RAMESSES THE GREAT
A singular drumbeat reverberating through the heart. The somber notes of a piano. An undercurrent rising in oppressive tension. ‘Insurrection’ by Secession Studios and Greg Dombrowski. The blackness of ACE Network fades in slowly, a focus, sepia.
The number one contender for the richest prize in all of professional wrestling; the PRIME Universal Championship.
The Humble Proprietor of The Glue Factory.
The Vanguard of The New Age.
He stalks his way to the ring, expressionless. Focused. Time and time again, different shots of his approach. A foreboding danger. The ultimate threat.
On the next drumbeat, a quick fade. In the blink of an eye, the screen is alive once more, a fuzzy haze making it difficult to suss out where we are and what we’re supposed to suss out. A space of browns and yellows, the background empty, filtered light seemingly coming through canvas cloth. As clarity becomes us, we see him, seated upon an opulent chair, finely crafted from oak and studded with aged red leather. Before his splendid suited form is a stone table, apt for wartime strategy. Clutched in his hand is a snifter, a casual swirling of whisky. In his lips, a cigar, rising plumes of smoke filtering behind his ashen hair. His eyes are obscured in shadow.
The voice of Vincent Price joins the symphony.
“I met a traveler
From an antique land
‘Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert’”
Quick shots of him, the snifter at his lips, the ashing of his cigar, his aged hands tightening into fists. All before we watch him look upon an antique hourglass, clutching it like he had his snifter, toying with it, turning it playfully, haphazardly, a tightening on the glass and sands rising and falling. Across the top of the table, pictures, painted in oil, sized no greater than classic 8 x 10’s, tossed one by one. The figures displayed are clear; Dusk, Cancer Jiles, Impulse, King Blueberry, The Angelo Luchador, Nova, Garbage Bag Johnny, Jonathan Rhine, Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble, Shawn Warstein, David Fox, Doozer, Bobby Dean, Darin Zion, Jacob Mephisto, Larry Tact, Rezin…and others…Killean Sirrajin, Matt Ward…even ‘The Queen of the Ring’ Lindsay Troy.
On the sand
A shattered visage lies”
His hand lingers above the collection of pictures, his body in the unfocused distance, an artisanal bottle clutched within, turning downward, the slow funneling of viscous white glue dropping across in a glaze, drizzling across each and every picture.
“Whose frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read which yet survive”
As the intensity of the song increases, the hourglass strikes against the table, soundless in the growing maelstrom, its top falling away with remnants of shattered glass polishing across the pictures and the glue. Enough of the hourglass is intact that his next movement is effective; he begins burying the pictures with the sands of time.
“Stamped on these lifeless things”
Interspersed with fresh globs of sand, of dirt and grass, his nails stained and gritty, are flashes of a disgusting past. A menagerie of soul crushing defeats, both in the ring as well as outside; a collection of wrestling’s past punishing the Humble Proprietor, smashing his smile, breaking his body with the moves that made them famous, so many that it becomes its own monument of failure. Viking mothers and shuttered doors. A Frontier and its manifesto. Global Championship Wrestling as well as Sin City Championship Wrestling. All gone. Dead and buried. Yet the madness remains.
“The hand that mocked them,
The heart that fed”
The smog obscures his somber expression, but we still see the wounds upon it. Fresh. Glistening. Or perhaps tears for a youth utterly destroyed? Damn those that judge him, if only they knew the cost to his soul for all his suffering, at how meaningless his anxieties and passions were to them. How their acceptance was all he craved.
Damn them all.
No one else will have to suffer such as he.
Upon the grave of the past, his hands nimbly utilize his products to create a beautiful collage, the faces of hope painted across it; Hayes Hanlon, Anna Daniels, Ria Nightshade, Great Scott, Nate Colton, FLAMBERGE, Paxton Ray, Balaam, Jonathan-Christopher Hall, Mushigihara, Julian Bathory, Sid Phillips and Joe Fontaine, Barry Delgado and Trent Sadikaj, Nathan Filmix, Pete Whealdon, Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, Mortimer Kjedelig…we even see Reina Raspberry. Above them, with baroque lettering, are the words ‘A Kinder Future, A Better Tomorrow.’’
“And on the pedestal these words appear”
The swelling of percussion and a chorus calling from the damned brings his eyes into focus finally. Sunken. Tired. And yet…filled with malice. Driven.
In his hand he holds a picture, his other utilizing a spritzer bottle to coat across it.
“’My name is Ozymandias”
A freneticism to the proceedings. The result of years of quelled horror unleashed. Brutality visited upon Larry Tact, arms wrapping around his throat, choking him into submission.
“King of Kings”
We see the picture; Brandon Youngblood, his Universal Championship skyward, roaring in victory. A debilitating piledriver. Another Shotgun, this time on the future PRIME Intense Champion.
“Look on my works, ye Mighty”
The cigar lights the corner of the picture ablaze, the flames licking across its corner. A certain madness in his smirk. He watches it as it burns.
And as we watch his butchery of Dusk, of Pete Whealdon, all uncomfortable, all beyond the pale in the sport, he holds the burning picture, the flames growing, consuming in full. He cares not as the flame draws close to his hand; rather, he meets it head on, his hand collapsing, crumpling it to ash, sprinkling the soot across the top of the sands before him.
The very notion of it all has him wild. Blackened hand, he smacks himself across the face multiple times and roars, spittle flying from his lips, a sinister grin plastered across his lips. So close. So close to making it all right. So close to his message’s ultimate conclusion.
With untold ferocity, the suited Phil Atken shoves the table over, everything falling to the ground, all except his collage of the future, which he tucks underneath the arm of his blazer as the song fades. And as it does, so do we.
Once again, the tone is somber. Vincent Price’s words drone through the cold blackness.
“Nothing beside remains.”
Piercing through the black, in blue; ReVival 13
“Round the decay of that colossal wreck”
“Boundless and bare”
The Old Age Cleansed In Fire
“The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
The New Rises From Its Bones
PETE WHEALDON vs. LARRY TACT vs. TONY GAMBLE
Eleven episodes of ReVival and two supercards in, so you know the drill. Music, pyro, and a congress of signs herald the start of the party. And we’re coming off a massive event, so there are a lot of signs.
YOU WANNA KNOW HOW TONY GAMBLE GOT HIS SCARS?
PHIL ATKEN IS A THREAT
PHIL ATKEN WAS IN thReat
MUSTACHE RIDE > CANCER
WE ARE ALONE IN A GODLESS UNIVERSE, BUY GLUE
I WANT TO BE TAKEN ON MR. PHILLIPS’ WILD POWERBOMB RIDE
REINA CAN RASP MY BERRY ANYTIME
SOLID GOLD PRESENTING
YOUNGBLOOD GLOW UP IS REAL
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN THIS IS FLAMBO NUMBER FIVE
ARE WE JUST GONNA KEEP PRETENDING THAT ANNA DANIELS ISN’T SUPER HOT IN A CAPE
ow ow ow ow ow OW OW OW OW OW my ass and nuts
WHOA, BLACK BETTY, BAM BALAAM
CANCER JILES SHOPS AT WAWA
DIBS ON WOLF TOTEM
HOW COME THE BELGIANS DON’T HAVE A SUPLEX?
LET THE ANGLO LUCHADOR HAVE A SWORD
HIRE CHET FLEETWOOD YOU COWARDS
SNITCHES GET DITCHES
GUYS I’M NOT SURE IF HE DID IT RIGHT
OH YOU’RE A BOBBY DEAN FAN? NAME EVERY FLAVOR OF BASKIN ROBBINS
I HAVE A STRUCTURED SETTLEMENT AND I NEED CASH NOW
MUSHI ATE THE BUNDT CAKE
RIP SKITTLES ALIEN
And now, Nick and Richard with the recap. As they speak, we get stills of the events at GAN as they unfolded.
Nick Stuart: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the ReVival number 11! We’re days removed from the Great American Nightmare, where Brandon Youngblood retained the Universal Championship in a classic against Impulse.
Richard Parker: Word coming out of that one is that Impulse suffered a concussion, but the tests are looking promising and he should be ready to go for our next show.
Nick Stuart: We also witnessed our first title change of the ReVival era, as Rezin was able to unseat promising young star Hayes Hanlon and claim the Five-Star Championship for himself.
Richard Parker: We’ll be seeing Hanlon in action later this evening as he takes on that son of a bitch Jiles in our main event. If Nick calls that one solo, it’s because I’m in the back vomiting in protest.
Nick Stuart: Our first Intense champion was crowned when Mortimer Kjetelig, Anna Daniels, The Anglo Luchador, and sentimental favorite Ria Nightshade battled in a 4-way barbed wire ropes match. The Anglo Luchador emerged victorious after a hard-fought battle…
Richard Parker: And tons of blood loss.
Nick Stuart: But equally as big in the match was the appearance of PRIME hall of famer Tony Gamble, who we’ll see in action in just a few moments.
Richard Parker: It’s a testament to everything that PRIME has done over the last six months that some of the company’s biggest names are ready to sign-on as part of the revival!
Nick Stuart: And in the main event of Great American Nightmare, we saw the finals of PRIME Survivor unfold as Fighting For Nora took on the Blue Live Crew, and with it the debut of a new partner for King Blueberry! In the end, the berries were victorious, capping off a string of weekly challenges with an all-timer inside the ring!
Richard Parker: I still think it was suspect that he wasn’t forced to compete with the mannequin, but even I have to admit that the ravishing Raspberry was an upgrade.
Nick Stuart: Replays are available on demand here on the ACE Network, but now it’s time to head to the ring where Vince Howard has the introductions!
The view of the camera shifts to the ring, where Vince Howard stands ready.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first…
As feedback careens into pounding drums and a maximalist wall of guitars, synthesizers, bass, and vocals, the lights begin to oscillate in white seemingly random number pattern generations.
Vince Howard: Weighing in at 227 pounds, he hails from Los Angeles, California… PEEEEEETE! WHEAAAAAAALDON!
Pete Whealdon steps into the chaos of sound and light. A cigarette hanging gamely from his lips, his hands tucked into the pockets of his jacket, zipped up over his bare chest.
He stands still as the chorus of “All Futures” By The Armed is screamed out by gang vocals..
With that, he makes his way down to the ring, removing his hands only to ash his cigarette. Reaching the ringside area, the next chorus explodes out of the growing chaos again. Whealdon puts his cigarette out on the sole of his boot and slides under the bottom rope, before moving to his corner, and replacing his hands in jacket pockets.
“Pieces of Man” by Drown plays over the arena speakers as the lights cut out. Royal blue lights flicker on the stage while golden spotlights scan the crowd. They settle on centerstage where Larry Tact stands. He opens his arms and puffs out his chest, soaking in the crowd’s reaction before bellowing and making his way down the ramp, the spotlight following him. As he walks, Larry critiques some fans at ringside with petty insults before arriving to the ring, glaring at his opposition. He pulls himself up using the ropes and walks slowly along the apron before wiping his boots and entering the ring. He stretches using the ropes before bouncing from side-to-side.
Vince Howard: From Manhattan, New York… Weighing in tonight at 260 pounds… LARRY! TAAAAAAAACT!
Nick Stuart: There’s only one competitor yet to make his entrance. The ReVival era is drawing names from across the spectrum of professional wrestling, including some old, familiar faces…
“You think I’m funny… Funny how?”
The unmistakable voice of Joe Pesci irritates the eardrums right before Metallica’s ‘Better Than You’ begins to blast through the PA System, the calling card of Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. He walks out at the same time the music kicks in, passing a quick arrogant glance toward the crowd before making his way toward the ring once the lyrics of the song kick in.
I look at you, then you me
Hungry and thirsty are we
Holding the lion’s share
Holding the key
Holding me back ’cause I’m striving to be
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring… From Las Vegas, Nevada…
Footage from Revolution 94 when Gamble locked The Illustrious Face Eater into his ‘Smile For Me’ submission and won the Internet Title plays.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Vince Howard: And weighing in tonight at 187 pounds…
Tony takes his time walking up the ring steps, staring into the ring for a few seconds with his left hand on the top rope, before ducking between the top and middle rope to step into the ring. Footage from Revolution 106 plays, where Gamble slams Kenjiro Ito face first into the mat with his ‘Stop Laughing At Me’ signature move.
Lock horns, I push and I strive
Some how I feel more alive
Bury the need for it
Bury the seed
Bury me deep when there’s no will to be
Vince Howard: He is… THE GRIN… TONNNYYYYYYYYY GAAAAAAAMBUUUUUUHHHHHHL!!
Another clip shows, this one from the Great American Nightmare; where Tony Gamble became the Five Star Champion by pinning Chandler Tsonda.
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Nick Stuart: After years away from the ring, PRIME hall of famer Tony Gamble steps foot into a ring for the first time tonight.
Richard Parker: And it sure was nice of Lindsay Troy to let him out of that broom closet in time for the match.
The three men circle for a moment as the bell sounds at the start of the opening contest, and then Pete Whealdon dips to the outside and lights up a cigarette.
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen this before from Whealdon in matches like this, using the opening moments to allow his opponents to wear each other down.
And wear each other down they do, as the much larger Tact manages to get his hands on the wily Gamble, and unleashes a flurry of strikes.
Nick Stuart: Probably not the reception that Gamble wanted, but no doubt the one he expected.
Richard Parker: (deadpan) Yes, Nick. Everyone thinks, “gee, I can’t wait to get hit in the face during my first match back.”
For his part, Whealdon leans against the ring post taking a drag, and tapping out his ashes on the floor. Inside the ring, Gamble gains the upper hand with a thumb to Tact’s eye, and then a hard stomp to the foot. This draws some half-hearted clapping and a thumbs-up from Whealdon. It’s only when Gamble snaps Tact to the mat with a DDT that Whealdon stomps out his smoke and slides into the ring.
Richard Parker: Break time is over.
Whealdon draws Gamble up before he can go for a cover with a rear waistlock, and a German suplex sends the Grin down to the mat.
Richard Parker: Hey, Nick, do you ever wonder why Belgians don’t have their own suplex?
Nick Stuart: Yes, Richard, I saw the sign, too.
Gamble rolls through the move onto his knees, and despite the heavy landing he’s ready when Whealdon charges in, catching him in a double leg, hoisting him into the air, and planting him with a turning spinebuster. The Grin lunges, trapping one of Whealdon’s arms in a leg scissor and tries to roll through, attempting to trap the other arm.
Nick Stuart: Gamble looking to end this match quickly. He’s trying to tie up Pete Whealdon in “Smile For Me”.
Richard Parker: The man’s been around a long time, Nick. He knows you don’t get paid by the minute. Get in, win, get out.
A running stomp by Larry Tact breaks up the hold before Gamble can lock it in. A series of punches creates an opening, and a gutwrench suplex drives Gamble to the mat. With Whealdon momentarily disabled, Tact moves in for a cover.
Nick Stuart: Larry Tact is seconds away from picking up his first win here in PRIME!
But Gamble gets his shoulder up before Whealdon can break up the count.
Richard Parker: Not yet, Nick.
Gamble rolls out of the ring for a moment to get his bearings, leaving Whealdon and Tact alone in the ring. The two exchange a series of stiff forearm shots, the latest shot from Tact rocking Whealdon and staggering him. Tact uses the opening to get some momentum off the fair side ropes before connecting with a jumping knee lift. The force of the knee sends Whealdon stumbling back into the ropes, and he rebounds off with a stiff lariat that takes Tact off his feet.
Both men groggy inside the ring, as Gamble starts to lurk outside, peering just above the ring apron, smiling that trademark grin and waiting to make his move.
Whealdon is to his feet first, and he strides toward Tact to continue his offensive, but Tact’s tank is deep, and his ring acumen strong, so he’s quick to adjust his stance.
Nick Stuart: And now it’s Larry Tact’s turn, planting Pete Whealdon with a spinebuster of his own!
Richard Parker: But here comes Gamble!
Gamble, having dipped down again out of view, reaches into the ring and trips up Tact, bringing him down to the mat before sliding him out of the ring between the canvas and apron.
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble up on the ring apron. It looks like he’s thinking high-risk here.
Gamble heads to the top, testing the ropes beneath him as he looks for a moonsault, but this is his first time in a PRIME ring in over a decade, so his footing is unsteady and he has to catch himself to stave off a tumble to the outside.
Nick Stuart: Gamble’s been out of the game a while. It looks like he’s got some ring rust to knock off.
Tact finds his opening. He moves underneath Gamble, knocking his legs off the rope and catching him across his shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Running powerslam by Tact plants Tony Gamble in the center of the ring!
Tact pulls Gamble back up to his feet and looks to connect with the Humbling, his trademark uranage, but releases his grip when he catches sight of Whealdon charging in with a kick. Whealdon’s foot narrowly misses both men, but the move leaves him off balance and vulnerable to retaliatory strike from Tact.
Nick Stuart: Whealdon in trouble! Tact looking to end this now… STARBREAKER!
Richard Parker: Hope Pete knows a good chiropractor, because he’s gonna need it after that.
Nick Stuart: Tact with the cover, he’s got the leg hooked…
Richard Parker: Gamble!
Before the referee’s hand can hit the mat a third time, Tony Gamble dives at Larry Tact, connecting with a forearm shot to the base of the neck to break the cover and stop the count. He pulls Tact off, landing a few additional shots before throwing him between the ropes to the outside.
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble might have just stolen this win from Larry Tact.
Richard Parker: There’s a reason he’s in the hall of fame, Nick. The man knows what he’s doing.
Nick Stuart: But he’s wasting valuable time here.
The Grin leans over the ropes, delivering a few choice words to Tact before flashing that trademark smirk to the camera. But by the time he returns his focus to the other man in the ring, a wobbly Pete Whealdon has already made it back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: CHEERS PRICKS!
Richard Parker: Nicholas Stuart, what would your mother say if she heard you talking like that?
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble turned right around into Whealdon’s trademark backfist!
The hand connects hard with Gamble’s jaw, blasting the grin off his face and into the 4th row. He hits the mat, and Whealdon all but falls on top of him for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Tact back on his feet outside the ring…
Using the ring apron for leverage, Tact pulls himself up and starts to crawl under the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: Can he make it in time to stop the count?
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… PETE! WHEAAAAAALDOOON!
Nick Stuart: Pete Whealdon with a huge win tonight over a PRIME Hall of Famer. We’ve got to take a quick commercial break and then we’ll be back with more action!
THE ANGLO LUCHADOR ADDRESSES HIS ENEMIES
Nick Stuart: Back from break, and we’re about to get a visit from the NEW PRIME Intense Champion.
Richard Parker: Oh no…
The smooth organs of “Oye Como Va” begin to play on the PA system at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, as the PRIMEview shows the headless lucha masks dancing about. A cheer begins to erupt from the PRIMEates in the audience.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe he’s going to show his face here after taking that flogging at Great American Nightmare!
Nick Stuart: Well, Richard, The Anglo Luchador is the PRIME Intense Champion. I don’t think someone of his intestinal fortitude would be swayed by a cowardly post-match attack.
Richard Parker: Well, he should be. It’s only a matter of time before Balaam takes that belt off him.
The Anglo Luchador appears at the top of the ramp wearing a purple custom t-shirt that reads “Exploding Cyclone Homicide Driver!” jeans, sneakers, a bandage over his forearm where he self-inflicted a blood source at the pay-per-view, and of course, the PRIME Intense Championship belt fitted snugly around his waist. Belts are meant to be worn, not slung. At least that’s what a tecnico is taught. The old luchador slaps hands and waves on his way down, smiling and laughing.
Nick Stuart: A distinct change in mood from the old luchador after the last couple of months. I guess whatever was on his mind is… gone?
Richard Parker: I wouldn’t be happy. If I had Hoyt Williams breathing down my neck, I would be scared to death. But he’d never come for me. I give him $500 every paycheck as tithe.
Nick Stuart: Richard Parker, folks, giving hope to everyone who wants to run their own Ponzi scheme!
Richard Parker: BLASPHEMY!
The old luchador hops up on the apron and enters the ring with a spring in his step, outstretching his arms and soaking in the cheers before heading over to the direction of the timekeeper’s table. He politely asks Vince Howard for a microphone, who obliges.
Richard Parker: Oh boy, here we go again…
The Anglo Luchador taps on the mic and holds it to his mouth.
TAL: Vegas! Hey, how the hell are you guys?
A healthy cheer rises from all levels of the Grand Garden Arena.
TAL: That’s what I like to hear! I got a lot to say, but before I get started, hey, what about Ria Nightshade, huh?
The crowd goes nuts again at the mention of The Toxic Queen.
TAL: Anna Daniels and Morty K pushed me to my limit, but it was Ria who is the real reason why I don’t feel any shame for having this…
He pats the belt on his waist.
TAL: …in tow. She’s a hell of a competitor, and before long, she’s going to be taking some belts off guys like Rezin or even Youngblood.
Another cheer for Ria Nightshade erupts.
TAL: But I mentioned that I won this belt here, and I gotta say, as much as it has felt like the culmination of the work of an entire quarter of a year, the way I won it has left me with a sour taste in my mouth. And what happened afterwards? Yeah, that was even worse. That’s why I’ve asked Queenie back there and the production team here at the ACE Network if I could have some time to address…
The old luchador turns dramatically to the hard cam.
TAL: …my enemies.
Richard Parker: audibly gulps
Nick Stuart: Relax, Richard, I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who’d hit a commentator. Yet.
TAL: I know some of you would expect me to address God first, since I grew up Catholic. However, since disowning the Church a while back, I have to say, I’m on good terms with all sorts of gods, both major and minor. Shouts to Eris, the Greek Goddess of Discord, not to be confused with the game streamer of the same name who operates mainly on the site Discord.
He pauses for laughs, few of which come.
TAL: Tough crowd, wish I could’ve gotten at least a smile out of more than a few of you. Smiles, those seem to be a sticking point. Phil Atken hates the smiles I put on faces, but no matter how much of a threat he is, I object to his protestations. I’m not a doe-eyed rapscallion set to make a mockery of this industry. I grew up in it. I lived it. It took a chunk from me that I’ll never get back, and I still sat up one day and said “I gotta give more.” You don’t like the hijinks? Go join Richie up there and stew on your bitterness. I have fun here because you need to be able to have fun at your job. If not, you’re sentencing yourself to a slow, boring death. Am I bringing the youth of this company down in the mud with me?
He laughs to himself for a second.
TAL: Well, I think everyone who’s been at one of my things is in a better spot than before they started. But if they have a problem with it, well, patting the Intense Championship I have no problems letting them take out their frustrations. That’s why anyone who has a problem with me, anyone who thinks I’m a joke, anyone of you wolf-eyed pretenders back there who wants to be my enemy, or, hey, anyone I’m cool with who wants a friendly competition that will end up in bloodshed, you got me. I’m a tecnico, through and through, so I’m going to throw down the gauntlet. A fighting Champion, here in PRIME. You want to get down and dirty with The Son of the Shogun? All you gotta do is get the Queen’s permission, hand to God. You can be as new as Mitchell Quinlan or as dyed in the wool as my pal Dusk. You can be fresh off a Universal Title shot like Randall Knox or a down on your luck desperado like Darin Zion. No matter what, you want it? You got it.
Nick Stuart: Oh wow! What a gauntlet by the new Intense Champion!
Richard Parker: I don’t think he knows what he’s doing.
TAL: The first person I expect to see at the front of the line is one Larry Tact. Larry, I’m designating you enemy number one, not because you wronged me, but because I wronged you.
The crowd gasps at the old luchador’s admission.
TAL: I admit I went overboard at ReVival 9 in our match, and I could give all the excuses in the world for why I did what I did. No one wants to hear those, especially since this is PRIME Wrestling, not PRIME Dialectical Materialism.
Richard Parker: Dialectical what?
Nick Stuart: Read Marx and Lenin, Richard; even if you don’t agree with them, it’s illuminating!
TAL: Larry, my good man, I don’t necessarily feel bad that I swung a piece of lumber wrapped in the good stuff at you, but I do feel bad that the only reason I had was some specious bullcrap in my own brain. Seems the wronger has become the wrongee, and I’m man enough to admit that you probably want another piece of me. Well, as long as Queenie back there allows it, you got it. Empire Boys gotta stick together, right? Even if they hate each other.
A few older fans who remember Empire Pro cheer.
TAL: Hate, hate, speaking of hate, Tony Gamble, Hall of Famer, back in PRIME, huh? Almost like he never left, waltzed into my match, my barbed-wire prison, my moment, and then waltzed right into a broom closet.
A smattering of cheers rises up in the hail of boos for the devious returnee’s mention.
TAL: Tony Wingtips, you gave me a reason to hate you, and you probably don’t even know why. In your mind, you probably thought you did me a favor, huh. The thing is, Tony, I’m trying to be a good boy now. I’m trying to walk a straight and narrow path, and as much as I’ve done that in my time away from this sport, well, when I get in the ring, it’s hard, man. It’s hard not to see a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire and refrain from using it when the rules say “not a chance, bozo.” It’s hard not to come out here every week and spit in the faces of people who do me wrong, who piss me off, who even annoy me off secondhand conversation, shouts to Chet Fleetwood.
Boos rain down from the rafters at the name of Shweta Kallemullah’s now-ex-boyfriend.
TAL: So Wingtips, put yourself on my shitlist. I may have the least reason to want to take a pound of your flesh, but you messed with my moment. You tainted it, even more than that big lummox John Boy did afterwards. You’re my enemy now. I don’t know when I’m giving you a receipt, but when I do, you’ll be wishing you were back in Henderson cleaning up from your superior’s legitimate business grunt work. Speaking of grunts, hey John Boy, can you hear me under that mask?
Boos rain down from the rafters for the former John Kennedy Royko, Jr.
TAL: You’ve been on my mind ever since your Buddy Christ and the rest of that band of misfits cold-cocked me and gave me Jesus hands at ReVival 5. You keep trying to end my career extracurricularly, and given that I’m a man, I’m forty, I don’t appreciate that one bit. Yeah, I keep getting back up, but I can’t live the rest of my career having to see Doc Astrid in the back and entering concussion protocol. That’s why this is going to end at Ultraviolence. You. Me. If I make it there with this…
He pats the Intense Championship around his waist again.
TAL: …you can try to Molon Labe it all you want, you thick slab of grade-F shin meat. Either way, I want the traditional rulebook thrown out. I need to see if the monster bleeds. Maybe I’ll make the old El Hijo del Merle Haggard and that book-holdin’ simp you got riding with you bleed too. Maybe I’ll march my way up to the luxury boxes and fix myself some of that pruno flowing through your boss’ veins.
Richard Parker: How dare he refer to Hoyt’s blood as prison wine! Everyone knows the blood of your own personal Jesus is a 1965 vintage Chablis from Bordeaux!
TAL: We’ve still got months to figure out the specifics, but all I know is this has to end. For me. For you. For… Aurora.
A gasp goes up from the crowd.
TAL: And for your baby, John Boy. I’m done seeing innocent people suffer at your hands. Ultraviolence, you are going to see the light, and when I’m done with you, the only thing your handlers are going to see is the red of their own blood.
The Anglo Luchador throws the microphone down and appeals to the crowd as “Oye Como Va” once again hits the PA.
Nick Stuart: Strong words from the Luchador here.
Richard Parker: Blasphemous words, Nick. Blasphemy! He’s signing his own death warrant!
Nick Stuart: Be that as it may, he threw down the gauntlet! Now, let’s go backstage where the new Five-Star Champion, Rezin, is standing by with Simon Tillier!
Against a backdrop of bricks, we find Simon Tillier backstage, looking snazzy in his pressed suit and dress shirt, with microphone poised in hand.
Simon Tillier: Hey, PRIMEates! After PRIME aired its second Pay-Per-View since returning, Great American Nightmare, I was thinking of what I could do to up my game. Fortunately, Matt Mills had a pretty darn good idea, if I do say so myself. He brought up the breaking news we heard this week that a longtime PRIME veteran, Dusk, will be announcing his retirement. With that announcement set for later on tonight, Matt suggested I try and get some feedback from wrestlers who weren’t around for PRIMEs initial run. I thought that was a way to stand out, so I’m here to find some comments.
The camera zooms out and we find Simon has taken post not too far from the Argyle position, where wrestlers would be coming and going as they made their entrances and exits to and from the ring. Simon looks around and, lo and behold, he finds a wrestler who is coming down the hallway from his match: Larry Tact, holding a white towel to his head and partially obscuring him. Even so, Simon’s eyes perk up and he walks over maybe a little too eagerly.
Simon Tillier: Larry Tact, I see you’re coming back fresh off the show opening triple threat match. Since this is your first run in PRIME, I wanted to get your comments on Dusk, who has been a longstanding member of PRIME, and is announcing his retirement later tonight.
Unsurprisingly, Larry doesn’t stop and we can see him shooting an irritated look Simon’s way. The intrepid journalist sends back a smile and keeps in lock-step with Tact while he continues down to the end of the hallway.
Simon Tillier: In fact, Larry, you’ve been one of the quietest wrestlers backstage in PRIME. I don’t believe we’ve heard from you at a single ReVival. With Dusk leaving after tonight, breaking your silence with a few thoughts would certainly be soundbite worthy.
Tact stops at the end of the hallway, looking down the hallway to his left, then his right, perhaps to make a decision on where to go. Or, maybe he was checking to see if anyone else was in the area. He then glowers down at Simon.
Larry Tact: You must have some nerve, coming here to ask me for my thoughts on Dusk. My thoughts on Dusk? What about thoughts on the match I just had! Am I such an afterthought to you, larvae reporter, that you decided I wouldn’t mind giving comments on a guy who’s not even showing up to work much longer? I bust my ass out there every show I’m on, and I already hear enough nonsense from the fans. Now, I have to come back from the ring and hear you’re more interested in my comments about Dusk?
Simon doesn’t bat an eye, holding the mic steadily as he captures Larry’s words like they mean everything in that moment. For him, he is focused on his ability to give them a platform, and not flinch if what’s said is meant to intimidate or back him off. He holds his ground even as Larry looks truly pissed off. After a couple beats, Tact smirks.
Larry Tact: That may be the smartest answer you could give, Simon. Maybe you can tell me this: What is it about Dusk that makes him special? His innate talent of holding this place hostage to keep him around to do, what exactly? If anything, now he sounds like an angsty teenager, wanting to take his ball home after Phil Atken took a Universal title shot out of the hands of defeat – I mean, Dusk. This man embarrasses Defeat itself, and that’s why he’s going to leech more airtime away from a more deserving wrestler, like me. I’m owed more credit around here, after what’s happened to me in my matches. Regardless of the number of opponents I face, I’m always having to fight some handicap towards victory. It’s a travesty that someone like Dusk, a perennial runner up, gets the amount of respect he does. I deserve twice as much respect for my efforts alone, much less my abilities. Now get out of my face.
Larry promptly turns and walks away from Simon down the hallway. Simon looks quite pleased with himself for unlocking an achievement and scoring an interview with Larry Tact.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve heard first from Larry Tact! He’s got interestingly strong words towards Dusk, and equally for how he’s feeling about his position in PRIME. Back to you.
KIDS THESE DAYS
Outside. The scene is backlit from an obvious sunset as a car pulls up by the parking lot entrance, and Impulse exits from the back seat, followed directly by Calico Rose. They are both in their street clothes as Impulse is not scheduled to be on the show tonight.
Hence, late arrival. But there’s a responsibility to be there.
Cally: So I got us a room tonight.
Cally: It’s… so not rock and roll to go to the gig and then drive home. At least if we go home tomorrow it’s like we’re on the road.
Impulse laughs, the logic clearly being flawless. They clasp hands and approach the back door directly to the “off limits” area of the arena, when they are suddenly cut off by the door swinging open abruptly, causing Cally to stop in her tracks to avoid it. The other side reveals a somewhat disheveled Hayes Hanlon, in his street clothes and stiffening with surprise to see the couple in front of him.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, shit. My bad, guys.
Hayes clumsily exits the doorway, stepping out into the air and holding the door open for Calico Rose and The Marathon Man.
Cally: Thank you, sir!
Impulse doesn’t immediately say anything, but he gives a nod to the young former Champ.
Impulse: Save it for Jiles, kiddo… don’t take it out on a door.
A chuckle from the Event Horizon, letting the door close much more gently.
Hayes Hanlon: See, that’s funny, because when I was a kid it seemed like pretty much everyone in PRIME took it out on doors.
Hayes extends a hand to Cally first.
Hayes Hanlon: I don’t think I’ve met you guys yet. Hayes Hanlon.
Cally takes his hand and shakes.
Cally: Cally. Or Rose. Or Rosie. Rosalyn is only if you’re my mom. And we don’t really know the Doors rule, we’re here because we have history with Mom, not with PRIME.
Ever the oversharer, Cally looks at Impulse and mouths the word ‘Kiddo?’ Impulse winks and offers his own hand to Hanlon.
Impulse: Impulse, or Knox. Either one. Good to meet you, I think you’ve got a lot of potential.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks. A little tough to hear after losing the strap, but I appreciate it.
Impulse: Yeah I hear that. But look at it like this, you lost the strap and you’re headlining the very next show. Title matches, they come and go.
He shrugs, and gestures to himself.
Impulse: If you’re the real deal, you’ll keep on earning the opportunities, and that’s where you make your mark.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah, I guess so. And sorry about the loss. How’s your…entire body feeling?
The openness fades from Impulse’s face for just a moment.
Impulse: Hey, any one you can walk away from can’t be all that bad.
He side – eyes Cally for a moment.
Impulse: But seriously, good luck against Jiles. Put ‘em where he belongs.
The young Hanlon offers a quick smile, opening the door for the two and gesturing to offer entry.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks for the pep talk.
‘Pulse and Cally smile back before sharing another glance. Hayes closes the door as they enter, then walks off along the building.
Hayes Hanlon: Almost as good as a slap from Youngblood.
BALAAM THE MASK OF MALICE vs. JACOB MEPHISTO
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall! Introducing first, hailing from Nazareth, Pennsylvania and weighing in at two-hundred-and-sixty-five pounds… JACOB! MEPHISTOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
”The Dark Horse Always Wins” by Blues Saracino rips through the MGM-Grand Arena as from the back emerges Jacob Mephisto.
Nick Stuart: Back to the action here on our first show after Great American Nightmare! Mephisto will be looking for his first victory in PRIME thus far and he will face a significant challenge in Balaam.
Richard Parker: Praise Hoyt.
Nick Stuart: Great insight there from you, Richard.
Richard Parker: What do you want from me?! I’m here, I’m doing my job.
Nick Stuart: That least piece is quite questionable.
Mephisto enters the ring, cracking his neck from side to side before walking over to his corner while Elvis Nixon checks him over.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… hailing from Prospect Heights, Illinois and weighing in at three-hundred-and-forty-five pounds… BALAAM! THE MASK OF MALICE!
“Possum Kingdom” by The Toadies plays as Balaam enters through the crowd while the Faithful scamper away in fear. He is held back by a chain attached to his nose controlled by the Harbinger of Malice. In the ring, Joe Burro holds “The Good Book” aloft.
Nick Stuart: You know that Balaam will be looking for revenge after losing coming up unsuccessful for a shot at the Five Star Title in his match at Great American Nightmare.
Richard Parker: Definitely. Balaam is going to look to murder Mephisto and I’m here for it.
Nick Stuart: Lovely.
Richard Parker: I seemingly can’t make you happy today.
Nick Stuart: Just… watch the match.
Balaam enters the ring as Elvis Nixon looks at him from a distance and slowly nods his head. He then looks at both wrestlers and signals for the bell.
As the bell rings, Mephisto rushes Balaam and slams his shoulder into his chest, sending both men into the closest corner. Mephisto immediately slams his knee into Balaam’s midsection and with him doubled over, he clubs his forearm across his opponent’s back. Balaam stumbles out of the corner as Mephisto bounces off the ropes and connects with a stiff clothesline, though Balaam remains on his feet. Mephisto bounces off the ropes again and connects with another stiff clothesline, but Balaam remains on both feet. Jacob bounces off the ropes again and goes for a flying crossbody only for the monster to catch him in mid-air and lifts him up over his head and drops him to the mat behind him.
Richard Parker: There you go, Balaam! That’s what you have to do.
Nick Stuart: Would you like to be down there, managing him?
Richard Parker: Why would I do that? He’s already got Burro and Hoyt in his corner!
Nick Stuart: Anyways… Mephisto comes out looking to catch Balaam off guard and it looked like it was going to work, but Balaam is a freak of nature. Mephisto is going to have to be smart in this match and pick his opportunities or Balaam will wear him down in a hurry.
Balaam shakes off the effects of Mephisto’s early onslaught and walks over to Jacob, begins to pull him up, and is met with a back elbow for his troubles. With Balaam covering his face, Mephisto flies off the ropes once again and nails a chop block that drops Balaam down to one knee. Jacob then rushes off the ropes and connects with a running knee to Balaam’s skull. Balaam drops to both knees from the shot and Mephisto rises to his feet once again, looking at the monster and shakes his head. This time, Mephisto bounces off the ropes, this time from behind Balaam, and connects with a running knee to the back of his skull which finally sends the big man crashing to the mat.
Nick Stuart: And Mephisto FINALLY gets the big man down. Balaam is a problem for anyone he steps into the ring with and Mephisto is ensuring he doesn’t give Balaam a moment to breathe.
Richard Parker: I don’t know. You keep doing this and all you’re going to do is wake the giant and that is one giant you don’t want to piss off.
Nick Stuart: And what would you want Mephisto to do?
Richard Parker: Just lay down and take the loss. It’s okay. He’s used to it by now.
Nick Stuart: I hope Mephisto chokes you in your sleep.
Mephisto mounts Balaam and begins to wail away at him with fist after fist until Balaam pushes him away. Mephisto rushes back at Balaam and is met with a boot to the midsection from his opponent. Balaam rolls onto his knees and catches Balaam with a stiff jab to the jaw. The shot rocks Mephisto and drops him to one knee. Balaam yanks Mephisto back up to his feet and whips him into the opposite corner before connecting with a running back elbow on the prone opponent. Mephisto manages to remain on his feet and Balaam connects with a knife-edge chop that causes clear pain as it is etched on Jacob’s face. Balaam pushes him back into the corner and connects with another knife-edge chop that forces Jacob out of the corner, clutching his chest in the process.
Richard Parker: Don’t worry, Mephisto, your heart skipping a beat is part of the pain.
Nick Stuart: You can see the pain etched in his face there as Balaam uses his raw strength and perverse desire to dish out pain on Mephisto.
Richard Parker: Nothing perverse about it. Don’t kink shame!
Nick Stuart: sighs
Balaam follows after Mephisto, grabbing the back of his head, and goes to slam it across the top turnbuckle, but Jacob manages to get his foot up to block it. He then slams his elbow into Balaam’s midsection and switches position, slamming Balaam’s head into the top turnbuckle. Balaam though seems unfazed as he turns around on Mephisto and roars at him. Jacob quickly slams his thumb into Balaam’s left eye, causing Elvis Nixon to admonish him. Mephisto brushes him off and Balaam wraps his hand around Mephisto’s throat before lifting him into the air and chokeslamming him onto the mat.
Nick Stuart: And Balaam letting Mephisto have it right there! Man, that isn’t going to feel good.
Richard Parker: Jacob is going to need a spine adjustment after that. Good thing I know a guy.
Nick Stuart: Look, if it’s that guy over on Mulholland, that guy doesn’t do spine adjustments!
Richard Parker: Sure he does! I just told him not to give you one.
Nick Stuart: Ass.
Both men start to stir as Nixon continues to check on both me. Balaam is the first one back up to his feet and walks over to Jacob, who is on both knees, and lifts him off of the mat and whips him into the ropes. He goes for a clothesline on Mephisto, but he ducks under it and turns around only for Mephisto to connect with a spear that sends both men crashing back to the mat. Mephisto wastes no time as he gets back up to his feet and bounces off the ropes before attempting a leg drop only for Balaam to roll out of the way. Balaam connects with a European Uppercut across the jaw of Mephisto, sending him into the ropes, and Jacob fires back with spinning back elbow that drops Balaam to one knee. Mephisto then bounces off the ropes only for Balaam to explode from one knee into a spine buster on Mephisto! He then goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: And Balaam NEARLY got the victory there.
Richard Parker: Someone check Nixon’s reaction speed. I think he was about a second slower there getting into position.
Nick Stuart: Oh knock it off.
Richard Parker: I’m just saying, when’s the last time he had a physical?
Nick Stuart: Look, you’ve never been physical a day in your life. Rich of you to talk about someone else.
Richard Parker: Ouch. I have feelings, you know.
Balaam makes his way up to his feet and watches as Mephisto sits up, feeling the pain in his ribs. Balaam walks over and grabs Jacob by the back of his neck and whips him into the ropes before connecting with a boot to the face of his opponent. Mephisto rolls onto his knees after hitting the mat and as Balaam comes over to attack once again, Jacob pulls him into an inside cradle as Nixon begins his count.
Nick Stuart: And Mephisto almost got one over on Balaam!
Richard Parker: Not even close.
Nick Stuart: Are you even watching the match?
Richard Parker: Absolutely not.
Both men make it back to their feet and Mephisto yanks Balaam towards him and connects with a short arm clothesline! Balaam stumbles backwards from the shot and Jacob rushes at him only for Balaam to send him over the top rope and to the outside. Mephisto lands hard on the outside as Balaam begins to make his way over to him. Nixon orders Balaam not to do so and Balaam shoves him out of the way. Mephisto begins to make his way up to his feet and Balaam yanks down to pull him back into the ring only for Mephisto to spit a black mist into his eyes.
Richard Parker: WHAT WAS THAT?! CHEATER CHEATER!
Nick Stuart: Mephisto timed it just right and sprayed the black mist into the eyes of Balaam!
Richard Parker: Elvis— you fell asleep on the job!
Nick Stuart: Fell asleep? Balaam pushed him away!
Richard Parker: And Nixon flew back like he hasn’t worked out a day in his life.
Nick Stuart: Go away.
Mephisto wipes away the liquid from his mouth and rolls back into the ring. Balaam wipes at his eyes furiously, but Mephisto is quick on the draw as he hoists Balaam onto his shoulders and goes from the fireman’s carry into a lungblower!
Nick Stuart: MEMENTO MORIS!
Richard Parker: Someone stop this. This isn’t happening.
Nick Stuart: Mephisto might have this one in the bag.
Richard Parker: I might need to throw up in a bag.
With Balaam on the mat, Mephisto goes for the cover.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner… JACOB! MEPHISTO!
Nick Stuart: And Mephisto gets his first victory in PRIME!
Richard Parker: By cheating.
Nick Stuart: That should win your seal of approval.
Richard Parker: Well, it doesn’t!
Mephisto rises to his feet and Nixon walks over to hoist his arm in victory, but Jacob snatches his arm away. He walks around the ring, with his own arms raised as he yells out at the crowd.
Nick Stuart: I would get out of that ring if I was Jacob or else Balaam is going to come back and get him.
Richard Parker: As he should!
Nick Stuart: And Mephisto is out of the ring as Balaam sits up and that looks like a man who is ready to murder.
Richard Parker: Get him, Balaam! Murder him!
Nick Stuart: Alright, buddy, time for your medication.
Mephisto walks up the ramp, his arms over his head as he looks down at Balaam, cackling in Balaam’s misery before he disappears backstage and we cut to the backstage area for more hijinks that only the PRIME roster can provide.
IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY
And I’m fire
“Death Grip” by Watt White erupts in the MGM Grand Arena. The fans immediately rise to their feet and turn their attention to the top of the ramp.
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it looks like the time has come.
Richard Parker: We don’t have to do this, right?
Nick Stuart: What do you mean?
Richard Parker: I mean, does he have to come out here?
Nick Stuart: Oh, go away.
From the back emerges The Lost Soul, Dusk, to thunderous applause from the fans. He stands at the top of the ramp with his hair perfectly coifed while wearing a baby blue suit. He stands at the top of the ramp, looking out at the fans as they scream their approval of him.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: Fans, if you’re not aware, a bombshell report dropped earlier this week that Dusk will be announcing his retirement live in the center of the ring here tonight, and it appears that time has now come.
Richard Parker: Look, it was time for him to go when Hank bounced him off the mat like a crash-test dummy.
Nick Stuart: Can you have some compassion?
Richard Parker: No.
Slowly, he begins to walk down the ramp, seemingly hesitant to do so, but willing himself one step after enough. Fans have their arms extended, looking for him to touch them, and he does just that as he takes in the moment, walking around the ring and greeting all of the fans. He eventually comes to the ring steps and walks up them with a bit of finality to it.
Dusk steps through the ropes and walks around the ring for a moment.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Richard Parker: Will these fans shut up so we can get this over with?
Nick Stuart: The fans here in Vegas have come to say their farewells, Richard. Seriously.
Richard Parker: Yeah, yeah. Look, there’s better wrestlers in PRIME today than Dusk ever was. There’s no need for all of this. Just walk away and be done with it.
Nick Stuart: Easy for you to say, no one will shed a tear when you leave.
Dusk is then handed a microphone by Vince Howard and he stands in the center of the ring. He puts the microphone to his lips and takes a deep breath in.
Before he can continue though, the fans begin to chant even louder.
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
He pulls the microphone away and lets the cheers continue on.
Nick Stuart: These fans are showing their appreciation and wanting to take this in one last time.
Richard Parker: I’m going to vomit.
He puts the microphone to his lips again, holding up his hand as the fans start to quiet down.
Dusk: Thank you. Seriously, thank you for that. That means the world to me. Coming out here and competing in front of everyone here is a dream come true for me. Whether it’s been these last six months or twenty years ago, it doesn’t matter, it all meant the world to me.
Dusk: Now, I know Melvin is back there, panicking about how much time I’m going to take up, so I’ll calm you down. This won’t take long. I think everyone knows why I’m out here and I plan on keeping this short and sweet. The reality is, I came back to show that I still have it, and yet, I think I’ve fallen far short of that. The competition here in PRIME today is probably the best its ever been and that’s saying something.
Dusk: I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I’ve been with each loss, each opportunity that has slipped through my fingers these past six months. At first, I attributed it to rust, but I don’t think there’s any rust left to shake off. I then could attribute it to the beating that I received courtesy of Hank, but once again, I can’t blame that either. Simply put, I just don’t have it in the ring any longer.
Richard Parker: Why are these idiots booing? He’s telling the truth! That’s what’s wrong with this world today.
Nick Stuart: Dusk has been competitive in every single match he’s been in since returning to PRIME. His effort and skill are not to be diminished.
Dusk nods as he hears the jeers.
Dusk: I know, you don’t agree, but can I tell you something? I feel it every single week. The stars in this ring today are just passing me by and I can’t be surprised by that. Not in the least bit. I know I’ve given everything I have in order to compete here, to win these matches, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. And I’m okay with that. Because I’ve had the best time these past six months, interacting with everyone in the ring, watching these young stars like Anna Daniels and Hayes Hanlon compete and tear down the building week in and week out. I wish beyond all belief that I could’ve come out here at Great American Nightmare and wiped that cocky grin off of Atken’s face—
Dusk: But, it wasn’t meant to be. Even if I wanted to continue to compete, my doctors have told me it’s not in my best interest to continue doing so. The concussion I received courtesy of Hank—
Dusk: —has done a number on me. I’m still experiencing headaches. I’m still vomiting. I’m still experiencing mood swings. I’m not me anymore and each time I come out here and compete, I’m at a higher risk for further concussions that could cause serious damage in the long run.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
He lowers the microphone, tears welling up in his eyes, as the fans continue to get louder and louder.
Richard Parker: Oh my goodness, move on.
Nick Stuart: It’s getting so loud in here that I can barely hear myself right now.
Richard Parker: That is a bonus. For me.
Dusk closes his eyes as the fans continue to chant his name.
Dusk: It’s okay, guys, it’s okay.
He then opens his eyes again and looks out at the fans.
Dusk: This is the reality I’m faced with. I’ve got a daughter and a granddaughter who mean the world to me and I want to be able to enjoy those days without fear of what could be. I don’t want to lose control of my functions and my ability to be the person I need to be outside of this ring. And looking at PRIME now, I can say without a doubt in my mind, that it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to call it a day. And I’m okay with that. I can be okay with that.
He takes another pause, his throat tightening as he speaks. Eventually he walks around the ring and begins to speak again.
Dusk: With that being said, it’s with a heavy heart, that I must re—
Except, before the words leave his mouth, ”Pieces of Man” by Drown begins to play. The opening synth riff of the song builds to the first lyrics…
I was awake
Larry Tact emerges from the Argyle position toting a mic in hand and wearing his ring gear. He stands and allows the lyrics to continue uninterrupted.
The only love I knew
The only love I knew
You’re the only love I knew
And I was afraid
As the chorus kicks in, Larry moves his free hand across his throat.
Larry Tact: Cut my music, and while you’re at it, cut Dusk’s mic. We don’t need to hear more of this drivel a moment longer.
The music cuts out and Larry moves the mic around in hand, remaining on the stage as he watches Dusk in the ring.
Richard Parker: Oh good, Larry Tact is coming to get Dusk out of here so we can move on with our evening. That’s phenomenal.
Larry Tact: I wanted to play those opening lyrics of my music for a deliberate reason. I wanted you in particular to hear them, Dusk. Do you understand the significance? No, I doubt you would, and don’t bother trying to piece it together in that head of yours. We don’t need you having an aneurysm straining your brain, on top of Hank rattling it around in your skull.
Richard Parker: Oh shut it already with the booing. These people don’t have a clue, and I bet Larry knows a lot of doctors, being not only a New Yorker, but a Manhattanite.
Nick Stuart: He’s certainly showing his New York attitude, Richard, and I don’t think the PRIMEates like it one bit.
Larry Tact: The lyrics mean different things to different people, of course. But for you, it spoke to me so clearly while I heard you going on and on about how “It’s time.” As someone who took time off and returned, allow me to paint this picture for you, as it’s clear you aren’t looking with a wider lens. You’re going to wake up one day, and you’re going to be confused as to where you are. You’ll wonder where your family is, and why you’re alone. You’ll be struck with a profound sense of loneliness as the memories come floating into your damaged mind. What is it you’ll remember right then and there? How your family completely abandoned you. Your daughter? Embarrassed to be associated with a man who quite on the only thing he was good at, and the only thing he really loved. Your granddaughter? Left wondering how after twenty plus years, Grandpa decided the best thing you could do was to go out a total loser, not even willing to go down swinging. HOW PATHETIC!
Larry had to raise his voice above the chants that begin sounding off on him.
YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK!
Nick Stuart: I think the fans would like Larry to go back to being quiet backstage.
Richard Parker: I bet they would! But he realized how much of a pathetic loser Dusk sounds like, and decided to let him know what I bet most of the locker room thinks, too.
Nick Stuart: Come on, Richard, you know that’s not right. Dusk is hands-down one of the most highly respected wrestlers on the roster.
Richard Parker: These people are two-faced! Larry is the only one willing to step up and tell Dusk what people think around here.
Looking around with revulsion at the PRIME Faithful, Larry holds the mic out towards the crowd, walking to one end of the stage and bringing the stick back down.
Larry Tact: You hear that, Dusk? That’s a practically automatic response that these simpletons give when they have their cage rattled. They pay to sit here, or at least try, given the amount of fried foods and sugar-laced drinks they consume. They pay to squeeze into their personal prison for the night, probably next to someone they end up wanting to punch in the face. What they expect is for people like you, Dusk, to come out and satiate the void in their overworked hearts for someone trying as hard as they are to be good. Just good. When you ultimately fail in the manner you have, it’s an all too familiar feeling for them. Believe it or not, it makes you even more relatable, since they’re used to being pathetic at their jobs, their relationships… really, their lives in general.
As the PRIMEates resume booing, Larry crosses back over to the other side of the stage and repeats holding the mic out for a few seconds.
Larry Tact: By now, I know what you all are thinking. You’re thinking that I’m winless in PRIME. I haven’t had any success to date here. How can I say these things when I’m carrying a worse record than Dusk? Well, that’s exactly why you’re simpletons. The plain difference between myself and Dusk is that I’ve been harshly mistreated in PRIME, whereas Dusk is treated like a darling. Yes, it’s true. While I’ve been dealt multiple low blows in a match, and the referee somehow misses them all? Dusk has been awarded “ties” despite the fact I swear I saw him definitively lose in each of those matches. In a standard match, I was blatantly struck in the head with a barbed wire bat, yet who was given the loss? Me! Meanwhile Dusk, who even now only has two wins more than I do, was given an opportunity to receive a Universal Title match. The guy is batting .500 and you have the braintrust of Troy and Beauregard deciding he was “fighting hard” and “deserved” that opportunity against Phil Atken. But the worst of it, Dusk, is tonight. I couldn’t stand by and listen to your clearly melting brain bemoaning how you don’t have it, or think you need to look out for your health. Cry me an effing river, or in your case, an ocean. You think I buy for a second that this concussion is anything but a way to give you your graceful exit?
Nick Stuart: That’s a vile and preposterous claim being levied by Tact! How can he accuse Dusk of lying about a concussion?
Richard Parker: Maybe he has evidence! Like he said, Dusk is a loser who can’t go out fighting. He’s exposed Dusk’s true nature for everyone to see.
Larry Tact: You know what I say to your grand peroration about stepping away, Dusk? Not on my watch. If you think you can walk away from wrestling with a few soft words, and leave without giving your final pound of flesh to this sport, then I’ll tear it off you myself!
YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK!
Nick Stuart: Where is this all coming from? To my knowledge, Dusk and Tact have never crossed paths in their careers, but it sounds like Tact is out for blood here.
Richard Parker: Haven’t you been listening, Stuart? Larry got pushed over the edge by Dusk’s sob story and he’s about to give Dusk an old school exit from wrestling.
Larry Tact: I’m not going to allow you to have a graceful exit, Dusk. You said it yourself, you look pathetic as it is with the headaches, vomiting, mood swings, and excuses excuses excuses. I’ll give you something to really retire over, and it’ll make this existential crisis of yours seem like nothing but a sad, sorry memory. Remember this week, Dusk. Remember it fondly. I’m going to make it the most clear-headed one you’ll ever have again.
Larry smiles at Dusk as he waves and turns, leaving the stage and leaving Dusk standing in the ring.
Richard Parker: I’ve been waiting for the walls to come down around Larry Tact. This guy is done being dealt a rotten hand from a corrupt dealer.
Nick Stuart: I’ll agree that Larry seems to have suddenly shifted his thinking, and he’s decided that Dusk is a legend he can make his name off of. But I hardly think he’s been treated unfairly, and he may find Dusk is not someone to be trifled with.
Richard Parker: Either way, I’d like to see them beat the hell out of each other!
Nick Stuart: It sounds like Tact is going to try and make your wish come true. For now, let’s take things backstage where I hear we have Anna Daniels.
AIRHORN? OM NOM NOM
Scene: a dark room. So dark, you can’t see a thing until a bare bulb overhead clicks revealing you, the audience, struggling in the clutches of two unknown figures. They are both seemingly wearing black robes and their faces are…nothing. Absolutely nothing. They have none. No facial features, no hair, nothing to denote that they are in any way human. The heads are a true blank slate. You hear footsteps approaching! Maybe somebody’s coming to help you?
No. Worse. It’s Anna Daniels. Something in her looks at you with disdain.
Anna Daniels: You didn’t buy the shirts.
There’s a certain horror in the way she said it as you begin to whimper. She’s disappointed.
Anna Daniels: Unfortunately for you, we’re not in a punting mood.
You would relax except for the part where she said unfortunately.
Anna Daniels: You can eat this one.
Then just as quickly as she entered, she leaves you with the other two. You are absolutely baffled. You look at one of the figures in their non-face and you’re certain that it is looking back at you even without eyes. Finally, something form onto the blank canvas. It starts as a line, small and squiggly. Is that a smile? Then it begins to grow bigger and open up…
Rows and rows of shark-like teeth. You shriek just before it comes chomping down on your head sending you back into darkness, this time eternal.
Buy the shirt, you fucking cowards.
AND BUY THE NEW BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD IS A WRESTLING HIPSTER SHIRT. BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE.
(No people were actually harmed during the making of this commercial. We think. Don’t quote me on it.)
A MASTERFUL INFOMERCIAL
We come back to ringside, only to be interrupted by a graphic appearing on the PRIMEview:
We cut to a television studio made out to look like some sort of kitchen, where we see the very team standing by, Kenny Freeman wearing a goofy chef’s outfit next to Randall Schwartz sporting a “FOODIE MAGICK” apron. Kenny’s got a big ol’ grin on his face as he begins to speak.
Kenny Freeman: Come one, come all, experience the new age of Foodie Magick! I’m Kenny Freeman alongside Randall Schwartz, and we are the Masters of the Multiverse!
Randall interjects, pointing out a much-needed bit of clarification.
Randall Schwartz: B-Team!
Kenny just shoots a glare at his tag partner before continuing.
Kenny Freeman: Indeed, we know a thing or two about magic, so it only makes sense to be partnering with Foodie Magick for the next step in food processing!
Kenny motions to a nearby table with his hands, and thanks to the power of…really good editing…a food processor appears out of thin air!
Kenny Freeman: Introducing…Foodie Magick’s Food-O-Matic 3000!
We get big, bold letters on the screen confirming this (with an added trademark symbol for good measure) before cutting to shots of the processor in action while hearing Kenny’s voice.
Kenny Freeman: It slices! It dices! It even osu’s, if you’re into that kinda thing! It can cut and process anything, from carrots to celery to CDs and even kickpads!
We see some fine print at the bottom of the screen that reads “PLEASE DON’T PROCESS COMPACT DISCS OR KICKPADS IN THE FOOD-O-MATIC 3000” as Kenny continues.
Kenny Freeman: If you like food, you’re gonna love the Food-O-Matic 3000, perfect for the most dangerous mix in cuisine today! Call now to receive a Foodie Magick Salad Mixxer free of charge!
We see the number pop up on the bottom of the screen:
And the Masters give a thumbs up with a cheesy grin as the PRIMEview fades to black before we cut back to ringside!
SOLID GOLD ROCK N ROLL vs. DANGEROUS MIX
Nick Stuart: Folks, I’m not entirely sure I know what we just witnessed on the PRIMEview, but it’s safe to say the–
Richard Parker: No no, we don’t need to give them any more attention tonight. Randall Schwartz and whoever that other guy was have served their purpose. Besides, we have a match to focus on!
Nick Stuart: Fair point, Richard! The tag division has continued to be a mainstay of PRIME’s current era, and tonight promises to make that abundantly clear as Solid Gold Rock ‘N Roll take on Dangerous Mix!
We cut to ringside, where Vince Howard and referee Jimmy Turnbull are standing by in the ring. Vince looks at a set of notecards that has been handed to him just now by someone on ring crew, perplexed by some curious information as he gets ready to make his announcements for this next match.
Vince Howard: The following tag team contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
“I CAN SEE WHAT THE WORLD HAS DONE TO YOU!
I CAN FEEEL THE WEIGHT!
FEEEL THE WEIGHT!”
“The Motherload” batters through the speakers like an avalanche wearing skin tight leather jeans and a zebra-striped headband. Barry Delgado walks out standing nine feet tall despite being five-foot five, followed by the lanky frame of Trent Sadikaj, just oozing with SEX as the pair make their way toward ringside.
Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring at a combined weight of 471 pounds and–(sigh)–a combined height of precisely 12 feet, they are the team of Barry Delgado and Trent Sadikaj…SOLID GOOOOOOLD ROCK ‘N ROOOOOLL!
Bras, panties, and men’s boxer-briefs soar through the air as the rockstars stroll into the ring. Delgado pushes his hands through his immaculate mullet, while Trent blows sensual kisses to the crowd at ringside.
Nick Stuart: Delgado and Trent look more than ready for tonight, coming off the heels of a win over the Bandits at Great American Nightmare!
Richard Parker: You love to see it, Nick! With any luck, a win over Dangerous Mix will only solidify their status in the tag team division!
Vince Howard: And their opponents…
“Run Rabbit Junk” plays as David Fox and Mushigihara make their way onto the stage, the crowd showing some support, but the pair seem much more focused on the task ahead of them as they make their way toward the ring.
Vince Howard: Coming down to the ring at a combined weight of 487 pounds, and–(heavy sigh)–a combined height of 12 feet 2 inches, they are the team of David Fox and Mushigihara…DANGEROUS MIIIIIIX!
Fox and Mushi enter the ring, staring down the challenge that stares back at them in the form of Delgado and Sadikaj.
Nick Stuart: Dangerous Mix look very focused tonight, no doubt looking to get back into winning shape after the chaos of Great American Nightmare that led to the no contest against the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team!
Richard Parker: Schwartz and whatshisface have been boasting to anyone with ears to hear that they didn’t lose against Dangerous Mix, but it is not lost on me that Fox and Mushigihara also very clearly didn’t lose that match either. Much as I love me some Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll, you heard the stats from ol’ Vince…Dangerous Mix have the advantage in their combined weight AND height, so this could be a real barnburner!
Nick Stuart: I…I can’t bring myself to actually respond to that one, Richard.
The teams have a quick discussion amongst themselves, and it looks like Mushi and Trent are starting us off as Turnbull calls for the bell!
Mushi and Trent lock up, both men looking for a clear-cut advantage at the outset…which is answered with an Irish whip by Trent, sending Mushi to the ropes! Trent leapfrogs over Mushi on the rebound, watching the big man head to the opposite ropes before catching him on THAT rebound with a beautiful dropkick! Trent feels quite proud of himself for that as he looks to bring the God-Beast back to his feet…but is met instead with a headbutt to the sternum.
Mushi is back on his feet now, and he is absolutely laying the strikes on thick here, wearing Trent down with forearms and clubbing blows alike to demonstrate his power. Even a God-Beast is capable of an occasional slip-up, however, and Mushi’s comes after sending Trent to the corner when he charges at Electric Boots…who lives up to the moniker by dodging the attack at the last second!
Mushi collides with the turnbuckle, giving Trent the opening he needs as he runs to the ropes for speed, hitting a crescendo of momentum before connecting with a running bulldog that drops Mushi to the canvas! The crowd do not look too thrilled about that, booing Trent for his efforts. Trent just looks back at the crowd, taunting them with a smirk and a bit of a shrug before tagging in Delgado…who looks shocked at the sight of Mushigihara making it back to his feet once again, almost egging Delgado on to show the God-Beast what he’s capable of!
Nick Stuart: Well well well, this is going to be interesting!
Richard Parker: They has fight, and they HOSS FIGHT!
Sure enough, the two powerhouses charge at each other, colliding in a flurry of hard strikes! Mushi and Barry are really rocking each other with the forearms here, neither man quite budging to the preferred satisfaction of their opponent…until Barry manages to catch Mushi by surprise with a boot to the gut! This causes the God-Beast to double over, and Barry’s feeling rambunctious as he pulls Mushi in, looking to make him Kiss The Devil!
Mushi makes Boogie regret this decision immediately, using the position he’s in to send Delgado up and over in a modified back body drop!
Barry crashes to the canvas, giving Mushi some much-needed room to breath as the crowd start chanting in support!
MU-SHI! MU-SHI! MU-SHI!
Mushi goes right back on the attack, bringing Delgado up to his feet before laying in some more hard elbow strikes to wear Boogie down…only for Barry to block the last of these, quickly countering with a headbutt that rocks the God-Beast…but not for long! Mushi answers that with a headbutt of his own in retaliation, which sends Delgado reeling back! Mushi looks to follow up on this…but Boogie springs a trap on the God-Beast, sending him to the ropes before hitting an impressive spinebuster! Barry is a little slow moving after that, but manages to get to his feet before tagging in Sadikaj…who doesn’t notice Mushi rolling toward his corner, managing to reach an arm out just enough for Fox to make the tag, much to the crowd’s delight!
Nick Stuart: The crowd is buzzing as David Fox gets to join in on the action!
Richard Parker: Foxy’s about to wear those damn kickpads out, Nick!
Fox rushes toward Electric Boots, catching him by surprise with a quick flurry of offense to keep Trent off his game. Laying in some quick and heavy kicks to the legs, Fox is hopeful that his foe will stay grounded as a result before heading to the ropes…but is met with a palm strike on the rebound for his troubles! Trent hits the ropes himself, but now it’s Fox with a leapfrog over the taller Sedikaj, catching Electric Boots with an arm drag that drops him to the canvas before both men immediately get to their feet in a standoff. They trade kicks, which gets out of hand quickly as the strikes can be heard throughout the Grand at this point.
WHACK WHACK WHACK
It takes a little while for the damage to be evident…but once it is, both men find themselves slightly worn out from the attack. Trent is the one able to recover sooner from this, as he heads to the ropes looking for a running cross body splash on the rebound…but is stopped in his tracks with a rolling elbow from Fox! This gives Fox a chance to turn things around as he sends Trent into the corner, before running at full speed and connecting with a big boot to the face!
The impact sends Trent crashing facefirst into the canvas, giving Fox a chance to make the cover as Turnbull makes the count!
Delgado rushes in to break the count, stomping Fox’s head!
Nick Stuart: Barry Delgado not letting David Fox take this match for Dangerous Mix!
Richard Parker: A fine, fine strategy by my boy Delgado there!
Barry decides this is far from over for his involvement, as he and Trent bring Fox to his feet before sending him into the corner…only for Mushigihara to come running in, catching the rockers with some hard forearm strikes! Things are getting out of control fast here as both Delgado and Sedikaj turn their attention to Mushi, getting him back for the forearms as they wear the God-Beast down before sending him to the outside with a clothesline over the top rope! Turnbull is doing all he can to maintain control, counting away before Delgado finally opts to return to the apron.
Trent makes the tag to Boogie now, as the pair go back on the attack wearing Fox down with some stomps before sending him to the ropes, looking for a double clothesline on the rebound…but Fox ducks underneath, using the opposite ropes as a springboard for a cross body splash on the rockers instead! The crowd are on their feet, cheering for Fox as he looks to the corner for a tag…but Mushi is still down on the outside! Fox doesn’t get a chance to let that sink in before Barry is back on his feet, hoisting Fox onto his shoulders before turning around…where Trent is waiting with a clothesline, sending him down hard onto the canvas for the Bad Reputation! Trent quickly rolls out of the ring, the crowd booing in disapproval as Boogie goes for the cover and Turnbull makes the count!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, your winners via pinfall…Trent Sedikaj and Barry Delgado…SOLIIIIID GOOOOOLD ROCK ‘N ROOOOOOOLL!
The crowd are still booing as Turnbull raises the arms of Trent and Barry in victory. Meanwhile, Mushi is finally back on his feet on the outside, realizing what happened as he slides into the ring to check on Fox. The rockers make their exit, choosing to gloat over the win on the outside as we cut back to commentary.
Nick Stuart: What a match, folks! I am continually appalled by the actions of Solid Gold Rock ‘n Roll, but they knew what they needed to do tonight against Dangerous Mix!
Richard Parker: You can say that again, Nick! The boys are gonna have a fun time at the pay window tonight!
Nick Stuart: Folks, as we wait and see what this win means for Trent and Barry, we are just moments away from Julian Bathory taking on Mitchell Quinlan! Don’t go away, folks!
Fox and Mushi stare down the rockers from inside the ring, trying to figure out what their next step is as we go to commercial!
WHO JUST CARRIES AROUND A CARTON OF BLUEBERRIES?
As we come back from commercial, we’re immediately backstage and following Jonathan Rhine of Fighting For Nora. The crowd cheers as the man bustles down the hall, his pace fast, his attention focused. He clearly has a destination in mind.
That destination is likely not directly into Bobby Dean’s stomach, but sometimes life throws you a curveball.
Rhine bounces off of Dean comically, landing against the wall with a loud thud that echoes throughout the halls, before regaining his balance. He looks at Bobby apologetically.
Jonathan Rhine: Oh, sorry Bobby. I didn’t…see you there.
Dooze steps forward from behind his fellow Bandit, looking at Jonathan Rhine completely bewildered.
Dooze: You didn’t see him?
The Old Man’s face is incredulous, looking Bobby Dean up and down as if he’s marveling at a statue of the Greek God Adonis. Bobby meanwhile looks down at his stomach which is still reverberating from the impact, mesmerized by the multitude of ripples as they expand throughout his belly.
Dooze: How in the world could you miss ALLLLLLlllll of this?
Bobby’s stomach finally settles down, causing the big man to look up sadly.
Jonathan Rhine: My sincerest apologies, gentlemen. I was just focused on being, um…
Rhine looks past the Bandits down the hall.
Jonathan Rhine: Somewhere else entirely.
Dooze: Listen to this guy, buddy, we’re not good enough for ole Rhine’s time.
Quickly realizing the aggressive nature of his encounter, but not at all interested in continuing it, Rhine puts his hands in the air.
Jonathan Rhine: No, no, it isn’t that. I’d love to stay and chat. It’s just…whatever. Sorry, guys, gotta go.
Doozer continues to mouth off, but Rhine pushes past the Bandits and keeps walking.
With that particular roadblock handled, Rhine slips by and after turning down another hallway finds his target: the man who, with Reina Raspberry, bested Jon and Paxton Ray in the Great American Nightmare Main Event.
King Blueberry, PRIME Tag Team Champion.
Jonathan Rhine: Hey, Jared, got a second?
The Blueberry, enjoying his first night off from competition since February, finishes tapping out a search on his phone before sliding it into his pocket. What was he Googling? How to make a pair of rocket-skates, if you must know.
Aside from the street clothes, there are two elements to the Blueberry that need to be addressed. The first is the foil strawberry sticker that now finds a home over one of the side plates to the championship belt he holds over his shoulder. The second, and perhaps the more noteworthy, is the tears his mask experienced at Great American Nightmare have not yet been patched.
King Blueberry: First time in a long time I’ve got nothing but time. Feels weird.
Jonathan Rhine: I feel the same way. A break is nice, I guess. Also get to do some extracurriculars without worrying about killing myself in the gym the next day, at least for this week.
There’s a brief silence, and then Jonathan raises his eyebrows.
Jonathan Rhine: Speaking of, poker night was fun.
King Blueberry: Yeah. At least your partner wasn’t constantly trying to peek at your hand.
A burgeoning grin is abruptly cut off when he clears his throat for composure. The mask hides so little these days.
King Blueberry: Anyway, surprising how many people here are willing to get in the same room and not try to eat each other.
Jonathan shrugs. Unbeknownst to the two men talking, as Rhine’s shoulders descend back to their normal height, what appears to be a protruding belly peeks out from around the corner where Jonathan Rhine emerged moments before.
Jonathan Rhine: Well, we are coworkers. I’m sure every other company has coworkers you want to bash into a wall, but you don’t because it will make the company BBQ awkward. We’re just lucky in that we don’t have to resist the urge.
Jonathan looks down at his hand, then Jared’s face, and chuckles.
Jonathan Rhine: But yeah, our coworkers are really bad at poker.
King Blueberry: Easy to read intentions when folks aren’t keen on hiding them. Makes it hard to bluff. Means I know you didn’t really want to just talk about cards. So, what’s up?
Jonathan looks down at his feet. When he looks up, it’s not at King Blueberry’s face, but at the gold that rests on his shoulder.
Jonathan Rhine: I didn’t bring it up at poker but I just wanted to say…congratulations. Sincerely. I wanted to win that match more than you can know, but I didn’t. And the better team won. You and I have been…
And with that, The New Life looks down at his feet again.
Jonathan Rhine: …estranged, I guess you can say. And I know I bear some responsibility for it. Going forward, I’d like to change that. I can’t promise I won’t say anything to piss you off, and I can’t promise I won’t try to punch you if you say something to piss me off. But I came out of that match remembering what I must have forgotten a really long time ago.
Jon puts a finger to Jared’s chest and smiles.
Jonathan Rhine: That Jared Sykes is one of the toughest, most resilient men I have ever met. And that’s someone I don’t want as my enemy anymore. So…
The finger at Jared’s chest lowers, and Jon’s hand extends in front of him for a handshake, much like they did in the middle of their match.
Jonathan Rhine: I know it won’t be immediate. But one day…maybe we can be friends again.
For a moment, he lets it hang in the air.
King Blueberry: You know, I caught what you said after the match. Not at first, shit was a little crazy then, but I watched everything back over the weekend. Meant a lot to me to hear you congratulate her like that. And right away, too. No fucking hesitation. That’s got a weight to it. But I need to be clear about something. This? It isn’t friendship. It hasn’t been for a very, very long time, and probably won’t be again.
Finally, he reciprocates Jon’s offer.
King Blueberry: Because this is family, and I’m sorry if you didn’t know that.
The reaction isn’t immediate; Jon was focused on the handshake and it took him a moment to process what King Blueberry said. But when he does, he drops the handshake, looks down at his refound family member, and pulls him in for a hug.
The sound that rises off of the Las Vegas crowd is deafening, as though a million Dusks merged as one, a great singularity giving birth to a new universe of fog machines and over-ness. Somewhere in a dirty basement, Eugene Ware begins dry-heaving and convulsing, though he does not know why. Days from now he will learn of this moment, and have thoughts so vile that his brain cancels itself.
Eventually, the embrace ends and with it chaos ensues. As the two men had their arms wrapped around one another, two more men decide to join the fray. With ill intent clear in their eyes and an enormous stomach leading the charge, Bobby Dean and a trailing Doozer emerge from around the corner.
Jonathan Rhine: Oh no, not again.
Bobby Dean: What the hell, Blue!? You never let me hug you!
King Blueberry: I got this thing about horse blood. Hard to wash out of the clothes. Harder still to wash out of the conscience.
Without another word, Bobby and Doozer share a look, a slow smile spreads on each man’s face. The kind of smile Cancer Jiles would be proud to see. Jonathan Rhine and King Blueberry share a look of confusion, but before they can say anything Doozer and Bobby have each pulled forth a small cardboard carton.
In mere seconds Jonathan Rhine is absolutely covered in slimy yolk, broken shells cover him from head to toe, the look of absolute shock clear on his face. King Blueberry on the other hand looks at Bobby Dean with a bit of edge gleaming in his eye as he finds himself drenched in his namesake. Blueberry juice runs down his mask.
Bobby Dean offers a child-like giggle as Doozer sneers at the two men in front of him. Suddenly the two turn and high tail it down the hallway, empty cartons lying discarded on the floor. Rhine and Blueberry look at each other, bewildered, before the tag champ shrugs.
King Blueberry: Would you believe this isn’t the strangest thing that’s happened today?
Jonathan Rhine: Coming from you, Jared? Yes. Yes I would.
SORRY NOT SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
Nick Stuart: Let’s head backstage, where Matt Mills is standing by.
The picture changes, and sure enough there’s Matt Mills, standing by. Standing (by) next to him is young Nate Colton, dressed in blue jeans and a PRIME polo shirt, because they’re free for the wrestlers, and he knows not to pass up a free shirt.
Matt Mills: Hello PRIMEates! I’m backstage with Nate Colton, one of the hot new stars that have been turning heads in the company.
Nate Colton: Hi.
Matt Mills: Nate, you had your first singles match at Great American Nightmare against GREAT SCOTT and Balaam. While you weren’t able to pick up the victory, you certainly generated a lot of buzz about your performance. Your thoughts?
Nate Colton: Would have loved to come away with the win, that’s for sure. But it feels good to hear that I still got some recognition out of it. SCOTT and I showed that Balaam can be beaten. Sure as hell wasn’t easy, but now everyone knows that it’s possible.
Matt Mills: You mention GREAT SCOTT, who won the match and earned a shot against Rezin for the Five Star Title. Some would say that he stole the pinfall from you, and took an opportunity that should have been yours. How do you feel about that?
Colton’s eyes narrow a little, but he chuckles.
Nate Colton: Some might say that, but I wouldn’t. GREAT SCOTT took advantage of the situation; I would have done the same thing in his shoes. He earned that win, and I wish him luck in the title match at ReV12. Don’t worry about me; I’ll get my shot soon enough.
Now it’s Matt’s turn to be annoyed. Colton’s “aw, shucks” attitude may be sweet, but it’s bad television.
Matt Mills: It sounds like you’re ready to enter the singles ranks full-time, then. What does this mean for your partnership with Nathan Filmix?
Nate Colton: That’s going on the back burner for now. Survivor was a great opportunity for us both, but I’m ready to focus on my own career. I…haven’t talked to Filmix lately, but I’m sure that’s where his head’s at too. That’s not to say we won’t ever team up again, but it’ll be a while down the road before that happens. Besides, with the talent level in PRIME’s tag division, no one’s going to make a mark unless they’re fully dedicated to it.
Mills is practically scowling now. There’s no fire, no drama, no controversy, just this cornfed yokel all but saying he’s “happy to be here.” He loads another question, internally begging Colton to say something interesting.
Matt Mills: You said you want to focus on the singles division for now. Is there anyone out there you’ve got your sights set on?
Nate Colton: Wow, where do you start? Obviously I’ll be watching the Five Star Title match next week, and I’ll be coming after the champion soon enough. But there’s so much talent here; PRIME could put me in the ring with anyone and get one hell of a fight. And that’s why I chose this company out of all the others. It’s like my dad always says, you want to find the place with the best wrestlers in the world, and then prove you belong right there with ‘em.
We see a handsome black man in a teal hoodie cross the camera and scoff.
FLAMBERGE: Your daddy knows what’s best for you, does he?
Nate is taken a bit aback – of course he loves his dad, and why would that be a bad thing?
Nate Colton: Excuse me?
FLAMBERGE: How soon until he tells you to do the thing that you prefer not to do? Then the thing that you’d refuse to do? Then what breaks your MORAL CODE? Tu es geek.
Colton crosses his arms and looks at the man who intruded on his interview. FLAMBERGE, for his part, does not look up at all. Meanwhile, Matt Mills is so excited, he looks like he’s about to do a cartwheel.
Nate Colton: You’ve got an awful lot of opinions about people you’ve never met, friend.
FLAMBERGE: And you say “friend” to me like you have some upper ground, toi idiot. I’m giving you the free advice, take it, leave it, fine. But if you have the PROBLEM…well, that’s another thing, isn’t it.
Nate turns briefly to Matt Mills, who drops his excited grin just in time, and mouths the word “idiot?” Then he turns back to the young hotshot.
Nate Colton: No, you’ve already got a match to worry about. No problem…tonight, anyway.
FLAMBERGE: …okay. Watch. Then keep coming at me.
FLAMBERGE walks down the hall towards the lockers. Matt Mills can’t WAIT to ask something stupid to Colton..
Matt Mills: What are your thoughts on FLAMBERGE openly disrespecting you like that?
Nate Colton, who is still staring at the man who just left the scene, shakes his head.
Nate Colton: I think we’re done here.
MORE THAN A BULLHORN
We return backstage, the visual coming across the PRIMEView causing the entire MGM Grand Arena to roar in approval. Against the PRIME backdrop, we see the Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, the title belt draped over his shoulder. He wears the Anna Daniels New Era Shirt. He is not a coward. Looking forward, the Tower of Babel begins to speak.
Brandon Youngblood: Phil Atken. The Humble Proprietor. I don’t know if you’re here tonight. I don’t know if you’re sitting at home, licking your wounds after your battle with Dusk. I don’t know if you’re training and devising a plan for what’s to come. Maybe you’re here, ready to launch your next glue product off my back…off my likeness…ready to send a message to me. I don’t care either way.
A slight adjustment of the Universal Championship.
Brandon Youngblood: ReVival 13 marks day 127 of my Universal Championship reign. And it might be the last. See…Phil…while so many here might be surprised by your rise, I’m not. While they were laughing about you bouncing Dusk’s head off the canvas at Culture Shock, you and Hank, I wasn’t. And when you started cutting a path through every single opponent you’ve stepped into the ring with here, Larry Tact, Angelo Luchador, Pete Whealdon, Dusk…I’ve looked at you and seen you for what you are.
His eyes narrow.
Brandon Youngblood: A threat.
The fans boo the acknowledgement, but he continues onward.
Brandon Youngblood: More than a threat. You took the road before you and choked out and annihilated everyone. You’ve blistered them all. Brutalized them. Given no quarter. And as you have, you’ve called to the young members of this roster, telling them you are doing this for their benefit. Out of the kindness of your heart. Some have tried to make you into the monster of the week. Some one dimensional villain. And each and every time, you’ve burned your way through them. Left them in shambles. Some here still might laugh at you. It’s what you’re hoping for. That fuel for your fire. For your message.
Pulling the belt off his shoulder, he displays the faceplate in his grasp.
Brandon Youngblood: You called my Universal Championship a bullhorn. Something to hold to reshape the sport of professional wrestling. To destroy the old structures and call into question everything it represents. Whether you’re here or not…I want you to hear this; ReVival 12, July 29th, I’ll give you a chance to speak into the bullhorn. In the ring. Face to face. Man to man. An industry laughed at you. Made mockery of you. I’m not. I only fight the best.
He throws the title back over his shoulder.
Brandon Youngblood: And Phil…know this. I’m not Nostradamus. I look in your eyes and know…know what you’re capable of. What is coming for me. But you know what’s coming for you. You are the biggest threat I have come face to face with in a PRIME ring since Jason Snow…the last man to beat me…the last man to pin my shoulders to the mat since 2007. And it took everything he had, every ounce of his skill and champion’s heart, to survive me. When you step into this ring to fight me…you’re not coming to cleanse this sport for what it’s done to you. You’re not there to make a statement on your legacy.
His eyes narrow. His tone grows deep.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re in the ring to fight for something more. Something bigger. So take your glass ceilings and your offers and shove them. Your past grievances? What you represent? I don’t give a shit. Come ready. Get your head on a swivel. There ain’t gonna be smoke machines and steel pipes and busting up displays. It’s gonna be my hands, my elbows…me lifting you up and slamming you into the canvas until you won’t get up. Ask Randall Knox what that feels like. Check the CT scans of Cancer Jiles’ ribs.
There should be a mocking smirk, yet there is none. Instead, he draws closer to the camera.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re the threat to PRIME, Phil.
All we see now is his face.
Brandon Youngblood: I’m your reckoning.
After these words, he begins to walk away, but not before imparting one final statement.
Brandon Youngblood: See you at ReVival 12.
I SAW THE SIGN
The scene cuts to the smiling face of the Canadian Queen of PRIME Interviewing, the redheaded spitfire, Angelica Brooks. The camera pans back revealing that she is standing next to Mortimer Kjedelig whose mouth is heavily bandaged and standing next to a thirtysomething, bespectacled man sporting a Golden Knights baseball cap and a pale yellow Polo shirt. Angelica begins.
Angelica Brooks: Mortimer Kjedelig, at “”Great American Nightmare,” you were a mere seconds away from not only your first victory in PRIME but also capturing the Intense Championship when you were assaulted by Tony Gamble, Hall of Famer. What went through your mind when you realized what had happened?
Mortimer Kjedelig: Mmm-grrr-hrmph.
Bespectacled Man: I don’t think he can speak.
Angelica Brooks: Excuse me, but who are you?
Bespectacled Man: I’m Gene.
Angelica Brooks: Are you authorized to be back here?
Gene: I don’t know. I was minding my own business when I saw the big guy here holding up a sign that said “Does Anyone Speak Sign Language” in the lobby and I teach ASL over at the learning annex on Fifth. Our motto is “Learn Sign Language, It Comes in Handy.” Clever, right?
Mortimer Kjedelig lets out an annoyed grunt.
Gene: So, anyway, I see this guy in the lobby and I figured I’d help him out. I had no idea it would lead me back here! Anyway, he gave me this note that, I assume explains everything?
Mortimer Kjedelig: (nodding) Mm-Hm.
Gene: I assume you want me to read it?
Mortimer Kjedelig nods as Nate unfolds the note, he takes a glance at it.
Gene: Your penmanship is terrible.
Angelica Brooks: What does it say?
Gene: One sec.
Gene pulls his glasses down to the bridge of his nose and peruses the note as Mortimer folds his arms and starts tapping his foot impatiently.
Gene: Okay, so here’s the gist, Tony Gamble apparently attacked Mortimer here with some barbed wire causing extensive damage to his lips and gums which got infected prohibiting him from moving his mouth. He indicates that in the past week he has learned sign language and he has a message for Tony Gamble.
Angelica Brooks: And what is that message?
Gene: I think he wants to sign it and for me to translate.
Mortimer Kjedelig nods.
Angelica Brooks: Mortimer?
Mortimer Kjedelig proceeds to make a series of hand movements and gestures. Gene watches every movement, taking it all in. When Mortimer stops, Gene nods slowly.
Gene: I….don’t think….you want to say that.
Mortimer grabs Gene’s shirt and grunts. Gene’s eyes widen and he reflexively holds up his hands defensively.
Gene: Okay! Okay!
Mortimer releases Gene.
Gene: Just, uh, so I completely understand, can you repeat what you signed?
Mortimer proceeds to repeat his signing move for move exactly. Gene nods and proceeds to translate.
Gene: Mortimer says “I heartbroken sweeping hurt raining fancy zombie clown chop chop radio donkey donkey donkey donkey bucket.”
Mortimer Kjedelig: GRRRRRR!
Gene: What?! That’s what you said! I swear!
Mortimer Kjedelig shoves Gene and points off camera. Gene bolts out of frame to get away from the situation as quickly as possible.
Angelica Brooks: Well, alright then. Do you have any to say to Tony Gamble?
Mortimer brings up his hand and with his forefinger he makes a slashing sign across his throat and walks off as the scene ends.
JULIAN BATHORY vs. MITCHELL QUINLAN
Nick Stuart: And we return to ring action here with Julian Bathory taking on the debuting Mitchell Quinlan, who is already in the ring.
Richard Parker: Interesting test here, maybe. Quinlan has some accolades to his credit, but he hasn’t been in the ring in a long time. And he’s facing off with a real buzz saw here…
We cut to the ring, where Mitchell Quinlan stands, loosening his wrists.
Vince Howard: This next contest is for one fall with a thirty minute time limit. Introducing first, in the ring, from Bell City, Ontario, Canada, standing six feet, three inches weighing in at two hundred fifty pounds, he is The Fool Saint…MIIIIIIIITCHELL! QUIIIIINLAN!
The Enigma TNG.
The Prince of Tears emerges, this time void of Bruce “Violence Jack” Shanahan. The MGM Garden Arena begin to give heavy boos as the stoic Prince of Tears storms his way down the ramp.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…hailing from Szeged, Hungary, standing six feet, one inch and weighing two-hundred and twenty-six pounds…The New World Savior…JULIAN! BAAAATHORYYY!!”
Bathory slides into the ring with little fanfare, getting to his feet and going to the closest corner. He stands ready, official Ashley Barlow looking toward him as he seems coiled, ready to pounce.
Nick Stuart: No Bruce Shanahan tonight. At Great American Nightmare, Julian Bathory went a full thirty minutes with Cancer Jiles. He battered him. Beat him down. He hurt the COOLYMPIAN–
Richard Parker: Good.
Nick Stuart: But it wasn’t enough to get his hand raised. All the same, as we learnt shortly after the event, Bathory, alongside Jiles, will face off against whoever the Universal Champion is come Ultra Violence. But tonight…tonight he stands opposite a debuting face in Mitchell Quinlan.
The instant the bell rings, Bathory sprints towards Quinlan, driving his forearm and elbow into the debuting man’s face, a rough assault following as the Carpathian Devil gives no quarter, a constant barrage, and when The Fool Saint tries to get away, the Prince of Tears launches himself toward him with a vicious leg lariat that takes both men down.
Nick Stuart: Julian Bathory is giving no quarter here. After Great American Nightmare, and the sheer display of violence the man put on, you had to expect an explosive burst here.
Richard Parker: But this is different. This just…Bathory was a threatening competitor before. But there’s a change. He’s more vicious. More aggressive. And yet…at the same time…more controlled. I don’t know if it was some kind of pep talk had by Bruce Shanahan, or maybe he’s been psyching himself up by reading the Dunwich Horror.
Nick Stuart: That would be an odd choice…
Richard Parker: Look at that man and tell me he isn’t the type.
Nick Stuart: What type?
Richard Parker: A modern day renaissance man who is moved by the written word.
Nick Stuart: That…did not go where I thought it might.
And in the ring, the debuting Mitchell Quinlan is feeling his return to the ring go where he wouldn’t like, as Julian Bathory jerks him up from the canvas, muscling him over so his entire body crashes into the canvas with a scoop slam. Instinct takes over, Quinlan rolling over, pushing himself up, hands up as he sees the Carpathian Devil ready to launch into another barrage of tight forearms, wild chops coming his way. In the maelstrom, Quinlan grabs hold of Bathory’s arm, wrenching it, throwing a kick to the Prince of Tears’ thigh before hitting him with a shoulder block that does little to move Julian. He tries another, and another, Bathory eating the full brunt of the shoulder. While Mitchell has the size advantage on paper, what he feels is a man that feels like he’s a good seven inches taller and nearly a hundred pounds heavier. Odd as it is, Quinlan throws a knee up into the face of Bathory, which finally seems to rattle the Carpathian Devil.
Nick Stuart: Quinlan is going to have to keep the pressure on here…
And he does, forcing the stunned Bathory into the corner, hitting him with a European uppercut, and then backing up, only to explode toward him with a running double high knee.
Nick Stuart: Oh! EP Dentistry!
A front chancery and a leg hook.
Nick Stuart: Fisher ‘21! Fisher ‘21! And he’s covering!
Richard Parker: Woah!
Ashley Barlow drops for the count.
The to-be contender for the Universal Championship at Ultra Violence kicks out, but Quinlan knows he has to keep pressing his advantage, having the Carpathian Devil by the hair, going to lift him off the canvas. From his knees, Bathory socks him in the stomach with a punch, then a forearm, and as he rises, grabs hold of a front face lock and quickly lifts Quinlan in the air, snapping him violently to the canvas with a brainbuster.
He holds onto the headlock, rising up, hitting a snapmare before blistering Quinlan’s back with a kick to the spine. And another. And another. As though suffering the quick bevy of offense and the pin attempt is an insult to the Prince of Tears, he takes off, rebounding off the ropes, hitting a sliding dropkick that splatters Quinlan across the canvas. He is quick to mount, powdering him with forearms, all before annihilating him with a succession of 12 to 6 elbows, holding firm and rising up, and then snapping him to the canvas with Chaos Reigns.
Nick Stuart: Oh my word! What violence on display! Mitchell Quinlan didn’t see this coming!
Richard Parker: This is becoming an uncomfortable message for anyone approaching the leader of MESSIAH about what happens when you cross him in the ring.
There is no cover, the struggling Quinlan trying to pull himself from the canvas before falling again, and again. Bathory teases his pray with his boot, to his shoulder, to his face. The uncomfortableness of the proceedings does not get any better as Bathory doesn’t go for a pin of his own, instead letting Quinlan rise on his own merits.
And when he does?
Nick Stuart: R’lyeh Anthem ’19! Oh my God!
Richard Parker: I think God decided to sit this one out…
The cover is academic.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Julian Bathory is a man on a mission after going thirty minutes with Cancer Jiles at Great American Nightmare! My word!
Richard Parker: Mitchell Quinlan…he might’ve been thrown to the wolves here. Actually, remove the might’ve. He definitely was. Wow.
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…the Carpathian Devil…JUUUUULIAN! BATHORY!
The Prince of Tears rises from the canvas, Ashley Barlow looking to raise his hands, but thinking twice as she watches his glower of his fallen opponent. And with the match done, without taking in the boos or the reaction from the crowd, he merely steps between the ropes, storming footfalls taking him up the ramp and behind the curtain. Message sent.
Forever the crown.
Outside in the parking lot, the sun paints a beautiful picture of pinks and gold in this late evening. Panning over the parking lot reveals very few empty spaces. Eventually we land on a white Audi.
Somewhat strangely, we find Hayes Hanlon on the hood.
Gold-lensed sunglasses cover a relaxed face. One leg outstretched, the other bent in, arm on the knee and holding the remains of an iced coffee. Torso propped up on the other elbow. He brings the straw to his mouth for a sip before breathing in through his nose, taking in the Nevada air.
Hayes Hanlon: Welp. I’d be a liar if I said the last couple weeks didn’t kinda suck.
Another sip, keeping his eyes on the skyline.
Hayes Hanlon: Losing the strap at Great American Nightmare was…not ideal. But hey, credit where it’s due and all that. Congrats to you, Rezin. Turns out you were the guy after all. Now you get to be The Five Star Stud. Or maybe “Five Star and Smokin’ Bud.” I dunno. You’ll think of something.
A very slight, disappointed shake of the head.
Hayes Hanlon: Just don’t get comfortable. I’m not done with The Goat Bastard just yet. But that’s gonna have to be a story for another time.
He sits upright, both forearms propped on his knees. Another sip.
Hayes Hanlon: Because wouldn’t ya know, your boy is back in the main event. My turn for a swing at the COOL.
A snort through the nose, and another shake of the head.
Hayes Hanlon: What a cartoon character.
Hayes Hanlon: It’s a jump, for sure. Haven’t squared up with many dudes like Jiles. Definitely not looking forward to getting any egg spit in my face. Fuckin’ weirdo.
Another sip, shaking the ice around inside the plastic cup.
Hayes Hanlon: But you can’t ignore what’s at stake for the guy, because man, to take a whippin’ from the rookie right after locking in a third chance at the Universal Title? Not a good look. Meanwhile, if he does manage to squirrel his way to a victory, I’ll be just fine. I’m not going anywhere.
Hayes slides off the hood to his feet, bringing the straw to his lips to finish the beverage until nothing but air pulls through.
Hayes Hanlon: Your turf? Your bright lights? Your house?
The Event Horizon plucks the shades from his face, and turns his eyes to the camera.
Hayes Hanlon: Go ahead and set up the spare room in your tower, buddy, ‘cause I’m cashing my rent check.
He throws his sunglasses back over his face and pivots, heading back toward the MGM.
Hayes Hanlon: You can still make breakfast, though.
UNLOADED A FARMER’S MARKET
Although they are not scheduled to wrestle tonight, Fighting For Nora still has a private locker room tonight, part of an agreement Lindsay Troy and Shweta Kallemullah made early on in PRIME’s new tenure. The room has a desk where Shweta currently sits, thumping her fingers on the desk. Paxton Ray sits on top of the desk, looking at his fingernails.
Paxton Ray: I still don’t know why we’re here.
Shweta Kallemullah: Show nights are always one of the best nights for our foundation. A lot of tourists come to donate. It’s been…slower, lately, but we should still be here regardless. Plus, Jon said he had some business to take care of.
Paxton Ray: Be nice to know what that business is.
Almost on cue, the door opens and Jonathan Rhine slowly enters. He is covered completely with egg shells and yolk, the latter of which has formed his hair into an Alfalfa-esque point. He stares at his two awestruck teammates.
Paxton Ray: Your business is fucking weird.
Shweta Kallemullah: What happened to you?
Oddly, Jonathan Rhine smiles as he walks over and sits on the edge of the desk, an act that does not escape the notice of Shweta, who grimaces.
Jonathan Rhine: I got egged.
Paxton Ray: By who?
Both Rhine and Shweta stare at Paxton Ray.
Paxton Ray: Oh. Yeah, guess it’s pretty obvious. Good thing they ain’t called the Knife Bandits, at least.
Jonathan Rhine: Yeah, good thing.
Shweta Kallemullah: Why are you smiling?
When reminded that he is smiling, The New Life smiles wider as he flicks yolk out of his eyes.
Jonathan Rhine: Right before…all of this, I talked to Jared. And things are good now. It feels really good. I feel…at peace.
Paxton Ray stands up.
Paxton Ray: That’s nice ‘n all, but I ain’t feelin’ no peace knowin’ that a couple’a clowns just unloaded a farmer’s market on my boy. You can sit there feelin’ peace, I’ma go feel some fat fuck with my fist.
Shweta Kallemullah: That sounded strangely erotic.
Jonathan Rhine: Yeah, might want to work on that.
Paxton Ray: Oh I’ll work on somethin’.
With that, Paxton leaves the locker room, and Rhine and Shweta look at each other.
Shweta Kallemullah: You sure you’re okay?
Jonathan Rhine: I’ve never been better, Shway. I promise.
He reaches out to touch her hand, but she quickly retracts it. After a moment, she smiles weakly.
Shweta Kallemullah: To be clear, my hesitance to touch you is solely because you are covered in egg right now.
Jonathan Rhine: I get it.
And we get out.
ReVival 11 cuts backstage, where the beaming, professional face of PRIME’s most well-regarded interviewer is standing by. Angelica Brooks stands with a microphone to her face.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, with me at this time… the Winds of Change.
The camera zooms out, and standing out in the hallway outside of the locker rooms are the three members of the new generation Winds of Change. Joe Fontaine, wearing a suit several months past due on St. Patrick’s Day, has the expression of a man who can’t contain his excitement. Next to him is Sid Phillips, who for once in his life is dressed in normal street clothes and not the clothes of a man who powerbombs people for a living.
And on the other side of Angie stands Baron von Blackberry. The Devil Fruit incarnate, dressed as he usually is in his blackberry mask, his lab coat, and his total lack of a shirt.
Angie considers her options on which of these freaks of nature to point her microphone towards. Her options are looking very, very bleak. Eventually, she settles on the other one with any sense: Herself.
Angelica Brooks: At Great American Nightmare, one could say that the Winds of Change performed one of the biggest upsets on the show, by taking down Nova and Garbage Bag Johnny in tag team action. How do you feel after this extraordinary feat?
Baron von Blackberry raises his finger, and in reaction, Angelica points her microphone towards him. Her mistake.
Baron von Blackberry: AHAHAHA! FOOL! I told you all! I made a grand, super grand, grandiose speech about how everyone stands before the hurricane! It was tremendous. I was told that I should receive a medal of honor for my words and deeds on that night. Alas, Lindsay Troy has decreed that I should receive no medals for any words or deeds I performed at Great American Nightmare! How rude! Uh, mind you, she claimed that I “didn’t do anything”. Bah! What does she know? She’s only been a champion in every wrestling promotion that’s ever existed, a few that existed only theoretically, at least three that never existed, a Schrodinger’s Wrestling Promotion that is both alive and dead, and even in a couple in alternate timelines that Anna Daniels has peered into lovingly! She does not know or understand the sacrifices that I have made in the name of SCIENCE! She does not understand the depths of my machinations!
There is a pause, as Blackberry relaxes. Then Sid clears his throat.
Sid Phillips: What our… uh, colleague means to say is that we were awesome and I did a lot of powerbombs.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah! And I dazzled everyone with so many sick moves, it made them all dizzy. They’re still dizzy, I bet! With, like, stars and birds fluttering around their heads. And definitely not because they tried to do a big wrestle while high from that weird giant entrance joint they smoked. I’m allowed to mention that, right? Hey, do you think we got a contact high from all that?
Sid Phillips: They certainly got high when I powerbombed them all those times. High into the air, I mean.
Angelica knows she has to get these idiots back on track, so she follows up this nonsense with her next question.
Angelica Brooks: So, with your victory at Great American Nightmare, you now have an opportunity to challenge for the PRIME Tag Team Championships, newly won by the Kings of Popsicles. And, obviously, Mr. von Blackberry, you have a connection with the new champions. How does that affect your plans for your upcoming match?
Baron von Blackberry: I am, in fact, a senior member of the Kings of Popsicles, yes. And let me tell you, the benefits are quite spectacular.
Angelica Brooks: I’m almost afraid to ask. What benefits?
Baron von Blackberry: Listen up! I’m only going to explain this once. The best part about being one of the senior members of the Kings of Popsicles is that you get three WHOLE percent off on any purchase of those red, white, and blue popsicles at your local grocery store!
There is a long silence.
Angelica Brooks: You mean, Bomb Pops?
Baron von Blackberry: Yes.
Angelica Brooks: …Are there any other benefits?
Baron von Blackberry: Why, who could ask for more?
Joe Fontaine: Hold on, wait. You’re super shredded, my dude. Do you even eat those things?
Baron von Blackberry: No.
Angie sighs, and decides to immediately change the subject.
Angelica Brooks: Obviously, the Winds of Change have had many run-ins with King Blueberry over the course of Survivor. And, uh… well, his previous tag team partner.
Angelica looks at Joe, significantly.
Joe Fontaine: What?
Baron von Blackberry: She means the mannequin.
Joe briefly cringes at the mention of the dreaded M-word, but he manages to recover and give a big smile in response.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, that? Ahaha, what’s the big worry? I mean, it’s not like the mannequin won the tag titles! That’d be crazy! It was, like, Jared Blueberry’s new lady friend, right? Right. I didn’t catch her name. Rascally Raspberry or something like that? It’ll be fine! We’re going to go to UltraViolence and we’re going to win the titles because Sid’s been upping his game! He’s got a whole new move in his arsenal, ready for all challengers!
Sid looks at Joe like he’s crazy, because he probably is. He holds out a hand to stop Joe from continuing.
Sid Phillips: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. A whole new move? I don’t need something like that. Nobody consulted with me on any new moves. It’s just powerbombs, baby. Hang on. Hang on, one second.
He clears his throat.
Sid Phillips: Let me tell you what the forecast is for the Kings of Popsicles.
Joe Fontaine: You know, I have opinions about meteorology that seem relevant here…
Sid Phillips (ignoring him): You got some clear skies right now. Birds are chirping. Children are playing. Maybe you can do some yard work. All is looking pretty well. But what’s that dark cloud on the horizon? Well, that’s a chance for scattered powerbombs. Your clear skies are going to get dark. Real dark. I’m gonna come flying out of the sky, powerbombing all those rain clouds onto your doorstep. You’d best stay out of the second floor of your house. Because it’s getting powerbombed. You’d best stay away from your windows. Because they’re getting powerbombed. Everything you hold dear in your life? Powerbombed. And the powerbombs won’t stop until we have secured those shiny gold belts you’ve got.
There is another long pause.
Joe Fontaine: …Yeah! Scattered showers, but with a 100 percent chance of powerbombs and bedazzlement! Who’s gonna stop us, huh?
Joe Fontaine may as well be a wizard – a wrestle wizard, even – for he has just summoned fresh hell. Hell on wheels. His question is answered by the sound of casters rolling along the floor. Flying into frame as though he had a rocket strapped to his ass, El Hijo del Senor Cool Guy bursts across the screen. But there is no rocket. Instead, he has been equipped with a pair of rollerblades with a series of sparklers crudely duct-taped to them.
This is how some people in this company think jet propulsion works. Guess which one.
Here’s a hint: it’s not the kid in the MGM-branded sweatshirt doing his damndest to keep up with the one-man plastic parade currently careening down the halls. His name is Mark, and until now has been the de facto babysitter for King Blueberry. Despite everything that’s happened in recent weeks, he still has this job. Trust us, it’s better for everyone this way. Everyone except Mark. That boy’s gonna need all the therapy.
Backstage Assistant Mark: (panting) Seriously… I can’t… WHYSOFAST?!
There’s a pause of a few seconds, before a third figure casually walks into frame. She wears a purple half-mask over the top half of her face, and the tight frown of someone who – despite having only been in the role for two weeks – is already very much Over This Shit. With her hands tucked into the front pocket of an oversized sweatshirt, the woman known as Reina Raspberry is in no hurry to catch neither Mark nor mannequin.
She pauses in front of the Winds.
Reina Raspberry: I am so sorry about this, guys. Look, we all know Jared’s kind of an idiot, right? This one’s him. This one’s aaaaaaall him.
And then, without moving, she turns in the direction that Mark had run off in.
Reina Raspberry: (deadpan) Wait. Stop. Don’t. Come back.
She sighs, the full weight of exactly what she’s signed up for starting to register.
Reina Raspberry: I should probably go deal with this. Mark! It’s plastic on wheels, just wait until the goddamn thing falls over!
By now, both Mark and the son of Super Cool Guy have made their way a good fifty feet away. She makes no real effort to give chance, merely continuing along at the same leisurely pace she maintained thus far.
The camera pans back to Angelica and the Winds of Change, who watch Reina Raspberry disappear off-camera.
Only, there’s a noteworthy absence.
Angelica Brooks: Um, where’s Mr. Fontaine?
Joe, who’d been standing next to Sid this whole time, is nowhere to be found. If you look closely, you might see the dust cloud he’s left in his wake. Sid and Blackberry both turn to see that Joe is gone.
Baron von Blackberry: Huh.
Sid Phillips: …He’s gone.
Baron von Blackberry: Well, I can’t say this was entirely unforeseen. Well played, Jared Blueberry. Well played, again. Once again, you are the Holmes to my Moriarity! The Batman to my Joker! The Dr. House to my lupus! Curse you, Jared Blueberry!
He shakes his fist at the heavens.
Angelica Brooks: Um… okay then. Over to you, Matt.
We cut away with Blackberry still vigorously shaking his fist at the sky.
TITLE? WHICH ONE? I’VE HELD MANY
With his head down, Tony Gamble walks down the backstage hallway listening to the Kidz Bop version of Doja Cat’s “Say So” through his decent Skullcandy Riff Wired On-Ear headphones. The tailored vintage suits the former Jewel in the Crown champion is known for has been replaced by a khaki pair of George Slim Chino pants and a Maximos two tone burgundy and light blue bowling shirt. An unexpected casual look from a man that would normally be dressed to the nines, confidence dripping from his pores in buckets, now shuffles down the hall trying his best to avoid any and everyone as he makes his exit.
But we all know that isn’t going to happen, because what would be the fun in that? No, instead Tony runs into one of the hundred people he would rather not see at the moment. No, not Mortimer Kjedelig… or Lindsay Troy. It’s not Heather Daniels, but she may or may not have rewound time to make Tony relive this moment with someone else because she doesn’t like that he keeps calling her Heather when her name is Anna.
You know what I would do if I could turn back time, if I could find a way? I would take back those words that hurt Devin, and he’d stay.
But I digress, because none of that matters right now. No, right now we need to focus on the former 5 Star champion, as he pulls the decent Skullcandy Riff Wired On-Ear headphones down around his neck while letting out a slight sigh.
Tony Gamble: I should’ve known better.
There with a grin that could rival Tony’s own, stood Matt Mills. Dressed to impress is the man that has interviewed some of the greatest members of PRIME’s roster, and rubbed elbows with fine Jewels that sparkled brighter than a diamond ever could.
Matt Mills: Sneaking out without saying goodbye?
Tony Gamble: That was the plan.
Mills shrugs his shoulders.
Matt Mills: Are you still upset with what happened earlier tonight?
The Grin lowers his gaze to the ground.
Tony Gamble: Of course. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I never thought I would have such a hard time dealing with it. I’ve been through this before, and yet it still surprises me every time.
Matt Mills: Yeah, you didn’t look your best.
Gamble looks up at Mills with a look of confusion on his face, which looks awkward with the ever present smile that usually glares at the people he speaks with.
Tony Gamble: Excuse me?
Matt Mills: You messed up a few times during your match.
The confusion is replaced with a scowl, or as much of one as he can muster.
Tony Gamble: You think that bothers me? Do you really think I would be upset about a little ring rust against this era’s PRIME welcoming mat?
Matt Mills: Well, you did…
Tony cuts him off before he can continue.
Tony Gamble: I’m upset because The Angled Lunchlady didn’t formally thank me for winning the Intense title at Great American Nightmare. I practically gift wrapped and tied it with a shiny little bow for his ungrateful ass. I thought his little jabs at me on Jabber were just to keep from ruining the surprise, but nooooooooooo.
The Permascar Superstar flails his arms in the air, as he says the word no… with extreme emphasis on the o, in case you couldn’t tell.
Tony Gamble: I tell you what, Mills, the Grandfather and his little choke train can pretend I’m the bad guy here. I’ve never had any trouble playing that role; I was practically born for it to tell you the truth, but they really need to look in the mirror before they go pointing fingers and giving labels to others.
His nostrils flare with every breath he takes, every move he makes.
Tony Gamble: I tried to play nice, but it looks like there’s no point. So once I’m done playing with Morty…
His eyes narrow as his smile widens. Then he just walks off, pulling the decent Skullcandy Riff Wired On-Ear headphones back over his ears. Leaving you to wonder, does he like EDM music?
FLAMBERGE vs. GARBAGE BAG JOHNNY
Nick Stuart: We’ve reached our penultimate match-up of the evening, folks! FLAMBERGE, the young up-and-comer from the French-Belgian border, is set to take on the veteran Garbage Bag Johnny!
Richard Parker: Could we have asked for an odder couple than these two?
“Dangereaux” by IAM blasts through the speakers. We see a few shots of the crowd vibing along with the French rap stylings of the music with bags of chips in hand as others cheer. FLAMBERGE, cool as the other side of the pillow, strides to the ring with a healthy dose of confidence and swagger.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, hailing from Strasbourg, France, and weighing in at two-hundred and six pounds, please welcome… FLAMBERGE!
The music switches over to Garbage Bag Johnny’s own tune, “Garbage Bag Johnny Will Win Zero 2 Hero”, as the man himself steps through the curtain. He looks absolutely astonished, as if he were expecting to walk into an entirely different part of the arena, but is instead met with a spotlight and a capacity crowd of cheering fans.
Vince Howard: And the opponent, hailing from Chicago, Illinois and weighing in at two-hundred and thirty-five pounds, here is… GARBAGE – BAG – JOOOHNNNYYY!!
GBJ slides into the ring and nearly goes to blows with Elvis Nixon, but backs down when he realizes the official is just trying to check him. In his corner across the ring, FLAMBERGE rolls his eyes.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE is coming into this off of a resounding victory over Darin Zion at Great American Nightmare. The real question though, is how will Garbage Bag Johnny fare without Nova in his corner?
Richard Parker: Let’s just hope he doesn’t accidentally try to make a tag halfway through the match!
Johnny and FLAMBO meet in the middle of the ring and entangle themselves into a collar-and-elbow tie-up. The young Frenchman comes out on top, criss-crossing Johnny’s arms, pivoting sharply, and sending him rolling over his shoulder and hitting the mat with a thump! He follows up with piston-like rights and lefts that leave GBJ covering up, until he slips under the ropes and escapes the ring for a breather.
Nick Stuart: This match has only just begun, and already, FLAMBERGE has Garbage Bag Johnny on the run!
Richard Parker: The kid’s all pepped up on those Flamin’ Hot Doritos. Hang on a sec, where the hell is Johnny going…?
Under the ring, to be specific. Elvis leans through the ropes to check on him, but GBJ nevertheless disappears under the apron. The PRIMEates roar with laughter! But on the face of FLAMBERGE, an annoyed sneer forms. He turns around and waits for Johnny to come out the side…
Sure enough, GBJ reappears from under the other side of the ring, in his mind pulling a bit of the ol’ sleight of hand. He doesn’t realize that in the ring, FLAMBO is pointedly staring him down. Shaking off a brief wave of disorientation as he gets to his feet, he slips back in under the ropes… but instead of finding an opponent with his back turned, he’s shocked to find FLAMBERGE right there, in his face!
Johnny balks in bewilderment, just as the Frenchman snags him by the arm and beard and yanks him across the leg and down onto his back, quickly transitioning to a juji-gatame!
Nick Stuart: GBJ’s attempts at teleportation send him right back into the waiting hands of FLAMBERGE, who now has him bound into that cross armbreaker!
Richard Parker: What was that, even? Does he even have any idea where he is right now?
Nick Stuart: Apparently so, as he finds the near bottom rope with his leg! Elvis Nixon orders FLAMBERGE to break the hold!
FLAMBO waits until the full count of four to break the hold. GBJ immediately pulls in his aching arm, but the Frenchman doesn’t let him rub it for long, as he quickly gets back to his feet. GBJ finds himself soon being peppered with low Muay Thai kicks that herd him to the center of the ring.
FLAMBERGE winds back for a hard hook kick aimed at Johnny’s head, but a lightbulb suddenly comes on in the head of GBJ. His hands reflexively shoot up and catch the young Frenchman by the foot, surprising himself more than the kicker! A sweep later, and FLAMBO finds himself on his back, with his feet in Johnny’s clutches!
Nick Stuart: Quick reversal by Johnny, now going for a Figure Four, I… think?
Richard Parker: Looks like he forgot how to set the legs…
Confusion is on the face of GBJ as he looks between the legs of FLAMBERGE like they were assembly instructions written in a foreign language. He ultimately decides on just jumping through the goalposts and double stomping the Frenchman’s chest! He follows up with a standing moonsault that hits the exposed FLAMBO as he’s clutching his ribs, and hooks the legs!
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE gets the shoulders up after the pin attempt
Richard Parker: So much for the flawless victory tonight. You think his old man is gonna let him hear about it?
Nick Stuart: Well if he does, I know it will probably have to wait until tomorrow, because from what I’m told, FLAMBERGE’s manager Henri Lavigne has been banned from tonight’s event! Neither he nor Darby are here tonight!
Richard Parker: Kid is finally striking out on his own, huh? I can respect that.
GBJ and FLAMBO are scrambling to their feet! A high kick from the Frenchman nearly connects with Johnny’s face, but he ducks and slips behind! A German suplex attempt gets reversed into a harai-goshi throw across the body that yet again puts Johnny to the mat!
A quick knee drop to the face follows, and FLAMBERGE drapes himself across GBJ’s head, wrapping it up into a North South choke! Johnny’s legs kick furiously as he attempts to free himself!
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE going for the choke submission attempt once more!
Richard Parker: Kid is a walking judo encyclopedia, and here Johnny can’t even figure out a Figure Four!
FLAMBO clenches the choke, but Johnny’s reflexes click when he finally finds his footing and manages to power himself over. Again, much to his own surprise, he inexplicably finds himself on top with an inverted face lock, which he quickly transitions into a Reverse DDT! He falls over FLAMBERGE’s chest to make a pin!
Nick Stuart: Garbage Bag Johnny is wanting the quick win, but FLAMBERGE is showing some poise and resilience!
Richard Parker: He’s trynna get out of that ring before FLAMBO judos him into a pretzel! Crap, now I’m hungry…
Both men dash up to their feet and immediately go into another lock-up. Thinking quickly, FLAMBERGE sticks a foot into Johnny’s chest and rolls backward with a tomoe-nage throw that flips GBJ onto his back! As soon as he sits up, GBJ receives a swift soccer kick to his neck and head that leaves his world spinning.
FLAMBO is buzzing with fury and energy, circling GBJ and beckoning him back onto his feet. Slowly, Johnny rises up on wobbling legs. An inside spinning thrust kick to the abdomen doubles him over. An axe kick directly to the back of the head drops him to his hands and knees. FLAMBERGE pounces onto his upper half and traps him with the body scissor, digging his arm deep into the throat!
Nick Stuart: MARIE ANTOINETTE!! FLAMBERGE has it locked in!
Richard Parker: That’s gotta be it! Johnny’s lights are goin’ out!
It only takes a few moments for Johnny’s body to go completely limp! Nixon acts immediately, cueing for the bell and calling for the FRENCHMAN to release the choke.
DING DING DING
FLAMBERGE bursts to his feet and slaps his chest in triumph as “Dangereux” by IAM resumes over the PA. Nixon holds up his arm as he points into the camera and winks, sending a clear message to anyone who might be watching at home.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the match, by submission… FLAAAMBEEERRRGGGE!!!
Nick Stuart: A decisive victory tonight for the young Frenchman! FLAMBERGE has to be feeling good about his performance tonight! We can see his talents and conviction develop with every week, and now it’s led him to a win over a tenured veteran in Garbage Bag Johnny!
Richard Parker: Tenured, or intoxicated, Nick? Johnny was looking kinda lost out there. I can’t tell if something bad fell into his stash, or if he’s truly rudderless without Nova there.
Nick Stuart: Whatever it was, FLAMBERGE took advantage of it, and continues to build momentum on his climb through the PRIME ranks! We have our main event still to come, ladies and gentlemen! But first, here’s a word from our sponsors!
THE PRICE OF GREATNESS IS REZPONSIBILITY
Coming back from commercial, we fade in on the commentary table. Nick is animated as he addresses the camera while Richard is expectedly checked out and watching funny animal videos on his phone.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen! It’s been an action-packed night thus far, and we still have the hotly anticipated main event to look forward to! But first, we’re going to get an exclusive word from one of the many new champions crowned at Great American Nightmare! Let’s hand it over now to our own junior reporter Simon Tillier, standing by in the ring!
Junior reporter Simon Tillier is standing alone in the ring with a microphone in hand. He may be there on business, but the apprehensive look on his face would suggest he’d rather be anywhere else.
Simon Tillier: Uhh, g-good evening everyone?
He gets an earnest crowd pop from the PRIME Faithful, much to his surprise. He’s clearly nervous being out in front of such a large audience instead of the quiet intimacy of the hallways backstage. Nevertheless, Simon gulps down his anxiety and pushes on like a true, dedicated professional.
Simon Tillier: L-ladies and gentlemen, please welcome now to the ring, fresh off his victory at Great American Nightmare…
Instead of the music we’re expecting, “Born For Greatness” by Papa Roach begins to blast over the sound system, causing a WILD uproar from the live crowd as GREAT SCOTT makes his way out onto the stage. He throws his arms eagerly into the air, hyped to be here tonight as he makes his way quickly down the ramp, a microphone in one hand and a very vibey GREAT BEAR on his flank.
GREAT SCOTT leaps up onto the ring apron, ducking through the ropes and into the ring, while his companion does what he does best— hangs out at ringside, vibing to low-fi tunes on his Beats by Dreadle headphones. He is now wearing a yarmulka. You’re welcome.
GREAT SCOTT: HELLO EVERYONE I HOPE YOU ARE HAVING A GREAT SHOW SO FAR AND THANK YOU SIMON FOR INTRODUCING ME YOU DID A GREAT JOB.
The reaction is deafening. Like, surprisingly deafening. The entire crowd is doing the GREAT SCOTT, which is a very technical and intricate dance that will probably be added to Fortnite soon.
GREAT SCOTT: I HAVE DREAMED OF THIS NIGHT EVER SINCE I WAS JUST A GOOD SCOTT AND VERY YOUNG BUT FINALLY IT IS HERE. TONIGHT IS THE LAST NIGHT I WILL EVER NOT BE THE STAR OF DAVID CHAMPION.
Another MEGA SUPER OVER POP from the fans in attendance, who cannot stop vibing to the GREAT SCOTT and losing their goddamned minds. This promo would be six stars if it was in the Tokyo Dome. It is going very well.
GREAT SCOTT: REZIN NEXT WEEK YOU AND I ARE GOING TO FIGHT FOR THE TITLE AND I AM GOING TO HIT THE SCOTTACANRANA AND THEN I WILL PIN YOU. AND THEN EVERYONE WILL CHEER AND DO THE GREAT SCOTT AND I WILL FIND LOVE AND PRIMETIME WRESTLING WILL PAY ME ENOUGH MONEY TO NOT HAVE TO TAKE A BIKE TO WORK I CAN FINALLY TAKE UBERS. IN FACT, I HAVE A NEW CATCHPHRASE FOR THIS OCCASION AND HERE IT IS HERE IS MY NEW CATCHPHRASE IT IS—
The GREATness in the ring suddenly grinds to a halt when a raspy voice bleats in over the PA.
“What the hhhHHHEEELLLLLL is THIS?!”
Attention shifts to the rampway, where all can see “The Escape Artist” Rezin angrily marching his way down the ring. The crowd, naturally, begins jeering.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh… here comes trouble!
The Five Star Title dangles at the Goat Bastard’s side, held in his left hand. His right grips the stick held up to his snarling mouth.
Rezin: Seriously, WHAT! THE! HELL?! This was supposed to be MY INTERVIEW, DAMBIT! I had an epic VICTORY SPEECH planned and EVERYTHING!
He makes for the steps as soon as he reaches the bottom of the ramp, but suddenly backs off when he sees GREAT BEAR vibing there at ringside. His face implicitly says he wants none of that.
Richard Parker: Smart move there. I wouldn’t want to interrupt those vibes…
He makes his way around the side of the ring, ignoring the fans at the barricade that relentlessly heckle him. His glare remains fixated on the bodies standing in the ring.
Rezin: I tell ya, I can’t put my finger on what the problem is with this company! In that ring, ya got the best professional wrestling talent from the world over putting on some of the best matches you entitled PARASITES have ever seen in your miserable lives… but OUTSIDE that ring? A COMPLETE and UTTER CIRCUS!
Nick Stuart: If you ask me, if anybody’s being a clown here, it’s him!
Richard Parker: Are you sure about that, Nick? The other guy is a bear handler…
Rezin scales the steps at the far corner to stand on the apron. He points accusingly to somebody standing in the ring, teeth bared and eyes looking downright murderous…
Rezin: And ya wanna paint ME out to be the big screw-up around here!? HAH! Where do I even BEGIN with this place?! The zebras that CAN’T MAKE A PROPER COUNT…
Rezin steps through the ropes and strides through the ring. GREAT SCOTT is standing his ground as the fuming Five Star Champion makes his approach…
Rezin: The tech nerds that CAN’T TIME THEIR PYROS…
…Rezin walks right past SCOTT, and leers over the cringing Simon.
Rezin: …and FRIGGIN’ INCOMPETENT REPORTERS that CAN’T HANDLE SOMETHING as BASIC and SIMPLE AS A ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW!
Simon Tillier: …wait, you think this is MY fault?! But I didn’t have anything to do with–
He slings the belt over his shoulder so that his hand may be free to grab the junior reporter by the collar of his PRIME blue blazer and savagely shake the bejesus out of him.
Rezin: SHUDDAP! Your phony excuses ain’t gonna work on ME, ya WORM! I KNOW YOU’RE behind this! ONLY YOU could BUNGLE this in the way that you BUNGLE EVERYTHING you touch! ADMIT IT, SIMPLE SIMON! You’ve HAD IT IN FOR ME since the BEGINNING, HAVEN’T YA?! And THIS is your way of GETTIN’ YOUR REVENGE ON ME, AIN’T IT?!
Tillier whimpers and pleadingly shakes his head. Unable to look at his face any longer, Rezin yanks him to the side and turns his attention to the crowd, holding the Five Star Championship high over his head while ranting and raving to anyone in earshot.
Rezin: If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this place was pullin’ YET ANOTHER CONSPIRACY against ME! Because if there’s ONE THING you normie SCUM absolutely CANNOT STAND to SEE, it’s a low-down WRETCH like ME SUCCEEDING in your SNOOTY IVORY TOWER ELYSIUM!
Rezin’s wild eyes find the camera posted at the turnbuckle, and he assaults the viewers at home with his terrifyingly maniacal face.
Rezin: WELL I AIN’T STANDIN’ FOR IT! LOVE ME or HATE ME, PRIME, I will FOREVER ESCAPE your meager attempts at SABOTAGE! I TOOK THIS TITLE off your HERO as an act of DEFIANCE… and I’LL KEEP FIGHTIN’ TOOTH AND NAIL to KEEP IT, just to SPITE YOU ALL!
But GREAT SCOTT isn’t having any of this.
GREAT SCOTT: SIR NO DISRESPECT BUT I NEED YOU TO PLEASE SHUT YOUR HECKING MOUTH PLEASE.
Rezin, his wide eyes still fixated on the camera, blinks once as his weed-addled brain attempts its best to process the words that somehow reached his ears.
GREAT SCOTT: MISTER REZIN I DO NOT LIKE THE WAY YOU ARE TALKING TO THESE FANS FRIEND AND I DO NOT LIKE THE WAY YOU TALKED TO SIMON AFTER HIS GREAT INTRODUCTION AND I AM STARTING TO THINK YOU ARE MAYBE NOT A GREAT GUY. IN FACT I THINK YOU ARE MAYBE…
Rezin ever so sloooooowwwlllyyy turns around, redirecting his death-stare around to the World’s Greatest SCOTT, as the fans buzz…
GREAT SCOTT: …A BAD GUY.
The crowd goes absolutely batshit, as this match instantly has the most heat in the whole company and should definitely be the main event of Revival 12. Cell phone towers begin to lock up and fail as the people in attendance desperately go online to buy the tickets that remain for the show.
Rezin… is livid.
Nick Stuart: Here we go…
Richard Parker: I can BEARly contain myself.
Nick Stuart: Please don’t.
Rezin takes a step toward GREAT SCOTT, no regard for human life or the fact that a live bear is standing outside the ring on standby to literally tear his arms off. He begins yelling into the face of THE GREAT ONE, shoving him backward, but SCOTT shoves him back and starts yelling too! The crowd is even louder now, literally shaking the foundations of the arena and getting seven whole stars in the Tokyo Dome this time.
GREAT SCOTT: REZIN I WILL FUC—
Without warning, a wad of disgusting black slime suddenly covers the face of GREAT SCOTT when Rezin SPITS in his eye before he can swear on television!
The boos are off the charts. Somewhere in Nevada, an old mining town is experiencing a bass induced earthquake. Negative seventy stars in the Tokyo Dome. Blinded, SCOTT staggers around in shock and agony, until the Goat Bastard takes him out with a spinning Cloven Hoof Kick!
Nick Stuart: Oh come on! That’s hardly “Five Star” behavior! What a cheap shot!
Richard Parker: Hey, maybe it’s Star of David behavior.
Nick Stuart: Careful.
Richard Parker: Oh yikes. Yeah we’re gonna have to tread carefully on that.
Immediately, GREAT BEAR awkwardly scrambles into the ring to make the save, but Rezin is quick to drop to his back, rolling off the ramp side of the ring. He quickly backs his way up the ramp, smirking down at GREAT SCOTT and reveling in the fact that he’s finally shut him up.
GREAT BEAR checks on SCOTT in the ring— he’s sufficiently downed, since this is violence that occurred outside of a wrestling match and is thus four times more devastating.
Nick Stuart: Next week, these two face off in a REAL match, for the Star of— FIVE STAR Championship. And only one thing is for certain, folks.
Richard Parker: This one is going to be a WAR.
The woman in the raspberry mask storms down the hall, both hands buried in the pocket of her sweatshirt.
This, only her second night as an active wrestler for a major promotion, was supposed to go differently. There should have been celebrations, and brazen in-ring promos daring the roster at large to come for the championship she shared with her partner, a dipshit in a blueberry costume that she planned to make very dead before the night is over. But instead, Jared had devised a half-witted plan to terrorize a member of the team who won the right to challenge them at Ultraviolence, the Winds of Change’s Joe Fontaine.
The plan, a blasphemy against the laws of physics that saw Jared tape handfuls of sparklers to a pair of roller skates, was so ridiculous that she felt obligated to stop it, if not for the team’s reputation then at least for her own. For that reason the woman called Reina Raspberry – a name she chose despite hating it – spent the better part of her night chasing a man barely out of college, as he in turn tried to corral a mannequin gone rogue.
Sparklers and skates. There is no goddamn reason that should have worked for as long as it did, or even at all, and yet the goddamn mannequin kept on rolling down the goddamn corridor while goddamn Mark sweated years off his life.
Her focus is singular as she moves through the corridor, which is why she pays little mind to the camera that follows close behind. Once more she rolls over the plan in her head. The locker room is close, and by now he’s bound to be there. She’ll meet him inside, will unleash The Rant, and then follow it with The Murder.
The door is ajar, and so she pushes it open with ease, finding him seated on a folding chair with a towel over his head.
Reina Raspberry: That was the dumbest thing I have probably ever done! Do you have any idea how long your babysitter Mark had to chase that thing? I told him to just let it fall, because that’s how gravity is supposed to work, but…
There’s a crunch and a squish underfoot, and she withdraws it to see the remnants of an eggshell and an errant blueberry on the floor. She pauses, taking a second to scan the room. His shirt – one about a ‘wrestling hipster’ – is stained purple in spots, and in others is coated with a viscous fluid. The graveyard of paper towels around his feet are similarly stained.
And still, the son of a bitch is smiling.
King Blueberry: Hey, so, I don’t suppose you brought any flour and sugar back with you.
He pulls away the towel, revealing that part of his mask is equally marked in yellow and blue.
King Blueberry: I’m about halfway towards a really shitty muffin. Thought maybe someone else brought the rest of the ingredients.
She says nothing, the scene before her is a far cry from what she expected, or planned to create. The Murder is no longer part of the schedule.
He picks another bit of shell off his shirt and flicks it to the floor.
King Blueberry: Yeah, so this has been a weird day.
Her jaw hangs open, still frozen mid-sentence, but The Rant will have to wait. She turns wordlessly and steps back into the corridor, closing the door behind her.
Only then does she start laughing.
We fade into a dark scene with a glowing white orb. The camera focuses to reveal a single light fixture, an Edison light bulb with a steel cage around it. The camera follows the path of the light as it shines down into the dark room. Sitting on a metal folding chair in the center of a darkened MMA gym is a muscular bald man in a white rash guard. The walls of the room are line with mirrors, fight posters, and the words “Champions Advantage.” The man hunched forward in his seat; his gloved hands slung across his lap. He looks at his hands and flexes his fingers opened and closed as he talks without looking directly at the camera. He remains in his chair for the entire scene.
Man: Can a person be in love with two people at the same time? Is the heart capable of producing that much emotion? It’s been tried before, by most people at some point in their lives. It usually ends poorly. Don’t get me wrong, it feels amazing at first. Your heart will fill full for the first time in as long as you can remember but being pulled in two separate directions is unsustainable. At a certain point, you have to make a decision. One or the other. You CAN fight one battle here or one battle over there, but you CAN’T do both at the same time. You have to sacrifice one for the other. Your old life or your new one. To fight a battle on two fronts at the same time, is to lose the battle on both.
Man: There was a woman that loved me once. She wasn’t a princess or a beauty queen, but she was my person. She was good to me, even when I didn’t deserve it. Most people don’t believe in love at first sight, but that’s the way it was for me. Without saying a word, she had me. The way she looked at me, like lightning striking my lungs. They way her hair bounced when she ran. The way she ate her food. You have probably felt it too in some part of your life. Minding your own business, just trying to get by, and then BOOM! You get struck, and instantly, you know that you will do very… very stupid things for her.
Man: You’ve kept yourself together for this far. Your life is at the point where you are ready to let people in, and then this new passion shows up and knocks you completely off base. It gives you the strength, courage, and foolishness to put yourself in dangerous situations. You’d sacrifice a piece of yourself to watch this new fire grow. And you’d bleed to protect it. But why? Is it animal instinct? Is it bad television? It’s the best and worst thing you can do with your life, because inside, it’s pure chaos. You have to live knowing that, at any moment, that the dream could be over, and you’ll be left wondering if any of it was real. But you’ve come too far now. You have to see it through to the end.
Man: I loved my wife. I love professional wrestling.
Man: The first phase of new love is ‘Euphoria’. It’s pure happiness. Food tastes better. Music sounds better. It’s biological. It’s chemical. It’s a new high. And it starts to consume you. All of your energy, creativity, and time are going into this new project and your world redefines itself. You lose sleep and obsess over when you can get your next high and how much longer you can continue on with it. The thought of losing this opportunity is unbearable. It’s like, for the first time in your life, you’ve found something real and true and you’ve never been more sure of anything. You feel personal growth, but those on the outside, the ones who knew you before, think you look stupid and it’s making them sick.
Man: Wrestling means everything to me. It IS my life now.
Man: Phase two is ‘Endangerment’. Now that you’ve committed to the new ‘you’, you’ve made yourself extremely vulnerable. The normal routines you’ve grown comfortable with are instantly fractured and every angle you try from this point forward is something new. There’s no guarantee that anything is going to work out, so what do you do? Do you pace yourself and ease into your new life? No. You do the opposite. You jump right in, often destroying any connection to your old life. No turning back now, you’ve made sure of it. You tell yourself that the permanence of your decisions are good for your anxiety. That by lowering your defenses and loosening up your personal boundaries. That you are becoming a better person. But all you’ve done is change your needs and desires with that of your object of affection. You aren’t even a complete person anymore. You’re part of something bigger and riskier than just yourself. It’s scary, isn’t it? Walking the tightrope with no safety net. You get halfway to where you intend to be, and that’s when you give voice to your insecurities. What if you fail? What if it doesn’t work out? What if this was all a huge mistake and you’ve ruined any chance of going back to your old life? It’s only now that you realize, you’ve been in denial. Denial of how dangerous a new passion can be. On a long enough timeline, either by death or separation, every relationship ends.
Man: This business saved my life. I owe it so much.
Man: The final stage of new love is ‘Exhaustion’. With all of the chemical changes and fears going on inside of you, it is no wonder you feel so exhausted. You think once the probation period is over that you’ll be able to get some rest. You think that comfort is just over the next hill. But it’s not true. It’s an everyday effort. The best thing you can do is stop. But you won’t. You’ll take on any obstacle because the strong foundation you’ve built with your passion gives you courage. It gives you confidence that you have something to fall back on if you fail. But you don’t. Your new passion is built on a lie. On a fantastic version of reality. And now, you’re tired. You’re unhealthy. But you insist that you’re happy because you’ve made it through the challenges and arrived at the other side. Passion doesn’t have a finish line. The bond doesn’t break. It changes forms. It can be dark at times, but it doesn’t go away. It’s a tattoo on your soul and the failed passions of your past forge the person that you become tomorrow.
Man: My wife died from cancer. I didn’t think I’d ever love again. But I was wrong.
The man removes his glove on his left hand to reveal tattoos across his knuckles. He flexes his fingers open and closed before revealing the letters. They read ‘W’, ‘I’, ‘F’, ‘E’
Man: I found a new love. It’s in this ring. It’s in the people I work with. It’s in this place and others like it. It’s in each of you at home, listening to me right now. From deep within my soul, I love Professional Wrestling. And this amazing company, PRIME Wrestling, has allowed a lucky few of us to live out our dreams here, in front of the world. At any moment it can be over. But it’s real. I feel it, and you know you feel it too.
Man: My name is… ‘The Bull of the North’, Buster Gloves. I’m a professional wrestler for PRIME Wrestling. I come bearing a message. The glory of championships will make you feel higher than any drug, than any love. Be careful with it.
Buster taps on each tattooed knuckle, one at a time, as he delivers his final remark.
Buster Gloves: Glory is temporary, but Wrestling… Is… For…Ever.
Buster slowly looks up to make eye contact with the camera as we fade to black.
**The following public service announcement has been paid for with Hayes Hanlon’s lunch money.
Then, the faint and ominous sound of Latin church hymns.
De homine equis,
Et tu nome padre,
Spiritus de sante….
Voiceover: Are you currently having trouble at work, home, the bedroom, with your parole officer, on the softball field, being seen, or changing a lightbulb? If so, take a deep breath and prepare to wash all your troubles away.
The Latin church hymns come to a stop.
A picture of a dilapidated outhouse appears on screen.
Voiceover: MESSIAH WANTS YOU!
The door of the outhouse swings open, and out steps Head of MESSIAH relations, Julian Bathory. Well, it’s someone disguised as Julian Bathory: Silly scruff beard. Silly wig. Silly ceremonial gown. Silly piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe. Coincidentally, he’s also wearing Cancer Jiles’ T-Shades.
Jiles Cancory: Hi, my name is Jibbering Bitchboy. Not only am I the proud leader of MESSIAH, but I’ve never appeared in the MAIN EVENT before.
A huge MESSIAH thumbs up.
Jiles Cancory: I want you to know that I too was once like you. Sad. Miserable. Pathetic. Tiny penis. However, after I embraced the way of the Dark Arts my troubles were fully lobotomized. Most anyway. Those enhancement pills never worked. Anyway, now I lead, and other people follow. I’m important. Respected.
Another huge, MESSIAH thumbs up.
Jiles Cancory: I know. How can this be? How can a crumb like myself go on to be Violin Jack’s hero? Well, I’ll tell you. When you join MESSIAH you undergo extensive group therapy known as “Fapping”. It is a cutting edge, patent pending conversion technique that MESSIAH has mastered. Think Seven Minutes in Heaven, but for incells.
Cut to Violence Jack for a testimonial. Yeah, it’s another imposter. You can tell because Bobby is so lazy he forgot to put the disguise on, and instead simply draped it across his shoulders.
Violence Bob: JOIN US! Bring donuts.
And there’s that, too.
Cut back to Cancory.
Jiles Cancory: All it takes is a hundred dollar donation to join MESSIAH today! Not only that, JOIN NOW and you’ll receive a personalized MESSIAH cup commemorating your pledge.
Jiles Cancory: You might be thinking wow, that’s pretty cool. Well, it gets even better. When the time is right and I finally do get to the MAIN EVENT, those who have pledged will be invited to join me at the Festival of Tears.
More fake applause.
Jiles Cancory: Once there, we will celebrate by filling our commemorative cups from the FOUNTAIN of CRAPATHIA, and toast the Savior of the New World!
Cut to a random MESSIAH FOLLOWER for another testimonial. Yeah, it’s Doozer. He’s holding some cup a homeless person would be using to ask for spare change. It even has his name written in crayon on the side of it. It is probably filled with Metamucil.
MESSIAHer: Not only did I get my cup, but when I’m holding it people can see me! JOIN NOW!
Cut back to the outhouse. Cancory, Violence Bob, and MESSIAHer are now all together. All of them have cool cups. All are smiling.
The mESSIAH Bandits: JOIN NOW!
**Please send all checks/donuts to the Ivory Tower, MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
HAYES HANLON vs. CANCER JILES
Nick Stuart: Well, up next in our main event is the former Five Star Champion, Hayes Hanlon, taking on–
The lights dim.
A breeze moves through the air.
Then, surprisingly, no guitar riff, and no Screamin’ Jay.
De homine equis
Et tu nome padre
Spiritus de sante
Nick Stuart: Don’t tell me.
Richard Parker: Is that incense?
To no one’s surprise, Jiles Cancory, in full gown and facial prosthesis steps out from behind the curtain. He stops at the top of the ramp and holds his hands up as if he were receiving a snake to charm.
Richard Parker: Do you think this idiot even knows he’s wrestling Hayes Hanlon tonight?
Nick Stuart: Sadly, I think this is all part of his game plan.
The leader of the mESSIAH Bandits walks down the aisle, all sorts of debris flying through the air at him. Once he gets to the ring he takes the steps up and enters between the ropes.
Of course, this occurs after a vicious berating of Timo Bolomba.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know how Timo hasn’t snapped on him yet. This type of behavior is happening before every match it seems.
Richard Parker: Timo is a pro’s pro. Jiles doesn’t even register.
Nick Stuart: I dunno Richard, we’ll just have to wait and see how much longer that lasts.
The Curator of Crapathia does a quick shimmy, sending the ceremonial gown flying off of him. The facial prosthetics and piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of his shoe disintegrate into the Doozer realm.
Richard Parker: There he is. Cancer fucking Jiles. Such a murderous asshole of life. Just look at him. Those stupid shades. Stupid slicked hair. He’ll never be a UNIVERSAL Champion. Never.
Nick Stuart: Those tights though.
The Maestro of COOL hits a pose, causing a huge ring pyro to light up the MGM Grand. Then, the well known guitar riff followed by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins drowns out the boo’s.
I’m the one your mama warned you about
When you see me, I will leave you no doubt
I’m the coolest man that ever walked this earth
I’ve been the coolest since the day of my birth
I am the cool
Richard Parker: Of course this misfit still gets his song and a pyro, as if he hasn’t wasted enough time already.
Nick Stuart: It’s always a mind game with Jiles. He claims, and like it or not there is some validity to this claim, but he claims to be the MAIN EVENT. All else are visitors. As such, and to maybe prove that he is what he says he is, of course he gets two entrances.
Richard Parker: He’s not that smart. I won’t believe it. I can’t. I won’t. And I can’t.
We Came as Romans.
Let ’em know, Vegas.
Emerging from the wall of white light, Hayes takes some extra time on top of the ramp. He paces back and forth, eyes trained on the COOLympian in the ring.
Nick Stuart: And here comes the Event Horizon!
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEAD!”
Nick Stuart: Great American Nightmare did not go as planned for the rookie, losing his title to The Goat Bastard, Rezin. That said, he has a huge opportunity tonight to leave that story behind him, and carve a new one in PRIME’s main event scene.
Richard Parker: He got cocky, Nick. And when young men get cocky they make mistakes. Rezin taught him a lesson at Great American Nightmare, and Hanlon better be smart enough to learn from it.
He walks back to center and pauses, lingering a little longer on Jiles. He then lifts one finger to say “hold, please,” then reaches to the back of his tights, retrieving his gold-lensed aviators, sliding them on with both hands, following through his hair.
Jiles is, decidedly, unamused.
Richard Parker: And clearly, he has not.
Hayes caps it off with a sweep of his ‘stache, and after reaching his hands back to the ceiling, embarks on his march to the ring.
Climbing the steps and through the ropes, The Event Horizon strolls across the mat. Climbing up to the bottom rope, spinning 180 to face Cancer once more. Hanlon tilts his shades down his nose, offering one more glance to the COOL, then leans back over the post, arms out and chest to the sky.
“I’M FIGHTING THE GRAAVITY, IT’S PULLING THE WORST PART OUT OF ME!
He hops down, the lights and music fading out. Hayes plucks his aviators from his head and tosses them nonchalantly to a stagehand at ringside, leaning into his corner and waiting for the show to begin.
Nick Stuart: This will be a very telling match for both competitors, partner. A lot to lose, and a lot to gain.
Richard Parker: It’s showtime!
Timo finishes checking both competitors and calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: Here we go!
Richard Parker: Don’t do the doobie thing again Hayes! I need you to kill Jiles!
The two approach the center of the ring, eyeing each other up. Hayes circles to Jiles’ right, but Jiles calmly, almost COOLy walks away as Hanlon follows. Hanlon marches to the center of the ring and tries to rush Jiles. Cancer calmly sticks himself between the ropes as Timo Bolamba has to beckon Hayes Hanlon to back off. The young challenger gives a big sigh, as Jiles yells at Timo to make sure Hanlon is backed away.
Nick Stuart: Smart work by Jiles in the early going.
Richard Parker: Smart? This man wants to kill PRIME wrestling, he wants to be the wolf that tap dances on our corpse, howling at some red moon like a crazy man.
Nick Stuart: You can hate Cancer Jiles for his views, you can hate him for the way he goes about business, but you can’t hate him for the electricity he brings to an arena.
Richard Parker: The only electricity Jiles should be bringing to an arena should be from whatever the hell they call the electric company in Las Vegas.
Jiles enters the ring, still yelling at Timo to keep Hanlon away. Hayes comes barreling in and catches Jiles off guard, he tries to take Jiles down, but Jiles manages to scamper himself back to the corner. Timo slowly, very slowly at least in Jiles’ eyes, almost saunters over to the ropes to start counting Hanlon.
Hanlon slams his shoulder into Jiles’ stomach, the ascendant of COOLympus grimaces. Realizing that help isn’t coming from the referee, he digs his well manicured nails in and rakes them up Hanlon’s back. Hanlon shoots up like he was hit by a bolt of electricity and grabs at the red marks on his back, as Timo comes over to scold Jiles. Jiles brushes Timo off and marches after Hanlon, he digs the nails in again and rakes down Hanlon’s back this time.
Nick Stuart: Vicious attack from Jiles here, but it got Hanlon away and Jiles seems to be on the offensive.
Richard Parker: God I hate him, I hate him so much.
Nick Stuart: You’re just mad he’s better at cheating than everyone else.
Hanlon turns around swinging, looking for a big overhand right. Jiles ducks under the blow and drives a knee into Hanlon’s midsection. Hanlon doubles over, and Jiles hits the ropes, he slides under the doubled over Hanlon and smashes Hayes in the face with a thumb to the eye.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles is a disgusting human, you’re not wrong Richard.
Richard Parker: I know! Did you see how he straightened his thumb out? He delivered a perfect eye jab there, and that’s just wrong.
Hayes is in his own personal hell as Jiles jumps to his feet, the much larger Hanlon is holding his eye leaning in the corner. Jiles strikes, diving at Hanlon’s knee with a vicious chop block. Hanlon drops to one knee, still holding onto the top rope. Jiles kips up like he’s some type of super hero, and kicks Hanlon’s good foot out from under him.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon is in trouble here, we all knew he was taking a step up in competition.
Richard Parker: HE WAS A CHAMPION! HE SHOULDN’T BE GETTING KILLED OUT HERE! COME ON HAYES!
Jiles grabs Hanlon by the back of the head and drives it into the middle turnbuckle, one, two, three, four, five, six…
Nick Stuart: I think he’s going all the way with this.
Seven, eight, Timo is screaming at Jiles as number nine happens. Jiles looks him in the eyes smirking and slams Hanlon’s face into the middle turnbuckle for the tenth time as Bolamba finally separates the two.
Richard Parker: Disqualify him! The one time I want you to follow the damn rules Timo!
Timo backs Jiles off, but Jiles ducks under Timo and is right back on Hanlon. He rips him out of the corner to the center of the ring. He pulls Hanlon up, and hits him with a perfectly executed snap suplex. Jiles covers Hanlon, with both hands pressing into the middle of Hanlon’s chest.
TW – KICKOUT!
Nick Stuart: You’re not going to get a win over Hayes Hanlon that easy.
Richard Parker: It was about showing Hanlon that he’s getting dominated, Nick. This guy’s mind games’ play mind games.
A small cheer goes up as Jiles is thrown backwards. Hanlon starts to get himself to his feet, but Jiles is right back over in the young man’s face. Hayes fires off a right hand to Jiles’ midsection, and then pulls back and hits him again, backing Jiles away. Cancer stumbles back in as Hanlon pulls back his arm for another shot, he grabs Hanlon’s right arm and delivers a knee strike to Hanlon’s shoulder.
Richard Parker: God dammit…
Hanlon roars in pain, as Jiles pulls back again and knees Hanlon right across the mouth. Hayes sprawls out across the canvas and Cancer Jiles continues his grim work. He leans down, pressing an arm on Hanlon’s shoulder to hold it in place, then stomps on Hanlon’s right hand repeatedly.
Richard Parker: Finger stuff? WHO DOES FINGER STUFF? WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM!?
Nick Stuart: I mean Hayes showed him how strong that right hand is, and now Jiles is taking it away.
Jiles, finally satisfied stands up and delivers one last stomp on Hanlon’s hand. He doesn’t lift his leg up, and instead stands on Hanlon’s hand. Hanlon finally is able to rip his arm out from under Jiles and starts crawling to the ropes.
Nick Stuart: He just stood there on his hand, for like three entire seconds.
Richard Parker: Great, now Hayes is the one armed man.
Hayes rolls to the ropes and starts to pull himself up using his left arm. Jiles once again is being lectured by Timo Bolamba, but brushes him off to deliver a chop block again to Hanlon’s plant foot.
Richard Parker: He’s going to turn the kid into a paraplegic.
Nick Stuart: Jiles said he was out to hurt Youngblood’s protégé.
Richard Parker: He didn’t say cripple him!
Hanlon grabs his knee and rolls to the outside. Timo tries to push Jiles away from the ropes, but Jiles just walks towards the ropes to his right, drops to the mat and rolls out, not listening to a thing Timo just said. Jiles rounds the corner and gets leveled by a Hayes Hanlon left hand. Jiles fires back with a knife edge chop.
Hanlon fires off another left that staggers Jiles.
Jiles spins around towards the crowd, but Hanlon is back on him and slams his head into the barrier. Then lifts Jiles in the air…
…And drops him across the neck onto the barrier.
Richard Parker: YES! There we go kid, now don’t do anything stupid!
Hanlon takes a few steps back, and reaches into his tights pulling out a pair of Terminator Shades, placing them on his face.
Richard Parker: Oh God, he’s doing something stupid…
Hanlon runs in with a head full of steam and tries to spear Jiles, but Jiles moves out of the way as Hanlon crashes into the barrier.
Nick Stuart: That spear would have incapacitated Jiles for sure!
Richard Parker: I don’t know what universe Hayes thought that was a good idea, you never taunt a guy who normally does the taunting. They know all the tricks!
Hanlon is motionless on the floor, and Jiles grabs him by the cheeks and slaps the terminator shades clean off of him.
Jiles walks away, managing to step on the knock off shades on the way by. He smirks and rolls back into the ring.
Richard Parker: GET UP HAYES!
The crowd starts to clap, trying to will Hanlon to his feet.
Hayes gets his left arm on the barrier and starts to pull himself up.
Nick Stuart: Not looking good for Hayes Hanlon.
Richard Parker: GET UP YOU DOPE SMOKING IDIOT! GET UP!
Hayes finally gets to his feet and dives under the bottom rope just as Timo was about to finish the count out.
Richard Parker: Oh shit.
Jiles takes the opportunity to once again absolutely flatten, he pulls back and kicks Hanlon soccer style right in the face. He starts stomping on Hanlon’s face and right shoulder, alternating where the boots are headed. Timo goes to get in between them, but Jiles stands on Hanlon’s back and grabs both of Hanlon’s arms, yanking them backwards.
Richard Parker: Shit. Shit. Shit.
Nick Stuart: Hayes’ foot is under the bottom rope!
Hanlon gets his foot on the ropes and Timo rushes in to count Jiles. Cancer just continues to smirk, looking Timo right in the eyes as he gets to the four count before letting go, letting Hanlon’s face smack off the ring mat. Jiles turns on his heel, driving it into the young man’s back with all of his weight for good measure. Jiles rolls Hanlon over and covers him, once again pressing on Hanlon’s chest with all of his weight.
Richard Parker: YES!
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the kids got a ton of heart!
The arena comes back to life and starts clapping and stomping their feet in rhythm. Cancer Jiles puts a stop to it, by clapping and stomping along with them while standing crouched waiting for Hanlon to get up.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL — NO! JILES MISSED!
Richard Parker: Thank God. That might have killed the kid.
Hanlon ducks under the attempted superkick, and rolls up Cancer Jiles. (Yes we just used Randall Schwartz finisher in a main event. Suck it.)
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon trying to steal victory from the jaws of defeat!
Richard Parker: YES! STEAL IT!
Richard Parker: NO!
Jiles is once again, absolutely irate while Hanlon takes a moment to breathe. Jiles is yelling at Timo again as Hayes takes the time to gingerly get to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon has taken an incredible amount of punishment from Cancer Jiles.
Richard Parker: I’m pretty sure his right hand is broken.
Hayes spins Jiles around and smashes him with a left hand, then another left hand, and tries to finish his striking combo with his off hand but Jiles kicks him right in the stomach. Hanlon doubles over, and Jiles kicks him in the face to bring the large man back to a standing position. He grabs Hanlon again, looking for a snap suplex but Hanlon doesn’t budge. Jiles rears back again for the snap suplex, but once again Hanlon doesn’t move. Jiles tries to get away, but Hanlon hits him with a snap suplex of his own.
Richard Parker: Big men don’t flip over smaller men easy!
Nick Stuart: Big reversal of momentum for Hanlon.
Hayes takes a moment to catch his breath, and gets to his feet gingerly caring for his right arm. Jiles also makes it to his feet. Hanlon throws a left hand that once again staggers Jiles and this time whips Jiles into the ropes. Jiles comes running back and Hanlon picks him up one armed and delivers a thunderous spine buster.
Richard Parker: YES! KILL HIM LIKE YOUNGBLOOD DID! SMASH HIM!
Nick Stuart: What a spine buster from Hanlon, and it looks like the man going to the main event of Ultraviolence is down!
Hanlon pulls Jiles up to his feet, and gingerly places him on his right shoulder. Hanlon grimaces as he runs, but crushes Jiles to the mat with a powerslam. Hanlon jumps to his feet and immediately poses only using his left arm, signaling for The Epoch.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles is in big trouble here, Hayes Hanlon is rolling.
Richard Parker: And when a big man is rolling he’s hard to stop!
Hanlon pulls Jiles to his feet, and whips him into the ropes, Jiles comes back…
Richard Parker: HERE WE GO!
Flashbulbs explode around the MGM Grand as Hanlon grips Jiles around the throat with both hands, turns, and plants him to the canvas with both hands, while sitting out. Hanlon reaches across his body trying to support his other shoulder as Timo Bolamba slides in for the count.
Richard Parker: No fucking way.
Nick Stuart: CANCER JILES SURVIVES HE SURVIVES THE EPOCH!
Timo confirms what everyone just saw by holding two fingers up.
Richard Parker: THAT WAS THREE TIMO! ONE TWO THREE! THAT WAS THREE!
Nick Stuart: What’s Hanlon going to do next?
Hayes knows exactly what he’s going to do next, he gets to his feet carefully, and drags Jiles to his feet by his incredibly well manicured hair. Jiles is out, absolutely limp as Hanlon hoists the man onto his shoulders and marches to the turnbuckles.
Nick Stuart: This is how Hayes Hanlon won the Five Star Championship.
Richard Parker: No way this cockroach is kicking out of The Super Massive.
Hayes places Jiles backwards sitting on the top rope, he climbs up to the middle rope and tries to put Jiles back on his shoulder for the burning hammer portion of the maneuver. Hanlon grimaces again as he gets Jiles up onto his shoulders.
Richard Parker: NO!!!
Jiles manages to flip all the way over landing on his feet. He slams Hanlon with a thumb to the eye, and follows it up with two quick right hands, sending a shocked Hayes to sitting on the top rope. Jiles climbs up to the middle rope, and hooks Hanlon in a front face lock. Hanon tries to fight back, but Jiles bites Hanlon’s shoulder so he stops throwing punches.
Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!
Nick Stuart: Superplex from the top rope by Cancer Jiles! Hayes Hanlon is down in the center of the ring.
Jiles takes a moment to catch his breath before crawling over and draping his arm across Hanlon.
Timo leaps to his feet again showing two.
Richard Parker: Thank God. Thank God. Thank God. Thank God.
Nick Stuart: HAYES HANLON JUST KICKED OUT OF A GIANT SUPERPLEX!
Jiles is irate, he gets to his feet screaming at Bolamba, doing Richard Parker’s job and clapping his hand together three times. Bolamba shows him the two fingers and Jiles brushes him off. He starts beckoning for Hayes to get to his feet.
Richard Parker: DON’T GET UP! STOP BEING STUPID! JUST STAY DOWN! HE CAN’T HURT YOU IF YOU STAY DOWN!
Nick Stuart: You’re not wrong Richard! But that’s not what Hayes Hanlon is made of.
Richard Parker: He’s made of a copious amount of drugs and muscles. I get it, but NOOOOOOOOOO!
Cancer Jiles comes across the ring again, going for Terminal Cancer. Hanlon ducks under the outstretched leg of Jiles and grabs him by the neck and smashes Jiles to the ground with his jumping shoulder sit out jawbreaker.
Nick Stuart: FLASH POINT! HE GOT ALL OF IT!
Richard Parker: YES!
Hayes jumps to his feet, and doesn’t waste time with the pose, pulling Jiles up as well. He whips him into the ropes, grabs Jiles around the neck and slams him to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: THE EPOCH! ANOTHER EPOCH!
Richard Parker: YES! YES! YES! I’M GOING TO DANCE TONIGHT! YES!
Timo slides over for the cover.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: YES! HAYES HANLON HAS DONE IT!
Nick Stuart: HAYES HANLON JUST DEFEATED CANCER JILES!
Hanlon falls to the mat his chest heaving, he grabs his right shoulder and gingerly takes care of his arm as Timo rushes over to check on him.
Nick Stuart: WHAT A NIGHT REVIVAL 11 IS! THAT’S ALL! For the ACE Network tonight and PRIME I’m Nick Stuart, here with Richard Parker. Have a great night folks.
Richard Parker: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS!
LATE NIGHT MEETING
Our scene opens up backstage at the MGM Grand. Lindsay Troy and Melvin Beauregard are walking down the hallway, long after the fans and most of the wrestlers have left for the night.
Melvin Beauregard: Sorry about the late night meeting, but I just wanted to let you know…
Troy tilts her head down towards Melvin.
Melvin Beauregard: Well you know, it’s been great working together the last six months, and we’ve accomplished a lot. Remember when we talked about this residency and we were worried about ever getting out of the gate?
Lindsay Troy: Oh, we were getting out of the gate. That’s for sure.
Melvin Beauregard: Yeah, but nobody expected what we have now. What a fantastic restart this has been, the MGM is thrilled with attendance, and they are super excited about the uptick in streaming numbers on the ACE Network.
Melvin stops and looks up at Lindsay Troy.
Melvin Beauregard: It’s been fantastic working together these last six months. Absolutely amazing, even with the entire being threatened in my office thing…
Lindsay Troy: You got a free smoke machine, though.
Melvin Beauregard: HA! I did. I did get a free smoke machine out of it. But yeah, it’s been absolutely fantastic.
Lindsay Troy: Even the time King Blueberry stole that forklift?
Melvin Beauregard: Well you know… I had to be mad, it was my job.
Melvin and Troy laugh with each other for a moment.
Lindsay Troy: So what are you saying, Melvin? I could have heard all of this on an earnings call.
Melvin takes a deep breath and sighs, scratches his worn upper lip, then wipes the sweat off the top of his bald head.
Melvin Beauregard: Well, this’ll be my last night as the MGM Liaison for PRIME.
Lindsay Troy: Oh… really? Are they hiring someone else?
Troy holds up a hand after a moment of thought and continues.
Lindsay Troy: I’m sorry, that was awful of me. Congratulations Melvin, I’m very happy for you and your family. I wish you all the best.
Melvin smiles, and nods as the two start walking down the hallway again.
Melvin Beauregard: But no, I don’t think they’ll be hiring anyone else. Job is probably too high stress and too much of a liability.
Lindsay Troy: Who knew hanging out with forty to fifty wrestlers every couple weeks could be that bad.
Melvin Beauregard: You should see what happened to our insurance premiums.
The two smile, and share a laugh.
Lindsay Troy: So that’s it?
Melvin Beauregard: Well… not exactly…
The Queen’s brow furrows in confusion as a manila folder is handed to her. She flips the flap open, pulls out a stack of papers, and begins reading through the document. Melvin, in the meantime, has already gotten a head start walking down the hallway.
Lindsay Troy: SON OF A BITCH!
Melvin takes off, breaking into an outright sprint as fast as his little legs can carry him.
Melvin Beauregard: SEE YOU NEXT REVIVAL!