FADE FROM VOID
There is none of the regular bombast and intensity to open the twenty-third installment of ReVival.
Instead, as the feed fades in from a long, sustained image of VOID, we open on a tight shot of a filth-encrusted hand strumming down the strings of an acoustic guitar.
In the corner of the guitar’s body, there is Woodie Guthrie-style writing that reads: THIS MACHINE KILLS NORMIES.
“This one goes out to an ol’ friend who couldn’t be here tonight.”
The hands begin strumming the guitar again, going straight into a song. A simple yet somewhat somber four-chord movement that repeats itself endlessly. Some arguably less-cultured and degenerate fans of the punk rock musical genre might recognize it as the work of a one GG Allin.
In any case, the shot begins to slowly and methodically zoom out. After a beat, the guitarist is revealed in full…
It’s the great usurper himself. The newly crowned PRIME Universal ANTI-Champion. The prognosticator of the “Punk Rock Induced Mass Extinction”. The untimely END of all things as we know it.
Rezin smirks at the camera the moment his sinister, scruff-lined face comes into the frame. The headset mic he’s wearing picks up his ear-grating rasps as he launches into the first verse.
Rezin: ♫Well, you want me to kiss your ass?♫
♫Bend over, buddy, here comes my foot.♫
♫I don’t need your cry-ass shit.♫
♫Temper’s risin’, take a fist.♫
His singing voice is everything you’d expect it to be. Fortunately for him, its original author was hardly a dulcet voice himself.
The shot continues to zoom out. Rezin is seated somewhere… but it’s still unclear as to where. Both the sounds of the guitar and his voice cast a heavy reverb not unlike that of a sports arena’s public address system.
Rezin: ♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum…♫
♫Bite it, ya scum.♫
The snail-paced zoom continues to reveal more of his surrounding area. The Goat Bastard is perched on a concrete ledge. Behind him, we can barely see rows of seated spectators on the mezzanine level.
Rezin: ♫Well, you want me to contribute.♫
♫All I got is blood for you.♫
♫All ya want is more and more.♫
♫Gluttony, ya pig, ya whore.♫
The crane-mounted camera backs far enough away to show Rezin sitting on the edge of the upper level of the Smoothie King Center.
The arena is packed to the brim with thousands of wrestling fans, who are at present not screaming with excitement, but instead quietly taking in this absurd what-the-fuckery being bestowed upon them by their Universal Champion.
Rezin: ♫So bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it ya, scum!♫
♫Yeah, bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum!♫
The crane pulls out more, taking in the rest of the stage. The ramp. The ring. On the PRIMEview, a montage of mushroom clouds adds to the somber and foreboding ambience.
Rezin: ♫One day when your end is near,♫
♫I’ll be laughin’ at your fear!♫
♫When you’re gone there’ll be no one♫
♫Who’ll be fucking up my fun. Heh heh… NO one!♫
All eyes are entranced on the crust punk ensconced in the spotlight, strumming away above rolling scenes of destruction. He’s a mere speck above everything else.
Rezin: ♫So bite it, ya scum!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum! Here I come!♫
♫Bite it, ya scum! I ain’t ever gonna run!♫
♫Bite it, ya scummm…♫
Rezin strums the final chord, and the PRIMEview likewise cuts to black as the song ends. The Crescent City’s wrestling fanbase, comparable in reputation to that of their city, let themselves be heard. The ovation comes like a tidal wave of voices, mixed between resounding applause and irate lamentations.
The Escape Artist sets the guitar aside, sparks up a J, and lets out a hit before addressing the crowd en masse.
A thunderous caterwaul fills the arena off of the hometown mention. It’s a loud and riotous clash of sides, seething jeers fighting to be heard over rebellious cheers. Pockets of PRIMEates in blue and white pick shouting matches with uproarious throngs of locals in red and black.
Rezin: I guess I should fill in all ya GRIMEates out there on my history with this place NOLA, and all these crazy sum’bishes that live around here.
Everywhere, it’s insults, and praises, and chants, and curses. Absolute cacophony. Pure chaos. The kind that brings a devious smile to the face of the Universal Champion.
Rezin: See, a few years ago I arrived in this very city, searchin’ for something I couldn’t find back in the safety and relative obscurity of the indies. And it was here, in this city of New Orleans, where I began a new and excitin’ chapter in his life. A career renaizzance, if you will.
He pulls up to his feet and begins pacing along the edge of the mezzanine, brazenly overlooking the masses beneath him from the undeniably dangerous height.
Rezin: It was HERE, in this beautiful, ever-sinkin’, ever-stinkin’ BOG ya call the Big Easy, where I laid the foundations to the professional wrestling A-PUNK-alpyse! Where this ol’ DOPESMOKER evolved into somethin’ new. Somethin’ strong. Something… DEFIANT!
Big cheers from the representatives of the red and black, who DEFIANTly pump their fists into the air in a show of support for the man who fought for the reputation of being known as the Favoured Sinner of NOLA.
Rezin: So it seems almost fittin’, that we should be here tonight. In the place where this long, crazy journey began. Almost as if it was fated to be so. Only… I ain’t a believer in fate.
He slowly shakes his head. Throughout his monologue, the Goat Bastard procures a soiled burlap sack.
Rezin: What I DO believe in is predestination. Universal cause and effect, passing through eons, on imperceivable, macroscopic levels. A kinda cosmic gumbo, if ya will. All events are set into motion, influenced by events of the past, as they will influence the events of the future. Hence, the sequence of events that led us all here. That led ME here… a DEVIL, standing atop the pinnacle of professional wrestling Heaven.
His dastardly grin widens as he opens it up and reaches into the sack.
Rezin: What I believe… is that the Big Bang was not an act of creation. But one of DESTRUCTION. And I am its hand.
What he pulls out causes some in the audience to scream in shock and revulsion…
As far as championship belts go, the prestigious Universal Title looks like a kidnapping victim that’s been kept in a dingy cellar for a few weeks. Layers of filth and grime are smeared across the belt’s gilded faceplate, further defaced with the word “ANTI” slathered above the engraving of “CHAMPION”.
Rezin: And like Oppenheimer before me, I… have become DEATH! The DESTROYER of WORLDS!
Seeing the belt and all the legacy that goes with it in this miserable and misbegotten state elicits a savage uproar from the PRIME faithful. Some out there are calling for his head. Their fervor only seems to feed his dark delights.
Rezin: I know, I know… this ain’t the warm and fuzzy story ya all wanted. The same ol’ tired delusion of good winnin’ out in the end… validatin’ your belief that all that holdin’ onto hope didn’t go to waste. Believe me, I know I’ve disrupted a LOT of plans… but y’all shoulda known by now, that DISRUPTION is exactly what I do! It was everything I PROMISED ya!
Rezin tsk-tsks and dangles the strap out in the air in front of him as though he were holding it hostage, showing the entire world of professional wrestling that the very universe is in his black tar-stained hands.
Rezin: So here’s where we stand, PRIME… I ain’t out here just to pat myself on the back and walk to the back where I can just sit on my ass until Culture Shock! Now that I got this belt, I ain’t just gonna lay back and rest! Naww, I’m goin’ FORWARD, and hittin’ HARDER!
More cheers from the red and black demo. Rezin is getting more amped up, pacing back and forth along the ledge with reckless abandon.
Rezin: YOUR ANTI-CHAMPION demands TRIBUTE… and I AIN’T LEAVIN’ THIS PLACE until I’ve KICKED SOMEONE’S ASS!! So before I start gettin’ ancy, and, I dunno, do something rash like BURNIN’ THE WHOLE DAMB BUILDING DOWN… how ‘bout someone in that locker room SACK UP, and come WALK IN THE FIRE with HELL’S FAVORITE–
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WALL!”
“Daggers” by We Came As Romans hits the PA so goddamn hard that it throws the Goat Bastard completely off balance. Rezin does a spastic dance with his limbs twirling in every direction while he teeters precariously over the edge and scrambles to steady himself.
Meanwhile, all the attention has gone to the entry-way below the Universal Champion’s perch. The PRIMEates are building themselves into a fever pitch, when a figure steps into view against the wall of white light. We don’t need the specifics.
The Event Horizon takes a few steps out. Ring gear on, despite no match on the card.
Boots and Bolts.
Hayes, with no smile to be found behind that dark mustache, makes it about halfway down the ramp, then turns, looking upward to PRIME’s ANTI-Champion, and produces a mic as his music trails off.
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite what, Erik?
Up above, Rezin legs dangling freely beneath him, one hand clutching the ledge rail to keep him from falling while the other still has hold of the Universal Title. He’s evidently too far into a state of shock and rage to realize that he’s literally hanging on by his fingertips.
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite jackass?
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite pile of sentient roadkill?
Hayes Hanlon: Hell’s Favorite STAIN smeared on a belt held by GIANTS?
The Goat Bastard seethes in anger, furiously kicking his legs and whipping the belt around in every direction. He’s torn between giving the Event Horizon the thrashing of his life and keeping himself from falling to his death.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, you thought I’d tuck tail? Go hide in the corner until Culture Shock?
Home Run Hayes shakes his head “no,”, lips curling behind his ‘stache.
Hayes Hanlon: Did I run and hide when Bathory knocked me out of the tournament last year? Nope. I showed up and took the Five Star Championship. Took it from you if your melted brain remembers clearly.
Rezin angrily shakes his head in denial, shouting obscenities below. Like “ya got lucky!”. And “I had bad tacos that night!”. And “Cece Ryan’s PED’s slowed me down!”
Hayes Hanlon: Did I disappear when you beat me at Great American Nightmare for the same belt? NOPE. I showed up the next ReVival and put Cancer Jiles on his freakin’ back. And followed that up with dropping the Gigantic Russian Douchebag on his god-damn HEAD.
The Goat Bastard scoffs this off, but the crowd are rallying behind the former champ. If there was anyone in the red and black that had the scoundrel Rezin’s back, they’re being drowned out by a cresting wave of support for Home Run Hayes.
Hayes Hanlon: And then I capped it all off by winning THAT.
Hayes points to the Universal Championship in Rezin’s grip, keeping the mic at his mouth and his finger lingering on the gold.
Hayes Hanlon: And then you took it from me again.
The sneer on the face of the Escape Artist flashes back into a grin. His hands pull the Universal Championship into his chest, and he goads Hanlon below by running his tar stained fingers up and down the face of the belt.
Hayes Hanlon: And that’s plenty fuel for that fire, Erik. PLENTY.
Hayes Hanlon: You want someone to walk through that fire? Then come off that perch, buddy! I’ll walk it with you again, and this time I’ll leave you BURNING IN IT! All before we meet one more time at Culture Shock, where I’m gonna drop 400 pounds of Soviet SHIT on your freakin’ head…
The Event Horizon, nearly red in the face, thrusts his finger once more toward the Universal Title.
Hayes Hanlon: …and take THAT BACK!
HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!! HOME-RUN-HAYES!!
The whole building is now staunchly behind the deposed former Universal Champion. Much to the chagrin of Rezin, who paces back and forth on the ledge, huffing and puffing with the strap dangling from waist-level. Finally, he readjusts his headset to be heard again.
Rezin: GWAAALLDAAMMB YOOOU, HHAAAYYESS HAAANNLAAAAWWNN!! When I said I wanted to kick someone’s ass, I didn’t mean YOURS! I meant someone like the EVANSVILLE kid! But YOU?! YOU are BEEN THERE and DONE THAT!
He provokingly holds out the Universal Title once again.
Rezin: This is now TWICE I’ve taken PRIME gold from you! Don’t you GET IT yet? You’re DONE! DEFEATED! OBLITERATED! As OUTTA STYLE as that Tom Selleck pussy-broom ya got hangin’ offa your lip!
With a crusty cackle, the Universal Championship goes back into its holding place in the burlap sack, and the “ANTI” Champion threateningly points down to Hanlon.
Rezin: But I’ll tell ya WHAT, HAMMY HHAAAYYYESSS! Since ya gone and EMBARRASSED ME in front of MY PEOPLE… AND, seein’ as I can’t help but be IMPRESSED by this DEATH WISH ya got goin’ on… I think I can OBLIGE in your humble request to have my FOOT lodged into your STUPID FACE YET AGAIN!!
The arena fills with a booming pop, the fans suddenly enticed with the prospect of ReVival picking up right where the last one left off, with these two going tooth and nail with the greatest prize in professional wrestling on the line.
Rezin: So STAY RIGHT THERE, HHAAAYYESS HAAANNLAAAAWWNN!! Cause when I get down there, I’M BRINGIN’ HELL WITH ME!!
Rezin steps out of the spotlight and wanders into the darkness.
Rezin: Wait a sec… where am I? Section O…? No, wait… that’s a Q! Damnbit, wrong way…
He pops into the spotlight and once again wrathfully points down on Hammerin’ Hayes, who stands impatiently waiting with his hands on hips.
Rezin: DON’T YOU MOVE, HHAAAYYYESSS!! I’m COMIN’ FOR YA!!
He steps back into the darkness going into the other direction.
Rezin: Hang on… where the hell are the stairs?! Fuck…
He awkwardly appears again in the spotlight, looking more frazzled than ever.
Rezin: Okay so clearly, I didn’t think this through, but mark my words, I’m GONNA KICK YOUR ASS, HAMMY HHAAAYYYESSS! Just… AS SOON AS I FIND MY WAY DOWN THERE!
Ivan Stanislav: Perhaps I can be of service, comrade?
Rezin: Yeah, that’d be great, Ivan, thanks. …wait a sec–IVAN?!
Indeed. But just as it hits him that the towering Russian Bear is standing right behind him there on the upper level, he finds himself being lifted off his feet…
…and launched OFF THE EDGE!
Ivan Stanislav: DYA-HAAA-HAA-HAAAAA!!
Screams rise out of the crowd from every corner of the arena as the Escape Artist’s flailing body flies helplessly through the air on a crash course to certain doom.
Hayes doesn’t think. He moves.
The New Orleans faithful recoil en masse in aghast shock. Hanlon, moving like a human laser, successfully manages to get from the stage to the point of impact. Unfortunately, selflessly breaking the man’s fall does almost just as much damage to himself. He collapses painfully to the floor the moment the Goat Bastard’s body comes down upon his waiting arms and chest.
The two lie in an ugly, crumbled heap of torsos and limbs amid dozens of stunned fans. Meanwhile, up above, the perpetrator of this catastrophe proudly fills the spotlight. As Stanislav’s guffawing laugh echoes from above, the camera on the crane picks up his booming voice.
Ivan Stanislav: American elevators take so long to Hell, Rezin! I give you express trip, straight from the Motherland! I thought “Home Run” was supposed to be good at hitting fast balls, not catching foul ones! DYAAHAAHAA!!
Stanislav dusts his hands off, and then brings one hand to his forehead, wipes some sweat off his brow, and flicks it over the edge while medical personnel begin to check on the two men. Hayes is the first one to be lifted to his feet while Ivan bellows once more.
Ivan Stanislav: That will teach both of you to have party with the man who has been part of a Party his entire life! Rest assured, people of PRIME, a man of true integrity and grit will soon turn PRIME blue Russian red!
Content with the wreckage he has wrought for a second ReVival in a row, Stanislav turns to a chorus of boos, not to mention a great deal of vitriol by the audience near him, and makes his exit.
Down below, PRIME’s medical team break out the stretcher for Rezin, although the burlap sack containing the Universal Title never leaves his clutches. The moment he’s strapped in, he’s already fighting to break free.
With arms draped around the necks of two crew members, Hanlon has managed to pull himself up, although his face shows that he is in complete agony. Still, seeing the former Universal Champion being helped to the back on his own two feet lifts the spirits of the despondent New Orleans crowd.
Through all of the confusion, Nick Stuart and Richard Parker can be seen scampering down the rampway.
Nick Stuart: I cannot believe we’re late! I’m never letting you drive again!
Richard Parker: How was I supposed to know they were having a parade!?
Nick Stuart: It’s New Orleans, Rich! Does MARDI GRAS ring any bells?
Richard Parker: Oh, sue me! If you told me that people were in the streets exposing themselves and vomiting all over the place, I’d tell you it’s just another day in the Big Easy!
Getting to ringside, they shuffle behind the commentary desk and quickly get their affairs in order.
Richard Parker: See? We’re here, and they haven’t even started yet!
Nick Stuart: Don’t count your blessings, partner… wait a minute, what’s going on here? Did we miss something?
Parker doesn’t seem to hear him as he puts on his headset and another voice takes his attention.
Richard Parker: Forget whatever that was, cause we’re LIVE, pal!
ROCKY DE LEON vs. MIKE MCGEE
Welcome to PRIME ReVival 23, let’s get to some siiiiiiigns!
FIGHTING FOR JONATHAN
NEVER FORGET THE FALCONS BLEW A 28-3 LEAD
PAXTON RAY DENTED MY GUMBO POT
NEW ORLEANS IS DEB WARENSTEIN COUNTRY
TCHU HASN’T WON A MATCH IN 10 YEARS
LOUISIANA HATES THE HALLS
WE FINALLY GOT PUNK RAWK HAWK AS CHAMPION
THIS IS DEFIAN…NO WAIT WRONG COMPANY
PUSH COUNT NOVICK YOU COWARDS
WE LOVED YOU BEFORE IT WAS COOL REZIN!
PRIME CONFISCATED ALL THE SIGNS FROM REV22
TO FIND OUT WHY EMAIL MATTSLAWYER@CRIME.RU
WE UPGRADED FROM MUSTACHE RIDES TO FULL BEARD BANGING
VAE VICTIS SIGHTING
NATE COLTON IS A 10, WHICH MEANS HE’S A TERRE HAUTE 28
JUST DO IT
ROCKY MAKES ME RAWR 🦕
HEY LOOK, THERES FINALLY REAL WRESTLING IN NEW ORLEANS
I WENT TO BOURBON STREET FOR BREAKFAST
I OPENLY DO STEROIDS
– MIKE MCGEE 2023
EAT GLUE NOT STEROIDS
Nick Stuart: Welcome to the first match of the evening ladies and gentlemen. This one has some heat behind it, with both combatants looking to notch their first win in PRIME.
Richard Parker: You got that right, Nick. This is a run back of the triple threat match from ReVival 21 in which Kohime Mori notched a win. Of course, Rocky De Leon believes he didn’t lose and Mike McGee wants redemption!
Nick Stuart: It looks like the competitors are ready, so let’s get the action underway!
“Bright Future in Sales” by Fountains of Wayne plays and the PRIMEView shows a plethora of different spreadsheets with formulas and TPS forms. An animation appears on the middle spreadsheet with a portal opening to show a face with blood raining down from its eyes onto the forms.
*I’m gonna get my shit together (together)
‘Cause I can’t live like this forever (forever)
You know I’ve come too far
And I don’t wanna fail
I got a new computer
And a bright future in sales
Yeah yeah (yeah yeah)*
Vince Howard: Introducing first… FROM MAPLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY… MIIIIIKE MCGEEEEE!
McGee power walks to the ring in a “business casual” singlet – double hooked and made to look like a collared shirt and slacks. He sneers at fans and gives out behavioral warnings.
Nick Parker: Ladies and gentlemen, Mike McGee has undergone some… changes over the last couple weeks as evidenced by the bizarre imagery on his video package.
Richard Parker: Mike McGee visited me this week and told me that though my commentary was not totally above water per the PRIME HR guidelines, he would only give me a warning if I were to take mandatory sensitivity training.
Nick Stuart: Sensitivity Training? You?
Richard Parker: I know, but I learned some valuable lessons. Such as when I am upset with Stu Weiler, I should not label him as a nerd, but I should explore my feelings on the subject and try to have a self positive conversation.
Nick Stuart: And how is that going for you?
Richard Parker: Excellent, I think this is the best me. I do have to say though, while he was scolding me, Mike insisted on verbally spelling every word with a Z at the end of it, where applicable.
Nick Stuart: Well, partner, in the words of Hank Hill, “That boy ain’t right.”
“Me and Julio Down by The Schoolyard” by Streetlight Manifesto hits the PA and the lights shine down on Rocky De Leon who is standing with his back to the ring. When the trumpets play, he spins around and both his arms go up. Stu Weiler follows after him with his laptop in hand.
*The mama pajama rolled out of bed
And she ran to the police station
When the papa found out he began to shout
And he started the investigation*
Vince Howard: And his opponent… FROM LAREDO, TEXAS… ROOOOOOCKYYYYY DEEE LEEEEEOOOOOON!
Rocky smiles and begins to work the crowd as he starts walking down the ramp to the ring. He runs up the ring steps quickly and wipes his feet on the apron before nimbly hopping over the ropes and waving to the crowd. Rocky points a finger to the crowd and bounds up the corner to the top turnbuckle, then leaps off with a backflip to the mat. He pumps his fists in the air as the fans react to his show of athleticism. Stu sets up in his corner and begins to furiously enter data into a spreadsheet.
Nick Stuart: A great showing, appealing to the fans here in PRIME. Rocky looks like he is ready for a classic. Anything to add about Rocky and Stu, partner?
Richard Parker: Nothing that you haven’t already illustrated perfectly, Nick.
Nick Stuart: OK then, let’s get the action underway as Ashley Barlow signals for the bell.
Rocky comes out bounding like a boxer, circling off to his right and working in the distance to Mike, who seems quite confused by this tactic. Rocky darts in, lands an open shot to McGee then darts back. He does this again, and again, and Mike starts to protest to Ashley about strikes, she shows him that Rocky is using an open hand, and therefore it is legal.
Nick Stuart: Smart strategy early from Rocky, using open palm strikes instead of a closed fist to avoid punishment. Looks like someone has been reading the rulebook and has a solid plan put together.
Richard Parker: It’s that genius, Stu Weiler. I just know it!
Rocky De Leon gets a little more comfortable and begins getting aggressive, mixing in combos, then getting in close to swat at Mike’s legs with his own. The crowd is clearly happy that he is more aggressive early, but McGee is favoring his left leg already as he takes a hard shot.
As Rocky gets in close, he gets too aggressive and Mike sees an opening. The former collegiate standout lunges and grabs Rocky in a grapple. Quick as anything, Mike rotates behind the agile competitor and lifts him overhead for a German Suplex!
Ashley Barlow checks on the competitors and before Rocky can get to his feet, Mike is on him again. He grabs the larger competitor around the waist and deadlifts him into another suplex! Rocky lands with a calamitous clatter on the mat and rolls to the corner.
Nick Stuart: This is as aggressive as I think we have seen Mike McGee!
Richard Parker: Agreed, and he sure wasn’t kidding about his amateur chops. Only a pedigreed amateur wrestler has that kind of raw power at his size.
Nick Stuart: I sure hope Stu Weiler has a spreadsheet to account for Mike’s brute strength.
Seemingly, Stu has heard Nick and yells some words of encouragement to Rocky. The young wrestler shakes the cobwebs loose and bolts toward Mike. The HR Superstar is unprepared for a missile dropkick, and he stumbles into the corner with both hands landing on the top rope.
Rocky runs across the ring and hops onto the middle turnbuckle while yelling SKREE! spread eagled, displaying his wings. The FDP then hops down and sprints across the ring, launching and landing a big body splash! Mike wobbles a bit and stumbles forward a few steps before falling face first into the mat.
Nick Stuart: A big move from Rocky! I think we should call it The Pterosaur Splash! This is the up tempo offense we expected to see!
Richard Parker: Gee would you… well look at that… masterful… planning by Stu Weiler.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know if Stu has anything to do with it, partner. This appears to be all on Rocky!
As Rocky begins to bound across the ropes, Mike staggers to his feet. Rocky meets Mike with a dropkick push in the back, launching him into the ropes. As Mike stumbles backward, Rocky rolls up to his feet and runs at Mike McGee hitting a double knee backbreaker!
Mike bounces off Rocky’s knees and grabs his back while he rolls on the canvas. The green Rocky looks at Stu Weiler and his manager shakes his head to signal “you got this, kid” to which Rocky waits for Mike to stand up, and launches into a series of knife edge chops with the crowd counting along.
Rocky reaches way back to Laredo, Texas for this one and lands it with a terrific thunderous CRACK!
Mike holds his red chest and stumbles backwards into the corner, arms down this time. The FDP runs to the opposite corner to once again line up a Pterosaur Splash, but this time, nobody is home as Mike falls out of the way! Rocky crashes back to the mat and holds his chest while Mike rolls out of the ring to the floor below.
Nick Stuart: All that high risk just backfired on Rocky De Leon!
Richard Parker is visibly tapping a pencil on the announce table, clearly trying to contain something.
Nick Stuart: Are you OK, partner?
Richard Parker: I’ll be… I… NO! I can’t do it! Stu Weiler is a nerd and the world needs to know!
Nick Stuart: To be fair, you lasted a lot longer than I thought you would. Do you have anything practical to add to the action in the ring?
Richard thinks for a moment.
Richard Parker: Yes, that was a veteran move that Mike McGee just pulled, luring the kid into his trap!
Nick Stuart: He literally just fell out of the way.
Richard Parker: It was Rocky’s fault for not bracing him properly. And you know whose fault that is, ultimately?
Nick Stuart: Let me guess, Stu Weiler?
Richard Parker: That damned Stu Weiler! I just know it!
Back in the ring, Rocky has gotten to his feet and sees Mike slowly rising up outside the ring. The youngster from Texas bolts across the ring, bounds off the ropes to get momentum and leaps over the top rope with a full somersault! Mike gets bowled over by a tope con hilo and they both fly into the railing at ringside.
McGee clearly took the worst of that shot, and Rocky is back to his feet, slinging his competitor into the ring under the bottom rope. As Rocky moves to enter the ring, Mike wisely jumps on him and lifts Rocky to his feet into a German suplex, then with a great heave, Anne Taylor Loft’s Rocky through the air, but the more nimble De Leon flips and lands on his feet!
Mike McGee thinks he has his opponent right where he wants him, but quickly realizes he didn’t hear the crash of Rocky hitting the canvas. Mike turns around to face his opponent as Rocky yells a mighty SKREE!! and dashes toward the opposite ropes. He picks up speed, bounces off the second rope and through the air in a spread eagle, connecting with his forearm and sending Mike McGee to the Shadow Realm.
Nick Stuart: He Hit the Flying Squirrel!
Richard Parker: Watch out for the pin Mike!
Rocky is quick to drop into a pin and Ashley Barlow slides in right on time.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: A decisive win by the rookie! He bolsters his record and that should move him up the rankings a little bit! Tough loss for Mike McGee.
Richard Parker: I just hope that he doesn’t do that crazy blood eyes thing to me for calling Stu Weiler a nerd.
Nick Stuart: You do know he isn’t actually our HR rep, right? He can’t do anything to you, legally.
Richard Parker: So I took sensitivity training for nothing?
Richard looks enraged and stands up to shake his fist and holler something unintelligible about nerds, geeks, and/or dorks.
Nick Stuart: Right, because it wasn’t needed.
With that, ReVival 23 moves on to a commercial break.
COMMERCIAL: ACE NETWORK
JUST GOOGLE IT
Back from commercial and we go to the ring.
No fanfare. No music. No grandiose smugness.
Just Ned Reform, standing in the middle of the ring. He is not dressed to compete, but he does hold a mic. Currently, he shakes his head in annoyance as he waits for the New Orleans crowd to stop booing him.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, while we were backstage, Ned Reform made his way out here and commandeered a mic. We’ve seen him be… well, not quite himself as of late… in fact, he’s been on a bit of a spiral since his loss to Great SCOTT at the PWA Event weeks ago.
Richard Parker: The man is clearly going through it… and yet, this crowd doesn’t seem to have a ton of sympathy.
The boos continue, and although The Good Doctor maintains what could best be called “sad eyes,” he’s also clearly growing impatient as he marches around the ring.
Ned Reform: …are you quite finished?
Nick Stuart: I guess not.
Ned leans against the top rope, shaking his head and muttering to himself. Amongst the people, a chant begins… small at first but quickly growing in strength…
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap)
“DOC – TOR – DICK – HEAD!” (clap, clap, clap clap clap)
Reform keeps his face strategically emotionless in the face of this chant. Continuing to lean over the top rope, he lazily brings the mic to his lips.
Ned Reform: Classy as always, New Orleans.
Before the fans can even begin to boo, he continues, trying to break their momentum.
Ned Reform: But that’s just who you are, isn’t it? Vulgar. Abrasive. Defiant. Likely intoxicated. And nobody knows New Orleans better than Dr. Ned Reform. For the past two years, I have driven myself to the brink of good sense… some may even argue of SANITY… trying to convince you ingrates that it was worth it to better yourself. I have even lived among the rat and puke infested vermin of this city, despite my better judgment. And what do I have to show for this unwavering commitment to your wellbeing?
Reform’s face darkens. He pushes off the top rope, stomping to the middle of the ring and continuing to pace around the ring as he speaks.
Ned Reform: Nothing. Unless, of course, you count an elevated blood pressure, a constant stream of anxiety, and a spirit to do good that has been utterly and completely crushed under your heels. Well… after two years of back breaking labor and very little to show for it, I have reached a conclusion that should have dawned on me months ago…
Reform stops pacing. Sighs. Looks directly into the camera.
Ned Reform: This is no longer worth it.
He becomes animated again. Throwing up a single finger and resuming a vigorously paced march.
Ned Reform: NOW! I know what many of you are likely saying. Using your admittingly limited powers of reason, you’re drawing the conclusion that this is simply a reaction to a string of losses. As if I am a toddler throwing a tantrum for attention. And while yes, it is true that I have recently suffered a series of setbacks in the ring… to those brutes from HOW, to the betrayal from Mr. Cole, to Darren whats-his-name, to recently losing a championship in another promotion with which my name had become synonymous…
The people didn’t like that last one. If you know, you know.
Ned Reform: But this is not about a win/loss record. This is deeper. Systemic. This is about a man who dared to be different… who tried to do some good… but ultimately was eaten alive by a cruel, heartless, and evil machine. You see, two days ago I tendered my resignation at that OTHER pissant company… and tonight, right here, in front of the world and the cesspool that is New Orleans…
Reform again stops his march, and again looks right into the camera.
Ned Reform: …I quit. I quit PRIME, I quit professional wrestling, and I quit all of you.
Nick Stuart: Wow!
Richard Parker: This is a sad display. What have we done to this man?
Ned Reform: How fitting the end should come here. Anyway, you’ve all done it. You’ve broken down a good man. Congratulations, but you won’t have Doctor Ned Reform to kick around anymore. I no longer care what you do… spend the rest of the night killing your brain cells… when the show is over head over to Ballyhoo Brew and kill what’s left… return home to your unattractive and simpleton families… it is no longer my concern.
Ned Reform: Goodbye.
Is this it? Is this really the last few seconds that we will ever see Ned Reform in a PRIME ring?
Abruptly, an electric guitar strum blasts through the PA, the lead in to an upbeat tune. It is the song that Michael Stipe once coined as his biggest regret during his time with R.E.M. Michael Stipe is an asshole, because this song rocks.
Walking through the curtain comes a man who you knew wouldn’t just let Ned Reform walk away without a proper goodbye. As “Shiny Happy People” continues to play, Abe the Babe Lipschitz walks out to the ring, wagging his finger in Ned’s direction.
Nick Stuart: I think we’ve got someone who isn’t content with Reform simply walking out on their bitter rivalry, Rich!
Richard Parker: What rivalry? Ned’s barely even acknowledged his existence! This kid is a pest.
Keeping up with tradition, Ned continues to barely acknowledge Abe’s existence as the flamboyant youngster stops to pan for the camera, pulling his shirt down to let the viewing audience get a closer look at it. He’s cleverly positioned next to a fan at the guardrail holding up a “#AbeWearsShirts #WhatsAbeWearing” sign. Today, it’s a gold “LION BLING” tee, featuring the cartoon versions of Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa flexing various pieces of jewelry and stacks of money.
Nick Stuart: Word is that SELMA and Miserée could not be here in New Orleans due to a charity appearance where they’re representing PRIME. I guess Abe finally got his opportunity to pick his own entrance theme.
Richard Parker: Who decided it would be a good idea to send those two out to a charity event? What cause are they raising money for? People who are too satisfied with their lives?
Finally rolling in the ring, Abe asks Ned for the microphone. Reform of course does not oblige, simply crossing his arms at his chest and holding it between his elbow crevice.
This doesn’t stop Abe, though. He simply awkwardly leans in and talks directly into his titty.
Abe Lipschitz: Goodbye?
He cranes his neck up to look at his nemesis. Ned glances down at him, gives a quick nod, and then redirects his focus to the curtain.
Abe Lipschitz: Goodbye?
Ned, now growing irritated, takes the mic and shoves it into Abe’s chest. He starts to make his way slowly out of the ring, pretty much done with his bull shit. Seeing his fleeting hopes of the beginning of his five year plan about to walk away, Abe immediately resorts to a failsafe tactic to convince Ned to change his mind.
Abe Lipschitz: Well, I guess you must just be…CHICKEN! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOK bok bok bok bok BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK bok bok bok…
The PRIMEates begin to chant along with the catcall as Lipschitz adds theatrics, cock-strutting and pretending to peck at the turnbuckle. Ned stops, takes a quick look back, and simply smirks. He mouths to Abe “I guess I am,” then ducks between the top and middle rope to continue his exit. Realizing that this approach isn’t going to work, the Babe changes course.
Abe Lipschitz: Wai-wai-wai-wai-wai-wait. Listen, Ned. If you walk out on me, walk out on ALL of this, then how are you going to support your family? Unless, you know…maybe ol’ Abe will need to come over and not only satisfy Mrs. Reform’s financial needs…
Ned, who is now in the aisleway, turns once again and casts his antagonist a sour look – a warning with his eyes that he doesn’t need to go where he thinks he’s about to.
Abe Lipschitz: …but her SMOOCHIN’ NEEDS as well! Ah-MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH MUAH!
Needless to say, Abe provides an exaggerated pucker of his lips (much like a camel) to accompany the sound effects. At first, it looks like Ned is just about to spin on his heels and head back toward the ring – but he instead just shakes his head and continues his walk to the back. Dejected but determined, Abe runs with microphone still in hand and launches himself over the top rope as if he’d just eliminated himself from a battle royal. Like a cat, he lands on his feet and gives chase to the retreating Doctor.
Abe Lipschitz: I don’t know what you think you’re gonna do, Ned! Are you really going to go back to being a professor? Well, guess what? No one needs to go to college, as they can just GOOGLE whatever they need to learn!
Out of all of the things said tonight, this was it. This is what stopped Reform in his tracks as he turns to face Lipschitz in an intense staredown. The redness in his eyes sparked the heat in Abe’s. Finally, there was some fucking DRAMA to really make Ned second-guess his decision to leave. He’d insulted the hallowed halls of an educational institution. That was the last straw.
Abe Lipschitz: And you stink!
Well, another twig into the flames wouldn’t hurt.
Ned snatches the microphone from Abe’s hands, glaring at him as he moves it up to his lips.
Ned Reform: I’m…not…doing it.
Pie-facing Lipschitz, Reform turns around once again and makes his final boarding call into the back, leaving Abe scratching his head and wondering what he was going to do now.
We’re in the receiving area of the Smoothie King Center. A long van pulls up near the back entrance, and after a few minutes a man gets out the driver’s seat.
Who is he? I dunno. He’s not part of the story. Let’s just say his name is Frank.
Frank walks around to the side door of the van and presses a button and the door slides out. After a moment, a ramp descends from the side door and Frank steps aside to let a wheelchair roll down.
Inside the wheelchair? Well, he is part of the story. He’s Jonathan Rhine.
The New Life (does that nickname even apply anymore?) thanks Frank, who silently goes back to the driver’s side of the van and drives away. Then Rhine wheels his way towards the back entrance, stopping to stare up at the arena.
Jonathan Rhine: God it’s good to be here.
He wheels his way through the back entrance but doesn’t get far before he wheels into Lindsay Troy, who greets him with a smile.
Lindsay Troy: Hey there, stranger. It’s good to see you.
She looks past him briefly, as if waiting for someone else.
Lindsay Troy: Shweta coming? Or are you flying solo tonight?
Jonathan Rhine: Solo. Shweta had a lot of things going on. She’s gotten a lot of calls about running businesses over the past few months. People were so impressed with the Foundation that everyone wants her. So yeah, she was too busy to…
Lindsay Troy: You wanted to come by yourself to prove you could, didn’t you.
Rhine laughs and looks down at his lap.
Jonathan Rhine: Am I that predictable?
Lindsay Troy: A little bit. That’s not a bad thing, though.
She extends her arm forward.
Lindsay Troy: Shall we?
Jonathan Rhine: Let’s go.
They make their way down the hall, Jonathan wheeling a little slowly as he looks around the backstage hallways.
Jonathan Rhine: That stuff I said about Shweta being a hot commodity wasn’t the real excuse, but it is true. Speaking of…thanks for reaching out to her for a spot here. She’s flattered, and she’s thinking about it.
Lindsay Troy: Do I need to turn on the charm to make her say yes?
Jonathan Rhine: Probably not. She loves you, and loves it here…just like I do.
He stops suddenly, looking down at his lap again. After a moment of closing his eyes, he sighs and starts to roll forward.
Lindsay Troy: All good?
Jonathan Rhine: Yeah. It’s just…it’s great to be here. But it’s also hard to be here.
Lindsay Troy: Whatever you’re feeling is alright, y’know. And whatever you need, even if it’s just a sympathetic ear, just say the word.
Rhine looks up at Lindsay and smiles. Then he nods.
Jonathan Rhine: I appreciate it. But at the end of the day…
He continues to wheel forward, the smile never wavering.
Jonathan Rhine: I know I’m going to be okay.
They continue to travel together as we go elsewhere.
ALIAS TITLE TOURNAMENT: VIOLET SAMUELSSON VS. KOHIME MORI
Vince Howard: The following match is one fall and is a semifinal match in the Alias Title Tournament! Introducing first…
The lights dim to darken the arena and a few low strobe lights flicker atop the stage.
“There’s about to be a what? Girlfight!”
A giant pyrotechnic ‘V’ flashes as “Girlfight” by Brooke Valentine continues to play over the PA system and Violet stands in the center of the stage. Clad in a pair of dark purple wrestling pants with a black rhinestone racerback tank top – she extends one fist into the air, pointing towards the ceiling before she blows a kiss to the fans in attendance. She wears a long black cape with a large dark purple ‘V’ on the back of it, harkening back to her ‘superhero’ days.
Nick Stuart: Time for our second match of the evening!
Richard Parker: Girl versus girl action about to happen here in PRIME. For as many female wrestlers as we’ve had here, female vs. female is quite the rarity.
Nick Stuart: That it is, but we’re in for a doozy of one tonight.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, standing at five feet and eight inches tall. She hails from Portland, Maine… VIOLET! SAMEULSSON!
She makes a quick jaunt down the ramp, slapping the odd hand ringside before she slides in under the bottom rope, popping back up to her feet and putting both arms into the air in a ‘V’. She disposes of the cape to the attendant at ringside before she adjusts her coordinating knee and elbow pads and loosens herself up against the ropes while she waits for her opponent.
Vince Howard: And her opponent…
The rocking vibe of Little V Mills cover of “Precious Heart” spreads throughout the arena. Kohime Mori enters quickly after the opponent interlude, gazing around the arena while standing in place. A big smile on her face, Mori gives a double fist pump and an enthusiastic yell before making her way down the isle. As she bounces her way to the ring, she leans left and right to slap hands with the fans.
Richard Parker: You ever feel like Kohime is going to have a fangirl moment when she comes out here?
Nick Stuart: …no?
Richard Parker: Okay, just me then. Carry on.
Once ringside, Kohime quickly traverses the stairs and enters the ring in between the middle and top rope. She makes her way to middle of ring. Once there, she lowers her head and makes a V with her index and middle fingers on her right hand, arm center mast. She raises her arm in a crescent motion until the V is above her head. Mori swings her arm down in front of her after a brief pause, a beaming smile on her face.
Vince Howard: Standing at five feet and nine inches tall, she hails from Okayama, Japan… KOHIME! MORI!
Nick Stuart: One of these two will face off against the winner of Darin Zion and Mortimer Knightingale.
Richard Parker: Is that his actual name? I can’t keep it straight anymore.
Nick Stuart: I have not the slightest clue.
Timo gives his final set of instructions to both competitors before looking over at the time keeper and signaling for the start of the match.
At the sound of the bell, both competitors circle each other around the ring, their eyes locked upon one another. Slowly, Kohime moves towards Violet, looking for a collar-and-elbow tie-up. Violet feigns she is going to do the same, but slips underneath the outstretched arms of her opponent and end up behind Kohime before lifting her off the ground and takes her down to the mat. Kohime, on her stomach, tries to grab at Violet, whose left forearm is digging into the back of Mori’s neck as she spins around and puts Kohime into a front facelock.
Nick Stuart: Smart move out of the gate here from Samuelsson, using her experience to take down Kohime and keep her grounded in the early parts of this match.
Richard Parker: Kohime has the muscle on Violet and Samuelsson needs to do something to keep the advantage in her favor. The experience is a nice bit to boot.
Nick Stuart: Does it make you feel old to know that Kohime was basically nine months old when PRIME debuted in 2003?
Richard Parker: It didn’t before, but now it does. Thanks, Nick.
Violet cinches in the front facelock as Kohime uses her power to muscle back up to her feet before she runs into the nearby corner, drilling Violet’s back into the turnbuckles. Samuelsson though refuses to let up the hold and continues to apply pressure to her neck and windpipe. Kohime wraps her arms around Violet’s back and connects with a bridging Northern Lights Suplex as Timo slides in for his count.
Richard Parker: Wow, Kohime almost had Violet right there.
Nick Stuart: Indeed, she almost did. Kohime makes up her inexperience with creativity and strength and it nearly paid off for her right there.
Richard Parker: So seriously, nine months old?
Nick Stuart: I know, crazy, right?
Richard Parker: I just… can’t wrap my head around it.
Both competitors are back up to their feet in a hurry as Violet runs right into a clothesline from Kohime that plants her back onto the mat. As Samuelsson gets back up to her feet, she is met with a stiff chop to the neck and shoulder area before Kohime whips Samuelsson into the ropes. Kohime goes for a clothesline, but Violet ducks underneath it and flies off the opposite set of ropes, connecting with a flying cross body on Mori. Neither competitor stays down for long, but Violet manages to plant her boot into her opponent’s midsection, bounces off the ropes and connects with a swinging neckbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Kohime goes down, clutching her neck right there.
Richard Parker: Samuelsson has an array of offense that she is going to want to show off with here tonight, looking to find any gaps that she can find in the rookie.
Nick Stuart: Both come into this match picking up their first victory in PRIME at ReVival 21 and one will face their first loss here tonight.
Richard Parker: That’s the nature of the beast.
Violet reaches down and pulls Kohime back up to her feet, connecting with a knife-edge chop as she pushes her into the corner. Violet then slams knee after knee into Kohime’s midsection before attempting to whip her across the ring to the opposite corner. Kohime reverses it though and Violet runs into the corner, runs up the turnbuckles and lands behind Kohime. Violet connects with a dropkick that blasts Kohime into the corner before Violet catches a ricocheting Mori into a roll-up pin.
Richard Parker: Close call there for Kohime, who was nearly knocked out of the Alias Title tournament. Violet is definitely showing her ability and her experience over Kohime, who looks stable in the ring, but needs a bit more confidence.
Nick Stuart: You start to speed things up in the ring, when compared to your training, and it just takes time to figure out how the pieces fit together. What we’ve seen from Kohime thus far has been really impressive.
Violet makes her way back up to her feet and drags Kohime up with her, but Mori plants her fist into Samuelsson’s stomach instead. With her opponent doubled over, Kohime connects an uppercut that snaps Violet’s head back and sends her into the nearby corner. Mori wastes no time as she drags Violet out of the corner and connects with a hip toss into the center of the ring. Samuelsson bounces back to her feet and is met with an elbow strike across the face. Violet stumbles backwards as Kohime rushes at her and connects with a clothesline that sends her opponent crashing to the outside.
Nick Stuart: And just like that, Kohime has got Violet on the outside! These two have been going back-and-forth with one another. This is still anyone’s match!
Richard Parker: If Violet wins, we might have crocodile deathmatches. You think if Kohime wins, it’s going to be ramen-making battles?
Nick Stuart: Well, that would be something unique.
Richard Parker: Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Violet begins to make her way her up to her feet and as she does, Kohime bounces off the ropes and dives through the middle ropes, connecting with an elbow suicida to the face of her opponent. Samuelsson stumbles into the barricade while Kohime gets back up to her feet and connects with a devastating knife-edge chop. Violet grimaces in pain and fires off a forearm strike before going to whip Mori back into the ring while Timo continues his count, reaching four.
Nick Stuart: And Kohime reverses it, sending Violet crashing into the edge of the ring apron.
Richard Parker: There is never a moment where that doesn’t look like it hurts.
Nick Stuart: And Kohime goes to lift Violet up, but Samuelsson manages to land on the ring apron. She fires off a stiff kick to the face of her opponent and then connects with a tornado DDT onto the outside!
Richard Parker: Sameulsson getting the momentum and opening she needs right there, but she better get back in the ring before Timo counts her out.
Surely enough, Samuelsson slides back under the bottom rope as Timo gets to a seven-count. She then slides back under the bottom rope and grabs Kohime, rolling her back into the ring. Mori rises to her feet, a bit dazed, and turns towards Violet who connects with a roundhouse kick that lands Kohime in the center of the ring, on her back. Violet quickly goes for the cover.
Nick Stuart: And another close call there for Kohime! She’s got to get her head back into this quickly or else–
Richard Parker: –or else Violet my just kick it off. Did you see that roundhouse kick? Made me pucker.
Nick Stuart: You are a weird individual.
Violet pulls Kohime up to her feet and connects with a trio of elbow strikes before whipping her into the ropes and connecting with a spinning back elbow to the sternum that sends Mori crashing to the mat. Violet wastes no time, seizing her opportunity, as she mounts her, and begins pounding away with forearm smash after forearm smash until Kohime manages to push her off of her. Violet grabs a rising Kohime and smashes her face into her knee before whipping the upstart from Japan into the ropes and putting her down with step-up knee strike that stuns Kohime.
Richard Parker: A flurry of offense from Violet there!
Nick Stuart: And she doesn’t appear to be done as she connects with a springboard dropkick to the back of Kohime’s skull!
Kohime rolls onto her knees as Violet moves to the corner and watches as her opponent makes her way up to her feet. Violet sizes her up and as Kohime stands up, Violet connects with a Shining Wizard that puts Kohime back onto the mat.
Nick Stuart: The Crossover!
Richard Parker: I think Violet is ready to put Kohime out for the night. Great effort from Mori, but with that experience in the ring, it proves to be just a bit too much.
Violet watches as Kohime struggles back to her feet once again and then comes up behind Mori, looking for the Poisonrana. Kohime though, with Violet on her shoulders, falls backwards, slamming all of her weight onto her opponent.
Nick Stuart: Violet nearly had Kohime there, but Mori was able to counter at the last second.
Richard Parker: It could have been out of sheer dumb luck.
Kohime makes her way up to her feet and catches a rising Samuelsson with a stiff superkick that sends Violet into the ropes. Violet flies back with a stiff forearm that catches Kohime by surprise. Violet then bounces off the ropes again and connects with another stiff forearm that drops Mori to one knee. Sameulsson then goes to pull Kohime back to her feet only for Mori to pull her into her and into a roll-up!
DING DING DING!
Nick Stuart: WHAT?!
Richard Parker: I— what?!
Violet manages to kick out after the sound of the bell, but it is too late!
Vince Howard: Your winner… and advancing to the finals of the Alias Title tournament… KOHIME! MORI!
Kohime, sitting on the mat, is shocked by the fact that she has managed to pull off the victory. She looks over at Timo, who helps her to her feet before raising her hand in victory.
Richard Parker: I’m still dumbfounded. Are we sure Timo knows how to count?
Nick Stuart: He does indeed know how to count and that was indeed a three count! She caught Violet by surprise there and managed to pull it out!
Violet makes her way to her feet, clearly disappointed with herself. She then looks over at Kohime and extends her hand. Kohime looks at it before rushing over to Violet and hugging her.
Nick Stuart: What a sweet moment between the two competitors!
Richard Parker: Go to break, I’m going to be sick with all of this cuteness.
We then cut to commercial as Kohime celebrates her victory and Violet smiles, disappointed in the loss, but happy for Kohime.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
I GOT THE MAGIC DUCK
Somewhere backstage. Where exactly is a big mystery, both because half of the people you’re about to meet have no idea where they are, and also because they’re not supposed to be here so it’s all being kept very hush-hush. Don’t want to call down the thunder of the Bird Force, after all.
Let’s rap about the first one. He’s the idiot in the comically oversized director’s chair, the one that looks like it requires a complicated system of levers and pulleys to get into. Plaid pants, a turtleneck, some bowling shoes, and a purple sport coat are all complimented by a ski mask that looks lifted straight out of 1981 and some BluBlocker sunglasses. Oh, and also there’s the fedora. Can’t forget that.
Big “I just raided daddy’s closet” energy for this dork.
His name is Zeke, but we’ll get to him in a minute.
Behind him stand a pair of elderly gentlemen in sweatshirts that stopped fitting properly at least two decades ago. Each has the kind of villain mask on that makes them look like underfunded raccoon cosplayers. Their names are Barry and Rocko, but no one gives a shit.
Barry is holding a boom mic with all the grace of a man struggling to boat a marlin.
Rocko is slowly pouring a can of Caffeine Free Diet Coke into a glass filled with ice.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hello, yes. I am nefarious, the evil, the nefariously evil Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq. Professional wrestling’s foremost lawyer, doctor, lawyer-doctor, and accredited member of the Associated Press.
He opens his coat slightly to reveal that, yes, he does actually have press credentials. Better nobody thinks about how that came to be.
Also thank god for copy/paste, because holy shit if I had to type “Dr. Zeke D. blah blah blah” over and over again it would get old real quick, so instead we’ll just “Dan Ryan” this one.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: My guests this evening have stated their intentions to challenge Jerry and his tag-team partner An Actual Human Woman for a pair of belts that I have been told are not just chocolate wrapped in foil. Please welcome Karl Malone and his partner BIG LORENZO.
The camera pans over to see the smiling topknot and bushy face of Joe Fontaine. Pretty sure those aren’t the right descriptions. We don’t care. Sitting next to him is Sid Phillips, who looks like he’s seated in one of those chairs that they make for children. Neither of them look like they know exactly what they’ve gotten themselves into.
Joe Fontaine: Hi, hello, hola, salutations, etc. I am Joe Fontaine de Karl Malone. This is my associate, best friend, best buddy, living powerbomb, and all around good guy, “Large” Sid Lorenzo Phillips. Esquire.
Sid Phillips: Wait, I thought you were “BIG LORENZO”?
Joe Fontaine: Don’t be ridiculous. You have a look about you that screams “BIG LORENZO”. Right, Doc?
He stares up at Dr. Badguy, and concludes based on absolutely no evidence other than being the one who gave Sid the name that he agrees with the assessment.
Joe Fontaine: Anyway, lovely to be here in your, uh…
He pauses, looks around, and shrugs.
Joe Fontaine: Your, uh… dungeon? Your basement hideout? I don’t know what this place is, how we got here, or what that smell is.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Yes, hi. That would be my Werther’s candies. The old chompers aren’t what they used to be, I’m afraid, so I like to let them sit for a spell on a space heater when I can to soften them up. And for the record my secret underground lair is most definitely not just a basement, thank you very much.
In case you’re confused, and in all fairness you should be, Dr. Zeke has appeared on exactly one episode of ReVival before this. He and his evil henchmen, The Evil Henchmen, were responsible for cooking one of the many dishes fed to the Survivor contestants almost a year ago. Since then he has somehow made his way into the Jabber realm, where an alleged “clerical error” means he has access in perpetuity.
Also, in case it’s not abundantly clear already, he’s kind of an idiot.
Oh, and Rocko has moved on to taking large bites out of a Whopper sandwich while staring directly at the camera. If you were to ask him, he’d swear it’s called a “Henchburger”, but no such thing exists and he’s not allowed to talk without permission.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Yes, anyway, first question. How do you intend to subdue the Actual Human Woman so that you may finally realize my lifelong dream of poisoning Jerry? Preferably with poison.
Joe Fontaine: Why not just poison the Actual Human Woman? Is she immune to poisons? Is she some sort of toxic hell banshee whose very presence can taint the very soil she walks on? Why do I get the feeling that asking all of these questions is just asking for me to get punted in the head some time in my future?
Sid Phillips: How did you go from “try poisoning our opponent”, which is already an extreme, to “toxic hell banshee”?
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hi, hello. To answer your first question, because it would no doubt make Jerry cry, and as we all know once that process gets going it is impossible to stop. I did not bring my floaties, and can’t swim as well as I used to, so I would rather not drown if it is all the same to you both.
A boom microphone held by a man with weak arms sails in front of Zeke’s face. He doesn’t react, because he knows that Barry has tiny T-Rex muscles at this stage in his life.
Rocko holds up a large sign that is nothing more than a giant IcyHot logo. That is until he unfolds something from the back. Now it’s a giant IcyHot logo with a custom tagline. IcyHot: For when you’re old and have the arthritis.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: To answer the rest of your questions in order. I do not know. I’m not certain. Probably yes. And was that last one directed at me?
Joe Fontaine: Depends. Did you and/or your minions… nice hoodies, by the way, very fetch… bring your punting shoes? Because the Actual Human Woman definitely brings hers. Which, to be fair, sort of suggests that she isn’t a toxic hell banshee. Because banshees don’t really do a lot of punting. They just scream a lot.
Sid Phillips: I feel like this analogy of yours is getting away from you a little bit. And by a little bit, I mean a lot. Like, there’s a chasm that you could drive a starfighter through, and still have room enough to do stunts.
Joe shrugs, the motion looking somewhat silly considering how small his chair actually is.
Joe Fontaine: Look, Doc, we don’t really need to explain all of our strategies. Stratagems. We did consult the book of Sun Tzu, and that didn’t really help us much, either. Although I didn’t know the ancient Chinese war man was a 5-Star Champion here.
Sid Phillips: You literally brought a large notebook with “Sun Tzu” taped onto it, and said it was the book of Sun Tzu. I’m not even sure anything was written in it.
Joe Fontaine: That’s what confused me.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hello, hi. Should I take this to mean that you have access to a space plane? Does the Jet Man know about this, and does it fall under his Jet Jurisdiction? I have many questions about your aerodynamic adventures and what manufacturer can create a cockpit large enough to accommodate BIG LORENZO, but perhaps it is best if we put a pin in that for now.
There’s a muffled “thunk” as the boom mic lands on one of Zeke’s shoulders, and then is quickly lifted back into the air. Behind our host, Henchman Barry has turned into one sweaty boi. Them lil’ dino arms are burnin’.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: I am made to understand that people in this company have sponsorship agreements. I myself am looking to acquire one both for Werther’s Candies and also for Polident for personal reasons. Recently I received a fax that King T’chulla of Wakanda is being endorsed by the Jolt Colas and hightop Reebok Pumps. Have either of you been approached by big industry? Perhaps T’chulla will sponsor you with some of his fine citruses.
Sid clears his throat.
Sid Phillips: Yes.
Sid Phillips: And all my sponsorships keep getting usurped by people who ride jets and I’m not allowed to powerbomb because they are staff and I’m not allowed to powerbomb staff apparently. I took enough hits to the old wallet last year and I need to cut back on that because my budget can’t keep pace with all of the powerbombs I want to dish out to every two-bit Enemigo that stares at me threateningly.
Sid Phillips: You powerbomb one Enemigo twenty-three times into a boulder and suddenly you’re the bad guy forever.
Joe Fontaine: Also, hi. Yes. I would like a sponsorship. Are you offering? Do you have some sort of poison-based sponsorship I can get behind? I assume that’s what all of your sponsorships do.
Joe pauses, as though thinking about it for a while. He’s not. He’s only pausing because he thinks that’s dramatic.
Joe Fontaine: Maybe we could talk sponsorship opportunities after we totally relieve Jerry and Actual Human Woman of their tinfoil chocolate championship belts.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Yes, hello. We can talk about sponsorships after we finish up our business here, provided that you are willing to help me construct my most brilliant device yet, the Skunk-A-Pult, which will be unleashed at the Madhouse sometime this year. I don’t know when. I’m only responsible for engineering and mechanical designs. I leave the planning to the Overcaffeinated Airship Man.
He clears his throat. It sounds not unlike a rubber chicken being stepped on.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Anyway, my own problems with Jerry are well-documented and have been passed down through the great oral tradition.
This is a lie.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: But what gripes do you have, eh? What grievances do you have? What annoyances have you endured? What irritations have you suffered? And many other sentences that all rephrase the same question.
Joe Fontaine clears his throat, and when that isn’t enough, he takes a long sip of his conveniently placed Dr. David Lemonade lemon drink and then proceeds to answer those questions.
Joe Fontaine: Well, to answer… uh, all of those questions at once, Doc, those not-berries have been real thorns in our sides. I mean, obviously, they’re the only team in PRIME that’s ever beaten us here. I’d say that’s a gripe, a grievance, an annoyance, an irritation, and a partridge in a pear tree. They also, like, did it in front of all of our friends and family, and I gotta say… not a big fan of that.
Sid Phillips: Some people even claim that I did something other than powerbombs in that match. Those people are fools.
Joe Fontaine: And I mean, I get it. It’s just the way this whole thing’s supposed to work, right? A winner and a loser. Sometimes, your ol’ boy Joe ends up on the latter end of that spectrum. I can usually accept that. But in this case, I can’t. I see those belts on those not-berries, and all I can think of is how I want to take them. Can’t stop thinking about them, really. So this time, I want to do it my way. No, our way. So, I guess that’s my gripe, grievance, etcetera?
He shrugs. Sid decides that this is the perfect time to interject.
Sid Phillips: I’m just here for the powerbombs. Everything else is fluff.
The camera pans back up to where Dr. Zeke is sitting on his ridiculous director’s chair to reveal that he’s holding a container of Dulcolax suppositories and smiling for the crowd at home. Well, we assume he’s smiling. The man’s mask doesn’t have a slot for a mouth, but it does look like he’s at least grinning under all that yarn.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hi, hi. A point of order, young Karl Malone, but technically aren’t we all “not berries?”
He doesn’t turn to look at Joe as he says this. Behind those oversized BluBlockers this dipshit is staring directly at the camera. Through the camera.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Regardless, BIG LORENZO raises an interesting point. Tell me more about these bombs and how you power them? Are they fusion-based? What isotopes are involved? Or are they some garden-variety combustibles that any enterprising villain can make out of some propane and a case of Fruit Tornado gum? Fruit Tornado, now available in green apple flavor for deviants!
Joe Fontaine: You know, I don’t really mind app–
Sid holds up a hand in front of Joe’s face, interrupting him.
Sid Phillips: I got this.
Sid clears his throat.
Sid Phillips: First of all, the thing you must understand about the powerbomb is that it uses physics and the mechanics of the human body. It is entirely human-powered. That makes it very powerful, because as we all know, humans are the most dangerous game. The second most dangerous is Tetris, as we all know. Anyway, the powerbomb requires a working knowledge of how a right angle works. It requires a measure of power greater than the weight of the poor dumb moron who’s getting powerbombed on this fine Friday evening. It requires an inhuman tolerance for crotch stink. Without all of these things, the powerbomb is merely a figment of one’s imagination. With those things, any powerbomb is possible as long as you are powerful enough to powerbomb.
Joe stares at Sid for a long moment, and then turns to Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq., jerking a thumb over his shoulder at Sid.
Joe Fontaine: …Doc, you catch everything he said?
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hello, yes. Yes.
He tosses aside the box of Dulcolax, which for whatever reason he was still holding next to his face during that entire exchange.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: If I am to understand BIG LORENZO, then the powerbomb is the means through which one person attempts to pulverize the tender, supple body of their opponent through a judicious use of physics, combined with an applied knowledge of advanced mathematics and a working, thorough understanding of geometry. Additionally, it requires the person in control to not only be sound of body, but also strong of will, for one can never tell if their opponent knows how to properly bathe themself, or if they have bathed recently. It exists in the mental as well as the physical. The powerbomb is the we, and we are the powerbomb. It is omnipresent, like the air we breathe. Graceful as the wind, and brutal as the flame. Art in the truest sense, and only an artisan may craft the powerbomb.
He pauses to stroke his chin in quiet contemplation.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Also it was invented by a Russian man who had his ideas stolen by the state, is that correct? All in the name of many communisms.
Sid Phillips: Who can say, really? Scholars are a bit torn on who truly invented the powerbomb. Some believe it was invented by Phillip Seymour P. Bomb. Others who are definitely not Alexei Ruslan believe it was invented by Ivan Stanislav. Still others think it was simply birthed into existence by an angry powerbomb god. Or Lou Thesz. Same thing, really. There are many roads to powerbombs, and many truths. Perhaps we are all powerbombs in the end.
Joe Fontaine: …What in the hell is this conversation?
Zeke holds up a duck. An actual, honest-to-god, live-ass duck. Just so everyone is aware, it’s not the same duck that was ALLEGEDLY booked against a six-year old last year. That duck is dead now.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hola, bonjour. This conversation has been brought to you by Aflac. For when the big man hurts you and you need Band-aid money, trust in the magic duck. Trust in Aflac.
Joe Fontaine: Oookay.
Sid Phillips: Tell me more of this magic duck.
Joe does a double-take and turns to Sid like he’s crazy. Because he is.
Joe Fontaine: Dude.
The Duck: (Excited quacking noises)
Zeke nods, but doesn’t put the duck down.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hello, quack. Yes. Very worthwhile information there, I must say. Also might I add that your collection of party equipment is unparalleled.
Joe Fontaine: You know, I need to ask this… is the duck available to help us win the tag titles? Just asking for a friend. Who is me. And Sid. Actually, it’d probably be better if it was just Sid.
The Duck: (contemplative quacking noises)
Once again, Zeke nods along. Evidently in addition to speaking fluent powerbomb, he is also trained in conversational duck.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Yes, hello. On behalf of my new client I have been instructed to ask what benefits you are offering as part of the standard compensation package. Do note that my client, this duck here, is unable to consume bread because he is currently watching his gluten intake. Gives him a bit of the rumbly tummy, you see. He is offering his services for the very generous price of eight pounds of shelled peanuts – no salt, he’s watching his blood pressure. Also, thirteen million dollars.
Joe Fontaine: Whoa, now. Hold on there, buster. The thirteen million, that’s doable. Everyone in PRIME has like thirteen million smackeroos. But lay off the shelled peanuts, bro. That’s mine.
Sid Phillips: Ours.
Joe Fontaine: Ours.
Joe stands from his chair, a laborious effort considering how tiny the damn thing is, and points a finger not at Zeke, but at the duck.
Joe Fontaine: The shelled peanuts are ours, just like the tag titles will be!
He points a finger at Zeke.
Joe Fontaine: Zeke! You’re, uh… you’re cool. I think? You haven’t tried to poison us in like a year, so that’s nice. I expect some poisoning in the future, though, now that I said that you haven’t tried lately.
Sid Phillips: I’m immune to poisons. All of my blood cells are comprised of concentrated powerbombs. A mere poison stands no chance.
Joe Fontaine: Dude. Don’t give him a challenge.
With one hand Zeke shifts the duck onto his lap, and with the other he waves off the implication that he poison his new friends.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Hi, no. Nonsense. There is no poison in your future, since I expect you both to murder at least Jerry. His Actual Human Woman friend I’m still on the fence about. And in this endeavor I wish you good luck, good fortune, and good vibes. Now…
He leans down from his chair, almost falling out of it in the process.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq: Are either of you boys in the market for legal representation? Medical advice? Medical-legal representation and-or advice?
Fortunately, before they can answer we fade elsewhere.
Probably because someone in the production truck finally decided that this has gone on long enough.
TOO MUCH, TOO FAST
“So you…caught him?”
In a backstage locker room, Hayes Hanlon sits on a bench, rolling a shoulder and doing his best to fight off a grimace.
Hayes Hanlon: I didn’t catch him.
The camera pans, revealing the Dragonslayer, leaning against the wall.
Jared Sykes: I mean…it looked like you at least tried, right? That’s the important part.
Home Run Hayes leans back, thudding his head into a metal locker, again fighting off a painful jolt.
Hayes Hanlon: Man, I don’t know what I did. Or tried to do. I saw Ivan chuck him into the air, and I just…moved.
Jared nods slowly, but his face betrays no emotion. Given his history and what it means to try to save an enemy – try, and fail – this one hits a little too close to home.
Jared Sykes: So what’s the part that’s getting to you… That you tried, or that you weren’t quite successful?
Hayes Hanlon: I don’t know, because….GAH!
Hayes moves to stand, but the pain in his body has other ideas, forcing him back to his seat.
Hayes Hanlon: …because it’s Rezin? Because that dirtbag took my title from me two weeks ago? AGAIN. Because I’ve imagined that dude falling to his doom more than once, but regardless…
The former champ turns a pair of confused brown eyes to the Knight Errant.
Hayes Hanlon: …I still tried to save him?
Jared pushes away from the wall and moves to an empty spot on the bench.
Jared Sykes: Because he needed it.
He’s silent for a moment, but the gears are clearly turning. All of the things he could say, the truths he could lay bare, but these are not stories for the world to hear.
Jared Sykes: Think about him for a minute. Not Rezin the wrestler, not the guy who walked out of that show with the Universal Championship. Think about Erik the person. You see the things he does, the way he carries himself… You think that guy’s got a lot of help like what you tried to do tonight? You think people are lining up to catch him everytime he falls? But you did it. You tried.
He sighs. Only two other people in the world will understand the weight of it.
Jared Sykes: Because you knew it was the right thing to do.
A long silence, and a light shake of the head from Hayes.
Hayes Hanlon: I’m gonna beat him, Jared. And when I beat him, I don’t want it to be because he fell off a mezzanine, or because Ivan chucked him through the roof. I’m gonna beat him…because I’m gonna beat the absolute shit out of him.
A heavy breath releases through Hanlon’s nose as he steadies himself, then turns an eye to Sykes.
Hayes Hanlon: Is that the “right” thing to do?
Jared Sykes: I’m gonna go with “yes”, because there’s something to be said for wanting to face a guy at his best.
Jared Sykes: Man, spin like that could get me a job with whatever the hell Alexei does.
The two share a quiet moment on the bench.
Hayes Hanlon: Really didn’t lose the belt to kick off 2023.
Jared Sykes: Man, we’re just finding all the buttons to press tonight.
Jared leans forward and rests his elbows on his knees.
Jared Sykes: Went through something similar a while ago, around the last time this place was open. Only time I’ve ever had a shot to be The Guy anywhere, and it took me ten years to get that far. I won. Wasn’t supposed to. Nobody expected it to happen, nobody wanted it to happen, but it did. Dropped it on my first defense and never got a second look at it. Sure, some things have happened since then but…
Jared Sykes: But that’s not your trajectory. Your first year, man… Your first fuckin’ year and you got there. Sure, Ivan and Rezin didn’t let it last very long, but you’re a month out from getting another crack at it. And if that doesn’t pan out, then you’ve got a third shot in the battle royal the next night. The point is it sucks now, but it’s not going to suck for long.
A small smile behind the ‘Stache-that-deserves-a-name. Hayes leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees in kind.
Hayes Hanlon: Maybe it was too much, too fast.
Jared Sykes: Do you believe that? Like… Do you honestly believe that? Because I’ve got an opinion, but I’m curious what you think.
Hayes Hanlon: (Lifting an eyebrow.) I mean, I’ve only been in the big leagues a year, dude. I don’t have a lot to compare it to…
Jared Sykes: Even if it’s “too much too fast” it’s still not something anyone gets to take away from you. Name is still in the history books forever. And like I said, the opportunity’s there to do it again. Could be talking to the first two-time Universal Champion of the ReVival era.
Hayes offers a nod, and a small smirk.
Hayes Hanlon: Well, I’m kinda planning on it.
Hammerin’ Hanlon stands from his bench, albeit slowly, stretching out some lingering pain his body from breaking Rezin’s fall earlier.
Hayes Hanlon: Thanks, man.
He goes to leave, but catches himself, turning back to one-half of the Tag Team Champions.
Hayes Hanlon: And not that you need it, but good luck in the Main Event. That gold isn’t going anywhere.
Hayes takes ginger steps out of the locker room, leaving the Dragonslayer to his own. As the two men part ways, the camera lingers on Sykes for just a moment longer, which is enough time to see him crane his neck as Hanlon walks away. He glances back over his shoulder, looking down. Then he raises a single eyebrow and shakes his head, before mouthing a single word.
Jared Sykes: Nah.
CORAL AVALON vs. EDDIE CROSS
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. 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 sets his glasses down in the corner, 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 prepares for the match.
There’s no preamble with Coral Avalon’s entrance like there usually is.
The guitar part of Monster Siren’s “Real Me” hits, and Coral walks out through billowing smoke that barely reaches him before he’s marching past it. The battle standard he carries with him is a simple green flag with two words written in a white pixelated font: “GAME OVER”.
Vince Howard: His opponent… from Seattle, Washington… weighing in tonight at two hundred and fourteen pounds… COOOOOOOOORAAAAALLLLL AVALOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!
Avalon placed his flag against the corner and pulled the cloak from his shoulders before he even entered the ring. He’s all business, even more than he usually is, as he hops onto the apron and steps into the ring. He doesn’t even bother with the hand sign this time, and instead stands in his corner and waits for the bell to sound.
Nick Stuart: That’s an unusual lack of ceremony out of Coral Avalon tonight.
Richard Parker: I don’t like the look in that man’s eyes, Nick. That’s a man who’s got places to be, and they all go through Eddie tonight.
The bell is already ringing by the time that Eddie Cross gets situated in the corner, looking to the spot where his mentor usually stands, but tonight David Gibson is absent. Though Eddie’s had a few matches under his belt and has been training with every gym he feels he can learn from there are still wrinkles to iron out of his game. One of those is situational awareness, and it’s a lesson he learns quickly. Coral Avalon sprints across the ring the moment the bell sounds, blasting Cross with a running European uppercut that sends the young man flying back into the corner.
Richard Parker: Remember those places I said Avalon needed to be? Apparently they all involve punching.
Avalon fires a volley of additional uppercuts in the corner, the first few landing before Cross is able to get his arms up to defend himself.
Nick Stuart: This is aggression we haven’t seen out of Coral Avalon since returning to PRIME, Richard. And if he’s not careful here he might find himself on the way to DQ City.
Richard Parker: Not DQ City, that’s where they make the Blizzards!
Nick Stuart: …what?
Sure enough, Elvis Nixon has made his way into the heart of the fracas to break things up by administering the dreaded five-count. It doesn’t take Avalon long to break, and he backs out of the corner with his hands up to signal his compliance. Nixon checks on Cross to make sure he can continue. EC offers a nod, and pushes his way out of the corner.
He’s caught immediately by a charging Avalon. The Rhongomyniad, the First Armament, lands flush across Eddie Cross’ jaw and sends the N1ghtcraw1er to the outside.
That’s two impossible words in one sentence. I hate both of you for this, but not as much as I hate myself for typing them instead of copy-pasting.
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross sent to the outside! And here’s Elvis Nixon with the admonishment.
Richard Parker: Oh man, I hope Cross can find a way to reset to the last save before he walked into an angry man’s punchy-kicky fiesta.
Nick Stuart: The last save?
Richard Parker: I said what I said, Nick.
Nick Stuart: So this is what tonight’s going to be like. Cool.
Nixon tries to convince Avalon to allow Cross back into the ring, but the Crownless King isn’t having it. Whatever bee snuck its way into his bonnet is buzzing up a storm. Also who’s wearing a bonnet in the year of our lord 2023?
Nick Stuart: Avalon through the ropes to the outside, and – OH!
Richard Parker: Smart play by Cross!
As Avalon steps through the ropes, Cross grabs him by the foot and pulls it to the side, throwing Coral off his balance and sending him crashing back first into the hard edge of the ring apron.
Richard Parker: Does that count as a wallhack? You know, because the side of the ring is kinda like a half wall?
Nick Stuart: I don’t even know what you’re saying right now.
With the tide in his favor and his opponent working to recover, Cross picks his target and drives a hard kick into Avalon’s left hard, jamming it between his foot and the side of the ring. When Coral tries to draw it in close to his body, Cross yanks it away and slams the arm down on the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: That’s the same arm that was injured over the break by – and I can’t believe I’m going to say this out loud…
Nick Stuart: The Crimson Miracle Bloody Blood Death Homicycle.
Richard Parker: Damn. And I thought I was clever naming my first car “Bernice”.
Referee Elvis Nixon leans his head through the ropes and barks at both men to get back inside or he’s going to start counting, which is the same move a parent might employ when their child is misbehaving (hi). It goes about as well.
Richard Parker: No, seriously. Who named that bicycle, and how many drugs were they on? Because I thought drugs were illegal in Japan. Like, big illegal.
Cross pulls Avalon over to the ring steps, and then slams his arm down on top of the unforgiving steel. He follows it up quickly ascending the stairs, making sure to stomp down on Avalon’s elbow on the way. Now it’s Cross’ turn to receive a little admonishment from Elvis Nixon. EC puts his hands up to protest his innocence, then balls them into fists and extends his pinkies. He brings his hands together in the sign of the Crownless Kingdom, and then makes a show of snapping the gesture in half. The response from the crowd is predictable.
As Avalon rolls under the bottom rope, he’s met by a series of aggressive stomps. He draws Coral up and brings him right back to the canvas with a snap suplex. A cover with his forearm pressed against Avalon’s face only gets a one count.
Nick Stuart: Cross trying to press the advantage, Richard, and you have to wonder what he learned about his opponent tonight from David Gibson. Our fans may not be aware of this, but after stepping away from the ring “the King of Old School” did play-by-play commentary for Sin City Championship Wrestling, and called what many people thought might be Coral Avalon’s last match.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but he was still wearing the sex mask back then.
Nick Stuart: He was… what? Dave Gibson never…
Richard Parker: No, the blackberry thing.
Nick Stuart: I do not want to know what you get up to in your free time, Richard.
Cross doesn’t relent, and tries to trap Avalon’s left arm coming out of the pinfall attempt. Before he can lock in any potential submission or even get a solid grip he’s met with an upkick to the chin that forces him back a few steps. The Crownless Kick rises to his feet and snaps off a kick to Cross’ thigh. Cross staggers, and then moves in, but the slight shift in balance gives Avalon enough time to get behind EC and snake one arm in the process. A half-nelson backbreaker connects, but instead of letting Cross fall, Avalon pushes him back up vertically and snaps him back down with a lungblower.
Richard Parker: I doubt we’ll be seeing that on any montages.
Nick Stuart: Don’t you mean highlight reels?
Richard Parker: Nope! It’s all about the montages, baby. Three-sixty YY no-scope! BxR! DE Dust 2!
Nick Stuart: Did you just Google all of those?
There’s the sound of a phone falling onto the announce desk.
Richard Parker: I have no idea what you’re talking about. (under his breath) Like and subscribe.
Avalon’s assault doesn’t end there. Cross rolls onto his stomach and tries to get to his feet, but his feet are suddenly yanked out from underneath him.
Nick Stuart: Wheelbarrow suplex by Coral Avalon!
Richard Parker: Uh oh, I think his stamina gauge is starting to refill.
Nick Stuart: What is with you tonight?!
Richard Parker: Oh, I’m sorry. I guess SOMEONE at the table never played a little thing called Elden Ring.
The artist formerly known as Baron Von Blackberry (it’s totally a sex mask, you guys) heads right for the corner, stepping through the ropes and ascending to the top buckle. He takes a quick moment to shake a bit more feeling back into his left arm, and then he lets fly with a frog splash.
Richard Parker: I guess Nick Stuart is too good to wander The Lands Between, huh? What’s a’ matter, Nick? You don’t want to be the Elden Lord?
Nick Stuart: I genuinely do not know what you’re talking about.
Richard Parker: My man over here talking about frog splashes and King Arthur’s Rhongonocerouses and he probably doesn’t even know how to refill an Estus Flask.
Wrong game, Richard.
Yeah, so anyway… That frog splash? It lands, but it only manages a two count before Cross is able to get his shoulder up. Avalon gets to his feet and brings Cross with him, but a back elbow to the ribs gives Cross a brief opening. He once again gets his hands on Avalon’s left arm, leads with his shoulder and steps in before taking Avalon down with a seoi nage.
Nick Stuart: A little judo out of Eddie Cross. We’ve heard that he’s been venturing to different gyms and schools across the world as of late. Might be where he picked this up.
Without letting go of wrist control, Cross rolls through the hold and uses his momentum to pull Avalon up with him. A Russian leg sweep sends both men down to the canvas as well, and once again Cross doesn’t let go. He tries to bring Coral up again, and this time Avalon doesn’t fight it. It’s a subtle trick, but Cross had been expecting resistance, so he has to adjust his balance to keep from toppling backwards. The trap is sprung. Avalon pulls in the opposite direction and uses Cross’ own weight shift against him, bringing him down into a triangle choke.
Richard Parker: Oh! Did he just frame cancel, and…
Nick Stuart: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!
Cross struggles against the move, trying to fight it with his free hand.
Nick Stuart: Well regardless of what my partner just said, Coral Avalon just managed to use Eddie Cross’ own weight against him, and now Nightcrawler…
Richard Parker: I know you didn’t say that with the ones in it.
Nick Stuart: …finds himself in a tough spot.
Richard Parker: You have to say it with the ones in it. I can tell the difference.
Things that Eddie Cross has working against him right now – he’s currently trapped in a submission hold by a man with almost two decades more experience than he has.
Things that Eddie Cross has going for him right now – hey, look at that. Those ropes are awfully close, and not in the way that would get him a rope break.
With the referee too preoccupied in checking the submission hold, Cross is able to swing both of his feet up onto the top rope to get some extra leverage. This forces Avalon back onto his shoulders, and shifts the move from a straight submission into something Elvis Nixon actually has to count.
Richard Parker: Coral’s shoulders are down!
Nick Stuart: But Cross’ feet are on the ropes!
At the last moment Coral breaks the hold, letting Cross tumble to the mat and freeing himself of the rope-aided pinning predicament.
Cross tries to plead his case, but to no avail. Meanwhile, his opponent has moved to a nearby corner and is already on his feet. No sooner does Elvis Nixon very calmly and politely explain that he counted correctly, does Eddie Cross turn around. What he sees is a close-up of the bottom of Coral Avalon’s foot for the second time this match.
The First Armament.
No, I’m not typing the name again.
Nick Stuart: Rhongomyniad!
Goddammit, Nick, I just said I wasn’t typing it again!
This time, there are no ropes for Cross to escape through. Avalon pulls Cross into a seated position and hits the ropes behind him. Where one armament lands, a second is usually sure to follow.
Nick Stuart: Secace!
A diving European uppercut lands across the back of Eddie’s head, and the lights in the Cross house go dark.
Richard Parker: And you said I was the one who didn’t make sense!
Nick Stuart: That’s got to be it!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… CORAAAAAAAAAAAAL AVALOOOOOOON!!
Avalon is already out of the ring before Vince has even finished saying his name. Apparently New Orleans is not somewhere he wants to be right now.
Nick Stuart: Fans, make sure to stay tuned, because we’ll be back with more action right after this!
COMMERCIAL: THE MADHOUSE
The Secret Meeting Place.
Not really much of a secret, if we know where it is. More of a “Nobody’s Ever Bothered Looking For It Meeting Place,” really.
Here is where some of the most creative (read: insane) minds in wrestling go over the plans for the wrestling event that people will talk about for years to come: the inaugural opening of The Madhouse.
“We’re two months away. Is it ready?”
That voice comes from a speakerbox on the far end of a conference table. The speaker probably doesn’t need to shroud himself in mystery, considering nobody is likely to remember him…but he had some very bad experiences with spies twenty years ago, and he’s not about to let them get close again.
The next to speak is Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq., renowned doctor-lawyer and mad scientist. He’s the Director of Construction for the event.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq.: Hello, yes. The facility is complete, despite SOMEBODY removing the lava missiles.
Charles Beckett: I told you, Doctor. People dying is bad.
That’s Charles Beckett, Director of Logistics. He tends to view the laws that govern reality as “whimsical suggestions,” but he draws the line at people dying.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq.: PHILISTINE! AND WHAT OF MY SKUNK-A-PULTS?!
Charles Beckett: The skunk-a-pults are awesome, but I’m not signing off on animal cruelty.
Or animals getting hurt.
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq.: It’s not cruel! It’s fun! Especially for the skunks!
Charles Beckett: You better have a study that proves it.
“Let’s circle back to that. Steve, how are the decorations and costumes coming?”
This would be Marketing Director Steven D. Thum, who is in charge of set design and costuming. That has not been his actual job title since 1999, and he was fired after four hours, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to ruin wrestlers’ careers with stupid gimmicks. If you see a wrestler dressed like a fairy viking or demonic bunny, chances are they’ve talked to this guy.
Steven D. Thum: The props will be ready by the end of the month, and most of the costumes are reserved. It’d be a lot easier if you weren’t married to this “Wild West” concept. I can get us a deal on some wizard robes…
“Not a lot of wizards in a saloon, Steve.”
Steven D. Thum: How about the California Raisins?”
Steven D. Thum: …sexy California Raisins?
“Absolutely not. Cosmo, how are things on your end?”
The Cosmo Kid, stylish as always in his pinstripe suit and luchador mask. Nobody knows what his job title is. Or what he does here. Or who even brought him into the organization.
The Cosmo Kid: Peachy, sir.
“Don’t know what we’d do without you. Now…submissions close on March 15. How many entrants do we have?”
Charles Beckett: They’ve slowed down after the initial rush, but we’re sitting at just over forty.
“Not bad. Could be better. How do we raise more interest?”
Charles Beckett: Suppose we could advertise the reward for winning.
The Cosmo Kid: Which is…?
The assembled directors look at each other, hoping one of them has the answer. Here we see the inherent flaw about putting people like this on your planning committee.They’re notoriously bad at planning.
Charles Beckett: Big sandwich?
Steven D. Thum: Coupons to Uncle Larry’s Not-At-All-Creepy Costume Emporium?
Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq.: Free rides in the skunk-a-pult?
The Cosmo Kid: Money?
“Hmm. Yes, I think ‘money’ is the way to go. The winner will recieve…let’s say, five thousand dollars…”
This is met with a murmur of indifference. Five grand? That barely even covers the skunks.
The eyes go wide. That got their attention. Charles starts typing on his phone’s calculator, because the last time he tried to do math in his head, everyone in Poland gained the power of flight.
It’s a long story.
Charles Beckett: So we’re already up to…two hundred and fifteen thousand.
“I think that should get their attention.”
FISTFIGHT AT HIGH NOON
APRIL 28, 2023
For a few dollars more…
We cut backstage to Kohime Mori. Freshly showered and dressed in a t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, she holds a shiny red gift bag close to her chest as she walks. She cranes her neck to the left, then to the right, searching. Mori shifts the bag to her left arm solely while her right hand dives into her pocket. She makes a few taps with her thumb, an expression of mild concern beginning to take hold on her face.
As if the god or goddess of serendipity or kismetedness were pulling the strings, at that moment, Mortimer Knightingale is walking down the hallway, a look of impending doom across his face as Tony Gamble crony, Frank Pastore “escorts” him, that is, until he sees Kohime Mori. A bright, genuine smile crosses his face and he turns to Pastore and says something inaudible.
Mortimer Knightingale approaches Mori, giving her a nervous wave, as Pastore watches from a fair distance.
Mortimer Knightingale: Mori, uh, hi, no, wait, I’ve been practicin’….Ko-Nee-Cha-Wee.
The masked wrestler proceeds to give Mori a slight bow before looking proudly into her eyes. She could correct him… But not right now. Let this be a lesson, children. When it comes to friends like Kohime, the effort is more important than the result. She smiles exuberantly, a slight giggle coming from her person. She returns Mortimer’s bow.
Kohime Mori: You’re close! We’ll work on it. I appreciate that you went to such lengths regardless!
This was a pleasant surprise. One so pleasant that Kohime almost forgets the bag she’s holding. She twitches, as if her brain’s been struck by lightning. Mori hurriedly holds the bag out in front of her, taking a far deeper bow than necessary.
Kohime Mori: I wanted to show you my appreciation for your kindness. Please accept this gift!
Mortimer takes the bag, a slight gasp followed by a chuckle escapes him as he does so.
Mortimer Knightingale: You shouldn’t….thank you.
Mortimer opens the bag, an almost giddy feeling coming over him, like a child on Christmas morning, the anticipation building as he reaches into the bag and pulls out a black box, the words “L’Homme” followed by “Yves Saint Laurent”. He looks at the box.
Mortimer Knightingale: La Homey. I think Damon Wayans endorses this.
As Komi looks on, Mortimer fumbles with the box while handling the bag until he opens it revealing the bottle. He uncaps it and spritzes it in the air, the woody scent with a touch of citrus hits his nostrils.
Mortimer Knightingale: That’s nice.
Mortimer places the cologne back into the box and into the bag when he notices another package, a long thin rectangular box with a Macy’s logo. Did he mention to Mori his previous job as a sales associate at Macy’s? He must have. He opens the box revealing a black satin tie. He looks up at Mori.
Mortimer Knightingale: I, uh….
Thoughts race through Kohime’s mind at Knightingale’s reaction. Was it too formal? Maybe he doesn’t like the color black? What if he’s more of a bow tie kind of chap? There’s only one course of action here that makes sense… Panic and babble.
Kohime Mori: I’m sorry! I thought it looked nice and everyone could use a tie! Well, maybe not pastors. They wear those white collar things… I’m Buddhist, so I don’t know what they’re called. Some women probably also wouldn’t want a tie, but there’s some women that look really snazzy in a suit. Clowns might not need ties either, but why would they show up to a formal occasion in their clown attire?
The plot? Kohime lost that somewhere along the way of her rambling. She bows again, this one different from the previous one.
Kohime Mori: I’m sorry… I was hoping you’d like it…
The young woman does her best to keep her voice from trembling. She should have waited, gotten to know Mortimer better. Embarrassment. Sadness. These weren’t new feelings for her. There was just hope on her part that she wouldn’t screw this up.
Mortimer Knightingale: No! It’s…beautif…I can’t….
Mortimer Knightingale stumbles over his words. There are no words that he can come up with at this moment to express how he feels. He looks at Mori and expresses himself in the best way he can think of…..
Mortimer Knightingale: Lookin’ in your eyes, I see a paradise. This world that I found is too good to be true. (singing) Standin’ here beside you, want so much to give you, this love in my heart that I’m feelin’ for you…..
Mortimer places the bag on the ground, turns from Mori before spinning back, continuing to sing, this time with more feeling and emotion.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): Let’em say we’re crazy! I don’t care about that…. Put your hand in my hand….
Mortimer Knightingale reaches out and takes Mori by her hand.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): Baby don’t ever look back! Let the world around us, Just fall apart! Baby we can make it if we’re heart…..
Mortimer brings Mori’s hand to his chest.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): ….to heart….
Mortimer gently places his hand on Mori’s sternum, careful not to make contact with her chestal region yet maintaining eye contact, his tone softer, the melody slowing.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): And we can build this dream together, standin’ strong forever, Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us….Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now…..
Kohime Mori’s ring gear is rose gold in color. Kohime Mori’s face is now rose gold in color. Was this romantic? Was it just an emotional outburst of friendship? Was it profoundly embarrassing? Maybe a little bit of all three. The Moé Monster looks down at the floor, taken hold of by bashfulness.
Kohime Mori: Um…
The pause is brief, but there regardless. Mori is now the one having to find the right words. She could certainly talk, no doubt about that. This was a delicate situation, though. One wrong move could set off a landmine. Kaboom, your friendship has been brutally murdered via exploding dinner plate. Steps must be taken carefully… Or she could just blurt something out to break the silence.
Kohime Mori: You have a beautiful singing voice!
In some cases, such words could be taken as a false compliment. This is Kohime we’re talking about, though. Lying isn’t a thing she’s really built to do. If she said something, she meant it. Maybe she laid it on too thick, but it’s better to be too nice than not nice enough.
Mortimer Knightingale: You’re beautiful.
The words linger in the air. There is an awkwardness in the silence as both Mortimer and Mori look at each other, both looking flush. Mortimer feels a twinge of panic, did he overplay his hand? Did he go too far? Did he just get caught up in the emotion of the moment? Mortimer breaks the gaze by reaching down and pulling out the tie. He proceeds to tear off the tag and adorns the tie over the teal and white track suit he is donning, forming a perfect Windsor knot.
Mortimer Knightingale: Whaddya think?
The knot work is certainly impressive. The tie-tracksuit combo though? Tacky. Pointless. Gaudy. The list could go on and on. Kohime, for her part, giggles at the visual. It looks ridiculous. But it’s the best kind of ridiculous, the kind you share with close friends. Her wonderful smile returns in force.
Kohime Mori: I think it looks amazing!
Remember, this woman can’t lie. Is it the absurd sight causing her smile? Maybe it’s more seeing her friend enjoying the gift she had gotten for him. It’s nice to get a gift. As you grow older and more mature, giving a gift someone appreciates can be even better. Which is it? Both, probably.
Mortimer resists the urge to respond with “Not as amazin’ as you.”. She has a way of turning him back into the gawky, awkward lad who rang up Alfani shirts at Macy’s more than twenty years ago. It’s an uncomfortable, yet exhilarating feeling. He smiles in response and plays with the knot slightly. The sound of a large Tony Gamble mook clearing his throat, however, kills the moment (or, perhaps, provides the perfect excuse for Morty to leave before he says something to torpedo what he and Mori have).
Mortimer Knightingale: I gotta go.
Kohime’s expression sags. Of all the friends she’s had, Mort was the most unique. It was like he didn’t or wouldn’t let life beat him down. His energy was something she wasn’t used to. RAIKO would keep things grounded, serious. Even if she allowed Mori to get a bit goofy, the teacher didn’t join in herself. Knightingale didn’t seem to have any such reservations. Mori sighs and nods.
Kohime Mori: Okay… I look forward to hanging out some more.
The words weren’t exactly poetry, but it would have to do. Kohime did her best to sneak a tricky glance Pastore’s way. There was something about that man that bothers her. She didn’t want Mortimer to get in trouble. Trouble with a potential mobster? That rarely went well. She offers a polite bow Mortimer’s way.
Kohime Mori: Let’s meet again soon.
Mortimer beams at her statement and offers a polite bow of his own. A little light in what has been an otherwise dreary PRIME existence rejuvenates him, she makes him, as Frank once crooned “Feel So Young” and every second he is on her presence, he feels like is closer to becoming a better version of himself.
Mortimer Knightingale: Sayonara.
Mortimer flashes her one last smile before taking a deep sigh knowing that this moment with Mori ending and now he must be “escorted” to Lord Shitpants, Tony Gamble. He turns and heads towards the waiting Frank Pastore. He turns his head for one last glimpse at Mori and smiles. Kohime beams at him, giving Morty a hyperactive wave before he turns and takes his leave.
We cut to the back hallway of the Smoothie King Center. TOUGH LOVE Darin Zion is on the move. Sporting his brand new TOUGH LOVE PRIME blue shirt and jeans; Zion jets towards a special locker room. His eyes lock onto the sign on the door: The Love Convoy. Zion’s made it towards their locker room. Without a single ounce of hesitation–Darin Zion’s foot kicks the wooden door with force.
TOUGH LOVE marches into the room, eyes darting all around the place like a madman. But Darin cannot find the purpose of his mission. The San Diego native calls out, his voice echoing through the locker room.
Darin Zion: VICKIE?! Where the fuck are you?!
Lurking around every corner of the Love Convoy’s special quarters, Darin searches for any sign of Vickie Hall.
Darin Zion: GOD DAMNIT! Vickie…where the hell are you?
Darin barrels through the next area of the locker room. The veins on his forehead are now throbbing.
Darin Zion: VIIIIIIIIICKIE……I swear….
Before Darin can continue his pursuit, Vickie catches TOUGH LOVE off guard and startles him. The Bae of Jonathan-Christopher wraps her arms around Zion’s body tightly while she shrills out in excitement.
Vickie Hall: OH EM GEEEEEEEEE! ZIOOOOOOOON! I’m so proud of your performance last week, buddy. Congratulations on advancing to the next round of the Alias Title Tournament. Got a surprise for you, boo! I got your match bumped off Revival 24. Figured TOUGH LOVE and one half of the PRIME 4EVA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD COULD use a break after all his hard work. Between your skyrocketing performances here and….THAT OTHER GOD AWFUL organization…you need a break.
Vickie squeals with delight, but Darin doesn’t reciprocate the love. Zion stands still, clenching his fists. TOUGH LOVE’s breathing is rather heavy–his grunting shows is annoyance with Mrs. Hall. He bites down on his lips, while Vickie continues to fidget with the angered Alias Title Contender. Vickie lightly jabs Zion in the shoulders while she gloats.
Vickie Hall: COOOOOME ON, ZIOOOON! #Zion4FutureAliasChamp! #ZionAlias4EVVVAAA! #Conquest4Gold…..ZION IS DA BESTEST DOOD EVAAAAAAR! Jonathan-Christopher and I owe you big as the LOVE CONVEY is about to take ALL THE GOOOOOLD…
Darin Zion: Vickie….shut the hell up!
The New Orleans crowd explodes in a loud pop as Vickie’s smile fades. TOUGH LOVE inches closer to Vickie Hall–backing her straight into one of the wooden lockers. The frantic Smoothie King center chants “Zion!” They all wonder if tonight’s the night Zion betrays 2B1.
Darin Zion: Seriously, shut the fuck up before you bury yourself even more. Let’s take a quick trip down good ole’ memory lane, shall we, HOOOOOOON?
Zion whips out his Zi-Phone 14 Max and shoves it straight in Vickie’s face. Darin hits play at the end of the segment from Revival 22 after he exited the room.
Vickie Hall’s Voice Last Week: It’s do-or-die for Zion tonight, dear.
The clips flashes back to Jonathan-Christopher empathically nodding before we cut back to an infuriated Zion, about to tear his tag partner’s boo a new asshole. Darin slips his phone back into his pocket. He cracks his knuckles and glares a hole straight into Vickie Hall.
Darin Zion: I don’t know what the fuck is your problem…
Vickie Hall: Well for starters you owe me money for the dancers for our 4EVER….
Darin Zion: QUIET! BITCH!
The appalled look on Vickie’s face sells her disappointment in Zion. But TOUGH LOVE doesn’t read the room. Darin continues to belittle her, edging closer to Vickie’s face.
Darin Zion: Like I said…I don’t know what your fucking problem is…but it ends here tonight. I gave you MY commitment to making The Love Convoy work a few weeks ago. I’ve told you how I felt when we LOOOOOOST the PRIME Tag Team Titles at Colossus. But you can’t seem to let this little misunderstanding go.
Vickie crosses her arms while Darin continues.
Darin Zion: Now, I’ve had 2 other tag team partners in HOW betray me. Both befriended me and became my BFF’s. Both stabbed me in the back. And I don’t take kindly to idle threats made behind my back. ESPECIALLY when it may ALLUDE to the same outcomes I’ve experienced in the past.
Darin Zion looks down to the ground. TOUGH LOVE shakes his head.
Darin Zion: Jonathan-Christopher, Tritan-Crispin, and you are my BFFs. I’ll stand by your side through thick and thin. But you hurt me last week after I left. That really fuckin’ stung. It hit me right here…
Darin Zion slams his fist stiffly against his chest. Vickie stands there, staring off into the distance.
Darin Zion: Look, I don’t like having to play the bad guy and establishing these boundaries. Hell, I don’t enjoy sharing my emotions on these things, Vick…I don’t. I hate every minute of it. But…
Vickie flinches as Darin Zion cocks back his arm and…
TOUGH LOVE wraps his arms tightly around Vickie, giving her the biggest bear hug in the history of PRIME. The crowd boos as Zion squeezes his BFF tightly.
Darin Zion: Let’s bygones be bygones already, buudddddy!!!!! HOOOOOOOOOONK! HOOOOOONK! HOOOOOOONK!
Darin Zion squeezes his hug tighter.
Darin Zion: We gotta strengthen this connection so we can become the FOOOOOOORRREEEEEVVVVVVERRR CHAAAAAAAAAMMMMPIONS ACROOOOOSSSSSS ALLLLL PRIME Wrestling!!!!!
TOUGH LOVE releases the hold, slapping Vickie across the back rather stiff-like.
Darin Zion: Now come on….show me where JC and TC are at so I can help strategize with their matches tonight.
Zion skips off into the distance as Vickie just sneers before walking off camera.
ADAM ELLIS vs. TONY GAMBLE
We come back to ringside, where referee Jimmy Turnbull has arrived to officiate our next match before we cut to Nick and Richard at commentary!
Nick Stuart: Welcome back folks, after what we just saw from the Love Convoy we are back to in-ring action as Adam Ellis, a man trying to bounce back from his loss to Jonathan-Christopher Hall, takes on Tony Gamble one on one!
Richard Parker: Listen, Adam knew what he was getting into bringing his wife with him to the ring at ReVival 21…and every time he brings the missus out here is a risk he’s willing to take, and a gamble that Tony is willing to cash in on!
We cut back to the ring where Vince Howard is standing by!
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
Vince Howard: Being accompanied to the ring by Ginny Van Lear, he comes to the ring from Warrensburg, Missouri, weighing in at 226 pounds…ADAAAAM ELLLIIIIISSSS!
“Oh, I might be a little rough around the edges”
Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear.
“From the outside lookin’ in it might seem helpless.”
The couple reaches the ring. Adam holds the rope open so Ginny can slide through.
“I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone – I never coulda made it on my own”
Adam joins her in the ring.
“But if there’s one thing that I know – Momma didn’t raise no…”
Adam climbs up the top turnbuckle and holds up his arms.
Nick Stuart: Ellis looking extra focused tonight as he gets set to take on Tony Gamble.
Richard Parker: I sure hope so, Gamble is a veteran of the business and if there’s an opening, he damn sure will take it!
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
“You think I’m funny… Funny how?”
The unmistakable voice of Joe Pesci irritates the eardrums right before Metallica’s ‘Better Than You’ begins to blast through the PA System, the calling card of Tony ‘The Grin’ Gamble. He walks out at the same time the music kicks in, passing a quick arrogant glance toward the crowd before making his way toward the ring once the lyrics of the song kick in.
## I look at you, then you me
Hungry and thirsty are we
Holding the lion’s share
Holding the key
Holding me back ’cause I’m striving to be ##
Footage from Revolution 94 when Gamble locked The Illustrious Face Eater into his ‘Smile For Me’ submission and won the Internet Title plays.
Vince Howard: From Las Vegas, Nevada, weighing in at 187 pounds, he is The Grin…TOOOONYYYY GAAAAAAAMBLEEEEEE!
## Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you ##
Tony takes his time walking up the ring steps, staring into the ring for a few seconds with his left hand on the top rope, before ducking between the top and middle rope to step into the ring. Footage from Revolution 106 plays, where Gamble slams Kenjiro Ito face first into the mat with his ‘Stop Laughing At Me’ signature move.
## Lock horns, I push and I strive
Some how I feel more alive
Bury the need for it
Bury the seed
Bury me deep when there’s no will to be ##
Another clip shows, this one from the Great American Nightmare; where Tony Gamble became the Five Star Champion by pinning Chandler Tsonda.
## Better than you
Better than you
Better than you
Better than you ##
Nick Stuart: Tony looking awfully smug going into this match, Richard.
Richard Parker: I can’t say I blame him, he’s a confident man and confidence is key!
With that, Turnbull calls for the bell to get this match underway!
We start things off with a collar and elbow tie-up, before Gamble goes for a side headlock on the taller Ellis…who shoves Gamble away to slip out of the hold. Gamble goes for a wide right hook, but Ellis dodges it before sending the Grin to the ropes with an Irish whip…only for Gamble to duck a clothesline attempt on the rebound, using the momentum to slide through Adam’s legs and get back to his feet…raking the eyes of Ellis to the chagrin of the crowd! Gamble pays no mind to their hate as he lays into Ellis with some hard lefts and rights.
Ellis doesn’t take this lightly however, fighting back with some forearms of his own as the crowd get behind him…but the Grin catches him with a kick to the gut followed by a DDT, driving the head of Ellis hard into the canvas! Gamble back on his feet, taunting the crowd booing him before going back to work with some stomps to Adam’s midsection to wear him down further…before hitting a leg drop across the neck of Ellis! Gamble goes for a cover here, as Turnbull makes the count!
Ellis manages to kick out!
Adam gets back to his feet, but Gamble goes right back after him with a flurry of punches to send Ellis toward the corner. Tony follows this up with some stomps to the midsection…until Adam manages to fight back again, pulling Tony toward the turnbuckle to turn things around, and now Ellis is in control with some lefts and rights before sending Tony to the opposite corner with an Irish whip. Adam charges toward the Grin, who manages to duck out of the way just in time for Ellis to collide with the turnbuckle!
Adam falls back-first to the canvas, giving Tony an opening to stomp away at the head of Ellis using the top rope for leverage until Turnbull intervenes. Admonished for his actions by the official, Gamble just laughs and shrugs it off as Adam slowly stands back up. Gamble rushes toward Ellis, who catches the Grin by surprise with a drop toehold!
Adam looks for a modified STF but the Grin slips out quickly, rolling under the bottom rope to take a breather on the outside until Ellis follows suit…only to be blindsided with a right hand by Gamble, who then sends Ellis into the steel steps!
Nick Stuart: Oh boy, that does NOT look good for Ellis!
Richard Parker: Adam’s gonna have a tough time mounting an offense off of that, an early turning point for the Grin!
Ellis looks to be in a bad way after that, but Gamble just stares him down before giving a big smile, as the crowd lets Tony know what they think of him with another chorus of boos. Tony just laughs this off before going back on the attack with some stomps to the head of Adam, keeping a razor-sharp focus on it as he brings Ellis to his feet…only to slam him face-first onto the ring apron! By this point, Turnbull has already started a count!
But the count is broken up as Gamble rolls into the ring…and right back out, still focused on wearing Adam down as much as possible. Tony grabs Ellis, pulling him away from the ring just long enough to Irish whip him right back, the impact focused on Adam’s ribs now as Turnbull is back at it on the count!
Gamble keeps at it with some hard elbows to the skull of Ellis, before rearing back for a kick behind Adam’s knee, which causes Ellis to buckle right at the joint as he drops to the floor.
Satisfied with the damage done, Gamble rolls back into the ring!
Nick Stuart: Tony heading back into the ring already? Is he really taking an easy way out here?
Richard Parker: Hey man, that’s the veteran smarts kicking in! A win is a win is a win, Nick.
Ellis has to use the apron to pull himself up, but he finally manages to get to his feet…
…and is able to slide back into the ring to stop the count! Ellis is favoring his knee as he gets back to his feet once more, using the ropes to prop himself up. Tony, naturally, sees the opening this provides and now has a new target locked in as he lands a hard kick to that left leg to do as much damage as possible, a big grin on his face with every kick as the crowd pours more and more hate upon Gamble for it.
This, of course, is only met with a laugh from Tony as he hits another DDT on Adam, the impact on the head and neck really starting to take its toll on Ellis. This time, however, Gamble decides to go for a Boston crab to take advantage of the hurt knee…but as he goes for the legs, the Grin is shoved away with a kick by Ellis!
The crowd roars in approval as Adam once again uses the ropes to help himself back to a standing position, trying as hard as he can to shake off the pain in his left knee as Tony charges at him once more…only this time, Ellis is prepared and connects with an arm trap neckbreaker that drives Gamble down hard to the canvas! With a sense of urgency behind it, Adam goes for the cover as Turnbull makes the count!
Not quite a two count before Gamble is able to kick out of that, and Ellis slowly builds back up to a vertical position to figure out his next move precisely at the moment the Grin is back to his feet as well…but Adam ducks a clothesline attempt, hitting a snap suplex in the process! The crowd’s willing him on but Ellis is too hurt to go for another cover here!
Adam rolls to his stomach, rebuilding a base from which to stand as he hobbles over to the corner. He climbs up top, launching himself for an elbow drop…but Tony rolls out of the way, forcing Ellis to come crashing down hard upon the canvas as a result!
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis looking all out of sorts here after that elbow drop misses the mark!
Richard Parker: And it looks like Tony’s having a chat with a certain someone, Nick! I told you her presence out here was a bad idea!
We quickly see what Richard means as Tony rolls out of the ring, getting in the face of Ginny Van Lear who has stayed out of the way of this match up to this point. Something about this strikes a nerve with Adam, using a rush of adrenaline to push through the pain as he rolls out of the ring to confront Gamble…who grabs Van Lear, using her as a human shield! Adam knows better than to play that game, holding back as Gamble lets go of her before sliding back into the ring. Adam follows close behind, only to take a boot to the head by the Grin for his troubles!
Feeling quite good about his chances, Gamble brings Ellis to his feet in preparation for a front Russian leg sweep…but Ellis shoves him away, feigning a kick before connecting with a big Superman Punch on the Grin! Tony quite literally takes the punch on the chin as he drops to the canvas…and with Adam still feeling the effects on his knee, he foregoes trying to lock in the elevated Boston Crab to make a cover instead, the crowd following along as Turnbull makes the count!
DING DING DING
Ellis struggles to get back to his feet as Ginny slides into the ring, helping him stand as Turnbull raises his arm in victory.
Vince Howard: Here is your winner…ADAAAAAM ELLLIIIIISSSS!
Nick Stuart: He did it! Ellis picks up the win over Tony Gamble!
Richard Parker: Adam managed to stay focused even with his wife nearly being a distraction again, but you gotta believe Tony will be content with the damage he put on Ellis tonight!
Nick Stuart: True, I can’t help but wonder what condition Ellis will be in after tonight, especially as we roll on toward Culture Shock. Don’t go away folks, we’re just moments away from more exciting action as FLAMBERGE takes on Jonathan-Christopher Hall!
Ginny helps Adam out of the ring, but Ellis tries to insist he’ll be okay as the pair leave ringside. This leaves us with Tony Gamble still in the ring, a look of frustration on his face as we go to commercial!
COMMERCIAL: HOW PRESENTS SUNDAY NIGHT CHAOS
THE POWDER KEG
We cut backstage to a PRIME-branded backdrop, mixed with a few Smoothie King logos for the brand synergy. Before long, we see the brooding young FLAMBERGE step into frame and fans in the arena boo in response. He’s in his ring gear, teal and bronze shorts and boots emblazoned with fiery swords and white tape around his wrists. He gives his neck a quick twist-and-crack before staring down the barrel of the camera lens.
FLAMBERGE: OK listen up, vous connards, I intend to make this the quick. I have a match coming up next and I can already see the antsy man with the clipboard and the walkie talkie all bunchy-panty about what I might say or do here. Easy, homeboy, stop pointing at your wristwatch. You already had the commercial break.
FLAMBO dismissively waves away the unseen assistant.
FLAMBERGE: But I understand the anxieties…the powers that be see me as the powder keg they are so very ready to set off with the spark, but they do not want the repercussions of the bomb they set off. They tease me and they puppeteer me to have the match against le monsieur Hall, only to give the daddy of all bitch Anglue Gluechador the spot RIGHT AFTER ME, non? And in another joke for themselves, his match is against his own personal Love Convoyeur? Typical treatment that PRIME gives FLAMBERGE…lest we forget of the time when I won the 5 Star, and they decided the first defense must be against les trois autres connards and not the one-on-one.
FLAMBERGE closes his eyes and runs a hand up his wild vertical flamelike hair while inhaling slowly through his nose. Is that a slight shake in his hand?
FLAMBERGE: Fine. You know what? Fine. I can think of the worse ways to spend the evening than battering doux petit Jonathan-Christopher Hall into the pulp while the Gluechador watches helplessly. Helplessly, like he always is, hiding behind his social media and his mask and his ingrate fans, holding me down, judging me, JEALOUS of me, and his…
We hear a shout from far down the hall.
TAL: HEY YOU! You know you really should make sure I’m not in earshot if you’re gonna talk caca, you French dipshit!
FLAMBERGE’s attention is jolted by the shout, and he quickly turns to the direction of the offscreen production assistant he poo-pooed earlier…
FLAMBERGE: Oui? They need me now? Bon. Time to go.
…and he briskly leaves. After a beat or two, we see TAL step into frame, clearly having run down the hall in hopes of catching the Frenchman. It’s no use though.
TAL: This shit has gotta end soon.
Camera cuts to another part of the arena.
GAMERS, AM I RIGHT?
Backstage at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Mushigihara and David Fox are preparing for the match of a lifetime against The Kings of Popsicles, and maybe more importantly, David Fox is preparing to face Jared Sykes.
Mushigihara: Look, it’s just another match, right?
David Fox: Pfft, “another match,” he says.
David Fox: You know how important this is to me. And the titles riding on this match means you got something to fight for too!
Mushi nods and playfully punches his partner’s arm.
Mushigihara: Don’t worry, we got this. Win or lose, we got this.
“Do you?” a voice says from across the room.
The Kaiju turns and growls menacingly at the intruder, Eddie Cross.
Mushigihara: What do you want, Cross? Davey and I have some titles to win tonight.
Eddie looks to have seen better days, but is in good spirits after a hard contested bout against Coral Avalon. He slicks his hair back and pulls his gaming glasses off to look at Mushi.
Eddie Cross: Hey big man, I’m not here to fight. I just came by to see how you were doing with the big match coming up. If you let your partner down after years of waiting to face Sykes, I sure wouldn’t want to be in your shoes.
David Fox: He’s just trying to get in your head Mushi. Let it go.
Eddie smiles and stares through Mushi.
Eddie Cross: Am I? Or am I just pointing out what is already in his head? He knows he isn’t good enough for this match and if he costs you in the biggest match of your life it might just destroy your friendship. Ten years of silence, David. You don’t think that he can keep a secret?
Mushi charges at Eddie, only for the younger man to hold up a hand and yell at him.
Eddie Cross: WHOA TUT TUT TUT! You don’t want to lose this shot before you even get it do you? You touch me? I’ll throw your ass under the bus quicker than you can imagine. Being the son of a naive do-gooder with LT’s ear has its perks, after all.
Mushi stops dead in his tracks and emits a low, simmering growl.
David Fox: He’s bluffing, Mushi. He hasn’t even talked to his Dad since he got here.
Eddie nods and smirks.
Eddie Cross: He’s right, big man, but if you think for a second I won’t use every advantage I have at my disposal, you’re dead wrong. See, I’m not a liar…
He slinks toward the door, keeping his eyes on The God Beast.
Eddie Cross: But this game is play to win, and I’m better than you.
Eddie nods and puts his glasses back on.
Eddie Cross: Okay, okay. Has he always been this easy to put on tilt?
The n1ghtcraw1er stops for one last barb.
Eddie Cross: Good luck, you two. Not that I believe in luck.
E.C. disappears around the corner and leaves David and Mushi to stew.
David Fox: Man you weren’t kidding. What is his problem?
The Kaiju only shakes his head and groans in annoyance.
Mushigihara: Gamers, am I right?
David Fox: Hey, now! Let’s just focus on the main event, OK?
Mushi growls in agreement, as David gets back to his stretching routine and we cut.
FLAMBERGE vs. JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL
I AM dangerous
Nick Stuart: You have to be kidding me!
“Dangereux” by IAM. And across the PRIMEview?
Nick Stuart: Folks, I would be remiss to state that these two men are exactly fan favorites in PRIME. However, they are two decidedly strong young talents, and this match up is sure to be quite interesting.
The former 5 Star Champion, the French Super Athlete, FLAMBERGE walks briskly to the ring, stone-faced, ignoring the fans around him as he is in the zone. He carries with him swagger, confidence, and heat in both his hands and his knees. He walks around the ring before hopping onto the ring apron and slipping through the ropes.
Vince Howard: This bout is scheduled for one fall, and has a thirty minute time limit! Introducing first, standing six feet and weighing in at two-hundred-and-six-pounds, he hails from STRASBOURG, FRANCE! He is…FLLLLLLAAAAAAM! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRGE!
On the opening cords of “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, the Smoothie Center boos heavily. This ReVival, there is no solo Jonathan-Christopher Hall, but rather, a confident one, flanked by his Amazing Life Partner Vickie Hall and fellow Love Convoy member Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy. They hold hands, their eyes locked on one another, all as Tristan-Crispin saunters behind, giving himself big ole NUZZLE hugs.
Vince Howard: And finally, accompanied by Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy and his Amazing Life Partner Vickie Hall, from Folsom, Louisiana and weighing in at two-hundred and twenty pounds…JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL!
The trio make their way to the ring, and as he goes to the ring steps, the Timid Tiger blows his Vickie a kiss. Leaving his Amazing Life Partner, Jonathan-Christopher makes his way into the ring. His attentions, always on Vickie, rob him of the awareness of the bullet heading his way, grabbing him by the neck and ripping him into the ring over the top rope. Jonathan-Christopher tries to get to his feet, but a barrage of ferocious elbow strikes blast him across the ring, dropping him to the canvas, all while Ashley Barlow tries to gain some form of order as FLAMBERGE continues to strike. Falling back onto his ass, Hall tries to beg off, crossing his arms, back perching against the corner, all as Vickie tries to grab hold of him, shrill screaming like a banshee, the melted crayola of Barbie’s launches a nonstop stream of curses that, given that it’s coming from her, get censored by the Ace Network. PWATv carries the whole thing, though, and the world is poorer for it.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE not wasting any time here! He’s on a mission! A heat seeking missile assault on Jonathan-Christopher Hall!
Richard Parker: This…this is not love! Jonathan-Christopher is a lover, not a damn pit fighter! This kind of assault is just…well…I mean…
Nick Stuart: Circuits getting crossed, Richard?
Richard Parker: I mean, this is…this match…it’s going to be a tough one…and FLAMBERGE isn’t making it any easier. I was…I wanted a sporting competition. Not a bar room brawl!
Gladhappy is storming about the outside of the ring, trying to pull Vickie away, and the only way he manages is with the power of NUZZLES~! YES, NUZZLES~! And JCH? He is only still surviving because Barlow is acting as a barrier, stern in her stance, admonishing the French Super Athlete.
FLAMBERGE: Laisse-moi à cette salope de Nicholas Sparks! Je vais lui faire manger de la merde et de la colle!
Ace would probably censor this too, but their French department is rather lax. Jonathan-Christopher tries to take a powder, but as he is about to slip away, FLAMBERGE swim moves past Barlow, snatching Hall by the ankle, yanking him away from the ropes before dropping a crushing elbow to his throat. Rising to his feet, FLAMBERGE is about to smash him in the face with another powerful forearm strike, perhaps even a knockout blow, but Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy helps his fellow partner in love (surely not the kind that lands you in court, no siree), all as JCH grabs at his throat and neck and stumbles, dropping to a knee before shooting back to a stand. A violent swing from Hall follows, hitting only air, causing the ALP to fall on his face.
Nick Stuart: Hall in all sorts of trouble here!
Richard Parker: And WATCH OUT! FLAMBERGE IS COMING!
The former 5 Star Champion is, indeed, coming, slipping under the bottom rope. Tristan gives his friend and maybe future cellmate a push to get him going, causing JCH to start running around the ring. FLAMBO is fast, but he is no FLAMBORGHINI, but all the same, he still gives chase, following behind, drawing closer and closer. One revolution around the ring. Another.
Nick Stuart: Did…did Hall do something to FLAMBERGE? This seems rather intense.
Richard Parker: I mean, maybe he said his dad loves him very much.
As they are about to do their third run around the ring, and as they are about to cross Vickie Hall, Jonathan-Christopher passes. FLAMBERGE is about to. Except for one thing; her foot trips him. And not seeing the foot, FLAMBERGE quickly spirals out of control, wobbling before crashing down violently. JCH is halfway across the outside of the ring before he hears the shouting of his Amazing Life Partner over the beating of his own heart. And when he does? He sees a chance to strike. He quickly makes his way back, grabbing onto FLAMBERGE as he is trying to get up, hitting him with a crisp (not Crispin) swinging neckbreaker. The thud is dull against the padding. Fueled by the power of love, Hall shoots up, grabbing onto FLAMBERGE by his wonderful and stylish hair, all before driving him into the ring steps.
Is Ashley Barlow counting? Yes. Let’s say we are at eight. Because it doesn’t matter. Because Jonathan-Christopher Hall is now rolling the former 5 Star Champion back into the ring, returning himself, and, once again, grabbing him by his wonderful locks (sponsored by Bret’s Cote du Boeuf Potato Chips; these original crisps will delight meat lovers with their good taste of grilled beef and their slightly sweet juicy note! Bret’s Chips…by…BRET’S!), pulling him up by said locks (sponsored by Philip B Forever Shine Shampoo…transforms all hair types with instant, dramatic results! With Saffron!) until the French Super Athlete is on all fours.
Nick Stuart: The tide might be shifting thanks to that trip by Vickie Hall…and look at her…just twirling her hair like she did nothing wrong…
Richard Parker: Well…I mean…you have to be aware of your surroundings.
The Timid Tiger backs into the ropes, springing off them and jumping forward, the heels of his boots connecting with the side of FLAMBERGE’s head with a dropkick. The blow is enough to force the former 5 Star Champion to roll to the ring apron, all before trying to pick himself up with the the ropes. Vickie, in all her eldritch glory, whispers in the ear of Tristan-Crispin, who nods and beams, giving himself a big ole NUZZLE~! Because you see…self NUZZLES are a wonderful form of SELF CARE~! He walks to FLAMBERGE, looking to reach for him.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: HEY FRIEND, IT’S TIME TO LISTEN TO THE LATEST MIX FROM DJ TRISTY CRISPY!
Oh what a treat.
Except, as his fingers draw close to smother FLAMBO in Hell’s cruel embrace, Barlow is quick to tell him that if comes one step closer, it’s a disqualification. And poor Tristan is now crestfallen. And Vickie Hall is The Swear Word Monster. There is no child or the secret here…just pure, unadulterated FCC fining madness.
Nick Stuart: Official Ashley Barlow on top of everything as it pertains to this contest.
Richard Parker: Surely didn’t pick up them awareness skills from Old Man Bolamba.
Hall hits the opposite ropes again, barreling straight towards FLAMBERGE, and when he reaches the ropes, he dives through, crashing into the rising FLAMBO with a cross body that sends both men crashing to the outside. The Glue Factory Prodigy acts as the mattress. Ouchies. The Timid Tiger picks himself up first, and as he does, finds himself in the welcome embrace of his Amazing Life Partner, the pair giving each other eskimo kisses.
Richard Parker: WHAT THE HELL, THIS ISN’T AN ONLYFANS POST!!!
Nick Stuart: What do you…
Richard Parker: SCANDALOUS! SALACIOUS! Yet…from the heart.
Nick Stuart: Are you…are you sure you’re not Dr. Zeke? Do you need your blood pressure medicines?
Richard Parker: If they keep this up…I just might.
As the pair continue their utterly lewd and disgusting act of affection, all as the Smoothie Center rains down boos, Hall, from time to time, puts a boot to the recovering FLAMBERGE. And once Vickie’s heart can take no more (in actuality, she’s telling Jonathan-Christopher that enough is enough, and that his sweat is very stinky and groooooooooss but I loooooove u bby), the Timid Tiger moves on the attack, grabbing onto FLAMBO with a front chancery and then snap suplexing him onto the concrete.
Nick Stuart: Ooooh! The air driven out of FLAMBERGE’s body with that snap suplex, and you can see the damage…
Richard Parker: Writhing in pain. Back arched up. I feel for him. I actually do. This…I don’t want to pick between these two. This is not a choice I wish to make.
Nick Stuart: Hall now on the apron…
Richard Parker: Wait a minute–
Nick Stuart: Leg drop! Leg drop from the apron! That’s, that’s brutal!
Richard Parker: Jonathan-Christopher might have hurt his tail feather with that move!
Wincing and grabbing his 7.5 out of 10 on the Sykes Dumper Scale backside, Hall get back to his feet, and despite the jarring nature of what just transpired, he grabs hold of FLAMBERGE and rolls him back into the ring. With both men inside, Hall pulls FLAMBERGE up and hangs his neck over the middle rope, hitting the ropes, and on the carom, looking for a leg drop on the back of FLAMBERGE’s neck.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE moving in the nick of time!
The crash causes JCH to stumble back to his feet, again wincing. And as he does? FLAMBERGE grabs onto his arm and nails an ippon seoi nage.
Nick Stuart: The judo background of FLAMBERGE being shown here!
FLAMBERGE doesn’t let go of the arm, instead dragging the Timid Tiger back to his feet, only to ippon seoi nage him once again, violently, a crash into the canvas, and this time, FLAMBERGE takes the arm for himself, locking his legs and yanking back with a vicious armbar.
Nick Stuart: ARMBAR! He’s got him locked down deep with an armbar!!
Richard Parker: And that’s expert joint manipulation, oh my word…oh my word…my heart…if this Hallmark Journey has to end, at least it will end at the hands of a brilliant and vicious competitor.
FLAMBERGE pulls back hard on the armbar as Barlow asks Hall if he wants to quit. The Timid Tiger screams, yelps, cries in pain, his arm being bent in an unnatural position. And he is close to the ropes, but given the searing pain shooting through his arm, he is oblivious to it. What he is also oblivious to, as is FLAMBERGE, is the nudge to Ashley Barlow’s back from Vickie Hall, causing the young referee to shoot her eyes in a death glare at JCH’s ALP. There is no warning. She signals for her to get her ass OUT OF THERE! And as Vickie throws an absolute temper tantrum, Vince Howard confirms.
Vince Howard: Vickie Hall has been ejected from ringside!
Do the Enemigos come out? Does Wade Elliott? No. Because Vickie is smirking wildly, almost frothing at the mouth. And why?
Because Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy has perched Jonathan-Christopher’s ankle onto the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: Oh you have to be kidding me!
Ashley has no choice…she calls for the break. But that doesn’t mean FLAMBERGE is going to give it up quickly. Or that, when he doesn’t, he isn’t going to bring the point of his elbow down across the face of the Timid Tiger.
Richard Parker: Not in the mush melon!
The violent onslaught is enough for Tristan-Crispin, who gets onto the ring apron, trying to plead that this is not NUZZLES! And as his friend, cousin, partner, whatever the hell he is, writhes in pain, trying to get feeling back in his arm, FLAMBERGE pounces on Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy, yanking him over the rope by his hair, walloping him with brutal uppercut and then an axe kick that utterly destroys TCG. And that’s not all.
FLAMBERGE: Tu veux des câlins, espèce de gobelin de merde qui respire par la bouche? Je vais te faire des câlins et des bisous, depuis mon putain de genou!
Do you want to know what that means?
It means a muay thai clinch.
It means obliterating knee strikes.
It means Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy, who is about to face off against The Anglo Luchador, is the man Julien Lavigne shot in Reno just to watch die.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE IS A ONE MAN WRECKING CREW RIGHT HERE!
Richard Parker: OH MY HOOOOOOOYT! WAAAIT!
Nick Stuart: CHASING VICKIE! CHASING VICKIE! HALL JUST BLASTED FLAMBERGE WITH THE RUNNING FLYING BACK ELBOW!
Richard Parker: OOOOH!
Nick Stuart: JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER…LOOKING TO STEAL THIS…HE’S GOT FLAMBERGE…OH DOUBLE CHICKENWING…STAND BY MEEEEEE–
Richard Parker: WAIT!
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE IS FREE! SOMEHOW HE’S FREE! AXE KICK!
Sorry. Hallmark Channel cancelled.
Richard Parker: MARIE ANTOINETTE!
Like a boa constrictor, FLAMBERGE wraps around the body of Jonathan-Christopher Hall. There are no life lines. No bullets. Life is ending. The future is here. Enjoy the sleep. Buy Glue.
Nick Stuart: HALL TAPS!
DING DING DING
FLAMBERGE releases, kicking Jonathan-Christopher Hall’s form away from him, all before taking to his feet, swaggering about the ring like he has the biggest balls in the world. And why wouldn’t he? Because the momentum train, despite a Colossus hiccup, is still firmly on the tracks.
Vince Howard: Your winner…BY SUBMISSION! FLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMBEEEEEEEEEEERGE!
Richard Parker: If that wasn’t a warning shot to the rest of the PRIME…
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE might just be showing the world that, in a few short weeks, he’s more than just a chic darkhorse pick to win the Culture Shock Battle Royal.
And with that, we go elsewhere.
We cut to the backstage area where the always professional Matt Mills is standing by.
Matt Mills: Matt Mills here and I have Adam Ellis with me along with his wife Ginny Van Lear.
Ellis and Ginny Van Lear step into the shot.
Matt Mills: Adam, congratulations on the win.
Adam Ellis: Thank you Matt.
Matt Mills: I know going into tonight that after two bad losses you really, really wanted to get the win tonight over Tony Gamble to kickstart your PRIME career.
Adam Ellis: Yes I did. After what happened against Jonathan-Christopher Hall, I went back to the gym and worked with Charlie Blackwell. I screwed up in that match. I made a classic rookie mistake. And Charlie made it clear that it was a rookie mistake he didn’t want me to EVER make again.
Matt Mills: I see.
Adam Ellis: Basically, If I’m going to make progress here at PRIME and become an elite wrestler, I can’t be making those types of mistakes.
Ginny leans in to add her two cents.
Ginny Van Lear: He also knows I ain’t gonna be showin’ off my kit and kaboodle at the gym ev’ry time he loses.
Matt gives Adam a bewildered look.
Adam Ellis: Uh, because I got distracted in the Hall match by Ginny beating the heck out of Darin Zion at ringside and lost, Charlie made Ginny come to the gym with me one day and stay at ringside wearing a string bikini while I wrestled- to try to work on my focus.
Ginny Van Lear: Wearin’ sump’m not proper for a God fearin’ daughter of a Baptist preacher to’be wearin.
Adam Ellis: That’s why Charlie worked my ass off to drill into my head that I had to stay focused on my opponent.
Matt Mills: Did it work?
Ginny’s face turns a little red with embarrassment.
Ginny Van Lear: No. Not really.
Adam Ellis: I got better, though.
Ginny Van Lear: He c’dn’t keep his eyes off me.
Mills tries to redirect the conversation back on topic.
Matt Mills: So Adam, now that you’ve got a win under your belt, what is your goals and expectations for the rest of 2023?
Adam Ellis: Matt, I just want to keep learning and I want to keep getting better. I realize that there ain’t no shortcut on the road to success and I have to keep working and working at it.
Matt Mills: No more distractions.
Adam Ellis: That’s right. Focus and no more distractions.
Speaking of distractions, Ginny’s head jerks up as if she’s suddenly seen something floating in the air above them.
Ginny Van Lear: What th’…
The shot from the Pedersoli Magnum Double Barrel 12 Gauge shotgun that Ginny has literally pulled out of nowhere and in one swift quick motion fired causes Mills to literally levitate off the ground and Adam to cover his ears.
Matt Mills: WHAT THE HELL?
Upon further inspection, the remnants of what appears to be a floating advertisement for a sponsor has just crashed to the floor after being shot out of the sky.
Ginny Van Lear: Oh…
Her face turns red again.
Ginny Van Lear: …thought t’was one of those Chinese Spying balloons.
Cue a very awkward smile.
Ginny Van Lear: Um… sorry.
Adam Ellis: Sorry ‘bout that Mr. Mills.
And with that last parting shot…, Ellis grabs Ginny by the hand and quickly moves along leaving a bewildered- but remaining his usual professional self- Matt Mills behind.
Mills looks up and down, near and far, and asks the obvious question…
Matt Mills: Where did that shotgun come from?
HOME IS A MONSTER’S LAIR
We barely have time to transition to ringside before we hear a bass guitar rumbling. A large section of the crowd already knows who’s coming and pops, standing up and cheering. Perhaps not everyone would recognize the opening of this song, since the person using it hasn’t been on PRIME TV in nearly half a year.
But this is New Orleans. This is Rhine country.
This is his home.
“Piece by Piece” by Strata picks up as Jonathan Rhine wheels himself through the curtain. He looks down suddenly, but there is no hiding it, even as he raises a hand to his face. Jonathan Rhine is crying. He looks out at the crowd, the smile never wavering, even as he has to continually wipe his face. After a few moments, he picks up the microphone in his lap.
Jonathan Rhine: I didn’t get to do this in the last PRIME run, so let’s see if I still got it.
He raises the microphone high, tilts his head back, and screams as loud as he can.
Jonathan Rhine: NEEEEEEEWWWWWW OOOOOOOORLEEEEEEAAAAAAANNNNNSSSS!
Nick Stuart: Rhine used to do this in every city during his SCCW run.
Richard Parker: I’ve remarked on how cheesy and cheap it is in the past, but tonight…it just feels right.
Rhine beams as he takes in the response.
Jonathan Rhine: I don’t think I have to tell y’all how good it feels to be here. To be in my home city, my favorite city, the place where I was born and raised. But y’all know me. Y’all know I’m always here. So what makes tonight so different? Because this is here.
He points up at the PRIME logo, and the fans cheer louder.
Jonathan Rhine: I competed in PRIME the first go-round. But it never felt like my promotion. I came up in FUSE. In SCCW. Those were the places I made my mark, the places I won titles, the reason anyone knew who The New Life was. But I flirted with PRIME a little bit. I ran deep in the Dual Halo, I got an Intense Title shot, I won that title. I started to feel like it was mine.
He looks up at the logo again wiping his face.
Jonathan Rhine: But it was this run. This 2022 ReVival. That really cemented it for me. Competing in Tag Team Survivor, making the finals. Becoming friends with Jared Sykes again…
Jonathan Rhine: Just watching what Lindsay Troy has done here. It makes me proud to be here. Not just here in New Orleans, my home, but here in PRIME…my…home. And that makes me so…
He wipes his tears again.
Jonathan Rhine: Listen, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. Wouldn’t address the cajun elephant in the room. But I’m here at home, so I may as well get comfortable. I love this place, so when I hear that piece of shit Paxton Ray talk bad about it, it pisses me off!
The fans explode. Rhine begins to wheel his wheelchair to the other end of the ramp.
Jonathan Rhine: He hates PRIME? Well I love it! PRIME is the place where true heroes fight. Where guys like Nate Colton can prove he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world despite only having a year of experience. Where stalwarts like Brandon Youngblood, Nova, and Coral Avalon can guide the way while also proving they are still on top of this business. Where men like The Anglo Luchador and Jared Sykes refuse to back down, no matter who is in their way.
Nick Stuart: The fans are eating this up, Richard. Jonathan Rhine is showing the same fire he’s always had!
Jonathan Rhine: Are there issues? Sure, nothing is perfect. But no matter what happens, even when the path is hard to see, even at my lowest point…I still believed in PRIME. I still do today. Because PRIME is the home of heroes.
“Home’a idiots too, clearly…”
It takes Jonathan a few seconds to wheel his chair around to find the source of the interruption, though he doesn’t have to. He knows who it is.
The fans boo as Paxton Ray slowly walks onto the ramp.
Paxton Ray: Rah rah rah! That was so good I need to give it a standin’ ovation.
He mockingly claps as Jonathan grips the wheels on his chair.
Paxton Ray: So ya love PRIME, huh? Even after it put ya in that chair.
Jonathan Rhine: We all know who put me in this chair.
Paxton takes a few steps towards Jonathan, who slowly wheels himself backwards.
Paxton Ray: Yeah, we do. And yet ya still came here. Knowin’ who was wanderin’ these halls. Sorry t’tell ya, Jon, but this ain’t your home. This is the monster’s lair, and ya walked right in.
Paxton slams the microphone down and starts to move towards Rhine. The New Life wheels quickly around and tries to head down the ramp, the only place he can get to in time. And he almost gets there.
Paxton sends a body check into the wheelchair, causing Rhine to spill onto the floor. Rhine’s arms move desperately, trying to find something to latch onto. But there is nothing but smooth metal. Paxton stalks his prey, a smile on his face.
Paxton Ray: Heh…I guess I should say ya wheeled right in…
Paxton raises a large boot to bring down on his former partner…and the crowd pops as an arm reaches around the Bayou Butcher’s throat, yanking him back.
Nova wrenches back on his rear choke hold and leans his masked face in next to Ray’s with a growl.
Nova: …and I’m wheeling you out.
With one outstretched leg, Nova tips up the wheelchair before slamming Ray’s body down into it. Ray tries to twist around and grab at his captor, but he can’t quite orient himself before Nova charges forward with the wheelchair, tipping it up at the edge of the stage in a sea of flashbulbs as Paxton tumbles out of it and over the side of the stage, crashing into a mountain of equipment crates and lighting equipment.
The crowd moves to the fringes of the gated area, looking down into the abyss of black cloth, hard angles, and wire.
Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD!!! NOVA JUST SENT PAXTON RAY TO THE DEPTHS!!
Nova stands at the edge of the chair for a moment, staring down into the mess. Then he turns and pushes the chair over to Rhine, kneeling down to grab him by the arm and help hoist him back into his seat.
The crowd roars as Nova grabs the discarded mic off the floor of the stage and turns to Rhine.
Nova pauses for a moment, soaking in the moment with Rhine before lifting the mic to his mouth.
Nova: You’re right, Jon…PRIME is the home of heroes.
Nova gestures out at the crowd, who continue cheering them on. Rhine takes in the moment as well, his eyes panning around the arena before looking back to Nova.
The Risen Star’s grin is visible under his mask.
Nova: Welcome home.
The crowd pops again as Nova walks over and raises Rhine’s arm in the air with his free hand. PRIME staff can be seen combing the wreckage next to the stage as the cameras cut to backstage.
NAMU MYOHO RENGE KYO
Where we are doesn’t matter, but given his dress and the fact that he’s got a match soon, it’s safe to assume this hallway is at the arena. Sage Pontiff stands, every lanky inch of him, in vrikshasana, the tree pose, balancing on one sinewy, bare foot. His eyes are closed but he begins to speak, slowly and with purpose, moving the words together as a single breath or a single hymn. A mantra.
Sage Pontiff: Namu myoho renge kyo. “Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra.”
His eyes open, and he smiles, but his pose remains unerringly solid.
Sage Pontiff: What do those words inspire in you, Paxton?
He raises his arms to the ceiling, then brings them down in the clasped fashion of a monk.
Sage Pontiff: To me, I have always felt that its…a unification. I give glory to that which binds us all, a oneness of purpose and experience that is undeniable, right? ‘Cause it has a lot of names. Existence, right? The human condition. The force. The furies of universal law. Samsara. Musubi. Ayurveda. The idea that we all like…share something, right? The suffering and full exultant joy of this journey called life. We all do it. We wake up, we sleep, we cry, we laugh. We are all beings bound by something sacred.
Finally, Sage drops the stance, settling back onto both of his feet with an easy, confident fluidity. He has a looseness in his movement, not an ounce of worry about the violence that faces him very, very soon. In fact, his smile breaks even wider.
Sage Pontiff: Blood.
He nods, his dreads dancing.
Sage Pontiff: See they made a lot of sacrifices back in the day, right? They’d do it for rain or harvest or just to ensure that the following year was a successful one. And that’s not just in, like, random small pockets. That’s all over the place, different cultures, all sort of arriving at the same conclusive place. That’s the undercurrent. No matter what era or what upbringing we all seemed to arrive at the knowledge that sacrifice is a powerful tool. Violence is the binding element of the human condition, it’s what pushes us towards the place where all our lived experiences fold into one another. All those lives overlapping one another and showing us the real truth, that we are one. That blood unites us all.
With zero warning, Sage rears his head back and bashes himself into the concrete wall of the hallway!! He swings backwards, bowing his back almost until his locs touch his ass, and does it again, the wet thud of meat into stone popping in the audio!! The Bodhisattva slumps forwards, breathing ragged, clearly experiencing considerable pain as his shoulders shake and tremor. When he raises back up, an ugly gash has been torn open on his forehead. As the blood leaks down over his eyes, he takes his finger and slowly draws a crude third eye on his forehead, the wound as the pupil, and smiles in relaxed contentment.
Sage Pontiff: Namu myoho renge kyo. Glory to you and to me and what binds us together. Sacrifice for you and me and what binds us together. Maybe to you this isn’t what it is to me, right? Maybe you don’t believe.
The blood is leaking from his forehead, down to his cheeks, creating a sort of visual motif of tears as it slowly cascades from the corners of his eyes. The blood is slowing a little bit, the tear in his skin possibly more superficial than he wanted, but Sage looks like a holy warrior, an Aghori on the path of beheading.
Sage Pontiff: Paxton, I have belief enough for the both of us.
The Bodhisattva begins to walk forward, his loping stride not out of place at your average music festival. He raises his arms and begins to execute something of a dance, swaying his body from side to side as he moves down the hall, moving to temple drums that only he can hear.
Sage Pontiff: In the ancient traditions there is a practice called Homa, sometimes called Yajna. It is a sacrifice ritual, one where the fire consumes your offering, that you may find success and spiritual attunement. You know what they execute this sacrifice on? It’s a square. A square called a havan kunda, because the square has geometric significance that’s sacred, right? How fitting is it that we should do our Homa, our Samadhi, in a square as well?
Arms wide. Christ pose.
Sage Pontiff: Namu myoho renge kyo. Our Samadhi, Paxton. Our Samadhi of pain, our Samadhi of sacred blood. We will achieve our own cremation and burn out the three poisons from our existence, that we may be purified. That we may ascend.
Now the arms are a man calling for a hug.
Sage Pontiff: Embrace me, Paxton Ray.
His smile is always the most disarming part. And here it comes brilliant, eyes bright, inviting and warm. He wants you to come home.
Sage Pontiff: Become who you were meant to be.
There is where he leaves us. Bleeding, swaying, loose, and calm as the Buddha. He has a date with an extremely violent man.
THE ANGLO LUCHADOR vs. TRISTAN-CRISPIN GLADHAPPY
Nick Stuart: We’ve seen a lot of excellent wrestling here tonight, Richard, but this next match promises to be a true showcase of talent. Coming back off the heels of a painful and bloody loss to Paxton Ray in Revival 21 where he relinquished the Intense Champion title, The Anglo Luchador makes his return tonight, and here… he… comes.
The arena darkens. The first dabs of the organ intro to “Oye Como Va” by Santana fill the arena as purple and green lights strobe while the telltale mask of the Anglo Luchador rotate on the PRIMEview behind. Smoke begins to waft across the entryway as the instrumental beginning of the song swells into its big climax. Right before the lyrics sound, The Anglo Luchador appears from the back, looking out at the crowd. He exhales and bows his head before he takes his final stride towards the ring.
Vince Howard: Weighing in tonight at 211 pounds and hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania… The ANGLOOOOOOOOO LUUUUUUUUUUUUUCHADOR!
Because of You by 98 Degrees is piped in over the PA system as a tan, Gen Z wrestler steps onto the ramp and heads toward the ring. He stops every ten feet or so to hug himself and make eyes at the audience.
Nick Stuart: And entering the ring now is a recent fan favorite, the Nuzzle Lord himself…
Vince Howard: And weighing in tonight at 219 pounds… from Sacramento California… TRISTAAAAN-CRISPIIIIN GLAAAAAAAAADHAPPYYYYYYYY.
Richard Parker: Given how The Anglo Luchador failed to prevent the Intense Champion title from falling into the hands of that absolute maniac, Paxton Ray, I think it’s safe to say I’ve lost all faith in any ability he may have once had, and I fully expect DJ Tristy Crispy to nuzzle him into oblivion.
Nick Stuart: However anyone might feel towards the former Intense Champion, one thing is undeniable – his will and perseverance are unmatched, and he has now fully recovered from what can only be described as traumatic injury in ReVival 21 to get back in the ring tonight.
Nick Stuart: And there’s the bell, our two contenders begin circling each other, each waiting for the other to make the first move. Tristan Gladhappy is all grins tonight, and he seems to be teasing the Anglo Luchador, giggling every time he feints toward him.
Richard Parker: I also tend to giggle at The Anglo Luchador, Nick, but that’s only because I think he’s a washed up joke.
TAL decides to take the match into his own hands, and he slides foot-first at Gladhappy’s ankles. Tristan deftly jumps out of the way, not even bothering to strike back.
He begins to play to the crowd, smiling at beautiful women and beautiful men. He hugs himself and blows kisses to a young couple in the front row, and at the very moment he purses his lips for a third lady holding a sign that reads, “I’LL SHOW YOU WHERE TO NUZZLE ME” the Paladin of Prime sneaks up behind and initiates a headlock takeover.
TCG remains unfazed, and, if anything, smiles wider as he bridges his body, reaches his arm under The Luchador’s bent leg, and grabs his achilles tendon. With surprisingly speed, The Nuzzle Lord spins his body over, flipping the Son of the Shogun to his stomach in the process. As he escapes TAL’s hold, he slides over TAL’s back, landing his torso over TAL’s head and facing his feet, and wraps the Luchador up in his arms, his right around the neck and his left under TAL’s right arm.
Nick Stuart: My goodness, Richard, Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy is putting on a display so far tonight. We can see why the PRIME powers that be saw fit to elevate this young man into a match with the former champion and currently third ranked wrestler in all of the federation. What a show of talent and potential.
Richard Parker: Absolutely, Nick, Chicken Lettuce Wrap is giving a clinic on controlling the ring. Now if only he could control his libido.
TCG continues to disrespect the former champion, waving to the crowd and blowing kisses rather than maintaining his hold. It costs him that precious control for a moment as the Lucha breaks the hold and slides around to place his right knee sharply in TCG’s kidney.
Richard Parker: Ooooh, that’s gotta hurt. Hits like that are exactly why I work out my kidneys for 30 minutes every other day with a steady delivery of hard liquor. Keeps them in fighting shape.
Nick Stuart: Tristan looks to be feeling the effects of that kidney stinger more than a little, Richard. The Paladin of Prime is taking every advantage of the situation, too – sending a flurry of blows at TCG with a quick right jab, left jab, right cross combo that is likely to leave his opponent seeing stars.
Tristan bends over the top rope and spits a string of blood to the ground. A manic grin takes over his face as he does. The Luchador approaches from behind to instigate a grapple, but Gladhappy slips under and away, spins behind TAL and delivers an elbow strike to the back of his head.
TCG quickly goes back to back with the Anglo Luchador, and lifts him up to begin a backbreaker submission. He parades around the ring with TAL over his shoulder, bouncing his back and grinning every time TAL cries out in pain. He walks to the corner, and continues the back breaker while also slamming the Luchador’s head into the top pad on the corner with every bounce.
Nick Stuart: Things are not looking good for the former champion, Richard. He just had an enormous amount of strain placed on his spine by Gladhappy, and he doesn’t look to be recovering. This could be the end of it.
Richard Parker: I don’t care. Let’s just get this over with.
TCG flings TAL’s body to the floor where he falls limply on his back, unable to even wince in pain.
Nick Stuart: And he moves into position for the pin, but… what’s this? Richard, I’ve watched a lot of wrestling in my day, but I can’t say I understand what’s happening right now. Gladhappy seems to be content ignoring the near lifeless form of The Anglo Luchador in the middle of the ring.
Richard Parker: Well, Tristan Cripsan Glispan may have style, but I guess he’s not necessarily all that smart.
Gladhappy takes the opportunity to leave the ring and begin mingling with the fans.
Nick Stuart: …is he signing autographs?
Richard Parker: Looks like it. I don’t think that one was on paper, though…
Tristan finishes signing the chest of one particularly buxom fan before nuzzling right by the signature. The crowd appears to be eating it up and egging him on. He makes no suggestion of getting back in the ring any time soon, hugging and nuzzling anyone that will let him.
Referee Barlow becomes annoyed with the display.
Ashley Barlow: You better have yourself back in this ring before I hit ten, Gladhappy. ONE!… TWO!… THREE!…
Nick Stuart: Showing a complete lack of respect for his opponent…
Richard Parker: Showing him exactly the amount of respect he’s due, I’d say.
Nick Stuart: …TCG begins to return to the ring when Referee Ashley Barlow makes clear that she won’t put up with any more grandstanding
Ashley Barlow: FOUR!… FIVE!… SIX!…
TCG saunters back toward the ring, shaking hands, delivering neck nuzzles and love bites, and generally acting like a hybrid between politician and a burlesque performer.
Ashley Barlow: SEVEN!… EIGHT!…
Tristan grins as he starts to climb back into the ring, setting a folding chair he picked up along the way just at the edge of ringside.
He slides up to Barlow and tries to Nuzzle her, but she turns away in disgust, stopping her count. The Anglo Luchador appears to stir and start to move. A fan in the stands starts throwing plastic lips in the ring, made to match the design of TCG’s knee pad logo. Barlow turns to instruct security to deal with the menace.
Nick Stuart: A chair placed at ringside… what do you think he plans to do with that, Richard?
Richard Parker: If I had to guess, I’d say nuzzle it.
While Barlow is distracted, Tristan quickly returns for his chair, smashes it over The Anglo Luchador’s head, and tosses it back out of the ring. The crowd is split between cheers and boos as Barlow completely misses the illegal display.
Richard Parker: Close enough.
Not wasting his opportunity a second time, The Nuzzle Lord gets down on the mat and slides his body slowly over The Anglo Luchador. He sits up to straddle the Lucha’s chest and firmly grips his shoulders, pinning them to the floor.
Satisfied that the Paladin of Prime isn’t going anywhere, TCG adopts a small sly smile and begins to lean down slowly, face to face with The Anglo Lucahdor.
Nick Stuart: Gladhappy has the former champion pinned! Wait, he’s… he’s adjusting position and is he… YES, YES HE IS. HE’S GOING FOR A NUZZLE.
Richard Parker: We all know Tristan loves to Nuzzle, but I think something a bit more sinister may be afoot here, Nick. Years of commentating have led us to this exchange, and I’m going to have to do some deep introspection about my career choices after this match.
TCG maintains his pin on the Paladin of Prime as the ref counts
Ashley Barlow: One!…
His face leans in close as his left hand slowly creeps toward TAL’s neck and chin. He practically tickles the masked man as he finger-walks up his body.
Ashley Barlow: Two!…
He slides his cheek against the cloth of the most famous mask in all of PRIME and begins to nuzzle at the former champion’s cheek. As he does, his hand dares to touch the bottom edge of his mask. Tristan pulls gently on the cloth.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Everyone knows the best nuzzles… require skin contact.
Richard Parker: I cannot believe my eyes! Tristan-Crsipin Gladhappy, presently ranked 20th in all of Prime is about to unmask The Anglo Luchador!
Nick Stuart: Ooooooh boy, Richard, that’s a hell of a risk he’s taking. Everyone’s favorite lucha is not going to be pleased.
TCG slowly pulls on the mask. He has the fabric in position to lift and uncover the Luchador’s chin. He teases it, taunting the audience in a “Will I? Won’t I? I shouldn’t. Should I?” display.
At that moment, the extremely sensitive and highly trained nerves of The Anglo Luchador feel the touch of the Nuzzle Lord’s fingers. Synapses fire in his brain as he recognizes the loathsome act in which Gladhappy is engaged. The Son of the Shogun’s eyes bolt wide open, and his arms snap into position allowing him to grab Tristan by the wrists.
The veins in his arm appear ready to burst as TAL emits a guttural scream in the face of Gladhappy. He lifts himself from the mat, shoulders first. The count stops, and his abs, back, and arms ripple with the sheer force of will being shoved through the muscles as he pushes TCG off his body. He feints right, but snaps his whole body to the left, throwing Tristan-Crispin to the ground. The younger man’s head strikes the mat and he lies there dazed as his senior stands with fire in his eyes.
Nick Stuart: What an AMAZING turn of events for The Anglo Luchador; Richard, I’m pretty sure if the Nuzzling didn’t stoke the flames of aggression in him, daring to touch that mask was maybe the worst decision Gladhappy has ever made. I can feel the heat in his Anglo glare from here.
Richard Parker: Yep, Crispy Triscuit’s going to need to take back command of this situation quickly if he wants that W.
He would not get that chance. The Anglo Luchador wastes no time in approaching a dazed Gladhappy and stomps ferociously at his head – three sharp strikes. The former DJ is bleeding profusely from the nose as TAL pulls him to his feet. Still dazed, there is little TCG can do to resist when the Lucha strikes him across the jaw before quickly spinning 180 degrees, then performing a standard backflip into a hurricanrana.
The Anglo Luchador, in his fervor, does not allow Referee Barlow the opportunity to call the fight, even though it is clear Tristan-Crispin is no longer able to compete. He forces the Nuzzle Lord to his feet once more, only to perform a flawless and forceful Karelin Driver into a pin that Gladhappy would almost certainly submit to if he was physically able to tap the mat.
Barlow slides into place alongside the pinned limp body of Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy and rapidly slaps the count.
Ashley Barlow: One! Two! Three!
DING DING DING
The Anglo Luchador stands, lifts Tristan, and hurls him from the ring. He roars, his eyes murderously red and unhinged.
Vince Howard: Your winner by three-count pin, former PRIME champion THE ANGLO LUCHADOR!
Vince dares to grab and raise TAL’s hand in the air. Oye Como Va blasts over the PA system, and sanity appears to return to the Luchador’s eyes as he realizes what has happened. He addresses the crowd, both arms now in the air, basking in their cheers.
Nick Stuart: And that right there is exactly what we expect of a PRIME champion, past or present. What an amazing fight Richard.
Richard Parker: Super. *crunch crunch* You wanna Triscuit?
COMMERCIAL: CULTURE SHOCK MAIN EVENT
PUT ‘EM UP
As we come back from commercial, we see Paxton Ray and Foster Nackedy getting medical treatment after being attacked by Nova a few minutes ago.
Well, Paxton is getting treatment. Foster is tapping his feet.
Foster Nackedy: All right, let’s get this done. We got to get to argyle soon. Let’s hurry up?
Dr. Astrid Fihlguud: (annoyed) Paxton will be ready when I say he’s ready, Foster.
Paxton Ray: Why ya so skittish? They ain’t gonna start the match without…
“ARE YOU FOR REAL?!”
Consider your question answered, Mr. Ray, as Lindsay Troy storms into the room. To say she’s “upset” would be an understatement.
Lindsay Troy: What the fuck is wrong with you, Paxton? You tried to go after Jon again? FOR WHAT? Wasn’t UltraViolence enough for you, you piece of shit?
Foster looks like a deer caught in the headlights as his eyes flick back and forth between his boss and his charge. Astrid takes a knowing step back. Paxton remains silent as Lindsay gets right in his face.
Lindsay Troy: You got an answer or did Caes knock the last remaining brain cells out of your big dumb head?
Foster Nackedy: It was my fault. I was in the bathroom when he did that. You know how arena gumbo hits the system.
No one acknowledges Foster’s pithy comment as Paxton stares at his angry boss for a full five seconds, his scowl matching hers. Then, he shakes his head and starts to hop off the table.
Note the word starts, because Troy’s hand immediately grasps his shoulder and holds him in place. For the second time in about six months, the two are exactly eye to eye.
Lindsay Troy: I asked if you had an answer, not if you felt like leaving.
There is a feeling in the air that everyone in the arena can feel, even though they’re watching it on the PRIMEView, as Paxton looks down at Lindsay Troy’s hand. When he looks back up at her, he’s smiling.
Paxton Ray: You’re puttin’ hands on me minutes ‘fore I’m about t’ fight? Feels like maybe you’re wantin’ t’take Sage’s place tonight?
From behind him, Foster’s eyes go wide.
Foster Nackedy: Uh, Pax?
He doesn’t look back at Foster as he answers.
Paxton Ray: Not now. I ain’t Chet Fleetwood, boss. I ain’t just gonna let ya put hands on me without puttin’ up mine.
For those who might be brand new ‘round these parts, Lindsay Troy is not – and never has been – one to back down from anyone. Ever. For any reason. And even though she’s now the one running the show in PRIME, that doesn’t mean the fighter in her isn’t gonna win out over the businesswoman from time to time.
Like now, when she digs her nails into Paxton’s shoulder and instinctively balls her free hand into a fist.
Lindsay Troy: Why don’t you go ahead and put ‘em up then, champ.
We will never find out if Paxton was going to put them up, because Foster Nackedy does what a manager is supposed to do when his client is about to make a fireable offense: he manages.
He steps in between the two and gently frees Paxton’s shoulder from Troy’s grip. Lindsay flashes him a look, but Foster does not notice or care as he is completely focused on Paxton.
Foster Nackedy: Pax. Stop. She’s goading you. Save that anger for Pontiff. Don’t do anything dumb.
Paxton Ray still does not look at his manager.
Paxton Ray: Fine. I’ll focus on Sage tonight. And then maybe I’ll give the Favoured Saints a call, see if I can do some fightin’ down the street one day.
Lindsay Troy: (smirking) Oh, I’d love that. You come on down to the DEFplex whenever you want and me and the boys’ll make you feel right at home.
Paxton Ray: I look forward to it.
Foster wraps his arm around Paxton’s torso and starts to walk out of the room, not bothering to wait for Astrid’s go-ahead. After a few seconds, Paxton allows himself to be moved along.
Foster Nackedy: Sorry boss. I’ll make sure he doesn’t do anything like that again.
Paxton Ray: He’ll try.
The champion and his manager shuffle off as Lindsay and Astrid watch them go.
OH, YOU DIDN’T KNOW?
“Лично я считаю, что лучший наряд был у товарища Сталина, Алексей.” (Personally, I thought Comrade Stalin wore the best outfit, Alexei…)
“Нет, Иван, я сойду в могилу, предпочитая модные тонкости Ленина.” (No, Ivan, I will go to the grave preferring the fashion sensibilities of Lenin.)
Say what you will about how backward Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan are when it comes to most western topics, but they certainly know their Soviet fashion. The two men walk through the rear parking area of the Smoothie King Center. Stanislav has a duffel bag slung over his shoulder as he walks in lock-step with Alexei, though neither are paying much attention to what is in front of them as they carry on.
It’s not until the two exit the building that they both look up and across the outer lot. It’s illuminated by several large lamps, but other areas are blanketed in darkness. What catches their eyes, however, is the person standing in front of Ivan’s large, black bus that hauls him around:
The Event Horizon, Hayes Hanlon.
Stanislav looks down at Alexei and then back at Hanlon with an obvious look of bewilderment. Alexei takes Ivan’s bag as The Russian Bear slowly trudges towards the former Universal Champ.
Ivan Stanislav: I did not know cockroaches made their way this far out of building…
Hayes Hanlon: And I didn’t know they stacked communist shit that high.
Ruslan seethes behind Ivan and places the bag down next to him, but he allows Ivan to do the talking. Though Ivan scowls down at Hayes, there is a slight smirk in the corner of his mouth.
Ivan Stanislav: I know American’s like to have fights out in parking lots. Show how tough they are. But I have plane to catch. Besides, I would not want to mess up that pretty mustache. Not when I can do it in front of live audience at later date.
Hayes Hanlon: You’re looking forward to that, huh?
Hanlon, uncrossing the arms from his chest, takes one short step forward, craning his neck to look up at the Russian Bear.
Hayes Hanlon: Not as much as I am. And you know why.
Ivan Stanislav: Your fate was sealed, Hayes, when you were booked against me at UltraViolence. You should have known better than to accept tainted “victory” over me at that bout. You were too distracted thinking about yourself, eh? The young up-and-comer who beat all odds? You did not think ahead to the fact that you would have a “bear” of a problem on your hands later.
Ivan waves his hand across the parking lot.
Ivan Stanislav: Lindsay Troy parades you out like puppet on strings in her home town at ReVival 21. You are heroic new champion, yes? But where is Lindsay Troy now, eh? She gives not a damn about you. When you are not useful to her, she discards you like garbage. Typical capitalist. You should have let disqualification happen against Rezin! You would still have championship belt! Now look at you. Mustache has lost its luster, has it not?
Ivan spreads his arms wide and grins.
Ivan Stanislav: There is no parade now, is there? No pomp and circumstance for you. You served that belt up to Rezin on silver platter despite my trying to help you! You could have had one on one match against me and lost later, but instead chose to lose sooner. You lost that belt on first title defense against a degenerate!
Ruslan tsks gloatingly behind Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: Poor, poor Hayes…
Hayes Hanlon: (Turning toward Alexei and interrupting him) Are you trying to get knocked out again, buddy? Because so far you’re 2 for 2.
Ruslan grouses and puffs up his chest. He looks around Ivan a bit and scoffs in Russian to his larger comrade.
Alexei Ruslan: Я говорю, мы вырубим этого крысиного ублюдка и покончим с ним, Прапорщик. (I say we knock this rat bastard out now and finish him, Praporshchik.)
Stanislav grunts but says nothing.
Hayes Hanlon: (Turning back to Ivan.) And I’m curious how yeeting me out of the ring and onto the damn entrance ramp was helping me, but I guess they do things different in Russia. Usually poorly.
Before Alexei can further make his case, Hayes claps his hands together.
Hayes Hanlon: Man, I know you’re supposed to be some kind of boogeyman, and I’ve heard the stories of your Red Army in old PTC, but that’s the key word isn’t it?
The ‘Stache curls, and those deep brown eyes narrow.
Hayes Hanlon: “Old.”
The Russian Bear’s broad chest fills at the notion, and his eyes widen, but not before Hammerin’ Hanlon can put up a hand.
Hayes Hanlon: It’s cool. I’m not gonna sit here and piss and moan about how you screwed me out of my belt. I’ll come back from that loss. And you may have everyone fooled around here, big guy. But not me. Because I already beat your ass once.
A long breath through the nose for Home Run Hayes, standing as tall as he’s able.
Hayes Hanlon: And I’m gonna do it again.
Stanislav sneers down at Hayes and closes what little distance there is between them. Ruslan skirts to the side, though he has no way of getting behind Hayes because of the bus at his back. Still, that leaves Hanlon with little options in terms of an exit.
Ivan Stanislav: Do it again? I give you this, Hayes, you have much heart. But you are delusional if you believe that Ivan will be as rusty as he was in our first match. Yes, I admit it. It had been twenty years since I wrestled and you barely survived and still needed to twist the rules to win. You would not be first to convince themselves that I am too old, or too big, to pose a true threat. You also would not be first to learn the hard way how wrong they are. I remember how you squealed when I bit your face and tasted your blood at UltraViolence. How you weakly flailed in ring when I revealed to everyone how impotent you and Rezin are.
Stanislav lifts two huge fingers and puts them in Hanlon’s face.
Ivan Stanislav: Two times in as many weeks have I rendered Rezin, and yourself, on your backs while I stood triumphant. Get used to it, child. Maybe you make yourself useful at Culture Shock and you catch Rezin again, eh? I then pin you both at same time. Rest assured it will take more than medics to help you up. It will take miracle.
Stanislav lowers his fingers and jerks his head to the side.
Ivan Stanislav: Now out of my way. I am sure you have whores to pay for and teeny boppers waiting to swoon for you.
As Stanislav moves toward the entrance to his bus, Hayes, perhaps recklessly, puts a hand to Ivan’s chest.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, you didn’t know?
Ivan’s searing eyes turn slowly down to the former champion, offering just enough time before throwing him through said bus.
Hayes Hanlon: All I do is make miracles.
With a deep, fiery snort, Ivan shoves Hanlon’s hand away and lumbers to the bus door. Ruslan follows behind, glaring hard at the eGG Beater. In a few moments, the bus air brake releases, and rolls off out of the parking lot, leaving Hayes behind to watch it leave.
TONY GAMBLE DOUBLE TROUBLE, TRIPLE FUN SUPER AWESOME ADORATION TIME
The scene cuts to Tony Gamble sitting at a desk that is not his own (unless he is leading a double life as D’quan Bordeaux, Marketing Assistant Manager of the Smoothie King Center). Tony Gamble is on the phone talking about t-shirts or something, Mortimer Knightingale doesn’t seem to be too interested in what the Grin is saying or doing, he is more focused on the tie around his neck over his tracksuit. Mortimer sits in the chair with a half smile, feeling the softness of his tie as his leg bounces up and down anxiously. Cruz and Pastore stand behind Mortimer on either side.
Finally, Tony Gamble finishes his call and finally notices Mortimer Knightingale, fashion trendsetter.
Tony Gamble: What the hell are you wearing?
Mortimer Knightingale: What? Nothin’. It’s a gift from Mori.
Tony Gamble: Mori… That the little girl that caused you to be “unavailable” when we visited my good friend Sargeant Dickson’s family?
The finger quotes that went along with the emphasis of the word unavailable were rather aggressive, as Tony leans forward in his chair with a frown on the right side of his face. Mortimer looks up from the mesmerizing silk tie adorning his white and teal tracksuit.
Mortimer Knightingale: I would need to adorin’ly peruse my daily calendar in your honor but I would say, definitely possible, dependin’ on the time and date of which this rendezvous with this Sargeant Nixon and family had befallen….Your Adoredness.
Tony Gamble: Look at you. I bet you’re smiling under that damn mask, too.
Mortimer Knighingale: Like a million bucks.
Gamble clasps his hands together and rests his elbows on the desk.
Tony Gamble: A million bucks, huh? Probably counterfeit, as fake as you are. If she only knew the real you.
The frown curls into a devilish grin while Mortimer’s smile turns into a scowl.
Tony Gamble: Poor girl practically broke down crying on Jabber when someone told her what “hog” she was asking Colton to show her. Can you imagine the trauma she’d go through if she learned about your old tricks?
Mortimer Knightingale stares silently at the Grin, processing what he had just said to him, this not-so-subtle threat. The idea of Tony Gamble exposing Mori to certain details from his past, both criminal and not (including what Mortimer still believes to be an artistic film about sexual addiction – certainly not a straight to DVD nudie flick – “The Trauma of Tricks”), the consequences of her finding out. His face gets redder and redder with anger.
Mortimer Knightingale: You wormy little prick!
Mortimer curses himself under his breath as his anger becomes clouded with anxiety and worry and immediately regrets his outburst. For the second time this evening, Mortimer struggles to get his words out, only this time, there is no song to sing. After a moment, he takes a breath, puffing himself up, ready to stand up in defiance, but he exhales and Mortimer becomes a picture of a resigned man.
Mortimer Knightingale: I’m sorry. What do you want from me, huh? Cuz it ain’t adoration. Why can’t you just forget this whole “G.A.S.” bullshit and just……let me be……
Tony shakes his head, taken aback by the notion that he would want anything else but Mortimer’s adoration. What else could he offer that Tony couldn’t get or do for himself.
Tony Gamble: And I thought I was supposed to be the funny one. You almost had me there, Morty. In all honesty though, the only thing I want from you is to be there when I need you. I’ve given you plenty of slack the last few months, hoping you’d come around on your own and be the guy I need you to. But here you are asking me to just let you be.
His brows furrow as his eyes narrow, the angry smile replacing the devilish one as he stands up and starts making his way around the desk.
Tony Gamble: You have a lot of nerve acting like it’s my fault you’re in this position. As if it was me running my mouth that got unwanted attention from people that don’t like being under the proverbial spotlight to begin with. You had your chance for me to let you be, and you weren’t able to earn that right. So now here we are, and you and the Angry Luchador are trying to make me out to be the bad guy in this situation.
Gamble leans back against the edge of the desk, slightly to the left of Knightingale. He folds his arms across his chest, looking down at the impressive tie that Mori must have spent a while deciding on.
Tony Gamble: I’m not the bad guy, Morty. What I am, is a man that really likes attention…attention that I expect you to provide.
Mortimer Knightingale: Attention….
Mortimer cannot help but scoff and shake his head. He leans forward and places his head in his hand, looking to the ground. After a couple of seconds he looks over at the Grin.
Mortimer Knightingale: And should I tell you to go fuck yourself and walk out, sometime in the not-to-distant future, Mori will come into possession certain facts about my past. Certain business acts that may have resulted in some degenerate gambler gettin’ beat with a baseball bat in front of her…or his kids, among other related…occupational necessities I was sent to collect on, as well as copy of a certain film, both of which has the propensity to dramastically hinder my buddin’ relationship with her unless I give you some “attention”, at which point, she doesn’t find out about my less than reputable past, does that about Cliff Note it?
Tony Gamble gives an affirmative response. Mortimer considers this, he takes a deep breath and rises from his chair and caresses the tie against his chest.
Mortimer Knightingale: What the fuck’s a-matter with you? Mommy and Daddy didn’t give you enough hugs? Maybe you’re just a fucked up psycho. Or maybe it just pisses you off that someone you percept to be someone that’s not worthy to wipe your ass has found somethin’ special with someone that’s not you. Fuck you.
Mortimer Knightingale and Tony Gamble stare each other down before the masked wrestler returns to his seat.
Mortimer Knightingale: That bein’ said……okay.
Mortimer lets the word linger in the air as he turns his head and begins to look around the room, considering his options, avoiding any form of contact with Tony before slowly nodding.
Tony Gamble: “Okay” what? I want you to look me in the eyes and I need to hear you say it.
Mortimer Knightingale looks at Tony Gamble, square in the eyes, his lips twitch ever so slightly.
Mortimer Knightingale: I….will provide you….with whatever attention you need when you need it.
Tony Gamble: Great. You can start now. Give me your tie.
Mortimer Knightingale: My tie???
Mortimer Knightingale clutches his tie like a woman clutching her purse walking down the street in a rather unsavory neighborhood.
Mortimer Knightingale: It’s a gift!
Tony Gamble: Yeah. From you to me. Hand it over. Or….maybe Frank and Domingo make a delivery to your little girlfriend.
Mortimer rises from his chair, his face twitches underneath his mask as he removes the tie from his neck. Before handing it over, he looks at it in his hands. The faint sound of a sniffle can be heard as his hand trembles with the clothing accessory in his hand before placing it on the desk.
Tony Gamble: This sure beats a bath bomb, am I right guys?
Tony picks up the tie and admires it for a moment.
Tony Gamble: Yeah, this is going to look so much better on me. You can go now.
Mortimer Knightingale stands in front of Tony Gamble, eyeing the tie. The tie that he knows Mori chose specifically for him. The Macy’s tie. The tie which Mortimer believes Mori chose from that department store knowing in some capacity that his time working at Macy’s, before getting sucked into his cousin’s world, was among his fondest. Tony Gamble dismissively waves Mortimer Knightingale as if he were a servant. Mortimer reluctantly turns around and walks out the door as the scene comes to an end.
INTENSE TITLE: PAXTON RAY (c) vs. SAGE PONTIFF
The house lights in the arena go dark. Three spotlights shine on the entryway from Argyle position. “Satori Part II” hits on the speakers, and the fans at the Smoothie King Center know the cue.
Sage Pontiff steps out from the back, blood dried in the shape of a third eye on his forehead. He looks no worse for wear from when the crowd first saw him earlier creating that grotesque warpaint marking. In fact, he looks delighted. An air of superiority surrounds him as he stands straight and tall. He closes his eyes, throws his head back, outstretches his arms, and takes in the hatred from the crowd. He finds a center and shakes his head. Stalking to the ring with a smile on his face, the Bodhisattva of the Transformative Experience ignores outstretched hands and middle fingers alike.
Vince Howard: This match is scheduled for one fall and is for the PRIME Intense Championship! Introducing first, from Joshua Tree, California, by way of wherever his biodiesel van takes him, he is the challenger and the Bodhisattva of the Transformative Experience, Sage PONTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!
Nick Stuart: I know the question you’re going to ask, and it’s the same one I’m thinking of.
Richard Parker: How compatible is Sage’s new-age, free-living lifestyle compatible with Hoytism?
Nick Stuart: That is the furthest question from my mind. Do you not see the blood dried on his forehead? Why he would do that to himself?
Richard Parker: I do not, actually. He is such a forward and advanced thinker that if I were to ponder it, I may become paralyzed in whatever it is I would find looking for those answers.
Nick Stuart: Your mind is a fascinating place, Richard.
Sage arrives at the ring, acting like everyone in the Smoothie King Center doesn’t want to see him under the business end of a front-end loader trying to knock down trees. It’s not that they’re not environmentalists. Just some punishments would be funny.
They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.
There are a smattering of cheers that rise up. Some people don’t care what you did, as long as you live near them. The rest of the arena though. Hoo boy. You’d think Paxton Ray and Foster Nackedy were wearing Atlanta Falcons jerseys or were members of the George W. Bush administration.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
The Butcher of the Bayou doesn’t care to look at anyone in the crowd. He only stalks to the ring behind the Ballroom Thieves’ chunky riffs with Foster trailing him, trying his best to shoot snide comments to individual jesters closeby.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, he is the PRIME Intense Champion! Hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana, he is The Bayou Butcher, Paxton… RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood.
Paxton rolls his neck to crack the bone and then climbs up on the apron. Foster seems to be barking something to him, but the Champ is having none of it at the moment. He steps through the ropes then leans against them, almost absorbing each individual boo raining upon him like an incendiary arrow upon a fortress under siege. Elvis Nixon, the official referee of the Intense division, calls for both men to come to the center of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Paxton seems a little on edge this week. I wonder what’s going on in that head of his.
Richard Parker: Nothing good. I would pry, but that’s just none of my business.
Nick Stuart: Aren’t you a self-styled broadcast journalist?
Richard Parker: Only the best!
As the two stand face to face, the noise in the crowd ceases to exist. There’s an eerie calm permeating the arena. The fans don’t know whom to cheer. The Butcher of the Bayou may be the default fan-favorite here just because his look is familiar, sneering, angry. He’s also got homefield advantage, but Jon Rhine claims New Orleans as home too. Snuffing out New Life can overcome a warm welcome in familiar territory. But the Bodhisattva, the man who would be the one to teach this sadistic bully a lesson? He’s smiling, blood dried on his head. His look is downright unsettling, too unsettling for any sane person to get behind.
Nick Stuart: I have a bad feeling about this, Rich.
Richard Parker: Look, I had a bad feeling when the Luchador stepped in the ring with this sicko. Right now? I think I’m just numb. I need Hoyt’s guidance to get me through this match.
Nick Stuart: Hoyt, Jesus, Allah, Zeus. Nothing or no one holy is in this place right now.
Elvis Nixon calls for the bell.
DING DING DING
The two competitors step to each other like characters in a cinematic prizefight. Sage widens his eyes as big as they’ll open in one last attempt to psych out the Champ, but he’s seen it all. Young bucks in the mud pits tried this shit all the goddamn time. His sneer only grows larger. Finally, Pontiff breaks the tension.
Sage Pontiff: Hit me.
Defiantly, Ray furrows his brow, his vision narrowed through squinted eyes, awash in hatred and anger. No one tells him what to do, not Rhine, not Foster, not the State of Louisiana. He stands his ground.
Sage Pontiff: Can you hear me in there? Hit. Me.
Paxton stands his ground.
Sage Pontiff: You really are stubborn. I can see why your family wants nothing to do with you.
Big mistake. Or is it? In a flash hotter and faster than a bolt of lightning, Paxton’s chain-wrapped fist connects with Sage’s jaw, throwing his head back, dreadlocks scattering chaotically in every direction. The force turns Pontiff around, and the Bodhisattva takes a knee, smiling at the broadcast booth as his gaze catches them.
Nick Stuart: Few people can take a right cross from the Butcher and not get knocked out. Sage might be the only person who can take one and smile.
Richard Parker: Isn’t that a good thing? Maybe he can knock some inner peace into that sociopathic crayfish.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think it works that way, Rich.
Richard Parker: Hey, I’ve seen stuff happen during the ReVival era that made me reconsider my entire belief system for a second, only a second though, luv u, Hoyt. Point is, anything is possible at this point.
Having gotten his point across, Sage rolls out of the ring in one swift motion. The time for pleasantries has passed; the time to start living up to the namesake of the Championship has arrived. He fumbles around blindly, hands busy under the apron until his face lights up, as if the proverbial bulb over the head were literal. His hand whisks out, holding a kendo stick.
Richard Parker: NOW we’re talking!
Nick Stuart: That’s a good starter weapon, I think, but Paxton Ray’s last two matches were in barbed wire against The Anglo Luchador and in a halfway-deconstructed ring against Jared Sykes.
Richard Parker: Rome wasn’t built in a day. That’s what all these hippie types like to say, right?
Nick Stuart: I’ll let you think that, Rich.
Paxton looks at his opponent, still wild-eyed and frothing at the mouth, like he ain’t shit at his choice of weapon. He shakes his head, but in his one moment of taking his eye off the ball…
Richard Parker: OUCH! Right in the yambag!
Nick Stuart: Well, it’s legal. And I feel like that word is familiar yet foreign.
Richard Parker: Anna Daniels gave it to me. I like it.
Nick Stuart: Regardless where you got it, and legal or not, it’s a low move. But dirty tricks or not, I can’t help but think Paxton’s lack of attention is playing into this onslaught.
Richard Parker: Whatever is on his mind, I hope it gets more… intense. I need his chakras disassembled.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure that even means anything, Rich.
With Pax holding his twig and berries gingerly, Sage goes to work with the kendo stick, swinging it like he was a jock in school and not a hippie. Three cracks to the forehead put Paxton down, but the smile on the Bodhisattva’s face melts away. He straddles the Butcher’s body, forcibly pulling his hands away from the defensive position in front of his face. Then, what comes next is a practical but unorthodox use of the rattan cane.
Nick Stuart: Pontiff GRINDING that cane across Paxton’s forehead! Those canes aren’t solid but made up of coarse fibers. That could open a gusher on the Champ’s head in short order.
Richard Parker: This is too painful to watch. It reminds me of the time I got arrested for jaywalking in Singapore.
After a minute or so of grinding, the shaman gazes upon his work. Ray’s forehead is red, raw, chafed, but no skin has broken. He shoots up to his feet, throwing the kendo stick beside him in frustration. Pax tries to rise to his feet, but as he gets to all fours, Pontiff flails his leg wildly, putting the heel of his calloused and worn foot in the small of his back by the grace of velocity and not precision. He mounts Ray’s back and grabs his arm by the forearm. Scanning for the sharpest part of the chain – drat, he thought to himself, no crocodile teeth this week – he presses the Champion’s own wrist to his forehead and starts grinding.
Nick Stuart: If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Pontiff was trying to make Paxton Ray bleed here.
Richard Parker: Well, I’m the one in this booth who knows better most of the time, and I agree, he’s *HURK*
Nick Stuart: I would like to assure all the people at home that my broadcast colleague only dry-heaved right there.
He’s able to balance himself inflicting massive violence due to his core strength. Paxton tries his hardest to break free, kicking his legs like a tantruming child, but escape only comes when Sage realizes the skin on his victim’s forehead is still not broken. Again, he shoots to his feet, this time leaning his head down to the shockingly prone Intense Champion.
Sage Pontiff: WHY WON’T YOU BLEED?
The Champion has had enough. He rolls over onto his back, fighting through pain, and hocks the biggest loogie possible, expectorating right in his challenger’s face.
Paxton Ray: Because fuck you, that’s why.
Even though it’s not the first time someone spit directly in his face, Sage still is taken aback. This gives Paxton the in he needs to get his feet under him. Now the fun begins. The Champ grabs a handful of dreadlocks, causing the Bodhisattva’s face to contort into comedic levels of painful expression, and pulls him in deep for a headlock. He repeats what he did to the Luchador four weeks ago when he won that title. Yeah, the ropes are steel cables rather than barbed wire, but metal is metal, and it still hurts like a son of a bitch.
Nick Stuart: There’s the Champ and his meanstreak. You didn’t think Pontiff was going to be able to keep him corralled for too long.
Richard Parker: It’s good to have hope though, y’know?
Pax throws his challenger to the mat like a sack of garbage, then steps through the ropes and to the outside. He thinks about grabbing one of the spare chairs, but because cruelty is embedded in his soul, he threatens Vince Howard with bodily harm and takes the one he was sitting on. As he slides into the ring, he lets go of the chair, leaving it on the mat. Sage slowly climbs to his feet, holding his head in his hands, but again, Pax grabs the dreadlocks – he takes great enjoyment in yanking them, actually – and whips the guru into his grasp, readying for a bodyslam.
Paxton Ray: You like pain, ya pig? I gotchu covered.
Ray then slams Sage down HARD onto the chair. The Bodhisattva spasms, arching his back, but he’s met with a boot to his gut. Ray makes the match’s first cover…
Pax isn’t content to let this thread go. All good threads deserve pulling after all. He drags the challenger to his feet and slams him again on the chair with even more reckless abandon than before. Then again. Then again and again and again until even Foster can’t take enough of seeing someone’s back destroyed over and over. He may be in Paxton’s corner, but he’s also in his 40s with a bad back. Sometimes, empathy takes over. Pax makes a second cover.
KICKOUT! Somehow even more emphatically than before. The camera zooms in on Sage’s face to show that he’s smiling.
Nick Stuart: I’m starting to think Sage Pontiff isn’t a normal competitor.
Richard Parker: Of course not! His emotional core is centered in combat. Pain is a blessing to receive and to give.
Nick Stuart: That was profound. Too profound for you, Rich.
Richard Parker: Thanks, I read it on a Chobani label.
Paxton pounds the mat, frustrated, maybe a little too much so for not being able to put Sage away so early in the match. Foster takes the cue to give his charge an easy way out.
Nick Stuart: Wait, what did Foster just slide into the ring?
Richard Parker: It’s a suitcase nuke. Call Homeland Security.
Nick Stuart: It’s not that big, c’mon Richard, be serious for a second. It looks like a pair of knux?
Richard Parker: Aren’t those illegal?
They indeed are contraband in many states. That doesn’t stop Foster from carrying them and sliding them to his charge. Paxton looks over at his manager indignantly, gets up, and kicks them at dangerous velocity, so much so that Foster has to jump out of the way. They clang off the guard barrier, shocking everyone: Richard, Nick, Foster, the fan in the front row with the “ACKNOWLEDGE OINKERS” sign, production assistants in Argyle, Zion Williamson resting at home from another injury.
Nick Stuart: I don’t approve of the use of such a dangerous weapon, but you have to question the logic of Paxton not going along with using them.
Richard Parker: It doesn’t make sense to me, but I don’t want to see a murder in the ring tonight, Nick.
Paxton turns around from his rejection, but his, ahem, yambag pays the price again.
Richard Parker: God bless Sage Pontiff for making sure this sicko can’t please a woman again.
Nick Stuart: Richard, I’m sure that’ll only make him angrier.
Richard Parker: Ah nuts.
Doubled over again, Paxton walks right into a headlock driver that sends him crashing into the chair he brought into the ring. The Champ is stunned but still unbloodied. Pontiff heads into the corner and savagely tears at the turnbuckle pad, tearing so hard that the laces snap. The Butcher gets to his feet, still groggy from head trauma, and the Bodhisattva sizes up his prey, laying the trap. Pax falls right into the trap. Flapjack. Head CRASHING into the exposed turnbuckle. The Champion falls back. Sage’s face lights up like the Christmas lights at Rockefeller Center.
Paxton Ray is bleeding. Finally.
His smile is a mile wide. He sees the wound and drops to the canvas. As he sinks his teeth into the freshly opened gash, you can hear in unison the sounds of several mothers’ hands covering their children’s eyes. Fans, generally in sync chanting, chaotically shout “EW!” Richard Parker heaves again, but this time, my friends, it’s not dry. The bloody beard and lips of the Bodhisattva match the sanguine eye on his forehead. Paxton’s face is completely red.
Nick Stuart: For once, Richard, I don’t disagree with your lack of control over your gastrointestinal constitution.
Richard Parker: *HURK*
Sage Pontiff is happy, but he is not satisfied. He wants more blood. He wants all the blood. His favorite Pearl Jam song is “Blood.” Okay, I might be making that one up. He probably doesn’t even like Pearl Jam. Anyway.
He mounts Ray again, this time, using his head. Literally. Mounted headbutts. Blood spatters around the ring canvas, some flying far enough that Foster has to change his spot on the outside of the ring. The deluge of headbutts only ends with Sage feeling woozy himself. Instead of going for the pin though, he picks Pax to his feet. He grabs, opens, and places the chair around Pax’s head. With violent intent…
Nick Stuart: NAMASTE!
Richard Parker: With the chair! Sage Pontiff leaving no stone unturned, and I am here for it, Nick.
Pax falls limply to his knees, then collapses to his side. The chair falls off his head, and Sage FINALLY tries to win the fucking match.
Kickout! The arena groans. And then Paxton Ray rolls out of the ring to regroup. But you really can’t regroup against a man who doesn’t think any high risk maneuver is a bad idea. As the Champion confers with his manager, trying to wipe the gushing blood from his eyes, the challenger sizes him up and takes a running start. He leaps with the same thrust as one would for a tope suicida. However, because Sage Pontiff has attained perfect body control, he impossibly twists midair into Fosbury flop, attacking with his back careening at Paxton and Foster. It is a sight to behold, many cameras flashing to catch it either in stills or video. It would have been a killshot…
…had it landed…
…somewhere else than Sage’s back catastrophically smashing into the guard barrier. Because Paxton Ray caught it a beat early and dove out of the way.
Richard Parker: Uh, did we just watch a guy die?
Nick Stuart: No Rich, I see his chest moving up and down, but I think he might not be in great shape to win this match.
Paxton Ray takes the time to collect himself. Sage Pontiff is quoting Homer Simpson – “This is more painful than it looks.” After a moment, the Lafayette Bruiser realizes he has a title to defend and a guy who wouldn’t be going away too easily, even if he almost just broke his back. Once again, he grabs those dreadlocks and drags him to the precipice of the ring. Just as it looks like he’s going to toss him back in, he stops short, swings the guru around, and he exacerbates the back injury he just suffered.
Nick Stuart: It is crazy how one big risk has sunken Sage so badly here, Rich.
Richard Parker: At this point, the way Paxton is coldly calculating here, I’m just wondering if Sage’s teachings will come across as poignantly if he can’t walk.
The theme of the match is “if it works, do it again,” and Pax follows it to a tee. He slams Sage’s back into the unforgiving, unmoving apron time after time until his victim cannot stand anymore. As the Bodhisattva falls limply to his knees, it’s the Butcher’s turn to find plunder from under the ring. He reaches in and finds himself a fire extinguisher. Most people use it the normal way, pull the pin, squeeze the handle, blind your opponent with flame-retardant foam.
Not Paxton Ray.
Lift. Swing. WHAM.
Nick Stuart: Man, I know it’s the Intense Title, but Elvis Nixon has gotta think about stopping this match.
Richard Parker: Intense Title, Shmintense Shtitle, stop the match! I don’t want to see yet another man paralyzed at the hands of this freak.
Luckily for Sage, Ray realizes he has to win the match before he can get paid, and he needs to get paid so he can, well, pay you know who. After Sage is sufficiently spasming and twitching against his own will, Paxton picks him up and rolls him into the ring. He covers, hooking the leg for emphasis…
THR… NO! Pontiff kicks out, causing an audible gasp to rise up from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know where he’s getting the wherewithal to kick out here, but my God.
Richard Parker: He’s powering up to over 9000! I feel it!
Nick Stuart: Folks, Richard Parker is making anime references. That’s how you know it’s getting real in there.
No more time for fooling around. As Foster screams on the outside holding the brass knux in his hand, Paxton ignores him, instead hauling his opponent in place for an Irish whip. Rebound. Lift into the air. Here’s the part where I would say “Lafayette Lullaby!!” but again, I mentioned before that Sage Pontiff has insane body control while airborne. He takes the momentum received from being tossed into the air and adds ever so much of his own that allows him to propel himself forward an inch or so. The uppercut doesn’t connect, but his own hurricanrana does. And this one is all spike, no pin.
Nick Stuart: UNBELIEVABLE!
Richard Parker: I BELIEVE IN THE TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE!!!
He rises to his feet. Any other wrestler might have had the roof pop off the building after that move, but let’s face it. Sage Pontiff is only better than Paxton Ray because he hasn’t paralyzed anyone yet, though he came close to doing that to himself tonight. He lifts Paxton Ray to his feet and whips him off the ropes, charging in the opposite direction. As they meet like two trains in a math problem, Pontiff leaps in the air in beautiful poetry, putting the Champion down with the Cosmic Resonator. As Ray rises to one knee, shaken but still with gas in the tank, Sage knows what he has to do. He grabs him preemptively and then signals to the crowd.
Nick Stuart: He’s going to finish this one!
Richard Parker: I feel all the planets lining up. The auras are in place! It’s time for the Shamanic Dream…
Before Richard could finish his statement, Sage’s somersaulting movement stops. Paxton has grabbed both his legs tight before he could finish the rotation. The Butcher does what his instinct tells him to do. He heaves forward, rocking the Bodhisattva’s back and head off the canvas with a brutal spinebuster. Then, the finishing suite.
Lifting the challenger to his feet. Whip. Thrust.
Lafayette Lullaby. Academic.
The… no? NO!
Nick Stuart: Oh my God! How is he still kicking out?!
Richard Parker: He’s riding the cosmic wave, Nick! He’s going to do it!
Paxton is beside himself. Foster is apoplectic. He climbs onto the apron, waving the knux while barking at his charge.
Foster Nackedy: Use them, NOW!
Paxton Ray: Fuck you. I do it my way.
Foster Nackedy: Use them now, or else.
The “or else” must be loaded, because Paxton acquiesces. He takes on the knux and repeats.
Lift. Whip. Thrust.
DING DING DING.
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, and STILL PRIME Intense Champion, Paxtonnnnnnnn… RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
Boos rain down from the rafters of the Smoothie King Center. Paxton Ray, a bloody mess, scowl etched on his face, raises his hand holding the title. He and Foster exit the ring and walk up the ramp back to Argyle, saying nary a word to each other.
Meanwhile, Sage Pontiff remains in the ring, eyes closed, knocked out waiting for paramedics. Except he STILL has a mile-wide smile on his face.
NO REST FOR THE RIGHTEOUS
While medical teams are busy scraping Sage Pontiff up from the canvas after Paxton Ray crushed his face with the brass knux, the camera shoots back outside the locker room area of the Smoothie King Center. Simon Tillier stands by with The Anglo Luchador, fresh from his big win over/crushing defeat against Tristan Crispin-Gladhappy. Tillier has a microphone and an uneasy look on his face given his luck with interviewing wrestlers in the ReVival era and the Luchador’s, well, erratic behavior of late. Still, he presses on as an intrepid broadcast journalist.
Simon Tillier: I am standing by with The Anglo Luchador, and, first off, Tristan Crispin-…
TAL: Simon, first off, stand down, partner. I’m not going to give you the run-around like Erik does or treat you like a second class citizen like anyone else. Second, I’m done talking about that peabrained incel. I have to address something… someone bigger.
Simon breathes a small sigh of relief before continuing his line of questioning.
Simon Tillier: Well, uh, I am guessing that someone is FLAMBERGE. You kinda interrupted his promotional time earlier on in the show, and it seems you’ve been at each other’s throats ever since we came back from winter break.
TAL: Well, Simon, it would be correct to state that that punk kid was the one who started it, but when you’re someone like me, you’ve got to focus on finishing things. He cracked the bottle of Pacifico, but I’m going to down it and then smash it over his head so he doesn’t even dream of continuing to taunt me from the sidelines like a certain grinning wannabe mafioso.
Simon Tillier: So you’re going to challenge FLAMBERGE?
TAL: That’s right Simon. I was going to make it for the pay-per-view, Culture Shock, the place where last year, I took Hoyt Williams’ malice golem on a wild goose chase around the arena. This year though, my dance card is already punched. I’m stuffing my name into the battle royale for night two like vacationers in Cancun shove a lime wedge in the top neck of their bottle of Corona. But ReVival 25, well, my dance card is suspiciously free.
Simon Tillier: So this is a challenge?
TAL: Simon, you’re goddamn right it is. We’ve been skirting the edges on this shit for over a month now. It’s time to get flesh-on-flesh on the schedule. He needs to hit me, Simon, but no matter how big his desire is, I need to punch him in the face that. Much. More.
Simon Tillier: Well, all we have left is to see if FLAMBERGE will accept…
TAL: I know he will, Simon. He wants it too. I can read it in his face. LIke I told him back at ReV 21, I know him because I used to be him. In a lot of respects, maybe I still am too much like him for my own liking…
A beat. The Luchador reflects on his behavior of late for a second.
TAL: …but the point is this. I am the engine that keeps PRIME revving, no matter who holds the belts or claims they’re locker room leaders or tries to stand tall at the end of the show. I probably have a match at ReV 24 coming because I asked for one. If FLAMBO is who I think he is, I’ll have one at 25. And then the battle royale at Culture Shock will cap it all off. Simon, there’s no rest for the righteous, but once it’s all done and I’m the last one standing at three different shows, I’ll crack the Modelo Especial, and everyone else will see what I’ve known for a long, long time.
The Luchador pats Simon on the shoulder before exiting stage right.
Simon Tillier: Alright, let’s throw it to Matt Mills now, who has the challengers in tonight’s main event standing by!
Matt Mills looks slightly nervous standing next to a VERY intense Dangerous Mix. Mushi stands stoically, but David Fox paces back and forth with a bowed face, in the small space he is allotted.
Matt Mills: I’m here with tonight’s challengers for the PRIME Tag Team Championships, the Dangerous Mix. Now, what are your thoughts going into a match that, as you have said, David, is over twenty years in the making?
The Soul Survivor stops in place and extends a hand, calling for the microphone. The tension makes Matt stall a bit, but a sharp grunt from David Fox, and a jabbing motion with his arm, jars the erstwhile interviewer to comply.
David Fox: My thoughts. Well, my thoughts are too plentiful to cram into the short time between now and when Mushi and I walk towards that ring, towards our destiny.
David slowly tilts his head up, his eyes level with the camera lens.
David Fox: When Mushigihara and I first ran that boulder down the strip in Vegas last year, a masked buffoon and his mannequin caught my eye out of everyone else there, and before long, I realized that masked buffoon was one of the greatest wrestlers I had ever seen.
A pause. David produces a weathered old notepad, and flips through the leaves before showing us a list of names long forgotten… and somewhere in that list is one of the defending tag team champions.
David Fox: For over twenty years, Jared Sykes was a name on a list of wrestlers from when my career started kicking into high gear, who I wanted to face in the ring, see if I had the skills to defeat them. Well, the years went on, and most of those names fell off the face of the earth. No farewell matches, no grand announcements, not even a shitty podcast for them to bitch about the state of the business today and grift the people who still remember them and their heydays.
He makes the faintest of chuckles.
David Fox: And certainly no chance for me to ever test my mettle against them. I don’t know how much longer I have in that ring, and when I do inevitably retire, I will do so with a lot of what-ifs and shoulda-coulda-wouldas. But tonight?
David produces a pen, and scrawls in his notepad before turning it back toward us, Jared Sykes’ name now emphasized with a circle drawn around it.
David Fox: One of those questions will be answered. I don’t know how Jared feels about this match tonight, but it means the world to me. Mushigihara and I are going to give Jared and Justine EVERYTHING in that ring tonight. And this particular loose end, this what-if? Win, lose, or draw…
David turns to his tag team partner and gives him a motivational pat on the shoulder.
David Fox: I’ll have my answer. And if we write our names down in PRIME history as the ones who dethroned the unsinkable team?
He then raises his notepad up one more time before putting it away.
David Fox: Our names will last far longer than this old thing ever will. Ready, Mushi?
The Kaiju bows his head and smirks.
David Fox: The road for me and this man was twisted, tumultuous, and chaotic. But it all leads to tonight. To us. On three, big man?
The pair silently counts together.
Mushigihara and David Fox (together): OSU!!!
The Mix high-five each other, before exiting, stage-left, leaving Matt Mills to his own devices, shaking off his own tension.
Leaving behind the Dangerous Mix moments before their opportunity to become the PRIME Tag Team Champions, we return to ringside, where Angelica Brooks, dressed as stylish as ever, stands with a microphone in hand.
Angelica Brooks: Welcome back to ReVival, brought to you live on Ace Network as well as PWATv. Still to come, the PRIME Tag Team Championships will be on the line as David Fox and Mushigihara of the Dangerous Mix look to end the unprecedented 239 reign of Jared Sykes and Justine Calvin.
A loud cheer from the New Orleans fans. Given what has transpired in the last few months, perhaps Jared Sykes is something of an adopted son.
Angelica Brooks: But first…I would like to introduce to you my guest at this time. Usually, we have a more candid conversation on The Undergroundcast, but this week, by his request, we are going to be doing the segment live and in the ring. Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, by…
She can’t help but sigh.
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A sudden shift from her monotone.
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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 and into the well of sound filling the Smoothie Center. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, his hallmark scowl of intensity painting his face. Perhaps he is in need of using the promo code. His attire is of note; a white tracksuit with a trio of stripes down the side (black on the outside, PRIME blue on the inside) and the Youngblood Diamond logo on the upper right breast, as well as a pair of wrestling shoes. There is no hesitation in his movement, and without a second thought, he climbs the ring steps, stepping between the ropes, and as he does, he explodes upright. The chyron banner displays his name, while the kicker states “This Look Soon To Debut, from K2 Sports”. Walking over to Brocks, the music and the roar of the fans continues, causing the Diamond of the ReVival to flash a quick smirk. Hands on his hips, he draws close to Angie as his music fades. The cheers continue on for several more seconds, chanting his name before, finally, all that is left is a buzz. Finally, Angelica begins to speak.
Angelica Brooks: Interesting duds.
Brandon Youngblood: Enjoying your ‘premium’ CBD products?
The shiteating grin shared between the two just goes to show the relationship the pair share. She playfully elbows him, telling him to stop it, before composing herself and continuing.
Angelica Brooks: Brandon, on ReVival 23, you came to the ring and laid out some heavy sentiments. About your performances to round out last year. About your original intentions with your battle with FLAMBERGE. About how you plan on moving forward. Which is to say nothing about the challenge levied to you by Matt Ward…by Tchu…
Just saying the Wrecking Ball’s name gets the fans roaring in approval. The Tower of Babel is nonplussed.
Angelica Brooks: So everything felt rather…comprehensive. So I have to ask…what more is there to say? Why did you…want to do this segment in the ring rather than on the Undergroundcast?
After a few moments, Brandon draws the microphone, held by Angie, to his lips.
Brandon Youngblood: NEW ORLEANS!
Brandon Youngblood: Diamonds are forever…
He unzips his jacket before pointing to his chest.
Brandon Youngblood: And so is Jonathan Rhine!
The shirt is unmistakable. Fighting For Jonathan. The Diamond of the ReVival nods his head, and raises his arms, goading them to keep going.
FIGHT FOR JON!
FIGHT FOR JON!
FIGHT FOR JON!
He only continues when the calm down…a process that takes a healthy amount of time.
Brandon Youngblood: I’m gonna be quick. You’re right Angie…last ReVival…I said a lot. A hell of a lot. But I want to make something clear. We’re on the road to Culture Shock. Last year, it was all about the Almasy Invitation. 32 Wrestlers. One goal. The Universal Championship. And when the smoke cleared…when it was all said and done…one man stood above the rest. One man rewrote his legacy and finally…finally…DAMN FINALLY…became Universal Champion!
He turns to face them.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re damn right!
Another raucous cheer powers through the Smoothie Center.
Brandon Youngblood: But that’s not the focus this year. PRIME has been ReVived. Bigger. Better than ever. The best promotion in all of professional wrestling. On the road again. But even still…even still…that doesn’t mean there’s unfinished business. I take everything I have one at a time. Opponents, the challenges, I’m not looking past them…not looking past anyone. But I want to make it clear…there’s one thing I haven’t done that is on the bucket list. One challenge I need to make right.
His eyes seem to light up.
Brandon Youngblood: In the past, Culture Shock meant one thing; the Dual Halo. The biggest battle royal in sports. One against all. One match…one night…and if you could conquer it…if you could conquer everyone else…you could punch your Golden Ticket. Now I’ve beaten Universal Champions. Hall of Famers. GTT winners. I’ve won the Almasy and the Jewel in the Crown. But I never got my Halo…
He stands back straight, looking to Angie before continuing.
Brandon Youngblood: 2005…I came close. But Karina Wolfenden…the K-Wolf…she punched her ticket and took the momentum to become the forerunner for female competitors in PRIME. And then…there was 2010. Down to the wire. Down to the damn wire. So close. Only for Vangelus Olsig to Spiked my dreams and cap his career. Damn near runner up twice. And it’s gone. Sold for scrap. But in it’s place?
A wicked smirk.
Brandon Youngblood: Mike McGee is spouting off that he can kick everyone on the roster’s ass at once. The Anglo Luchador says he will fight anyone, anywhere. Coral Avalon is looking for his crown. Every person in PRIME…hell…people we don’t even know about…they’re going to go to Dallas Texas on April 8th…and it won’t be in a Halo. No…it’ll be something bigger. Better. Stripped away of the insanity of moving doors. To be the best…to make your claim…you have to beat EVERYONE before you. The Culture Shock Battle Royal.
Brandon Youngblood: And know this…this one isn’t about dreams or wishes. Everyone will enter that ring with one goal in mind. But to get there? You have to go through me. Because at AT&T Stadium…there’s only one who can tower over the rest. Which leads me to my next issue…something more immediate. See…last ReVival…I addressed the elephant in my room. The challenge thrown my way by Matt Ward. And I figured Angie…I figured I’d have heard something. But all I got was silence. Nothing on social media. No Kaiser Vashaun getting dropped on his head to send me a message. And me? I’m impatient. I ain’t wrestling tonight…and Ward…hold on a sec…
As Youngblood trails off, he reaches into his pocket, fishing out something. And when he pulls what he is looking for out? He displays it for all to see.
Nick Stuart: Is that…what I think it is?
Richard Parker: Red Bull. A can of Red Bull. Sugar free.
Cracking it open, he slugs it down, all before crushing the can in his hand and casually tossing it out of the ring.
Brandon Youngblood: Now that I got my wings…hey Tchu…I know you’re back there…how about I put you on the damn spot? How’s about you get your orange ass out here, NOW!
The New Orleans fans explode. Not one to hide, the Inhuman Being emerges from behind the curtain, but he does so with none of the usual spectacle. No lighting package, no music, just a man… on a crutch.
At a less-than-stellar pace, Ward makes his way toward the ring.
Nick Stuart: We know Ward has struggled with bad knees throughout his career, and at our last ReVival, we saw that left knee betray him in his match against Sage Pontiff. The fallout doesn’t look good for the Hall of Famer.
The Inhuman Being limps up the steps and into ring, wasting no time in requesting a microphone. Once in hand, though, he’s not nearly as quick to formally address The Tower of Babel. The two Hall of Famers lock eyes, center of the ring, as the buzz of the crowd begins to churn thru the arena.
Richard Parker: You can feel the tension in that ring
Nick Stuart: There’s a helluva lot of accolades standing in the center of the ring. Over a half-dozen PRIME singles titles, multiple tournament victories, PPV main events.
Richard Parker: Helluva lot of animosity too, for some reason.
Neither man blinking or budging, barely even breathing, The Inhuman Being raises his mic.
Matt Ward: Good to finally get some face time together, Brandon.
The Diamond of the ReVival doesn’t offer much of a response.
Matt Ward: I listened really closely couple weeks ago when you stood in the center of this ring and… graciously… accepted my rather informal challenge. I listened as you insinuated that I saw you as nothing more than a speedbump on my route for a fourth Universal Championship. I dunno if you were paying attention later that night, but my journey is already off the rails.
For a moment, The Inhuman Being turns back toward the entrance way and the backstage and offers up a simple nod of the head.
Matt Ward: Hats off to ya, Sage.
Tchu turns back to the Tower of Babel and continues on.
Matt Ward: Brandon, I was the EVP of Talent. Coulda more or less written my own contract when I decided to come back. It is no accident, no coincidence, no ‘speed bump’ to keep me entertained along the way. I made it clear when I decided to lace the boots back up, that it would be Ward Vs Younglood. And there’s some very specific reasons as to why.
Brandon Youngblood: I’m listening.
Matt Ward: You and I were around back in the ReVolution days, back when I burst onto the scene, won the Jewel in the Crown, won the Universal title and pretty much immediately established myself as the man to beat in PRIME. But you and me, our paths never really crossed. Reason that was… I was the marquee while you were holding down the mid-card. While you were winning, an admittedly impressive, three 5-Star Championships, I was winning one… two… three Universal Championships. I was aware of your talents, but ya never just seemed to get over that hump and come and join me in the main event.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure Youngblood is taking too kindly to all of what he’s hearing.
Matt Ward: And then I retired. Went about my life. A decade went by when one day, Lindsay Troy contacted me and presented me an opportunity. PRIME was coming back and there was a spot waiting for me if I wanted it. I declined and she offered the EVP role, which I accepted. Stay retired, but stay a part of something I loved. Seemed like the perfect compromise. We started talking about talent, and I was a Brandon Youngblood guy. I was on cloud nine when I heard you would be a part of the ReVival and I hoped I’d get a chance to finally see you ascend that mountain. And I did.
For the first time, since he’s started talking, The Inhuman Being takes his eyes off of Youngblood, or, more specifically, he closes them as he slowly draws in a couple of deep breaths, as if trying to calm himself.
Matt Ward: And you came back and burst onto the scene, won the Almasy Invitational, won the Universal title and pretty much immediately established yourself as the man to beat in PRIME and…
Ward opens his eyes and stares a directly at Youngblood
Matt Ward: It ate fucking hole in my stomach. Everything I had done a decade and change earlier, you were checking all the same boxes. And it reminded me of when I was King, when I was the man. There is no debating… I’m on the Mount Rushmore of PRIME. The only question is whether or not I’m the absolute greatest of all time. Right now, there’s only one individual you can even muster a worthwhile argument to hold a candle to me, and she’s signing checks these days. But here you are, trying to forge a path towards my status.
Richard Parker: Well this is starting to make sense.
Angelica has ceded the microphone to Youngblood, having stepped out of the ring. Lord knows wrestling has taught her that such interactions are fraught with violence, and she will have no part in getting in the crossfire. The space between Youngblood and Ward isn’t great, but it closes even further. There is a seething intensity permeating through the Diamond as he begins to speak.
Brandon Youngblood: You want to talk about eating a hole in your gut, Matt?
The question is rhetorical. Tchu doesn’t flinch.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re right. On PRIME’s Mount Rushmore, you earned your spot. Chiseled it for sure. And if you want to talk about being the best ever here? Well, that’s something for people to debate about. But your history lesson to me needs a little clearing up…because you’re rolling over some very important context, and since finally…FINALLY…our paths are crossing…I’m going to let you…and all the fans in on it.
Brandon Youngblood: You’re right. You did win the Jewel in the Crown. 2005. King of Kings. You want to talk about a marquee? It wasn’t you headlining. It was me. Brandon Youngblood versus Hoyt Williams for the Universal Championship. Staples Center. I remember it. Do you? While you were busy smashing Karina Wolfenden…while you were beating up the woman I love in the Finals in Amy Campbell…I was getting ready. Biggest match of my life. And like I had been doing here recently, I was looking past it. Looking past Hoyt Williams. He was a speedbump, Matt. That night, in Los Angeles…it was going to be my night…crowned champion of PRIME. Most people thought it was a guarantee. I sure did.
Brandon Youngblood: And then I lost, Matt. Because my eyes were too big for my stomach. Because in the weeks and months leading up, I was more interested in doping up and getting high and being the worst version of myself. And I lost. But not just that. You won the Jewel in the Crown. Fresh from the ether. And the ball was in your court. I didn’t get a chance at a rebound.
Brandon Youngblood: I was fired.
Brandon Youngblood: So that marquee, you earned that. You won the Universal Championship. You started piecing together the legacy you have. And I was stuck on the outside looking in. In Global Championship Wrestling. On the Frontier. Not caring. Knowing…knowing…KNOWING…that I was wrestling in second rate companies…in less than a year…I came into PRIME and was one of its pillars. But then, I was tossed away…a piece of shit…butt end of the jokes for Chet Worth and Angelo Deville while they nearly shit this entire company out of business. And I would be on the outside looking in…wanting back…fiending for it. You ever gone through withdrawal, Matt? It’s Hell. But eventually, you string out enough hours, enough days…you detox…you feel human again.
Brandon Youngblood: Try living that for over a year! And when you watch…when you look in on the home that tossed you out like a piece of shit…you see someone near your same size. Your same build. Using your moves. And watching them have the run of dominance that you felt in your bones was yours. And there’s nothing you can do about it. That hole you feel? I lived it. And it did a damn good job of healing up. Until the Orange Came Around…
Brandon Youngblood: And now you’re here…and the only way to plug that hole is to prove it in the ring. You think I’m following in your footsteps. I think you took the legacy I was on my way to forge. So what do you say? How about we stop thinking and feeling and get down to fighting and answering.
The Wrecking Ball finally responds.
Matt Ward: My knee is wrecked, and to be completely honest with ya,I’m not sure I’m gonna be medically cleared in time…but I don’t really give a damn. Mark it on the calendar at Culture Shock, Brandon.
Matt Ward: There was never any reason for me to come back for anything less than the Wrestler of the Year, than the guy who has been the measuring stick. If I can’t go toe-to-toe with the best, then I’ll tuck my tail and re-retire, but I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and let this go.
The Inhuman Being takes a step closer, erasing what little distance stood between the two titans of the industry. Nose to nose they stand as the crowd roars.
Matt Ward: You may not have intended it, you may never have said as much, but when you came back and you finally climbed that mountain top, you came for my crown and I’ll be damned if I was gonna sit behind a desk, a passive pathetic observer, and just let that happen. Beat me at Culture Shock and you can join the conversation for the greatest to every step foot in a PRIME ring. Is it Troy? Is it Tchu? Youngblood? I beat you… and no one ever needs to wonder about it again.
The scowl from Youngblood is as emphatic as his response.
Brandon Youngblood: See you in Dallas…and on Mount Rushmore.
And with that, the battle lines are drawn. Ward v. Youngblood. Culture Shock.
Will Jerryworld even be standing after they are through?
COMMERCIAL: CULTURE SHOCK
TAG TEAM TITLES: JARED SYKES and JUSTINE CALVIN (c) vs. DANGEROUS MIX
Nick Stuart: Well, fans, our main event is right around the corner, as the Dangerous Mix of David Fox and Mushigihara get their shot at ending the iron-fisted reign of the former Kings of Popsicles, Jared Sykes and Justince Calvin.
Richard Parker: I dunno what’s gonna be more annoying, Nicky; the cryer and his girl defending the belts, or Kickpads and Mr. OSU winning them!
Nick Stuart: Well, we shall see.
Just as Nick finishes that line, the arena lights dim and red spotlights turn on, as the crunchy guitars of Hideyuki Takahashi’s “Run Rabbit Junk” fill the Smoothie King Center to a warm “hometown” ovation.
Nick Stuart: To those unaware, the Dangerous Mix has been stationed here in New Orleans for some time, as a part of DEFIANCE Wrestling before also entering PRIME. To call this a sort of homecoming, especially with the tag team championships on the line, would not be too much of a stretch.
The crowd pops again as David Fox leads the way, face lit up in excitement as he paces down the aisle, flanked by his Kaiju of a tag team partner.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s tag team main event is scheduled for one fall, and it is for the PRIME Tag Team Championships! Making their way to the ring, the challengers, at a total combined weight of four hundred eighty-four pounds… David Fox! The Kaiju, Mushigihara! They are the DANGEROUS! MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIX!
Fox is focusing on the ring, fists clenched and teeth gritted, as the New Orleans Faithful clamor for him and Mushi, who is tagging a hand in the crowd here and there. He is walking towards a match he has wanted for literal decades, and he will not let himself lose focus.
Nick Stuart: David Fox has said for a while now that this matchup with Sykes is something he’s wanted since his career began. Well, tonight, he gets that opportunity along with a shot at PRIME gold.
Richard Parker: If Sykes was on his bucket list, I’d hate to see the other names!
The duo make it to the ring, where Fox climbs onto the middle turnbuckle nearest him and appeals to the crowd, while Mushi stands on the apron, waving the crowd up to its feet, before letting out a thunderous…
The monster steps between the ropes, and Fox drops to his feet, as the music stops and the lights come back on. There are six figures standing along the entrance ramp, three to a side. They’re not the Bonafides. You can tell because underneath their hodgepodge armor they all appear to be in shape. The armor each wears is different, a collection of chainmail, plate, and fur-covered leathers, and each has a helm of some sort that obscures their faces. The lights dim again.
Richard Parker: Okay, so it’s apparently cosplay time.
Each has a drum, which they’re sounding together in rhythm. There’s also chanting, but it’s not coming from them. It’s coming from the arena speakers. What’s said is hard to discern, both because the language is unfamiliar and because it seems to be delivered in subharmonic singing.
Vince Howard: Making their way to the ring from Boston, Massachusetts and weighing in tonight at a total combined weight of three-hundred and twenty-two pounds…
The PRIMEview comes to life, showing three simple letters: KOP. Slowly cracks begin to form in each one, growing strong as the drum beat rises and chants get more intense.
A sword drives through the O, scattering all three letters into pieces. Flames rises up on either side of the blade, and when they finally die down a new word remains on the screen with the blade still behind it.
A wall of flame erupts across the stage.
Vince Howard: Jared Sykes… Justine Calvin… They are the PRIME world tag team champions…
The first power metal guitar notes of Jonathan Young’s cover of “I See Fire” hits the speakers and two new figures step out from behind the curtain. They are the PRIME world tag team champions, and they’ve decided to go a little extra for this one.
If this is to end in fire
Then we should all burn together
Watch the flames climb high into the night
Calling out father oh
Stand by and we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side (high)
Vince Howard: This! Is! EMINENCE!!
Justine Calvin is the first one out, dressed like a warrior priestess who just laid siege to a mountain stronghold. The armor she wears over her ring gear is more ornate than the men and women who heralded her arrival, and beneath her hood a line of black paint is visible across her eyes and the bridge of her nose.
Richard Parker: Nick, I think this has awakened something within me!
She’s carrying a stave, the top of which is adorned with a collection of trinkets won in battle. There are a few dangling guitar picks, a small toy bomb, part of a broken coffee cup, and a pink doll made of straw with two nails where its eyes should be.
And if we should die tonight
Then we should all die together
Raise a glass of wine for the last time
Calling out father oh
Prepare as we will
Watch the flames burn auburn on
The mountain side
Desolation comes upon the sky
Her partner, Jared Sykes, is taking that whole “Dragonslayer” thing a little too literally. His own attire could best be described as “Goth Daddy Grim Reaper”. A hood of torn black fabric covers his face and hangs loose over his shoulders, but beyond that he’s bare from the waist up save for what elements of his ring gear are visible. A long torn skirt of cloth and chain drags on the ground behind him.
He has no weapon, because that’s just safest for everyone, but he’s pulling a sled of bound logs behind him.
The message is this: they’ve displayed a trinket from every team they’ve defended their titles against so far, and tonight they come to kill a kaiju.
Now I see fire
Inside the mountain
And I see fire
Burning the trees
And I see fire
And I see fire
Blood in the breeze
And I hope that you remember me
With all of the props cast aside, the two slide into the ring with titles raised high. There’s a brief exchange between partners, and while the microphones don’t pick it up it’s clear from his smirk and her rolling eyes that whatever Jared said has probably made him the first person Justine wants to punch into a coma.
Nick Stuart: And here we go… Jimmy Turnbull is the official this evening, and we’re about ready to start a huge tag team contest.
Richard Parker: Why don’t we get cool entrances?
Nick Stuart: Because Lindsay Troy would probably shoot you to the ring out of a cannon, Richard.
Parker’s knowing nod is enough as the scene cuts to the ring and Jimmy Turnbull calling for the bell.
Nick Stuart: Looks like David Fox is starting it off for the Dangerous Mix, and Jared Sykes for Eminence.
Richard Parker: I think these two have known each other since the primordial ooze days of wrestling.
Nick Stuart: When was that?
Richard Parker: When we first started Nick. We’re fucking old.
Sykes and Fox start with a bit of pacing, the awkward circling that typically starts a match. Fox pulls his shorts up, trying to prepare himself for Sykes’ potential onslaught. Finally, the two men collide in the center of the ring, Sykes comes in looking for a tie up but Fox slips behind him and plants a kick to the side of Sykes’ leg. Sykes snaps back around and takes a swing with a lariat but Fox ducks underneath. Fox spins on a dime and jumps, grabbing Sykes’ head and trying to connect with a bulldog. Sykes runs with Fox though, and keeps himself upright underneath him as Fox maintains the headlock.
Nick Stuart: Great start here by these two.
Richard Parker: It’s almost like they’ve watched each other for a few decades or something.
Fox cranks on the headlock, but Sykes backs David into the ropes and manages to shove him off. Fox comes back off the ropes looking for a leaping roundhouse kick, it’s Sykes’ turn to duck underneath, rolling through and tagging in Calvin. Justine doesn’t come through the ropes, she comes over them and brings with her a diving clothesline that catches Fox perfectly across the neck. Calvin lands on her feet, while Fox does a back roll and ends up kneeling. He rubs his neck as Calvin comes in for a second salvo.
Richard Parker: Smart tag, Justine’s a bit more equipped to deal with Fox’s offense.
Calvin unloads with a low kick as Fox gets to his feet, he checks it off his kick pad, and fires back a low kick that Calvin manages to check off of her kick pad. Fox spins for a backfist, but Calvin ducks underneath and lets loose a vicious uppercut to Fox’s rib cage. David grimaces and fights through the pain looking for a knee to Calvin’s face, but Justine is just too quick, she moves around Fox and unloads a huge right hand to the jaw that sends David stumbling.
Nick Stuart: Your assessment is looking pretty spot on here.
Richard Parker: Put that call on my highlight reel.
Calvin comes in again, relentless and backs Fox into the corner. Calvin throws a right hook to the body, then a kick to the upper thigh as Fox tries to come forward. Fox’s face contorts into a look of pain and frustration as Calvin unloads a left hook to the body. Finally, David manages to step into Calvin, grabbing her in a muay thai plum. Fox uses his strength to turn Calvin into the corner, he throws a knee trying to yank Calvin’s head downward, but Calvin manages to get her hands in the way and block the knee. She still stumbles backwards into the corner from the force of the blow. Fox comes back in close, and Calvin manages to get her foot up and connect across Fox’s jaw.
Nick Stuart: Big kick from Calvin!
Richard Parker: Great dirty boxing from Fox though.
Fox backs off and Calvin comes forward looking for a spinning heel kick. Fox steps out of the way to his corner and manages to tag Mushighara. Calvin picks herself up off the mat, and comes face to face with The God Beast. Calvin throws a right hand, and a left hand, and Mushi screams in Calvin’s face and unloads a palm strike catching Calvin on the left collarbone. She flies backwards but Mushi keeps rushing in. He fires off a second palm strike, this time with his right hand that sends Calvin all the way back to her corner. Sykes slaps her back and comes leaping over Calvin, springboarding off the top rope and coming down on Mushi with a double ax handle.
Nick Stuart: Good tag from Calvin, and Mushi’s staggered!
Richard Parker: Big offense in short bursts, that’s Mushi’s game.
Mushi stumbles from the double fists dropping across his head. Sykes connects and keeps running, bouncing off the ropes he comes back looking for a cross body. Mushigahara catches Jared mid air, spins, and plants him to the canvas with a powerslam.
Richard Parker: The ring’s a shakin’! The Kaiju slammed Sykes so hard his entire family tree is rattling.
Nick Stuart: Mushi’s not done with Sykes.
Mushi brings himself to his feet, and sends Sykes flying into the ropes. Mushi gets a head full of steam, and comes roaring in, smashing Sykes with a splash. Mushi takes a page out of Abe Lipschitz’ book and runs to the far corner, colliding with it and coming back looking for a second big splash. Sykes rolls out of the way as Mushi smashes into the corner. Mushi staggers out of the corner and Sykes tries to catch him with a cutter. Mushi manages to catch Sykes around the waist though, and plants him into the canvas with an overhead german suplex.
Nick Stuart: What a suplex by Mushi!
Richard Parker: Sykes is dazed! But I don’t think Mushi can capitalize fast enough.
Richard Parker for the second time was absolutely correct and Mushi spends a moment collecting himself as he gets back to his feet. Sykes crawls to his feet, and Mushi grabs him by the hair. He whips him across the ring and into the ropes, Mushi goes for a big boot but Sykes ducks under, coming back off the ropes with a flying forearm that staggers The God Beast. Jared is frustrated that the big man won’t go down and heads back to the ropes.
Nick Stuart: This might be a bad idea.
Sykes comes back across the ring, Mushi is leaning against the ropes and Sykes leaps, ass first, planting it dead center into Mushi’s chest. The two men spill over the top rope. Sykes manages to grab the top rope and pull himself up to the apron while Mushi flips all the way over to the floor, but stays up on his feet.
Richard Parker: The size of Sykes’ kiester can’t even take Mushi down!
Nick Stuart: Kiester is not going onto your highlight reel.
Sykes looks to his corner, waiving Calvin over. Jared jumps off the apron while Calvin dives right after. Sykes grabs Mushi around the head with a huge clothesline that sends him stumbling and crashing into the barricade. Calvin in flight, lines up Mushi and lands on him with a stomp to his chest that drives Mushi to the ground and sends Calvin flipping over the barricade. Sykes looks back to check on Calvin, who was caught by a group of fans in the front row. Justine gives him a thumbs up, as Sykes drives a huge kick to Mushi’s face, and Calvin swings herself up and over the barricade, driving a drop kick directly into The God Beast’s face.
Richard Parker: ow… Ow… OW!
Nick Stuart: That did not look pleasant for Mushi.
Jimmy Turnbull begins counting the competitors out, as Sykes grabs the downed Mushi by the back of the head and drags him to the ring. He rolls him in under the bottom rope while jumping up onto the apron. He waives Mushi to his feet, Mushi stumbles his way there. Fox is screaming at Mushi for a tag, but the big man is stumbling and wobbling. He backs towards Fox as Jared Sykes explodes off the top rope and catches Mushi with a springboard cutter.
Nick Stuart: WHAT EFFORT BY DAVID FOX!
Mushi crashes to the mat but Jimmy Turnbull calls the tag, David Fox is hanging over the top rope as far as he can, with his arm stretched out as far as it can go. He barely managed to tag Mushi’s back and half falls into the ring. Fox makes it look graceful though and is quickly up to his feet as Sykes looks around confused. Fox explodes forward catching Sykes across the jaw with an uppercut. Jared’s head whips back.
Richard Parker: He just saved this match for the Mix.
Fox grabs Sykes in the muay thai plum and drives a knee into Sykes’ face. Then another. Sykes is wobbling, and Fox pulls his head down once again, but this time sits out, driving Jared’s face into the mat. Fox flips Sykes over and hooks both legs.
Nick Stuart: Sykes with the kick out.
Richard Parker: Of course he did, there wasn’t an eiffel tower on top of him.
Fox is back up, and Sykes manages to bring himself to his feet. Fox steps forward, looking for a roundhouse kick, but Sykes manages to dive to his side, tagging in Calvin. Justine comes over the top rope again, this time driving her feet into Fox’s face with a mini missile drop kick. Fox stumbles backwards holding his chest. Justine rushes forward, punching Fox in the ribs, again, and again.
Richard Parker: David Fox is going to shit his pants if she keeps punching him like that.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s how that works Richard…
Richard Parker: It will if he dies, Nick.
Fox, much further away from dying than Richard Parker would think, manages to catch Calvin across the face with a right hand, and follows it up with a vicious roundhouse kick. Calvin goes down and Fox hooks her leg.
Fox nods his head, and keeps going. He looks to his corner, but Mushi is still down off the apron. The camera cuts and shows Mushi, holding his head, blood coming from his nose. Fox keeps fighting.
Nick Stuart: Fox has almost pinned both of our tag team champions.
Richard Parker: He can’t keep this up.
Fuck you Richard Parker. That’s what David Fox would say anyway. Fox drags Calvin to her feet by her hair and whips her into the ropes, Calvin comes back ducking under Fox’s roundhouse kick attempt. She comes off the far ropes and takes a swing with a jumping pump kick. David hits the dirt, letting her sail over. Calvin lands on her feet, but Fox manages to sweep her legs out from underneath her. Justine manages to fall into the corner with Jared, and tags Sykes in who comes in with a head full of steam and delivers a basement dropkick to Fox.
Richard Parker: It’s hard to fight two people at once.
Nick Stuart: Very.
Sykes is quickly back to his feet, and Fox follows. David and Sykes lock up, Fox fires off a knee to the midsection that doubles Sykes over. Jared stays up though, and blocks a second attempt at a knee. Sykes ends up beside Fox, and flips him over, sending him crashing down on his head.
Nick Stuart: ANGEL’S HALO!
Richard Parker: God damn that move is pretty.
Sykes hooks Fox’s legs as Turnbull slides in for the pinfall.
Fox kicks out, Sykes is right back up to his feet. He drags David Fox up to his feet with him. He whips Fox as hard as he can into the ropes. Fox comes back off the ropes and takes a huge swing for a clothesline but Sykes ducks under it and uses his own momentum to smash Fox’s face into the ground with a Flatliner!
Nick Stuart: Third Degree! Third Degree! That’s it! Sykes got all of it!
Richard Parker: David Fox spun on his head like a goddamn top.
Sykes hooks David Fox’s legs as Jimmy Turnbull slides in for the count.
Nick Stuart: DAVID FOX GOT HIS SHOULDER UP!
Richard Parker: NO WAY!
Nick Stuart: David Fox is still alive!
Richard Parker: Not for long!
Sykes doesn’t waste any time going to the ropes and tagging Justine Calvin in. Mushi is still down on the outside while Justine vaults up to the top rope as Sykes brings Fox to his feet.
Nick Stuart: This is something I’ve only heard of in rumors…
Richard Parker: Something new coming up from the tag champs. David Fox is absolutely, positively fucked.
Nick Stuart: FAMILY SHOW, RICHARD!
Richard Parker: I’m sorry kids, David Fox is absolutely, unequivocally, the most fucked human being on the planet. Like, he’s going to the same farm they sent your dog to, he’s as dead as you are after you don’t do your homework and your Mom found your weed. Like you’re that fucking dead.
Sykes lifts Fox up for the Omega 13 as Calvin prepares herself to leap off the ropes. Calvin launches but Fox manages to flip all the way over landing on his feet. Calvin comes crashing in looking for a stomp, but David Fox absolutely decapitates her out of mid air with his spinning back kick.
Nick Stuart: FLASHBANG! FLASHBANG! FLASHBANG!
Richard Parker: WE’RE GOING TO HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS! WE’RE GOING TO HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!
David Fox staggers like a madman to the center of the ring, Sykes gets to his feet and throws a right hand at Fox who shakes it off while screaming. He kicks Sykes in the stomach, which doubles Sykes over, then spins under bringing Sykes crashing down with a Twist of Fate!
Nick Stuart: That’s Jared Sykes’ finishing move from the NWC! THE SYKE-OUT!
Richard Parker: YOU CAN’T PIN SYKES! HE DOESN’T MATTER! GO PIN HER KICKPADS!
Fox, exhausted, drags himself over to Calvin and drapes his arm across the unconscious Calvin’s midsection as Jimmy Turnbull slides in to count.
Nick Stuart: Calvin kicked out at the last possible second! Calvin kicked out!
Richard Parker: It took too long Nick… it took too long to get back over there after the showdown with Sykes! Kickpads has a hell of a kick though. Jeeeeeeesus.
Turnbull holds up the two fingers Fox grabs at his hair and yanks on it, his eyes are wide as he looks around the ring. Fox slams his hands on the mat, once, twice, three times as he pumps himself up to get back to his feet. He stumbles up, just as Calvin begins to move. Fox stumbles over, finishing bringing her up to her feet. He gives her a huge irish whip across the ring into the far turnbuckle. Calvin smashes into the buckle and comes stumbling out of the corner. Kickpads loads his mighty leg up again, and swings it furiously forward. Calvin matrix’s herself underneath the spinning back kick, grabbing Fox by the head and dragging him to the ground for a neckbreaker.
Nick Stuart: Big neckbreaker by Calvin!
Richard Parker: She’s got a long way to go to shake off that Flashbang though.
Calvin and Fox struggle to their feet, as Mushigahara finally makes his way back up onto the apron. Fox fires off a low kick but Calvin checks it. Jared Sykes finally makes his way back over to his corner as Justine unloads with a low kick, and a right hand combination. Fox manages to block the right hand, but takes the low kick to the side of the leg. Calvin fires away again this time with a left hand, right hand combination. Fox manages to push her away, he looks back to his corner and Mushi is still catching his breath on the apron.
Nick Stuart: Fox is tiring.
Fox swings a right hand, but Calvin manages to block it, and delivers a kick to Fox’s side that doubles him over. Calvin sees the opportunity and pounces, driving Fox’s head into the canvas with a DDT. Calvin looks over, and Sykes has regained some level of normalcy and she tags Sykes in. Jared doesn’t waste any time and pulls Fox to his feet, He sets him up for Omega 13 as Calvin jumps to the top rope, and then off in one fluid motion. As Fox’s head smashes into the mat, Calvin lands with a double foot stomp down across his chest. Calvin rolls through the impact, and leaps up into the air, superman punching Mushi off of the apron as Jimmy Turnbull slides in to count the pinfall.
Richard Parker: WHAT A MANUEVER! THEY GOT ALL OF THAT!
Nick Stuart: Incredible move, I believe they call it, let me check my notes, The Moonlight Butterfly.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: What a contest to close out ReVival 23…
Richard Parker: That was unreal… incredible performance from the Tag Team Champions in there.
Turnbull is handed the titles by Vince Howard as he climbs into the ring. Turnbull hands the belts to Sykes and Calvin and helps them to their feet.
Vince Howard: And your winner by pinfall… and STIIIIIILLLLLLL the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS OF THE WOOOOOOOOOOOORLD! JARED SYKES AND JUSTINE CALVIN… EMINENCE!
Nick Stuart: For Richard Parker, this is Nick Stuart. We’ll see you all in two weeks from the Toyota Center in Houston.
The camera pans around the cheering arena as Sykes and Calvin help the Dangerous Mix to their feet and shake their hands.