A CRIMINAL OFFENSE
“I beg to differ, Praporshchik Stanislav, I thought the Minsk Tractor Works was the superior tractor factory.”
“Nonsense Alexei, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant fulfilled each and every Five-Year Plan and then some!”
Perhaps there’s more interesting conversations to be had, but not if you’re Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Ruslan. This debate between them has been going on for decades. The two Russian’s approach the rear entrance of the Footprint Center and continue this debate with one another. The sun has since dipped beneath the horizon, and nightfall begins to envelop Arizona.
But by the time the two men get to within forty feet of the door, all hell breaks loose.
Two Arizona State Police cars bathe Ivan and Alexei in light as they screech to a halt on either side of them and about eight police officers surround them. The door to the back entrance of the building opens and Lindsay Troy, with arms crossed over her chest, emerges and watches from afar. She says nothing, but the police have plenty to say as one officer approaches the stunned foreigners.
Policeman: Which one of you is Alexei Ruslan?
Ruslan looks at Ivan, and then at the officer.
Alexei Ruslan: My name is Karpov.
The officer looks back at Troy for a moment, and she nods, and he looks back at Alexei. Ivan growls.
Ivan Stanislav: What is the meaning of this? We have work to do…
Two police officers point tasers at Stanislav, who seems unconcerned but remains silent.
Policeman: Alexei Ruslan. Does the name Sopov Yaroslavovich mean anything to you?
Alexei Ruslan: Nope.
Policeman: Do you know it’s a felony to slash ambulance tires? That includes putting someone else up to it.
Alexei Ruslan: Nope. But if I ever wish to take up tire-tread carving, that is good to know. Are we done here?
The officer shakes his head.
Policeman: ‘Fraid not. Our friends in New Mexico have some questions for you. So we can do this one of two ways: You can come with us peacefully, or we can drag you with us. The choice is yours.
Stanislav bellows over the officers at Troy and hollers to her in Russian.
Ivan Stanislav: Иди сюда и прекрати это, Трой, пока я не начал бросать полицейских! (Get over here and stop this, Troy, before I start yeeting police officers!)
Lindsay Troy: (shrugging) Go ahead, Ivan. I’m sure no harm will come to you whatsoever if you do.
Ivan sets his jaw and curses under his breath. He clenches his fists as the officers brace themselves for a worst-case scenario. But it’s Alexei who grips Stanislav’s forearm and squeezes.
Alexei Ruslan: Let them take me, Praporshchik. This is all bullshit, you know it, but I look forward to making horses-asses out of all of them.
Stanislav speaks loudly for all the officers to hear.
Ivan Stanislav: You will all pay for treating a foreign dignitary with such disrespect!
The officer ignores Stanislav and addresses Alexei again.
Policeman: Do you have any weapons on you before we take you into custody?
Ruslan speaks immediately.
Alexei Ruslan: Nope.
Ivan stares at Alexei. Hard. Ruslan relents after a moment and with a flurry, removes a multitude of items and hands them to an officer.
A baton, handcuffs, taser, zip ties, duct tape, a bottle of chloroform, a razor blade, a switchblade knife, piano wire… he finally pauses and looks at Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: We could be here for a while. Praporshchik, you go on ahead. I’ll talk to you afterwards, okay?
Stanislav frowns and nods.
Ivan Stanislav: I see you soon, Alexei Gregorovich. At least this night cannot get any worse, right? (gazing up beyond the guards towards the entrance with a growl) And as for you, Lindsay Troy…
But she’s gone. He grunts and pushes through the officers, leaving his friend behind and entering the arena.
Surely this night couldn’t get any worse for Ivan Stanislav…
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: CANCER JILES vs. REZIN
We cut to ringside for the start of our first match.
IVAN FOR KING BASTARD 2024
OH GREAT NOW WE’RE GOING TO GIVE SID 17 NEW NICKNAMES WITH THE WORD GLUE
THE GLUEMINATI ARE EVERYWHERE
DIG THROUGH THE DITCHES AND LOOK FOR PHIL ATKINS AND SLAM IN THE BACK OF MY GLUEMOBILE
THERE IS NO NUTRITIONAL VALUE IN SAD CAKE
WE IN PHOENIX DO NOT CLAIM JOE FONTAINE AS ONE OF OURS
AND THERE WAS ONLY ONE PAIR OF FOOTPRINTS AT THE FOOTPRINT CENTER, FOR IT WAS CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON CARRYING YOU
BRING ON THE UNDULATING STEEL
I BOUGHT A TICKET FOR THIS SHOW BUT I WILL SELL THIS TICKET FOR THE REVIVAL 31 SHOW BECAUSE AERIAL KICKBOXING
THE COLTONS ARE NO WALTONS
BENNY COLTON HAS A FOREHEAD FETISH
BRING BACK MUSSY
HEY FLAMBO, I’VE GOT A NECK YOU CAN COLLECT RIGHT HERE
SIR, I’D LIKE TO SEND BACK THESE CHICKENTENDERS I ORDERED; THEY ARE WAY TOO HARD
REV THIRTY IS THE NEW REV TWENTY TWO
Nick Stuart: Welcome one and all to ReVival Thirty, live in Phoenix, Arizona! We are on the doorstep of a MONUMENTAL Pay-Per-View event, Tropical Turmoil!
Richard Parker: Every one of those handsome sons of guns in the Glueminati will cash in their opportunity at singles gold – pretty soon we may ALL be swimming in glue!
Nick Stuart: Putting that mental image aside – we will also see the Turmoil Match, six competitors facing off elimination style to determine the new #1 Contender for the Universal Championship!
Richard Parker: Paxton Ray and Jared Sykes – maybe two of the most polar opposite guys I can think of in PRIME – are already in. Tonight, we found out who fills out the rest of the field!
Nick Stuart: Any predictions, partner?
Richard Parker: I don’t care what happens as long as ol’ Caner Jiles gets eliminated from this thing.
Nick Stuart: And don’t forget our main event tonight – tag team action! Winds of Change shocked the world when they viciously assaulted Coral Avalon at ReVival 29 and aligned themself with the Glueminati. Tonight, Joe Fontaine of the Winds tags with Lord Farthington for the first time ever against another unique duo, the Universal Champion Brandon Youngblood and Justine Calvin!
Richard Parker: Oh, look at this poor idiot walking down the ramp!
Continuing a recent trend, they all done goofed with Cancer Jiles’s usual entrance. He’s a little more controlled, a little more Cool, than the last time this happened in a COOLympic Curtain Jerk, but the volume is all messed up and “I Am The Cool” is alternately way too quiet and blaring extremely loudly for a moment out of a random arena speaker. They didn’t even pretend to get pyro for him this time. But hey – at least this time, he’s not already in the ring when we first see him.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is a Tropical Turmoil Qualifier! Introducing first, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…he is a former Universal Champion…THE GREEK GOD OF COOL! CANCERRRRRRRR JIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!
Richard Parker: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Nick Stuart: I appreciate that you’re not even trying to use your words anymore.
Richard Parker: BOOOOOOOO! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
“I Have Prepared a Statement” by Whores blasts with full clarity and pristine audio quality as pillars of smoke shoot up along the edges of the entrance ramp. We see clips of a ship being pulled over a mountain and a damn fine cup of coffee on PRIMEview as Rezin emerges – emerges is the wrong word, he stumbles – into frame. We’re not sure what exactly he’s saying but we can tell it’s about normies and he’s very adamant about punching the shit out of the air in his immediate vicinity as he pratfalls and stumblesaults down the ramp.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana! He is ALSO a former Universal Champion…THE ESCAPE ARTIST! RRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEZIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!
Nick Stuart: Rezin doesn’t look like he wants to waste any time!
Richard Parker: He keeps falling on his face but he’s getting to the ring faster than he would if he were walking!
On cue, Rezin stumbles under the bottom rope, roars and gives a well-intenioned Double Bird to the fans in attendance before smashing Jiles in the mush with a closed fist! Referee Timo Bolamba signals for the bell!
Nick Stuart: Rezin is firing away!
Rezin begins throwing these wild raining haymakers towards Jiles’s head and upper body. A few catch Jiles and he’s forced to take a step or two back before he immediately falls to the mat and curls himself into a protective cocoon near the ropes! Rezin is relentless in his frenzied assault as Jiles sneaks a few fingertips onto the bottom rope. Bolamba begins a five count for Rezin to back off, which Rezin sells like his mother’s honor has been insulted (which – ok, let’s not get into that one, that’s going to really divert our attention). Rezin is soon barking his head off at Bolamba as he steps away – Jiles seizes the opportunity and lunges forward, clipping Rezin’s leg and dropping him to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Picture Perfect Knee Clip! Clever sequence to flip the script by Jiles there.
Richard Parker: Don’t overcompensate for how much I speak my truth about Jiles by showering him with all this praise, Nick – I hope Cancer Jiles stubs his big toe twice a day!
Nick Stuart: Jiles is mounting some offense here, but wait – Rezin has slipped out of Jiles’s grasp! Jiles immediately goes for a thumb to the eye – Rezin didn’t like that one!
Richard Parker: Rezin just slapped Jiles in the mouth for poking him in the eye!
Nick Stuart: Frustration already at a boiling point!
The two begin trading blows back and forth in the middle of the ring – open palm strikes from Rezin, knife edge chops from Jiles. After an extended and increasingly heated exchange, the two men’s chests both glow pinkish red and they come nose to nose, roaring like a majestic lion and a pissed off goat at each other. The roar ends when Jiles grasps and rips a truly awful nipple twist. Rezin clutches his chest and falls back to the mat like he got hit by a cinder block. Jiles closes the distance and goes for the cover!
TWO – Rezin rolls into the ropes!
Still clutching his chest, and crying out in agony, he kicks and writhes and slips his way out of the grasp of the Coolympian before falling out of the ring and onto the floor. Jiles is…displeased. He takes a moment, runs his hand through his maybe-more-white-than-blonde-these-days-but-otherwise-perfect hair and follows Rezin to the outside.
As Jiles’s feet hit the floor…
Nick Stuart: CLOVEN HOOF KICK!!
Richard Parker: HA! Rezin suckered him in!
Nick Stuart: More haymakers onto the fallen Cancer Jiles, and he’s connecting with all of them! He’s got him by the head now, rolling Jiles into the ring, and here he goes! Top rope time!
Richard Parker: PUT HIM IN A BODYBAAAAAAAAG!
Rezin gathers his balance on the top rope and measures the prone Jiles. As he gathers himself, he looks out upon the raucous crowd and throws up the devil horns, positions himself with his back to Jiles, and then he LEAPS~~
Nick Stuart: REZINSAULT FROM THE TOP! HERE’S THE COVER!
Jiles shoots his shoulder up at two and a half to the crowd’s dismay. Rezin doesn’t let it deter him and wastes no time – he grabs Jiles by the face and launches forward with a headbutt! Another one! And now Rezin just bites Jiles right on the top of his skull! Timo Bolamba has no choice but to initiate another five out to get things under control.
Timo Bolamba: ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR – Rezin, no teeth, you know that!
Rezin: YOU DAMB NORMIES ARE ALWAYS OPPRESSING THE USE OF THINGS THAT COME FROM NATURE, COME ON – IT’S NOT LIKE I HAVE SCIMITARS IN MY MOUTH LIKE ARTHUR PL-EARHGHGHHH!
Jiles connects flush with a high leaping dropkick that sends Rezin staggering! He rebounds off the ropes – German Suplex by Jiles! Rezin somehow rolls with the momentum of the slam and staggers, stumbles, and whiffs as he swings wildly in the air – a second German Suplex! This one keeps Rezin down on the mat. Seeing the opportunity to let loose with some frustrations, Jiles reveals not just one, but TWO curled index fingers that protrude from the very hands he uses all the time in his daily life. He positions himself behind Rezin, reaches down, and one index finger is in each cheek, pulling violently outward.
Richard Parker: Look at this disgusting tactic! I hope Rezin bites his fingers off!
Nick Stuart: Bolamba calling things tightly here, he’s already begun counting to get Jiles to release this illegal hold – Jiles releases at three there. You know, how many times can a wrestler toe that five count line before the referee might go for the full disqualification?
Richard Parker: It depends on the referee, but if it was ME – I would have DQ’d ol’ Caner Jiles by now.
Nick Stuart: For what?
Richard Parker: Pick a reason.
Jiles works over Rezin’s shins with some driving stomps, and after stepping on Rezin’s left hand for good measure, he pulls Rezin to his feet…gets a headlock on Rezin…and drops him with a Very Basic Bitch-Ass DDT! He covers and hooks both legs!
Rezin pops up, and he’s a raging ball of fire! – until he realizes that his brain was just spiked on the ground, and he needs his brain, so he stumbles through the ropes to the outside again. Jiles is now PISSED. He storms out of the ring, makes a beeline for the staggering Rezin (who’s acting like he’s blind in both eyes and somehow also his nose), and does the thing.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER!
Richard Parker: NO!!
Rezin splats hard to the mat, and maybe it’s the earlier brain attack, maybe it’s just his damn heart, but he’s immediately working very very hard to get back to his feet…and he does! His fists are up! He’s ready to pay Jiles back in a big way! He’s a righteous warrior of VENGEANCE and he’s stumbling over his own boots, and yep. He just cracked his own head into the ring post…but he’s still on his feet! Until…
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CANCER AGAIN!
Rezin, for a moment, seems Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board, before he suddenly crashes face first to the floor. Timo Bolamba actively leans his torso outside the ropes and yells at the wrestlers to bring it back into the ring. For a while Jiles is too cool to listen, and Rezin is too dead to listen. As boos rain down upon him, kING eGG finally chooses to exert the effort necessary to heave Rezin back into the ring. Rezin flops and rolls and writhes almost like a dying trout. Jiles goes for a pretty casual cover.
TH-ROLLTHROUGH! Rezin has Cancer in a Crucifix! High stack!
THRE-ELBOW GETS FREE! Jiles gets the elbow free! A few stiff shots into Rezin’s face, another cover!
Rezin pops out, and locks in the Cabrón Clutch on the mat! Both men are fighting through this submission hold HARD, but Rezin refuses to release his grip! Timo Bolamba is right on top of the action, looking to see if Cancer Jiles submits!
TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP!
Richard Parker: TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP!
Nick Stuart: Rezin is about to become the next entrant in the Turmoil Match!
This hold is in DEEP, and Jiles’s face is fuschia. He’s huffing and puffing and doing everything he can to stay conscious in the hold as the fans continue expressing their wishes for this man to tap out.
Of course, many in attendance would be equally OK with Jiles being legitimately choked out, but that goes without saying.
Jiles seems to catch a bit of a second wind and starts fighting back. As the men flail and jerk around and do everything in their power to either Hold On or Get Out, we see Jiles tilt his head forward before violently swinging it back – cracking the back of his head squarely into Rezin’s nose! Rezin clutches at his nose as a trickle of blood comes down! Cancer wastes no time and goes to bite Rezin right in the hands that he’s using to protect his face!
Timo Bolamba: One! Two! Three! Four – Cancer, you know it too, no teeth!
Timo physically pushes Jiles off of Rezin and the Coolympian gets to his feet. The two begin to argue as Cancer motions to stay on the attack – Timo’s head is underneath Jiles’s outreached shoulder as he tries to help create space.
Rezin: YOU GODDAMB BASTARD I’M GONNA BLEAKRHG!
And Bolamba doesn’t see it.
The yellow mist.
Nick Stuart: Oh no, that’s the Coolympian Yoljk! Rezin’s been blinded!
And it’s a third Terminal Cancer.
Richard Parker: No, NO! KICKOUT REZIN!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Here is your winner, advancing to the Turmoil Match at Tropical Turmoil…Cancerrrrrr JILES!
Richard Parker: Well partner, my night is officially ruined.
Nick Stuart: There’s a reason Rezin became Universal Champion – he’s one of the best in the business, he’s the toughest competitor pound-for-pound in any locker room he’s in, and he’s more slippery than a damp frog in a bowl of Jello! But tonight, Jiles was willing to go that one slimy step further.
Richard Parker: I hope Cancer Jiles has a beautiful child one day that loves Lego, and always leaves them on the floor, so every day when he wakes up he steps on a whole PILE of them.
Nick Stuart: Healthy emotional processing here at ReVival 30!
We then cut backstage.
BULLY FOR YOU
The camera is trained on the wrestler’s entrance at the Footprint Center in Phoenix. It creaks open, and stepping through is one Arthur Pleasant, carrying his duffel bag, followed by the massive Russian Yuri Reznikov. They walk with purpose until they aren’t anymore. Their stoppage is because something is in their path.
Or more like someone. The camera reveals The Anglo Luchador, arms crossed over his uncharacteristically plain gray t-shirt.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh look, it’s The Mask. Are you here to end my career outside of the ring, you bully? I listened to that podcast and…
TAL: Shut the fuck up. It’s my turn to talk now.
Yuri lurches ever so slightly forward as if he’s going to take care of a problem before it becomes one, and the Luchador is just as ready to swing on someone even though he has a foot and several pounds on him. Before the tension can spark, Pleasant holds his charge back.
Arthur Pleasant: All you do is talk…
TAL: No, we’re not doing this again. I said shut the fuck up you gaslighting piece of shit.
The luchador shoots Yuri a look pointed with daggers at the end before continuing.
TAL: I’ve had fucking enough of this bullshit. I can take you trying to gaslight me like I’m some kind of wet-behind-the-ears groundling, because you’re stupid enough to try and play games with someone who can put you in the ground. But you fucked with my family. And that “can” is teetering dangerously close to “will.”
Arthur swiftly jams his words into the minuscule breath between beats in the Luchador’s monologue.
Arthur Pleasant: See, Yuri? He’s bullying me again! I’m surprised since this isn’t Ja-
TAL: I said shut. Up.
He picks up a water bottle and flings it past Pleasant and Yuri with Jose Alvarado speed and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn proximity to their ears.
TAL: You put my family in danger, and all this bully talk? It’s about to become real. Too real. I will show you how much of a goddamn bully I can be. Whether or not you can comprehend it afterwards depends on how well your body can recover, but I’m sick of this shit. Sick of it. There’s a contract waiting for you for a match at Tropical Turmoil in Lindsay Troy’s office. You will sign it.
There’s a pause. Arthur looks around mockingly before answering.
Arthur Pleasant: Well then. And if I don’t? Hmm.
TAL: I didn’t think you’d be brazen or stupid enough to dodge the challenge since you fucking with me is sign number one that you wanted this match in the first place. But you know what, I’ll humor you for a second. Look me in the eyes.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh geez, now he’s going to act tough…
TAL: I fucking said LOOK ME IN THE EYES, YOU SPINELESS SACK OF SHIT.
Yuri grumbles again looking to get into a fight backstage, but again, Arthur holds him back.
Arthur Pleasant: I get it. I get it. Fine. I’ll go sign your stupid contract. And…
TAL: Save it for someone who still has a capacity to listen to you. I’m done. You’ve talked to me enough, dickhead. See you in San Diego.
The Luchador turns around and walks off with purpose. Arthur turns to Yuri, who is looking pensively for the first time in this run. Arthur, however, grins like the Cheshire Cat.
Arthur Pleasant: Yuri, my boy, I think we’ve got him right where we want him.
The camera cuts to elsewhere in the arena.
IT WASN’T THAT HARD TO GET A SWORD, TAL
Deep within the halls of the Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ, The Muse is busy unboxing merchandise and loading her PRIMEporium wares off of a pallet and onto a 6 wheel cart.
She furrows her brows as she reads a box written in crayon that says “NOT STANDING 4 JON TEE SHIRTS,” and opens the box, which clearly is exactly what it states it is not. After throwing the box in a garbage bin, she looks up and waves as Eddie Cross walks up.
Anna Daniels: How’s it going, Ed?
Whichever of the Multitudes is leading tonight is trying to keep things casual, given all the chaos that is sure to ensue.
Eddie Cross: It’s good. You seen Gamble? I have a fist-sized present for him.
As if to emphasize the point, he holds up his hand and curls it into a fist, then stereotypically cracks his knuckles for effect.
Anna Daniels: No. But if you want to wreck something in the meantime, you can always dig his shitty t-shirts out of the trash.
The vessel points to the trash can.
Anna Daniels: And you shouldn’t be cracking your knuckles. Too cliché. Not to mention your hands pay the price for it later.
In a way, she’s relieved that his focus is on Gamble. Fuck knows this boy has a tendency of jumping into stuff that isn’t really his problem. And making too many enemies too quickly would only get his ass kicked down the line.
Eddie looks at the trash then back to The Muse.
Eddie Cross: That sounds like a problem for future me. Right now, the only thing I am worried about my hands paying the price for is messing up Tony’s face more than it already is.
Anna can’t help but smile as she stocks up on the ever increasing mounds of t-shirts and miscellaneous nonsense to sell. She hastily throws some Kohime Mori Frozen Pork Buns (“Your mouth don’t want none unless it’s pork buns, hun!”) in the microwave and begins the cooking process.
Anna Daniels: Listen, it’s great that you’re keeping your focus on who you need to. Honestly, given some of the stuff around here, we were a bit worried about that. But you gotta save that shit up for when you get him in the ring.
Anna Daniels: Or at least when you get him alone. You know as well as we do he has his mooks on standby. He wants you to come after him now that he thinks he has the upper hand. We won’t always be around to help, so don’t charge yourself into an ambush if you can help it.
Of course, there’s always a doubt that he can help it. He’s a youngster with a lot to learn still. Besides, even some oldheads never learned that lesson. The timer on the food nuking machine goes off.
Anna Daniels: But if you’re going to do it anyway, at least attempt to be aware of your surroundings and get the first swing in so you don’t look like a coward.
The pork buns are offered on a paper plate. She motions the plate towards him.
Anna Daniels: Want one?
He shakes his head at the pork buns and relies with his gravelly voice.
Eddie Cross: I suppose you are right. But I’m not likely to get him one on one unless I get Lindsay to agree to ban GAS from the ring.
Suddenly he has a look of either having a great idea or perhaps he shouldn’t have had that burrito for lunch.
Eddie Cross: If I can prove to LT that the odds are never going to be in my favor, maybe she will make them a little more even.
There’s a shrug from the Muse as she chomps into a pork bun. Frozen can never be quite as good as fresh, but they come close. She swallows.
Anna Daniels: We would think it would be obvious, right? Even with Morty and us out of the mix, as we should be, it would still be…what? Three on one with those laughing matter goons lurking about? In the words of a wise man, the numbers don’t lie and they spell disaster for you.
And somewhere in the distance, you might be able to hear a man rambling about genetic freaks and booty daddies and FAAAAT ASSES. If the owls pop up, just say he’s talking about Jared Sykes or something. She shakes her head.
Anna Daniels: Then again, she might’ve been busy with the other eight hundred acres of bullshit to spot this even with her flurry of murder owls. So how are you going to make her notice this problem?
He shrugs and pulls his fist up again.
Eddie Cross: So, there is this really old movie where the main guy says “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Except the him in this case is a her? I haven’t worked that part of the analogy out yet.
He grabs one of the pork buns and takes a bite. Not bad. He paces a bit before swallowing and continuing.
Eddie Cross: I don’t know Lindsay real well, but I do know she isn’t a fan of Gamble. However, I think she IS a fan of seeing him get his ass kicked. The way I see it, the only way I am going to prove that I won’t ever get to him while they are around is to actually go after him.
The vessel’s brows raise for a moment. It’s a stupid idea. But sometimes, you have to be stupid to get your point across.
Anna Daniels: If by our life and death we can protect you, we will.
She snatches her pork bun and wanders to the shadowy backrooms of the PRIMEporium. Munching on the food some more, the Intense champion scrounges through her black market backstock of deathmatch weaponry. He’ll need something he can wield halfway decently, light, and somewhat easy to hide. Finally, her hand snags a kendo stick from the bargain bin of kendo sticks. Swallowing the last of the bun, she marches back to the pondering Edward and hands the stick to him.
Anna Daniels: You have our sword.
Settle down, Aragorn. This ain’t even that serious.
He blinks twice as he looks down and takes the weapon.
Eddie Cross: But the Kendo Stick is analogous for a katana, not a two handed long sword so this is more like… oh what is it that MacLeod guy is always saying on that show Dave likes? “There can be only one?”
He swings it in the air and imagines leaving a wake of samurai behind him like Yojimbo. It’ll do.
Eddie Cross: Either way, I gotta go see a man about a scar.
DICTATED, BUT NOT READ
We cut from the latest events in the saga of Eddie Cross into a pre-taped vignette, evident by the EARLIER TODAY chyron in the top right.
Our scene: a simple table draped with PRIME logos. Behind it, a chair. On top of the table, a microphone.
Shot from straight on, we can see the backs of some people we have to assume are journalists, or because it’s pro wrestling maybe “journalists.” There is a light thrum of whispered anticipation and wondering.
“I said ‘kiss me, you’re beautiful’
These are truly the last days'”
In the arena as the video plays on the PRIME*Tron, there is only one reaction to this cue.
No one in the room remarks upon how strange it is to play walk-out music for a press conference. The C&C guitars play at a frankly elevator music-esque volume for another second and…
The cheer rises, and then ends in….a question mark?
He sits down at the table, the cameras framing that pursed jaw, the jet black hair, the designer sunglasses, the obnoxious athleisure. It’s all there, except…
“Hey, you’re not Chandler Tsonda.”
Right. That. The voice of one of the assembled journalists says the obvious thing: this is a totally different guy.
Handsome, athletic build, Asian-American, real jock energy, but absolutely not Chandler Tsonda. Of note is an AirPod in his left ear.
The man at the podium cocks his head to one side.
“Chandler Tsonda”: Of course I am. You wanna see my driver’s license?
Journalist #1: Respectfully, you aren’t, and I do.
“Chandler Tsonda”: (ignoring the comment) I have a statement that I’d like to read, and then I’ll take questions from everyone except this guy.
This leaves the room with a bizarre vibe and the journalists, many of whom are looking at each other with what we assume are total WTF faces, just watch as the Doppeltsonda reads from a sheet of paper. He has all the authenticity of a guy reading his lines for the first time.
“Chandler Tsonda”: Good afternoon, pimps (gender neutral). It is I, Chandler Tsonda, having a very normal one, and here to fulfill my responsibility to the incredible PRIME fans, and my obligation to Lindsay Troy and the excellent people who make this company run.
The Doppeltsonda looks as if he may be struggling to read behind the thick, dark sunglasses. But he continues.
“Chandler Tsonda”: The last you saw of me was Paxton Ray, an underhanded dick and, even worse, a lousy draw, putting the boots to me like the first day of kickball season. Though my body is ailing, my spirit is not broken. I stand before you here today as the model, nay….The Model Citizen, of resilience.
Doppeltsonda does a weird little finger point to the wrong place, then realizes where the actual camera is, and redirects his finger point so that he’s face to camera.
“Chandler Tsonda”: To all the Tsuperstars out there, I want you to know that if you’re hurt, or embarrassed, or bullied, what we owe each other is to get back on that horse. And that’s why I’m here today, to show I won’t hide my head. I won’t tuck my tail and run. So I’ll have some just desserts for that Lafayette pig shit soon enough. But for now: (pumping fist in the air) I’m still standing. I’m still strong!
Journalist #1: Did you just plagiarize the 2002 film Antwone Fisher?
“Chandler Tsonda”: (taps AirPod) …No?
Journalist #1: Is that a question?
“Chandler Tsonda”: Call the guy Tucker Carlson and tell him you’re only interested in real journalists. Democracy dies in darkness, something like that.
An incredibly awkward pause ensues. It is clear that Doppeltsonda is reciting lines, presumably ones coming over that left Airpod.
“Chandler Tsonda”: That is to say, uhhhh, go do your little song and dance for Elon, Tucker Carlson. Democracy dies in darkness. U-S-A! U-S-A!
No one else chants with Doppeltsonda.
“Chandler Tsonda”: Next question.
And who wouldn’t want to ask a question to an obvious fake? Another person tries a different tack.
Journalist #2: I guess I’ll give this a shot. I imagine that it would’ve been a real storybook comeback moment for Chandler to contend for a shot at the Universal Title in his hometown of San Diego. Can you ask him his state of mind about what’s next?
“Chandler Tsonda”: (incredulous) Ask who?
Journalist #2: Oh c’mon.
“Chandler Tsonda”: You want to ask me, Chandler Tsonda, that question directly?
Journalist #2: We’re really doing this? You’re clearly on the phone with Chandler Tsonda.
“Chandler Tsonda”: (points to ear) I’m listening to a podcast about the history of Juneteenth. Oh, the white mainstream media wants me to silence the voice of black liberation, and the building of a more just society?! Well, I won’t take it. Abolish the policeman in your head, and abolish the policing of my ears. The AirPod stays, Jefferson Davis.
Journalist #2: I don’t even…(sighs) ok Chandler Tsonda, what’s your state of mind, given all the things I mentioned?
“Chandler Tsonda”: Thank you for asking me that question. As a native son of Southern California, a born-and-bred Padre, a dyed-in-the-wool San Diegan, I’m hurting about missing the Tropical Turmoil match. Anybody who knows me knows I didn’t come back to take L’s. But I did, and I’ve got to face it like a man, and take accountability for my results in the ring.
None of the assembled media seem to have the desire, or perhaps the patience, to point out the on-its-face farce occurring.
“Chandler Tsonda”: But I will be addressing Paxton Roy (taps earpiece), sorry, Paxton Ray tonight face-to-face. This shit ain’t over. Next question.
Journalist #3: Ok, why isn’t Chandler Tsonda here tonight?
The Not Sultan of Style looks visibly annoyed, but seems to know a losing battle when he sees one. He answers the question as if it’s been directed at him, not about him.
“Chandler Tsonda”: I came here tonight to show everyone that I’m doing fine! Better than fine, really great. I’m not injured, I’m not embarrassed, I’m not having an existential crisis about what my life means if I can’t compete at a high level in the ring anymore. Natch.
One final brave soul ventures to play this strangest of games.
Journalist #4: Should we expect to see, um, the original recipe Chandler Tsonda at Tropical Turmoil? Is he coming back to PRIME?
A long silence ensues. There are evidently a lot of words coming fast and furious over the airwaves to the Tstunt double, who maybe isn’t being paid enough to improvise. He just puts on a dumb, handsome guy smile and speaks directly into the camera.
“Chandler Tsonda”: I have no fucking clue. Hey, you guys know where to get my parking validated?
That’s the end of that. We then cut back to ringside.
BOBBY DEAN vs. DARIN ZION
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
“Happy Song” by Bring Me The Horizon hits the arena speakers to a chorus of boos, which is a crime because that song absolutely slaps. Seriously, go listen to it right now.
Vince Howard: From Chicago, Illinois and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
Darin Zion, proud herald of the Love Convoy, steps out onto the stage. The crowd isn’t thrilled, which we now learn has nothing to do with his choice of theme music (which, again, is a banger) but rather the man himself. This makes sense, because when you stan Vickie Hall as hard as ol’ DZ then the contempt comes with the territory.
Vince Howard: DAAAAAAAARIIIIIIIIIN ZIIIIIIIION!!
Zion makes his way to the ring, and despite his attempt to spread the love on his path from the stage the crowd just ain’t having it.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
“You’re The Best” by Joe Esposito begins to play, and despite his antics the last time he worked in PRIME the crowd seems genuinely happy as the returning Bobby Dean walks out in front of the crowd.
Vince Howard: Hailing from Houston, Texas and weighing in at three hundred and sixty-nine pounds…
Bobby takes his sweet time making his way down the ramp, pausing to grab a fistfull of popcorn from one fan as he makes his journey to the ring.
Vince Howard: BEAUTIFUL BOBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY DEAN!!!
Zion wastes no time in trying to chop down the bigger man. With chops. Also some punches and at least one kick to the midsection which, let’s face it, isn’t going to do a whole lot against that level of padding. Bobby manages to shove him away, but the smaller and quicker Zion doesn’t give him an inch. He’s right back on the attack, trying to club away at the most beautiful Bandit.
Eventually Zion drives Bobby back towards the ropes, then grabs his arm and tries to send him for an Irish whip. Bobby makes it halfway across the ring before he slows, stops, and puts his hands on his knees to catch his breath.
Nick Stuart: It’s all Darin Zion here in the early going, and I think the ring rust is starting to show.
Richard Parker: Sure, let’s go with that.
After a few seconds, Bobby stands back up and continues running towards the ropes. He hits, rebounds, and then pauses one more time. All the while Zion looks confused. Just as it looks like Bobby is about to start chugging again, Zion bolts across the ring and connects with a running dropkick that sends Dean to the mat.
Tough Love dashes in and tries to knot up Dean’s legs for a submission attempt, but Bobby kicks off with both feet and Zion has to scramble to get back to his feet.
Nick Stuart: Zion keeping the pressure on. He’s building up a head of steam here.
Richard Parker: Don’t say steam too loud, Bobby will think we’re having a clambake.
Nick Stuart: Wh-why?
Zion connects with a running dropkick as Bobby is just finding his footing, and he’s close enough to the ropes that the impact sends the big man through them and out to the arena floor.
Richard Parker: I don’t know, but it sounded good in my head when I said it.
Outside the ring, Bobby lifts the apron and reaches underneath for something.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean on the hunt.
Richard Parker: I swear to god if it’s another chicken table…
It is another chicken table. Which is to say, a folding table that someone has adorned with an entire spread from KFC.
Nick Stuart: Snack time at ringside as Bobby Dean gets a treat courtesy of our friends at KFC!
Richard Parker: This talent exchange has gone too far. Way too far.
The beautiful man from Honalee is quite careful to make sure that he doesn’t spill anything while unfolding the legs of the table, which really is an engineering marvel when you think about it. Like that’s a whole-ass table full of food, and not a single bit of it is wasted while both sets of legs are extended. The physics and geometry needed to make that work would surely get math a stern warning in PRIME if it wasn’t already banned for life.
Richard Parker: You ever make a gravy shake, Nick?
The fans at home can’t see it, but right now Nick Stuart is staring at his broadcast partner. He’s not even blinking.
Nick Stuart: What.
Richard Parker: A gravy shake. So the first thing you do is get a container of mashed potatoes, and then a separate container of gravy. You’ll need more than what they normally put on the spuds, otherwise everything gets too thick.
Meanwhile, Bobby is taking the opportunity to recharge his batteries by snacking on a drumstick. Extra crispy, the way the lord intended.
Richard Parker: Then you dump the gravy into the mashed potatoes, and stir the bejesus out of it. Like you’ve really got to get it good and blended.
With that particular piece of chicken done and dusted, Bobby reaches for a biscuit only to have it slapped out of his hand. Enter Darin Zion. If the Colonel’s original recipe has eleven herbs and spices, then the secret ingredient for tonight’s recipe is love. Tough love.
Nick Stuart: And how is this a shake exactly?
Richard Parker: Well then you get a straw, and…
Zion flips the table. Literally. Just flips it right over, sending coleslaw and biscuits across the ringside area.
Nick Stuart: Okay. I think we’re good on the fluid dynamics of mashed potatoes. I’ve heard enough.
Richard Parker: I’m just saying it really hits the spot is all.
It should go without saying that having his snack batted away doesn’t sit well with the Beautiful Man from Honalee. Bobby stares daggers at Zion, who’s too busy berating his opponent to understand the white hot murder only a few feet away. Dean looks down at the scattered remains of his tasty ringside treat, and charges full speed into Zion and sends him reeling into the ring apron. An open handed slap resonates through the arena like a gunshot, and then Bobby rolls Zion into the ring before giving chase.
Nick Stuart: Well, Richard, it looks like you won’t be having one of those “shakes” tonight.
Richard Parker: Okay, real talk? If you thought I was going anywhere near a chicken dinner that a grown man pulled from under the ring then we need to get you therapy. All the therapy.
Nick Stuart: Bobby with a leg drop onto Zion, and now he’s making his way up the buckles.
Richard Parker: Correction, Nick. That’s buckle. Singular. One buckle. Uno buckle-o.
Bobby seems to fall in slow motion, descending ass-first onto the chest of Tough Love with his version of the Banzai Drop. Zion’s eyes go wide as the human hydraulic press crushes him under his massive bulk.
That’s not his trademark taunt, but rather the sound of all the air being driven out of Darin Zion through every hole in his body.
Yes, even that one.
Richard Parker: All of my internal organs are screaming after watching that, Nick. They’re terrified that could be them one day. And I need them all. For drinking gravy shakes.
Bobby doesn’t stand, so the referee slides in for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Darin Zion managed to get his arm over to the ropes. He’s not out of this fight yet!
Richard Parker: It’s damn impressive. After being crushed like that I don’t think I could continue.
Nick Stuart: I don’t know many people who could.
Richard Parker: Ol’ Dee Zee done got squashed like a pancake. A man-sized pancake. A mancake.
Zion rolls out onto the ring apron as Bobby gets to his feet. He reaches over the top rope to pull Zion back in, but Tough Love grabs him by the head and leaps down from the apron, which snaps Beautiful Bobby’s neck down across the top rope.
Nick Stuart: Smart move by Zion. This should buy him a little time to get his bearings and get back into this one.
Richard Parker: He should take a minute and make sure all of his internal organs are intact. That’s where I’d start.
Zion climbs back up onto the ring apron, then ascends the buckles as he waits for Dean to get back to his feet. Zion leaps from the top, and the missile dropkick finds its mark. Bobby hits the mat with a thud, and Zion quickly scurries over to try and make a cover.
Nick Stuart: Darin Zion showing off some high-flying offense. Could this be all?!
Fun fact about Zion: he’s not above cheating a little if the situation calls for it.
Nick Stuart: And Zion has a handful of tights!
Richard Parker: Which is dangerous for all of us. What’s the tensile strength of lycra? I’ll tell you – not tensile enough.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean manages to get the shoulder up just in time, and Zion is beside himself.
Richard Parker: Oh god are there two of him now?!
Nick Stuart: What? No. That’s not what that saying means.
Zion begins arguing with referee Ashley Barlow, who is very patient and not at all annoyed that she has to explain how counting works to yet another wrestler. Now back on his feet, Bobby lumbers across the ring.
Nick Stuart: Zion crushed in the corner by a massive body avalanche! He was arguing with the referee, and I don’t think he saw it coming.
Barlow has an expression on her face like she just dodged a bullet.
Richard Parker: Or a train.
Nick Stuart: Zion staggering out of the corner. Bobby with a kick to the midsection…
There’s a twinkle in Bobby’s eye and he grabs Zion and draws him in, taking great care to not expose any of his naughty bits before stuffing the Love Convoy member’s head into…
You know what? Maybe “member” wasn’t the best word to use there, given where Darin Zion’s head is currently positioned in relation to Bobby Dean’s anatomy. Not deleting it, just saying is all.
Richard Parker: I take back every mean thing I said, thoughts and prayers to Darin Zion in this trying time.
Zion flails, because of course he does. Most people would be desperate to escape this situation if they found themselves trapped inside Bobby Dean’s tights.
Nick Stuart: DEANER!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t change much.
Nick Stuart: WIENER!
Beautiful Bobby makes the cover.
DING DING DING
Dean gets to his feet and celebrates his victory.
Nick Stuart: A big win in his first match back in PRIME, and an early birthday present for Bobby Dean tonight!
Richard Parker: You know, someone should maybe check on Zion. That man’s head has been places and seen things. Inhuman things.
Nick Stuart: Fans, don’t go anywhere. We’ll have more action for you coming up after this!
We then cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
MANATEE OF LA MANCHA – NOT A NATURE DOCUMENTARY
The scene cuts backstage to Matt Mills standing next to the ALIAS/Gamble Champion, Mortgomery Byrnes who has dressed impeccably for the occasion sporting an electric blue double-breasted suit, black dress shirt, and black satin tie (is it a tie we have seen before? Is it not? Only Morty knows for sure).
Matt Mills: Standing—-
Mortgomery Byrnes: Whoa. Stop right there.
Matt Mills: What’s wrong?
Mortgomery Byrnes: It’s obvious that the PRIME media is decidedly against all things G.A.S. up to and includin’ yours truly. Thereunto, we have decided to employ our own interviewer. So, you would be so kind as to fuck off, and allow my friend here the opportunity to audition and who knows, maybe you’ll learn somethin’.
The ALIAS Champion nudges Matt Mills off camera and replacing him is a short (five-eight short, short for Morty short). The shortish man with the slicked back blonde hair, pale-to-the-point-of-being-almost-an-albino, has a fashion sense can only be described as Ultra-Slim Tropical – khakis, sandals, and a bright orange tropical shirt with yellow palm trees. He speaks with an indistinguishable accent.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Please welcome, Johnnie Newsman!
Johnnie Newsman: Actually, it’s Juan.
Mortgomery Byrnes: You don’t look like a Juan.
Johnnie Newsman: It’s a long story involving insurgents, tyrannical warlords, civil unrest, and an escape across border resulting in massive bloodbath. It’s super-boring, t-b-h. But we aren’t here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about you, Mister Alias Champion.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Thank you, Johnnie.
Johnnie Newsman: Can I just say…I love the suit. The color, fantastic. There. I said it.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Thanks Johnnie. It’s called Ninety-Eight Blue.
Johnnie Newsman: It gets a hundred from me. A-plus. Now, it’s really super-exciting to be here with you, a member of G.A.S.! It’s…I’m gonna say it….you can’t stop me….no one can stop me….It’s a “Gas” to be here next to you. Tony Gamble, super awesome guy. What’s it like to work with him?
Mortgomery Byrnes: It’s somethin’ that took gettin’ used to but look at me now. A fuckin’ success story.
Johnnie Newsman: But, not many people feel the same way In fact, one might say, they are completely against you.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Absolutely.
Johnnie Newsman: They’re giant shit mountains if you ask me. In fact, they hate you so much they refuse to admit that aside from that battle royal, you are undefeated in 2023.
Montgomery Byrnes: Pretty fucked up, ain’t it?
Johnnie Newsman: Totes fucked up considering how huge accomplishment it is.
Mortgomery Byrnes: It is, Johnnie. And yeah, no one seems to want to acknowledge that. It’s very disrespectful knowin’ my hard work goes unappreciated. Look at where I was a year ago and look at where I am now. Where’s my recognition, huh? Where’s the praise? It’s fuckin’ hurtful.
Johnnie Newsman: O-M-G, that’s awful. Don’t worry, I will cry on the inside so you don’t have to. Your “hitlist”, if I can call it that….the list of names you have eliminated from competing for your ALIAS Championship….Wow. All I can say.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Ned Reform, Kenny Fuckpants, Darin Zion, Eddie Cross, Rodney Leon, they were outmatched and, in the case of Darin Zion, he just got unlucky. Sucks to be him. I beat’em all. And am I in the same conversation as Vickie Fuckin’ Hall, Brandon Youngblood, or even Anna Daniels? No. Why? Gamble Bias, that’s why. These jealous fucks are greener than that Kermit Frog. They say it ain’t easy bein’ green, but it ain’t a fuckin’ picnic bein’ me.
Johnnie Newsman: I can tell. It’s really annoying. I notice you forgot to mention Kohime Mori when going down your list of conquered opponents…..
Mortgomery Byrnes: Did I? Clearly, I miscommunicated. She is, of course, included in the list of those, who, I might remind everyone, will never, as long as I hold this championship, get another shot at it. But that’s in the past.
Johnnie Newsman: I was really pulling for you and Kohime but given choice between her and Tony Gamble? You made right decision. It looks like we’re running out of time, I just have two more questions for you before I let you go.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Go ahead.
Johnnie Newsman: If I get privilege of doing this again, can I get different name? Johnnie Newsman? So blah. Instead, can I get something that kicks balls? Like Johnnie Tsunami or something?
Mortgomery Byrnes: I’ll have to ask Tony and we’ll prognosticate the possibility of a return based on the performance of which you have given today and, if we make the decision to bring you on again, we will discuss the potential of givin’ you a different name de plum.
Johnnie Newsman: That’s super awesome, thank you. Now, finally, tell us what you have coming up. Everyone wants to know.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Unless Lindsay Troy continues this crucible to eliminate any successes of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate by forcin’ another opponent onto me, my next match should be against the motherless fuck that eliminated me from that Culture Shock battle royal, Abe Lick-shits!
Johnnie Newsman: Oh! Very clever! Because he is called Abe the Babe after the little piggie because he is pig with the shits.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Who’s the clever one now?
Johnnie Newsman: No, no, nooooo…I just drew inspiration from you because, come on now, you’re you and he gave eggs to the Cancer Jiles which, in my village growing up, a big no-no. You give another man eggs, you get your weiner chopped off. Yeah, they cut it right off.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Um…okay, anyway, Abe Little Piggie Fuckface got lucky. Right place, right time, circumstances put that prick into a particularly situationally advantageous moment where managed to blindside me and, and I use this term looser than a two dollar whore, earned a shot at my ALIAS Championship. But it’s a gamble, takiin’ me on. See, Abe fucked up. He thought he was just gettin’ a shot. But this is gonna be his only shot. And I ain’t just gonna beat him. I’m gonna pound that douchey fuckin’ face of him so bad, they won’t be able to tell the difference between him and the fuckin’ Elephant Man’s bloated, drowned, decomposed corpse.
Johnnie Newsman: I love that movie. Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Fantastic. But I don’t think he drowned.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Not helpin’ your chances, Johnnie.
Johnnie Newsman: Even if I sexed the pooch, I had a great time, for reals. Thank you.
Johnnie Newsman extends his hand to Mortgomery Byrnes who looks at it and walks off leaving Johnnie Newsman smiling and to, perchance, dream of a career as G.A.S.’s personal interviewer and Matt Mills to process what he just saw as the scene ends.
We then cut to elsewhere backstage.
As ReVival keeps on keeping on, we find ourselves in one of our many jaunts to the backstage area. The Glueminati locker room is a bit more tightly packed than it was at the last show, is that due to Sid Philip’s significant girth? I’ll never say.
Anyway, while TAB is tied up probably cackling about something with his grandpappy and FLAMBERGE is out chasing a small fly that caught his line of sight a few minutes back, so instead we have just Cecilworth Farthington, Sid Philips and Joe Fontaine. Just three innocent dudes being guys. Cecilworth looks up from his well-jabbed telephonular device for a few seconds and decides that it’s probably worthwhile to start conversation as he slowly pulls out his gear from his bag, ahead of tonight’s big main event.
Cecilworth Farthington: Lads! Lovely to see you as always. I assume you both had magnificent weekends. I went to Mexico and threw a book at a man, which was rather therapeutic if I’m honest with you.
Joe Fontaine: Sweet! Me and Sid won some tag team titles!
Cecilworth looks at the shiny metal that sits between Joe and Sid on the bench.
Cecilworth Farthington: Of course you did! Never had any doubts of your tag team victory.
Cecilworth coughs for no real reason.
Cecilworth Farthington: Anyway.
Joe Fontaine: Anyway! Uh. Big night tonight! The biggest of nights! Biggerer? Nah. Probably not the right syntax for that word, is it?
Sid Phillips: I can’t with you.
Joe Fontaine: I mean, you can and you are, syntaxually speaking.
Sid Phillips: That’s not even a word. You just made that up. I can see the red line underneath it.
Joe Fontaine: No, you can’t. We’re talking to each other like two – sorry, Farthy, I mean three – cool dudes, as cool dudes would have human conversations. If you want, though, we could talk about the weather. I’m sure that’ll excite you.
Sid Phillips: Anything but that, please.
Maybe Joe and Sid would continue to bicker like the old married couple of brothers-in-law that they are until the end of time, but they do share space with another man, who coughs again.
Cecilworth Farthington: Speaking of red lines… I think we draw a big ole one of those tonight. Tonight, in tag team grappling action, we establish what the new era of PRIME is going to look like by taking down the old guard… and associates. Pesky associates.
Joe Fontaine: I wouldn’t mind taking the middle-aged guard down a few pegs, too, really. Just a lot of guards being broken in general. An all-around festival of guard-breaking.
Cecilworth Farthington: I mostly reserve my rage for the very old and the very poor. I can probably find a bit of space for middle-aged Russia victims though.
Sid nervously adjusts the tie on his very well-tailored suit.
Sid Phillips: How poor are we talking?
Cecilworth Farthington: You know it when you see it.
Joe Fontaine: So, Rezin?
Cecilworth thinks about this for a second, in a “The Thinker” level of deepitude and thoughtreadyness.
Cecilworth Farthington: I think that dude does it out of choice… and I don’t know how to feel about that.
Sid Phillips: I suggest that you should feel powerbombs. Uh, I mean, not that you should take them, ‘cause we’re all friends here. Just a general powerbomby feeling.
Cecilworth stops in his tracks and looks up and down at Sid, clearly having a “oh, I made this happen” moment of brief regret, but it is still very undeterred by the whole thing.
Cecilworth Farthington: Ya know who could do with some powerbombs? Brando and The Cal-van. I mean for a start, when even is Cal and how do you load it into a van? Exactly, thank you!
Joe rolls his shoulders, a motion that seems all too dangerous considering the expression on his face on the mention of “The Cal-van”.
Joe Fontaine: Farthy? I don’t want to load Cal into a van. I want to load her into an ambulance. Maybe one with the tires slashed by a nice cartoonish Russian man.
Cecilworth Farthington: You’re right, we should continue to get the Russian and the drone owner to all of our heavy lifting. It’s worked out so far! People are WAY madder at them… although I’m not giving Alexei my fucking number. No way, no how.
Sid Phillips: Seems unwise.
Joe Fontaine: That man knows how to use Google. Russian Google.
Cecilworth Farthington: Ruslan google.
Cecilworth chuckles to himself, it doesn’t really feel like he earned it if I’m honest with you.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, shit.
Joe seems awed. Sid… less so, judging from the palm on his forehead.
Sid Phillips: Did we have, I don’t know… a plan for dealing with the Deadbeat Suplex Dad and Lady Calzone? Because I know what my plan is, and I’m not even in the match.
Cecilworth Farthington: That’s very easy when your entire plan is “powerbomb”.
Cecilworth stops dead in his tracks for a second.
Cecilworth Farthington: In saying that, my entire plan is “choke someone”, so I’m not all that more creative when I think about it.
Sid Phillips: We could combine the two. There is, after all, such a thing as a “choke bomb”.
Cecilworth Farthington: Is this a no DQ match?
Joe and Sid don’t reply, instead sharing an awkward look between them.
Cecilworth Farthington: Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. So, Joe, how are you at the ole referee razzle dazzle?
Joe Fontaine: So, the problem with getting trained by a stupid idiot goody-two-shoes is that I’ve never done it before.
Cecilworth throws a fatherly arm around Joe and gives him a reassuring smile.
Cecilworth Farthington: I have so much to teach both of you.
Sid Phillips: Does it involve powerb–
Joe immediately puts a hand up to Sid’s mouth and shushes him.
Joe Fontaine: No, honey. No.
Cecilworth Farthington: It does involve good quality powerbombs but that’s why Joe’s role is so important…
Cecilworth’s “hug” is a little tighter now and he leans in closely to Joe, Cecilworth’s eyes quickly dart back to the ACE Network cameras, who, valuing the continued use of their collective arms, slowly start to leave The Glueminati’s locker room.
GAVE IS SUCH A STRONG WORD
The scene is one that we’ve seen play out countless times in the history of PRIME. Angelica Brooks, the lead member of our intrepid news team, stands with a microphone in her hand in front of a simple backdrop.
Angelica Brooks: My guest at this time is one half of the longest reigning Tag Team champions in PRIME history, and tonight will be competing in her first main event without her traditional partner.
Tonight the subject of her attention is Justine Calvin.
Angelica Brooks: Justine, you’ve found yourself in the crosshairs of Ivan Stanislav and his Red Army over the last few months, first with his comments backstage, and then two weeks ago when things escalated to a whole new level. Could you give us a little insight into what this has been like for you?
Justine stands already dressed to compete. You might not know it to look at her, but on the inside she’s a flood of emotion. While part of her works to get in the right mindset for competition, still another part has to remain hypervigilant against whatever locker room threat tries to descend upon her this week. If there’s anything she’d learned in the year that she’s been here, it’s that you’re never truly safe.
Justine Calvin: That… that wasn’t a good time, and that’s about the nicest way I can say it. I know he likes to throw his weight around; use his size to push people into getting his way. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re four times as big as the person you’re trying to intimidate, I guess. Two weeks ago there was a plan in place, and they executed it perfectly. I’ll give them that. I don’t think anyone likes to have control taken away from them, but being stuck there not able to do anything was… Yeah. That was awful. You know, I’ve been trying to process it, but even now I still don’t know that I have the words for it.
Angelica Brooks: Medical reports after that attack have been sparse to say the least. Is there anything that you’re able to share with us about the health of either Jared or yourself?
Justine’s right hand reflexively, perhaps instinctively, reaches for her left and begins massaging the taped wrist.
Justine Calvin: I had a pretty nasty cut from the cuffs. No infection or anything like that. Thankfully it didn’t go deep enough to do any muscle or tendon damage. Feels well enough that I shouldn’t have any problem hitting anybody, if that’s what folks are concerned with.
Justine Calvin: About all I can say, really.
Angelica Brooks: And tonight you’re stepping into the ring against the newly-christened “Glueminati” in Cecilworth Farthington and Joe Fontaine.
Justine Calvin: Yep.
Despite the omnipresent danger that a locker room like this can present, she can’t help but to smile.
Justine Calvin: You know, I’ve been thinking about this recently. Joe and Sid, they got to learn from one of the best wrestlers of this generation in Coral Avalon, and they threw that all away when they didn’t get what they wanted fast enough. So now they’ve aligned themselves with Farthington, a world-class talent in his own right, and what’s the first thing that happens? Come up short again when it matters. I thought maybe I should send something nice to Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr for walking out of PWA-2 with those titles, because oh my god the expression on the Winds’ faces when that was over. Different mentor, same outcome, and now those boys are Joe-and-three when it counts. Thanks for the laugh, guys. Your girl needed it.
Angelica Brooks: As we all know, Joe Fontaine is someone you’re very familiar with, but this will be your first time in a ring with Cecilworth Farthington.
Justine draws a long breath and lets it out slowly, nodding to herself before she starts her answer.
Justine Calvin: It will, yeah. I wasn’t blowing smoke when I said he was world-class. The man has the pedigree and the list of accolades to back it up. My style doesn’t match-up so great next to his, so I need to be careful about overextending and getting caught. He’s a dangerous man in his own right, but now he’s got a collection of lost children to watch his back which means there’s a numbers game to worry about. But here’s the thing… I’m not going out there alone. Tonight I’m going to be standing side-by-side with the PRIME Universal Champion, which means I’ve got the best wrestler in the world watching my back. I hope those guys like suplexes, because they’re about to learn a few first-hand.
Angie nods and raises the microphone again, then stops as a third figure enters the frame. Jared Sykes looks quite relaxed for a man who’s spent the better part of the last few months as the target for a very large, very angry Russian. He’s dressed in street clothes tonight. One hand is buried in the pocket of his hoodie, but the other twirls a set of keys attached to a large metal ring.
Jared Sykes: Sorry to interrupt. Need to borrow Justine, if that’s cool.
It’s the first thing his partner notices.
Justine Calvin: I feel like I should be worried right now. Should I be worried? Who gave you their keys?
Jared Sykes: “Gave” is such a stro-
He cuts himself off when he sees the glare aimed in his direction. It’s not uncommon for him to refer to her eyes as “The Death Star,” both because of their tractor beam-like qualities, and also their ability to destroy a planet.
Jared Sykes: Yeah, you know what? Let’s go with “gave”. “Gave” works.
Justine Calvin: Jared.
Jared Sykes: It’s going to be fine, I swear. (pause) I think.
Now wide-eyed and nervous, Justine turns back to Angie.
Justine Calvin: I’m sorry, but I think I need to cut this short. I think something’s about to go sideways. Call it a hunch, or intuition, or… whatever.
The grin on Jared’s face does little to assuage her concerns. For her part Angie simply nods.
Jared Sykes: Sideways… Sideways might work, now that you mention it.
His grin blooms into a full-blown smile, which is disconcerting on its own. But it’s his next words that send a shiver screaming the length of Justine’s spine. To anyone who knows him well enough, it’s the scariest thing he can ever possibly say.
Jared Sykes: Relax. I have an idea.
And with that, we fade to the ringside area.
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: NATE COLTON vs. NOVA
The lights cut out in the Footprint Center, and a stormy sky appears on the video screen.
As thunder booms over the speakers and lightning lights up the darkened clouds on-screen, George Clinton’s voice can be heard speaking in soft, reverberating tones.
Mother Earth is pregnant for the third time…for y’all have knocked her up. I have tasted the maggots in the mind of the universe; but I was not offended, for I knew I had to rise above it all…or drown in my own shit.
The stormy sky fades, replaced by a field of stars. One of the stars shoots across the screen, and as the field of stars comes together to form the name of the PRIME icon.
Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” powers on.
Vince Howard: This bout is scheduled for one fall, and has a thirty minute time limit…with the winner ADVANCING to the Tropical Turmoil Match! Introducing first…from parts unknown…standing six feet three inches and weighing in at two hundred forty pounds…he is a PRIME Hall of Famer…one of the longest reigning Universal Champions in PRIME history…his accolades are numerous…he is the RIIIIISEN STAR! He is…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOVA!
At this moment, a spotlight hits the entrance ramp where Nova is knelt, one fist raised in the air. Smoke wafts up from the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, swirling iridescently under the hot glare of the spotlight. After a moment, the Risen Star climbs to his feet and makes his way down to the ring, rolling under the bottom rope before standing.
The lights of the Footprint Center once again go out.
The fans erupt in anticipation, and soon their energy is rewarded as the PRIMEView springs to life. On a field of white, three words appear
These fade away, replaced by a logo. It’s the letter C in the shape of a diamond, with a smaller N inside. The logo is framed by the name.
A classic rock riff signals the beginning of “Tryin’” by the Eagles, and the Kansas City fans give out a raucous cheer. Moments later, Nate Colton emerges from the curtain. He holds his arms up high, showing off his blue satin jacket–his family name emblazoned on the back; his first name stitched on the front.
Nate walks quickly to the ring, stopping periodically to point at groups of cheering fans, or waving his arms to hype up the crowd.
Vince Howard: His opponent…hailing from Evansville Indiana…weighing in at two-hundred fifty-five pounds…he is the Next Diamond! He is the former PRIME Five Star Champion! He is…NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE! COOOOOOOOOOOOOOLTON!
He climbs the steps, ducks between the top and middle ropes, and enters the ring. He heads directly to his corner and undoes his jacket, showing off his gear–white trunks that reach his upper thigh with a blue stripe down the side, white boots with blue trim, white MMA gloves, and blue elbow and knee pads. After handing his jacket to a ring attendant, he makes another appeal to the fans.
The music fades.
Referee Jimmy Turnbull calls for the bell.
Nick Stuart: And we are underway here with this Tropical Turmoil Match qualifier…the former 5 Star Champion, Nate Colton, looking to rebound after what many would consider and upset at the hands of Coral Avalon…
Richard Parker: Bet Avalon is regretting that now…given that he’s been abandoned by the Winds of Change for greener pastures…
Nick Stuart: I sincerely doubt that’s the case.
Richard Parker: Well Coral sabotaged them. If it wasn’t for him, they’d be PRIME Forever Tag Team Champions. And he did it to two people who looked up to him. He betrayed them. A real Judas move if ever there was one.
Nick Stuart: And across from him is the Hall of Famer, the Risen Star…
Richard Parker: Falling star.
Nick Stuart: Richard–
Richard Parker: Like splat. Like yeeted into the ozone by Ivan Stanislav. And brutalized by Paxton Ray.
Nick Stuart: And how much of that has to do with Hoyt–
Richard Parker: Don’t you DARE take the Lord’s name in vain!
Nick Stuart: Nova is in a bit of a valley. But he’s been there before. We saw that at UltraViolence just a few months ago…nobody thought he had a legitimate chance to defeat Brandon Youngblood, but he defied the odds and got the biggest win of his ReVival career.
Richard Parker: Flukes happen. And then the ball rolls over.
Colton and Nova size each other up, The Risen Star looking up to the Next Diamond. They quickly tie up, with Nate muscling Nova into the ropes, requiring Jimmy Turnbull to call for the clean break. Perhaps it’s a surprise to the former Universal Champion because of what he has been facing recently, but the clean break happens, Colton backing up a few steps before beckoning him forward. Nova obliges, another tight collar and elbow tie up turning into a side headlock from Colton, his hands locking stiff, Nova’s fingers grabbing at the grip. Small joint manipulation allows him to break things up, and, with Colton going for another tie up, he is caught off guard by a deep armdrag takeover.
Nate Colton bounces back to his feet quickly, but Nova is on the scene, throwing himself and hitting another arm drag. The Next Diamond is back to his feet quickly, but not before getting hit with a running dropkick that drives him into the corner.
Nick Stuart: Nova has shown, even if some think his best days are behind him, that he is able to hit with the best of them.
Colton tries to collect himself, but Nova is charging in on him, trying to keep the momentum going. A flying body splash should connect. Should. But The Next Diamond catches him in flight, burying him into the canvas with a stiff STO that shakes the ring. A lateral press quickly follows.
Colton isn’t surprised by this, grabbing onto a chinlock on the Risen Star. Nova fights back to his feet, trying to get those hands off him, but this time, he struggles. It isn’t until he hits a few elbows backward that he’s able to get some relief, and when he does, he hooks Colton’s arm, hiptossing him back to the canvas. Colton tries to scramble, but is hit in the back of the head with a jumping calf kick to the back of the head. Nova then bounces off the ropes, launching from the bottom rope over with a body splash. He hooks the leg.
Nick Stuart: Lot’s of action to start this one off!
Richard Parker: There is a snap to everything. Which is surprising. I mean, Nova is technically dead, and have you seen the pictures of that number following Colton around?
Nick Stuart: Richard…it’s unprofessional to–
Richard Parker: That woman could dance the Charleston…she could beatbox…she could be filming videos shaving her armpits. Doesn’t change anything. Still hot. Indiana boy punching WAAAAY out of his league.
Nick Stuart: I would be remiss to not mention that we here in PRIME do not condone the reporting of one Savannah Scandal in regards to all this.
Richard Parker: Lather them up with Barbasol and just go to town. Someone will pay for it. Not me. Definitely not me. Not even if done with a cheap pink razor.
All this weird fetish talk totally didn’t happen on air, especially not as Colton tries to shake the cobwebs from the blow of the kick. Nova is up, and, with a seated Nate, he throws a kick that sounds throughout the Footprint Center. Lots of ooowies there. A close shave. Wait…no…nothing about that. After all, it isn’t beautiful woman armpits. SO ANYWAYS…Nova goes and hits another kick, and another. Chopping the big ole Hoosier tree. The red outline covers Colton’s chest. He grimaces. Not Grimace. It’s his birthday month. Purple shake purple shake purple shake. Sorry. Must’ve gotten into Nov’s secret stash. Keef Big Mac’s are probably a thing with him, especially after eating a lot of prison food.
Another kick, but this time, Nate Colton begins to rise. The next kick fires out, lashing across his chest. The Next Diamond begins shaking his balled fists, as if demanding another. And this time, Nova aims for the head. Colton ducks it. And on the spin?
Nick Stuart: EXPLODER SUPLEX FROM NATE COLTON! COVER!
Colton isn’t stopping, yanking The Risen Star back up with him, hitting a back suplex. No pin attempt. He’s booking it as Nova struggles to get up. WATCH OUT! FLYING HOOSIER COW! HOOSIER DADDY RUNNING FOREARM TO THE HEAD! IT’S A THING! TOTALLY A THING! IT’S NOW IN NATE COLTON’S BIO! HOOSIER. DADDY. I’M HILARIOUS! What isn’t hilarious is how scrambled Nova seems to be from the blow, the velocity, the weight. I mean, the bit isn’t funny either, but hey, the move looks nasty when it’s hit so snuggly.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton making Nova have to expend extra energy with all these kickouts, forcing him never get a breather.
Richard Parker: I am sure it’s not like Nater has been busy getting close with–
Nick Stuart: Richard.
Richard Parker: What?
Nick Stuart: Stop. It.
Richard Parker: What?
Nick Stuart: You know what. This is a match up between a Hall of Famer and one of PRIME’s young star studs. One of these men could very well be in the main event of UltraViolence vying for the Universal Championship. And here you are, wilding out in the open.
Richard Parker: Wilding?
Nick Stuart: Google it.
Richard Parker: Alright alright…both these men, despite the feeling of latent respect shared given their cornball whitebreadedness…they’ve been throwing some heavy volleys at the other. And it’s clear just how much that shot could mean to both men.
Colton brings Nova back to his feet, whipping into the near corner. With a charge, he launches himself driving his whole body into Nova’s with a Colton Splash. The follow up? The Next Diamond grabs onto Nova, perching him on the top rope.
Richard Parker: Uh oh…
Nick Stuart: Risky maneuver possibly coming up…
Richard Parker: A game changer or a game loser.
Nate Colton begins to climb the ropes, and when he gets up, he latches onto Nova. It’s obvious what he’s going for; a superplex. He grabs a handful of his opponent’s waistband, and goes to lift him up, but Nova manages to deadweight and block the momentum. Another try is met with a headbutt. And another and another. Nate Colton has no chance but to let go. He nearly falls backwards from the top, but manages to regain his balance. In the meantime? Trying to reset position, Nova manages to get him with a double underhook.
Nick Stuart: DOUBLE ARM DDT FROM THE TOP ROPE!
Richard Parker: OH MY HOYT!
Nick Stuart: WHAT A MOVE! WHAT AN UPSET! NOVA WITH THE COVER! HE’S GOING TO TROPICAL TURMOIL AND HAS A CHANCE TO REWRITE THAT CHAPTER OF HIS CAREER! COVER!
Turnbull’s hand hits the canvas, but at the very last second, and I mean, the last possible second, Nate Colton kicks out.
Nick Stuart: OH MY! OH MY! NATE COLTON IS STILL ALIVE!
Richard Parker: HIS BRAINS HAVE TO BE SCRAMBLED!
That’s for Turnbull, right?
Richard Parker: YES! HOYT WILLIAMS HAS ARRIVED! ALL PRAISE TO HOYT, BOTH THE FATHER AND SON, AND CECILWORTH THE HOLY GHOST!
Hoyt’s saunter has yet to catch Nova’s attention. He’s too busy climbing the top rope, looking to punch his ticket to Tropical Turmoil. But Jimmy Turnbull sees. Sees as Hoyt gets onto the ring apron. He admonishes him, trying to clear him out before any chicanery takes place. But Hoyt makes no fuss. His hands are out, his words carrying no malice at all, he just wants to see things up close and personal. Or maybe there’s something more being said, something a lot more witty and charismatic, because that’s the MO of Your Most Photogenic Personal Savior. What’s that scent in the air? Does Jimmy of The Cholera or the Typhoid? Is he The Oregon Trail Man? The GQ Christ reaches out, and ensures Jimmy’s deteriorating health is stopped cold in its tracks.
Nick Stuart: The Faith Heal Touch! Oh no!
Richard Parker: What are you Oh Noing, Nick? It’s the REVIVAL BAAAAAAYBEE! And what would the ReVival if it didn’t get a little Pentecostal?
Turnbull falls to the canvas, stiff as a board.
And out of the crowd, the Brothers. Brother Privilege shoves Nova from the top rope, causing him to crash into the canvas. Staggering to his feet, Brother Hypocrisy absolute obliterates him with The Golden Bible.
Nick Stuart: HOYT WILLIAMS AND HIS LACKEYS HAVE RUINED THIS MATCH!
Richard Parker: No…they’ve SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVED it!
The damage done, Hoyt smirks his thousand watt snake oil smile and beckons his minions to part with him. There is no sea rising, just a chorus of boos.
Nick Stuart: And…and…Nate Colton is starting to rise.
Richard Parker: Nova is right off a bender on Bourbon Street…spaghetti legged and barely holding together.
Colton doesn’t ask any questions, foggy from the top rope double arm DDT he suffered. He just grabs onto Nova, taking him out with a russian legsweep.
Nick Stuart: This…I’m so sad about this…
Jimmy Turnbull is coming to. He rises from the ring, a spring in his step. A wide smile on his face. Euphoria. He could wrestle a tiger. It’s like he’s been kissed by his deepest crush after she’s confessed she loves him. Colton keeps up, hitting an inverted suplex. Nova has no defense. Nor does he when Colton follows up with a ring rattling Colton Clutch Suplex.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner! And advancing…to THE TROOOOOOOOOOOOPICAL! TURMOOOOOOOOIL! MAAAAAAAAATCH! NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE! COOOOOOOOOOOOOLTON!
Nick Stuart: It’s a damn shame this match had to end this way.
Richard Parker: I don’t think so. Sinners must be punished…
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton, when he finds out about this…he’s going to be livid. And Nova? I imagine he can’t wait to get his hands on Hoyt and put an end to this once and for all.
We then cut to a commercial.
COMMERCIAL: HOW’S OUTBACK BRAWL
LOVE IN THE NAME OF STOP
We come back from commercial to…backstage. Specifically, the hallway leading from the locker rooms to the Argyle Position. There’s a camera operator who hangs out here for every show, on the off chance of a confrontation that needs to be filmed.
Dunno why we bring that up; it probably won’t happen. Put it out of your mind.
One thing that does happen, is Nate Colton walking down the hallway. He is covered in sweat and frustration, because he just had a match and isn’t happy about how it ended.
He probably won’t have the energy for another confrontation, so don’t get your hopes up.
Anyway, he’s walking to the back…and from the far end of the hall, who does he see walking forth?
Vickie Hall, front and center, leading the way towards gorilla. Behind her?
Jonathan-Christopher, of course.
Vickie speaks to her ALP without realizing anyone else is headed her way.
Vickie Hall: Now my dearest honey bunch of oats, remember, use your speed and your smarts. You’re better than Ivan in every way except his size and strength.
Jonathan-Christopher’s face suggests that’s a lot working in Ivan’s favor. Needless to say, the duo approach Colton, but Vickie still hasn’t noticed him.
Nate Colton: Hey, man. Good luck out there.
Well, now Vickie notices him.
Nate Colton: God knows Ivan needs to be brought down a peg.
She stares at Nate. Then smiles warmly.
Vickie Hall: He does need to be knocked down a peg.
Vickie reaches out and takes her man’s arm. You can immediately see a sense of security cross Jonathan-Christopher’s face.
Vickie Hall: It’s good my man has his woman by his side, isn’t it?
Vickie takes her attention towards JCH. She leans back so she can look up at him, then she lets her hair fly freely as she lets out a cackle.
Vickie Hall: Sometimes we fall in love with the wrong person. Like a scandalous, disgusting belly dancer. Gosh golly, could you imagine if I was trailer park trash like that?
It takes Nate a moment to catch on… that Vickie may be talking about who he’s currently seeing.
Nate Colton: The hell is that–
Vickie Hall: I guess she’s not “that” kind of dancer but you never know, Jonathan-Christopher. You never know, ya know?
She wraps her arms around him and digs her head into his chest. Obviously, Jonathan-Christopher loves this physical connection.
Meanwhile, Colton’s blood is starting to boil. This is pretty common when dealing with Vickie Hall, but this seems even quicker than usual.
Vickie Hall: I’m glad we know everything about each other.
She takes an extremely brief moment to shift her eyes to Nate as she says this, and then slips her eyes back into her ALP’s chest.
Vickie Hall: Because I am not a gross little whore who’s in need of a man to latch onto.
A hand slams into the wall, inches from Vickie’s face. Colton locks eyes with Jonathan-Christopher, his face turning red in an instant. A moment ago, he was looking completely worn out from the fight he’d just finished. Now he’s more than willing to start another.
Nate Colton: You don’t ever say that about her.
His voice is barely above a whisper, but it carries an edge. It is the calmness found on the far side of rage. While the words meant one thing, Nate Colton’s tone, his expression…they mean the exact opposite.
Say it again. I goddamn dare you.
Vickie slowly peels her face of Jonathan-Christopher, taking another super split second to notice Nate Colton… then she drags her man towards gorilla.
Vickie Hall: Come along, my dear. The Goofy Russian Bear awaits! We cannot be late! More important things are in front of our path!
…Leaving Nate Colton to shake his head. It takes a few moments and several deep breaths, but finally he lowers his hand.
Nate Colton: What a miserable little–
Let’s cut away before we get in trouble with the censors.
KENNY FREEMAN ADDRESSES HIS ENEMIES
We cut back to ringside, but NOT because of our next Tropical Turmoil Qualifier bout. Instead, the trap remix of the Soviet National Anthem starts playing over the sound system…much to the chagrin of the crowd inside the Footprint Center, as they begin booing the arrival of Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz onto the stage.
Nick Stuart: Looks like the Masters of the Moscowverse have something to say ahead of Ivan Stanislav’s match against Jonathan Christopher-Hall…which might explain why the Russian Bear is not out here with his new Red Army recruits!
Richard Parker: Well, the big rumor going ‘round is that this is all about one thing and one thing only, Nick.
Richard motions to the graphic up on the PRIMEview, clearly indicating the intentions of this time as the Masters continue down the ramp to the ring, Kenny pushing the wheelchair of the Entertainer as the latter waves annoyingly at the crowd.
Richard Parker: See?
Nick Stuart: This joke has officially gone too far. Also, Randall competed at PWA-02 last weekend, why is he back in the chair again?
Kenny and Randall make it to the ring, where Kenny helps Randall to his feet, the duo entering the ring as the Entertainer leans against the nearest turnbuckle while Kenny gets a microphone from ringside. The crowd are quick to keep him from speaking at first…but once enough of the heat has died off, he presses on.
Kenny Freeman: We good, Phoenix? We get that out of our system yet?
The crowd responds with a resounding no in the form of even more jeers, much to Kenny’s amusement as he continues.
Kenny Freeman: Well that’s too damn bad, ‘cause I’ve got a LOT on my mind. See, Randall and I just had the weekend of our lives down in ol’ Mexico, beating the Kings of the Wild Things That Make My Heart Sing and helping our pal Ivan Stanislav stop the menace that is HOW.
This, naturally, gets a bit of a better reaction from the crowd…they may not like Stanislav, but fighting off an opposing promotion? That’s just heroic.
Kenny Freeman: So, let’s get this ball rolling. Lemme start off by addressing the Winds of Change, two men who have saddled up onto the horse headed straight for glue and doom…I mean, gloom and doom…but didn’t quite have the sack to take home the PWA Tag Team Championship when the time was right. That’s okay, you two, enjoy figuring out how you’re gonna powerbomb your way back into relevance because those belts WILL get to PRIME…but it’ll be thanks to the Masters of the Moscowverse!
This gets a mixed reaction from this Phoenix crowd, some in favor of the titles coming to PRIME in the near future but a large majority just not vibing with either the Winds or the Masters. Nonetheless, Kenny persists.
Kenny Freeman: That said, I think I will instead turn my attention to the real core of my anger…Jared Sykes.
This manages to swing the crowd back around, as they cheer on the Dragonslayer. This does NOT impress Kenny as he continues, shaking his head at the crowd.
Kenny Freeman: Ah nah nah, I won’t stand for any of that now. Since my buddy Randall and I joined the Red Army, a lot of people have been asking the same question…why’d ya do it? Why did you go and shack up with Ivan Stanislav? Well, lemme set the record straight on something. I did NOT shack up with anyone…I simply saw that what Ivan and Alexei were offering was a good deal, and I took it. And part of that deal? Getting my hands on Jared Sykes!
The crowd boos, but Kenny pays them no mind at this point.
Kenny Freeman: Jared, here’s something I want you to think long and hard about as you continue to recover from the mess we left you in a couple weeks ago. We had our battles in the past, and when you were King Blueberry you sure as hell showed me and Randall up to retain the PRIME tag belts back in the day…but look at you now, trying your damnedest to succeed as something other than a King of Popsicles. Look where it’s gotten you.
We can hear the crowd chanting Jared’s name now, something Kenny allows to transpire just long enough to cut into it with his final remarks.
Kenny Freeman: But I’m just dying to know, what are you without that mask Jared? Just a man…and a man can be beaten. That’s all, that’s the message. Masters…out!
Kenny drops the microphone, letting it bang against the canvas as he helps Randall out of the ring and into the wheelchair as the Soviet trap remix starts blaring once more to a chorus of boos from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: What in the world did we just witness, Richard?
Richard Parker: I think…I think Kenny Freeman just grew a pair, Nick. Love to see it…well, not to see his, well…ah, shit, I’m gonna get fined for this aren’t I?
We cut backstage and immediately hear boos as we see The Bayou Butcher, Paxton Ray, leaning against the wall. He looks more casual than usual – maybe because he doesn’t have a match tonight, or because he knows his ticket is booked for a Universal Title shot. In any case, he’s tossing something in the air and catching it, and as the camera man comes in a little closer, we see it is a balled up chain.
This little game happens a few more times before someone else enters the frame, causing the boos to instantly morph into cheers.
Jared Sykes is equally fidgety this evening, but in his case the object of his attention is a ring of keys that’s looped around his right index finger. There’s a rhythmic “spin, catch” to his movements with it, one that has him momentarily distracted from the destination his path backstage has taken him.
This isn’t the first time the two have shared space since Colossus, the battle royal at Culture Shock saw to that, but there’s no intimacy in a crowd of forty, and the worst moments shared between the two have always come when no one else is around. Common sense says that one should avoid the other like the plague, but the glint of mischief in Jared’s eyes says otherwise.
Jared Sykes: Paxton.
As Jared speaks, Paxton is in mid-chain toss. He looks up and catches the chain, then smirks.
Paxton Ray: Well if it ain’t the dead man.
Paxton looks up and down at Sykes, who despite being in street clothes can’t fully hide the damage he sustained two weeks ago at the hands of The Russian Bear.
Paxton Ray: Ya look like shit.
Jared Sykes: Maybe. Not feeling so hot either.
He shrugs then spins the keys in his hand one more time.
Jared Sykes: But I’ve got something in mind to set things right. Call it a “pick me up”.
Paxton nods, slowly pushing himself off the wall. He looks at the keys in Jared’s hands.
Paxton Ray: I think I know that look in your eye. You’re gonna do somethin’ stupid.
Paxton Ray: I’ll tell ya this. You’re a dumb son of a bitch, but you’re also a tough son of a bitch.
Jared stands frozen, his brow furrowed in curiosity. This is a man who paralyzed one of his closest friends in Jonathan Rhine, then did his level best to do the same to Jared in the weeks leading to Colossus.
Jared Sykes: Okay.
Memories of the last year begin to play out in Jared’s head. Not just in his dealings with Paxton last fall, but in the Love Convoy’s equally morbid attempts to take him out of the picture. Of everything Ivan Stanislav has inflicted both mentally and physically over the past month.
He balls his fist around the keys, letting the teeth dig into the palm of his hand. When he speaks next, any sense of civility is gone from his voice.
Jared Sykes: So what is this? Take me out of my game a little so that when the violence starts that I won’t see it coming? Trying to get inside my head before Tropical Turmoil? I promise if you start rooting around in there you won’t like what you find.
Again Paxton nods.
Paxton Ray: I ain’t dumb like people think, but I am simple. I ain’t one for mental warfare. I jus’ call it like I see it. You’re dumb, so I said so. An’ you’re tough, so I said so. But I don’t care if ya see it comin’ or not. Violence is comin’ for ya and the rest of ‘em in a couple’a weeks.
Jared snorts a humorless laugh.
Jared Sykes: Good luck with that. Tell you what. You keep a close eye on what happens tonight, then we’ll see how confident you feel.
Paxton opens his mouth to retort, perhaps to ask what Sykes is planning, when he looks past Jared and stops.
It’s…well, it’s complicated. But what is literally in Paxton’s eyeline is the man calling himself (but definitively not) Chandler Tsonda. You know, refer to the earlier seg for context. He’s a proxy for the real thing. The left AirPod remains.
Confused as they might be, the Phoenix crowd knows that on the other end of that AirPod is the voice of the real Chandler Tsonda. Still following? Great.
“Chandler Tsonda”: I’m Chandler Tsonda.
The Doppletsonda seems unsure of this and repeats it. Once more, with bravado.
“Chandler Tsonda”: I’m Chandler Tsonda. Of course I am! And you’re (taps earpiece) Paxton Ray, who I fucking hate. And you’re a grade-A cock. And I’m here to say: fuck you, man.
Jared doesn’t say anything. He looks first towards the imperTsondator, then to Paxton. Despite the history between them there’s a moment where the two are bonded by their shared confusion. An entire unspoken exchange takes place in the span of a glance.
“What the hell is this?”
“Fucked if I know.”
“Well, have fun with it.”
With his free hand Jared reaches out and taps the mimic on his shoulder. Good luck, buddy. You’re on your own.
Without a word the Dragonslayer turns and walks away. Paxton watches Sykes leave, snorts, then looks back at the man pretending to be Tsonda.
Paxton Ray: Ok, “Chandler.”
He doesn’t do the fake quotes thing with his fingers, but you can just hear it.
Paxton Ray: What else ya got?
“Chandler Tsonda”: Glad you asked. You’re probably used to getting by on fear and being generally intolerable. A whole locker room full of people either scared of you, or so scuzzed out by your swamp manners and crotch rot personality, that you can do what you want.
An awkward pause ensues. Clearly, the voice in the AirPod has told the Doppeltsonda to punctuate this next bit with a hand gesture. He sort of swings his arm like he’s using a telestrator.
“Chandler Tsonda”: But you don’t scare me. You can’t break me any worse than I’ve already been broken. I know a killer when I look him in the eye. And you? You ain’t no Lee Harvey Oswald, my boy.
Paxton Ray: Well yeah, because Oswald didn’t kill JFK. Read a book.
Paxton is still smiling, but there’s a hint of something underneath. Something that, if the man portraying Tsonda knew who he was talking to, would cause him to back away. Paxton takes another step towards the man.
Paxton Ray: I ain’t a shooter. If I wanted to take someone down I’d do it with my bare hands. An’ I have. Ask the voice on the other end’a that earpiece.
Perhaps it’s the sweat on his brow or the slight tapping of his toes, but it does not take a PhD in body language to detect the growing nervousness of the Not Tsuperstar.
“Chandler Tsonda”: Well, uhh, Chandler, I mean, me of course, I say that you and Nackedy got yourselves a nice win in the handicap match last week, and there’s no pissing over spilt milk, but you say the word and we go double or nothing in this bitch.
Doppeltsonda’s eyes go a little white with whatever is said next to him.
“Chandler Tsonda”: (mutters into his collar) Dude, no, I’m not gonna say that. This guy isn’t like some greased up fake wrestler with beach muscles. I think he’s some kind of violent psychopath, and maybe should be in jail? No way! If I call him a “piss poor excuse for a place to pour piss,” he’s, like, going to harm me.
Paxton’s grin grows wider and he takes two more steps towards the poseur until they are chest to chest.
Paxton Ray: That’s where you’re wrong, bucko. I don’t need ya t’say that to wanna harm ya.
Paxton raises his fist quickly and the Doppeltsonda flinches and cowers. He takes two big steps back, shielding his face with his arms. He talks fast, nervous as all hell in the presence of the genuinely intimidating Ray.
“Chandler Tsonda”: Please! I’ve got a family. Ok, I’ve got a dog. Ok, I have been seriously looking at some rescues. (to the voice on the phone) Sorry, dude. Not worth it, even for this pay day. This guy’s a sicko. He’ll break my face. (back to Paxton) I mean, no offense. You and Tsonda figure it out. I was never even here.
The not-ever-convincing Tsonda double chucks the left AirPod down onto the ground, and starts retreating with his hands raised. Once he’s about ten feet away, he turns and breaks into a dead sprint like the devil is chasing him.
Paxton watches him exit, then looks down at the AirPod. If the microphone on the camera were a little better, you’d probably be able to hear Chandler Tsonda plead with his lookalike to stand his ground. Paxton snarls and lifts his boot, then smashes down onto the AirPod.
Paxton Ray: Fuckin’ idiot.
We then cut to ringside.
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: IVAN STANISLAV vs. JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL
Nick Stuart: Well that was, um, interesting.
Richard Parker: I’m not a fan of Chandler Tsonda, but sending a stunt double in his place is actually a smart move when Paxton Ray is walking around.
Nick Stuart: Anyway, we’re moving on to our next match, which is for the fifth spot in our Tropical Turmoil match coming up in a couple of weeks. There has been some online back and forth between the managers of these competitors, but in just a few minutes we’ll settle it in the ring.
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith plays, and the fans immediately react as Jonathan-Christopher Hall emerges at the top of the ramp. Vickie Hall is in front of him, raising her arms, smiling, portraying the essence of confidence.
Her husband, however, doesn’t match her expression. He frowns as he follows her towards the ring, ignoring the taunts of the crowd. They both reach the ring and Hall slowly rolls under the ropes.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring, accompanied by Vickie Hall, he is a member of the Love Convoy…from Folsom, Louisiana and weighing in at 220 pounds…JONATHAN! CHRIIISTOPHERRRRRR! HAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!
The fans let out another round of boos as Hall stands up in the ring, looking at the entranceway stoically.
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir erupts as Ivan Stanislav emerges from the backstage area. Stanislav raises his arms, roars at the crowd, and pointedly makes his way towards the ring. Stanislav points and jaws at several fans along the way.
Nick Stuart: Alexei Ruslan is not here tonight, but Ivan looks unphased.
Stanislav steps over the top rope and thunders into the ring. He raises his arms over his head and bellows at the camera.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, from Arkhangelsk, Russia…weighing in at 400 pounds…IVAAAAAAAN STANNNNISSLLAAAAAAAAAAAV!
Ivan Stanislav steps towards Jonathan-Christopher Hall, who immediately ducks under his arms…and rolls out of the ring.
Sometimes when a bad guy does this sort of move, it is to rile up the crowd, to mess with his opponent, or a combination of both. But if you were to truly look into the Timid Tiger’s eyes, you would realize he did not exit the ring for either of those reasons.
Nick Stuart: Jonathan-Christopher Hall is terrified!
Richard Parker: Of course he is, because he’s smart! Ivan is terrifying! Hall isn’t being a coward – well, he is, but he’s being a smart coward!
Vickie Hall screams from the other side of the ring, trying to encourage her man to get back in the ring and take it to the Russian. Ivan, for his part, seems content to stand in the middle of the ring and laugh.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!!
Nick Stuart: I don’t want to cast aspersions on anyone’s character, even those who seem to warrant it, but it does seem like Jonathan-Christopher Hall wants absolutely no business with the seven foot tall monster in the ring right now. In fact, I’d guess that if it weren’t for his wife, he’d walk out right now and take the loss.
Richard Parker: Even with her encouragement it might not be enough. Here comes Elvis Nixon to do the honors!
Vickie has now walked all the way across the ring to confront her man as Elvis Nixon steps to the ropes and begins his count.
Vickie Hall: Get in there! Get him!
Vickie Hall: JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER! YOU HAVE TO DO THIS!
Slowly, the Timid Tiger’s resolve breaks, and Hall grimaces, putting his feet up on the apron. He climbs up to the apron…only to get obliterated by a big boot, sending him onto the floor below.
Nick Stuart: Could this end in only minutes?
Well, it could, Nick. But for it to end, Ivan Stanislav would have to be two things: shrewd, which he clearly is, and passive, which he clearly is not. Ivan does not wait for Elvis to call the match. Instead, he climbs out of the ring slowly, using the steps to descend as he stalks his prey.
His prey recovers quickly and, seeing Ivan coming for him, pops up on his feet. Vickie smiles, because this clearly means her man is ready for the fight. But instead Hall turns tail and runs.
Richard Parker: Get him Ivan!
The Russian Bear gives chase, jogging around the ring as Hall runs. He almost catches him at one of the turnbuckles, but Hall turns his shoulders to be right out of reach. He then slides under the ropes and into the ring. Ivan follows and is immediately set upon by boots to the head. They slow him for a second as Hall continues his assault.
Nick Stuart: JCH with the smart move to attack the big man before he gets back to his feet.
Richard Parker: There’s a problem with that strategy, Nick.
Nick Stuart: What’s that?
Richard Parker: Eventually he gets back on his feet.
This is true, Richard, and in this case it’s much faster than eventually. In fact, it’s now. Ivan stands and grabs Jonathan-Christopher Hall, lifting him into the air. As Ivan tries to choke the life out of the man from Folsom, JCH takes a wild swing with his leg, and while it doesn’t quite strike paydirt, it’s close enough to the groin area to get Ivan to drop him. JCH lands on his feet, then jumps back up and uppercuts Ivan, sending him back.
Nick Stuart: JCH is getting some offense in!
Richard Parker: Maybe he shouldn’t have been running!
Ivan stumbles and JCH presses his advantage, trapping the big man in the corner. But as JCH gets cocky and tries an actual wrestling move, he realizes that he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Ivan realizes it at the same time, and he pushes Hall to the ground.
Richard Parker: Never mind.
JCH hits the canvas roughly on his shoulder, skidding across the mat as Ivan stalks him. Hall slowly gets to his feet but is grabbed from behind by Stanislav, who effortlessly lifts him up and drops him in a backbreaker. Hall coils in pain but is flattened against the canvas in a pin by Ivan. Nixon slides in for the cover.
Nick Stuart: Kickout by Hall. He has the right idea trying to stay out of those big mitts of Ivan Stanislav, but right now it isn’t working as well as he’d hoped.
Richard Parker: Or as his wife had hoped. Look at her, she’s apoplectic!
If you can recover from the shock of Richard using such a big word correctly, you will notice that he is correct. JCH’s ALP is screaming, spittle practically flying from her mouth.
Vickie Hall: IVAN! IVAN!
The Russian Bear ignores the small woman, lifting Hall and planting him in a jumping piledriver. Vickie is undeterred.
Vickie Hall: IVAN YOU ARE GARBAGE! YOU ARE NOTHING COMPARED TO JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER!
Ivan definitely can hear her, and it is perhaps why instead of going for another pinfall, he lifts JCH up again. The Vow of Virtue groggily tries to get away, but Ivan lifts him in another choke lift. Now Vickie Hall steps up on the apron.
Vickie Hall: PUT HIM DOWN! PUT HIM DOWN RIGHT NOW!
Ivan still does not pay attention to Vickie, but Elvis Nixon sure does. He moves over to the apron and starts yelling at her to get down. Vickie doesn’t listen, and even though Ivan isn’t distracted, Elvis is distracted from seeing an eye rake from Jonathan-Christopher Hall. Ivan releases his grip, and on the way down JCH grabs Ivan’s head.
Nick Stuart: DDT! Jonathan-Christopher Hall just took advantage of the distraction and hit a big move on the Big Russian! And a beautiful move at that!
Richard Parker: One might even say an unusually beautiful move.
Finally, Ivan has taken some real damage. Hall gets up, dazed and confused. He looks down at his own arms, as if to ask “did I just do that?” Then he smiles and looks down on Ivan. Vickie drops down on the apron, smiling.
Vickie Hall: Get him now! Do it Jonathan-Christopher!
Ivan, meanwhile, is groggily getting to his feet. JCH sees this and knows he needs to press the advantage, so he bounces off the ropes and sends a knee into Ivan’s head, which sends him crumpling to the ground. Quickly, JCH scurries to get on top of Ivan.
Richard Parker: Woah!
Ivan kicks out by launching JCH into the air. The Timid Tiger is able to recover by grabbing Ivan and taking him over in a snapmare takeover. He looks over at Vickie and blows her a kiss, which delights her to no end.
Nick Stuart: This may end up being the story of this match, Richard. Ivan is down here without Alexei, and although no one can question the size advantage Ivan has over Jonathan-Christopher, Vickie Hall is the X-Factor here. You just saw her having an impact on the match, and if Ivan doesn’t have his own distracting force, he might succumb to the numbers game.
Richard Parker: You want some numbers? Seven foot one. 400. Those are numbers. Probably taller and bigger than JCH and Vickie combined!
Nick Stuart: Um…really?
JCH has a headlock locked in on Ivan, who is struggling to escape but has his breathing passage cut off. Vickie continues to scream encouragement as JCH wrenches on the hold. Ivan gets his arm behind JCH’s back.
Richard Parker: Yes, of course really. Bigger and taller than both of them.
Nick Stuart: You do understand that Vickie is five feet, three inches tall.
Richard Parker: Yes.
Nick Stuart: And Jonathan-Christopher Hall is six feet, two inches tall.
Richard Parker: Yes.
Now with his arm behind JCH, Ivan starts to work on getting his legs underneath his core. Slowly, Ivan starts to stand.
Nick Stuart: And Ivan is seven feet, one inch tall.
Richard Parker: Yes.
Nick Stuart: So in order for Ivan to be taller than both Halls combined, he’d have to be eleven feet, six inches tall.
Richard Parker: What kind of nonsense are you talking about, Nick? Look at Ivan now!
Ivan is standing, and JCH is unwillingly coming along for the ride. JCH’s eyes widen as he starts to struggle.
Nick Stuart: You’re right, Richard, Ivan using his strength to carry Jonathan-Christopher Hall up as Ivan gets to his full height.
Richard Parker: His full height of eleven feet, six inches tall.
Nick Stuart: Stop it.
Ivan laughs and stares at Vickie Hall for a moment before falling backward, crushing JCH under him. He lays there and laughs as Elvis Nixon slides in to count.
JCH kicks out.
Richard Parker: See, this is what I was saying. It doesn’t matter if Vickie is here and Alexei isn’t! Ivan is big, strong, and down to get the friction on!
Nick Stuart: Wait, what?
Richard Parker: Plus, Ivan isn’t alone. Look at all these fans! Look at those pro-Russian fans ringside!
The camera cuts to a group of four fans, two of whom are waving the Russian flag. One holds a sign that says I LOVE IVAN. Vickie stares at the group coldly.
Ivan rolls onto his stomach, then stands up and grabs Jonathan-Christopher Hall, then levels him with a huge powerbomb. JCH groans and clutches his back as Ivan unleashes another big laugh.
Ivan Stanislav: DYAAHAAHAA!!
Nick Stuart: Well you can see why it was a viable strategy for Jonathan-Christopher Hall to avoid contact from Ivan at the early part of this match. Once the pace slows down, there’s nowhere to go for the smaller man.
Richard Parker: Well it looks like the Love Convoy is about to employ their other viable strategy – here comes Vickie!
Once again Vickie Hall steps up onto the apron, and since Ivan is facing her, he can’t avoid her malice and screaming. She continues to shout and point at him, and after a few moments Ivan smiles and walks towards her.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh, Vickie, I don’t think this was a great idea.
Richard Parker: Ivan has said before he believes in women equality, which means he doesn’t mind beating them up too!
Vickie, to her credit, doesn’t drop down immediately, nor does she stop yelling in his face. Ivan approaches the ropes and reaches forward to grab her, but the fans cheer for the only good guy in the match: Elvis Nixon.
Nick Stuart: Elvis saying no to Ivan! He kicks his hands back and starts yelling at him! And now Ivan tries to shrug the referee off and turn to – OH WOW!
As Ivan was distracted by first Vickie and then Elvis, Jonathan-Christopher Hall had gotten to his feet. Once he saw Ivan turning around, he ran at him and hit him with the flying back elbow, also known as Chasing Vickie. Ivan crumples to the ground and JCH presses his advantage, lifting him up and grabbing his arms.
Nick Stuart: JCH is looking for Stand By Me! If he hits this he’ll be in the Turmoil match!
And this, my friends, is when the weird shit starts to happen.
See, Vickie had dropped back down with a satisfied smile when her man took advantage of her distraction. She started to turn to walk back, waiting for the Stand By Me and the three count, when she looked at the ringside seats and saw one of the pro-Russian fans trying to get over the barricade.
Vickie Hall: HEY! NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
Vickie runs to the fan and starts to yell at him, and the other Russian fans start to scream at her in Russian. All of this screaming is impossible for literally anyone in the arena to ignore, and unfortunately Jonathan-Christopher Hall is part of anyone.
He releases the hold to see what is happening, and he sees one of the fans with his hands on his wife. His eyes go wide and he runs to the ropes so he can exit the ring and address this ruffian.
But he never gets the chance.
Nick Stuart: Ivan grabs him from behind!
Nick Stuart: RED SCARE! The madness is still happening outside, but there’s a pinfall!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: YOUR WINNER, AND ADVANCING INTO THE TROPICAL TURMOIL MATCH…IVAAAAANNNNNNN STAAAAANNNIIISLAAAAAAAAAV!
Vickie turns from the Russian fans at this point and her mouth drops. Sending one last angry glare their way, she slides under the ring to tend to her husband as Ivan Stanislav celebrates in the ring.
Nick Stuart: Well I’m not sure what happened, but those fans caused a distraction and Ivan was able to take advantage! Do you think they were plants by the Russian Bear?
Richard Parker: No, Nick, those are clearly all people.
Nick Stuart: (sighing) Folks, we’ll be right back.
A PERFECTLY GOOD EXPLANATION
We are backstage! Well, kind of. We are backstage, but not at the Footprint Center. It’s a sound stage for some sort of fancy production! Facing away from the camera are the long black locks of Abe Lipschitz, examining the set. In case you didn’t realize that it was him, he’s sitting in a tall director’s chair with “A. Lipschitz” cross-stitched along the back.
Two actresses dressed in tennis skirts and visors are reviewing their scripts on the sound stage, sitting on the bench of the makeshift locker room. They look a little similar in features, aside from a contrast in age: maybe a mother and daughter pairing? There’s no time to find that out, though. Slowly but suddenly, Abe turns to the side and looks toward the camera, giving the PRIME audience a brace-filled grin and a friendly wave.
Abe Lipschitz: Hey! You guys caught me on our final day of shooting for the pilot of future hit sitcom, All That Racquet! Thanks to the gracious funding by our executive producer, Brennan Devlin, of whom I am legally obligated to mention runs the fantastic wrestling promotions Christ Centered Wrestling and Satan Slanted Wrestling, my dream of becoming a television icon might be a reality! It’s about time that someone with an incredible amount of wealth in the professional wrestling industry has decided to branch out into the world of Netflicks Original Series! And that’s Netflicks with a ‘F-L-I-C-K-S.’
Abe winks at the camera and puts his hand next to his mouth as if he’s about to share a dirty little secret.
Abe Lipschitz: It’s a new streaming network that’s soon to launch and make everyone forget about that “other” Netflix. It was founded by the creator of Corncob TV, and he thinks All That Racquet might even be better than Coffin Flop!
The Future Mr. Vanderpump hops out of his chair and beckons the camera to follow him over to the catering table. As he walks toward the array of pastries and headed right for the lekach, Abe sheds some light as to recent events.
Abe Lipschitz: I invited you here as I felt like this place was appropriate to nip any nasty dirtsheet gossip right in the bud before news of my pilot came out. Yes, it’s likely that the critics were about to write that my swift loss to Scott Stevens at PWA-02 was due to deprioritizing my wrestling career. And that I’ll never be taken seriously as long as I put my acting in front of my atomic dropping. And that’s just not true! The Scenery Boy Abe Lipschitz still has these beautiful brown eyes on the prize, and that is to win the title…
Grabbing a piece of the honey cake with his hands, Abe shoves a little in his face and savors the craft services flavor.
Abe Lipschitz: The title of Mr. Lindsay Troy. And as long as I’m chasing that championship, pro wrestling will always be at the top of my mind. Now granted, I’ve heard through the vine that she’s not too thrilled about my performance in Cuauhtémoc. And that some people who need to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS have accused me of being high during the match. But let me clear the air here: I just say no to drugs. Before the event, I was feeling a bit perspired, and had asked one of the local crew members if they could find me any talcum powder. I was surprised when he produced a small plastic baggie with the good stuff in there! It didn’t look like it would be enough to cover my underarms, but he taught me a cool trick I didn’t know before: if you inhale just a little bit, it works all over!
Pivoting on his heel and heading back toward his director’s chair, Abe continues his explanation.
Abe Lipschitz: I guess it has some strange effects the first time you do it. But still, even though I felt off, that’s no excuse. Truth is that I was simply bested by a veteran. A real Tatty Granddaddy. But if I’m an embarrassment to PRIME because of a loss to a multi-time champion, I’ll just have to work that much harder to get back in your good graces. And I’ll accept any punishment that Lindsay wants to deliver.
Lipschitz begins to “list off” several hypothetical punishments, counting him with his fingers.
Abe Lipschitz: Clean her pool in nothing but my underwear while she watches me from a beach lounger? No problem. Massage her feet after a long day of doing business-related things and promoting synergy within the front office? I can take it. Carry her on my back anywhere she wants to go? Look, it’s not anything I’d want to do, but as a man who wants to redeem himself, I’ll suck it up. Reorganize her decorative china and then kiss each other passionately? Only appropriate for a Scott Stevens loss.
As he plops back down on the seat and turns his head once again to stare back at the camera, he closes out his message of reassurance. Shooting is about to resume.
Abe Lipschitz: And once I’ve done my time, I’ll set my sights on getting ready for my Alias title shot. Which will soon be named the Lindsay Troy’s Love and Undying Affection. And…ACTION!
We then cut to the backstage area. Our backstage area.
Ivan Stanislav’s match with Jonathan-Christopher Hall is over, and while he would love to hang around The Footprint Center, Ivan has a comrade who needs saving from a bunch of hicks in hats.
Helping a comrade takes precedence over everything else.
Even beating the tar out of Jared Sykes. You lucky bastard.
The Russian Bear stomps through the garage towards the exit of The Footprint Center and looks down at what is possibly the largest, boxiest looking cellular phone in the history of the world. Perhaps even more amazing?
Ivan is trying to text.
He pulls the phone back and squints at it. No way he’s pulling out his glasses.
“Was wondering when you’d show up.”
The voice is familiar, enough to distract him from his mission. Still, when Ivan raises his eyes the sight in front of him is not one he expected to see.
For weeks the Russian Bear had made a point of harrowing Justine Calvin and Jared Sykes, always approaching either when the numbers worked in his favor or when he could easily overwhelm and eliminate one of the pair. But now Justine stands alone in the middle of a clearing backstage. As before she’s dressed to compete, hands heavily taped and hair pulled back. The more perceptive among those watching might notice a slight shake in her hands or hear a waver in her voice.
Justine Calvin: There’s…
She clears her throat. Seeing her there, Ivan’s demeanor seems to change. He lowers the phone from his face and tilts his head curiously to the side while scowling. The most important objective is still the mission at hand, and Alexei will be relieved of his current predicament. But, in the interim, a slight detour couldn’t hurt.
Justine Calvin: There’s something I meant to tell you last show.
Stanislav grinds his teeth as he stares at the much smaller woman and approached her, leaving little room between the two of them in the dark garage.
Ivan Stanislav: You finally realize what a real man is capable of while I pummeled Jared?
Justine snorts a laugh, but there’s no humor in it. The slight curl of her lip, well that’s a different story.
Justine Calvin: So, what I need to say…
Her hand comes up fast. Thirty years of training in the sweet science unleashed with the speed and impact of a bullet. It lands flush across the nose of the Russian Bear. He groans with surprise and takes a step back, his vision now slightly blurred from the impact. Whether his stumble is from the surprise, the impact, or both we’ll likely never know. This story will be told very differently by the two people involved.
Stanislav brings his hand to his nose and snorts as he winces.
Ivan Stanislav: Oh… Justine. I am sorry.
He pulls his hand away. Crimson on his fingers.
Ivan Stanislav: You do not understand what you have done.
He lunges for her, grabbing her forearm in his massive paw. Here in the bowels of the building there is no one to come to her rescue. And while a small crowd of production crew has gathered to watch this unfold, it’s likely that none of them will intervene. They all know better. He can tear her limb from limb and leave her scattered across the floor as a warning to anyone else that dares challenge his dominance. He growls down into her face, his eyes alight with fire and rage.
Ivan Stanislav: Did you think I had Alexei put handcuffs on you to hurt you? Oh no, Ms. Calvin.
He shakes her entire arm as he engulfs her forearm.
Ivan Stanislav: I had him do that, because I knew you would be too stupid and strike me if I attacked Jared. And if you did that? You would have offered me no recourse!
He bellows and takes a step forward, physically moving her. He drops his phone in his left hand and balls up a ham-sized fist. His voice rumbles with a mix of rage and remorse.
Ivan Stanislav: I did not want you to have to make me do this. But here we are.
Of course, that was always the plan.
Justine Calvin: (softly) Gotcha.
Ivan blinks. His voice flattens.
Ivan Stanislav: What?
The lights hit his eyes and Ivan’s attention is drawn from his target to the sound of an approaching engine.
The fastest forklift on record approached speeds of 75 miles per hour. This one doesn’t move that fast, but it has the element of surprise. Justine pulls her arm free and dashes aside, the expression on her face equal parts relief from the escape and pure, unadulterated joy that this plan actually worked.
Five tons of engine and steel slam into the Russian Bear and drive him violently back into a stack of production crates hard enough that one of the tynes punches through the heavy aluminum and ABS frame of the nearest box. The machine doesn’t stop until both the crate and Ivan are smashed against the nearest wall. The engine roars. Stanislav’s throaty bellow of anger and pain nearly drowns it out.
The driver, Jared Sykes, throws the machine into reverse and begins dragging both Ivan and the crate away from the wall. The bottom half of the trunk gives out, dumping excess cables and fasteners into a heap on the floor, and allowing Ivan a brief moment of reprieve. He glances down to his chest only to see that he has narrowly avoided being impaled. One of the tynes snaked its way inside his suspenders and tore a gash into his shirt. He places a hand on his flesh and draws it back. His hand is soupy with dark blood. He bellows something unintelligible, but it’s too late.
There is only enough time to look up before he’s slammed by the vehicle a second time. The impact barrels him over and he’s sent skidding across the concrete. His momentum is only stopped by a tower of boxes that buckle from the strike. He tries to push himself up, blood seeping between his lips, as the boxes high above topple over upon him like some skyscraper falling atop a battered Soviet Godzilla. His roar booms from beneath the wreckage and then it stops.
For a moment everything is calm save for the sound of the hydraulics lifting the fork higher into the air. An angry Russian arm sends one box flying in one direction. A combat boot throws two more boxes skipping along the floor and crashes into a gate. But no sooner does Ivan manage to shove the last of the crates off his body does the forklift rev into action again, this time aiming straight for his prone form on the floor. The sound of crunching plastic signals the death of his precious cell phone, and with a screech of the tires and a sharp cut of the wheel the forklift tips, leans, and topples. The driver bails and rolls to his feet in a single motion.
Ivan only has enough time to try and get his hands up to slow the crashing cab before it slams against him and shoves his hands painfully flat against his chest, pinning him to the floor beneath the mast and cab.
With his adversary trapped, Jared Sykes slowly walks over to the scene of the crime. He points to the raised tynes of the forklift, which now lies on its side with Ivan pinned beneath it.
Jared Sykes: You know I wasn’t sure that whole “lift it up to make it unbalanced” thing was going to work. You’d think after last year when I took one of these all around the MGM Grand that I’d have some idea about how they work, but… Nah. But hey, happy accidents am I right?
Then he starts laughing. It’s quiet at first, barely a giggle, but it doesn’t take long until the sound fills the space. It’s only when he’s managed to compose himself a bit does Jared speak again.
Jared Sykes: Oh man. I just realized… You’ve actually just been crushed under the weight of a literal engine of capitalism.
The Dragonslayer hops up onto the side of the forklift and takes a seat on the overturned cage. From his perch he can safely look down at Ivan without fear of reprisal. The added weight forces a painful groan out of Stanislav.
Jared Sykes: You know, for the record, you brought us here. And this isn’t a place I like to go, Ivan. This isn’t the sort of thing I enjoy, but I needed – I NEEDED – you to know what could happen if you kept pushing. See, I seem to be built for this sort of thing. Maybe it’s my lot in life. Predestination, if you believe in that shit. People get their rocks off throwing me at things, through things, you get the idea. But I told you… I TOLD YOU that bringing the people I care about into this was going to be a mistake, but you just couldn’t help yourself. So…
He holds out his hands, palm up.
Jared Sykes: Here we are.
Ivan opens his mouth to speak, but at the first sound of his voice Jared is off his perch. A single stomp lands across Ivan’s jaw.
Jared Sykes: No, nonononononono. I’ve heard e-fucking-nough of what you have to say for a while.
And then just as quickly he’s back in his seat atop the forklift’s cage. Ivan glances toward the gathered crowd, but Sykes follows his eyes.
Jared Sykes: Oh, them? Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to work the way you’re probably expecting. See, I kinda have a bit of an “in” with some of the folks who help with production and whatever. Mark – you remember him, yeah? – he was tight with a lot of these folks, and then Paxton went full murder-hobo and Mark got caught in the crossfire. But then, well, someone put his own body on the line to try and get a little bit of justice for all that.
He snaps with both hands then points at himself with both index fingers.
Jared Sykes: So what I’m saying is that if there’s a choice on who to help here, you or me… well…
Jared glances around the area. True to his word, some of the production crew has already started to wander off, and none with any sense of urgency. There will be no help from the PRIME staff.
Once more Jared hops down to the floor. He reaches into the cab of the forklift and finally kills the engine.
Jared Sykes: This is where I say goodbye, Ivan. I imagine someone might be along eventually to help pick this thing up, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Don’t worry though. Far as I can tell the ambulance is still here. All gassed up and with its tires intact. Lucky you.
He takes a few slow steps towards Ivan’s head.
Jared Sykes: But, and it’s important you pay attention to this next part, the version of me that you know? It’s not all there is. I think given your current situation even you’d have to admit that’s true. Now, here’s the thing I want you to take away from all this…
He crouches low, and though his voice is barely above a whisper the microphones still manage to pick it up. Stanislav stares directly into Jared’s eyes as the chin of his beard is now black and red, instead of white.
Jared Sykes: I could show you so much more.
As Jared makes his exit, The Russian Bear moans weakly from beneath the wreckage of the forklift.
No proletarian comes to his aid.
WAIT. ANOTHER JOE BERGMAN SIGHTING?
As we move to another backstage area, we can see Joe Bergman once again making an unexpected appearance at the PRIME show, one week after Joe retired from the wrestling industry after defeating Sage Pontiff at the PWA-02 event last week.
Joe is standing in front of the camera, looking calm and composed, dressed in a slightly formal outfit.
Joe Bergman: “I’m here at PRIME’s ReVival 30 for a couple of reasons. Firstly, to get under Lee Best’s skin.
Joe Bergman: Secondly, I’m here to support Adam Ellis. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight is a big night for Adam. I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring this young and talented wrestler on his journey in the wrestling world. He has all the qualities of a future star in this business, and it has been my privilege to watch him grow and develop over the past four years. I can confidently say that he is destined for greatness.
He pauses for a second.
Joe Bergman: Tonight, Adam faces two-time Universal Champion Hayes Hanlon in a Tropical Turmoil qualifying match. A few weeks ago, Adam showed flashes of what he could become when he stood in the ring with Cecilworth Farthington and more than held his own against one of the top wrestlers in the world. Tonight, Adam will have to summon that type of performance once again against Hayes Hanlon.
Cut to a video clip of Adam Ellis walking towards the ring with his wife Ginny Van Lear…
…Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear, slapping the hands of the fans as he makes his down to the ring…
Joe Bergman: Tonight’s match is the biggest of his career… so far. He’s up against a tough opponent. Someone who’s been to the top here in PRIME. But I have every confidence that he’ll come out on top. I’m here to support him, and I know that he’s got what it takes to make it to the top.
Cut to another video clip of Adam- this time in action against Cecilworth Farthington at ReVival 26 in April…
… Farthington shoots up to his feet and brings Ellis with him. He grabs the man in a front face lock and tries to yank him over the top for a snap suplex. But Adam Ellis doesn’t budge. Farthington fires an elbow to the midsection of Ellis and tries again, but Adam doesn’t move an inch. Farthington tries once more, but Ellis fires an elbow into Farthington’s midsection this time. Ellis snaps Farthington over his head and sends the Financier to the canvas…
Joe Bergman: Adam Ellis has proven that he’s a force to be reckoned with. I believe tonight could be the night Adam takes the next step closer to realizing his dreams. But it won’t be easy. But the good thing about Adam is that he’s not just a wrestler, he’s an athlete. He has the strength, agility, and technical skills to take on anyone in this business. But what sets him apart is his heart. He’s got a fire in his belly that drives him to be the best and between myself, Charlie Blackwell, and his beautiful, but trigger-happy wife Ginny… Adam has a support system behind him to help drive him on. I’m proud to have been a part of his journey, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him.
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?
Elsewhere backstage, the door to Lindsay Troy’s office opens slowly and out from it walks Arthur Pleasant, with The Serbian Silencer in tow. Arthur Pleasant has a smile on his face while Yuri looks as cold-blooded as ever. Their pace is somewhat leisurely as Arthur looks down at a piece of paper in his hands. It shouldn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what exactly it is he holds in his hands.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh, Mask. What have you done?
Pleasant laughs as they both walk away from La Presidenta’s office. But just as they round the corner, they stop in their tracks as they see Angelica Brooks taking a moment to herself, walking somewhere unknown. Was she on a lunch break and heading to catering? Did she already take a lunch break and those crab cakes from catering are working their way through her system quicker than she thought they would? It’s anybody’s guess.
It’s at this point that Arthur looks up at Yuri.
Then back at Angelica.
Catching Angelica off-guard, Arthur smiles.
Arthur Pleasant: Well hello Annnnnnj! So great to see you. I suppose you, along with the rest of the PRIMEverse are wondering why exactly I was coming out of Lindsay Troy’s office just a moment ago, hm?
Angelica Brooks: Um, well actually I was just-
Arthur Pleasant: Yes. Yes, I thought so. Well, since you asked, here’s the reason.
Awkwardly accepting a sheet of paper that Pleasant had been looking at, Angelica sighs, exasperated with Arthur’s presence as we go into the final stretches of the evening for ReVival 30.
Angelica Brooks: This looks like a contract for a match between you and TAL at Tropical Turmoil..
Arthur Pleasant: EHHHHHHHHHHHH! Wrong, Anj! This is a COPY of a contract for a match between myself and TAL at Tropical Turmoil! Feel that warmth from the copier? Doesn’t it make you want to just hug it? Yeah, I couldn’t take the original copy. LT’s a stickler for having proper chains of custody with important documents. If she put that kind of focus into her wrestling matches maybe she would’ve actually beaten Dad Bod Steve!
Arthur cackles at his own joke while Yuri just stands there, arms folded. The veins in his arms nearly pulsate as Pleasant manages to get a hold of himself.
Angelica Brooks: Why are you showing me this? In fact, why are you interviewing me?!
Pleasant’s smile disappears.
Arthur Pleasant: I thought you would’ve appreciated someone else picking up the slack for you. This is important stuff, Anj. I just agreed to a match against TAL. At Tropical Turmoil. Isn’t that exciting?!
Angelica Brooks: I mean, it is. I think the fans have been looking forward to the two of you facing each other inside the ring. But I mean, what is this?
A scowl forms across Pleasant’s face.
Arthur Pleasant: Can’t you just be fucking happy?
Angelica’s face tells the story of a woman growing wary of her situation.
Angelica Brooks: Okay, Arthur. Whatever you say. Sure. Now, uh, let me-
Angelica goes to walk by them and Arthur stands in her way.
Arthur Pleasant: I’m reeeeeeeeally getting tired of the blatant disrespect from people here in PRIME. Maybe it isn’t just Mask that needs a lesson in respect. What do you say, Yuri?
Yuri’s menacing frame grows closer to Angelica, who looks like she’s about to scream for help. Surprisingly, though, she keeps her composure. A true professional, this one.
Angelica Brooks: Let me pass, gentlemen. There’s an entire roster waiting to throw you both out on your asses if you lay one finger on me. Trust me. You don’t want that. Not if you want to make it to Tropical Turmoil, Mr. Pleasant.
Pleasant’s scowl morphs into genuine shock.
Arthur Pleasant: Hmm. Such a brave soul, this one. You know, Mask could learn a thing or two from you, Anj. You immediately showed backbone with me. ANNND this giant edifice of evisceration. You didn’t cower and throw frivolous one-liners at me on Jabber for weeks on end, relying on peer support to motivate you enough to keep showing up for work. No, no. You… heh… you are the very face of courage. For this? I… applaud you, Anj.
Pleasant golf claps Angelica, who looks wholly confused more than terrified at this point. Pleasant directs his head with a sharp bob to the left.
Arthur Pleasant: Go. This interview has been enlightening. Thank you for your time!
Angelica Brooks looks at Yuri, who stands aside in an instant. Not looking to lose an opportunity to get as far away from these men as possible, Angelica continues walking. Not scurrying or running, but walking. Like a person smart enough to know not to run when faced with a snarling, hungry wolf.
She drops the copy of the contract as she gets far enough away from Arthur and Yuri. Watching the piece of paper float to the ground like a feather, Yuri snatches it. Handing it back to Arthur, Pleasant looks on at Angelica until she disappears around the hallway.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh, Mask. What EVER have you done?!
A sick smile crawls across Arthur’s face, with each one of his sharp fangs exposed fully to the camera.
We then cut to ringside.
TROPICAL TURMOIL QUALIFIER: HAYES HANLON VS. ADAM ELLIS
Nick Stuart: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a Tropical Turmoil qualifier match! These two are some of the hottest competitors on the scene right now.
Richard Parker: Plus Ginny is a crack shot, or so I have heard.
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
Vince Howard: FROM WARRENSBURG, MO! STANDING SIX FEET, FOUR INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO-HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX POUNDS!!
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
Vince Howard: ADAAAAAAAAAAAAM ELLIIIIIIIIS!!!
“Oh, I might be a little rough around the edges”
Adam’s wearing a pair of plain blue wrestling shorts. He starts forward down the ramp towards the ring followed by Van Lear.
“From the outside lookin’ in it might seem helpless.”
The couple reaches the ring. Adam holds the rope open so Ginny can slide through.
“I’ve been blessed with a strong backbone – I never coulda made it on my own”
Adam joins her in the ring.
“But if there’s one thing that I know – Momma didn’t raise no…”
Adam climbs up the top turnbuckle and holds up his arms.
Nick Stuart: The first competitor is in the ring with a lot of pomp and circumstance. The pyro budget around here has to be kinda crazy some nights.
Richard Parker: Yeah but Hayes Hanlon is a man who isn’t unfamiliar with elaborate introductions. I bet he will cause at least three seizures with his light show.
Distorted guitar heralds a black hole emerging on the PRIME*View, dangerously close to the screen; hanging in the void among planets and nebulas.
Sirens accompany as the screen shakes, pulling us in violently, until the lyrics scream throughout the PA system.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAALLLL!!!”
And huge, white block letters fill the screen:
The speakers and amplifiers hold on for dear life as “Daggers” by We Came as Romans absolutely bludgeon the eardrums. And speaking of explosions, those planets and stars on the PRIME*View do just that, bursting into blinding eruptions of violent light. It carries into the arena, rumbling flashbulbs explode in various points throughout the building; in the ceiling, in the stands, one after another.
And then, from the ramp, the Event Horizon.
“I SEE THE MOUNTAIN AHEAD, I FEEL THE THUNDER ROAR!
I FEEL THE FURY WITHIN, BUT LOUDER THAN BEFORE!”
Hammerin’ Hanlon marches forward, those dark eyes focused, ‘stache on point, while the fans around are on the brink of a literal mosh pit.
Vince Howard: FROM WEST LINN, OREGON! STANDING SIX FEET, THREE INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE POUNDS!!
Hayes climbs the apron, steps through the ropes, and b-lines for the turnbuckle.
Vince Howard: The Event Horizoonnnnnnn…HAAAAAYESSSS!! HAAANNNLLOOOONNNNN!!!
Up one rope, then the second, chest and jaw jutting out, and a thumb across his neck.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
He hops down, making way to the next post to repeat the process one more time.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
He remains on the ropes, and in unison with the crowd, beats his chest four times while roaring out the crescendo.
The Comeback Kid stays for a moment, eyes out to the roaring crowd, allowing the music to reach its breakdown. He hops to the mat and takes his place in his corner, ready to go.
Adam and Hayes stand in opposite corners, staring one another down. They are clearly ready to get this contest underway.
Nick Stuart: And after three whole pages of introductions, we’re ready to turn the action over to the ring with referee Ashley Barlow.
Richard Parker: Some of these people get really in depth with their description and showmanship, don’t they?
Nick Stuart: Well, yeah, but that’s better than nothing at all. At least with this we can count on this match looking good and long instead of being off time and abrupt.
Richard Parker: At least it isn’t Cancer Jiles. That guy takes longer to come to the ring than I do scrolling through Facebook ads while I’m taking my morning BM.
Nick Stuart: I’m just getting word that we are still live and the mic feed hasn’t cut to the ring yet. Richard, do you have anything to add to the tense staredown in the ring?
Richard Parker: BM stands for bowel movement, for those who didn’t know.
Nick blinks at the camera.
Nick Stuart: OK then, to the ring we go!
Ashley signals for the bell and we are underway.
Adam and Hayes quickly stride across the ring and lock up with one another. Each pushes the other back and forth like a pair of trophy bucks locked up in a territorial dispute. Neither seems to be able to gain the upper hand as they circle, push and use angles. Finally Hayes leans back and slams forward, throwing Ellis end over end into a corner in a classic show of strength.
Adam shakes his head and stands up slowly even as Hayes flexes his arm to show the power differential. Adam circles to his right and darts his eyes waiting for an opening. Using his lightning fast reflexes, he shoots on Hayes and puts him to the mat with a double leg takedown. Ellis stands up quickly and backs off the former champion, offering him a hand to get up, which Hayes shakes his head at and stands up, red in the face.
Nick Stuart: Well, that’s a turn of events. Adam can’t match Hayes’ power and Hayes can’t match Adam’s technical prowess.
Richard Parker: Why let Hayes up though?
Nick Stuart: Well, I imagine that he is trying to be a good sport. This is a huge match for Adam Ellis and he wants to win on his own terms.
Richard Parker: Right, but he had a former world champion on his butt and a dominant position, he could have just kept him down and kept Hayes out of that momentum he likes to build.
Nick Stuart: Sometimes I feel like the logic of a good person is wasted on you.
Richard Parker: Apparently Mama Didn’t Raise No son that knows when to take advantage of the situation.
Back in the ring, the two combatants lock up once again, this time, Adam turns Hayes into a standing hammerlock. Hayes slaps his shoulder and spins around, reversing the hold. He pushes Ellis to the turnbuckle and lets go, showing sportsmanship of his own this time.
Ellis bounces with a smirk on his face, and circles around again. Both competitors are showing respect early on. Adam shoots again, and this time Hayes is ready and catches him with a rising knee. Swarming on his opponent, Hayes is on top of him immediately and lifts him off the mat with brute force to launch Ellis overhead in a German suplex.
Nick Stuart: Looks like Hayes got the better of that exchange.
After crashing to the mat, Hayes is on Ellis once again, picking him up and readying for another German Suplex, but Adam elbows him in the snout, then again and breaks the hold. Ellis pumps his fist and runs at the ropes, coming off with a head of steam into a clothesline which sends Hayes to the mat with authority.
The now Event Horizontal shakes his head on the mat and twitches his mustache. Ellis doesn’t allow him time to breathe as he slides to the mat for a pin. Ashley Barlow is there, quick as a cat, for the count.
Nick Stuart: You’re going to have to do better than that to stop a two time PRIME Universal Champion.
Richard Parker: Well he is trying, for sure!
Adam is on his opponent with a flurry of strikes on the ground. Adam falls into a weak guard that shows Hayes knows enough about how to defend himself, but not enough to stop someone like Ellis. As Hayes tries to wrap him up with his legs, Adam easily moves his knee to Hanlon’s midsection and passes into side control. Ellis looks to take control of this match with a classic wrestler staple, an Arm Triangle. He locks it in and starts rotating his body toward the center of the ring, which causes Hayes to fight, but he isn’t sure what the escape is.
Nick Stuart: There is that lack of technical experience that Hayes is known for. It doesn’t come into play very often, but against a trained wrestler like Adam Ellis, it is a real liability.
Richard Parker: I have to tell you, I don’t hate that Adam is leaning into his strengths and not letting Hayes get into a rhythm.
Nick Stuart: For sure, this is a clinic of how to use angles and tire out a wrestler with more mass than yourself.
In the ring, Hayes is starting to turn various colors and spittle is coming from his mouth as he struggles against the hold. Ashley leans in and starts warning him that she is going to have to call the match if he doesn’t respond to her.
She lifts his arm once…
And it falls to the mat even as he stares at the lights with open eyes.
She lifts his arm a second time…
And it thumps on the mat. Adam turns and cranks his body as far as he can without straining his own tendons. The young man shakes his head and screams in pain as his arms burn trying to maintain the hold.
Nick Stuart: What an upset this would be if Hayes were unable to answer the third drop!
Ashley pulls his arm up and drops it a third time and juuuuust before it hits, Hayes stops it and starts to shake his arm as if he has just found the contents of The Iron Sheik’s gym bag circa 1982 (R.I.P. SHEIKY BABY).
Adam wrenches his arms and tries to hold but Hayes is somehow fired up and trying to fight against the hold like a wounded animal. Ellis eventually loses his grip and rolls off. He shakes his arms as he tries to hold them up, but they aren’t working the way he wants to and he isn’t able to defend himself from the impending assault of Hayes Hanlon. As Hayes plays to the crowd and asks them for more noise, which they oblige, Ellis stands up and tries to hold his arms up again.
Nick Stuart: Adam put so much in that submission attempt I’m not sure his arms are going to recover for a minute or two!
Richard Parker: He doesn’t have a minute or two! Time to capitalize Hayes! None of that sportsmanship crap now.
Hayes leaps forward and catches Adam in his paws. He twists and pulls his competitor into a leaping neck breaker. He is quick to scramble off his back and into a pin. Ashley Barlow slides into place expertly and is there to make the count.
Nick Stuart: Adam makes it out in 2 but he looks like he has no idea what to do to get back into this match.
Richard Parker: He is running on instinct, but sometimes that’s when a person is the most dangerous!
Hayes whips Ellis against the ropes and tries to go for a flourish spinning lariat, but Adam ducks and rebounds, leaping in the air and swinging his leg back. The Superman Punch connects and Hayes wheels his arms in the air, cross-eyed. Ellis starts blowing on him to knock him off balance. Finally he staggers back, holding up a finger before muttering “Nope,” and comically his legs flip out from under him as he falls backwards with a thunderous crash to the mat.
Ellis falls to the mat, shakes out his arms again and goes for the pin. Ashley is right on the action once again.
Nick Stuart: This back and forth is insane, we just had two pinfalls in rapid succession from different competitors.
Richard Parker: It’s almost as if they are nearly evenly matched. Either way, this is an exciting contest.
Adam shakes his head and looks at Ginny. She excitedly points at Hanlon and yells “do it again!” He slowly drags Hanlon to his feet and exaggeratedly whips him to the opposite corner of the ring. Halon bounces off and Adam leaps once again for the Superman Punch, but whether it is by instinct, skill, or plain luck, Hayes ducks under and as Adam bounces off the ropes, Hanlon pushes him into the air.
Hayes snatches Ellis from the air and drills him to the mat with a pop-up 180 sit-out choke-bomb. The ring shakes with a thunderous crash as the two hit the mat.
Nick Stuart: That’s the Epoch! What a counter!
Richard Parker: He should call that move The Hyphen, what with the description.
Nick Stuart: Either way, it is devastating and Ellis is in a real bad way here!
Hayes clearly hit that move in desperation and doesn’t have a lot of fight left in him. He starts to crawl toward Ellis and stops midway to raise his hand in the air to play to the crowd. They respond with a raucous reaction and it seems to energize the young man from West Linn.
Finally he reaches Adam Ellis and flips him over on his back. Ginny looks terribly worried outside of the ring and is nervously holding her hands up to her face. Hayes grabs Adam’s leg and hooks it while he crawls into the cover. Ashley Barlow wastes no time in quickly sliding into place and she slaps the mat with trained precision.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: And your winner by pinfall… The Event Horizoonnnnnnn…HAAAAAYESSSS!! HAAANNNLLOOOONNNNN!!!
Nick Stuart: Adam takes a loss here, but he has nothing to be ashamed about. That was a hell of a performance versus a very game two time champion.
Richard Parker: I mean, nothing to be ashamed about except the loss on his record.
Nick Stuart: Do you have to? That was a great showing by a talented young man.
Richard Parker: And he lost.
Nick shakes his head.
Nick Stuart: At any rate, I’m getting word that we have some action going on, so with that, let’s send it backstage!
IF YOU’RE FEELING GASSY, FART!
We cut backstage after another Tropical Turmoil qualifier match, considered by many people to be a waste of time since there was such blatant favoritism shown with management’s chosen participants. Four of the five people currently walking down one of the corridors are those people, though there is a good chance that the fifth person would also agree if asked his opinion in front of the other four.
Ladies and gentle… wait can we say that anymore?
Let’s be safe and just say… Hey everyone, it’s the Gamble Adoration Syndicate and their under review, unbiased, personal interviewer Johnnie Newsman already in the middle of a deep and meaningful discussion.
Johnnie Newsman: I mean…it’s okay…you know…but like…I’m not really feeling it.
Tony Gamble: You’re not feeling it?
Mortgomery Byrnes: I’m under the preposition that the name which was, with much forthought, formulatterily chosen is quite appro bono. A home run.
Johnnie Newsman: Don’t get me wrong, it’s great name, better than Charlie Chicken-Nuggets, but doesn’t get meuh…
Johnnie suddenly gets shoved aside and onto the ground, as someone barges past him with only one thing in mind…taking out Tony.
Tony Gamble: Son of a Bolamba!
Indeed, it is Eddie Cross that swings a kendo stick at the head of The Grin. Unable to make contact though, as Gamble evades the weapon by dropping backwards onto the floor. Instead, the wild swing comes in contact with the shoulder of one half of BANG!’s up and coming tag team No Laughing Matter; Frank Pastore.
Frank Pastore: Mother…
Focused on the hall of famer scrambling to get to his feet, Eddie does not notice the bald headed member of the G.A.S. lunging at him from behind.
Domingo Cruz: Got you, you little shit.
Wrapping his arms at his side with a bear hug, Cruz struggles a bit to keep him contained as Frank rolls his shoulder a few times. Mortgomery helps Tony to his feet, before straightening out his coat and draping the Gamble Championship over his shoulder.
Eddie Cross: Let me go you penis headed looking mother…GAMBLE!
Tony Gamble: That’s not the word I’m used to hearing after mother, but if the shoe fits…
Pastore walks over and grabs a hold of one of Eddie’s arms, giving Cruz a chance to get a better hold on the other one.
Tony Gamble: Maybe I can make it my new shirt.
A quick nod from Tony is the only thing needed for the Gamble Champion to drive a fist into Cross’ gut.
Johnnie Newsman: Ouuuuch! That looks like it hurt.
Morty opens his fist and shakes his hand out.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Not in the least. Is there any ice around, unrelatedly speakin’?
Johnnie Newsman: Of course, would you like a cold beverage as well…Fresca? Perhaps a pop? Or soda, as they say in the Northeast?
Tony Gamble: I’m down for a Fresca. What about you Eddie, would you like anything?
Tony approaches Eddie, crouching down in front of him as he wrestles to get loose. To no avail though, as the grip on his arms tightens.
Eddie Cross: Yooouuu..…uuugghhhh.
This time it is Tony’s turn to drive a fist into Eddie’s gut, and as he struggles to catch his breath Tony presses a finger to his lips.
Tony Gamble: Now, now, let’s stay level headed. No reason to let your mouth write a check you are in no condition to cash.
Tony stands up, rubbing his chin as he speaks.
Tony Gamble: I know you’re angry about what happened with Dave, and charging at me with that kendo stick was your big plan to get revenge for it. Look at you now…
The Grin chuckles softly as he shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: You want a piece of me, Eddie? You want to make me pay for hurting Ol’ Davey Boy…I’ve given you a chance to join us, to better yourself not only inside the ring, but how you handle yourself outside of it as well.
Eddie Cross: Go…to…hell…
Tony Gamble: Such anger. I really don’t understand why you dislike me so much, Eddie. It’s not like I put people in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, or terrorize women by beating their lovers within an inch of their lives like some people who shall not be named. No, you are angry because I hurt poor little Dave, but you only have yourself to blame for that Eddie.
Gamble crouches down once more, just out of Eddie’s reach.
Tony Gamble: You decided to succumb to Anna’s peer pressure and put your hands on me. That was your first mistake. Your second, was thinking I was going to let you get away with it. Now here we are, because you’re still making the same stupid mistake.
The Grin grabs Eddie by the chin, steadying his face in order to look into his eyes.
Tony Gamble: Don’t be like your father, Eddie…pull out while you’re ahead.
Eddie Cross: You’re just…scared of…facing me one on one.
Tony Gamble: I’d make you look like an even bigger fool than you already are. Fear, Eddie, is not something I feel when I look at you. Sympathy, maybe, but definitely not fear. The beating you suffered in your match against Mr. Byrnes is nothing compared to what you’d suffer if you stepped into the ring with me.
A few quick slaps to the cheek from Tony, as Cross once again tries to wriggle free unsuccessfully.
Tony Gamble: Consider yourself lucky that you’ll never get the opportunity to feel it first hand, because you are not worthy of my time…much less my effort.
Tony stands up, nodding to Frank and Dom who understand exactly what the simple motion means. They drag Eddie away as Johnnie hands Tony a Fresca.
Tony Gamble: So about that name.
DUMBER THAN A BAG OF HAMMERS
We’re now in front of a classic PRIME-branded backdrop backstage. Junior interviewer Simon Tillier looks dapper and swell as he eagerly holds up his mic.
Simon Tillier: Ladies and gentlemen, the Neck Collector of the Glueminati…FLAMBERGE!
FLAMBO sure has made fashion choices. His blazer and slacks seem to be matching grey and black and green snakeskin (perhaps lizardskin?), though he’s wearing zero shirts when most suits call for at least one. He’s wearing a dumb heavy gold chain around his neck and bright yellow plastic sunglasses that probably cost a dollar. Despite his loud outfit, he seems subdued.
Simon Tillier: FLAMBERGE, thank you for joining me. You have a major opportunity at Tropical Turmoil. If you are able to defeat Anna Daniels, you will become the first wrestler in the ReVival Era to capture both the 5 Star and Intense Titles. Your thoughts?
FLAMBERGE: My thoughts? Mon dieu, you are the trash at this. Let me tell you my thoughts, little man. My thoughts are that I am the DISAPPOINTED. I desired the opportunity to show the child torturer Paxton Ray just how badly he could be beaten by a competitor who is truly better…and then the damn Anna Daniels had to ruin this for me by doing this first! And now, instead of the beautiful Paxton Ray Intense Neck that I so very desired, I must pivot to a multiverse of necks. It is the TRASH.
Simon Tillier: Anna Daniels certainly seems to be on the warpath. Any response to her comments from last ReVival?
FLAMBERGE: …no response that you would get for the free, little man.
Simon Tillier: Right…pivoting to tonight’s main event. Your Glueminati partner and good friend Cecilworth Farthington teams with Joe Fontaine tonight-
FLAMBO bristles for a moment and gives a confused dagger of a glance to Simon at the words “good friend”, but he shakes it off.
Simon Tillier: What made you all decide to recruit the Winds of Change into the Glueminati?
FLAMBERGE: If you cannot see with your dumb little eyeballs the reasons I would desire the Sid Phillips and the Joe Fontaine to be the ally, then as they would say in my neighborhood growing up, tu es plus con qu’un sac de marteaux. They win very much. The rest of us win very much. You cannot buy this type of brand synergy. Now if you will excuse me, I wish to watch my work colleagues win a wrestling match.
FLAMBO begins to step away from Tillier, but Simon goes for one more swing at getting something, ANYTHING helpful out of the Frenchman.
Simon Tillier: Before you go – one final question. What were you all texting about last episode? You, Farthington, and Best?
The would-be Protagonist of PRIME snort-laughs.
With that, FLAMBO definitely steps away from the interview stage.
Simon Tillier: FLAMBERGE, just as eager as the rest of us to watch tonight’s main event! Right after this commercial!
COMMERCIAL: TROPICAL TURMOIL 2023
CECILWORTH FARTHINGTON and JOE FONTAINE vs. BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD and JUSTINE CALVIN
We return from commercial.
You know things are about to get real when you hear the opening refrain of one song in particular: I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME’s “Choke”.
It gets realer when the PRIMEview displays a single name on it.
The first man that bursts through the curtain isn’t the Financier of the Glueminati, but his new understudy. Joe Fontaine walks out with his hands held out like a T-pose, likely to assert dominance. Behind him is Sid Phillips, man of powerbombs, dressed in an immaculately tailored black suit and sunglasses that gives a very “secret agent” look to him.
As they stand side-by-side, Cecilworth Farthington saunters out with a spring in his step and a song in his heart. Probably “Choke”, the song where he’s happy to watch someone suffocate to death. His enemies, probably. Anyhoodle, after Cecilworth passes by Joe and Sid with slaps on their shoulders, the three of them head towards the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, this tag team match is your main event of the evening! Introducing first… accompanied by Sid Phillips… they weigh in tonight at a total combined weight of three-hundred and seventy-two pounds… they represent the GLUEMINATI! THE TEAM OF JOE FONTAINE AND CECILWOOOOOOOOORTH! FARTHINGTOOOOOOOOONNNN!!!
Richard Parker: They’re here, Nick!
Fans in attendance don’t take very kindly to the presence of the Glueminati trio as they make their way down the aisle at a pace best described as “leisurely”. If the threat of their opponents tonight is bothering them, they’re not exactly showing it by their actions. Cecilworth rolls underneath the bottom rope to get into the ring, but Joe and Sid walk around the ring. Joe is soaking up the scorn of the crowd like a sponge, while Sid seems much more ambivalent about all of it.
Joe enters the ring from the opposite end, jumping up onto the apron and slingshotting himself inside. Sid remains on the outside, pacing back and forth, clearly unsure of what to do with himself in a situation where he’s not in there teaming with Joe.
Nick Stuart: It’s astonishing to me that Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips can even show their faces around here after the stunt they pulled on the last ReVival.
Richard Parker: What do you mean? They did what anyone in their situation would do. They listened to the beautiful words of Cecilworth Farthington, and they bought their stock in glue futures.
The arena lights darken save for a purple spotlight over the entrance.
Oh, misty eye of the mountain below
The first droning words of Jonathan Young’s cover of “I See Fire” hit the speakers as the PRIMEview flashes to life. The image it shows looks like old parchment. Line by line the silhouettes of vanquished teams appear, not unlike an ancient wood carving or ole time wanted poster. Fighting For Nora. The Winds of Change. The Masters of the Multiverse. The Love Convoy. The Dangerous Mix. Each sketched onto the surface before the paper catches fire and a name is revealed.
From out of frame a wind blows the ashes away revealing a second line beneath.
Kings of the ever after
Vince Howard: From Boston, Massachusetts and weighing in tonight at one hundred and twenty-three pounds…
Flanked by her partner, Justine Calvin steps out onto the stage. Hard eyes and a single loose strand of hair peek out beneath her hood as she makes her way to the ring. Both hands are taped white, though a single line of black adorns her left ring finger. A long, sleeveless ring jacket drifts behind her in her wake.
Vince Howard: She is one half of THE undefeated “forever tag team champions”…
Suck it, Joe Fontaine. Suck it from the back.
Vince Howard: She is “High Caliber” JUSTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE CAL-VIIIIIIIIIIIN!!
She steps into the ring and removes her entrance gear, revealing her half of the now-defunct Tag Team championships beneath. It’s a move designed to get a reaction from one very specific person.
Nick Stuart: We’ve already seen both Calvin and Sykes get a bit of revenge against Ivan Stanislav earlier this evening, and we know that there’s a long-standing friendship there with Coral Avalon, so you have to assume she has another debt to settle tonight.
Richard Parker: Revenge, huh? That’s an interesting way of saying “attempted fork-hicular manslaughter.” These two should both be arrested for crimes and indicted. For crimes. Also I’m pretty sure neither of them have their OSHA cert yet. That might also be a crime.
Nick Stuart: Let’s be real, RIchard, if we started arresting people for things that happen here then none of us would have jobs.
Richard Parker: Huh. Good point. Well, in that case, maybe then can run over Joe Fontaine. I’ve had conversations with that man, so I’m not saying I’d approve of it, but I would understand.
There’s a brief exchange between Sykes and Calvin before the former slides his hands into the pockets of his sweatshirt and leans against the ringpost on the arena floor. The Arena darkens again. The shift in ambiance has the fans rise to their feet, the sound rising. And then, cutting through it all, The Battlecry.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the very start of Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH, Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain and into the well of sound filling the arena. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, an oppressive scowl of intensity a hallmark painting his face.
Richard Parker: I hope Farthington eats him alive.
Nick Stuart: Eats him?
Richard Parker: Just like Phil did, kick him in the face, and choke him out.
His shoulders sway with the bravado of his BMF walk, a spotlight lighting his path. The 2022 Wrestler of the Year is quick down the ramp, his gait swinging him around the arena floor, to the ring steps. There is no slowdown as his feet pound the steel, stepping between the ropes and exploding upright. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locking toward the curtain, all as Vince Howard makes his announcement.
Vince Howard: Introducing last…hailing from Bandera, Texas by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 265 pounds… he is…THE DIIIIIIAMOND! OF THE REVIVAL! THE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOD!
The lights return, and as they do, the Suplex Daddy readies himself in an amateur stance, his hands on his thighs, a snarl of disdain curling his lips. If looks could kill, the next person out is already dead.
Nick Stuart: What a main event we have for you here on ReVival 30!
Nick Stuart: And here we go!
Youngblood and Calvin confer, while Joe and Farthington do the same. Sid Phillips is included in the huddle between the three men, the same for Jared as Sykes is in the huddle between Calvin and Youngblood.
Richard Parker: Get Sykes out of here! What’s he have to do with any of this!
Nick Stuart: You could say the same for Sid.
Richard Parker: Sid would struggle tying his shoes without Joe around, Nick. All he does is Powerbomb. Joe has to make sure he’s alright.
Calvin steps away from the group, as does Cecilworth Farthington. He looks across the ring and grins as Justine readies herself into a boxing stance. The two square off, Calvin takes a swing with a straight left, but Fontaine ducks out of the way and goes in for a leg. Calvin swings downwards with a right hand, while trying to hop on her back leg.
Richard Parker: Look, Farthington has talked so much sense into Fontaine he stopped letting Calvin punch him in the face.
Justine Calvin then punches Joe Fontaine in the face.
Richard Parker: I spoke too soon.
Joe grimaces, but keeps the single leg and drives Calvin into the ropes. Jimmy Turnbull steps in between the two, and backs Joe away. Justine goes to step away from the rope, and Sid Phillips holds onto her leg. Justine, shocked, turns towards Sid and kicks him away, but turns around into a big roaring elbow from Joe Fontaine.
Nick Stuart: What was that!?
Richard Parker: What are you even talking about?
Nick Stuart: Sid Phillips grabbed Justine’s leg.
Richard Parker: She entered the powerbomb range, that was just a reaction. Totally innocent.
Calvin is floored, and Joe Fontaine goes after Justine, but Calvin lunges over and tags in The Universal Champion.
Richard Parker: Oh shit.
Joe Fontaine says the exact same thing. It actually kinda looked like Richard Parker’s voice was coming out of Joe Fontaine’s stupid mouth. The Universal Champion charges forward and picks Fontaine up around the waist, and drives him to the canvas with a shoulder tackle. Fontaine is frantically scrambling away from Youngblood, and turns towards his corner. Cecilworth Farthington looks down at Joe Fontaine’s outstretched hand, Farthington tags in and takes a huge swing for Youngblood’s face.
Nick Stuart: Woah!
Richard Parker: GET HIM!
Youngblood ducks under the penalty kick attempt and turns around, snarling at Farthington. On the outside of the ring, Jared Sykes has started to shout at Sid Phillips. Repeatedly pointing his left arm at Sid and yelling. Phillips begins to walk towards him.
Nick Stuart: A lot going on here.
Richard Parker: YES!
FLAMBERGE has arrived.
The young frenchman stands at the top of the ramp, smirking down towards the ring. He begins his slow march down, finally Youngblood see’s FLAMBERGE out of the corner of his eye. Calvin blocks off the side of the ring to the Neck Collector, but FLAMBERGE begins to stalk Jared Sykes outside the ring. Pinning him between Sid Phillips, the crowd, and himself. Inside the ring Farthington takes a swipe at Youngblood’s leg, but Youngblood manages to see it just in time and backs away.
Nick Stuart: What is FLAMBERGE doing out here?
Richard Parker: Stopping Sykes from interfering. CLEARLY!
Nick Stuart: Where’s the other rat? Where’s Best’s kid? He’s around here somewhere.
Richard Parker: WHAT’S HE DOING HERE!?
Coral Avalon steps from the back and the arena explodes. He comes jogging down to ringside, and starts walking towards Sid Phillips. Avalon begins pointing towards Sid and shouting at Joe Fontaine.
Nick Stuart: Coral Avalon is telling those kids they have officially made a BIG mistake!
Youngblood ignores the chaos outside the ring. Farthington and Youngblood, the two men stare each other down. Youngblood charges in, Farthington spins away effortlessly, Youngblood left snarling while Farthington grins. Farthington holds his hand out, and taunts Youngblood in.
Richard Parker: GO TO HIM BRANDON!
Youngblood charges forward again, Farthington ducks and Youngblood winds up in the corner. Joe Fontaine starts smashing Youngblood with forearms in the corner, while Turnbull comes over trying to get some control. Farthington stands back, smiling while Fontaine smashes Youngblood with another elbow.
Nick Stuart: BIG MISTAKE!
Youngblood reaches out and grabs Joe Fontaine by the throat. He shoves Fontaine away, leaving Fontaine swinging his arms into the colossal arm of Brandon Youngblood. Tyler Adrian Best makes his appearance at the top of the entrance ramp.
Richard Parker: Finally! His Dad must have been giving him some great advice on how to handle this situation. Or Farthington. Or Troy. Or even Dan Ryan. Maybe it was all of them. Maybe all of them gave this man the advice.
Tyler Adrian Best jogs his way down the ramp. Brandon Youngblood knows. He shoves Fontaine off the apron. Joe falls and lands on Jared Sykes as Youngblood takes off like a missile, sliding under the far ropes. Jimmy Turnbull immediately calls for the bell.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: This needs to come to an end. Right now. Turnbull is right.
Youngblood and TAB collide at the base of the ramp. Right hands and left hands, back and forth. Fontaine lands on Sykes, who immediately starts swinging. Justine Calvin dives into the fray, spearing Joe Fontaine out of the way of Sykes’ right hand, and crashes into Sid Phillips. Sid staggers backwards, and Coral spins Sid around and starts unloading. Farthington slides through the ropes and smashes Coral into the guard rail.
Ivan Stanislav steps over the guard rail from the crowd, behind Jared Sykes. Sykes backs away from the fray and directly into the massive Russian’s chest. Sykes’ eyes get very, very, very large.
DING DING DING
Ivan Stanislav: DYAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA~!
Stanislav throws Sykes forward into the ring apron.
Hayes Hanlon comes roaring down to ringside at a breakneck pace, followed by Nate Colton. Hanlon beelines to Youngblood and TAB, while Colton heads for FLAMBERGE who has started to pull Justine Calvin off of the Winds of Change.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: Oh. My. God.
Nick Stuart: HA! HAHAHAAHAHA!
Cancer Jiles appears at the top of the ramp. With a birthday hat on. He shrugs and just simply watches the chaos.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: Jesus, I thought he was going to pick a side or something.
Nick Stuart: Yeah, right.
Richard Parker: I almost had to cheer for him Nick. I almost had to. I don’t know what I’d do if I had to like Jiles.
Nick Stuart: I’m… I don’t… I don’t… I don’t know what to say Richard.
DING DING DING
TAB manages to fight his way down to ringside. Finally, Brandon Youngblood manages to wrap his arms around TAB, and lifts him, spinning him over with a huge spinebuster on the arena floor. But from behind, FLAMBERGE smashes into him with a kick to the back of the head, sending him down. Hayes Hanlon starts throwing right hands at FLAMBERGE while TAB and Youngblood take their time getting up.
Richard Parker: Oh, I think Sykes just got yeeted from the floor to the ring.
DING DING DING
Stanislav stomps towards Calvin, when finally Wade, Dam, and The Enemigos swarm ringside. An entire swarm of security follows them down after, and immediately surrounds Ivan Stanislav. The GLUEMINATI regroups, while Colton, Hanlon, Youngblood, Sykes, Calvin, and Avalon do the same on the other side of the ring.
Nick Stuart: Well, that’s all the time we have for this evening! Tune in, two weeks! Tropical Turmoil!