Event Date: 11/04/2022
Event Location: Las Vegas, NV
Revival 18 has arrived.
A stacked card is ahead of us.
Coral Avalon vs. Ivan Stanislav.
Hayes Hanlon vs. Ned Reform.
Brandon Youngblood vs. Just Scott.
FLAMBERGE vs. Rezin.
Nova vs. Cancer Jiles.
Yet, as the show is beginning to start, the man known as Dusk is not at home, about to watch the festivities about to take place. Instead, he is standing outside the door of an individual he has a past with. He’d received a note in the mail a few days beforehand from the surly man from Alabama.
Dusk had done just that, which explains why he is carrying the largest bottle of Buffalo Trace he found. To say it was large would be an understatement. It is comically large, but he has a feeling tonight would be a night where the bottle (and the contents within said bottle) would be sorely needed.
He lifts his non-bottle carrying hand and is about to knock on the door when he pauses.
“What am I doing?” he asks himself before he shakes his head and proceeds to knock. A moment passes before the door opens and instead of coming face-to-face with the ‘Bama Bruiser himself, Dusk finds himself looking at a man just a couple of inches taller, with a much sexier beard, and a completely different complexion to him.
Dusk: Hi Dametreyus.
The man built like a linebacker glares at Dusk.
Dusk: I can’t seem to recall all of our history and whether or not I may have superkicked you once or twice before.
Dam grunts. Twice. Dusk takes this as a possible answer.
Dusk: Wade asked me to come on through. If it is any consolation, I have brought alcohol.
Dam looks at the bottle of booze
Dametreyus: Nothin’ good comes with alcohol and him.
Dusk: I don’t disagree with you there and I seem to recall a few brawls between Wade and I being started after a few drinks so there stands a good chance that the same will take place tonight.
Before he can finish though, another voice interjects. A voice with a certain gravelly southern drawl that you couldn’t misplace.
Wade Elliott: Is that ‘ol Red Eyes? He’s alright, Dam.
As Dam begins to make a clearance for Dusk to enter the room, The Bad Dog shows up in that gap.
Wade Elliott: Wait, you brought a bottle, didn’tcha?
Wade sees the large bottle of Buffalo Trace in Dusk’s hands.
Wade Elliott: ‘Atta boy. C’mon in.
Dusk smiles at Dam before he steps inside and looks around to see a rather large room with a table in the middle, bags in the corner, and the strong odor of… something. He looks around before he spots the reason for said smell.
Dusk: Hey Nova.
The Starchild looks over at Dusk, the two of them seeing each other for the first time in years, and a smile appears on Nova’s face. The two had been tag partners on a few occasions after Nova ended his affiliation with Fuck You! and the two had never had a reason to fight with one another since.
Dusk then looks over at Wade, who has made his way to the table and sits down in his chair. Dam returns to his seat as well. Dusk decides to sit across from Wade and places the bottle of Buffalo Trace in the center of the table.
Wade Elliott: Hard one t’find these days, nice work. We’ll crack ‘er open in a minute.
Dusk: Thanks. So, why the note? I didn’t know you to be one to write.
Wade Elliott: (Thumbing toward his security counterpart.) Dam’s poetry’s rubbed off on me. An’ figured you’re on yer way out. Can’t hurt to pour a drink, shoot the shit ‘bout the ol’ days fer a minute.
Dusk nods his head.
Dusk: You’ve been spending too much time with Lindsay, I take it.
A light smirk from the Southern Sparkplug, and a pair of sharp, knowing blue eyes toward the Lost Soul.
Wade Elliott: Somethin’ like that.
Dusk hears the words and notices the subtle shift in body language, the softening of Wade’s tone. He slowly nods his head before he reaches forward and opens the bottle of Buffalo Trace.
Dusk: You got any glasses around here?
Almost as if by magic, Wade produces four glasses from underneath the table and places them on the table.
Wade Elliott: Didn’t think you’d ever open th’damn thing. Rack ‘em.
Wade snags the bottle and quickly pours the pair a glass, sliding one over to Dusk. He lifts it up for a cheer, and Wade reaches over with his own for a clink of the glass.
Wade Elliott: To th’old days.
A smile appears on Dusk’s face.
Dusk: To PRIME.
A grin through Wade’s grayed beard.
Wade Elliott: Good ‘nuff.
Wade tips the glass back and the contents disappear down his throat. Dusk instead takes a long sip from the glass before placing it down on the table. Elliott refills his glass in the process.
Dusk: How ya doing with all the Paxton Ray shit?
Wade Elliott: (Grumbling.) Would’ve preferred t’beat his teeth in personally, ‘fore Lindsay shocked his ass.
Dusk: Yeah, I bet. [beat] Wouldn’t mind getting my hands on him.
Wade Elliott: ‘Magine yer gonna have t’git in line. ‘Long with everyone else.
Dusk: Nah, I’m good. I imagine y’all will take care of him in due order.
Wade Elliott: He rears his head ‘round here again…
Elliott glances toward Dam, who replies with a strong nod.
Wade Elliott: …damn right we will.
Dusk: So Wade, what is all this?
Another small grin from the Son of a Bitch, swirling his glass.
Wade Elliott: Sometime in ‘08 we had a match fer the Intense Title. You were holdin’ it.
Dusk mulls it over, though he remembers the night clearly.
Wade Elliott: Hell’ve a match, I had yer number fer a minute. Grabbed a hammer from under the ring. Took a swing at’cha to finish it off.
Craig keeps eyes trained on the reminiscing Elliott, still swirling his whiskey.
Wade Elliott: But I missed, and ya clocked me right in the damn mouth. That big kick’ve yers square into that hammer, an’ square into my teeth.
Dusk remains ready. Those new to PRIME wouldn’t know how unpredictable the Bad Dog could be. He was well aware.
But instead, Wade throws back his glass, slides it toward the body, and reaches a hand across the table.
Wade Elliott: An’ I never gave ya the credit when it was due. You whipped me fair an’ square.
Dusk glances at Wade’s rough hand, and smile draws across his face before taking it in his own for the shake.
Dusk: Never had someone hit me as fucking hard as you did. Figured we’re better across the ring from one another anyways. Better than teaming together. Remember when we teamed up to face Chandler Tsonda and Tyler Rayne?
Wade Elliott: Yeah, I ‘member us actually gettin’ that victory. I pinned Tsonda, right?
Dusk: Yeah. After I superkicked him. Stole the pinfall from me. Asshole.
Wade Elliott: Better than you stalking me through the Kansas Coliseum. Still think I owe you an ass-whippin’ for that one.
Dusk: Yeah. Man. We were wild back then. And our pockets are a lot lighter as a result.
Another grin appears on Elliott’s face.
Wade Elliott: Anyways, I know Lindsay put me on that list’ve yers. An’ I won’t lie, I could probably use another ass-whippin’. That is…if yer up for it.
The Bad Dog flashes a knowing glance as he re-fills his glass. Dam manages a grin of his own, arms crossed over his big chest.
Dusk: Of course. [chuckles] When I saw your name on the list, I knew she was serious about this. Well that and the third name on that list.
And just like that, the match was set for ReVival 19. Wade Elliott. Dusk. One last time.
Wade Elliott: (Raising his glass once more.) Here’s t’ the ol’ dogs.
The pair clink once more before clearing their drinks, thumping them to the table. Wade produces a set of cards, tapping them from the sleeve before shuffling.
Wade Elliott: Didn’t you and ol’ bearded one over there ever have a match? Or were you just tag partners?
Dusk: Only tag partners.
Wade Elliott: He’s got a big match coming up in a lil’ bit.
Dusk: Yeah. [Looks over at Nova.] You want to join us at this table? Or just sit there in the corner?
The Risen Star sits up from his seat on the couch and joins them at the table. He grabs one of the empty glasses, pours a shot, then does the same for his colleagues.
Nova: (Raising his glass with a grin.) To the Way-Before Times.
Dusk raises his glass.
Dusk: To tonight. [beat] To this.
With a clink of all three glasses, the three bury their drinks, and Nova returns to his couch.
Wade Elliott: Meantime, we got a little bit’ve time t’kill ‘fore the show gits goin’. You ever play Rummy?
Dusk shakes his head.
Dusk: Can’t say I have.
Wade Elliott: You’ll git the hang’ve it. And then we can ask Dam ‘bout his date.
Dametryus: A gentleman never tells, boss.
Dusk: Oh, I gotta hear this.
A laugh breaks out in the room (none from Dam) as we cut to another area of the backstage.
GAS IS WATCHING
The Anglo Luchador briskly walks through the halls of the MGM Grand, mask on, khaki shorts, Fighting for Jonathan shirt, kicks, Intense Championship Belt in his bag this time. He appears to have singular focus until he sees a familiar face – Nate Colton. He veers ever so slightly towards the youngster.
TAL: Nate! What’s up?
Nate Colton: Oh, hey, not much, you?
TAL: Just getting into the mood for the show, y’know. Hey, I heard you guys were rustling up a posse to take down the Love Convoy. You need any backup? I’m ready to get involved, man!
Nate Colton: I appreciate that, but…they’re banned from the show tonight. Lindsay Troy made the call a couple weeks ago.
TAL: C’mon. When has a restraining order or royal decree ever stopped a true believer? Look at Pax! He keeps showing up. Those nerds…
Nate Colton: I get it, man. But security is on watch for them, and even if they do sneak in, they gotta know I’ve got an eye out too. Same with Brandon and Coral. So I think they’re gonna be walking small for right now. Thanks, though. Anyway, I gotta run–someone in marketing wants to talk to me. I’ll see you around.
Nate gives a half-wave and walks off as the luchador’s posture slumps a bit. He continues walking towards his destination until he sees another face. The first ReVival era Five Star Champion, Hayes Hanlon, walks by, duffel in hand and eyes on his cell-phone. The luchador perks up a bit.
TAL: Hayes! Hey! I know we haven’t really talked a lot.
The Event Horizon looks up, quickly swiping away whatever was on his screen. It definitely wasn’t OnlyFans.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh shi…hey, man.
TAL: But I was thinking, there’s a lot of riff-raff around here. Maybe you and me could team up and…
Hanlon awkwardly pockets his phone.
Hayes Hanlon: Man, I appreciate that, but I’ve got a match a little later I gotta focus on…and I’m definitely not missing Nova and Jiles…but catch me another time for sure.
Home Run Hayes fist-bumps TAL’s shoulder, then continues on, retrieving his phone to re-open Onl…correction: TikTok. Once again, the luchador is deflated. He continues on to find his ol’ buddy, ol’ pal, head referee Timo Bolamba.
TAL: Timo! I am glad to see you.
Timo Bolamba: Hey Tom, uh, can we make this quick? I’m on Cancer detail, and I gotta get him back in the skybox when he’s done urinating.
TAL: How long’s he been in there?
Timo Bolamba: Oh, five minutes.
TAL: You got time. Anyway, I was wondering, if you could shake free, you know, let Dam and Wade handle some of the babysitting, what do you say, you and me, like Batman and Samoan Batman, handing out some vigilante justice. Go looking for trouble. Help out. What do you think?
Timo’s eyes go cold as ice.
TAL: Is that a yes?
Timo Bolamba: You can’t be serious. All the time you’ve known me, what is my number one priority?
TAL: The Asylum?
Timo speaks loudly and plainly so anyone that was listening might hear him clearly.
Timo Bolamba: No, it is my integrity as head official of PRIME. If I’m going headhunting in an extracurricular fashion, what message does that send about my officiating?
Timo looks back and forth nervously and, sure there are no nocturnal birds of prey in the vicinity, leans in to talk to The Luchador.
Timo Bolamba: Look uce, I got a good job here and you know we are Aiga, but I can’t ditch the jet thief and go off on some damn fool adventure beating people up with you, even though I might want to. I am a head official now, and I am focused on having the best team of officials in wrestling history. That is enough for me.
TAL: Alright, alright, I’m sorry I thought to drag you into this.
Timo Bolamba: It’s OK. What’s going on with you? I feel like every time we solve something, you take another dive headlong into another existential crisis. I’m worried.
TAL: Just… it’s alright, uce. You’re right. You’re a ref. I’m a luchador. We have different jobs here. I think Cancer might almost be done peeing anyway.
The luchador starts skulking off while all Timo can do is look on dejectedly and sigh. He heads towards the bathroom, thinking he’s heard a flush, nope still streaming. TAL stops dead in his tracks when he notices someone has been watching him this entire time.
Tony Gamble: You’re not one of them… the good guys in white hats that save the day. You know that, right?
Tony walks over, closer than TAL is comfortable with, the grin on his face that makes people want to punch him repeatedly reaching out for his ear.
TAL: And what do you know about being a white hat, Wingtips?
Tony Gamble: I know you’ve got a fire inside of you that they don’t have, the one that makes you want to go out there and get payback for what the Convoy and Paxton did to your friends… you’ve lost track of what fueled that fire before. The fire that had you swinging around a barbed wire baseball bat to drive your point home for a while.
TAL is seething, his eyes wide as his chest heaves with each breath.
Tony Gamble: The old you wouldn’t be looking to form a posse to get revenge. No, the old you would have already kicked in the door to the Halls’ locker room and taken his pound of flesh by force with no regard of who was by his side, but that fire is burning out a little more each and every week. You can get it back though, all it takes is a little GAS.
TAL: If you’re looking for members, you’ve come to the wrong luchador, kuitlatl. I’d rather take my marching orders from that Putin-loving fake communist Stanislav than work with a two-bit gangster like you.
Tony Gamble: Suit yourself, but with the crap that’s been going on around here… Having GAS may not be as bad as people think.
Gamble saunters off while the luchador finds the locker room he was searching for.
COMMERCIAL: ACE NETWORK
ALEX STEEL vs. SHAWN WARSTEIN
“Got Each Other” by The Interrupters begins sounding over the arena, and the PRIME faithful look to the entryway to the stage for the start of the next match.
Vincent Howard: The following singles contest is scheduled for one fall, with a twenty minute time limit! Introducing first, she is wrestling out of Saint Louis, Missouri! She stands five feet ten inches tall and weighed in at one hundred and twenty three pounds… “AWESOME” ALLLLEEEEEEEEEEX STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL!
Alex steps onto the stage as she is introduced and amid the lights kicking up behind her. She stops to look at the PRIME faithful, does some quick stretches, then runs down the ramp. Alex slides into the ring, does a run into the ropes, before sliding out on the rebound to give her baseball cap and T-shirt to a young fan in the audience. She then slides back into the ring and waits for her opponent.
Nick Stuart: Alex coming into her second match having been saddled with a tough loss last time out. Nevertheless, she’s still full of fighting spirit to capture her first victory in PRIME.
Richard Parker: I’ll tell you, she’s full of something.
Nick Stuart: Come on, Richard, that’s beneath you.
Richard Parker: Are you telling me you buy into this whole “rah rah fighting spirit” bit? Yes, she could get a win here tonight, but what if she doesn’t? Will she still keep that fighting spirit, and will that be enough to win here?
Nick Stuart: Those are valid questions, if we get to that point, Richard. We’re about to find out!
“Centuries (Remix)” by Fall Out Boy feat. Juicy J sounds over the speakers as Shawn Warstein throws the curtains aside and treads onto the stage, throwing his hood back to reveal a steely focus towards his aptly-named opponent.
Vincent Howard: And her opponent, he is wrestling out of Chicago, Illinois! He stands six feet four inches tall and weighed in at two hundred and thirty four pounds… SHAAAAAAAAAAWN WAAAAAAAAAAAAAARSTEIN!
Richard Parker: Here’s someone who could crush Alex Steel’s fighting spirit before her PRIME career has a chance to get off the ground. Shawn doesn’t need that quality. He’s got his fists and his experience to steer him to wins.
Shawn walks down to the ring while a mostly unpleasant reception by the PRIMEates rains down from the stands. His focus remains on the ring and his opponent as he enters, checked on by junior referee Ashley Barlow, who clears he and Alex for PRIME competition.
Nick Stuart: I think you may be underestimating the talent of Alex Steel, Richard. She’s made it to PRIME for a reason, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she bests Shawn Warstein tonight.
Richard Parker: Get back to me then. For now, only one of them currently has won in PRIME.
The match begins with Shawn and Alex meeting in the middle of the ring. Shawn appears to be telling Alex that he knows how to “Zag!” and what she’s going to do to stop him?! Alex responds by rocking Warstein back with a stiff forearm and then lands quick kicks to the knee, doubling Shawn over. “Awesome” goes off the ropes and leaps with an Axe Kick that comes down like a lead pipe on Warstein’s neck, leaving him on the ground a moment later. Warstein rolls onto his back and kicks Steel in the arm when she reaches down to get him. She shakes her arm and Shawn prepares to kip up, only to be smashes back down as Alex comes crashing onto him with a Standing Moonsault and remains there for a cover!
KICKOUT BY WARSTEIN!
Nick Stuart: What did I tell you, Richard? Steel is for real!
Richard Parker: You sound like the Phillies going into the World Series. Hyped up on a hot, but small run, only to be let down in the pivotal game.
Nick Stuart: Yes, it’s only a strong start for Alex. Like the World Series, this match still has plenty left before a winner is determined.
Alex stays on Shawn with mounted punches until he throws her off and kips up! Alex meets him at standing and the two begin trading blows to the excitement to the PRIMEates, until Shawn gets the upper hand and forces Steel towards a corner. He winds up for a haymaker and Alex ducks under, slipping through the ropes and catching Warstein with a jumping kick to the face that backs him up. The Awesome One uses the ropes to vault to the top turnbuckle and then leaps off with a Cross Body Block! Warstein catches her and in one motion turns her inside out with a Powerslam, then holds her shoulders down!
KICKOUT BY STEEL!
Nick Stuart: Shawn Warstein showing some power with a fine Powerslam counter. The veteran has a dangerous arsenal of moves
Richard Parker: He may not be a pick of the PRIMEates, he may be devious, but you have to admit Shawn is never not working on how to be great.
Shawn allows Steel to get to her feet before landing a Jumping Knee followed by a straight elbow, and finishing with a Spinning Back Elbow to complete the combo known as PFF!! Steel goes to the mat on the last strike and Warstein raises his arms to the PRIME faithful.
Nick Stuart: I thought Warstein had it with that PFF. His power-speed combination is encapsulated in that combo.
Richard Parker: He’s got all the tools. You can look at Shawn’s record and discount the guy, and you’ll pay for it dearly. At some point, he’s going to make his rise and tonight could be an example of that.
Nick Stuart: That certainly goes both ways, too. If Alex takes down Shawn, she could be well on her way to making an impact early on in her PRIME career.
Richard Parker: Alright, but why do we need to think of that side of it?
Looking with disdain at those in attendance, Shawn turns his attention back to Steel, who is using the ropes to get back up. He motions for her to let go of the support and turn around. When she does he lands a kick to the abdomen and hooks both arms for the Ego Trip!! NO! The Awesome One wriggled an arm loose before Shawn could secure it, and she back body drops him with a shout that gets the PRIMEates fired back up!
Richard Parker: The casino oxygen must be overstimulating the PRIMEates.
Nick Stuart: You can’t help but get excited by what we’re seeing from the newcomer, Richard. The PRIME faithful want to show her the same energy.
Richard Parker: I guess that’s her “fighting spirit” showing through? I’m still not buying in, you and these people can’t make me!
Hardly out of it yet, Steel watches Warstein quickly rise up, only to be taken back down with a Lariat. Adrenaline flowing freely, Alex continues to flash her award-winning power by scooping her almost double in weight opponent and slamming him down to the mat. She then ascends the top rope and plays to the PRIMEates before vaulting off with the People’s Moonsault! It connects!! Steel bounces off Shawn and grabs her side after the landing, then dives back onto him for a pinfall!
KICKOUT BY WARSTEIN!
Richard Parker: Don’t get your hopes too high, suckers.
Nick Stuart:: That was a close call for Shawn! He must have had the wind knocked out of him from the “People’s Moonsault” that Alex hits perfectly.
Richard Parker: If it was perfect, she wouldn’t have wasted a second or two getting back to make a pin.
Alex looks up at Ashley Barlow with a plea, but the junior referee is firm in her decision. Slapping the mat with a hunger for victory, Alex brings Shawn up with her sets him up for a Piledriver – no, the “Jerry Lynn Special” Cradle Piledriver! Shawn returns the favor from earlier with a back body drop only for Steel to land on her feet. She immediately runs off the ropes as Shawn turns, and leaps at him with her finishing Single Leg Dropkick!!! Warstein hits the deck and Alex sails over, landing on the mat with a thud! She scrambles to recover, but Shawn is on her and she’s planted on her head with the Ego Trip!! Warstein with a cover!
STEEL WITH A SHOULDER UP!
Nick Stuart: Steel showing a resolve reflective of her name, slinging her shoulder up at the last moment. She needs to find her way back into this match, or she may be put away soon by the sinister Shawn.
Richard Parker: I think he’d take that as a compliment. He certainly doesn’t seem to mind the PRIMEates giving him grief. He may even enjoy it.
Shawn gets up and exchanges words with fellow Chicagoland resident Barlow, but Ashley is having none of it and tells him to focus on his opponent. With a prolonged withering glance, Shawn does so and turns to find Steel pop up with a Spear attempt that Shawn evades! Steel shoots halfway through the middle rope before stopping herself. As she tries to move out of them, Warstein lifts her legs and she holds onto the middle rope for dear life. The result is Shawn yanking her off and Alex twisting around to standing, and with her quick reflexes she tags Shawn with an Enziguri that sends him stumbling around the ring. When he comes back around, Alex secures both arms around the waist for a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Shawn, only grazed by the Enziguri, still has his wits about him and blocks the attempt with two hands to the ears of Steel. He then grabs her around the midsection and with a spin, turns her over with a Belly-to-Belly Suplex of his own! Stunned, Alex rolls towards a corner to create some distance and, perhaps surprisingly, Warstein allows it, choosing to again taunt the PRIMEates.
Nick Stuart: Shawn could be wasting precious time here.
Richard Parker: Think of it as adding flavor to your recipe. You don’t just want to see Shawn pummel Alex Steel. He’s adding some flavor.
Nick Stuart: Yes, except Steel is in no way done. Shawn had better watch out for that sneaky power Alex possess, too. She can still turn this match around in no time.
As Alex gets to a knee, she looks up to find a reason Warstein allowed her movement. He’s poised. He wants to make this a dramatic and sudden finish with his King’s Crown finish. As he runs towards her, Alex times his approach and rolls past, causing Shawn’s knee to collide with the middle turnbuckle. Alex scrambles up and jets to the corner where Shawn is recovering and lands a Jumping Knee Strike to his chest! She stays on her feet and runs to the opposite corner, then comes in with a second Jumping Knee Strike that connects squarely with Warstein’s jaw! Shawn stumbles out of the corner while Steel makes her circuit once more, then comes in again to steal the dramatic finish with her Single Leg Dropkick!!
Nick Stuart: NO! SHAWN CATCHES HER IN MIDAIR!!
Warstein manages to hook one of Alex’s arms around his neck and raise his smaller opponent into the air, only to drop her with a Brainbuster!
Richard Parker: A wicked drop on that Brainbuster counter by Warstein! I don’t think Alex will want to ride the Free Fall at Six Flags anymore.
Nick Stuart: That had to take something out of Shawn, but the payoff of maneuvering Alex into that move was well worth it. She looks like she took every bit of that Brainbuster.
Yet, being dazed and damaged does not dampen Alex’s determination, and she struggles again to get to a kneeling position.
Not a moment after she does, WARSTEIN COMES IN HOT WITH KING’S CROWN AND FLOORS STEEL! Finally hitting his target, Shawn takes a moment to admire his work before hooking a leg for the pinfall!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, via pinfall… SHAAAAAAAAAAWN WAAAAAAAAAAAAAARSTEIN!!!
Nick Stuart: Just a little too much of Warstein tonight for Alex Steel, tonight. She fought valiantly and I would imagine one or two moves differently could have seen her emerging with the victory.
Richard Parker: I know I said I’m not sold on the “fighting spirit” of Alex, and well… what did you expect! I’m the smartest guy in Vegas, Nick. You should listen to me more.
Nick Stuart: Agree to disagree, Richard, but I’ll credit Shawn Warstein for making his mark tonight. He can now look ahead with big things in mind, while Alex will regroup and remain focused on scoring her first victory. PRIMEates, we’re going to step away for a quick commercial, but you know we’ve got a packed and stacked show ahead. It’s ReVival 18 on PWA:TV!
A RED ARMY COSMONAUT?
The red duo, Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan, walk quickly through the backstage area. Ruslan has several large, rolled up maps in his arms and hugs them to his body, while Stanislav grumbles next to him. One map that was taped up begins to unfurl, which forces both Rusisans to stop and collect themselves. Finally, Ruslan resumes walking and Ivan follows. His annoyance is evident.
Ivan Stanislav: How hard can it be to find one woman?
Alexei Ruslan: (fumbling with the maps) I do not know, Ivan Sergeiovich. It is not like PRIME has many females on roster. We know what Lockhart looks like, one a tag team champion I think? And finally the other is the blood sucking capitalist Troy! I thought this would be easy!
Ivan gesticulates with his broad arms.
Ivan Stanislav: We have looked through all proletarian haunts, Alexei Gregorovich! The boiler room, technician area, loading dock, every place where a good, hard worker would find solace!
They round a corner.
Ivan Stanislav: The only place we have not looked…
Alexei, with a halting, and stunned breath, finishes Ivan’s sentence as they enter into a horrible den of capitalism.
Alexei Ruslan: …is merchandise area.
Ruslan peers between his maps, as if they were the limbs of trees in the Amazon rainforest, while Stanislav stands dumbfounded beside him with his huge mouth agape. Several tables are spread out in front of the communists, where various dirty capitalists hawk their wares. There is only one female behind a booth.
Worse yet? She matches the description of Anna Daniels.
Ruslan looks up slowly at his gigantic friend, and Stanislav looks down at him as his frown grows.
Ivan Stanislav: (bristling) I thought you said she might be good candidate for Red Army?
Alexei Ruslan: She isn’t American, Ivan! She is from… Gallifrey? I do not even know where that is. We cannot give up hope. I am sure she is just making money on subsistence level and giving the rest back to her local government.
Ivan growls and the two approach the table where Anna Daniels stands. Ivan looks down at her from the other side of the table. Despite his wish to finally find the woman, now, he half hopes this isn’t her.
Ivan Stanislav: Anna Daniels?
Unfortunately for Ivan, he has indeed found exactly who he was looking for, cleaning off the dust from her merch booth. It’s been many weeks since she’s been here and it was about damn time to knock the rust off and get back to work. The vessel’s eyes rise up just enough to catch the sight of the skyscraper-like Russian Bear and whoever the hell is buried underneath all those maps. The Multitudes shuffle to see who responds to this question. They don’t seem like a threat. Not yet, anyway. Finally, Anna looks Ivan in the eye.
Anna Daniels: That is one of our many names, yes. We’re not open for business yet.
Simple. To the point. Not dismissive. There’s a smile, knowing full well that these two most likely did not come here to buy the shirts (and honestly, how foolish for them!). Just because Anna Daniels is a multidimensional being with many versions of themself in her head that travels through the multiverse on a quest for Godhood doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some attempt of keeping up with the PRIMEverse’s strangeness. Communists entering into a capitalist nightmare to seek them out? Hell, this wouldn’t even be the weirdest thing that’s happened since the ink on the contract dried.
The pause is pregnant as Ivan digests Anna’s words and he cuts his eyes back down at Alexei. Ruslan fumbles with his maps and might be trying to hide from Ivan’s gaze. One map pushes against the brim of his hat and threatens to push it off his head, and Stanislav presses his finger on the top of Alexei’s hat to keep it there. He clears his throat and keeps his finger pressing on Alexei’s skull.
Ivan Stanislav: Eh… good. I am Ivan Stanislav, and this is my comrade, Alexei Ruslan.
Ruslan shuffles the maps in front of him once more, but that might be him trying to wave? Stanislav frees Ruslan and wraps one paw around a suspender strap that could hold up a cinder block and squeezes it.
Ivan Stanislav: We come here because we thought it prudent to ask you few questions. Ahem.. and I should say, we are not interested in purchasing any of your knick-knacks.
Anna Daniels: Knick-knacks? Surely not! We only sell the finest quality t-shirts including…
With a flourish, a black shirt is whipped out and held up. On the chest is the usual NEW ERA logo in its traditional mocking of the PRIME logo except glitchy. And at this point, there is a manic look to the camera droid. To you, the poor audience who have just gotten over your concussions from the last time this happened.
Anna Daniels: …THE BRAND NEW NEW ERA T-SHIRT AVAILABLE ONLY VIA THE PRIMEPORIUM!!! BUY THE SHIRTS, YOU FUCKING COWARDS!
The vessel’s face shifts back from manic shilling and implied threats of much punting of heads back to the matter of these boys. The grin does not leave their face as they softly set the shirt down. The mania in their eyes dies down to a minimum as the Muse’s hand slowly picks up one of the maps from Alexei’s pile. The body language shifts to its usual poise.
Anna Daniels: We take it these had something to do with your questions?
The two Russians stare at Anna, their eyes wide. Ivan is the first to recover and glowers down at Alexei once more. His mood does not seem to improve. What has Ruslan gotten him into? Ruslan lets her… or… them… snatch the map from his arms, and he haphazardly drops the rest on top of the table, over the shirts.
Alexei Ruslan: Yes… uh… we were curious as to where Gallifrey was located? You see, Ivan and I are recruiting for The Red Army it…
Ivan interjects with his booming voice as he looks down at the woman.
Ivan Stanislav: …is group of wrestlers committed to the cause of working man and woman, and more specifically, we prefer to have members outside of corrupt United States of America. We adhere to strict tenets of worldwide revolution and promotion of common people against the…
He looks down at the t-shirts beneath the maps and frowns.
Ivan Stanislav: …capitalist… forces of evil.
Alexei meekly continues.
Alexei Ruslan: I have scoured our databases and maps and could not find Gallifrey anywhere. So… our first question is… where is it?
Anna Daniels: Interesting.
The Multitudes aren’t entirely sure what to make of all this. The quickest of all glances shows to them that the maps in question are of Earth. So, ya know, no wonder they couldn’t find it. However, this was actually good news in a way. Finally somebody took the time to not look at them like they were a crackpot. Such a strange little blessing. But how exactly do we navigate this?
Anna Daniels: Gallifrey–the original, we mean–no longer exists.
Well…that just slipped out. There’s a pause as the deliberation in the brain comes to a conclusion. When in doubt, be honest.
Anna Daniels: It used to be two hundred and fifty million lightyears from here. So those maps wouldn’t really help. Then the War happened and there were many other planets conquered and terraformed to become other versions of Gallifrey. Consider those like territories of the original. They were made to ensure that if one fell, it wouldn’t be the end of the War with our defeat. That we would keep going and keep fighting. It’s a very…complicated thing.
The vessel waves it off.
Anna Daniels: The point is the original is gone. Ours is gone. There’s probably one still fighting somewhere but we’ve been locked out of the proceedings because ours is…gone. So we can’t fulfill the mission we were born and bred to do which is die in glorious battle. So technically speaking, we are not American citizens.
Anna Daniels: Although, if it’ll make you feel better, we live in Sydney now. And occasionally Tokyo, when we need to.
The information came out in a babble. But considering this was the first time they’ve said it out loud, it could’ve been worse. However, as she talks, the whistling that comes from Ivan’s nostrils grows louder and louder. His eyelid twitches. Meanwhile, Alexei Ruslan’s eyes grow wider… and wider… and wider.
Anna Daniels: Good idea though. Building an army. Tell us more.
There is another pregnant pause between the three of them, save for the whistling of Ivan’s nostrils. He looks down at Alexei who gulps and Ruslan very slowly cheats his eyes up to Ivan, half hoping The Russian Bear isn’t looking down at him. You know the look, when you try to look but don’t want to look? Ivan speaks nonchalantly, but more to Alexei as he lifts both eyebrows. He offers a perfectly happy smile. Yet to a Russian, like say, Alexei Ruslan, it hides the tremendously arctic truth behind the smile. It is a rage that only a Russian can mask.
Ivan Stanislav: You indeed were right, Alexei, she certainly is not from America.
Ruslan fixes his tie. He doesn’t dare look at Ivan again.
Ivan Stanislav: Might you excuse us for just a moment, Ms. Daniels?
Ivan doesn’t wait for a response. He turns and grips Ruslan’s shoulder and hauls him off to the side. There, the two Russians begin speaking rapidly in their native tongue. There is gesticulating. There is eye covering with hands. There is pointing at their heads and then out into the air. Ruslan fixes his tie again. Stanislav tilts his head to one side, then the other, then he has hands on hips. And then? There is silence. They return to Anna. Ruslan looks positively exhausted.
Ivan Stanislav: Ahem, apologies for that. So… I suppose I have just one more question, Ms. Daniels. Because we have determined that indeed, if you are not from this planet, then you would not be from America. And Lenin did believe in worldwide revolution but perhaps it could be universal revolution…
Ivan literally feels a headache forming, and he still has to square off against Coral Avalon later.
Ivan Stanislav: Anyway, how do you feel about the ideology of Marxism-Leninism?
Anna Daniels: In theory? Not the worst idea humans have had. In practice?
A shake of her head. A rustle through never-ending pockets until they find what they are looking for. One glass of ice cold water and one packet of aspirin. They are slid over to Ivan. The Russian Bear is clearly confused as to where she conjured the water and aspirin, but he holds them.
Anna Daniels: In practice, it is nearly impossible to do because humans and the vast majority of all creatures with such mental facilities tend to end up being corrupt assholes who crave power and will stomp all over anyone to gain it. As long as that happens, a worker’s utopia is a pipe dream. Doesn’t mean people should give up on the dream. It’s just something that may not be seen in all of its glory in anybody’s lifetime.
Another fiddling around. Another cold glass of water. This one is slid to the wary Ruslan. He holds the glass of water and blinks.
Anna Daniels: That being said, this is only us glancing into the subject. It hasn’t crossed our minds as much. Maybe it should, now that you’re around. Would be interesting bedtime reading.
The two Russians look down at their respective glasses of water and Ivan with the aspirin. He clears his throat and places it down on the table. No way a Russian is taking anything from an outsider. He exhales slowly.
Ivan Stanislav: Er… yes well, I suppose perhaps The Red Army would not be the best fit for you anyway…
Ruslan offers a nervous glance up at Ivan and sheepishly begins to gather up the maps that are strewn about the table. He holds them in both of his arms as they rustle loudly.
Ivan Stanislav: Still it was quite… interesting… to meet you, Ms. Daniels.
With one hand, Ivan snatches every map Ruslan holds and yanks them out of his arms. He turns and a low rumble echoes through his barrel chest as he begins to walk away. Ruslan pauses and looks at Anna for a moment and fixes his tie once more.
Alexei Ruslan: Well.. we might as well not make this a completely barren effort, hm? Might I have one of those shirts in the largest size for Praporshchik Stanislav? On the house, of course?
He brings his hands behind his back and rocks on his heels, offering her the most dazzling smile he can muster. Anna nods in response, turns around to the 5XL box and folds the shirt up neatly.
Anna Daniels: Only because you asked nicely.
A look from the left and the right.
Anna Daniels: Though we’re not entirely sure it’s big enough. If you need a custom order, that’ll take some time, you understand.
Watching Alexei being Alexei almost made him cute to the Multitudes in a way. Undoubtedly, he’s going to have some trouble with his burly friend once they leave her eye line. A little bit of kindness will go a long way.
Anna Daniels: And good luck with the army building. Lots of bad people around here.
Ruslan nearly swims in the shirt as he tips his hat politely.
Alexei Ruslan: Yes, uh, thank you. Good luck with the uh, dying in glorious battle…
With that, Ruslan turns with the shirt (which is more like a tarpaulin), and returns to Ivan. He offers the shirt up to his friend, who is still too big for it. He speaks softly.
Alexei Ruslan: At least we do not leave empty handed?
Stanislav sucks in his lips and inhales. He lifts the fist full of maps over his head and slaps them down over Alexei’s hat. It flattens the hat and pushes the brim over his eyes, rendering him blind.
Ivan Stanislav: Let us just find some popcorn before my match…
Alexei Ruslan: (from beneath his hat) Of course, Ivan Sergeiovich…
With that, Stanislav holds onto Ruslan’s entire back, and guides his blind friend out of the room.
THE FOXLESS BEAST
Mushigihara stares into a mirror, alone. Without his Dangerous Mix parter present, the Fox-less Kaiju is looking a bit nervous.
Mushigihara: C’mon, Mushi, you got this. You’re the Kaiju. The God-Beast. The fact that you can actually talk to people now doesn’t change that. C’mon, man, get that war face going…
He smacks himself on either side of his face, and tries to cop a mean mug, but he’s clearly not comfortable in what he sees.
He looks over to the side, looking at a plain black duffel bag, which he reaches into and pulls out a stylish black hat and a pair of sunglasses, and puts them on his head before taking another look into the mirror.
Mushigihara: …God, I look ridiculous.
He scoffs and shakes his head, before pulling the accouterments off.
“If you want some perspective, I carried around a mannequin for half the year.”
Behind him, King Blueberry casually leans against the door frame. He’s dressed in street clothes, hands tucked into the pockets of his sweatshirt. He seems almost relaxed despite the events of the last few months, a man either content in knowing his enemies have all been barred from the building, or perhaps resigned to the idea they’ll find him regardless.
King Blueberry: I guess what I’m saying is that “ridiculous” is relative.
He gestures to the mask that covers most of his face, the one that is now dotted with stains of chocolate, coffee, and blood.
King Blueberry: But I get it, man. The nerves can be a real bitch, especially when you’re flying solo for the first time in a while.
King Blueberry: Sorry, I may have overheard, like, all of that.
Mushigihara: Thanks, King. I’m just trying to get into the right frame of mind here. You know how those eGG Bandits never play fair, so I just gotta get into that mode where I just smear Dooze in the ring before anyone can help him out.
Just then, a loud rapping arises from the outside of the locker room.
Voice Outside: Open up, it’s the Meme Police. Here to make an honest man… OSU.
Mushi groans as he ventures over to the door, opening to find a bag-carrying Anglo Luchador on the outside, same getup as he was wearing the last time he was seen on this very program.
Mushigihara: Oh, hey Tom.
TAL: Sorry it took me so long. Had some navels I had to be gazing. I know you’re serious… oh, hey Jared.
King Blueberry nods at the token greeting.
TAL: AAAAANYWAY, I know you’re serious about this solo debut, and all I gotta say is, Bandits or no Bandits, you’re gonna do great. You’re up against the old fart, not Bobby, so you got the weight advantage. That’s huge.
TAL: Skill means a lot, but you also need motivation. What motivates you, Hank?
Blueberry mouths the word “Hank?” while Mushi furrows his brow and rubs his chin.
Mushigihara: That’s a good question.
TAL: I know. Not everyone has that pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow they can look forward to. For some, they don’t even have the treasure map. Tell me this. I know, uh…
The luchador looks over at Blueberry knowing the next name he was thinking about uttering could be a trigger, and he didn’t wanna trigger anyone, at least not in that dressing room.
TAL: …that guy with the sick daughter, we were both into the charitable donation thing. That’s a good quality, and not exactly one that isn’t useful in other avenues, right?
TAL: So think about it like this. You’re in a singles match. Higher profile. The bonus purse after winning, you don’t have to share with Kickpads, right? More for you. More for Mr. Akagi to wager and send off to some other noble cause. I mean, there are abortion funds across the country. I like the Trevor Project. Jared, I’m sure you know a charity or two.
King Blueberry: For me it’s the Mass General Cancer Center, but that’s because I’m a local. Heifer International is another one I dig. Paws With A Cause. I’ve got a list.
TAL: See? Even if you’re not greedy, well, the extra fiduciary benefit can be rewarding when you’re flyin’ solo.
A shuffling of feet and another knocking is heard before the door opens.
Timo Bolamba: Hey Mushi, I’m supposed to stop by and let you know they’re almost ready for you.
The Senior Referee pauses as he sees TAL and King Blueberry in the room with Mushigahara.
Timo Bolamba: What’s going on here guys?
TAL: Crisis of confidence. Nerves. You know the deal.
Timo Bolamba: Man, there is an awful lot of that in this company isn’t there?
King Blueberry: Probably a lot of that everywhere, it’s just folks are talking about it now instead of trying to hide it.
Timo steps forward and looks at Mushigahara with his mentor’s gaze. His usually blazing bright green eyes are a bit dull and seem quite caring at the moment.
Timo Bolamba: I’ve worked with some of the greatest big men of all time, Mushi. Azala Zameer, Kimbusa, Ivan, Hessian, Meanstreak…the list goes on and on. The point is they are always dangerous and always put on a good showing. And I’ve seen you work. You’re right up there with any of them! You know your strengths, just go out there and do what you do best. I am sure you will give the fans one hell of a match, even if you are flying solo!
He looks at Jared and Tom.
Timo Bolamba: Right guys?
They both agree with the Head Referee and he smiles at Mushi.
Timo Bolamba: I gotta go, big guy. Good luck!
With that, the referee turns, nods to the other two in the room and bolts out the door, no doubt on his way to make sure Jimmy Turnbull is ready for the match.
Mushigihara: …thanks, fellas. I think I’m feeling ready to go out there and scramble that egg in front of all of PRIME.
Mushi looks at TAL and King, with a smile.
Mushigihara: You’re all right. I’ve got what it takes to hang here. And I’ve got why it takes to win.
He looks back to the mirror and nods.
Mushigihara: I am Eiichiro “Henry” Yamazaki. I am Mushigihara.
Mushi looks back towards two of PRIME’s most dominant champions, who clearly have his back.
Mushigihara: And I am the Kaiju of PRIME.
He now pivots his whole body around, facing the door, before letting out a mighty…
Mushigihara stomps his way towards the ring, TAL and Sykes each giving him a supporting pat on the back as he passes them. The camera focuses on them, as they look towards their friend.
King Blueberry: Ohhhhh, I get it. He’s Hank because he’s Henry.
TAL nods with a smile, as we cut.
MUSHIGIHARA vs. DOOZER
Nick Stuart: Coming up with have a match between Dangerous Mix’s Mushigihara and the eGG Bandit’s Fred Mayhew.
Richard Parker: Who?
Nick Stuart: You may know him as the wrestler formerly known as Doozer.
Richard Parker: So he’s not Doozer?
Nick Stuart: No, he’s Fred Mayhew.
Richard Parker: Wasn’t he the actor in Best in Show?
Nick Stuart: No, that’s Fred Willard.
Richard Parker: Oh, so he’s the actor who plays Chewbacca.
Nick Stuart: No, that’s Peter Mayhew.
Richard Parker: Either way it sounds like an old white guy who died in the past few years.
Suddenly the intro to “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys starts, and the fans cheer because it’s a banger of an anthem.
Richard Parker: Well this is better than that rap song, at least.
The cheers change to boos as the eGG Bandits emerge, with the former Doozer in front. He raises his arm as he makes his way to the ring. Bobby Dean is…I dunno, eating a sandwich. It probably has salami on it. And jelly beans? Who knows. Paint your own mind picture here.
Nick Stuart: The Old Bull is looking for his first singles win in PRIME, and it’d be nice for him to put the Bandits on the winning side of things. They’ve had a tough time the past few months.
Mayhew and Bobby Dean enter the ring and pose as the fans give their reaction, which isn’t exactly positive.
Richard Parker: So now we have the guy who changed his name for some reason against the guy who decided to talk for some reason. Cool.
The MGM Grand’s house lights rapidly dim as what sounds like some kind of chant begins to fill the air. Before long, Bear McCreary’s take on the Blue Öyster Cult classic “Godzilla” pounds from the speakers, along with more chanting.
SO-RE, SO-RE, SO-RE, SO-RE,
GO! GO! GO! GOJIRA!
HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY,
GO! GO! GO! GODZILLA!)
Storming from the curtain comes one-half of the Dangerous Mix, the mighty Mushigihara. Arms raised and face roaring for battle, the Kaiju welcomes the cheers of the crowd, a faint smirk crossing his face.
Nick Stuart: The crowd loves the big man, Richard!
Richard Parker: I wonder if his own teammate does, Nick, since he isn’t here tonight.
With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound
He pulls the spinning high-tension wires down
Helpless people on a subway train
Scream bug-eyed as he looks in on them
The mammoth tags a few hands along the way, nodding with excitement while not breaking his focus on Doozer, who stands in the middle of the ring.
The Kaiju clearly hears the chants of his signature war cry, but simply pushes on, reaching ringside before spreading his arms in a challenging manner towards the eGG Bandit.
He picks up a bus and he throws it back down
As he wades through the buildings to the center of town
Nick Stuart: Mushigihara in his first singles match in PRIME. You have to wonder if he’s feeling any nerves.
Richard Parker: If he is, he isn’t showing it.
The Kaiju walks towards the ringsteps, as he looks back and hears a throng of chanting fans.
Mushi looks back towards them and surveys the crowd, before turning on his heels and making his way up and into the ring…
…before he looks back and smiles.
Ohhhhh, no! They say he’s got to go,
Go, go, Godzilla!
He turns back towards the loyal front-row fans, gesturing with his arms for them to gather up to the rail, which they do.
Ohhhhhh, no! There goes Tokyo,
Go, go, Godzilla!
The camera closes in on him just in time to pick up the last bits of his brief speech.
Mushigihara: …gonna do it as loud as you can on three, OK?
Muffled answers to the affirmative can be heard, as Mushi leads the count.
Mushigihara: (accompanied by like forty fans) OSU!!!
Richard Parker: Pandering. Got to love it.
The Kaiju climbs into the ring for real, backed by those fans doing the chant again.
Mushigihara makes his way to his corner and leans back on the turnbuckles, surveying his opponent and waiting for the perfect moment to open up the match.
Nick Stuart: All right, here we go. Both men are in the ring, and Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell.
The two big men waste no time, going right into a tieup. Mushigihara gets the advantage, then moves around for a rear waistlock. He lifts Mayhew up, then back down onto the canvas onto Mayhew’s stomach.
Nick Stuart: Both men roughly the same size, Mushi with about 20 pounds on D…Fred Mayhew. But the Dangerous Mix member has that functional strength from his background that I think gives him the advantage here.
Richard Parker: Freddy is crafty, though, so the big man needs to watch out for that.
Nick Stuart: Freddy, huh.
Richard Parker: I’m adaptable!
While they are on the mat, Mushigihara rolls, keeping the grip on Fred’s waist. For a brief moment Mushi’s shoulders are on the match, and Jimmy drops for the count, but they keep rolling and Mushi lifts him up as he stands, looking for another suplex. This time Mayhew rocks Mushi with an elbow, then hits him with a standing clothesline that pushes Mushi back, but doesn’t cause him to fall. Mayhew looks back for a second, then jogs to the ring ropes on the other side, then hits Mushi with a second clothesline. Mushi staggers again, but doesn’t fall.
Nick Stuart: Mushi almost toppling over…
Fred Mayhew grunts, then one more time launches himself against the ropes. When he comes back, he tries to hit a crossbody…
Richard Parker: Uh oh!
Nick Stuart: Mushigihara caught Mayhew!
After a few moments of pausing and posturing, Mushi tosses Mayhew over in a fallaway slam. Mayhew skids against the canvas, trying to pop himself up but the momentum carries him into the corner. Slowly pulling himself up by the ropes, Mayhew shoots an angry look at Mushi’s way. The God-Beast merely smiles.
Nick Stuart: The Boston Bruiser is over 270 pounds, and Mushigihara just tossed him like a rag doll!
Richard Parker: Looks like he’s not going to take it sitting down!
Indeed, Mayhew is on his feet and rushes at Mushi, hitting him with a right fist. Mayhew connects another, and then three more, and again the big man from Japan staggers backwards. Fred leans the big man against the ropes, then tries to Irish whip him to the other side. Mushi plants his feet and reverses it, then lays Mayhew out with a clothesline as the fans cheer.
Nick Stuart: Impressive start from Mushigihara!
Richard Parker: New names are nice and all, but the former Doozer is going to need to pull out the stops if he wants to turn the tide here.
Mushigihara lifts Fred Mayhew up and immediately slams him down in a body slam, then drops for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Fred Mayhew with the kickout! He’s struggling to keep his composure here! He is yelling at Jimmy Turnbull about something as he gets to his feet!
Richard Parker: You better pay attention to your opponent, Freddy!
While Mushi approaches Fred from behind, the former Doozer kicks his leg up, hitting directly between the big man’s legs. Jimmy Turnbull sees Mushi bend over, but doesn’t see how. Nevertheless, he is suspicious, and begins pointing at Fred, who holds his hands up innocently. Lip readers can make out that Fred is saying “He probably tripped over his own feet.”
Fred turns around, grabs Mushi’s head, and smashes it against his knee. Mushi pops up, holding his face, and is blasted with a power clothesline that finally levels the big man. The fans boo as the Old Bull stands up, arms wide.
Nick Stuart: He may go by a new name but this is the same Bandit the fans know and loathe.
Richard Parker: Me too! Boo! Boo!
Fred bends down and lifts Mushi to his feet, quickly taking him over in a fireman’s carry and locking in a ground wrist lock. Then he stands up and stomps on the wrist. Jimmy Turnbull starts to lecture Fred, but Fred starts yelling back, subtly positioning himself so that Jimmy looks in the opposite direction of Mushigihara. I wonder why that matters.
Nick Stuart: Oh come on!
As Mushigihara tries to get to his feet, Bobby Dean jumps up on the apron and smashes him with a forearm. Fred “The Dooze” Mayhew sees this and moves Jimmy Turnbull aside, then approaches Mushi and hits him with a belly to belly suplex and goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Mushigihara kicks out, but Fred has taken complete control with the help of his Bandit buddy.
Richard Parker: I said he needed to pull out all the stops and he listened. Hey, Fred, if you’re still listening, punch Jiles in the mouth for me!
He does not punch Cancer, but he does drop to his knees and begin punching Mushi in the face. A cut opens on Mushi’s forehead, and the blood begins to smear on his face as The Dooze continues to assault him. Finally, Fred stands up and poses, getting another chorus of boos. This allows time for Mushigihara to feel his face and see the blood. And that makes the big man see red.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh. Mushigihara looks angry!
Richard Parker: They call Mayhew The Old Bull but big man looks like a bull right now!
In a burst of speed not expected for someone so big, Mushigihara lunges forward and grabs Fred, then hits him with a backdrop suplex. Mayhew scrambles to his feet only to be leveled by a big boot. Once more Mayhew pops up, but Mushi picks him up and holds him over his head.
Nick Stuart: Gorilla press! He’s lifting that man off the ground like he’s a sack of potatoes!
Richard Parker: Is that how you bring groceries in the house?
Mushi begins to pump Fred up and down over and over again, and even though the man is a speaker now, the fans still shout his trademark word over and over again.
O-SU! O-SU! O-SU! O-SU!
He finishes it with a slam, then drops to his knees for the cover.
Fred Mayhew gets the shoulder off the mat, then rolls over. He tries to find an escape, but Mushi grabs him by his shorts and pulls him to his feet. He Irish whips him into the corner, then follows him with an avalanche splash, causing The Old Bull to crumple in the corner. Bobby Dean looks up from the sandwich he was consuming to look very concerned. The two Bandits lock eyes, and Mayhew smiles, then starts to moan, clutching his knee.
Not seeing this exchange, Mushigihara holds his arms out, causing another “O-SU” chant to ring out.
Nick Stuart: Mushigihara looks in full control…wait, what’s happening here?
What’s happening is Fred Mayhew is clutching his knee, pulling Jimmy Turnbull down so he can tell him about his pain. Mushigihara looks at the scene with contempt, but doesn’t see Bobby Dean sneak up behind him…
Nick Stuart: No! Deaner Wiener!
Richard Parker: That name…
Nick Stuart: Regardless of what it’s called, Bobby Dean just flattened Mushigihara with it! What a slimy tactic by the eGG Bandits! And look, now Mayhew is “feeling out his leg”! Disgusting.
Fred Mayhew gingerly walks over to the groggy Mushigihara, lifts him to his feet, and hits his double underhook DDT.
Nick Stuart: The Abuser! And now the perfectly fine Fred Mayhew drops for the cover!
DING DING DING!
Richard Parker: “Perfectly Fine” Fred Mayhew. Sounds like we have a new nickname for Old Bull.
Nick Stuart: But it’s not perfectly fine! Mushigihara was fully in control, and then the eGG Bandits turned this into a handicap match! New name, same old tactics!
THE REAL VICTIMS
We’re taken inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena where it’s time for everybody’s favorite part of the show opening….the signs! What’ve we got this week?
MIKE MCGEE COOKS FISH IN THE BREAK ROOM MICROWAVE
PRAYERS FOR MARK LEMON
IT HAS BEEN
DAYS SINCE OUR LAST ATTEMPTED MURDER
JACOB MEPHISTO ATE MY LIVER AND NOW I NEED A TRANSPLANT
I THOUGHT HIS NAME WAS TIM MEPHISTO?
PAXTON RAY IS A CUNT
DEAR DR. REFORM
IT HURTS WHEN I DO THIS
MIKE MCGEE SHOPS AT ROSS DRESS FOR LESS
MIKE MCGEE’S KIA SORRENTO GETS TERRIBLE GAS MILEAGE
STARCHILD FOR UNI CHAMP
YOU CAN’T SPELL ‘BITCH’ WITHOUT ‘VICKIE HALL IS A BITCH’
SHORT DICKS, STAND UP FOR YOURSELVES!
I STILL CAN’T SEE FRED MAYHEW
FRED DURST > FRED MAYHEW
We then go to the announce table where a rather disheveled Nick Stuart stares at the camera. Beside him, Richard Parker is shaking his head.
Nick Stuart: Folks, I’m sorry to say but earlier this week I was informed that Melvin Beauregard agreed to allow Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall air time on this week’s episode. In fact, he demanded I sit down with both of them regarding the events which have unfolded between the Hall’s and the PRIME Tag Team Champions.
Richard Parker: I don’t know why you agreed to this, Nick. We don’t work for that duplicitous shithead.
Nick takes a deep breath, clearly reliving the moments which will soon be revealed.
Nick Stuart: I know, Rich. But I will say this, I pride myself on being a professional so journalistic integrity here in PRIME is important to me. However, I should’ve known how the interview would go. Either way, here it is…
Stuart clearly seems rattled upon the pitch as the scene changes to an unknown interview location, a dimly lit room with one chair to the left and two chairs to the right. Nick Stuart walks onto the set and takes a seat on the left chair. Nick is dressed in a nice old school powder blue suit. He reveals a clipboard and goes over some notes before Vickie Hall is the next to enter. She’s dressed in a horrific Corpse Bride looking hot pink wedding dress. She wanders in with makeup leaking all over his face, coming off a serious crying spell. She walks to the center of the room, right in front of Nick Stuart. The announcer points to the double chairs behind her and Vickie lets out another loud sob before finding one of them and collapsing in it.
Vickie Hall: HONEY!? BABY!? I FUCKING NEED YOU!!!!
Her voice raises with each word, as the camera pans to the right, finding Jonathan-Christopher slowly creeping into the room. However, he doesn’t move any closer. He eyes the space between him and his Amazing Life Partner.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Baby! Baby, I can’t go within one-hundred feet of you if we’re on PRIME television!
Vickie throws her arms up and screams the highest pitch her voice can go. It’s absolutely ear-piercing as Nick Stuart drops his clipboard and covers his ears with both hands. The camera shakes… likely the cameraman has to do the same and ends up hitting the handlebar in the process.Vickie screams for what seems to be eternity until she wipes away a tear and looks towards Nick Stuart. Pretty in Pink raises an eyebrow. Her demeanor changes to one of annoyance.
Vickie Hall: Um like hello are you going to interview me or not?
She’s speaking so fast she barely takes a pause between words, her tone suggesting she’s extremely frustrated. Meanwhile, Stuart scurries to pick up his clipboard.
Nick Stuart: Vickie, I wanted to get your thoughts on what has taken place over the past month. The attacks. The brutal, blindsiding attacks against-
Vickie interrupts with another screech.
Vickie Hall: My Amazing Life Partner and I…
She turns and reaches out to him. He replays by doing the same.
Vickie Hall: We can only AIR HUG EACH OTHER RIGHT NOW!? Are you fucking kidding me!?
Vickie starts to shake with anxiety.
Vickie Hall: That stunned cunt Lindsay Troy, fining us and keeping us apart. Why? Because she ruined Jonathan-Christopher and I’s first magical wrestling journey together, that’s why. See Nick, we are the victims here.
She points at Nick’s notes.
Vickie Hall: I’m sure those are littered with questions regarding what we did to the Blueberry boy and his girlfriend.
Stuart tries to interject but there’s no use.
Vickie Hall: King Blueberry poured chocolate syrup all over me! I didn’t have a change of clothes on me that night!
Vickie spins back to her ALP. She wants to move off her chair but can’t find the strength. Jonathan-Christopher realizes this so he takes a step forward but she puts up her hands.
Vickie Hall: NO Jonathan-Christopher, you need to stop RIGHT FUCKING THERE because Lindsay Troy won’t allow it!
The Woman of Wonder brings her attention back to Nick Stuart.
Vickie Hall: Unfair world. Why did this happen to me, Nick? CAN YOU TELL ME!?
Stuart looks down at his paperwork but he’s interrupted again.
Vickie Hall: That wasn’t rhetorical, Nicholas! WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GO PEOPLE!?
Nick Stuart: You attacked King Blueberry. You waterboarded him. You hit him with a rusty nail. A rusty nail in the stomach! I’m sorry Vickie but that’s twisted stuff.
He pauses as Vickie doesn’t take her eyes off the interviewer.
Nick Stuart: That sounds a lot more intense than having chocolate syrup spilled on you by accident…
Vickie continues to stare at the interviewer. Tension grows in the room as Nick and likely everyone in production, doesn’t know what’s going to happen.
Vickie leans back in her chair and continues calmly, as if nothing the interviewer said registered.
Vickie Hall: This is so unfair. All I want to do is coddle my honeybuns of oats!
Jonathan-Christopher trembles at the doorway, knowing he can’t move any further.
Vickie Hall: We are the victims, Nick. Jonathan-Christopher and I wanted to celebrate our love inside the wrestling ring. I thought it would be easy, you know? Such a dream come true. A wrestling promotion would allow love to flourish. Why wouldn’t it? I’m surrounded by other like minded people full of love with no spite in their hearts. I thought Brandon Youngblood would lay down for Jonathan-Christopher. My ALP would pin him and go to the finals of the title tournament where it would be like such a romantic event, maybe even a romantic comedy because he can be quite silly at times you see.She giggles.
Vickie Hall: I don’t think this was hard to ask.
And now she sobs.
Vickie Hall: Nothing has gone right in PRIME, so Jonathan-Christopher, his best friend, his cousin and myself… we are going to make it right! PRIME will be the Hallmark Journey we deserve.
Vickie leans forward and rests her hands on her knees as she looks deeply into Nick Stuart’s eyes.
Vickie Hall: I am a wonderful person who should be cherished, loved and supported. Jonathan-Christopher knows this.
Pretty in Pink speaks with conviction.
Vickie Hall: Now I just want the world to see!
It seems like this is the end of her statement until Vickie tilts her head to the right and grins.
Vickie Hall: Ya know?
She stands and shakes herself off, trying to get rid of all the bad karma she’s endured. Jonathan-Christopher continues to hold a wide-eyed smile across his face, although he’s clearly at a breaking point. Finally, he bursts into tears and comes running her way.
He grabs her; they embrace. Jonathan-Christopher tries to brush her hair back but Vickie pulls away.
Vickie Hall: No, Jonathan-Christopher. You have to let me go!
Reluctantly, he does… but as he does, he starts to shake himself. With anger. Fury. Rage. He looks down at the chair he should have been sitting in… the chair BESIDE his ALP. He picks it up and in one fluent motion he throws the chair across the room, behind the camera. You can hear a few people shout as they try to move and then a THUMP as the chair meets the ground.
Jonathan-Christopher isn’t done. Like an animal he pounces on the second chair and begins to rip apart its padding. By now, Nick Stuart has fled the scene. So has Vickie… probably because she doesn’t want another fine.
Suddenly, Darin Zion enters the picture. He pops up two feet in front of the camera with a smug look on his face.
Darin Zion: HEY Popsciples! We’re challenging you for the Tag Team Championships on the only stage worthy of a TRUE Hallmark Journey…
He pauses as you can see pieces of the chair Vickie was sitting in being thrown in every direction. Zion’s face and body cover Jonathan-Christopher’s destruction but you can certainly hear the chair being absolutely dismantled by an animal.
Darin Zion: Colossus! My best friend and I -and his AMAZING LIFE PARTNER- will get what we want!
Zion snickers as he reveals a steering wheel in his hands.
Darin Zion: HONK!! HONK!! HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNN-
The feed cuts.
GOT ANY PLANS?
ReVival returns from commercial and focuses on Nick and Richard at the Commentation Station.
Nick Stuart: Earlier this afternoon, we were told that the Boss was going to make an announcement regarding Colossus. We’re not entirely sure what this could entail, but gossip backstage says it could be related to the return of another old PRIME favorite, or the possible introduction of a new title belt.
Richard Parker: Can they dig up the corpse of Peter Vetra? I need to take a leak.
Nick Stuart: That’s not nice, Richard. And I’m pretty sure Peter Vetra is still alive.
Richard Parker: I don’t get paid to be nice, Nick. That’s why you’re here.
Nick Stuart: And let’s thank our lucky stars for that. In any case, let’s go to the ring and hand things over to the Queen.
While the boys were bantering, Lindsay Troy made her way out from the back. No music to announce her arrival, just cheers from the PRIMEates. Now she stands with microphone in hand and the Universal Title cradled in the crook of her arm.
Lindsay Troy: I’m not going to take a lot of time here, because we’ve got a lot of stellar matches still to come: two of which are for the Five Star and Universal Titles.
The PRIME Faithful pop at the mention of both storied belts.
Lindsay Troy: Right now, though, I’d like to ask someone to join me out here. He’s the first Five Star Champion of the ReVival Era, is coming off a huge win at UltraViolence over Ivan Stanislav, and will be taking on my good buddy Nedward later this evening. Please welcome “Event Horizon,” Hayes Hanlon!
We Came as Romans.
Nick Stuart: The Lady of the Hour calls Home Run Hayes to center stage! What do you think is going on, partner?
Richard Parker: Troy’s been tightening up the ship, Nick. Probably going to slap his wrist about wearing PRIME merchandise at the Velvet Rabbit.
The music continues to blast through the MGM. The white flash bulbs, the whole show. But…no Hayes.
Richard Parker: It’s okay, kid, nobody has anything important to do tonight…
Finally, out walks Hanlon, completely and utterly confused. He’s apparently halfway through preparing for his match later against Ned Reform; his boots and tights are on, but he still dons his black dress shirt, buttons undone and sleeves down. He recognizes the Garden’s ovation, but his trepidation is obvious as he fumbles to clean himself up.
Inside the ring, Lindsay Troy is somewhat…amused.
Nick Richard: And here he is, answering the Queen of the Ring’s call.
Richard Parker: WiTh nO tImE to SpAre.
Hanlon retrieves a microphone before climbing the steps and into the ring. His music comes to its completion, only the roars of the PRIMEates left to replace it. Hayes looks around uncomfortably, and Troy allows the Garden to settle.
Lindsay Troy: Hello, Hayes.
Hayes Hanlon: Um…hello…my Queen…
Unsure of what to do, the Event Horizon performs a short bow, one arm reaching across the chest and everything. Lindsay purses her lips, trying not to laugh at Hanlon’s formality, because while it’s awkward it’s also a little endearing.
Lindsay Troy: At ease, kiddo. It’s just us out here with 15,000 or so of our friends. And Richard.
She looks over to the announcer and gives him a little smile and a wave. Richard taps the end of his pen against his temple then points it at Lindsay in salute.
Lindsay Troy: So. Mister PRIME Superfan. (looking back to Hayes) You’ve had a pretty good year, huh?
Hayes Hanlon: I mean, I wouldn’t compare it to Youngblood. Or Sykes and Calvin. But, yeah. I think so.
Lindsay Troy: I would. First champion of ReVival Era, answered the call on short notice and beat a legend in the Russian Bear at UltraViolence, beat our current Universal Champion before he held the belt. Not bad for a rookie season.
The Event Horizon’s mustache lifts into a smile as the Queen lists off the highlights of his ear
Hayes Hanlon: You know, I guess you’re right..
Lindsay Troy: How about making it better. Interested?
A pause, and curious lift of the eyebrow.
Hayes Hanlon: Um…sure?
Lindsay Troy: Got any plans for Colossus?
An excited murmur rolls through the crowd. Hayes takes a moment to look around the arena, his own nervous excitement starting to surface.
Hayes Hanlon: Uh, can’t say I do…
Lindsay Troy: How about a Uni Title match?
Vegas, you know what to do.
Nick Stuart: Oooohhhh my!!!! You heard it here, folks! The CEO just offered up a shot at the Universal Title to Hayes Hanlon! At Colossus!!!!
Richard Parker: If this kid pukes all over the ring right now…
Hanlon’s jaw might as well have hit the floor as the crowd rumbles at the announcement. Troy smirks, and Hayes is absolutely struck, completely caught off guard, and 100% has no idea what to do with his hands.
Lindsay Troy: Biggest stage of them all for the biggest prize of them all. All that’s left to figure out is whether you’ll be facing the villain one more time or facing your childhood hero. Seems like the perfect way to put a bow on Night Two, don’t you think?
Hayes, still looking like someone brought him 200 corgi puppies to play with, is able to lift the mic to his lips. The crowd cheers once more, eager for his response. However, this time, among their excitement a poisonous cackle pierces through before the Event Horizon can say a word. The cackle eventually becomes the only thing that can be heard, as it drowns out the audience with the help of a microphone. The hiss echoes throughout the MGM Grand, and hits like a hammer to a nail with every boom.
Nick Stuart: Look! Up in his skybox! It’s Jiles! He’s the one cackling!
Richard Parker: THAT SCUM!
The announce team is right. The cackle does indeed emanate from the Champion inside his skybox. There, he sits upon a plush throne; dressed in a funeral black tracksuit because later on tonight someone is going into the ground. To his left is a milk carton with a picture of his “lost” T-shades on the side of it. To his right is a bright, neon sign which reads “NO SMOKING.”
Nick Stuart: Looks like COOLYMPUS bumped up security, as if that were even possible to begin with.
Radiant, Jiles stands from his throne, and looks over the audience beneath him.
His glow intensifies, causing him to make an inappropriate and lewd hand gesture. Then, he turns his attention to the ring.
Cancer Jiles: Well, well, well. How about that? What a time to be alive?! Real quick, another round of applause for Little Hayes Liplotion?
The crowd hoots.
Cancer Jiles: Yes, Little Hayes gets to stay out late and play with the older kids. The MAIN EVENT at COOLOSSUS. That’s quite the accomplishment for the man of many. I mean, sure the event isn’t named after you, and you’re going to be the challenger, but still it’s the MAIN EVENT with a chance for the snot to stop running from your nose.
Mom says something to Hayes that the microphones don’t pick up. It was probably reassuring and had to do with Nova winning tonight. Hanlon nods in response.
Cancer Jiles: Say, Mom, while you’re down there do me a favor, would you?
Lindsay Troy: No.
Cancer Jiles: Thanks, go on and show Little Hayes what my title looks like. Show him what a man’s title looks like. Let him get a good look, too. He can even hold it with both of his hands if he wants.
Lindsay rolls her eyes. Hayes also rolls his eyes and shakes his head.
Cancer Jiles: That there isn’t some FIVE STAR mumbo jumbo nonsense. That there is what being number one by definition is all about. That there is mine, Hayes, and like it or not there is no one, not you, not Nova, not Mom, that can take it from me. Not tonight. Not next week, or the week after that– and certainly not at my namesake, COOLOSSUS.
The crowd boos.
Of course they do.
It does not break Jiles’ COOLYMPIAN reserve.
Cancer Jiles: Silly, little, Hayes. You’re either too young or too stupid to see it, but Lady Troy didn’t grant you the opportunity of a lifetime.
The UNIVERSAL Champion nods with self righteous indignation. Hayes flips him off.
Cancer Jiles: She put your head in the guillotine, and at COOLOSSUS the blade drops.
Exaggerated decapitation gesture.
Lindsay Troy: Are you done being dramatic yet?
The PRIMEates cheer loudly and the Champ’s eyes go wide from the insolence. You’ll have to believe us because, y’know, T-Shades. He quickly leans over the railing to his skybox to ensure his words will reach the ring faster. Richard Parker gasps, as if a long awaited dream was about to come true.
Cancer Jiles: As a matter of fact—
Lindsay Troy: Yeah, you are.
Instantly, Jiles’ mic is cut off. Almost like magic. Almost like the production team was praying for the Queen to give the word.
Lindsay Troy: I know everyone was hoping you’d fall like Humpty Dumpty just now, but then we’d all be denied the pleasure of seeing you get your ass kicked by Caes tonight. And trust me when I tell you, nobody’s looking forward to that more than me.
Richard Parker: That’s a lie and she knows it.
Nick Stuart: Calm down, bud.
Lindsay Troy: Let me tell you something about Colossus, Pizmo. It’s not just PRIME’s biggest show of the year, it’s my show. Not because I’m captaining this ship now, but because it’s where I made my name. Nobody successfully defended the Universal Title there until me. Only one other person ever did it after. Nobody else is undefeated at Colossus but me. And it’s only because I love to revel in your failures that I’ve allowed this “COOLOSSUS” nonsense to go on as it has. Because it’s always fun to see your balloon get popped. And, because if you somehow manage to survive tonight, I don’t think you have what it takes to follow in my footsteps.
She gives a quick nod of her head toward Hayes, then sneers back up at Jiles.
Lindsay Troy: (tilting her head toward Hayes) But I think he does, and I know that just boils you up inside.
The Maestro doesn’t crack, or he wants you to think he doesn’t crack. That is to say his smile might still be wide, however if you look closely the mirror tint on his T-Shades are in need of a good defrosting.
Lindsay Troy: Hayes? Any parting thoughts for my dear little Bandit boy up there? He’s got a big match I’m sure he needs to prepare for.
Hanlon smirks, then turns his eyes back up to the box.
Hayes Hanlon: I’d say I’m looking forward to leaving you lying in the ring…again…at Colossus, buddy. But if Nova has anything to say about it, I think you’ll be watching me from that box instead.
Another rumbling roar from the MGM Garden Arena. Hayes offers a half-assed two-finger salute to the COOLympian, who remains frozen like the T-1000 covered with liquid nitrogen. “Black Hole” hits the speakers, and Troy says a couple more words to Home Run Hayes before he turns to the crowd, arms outstretched.
Nick Stuart: Book it, folks! The Event Horizon! Colossus! Night Two! For the Universal Championship!
Richard Parker: But is it against the scumbag? Or the Hall of Famer?
Nick Stuart: Let’s pay some bills so we can find out! Nova and Cancer Jiles for the Universal Champion still to come, but first! “The Crownless King” Coral Avalon squares up with the Russian Bear! Right here! Next!
Richard Parker: On the ACE Network!
POPCORN AND PATIENCE
Backstage, as ReV18 carries on, we’re treated to the pacing of Coral Avalon as he prepares himself mentally for his contest against Ivan Stanislav that is mere moments away. In the background of the shot, Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips stand there with their trademark salty snack of popcorn.
Coral Avalon is trying very hard not to notice the popcorn.
But he can’t.
Coral Avalon: Seriously. I know I said you could accompany me this week, but… I’m afraid to ask why you have the popcorn. Again.
Joe Fontaine: Popcorn’s good when you’re about to witness the Russian space program at work. Feels like I’m back in school, sleeping in a planetarium again. We’re gonna witness a new shooting star tonight. It’s gonna be fantastic. I mean, Sid and I even have a prop bet on how far into the crowd Ivan’s gonna launch you.
Coral tries very hard not to smack his forehead with his own palm. No. It’s too early in this conversation to do that. There will be plenty of times later for him to do this. Just watch. One of those two dipshits is bound to say something even dumber later.
Coral Avalon: I liked this dynamic better when it was me doing what you’re doing now.
Joe Fontaine: Funny how that works.
Coral Avalon: Look, I know last week didn’t pan out for me. What I don’t know is why you’re eating popcorn when I’m about to get out there to fight Ivan Stanislav.
Joe Fontaine: ‘Cuz popcorn’s delicious.
Sid Phillips: We’d be eating catering either way. At least this way, we can enjoy ourselves while you enter a low geosynchronous orbit above the MGM Grand.
Coral Avalon: Seriously?
Sid Phillips: Look, man. I haven’t done a powerbomb in almost two months. I mean, good for you that you’re able to get out there and do your thing, but… we haven’t.
Joe Fontaine hands Sid the popcorn bucket. The big guy takes it and starts munching away as Joe approaches Coral.
Joe Fontaine: Hey. We’ve been doing this your way the whole time. Training, eating prayers, saying our vitamins, that kind of thing.
Coral Avalon: Not sure about some of those.
Joe Fontaine: And you know where that got us? A pat on our back and some kind words from a man in a blueberry mask after we went out there and lost in front of everyone. And after all that work to get that far, I thought that all we needed to do was get back out there to earn our shot again. Turns out, what we should’ve done to get another shot any time we want was to try and do a big torture instead.
Coral turns significantly to Joe. When he palms his face, it’s to slide his hand down to wipe away a cold sweat that hadn’t quite formed yet. He calmly steps up to Joe, and while his tone remains polite, his expression and body language suggests a man willing to pick a fight.
Coral Avalon: Joe, that’s a very slippery slope you’re looking down. There’s no getting back up that slope once you’ve fallen down it. There’s jagged rocks at the end. Also, discarded syringes, broken glass, and at least one rabid badger. My point is, you don’t want to go down that path. It never ends well.
Joe holds up his hands, pleadingly.
Joe Fontaine: Hey, I know there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. It’s just that lately, doing things the “right way” seems to be losing.
Sid Phillips: I mean, the right way involves powerbombs, so I’m all for the right way, personally.
Both Coral and Joe turn to Sid. Sid responds by stuffing his face with more popcorn.
Sid Phillips: What? What I’d say?
They ignore him.
Coral Avalon: Listen, Joe. I understand the frustration, but let’s put a pin on the whole “considering war crimes” talk. For forever. Besides, other than Jared and Justine, nobody’s beaten you guys in the ring. So your number will get called up sooner rather than later. Just be patient.
Joe Fontaine: “Be patient.” Right. Hey, man, quick question. How well did FLAMBERGE react when you told him to be patient?
Coral simply glares down at Joe, but it’s clear that the question rattles him a little.
Joe Fontaine: Not well, I take it?
Joe crosses his arms and glares back up at Coral.
Joe Fontaine: Funny how that worked out, huh?
He waves for Sid to follow him.
Joe Fontaine: Come on, Sid. Let’s “be patient” at ringside. Maybe the boss will teach us how his patience works against the Berlin Wall of pro wrestling.
He walks past Coral, who simply lets him walk by. Coral stands there for a few moments, casting a glance at Sid. Sid puts a little more popcorn in his mouth, then shrugs his big shoulders.
Sid Phillips: Don’t look at me. I gave up thinking about anything but powerbombs in this company a while ago.
Sid holds out the bucket of popcorn, which Coral looks at incredulously for a few moments.
Sid Phillips: Want some?
Coral waves his hand dismissively and goes to make his way to ringside.
E.C. AND THE BEAR
Backstage, a hulking figure’s booming voice can be heard jovially chattering in his native tongue to his comrade, Alexei Ruslan. The tremendous Ivan Stanislav stands with his back toward approaching danger. That danger comes in the form of one Dave Gibson and his protege, Eddie Cross.
Dave Gibson: Well, well, well. I had heard you were here. I guess it’s true what they say; old legends never die, they just gain weight.
Ruslan’s head peers around Ivan’s body as he sees the source of the “introduction,” if one could call it that, and his brows push together as he sneers. Stanislav turns and lifts his own eyebrow curiously while muttering something to himself in Russian.
Ivan Stanislav: Кто теперь должен врезаться в стену?
Stanislav immediately recognizes Gibson, and his expression doesn’t improve much. Ruslan is the first to speak.
Alexei Ruslan: It is just Dave Gibson, Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: In case you had forgotten who this… fellow… was?
Ivan Stanislav: I do not forget. Also, Gibson, I have never heard such a phrase in all my life. I think you made it up just now. Eh Alexei?
Alexei Ruslan: Indeed.
The two Russians cross their arms in unison and stare at the duo of Dave Gibson and Eddie Cross. Dave looks at Eddie and smirks in his Carolina way. Eddie listens intently to his mentor.
Dave Gibson: Believe it or not, Eddie, this guy used to mortify the hearts of entire locker rooms. As strong as they come, and successful, too. But that was a long time ago, wasn’t it, Ivan?
Dave peers to Alexei, looking through him.
Dave Gibson: I see you’re still clinging on to greatness like a bad case of athlete’s foot. Must get awful cold standing in that shadow.
The two Russians look up and down at each other for a moment, then look back at Gibson and Cross, once again, in unison. Ruslan bristles and clenches his fists, but Ivan speaks before Ruslan can pipe off.
Ivan Stanislav: (with a loud sigh) The two of us have been working together since far before Ivan dominated wrestling world, Gibson. And to clarify your point, that was not a long time ago.
Ivan Stanislav: Ivan still mortifies the hearts of locker rooms, including this one. So what is this about? Are you just spouting off words against my frame so they reverberate back into your ear?
A confident, almost brash, chuckling is the response from Gibson.
Dave Gibson: No, no, no. I just couldn’t believe you were willing to risk your legacy and come back. I had to see it for myself. A lot of guys in your position, they would see the writing on the wall for what it is.
He motions to Eddie and nods at his pupil.
Dave Gibson: I also wanted you to meet my student, Eddie. I wanted you to look into the eyes of progress and see that no man, not even you, stays on top of this sport forever.
Stanislav inhales loudly through his nose and the hair in his nostrils causes the air to squeak. His expression is somewhat indifferent, but his brow is lifted. Ruslan, however, purses his lips together and looks up at Ivan pensively, then over at the student of Gibson. At this moment, his poker face isn’t working so well and there is a hint of concerned calculation in his eyes, which narrow carefully. Ivan clears his throat and finally looks over at Cross.
Ivan Stanislav: You keep hearing this dog yap in your ear long enough, Edward, and you will get hurt. Come now Gibson, you know better than to try to get a rise out of me regarding this boy. I do not want to put him down before he even gets started. Why, his handler has not even given him…
Ivan accents the next word and leans forward slightly, his arms still crossed, and stares at Eddie.
Ivan Stanislav: …permission… to speak.
Dave thinks about it for a few seconds, turns his head slightly, slowly, and raises his brows while glancing at Eddie.
Dave Gibson: Well? Are you going to take that?
Eddie Cross looks up at Ivan, let’s face it everyone looks up at Ivan. He steps forward, removes his yellow tinted glasses, and looks directly in Ivan’s eyes with his intense green iris burning like demonic energy. His voice is deep, raspy, and a little bit serpentine.
Eddie Cross: My name…is Eddie Cross, not Edward. I know you know that quite well. But you don’t know anything else about me.
The youth takes a beat while assessing his monumental elder.
Eddie Cross: Here’s something I know: I know you are dangerous, and I’m sure you will find some way to tell me all about your accomplishments and try to blow me off as a threat.
He narrows his eyes, not leaving Ivan’s gaze.
Eddie Cross: But that would be a mistake, because I am a threat. I’m a threat you’ve never encountered. Meanwhile, everything about you, it’s all out there online. You haven’t changed one bit from the past, Ivan. You’re still the same…old…man that you always were.
The younger man stares, unflinching, into the eyes of a man that has terrorized countless before him. Stanislav considers this and watches the fiery young wrestler meet his gaze directly. He straightens his back slowly and takes note of him as his mouth twists into a hint of a frown. He looks down at Alexei without moving his head, Ruslan does the same, looking up at Ivan. The Russian Bear runs his tongue along the outside of his teeth, which pushes out his lips slightly.
Ivan Stanislav: If I had a ruble for every young pup who reminded me of how many birthdays I have had, then got into the ring with me and ended up staring up at the ceiling, I would be richer than President Putin…
Ivan clears his throat and inclines his big chin and stares down at the two men along the bridge of his nose. It takes a moment, and Ivan’s eyes search Eddie’s face, even if his head doesn’t move. The sharp cheekbones, the bright haunting green eyes, the accent. The lightbulb goes off internally.
Ivan Stanislav: Yet, you see I do know something of you; You are a Bolamba, for better or worse; I am sure of it. You have your father’s stubborn tenacity. Probably some of his foolhardiness as well. And if you gathered Gibson’s attention, well, he’s probably trying to get something out of you for himself.
This comment makes Dave bristle. What comes next widens his eyes and reddens his face.
Ivan Stanislav: Since you are so keen on knowing things, let me tell you something about your mentor: This louse was opening matches while Ivan was winning world titles.
Gibson steps forward, glaring at the big man with a nasty temperament and wildness in his eyes. It’s no secret the subject of titles has always been a sore spot for him.
Dave Gibson: Louse? Does a louse wear the finest shoes? Does a louse have custom cut jackets? Does a louse eat dinner with the mayor and the city council right here in Las Vegas, Nevada? I don’t think so, Red!
Gibson takes off his jacket, throws it down, and begins to undo the gold and silver bracelet holding a Patek Philippe tourbillon timepiece as Eddie reaches over and places a hand calmly on Daves, stopping him while his watch hangs loosely. Ruslan backs up warily, just a step, as he sees Dave start to posture and the danger behind Eddie’s eyes. A piece of metal slides from within his coat sleeve into his palm, but he doesn’t produce it.
Eddie Cross: It’s just his game, Dave. Remember you taught me not to play their games; we play our own game.
Dave snorts indignantly while Eddie turns his attention back to Ivan. The mountainous Russian towers over the normally tall Eddie.
Eddie Cross: Timo Bolamba might be my father, but he didn’t give me anything, and I’ve asked for nothing from him…I don’t want his legacy…or his name. I will make my own, even if I have to start right now and do what he couldn’t by beating you.
Ivan inhales more and his chest pushes out. He undergoes the Herculean task of keeping his anger in check, which is a rare feat. He tightens his jaw and the hinges bulge beneath his beard. He points at Eddie with two huge fingers.
Ivan Stanislav: One cannot ignore history, family, or not, and think it does not exist, Eddie Cross. The last… fool… who spouted off to me in hallway ended up going through a wall. I make no illusions of my age and I make no illusions of what I can do.
Ivan breathes hard and he grits his teeth as the muscles in his arms, back, and shoulders tense up. He continues to point, but this time at Gibson.
Ivan Stanislav: He has the pedigree and he has the fire, hm? And I reckon he has the skill. But there are ways one can achieve greatness without prodding a bear. I do this once, and whether you want to accept it or not, Eddie, it is what it is:
Ivan looks back at Eddie.
Ivan Stanislav: Out of deference to your father… nyet… to your family, I will not…
Ivan pauses, maybe for dramatic effect?
Ivan Stanislav: …yeet… you through a wall for following your handler’s example. But you two come to Ivan and Alexei and you puff your chests up and try to, what, pick a fight? With me?! This is what they call trolling, nyet?
Ivan’s voice grows louder and then suddenly drops into a growl. The Kaiju sized Russian looks at Eddie, then to Dave, and back slowly.
Ivan Stanislav: A word of advice? Don’t go dancing to the tune of this leech. He will get you in trouble.
He smiles, but it’s not particularly warm.
Ivan Stanislav: We’ll be seeing you…Edward Cross.
As Ivan turns away, Eddie keeps his gaze focused, even precise. Dave fumes, sweating a bead, but he swoops down and grabs up his jacket, draping it over his forearm. He takes a deep breath and runs his hands through his hair. Meanwhile, Ivan and Alexei walk away, and mutter to one another.
Ivan Stanislav: All I want is bag of popcorn before I crush some Coral. Every time, Alexei, this happens!
Ruslan, however, turns and looks behind him and frowns to himself as he stares at the two with a more concerned look. His attention is drawn away as Ivan complains.
Alexei Ruslan: It is because you are so popular, Ivan Sergeiovich…
As Alexei and Ivan disappear around a corner, Eddie speaks in a hushed tone to the specter of the Russians, gravel and menace in his voice.
Eddie Cross: That’s the difference between my Father and me, Ivan. If I want to fight you…
He pauses and slowly backs away, taking Dave’s lead as his mentor slaps him lightly on the arm. He keeps his eyes on the spot where Ivan disappeared.
Eddie Cross: You won’t see me coming.
CORAL AVALON vs. IVAN STANISLAV
Our scene fades from backstage.
Nick Stuart: A big match up here.
Richard Parker: Literally in the case of one man.
Nick Stuart: Ivan Stanislav and Coral Avalon. Two figures, one from wrestling’s past, a massive tank of a figure returning to the forefront after a long time in slumber. The other, distinct for another personality, a world traveler, a trendsetter, one of the most undoubtedly underrated and beloved wrestlers the world over…finally given a chance to step out on his own, once again, on his own terms.
Richard Parker: Sounds like you want to give him a hug.
Nick Stuart: Well my children do enjoy his web show–
Richard Parker: SHHHHHHHHHH…we can’t speak its name right now. ACE NETWORK is watching!
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir erupts as Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Rulsan emerge from the backstage area.
Vince Howard: This contest is scheduled from one fall and has a thirty minute time limit. Coming down the aisle, hailing from Arkhangelsk, Russia, standing seven-feet one inches tall and weighing in at 400 lbs. IVVVVAAAAAAAAAAN STAAAAAAAANISLAAAAAAV!
Stanislav and Ruslan raise their arms, side by side, roar at the crowd, and pointedly make their way towards the ring. Stanislav points and jaws at several fans along the way, while Ruslan points and hawks at the greatness of the Russian Bear. Stanislav steps over the top rope and thunders into the ring. He raises his arms over his head and bellows at the camera.
Nick Stuart: Ivan looks so impressive. So massive. Even at his age, to say he isn’t would be a lie.
The lights turn out in the MGM Grand, and the opening notes of “Real Me” kick in.
After a few moments of eerie darkness, a spotlight shines at the entrance, covered in smoke. There, standing in the center of that spotlight, is the silhouette of a man in a patchwork cloak, carrying a battle standard in one hand. As he stands there, two more individuals appear from the mist. One is a very large powerbomb boy who does the big powerbomb. The other is carrying what appears to be a cylindrical shaped object with him.
Richard Parker: Oh look, the action figure comes with accessories. Dumb ones.
The moment the guitars swell, the three walk together to the ring and the lights come back on.
A few things are made clear.
The first is Coral Avalon’s battle standard, which depicts the logo of the Crownless King, the skull with half of a broken crown on it. Very standard. Haha, we make joke. The second is that Sid Phillips is bringing a bucket of popcorn with him to the ring. Coral catches a glimpse of the popcorn at the corner of his eye, and rolls his eyes at the sight of it. The third is that Joe Fontaine is dressed as he is in a garish green sparkling suit.
Vince Howard: 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!
Once they reach the ring, Coral goes to hand off the standard to Joe. Joe, however, decides instead to take the popcorn bucket from Sid. Coral sighs, and hands off the standard to Sid instead. He then hops onto the apron and through the ropes. 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: Sensing a little tension here with Joe Fontaine here.
Richard Parker: What? Is he the one that comes with the kung fu grip?
Nick Stuart: Excuse me? The Winds of Change were the most recent number one contenders for the PRIME Tag Team Championships. They pushed the Kings Of Popsicles to their limit in the ring.
Richard Parker: And in the battle of the berries…am I supposed to act like we all didn’t lose?
Sid sets the battle standard in a lean against the ring post, and both he and Joe stand at one corner. Joe passes the popcorn bucket to Sid and they share a little bit of the delicious corn treat.
There’s no time. No hesitation. Coral Avalon knows he’s at a distinct disadvantage given the immense size of Ivan Stanislav. The one thing he has going for him, against this Russian Bear, is stamina. He takes off as soon as the bell rings, and launches himself at the OSW and PCW Legend.
Nick Stuart: ARMAMENT ONE! RHONGOMYNIAD! CORAL THROWING EVERYTHING HE HAS IN THAT YAKUZA KICK!
Richard Parker: Uhhhh…
Coral can climb a ladder, for sure. But this ladder is a bit too high, and while his boot strikes violently at the massive chest of the Russian Bear, all it manages to do is make him take a single step back. Coral resets, looks, then bounces off the ropes, blind charging again, blasting Ivan with ANOTHER Rhongomyniad. This would be a deep hole to get out of for pretty much everyone on the roster. The Russian Bear’s chest surely has a boot print plastered across it. And yet, there he stands, looking down at the smaller Avalon.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Richard Parker: Uh ooooooooooh!
Nick Stuart: OH MY LORD!
Richard Parker: GOOD HOYT!
Nick Stuart: Ivan…Ivan Stanislav absorbed two Rhongomyniads and barely moved and just used his massive paw to cave in Coral Avalon’s chest! And Avalon is INSTANTLY down!
Popcorn flies. Not for nothing, but Joe Fontaine literally threw his bucket into the air and screamed on the impact. Sid Phillips is doing the Powerbomb-ath (math has been destroyed, all that remains is powerbombs) as he winces at the blow.
Sid Phillips: POWERBOMB, CORAL! USE THE POWER OF POWERBOMBS!
Coral Avalon would roll his eyes…if they weren’t rolled into the back of his head.
Richard Parker: Do they have oaks in Russia? Because that looks like he just got blasted with one!
Nick Stuart: Coral trying to get away, but his eyes are wide. He’s grabbing his chest. Rolling away and now back on his feet. Ivan is stalking…
Richard Parker: Coral not backing down!
The Crownless King rushes in and reels off a trio of forearms to the bearded jaw of the Russian. The blows are heavy, but Stanislav merely folds his arms, only to surge his body forward, sending him flying back.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Nick Stuart: Jeeeeesus.
Richard Parker: Hey, Coral…I know the Winds are supposed to be the idiots and all, but maybe all these conventional blows? Not the wisest move.
There is no follow up. Ivan stands center in the ring, the old Russian Bear laughing heartily as he watches Coral scurry back on his hands and knees. Within moments of getting up, he grabs onto the massive leg of Stanislav, looking to twist or lift or do something to it. Ivan finally unfolds his arms, throwing a clubbing blow to the back of the Crownless King, causing him to go to the mat. Stanislav then lifts Avalon up to his feet, all before launching him in the air with a makeshift looking hip toss that is less hip and much more toss.
Yeet Count: 1
Nick Stuart: Coral Avalon airborn and crashing to the canvas hard!
Richard Parker: This…this is ugly!
As Avalon tries to move, Stanislav merely scoops him from the canvas like a child, once again launching the Crownless King skyward in another vicious toss.
Yeet Count: 2
Joe Fontaine: DON’T GO TO YEET PARISH! NOBODY WANTS TO GO TO YEET PARISH!
Avalon struggles to his feet, the crowd starting to clap. As he does, Alexei tries to wave the crowd down from their revelry. Ivan grabs Avalon by the arm, whipping him hard into the ropes. On the carom, before Ivan can launch him yet again, Avalon slides between his wide stanced legs, ending up behind him, all before launching a dropkick into the back of Ivan’s knee.
Nick Stuart: Oh…that’s a smart play. The strength of that blow brought Stanislav to a kneel.
Richard Parker: I don’t think that’s a real chink in the armor…maybe a mind game, and simple flex, give him hope…
A heavy european uppercut snaps into the face of Ivan Stanislav, and since he is now at a more manageable height, the strength of the blow is much greater. No laughter here. And another. And another. Avalon takes off, springboarding off the middle rope, driving toward the Russian Bear with a flying forearm.
Nick Stuart: What a show of athleticism by the former Baron Von Blackberry!
Richard Parker: That isn’t very kruta!
Nick Stuart: …excuse me?
Richard Parker: Um…
Nick Stuart: Are you dropping Russian here?
Richard Parker: Broadening my horizons. Rosetta Stone works! Я люблю твою мать, Россия!
For those of you who want to know what Richard Parker just said? It roughly translates to “I love your mother, Russia.”
Even with the heaviness of the blow, Ivan still isn’t on his back. A running knee to the face changes that.
Nick Stuart: Coral Avalon quick like a hiccup! Cover!
The Russian Bear pushes The Crownless King off his chest like a bench press bar, exploding through as he sends him airborne. Avalon falls on his chest. Everyone cringes.
Yeet Count: 3
Nick Stuart: This is going to be rough. I think conventional wrestling might be a difficult strategy to deal with Ivan Stanislav. He might be the oldest member on the roster, but he’s sculpted out of granite. And he’s always dealt well with pain…
Coral scurries back to his feet, looking to go after the rising Stanislav, particularly his knee. Like a mule, the Russian Bear pushes him away, but the Crownless King is dogged in his attack, especially with what is taking place. Another mule kick, and on the third attempt, Stanislav grabs at his throat with his massive paw. Like a horror movie monster, Stanislav rises, Coral in hand, back onto his feet, lifting him from the canvas…then off his feet. Avalon tries hammerfisting at the Russian’s forearm and wrist to break the hold, but there’s no budging. Stanislav’s old friend, Timo Bolamba, has to step in.
Timo Bolamba: Let go of the choke Ivan!
Ivan Stanislav: NYET!
Bolamba steps in and begins his count, the argumentative Stanislav refusing to give.
Timo Bolamba: ONE!
Ivan Stanislav: NYET!
Timo Bolamba: TWO! I’M WARNING YOU!
Ivan Stanislav: NYET!
Timo Bolamba: THREE! I WILL DISQUALIFY YOU!
Ivan Stanislav: NYET!
Timo Bolamba: FOUR!
Ivan Stanislav: NYET!
Timo is about to make his fifth count, but before he does, Stanislav throws Avalon across the ring.
Yeet Count: 4
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Coral struggles into the turnbuckles, and is then almost flattened by the charging Stanislav. Thankfully, he sees him before he arrives, ducking out of the ring to the apron, allowing the immense Russian Bear’s chest to blast into the turnbuckle with a sickening crunch. He stumbles back a few steps, wobbly, grabbing at his massive chest. Avalon, having given space so he isn’t sent flying from the backdraft, takes off running, leaping to the top ropes, and then jumping onto the back of Stanislav with a headscissor.
What happens here is a highlight reeler maker.
Nick Stuart: POISON RANA! POISON RANA ON IVAN STANISLAV! OH MY WORD!
Richard Parker: GOOD HOYT GOOD MOTHERS RUSSIA MOTHERS RUSSIA OH MY HOYT HE MIGHT’VE SCRAMBLED HIS BRAINS TO BORSCHT!
The blow isn’t a true poisonrana. Ivan doesn’t flip over. Coral released as the Russian Bear timbered downward, the top of his head slamming into the canvas.
Yeet Count: 5
Nick Stuart: Just immense power showcased by the Russian Bear!
Richard Parker: Even in trouble, the Russian Super Athlete is strong as can be!
Coral lands on his feet this time, launching and landing a kneedrop to the brow of the knee of the Russian Bear. Taking advantage of his downed opponent, the Crownless King darts off and springboards off the ropes, landing an asai moonsault across the massive chest of Stanislav.
Nick Stuart: Avalon knows he can’t outstrike Stanislav. He has to give himself as much power as he can. Launching himself. Using his body as a weapon.
Richard Parker: A torpedo. A human torpedo going for a tank.
Having worn the Russian Bear down a little more, Avalon returns to the knee, driving it into the canvas with a whip. The wounded Stanislav roars, trying to drag himself away, leaving Avalon, who picks up the leg once again, to follow up with another whip into the canvas. Wasting little time, Avalon seizes Ivan’s foot, spinning through into a standing toe-hold, straining the ancient knee ligaments of the Russian Bear. Bolamba draws close, checking to see if Stanislav will give.
Ivan Stanislav: NNNNNNYET!
With a fury, the Russian Bear tries to reach for the Crownless King, but all Avalon does is spin the toehold around, maintain his grip, causing the seemingly impervious Stanislav to gripe in immense pain.
Nick Stuart: Oh wow! Avalon is doing amazing here! He’s actually managing to keep Stanislav grounded, using the knee to his advantage. Great strategy from the seasoned pro.
Richard Parker: This seems…this seems conspiratorial. I can’t believe my eyes. Is…Coral Avalon kryptonite for the Russian Bear?! It seems unfathomable!
Maybe for Richard Parker, but for those that know Coral Avalon, they know he’s no neophyte. Around the globe, he’s known for his wrestling acumen. Hell, while the Russian Bear hibernated, he’d not only debuted in the sport, but had risen as one of its truly underrated heroes. And now, with this big chance, he isn’t about to let Ivan Stanislav make his bones on his legacy. Maintaining hold of the leg, he does a dragon whip, maintaining the hold and grabbing onto a knee bar.
Nick Stuart: WOW!
Richard Parker: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
It’s not an armament, but it’s devastating all the same. There is no delay, the Crownless King torquing the knee with a force one would see from Rousimar Palhares. The Russian Bear can feel his ligaments strain, can feel them at their maximum capacity. He reaches for the ropes and, even with his massive size, the reality is, he’s in the middle of the ring. He tries sitting up, but the torque brings him to his back, and he yelps, honest to God yelps, from the pain. Timo rushes over, looking to see if Ivan is ready to give. An impossibility. This can’t be happening. Russia is on edge. Their hero is being undone with this submission hold.
He looks out of his eyes and gets enough of Avalon’s positioning, knowing what he must do. Timo isn’t looking at the hold, only at him. He takes his other leg, massive as it is.
And drives the heel of his other foot right into the nutsack of Coral Avalon.
Nick Stuart: What the?!
Richard Parker: Brilliant submission defense!
You ever been hit in the nuts by a tree trunk? No? Ask Coral Avalon how that feels. Because he’s released the hold, and as his hands shoot between the space where his privates once were, Ivan Stanislav, pissed as can be, pushes himself off the canvas. Hobbled, human, humbled. How dare this ant do this to him? He stumbles over, grabbing Avalon by the throat, and violently jerking him in the air.
Yeet Count: 6
Nick Stuart: IRON CURTAIN!
What should follow should be instant, but the Russian Bear falls to his knee. He grimaces, hands grabbing to his suspenders. He wills himself back up and grabs onto Avalon, who very well had this match in hand until a blatant low blow.
Nick Stuart: THE RED SCARE! AVALON PRACTICALLY THROWN ACROSS THE RING LIKE A RAG DOLL!
The explosion takes his body into the ropes, then back to the canvas in violent short order.
Yeet Count: 7
Stanislav falls on top of Avalon.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: What the…wait…Avalon’s foot was under the rope!
Richard Parker: No it wasn’t!
Nick Stuart: Yes it was! Right as Timo was counting three, Avalon’s foot went under the rope!
Richard Parker: It was well after! Well after!
A replay shows the closeness. It’s tight enough that a judgment call could be made to reverse this. But from Timo’s eye, it’s a touch too late.
Vince Howard: Your winner…by pinfall…IIIIIIIVAN! STAAAAAAAAANISLAV!!
Richard Parker: Oh Russia! Our home and native land–
Nick Stuart: This…wow…Coral had this match in hand. His strategy was working. But he got cheated by the Russian Bear!
Richard Parker: You can’t prove that.
The camera doesn’t lie.
Unfortunately, this round goes to Ivan Stanislav. And with that, we go elsewhere.
Backstage, in front of a large PRIME banner, stands Simon Tiller. The eager young interviewer smiles warmly into the camera as he adjusts his glasses.
Simon Tiller: Ladies and gentlemen, my guest at this time… a man who is set to face off with Hayes Hanlon coming up shortly… Ned Reform!
The boos begin to echo throughout the arena as Ned Reform steps into frame. He’s dressed in a singlet and looks ready for competition. He also matches Tiller’s smile – although his is decidedly less friendly and infinitely more punchable.
Simon Tiller: Mr. Reform, I…
Ned Reform suddenly reaches up and covers Tiller’s mic. With the mic covered, we can’t hear what Reform says to Tiller… but while The Good Doctor maintains a smile, it appears to be somewhat forced and you get the sense his actual tone isn’t very pleasant. Tiller looks a bit taken aback, but Reform removes his hand from the mic and gestures for him to continue.
Simon Tiller: Uh… uh, that is… Doctor Ned Reform.
Reform barks out a laugh and slaps Tiller on the back in a friendly (but forceful) way.
Ned Reform: That’s right, Mr. Tiller. It is I! And no need for you to overwork your fragile brain cells, my dear lad… I will be asking and answering my own questions tonight, yes?
Tiller’s brow furrows at that. A few uncomfortable seconds hang in the air. Reform reaches out for the mic. Again, a few uncomfortable seconds until Tiller reluctantly hands it over.
Ned Reform: Good boy. Run along now, kiddo. I’m sure there’s electronic games to be played or Tiks to be Tokked or whatever it is you little scamps do.
Simon Tiller: You’re not even that much older than…
Ned Reform’s tone turns sharp.
Ned Reform: Go. Now.
Sensing Reform’s underlying aggression, Tiller moves out of frame. Reform turns back to look directly into the camera, smirking.
Ned Reform: Ladies and gentlemen. Forgive me for taking up precious air space on this fine television program. I assure you that I will be brief and you can get back to the absolute mindless drivel and circus that is the rest of the PRIME roster. But I felt it necessary… that is, I felt compelled… to address the incident from two weeks ago. This shook the wrestling world to its very core, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t even bother to address the controversy. Please… please watch the footage.
We cut away from Reform to get a quick replay of two weeks ago when Alex Steel threw him into his own podium. Back to Ned, who now looks half sad, half disgusted.
Ned Reform: Difficult to watch, I know. But one perseveres, children. And so I am. Alex Steel’s brutal, unprovoked, and frankly savage assault on my person has only sharpened my resolve. And while tonight, Mr. Hayes Hanlon will face the full brunt of my anger, I also want to take this opportunity to address Ms. Steel: you, my Kangaroo-loving compadre, are out. Of. Control.
Ned Reform: You’re an animal. An unhinged brute not fit for civilized company. And while it will no doubt take the completely inept PRIME leadership weeks… months… even years to realize this, eventually you will be exposed. And I warn you thus: Dr. Ned Reform is on a crusade to have you cast out onto the street like the rabid dog that you are. And Dr. Ned Reform can crusade like no other.
The Sage on the Stage points directly into the camera.
Ned Reform: You need to be put down. And mercy killings, my dear Alex, are my specialty.
One last punchable grin before we fade elsewhere.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we’re just moments away from Hayes Hanlon taking on Ned Reform, and…
There’s a buzz in the crowd as a figure makes his way through the entrance and onto the arena stage. And then, once they realize who it is, the buzz grows into a roar.
King Blueberry, dressed in street clothes and the ever-present mask, enters the MGM Grand Garden Arena to no music, no pyro, and no extravagant display on the PRIMEview. If you were to ask him why, he’d tell you that we’re long past the time for the frivolity of Little Big, and that Motley Crue is Justine’s song, and she’s not here tonight.
Richard Parker: Pretty bold of Jared Sykes to make himself a target like this, especially on a night when his partner is still at home recovering from what the Love Convoy did two weeks ago.
Nick Stuart: Well at least none of those asshats are here tonight. They’ve been barred from the arena.
Richard Parker: And with all due respect to the fine staff here at the MGM Grand, we saw how well that worked out at that same show when Paxton Ray managed to get inside the building. Not only that but, wait… did you just say “asshats”?
Nick Stuart: Maybe.
Slung over his right shoulder and held very gingerly is his half of the PRIME Tag Team Championship. Even a casual observer can tell he’s careful not to move it too much, because when your right hand is your dominant side, then a chest wound on that same side makes moving tricky.
His pace quickens when he’s only a few feet away from the ring, building up just enough speed to spring up onto the ring apron with one foot before stepping through the ropes. To date he has never entered a PRIME ring this way, but this gesture is about sending a message. Try as you might to take him out, the Blueberry King is still here.
A microphone is retrieved from the ringside crew.
Richard Parker: Real talk, I kind of hope he’s about to let us know when it’s Darin Zion’s turn to get murdered on television. If I have to listen to one more goddamn “Honk”…
Despite being in possession of the mic, and having the full attention of the MGM Grand upon him, speaking in the ring like this has never been his thing. That he did it four weeks ago to call out Paxton Ray was extraordinary; that he’s out here to do it again is a legitimate anomaly, in that it means you would now need two hands to count the number of times he’s spoken from the inside of a wrestling ring. Now, he paces, letting the gears turn as he tries to figure out exactly what to say. After a moment of this, he pauses in the center of the ring and stares directly into the camera.
King Blueberry: You missed.
Setting the belt down on the canvas, he positions a finger over his right breast, indicating the wound hidden beneath his shirt, and then slowly drags it across to the opposite side just over his heart.
King Blueberry: Basic anatomy lesson, Tristan. You had the right height, but you had the wrong side. Eight inches in the other direction, and the conversation changes. Eight inches in the other direction…
King Blueberry: But you came up short. The target was right there, and you couldn’t hit it. You’re not the first, and I can guarantee you won’t be the last, you’re just the latest name added to a list of people who took their shot and watched it sail wide. Doesn’t matter if it’s a white pantsuit and a steel chair. Doesn’t matter if it’s a psychopath with a light tube fetish. What you get to find out now is the same thing they learned, which is that when you get a shot like that you better damn well make it count, because those don’t come around often. You get to learn that bigger and badder have tried, and they have all FAILED because in case it wasn’t abundantly clear by now I am still fucking here, because you… fucking… missed!!
He takes a moment to regain his composure before continuing.
King Blueberry: But you’re not the reason I’m out here, not really. You see, I need to address a rumor that’s been floating around. According to Matt Mills, I’ve got a one-way plane ticket to New Orleans booked right after Colossus.
King Blueberry: And he’s right.
Nick Stuart: Oh… oh no.
King Blueberry: A few days ago I reached out to a friend of mine about a particular piece of information I thought he might know. You might’ve heard of the guy.
He taps the name on his shirt, the same “Fighting For Jonathan” design he’s worn since UltraViolence. The response from the gathered crowd is predictable.
King Blueberry: See, there’s an issue that needs to get settled, and since it’s not happening here, then I figure the only thing left to do is head down south and get a little dirty. Maybe play in the mud.
Richard Parker: Does that mean…?
Nick Stuart: (softly) The “mud pits.”
King Blueberry: So consider this a courtesy, Paxton, granted it’s one you sure as hell don’t deserve. You’ve got six weeks. Six weeks to kick back, relax, do whatever it is you do in your free time. You don’t need to come here lookin’ for me, because before the year is over I will find YOU!
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
The original cheer is for Blueberry. But with the sudden battle cry forcing its way through the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the intensity of that cheer becomes more sustained. There is no light show, no ballyhoo of pyro. Just Brandon Youngblood, powerwalking from the Argyle Position, dressed for the combat to come against GREAT SCOTT. Save one thing; a ‘Fighting For Jonathan’ shirt. His expression is a scowl. Standard operating procedure. Microphone in hand, the Tower of Babel takes very little time, climbing the ring steps, stepping between the ropes, all as his music powers forward. The PRIME Tag Team Champion stands in the middle of the ring, eyes glued on the Hall of Famer, the look behind his masked eyes puzzlement, a frown from annoyance pouting across his lips.
The size discrepancy is obvious.
With the events of ReVival 17 fresh on everyone’s minds, when Youngblood led the cavalry to finally do something about the Love Convoy’s constant campaign of assault, the tension between Diamond and King takes on a peculiar flavor. The space between the two closes quickly, the intense glower from the former Universal Champion enough to melt most caught in its wake.
Jared Sykes was made of stronger stuff.
The music fades away, the cheering buzz from the fans for the two stars in the ring replacing it. The only movement is Youngblood, cocking his head, arms still at his sides. After a few moments, King Blueberry brings the microphone to his lips.
King Blueberry: I appreciate what you, Nate, and Coral did last week. Believe me, I do. But now really isn’t the time or the place. This is about me and Paxton–
Brandon Youngblood: Shut up.
The interruption stops him cold in his tracks. But not for long. Blueberry’s brow furrows. Two weeks before, this man was reaching to him, calling him brother. Now? The look in his eyes screamed of wanting to snap him in two.
King Blueberry: Excu–
Brandon Youngblood: I said shut up.
There’s some cheers. There’s some boos. Youngblood steps forward. The two are barely within arm’s reach now.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re not built for this.
A shocking gasp from the crowd, followed by the entire arena booing loudly. For a moment, the Blueberry’s mic hand falls, but not before it picks up an exasperated, “Oh, for fuck’s sake.” With his free hand he rubs at his temples for a moment, resigned to the idea that there is a very real chance he might be on the receiving end of a beating for the third straight week for what he’s about to do.
King Blueberry: Okay. Look. Let me make this as clear as I can. I respect what you’ve done here this year, and you’ll forever have my appreciation for coming out two weeks ago. I mean that. But please understand something… I don’t know what you’ve heard, or what you’ve been told…
He stares across the ring, the Knight-errant of Sin City and the Ace of PRIME now within striking distance.
King Blueberry: You do not know me.
Brandon never flinches.
Brandon Youngblood: Last time. Shut up and listen.
The tone sure seems hostile before Youngblood continues.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re not built for this. Not because you can’t fight. Not because you’re not willing. Not because you got a bullshit cause. You say I don’t know you? I don’t. But I’ve been learning. Learning quite a lot lately. From someone who knows you as well as anyone. From what I’ve seen with my own eyes.
There are those that know. For those that don’t, it seems, reluctantly, like the PRIME Tag Team Champion is listening, albeit with a load of hesitation.
Brandon Youngblood: How many times you been in the hospital the last month or so, Jared? How many trips through the ICU? You barely can make it out here without doubling over. You’ve been sliced up. Been victim to war crimes. Battered pillar to post. And I know I can say this because my ass is old too…you ain’t some spring chicken, shrugging off bullets, ready to jump through the window like you’re Superman. No matter how willing your spirit is. No matter what you’re feeling inside.
Youngblood takes a step back. The air of tension has dissipated slightly.
Brandon Youngblood: Nobody else is going to come down this ramp and give you a reality check. So I am. Not because I owe it to you. But because you deserve it. Because you want a piece of Paxton Ray. And he’s supposed to be gone. Bye bye. Fired. But he’s kicking at the door. Breaking in. Hurting people. And it ain’t some scattershot deal. See, you’re not built for this because you’re not a hunter. And he is. And each and every step of the way? He’s proving it to you.
Blueberry grits his teeth.
Brandon Youngblood: What the hell is this? You coming out here, pointing at your heart. Saying Tristan Gladhappy missed? And then you’re announcing, to the world, for all to hear, for him to hear, that you’re going to those Mud Pits? What, is this you telling him to meet you by the flagpole? You challenging his manhood? Every step along the way, Paxton Ray is ahead. On the offensive. And he’s not coming for you. He’s coming for people associated with you. He’s coming for people you care about. And as you stand here, announcing intent, he prowls around your goddamn chicken coop. And the door is open.
Brandon once again steps forward, a slight cock to his head.
Brandon Youngblood: You play by his rules? You knock on the door to his turf? I know what that Butcher is thinking. He’s smiling. Grinning ear to ear. Because you think this is how it works? No. No…you knock on his door, and the next thing you know, you’re flat on your back, a slug burning in your chest. Dying. Dead.
The unappealing sentiment causes the fans to boo.
Brandon Youngblood: And then, he sets up shop in your coop. He rules it. All those people you value? That you care about? That you love? There’s nothing you can do to stop him doing whatever the hell he wants. You’re not built for this. But you know what you are built for, Jared? No more damn proclamations. No more giving him the first move. He’s the outsider. This is your house. Defend it. When you hear him scratch at the windows? When he starts trying to break down your door? You burn the slug in him. You put down the big bad wolf.
That small bit of separation is gone. Brandon’s hand is on Blueberry’s shoulder now.
Brandon Youngblood: You do it on terms you control. You do it on ground you know. And you make sure the people you care about can’t be hurt. Because Paxton Ray? He can hear these words. And he can know what’s coming. But he’s not inside the coop. He’s not in control. You are. And when you have control…you can do whatever the hell you want to him. Beat him down. Break him. Nobody will bat an eye. That’s what you’re built for. That’s what a goddamn King would do.
There’s the faint makings of a grin that creeps across the Blueberry’s lips, one born from relief. It comes from knowing that finally – finally – someone has acknowledged what he’s known since UltraViolence, the truth that no one else seems willing to accept. It started with Rhine, then it moved to Mark; the civilian casualty. All roads lead to the same destination.
The fight is inevitable, and at long last someone else recognizes it.
King Blueberry: There’s just a little problem with that approach. I’m not in control here. This isn’t my company, isn’t my house. He’s fired. Like it fucking matters at this point. Like it’s going to keep him out. So the way I see it I don’t have much of a choice here.
“No, you don’t.”
For the second time tonight, to no music and no fanfare, Lindsay Troy appears in front of the crowd with a microphone in hand. This time, however, she remains on the stage and doesn’t trek down to the ring to meet up with Sykes and Youngblood. Probably because she figures she’s not going to be out here for very long.
Lindsay Troy: You don’t have a choice. Neither of you do. And you’re right, Jared, this isn’t your house…it’s mine. So perhaps the time has come to stop talking amongst yourselves and at cameras and journalists and to start talking directly to me.
Her piercing hazel eyes flick between the Berry and the Diamond.
Lindsay Troy: You know where to find me.
Just as quickly as she appeared, the Queen departs back through the curtain.
The soft thump of a microphone reverberating off the canvas sounds through the arena as Blueberry lets his fall from his grip. Without a word, he turns again to Youngblood and offers a nod of acknowledgement before stepping through the ropes to the arena floor. He moves with purpose back up the ramp, his destination the same as the Queen’s. The exchange that will follow – one that cameras and microphones will not be privy to – is another inevitability to be addressed.
HAYES HANLON vs. NED REFORM
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’s dressed in his standard attire for competition: purple singlet with big white “R,” black knee pads, white boots. Reform stops at the entrance way, smiling broadly, taking in the entire arena as if he is a proud papa looking to his children. Of course… that would be an arena full of children booing the hell out of him. But The Sage on the Stage does not sell that for a moment… and he begins to walk to the ramp, waving and smiling as if he were being welcomed as a conquering hero.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall… introducing first, from Litchfield, Connecticut and weighing in at 226 lbs… NED! REEEEEFORM!
Reform stops mid-walk, furrowing his brow. There is no mic near him, but we don’t need it: we can both read his lips and guess what he’s saying based on history:
Ned Reform (mouthing): …that’s DOCTOR Ned Reform.
Shaking his head in annoyance, Reform resumes his walk to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Ned Reform has a hell of a tall order tonight when he takes on Hayes Hanlon.
Ned steps up onto the apron before climbing to the top turnbuckle while still outside the ring. While standing over the PRIMEates, he puts two fingers under his chin thoughtfully as he gazes around the arena. When he circles the entire place, he smirks and hops down from the turnbuckle. A few swipes of his feet on the canvas later, and he enters the ring. He quickly walks up to Vince Howard, who is preparing himself to introduce Reform’s opponent… but The Good Doctor snatches the mic out of Howard’s hands!
Ned Reform: That’s quite enough out of you, charlatan. Allow a professional to take it from here, yes?
With a scowl, Howard moves away from Ned Reform… who clearly begins to relish the spotlight.
Ned Reform: Hello, children!
Ned Reform: Before I begin tonight’s lesson… the thrashing and subsequent betterment of Mr. Hayes Hanlon… I have an important matter to discuss. I beg of you, children, a moment of respect?
He does not get that. He shakes his head and elects to continue on anyway.
Ned Reform: I would like to draw your attention to these fine gentlemen here in the front row…Tad, Chad, Thad, Brad, and Shad.
There are five men in the front row, all sporting tans and various levels of pageantry. First, there is a man decked out head to toe in black and gold bejewelled clothing replete with cobras and skulls and smells like he has been bathing in POWERBOMB cologne. The second is wearing an expensive polo and a pair of business casual slacks with a gold chain around his neck. The third has a mullet that is covered by a trucker cap with an iron on patch of Calvin pissing on a truck logo. He is wearing a grease stained tee shirt and dingy blue jeans with a tobacco ring in the back pocket. The fourth wears a tee shirt with the logo of a popular electric car company, has perfect teeth, and is probably a TON of fun to talk to at parties. The fifth member of the group has on tactical pants, a tech camo tee shirt with a black rifle logo, tattoo sleeves and no actual military experience.
Ned Reform: These fine, courageous, and upstanding men are members of the Short Dick Defense League, and…
Reform stops when the audience erupts into laughter.
Ned Reform: My God.
He looks around with bug eyes and shakes his head like a disappointed father.
Ned Reform: You people are truly revolting. These men have a condition! A condition! They were born like this, they cannot help it, and yet you mock them!?
Reform leans over the top rope, looking toward the SDDL members.
Ned Reform: Gentlemen. I sincerely apologize for what you’ve had to endure here tonight. Know that if I could, I would gladly teach every mean-spirited and cruel bully in this arena a lesson right here and now. But alas… I will have to settle for the man who has wronged you, Hayes Hanlon! Mr. Hanlon, on behalf of the fine, upstanding, and courageous men in the front row, I implore you… get out here.
Right on cue…
We Came as Romans.
It’s an especially uplifting bellow from the MGM faithful. The music hits especially hard, with real weight behind it. The intro crescendos, and the wall of white flashbulbs behind the entrance is blinding. And there it is; the silhouette of the Event Horizon, reaching to the stars against the light before the music slows.
Home Run Hayes emerges, this time looking more put-together. Hair slicked back. Mustache on point. Tights and boots on, and stepping to the top of the ramp, ready for the chorus to ring.
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEEAAD!!!”
Hayes throws one arm in the air, and starts his march down the ramp, though it’s clear that the announcement from earlier is fresh in his mind, and plastered across the young man’s face.
Nick Stuart: Folks, ReVival 18 will remain a show seared into the memory of the Event Horizon. Earlier, Lindsay Troy called the former Five Star Champion out to this very ring to tell him that he. Home Run Hayes. The Event Horizon, and the ReVival era’s first crowned champion, would receive the honor of a Universal Title shot at Colossus.
Richard Parker: And Cancer Jiles had plenty to say about it, but nobody cares. But it’s a real interesting situation Nick. Hayes taking on Cancer at Colossus is fantastic in its own right, but if Nova wins later this evening and earns the Universal Title for the third time? Well, I’m not sure the rookie can handle the implications.
Meanwhile, Hayes has made his way to the ring, climbed to the second rope, turned 180 degrees to face the ring, and leaned back to point his chest to the sky.
“I FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE IN MY HEEAAD!!!”
Nick Stuart: It’s been a stellar year for Home Run Hayes. Enormous victories at Culture Shock to earn the Five Star Title. A massive upset over Cancer Jiles at ReVival 11. An awe inspiring victory over the Russian Bear at UltraViolence. And now, in the footsteps of his heroes. The Novas. The Brandon Youngbloods. Hayes Hanlon will see his dreams come true at Colossus with a shot at the grandest prize in wrestling.
Richard Parker: But first, Ned Reform, and I hope the kid doesn’t take him lightly.
As the music pounds through the crescendo, Hayes drops to the mat, and bounces from foot to foot, ready to go against the Philosopher King.
Ned Reform: STOP! STOP THIS INFERNAL RACKET!
The music bursts to a stop and Ned sneers jubilantly as the crowd rains boos down upon him.
Ned Reform: I am here tonight as an emissary, nay the esteemed representative of these fine gentlemen which have drawn the proverbial short straw in life.
The men from the SDDL look up and pound on the railing in support.
Ned Reform: Allow my intellect to be the hand which beats Hayes Hanlon furiously in your name! Allow my mind to be the burgeoning hammer that strikes fear into the hearts of your enemies! Gentlemen, I appeal to you, allow my genius to be your phallus! Let me…
Jimmy Turnbull has had enough of this shameless pandering to the SDDL and calls for the bell. Hanlon sees the ref’s hand motion and immediately charges at Reform, not waiting for the toll. Ned drops the microphone with an audible thud across the arena and rolls out of the ring leaving a frustrated Hanlon inside. Ned taps his head smugly while the crowd jeers.
Nick Stuart: Well this is a putrescent start to this contest.
Richard Parker: I don’t know what that word means, but I can assume it means you are supporting the brave gentlemen in the front row as they stand up against terrible scrutiny.
Hayes sits down on the second row and holds it open, motioning for Dr. Reform to step back inside the ring. Ned rolls his eyes and walks to the other side of the ring. He cautiously steps on the apron and through the ropes. As he does Hayes charges at him again and he runs away, causing the mustachioed warrior to give chase.
Ned pulls up limp and grabs his hamstring. He hobbles and turns, holding up a hand of mercy to the fired up Hayes Hanlon. Hayes, being the all around decent guy he is, stops and looks to Jimmy Turnbull to help Ned out. When he does, Reform reaches up with the hand he was holding his hamstring with and pokes Hayes in the eye.
Nick Stuart: What a dirty trick by Ned Reform! I believe that will earn a stern rebuke from referee Jimmy Turnbull!
Richard Parker: For what? Are we going to oppress creative use of offense now, too?
Nick Stuart: Creative use of offense? He poked Hayes Hanlon in the eye! If I poked you in the eye would you say the same thing?
Richard Parker: That depends, did the ref see it?
Nick Stuart: Really? That’s the line for you?
Back in the ring, Hayes is nursing a tender eye that is weeping. Ned looks pleased with himself and begins to circle around Hayes’ blind side. He begins to pepper Hayes with shots that draw a rebuke from Jimmy Turnbull regarding the use of a closed fist. Ned grabs Hayes’ arm and turns it painfully, followed by snapping it quickly to damage the shoulder socket.
Hayes grimaces as Ned reform wrings his arm once again. Hanlon drops to a knee, and as he does, Ned Reform inexplicably drops his arm and rolls out of the ring to parade around tapping his head. The SDDL pounds on the barrier and shouts unintelligibly “rah bah bah bah bah!”
Nick Stuart: Interesting…strategy being employed by Ned Reform. I can’t say that I have seen someone give up a dominant position to gloat, especially not on Hayes Hanlon.
Richard Parker: It isn’t gloating, Nick, he is giving these brave men and women hope.
Nick Stuart: and… women?
Richard Parker: Yes, Nick, we don’t judge or label in the Parker household.
Nick Stuart: That’s actually quite progressive of you, partner.
Richard Parker: I am a refined gentleman, Nick. You wouldn’t understand.
Hanlon wrings out his shoulder and rolls out of the ring to give chase to The Warrior Poet. Ned runs like a frightened cat away from the Selleckian author of pain and rolls himself back into the ring. Hanlon follows, and catches Reform before he can run away again, to the delight of the crowd.
Hayes pulls up his fist, and delivers a series of blows, rocking Ned with each one before stopping and winding up his arm like Popeye for the last blow. The Good Doctor shakes the cobwebs and sees what is about to happen. He drops to his knees and uncorks a low blow into Hanlon’s lower mustache. The Hammerin’ One falls over backwards and Jimmy Turnbull is all over Ned Reform, backing him into a corner and chastising him for the use of a low blow.
Nick Stuart: A cowardly, yet effective use of force!
Richard Parker: He is paying Hanlon back for his own cowardice, attacking these heroic victims in the front row.
Nick Stuart: Your framing of rhetoric rivals Ivan Stanislav, Richard.
Richard Parker: I could never hope to attain Praporschik Stanislav’s level of argumentative proficiency.
Ned Reform moves aside the ref and steps to the prone form of Hayes. He poses with his arms extended as the boo’s rain down. He taps his head as if to suggest, once again, that he is smarter than everyone in the crowd and he snaps down, dropping an elbow into Hayes’ sternum. Hanlon rolls and bucks on the ground from the impact.
Nick Stuart: Finally some offense from Ned Reform that isn’t under-handed.
Richard Parker: He calls that The Thinking Man’s Elbow Drop!
Ned follows up quickly by sliding into position and grasping a side headlock as Hayes is on his hands and knees. Hanlon reaches up, splaying his fingers in the air showing his pain. Dr. Reform wrings his arm, squeezing like a constrictor. He starts to circle around with his legs, pulling Hayes with him until he is directly in front of the SDDL men, to make a grand show of his dominance.
Brad, Chad, Thad, Shad, and Tad support their champion and pound on the barrier once again.
Nick Stuart: Ned Reform is getting quite a reaction out of these men with his performance.
Richard Parker: Of course he is! He is their white knuckled fist, he is their pounding drum, their climactic explosion!
Nick Stuart: Those are all just loosely camouflaged innuendos.
Hayes starts to shake his hands and psych himself up even as The Mental Giant wrings his biceps once again. Hanlon powers up and works his way back to his feet. He delivers one, two, three elbows to the solar plexus and then pushes Ned Reform off him, across the ring running.
Dr. Reform bounces off the ropes and as he runs back to Hanlon, he finds Hayes waiting to drop him outside the ring with a huge back body drop!
The Good Doctor lands in front of his entourage, and they reach down, pounding the barrier and shouting words of encouragement. This bolsters his resolve to stand up, tall and proud, even though he can only manage to make it halfway.
Nick Stuart: Ned Reform with a helping hand getting to his feet from the SDDL members. They stand behind their champion, that is for sure!
Richard Parker: It is like they said in the *other* Good Book: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Nick Stuart: Are you suggesting Ned Reform is akin to God himself? And somehow making a juvenile joke at the same time?
Richard Parker: No, but Ned Reform is an inspiration to these men, similar to how Hoyt Williams is an inspiration to us all.
Richard thinks about it for a bit.
Richard Parker: I think what I am trying to say is that if Hoyt were here right now, his radiance would inspire these brave men. They would hold him aloft as the spiritual representative of their league and he would tell them they do not have to hang their heads in shame. As long as they have Hoyt in their life, they will rise above all others.
Nick Stuart: That’s a long way to go to somehow link Ned Reform, the SDDL, and Hoyt Williams, Richard.
Richard Parker: I can’t help that I miss him. Look at the lawlessness that has transpired in his absence!
Hanlon waits for Reform to get to his feet and back into the ring. Ned steps forward, and holds up a hand, then drops to his knees and begs forgiveness for his transgressions. He pleads with Hayes’ and the youth looks back and forth. The riotous crowd cheers for him to pour it on, but being the ever loving good guy, he abstains.
Ned takes the opportunity to try for yet another low blow, but this time Hayes Hanlon is ready for him and catches his fist like it is a routine pop-fly! Hayes twists his opponent’s hand and delivers a knee strike that drops Ned Reform to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon with great intuition! Looks like Ned went to the well one too many times!
As Ned is struggling to clear his thoughts, Hayes steps back and starts pawing at the ground with his feet. He tugs on imaginary batting gloves and adjusts the velcro strap. He steps back and swings the “bat” a couple times before tapping it on the ground to knock the weighted ring off. He points to the SDDL, calling his shot!
As Hanlon crouches into a batters stance, Dr. Reform stumbles to his feet and toward Hammerin’ Hayes. The Mustached warrior kips his front leg up and steps forward, twisting his body and delivering a strike through the legs, hips, torso, and finally with the “sweet spot” of the ash wood that is made of his two fists in a double axe-handle to the jaw.
Ned Reform goes down like Alex Jones in a courtroom and Hayes drops outside the ring. He takes a victory lap around the ring, pumping his fist like Kirk Gibson in front of the SDDL. They boo him and pound on the barrier, jeering as he taunts them. Finally, he stomps his foot on the last corner as though he is scoring a home run.
Nick Stuart: That’s The Walk-Off!
Richard Parker: What a shameless display of classlessness, taunting these maligned men as they watch their champion laying flaccid in the ring.
Nick Stuart: Hanlon is back in the ring going for the cover!
Hanlon hooks the leg and Jimmy Turnbull slides into position.
Hanlon can’t believe it! Ned Reforms leg has reached the bottom rope!
Richard Parker: That’s what you get for your shameful pandering!
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t get too crazy with thinking there will be a comeback, partner. I think Hanlon has had about enough of Dr. Reform and is setting up for The Epoch.
Indeed, Hayes lifts Reform and whips him into the ropes, on the rebound, he pops him up into the air, then spins in a 180 sitout choke bomb. The showman, choosing to just get the job done over flash this time, hooks Ned’s leg (careful to stay away from the ropes this time!), and waits for the count. Jimmy Turnbull is right there with speed and precision that would make Head Referee, Timo Bolamba, proud.
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: And here is your winner, HAAAAAAAAAAAYEEEES HAAAAAAANLOOOOOOOON!
Hayes slides out of the ring and holds up his index finger to the crowd. He makes his way back up the ramp as the fans cheer.
Nick Stuart: Hayes Hanlon, victorious tonight and on his way to a Universal Championship opportunity at Colossus! It doesn’t get much better for this young man!
Richard Parker: He still doesn’t need to be a jerk to these men in the front row as they face their demons.
Nick Stuart: Something tells me they will be just fine, Richard.
Richard Parker: You would say that! You don’t know what it’s like Nick. You’ll never know.
Nick Stuart: Thank Hoyt for that, Richard.
Richard’s worries turn to a beaming smile as his compatriot nods to him, cheering him up by momentarily giving in to Hoyt. ReVival rolls on as the show proceeds to the next scheduled segment.
COMMERCIAL: SHOOT PROJECT
SHOOT PROJECT’S BIGGEST PPV OF THE YEAR COMES TO YOU LIVE ON NOVEMBER 13, 2022!
A familiar chyron appears on the fade in, stating ‘Just A Few Moments Ago’. We see a backdrop with the PRIME logo, the makeshift backstage interview area. Standing center of the shot is Brandon Youngblood, with Simon Tillier to his side. The size discrepancy is comical. The Tower Of Babel is still dressed in street clothes, his arms folded across his massive chest. Tillier is dressed to impress, his suit a well tailored pastel, alongside a dapper bowtie. Pushing the center of his glasses up the bridge of his nose, he clears his throat, looking to the camera.
Simon Tillier: Joining me at this time is a PRIME Hall of Famer, a multiple time Champion, the winner of the Almasy Invitational–
Simon can feel the eyes of the Diamond upon him. It’s intense. Foreboding. An assignment like this would rarely, if ever, fall to him, especially with the close personal relationship Brandon shared with Angelica Brooks. Given how attitudes have been lately, however, and given Angie’s schedule, there was no way Matt Mills was about to deal with the perpetually irate Suplex Daddy. As such, the task falls onto the Junior Interviewer, who, despite his training, is definitely caught off guard.
Simon Tillier: Um…
The Diamond’s tone burns with intensity.
Brandon Youngblood: I ain’t Rezin. So ask your questions.
Simon Tillier: Right. So, Brandon, you’ve been quite outspoken about the happenings in PRIME lately. Paxton Ray. The guard around Universal Champ–
There is a snarl that cuts him off before he can finish.
Simon Tillier: Anyways, you’ve felt it necessary to air these grievances out in public, with management. Given the announcement of the punishment to the Love Convoy in regards to their actions on ReVival 17, do you feel progress is being made in regards to your issues?
There is no response for a moment.
Brandon Youngblood: Darin Zion and the Halls…their ass belongs to me and Colton. You understand? ReVival 19, there ain’t no love. It ain’t a Hallmark journey. It’s hurt. It’s pain. It’s everything coming due for those two dipshits and their little violence act. Nothing can stop it. Nothing can save them. And when it’s all said and done? They’re going on an all expenses paid trip…to Sunrise. You can trust that.
Simon Tillier: Strong sentiment, but that doesn’t–
Brandon Youngblood: That’s between me and Troy, Simon. Me. And Troy. And do I think that she finally woke up a bit? Yeah. Yeah I do. Now it’s our turn. Because I’m pissed off. And I got a lot of people who I got to say hi to. GREAT SCOTT? Scott Gratesburgh. HOW TV Champion. Word on the street has it that you got me pegged as an old hero of yours. That the case? Explains why you’re in the shit state you’re in right now. Must have forgotten all about that when you wanted to buddy up to the Glue Factory after ReVival 13. When you took your shots and wanted to dance on my grave.
A slight shift.
Brandon Youngblood: I remember, Gratesburgh. I remember. Ain’t out of convenience. Tonight? You’re stepping into the ring with someone who never liked you. Never respected you. Never feared you. Say I lose when it matters most? Jackass, look around you.
His glare pierces through.
Brandon Youngblood: I. AM. PRIME. I set these walls. I carried the banner. Every. Match. I. Wrestle. IS. The big one. For guys like you? Take your shot. Try to feel yourself. Because I ain’t worried. I’ll use your bones for the foundation of a new hall. I don’t give a shit about you. I don’t give a shit about your sob story. I don’t care about your wanting as a PWA star. I don’t give a shit. All I want to do? Is hurt you. And that’s–
Youngblood’s eye catches something out of frame and hardens his gaze at what approaches. Before long, The Kid steps into frame, also in his civvies – today, a dark slim-cut suit jacket and slacks and a HUGE puffy white scarf that looks like it weighs 10 pounds. Warm as heck, probably. It gets nippy in the desert in autumn.
FLAMBERGE: That’s about right for YOU, is what it is, Mssr. Youngblood. The talk and the talk and the grinding the bones to make the bread ogre-ism absurdité. You do it because you look down on everyone around you who refuses to bear their little tummies to you like a dog who wants the master to give them the pets and the snackies and the walkies. You keep the sonofabitch Nate Colton around you because he’s your little schnauzer, don’t deny it, and that’s why you treat people like me who stand up to the dying warhorses of PRIME like…
FLAMBO gestures broadly at the substantially larger Youngblood.
FLAMBERGE: …this ogre thing.
Simon Tillier tries to position his legs in a way where he can make a quick getaway without anyone noticing. Youngblood doesn’t flinch. Instead, he turns to face the French Super Athlete, his glower evident.
Brandon Youngblood: Jackass–
He makes a step toward FLAMBERGE, who himself doesn’t waver.
Brandon Youngblood: I’m the last guy you want on your ass tonight. Not with you going up for the 5 Star against Rezin. Again. Got another glue brick? You gonna try to pick his bones like last time? Now you listen and you listen good, you little bastard. Much as you want to make yourself the face of the ReVival, much as you try to get in my business, much as you try to get in my head, you’re still standing, walking, jaw jackin’, wearing that ridiculous shit like a show dog…because I allow it. Just like tonight. That 5 Star Championship? I ain’t you. I ain’t gonna make my way and pull ropes and try to screw you out of your life’s work. No…when Rezin beats your ass AGAIN…you got only yourself to blame. But hey, I’m rootin’ for you. Rootin’ for you to get it done because then your bean sprout ass might stop whining and crying and start standing on your own two feet. And if you need, just like Hayes, I got a bit of good luck for you–
At the mention of Hayes, something like a movie he’s seen before clicks in FLAMBERGE’s brain, and he decides he must act quickly – not just quickly, but first.
FLAMBERGE sends five across Youngblood’s left cheek. Tillier BOLTS the hell out of there.
The smack leaves a visible print across the Diamond’s face. Wrenching his head back around, a wild smile spreads across his face, as well as blood trickling from his lips. What happens next is a surprise to everyone.
Brandon Youngblood: Heh. Ha. Hahaha. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
A thick wad of bloody spit hits the PRIME backdrop. His eyes, full of malice. His body, shaking. His words, foreboding.
Brandon Youngblood: Good luck out there. You’ll need it. I’m watching.
Smacked like a bitch? FLAMBERGE readies himself to receive a strike. But one doesn’t come. Instead, the Tower of Babel steps past him, and out of the frame. FLAMBERGE is stunned at this and adjusts his humongous scarf as his eyes follow Youngblood’s exit.
FLAMBERGE: Frappez moi en retour…HEY, YOUNGBLOOD! FRAPPEZ MOI EN RETOUR!
Receiving no reply, FLAMBO huffs and departs in the opposite direction.
TEAM GAMBLE, HECK YEAH!
If there is one downfall to the trademark grin Tony Gamble has been cursed with, it is that even when he is furious… He looks like he is on top of the world. That is the case now, as he forcefully tears the peel off of an orange and chunks the pieces across the room like he is pitching fastballs for the Houston Astros.
Frank Pastore: It isn’t that bad, Tony.
Domingo Cruz: Seriously, I’m pretty sure there are a shitload of people in PRIME that still hate you.
Tony shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: It isn’t so much about people hating me. I mean, I’m an asshole to everybody, so that’s a given. What upsets me is that all people are talking about is the Love Convoy and Paxton Ray, as if attacking people after they’ve been in a match with a numbers advantage or throwing someone extremely smaller than them through a window somehow makes them the worst people on the planet.
Frank shrugs his shoulders, while Domingo just nods in agreement.
Tony Gamble: I mean there is an art to having people hate you even when you’re being nice to them. Take earlier for example.
Tony leans forward in his seat, resting his elbows on his knees.
Tony Gamble: I didn’t even offer The Angry Luchadore a spot in the Gee Aye Ess, but he was quick to think I was by what I told him and shot me down with an insult. The guy literally hates me for anything I do or type on Jabber, and I didn’t have to drive a nail into his chest to piss him off.
Frank Pastore: So you just want more attention? If that’s the case, Dom and I can go beat the shit out of Schwartz and Freeman. They might be a decent tag team in the ring, but in a straight up fight we’d beat their asses.
Domingo Cruz: Hell yeah we would, bro!
Cruz reaches over and the two exchange a fist bump.
Tony Gamble: While I wouldn’t mind seeing that, I don’t think we need to stoop to their levels. I don’t need to risk someone’s career to make people hate me more, there’s levels to this shit and I’m allowed to have standards damn it.
Domingo Cruz: So what do you wanna do, Jefe?
Tony Gamble: I’d like to pick up Rhine and pull a Weekend at Bernie’s night out on the town. Hit up a few bars with him on your shoulders, force alcohol down his throat, then leave him sitting in a lawn chair in the garden department at Walmart. I just don’t want to be charged with kidnapping.
Frank Pastore: That would be fun though.
Tony Gamble: You bet your ass, it would.
Domingo Cruz: We could always spike the food in catering with Carolina Reapers, then douse all the toilet paper rolls in water.
Frank and Tony both turn toward Cruz, who just smiles in response.
Tony Gamble: What do you have against Bobby Dean?
Frank Pastore: And why do you want to kill him?
Cruz looks down at his feet and shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: Maybe I’m losing my touch.
Frank Pastore: We’ll figure something out, Boss.
Tony Gamble: Maybe I should just follow Coral’s lead and focus on managing you guys.
Domingo looks over at Frank, who is already looking at him, then they both turn to Tony.
Frank Pastore: You think we’re ready?
Tony shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: No, I was just being overdramatic. You guys have at least another two months left to get your timing right, but you’re almost there guys. You know, let’s get the hell out of here and go have some drinks. I may not be hated as much as I used to be, but I’m hardly even trying. I don’t need to be a dick to get people to hate me, I’m alright with just being an asshole.
All three men stand up and start to walk toward the door, when Frank stops short.
Frank Pastore: You sure we can’t pick up Rhine on the way?
Tony stops, as Domingo presses his palms together and brings his hands to his lips.
PROCESSING INVENTORY VIA OPERATIONAL TACTICS
As we come away from the situation with one Tony Gamble, the big screen cuts to static, before transitioning to an all too familiar graphic:
As the graphic fades into a shot of a television studio, we see Kenny Freeman standing by wearing his best getup, but his mood does not seem to match his attire as he speaks with a rather glum tone of voice.
Kenny Freeman: Hello, I’m Kenny Freeman, here to present a public service announcement here in the land of PRIME beef. But first, we need to discuss a rather heinous moment in multiversal history. Let’s…let’s have a look.
We cut to footage from ReVival 17, during the B-Team’s match against the Kings of Popsicles for the PRIME Tag Team Championship…most notably, the moment in which King Blueberry goes after Randall immediately following an attempted coffee assault, eventually leading to a Jack LaLanne Driver. The crowd cheers for this, naturally, but as we cut back to Kenny we realize that, this being a pretape, Kenny has no reaction to the approval of the crowd.
Kenny Freeman: Absolutely sickening. A maneuver like that reminds me why the piledriver is banned in so many states, and we will be looking for that to be the case in the great state of Las Vegas. While we wait for the results of that legal entanglement, the Masters of the Multiverse are pushing forward with our dutiful response as Commissioner of Food and Beverage. Joining me now to address our plans moving forward is Randall Schwartz!
We hear a bit of “applause” piped in, the crowd inside the Grand booing as Randall steps out to join Kenny, and uhhh…it looks like he decided not to dress up. Oh, and he’s wearing a neck brace, a sign that his strained necktoral muscles are still recovering. Randall stands to the side of Kenny, trying his best to keep a brave face as Freeman speaks up again, his voice wavering at the sight of his injured companion.
Kenny Freeman: Give it up for Randall Schwartz, everyone! Folks, after what we went through two weeks ago, we have agreed as Commissioner of Food and Beverage to BAN certain types of food from catering going forward. Now, you may be wondering how we’re going to achieve this goal in such a short time…and my buddy Randall is going to tell you all about it!
Randall clears his throat before speaking up, his voice hoarse presumably from the tightness of his neck brace as he scratches at it slightly.
Randall Schwartz: Well, Kenny, let’s uh…let’s talk about what we call Processing Inventory Via Operational Tactics, or P.I.V.O.T. for short!
We get a quick text graphic highlighting the acronym as Randall pulls a sheet of paper out of his pocket, opening it before he reads it aloud.
Randall Schwartz: We have identified the following foods and beverages as being unsuitable for consumption in the workplace, and henceforth banned from backstage catering. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and eggs are now banned from the backstage area, as are cocktails and other dangerous mixes of alcohol and other such beverages.
Randall folds the paper up, putting it back in his pocket as Kenny Freeman speaks up once again, his tone slightly more firm.
Kenny Freeman: And there ya have it folks…that is how the cookie crumbles. Any complaints can be placed in the suggestion box, it’ll be located near the forklifts and smoke machines backstage. Have a good night, PRIMEates!
Kenny gives a big smile and a thumbs up, a gesture Randall just manages to imitate much to the annoyance of the booing crowd as the big screen fades to black!
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD vs. GREAT SCOTT
Referee Elvis Nixon stands in the ring next to Vince Howard as we prepare for the next match.
Nick Stuart: Coming up next, we’ve got a hossfite on our hands! Former Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, looks to continue his winning ways against a man who nearly won the Five Star Championship at ULTRAVIOLENCE, GREAT SCOTT!
Richard Parker: Just Scott, Nick. Just Scott.
Nick Stuart: Indeed, he’s certainly had an…interesting…change in affect in recent interviews. He’s going to need to focus up if he aims to defeat PRIME’s Tower of Babel!
Richard Parker: Do you think Just Bear’s gonna do a flip? Or does he need to be GREAT for that to be a thing?
Nick Stuart: What are you even talking about, Richard?
Richard Parker: I WANT TO SEE A FLIPPING BEAR. That’s all.
Nick Stuart: Well, we’re sure to see bodies fly in this one – let’s take it to the ring!
“Born for Greatness” by Papa Roach blasts through the arena speakers, Just Scott continuing to carry a generic championship over his shoulder. The crowd roars its approval, chanting “GREAT SCOTT! GREAT SCOTT! GREAT SCOTT!”; he acknowledges his fans, though lip readers may pick up him responding, “I’m Just Scott!”
Just Bear, for his part, does a sweet cartwheel sequence down the entrance ramp and regales the crowd with Cabbage Patches, Running Mans, and even a moment of Voguing. Scott climbs the ring posts, holding his belt high in the air.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…hailing from THE GREATER METRO AREA OF GREAT FALLS, MONTANA, weighing in at 276 pounds…Just Scott!
A “GREAT SCOTT GREAT SCOTT” chant erupts once again at Vince’s announcement.
“Bloodsport (World Domination)” by Health blasts through the speakers. His shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk we’ve seen time and time again. Suplex Daddy is all business, locking eyes with Scott the entire way down the ring, marches up the ring steps, and steps through the ropes. He walks back and forth from corner to corner of the ring, itching to lock up.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 280 pounds… he is the former Universal Champion, a three time 5-Star Champion, the 2009 Jewel In The Crown, PRIME Hall of Famer, winner of the Almasy Invitational…the LAAAAAAAAST! DIIIIIIAMOND! BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOD!
The moment Vince steps out of the ring, Youngblood charges straight for his opponent and the two men lock up in a collar-and-elbow before the bell can even ring!
The lock-up is pretty violent, each man twisting and pushing with all their might before crashing into the corner and causing the entire ring to shake. Youngblood has the first advantage and swings a heavy forearm straight into Scott’s chest – Scott reverses their position and thrusts a couple shoulder tackles into Youngblood’s breadbasket. He goes for a third, but Youngblood is able to slip out, take advantage of Scott’s positioning, and planting him with a belly to back suplex.
Nick Stuart: Both men known for their fantastic suplex maneuver, and we can bet that’s only the first of many.
Richard Parker: Remember a couple months back when I bet the over/under on Sid Phillips powerbombs, and the bookies completely screwed me by not acknowledging the Reverse Powerbomb?
Nick Stuart: …I think I remember an Electric Chair backdrop, partner-
Richard Parker: You sort of remember. Anyway, I was curious what the line was for this match. Want to guess the number?
Nick Stuart: Twenty.
Richard Parker: Trick question – they aren’t taking bets on it because no one could agree on the number. Twenty? Fifty? A hundred? Not out of the question.
Scott uses amateur wrestling body positioning and is able to scramble off his stomach, snatching Youngblood with a front facelock, lifting him up, and sending him back forward with a front suplex. Youngblood almost bounces into a sprinting block position, and very quickly he’s across the ring, flattening Scott with a spear! Scott clutches his abdomen as the momentum of his sprinting spear takes Youngblood nearly under the ropes. He gets to his feet in a hurry and covers Scott, who’s out at 1.
Youngblood works to get some dirty grappling offense in, throwing short elbows and headbutts into Scott as they tangle on the mat. Youngblood gets a second headbutt in, and something triggers in Scott.
Nick Stuart: HIS GLARE!
The camera quickly cuts to Just Bear, who does a jumping split and a fist pump.
Richard Parker: AND HIS BEAR!!
With a powerful heave, Scott is able to get some space between himself and Youngblood. The glare intensifies and Scott wags a Mutombo-style finger in Youngblood’s direction. Youngblood, for his part, seems to feel his anger intensify at this show-and-dance moment. Scott steps forward and throws a bludgeoning elbow into Youngblood’s sternum. Youngblood absorbs it and stares hard into his younger opponent. Scott throws another elbow strike – same reaction from Youngblood. Another elbow. Another one, this time on the chin, a second one on the chin – this one sends Youngblood back a step or two.
Just Scott: Come on!!
Youngblood then throws one of the stiffest goddamn knife-edge chops you ever saw.
Scott stumbles away from Youngblood, clutching his chest. Youngblood is all the way fired up now and charges Scott – locks up – OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! The ring shakes once again as the large frame of Just Scott crashes in the center of the mat. Youngblood scrambles to make the cover!
Scott reverses the pinning predicament!
Youngblood kicks out. Scott presses his minor positional advantage into a huge leverage advantage, lifting Youngblood high in the air and stalling for a few beats before dropping him with the vertical suplex. Youngblood kicks out at two and swiftly moves into side position, locking his wrists around Scott’s substantial torso, and planting Scott with a gutwrench suplex. Scott kicks out at two and the competitors quickly find themselves in Greco Roman Knuckle Locks on the mat with each other, each looking to press their immense weights around to find any small edge they can.
Nick Stuart: Tremendous back and forth so far!
Richard Parker: Just Bear’s really working himself into a tizzy about this whole thing!
Indeed, the camera cuts to Just Bear, evoking joy and pain through dance that mirrors the ebbs and flows of the in-ring action. Both men remain knuckle locked when Scott gets to a knee…then Youngblood gets to a knee too. Youngblood plants his other foot first and has the leverage advantage – he snaps his arms forward releasing the grip, wrapping one arm around Scott’s neck and the other around a knee. He snaps back and THROWS Scott surprisingly far with a Release Fisherman Suplex! After their straining contest of strength with this suplex as the punctuation, both men take the opportunity to catch their respective breaths on the mat. The crowd cheers loudly for Youngblood and Scott, and dueling chants fade away into –
BOTH THESE GUYS! BOTH THESE GUYS!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood may have the slight edge in this one – at the end of these exchanges, it seems like Youngblood’s been consistently able to throw the last shot.
Richard Parker: Brandon Youngblood is uniquely gifted at turning tiny technical advantages into match-changing momentum, for sure. Scott may need to change things up here.
After a moment, both men slowly get to their feet. Youngblood beckons Scott to bring it on, which he delivers with aplomb – both men lock up once again in the center of the ring, trading waistlocks and chinlocks back and forth, each fighting for position. Just as it seemed that Youngblood may have the edge, Scott shoves him back and blasts him with GREAT SCOTT MUZIK (Just Scott Music?), sending Youngblood to the mat! Scott goes for the cover!
Scott’s glare is back, angrier than before. He rolls Youngblood to his stomach and grabs for double underhooks, pulling powerfully once to get Youngblood up off the mat, and a second time to fully lift him off the ground, planting him with the SCOTTAGREE! Another cover!
Just Bear pounds the ring apron in peak excitement, pushing his Scott friend to keep at it. Scott looks over at his bear friend and gives him a winking nod, before nodding up towards the standing and cheering fans. He gets to his feet and pumps up his arms, bringing louder and louder cheers from the fans. He’s soaking it in, letting it charge him up – but in the process, he neglects to see that the Anger Golem is no longer on the mat.
He’s behind him.
Youngblood springs onto Scott’s back and brings both men crashing to the ground, Youngblood fighting to get his arms into position for a Kata-Ha Jime!
Nick Stuart: He’s going for the Gridlock!
Richard Parker: Just Scott is fighting it! Can he hang on??
Youngblood throws strikes with one arm as he locks his other around Scott’s head and neck. Scott wriggles and uses his significant strength to stay out of the hold, eventually getting a foot on the bottom rope and forcing the break. Youngblood, after releasing the hold, quickly grabs Scott by the foot and drags him to the center of the ring, hoists him up by the scruff, and goes for a standing Kata-Ha Jime! It’s almost locked in!
Nick Stuart: Standing Gridlock!
Richard Parker: He’s going for that Gridlock Suplex!
As the two men jostle for position and Scott fights the hold as best he can, there’s a commotion. Just Bear is standing on the ring apron, pumping up the crowd and generally causing a scene. Ref Nixon steps over to the bear and tells him to get off the apron, to which Just Bear nods in agreement – but first (he gestures with his hands), watch THIS. He makes sure the referee and whole crowd is watching as he leaps off the apron – FLIPS BACKWARDS – and lands on his feet on the floor outside the ring!
Richard Parker: I SAW THE BEAR FLIP!!
What he missed, it turns out, was the turning point in the match…because Youngblood is now crumbled on the mat, clutching low.
Nick Stuart: Hang on a minute – did Scott just hit Youngblood low?
Richard Parker: Huh?
GREAT SCOTT: I AM GREAT SCOTT AND I AM BACK BB
The cacophony following the cheering for GREAT BEAR FLIP and the negative reaction from fans who saw GREAT SCOTT’s mule kick to Youngblood’s sack is immense. SCOTT forces Youngblood shakily to his feet, and SCOTT casually leaps a good 5 feet into the air, and lands the SCOTTACANRANA! He covers!
DING DING DING!
Papa Roach blasts once again through the speakers. GREAT BEAR joins GREAT SCOTT in celebrating in the ring, soon hoisting SCOTT onto his shoulders.
Vince Howard: Here is your winner…GREAT! SCOTT!
Youngblood looks like he’s ready to kill someone. As he rolls to his stomach, his glare is more ferocious than anything GREAT SCOTT has come up with in ages. BEAR and SCOTT see this and get out of dodge just in time, barely avoiding Youngblood’s ferocious attempt to grab and beat the shit out of either one.
Nick Stuart: I think we just witnessed the rebirth of GREAT SCOTT, partner.
Richard Parker: I for one think that’s GREAT news…but man, Youngblood is about ready to tear someone in half right now. SCOTT really got away with that one.
We see Youngblood nearly growling with each rapid, deep breath as SCOTT and BEAR, hand-in-paw, raise their arms in victory at the top of the ramp.
COMMERCIAL: HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING
HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING’S BIGGEST PPV OF THE YEAR, ICONIC, WILL BE HELD ON DECEMBER 18, 2022 IN CHICAGO, IL!
Fade to backstage on a nondescript door, with a cheap piece of notebook paper taped to the front. Words have been hastily scrawled upon it in Magic Marker.
Official Dressing Room Reserved for Five Star Champion of PRIME
(normies KEEP OUT!!)
A production crew member approaches and knocks twice.
Crew Member: We’ll be ready for you in just a couple minutes, sir.
A beat later, the door swings open. Stepping into view to an uproarious reaction from the crowd watching the PRIMEview is none other than “the Escape Artist” Rezin, eyes wide and intense, Five Star Championship slung over one shoulder.
A pair of brooms and a mop fall out of the closet after him and clatter to the floor, but only the crew member seems to notice. The Goat Bastard is preoccupied sniffing and huffing and getting himself mentally in the zone for what he knows will be a hard fight to defend his title.
Without delay, he marches down the hall and kicks his way through a door…
Crew Member: Argyle position is the other way, sir…
The door swings open again and Rezin returns from the MGM Grand’s laundry room, nonchalantly brushing a cluster of soap suds off his shoulder.
Rezin: Right… got it…
Gaffe aside, Rezin maintains his focus as he this time heads down the correct direction.
The Escape Artist turns a corner, camera keeping up with him as he makes his way toward the arena. Then he stops in his tracks when he passes by a large banner hanging across the wall advertising the upcoming Colossus event.
Many of PRIME’s top stars of the past and the future are featured… but he can’t help but notice one is missing.
The one that’s missing is not the young man who walks past; Nate Colton isn’t one of PRIME’s top stars–yet–but also, he is represented on that poster. He slows down as the advertisement catches his eye…and then stops as his attention is drawn to the Escape Artist.
Nate Colton: Champ.
Nate’s address to Rezin is surprisingly formal, and his overall attitude seems a lot colder than usual.
The Five Star Champion greets the young second-generation athlete with a single curt nod.
Rezin: I see ya survived the Time Lord. Nice goin’.
He tilts his head to Nate’s 2D mirror image smiling back at them from the wall.
Rezin: And wouldn’t you look at that? Ya made the Colossus poster. Guess that means ya cut the mustard, huh? They must really think you’re somethin’ special…
Nate Colton: They must. Probably trying to make me more willing to…what was it? “Lap up an opportunity like that?” I’m sure they love having a “clean-cut white-bread boyscout” on their poster.
Rezin’s face turns in on itself like he’d just been slapped across it.
Rezin: Hey now! I dunno whatever it is ya mighta heard, but those words were spoken in confidence to basketball legend Larry Bird! And ya DAMB sure ain’t the Hick from French Lick! You weren’t even AT that party, if I recall! Unless you were… waitasec…
Suddenly, it hits him.
Nate Colton: Yeah.
The Goat Bastard looks point blank into the camera and winces while biting down on his bottom lip.
Rezin: Totes awkies…
Like the crack of a rawhide whip, Rezin snaps his gaze back to Colton.
Rezin: Yeah, well, WHAT OF IT, huh?! Was I WRONG!?
His open hand slaps Colton on the face.
Chill out, not his actual face; the one on the wall-spanning advertisement.
Rezin: There’s your proof, right there! They put YOU up there to push the product… but not me. The guy who put in the work to earn this…
He raps his knuckles on the face of the Five Star Championship.
Rezin: …for the right to call himself the Five Star Champion of PRIME! The guy who kept it from bein’ walked into some lesser company! The guy who defied the odds and surpassed the expectations and became one of the breakthrough talents of the Revival Era! The number one ranked wrestler in the number one wrestling company on the planet!
The Escape Artist is now good and riled up, eyes darting between poster Colton and actual Colton.
Rezin: So tell me, kid… what the hell do YOU got over ME to earn a place up there?!
Nate Colton: Damned if I know, man. I just go out there and bust my ass, same as anyone else. But this sport means the world to me, and I show that every time I’m in the ring. Maybe that’s resonating with people. Maybe they want to see what can be done with skill and dedication, instead of cutting people open with rusty nails or whatever psycho crap the Love Convoy are gonna do next. So no, I’ve got no idea why you’re not up there.
Now face to face with the Goat Bastard, the Scion of the Colton Family points at his own visage on the flier.
Nate Colton: But I know exactly why I am.
The Five Star Champion responds with a long beat of silence and a wide-eyed glare, before plucking a fresh J into his lips and lighting it up.
Rezin: Poor kid… the parasites are already in your head, and ya don’t even know it. Anyway, if ya don’t mind, I gotta show your pal FLAMBO what’s up.
He snorts two jets of smoke before going past Colton and skulking onward toward the Argyle position. Nate never takes his eyes off the Five Star Champion.
Nate Colton: Lebanon…who the hell do I know from Lebanon? God, that’s gonna bug me all day.
FIFTEEN PERCENT TO FIFTEEN THOUSAND
Nick Stuart: We are mere minutes away from our Five Star Title match featuring FLAMBERGE and the champion, Rezin. But first we have a special interview with Angelica Brooks. Angelica?
The camera switches to Angelica Brooks, who is smiling with a microphone in her hand.
Angelica Brooks: Thanks, Nick. I’m pleased to introduce our guest. PRIME roster member, former Intense champion…Jonathan Rhine.
The cheering is intense as the shot of Angelica moves to the left, replaced by a shot of Jonathan Rhine, sitting in a small office. He has wireless earbuds in, and the shot is wide enough to show him in his wheelchair. He hears the cheers and smiles.
Jonathan Rhine: Thank you Angelica.
Angelica Brooks: Jon, this is your first time on PRIME television since the heinous attack on you by your tag team partner, Paxton Ray. I asked this question to Shweta a few weeks ago, and I know it’s not an easy one to answer. But how are you doing?
Jonathan Rhine: I’m great, actually.
There’s a pause, and Angelica furrows her brow a little. Jonathan chuckles.
Jonathan Rhine: Okay, I mean. Not great. There’s…a lot that I’m dealing with, and obviously things could be better. But I talk to Shweta about this all the time. It makes no sense to let those negative thoughts fester. So I’m trying to be positive.
Angelica Brooks: That part is nice to hear, at least. So, I don’t know if it’s too painful for you to watch ReVival…
Jonathan Rhine: No it isn’t. I watch every episode.
Angelica Brooks: Still?
Jonathan Rhine: I just love the sport so much, and so many of my friends are there. I have to support them.
Angelica Brooks: Well that was what I was going to ask. One of those friends, Jared Sykes, had a very interesting challenge for Paxton Ray. We have a clip here.
The camera briefly switches to a shot of King Blueberry in the ring, his energy building.
King Blueberry: So consider this a courtesy, Paxton, granted it’s one you sure as hell don’t deserve. You’ve got six weeks. Six weeks to kick back, relax, do whatever it is you do in your free time. You don’t need to come here lookin’ for me, because before the year is over I will find YOU!
We come back to Angelica and Jon.
Angelica Brooks: Now, as a close friend of Jared, I’m curious about your thoughts.
Jonathan Rhine: That’s pretty troubling to hear him say.
Angelica Brooks: So I take it you agree with Brandon Youngblood that he shouldn’t be seeking out Paxton Ray.
Jonathan Rhine: Oh, no. I don’t agree with that at all.
Angelica doesn’t drop the microphone or anything, but her mouth drops a little.
Angelica Brooks: I don’t understand, Jonathan. You just said it was troubling to hear those words.
Jonathan Rhine: Yes, I was troubled to hear him want to go to the mud pits to challenge Paxton. That’s Paxton’s home turf. It’s not safe. But I 100% endorse Jared getting his revenge on Paxton in a wrestling ring. Because there aren’t that many in the entire world better than Jared Sykes in a ring. I just wish that was possible.
Angelica Brooks: Are you saying that you disagree with Lindsay Troy’s decision to fire Paxton Ray?
Jonathan holds his hands up.
Jonathan Rhine: I would never question Lindsay’s business decisions. I just think that Jared wants to teach Paxton some lessons that I can’t anymore, and I’d love to see him do it.
There’s a beat as Angelica tries to compose herself.
Angelica Brooks: I see. That’s an interesting response. I would have thought as someone who…felt the effects of Paxton’s wrath, that you wouldn’t want to see your friend meet the same fate.
Jonathan Rhine: There’s a difference between me and Jared, though. Jared will see it coming.
Angelica Brooks: Well, thank you for your perspective. Before we let you go, I have one more question. You said you’ve been watching, which means you’ve also seen the attacks from The Love Convoy. What are your thoughts on them?
Jonathan Rhine: I think they’re trash, and hopefully Jared and Justine can take care of them soon. But there was actually something amazing that came out of the last attack and I just want to highlight it. It was so good to see Nate Colton, Coral Avalon, and Brandon Youngblood come down to help him. Too long we’ve let the monsters of the wrestling world get away with breaking the rules, with hurting people. And I was happy to see people standing against that united force. I really hope that will continue to happen in PRIME.
Angelica Brooks: I do too, Jon. Finally…what does your recovery look like? Would you like to update us on your progress?
Jonathan smiles and raises both hands again.
Jonathan Rhine: Look ma, two hands!
Angelica gives a polite chuckle.
Jonathan Rhine: Seriously, it’s a slow process. I can move my head, wiggle my hands, flex my arms. The only issue is these.
He grabs his left thigh, lifts it, then lets it crash back down.
Jonathan Rhine: The doctors in Las Vegas were very clear: I’m never going to walk again. And if I were the type of person who just accepted things, that’s where it would end. But that’s not me, Angelica. So I asked a second doctor. And a third. And a fourth, and fifth, and I came back to New Orleans and talked to every specialist I could. And I said “I don’t give up, I am going to walk again, and I need someone to help me.” And I finally talked to a specialist down here who tells me that I have a fifteen percent chance of walking again.
Angelica Brooks: That’s better than never.
Jonathan Rhine: Much better. And I’m going to tell you this, and everyone else watching tonight, including the man who put me into this wheelchair. When it’s Jonathan Rhine, “The New Life,” putting his mind to it and giving it everything he has? That fifteen percent may as well be fifteen thousand.
Angelica Brooks: Well the PRIME audience is happy to hear that, and I am too. Best of luck on that fifteen percent, Jon. We’re all pulling for you.
Jonathan Rhine: Thank you, Angelica.
Angelica Brooks: Back to you, Nick and Richard.
The camera cuts to ringside, where our commentators are smiling.
Nick Stuart: Thanks, Angelica. I have to say after the last part of that interview, I’m ready to run through a wall.
Richard Parker: Me too, Nick. It was almost inspirational enough to make me ignore the fact that Jonathan Rhine wants to feed his friend to The Bayou Butcher!
FIVE STAR TITLE: REZIN (C) VS. FLAMBERGE
The lights go out. Anticipation builds and buzzes throughout the arena. After a few beats, we hear…
I AM DANGEROUS
Fire gulches erupt on the beat as PRIME’s French Phenom swags his way to the ring. If a man has ever felt himself, it’s here and it’s now.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE, the Flaming Sword, coming out to flames!
Richard Parker: It’s about time that we made a line item in the PRIME budget for the totality of the awesomeness this kid deserves!
Vince Howard: From Strasbourg, France…weighing in at 206 pounds…he is The PHENOM! FLAMMMMMBERRRRRRRRRRGE!
The lights cut.
“I AM BECOME DEATH, THE DESTROYER OF WORLDS”
Off the sound bite, an exploding pyro rocks the arena, leaving behind a rising mushroom cloud of smoke over the stage.
Vince Howard: AND THE CHAMPION! Weighing in at 205 pounds… from Indianapolis, Indiana… THE ESCAPE ARTIST! THE GOAT BASTARD! THE FIVE STAR CHAMPION! REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZIN!!!!!!!
Ministry’s cover of “Search and Destroy” pumps in over the PA. The PRIMEview cycles through footage of nuclear explosions, weapons of war, burning cities, riots in the streets, and in-ring highlights of the Goat Bastard being his daring and dastardly self. Blinding white light fills the entry-way as the silhouette of a man steps through the curtain.
When the solo hits, the stage lights come up, revealing “The Escape Artist” Rezin, the Five-Star Championship wrapped around his waist. He stands in place for a few moments, his arms outstretched into a cross pose, and then begins the trip down the ramp. Reaching the ringside area, he does a loop around the ring before sliding into the ring, wraps his arms between the ropes when he stands up, and rolls himself back into an inverted cross pose.
He then looks across the ring at his opponent, FLAMBERGE. A grin appears on his face.
It’s time to go to work.
The two men begin pacing back and forth across the ring. The GOAT Bastard, and FLAMBERGE meet in the center of the ring after a few moments of dancing. Flamberge holds out his arm looking for a test of strength, Rezin goes to take the hand but slips under and behind Flamberge. The youngster is quick to turn though and not give his back to Rezin, he spins around while throwing an absolutely vicious knee strike.
Richard Parker: He almost cleaved Rezin in two with that knee!
Nick Stuart: It definitely had some mustard on it Richard, but Rezin was quick to move out of the way.
Rezin dips to the side of Flamberge and spins the youth down to the canvas with a drop toe hold. Rezin smirks as Flamberge gets up off the mat, clearly a little frustrated. Flambo fires off a right hand, but Rezin blocks and fires back with a right hand of his own. Flamberge staggers and Rezin keeps firing away with right hands. Finally Flamberge is able to cut Rezin off and slips a knee into Rezin’s midsection stopping him in his tracks.
Nick Stuart: Smart move there by FLAMBERGE.
Richard Parker: Sure, that was smart, but he’s not smart enough to stay away from Youngblood so…
Flamberge grabs Rezin by the skullet and tries to drive a knee into his nose from a muay thai plumb, but Rezin drops to his knees to get out of the way. The unusual defense frustrates the frenchman, but the offense that came right after frustrated him more. After the knee went careening by Rezin he swung his own leg for a leg sweep. Flamberge managed to jump over Rezin’s outstretched leg and fired back with a kick. Rezin rolled through behind Flamberge and leapt off the middle rope, slamming Flamberge in the face with a twisting forearm.
Nick Stuart: These two men are really fast, it’s almost hard to keep up with out there Richard.
Richard Parker: Rezin wrestling is like if Animal from the muppets was middle aged and had a mullet.
Flamberge rolls to his feet, but Rezin comes sprinting across the ring and grabs Flamberge’s head and plants him to the mat with a one armed bulldog. Rezin is back up in a flash, hitting the ropes and coming back off with a leg drop to the downed Flamberge. Flamberge rolls out of the way and Rezin crashes to the canvas.
Richard Parker: OH THAT’S GOTTA HURT!
Flambo kips up to his feet and absolutely smashes Rezin across the side of the head with a standing side kick. Rezin grabs at the side of his head and begins rolling around on the mat like he was hit with a sledgehammer. FLAMBERGE simply smirks for a moment before his face returns back to its normal blank state. Flamberege marches across the ring and tries to go in on the downed Rezin. Rezin immediately scrambles, wanting to stay away from the ground with Flamberge. He flails his legs, throwing an up kick, Flamberge is quick to grab both legs trying to move into side control. Rezin rolls onto his stomach and Flamberge immediately gives up the legs and tries to drive a hook under Rezin’s left armpit.
Richard Parker: What is this?
Nick Stuart: This is a man trying to kill another man Richard. Flamberge is putting on a clinic here on the ground.
Rezin rolls onto his side, curling into a ball while Flamberge tries to roll him back over. Rezin finally launches himself towards the ropes and manages to grab on. Ashley Barlow comes over to break the two men up, FLAMBERGE snarls as he reluctantly gives up his positioning. The two men are back to their feet quickly, Rezin comes running across the ring and Flamberge meets him in the middle.
Richard Parker: This is more like it!
Right hand flies from Rezin but Flamberge manages to block this time. Flambo tries for the knee but Rezin manages to shove Flamberge away from him. Flamberge turns back around to a kick flying in from Rezin at his midsection, Flambo catches the kick, and Rezin immediately levels him with an enziguri kick to the side of the head. Flamberge stumbles as Rezin jumps to his feet and leaps into the air sending Flamberge smashing to the mat with a hurricanrana.
Nick Stuart: Beautiful technique by Rezin! And look, he’s bringing Flamberge right back to his feet!
Richard Parker: Doesn’t want to get grappled into oblivion. GOAT bastard might be half intelligent after all.
Rezin pulls Flamberge to his feet and sends him into the ropes. Rezin waits, ducking under a knee lift attempt before taking a sprint into the ropes himself. The two come back to the middle of the ring, and it’s Rezin’s turn to leap into the air. This time grabbing Flamberge around the head and spinning around his body, once again driving his skull into the mat. This time with a Tornado DDT. Rezin crawls to his downed opponents as Ashley Barlow slides in for the count.
Nick Stuart: Not enough to take Flambo down, but still enough to really give him something to think about here.
Richard Parker: This is for the five star championship Nick, Rezin is the number one ranked wrestler in PRIME. Flamberge should have PLENTY to think about in that ring tonight.
Rezin is right back to his feet, and drags Flamberge along with him. Flamberge tries to throw Rezin off of him, but Rezin once again sends Flambo into the ropes.
Richard Parker: FLAMBERGE is doing more running than the FLAMBO tonight.
Rezin follows Flamberge into the ropes, almost chasing the young frenchmen across the ring. Flamberge hits the ropes at the same time that Rezin smashes into him with a clothesline. The two flip over the top rope and spill to the outside from the force. Rezin manages to land on the apron, while Flamberge goes all the way to the floor.
Nick Stuart: What a clothesline from Rezin!
Rezin is right back to his feet and Flamberge is slowly making his way to his own. Rezin stands on the apron and looks behind him, waiting for just the right moment.
Richard Parker: HOLY!
Just as Flamberge gets to his feet Rezin springboards off the top rope into a picture perfect moonsault. Both men are laying out on the outside.
Richard Parker: Genius move by Rezin! He can’t lose if he gets counted out!
Nick Stuart: Incredible move, but I don’t think that was the point Richard.
Rezin slowly drags himself over and begins pulling himself up using the apron.
Ashley Barlow’s count is clear in Rezin’s ears as he rolls into the ring. Flamberge is only just getting moving. Rezin lays in the center of the ring, his chest still heaving.
Flamberge makes his way over to the apron as well.
Richard Parker: Now he wins when Flambo can’t get himself back into the ring. He’s so smart.
Flamberge pulls himself up and dives into the ring to break Ashley Barlow’s count. But he dove right into a now kneeling Rezin. Rezin is right back to it, laying in a right hand off of Flambo’s skull.
Nick Stuart: Kid has heart.
Richard Parker: But Goat man is smart.
Rezin gets to his feet and drags Flamberge up with him. Flamberge weakly grabs double underhooks, but Rezin brushes them off, smashing him in the face with a left jab. A second left jab is followed with a kick to the midsection that sends Flambo reeling backwards. Rezin spins and tries to take Flamberge’s head off with a spinning lariat, but Flambo simply grabs Rezin as tight as he can around the waist, pulling Rezin in close. Rezin struggles, but manages to slip his hands in between his body and Flamberge’s arms, twisting Flamberge around like a pretzel.
Nick Stuart: INVERTED CROSS DRIVER!
Richard Parker: That’s gotta be it!
Rezin hooks both legs as Ashley Barlow slides in for the count.
Flamberge shoots an arm into the air as Rezin smacks the mat in frustration.
Rezin drags Flamberge to his feet once again. He tries to send Flamberge into the ropes again, but Flamberge manages to reverse and send Rezin careening across the ring. Flamberge takes aim with an absolutely wicked roundhouse kick but Rezin manages to baseball slide under. He jumps back to his feet and grabs the back of Flamberge’s head and drops to the mat for a neckbreaker. Flambo manages to get right back up to his feet only just behind Rezin who sends the young man running again. This time Flamberge comes back and Rezin smashes him with a huge palm strike. Flamberge is stunned walking away. Rezin comes in again, throwing another palm strike, this one right into Flamberge’s nose.
Richard Parker: Been awhile since someone’s thrown a palm strike!
Nick Stuart: Mushi does it all the time.
Richard Parker: Oh…
The third strike Rezin manages to side step and grab Rezin’s head in a muay thai clinch. He viciously swings Rezin’s head down and smashes it into his rising knee. Rezin is stunned and Flamberge brings him down for another. Then another. Spit flies through the air as Flambo drives a fourth knee into Rezin’s mouth and nose area. Flambo grabs the Five Star Champion and slings him into the ropes.Rezin comes off the rope and ducks under the axe kick attempt from FLAMBERGE, he bounces back off the ropes and dives at Flamberge with a spear out of desperation…
Richard Parker: SPEAR BY GOAT MAN!
Nick Stuart: OH! OH NO!
Flamberge goes to the mat, but immediately wraps his legs around Rezin’s torso. Rezin immediately begins flailing around almost unnaturally. His arms windmilling around in circles. He grabs at anything he can, Flamberge’s arms, his head, his eyes, but Flamberge has a look of pure determination on his face. He squeezes with everything he has, his bicep ripples and the veins pop out as he squeezes, his teeth smashed together in a grimace. Rezin’s flailing slowly begins to subside as Flamberge keeps squeezing and snarling. He arches his back and Ashley Barlow lifts Rezin’s arm once, twice, and then a third time.
It falls each time.
DING DING DING
Ashley Barlow dives in and pulls Flamberge off of Rezin.
Vince Howard: Your winner by referee stoppage… and NEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW FIVE STAR CHAMPION! FLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMBERGE!
Flamberge smirks, he looks over at the time keeper’s table, waiting for his prize. But there’s one giant man standing there instead. Brandon Youngblood. And he has the Five Star Championship in his hands.
Richard Parker: TOLD YOU! KID IS DOOMED!
Nick Stuart: WHAT IS THIS!?
BY stares at Flamberge, snarling. Then walks back up the ramp, still with the Five Star Championship in his grasp.
Nick Stuart: Did Brandon Youngblood steal the Five Star Championship from FLAMBERGE?
Richard Parker: Sure, just like FLAMBERGE stole his Universal Championship.
Our scene fades to commercial with our new Five Star Champion seething in the middle of the ring.
COMMERCIAL: DEFIANCE RADIO
RELIVE “THE HAUNTING AT THE WRESTLE-PLEX” ON DEFIANCE RADIO ON DEMAND!
NO PULLED PUNCHES
Backstage, Nova grips his gloved hands together and stares down at his left ankle, free of a monitoring bracelet.
There’s a knock at the door.
Nova: Come in.
The door creaks open, and Wade Elliott pokes his head and chest in.
Wade Elliott: Hey.
The Risen Star looks over.
There’s a pause.
Wade Elliott: (Rubbing the back of his neck.) Uh…just wanted to swing on through an’ say…good luck out there.
Nova nods slowly.
Nova: Thanks, man. Appreciate everything. Really.
He lights a cigarette and takes a drag.
Wade Elliott: Yeah, well, comes with th’ territory…
The ‘Bama Bruiser begins to step out of the doorway, then turns back.
Wade Elliott: Wish things were calmer, ‘n we could hang a minute, but ‘tween Paxton an’ th’ god-damn Love Convoy an’ everythin’ else, I’m pretty busy makin’ sure we still have a show t’ air.
The Starchild nods and takes another drag. The Bad Dog hands a dice-game box through the doorway, his eyes fixated on the rolls that could’ve been.
Wade Elliott: But hell, we can settle this after th’show, right Caesar?
Nova: (Exhaling deeply) I mean, I’m up, so technically the answer is still yes, but you better start rolling better.
Elliott breaks out into a broad grin and Nova returns it. The Southern Sparkplug shoots him a wink and disappears from view in the doorway, uncharacteristically leaving the door open.
And then, doing his best to appear nonchalant and completely natural, Hayes Hanlon steps into the doorway. Nova barely holds in a laugh as Hayes looks around awkwardly, opting to inspect the frame.
Hayes Hanlon: (Mostly mumbling to himself.) Hmm, that’s some real good craftsmanship. What is this, hickory? Or…maple?
Nova: Stop acting like a weirdo. Get your ass in here.
The young Hanlon hides a grin and closes the door, shoving his hands into the black dress-pant pockets now replacing his in-ring gear from earlier in the evening.
Nova: I know what you’re stressing about, and you need to chill.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, how can I?
He grabs a nearby chair, spinning it and straddling to sit in it backwards, leaning over the backrest.
Hayes Hanlon: There’s only two ways this thing goes. Both are equally awesome, and both equally suck.
Nova takes a drag, allowing the young man to vent.
Hayes Hanlon: There is nothing I want more than a shot at the Universal Championship, and to take it off of Jiles at Colossus??? That’s the DREAM, man!
The Event Horizon pushes a hand through his hair. Nova looks on, smoke pushing through his beard.
Hayes Hanlon: But…I want you to do that. Tonight! And if you win…
Nova: (Interrupting.) And if I win, that means it’s you and me. At the Big One.
Hayes shifts to reply, but nothing comes out. Instead, Nova stands and steps forward, crouching to meet him eye-level, placing a hand on his shoulder.
Nova: And you’ll walk down the ramp, to thousands and thousands of roaring fans. The bell will ring, and you’ll give me fucking hell. No pulled punches. Nothing held back. And we’ll burn. This. Mother. Fucker. Down.
Hayes sits numb, barely holding off a tremble. The Risen Star gives him a clap against a broad shoulder.
Nova: Hard to write a better story than that, Hayes.
A weak nod follows in response. The Starchild stands, and the Event Horizon follows.
Nova: You’ve had a hell of a first year, kid. Don’t piss on it on my account. If I walk out with that belt, you come for it with everything you got. Promise me. You deserve it. I deserve it. PRIME, and Colossus, deserve it.
Hayes Hanlon: Alright. I will.
The two remain standing, the Hall of Famer’s arm still firmly on the Rookie’s shoulder as the camera fades off.
Hayes Hanlon: I promise.
PLANES, TRAINS, and HEARSES
Backstage. Specifically, outside the private office of PRIME President Lindsay Troy.
Angelica Brooks stands with a microphone at the ready just to the side of the door bearing the boss’ name. From the other side all we can hear are muted voices, the intensity of whatever conversation took place having finally died down.
Angelica Brooks: We’re here backstage, as earlier tonight Jared Sykes – who for the last year has been competing in PRIME as “King Blueberry” – was brought in for a private conversation with Lindsay Troy after a confrontation with former Universal Champion and PRIME Hall of Famer Brandon Youngblood. We don’t know what was said, but folks backstage have been unanimous in letting us know that they were able to overhear a rather heated exchange. I’ve been hoping to catch a word with… I think he’s coming out now.
The handle clicks and the door is pulled open. Stepping into the frame of the camera is King Blueberry, who almost crashes headlong into PRIME’s lead reporter while still adjusting the fasteners on his mask. At the sight of the camera, his hand immediately moves to his face as if making sure that it’s covered.
Angelica Brooks: Jared, I was wondering if I could get a word about the events that have transpired here tonight.
Content with the knowledge that his face remains hidden, the berry king nods an affirmative.
Angelica Brooks: Thank you. Given what you said in the ring earlier this evening, I was wondering if you might be able to tell us a little bit about the conversation you just had.
King Blueberry: I’m sure those details are going to come out eventually, but despite everything that’s gone on these last couple months I still respect the person behind that door.
He gestures over his shoulder to the room he just came from.
King Blueberry: So if it’s cool I’d rather not betray the trust of that exchange.
Angie nods, formulating her next question, but she doesn’t get a chance to ask it before the berry jumps back in.
King Blueberry: What I can say is that twice now Justine and I have been on the receiving end of some Love Convoy bullshit, and that’s all about to change. In two weeks they get their first bit of payback. Darin Zion and JCH drew themselves one hell of a punishment match in Youngblood and Colton. If there’s not a coroner’s report that lists cause of death as “suplex” in two weeks, then I’ll be damned surprised.
Angelica Brooks: Not to mention your partner, Justine Calvin, will be getting a measure of revenge against Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy.
King Blueberry: With all due respect to Brandon and Nate? I think Zion and JCH are getting off easy in comparison to what Gladhappy’s got to deal with. So far everyone’s seen Cal wrestle in tag matches, but don’t let that fool you. And don’t be surprised when someone has to scrape Mister Gladhappy into a bucket before that match is over. And if by some miracle that group survives ReVival 19? Well then when Colossus rolls around the Love Convoy is going to become a funeral procession.
Angelica Brooks: Does that mean we can assume that Darin Zion and Jonathan-Christopher Hall will be wrestling you and Justine at Colossus? Possibly for the PRIME Tag Team Championships?
The king nods, pulling his half of those championships up into view over his left shoulder.
King Blueberry: Assuming they survive long enough to get there.
Angelica Brooks: And what of the Paxton Ray situation? Earlier tonight you announced a trip to New Orleans, intimating that this fight is somehow inevitable, and then not long after we heard from Jonathan Rhine who said he doesn’t agree with your decision to go and wished this could take place in a PRIME ring. Wondering what your thoughts are on his statement.
He takes a long, slow breath and holds it for a moment.
King Blueberry: Like I said, there are some things I don’t want to comment on coming out of that meeting. But, on that note, I’m afraid I have to cut this a little short.
A wry grin pulls at the corners of his lips.
King Blueberry: There’s a flight I need to cancel.
With that he moves down the hall. Jaw slightly agape and visibly flustered, Angie’s eyes dart between the departing berry and the camera as she processes the truth of what she just heard.
Walking down a backstage hallway, absently checking messages on her phone, is the figure of Ria Lockhart. Gradually, as she walks, the staccato clip of her shoes is joined by something else. The sound is distinctive–the footpads of someone running. Someone barefoot. Ria turns, curious–just in time to catch a hard shot across the forehead with a wooden escrima stick! Sage Pontiff stands tall, his face not full of murderous rage or overconfident bravado. He just looks calm. Buddha calm. Ria drops her phone with a clatter and tries to get to a fighting stance, but her rapidly blinking eyes make it plain as anything: that hard strike rang her bell decent, and Sage takes the opportunity to get a running start, jumping at the wall…and bounding off of it backwards with a picture perfect flying crescent kick–But Ria catches his foot! Operating on instinct, she pushes him off, throwing him off his balance, before rushing him and looking for a leaping kick of her own, but Pontiff spins out of the way and levels her with a crack of the stick to the side of the knee!! She crumples, gasping, and The Bodhisattva begins raining blows on her head and shoulders from behind with a calm, merciless nature. The dry staccato of wood to bone is echoing off the walls as she finally drops to the floor, covering up and trying to regain her wits.
Sage circles her, thinking, before executing a mount and grabbing her by her hair. She claws at his arms and shoulders, teeth gritted, drawing scratches and blood across his mishmash tattoos. He leans his head back, far enough to cause his entire spine to bow, before flying forward as he drags Lockhart’s head upward and burying his forehead into her nose in an explosion of blood and flying dreadlocks! He settles backwards, arms out, trying to regain his own composure, a little rattled from using his own skull in such a rough fashion. Head still back, he begins to speak, his voice a slow creak of vocal fry and enlightened peace.
Sage Pontiff: Do you…know what it means? To be a Bodhisattva?
His head finally rolls forwards and he surveys his handiwork. She bears multiple lumps on her face, but none as distinctive as the red welt he raised above her left eye. Her nose is askew, likely broken, and blood has coated her from cheek to chin already. Her eyes look glassy–she might be concussed. And he allows himself a small smile.
Sage Pontiff: I found the secret to Nirvana, to enlightenment. But I have held off on reaching it. To help people. To absolve them of suffering. Being what I am…is an act of compassion. This…is an act of compassion.
Pontiff runs his fingers along her cheek and draws a sloppy eye on her forehead in her own blood. He does the same with his own, before grabbing her by the face holding her eyes open with his thumbs. We can hear commotion down the hall, screaming for security, a gang of bodies clambering down the hallway. Sage pays them no mind. He is here to be heard.
Sage Pontiff: I offered you the keys to Golconda, the doorway to the oblivion of the self. Real enlightenment, Ria. Not what they sell you in the New Age sections, I’m talking real things. Concrete things. And rather than listen, you spat on it. But that’s not your fault. Cause the divine furies have placed you in my path, right? As a test. I’ve helped the willing to ascend so much…now I’m gonna have to show you the path. Even if I have to tear open your third eye to do it.
At that moment, the building security roughly grab Pontiff by his arms, pinning them behind his body. They jostle him hard, pulling him to standing, and he makes no motion to resist as he’s cuffed. He just continues to look down at Ria’s face. No rage. No overconfident bravado.
UNIVERSAL TITLE: CANCER JILES (C) VS. NOVA
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall… and is for the UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
Nick Stuart: And it’s main event time!
Richard Parker: Please let this be the last main event that Cancer Jiles is in.
Nick Stuart: We have a battle coming up tonight between Nova and Cancer Jiles. We just saw the 5-Star Championship change hands, with FLAMBERGE upsetting Rezin. Could the same thing happen here?
Richard Parker: I would gladly have taken Rezin as champion if it meant Nova could beat Jiles here tonight.
Nick Stuart: That’s not how any of this works.
In the ring, Vince Howard looks up the ramp to begin his introductions.
Vince Howard: Introducing first… standing at six feet and three inches tall, he weighs in at 240 pounds. Hailing from Parts Unknown, he is THE RISEN STAR! THE PRIME HALL OF FAMER! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVA!
The lights cut out in the arena, and a stormy sky appears on the video screen.
As thunder booms over the speakers and lightning lights up the darkened clouds on-screen, George Clinton’s voice can be heard speaking in soft, reverberating tones.
“Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time…for y’all have knocked her up. I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe; but I was not offended, for I knew I had to rise above it all…or drown in my own shit.”
The stormy sky fades, replaced by a field of stars. One of the stars shoots across the screen, and as the field of stars comes together to form the word “NOVA,” Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” lilts over the PA system.
At this moment, a spotlight hits the entrance ramp where Nova is knelt, one fist raised in the air. The smoke wafting up from the cigarette hanging out of his mouth swirls iridescently under the hot glare of the spotlight. After a moment, the Risen Star climbs to his feet and makes his way down to the ring, rolling under the bottom rope before standing and flicking his cigarette away.
The lights come up.
Nick Stuart: And the fans are READY for this match tonight!
Richard Parker: More importantly, I’m ready to watch the end of the Jiles era.
Vince Howard: And his opponent!
Vince Howard: Standing at six feet and one inches tall, he weighs in at 218 pounds. He hails from Philadelphia, PA… he is THE CLOSER! THE GREEK GOD OF COOL! THE MAIN EVENT! THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! CANCER! JIIIIIIIIIIIILES!
An unnerving chill moves through the air.
The smell of hair products permeates the MGM Grand.
Then, the gathered PRIMEates in attendance all rise to their feet, ready to unleash hell upon their champion.
Nick Stuart: And here he comes! Cancer Jiles. PRIME UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! Along with his entourage!
“I am the COOL” by Screaming Jay Hawkins hits like a punch to the face. Jiles, along with his full security detail, emerge from behind the curtain.
Richard Parker: Hopefully this is the last time we have to see this crap!
Lady Troy hands Jiles the UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP, contempt covering her face. She then offers up some well wishes, and heads for the back. Dame, Laser, and the Enemigos twins line the aisle, while Jiles, with his belt held high in the air, marches toward the ring.
Nick Stuart: No Bandits out here tonight? Maybe a case of out of sight out of mind?
Richard Parker: Nova knows better. Hopefully. He better. Someone tell him to be mindful.
The Champ enters the ring by slithering under the bottom rope, and unceremoniously tosses the UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP at Timo’s feet. He then berates the senior referee just for breathing in the same air as him.
Nick Stuart: I bet there will be no better feeling in this world than Timo counting the 1,2,3 on Cancer Jiles.
Richard Parker: Let’s just do this and get on our way.
Timo lifts the belt off of the ground and glares at Jiles before handing it over to the timekeeper. He gives his final set of instructions.
Cancer Jiles gives him the finger.
He signals for the start of the match.
As Timo looks at both men, moving out of the center of the ring, Nova begins to inch forward. Cancer Jiles looks like he’s not interested in moving out of his corner and hops onto the top turnbuckle, his eyes glaring at Timo first and then finally at Nova.
Nick Stuart: What is Cancer Jiles doing?
Richard Parker: BEING A MASSIVE ASS-
Nick Stuart: Woah, buddy, need you to calm that down.
Richard Parker: I WILL NOT BECAUSE I HATE CANCER JILES WITH ALL OF MY BEING!
Nick Stuart: There, there, drink your mug of — is this vodka?!
Richard Parker: DON’T JUDGE ME, THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT DAY FOR ME!
Nova looks over at Timo and continues to march his way towards Cancer Jiles who holds his hand up and shakes his head. He then looks over at Timo.
Cancer Jiles: Get him back!
Timo looks at Cancer with a sideways glance and shakes his head. Nova, tired of this, rushes at Cancer, whose eyes grow larger as Nova runs up the turnbuckles and begins pelting him with a series of fists.
Richard Parker: MURDER HIM! THROW HIM OFF THE TOP TURNBUCKLE! BREAK HIS NECK!
Nick Stuart: Alright, now we’re entering potentially criminal actions here, Richard. Let’s bring it down a notch. Cancer trying to fight back with fists of his own, but Nova is letting him have it and Cancer is in a bad spot here. Nova yanking Cancer to a standing position on the top rope and — yes — he connects with a Superplex off the top rope!
Richard Parker: HE IS DEAD! PIN HIM AND LET’S GO HOME!
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s the plan, Richie.
Nova gets back up to his feet as Cancer does the same, grabbing his back which is in a bit of pain. As Cancer turns around, he quickly jabs his thumb in Nova’s right eye, grounding the Starchild to one knee. Timo immediately admonishes him and Cancer responds with two middle fingers to the referee.
Cancer Jiles: Fuck this.
He then rolls out under the bottom rope and walks over to the timekeeper area.
Nick Stuart: What is he doing?
Richard Parker: HE IS GRABBING HIS TITLE! HE IS RUNNING AWAY!
Nick Stuart: No! This can’t be happening!
Richard Parker: CANCER JILES IS A PU–
Nick Stuart: Alright, the swear jar is completely full.
Sure enough, Cancer Jiles grabs his title and begins to hightail it while Timo yells at him to get back out of the ring. Cancer shakes his head though and begins to march up the metal ramp. He stands at the middle of the ramp and yells at Timo.
Cancer Jiles: I’m taking my jet and FLYING THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!
As Cancer turns though, he is pelted with an orange from the crowd. It hits him square in the face and causes Cancer to look to his left, wondering who threw the orange. Before he can do anything though, an apple is thrown at Cancer. Followed by grapes. And more fruit. SO MUCH FRUIT!
Richard Parker: WHAT THE?!
Nick Stuart: First off, seriously, calm down with the yelling. Second, fruit is coming in all directions from the audience and it is piling up around Cancer Jiles right now. I mean, I can’t even see his feet. The ramp itself is COVERED!
Richard Parker: Where did everyone get fruit?!
Nick Stuart: That is the million dollar question.
Fruit continues to pelt Cancer Jiles who gets angrier and angrier at this.
Cancer Jiles: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I AM THE COOLYMPUS! THEY HAVE RENAMED COLOSSUS INTO COOLOSUS BECAUSE OF ME! I AM YOUR UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! I HATE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU!
As he continues to rant at the fans, he is oblivious to a certain challenger coming up behind him. A challenger that grabs an apple off of the ramp. A challenger, as Cancer Jiles turns back towards the ring, slams the apple into Cancer Jiles open mouth.
Nova: HOW YOU LIKE DEM APPLES?!
Nova then yanks the apple out of Cancer’s mouth and slams it into his throat, which drops Cancer to one knee. Nova drills his fist into the top of Cancer’s skull before tossing him down the ramp, on top of fruits that explode as Cancer lands upon them.
Nick Stuart: I have seen many things in my position here, but this may take the cake.
Richard Parker: sniff sniff This is so beautiful.
Nick Stuart: Are you crying?
Richard Parker: I’m just so touched by our fans.
Nova walks down the ramp, grabbing Cancer by his perfectly coifed hair, and drags him down the rest of the ramp before yanking him up to his feet and slamming his head into the ring apron. He then tosses Cancer into the ring.
Nova follows after him and catches a rising Cancer with a boot to the midsection before drilling his knee into the doubled-over champion. Cancer drops to one knee, grabbing his face in the process. Nova meanwhile removes the championship belt from the waist of the Cool One.
Nova: You don’t deserve this.
He then returns it to Timo who in turn turns around and hands it to the time keeper. As he does though, Cancer Jiles sees his opening, and with Nova and Timo’s back to him, Cancer slams his forearm into the groin of Nova.
Richard Parker: YOU PIECE OF BLEEP! I HOPE YOU ROT IN BLEEP! YOU SELFISH MOTHERBLEEP! EAT BLEEP AND DIE YOU BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP!
Nick Stuart: RICHARD! I apologize for my colleague. He is letting his emotions get the better of him as Cancer pulls a page out of his cheating playbook and hits Nova with a low blow while Timo was distracted.
Nova drops to both knees as Timo turns around and looks at Nova before he glares at Cancer Jiles. He knows exactly what happened, but Timo is powerless to do anything about it.
Timo “Air Jordan” Bolamba: What did you do?!
Cancer simply shrugs his shoulders.
Timo “Jet Setter” Bolamba: I can’t believe you…
Cancer looks at Timo, at Nova, and then back at Timo before throwing him double birds. Timo storms over at Cancer, who makes his way back up to his feet and points at his own jaw.
Nick Stuart: Timo needs to cool it off.
Richard Parker: KNOCK HIM THE BLEEP OUT!
Nick Stuart: Everyone unable to keep their cool around Cancer Jiles apparently.
Timo looks like he wants to punch Cancer, but he holds off on doing so as he turns back to Nova and checks to see if he’s okay. Nova nods his head and as Timo backs up, Jiles walks over and slams his fist into the jaw of his opponent. Cancer fires off another one, but Nova makes his way back up to his feet. Cancer plants his boot into the midsection of the challenger before bouncing off the ropes parallel to Cancer and slams his boot across the side of his face. Nova collapses to one knee and Cancer puts him into a front facelock. He looks for a DDT, but Nova blocks it and connects with a bridging Northern Lights Suplex!
Richard Parker: COUNT FASTER, TIMO!
Nick Stuart: That looked like a fair count from Timo.
Richard Parker: You’re talking to me about fair?! We are so far beyond the concept of fair, Nick! This is war! This is the final battle! We lose this battle and that’s all there is! PRIME is over as we know it.
Nick Stuart: That seems like a bit of hyperbole.
Richard Parker: I DON’T CARE WHAT IT SEEMS LIKE TO YOU, IT IS REALITY!
Nova gets back up to his feet and catches a rising champion with a stiff forearm that sends Cancer into the ropes. Nova goes to whip Jiles across the ring, but Cancer hooks his arm around the top rope. Nova slams his elbow across the face of Cancer. He then bounces off the ropes and goes for a clothesline, but Jiles dips his shoulder and sends Nova over the top rope and crashing to the floor outside.
Nick Stuart: Nova hit the ring apron on his way down and he seems to be grabbing above his right eye.
Richard Parker: Crap, I think he’s bleeding.
Sure enough, he is bleeding and a smile appears on Cancer’s face as he looks down. He looks over at Timo and starts to laugh before he exits the ring and stands on the ring apron. He then leaps off of it and slams his boot across the busted-open cut above Nova’s right eyes. Nova rolls around on the floor, grabbing at his cut, and kicks his feet into the ground from the pain. Cancer stands over him, laughing as he reaches down and yanks Nova back to lying on the floor and snaps his boot across the cut once again, causing Nova to groan in pain.
Richard Parker: No good–
Nick Stuart: Okay, I think our tape delay and censor button has worn out for the evening. How about we just take our time and talk about the match itself? Cancer has found a weakness, an opening, on Nova and he has exploited it.
Richard Parker: Because that’s what he does, right? He will hook and crook his way to a victory by any means necessary.
Nick Stuart: Now Cancer dragging Nova up to his feet and he whips him HARD into the ringside barrier.
Richard Parker: THAT STUPID SON OF A–
Nova leans onto the barricade, his eyes open, but pained in every way. Cancer cracks a smile as he slams his elbow into the gash and Nova groans in pain as the blood continues to trickle down his face and onto his chest. Cancer grabs Nova’s wrist and whips him into the ring apron, causing Nova’s back to crack on the edge and drop him to both knees. Cancer quickly grabs him by the wrist and whips him into the ringside barricade again, the force of which drops Nova onto his chest as the champion stands above him.
Nick Stuart: Jiles with an evil streak–
Richard Parker: An evil streak that is as wide as the ocean!
Nick Stuart: This is true, but he is conniving and cunning. He knows what he’s going to do before anyone else does and he’s unorthodox enough that you can’t guess what he is going to do next.
Richard Parker: …sure.
Nova crawls back up to his feet as Cancer stands back and watches him do so, a sickening smile on his face. Cancer grabs the back of Nova’s head and goes to slam his head into the ring post, but Nova reverses it and sends Cancer careening off the post instead. Jiles drops to the floor, not sure of where he’s at as Nova stumbles forward, climbs up the ringsteps and looks down at his opponent. He wastes no time as he connects with an elbow off the ringsteps and across the sternum of the champion.
Richard Parker: That’s what I’m talking about!
Nick Stuart: Nova getting a little bit of offense in here, but he’s going to need a bit more if he hopes to end the reign of Cancer Jiles before it really gets going. Nova is now dragging Cancer back up to his feet and smashes his face into the ring apron. Cancer’s head snaps back as Nova then puts him into a reverse face lock and connects with a reverse snap suplex!
Richard Parker: Oh, now I’m getting excited.
Nick Stuart: I’m going to need you to sit two feet away from me.
Nova makes his way back up to his feet and drags Cancer up to a standing position before rolling him back into the ring. Nova follows after him and connects with a swinging neckbreaker to the stunned Jiles. Nova sits up and looks at Timo who is standing in the corner, allowing the match to unfold the way it’s meant to do so. Nova gets up to his feet, pulls Cancer up, and pushes him into the ropes before he connects with a knife-edge chop. Cancer grimaces in pain before Nova connects with another one. Jiles stumbles away, clutching at his chest, but Nova pulls him back and connects with another one.
Nick Stuart: Nova picking up a bit of momentum here–
Richard Parker: HURT HIM! MAKE HIM BLEED! CUT OFF HIS FINGERS!
Nick Stuart: RICHARD! Knock it off! This is unprofessional.
Richard Parker: You’ve worked next to me for how many years and this is when I’m unprofessional?
Nick Stuart: …fair.
Nova goes to whip Jiles across the ring, but Cancer reverses it. Nova flies off the ropes and Jiles immediately puts him into sleeper hold!
Nick Stuart: Oh, this isn’t good for Nova, as Cancer has this locked in tight.
Richard Parker: WHO TAUGHT CANCER JILES A SUBMISSION HOLD?!
Nick Stuart: Why are you still yelling in my ear? Nova is trying to fight Cancer off, but the blood loss he’s sustained is not going to help out anything at all.
Richard Parker: Let’s go Nova!
Nova drops to one knee though, feeling the exhaustion in his bones. Cancer cinches the sleeper hold in tighter and refusing to let it go. He looks over at Timo.
Cancer Jiles: Check him!
Timo glares at Cancer before he inches over and checks Nova, who tells him he’s not ready to give up. Cancer cinches the hold tighter.
Richard Parker: That has to be a choke hold at this point!
Nick Stuart: I think a sleeper hold is basically a choke hold.
Richard Parker: How would I know?! I’m not a wrestler!
Nova drops to two knees as Cancer stands above him, relishing this hold as Nova seems to be fading. Timo reluctantly lifts Nova’s arm up and watches as it drops.
Richard Parker: No, no, no.
Timo shakes his head as he grabs Nova’s arm again, lifts it, and it drops once again.
Nick Stuart: Nova is out and this might be the end of the match.
Richard Parker: I can’t watch.
Timo sighs as he grabs Nova’s arm and lifts it again.
It begins to drop.
Richard Parker: Nooooooooooo!
Nova’s arm shoots back up.
Nick Stuart: Nova isn’t done yet!
Richard Parker: YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!
Nova pushes himself up off the mat as Cancer looks surprised, thinking the match was over. Nova begins to walk, but Cancer holds onto him, determined to put Nova down once again. Nova though makes his way to the nearby corner as Cancer yanks him back. Nova digs in, refusing to cede the ground he’s gained. He then uses his momentum to leap onto the middle turnbuckle before falling backwards and rolling through so that Cancer’s shoulders are planted on the mat as Timo begins his count, quickly.
Richard Parker: NEW CHAMPION! NEW CHAMPION! NOVA IS THE NEW CHAMPION!
Nick Stuart: No, he’s not! Jiles managed to his shoulder up just in the nick of time.
Richard Parker: WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME?!
Nova rolls back up to his feet and catches a rising Jiles with a shoulder to the midsection that drives him into the turnbuckle. Jiles grimaces in pain before slamming his forearm into the back of his opponent. Nova muscles through it though as he hoists Jiles onto the top turnbuckle and drills him with a stiff punch. Timo warns Nova, but Nova ignores him as he climbs up the turnbuckle and is met with a stiff punch from Jiles. Nova, incensed, starts to headbutt Jiles repeatedly until the champion is rocked and is leaning back on the turnbuckle. Nova pulls Jiles up with him before connecting with a Superplex off the top rope!
Richard Parker: DEAD! HE IS DEAD!
Nick Stuart: I highly doubt that he is dead, Richard. See? He is breathing.
Richard Parker: I’m going to stab you.
Nick Stuart: Seriously, you need a therapist.
Nova and Jiles are lying in the center of the ring as Timo checks on them. Nova sits up, wiping away the blood out of his eyes and looks over at Jiles, his chest heaving in the process. Nova grabs the nearby ropes and yanks himself up as he looks over at his challenger. He walks over to Jiles and reaches down to pull him off the mat, but is instead pulled down into an inside cradle, yanking his trunks at the same time. Timo begins to slide into position, but sees the blatant cheating from Jiles in the process.
Nick Stuart: And Jiles has been caught cheating, and Timo is letting him have it!
Richard Parker: DISQUALIFY HIM! GIVE THE TITLE TO NOVA! SAVE US FROM THIS NATIONAL TRAVESTY!
Nick Stuart: Richard, I’m serious. If you don’t stop yelling in my ear, I’m going to punch you in your no-no spot.
Richard Parker: You wouldnt!
Nick Stuart: I would.
Jiles gets up to his feet and begins to yell at Timo, putting his finger in his face. Timo slaps down the finger, but Jiles puts it back into his face, slamming it into the chest of the referee. Timo pushes Jiles away from him and as he does, Nova slams his forearm into the neck of the Universal Champion. Jiles doubles over from the shot and Nova bounes off the ropes before connecting with a leg drop bulldog.
Nick Stuart: Dying Star Drop from Nova as he continues to build up some momentum while Jiles gets himself lost as to the reason why he is out there.
Richard Parker: To lose. To be pantsed and then lose some more.
Nick Stuart: …what?
Richard Parker: What?!
Jiles begins to make his way up to his feet and is met with a stiff forearm from Nova. He then whips Jiles into the opposite corner and runs at him before connecting with a body splash in the corner. Jiles stumbles out of the corner, not certain as to where he’s at. He looks at Nova, dazed, and goes for a wild punch, but Nova ducks underneath it and spins Jiles around into a German Suplex! Jiles flips onto his stomach as Nova gets back up to his feet and walks over to Cancer Jiles before grabbing the back of his neck.
Nick Stuart: And Jiles rolls out of the ring, onto the ring apron. Nova now reaching through the ropes to pull him back up to his feet and Cancer wraps his hands around the back of Nova’s neck and drops him throat first across the middle rope!
Richard Parker: That bastard!
Nick Stuart: Cancer is now sitting on the ring apron, a smile on his face.
Richard Parker: I’m going to go down there and wipe that smug look right off his face.
Nick Stuart: You will do no such thing.
Cancer slowly makes his way up to his feet and walks to the corner parallel of where Nova is currently at. He climbs up to the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick to the prone Nova, who rolls back into the ring from the shot while Cancer lands on the outside of the ring. He makes his way back up to his feet, slides in under the bottom rope, and as Nova is trying to sit up, Jiles connects with a knee strike to his face. Cancer then connects with another one and a third one as his intensity ratchets up.
Cancer Jiles: I WANT MY GLASSES BACK, ASSHOLE!
Cancer drags Nova back up to his feet and connects with a knife-edge chop that sends Nova crashing into the ropes. Jiles drills his knee into Nova’s midsection and then into his face before spinning him around and connecting with a German Suplex.
Nick Stuart: Everytime Cancer Jiles does an actual wrestling move, I’m in shock.
Richard Parker: Especially considering he’s stolen every move he’s ever had!
Nick Stuart: They’re… wrestling moves.
Richard Parker: How dare you defend him!
Jiles moves to the corner and watches as Nova climbs to his feet. Nova turns towards Jiles, who goes for a superkick, but Nova manages to duck underneath it. Jiles spins around and is met with a boot to the midsection before Nova connects with a corkscrew cradle suplex.
Nick Stuart: Jiles went for the Terminal Cancer, but Nova managed to duck under it and connects with the in-NOVA-tor.
Richard Parker: There we go! Let’s put this thing away for good!
As he reaches down to grab Jiles, a sound comes through the crowd.
Nova spins around to find Bobby Dean and Fred Mayhew/Doozer making his way down the ramp!
Richard Parker: Get these IDIOTS out of here!
Nick Stuart: The eGG Bandits have arrived and have already distracted Nova simply by coming down the ramp.
Timo Bolamba heads them off at the pass, but Bobby and Mayhew walk around him as they have their eyes firmly planted upon Nova.
Nick Stuart: And here comes Hayes Hanlon!
Richard Parker: Never thought I would be so happy to see him come out here!
Bobby turns around and rushes (as much as Bobby can rush) at Hanlon, who ducks underneath the right paw of the Beautiful One. He then spins Bobby around and drills him with a stiff forearm across the face. Hanlon then sprints towards Mayhew, who is in Timo’s face, and delivers a running clothesline to the back of Fred!
Nick Stuart: All hell is breaking loose here!
Richard Parker: Cancer started it!
Timo slides back into the ring as Nova turns his attention to a rising Cancer Jiles. Jiles spins around and goes to spit something at Nova, but he ducks underneath it and it gets Timo in the eyes instead!
Richard Parker: NO!
Nick Stuart: That yellow Muta mist was meant for Nova and Timo is now down to one knee, trying to get it out of his face!
Richard Parker: HOW IS THIS CHEATER STILL ALLOWED IN PRIME?!
Nova looks over at Timo, trying to help him out. As he does, Dean slides in a steel chair under the bottom rope to Cancer. Jiles picks it up and Nova turns back towards Jiles, narrowly missing the steel chair to the face. Jiles spins around and is met with a spinning heel kick to the chair that ricochets off of Cancer’s face!
Richard Parker: SERVES YOU RIGHT!
Nick Stuart: Novacaine from The Starless Child!
Richard Parker: BOBBY DEAN’S FACE LOOKS LIKE HE’S JUST BEEN DENIED CAKE!
Nick Stuart: Poor Bobby.
Hanlon rushes around the ring and connects with a flying crossbody on Bobby Dean to the cheers of the fans! As he does so, Fred Mayhew (Doozer) grabs the Universal Championship and rushes into the ring with it. Nova though slams his boot into the face of Mayhew and drops him with a high angle Death Valley Driver!
Nick Stuart: BOURBON FOR BREAFKAST!
Richard Parker: Mmm, that does sound good. And is exactly what Mayhew deserves!
Nick Stuart: The eGG Bandits are trying to help Cancer Jiles steal this match, but they have been unable to clear it thus far.
Nova reaches down and grabs the Universal Championship. He looks at it for a moment, knowing he is only moments from taking it home.
Cancer Jiles: HEY ASSHOLE! THAT’S MINE!
At the sound of Cancer’s voice, Nova turns around and is met with a superkick to the belt to the face.
Richard Parker: NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Nova: And Nova is laid OUT! HE TOOK ALL OF THE TERMINAL CANCER, WITH THE BELT TO BOOT!
Cancer then grabs Timo and yanks him over to the fallen Nova before going for the pin. Timo, who is still trying to get the mist out of his face, begins his count.
A smile appears on Cancer’s face.
Hanlon tries to rush into the ring to stop this travesty from happening, but Dean grabs his foot at the last possible second.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: YOUR WINNER! AND STILL UNIVERSAL CHAMPION… CANCER! JILES!
Cancer rolls off of Nova, grabbing his Universal Championship in the process. Timo sits up and manages to see that he was counting for Jiles, not for Nova, and shakes his head, covering his face in the process.
Hanlon lays on the mat, head in his hands.
Bobby Dean rolls into the ring and helps Cancer up to his feet while Mayhew rises to his own feet, grabbing the back of his neck.
Richard Parker: Someone… anyone… no….
Nick Stuart: Are you crying?
Richard Parker: …no.
Nick Stuart: Cancer Jiles has managed to retain, to the dismay of just about everyone.
Richard Parker: That’s an understatement.
Cancer holds up his title in victory and clutches it to his chest as he is helped out by Bobby Dean and Fred Mayhew. As he does, he locks eyes with Hayes Hanlon who is getting up to his feet.
Hanlon’s seething as he looks at Jiles, but instead of attacking him he walks over to Nova to help him out.
Nick Stuart: And here comes the Enemigos! Lindsay Troy isn’t letting Cancer Jiles out of her sights!
Jiles looks around at the waiting security detail and shakes his head in the process. He then looks back over at Hanlon.
Animosity fills the space in between them.
Richard Parker: I need someone to end his reign!
Nick Stuart: Well, that person might just be in the ring.
Hanlon and Jiles continue to glare at one another, Hanlon realizing what he will have to do, and seems up for the task.
Jiles, willing to do whatever it takes to keep his championship.
Nick Stuart: Well, folks, that’s it for tonight! For my partner Richard Parker, I’m Nick Stuart. Thank you for joining us!
A smile appears on Jiles face.
COOLOSUS IS COMING.