A COLD OPEN
Welcome to the show.
Are you doing well? I hope so.
Oh, don’t mind me, we’re just having a bit of a quiet cold opening on tonight’s show. You might remember past show openings that had some of that old fashioned razzle dazzle, like “man makes forklift error” or “two men have arrived to work exactly on time”, both of which were explosive affairs. Tonight? Much quieter.
We find ourselves in a modest but well apportioned private locker room fit for three. In this case, the three men who are in the current camera shot:
Tyler Adrian Best.
The three men who have been making something of an impact across PRIME in the last month. Three men with banked title opportunities awaiting them at Tropical Turmoil. Three men who, although aligned, have yet to make their motives clear. Three men with a lot of question marks hanging above them…
Three men who are not looking at the camera at all, and instead have their heads thoroughly buried in their individual smartphones.
The rude pricks.
The camera crew picks up a small smile from Cecilworth as he starts to get his thumbs roaring upon a small phone keyboard. Another chuckle from Lord Farthington as he appears to have sent the message. FLAMBERGE’s eyes reveal nothing, he will not express how the message may have made him feel. TAB for his part gives a charity sideways smile curl on the left of his face, clearly trying not to upset his adoptive Uncle.
FLAMBERGE is the next to have his thumbywumbys in action, which is met with a large smile from TAB and wide eyed concern from Farthington, who gives off the impression that he is considering bleaching his phone in the near future.
We are due to see TAB’s entry into the game, but Cecilworth lifts his head for enough time to notice that a camera man has found himself in the room. Cecilworth quickly slides his phone right back into his pocket, making sure that the camera didn’t pick up a single pixel of his screen display. Clearly irritated at the intrusion, he glances over at the camera for a second, giving an unsettling glare that starts to make the ACE Network’s finest slowly retreat from the room. Cecilworth leaps off his bench and begins to stalk the cameraman out of the room. As the cameraman quickly leaves the room, Cecilworth gives him one last look.
Cecilworth Farthington: no.
Farthington slams the door shut. The camera remains in place for the few more seconds, slowly panning up to the nameplate on the locker room door:
KENNY FREEMAN VS. JACK OWYNS
We pan around the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, because it is ReVival 29 and that’s where we’re at! Look at all the signs! Are they not nifty?
ALBUQUERQUE LOVES RICHARD PARKER
THIS IS RICHARD PARKER COUNTRY
CONOR FUSE’S HAIR > CANCER JILES’ HAIR
ROCKY DE LEON = NEW ALIAS CHAMP
JULIAN BATHORY SPAT IN MY MAC & CHEESE BOWL
I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN A LEFT TURN AT ALBUQUERQUE
I’M HERE ON UNAPPROVED PTO
GET THE CRYSTAL YOU IDIOT. IT’S NOT THAT HARD.
ARE WE TSURE TSONDA ISN’T ACTUALLY A CLONE?
HE’S AT THE VERY LEAST A TSYBORG
LIZARDS ARE OMNIVORES SO FEED FLAMBO WHATEVER
SIGN BUBBA KING
MY MOTHER HITS HARDER THAN THESE GUYS
WHO DOES NUMBER GLUE WORK FOR??
REZIN’S METH >>>> WALTER WHITE’S
IVAN STANISLAV DINES WITH CAPITALISTS
IS THAT A SNAKE?
NO, IT’S FLAMBERGE
I THOUGHT FLAMBERGE WAS A LIZARD?
CHECK OUT ABE IN THE UPCOMING HIT SITCOM “ALL THAT RACQUET” ON HULU IN 2024
HEY HOYT YOU SMELL GOOD
Nick Stuart: Welcome, everyone, to PRIME! Welcome to ReVival 29! We have a big show for you tonight! Two championships are on the line, as Rocky de Leon will challenge C. Mortgomery Byrnes for the Alias Championship… and in the main event, the new 5-Star Champion has a tough task for his first title defense, as he defends against ever-dangerous Sage Pontiff!
Richard Parker: Hi!
Nick Stuart: …That’s it, just “hi”?
Richard Parker: Found out that I’m not paid by the word, so gonna put in the bare minimum.
Nick Stuart: You always have things to say.
Richard Parker: Nah. Takin’ it easy here.
Nick Stuart: …Great.
We start with Machine Gun Kelly’s “Sex Drive”, which heralds the arrival of none other than Jack Owyns. The Villain. He marches straight out of the curtains and heads for the ring. The moment he comes anywhere near the fans, he starts mouthing off to them, showering them with every insult he can think of.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, this opening contest is scheduled for one fall! Making his way to the ring… from Seattle, Washington… weighing in at two hundred and fifty-three pounds! JAAAAAAAACK! OWYNNNNNSSSS!
Owyns continues to insult fans until he reaches the ring, whereupon he casually rolls underneath the bottom rope and takes a seat in one of the corners.
Nick Stuart: Not a lot of love between Owyns and the fans here in Albuquerque.
Richard Parker: Nope.
A trap remix of the Soviet Union national anthem plays over throughout the arena as Kenny Freeman steps out onto the stage, looking a little more confident about his choices compared to two weeks ago…and perhaps some of that has to do with Ivan Stanislav standing beside him, much to the chagrin of the crowd as they boo the Master of the Moscowverse as Kenny walks to the ring.
Arriving at the ring, Kenny steps through the ropes, Ivan staying at ringside to seemingly cheer his new recruit on in the match!
Freeman is ready to go, and after a few moments, Owyns grabs hold of the top rope and pulls himself up to his feet. Referee Ashley Barlow looks to both men, and then calls for the bell.
Kenny Freeman does not hesitate to immediately rush Owyns and smash him with right hands and elbows. Owyns finds that Freeman’s approach is too quick even for him, and is backed into the corner where Freeman continues to hammer him.
Nick Stuart: Kenny Freeman taking the fight to Jack Owyns early here!
Richard Parker: Yup.
Nick Stuart: …Really?
Kenny gets zealous in his beatings, and climbs up to the second rope with Owyns below him just to punch him some more. Unfortunately, Kenny forgets – as he always seems to – to realize that his opponent has nearly a hundred pounds over him. Before Ivan can shout a word of warning that Kenny Freeman is a tiny, puny American that sympathizes with the Russian cause and Jack Owyns is a very large, very filthy American, Owyns puts a hand on Kenny’s chest and slams him down with a brutal spinebuster.
Nick Stuart: What impact! Kenny Freeman might be in trouble here!
Richard Parker: Or dead.
No, Kenny Freeman is not dead. Owyns moves in to fix that, smashing Freeman with a forearm that knocks him loopy and puts him down to one knee. Barlow, recognizing that Freeman isn’t exactly defending himself, resolves to try and get Owyns to back off a bit. Owyns politely pushes Barlow aside and goes to further his attack.
Much to his surprise, though, Freeman grabs Owyns by his tights and pulls him through the ropes and out to the floor. Owyns lands in a tumble, but there’s two reasons why he doesn’t want to be outside. The first is that Kenny is distracting referee Barlow, preventing her from having eyes on Owyns out on the floor. The second is the Russian that’s accompanied Kenny to the ring that shakes the ground when he walks.
And while Jack Owyns might be a “Villain”, the great Russian Bear is a hero to his people. Which is almost no one here except, at the moment, Kenny Freeman. And so, Owyns stands up just in time to be nearly beheaded by Ivan Stanislav’s lariat. Don’t worry, it’s just a light beheading. He’s fine. Probably.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! Ivan Stanislav is once again just doing whatever he wants!
Richard Parker: Comrade!
Ivan’s own momentum carries him far enough away that by the time Ashley Barlow turns to check up on Owyns, he’s far enough away that Barlow doesn’t immediately yell at him to get back into the ring. Freeman, largely unaware of the actions of his very large comrade, slides out of the ring and muscles Owyns back up. It’s laborious for him because of the size difference, but Freeman’s stronger than he looks and he gets Owyns back into the ring.
He goes for the cover as soon as he’s back in, but it only gets two as Owyns powers out somehow.
Nick Stuart: Despite Ivan stepping in there, Freeman hasn’t put away Owyns yet!
Freeman stands, and does the next thing he can think of. He bounces off the ropes, comes back, and… well, he does a dance. Look, Kenny just watched RRR for the first time not too long ago, he’s doing some moves from that. When he’s done, he drops the leg.
Nick Stuart: Follow the Freeman! Into the cover!
Once again, Owyns kicks out. Freeman drops a couple of boots on Owyns’ head, then goes to the turnbuckles and climbs up. He’s up to the top rope, and he leaps off with a moonsault!
He connects with his target.
Unfortunately, that’s the last thing he wants to do.
Nick Stuart: Owyns gets the knees up!
Richard Parker: Oh no!
As Stanislav shouts words of encouragement, something articulate and beautiful in his native Russian tongue that Kenny Freeman himself wouldn’t understand (though the word “yeet” does come up at least once), Owyns gets to his feet and nails a recovering Freeman with a swinging neckbreaker! Owyns roars as he gets to his feet. He pulls a dazed and confused Freeman to his feet and goes to underhook the arms, looking for the Villain Connection.
Freeman, however, manages the shake himself loose from the hold and rapidly crawl through Owyns’ legs. Owyns turns and goes after Freeman, crowding him in the ropes and then strangling him with his hands. He didn’t even bring his stranglin’ gloves! Naturally, Barlow starts a five count, and then gets frustrated with his attempts to keep a stranglin’, so she tries to physically pry him off.
And it keeps Barlow’s eyes off of the Russian, who simply reaches up and punches Owyns in the face.
Nick Stuart: Again! Stanislav again making this a two-on-one match!
Richard Parker: Nuh-uh.
Nick Stuart: Stop that!
Owyns falls backwards like a ton of bricks, and Ivan backs away from the scene of the crime. Kenny doesn’t even give referee Barlow any time to question what just happened, and grabs Owyns by the wrist, hooks his head with the crook of his knee, and grabs the outside leg.
Nick Stuart: That’s the Freeman Special!
Richard Parker: What!?
Kenny Freeman has gone for this move – ostensibly his finisher – several times in his PRIME run, and it has never ended well. Yet, Freeman has the wrist and the leg locked tight. Owyns has nowhere to go, and he can’t delay the inevitable.
tap tap tap
DING DING DING
Kenny Freeman has an almost bewildered look as he falls off of Owyns with his arms raised in victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this match… KENNY FREEEEEEEEMAAAAAAAANNNN!!!
Nick Stuart: …And don’t forget the big assist from Ivan Stanislav.
Richard Parker: Okay, yeah, I can’t do the thing where I don’t talk as much. Jesus. There was more dead air than an airplane full of zombies. Anyway, I didn’t see Prepper-chick Stanislav do anything, and I bet if you put it to video review, you’d find nothing, too.
Nick Stuart: I can’t with you.
Ivan enters the ring and puts Kenny Freeman up on his shoulders to help him celebrate, though the expression on his face suggests that he’s rather unused to doing such things without also yeeting someone. But his response to his comrade’s victory is the same as what he always does in these sorts of situations.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!
Kenny tries to match his laugh. He’s not as bombastic about it. Give him time.
But with the collective laughter of the burgeoning Red Army filling the air, it’s time to move on to a self-proclaimed “clown prince.”
The thrilling opening contest cuts away to the always lovely Lindsay Troy sitting inside her office for the evening. The Queen of the Ring and all things PRIME in this instance, however, does not appear so lovely, and that probably has something to do with the cockroach seated across from her.
…and his T-Shades.
And cool hair.
Lindsay Troy: You couldn’t even close the door?
Cancer Jiles: I thought that was Wade’s job, and I didn’t want to step on his toes. Speaking of, isn’t it past his bedtime?
Already, this is off to a great start.
Lindsay Troy: What is it now, Pizmo? You want to help me pick out the curtain color for ReVival 30?
The Queen’s barb draws some blood from her jester. He winces, but quickly recovers.
Cancer Jiles: Good one. No, I’m here to talk, and my hope is you’re going to listen. In order to get my point across I’m going to speak slowly, and use small words so that you’ll better understand me. I think that’s been our prob–
The Queen hastily returns to unamused. An owl hoots from somewhere unseen.
Lindsay Troy: Hey DICKHEAD! You aren’t important anymore. Not that you were important to begin with, but you definitely aren’t now. And even then, don’t think I’d let you talk to me like that. You’re lucky to still be here cleaning the bottom of the barrel, you crumb. Keep that in mind when you’re filling up the gallows of the ship.
Cancer Jiles: I was making a joke.
Lindsay Troy: No you weren’t.
A long, awkward moment. A moment that looks like Jiles casually taking in the room, and Lindsay staring into his soul. Or whatever he has.
Cancer Jiles: Okay. Fair. You know me. Allow me to digress.
Before Jiles’ request for digression can be denied, he quickly continues on.
Cancer Jiles: Dearest Mother, do rest easy upon your eggs. I have taken the proper steps to ensure I am in tip top shape for my gracious return to the MAIN EVENT when I take on Regen at ReVival 30.
Lindsay Troy: Raisin. And I wasn’t aware we releas-
An excited COOLYMPIAN clamors forward in his seat, and in his excitement he cuts off his boss.
Cancer Jiles: See, I no longer have to represent this crybaby, honorable handshake slash pressing dicks together federation anymore at Pee Double You Eh Two against… shit I forgot who it was. Hollywood?
Lindsay Troy: Get real. You know who it is. Are you trying to get fired?
Cancer Jiles: Six in one, right.
Lindsay Troy: No, and if you’re trying to get fired I won’t do it ’til after PWA 2 just to spite you.
Cancer Jiles: I guess I’m speaking too fast because you clearly don’t understand. There’s no match at Pee. Double You. Eh? Two. You could fire me now, not that you will or need to since I no longer have to wipe my ass with a PRIME flag to prove that I hate PRIME more than anyone else does.
A proud one.
Not from Mom.
Lindsay Troy: Is that so?
Cancer Jiles: I’ll divulge further. And slower. From the very little I remember about Conor Hollywood I do remember he is a coward. As such, I told him that if he wanted a match against me, the seemingly immortal Greek God of COOL, that he’d have to come here and challenge me to my face.
The illegitimate Son of Zeus laughs like he’s making fun of Hercules’ new haircut.
Lindsay Troy: Everyone’s favorite hyperactive little dweeb was just the runner up at War Games. That’s not half bad for a coward. Where’d you finish that one year you were in it?
Cancer Jiles: That’s below the belt! I was up against THIRTY plus people I’ll have you know! But that’s not the point! The point is…. Wait. Did you say he finished second? Not that it matters.
Lindsay Troy: The point, Pizmo. Get to it.
Cancer Jiles: The point is I’m not a sheep which makes me too big a game for Conor the Coward. Therefore, there won’t be a match between us where I have to drag my salty feet defending PRIME’s dishonor.
Mother Hen rolls the two eggs under her eyebrows. The Maestro continues conducting.
Cancer Jiles: Therefore, Rezin, a former holder of my extended and UNIVERSALLY lauded penis, IS FUCKED when he faces me in the MAIN EVENT of ReVival 30.
Another egg roll from MH.
Cancer Jiles: Therefore, the rest of the Tumultuous Turmoilers are just as fucked as Rezin is when things turn up Tropical a couple of weeks later.
Does my order of shrimp fried rice come with… an egg roll?
Cancer Jiles: Therefore, and I sure as fucking hope it’s Crumblood but he has dropped the ball before against invaders so who knows, BUT, therefore the UNIVERSAL CHAMPION is fucked.
Cancer Jiles: That, MOM, is the point. I’m fucking back, baby.
The Queen of the Ring looks past Jiles, and to the person ominously standing behind him in the doorway to her office.
Lindsay Troy: Did you get all that?
The camera pans out revealing Mr. Coward himself, Conor Fuse, standing in the doorway. Conor sports his dark purple COMICON jacket and has been taking notes on one of LT’s coasters this entire time like he’s a reporter for the Daily Bugle.
Conor Fuse: Coward? You must have me confused with another Clown Prince. Say Cancer, have I ever told you HOW I got these scars?
Fuse runs a hand over his face.
Conor Fuse: Okay, I’ll save that explanation for another time but dude, like, HELLO do you remember anything!? I showed up two weeks ago and challenged you directly! Everything I am doing is designed to get your attention!
Conor glances over at Lindsay Troy with rolly eyes.
Conor Fuse: Guy complains about wanting the mAiN eVeNt and then the Last Level Legend shows up and it’s still not good enough. (To Lindsay) I thought you told me this guy (trying to discreetly head nod over to Jiles) was “motivated” now.
Conor pauses to dig into his pockets. He pulls out a Joker card with Jiles’ face scribbled in pencil over The Joker’s head.
Conor Fuse: Total loser, eh.
Conor flicks the card across the room and it lands perfectly in the corner of Lindsay’s office… while the Queen looks like her head is about to explode.
Lindsay Troy: Oh my God, stop with Batman and the Joker already. You’re giving people Joker Teeth Pants and Palmer Drug Trip PTSD and I’ve got enough already to deal with.
Conor doesn’t really get the comment but smiles anyway.
Cancer Jiles: Were the pants Pearl and Candy Cardinal Red by chance?
The hooting gets louder until Conor jumps in again. He takes a step into the office and crosses his arms.
Conor Fuse: Okay, so the match is happening. PWA2. Look, Jiles, you gotta help me, man. High Octane Wrestling is so boring-o, ATM. I’m coming back to face you, my ultimate enemy. And let’s be honest…
Conor tries to hold back a snicker.
Conor Fuse: You haven’t really been lighting the world on fire since you lost the Universal Title. You could use some extra motivation.
Conor points to himself.
Conor Fuse: I’m your guy; you’re my villain. I owe a lot of my success to you so STFU, wrestle me…
Fuse winks to both of them.
Conor Fuse: And lose.
You’d think he’s done but COMICON has no filter or page limit…
Conor Fuse: (speaking very quickly) Because yeah, I was War Games runner up, again. Two-time World Champion, bet. Probably one of the best high flyers in the game. I’m still in my PRIME lol, mind the bad pun that everyone’s likely said once or twice already. OH, and I’m willing to go to extremes to make PWA a watchable event this time! Bang, bam, BOOM!
Hands on his hips, Conor sticks out his chest. Troy gives her eyes another roll while Jiles looks back at his boss as if insinuating this is one of the most miserable times of his life.
Conor Fuse: Okay, I’m done. Either of you can talk now. The match is happening, right?
Slowly. Disinterestedly. Laboriously. Wretchedly. Exhaustingly. All words that could be used to describe how Cancer Jiles got out of his seat. Oh, and he yawned, too. Now though, the chill is in the air. His good luck feet are starting to salt over. He’s chewing gum with his mouth open. His nose is inches away from Conor’s nose, and Lindsay has her hand in a bag of popcorn.
Conor Fuse: I guess this is what you meant by face-to-face.
The Maestro nods yes. Fuse glances towards Mom, maybe for a lifeline, or maybe because Jiles’ breath stinks like a blunt even with the gum.
Cancer Jiles: She can’t help you now, kid.
Lindsay chimes in.
Lindsay Troy: You boys like Mexico?
Conor legitimately thinks about the question and then nods his head yes. Jiles cracks his neck, snorts, and marches out of the office.
…Leaving Conor Fuse standing in front of Lindsay Troy, still eating the popcorn.
So Fuse starts twiddling his thumbs.
Conor Fuse: Uh, yeah, how ya been, girl? Did you get the gift basket I sent ya? No video games or comic books in it, either! Not even a Forever 21 gift card ‘cause I know ya don’t like ‘em. Bygones are bygones, right? I mean I give you ratings, you give me Jiles, it’s win-win and then we both move TF on!
Lindsay chews her tasty snack. Reaches for a napkin to wipe her hands. Dabs at the corners of her mouth. Keeps her eyes glued on the Video Game Kid who treated her bestie Henry Keyes like dirt, spat on their friendship, and then got murked for his transgressions.
Lindsay Troy: No.
Another handful of popcorn. A dismissive wave of her hand.
Lindsay Troy: Now shoo.
Conor takes a moment to glance around the room. He clearly digs Troy’s setting but knows he’s on borrowed time so he bows to Lindsay and then scurries down the hall.
Conor Fuse: See ya later, dude! Who knows when COMICON will return, ahahaha!
Lindsay watches him go, shakes her head, and ReVival moves on…
Backstage in the halls of The Pit, God’s Champion makes his way towards the Argyle Position for his scheduled match. As he does, he cheerfully tosses and catches the bowling / ping pong-sized ball (depending on who you believe) with Nova’s name scrawled across it. With him is his fashion advisor Joe Burrow who is pushing a cart with a black sheet covering its contents.
“Your Personal Jesus” notices a mirror and takes a second to admire his hair.
Hoyt Williams: Ratings are rising as we speak!
He tosses the ball one more time in the air and opens his hand to catch it.
A blue gloved fist darts forward over Hoyt’s shoulder and catches the ball before it falls back to his hand, and he spins around to come face-to-face with the Risen Star.
Nova’s eyes are fixed on Hoyt’s and God’s Son takes a step back.
Hoyt Williams: NOVA! Hey! (holding out his arms) I’ve been meaning to talk with you…
Hoyt puts a hand on Nova’s shoulder and the Starchild’s eyes briefly dart over to it before returning to Hoyt’s sparkly blues.
Hoyt Williams: …I have a question. When the medical staff reinflated your windpipe in after the Big Red Brute tied a ring-rope-sized twisty-tie around it in Kansas City…did they do a good job?
Hoyt leans in to examine Nova’s neck, craning his own to different angles.
Hoyt Williams: I’ve heard mixed reviews, to be honest – not that I plan on ever having to write one myself.
He draws up to a rigid standing position, snapping a Soviet salute with a proud grin.
Hoyt Williams: FOR THE MOTHERLAND!!
Nova, having lit a cigarette during this nonsense, exhales an enormous cloud into Hoyt’s face.
Nova: They did fine.
“Your Personal Jesus” doubles over in a coughing fit, covering his mouth with an arm.
Hoyt Williams: Cancer-smoking cancer seems poetic, but poetry is the language of the devil himself. Kinda seems like a waste to fix your throat given the smoking habit. Anyway.
Hoyt makes a face of disgust.
Hoyt Williams: Tropical Turmoil is in San Diego in a few weeks. Now there is NOTHING tropical about San Diego so the whole theme is garbage. But turmoil. I can bring that, and sinner you are due for a spiritual awakening.
Hoyt takes a step forward. Nova eye’s God’s Championship on the shoulder of the Savior.
Nova: Hoyt, you may think because of what I’ve been through, you have a cleaner track record than I do…
He takes a long drag.
Nova: …but we both know you were peddling shit LONG before I ever got busted for having it.
Hoyt shakes his head in disbelief.
Hoyt Williams: Um, I’M SORRY, if you mean to suggest that God’s Love is a drug, then yeah, I’m Pablo Flipping Escobar! But that’s not what landed you in jail, Nova…it’s not what led to your disappearance from the hallowed halls of PRIME, it’s not what has led to your pathetic second act…that’s just…you, Friend-O.
Nova: Hey, bud, if that’s how you feel…
He steps forward and slaps his free hand on the belt slung over Hoyt’s shoulder.
Nova: …seems like you’re due to defend that title of yours. It’s been decades, right?
Hoyt recoils, aghast.
Hoyt Williams: You think this is an easy burden to carry? You think you have what it takes to be God’s Champion?
The Risen Star tosses his cigarette into a nearby bucket and balls his fists.
Nova: I’m gonna find out.
Hoyt Williams: You want to be God’s Champion? Then you’ll enter the Divine Realm the way our Lord and Savior did!!
The Pontiff of PRIME steps forward himself.
Nova: Oh yeah? How’s that?!
Another step forward for the Risen Star, coming almost nose-to-nose with Hoyt, who responds by butting his forehead against Nova’s and growling his teeth.
Hoyt Williams: CRUCIFIXION MATCH!!!
Nova: ALL! IN!
Hoyt’s eyes widen in a rage and his nostrils flare
A sadistic grin stretches over Nova’s face and he nods slowly, his forehead still pressed against Hoyt’s.
Nova: GONNA BE BRUTAL.
Hoyt’s eyes narrow.
Hoyt Williams: You…
Nova continues with the sadistic grin and slow nodding.
Hoyt Williams: …don’t know what a crucifixion is, do you?
Nova: NO I DO NOT.
Williams takes a step back, his arms outstretched incredulously.
Hoyt Williams: How do you not know what a crucifixion is?!
Nova takes another drag and shrugs.
Nova: Wasn’t a lot of Sunday school in my early years…
Hoyt Williams: Clearly. But crucifixes – our national flag, seal, bird, mammal, anthem, motto, flower, and tree – are EVERYWHERE! For crying out loud, man, there’s one over there!
He points and Nova follows his finger to a clock on the wall that happens to have a crucifix emblazoned behind the hands.
Nova: Oh yeeeeeeah, the Bad Religion symbol. (Cocking his head) Or at least part of it.
Hoyt’s face turns red and he begins to shake before taking a deep breath.
Hoyt Williams: Bad religion? I’m not here to talk about scientologists. Brother Burro, unsheet the display of accuracy.
The homely fashion director pulls the sheet off the cart to reveal a replica of the PRIME ring and ring side area. Just outside the ring is a giant cross laying vertically on the ground next to a big red button. Hoyt picks up the official Nova action figure and makes it seem like it’s walking to the ring.
Hoyt Williams: (impersonating Nova poorly) Oh I need a smoke, a square, a cancer stick and some bowling ball polish for my head. Hoyt do you know where I can get some bowling ball polish for my stupid, godless, bald head?
With his other hand Hoyt picks up the new Hoyt Williams action figure that comes with the custom God’s Title. Plastic Hoyt approaches the Nova action figure.
Hoyt Williams: (impersonating Hoyt perfectly) Nova smoking is a sin and you shouldn’t do it. Nor should you throw The Rock of Gibraltar at a biblical icon’s head. You must be punished. Now Nova pay attention because this is what a crucifixion match is!
Hoyt smiles at the real Nova who is watching this display not sure what to think. Hoyt takes his action figure and kicks Nova in the stomach before performing a Crucified and Saved on the toy.
Hoyt Williams: (Impersonating Richard Parker adequately) OH MY GOD he just destroyed Nova!! Our Savior has done it!!! What next? What is this, he’s strapping the arms and legs to the cross!! Yes!! Nova is secured to the cross. Hoyt is now walking over to the big red button! He hits it!! It’s over!!! Hoyt Williams wins again!!! They should give him the universal title!! He’s the greatest ever. OH MY GOD!!!!!
The real Hoyt pushes the red button and the cross springs to a stand up position where the plastic Nova hangs crucified. Hoyt grabs the little plastic God’s Title and straps it to the waist of plastic Hoyt.
Hoyt Williams: AND STILL CHAMPION!! Hoyt Williams! This is how it will work only a lot more violent. So it is written so it is Hoyt’s Truth.
Nova shrugs, lighting another cigarette.
Nova: Joke’s on you. I don’t read the matches. Just the segments.
Hoyt shakes his head in disbelief, his hands still clutching the figures in his display.
Hoyt Williams: What???
Nova turns and begins to walk away, spinning around as he takes another drag and pointing a finger at the Pontiff of PRIME.
Nova: Tropical Turmoil. God’s Championship. Cruciblipship match. You promised.
He disappears around a corner, leaving Hoyt with his action figures. God’s Son turns to Joe Burro, who has been silently white-knuckling his shrouded cart the whole time
Hoyt Williams: Solid work, Joe!
Hoyt pushes past him, stomping towards the backstage ring entrance for his match.
FLAMBERGE VS. HOYT WILLIAMS
There’s an atmosphere of expectation and excitement in the New Mexico crowd, as ReVival continues its journey forth, arriving at the destination of the next match of the evening.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back to ReVival, and wow, we have a big time match coming up next. The destructive path of the Neck Collector himself, FLAMBERGE has brought him to the lofty heights of being the number two ranked wrestler in PRIME. The Glueminati’s FLAMBERGE certainly is eying up that number one spot, but Hall of Famer and former Universal Champion Hoyt Williams stands in his way, looking to end the hot streak of FLAMBO.
Richard Parker: HOYT against Glue… against Cecilworth… I… I… I hope everyone has a good time in a clean fight! Curse however let this match happen, it must have been a clerical error. UTTER MADNESS!
Nick Stuart: A live view of a man’s bias’ intersecting, right there.
Referee Elvis Nixon slides into the ring as ‘Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode begins to play. Out walks Joe Burro holding the Imperium Bible above his head. He walks to the ring unphased by the jeering crowd as a single white spotlight follows him. Joe enters the ring and holds the bible towards the entranceway.
Richard Parker: You know, I wonder what’s running through the mind of FLAMBERGE watching the theatrics of Hoyt and his entourage.
Nick Stuart: Probably something like “that guy got style!”
Richard Parker: Something like that, I’m sure.
About two minutes into the song when it gets to the weird breathing part blue smoke starts filling the ramp as Hoyt appears with a long white robe flapping behind him. Hoyt starts to zip to the ring on a golden segway.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall, introducing first, making his way to the ring at this time, tonight he weighed in at a self-proclaimed perfect three thirty, hailing from Chicago, Illinois… HOYT! WILLIAMS!
Richard Parker: A glorious entrance! I love the weird breathing part.
Nick Stuart: Wow, you really are feeling the Word of Hoyt tonight.
Richard Parker: I just wish for all participants to have a pleasant evening!
Sort of unnoticed you can spot Hoyt’s two main brethren the massive Brother Privilege and Brother Hypocrisy walking casually to the ring behind the zipping, segway ridin’ Hoyt. Hoyt quickly disembarks from his holy roller and rolls himself right into the ring, popping up and starting a dedicated routine of “Jumping Jacks for Jesus”. “Personal Jesus” starts to fade and “Dangereux” by IAM replaces it, heralding the arrival of FLAMBERGE, who is not exactly the most popular man to the New Mexico crowd. Probably something to do with his new friends.
Vince Howard: And the opponent… coming to the ring at this time, he weighs in tonight at two hundred and eight pounds, hailing from Strasbourg, France… FLAMBERGE!
Nick Stuart: Every challenge that has been put before FLAMBERGE, he has slain for a good, long time now. You have to imagine this young competitor is hungry for his Intense Championship opportunity…
Richard Parker: …I wish I was watching that instead of this HURTFUL FARCE. How could they do this to me? How could they do this to Cecilworth and Hoyt?
Nick Stuart: You know that’s FLAMBERGE there, right?
Richard Parker: GLUE BINDS THEM!
As FLAMBERGE starts to head towards the ring, it’s clear that the negative reception has done little to divert his attention from the ring. FLAMBERGE has his eyes locked on the jump jackin’ Hoyt, who returns a gaze in kind. FLAMBERGE gradually but purposely slowly rolls into the ring, not stopping when he gets under the bottom rope, FLAMBERGE instead elects to roll all the way to the middle of the ring, stopping short at the side of Elvis Nixon. Hoyt’s jumping jack routine is brought to a stop from this rather odd way of ring entrance, as he walks over to Nixon and gestures towards FLAMBERGE, who is still very much on the mat at this point.
Nick Stuart: As the weeks progress with FLAMBERGE, I’m starting to wonder if he hasn’t been taking supply tips from Rezin.
Richard Parker: Hoyt won’t like this. He likes when wrestlers are vertical to start matches, being horizontal could be an unfair advantage!
Hoyt continues to try and converse with Nixon over the situation, but Nixon just shrugs his shoulders and calls for the bell.
Flamberge remains on the mat, glaring up to the lights in the ceiling. Hoyt takes one lap around the FLAMBERGE, giving small kicks to see if his opponent is going to provide much of a reaction, he does not. Hoyt considers what to do next, clearly a bit stupefied at the scene before him. Hoyt puts his hands on his hips for a few seconds, trying to consider what the best option is. Hoyt may also be considering that he would’ve had a much easier time if this was actually an expensive egg ornament. Eventually, with a shrug of his shoulders, Williams drops down and hooks the leg of FLAMBO for the pin. Nixon checks the shoulders and counts.
FLAMBERGE KICKS OUT! Hoyt is genuinely surprised by this, giving FLAMBERGE enough momentum to swing around and hook his arm around Hoyt’s neck. Hoyt quickly senses that a man is looking to collect his own neck. Hoyt decides that he would rather not provide his neck to FLAMBERGE if it’s all the same to you, and thanks to the hold being locked in relatively lightly, Hoyt scrambles to the ropes for the break.
Nick Stuart: Was FLAMBERGE playing possum? Or did he just suddenly wake up and realise he was in a match?
Richard Parker: Why didn’t he just give up the win to Hoyt? The man isn’t 100%! That devious Nova injured him with a bowling ball.
Elvis Nixon instructs FLAMBERGE to break, and he surprisingly does so. Hoyt quickly gets back up, he turns around to see that his opponent is now sitting upright in the middle of the ring. Williams looks over at the Neck Collector, clearly trying to work out if perhaps some demon has possessed the young French talent. Hoyt looks out to his flock and asks for the Imperium Bible, Nixon warns him not to use it as a weapon, but Hoyt hushes the referee, as he quickly flicks through the pages.
Nick Stuart: What do you think Hoyt’s looking for in there?
Richard Parker: Probably trying to work out if there’s anything advice on a possessed FLAMBERGE.
FLAMBERGE remains motionless in the middle of the ring, just still sitting and dead eyed looking in the direction of Hoyt. It doesn’t seem like the French competitor has much of a mind to move towards his opponent. As Hoyt continues to desperately flick through his good book, Elvis Nixon once again moves in to remind him not to use it as a weapon. This time, Hoyt decides to wave off Nixon, but in doing so, his hand makes contact with Nixon’s temple. Elvis Nixon slowly topples over, timbering like a fresh cut tree.
Richard Parker: WHAT A KIND AND GENEROUS GESTURE! Hoyt has healed our poor Elvis Nixon!
Nick Stuart: At this point, I’m not sure if Nixon got drugged or I did.
Hoyt looks at the collapsed referee with absolute shock on his face, clearly this was not the outcome he was intending for. Despite the collapsed heap of Elvis Nixon resting next to him, this does not cause FLAMBERGE to either move, or stop his gaze towards Hoyt. Hoyt walks over to FLAMBERGE, clearly a bit annoyed about the situation and starts drilling boots into his exposed chest over and over again. After each shot, FLAMBERGE recoils and resets his seated position. Clearly not happy at the speed of progress on offer in this situation, Hoyt notices that Nixon is still out, raises the Imperium Bible up high and slams it down on top the skull of FLAMBERGE. This time, FLAMBERGE goes flat out. Hoyt returns the Bible to Burro, as Elvis Nixon slowly rouses from whatever it was that he just went through. Nixon sees that Hoyt once again has the cover on FLAMBERGE.
FLAMBERGE shoulder shoots up with intense force, managing to shift the much larger Hoyt Williams off of him. Hoyt is a bit stunned by the show of power from FLAMBERGE but it’s clear the young talent is in possession of some inner strength. This time, when Hoyt returns his attention back to FLAMBERGE, he notices two things. First, FLAMBERGE is now standing on the mat, ready to fight. Second, there’s a lot more life to his eyes than there was a few seconds prior. Williams quickly surmises that neither of these indicators bode well for him. Now, standing before him, there’s a very angry young lad, who he just hit very hard in the head with a boot. FLAMBERGE wastes no time throwing brutal leg kick after leg kick, smashing into the upper thigh of Williams, producing a meaty thud that reverberates around the arena. FLAMBO then scoots in at the weakened legs of Hoyt, looking for a takedown, but the larger Hoyt manages to drop an elbow to the back of FLAMBERGE’s skull, stalling his momentum.
Nick Stuart: Well, it looks like FLAMBERGE has been… activated… is that what you would call it? Regardless, he might be ready to fight but it’s not going to be easy against Hoyt Williams.
Richard Parker: This is starting to get a little out of hand, I think cooler heads can prevail here.
Almost as if trying to spite the word of Parker himself, FLAMBERGE returns the elbow to the skull with a headbutt right to the groin. With Nixon out of position, it could be argued it was to the weakened thigh, but that interpretation would be generous. Hoyt takes a few steps away from FLAMBERGE, trying to shake off the very uncomfortable pain that he currently finds himself in. Through pure instinct, and probably a lot of bitterness towards FLAMBERGE after the headbutt, Hoyt is able to drill a boot to the skull of the approaching Neck Collector. FLAMBO tries again, and is met with a second boot to the noggin. On the third attempt, FLAMBERGE is met with a set of Mongolian Chops that Hoyt has labeled the “Rapture Chops”. It’s clear that each attack on Hoyt’s part is slowly the efforts of the younger FLAMBERGE. Hoyt side steps FLAMBERGE and throws him towards the ropes, and starts to ready himself. As FLAMBERGE flies back towards him, Hoyt almost decapitates the smaller FLAMBO with a lariat. FLAMBERGE does a full three sixty in the air, maybe even four fifty, could’ve been seven twenty for all I know, it happened real fast and there was A LOT of spin. FLAMBERGE crashes to the mat in a heap.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE keeps going at Hoyt in almost zombie like fashion with a variety of strikes but with Hoyt having a significant height and weight advantage, he’s managing to find a way to shoulder the blows. That lariat though, I’m surprised I didn’t see FLAMBERGE’s skull up there in the 12th row.
Richard Parker: WHY ARE YOU SPEAKING SUCH EVIL INTO THE UNIVERSE?
The crowd, who have been mostly booing for the majority of the contest, just one endless booing drone… that’s broken for a second into a bit of a hushed silence. An awe at the power of the lariat breaks the crowd’s intense dislike for both competitors. Hoyt wastes no time and hoists FLAMBERGE back up, placing him over his right shoulder. With FLAMBERGE draped over him, The Pontiff of PRIME slams his opponent with full force into the turnbuckle, turns around 180, rushes and slams FLAMBERGE flat in the centre of the mat. Hoyt has demonstrated Marshall Applewhite’s Swan Song, and he’s very delighted to have done so. Hoyt looks at Nixon, who gestures to the remains of FLAMBERGE on the mat. Hoyt kicks FLAMBERGE over and once again goes for a cover.
Hoyt certainly hears three, and rolls off of FLAMBERGE, hands raised high in victory.
Elvis Nixon looks at Hoyt and informs him “TWO!”
Richard Parker: That was three! MY PAIN IS OVER!
Nick Stuart: It wasn’t, FLAMBERGE raised his arm in the sky hundreths of a second before Elvis Nixon’s hand hit the mat for the three. He’s waved the pin off and made it clear that was not a match call.
Richard Parker: Gravity and the Good Lord let that hand hit the mat, that should be the final judgement!
Nick Stuart: Just because you want the match over doesn’t mean we should ignore the facts. That was a two. A two was a two was a two.
Hoyt starts to plead with Nixon to ring the bell, clearly not entirely sure what to make of FLAMBERGE and wanting the whole affair over with. His case pleading is cut short by the fact his opponent managed to get back up from the brutal lariat and slam, and he now drilled his shoe directly into Hoyt’s neck. Hoyt staggers due to the pressure of the kick and the surprising nature. As he wobbles, FLAMBERGE manages to drill a boot right into the gut of Hoyt. Hoyt tries to fight of the natural reaction of doubling over, fearing it’ll leave him exposed. He manages to have enough constitution to do so, righting himself up. That is, until gut kick two comes with a thwack that you swear will have left a lifetime impression on Hoyt’s stomach. This time, Hoyt does double over and this presents FLAMBERGE with the opening of a lifetime. FLAMBERGE hops and hooks, locking the larger Williams in a guillotine choke.
Nick Stuart: The Marie Antoinette! FLAMBERGE IS LOOKING TO COLLECT ANOTHER NECK.
Richard Parker: I hate to say this but tap Hoyt. SAVE YOURSELF! SAVE YOUR NECK FROM COLLECTION!
Hoyt’s entourage yell to Nixon that FLAMBERGE has an illegal choke in but Nixon waves off their concerns, insisting that there is absolutely nothing crooked about the hold. Hoyt surveys his options, trying to see where he is relative to the ropes as FLAMBERGE hangs around him like an unwanted backpack. Williams feels out the situation for a bit longer, trying to work out his escape path. He extends his arms out and tries to reach for any rope in his nearby vicinity but it’s an unsuccessful attempt. Although he has the larger frame, as the air drains from him, he staggers down to one knee. FLAMBERGE for his part does not let up with the hold, making it clear that he has the energy to do this all day. Clearly making a decision that is in the long term interest of his health and wellbeing, Hoyt Williams does the only reasonable thing for a man in his situation…
Nick Stuart: HOYT WILLIAMS TAPS! FLAMBERGE COLLECTS ANOTHER NECK!
Richard Parker: I’m just breathing a sign of relief that this one is over. Either man could have won the day…
Nick Stuart: It could have been, but it was FLAMBERGE and perhaps his new and very off putting demeanor that proved to be a puzzle that Hoyt Williams could not crack.
Richard Parker: Somehow this is Nova’s fault and he’s going to pay for this real soon.
Elvis Nixon calls for the bell.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner of the match, at a time of seventeen minutes and twenty two seconds, by way of submission… FLAMBERGE!
Richard Parker: I don’t know what’s in that kid, but it’s working.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE continues to impress, but you have to imagine that the frustration for Hoyt Williams is growing… a lot of close matches…
Richard Parker: If Nova hadn’t launched that boulder at Hoyt, we’d be in a very different place right now!
Elvis Nixon raises FLAMBERGE’s hand, but the young talent doesn’t seem to much acknowledge someone is currently holding one of his limbs up high. We stay with this picture for a few awkward seconds before we fade out.
COMMERCIAL: PWA 2: CONOR FUSE VS. CANCER JILES
MOSCOWVERSE NUMBER ONE! FRONTIERLAND PHOOEY!
Coming back from commercial, we find ourselves backstage in the presence of the Masters of the Moscowverse: Kenny Freeman, standing tall with a smile on his face after picking up the victory over Jack Owyns earlier tonight, and Randall Schwartz seated beside him, rocking a Burger Czar t-shirt and chowing down on on a Quarter Pooder with Cheese as Kenny raises a microphone to his face to speak.
Kenny Freeman: Good evening, PRIMErades!
This gets a reaction Kenny was NOT expecting, a wave of boos from the fans inside The Pit. In fact, the reaction nearly takes him aback…or so it seems, until a smirk flashes on his face before he presses on.
Kenny Freeman: What’s wrong, Albuquerque? Did I forget to make a left turn somewhere on the way here, and end up in Bizarrotown? I beat up a Villain tonight, does that not make me a hero in this neck of the woods?
The crowd has absolutely none of this, booing Freeman some more as he just shakes his head. Randall pays no mind to any of it himself, focused solely on taking another bite from his burger as Kenny continues once again.
Kenny Freeman: Or is this about what happened a couple weeks ago? Lemme level with ya, Albuquerque…I pledged my allegiance for one reason and one reason only.
Freeman raises his free hand up, resting it upon the free shoulder of Randall, who we see pulling free a chunk of ground beef as Kenny continues.
Kenny Freeman: My pal, my partner in crime if you will, Randall Schwartz. We’ve been through a lot together in the past year or so, been up and down the damn roads trying to ply our trade…and after a while, it gets exhausting. So, when Randall pointed out an opportunity for us to get back on track after a shaky couple of months, a realization hit me like a brick wall. If a guy like Flamingoburger can hop on board the glue train, and Mortimer Knuckleduster can get himself gassed up with the Gambling Anonymous Syndicate, then why can’t the Masters take up arms as soldiers of the Red Army!
This definitely doesn’t sit well with the crowd, the boos now getting louder…and this starts to get to Kenny, the frustration growing on his face as he continues speaking, this time with a more aggressive tone in his voice.
Kenny Freeman: Don’t give me that, Albuquerque! I’m trying my best, dammit! WE are trying our best! I mean, just look at Randall here…the man can’t even stand up! He may never walk again, all thanks to the bad business practices of this locker room!
Randall smacks his leg, ignoring the fact his leg moves ever so slightly as a reflex motion as he shouts about how he can’t feel a thing as Kenny chimes back in.
Kenny Freeman: And that, PRIMErades, brings me to the topic of the next PWA event in just a couple weeks. Down in ol’ Mexico, we get to face an up-and-coming pairing in the Kings of the Final Frontierland in an exhibition match, a showcase if you will.
Bit of a mixed reaction here for the mention of the MVW team, a sign that the Masters’ actions of late have started to really sour the fans on the pair. Kenny pays this no mind as he continues, shouting the names of his opponents.
Kenny Freeman: Boone! Crockett! I heard what you had to say on Lock and Loaded, because unlike SOME people around here I actually have my finger on the pulse of this business. Production truck, roll that beautiful bean footage!
We cut to footage from MVW Lock and Loaded courtesy of PWA-TV, in which the Kings of the Frontier pick up a win in their first televised MVW match over The Lumberjacks before being interviewed post-match, the Kings promising to give it their best shot against the Masters before we cut back to a visibly angry Kenny before he speaks once more.
Kenny Freeman: Let’s make something clear, fellas…this match might have been totally optional, but the beating you two are gonna get, and the inevitable defeat that comes with it? It sure as hell won’t be when we throw hands, and in the words of the great poet Tobias Keithshire…what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico! Tell ‘em what’s up, Randall!
Kenny drops the mic in Randall’s lap, unaware that the Entertainer’s burger was sitting there as the impact leaves some mustard stains on his Burger Czar shirt. Randall still has a bit of food in his mouth, but obliges with Kenny’s request as he wipes the mustard off the mic as best he can before speaking, his mouth still stuffed with bits of Quarter Pooder meat.
Randall Schwartz: Mahcowverth nahmbah wahn! Fwuntererlahn phooey!
Kenny nods in agreement with Randall’s remarks, taking the microphone and wiping away another splotch of mustard before wrapping things up.
Kenny Freeman: Now if you’ll excuse us, we need to attend to Red Army business!
With that, Kenny pushes Randall along to leave before we cut away!
GROUCHIE AND THE PRETTYBOY
Picture me strollin’.
…is a thing that Chandler Tsonda thinks, strutting one of The Pit’s finest hallways. After several weeks where his backstage spatial awareness could fairly be described as “Moses wandering in the desert,” this is a man walking with purpose, striding with confidence. Ok, sure, it’s just because he knows where, like, two things are backstage, but you gotta fake it until you make it.
Does he celebrate internally, throwing himself a mental parade for his unassailable navigation skills, when he arrives at his chosen destination? That’s a secret that goes to the grave (but yes). And the destination that he has so adeptly orienteered to find? That’s no secret; it’s written on the outside of the locker room door.
The Model Citizen sidles up to the door and raps three times on the door.
Chandler Tsonda: Open up, grouchie. I want a word.
After a few moments the door opens and Paxton Ray looms, sneering. The fans immediately react appropriately.
Paxton Ray: Grouchie, huh?
He considers the default threats and after a moment just raises his eyebrows.
Paxton Ray: Go ‘head, use your words while ya can.
Tsonda smiles and puts a lawyer-ly index finger in the air.
Chandler Tsonda: So glad we got to this so quickly. Gotta say, you’re performing WAY above grade level at opaque but menacing threats, I just love that for you.
The Model Citizen produces from the pocket of his athleisure joggers a scrap of paper.
Chandler Tsonda: I wrote this down because I didn’t wanna forget, so bear with me, sunshine. (reading off the paper) “By order of Lindsay Troy, any physicality between contestants in the Rev 29 Tropical Turmoil qualifier match between Chandler Tsonda, a shimmering world-class guy and a tribute to the sport, and Paxton Ray, an impolite violence goblin, will result in a forfeit of that match.”
He offers up the scrap of paper to Paxton.
Chandler Tsonda: I might have taken a few spots of artistic license in there, but the gist is that mom said no horseplay in the house.
Paxton looks at the piece of paper, then lets it drop to the ground.
Paxton Ray: Listen. I know people like t’talk. ‘Bout a whole lotta things. Some of ‘em are true. But I ain’t gonna beat the shit out ya before our match. I got plenty’a time to do it in the ring.
Chandler Tsonda: Too bad. I thought you might do me the ol’ sucker punch favor of ushering me to Tropical Turmoil via forfeit. Turns out you’re only two-thirds of mean, nasty, and dumb, and truly, congrats on that.
The Sultan of Style folds his arms across his chest, looking satisfied with himself (does he ever look any other way?).
Chandler Tsonda: But I did notice that since our last fireside chat at ReV 26, you seem to be missing a certain something. (doing a title belt motion around his waist) About yay big? Ring any bells?
Paxton Ray: Yeah, she sure did ring some bells, din’t she? I can’t say shit. I lost. I lost two in a row. An’ if ya ain’t lost a step from your glory days, that may end up bein’ three in a row. I ain’t afraid a’losin’.
Paxton stepped forward, making sure not to touch Chandler, lest he pull a fast one and pretend to be knocked over.
Paxton Ray: But if I’m in your shoes, I’m afraid of what an angry man on a two match losin’ streak is gonna do t’me to take out his frustration.
Chandler Tsonda: If you were in my shoes, you’d have an absolute gorgeous pair of Hermès slip-ons. But I take your point. You do seem to have a kind of “caged animal is at its most dangerous” energy.
Tsonda puts a finger to his chin, affecting the look of being deep in thought.
Chandler Tsonda: And if there’s one thing to respect about you – and jury’s in deliberations on that – you do have an innate sense for violent spectacle. In your own feral type of way.
Paxton’s sneer drops for just a moment. When you’re reviled by the entire roster, compliments — however soaked in venom — are not normal.
Paxton Ray: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks.
The sneer returns.
Paxton Ray: An’ it’s gonna be another spectacle tonight, pretty boy.
Chandler Tsonda: I actually agree with you there. Surprised we’re giving this away on free TV. When I put that third consecutive L on you, feel free to ask for our rematch be behind the ol’ $49.99 paywall of a PPV.
Tsonda looks down at his watch. It’d be very gauche to say what brand, and what pricepoint, this thing emanates.
Chandler Tsonda: Anyway, I suppose we’ve both got to mosey for, you know, sanctioned chaos and bloodlust. But I just wanted to come and say, from the bottom of my heart: bad luck, and bring a mouthguard.
Paxton smiles and rubs his beard, nodding.
Paxton Ray: Bad luck. Yeah, that’s definitely what ya got, bein’ lined up against me tonight. See ya in the ring, kid.
And with that Paxton steps back and slams the door in Chandler’s face. The Model Citizen looks taken aback for just a moment and then, taking it all in, he nods to himself and smiles.
Backstage, and Angelica Brooks is standing by with one of the competitors in tonight’s qualifying matches for Tropical Turmoil, The Anglo Luchador. The background is simple, just one of the outsides of the locker rooms. The luchador is in his gear for the night already. Angie stands by with the microphone.
Angelica Brooks: I’m here with one of the qualifier contenders for the titular scramble match at Tropical Turmoil, The Anglo Luchador. You’re going up against Jared Sykes in what many consider to be a dream match here in PRIME so far. What are your thoughts?
TAL: Well, Ange, I couldn’t ask for a better opponent. If you’re going to stake a claim for the Universal Championship, might as well go through the best to get there.
Angelica Brooks: Are you concerned at all about Arthur Pleasant making his presence felt?
The luchador’s shoulders slump, and he exhales deeply.
TAL: Look, I…
Voice offscreen: …choose your words carefully, Mask.
Into the frame walks Arthur Pleasant, followed by his mammoth Russian muscle, the Siberian Silencer, Yuri Reznikov.
TAL: What’s your problem, man? Are you really that down bad because I called you “Artie P?”
Pleasant cackle-laughs while Yuri stares at TAL with a spine-tingling emptiness.
Arthur Pleasant: Of course you’d think it was something as trivial as a greeting. No, there are reasons, and I’d be a dime-store villain if I told you what they were. Be that as it may, you’re in the mire now. You’re playing my fucking game, Mask. And oh what fun we’re having, right Yuri?
Yuri Reznikov: Da.
TAL: Look, man, I have a match tonight, can you not do the cheap rudo bullshit and just let me have this? Like, I deserve something…
Arthur Pleasant: HA! Mask says cheap rudo bullshit like I believe in that whole tough guy shtick as much as he believes in being the técnico of PRIME. Of coooooourse he would, the self-serving sanctimonious prick!
Pleasant again gives a cackle-laugh, piercing the hallways so mightily with its excruciating pitch.
Arthur Pleasant: Yuri, he doesn’t hear the whispers of people backstage who also share the same alignments as he does, including people who may be affiliated with people he might be wrestling tonight. How they scoff at him and…
TAL: I’m right here, dickhead. You can address…
Angelica Brooks: You know what, this is getting heated. I’m outta here.
As the senior reporter for PRIME makes a wise business decision, Arthur turns around from Yuri to face him again.
Arthur Pleasant: Right, Mask. Of course. You can see me now, but what about the things you can’t see?
The luchador’s startled face can be seen through his mask.
Arthur Pleasant: Just remember, Mask. You can’t see everything all the time. You can’t be everywhere you want to be all at once. Come, Yuri, before I have to hear this técnico shitbird plague the backstage area with his soft serve, good guy words.
Pleasant and Yuri walk off as the luchador snorts and appears to be on the precipice of shouting the loudest profanity in PRIME history before the truck wisely cuts elsewhere.
KOHIME MORI VS. ARTHUR PLEASANT
Nick Stuart: That was quite the…uh…interview between TAL and Angelica.
Richard Parker: I don’t know why you had to say it like that, Nick, I thought it was just fine and dandy.
Nick Stuart: It was, until Arthur Pleasant stuck his nose in it. He and TAL have been going back and forth for weeks now and I’ve got a feeling things are going to come to a head really soon.
Richard Parker: And if that goody-goody TAL isn’t careful, it might be his head on Arthur’s front lawn as a Halloween decoration.
Nick Stuart: Anyway, up next we’ve got the aforementioned Arthur Pleasant taking on Kohime Mori. Kohime has certainly made a splash since her PRIME debut, going three and one, and quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Richard Parker: I think the tutu might have something to dodo with it.
Nick Stuart: Her rival for the evening has had a bit of a rockier start, but don’t let that oh and two record fool you – Arthur Pleasant is no slouch. Mori is going to have to pay close attention to avoid getting taken advantage of with Pleasant’s street fighting style.
Richard Parker: No doubt about that one, Nick. She’ll want to be sure to stay well away from the ropes, too, as that’s where Arthur likes to get tricky. And here she comes…
The rocking vibe of Little V Mills cover of “Precious Heart” spreads throughout The Pit.
Vince Howard: Coming now, from all the way over the ocean in Osaka, Japan…
Kohime Mori enters, then stands still to survey the event center, gazing around the arena while standing in place. With a big smile on her face, Mori gives a double fist pump and an enthusiastic yell before making her way down the aisle. As she bounces her way to the ring, she leans left and right to slap hands with the fans.
Vince Howard: Standing 5 foot 9 inches tall and weighing in at 170 pounds…
Once ringside, Kohime quickly traverses the stairs and enters the ring in between the middle and top rope. She makes her way to the middle of the ring, then 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: Kohiiiiiiiiimeeeeeee Moriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
Richard Parker: Did I wake up in a goddamned anime?
Nick Stuart: Best double check your sleepy time meds, Richard. Here comes Arthur.
A blasphemous cover of “Immigrant Song” is piped in over The Pit’s speakers.
Vince Howard: And now entering the ring… hailing from Ut… uh.. Uth… er…. FROM ALASKA
The crowd is aurally assaulted by Voodoo Prophet’s rendition of Led Zepplin’s masterpiece as Pleasant makes his way to the ring.
Vince Howard: Standing six foot three inches tall and weighing in at 225 pounds…Arthuuuuuuuuur Pleeeeeeeeasaaaaaaaaaannnnnt!
Middle fingers fly to the audience as he approaches ringside amidst an onslaught of boos and jeers. He seems undeterred, even egged on by the negative audience reaction.
Nick Stuart: What a warm welcome for Arthur Pleasant. Jimmy Turnbull will be officiating this one, tonight folks, and it looks like the red rocket of the ring is headed into center stage to get us started. Jimmy’s in a bit of an odd spot now, hired by PRIME to handle tag-team officiating, but with the tag team division a bit defunct I think LT’s finding more work for him to do.
Richard Parker: Better than being fired, I guess.
Pleasant wastes no time sizing up his opponent and immediately lunges at Mori, throwing a flurry of muay thai punches and kicks. Mori deftly dodges and blocks, but the strikes have to hurt her limbs nonetheless. She searches for an opening.
Pleasant swings just a little bit wide with a right punch. Mori ducks under and behind him, sliding her left arm back up and around his neck.
Nick Stuart: What an escape after that bevy of blows – Kohime setting Pleasant up for what looks like a reverse DDT!
Richard Parker: Don’t think her hold’s gonna be tight enough to contain that weasel.
Nick Stuart: Looks like you’re right. Pleasant delivers a swift elbow to Kohime’s solar plexus, startling her just enough to loosen her grip. He’s free!
Pleasant ducks and twists out of the loosened hold, then turns and thrusts his forehead directly into Mori’s nose. As her hands reach instinctively to apply pressure to her nose, he quickly grabs her head with both hands and thrusts his thumbs into her eyes.
Richard Parker: Hey, Nick, you ever see the sci fi movie Event Horizon?
Nick Stuart: Don’t think so, Richard, why?
Richard Parker: No reason. I think I left my Orville Redenbacher under my chair…
Before Richard can get his popcorn, Kohime takes a risk and drops her body down into a koppo kick! Arthur is dazed from the strike to his head. Kohime takes a moment to recoup and backs up, resting her body against the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Oooh, boy, I don’t know how smart of a choice that is, Richard.
Richard Parker: Pretty sure we told her to stay away from the ropes. Why do the ladies never listen to me, Nick? Am I just not charming enough?
Nick Stuart: Who can say, Richard? Arthur seems to have come out of his daze and would you look at that, he’s just charging straight at Kohime.
Richard Parker: Seems a silly move, Nick. She’ll probably just pirouette to the side then swan dive off ringside.
Mori does step off the ropes and decide to meet Pleasant head on! She begins to extend her arm for a clothesline, but Arthur grins as she does. He ducks under her arm, wraps up her torso in his own arms, tosses her over his shoulder, spins, and drops her onto the ropes neck first for a stun gun!
Mori is gasping for air on the ground as it appears the hit may have affected her windpipe. Pleasant pulls her up to her knees and steadies her as she struggles to regain her breath.
Nick Stuart: Things are looking pretty grim for Mori here, Richard. I don’t think she’s getting out of this one.
Richard Parker: Can’t look, pain’s coming.
Arthur panders to the crowd’s jeers for a moment before nailing Kohime in the face with a buzzsaw kick.
Richard Parker: Oh the humanity!
Kohime falls backward and strikes the mat. Arthur wastes no time wrapping her up with a flourish, grabbing one leg, rolling over her torso, and pinning. Mori may well be passed out, and she makes no effort to get up.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: And Pleasant gets his first win in PRIME. Mori seemed a little off her game tonight, don’t you think, Richard?
Richard Parker: Yeah, I guess. Wanna go see Swan Lake?
Nick Stuart: No, no, there’s more wrestling coming.
Richard Parker: …Nutcracker suite?
Nick Stuart: Have some more popcorn, Richard.
COMMERCIAL: MILO FLYNN CUP
The shot opens on an empty street. Two young people sit on the curb, looking sad.
One of them looks up.
Sad Girl: Me?
“NO, BOTH OF YOU!”
The other one looks up as well.
Sad Boy: What?
“YOU LOOK LIKE SOMEONE JUST GOT RID OF YOUR FAVORITE KIND OF WRESTLING! WHY SO DOWN?”
Sad Girl: PRIME got rid of their tag team division.
Sad Boy: That’s our favorite kind of wrestling.
“THAT SUCKS! HERE, LET ME SEE IF I CAN BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY!”
CLANG CLANG CLANGITY CLANG
That’s the sound of a steel garbage can rolling down the street. It keeps rolling until it reaches our two sad friends, then stops on its own and tips itself upright.
How? Magic, probably.
“GO ON, OPEN IT!”
The Sad Girl carefully reaches for the lid and removes it. As soon as she does, she and the Sad Boy are blasted right in the face with lights and sound and special effects and all the crazy shit you’d expect out of a commercial this dumb.
“THAT’S RIGHT, KIDS! THE KICK-ASSEST TAG TEAM EVENT OF THE YEAR IS BACK AGAIN! GET YOUR BUTTS READY FOR THE MILO FLYNN CUP!”
The Sad Kids fall down, overwhelmed by the lunatic laser show. Now the ball of sensory overload aims itself at the nearby wall, where it turns into a series of video clips of the event from years past.
In rapid succession, we see the Dangerous Mix. The Evil Russians. The Crownless Kingdom. The Privateers. Masters of the Multiverse B-Team. The Spicy Bois. Route 666. No Quarter. The Coltons. The Soldiers of Fortune. And finally the New World Trash, holding aloft the Flynn Cup–a trophy whose topper is a garbage can, a fitting tribute to the Raging Hobo.
“SO WHAT IF THEY THREW US AWAY? BE THE GREATNESS FROM THE GUTTER, AND PUNK THEM LOVERS UP!”
The formerly Sad Girl and Boy smile distantly as they lay down on the sidewalk, twitching. We should probably call the medics.
“AND IF YOU’VE GOT A PARTNER AND A WHOLE LOTTA GUTS, YOU CAN SIGN UP! HELL, MAYBE YOU CAN EVEN WIN…”
THE 2023 MILO FLYNN CUP
Roy Wilkins Auditorium
St. Paul, MN
September 1-2, 2023
ON THE TOPIC OF HEAD PUDDING
We cut backstage to some amateur hour camerawork, shaky camera and all. It’s all to display the tacky, sparkling suit and radiant smile of one Joe Fontaine. The camera turns, and displays him sideways.
Joe Fontaine: Hello, PRIME! We’re back!
There is a pause, as Joe realizes his current situation.
Joe Fontaine: Sid, are you actually holding the camera sideways?
Sid Phillips: You’re the one who said that they used all of the good camerapeoples on other segments. I know how to do exactly one thing in this sport, camerawork ain’t it.
He adjusts. Now the camera is upside-down, so Joe Fontaine is just Spider-manning it up over here.
Joe Fontaine: It’s upside-down!
Sid Phillips: You’re upside-down.
Joe has to actually think about that one. Is he upside-down? Is everything upside-down? Is Sid’s camera the only thing that’s actually right side up? No, that’s dumb. Even Joe knows that’s dumb. Probably. Hopefully.
The camera turns until finally, mercifully, Joe Fontaine is framed normally. Well, okay, he’s a little bit out of focus. Sid’s working on it!
Joe Fontaine: Are we good?
Sid Phillips: We’re good.
They’re not good.
Sid is zooming in uncomfortably close to Joe’s left eye while trying to get the picture to focus. Honestly, why is he operating a camera?
Joe Fontaine: Cool, cool, cool.
Sid Phillips: Hang on. Just… okay. We’re really good now.
The camera zooms back out. Joe is off-center, but at least the picture is focused. That’s about the best we’re going to get out of Sid here.
Joe Fontaine: Anyway, hi. Hello. I am Joe Fontaine, one half of the Winds of Change! We’re here to talk to you about PWA-02!
Joe Fontaine: Your boys are competing for the PWA Tag Team Championships, and that means we’re crossing paths with Surf Express Bro – a sentient train riding on a surfboard – and the team of Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr. And, well… it’s a new year of the Winds of Change, which means a new us.
Sid Phillips: Still the same as always from me, though.
Joe Fontaine: Yes, yes, I know.
Sid Phillips: (whispering) Powerbombs.
Joe stands there with his hands on his hips, waiting for Sid to get it all out of his system. Being best friends and brothers-in-law with a man who only wants to do one thing and one thing only in the sport of professional wrestling can be a little difficult sometimes.
Joe Fontaine: And I mean, those are two great teams. One of them is a train and the other one holds titles in some other company. Forget the name. Probably not important.
Joe Fontaine: But they’re not us. No one is us.
He consciously steps to his side to put himself in the center of the frame. Aggravatingly, Sid adjusts the camera so that Joe is off-frame again.
Joe Fontaine: So, as far as I’m concerned, we’re going to powerbomb the train and then make the Starr fall from the sky, and… okay, I’ve got nothing clever to say about Dan Ryan. He’s got two first names, and nobody should ever take a guy named Dan seriously.
Sid Phillips: You know that’s my dad’s name, right?
Joe Fontaine: …Yes. Okay, fair, he’s an exception.
Sid Phillips: Technically speaking, he and I both have two first names, too.
Joe Fontaine: Okay, but you use the plural form of Phillip, so really you have an infinite number of first names when you think about it. That makes you more powerful than Dan Ryan. That’s science.
Sid Phillips: Your logic is sound.
No, it isn’t… and as if being summoned by the “Pedantry Fairy”, Cecilworth Farthington suddenly appears in shot. It’s very abrupt but that’s just because Sid was slightly off-centre for a bit there.
Cecilworth Farthington: It really depends on how many Philip you would need before you get a Ryan. I think I have a Philip/Ryan conversion table in here somewhere…
Cecilworth starts digging into his inside pocket that we last saw containing the PRIME Rule Book, but is stopped short by Joe’s interjection.
Joe Fontaine: Hang on, Cecilworth. I’d like to think that one Phillip is greater than one Ryan, since… well. Look at him. Sid here is a very large boy, made specifically of powerbombs. I think he actually breaks the conventions of the Phillip/Ryan conversion table, which is a known standard of the metric system. What you’re looking at is a living example of proof that science can be made one’s bitch.
Sid Phillips: …He’s out of line, but he’s right.
Cecilworth Farthington: It’s a good point Joe, particularly when it comes to Dan Ryan. Science says that surely he would’ve managed at least one measly win against me, and yet…
Cecilworth chuckles to himself muttering “ninety seven minute iron man match, my arse”.
Joe Fontaine: This is why we don’t really need to listen to science if we don’t want to. Math is already dead in PRIME, so let’s bring down science next.
Sid Phillips: I don’t know about this.
Joe Fontaine: No, it’s fine. Once science goes, the laws of causality will certainly go next.
Sid Phillips: What does that even mean?
Joe shrugs his shoulders, and misses quite a few syllables in saying “I don’t know”. Syllables are optional. Cecilworth for his part now feels like a stranger who walked in on a private conversation that he does not control, but it’s not as if he’s going to leave or anything.
Cecilworth Farthington: I totally get you young folks. Boo Science, am I right? Boo to Newton! Who’d he ever beat? Prick got taken down by an apple, he’d never manage a powerbomb.
Cecilworth stops himself from wandering too far down the pathway and manages to re-rail to his purpose in this conversation.
Cecilworth Farthington: Lads, I couldn’t help but notice that ole egotist that claimed to be your mentor is too tied up sating himself with some hippy bullshit. It occurred to me, being the kind and considerate man I am, that I wanted to share a bit of wisdom with you ahead of your PWA sporting contest. Now, I won’t be there myself, I’d rather staple my testicles to a lamppost while they remain in the sack but I do have knowledge to offer…
Joe Fontaine: You know, that sounds really difficult to do. And think about the poor lamppost!
Sid Phillips: Joe.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah, I know, I know. Wisdom, huh? Lay it on me, bro. Well, us. There’s two of us. One of them’s operating a camera.
Poorly. He’s found a way to zoom in dramatically on Cecilworth’s hairline (which is magnificent this evening).
Cecilworth Farthington: Well, bro, if that’s how you say it… I am an expert in the art of “Defeating Dan Ryan” and it occurs to me that should you also master this ancient practice, you could scoop up them PWA Tag Titles. First of all, his head is almost entirely made of pudding, so lots of kicks should go there. Secondly, I almost broke his arm several times, so I gotta imagine that’s a soft spot…
Cecilworth begins to ramble away at memories of Dan Ryan old, he doesn’t really seem to notice whether Joe or Sid are even paying attention.
You can see Sid’s hand enter the shot.
Sid Phillips: Wait. Hang on, Farthy. What’s a “kick?”
Joe Fontaine: …You know exactly what a kick is. It’s that thing you do with your leg that you think is meaningless fluff before you powerbomb someone.
Sid Phillips: Oh. Right. Why do we even have legs?
Joe turns back to Cecilworth, as Sid struggles with the camera now that he’s putting both hands back on it. It’s hard for him, you know. He’s lifting an object without any intent of powerbombing it, after all. We apologize for any motion sickness induced by his camerawork.
Joe Fontaine: Anyway, Farthy, that’s all great advice. Especially the pudding part, it’s probably all tapioca up there.
Cecilworth Farthington: It’s true, his brain could actually cater a child’s birthday party.
Joe Fontaine: I don’t know, I don’t like tapioca, so I just assume that’s for a birthday party for an unwanted child.
Cecilworth Farthington: Joe, it’s wrestling, most children are unwant…
Cecilworth trails off upon remembering his current audience.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, I know. You think someone like Rezin gets squirted out and is instantly loved by their folks? Come on. The guy is one green paint job away from being the real-life Grinch.
Sid Phillips: Never use those words together in that specific context again.
Cecilworth breathes a small sigh of internal belief that his thoughtless comment smoothly sailed high above the Winds.
Cecilworth Farthington: As much as I love to make “I beat Dan Ryan 100 times” jokes, and do not get me wrong, it’s my favourite thing, I have a few more ideas to share for the match. Yes Sid, it does involve powerbombs…
Cecilworth cuts off the hand he sees slowly rising from behind the camera.
Cecilworth Farthington: However, this is not for prying eyes or ears so Sid… if you wouldn’t mind…
Sid Phillips: Oh. Right. Uh… give me a second.
There’s a lot of fumbling around with the camera. Really, we’re sorry about all of that motion sickness you’re probably going through. Eventually, the shot cuts away to catch up with our very cool Russian contingent.
THE PRO-GULAG DEMOGRAPHIC
“You know, a popular misconception is that The Great Purge was a bad thing. I mean, every now and then one or two innocent people were sent to the Gulag, yes, but by now they’d have died by natural causes anyway. Who is missing them, right?!”
Alexei Ruslan rounds the corner of a hallway, with none other than Arthur Pleasant at his side. Ruslan must have come from catering, because he’s got a plate loaded with pasta, chicken parmesan, and breadsticks. He takes a bite out of a breadstick.
Pleasant, meanwhile, does not have a plate of food and instead has one massive turkey leg. Where he found a turkey leg in June, one has to wonder, but it is definitely a turkey leg. He takes a chomp out of it as Alexei continues.
Alexei Ruslan: And besides, those bridges weren’t going to build themselves!
Arthur Pleasant: (with turkey leg bits falling out of his mouth) Fascinating! You see, this is why I’ve always been pro-Gulag.
Alexei Ruslan: You know, this is such a unique opportunity that we have in front of us, which is why Praporschik Stanislav was looking for you. The Anglo Luchador? Jared Sykes? There’s some one-way trips to the Gulag just waiting to happen…
Ruslan stops at a door and finishes his breadstick, while precariously balancing the plate of food in his other hand.
Alexei Ruslan: Now then…
Ruslan grips the door handle and pushes it open. Inside the room is full of communism. Kenny Freeman, the wheelchair bound Randall Schwartz, and of course, Ivan Stanislav. The Russian Bear rises from an oversized seat and grins broadly.
Ivan Stanislav: Ah! Arthur Pleasant. Come inside, dear comrade… we have something important to discuss…
As Ruslan ushers Pleasant into the room he turns to the camera and, with his free hand, shoves it backward and slams the door….
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: PAXTON RAY VS. CHANDLER TSONDA
Nick Stuart: ReVival continues, ladies and gentlemen, as we enter the first of six qualifying matches for a coveted spot in the Turmoil Match scheduled to take place at our Tropical Turmoil Pay Per View event! In this round, Chandler Tsonda meets Paxton Ray!
Richard Parker: A certified Hall of Famer against the perennial Hall of SHAME-er. I’m not sure I like the idea of someone like Paxton being one step closer to the Universal Championship, Nick, but I have to say, it’s good to know that he’ll have to get through a PRIME legend like Tsonda to get there.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda has been looking for his first victory since his vaunted return to wrestling at Culture Shock, but with Ray likely angry after back to back losses, I don’t believe it will be an easy task for the Model Citizen!
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
The chunky guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView. He sneers as the fans boo, then slowly holds his hand up in the air. Stepping out after him and joining him on stage, proudly wearing his acclaimed safety helmet, Foster Nackey arrives to an equally hateful reaction from the crowd.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is a Tropical Turmoil Qualifying Round! Introducing the first competitor, accompanied to the ring by Foster Nackedy! He hails from Lafayette, Louisiana, and weighs in at two-hundred and forty-five pounds… HERE IS… PAAAXTOOON RRRAAAAAAYYY!!
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
With Foster in tow, Paxton slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd rains hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps over the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes.
Nick Stuart: The now former Intense Champion is here, but he did not come here tonight alone! I’m not sure I trust the presence of Foster Nackedy at ringside during this match.
Richard Parker: I’m sure he’s just there to deflect heat. Although honestly, I’m not sure who the crowd hates more.
Nick Stuart: Foster could be taking a more hands-on approach here, especially since “meal-ticket”, so to speak, has faltered in his past two outings. Still, even after those losses, I don’t think the Bayou Butcher will be any less threatening between those ropes.
“I said ‘kiss me, you’re beautiful’
“These are truly the last days’”
The weathered voice from the beginning of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “Dead Flag Blues” fades into the short acoustic section that begins Coheed & Cambria’s “Welcome Home.” After twelve seconds, the guitars thunder in and start to kick ass, as gold and green pyro goes off in perfect timing with the power riffs.
Vince Howard: And the opponent, hailing from San Diego, California by way of Hanoi, Vietnam, and weighing in at one-hundred and seventy-four pounds… CHANDLERRR TSSSOOOOOONDAAAAAA!!
As the PRIME*View displays the words “Model Citizen” in white over a black background, Tsonda swaggers out from behind the curtain. He soaks up the fan’s reaction at the top of the ramp, smirk painted across his face. And amidst the haze of pyro, smoke, and green & gold lights, he sprints to the ring, slides in under the bottom rope, and finally acknowledges his opponent. Tsonda bounces on his toes, mouthing something that’s inaudible to anyone but him.
Richard Parker: Love him or hate him, nobody can deny that the man has STYLE, Nick!
Nick Stuart: No argument here, partner. And it appears the fans are feeling plenty of the former here tonight. Tsonda, the veteran former Universal Champion, is looking to reclaim his place at the top of PRIME. A win here tonight would bring him one step closer.
Richard Parker: Coming back from retirement, hitting the ring, and earning his shot in his hometown! The story writes itself! We can only hope he’s shaken the rest of his ring rust and rekindled his legendary in-ring prowess!
Tsonda and Foster trade barbs in the ring before Timo excuses the latter to the outside. Paxton remains in his corner, rollings his neck and clenching his fists out in front of him. Finally, Bolamba gives the signal to begin the match.
Both men come out of their corners and meet up in the center of the ring. The snarling Ray immediately comes out swinging, catching the Tsuperstar off guard when he moves in to grapple. Paxton peppers him with hard rights and lefts to begin moving him back.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray is like a pitbull released from his chain here in the opening moments of this match!
Richard Parker: Right, and Foster’s the one holding the leash!
To the veteran’s credit, he throws a few punches of his own in response, but those that land have little effect on the Lafayette Bruiser. Paxton traps him in the corner, drawing sharp jeers from the crowd as he further lays into Tsonda’s money-maker with even more vicious strikes. Timo calls for the break, but it falls on deaf ears.
Nick Stuart: We’re all too familiar with seeing brutal assaults by the Bayou Butcher just like this, and now, the PRIME Hall of Famer Chandler Tsonda is getting his own introduction to the experience! The HARD way!
Richard Parker: C’mon, man, not the face! That’s Chandler’s bread and butter! Any man two years shy of fifty with a face like that doesn’t deserve this kind of beating!
Ray switches from targeting the face to the limbs, bending Chandler’s arm over the top rope while also kicking away the knee. Bolamba has finally seen enough, and physically puts himself between the two to finally break things up. Tension rises in the ring as he sternly warns the Bayou Butcher of the consequences of ignoring the official, but then Paxton sneers in his face and pushes past him.
Nick Stuart: The ref breaks it up, but Paxton is not happy! But he’d be wise not to test the patience of Timo Bolamba.
Richard Parker: Ehh Bolamba tests my patience every time he opens his mouth. Just shut up and call the match!
Tsonda is out of sorts as Ray moves in once more and takes him by the arm to bring him out of the corner with an Irish whip. Veteran reflexes kick in as the Model Citizen plants a foot, pivots, and reverses the whip. Paxton turns his body to allow his back to soak up the impact of the turnbuckles, but unfortunately leaves himself open to a follow-up running dropkick that pops him square in the face, eliciting a loud cheer from the fans!
Nick Stuart: CORNER DROPKICK off the reversal! Tsonda with a chance to turn it around now!
Chandler stays in motion as Ray stumbles out of the corner, shaking his head. Before he can fully recover, Tsonda snags his head from behind and introduces his face to the canvas with a facecrusher that earns another loud pop! Feeding off their energy, the PRIME Hall of Famer triumphantly punches the air before dropping down for the pin.
Nick Stuart: Chandler with the cover off the one-handed bulldog!
Tsonda nevertheless wears a confident smile as he takes Paxton by the head and pulls him back up. The smile quickly disappears, however, as soon as he hears the voice of Foster Nackedy heckling from the outside.
Foster Nackedy: Jesus, Chan, is that spot monkey shit all you ever do?!
Tsonda gives him the ol’ chin flick as he traps the former Intense Champion into a front facelock and throws the arm over.
Chandler Tsonda: Get fucked, Foster!
Nick Stuart: Things are getting testy out there! The hatred these two have for each other is hardly a secret to those initiated in PRIME’s long history!
Richard Parker: A tale as old as time. Tsonda and Nackedy. Parker and Jiles. Batman and Joker. Mail carriers and dogs. Pineapple and pizza. EA microtransactions and my bank account.
The Model Citizen snags Ray by the waistband and preps for the suplex, but suddenly lets go and recoils after a sharp jab lands against his ribs. Before he can react, Paxton rallies himself and uses his advantage in size and strength to lift him off his feet and put him on his back with a standing spinebuster. The Bayou Butcher punishes him further with a triplet of lightning-fast elbow drops, while Foster cackles at ringside.
Foster Nackedy: Hard to talk trash with an elbow in your mouth, eh Channy?
If the Tsuperstar could say anything back, he would, but finds himself in a bad situation as the Lafayette Bruiser snags an ankle, pulls the leg up to his full height, and slams the knee straight onto the canvas. Then, as the veteran howls in pain, he goes around to his other side and does the same thing to the other knee.
Nick Stuart: A devastating pair of knee crushers by Paxton Ray, and it looks as though he’s going right for the aging veteran’s knees!
Richard Parker: I hate to admit it more than I hate to watch it, but it’s a smart move. Those legs have a LOT of mileage in them.
Nick Stuart: Indeed. And I’m sure Foster made his sick, psychotic pet aware of that fact, as the Bayou Butcher exploits an obvious weakness in the Sultan of Style.
Tsonda is in agony, but the ever-merciless Paxton Ray is only getting warmed up, taking the Hall of Famer by the leg again and dragging him to a corner before rolling out of the ring. Ray takes Tsonda’s leg and whips it against the post.
Nick Stuart: Mother of Mercy! Paxton Ray is just SAVAGING the legs of Chandler Tsonda against the steel ring post!
Richard Parker: I mean, if there’s an upside to it, at least he’s switched over from the face to the joints! Better to go through life crippled than ugly, I always say.
Nick Stuart: Only YOU would feel that way, Parker.
Richard Parker: Of course! I mean, in your case, you’d obviously want to save your legs, cause with that mug of yours, you wouldn’t be losing much if somebody were to bust it up.
Nick Stuart: Hey now! You’re hardly an Adonis yourself!
An irate Timo Bolamba stays on task with an audible (and maybe even slightly accelerated) ten count, commanding Ray to bring it back into the ring between every number. Unsurprisingly, Paxton continues to ignore the official, but nevertheless rolls back into the ring as another idea comes to him. While Chandler clutches the leg in the interim, Foster leans in at ringside.
Foster Nackedy: How are those knees feeling, Channy? I’m younger than you and I retired! Maybe you should take a hint!
Nick Stuart: Easy for him to say, standing on the outside looking in! Back to the action, Ray is back between the ropes, and now he makes a quick cover!
And Tsonda slips out the back door! But I feel this punishment to the knees will only continue!
Back on his feet, the former Intense Champion props one of the Model Citizen’s legs over the bottom rope and begins relentlessly stomping away at the knee! Timo calls for a break and begins another count, but Paxton doesn’t show any immediate sign of relenting in his assault. He milks the four count for every second, then backs off before Bolamba can intervene again. However, when he goes in again for the leg, the other foot suddenly finds his head.
Nick Stuart: ENZUIGIRI BY THE TSUPERSTAR! Chandler might have an opportunity to act here!
Paxton reels off the kick to his head, but quickly shakes out the cobwebs and moves in again. Tsonda is in the process of using the ropes to pull himself up, but deftly manages to catch the approaching Ray with a mule kick to the midsection to double him over. Seeing his chance to make a move, Chandlers pulls himself up the rest of the way, takes a bounce for some speed, and flips over Paxton to roll him to the mat.
Nick Stuart: SUNSET FLIP!
THR–NO!! Almost had him!
Richard Parker: Damnit, Timo! Fight the jetlag and count faster!
Ray scissors his legs across Chandler’s pristine face to break the pin and rolls to his feet. Tsonda rolls up as well, but inexplicably runs himself into a rising clothesline delivered by the Lafayette Bruiser that flips him over onto his front.
Nick Stuart: Desperate clothesline from Paxton Ray, but he buys himself a moment, after it looked as though the Hall of Famer Tsonda was finding his groove!
Richard Parker: Well, at least he finally got Foster to shut up.
Nick Stuart: Nackedy is paying much more attention to this match after that rally by the former Universal Champion, but for now, his psychotic meal-ticket remains in control.
Chandler recovers and fights his way to his feet, but the former Intense Champion is already upon him before he can get there. Paxton slings an arm over his neck and tucks in the ankle before lifting the Tsuperstar off his feet and dropping him leg-first across his own knee. Tsonda’s face morphs in anguish, and immediately flips to shock and awe as Ray sweeps him to the mat with a back suplex that drops him on his head and neck.
Nick Stuart: KNEEBREAKER, transitioned right into a SAITO SUPLEX!
Richard Parker: Surprised he was capable of thinking of doing one move into another. My God, Nick, you don’t think Foster could actually be TEACHING that redneck a thing or two?
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure I like what that entails… Paxton, meanwhile, hooks the leg for a cover! Could that be it?
NO!! Tsonda is still in this!
The fans cheer as Chandler keeps his hopes for a victory alive, but the brooding Paxton Ray is angered by his persistence. He rolls Tsonda onto his back and works over his face again with more rights and lefts to keep him dazed and pulls him back to the mat by the arm. With the Model Citizen staggering beside him, he raises his leg for one final stomp, and bulls-eyes in on the embattled knee of the Viet Viper.
Nick Stuart: NO… DON’T!
Richard Parker: Look away, Nick! Just look away!
But suddenly, muscle memory kicks in. In a flash, the veteran Tsuperstar twists the former Intense Champion’s arm around into a hammerlock, transitions fluidly into a dragon sleeper, and drops him back-first across his knee.
Nick Stuart: SPINAL TAP off the reversal! Tsonda with another opportunity here!
Richard Parker: Let’s just hope those gams hold out!
Tsonda punches the impacted knee a few times, and battles his way back onto his feet, helped in part by the cheering PRIME faithful. Limping, he heads for the corner. Meanwhile, Ray clutches at the sting in his back, and slowly works his own way up. Once he gets there, he turns to find that the Tsuperstar has found his way onto the turnbuckles. Before he can react, Tsonda vaults over the Bayou Butcher and brings him down with him to the mat with the flipping neckbreaker!
Nick Stuart: RUNWAY VAULT! Ring rust? WHAT ring rust!? That was perfect form on the PRIME Hall of Famer!
Richard Parker: The man still has it! Credit where credit is due! But he’s still gotta seal the deal!
The Sultan of Style spares a moment to spin himself in a circle and pose for the fans, earning another rambunctious pop. Then, foregoing the pin, he goes to the corner and begins the climb up.
Nick Stuart: And seal the deal he shall, setting up for the MODEL CITIZEN moonsault!
Tsonda reaches the top and stands to his full height, posing proudly for the cheering PRIMEates. Then unexpectedly, a glimmer of light flashes across his face. Chandler winces as it hits his eye.
Chandler Tsonda: The FUCK?!
He looks down and pinpoints the source. Who else would it be but Foster Nackedy, reflecting light off of his disco concussion helmet so that it perfectly hits Chandler’s face? Foster innocently smirks, even as he stands at a completely obvious angle.
Chandler Tsonda: Fucking FOSTER! I’m gonna rip that thing off your head and shove it straight up your–
Too late. A recovered Paxton Ray pulls him off the top rope and back to the canvas. Like a cat, Tsonda’s legs reflexively snap under him to catch his fall, but he almost drops anyway as the drop causes the pain in his knees to flare up once again. While he stands momentarily staggered, the Bayou Butcher seizes the opportunity to push him off the ropes and launch him into the air.
Nick Stuart: LAFAYETTE LULLABY!
The European uppercut hits its mark perfectly. Tsonda flops onto his back and Ray falls across his chest. As Timo drops to make the count, he inexplicably misses Nackedly reaching in under the ropes and holding down the Tsuperstar’s leg.
DING DING DING
Trash flies through the air and finds its way in the ring as “Fistfight” hits the PA. Ray rises up to his knees, raging eyes still focused on Tsonda. Timo attempts to raise the arm, but Paxton rips it away with a snarl.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the match by pinfall… PAAAXTOOON RAAAAAAYYY!!
Nick Stuart: Foster and the Lafayette Bruiser steal this one away, and Paxton Ray has earned himself a spot in the Turmoil Match taking place in four weeks in San Diego!
Richard Parker: Ugh…
Nick Stuart: If Timo had only seen Foster, then maybe–hey, WAIT!!
Paxton has mounted Tsonda’s chest, and continues to pound away on him. The audience goes completely nuclear.
Nick Stuart: The bell is RUNG! The match is OVER! Somebody STOP that maniac!
Richard Parker: Put an electric collar on him already, Foster!
DING DING DING DING DING DING
Bolamba finally snaps and goes into motion, grabbing the Bayou Butcher by the shoulders and pulling him off the chest of the Hall of Famer. Ray is about to turn his fury against the official, until Foster suddenly slips in his way. Nackedly desperately talks down his client as he ushers him out of the ring before he can make the situation worse. They exit up the aisle to a downpour of trash and jeers, Paxton looking angry enough to punch out the entire world.
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray is more animal than human being! Even after the win, he couldn’t help but continue viciously mauling Tsonda!
Richard Parker: Foster may get the last laugh here tonight, Nick, but I don’t think Chandler is going to forget this anytime soon.
Timo checks on the recovering Tsuperstar (whose face thankfully doesn’t look TOO bad after such a beating). Though beaten and wounded, Chandler Tsonda never stops staring daggers after the departing Foster and Paxton.
COMMERCIAL: POWERBOMB COLOGNE
THIS IS WHY I USUALLY DO PRIMEPORIUM ADS
The vessel of Anna Daniels is sitting at her MEGABOOTH OF DOOM at the PRIMEporium. There are no customers because all of them are watching her on the PRIMEview. Or is it PRIME*view? We’ve seen it both ways looking back at the ancient history of PRIME. Why PRIMEview, anyway? We know it’s a nod to preview, but there’s no rolling Ace Network television guide on this thing. What the fuck.
Anyway, she yawns.
Anna Daniels: Forgive our yawning. We had our wedding anniversary a couple of days ago and we’re still recovering from the…festivities.
Which required a lot of the horizontal tango. And the vertical tango. And the sado-masochism tango. Oh, look. The Intense Champion has a belt that’s intense.
Anna Daniels: We have new merch to sell like the Rocky de Leon FDP mask and his new shirt and whatever the hell the Masters of the MultiMoscowMegaverse are doing. But Merch Czar’s taking a vacation this week and in her place is this little ramble. Very soon, we are going to have our first defense of this title against a French lizardman who likes to sniff glue made from the bones of his dead father figure and has a collection of necks. All of you are probably surprised about that.
You have to, of course, in order for any of this to make sense.
Anna Daniels: We know what you were expecting. You were expecting Paxton Ray to murder FLAMBERGE to retain the Intense Title at Tropical Turmoil. Because honestly, why wouldn’t he? Everybody’s heard about it. Paxton’s a wrecking ball! Paxton’s an asshole! Paxton thinks the world is flat! Blah blah blah. And honestly, dear PRIMEverse, we don’t blame you or Pax himself for thinking that way.
Like we didn’t notice how arrogant Bayou Boi was getting up until then. The shiny title belt shifts on our shoulder.
Anna Daniels: We should be offended that you had no faith in us. In fact, we should be pissed! But we expected this. It’s a talent of ours that when the people lose faith in us, we surprise them. You gasp, you sputter, inevitably you cheer as you sing DING DONG THE BUTCHER’S DEAD. Perhaps…there’s even people that are a little bit upset. The man himself. His former would-be opponent who is probably pouting somewhere, eating cheese and talking to no one. Maybe even some of you who hoped to make a decent amount of money betting on the match. Fuck knows the stakes would be high.
Somewhere back in Vegas or wherever his home planet is, Melvin is shaking his fist at this comment and cries into his complimentary PWA cum rag.
Anna Daniels: Instead, you got us. And you still doubt because of course you do. Every other time, we fell short of the goal, didn’t we? So what if this time was different? It’s just a fluke. It’s not like we’ve taken your beloved Universal Champion to his limits. We certainly didn’t tear Nate Colton a new one. And Heaven forbid the idea cross your mind that this should’ve been our belt the minute we beat the Anglo Luchador when he held the belt.
It’s true. Look it up.
Anna Daniels: We know what you say about us behind closed doors. “Oh, Anna’s such a good wrestler but her career has been so up and down. Oh, Anna’s good but not great. Oh, Anna can’t take the heat. Oh, oh, ooohhhhh!” We know what you say because we have heard for years. Every variation of it, every tone whether you try to be nice or are a complete tool, and quite honestly, we’re so fucking sick of it, man! Better people and better universes have said that shit more times than we can even bother to count, but the vast majority of those motherfuckers are dead. Buried. Forgotten by history. We are right here.
As you can tell because you’re watching us on the PRIME-star-view Guide channel. Coming up next, Some Goofy Bullshit starring J.C. Hall. Unless that’s been canceled too. Damn, the writer’s strike even affecting efeds now, h–oh, hai there, mister owl.
Anna Daniels: We don’t need your applause. We don’t need your cheers. We don’t need your stamp of approval or support. It’s appreciated, but not necessary. Because unlike Flambo, we don’t need a smug little shit or his imaginary friend to get the job done.
Quick, Prime. Say the line so we can shoot this owl.
Anna Daniels: Hooroo.
Cut to a screen promoting the McSkree and Me FDP mask/shirt combo pack that is (slightly) cheaper than getting them separately and the sound of a shotgun blasting a feathered creature.
THE THREAT IS REAL
The scene switches to inside the LOVE CONVOY locker room where Jonathan-Christopher Hall sits at the far end of the room. There’s a spot for Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy and Darin Zion but both of them aren’t there at this time – just their gear resides on the bench. Of course, flanked in the center of the room, pacing back and forth is Mrs. PRETTY PINK© herself, Vickie Hall. She’s in mid-sentence, running through the plan for next week when Hall takes on Ivan Stanislav for an opportunity to join the Turmoil match. Vickie holds up an Ivan mugshot, while Jonathan-Christopher scribbles notes down at a rapid pace. The Timid Tiger would write faster, if he could, but his anxiety has skyrocketed with news of this match in two weeks.
Vickie Hall: …You also need to know he’s old. Very old. He should break-down quickly if you use your nimble little feet – gosh golly your nimble little feet are so adorbs, Jonathan-Christopher. I will need them to carry us to a victory. Remember, you-
The Hall locker room door opens quickly and it looks like a head peers in… but then it vanishes and the door slams shut.
Vickie glances behind her, gives her shoulders a shrug and continues.
Vickie Hall: …As I was saying, a seven-foot, four-hundred-pound grandpa is going to break down. He is so ripe for the taking, my dearest Jonathan-Christo-
There it is again, louder than before. The locker room door opens, a head peaks through, and then it slams shut again.
This time, however, Jonathan-Christopher SAW whose head poked through. He saw it CLEARLY.
And he is shaking like a mother fucker!
Vickie Hall: What is it, my honey bunch of oats?
Vickie casually strolls up to Jonathan-Christopher but you can tell from her body language she’s not thrilled she has taken time out of her speech to attend to her man’s anxiety. The Woman of Wonder tilts her head and gazes into Jonathan-Christopher’s eyes.
Vickie Hall: Did you get a good look at who did this to us?
Jonathan-Christopher tries lifting his hand but he’s shaking so much. Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) for him, the door opens once more and this time Vickie sees it. Ivan Stanislav pokes his head through, only to pull it back.
Silence follows… and then random shuffling is heard on the other side of the door.
The door FLIES open and Ivan Stanislav is standing right there, covering the ENTIRE space!
Jonathan-Christopher has a stroke. He leaps up out of his seat and falls to the ground, curling himself into a ball beneath Vickie Hall’s feet.
Vickie, however, is none too pleased. She carefully kicks Jonathan-Christopher off her leg and has a no-fucks-given march towards the Russian Bear. Vickie cocks her head and stares directly at Stanislav.
Vickie Hall: Can I help YOU!?
Stanislav is wholly unimpressed, despite Vickie’s bravado.
Ivan Stanislav: No.
With a hand larger than her head, Stanislav engulfs Vickie’s shoulder, picks her up and places her to the side as easy as if she was a pawn on a chessboard. Behind Stanislav, loitering outside the room, stands Alexei Ruslan, Kenny Freeman, and the wheelchair-bound Randall Schwartz. It looks like the Red Army is on the move.
Stanislav otherwise ignores Vickie and glares nuclear missiles down at Jonathan-Christopher. Despite his upcoming “good news”, Ivan’s face exudes menace.
Ivan Stanislav: Congratulations, Ivan-Khristof. You have pleasure of being booked against me for Universal Title contender tournament. And if you even consider walking down that entry ramp, I will turn you into Jared Sykes: wholly useless to a woman. Do you understand me? So you can instead take ReVival 30 off and enjoy yourself with… this.
Ivan waves dismissively over at Vickie… who is about to blow a gasket at how she’s been disrespected.
Vickie Hall: UMMMM HELLO I am Jonathan-Christopher’s MANAGERRRRRRRR!!!… anything you have to say… you say to MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!
Vickie dusts herself off, going absolutely mental with anger. Meanwhile, it seriously looks like Jonathan-Christopher might have peed himself and is trying to cover it up.
Vickie Hall: My man is going to beat you at ReVival 30. End of story. Good day to you.
Vickie’s filter is completely turned off. She clearly doesn’t know what she’s getting herself into. Maybe Ivan doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into, as well? But he knows how to handle it. He wheels away from the simpering JCH and booms over Vickie.
Ivan Stanislav: Oh shut up you garish harpy!
He points an enormous finger down at the woman.
Ivan Stanislav: When your honey bunches of cowardice is done pissing his pants, you tell him that this is his stay of execution. And if either of you decide to show your faces at my match, I’ll destroy both of you. Then you won’t have to worry about plastering your face with all that makeup, сука, because I will have knocked it clean off your tiny shoulders!
Stanislav growls threateningly.
Ivan Stanislav: Why don’t you two lovebirds watch a monitor and see what happens to companions who try to grow brains, eh? I will be appearing soon enough. Da svidaniya, coward.
With a contemptuous glare down at JCH, as quickly as Stanislav has entered, he leaves. But not without slamming the door loudly behind him. The door crunches, and then embeds itself in the doorframe a moment later.
Vickie now brings her attention to a quivering Jonathan-Christopher. Her face is red and she is rather cross.
Vickie Hall: You’re supposed to step up and be the man, Jonathan-Christopher. I need you to defend me so the little girl inside of my soul doesn’t become damaged.
Vickie kneels down beside the still struggling JCH. Her eyes narrow and there’s a sense of spite in her voice as she glances back to the door, where Ivan Stanislav came from.
Vickie Hall: We’ll show him…
She cracks her knuckles as the scene fades out.
Vickie Hall: Won’t we, my dear?
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: THE ANGLO LUCHADOR VS. JARED SYKES
Nick Stuart: Up next, the second of our Tropical Turmoil Match Qualifiers. .
The lights dim and smoke starts to fill the staging area while “Oye Como Va” begins to play on the PA system. The Anglo Luchador, looking ragged from the ordeal he’s gone through on the show so far, steps through, shoulders slumped, head sunken. He gives a half-hearted raise of both arms to the crowd as he begins his trudge to the ring.
Nick Stuart: The year of 2023 has not been kind to The Anglo Luchador, but tonight, he has the opportunity to right the ship in a big way, launching himself into the Universal Championship picture.
Richard Parker: I’d say it’s a tough sell, but who knows. Perhaps the most dangerous luchador is one who has its back against the wall.
Vince Howard: This contest is set for one fall and has a thirty minute time limit…and it is for a spot! In the Tropical Turmoil Match! Introducing first, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, weighing in at 211 pounds. He is the first Intense Champion of the ReVival Era, the Anglo…. LUUUUUUUUUUCHADORRRRRRRRRRRR!!!
The luchador still takes time out to slap as many hands before getting to the ring as he can, even though he still looks like he’s had enough for the evening.
The luchador slowly climbs up onto the apron, acknowledges the cheers, and climbs through the ropes.
The lights fade to nothing, and then the first note hits. Deep. Resonant. With it comes a flood of white light that washes over the crowd. As that first note fades, so does the light.
I’ll never be ready to meet a memory
Vince Howard: His opponent, making his way to the ring…
A steady rhythm follows, building to something. With each note comes a pulse of white, like a heartbeat slightly out of time.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts…
The only thing louder than the thundering guitar coming through the speakers is the explosion of the crowd.
Vince Howard: Accompanied by Justine Calvin, and weighing in tonight at 201 pounds…
The guitar rips into frenetic tapping riff, and with it blue and purple lights begin pulsing over the crowd in time with the beat. Two figures appear at the entryway, and the cheering gets louder.
Vince Howard: JAREEEEEEEEEEEEEEED SYYYYYYYYKES!!!
When the dirt crushes my bones
And the worms call me their home
If I’m asked to start again
I can’t pretend I’m ready
I can’t pretend
I’ve had plenty
Nick Stuart: A massive opportunity for Jared Sykes here. A chance to continue his single ascent. We know all about his tag team bonafides, and we’ve seen him in wars. He’s been one of the toughest outs in all of PRIME. But tonight…he has an opportunity to get himself in the Universal Championship conversation.
Richard Parker: Not like there’s a big Russian Bear around the corner or anything.
Tonight the pair are moving with purpose to the ring. Eyes focused on the task at hand. Jared is the only one dressed to compete, but Justine’s hands are taped. Her hair is pulled back. She’s prepared for a fight, wherever it may come from.
Jared pulls off his sweatshirt and tosses it under the nearest buckle before sliding under the bottom rope. There’s no posturing, no playing to the crowd. He simply crouches in the corner and waits for the bell.
And with Elvis Nixon calling for the bell, the pair in this Tropical Turmoil Match Qualifier slowly make their way from their opposite corners. Both men are devoid of emotion. At this point, The Anglo Luchador slowly makes his way towards Sykes. Jared comes out of from his corner as well, the Son of the Shogun offering his hand out for a test of strength.
Nick Stuart: Anglo Luchador looking to engage in a technical contest–
Richard Parker: From a guy at home in barbwire and brutality, this might not be the smartest decision.
Sykes snaps a kick at TAL’s leg in response. The impact is enough to cause a visible wince from TAL. Another kick follows, but this time, Anglo Luchador responds with a heavy knife edge chop. Sykes backs off, Luchador pursuing, and quickly, Jared turns around, the pair locking up in a collar and elbow. Anglo quickly wrenches onto a wristlock, but Sykes fires off a forearm smash to break it up. Another knife edge chop is followed by a european uppercut, only for Anglo Luchador to grab hold of him and irish whipping Sykes across the ring.
Nick Stuart: Hard to keep track–
Richard Parker: Sykes dives between his legs!
Nick Stuart: Sykes quickly back to his feet but he’s on the receiving end of ANOTHER razor sharp knife edge chop.
Anglo Luchador isn’t doing this out of malice, just returning fire. The blows, however, seem to surprise Jared, who grabs at his chest, falling to a knee. TAL looks for a tie up, but Sykes launches with a forearm to his midsection. Backed up a few steps, TAL lays in another forearm smash, dazing the Knight-Errant. A quick tie up and pull from the canvas has Sykes back up, and with a irish whip, and on the carom, The Luchador grabs hold of a flying head scissors, turning it into a hurricanrana, sending Sykes across the ring. A scramble to the feet has Sykes running into a double dropkick from TAL, only to have history repeat itself with Jared getting to his feet perhaps a bit took quickly, getting caught with a drop toe hold.
Nick Stuart: It’s been a rough 2023 for The Anglo Luchador, but early on in this contest, we are seeing a different kind of edge than we have seen the last few weeks. A crispness.
Richard Parker: Way to take the crap out of him, Nick.
Nick Stuart: It’s not surprising, given what is on the line here. The winner moves on to the Tropical Turmoil Match, a shot at the Universal Championship and the main event of UltraViolence up for grabs. And in this era of PRIME, we have the two longest reigning champions…TAL with the Intense Championship, Jared with his vaunted Tag Title Championship run.
Richard Parker: And only one of these men didn’t lose their title. And one of these men actually managed to beat Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: Not for lack of trying. And not after a long run with the Intense Championship.
The action continues, Sykes caught in a chinlock, rising up and throwing a back elbow to stun the slightly larger Anglo Luchador. Another back elbow creates separation, and Jared uses the opportunity to hit the ropes, charging forward, only to get grabbed with another headscissors. This time, Sykes doesn’t go down, instead, working to try and powerbomb TAL to the canvas. To the shock of everyone, TAL not only survives, but manages to get a hurricanrana that sends Sykes over the rope head over heels.
Nick Stuart: OH! WOW!
Justine looks on in shock, but not as much shock as she is about to.
Nick Stuart: DO A BARREL ROLL!
The tornillo to the outside splatters against Jared, getting the fans in The Pit to go wild! Elvis Nixon begins his out of the ring count. At around the five mark, both wrestlers slowly pick themselves up off the padding on the outside, only to have TAL roll into the ring, causing the ring out count to stop. He exits the ring again, grabbing Sykes and rolling him back into the ring. With Jared prone in the ring, TAL sees the opening, climbing onto the ring apron and springboarding to the top rope, then launches himself on top of Sykes with a corkscrew body splash He hooks both legs for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Jared NARILY avoiding the upset here!
Justine starts smacking the ring apron, trying to impart some kind of rising alarm in Jared. He tries to stagger upward, TAL waiting, ready to launch at him with more lucha libre. Sykes gets to his feet, and as TAL launches with another dropkick, Sykes drops to the canvas in avoidance, quickly pouncing on TAL and his arm, spinning him around, lifting him up and slamming him into the canvas.
Arm trap saito suplex.
Jared pulls TAL from the canvas, trapping the arm again, chaining another arm trap saito suplex.
ONLY FOR HIM TO DO IT A THIRD TIME!
Nick Stuart: And that has changed the momentum of this match!
Richard Parker: An explosive volley!
Nick Stuart: Sykes is one of the toughest challenges in wrestling, but The Anglo Luchador was outpacing him. Is this his moment to shift everything back in his favor?
Jared looks to hit a cutter, a hallmark, but the instincts of the dazed Luchador kick in, getting a desperation arm drag. The impact causes Sykes to skip across the canvas, and as he rises, he charges forward, only to get caught with a flap jack into an enziguri!
Richard Parker: OH!
The amazing display is finished with another trapping of Jared’s legs for the cover.
Nick Stuart: The Anglo Luchador so close there!
Justine is much more intensive as she slaps the canvas, barking for Jared to get up. His bell rung, he is shocked to be quickly with a snug headlock takeover.
Nick Stuart: Justine is looking apoplectic right now.
Richard Parker: Well…she isn’t the biggest fan of The Anglo Luchador. We all know that.
Nick Stuart: But right now, she’s a mere bystander. Caught like everyone else. This…could be TAL’s night to get back on track and make a major MAJOR statement.
The Anglo Luchador utilizes his slight size advantage, working from the position, and hooking an elaborate style pin.
THRE–KICKOUT JUST IN TIME
Nick Stuart: The complexity, the tangle of bodies, that was almost enough by itself to steal this one!
The kickout has both men separated, and as TAL tries to get his hands on Sykes, it’s the Knight-Errant who surprises, grabbing hold with a violent and sharp Regal Cutter. He quickly jerks TAL from the canvas, only to have TAL blast him with a knife edge chop, staggering him backward. An irish whip follows. And after that? A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Another hook of the leg from The Anglo Luchador.
Nick Stuart: TAL leaving it all out there on the canvas tonight! What a fine display!
Richard Parker: The thing with all these pinning combinations is that it soaks your energy having to kick out. And with TAL having taken most of this match, he’s making the bet that those pins are working as offense as well. I know there isn’t a massive size discrepancy here, but there is enough of one that if you know how to use it to your advantage, you can do some real damage to someone’s stamina.
Nick Stuart: And you have to wonder…this isn’t the Jared Sykes we’ve grown accustomed to seeing. Is his mind elsewhere? Because if it is…he picked a heck of a dangerous opponent to do this against.
The Anglo Luchador looks to follow up, to press his advantage, grabbing onto Sykes for a dragon suplex. As he lifts, Jared hooks his legs around his, and rolls through, holding a pin of his own.
TAL is out in a hurry, but Sykes grabs him around the neck, snapping him violently with a NTD.
Nick Stuart: Oh that was vicious!
There is no pinfall attempt this time, instead, Sykes jerks TAL to his feet, executing a quick hitting Lightning Spiral.
Nick Stuart: Everything here is hitting with heavy volume!
Justine lets out a mighty roar. Jared grabs onto the stunned TAL, perhaps going for another NTD. The Anglo Luchador tries to hit an elbow to get out of it, but Sykes hits him with a clubbing blow over his exposed midsection, and with a yell, he lifts The Son of the Shogun up and spikes him head first into the canvas.
Nick Stuart: OMEGA! 13!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner…and advancing to the Tropical Turmoil Match…JAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARED! SYYYYYYYYYYYYKES!
Nick Stuart: What a display here! That three piece assault at the end helps Jared Sykes escape a very game Anglo Luchador!
Richard Parker: And his woes continue…and the Turmoil match gets its second participant.
THE LOGICAL EXTREME
Suddenly, the PRIMEview flickers to life showing the visage of one Arthur Pleasant.
Arthur Pleasant: Helloooooo there, MASK! What an incredible, but wholly unsurprising tough break there. But hey, scoop the sweat and softened ear wax out for a second, would you? I know that you’re probably exhausted, but I have just the thing that’ll put some pep into your step!
Nick Stuart: What the heck is he talking about?
Richard Parker: Hey, let’s hear him out, he’s been nothing but helpful towards the luchador even though he’s been met with nothing but rudeness in return.
The PRIMEview static cuts to a house, clearly older footage since the shot is during the day. The camera zooms into the door, where two adolescent-aged boys walk out of the house to wait at the curb.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh look, here are two people who might cheer you up! You see that? It’s Lorenzo and Vincenzo! Your children! How studious and prompt they are getting out for the schoolbus.
The PRIMEview static cuts to the picture window where a man with salt-and-pepper black hair sits on the couch with a blond woman.
Arthur Pleasant: I couldn’t really get the audio too good here, but I wonder what you and your wife are talking about here.
Nick Stuart: How did he get this footage?!
Richard Parker: You know I really can’t stand the luchador but even I think this is unsettling.
The luchador stands in stunned silence. At this point, even Sykes and Calvin look uneasy at what’s going on. The PRIMEview static cuts to another overhead view of the house, this time at night.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh, let’s get a live look, shall we? Maybe we can catch a shot of your lovely wife tucking your children into bed. Wouldn’t that just be lovely?!
It’s here that the luchador has had enough. He shoots out of the ring and books up the ramp.
Nick Stuart: What the hell, this is sickening, Richard.
Richard Parker: I, I’m at a loss for words here. Let’s go back to talking about Jared Sykes. I feel better slandering him, at least nothing bad is happening to him right now.
Nick Stuart: That’s… wait, what the hell is this?
But as one man leaves, so does another enter. Randall Schwartz appears at the entrance as if shot out of a cannon, gleefully wheeling down the ramp towards the ring and almost barreling Justine over. She manages to dive out of the way at the last moment, and Randall slams on the brakes before crashing into the side of the ring. Of course, he’s just the vanguard for the larger force, and we mean that quite literally.
Ivan Stanislav and the omnipresent Alexei Ruslan make their way down the ramp. The reception they’re given by the fans in attendance is less than kind.
Richard Parker: Call it a hunch, but I don’t think this is going to be a civil conversation like they had two weeks ago, Nick.
Nick Stuart: A man was threatened with murder, Richard. I wouldn’t really call that “civil.”
Richard Parker: Oh that’s nothing. You should see what happens at my family reunions.
Jared, now back to his feet, turns his attention to the force advancing on the ring. That’s when the next shot lands.
Nick Stuart: Kenny Freeman from behind!!
The sound of the chair is unmistakable. A blindside shot to the back of the head puts Sykes back on the canvas. Freeman takes a step back and takes in his surroundings. There’s hesitation in his eyes as he glances between the man in front of him and the titan taking his first step onto the ring apron. Ruslan cockily removes his hat on the outside and spies Justine Calvin. He waves his hat in her direction.
Alexei Ruslan: Hello dear Justine! So nice to see you again!!
Justine pulls herself up and rushes to the ring apron, but there’s hesitation there, too. In any other situation she would already be in the ring, trading blows with whoever dared try and take her future away. Hell, she charged the ring at Colossus and put herself in front of Paxton Ray knowing damn well what that could cost her.
But this is different. This is personal. The implied malice of her exchange with the Russians now manifests before her. She freezes, unsure of what to do next.
Nick Stuart: The Red Army on parade to the ring, while Kenny Freeman snuck in from behind. And with Arthur Pleasant getting involved earlier to keep the Anglo Luchador occupied…
Richard Parker: Say it, Nick. We’re all thinking it.
Nick Stuart: This was premeditated! They planned this!
Jared begins to stand again, but Ivan’s intent is absolute. A single order is given in the booming voice of a soldier, and no matter his feelings on the matter Kenny Freeman has no choice but to obey.
Ivan Stanislav: Again!
Another crack resonates throughout the arena and Jared collapses back to the ground. Freeman looks at the weapon in his hands, the chair now bent from the second impact. It wasn’t that long ago that the Masters and Eminence stood across the ring from each and wrestled for the tag team championships. It would be naive to say that things didn’t get out of hand that night for any number of reasons, but that was months ago. Professional wrestling has no statute of limitation on grudges, but is that what this is? Is this really the next stop on the voyage across the multiverse?
Freeman steps back and lets the chair fall from his fingers. And as Kenny can only stare at his hands and wonder, his partner has no such doubts. With his good arm, Randall Schwartz waves the flag of his adopted motherland.
Ivan steps over the top rope and stands over the fallen Sykes. Such a tiny man, a pest; not much bigger than a mouse or a rat but just as deserving of the same treatment. Extermination. But there will be nothing humane about what comes next. Stanislav bends down at the knees and waist and rests his hands on his knees. He buries Sykes under a cacophony of roars.
Ivan Stanislav: Pardon the interruption, you крысиный ублюдоk (rat bastard)! Was it worth mouthing off?! Was it worth the jokes and the jabs? You could not leave well enough alone, could you?!
A massive hand grabs Sykes by the neck and pulls him to his feet with the ease of a child handling a toy.
Nick Stuart: Iron Curtain!!
The short-arm clothesline powers through Sykes and sends him spinning in the air. He crumbles to the canvas in a heap as if this universe has a busted physics engine driving it.
With both Russians now in the ring, there is no one on the outside to prevent Justine Calvin from joining them. No one except herself. She stayed still as Kenny Freeman wielded his weapon against her partner, but seeing Ivan escalate this to another level she slides under the bottom rope. She has seen this movie before. She knows how it ends. Whether she can do anything to change it remains to be seen.
She is not aware that her presence has been noticed.
Nick Stuart: Calvin in the ring now!
Richard Parker: Oh, I don’t think I like where this could go, Nick. I don’t like it at all. I will give you fifty dollars if you can find a way to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Nick Stuart: I don’t like this either, Richard, but…
Richard Parker: FIFTY DOLLARS!
She stands against her better judgment. Balls her fists knowing what the outcome might be. She taped them for this reason. Left her ring in the locker room knowing damn well it could come to this.
Each breath comes faster than the last, nostrils flaring with each pull of air. At last she charges, bolting from the corner ready to strike.
Except she doesn’t.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit, Alexei!
Alexei Ruslan had never taken his eyes off of her. He watched as she tried to fight through the indecision, as every emotion was laid bare in the expression on her face. That’s when he went into action, sneaking into position and making use of a set of handcuffs to bind her left wrist to the ropes.
Justine’s body snaps back as she hits the limit of her range. The cuffs almost pull her off of her feet, and she has to quickly adjust to keep from falling on her ass. Her next move is just as fast. Now fully aware of her situation, she pivots in the direction of Alexei and uncorks a right hand. The roar of the crowd is deafening as the blow catches Ruslan flush, sending him tumbling between the ropes to the outside. He crashes into Randall Schwartz and knocks the wheelchair over.
Richard Parker: Why? Why would you do that? Don’t you know what that’s going to do?
Schwartz quickly stands, rights his wheelchair, and sits back down.
The Russian Bear glares across the ring to where Justine stands in the corner, and then looks down to the man at his feet. He looks back at Justine and grins broadly as he bellows in her direction.
Ivan Stanislav: Now? I take your boy and I BREAK him, Ms. Calvin. In front of you! In front of crowd. And in front of every idiot who ever DARED to consider getting in my way! Watch your fiancé’s destruction!
Nick Stuart: Red Scare!!
The ring buckles as Sykes is launched a solid ten feet through the air before crashing upside-down into the turnbuckles and slumping to the ground. Stanislav whirls around and looks to Justine, while pointing at the crumpled body of Jared Sykes.
Ivan Stanislav: So! Ms. Calvin. The one with witticisms to spare. The one who was too GOOD to show proper appreciation for my gift. You offended me without proper thanks, little girl! What do you say, eh? Are you sorry now?!
Justine Calvin: Sorry? Am I sorry? Fuck. Off.
Ivan Stanislav: So be it.
No sooner do the words leave her mouth does Ivan turn on his heel and march back across the ring. Sykes has only just rolled onto his side and begun to use the ropes to get his bearings when a massive hand grabs him by the face and pulls him away from the buckles. The massive Russian barks another order at Kenny Freeman who immediately springs into action and begins removing the turnbuckle pads from that same corner.
Across the ring, Justine’s eyes grow wide. She pulls against the cuffs desperate to free herself, but the steel is unforgiving.
There is no salvation for Jared Sykes as he is once again thrown through the air with ease. There is a gasp from the crowd as his body falls to the mat once again. The steel of the exposed buckles is just as cruel. Stanislav spreads his massive arms wide and stomps closer to Justine.
Ivan Stanislav: Does pride go before the betrothed, tiny girl?! Does the sweet princess choose herself over her darling groom?! Or are you ready to voice your regret? Is it that hard?
Justine Calvin: Y-you’re… you’re insane… you’re fucking insane.
Ivan Stanislav: If you say so…
There is no masking the rage of The Russian Bear as he pulls the Dragonslayer off the mat. Jared’s body is limp in his hands, but still he lifts the man with ease. A third Red Scare is out of the question, there’s no way he can control that much dead weight, so instead a running military press sends Sykes again into the exposed buckles.
Richard Parker: Oh my god!
Nick Stuart: We need to get somebody out here and we need it right now!
Richard Parker: Did… did you see how close he came to hitting that post? Couldn’t even get his hands up, Nick.
A few spots of blood now stain the mat near where Justine stands, the result of her trying to pull her hand free of the restraint that holds her at bay.
Ivan doesn’t bother with another conversation. Both Sykes and Calvin have insulted him in their own way, and now each will suffer for these offenses. Again he drags Sykes’ body out of a broken heap, and again there is no attempt by Jared to defend himself.
Justine Calvin: STOP!
Even without a microphone the word is loud enough to be heard in the stone dead silence of the arena. The crowd hushes as Stanislav, with his back to Justine, freezes.
Justine Calvin: Okay… okay… You win, just… just stop.
The monstrous Russian Bear, with gleaming eyes, turns to face her. He blinks his eyes and turns his huge head to the side, and points his ear toward her.
Ivan Stanislav: Say it again…
Justine Calvin: You win. (softly) You win. Y-you’re right… I’m sorry. We… we both are. Just stop, okay? Just stop.
Stanislav nods his head. Her words reach him, and he knows they were coming eventually. He actually frowns and nods his head to her and his eyes, for but a moment, show a certain degree of softness and humanity. But it’s too much. They’ve made their jokes. They’ve disrespected him. They’ve even belittled him and his people. They’ve poked the bear too many times and now, he’s out of his cave. The thoughtful look turns to a sick, twisted, and wholly uncaring grimace.
Ivan Stanislav: Too late, my dear.
Often forgotten is that in addition to their size and strength bears also possess incredible speed, capable of running as fast as a horse across uneven terrain. It’s that speed which catches everyone in the arena off-guard as Ivan, only seconds removed from getting his wish, bolts to where Jared lies still on the mat.
What happens next occurs too fast for most people to process, save for Nick and Richard who’re only able to get out of the way because of the distance between them and the ring.
Nick Stuart: He’s not…
Richard Parker: Nick…
Ivan again lifts Jared over his head, only now he gets a running start towards the ropes before heaving his smaller foe out of the ring with one massive hand.
Richard Parker: RUN!
The announce desk collapses under the impact.
Wide-eyed and despondent, Justine falls to her knees in the corner. Her free hand covers her mouth as her other arm dangles in the air. Thin rivulets of blood run freely down her arm from where the cuffs have bit into her flesh. Jared is gone, there’s no question of it. Tables like the one where Richard and Nick sit are built to collapse on sudden impact, which would help lessen the blow that Jared sustained, but that doesn’t negate the damage he took from those exposed buckles. Everything they had built together, everything they were going to build… It all lies in ruin.
But there’s no time to grieve, not with an angry mountain lumbering towards her. She sees him approaching in her peripheral vision. A blurred stormcloud of destruction. In seconds she’s hidden in the shadow of Ivan Stanislav. Instinct alone is why she manages to get back to her feet, though it’s that same instinct that causes her to brace against the corner. The Russian Bear stands resolute above her.
Ivan Stanislav: Do not cry for fools, Justine Calvin. Jared brought this upon himself. You cannot say I did not give him ample warning. And as for you…
He clenches a fist bigger than her head as his forearm bulges. Then, he reaches into his back pocket and, of all things, produces a red handkerchief.
Ivan Stanislav: Dry your tears.
He dabs her cheeks with the handkerchief, which causes her to recoil. With his other hand, he reaches for her bound arm as Justine clenches her eyes tight. It’ll be her turn next.
There is a loud snap and then the force that held her arm to the ropes is gone. She opens her eyes, slowly at first, and sees that she is no longer bound. The cuff is still attached to her wrist, the other end hangs loose from the rope, but the chain that connected them is now severed.
Nick Stuart: He just snapped the damn chain in half!
Below her are Ivan’s massive combat boots, the shadow still over her as The Russian Bear looms on high. Just a movement was all it would take to stomp this insect into the floor.
Ivan Stanislav: Do not say I have not been merciful, beautiful Justine.
With a motion akin to an afterthought, The Russian Bear drops the red handkerchief at her feet as the chorus of boos grows louder.
Nick Stuart: This is sick. An absolutely disgusting display from Ivan Stanislav, once again.
Richard Parker: Jared Sykes hasn’t moved at all, Nick. You want to check if he’s breathing? I would but you’re closer.
Before Nick can do that, or yell at Richard, or both, a wave of cheers ripples through the arena as PRIME medical personnel, led by Drs. Astrid Fihlguud and Graham Erly, hurry down the ramp and make their way over to the demolished announce booth and the broken body of the Knight-Errant of PRIME.
Nick Stuart: Finally, help has arrived.
Richard Parker: They didn’t come alone either, partner.
No they sure didn’t, because Lindsay Troy is powerwalking to the ring and she does not look happy.
The Queen shoots a menacing side-eye toward Alexei and Randall before entering the ring and storming over to where Ivan towers over Justine. Without a word, she grabs the back of his red suspenders and yanks him away from the corner as hard as she can. It doesn’t move Ivan much, but it moves him enough to put some much needed distance between him and Justine. An extra shove for good measure, and Troy is able to put herself between them.
As Stanislav turns and moves, it looks for a moment as if he might brain whoever put their hands on him and yet when he sees it’s Lindsay Troy, he raises both of his hands and grins down at her. He says something to her, in Russian, but it’s inaudible. A terse reply follows and, after a brief staredown, Ivan motions to the rest of his cronies and bellows.
Ivan Stanislav: Our fun, comrades, is done!
He gathers his troops and, without fanfare, leaves the emotional, physical, and structural wreckage behind him.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I’m sorry. We’re… we’re going to try and get the situation here under control. We’ve still got more action to come here tonight, but for now…
The last thing we see amidst the chaos is the stretch being wheeled to ringside. And then, finally, we fade.
HEY, LOOK WHO SHOWED UP IN PRIME THIS WEEK
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear, hang out backstage dressed in brand new Duck Commander Camo gear inspired by Ginny’s dead-eye shot that brought down a sponsor’s balloon a couple of months back, since Adam’s match with Hayes Hanlon was postponed to ReVival 30.
Ginny’s shirt sports a shotgun decal in the center with the words ‘Beware, Girl with Gun’ lettered in a circle around it while Adam sports a Duck Commander Realtree original hat… available for $25.99 on the Duck Commander website…
Ginny Van Lear: Gee Adam, that was shure nice of them folks to send us these clothes and stuff.
Adam Ellis: Yeah. I’m not much into hunting and stuff but-
Joe Bergman: Well well well… lookie here.
Brief crowd pop for the totally unexpected appearance of new MVW part-owner Joe Bergman to PRIME.
Adam Ellis: I thought you might be dropping by. Good to see you here man. How’re you doing?
Also joining Joe is his valet, Sunny O’Callahan, who’s resplendently dressed per usual with a black spaghetti strap top, a pair of faded and torn jeans, and heels. Sunny also drinks out of a bottle of Southern Comfort and sways back and forth as Joe speaks.
Joe Bergman: Not bad man, not bad. Just came here to talk about my final wrestling match against PRIME’s very own Sage Pontiff on June 11th.
This surprises Ginny.
Ginny Van Lear: Final match? Are yew retirang?
Joe Bergman: Yea, it’s time for me to hang up the boots. But first, I have one last piece of business to take care of. Sage, wherever you are tonight, I’m not just going to show up the PWA 2 show and cash a paycheck, play the hits, and then go home for good.
Joe shakes his head no. Sunny takes another drink from her bottle of Southern Comfort. Ginny just ‘looks’ at her, silently disapproving of her drinking in public and wary of Sunny for other reasons.
Joe Bergman: No way… that’s just not my style. I ended my HOW career with a simple roll up by Charles de Lacy. Charles, congratulations. You did really well at War Games and I wish you the best of luck going forward. Sage? Jit’s going to take more than a simple roll up to beat me. Just know this, this is my final match and I plan on going all out in a blaze of glory at the PWA 2 show on June 11th. I hope you’re ready because I know I am.
Joe then turns to Adam and Ginny.
Joe Bergman: Nice swag. Duck Commander, I presume?
COMMERCIAL: PWA 2: SAGE PONTIFF vs. JOE BERGMAN
AMENAZAS CON QUESO
If you’ve been backstage before, you know the driller. An interviewer, a wrestler, a microphone. The interviewer is Simon Tillier, looking as eager as ever. The wrestler is Nate Colton, looking…off, somehow. Not sure what the deal is there.
The microphone is a microphone. You know what that looks like.
Simon Tillier: Hello again, fans! Simon Tillier here with Nate Colton, the recently dethroned Five Star Champion. Nate, your recent loss has to be weighing on you. Do you regret offering the match to Coral Avalon?
Nate Colton: Absolutely not, Simon. Losing the match, losing the belt…yeah, it stings. But if I’m not willing to put the title on the line against the best, then I shouldn’t have it in the first place, y’know? Coral’s one of the best in the world; he earned that win and I hope he has a great run as Five Star Champion.
Simon Tillier: You have your own challenge on the horizon, as next week you take on Nova for the right to participate in the Tropical Turmoil match! Are you excited to have another possible shot at the Universal Title?
Nate Colton: Gettin’ ahead of yourself, Simon. I only get into Tropical Turmoil if I win at ReV30, and that’s a pretty damn big if. Nova’s a legend, and the dude has proven he’s still got what it takes. Rest assured I’ll be ready to take him on, but I ain’t takin’ anything for granted.
Simon Tillier: We expect nothing less. Finally, I–
He pauses, and a look of concern spreads across his face. Like a hundred alarms just started going off in his head…which…yeah, kinda.
Simon’s been through a lot in the last year and a half. Enough that he’s developed a kind of precognition for when things are about to go bad…especially when they involve a certain member of the PRIME roster.
Nate Colton: You okay, Simon?
Simon Tillier: Yeah…fine. I…I gotta go.
Simon turns to leave, because his Simon-Sense is running on all cylinders.
His sense of direction? Not so much.
Simon makes it maybe five steps before he runs into someone…who turns out to be the exact person he’s running from.
Simon Tillier: Yipe!
Simon runs the other way, nearly bowling Colton over as he does so.
“Damb… that kid can really scamper.”
The familiar raspy voice of Rezin heralds the Escape Artist before he slides into the shot and nods to Colton.
Rezin: Sup, Evansville. Sorry ’bout the Five Star, and all that.
Nate Colton: Thanks. Would have liked to hold it longer, but…well. Is what it is.
One of few in the federation who can relate to position, Rezin nods in agreement.
Rezin: Man, ain’t that the truth. In any case, I guess it’s onto “bigger and better things” shit. Kinda like this Turmoil business we’re all wrapped up in. Right…?
The words are purely conversational, but there’s a slight edge in the voice of the fellow former Five Star Title holder, being well aware that the two of them may once again be meeting in the PRIME ring with something even greater at stake. Rezin eventually shrugs.
Rezin: But we can cross that bridge if and when we get to it. Until then, we still got the business down in Mexico with you and the rest of the Colton clan.
Nate Colton: I guess we do. Can’t imagine what you were on when you put that team together.
The Goat Bastard questionably scratches at his shaggy skullet. He might be looking relatively “cleaner” as of late, but he’s no less hairier than he was before making the changes in hygienic habits.
Rezin: Yeah, neither can I, now that ya mention. But look here, man… even if this whole four-on-four thing at PWA-oh-dos only came together as a fluke, I don’t want ya thinkin’ I’m treatin’ that way. Naah, dawg… a match is still a match, and down there, when that bell rings, ya better believe I’m goin’ to the mattresses!
Rezin’s eyes may be bloodshot, but they are nevertheless lucid and filled with conviction.
Rezin: Even with your whole damb fambly there to back ya up, I’m gonna prove that even our hodgepodge mish-mash team consistin’ of a stoner, a streetwalker, a Soviet, and his lil flunky can bring it together and overcome the collective might of the Coltons!
Nate’s lips curl into a slight smirk. Usually he doesn’t get cocky when he’s got the night off…maybe tonight is special. Who knows.
Nate Colton: Oh, I believe you. I didn’t pick this fight, but I’m more than happy to have it. Getting to fight alongside my family, and knock around a bunch of people who don’t like us for whatever reason? Hell yeah, sign me up. We got no problem taking you all to the cleaners.
The Escape Artist’s eyes narrow into slits as he draws in and lets out a deep breath, exercising an unorthodox amount of restraint against his more aggressive impulses.
Nate Colton: But there’s two things I want to tell you right now. One…Peach ain’t a streetwalker. She was doing livestreams, and I think she’s even stopped doing that.
Rezin looks dumbfounded.
Nate Colton: You ain’t the only one. Benny wore a black armband for a week.
Rezin: Well, I’ll be dambed… I guess that’s fifty bucks I ain’t gettin’ back.
Nate Colton: Two? As wild as that fight is gonna be…I don’t think it’s going to cool off the beef you and I have. We’re gonna have to do this for real someday.
A grunt escapes the Goat Bastard.
Rezin: Yeah… someday. Until then, best of luck with Nova. Innerested to see how far ya can last against a real legend.
Nate Colton: Thanks. Good luck with Jiles, yourself. Interested to see how hard you can punch him in his smug prick face.
Rezin grunts again, smiles, and slowly backs out of the shot, leaving smoke and soot in his wake. A brief moment later, Simon’s head pokes in from the other side.
Simon Tillier: Is… is he gone?
Nate Colton: I think so.
ALIAS TITLE MATCH: C. MORTGOMERY BYRNES (c) VS. ROCKY DE LEON
The lights dim and “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Streetlight Manifesto begins blaring as green lasers flash around ‘The Pit’ in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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: Making his way to the ring, the challenger… weighing in at two-hundred and fifteen pounds… THE LION OF LAREDO… ROOOOOOOCKY DEEE LEEEEEOOOOOON!
Nick Stewart: Rocky looks like he’s ready to go for this one.
Richard Parker: I got one of these lasers in my eyes! ONE OF THESE LASERS ARE IN MY EYES ROCKY! I’M SUING!
Rocky comes out from the back in his full costume. He flaps his arms on the ramp and lets out a mighty SKREE~! The crowd SKREE~!’s back. Yeah, the exclamation point gets the apostrophe. Fuck off.
Nick Stewart: Wouldn’t you be suing PRIME?
Richard Parker: I hate you.
Nick Stewart: Isn’t that like suing Cecilworth Farthington via proxy?
Richard Parker: Nick, I swear to all that is holy, I will toss you over the barricade and let these New Mexican pukes feast on your liver.
Nick Stewart: They aren’t zombies…
Richard Parker: Could have fooled me…
Vince Howard: AAAAAAAAND HIS OPPONENT! The Alias Champion C. MORT-GOMERY BYRRRRRRRRRNEEEEEEESSSSS!
The lights stay dimmed, but the spotlights switch to a teal instead of a green. “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” by Dean Martin hits over the public address system and the crowd explodes with boos as C. Mortgomery Byrnes steps out onto the entrance ramp with the Alias Championship raised into the sky.
Richard Parker: Listen to that reaction! IT’S BEAUTIFUL!
Nick Stewart: I’m sure it’s music to your ears.
Richard Parker: THEY ARE SAYING BEAU!!!! FOR BEAUTIFUL!
- Mortgomery Byrnes walks to the ring, and slides in. He slips the title over to Vince Howard, Mort grabs Howard and gives him explicit instructions. Mort turns towards Jimmy Turnbull who checks him over.
Nick Stewart: And were off, Alias Championship! Semi-Main Event of ReVival 29!
Mort comes across the ring in a hurry and clatters into Rocky. Mort cocks back and throws a right hand, then a left hand, then a right hand. TFP reels backwards into the corner as Mort follows him in with a kick to the midsection, and a vicious shove into the turnbuckle. Mort backs up a few steps and runs in with a head full of steam.
Nick Stewart: Fast start by Mort— OH!
Richard Parker: STAY ON HIM!
Mort crashes into the turnbuckle as Rocky slips out of the way at the last second. Rocky jumps up with a leaping spinning heel kick and smashes him across the nose. The very Pterodactyl like man takes his turn from halfway across the ring and takes a page out of Jared Sykes’ playbook and leaps at him, ass first. He lets out a mighty SKREE~! and he crashes into him, and immediately rolls forward.
Nick Stewart: After that fast start Mort is in big trouble here!
Richard Parker: C’MON!
Mort stumbles forward out of the corner, his brain a myriad of cockroaches and cobwebs. Rocky throws a right hand, but Mort shrugs it off and throws a haymaker of his own. Rocky manages to dodge out of the way of most of the blast, but the big man’s glancing blow is still enough to push him backwards. Rocky comes back with another right hand, but Mort is able to get his arm up to block, and fires a thumb into Rocky’s eyes.
Richard Parker: Great move.
Nick Stewart: Illegal move.
Rocky stumbles around the ring, and Mort grabs the younger masked man and whips him across the ring and into the turnbuckle. Mort once again roars in, and this time connects with a big splash. He smashes a forearm into Rocky’s face, then another before setting him up on the second rope. C. Mortgomery Byrnes climbs up onto the second rope and tries to lift Rocky up for a middle rope superplex. Rocky fires off an elbow to the midsection, followed by another. Mort lets the grip go, and Rocky puts both of his legs into Mort’s chest and shoves him off. Mort stumbles backwards, and Rocky comes off the middle rope with a double ax handle smash. Mort hits the mat hard.
Nick Stewart: Big move there for Rocky!
Richard Parker: Someone call Gamble, get the boys out here. Hoyt damnit.
Rocky is right back to the ropes and jumps up onto the top rope.
Rocky De Leon: SKREEEEEEEEE~!
Rocky leaps off looking for the diving elbow drop. He hangs in the air, elbow is loaded and poised to strike. Mort gets his knees up just in time and Rocky crashes down on them in a heap. Mort rolls away holding his knees, while Rocky lays on the ground, kicking his leg off of the mat while he holds onto his ribs.
Richard Parker: That geriatric fan club of his probably lost half of it’s members.
Nick Stewart: That’s very insensitive Richard. My mother is a member.
Richard Parker: Oh, fucking great. Now we have a biased commentator. Someone get me Troy on the line.
Mort is the first to his feet. Rocky is slowly crawling across the ring, and has finally made it to the bottom rope. Mort thunders across the ring, and begins kicking at Rocky’s midsection. One kick to the ribs causes Rocky to shout in pain, he rolls over onto his stomach and Mort begins rapidly stomping on De Leon’s ribs. Mort reaches down and grabs Rocky by the mask, and yanks him up to his feet. Rocky throws a right hand, and Mort responds by jabbing Rocky in the eye again.
Nick Stewart: Turnbull has to see it.
Richard Parker: He does not, and he will not.
Mort grabs Rocky and whips him over his head with a snap suplex. Mort jumps right back up to his feet and drags Rocky up again, and this time he smashes him to the canvas with a scoop slam. Mort drops down and locks in a reverse chinlock on Rocky. Rocky struggles with the chin lock, as Morty cranks it on. The crowd begins to clap and stomp.
Richard Parker: SHUT UP YOU IDIOTS! MORTY IS AT WORK!
Nick Stewart: The crowd is really getting behind Rocky here.
Rocky struggles in the chin lock, he tries a hip escape, but Morty is able to stay on top of him. He contorts Rocky’s body, and drives his face into the canvas. The crowd falls silent, but only for a moment as Rocky manages to move back to a sitting position.
Richard Parker: MEH! SHUT UP!
Rocky slowly begins to make his way to his feet, and the fans keep cheering him on. Rocky finally makes his way to standing, and starts firing off elbows into Morty’s ribs. One, then another, then another. Morty’s grip starts to loosen and Rocky tries to take off towards the ropes, but Mort manages to stay with him and drives Rocky’s face back into the canvas with a bulldog.
Richard Parker: Morty’s been chasing jerk offs like that his entire life!
Nick Stewart: Yeah, he’s normally after their wallet.
Morty hooks a leg and Jimmy Turnbull slides in for the count.
Nick Stewart: Big kick out.
Richard Parker: Should have stayed down.
Rocky throws his shoulder into the air. Morty smiles and brings Rocky up to his feet. He whips him into the ropes, Rocky comes back off of the ropes and Morty tries for a powerslam, but Rocky manages to whip himself around Morty, and finish with a flying headscissors. Morty flies across the ring, and looks absolutely shocked, while Rocky stays down on the canvas. Morty slowly gets to his feet, but Rocky manages to meet him there. Morty cocks back with a right hand and lets it fly, but Rocky manages to duck under it and hit the ropes again.
Nick Stewart: Rocky is starting to get going again here.
Richard Parker: I hope he chokes on his second wind.
Rocky springboards off the ropes, and flies at Morty with a splash. He connects, and Morty is sent sprawling to the canvas. Rocky jumps to his feet, flexing, and screaming.
Nick Stewart: He’s feeling himself!
Richard Parker: I’m sure your mother is feeling him too.
Rocky waits for Mort to start to get to his feet, and runs to the ropes. He springboards off the ropes again, this time nailing him with a springboard hurricanrana.
Nick Stewart: Pterricanrana! PTERRICANRANA!
Rocky hits the mat, and reaches back, grabbing both of Morty’s legs. Morty is frantically trying to kick out, but Rocky leans forward as far as he can as Jimmy slides in to count the pinfall.
Richard Parker: YES! PRAISE HOYT!
Nick Stewart: He was so close! He just needs to keep it up!
Rocky looks at Mort and waits again. Rocky runs a little ways to the ropes and explodes. Middle rope, to the top rope, he springs as hard as he’s ever sprung and flings himself into the air. Rocky falls from so high, while Mort… Mort smiles. He steps back from the flying daredevil, and pounces as he falls. Realizing he’s coming up short, Rocky tries to get his feet under him, but can’t and Mort smashes him to the mat with the double arm DDT!
Richard Parker: GOODNIGHT! SEND THE NURSING HOME TO BED!
Nick Stewart: Oh my word.
The ring shakes as the two men collide to the canvas, Morty flips Rocky over onto his back and hooks the leg. Jimmy Turnbull slides in for the cover.
Rocky manages to kick out by throwing his shoulder up just after Turnbull’s hand hits the mat for the three count. Jimmy calls for the bell.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: YEEEEEEESSSSS!
C. Mortgomery Byrnes holds his head as Vince Howard steps through the ropes carrying the Alias Championship. He passes it over to Turnbull as he raises the microphone.
Vince Howard: Your winner by pinfall. C. MOOOOOOOOOOOORTGOOOOMERY BYYYYYYYYYRRRRRRRRNNNNNEEEEESSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
Avalon turns, more than a little annoyed. He doesn’t have much of a prematch ritual, but common courtesy says that you don’t bug the champion at the zero hour. This is the moment right before you dive out of the plane, the trip to the beaches of Normandy, this is the twilight moment of silence in between preparation and the pure chaos of the match. But his annoyance fades from that to a general disdain when he sees who called to him–dressed in a long silken kaftan, his lean body on display, and a crown of flowers in his hair. It could be none other than The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience, Sage Pontiff, eternally somewhere between Midsommar and Burning Man.
Coral Avalon: Really? You want to do this here? Now? Really?
Sage Pontiff: What better time than on the eve of such a momentous occasion? We’re going out there to evolve, man. You’re going to be a different being than you were when you walked in.
Coral Avalon has the look of a man who knows that the “different being” he’s going to be when he walks out of ReVival 29 might have a lot less blood than before. He’s accepted this. It’s all a part of his plan. What isn’t part of his plan is Sage talking to him right before the match.
He calms himself. He knows he has to.
Coral Avalon: Yeah, okay. It’s all a part of your transformative experience, right? Walk in as caterpillars, walk out as butterflies. Only… your idea of evolution here is that we’re going to beat each other unrecognizable in that ring tonight. Paint the canvas crimson. You claim that you’re not a man of desire, but… that’s what you want to do, right?
The Bodhisattva, to his credit, leans against a wall and considers this, his brow furrowing with inquisitive thought.
Sage Pontiff: That’s a good question, actually. I would say less ‘want to’ and more ‘compelled to’–you’re talking about mindless violence, right? Even in your choice of words, the focus is on the outcome. Faces lumpy and misshapen, leaking gouts of blood, molars loose. That’s like performing a life-saving surgery and talking about the condition of your scrubs, man. Surface. I want to achieve new heights in understanding. I want you to become more than you are and to earn what you desire through spiritual evolution. That’s what I want.
He looks to Coral, smiling his brilliant, million dollar, dream seller smile.
Sage Pontiff: It just so happens that engaging in sacred combat is the express train to that destination.
Coral Avalon: Uh-huh. You know, that’s a lot of fancy talk, and I get it because I accept that that’s how you are, but… I’m gonna be honest, that all just sounds like “yes” to me.
Coral shrugs his shoulders, never taking his eyes off of Sage for a second.
Coral Avalon: So, if you want – sorry, are compelled – to evolve us in this match, you should know that I’m very familiar with the need to evolve in the middle of a match. I was trained by the man that I’ve always called the Charles Darwin of pro wrestling, after all. I’m not even the same wrestler I was when I first rejoined PRIME as I am right this second.
At the very least, Coral now knows better than to accept matches that involve bicycles. After a moment’s pause, he speaks again right before Sage has a chance to respond.
Coral Avalon: Of course, I know you meant evolution in the spiritual sense and not in a wrestling knowledge sense. So, I welcome you to show me what that kind of spiritual evolution you’re offering, Sage. And I will be just as happy to show you how you’ve earned a Darwin Award tonight. It’ll be… enlightening.
Pontiff smiles genuinely and nods his head, seemingly in agreement? He’s not particularly easy to read on a good day, much less in the anticipatory heat of this moment. He taps to his ear, as the throbbing drumbeat of “Satori part II” begins to pulse through the arena. He leans closer, his eyes not once faltering from Coral’s, their gaze almost rippling the air between them.
Sage Pontiff: Hear that, majesty? The call to prayer, the bells of my church. We are going to achieve something you still stubbornly refuse to believe is even possible. But look at my eyes, Coral: you are forgiven for your lack of faith in yourself. I will show you what Coral Avalon will achieve. Ignore this…
He emphatically taps the belt, causing his opponent to instinctively recoil–he has no idea if Sage intends to sucker-punch him. Noticing this, Pontiff grins.
Sage Pontiff: …ignore this material possession. The crown doesn’t make the king. No matter how hard you believe it does.
With that, he walks backwards, arms stretched out, messianic-like. His gaze doesn’t leave Coral’s until he’s literally at the curtain to emerge to the entrance–then he turns, walking out to the crowd, and leaving the champion with his thoughts.
COMMERCIAL: TROPICAL TURMOIL
FIVE STAR TITLE MATCH: CORAL AVALON (c) VS. SAGE PONTIFF
Let’s get to it.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall and is for the PRIME FFFFFIIIIIIIIIIIIVE STAAAAAAAAAAR CHAMpionshiiiiiiiiip!!
Cue the cheering.
Vince Howard: Introducing first…
At first, darkness hits. Every light in The Pit fades, causing a buzz among the crowd and a few cellphone camera lights to twinkle into existence. The video screen shows a single glowing orb at the top of the screen. Lavender. Then another beneath it, blue. Teal. Green. Yellow. Orange. Finally, red–and then around it, the shimmering outline of a human body in lotus position. This hold on the screen as an almost marching drumbeat begins, pulsing throughout the arena.
Lights come up, pink in tone, all in time with a psychedelic drone of distorted guitar noise. As the solo of what could very well be an electric sitar begins, a figure walks out from the back. More accurately, he damn near glides. His neck is hanging with the weight of what seem to be many different strands of prayer beads. He is barefoot, his calf length, baggy pants a frankly offensive patchwork of tie dye, paisley, and other patterns. Hanging to the floor is a long, linen kimono in pure white.
Vince Howard: From the High Desert, Joshua Tree, California, he weighs in tonight at two-hundred and one pounds…
Sage Pontiff has arrived, and he throws his head back, practically bathing in the rain of flower petals.
There is no up or down
Your truth is the only master
Death is made by the living
Pain is only intense to you
He begins to slowly make his way down the ramp, occasionally twirling and oftentimes doing respectful bows to certain members of the audience, kissing his fingertips and then touching his forehead.
Vince Howard: He is the Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience…SAAAAGE PONTIIIIFF!!
Sage slides into the ring, kips to his feet fluidly, and then takes a running start and leaps flat footed, landing with a slight wobble on the top turnbuckle–but sticks the landing, and holds his arms out messianic-style, bathing in reactions. Mostly negative, though there are a smattering of true believers that are making themselves known over the jeers.
The Sun shines every day
The Sun shines every day
Sage executes a backflip from the top, landing on his feet, and bows to the crowd, and the toward Elvis Nixon before removing his kimono and beads. He begins to stretch, adopting the revolved crescent lunge, his fluidity and vascularity on full display as “Satori Part II” fades to nothing.
Nick Stuart: In his short time in PRIME Sage Pontiff has beaten hall of famers. He’s gone toe-to-toe with some of the most violent men this sport has to offer. The buzz around him continues to grow week after week. Could tonight be the night he tastes gold for the first time?
Richard Parker: Christ, I hope so. And maybe if we’re really lucky Avalon will learn something about himself along the way.
As Sage Pontiff awaits his opponent, he and the rest of the arena are bathed in darkness.
There is usually a pageantry associated with a Coral Avalon entrance. A little darkness. A little smoke. Here, there’s only darkness. The guitars of Monster Siren’s “Real Me” hit immediately, and Coral Avalon appears in a spotlight at the center of the stage. His entrance cloak is over his shoulders, but the 5-Star Championship belt gleams around his waist.
The Crownless King has arrived.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… now residing in Seattle, Washington! He weighs in at two hundred and fourteen pounds! HE IS THE CROWNLESS KING! HE IS THE FIVE-STAR CHAMPION! CORAAAALLLLLL AVALOOOOOOOONNNN!!!
There’s no battle standard tonight, either. Instead, the lights remain off and rows of smaller lights illuminate the walkway as Coral walks down the ramp, illuminating the champion in shadows. It’s only when he hops up on the apron that the house lights come up, then Coral enters the ring.
Nick Stuart: First title defense for Coral Avalon here in Albuquerque, Rich.
Richard Parker: And probably also the last.
Nick Stuart: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
Richard Parker: I’m thinking about getting to know about these transformative experiences, Nick. Like, for example, Sage Pontiff transforming this guy into a broken pile of bones and tears.
Avalon enters the ring, moving towards the hard cam and throwing up both fists with his pinkie and ring fingers out. He keeps casting the occasional glance behind him towards Pontiff, expecting an ambush that doesn’t come. Once he’s done with his gesture, he takes his cloak off and passes it to the outside. He pulls the title from his waist and after a moment of giving it a look and a nod, hands it off to referee Ashley Barlow.
Both men move towards the center of the ring, but while Avalon has a fighter’s stance Pontiff looks much more relaxed. There’s a grin creeping across his face. Whatever happens next, he’s going to enjoy it. And then, when they two get close, Sage leads with a sharp headbutt to the bridge of Avalon’s nose.
Nick Stuart: The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience looking to escalate things right away.
Richard Parker: I like that name. It’s like that one Steely Dan song I know. (singing) Bodhisattva, would you take me by the hand.
Nick Stuart: Oh no.
Avalon staggers, but comes right back with a European uppercut. Pontiff connects with a stiff forearm shot in return. Coral retaliates with another uppercut, but it’s caught and turned into an armdrag.
Richard Parker: (singing) Bodhisattva, would you take me by the hand.
Nick Stuart: Richard, I don’t think we have the rights to this one, and I’d rather we not get sued by Donald Fagen.
Richard Parker: (singing) Can you show me…
Nick Stuart: A second armdrag. Pontiff trying to exert his will in the early minutes of this match.
Richard Parker: (singing) The shine of your hot pants, the sparkly vagina…
Nick Stuart: Both men up to a vertical base, and… Wait, WHAT?!
Richard Parker: What?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think that’s the lyric, Richard. Shine of your JAPAN. Sparkle of your CHINA. Not… not what you said.
Pontiff throws himself off the ropes looking to build some momentum for his next move, but when he gets close enough Avalon gets a hold of him and executes a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker.
Richard Parker: Are you sure? Because what you said isn’t what I hear.
Nick Stuart: I’m positive.
Richard Parker: Huh. Well, that explains all the looks I get every time I sing it in public.
Avalon maintains his grip on Pontiff, lifts him back up off his knee, and brings him down with another backbreaker. Then, he moves for a cover.
Nick Stuart: I don’t think Avalon expected to win there, but it’s still a smart play to try and make Pontiff burn some energy in kicking out.
Richard Parker: K.
Nick Stuart: You don’t agre… Hold on, what are you doing?
Richard Parker: Oh, I was just looking up tour dates for Solid Gold Rock ‘N Roll. Because when they do rock-jazz fusion stuff it’s actually pretty badass.
Pontiff spins and connects with the Namaste thrusting mule kick to Avalon. It knocks the Five Star champion back out through the ropes and to the arena floor. While the Crownless King starts to recover, Pontiff is already stepping through the ropes to the outside. He runs along the ring apron before leaping onto Avalon’s shoulders, twisting, and bringing Coral to the ground with a hurricanrana. He follows it with a series of mounted punches.
Nick Stuart: The referee’s got to get both of these men back in the ring before this breaks down, and keeping Avalon on the outside actually works to his advantage because titles can’t change hands on countouts.
Richard Parker: I mean that’s wrestling 101, though. I assume everyone here knows that.
Nick Stuart: Ashley Barlow beginning her count.
Richard Parker: Maybe Terry Woods didn’t know that, but he’s gone to a better place.
As Barlow’s count creeps north of six, Pontiff pulls himself off of Avalon and rolls him back into the ring. As Coral starts to stir, Pontiff rebounds off the ropes and charges.
Nick Stuart: Cosmic Resonator!!
Richard Parker: Such a cool name.
Nick Stuart: Does Steely Dan have a song about that, too?
Richard Parker: What makes you think I like Steely Dan?
Nick Stuart: Because this is the second time you’ve brought them up during a Pontiff match.
The slingblade catches Coral flush around the neck and drives him to the mat. Pontiff doesn’t waste any time. He moves Avalon to a seated position and delivers a hard kick to the middle of the back, and then a second, almost daring him to get back to his feet.
Richard Parker: Oh hell no. I hate that band. Bunch of pretentious jerks fully up their own butts. I just remembered that one song, because of the words.
Nick Stuart: Oh.
Richard Parker: About sparkly crotches.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit, Richard.
When Avalon does stand, he’s first met with a straight headbutt, and then another kick drives the air from his lungs.
Nick Stuart: Pontiff with a hard kick to the midsection. He’s got Avalon in position! Could this be the end already?!
Richard Parker: Coral Avalon’s about to be sent to a higher plane. If he’s lucky, one where Steely Dan doesn’t exist.
Pontiff sets the Five Star champion in position, and then gets ready to end it. He leaps, beginning the front flip of the Shamanic Dreamweaver, but just as he’s about to reach the apex of his jump a pair of arms lock around Sage Pontiff’s legs. Coral Avalon immediately drops to his knees, bringing the ground up fast. This was supposed to be the move that ended the match and brought enlightenment to the Five Star division, but instead it’s been countered in brutal fashion.
A back-to-belly piledriver rocks Sage Pontiff, and bounces off the mat like a man diving in head-first to the shallow end of the pool.
Nick Stuart: Good god!!
Richard Parker: Oh damn.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff was trying to put Coral Avalon away with the Shamanic Dreamweaver, but Avalon countered into a piledriver variant of his own.
Richard Parker: I mean, let’s be fair here, the way that went down it was almost like Pontiff tried to piledrive himself. With help. If you’re watching this at home, please do not try to piledrive yourself…
Nick Stuart: What? If you’re watching this at home, don’t piledrive anyone!
Richard Parker: Right. Don’t piledrive yourself, or anybody else, unless they really deserve it. Like let’s say you bet someone fifty dollars…
Nick Stuart: Richard!!
Avalon slides over and makes the cover.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff kicked out! I don’t know how, but he just barely got that shoulder up in time.
Avalon steps out onto the ring apron, and using the ropes for leverage he ascends to the top buckle in a single step. The Crownless King wastes no time and immediately takes flight before Pontiff has time to recover and crushes him underneath a high angle frog splash. The impact knocks the wind out of both men, and for a time each is down on the canvas trying to recover.
Pontiff rolls onto his stomach and starts sliding towards the ropes, but Avalon recovers quick enough that he’s on him in a flash, trapping one leg and then applying the crossface to lock Sage in the STF.
Nick Stuart: Fans, Sage Pontiff is smiling. Coral Avalon has that STF locked in tight, but you can see it clear as day from the way the arms are positioned that Sage Pontiff seems to be enjoying every minute of this.
Richard Parker: You know what this reminds me of?
Nick Stuart: (sighing) No.
Richard Parker: You ever see that movie Hellraiser?
Nick Stuart: Okay, this is FOR SURE a conversation we are not having.
Pontiff begins using his arms and his free leg to try and drag both himself and the added weight of Avalon towards the ropes in an attempt to break the hold.
Richard Parker: No no, hear me out. So there’s the one guy who thinks, “Hey, lemme just buy this puzzle real quick,” only despite having a thing for violence he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into…
Nick Stuart: (deadpan) Uh huh.
Richard Parker: And then he solves it, and some devils show up in bondage gear, and they’re all, “Sup, dude. You just made a big oopsie-woopsie, and now it’s time to take a ride on the pain train. Uwu.”
When that doesn’t work as well as he’d hoped, he uses his hands to pull Avalon’s arm down a bit closer to his mouth. Pontiff’s teeth sink into the flesh around Avalon’s thumb, which earns him an admonishment from the referee but does ultimately break the hold.
Nick Stuart: Did you just say “uwu”?
Richard Parker: Anyway, the point is that it’s hard to beat a guy who seems to get some sort of high out of fighting. Have I made this comparison before? It feels like the sort of thing I’d say.
Avalon takes a moment to nurse his throbbing hand before turning his attention back to Pontiff, just in time for an awkward koppo-style kick to send Avalon stumbling back into the ropes. He needs to brace to prevent himself from falling between them, but as he works to regain his balance Pontiff is already bolting across the ring. He takes to the air, and a high body avalanche drives both himself and Avalon over the top rope and to the arena floor.
Nick Stuart: Both men down on the outside, and I don’t know which one got the worst of that!
Richard Parker: So yeah, that’s my Hellraiser argument. You wanna hear my theory on how the Colton family might secretly be gremlins? You know, like from the movie Gremlins?
Nick Stuart: Maybe we save that one for Tropical Turmoil, Richard.
Richard Parker: Oh, good call. Make the people want it.
Pontiff pulls Avalon over to the scene of a crime committed earlier in the evening: the ruins of Nick and Richard’s broadcast desk. Needless to say, the two men abandon their seats and move as far away as possible while still being able to do their jobs. Which is pretty far. Wireless technology is a trip.
Pontiff traps Coral in a front facelock, and while the microphones don’t pick up the words that he whispers to the Crownless King, the cameras definitely register the smile Sage has while he says them. A snap DDT spikes Avalon on to the remnants of the announce table, and then Sage sees something that makes his smile grow wider.
Nick Stuart: Pontiff looking for something here, Richard. It looks like… oh no.
Richard Parker: Is that one of our monitors? Hey, put that back! I need it for work.
The Bodhisattva of Transformative Experience glances at Richard and cocks an eyebrow.
Richard Parker: Or don’t. That’s cool, too. Namaste, my dude. You do you.
Sage first delivers a swift stomp to Avalon, then sets the monitor on his abdomen.
Nick Stuart: Nice Save, Richard.
Richard Parker: Thanks, I think it worked out okay for me.
Pontiff then collects a folding chair from the timekeeper’s area and pulls himself up onto the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Fans, I don’t like to think about what must be running through Sage Pontiff’s head right now.
Richard Parker: Probably going to be real bad for Coral here.
The camera catches Richard pointing at the man laying only a few feet away from him.
Richard Parker: Somebody should probably move him. I’d do it, but… you know… he looks all sweaty and gross.
Ashley Barlow leans over the ropes to try and get some semblance of order restored, but Pontiff doesn’t seem to care. He collapses the chair, gets a running start along the edge of the ring, and then leaps. While in the air he puts the chair beneath his feet and then uses it to stomp the monitor into Avalon. There’s a collective groan from the crowd upon impact, but the landing isn’t clean. Sage stumbles on the landing, tripping forward and colliding torso-first into the nearby guardrail.
Nick Stuart: Good lord! Sage Pontiff using everything he can get his hands on tonight to try and end the reign of Coral Avalon!
Richard Parker: Yes. His title reign. That’s what he was trying to end. That and nothing else.
Nick Stuart: But now both men are down. Referee Barlow coming out to see if they can continue.
Richard Parker: Serious question, do we have a volume discount at the hospital here?
As the referee checks on both men, the scene for the fans at home switches to a picture-in-picture display. In the bottom corner we get the events happening in real time, as Sage uses the same guardrail he just crashed into to pull himself back up. In the big image, we get a slow-motion replay of the car crash that just happened outside the ring.
Nick Stuart: And now Pontiff is getting back to his feet. I don’t know he’s doing it, but I’ll be damned if he’s not still ready to go.
Indeed, Sage is standing, albeit a bit wobbly. He puts a hand to his mouth and draws it back bloody. Seeing this only seems to make him happier. He moves over to Coral, himself scratched and bloodied from the impact. Two of the corners from the monitor appear to have dug into the skin, leaving trenches in his flesh a few inches long.
Richard Parker: Well if Pontiff wants that title, he’s going to have to get Avalon back into the ring. And even if he doesn’t want the title, I would still very much appreciate it if he’d come and pick up his mess.
Sage drags Avalon up across his shoulders and rolls him in under the bottom rope before sliding in himself and attempting to make the cover.
There’s an eruption of cheering as the crowd realizes that Ashley Barlow is holding up only two fingers. Why?
Nick Stuart: Foot on the ropes! I don’t know how, but Coral Avalon managed to get his foot on the bottom rope.
Richard Parker: Which is crazy, because Sage totally smished him under that chair!
Nick Stuart: He what?
Richard Parker: Smished him. It’s like… Okay, you know how when a car hits something really fast and the front-end gets all smashed-up?
Nick Stuart: Yes.
Pontiff seems surprised, but somehow not disappointed as Barlow explains the situation to him. He paces a slow circle, working out his next play. Meanwhile, Avalon has made it over to the corner and has managed to use the ropes to pull himself up while he catches his breath.
Richard Parker: And then how you can step on a grape and it goes squish? And then you have to put on new socks?
Nick Stuart: Okay, sure, I’ll play along.
Richard Parker: Yeah, so when you combine the two… Smish.
Nick Stuart: You know, squishing something also kind of implies it was smashed, right?
Richard Parker: LET ME HAVE THIS, NICHOLAS, IT’S BEEN A LONG NIGHT!
With a plan now formulated, Pontiff stalks over towards Avalon, but is met with a running kick flush to the jaw.
Nick Stuart: Rhongomyniad! OUT – OF – NOWHERE!
The blow sends Pontiff tumbling over and onto his chest, but Avalon is unable to capitalize. He’s also down on the canvas again, but trying to stand once again.
Nick Stuart: You have to believe that he’s still feeling the effects of that stomp.
Richard Parker: Gee, ya think? I’m pretty sure it ruptured my colon and all I did was watch.
Avalon stands and pulls Pontiff up with him. He positions Sage’s head, and starts the process of trying to butterfly both arms for the Excalibur, but the delay following the first Armament means that Pontiff has some of his wits about him. He manages to break free, and then drills Avalon in the midsection with a kick. Coral doubles over, allowing Pontiff the chance to try and end this his way.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff looking for that Shamanic Dreamweaver again. It went south the first time he attempted it tonight, but you have to figure that if he hits it now that this one is over.
Pontiff tries to get a solid grip on Avalon, but Coral counters by dropping to one knee and turning himself into dead weight. Sage responds by hammering blow after blow onto Avalon’s back to try and soften him up a bit further.
Coral manages to yank both of Pontiff’s feet out from under him and rolls through into a jackknife cover, but he’s too close to the ropes and has to immediately break. As soon as both men are on their feet, Pontiff tries for a jumping roundhouse, but Avalon manages to duck underneath.
Nick Stuart: You’re looking at two incredible physical specimens tonight, Richard. It’s amazing after all that’s happened in this match that they’re still able to go at it.
Richard Parker: Heh. “Go at it.”
Nick Stuart: Oh, for the love…
Pontiff has to work to regain his balance after the landing, which gives Avalon the opening to hit the opposite ropes and build up a head of steam. Pontiff turns just in time for Avalon to throw himself at Sage wheelbarrow-style, and then duck his head and roll both of them to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: European Clutch!
But Pontiff will not go quietly.
Despite his arms and legs both being trapped, he flails like a madman trying to break free and get his shoulders off the mat.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… and STIIIILL… Five Star champion… Coral Avalon!!
Nick Stuart: Avalon has done it! He managed to survive the onslaught, and he’ll walk out of here tonight as the Five Star champion!
Pontiff is seething, positively apoplectic. Somehow, Coral Avalon managed to withstand everything thrown at him to walk away the Five Star champion. The smile on his face as he finally leaves the ring isn’t one of a man content with the violence he’s brought tonight, but one who’s already thinking ahead to the level this will go the next time these two meet inside the ring.
Richard Parker: I’m just glad this means people are done bleeding near me for the day.
Referee Barlow hands Avalon his championship, and the Crownless King holds it high in celebration after surviving his first defense.
Nick Stuart: Well fans, for Richard Parker I’m Nick Stuart…
Richard Parker: I can’t do the outro?
Nick Stuart: And we’ll…
There’s a shift in the music being played through the arena. I Don’t Know How But They Found Me. “Choke.”
ANOTHER STICKY SITUATION
Coral Avalon clutches the 5 Star Championship close to his chest, clearly still feeling the adrenaline and pride from overcoming an incredible challenge from Sage Pontiff. Coral is ready to enjoy the crowd’s support one last time and wrap up his evening. Unfortunately for Coral Avalon, that plan is about to be slowly delayed as he hears the roaring disapproval of PRIME’s New Mexico faithful. The reason for the boos isn’t a question for much longer as at the top of the entrance way…
The Glueminati have arrived.
The crowd don’t like it very much at all.
Coral Avalon is almost amused as he sees Cecilworth Farthington, FLAMBERGE and Tyler Adrian Best appear in front of his eyes. Coral gestures for Cecilworth Farthington to join him in the ring, but The Best Boy waves him off.
Cecilworth Farthington: Coral, I’m so glad that it’s going to be you at Tropical Turmoil. Me and you. Oh, what a delight! It brings joy to what I thought was my dead ole heart. Really. Me and my friends just wanted to come out and show our appreciation for your efforts tonight.
In unison, FLAMBERGE, TAB and Farthington “give” Coral five brief golf claps before they decide to cut the whole thing short. Avalon for his part still remains in the ring both bemused, but clearly with high defenses after what this same group pulled at ReVival 27.
Cecilworth Farthington: Sage Pontiff getting his hands on the 5 Star Championship would have upset me for three reasons. First, I’m a caring sort of guy. I have a heart. It’s just nice to see a father-to-be get a little bonus with his championship chest.
TAB, as he is also a nice sort of guy, begins to pantomime a sort of making of rains.
Cecilworth Farthington: Secondly, I once had a terrible experience at a meditation retreat and that dude’s mere existence keeps triggering me…
TAB gives a forced “reassuring” pat on the back to his mentor Farthington as Coral keeps his gaze locked on the three men, absolutely waiting for the first shoe to drop.
Cecilworth Farthington: And finally we reach the big one… Coral, you made it clear that you wanted a match with me, and I can’t blame you, I’m me and I would love to wrestle me. Still, I’m the kind of guy who loves moments, and tonight, I got a hell of a moment for you fine folks…
Cecilworth drops the microphone and slowly starts to walk towards the ring, with FLAMBERGE and TAB by his side. Coral Avalon readies himself for a fight, still clutching his 5 Star Championship, he doesn’t break eye contact with The Glueminati for a single second.
Sadly for Avalon, he forgot that one important fact – The Glueminati are everywhere.
He quickly learns this lesson however, when a flying elbow is drilled into the back of his skull. Coral quickly clutches his neck, but the momentum of the assault from behind drives the 5 Star Champion down on his knees. As Coral tries to overcome the pain and get his bearings, he is hit with a springboard dropkick straight to the chest.
Cecilworth Farthington: See, the third reason I’m glad you retained Coral… you’ve helped to usher change.
There’s no mystery to the words of Farthington if you’re aware that as he was speaking, Coral Avalon just got a vicious powerbomb that drilled him into the ring mat. That’s right, a powerbomb. Cecilworth licks his finger in the air, and tilts his head at the now definitely knocked out Coral Avalon in the ring.
Cecilworth Farthington: Hmmmm (Farthington looks at his finger)… the wind has really shifted.
In case you had not cracked the very difficult puzzle for five year olds, Coral Avalon had been assaulted in the ring by two men that he knew very well.
The booing at this point had reached a level that would typically come with a health and safety advisory.
Cecilworth Farthington: Man, if Sage had won, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as funny a twist… thanks again, Coral!
Cecilworth Farthington is starting to climb into the ring to join his new charges of Phillips and Fontaine when his victory lap is interrupted by the crowd’s roar of support. The reason? Out from the crowd Brandon Youngblood and Nate Colton begin to rush to the ring. Colton slides into the ring, causing a smug looking Fontaine and an indifferent looking Phillips to leave the ring. While Colton checks on Avalon, Youngblood goes after The Glueminati on the outside.
Youngblood manages to grab hold of his Tropical Turmoil challenger’s shirt, but before TAB and Youngblood come to blows, the PRIME security team rush to break up the party. Philips, Fontaine, FLAMBERGE, TAB and Farthington retreat back up the ramp, clearly once again very delighted in their actions. Youngblood for his part goes to the ring to check on Avalon.
Nick Stuart: I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Sid Phillips and Joe Fontaine just rushed their former mentor Coral Avalon in the ring and aligned with The Glueminati. I know there’d be some issues between the two parties recently but this… this is uncalled for…
Richard Parker: Another oldhead tried to steal the spotlight from young talent… Cecilworth Farthington just showed Phillips and Fontaine the light…
The camera sees that Phillips and Fontaine have managed to link up with Farthington, FLAMERGE and TAB at the top of the entrance way. After a lot of hand gestures, smiles, points, nods and tilts, the five men decide to go all in and embrace with a big group hug. In the ring, a furious Youngblood and Colton help Avalon back up to his feet, Colton placing the 5 Star Championship back on Avalon’s shoulder. The three men in the ring give a very threatening death glare to the five firm friends at the entrance way.
Nick Stuart: You have to know there’s a reckoning coming for The Glueminati’s shenanigans. In my opinion, that reckoning is Tropical Turmoil!
Richard Parker: I absolutely agree, Nick, Tropical Turmoil is going to be a reckoning…
The cameras begin to fade in a cut between the irate group in the ring and the smuggos outside.