways, and it’s the one that was already short-staffed. Barry Delgado, who is himself a denim clad muscle-boulder, begins to get the DUI rock rolling (puns!). He’s assisted by his partner Trent Sadikaj, whose contributions consist of a series of athletic high kicks, like a kung-fu Paul Stanley. They’re not the problem. The problem is that Doozer – who is clearly visible and wildly flailing – can’t seem to get stable footing. He slides around the street like a toddler learning to skate without the benefit of milk crates.
The elder bandit collides with Nate Colton who is then thrown forward, narrowly missing his newfound partner Nathan Filmix with the business end of the taser he’s carrying, which finds a home in the plump backside of Bobby Dean.
Richard Parker: Well, I suppose that’s one way to get him moving.
Nick Stuart: Unfortunately, he’s headed in the wrong direction.
Bobby immediately sprints into the crowd in the direction of a Fighting For Nora bake sale table. The look of impending dread on Shweta Kallemullah would be visible from space, if they looked for that sort of thing aboard the ISS.
Nick Stuart: Crudely Civilized getting out to an early lead here!
A collection of figures stands gathered on the sidelines, gyrating their hips in a loosely choreographed routine. Longtime fans of bullshit will recognize them as Charlene, Misty, Noelle, Carl, Janelle, Cinnamon, and Biff. They are the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers (JBDs), and they are gathered here to honor the memory of their fallen namesake with music. Also the entire budget was spent on boulders, so there wasn’t much left for a proper cheering section.
JBDs: (cheering) Boots and Boogie! They’re our men! If they can’t do it then someone else will probably.
On the Team VIAGRA side, there are the makings of trouble between some of the tribe members. Paxton Ray shoves Jonathan-Christopher Hall aside to try and get better leverage on the boulder in front of them.
Nick Stuart: We’ve got our first bit of dissension here, and it’s on the VIAGRA squad.
Richard Parker: Dusk’s not in this match, Nick.
Nick Stuart: A scuffle seems to have broken out between Paxton Ray and Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
It doesn’t take long for this to escalate, and both Darin Zion and Jonathan Rhine are forced to stop their own attempts to move the rock and try to settle things down. Unfortunately, this means the tribe loses some ground.
Visibly frustrated with the situation, Sid Phillips grabs a nearby Enemigo who had until then been working crowd control.
Nick Stuart: The Winds of Change using everything at their disposal as they…
Nick Stuart: Phillips powerbombing that poor Enemigo into the boulder!
Richard Parker: Hasn’t even wrestled a match, and he’s already out a few thousand dollars. That’s a guaranteed fine.
The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers use this opportunity to pivot the nature of their cheering. They too will probably be shelling out soon, because Prince’s estate is probably pretty litigious.
JBDs: (cheering) They wore a blaaaaaaaaaackberry beret. The kind that lands you with a copyright claim!
The team VIAGRA boulder rolls past a group of fans gathered on the sidelines, one of whom is wearing an Ohio State University tee shirt. Mushigihara catches sight of this out of the corner of his eye, and a dawning realization appears on his face.
With renewed vigor the former sumo lays into the rock with hard slaps, driving it forward.
Kenny Freeman walks with his back to his team’s boulder, lightly pushing on it with one hand. His other hand holds a phone at arms length.
Nick Stuart: And now Kenny Freeman seems to be live-vlogging tonight’s Survivor challenge.
Richard Parker: And it looks like his partner, Randall Schwartz, is passing out headshots to the crowd.
The Jimmy Bonafide Dancers are there to lend words of encouragement to the duo.
JBDs: (cheering) What is a multiverse? Tell us what it is! What is a multiverse? None of us went to college!
Richard Parker: Speaking of the multiverse…
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
Richard Parker: Do you think there’s an alternate reality where the PRIME tag team division is full of functioning, well-adjusted adults?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know if-
Richard Parker: Maybe the multiverse has bled into our reality. Maybe Barry Delgado is a mirror universe version of Bobby Dean, where he woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and said, “I can fix this.”
Nick Stuart: There’s at least a 6 inch height difference between them, Richard.
Richard Parker: It’s another universe. Who are we to determine the rules?
It’s here where Mikey Unlikely stubs his toe on the boulder. As anyone who’s ever caught their foot on a coffee table can tell you, man that shit hurts. Fortunately, his bruv JFK is there for moral support.
Nick Stuart: It appears that we might have just witnessed our first injury in this challenge.
Richard Parker: Which is legitimately surprising, given the number of people on the road that I wouldn’t trust with a pair of scissors.
Nick Stuart: The Hollywood Bruvs taking a minute to regroup.
Richard Parker: I mean kids’ scissors. You know the ones that are all plastic and will only cut construction paper, but nothing else.
Nick Stuart: The Hollywood Bruvs… are leaving?
Indeed they are. First they linger back as the boulders are rolled away, and then begin strolling away from the strip.
On the DUI side, Nate Colton and Nathan Filmix talk strategy as they work on their boulder. Colton, it should be noted, is still holding the taser he was gifted earlier in the evening, which seems to be a source of great consternation for the ever-serious Filmix. After a moment of debate, Colton relents and places the taser on the ground, only to have it promptly kicked into him by a still-slipping Doozer.
Nick Stuart: Delgado and Sadikaj still rolling their stone.
Richard Parker: I want you to know that pun physically hurt me.
Nick Stuart: Nothing I can do about that now, Richard.
Richard Parker: I heard that one day, Barry Delgado happened upon the hill where Sisyphus was pushing that boulder. He stepped in and said, “don’t worry, bro, I got this,” and took over. He pushed that boulder up that hill so many times that the boulder wore down so much that now he uses it as a bass pick.
Nick Stuart: Where did you hear that?
Richard Parker: The internet wouldn’t lie to me, Nick. Not to me.
Meanwhile, the VIAGRA boulder has started to edge (tee-hee) its way into the lead.
As King Blueberry shifts his grip on the DUI boulder, the legs of El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy whack Paxton Ray in the shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray not having the best day. First some strife within his own team, and now it looks like an issue with the blueberry king is afoot.
Richard Parker: It’s not like these are new issues, Nick. We heard a few weeks ago what Ray thinks of this costumed boob.
Again Ray abandons his boulder duties. He grabs the mannequin and tears it away from Blueberry, causing the bungee cords that held it in place to snap hard against Blueberry’s back. With one motion he rips the gaffer tape from the mannequin’s neck, and rolls its head under the closest boulder. What follows is a loud crunch.
Nick Stuart: For the second time in as many shows, El Hijo Del Super Cool Guy has been beheaded, fans. I don’t think he’s going to recover from this one.
Ray nonchalantly tosses the remains of the mannequin behind him, daring the King to retrieve it. There’s no time however, as a distracted Joe Fontaine – busy mugging in front of the phone of a nearby fan – turns around at just the wrong moment. The legs of the mannequin catch him around the neck, and then the rules of physics go right out the window.
Nick Stuart: Canadian destroyer! Canadian destroyer! Physics be damned, Joe Fontaine is down, and I don’t know if he’s getting up any time soon!
Richard Parker: What the hell did I just watch?!
The Crudely Civilized tribe’s attempts to push their boulder are momentarily halted as Pat Cassidy finds himself suddenly pelted in the face with a pair of ladies’ underwear. Size thicc. Standing along the challenge route, Muriel Puddings shouts obscenities like a horny Bobby Knight.
Muriel Puddings: Come tongue my taint!
Cassidy yanks the drawers from his eyes and presses onwards, but Muriel’s leering continues. That is until she sets her eyes on the dapper visage of Garbage Bag Johnny, looking like the mayor of goddamn Flavortown in his fiery bathrobe.
Muriel Puddings: HNNNNGGGHHHHH!!
Richard Parker: Gross.
Johnny moves away from the rock and dusts himself off. Then, he exits the challenge course alone and heads off into the warm Nevada night. The man has a date to prepare for, after all.
Nick Stuart: Garbage Bag Johnny has decided to call it a night a little early.
Richard Parker: I have a feeling his night is just getting started.
Nick Stuart: I’m actively trying to not think about that, Richard. In either case, the Crudely Civilized tribe is now down three members, all of whom walked out on their own accord.
The Saturday Night Specials and Nova lean hard against their boulder, trying to will it to move faster, but given the sudden departure of so many tribe members it’s not moving nearly as well as it once did.
At least they have the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers to serenade them.
JBDs: (cheering) How many special people change? How many lives are living strange? Why does Nova look like Doctor Wily?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know who is responsible for hiring the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers. It’s like that person doesn’t know there is an actual rock band in this challenge tonight.
Richard Parker: I heard that one time Barry Delgado flipped over a cop car with the cops still in it, and they apologized to him.
Nick Stuart: Seriously, Richard, what websites are you visiting?
Richard Parker: Don’t ask scary questions, Nick.
Imagine what happens next takes place in slow-motion. In fact, let’s take it a step further. Open up another tab, navigate your ass over to YouTube, and find “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis. It’s cool. We’ll wait.
Actually, hold up, I’ll do it for you. Here.
The crowd of people on one side of the challenge route parts to make way for an inflated Zorb ball. Inside, the hulking form of Bobby Dean two-fists entire cakes acquired from the Fighting For Nora bake sale table. The inside of the bubble is smeared with crumbs, and frosting, and sweat, and wait just how the fuck did he get inside that thing anyway?!
A big doof with a Georgia tee-shirt and an incredibly punchable face doesn’t manage to get out of the way in time, and is subsequently trucked by Bobby the Cake Hamster.
His vigor renewed, Bobby charges the Zorb back on to the challenge route, builds up a head of steam and hurls his body at the boulder in front of him, but the recoil buckles him backwards, and he begins slowly rolling away. The boulder seems unaffected by the bombastic bash of Bobby’s bouncing, boisterous bulk.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean just slammed into that boulder, but I think all the plastic padding absorbed the shock.
RIchard Parker: And now gravity’s taken hold, and he’s rolling the wrong direction down the strip.
Meanwhile, in the far lane, Sid Phillips has finally set down that poor, battered Enemigo he’s been powerbombing into his boulder. Total powerbomb count? 23.
Nick Stuart: Crudely Civilized trying to keep pace, and doing a damn remarkable job despite being outnumbered at this stage in the game.
Richard Parker: We’ve only got a few feet to go before the finish line.
The crowd around the finish line gets louder, trying to will the competitors closer. The DUI boulder creeps towards the goal. Trent Sadikaj lands a jumping front kick – to date he has exclusively relied on kicks to move the boulder – that narrowly misses the hand of Nathan Filmix.
Nick Stuart: DUI out in front! VIAGRA right behind!
Richard Parker: That joke writes itself.
A final collective surge from the VIAGRA team gains them some ground.
But it’s not enough.
Nick Stuart: Delgado with a final push and DUI has taken the first challenge in tag team Survivor! What a spectacle!
Richard Parker: Spectacle, circus, debacle… This sure has been something. I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified to find out what’s in store for all of us in two weeks.
Nick Stuart: Well tonight’s challenge may be over, but we still have to find out which teams have been eliminated by tribal vote. We’re going to give them all a chance to regroup, and will have that information for you later.
Richard Parker: Do I get to vote? I’ve got some thoughts on this.
Nick Stuart: For now let’s give it up to all the teams who competed tonight, especially Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll for getting their squad first over the finish line!
The entire Internet had been abuzz when it was announced that Garbage Bag Johnny and Muriel Puddings had indeed followed through with their date the Saturday following the last ReVival. The two whisked themselves away to lovely Reno to dine their stomachs’ content at the Silver Legacy Potato Bar. For three meals.
Indeed, Johnny had lived up to his testimony when he met her there: handing Muriel $140 in cold hard cash. Muriel, impressed by the gesture, decided to book a room at the hotel to maximize all of the fringe benefits of the 22-topping layout. It has yet to be confirmed whether Johnny shared the room with her, but we do know they both appeared for the Hash Brown Brunch-a-rama the following morning at the same time.
Apparently, they enjoyed one another’s company: as the two planned a second date once Muriel had returned to Sin City. More than a bit lovestruck, though, Johnny had not stopped to think about the timing constraints of their proposed meet up. When the Gem State Gem had mentioned Friday night around 9 at It Takes Tuber to Tango (Las Vegas’ premier potato bar/dance club), he immediately agreed. They boasted a whopping 37 toppings, so how could he not?
This gave plenty of time for Muriel to hop down the Boulevard and arrive. Especially since she had opted to wear the same macrame “dress” that she wore in the opener: an oversized Big Dogs tee altered into a maxi dress. Unfortunately, with the Tag Team Survivor competition starting almost an hour and a half before, the Bag would have to choose between a rock and his cock, and to the detriment of his team, he went with the latter, skipping out of the challenge in order to meet his real life sexy lighter lady.
He didn’t know his tribe’s fate, or his team’s fate, but he made it. Dudded up and dressed to kill in his finest, black and flamed patterned bathrobe, he hoped to give Muriel the Triple D experience in every sense of the letter. Sure, he didn’t have any time to shower, but the Cool Water he’d swiped from a drug store was enough to cover the fresh coat of sweat. It meshed together perfectly with Muriel’s Calgon body spray: a scent-sation if you will!
The other patrons weren’t quite as appreciative of their aromatic art as they were, though. All of the surrounding tables were empty, which was just fine for the two suitors. The vacant space and the dim lighting next to the dance floor made it all the more special. Topped off with the DJ spinning R&B classics from such artists as Toni Braxton and Soul 4 Real, the mood was ripe for romance.
Garbage Bag Johnny: So then, we sent both elevators down to the main floor, and I climbed out through the ceiling panel, crawled across to the other elevator, and went through it like I was Tom Friggin’ Cruise in Mission Impossible.
Muriel nods, but she’s having a hard time balancing her attention between Johnny’s story and her well-adorned (toppings-wise) baked russett. Johnny clears his throat and switches gears to something more romantic.
Garbage Bag Johnny: You know, after our first date, I didn’t think there was any way you would need more than 22 toppings for a baked potato. But marinara sauce is a pretty nice touch for number 23.
Muriel nods in approval, swirling around a lavalike concoction with strands of shredded cheddar, bacon bits, and chives floating inside of it. Dunking the last bite of her potato into it and smothering the morsel, she takes a bite and talks with her mouth full.
Muriel Puddings: And don’t count out the Thousand Island dressing to round out lucky number 24! I’m gonna try the cottage cheese and crushed up Cool Ranch Doritos next.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I’ll hold the fort down while you go to tater town.
With that, Muriel excuses herself from the table to return to the potato bar. As soon as she’s off camera, GBJ sniffs his armpits and applies one more misting of stolen Cool Water before psyching himself up.
Garbage Bag Johnny: You’re killing it, G-Bag. The conversation is flowing. She’s loving the potatoes. I’m loving the potatoes. Just gotta stay on course and we’ll be mashing taters of our own in no time if I catch my drift, which I do, because I’m me talking to myself.
Out of things to say, GBJ turns back to his potato, a starchy ship floating in a sea of marinara, and goes back to work. He’s almost finished as Muriel comes back with her cottage cheese and Cool Ranch spud. GBJ gets up from his seat and pulls Muriel’s chair out for her like a true gentleman.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I don’t know what looks more delicious. You or that potato.
Muriel Puddings: Aw, shucks. Leave being corny and cheesy to the potatoes.
GBJ laughs nervously as Muriel takes her seat and immediately goes to work on her new plate.
Garbage Bag Johnny: If I left corn and cheese to the potatoes with all the other exotic toppings here, where would the adventure be in that?
Muriel Puddings: Whatcha getting next?
Garbage Bag Johnny: A gentleman never tells.
And with that, GBJ’s back to the bar for a clean plate and a fresh tate. Muriel, enjoying the view of his ass as he makes his stride for more grub, reaches down below the table for her purse and begins to fumble through it. Pulling out a monogrammed hand mirror (with the initials VH on it), she does a quick beauty check.
Muriel Puddings: Damn, bae, you are killing it. The conversation’s as smooth as silk, just like you. I’m loving the potatoes, he’s loving the potatoes. Just gotta stay the course and we will be mashing potatoes in no time, and by that I mean that we will be freakin’ banging each other’s brains out until they are an easily digestible solid. Just in case you couldn’t catch a more subtle phrasing, which sometimes I can’t, even if I’m talking to myself. Which I am right now.
Leaving the pocketbook on her lap, Muriel puts the stolen makeup accessory back and resumes scarfing the cottage cheese-drenched spud. She smiles up at Johnny as he returns, a visible speck of Dorito caught on her front tooth.
GBJ sets the plate down and presents his hands as if he were displaying a masterpiece. Another potato, but this time featuring hard boiled egg yolks (just the yolks, no whites), diced radish, and layered with a healthy portion of sriracha. He had squirted the sauce to make the open-faced potato appear to be smiling.
Muriel Puddings: Nice. But I was thinkin’, hun. You know what would really make these bad boys pop off? A little topping that I brought along myself…
Garbage Bag Johnny: What more could we need? We’ve got so many al-ahhhhhhhhhh.
A grin spreads across Johnny’s face as Muriel casually sneaks a plastic baggie containing various dried stems and caps from the purse. Placing it underneath a napkin (only making it more obvious that it was not something that you should have,) she slides it across the table.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I gotta say, Muriel. This might be the best second date I’ve ever been on.
Muriel Puddings: It’s the only second date I’ve ever been on. I’m not used to being wined and dined like this. Most people just want one thing from me.
Garbage Bag Johnny: That really makes me sad to hear, darling. You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met, and you deserve to be treated with respect!
Muriel Puddings: You’re such a charmer. Oh, and let me just add that I usually also only want one thing from them, too. But maybe not you. You might be someone special.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I’ll eat to that!
Muriel Puddings: Cheers!
The two then take a fistful of psychedelics and begin to feed each other the mushrooms. Not exactly a Lady & the Tramp moment, but close enough.
Backstage, we see a large Culture Shock banner with the PRIME Universal Championship belt in the exact middle of the scene. On the left is Brandon Youngblood, on the right is Cancer Jiles, and encompassing the entirety of the banner is a translucent overlay of Seymour Almasy.
It’s a nice aesthetic, but the more important detail is Angelica Brooks, standing in front with a microphone in her hand.
Angelica Brooks: We are moments away from the showdown between the Anglo Luchador and Balaam, the Mask of Justice here at Culture Shock 2022, but–
“GO ANGELO GO!”
Looking momentarily stunned, but not annoyed at being interrupted, Angie looks to her left as Impulse and Calico Rose join her, both ready for the ring. Cally is eating from a bag of popcorn.
Angelica Brooks: –joining me now, along with Calico Rose herself, is one of the participants in the number one contenders’ four way match a little later tonight, it’s the Marathon Man, Impulse!
Impulse: Good to be with you, Angie.
Angelica Brooks: One fall, three opponents, and a shot at the PRIME Universal Champion up for grabs. Really the only question I have for you, Impulse – can you win this match? And if so, can you win the next?
Impulse: Can I win? We can all win, Angie. But that’s part of the paradox, is that it’s not up to me, not completely. Ask me – ask any of us two weeks ago, four weeks ago – if we would be in the main event tonight? We’d all say yes.
Impulse: Sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan them. But the beauty of this sport is that we almost always get another day. Another match. Another shot at grabbing our goal. Can I win this match? Of course I can. Will I?
Impulse: We’ll just have to wait and see.
Angelica Brooks: Cally, you’ll be on the outside of the ring tonight along with Violence Jack, a man we did not see when Impulse and Julian Bathory faced off in the quarterfinals of the Almasy Invitational. How does this affect you?
Calico Rose: Not an itty bitty bit, luv. The match takes place between the ropes, the winner is determined by the three men and a little lady that are hitting each other. What, Jackson wants to hit me so he can distract RK so Julian can hit him? Then Anna Daniels hits Julian and we’re right back to square one. Trying to distract only one of Julie’s three opponents doesn’t give him a tactical advantage, so all it would be is a personal vendetta. And how does a personal vendetta help the cult achieve its communal goal? It doesn’t.
Impulse: She makes a sound logical argument.
Calico Rose: So maybe he takes a shot, but don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m not nearly as easy to fleece as the Messiah’s sheeps.
Angelica Brooks: Strong words from Impulse and Calico Rose, who appear to be ready for action! Any final thoughts?
Impulse: Good luck, Brandon… can’t wait for round two.
Calico Rose: LET’S GO ANGELO!
Angelica Brooks: Can’t say better than that, so let’s get back to ringside!
THE ANGLO LUCHADOR vs. BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, this next match involves two men with absolutely no love lost between them! For over a month now, Hoyt Williams and The Anglo Luchador have been trading barbs via Jabber, and to make things even more complicated, PRIME’s Messiah seems to have drawn the ire of Timo Bolamba as well! Hoyt has put his monster, Balaam in there to do his dirty work for him.
Richard Parker: That damn Samoan has no business besmirching Hoyt and his Church! A referee’s place is to be seen and not heard.
All the lights go out and “Possum Kingdom” by Toadies begins to play. A white strobe light starts flashing, the crowd lets out a loud jeer as smoke begins rising from the entrance way.
Nick Stuart: All the talk of cheap masks, pain, and destruction ends, and the fighting begins.
Standing in the center of the ring holding the gold plated “Good Book” high above his head is the creepy man known as Joe Burro.
Richard Parker: The messenger Donkey Joe Burro is summoning the Monster!!
A white spotlight shines on Hoyt Williams who is leaning against the rail balcony in the Presidential Suite. He is booed as he watches down using Gold Plated Opera style binoculars.
Nick Stuart: Too much to be bothered to be at ring side?
Richard Parker: He’s an owner in an owner’s box Stuart. It’s where owners sit.
The camera watches the entrance way where nothing is happening when suddenly panic from the crowd draws its attention.
Nick Stuart: What now?
The camera cuts through the chaos to find the demented looking mask covering the face of the 6’7” monster who is coming through the crowd from the east side of the area. Rows of people run from their seats as the monster gets close to them. Whenever he almost gets them he is pulled back by the old mysterious looking cowboy towing him along with a thick steel chain attached to the monster’s nose ring.
Nick Stuart: How do you feel about endangering our audience “Saint” Parker?
Richard Parker: He hasn’t hurt anybody! They get out of the way, don’t they?
A fan stops in front of the monster and takes a selfie with him coming behind him. The monster is not a fan of selfies and grabs the guy with one hand ripping his shirt off and tossing him back to a group of his friends in a single motion The Harbinger of Malice tightens up the leash to get more control.
Nick Stuart: You were saying?
Richard Parker: Don’t take unsolicited selfies. It’s another wise lesson from the Church of Hoyt.
Nick Stuart: Please.
The monster hops over the guardrail with great agility he moves to and rolls into the ring. The Harbinger of Malice undoes the chain and uses his whole body driving his shoulder into the monster to back him up into the corner.
Timo Bolamba, absent from face paint, shouts instructions to Duke and Joe Burro. They back up and he checks Balaam before signaling that he is good to compete.
The arena darkens. The PRIME fanbase is buzzing as they wait for the challenger to arrive.
The first dabs of the organ intro to “Oye Como Va” by Santana fill the arena as purple and green lights strobe while the telltale mask of the Anglo Luchador rotate on the PRIMEview behind. Smoke begins to waft across the entryway as the instrumental beginning of the song swells into its big climax.
Nick Stuart: Here’s the man who willfully picked a fight with this monster!
Richard Parker: He needs to get his cheap mask out of the building before Balaam rips him apart!
Right before the lyrics sound, The Anglo Luchador appears from the back, looking out at the crowd. He exhales and bows his head before he takes his final stride towards the ring. He stops just before climbing in to assess the situation. He’s clearly nervous, but bravely he climbs up the steps and makes his way to the opposite corner.
Timo is waiting for him and motions for him to stand in his corner while he does his inspection. Satisfied that The Anglo Luchador is not hiding any weaponry, he turns and nods to Vince Howard. The veteran voice of PRIME steps forward and booms out his introductions.
Vince Howard: Standing at 6’7” and weighing in at 345 lbs, from Prospect Height, Illinois, The Mask of Malice…BAAAAALAAAAAAM!
The fans boo and jeer as the monster now known as Balaam snorts like a bull awaiting release during a rodeo. Duke Williams slips out of the ring and joins Joe Burro who has also made his way to the outside of the ring.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…Standing at 6’0” and weighing in at 211 lbs, from Philadelphia, PA…THEEE AAAAAANGLOOOOO LUUUUUUCHADOOOOR!
Nick Stuart: More than a month of bad blood comes to a head right here and now folks! Can Anglo do what he says and stop the monster Balaam?
Richard Parker: If Hoyt’s suit is any indication of Balaam’s skills, I don’t think so!
Nick Stuart: What would his suit have to do with it?
Richard Parker: I…just…look at its majesty!
Timo steps to the center of the ring and checks both competitors. Balaam looks down on TAL and snorts. The Anglo Luchador looks on with steely eyes.
TAL rushes forward, swarming on Balaam before he can even make it a step out of the corner. The smaller man launches leg kicks with everything he has, and Balaam shrugs him off. He grabs the Luchador by the face with a whole palm, and throws him end over end across the ring as Duke yells on approvingly.
The Old Luchador barely has time to compose himself as Balaam thunders across the ring at him and launches his opponent into the air with a wicked rising knee. TAL hits the turnbuckles hard and groans.
Nick Stuart: This is already going south for The Luchador!
Richard Parker: All the Icy Hot in the world won’t save you from Hoyt’s wrath!
As Balaam reaches in to secure his opponent, Anglo leaps forward and grabs his trunk-like arm. The monster howls as TAL grabs his fingers and bends them backwards at an awkward angle.
He leads Balaam in a circle, moving toward the center of the ring by manipulating the larger man’s joints, then kicks him in the torso several times, leading to Balaam looking to the outside for help.
Duke Williams slams the mat and yells at his monster and the Mask of Malice snorts in defiance. A looping blow wooshes over TAL’s head as he barely evades having his head taken off.
Balaam swings again angrily and continues to come up empty as the smaller man deftly avoids his strikes. However, The Old Luchador is being backed into the opposing corner slowly and soon runs out of real estate to retreat into. As he hits the corner turnbuckle, he catches a clubbing blow across the shoulder which knocks him to his knee.
Nick Stuart: I am afraid this isn’t just a mismatch on paper ladies and gents, this is a dangerous situation that can go south quickly. That monster doesn’t understand his own power.
Richard Parker: Hoyt understands it though, and if The Anglo Luchador hadn’t been mouthing off all month this wouldn’t have had to happen. Hoyt is Good!
Nick Stuart: Honestly, it’s scary when you’re right about something.
Duke Williams motions with his hands upward and Balaam grins under his mask. Before The Old Luchador can react, Balaam grabs him by the throat with both hands and lifts him in the air.
Nick Stuart: He is trying the same maneuver he nearly ended Cancer Jiles with a month ago!
Richard Parker: I wish he had popped Jiles like a zit!
The Old Luchador struggles, trying to sneak free, to no avail. Timo, monitoring the action closely, begins to count the choke, prepared to break it if needed.
Timo Bolamba: ONE! TWO! THREE! FOU…
As Timo is just about to finish his fourth count, TAL wriggles with all his moxy and slides right out of the grip of The Mask of Malice, landing on his feet in the corner. Balaam looks dumbstruck and Duke jumps on the apron to scream about foul play.
Nick Stuart: Timo has separated the two and is checking The Anglo Luchador’s neck area.
The Samoan wipes his hand across TAL’s neck and rubs his fingers together before smelling the substance. The ref admonishes The Old Luchador and calls for a towel. As he gives the towel to TAL, he leans out of the ring and shouts at the announcers desk.
Nick Stuart: Timo has just told us that The Anglo Luchador has greased himself up with Icy Hot, no doubt in preparation of having to escape that very choke hold! TAL has been issued a warning and must remove the foreign substance!
Richard Parker: That no good cheater! Hoyt’s wrath will be swift!
The referee starts the match again and this time, TAL runs forward and double drop-kicks Balaam, which causes him to stumble back into the corner. The Old Luchador runs to the opposite corner and bounds off, rolling through into a springboard elbow strike across the jaw. He bounces off Balaam and again bounds off the opposite corner, building up steam as he charges across the ring and…
Richard Parker: Welcome to Air Balaam!
Balaam uses TAL’s momentum against him and launches him up in the air, over his head, and clear past the barrier into the crowd. Fans scatter to avoid being hit and a commotion ensues. Several chairs clatter to the ground as TAL crashes through them headfirst.
Timo motions for the medical team to come out of the back but, before they can make it down the ramp, Balaam is out of the ring and picking The Old Luchador up like a rag doll from the floor.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador appears to have picked up a gash in his left shoulder, no doubt from landing in that pile of chairs.
Richard Parker: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins!”
Nick Stuart: Did you come up with that on your own?
Richard Parker: Of course not, I was taught from on high, The Word! Hebrews 9:22, which is an echo of Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
Nick looks at his broadcast partner dumbstruck.
Richard Parker: That is “Saint” Parker to you!
Blood does indeed start to trickle down TAL’s arm and he seems to be dumbstruck from the power of that move. Balaam looks forward to Duke and Joe Burro for instruction and Duke grins at his son’s monster. Joe Burro holds The Good Book aloft and shouts at Balaam while Duke slinks to the other side of the ring.
Joe Burro: Crucify him!
Balaam hoists The Old Luchador up and at the same time across the ring, quick as he ever was, Duke Williams jumps on the mat to confront Timo Bolamba. The high quality microphones of PRIME aren’t needed to pick up the heated conversation, but they do anyhow.
Duke Williams: Couldn’t cut it anymore, Hoss?
Timo Bolamba: I don’t need to! Get off my mat and stay out of this!
Duke Williams: YOUR mat? I bled for people like you to follow me in the ring. I fought the legends that built your path, son. Hell, I AM the legend that YOU followed.
The two PCW alumni are nearly nose to nose across the ring as Joe Burro is tying TAL’s arms in the top two ropes. He jumps down off the mat and Balaam lets The Old Luchador hang like Christ from the ring ropes.
The referee backs up a few feet and Duke smiles in equal parts angelic and devilish. For the moment forgetting his place, Timo motions for Duke to get in the ring and prove it. Duke thinks about it for a minute and looks around as the PRIME faithful rise to their feet, recognizing these two warriors with a twenty-plus year history that have never faced one another are finally about to square off.
Outside the ring, Joe Burro is directing the monster expertly. Balaam roars and scares away a ring attendant to grab their chair and heads back towards TAL as he hangs helplessly from the ropes.
Nick Stuart: I don’t like where this is headed. The Anglo Luchador is helpless to the machinations of the monster right now!
Duke Williams takes another pause before stepping through the ropes and right up to Timo’s face. The two PCW veterans stand eye to eye talking aggressively to one another. Duke says something that draws the referee’s ire and the Samoan smiles confidently, raising his hand and telling him “come on”. Finally Duke has had enough of the Samoan’s smugness and pushes the referee with both hands. As Timo steps backwards, he nods and points at the old cowboy.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think it was wise to lay hands on an official, even if he did bait him!
Richard Parker: That Big-Head Bolamba has no authority to do this! Duke didn’t do anything wrong!
Nick Stuart: He clearly pushed Timo, and the referee’s are not to be assaulted.
Timo Bolamba: You’re gone Duke!
The referee points to the ramp and throws Duke Williams out from ringside! Duke is absolutely fuming and stomps within the ring. Timo turns his attention around and sees The Old Luchador hanging by the ropes with Joe Burro holding his legs so he can’t move while Balaam approaches with a chair.
Timo Bolamba: You’re gone Burro!
He throws the other member of the clergy out of the ringside area as well and the fans cheer heavily while Duke and Joe regroup before heading up the ramp, protesting as they do. Balaam stands still for a moment unsure of what to do without guidance. The Anglo Luchador knows exactly what to do, kicking out with everything he has into Balaam’s face and knocking him back into the barrier. Timo checks on The Old Luchador as TAL untangles his arms.
Richard Parker: That no good Jitterbug carrying Bolamba! He did that on purpose!
Nick Stuart: On purpose or not, Balaam is in big trouble without Duke and Burro!
The Anglo Luchador jumps off the ring apron and plants his bloody elbow squarely into the forehead of Balaam. The larger man teeters, and TAL loads up a knife edge chop into the big man’s chest with an echoing slap before delivering another, and another.
Timo is in the ring counting the two combatants as they do battle outside the ring. TAL loads up another chop and Balaam groans as he takes the veteran’s offense across a reddening chest. Balaam pushes The Old Luchador away and stumbles toward the ring, unsure what to do. He shakes his head and rolls into the ring, trying to formulate a plan as his eyes search the sides of the ring in vain.
Nick Stuart: Balaam looks completely lost, I hope he doesn’t get hurt in there!
Richard Parker: Balaam is the Mask of Malice, he does the hurting, not the other way around.
The Old Luchador rolls back in the ring and charges at Balaam to try to build on his momentum, but Balaam lashes out like a hammer, clubbing TAL to the ground with a thudding forearm. He follows by kicking The Anglo Luchador in the ribs one, two, three, four times! Timo circles and watches the action closely.
TAL rolls on the ground and Balaam charges forward, punting The Old Luchador out of the ring through the bottom and middle ropes. The behemoth rolls out on the adjacent side of the ring and stomps around the corner. As he does, The Anglo Luchador pops up and tosses the steel chair at him, and Balaam catches it with both hands.
The Anglo Luchador: SAY GOODNIGHT, JOHN BOY!
TAL leaps to the edge of the apron and off in one smooth motion, double-drop kicking the chair right into Balaam’s face.
The Godzillian man stumbles backward and falls on his back with a tremendous thud!
Nick Stuart: That is the first time Royko has been off his feet as the monster Balaam!
Richard Parker: Damn that Luchador! Damn that Timo Bolamba! They are a plague on Hoyt’s good name!
Nick Stuart: Speaking of Timo, he has started the count on the two competitors.
Timo Bolamba: ONE!
TAL knows Balaam won’t stay down for long and turns tail to run. Balaam gets to his feet and gives chase.
Timo Bolamba: TWO!
The Old Luchador hops a barricade and runs through the crowd up an aisle. Balaam is hot on his heels.
Timo Bolamba: THREE!
As TAL makes it to the entry to section 130-140, he grabs a Pretzel cart and overturns it in the monster’s path.
Timo Bolamba: FOUR!
The Anglo Luchador disappears in the concourse briefly before appearing in the entry to section 120-130. He pulls a lighting rig down and scampers behind a row of seats with the PRIME Faithful cheering him on as he does.
Timo Bolamba: FIVE!
Balaam roars through the curtain and trips over the lighting rig. The Old Luchador pauses long enough to snap a selfie with a fan and slap a few hands before waving at Balaam and bolting as The Mask of Malice cuts a straight line through the crowd, fans scattering and chairs clattering.
Timo Bolamba: SIX!
Balaam barely misses The Anglo Luchador as he ducks under his giant meathook, and the large man plows through a storage container. TAL heads toward the ring, throwing chairs on the ground all down the aisle to slow the monster down.
Timo Bolamba: SEVEN!
As Balaam shakes his head and looks for his prey, TAL throws a large soda at him, hitting him squarely in the chest. The behemoth roars in fury as he plows forward, slowed but not stopped by the piles of chairs in his path.
Timo Bolamba: EIGHT!
The Anglo Luchador runs back toward the ring now, with Balaam in HOT pursuit. Nick Stuart and Richard Parker stand up as TAL and The Mask of Malice barrels down the aisle.
Timo Bolamba: NINE!
The Old Luchador leaps for everything he is worth as Timo’s hands are coming up for the ten count and barely makes the edge of the ring. He clutches the rope and scrambles his legs for purchase, catching his left foot and just sneaking under the bottom rope.
Timo Bolamba: TEN! RING THE BELL!
There is no time to celebrate as Balaam leaps from the ground up to the apron and over the top rope in a two step move that defies both his size and physics. Before TAL can react, he is in the monster’s grasp, and thrown halfway across the ring into the corner.
Nick Stuart: Balaam has absolutely lost it! Where are Duke and Burro to calm him down? Why is Hoyt conspicuously absent from the owners box?
Richard Parker: This is what you get when you antagonize Hoyt!
Balaam continues beating TAL unmercifully, hammering on him with bludgeoning shots like a great ape tossing the much smaller luchador around in his infinite wrath. Timo Bolamba tries to step in and narrowly avoids a clubbing blow from the unchained monster.
Finally Hoyt appears at the top of the ramp bathed in white light, decked in his pearlescent suit embroidered with a crucified Jesus Christ on the back. Balaam looks up to his keeper before rolling out of the ring and leaving TAL in a heap in the corner.
Richard Parker: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” Matthew 10:8.
Nick Stuart: Timo is frantically calling the medical team out to the ring right now, and The Anglo Luchador appears to have paid the price for his victory.
A hush falls over the crowd as the team circles the fallen luchador. The cameras linger in the ring, trying to make their way past the crowd of medical officials. Timo paces nervously as he looks at the fallen competitor.
After what seems like an eternity, he slowly sits up and pushes back the medical team. The Old Luchador shakes his head and slowly stands up using the ropes for support. Timo steps over to attend to his friend and they talk briefly before Timo holds up The Anglo Luchador’s hand in victory.
Vince Howard: Here is your winner…THEEE AAAAAANGLOOOOO LUUUUUUCHADOOOOR!
Richard Parker: I am SO EXCITED about this next bit, Nick – we have a piece of gen-you-wine journalism!
Nick Stuart: That’s right, partner. On ReVival 5, we saw the much-ballyhooed debut of the very dangerous FLAMBERGE, and in the ring he certainly didn’t disappoint! However, a low blow from the ever-conniving Genevie Carlson was his downfall, and the journey for his first win has been forced to take a side track.
Richard Parker: We heard the rumors that Henri Lavigne was rage-fueled about the loss. Justified, in my opinion, and the Frenchman’s fury caused a major scene backstage, but our one cameraman with a SPINE decided to get the real scoop, and we have it here now!
Nick Stuart: You’re way too excited about this.
Richard Parker: No one gets angry quite like the French! I live for this stuff.
We cut to a video feed that, for now, is outside a set of double doors with a sign reading “MALE TALENT”. The cameraman inches closer and closer to the door, but before we see anyone, we hear them.
“Foute toi and your ‘bright side’ so-and-so, Monsieur Darby!”
“Henri, we’ve been over this, we knew that going undefeated was never realistic-”
“IMBECILE, THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE UNDEFEAT! THIS IS ABOUT THE SPORT! L’ATHLETIQUE!”
Though we don’t hear it, a subtle raising and lowering of our point of view indicates the cameraman’s deep breath as we see a hand lightly push one of the double doors ajar. The camera, sneakily as possible, finds its way into viewing a sliver of the locker room. Fuzzy for a moment before refocusing, we see the figure of Henri Lavigne pacing up and down a row of lockers. Nearby, Mr. Darby has removed his bright suit jacket and rolled up his dress shirt sleeves to the elbow, and he stands with hands on hips, following Henri as he paces back and forth.
Henri Lavigne: For over twenty years, Monsieur Darby, this boy has been my PROTEGE. We have built this moment, OUR moment, por VINGT ANS! And this, the ramshackle, the PRIME Wrestlings refuse to enact the overturn, malgré la tricherie évidente.
Mr. Darby: Wins and losses aren’t everything, Hen-
Henri Lavigne: Do not. Lecture me. About the losing.
It’s only now that we see a third figure, sitting on a bench in front of an open locker some distance away from the conversation. The camera zooms in a bit, and we see FLAMBERGE. An ice pack, presumably for his groin, sits on the bench next to him. His expression remains stoic, if a bit tired and disinterested. After a few moments of lingering, it’s unclear if he’s blinking or even breathing as he stares into the locker.
Henri Lavigne: You’ve never lost, Monsieur Darby, the way that I have lost. I know what it is like to have the career and the dream and the culmination of the decades of the hard work and the sacrifice, end like nothing. Poof, gone. No one remembers you! May as well be un fantôme.
Mr. Darby: ENOUGH.
Mr. Darby steps forward, which is more than enough cause for Henri Lavigne to puff out his chest and step forward with crazy eyes.
Mr. Darby: You either can’t or won’t see the machine that’s in motion here, Henri. That Brets sponsorship – do you think that was an accident? The chants, the “FLAMBO’S GONNA KILL YOU” stuff before he’s EVER wrestled on a major professional broadcast, who do you think got us here??
Henri’s still bug-eyed, though he raises his eyebrow at this comment.
Mr. Darby: You’re so stuck living in the past, so focused on retaking some “win” that you think was stolen from you 16 years ago, and you’re sabotaging the most sure-fire cash-cow-in-the-making for the professional wrestling business in a GENERATION.
Henri Lavigne: SABOTAGE??
Henri slaps Mr. Darby in the face, HARD. Mr. Darby reels.
Mr. Darby: OW!!
Not the cool retort he may have wished to have preloaded for such a moment. Henri’s eyes catch something out of the corner of his eyes-
Henri Lavine: …merde.
-the camera. Henri sheepishly turns his face away, making a beeline for his son. Darby holds a hand to his cheek and watches Henri walk away before straightening out his shirt and tie (for something, anything, to control at this moment). FLAMBERGE has reached into the locker for a travel-size pack of Brets chips (onion and balsamic vinegar flavor, because that’s Brets for you), and he’s working on opening them from his seat on the bench as his father approaches him. The feed cuts.
Richard Parker: Give that cameraman a raise!
Nick Stuart: I can understand why our reporters expressed concern about approaching FLAMBERGE with that loose cannon around. We appreciate Mr. Darby’s professionalism in being able to compose himself for his post-ReVival statement.
Richard Parker: These two need to sort this out fast, I want to see more FLAMBERGE on my screen as soon as possible!
HELL OR HIGH WATER
A scene opens deep in the bowels of the MGM Grand Garden Arena backstage area. Someone stands with his back to the camera and quietly talking into a burner phone held to his ear.
Even without seeing the face, the denim vest covered in an assortment of punk and metal patches is a dead giveaway.
Rezin: …are you there yet? …GOOD! Now, put it all down on ME, just like we discussed…
We can’t hear the other end of the conversation, but whatever the response is, it causes the Escape Artist to let out an irritated growl.
Rezin: …DAMBIT, dude! You’re harshing my vibe with all this whining about “my life savings” and “my kids’ college fund” and “my wife is gonna leave me if she finds out about this”! I told you, this is IN THE BAAG! You do your part, and I’ll do MINE in the ring! When have I EVER let you down?!
The ever inquisitive junior reporter Simon Tillier slips into the frame, mic in hand as always.
Rezin: …okay, THAT wasn’t my fault! They LIED about how much that llama could hold when they sold it to us! And how was I supposed to know the condom was faulty!
The interviewer readjusts his glasses as he inspects the scene. Rezin is growing livid as he gets deeper into the conversation.
Rezin: …WHAT?! LIES!! You got that all wrong! That was all VERMIN SUPREME’S fault! That sum’bish promised me TIME TRAVEL!
Tillier timidly tip-toes his way over to Rezin. He knows he probably shouldn’t interrupt… but curiosity is getting the better of him.
Rezin: …THAT–well, yeah, okay, I’ll own up to that one. My bad, or whatever. Water under the bridge. Do you know if they ever found his other foot?
Simon reaches out to tap the shoulder…
Rezin: Look, dude, stop getting your loincloth in a tangle and just TRUST ME here! We CAN’T FAIL! And when it’s all over, we’ll make out like KINGS! KINGS, I TELL YOU!!
Simon Tillier: …Rezin?
Faster than a dude who’s just been caught by his girl scrolling through another girl’s Insta profile, the phone gets thrown to the floor and OBLITERATED under the Goat Bastard’s hoof!
Rezin twirls around, brimming with alarm and anger, and Tillier suddenly finds one of his blackened fingers pointed threateningly under his chin.
Rezin: DAMBIT, SIMON!! WHAT DID I TELL YA ABOUT SNEAKIN’ UP ON ME!!
Simon stammers nervously, frozen like a rabbit caught in the coils of a snake.
Simon Tillier: OH GEEZ! S-sorry, Rezin… I-I didn’t mean to interrupt your, um… your what have you.
Simon is obviously referring to the shattered pieces of electronic equipment underneath Rezin’s boot, which he nonchalantly sweeps aside.
Rezin: You aren’t interrupting NOTHIN’, Simon! I was merely deep in my ritual pre-match meditation–my STONE ZONE–when you happened to be eaves-doping on a conversation I was having with MYSELF!
Simon Tillier: …do you mean “eavesdropping”?
Rezin: I mean eaves-DOPING, ya normie! In any case, I ain’t got time tonight to be diggin’ holes out in the desert, if ya catch my drift, so do yourself a favor and forget whatever you think you just saw and-slash-OR heard… which again, was NOTHING!
Simon Tillier: Okay, no worries here! Out of sight and out of mind!
Rezin: Good now… WHADDYA WANT?!
Simon Tiller: Uhhh, well… I know this looks like the standard pre-match interview, but actually they just sent me to make sure you were in the building, given you’re in the five-way later tonight for the Five Star Championship. You… do remember that you have a match tonight, don’t you?
Rezin scoffs so hard that it leaves the junior reporter wiping flecks of spittle from his glasses.
Rezin: C’MAAWN… I know I can be a TAD scatterbrained, but my memory ain’t yet THAT scrambled, Chris!
Simon Tillier: Simon.
Rezin: WHATEVER! Point is, I’ve been waiting WEEKS for this match… OBSESSING over this moment! They call this event CULTURE SHOCK…and I was MADE to SHOCK CULTURES!
The Goat Bastard grins maniacally as he holds up his Zippo and shakes it lightly
Rezin: Everything you’ve seen out of the ESCAPE ARTIST up until now was merely setting the kindling, but once I STEAL this rotten company’s fancy-pants Five Star Title, I will at last IGNITE an UNSTOPPABLE INFERNO of PUNK ROCK CHAOS that will CONSUME ALL of PRIME!
Rezin cackles as he pulls a joint from his vest pocket and lights on up. Tillier’s face curls up as if he’s just tasted rancid milk.
Simon Tillier: I can only hope you’re speaking in metaphor, and not actually planning to set the building on fire. Still, I can’t imagine your scheme to take that championship will be an easy one to pull off, with a strong line-up of up-and-comers standing in your way! Names like Hanlon, Warstein, Ryan… even JC Hall! No doubt, tonight they’ll be just as hungry and motivated to win as you!
Rezin’s eyes narrow into slits as he exhales twin trails of dopesmoke through his nostrils, still grinning like a creep.
Rezin: Yeah yeah, fine athletes in their own right, I’m sure. Future stars, all of ‘em… and MAYBE, in any typical one-on-one match, any one of ‘em COULD have a chance at keeping up with a crazy daredevil muthafugga like ME!
He holds up his hands and wiggles all five fingers on his hand.
Rezin: But with ALL THOSE EGOS in that ring at once? With the STAKES being greater than ever before in our careers? That’s a formula for CHAOS… and as you all witnessed at ReVival 5, CHAOS is where I THRIVE! This overblown concept of “gReAtNeSs” ain’t anything when compared to the ability to be in the RIGHT PLACE at the RIGHT TIME, and that’s all I have to do TONIGHT!
Simon Tillier: Well, I won’t deny that you may have an advantage there, but aren’t you worried that by simply stepping back and waiting for a moment to steal the victory, you’d be tarnishing some of the time-honored prestige of that title?
Rezin: WHO GIVES A FUCK ABOUT “PRESTIGE?” This is REALITY!!
Rezin turns his jackyl-like grin to the camera.
Rezin: SURVIVAL of the FITTEST is what this comes down to, and I’ve SURVIVED TOO MUCH to allow myself to be denied of WHAT EYE WANT! Hell or HIGH water, I’M LEAVIN’ HERE WITH THAT FIVE STAR CHAMPIONSHIP!! So to ANY of ya normie scum out there that have an issue with that… EXPECT TO BE DISAPPOINTED! BUT, as some consolation… at least you get the privilege of watching what promises to be a five star wrestling match…
His face lights up and he slaps his forehead as it suddenly becomes all clear.
Rezin: HOLY SHIT! I just now realized why it’s called that! WOW, what a mindfuck!
He takes another anti-heroic drag from his spliff and points daringly into the camera, eyes wild and bulging.
Rezin: Now it’s YOUR TURN to get your MINDS FUCKED, PRIME!
The Escape Artist lets out a cloud of smoke and adjusts his battle vest as he steps out of the shot. We’re left looking at Simon breathing a sigh of relief that the interview is over, just before the feed transitions back to the ring.
UNIVERSAL TITLE #1 CONTENDERS MATCH: ANNA DANIELS vs. JULIAN BATHORY vs. IMPULSE vs. TEDDY PALMER
“(Let’s get it.)
Said he wanna go outside and to chop it up,
I’m like ‘cough it up, bruh, is it not enough?’”
The Garden rises to their feet, bouncing along with “Leave me Lonely” by the Hilltop Hoods. Teddy Palmer emerges to bounce with them, determined in his march to the ring, but pumping a fist and pointing out to the fans.
Vince Howard: Our next contest is scheduled for one fall, and will establish the number one contender for the Universal Championship! Introducing first, out of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, standing six feet, one inch tall and weighing in at two-hundred and fifteen pounds…TEDDY! PAAALMMEERR!!
Nick Stuart: You heard the man! It’s time to name the number one contender for the Universal Title! And Teddy Palmer is the first out to stake his claim!
Richard Parker: His jaw looks funny, a little crooked after Jiles put him to sleep?
Teddy reaches the floor, but before he can enter the ring, the music shifts to the spooky sounds of “A Darkness in my Soul,” by A Solid Space. Palmer turns his head to see The Time Lord, eerily already standing at the top of the ramp.
Vince Howard: Next, from Mount Perdition, Gallifrey, standing five feet, seven inches tall and weighing in at one-hundred and thirty-seven pounds…The Muse…ANNA! DAANNIELLSS!!
“Into the wild.
Thoughts of an,
Palmer smirks as Anna strolls down the ramp, the fans in The Garden continuing their rolling applause. Teddy slides in as Daniels approaches, passing off her robe and headpiece.
Nick Stuart: The Muse took a hard loss to Palmer at ReVival 4, and you can bet that she’ll be looking to even the score here at Culture Shock!
Richard Parker: Nick.
Nick Stuart: …yes?
Richard Parker: She’s SO weird.
She slides in, eyeballing Teddy, until the music makes its next shift;
The Enigma TNG.
Nick Stuart: Speaking of weirdos.
From one creepy song to another, The Prince of Tears emerges alongside Bruce “Violence Jack” Shanahan. The roars of the MGM Garden transition fromr cheers to heavy boos as the two take their time on their way down the ramp.
Vince Howard: On his way to the ring, accompanied by Violence Jack, hailing from Szeged, Hungary, standing six feet, one inch and weighing two-hundred and twenty-six pounds…The New World Savior…JULIAN! BAAAATHORYYY!!”
Nick Stuart: ReVival 4 also didn’t go quite as planned for Julian Bathory, taking a hard loss to Impulse and missing the opportunity to advance in the Almasy Invitational.
Richard Parker: Maybe, but make no mistake, a loss in the Almasy Tournament isn’t going to stop a guy like Julian Bathory. MESSIAH is here, and PRIME has to deal with it.
The two faces of MESSIAH pay little mind to Daniels and Palmer, instead electing to wait outside by the steps.
And like a lightswitch, “Cannonball” by SIRSY cuts through the spectral tunes of The Enigma TNG, and the crowd turns back to heavy cheers. Impulse and Cally emerge, a determined grin on Impulse’s face to balance Cally’s cheerful smile.
Nick Stuart: And there’s the man who beat him!
Vince Howard: And finally, accompanied by Calico Rose, hailing from New York, New York! Standing five-feet, ten inches and weighing in at one-hundred and ninety-one pounds…The Marathon Man…IIIIIMPUUUULLSEEE!!!!
Nick Stuart: The Marathon Man successfully took out The Carpathian Devil, taking it all the way to the semi-finals at ReVival 5, where he nearly toppled the Tower of Babel, Brandon Youngblood.
Richard Parker: I won’t lie, I’m impressed the little guy could take Youngblood to the twelfth round. Let’s see if that engine of his can keep up with three opponents.
The pair march their way to the floor, Impulse keeping an eye on Bathory and Shanahan. Cally eventually breaks off to ham it up with some fans. The Marathon Man starts to remove his leather jacket, and is instantly bull-rushed by the MESSIAH duo, Shanahan throwing a knee into his stomach to double him over before pulling his leather jacket over his head like a hockey fight, Bathory coming in throwing hard forearms to his back. Referee Elvis Nixon takes a deep breath, and calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: The battle for Next in Line starts now!
In the ring, Anna Daniels moves on Palmer quickly, backing him up with a series of kicks and strikes. Palmer goes on the defense, backing into the corner. Outside, Impulse weathers the storm. Cally breaks from the fans and runs in, jumping onto the back of Violence Jack.
Richard Parker: NOT smart, little girl!
Shanahan reaches behind looking to find a wrist to remove her. She jumps off, backpedaling as VJ stomps toward her, roaring in her face. She holds up her hands in defense, which is enough for Jack, who glares and turns away, marching back to finish his work with Impulse. Instead, he finds his face hitting the floor as Cally baseball slides from behind to trip him up.
Nick Stuart: You were saying?
She throws the crowd a wink before finding her place on the opposite end. Meanwhile, Impulse worms his way out of his jacket, diving under the ropes and into the ring, forcing Bathory to give chase. The Time Lord continues to barrage Palmer with strikes from hands and feet, while Bathory ties up with Impulse, overpowering him and throwing him into the opposite turnbuckle.
Richard Parker: Everyone in! Let’s make a mess!
Across the ring, Teddy is able to push past the fists of Daniels to throw a hard shoulder into her face, forcing her back. He follows up with a hard elbow, and another, but before can deliver a third The Time Lord puts a boot in his gut with a stiff side kick. In the opposite corner, Bathory drives repeated knees into the torso of Impulse before pulling him toward center and snapmaring him to the ground. The Prince of Tears drops down, gripping Impulse in headlock, wrenching him left and right.
Nick Stuart: Teddy and Anna keeping each other occupied while Bathory takes it to Impulse, but – oh my!
Richard Parker: Incoming!
Teddy Palmer comes flying out of nowhere, crashing into the back of the Carpathian Devil thanks to a whip from Daniels, Bathory losing his grip on Impulse. Bathory scrambles to his feet, only to find The Time Lord bolting forward with a leaping lariat into the ropes, sending him over the top, but before she can turn back to the ring she finds herself wrapped up by Palmer, who heaves backwards and lets go, sending her crashing to her back.
Nick Stuart: Release German suplex! Palmer with the cover! One! Tw…and broken up by Impulse!
The Marathon Man stops the count with a baseball slide to Teddy’s noggin. Impulse barrels forward with a forearm to Teddy’s face, but Palmer retaliates with a stiff European uppercut. Impulse reels, but keeps his composure as Teddy advances, catching him with an armdrag.
Nick Stuart: Takedown from Impulse, and he’s got the armbar!
Richard Parker: Early tapout, let’s GO!
Teddy squirms to break free, reaching back for the ropes to no avail. He scoots his hips, but Impulse keeps the hold locked in. Anna Daniels has recovered, climbing to a knee and looking to break up the hold, but eats canvas as Violence Jack grabs her by the feet for the trip up.
Nick Stuart: Shanahan sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong! Again!
Richard Parker: But it made room for Bathory!
The Prince of Tears slides in quickly, a sliding dropkick breaking up the hold. Impulse back-rolls out, leaving Palmer to clutch his elbow, and pops to his feet, falling back against the ropes to rebound back.
Nick Stuart: Impulse off the ropes, on the rebound, and eats a leg lariat from Bathory!
The New World Savior drags The Marathon Man to his feet, delivering a few closed-fist shots to the side of his head.
Nick Stuart: Impulse in trouble, Bathory’s feeding him the right hand…fisherman’s snap swinging neckbreaker! Tell em’ what it’s called, Richard!
Richard Parker: I couldn’t pronounce it at ReVival 4, and I can’t pronounce it now.
Nick Stuart: Worth a shot. Ode to Azazoth! Bathory with the pin! Elvis with the count!
Richard Parker: Teddy breaks up the fun!
Indeed, Palmer breaks up the pin with a diving clobber to Bathory’s back. He’s back to his feet, energized and ready for all three to stand up. Anna’s first, squaring up just in time to meet the side of Teddy’s boot.
Nick Stuart: Enziguri from Palmer!
Richard Parker: That one sent Strange Girl back to her home planet!
Teddy kips up, the crowd building. Impulse is next, and Teddy is on him quick, scooping him up with a flip and dropping The Marathon Man’s back across his knee.
Nick Stuart: Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker! Teddy is rolling!
Richard Parker: Probably on LSD!
Palmer grins viciously, hands on his knees as he waits for Bathory to rise. He steps forward, throwing Bathory’s arm over his shoulder, hoists him up, and spikes him down over the back.
Nick Stuart: EXPLODER SUPLEX! TEDDY PALMER WITH A BIG VOLLEY!
Teddy beats a fist against his chest, roaring out with the bellowing crowd. Getting back on task, he turns to Bathory.
Nick Stuart: Teddy with a clear lane, looking for the pin on Batho…ANNA DANIELS WITH THE SCHOOL BOY!
Richard Parker: Buddy-Boy Palmer better pay a little more attention!
Teddy back-rolls to his feet, but Anna is quicker, looping an arm around his neck and twisting before dropping him to the mat with a neckbreaker. She pops up strides to a corner while Palmer rolls from his back to his stomach. She waits a moment as he gets to all fours, then runs forward to strike.
Nick Stuart: BIG punt to the head from The Muse!!
Richard Parker: Man, she really likes punting people…
Teddy goes stiff for a moment before flopping onto his back. Anna turns to pin, but a standing dropkick from Impulse sends her backward over the ropes and to the outside. The crowd roaring, Impulse takes a moment to compose, turning 180…
…to find the now-standing Carpathian Devil across from him.
Richard Parker: Ohhh man, NOW Julian gets his chance for a little revenge!
Nick Stuart: Their match at ReVival 4 was hard fought, no doubt Julian’s been itching for a little payback!
The two circle a moment before meeting in the middle for the lock-up. A test of strength is quickly interrupted with a knee to the gut from Bathory, followed by an elbow to the back.
Nick Stuart: Bathory with the upper hand, driving elbows in the back of The Marathon Man. HARD whip off the ropes, Impulse on the return…STUN GUN FROM BATHORY!
Impulse’s face bounces hard off the top rope, sending him back and maintaining his footing, but stepping back into the waiting arms of The Carpathian Devil, slinging The Marathon Man’s right arm across the neck and scooping him up by the knee with the other arm.
Nick Stuart: Impulse wrapped up, big lift from Bathory…and a cut-throat Saito suplex flattens Impulse!
Richard Parker: Crushed him like a bug!
Impulse flops backward to his stomach, down for the count. The Prince of Tears pivots to his feet, reaching to roll his opponent to his back.
Nick Stuart: Bathory with the opportunity, looking for the pin..
Richard Parker: LOOK OUT FOR STRANGE GIRL!
Julian looks upward at the last moment to see The Time Lord leaping down on him with a pair of legs around the neck, twisting and flipping him onto his head with a dull thud.
Nick Stuart: ANNA DANIELS OFF THE TOP ROPE! SPIKE HURRICANRANA! THE TIME LORD BACK IN THE GAME!
Bathory flips over after the top of his head eats canvas, dazed and flopping forward into a seated position. Anna acts quickly, wrapping an arm across his face from behind and dragging him upward before twisting and dropping back to the mat with a reverse neckbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Sombras Que Corta!! Anna with the pin!
Richard Parker: Violence Jack saves the day!!
Nick Stuart: AGAIN! Get this man OUT of the arena!!
Shanahan is there ringside, wrenching and sliding Bathory by the feet to escape the pin. He tends to Bathory, barking orders while Julian shakes the cobwebs, but he doesn’t have long.
Nick Stuart: BUT ANNA DANIELS ISN’T DONE YET!
The Muse springboards off the ropes with a 360 turn, catching The New World Savior around the neck, and with another rotation she plants him to the floor with a hard DDT.
Nick Stuart: 720 DDT! Anna Daniels is TAKING it to The Prince of Tears!
Richard Parker: She has a death wish if she thinks she can take on MESSIAH!
Shanahan, outraged, drives a boot into Anna’s ribs, toppling her over. He keeps laying the boots to her while Julian stirs to his hands and knees. Groggily he gets to his feet, and seeing Shanahan handling Daniels, opts to clamber back into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Bathory leaving the dirty business to his mentor, looks like he’s going after the downed Palmer or Impulse…
Richard Parker: IMPULSE ISN’T DOWN!!
Barreling from across the ring, The Marathon Man absolutely clobbers Bathory with a leaping clothesline, sending him back over the ropes, Impulse flying over the top with him. Both bodies rag-doll to the floor, landing on top of the unexpecting Violence Jack and adding to the pile of bodies.
Richard Parker: What a mess! I thought Impulse liked to keep things inside the ring!
Nick Stuart: It’s a four-way, Richard! You never know what’ll happen!
Richard Parker: You’re telling me! Usually you gotta pay extra for that kinda thing, especially in Vegas!
The four bodies outside use the ring apron and security wall for assistance, fighting to their feet. An enraged Violence Jack picks out Impulse, feeding him right hands. Bathory takes out his frustration on Daniels with a few hard boots. Meanwhile, Teddy Palmer is regaining consciousness after the punt from the Time Lord.
Nick Stuart: Teddy Palmer stirring in the ring, he’s not out yet!
Richard Parker: Oh, look who’s up from his nap! If he’s smart he’ll stay-put and let the rest sort themselves out!
No Richard. Not today.
Shaking the jelly out of his legs, Palmer sees the chaos outside of the ring. Wait it out? Or go for glory?
He charges forward and leaps over the ropes, arms outstretched as he collides with the brawl outside.
Nick Stuart: AND TEDDY PALMER BACK IN THE FIGHT WITH A SUICIDE DIVE!!
The MGM is bellowing into the rafters, Palmer laying across the bodies of his competitors (plus Violence Jack.) With the shake of the head he’s first to his feet, adrenaline pumping and taking hold of Anna Daniels, rolling her back into the ring and following behind. He drags her to her feet, throwing a hip into the side of her head, another, then pushes her off the ropes, scooping her up on the return and dropping her with a sidewalk slam.
Nick Stuart: Teddy’s found the energy, taking advantage of Impulse and Bathory down on the outside! He needs to capitalize right now!
Leading her to a standing position once more, Teddy takes hold of her wrist, pushing her away and pulling back with the ripcord, burying a knee in her stomach, dropping her to the mat on all fours. The volume rises in the arena.
Nick Stuart: TEDDY LOOKING FOR THE NOSEBLEED SECTION!
Richard Parker: Face to freakin’ canvas!
A light bounce off the ropes and Teddy rebounds, looking for the curb stomp.
Nick Stuart: Impulse back in the ring!
Diving under the ropes and popping to his feet, The Marathon Man intercepts Palmer, swiftly flushing him across the back and slamming him into the mat.
Nick Stuart: SAMOAN DROP!
Richard Parker: And now he’s headed up top!
The endurance of Impulse on full display, he pops up and heads for the ring post, ascending quickly to the top. Meanwhile, Anna Daniels drags herself toward a corner nearby, using the ropes for assistance. Cameras flash as Impulse balances and leaps into a graceful gainer, rotating and connecting a clean leg drop across Palmer’s face and neck.
Nick Stuart: Shooting Star Press connects! Impulse for the pin!
Impulse drapes his back across Teddy’s chest and hooks the leg.
Nick Stuart: AND NOW ANNA DANIELS OFF THE TOP!
In a picture perfect gainer of her own, The Time Lord adds a corkscrew, breaking up the count with a Shooting Star Press of her own, taking the air out of Impulse as she lands a leg across his abdomen, and further compressing the body of Teddy Palmer.
Richard Parker: HOLY HELL!
Nick Stuart: CAKE OR DEATH FROM THE MUSE!! THE NEXT SHOT AT THE UNIVERSAL TITLE WON’T BE WON EASILY!
Richard Parker: But here comes Bathory to take advantage!
The roars of the crowd shift to heavy boos as The New World Savior climbs into the ring amidst his breathless opponents. Anna, woozy but the freshest of the trio, becomes his next target. Bathory, having had enough of this mess, doubles The Time Lord over and hooks an arm over her head, hoisting her with a single arm lift and bringing her down across his knees with a chest-buster.
Nick Stuart: Verzik Angyal from The Prince of Tears!
Richard Parker: Can this guy even pretend to try to name moves we can pronounce?
Anna falls to her back, and Bathory covers.
Nick Stuart: IMPULSE BREAKING THE COUNT!
The Marathon Man makes a last ditch effort and dives, driving his forearms into Julian’s shoulder to force the break. Violence Jack barks from the sidelines at referee Elvis Nixon, then instructs Bathory toward Impulse. The New World Savior stalks Impulse as he continues to gather himself. However, Bathory hunches over to draw Impulse over his shoulders, hooks a leg, and swings him to the canvas, planting him squarely on his back.
Nick Stuart: And a Carpathian Death Song on Impulse!!
Richard Parker: That one’s easier, and that HAS to be it!
Bathory is quick to pin, gritting his teeth. Elvis drops for the count.
Nick Stuart: AND NOW PALMER WITH THE BREAK UP!!
Teddy, with his last ounces of life, dives forward and pounds Bathory’s back with a double ax handle, breaking another count from The Prince of Tears. Palmer lies on his stomach after breaking the pin, body heaving to find air.
Richard Parker: You gotta be kidding me!!
Nick Stuart: Bathory can’t believe it!
Bathory fumes through snarling teeth, and violently rips Teddy from the ground, locking him up in a cobra clutch and wrenching him overhead, letting him fly with a release suplex.
Nick Stuart: And The Last Resort made famous by Violence Jack to make it three…ANNA DANIELS WITH THE EYE GOUGE!
Bathory reels from the sudden leap from the mat by the Time Lord, clutching his eye after she shoves her thumb in it, but is able to block a follow-up right from The Muse, wrapping an arm around her neck, bending her backwards, and violently twisting her to the mat with a swinging reverse STO.
Nick Stuart: CHAOS REIGNS!!! BATHORY IS ON A RAM…
Richard Parker: ..OH!!! BATHORY EATS BOOT!!
Nick Stuart: SUDDEN IMPACT FROM IMPULSE!!
The Garden Arena roars as The Carpathian Devil’s body stiffens from the impact of Randall Knox’s boot, falling like a tree to the mat. Shanahan spews from the mouth at Elvis Nixon, trying to divert his attention, but the veteran referee stays focused. Impulse fights to stay on his feet, turns, and sees Palmer pushing himself to a standing position. The Marathon Man shakes his head, takes a big breath, and kicks high.
Nick Stuart: AND ANOTHER SUDDEN IMPACT ON PALMER!
Teddy falls to the mat like a sack of potatoes after the swat across his jaw. The MGM bellows as Impulse steps over, drops down, and hooks the leg.
Richard Parker: HERE IT IS!!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your WINNER! And NUMBER ONE CONTENDER FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP…IIIIIMPUUUULLLSEEE!!
Violence Jack continues to rage as “Cannonball” returns to the speakers. Impulse props himself up on his knees with a smile on his face. Cally dives into the ring, wrapping herself around his back while the arena rumbles for The Marathon Man.
Nick Stuart: And right after taking the loss from Brandon Youngblood at ReVival 5, Impulse STILL GETS HIS SHOT!! HE IS YOUR NUMBER ONE CONTENDER!!
Richard Parker: And if The Tower of Babel is holding the strap at the end of tonight, that’s a re-match we ALL deserve!
Nick Stuart: Hang on tight!! Next up: Cecilia Ryan! Shawn Warstein! Hayes Hanlon! Jonathan-Christopher Hall! Rezin! And the FIVE! STAR! CHAMPIONSHIP!
Richard Parker: Here! At Culture Shock!
Nick Stuart: On the ACE Network!
Surrounded by fallen competitors and embraced by Calico Rose, The Marathon Man holds a triumphant fist up high before we cut to commercial.
Images and spots during the Number One Contender’s match replay on a screen backstage. Pivoting, the camera reveals one of five opponents set to face off in the upcoming Five Star Title Match;
“Event Horizon,” Hayes Hanlon.
He stares hard at the replays, fingers laced behind his head, ring gear on. The screen shifts to a featurette for the Five Star Match-Up, highlighting the journeys of Hayes, JC Hall, Shawn Warstein, Cecilia Ryan, and Rezin.
Hanlon closes his eyes and breathes heavily through his nose. Short, sharp, erratic breaths.
Hayes Hanlon: (whispering to himself) It’s just a match. It’s just a match. It’s a big match…no, it’s just a match. Biggest match of your life…but just a match. A match that will define the rest of your caree…damnit.
Brandon Youngblood: You’d think you were in a lamaze class or something…
Hayes lurches out of his tunnel, turning quickly to see the Tower of Babel behind him, surprisingly still in street clothes.
Hayes Hanlon: (pressing a hand to his chest) Hoooly shit. Shit. Sorry, I was just…and didn’t see you, and…
Brandon Youngblood: You’re good, kid. Just trying to get a laugh out of you. Helps.
Hayes takes a second, takes one last deep breath before fixing his posture, and extends a hand.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks. Ah…I’m Hayes Hanlon, and forgive me if I have no clever words for The Pariah.
Without hesitation, Brandon takes his hand, nodding his head before speaking.
Brandon Youngblood: I know who you are, kid. Don’t worry. Seem like a good egg…and around here, that means something.
The Last Diamond glances and motions his jaw toward the screen.
Brandon Youngblood: Nervous?
Hayes laughs, almost choking at the question.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, something like that. It’s cool, though! Right? Because it’s not like…the BIGGEST moment of my LIFE or anything. No big deal, I’ll just….sliiiide down the card if I don’t win, and that’s not like…my nightmare or anything.
Youngblood releases an amused snort, then trods forward.
Brandon Youngblood: You need to get out of your head. Clear your mind. Just focus.
The Event Horizon’s brown eyes widen a little before nodding, his breath quickening through his nose again.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah. Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, you caught me being a headcase, and of course you’ve got the BIG one to think about, stressing about the Five Star belt isn’t really your level…
Brandon Youngblood: (raising an eyebrow) I held it three times. Only got pinned for it once. So, yeah, know a bit about that…
Hayes goes visibly white.
Hayes Hanlon: (hunching over) FUCK that makes it so much worse…
Brandon Youngblood: Kid, stop it. I ain’t Dan Ryan. You ain’t getting humiliated. Just chill out…
Hayes Hanlon: You don’t understand, man! Guys like you were my heroes growing up…Tchu, Killean, Nova, YOU. And now I’m in a title match…in PRIME…at CULTURE SHOCK…
Hayes rights his torso, still drawing quick breaths.
Hayes Hanlon: …I don’t know what happens if…
The Tower of Babel smirks a little, gripping Hayes by the shoulders and squaring them up.
Brandon Youngblood: Want me to show you something I used to do before big matches to get some focus?
Hayes curls his lips behind his mustache, nodding quickly.
Brandon Youngblood: Alright, one last breath in. Now, exhale…
Hayes empties his lungs through his mouth, then…
Hanlon’s expression is blank as he fights the urge to stagger back, the hard, stiff slap from Youngblood’s big paw echoing through backstage. Hayes grabs Brandon’s shoulder to help keep himself upright, and The Pariah grabs Hanlon’s opposite to assist.
Brandon Youngblood: Now listen to me…I know you. I’ve known you. Because you’re me. Twenty some odd years ago, I’m pacing, starstruck, the world so damn heavy and me just wanting. It. All. Hayes, you got all the potential in the world. You walked in these doors and, you might not know it, but Lindsay, she has an eye toward the future. Guy like you? Built like you? Hungry like you? Growing skills like you have? You got nothing to be starstruck over. Your arrival already happened. You’re here. You got some grizzled old heads in there like Rezin. You think Jonathan-Christopher Hall has your guts? Your determination? I can tell you, first hand, he don’t. Warstein? He’s just trying to pop some damn bubbles. Cecilia? She might have bloodline on you, but you know what else she has? A damn ego that her old man would struggle to carry on his shoulders, and she just stepped in the door. All things are equal. You go out there, you be Hayes Hanlon, The Event Horizon, and you ain’t slipping down any cards. You make a statement. You take that damn belt. 5 Star Champion Hayes Hanlon. Got a nice ring to it. And when you do, when you go out there, and you be the goddamn man I know you can be, you take that torch all those you mentioned before carried…and you make it your own.
Despite the ringing in his ears and the stars in his vision, the words get through to the young Hanlon, who replies with a nod and a couple claps to the shoulder.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks for that.
The Last Diamond gives The Event Horizon a pat on the cheek before stepping away, heading off down the hall.
Hayes Hanlon: (calling after him) Hey, Pariah…
Hayes Hanlon: If one of these other jerks takes the Five Star strap, PRIME will be alright. But don’t let Jiles steal the Universal Title. Not from you.
The Tower of Babel laughs through his nose, and continues on.
TAG TEAM SURVIVOR: TRIBAL COUNCIL
Our scene fades into Melvin Beauregard sitting at a desk. Behind him the MGM logo is illuminated with overhead lights, while the Survivor logo sits plastered across the front of his desk. Two envelopes are being shuffled in his hands as the Survivor theme music finally stops playing. There are two conspicuous places where obviously Tiki-Torches are missing. Melvin looks at the camera with a smile.
Melvin Beauregard: Hello, and welcome to tribal council… because our competitors are wrestlers, and sometimes things get heated, we did our voting anonymously. So here in my hands, I have the two little envelopes that set the fate for everyone involved tonight.
Melvin smirks and nods his head.
Melvin Beauregard: Sadly, we all saw team Delta Upsilon Iota win tonight in spite of that forklift stealing jerk King Blueberry, and clearly because Solid Gold Rock ‘N Roll was able to get that boulder across the line. But anyway… enough with the theatrics… these envelopes contain everything we need to know for the rest of the night.
Melvin places the first envelope on the desk in front of him. The suspiciously light blue envelope clearly says TEAM V.I.A.G.R.A. across the front. Melvin smiles and opens the envelope.
Melvin Beauregard: Our first team eliminated from Survivor… is 2Become1. Vickie, go ahead and give me a call if you find any friends. I couldn’t appreciate the relationship you and Jonathan-Christopher have anymore. I know I’m married already, but really, this ring is just for show.
A disturbing wink from a power donut having thirty five year old male is enough to repulse anyone. The next envelope, red in color, is placed on the table. CRUDELY CIVILIZED is spelled out in giant letters.
Melvin Beauregard: And I’d like to read the next full text on one of the voting cards, for the reason this vote has happened… AHEM!
Melvin clears his throat awkwardly before addressing the room.
Melvin Beauregard: Remember, I am reading from the card. It says: This place is full of idiots. We quit. Vote out The Bruvs…
Melvin smirks again.
Melvin Beauregard: So there you have it folks, we are down The Hollywood Bruvs, and the lovely team of 2Become1. We have ten teams left in Survivor… and we’ll be coming to you live in two weeks time with our next challenge here at the MGM Grand! Thank you all for watching…
The screen fades to our next scene as Melvin sits back.
FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH: JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL vs. CECILIA RYAN vs. SHAWN WARSTEIN vs. HAYES HANLON vs. REZIN
Our scene fades in from backstage to the announce desk with Nick Stuart and Richard Parker’s smiling faces. The camera takes a brief pan of the arena, and comes back to Nick and Richard.
Nick Stuart: What a night we’ve had so far Richard. Tapioca Puddings take a big win home over Dusk with the help of a debuting Phil Atkens, Tag Team Survivor was well… Exactly what we all thought it would be.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe that’s allowed to be aired on television.
Nick Stuart: Thank god we’re now on streaming platforms.
Richard Parker: I don’t have platforms on.
Nick Stuart: Anyway, The Anglo Luchador’s war of words with Balaam looks destined to continue, and Impulse has locked in being the number one contender for Great American Nightmare.
Richard Parker: Just incase Youngblood doesn’t kill Cancer Jiles, we have another great actual wrestler on the roster ready to take a shot.
Nick Stuart: And up next, we have the Five Star Championship bout… what a match this is set up to be. Hayes Hanlon and Cecilia Ryan, the young upstarts who met in the first round of the Almasy Invitational clash again. This time though they are joined by Shawn Warstein, Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Rezin.
Richard Parker: Which vagrant is Rezin again? I thought that was Garbage Bag Johnny in the photograph.
Nick Stuart: I hate you Richard, let’s send it over to Vince Howard for the introductions.
The foreboding blare of an air raid siren drowns out all crowd noise. The house lights gradually dim.
Ultraviolet backlighting fills up the stage. The silhouette of a man appears and walks to the center of the stage. His features aren’t visible, but the glowing cherry at the end of whatever he’s smoking clearly is.
He takes one last drag and drops it at his feet.
A trail of FIRE suddenly appears and snakes around behind him…
The flames reach the end of the trail, and almost instantaneously, five ten-foot tall letters set up across the stage become engulfed inflames.
R E Z I N
The beginning to “Apocalyptic Havoc” by Goatwhore suddenly rips through the PA. The stage becomes a visual hell of smoke, strobe lights, and flame mortars. On the PRIMEview, scenes of riots, burning buildings, and mushroom clouds plays in an endless, chaotic loop. The A-PUNK-aclypse has come to PRIME!
The figure turns to face the audience and throws his arms out into a christ-pose, revealing himself to be the Goat Bastard himself. Rezin defiantly grins in the face of the deafening jeers raining down upon him from all angles.
Then he comes charging down the ramp, cackling like a madman.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, and weighing in at two-hundred and five pounds… here is “the Escape Artist”… RRREEEEEEZZZIIIIIIIIINNNNNN!!!
Rezin’s energetic approach to the ring is slightly dampened as the combination of his speed and the incline of the ramp cause his momentum to get away from him. He stumbles the last few steps and attempts to save the situation by sliding into the ring.
Instead, he lunges straight into the bottom rope and slingshots himself sprawling back to the ringside floor. The PRIMEates burst out laughing. The Escape Artist rolls back into his knees and scowls angrily into the crowd around him.
Completely unashamed, Rezin pops to his feet and dusts himself off. He tries a different approach this time, hopping to the apron and scaling a turnbuckle to flash twin devil’s horns over his head. After holding in place for a moment to allow for flash photography (there isn’t any), he drops to the mat below, throws out his battle vest, and gets ready to scrap
It isn’t long before “Centuries Remix” blares over the PA system The curtain gets swiped to the side as Shawn Warstein steps through, to a full chorus of boos. The hood on his hoodie is up as his face stays pointing towards the ground.
Nick Stuart: Warstein is here on a mission Richard.
Richard Parker: He better be, this match is full of great wrestlers.
As the song begins for crescendo Shawn lifts his head and pulls the hood down. The widest, most arrogant smile is on his face. It’s as if the jeers are fueling him. The louder they get, the wider his smile goes. As he walks down the ramp several fans heckle him, but with the back of his hand he waves them off and continues, sliding under the bottom rope and into the ring.
VInce Howard: Introducing first, hailing from CHICAGO, Illinois! Shawn WARSTEIN!
Casting a sneer to the ring announcer Warstein continues towards the far corner and climbs up sitting on the top turnbuckle.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, hailing from CHIIIICCCCAAAAGGGGOOO! SHAAAAAAAWN WAAAAAAARSTEIN!
“Legacy” by Daphne Willis plays over the speakers, and Cecilia Ryan steps out onto the stage, her eyes fixed on the ring. She doesn’t pay any attention to the fans as she walks down the ramp to ringside. She rolls into the ring under the bottom rope, then climbs a turnbuckle and looks out into the crowd, arms down and a slight smirk on her face.
Vince Howard: Making her way to the ring… fighting out of TAAAAMPA! CECIIIIILIA RYAN!
“Black Hole,” by We Came as Romans.
White flashbulbs flicker along with the music’s growing beat. The PRIME*View soars into the cosmos, passing planets and nebulas, picking up speed and shaking as it approaches a massive black hole. A wall of white bulbs ignite in the entryway as the song’s intro crescendos, the silhouette of Hayes Hanlon lifts both arms to the ceiling, fingers reaching to the ceiling against the light. They dim as the music quiets, and Hayes walks out to the edge of the ramp, soaking in the spectacle and cheers of the crowd. The music builds again, and Hayes reaches his arms to the sky once more with the chorus.
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAD!”
Vince Howard: And last, from West Linn, Oregon, standing six feet, three inches tall and weighing in at 251 pounds…Event Horizon…HAYES! HANLOONNNN!!
He immediately starts a quick and steady march down the ramp, another bright flash of white filling the arena. The Event Horizon slides into the ring and moves toward the far turnbuckle, stepping onto the first ropes and turning to face the center of the ring.
“I’M FIGHTING THE GRAAVITY, IT’S PULLING THE WORST PART OUT OF ME!
He leans back over the post with his arms outstretched, eyes closed with his chest aimed at the ceiling, the crescendo following the chorus blasting through the arena among the flashbulbs. As Hayes enters the ring he gives Cecilia Ryan a wink and Ashley Barlow calls for the bell.
The match starts off quickly with Hayes Hanlon and Cecilia Ryan pairing off, while Jonathan-Christopher Hall and Shawn Warstein pair up on their side. Rezin stands back in the corner and smiles watching Hayes Hanlon and Cecilia Ryan unloading into each other with right hands.
Nick Stuart: And here we go.
Richard Parker: Is it okay to say I don’t hate this strategy of laying in wait by Rezin?
Nick Stuart: Really?
Richard Parker: He’s like a fungus, he’s growing on me.
Shawn Warstein runs in at the exhausted Jonathan-Christopher Hall and begins throwing knife edge chops into JCH’s chest. Hall falls backwards under the onslaught, and Warstein takes advantage, kicking Hall in the stomach and dropping him to the canvas with a DDT. Vickie begins smacking the apron for JCH to get up, but Warstein locks eyes with a new competitor and scrambles across the ring at the relaxing Rezin.
Nick Stuart: Vickie Hall looks to be upset here, and on the other side of the ring we have Cecilia Ryan and Hayes Hanlon trading blows!
Richard Parker: Cecilia Ryan only throws BOMBS Nick!
Cecilia Ryan and Hayes continue to trade blows, but the smaller Ryan finally catches a right hand with her forearm, Hayes reverses into an arm wrench and throws Ryan into the ropes. Ryan comes running back as the larger Hayes goes for a big clothesline, but Ryan ducks under and keeps running hitting the far ropes. Hanlon ducks for an overhead throw but Ryan drives a low dropkick into Hayes’ knee. Hayes crumples to his knees, and the younger Ryan comes in again with a brutal knee strike to Hanlon. Ryan goes for a quick cover, and Ashley Barlow slides in.
Hanlon kicks out, tossing Cecilia Ryan almost entirely across the ring and into a very surprised Jonathan-Christopher Hall. A stunned JCH rolls Cecilia Ryan up with a roll up and Ashley Barlow jumps across the ring.
Cecilia Ryan kicks out quickly and storms to her feet, very angry at Jonathan-Christopher Hall. Cecilia Ryan and Jonathan-Christopher Hall both jump up to their feet. Hall kicks Ryan in the stomach, but neither have much time to react as Hayes Hanlon comes across the ring and clothesline’s everyone to the outside.
Nick Stuart: WHAT A CLOTHESLINE FROM HANLON!
Richard Parker: Cecilia Ryan isn’t going to be happy about this.
Inside the ring, Warstein and Rezin square off. Right hands from Rezin and Warstein begin to fly. Rezin takes the worst of it as Warstein gets the upper hand. Warstein keeps Rezin in the corner, Warstein leans back and starts smashing Rezin with knife edge chops.
Warstein runs to the far corner, and comes back across the ring and hammers Rezin in the corner with a running knee lift. Rezin stumbles out of the corner like a beaten man and falls face first in the middle of the ring. Warstein covers and Ashley Barlow comess running.
Nick Stuart: What a knee lift from Shawn Warstein there.
Richard Parker: Almost decapitated Rezin!
Nick Stuart: I didn’t think that was going to be enough to put Rezin away.
Richard Parker: Warstein should know better than that!
Warstein switches from his pin attempt, into a mount position. He postures up and begins raining down elbows at Rezin’s face. Rezin tries to cover up, but Warstein is relentless. Rezin finally stops moving and Warstein goes for the cover again.
Richard Parker: He was actually playing possum… that’s amazing…
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s ever worked in the entire history of wrestling.
Rezin kicks out and scrambles his way to the ropes. Outside Hanlon, JCH, and Ryan are all getting to their feet. Jonathan-Christopher Hall tries to get away from Cecilia Ryan but she sends another thunderous shot across one half of the ALP’s face. Hayes breaks up the twosome with a right hand of his own that sends Cecilia Ryan stumbling into the rail. Hayes is focused and marches towards Ryan and doesn’t see Jonathan-Christopher Hall’s dropkick coming. Hayes stumbles into the railing and Cecilia Ryan.
Richard Parker: HAYES IS ABOUT TO BE IN A BAD WAY!
Nick Stuart: Cecilia Ryan with a huge kick right to the face of Hanlon!
Hanlon takes the boot to the mouth and reels backwards into the waiting arms of Jonathan-Christopher Hall, who suplexes Hanlon to the concrete floor. Hayes sits up holding his back and manages to lean himself up against the guard rail. Cecilia Ryan sprints in and hammers Hanlon with another low dropkick, this time to the back of the head. Before Cecilia can finish turning around, JCH grabs her around the waist and tosses her over his head with a German suplex on the outside.
Nick Stuart: On the concrete floor!
JCH is back to his feet and blows a kiss to Vickie Hall. Vickie catches it and smiles back at Jonathan-Christopher.
GET A ROOM! GET A ROOM!
JCH points to Vickie and slams Cecilia Ryan with a leg drop. Sadly, the ALP’s distraction goes on for too long, and Hayes Hanlon is back in the fray. He picks up Jonathan-Christopher from his seated position and tries to hit him with a German suplex. Jonathan-Christopher squirms out of his grasp and manages to reverse position on Hayes and drop him to the floor with a swinging neckbreaker.
Richard Parker: He was just trying to love his wife.
Nick Stuart: When’s the last time you loved your wife?
Richard Parker: Shut up Nick. LOOK INSIDE THE RING!
Inside the ring, Rezin comes off the ropes, Warstein ducks down for a back body drop but Rezin kicks him square in the mouth. Warstein looks up and immediately gets a thumb to the eye from Rezin. Warstein stumbles backwards as Rezin hits the ropes again. Warstein comes forward and throws a clothesline at Rezin, who manages to catch it. Rezin spins Warstein’s arm, and flips over, smashing him to the canvas with an Asai DDT. Hanlon comes into the ring from outside
Nick Stuart: INTO THE VOID ON SHAWN WARSTEIN!
Richard Parker: This crazy bastard might actually win.
Nick Stuart: Just because I told you we were on streaming services doesn’t mean you can say things like that.
Richard Parker: BUT HE IS ONE! It’s scientific at that point.
Hanlon manages to separate himself from JCH and Cecilia Ryan for a moment, clearly reacting to the thunderous impact of The Goat Bastard’s finisher. He dives into the ring and immediately hits Rezin with a short arm clothesline to break up his momentum. Rezin stumbles to his feet and turns towards Hanlon, Hanlon fires off a few quick right hands, but Rezin isn’t done. He fires off a kick to the inside of Hanlon’s leg, then a kick to the outside of Hanlon’s other leg. Hanlon goes to check a third attempted kick, but Rezin pivots and smashes Hanlon across the face with a spinning back elbow. Hanlon backs away holding his mouth, while Rezin hits the rope and crushes Hanlon with a spinning heel kick.
Nick Stuart: What resilience shown by Rezin!
Richard Parker: He’s going to do it Nick! I’m telling you!
On the outside, Cecilia Ryan is stalking Jonathan-Christopher Hall. JCH continues to retreat from the infuriated Ryan and realizes that he has backed away and now Cecilia is closer to Vickie than he is. Cecilia gives Vickie Hall a look that would cause any mortal man or woman to fill their tights.
CECE’S GONNA KILL YOU! CECE’S GONNA KILL YOU!
Richard Parker: I’m never saying a bad word about Cecilia Ryan in my life. Not because of her father, but because of her. Holy hell.
Vickie Hall simply shouts at Jonathan-Christopher who springs into action to protect his love interest. Hall sprints towards Ryan, but Ryan was waiting for him. Hall goes for a right hand, but Ryan manages to catch it. She twists Jonathan-Christopher’s arm causing him to squirm. With the opening she grabs a muay-thai plum. Jonathan-Christopher swings his arms trying to get out, but Cecilia smashes him in the jaw with a knee. JCH tries to move away again but Cecilia drives another knee home and JCH crumples to his knees. He tries to beg off but Ryan doesn’t care and manages to send him careening to the arena floor with a roaring elbow.
Nick Stuart: It’s a Family Affair!
Richard Parker: YES!
Inside the ring Rezin jumps up like a wild man after the spinning heel kick, and sees Cecilia Ryan hit Jonathan-Christopher Hall with a roaring elbow sending him sprawling to the floor. Knowing that Ryan could stop a pinfall attempt, Rezin takes off like a missile. He leaps to the top rope from the mat. He hits the top rope only for a second, before catapulting himself backwards with an actual perfect moonsault.
Nick Stuart: Cecilia Ryan can’t see it coming!
Richard Parker: He can do a moonsault?
HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!
Rezin smashes into Cecilia Ryan, and both crumple to the concrete floor outside. Hayes looks up, still recovering from the spinning heel kick Rezin hit him with and sees the prone Shawn Warstein finally dragging himself to the corner. Warstein drags himself up to holding onto the middle rope, and Hanlon is on him from behind. Two quick forearm shots to the back of the head drive the legendary competitor into the second turnbuckle. Hanlon grabs Warstein around the waist and lifts him up onto the top rope. Hanlon brings himself to the second rope, and positions Warstein on his shoulders. Warstein tries to fight Hanlon off, throwing elbows to Hanlon’s head.
Nick Stuart: THE SUPER MASSIVE!
Richard Parker: Holy shit.
HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT! HOLY SHIT!
Hanlon crashes down off the second turnbuckle with Warstein in the burning hammer position. Warstein’s neck and head smash off the mat, and Hanlon crawls over with a cover, hooking both legs. Ashley Barlow slides in and begins counting.
Outside the ring, Rezin has crawled to his feet and has pulled himself up with the apron.
Nick Stuart: What a move from Hanlon!
Rezin slides into the ring.
Richard Parker: BREAK IT UP!
Right after Ashley Barlow’s hand hits the mat for the three count, Rezin dives and breaks up the pinfall. Hanlon rolls to the corner and Rezin is on him, stomping a mudhole.
DING DING DING
Ashley Barlow calls for the bell and Rezin turns around looking shocked, he starts arguing with Barlow who is busy handing Hayes Hanlon the Five Star Championship.
Vince Howard: THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH BY PINFALL! AND NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW FIVE STAR CHAMPION! THE EVENT HORIZON! HAAAAAYES HHAAAAAANLON!
Nick Stuart: We have a new champion here today!
Richard Parker: I guess we do, but Rezin doesn’t look too happy about it!
Rezin is still arguing with Barlow as the scene fades.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
The camera pans to the entrance ramp as “Sing Me No Hymns” by Lucero begins to play over the loudspeaker. The reaction to Solomon Richards emerging from the curtains is one of tepid applause. There is a small contingent of Solomon fans located near the front of the ramp who begin to cheer for the man.
Solomon comes to a rest at the top of the ramp, shaking hands with a few of the fans as they reach out towards him. There are no smiles tonight. Solomon doesn’t appear ready to compete. He’s wearing an old, white pair of tennis shoes, a pair of blue jeans, and a plain blue t-shirt, messily tucked into one corner of his jeans.
After acknowledging a few fans near the front of the ramp, Solomon begins to make his way down towards the ring. He strides with a purpose until coming to the apron. He hops onto the Mat and steps through the center ropes. Once he settles into the center of the ring, he pulls a microphone from his back pocket.
Solomon Richards: When I signed my contract to PRIME, I thought that I was getting a fresh start. I believed that, after all these years, if I could step into a new place I could begin to forge a new legacy for myself. I could be whoever I wanted to be.
Solomon leans forward, resting his left hand on his knee. He heaves a large sigh and hangs his head towards the Mat, his golden curls hiding his face from view.
Solomon Richards: I thought I could be a winner here. I thought that I could come out, guns blazing, and I would make everyone see that I was every bit of the competitor that I’ve always told the people back home I was. Unfortunately for me, I fell into the same pitfalls that ran me back home from SHOOT Project with my tail between my legs.
He goes silent for a moment. After a few seconds of dead air, Solomon flips his head back up, brushing the hair out from in front of his eyes.
Solomon Richards: When I was a child, my father would preach his brimstone at the church, but it didn’t end there. I remember a time when I was supposed to be watching my cousin. We were young, I was maybe a boy of 12, him not more than 8. But I was in charge. My home had a large Oak that stood at what, at the time, looked to be at least two or three houses tall. Now from that tree, my father had hung an old tractor tire. I was pushing my cousin, round and round. He giggled and laughed as he asked me to push him higher! Faster! So I did…
Solomon brings the microphone closer to his face.
Solomon Richards: I remember the snap I heard in his arm when he flew from the apex of his swing. It sounded just like the snap of the switch my father brought down on me as he preached the gospel of being thy brother’s keeper. Eternal damnation surely awaited me for allowing my kin to injure himself when he was in my care. But that’s just the way it was. Father would preach, mother would cry, and I would shrink into the corner. I shoved that deep inside of me for years. Then I arrived in SHOOT Project.
Richards begins to pace uncomfortably in the middle of the ring, never coming to rest in one place for more than a few moments.
Solomon Richards: There was a man in SHOOT Project. And when he spoke, he spoke with the timbre, the same cadence of my father. And when I came face to face with him, I did what I always did. I shrank. I shrank so small that it sent me right back home. Right back to where it all started. It was supposed to be different here. But every night, every match, there he was. In the background, preaching his vitriol to everyone that would listen. And, again, I started to shrink.
I was in both of my matches, but something felt off. In the back, I knew he was waiting for me, waiting to remove me from another opportunity. I’ve watched my back ever since arriving in PRIME, and I’m tired. The time has come for me to face my demons. It’s time for me to stand as tall as the Oak in my father’s back yard, and twice as strong. It’s time for me to put the devil that is Jacob Mephisto to bed. So that I can finally be free of that shame, and be the man that I am destined to be.
The lights go black, the crowd instinctively begins to boo. There’s a long moment of silence until…
TIIIIIIIIME… IS ON MY SIIIIDE…YES IT IS!
The lights strobe violently for a moment before flashing to normal and Jacob Mephisto is standing at the bottom of the entrance ramp, flanked by Patience and Decius Montgomery. He stares up at Solomon with a smirk on his face that never quite reaches his pale, grey eyes.
Mephisto climbs up into the ring, followed by The Twins. He pulls a microphone from his waistband.
Mephisto raises the microphone to his lips, smirking. The crowd gets loud and he lowers the microphone.
He looks out to the crowd, smirking all the way. He raises the mic again, and again the crowd boos louder. Mephisto laughs, lowering the mic.
Solomon stands there, resolute, looking at Mephisto with a mixture of wariness, anger, and a deep seated resentment.
Mephisto raises the mic once more, shrugs, and IMMEDIATELY steps forward and SPEWS black mist into Solomon’s eyes!
The crowd boos wildly as Solomon instantly recoils, clutching at his eyes! Mephisto drops the microphone and tosses his head back in a cackle. The Twins climb out of the ring and each of them find a steel chair, rolling back into the ring with their weapons. Mephisto taps Solomon on his forehead lightly and the big man swings wildly, missing by a mile like he’s punching at ghosts.
The Twins hammer Solomon on either side of his head with their chairs, causing the big man to crumple to the mat. Mephisto’s smirk vanishes. He steps back to a corner and then SPRINTS across the ring, delivering a quick shining axe kick to Solomon, cold cocking the big man.
Mephisto stands again, composing himself. He picks up his microphone again and stands over Solomon Richards.
Jacob Mephisto: Be careful what you wish for. You might not like the results. Run home, boy.
Mephisto places a foot on Solomon’s chest and holds up his fingers.
The Patriarch of The Family tosses his head back in laughter as we cut away.
THAT OL’ GAG
It was a valiant effort by the eGG Bandits for sure this evening in their quest for immunity in Tag Team Survivor. Well, most of the “effort” actually didn’t come from one of them until later. And as for the jort sport, well, it seemed as if there was a bit of a problem with the bottoms of his trainers.
The PRIME film team is able to catch up with the two, who appear to be speed-walking toward the entrance curtain in an effort to give their third leg a little bit of moral support for his Universal title match against Brandon Youngblood. Unfortunately, their journey would come to a bit of a roadblock as a voice rang out behind them.
It was a little bit shrill, but a lotta bit country. And it wasn’t exactly a welcome one, either.
Kendra Collier: Hey y’all! BANDITS! Gotta important message from the President and CEO I need to tell y’all! Hold yer horses!
With a smirk across her lips and a clipboard loosely dangling from her left hand, Kendra Collier hustles up to Bobby Dean and Doozer who turn around to acknowledge her. Doozer with an eye roll, but the always-cheery Honaleean offers up a wave.
Bobby Dean: Hi Little Zeb!
Kendra’s smile quickly turns southward as she burns a hole through his forehead with her retinas.
Kendra Collier: I swear on the holy cross if you call me that EVER again, Bobby, I’ll make dang sure your next job is competin’ on the actual Survivor.
Bobby Dean: She’s so darn cute when she’s all riled up and feisty like that, huh Doozy?
Doozer is quick to interject, once again being the voice of reason to try and prevent nonsense as opposed to encouraging it, while also reaching out and grabbing Bobby’s arm and pulling it back before the big man can pat Kendra on the head. Hopefully it was just the head.
Doozer: Listen, Kendra. Would really love to catch up and find out who’s leading the pack this year in your hometown for the Walter White Achievement Awards, but we’ve got to go watch PRIME’s other stuck-up teenager try not to get killed by a guy who actually calls himself Suplex Daddy. So mind if you make this quick? What’s Mom want now?
Collier sighs, shifting back to a somewhat serious demeanor and nods.
Kendra Collier: Sorry, Doozer. Don’t turn your hat around frontways and get all frustrated on me. I just wanted to relay to y’all a reminder. The Almasy Invitational finals needs tuh showcase the abilities of the ‘rasslers in the ring tonight, so if y’all decide to get cute and mess thangs up, well…let’s just say you might be seein’ me a lot more than you prolly wanted to goin’ forward backstage…
Both Bobby and Doozer exchange a look, then both begin to howl with laughter.
Bobby Dean: Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Mom’s gonna sic her little blonde chihuahua on us if we do something bad? What ever will we do?
Doozer: Help me, Bobby! I’m TREMBLING in fear! Look out, or she might hit you over the head with that clipboard!
Bobby Dean: AHHHHHHHH! Not the clipboard!
The two share even more giggles at what they perceive as the weakest threat of all time: an 18-year old intern. Kendra, meanwhile, just shrugs her shoulders and allows them to continue egging it on until they eventually stop.
Kendra Collier: Fine. Do whatever you want to, I reckon.
She turns and begins to walk back in the other direction, but after about a few steps stops dead in her tracks.
Kendra Collier: Oh, one other thing I wanted to ask y’all. I’m missing a few things I brought to the Grand a lil’ earlier today. Jar of Crisco, some motor oil, a little thang of bacon grease…you two ain’t seen it, have you?
Bobby Dean: Now why in the world would we have seen any of that?
Doozer: Exactly. And why in the hell would you bring all of that stuff to a wrestl…ing…show…
Mid-sentence, a light bulb went off over the top of Doozer’s backwards baseball cap, recollecting his difficulties with pushing the large boulder down the strip due to some sort of foreign substance being coated all over his shoes.
Doozer: Why you…
With a sarcastic wave, Kendra leaves before another word can be uttered, making her exit.
TALE OF THE TAPE
ALMASY INVITATIONAL FINALS: 1 BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD vs. 8 CANCER JILES
Nick Stuart: Next up… is our MAIN EVENT!
Richard Parker: A main event I don’t think any of us saw coming.
Nick Stuart: No, definitely not. Yet, it’s here.
Richard Parker: I can’t begin to fathom Cancer Jiles being in this main event.
Nick Stuart: Oh, that’s clear. That’s very clear. Let’s hand it over to Vince Howard in the ring for the intros.
Quick cut to Vince Howard.
Vince Howard: The following match is ONE FALL!
Vince Howard: And is our MAIN EVENT!
Vince Howard: And is for the UNIVERSAL TITLE!
Vince Howard: And is the finals in the Seymour Almasy Invitation Tournament!
Nick Stuart: These fans are READY!
Vince Howard: Introducing FIRST!
Nick Stuart: THIS IS IT! FINALS OF THE ALMASY INVITATIONAL! WE’RE CROWNING A UNIVERSAL CHAMPION TONIGHT!
Richard Parker: If Youngblood loses we riot. I don’t want to hear any guff about it.
Nick Stuart: Noted. Still, I can’t believe we’ve made it this far! We’re back! Main event of Culture Shock!
Richard Parker: The show’s not over yet, Nick, don’t go counting our chickens.
Nick Stuart: Is that an egg pun? From you?
The MGM Grand Garden Arena suddenly goes dark. The PRIMEates in attendance jump to their feet in feverish anticipation of what is to come. Seconds begin to build atop of each other like blocks…
Then, a familiar blast from the past.
Feedback. Breakneck guitar riffs. Rapid fire blinding strobe lights.
Nick Stuart: HOLY FU—!!! That’s “WAIT” by EARSHOT!!! That’s Brandon Youngblood’s old music! THIS IS INSANE! Listen to this crowd!! Shades of Culture Shock 2010!
ALL of the PRIMEates go absolutely bonkers for Youngblood’s old theme. The production crew even manages to dig up his old video package to go along with it.
Nick Stuart: Just wait till Youngblood pops through the curtain! The roof might blow off the top of the building! No way he loses tonight! No way!
Richard Parker: Don’t count on it.
Nick Stuart: Uh, what’s that Richard?
Richard Parker: Look up.
Stuart looks up. His eyes bulge. His jaw drops. Slowly, but steadily, the rest of the MGM Grand begins to take notice. Soon thereafter the fun, happy go lucky, party on Wayne atmosphere that once encompassed the building leaves. In its place the always COOL, soothing, deafening, sound of silence.
Nick Stuart: It’s Cancer Jiles! He’s gyrating up in the rafters! He’s got some sort of… I don’t even know what you’d call that thing!
Richard Parker: It’s an egg launcher.
Nick Stuart: And how would you know that?
Richard Parker: Look at my face.
Poor Dicky took one right on the kisser while the place was going ballistic to Youngblood’s fake entrance. It’s probably the reason he knew Jiles was up there before anyone else.
Nick Stuart: …
Suddenly the old, nostalgic video package goes SPLAT. The music hastily scratches to halt like an old record. Jiles stops with his perverse gyrating, and ditches the launcher.
Nick Stuart: Wait, he’s not going to?
Then, amongst the shell shocked silence, a horse’s neigh is heard. Out from the curtain step Doozer and Bobby Dean. Doozer is working security, and Bobby is working Cocaine, Jiles’ white high horse that he rides around on.
Nick Stuart: No way. Just no freaking way. He’s not…
Before Stuart can finish, Jiles hooks on to a zipline and zips his merry way down to his Bandit brethren like it’s just another day at the office. He even yawns on the way down, and manages to sign an autograph for that ONE eGG Bandit fan.
Nick Stuart: Of course the company man sticks the landing. Why not?
Yes, that means Jiles landed flush on his horse.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe I’m about to say this… but our boy might be in trouble tonight. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Ever. He looks ten feet tall on top of that horse!
A series of pyros that would melt the straps off of Brandon Youngblood’s singlet light up the MGM Grand. Then, a true guitar riff riffs its way through the building, and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins starts to sing.
I’m the one your momma warned you about
When you see me I will leave you no doubt
I’m the COOLEST man to walk this Earth
I’ve been the COOLEST since the day of my birth…
…I AM THE COOL.
More utterly shit shocked silence from the PRIMEates.
Nick Stuart: Well, there goes all the air— right out of the building. Advantage Jiles, and Youngblood isn’t even in the ring.
Richard Parker: This guy is such a dickhead.
Nick Stuart: Love him or hate him, he knows what he’s doing. He’s taken the crowd out of it and the match hasn’t even started yet!
Richard Parker: Oh I definitely hate him. MOST DEFINITELY.
The Bandits confidently make their way down to the ring. Jiles is all business atop his high horse. No smile. No insulting interactions with fans. Hair looking like a million dollar bill.
Nick Stuart: One has to wonder what Brandon Youngblood thinks of all this? I know Jiles is doing it to get inside his head… I don’t know how it couldn’t be working.
The Grand Maestro of COOL hops off his horse, hands Bobby his shades, shares a fist bump with Dooze, and slides under the bottom rope. Bobby, Dooze, and Cocaine make their way back up the ramp and disappear through the curtain. Jiles climbs the turnbuckles to properly orchestrate his profound symphony of silence. After waving his arms around like a complete and utter jerkoff for a few seconds he jumps down from his perch to “chat” up the ref.
Nick Stuart: If you asked many people in the Almasy Invitational before it started about Cancer Jiles, most would think of him as a pushover. Cheap furniture. His arrogance, his cutting words, how above everything he seems to present himself as, and with how blatant he is to take any short cut, cut any corner–
Richard Parker: There’s doing what it takes to win. I don’t fault someone for doing what they can. It’s easy for us to play preacher and sermonize on the mortality of competition, but wins and losses matter. They matter in rankings. They matter in your legacy. They matter in how you’re viewed. And most importantly, they matter in the money going in your wallet when it is all said and done. With Jiles, there’s no striving. He’s a loud mouth prick who walks into your home just to piss all over the walls.
Nick Stuart: But it is clear he isn’t a pushover. His accolades are numerous. You don’t make it in the sport of wrestling for fifteen years if you are cannon fodder. And while some might say what they will, about Tapioca Puddings, this man defeated Nova, he survived the brutality of Balaam, and he made his way through a very game Teddy Palmer. He has a golden ticket Universal Championship match banked regardless of the result tonight. As much as most don’t like it, Cancer Jiles might just be our next Universal Champion.
Richard Parker: What a disgusting thought…
All the ballyhoo, all the lavish mind games not only directed at Jiles’ opponent, but the entirety of the PRIME roster as well, melt away. The MGM Grand Arena crowd is tense, the booing having turned to rising noise, building to a fever pitch.
Nick Stuart: Things are about to get much more serious now.
Richard Parker: And I can’t wait.
From the soundstage fades in a pulse, anticipatory pitch with a background of rain, of distant rumbling thunder. The arena lighting system accentuates this, flashing reds with an undercurrent of blinding white to the rhythm of the storm. Moments later, notes begin to punctuate the coming storm, an amalgam of synthesized piano keys and a surging cybernetic heart. The pace quickens, a dull roar beginning to form in the crowd, the melody and lights cutting abruptly at its apex, the power draining from the arena.
Static cuts through, and then, a guttural din of heavy guitar and drums.
♪ Step up to me step up to me ♪
Enemy by Sevendust. Static once again. Hard smashed cymbals and a thrashing riff replaces it until it too is broken by static, Wait by Earshot blasting through for the second time in a manner of minutes, and on, Bastard by Devin Townsend, Black Static by HEALTH, Abandoned Streets by Jordan K. Every song Brandon Youngblood has ever come out to in his career. And as the auditory assault continues, the arena remains black, until another down surge in energy brings the music to an end.
An energy pulse, bringing the arena lights back to life, slowly, faintly, until they are on in full. Until a distorted, cutthroat battle cry brings forth a call to war.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
A wall of dominant noise surges through the arena, Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH pounding a clarion call to battle, and as Brandon Youngblood powers into focus from the back, the crowd roars.
Nick Stuart: This ovation is thunderous here in Las Vegas!
Richard Parker: It’s only going to be louder when Brandon Youngblood starts ragdolling this chump around the ring like cheap furniture, and I, for one, am going to love it.
Nick Stuart: For Youngblood, the road here is nearly twenty years in the making. Three times he’s been the 5 Star Champion of PRIME. A PTC Elite Champion. Many accolades decorate his Hall of Fame career, but it’s the names…the opponents he’s defeated that make him PRIME’s true Tower of Babel. The only thing missing from his vaunted career is the Universal Championship, which he may well win here tonight.
Richard Parker: He might just be the greatest wrestling in our history to never win the big one. So many close calls. Twice in Dual Halos. He’s only had two chances at the Universal Title, and fell both times to Hall of Famers. But tonight, he carries a different swagger. You can see it. He’s focused. He’s alert. He’s not giving up size like he was with Hoyt Williams back at King of Kings of 2005. This isn’t a battle of respect between peers like Culture Shock 2010. If ever there was a time to take destiny by the throat, it’s tonight.
Nick Stuart: Vegas betting lines have Youngblood as a favorite here, but we all know when the bell rings, the lines mean nothing. But keep in mind, and these is what Jiles is up against…in tournament competition in PRIME, Brandon Youngblood has won his last eight matches. In fact, in tournament competition in PRIME? In eleven total contests, he’s never been pinned or submitted.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but that streak extends nearly a decade.
Nick Stuart: With who he’s faced in that span? Not just back then, but now? Jonathan-Christopher Hall. We haven’t seen or heard from Miles Lucky since he was brutally Karelin Lifted. The Anglo Luchador. Impulse…
Richard Parker: Point taken.
The tighter focus on the Tower of Babel showcases his unique attire for this night; his singlet, usually mainly white, is colored platinum, a collection of emblazoned red roman numerals along its back. On his arm is a compression pad colored purple, a long katana with an ornate hilt spanning its back. Calls to the man this tournament final is in honor of. How he dyed his hair. The Divine Blade Imperial. And just like the homages to Seymour Almasy, Brandon Youngblood carries with him a bounty that he’d survived until this moment without relinquishing.
His expression is stern, his stride commanding as he nears the ring, Walking across the ringside mats, he slowly stalks his way to the stairs. Each climbing step forward stabs the steel, his left hand grasping the ring post as he takes his first pace across the apron. Moving between the ropes, he brings his head down and slackens his limbs before exploding out of the stretching of his shoulders. Peering towards the crowd, Brandon’s expression does not change, even as he looks over his shoulder at his opponent, ready for him to strike.
Nick Stuart: This is a battle for the future of PRIME. Perhaps for its very soul. Everything is at stake. The Universal Championship. The memory of Seymour Almasy.
Richard Parker: Let the games begin!
Youngblood draws to his designated corner, resting his back against the turnbuckles as he clasps the top ropes on each side. If stares could kill, Cancer Jiles would be dead. But if such things mattered, he’d have been dead long before now. The Tower of Babel is facing something fueled with the survival instinct of a nuclear winter cockroach.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 280 pounds… he is the former three time 5-Star Champion, the 2009 Jewel In The Crown, PRIME Hall of Famer, winner of the Rolo Bracket of the Almasy Invitational…The Last Diamond… BRANDON! YOUNGBLOOD!
Both men circle each other in the ring. The energy permeates both men as Jiles looks loose, shaking his arms, and with a slight smile on his face while Youngblood looks all business. Youngblood immediately charges at Jiles only for him to roll out of the ring in a hurry and circles the ring, tapping the side of his head in the process, showing that Jiles’ ring prowess is on display tonight. Youngblood immediately exits the ring and chases Jiles around the ring. Jiles slides into the ring and Youngblood follows after him where Jiles connects with a series of quick kicks to the back of BY’s head.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles is playing some mind games with Youngblood in the early parts of this match.
Richard Parker: Mind games? That suggest that Jiles has a mind to begin with. Have you seen this man?
Nick Stuart: You’re just upset that he egged you.
Richard Parker: EXACTLY! Egged me! Who does that?!
Youngblood roars back to his feet and pelts Jiles with a series of stiff forearms before spinning Jiles around and connecting with a release German Suplex. Jiles lands hard on the back of his neck and immediately rolls out of the ring as Youngblood bounces back to his feet, his eyes looking like they’re ready to destroy Jiles. Youngblood moves to the edge of the ring, motioning for Jiles to get back in the ring. Jiles rubs the back of his neck and shakes his head once again, walking around the ring while the referee counts.
Richard Parker: Jiles getting exactly what he deserves here.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles getting a stern reminder of the game that Youngblood can play with that release German Suplex. Dropped him right on the back of his neck.
Richard Parker: I’m seriously conflicted in this match.
Nick Stuart: Over?
Richard Parker: Well, not conflicted I should say. I just don’t want either of these two to win, but Jiles much less.
Nick Stuart: Glad we cleared that up.
At the five count, Jiles hops onto the ring apron, ordering the referee to keep Youngblood back. Jiles slowly enters the ring and as half of his body is back in the ring, Youngblood charges at him which causes Jiles to hop off the ring apron again and onto the floor. He shoos Youngblood away while the referee admonishes Youngblood. Youngblood moves backwards, no change to his demeanor, and motions for Jiles to get back in the ring. Jiles slowly makes his way back into the ring while Youngblood hangs back.
Nick Stuart: My goodness.
Richard Parker: What an insufferable pr—
Nick Stuart: Alright, calm down over there, partner.
Richard Parker: Fine, fine. I can’t wait for Youngblood to get his hands on him.
Youngblood and Jiles circle each other once again, Jiles moving closer to Youngblood and seems ready for a tie-up. Youngblood cautiously moves towards Jiles only for Cancer to smack the shit out of Youngblood. Brandon shakes his head from the shot before connecting with a double leg takedown on Jiles. Cancer immediately tries to move away from Youngblood only for Brandon to connect with a series of elbow strikes to the jaw of his opponent. Cancer slams his elbow into the ribs of Youngblood, giving him some space to operate as he slips away from Youngblood and pelts him with a series of forearms to the upper back and neck of the Crown Jewel of PRIME.
Richard Parker: Youngblood is gonna kill you.
Nick Stuart: Stop that, that’s trademark infringement.
Richard Parker: It is not!
Nick Stuart: Do you have money for a lawsuit if it is?
Richard Parker: Nope.
Jiles snaps his boot across the jaw of Youngblood before helping him up to his feet, pushes him into the corner, and connects with a knife-edge chop that echoes throughout the MGM Grand Arena. Youngblood slams his head into the bridge of Jiles nose, causing Cancer to stumble away, clutching at his face in the process. Youngblood grabs Jiles by the neck and tosses him into the corner before connecting with three straight knife-edge chops that immediately redden Jiles chest. Youngblood then yanks Cancer out of the corner and connects with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Jiles soars to the other corner, pulling himself up using the ropes, only to turn around and be met with a running clothesline into the corner from Youngblood. Jiles slumps into the corner.
Nick Stuart: You could hear those knife-edge chops from Youngblood clear to Palm Springs!
Richard Parker: You think after this that Youngblood will go down and perform at Coachella?
Nick Stuart: What in the world are you talking about?
Richard Parker: You know, now the Kan—
Nick Stuart: Nope, not talking about that.
Youngblood grabs Jiles by the legs and drags him out of the corner before bouncing off the ropes and dropping a knee across the face of Jiles. Jiles rolls onto his knees, in pain, giving Youngblood the opening to wrap his arms around the waist of Jiles and yanks him off the mat. He goes for a German Suplex, but Jiles manages to land on his feet. Youngblood turns around and rushes at Jiles only for Cancer to put Youngblood into a headlock and hip tosses him onto the mat. Youngblood tries to force his way out of it, but Cancer wrenches his arms tighter around the head and neck of Youngblood.
Richard Parker: What in the hell am I seeing?!
Nick Stuart: A headlock.
Richard Parker: I know that!
Nick Stuart: Then why did you ask me?
Richard Parker: Because it’s Cancer Jiles applying it!
Youngblood starts to stand while Jiles continues to apply the headlock. Youngblood tries to push Jiles off of him, but Jiles holds on and hip tosses Youngblood once again onto the mat. As both men are seated, Youngblood tries to force Jiles off of him again, but Jiles refuses to let up. Youngblood forces both of them to their feet once again and this time Youngblood connects with a backdrop driver, breaking the hold that Jiles has one him. As both men rise to their feet, Youngblood charges at Jiles and connects with a sickening clothesline that flips him inside out. Jiles lands on his back as Youngblood goes for the cover.
Richard Parker: Oh come on ref! What are you doing over there?
Nick Stuart: Calm down over there. You do realize that you’re cheering on Brandon Youngblood, correct? I mean, there are some crazy things I’ve seen in my life, but this might take the cake.
Richard Parker: Like I keep trying to say, Cancer Jiles is an insufferable little pr—
Nick Stuart: Okay, okay. Calm down.
Brandon makes his way back to his feet, no expression on his face, as he grabs Jiles by the back of the neck and pulls him up to his feet before pushing him into the ropes and driving his knee into the midsection of his opponent. Jiles doubles over from the shot as Youngblood then whips Cancer into the ropes and goes for an arm drag, but Cancer blocks it, slamming his own knee into the midsection of Youngblood and connecting with a neck breaker. Both men lie in the middle of the ring before Jiles rolls over and drapes his arm across the chest of Youngblood.
Nick Stuart: And these two men are going back and forth with one another! Neither man has been able to get an advantage over the other one and the fans in the MGM Grand Arena are loving every minute of it.
Richard Parker: breathing heavily
Nick Stuart: You okay over there, Richard?
Richard Parker: No, no I’m not.
Nick Stuart: …did you put a bet on this match?
Richard Parker: …maybe.
Jiles makes his way up to his feet first and begins to drag Youngblood up with him only for Youngblood to slam his fist into his midsection. Youngblood fights his way up to his feet only for Jiles to jam his thumb in Youngblood’s eye. Jiles then starts clubbing Youngblood in the back of the head with a series of forearm strikes. He then spins Youngblood around and connects with a side belly-to-belly suplex which he follows through by mounting Brandon and drilling him with a series of fists before wrapping his hands around Youngblood’s throat, trying to choke the life out of him until the referee breaks it up.
Richard Parker: That no good, rotten, piece of sh—
Nick Stuart: Are you trying to get fired? Also, who are you?!
Richard Parker: I’m sorry, he just brings it out of me Nick! I can’t stand him!
Nick Stuart: We can tell, Richard. We can tell. Jiles is just taking it to Youngblood and I don’t think that’s what anyone expected from this match. It’s actually become a… wrestling match? I think Cancer Jiles is actually wrestling?
Jiles makes his way back up to his feet and starts stomping away at Youngblood, each shot heavier than the last. He then drags Youngblood over to the nearby corner, pulls him up to his feet, and slams his head into the turnbuckle before whipping him into the ropes and dropping him with a back elbow to the sternum. Jiles then bounces off the ropes and connects with a knee across the throat of Youngblood! Brandon rolls around in pain as Jiles then gets back to his feet and starts stomping away at the left knee of Youngblood.
Nick Stuart: I think everyone’s face just fell off here in the MGM-Grand Arena.
Richard Parker: Mmhmhfadasd
Nick Stuart: See? Richard isn’t even talking. Cancer Jiles has made this a wrestling match which I don’t think anyone in here expected. Least of all being Brandon Youngblood who right now is being outwrestled by Cancer Jiles.
Richard Parker: You take that back, you evil person!
Nick Stuart: The intensity and focus in which Jiles has brought to this match is truly something else.
Jiles then drags Youngblood over to the edge of the ring, places Youngblood’s left leg onto the bottom rope and leaps up before putting all his weight down across the leg of the Crown Jewel! Brandon rolls away in pain while his opponent rolls out of the ring, grabs Youngblood and snaps his left leg around the ring post! BY grimaces in pain as Cancer winds up and does the same thing again! Jiles then re-enters the ring and puts Youngblood into a half Boston Crab, focusing on the left leg of his opponent in the process.
Richard Parker: No, you stop that right now!
Nick Stuart: Richard’s brain is irrevocably broken right now as Cancer Jiles has a half-Boston Crab on Brandon Youngblood. If you hit your head, went into a coma, and came out of it to turn your TV on and put it on Culture Shock, you do not need to adjust your television set. This is correct. Cancer Jiles has applied a wrestling hold.
Richard Parker: Where did he even learn this?!
Nick Stuart: I assume he went to wrestling school?
Richard Parker: No, no. Jiles didn’t even go to regular school, much less wrestling school!
Jiles eventually breaks the hold, turns Youngblood over and slams his elbow into the left leg of Brandon. He rolls around in pain as Jiles starts stomping away at it again before yanking Youngblood off of the mat, pushing him into the ropes and drilling him with a nasty right fist to the jaw! He then whips Youngblood into the ropes, but BY collapses half way due to the pain in his leg. Jiles just laughs and mocks Youngblood before slamming his boot repeatedly into the injured leg of his opponent before bouncing off the ropes and dropping his knee across the injured leg.
Nick Stuart: And Jiles continues to focus in on the left knee and leg of Brandon Youngblood. Jiles is being methodical and calculating in every move he is making right now. It is truly stunning to see.
Richard Parker: I’m trying to determine if pouring bleach in my eyes right now would be more offensive then what I’m witnessing.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think I would recommend that if I were you.
Richard Parker: Oh trust me, it’s about to happen if I have to endure anymore of this.
Jiles yanks Brandon up off his feet and attempts to go for a German Suplex, but Youngblood manages to block it. Jiles retaliates with a series of forearm strikes to the back of the skull before he goes for it again. This time, Brandon manages to land behind Jiles, but his left leg gives out on him, dropping him to one knee. Jiles turns around and Youngblood explodes with an uppercut to the jaw. Youngblood limps towards Jiles and connects with a knife-edge chop before Youngblood shakes out his left leg and bounces off the ropes, connecting with a spear that sends both wrestlers crashing to the outside.
Richard Parker: About time you woke up, Youngblood! Murder this fool and walk out of here the champ— oh, I’m gonna be sick.
Nick Stuart: Yeah, that’s going too hard in that direction. Your body needs time to adjust to cheering for Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Shush, I need quiet. I need to go to my happy place.
Nick Stuart: That’s three miles down the strip.
Richard Parker: Ah, the Lusty Leopard. Be right back.
Nick Stuart: Sit down! We have a match going on here!
Brandon slowly hobbles his way up to his feet and grabs Jiles, who slams his fist into Youngblood’s left knee! The shot slows BY down and gives Jiles the time he needs as he gets back up to his feet and slams Youngblood’s head into the ring apron before lifting him up and dropping him throat first across the ring barricade! Jiles then hops over the barricade and tells the fans to get away from greatness in the process, and wraps his hands around Youngblood’s head before pressing his throat against the barricade and choking him.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles is not letting up! Just when it looked like that Youngblood might be swinging the momentum back in his favor, Jiles closed that door HARD.
Richard Parker: The only thing that’s ever been hard with Cancer Jiles—
Nick Stuart: Oh, let’s not go there.
Richard Parker: Is his thick SKULL!
Nick Stuart: Not where I thought that was going.
Jiles then drills his elbow into the back of Youngblood’s head before hopping back over the ring barricade and sliding Brandon back into the ring. Cancer follows after him, bounces off the ropes and slams his elbow across Youngblood’s sternum. Brandon rolls around in pain, the source coming from his throat and left leg now. Youngblood tries his best to sit up and as he does, Jiles bounces off the ropes and connects with a dropkick to the face of the seated Youngblood.
Nick Stuart: What a beautiful dropkick on Youngblood! Did you ever imagine this would be the Cancer Jiles we got here tonight?
Richard Parker: I didn’t imagine Jiles being in the main event of Culture Shock, competing for the Universal Title. I don’t think most people imagined Jiles making his way through life to this point and still being alive to be frank.
Nick Stuart: There is something about Cancer Jiles that just is surreal.
Richard Parker: Yes, just like that Paris Hilton show. They’re about on the same level.
Youngblood is doing his best to make his way back up to his feet and as he does, Jiles is mocking him, slapping him on the back of the head. Cancer then drags BY up to his feet before slamming his knee into Youngblood’s abdomen and nailing him with a gutwrench suplex. Jiles then gets back up to his feet, takes a few steps back, before connecting with a knee drop across the sternum of Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Why… is… this… happening?
Nick Stuart: The assault from Jiles is never-ending. I don’t know how Youngblood is even still functioning.
Richard Parker: How are any of us going to function if Jiles wins this match? He will be ten times more insufferable then he is now and that is saying a lot.
Nick Stuart: Needless to say, the only thing stopping Jiles from the Universal Title is Brandon Youngblood and that’s a massive mountain still in his way.
Richard Parker: I sure hope so.
Jiles then yanks BY off of the mat and pushes him into the corner where he drills him with an uppercut. Brandon is slumping in the corner as Jiles slaps him around before whipping him across the ring to the opposite corner where he connects with a running clothesline. Brandon slumps down in the corner, which gives Jiles the opening he needs as he presses his boot across the throat of BY!
Nick Stuart: How much more does Youngblood have left in the tank? The abuse he is taking right now is unbelievable!
Richard Parker: The journey to this moment has been harrowing and I don’t think I want to see the other side of it.
Nick Stuart: Both of these men have gone through hell to get to this point and for Youngblood, he’s behind right now, but maybe not for long.
Richard Parker: I need a sign of life right now from Brandon Youngblood… and yes, I threw up in my mind as I said that.
Youngblood is left slumping in the corner as Jiles walks around the ring, posing for the crowd as they boo him. He then walks over to BY, yanking him up by the arm and drilling him in the face with a few forearm smashes. Brandon fights back with a few fists of his own and goes to kick Jiles with his left leg only for Cancer to catch it. Youngblood then hops a few times before connecting with a rising knee strike to the face of Jiles that sends both men crashing to the floor.
Nick Stuart: And YOUNGBLOOD with a rising knee strike that FLOORED Jiles!
Richard Parker: Oh, there is a Hoyt!
Nick Stuart: I have no idea where Youngblood came up with that, but it was all he needed to give himself an opportunity at a breather.
Richard Parker: Forget breathing, get in there and do something!
Youngblood grabs at the ropes while Jiles makes his way up to his feet and drags Youngblood up. Brandon is still in a world of pain and Jiles laughs at BY before slapping him. Youngblood retaliates by lighting Jiles up with a series of elbows. Jiles quickly plants his knee into Youngblood’s midsection before whipping him into the ropes. Youngblood comes flying back with a flying knee to the face! Brandon scrambles to his feet and catches Jiles with a stiff-knife edge chop before he bounces off the ropes and nails him with a spear!
Richard Parker: THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
Nick Stuart: Okay, partner. Bring it down a notch. Youngblood showing signs of life here and using his sheer strength and ability
Richard Parker: Signs of life?! YOUNGBLOOD IS TAKING US TO THE PROMISED LAND!
Nick Stuart: What are you drinking over here? sniffs Oh Geez!
Richard Parker: Don’t judge me! I know about that night in Tijuana!
Youngblood sits up, still drained, and makes his way up to his feet. His left leg is still bothering him, but he shakes it off. He grabs at his throat and it is still rather tender and red. Brandon grabs Jiles, who is getting up to his feet, and drills him with a forearm in the back of the head before whipping him into the ropes and connecting with a sidewalk slam. Youngblood slowly makes his way up to his feet before he mounts Jiles and rains down a series of elbow strikes, determined to unleash hell upon Cancer.
Nick Stuart: I think Youngblood is about to bash Cancer’s face in.
Richard Parker: This is the fight to Cancer that we’ve all been waiting for.
Nick Stuart: Like… in life? Or in the ring?
Richard Parker: In the ring! What do I care about cancer in real life?
Nick Stuart: Way to stay centered there, buddy.
Youngblood drags Jiles back up to his feet, pushes him into the corner, and connects with a stiff knife-edge chop! Cancer stumbles out of the corner, clutching his chest, but BY grabs him, pushes him back into the corner before connecting with another stiff knife-edge chop! Jiles looks like he’s been shot as Brandon Youngblood then whips him across to the opposite corner and follows it up with a running clothesline with immense impact! Jiles stumbles out of the corner and as he does, Youngblood bounces off the ropes and connects with a bulldog down to the mat.
Richard Parker: Youngblood is picking up the pace and Jiles can’t do a damn thing about it!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood continuing to apply pressure on Jiles and seems to be picking up all the momentum he needs. Still, looking at Brandon’s face, you can tell the exhaustion and pain he is in. This is the mark of a true champion, his ability to keep fighting through it all.
Richard Parker: Look, I don’t need him to do much. Just murder Cancer Jiles.
Nick Stuart: That is illegal.
Richard Parker: But, is it?
Youngblood grabs Jiles by the neck and yanks him up to his feet, pushes him into the corner, and begins to slam his knee repeatedly into Jiles midsection before yanking him out of the corner and into a gut wrench slam. Youngblood then rolls Jiles over and puts him into a Dragon Sleeper, causing Jiles to scramble in a hurry only for Youngblood to tighten the hold on him. Jiles fumbles around before he manages to wrap his legs around the bottom rope and the referee is forced to have Youngblood break the hold. Youngblood does so, yanking Jiles away from the bottom rope before dropping an elbow to the back of his head.
Nick Stuart: Jiles just BARELY got to the bottom rope in the nick of time. He knew the end was near if he didn’t get away as there was nothing he could to get out of Youngblood’s hold.
Richard Parker: It was nearly over. It was nearly over. It was nearly over.
Nick Stuart: I think this match has broken you, Richard.
Richard Parker: I can’t do this anymore. I think I’m going to go home.
Nick Stuart; Sit down!
BY moves to the corner, watching Jiles fight to his feet, and walks up behind him only to be met with an elbow to the jaw from Cancer. Cancer then bounces off the ropes only for Youngblood to connect with a spine buster that shakes the ring. Youngblood begins to drag Jiles up to his feet but Jiles chops Youngblood across the chest, which causes Youngblood to back into the ropes. Jiles rushes at Youngblood only for BY to lift him up and drop him throat first across the top rope. Jiles stumbles around from the shot and gives BY the opening he needs as he connects with a backdrop driver over the top rope and to the outside of the ring.
Richard Parker: YES! HURT HIM BY!
Nick Stuart: Jiles just unceremoniously dumped over the top rope like it was nothing from Youngblood! My goodness, I have no idea how Jiles is going to be able to get up from that.
Richard Parker: That may have been the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Nick Stuart: Get a hold of yourself!
Youngblood slowly makes his way to the ring apron as Jiles fights his way to his feet and as Jiles turns towards Youngblood, BY connects with a flying clothesline off the ring apron. Both men crash hard to the mat with Youngblood rolling into the barrier, his left knee smashing hard against it. Youngblood grimaces from the shot, as he tries to pull himself up, and is ginger putting any weight on his leg. Jiles starts to make his way up to his feet, sees the issue that BY is having, and chop blocks BY’s left knee, sending him crashing to the ground. Jiles makes his way up to his feet once again and begins stomping away at BY, each kick stiffer than the last one.
Nick Stuart: And Jiles managing to get the better of Youngblood thanks to a chop block!
Richard Parker: DISQUALIFY HIM REF! GET HIM OUT OF HERE! WHAT A CHEATER!
Nick Stuart: What universe are we in that you’re calling someone a cheater?
Richard Parker: Look, just because every woman I know has cheated on me doesn’t mean I don’t know a cheater when I see one.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know how you live sometimes.
Jiles grabs Youngblood and grabs him by the wrist before he attempts to whip BY into the ring post only for Brandon to reverse it and send Cancer into the ring post face first. Jiles stumbles backwards from the shot into the waiting arms of BY who connects with a German Suplex onto the unforgiving ground. Jiles rolls around, grabbing the back of his head while Youngblood shows the pain his left knee is in before making his way up to his feet. He grabs Jiles and rolls him back into the ring.
Richard Parker: Okay, my neck felt that German Suplex.
Nick Stuart: No kidding, I think Jiles’ eyes rolled in the back of his head after that one.
Richard Parker: That reminds me of one time there were two clowns—
Nick Stuart: No, no, no. We’re not doing that right now. Not in the middle of this match! For the Universal Title!
Youngblood, back in the ring, grabs a rising Jiles, wrapping his arms around his waist. He then hoists Jiles up and connects with a German Suplex, locking his fingers in the process and rolling through it. Youngblood is slow and methodical as he pulls Jiles back up, his eyes large from the sheer power of BY who lifts him up and connects with another German Suplex. Jiles looks out and BY’s face is etched in pain, but he grits through it and pulls Jiles up once again before connecting with a third German Suplex. This one though is bridging, as the referee slides in and goes for the count!
Nick Stuart: SO CLOSE! I THOUGHT THAT WAS IT!
Richard Parker: I’m sitting RIGHT here, Nick!
Nick Stuart: Sorry, the intensity of this match has got me amped to another level!
Richard Parker: Well calm it down.
Nick Stuart: Pot, kettle, black.
Both men are slow to their feet, exhaustion showing in their faces, with Youngblood using the ropes to help himself up. He walks around the ring, feeling the tightness in his left knee and the tinge of pain with each step. He looks over at Jiles, who is making his way to his feet, and walks over to him only to be caught with a knee to the midsection from Jiles. Cancer then puts Youngblood into a front face lock and connects with a snap suplex, refuses to let go, and rolls through it before pulling Youngblood up and connects with another snap suplex. Jiles continues to hold through it, rolls over, and lifts BY up once again before going for a third suplex, this time a Fisherman’s Suplex, with the referee sliding in for the count.
Richard Parker: Oh, my heart stopped on that one. Not sure it started.
Nick Stuart: Not sure you ever had one.
Richard Parker: Shut it, Nick!
Nick Stuart: The back and forth action in this match has been tremendous! Both men realize the stakes, they realize what is at hand if one of them can get the better of the other one, and every single fan in this place is on the edge of their seats!
Richard Parker: Who cares, kill Cancer Jiles!
Both men lie in the middle of the ring, absolutely spent and exhausted. Slowly they make their way to their feet, sweat dripping off of them. Jiles fires a fist into the face of Youngblood and rocks the Diamond in the Rough. Youngblood fires back with a knife-edge chop to the already red chest of Jiles. Jiles chops at Youngblood’s throat, dropping the challenger to one knee. Jiles bounces off the ropes and is met with a shoulder tackle from Youngblood, causing Cancer to drape across the top rope. Youngblood grabs Jiles and goes for an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, but Jiles manages to land on his feet, bounces off the ropes, and connects with a beautiful dropkick that sends both men back down to the mat.
Nick Stuart: How did Jiles land on his feet after that overhead belly-to-belly suplex?! My God!
Richard Parker: My HOYT!
Nick Stuart: Not the time, Richard! Both of these men are laying it all out on the line! I can’t believe how far these two men have pushed their bodies!
Jiles manages to make his way up to his feet and walks over to Youngblood, pulls him up to his feet, and is met with an elbow to the side of the head. Youngblood immediately wraps his arms around the waist of Youngblood and applies a bear hug onto him. The meaty arms of Youngblood constrict around Jiles, who squirms and can feel every single muscle in Youngblood’s arms. Jiles slams his fist into the face of Youngblood, but this only enrages Youngblood who begins to rag doll Cancer. Jiles immediately puts both thumbs into the eye sockets of Youngblood, forcing BY to break the hold. BY turns towards Jiles and is met with a superkick. Jiles falls on top of BY and the referee slides in for the count.
Richard Parker: NO! NO! NO!
Nick Stuart: JILES HAD IT! HE HAD IT! AND THEN HE DIDN’T!
Richard Parker: How did Youngblood kick out?!
Nick Stuart: That’s the million dollar question! Oh man!
Richard Parker: I think Jiles can’t begin to believe what just happened.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think anyone in this arena can believe it!
Jiles and Youngblood lie there, Jiles still laying on top of BY, spent. Jiles eventually rolls onto his back and shakes his head. Jiles looks at the referee and rolls out of the ring, his hands on his hips. As he walks around the ring, his eyes land upon the Universal Title and he grabs it, holds onto it, and looks back into the ring. The referee admonishes Jiles, but Cancer ignores it and slides into the ring. He tells the referee to look away as Youngblood rises to his feet. Youngblood turns towards Jiles and Cancer runs full speed at him, title aimed for his head, but BY ducks underneath it. Jiles spins back around and is met with a spear from BY!
Nick Stuart: Jiles went to use the title and it BACKFIRED on him! It gave Youngblood just enough time to recover and Jiles paid the price for it!
Richard Parker: I’m crying actual tears Nick, actual tears!
Nick Stuart: No you’re not! You had your tear ducts sewn up years ago!
Richard Parker: Oh yeah, that’s right. Thanks for reminding me.
Nick Stuart: Can Youngblood capitalize on this? The moment is right THERE for him!
Youngblood sits up and looks next to him to see the Universal Title, the very thing that has fueled him all of these years and he can feel it is in his grasp. He slowly makes his way up to his feet and grabs the belt as he does. He holds onto it, looking at it, before handing it over to the referee. He then turns back to Jiles who is barely sitting up. Youngblood slaps his own chest hard before yanking Jiles up to his feet and connects with a Randallplex, dropping Jiles directly onto his head. Youngblood though yanks Jiles back off of the mat and connects with ANOTHER Randallplex as Jiles eyes roll into the back of his head. Youngblood, for good measure, yanks Jiles up one more time and connects with a THIRD Randallplex before he leaves Jiles body in the middle of the ring.
Youngblood then roars out at the crowd.
Then he goes for the cover.
DING! DING! DING!
Nick Stuart: HE DID IT! HE DID IT! HE DID IT!
Richard Parker: OH MY GOODNESS! WE HAVE A NEW UNIVERSAL CHAMPION!
Nick Stuart: THE SOUND IN HERE IS DEAFENING!
Richard Parker: NOW THAT HE HAS WON, I’M OVER IT! SOMEONE GOOD BEAT HIM!
Vince Howard: Your winner… and NEW! UNIVERSAL CHAMPION!
Vince Howard: BRANDON! YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!
UNIVERSAL TITLE PRESENTATION
Finally. After sixteen years. He walked into PRIME with this goal in mind. The need to be Universal Champion. And in those early days, he declared it to everyone. A destiny to be fulfilled. How many people did he climb over to try and get there? Nova. Karina. Deville. Aimz. Olsig. An entire company at his very whim. And when it came time to fulfill that destiny, the final mountain, Hoyt Williams, took it all away. Left him in ruin. An outcast. A pariah.
That Pariah would return, wounded, humbled. And under a vow of silence, he rebuilt that destiny. A Jewel in the Crown. Chainz. Hessian. Rayne. Ares. He stood in the ring against the longest reigning Universal Champion in history and pushed him beyond any mortal limit. And yet, on that night, on his final chance to ascend to the very top of PRIME, he fell.
The explosion of the crowd fuels him, brings everything to reality. He’d won. He’d done it. And not just any way. He earned it the hard way, outlasting thirty-one others, battling against the young and hungry and the grizzled. He’d fought the specters of the past and the memories they dredged up. He’d accepted the pressure of saving PRIME from an egg shaped future. And unlike those early times, he’d accomplished this moment the right way.
Letting out a primal roar, his chest heaving, bruises, sweat, every bit of him feeling the wear and tear of years. And then another. His arms drop to his sides, and he begins slowly moving around the perimeter of the ring, his music, his victory, his night, washing over him. He can barely contain himself. He catches himself before the overwhelming sensation to let every bit of pent up emotion explode from him. Finally.
He sees movement along the side of the ramp out of the corner of his eye; catches the Queen approaching. No music, no fanfare to signal her arrival. Lindsay walks gracefully over to the timekeeper’s table, takes the Big Gold Belt and a microphone to hand, climbs the steps and enters the ring.
The Lady of the Hour regards the Last Diamond with a neutral expression for a moment…before she unfastens the belt’s leather straps, a smirk appearing on her face.
In that distant past, a moment between these two would be an impossibility. She’d tossed so many knives in his direction, practically all of them hitting between the eyes. But now, in the moment, in the place and time, everything had changed. It changed before they became an inner circle. Friendship. But in this squared circle, Lindsay Troy is a different animal. Her smirk, her unfastening the belt, and Brandon knowing what is coming next…it meant everything. She had to see the tears shrink-wrapping his eyes. He plays it off like he’s wiping sweat away for a moment, before drawing close, mouthing so only she can hear him. “Thank you for everything, Lindz.”
“Knock it off,” she murmurs, smiling as she does, which garners a chuckle. “You did this. You.”
Lindsay deftly fastens the Universal Title around Brandon’s waist, then places both hands on his shoulders.
“I’m proud of you. Take your moment; we’ll talk more later.”
PRIME’s Leading Lady hands Youngblood the microphone and moves to the background next to Timo Bolamba.
Brandon Youngblood: Before I get too far ahead of myself…I want to say thank you to everyone who has donated or given their time to ProLiteracy. This is real and it’s from the heart…this charity means a lot to the man that was…is…Seymour Almasy. It means a lot to his family. And all the amazing things that group does for people, for communities…it’s awesome. So thank you, every single one of you. Thank you.
The PRIMEates cheer in response to this, and Youngblood nods.
Brandon Youngblood: I also want to take some of this time to talk about the man this Invitational is in honor of. Seymour Almasy…I know you’re out there…and I know you can hear this. When I began my career, you were well on your way to making your mark in wrestling history. You weren’t the biggest guy…but everyone knew…in the crowd…in the locker room…on televisions all across the world…that you would give everything you had to this sport. You became a legend before I even laced up my first pair of boots. You carried a target on your back…and beating you was as important as any tournament…any championship…this sport had to offer. And we might not have had the best history…but fighting you…trying to get to your level…it was one of the defining moments of my career. Every time we stepped in the ring to face each other…you demanded I bring my all. And in that, I have nothing but respect for you, for the legacy you left behind, and the man you became. To fight in honor of your life…is one of the most important things I’ve ever done in my life. I hope I did your memory proud.
Brandon takes a breath. Collects his thoughts.
Brandon Youngblood: When I came to PRIME in 2005, I didn’t know if it was just another stop…another connecting flight. It became home. It became where I planted my roots. Where I made my legacy. And it wasn’t always easy. Nothing here is given. I wanted this moment from day one. Wanted THIS Championship. And for everything I took, everything I fought, I was so selfish. Never gave back. Took it all for granted. When I thought I made it to the top…I lost so much. I was fired. Outcast. For a long time…I became a punchline. People like Lindsay here…like Rayne…Deville…Ferguson…I was easy pickings. Cannon fodder. And for so long…so so long…I wanted this moment just so I could cram it down their throats. To say ‘look at me now’. But the thing is…they were right. I deserved every bit of it. I deserved to be a damn pariah.
A light smattering of boos from the fans who don’t agree with him. Youngblood shakes his head, laughing to himself. There’s a lot of emotion here for a man who isn’t known for showing much at all.
Brandon Youngblood: But I missed my home. I missed PRIME. More than anything, I missed this ring…this company…the standard it meant. I wrestled other places…but my heart was always here. I went through Hell to come back here. Humbled myself. Did what it took to come back. And I did. It didn’t matter how humiliated I was. It didn’t matter how much of my pride I needed to swallow. I needed to be home. And I made it. But it took me this last decade to become something more. Something better. A better person. A better father. A better man. And I’m still on that path…and I’m still fighting to become the best version of me…outside this ring…in this ring…to my friends…to my fans…to my family…to all those that have supported me. Thank you. Thank you for being there at my lowest points. Thank you for helping me when I needed you the most…when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you. Thank you so so much. This is for you. This road isn’t easy, but for tonight…but for tonight…it don’t matter. We’re Universal Champion baby, and we’re gonna party tonight!
The PRIMEates erupt into cheers, happy to see a man accomplish his dream tonight.
Brandon Youngblood: And before I go…I want to make this clear. To be the Universal Champion here means you have to be the standard in this sport. It’s hard. Harder than anything you can imagine. To get here, you have to fight like Hell. To win it? It takes even more. This is the standard in professional wrestling. It always has. It always will be. You carry the torch. You can take nobody, no opponent, no challenge for granted. The entire sport has a target on your back. And now that I’ve won this…now that I’ve achieved this goal…finally…by God finally…I’m going to do everything I can to keep the standard that has been set before me. Snow. Troy. Ward. Sirrajin. Tsonda. So few others. If you’re on this roster…if you’re out there watching and wanting this Championship…bring everything you got. I’ll be waiting. Whether it’s Impulse or Julian Bathory. Whether it’s Anna Daniels. Even if it’s a piece of trash like Cancer Jiles…whether it’s Cyrus O’Haire or Solomon Richards or Cecilia Ryan or Ria Nightshade…to challenge for this Championship…MY Championship…means you better be ready. The summit’s here. Welcome…to the Diamond age.
Brandon drops the mic and unclasps the Universal Championship from around his waist, then holds it up high for all to see. Lindsay Troy and Timo Bolamba look on as Culture Shock comes to a close.