Event Date: 12/02/2022
Event Location: Las Vegas, NV
THE ETERNAL FLAME
Darkness envelops the screen before the haunting guitar melody of “Phoenix Rising” by Annihilator begins playing. An image of a young man with long, flowing auburn hair, white circles, and a splash of red across his forehead, eyes and nose fades in..
Day by day, watching you disappear
Wishing that you were still here beside me
“The Eternal Flame” Jay Phoenix walks slowly down an aisle in an unknown arena with flames dancing skyward on the entrance stage behind him.
On my own, swimming against the tide
There’s nobody on my side but your memory
With a quick move, he jumps to the ring apron and climbs the turnbuckle, holding an arm up to the wildly cheering fans.
Then you’ll rise right before my eyes
On wings that fill the sky
Like a phoenix rising
Like a phoenix rising
Clips of Phoenix’s career begin playing across the screen: winning the PWW and UWF Grandslam Championships; the 4WW, WWA, and RUSH World Titles; the CSWA Presidential Championship…
Wings on fire, tearing into the night
Screaming into the light of another day
Highlights from Primetime Central tournaments are next: the Chris Williams Memorial Cup finals, which see Phoenix hitting the “From the Ashes” shooting star press for the victory; his time in the inaugural GTT tournament; and both the GTT5 and GTT6 events, the latter of which he competed as the masked “Ember…”
Carry me out the hurricane
Into the smoke and flame and we’ll fly away
And we’ll rise right before their eyes
On wings that fill the sky
Like a phoenix rising
Like a phoenix rising
Phoenix’s time in PTC transitions into scenes from his time in PRIME: competing in the Dual Halo and the Jewel in the Crown tournament; an Intense Title match against Sun Tzu and Jonathon Winters at King of Kings 2; a 5 Star Title match against High Flyer…
Higher, higher, hear the thunder roar from above
Fire, fire, fire makes me whole
A Colossus VI contest against Jason Natas is next, followed by battles against Tony Gamble at ReVolution 205 and 2009’s Great American Nightmare; and Phoenix’s final PRIME match against Troy Douglas at 2009’s King of Kings…
And we’ll rise right before their eyes
On wings that fill the sky
Like a phoenix rising
Like a phoenix rising
Finally, the montage switches to a single scene of the Eternal Flame on the stage, soaking in the adulation from the fans with a smile on his face, as a phoenix rises on the PRIME*View behind him.
Wings on fire, tearing into the night
And we’ll fly away
To make a donation in Jay’s name, please visit https://www.myaware.org/donate/donate and/or https://988lifeline.org/donate/
MATT MILLS MEETS THE LION OF LAREDO
Ringside, things haven’t gotten too loud yet, as fans are still pouring into the stadium. The camera is feeding live from the ringside commentary table.
Nick Stuart: And now we take you live to Matt Mills, who is out in the halls here at the MGM Grand to get a read on the audience and who they hope takes home a victory today.
Nick is all smiles – blinding white teeth against an unnaturally golden tan for November. He appears to be in a good mood, unlike his cohost, who seems to be practically sweating out impatience from his pores.
Richard Parker: Yessiree, I’m sure our audience at home will just love hearing what the audience that was able to actually afford tickets is thinking.
Nick Stuart: What’s it like down there, Matt?
Cut to the tunnels of the arena where Matt Mills is standing in front of a PRIME drop banner holding a microphone with a big foam ball on top. Matt is practically vibrating with energy as he can’t help but smile at the camera.
Matt Mills: Boy, I tell ya, Nick, I’ve never seen such an excited crowd. These people are PRIMEd (yuck yuck) to be here today, and the excitement just vibrates through your bones. Let’s have a chat with a few lucky ReVival 20 attendees, excuse me, miss!?
A young woman in her early twenties wearing a leather skirt, 4” platform army boots, fishnets, and a crop top shirt, continues walking at a brisk pace past Matt. She is carrying a sign that reads, “Anna’s gonna drink some Youngblood!” She spits out a rapid response.
Punk Rocker Attendee: I have a boyfriend.
Unphased, Matt seeks out another attendee to speak with.
Matt Mills: How wonderful for you!
He cups his hand to his mouth and speaks louder.
Matt Mills: Who are you here rooting fo- ok, she’s walking away, but she’s clearly thrilled to be here. Also, as you can see by the sign, she’s betting on Anna Daniels to come out on top over Brandon Youngblood in their match tonight. You, sir! In the white shirt! Yes, step this way please, over in front of the camera, perfect. What’s your name, sir, and where are you from?
Carlos De Leon stops walking through the arena and beams at Matt. He almost sprints over to the camera and matches Matt’s level of excitement, grinning from ear to ear.
Rocky De Leon: I’m Rocky De Leon, from Laredo, Texas. They call me the Laredo Lion!
Rocky bares his teeth and flexes for the camera. Matt appears to pay no attention to the flex. He relaxes a little, and moves on with his questioning.
Matt Mills: Great to meet you, Rocky! Here all the way from Laredo, huh? Boy, you must really be excited to get in there. I won’t keep you too long, I’m sure you want to get to your seat before the action starts, but let me ask – what are you most excited about today at ReVival 20?
Rocky De Leon: I’m just pumped to get a chance to scope out and study my competition. It’s one thing to watch the Luchador on TV, it’s another to analyze his every move from ringside. I’m going to study him like he’s my 11th grade physics final so after I fight my way to that title match, I’ll know exactly what it takes to beat him, and every. Single. Weakness. He might possibly have.
Rocky points hard into the camera on each of “every,” “single,” and weakness. He continues to look visibly elated to be there, like a college student that just got called onto The Price is Right.
Matt is momentarily visibly confused.
Matt Mills: Haha, you have quite the imagination, there, friend. I take it you have the PRIME PS5 game at home?
Rocky loses his edge for a moment, realizing the interviewer has no idea what he’s talking about. He briefly shows a tiny bit of embarrassment.
Rocky De Leon: Oh, no, sir, I’m sorry. I’m actually a wrestler. I’m new here – just not fighting tonight.
Matt Mills: REALLY?! Well that is just fantastic, I tell you what, son. It’s great to see new faces. You’re hoping to get in there with the Anglo Luchador himself, eh? Well, good luck to you! You’ve got a long road ahead and a lot of competition to get through first.
Rocky De Leon: Oh, I know it. I’ve been working out for months, but I’m looking to get in with a great trainer to nail down my move set.
Rocky flexes for the camera again.
Matt Mills: Well now, that’s just fantastic! What sort of wrestling style do you think you’ll employ, and why is it that you think you’ve got what it takes to take down the current PRIME champion without having ever wrestled a match?
Rocky De Leon: Honestly, it’s hard to say. I’m still developing my technique, which is part of what I want training for. I’ve been working on this awesome finisher I call the flying squirrel. As for why I think I can win? It’s because I want it, Matt. I *yearn* for it. Drive. Desire. Ambition. The current roster members are riding high, but they’ve started to forget what it’s like to be hungry, and Matt? It’s been a long time since I had a burger.
Matt Mills: Love to hear that unbridled optimism, young man. The flying squirrel, huh? Is that how you got your nickname?
Rocky De Leon: Unrelated. But hey, Matt – can I call you Matt? I feel like I’ve known you for years, watching all your interviews. Sometimes I feel like I watch your interviews as closely, or more so, than the matches. I have to tell you, man, I’m a huge fan of your work. I was just rewatching your interview of Dave Gibson introducing Eddie Cross. Dave is quite a character – how on earth did you maintain composure during that whole thing?
Rocky stops grinning and adopts a focused demeanor, clearly settling into the attitude of a trained interviewer and journalist. He maintains a pleasant smile, but no longer radiates puppy-dog like vibes, and begins acting every bit the professional Matt has to this moment.
Matt Mills: Really? You rewatch *MY* stuff? Wow. Honestly, maintaining composure just sort of comes with the territory. After you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you learn to quietly appreciate the wrestlers that engage professionally, and just let the negative ones roll off your back like water off a duck. I won’t pretend it isn’t hard sometimes, but hey – that’s the job.
Rocky De Leon: Absolutely. Would you be willing to tell me a bit about your process? How do you decide what questions to ask the wrestlers? What’s your preparation look like?
Matt loses a little poise and stumbles a bit for his words, clearly unprepared for someone to address questions to him.
Matt Mills: …Funny, you know, you get so used to asking questions, you don’t really know how to act when you have to answer them. I suppose it’s mostly instinct at this point. I just ask what I want to know and what enters my head on the fly.
Rocky De Leon: You always get to ask everyone who they think is going to win, but do you have a favorite wrestler to watch or anyone you’re rooting for today?
Matt Mills: Hah, well, as a PRIME employee, I’m not exactly allowed to pick (or at least, publicly announce) favorites.
Rocky De Leon: That’s understandable. What about stories? What’s your favorite PRIME story or match in your time working here?
Matt Mills: Gee, um, there are just so many to pick from… I don’t know if I can choose, but honestly, this entire year has been just amazing, and I’m thrilled to be back and a part of the magic again!
Rocky De Leon: Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but for me at least it’s always been apparent that you take immense personal joy from watching these wrestlers. Has it always been that way? Or did you develop your love of wrestling later in life? OH, it looks like the match will be starting soon. I better get to my seat. It was a real pleasure meeting you Matt – I’d love to get the chance to talk with you again sometime and pick your brain on interviewing styles!
Matt Mills: um, sure, yeah, I guess?
The camera cuts back to the ringside feed.
Richard Parker: What the hell was that?
Nick Stuart: Sounded like an up and coming challenger! Will he be the next amazing PRIME wrestler? Will he get CTE after his first match, then we never see or hear from him again? Who can say?
Richard Parker: I don’t know, but I *can* say he’s gone now, so it’s time to focus on the ring…
BUILDING A LASTING PEACE (WITH MY BUDDIES BEEF AND EL JANITO)
We cut to the conference room of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and the sight that greets the viewers when we get here is one that might take some people aback.
There is a long conference table at the center of the room. Seated dead center in the middle, confusion and panic in his eyes as he realizes that he’s assigned to the dumbest possible scenario in the world – which says a lot considering his relationship with Rezin – is Simon Tillier. The junior interviewer of PRIME has drawn the short straw tonight, in that he was roped into this when the individuals at the table had asked him to be here for an interview.
What he never expected, and the reason he’s here now, is that he’s been asked to appear at a peace summit.
Well, between two parties, seated at opposite ends of the table.
The first party is Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips of the Winds of Change. Joe is dressed in a dazzling green and black suit, the kind you might wear for a gaudy party and definitely not for a serious sit-down meeting. Sid’s in his singlet, since the Winds are in action later tonight. He has, however, thought to put on a tie. Poorly. It hangs around his neck like a cheap scarf. Conspicuous by his absence is Coral Avalon, who is either unaware of this happening, or is completely aware of it and wants no part of it. Knowing him, probably the latter.
The second party is standing there. Menacingly.
Well, it’s all he can do, really. Wearing his red mask and cape, his cold stare is only heightened by the lack of actual eyes at all. You see, the second party isn’t a person. It’s a mannequin. It’s the mannequin. Everyone knows him by his Christian name, though: El Hijo del Super Cool Guy.
Simon Tillier: Okay, how do I do this? Um. I’m standing here with Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips of the Winds of Change and El Hi—
Joe Fontaine (interrupting): What the hell are you doing, Tillier?
Sid Phillips: Yeah, what are you doing?
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Joe gestures at the mannequin.
Joe Fontaine: You see? See? Even he’s asking what you’re doing, and we all know the End Times will begin when the two of us agree on anything.
Simon Tillier: Um, but… I thought I was here to conduct an interview…
Joe Fontaine: No, no, no. That’s not your role to play here!
Simon Tillier: Wait, what? But… I have all these notes, and things to ask, and…
Joe Fontaine: Did you not read the summons we sent you?
Simon Tillier: Summons? Mr. Fontaine, was that supposed to be a summons? I arrived at my desk today and found an unconscious local wrestler lying in the remains of what used to be my desk. He, um… he had a note scotch taped to his chest that looked like instructions about what to do in case GREAT BEAR escapes containment and is massacring the staff of the MGM Grand.
Joe and Sid exchange looks. Sid only offers a shrug because he already decided to not accept blame for what happened.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah. Did you read the back of the notice?
Simon Tillier: (exhausted sigh) Yes… but only so far as you were asking me to be here.
Joe Fontaine: That’s a shame. We weren’t asking you to be here for your interviewing skills. We’re not even asking you to be a mediator even though our guy’s running late. No, we need an interpreter for him.
Joe points at El Hijo del Super Cool Guy, who still stands there. Menacingly.
Simon Tillier: For the mannequin?
Joe Fontaine: Yes. You are the most qualified interpreter left because Jared Blueberry declined to get involved this time.
Simon Tillier: Mr. Fontaine, how am I qualified for interpreting for an inanimate object? Also, you can clearly, uh… “understand” him.
Joe Fontaine: Don’t worry about any of that. Now, go stand over there. You’re on his side now.
Simon looks pleadingly at Joe and Sid, expecting this to be a joke. Unfortunately for him, he catches sight of the look in Sid’s eyes. He knows that look. Everyone in PRIME does.
It’s that mad-eyed look when Sid is one step away from powerbombing everyone in the room, everyone not in the room, everyone in the between state of being in or not in the room, everyone in the other Nine Realms, and at least twenty-three liminal Enemigos. That’s what happens when you don’t let Sid powerbomb anyone professionally for an entire two months. Simon knows this, judging from the look in his eyes.
He almost wishes he’d been dealing with Rezin. Almost.
So, silently, Simon stands and reluctantly walks over to Team SCG’s side of the table.
Simon Tillier: You mentioned you had a mediator? Who?
Joe Fontaine: Oh, they’ll be here soon.
As if on cue, the door to the conference room swings open. Every head except one turns towards it.
Okay, for legal reasons, this needs to be explained. No one knows why they’re here. No one knows how they got past security, especially a security team full of their mortal blood enemies, the Enemigos. You’d think that after the incident on ReVival 8 where they left a call center in flames, after all of the legal troubles that have gone on with their cartoon and the ACE Network, and especially after that one time they tried to destroy King Blueberry and his friends with catapults that Mega Job: The Epic Tag Team wouldn’t ever show up on PRIME television again.
But you’d be wrong.
Beef stands there as though he’d stepped through a time portal from the year 2008. He looks like he hadn’t aged a day. His blonde hair still stands up as though it understands a gravity that’s not our Earth gravity. El Janito stands next to him, with his long black hair and Latino good looks. He, too, appears to have not aged. Both are in the nicest suits anyone had ever seen them wear. They’re almost wasted on them.
Beef: Hello! We were told that we were needed!
Somewhere in the building, a silent alarm has sounded. It’s an alarm that the Enemigos sought to install from the moment they’d been made part of PRIME’s security team. It’s the Mega Job alarm. It only sounds when Mega Job is present on PRIME television. For the record, they also have alarms for medieval siege weaponry, Roderick McRatrick, and something called a “SkyMont”. Most terrible, indeed.
Joe Fontaine: Right you are, my dude!
Simon Tillier: Oh no.
Beef walks in with the casual stride of someone who thinks they’re cooler than they actually are. El Janito, meanwhile, hangs back and does something with the door.
Joe Fontaine: How’s the cartoon going, my dude?
Beef: It’s going great! Lots of thrilling adventures! I think we’re off in search of the Cherry of Relevance now. Also, I have, like, no idea where it’s airing right now. Nobody tells us anything. I guess YouTube? We have one of those, right? Do they call it the PRIMEtube here? The PRIMEview? The PRIMEtron? PRIMEtime?
Beef: Anyhoodle! We heard through the grapevine that you needed a mediator for this very important event! And so we have journeyed across space and time! We climbed the mountains of faith! We traveled through the valley of fear! Hacked our way through the jungle of doubt! Sweated mannishly through the desert of truth! All so we could cross the river of dreams and reach our destination!
El Janito: Also, we flew Bolambair.
Beef: Yes. That, too.
El Janito moves to join Beef at the center of the table. He, too, walks with the casual cool of someone who’s the complete opposite of cool, but trying very hard to take it.
Simon Tillier: I don’t understand what’s happening right now.
Beef: Let your ‘ol pal Beef explain everything to you. See, a long, long time ago… really very too big long yes indeed, there was a big explosion. And then from the scattered ashes from that explosion, creation began, an–
Simon Tillier (interrupting): I meant right now, not how the universe was formed.
Beef: Oh. Well, Janito, you wanna take this one?
El Janito: Sure! We’re Mega Job.
Beef: Yep. That explains it thoroughly and succinctly, and requires no further explanation. Good job, everyone. High five!
Beef and Janito do a high five. Janito’s hand hits Beef in the left shoulder blade, which is impressive since Beef is right-handed. Beef’s right hand hits the air just above Janito’s head. This is a pretty standard high five from these two. After 21 years together – probably longer, we don’t know – they still haven’t figured out how it works. Just let it go, and move on.
Sid Phillips: Somehow, I feel like we’ve got the roles mixed up.
Joe Fontaine: You think? I think it’s perfect.
Simon Tillier: No, you definitely do!
Everyone ignores the pleas of the junior interviewer. He’s trapped in there with him, even if it’s for a few fleeting minutes before the Enemigos find their way inside the conference room to detain the real problems in the room.
Beef: Alright. I haven’t done one of these since that time we had to have a sit-down with Ken War and Adam Nowell about all of the blood and organs ‘ol Kenny kept leaving behind in Adam’s apartment. Remember that?
El Janito: Yeah. They were his own. Good times. Shame we finally went through with that exorcism.
They look off into the distance. Ah, memories. With incredibly terrible typing skills.
Simon Tillier: I’m afraid to ask. Exorcism?
El Janito: You ever hung out with an immortal zombie whose only purpose in life is to die in spectacular ways?
Simon Tillier: Does Rezin count?
Beef: What the hell is a Rezin?
Sid loudly clears his throat, interrupting the conversation.
Sid Phillips: Guys… gentlemen…. uh, gentleguys. Time is of the essence here. Joe and I have a match later. I would like to powerbomb many Bandits. Really, just all of them. I want to hear Bobby Dean scream in terror as I hold him aloft, knowing that the only conclusion is powerbomb. I want to turn the ring into an impact crater with the broken, whimpering, freshly powerbombed corpse of Fred Mayhew. And I know he isn’t a Bandit technically, but I want to powerbomb GREAT SCOTT. Many times. In succession. All for daring to blight our roster with a horrible bear. Until he is an unrecognizable, mangled mass of flesh and bone, completely untethered from its original form.
As Sid talks, Beef and El Janito don’t really get out of their seats, but they do lean further and further away from him as he keeps talking.
Beef: Cool story, bro.
El Janito: Yeah! So, what’s up? What’s the need for a peace summit?
Joe points across the table at El Hijo del Super Cool Guy.
Joe Fontaine: This guy spent the first two months of my life here giving me Canadian Destroyers.
El Janito: What’s a Canadian Destroyer?
Beef: It’s a wrestling move that nerds think is cool.
El Janito: Oh. What’s a wrestling move?
Beef: Those things that always used to happen to us whenever we got into a ring.
El Janito: Oh. I don’t like those. They make me go ouchies.
Beef: Me either. I once got powerbombed by a gothic Lolita cosplay girl, and I’d be lying if I said that was even within the top thirty most embarrassing things that have happened to me.
Sid Phillips: I would know what powerbomb you were struck by.
Beef: It was a double reverse quadruple wheelbarrow powerbomb.
Sid blinks, his jaw dropping. He’s visibly shaking.
Sid Phillips: IMPOSSIBLE! That powerbomb is still in the theoretical stages! It should have… wait, hang on. 6.26 powerbombs… carry the powerbomb… yeah, that should’ve unmade you so hard that two of you would’ve spawned and then they themselves would’ve been unmade! Which then causes a chain reaction of unmaking! You should’ve ceased to exist an infinity number of times.
Beef: It was pretty uncomfortable.
Sid Phillips: YOU SHOULD BE UNMADE!
Joe Fontaine: Guys? We should hear from SCG about his transgressions against me before we get into theoretical powerbombs.
All eyes turn to El Hijo del Super Cool Guy.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
And then four sets of eyes turn to Simon Tillier. A not-insignificant amount of panic grips the heart of the junior interviewer. He has no idea what to do. Nothing he’s ever learned on the job has prepared him for this moment.
He turns to the mannequin.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Is he saying anything?
Simon Tillier: Um. He’s, uh… he’s saying that he’s had time to think about it being in storage all this time, and he’s sorry?
Simon clearly has no idea which part of his ass he pulled that one from. It’s as though the words appear in his head. The other four idiots at the table seem to nod and exchange glances to one another.
Joe Fontaine: I had to go to therapy for months because of him. Which is humiliating, because my therapist doesn’t believe me when I tell her the crap I went through.
Simon Tillier: He’s very sorry.
Joe Fontaine: …Really?
Simon’s already this far in. He might as well see this through to the end.
Simon Tillier: He’s… he’s, um… he’s triple dog sorry.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, shit. That’s how you know it’s real.
Beef and El Janito nod in wise, sage agreement.
El Janito: We acknowledge the use of the triple dog apology.
Okay, maybe “wise” and “sage” aren’t the adjectives that should be used in this case.
Beef: Alright then. So if I can ask a question for, like, knowledge and stuff that I’m definitely not retaining once the Enemigos bust down the door…
A furious collection of noises can now be heard out of the door that Janito had blocked on his way inside. There’s the noisy contempt of several very pissed off, yet wordless Enemigos. There’s the jostling of the door handles that won’t open. There’s a silent order from Enemigo I, one communicated in mere unseen gesture, to the other Enemigos to go get the emergency medieval battering ram. Countless feet run off, the feet of as many Enemigos as it would take to remove Mega Job from the MGM Grand.
Beef: Huh. Sure is noisy out there. Anyhoodle! I was going to ask. What started all of this?
Joe Fontaine: It was a boulder pushing contest. Sid was powerbombing an Enemigo into a boulder to make it go faster.
El Janito: As one does.
Simon Tillier: No one does that!
El Janito (insistent): As one does.
Sid Phillips: We would’ve won that event if the Enemigo dressed in red.
Simon Tillier: That doesn’t make any sense!
Sid Phillips: What do you mean? It makes perfect sense. Red ones go faster.
Simon doesn’t comprehend the Ork logic of Sid’s words, and can only gawk at him. So, instead, he turns his attention back to the only reasonable person in the room. Unfortunately for him, that person is a mannequin.
Joe Fontaine: So, anyway, I’m just doing my job, trying to beautifully roll that cool rock down the Strip, and then this guy escapes the clutches of that douchebag Paxton Ray and next thing I know, I’m ass-over-teakettle unconscious on the Vegas strip.
Beef and El Janito nod to each other.
El Janito: That sounds like how most wrestling goes for us.
Beef: Really makes you wonder why we even got into this business.
El Janito: Anyway, what does our friend here have to say about this?
Simon turns to the mannequin.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Simon Tillier: I’m sorry, you were a what?
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Simon Tillier: I’m not sure that can be said on television.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Simon Tillier: Alright, fine. Fine! He says that he only wanted to soar like a majestic “fully-dicked pterodactyl”.
The moment the words leave his mouth, he regrets them. Oh, that’s not going to look good on his performance review. Worse yet, Simon knows that because he’s talking to an inanimate object, he’ll be the one to blame. What would Angie say?
Joe and Sid nod. So, too, did the Mega Job contingent.
Joe Fontaine: I can understand that desire.
Simon Tillier: What!?
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, man. Everybody wants to go full-dick pterodactyl! Are you kidding? Alright, sure. What about all the other times?
Joe pauses, his hands shaking as he remembers a particularly unpleasant memory.
Joe Fontaine: Actually, no. Screw all that. What the hell happened in the maze?
Simon Tillier: The maze?
Joe Fontaine: Don’t tell me you forgot about what happened, Tillier! I watched that match back! I saw El Hijo del Super Cool Guy do things.
Sid Phillips: I didn’t.
Joe Fontaine: You were blindfolded!
Beef: So were we!
El Janito: Yeah!
Joe Fontaine: You weren’t even in the match!
El Janito: Metaphorically speaking, we were blindfolded. …As in, we didn’t watch the match you’re talking about.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, but everyone knows about the Minotaur.
Sid Phillips: Well, yeah. They’re selling T-shirts at the PRIMEporium now.
Joe Fontaine: For real!?
Sid Phillips: Yeah. The demand’s been really high since that show, apparently. Minotaur’s a real merchandise mover despite not even being a PRIME employee.
Simon Tillier: I bought one for one of my cousins on my company discount.
Beef: Janito and I have matching ones.
El Janito: Yup.
Joe holds his hands up to his head, having learned something he never knew that’d come at his expense.
Joe Fontaine: How the hell did I not know this?
Beef: You should listen to his podcast.
Joe Fontaine: HE HAS A PODCAST!?
El Janito: Yeah. It’s called the Labyrinthine Views of Amazing Mazes. It has a new episode every month about the Minotaur’s latest escapades in the many mazes he finds himself in. It’s great stuff.
Beef: #8 on iTunes, I hear!
Joe Fontaine: I DID NOT NEED TO KNOW THIS!
Through all of the commotion, one voice speaks out.
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
“Speaks” is relative in this case.
Simon Tillier: Um. He says that he’s sorry about that one, too. He’s not responsible for the Minotaur, though. He does think you’ve been unnecessarily mean to him, though, just because of all the accidents before that incident, though.
Simon has no idea what he’s saying. Apparently, someone had given SCG the apologetic head this evening, which is a welcome reprieve from the other, much more horrible heads that aren’t suitable for television.
Joe Fontaine: Okay. Alright. You know what? It hasn’t happened lately. Therapy’s gone really well. I’m able to face you without screaming and running away, and I think that’s important. So I’m willing to forgive and forget. Like, we should be doing more than just fighting all the time, you know? We should be building bridges, not burning them. Think about it. Who helped build this place? You did. By hook, by crook, and by forklift, you laid a foundation in PRIME for all of us to stand. I guess there were some other wrestle boys that helped, too, but you were among them! And I came along and made it much more fabulous! We should work together to strengthen the foundation of PRIME, not try to deliver Canadian Destroyers to one another.
Joe has conveniently forgotten that the Canadian Destroyers had been a one-way street.
He stands up, and offers a hand.
Joe Fontaine: So what do you say? Friends?
El Hijo del Super Cool Guy: …
Simon Tillier: He said “yes”!
There’s cheering throughout the room, and in the viewing audience as well. Somewhere at ringside, Richard Parker sheds a single tear. There’s a celebratory feeling going on right now.
And then the conference room door explodes. I mean, it’s just splinters.
The room promptly floods with Enemigos. There’s more Enemigos than could ever be counted on one hand. Quite frankly, we’re amazed that they could come in such numbers and that PRIME could afford them. Perhaps they’re like the Multiple Man, and there’s a “prime” Enemigo that generates numerous other additional Enemigos. It’s hard to say. But all of the Enemigos come in and surround Beef and El Janito. A few of them are hanging back at the door, behind a medieval-style battering ram that somehow managed to fit in the halls of the MGM Grand.
Beef laughs nervously, adjusting his collar.
Beef: Hi, guys. Been a while. How’ve you been?
They’re upon him.
Beef: OH GOD WHY
El Janito holds his hands up in peaceful surrender.
El Janito: Uh… hi there, XVI. Love what you did with the hair.
They’re upon him, too.
El Janito: *WILHELM SCREAM*
With the two members of Mega Job that showed up detained and captured, the Enemigos disappear behind the door as quickly as they appeared, leaving the Winds of Change and Simon Tillier looking dazed and confused about what just happened.
Joe laughs nervously.
Joe Fontaine: Wow, uh… I didn’t know there were that many Enemigos.
Sid Phillips: Or that they knew how to handle siege weaponry. Hm. Should probably think twice about powerbombing one of those guys again.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, man. Well, we got a match to prepare for, so I’ll catch you on the flipside, Hijo del SCG. Oh, and Simon? Thanks.
Simon Tillier is too dumbstruck by everything that has happened to properly respond with anything more than a vague grunt. Joe and Sid make their way out of the room, stepping over the remnants of the door on their way out.
Simon shakes his head and looks at the mannequin.
Simon Tillier: I deserve a raise…
He stands and leaves. Only the mannequin remains in the conference room. He stands there. Menacingly.
But for now, we’re off to the ring for our next match between the nefarious Ned Reform and the plucky Alex Steel.
ALEX STEEL vs. NED REFORM
Lights. Pyro. PRIMEates. Signs!
TAL IS JACK LEMMON AND IVAN IS WALTER MATTHAU
“STOP IT, HE’S ALREADY DEAD” – ABSOLUTELY NO ONE WHILE KING BLUEBERRY WAS TAGGING OFF ON PAXTON
OH SO YOU OWN A CHERRY RED KIA SORENTO? I ALSO WAS A VIRGIN ONCE
MIKE MCGEE PARKS ACROSS TWO SPACES
SONNY SILVER IS A ZADDY
DEAR DR. REFORM
WILL THIS BE COVERED BY MY INSURANCE?
BIG BAD VOODOO ZADDY
HOW MANY CHAIR SHOTS DOES IT TAKE TO GET TO THE CENTER OF PAXTON RAY’S SKULL?
ONE, A-TWO, A-THREE. CRONCH A-THREE!
REZIN’S PUPPET SHOW HAD A BETTER ENDING THAN GAME OF THRONES
WOW NOVA IS BUSY AT COLOSSUS DOES HE EVEN KNOW HOW MUCH HE’S GOT TO DO
BREAKING: TROY ANNOUNCES NOVA WILL BE RUNNING CHURCH YARD SALE AND BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB
VICKIE HALL SHOPS AT THE BLOUSE BARN
GET ALL YOUR BAGGAGE NEEDS AT ART’S SAKS EMPORIUM
MIKE MCGEE SHOPS AT RENT-A-CENTER, DEB WARENSTEIN SAID SO
MIKE MCGEE HAS BAD CREDIT
A MALE KAREN IS CALLED A MIKE MCGEE
MIKE MCGEE’S DEGREE IS FROM TRUMP UNIVERSITY
MIKE MCGEE GETS AN ALLOWANCE FROM HIS PARENTS
GIRL PASTOR IS MY FAVORITE SGRNR SONG
NO ONE TELL SID ABOUT THE COCAINE BEAR
PAXTON RAY SMELLS LIKE SEWER CRAWFISH
“Got Each Other” by The Interrupters cues up as Alex steps into the entrance area amid the lights kicking up behind her. She stops to look at the crowd, 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.
The very familiar opening chords of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise” echo throughout the arena as the lights take on a purple hue and the fans begin to jeer in earnest.
The piano transitions into a rock version of the classic – a modern rock version by Cole Rolland – as the man himself, Ned Reform, appears through the curtain. He’s dressed for action: purple and white singlet, white boots, and arrogant smirk. One hand is tucked behind his back as he scans the people, completely no-selling the rude gestures and boos. Behind Reform lurks his muscle, the uber athletic and no-nonsense TA Cole.
Reform begins to walk to the ring, waving and smiling to his “adoring” fans.
He hops onto the ring apron, gives his feet a good wipe or two, and then steps through the ropes and into the ring. He makes his way to the turnbuckle, bracing his hands on the top rope and leaning back to test its integrity. While he’s doing this, he catches sight of the hard cam and gives it a little wink before the music fades out.
Alex Steel darts forward quickly, causing Ned Reform to throw up his hands and backpedal into the safety of the ropes. Jimmy Turnbull steps in before Alex can touch Reform. Turnbull tries to verbally back off Steel, who insists on pleading her case. Their back and forth is cut short when Ned rushes in and blindsides Steel with a forearm, knocking her to the ground!
Nick Stuart: A cheap shot by Ned Reform! I wish that kind of conduct surprised me.
Richard Parker: Oh come on, Nick! You really want to talk about conduct after what Alex Steel’s done?!
Nick Stuart: You mean defend her country’s honor after Ned’s slander?
Richard Parker: Slander?! It’s not slander if it’s true! The Good Doctor would never lie!
Nick Stuart: Oh for crying out loud…
Ned begins stomping away, putting a bit more malice on the strikes than usual. Steel labors to the ropes to stop the onslaught. Jimmy Turnbull tries to back Reform off, but Ned aggressively pushes past him. The Warrior Poet grabs the left arm of the recovering Alex, sending a knee into her shoulder joint!
Steel clutches at her shoulder, but Ned gives her little reprieve. He grabs her by left wrist with his left hand before raining down clubbing blows with the right! Alex gets a foot on the ropes to again force the break. While Ned debates with Jimmy on the referee’s intelligence level, Awesome Alex slips out of the ring and onto the arena floor. Reform picks up on this quickly, slithering out of the ring and behind the convalescing Steel.
Nick Stuart: Ned’s really been targeting that shoulder. I think he’s got some evil intentions in mind here.
Richard Parker: That’s an unfair accusation! Maybe he’s just going to check on her injury. He’s a doctor, after all!
Nick Stuart: There’s a litany of problems with what you just said…
Richard Parker: Name one!
Nick Stuart: Can we just get back to the match, please?!
Ned stalks Steel for a just a moment before he charges forward… plowing Alex shoulder first into the ring post! She bounces off it, clutching her appendage while howling in pain. A malicious grin spreads over the mug of Dr. Ned. With his opponent in a compromised position, Reform takes a moment to pander to the crowd. Unsurprisingly, they shower him in jeers.
Ned grabs Alex and tugs her to her feet by the waistband of her trunks. He callously tosses her back into the ring, clearly relishing the way the bout’s going. Reform methodically climbs into the ring before doing a jaunty little strut and proclaiming his greatness to the fans. More vitriol is harped upon Ned from the PRIMEates. He drags Steel up and towards the corner, roughly shoving her into place.
Reform drapes the left arm of Steel over the top rope, wrenching on in vicious fashion. Turnbull admonishes the Doctor before restoring to a five count. Ned breaks on four, gleefully cackling beforehand. He backs up a few strides, raising a bent arm and slapping his elbow. Reform barrels forward, looking to drive his elbow into the damaged shoulder! At the last second, whether due to the beating she’s endured or ring savvy, Alex drops and Ned crashes into the turnbuckles!
Nick Stuart: A miscalculation by Reform! This could be the opening Alex Steel needs!
Richard Parker: She better take advantage! You’re not going to get many mistakes out of a man with Dr. Reform’s intelligence!
Alex struggles to her feet, her left arm hanging limp. She smacks it three times with little improvement. She shakes her head in disgust, but lets out a loud war cry, dashing towards the corner. Steel plows into Ned’s midsection with a spear using her right shoulder! Reform stumbles out of the corner, clutching at his waist. Alex hits the ropes, planting the Sage of the Stage downward with a facebuster! She does her best to get him rolled over, hooking the far leg with her good right arm!
Steel slaps the mat in frustration. She grabs Reform by the beard to tug him to his feet! However, as they rise, Ned deftly grabs the left arm and drops to his butt, driving it across his shoulder! He staggers to his feet while Jimmy checks on Alex, whose doubled over in pain. Ned politely taps the referee on the shoulder. After gaining Turnbull’s attention, Ned complains of a loose turnbuckle in the corner he was speared into. Jimmy reluctantly goes to check the pads.
With the ref distracted and Alex still reeling, Ned slips out of the ring and hastily grabs a chair from underneath. Reform scrambles back inside and drives the chair pointedly into the injured shoulder of Steel! He then chucks the chair haphazardly up the ramp just moments before the referee turns around. The Good Doctor yanks the waylaid Aussie to her feet and quickly clamps on the Ad Hominem! Ned savagely jerks the smaller Steel back and forth in the tortuous hold! Alex hangs on momentarily… But can’t break free, tapping to give Ned the win!
DING DING DING
COMMERCIAL: JAY PHOENIX
Into the ring, where a panting Ned Reform stands, leaning against the ropes for support. Although he appears to still be feeling the effects of his match, he does wear a grin from ear to ear and he closes his eyes and laughs at the negative response from the fans.
The interesting part, though? During the commercial break, the PRIME ring was completely re-done: there is a beige carpet down covering the canvas, in the center is a dark gray couch with tan pillows, in one of the corners is a tall, black bookshelf filled with various books, and next to the couch is a tall black stool. Reform walks over, adjusts the stool, and takes a seat on it – still wearing his punchable grin. Reform holds his hands out for a mic. When it takes too long to get to him, he snaps impatiently (although we can’t hear what he says) – and eventually a stagehand does give him one.
Ned Reform: …children.
Reform’s smile grows even wider.
Ned Reform: Even you, my dear charlatans and miscreants, cannot deprive me of my sense of elation. I told you all that Dr. Ned Reform was going to put on a clinic in this ring, and so I have. Perhaps all of you…
Reform points toward the entrance.
Ned Reform: …and more importantly, all of you… will pay closer attention to my words of warning in the future, yes? But… enough of that!
Reform turns to look into the hard cam.
Ned Reform: The fisticuffs are finished with, children. We now turn our attention to more noble pursuits: namely, the pursuit of truth. Tonight, we peel back the facade of corruption and stupidity that permeates this company. Tonight, we will really interrogate the nuances of this industry we all have spent so much time with. We will debrief our many deeply conflicted and contradicting emotions around this strange sport. And most of all, we will learn. We will grow. Because children… welcome.
Big smile. His free arm goes wide.
Ned Reform: …to Office Hours… with Dr. Ned Reform!
The screen fills with a snazzy slightly early 90s looking graphic:
OFFICE HOURS W/DR NED REFORM
The graphic fades and we’re back in the ring. In the corner of the screen is a small signature that reads “Office Hours.” The crowd is booing the shit out of his ridiculous display, but if Ned can hear them… he ain’t selling it.
Ned Reform: Ladies and gentlemen, I vow this to you: Office Hours will not be another (air quotes) “wrestling interview show.” On this program, I plan to lend my valuable and stories expertise to those who need it most. I will not simply welcome (air quotes) “guests” onto this show. I will invite people who NEED me to guide them to a better way. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll learn a thing or two about life… and in the end, we will ALL be better for it.
The fans aren’t loving this, naturally.
Ned Reform: So. No more adieu, children. In this, my first edition of Office Hours here in PRIME, I invite my first subjects onto the show. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm “Office Hours” welcome to… The Dangerous Mix!
Reform dramatically gestures to the entrance.
The familiar crunch of Hideyuki Takahashi’s “Run Rabbit Junk” fills the MGM Grand, bringing out the Dangerous Mix of David Fox and the Kaiju, Mushigihara. The big man is dressed rather sharply in a black suit, while Fox opts for the more casual look of blue jeans and a green shirt with a certain gold trim about the shoulders, and the pair is all business. They stroll into the ring, opting to keep standing in lieu of taking a seat.
Ned Reform: No seat? Well, then.
Fox simply just shakes his head and makes a gesture with his hand requesting the mic.
Ned Reform: I don’t know why I should offer the proverbial podium to such an uncouth pair of ruffians like you, but I’m curious, so… yes. I will entertain your request.
The Professor hands the microphone to David Fox in a rather pretentious way, which makes the Soul Survivor look at him inquisitively, but he moves on.
David Fox: Thanks, doc… me and the big man are out here because we have… a score to settle. Two scores, in fact. For some time we’ve been dealing with some thorns in our sides; the eGG Bandits, and the Masters of the Multiverse…
The microphone picks up Fox’s scoffing, before he continues his spiel.
David Fox: …B-Team.
The mention of both those teams elicits a rousing round of jeers.
David Fox: Yeah, yeah, I know… but as we all know, ‘tis the season of giving, and in the great holiday tradition, I’m comin’ out here because Santa Fox wants to give all four of those jokesters a chance to step onto one of the grandest stages in sports, Madison Square BY GOD Garden, to settle this little tiff once and for all, and for ALL of us to walk into 2023 with a blank slate!
David chuckles to himself as he hands the mic to Mushi, who goes right to the point with no fanfare or panache.
Mushigihara: eGG Bandits. B-Team. WE WANT YOU AT COLOSSUS!
The crowd gives a respectable pop, as Mushi looks around the MGM Grand and follows up.
Mushigihara: So come on out if you dare, and accept the challenge!
The Kaiju walks up to Ned Reform, and hands him the mic in a courteous manner while staring at him with distrust.
Ned Reform: Well, boys, you so happen to be in luck tonight, because… up next we have a duo known for, well, handling the fledgling need for quality assurance of the food and drink that comes into PRIME. They are your Commissioner of Food and Drink, so please, heed their advice as we welcome to Office Hours, the Masters of the Multiverse…(checks notes) B-Team!
“Let Me Entertain You” plays throughout the Grand, much to the chagrin of the audience who begin booing the Masters of the Multiverse…B-Team, who hand out brochures about “THE DANGERS OF BEATING EGGS INTO A MIX” to people in the front row on their way to the ring, before Randall Schwartz holds the ropes open for Kenny to enter through, the pair looking smug as ever as they take their seats.
Ned Reform: Gentlemen, welcome…I see you’ve endeared yourselves to this audience already, good for you.
Kenny motions for a mic to be brought to him as well, already depleting the much-maligned microphone budget as Kenny opens his mouth to speak…only to be interrupted by the crowd booing, as if refusing to listen to him. He rests his hands on his waist, shaking his head at the crowd to quiet down before raising the mic to speak.
Kenny Freeman: Thank you, Ned.
This draws an immediate glare from Reform, forcing Kenny to backtrack verbally.
Kenny Freeman: Sorry…thank you, Dr. Reform.
A nod from Reform signifies the salutation is acceptable, allowing Kenny to proceed.
Kenny Freeman: Now, I want to say that we hear the request of Misters Fox and, uh, Gihara, and would like to say…
Kenny is interrupted as Randall takes the mic from his hand, chiming in.
Randall Schwartz: We already beat you, fellas.
This gets more than a bit of jeers from the crowd…which seems to force Randall to backtrack just a little himself.
Randall Schwartz: On the other hand, I’ll be the first to admit that our encounter back at Great American Nightmare, and the fact that ended in a draw, still sticks in my damn craw. Draws are for international football games, not for professional wrestling.
Kenny takes the mic back from Randall, still annoyed at the interruption before he speaks up again.
Kenny Freeman: Besides, you make an interesting proposal. We’re fully aware of the accomplishments of the E-G-G Bandits…
Randall leans over, whispering in Kenny’s ear. Freeman looks confused, even surprised as he continues.
Kenny Freeman: Oh, it is Egg Bandits. Gotcha. Anyway, with the way things went down the other week when I faced Bobby Dean, it got me to thinking…sure, why not square off with the Mix one more time, and throw the world-renowned Bandits into the fray? And, as Randall alluded to, the triple threat tag you’re proposing means one winner, no DQs or count-outs to get in the way of someone picking up that crucial victory to finish out the year. So hey, why the hell not? Count us in, but when it’s the B-Team getting their hands raised in New York City, remember that you asked for this.
This last remark, naturally, doesn’t go well with the crowd at all as Reform raises his mic to chime in.
Ned Reform: Now now, let’s not get too hasty here gents…it’s bad for the blood pressure. Now, since we’ve brought them up already, it’s time now to bring to Office Hours the one, the only…the Egg Bandits!
“Banditstruck” plays, as the Bandits themselves make their way out to the stage to a chorus of boos from the crowd…but the Bandts stay right there, a microphone in the hand of Bobby Dean who raises it to speak.
Bobby Dean: Well now, isn’t this lovely? You’ve got the good Doctor here, offering advice…well let me tell you something, Doc…I know what this is, and neither myself nor Doo–
Bobby is interrupted by Mayhew leaning over, muttering something in the ear of the Beautiful One, who speaks up once more.
Bobby Dean: Neither myself nor Fred Mayweather here are going to fall for this trap. I do not need an intervention, no thank you! So, Fred and I are gonna head back and get ready for our match later.
And just like that, the Bandits have left the building…well, not really, but they make their way to the back much to the chagrin of Reform, leaving a smirking B-Team beside a visibly annoyed Dangerous Mix as the Doctor responds sarcastically to the situation…even rolling his eyes.
Ned Reform: A productive session here tonight!
Meanwhile, David Fox rolls his eyes and dismissively makes his way out of the ring, and Mushigihara follows with a shrug, but it’s Kenny who chimes in once more to break the silence.
Kenny Freeman: Well, Doc, it’s been nice sitting in on all this, but my buddy Randall has a question he’s been itching to ask you since we got the invite.
Randall Schwartz: Yeah, why does it burn when I go p–
Ned Reform: Right, that’s quite enough! It seems to me we have three tag teams with some attitude issues that need sorting out…and it seems the only way they’ll be able to settle it is in the ring at Colossus. Now, folks, I need to make this very clear…outside of professional wrestling, violence is never the solution to your problems. Medication might be. Make sure you speak to your doctor if you’re in need of a prescription…but for now, we say farewell here on Office Hours. Thank you to my guests, the Dangerous Mix and B-Team especially, for giving me a chance to offer the proper advice they need, and to you the viewer for watching!
Kenny and David both glare at the Doctor, fully aware that no such advice was given throughout this timeslot.
Kenny Freeman: Hey, wait a min–
Suddenly, the jazz music from earlier fires up and out of nowhere comes a fast talking narrator.
Narrator (talking very quickly):
This has been Office Hours w/Dr. Ned Reform. This program was not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any current or future illness. Consult your local physician with any concerns. Office Hours and Dr. Ned Reform are registered trademarks. If you or a loved one are suffering and are interested in making a future appearance on Office Hours, please call the number below. Local rates apply – children, ask your parents permission before dialing.
On the bottom of the screen, the following number appears in white font: (203) 684-5885.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST REVIVAL
The camera cuts to backstage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where the Intense Champion, The Anglo Luchador, sits on a steamer chest in his gear already despite his match not taking place until much later in the show. His title belt is strapped around his waist as he’s hunched over, almost like he’s awaiting the inevitable. As if by cue, the inevitable shows up, flanked by Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore.
Tony Gamble: So Luch, I found out who’s responsible for that attack on you last week. I bet you’re itching to find out who it was.
The old luchador slowly turns his head up towards the Permascar Superstar with incredulity filling his eyes.
TAL: I already know.
Tony Gamble: That so? Well, I wouldn’t want the goodest good guy on the PRIME roster to start throwing around slanderous accusations, so why don’t you tell me who you think it is and I’ll let you know if you’re wrong or right. Wouldn’t want you to make one of those kiddies in the nosebleeds get all sad.
The luchador stands up to greet the one-on-three numbers disadvantage he has staring him down head on.
Tony Gamble: Oh lookie here boys, he’s big and tough now. What, did someone backstage finally listen to your sob story about wanting to make a difference? What a joke.
Gamble steps to the luchador, a sneer on his face as he lifts his head to look up at one of his opponents for the night.
Tony Gamble: But joke or not, I’m a man of my word. You wanna know who it was who was responsible for the attack on you two weeks ago?
TAL: You and those two goons?
The Hall of Famer laughs to himself before doing the ol’ Joe Pesci.
Tony Gamble: Nah, you got it wrong… It was you. You’re responsible for that beat down.
Cruz and Pastore both take a menacing step forward while the Intense Champion sighs and rolls his eyes.
Tony Gamble: It’s your fault you got got at 19 because you have that…
Gamble points to the Intense Championship.
Tony Gamble: …like that title means you actually represent this place. Runnin’ your mouth on Jabber like some moody teenager. Crying and begging to have people like you instead of beating the respect outta them. News flash, no one, except for maybe Timo, really likes you.
The luchador looks at Gamble stone-faced.
Tony Gamble: So that’s why my boys here took a chunk out of your ass, and that’s why we’re gonna do it again. This time though, we’re fine leave the cameras running, so the whole world can see.
Cruz and Pastore spring into action but are thwarted by hands reaching from just off-screen. The camera swings over quickly to reveal the luchador’s brother, Mikey, swinging Pastore around and clubbing him with several haymakers to the face, and Pom Shinjoku, the luchador’s friend and former tag partner, dropping Cruz to the hard floor with a snap DDT. With the GAS thugs laying, the two advance on Gamble, who in his haste to get into a fighting stance, bumps back-first into his opponent for the evening and for Colossus.
TAL: Now you listen here, Wingtips. As the goodest good guy in PRIME, I don’t take too kindly to victim-blaming, which shockingly enough might be the most venial of your sins since getting back here.
The three close in on Gamble as The Grin shrinks ever so slightly from claustrophobia.
TAL: But I’m going to be the bigger man figuratively here and not just physically. You go back to your locker room. You think long and hard about what you’ve done since stepping foot back in this fed. And then you and Mort say your prayers to whatever god you believe in that Ivan is a little more merciful towards you two than I’m going to be, because if he’s as pissed off as I am, you are dead fuckin’ meat.
The luchador pats Gamble on his chest with both hands.
TAL: Now run along before I change my mind.
Mikey and Pom part like the Red Sea, and Tony scampers over to where Cruz and Pastore are. The luchador jerks his head in the other direction, and his coterie walks off opposite, leaving the Gamble Adoration Syndicate laying on the floor holding their heads and faces.
JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT, THEY PULL ME BACK IN
In the office of PRIME’s President and CEO, Nova and Sonny Silver sit in high-backed chairs across the desk from the “Queen of the Ring” Lindsay Troy.
Troy runs a hand through her unmistakable mop of curls as she carefully examines a document, shaking her head.
Lindsay Troy: I mean…
Her brown eyes dart up to Silver.
Lindsay Troy: …do you have any idea how much it costs to destroy an entire elevator shaft at a five-star resort?
Sonny Silver: Trick question. You know I don’t think before I act.
Lindsay Troy: Good. Glad I didn’t waste my time by itemizing this invoice.
She slides paperwork across the table to Silver, who snatches it up and begins reviewing.
Sonny Silver: (eyes widening) Goddamn.
Lindsay Troy: Yeah. Yeah, bud.
The Former Chairman of PRIME shakes out of his momentary financial fog and looks over to the Risen Star with a wink, slapping Nova’s thigh.
Sonny Silver: What can I say, if it sharpened the knives at all for our boy here, I think we can all agree, money well-spent, amirite?
Troy’s face transitions from crimson to violet.
Lindsay Troy: Sonny, this isn’t DEFIANCE…Butch Vic can’t pick up the tab here.
Sonny Silver: Why the hell not?
Lindsay rolls her eyes.
Lindsay Troy: If you think for a minute our insurance carrier is covering a fuc-
Nova interrupts by raising his finger and staring cautiously between his friends.
Nova: Also, I could’ve been seriously injured or killed.
After a moment of awkward silence, Nova shrugs and lights a cigarette. Troy immediately takes it from him and snuffs it out against the side of her desk, laying the butt next to her trash can.
Lindsay Troy: Look, I brought you both here because we need to talk about the match at Colossus.
Sonny Silver: What’s there to talk about? Professor Emeritus of the Yester-Club here needs to start putting some shine on our name or he gets booted out of the club courtesy of yours truly.
Silver folds his arms over his chest.
Sonny Silver: ‘Nuff said.
Nova: It does feel like I should’ve bargained for something if I win…I dunno, like a really nice couch or something.
He lights another cigarette.
Nova: Just feels like a lost opportunity.
Troy immediately takes the cigarette from him, snuffs it out against the side of her desk, and lays the butt next to her trash can.
Lindsay Troy: Well…one of you gets a new lease on life and one of you needs a new game plan. Nova’s not getting kicked out of the Hall of Fame, no matter what.
Silver throws his arms up in frustration.
Sonny Silver: What?!
Lindsay Troy: It doesn’t work that way and you know it, Fuckhead. And you know we’d all take the same position if it were your spot on the line. You don’t do what it takes to be recognized as a pillar of this place and then litigate the value of that over a three-count. Get real.
Nova lights another cigarette and smirks at Silver.
Nova: (taking a drag) Yeah, get real, Sonny.
Troy immediately takes the cigarette from him, snuffs it out against the side of her desk, and lays the butt next to her trash can.
Lindsay Troy: That being said, you both ought’a have some skin in the game for this – it being the return of our own flagship event and all – so yes, there are going to be stakes.
The Queen turns to Nova.
Lindsay Troy: Caes…you know I love you, and I’m happy for your newfound freedom, but I also slept a little better at night knowing someone had eyes on you. Wade isn’t an option anymore, so if you win the match at Colossus, Sonny will be your personal assistant through the travel schedule leading up to Culture Shock.
Nova thrusts a fist in the air, pausing a-la-Judd Nelson from the Breakfast Club, and Silver throws his hands up in dismay.
Troy turns to Silver, motioning for Nova to temper his odd celebratory gesture.
Lindsay Troy: Sonny, your wrestling academy means everything to you. I know that, and I’m proud of you for it. I sent my son to train under you, after all. And this guy…
She cranes her neck towards Nova, who shrugs in confusion and lights another cigarette.
Lindsay Troy: …he may have been away from the mechanics of the game for a minute.
She takes the cigarette from Nova, snuffs it out against the side of her desk, and lays the butt next to her trash can.
Lindsay Troy: So if you win (pointing to Silver), Nova has to apply to your wrestling academy and successfully complete it before we get to Culture Shock.
The Former Chairman of PRIME leans back in his chair, nodding with satisfaction and stroking his beard. Nova gawks at Troy in a panic.
Nova: I hate school! Is it too late to go back to jail?!
Lindsay Troy: You’ll figure it out.
She turns away to grab her phone.
Lindsay Troy: You can both go now.
Nova and Sonny look at each other as the scene fades to black before transition.
THE IMMACULATE McCEPTION
As ReVival 20 rolls on, a familiar, yet narrowly tolerated member of the roster finds an envelope with his name written on the outside taped to the locker room door. Mr. Middle Management, Mike McGee himself, looks both ways twice before reaching up to take it off the door.
He pulls out a custom gilded sterling silver letter opener with the McGee family crest on it from his singlet (don’t ask from where, you don’t want to know) and slices the envelope open with great care. “Ripping open envelopes is for Philistines,” his father Richard McGee would have said. Mike reads the words on the card aloud for nobody to hear, because of course he talks while he reads.
Mike McGee: Mike, I know we have had our differences, but in the spirit of the holidays, I thought maybe I could extend an olive branch and get you an appropriate present. It is waiting for you in the parking lot – Eddie Cross.
Mike flips the card over in his hand and shrugs his shoulders.
Mike McGee: Well, what a nice gesture. After all, nothing bad has ever happened in a parking lot during one of these wrestling shows.
As Mike makes his way out to the parking lot, he smiles as he spies the love of his life, his alluringly crimson cherry red Kia Sorrento. He spies something on the hood and walks briskly to the SUV. What he sees is a middle aged man and woman who are very familiar to him in the throes of rapturous coitus.
Mike McGee: Wait… that… that image… Those are my incredible parents Richard and Emily McGee of Maplewood, New Jersey, making passionate love as they are wont to do… but this metallic canvas is…
Mike’s face drops precipitously. Tears well in his eyes as he realizes this is not, in fact, a generous holiday gift.
Mike McGee: On… no… my… my… my KIAAAAAAAA! NOOO! NOOOOOO! NOT MYYYY KIIIIAAAAAA! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! MY BEAUTIFUL CHERRRRRY RED KIIIAAAAA SOREENNTOOOOO!
McGee, already in his singlet with his protective amateur-style ear gear, collapses to his knees and puts his hands over his head, his eyes bulging as he starts to openly weep. The hood of his Kia Sorento is blurred to the viewing audience with just the faces of Richard and Emily McGee showing. Richard appears to be amid his vinegar strokes.
Mike McGee: WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME YOU NON-JUDGMENTAL EPISCOPALIAN GODDDDD?! NOOOOOO! I EVEN LISTENED TO THE GIRL PASTOR AND MY WONDERFUL PARENTS MADE DONATIONS THAT THEY COULD WRITE OFF THEIR TAXES!!!
McGee collapses fully on the asphalt parking lot, pounding his fists and feet as he lays face down, weeping and trembling frantically.
Much to his dismay, the situation only gets worse, as the low rumble of an engine and the snap-hiss of brake lines herald the arrival of a large charter bus. It lurches to a stop near the Sorento, and McGee turns blanche as the door folds open, and bounding out into the parking lot is none other than Rezin.
Rezin: HAHAHAHA, I MADE it!
The Escape Artist glances reproachfully into the black sky above him, no doubt locking eyes with the government-controlled satellite following his every move.
Rezin: Take THAT, Uncle Sam! Thought ya could CLIPS MY WINGS and put me on the NO FLY LIST… but YET AGAIN, this ol’ Dopesmoker has ESCAPED YOUR GRASP!!
Following him out of the bus is a long and slow-moving line of old women, oohing and aahing at the grandiosity and splendor of Sin City.
Old Woman: Excuse me, Mr. Driver… are we at the TAAHJ MaHAAL??
The Goat Bastard shakes his head.
Rezin: Nah, Irma, ‘fraid not! After your old driver’s terrible mishap in that gas station men’s room where he slipped and got his head inexplicably stuck in the toilet, so we took a left turn at Albuquerque for a quick lil DETOUR!
Old Woman: WHAAHT??
Rezin: Look, we ALL benefit from this situation, KAY?? All ya gotta worry about is that the SLOT MACHINES are o’er THATTAWAY!
With an excited rustle, the gaggle of grannies herd themselves on toward the casino. Rezin’s eyes, already maniacal by nature, now fill with rabid purpose as he eyes the entrance to the arena.
Rezin: In the meantime, I gots BUSINESS with a certain…
He trails off when he notices the Sorento’s hood, and more accurately the artwork evocative of Melvin’s stash of 70’s Hustlers Rezin may or may not have stolen.
Rezin: Ooh… some exquisite shading in those pubes, my dude! Is that chiaroscuro?
McGee looks up to see The Goat Bastard eyeballing this abomination and Mike then jumps on the hood of the Kia Sorento, rolling around on it attempting to shield the harm done to his beloved Kia Sorento. Rezin looks both ways with his eyeballs before stepping away and heading for the building, leaving Mike McGee rolling on the hood of his Kia in agony.
Mike McGee: (wailing) My cherry red Kia Sorrento is more than just a car with sleek, smooth, and dare I say sexy Korean designs. My Kia Sorrento is a totem. It is a manifestation of all I have accomplished in this life — a stellar amateur wrestling career combined with my providing Human Resources Excellence to America’s finest clothing retail chains. And it has been sullied…
Mike stands up and peers once more at the hood of his beloved SUV. It is still blurred out to the viewing audience, sans the faces of Richard and Emily McGee which are both howling with sweet passion. He wipes the tears from his eyes and gathers himself.
Mike McGee: IT SHALL NEVER BE SULLIED AGAIN!
He remembers he still has to go have a match with Eddie next. The look of disdain and self hatred that adorns every retail middle manager in the country creeps over his face.
Mike McGee: You’re going to pay for this! And I don’t just mean an increase to your car insurance premium! I can see now not even a write up is sufficient punishment. Oh no… EDDIE CROSS, YOU ARE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS IN BLOOD!
Mike stomps off toward the ring as the fans get ready for him to take on Eddie Cross next on ReVival 20!
EDDIE CROSS vs. MIKE MCGEE
Nick Stuart: Well that was…something.
Richard Parker: I always forget what rating this show is, but whatever it is, I think we overshot it by a mile just now.
Nick Stuart: And now, just minutes after Mike McGee found out his precious car was defiled, he gets to face off against Eddie Cross.
Richard Parker: McGee might be unhinged after that. He talks about that car like people talk about their kids.
Match Start in 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…
– Eliminate Other Players –
ISIS (ADHD) by Joyner Lucas ft Logic begins, and the arena lights focus on the entry.
One time for them prayin’ on my downfall (Yeah)
Two times for the homies in the chow hall (Whoa)
Three times for them hoes on the internet
Shittin’ on me when they really should get out more
Four times for the days I would hold back (Woo!)
Five times for the bitches who ain’t called back (Yeah)
Six times for the kids like me who got ADHD just to (Brap, brap, brap)
As Joyner Lucas rhymes Eddie “N1ghtCraw1er” Cross steps out of the back followed shortly by Dave Gibson. He adjusts his custom gaming glasses before walking down the ramp focused on the ring. He pauses at the ring steps, taking off his backpack, unzipping the main compartment, and placing it in the corner of the ring. He waits for the transition between Joyner and Logic’s verse before psyching himself up. Vince Howard is waiting.
Vince Howard: From Detroit, Michigan by way of Orlando, Florida, standing six feet four inches and weighing in at 225 lbs, EDDIE “N1GHTCRAW1ER” CROSS!!!
Eddie tosses his glasses to Dave, runs up the ring steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and enters the ring as Logic spits his hook.
Me and Joyner need a couple hearses (Woo!)
Double homicide, kill the beat and the verses
Everybody livin’ on the surface
But we came from the underground, yeah, we deserve it
Eddie rolls his neck and watches the ramp, smiling.
Nick Stuart: He certainly looks proud of himself.
“Bright Future in Sales” by Fountains of Wayne plays and the PRIMEView shows a lot of different spreadsheets with formulas and TPS forms. McGee walks to the ring in a “business casual” singlet – double hooked and made to look like a collared shirt and slacks. But as he walks towards the ring, he undoes the straps on his singlet, shouting at Cross as he does so.
Richard Parker: Uh oh.
Without warning, McGee slides under the ropes and grabs Cross’s legs, taking him down and starting to bang his head against the mat. Ashley Barlow calls for the bell as she gets down on her knees to try and stop the attack.
Nick Stuart: Here we go! McGee is angry just like we predicted, and Ashley is going to have a hell of a time controlling this match!
She certainly is. She is yelling at McGee, trying to pry him off of Cross, but he keeps screaming and shoving her away before sending more punches to the face of Cross. Shouts of “HOW DARE YOU!” and “MY PRECIOUS CHERRY RED KIA SORRENTO” ring out loud enough for casino patrons to hear. Finally, he stands up and starts yelling at Barlow, which is sure to get the fans to boo him. No one is mean to Ashley.
Richard Parker: Mess with the Kia, you get the horns, like I always say.
Nick Stuart: You…always say that?
Richard Parker: Of course I do! Like when you cut me off in my Kia, I’m going to honk my horn REALLY loud.
Nick Stuart: I see.
Richard Parker: Just kidding! I don’t drive a Kia, I’m not lower middle class.
McGee tires of abusing the poor referee (Girl Ref, as he’d call her) and turns around to continue the assault on Cross. The only problem is Cross is already up and he’s ready for it.
Nick Stuart: Drop toe hold from Cross! And now it’s time for the young man to take over!
Richard Parker: He already took over. He took over McGee’s car. And painted two people having sex on it.
Cross is quick to move over to McGee’s body and work on his joints, pulling his arm and wrenching on it. McGee swipes angrily but can’t break the hold.
Richard Parker: Mike McGee is an accomplished amateur wrestler and normally getting into a war on the mat with him may be foolish, but Cross has the advantage here because McGee is clearly too angry to focus on the fundamentals. It may be his undoing here.
Nick Stuart: That was an astute observation, Richard. Cross continuing to wrench that arm behind McGee’s back, now transitioning into a headlock, but McGee twists out and tries to get to his feet, Cross quick to trip him up again and now he has the headlock in!
McGee screams, flailing his arms. Cross continues to wrench in, looking at Dave Gibson on the outside, who continues to encourage his protege. After a few moments of struggle, McGee is able to roll over, putting Cross’s shoulders onto the mat. Barlow drops for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Kickout from Cross, but that was quick thinking by McGee.
Richard Parker: Maybe he’s finally composed, he’ll need to be if he wants to win this match.
As both men get to their feet, they realize this is the first time since the match began that both are completely ready for each other. They begin to circle each other, each jawing at the other.
Nick Stuart: Neither man has been in the company long, but it hasn’t taken long at all for these men to truly detest one another. It started in the match last ReVival, where Cross and McGee faced off in a triple threat match with Larry Tact, and Cross was able to pick up the win. But it escalated right after that match and then over the last two weeks on the company Jabber platform.
Richard Parker: I don’t understand why anyone is on that platform. It just seems to be a place where the assholes shout a lot and the whiny baby good guys cry about it.
Nick Stuart: Honestly that kind of seems up your alley.
Richard Parker: You’re right, I’m signing up for an account as we speak.
The two men tie up – or they’re about to, before Cross evades McGee’s arms and hits a forearm strike to McGee’s midsection. McGee bends over and Cross launches a kick into his face, sending him backward. McGee stays on his feet, but not for long as Cross ends his assault with a spinning elbow to the jaw.
Nick Stuart: OHKO! And Cross goes for the cover!
Nick Stuart: McGee with the kickout.
Eddie lifts McGee to his feet while politely letting Ashley Barlow know he didn’t appreciate the speed of her counting. Barlow jaws back, which leaves Cross distracted as McGee grabs Cross and sends him over for a belly-to-belly suplex. McGee lets out a loud yell as he starts pointing as members of the audience, getting a chorus of boos.
Nick Stuart: McGee showing an intense side we haven’t seen yet from him.
Richard Parker: Yeah.
Nick Stuart: You here with me, bud?
Richard Parker: Sorry, trying to think of something good for my first jabber message.
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
McGee lifts Cross up and sends him into the turnbuckle, then fires off a series of chops to his chest. Before Cross can react, McGee grabs his head and slams it into the opposite turnbuckle. Cross rests there for a moment, trying to wipe at his face, but McGee gives him no time as he grabs him from behind.
Nick Stuart: German suplex! And McGee holds firm!
Richard Parker: “Hey Jabberinos!” No, that’s weird.
Nick Stuart: And another German! Still not letting go…
Richard Parker: “Dick is in the Thick…of things!” Eh, that’s better but not punchy enough.
Nick Stuart: And a third German suplex! Eddie Cross looks out of it! And here comes McGee trying to finish him!
Cross kicks out, which surprisingly gets a small cheer. Neither of these men are fan favorites, but the crowd has clearly aligned themselves against Mr. Middle Management.
Nick Stuart: Earlier on McGee’s anger was a detriment, but now it seems he’s found his footing and that may spell trouble for Eddie Cross.
Richard Parker: “Hey Dicks! It’s me!”
Nick Stuart: Richard, just make sure you don’t say anything out of line in there.
Richard Parker: Of course I won’t, Nick. Who do you think I am, Eugene Ware?
Nick Stuart: Do not invoke his name in this city.
McGee lifts Cross up and lifts Cross up, then drops his legs onto the ropes, causing him to slingshot back into the suplex. McGee attempts another pinfall, but Cross quickly raises his feet onto the ropes before Ashley Barlow can put her hand down once.
Nick Stuart: Savvy move from Cross, and you have to think that’s from the tutelage of Dave Gibson, who’s slapping the apron and giving his protege some advice here.
Richard Parker: Dave Gibson, formerly a play-by-play commentator at SCCW. Do you remember who his partner was?
Nick Stuart: Don’t.
McGee continues his assault on Cross, rolling him into the middle of the ring, then grabbing Cross’s legs. He then rolls him over and locks in the Texas Cloverleaf, causing Cross to scream.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh, Cross is in a lot of trouble now!
Richard Parker: Uh huh.
Nick Stuart: Will you put your phone away? This match is heating up!
Richard Parker: Probably a good idea, lot of insufferable pricks in that chatroom. McGee’s got him right in the center of the ring, and look at Dave Gibson! Not jumping up to interfere, just calmly instructing from the side!
Indeed, Gibson is just nodding, telling Cross to fight, miming crawling hands. Cross begins to obey his mentor, using his body to pull McGee backward as he reaches for the ropes. He pushes up on his arms so he can wheelbarrow, all the while screaming in pain.
Nick Stuart: What impressive guts and strength from Cross! He’s almost at the ropes now…and McGee pulls him back! Cross is back where he started!
Richard Parker: Not exactly, partner! Cross is twisting…now he pushes McGee back with his feet!
McGee flops onto the canvas, and Cross is quick to pop up. When McGee rushes towards him, Cross grabs him and levels him with a spinebuster. Before McGee can react, Cross rolls him over.
Nick Stuart: Cross grabs McGee, and it looks like he’s looking to end it now! He steps into the surfboard, leans back…this is it! He calls this GG, and it’s locked in on McGee!
Richard Parker: McGee has nowhere to go…he’s tapping! It’s over!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner…EDDIIIIEEEEEEE CROOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSSSS!
Nick Stuart: Well it was a back and forth affair, but Cross picks up his second win, and you have to think – watch out!
Nick was speaking to Eddie Cross, who understandably didn’t hear him. However, because of that he didn’t see Mike McGee come from behind to clothesline him. Cross falls and McGee begins to stomp on him as the bell rings again and the crowd boos.
Richard Parker: Now he’s double angry!
Nick Stuart: What a poor sport! Mike McGee attacking the man who beat him clean in the middle of the ring!
Richard Parker: He also defiled the man’s car, so he kind of has it coming.
McGee continues his assault on Cross, then lifts him up and drapes him on the ropes. He then runs to the other side of the ring and rolls onto Cross’s back, then comes back and hits a big suplex.
Nick Stuart: Open Enrollment! He hit his big suplex on Cross, and here comes security!
Security rushes down to separate the two men, but McGee is already leaving the ring. He snarls at Cross as he makes his way back up the ramp.
Nick Stuart: Well Eddie Cross won this match, but Mike McGee had the last laugh as he attacked the victor from behind!
Richard Parker: I’m sure this isn’t Game Over for Cross and McGee’s dislike of each other.
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: What do you want from me? He’s a gamer and I haven’t played a game since Dig Dug.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
QUID PRO QUO
ReVival comes back from commercial to the sound of…whistling?
Whistling…and an image of a portly man on crutches, with a neck brace, in an ill-fitting suit with a bad comb-over.
Melvin Beauregard, PWA Liaison and all-around shitty little toad, crutches down the hallway with a song in his heart and bad intentions in his mind. If he hears the PRIMEates’ reaction out in the arena proper, he pays it no attention.
It’s not long before Melvin stops to rap his hairy, unmoisturized knuckles annoyingly on an office door. He doesn’t bother waiting for an answer or an invitation…he just makes his way in.
Melvin Beauregard: Hello, hello! How’s my favorite PWA owner doing?
Lindsay Troy looks up from her phone with a frigid glare and makes no move to greet Melvin.
Melvin Beauregard: Ouch. Not in the best of moods, I see.
Lindsay Troy: I have no idea what could possibly give you that impression.
Melvin Beauregard: Now, is that any way to treat your colleague? Especially on a night like tonight? Closing out the Grand Garden Arena before heading out on the road…it’s the talk of the industry!
Lindsay Troy: Uh huh. Cut to the chase, Melvin.
Melvin crutches toward Lindsay’s desk and stands in front of a chair, ignoring the comfy fabric.
Melvin Beauregard: I know you know why I’m here. I was assaulted by one of your employees and I have the footage to prove it. You also walked out on a very important, very lucrative meeting between all of the PWA owners, and that simply will not do.
Melvin steeples his fingers and smiles, disingenuously.
Melvin Beauregard: But…I am a businessman, and as a businessman I recognize the power of negotiations. So, I’m willing to make you a deal, because I like you, Ms. Troy. You agree to have PRIME be a part of PWA1 on January 14th, and I’ll let the cowboy go free. When the police ask me to remember the evening, I’ll tell them I was mistaken, that I did just fall over after having a chat with my closest friend Wade.
Melvin drops the crutches to the ground, and does a little twirl. The cheshire cat isn’t capable of a grin like Melvin Beauregard’s right now. He withdraws a large manilla folder with the PWA logo from his murse and slides it across the table to LT.
Melvin Beauregard: All you have to do is sign your name on the dotted line.
The Lady of the Hour looks at Melvin, then looks at the folder. She taps an index finger on the cover, considering her options.
Lindsay Troy: Y’know…if you were really going to do anything to Wade like you said in your email, you would’ve brought the police with you and they’d have him in cuffs right now.
Lindsay Troy: But you didn’t.
Melvin grins back, pulling his cellphone out of his pocket.
Melvin Beauregard: I did bring my phone, dear.
Lindsay Troy: Mmhmm. I’ll tell you what, Mel…
She reaches into her briefcase and produces a PRIME blue folder of her own and slaps it down on the table.
Lindsay Troy: You sign mine and I’ll sign yours. Call it a little quid pro quo.
Melvin picks the folder up and smiles. He looks through the paperwork – a Non-Disclosure Agreement – quickly and smiles. He places a black and red PWA pen on the desk for Lindsay Troy, and brandishes his own out of his shirt pocket.
Melvin Beauregard: Done.
The Queen flicks the pen away and takes a blue and black PRIME pen from the front drawer.
Lindsay Troy: After you.
Melvin Beauregard: Guess we’re going to have to go at the same time.
Lindsay Troy: Guess this’ll be your first time doing that with a woman.
She opens up the PWA folder, reads over the contract and, not finding anything untoward, begins signing her name. Melvin does the same on his papers.
Melvin Beauregard: I hope it was as good for you, as it was for me.
Lindsay Troy: I’ll take “things a woman has never told you” for a thousand.
She tosses her pen on her desk.
Lindsay Troy: Now fuck off.
The PWA Liaison gives her a mock-salute, gathers up his crutches, and struts out the door. As it clicks shut, Lindsay sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose.
She might not have wanted to sign that paperwork…but protecting one of her own will always come first.
Nick Stuart: All right. Well, as Matt Mills noted this week in his November 28th edition of Rumor Mills, Adam Ellis, Lindsay Troy, and PRIME’s Head of Security Dametreyus made a surprising appearance this past Sunday at High Octane Wrestling’s Chaos 017 show. Ellis made an even more surprising announcement on Chaos.
(HOW’s Chaos 017 Show)
Standing in Section 214 of the Best Arena, Adam Ellis, Ginny Van Lear, Lindsay Troy, and Dametreyus.
Adam Ellis: Well, I can honestly say that I was not expecting the call I got yesterday.
Adam cracks a wry grin at the reception he’s getting from the HOW diehards inside the Best Arena. The Queen of the Ring simply smirks.
Adam Ellis: You see, I was in Dallas, Texas finishing up my first week of training since mid-October. I’ve been out of action for the past few weeks due to a family medical emergency. Ms. Troy reached me where I was working out and she advised that Lee Best’s office had contacted her about offering me a chance to wrestle GREAT SCOTT for the HOTv title.
Most of the Best Arena boos Ellis while the people in Section 214 do their best to drown them out with cheers.
Adam Ellis: GREAT SCOTT. I’ve seen you in action at PRIME. I’ve watched you on television in action here in HOW. You are a worthy and great HOTv champion. You’ve defeated everyone who’s been put in front of you… tonight, you face Brian Hollywood. The winner of tonight’s match will face me… Adam Ellis… next week right here in the Best Arena for the HOTv title. I accept the offer to challenge for the HOTv title.
Nick Stuart: Well, Adam Ellis is here tonight and let’s see what he has to say.
Cut to backstage.
Adam’s dressed in his street clothes tonight and seems relaxed. Next to him is his wife, Ginny Van Lear- also in her regular clothes.
Adam Ellis: GREAT SCOTT. I’m not going to repeat what I said about you on HOW’s Chaos last week. I meant what I said last Sunday… you are a great HOTv champion and I look forward to meeting you inside the cage in two nights in Chicago. You are a mountain of a man and you will be a huge mountain for me to overcome. But I feel I’m ready for the challenge and I’m going to try to take advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given to wrestle you for the HOTv title.
Ellis seems satisfied with his brief promo.
But Ginny has a few things on her mind too.
Ginny Van Lear: Aah mad as a hornet and I got a few words for that Lee Best fella. Lee’s fit to be tied and got his dander up about Adam going to PRIME. Well, if Lee really wanted Adam Ellis tuh wrestle fer you, he’all sure had a funny way uh showin it. Adam wrestled in HOW an won thuh tag title but dun y’all offer him a contract? Hell no. You wuz willin tuh let him work from his MVW contract an reap thuh benefits uh havin Adam wrassle on your TV show. If y’all really wanted Adam, then y’all should have offered him a deal. The early bird gets the worm and you sure didn’t offer Adam a deal. Ms. Lindsay Troy did and because Adam ain’t dumber than a coal bucket, he took it! You made your bed now lay in it.
Cut back to Nick and Richard at the broadcast desk.
Nick Stuart: Ginny Van Lear firing back at Lee Best who’s been in the news and social media ripping Adam Ellis this week.
Richard Parker: Is that really a good idea for her to be talking smack to Lee Best two days before her husband walks into the lion’s den called the Best Arena… in Chicago?
Nick Stuart: I believe PRIME’s Lindsay Troy, Dametreyus, and Wade Elliott will also be accompanying Adam to Chicago just in case there are any shenanigans.
Richard Parker: Adam Ellis would be better off wrestling matches in PRIME and building up experience before he takes on someone like GREAT SCOTT. He’s walking into a no-win situation Sunday night.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador went into the Best Arena and walked out of there with a win over Jace Parker Davidson.
Richard Parker: The Anglo Luchador also has a lot more experience than Adam Ellis does. He’s taking on GREAT SCOTT, Nick, and… let’s be honest, the kid ain’t ready for him. GREAT SCOTT will make quick work of Ellis in the same way Bobby Dean devours two four-course meals. I think Adam will be out of his element the second he steps into the ring against GREAT SCOTT.
Nick Stuart: We will find out on Sunday. Lindsay Troy worked out all the details with Lee Best and Adam Ellis will return to action for the first time since October Sunday night at Chaos 018 when he wrestles GREAT SCOTT for the HOTv title.
PERHAPS THE LOUDEST SEGMENT ON THIS ENTIRE SHOW
It’s an Anna Daniels segment and it’s December. She’s forcing Daniels-cember into being a thing and is the Queen of Christmas. Therefore, what you are expecting to hear in the background is perhaps some sort of Christmas ditty, right? Hopefully not Last Christmas or All I Want For Christmas Is You because otherwise, a lot of you would be screwed. Fortunately for those not wanting to go to any of the Whatever-halla’s or the people who are already sick of Christmas music, you get a nice reprieve here.
Here comes the hotstepper (murderer)
I’m the lyrical gangster (murderer)
Big up di crew ina di area (murderer)
Still love you like that (murderer)
It’s a surprising sonic assault at this time of the year, to be certain. You can blame the end of Anna’s monthly Japanese excursion for this. Goro Yamashi left the world with this banger, the song has infested the more obsessive parts of the Multitudes, and now you’re stuck with it.
Anna Daniels: HAPPY DANIELS-CEMBER BLOWOUT DAY, PRIMEVERSE!!!!
Another surprising battering of your ear drums, complete with an explosion and airhorns everywhere. You wouldn’t expect the vessel’s vocal cords to produce such a masculine bombastic radio announcer voice, nor the body that houses the Multitudes twirling into frame. Given the wideness of the eyes and the shark-like grin, this is clearly a temporary manic state. One they very much plan to work in their favor.
Anna Daniels: Later on tonight, you are going to witness the ONLY match that matters in this era of PRIME. For the first and potentially only time in a PRIME ring, you will see the funeral pyre of what used to be burn under the flame of Anna Daniels versus Brandon Youngblood. And make no mistake, ladies and germs, we plan on beating the shit out of each other. BUT FIRST, THE MERCH SHILLING!
More airhorns. Holy shit. The camera drone pans across all the merchandise.
Anna Daniels: Last chance reprints of the Brandon Youngblood is a Wrestling Hipster t-shirts, the brand new NEW ERA glitch shirts…and even newer than that, for the winter, PRIME KNIT CAPS! PRIME SCARFS! PRIME UGLY SWEATERS! Made exclusively by THESE! TWO! HANDS!
Those two hands are held up to the camera before grasping the sweaters.
Anna Daniels: We also have NEW ERA variants for each of these, of course. Ranging from ultra small to SUPER DE DUPER ULTRA LARGE for the burly Russians in your life. And it’s not just for you humans either.
Enter Bucky. With sword. Clad in a NEW ERA ugly sweater like the good boi he is. Because let’s be honest, it’s not an aborted Anna arc without the dog appearing at some point. He puts the hilt down and barks a hello to everyone. He also gets all the pets and treats for this cameo. Best boi steals a scarf before rushing off to god knows where.
Anna Daniels: But that’s not all. BEHOLD!
A pull of the curtain reveals a framed, bloodied NEW ERA shirt. Gee, this looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Anna Daniels: We are proud to announce that we are auctioning off this beautiful artifact decorated with the blood of PRIME Living Legend, Dusk and PRIME Semi-Living Failure (for now), Larry Tact. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get Duckles to sign it after he tries to steal the show from us tonight.
Call us, Craig.
Anna Daniels: The highest bid will go directly to The LGBTQIA+ Community Center of Southern Nevada and the auction will last until that final bell rings at Colossus. So scrounge up your pennies for this piece of PRIME history because when it’s gone, IT’S GONE! THE DANIELS-CEMBER BLOW OUT EVENT ONLY AT THE PRIMEPORIUM!
More explosions. More airhorns. Fade to black.
OOPS! I(VAN) DID IT AGAIN!
And so we see Ivan Stanislav with Alexei Ruslan at his side, standing inside the loading dock of the MGM Grand. Before him stands several technicians and stagehands, most dressed in black shirts and pants. They all keep a safe distance from the hulking Russian. Ivan stands before a podium with the PRIME logo on the front. Still, the podium looks comically small compared to his dimensions.
The words “Previously Recorded” displayed in the corner. It’s a fancy graphic, and it spins from time to time to show how awesome the PRIME Graphics Artist is. He’s proud of it. We should be too. Good on you, PRIME Graphics Artist.
Ruslan removes his hat and tucks it under his arm, standing just slightly back and to the left of Stanislav. He regards his friend with thoughtful reverence while The Russian Bear brings his hands behind his back. Ruslan addresses the group.
Alexei Ruslan: We are so glad you have all shown up to hear Ivan Stanislav’s heartfelt remarks regarding the Nick Stuart situation last week. I ask that you all give him your undivided attention! Praporshchik Stanislav.
Ivan smiles and nods, but instead of his “apology” being spoken in English, he instead spews out a barrage of Russian.
Ivan Stanislav: Я стою перед вами сегодня, потому что эта чудовищная женщина, Линдсей Трой, подумала, что было бы полезно поделиться с вами несколькими словами о моих действиях на прошлой неделе, на ReVival 19.
In person, no one knows what Stanislav is saying, but thankfully this is previously recorded, so a translation is offered for everyone else.
Translation: I stand before you today because that beastly woman, Lindsay Troy, thought it useful to share some words regarding my actions last week at ReVival Nineteen.
Stanislav inhales deeply and exhales. He snorts once.
Ivan Stanislav: По правде говоря, я чувствую, что мне нечего сказать никому из вас. Я просто защищался от ужасной клеветы Ника Стюарта. Я сожалею только о том, что не оторвал ему голову с плеч и не вонзил ее прямо в грудь Линдси Трой.
Translation: The truth is I have nothing necessary to say to any of you. I was simply defending myself from the horrible slander vomited forth by Nick Stuart. My only regret is that I did not rip his head clean off his shoulders and embed it directly into Lindsay Troy’s chest.
Ruslan nods solemnly and tries to suppress a smirk, while the employees look at each other. They clearly don’t know Russian. We dispense with the Russian words, despite Ivan speaking his native tongue.
Ivan Stanislav: (translated on screen beneath him) I know you are all too stupid to know what I am saying. You are rendered stupid because of a lack of options provided by PRIME as a whole. I wish to fix that. But your ignorance does grant you a certain degree of bliss. In all my years of wrestling, rest assured, I have destroyed countless pieces of property and injured plenty of people who got in my way. That is not going to change. And you all can just stand there like morons and nod.
Ruslan makes a somewhat pronounced nod in relation to Ivan’s words, and some of the onlookers mirror the motion, thinking it must be a cue. Ivan smirks with amusement.
Ivan Stanislav: (translated on screen beneath him) Lindsay Troy thought she could be cute by learning Russian. That is helpful, because I know she understands at least a portion of what I am saying.
Stanislav looks directly at the camera with a simmering fire behind his eyes. Ruslan stares at well, even though he’s not speaking, with one hand behind his back, the other with his hat tucked under his arm.
Ivan Stanislav: (translated on screen beneath him) You can fine us all you wish, little Queen. You can threaten me if you like. But no one in PRIME is safe. I should annihilate all of these people before me just to prove a point, but they have done nothing wrong. There is no reason to make them suffer.
The workers look at one another and then at the camera Ivan is staring at. They don’t understand him of course, but they sense that he’s not talking to them any longer. Finally, Ivan looks at them and speaks English.
Ivan Stanislav: (in English) So yes, my dear PRIME employees, accept the most humble and heartfelt apologies from the both of us…
A beat. Then, Stanislav lifts his ham sized fist and slams it on the podium. It explodes outward as pieces of timber burst everywhere. The technicians scream and run.
Ivan Stanislav: DISPERSE!! DYAAHAAHAA!!
He roars out his raucous laugh, while Alexei giggles next to his friend.
Alexei Ruslan: Uh oh, Ivan Sergeiovich, it is like hit song when we were in PCW, remember?
Ivan brings a hand to his mouth in mock surprise.
Ivan Stanislav: Oops…I did it again! DYAAAHAAHAA!!
Ivan continues laughing. He kicks the wreckage out from around him and roars in the background.
Ivan Stanislav: (in background) Run little ants!! Go run back and suckle on Mother Troy, little piglets!!
While Ivan is in the background causing havoc, which now includes picking up a rolly-container full of sound equipment and chucking it against the wall, Alexei Ruslan moves close to the camera and speaks conversationally. His twisted smirk on his face and twinkle in his eye shows just how much he is enjoying this. He speaks quietly.
Alexei Ruslan: Good enough for you, paper Queen?
His expression twists into a grimacing laugh as he belts out his own, “Hee hee haa!” Ivan, in the background, boots another container into a wall and matches his laughter.
And yes… the Russians laugh… and laugh… and laugh.
We go from Ivan’s very sincere and remorseful apology to the sight of Dusk as he exits the medical trainer room and heads down a hallway. As he goes to turn the corner, he nearly runs into someone.
“Achetez des lunettes et regardez où vous allez, vieil homme.”
That someone is the Five-Star Champion, FLAMBERGE.
FLAMBERGE: Yes, I am sure.
Dusk: Well, no reason to be rude.
FLAMBERGE: The sun is down, you should hurry before you miss the senior citizen discount at the shitty buffet near l’hôtel lobby.
Dusk: Yeah, okay buddy. Good one.
Dusk begins to walk away and then pauses. He turns around and FLAMBERGE has started to walk away.
Dusk: One minute.
FLAMBERGE turns around and rolls his eyes.
Dusk: Look, I get it. You were born in my second decade in the business. What could some old-time, retiring wrestler have to offer you?
At the words “offer you”, FLAMBERGE’s stance changes from Snotty Dickhead to Full Defensive Radars Raised.
FLAMBERGE: You too, old man? You are going to give me the speech every person with the gray hair and the ego trip seems so eager to give, with none of the asking? When I tell you that I am the sick and the TIRED of the Throwback Once-Stars around here thinking their Speech Dicks still carry the potency-
Dusk: –Ignoring all of that, I see you. Not the facade you want to put on, not the anger that you exhibit in every thing that you do. I see a man who wants to be noticed, wants to be respected. I appreciate it. I understand that. I was in your shoes at one point. Getting accolades for being rookie of the year, taking the business by storm, and feeling like everyone saw me, but didn’t really see me.
FLAMBERGE arrogantly sighs and mutters to himself.
Dusk: But I also know that you want to be noticed and appreciated for what you do in the ring, not out of the ring, and right now, everyone is talking about what you do out of the ring and that is a disservice to the talent you put on in that ring.
The Frenchman starts and stops himself a few times. His body posture looks ready to deliver some heater of a one-liner, but his eyes keep bouncing between anger and confusion and dismissal. Finally, he scoffs.
FLAMBERGE: You do not know the ANYTHING, old man.
Dusk: Yeah, kid, I do. You think you’re reinventing the wheel or something? I’ve seen this movie play out time and time again. I know exactly what you want, but keep acting like a petulant child. I guess there’s a good reason Phil Atken and you get along so well. Good luck. Hope Suplex Daddy breaks you in half.
The Kid storms off in a huff, muttering to himself as he looks back over his shoulder at Dusk. He’s so distracted, in fact, that he fails to notice someone…
The Tower of Babel.
Dressed and ready to go. The appearance is enough to stop FLAMBERGE in his tracks, if only for a moment. A wide smirk spreads across his face, and as he’s about to speak, about the 5 Star Title, about what happened with Nate Colton, about who knows what. Before he can speak, Brandon quickly interjects.
Brandon Youngblood: You have all the talent in the word…ALL THE TALENT in the WORLD. And you’re walking in the halls of the greatest proving ground there is. You’ve had people throw themselves at your feet trying…trying…to help you. To show you a way so you…YOU…don’t have to go through the years…the DECADES…suffering. Remorse. Regret. To let you BE the man you can be. To be the torch you have the talent to be. Do you have any idea…ANY IDEA…what you’ve cost yourself?
The smack Youngblood hits him with buckles his knees.
Brandon Youngblood: Bring everything you got to the Garden. EVERYTHING! Or there won’t be a goddamn thing left of you. You hear me, Julien? Don’t do it for your father. Don’t do it for Phil. Do it for YOUR GODDAMN SELF.
The 5 Star Champion is staring daggers through him, ready to go. But something stops him. All Youngblood does is snarl. FLAMBERGE snarls back.
Brandon Youngblood: Good. Luck.
We go elsewhere.
GREAT SCOTT AND THE EGG BANDITS vs. THE WINDS OF CHANGE
Nick Stuart: What a night it’s been so far, folks…and it’s only about to get crazier! Up next we have the Egg Bandits teaming with GREAT SCOTT to take on the Winds of Change!
Richard Parker: I suspect the Bandits and SCOTT are gonna make great use of the extra time they spent plotting a strategy over Thanksgiving, Nick!
“Banditstruck” plays throughout the Grand Garden Arena, garnering a bit of jeers from the crowd as Bobby Dean, Fred Mayhew, and GREAT SCOTT make their way out to the stage, accompanied by GREAT BEAR as they head toward the ring where Vince Howard is standing by alongside referee Timo Bolamba.
Vince Howard: The following six-man tag team match is scheduled for ONE FALL! Making their way to the ring at a combined weight of 945 pounds…the Egg Bandits, Bobby Dean and Fred Mayhew…and their partner for the evening, GREAT SCOTT!
The three men make it to the ring, entering as GREAT BEAR sits at ringside, doing GREAT BEAR things as he is want to do.
Nick Stuart: Interesting to see GREAT SCOTT coming out to the Bandits’ music tonight, perhaps a sign of solidarity as they face a very strong team in the Winds of Change!
Richard Parker: Either that, or the sound guy was too lazy to find GREAT SCOTT’s theme music tonight. That’s what you get for using a Zune for the PRIME playlist, John!
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: …what?
The lights go out in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The beginning of Monster Siren’s “Real Me” starts up like the calm before the storm, and a single spotlight shines on a man standing in smoke. Aside from his patchwork cloak, he carries with him a battle standard on a long pole. Coral Avalon steps through the smoke, dressed for combat against bear and bandit.
However, instead of “Real Me” going straight to its guitars, the song fades directly into Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” as Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips march out from the fog behind Avalon. The three of them head to the ring, Fontaine slapping hands with fans on the way to the ring.
Vince Howard: Coming down to the ring… at a total combined weight of… 2.6 powerbombs!? What!? Excuse me!?
In the ring, Vince Howard tears his cue card in half and stomps on it with the anger of a man too frequently messed with.
Vince Howard: Anyway… the team of Coral Avalon, Joe Fontaine, and Sid Phillips… THE WINDS! OF! CHAAAAAAAAAAANGE!
Avalon makes his way down to the ring, hopping up onto the apron, and stepping inside. Sid climbs up the stairs while Joe hops up onto the apron and slingshots into the ring. Once in, Avalon 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. Joe hypes up the crowd. Sid stands there eagerly anticipating all of the powerbombs he intends to do.
Nick Stuart: Joe, Sid, and Coral all look ready to take on the Bandits and SCOTT here tonight!
Richard Parker: Yeah, just look at Sid. Man is literally chomping at the bit right now…really needs to take that thing out of his mouth.
Timo checks all six men to make sure they have nothing illegal on their person, and calls for the bell to kick this match off!
After much debate between the teams, we start things off with Mayhew and Fontaine who immediately trade lefts and rights until Fontaine sends Mayhew to the ropes, hitting a dropkick on the rebound that brings the Once and Future Dooze down to the canvas! Joe looks for a tag to Sid…but the big man is staring down GREAT BEAR with a sense of fear, and refuses to reach his hand out. A tag is instead made to Coral, who goes to work on Mayhew with some hard strikes to the ribs before picking him up…and landing a beautiful German suplex!
Nick Stuart: What a suplex by Avalon!
Richard Parker: Looks like he stunned Mayhew a bit with that one, Nick!
Mayhew looks a little doozy as he gets to his feet, only to be overwhelmed by a flurry of offense by Avalon, who takes Mayhew down with a snapmare. Coral looks for a tag to Sid to keep the momentum on their side…but Sid steps off the apron the moment he sees GREAT BEAR make a single movement. Avalon has no choice but to shrug this off, tagging Joe back in as the two hit a double dropkick on Mayhew! Avalon’s back on the apron, telling Sid to get his head in the game as Joe goes for a leg drop!
But he comes up empty, as Mayhew manages to roll out of the way in the nick of time! Joe crashes to the canvas as Fred looks for a tag from his corner…with Bobby visibly motioning to GREAT SCOTT to take it! Mayhew lets out a small sigh as he tags in GREAT SCOTT, who makes a beeline for Fontaine looking to overcome his much smaller opponent! SCOTT with a clothesline from behind that sends Fontaine reeling to the corner, with the GREAT one flexing before heading there to continue the attack with some hard stomps to the midsection.
Nick Stuart: GREAT SCOTT really taking it to Fontaine here with this assault!
Richard Parker: Not afraid to really strut his stuff is GREAT SCOTT, and who can blame him?
Satisfied with the damage done, SCOTT pulls Fontaine away from the corner, looking to send him to the opposite side…but Joe turns things around, hitting an Irish whip on SCOTT that sends the GREAT one to the corner instead! Fontaine charges at full speed, hitting a corner splash that stuns SCOTT long enough for Joe to make the tag to Avalon! The crowd is buzzing at this, looking forward to what’s to come as Avalon hits SCOTT with a charging European uppercut as soon as he comes into the ring…which is followed up with a knee strike that takes the GREAT one down!
Avalon continues the attack, focused on the legs of GREAT SCOTT to keep him grounded with some hard kicks, before going after the arms to weaken SCOTT’s offense. To his credit, SCOTT slowly builds back up to a vertical base before shoving Avalon away, yelling “ENOUGH WITH THE BULLYING, CARL” before catching the Crownless King with a forearm to the skull! Coral gets knocked back, but is quickly pulled in by SCOTT who hits him with a belly to belly suplex! SCOTT senses a chance to put this “bully” down for the count as he goes for the cover!
The crowd explodes in excitement as Avalon manages to kick out! Avalon gets back to his feet, ducking a clothesline attempt by SCOTT before hitting the ropes, using the momentum to hit another charging European uppercut! GREAT SCOTT is sent reeling toward the ropes from this…but catches Coral off guard with a clothesline on the rebound, sending the Crownless King head over heels onto the canvas! SCOTT flexes once again, showing off his supposed superiority before bringing Avalon back to his feet. He goes for a vertical suplex…but Coral slips out of it, reversing it into something of a modified neckbreaker!
The crowd cheers for this again as both men are struggling to move after such an impactful move. Timo checks on both men before starting a count up!
It’s here where we see Avalon starting to stir, followed closely by GREAT SCOTT.
Both men sense the danger of losing this one by countout, with Avalon getting to his feet first…and just as SCOTT does the same, the GREAT one finds himself caught with a knee strike right to the skull by Avalon!
Nick Stuart: Holy moly, what a knee by Avalon! SCOTT’s gonna be feeling that in the morning!
Richard Parker: Come on SCOTT, don’t give up so soon!
Much to his credit, SCOTT manages to get his feet after this, though he looks a little wobbly as Avalon looks to the apron for a tag…noticing that Sid is still off the apron, trying to keep his distance from a nonplussed GREAT BEAR as Joe reaches out. Avalon rolls his eyes before tagging Fontaine in, taking the Tempest’s turn in trying to get Sid focused on the match as Fontaine charges at SCOTT…only to be caught with a belly to belly suplex by the GREAT one! Despite still looking a little loopy, SCOTT flexes with a light chuckle as he brings Fontaine to his feet once more…but is sent to the corner with a dropkick by Fontaine!
Except that the momentum from said dropkick sends SCOTT’s shoulder right into the open and free hand of Bobby Dean, which is being counted as a tag by Timo much to the shock and horror of the Beautiful one! Bobby slowly enters the ring, looking a bit nervous about actually getting involved in this match as Fontaine tries to egg him on before hitting the ropes…and colliding right into a power slam by Dean! Bobby chuckles to himself, feeling very clever as he stomps away at Fontaine, taunting Coral and Sid all the while.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean looking very confident as he goes to work on Fontaine here.
Richard Parker: The man’s been conserving his energy all match for something like this, and as long as Sid is too busy being afraid of that bear the Bandits and SCOTT have this one!
Bobby brings Fontaine back to his feet, locking in a bear hug as he tries to squeeze the life out of the Tempest! Timo checks on Fontaine, asking if he gives up…but the Tempest calls himself Smooth Joe Cool for a reason, refusing to surrender! The problem is, his body is telling him no as he starts to fade…and Timo raises his arm to check on his condition.
The arm falls once.
Timo checks the arm again…and it falls a second time, much to the worry of the crowd.
The crowd is trying to will Fontaine back into this as Timo checks the arm a third time…and it stays up! Timo stands back as Fontaine slowly tries to fight his way out of the bear hug…only to be dropped to the canvas with a body slam by Bobby!
He cackles at the plight of Fontaine before tagging in Mayhew, and the Bandits gang up on Joe with some hard double-team offense…namely boots to the midsection…before bringing the Tempest back to his feet. SCOTT seems eager to get back into the match, and Mayhew tags him in as the GREAT one goes for a running clothesline on Fontaine…who narrowly ducks it, before sending Bobby off the apron with a dropkick and Mayhew off with a spinning heel kick!
The crowd is ecstatic as Fontaine turns his attention to his corner of the ring, where Avalon has finally managed to get Sid back on the apron as Fontaine leaps over, managing to slap the shoulder of Phillips as the crowd erupts!
Nick Stuart: Sid Phillips has now entered the equation, folks!
Richard Parker: Oh lord, here come the powerbombs!
GREAT SCOTT senses the imminent danger and hightails it out of the ring, yelling “NO POWERBOMBS FOR ME, PLEASE AND THANK YOU” much to the chagrin of Sid, who’s been trying to work up the courage to do his thing in spite of GREAT BEAR’s presence at ringside. To his credit, the bear just looks at Sid before going back to his listening of sick beats…but it’s enough to send a shiver down Sid’s spine.
Timo tells SCOTT to get back in the ring, to which the GREAT one reluctantly obliges as he slides in and immediately yells “REFRAIN FROM YOUR POWERBOMBS” at a visibly annoyed Phillips. Mayhew gets back on the apron himself to tell Sid off, and this comes at a bit of a cost as SCOTT tags Fred in, noping the hell out as he leaves the ring to stand by GREAT BEAR at ringside. Sid calms his nerves by focusing not on the bear at ringside, but on Fred Mayhew leaping off the top rope to blindside him.
A decision that turns out to be a damn mistake, as Sid catches him in midair, countering into, well…a POWERBOMB.
The impact of which leaves Sid in a state of shock…something that translates into him keeping Mayhew’s shoulders down on the canvas as Timo makes the count with the crowd joining in!
Sid can’t believe what’s transpired here, and neither can Bobby as Timo calls for the bell!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here are your winners, via pinfall…THE WINDS OF CHANGE!
Timo raises the arms of Joe and Sid, joined by Coral who all take in the victory well!
Nick Stuart: What a win for the Winds of Change, overcoming a very game GREAT SCOTT and the Egg Bandits tonight!
Richard Parker: Hell of an effort from both teams, I’ll give them that! Especially Coral Avalon stepping toe to toe with GREAT SCOTT here, kudos to the Winds for a big victory!
The trio continue to celebrate in the ring as Mayhew finally manages to roll out of the ring, regrouping with SCOTT and Bobby as we go to commercial!
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS
Doors fly open and Rezin storms into the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Rezin: I’m lookin’ for NATE COLTON!
Rezin storms into the locker room, nostrils flaring with animalistic fervor.
Rezin: NATE COLTON! Where are ya, you tow-headed sum’bish!?
Rezin moves on to catering, scanning the room like a man on a mission.
Rezin: You can’t hide from me… NATE COLTON!
Rezin wanders into the Argyle position, finding only confused members of the ring crew.
Rezin steps out onto the locking dock, where Enemigos I and IV are taking a smoke break.
Rezin bursts into the production truck, disrupting the video technicians hard at work.
Rezin is out in the crowd, searching among a sea of fans engaged in the show.
Rezin: WHERE ARE YOU, COLTON?!
In the mens’ room, Rezin kicks open a stall door and looks down the commode.
At the concession stand, Rezin’s head bursts out of the popcorn.
Nick and Richard are going over notes at the commentary table when Rezin suddenly pops up between them.
Rezin is on the roof of the Grand Garden Arena, firing a flamethrower through the air.
Rezin stalks the hallways of the MGM Grand. He jerks his head in every direction, feverishly searching for his quarry, as he walks past anyone else who happens to be there. Patricia the production assistant, a few Enemigos, Matt Mills, a sound technician, Ashley Barlow, Nate Colton, a few more Enemigos, a caterer with a fresh vegetable tray…
Rezin: COLTON! WHERE ARE YOU, DAMN YOUR EYES?!
Nate Colton: Back here, man.
Rezin spins around without fully stopping his forward momentum, causing him to knock over the caterer, as well as his vegetable tray. His eyes burn with madness and rage as he stares down his upcoming opponent.
Nate Colton: Need something?
Snarling, sniffing, and snorting like some wild animal, Rezin advances and gets face to face with the second-generation wrestling star.
Rezin: HEY, MAN! I got a QUESTION for ya! Cause see, something’s been botherin’ me for two weeks now! Really been harshin’ my mellow, if ya know what I mean! And errybuddy KNOWS THAT THIS OL’ DOPESMOKER LIKES TO KEEP IT MELLOW!!
Nate Colton impressively does not flinch despite the “mellow” individual screaming ravenously in his face. He simply blinks once.
Nate Colton: Okay, shoot.
Rezin: I wanna know, NAAATE COOLTOOONNN… WHY did you gave that strap BACK to FLAMBERGE?!
He jams a thumb into his chest.
Rezin: The man who ENDED the HIGH-est accolade of my career!?
He sticks the same thumb in the direction of the locker room.
Rezin: The man who SCREWED OVER Youngblood!
The thumb becomes an index finger, which pokes Nate’s chest accusingly.
Rezin: AND, let’s not forget… the man who has been YOUR GREATEST RIVAL thus far in PRIME! Of all people… WHY HIM?! What in the HELL were you smokin’ that night, kid, and WHERE THE HELL CAN I GET SOME?!
Nate Colton: Not smoking anything, Rezin. I gave the belt to FLAMBERGE ‘cause…well, it’s his.
Rezin blinks in astonishment.
Nate Colton: You don’t have to tell me FLAMBO is a douchebag. And the last thing I wanted to see was that belt in his hands. If I’d have given it back to Brandon, or you, or kept it myself…it would have made me a lot happier.
He sighs, and his hand tenses a little, as if he’s still trying to feel the weight of the 5-Star Title.
Nate Colton: But it wouldn’t be right.
The Goat Bastard double-blinks, dumbstruck by this concept of “morality”.
Nate Colton: I know it pissed off pretty much everybody. Well, sometimes that happens. Sometimes there’s no reward for doing the right thing, and really it just makes everything worse for you. But that’s when it’s the most important. That’s when you gotta do it, or none of it matters.
Rezin stands frozen for several long and awkward moments. Somewhere in that amount of time he likely forgets where he is and suddenly remembers again.
Rezin: …scuse me a sec.
He turns around to face away from Colton, and his maniacal rage briefly melts into distress as he bites down on his knuckle.
Rezin: (whispering) Holy shit… that is fuckin’ PUNK ROCK…
The Escape Artist turns to face Colton again, returning to his earlier unhinged haughtiness.
Rezin: OKAY, Evansville… I think I can buy that! THIS time, anyway! I’ma let YOU off for now… at least until Colossus! In the meantime, I guess I’m gonna take all this MELLOWNESS out on the NEXT poor sap that walks around the corner!
Rezin turns to leave. As luck should have it, coming around the corner is none other than…
The dopesmoking daredevil is a blur the moment he finds himself in the shadow of the Tower of Babel, diving head-first into the waste receptacle, which subsequently falls over and rolls away, leaving paper trash and black hash in its wake.
Nate Colton steels himself for the confrontation about to come. He’s not looking forward to it, but he’s not shying away either. He steps out from the wall and looks Brandon Youngblood in the eyes.
Nate Colton: Brandon, I…
But the Tower of Babel keeps on walking. He doesn’t even look in Colton’s direction as he goes, though he does emit a growl when he passes the Next Diamond. Brandon doesn’t look back either; he just keeps walking toward his next goal.
Toward his next target.
Colton watches the Diamond of PRIME leave, then shakes his head…knowing it’ll be his turn soon enough.
Nate Colton: Shit.
Backstage, Angelica Brooks has once again drawn the task of interviewing one of PRIME’s more colorful characters. Normally when someone has the unfortunate distinction of putting a microphone before Jared Sykes or his alter-ego King Blueberry, it’s done in a locker room or a hallway. Tonight, however, they stand in front of a PRIME-branded backdrop. This might have something to do with why he looks to be on edge. This, or the fact that the specter of retribution hangs looms his head.
The Blueberry mask still bears all the tears and stains of recent conflict. Despite the fact that everyone else has cast that name aside, Sykes himself still insists on wearing it.
Angelica Brooks: Ladies and gentlemen, Jared Sykes.
The Vegas faithful erupt.
Angelica Brooks: Jared, we’re on the last stop before Colossus, and the questions have been swirling after what happened between you and Paxton Ray two weeks ago. Can you take us through that? Can you tell us what you were thinking when it all went down?
King Blueberry: I don’t really know if I have a good answer to that, unfortunately. I know how this is going to sound, and there are going to be a lot of people who’re going to see this and think, “yeah, no shit,” but I wasn’t thinking. I saw Paxton, and I saw Justine, and… I dunno. Everything just went blank for a minute.
Angie nods, but doesn’t say anything, leaving him space to continue. It’s a trick also used by interrogators: when left to stew in silence, some people will tell you everything.
King Blueberry: I’m not proud of it, in case anyone was thinking that. Not at all. It just… It happened.
Angelica Brooks: I know there’s been talk in the industry of what might have happened if Coral Avalon and the Winds of Change didn’t intervene.
King Blueberry: I try not to think about that.
Before Angelica can ask another question, a blur moves through the screen and takes Sykes with it. The camera readjusts up to see that Paxton Ray has arrived.
Paxton Ray: Funny, I been thinkin’ bout that for a couple weeks.
Before King Blueberry can recover, the Bayou Butcher is on him, sending two quick left hands to the jaw. Blueberry slumps onto a nearby wall, and Ray grabs his head and slams it into the wall forcefully.
Paxton Ray: Y’know, I thought attackin’ from behind was a cowardly move, but this is kinda fun.
Paxton sends a punch to Blueberry’s gut, then hits him with a knee strike to the face. As Blueberry tries to recover, Paxton laughs.
Paxton Ray: Did ya know ya can get a rash from steel chairs? I still got ointment in my shirts.
Paxton is too busy cracking wise to notice Blueberry grabbing a poster from the wall.
King Blueberry: Fuck, just knock me out if you’re gonna monolog the whole time.
Sykes tosses it at Paxton and as The Lafayette Bruiser swipes it away, Sykes tackles Ray, knocking them both to the ground. Blueberry begins to assault Paxton with punches until the larger man forces him off. Ray stumbles away, but the tag champ follows him, grabbing a nearby steel chair to continue last ReVival’s furniture remodeling. Instead, Ray whirls around with a backhand that causes Sykes to stumble and drop the chair.
Paxton Ray: Knock ya out, huh? That can be arranged.
Sykes ducks a wild left hand and drives his shoulder into Paxton’s ribs, using his lower center of gravity to force him back towards the Argyle area.
Though she’s put down her mic, Angelica Brooks can still be seen in the background of this debacle. Making sure to stay out of harm’s way, it’s clear that she’s giving instructions to any nearby production people to stay with this.
Paxton is driven back towards the stairs that lead to the entrance stage, colliding with the steel railing. Despite Jared’s attempt to break him over the rail, he’s able to get a hand free and dig his thumb into the corner of Sykes’ eye. Jared stumbles back, and then a right hand sends him reeling through the curtain.
Nick Stuart: Are they coming out here?
Richard Parker: Buckle up, Nick. We’re about to have company!
The scene shifts. We’re no longer backstage, but are now out in the arena proper. Both men exchange strikes as they move through the narrow corridor between the entrance ramp and the guardrail holding the fans at bay. Right now those fans are ravenous. For many of them this is the closest they have ever been to a fight like this, and more than a few with they could get their own licks in on the Bayou Butcher. A soda cup flies through the air and explodes upon contact with the side of Paxton’s face.
Nick Stuart: I know that this is Las Vegas and people come here to take risks, but part of me can’t help but think that anyone foolish enough to throw a drink at Paxton Ray right now is gambling with their life.
Richard Parker: So what does that mean Sykes is doing? You heard what Coral Avalon told him last week about how the house always wins.
Nick Stuart: I’d rather not… OH NO!
Another fan, one who’s perhaps had one too many beverages of a different kind, leans over the guardrail and gets right in Paxton’s face. Before the MGM security team can intervene, he tries to shove the Lafayette Bruiser. He’s met with a snarl, and a threat that the camera doesn’t pick up.
Normally, this is the kind of thing that the broadcast team would be instructed to not draw attention to, lest another overeager fan try to follow suit. This is not a normal situation.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I think this would be a good time to remind everyone that the barricades are there for a reason…
Richard Parker: That might be the dumbest thing I’ve seen anyone do in the last year, and I’ve called matches with a mannequin!
For a moment, Paxton’s attention is diverted away from Sykes. The fan, now fully aware of what exactly he got himself into, curls up into the fetal position as a crowd of MGM security surge through the crowd.
A shout from Sykes causes Paxton to turn, and he’s met with a blow to the chest from a toolbox that had been placed under the entrance ramp. A second one to the ribs follows, hard enough to bust open the latch and send the contents spilled out onto the floor. Paxton drops to a knee among the tools, and the camera doesn’t see as he palms a wrench in his left hand. Neither does Jared, but he feels it when it’s brought up sharply into the small of his back.
Nick Stuart: Where the hell did he get that?
Richard Parker: I think when the toolbox exploded. Honestly, let’s all just be glad it wasn’t the screwdriver. Or a boxcutter.
Nick Stuart: Jesus.
Jared lurches forward and is forced to catch his balance on the corner of the guardrail. Now only a few feet from the ring, he turns in time to see Paxton draw his arm back again. This time when he swings the wrench, it goes low – real low – and draws an audible groan from the gathered faithful. In any other circumstance, Richard might be making a joke about how the world was just saved from having to deal with Blueberry children.
Richard Parker: That’s not… no. No, I don’t even want to think about what that felt like.
Nick Stuart: I’m starting to wonder whether we’re going to get someone out here to break this up before it gets worse.
Richard Parker: How much worse can it get after “bashed in the crotch with a wrench?”
Nick Stuart: Remember a second ago when you were talking about boxcutters?
Richard Parker: Ohhhhhhh. Good point.
Sykes begins crawling along the barricade, desperate to ignore the dull ache that’s spread up into his stomach and the sense of nausea that comes with it. Behind him, Paxton walks with the slow, casual pace of a man in no real hurry to get anywhere. His target’s been compromised and isn’t currently fighting back.
Richard Parker: They keep getting closer, Nick. It’s starting to weird me out.
Jared draws himself up using the ring steps in obvious physical discomfort. Paxton closes in, tossing the wrench lightly in his hand. As soon as Sykes is on his feet, he fires off a punch.
It connects soundly with the ring post.
The wrench falls from his hand. He tries to shake the feeling back into his hand and looks up to see a fist flying back in his direction. Flesh and bone and steel connect with his jaw and he staggers back. Jared tosses the wrench aside and takes hold of Paxton with two hands, giving himself a bit of a running start.
Nick Stuart: Richard, MOVE!
No sooner do Nick and Richard manage to get out of the way does Paxton Ray get sent flying across the length of the broadcast desk. He collides with the chairs on the opposite side and tumbles to the floor.
Richard Parker: Nick? Can you hear me? Are we still live?
Nick Stuart: Richard… yes. I think… Are you okay?
Richard Parker: Yeah, I’m… I’m fine, just – HOLY SHIT!
One of the broadcast chairs is sent flying over the table, catching Sykes unprepared and blasting him back into the ring apron. Paxton steadies himself on his feet and stalks around the broadcast table, grabbing one of the monitors from the desk. As soon as he’s close, he swings with it but misses wide and it explodes against the ring stairs.
The Enemigos come in droves. They pour from the ring entrance down the ramp, and are just about to intercept when Jared kicks Paxton back towards the guardrail, and then dive-tackles him over it into the crowd, taking out two rows of fans in the process.
Richard Parker: I hope they brought the tazer!
Security storm into the crowd, but by the time they’re able to get their hands on either man Sykes has already armed himself with a chair once again, bringing it down twice on Paxton’s left shoulder. Paxton growls and swipes at Sykes, but security has intervened.
Both men are separated behind the guard rail, and they each are essentially carried over the top and back to ringside. As they are both escorted out, Paxton Ray twists out of their grip and dives into the entire pile of Enemigos carrying Sykes, causing them all to fall like so many bowling pins. Paxton pounces towards him on the ground, but the security has regained composure, and the two separate groups – separated by much more distance – start to make their way to the back.
Nick Stuart: Well that was absolutely terrifying.
Richard Parker: And yet, Nick, it could have been so much worse. With chaos like this, I can’t even imagine what those two will do to each other when the bell rings at Colossus.
ORDER AND CHAOS
Ivan Stanislav: All right Luchador, it is high time we talk about strategy.
No one ever wants to be stuck in a room alone with Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan. It usually means structural damage. But for the Intense Champion, The Anglo Luchador, he has the dubious distinction of being on the same side as The Russian Bear in his upcoming match and thus, some sort of collaboration is necessary.
And so, The Intense Champion stands in what looks like a small dressing room, complete with a mirror to show the scene from a slightly different perspective. The room could comfortably hold five or six people, but instead feels cramped because of one massive fellow in particular. Stanislav’s arms are crossed over his chest, while Ruslan stands to his side.
Ivan Stanislav: You want to get retribution on these GAS types? You listen to me, eh?
TAL: Yeah, I’m listening, bub. Spill what you wanna do.
Ivan Stanislav: These wreckers will do whatever it takes in order to win, yes? As Lenin and later Stalin did, sometimes you must meet terror with terror. You leave Ivan Sergeiovich in ring for most of match and I will bury them…
Ivan looks over at Alexei, who chimes in.
Alexei Ruslan: When you are in the ring, Luchador, you just follow our directives. You keep these idiots in neutral corner closest to where I stand most of time, yes?
Ruslan flicks his wrist and his collapsable, metal baton snaps into his hand.
Alexei Ruslan: I hop up on apron while Ivan distracts referee, and I part their hair with this. They rebound off ropes, I try to break their ankle or trip them.
Ivan chimes in.
Ivan Stanislav: We win by any means necessary, Luchador. The rules set forth by Troy and her henchmen are only meant to hinder true potential of competitors. The Revolution demands no mercy or quarter given. No need to tip toe around rules. We want our opponents to leave this ring broken.
TAL: Okay, there are quite a few issues I have with this manifesto, so let me recount them for you.
The luchador stands up straight as he can and clears his throat.
TAL: One, I am not cheating.
This causes both Ivan and Alexei to grouse, but before they can speak up, the luchador continues.
TAL: Now, I don’t know or care what preconceived notions you have about what being a tecnico entails, but even though I am not going to cheat, I will say if you guys want to bend the rules a little bit, as long as you’re not doing a Paxton Ray on either Mort or Wingtips, I won’t care. Second…
He sighs, knowing he’s about to become a broken record skipping at a brick wall once again.
TAL: Secondly, we talked about this. You can’t just run at these guys with regimented order. There’s a time to roll the tanks into Prague, and then there’s a time when you gotta light a few Molotov cocktails and bring in a little anarchy.
Ivan Stanislav: Anarchy? You sound even less like a Trostkyist and more like a Bakunist, Luchador. Perhaps you fail to realize that our opponents are the chaotic ones, eh?
TAL: Okay, maybe my theory is a bit scatterbrained, but the point is you cannot go after these guys with singular focus. They’re too smart, especially Wingtips. You have to keep them on their toes. Does that register with you?
Ivan Stanislav: Of course it registers with me…
Alexei Ruslan: You have to forgive Ivan Sergeiovich and myself. You see, we never need to worry about our opponents actually harming us, particularly Ivan, that it is difficult for us to think about a smaller, less… resilient partner and the concerns they might have. Ivan, do not forget, some cannot simply use overwhelming strength, force, and will to shatter their opponents.
This seems to light the bulb over Ivan’s head.
Ivan Stanislav: Ah, yes of course. All right Luchador, you wish to keep them on their toes? Despite feeling this will be a less effective strategy, why don’t you tell me what -you- would propose, hm?
TAL: Well, I have a few ideas, but honestly, I don’t think I want to discuss strategy with these guys around.
The Intense Champion gestures towards the camera.
TAL: So why don’t you guys skedaddle? Throw it back to Nick and Richie, huh?
Ivan Stanislav: Da. Here! I offer some anarchy and less order, eh?
With that, Stanislav’s huge hand palms the camera lens and shoves it and the cameraman out of the room and then slams the door. All the while The Anglo Luchador shakes his head and covers his eyes with an exasperated sigh.
THE GAMBLE APPRECIATION SOCIETY vs. THE ANGLO LUCHADOR AND IVAN STANISLAV
We come back from Ivan Stanislav to the ring, where the familiar voice of Tommy DeVito is heard over the loudspeakers.
“You think I’m funny? Funny how?”
Metallica’s “Better Than You” kicks in, and Tony Gamble is making his way out to the ring. Behind him is looms the grumpy Mortimer Knightingale. Grumpy because Knightingale isn’t his name. Then again, neither is Kjedelig. Allegedly. You didn’t hear nothin’.
There’s a lot of career highlights playing on the PRIMEview as Tony and his unwilling sidekick head for the ring. Locking Facey in Smile For Me to win the Internet (Alias) title. Imprinting Kenjiro Ito’s face into the mat with Stop Laughing At Me. Beating Tsonda for the 5-Star championship. Beating Deville for the Jewel in the Crown. The PRIME Hall of Famer walks up the steps into the ring, taking his time to absorb the scorn from the crowd.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first… from Horace, North Dakota, weighing in at 248 pounds! He is MOOOOOORTIMERRRRR! KNIGHTINGAAAAAALE!
Reclining in the corner that the Gamble Adoration Syndicate have claimed as their own, Mortimer has a smile on his face, likely imagining all of the things he wants to do to the Anglo Luchador and his big Russian tag team partner.
Vince is about to make the introduction for Tony Gamble, but Gamble stops him and pulls out a card from his tights. He hands it to Vince and insists that he reads it. Vince raises an eyebrow at him, but Gamble is very insistent, so he has little choice but to acquiesce to the Hall of Famer’s request.
Vince Howard: His tag team partner… He is the best thing residing in Las Vegas today! He stands beyond mortal men! His weight would shake the very foundations of PRIME! He is the greatest 5-Star champion! A former Intense champion so Intense that they had to retire the belt for eleven years! The man who will make the Anglo Luchador his bitch, rip his title from him, and then consider retiring it for another eleven years because no one would be able to beat him for it! He won the Jewel in the Crown even better than Brandon Youngblood! The greatest Hall of Famer! Women want him! Men want to be him! Truly, a man to be feared and revered… and adored! HE IS… TONY… “THE GRIIIIIIIIIN”… GAAAAAAAAMBLLLLLLEEEEEEE!
Richard Parker: Yes… YES! Adore him, Nick!
Nick Stuart: Well, he’s certainly not adored here in Vegas.
Gamble holds his arms out, soaking up all of the boos from the Vegas crowd.
The arena darkens and red lights bathe the crowd in crimson. A loud, instrumental chord plays, much akin to the Soviet National Anthem… but it is not so…
Vince Howard: Introducing, at a combined weight of six hundred and eleven pounds! The Anglo Luchador and Ivan Stanislav!!!!
An instrumental version of “The Internationale,” the anthem of socialism, blares throughout the arena as The Anglo Luchador, with the Intense Title around his waist, emerges from backstage. Smoke billows across the entryway as the crowd cheers raucously for their champion. He exhales and bows his head for a moment.
From behind him, the curtain flies open as the lumbering Ivan Stanislav stomps out and raises his arms to the cheers. They quickly devolve into a strange mix of boos and cheers, as the crowd tries to decide how best to react to the duo. Alexei Ruslan is in tow, his eyes firmly on the back of Anglo Luchador. Stanislav visibly reacts to the crowd booing him, after first coming out to Luchador’s cheers. He stands a few feet to the right of Luchador and looks down at him from the side with a scowl, before the two of them begin to walk towards the ring.
Nick Stuart: Ivan Stanislav hasn’t made very many friends since arriving in PRIME.
Richard Parker: Awfully restrained of you to say after what happened two weeks ago, Nick.
Nick Stuart: I’m a professional, Richard. I’m going to call things as I see it, regardless of what Ivan might have to say. And with all that said, this is an unusual pairing. It’s been more than a month since Ivan Stanislav introduced Mortimer Knightingale to the inside of a wall, and the Anglo Luchador’s issues with Tony Gamble date all the way back to Great American Nightmare, when he won the Intense title.
Richard Parker: You mean, when Tony Gamble gifted that ungrateful little Jabber hog the Intense title.
Nick Stuart: At the expense of Tony Gamble’s tag team partner, I want to point out.
Richard Parker: They buried the hatchet! It’s cool! More people to adore Tony Gamble is a good thing.
TAL slingshots into the ring, while Stanislav methodically climbs up the stairs and steps over the top ropes into the ring. Mortimer, still reclining against the Syndicate’s corner, stares daggers at the massive Russian. Sizing him up. Ready for revenge for that yeeting and the resulting concussion.
In the crowd, there’s a small contingent of signs in clear view of the hard camera that read “YEET COUNT: 00”. The numbers can clearly be changed out as Ivan does what Ivan does. It also has the Soviet flag on it. Gamble pats Knightingale on the shoulder and steps out of the ring, allowing Mort to take the lead on this contest.
Nick Stuart: Looks like there’s a heated argument between Stanislav and the Anglo Luchador about who’s starting on their side of things…
Richard Parker: Personally, I would think twice about having any arguments with a man that could actually throw me into the sun, especially if I could use him to throw other people I didn’t like into the sun instead. But then, I’m not insane like TAL over there.
Mortimer steps out of his corner and shuffles from foot to foot. He’s impatient. He wants to start beating the shit out of people as soon as possible. And he can’t do that if there isn’t a legal man to focus all of that wrath towards. So goes to make his way over to the international socialist party and…
Nick Stuart: OH NO!
Richard Parker: OH NO!
DING DING DING
Wordlessly, the fan with the “YEET COUNT” sign increases their number by one, as Ivan Stanislav picks up the Anglo Luchador and heaves him directly into Mortimer Knightingale. To his credit, the Anglo Luchador is no stranger to being thrown in this way, as Wolverine might be thrown by Colossus (though TAL is not Canadian). He lands sitting on Knightingale’s shoulders, electric-chair style. With a spin, he turns his predicament into a hurricanrana that sends the bigger man sliding out to the ring.
Nick Stuart: I… don’t know if that was intentional teamwork by TAL and Stanislav, but the Gamble Adoration Syndicate is already on the back foot here!
Realizing that his partner has been ejected like a terrible movie from Mortimer’s collection of romantic comedies, Tony Gamble immediately gets in the ring and attempts an ambush on TAL. The old luchador, however, has seen – and not seen – a lot of this sort of thing before. He steps to the side and Gamble ends up running into the ropes.
Gamble doesn’t take the ropes the same way most wrestlers usually do. TAL pushes him into them, and he has no time to pivot and hit them with his back. So he hits the ropes chest-first, and bounces back into TAL’s waiting arms. A German suplex soon follows, and Gamble is folded like laundry from the impact.
Richard Parker: Oh no! Get out of there, Tony!
As if hearing Richard’s pleas, Gamble immediately rolls to the outside to join Mortimer on the floor. TAL sees the two of them out on the floor and has a golden opportunity for a dive out to the floor. He runs into the ropes.
Gamble and Knightingale both see him coming, and they dodge out of the way. TAL simply flips over the ropes in a full somersault over the top of them. He gives Gamble in particular a very rude one-fingered gesture that’s less technico and more South Philly, and then flips back over the ropes and back into the ring.
Tony Gamble is irate. He’s a Hall of Famer!
Nick Stuart: TAL taking it to the Syndicate early on in this contest, Rich!
Richard Parker: I can’t believe any of that happened.
TAL is focused on Mortimer getting back into the ring to continue the match. Mort slides in like a snake, his body language betraying how pissed off he really was at TAL’s resourcefulness. The old luchador regards him with a measure of caution. His record didn’t suggest it, but the erstwhile Kjedelig was a dangerous opponent and TAL knew it firsthand from their encounter at Great American Nightmare.
TAL has so much caution as Mort approaches that he backs himself into the ropes near where Stanislav stands.
Nick Stuart: Oh my god! Stanislav just decked TAL from behind, an—
Richard Parker: No, actually, I think he just tagged himself in.
Nick Stuart: Most tags don’t end with your partner on the ground, Richard!
Indeed, Stanislav simply shrugs as he explains to referee Jimmy Turnbull and his partner that he’d simply made a tag, and that this was how Russians always tag each other into matches, and that TAL should stop being a pansy and accept this fact.
Jimmy accepts this fact.
TAL only does so begrudgingly, rolling under the bottom rope while holding his head. Stanislav only has one leg over the top ropes before Mortimer immediately attacks him, ramming his elbow into Stanislav multiple times. Stanislav is only annoyed by this because Mortimer is in his way from getting his other leg over the top rope, and he reacts by palming Mort’s face and shoving him across the ring.
Mort’s a big dude. At 6’3” and 248 pounds, he’s one of the biggest, most solidly built men on the PRIME roster. To his enemies, he is a terror. Maybe Mort doesn’t win very often, but when you’re in the ring with him, you know it.
Anyway, Stanislav finishes stepping into the ring as Mort gets up. Mort soon discovers that they built brick walls in Russia that are autonomous, capable of moving at high speeds in short bursts, and hated the human body. The Russian Bear runs him over as a Mack truck might run over a squirrel. Ivan didn’t even do much more than body block Mort to the ground.
Mort hits the ground, rolls onto his stomach, and then keeps rolling until his back hits the bottom turnbuckle of his team’s corner.
Tony Gamble takes the opportunity to tag himself in.
Nick Stuart: Uh, I’m not sure Gamble should want in, but he’s getting in the ring and he’s standing up to Stanislav!
As of this writing, only 23 of the hundreds of professional wrestlers that have performed under the banner of PRIME Wrestling are in the PRIME Hall of Fame. Tony Gamble is one of them. He has done almost everything that can be done in PRIME, short of winning the Universal championship that’s eluded him several times throughout his career. Tony could proudly say he stands head and shoulders over almost everyone on PRIME’s roster.
Yet, Ivan Stanislav is so much bigger than Tony that Tony has to crane his neck up almost all the way just to look him in the face. He does not stand so tall in the face of a Russian legend who is better compared to kaiju than mortal men.
So, Tony does what anyone would do in the situation.
He turns to referee Jimmy Turnbull, and he very loudly shouts.
Tony Gamble: Look! An owl!
Alright, Jimmy. I’m going to level with you. This is going to be a bad look. You know this. You’re aware of the kind of antics Tony Gamble gets up to when he laces the boots and enters the ring. You know that if you turn around to check out this owl he’s talking about, something terrible might happen. You know that you’re going to turn back around and someone’s going to be cupping their balls, and because you didn’t see shit, you can’t actually disqualify anyone.
You also know what kind of dangers an owl could present in a PRIME ring, because your boss is Lindsay Troy. Jimmy, it’s your duty to turn around and see this owl with your own eyes. And Jimmy, I know what’s about to happen isn’t your fault, but you have to look. You must.
So, Jimmy turns.
When he doesn’t see the owl that Gamble claimed was there, Jimmy turns around to berate him for the distraction, and stops. He’s stunned.
Because both of them are hunched over, hands over their crotches.
Jimmy’s very confused.
Richard Parker: Not every day you see two men kick each other in the fun zone at the same time.
Nick Stuart: Never call it the “fun zone” ever again, Rich.
Now, if anyone got the worst of that exchange, it’s definitely Gamble. Being kicked in Richard Parker’s Fun Zone by a kaiju is only anyone’s idea of fun if they’re on the platinum tier membership at the Velvet Pterodactyl. Gamble stumbles backwards into his corner, his every step an agony untold, until he can make the tag back to Mortimer.
At the same time, Stanislav tags in TAL.
We, uh… we do not recommend tagging TAL the way Ivan tags TAL.
Ivan unexpectedly slaps TAL in the back of the head as his form of a tag. TAL, not entirely expecting it, is flipped into the ring. It’s only because of his luchador instincts that the Intense champion is able to land in a roll and engage Mortimer as he comes in.
Nick Stuart: It isn’t going to help TAL’s known history of CTE if he keeps tagging with Ivan like this.
Richard Parker: No. It sure isn’t.
TAL is dazed, but nevertheless, he and Mortimer meet with strikes readied. Mort misses a right hand by inches, with TAL dodging it so late that you’d think he’s fucking with him. He’s not. TAL’s still rattled quite a bit by Ivan’s tag. TAL responds with a series of knife-edged chops, backing Mort into the ropes. An attempt at an Irish whip is reversed, and TAL comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. This, once again, sends Mort crashing to the canvas and sliding out of the ring once again.
The Intense champion is more than a little wobbly, though, and isn’t quick to follow up. Experiencing Ivan Stanislav as a tag team partner will do that to you.
Once he steadies himself, he pursues Mortimer out on the floor. He catches Mort with a baseball slide dropkick, seamlessly sliding out to the floor after knocking him over with it. He wants to throw Mort back into the ring, but Mort catches him with a knee as he’s about to be brought back in. Then he throws TAL into the nearby steel stairs.
Nick Stuart: Into the steps goes the Intense champion, and Mortimer Knightingale has asserted control!
TAL’s exact age isn’t a matter of public record, but we call him the “old luchador”, not the “luchador who has a body very okay with being thrown into steel steps”. Those luchadors have the platinum tier membership. He’s in agony. Knightingale’s expression couldn’t ever be fully seen because of his mask, but his smirk was unmistakable.
He throws TAL back into the ring and slides in after him.
The first thing Mort does once he’s inside is that he stomps on TAL’s head a few times. You know, trying to help knock loose all of the cobwebs in his brain, like the helpful citizen he was. Then he straight stands on TAL’s head, forcing Jimmy to administer a five count to make him break. He does it at four. And three-fourths.
Nick Stuart: Mortimer doesn’t want to risk disqualification here! A win against the Intense champion and Ivan Stanislav would be big for both him and Gamble.
Mort drags TAL to his feet and shoves him into the GAS corner, and then tags in Gamble. Tony Gamble’s permanent grin curls even deeper as he methodically stomps TAL down into a seated position and then chokes him with a boot. Once again, the referee exercises a five count. Once again, a member of GAS breaks the count at four. And three-fourths.
Gamble, naturally, argues with Turnbull over the count.
Of course, he does it while pulling Turnbull’s attention away from what’s going on in the GAS corner. As he argues, Mort drops off of the apron and starts choking TAL with his bare hands.
Nick Stuart: Uh, ref? Ref!? Turn around!
Richard Parker: No, Nick, it’s cool. Nevada state laws say that it’s legal for a luchador to strangle another luchador to death as long as it happens in a wrestling match!
Nick Stuart: That… I don’t even know where to begin refuting that, but I’ll start with the fact that just because Mortimer wears a mask doesn’t mean he’s a luchador!
Now, if you’re wondering where Ivan is in all of this, he’s actually having a conversation with Alexei at ringside in Russian. A lot of Cyrillic going on over there. Those who understand Russian know that they’re talking about tomorrow’s weather forecast as it pertains to the flight home to the great motherland.
You know, while Mort is choking his partner to death.
A true Russian could walk something like that off, after all.
Eventually, Jimmy turns, but only finds Mort out on the floor jaw-jacking with members of the crowd, and TAL struggling to suck in oxygen. Nope. Nothing to worry about here.
Tony pulled TAL out of the corner, and to his feet. He holds TAL with one hand while winding up with his other for what seems like a big punch. Then he stops and pokes TAL in the eyes.
Jimmy’s not happy about that one, and admonishes Gamble for the dastardly deed. Behind Jimmy’s, Mort grabs TAL’s head from the other side of the ropes and drops down, clotheslining TAL against the top rope and dropping him to the mat.
Richard Parker: I love the teamwork on display by the Gamble Adoration Syndicate. Cooking with GAS, as they say!
Nick Stuart: It’s an outrage! There were at least five different disqualifications that should have happened just now!
Richard Parker: Yeah, against TAL, for crimes against GAS!
Gamble goes for the cover on TAL, and Jimmy makes a two count before TAL gets the shoulder up. The moment he does, Tony gets the chinlock and wrenches it back. TAL quickly gets to his feet and fights his way out of the hold, though, and goes to run into the ropes to try and regain control.
Gamble grabs him by the mask and yanks him to the ground.
Yeah, nobody’s a fan of that one.
Even Ivan looks like he’s actually considering getting into the ring to save his partner. Thanks to the invaluable counsel of Alexei Ruslan, though, he reconsiders it and remains where he is. His eyes look over at the fan with the “YEET COUNT” sign, visibly disappointed that there’s only been one so far.
Gamble tags Mort in and beckons him to come into the ring to help out. Mort obliges, and the two of them kick TAL on the ground together, much to Jimmy’s disdain and counting. At four and three-quarters, they stop stomping and pull TAL up for a double suplex.
And that’s when things fall apart for Syndicate.
TAL flips over their heads as he’s lifted up vertically, landing on his feet behind both of them. He turns and kicks Gamble in the gut, then shoves his shoulder into Mortimer’s stomach. This reflexively causes Mort to headlock his own tag team partner. TAL then ran up and nailed Mort with a picture perfect Sling Blade. And, well… where Mort went, so did Gamble.
Nick Stuart: What a move by the Anglo Luchador! He’s taken out the whole Syndicate!
Richard Parker: Oh no! Is Tony alright!?
Tony twitched a little on the ground.
TAL crawls over to the Stanislav corner. For his part, Ivan is quite interested in getting in the ring to prove Russian superiority, and maybe not as interested in his partner’s physical well-being. The moment TAL was close enough, Stanislav reached over the top rope and slapped TAL on the back of the head.
That counts as both a tag and a way to give a luchador another concussion.
Nick Stuart: Here comes Stanislav!
Mort and Gamble both got to their feet in time to see the titanic Russian step over the ropes. Neither of them want any part of him, but they’re getting the entire package. This package was delivered by train, conducted by a Russian Bear.
Two clotheslines with both arms. Ivan ran at the Gamble Adoration Syndicate like he was a child pretending to be an airplane, if that child was over seven feet tall and nearly a quarter ton. Mortimer hit the ground on his back. Gamble practically got backflipped, landing on top of shoulders and rolling onto his stomach.
Now, the crowd here in the MGM Grand Garden Arena are not big fans of Ivan Stanislav. But in this moment, with Ivan wrecking shop over the Syndicate, they are willing to cheer for him.
Ivan picks up Gamble and effortlessly carries him to the corner. Then, with a heave, he throws Gamble so high into the air as he launches him across the ring that Gamble might have been twice as high as the ring ropes themselves. Lightbulbs flash for the long moment between launching and landing.
The fan with the “YEET COUNT” sign moves it up to 2.
Nick Stuart: Oh my God! Tony Gamble touched the sky on that one!
Richard Parker: Get out of there, Tony!
He does, leaving Mort in the ring to deal with the Russian kaiju. To his credit, Mortimer goes in swinging on Ivan, slugging him with right hands. While the big man seems phased at first, the fourth shot makes Ivan react by trying to clothesline Mort out of his boots. Mort sees it coming, ducking under the clothesline and kicking Ivan in the guts. He goes for the double arm DDT, a titanic move to deliver on the big Russian that could be the end of him. Instead, Ivan easily powers out, launching Mort over his head in a massive backdrop.
Ivan waits for Mort to get up, and then charges on him.
Two things happen at this moment.
The first is that Mort has the savviness to low bridge Ivan. Momentum is a cruel mistress when you’re 7’1”, 400 pounds, and celebrated your 60th birthday not all that long ago. Ivan hits the ropes and falls over the top rope and to the floor. Even Ivan can’t shrug a fall like that, because gravity isn’t just a crueler mistress than momentum: it’s the employee of the month at the Velvet Pterodactyl.
The second is that the Anglo Luchador tagged himself back in as Ivan was falling out of the ring.
Nick Stuart: TAL’s back in! Knife-edged chops for Mortimer! A right hand! A left hand!
Nick Stuart: And oh my! What a right cross from the Anglo Luchador! You could hear that one from the cheap seats!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
With Mort staggered, TAL peppers him with more knife-edged chops, eventually putting him in the corner. He tries to whip Mort into the corner, but Mort reverses and sends TAL in instead. TAL reaches the turnbuckles, grabs the top ropes, and slingshots himself up and over a charging Mort. On his way down, he grabs Mort and tries to catch him with a dragon suplex. They jockey for position for a while with Mort fighting off the full nelson.
The erstwhile Kjedelig finds Jimmy Turnbull standing in front of him and grabs him by the shirt. While Jimmy’s focusing on making Mort release his grip and admonishing him for grabbing hold of him, Mort is focusing on making sure Jimmy doesn’t see the way he’s about to break the dragon suplex attempt.
With a Greco-Roman kick in the wing-wongs.
Just as Zeus and Hades drew up.
Nick Stuart: LOW BLOW BY KNIGHTINGALE!
Richard Parker: Pretty sure nobody in this match is having any more kids after this, at the rate this is going.
Mort releases Jimmy and turns to find TAL doubled over behind him. He quickly grabs the arm and twists him around.
Nick Stuart: BUST OUT! Knightingale could have this one!
Mort goes right into the cover, with a self-satisfied smirk on his face.
A shadow forms over Knightingale’s head.
The leg drop from Ivan Stanislav that breaks the count lands with the kind of impact that could describe what caused the Chicxulub crater. It’s an extinction level event. Goodbye, Velvet Pterodactyl. We hardly knew ye.
The leg drop squashes Mort. It also squashes TAL, underneath him.
Richard Parker: I’m beginning to think that teaming with Ivan Stanislav is every bit as hazardous to one’s health as his opponents’.
Ivan doesn’t care. Russian fuck dispensaries haven’t been in operation since Khrushchev was in power.
Instead, Ivan does what Ivan does.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHA!
He pulls TAL free from the ruins and drags him effortlessly to his corner. There, he makes a tag, and puts himself back into the match.
As he does, Mort tags Tony Gamble back into the fray.
Tony enters the ring and charges at Ivan with a somewhat uncharacteristic dropkick. When he bounces off of Ivan’s chest like a fly bouncing off of a wall, Tony does the next best thing. He leaps into the air… and pokes Ivan in the eye. It’s what a Shoryuken would look like if it were an eye poke.
With Ivan stunned, Gamble runs the ropes for another attack.
And then, well…
So there’s a lot of chatter about whether Ivan Stanislav could do what he’s about to do to Tony Gamble. Charitable donations were brought up. A lot of excitement had been in the air over whether Ivan would actually attempt it.
So, he chooses now.
Tony returns to find a seven foot Russian in mid-air, leaping at him legs first. For a brief, shining moment, Ivan Stanislav is actually looking for a hurricanrana. No. A hurricaRUSSIA.
There’s a problem, though. A logistical one.
Tony Gamble is a 5’9”, 187 pound man who only thinks he’s twice that size. He is not capable of supporting Ivan’s weight. His legs buckle as Ivan sits on his shoulders, and then he falls to the ground. With Ivan on top of him.
Ivan lands, and then stands up and raises his arms as though he just performed the greatest luchador feat possible.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHA!
Nick Stuart: I… have no words.
Richard Parker: Welp. Guess I’m donating to charity, too.
Tony Gamble is almost as flat as a fritter after that one. Ivan turns and picks up the beloved leader of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate, and hoists him up into the air with one arm. And then comes the Iron Curtain. Tony’s lucky his head is still attached after that one, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivan has him for the Red Scare.
Only, he never gets the chance.
Because Mortimer’s there to save him.
With a steel chair.
DING DING DING
Referee Jimmy Turnbull has seen enough. Literally. He missed most of the cheating in the match, but Mort’s steel chair attack on Ivan had been in full view of the referee.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, as a result of a disqualification… the winners of this match… IVAN STANISLAV AND THE PRIME INTENSE CHAMPION…
Vince Howard (undeterred): …THE ANGLOOOOO LUCHADOOOOOOOR!
Mort pays the announcement no heed. He clobbers Ivan in the head with another chairshot. This one rocks the big Russian and actually manages to knock the big man off his feet. Mort raises the chair again.
And brings it down on the fallen Russian.
He raises the chair again.
…And he is stopped, when the Anglo Luchador rips the chair away from Mort. Disarmed, Mort spins around to face TAL. TAL greets him with a right cross, sending the masked man from North Dakota (allegedly) onto his back and out of the ring.
Nick Stuart: A vicious attack from Mortimer Knightingale puts an end to this one, folks!
Richard Parker: Mort’s been waiting weeks to do that to Stanislav! You can’t blame him for doing that.
In the ring, TAL checks up on Stanislav, who shrugs him off and slides out of the ring to join Alexei Ruslan out on the floor. Likewise, Tony Gamble has managed to peel himself up off the canvas and roll out of the ring to join an incensed Mortimer on the floor. TAL watches them like a hawk as the referee hands him his championship belt.
Nick Stuart: Well, this was a wild one. You have to think this isn’t over between these four men.
Richard Parker: Nope. And I’m not sure TAL’s gonna want to team with Ivan again any time soon after this one.
Nick Stuart: He definitely was a… rough partner, wasn’t he?
Richard Parker: They should at least learn a safe word for next time.
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Richard Parker: What? What did I say? You should practice safety in your wrestling matches, I’m just saying.
Nick Stuart: I’m saving the lectures for the commercial break.
YOUR PLACE ON THE MOUNTAIN
“So did he just…get a spiral staircase installed for this skybox?”
The Event Horizon leads the way up said spiral staircase, the Risen Star following, cigarette dangling from his lip. Hayes Hanlon wipes his brow.
Nova: It surprised me the first time, too. The physics don’t make a lot of sense.
“Th’physics don’t make any god-damn sense!”
Hayes and Nova peek over the railing at the sound of the beleaguered, gravely voice of Wade Elliott, huffing and puffing his way with each heavy booted step.
Hayes Hanlon: How the hell does Bobby get up here?
Wade catches up, leaning a forearm against the railing and collecting his breath.
Wade Elliott: Gotta be by crane. Or helicopter.
Nova: Teleporter.. Gotta be teleporter.
Eventually, the trio reaches the top of the physics-defying staircase and collects outside the entry. Hayes fixes the rolled-up cuffs on his black button-up. Nova lights up a fresh cig. Wade hacks up a lung into a handkerchief.
Homerun Hayes looks over his shoulders at the veterans flanking him.
Hayes Hanlon: (whispering to himself) This is awesome.
With that, he knocks on the door, stepping back to prepare for anything alongside the Starchild and the Bad Dog.
They wait for an uncomfortable amount of time. Wade swears under his breath. Nova exhales a plume of smoke.
Until finally the door opens, revealing “Beautiful” Bobby Dean. And he is sweating profusely.
Hayes Hanlon: He makes you climb the stairs, huh?
Bobby Dean: (completely out of breath) Every…time…
Regardless, Bobby does his best to invite the guests, swinging his arm wide to offer entry, despite the beads of sweat on his brow and exhaustion on his face. The three walk in cautiously. Jiles’ security detail peppers the skybox, drawing a hard gaze from Wade. Nova jumps as Fred Mayhew materializes out of thin air.
“Read the signs!”
A voice booms from behind a comically large leather chair. Nova, naturally, ignores the “No Smoking” signs that might as well serve as wallpaper.
The COOLympian spins in his chair like a cheap movie villain, fingers steepled and tapping against each other.
Cancer Jiles: Well lookie here, boys. Hayes actually came, and he brought some of his friends, too. How are Curly and Moe doing? Hopefully the walk up didn’t take too much out of you.
A lofty chuckle resonates amongst Camp Bandit.
Camp Hanlon is not as amused.
Hayes Hanlon: Let’s cut the crap, buddy. Why the invitation? I get that these two wouldn’t have the sack for a downstairs visit…
Mayhew struggles with the cap to his Metamucil. Bobby doesn’t respond, mostly because he can still feel his heartbeat in his ears.
Hayes Hanlon: …but you? I’m not buying it. What does make sense, is that you’re afraid I’ll leave you staring at the lights again.
Hayes lifts the corner of his ‘stache into a smirk.
Jiles, from behind the cover of mirror tint, rolls his eyes. Maybe, just maybe, all of the extra time he’s been spending with Mom has caused some of her to rub off on him.
Cancer Jiles: Well, I was hoping you would have come alone. Then, me and the boys were going to jump the shit out of you and throw you over the railing for good measure.
Awkward second of silence.
Cancer Jiles: But, you didn’t, so here we are. Besides, it’s not like Mom wouldn’t have somehow caught you anyway… ya know, to ensure her final bullet not end up a dud… or like him.
Jiles points directly into Nova’s time traveled soul.
Wade Elliott: Hell, me’n Nova’d be happy t’step aside an’ watch the kid beat seven shades’ve shit outta ya.
Nova: (nodding in agreement.) Yup, and that way we can make sure Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and the rest of Wonderland do the same.
Mayhew elbows Bobby and mouths “you’re Tweedle Dum.” The Champion makes a move to reply. Hayes, though, confidently speaks over him.
Hayes Hanlon: You heard ‘em, we can get the party started early. Right now, and give the Vegas PRIMEates who’ve been here since ReVival One a send off they deserve.
The crowd massively swoons for Christmas coming early.
Cancer Jiles: Easy there, Young Bull. There is no need to rush. I said this encounter would be a peaceful exchange, and I meant it.
Hayes Hanlon: Pretty sure you already threatened to toss me over the railing, so…yeah. I doubt it.
Cancer Jiles: Like I said, Mom would have somehow caught you.
The Champion snickers.
Cancer Jiles: I was kidding around, Hayes. Jeez. Lighten up. COOLOSSUS awaits for both of us, and I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it. Plus, why fall now, here in Vegas, when the epicenter of the known world awaits?
The crowd boos. Hayes turns an eyebrow to Nova and Wade.
Hayes Hanlon: What are you getting at, Jiles?
Cancer extends his arms out.
Cancer Jiles: The Mountain Top, Hayes. COOLYMPUS.
Confused and narrowed eyes follow.
Cancer Jiles: Well, not the mountain TOP, that’s for me. Only me. But if you play your cards right, maybe there’s a spot somewhere close to the summit. A base camp or something of the sort.
Wade Elliott: If that ain’t horseshit, then I ain’t seen it.
Cancer Jiles: No one’s doubting that, hillbilly.
Hayes Hanlon: Cut the shit. What’s your point? What’s your game?
Cancer Jiles: No game, Young Bull. Just fairness. We walk into the COOLOSSUS Main Event, MY Main Event, and we put on the show of the century. All the fanfare and spectacle that you love so dear. I may even let you have a spot or two. But in the end, I walk out the CHAMPION, and in return, you…
A long pause. Nova nearly eats his cigarette.
Cancer Jiles: …get to be in the Bandits.
The trio lets it soak. Bobby and Mayhew shoot each other confused glances before Hayes steps forward.
Hayes Hanlon: Buddy are you high? Why the hell would I ever agree to that?
Cancer Jiles: BECAUSE THIS MATCH HAS AN ASTERISK ON IT ALREADY!
The COOLympian once again points a hard finger at Nova, the Guest-Referee-to-Be. The Risen Star no-sells, and instead reaches for his pack of cigs.
Cancer Jiles: You’ll never be able to claim that title as long as your smoke-hazed idol is involved! The whole thing should be tossed! But I’m not missing MY Main Event, and if you wanna hang on to any shred of dignity you’ll do the job, Hayes, because you know your buddy is going to do everything to take it from me!
Before Hanlon can bark back, Nova holds him at bay with a hand on his chest.
Nova: I got this one, Hayes.
The Starchild steps forward, tapping out and lighting up a fresh cigarette, much to Cancer’s chagrin, taking a long drag before speaking.
Nova: You know, Jiles, I’ve been around a lot of guys like you. Cheaters. The Untrustworthy.
Another drag, another plume of smoke.
Nova: And what I’ve learned, is that people react based on the kind of person they are themselves.
Cancer’s shades start freezing over.
Nova: Cheaters worry about getting cheated. The untrustworthy think everyone else is untrustworthy.
He flicks the filter, sending a spark to the floor.
Nova: And losers worry about losing.
On that note, the Risen Star flicks the remainder of his cigarette to the floor, exploding in a small firework. Cancer sits back into his chair, growling through grit teeth. Nova turns away, patting Hayes on the shoulder before making way to the staircase.
Cancer, meanwhile, does his best to return focus to Hammerin’ Hanlon.
Cancer Jiles: Cute. Remember this, Hayes, it’s not called Novalossus and it never has been. Nor will it ever be. Not as long as I’m here. Be smart and leave the past behind. There is no reason for your struggle to be for nothing.
The Champion smiles wide like he’s wearing a pearly white bear trap for dentures. Sincere, earnest, and trustworthy are words that shouldn’t come to mind.
Cancer Jiles: Take your rightful place near me, with the Bandits, at the top of the mountain.
Hayes Hanlon: Make no mistake about it, Champ, I intend to. See you at Colossus, buddy.
Hanlon turns away to follow Nova. Wade turns his sharp blue eyes to Bobby and Mayhew, offering an amused grunt before heading to the staircase himself. Beautiful Bobby and the Old Bull turn to Cancer for his reaction.
Jiles remains in his seat, eyes glaring behind his t-shades at the exiting trio.
Cancer Jiles: You will. One way or another.
MEANWHILE, AT THE BACKSTAGE OF JUSTICE…
In the midst of the fallout of the TAL/Ivan vs. the GAS, the camera comes alive backstage as GREAT SCOTT is visibly furious after a loss with his on again, off again friends in the Egg Bandits. He pushes a whole pile of boxes down onto the floor, seething as he yells.
Not talks loudly.
GREAT SCOTT: THIS IS HECKING BULLCRAP HOW DO YOU LOSE A MATCH WITHOUT BEING PINNED I AM GOING TO CALL AN ATTORNEY. CARL BABYLON IS A MENACE AND I AM FURIOUS.
SCOTTZILLA sees the camera and immediately grabs the side of it, pulling it in close to his face. He is breathing uncomfortably heavily.
GREAT SCOTT: CARL I AM A LEGEND AND POSSIBLY A PWA MEGASTAR AGAIN NOW THAT I AM THE YOUNGBLOOD KILLER. I DO NOT HAVE A MATCH AT KOHLSOSSUS WHICH IS CRIMINAL BECAUSE IT IS OUR MANIA BUT REAL AND YOU CANNOT HAVE OUR MANIA WITHOUT GREAT SCOTT.
He shoves the camera backward, nearly toppling the cameraman as he does so.
GREAT SCOTT: IF YOU HAVE ANY GUTS YOU WILL FIGHT ME AT KOHLSOSSUS AND YOU WILL TAKE A SCOTTACANRANA AND THEN ALL WILL BE RIGHT WITH THE WORLD. I DO NOT LIKE LOSING WHEN I AM NOT THE ONE WHO LOST. PREPARE TO FEEL MY BEAR AND MY GLARE YOU JABRONI.
Feeling as though he has successfully done the bare minimum to still make the super show after a busy African American Friday season, he slams down another pallet of boxes and storms away, leaving the hallway in turmoil as the show goes on. I am so sorry everyone. I will be better.
DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD
Instead of going elsewhere, we get a close-up shot of Richard Parker and Nick Stuart at the remains of the broadcast position while the desk is pieced back together around them.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we’re getting word that something’s happening backstage. From the sounds of it, things have broken down once again between Paxton Ray and Jared Sykes.
Richard Parker: Colossus can’t get here soon enough, Nick. These two are going to tear each other apart if they have to wait much longer.
Nick nods to the camera, and it changes perspective.
There is a cacophony of competing voices as a legion of Enemigos tries to keep Paxton and Jared separated. For his part, Sykes appears to be perfectly fine with being escorted away. Not so for the Lafayette Bruiser. Paxton is a mad dog, snarling as he pulls at his chain. The first link is broken as an Enemigo catches the point of an elbow to the side of his head, which gives Paxton just enough space to get his left arm free.
One by one the members of security who surround him are felled, most on the receiving end of a series of violent blows. A few others are sent tumbling as one of their smaller compatriots is turned into a human javelin and thrown at them.
Nick Stuart: He’s like a man possessed! If he gets through that group, then it’ll be bedlam all over again.
Richard Parker: If he gets through that group, Nick, then who’s going to be there to keep these two in check?
The Enemigos around Sykes shift their focus to trying to control Paxton, but he’s a tornado of violence. Enemigos are hit and shoved aside to give him a clear path at his target. Despite what he’s witnessing, and despite all the years of experience that say these situations never end well, Jared doesn’t retreat. Instead he moves to close the distance between them.
A production crate thrown deliberately low clips him in the thigh, which gives Paxton the chance to capitalize. He swings down with his right hand, pairing gravity with momentum to catch Sykes’ just above the ear. He grits his teeth through the mask, the world suddenly buzzing around him.
The next shot comes before he has a chance to blink away the spots he sees, as a left to the body drives the air from his lungs.
Richard Parker: This is gonna be real bad, isn’t it?
Paxton pulls a chair from a nearby stack, and tests its weight. He glances down to where Sykes gasps for air on one knee and flashes a wide grin, all teeth and malice like a shark. There’s a loud crash, and the chair is bent into a perfect L over the back of the Blueberry.
Despite his reputation as a brawler, the way he’s robbing Sykes of his senses and ability to breathe is almost surgical.
Paxton pushes forward, grabbing Jared and twisting as though the two are locked in some strange dance, before he uses the momentum to send his target back first into the door jamb of the conference room. Jared’s body contorts, bending around the frame and spinning into the empty room. Instead of going in after him, Paxton turns his attention towards the camera.
The next thing the audience sees is a nausea-inducing rush of scenery as the cameraman turns and tries to run, the fans now seeing the world through his eyes. There’s a sudden jerk. The camera bobs up and down for a second before it slowly turns. The image vibrates, shaking on the screen as the sinister visage of Paxton Ray pans into view.
Paxton Ray: Y’all are gonna wanna see what’s ‘bout t’happen.
The view spins again, now aimed at the conference room door. We speed towards it, the image bouncing as we advance. Later, the cameraman in question will reveal that he was shoved into that room, and that he wondered whether he would leave it in one piece.
With the cameraman now huddled in the corner, the crowd gets a proper shot of the conference room layout and Jared Sykes leaning against the table and breathing heavy.
Nick Stuart: Is that the same room as…?
Richard Parker: That’s definitely the one, Nick.
The door to the room is slammed shut, and in the far corner of the room, watching all of this unfold through uncaring eyes, El Hijo del Super Cool Guy teeters on his perch.
Richard Parker: I would rather watch a thousand hours of Mega Job instead of what I think we’re about to see.
Sykes grabs the closest thing he can find, and hurls a large speaker phone at his attacker. His aim is wide, and Paxton watches as it sails through the air and shatters against the near wall. He was never in any real danger. A wicked grin crawls onto his face as his left hand reaches back into his pocket.
Paxton Ray: Nice shot. Now lemme try.
The camera catches a glint of silver as he draws the object into his hand.
Jared pushes himself to his feet and turns just in time to be leveled by a thunderous left hand across the brow from a chain-wrapped fist.
Nick Stuart: Where the hell is security?! Why in god’s name are we still broadcasting?!
The first punch doesn’t draw blood, but the links of chain catch in the fabric of the Blueberry mask and carve a gash across the fabric on the right side of Jared’s face. Strands of pink hair fall across his eyes as more of the man underneath is revealed to the world.
The second shot lands, finding purchase in the same spot and now the blood comes in a thick crimson torrent. The blow sends Jared spinning into the table, before he slides to the floor leaving a trail of red on the table behind him.
Paxton unwraps the chain from his hand and flexes the knuckles, seemingly unaffected by the force the impact had on his own hand. He cooly strides to the door, and once he makes sure it’s shut tight, wraps the chain around the handle to prevent anyone from getting in or out.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I need to… I’m sorry. This is… on behalf of PRIME I feel like I need to apologize for what we’re showing right now, and…
Richard Parker: Jesus Christ, is he still trying to stand?
Jared plants a hand on the floor and starts to raise his head. A fountain of blood pours from the wound on his brow, leaving a puddle on the floor where his head rested only a moment ago.
Nick Stuart: God, just… just stay down, Jared. Stay down and maybe this will all be over.
Paxton doesn’t break his stride. As he casually closes the distance between them, he unbuttons his shirt to reveal a tee beneath it with custom lettering. Five words in block letters.
REMEMBER: HE ASKED FOR THIS
Sykes is pulled back to his feet by Paxton, who drives a headbutt into the bridge of his nose. Jared collapses back onto the table top.
The Bayou Butcher takes a moment to scan the environment before his eyes settle on his new toy. In a flash, the left arm of Super Cool Guy is torn from its socket and brandished like a club. With his free hand, Paxton palms the mannequin by the face and drags it over behind him.
Instinct kicks in when the arm is swung for the first time, and Jared tries to raise his hands to deflect the blow. But they’re sluggish, uncoordinated, and the strike slips through without much effort. Then another lands. A third. By the time Paxton swings the arm the fourth time, Jared’s hands don’t even come up to protect himself. The strike connects with his chest, and a gurgling wheeze escapes his lips.
Nick Stuart: Someone get in there and stop this, goddammit!! Break the door down if you have to!
The blow fractures the length of the mannequin’s arm, and splinters it at the elbow. Shards of fiberglass and plastic scatter across the table as Paxton is forced to find a new weapon. The right arm of Super Cool Guy is torn away, and the strikes begin anew.
Paxton Ray: Ever seen someone turn on their tag partner this bad, Jared?
All Jared can do is to weakly try to roll onto his chest, but it’s not enough and it’s certainly not in time to dodge a two-hand swing that obliterates the last arm of Super Cool Guy over his shoulder. Once again the plastic framework shatters on impact, and three deep gouges are torn into Sykes’ back as a result.
Richard Parker: Nick, I swear I’m not trying to be funny right now, but are we witnessing a murder?
The door behind Paxton buckles as a chorus of angry voices gathers on the other side of it. Throwing down the broken hand of the mannequin, he glances over his shoulder and sneers before escalating the situation even further.
Paxton Ray: Not much time left. Let’s make it count.
With a hand around each ankle, the mannequin is torn off the floor. The first swing gets as much of the table as it does Jared, and the blow turns the neck joint into dust. The head of Super Cool Guy skids across the stained wood surface before falling to the floor.
Another strike against the door causes the chain links to clink together. In response, Paxton draws the body of the mannequin back up before swinging down. With every blow more and more of its form breaks away and falls to the floor. By the time the torso has been reduced to dust, Jared’s own body looks like a map drawn in blood. He slides helplessly from the edge of the table and collapses to the floor.
With a leg in each hand, Paxton begins to pound out a drum solo on the fallen, broken body of his enemy.
The door to the conference room thunders again. The wood around the handle cracks, splinters, and then breaks inward. The door flies open. First through are Coral Avalon and Sid Phillips, the latter of which is no doubt the group was able to muscle their way in. Joe Fontaine and Justine Calvin are next, but they’re unable to get far before a horde of Enemigos storm the room.
Nick Stuart: Thank god! Finally, we can get some help!
The masked men surround Paxton, who immediately drops the last bits of the mannequin and puts his hands up. Pushing herself through the fray, Justine weaves her way through the chaos and carving a path for the medical team. The expression she wears is a mixture of concern and anger, the latter blooming into full-blown rage when Paxton tilts his head forward and offers her his chin.
Paxton Ray: Want another shot?
She lunges to her feet, but is caught by a swarm of security members before she can get close. Paxton laughs and walks away, sending one last shot.
Paxton Ray: You wanted the Mud Pits.
Mercifully, we go elsewhere.
BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD vs. ANNA DANIELS
The entire area fades to black, causing the PRIMEates in attendance to steadily come to a hush. After a moment, the beginning guitar notes of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” begin. Nothing comes on the PRIME*view to note exactly who is coming out. Suddenly, a spotlight pierces through the dark pointed to the top on the entrance ramp. Anna Daniels stands there, her profile positioned towards the light. She lets it wash over her while letting the fans get a good look at the merchandise. Finally, she glances at the ring with a small smirk on her face.
As The Muse takes her time heading to the ring, she wistfully observes the goings on around her as if getting into a certain type of groove that only she can hear. Her strolling sways almost like she’s dancing from time to time. Her robe and headpiece–once more regal and dazzling artifacts from her homeplanet–are in various stages of disrepair and utter damage. Anna slaps a hand or two, nods a little to those in attendance. Once ringside, she motions for somebody to take the robe and headpiece which when taken nearly make the poor sap fall over.
She makes her way to the stairs and slinks along the apron, wiping her feet before entering the ring. Immediately after, she nearly chases off the ref in a sudden blur of action before smiling yet again. Casually, she strolls to a corner with her head bopping before perching herself onto the top rope laid out like a French girl people like to paint.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of “Bloodsport (World Domination)” by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain, the fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena exploding in a seismic ovation. There is no pomp, no circumstance, no delay. Through the blinding crimson and white strobing light cutting through the darkness of the arena, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained to the ring, toward Anna Daniels. His expression is devoid of all joy, only offering an oppressive scowl of intensity.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and weighing in tonight at 270 pounds…
There is no walking along the ringside area, no slowdown as the Diamond of the ReVival stomps his way up the steps and into the ring.
Vince Howard: The Last Diamond… BRAAAAAAANDOOOOOOOON YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOD!
Nick Stuart: There’s the opening bell, and this one is underway. This has been a dream match that a lot of people have been wondering about since the first time these two met backstage almost a year ago, and now it’s here!
Richard Parker: And at the start of Daniels-cember, no less!
Nick Stuart: Why are you calling it that?
Richard Parker: Because it’s the greatest month of the year! And for no other reason. Definitely not because I think that family will wrap me in unbreakable chains forged in the heart of a dwarf star, or trap me in the event horizon of a collapsing galaxy, or make sure I only ever appear out of the corner of your eye in the reflection of every mirror.
Nick Stuart: What are you…?
Richard Parker: And I definitely don’t think they’ll make me into a scarecrow and force me to watch over the fields of England forever. Nope, definitely not.
Nick Stuart: …
Richard Parker: ALL HAIL THE KING OF CHRISTMAS!
Despite what the banter between the broadcasters might infer, there is no hesitation here between Anna Daniels and Brandon Youngblood. Daniels closes the distance between them in a hurry, looking to put her considerable speed advantage to use early on. Side by side in the ring, the size disparity between the two is stark. A high feint leads to a basement dropkick, which clips the Diamond just above the knee. It’s enough to take his base away momentarily, and he’s forced to use his hands to brace from falling. Daniels is on him immediately. Shot after shot finds its mark. Rights and lefts to the jaw. An elbow for good measure. And before Youngblood can get back to his full height, a pair of rapid-fire knees from a muay thai clinch land on his face. The second opens a small cut just beneath his left eye.
He answers by stepping into one of her strikes, sending the punch off-target and leaving her wide open for a chop. The chop. It echoes through the arena and sends Daniels staggering back a few feet and down to one knee. She’s back up before Youngblood can draw his next breath, and ducks under a lariat swing that is centimeters away from separating her head from her neck. She pivots behind him, lines up her shot, and delivers an enzuigiri just as he turns. It connects just above his ear, and Youngblood steps away and tries to shake away the ringing sensation.
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels with the advantage in the early going, and if I’m being completely honest, Richard, she might have the overall advantage as well. She’s used to fighting people bigger than she is, and every one of them has had to earn every inch against her.
Richard Parker: Also she’s from space and her husband could kill us all.
Nick Stuart: Whereas I don’t think Brandon Youngblood has been in the ring with someone this fast since the ReVival era began.
There is no pause in the Time Lord’s assault. She hits the ropes and uses the momentum to boost her speed, catching Youngblood under the arm. She spins herself around his back into a headscissors, only to continue the rotation twice more before launching herself straight up, and then down into a satellite tornado DDT.
Nick Stuart: Anna Daniels has been a house on fire since this match started, Richard. She hasn’t given Youngblood a chance to breathe. And we’ve got our first cover of the match…
Elvis Nixon: One!
Richard Parker: I would be stunned if it ended this early, Nick.
Elvis Nixon: Tw-
The kickout is forceful, as Daniels is shoved away from Youngblood. He gets back to his feet, but by the time he’s ready to square up again, the Time Lord has already used the second rope to springboard back towards the Ace. She turns in mid air, but is caught at an awkward angle. The move that follows has no official name, and won’t be found on any pro wrestling or amateur wrestling lists online, but is somewhere between a slam and a suplex. It’s delivered with enough force that the ropes jiggle for a moment before they settle.
Richard Parker: What do you call that one, Nick?
Nick Stuart: I’d call it something that I never want to experience.
Richard Parker: Okay, cool. Because those nerds on Wikipedia removed all the move names from everybody’s page, so I was genuinely curious what the name was.
Youngblood doesn’t give Daniels a chance to get back to her feet, or even escape. He doesn’t release the suplex, and instead uses his size advantage to try and move into a mixed martial arts-style mount. A series of elbows rain down onto the Muse, the point of one catching her just below the hairline and opening up a cut.
Daniels never stops moving, making it harder and harder for Youngblood to try and pin her down. She manages to sneak a leg free, and an upkick catches the Hall Of Famer along the side of his surgically repaired nose, widening the cut under his eye that her knee opened up earlier.
Richard Parker: Okay, real talk – is everyone on this roster trying to kill each other tonight?
Nick Stuart: This has been one of the more aggressive nights of wrestling that we’ve seen this year, Richard, I’ll give you that.
Richard Parker: No, I mean like literal murders. I don’t want to watch murders, because that would make me an accessory.
Nick Stuart: I think there’s a difference with what these two are doing. This match has been brewing for months. It’s only reasonable that neither would hold back here.
Youngblood catches Daniels in a waistlock, looking to take her to the mat in one of many violent suplex variations. Daniels loops her right foot around Youngblood’s calf, preventing him from planting so he can pop his hips for the throw. A headbutt to the back of Anna Daniels’ skull gets her dazed enough to let her defenses fall. The difference in size and power is on full display as Daniels is launched clear across the ring in a throw that sends her almost corner to corner.
Richard Parker: Do we need to start a yeet counter for this match? I’ll go first. One.
Nick Stuart: There was another suplex like two minutes ago.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but he didn’t let go. Wasn’t a yeet. There are rules to this, you know.
But the Muse does not crumble to the canvas in a heap. Instead she over-rotates in the air, landing in an Iron Man-esque three point superhero stance. The momentum is enough that it’s not completely graceful, and she staggers back into the near corner, but only for a second. That’s how long it takes before Daniels is on the attack, and a shining wizard introduces her knee to the face of a still rising Youngblood.
Richard Parker: It’s a Daniels-cember miracle!
Nick Stuart: I’m going to be hearing that all night, aren’t I?
Richard Parker: At least until this match is over, yes.
Daniels is quick to get back on her feet, and charges at Youngblood with a burst of speed before he can stand. Still on his knees, he’s caught by a lightning fast rana that doesn’t flip him onto his back, but instead spikes his face off of the canvas.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood not getting a chance to breathe here in the early going, as a flurry of offense has kept him at bay.
Richard Parker: And now Daniels is lining him up for something.
Nick Stuart: You know, it wasn’t that long ago that Brandon Youngblood claimed there were members of the PRIME roster who would pay to have Anna Daniels punt them, and now it looks like he might get to experience that for free.
Richard Parker: Yeah? Is there a list? Or like a website where I can sign-up for that?
Nick Stuart: Jesus Christ, Richard.
Daniels lines up her target and moves in for the kill, but this time Youngblood is ready. This sort of strike is a hallmark of someone he knows very well, Amy Campbell having used it to finish off opponents during her career. He springs to his feet before Daniels can plant her foot, and catches her around the waist, using her own momentum to add fuel to the spinebuster that follows.
Nick Stuart: A vicious spinebuster bends Anna Daniels in half!
Richard Parker: If, uhh… If her hands and face start glowing orange then I’m going to get the hell out of here.
Nick Stuart: Why would…?
Richard Parker: Do you not know how regenerations work, Nick? Aren’t you supposed to the educated one?!
Youngblood again tries to make the cover, but Elvis Nixon is quick to point out that Anna Daniels’ foot is on the ropes thus rendering it null and void. He draws Daniels to her feet, and a chain of suplexes follows. First is a variation on a belly-to-belly, but delivered in such a way that the Muse arcs diagonally through the air and is snapped to the ground. Without breaking his grip he lifts Daniels off the mat, adjusts the position of his hands, and crushes her with a gutwrench suplex.
Richard Parker: Suplex Daddy earning every bit of that nickname right now.
Nick Stuart: Eventually, I’m going to need you to explain this “daddy” thing to me.
Richard Parker: You know, I think it would be better if you just Google it yourself. Make sure that “safe search” is turned off, and that I’m there to watch.
He again keeps his hands clenched tight, pulling Daniels back up. The third suplex is an overhead belly-to-belly that sends Daniels across the ring. She hits the mat hard, and rolls through into an almost seated position against the buckles. The sweat mixes with the blood from her cut and plasters a mask of hair to her face, but through the strands-
Nick Stuart: I think Anna Daniels is smiling.
Richard Parker: And I am officially terrified.
Nick Stuart: It wasn’t that long ago when she told The Anglo Luchador that she was a veritable deathmatch legend, a fact backed up by her record in promotions around the world, so somehow this doesn’t surprise me. Between that and her openness on Jabber about wanting to leave everything in the ring tonight…
Richard Parker: Don’t say “ring” when she looks like THAT, Nick.
Youngblood prowls to the corner, bringing her back to her feet and landing two clubbing shots in the corner. He draws back for a third.
Anna Daniels steps forward and headbutts him directly on the bridge of his nose. A thunderclap of pain explodes in Youngblood’s head, starting in his forehead and spreading outward. His eyes begin to water, the natural response to a blow like that, and before he can clear his vision his world is suddenly inverted.
Nick Stuart: Poison rana by Anna Daniels! Where the hell is she getting this from?
Richard Parker: She’s a Time Lord. She’s from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. She’s however many years old, and is the person who is apparently going to punt all six billion people on the planet.
Nick Stuart: What is with you tonight?
Richard Parker: Also her dog has a sword, which is one more sword than The Anglo Luchador is allowed to own by law.
Anna is on her feet first, waiting for Youngblood to stand and get his bearings. As soon as he’s up, she plants one foot, and swings the other leg around. It draws a question mark in the air, before the kick lands hard across the Diamond’s jaw. He collapses.
Nick Stuart: Interrobang!!
Daniels also falls to the mat, the physicality taking its toll. Elvis Nixon does his due diligence, checking on both competitors to make sure they can continue. The Muse is slow to get to her feet, and when she finally stands has to take a moment to shake some feeling back into her foot.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Anna Daniels might have tweaked something on that kick.
Richard Parker: If she doesn’t get it sorted quickly, then she’s going to have to deal with, and I’m quoting Youngblood himself here, a “big bastard man.”
Nick Stuart: Appreciate how you had to say it was a quote. Also I think that was Rezin pretending to be Youngblood who said that.
Richard Parker: Look, there have been enough murders tonight. I don’t need to be one of them.
The Time Lord hobbles out of the corner, trying to get to Youngblood before he can regain full use of his faculties. Unfortunately, he’s able to get within grappling range yet again.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood looking to throw…
Richard Parker: Yeet.
Nick Stuart: …Anna Daniels again, but first he’s going to have to cinch in that grip.
The Diamond tries to press his advantage, using his considerable size advantage to attempt to smother Daniels on the canvas while he works to get his arms around the lower part of her torso.
Nick Stuart: We could be seeing a Karelin lift incoming, but Daniels won’t go quietly.
When trying to out-grapple the scrambling Muse fails, Youngblood releases his grip for a moment to deliver three clubbing forearm shots to the base of her neck. He slips his arm in again, locking his hands and powering her off the mat.
She tumbles a short distance to the canvas a moment later. Youngblood releases a growl born of pain and frustration, then brings up his left hand. Fingers are not supposed to bend that way.
Richard Parker: Ew!
Nick Stuart: I think Anna Daniels just managed to dislocate Youngblood’s little finger, which is as good a way as any to get out of that hold.
Richard Parker: Ew ewewewewewewewew!!
Youngblood clenches his teeth. Before Elvis Nixon can make it over to check on him, the Ace sucks in a sharp breath through his teeth. When next we see his hand, the finger is back in place.
Richard Parker: OH GOD WHY DID HE DO THAT!?
Nick Stuart: You have to wonder if that’s going to affect his grip moving forward, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh do I? THAT’S what I have to wonder? How about nope. I saw that happen, Nick. I saw it, and now I have to live with it inside my brain until I die.
Daniels slips an arm around Youngblood’s throat, using her other for leverage as she tries to cut off the circulation flowing to the Diamond’s brain.
Nick Stuart: Shades of The Shotgun as Anna Daniels tries to tighten that rear naked choke. These two have traded bombs tonight, Richard. The question now is can the Time Lord hold on, and what does Youngblood have left in the tank.
Richard Parker: I thought the question was whether or not you’ve been naughty or nice.
Nick Stuart: Why would…?
Richard Parker: We’re in Daniels-cember, Nick! We’ve been over this. Do you have any idea what the King of Christmas puts in the stockings of the naughty?
Nick Stuart: No, I…
Richard Parker: No one does! That’s the point. Those people? They just go silent.
Youngblood claws at the arms of his smaller opponent, trying to break her grip. The throb in his hand from where his finger was dislocated makes it hard to get a hand in.
Richard Parker: Like they’ve been erased from existence.
Elvis Nixon hovers over the pair like a hawk, making sure that Daniels’ grip doesn’t change into something that cuts off Youngblood’s air supply. If he missed that call, it would mean a trip the boss’ office. No one wants to get called into head referee Timo Bolamba’s office around the holidays. Aside from the stern lecture and a review of tape, the whole place just smells like cinnamon and clove scented Powerbomb Cologne (new for the holidays).
Nick Stuart: Youngblood trying to fight out of this choke, but between the damage to his hand and Anna Daniels’ size it’s not proving easy.
Richard Parker: And do you know what happens to the really naughty? Are you at all familiar with the concept of Krampus? Well, it’s like that only…
Nick Stuart: Oh, will you stop with the damn Christmas talk!
Richard Parker: Hey now. I’m just trying to keep the Daniels in Daniels-cember.
If he was in the ring with someone larger, there would be something for Youngblood to grab ahold of, but the size difference means the Muse has the advantage. Youngblood swings behind him with an elbow, and where it would connect on a larger foe it instead finds only empty space.
Richard Parker: Guess what this reminds me of.
Nick Stuart: I swear to god if this is another holiday joke…
Richard Parker: You know how sometimes seals or turtles or whatever get stuck in those plastic soda can rings, and they need someone from Greenpeace to show up and cut the thing off? Kinda like that.
Nick Stuart: That’s… kind of fitting, actually.
A leg snakes around Youngblood’s torso as the world around him starts to lose focus. A second clamps over it, and the hooks are in. But the first champion of the ReVival era won’t be denied. Despite the pressure, a pressure he can’t rid himself of, he still refuses to go out. Sweat and spittle pool together on the canvas as he tries to force himself up to his feet. Unable to find purchase, he uses his body like a battering ram and throws himself back into the nearest corner in an attempt to knock Daniels free.
Nick Stuart: Youngblood throwing his weight around – literally, in this case – but Anna Daniels will not let go.
If anything, she tightens her grip. Around his neck her arms are like a garotte, depriving him of his senses. He drives them both back again, harder this time, and for a moment there’s a brief respite as her arms loosen. But only for a moment. When she tightens again it’s like an anaconda coiling around its prey.
Richard Parker: You know, “rocked gently to sleep by an alien punt goddess” is at the top of my Daniels-cember wish list, too.
Nick Stuart: I’m not dignifying that with a comment.
Richard Parker: I mean technically you just kinda did, though.
Youngblood pushes himself up and heaves his body back into the corner again. This time the back of his head collides with the bridge of Daniels’ nose, sending her world into a star-filled haze. The pair stagger out of the corner, Youngblood barely able to keep his feet. Instinct takes over when Daniels gets too close on wobbly feet.
Nick Stuart: Randallplex! Anna Daniels has been folded in half!
Richard Parker: The big guy doesn’t look so hot either.
Both competitors are down, each one trying to reclaim a tenuous grip on their surroundings. After checking on each, Elvis Nixon begins his count.
Elvis Nixon: One!
Nick Stuart: Youngblood was in that choke for a long time, Richard.
Elvis Nixon: Two!
Nick Stuart: Conditioning will get you so far, but struggling against something like that for so long has to take a toll on you.
Elvis Nixon: Three!
Richard Parker: You have to wonder what’s going through his head during all that.
Elvis Nixon: Four!
Richard Parker: Shades of Phil Atken. Can’t be a good memory. Or maybe not a shade. Maybe a shadow. Like the Vashta Nerada.
Elvis Nixon: Five!
Anna Daniels rolls on to her side. Her arm gently rises and falls from the canvas like she’s reaching for something, anything to help pull her up.
Elvis Nixon: Six!
Richard Parker: Kinda looks like she’s petting an invisible dog.
Nick Stuart: Looks to me like she’s searching for the ring ropes.
Elvis Nixon: Seven!
Youngblood rolls onto his chest and grimaces as he tries to get his hands under him.
Elvis Nixon: Eight!
He begins pulling himself towards the bottom rope, the throb in his finger making the effort all the more painful. He throws an arm over the rope, and reaches to start to pull himself up.
Elvis Nixon: Nine!
Anna Daniels has managed to get to her knees, and in a last ditch effort lunges for the ropes on her side of the ring. She doesn’t get very high, her shoulder only coming up to the second rope before rebounding back to the canvas.
Across from her, Youngblood has one arm draped over the middle rope, but the bulk of his body is still fighting to get off the mat.
Elvin Nixon: Ten! That’s it! Ring the bell!
Ding ding ding
The crowd reaction is predictable. These are two wrestlers who have spent the better part of the year paying their respect to one another: the Ace and the New Era. They wanted a winner. If nothing else, they wanted more time.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, on account of neither wrestler being able to answer the ten-count, the referee has ruled this match a no contest!
Again the boos rain down.
Nick Stuart: Well fans, I don’t know what to say. I know that this result doesn’t put to bed any of those “who would win” questions that we’ve all fantasy booked, but if nothing else this just makes me want to see these two go at it again.
Richard Parker: Fantasy booking? Are you pretending to be a wrestler on the internet, Nick?
Nick Stuart: What? No.
Richard Parker: Because that would be weird. And I mean real weird.
Nick Stuart: It’s just an expression!
COMMERCIAL: HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING
I COME IN PEACE
The broadcast’s normal plans are interrupted by a man dressed in black with a black hoodie over his face walking down to the ring. There’s no theme music to accompany him, he seems to be on a mission and he already has a mic in hand.
Nick Stuart: That’s Darin Zion!
The man lowers his hoodie once he slides into the ring while pacing around. It is indeed Darin Zion.
Darin Zion: I’m tired of being the butt end of jokes and not taken seriously. I’m angry that I got suspended on Jabber. I’m sick of HOW. I’m sick of PRIME. I’m sick of wrestling!
The crowd boos Zion but he keeps powering through.
Darin Zion: But most of all… I’m sick of two people… two owners. One isn’t with this company, so I’ll deal with his blocking ass later but the other one revived PRIME.
Zion rolls a frustrated hand through his wavy blonde hair.
Nick Stuart: We’re seeing a different side of Zion.
Richard Parker: I like it!
Darin Zion: Lindsay Troy. You had no right to have me and my best friend face Brandon Youngblood and Nate Colton last show. All Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie wanted was to express true love… REAL LOVE…
Zion points into the apron camera.
Darin Zion: And you’re jealous of that!
Darin is fuming. He’s barely able to speak again so he takes a moment to try a calm walk around the ring. It works a little bit.
Darin Zion: And you place bullshit restrictions on them. They can’t appear within ten feet of each other on PRIME TV so why would they even bother showing up!? They aren’t here tonight because of this.
Nick Stuart: Thank god.
Richard Parker: Speak for yourself! They’re better than the champs we have!
Darin Zion: But I am. And I’m calling out the King of Popsicles. We don’t have to wait until Colossus!
Zion’s anger morphs into a reckless expression as he stares at the entrance.
Nick Stuart: I’m not so sure Darin knows what happened to Jared Sykes – King Blueberry – earlier tonight.
As the announcer suggests, Darin likely isn’t aware. Regardless, DZ’s not moving until he gets someone.
It doesn’t take long, but Justine Calvin appears from behind the curtain. No theme music plays her out, either, although she receives a strong reception from the fans. She marches to the ring, her eyes never leaving Darin Zion. This is a trap, of course it is. She knows as much. With her partner currently in the care of the PRIME medical staff, there’ll be no one to have her back if things go sideways. She knows this, too.
And she doesn’t care.
Nick Stuart: Honestly, we should get security out here. We’ve seen what the Hall’s and Zion have done to Justine Calvin and Jared Sykes a number of times now. Also I’m sure she’s not going to hold back on Zion.
Right before Justine reaches the apron, Zion throws an arm up and takes numerous steps away from the edge of the ring.
Darin Zion: Whoa! You got me wrong, I didn’t want to fight. I want to talk.
Zion adds a clever grin.
Darin Zion: Fighting and losing your titles hmmm… that can wait until Colossus.
Justine isn’t having any of it. She slides into the ring, hands already balled into fists.
Richard Parker: She doesn’t want to talk.
Nick Stuart: And why would she? After all they’ve done to her and the King.
She cocks back a fist, as if she’s ready to plant it on Darin’s face. This ignites the crowd as Zion scurries into the ropes on the other side of the ring. Gone is the anger and passion Zion displayed earlier. Now he’s much more subdued.
It’s still a very different side of Darin… and Justine isn’t sure how to take it when Zion holds his arms in the air, as if surrendering. He walks to the center of the ring and falls on his knees. For her part, you don’t need a microphone to understand what she says:
Justine Calvin: You’ve got ten fucking seconds.
Darin Zion: I’m sorry.
Nick Stuart: I’m sorry, what?
Mic still in hand, Darin can barely hold onto it as a tear rolls down his face.
Darin Zion: I’m fucking terrible, okay? I haven’t won a singles match here, I got pinned two weeks ago. No one fucking wants me. I’m sorry for everything. You win; I’m done.
Nick Stuart: He can’t be serious, can he? Ten seconds ago he said he was going to win their Tag Titles!
However, Zion looks serious.
Darin Zion: I’m leaving wrestling, the match is off. Lindsay Troy really is a narcissist but she’s a winning narcissist because Darin Zion is finished.
With his free hand, Zion digs into his back pocket and pulls out a handheld wooden block…
With a rusty nail on the end of it.
Nick Stuart: You’re kidding…
Zion drops the mic but still gives directions.
Darin Zion: Do it.
Nick Stuart: Of course she’s not going to do it.
Darin eyes the object and then Justine.
Darin Zion: Do it.
All the memories come flooding back at once. The nail an inch from her eye, threatening to blind her permanently and end her career after only a few short months. The same nail finding purchase in the chest of her partner. A spray of crimson. Blood on her hands. Chocolate pouring out of the wound.
Her heart rate starts to rise. Her mouth goes dry. The same panic she felt at home so many weeks ago now comes bubbling back up to the surface.
Zion completely lets his guard down.
Darin Zion: Hell, the whole rusty nail idea was mine to begin with.
But before she can even contemplate these words, another man dressed in all black slides into the ring. The crowd catches on fast, trying to warn Justine.
Nick Stuart: It’s Jonathan-Christopher!
Hall races towards her, revealing a steering wheel in his hands. He raises it high above his head with both arms, sprinting towards her-
Instinct kicks in, and Justine dodges out of the way. The steering wheel crashes right into Darin Zion.
The fans are electric as Calvin hits the ropes and spears Hall out of his boots! It’s not clean. There’s no precision to it. It’s pure, primal. She begins unloading on the lovestruck wrestler.
Nick Stuart: Finally, JC and Zion are getting what they deserve-
She falls to the mat in a heap when another figure in black, covered in a black hood, enters the ring and smashes a bouquet of roses in a glass vase over her head.
Nick Stuart: That’s got to be Tristan-Crispin-…?
However, when the figure stands, everyone realizes he’s way too short to be TCG.
Nick Stuart: Wait a second!
Jonathan-Christopher reaches out for the figure in black’s hand but it’s slapped away before this person scurries the hell out of the ring and through the crowd.
Nick Stuart: It’s almost as if that person wasn’t allowed to be within certain feet of another…
Richard Parker: We don’t know that! It could’ve been anyone! Brandon Youngblood, even.
Nick Stuart: BRANDON Youngblood???
Richard Parker: Okay, okay, Nate Colton.
For now, it doesn’t matter. Jonathan-Christopher is unloading stomp after stomp on Justine. Zion tried to shake the cobwebs off and then he finds the steering wheel. His demeanor has changed from the humbled, disheartened man we saw a few minutes ago.
Zion smacks the wheel.
Darin Zion: HONK.
He’s back to the same Darin Zion.
Hall delivers a pile driver to Justine.
Darin Zion: HONK!!!!!
Followed by The Vow of Virtue lifting her up and connecting with his finisher, the inverted double underhook face buster, Stand By Me.
Zion wiggles over to the fallen Calvin. He takes a knee beside her and holds the steering wheel to her face.
Darin Zion: HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK…
It’s never ending.
The crowd boos the ever living hell out of this until Zion stops.
Because he sees the wooden bar with a rusty nail on the end of it.
In a trance, DZ places the steering wheel on the canvas. He methodically walks over to the wooden/rusty metal object and picks it up.
Nick Stuart: Darin, no. Just… just no.
Hall watches on in amusement as Darin approaches her again. He leans forward and lifts her head up, holding the rusty nail inches from her face.
Darin Zion: After Colossus, I’ll make everyone show me the respect I deserve. I’ll never be a joke again. No more excuses.
Zion tosses the nail aside and takes hold of the steering wheel. He adds a final, methodical word.
Darin Zion: HOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK!!!!!!!.
With that, 2Become1 stand in the middle of the ring to a chorus of boos while a few EMTs run down to check on Justine.
Nick Stuart: Darin Zion and for that matter Jonathan-Christopher Hall better indeed have their A Game at our A Event or else they’ll be licking their wounds and playing victims again let me tell you.
Richard Parker: I’m not so sure. They continue to outplay the champions. They’re a legit threat!
ReVival goes elsewhere.
PATIENT ZERO FOR BAD VIBES
The chyron at the bottom of the screen tells us we’re backstage, but that brings up specific imagery. Cinder Blocks, concrete, fluorescent tube lights, the odd locker or attendant milling about. This is something very, very different–the only lighting is from a salt lamp and a large collection of candles. The walls are all covered in hanging tapestry. Incense is burning. And the floors have been, wall to wall, covered in carpets, rugs, mats, and circular meditation pillows.
And in the center of it all, the nucleus. The Bodhisattva. Sage Pontiff, his body in a perfect lotus position, some manner of paisley shirt upended all the way up so that he’s visible from clavicle to treasure trail.
Sage Pontiff: Namaste, willkommen, wanshang hao. You are now in a space of healing. You are now in a space of ascension. You are now in the presence of the Bodhisattva, and you are welcomed with the most open of arms. The most open of hearts. Feel my frequency and feel your own frames resonate with it, friends. I have converted one of the unused backstage rooms into a place of tranquility, into something almost womblike. A cocoon, where those afflicted with the malaise of the modern world can come and…release.
He smiles and nods his head in a respectful bow. When he comes back up, he raises a finger, as if he’s making a point.
Sage Pontiff: Release is such a big word–and I don’t mean in size, right? I mean in connotation. Like, think of the meanings. Think of the weight of it, my friends. You may seek release from the worries of the world in this space. You may seek release from the chains of capitalism. But most of all, what I have seen? Is people seeking release from pain that they cannot escape. Pain that they cannot let go of. They need to simply…release.
He holds out a clenched fist. It is tight, so much so that the tendons and vascularity of his arms are approaching topographical map levels of definition–and then he lets his hand open wide. His muscles slacken. On his palm, he has drawn in sharpie an eye and the words “you are forgiven”.
Sage Pontiff: It’s as easy as that. Release. Let go. Because that pain, that hatred, that self doubt, are simply poisons aiming to ruin your life–and the lives of those around you. That’s the thing about infection. It has to spread. Why be a patient zero for bad vibes and damaging vibrations? Why reduce the world around you, drain its natural vibrant coloring and joyous song? We–
Sage slowly contorts his body to look towards the one available doorway, the place the sound emanated from. Every available wall being covered in tapestries does limit one’s visibility, but…Nothing. He knows better, though. His eyes slowly browse the room until settling upon a dimly lit corner. Unfolding himself to his feet, he begins to pace towards the corner, attempting to look calm and curious–but his slow pace and hesitant posture betray him. He makes it to the corner, grasping a tapestry showing the Tree of Life, and pulls it to the side to reveal…nothing. Breathing a sigh of relief, he turns…and stands face to face with Ria Lockhart!!
Sage Pontiff: Ria, I–
Without giving him even a half a second to continue, Ria bursts forward with a Zinedine Zidane headbutt right into Sage’s mouth!! His head snaps back, and he drops to one knee before popping back up, telegraphing a right hook in response–but Ria scouts it, drops low, and sends him flipping with a stiff kick to the side of the knee that takes both his legs out from under him!! Sage lands hard and awkward, sprawled amidst the pillows and rugs, and he begins to crawl away almost immediately…and Ria lets him. As he gets to the doorway, pulling himself to his feet, frantically shoving wall coverings out of the way and trying to find the handle, she gets a two step running start. She leaps. And she kicks him square in between the shoulder blades so hard that he busts through the door and lands in the hallway in a heap! Shouting is heard as he tries to stand up, his nose well and truly busted, his mouth and chin coated in blood! Ria steps into the light and pounces on him, grabbing his arm and fighting him to wrench on a Kimura! Sage’s muscles tighten as he screams, trying to fight her off–and then building security descends on the two of them, starting to separate them from one another!!
Finally, they do, two men holding Ria by the shoulders as another two are interposed between her and the bleeding figure of Sage Pontiff. Lockhart is not having any of that, and seems to be actively fighting the guards holding her–and breaks free!! Ria rushes forward, shoulder blocking one of the security into the other, and pounces on Sage, peppering him with blows!! He doesn’t even get a chance to cover up before all four of the guards get a hold of Ria and peel her off, dragging her down the hallway in a struggling ruckus. The camera pans over to Sage, laying on the floor. Bloodied. Beaten. Breathing heavily.
And wearing the calm, beautiful smile of the Buddha.
DUSK vs. NOVA
The lights cut out in the arena, and a stormy sky appears on the video screen.
Vince Howard: Coming to the ring first, he is a PRIME Hall of Famer…
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.”
Vince Howard: He is The Risen Star…
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.
Vince Howard: The Starchild… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVAAAAAAAAAA!
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.
Richard Parker: That’s the real Universal Champion right there.
Nick Stuart: I believe Cancer Jiles would have something different to say about that.
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.
Richard Parker: Screw that blonde jerk. IT’S NOVA!
The lights stay down this time.
Vince Howard: ANNNNNNND his opponent.
Scenes of Dusk’s career in PRIME begin flashing across the PRIMEView.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring from Los Angeles, California and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…DUUUUUUUUUUUSK!!!!
The lights dim, there is a long pause. Just as the crowd grows restless, fireworks explode all around the MGM-Grand Arena and “Death Grip” by Watt White engulfs the arena in sound.
And I’m fire
From the backstage area emerges “The Lost Soul” Dusk, who looks ready for a fight. He stands at the top of the ramp and looks out at the fans, many of whom are on their feet and chanting his name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: It’s hard to believe that Dusk and Nova have spent so long in the same promotion and have never faced each other in a PRIME ring.
Richard Parker: Absolutely Nick, and this arena is shaking for the first match between the two men and the last match in the MGM Grand.
The Lost Soul makes his way down the ramp, extending his arms and high-fiving the fans along the aisle.
Nick Stuart: What a fitting way to go out, two PRIME legends, the last match at the MGM, the last televised match of Dusk’s career. How do you beat that?
Richard Parker: I mean, I could think of a few ways. Hoyt could be here, Violence Jack, Julian Bathory and Messiah…
Nick Stuart: Shut up Richard.
Timo Bolamba finishes checking over both competitors and calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And here we go.
The Hall of Famer and Dusk immediately begin circling each other, the crowd is on their feet and begin chanting.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Nick Stuart: The atmosphere here is incredible.
Dusk takes a moment holding out his hand to soak it all in. The two once again go back to circling, and collide in the center of the ring with a collar and elbow tie up. Dusk transitions to a hammerlock, Nova reverses, Dusk reverses back, Nova reverses back, Dusk fakes the same reversal but manages to stop Nova’s quick reversal attempt with a hip toss. Nova lands on his feet. Nova tries to hip toss Dusk, but Dusk also flips all the way through and lands on his feet, he grabs Nova’s arm and executes a perfect arm drag taking Nova down to the mat.
Nick Stuart: What an exchange!
Richard Parker: How old are these guys again? That was great.
Dusk wrenches in a headlock but Nova manages to get to his feet, he sends Dusk running into the ropes, Dusk comes back and Nova leapfrogs over. Dusk comes off the other ropes and Nova ducks his head, Dusk flips over Nova and brings him over for a sunset flip. Nova’s shoulders barely hit the mat before he rolls all the way through coming back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Wow.
Richard Parker: What’s Nova doing?
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Nick Stuart: Showing sportsmanship and respect, Richard. Foreign concepts to you, we know.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nova stands in the center of the ring, arm outstretched in a show of respect. Dusk accepts it, smiling as he gets to his feet. The two men exchange a small hug before separating from each other once again.
Richard Parker: Why would you do that!?
The two men take a moment and start circling once again. They go back to the center of the ring with another collar and elbow tie up. Nova pushes on Dusk, managing to march him back near the corner. Dusk pushes back, and manages to march Nova back across the ring. Nova tries to spin, but Dusk drops to the mat and sends Nova down with a drop toe hold. Dusk rolls through right up to his feet.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
It’s Dusk’s turn to stand in the center of the ring, this time with his hand outstretched and a smirk on his face. Nova grins and gets to his feet with the help of Dusk.
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Nick Stuart: Ha! That’s great.
Richard Parker: Wake me up when we get to wrestling.
The two men nod at each other and stare across for the third time, and continue the same way as before. They come together, collar and elbow tie up, Dusk with a hammerlock, Nova steps back and counters into a side headlock. Dusk sends Nova into the ropes, Nova comes back looking for a flying forearm. Dusk ducks under and hits the ropes himself, Nova pops back to his feet just in time to Matrix bullet time dodge a big clothesline attempt. Dusk hits the ropes and Nova goes for a dropkick but Dusk grabs the ropes as Nova crashes to the mat.
Nick Stuart: These two can’t seem to catch one another in the ring.
Richard Parker: Of course not! They don’t even want to!
Dusk comes off the ropes, hopping over Nova who kips up right after Dusk steps over. Dusk comes off the ropes with a head of steam and Nova, on his way up swings a rising clothesline just as Dusk swings one of his own. The two men collide with each other’s arms and both go sprawling to the mat.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: What a collision in the center of the ring.
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Richard Parker: FINALLY!
Both men are down, and Timo stands in the ring awestruck for a moment. They crawl towards the same corner and start getting to their feet. As they get to their knees, Dusk smashes Nova’s head off of the middle turnbuckle. Once. Twice. Three times.
Nick Stuart: Dusk is done with the pleasantries!
Richard Parker: He wants a fight!
Nova looks up mildly shocked and dumbstruck. Dusk shoves Nova, who smiles and smashes him across the face with a forearm. Dusk fires back, Nova returns fire, Dusk lets another one rip as he makes his way to his feet. Nova follows and unloads with a haymaker, Dusk staggers and lets fly with a right hand.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nova fires off another right, then a left, then a right.
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Dusk blocks a left and fires back with a right, then another right, then another right, he drives Nova all the way back to the corner. His last right hand sending Nova sprawling into the corner. The elder statesmen of PRIME runs to the far corner, and comes sprinting in with a huge splash. He immediately runs back to the corner, colliding with the turnbuckles and sprints back out, hitting Nova with a helluva kick.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Richard Parker: Nova’s going to be seeing stars! He might not make it to Colossus!
Dusk grabs Nova from his seat on the middle turnbuckle around the waist and drags him from the corner. He smashes him to the canvas with an overhead northern lights suplex. Nova skitters across the ring and Dusk goes to the corner, fired up. He assumes the same position as he did with Larry Tact, yanking down on the top rope.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: He might be telegraphing too much here!
Nick Stuart is never wrong, as Nova stumbles to his feet Dusk comes across the ring and fires off a superkick but Nova manages to slide underneath it. He pops back to his feet in one fluid motion and grabs Dusk around the waist. He lurches back and smashes Dusk to the canvas with a german suplex. Nova manages to maintain waist control and pulls Dusk back up, dead lifting him from the canvas and tossing him over his head for a second german suplex.
Richard Parker: Shades of Brandon Youngblood!
Nova keeps control and gets to his feet again, lifting Dusk up. Grandpa PRIME furiously kicks his legs this time and Nova has to put him down to reset. Dusk spins around and absolutely floors Nova with a discus forearm. Both men collapse to the canvas, but Dusk manages to drape his arm across Nova’s chest.
Nick Stuart: Desperation pinfall attempt for Dusk!
Richard Parker: You aren’t going to finish a Hall of Famer off like that!
Dusk flops over, breathing heavily and grabbing the back of his neck. He begins to make his way to his feet as Nova does the same. The two men make it back to standing at the same time and Dusk throws a wobbly forearm at Nova which connects. Nova stumbles backwards, bouncing off the ropes and smashing Dusk with a wobbly forearm of his own. Dusk comes off the ropes and Nova kicks him in the stomach and plants him to the canvas with a double arm DDT. Nova falls to his knees and lays himself across Dusk while Timo slides in.
Nick Stuart: And you aren’t going to take Dusk down like that either Richard!
Nova slowly gets to his feet, and drags Dusk with him. Nova once again grabs Dusk around the waist, but Dusk fires off an elbow to Nova’s midsection that causes Nova to pause. Nova tries to life Dusk into the air but Dusk fires off another desperation elbow that catches Nova in the midsection doubling him over. Dusk goes for a stomp, but Nova is quick to move out of the way and grabs Dusk around the midsection, planting him to the canvas with a corkscrew cradle suplex.
Richard Parker: IN-NOVA-TOR!
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Nova hooks both legs of Dusk this time as Timo slides in for the count.
Nick Stuart: Dusk won’t quit!
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nova, frustrated, slaps his hands off the mat as he gets to his feet. He begins to drag Dusk up, who manages to smash Nova with a european uppercut staggering him backwards, Nova comes off the ropes again and Dusk plants Nova with a superkick!
Nick Stuart: SUPERKICK! SUPERKICK! DUSK CAUGHT HIM!
Richard Parker: I think I saw Nova’s tooth end up in the third row!
Dusk collapses on top of Nova again while Timo slides in.
Nick Stuat: HE WAS SO CLOSE!
Dusk is frustrated now, and he pounds the canvas as he makes his way to his feet. He grabs Nova by the skullet and pulls him up, Dusk bounces off the ropes going for another superkick but Nova manages to duck under and gets Dusk up into the fireman’s carry position. Dusk kicks his legs wildly, and starts throwing elbows into Nova’s face. Nova falls with Dusk to his side, dumping him on his head with a regular Death Valley Driver.
Richard Parker: BOURBON FOR BREAKFAST!
Nick Stuart: HE DIDN’T GET ALL OF IT RICHARD! DUSK IS ALREADY MOVING!
Nova flips Dusk over, thinking he got him and hooks both legs. Timo slides in.
Dusk rolls around on the mat clutching at his head as Nova wobbles his way back to his feet. He shakes his head looking down at Dusk and grabs Dusk by the gray hair and lifts him up. He lifts Dusk up onto his shoulders, and this time in the fireman’s carry position Dusk can’t fight. The angle is correct. Everything is right. Dusk is driven emphatically into the canvas.
Nick Stuart: HE GOT ALL OF THAT ONE! BOURBON FOR BREAKFAST!
Richard Parker: I knew this guy Benny…he loved bourbon for breakfast…
Just to be sure, Nova sprawls across Dusk, planting both knees on his shoulders and pulling both legs up over Dusk’s head.
DING DING DING!
NOVA! NOVA! NOVA!
Nova falls to the mat, checking on Dusk who is responsive, nodding his head. Dusk holding his head, the two men share a smile. Timo goes to raise Nova’s arm, but he points to Dusk, the two men help Dusk to his feet.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVAAAAAAAAAA!
Both men raise Dusk’s hand in the air, but then Nova points to the PRIME*View where it’s lit up with an image.
Dusk’s eyes turn as big as saucers as the PRIMEates cheer and clap loudly. Nova lets go of Dusk’s hand and starts clapping as well, then holds out his hand for a shake, which The Lost Soul accepts.
Another resounding cheer from the PRIME Faithful who begin cheering the new Hall of Famer’s name.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
The two men stand in the ring and smile as ReVival fades elsewhere.
THE FINAL OPPONENT
ReVival 20 has come and gone.
We’ve seen The Anglo Luchador get revenge on Tony Gamble.
We’ve seen Cancer Jiles try to coerce Hayes Hanlon into joining the eGG Bandits.
We saw Melvin Beauregard return, even though none of us asked for that.
We saw Anna Daniels try to sell blood-covered items.
We saw Paxton Ray destroy King Blueberry.
We saw our main event come and go.
And, we saw the first member of the PRIME Hall of Fame class of 2022 get inducted.
Yet, in the deepest recesses of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, for the final time ever, we see Lindsay Troy in her arena office. Most of the roster have gone home, their final two week break before Colossus in Madison Square Garden beginning now.
Wade Elliott is sitting on the edge of her desk, facing her. There seems to be an exhausted look on Lindsay’s face, probably from having to deal with Sonny Silver AND Melvin all on the same night.
We can definitely say Lindsay Troy is NOT the problem.
A sigh escapes her lips as she sits back in her chair.
Lindsay Troy: If it’s Jiles, you have my permission to maim him.
Wade Elliott: No offense, but don’t need yer permission fer that.
Wade stands up and makes his way to the office door, opens it, and pauses as he looks at the man on the other side of the door.
Wade Elliott: Well, shit. Think this one’s all you, Lindsay.
He steps aside and standing there is The Lost Soul, fresh off his final ReVival match. Lindsay looks up and nods her head.
Lindsay Troy: Yeah, this one makes sense. Come on in, Mister Hall of Famer.
Dusk, dressed in a pair of dark blue jeans and white linen button-up shirt, enters the office and sits down in the chair next to the ‘Bama Bruiser. Wade takes a seat in a chair next to him.
Wade Elliott: Helluva fight t’night, Craig, an’ congrats on the Hall. Sure you still wanna hang ‘em up?
Dusk: More serious than a night of drinking with you.
Wade Elliott: Say no more.
Dusk then looks over at Lindsay and smiles.
Dusk: Hey LT.
Over the past year, the two have exchanged very few words with one another. Once, when she had to separate him from Larry Tact before Great American Nightmare and the second a few days later when she offered him his final tour with PRIME.
Those conversations were rather short, much like this one will be.
Lindsay Troy: Alright, here’s the deal. I gave you three names on a list for your ReVival matches. But for the grand finale…
The Queen of the Ring opens up the desk’s top left draw and takes out a folded piece of stationary. She hands it to Craig with a smirk.
Lindsay Troy: …I’m gonna let you pick who you want. They’ve all agreed ahead of time, it’s just up to you now.
Craig looks at the piece of paper and his brow furrows slightly.
Dusk: #3 on this list, are they really going to do it?
Lindsay nods her head.
Dusk: Interesting. Very interesting.
He looks through the list a bit further and tilts his head to the side.
Dusk: I’ve got to say, this is an impressive list. But…
Lindsay Troy: But? But what?
Dusk: Well, these names are great, but if I get to pick, then the name that I want at Colossus isn’t on this list. I appreciate the effort you’ve put into this though, seriously. These are all phenomenal names.
An incredulous look crosses Troy’s face, and she can’t help but laugh in bewilderment.
Lindsay Troy: Look, if you want Rayne, I’ll give you his number and you can make that call yourself. Otherwise, I’m at a loss as to who else you could possibly want to face that isn’t on that list.
Dusk: Not interested in Tyler either.
Lindsay Troy: Well, then, I give up. Who is it so I can start making some phone calls.
Dusk: Well, it will be the easiest phone call of your life.
He then looks over at Wade.
Dusk: Though, it would be easier if you call.
Lindsay Troy: Oh for Christ’s sake, Red Eyez, out with it already.
He looks back over at LT and smiles.
Dusk: There’s only one person that I would want to close my career out on. You.
Both Wade’s and Lindsay’s eyes widen, and the Queen does a little double-take.
Lindsay Troy: Wait, what? Why?
Dusk: Because, there is no name more synonymous with PRIME. There is no one around that I’ve been around more than you, across PRIME and TEAM and LoC. There’s been few constants in my life, Lindsay, and that’s you.
Lindsay Troy: I mean…
It’s rare that she’s at a loss for words.
Lindsay Troy: …Craig, I’m flattered, really, but I can’t–
Dusk: I get it. You’re the boss here. How would it look for the boss to be stepping into the ring at the biggest show of the year? It’s just that you gave me a choice, and I figured I would tell you that you’re the only person I would want to truly close my career out. If we can’t, then we can’t.
He then rises from his chair.
Dusk: I guess my career is done, then. Closing it out on Nova is pretty amazing. Not as amazing as it could have been. I’ve got no regrets though. This was… surreal.
Lindsay Troy: …Are you seriously trying to guilt trip me right now?
He then smiles and shakes his head.
Dusk: We both know that would never work on you. I really appreciate you doing this for me, Lindsay. It’s probably the nicest thing you’ve ever done for me, outside of not bringing up that Cozen thing ad nauseam.
He looks over at Wade.
Dusk: Take care, brother. Happy to see how well you’re doing now.
He then looks back at LT.
Dusk: Take it easy. You’re doing a great job.
He then walks to the door, exits, and closes it behind him. Wade watches him walk out and when he looks back at Lindsay, she’s looking down at the desk with her forehead in her hands.
Wade Elliott: Well, didn’t see that comin’. What’re ya thinkin’?
Lindsay shakes her head and is silent for a time. A few moments pass before she leans back in her chair and looks up at the ceiling.
Lindsay Troy: I pitched the final run to him. I gave him the choice for Colossus.
She sighs, then locks eyes with Wade, her expression softening.
Lindsay Troy: How am I gonna say no now?