MORTIMER KJEDELIG vs. TRISTAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY
No cold open tonight folks, let’s just get right into the signs shall we?
THE HALLS? REALLY?
I WANT TO HIRE PAXTON RAY SO I CAN FIRE HIM AGAIN
DEAR DR. REFORM DOES THIS LOOK INFECTED?
BE SURE TO PACK YOUR RUING PREPARATION KITS IN CASE OF DR. REFORM
RUE LIES: THE NED REFORM STORY
RANDALL SCHWARTZ MAY BE A CHAMPION? THIS IS THE WORST MULTIVERSE
I WATCHED just scott KIP UP OFF THE MAT AND SCOTTACANRANA DR REFORM OUT OF THE AIR, AND MY LIFE WILL NEVER BE THE SAME
MAMA WANTS SOME CHOCOLATE COVERED BLUEBERRY HNNNGGGGGH
SOYLENT GREEN: THE OFFICIAL MEAL PREP KIT OF JACOB MEPHISTO
I KEYED MCGEE’S SORRENTO
WHY DIDNT THEY COVER SID PHILLIPS IN CHOCOLATE?
I NEED ROSETTA STONE WHEN I LISTEN TO FLAMBO TALK
I WISH I COULD BAKE A CAKE FILLED WITH RAINBOWS AND SMILES AND EVERYONE WOULD EAT AND BE HAPPY.
I BELIEVE IN YOU*
*-unless you’re the Love Convoy
THIS BLATANT FRUITISM WILL NOT STAND
HERE’S MY BANG LIST:
3.5 INCH DISK
ALEXEI RUSLAN SHOPS AT DULUTH TRADING COMPANY
IVAN STANISLAV SHOPS AT KOHLS
KOHL’S HAS 20% OFF IN STORE AND ONLINE UNTIL OCTOBER 18TH! GET IT! OH THIS IS TOO LATE!
…CAN WE CIRCLE BACK ABOUT THAT STABLE?
Well that was fun. Let’s turn it over to Nick and Richard, shall we?
Nick Stuart: Hello everyone, we are just about ready to start our opening contest-
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith interrupts the announcer as the crowd boos and out walks Pretty in Pink herself, Vickie Hall, receiving nuclear heat for the acts her and her group performed against the Tag Team Champions to end ReVival 16 two weeks ago.
Nick Stuart: Folks, I was going to get into this during the opening contest but we actually DON’T know the status of King Blueberry or Reina Raspberry for that matter after the vicious assault at the hands of Vickie Hall, her husband Jonathan-Christopher, teammate Darin Zion and this new guy, Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy. Honestly, I’m already sick to my stomach talking about-
Vickie Hall: HELLO awesome incredible joyous land of PRIME!
Vickie inadvertently interrupts the announcer again as the fans boo but The Woman of Wonder is living in her own little world. It’s like she doesn’t register the jeers. Instead, she tilts her head back, closes her eyes and sways from side to side in a dreamland. She sports a hot pink mini-top, hot pink leggings and the loudest pair of hot pink sneakers one could get their hands on (with cute lil’ bunnies on the front of them, it’s so adorbs).
Out walks The Vow of Virtue, Jonathan-Christopher Hall. He wraps his arms overtop of the tiny little woman. Jonathan-Christopher looks like he hasn’t changed since the attack. He’s in his black attire from two weeks ago, only without the ski mask.
Next up struts REAL LOVE Darin Zion, also in the same black gear, despite the ski mask. And yes, he holds a steering wheel in his hands.
Vickie Hall: I’m here to tell you PRIME has changed!
Vickie Hall: I know, right!? Just because PRIME’s owner can’t find love doesn’t mean we can’t express ours! Plus what we have in store for the King of Popsicles tickles me from head to toe! What you saw two weeks ago was NOTHING!
Nick Stuart: She was fined, you know. They all were fined.
Richard Parker: They don’t seem to mind…
Vickie gazes up into her man’s eyes. She giggles childishly, before trying to compose herself from the joy she feels inside. Zion lightly honks the horn a couple of times before turning to a spot in the crowd and honking it directly at them.
Vickie Hall: Me, my Amazing Life Partner and his best friend are going to fix this journey. PRIME is a fairytale. A wondrous, superpentious, dreamiclious display of LOVE!
Nick Stuart: Are those even words?
Richard Parker: [Deep thought] I think so.
Suddenly, Vickie’s demeanor switches on a dime. Anger floods her face, her free hand rolls into a ball of rage as she shakes profusely. Her ALP detaches himself from hanging off her shoulders as Vickie walks a few steps forward, into the front of the rampway.
Vickie Hall: KING BLUEBERRY!
The crowd cheers.
Vickie Hall: You poured chocolate syrup on me… so we fucking WATERBOARDED YOU.
And then all is calm again as she giggles and pops her shoulders up and down. Jonathan-Christopher is there to once again hang himself over the top of her body.
Vickie Hall: Everyone is on notice because we are mad! We tried to play nice and express our love but this wasn’t possible.
She holds the mic up, towards the mouth of her Amazing Life Partner. Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes fall on the crowd. He takes a deep breath.
And screams into the mic.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES RUINED EVERYTHING. ALL WE WANTED WAS A NOOK TO EXPRESS HOW WE FEEL BUT YOU FUCKING PRICKS WOULDN’T LET IT HAPPEN. NOW WE WILL KILL, KILL, FUCKING MURDER-KILL-DESTROY YOU ALL!!! KILL KILL KIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!
He’s breathing like a maniac as Vickie has a pleased look on her face. She lowers the mic and tilts her head upwards to view her man. Raising an arm, she pats him on top of the head like he did well.
Vickie Hall: Good boy, my love.
Jonathan-Christopher is huffing and puffing. The guy is in his mid-twenties but looks like he worked himself into a heart attack. Regardless, Vickie’s moved on. A lightbulb goes off in her head.
Vickie Hall: I almost forgot! It’s Journey time! IT’S CONVOY TIME.
Zion goes apeshit ballistic honking into the horn.
Vickie Hall: Introducing our NEWEST member… he is Jonathan-Christopher’s cousin… TRISTAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY!
The Nuzzle Lord from Sacramento, California appears, also wearing his all black attacker uniform from last week. He’s even wearing the ski mask but as he approaches the others, he rips it off to display a confident, smug look across his freckled face. The fans continue to boo. TCG hugs his cousin, kisses Vickie on the hand and then takes a honk of Zion’s horn before making his way down to the ring while the rest of the group exit.
Nick Stuart: I wish nothing but bad things on all of them.
Richard Parker: We’ll try to get an update on King Blueberry and Renia Raspberry later in the night, since the Tag Team Championships are supposed to be defended in the main event! But it is true, we have not heard if they’ve been medically cleared yet.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t trust a soul with Vickie and them lurking around. It might be best if they aren’t medically cleared this week. Also, is it The Hallmark Journey or the LOVE CONVOY?
Richard Parker: I think it’s both!
Gladhappy skips his way down the ramp and then slides into the ring.
Nick Stuart: And after…whatever that was, we’re going right into our opening contest between Mortimer Kjedelig and the debuting Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy.
Richard Parker: Yep.
Nick Stuart: Uh…anything more you want to add to that, partner?
Richard Parker: Nope.
The opening riffs of “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin begins and the masked man emerges from the curtain as the lights dim and the spotlights shine on the ramp.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer Kjedelig is coming off of a loss at UltraViolence to Tony Gamble, and that match had an awful stipulation for Kjedelig. He’s now a member of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate!
Richard Parker: Awful? He’s got Tony Gamble in his corner! And he probably even has a talking button!
Nick Stuart: Don’t you dare touch that button.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, from Horace, North Dakota…weighing in at 248 pounds…MOOOORTIIMEEEEERRRR KJEEEEEDEEEEEEELIIIIIIIIIG!
Mortimer Kjedelig begins making his way down the ramp, pointing to the fans in attendance. As he walks by, he pays no attention to the fans, he’s there to a job and his gait shows it. He slides into the ring under the bottom rope, step up to the middle turnbuckle and raise his hands in the air as the spotlight shines upon him. He hops off the turnbuckle and readies himself for the match as the music fades.
Ashley Barlow points to the Hallmarks and says some words before signaling for the bell.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy walks up to Mortimer Kjedelig and without warning fires a slap across his face.
Nick Stuart: He just slapped him?
Richard Parker: I have his info page here, Nick, and it looks like those are…love slaps.
Gladhappy lands another slap, this time to Mortimer’s shoulder. The crowd lets out another exaggerated response, and another, as Gladhappy continues to land slap after slap. Mortimer endures a few more, then shakes his head and shoves Tristan-Crispin back, sending the Nuzzle Lord onto his back. Gladhappy holds his head as he writhes on the mat.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer wasn’t feeling the love there!
Richard Parker: That’s why you’re the king, Nick.
Mortimer bends over and grabs Tristan-Crispin, then lifts him to his feet and shoves him into the corner. The ring microphones pick up “You want to slap, huh?” from Mortimer, who then unleashes a big slap across the chest.
Gladhappy screams and tries to grab his chest, but Mortimer moves his arm away and fires another slap.
Mortimer grabs Gladhappy’s head and walks out of the corner, then plants TCG with a bulldog. He drops for the cover and Ashley Barlow slides into position.
Nick Stuart: And a kickout by Gladhappy, but Mortimer Kjedelig is really putting the screws in early!
Richard Parker: Hm.
Nick Stuart: You all right?
Richard Parker: Yep. Never better.
Nick Stuart: Okay…
Mortimer rolls Gladhappy over and pops up only to drop down with an elbow drop to his back, and another. TCG rolls back onto his back and tries to recover, but Mortimer doesn’t give him any opportunity. The GAS’s latest member lifts Gladhappy up and lifts him over in a snap suplex.
Nick Stuart: Kjedelig has the size advantage, as it seems he usually does in his matches. He’s a large man and is using that size to his advantage.
Gladhappy pulls himself up using the ropes as Mortimer stalks his prey. He pushes him against the ropes, then levels TCG with a clothesline. Gladhappy pops right back up and Mortimer catches him and hits him with a body slam, then goes for another cover.
Another kickout from Gladhappy. The Hallmarks on the outside collectively slam on the apron, willing their cousin on to victory. TCG must hear them, because he gets to his knees and, as Mortimer walks over to continue his assault, he grabs Mortimer and rolls him into a small package, grabbing the tights for leverage.
Nick Stuart: Reversal! Quick pin!
Mortimer kicks out and tries to explode out for a clothesline, but Gladhappy ducks out of the way and grabs him from the back, flattening him with a Russian Leg Sweep. The Halls on the outside cheer as if they won the lottery.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy has turned the tide and is now looking to take advantage!
Richard Parker: Yep.
Nick Stuart: Hey, partner. You know this whole thing is a two man game. We both need to play off of each other. What’s bothering you?
Richard Parker: Nothing.
Gladhappy starts to attack Mortimer with kicks and stomps. Mortimer rolls onto his stomach to avoid the stomps, and Gladhappy responds with a splash onto the small of his back, causing the masked man to yell out in pain.
Nick Stuart: Look. We’re friends. We can be honest with each other. I don’t mind us hashing this out on the air. Is it something I did that upset you?
Richard Parker: Nope. Not anything you did.
Nick Stuart: Then what is it?
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy stands up and poses, a big smile on his face. The crowd boos him lustily as Mortimer tries to get to his feet.
Richard Parker: FINE! I’LL TELL YOU! IT’S THESE NAMES! THESE STUPID FREAKING NAMES!
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: I’ve been a good soldier for weeks, making my fun little Mortimer Get Kjiggywithit jokes over and over again, ignoring what a ridiculous name it was. And now Jonathan-Christopher is back, sporting his two names that should NOT be hyphenated. And that’s not all!
Gladhappy is on top of Mortimer as he gets to the ropes, wrapping him up in a rear choke. Barlow steps in to pull Tristan away due to the rope break.
Richard Parker: Now we have THIS GUY! What THE HELL is a Tristan-Crispin! It sounds like a wafer cookie you buy in England!
Nick Stuart: Well, currently he’s a wrestler who is arguing with referee Ashley Barlow. Ashley Barlow is a strong, capable referee, just evidence of how strong the non-wrestling talent is at PRIME.
Richard Parker: Thanks!
Nick Stuart: I wasn’t…never mind.
While Ashley and Tristan-Crispin yell at each other, a groggy Mortimer hangs on the ropes. Jonathan-Christopher Hall steps up onto the apron and grabs Mortimer’s head, then slams his neck across the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on!
Richard Parker: What?
Nick Stuart: You didn’t just see Jonathan-Christopher Hall cheat to help his cousin?
Richard Parker: No. I rant with my eyes closed. Everyone knows that. Anyway I’M NOT DONE RANTING!
Mortimer falls onto his back and Tristan-Crispin hits a leg drop across the throat of Mortimer, then goes for the cover.
Mortimer kicks out. Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy lifts Mortimer up and guides him into the corner. The Nuzzle Lord begins to slap Mortimer relentlessly in the corner.
Richard Parker: It’s not just them either. King Blueberry? Balaam? The Anglo Luchador? Hayes Hanlon?
Nick Stuart: What’s wrong with Hayes Hanlon?
Richard Parker: HAYES IS A LAST NAME!
Mortimer puts his hands up to shield himself, and Ashley Barlow counts to five as the slaps continue. She steps in between the wrestlers to push TCG away, and that’s when Kjedelig makes his move.
Nick Stuart: Low blow!
Richard Parker: By who? I’m still ranting!
Nick Stuart: Mortimer Kjedelig kicked Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy right in the groin!
Richard Parker: Do you realize what an insane sentence that is?
Tristan keels over as the Halls step up on the apron to protest. Mortimer rushes towards Jonathan-Christopher Hall and shoulder tackles him, sending him to the floor. As he stands there, jawing at Darin Zion, the fallen Hall and his wife, Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy recovers and sneaks up on Mortimer. He puts his head under Mortimer’s legs and stands up.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh! Gladhappy has him up for that Electric Chair Drop! He calls it Building Something Together!
Richard Parker: Kjetblue is about to come crashing down!
Nick Stuart: That was actually a good one.
Mortimer begins thrashing, punching the head of Tristan-Crispin. The Nuzzle Lord tries to heave the larger man off of his shoulders and into the move, but Mortimer turns in midair and grabs onto Tristan’s head.
Nick Stuart: Wow! That was an amazing display of athleticism from Mortimer Kjedelig! And both men are down!
Ashley Barlow checks on both men, then begins her count.
Tristan-Crispin begins stirring, moving towards the ropes. Mortimer rolls to his stomach, then gets to his knees.
Tristan-Crispin gets to his knees as well, then grabs Ashley Barlow’s arm and asks her for help getting up. She refuses, of course, but the more important thing is that she isn’t looking at Mortimer or the Halls.
Which is unfortunate, because Vickie swings her purse directly into Mortimer’s face.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on!
Richard Parker: What? I missed it!
Nick Stuart: Oh, were you still ranting with your eyes closed?
Richard Parker: No, I’m being intentionally obtuse.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Mortimer falls over, and Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy walks over and grabs his ankle, then sits down.
Nick Stuart: Head Over Heels! He’s got that seated ankle lock applied!
Mortimer screams and tries to escape, but there’s nowhere to go. After a few moments of pain, he finally taps.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: The…
There is a muffled microphone sound, and after a moment we realize why, as Vince’s microphone has transferred to…someone else.
Vickie Hall: THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH, THE COUSIN OF THE WONDERFUL JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL…TRISTAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY!
Nick Stuart: It took everyone at ringside, but Tristan-Crispin has won his PRIME debut match. And you have to feel for Mortimer – that’s two straight matches he’s gotten cheated out of!
Richard Parker: You have to imagine Tony Gamble won’t like that.
…I PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS
There are a few key indicators that a wrestler has “made it”, chief among them is that Angelica Brooks – noted combat sports journalist and lead interviewer for PRIME – brings you in for a chat. For anyone this should be a point of pride, a moment to be rewatched on Youtube for years to come, and one day it will be just that for Ms. Brooks’ guest. Perhaps if the landscape hadn’t been as chaotic these last few weeks there would be more cause to celebrate now.
This is not the first time that PRIME fans have seen Angie’s guest, though until recently her face had been hidden by a mask. Justine Calvin, formerly known as “Reina Raspberry”, stands already dressed in her ring gear with her half of the PRIME Tag Team Championship slung over her right shoulder. The “Fighting For Jonathan” tee shirt that she wears covers enough bandages to make the pharaohs of Egypt envious, each representing an injury suffered at the hands of Vickie Hall’s entourage two weeks ago.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here with one half of the PRIME Tag Team Champions, Justine Calvin. Justine, if I may, you’ve been competing here since July under a mask as Reina Raspberry. Why the change now?
Justine Calvin: It felt appropriate, I guess. I know I haven’t been here very long – only a few months so far, but the way things have been going lately it just seemed right. It’s fun to play dress-up and wear silly costumes…
Her next words are delivered directly into the camera, an aimed shot at her partner.
Justine Calvin: But sometimes you need to know when it’s time to grow up, and put the toys away.
Angelica Brooks: I notice that your partner isn’t out here tonight.
Justine Calvin: Nope.
The response is short, clipped; a warning to steer clear of this line of questioning. For anyone else that might be the case, but Angie didn’t get to where she is by lobbing softballs.
Angelica Brooks: There have been some rumors lately around issues within the Kings of Popsicles…
Justine scoffs at the name. It doesn’t go unnoticed.
Angelica Brooks: Given your reaction, is it safe to say that there is some merit to those rumors? Things seemed to get a little heated between Jared and yourself during ReVival 16. There was a fair amount of speculation that his challenge to Paxton Ray at the start of the show was something that caught even you by surprise.
Justine Calvin: With all due respect, there are some things that I’d like to keep private, but I think it’s fair to say that things are a little rocky right now, yeah. There’s been… Let’s call it a communication breakdown. Did I know he was going to do that? No. Did I think he might go off the rails and pull a stunt like that? In all honesty…
Justine Calvin: Yes.
Angelica Brooks: And what are your thoughts on Lindsay Troy’s response? As you know, Paxton Ray has had his contract with PRIME terminated. He has effectively been blacklisted within the industry.
Justine Calvin: Good! It’s what he deserves. Actually, no, it’s the least of what he deserves. My dad was a fighter. Boxed up and down the east coast for years. The one thing he always taught me was that if you have a problem with someone, if you need to settle an issue with your hands, then you do it face-to-face. You do it eye-to-eye. And if it happens inside the ring, then you make sure that everybody walks away from it. Because what happened at UltraViolence? That… you don’t…
She trails off, taking a moment to compose herself. Angie, ever the consummate pro, gives Justine a minute to bring her thoughts back under control before moving on.
Angelica Brooks: I certainly understand the sentiment, especially in light of what happened at the end of ReVival two weeks ago.
A visible shudder rockets up Justine’s spine.
Angelica Brooks: We’re not going to show the fans at home what happened, but both you and your partner were also the victims of a surprise attack, this time by the returning Love Convoy.
Justine Calvin: Yeah. That was… yeah.
Angelica Brooks: I understand that you’ve only recently been cleared to compete. Is that correct?
Justine simply nods.
Angelica Brooks: Which means that tonight you’ll be defending the Tag Team Championships against Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, the Masters of the Multiverse. What are your thoughts going into this match tonight?
Justine adjusts the championship belt that rests over her shoulder, wincing with the movement. Whatever the effects of the last show’s attacks were, they are clearly far from healed.
Justine Calvin: You know, we talk about this division being a meat grinder within the industry, and that’s true. Freeman and Schwartz had to earn this shot tonight against the same caliber talent that Jared and I have had to defend these titles against, so they know what it’s like to survive here. No one can take that away from them.
She takes a slow breath, though it’s unknown whether it’s to compose her nerves or to refocus after the pain of simply moving.
Justine Calvin: It’s cliche to say, but this championship means the world to me. It took me twenty years to get to this point, Angie. Two decades of sitting on the sidelines waiting for my turn, and now I’m here. I don’t have a trophy case full of championships at home. There’s just the one, and it’s this.
She taps the nameplate of her championship belt, the one that’s always bared her real name.
Justine Calvin: Lately it means so much more, do you know why? I had to survive against one of the best wrestlers of his generation to win it. We’ve been celebrating Jonathan Rhine lately, and for damn good reason. He was a two-time Universal Champion and a standard bearer in the company he spent most of his life representing. He gave his time and his energy to charity to help a little girl in her fight against cancer. And when that match ended, when it was our hands that were raised, do you know what he did? He congratulated me. Me, someone who he never had any reason to know, who until that night wouldn’t have been able to pick out of a lineup. He and I will never truly be peers, but he’s someone I now consider a friend, which makes this worth all the more to me.
Another breath, this one to try and stifle the emotion that’s starting to swell. Though she’d never admit it, at this moment she wishes she still had the mask. If nothing else it would at least help hide what she’s feeling.
Once she’s settled, she again focuses her attention directly at the camera.
Justine Calvin: So Schwartz… Freeman… I need you both to understand something. I applaud you for getting this far, because I know that the odds have been against you. You said that you weren’t going to let my partner “bully” you around, which is a fine sentiment, but it tells me you don’t know him. It tells me that you don’t know us. That you have no idea who we are, or what we’re about. Maybe if you paid more attention to things beyond desperately trying to get Senpai Scott to notice you, then you’d understand what you’re dealing with. A month ago I watched a friend’s career end in that ring. Two weeks ago? The same thing damn near happened to us.
There’s a tremble in her hand. It’s subtle, barely perceptible except to the trained eye, but to Justine it might as well be an earthquake. It’s joined by a rapidly accelerating pulse, as the memories coalesce into spreading panic.
Justine Calvin: This isn’t about coffee. This isn’t about some Cuisinart infomercial bullshit. Hell, it’s not even about these titles, not really. Tonight is about reminding everyone that what happens to my career is my decision to make. Not yours, not the Halls, and not the next Paxton fucking Ray to come down the pike! I’m sorry guys, I really am, but after what I’ve seen over the last month I don’t intend to let anybody dictate my destiny in this company. Except me.
With that she turns back towards Angie, and mutters a quick “thanks” that the microphone is barely able to pick up before turning and stepping out of frame.
BACK IN THE SADDLE
We cut to the backstage area, where we see Coral Avalon pacing around. Patchwork cloak and all. Not long from now, he’s about to enter the ring with a dangerous (dangereux?) French kid who subsists on anger and resentment.
So, you know, a lot on his mind.
In the background, fresh from catering, are Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips. No popcorn this time.
Coral Avalon: Okay, listen. Guys. Hear me out.
Joe Fontaine: We’re listening.
Coral Avalon: After some careful deliberation, I’ve decided that you two can stay on Jabber. It’s fine. LT will get mad and threaten you with nocturnal predators and fines, that’s just what she does, but that’s just her way of being friendly. Sometimes.
Sid Phillips: Actually, I’ve been consulting with Miss Daniels on anti-owl measures lately, and I will soon have my own measures in place to deal with them.
Coral Avalon: You don’t need to tell me what those measures are. Not only do I know what they are, I don’t really care.
Sid Phillips: Come on, be reasonable. Have you ever tried powerbombing an owl? They’re hard to catch. You have to be patient, lie in wait. Maybe use some bait first, like the Anglo Luchador. And then, when they swoop in, that’s when you strike. And, well, I’m looking for a deterrent, not a means of hunting an owl. So I was thinking, like… I don’t know. Some sort of Time Lord repellant exclusive only to Miss Daniels. I’m sure she has those.
Coral Avalon gawks at Sid like he just said a bunch of nonsense. Because he did.
Coral Avalon: You know, I did say I didn’t really care, but… what?
Sid Phillips: What, you don’t think she has one? We could go ask. I’m sure she’s not busy.
Coral Avalon: She has a match against Nate Colton tonight. It’s after mine, actually.
Sid Phillips: Oh. So what you’re saying is that I have to visit the Hyperbolic Time Chamber where she dwells before she gets into gladiatorial, powerbomb-based combat, and consult with her there, then.
Coral Avalon: I’d really rather you didn’t. She probably wouldn’t be receptive. Also, you’d probably age like fifty years trying to get in there, and you can’t powerbomb very many people when you’re 70.
Sid Phillips: Fine.
Joe Fontaine: I get the impression that you’re trying to tell us something. And I mean, I get it. I told everyone the big secret on Jabber that they teach you about emergency cheese in wrestling school, or that Dr. Ned Reform isn’t actually a real person and that’s why physics broke so hard when GREAT SCOTT beat him. By the way, where’s that guy been lately?
Coral Avalon: Either he’s being tried for crimes against physics after that last show, or he’s been spending all of his time in HOW lately.
Joe Fontaine: What’s that?
Coral Avalon: It’s a place that exists.
Joe Fontaine: Unlike Dr. Reform.
Coral Avalon: No, he does exist. It’s his doctorate that doesn’t.
Joe Fontaine: Oh. Well, now I have egg on my face. You know, like Jiles does to people.
Coral places his palm on his forehead, as it finally dawns on him that that’s the whole reason Cancer Jiles spits “egg yolk” in people’s faces, and that he feels monumentally stupid for not realizing it sooner. Or maybe it’s just that Joe is an idiot. One of the two. You know, nine out of ten viewers of PRIME Wrestling believe that Joe’s an idiot. The missing one either didn’t bother turning in a ballot, wrote “butts” 3500 times in the ballot, or among an extremely small but dedicated number are members of Joe Fontaine’s fan club.
Coral Avalon: Alright, well. I’ll just say the other thing I’m gonna say, then. I need you guys to stay here while I wrestle FLAMBERGE.
This actually gets Joe and Sid to stop being doofuses for five seconds and look confused at Coral’s request.
Joe Fontaine & Sid Phillips: What?
Coral holds up his hands.
Coral Avalon: Just for tonight. I don’t have any real beef with the kid, but it’s my first night in PRIME in fifteen years. And, well… I don’t know how well it’s going to go. I’m not rusty at wrestling or anything, but… this is a bigger crowd than I’m used to performing in front of. Odds are good I’m gonna be anxious the whole time trying to get back in the saddle. So just for tonight, stay back here, enjoy the catering, and let me do what I do best without distractions.
Joe and Sid exchange glances.
Joe Fontaine: Not exactly a big fan of this, you know.
Sid Phillips: Yeah. Been a while since we’ve done, you know, nothing. I haven’t even done a powerbomb to someone since UltraViolence. I’m getting withdrawals, man.
Coral Avalon: I know, I know. It’s just for tonight.
Joe Fontaine: I mean, hard to run it back against those berries when you’re not even in the ring to get back into contention. We don’t really want to do what those Love Convoy douchecanoes have been up to.
Coral Avalon: Yeah, I’d prefer you didn’t. Don’t need you doing any war crimes to get title shots.
Sid Phillips: Right. I’d rather commit powerbomb crimes. Well, crimes for powerbombs, not crimes against powerbombs.
Coral Avalon: At least that’s within the realm of professional wrestling. Chocoboarding isn’t. If those idiots try something like that again, then I’m gonna step in.
Sid Phillips: So… just for tonight?
Coral Avalon: Just for tonight.
Once again, the other two members of the Winds of Change – because Coral is a member of the team, too – exchange glances.
Joe Fontaine: Alright. You do this, and then we figure out how to run it back.
Joe puts out his fist. Sid does, too. Coral pauses, and then adds his own fist to the mix.
Coral Avalon: Alright. Let’s get this show on the road.
Coral walks off, and we head back to the ring for some tag team action.
2BECOME1 vs. eGG BANDITS
Nick Stuart: We’ve got a tag team battle coming up next, ladies and gentlemen! 2Become1 will meet The eGG Bandits for the opportunity to advance in the ranks of PRIME’s highly competitive tag team division!
Richard Parker: And let’s keep it highly competitive. We already got one Bandit bozo carrying PRIME championship gold. I shudder to think of all three of them getting there.
Nick Stuart: Of course, two weeks ago we bore witness to the shocking return of the 2Become1, consisting of the Halls, Darin Zion, and newcomer Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy, whose debut we saw just minutes ago. But can the team of Bobby Dean and Doozer stop this LOVE CONVOY before it even leaves the station?
“Banditstruck” hits the PA. The MGM Grand Garden Arena fills with the egg-scruciating sound of jeers as Bobby Dean and Doozer step through the curtain. The Deaner is all smiles while the invisible Bostonian glares angrily into the crowd. They pump arms side-by-side at the top of the ramp before making their way down to the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is a tag team match scheduled for one fall! Coming now to the ring, at a combined weight of six-hundred and thirty-three pounds… the team of “Beautiful” Bobby Dean and Doozer! Here are THE EEEEEGG BAAAANDIIITS!!
Nick Stuart: I’m sure Bobby and Dooze are thinking they have something to prove tonight, as not to be completely outshined by fellow Bandit and reigning Universal Champion, Cancer Jiles!
Richard Parker: This guys couldn’t outshine a shadow, Nick! The only shine coming off Bobby is the glare of off his oil-soaked gut, and as we all know, all light just passed through Doozer.
Nick Stuart: Be as it may, these two aren’t walking into the unknown tonight, having tangled with the likes of Hall and Zion before. Arguably, the Bandits were the ones that put them on hiatus.
Richard Parker: Hopefully they flip the script tonight. Although, this is Darin Zion and Jonathan-Christopher Hall we’re talking about.
“Wannabe” by the Spice Girls overtakes the PA system. The crowd reaction doesn’t change. Hand in hand, Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall emerge and briefly wave to the crowd, but can’t go long without taking their eyes off each other. Then Darin Zion, helmsmen of the LOVE CONVOY, sweeps in around them, twisting a steering wheel out ahead of him.
Vince Howard: And their opponents, at a combined weight of four-hundred and forty-five pounds, and accompanied to the ring by Vickie Hall… the team of “REAL LOVE” Darin Zion… Jonathan-Christopher Hall! The Hallmark Journey Proudly Presents: TWO… BECOME… OOONNNEEE!!
Richard Parker: Oh no… some idiot in the back handed Darin a mic…
“HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HOOONK! HONK! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HONK! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HONK!”
Richard Parker: Please stop.
“HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HONK! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!!”
Richard Parker: Please… PLEASE stop.
“HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HONK! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!!”
Richard Parker: God in Heaven, I will give you anything–ANYTHING–to end this right now.
“HOOONK!! HONK! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOO–”
The house cuts the mic, and the fans cheer with gratitude.
Richard Parker: Thank you, Lord…
Then Darin pulls out a megaphone.
Richard Parker: NO!
“HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HONK! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!!”
Richard Parker: STOP!
“HHHOOOOOOONNNNKK!!! HHOOOOONNKK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOONNNNNKK!!! HOOOOOOONK!! HOOONK!! HOOONK! HONK! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HHOOOOONNKK!!”
Richard Parker: STOP IT NOW!
“HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!! HHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNKKKKK!!!”
Richard Parker: HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE INSANE?! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!!
“HOOONK!! HONK! HONKHONKHONK HOOOOOOOONKK!! HHHHOOOONK!! HONK HONK HOOOOOON–”
Presiding official Elvis Nixon finally and mercifully confiscates the megaphone as a foreign object and tells REAL LOVE to stop screwing around. By now, 2Become1 occupy the ring, standing across from the Bandits. Both teams begin readying themselves for action.
Nick Stuart: Okay over there, partner?
Richard Parker: …I’ll live. But if that idiot tries anything like that again, I’m not sure he will.
Nick Stuart: Well you’ll be happy to know he’s the The Bandits’ problem now, as official Elvis Nixon gives the cue to the timekeeper to begin the match!
After a quick convo, Hall elects to start on behalf of 2Become1. But he freezes the moment he turns around and sees Bobby standing across the ring. Bobby doesn’t notice him for now; he’s preoccupied with scratching a rash in his navel. Jonathan-Christopher’s lip quivers. His face turns white. Traumatic memories of their last encounter flood his mind.
Nick Stuart: What’s happening right now? The bell is rung, but Jonathan-Christopher Hall is suddenly looking like he’s gotten cold feet!
Richard Parker: And Bobby doesn’t even seem aware the match has begun. Probably heard the bell and thought it was his microwave going off…
Hall twirls around and tags out to Zion. Darin briefly gives him a quizzical look before boldly stepping through the ropes. He whispers words of support into Hall’s ear as the Vow of Virtue steps out to the apron, where he’s immediately besieged by Vickie. Meanwhile, Bobby looks up to notice that his opponents have swapped out, and somehow digs up the motivation to get ready to rumble.
With a head full of steam, Darin charges across the ring and plants his shoulder square into the Deaner’s chest… only to be thrown back and sent into a roll as if he’d run himself into a brick wall. Bobby just stands there, hands on his wide hips, absolutely unphased.
Nick Stuart: Zion with the shoulder… but gets nothing!
Richard Parker: The Irritating Force meets the Insatiable Object.
Undeterred, Zion pops to his feet and takes another stab at it, this time with a bounce off the ropes for a dash of added momentum. His shoulder goes into Dean’s sternum, a bit more forcefully. But it’s the same result: Darin is sent sprawling backwards once again. Bobby wavers back maybe an inch or two, but otherwise stands his ground.
Zion pops to his feet again, studying the immobile blob who smirks back at him from across the ring. He looks appealing to his corner, but Jonathan-Christopher Hall is somewhere miles away right now. Undeterred, Zion backs himself into the corner, wipes his feet like a bull waiting to charge, bursts out into a full-on sprint, and–
…runs himself face-first into a fist at the end of Bobby’s outstretched arm.
Nick Stuart: Oof! The LOVE CONVOY runs into roadblock in the shape of the near three-hundred and seventy pound Bobby Dean!
Richard Parker: What’s the definition of insanity again? Repeating the same actions while expecting different results? That’s Zion right now.
Nick Stuart: Be as it may, Darin Zion’s zeal cannot be understated. But it might cost him in this moment, as Bobby finally puts his mass into motion and takes a bounce off the ropes!
Richard Parker: Must’ve got a whiff of pizza from that direction…
Nick Stuart: Dean, going for the LEGDROP–NO!! Zion rolls out of the way before his head can be crushed beneath the thunderous thigh of Bobby Dean!
Bobby’s face fills with pain as his massive undercarriage lands on nothing but canvas. Zion, still shaking out the cobwebs, scrambles up to his feet and capitalizes with a series of stiff kicks to Dean’s exposed chest while he still sits on the mat. Bobby doesn’t fall over, but lingers there stunned. Darin hits the ropes again, raising his fist and sharply bringing it back down to simulate a truck horn.
“HONK!! HOONNK!! HOOOOONK!!”
Richard Parker: I have a headache…
Nick Stuart: Zion off the ropes… Running Dropkick right to Dean’s face finally puts him on his back! Darin going for the cover!
Bobby doesn’t so much kick out as much as he just shoves Zion off of him, getting his greasy hand into Real Love’s face and squeezing in a half-assed eye rake in the process. Official Elvis Nixon attempts to admonish him, but Bobby is already gator-rolling himself over to the corner and instinctively reaching out his arm.
Though he can’t see it, Nixon hears hands slap, and presumes a tag has been made.
Nick Stuart: Tag made to Doozer as Bobby dips out!
Richard Parker: Don’t mention “dip” around that slob, Nick. We don’t need potato chips and sour cream all over the ring.
Zion is back up, but Dooze catches him with a boot to the gut, following through with a Gutwrench Suplex that almost sorta looks like a forward flip onto his back by Darin for those watching at home. Moments later, Zion magically levitates several feet off the mat more a moment before crashing down again face first when gravity suddenly takes hold.
Nick Stuart: Military Press by the Boston Bruiser! Now with the pin!
Zion kicks out!
Dooze doesn’t let Zion get far, stripping him off the mat and throwing him into the Bandits corner before tagging back out to Bobby. The Deaner (reluctantly) comes back through the ropes and proceeds to lay into Zion with a lazy, though still effective, avalanche splash, crushing REAL LOVE up against the turnbuckles!
Dean follows through by grabbing Darin by the head and performing perhaps the most impressive move in his repertoire that only exists there because it involves his only talent: falling.
Nick Stuart: Reverse STO by Bobby, who practically smothers Darin into a pin!
ZION GETS THE SHOULDER UP! I think he could use a tag out right about now!
Richard Parker: Yeah, except every time Jonathan-Christopher Hall sets his eyes on Bobby Dean, he looks like he’s about to blow chunks all over the place. Which is perfectly natural, JC. No judgment coming from here.
Satisfied with his gains, figurative and literal, Dean decides it’s time for another break as he tags out to Doozer. The Old Bull hits the mat and drops the rising Zion with a running shoulder block. DZ’s face tells the story of how many hits he’s taken, but Dooze diligently stays on him and stuffs his head under his arm.
Zion desperately pushes off the balls of his feet and attempts to bull into his corner, reaching out for a tag. He ALMOST makes it, but JC is too busy staring ashen-faced at the blubbery wonder out on the apron across from him. Doozer instead lays an elbow into his spine, readjusts the hold, and bulldogs REAL LOVE onto his face!
Nick Stuart: Bulldog by the Boston Bruiser, rolling Darin onto his back and hooking the leg!
KICKOUT by Darin Zion! But how much longer can he hold out?
Richard Parker: Don’t tell me all that HONK-ing has helped out his endurance…
Dooze grabs Zion by the hair as he hauls him up and leads him back to the corner, reaching for Bobby to the tag. This time, it’s Bobby zoning out: there actually is a pizza out there in the front row! Doozer calls for attention, but…
Zion’s elbow hits him in the ribs.
Darin dives for his corner, doing what DZ does best…
…and the sound snaps the Timid Tiger to attention, just in time to receive the tag.
Nick Stuart: THERE is the tag, and in comes Jonathan-Christopher Hall, who hits the ring like a house on fire!
Richard Parker: It only took the world’s most obnoxious noise in the history of recorded civilization to wake him up out of his trance!
Hall’s feet don’t stop moving as he drops Dooze with a lariat. And another. And another. Finally, JC scoops him up onto his shoulder and drops him into a Fireman’s Carry Gutbuster that nearly breaks the almost quinquagenarian in half!
Jonathan-Christopher is huffing with energy. He looks to his Amazing Life Partner outside, who is holding back tears and beaming with pride. He–they–are really doing it!
Richard Parker: Are you feeling the LOVE, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I think the LOVE CONVOY is moving at full speed, partner! And Jonathan-Christopher Hall’s LOVE must be strong, as he daring takes himself higher!
By Vickie’s bequest, Jonathan-Christopher begins to climb the turnbuckle, intent on proving his commitment to his Amazing Life Partner. Dooze is slowly coming to as he perches himself on the top rope…
And MOONSAULTS OFF!
Nick Stuart: HE’S ALL THAT!!
Only for Doozer to leap up and POWERSLAM HIM out of the air!
Richard Parker: Naah he ain’t.
Nick Stuart: Missed opportunity going for the high-angle moonsault! Now Doozer has the chance he needs to tag out to Bobby Dean!
Dean gingerly steps through the ropes as quick as a man precariously close to four-hundred pounds can and advances, but Nixon immediately stops him in his tracks. The official points to his hand, where he clearly has a foreign object.
Nick Stuart: Where did he get that slice of pizza?!
Richard Parker: I knew he smelled something earlier!
The ref orders him to get rid of it. Bobby, obviously, refuses. Elvis tries to snatch it out of his hand, but Dean’s grip doesn’t break. Nixon pulls one way. Bobby pulls the other. A tug-o-war battle commences over a triangle of pepperoni and mozz.
Finally, years of accumulated butter on the bulbous Bandit’s fingers cause his grip to fail, and–
Elvis Nixon gets a faceful of pizza!
Richard Parker: You’ve got to be kidding me…
Nick Stuart: Elvis Nixon just got pizza pie-faced! The official is BLIND!
Nixon tears at the mess of melted cheese and pepperoni grease on his face. Bobby takes a moment to grieve the lost slice before smiling sheepishly to his corner. On cue, the Old Bull is quickly back into the ring.
Nick Stuart: Doozer is right back in, now that official Elvis Nixon can’t see what’s happening!
Richard Parker: If he could see him to begin with…
Nick Stuart: Never put it past the eGG Bandits to jump on an opportunity when it presents itself!
Dooze peels Jonathan-Christopher up, only to put him back to the canvas with a ring-rumbling spinebuster! He rolls out of the way just as Bobby moves in and throws himself into the air, coming down across Hall’s chest with a grotesque body splash that leaves only the head and feet of the Forever Man visible!
Bobby doesn’t immediately get up. When it becomes apparent that he can’t on his own power, Doozer graciously lifts him up to his feet again. Then, the stomps ensue. JCH curls up and covers his face as the Bandits kick away at his prone body from both sides.
Nick Stuart: We’ve got a double-team situation now as the eGG Bandits bring on a bruising to the defenseless Jonathan-Christopher Hall!
Richard Parker: All while Elvis deals with his sticky situation! These idiots are getting away with highway robbery!
Finally, Doozer, arguably the competent half of this tandem, decides Hall has been sufficiently stomped to a pulp and orders Bobby to finish. They bend over to pick him back up… then freeze, the moment they spot someone on the apron.
Nick Stuart: Uh-oh… VICKIE HALL!
Vickie Hall is there, distraught and shrieking, half pleading and half demanding that these ruffians cease their assault. Doozer, oozing with chad energy, completely blows her off…
But Bobby’s face fills with hungry euphoria. His powdered cheese-coated index finger finds his bellybutton. His blueberry popsicle-stained tongue slips out and laps around his crumb-slathered lips in a hypnotic, slow-moving circle.
Vickie Hall just stares at him. Paralzyed in revulsion. In horror.
Richard Parker: Get out of there, Vickie! You don’t know what these animals are capable of!
Bobby slowly advances upon her, completely deaf to the calls to attention from Dooze, who stands waiting with Jonathan-Christopher in his arms.
Hall’s eyes flutter into focus. He sees Vickie. He sees Bobby. He sees the lasciviously licking tongue and the navel-probing finger. And then Jonathan-Christopher sees red. Passionate, heart-pounding red.
Doozer is caught off guard when JCH suddenly bursts back to life and shoves him off. The Boston Bruiser stumbles, and…
Nick Stuart: BAN HAMMER BY ZION, OUTTANOWHERE!!
Dooze and Darin roll over the top rope off the discus clothesline, and in a flash, the Vow of Virtue explodes into action. Dean is spun around and immediately beset by a furious barrage of rights and lefts from Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Richard Parker: Whoa! Watch out, Beauty, cause this stud has discovered BEAST MODE! Where is all this rage coming from all of a sudden?
Nick Stuart: Something has snapped inside of Jonathan-Christopher Hall! He is absolutely lighting up Bobby Dean!
POW! A right hook puts Bobby into a pirouet. Hall grabs him from behind and LIFTS…
Nick Stuart: Wait… IS HE…?
Bobby’s feet rise an INCH off the mat… before touching back down to the canvas a moment later.
Richard Parker: Nope! Sorry to disappoint you, Vickie, but as it turns out, your boy can’t get it up!
JCH’s face is a mask of agony while Bobby breathes a sigh of relief. Hall looks to the outside, at the tear-streaked face of his Amazing Life Partner. He plants his feet. He grits his teeth. He strains every muscle in his body. He lifts with all the insurmountable power of LOVE that a human being can possibly muster…
…and miraculously, Bobby is lifted up. Because…
Nick Stuart: ZION IS THERE!!
Richard Parker: What?! This is Darin-SANE!
Hall hoists Dean from beneath one arm while Zion takes up the weight on the other side. The partner’s lock eyes, and the TWO minds become ONE. Bobby’s face is full of panic as he continues rising up to the apex, and the two of them fall back to deposit him onto his head and back.
Nick Stuart: MY GOD, what a devastating double back suplex! Bobby Dean took three-hundred and seventy pounds right on the back of his HEAD and NECK!
Richard Parker: They’ll be feeling the shockwaves from that up in Reno here in a minute!
Elvis Nixon, wiping the last of the cheese from his eyes, blinks through the residue left behind and assesses the situation.
Bobby is on his back.
Jonathan-Christopher is draped over his chest.
Vickie is screaming.
He crawls over, and raises his hand to make the count.
Doozer rushes into the ring. But Zion can SEE HIM…
With age-defying speed, Dooze JUKES under REAL LOVE and lunges at the bodies on the mat…
…but the Old Bull doesn’t get there in time.
DING DING DING
“Wannabe” hits the PA. Zion looks to Jonathan-Christopher. JC looks to Vickie. Suddenly the realization sets in that their LOVE CONVOY has rolled its way to victory, and they break out in celebration. Doozer, meanwhile, holds his head in despair while looking down at the prone mass of Bobby.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winners of the match, by pinfall… JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL… DARIN ZION… TWOOOO BECOOOOOMMEE OOOOOOONNNNNEEEEE!!!
Nick Stuart: Hall and Zion eke out a hard-fought victory tonight! For a minute there, The Bandits appeared to have their number!
Richard Parker: You can never underestimate the power of LOVE, Nick?
Nick Stuart: How about good ol’ fashioned teamwork?
Richard Parker: Sure, that too…
Nick Stuart: The Universal Champion isn’t likely to be happy to learn that Bobby and Doozer have suffered a defeat tonight
Richard Parker: (oozing with sarcasm) Oh, gee… poor Cancer! How will he ever recover from this humiliation?
Nick Stuart: We need to take a quick commercial break, ladies and gentlemen, but don’t go away! Plenty of action still left this evening, so stay with us as yet another momentous ReVival continues!
COMMERCIAL: ACE NETWORK
We return from commercial break to see a chyron on the screen, reading “Earlier In The Day.” We are in the loading dock entrance of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the camera following Brandon Youngblood, bag over his shoulders, muscle tee and combat shorts, sporting an expression that can only be described as pissed. The camera tries to keep up, but has trouble keeping pace with the power walk of the Tower of Babel. Taking a wide angle, the cameraperson gets in front of Youngblood, causing the former Universal Champion to stop in his tracks. An impasse. Youngblood paces forward, tossing his bag to the concrete.
Brandon Youngblood: Now ain’t the time or the place…
But the cameraperson doesn’t move. Hands on his hips before scratching his goatee, the Diamond of the ReVival sneers.
Brandon Youngblood: So that’s what you want? Don’t send Angie or Mills or Tillier?
He spits to his side.
Brandon Youngblood: The Queen says she don’t like cops. And I ain’t calling a press conference. I’m shooting this message between your eyes, Lindsay. And everyone else? You listen close.
He stands up straight, his eyes focused and intense.
Brandon Youngblood: I ain’t in Chicago. When I walk into the MGM Grand, no matter HOW MANY dipshits and scumbags and bottom feeders keep saying red this and red that…this ain’t YOUR jungle. And this ain’t a goddamn warzone. But what we got going on right now? Shitbags taking the easy road. I’m sitting in my home watching a main event between two of the best in this sport with Hayes Hanlon and Jared Sykes, and then, we’re all transported back to 2003 and it’s Abu Ghraib with chocolate. Goddamn chocolate!
The thought has him frothing at the mouth.
Brandon Youngblood: If this is what the Queen wants while she’s pissing around in SHOOT Project and DEFIANCE, then fine. PRIME’s roster of people trying to just make it in the spirit of competition? They can’t trust you. They can’t trust you to keep the peace. They can’t trust the men who are supposed to run security to make sure someone isn’t going to jump them from behind and hurt them. Cripple them. Concuss them. End their careers.
Brandon Youngblood: If you ain’t gonna step up? Then I will. Larry Tact? I don’t like you. I don’t respect you. And I don’t fear you. But when you get in that ring tonight? You’ll fear me. If all we got in PRIME for justice is what we make for ourselves? You came for Craig’s career. You wanted to eulogize him and bury him under the goddamn Earth like you got the balls. He was gonna walk away. But you wanted to plant your flag on him. Yeah?
His face is up close to the camera lens.
Brandon Youngblood: Plant your flag on me. Try any of that shit against me, in that ring. See what happens. Craig is good. Me? I’ll eat your heart. Leave you lying. Put you in the goddamn ground. Watch. You hear me, Jiles? You hear me, Julien? You inbred Halls and that dipshit Zion? I’m coming for you. And there’s nothing, no fines, no threats, no security, no monarchs, NOTHING you can do to stop me.
And with that, we go elsewhere.
TO THE QUEEN AND KING
We cut backstage to see Mark the Backstage Attendant walking quickly. He passes a few Enemigos, who give him a curious glance at his brisk gait, before approaching his target: Co-Head of Security Wade Elliott. The Bad Dog does his best to navigate his smartphone in the hall, grumbling to himself.
Backstage Attendant Mark: Excuse me, m-mister Elliott, sir?
Wade Elliott: (looking up from his device) God-damn Wordle. Had a good streak goin’, too. What’s goin’ on, son?
Mark only offers a puzzled look, then after deciding to move right on past the ‘Bama Bruiser’s word-game woes, offers a piece of paper to Elliott.
Backstage Attendant Mark: I found this at one of the parking lot doors. It was taped to the employee entrance.
Wade takes the paper, squinting down his nose to and reading aloud.
Wade Elliott: “To the Queen and King. I hope you enjoyed your two week reign.” Hmm…signed “B.B.”
The Southern Sparkplug crumples the paper in his hand, curling his lip.
Backstage Attendant Mark: Do you know who it could be from?
Wade Elliott: Got a thought or two.
Backstage Attendant Mark: Should we tell Ms. Troy?
Wade Elliott: I’ll handle that. Thanks fer gettin’ this to me.
He gives Mark a quick pat on the shoulder before turning away, pulling his radio from his belt and clicking to speak.
Wade Elliott: Dam. Keep yer head on a swivel an’ git the rest on alert. The situation Lindsay told us ‘bout is happenin’. An’ gimme a holler if ya find ‘im. Might wanna git my hands dirty.
KNIGHTINGALE SINGS, COMMUNISM FLINGS
The scene shifts backstage to one of the many corridors and hallways inside the MGM Grand. Mortimer (formerly Kjedelig) Knightingale is walking and is stopped by a crew member sporting a PRIME polo. He looks like he is in his late twenties and has a moustache making him look like a seventies heartthrob or an actor featured in such films as “Disco Cheerleaders and Ass Eaters.” There is something skeevy about this gentleman, something shifty about him.
PRIME Crew Member: Mister Knightingale, I have a message from Mister Gamble. He says he wants to give you notes on how you can improve your in-ring technique since you represent him in the squared circle.
Mortimer Knightingale: That pipsqueak can’t come down from his ivory fuckin’ tower to get me? What, his majesty’s manicured hands can’t text me? Who the fuck are you to come get ME?
PRIME Crew Member: I’m just doing what I was—-
Mortimer Knightingale: I busted my ass out there tonight and that scrawny prick is summonin’ me like I’m some fuckin’ peasant? You tell him I’ll see him after the fuckin’ show, capice?
PRIME Crew Member: Yes, sir.
The PRIME Crew Member walks off and Mortimer Knightingale continues down the hallway, his face getting redder and redder with each step, he is outright fuming. From the other end of the hallway, the hulking silhouette of a man moves towards Mortimer. He turns and moves towards the form, so wrapped up in his thoughts he pays it no mind. The form is none other than the seven foot plus tall Ivan Stanislav, who takes up a considerable amount of space in the cramped hallway. Stanislav either doesn’t care about Mortimer, or doesn’t even pay him any attention, and makes no attempt to shift to give him room. Nor does Knightingale. The duo collide in the tight corridor, and Stanislav continues to walk. That’s not good enough for Mortimer, who spins around and calls down the hallway.
Mortimer Knightingale: OH! The fuck is your problem?
Stanislav stops in his tracks and doesn’t turn around. It’s as if he’s processing that someone actually addressed him in such a way. After about five seconds, The Russian Bear turns around slowly with his brows furrowed in a mix of confusion and frustration.
Ivan Stanislav: Surely you are not speaking to me?
Ivan takes one step towards Mortimer, closing the distance slightly. Mortimer now has the majority of his attention, and is rapidly gaining more of it.
Mortimer Knightingale: The name’s not “Shirley,” fuckbag. The name’s Mortimer. Mortimer Knightingale.
Stanislav tilts his head to the side, instead of outward rage, he stares down at Mortimer like a Bear would a flopping trout.
Ivan Stanislav: Knightingale? I have not heard of you, little bird, and if you keep singing that garish tune, you might get stuffed.
Mortimer Knightingale: Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho….Motherfucker! You’re lucky I don’t shove a mazel tov cocktail right up your red ass! Now back the fuck up!
Alexei Ruslan walks with a bag of popcorn in his hands. He rounds the corner, trying to catch up to his larger comrade. He stares down the hallway and squeals and hits the floor, his hat flying off his head and floating in the air for a moment, before falling back down upon his head as he squats.
Above him, a Knightingale-sized figure flies overhead and crashes into the plaster wall behind Ruslan and sends a torrent of dust, particle board, and debris exploding out all around him. The heavy footfalls of Ivan Stanislav approach as Alexei stands up slowly and looks back at the hole in the wall. Stanislav leans forward and peers into the cavernous hole. He pays Ruslan no mind.
Ivan Stanislav: That is Molotov, you moron. Named after comrade Vyacheslav Molotov, Hero of Socialist Labor and one of the greatest foreign ministers Russia ever had!
Ruslan slowly stands up, clutching the popcorn to his chest.
Alexei Ruslan: Who was that, Ivan?
Ivan Stanislav: Someone with a “fowl” mouth.
The joke flies over Ruslan’s head, but Ivan grins wide.
Ivan Stanislav: Ah, you found the popcorn. Excellent!
With that, Ivan tosses some popcorn into his maw and the two of them walk away, leaving the human-sized hole in the wall.
FLAMBERGE vs. CORAL AVALON
Vince Howard: The following match is scheduled for ONE FALL!
A buzz fill the arena.
Nick Stuart: This match is going to be a fun one for sure.
Richard Parker: As long as Brandon Youngblood stays away from FLAMBERGE.
Nick Stuart: Well, FLAMBERGE has an uncanny ability to get under people’s skin. He will be going up against Coral Avalon, as he looks to conquer PRIME.
Richard Parker: Meh.
In the ring, Vince Howard continues his introductions.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, standing at six feet tall and weighing in at two-hundred-and-six-pounds, he hails from STRASBOURG, FRANCE! FLAMBERGE!
“Dangereux” by IAM plays to a strong, negative reaction. He walks briskly to the ring, stone-faced, and ignores the fans around him as he is in the zone. He walks around the ring before hopping onto the ring apron and slipping through the ropes.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE has been impressive in his PRIME run thus far, with every match being closely-contested regardless if he wins or loses.
Richard Parker: All of his losses have been travesties.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that is true.
Richard Parker: And I can’t wait for him to knock out Brandon Youngblood.
Nick Stuart: Want to say that to his face?
Richard Parker: …no.
Back in the ring, Vince Howard continues his introductions.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… standing at six feet tall, weighing in at two-hundred-and-fourteen-pounds… he hails from SEATTLE, WASHINGTON! HE IS THE CROWNLESS KING! CORAL! AVALON!
The haunting opening notes of “Real Me” plays. A single light shines through the billowing fog at the entryway, from behind a single figure standing at the center of the stage, the light and the fog shrouding him in silhouette. He wears a patchwork fur cloak, with the right shoulder having the faux head of a lion stitched to it and the left shoulder spiked with claws and fangs.
The moment the guitars hit, the lights come back on, and there standing at the top of the stage is the Crownless King himself. Coral Avalon makes his way down to the ring, hopping up onto the apron, and stepping inside. Once in, he turns to the side of the ring with the hard camera. After standing for a few moments, he brings his fists together, sticking out his ring and pinkie fingers.
Nick Stuart: And Avalon making his way out to the ring without Sid Phillips or Joe Fontaine, by his request.
Richard Parker: Dumb. Always come with backup!
Nick Stuart: And what backup do you have when you walk around Vegas?
Richard Parker: My two fists!
Nick Stuart: HA! Okay.
Jimmy Turnbull looks at both men, provides his final set of instructions, and then signals for the start of the match.
FLAMBO leans in the corner at the sound of the bell ringing as Coral moves to the center of the ring.
Richard Parker: Well, this is a strategy.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE not moving as he is legit leaning in the corner and doesn’t seem to be in a hurry in the least bit.
Richard Parker: If you were FLAMBERGE, would you rush anything? This man is the personification of cool.
Nick Stuart: Was personification your vocab word of the day on the toilet paper I got you?
Richard Parker: You promised we would never talk about that.
Jimmy Turnbull points at FLAMBERGE to exit the ring, but he simply shakes his head. Coral begins to move towards FLAMBO, but FLAMBO steps in between the ropes and brushes Coral away, looking at Turnbull to do his job.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE not interested in starting this match?
Richard Parker: Have you seen Coral Avalon? He should be checked out by a psychiatrist!
Nick Stuart: What’s wrong with Coral Avalon?
Richard Parker: He wears a fur cloak, Nick. Fur cloak.
Turnbull orders Coral away and FLAMBERGE hesitantly steps back into the ring, shooting Coral a look that screams ‘bitch, please’. FLAMBERGE walks against the side of the ring, his eyes focused upon Coral who is itching for the match to actually start. FLAMBERGE posts himself up in another corner and leans into the corner, a knowing smile on his face.
Richard Parker: For a kid so young, he’s brilliant.
Nick Stuart: He also makes people want to smack them across the face quite a bit.
Richard Parker: Also true.
Nick Stuart: I think Brandon Youngblood is at the top of that list.
Richard Parker: True.
FLAMBERGE inches out of the corner and Coral moves towards him only for FLAMBERGE to drop to the mat and roll out under the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: The fans here in Las Vegas sharing their thoughts of FLAMBERGE’s actions here tonight.
Richard Parker: This is why I can’t wait for us to get on the road. These fans are so entitled.
Nick Stuart: Entitled?! FLAMBERGE is entitled.
Richard Parker: False.
FLAMBERGE walks around the ring while Coral Avalon locks his eyes on him as Turnbull orders FLAMBERGE back into the ring. He holds up a finger — ‘one minute’ — as he puts his hands on his hips and walks around the ring, a smirk on his face. He then walks up the ring steps and begins to re-enter the ring only for Coral Avalon to rush at him. FLAMBERGE quickly hops off the ring apron and holds his hands up.
Richard Parker: I wish more people could be this smart.
Nick Stuart: When Coral Avalon gets his hands on FLAMBERGE, this crowd is going to explode.
Richard Parker: Will they though? Will they?
FLAMBERGE tells Turnbull to control Avalon. He makes his way to the ring steps again and steps onto the ring apron. He begins to re-enter the ring, pointing his finger at Avalon. FLAMBERGE circles around the ring and as Avalon rushes at him, he rolls out of the ring only for Avalon to follow after him, grab him by the back of the head and slam FLAMBERGE’s head into the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Told you.
Richard Parker: Okay, fair enough.
FLAMBERGE stumbles away from The Crownless King only for Avalon to grab him by the shoulder and rolls him back into the ring. Avalon wastes no time as he slides under the bottom rope and catches a rising FLAMBERGE with a knife-edge chop that causes the young superstar to howl in pain. Coral then plants his knee into FLAMBERGE’s midsection before sending his head snapping backwards with a stiff knee strike to the face.
Nick Stuart: And Avalon starting to get some offense in on FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: This is not deserved in the LEAST bit!
Nick Stuart: Agree to disagree. Meanwhile, Avalon grabbing FLAMBERGE off of the mat, whips him into the ropes, goes for a dropkick, but FLAMBERGE saw it coming and wrapped his arms around the top rope. Avalon getting back up to his feet and FLAMBERGE connects with a scissor kick to the back of Avalon’s neck and head!
Richard Parker: Yeah, baby! Get it going, FLAMBO!
FLAMBERGE sits on the mat, slamming his forearm across his chest, as he easily gets back up to his feet and grabs the back of Avalon’s skull, pulls him up off the mat, and slams his knee into The Crownless King’s face. Avalon stumbles back into the ropes as FLAMBO saunters over and connects with a knife-edge chop across Coral’s chest. He then yanks Avalon off of the ropes and connects with a high-angle hip toss. Avalon sits up, his back arching, and FLAMBERGE decides to add to it with a stiff running kick to the spine of Coral.
Richard Parker: Well, FLAMBERGE out here giving back adjustments and realignments to his opponents. Such a good guy.
Nick Stuart: That is the complete opposite of what just happened.
Richard Parker: Are you sure? See, watch.Now FLAMBERGE is helping Avalon back up to his feet and, oh so sweet! He just smacked away the fly that landed on Avalon’s jaw.
Nick Stuart: That was a forearm strike across Coral’s face from FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: TO-MAY-TO, TO-MAH-TO.
Coral stumbles into the nearby corner after the forearm smash as FLAMBERGE lines him up for a front kick to the chest. Avalon collapses in the corner as FLAMBERGE moves to the opposite corner, sizes Coral up once again and runs full speed only to slam his knee into the turnbuckle as Avalon rolls under the bottom rope. FLAMBO grabs his knee in pain as he hops around while The Crownless King hops up on the ring apron and springboards off the top turnbuckle for a flying forearm into the back of FLAMBERGE’s skull.
Richard Parker: How rude!
Nick Stuart: Chill out Stephanie Tanner. Avalon managing to get a bit of momentum in his favor there as FLAMBERGE was a bit too cool for school there.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE only applies the correct amount of cool. Never too much or too little!
Nick Stuart: Well, now Coral Avalon is being the nice opponent by helping FLAMBERGE up to his feet, whips him into the ropes, and does his own back adjustment to FLAMBERGE.
Richard Parker: That was a pendulum backbreaker, not the same thing.
FLAMBERGE pushes himself back up to his feet, clutching his back in the process, and is met with a spinning back elbow for his troubles. Coral grabs FLAMBERGE’s wrist and goes to whip him into the ropes, but FLAMBERGE connects with a judo throw. Avalon lands hard on the mat, pushes back up to his feet, and is met with a leg kick to his right calf. FLAMBERGE then grabs Avalon by the wrist and whips him into the corner with Avalon crashing chest first. He stumbles backwards into FLAMBERGE putting him into a facelock and connects with a reverse suplex. Avalon chest bounces off the mat and sits up on his knees only for FLAMBERGE to connect with a stiff front kick to the chest.
Nick Stuart: Well, Avalon’s chest is definitely beaten and battered.
Richard Parker: Love the creative and inventive offense that FLAMBERGE manages to pull off. Just simply amazing.
Nick Stuart: Please, stop drooling.
Richard Parker: How about FLAMBERGE peeling Avalon off of the mat, whipping him into the ropes and–
Nick Stuart: Finish it.
Richard Parker: No.
Nick Stuart: Fine. Avalon slides through the legs of FLAMBERGE and connects with a German Suplex on FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: …hate you.
Avalon makes his way back up to his feet, bounces off the ropes, and connects with a leaping double knee across the midsection of FLAMBERGE! Avalon rolls through, bounces back up to his feet, and then springboards off the middle rope into a moonsault, with him hooking FLAMBERGE’s leg in the process.
Turnbull looks at Avalon and confirms the two-count. Coral nods his head, reaches down to grab the back of FLAMBERGE’s head, and is then rolled into a small package.
Avalon manages to kick out as both men scramble to their feet. FLAMBERGE goes for a spinning back kick, but Avalon manages to catch it and flips FLAMBERGE backwards, who lands on his feet. Avalon goes for a snap kick to FLAMBERGE’s chest, but FLAMBERGE manages to catch it and takes out The Crownless King’s other leg from him, sending him to the mat. FLAMBERGE drills the point of his right foot into Avalon’s right thigh repeatedly before pushing Avalon’s leg up over his head and Coral uses the momentum to get back up to his feet before connecting with leaping knee strike to FLAMBERGE’s face.
Richard Parker: Back and forth!
Nick Stuart: And they are not nearly done as FLAMBERGE drops to one knee, Avalon bounces off the ropes and he goes for another knee strike, but FLAMBERGE manages to duck under it. He then spins around, wraps his left arm around Coral’s midsection, and drills his knees into the back of Avalon’s legs.
Richard Parker: Get him FLAMBERGE!
Nick Stuart: Calm down. FLAMBERGE with a German Suplex of his own — but Avalon manages to land on his feet and dropkicks FLAMBERGE in the back, who stumbles backwards into the ropes and then Avalon connects with a STIFF forearm to the back of FLAMBERGE’s neck.
Richard Parker: Nooooooooooooooo!
FLAMBERGE stumbles forward again as Avalon runs towards the ropes, leaps off the middle rope, and goes for a flying kick, but FLAMBO manages to duck underneath it. Avalon lands on the mat and as he gets back up to his feet, FLAMBERGE connects with a double leg takedown into a flurry of forearms and elbow strikes that Avalon tries his best to block. He is unsuccessful though as FLAMBO unleashes fury upon him.
Richard Parker: Ha ha!
Nick Stuart: You sound like a poorly put together villain in a campy superhero show.
Richard Parker: Okay, no need to be mean.
Nick Stuart: Whatever. FLAMBERGE back up to his feet and instead of raining down elbows and forearms, he is now stomping away at Avalon! He now pulls Avalon off of the mat, whips him into the ropes, and connects with a roundhouse kick!
Avalon, looks dazed as FLAMBERGE moves to the corner and watches him fight to his feet. As Coral makes his way up to his feet, FLAMBERGE connects with a spinning heel kick to Avalon’s midsection, doubling him over. FLAMBERGE then goes for an axe kick, but Avalon moves out of the way at the last possible second.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE looking to put Avalon away for good, but Avalon managing to get out of the way in the nick of time.
Richard Parker: Cheater.
Nick Stuart: Avalon bounces off the ropes… YAKUZA KICK! RHONOGOMYNIAD!
Richard Parker: First, boo. Second, that’s a mouthful.
Nick Stuart: Avalon with the first of the King’s Armaments, but he is not going for the pin here. Instead, he is climbing the nearby turnbuckle.
Richard Parker: Dumb.
Richard Parker, while crass, isn’t wrong as Avalon goes for a top rope diving double stomp and FLAMBERGE manages to roll out of the way at the last second. Avalon rolls through it and as he is getting back up, FLAMBERGE connects with a thumb to Avalon’s eye.
Nick Stuart: What a cheating PRAT!
Richard Parker: Clearly, there was some dry skin near his eye. You don’t want that to get in Avalon’s eye, do you?
FLAMBERGE quickly pounces on Avalon while Turnbull admonishes him and puts him in a guillotine choke.
Richard Parker: It is OVER!
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE cheats and then puts in the Marie Antoinette on Avalon! Coral trying to fight out of it, but FLAMBERGE wraps his legs around Avalon’s torso, collapsing them both onto the mat.
Avalon tries to grit his way through it, but knows he is stuck as he taps out.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner… FLAMBERGE!
Nick Stuart: And the fans letting it be known their thoughts on FLAMBERGE cheating to get to his victory here.
Richard Parker: Oh come off it. FLAMBERGE was just being helpful. Avalon had this match won and decided to go for a second finishing move. That is unsportsmanlike if you ask me.
Nick Stuart: Your ability to twist anything to fit your viewpoint is absolutely deplorable.
Richard Parker: Why, thank you.
Nick Stuart: You clearly haven’t gotten to that word on your toilet paper roll.
FLAMBERGE gets back up to his feet and Turnbull tries to raise his hand in victory, but FLAMBERGE pulls away from him and raises his own arms in victory.
Coral Avalon lies on the mat, grabbing his throat, disappointed in the loss.
FLAMBERGE exits the ring and waves off the fans who have their own opinions of him.
Nick Stuart: We still have a STACKED card to come, including the Intense Title being defended and in our main event, the Tag Team Champions will be defending their titles against Masters of the Multiverse B-Team! First though, this commercial break.
Richard Parker: Aren’t we on a streaming platform?
Nick ignores Richard as we fade to a commercial.
A STAR IS BORN
Nick Stuart: Up next a word from our UNIVERSAL Champion, Cancer Jiles.
Richard Parker: Can’t wait.
The lights dim.
A chill moves through the air.
Before any music can play, and any pomp can circumstance, Dametreyus, Timo Bolamba, Enemigos IV and V, and an unknown, large, chisel jawed, scary looking man who if one had to guess goes by the name of Laser, all come walking out to make sure the coast is clear. Laser is wearing a blue tracksuit while Timo is in his referee gear and Dam and the Enemigos are in their security clothes.
Richard Parker: This guy really thinks he’s the damn President!
Nick Stuart: I’m being told the unknown man that is a part of Jiles’ security detail goes by the name Laser, and he once patrolled the decks of the USS Octane. He also has his pilot’s license.
Without warning or pause the opening guitar riff of “I am the COOL” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins hits. Bobby the Bandit and Doozer the Abuser join the security detail out on the entrance ramp.
…I’m the one your momma warned you about…
As does the Beltkeeper herself, The Queen of the Ring, Lady Troy.
When you see I’ll leave you no doubt
I’m the COOLEST man to walk this Earth
I’ve been the COOLEST since the day of my birth
Pyros erupt that melt the ceiling inside the MGM Grand. They are so intense and bright you can see the look of utter disdain on the security detail’s collective face among the dark. Mom, of course, gets caught rolling her eyes. Doozer is picking his nose, and Bobby roasts a marshmallow.
I AM THE COOL
Another, somehow bigger, hotter, louder, volley of pyrotechnics scorches the ceiling. Out from back, to an unholy amount of BOO’ING, steps the PRIME UNIVERSAL CHAMPION. Hair, T-shades, electric blue tracksuit, all in play.
Richard Parker: I would have shit right here on the desk if Lindsay and the PRIME contingent matched Jiles.
Nick Stuart: Same.
Richard Parker: How the hell is this cretin the UNIVERSAL Champion? Someone make it make sense.
There’s a brief interaction between Lady Troy and Jiles where it appears as if he asks her for the belt, but as Lindsay reluctantly goes to hand it to him he waves her off and tells her to carry it for him instead.
There is a gasp.
An audible one.
Troy’s eyes go wide and her nostrils flare, but Jiles quickly spins on a heel and bebops his way down the ramp before Dam can correct his tone. Once the COOLYPIAN does get down to the ring the security detail surrounds the outside. Bobby, Dooze, Mom, and the proud champion all stand inside.
After all these years, the family is finally together.
The BOOs are near deafening inside the MGM Grand. If the whole scene and moment feel surreal, it’s because it is.
Nick Stuart: This is surreal!
Richard Parker: I count NINE people down here! NINE!
The COOLympian this time around accepts his UNIVERSAL Championship. He holds it high above his head, his smile wide, his mission accomplished.
The vitriol really crank up, and could rattle the dead.
Jiles manifests a microphone, and turns his attention to Lady Troy.
Jiles: I could have had you strap it around my waist like you did for Brandon. Remember? I was laying down in the ring still; you were blushing. I’m just saying it could be worse.
The Queen looks at her Champion wondering when in fact he will be done.
Jiles: Hello PRIME! Eggknowledge me!
Jiles: HA! You crumbs don’t know just how lucky you are, do you? Not only did I stay, but I even came all the way down here from COOLYMPUS to entertain you; to show you what a true and worthy and just CHAMPION looks like.
Jiles: You should be crying tears of joy, and sobbing thank you at my feet for being so kind. But no, you are PRIMEates. Of course your brains are too small to comprehend.
Jiles: Silly, little, animal brains. Oh well. Go on. Boo. I guess you can lead a horse to slaughter… oh wait, I mean water.
Jiles: Nevermind. Truth be told, I really don’t even know what to say to you.
An inquisitive Maestro of COOL taps the mic against his head.
Jiles: Told you so? Now you can’t leave? I’m feeling much better a month after my UltraViolent bloodbath? I’m looking forward to adding to my MAIN EVENT tally? The next time Hayes Hanlon wants to look up at me he better have his shoe shine kit?
Bobby snorts. Dooze pats him on the back. The Champ holds out a finger as if to signal he has thought of something better.
Jiles: I know! I know what to say to you. I’ll even promise it will be something truthful, and something earnest. I will not lie. Scout’s honor.
A suspenseful pause.
Jiles: Are you ready?
Another pause, to build off of the last one.
Jiles: I’m proud to carry the distinction of being your Champion.
Jiles: Yeah, you got me there!
If only for a moment all of the pressure, and all of the tension is briefly let out. Everyone smiles. Everyone laughs. But only for a small, miniscule moment. If you blinked during said moment you would have missed out on the gas.
Jiles: You shitbag crumb cowards.
Like I said, if only for a moment.
Jiles: Your homage, forced or not, will be vast and never ending. I am the CHAMPION of PRIME. I am number one by definition. I have a fleet of people who like it or not would jump in front of a glue stick for me, and there isn’t an apt contender in the back who can change that fact.
Jiles: Face it. Belly up. Buy a Snickers. I’m not going anywhere any time soon.
Lady Troy reassuringly shakes her head no.
Jiles: I even got my own perch right up there above all of you.
The UNIVERSAL Champion points to COOLYMPUS, which is what we’re calling his skybox this week. The camera then pans up to the box, and while it should be empty… it is not. Sitting there, to an absolutely rousing ovation — like holy shit — is Nova.
The Pillar of PRIME yawns, as if he had just woken from a deep slumber. When he opens his eyes the lights are bright, but luckily for him there’s a spare set of T-shades on an end table next to his chair.
Jiles: Don’t even think about it you—
Nova puts on the spare set, and looks down at the ring to see the commotion. He nonchalantly waves to Lindsay and Dam. Wade Elliott, the Risen Star’s dutiful custodian, steps into view behind him and flips Jiles the bird.
Jiles: Hey you take them off! MOM! He’s wearing my—
The Queen steps in to make things right.
Lindsay Troy: Well. So he is. Would you look at that.
She shields her hand over her eyes, making a show of looking up at The Risen Star. Nova gives her a thumbs up.
Lindsay Troy: I have an idea. Maybe Caes can give them back to you. How about on the next ReVival, while you’re defending the Universal Championship against him.
The crowd goes full berserk. So does Jiles, just not in the enthusiastic way. Up in the chamber of COOLYMPUS, Nova props his feet up on the table in front of his cushy nap-time chair and shuffles a cigarette out of his pack.
Jiles: Oh, no you don’t…
The Champ looks around at his entourage in desperation. Nova holds up his lighter.
Jiles: THERE’S NO SMOKING IN COOLYMPUS!!
Indeed there are several “No Smoking” placards hung around the walls of the skybox. Nova must’ve accidentally overlooked them. Jiles looks over to Troy in a panic.
Jiles: Isn’t there a municipal ordinance that also covers this?! Shouldn’t someone be issuing a fine or something?!
Troy smirks and shrugs her shoulders. Up in COOLYMPUS, Nova lights up, takes a drag, and blows a cloud of smoke into the air, still rocking his bonus pair of the COOLympian’s trademark shades. Without another word, Jiles storms out of the ring, his triumphant mockery of the PRIME Faithful spoiled by the Starchild’s intrusion. The eGG Bandits follow suit.
Nova raises a walkie-talkie to his mouth and his voice can be heard through the walkie attached to Dam’s hip.
Nova: Meet up in the locker room for Yahtzee, over.
Dam unclips his walkie to respond.
Dametreyus: Roger, boss. Be there in five, over.
The camera cuts to backstage as Nova and Wade disappear from view in the skybox.
SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT
Kapow! We cut to the interview area backstage, where our good friends Simon Tillier and Nate Colton are standing by. Simon, as always, is wearing his suit that was definitely purchased by himself and not his mother. Colton is in his ring gear, although he has a t-shirt underneath his ring jacket. Glad to see he’s varying his wardrobe, although the PRIME logo still peeks through.
Simon Tillier: Good evening, fans! I’m here with Nate Colton, who has been on an absolute tear for the last few months! Nate, you’ve racked up some huge wins lately, including that absolute barnburner against FLAMBERGE at UltraViolence.
Nate Colton: Thanks, Simon. It’s been a wild ride, that’s for sure. But I’m just getting started.
Simon Tillier: I believe it. Tonight you’ll be in the ring against Anna Daniels. I know you’re looking to make a statement in that match, but it looks like you’re making a fashion statement already…
Simon points to Nate’s shirt, causing Colton to roll his eyes.
Nate Colton: I was hoping you wouldn’t notice that.
He undoes a few snaps of his jacket and reveals the shirt…which does not feature the PRIME logo, as it turns out, but a very similar one that reads “NEW ERA.”
Nate Colton: I thought I had packed a PRIME shirt in my bag; looks like I got this one by mistake.
Simon Tillier: I suppose nobody can call you a coward, anyway.
Nate Colton: Damn right.
Simon Tillier: How are you feeling heading into tonight’s match? Daniels is coming off a hard-fought loss at UltraViolence, but they’ve got a lot of wins to their credit.
Nate Colton: Oh, I know it. You go back and watch their matches in this company, you’re gonna see someone who never backs down from anyone. Anna’s got guts that matches their skill, and I respect the hell out of that. Whatever else might be true, it’s a fact that she’ll try to take my head off if I give her half a chance.
Nate turns to the camera, his face sporting a bit of a cocky grin. The rush of adrenaline, the excitement of the upcoming bout…it’s all very clear on his face.
Nate Colton: Anna, you may talk about other worlds or whatever. You’re welcome to ‘em. But when we step between those ropes? That’s my world. It ain’t much, but it’s all I’ve ever wanted. I ain’t ready to give it up either, so you can expect a fight tonight…and at the end, you can expect to see me with my hand raised.
Simon Tillier: Bold words, Mister Colton; we’ll soon see how you back them up. One more question; what are your plans for the future? What’s the next goal you’ve got your sights set on?
Nate Colton: Well…there is a thought that’s been buzzing in my brain lately. I had it again a minute ago, after I got changed. I looked in the mirror and thought, “Nate, you’re lookin’ pretty good. But something’s missing. Some color, to complete the look. Maybe…something gold.”
Simon Tillier: You mean…a PRIME championship?
Nate Colton: That’s exactly what I mean.
Simon, ever the eager lad, gets really excited now. A title challenge is big news, and he gets to be the one to break it!
Simon Tillier: Which title do you have in mind? The Five Star? The Intense? Maybe even the–
“Tillier! Simon Tillier!”
The junior reporter snaps to attention when he hears his voice being called off camera, and into the frame walks a surly middle-aged man in a delivery service uniform.
Delivery Man: Hey, youse Simon Tillier?
Simon Tillier: I, um-um-um… yes?
The delivery guy holds up the clipboard in his hand.
Delivery Man: Signs here, please.
Tillier readjusts his glasses as he transcribes the paperwork.
Simon Tillier: Uhh, what’s this about, exactly?
Delivery Man: Gots a special overnight delivery for ya. Priority air express. Hot stuff. Needs it off our hands, chop chop. Now you want it, or not?
Simon Tillier: (scribbling his signature) What? Really? What could possibly…?
Delivery Man: OOKAY, BOYS!! BRING ‘ER IN!
He slips out. Two more guys in similar uniforms take his place, pushing a large, bulk crate before them on a dolly. Despite the word “FRAGILE” clearly being written across the front in red, these dudes clearly don’t speak Italian, as they push it forward and let it drop to the floor.
They leave. Simon is left staring at the large, definitely human-sized box before him. He looks to Nate for some sort of cue, but the second-generation wrestler can only shrug in equal levels of confusion.
Simon Tillier: Well… I guess I’ll go ahead and open it…
He procures a crowbar from the place where practical things materialize whenever they’re needed and wedges the end beneath the lid.
Simon Tillier: I swear, this better not be another leg-shaped lamp!
After a moment of prying away, the top side pulls loose.
Simon pushes the lid aside and looks in…
Simon Tillier: …nothing?
Simon Tillier: Nothing!?
Tillier leans over and searches the walls of the completely empty crate. It is completely void of substance. Just an empty box.
Simon Tillier: Who on earth would send me an overnight express giant box of NOTHING just to interrupt my interview!
Colton leans in and spies something.
Nate Colton: Hey… is that a card down there?
Simon sees it for himself, and quickly snaps it up in his hand. He holds it up and readjusts his glasses to read.
Nate Colton: What’s it say?
Tillier reads the card… and his face fills with dread.
Simon Tillier: …it says, “Look behind you.”
He can already sense the bloodshot eyes burrowing holes into the back of the head, staring out from a five feet and ten inch filth-encrusted obelisk of muscle, marrow, and madness.
The junior reporter’s feet leave the floor in terror.
Simon Tillier: REZIN?!
Shirtless. Sweaty. Wired. High as fuck. Caked in mud, soot, and…
Simon Tillier: Where did you come from!?
The Escape Artist points to the floor.
Simon Tillier: …is that blood?
Rezin arches an eyebrow as he inspects the splash pattern across his chest that Simon is referring to. He looks back to the reporter and shrugs.
Rezin: Uhhmm… that ain’t mine.
Simon Tillier: Dare I ask?
Rezin: Ugh… look, Simon, I ain’t really got the time to get into it, but for future consideration, if you ever go to a Halloween costume party and all the other people in costume are dressed up ghosts then you might wanna check yourself, cause that is NOT a Halloween costume party you are at.
The Goat Bastard looks right into the camera.
Rezin: Remember the advice of Uncle Rezin, kids! Eat your gummies! Listen to Black Sabbath! And punch EVERY NAZI YOU SEE right in his FUCKIN’ FACE!
Simon Tillier: Rezin, why are you here? You’re supposed to be away, rehabbing from injuries!
Rezin: You should know by now, Simon: I’m too PUNK ROCK to be rehabbin’ ANY shit! Besides that, someone’s gotta be here keepin’ the normies like YOU on your TOES! What, ya think I’d just let ya go around gettin’ FAT and LAZY?! Perfectly content within your SAFE, STABLE BUBBLE!? While I’m just sittin’ with my feet propped up BACK HOME in…
Rezin freezes, as soon as he notices Nate Colton watching the proceedings mere feet away. His eyes narrow into slits.
The Escape Artist looks suspiciously between interviewer and interviewee, realizing for the first time that he’s the third wheel in this.
Rezin: What we got goin’ on here, Simon? Ya two-timin’ me?
Simon Tillier: Well technically, Rezin, you’re not allowed to be interviewed by me anymore.
Rezin: BAH, fuck the law! So whaddya guys chattin’ about?
Simon Tillier: Well, as it so happens, Mr. Colton here was showing some interesting in going for gold.
Rezin: Ahh, cool cool…
Then it hits him.
He glances down at the one spotless part on his visage: the Five Star Championship, clean and immaculate, draped over his shoulder.
His daring gaze snaps back to the young Colton.
Rezin: Well DAMB, kid! I admire the gumption, but I sure hope you ain’t got eyes for this strap! Ain’t sure my conscience can bear ruining the rise of yet another young future star like yourself!
Here’s the thing about Nate Colton.
Since joining PRIME, he’s gained a reputation for being humble and respectful…with a few notable exceptions. And, with a few notable exceptions, he’s earned that reputation. Most people know him to be polite, friendly, and if not outright deferential to veteran wrestlers, at least modest.
Right before a match? That’s another story. His blood is pumping, the adrenaline has kicked in, and he’s building up his confidence for the task at hand. He’s getting ready to do what he does best, and isn’t about to let anyone stop him. Humility has no place in the ring; manners can wait until after the bell.
So if you want “humble, respectful” Nate Colton? Look for him some other time, because he’s got the night off.
Nate Colton: That’s exactly the strap I’ve got my eyes on, Rezin. That’s the belt that lets everyone know. The Five Star Title is the one that says, “I belong here. I deserve this. I am one of the best of the best.” And the reason it says that, is because to win the Five Star, you gotta be either one of the best pure wrestlers in the world…
He locks eyes with Hell’s Favorite Hoosier, and that cocky grin from earlier grows a little wider.
Nate Colton: …or an undeniable, Grade-A, tough son of a bitch.
Rezin gives him the Nick Cage deathstare for a moment… and breaks into a delighted chuckle.
Rezin: Heh heh… aight, kid. I see ya. But hold up, did I overhear earlier that you’re about to go out there and tango with the Timelord herself?
Simon Tillier: That’s what we were discussing before you arrived, yes.
Rezin: Innerestin’… innerestin’…
He thoughtfully runs a hand through his long and unkempt hobo beard.
Rezin: Ya know… Anna’s only one of two people to put my shoulders to the mat for the three here in PRIME. Be quite a statement if you were to go out there and succeed where I failed.
The Five Star Champion leans in, eyes so wide they look as though they may crawl out of his skull.
Rezin: Well, Nate Colton… sounds like this is your chance to SHOW ME WHAT YA GOT!
Nate Colton: Be glad to. Just don’t be surprised if the next chance I get to show you what I got…
Nate points, very clearly, at the title belt draped across Rezin’s shoulder.
Nate Colton: …it’s what you got.
After a beat, Rezin grins. Or could it be a devilish sneer? Either way, he lets out another raspy chuckle.
Rezin: Aight, kid… I see ya. Give ’em hell tonight, eh?
Rezin lingers a moment, looking voraciously between Colton and Tillier. A beat later, he turns away and leaves.
Neither Colton nor Simon Tillier take their eyes off the Goat Bastard until he rounds the corner. When he does, Nate looks back toward Simon…and Simon looks in the opposite direction, fully expecting Rezin to reappear.
Nate Colton: Good news is you got a free box out of the deal. Any plans for it?
Simon Tillier: Yes. I’m going to crawl inside and close it. Then I’ll be safe.
THESE ARE MY DIPPING MUSTARDS
The camera cuts from the interview stage to back in the corridors of the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Anglo Luchador, already dressed in his gear for his Intense Championship defense against Jacob Mephisto, replete with his “Fighting for Jonathan” t-shirt, is speaking to someone who at present is off-camera.
TAL: So, uh, those stories from your youth… are they true?
The camera pans over to find former PRIME wrestler and part-time in-ring interviewer, Captain Suleimon, sitting on a steamer trunk, checking his phone.
Suleimon: Which ones? There are many tales about the great Ottoman Captain. For example, I was in the Red Army, and I…
TAL: …did you ever wrestle a tiger, like, for real?
The aged Turk looks up from his phone and shoots the Intense Champion a look that could melt steel.
Suleimon: Typical white devil talk. Anything you find questionable you relegate to tall tale status. Hmph. If I didn’t just get my hip replaced, I would…
TAL: I believe you, you old salt, Xipe Totec, I’m just asking because I am inte…
Voice from off-screen: I hate to interrupt a very intriguing conversation between two refined gentlemen such as yourselves, but I was wondering if either of you had any grey poupon?
In walks Tony Gamble, surprisingly not flanked by any of the other three members of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate.
Suleimon: Oh Jeez, this guy. More than one Italian in a close radius like this is enough to give me heartburn. I’ll talk to you later.
Suleimon gets up and hobbles off-screen. The Intense Champion turns his attention fully to The Perma-scar Superstar, who happens to be wearing his #STANDINGFORJON t-shirt.
Tony Gamble: Guess that’s a no from him, how about you champ? I’m making a sandwich, and don’t really want to send one of the guys to the store.
TAL: Unfortunately, the only mustards I keep in my locker are ones for dipping. What’s your angle here anyway, Wingtips? I don’t trust you. You’ve been incredibly saccharine the last week or so on socials.
Tony waves his arms and shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: I don’t mess with that saccharine stuff, I prefer real cane sugar. As far as trusting me, if I were you I wouldn’t trust me either.
Gamble chuckles heartily.
Tony Gamble: I mean, you are keeping my title warm for me, so I’d hate for you to think we’re friends or anything.
TAL: (feigning disappointment) I’m crushed.
The Paladin of PRIME turns completely towards Gamble.
TAL: So what are you really here for?
Tony looks a bit confused at the question.
Tony Gamble: Uhm… mustard. I told you I’m making a sandwich, right? You and Ria are always trying to read into something, like I can’t just make a comment without having some hidden meaning. It’s really getting ridiculous.
TAL: Well, to Ria’s credit, she’s incredibly smart and has a great bullshit detector. Look, I don’t have any mustard. I have to apologize, I don’t keep dipping mustards on me, it was a joke. If that’s all you want, I’m not your man. I don’t have time to deal with your circular bullshit tonight, okay?
Tony Gamble: I don’t think it’s that great, or she wouldn’t have believed yours. But alas, you’re a “tecnico” so everyone falls for your bullshit. I’ve seen the real you, and while you pretend to be this good guy that is here for all of his friends and fighting for PRIME’s good name… You’re really only doing what you need to do to elevate your status here in PRIME.
Tony leans in and taps the Intense title twice.
Tony Gamble: This gets you a little bit of credibility, but it isn’t your endgame. No, you have Universal title dreams just like everyone else in this place. You’re not going to get there, because I’m not only going to take back the title I won at Great American Nightmare… I’m also going to push you so far that everyone remembers the jackass swinging a barbed wire bat. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sandwich to make. You know, since women are too good to make them nowadays.
Gamble walks out of frame, leaving a frustrated and flummoxed Intense Champion in his wake.
TAL: I’m usually the sarcastic one in these feuds. What the hell, man.
The camera cuts back to the ring for the next match.
ANNA DANIELS vs. NATE COLTON
We return the inside of the MGM Grand Garden Arena as the rock riff of “Tryin'” by the Eagles begins to play.
Nick Stuart: And we are back ringside with more action on this edition of ReVival…up next…this isn’t a pay-per-view card folks…we have Nate Colton taking on Anna Daniels. What a barnburner this should be!
Richard Parker: When you look at these two, there’s a lot of differences. But here, in PRIME, they’re both absolute buzzsaws. Colton has been on quite the roll. Daniels?
Nick Stuart: She’s had a rough road the last two match ups…
Richard Parker: And it’s not getting easier here. But they aren’t one for hanging their head. Hell, when it comes to kicking ass? They’re a victor against Ned Reform and Jacob Mephisto. But the record is clear. It’s what matters. But they have the experience edge. They are more vicious. And for Nate Colton? That’s potential trouble.
Moments later, Nate Colton emerges from the curtain. He holds his arms up high, showing off his blue satin jacket–his family name emblazoned on the back; his first name stitched on the front.
Vince Howard: This match is set for one fall with a thirty minute time limit! Introducing first, from Evansville Indiana…weighing in at two-hundred fifty-five pounds…NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE! COOOOOOOOOOOOOOLTON!
Nate walks quickly to the ring, making sure to high five any fans who reach toward him. He climbs the steps, ducks between the top and middle ropes, and enters the ring. He heads directly to his corner and undoes his jacket, showing off his gear–white trunks that reach his upper thigh with a blue stripe down the side, white boots with blue trim, white MMA gloves, and blue elbow and knee pads. After handing his jacket to a ring attendant, he makes another appeal to the fans, then stretches in the corner while he mentally prepares for the Multitudes that make up Anna Daniels.
As if on cue, the entire area fades to black, causing the PRIMEates in attendance to steadily come to a hush. After a moment, the beginning guitar notes of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” begin. Nothing comes on the PRIME*view to note exactly who is coming out. Suddenly, a spotlight pierces through the dark pointed to the top on the entrance ramp. Anna Daniels stands there, their profile positioned towards the light. They let it wash over them while letting the fans get a good look at the merchandise. Finally, they glance at the ring with a small smirk on their face.
Nick Stuart: The ever dangerous–
Richard Parker: And capitalist–
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels.
As The Muse takes their time heading to the ring, they wistfully observe the goings on around them as if getting into a certain type of groove that only they can hear. Their strolling sways almost like their dancing from time to time. Their robe and headpiece–once more regal and dazzling artifacts from their homeplanet–are in various stages of disrepair and utter damage. Anna slaps a hand or two, nods a little to those in attendance. Once ringside, they motion for somebody to take the robe and headpiece which when taken nearly make the poor sap fall over.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…from Mount Perdition, Gallifrey! Weighing in at one-hundred and thirty-five pounds…they are the TIIIIIIME LORD…AAAAANNNNAAAAAA! DAAAANNNNIIIIIEEEEEELLLLSSSS!
They make their way to the stairs and slink along the apron, wiping their feet before entering the ring. Immediately after, they nearly chase off Timo in a sudden blur of action before smiling yet again. Casually, they stroll to a corner with their head bopping before perching themself onto the top rope laid out like a French girl people like to paint.
The bell rings, and even with the size disparity between the two figures in the ring, it would be wrong to assume it is Nate Colton in the role of predator. As the ambiance around them simmers, The Muse tilts their head, expressionless as though they were Michael Myers, staring through the Hoosier before hopping to the canvas. Knowing they have the experience edge (and by just how many decades or centuries, it is hard to say), Colton readies himself in an amateur stance, drawing close. Daniels smirks. With the general theme of October, their mindset draws toward another film reference; Gozer, “The choice is made!” They also get in an amateur stance, and the pair begin to circle, Colton swiping with a gloved hand, Daniels evading and slapping it away, all before Colton works and charges forward, grabbing tight with a collar and elbow tie up, but before he can utilize any muscle, Daniels swings him over with a crisp arm drag which sends Nate across the ring.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton was looking to utilize his amateur background there, and he got a quick answer to if that may be an advantage or not.
Richard Parker: Say what you will about Anna Daniels, and lots of people have gone to the mattresses saying they’re a damn loon, but what I see is someone unpredictable, someone who changes up their game, someone you have to survive given their skill. They’re like lego blocks.
Nick Stuart: Meaning?
Richard Parker: They can become anything they want to be.
Nick Stuart: Colton is shaking his arm, loosening his wrist, on a single knee. His path to this match up has been impressive. Dusk. Tony Gamble. You have two of PRIME’s most accomplished there. And then you get FLAMBERGE, who is a literal house of fire–
Richard Parker: A sword on fire.
Nick Stuart: –and here he is, Anna Daniels, and while they might have lost to Jacob Mephisto at UltraViolence, was that the All Father winning or merely surviving?
Richard Parker: A big sword that’s on fire.
Nick Stuart: Daniels, emotionless, standing there, looking ready for another volley–
Richard Parker: That’s French. And has swagger.
Colton finally gets back to his feet, and the pair once again begin circling, this time, with Daniels being the aggressor, looking to pick the leg, but Nate grabs hold of her neck with a facelock, wrenching on the hold, dancing on leg, only for Daniels to step through and hook the back of his heel and send him to his back. The Multitudes also goes for a ride in the process, with the second generation Colton maintaining his facelock, but they are in more of a float over rather than a DDT, and as there is a scramble when the two hit the canvas, Nate shoots for a double leg, only for Daniels to sprawl. A sharp elbow to his spine later, Colton tries to rise, smothered in the thighs of The Time Lord and the vice grip they have around the sides of his neck. This might be something that a weirdo with a nuzzle fetish might be into (in truth, a lot of folks in PRIME would probably want The Multitudes to crush their head like a watermelon in this position), but for the Hoosier, as he struggles with the blood cutting from his head, all he can do is press his hands into the canvas and force himself upward, lifting Daniels from the canvas awkwardly, their legs trying to find their footing, only for Nate to finally get the upperhand with a wild hip toss, which leads to The Time Lord springing back to their feet and getting hit with a shoulder block.
Nick Stuart: It took pure midwestern muscle to get out of that predicament. You can see it in Colton’s eyes, the grips, the holds of Anna Daniels, he wasn’t prepared for them.
Richard Parker: They’re giving up tremendous size. Of course you aren’t going to expect it. But Daniels is dangerous. They are scary. They have wins over BOTH Anglo Luchador AND Rezin. Intense and 5 Star Champions. That’s not a mistake. How close were they months ago to being the number one contender for the Universal Championship?
Nick Stuart: Nobody is arguing their skill–
Richard Parker: They’re a ticking time bomb. And when they explode? You’re going to remember where you were at that moment. Because there might be no stopping them.
Nick Stuart: Colton standing over Daniels here, looking down toward them. Wait…is he…
Richard Parker: What is he doing?
Nick Stuart: He’s extending his hand to them.
Richard Parker: Why?
Nick Stuart: Sportsmanship?
For those wondering, Colton’s extending of his hand has nothing to do with chivalry, nothing to do with empathy. In the current world of PRIME, perhaps the gesture is the most shocking thing of all. What it really is about is wanting to get right back into the thick of it, hold for hold. Someone their size, putting him in complete danger? In a weird way, it’s thrilling, and he wants to test himself against that as much as he wants to win. And when Daniels takes it, there is a surge of cheers that run through the crowd, though they quickly kip up, and fire off a HEAVY muay thai kick to the head of Colton.
Richard Parker: Damn midwestern folly is more like it!
Colton crumbles to his knees, grabbing his head. Most times, this would be where the fans would boo. Timo, wincing from the blast, wonders if he should step in. Daniels, for their part, pushes Nate’s hands away, looking down at him.
Anna Daniels: Nothing personal, Evansville.
They then wallop him across his broad chest with a knifing thigh kick, leaving an imprint. He rocks back, but before he slumps to the canvas, he balls his fists, sits up, and demands another.
Richard Parker: Um…what is he…
Nick Stuart: OH! Another bone rattling kick!
Richard Parker: He’s asking for another–
Nick Stuart: Daniels with another vicious kick to the chest of Nate Colton!
Richard Parker: –it sounds like they’re smashing a damn cherry tree!
Nick Stuart: Another kick–
Richard Parker: Colton caught that one!
Nick Stuart: Daniels looking for an enziguri–
Richard Parker: And Colton ducks it!
Nick Stuart: Daniels trying to scramble away–
Richard Parker: Colton grabs hold of them–
Nick Stuart: Back suplex!
Richard Parker: Spoke too soon!
Nick Stuart: Oh wow! Daniels landed on their feet!
Richard Parker: And they’re both tying up again!
On the quick tie up, The Time Lord grabs the quick advantage with a side headlock. The grip is like a vice, and as Colton tries fighting out of this, Daniels snaps him back to the canvas with unrepentant ferocity with a side headlock takeover. However, they can’t maintain the hold for long, with Colton wrestling the pair back to their feet, lifting Daniels up and slinging her off his head and onto the canvas with a push. Another quick scramble, this time from Daniels, and this time, Nate Colton grabs hold of The Muse and slings them over with side headlock takeover, only for Daniels to move and get a headscissor on the Hoosier, and within moments, the two are back to their feet,circling each other now with extended hands, grabbing hold for a knuckle lock. The second the lock up, Daniels drops to the canvas.
Richard Parker: What the…are their hands tender or?
Nick Stuart: Oh! Daniels kicking at that left hand, still with the right in the grip, and now they’re rolling over–
Richard Parker: Oh wow that’s beautifully executed!
Nick Stuart: Daniels to their feet, wristlock still in hand, key lock! Key lock on Nate Colton! And he’s reaching for her head to get something but he can’t! Oh look at how they’re wrenching that hold!
Richard Parker: He’s in real trouble now!
Perhaps more than anyone would have thought.
Nick Stuart: Wait, are they–
Richard Parker: The swagger of Anna Daniels! They’re going for a cobra clutch!
Perhaps it is swagger. For the Colton’s this is THEIR bloodline. THEIR hold. The Multitudes know what they are doing. Dark Side of The Moon: Remastered. There’s just one problem; Nate Colton has trained for this one move more than any other. It’s almost unfair, when you’ve had a lifetime of siblings trying to slap the hold on you. As Daniels tries to wrench Colton into the clutch, he drops to his knees, tossing them over his shoulder. They scramble to their feet, only to get caught when they rise.
Nick Stuart: Spinebuster! Spinebuster by Colton!
Richard Parker: The ring is shaking from that thing!
Nick Stuart: Oh he’s getting hold of their legs…Boston Crab! Oh Colton with the Boston Crab and he’s sitting deep with it!
Richard Parker: Daniels bending like a pretzel!
Nick Stuart: Timo is there, ready if they want to submit–
Richard Parker: The ropes! Daniels lunges for the ropes!
Nick Stuart: Oh wow! Ring positioning might have been the only thing that saved Anna Daniels there! Are we going to be looking at that attempt at the Cobra Clutch…the Colton Clutch…as a turning point?
Colton releases the hold, and as he does, he waits for Daniels to get to their feet, using the ropes, pulling themselves up. Grabbing hold with an irish whip, Colton looks to catch The Time Lord on the rebound, but all he gets? A spike hurricanrana. Colton stumbles after his head collides with the canvas, but all he ends up doing is getting caught with a muay thai knee to the head. And after he falls, Daniels grabs hold for the pin.
Still smarting from the crab, Daniels grabs at their lower back, rising up and hitting a boot to the back of the head of the rising Colton. Staggered, they grab hold of him, swinging him around will grabbing onto his arm.
Nick Stuart: Sombras Que Corta! Sombras Que Corta!
Richard Parker: Oh man Colton is on the ropes!
The showcase between the two wrestlers is getting more frantic, and Daniel is putting together a volley of offense that is sure to take them over the top. Groggy, Colton tries to stand up, only for Daniels to seize on the opportunity.
Nick Stuart: Tiger suplex! Anna Daniels just tiger suplexed Nate Colton! Cover!
Survival instinct. It’s all Nate Colton has right now. And as The Multitudes that make up Anna Daniels pounce, they’re more than ready to get back on the winning track. Colton can taste the loss coming, knowing there’s very little he can do. He rises to meet his fate.
Nick Stuart: Daniels charging in–
Perhaps this dealer wants a king kong style lariat, to splatter the young Hoosier. Whatever the case, about that accepting his fate? Colton puts his forearms up, blocking the lariat attempt. The collision is a splatter, and both have to step back. A moment of staggering. Colton charges in, his hands quick to grab onto a Colton Clutch!
Nick Stuart: OH! COLTON CLUTCH SUPLEX! COLTON CLUTCH SUPLEX!
Richard Parker: IN SURVIVAL MODE!
Nick Stuart: COVER!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…NAAAAAAAAAAATE! COOOOOOOOOOOOLTON!
Daniels kicks out what would be the four count. Perhaps more from disorientation than the blow of the move. Grabbing their head, they look over at young Nate Colton, having already rolled off the pin. He’s on his knees, looking over at his opponent. Breathing heavy, he nods his head to them.
Nate Colton: Got lucky…you’re damn good.
Perhaps his acknowledgment is enough to cool the flames of anger in losing here. She nods back at him, as the fans cheer.
Nick Stuart: Oh man…these two…when they get the gas going…
Richard Parker: If that’s a sample, then I’m sold. Give me a damn buffet of that.
Fade-in from black…
Alex Steel strains to carry a heavy box labeled “STORE STUFF” backstage. As she does, a narrator begins to speak, much to her bewilderment.
“The PRIMEPORIUM has new merch of all of your favorite wrestlers! Check out prime-wrestling.com/shop!”
Alex looks around, looking over the long, oblong box held to her torso.
Alex Steel: Wassat? Hello? Is someone there? Could you help me?
“Introducing our new T-Shirt stock!”
Alex sets the box down, and suddenly, her shirt changes in an instant, replaced by a Brandon Youngblood shirt featuring the wrestler and a stylized font. She’s horrified by this.
“Get shirts featuring all your favorite wrestlers today!”
Alex screams and panics, running away, but the camera follows her in a long tracking shot through the backstage. As she runs through a hallway, she passes numerous backstage staff wearing new merch of wrestlers such as Ria Lockhart, the Kings of Popsicles, and Hayes Hanlon, shuffling about.
“For just 30 dollars, get three shirts today by using the checkout code ReVival!” The narrator continued. Alex ducks into a room and closes the door, bracing against it, her shoulders square with a new poster of The Anglo Luchador.
Outside the room, the commercial narrator continues, muted and muffled by the door and wall. The doorknob shakes, and to Alex’s fright, a replica championship title is shoved under the door between her feet. After a moment of silence, Alex turns to open the door, and she’s buried under a mountain of shirts and various Funko! Pops.
The narration grows louder as the disembodied voice comes closer.
“The PRIMEPORIUM! Number One By Definition!”
Fade to black…
HAMMER, SICKLE, AND SWORD
Ivan Stanislav walks down yet another hallway with Alexei Ruslan at his side. The Bear is clearly looking for someone as they occasionally peer into doorways here and there, opening up various doors and peeking in.
Ivan Stanislav: He has got to be here somewhere, eh?
Ruslan nods his head and looks up at his larger friend.
Alexei Ruslan: There is not much more left to this building. I do not think he would be in the boiler room, do you?
They move further down the hallway as Ruslan peers along the open slit of one door and stops. He speaks in a hurried whisper.
Alexei Ruslan: Ivan, he is in there! Here, the gift!
Ruslan produces a book and hands it to Ivan, who nods down at his smaller friend.
Alexei Ruslan: Shall I go in with you?
Ivan Stanislav: Nyet, it is quite all right, Alexei. I have quite the rapport with younger generation.
He smiles knowingly, and Alexei steps off to the side and nods. Stanislav, with the book tucked in his paw of a hand, opens the door more and squeezes himself through the doorway, calling out to the individual he’s been looking for.
Ivan Stanislav: FLAMBERGE, you are in here?
FLAMBERGE is indeed “here”, though he wasn’t planning on being found. The Frenchman has clearly cleaned up and suited up after his match with Avalon, and before Stanislav’s intrusion, he was buried in the news of the day emanating from his phone.
The Russian Bear grins as he fills the room. He spreads his arms wide, still holding the book, and speaks as pleasantly as a seven foot Russian can.
Ivan Stanislav: Bonjour! You are difficult fellow to find, FLAMBERGE.
Ivan clears his throat and straightens his back more as he looks down at the smaller, much younger Frenchman.
Ivan Stanislav: In case you are unaware of who I am, I am Ivan Stanislav, The Russian Bear!
Stanislav’s voice booms, but he looks anything but threatening at this moment, which is a rare sight. His smile pierces his haphazard beard and he still holds the book in his hand, but makes no attempt to show it.
FLAMBERGE: I am aware of the Stanislav, oui. Truly “killing it” here so far, non?
The Frenchman’s voice is definitely an attempt at baritone that can’t quite match the booming depths of the Russian in front of him, though Ivan makes no point of embarrassing FLAMBO about it. Stanislav lets out a laugh in response to the question. The ceiling tiles tremble.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!! Yes I am killing it indeed!
The juxtaposition between these two men cannot be any more stark. The pale Stanislav stands over a foot taller than FLAMBO, he is double his weight, and triple his age. The Bear tugs on one of his suspenders.
Ivan Stanislav: And I am sure you are wondering just why I would come hunting for you, eh? The answer is quite simple and straightforward. Tell me, FLAMBERGE, what are your opinions on Marxism-Leninism, hm?
One may think this is a joke, but Stanislav is as serious as a heart attack as he lifts one bushy brow and tilts his head to the side, his full attention trained on the young wrestler.
FLAMBERGE may have just as well been asked about his opinion on Bolivian war tactics with how out of his depth he is. Education was a serious component of the Lavigne Family Upbringing, but hell if this kid knew square one about Mark Leninsmo or whatever Ivan asked.
FLAMBERGE: My opinions? They’re…well…actually, what are YOUR opinions?
The response catches Stanislav off guard. FLAMBERGE may very well be the first person to actually ask for Ivan’s opinion on such things, rather than the Bear simply bombarding others with said opinions. For a moment, Ivan is actually stunned. He puffs out his cheeks thoughtfully as he becomes thoughtful. He leans backwards slightly against the door behind him, causing it to creak.
Ivan Stanislav: Ah… my opinions on Marxism-Leninism? It is… the foundation of good social upbringing, it is… the finest outlook on life.
Stanislav becomes lost in his thoughts.
Ivan Stanislav: Workers controlling the means of production, the world revolution, destruction of capitalist state and freedom for all. Utopia. The idea of an agrarian society leaping forward beyond the capitalist stage of Marxism and hurtling towards true communism and becoming industrial superpower. World revolution, the destruction of imperialism…
Ivan trails off thoughtfully before he snaps out of his dream-like state, stands straight again, and looks at FLAMBO.
Ivan Stanislav: I could go on for hours, FLAMBERGE, but you know precisely what I mean, eh? It fills you with a kind of uncontrollable pride, does it not? Can you not just imagine it?
Once again, the words crash over FLAMBO’s face like a wave and not much seems to be sticking, though at the words “destruction of the capitalist state”, he seemed to nervously fiddle with the keys to his beloved FLAMBOrghini. He takes a breath to start saying something, but loses his thought completely as a look of confused apprehension washes over him. Stanislav is as bullish outside of the ring as he is in it, and he simply continues to speak, inadvertently saving FLAMBERGE. He finally produces the book, officially.
Ivan Stanislav: I come to you, FLAMBERGE, with a gift and proposition. You know, we both share an international heritage, both being Europeans and all of this. And while the French and Russians may be on opposite sides of Europe itself, we still share so much more in common than most individuals here in PRIME. First, the gift!
Ivan’s voice reverberates off the walls. He speaks with energy and momentum as he offers the book to FLAMBERGE.
Ivan Stanislav: This book is collected works of Jacques Duclos. While I am sure you are aware of this great writer, just in case you need memory jogged, he was one of most influential communist minds in France and he was stalwart Stalinist. The man truly was hero. A veteran of wars, fighter for the working class, and truly one of, if not the, most celebrated French figure in history.
He offers the book to FLAMBERGE and points down at it with a finger.
Ivan Stanislav: I took liberty of noting important passages in his writing, so that you may fill your young mind with proper proletarian knowledge!
FLAMBERGE looks down at the cover of the book. It reads “Собрание сочинений Жака Дюкло”. The confusion only deepens in his brow – something about seeing the completely-unreadable-to-him Cyrillic brings out Maximum Frenchman.
FLAMBERGE: Vous vous attendiez vraiment à ce que je lise ce livre écrit par un Français et vous n’avez pas pensé à m’en donner un exemplaire en français, voire en anglais?
Stanislav pauses as FLAMBERGE speaks to him in French. The Bear blinks his eyes as the foreign words actually put a hitch in his momentum. He speaks haltingly.
Ivan Stanislav: Er.. yes of course, certainly, FLAMBERGE, my eh, assessment as well…
Ivan clears his throat loudly, and resumes his talking points with a gruff grunt. His jovial and energetic demeanor melts as he becomes more serious and almost somber. His voice drops lower and he adjusts the waist of his pants, hefting it up higher along his stomach. He rolls his shoulders and releases the slack the movement created in his suspenders.
Ivan Stanislav: As for the proposition: Where Ivan Stanislav goes, he brings The Red Army with him. I am sure you are keenly aware of The Red Army, arguably one of most celebrated and influential groups of wrestlers to exist in this arena. The Red Army represents international brotherhood of like minded wrestlers, who soundly reject the oppression and foolishness of American born competitors. It is my belief that Lindsay Troy manipulates the roster of PRIME for her own ill gains. When you or I voice our concerns, we are soundly rejected and belittled, eh? And yet expletive laden rants by individuals like Brandon Youngblood and foolishness from those like Anglo Luchador are met with cheers. This is not right, eh?
After shaking off the shock of the Cyrillic on the cover of the book, FLAMBERGE looks upwards into the eyes of the hulking Russian. He DOES have a point, doesn’t he…Youngblood. It’s a hook in his guts that isn’t going away. And something about his delivery about seeing potential in the young man sounded like something another wrestler shared with him months ago…wherever he is now. Stanislav looks down into his eyes, his face turning into a thoughtful, though not necessarily unhappy, frown.
Ivan Stanislav: I need not have response now, FLAMBERGE, but be aware The Red Army is always looking for rising stars, particularly young ones, and you have gathered my attention. Unlike some others, I see the potential you have, and if you ever need a fellow European to offer and assist, you need look no further than Mother Russia, eh?
Stanislav offers his huge hand to FLAMBERGE. He isn’t smiling, and his eyes are intense as he offers his hand to the young wrestler and looms over him. His next words hang in the air.
Ivan Stanislav: You think about what Ivan has offered, hm? It is not consideration I give lightly.
FLAMBERGE looks down at the giant bear paw that’s been extended to him, and after a beat, he decides to return the handshake. Predictably, Stanislav’s grip is WAY stronger than FLAMBO’s, but the kid does his best to avoid flinching.
FLAMBERGE: …au revoir pour le moment, Mssr. Stanislav. And thank you for the offer.
FLAMBO frees himself from the handshake, tucks the book under his arm, and leaves. Stanislav smiles wide as FLAMBO shakes his hand, and he turns to watch him leave. The smile continues until The Frenchman’s back is to him, and it disintegrates into a more customary Russian frown. Ivan’s eyes intently watch him go and he does not blink.
Not a moment later, Alexei Ruslan pops his hat in, and then slides into the room. He stares at Ivan curiously.
Alexei Ruslan: Well? How did it go?
Stanislav exhales carefully, still frowning as he considers the entire exchange. He speaks quietly, and thoughtfully… in fluent French while tapping the side of his head.
Ivan Stanislav: Ne sous-estimez jamais la diplomatie russe, Alexandre.
Ruslan blinks slowly as he tries to gauge Ivan’s mood, before Stanislav laughs loudly.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!!
Immediately, Ruslan smiles and the two Russians laugh as one.
UNIFIED IN UNIVERSAL VIBRATION
Backstage, we follow Ria Lockhart with the Sorkin-cam. But there’s no fanciful, rapid fire walk-and-talk going on here: she’s just minding her own business.
Until she turns a corner, and stops short.
Sitting in the middle of the hallway–on a small rug, full lotus position–is her acquaintance, if one could call him that. All lank, lean muscle, dreads, and whatever collection of beads and feathers he’s acquired, Sage Pontiff doesn’t even open his eyes–or he closed them before the camera turned. Either way, he speaks with the sort of calm meditative demeanor that he’s becoming known for, Cali desert burnout by way of Bhagwan Rajneesh.
Sage Pontiff: I don’t like to ascribe negative wording towards things we hold inside of ourselves. Darkness, rage, anger, evil–these are labels, and labels are very much a sort of western compulsion. Like, they just have to have a box for everything to live in, right? No space for nuance, for complexity…for tenderness.
Ria Lockhart: Dude, Maybe I wasn’t clear, but–
Sage Pontiff: Oh, you were the crystal waters of the Honokalani. You have what you call ‘darkness’, because you’ve been lulled into the myth of all things being binary. Everything must be good or bad, clean or dirty, positive or negative. What I’m offering you is the real truth, something that hasn’t been filtered through the machine of our society and stripped of its joy and meaning. Something pure. Because I see who you are. For that camera, for your bosses, for what you think the world wants out of you. But I know the real Ria Lockhart. I just don’t want you to forget who she is.
With this, he opens his eyes, smiling easily. He supports his entire bodyweight on his palms and raises up, unfolding his legs and uncoiling himself to standing. Ria glares at Sage during this entire process before shaking her head.
Ria Lockhart: You know me? The real me?! Bullshit! I don’t know what your game is, but it’s starting to piss me off! You have no idea what I’ve been through! Not in PRIME, not in other promotions and not in life! You can’t just read an online bio, have a two second conversation with me and just act like you’ve totally got me down. I don’t really care what the cosmic forces or whatever are telling you. And binary? Come on, dude.
Sage Pontiff: Look deep, Ria. Look outward, too. Expansion of consciousness isn’t something to be afraid of, no matter what your parents or the government thought police might have been whispering to you. This isn’t some power trip and this isn’t me making assumptions. We are unified in spirit, in universal vibration, siblings in this grand experiment of life. I’ve merely passed through the veil and slept amongst stars and galactic formations. And that gave me sight, sister. I don’t know you like we used to play kickball, and I don’t know you in a biblical sense. That’s…
He waves his hand in front of her face, around her head.
Sage Pontiff: …that’s hard data stuff. I’m talking about something more profound. A chance to have all the puzzle pieces again. A chance to feel whole.
Ria rolls her eyes and scoffs at Sage. She puts her hands on her hips, her impatience with the conversation clear.
Ria Lockhart: You can search the mystical all you want if that’s what makes you happy. No matter what you say, I’m not buying your bullshit! I’m as whole as I’ve ever been. I’m on my own path to happiness. Quite frankly, interacting with you lately is putting a damper on that. If you know me as well as you claim you do, then something should be obvious. That thing is…
It’s brief. If one isn’t paying attention, it would be very easy to miss. But for a quick second… Ria’s eyes flash neon green.
Ria Lockhart: Getting on my bad side is a very stupid thing to do.
Lockhart pushes past Sage, anger radiating off her form. As she storms off, Pontiff keeps an eye on her, his heterochromatic eyes hardly even narrowing. He smiles and bows towards her, before gathering his mat as the scene cuts away…
JUST AN OLD SCHOOL INTERVIEW
Cut to backstage at the MGM Grand, Matt Mills is standing by with a microphone.
Matt Mills: Well ladies and gentlemen I have with me a newcomer to the sport along with his manager, a man known worldwide for his grappling acumen, former OSW and FUSE legend, Dave Gibson.
Wrestling legend Dave Gibson walks into the frame followed shortly by an unknown wrestler. The younger man appears to be in his early twenties. He is taller than both of the other men, but doesn’t tower over them. Some might call him athletic, muscular or lean, but not skinny. Dave wrings his hands and rolls his shoulders as Matt introduces the pair.
Matt Mills: Dave Gibson, it is a pleasure to introduce you to PRIME.
Dave Gibson: Trust me, the pleasure is all yours.
Dave takes a dramatic pause to let that one sink in.
Dave Gibson: Matt Mills, fans, PRIME…You are all probably wondering what brought me back from the dead. You all are probably wondering what makes a man like Dave Gibson decide to step back into the spotlight. The truth is I never left, I just took a little vacation. I sat alone, biding my time, watching this new generation of so-called wrestlers.
He enunciates each sentence with two fingers pointed forward as he speaks looking into the camera and deep into hearts of the viewers tuned in to the show. Matt looks confused by this statement.
Matt Mills: Are you saying you’re not impressed with the talent level in PRIME?
Dave Gibson: PRIME, HOW, PWA, Britain, Mexico, Japan, the U.S.A, hell, the world. I am not impressed. I see a bunch of yoked up, low integrity clowns who care more about putting on a big show than wrestling. You have a guy pretending to be a real Luchador as the Intense Champ. You have two people claiming to be fruit as Tag Champs. You have a man who looks like an advertisement for Waste Management holding the 5-Star Title. You have a yolk spewing cartoon character for a Universal Champion. Matt, what happened?
Matt Mills: I think our Champions represent PRIME just fine…
Dave Gibson: There you go, thinking. Well, I’ve been doing some thinking too. I’ve been thinking it is time to introduce some class into this organization.
He pauses and takes two fingers, points them at Matt Mills’ eyes and then drags his gaze down to the patented “Shut Up and Wrestle!” tee shirt.
Dave Gibson: There was a time when this shirt meant something. There was a time when I could lock in The Silencer and shove my opponents’ words right back down into their yellow guts.
Matt opens his mouth to speak, but Gibson lifts his hand and cuts him off before a word can exit Matt’s mouth.
Dave Gibson: Matt, let me tell you something. The other day as I walked down The Strip, Mayor Carolyn Goodman came up to me and said “Dave, you gotta do something about PRIME. It’s a freakshow of blood and beatings. It’s putting a dark tinge on my good city.” I said “Carolyn, don’t you worry about that. I have an answer to your problems.”
Matt Mills: I assume you are talking about the young gentleman standing to your left.
Dave nods and looks at his protege. The young man is dressed much differently than his elder counterpart wearing crisp cut dull blue denim jeans. He wears a black as the Devil’s heart tee shirt with a fatigued skull and a futuristic punk style leather coat over the top. His posture, jawline, and features are quite striking with green eyes that cut right into a person’s soul hidden behind yellow tinted gaming glasses. He has a short cropped beard and undercut hair swept back over features somehow familiar to PRIME fans. Dave turns back to the interviewer and smiles rakishly.
Dave Gibson: You see this man, Matt? I’ve been working with this young man for over two years. I’ve been honing his skills, his awareness, his love of the sport. Once I had hold of it I was able to refine that skill, awareness, and love into what you see right here, and he’s ready to show everyone what wrestling is about!
Matt Mills: Maybe I should ask the young man what he thinks?
The student steps forward and looks down at Matt. He removes his yellow tinted glasses and delivers a blazing glare of intensity. Dave holds up a hand to his pupil and chuckles a little to Matt Mills.
Dave Gibson: No, no, no. He hasn’t earned the right yet, Matt. He still has dues to pay before he gets to talk.
The younger man nods to Gibson and steps back, allowing his mentor to speak.
Dave Gibson: But this is what I say; I say that PRIME is full of men and women who will tell you to your face they are brave, they are pious, they are the baddest on this roster. And it is all bullshit. Every last one of them wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and questions themselves.
Matt Mills: Are you suggesting your student is better than everyone on the roster?
Dave Gibson: I don’t have to suggest it, Matt, it’s just the truth of things. I saw it on the show. I see it all over the internet. I see it in their eyes. I wouldn’t trust my name to be attached to his if it wasn’t the truth.
Matt Mills seems to be in shock at the bravado of Dave Gibson.
Dave Gibson: In fact, I am so confident I’ll promise you right here, right now in Las Vegas, Nevada, that I will never interfere in this man’s matches. He’s going to earn every win the hard way.
Matt Mills: And what if he doesn’t win?
Gibson looks Mills dead in the eyes and makes him shrink back a step.
Dave Gibson: Are you hard of hearing son, or have you not been paying attention? This is my student. There won’t be wasted time. There won’t be flashy moves. There will just be him and his opponent. That opponent is going to have to stare into the eyes of a killer and know when the bell rings there is nowhere left to run and hide. All those flashy jumps and whoop dee doo the so-called wrestlers do today will be useless once they are locked into his grip.
Matt seems to believe Dave’s every word. The young man smirks and nods confidently as Dave speaks highly of him.
Matt Mills: But, don’t we even get to know his name?
Gibson shakes his head slowly, with absolute intent.
Dave Gibson: No Matt, you don’t.
Dave motions to his student and nods to leave. He fishes a crisp pair of hundred dollar bills out of his wallet and stuffs them in Matt Mills jacket pocket, then slaps his cheek lightly.
Dave Gibson: Do yourself a favor and buy a decent shirt.
Dave and Eddie walk away leaving Matt Mills looking down at his pocket sullenly.
Matt Mills: But I bought this shirt at JCPenney…
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD vs. LARRY TACT
We come back to a shot of the ringside area, and Vince Howard standing ready to do the deal.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Introducing first, from Manhattan, New York…
“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 center stage where Larry Tact stands.
Vince Howard: Weighing in tonight at two-hundred and sixty pounds…
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.
Vince Howard: LAAAAAAARRRRYYYYYYYYY TAAAAAAAAACT!!!!
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: And his opponent…
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of “Bloodsport (World Domination)” by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain, the fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena exploding in a seismic ovation. There is no pomp, no circumstance, no delay. Through the blinding crimson and white strobing light cutting through the darkness of the arena, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained to the ring, toward Larry Tact. His expression is devoid of all joy, only offering an oppressive scowl of intensity.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and weighing in tonight at 270 pounds…
There is no walking along the ringside area, no slowdown as the Diamond of the ReVival stomps his way up the steps and into the ring.
Vince Howard: The Last Diamond… BRAAAAAAANDOOOOOOOON YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOD!
Once inside, Youngblood begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locked on Tact.
Nick Stuart: There’s the bell, and these two aren’t wasting any time, Richard.
Richard Parker: Does Youngblood look like he’s slimmed down a little bit? He doesn’t look as lumpy to me tonight, Nick.
The two men circle, each one sizing the other up and looking for an opening. Each testing the other to see who will blink first. Despite the similarities in size, Tact presents a taller, leaner frame. He’s more lithe, able to keep his opponent at range if necessary. In contrast, Youngblood – while heavier – is like a spring of coiled muscle and sinew.
It’s Youngblood who moves first, ducking in with a takedown attempt that Tact reacts to avoid, but Youngblood steps to the side revealing the maneuver as a feint. He waistlocks Tact from behind, using his lower center of gravity and extra ten pounds to lean his weight on him. When Tact tries to break free of the hold, the Diamond shifts his grip higher on the body, pulling Tact into a headlock and wrenching it tight.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood really clamping the move in tight.
Tact tries to get a hand in to create some space in the grip, but the former champion jerks hard to one side, causing Tact to have to refocus his energy on maintaining his balance. A second attempt to break the hold leads to a second sudden jerk, like a wolf trying to snap the neck of its quarry, but this time Tact uses the shift in momentum to force his body forward and shove Youngblood off into the buckle.
Nick Stuart: That was an impressive display of physics and body control by Larry Tact to get out of that hold, using Youngblood’s own momentum against him.
Richard Parker: Larry Tact is a successful man both in and outside of the ring, Nick. And you don’t get to that level of success without being incredibly intelligent. He knew what he was doing. Step one, figure out what your opponent is doing. Step two, find a way to use it against him.
When Youngblood turns, he’s met with a flurry of shots from Tact. Rights. Lefts. A knee to the midsection. Despite getting caught in the early going of this match, he’s looking to assert some dominance of his own. An elbow from Youngblood is brushed aside, and a jumping knee strike connects with the jaw of the Hall of Famer, rocking him back. Tact continues to press, grabbing a front side waistlock, and taking Youngblood down with a gutwrench suplex before the Diamond can react.
Richard Parker: This is what I like to see. Larry Tact is an accomplished grappler in his own right, and he’s reminding everyone of that right now.
Nick Stuart: It’s an impressive flurry for sure, Richard. Now he’ll look to maintain that pressure.
Tact moves in for a cover, driving his forearm into Youngblood’s jaw on the mat, but before referee Ashley Barlow can begin the count Youngblood pivots out from underneath his opponent. The two men scramble back to their feet, neither wanting to give the other an inch, and when Tact steps in Youngblood again adjusts his positioning to quickly get behind him, this time grabbing a hold and snapping Tact to the mat with a snap backdrop suplex.
Nick Stuart: Fans, it looks like one of those strikes from Tact – maybe it was the knee – caught the former champ, as Youngblood’s bottom lip appears to be bleeding.
If Youngblood is aware of it he doesn’t react. He quickly moves into a mount position, trying to break through Tact’s guard as he rains down a series of elbow strikes. Tact’s defenses are sturdy, able to withstand the assault as he uses his longer reach to jab upwards from the mat, catching Youngblood on the bridge of his surgically repaired nose. It creates just enough of an opening for Tact to buck upwards with his hips and break free of the situation.
Nick Stuart: Both men looking to land something big early on, but it’s been fairly evenly matched so far.
Richard Parker: Real talk, I wouldn’t want to be either of these guys with the swings they’re taking at each other.
Nick Stuart: Everyone here has something to prove, Richard. Larry Tact has an opportunity to show everyone just what he’s capable of against the man who’s been the benchmark of the ReVival era, and Brandon Youngblood has made his displeasure of recent events very well known.
Richard Parker: I hate it when mom and dad fight.
And then the first few beats of “Dangereux” by IAM hits the arena speakers.
I am dangerous
Nick Stuart: I think we’re about to have company!
Richard Parker: What was your first clue? Was it the theme music? Because that’s kind of a dead giveaway, if I’m being totally honest.
The reaction of the gathered Faithful is predictable.
But if there’s one person who seems wholly unfazed by this, it’s Brandon Youngblood. He never takes his focus off of his opponent, in fact using the new distraction to his advantage. With Tact momentarily caught off guard, Youngblood shifts his grip around Tact’s torso and lifts the man off his feet, twisting and bringing him to the mat in a Greco-Roman style slam. Tact scrambles, trying to break free, but the Diamond’s grip is a vice. He plants his feet, hauling Tact back into the air amidst the protesting flails of his limbs, driving him into the canvas with a variation on a backdrop suplex.
The music continues to play.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE still not out here, even though that is definitely his theme.
Richard Parker: I’m kind of okay with it. This song is a total bop.
Nick Stuart: It… what?
Richard Parker: It slaps. Goes real hard. This is what the kids say, yeah?
Nick Stuart: Regardless of my partner’s musical tastes…
Richard Parker: Which are awesome, by the way.
Nick Stuart: …it seems that this planned distraction isn’t having the effect that FLAMBERGE wanted.
Which is evident on his face when he finally steps out from behind the curtain. Only then does the song end, much to the chagrin of Richard Parker, who was totally dancing in his chair.
A takedown attempt is stifled, as Tact drops to his knees trapping Youngblood’s arm in between them. In one fluid motion, he captures the Diamond’s other arm with his own, and rolls onto his back, trapping the former Universal Champion in a crucifix choke.
Nick Stuart: Tact using some of that mixed martial arts background against the PRIME Hall of Famer. Much has been said about Brandon Youngblood’s grappling history, but I think it’s important for everyone to remember that Tact comes into this match with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Richard Parker: He’s also a former world champion in his own right, Nick. If anything his record in PRIME is a trap. You look at those numbers and might think one thing, but the reality is that Larry Tact knows how to bring the hurt.
With Youngblood trapped in the move, FLAMBERGE takes a few steps down the ramp. There’s a smile on his face as he extends his right arm, and pantomimes pulling at something.
Nick Stuart: Is he?
Richard Parker: Pulling an imaginary rope? Yeah, I think so.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE here with a reminder of what happened the last time Brandon Youngblood was in a position like this! The time that FLAMBERGE helped cost him the Universal Championship!
Richard Parker: My man might as well have walked out here with a “MURK ME DADDY” sign over his head.
If he notices, Youngblood does not seem to give it much thought. He’s too focused on trying to escape the hold. He plants his feet, pushes back, and manages to roll over onto his chest, only now he has his legs under him. He stands, despite the fact that Tact is still clinging to his back. Youngblood contorts, getting an arm free, and brings Tact hard to the mat with an improvised slam.
The Conscience of PRIME shifts his footing, traps Tact’s left arm, and drives him into the canvas with a half-nelson suplex.
FLAMBERGE’s arm freezes in the air.
Nick Stuart: Huge suplex from the former champion! That move has ended matches and won championships the world over. Tact in serious trouble now.
Richard Parker: Trouble? Hell he might be two inches shorter from the way he landed.
Youngblood maintains his grip, keeping the half-nelson in place as he straddles Tact’s back. With his free arm, he connects with shot after shot as a series of hard crossface-style forearms land.
What follows from the figure on the ramp is a string of invectives so profane that the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel will send the PRIME offices a reprimand letter after this broadcast airs in France.
Nick Stuart: The pressure is on now. Youngblood seems to be firing on all cylinders.
Richard Parker: Remind me to watch this back with the subtitles on later. I need to know what FLAMBO’s saying! You know, really expand my vocab.
Ashley Barlow steps in to check whether Tact is responsive, and if he can defend himself properly as the strikes continue to land. Before she can get close, Youngblood pulls Tact up while maintaining his grip. A second half-nelson suplex thunders through the arena.
Nick Stuart: Good lord! That’s got to be all! There’s no way.
The referee hits the mat for the count.
On the ramp, FLAMBERGE is seething. His plan to shake his rival has failed.
DING DING DING
Youngblood moves to the ropes as FLAMBERGE backpedals up the entryway, his mouth running the entire time.
Nick Stuart: Another win added to an already impressive record for Brandon Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Add it to the rest of the math those stats nerds have plastered all over his bio, I guess.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we’re going to take a quick commercial break, but don’t go anywhere! There’s more action coming up right after this.
COMMERCIAL: POWERBOMB COLOGNE
ARE YOU READY FOR A GREAT DAY?
Nick Stuart: All right then. Folks, two weeks ago newcomer Adam Ellis took a tough loss at the hands of the debuting Sage Pontiff when Pontiff used a bell hammer on Ellis while the referee wasn’t looking.
Richard Parker: Nick, I told you two weeks ago. A win’s a win’s a win no matter how you get there.
Nick Stuart: Despite the loss, Adam Ellis remains one of PRIME’s promising up-and-coming wrestlers and Ace Network cameras followed Adam and his wife for a couple days this past week. Here’s a day in the life of Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear.
It’s early in the morning.
The lights turn on in what was once a dark bedroom. Revealing Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear.
The couple throws the off the covers.
Adam Ellis: Are you ready for a great day?
Ginny enthusiastically nods.
Ginny Van Lear: Yep. You ain’t jest whistlin’ dixie!
Adam Ellis: Let’s go then.
“I’m into Something Good”- Herman’s Hermits
Bounding off the bed, both Adam and Ginny get ready for the day.
“Woke up this morning feelin’ fine…”
Leaving the trailer, Adam and Ginny stop and kiss on the front porch…
“There’s something special on my mind…”
…then they run down the steps and hop into Adam’s beloved late-model Volkswagen Jetta. The car backs out of their driveway and takes off into the Greenville, Texas morning.
“Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood, whoa yeah.”
Close up on the windshield- Adam and Ginny mouth the words to the song as they travel down Interstate 30…
“Something tells me I’m into something good…”
Ginny pinches him and then whispers something in his ear. Then she makes a ‘heart’ gesture with her hands.
“(Something tells me I’m into something)”
SCENE: A Kia dealership. The VW Jetta pulls into the lot…
“She’s the kind of girl who’s not too shy…”
…Ginny looks at a new Kia Sorrento. She’s interested but she glances over to Adam.
“And I can tell I’m her kind of guy…”
Adam gives her a thumbs down and shakes his head no to the Sorrento.
“She danced close to me like I hoped she would.”
Again, close up on the windshield of the car- Adam excitedly points at something…
“(She danced with me like I hoped she would)”
…that something is a Volkswagen auto dealership…
“Something tells me I’m into something good.”
…looking at the cars, Adam finds the new VW Jetta he wants…
“(Something tells me I’m into something)”
…and then Adam and Ginny pull out of the dealership with a brand-new, burgundy-colored, Volkswagen Jetta. The salesman watches them leave and then makes the ‘heart’ gesture with his hands.
“We only danced for a minute or two”
SCENE: On the beach at the Gulf of Mexico in Port Lavaca, Texas.
Adam and Ginny run in the shallow water along the beach by the Gulf of Mexico.
“But then she stuck close to me the whole night through.”
Smiling and holding hands, Adam and Ginny skip and hop as they race down the beach.
“Can I be fallin’ in love?”
They play catch with a beach ball. Adam throws it to Ginny. Ginny drops the ball and bends over to pick it up…
“(She’s everything I’ve been dreamin’ of)”
…then a football suddenly appears and clocks Adam in the face…
“She’s everything I’ve been dreamin’ of.”
…Ginny laughs and goes over to him. Close up on Adam. He moves his hand off to reveal he has a black eye…
“I walked her home and she held my hand…”
…Adam winces and starts to laugh. Ginny kisses him while an elderly couple watch close by. They too make the ‘heart’ gesture with their hands.
“I knew it couldn’t be just a one-night stand…”
SCENE: Traveling down a rural Texas highway.
There’s an older model truck that catches Ginny’s eyes parked in a yard with a for sale sign on it…
“So I asked to see her next week and she told me I could…”
…Ginny’s head turns as she looks at the truck…
“(I asked to see her and she told me I could)”
SCENE: Back to the Gulf of Mexico
More running and frolicking down the beach.
“Something tells me I’m into something good.”
SCENE: A hot dog stand along the beach.
Adam and Ginny each get a hot dog…
“(Something tells me I’m into something)”
…Adam tries to put some mustard on his hot dog. He accidentally squeezes the bottle early and a stream of mustard hits Ginny’s shirt…
“(Something tells me I’m into something, ahhh)”
…Ginny looks at her shirt and laughs. Then she picks up the ketchup bottle and sprays Adam with it…
“I walked her home and she held my hand…”
…Adam laughs. Ginny laughs. Even the hot dog vendor laughs…
“I knew it couldn’t be just a one-night stand…”
…they turn and spray mustard AND ketchup at the vendor…
“So I asked to see her next week and she told me I could
…Adam throws the mustard bottle in the air. Ginny moves in and kisses him. And the vendor is laughing while covered in mustard and ketchup. He makes the ‘heart’ gesture with his hands.
“(I asked to see her and she told me I could)”
Back to the beach… Adam and Ginny continue to run in the shallow water. Unfortunately, they are so lost in each other…
“Something tells me I’m into something good.”
…that they don’t see another couple casually walking along the beach…
“(Something tells me I’m into something)”
…and hit a sweet double-team clothesline that cuts the couple down. Adam and Ginny stop and look at each other. They laugh and move on while the couple sits up on the beach and both make the ‘heart’ gesture with their hands.
“Something tells me I’m into something good”
The new Jetta pulls into the driveway and parks next to what appears to be a new truck. An old-school 1975 Chevy pickup truck with the ‘for sale’ still stuck in the driver’s side window… rusted in places but still serviceable.
“(Something tells me I’m into something)”
Hand in hand, Adam and Ginny race up the steps to the porch and head inside the trailer. All the lights turn off.
“To something good, oh yeah, something good…”
Cut back to Nick and Richard.
Nick Stuart: Well, aren’t they a cute couple?
Richard tries to speak. He has that cringy expression one makes when you eat or drink something that’s extremely TOO sweet. His face scrunched and contorts into multiple funny expressions.
Nick Stuart: What do you think the Love Convoy’s reaction will be to this, Richard?
Nick turns his head to Richard just in time to see his head flop forward and hit the desk.
Nick Stuart: Okay then. Let’s go back to the ring…
THE DOCTOR GETS HIS SHOT
Cut to the ring, where we see a brown wooden podium has been set up. On the front of the podum is an emblem: shaped like a knight’s shield, dark purple, with a white “NR” written in fancy cursive in the center.
The lights go out.
The first and iconic few chords of Beethoven’s classic “Fur Elise” each throughout the arena. On the big screen, a series of purple music notes appear in tandem with the song. The music shifts from classic piano to a guitar version of the theme (performed by Cole Rolland) as two letters are on the screen: “NR.” The crowd begins to jeer as the house lights come back on, but this time as solid purple.
From the back appears The Good Doctor in all his glory: Ned Reform. He is not dressed to compete, but rather wearing a traditional khaki/blue button up combo. No tie today, and his face – usually so full of life and love for himself when he makes his entrance – seems somewhat sullen. He nods sadly and sighs before beginning his walk to the ring amongst the boos.
Nick Stuart: We’ve been hearing rumblings all week that Ned Reform had come to a crossroads – his words, not mine – in his PRIME career after taking a loss two weeks ago to Just Scott. Judging by this set up in the ring, I’m guessing he’s making some sort of announcement about his future.
Richard Parker: He’s thinking about calling it quite because he lost his… second match?
Nick Stuart: Correct.
Reform is all business as he climbs up the steps and enters the ring. He approaches the podium and adjusts the mic before making a brisk “cut it” motion followed by his theme song abruptly cutting out. Reform uses both hands to steady himself on the podium as he looks into the camera with forlorn eyes.
Ned Reform: Ladies and…
Reform suddenly gets a bit choked up. He takes a moment to compose himself.
Ned Reform: Ladies and…
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap!)
Reform covers his mouth with his hand as if he cannot believe the chant that the PRIME fans in attendance are now showering him with. He sighs again, letting the fervor run its course. When he senses a weakening in the chant, he jumps on it.
Ned Reform: Ladies and gentlemen! It is with a heavy heart that I appear before you today. You surely have noticed by demeanor: I am far from my usual jovial, devil-may-care, happy-go-lucky, salt-of-the-earth, life-of-the-party self, yes? There has been a great weight on my mind these past few weeks, children… yes, a great weight.
Reform pauses, seemingly to let the gravity (get it?) of that statement really land with the fans, but in reality he simply gives them another chance to boot the hell out of him.
Ned Reform: I’m sure you all saw two weeks ago when a great injustice occurred in the what should be hallowed grounds that is this ring. Dare I say that few in the history of this country have experienced an injustice to the maginitute that befell me when Great Scott or Just Scott or Scott Free or whatever it is that cretin is calling himself these days performed an act SO ILLEGAL it nearly tore the fabric of reality. I knew that PRIME had no respect for the rule of law, but I had no idea that it was so flippant about the very laws of physics that bind the universe together. And and a result, I stand here today as man who is…
He chokes up. This is hard to get out.
Ned Reform: I am so disenfranchised and disappointed that I… I have thought long and hard about leaving PRIME altogether.
YES! The fans seem to approve of this idea. Reform nods as if he believes they are showing him support.
Ned Reform: I’m not proud of this. To abandon my mission so early in its implementation would be to admit defeat. And children, Dr. Ned Reform is never defeated. And with that idea in mind…
Slowly, the sides of his mouth curl into a sinister grin. The facade of a beaten man melts away, and that familiar obnoxious sparkle returns to his eye. His tone of voice begins to shift as well.
Ned Reform: …I am going nowhere.
Ned Reform: In fact, being the victim of PRIME’s gross mismanagement has reinvigorated me more than ever. I have clarity of purpose. I am resolute. I will change PRIME for the better – and it starts tonight. In fact, I have scoured the PRIME roster… and I have found someone desperately in need of my guidance. For I will always be a teacher at heart, children, and as that is my passion, that is what I will use to refocus me. In that spirit…
Reform, still standing at the podium, turns to focus toward the entrance. He gestures widely, as if he were a game show host calling down the next contestant.
Ned Reform: Alex Steel… come down here!
Alex’s theme and video package began to play, and Alex walked to the stage, dressed in black tracksuit. Stepping down the ring and rolling in under the bottom rope, she took a microphone from a ringside worker and looked Ned over, a confused look on her face.
Alex Steel: “I’m not sure what you want from me, mate, but here I am.”
Reform smiles, removing the mic from the stand on his podium and stepping off to the center of the ring. He approaches Alex with a sly smile, extending a hand warmly.
Ned Reform: Dr. Ned Reform! A pleasure to meet you!
Alex cautiously shakes the man’s hand.
Alex Steel: G’day, doc.
Reform’s smile grows wider at the sound of someone actually addressing him by his title.
Ned Reform: I’ll be frank, Ms. Steel. I know you’re new around here. I understand that PRIME can be… very intimidating, especially for a nice woman such as yourself. I also know that the uncivilized mouth-breathing simpletons with the personality of a potato can be very… unwelcoming. I have some experience in that department. But I’ll tell you this: you, my new friend, have potential. You see, I have a bit of a gift. I can see past this…
Reform gestures up and down her form. Alex visibly scoffs in amusement.
Ned Reform: Underwhelming exterior to the person… to the athlete that you very well could be. And so I stand here with a one time offer… an offer not many are fortunate enough to experience! I, Ned Reform, PhD… conqueror of worlds, philosopher king, the sage on the stage… would like to take you under my wing.
Before Alex can even respond, he cuts her off.
Ned Reform: Oh! I’m sorry. Perhaps that went a bit over your head, yes? Allow me to make more… palatable for you.
Reform clears his throat and proceeds to put on the absolute worst Australian accent you’ve ever heard.
Ned Reform: Ya see, my little flower, I’d like to throw your shrimp on the barbie. We can get you jumping faster than a marsupial with a didgeridoo, we can! Also, something about a crocodile or whatever. What say you… mate?
Alex strokes her chin and paces backwards, before smiling and approaching Ned. Suddenly, she drops him with a standing lariat! The crowd erupts, and she kicks his microphone away, then hurts his podium out of the ring before darting out of the ring and walking backstage, all grins.
The fans give the newcomer a rousing ovation for shutting up what might be one of the biggest blowhards in PRIME. In the ring, Reform uses the bottom rope to try to pull himself up. His eyes are glossy and the camera moves in close enough to hear him muttering to himself.
Ned Reform: Baby… baby back ribs…
And he crumples to the mat.
Nick Stuart: I think it’s fair to say that Ned Reform’s condescending offer didn’t sit right with Alex Steel!
Richard Parker: She knocked him all the way to his favorite chain restaurant!
Alex takes in one last roar from the crowd before disappearing through the curtain and the show heads elsewhere.
A STORY ABOUT A SANDWICH (NO WOMEN WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS SEGMENT)
A frustrated Permascar Superstar shuffles back to his locker room with no Grey Poupon to spread on his bread, which means he will not be able to enjoy his sandwich as planned.
Tony Gamble: What the hell?
Tony stops dead in his tracks when he sees a forklift parked in front his locker room door, then he notices that smoke is slowly starting to fill the hallway. Tony jumps on the forklift, but he doesn’t know what any of the damn buttons do. He stares at it for a moment, then notices something out of the corner of his eye.
Tony Gamble: You’re joking, right?
He rolls under the swing of someone’s arms as they reach toward him, out of the forklift, across the ground, and coming up to a knee a few feet away from the man that tried to grab him.
Tony Gamble: Oh, you’re who the Queen sent to get me.
Enemigo VI stood in front of the forklift, staring down Tony before starting to circle him.
Tony Gamble: Sorry, buddy, but you’re not going to be enough.
It is that moment that Enemigo III wraps his arms around Tony while he is distracted.
Tony Gamble: Forgot there was more than one of you.
The Grin shifted his body enough to use Enemigo III’s body weight and momentum against him, tossing him over and onto his back before Enemigo VI has a chance to grab ahold of him as well.
Tony Gamble: You’re going to have to be quicker than that.
The smoke starts to get a little thicker, and that is when Tony sees another Enemigo standing to his right with a smoke machine in his hands. There is also another Enemigo running his way through the smoke, III and VI are angling to pin him with his back to the wall.
Tony Gamble: Oh, this is rich. All I wanted to do was eat a damn sandwich.
He dodges a punch from Enemigo VI, kicks Enemigo III in the gut to back him off a bit, then catches a knee to his own gut from who he now recognizes as Enemigo X. He doubles over for a second, before yanking his arm out of Enemigo VI’s grasp. He doesn’t notice that the other Enemigo put down the smoke machine and has approached from his blind side, or that he has a kendo stick in his hand that he swings smack dab into the small of Tony’s back.
Tony Gamble: SON OF…
Another swing causes a loud cracking sound when it makes contact with the top of Tony’s left knee.
Tony Gamble: A Biii—
Tony doesn’t get to finish as he feels the kendo stick get wedged between his teeth, then his arms get grabbed by Enemigo VI and X. He stomps on Enemigo X’s foot but Enemigo III drives a punch into Tony’s gut to settle him down a bit, then grabs a hold of his legs.
The squad has a hold of Tony and carries him off into the smoke-filled hallway, when the door to the locker room is pulled up from the inside. Domingo Cruz looks out into the hallway and sees no one there, just the forklift parked in front of the doorway and a bunch of smoke.
Domingo Cruz: Why is there a forklift in front of the door?
Frank Pastore walks up behind Cruz and looks over his shoulder.
Frank Pastore: You heard something though, right?
Domingo Cruz: Yeah, but I can’t see a damn thing with all this smoke.
A voice calls out from behind them. A voice of someone who promised himself he would not dare see the Grin until later. Being thrown through a wall has a way of changing someone’s mind.
Mortimer Knightingale: Where the hell is Tony? Huh? I wasn’t gonna come here, but after that dirty, Russian motherf—- ….Anyone gonna eat this sandwich?
Onto the match we go!
DUSK vs. TONY GAMBLE
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall!
Oh we’re getting right into it, kids.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring from Los Angeles, California and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
The lights dim, there is a long pause. Just as the crowd grows restless, fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
From the backstage area emerges “The Lost Soul” Dusk, who looks ready for a fight. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the fans, many of whom are on their feet and chanting his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
The Lost Soul makes his way down the ramp, extending his arms and high-fiving the fans along the aisle.
Vince Howard: The Lost Soul… DUUUUUUUUUUUSK!!!!
There is no music.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
There is no video playing on the screen.
Vince Howard: Umm…
All you hear is the roar of the crowd as they see the Enemigos walk out from behind the curtain with Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble trying to flail around. One Enemigo has a grasp of his legs, while two others each have a hold of an arm. The fourth Enemigo is holding a kendo stick in his mouth, causing the screaming of Dusk’s first opponent on his ride off into the sunset tour to be heard as nothing more than a muffled pout.
Nick Stuart: You know, I’ve seen the Enemigos have to help carry people out of the ring before, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them bring someone to the ring like this.
Richard Parker: It’s a shame they’re not doing more. Where’s the palanquin? Where are the pillows and aromatherapy candles? Someone get this man some grapes!
Nick Stuart: Why would they…?
Richard Parker: Tony Gamble is a Hall of Famer! He needed two stitches to help close that wound, Nick. Two! And there’s no telling what it did to him mentally; what toll it might have taken.
Nick Stuart: Oh, for the love…
The four Enemigos roll the disgruntled Permascar Superstar into the ring, their job now done as Tony just rolls onto his back and stays laying there with his arms folded across his chest.
Both the referee and Dusk share a glance, before they fix their eyes on Gamble. For his part, The Grin is not moving, simply looking back up at both men. He blinks once. Twice. Look, you know how blinking works, okay.
Nick Stuart: Not sure what Gamble’s game is here.
Richard Parker: Have you ever been carried around like that before? Like you’re a sack of human potatoes? It takes a lot out of you. Give the man a chance to rest before the match starts, whydontcha.
Elvis Nixon shrugs and signals the timekeeper.
Nick Stuart: Well the bell has sounded, so that means this match is officially underway.
Richard Parker: Hit the snooze bar, Tony!
What follows is an awkward moment where nothing happens. I would say literally nothing, but that’s not true, because time still advances, people breathe, whatever. The crowd begins to grow restless, as does at least one of the people in the ring.
Nick Stuart: If this is some sort of mind game, it seems to be working. Dusk starting to pace here.
Richard Parker: If this is some sort of mind game, then Gamble should know that Dusk’s brains are mush.
Nick Stuart: Can you be civil about this please?
Richard Parker: What? Just saying there’s not a lot to work with.
But, the bell did sound, so this is an official match. Which means it’s fair game when Dusk finally shrugs and tries to make a pin.
Richard Parker: See?! Like candy from a baby. Or a man who wears diapers. Same thing.
Only to get caught in a quick roll-up, complete with a handful of tights.
Nick Stuart: Smart play by Gamble, but it only manages to get a one-and-a-half. And it looks like he got caught for holding the tights!
Nixon admonishes Gamble, who is now on his knees after Dusk’s kickout. From the way the conversation is going, it appears as though he is trying to argue that his hand simply got stuck in Dusk’s gear. Astute observers will see that he very clearly mouths the phrase “Beetlejuice pants” as part of this exchange.
Dusk moves in, but Gamble immediately rises to his feet and flicks him in the eye before Elvis Nixon can get into position.
Nick Stuart: Blatant disregard for the rules right off the hop by Tony Gamble!
Nick. Buddy. Just you wait.
Richard Parker: That’s “PRIME Hall of Famer” Tony Gamble, to you, sir.
Nick Stuart: And he’s in there with another man who very well may join him in that shrine, Richard. It’s no secret that Dusk’s career is winding down, and when he finally hangs them up there’s a damn good chance he’s on the first ballot!
Richard Parker: I wouldn’t vote for him.
Elvis Nixon checks with The Grin on whether or not he did something illegal (he did), but Gamble denies it (he’s full of shit). When Nixon turns to check on Dusk, Gamble quickly reaches past him and flicks the Lost Soul in the other eye.
Yeah, it’s going to be one of those.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on!
Richard Parker: ‘Ol Red Eyes really living up to the nickname early on, wouldn’t you say?
A few minutes into the match, and a single wrestling move hasn’t been executed yet. Elvis Nixon is already well and truly Over This Shit.
Gamble doesn’t give him a chance for another lecture, instead pushing past him and landing a series of hard punches to Dusk before the world returns to focus. A hard kick to the midsection follows, which drives the Lost Soul back into the corner, where Gamble unloads with a series of chops.
Richard Parker: Dusk’s chest is about to be as red as those eyes.
Nick Stuart: The man is a living legend in this sport, and the indignity he’s suffered so far in this match is ridiculous.
Dammit, Nick. I said WAIT.
A suplex out of the corner takes Dusk to the mat. Instead of going for a cover, Gamble rises to his feet and snaps an elbow drop down across the throat of the former Intense Champion. A second and third follow. The Grin could try to pin his opponent here, but instead kneels next to Dusk and waves a hand in front of his face. When Dusk doesn’t respond, Gamble points to Dusk, then gestures to his own eyes and shrugs at Elvis Nixon. The message here is, “I don’t think he can see me.”
Before either Dusk or Nixon can react, Gamble’s hand extends lightning quick. Flick.
This time it’s in plain view of the referee, who finally gets to give his first proper lecture of the night. Not that it matters, but at least he gets to feel good about himself for a while, and maybe dodge a lecture of his own from Timo later on.
Nick Stuart: (starts to speak)
Richard Parker: Okay, before you say anything, what if Gamble is just trying to help Dusk fix one of his contact lenses?
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Richard Parker: Maybe there’s a mosquito that we can’t see, and he just wants to make sure that Dusk doesn’t catch the West Nile virus. He’s right on the edge of that “might die from this” demographic, you know.
Gamble hits the ropes and rebounds looking for a leg drop, but despite being flicked in the eye three times already Dusk is able to roll out of the way and Gamble his only air. Well, air and his ass against the mat, but that last part was going to happen regardless. Look, it’s how leg drops work, okay?
Moving with the speed of a man who doesn’t have dinner at 4pm, Dusk bolts in and drills Gamble square in the mush with a shining wizard. The move rocks Gamble, because of course it does. Getting that close to the squishy bits of a man old enough to have sat front row at the Crucifixion would rattle anyone. Also Dusk hits really hard. That’s probably the key takeaway from all of this, in fact.
Dusk gets to his feet, and pulls Gamble in. A piledriver puts The Grin right back down.
Richard Parker: This is just awful. Dusk of all people should know of the danger that concussions can pose!
Nick Stuart: I want to ask if you’re serious right now. I won’t, but I want to.
A savvy veteran of the squared circle, Gamble rolls out of the ring to the arena floor, but Dusk gives chase.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know if I’d follow him out there. This has to be a trap. There is no way that Gamble isn’t planning something.
Richard Parker: In fairness, Dusk is probably going senile. Maybe he thinks Gamble is a lost child who needs help finding his way home.
Meanwhile, Gamble immediately lifted the ring apron and crawled under the ring.
Nick Stuart: I will never understand how your brain works, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh, really? You think you’re a cakewalk to figure out? Why am I getting Bath And Body Works gift cards, Nick? I told you they stopped carrying my favorite scent years ago! Rest in power, Almond Blossom.
And when Dusk lifts that same side of the apron to give chase, he’s met with a billowing cloud of smoke.
Nick Stuart: You have got to be kidding me.
Richard Parker: No, I’m serious. You can’t even buy it online now.
Nick Stuart: That’s NOT what I mean.
Unless you’re new – and if you are, then welcome to PRIME; shit gets weird here – then you know that the Lost Soul has a certain affinity for smoke machines. This is the polite way of saying, “he used one this one time and no one will let him forget it ever.”
So guess where the smoke under the ring came from.
Nick Stuart: Just like I said, Richard. Gamble had a trap planned, and Dusk walked right into it.
Richard Parker: I bet he walks into a lot of things, though. The ‘ol eyesight gets a little weak as you get older.
For a moment Dusk is obscured by smoke. What follows is the sound of a loud crunch – say, the sound a smoke machine would make if you were to bash someone in the face with it – and then Dusk staggers out of the cloud with a brand new cut on his forehead. He’s also holding his crotch. The Vegas faithful are none too pleased about this development.
Nick Stuart: Blatant cheating again by Tony Gamble!
Richard Parker: Blatant? I don’t know what you saw, but all I watched was a foggy boi stagger around the ring.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! It’s clear that Gamble took a shot with that fog machine.
Richard Parker: First rule of wrestling, Nick – if the ref don’t see it then it don’t count.
This doesn’t stop Elvis Nixon from lambasting Gamble as he rolls into the ring. It’s his job to maintain the rules, after all, and right now those rules seem to have flown right out the window and into the engine of a passing 747. Everyone on that plane is dead now.
Gamble just holds up a finger to silence Nixon, then walks over to the ropes closest to Dusk and begins pantomiming a slow count to ten. After the four-count, he glances back over to Nixon then gestures to Dusk. Begrudgingly, Nixon complies and begins a count of his own.
Nick Stuart: This is ridiculous.
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble very clearly planted that under the ring, and then very clearly hit Dusk with it!
Richard Parker: You’re making a lot of assumptions, buddy.
Nick Stuart: Well then how do you explain what else we saw, because it’s also clear that he hit a low-blow on Dusk in the commotion.
Richard Parker: I dunno, enlarged prostate? Men of a certain age…
Nick Stuart: Oh god enough already!
It’s here where Dusk slides into the ring, having gained a few extra seconds because of the argument between Gamble and Nixon. He tries to push himself up to his feet, but is immediately caught in a front facelock by Gamble, and snapped down with a DDT. He wastes no time in going for the cover afterwards.
Richard Parker: What do you have to say about that, Nick? Gamble is an honorable man, trying to end this match honorably in the middle of the ring. Honorable.
Nick Stuart: Sometimes I just can’t with you.
The crowd collectively holds its breath, and then roars a sigh of relief as Dusk manages to get his shoulder up a hair away from the three count. Gamble tries to protest, but the smile on Nixon’s face as he explains how counting works is visible from the last row of the arena.
Nick Stuart: Dusk will not be denied!
Richard Parker: Denied what? Medicare coverage? Enrollment in the AARP?
The chants start to build, slowly at first and then picking up steam.
DUSK! DUSK! DUCK? DUSK!
Richard Parker: Oh no. Nick, I might be hallucinating, because I swear to god I just heard one guy chant “duck”.
Dusk pushes himself back to his feet, but Gamble doesn’t give him room to breathe. A right hand from The Grin is blocked, and Dusk lands a forearm shot of his own. A second right is blocked, and a second forearm lands. Then a third. Then a fourth. Within seconds, a flurry of strikes connect with Gamble’s jaw, staggering him back. Gamble charges with a clothesline, but Dusk ducks deftly, dodging destruction despite the dire, debilitating damage done to his dome to date. Gamble’s momentum takes him to the opposite ropes, but as he rebounds Dusk is waiting, connecting with a thundering spinebuster and a cover of his own.
Nick Stuart: Now it’s Dusk’s turn with the cover! Nixon with the count!
Richard Parker: No! Hit him with another smoke machine Tony!
Nick Stuart: I knew it!
Richard Parker: I meant allegedly!
The crowd lets out a collective, “Oooohh” as Gamble gets his shoulder up. Because, and here’s the thing, as he was being covered Gamble positioned his arm strategically, so that when his shoulder came up his arm caught Dusk right in the sensitive bits. And he did this away from the prying eyes of Elvis Nixon, so that he wouldn’t get disqualified for it.
Nick Stuart: Again? AGAIN?!
Richard Parker: What? He kicked out. Got that shoulder up. Since when is that against the rules?
For what feels like the tenth time this match, Elvis Nixon has words with Tony Gamble. Gamble, true to form, is in full denial mode, swearing up and down that all he did was kick-out. Technically, he’s correct, but we all know the truth, Tony.
Dusk, still tender from the shot he suffered earlier in the match, looks irate. He uses the ropes to pull himself up, and doesn’t wait for Gamble and Nixon to finish their conversation. As soon as he sees an opening, he takes it. The crowd erupts.
Nick Stuart: Superkick! The patented Dusk superkick! Delivered with pinpoint accuracy!
Luckily for Elvis Nixon, he’s done for the night after this match, which will give him time to change his underwear. The kick, connecting hard with the side of Gamble’s face, came dangerously close to Nixon’s own jaw.
Richard Parker: Did you see that, Nick? He tried to assault the referee! Maybe he needs glasses. Did you see Tony trying to help check his eyesight earlier? Truly a man of the people.
Nick Stuart: Will you stop!
Now it’s Dusk’s turn to play. He doesn’t move to cover Gamble, and instead waits for him to slowly get back to wobbly feet. And then…
Nick Stuart: Another superkick! Dusk trying to send a message tonight.
Richard Parker: Smoke machines can’t also send faxes. Get it? Because old.
The cover is made, and the count begins.
Nick Stuart: I think this could be all!
Richard Parker: I think Lindsay Troy’s office should levy a hefty fine against Dusk for almost striking an official!
Richard Parker: A hefty. Fine.
DING DING DING
Dusk moves to the corner for a post-match celebration on the second rope while Tony Gamble’s world slowly comes back into focus. If you think Elvis Nixon is smiling, well congratulations! You’re correct. There is no prize, and you win nothing. Good day, oh reader mine.
Nick Stuart: Dusk has taken this match, and with it the first name is crossed off of his list!
Richard Parker: Bucket list, more like.
Nick Stuart: I know the fans are wondering what the other names might be, and we here at the broadcast desk are just as curious.
Richard Parker: My money’s on Father Time and The Grim Reaper.
Nick Stuart: What a great match that was between Dusk and Tony Gamble, as Dusk continues his farewell tour.
Richard Parker: Wish he’d just say goodbye already.
Nick Stuart: And now we go…wait. Hold on.
Richard Parker: What’s going on, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I just heard there’s something going on in the backstage area. We’re getting cameras there right now, but it sounds like an unauthorized person has broken in backstage.
Richard Parker: That’s happened a few times before, I’m sure security will handle it.
Nick Stuart: Looks like we’ve got the cameras ready, so what’s – oh my God.
The first thing we see is a door – or at least half of one. It’s splintered down the middle, the white shreds hanging off the hinges as it swings lazily. In front of it is a huddle of Enemigos as they all seem to be preoccupied with something. Within a few seconds it becomes clear what that something is as one by one they fall to stiff punches. As they start to shed, we see the 6’6” frame of Paxton Ray, snarling and swinging.
The response from the crowd isn’t quite a boo, though there are a few mixed in there. It is more of a roar containing a multitude of emotions: fear, surprise, anger, excitement. As the crowd noise gets louder, more security try and stop the intruder, and they are all dealt with in turn. Paxton bends down for a moment and is lost in the sea of bodies before emerging with a piece of the broken door.
Nick Stuart: Oh no! This is horrific! Somebody stop him!
Richard Parker: Where the hell is Lindsay Troy?
Paxton continues to trudge forward, now swinging the sharp door fragment. He connects with Enemigo IX, who crumples in a heap as the sharp splinters further. Another Enemigo gets two quick punches in on him, forcing Paxton to drop the door piece before being flooring the Enemigo with an uppercut. As the chaos continues, Biff of the Jimmy Bonafide dancers walks through, staring at his phone, not noticing what is happening.
Nick Stuart: Biff, look up!
Richard Parker: These kids and their phones!
Nick Stuart: He’s fifty–that’s not important right now. BIFF, LOOK UP!
Paxton sees Biff and snatches the phone from his hand. He raises it to his lips as he is grabbed by more Enemigos.
Paxton Ray: He’ll call ya back.
He then tosses the phone, pushes the security away and grabs Biff, tossing him into a nearby wall, where he falls in a heap.
Paxton Ray: Where y’at, Troy?
He looks ahead and smiles, because he thinks he’s seen someone even more fun to…talk to. The camera pans in the direction of Ray’s gaze to find Mark, the man responsible for reigning in King Blueberry (or at least trying very hard to). Mark looks up at Ray, terrified.
Nick Stuart: Not Mark! That young man…he found a note earlier tonight. Do you think…B.B. is Paxton?
Richard Parker: Good chance of that, pal.
Paxton Ray laughs and takes a few steps towards the young man.
Paxton Ray: ‘Sup, Mark.
Backstage Assistant Mark: (whispered) No.
Before he can advance any further, three Enemigos converge at once and begin to turn the tide against the Bayou Butcher. They hit him with punches as one holds Paxton’s arm back. Mark looks on, horrified, but there is another expression on his face as well.
Hope that security is finally detaining the intruder. Hope that this nightmare will be over soon. Hope that he doesn’t have to see Paxton Ray stare at him again.
That hope is fleeting.
Ray breaks free of his grip and grabs two Enemigos, banging their heads together. He swats the third one away and then looks up at Mark, who begins to walk away. The camera catches his pants turning dark and wet.
Backstage Assistant Mark: No! No, no, no, no…
Nick Stuart: This is horrific. Please stop, Paxton! Don’t touch him!
Backstage Assistant Mark: (sobbing) Noooooo! Nononono n- (sob) no!
Paxton snickers as he closes the distance between the two, then puts his hands under Mark’s arms.
Paxton Ray: I’ve wanted t’do this since the day I met ya.
And then he heaves.
Nick Stuart: NO!
Behind Mark there is a small office. The office had a large window where you could see everything going on, and it was empty.
Had a window. Was empty.
Mark Lemon sails through the air, crashing through the window and sending shards of glass everywhere. A rather large shard gets stuck in Paxton’s cheek. He grunts as he fishes it out.
Paxton Ray: Now time to find Troy.
“Well, shit. I hate to tell ya, but she’s busy…”
The gravelly voice off-screen can only belong to one man, and the camera pans slowly to make him known.
The original Bruiser. The ‘Bama Bruiser. The Son of a Bitch himself.
Wade God-Damn Elliott.
Wade’s knuckles crack inside a fist, his thunder-cloud glare burning holes in Ray’s own glowering stare.
Wade Elliott: …but my schedule’s REAL clear.
Paxton Ray: Ya know, coupla months ago I called Melvin “Wade.” Like a lotta things I did recently, that was a lie.
He steps forward a few feet.
Paxton Ray: I know exactly who ya are.
Wade stands firm, despite Paxton’s advance, and snorts through his nose.
Wade Elliott: Boy, if that were true, you would’ve tucked tail an’ skipped town weeks ago.
The Bad Dog takes his turn to step a heavy boot forward.
Wade Elliott: Ain’t nobody comes lookin’ t’start shit with ME.
Paxton laughs. The rest of the security team, standing or otherwise, watches the two square off.
Paxton Ray: I bet ya think that. But this ain’t the past, Wade. And jus’ like that head ref who thinks he can still throw his weight around, ya ain’t learned somethin’.
And now Paxton steps forward again.
Paxton Ray: Ya can’t hang with the actual fighters. And ya definitely can’t hang with me.
Wade Elliott: Son, there’s only two’r three sons’ve bitches worth their salt in this whole God damn buildin’, an’ you ain’t one’ve ’em.
Paxton Ray: Let’s find out then.
Before we can, though, we hear a sound.
That’s the sound of a device that hasn’t been seen in months. A device that King Blueberry gave up freely, and is now in the hands of PRIME CEO Lindsay Troy.
Count Shockula the taser has felled the Bayou Butcher, at least for now.
Wade Elliott: (growling down at Paxton) Maybe next time. You fuckin’ cunt.
Lindsay pockets the weapon and pats Wade on the arm before glaring down at Paxton, who is slightly stirring but not a threat to move.
Lindsay Troy: Get this rat fuck out of my sight.
She lifts her eyes and glances down the hall.
Lindsay Troy: And someone get the EMTs here, for God’s sake!
Nick Stuart: What a brutal scene that was. But it’s over, finally.
Richard Parker: For now, Nick. You heard Shweta last show. Guys like Paxton Ray do not quit. What is he going to try next?
Nick Stuart: I hope you’re wrong, Richard. For all our sakes.
THIRD EYE VISION
We cut backstage, again joining Ria Lockhart. She holds a small business card in her hands. Her gaze is fixed on the item. If she had laser eyes, the thing would’ve been vaporized minutes ago. Her concentration is broken by a voice calling out to her. Ria looks to her right before immediately groaning and throwing her head back frustratedly.
Ria Lockhart: Oh. My. God. Dude, would you just fuck off already?!
The words are directed at one Sage Pontiff, who draws just outside of Ria’s personal space. Fortunately for him, Ria still lacks laser eyes. He has found a shirt–but, in typical fashion for guys like him, it appears to be some manner of short kimono top, entirely open. He bows slightly, his voice honeyed wasteoid creak.
Sage Pontiff: “Truth is not something outside to be discovered, it is something inside to be realized.” Namaste, Ria Lockhart.
She looks like she’s about to speak up–or spit in his face, truth be told–but he holds up a hand. Either by sheer annoyance or his magnetism, she decides to play along.
Sage Pontiff: I grasp that you don’t like what I’ve said to you. From the bottom of my heart, I want to apologize, as it was never my intention to cause you distress. I merely wanted you to embrace the…totality of Ria Lockhart. But I see now that you aren’t ready for that, right? Otherwise, you would embrace the lesson. You would absorb the word. But instead you lash out. Threaten. But I forgive you for that, I really do.
He bows his head slightly, his face the picture of pure Buddha calm.
Sage Pontiff: Oftentimes, truth-tellers are hated for the mere act of telling the truth.
Ria closes the aforementioned personal space between the two. She stares into Sage’s eyes, her own ice blues full of intensity.
Ria Lockhart: A foolish mouse will take advice from a snake. I might not know much about you, but I know enough to not give you the benefit of a doubt. These ‘lessons’ you prattle on about? Garbage. What’s your game? What do you want from me?! Trying to lure me into some kind of alliance? I’m not interested. Attraction? I’m not interested, regardless of how physically attractive you might be. I want actual answers, not this cat and mouse shit!
Sage Pontiff: Alliance, attraction–things, things, things. This world has poisoned you, Ria. It made you think that people only want something, rather than acting altruistically. I only seek to help those on their paths, to offer a new perspective, to heal the troubled spirit. Your mind and your soul are linked together and running in opposite directions, and the face you tell yourself is for the world is really just masking the fact that you’re beginning to tear yourself in two on a metaphysical level. You can despise me, loathe me, rage at me…and at the end of the day, I’ll still be correct. You are a being in disarray. I’m offering you a doorway into a new future. A future where you embrace the parts of yourself that you don’t like to talk about, the parts of yourself you starve. You are incomplete. Take my hand on this journey or don’t, but take the journey. “There are two mistakes one can make on the road to truth: Not going all the way, and not starting.”
Ria scoffs at Pontiff’s words.
Ria Lockhart: You really think I’m gonna believe you have altruistic goals? Please, explain to me why I should trust that? Your word doesn’t mean crap to me. The fact that you’re talking about me being torn in two when there was a period of time in which my mind was fractured into three makes me wanna slap you! I’m not sure what the hell it’s gonna take for you to get it, but you don’t know me. Quite frankly, it sounds like you want to lead me down some path of dark decadence… Been there, done that, have the overpriced t-shirt. I’m on my own journey and I don’t need a tour guide that looks like he showers once a week.
Sage Pontiff: Decadence? Decadence holds no interest for me. But elevation, ascension, becoming more than you are, escaping the mire of who you’ve let yourself become–embracing all that you are, in all of its faceted technicolor glory? That…that interests me.
With this, he places an entirely unwelcome hand on her cheek. Ria’s eyes dart to said hand before growing, resembling golf balls. They lock back onto Sage’s for a nanosecond before Ria launches forward!
Lockhart’s head smashes into Pontiff’s, a vicious headbutt unleashed! Sage’s head whips back, a splash of blood streaking through the air. He drops to a knee, a puddle of plasma forming below his head as it leaks like a loose faucet. He looks up… Blood is oozing out of both nostrils, as well as seeping from a gash on his left eyebrow. He stares up at Ria… and smiles. Ria turns on her heels, storming off, fuming probably less at his words than the fact that he had an effect on her whatsoever. Sage watches her, gathering crimson from his chin and drawing a perfect third-eye circle on his forehead.
Smiling all the while.
INTENSE TITLE: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR (c) vs. JACOB MEPHISTO
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to ReVival and do we have a doozy up next!
Richard Parker: The eGG Bandits are wrestling?
Nick Stuart: No, it’s…you know what? Never mind. Let’s head to the ring for the wrestler introductions.
Richard grumbles under his breath something about “trying to make a joke.” as The Dark Horse Always Wins by Blues Saraceno plays through the arena.
Vince Howard: Coming to the ring, hailing from Nazareth, Pennsylvania…standing six-foot five and weighing in at two hundred and sixty-five pounds…he is JAAAAACOOOOOOOB MEEEEPHIIIIIIIISTOOOOOOOOOOO!
The towering Mephisto steps out from Argyle Position and stands menacingly at the top of the ramp. The fans rain boos down on the dark leader as he strides confidently to the ring.
Nick Stuart: The next match is going to be for the Intense Title which means we will almost certainly see some risks that these two wouldn’t normally take.
Richard Parker: And plenty of blood if history is to be believed.
Mephisto saunters confidently to the ring and slithers into the squared circle. He does a quick lap around, circling Jimmy Turnbull like a vulture.
The arena lights go down and instead of sugar skulls on the PRIMEview, the screen shows Latin mambo legend Tito Puente preparing to perform on stage. His version of “Oye Como Va” begins to play as rainbow colored light strobe the entrance.
Nick Stuart: The Intense Champion is honoring one of the true pioneers in music for US Hispanic Heritage Month!
Richard Parker: Tito Puente is one of my favorite guest stars from The Simpsons.
Nick Stuart: He’s known for much more than that, you know.
The Anglo Luchador struts out from Argyle Position, Intense Championship belt strapped tightly around his waist, holding his Fighting for Jonathan shirt close to his abdomen. He stops at the top of the ramp and raises his arms, soaking in the cheers.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, hailing from Philadelphia, PA…standing six feet and weighing in at two hundred and eleven pounds…The Intense Champion…THE AAAAAAANGLOOOOO LUUUUUCHADOOOOOOR!
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador, not only honoring Jonathan Rhine tonight, but also, I’m told, honoring his trainer, Pedro Santamaria, better known as the most successful Puerto Rican luchador ever, “El Mofongo.” Puente is his favorite artist and a Puerto Rican himself.
Richard Parker: I heard Rhine can move his hands now. Hopefully he’s making a wank motion at this shameless pandering.
Nick Stuart: Why do you hate The Anglo Luchador so much?
Richard Parker: Ask Hoyt.
The luchador takes his time slapping hands along the aisle, taking time to look into the ring at his challenger cautiously. He reaches ringside area, leaps up to the apron, and stares daggers at Jacob Mephisto.
Jimmy Turnbull checks over both competitors in a useless gesture, as there are basically no rules, and motions for the bell and the match is underway.
The Luchador knows he won’t match power with Mephisto and instead of engaging him in a direct assault, he drops to the canvas and rolls out of the ring. He wastes no time in flipping up the apron and pulling out a weapon, in this case a wooden chair. He rolls back into the ring and motions for Jacob to come at him. The ominous man smiles and circles off to his left, planning his first move.
Nick Stuart: Interesting move, going for the wooden chair. Not something you usually associate with our sport.
Richard Parker: Wood is going to hurt more, in my opinion.
Nick Stuart: Explain.
Richard Parker: Think about it, splinters, shattering, more weight behind the chair. The Anglo Luchadore is diabolical and needs to be stopped.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure I agree with any of those statements, Richard.
Richard looks skyward.
Richard Parker: It’s OK Hoyt, he will be converted.
Back in the ring, The Anglo Luchador and Mephisto are playing a game of chicken in the ring. They continue to circle and Jacob steps in only to hop back quickly once the chair is brandished. Finally, he decides he has had enough monkeying around and bullrushes the luchadore. The Anglo Luchador swings for all he is worth, but only gets a part of his shoulder as the chair explodes into a cacophony of splinters and shards. Mephisto grimaces as he takes the blow, but leaves the luchador with nothing but fragments of the chair back to fight with. He grasps The Anglo Luchador in a clinch and drops the smaller man to a knee with a family-size headbutt.
Richard Parker: Speaking of family size, where do you stand on the bulk warehouse store debate, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Richard. Aren’t they all the same thing?
Richard Parker: What? You can’t be serious, first off there is the meat counter…
Back in the ring, Jacob still has a handful of The Anglo Luchador’s mask and he methodically drops to a knee and transitions into a neck crank headlock. The luchadore flails a bit and tries in vain to break up the hold.
Finally The Anglo Luchador puts a foot up and stands, bringing Jacob with him and he drops a couple elbows into the larger man’s breadbasket before pushing him off into the ropes. The Anglo Luchador runs the opposite direction to pick up steam, but is met with a huge power forearm that launches the smaller man up and over the ropes onto the floor outside the ring.
Nick Stuart: Ok, so the seafood is better at one versus the other but can’t you get a fresher hamburger and two-packs of broiler chickens at the other?
Richard Parker: They want you to think that, but they offset the cost by adding filler and food coloring.
Nick Stuart: They add food coloring to the meat?
Richard Parker: Not just food coloring, but meat glue too. It’s a perfect capitalist venue. Praporshcik Stanislav would be sickened…
Mephisto works his way outside of the ring, sneaking up on The Anglo Luchador. The smaller man is just getting to his feet after being dumped outside the right. Jacob attempts to swing only to have the luchador duck under and deliver a right, then a left, then a right, then a left, then a…well you get the idea. As he does his best Rocky impersonation, Mephisto wobbles on his feet until The Anglo Luchador grabs his arm and whips him into the fan barricade. The metal creaks and crashes as the large man splashes into it.
Nick Stuart: OK, that is fair but what about the toilet paper? Thirty standard rolls worth of toilet paper for twenty four dollars is a great deal in this economy.
Richard Parker: Please, the detergent is where the real savings is at. You’re doing amateur hour on the paper products. Literally flushing money down the toilet.
Nick Stuart: But detergent goes down the drain!
Richard Parker: It’s not a perfect analogy, OK? You haven’t lived until you’ve bought a two gallon jug of detergent. I’ve been washing clothes with the same container for four years…
The Anglo Luchador goes digging for treasure under the ring once again and he comes out with…a basketball? He starts to dribble the ball back and forth, showing off his sick handles before cocking back and launching the ball at Mephisto, hitting him square in the face and drawing an audible OOOOOOH from the crowd.
Jacob goes down holding his face, blood streaming from between his fingers. The luchador runs forward and deftly leaps up to the ring apron before running off the raised platform and delivering an elbow strike to the top of the kneeling man’s head. Mephisto groans loudly and shakes the misty tears from his eyes, revealing a bloody nose from the ball.
Richard Parker: I once did a lap around the store and ate at every kiosk, and the store was so big that by the time I got all the way around the old ladies had forgotten who I was and let me go around a second time. I spent seven and a half hours doing this before they finally kicked me out.
Nick Stuart: Yeah? Well I scanned my member card at thirty six digital kiosks in one day and received an assortment of products ranging from tire plugs to gummy dinosaurs to a one ounce tube of edible liniment.
Richard Parker: I didn’t even have a membership at the time.
Nick Stuart: You fiend!
Richard Parker: *whispers* I think that’s a different show, Nick.
The Anglo Luchador pulls a table from under the ring, not one of those flimsy particle board tables, but a true genuine level plastic folding table, and he sets it up at ringside. An angry Mephisto lunges forward and grabs the luchador by the neck with both hands, lifting him up and blasting him through the plastic table. It blows apart with a booming thud and lays broken at the hinges with The Anglo Luchador gritting his teeth and coughing on top of it.
The leader of the family rolls out and nurses the blood streaming from his nostrils by pinching the bridge of his nose. He lays several boots into the fallen luchador for the earlier blow and starts looking around for another way to incapacitate his foe. Shortly thereafter he finds a production member and steals a rather expensive looking camera from them.
Nick Stuart: You know what impresses me? The quality of the store branded items.
Richard Parker: I’ve read that they both come from the same place.
Nick Stuart: Where did you read that? I haven’t heard anything like that.
Richard Parker: Mike McGee’s personal blog. He talks about some interesting things like receiving practices, worker compensation for extended leave of absence, and my personal favorite: “Rollin’ the dice on store made sushi rolls”…
The Anglo Luchador gets to his feet holding the rail and gets waffled hard in the face by a video camera. As he goes down to the ground, he begins to bleed from the wound that he received from Jace Parker Davidson a couple of weeks ago. Mephisto smirks, clearly deliberate in his attack, knowing they will have to restitch the wound that had previously been just closing.
Jacob grabs The Anglo Luchador and rolls him back into the ring. The luchador is clearly seeing the wear of multiple recent battles on his body, and he struggles to stand up under his own power. Mephisto looks to grasp his opponent into a DDT position and stops for a moment to savor the boo’s of the crowd.
Nick Stuart: Look, nobody is saying you can’t get a six pound vat of Crisco at this place ok? I just don’t see why anyone would need that!
Richard Parker: Oh don’t act like you’ve never needed six pounds of rendered oil, Nick. I bet you are a butter flavored man.
Nick Stuart: As it so happens, yes I do like the buttery flavor best. But that is hardly here nor there. A real shopper just gets the two pack of vegetable oil. It’s six quarts of goodness.
Richard Parker: Six pounds of Crisco!
Nick Stuart: Six Quarts of Vegetable Oil!
Richard Parker: Six Pounds of Crisco…
A Mephisto stalls, it allows The Anglo Luchador to slip free and headbutt Jacob right in the breadbasket. As Mephisto stumbles back with the wind knocked out of him, the old luchador scrambles to find any weapon he can, which happens to be a shard of the broken wooden chair from the beginning of the match. He swings it forward in a stabbing and Jacob barely dodges being impaled like some sort of ersatz Dracula.
The luchador swings again, and this time rakes it across Mephisto’s back, gouging a ravine into his lumbar region. The Anglo Luchadore watches Jacob trip forward and grab his back, then quickly rolls out of the ring. He goes for the real deal this time and “borrows” a steel chair from a ring assistant.
Richard Parker: I bought a forty count of AA batteries for eighteen dollars!
Nick Stuart: I bought a sixty seven and a half ounce box of Cheez-Its!
Richard Parker: Two Piece Mango Wood Lantern Set!
Nick Stuart: Five pack of boxer briefs!
Richard Stuart: Three hundred and sixty five tablets of non-drowsy allergy medication!
Nick and Richard at the same time: A HOTDOG AND SODA FOR A BUCK FIFTY!
Nick Stuart: Wait, you go to the same store I do?
Richard Parker: The one over by The University Medical Center?
Nick Stuart: YES!
Back in the ring, The Anglo Luchador slides in behind Mephisto and watches, circling behind. Jimmy Turnbull watches, ready to count at any moment. As Jacob turns around, he takes a huge shot to the head from the chair, but stays on his feet. The old luchador cocks back and swings again, denting the chair and dropping Mephisto to a knee and his head toward the mat.
A trickle of blood starts to run down Mephistos face now, and even though one would swear it should be black, it is indeed red. The patriarch lifts his head defiantly and sprays a gob of blood from his nose on the mat, begging the old luchador to hit him again.
Jacob locks eyes with The Anglo Luchador, smiling as he is hit for the third time with the steel chair over the head. As TAL drops into a pinning position, he reaches over, grabbing Mephisto’s leg and steps over the other leg in a hook and pin to insure that his opponent will not kick out easily.
Jimmy Turnbull slides into position, drops to the mat and lifts his hand to make the count.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Here is your winner…and STILL Intense Champion…THE AAAAAAANGLOOOOO LUUUUUCHADOOOOOOR!
“Oye Como Va” plays and The Anglo Luchador gingerly makes his way out of the ring and up the ramp, victorious, as Jacob Mephisto receives medical care in the ring.
Nick Stuart: A fine match tonight folks. Despite Jacob Mephisto’s best effort, The Anglo Luchador secures a victory and keeps his belt for another day.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe that damn luchador wins again. Well, I guess we both know where Jacob Mephisto can get an industrial sized box of gauze though.
Nick Stuart: Boy do we ever! And with that, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to continue with ReVival!
WE DON’T GET TO BE HEROES
For ten months King Blueberry walked these halls feeling like an outsider. This company was never his home. There were those few months so many years ago spent alongside the Troy Douglases and the Tyler Nelsons, but the less said about that run the better. He was the transfer student, the new kid who didn’t fit in with any of the popular kids, and it would only be a matter of time before he washed out. A bucket of tomatoes and a catapult: that was his legacy.
In contrast, there was the carnival of nightmares that made up Sin City Championship Wrestling, the place where he plied his craft and made his living for three long, torturous years. There was no limit to the violence that roster would inflict on each other, no switch to turn off the suffering. Every week was a challenge, a dare to take it to the next level. He made friends there. He fell in love. He watched in horror as those careers ended, as those relationships were broken. It’s a minor miracle that he never became desensitized to what was happening around him, but the environment bred a cruel familiarity.
Today, the air of the MGM Grand feels different. Today, at long last, this company feels like home.
The ghost of Sin City wanders these halls, baptizing the uninitiated in blood and chocolate.
“I’m not kidding, man. Just what he fuck is happening around here?!”
It’s been mere minutes since Paxton Ray’s assault on PRIME took place. Mark, a backstage assistant working his first real job out of college, is on his way to the Sunrise Hospital, joining a list of PRIME luminaries to make that trek since the end of summer.
One of those men strides alongside the Co-Head of Security, Wade Elliott. King Blueberry – Jared Sykes – had his turn in the ambulance two weeks ago after suffering a particularly devious attack at the hands of the newly-returned Love Convoy, the evidence of which still lingers on his mask. There is no amount of bleach that will remove the stain of chocolate from the white of his mask, a fact he is now acutely aware of. Nor is there anything that will remove the other stain it left him with; the one that eyes can’t see.
King Blueberry: When does this shit stop, Wade? Huh? When the fuck does it stop? Oh, maybe I should be grateful, you know? Because people actually decided to show up and help out tonight. At least nobody’s wasting their energy guarding a fucking belt, as if we’re not in a building with vaults, or like we couldn’t just buy another one. But hey, no one’s done any war crimes yet, so I guess we’re making some fucking progress.
The ‘Bama Bruiser, fresh off his own encounter with Paxton Ray, is less than enthralled with the rant barreling into his ear, and instead continues his long strides forward down the hall, teeth grit behind his grayed beard.
King Blueberry: Hey, you know what? Maybe we can convert Melvin’s old office. Maybe we can install an ‘iron chair’ or a ‘judas cradle’ and just save ourselves the time and trouble of having to do this shit in the ring. “Oh look, it’s torture time. Let’s all go to Melvin’s!” Jesus Christ. How much longer until we get to start our own deadpool? This is Vegas, right? Somebody’s gotta be out there making odds on which member of the roster is the next one to get an all-expenses-paid trip to Sunrise. Who you got, Wade? C’mon. What name you put your money on?
Wade Elliott: IT’S ‘BOUT T’BE YERS IF Y’DON’T SHUT YER GOD-DAMN TRAP!!
The Bad Dog breathes hard through his nostrils, doing his best to settle himself after the outburst.
Wade Elliott: God-damnit…sorry, I’m tryin’ hard t’keep an even keel. Been a tall order ’round here lately…
King Blueberry: Goddamn right it is. And it shouldn’t be, should it? Do you know why it’s this company where I finally put my name on the line to try and help out a friend? Do you know why it’s PRIME and why it was never going to be Sin City? Because I bought into the hype. After a decade I finally came around. I thought that this was the city on the hill, where people might beat each other up – because that’s the business – but at least the inmates weren’t running the goddamn asylum. And now… Now I’m a goddamn liar.
The admission, one that’s more personal than he’d let on, seems to have taken some of the venom out of his voice.
King Blueberry: So what’s the fix? What the fuck do we do now?
The Blue Collar Brawler takes a heavy breath into his chest, pinching his keen blue eyes shut for a second and facing this particular half of the PRIME Tag Team Champions.
Wade Elliott: Sykes, I don’t know what t’hell you remember ‘bout PRIME back in the day, but it’s the same shit, different decade. The stream of assholes was flowin’ real heavy all them years, my own damn self included. Just like it is now.
Wade takes another breath, looking away and shaking his head.
Wade Elliott: There ain’t no fix. It’s the world we chose t’live in and I’m too god-damn old to deal with anymore’n I have to. YER job is t’keep showin’ up in the ring an’ do what ya do.
One last breath through his nose, before clapping a heavy hand on KB’s shoulder.
Wade Elliott: An’ ya gotta trust me t’do mine.
With that, the Bad Dog continues on his journey, leaving Sykes with his thoughts. And perhaps in an odd twist of fate, shoulders his way past the oncoming frame of Hayes Hanlon, who gives Elliott the berth he requires. Hayes walks toward Blueberry, but looks back at Wade lumbering off, before jerking a thumb in Elliott’s direction.
Hayes Hanlon: Is he out of bourbon or something?
The berry offers a weak shrug.
King Blueberry: I hope not. Probably needs a few after the shit he just had to listen to. The last month can fuck off. Just fuck right off.
He presses the palms of his hands into his eyes, trying to block out the faint scent of chocolate that still lingers in his mask.
King Blueberry: This the sort of shit you expected when you signed on? Because lemme tell you, it’s not supposed to be this way.
The Event Horizon, clad in his usual black dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, offers a quizzical eyebrow.
Hayes Hanlon: …really?
If the expression on his face is any indication, this is not the reaction that the Blueberry expected.
King Blueberry: Y-yes?
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, you know I’ve watched every ReVolution ever aired at least three times, right? That’s kinda my whole thing…
King Blueberry: Yeah, no, I get that.
Hayes Hanlon: The not for nothin’, but…this is EXACTLY what I expected.
King Blueberry: Okay, so forgive my ignorance then, because I was never a “here” guy. But the place I came from, this shit was commonplace. I had one friend have their career taken away by a lunatic whose favorite thing to do was smash people with light tubes. Same guy almost ended Coral Avalon’s career, too. If that wasn’t enough, I could tell you about the time a friend of mine had a paper with the phrase “Office Slut” written on it stapled to her chest because she didn’t want to see me get hit with any more chairs. That’s not even the worst that she suffered…
He draws in an uneven staccato breath, trying to force aside the memories of what happened with the rusted nail.
King Blueberry: So maybe I’m the idiot. Maybe I’m the dumbass for thinking that shouldn’t be the norm. But, shit, at least…
“At least no one was ever tortured,” is what he was about to say, until those memories come rushing back as well. It’s not a coincidence the left half of his torso is covered in ink.
King Blueberry: Fine. The business sucks. Doesn’t mean it has to.
The young Hanlon nods, crossing his arms at the chest and leaning against the hallway wall.
Hayes Hanlon: Yeah…but it’s still pretty awesome. Right?
King Blueberry: I mean… it has its moments.
Hayes Hanlon: Don’t get me wrong. Shit like what happened with Rhine is…bad. And wrong. And the worst kind of awful.
Home Run Hayes takes a second, and oddly enough, starts unbuttoning his black dress shirt.
Hayes Hanlon: But without guys like Paxton Ray…
He pulls his shirt open, revealing a black t-shirt underneath. A t-shirt from ReVival 16’s main event. Not the one he wore to the ring, but the one traded from Sykes in the middle of the ring.
The one reading “Fighting for Jonathan”.
Hayes Hanlon: …we don’t get to be the good guys.
It takes a moment before the Blueberry responds. Many times over he opens his mouth to speak, but then seems to think better of it. When the words finally come, they are as true an indicator of the man beneath the mask as any.
King Blueberry: I never wanted to be a good guy, Hayes. I never wanted to do this at all. All of this? It was someone else’s dream.
He clears his throat.
King Blueberry: But we lost him when he was young. We were just kids. So I picked it up. Got it across the finish line, I guess. If I’m anything it’s because I know what he would do, you know?
The first hints of a smile creep onto Jared’s face. It’s faint, barely noticeable, but it is there.
King Blueberry: I think he would’ve liked you.
The dark mustache on Hanlon’s face lifts in a genuine and appreciative smile before he buttons up his shirt, deciding to leave Jared’s last comment alone, and instead shift the subject.
Hayes Hanlon: I was pretty bummed to see our match get screwed over by JC and Vickie and Tristan-Crispin-Clifton-whateverthehell his name is, but…we put on a helluva show…right?
King Blueberry: Definitely gave ‘em their money’s worth, I think.
Hayes Hanlon: Good, because my chest is still a freakin’ MESS. I’m not gonna take that beating every show for nothing.
A short, bordering awkward, but agreeable silence. Hayes offers one more grin and a pat to the arm of Jared Sykes.
Hayes Hanlon: Give em’ hell out there, and gimme a holler when you wanna let the Love Convoy know what’s up. I’ve got skin in that game now, and a powerbomb Sid would be proud of.
The Event Horizon moves along down the hall, leaving Sykes to himself. Jared glances down the hallway, where his partner stands waiting with one belt in each hand. The expression on her face is one of obvious displeasure, like a woman stuck in the rain waiting for the dog to finish its business. The last shades of joy fade from his face once again, and a curse is muttered under his breath as he makes his way down the corridor.
TAG TEAM TITLES: KINGS OF POPSICLES (c) vs. THE MASTERS OF THE MULTIVERSE… B-TEAM
It is now the time on ReVival 17 where we go to the main event.
The PRIME Tag Team Championships are up for grabs, and this time, it is the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team’s turn to try and wrest them from the iron grip of the Kings of Popsicles. That’s why “Let Me Entertain You” by Robbie Williams is on the PA system.
Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz have arrived, and are heading to the ring with palpable excitement. After months and months of hawking food products and making themselves the fly in the ointments of so many on the roster, tonight is going to be their night. At least, they think so. Maybe it’d be better if Randall Schwartz didn’t decide to bring his coffee with him to the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen! This is your MAIN EVENT, and it is for the PRIME TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS! Introducing first, at a total combined weight of three-hundred and third-six pounds… KENNY FREEMAN! RANDALL SCHWARTZ! THEY ARE… THE MASTERS OF THE MUUUUUUUULTIVERRRRRRSE! …B-Team!
The challengers enter the ring, soaking in the dissatisfied noises the crowd are making.
Nick Stuart: This is maybe the biggest match in the careers of the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team so far, Richard.
Richard Parker: Yeah, they’re looking to demonstrate how to make smoothies out of some berries tonight with that thing that I bought from them that definitely didn’t catch on fire and brought out the fire department or anything.
Nick Stuart: Well, after the stunt they pulled at UltraViolence, it’s entirely possible. Well, the smoothie thing, not the other thing you said. That other thing seems more like a guarantee.
Richard Parker: You know, we’re still unsure who those doppelgangers were. I’ve had our best expert in multiversial ethics on the case for weeks. He’s found a lot of nothing, I’ll tell you what.
Nick Stuart: I’m reluctant to ask, but… who are you talking about?
Richard Parker: Wade, of course.
Nick Stuart: …Why him?
Richard Parker: Look, in retrospect, maybe don’t accept his offer to go get blackout drunk with the guy, because then you’ll think that you’re actually crossing dimensions. I’ve seen things, Nick. The kind of stuff that makes a man question what’s real.
It’s very uncharacteristic for the Kings of Popsicles to not enter the ring to a cavalcade of nonsense, but this is where we find ourselves. The reasons for this are many, but the short version is that things are not what they once were in the kingdom of the berries.
Lights. Music. “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.”
You know the drill by now.
Justine Calvin, the woman who until recently had been under the mask of “Reina Raspberry”, is first through the curtain. As before her face is clearly visible. The mask is gone, likely forever. In its place is a scowl. Look, it’s been a shit few weeks, and she’s not great at masking her emotions.
Vince Howard, let ‘em know.
Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring, and hailing from Boston, Massachusetts…
Ever since the Great American Nightmare, poor Vince has had to contend with a slew of garbage from one half of this team. Specifically, the dork who keeps giving him really bizarre stats as part of the introduction. Tonight, the smile on his face is visible from space.
Vince Howard: At a total combined weight of one-hundred and twenty-two pounds plus, “I’m sorry for the last few months, Vince. My partner is a moron.”
Normally she and her partner move together, but tonight she’s halfway to the ring before he appears. The only indicators that they’re a team at all are the matching straps they carry, and the “Fighting For Jonathan” tee shirts that both are sporting.
Vince Howard: Justine Calvin… King Blueberry… THE KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGS OOOOOOOF POP-SICLLLLLLLLLES!!!
The camera catches a very obvious eye-roll at the announcement of the name. In her defense, it’s a stupid name.
Justine reaches the ring first, wasting no time in pulling off her tee shirt to reveal ribs that have been heavily bandaged. Kinesio tape criss-crosses over her left shoulder and onto her bicep, where it ends before a wrapped elbow. The mark of the Hall family’s attack provide a series of targets for the Masters to focus on.
In comparison, her partner doesn’t sport the same outward markings, but his wounds are no less severe. Her injuries will heal. He’ll carry his forever.
King Blueberry paces around the apron as though unable to control himself. He wants to be in the ring to start the match, but Justine won’t budge. In fact, she’s already got her hands up as though she’s ready to start the fight. She’s ignoring him.
With Randall Schwartz on the apron, PRIME senior referee Timo Bolamba called for the match to begin.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Reina Raspb—sorry. This is Justine Calvin out here tonight, and she’s definitely ready to go against Kenny Freeman here.
Richard Parker: Is it just me, or is there not a lot of communication between those two? Do you need to be a berry to properly communicate to other berries?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s how it works, Nick.
Kenny Freeman and Justine Calvin circle one another for a bit, before locking up. Though Kenny is one of the smaller performers in PRIME, even he had a size advantage on Justine. He manages to grab a side headlock on Justine, and starts grinding it in. However, he’s quick to turn his attention to King Blueberry out on the apron, and just as quick to start taunting him.
There’s murder on the mind of Jared Sykes, and Kenny Freeman is unknowingly making himself a volunteer for it.
Blueberry has one leg through the ropes before Justine slips out of the side headlock, and grabs one of her own. She shoots her own tag team partner a dangerous look, annoyed that he’s already considering getting in the ring. After a few moments of Kenny trying to get out of the hold, he’s forced to push Justine into the ropes to force the break.
That’s when King Blueberry tags himself in.
If looks could kill, Justine Calvin would’ve been wanted in at least thirty-six states, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. King Blueberry steps into the ring and makes a beeline for Kenny. Kenny, wisely realizing that he’s in danger of getting into more trouble than he’s bargaining for in this situation, decides to take a powder out on the floor.
Richard Parker: That’s the ticket! Just make him stew!
Nick Stuart: Can’t win the titles on the floor, Richard.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but…
It doesn’t help him.
The moment Kenny thinks he’s safe on the outside, here comes King Blueberry, flying like a majestic piece of fruit lobbed at a comedian. He flies over the top rope, lands on the apron, and then leaps off with a clothesline on Freeman, taking him to the ground.
Randall Schwartz watches as this unfolds from his perch on the apron, and decides that he needs to intervene. He hops off of the apron and goes to stop Blueberry. Of course, the moment Blueberry sees he’s there, he shoots a wilting glance towards the Entertainer that causes him to back off. He backs off even further when Blueberry starts to stalk after him.
Then it becomes full on running away in terror.
Nick Stuart: Randall Schwartz doesn’t want any part of King Blueberry right now, and I can’t say as I blame him!
Richard Parker: Tactical withdraws, Nick!
Schwartz is almost to the entrance ramp, but Blueberry has turned his attention back to Freeman. A contemptuous kick to his head is followed up by throwing him back into the ring. Inside the ring, a very visibly frustrated Justine Calvin is forced to exit to the apron, watching Blueberry dismantle Kenny Freeman in the ring. He picks up Kenny and drops him with a snap suplex, hard enough that Kenny’s body bounces back to his feet and then tumbles into the ropes.
Kenny is wobbly as he uses the ropes to get up after being violently suplexed, and Blueberry looks to beat him down more.
Or, he would, if Justine doesn’t take the opportunity to tag herself back into the contest.
Nick Stuart: Justine tags herself in!
Richard Parker: Even with the mask, I can tell from Blueberry’s expression that he’s not happy about that.
Indeed, when Justine enters the ring, Blueberry is visibly upset that he isn’t allowed to do more murder on the B chapter of the Masters of the Multiverse. Justine pays him no mind and goes to collect Freeman. That’s when Blueberry, perhaps acting in the heat of the moment, grabs hold of Justine to spin her around to face him again.
Justine’s visible frustration turns to anger, even as Blueberry tries to plead his case to let him continue beating on Kenny Freeman.
And this, finally, gives Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz the opportunity they’d been waiting so long for. The opportunity to turn their fortunes around and take the tag team championships off of the Kings of Popsicles. Randall Schwartz sneaks back into the ring and clobbers Justine from behind. The momentum of this carries into Blueberry, and takes both Kings down.
Nick Stuart: Cheapshot from Schwartz!
Richard Parker: You call it cheap! I call it a brilliant tactical decision!
Randall takes advantage by literally kicking Blueberry out of the ring. Then he grabs Kenny by the wrists and physically drags him back to his corner. Once he does, he steps back out of the ring, grabs the tag rope, and tags himself into the match.
Randall Schwartz hasn’t developed much of a reputation as pro wrestler, when you get down to brass tacks. Everything he’s done up to this point is built on cowardice and pragmatism. Tonight is different. Tonight, he is a shark that got a whiff of blood. Justine is back to her feet, but doesn’t see Randall, who keeps himself out of her field of vision until he strikes.
It’s a chop block party, baby.
Nick Stuart: Randall Schwartz is going right after Justine Calvin’s knee here!
Richard Parker: Well, that can’t be good for her. She needs that for things! Like, uh. Walking.
Justine hits the canvas clutching her knee, and Randall stands up and, uh… “entertains”. Which is to say that he does an exaggerated bow for the crowd that is booing him. Then he goes back on the attack, hitting Justine with several boots to the knee and then the head. Outside of the ring, Blueberry’s recovered enough to hop back onto the apron, but his attempts to get back into the ring to continue murdering the Masters of the Multiverse hit a snag when Timo Bolamba has to physically stop him.
After all, he’s not the legal man.
You know who isn’t the legal man, either? Kenny Freeman.
Kenny gets back into the ring, and he and Freeman do some double teaming. A double snap suplex is next followed up by something the Masters hadn’t ever done before now. Schwartz stands with his back to the downed ex-Raspberry, and Freeman runs into the ropes. On the rebound, Schwartz hits a back body drop on his own partner. Which, naturally, leads to him landing on Justine.
Nick Stuart: Senton by Freeman!
Richard Parker: I hadn’t seen that from these guys before!
Freeman slides out of the ring after impact, allowing Schwartz to make the cover. Timo manages to catch sight of the cover while he’s keeping Blueberry from jumping into the ring, and dives to make the count.
But it only gets two.
Randall’s real mad about it. He starts arguing with Timo about the speed of the count, then about how he got there late, and then about his face paint.
Nick Stuart: Randall’s not getting anywhere arguing with our senior referee.
Richard Parker: He probably thinks Timo could’ve counted to forty-six. I know, very specific number. That’s because that’s the latest build for the Food-O-Matic 3000. The Mark 46. This one only has a 46% failure rate!
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: I… I don’t know what just happened. It’s like the power of the PRIME Commissioners of Food and Beverage took me over!
Nick Stuart: For God’s sakes, control yourself!
Speaking of control, Randall still has that. He grabs Justine in a chinlock, and drags her over to the Masters’ side of the ring. Kenny slaps Randall on the back to tag himself in. Once he’s in, he collects Justine and snaps her up and over with a quick back suplex. Justine lands and rolls to her stomach. Kenny doesn’t take advantage yet. Instead, he puts a boot on the back of Justine’s neck and poses in the direction of King Blueberry.
Blueberry immediately tries to get in the ring again for murders.
And once again, he has to be stopped by Timo.
And once again, the Masters of the Multiverse (the B chapter thereof) were taking full advantage of that. Randall Schwartz entered the ring, loudly clapping his hands to signify the phantom tag. Then he walked into the ring and both he and Freeman started kicking Justine while she was down.
Nick Stuart: Uh, Timo! Turn around, Timo!
He doesn’t until Freeman’s already out of the ring, pretending that the Masters had made the tag. Timo questions it for a moment, but when both Randall and Kenny clap their hands to signify that they tagged, Timo does his best Mills Lane and allows it. Just imagine the GIF and leave me alone.
Anyway, Randall Schwartz pulls up Justine again, picking her up in a fireman’s carry. He looks over at an increasingly irate King Blueberry, smugly smirking at him. Then he backs into the Masters’ corner and lets Kenny tag himself in. Kenny goes down to one knee, and Randall flips Justine over so that she lands back first on Kenny’s knee.
Nick Stuart: Double team backbreaker by the Masters! We haven’t seen them exert this sort of tandem offense before in PRIME, Richard!
Richard Parker: Just proves that if you give someone the opportunity, they’ll pull out something new. It’s for all the marbles, Nick. Those tag titles would be huge for the Masters! They might actually graduate to being the A-Team if they win!
Justine is in a lot of trouble, but she isn’t giving up. She kicks out of Freeman’s pin attempt at two. She does it in such a way that she’s trying to break away from Freeman and reach Blueberry in the corner, who is pacing around the corner like he can’t contain himself.
Freeman rather casually gets up and stomps on Justine’s head to stop her from getting any further.
He turns to King Blueberry, and thrusts his hips at him in a gesture that would definitely raise the TV rating of the PRIME broadcast.
And maybe he shouldn’t have taken his eyes off of Justine Calvin in that moment.
She leaps to his back, plants her knees, and then rips Freeman off of his feet.
Nick Stuart: Lungblower by Calvin! Freeman is down, can she make it to her partner for the tag?
Well, here’s the thing.
And as Justine gets closer to the tag, there’s activity behind Blueberry that he doesn’t see – as focused as he is on making the tag. The fans try to warn him just as Justine makes a dive for the tag.
Because Randall Schwartz had crawled under the ring, appearing behind King Blueberry. Just as Justine made the dive, Randall ripped King Blueberry off of the apron and into the guardrail in such a quick, brutal fashion that the only thing Blueberry could do when he landed was fall to the ground and writhe. Maybe gurgle a little. There’s a lot of words used to describe pain, and we might need a thesaurus for what Blueberry is experiencing right now.
Nick Stuart: SCHWARTZ WITH THE CHEAP TACTICS AGAIN! Justine Calvin has no one to tag!
Richard Parker: Brilliant!
Grinning from ear to ear, Randall Schwartz slides into the ring.
None of this escapes the notice of the senior referee, but Randall takes advantage of the five count he has to pull Justine back to the Masters’ side of the ring. Then he gets out so he can make the tag to Kenny Freeman, who’s crawled over to that side of the ring after taking the Lungblower.
Once inside, Randall Schwartz takes the time to mockingly dance around, shuffling from foot to foot, as he makes his way in front of Justine to cut her off from making the crawl to the corner again. Thus, she reaches Schwartz’s ankle instead of her corner.
Schwartz seizes her, and puts her in a standing headscissors. A piledriver seems likely. However, Schwartz takes his sweet time savoring the moment. He’s just a moment away from taking the tag straps off of the Kings of Popsicles.
But he takes too long.
Nick Stuart: Piledrive—no! Calvin with the double leg takedown! And… a DOUBLE STOMP! Right to the chest of Schwartz!
The act of doing this has both of them down. Justine manages to get to her corner, but sees that her tag team partner still isn’t on the apron, recovering from what’d happened earlier. It takes a few moments to realize that Blueberry hasn’t abandoned her completely, and she yells at him to get his shit together and get back up on the apron.
This lets Kenny Freeman get into the ring to try and stop anything from happening, paying no heed to any of the senior referee’s warnings about possible disqualification. No, he had to stop this now. He catches up to Justine and grabs her in a waistlock. He manages to bodily pull her back into the center of the ring. However, his German suplex is countered when Justine uses her agility to land on her feet. She backs up, stumbling, into the Masters’ corner. When Kenny gets up, thinking he’d solved all of the B-Team’s problems, and eats a delicious shotgun dropkick that sends Kenny blasting off into the corner.
Nick Stuart: Oh my GOD! A HUGE DROPKICK BY CALVIN! This could be her chance!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
Kenny hits the corner like he’d been shot out of a cannon – or a catapult if we’re being on-brand here – and tumbles out to the floor. And just as he’d fallen out… King Blueberry is back on the apron.
But Randall Schwartz is back on his feet. He walks around the ring as though he’s in a daze, using the ropes as a guideline. He finally turns to see Justine making her way to the Blueberry corner, and goes to stop her.
He’s too late.
Nick Stuart: KING BLUEBERRY IS IN!
Richard Parker: No, Randy! Get out of there!
Blueberry leaps over the top ropes, and Randall Schwartz tries to beg off from what’s about to happen.
He gets about a half a second into the begging before Blueberry is on him like he’s waffles. Blueberry hits him with a lariat so hard that Randall almost lands on his head after getting knocked down. Somehow, he’s back up to his feet as though making sure he could still walk after that, and outright stumbles into the waiting arms of Blueberry.
Nick Stuart: Fireman’s carry by Blueberry… into a neckbreaker across the knee!
King Blueberry stands up after the neckbreaker, and looms over Randall Schwartz as though waiting for him to get up. Schwartz knows he’s in danger. He might as well be Ralph Wiggum. Blueberry grabs him in a waistlock, making sure to grab him by the wrist. Then he pushes him out, and like a ripcord, draws him right back into a backdrop driver!
Nick Stuart: Randall Schwartz just got folded like laundry with that backdrop driver!
Richard Parker: Get out of there, Randy!
Randall Schwartz does take the advice for Richard Parker, but maybe unintentionally. It’s more like he slides out of the ring like he was a curling stone, and then falls out of the ring right in front of the commentary desk where Nick and Richard are calling the action.
Blueberry is about to follow him out, and continue beating him around the ringside area. But then there’s Kenny Freeman, back in the ring again. He charges Blueberry from behind, but Blueberry sidesteps him and pushes him chest-first into the ropes. When Kenny bounces back, Blueberry catches him with a snap German suplex!
Kenny overrotates after landing and actually gets a knee under himself, but he’s dizzy from the impact and Blueberry is there to grab him in another waistlock.
It’s during this time that Justine gets back into the fray. She enters the ring and prepares for a double-team move on Kenny Freeman. As Kenny tries to block the German suplex, Justine charges in with the flying knee.
…and blasts King Blueberry in the face with it.
Nick Stuart: Oh! Oh no! King Blueberry just got drilled by his own partner by mistake!
Richard Parker: Phrasing, Nick. Last thing I want to do is think about that berry naked and thrusting.
Nick Stuart: …What!?
Justine looks shocked by it, and then her shock turns to annoyance. Maybe a little self-satisfaction. We’re not sure.
Kenny’s quick to take advantage, either way. He grabs Justine and flings her out of the ring. Then he calls for Randall to get back into the ring while Blueberry is on the ground from the knee strike, while he starts hammering away at Blueberry’s face. One of the blows opens up a gash just over Blueberry’s right eye, visible mainly by the fact that it’s staining the Blueberry mask red as he keeps pounding.
Nick Stuart: Can’t tell if that was Freeman’s punching or Justine’s error, but King Blueberry appears to have been opened up!
Richard Parker: For the record, no one should put ketchup on blueberries. I’m just saying. There’s such a thing as a food crime, and that one’s a capital offense.
Randall’s slow to get in the ring, but he does just in time for Kenny to pick up Blueberry in a fireman’s carry. Randall takes a moment and then charges in.
Nick Stuart: Freeman and Schwartz… with a double team neckbreaker on Blueberry!
Richard Parker: This is it! We’re going to have new champions!
Schwartz, the legal man, flops on top of Blueberry.
Nick Stuart: Blueberry got the shoulder up!
Richard Parker: Only a matter of time before our glorious Food and Beverage Commissioners take this one, Nick! I can feel it! They told me that when they win the tag titles, we’re getting half-off at all participating Arby’s! They have the meats, Nick, and so do the Masters of the Multiverse B-Team!
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: No, I don’t know what meats they have, either. Stop saying ellipses at me.
Nick Stuart: I’m just wondering what Arby’s would participate with the Masters.
Richard Parker: …You know, I never asked. Could be all of them or none of them, and probably no in-between.
Freeman and Schwartz are both aghast by Timo’s count, and start arguing with him about how slow their count is. All Timo does is remind them that only one of them should be in the ring right now, and that’s Randall Schwartz.
So, Kenny obliges him by going out and to the floor to take care of Justine Calvin on the outside.
That leaves Randall Schwartz in the ring to handle Blueberry. Schwartz stomps away at Blueberry’s head in frustration, clearly mad that he’s not staying down. This lasts until Blueberry’s on his hands and knees, at which point, Randall changes tactics. He pushes Blueberry into the ropes, and performs an Irish whip.
Blueberry doesn’t return.
Instead, he dives through the ropes and performing a suicide dive on Kenny Freeman that less resembles the standard tope suicida and seems more like a spear. Kenny hits the ground on his back and rolls onto his stomach from the sheer momentum of taking Blueberry’s suicide dive. Blueberry doesn’t let up on him. Even while on his knees, he crawls over to whatever’s left of Kenny Freeman on the floor and starts beating him over the head with his fists.
Justine gets back onto the apron, but doesn’t see that Randall Schwartz isn’t in the ring any more. He’s gone to the outside, passing by his team’s corner on the way to helping his partner. This is when Randall Schwartz reveals his grand plan to save his partner from the beating he’s receiving.
He throws his coffee at King Blueberry.
Richard Parker: Oh… I don’t like the look in that man’s eyes.
See, here’s the thing about coffee. It’s brown. So is chocolate. The look in King Blueberry’s, more accurately Jared Sykes’, eyes was not of a man who was just mildly inconvenienced by a splash of coffee. It was of a man in desperate need of years of therapy because of an attempted murder by chocolate. A man who wouldn’t react well to getting splashed by a substance of a similar color.
And, well… let’s just say that Jared Sykes isn’t seeing brown right now. No, this is more of a red color. Crimson, really.
Randall Schwartz doesn’t even get a chance to flee in terror this time.
Sykes spears him down and unloads on him on the outside. Rights and lefts, elbows, and then he stands up and stomps on his head many, many, many, so many times. Randall can only defend himself so much, and a few of the blows get through his attempts to protect his head and face.
It gets to the point where Justine has to intervene and pull Jared off of Schwartz, yelling at him to focus before he gets them counted out.
By the way, Timo’s up to eight on the count.
Nick Stuart: Not good! No one wants to get counted out here!
Richard Parker: Not sure that Blueberry guy cares all that much.
Jared manages to get ahold of himself enough to roll back into the ring to break the count, and then he rolls back out to the floor and stomps on Randall’s head some more. Justine has to stop him from actually committing a stomp murder so that they can get Schwartz back into the ring.
Once they’re all back in, Justine argues with Jared again. As she does.
Mind you, they’re having this argument while Jared is outright trying to stand on Randall Schwartz’s face and Timo is trying to make a five count to get him to stop doing that.
Jared gets off of Schwartz right before the five count, and gives Timo a dead-ass glare.
Nick Stuart: King Blueberry is really risking disqualification here.
Richard Parker: It’s like he’s a whole other person after the coffee. Kinda like it, to be honest.
The argument is only stopped when Kenny Freeman reenters the ring. He charges in to try and ambush the two of them again. Justine and Jared both sidestep him, though, and push him through the ropes and to the outside of the ring again.
Nick Stuart: …Well, that happened.
Richard Parker: Yeah.
That’s when Randall Schwartz recovers. He grabs Jared from behind, rolling him up with the Schwartz Special! Justine tries to intervene, but Kenny, on the outside, pulls her by the leg and rips her from the ring.
Schwartz gets his feet on the ropes!
Jared kicks out of the dreaded, most devastating maneuver in all of professional wrestling, and Randall Schwartz can’t believe it. He gets up to try and take advantage, throwing a wild right hand, and…
Oh, that’s nothing.
That’s just the sound of the crowd reacting to Jared spiking Randall Schwartz’s skull onto the mat with a move that resembled a hangman’s neckbreaker if your goal was to actually break someone’s neck.
Nick Stuart: Oh my GOD.
Richard Parker: What the hell was that!?
Nick Stuart: That… I think that’s a neckbreaker driver, and Randall Schwartz is down!
Fortunately for him, he’s still breathing. And moving. Though he wasn’t getting up from that.
On the outside, Kenny Freeman senses that his partner and their chances at tag team glory are both in danger. He tries to slide in, only to be stopped by Justine Calvin, who pulls him right back out to the floor. She jumps back on the apron to assist her partner, but Kenny tries to stop her again, grabbing her leg to try and pull her back to the floor again. That’s when she kicks him in the face. Kenny backs away, dazed, and then…
Nick Stuart: Meteora to the floor by Justine Calvin! Kenny Freeman is down!
In the ring, Jared Sykes has Randall Schwartz right where he needs him. Even with blood dripping from the gash in his eye, he pulls his corpse back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: In the ring! King Blueberry has Randall Schwartz… yes! He just SPIKED him with the Jack LaLanne Driver!
Richard Parker: Oh God! He might be dead!
Sykes covers, and Timo makes the count.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen! The winners of this match! AND STILL! THE PRIME TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS! THE KINGS OF POOOOOOOOOOOOPSICLES!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think anyone expected the kind of fight we saw here tonight, Richard! The Masters of the Multiverse B-Team came so close to winning the titles here tonight, but… something clearly got to King Blueberry!
Richard Parker: Should’ve put extra sugar in that coffee, Nick.
Justine Calvin rolls back into the ring, collecting her half of the tag titles as she goes. Her expression seems cloudy. Still a tag team champion, and yet… there’s still plenty of trouble in the paradise of the Kings of Popsicles.
Nick Stuart: It’s amazing that the Kings of Popsicles have retained here.
Richard Parker: How long is this going to last with their chemistry being so off, though? They weren’t on the same page at all in this match.
Nick Stuart: Hard to say, Richard. But they’re still the tag team champions here tonight.
IRON AND COPPER
In the wake of their match with the Masters of the Multiverse, the camera catches King Blueberry saying something to his partner, but not the content. She offers little in the way of reaction short of shaking her head. Despite the battle they just went through, the schism between them is palpable, and it seems to be the only thing that they can focus on at the moment.
This is why they don’t notice the commotion in the crowd. This is why the rising noise doesn’t seem to reach them.
Richard Parker: Nick, I think we’ve got another situation happening here.
Nick Stuart: Oh god, what now?
For the second week in a row, the pair are caught unaware as the trio of Darin Zion, Jonathan-Christopher Hall, and his cousin Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy hit the ring with ill intent.
Nick Stuart: You’ve got to be kidding me! Again? AGAIN?!
It’s the additional vibrations in the ring that catch the Kings’ attention. Justine Calvin, the former Reina Raspberry, turns just in time to see the wild grin of Darin Zion as he lunges towards her partner with a steering wheel in hand.
Darin Zion: HOOOOOOOOOOONK!!!
He connects with a hard shot, strong enough to take him off his feet and knock the wheel from his hand. The Blueberry crashes back, landing in the corner with a thud.
Richard Parker: After what we saw two weeks ago, I have no idea what we’re about to see, but I’ve got a gut feeling that says I’m not going to like it.
Nick Stuart: Dammit, can we get someone out here?! Two weeks ago they waterboarded this man, for goodness’ sake!!
Calvin’s reaction is primal, instinctual. With a quick moment to compose herself, she lashes out at the first person she sees. In this case, that’s Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Nick Stuart: Yes! Take your shot, J-
A blindside shot from Gladhappy’s crowbar ends her moment before it begins.
Hall, now incensed, begins putting the boots to the fallen former berry. Every shot targeting the taped ribs of hers.
While this unfolds, Vickie Hall, the mastermind of the operation, saunters towards the ring and up the steps in her pink wedding gown. Her Hallmark Journey has been ruined, and despite the trauma her crew inflicted two weeks ago, the price has not yet been paid. There is still a debt to collect, and the cost will be paid in blood.
The steering wheel has skidded to a halt under one of the turnbuckles, and in moving to collect it Darin Zion has given the Blueberry a chance to regain some of his composure. Despite the shot he just suffered, despite the match he endured, he channels all of his energy into a single burst. His target – the man with the crowbar, and the rusted nail affixed to the end.
Vickie Hall has other things in mind, and she calls out to her cousin. Gladhappy wheels, brandishing the crowbar like a blade. The nail finds purchase in the chest of King Blueberry, digging into the right side of his chest and gouging a slash three inches across. Blood drips from the wound; a new scar added to his collection.
Richard Parker: Holy…
Nick Stuart: Fans, if you’re watching at home, I need to apologize for what just happened. This is… I don’t even know what this is anymore.
Gladhappy dives on the downed Blueberry, pressing the length of his weapon across his throat to drive the last air from his body. Jonathan-Christopher continues his attack on Justine. And Darin Zion, well…
Darin Zion: HOOOOOONK!! HONK HOOOOONK HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK!!!!
What remains of the Enemigo crew in the wake of Paxton Ray’s break-in hit the scene, pouring through the arena entrance in an attempt to stave off the violence.
Nick Stuart: Finally some – OH SHIT!
It’s a cliche in professional wrestling that when something dire occurs, that the folks in production make sure to queue up the entrance for anyone brave enough to make the save. In this case there is no music, just five spoken words to signal that a different level of violence is about to take place.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
In the fiction from which that phrase is drawn exists the Eye Of Terror, a tear in reality in the depths of space between the real world – the matterium – and the Warp, a domain of pure chaos where demons are born through thoughts of malice, of lust, of excess. There are no horrors on par with what the Eye births into the universe, but the three figures charging the ring would give pause to even the most sinister child of the Warp.
The Enemigos part to allow them easy passage, because the alternative means getting trampled underfoot.
Brandon Youngblood. Coral Avalon. Nate Colton.
The cavalry has arrived.
Richard Parker: Something tells me we’re about to set a new distance record for how far one human can throw another one, and I am HERE FOR IT!
The color drains from Vickie’s face as she commands her boys to withdraw. Zion, Hall, and Gladhappy all bail in turn before vengeance hits the ring. Vickie herself is not so fortunate. The dress she wears makes getting into and out of the ring a bit unwieldy, and she’s just stepping out onto the ring apron when a massive paw clamps down around her wrist.
Nick Stuart: Don’t do it, Brandon…
She struggles against his grip, like a vice on her arm. With her free hand she reaches for her love, and the Timid Tiger moves toward his love, desperate to see her freed. She calls to him, pleads for him to rescue her from this monster, but It’s only through the virtue of Nate Colton that no harm comes to Vickie Hall.
The cameras don’t catch what The Next Diamond says – the anxious cries of Pretty Pink drowning him out, but his tone is calm and measured as he strategically positions his corn-fed Hoosier frame in between Youngblood and his target. With a snarl, the Pariah relents, releasing his grip and letting his quarry fall free from the ring apron into the waiting arms of her love.
And then, they run. Severely outnumbered by the combined force of roster and Enemigos alike, the Love Convoy retreats back through the crowd.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I have to be honest… I don’t know what’s happening, I can’t speak to anyone’s motivations behind the things we’ve seen tonight, all I know is that I hope we can find a way to restore order.
Richard Parker: I’d bet dollars to donuts that Lindsay Troy is getting a guided missile ready, and it’s about to be shot directly at Darin Zion and the Hall family. This is… I don’t even have words for this, Nick.
Inside the ring, Justine is the first to stand, aided to her feet by Avalon. Despite having given up the costumes that being a berry brings with it, the kinship remains strong. Her footing is unsure, and she’s forced to lean against the corner for support, but she stands nonetheless.
Her partner sits in an opposite corner, attended by members of the medical staff. The blood that poured from the wound on his chest has left trails down the length of his side, staining the white of his gear a pale crimson. Justine stumbles towards him, collapsing to her knees at his side and pressing a hand on the gauze already in place there until an EMT can replace it with a clean sheet.
For now at least, the tide has turned.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray… The Love Convoy… This is unlike anything I could have imagined when PRIME came back.
But this is not a triumph.
Nick Stuart: I have no idea what comes next.
This is not a victory.
Nick Stuart: Fans, for Richard Parker, I’m Nick Stuart. We’ll see you all again in two weeks. God help us.
THIS IS PRIME