We open in the dimly lit backstage area of the Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C.. and the door of Vickie Hall’s dressing room. Camera panning left, Ginny Van Lear shifts her weight nervously from one foot to the other, her fiery red hair cascading down her back like a crimson waterfall. A worn satchel hung low on her shoulder, its contents hidden within.
Ginny Van Lear (quietly): Reckon she ain’t gonna see this comin’.
Ginny presses her ear against the cool metal door of Vickie’s dressing room, listening intently for any signs of life.
Ginny Van Lear: Awright, coast’s clear.
A mischievous grin spreads across her face as she reaches into her satchel and pulls out a buck bomb. She reaches for the door handle…
Ginny Van Lear: Here goes nothin’.
…and just as Ginny’s fingers made contact with the cold metal handle, a large hand tapped her on the shoulder. The shock of the sudden touch sends a shiver down her spine, her heart leaping into her throat. She slowly turns her head, her fiery red hair whipping around to reveal her wide-eyed expression towards the PRIME Wrestling Security guard looming over her.
Ginny Van Lear: Aw shoot.
The security guard takes a firm grip on her arm.
Security Guard: This way, Miss Van Lear.
He leads her away from Vickie Hall’s dressing room.
Ginny Van Lear: Adam ain’t gonna be happy ’bout this.
She sighs as they continue down the corridor, the sound of their footsteps echoing against the concrete walls.
We then cut to…
DARIN ZION vs. ARTHUR PLEASANT
The inside of the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. as tens of thousands of fans are screaming at their top of their lungs, ready for an action-packed card. Before we get our first match of the night going though, it’s time for… SIGNS!
WILL’S MUTED IN VOICE AGAIN
YOU MERELY ADOPTED THE VOICE CHAT, I WAS BORN IN THE VOICE CHAT
JUST WATCH OUT FOR THE RENO DICK COLLECTORS, THOSE GUYS ARE FUCKING CRAZY.
I’M DRINKING A GRIMACE SHA–
GLUEDON YOUNGBLOOD EATS BRAN
THERE’S NO BELARYOU OR BELARME, THERE’S ONLY BELARUS
I CAME ALL THE WAY FROM KAZAKHSTAN JUST TO SAY UZBEKISTAN IS GREAT NATION OF ASSHOLE
REVIVAL IS OVER 30, WHICH MEANS IT’S GOT INEXPLICABLE BACK PAIN
TITAN SUBMERSIBLE TOURS OF THE FLAMBORGHINI. NEW DISCOUNTED RATE!
IVAN WIPES BACK TO FRONT
FOR THE RECORD: ANNA WAS RIGHT
I STEPPED ON ARTHUR PLEASANT WITH MY BARE FOOT AND I’M HOSPITALIZED
Nick Stuart: Good evening, you wonderful PRIME fans at home! We are coming to you live, tonight, from our nation’s capital Washington, D.C. in the beautiful Capital One Arena. With me, as always, and sitting on my right – my illustrious co-host, the very talented Richard Parker! How are you tonight, Richard?
Richard Parker: Chafing.
Nick Stuart: Excuse me?
Richard Parker: I shaved my chest last night. For the ladies. You ever shave your chest, Nick?
Nick Stuart: Can’t say I have, Richard.
Richard Parker: Well, let me tell you, Nick, right now my nipples are itching like my last hooker wore poison ivy lip balm, and my pecs are raspy as a cat’s tongue.
Nick Stuart: And on that note, we’ll be kicking off tonight with what looks to be a very interesting match between the longest pantsed member of the Love Convoy, Darin Zion, and a man from a town our announcer can’t pronounce, Arthur Pleasant. We’ll take you ringside, now, where it looks like Vince Howard is ready to introduce the combatants in what should prove to be a most intense battle.
Vince Howard: The following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first…
The arena is drowned with the sound of “A Happy Song” by Bring Me The Horizon. The crowd grows sullen.
Vince Howard: From Chicago, Illinois and weighing in tonight at two-hundred and twenty-five pounds…
Darin Zion steps out onto the stage. A man who seems to think booing is a sign of adoration grins at his, uh… adoring fans.
Vince Howard: DAAAAAAAARIIIIIIIIIN ZIIIIIIIION!!
Zion makes his way to the ring. Fun fact, when he walks the lips on his pants kind of pucker and unpucker like someone trying to pretend to be a fish.
Vince Howard: And his opponent…
Richard Parker: How are your nipples today, Nick?
Nick Stuart: They’re not fans of attention on national broadcast, especially when much more interesting things are available to watch like Zion’s opponent for the night.
Vince Howard: All the way from Alaska…
Richard Parker: Did you notice he didn’t even try to say Utqiagvik this time?
Nick Stuart: Why, Richard I am pleasantly surprised and even impressed. Your pronunciation was flawless!
Richard Parker: That was a sneeze.
Vince Howard: …weighing in at 225 pounds… ARTHURRRRRRRR PLEAAAAAASAAAAAAAANT!
Pleasant walks out onto the stage to the “Immigrant Song” cover by Voodoo Prophet, displaying his disdain for Darin Zion by snarling with his fangs out. The crowd boos mercilessly at Pleasant as he walks to the ring. Fans in the front row next to the ramp way outstretch their hatred with endless middle fingers, but Pleasant is laser focused on his opponent.
Nick Stuart: Arthur is looking a little.. hungry tonight.
Richard Parker: Oh God. Thanks for the cannibalistic visual, Nick. Ugh.
Pleasant’s eyes don’t break Zion’s gaze as the two meet in the center of the ring getting instructions from Turnbull.
Nick Stuart: Jimmy Turnbull steps to the center of the ring and briefs Pleasant and Zion on the rules.
Richard Parker: Every time I see Jimmy, all I can think is “I could fit in that man’s thigh.”
Nick Stuart: That would be uncomfortable for both of you, Richard.
Richard Parker: You never know when you need a Ton Ton. Why do you think he’s reffing instead of wrestling? That dude looks like he and his fiery mane could take on this entire stadium.
Nick Stuart: Mysteries of the universe, Richard.
Turnbull backs away from the wrestlers and looks them both in the eye in turn. Each one nods. Turnbull signals to the bell.
Zion quickly steps into melee range of Pleasant and comes out swinging with two left jabs followed by a European Uppercut.
Darren Zion: FEEL THE PAIN OF A WORLD WITHOUT REAL LOVE®!
He follows up with a roundhouse kick, striking Pleasant across the chin with his heel. Pleasant falls to the mat.
Nick Stuart: A strong start by Zion who seems to have some unexpected motivation today. Any idea what’s got into him, Richard?
Richard Parker: He probably shaved his nips. I’m telling you, man, this’ll make anyone testy. I’ll be back, gonna get some vaseline.
Nick Stuart: Godspeed. Speaking of speed, Zion is looking to make short work of this match as he wraps Pleasant up in a Dragon Sleeper!
The crowd looks on as Turnbull watches for a tap out from Pleasant. The camera zooms in on Pleasant’s face to find that although it is turning a rather deeper shade of blue, it is also… grinning?
Nick Stuart: Not sure what we’re looking at here, folks. Pleasant appears to be losing and loving it. Oh, wait… no… it looks like Zion didn’t have a plan for Pleasant’s free arm and OH that’s got to hurt. Zion just took a shot right in the eye.
Zion releases Arthur who kips up quickly. Blood rushes back to his face, and his maniacal grin spreads. Zion continues to be distracted, placing a hand over his eye. Arthur bull rushes him.
A flurry of muay thai punches and kicks are delivered to Zion’s torso. Suddenly, Pleasant stops his attack and just stares at Zion, grinning. He waits. He looks around the stadium and flips off the entire crowd. Their booing intensifies, and his grin grows to Joker-like proportions.
Nick Stuart: Not sure what the strategy is here, folks. It looks like Arthur just wanted to take a break to piss us all off.
Richard Parker: Oh, no, Zion, don’t do that.
Nick Stuart: Welcome back, Richard. Don’t do what?”
Richard Parker: Don’t take your hand off your eye.
Pleasant rapidly pokes Zion in both eyes. Zion howls in pain.
Richard Parker: Told you.
Nick Stuart: Feeling better, Richard?
Richard Parker: I am, Nick. Didn’t find any Vaseline, but I was able to order an extra large popcorn.
Nick Stuart: How did that help?
Richard Parker: I got the butter on the side.
Pleasant peacocks around the ring while he thinks Zion is temporarily disposed of. He turns his back to cuss out a rather vocal audience member. Zion takes advantage of the opportunity, grappling Pleasant from behind and throwing him with a tiger suplex!
Pleasant lands on his head and lies on the ground, stunned. Zion starts to approach to wrap him up when…
Richard Parker: Is… is the crowd cheering Zion?
Nick Stuart: they are indeed, friend! Looks like the old adage the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the crowd has decided that while they may or may not love Darren Zion, they know they hate Arthur Pleasant.
Zion parades around ringside, waving his arms to the crowd.
Darren Zion: I FEEL YOUR LOVE! SHOW YOUR LOVE FOR REAL LOVE®!
Zion takes the opportunity to show off while also delivering a little pain to Pleasant. He struts over to Pleasant’s limp body and pulls it into a Boston Crab. Feeling the stretching pain, Pleasant wakes up.
Zion bounces a bit, trying to get Pleasant to submit as he works over the crowd, grinning and blowing kisses.
He makes a crucial mistake, lowering his head to check on Arthur below him, reducing the leverage he has on Arthur and allowing him to twist and slip away. Pleasant wriggles out from between Zion’s legs and escapes, using the ropes to pull himself up and support himself temporarily.
He continues to grin like he’s in on a joke the rest of us just aren’t.
Richard Parker: I don’t think Zion sees what’s funny here, Nick.
Nick Stuart: Do you?
Richard Parker: Buttery nipples.
Zion charges at Pleasant who has nowhere to run and throws a fierce punch at Pleasant’s jaw. Pleasant dips left and down to deftly dodge the attack. Zion glares and tries again to the same result. Pleasant continues to lean against the ropes, bouncing left and right dodging basic attacks while Zion fails to get any more creative.
Richard Parker: It’s like Pleasant is playing Punch Out against Glass Joe.
Pleasant bounces off the ropes and… into Zion’s arms?
Arthur Pleasant: HUG ME! I just want to be loved…
Zion appears confused about the right thing to do. The crowd starts to chant
HUG HIM HUG HIM HUG HIM HUG HIM
Not one to miss the opportunity to spread REAL LOVE®, Zion closes his eyes and leans into the embrace… and Pleasant bites him square on the nose. Zion reels from the betrayal, and Pleasant runs to lean against the corner, giggling and taunting Darren further.
Richard Parker: Wow, what a dick move.
Nick Stuart: I thought something smelled a little fishy with that hug.
Richard Parker: …was that a nose bite pun? Are we going low enough to do puns now?
Nick Stuart: …maybe.
Zion charges Pleasant with his head down like a bull in his rage, unable to process the extreme injustice in what he has experienced. Arthur cackles as Zion has played into a trap. He jumps over the charging Zion, lands sitting on his back, wraps his legs around Zion’s waist, and dives over the ropes to perform a tarantula hold!
Richard Parker: You know, all this rope play reminds me, I need to be sure to venmo Madame Victoria for the session last night.
Nick Stuart: I learn new things about you every day, Richard.
Pleasant releases Zion who falls face first down on the mat. As he starts to stand, Pleasant flips over the top rope and kicks him in the head. Stunned, Zion continues to try and stand up.
Richard Parker: Just stay down, Darin.
Zion is undeterred, and tries to rise from the ashes. He shakes his head to get rid of the stars in his eyes, and opens them just in time to see Arthur Pleasant diving down below his waistline as Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare yanks his signature lip pants to his knees.
Richard Parker: *cackles*
Nick Stuart: And Pleasant has truly lowered the bar tonight, folks, pantsing Darren Zion on national television. I thought we grew out of this in grade school, but here we are. Can you believe this Richard?
Richard Parker: *wheezes*
Nick Stuart: *sighs* come on, Richard.
Zion looks down in shock at the situation. The fans are shocked at the situation. The staff is shocked at the situation. Arthur Pleasant is shocked. Somewhere there’s a man in a small house watching a tiny TV. That guy is fucking shocked. His mother is shocked. Everyone is fucking shocked. What the fuck. Pleasant charges forward and Zion smashes him across the chest with a knife edge chop. Then another. Pleasant stumbles backwards and Zion manages to pull his tights up to his waist.
Richard Parker: At least he’s showing some self respect here.
Nick Stuart: Pleasant should have caught a disqualification… christ am I rooting for Darin Zion?
Richard Parker: It’s Hoyt. Or Nova. I don’t know which one anymore.
Pleasant comes in and manages to smash Zion with a right hand. Zion stumbles back, bounces off the ropes, and comes forward like a freight train and swings a huge big sad lariat that sends Pleasant spinning. Zion darts over and hooks a leg.
Pleasant reaches over and puts his foot on the ropes. Turnbull shows Zion a two count and Zion is apocalyptic. He brandishes three fingers to Turnbull and is shouting.
Richard Parker: He had his foot on the ropes the whole time.
Nick Stuart: He barely got it there.
Richard Parker: Sherlock Holmes here. Had the stopwatch out and everything.
Pleasant slowly gets to his feet holding his head, Zion spins around and Arthur catches Zion with a thumb to the eye. Zion stomps around the ring holding his eye, Pleasant tries to come in, and Zion gouges Arthur’s eye with his thumb. Pleasant holds his eye and is shouting in pain, but still managing to hold a faint smile.
Richard Parker: This is new.
Zion staggers back towards Pleasant, but Pleasant manages to drive a knee into Zion’s midsection. Zion doubles over and Pleasant grabs the back of Zion’s head and drives it into the canvas. Pleasant sits up on Zion’s head, driving his knee into the back of Zion’s skull. Pleasant tries to push himself up on Zion’s shoulders but Zion rolls out of the way as Pleasant’s knee crashes down into the canvas. Darin rolls to his feet and looks out into the crowd sneering. Zion grabs Pleasant by the back of the head and pulls him to his feet. He whips Pleasant into the ropes.
Nick Stuart: BAN HAMMER!
Richard Parker: NO!
Pleasant ducks under the discus punch attempt and smashes Zion with a kick behind the knees. Zion falls down to a kneeling position. Arthur fires off a buzzsaw kick that catches Zion just under the jaw.
Richard Parker: HE GOT ALL OF THAT!
Turnbull slides in for the count.
Nick Stuart: Real Love Darin Zion is out here showing you that love can prevail, Richard.
Richard Parker: This is Zion we’re talking about here, right? Like he drowned a man in chocolate like six months ago. You want his Real Love to prevail?
Nick Stuart: Well now that you put it like…
Pleasant gets to his feet and drags Zion up by the hair. Pleasant tries to get Zion up on his shoulders but Zion begins kicking frantically. Pleasant drops Zion down to the side and Zion is furiously elbowing Pleasant in the side of the head. Darin takes a step out of the grasp and winds up at a dazed Arthur Pleasant. He spins again and Pleasant catches him with a throat jab. Turnbull starts to yell at Pleasant but he scoops Zion up onto his shoulders, and heaves him over his head, falling with Zion he gets his knees up and Zion crashes down across Arthur’s knees.
Richard Parker: THAT’S IT!
Nick Stuart: Turnbull has to allow that throat jab it would have only been a warning…
Pleasant hooks both legs and Turnbull slides in for the count.
DING DING DING
Pleasant rolls off of Zion and sneers down at him as Zion slowly crawls to the side of the ring holding his throat. Pleasant grins and Zion shakes his head.
Vince Howard: Your winner by pinfall… ARRRRRRRTHUR PLLLLLLLLLEASANT!
Nick Stuart: Great match from two great competitors…
Richard Parker: TEETH! THE MAN HAS TEETH! Look at those things Nick. Absolute chompers. I’m going to ask Santa if he’ll get me a set.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
ENJOY THE CARMELIZED CRUST
We come back from commercial with a shot of the Capital One Arena crowd. If you think you’re getting lots of build up to what is about to come, sorry, but no.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
From the foot of the stage, the camera takes a wide shot as Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH powers through the arena. Through the blinding blue and white strobing light cutting through the darkness, the figure of Brandon Youngblood surges from the curtain, the DC fans going absolutely insane with raucous cheers. Tower of Babel powerwalks, his eyes trained forward, an oppressive scowl of intensity a hallmark painting his face, as well as a recovering scar across the bridge of his nose. He is not dressed to compete, donning a pair of white and black combat shorts, his wrestling shoes, and a black shirt cut into a tank top. On the shirt? The Pequod’s Pizza logo. Grab one in Chicago or Morton Grove. There is little hesitation as he makes his descent. And in his hand?
The PRIME Universal Championship.
Nick Stuart: Tropical Turmoil saw pretty much every championship in PRIME change hands…save one. Save the Universal Championship.
Richard Parker: And in truth, thank Hoyt for that. That main event had a lot riding on it, more than many would have liked to think. There was a very real threat of the Universal Championship no longer being the property of this company when all was said and done.
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, going to the nearest corner before climbing it and thrusting the Universal Championship into the air.
Nick Stuart: Promises were made. A celebration planned. But when the chips were down, when things seemed at their darkest, Brandon Youngblood not only stepped up, but met the moment. He matched the fire needed. For the first time in 2023, the Universal Championship was successfully defended. In the ReVival Era, the top prize in all of professional wrestling has been retained by the champion. Three of those are on the record of The Diamond.
Richard Parker: Not the biggest fan…but if Gengis Khan is knocking on your door, you need someone who has the stones to not just face up with him, but put him down. A conqueror of would be conquerors.
Each corner receives the same treatment, another explosion of cheers rocking the foundation of the Capital One Arena. The lights return as Youngblood drops from the last corner, beckoning to ringside attendants for a microphone. Taking into his grasp, the music fades, the Tower pacing, ready to speak. The crowd stops him.
The Universal Champion nods his head in acknowledgement, slinging the belt over his shoulder, waiting for the crowd’s chanting to slow.
And just when it seems they are about to…
Brandon Youngblood: Hey…I got all night, don’t let me stop you!
It’s clear this is the victory lap for the hero. Everyone gets to have their moment to enjoy it. After all, this win is for everyone to savor. Finally, left with only a buzz, the Tower of Babel begins to speak once more.
Brandon Youngblood: There’s gonna be some eyes out there in the wrestling world, wanting to know just what I got to say. What I need to say. After everything…Tropical Turmoil…all of it…this is the time to pour the champagne. To milk every last drop of satisfaction from all of it.
YOU DESERVE IT!
YOU DESERVE IT!
YOU DESERVE IT!
Brandon Youngblood: I ain’t here to drink. I ain’t here to rehash. And I ain’t here to put on the neat little bow. This…
He thrusts the Universal Championship out before him.
Brandon Youngblood: …is all I got to say.
Brandon Youngblood: The past is the past. We’re moving forward. I’m moving forward. Because that’s what it takes to be the standard in this sport. Nothing taken for granted. Know your path to get here, but be looking at the horizon. Winning the Universal Championship, a lot of people think, is the hardest thing you can do in the sport of wrestling. It isn’t.
He lifts the title back skyward.
Brandon Youngblood: It’s keeping it.
Brandon Youngblood: Challenger after challenger. Fight after fight. It takes everything. It DEMANDS everything. Pieces and parts of yourself. Your spirit. Your attention. Your soul. And if anyone out there in PRIME thinks that they’re going to come knocking on my door and that they’re taking it? Try it.
His glower is particularly intense.
Brandon Youngblood: Try it, Ivan. Because I despise you. I hate you. And you? You hate me. But your spot at UltraViolence is cemented and sealed. You’re in the main event in Chicago. And I imagine people think that puts you in a grand ole spot. All the time to prepare. Gameplan. Train. You could sit on your ass and do nothing for months. You could be as fresh as you’ve been in years.
Brandon Youngblood: Ask the last guy who had that much lead time how that worked out for them in the end.
THANK YOU YOUNGBLOOD!
THANK YOU YOUNGBLOOD!
THANK YOU YOUNGBLOOD!
Brandon Youngblood: So savor your time. One threat punched out, you can punch in. Enjoy it. You earned it. Turmoil Match. You earned the shot. But you’re not the hunter. You’re the prey. And you know why? Because the Champion is the one that has to go through the forge to get there. I’m not guaranteed Soldier Field. I have to earn it…just like I earned this in the first place. And to get there? Iron sharpens iron. And when I get there…make no mistake…I’m putting my boot on your throat and ripping your jaw off. I’m put you down to make into a damn rug, Bear Man. But until then…I want to make it abundantly clear…
A brief pause.
Brandon Youngblood: I don’t know who is the next one up. I don’t know if it’s Coral. Or Sykes. Nate Colton. Paxton Ray. Hayes Hanlon. Calvin. Anna Daniels. Luchador. Adam Ellis. Tsonda. Hoyt. Calvin. Pontiff. Jonathan Christopher-Hall. Cancer Jiles.
Brandon Youngblood: I don’t care if it’s Julien. And I damn sure don’t give a shit if it’s Cecilworth Farthington. Because no matter what you do with the 5 Star…you’ll never be its trendsetter. Because the true top of the pile? The number one? The best of the best? It’s the man in this ring right now. It’s the man who doesn’t just defeat his challengers…but makes it so they can’t be here anymore. It’s the guy who never lost that title back in 08.
His thumb is pointed toward himself, in case it wasn’t clear who he meant. You silly goose.
Brandon Youngblood: Whoever it is. Bring everything you got. Not for me. But for you. Because when it’s all said and done? Friend or foe? It’s the only way you survive.
Dropping the microphone, Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH once again powers through the arena, and as Youngblood exits the ring, we go elsewhere.
The camera cuts from the ring to backstage, where Angelica Brooks is standing by with The Anglo Luchador, uncharacteristically dressed in a three piece suit with a tie that has silhouettes of lucha masks on it.
Angelica Brooks: So I’m here with The Anglo Luchador, and you’ve been at the center of a lot of questions.
TAL: And I’m going to answer all of them, Angie. No more secrecy.
Angelica Brooks: Okay, so, what was Tropical Turmoil all about? Running out like that? Why is Paxton Ray out for blood?
The Luchador sighs and collects himself.
TAL: It’s because ever since November of last year, I’ve been helping to protect Melissa and Nora, Paxton’s estranged wife and his daughter, from him.
The Capital One Arena collectively gasps.
Nick Stuart: Holy…
Richard Parker: …Hoyt.
TAL: A few nights before we took them in, my wife and I met with Shweta Kallemullah. She asked us, and I answered right away. Yes. Yes. Nora means a lot to me, and if it meant putting my own body on the line to protect her, to protect her mother, I absolutely had no choice. I had to say yes.
Angelica Brooks: Wow, well, why did you run then? Were you scared?
The Luchador deeply exhales.
TAL: Not for me. If it were up to me, I would have fought Paxton, in barbed wire again, with exploding landmines, to the death. But it wasn’t about me. It was never about me, Ange. The fact that Paxton knew, that Foster knew, it meant they were in danger. They’d found out. And I don’t know what kind of resources they had working for them, fuck. Just, I heard rumors, right? We all did. Whispers. And you know with Desade in the wind, there’s only one evil bullshit thing with tentacles everywhere. Even if it was only a sliver of a chance that they were involved or someone was or whatever, I couldn’t risk it.
Angelica Brooks: Are they safe now? Are you still involved in hiding them?
TAL: That I can’t answer, Ange. You know why. Just…
He unbuttons the top of his shirt and loosens his tie.
TAL: They’re safe now. That’s always been priority number one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some business to attend to.
Angelica Brooks: Alright, Tom, thanks again.
As the luchador walks off, he walks into a man wearing a tan and green uniform with a patch that says UPS on it.
Delivery Driver: Apologies, Mr. Battaglia, I have a delivery for you.
The Anglo Luchador looks confused as he’s handed a long rectangular box, completely black. The driver then holds his electronic signing device and TAL reluctantly signs it.
Delivery Driver: Thanks, have a good one.
As the driver walks away, TAL looks at the box, and slowly pulls the lid off of it. As he does, a long-stemmed yellow rose, the petals as lush as anything he’s ever seen before, is revealed. He holds it for a moment and looks at it, rather confusedly.
TAL: Who sent me this?
As he looks at the box though, there is no mailing information on it. All it says is “FOR TOM BATTAGLIA”. He looks up, but no longer sees the delivery driver.
He then holds onto the flower and the box as he walks off screen as we cut to a pre-taped vignette.
THE FIRST QUESTION
We cut to a distorted screen, like an old VHS tape that has been recorded over too many times. After a few shaky bursts of static the image cuts to black as ominous, warped music plays over the darkness.
Haunting piano, strings and enigmatic 90s style synthesizer creates a mysterious mood. The odd flourish of a spicy saxophone fully completes the Unsolved Mysteries vibe.
Wait.. it’s actually Unsolved Mysteries music. Straight up Gary Malkin’s “Unsolved Mysteries” outro music. You can almost hear Robert Stacks grumbling about aliens and cultists.
Why this oddly specific music for this segment? Because, friends, we are about to embark on the mystery of this decade!
As the music continues its melancholy melody, a narrator peels back the shadows and explains the scene.
“Late one summer evening a man stood at a crossroads.”
The silhouette of a man staring down a road can be seen. Despite it being a bright and sunny day a nearby fog machine ensures the mood stays spooky.
“Who is this man?”
The mysterious man’s head perks up as if he can hear the narrator’s words. The fog swirls around him in a mystifying way.
“The Answer is another Question all together.”
A tilt of the figures head as he moves both of his hands to his hips as though annoyed by the Narrator’s speech.
“And the Question that you might ask is Answered by a name.”
The figure now scratches their head in confusion as the Narrator pushes on.
“..and.. And the Answer of the Name is.. Is.. Unquestionable. Nailed it.”
Throwing their hands up the shadowy figure seems to give up on the Narrator. The head swivels to look down both roads seemingly deep in thought.
“But as with all things it all begins with one question.”
With a snap of its fingers the figure ambles down the right side of the road. Intensified saxophone reaches through the fog as a sign, once obscured becomes visible, the Road to PRIME.
“Just who is coming to PRIME Wrestling?”
We then cut to the ring.
FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD COMRADE
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it’s time for our second match on the card. We have Kohime Mori…
Richard Parker: …and Alexei Ruslan.
Nick Stuart: No, Richard, it’s Kenny Freeman.
Richard Parker: No, Ruslan is walking down to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Great…
Indeed, Alexei Ruslan’s presence does nothing to please the crowd as the boo’s begin to slowly swell through the Capital One Arena. The Masters of the Moscowverse, Kenny Freeman and Randall Schwartz, emerge together and carry what might be the largest podium known to man.
They struggle mightily to carry said wooden podium, with Kenny in front and Randall in the back. Ruslan makes no attempt to look back at them, nor to help them, as he ascends the stairs and climbs into the ring. He grins wide and waves to the crowd, who can only pepper him with more derision.
Nick Stuart: Certainly not the warmest welcome for Mr. Ruslan and the rest of The Red Army.
Richard Parker: Yeah but not all of The Red Army. Where’s Ivan?
Ruslan looks at Kenny and Richard as they climb the stairs and try to get the podium between the ring ropes, somehow. He barks at them and moves closer, before resting his hip on the middle ring rope to give them more room. It’s a painfully slow affair. Kenny first tries to rest the top of the podium on the middle rope, but it slides towards Ruslan. Then he tries to get Ruslan to hold it steady, but that’s a bridge too far as Ruslan simply gawks at him.
Randall tries to direct traffic from behind, before having a look under the ring. Randall exclaims “Eureka!” as he pulls out a large wheeled dolly, which confuses everyone greatly as to how a dolly’s been sitting under the ring this whole time…a bit of confusion that goes completely over Randall’s head as he directs Kenny to help him move the podium onto the dolly, carefully wheeling it under the bottom rope into the ring. Ruslan simply stands in the ring with his hands on his hips. He checks his watch.
Nick Stuart: Oh this is painful…
Finally, the podium is set upright in the middle of the ring. It is literally as tall as the six foot tall Ruslan, and taller than Kenny and Randall. Ruslan produces a microphone from his brown overcoat.
Alexei Ruslan: HELLO WASHINGTON DISTRICT COLUMBIA!!
Alexei Ruslan: Where your country dictates your rules but you have no say. American Democracy in action!!!
Richard Parker: Hey he kind of has a poi—
Nick Stuart: Don’t start, Richard.
Alexei waves his hand broadly and continues beaming his glimmering smile.
Alexei Ruslan: I wished to take this time, as a surprise, to celebrate the great victories of our dear comrade, Praporshchik Ivan Stanislav!!!
He yells this as if it should garner him some sort of raucous ovation.
It does not. But he does check to make sure Kenny and Randall are clapping. Randall is absolutely ecstatic, but Kenny does a double take and then begins to clap the moment Ruslan looks at him. Alexei looks back to the crowd.
Alexei Ruslan: We stand here committed to recognizing the overwhelming triumphs of The Red Army! Why, I even asked Lindsay Troy if she wanted to put the weight of PRIME behind this occasion and she was so torn. I told her not to worry about it, we know the truth! Even Lady Troy wholeheartedly supports us!
Nate Stuart: Does that make any sense to you? Because it sure doesn’t to me.
Richard Parker: Well.. I mean… it uh…
Alexei Ruslan: So without further ado, let us give a fond “taxation without representation” surprise welcome to Praporshchik Ivan Stanislav!!
“The Soviet National Anthem” explodes through the arena, and we mean it explodes. Children scream and cover their ears as communist fanfare and loud Russian all-male choir singing is dialed to 11. It takes about one verse of uproarious Russian singing before Ivan walks out from backstage with a perplexed look on his face.
Nick Stuart: You know, I don’t think Ivan knew this was happening. He does look confused.
Indeed, Ivan is dressed in his ring attire, but as he walks down to the ring, he furrows his bushy brows at the setup in the ring. He takes one step up onto the apron and a second step over the top rope and looks down at his comrades.
Richard Parker: Oh I get it! That podium is so big because Ivan is big!
Nick Stuart: I said don’t start!
Stanislav’s voice picks up on Alexei’s mic.
Ivan Stanislav: Alexei Gregorovich, what is this?
Ruslan grins proudly.
Alexei Ruslan: Myself and our comrades wanted to have thank you for you, Praporshchik, for your stellar and yet unsurprising success in PRIME. Why, what has Ivan Stanislav done thus far?
Ivan places his hands on his hips and cocks his head to the side.
Alexei Ruslan: This man, my friend, has an undefeated record here in PRIME! This man has already battled for the Universal Title on one occasion.
Nick Stuart: If he’s so undefeated, why isn’t he the champion?
Richard Parker: Nick, let’s not try to piss off the Russians. Remember what happened to you last year?
Alexei Ruslan: He is ranked third. THIRD, in PRIME! He is undefeated in PWA matches! He is, by all rights, the HOW World Champion! And now, our friend and leader has yet another shot at the Universal Championship. So, Ivan, we would like to give you the floor, but first, we wish to sing to you a rousing rendition of that old Russian folk song: “For He’s a Jolly Good Comrade!”
Nick Stuart: Oh God…
Ivan beams and grips his suspenders while Alexei produces a pitch pipe. Ruslan blows his note and motions to the Masters. Randall Schwartz pulls a tiny Russian and Soviet flag from the podium and waves them and Freeman pulls out a crimson sparkler and raises it overhead for the crowd to see.
For he’s a jolly good comrade!
For he’s a jolly good comrade!
For he’s a jolly good cooooomraaaaade!!!!
Ruslan cuts everyone off with a closing of his fist for dramatic effect, and then begins again.
Which nobody can deny!
Which nobody can deny!
Which nobody can deny!
For he’s a jolly good coooooooomraaaaaade!
Which nobody can deeeeeeeeennnnnyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!
Ruslan opens both of his arms and hits a shockingly high note, and then cuts off himself and the Masters behind him. Stanislav feigns wiping a tear from his eye as he chuckles.
Nick Stuart: Give me a break!
Richard Parker: What? I like this!
Nick Stuart: Will you be serious!?
Ruslan finally speaks once more, his voice nearly drowned out by the anger of the crowd.
Alexei Ruslan: Comrade Stanislav! Speech!! Speech!!!!
He looks to Schwartz, who quickly yells out “speech” and then Freeman, who snaps back to attention and drapes a Russian banner over the front of the podium. Stanislav is all too happy to take the microphone and stand behind the podium, flanked by the Masters behind and with Ruslan to his side. Surrounded by sycophants, Stanislav can do nothing more than grin proudly for a good thirty seconds, basking in the vitriol of the crowd. . Finally, perhaps even mercifully, he speaks.
Ivan Stanislav: My, my, my is this pleasant surprise! Thank you, my fellow comrades in arms. And thank you, Lindsay Troy and all of PRIME for this wonderful, feel-good moment on PRIME programming. It truly warms my large heart. DYAAHAAHAA!!
Feedback screeches through the arena and most people have to cover their ears as the sound system labors under Stanislav’s overwhelming bellow.
Ivan Stanislav: You know, after Culture Shock I told Lindsay Troy that I wanted to “have some fun.” In having a bit of fun, I not only vanquished the majority of the “heroes” in PRIME, but also nonchalantly earned Universal title shot. I know that each and every one of you foolish counter-revolutionaries thought that I would lose the Turmoil match, did you not? You thought that perhaps Jared Sykes, with his precious forklift, would win?
A pop from the crowd.
Ivan Stanislav: What did he get? Less teeth in his mouth and his fiance got one hell of a facelift!! DYAAHAAHAA!!
The crowd, once again, boos. The Red Army laughs.
Ivan Stanislav: Or Nate Colton and his years of familial experience and pie in the sky attitude?
The crowd rubber-bands and cheers.
Ivan Stanislav: Of course, Sykes brained him “accidentally” and then Colton cried like newborn baby after I stomped him into oblivion! Why, after I beat his carcass at PWA-02, he hasn’t shown his face other than to go lose in wrestling ring!
The crowd, once more, displays their derision. Ruslan laughs and feigns a fainting spell at how upset they are, leaning against the podium for dramatic effect.
Ivan Stanislav: And the Event Horizon, eh? How many times we have to see that sun set? How many times before you all realize he is NOTHING compared to the collective might of The Red Army? I have been beating that whipping boy for almost an entire year straight, from pillar to post, and you fools continue to cheer him!
Stanislav spreads his arms wide.
Ivan Stanislav: Your three would-be heroes did nothing but let you down, as they always will. They are charlatans who cannot deliver you the happiness you so crave. Why, in your desperation, you probably even hoped that Cancer Jiles or Paxton Ray would vanquish The Russian Bear, right?
No pop for them. Stanislav frowns.
Ivan Stanislav: Yet they all lay battered, broken, and shattered beneath my boots, do they not? Yes, dear people of PRIME, your heroes tried. And yes, PRIME, once again they failed.
Stanislav points at the hard cam.
Ivan Stanislav: But PRIME, you run thin on heroes, do you not? After all, Nova was crushed in the past and left on stretcher? Coral Avalon too stood before me, and all you could do is try to cobble together some pathetic excuse to justify his loss.
Ivan waggles a huge finger and grins crookedly.
Ivan Stanislav: But, PRIME, there is one hero who seems to have ducked and dodged admirably throughout this entire campaign. Yes, one “man” who, despite appearing to always be on the front line, has never had the yaichki to formally get in the ring and try to stop me. I speak of the foul-mouthed Pretender-Champion! The “Suplex Daddy!”
Alexei Ruslan breaks into a laughing fit, grabbing his stomach as he guffaws.
Ivan Stanislav: The Diamond of ReVival! The “Concience of PRIME.” Mr. Fuck Around and Find Out!!
Ruslan is doubled over now, laughing. His voice is intermittently audible as he pleads with Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: Prap— please– is…. –unny!!
Ivan Stanislav: Brandon Youngblood!!
The crowd explodes for The Tower of Babel. Stanislav should have known it was coming, but it seems to frustrate him. Ruslan’s laughing fit comes to an abrupt stop as he scowls and shakes his head.
Ivan Stanislav: It does not matter how many nicknames one has to prop up their insecure psyche, the end will be the same! Hitch your hopes on this potential hero, if you wish! I will even be merciful! Brandon Youngblood! I give you some breathing room! Surrender Universal Title to me now, and save yourself beating later. Or, should you have to defend title before UltraViolence, take the exit ramp given and surrender it to someone else, coward! Because at UltraViolence, whoever is stupid enough to tremble in my shadow will learn that the fun and the games are OVER!
Ivan shakes his head, continuing his protracted proclamation.
Ivan Stanislav: But no, despite Alexei’s attempt to make this moment all about me, there are others in The Red Army who have been successful. Yes, The Red Army is on a roll everywhere! Not just in PRIME! Comrade Freeman is racking up wins in PRIME and The Masters of the Moscowverse are dominating the luke-warm, yellow-bellied feeder-federation “talent” in HOW.
Stanislav looks over his shoulder and Freeman and motions for him to stand next to the massive Russian. He clasps an enormous hand around Freeman’s shoulder.
Ivan Stanislav: And tonight, Comrade Kenny will continue to win! For there is no excuse for failure. Retreat backwards requires more bravery than ever continuing advancement in The Red Army!!
There’s just a subtle squeeze on Kenny’s shoulder. He squirms.
Ivan Stanislav: And so, I wish you all to celebrate this night and enjoy the upcoming match! Vince Howard, you need not announce Comrade Freeman. For I shall! But first, Comrade Schwartz, remove the podium from the ring!
Stanislav then releases Freeman and turns to Ruslan, with true happiness in his eyes. He hugs his longtime friend and then releases him.
Nick Stuart: If this is what we’ll be subjected to every ReVival if Ivan becomes Universal Champion… I just don’t know.
Ruslan barks at Randall to move the podium while Stanislav makes no attempt to help.
Nick Stuart: I think that podium is taller and heavier than Randall Schwartz. I don’t think he can move that on his own.
Ruslan simply stands and watches Randall. Stanislav stares at Kenny to tell him not to move. Randall just looks at Stanislav for a second, and then at Kenny before sighing to himself as he struggles, barely managing to get the podium back onto the dolly without nearly tearing a hole in the ring canvas. He does his best to get the dolly under the bottom rope…only to dump the dolly clear out of the ring to the floor outside!
Nick Stuart: Oh no!
Richard Parker: Pretty sure this might count as property damage, and that could be an issue for the Masters if they aren’t careful.
This giant podium is also a sturdy one, however, not breaking after the fall…much to the relief of Randall, who strains as he lifts the dolly back up before rolling it up the entrance ramp.
Nick Stuart: Oh, thank goodness.
Richard Parker: Nah, shame really…was hoping to see a yeeting tonight.
KENNY FREEMAN vs. KOHIME MORI
In the ring, Stanislav produces a notecard from his pocket and holds it in the same hand with the mic. He fishes into his pocket with his free hand and pauses, then retracts his hand from said pocket with nothing in hand. He pulls the card back and squints as he reads it. Ruslan, meanwhile, makes his way up the entryway.
Ivan Stanislav: Ladies and gentlemen! Comrades and cowards! This match is scheduled for one fall and is, arguably, more important than any other match on card! It is my pleasure to announce a representative of The Red Army! He stands…
Richard Parker: Oh this is great! Eat your heart out Vince Howard. You better hope you have an ironclad contract, because you might be put to shame tonight!
Ivan pauses and stares at the card, pulling it back farther as his older eyes read the statistics. He glances at Kenny and sizes him up, then looks back.
Ivan Stanislav: He stands… six feet three inches tall and weighs…
Ivan looks back at Kenny and considers for a moment.
Ivan Stanislav: …two-hundred and fifty-five pounds!
Nick Stuart: ……
Richard Parker: Hey, maybe he’s on that new Russian diet?
Ivan Stanislav: He is one half of the Masters of the Moscowverse! A man who will most assuredly win this match! From Los Angeles, California by way of Magnitogorsk, Russia, Comrade Kenny Freeman!!!!!!
Nick Stuart: By way of where? Magnet-what? What the hell does that mean?
Stanislav tosses the mic over to Vince Howard and grasps Kenny’s shoulder. He leans down so he’s eye to eye with one half of the Masters of the Moscowverse and points his finger into his face and talks, sternly, to him. He nods his head and waits until Kenny does the same, and then slaps his shoulder and squeezes it and gives him a thumbs up. Then, Stanislav exits the ring and loiters at ringside, looming near where the ramp meets ringside.
The rocking vibe of Little V Mills cover of “Precious Heart” spreads throughout the arena. Kohime Mori enters quickly, gazing around the arena while standing in place. A big smile on her face, Mori gives a double fist pump and an enthusiastic yell before making her way down the aisle. As she bounces her way to the ring, she leans left and right to slap hands with the fans.
Vince Howard: Standing at five feet and nine inches tall, she hails from Okayama, Japan… KOHIME! MORI!
She glances at Ivan as she walks past him at ringside and heads towards the steps, then quickly traverses the stairs and enters the ring in between the middle and top rope. She makes her way to the middle of the ring, her eyes shifting from Kenny to Ivan as she does. Once in the center, she lowers her head and makes a V with her index and middle fingers on her right hand, arm center mast. She raises her arm in a crescent motion until the V is above her head. Mori swings her arm down in front of her after a brief pause, a beaming smile on her face that quickly turns into a wince when Freeman rushes up from behind and drives a forearm into the crook of her neck.
Nick Stuart: Kenny Freeman on the offensive early here.
Richard Parker: With a great leader like Ivan in his corner, I wouldn’t expect anything less.
Kenny continues the attack by driving his heel into the small of Kohime’s back, following it up by dashing back a few steps before attempting a dropkick to the back of her skull.
Nick Stuart: Kohime rolled out of the ring just in the nick of time, and Freeman looks to be favoring his left arm now.
Richard Parker: Kenny landed awkwardly on his shoulder, but Ivan’s right there to check on him.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on!
Nick throws his arms up, as Ivan grabs Kohime and tosses her back into the ring between the middle and top rope. Kenny’s already back up to a knee, grabbing Mori by the hair and lifting her up to a standing position as he rises. Freeman clubs her with a forearm on the top of her head, then whips Kohime into the ropes. He lunges forward as she rebounds, and stretches his arm out to take her head off with a vicious lariat that has enough momentum to make him stumble when he misses.
Richard Parker: That’s gonna sti…WHAT!!
Nick Stuart: Kohime ducked last minute, and Ivan does not look happy about that.
Ivan slams his meaty palm on the mat a few times to get Kenny’s attention, as Kohime hits the ropes again and charges back toward Kenny with added momentum. Freeman turns back to face her, steadying himself as he prepares for whatever assault is coming his way, but he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that she’s going after his legs.
Kohime leaps forward and drives her shoulder into the side of Freeman’s knee, dropping him down as Ivan roars in disapproval. Kohime follows up the move by kipping up, and driving a few quick shin kicks into Freeman’s chest. Kenny is stunned by the quickness and force behind the kicks for a moment, as the apple of Morty’s eye gets into a slightly crouched stance then spins on her back foot.
Nick Stuart: A beautiful spinning back kick to the side of Freeman’s head, and he is down!
Richard Parker: Did Barlow check Kohime, because there has to be something in that boot of hers.
Kohime drops down to make the pin, so Ashley Barlow drops down and smacks her hand on the mat.
Just as Ashley is about to slam her hand on the mat again, she watches as Kohime’s eyes go wide then suddenly slides away from her like a child getting pulled under the bed in a horror movie.
Nick Stuart: Damnit, get him out of here!
Right after pulling Kohime off of Freeman, Ivan pulls him out of the ring.
Richard Parker: For what? Ivan is clearly worried about Kenny after he got hit with that loaded boot.
Nick Stuart: You know what he did.
Richard Parker: I know, I just explained it to you.
Kenny shakes his head, as Ivan holds him up and clearly tells him to sweep the leg. Neither one of them notices the roar of the crowd, as Kohime leaps into the air after gaining momentum from the opposite ropes.
Nick Stuart: Kohime with the Tope con Hi…lo.
Richard Parker: Did Ivan even notice that?
It’s almost cartoonish the way Kohime Mori slammed into Ivan’s back the way Wile E. Coyote would slam into a brick wall, and just stick there for a moment before sliding down into a crumpled heap on the floor behind him.
Ivan turns around, because while he didn’t flinch, he did notice something hit him, and he doesn’t look happy about it. Ivan lifts her up off the ground as he instructs Freeman to get in the ring. Kohime’s knees are tucked into her chest as Ivan moves toward the ring, but they don’t stay there. No, instead, her legs shoot out and drive straight into Ivan’s chest.
Nick Stuart: Nice recovery there from Kohime.
Richard Parker: What the hell was that?
What it was, was Kohime launching herself off of Ivan’s chest and into the ring between the middle and bottom ropes, then rolling through before leaping up and grabbing Freeman by the head and pulling him down with her knees just under his chin.
Nick Stuart: That was a double knee facebreaker, and just what Kohime needed right now.
Richard Parker: What she did, is piss Ivan off even more.
Whether she is aware of that, or even cares, doesn’t matter, because her focus as she kips up is on Kenny Freeman. She looks down at him, then starts driving the bottom of her boot into his shoulder a few times before grabbing his arm and locking him into an armbar. Ashley Barlow asks Kenny if he wants to give up, but he shakes his head in the negative before screaming out in pain as Mori pulls up and applies more pressure.
Ivan once again pounds the mat, but the meaty palm has been replaced by a stone fist. His eyes are narrowed as he barks orders at Freeman, who is desperately trying to reach the ropes to break the hold. Ivan notices he isn’t too far away, and makes his way over to that side of the ring before reaching in and pulling the two of them close enough for Kenny to wrap his fingers around the rope and cause the break. Ashley doesn’t hesitate to warn Ivan that she’ll throw him out if he continues to interfere.
Richard Parker: Oh, but she’ll let Kohime’s loaded boot go.
Nick Stuart: There’s nothing wrong with her boots.
Richard Parker: How do you know that, are you in on it?
Nick Stuart: There’s nothing to be in on.
Richard Parker: Are you willing to say that under oath?
Nick looks over at Richard curiously, as Kohime helps Freeman up to his feet before rearing back and swinging her arm at his chest with a vicious chop that makes him drop to his knees and scream out as his skin turns beet red. Another chop from Kohime has Kenny clutching his chest, leaving him open for a back handed slap that spins him around slightly before he drops and rolls out of the ring.
Kohime grabs the top rope and hops up, planting her feet on the middle rope, but ends up hopping off when she sees Ivan come around the corner to help Kenny up to his feet. Ivan points toward her as she steps away from the ropes. Kenny nods after Ivan speaks to him, then starts climbing the steps as he motions for Barlow to keep Mori at a distance so he can enter the ring. Ashley instructs Kohime to move back, which she does momentarily.
Nick Stuart: Kohime looking to keep the pressure on, catching Kenny Freeman with repeated forearm shots to the back.
Richard Parker: She didn’t even let him get into the ring, Ashley Barlow has been doing a horrible job officiating since the bell rang.
Kohime continues the assault, but Kenny manages to block one of the shots and grab Kohime. He pulls her in front of him and drives a knee into her gut, then wraps his arm around her neck and cinches her into a side headlock. He begins to drag her face across the middle rope, when she drives an elbow into his gut. Kenny immediately releases the hold and reaches for the jewels, doubling over as he groans in pain.
Richard Parker: This is ridiculous!
Nick Stuart: That elbow shot didn’t look to be that low.
Barlow checks on Freeman, motioning for Kohime to keep her distance as she does. With their attention on Kenny, neither one of them notices Ivan on the apron stalking behind Mori who clubs her from behind before lifting her in the air and tossing her toward the corner where Kenny and Ashley are. Kenny pulls Barlow away just in time to save her from getting hit from behind by Kohime.
Nick Stuart: I don’t hear you complaining about Ivan getting involved here.
Richard Parker: Looks like Kohime just did another one of those kicking things to get away from Ivan like she did earlier.
Nick Stuart: You know he just yeeted her across the ring!
Richard Parker: I feel like I need to watch the replay later just to be sure.
With Kenny pulling Ashley out of the corner, saving her from an attack from behind by Mori. She looks back at Ivan who has already hopped off the apron, then back at Kohime as she stumbles out of the corner and falls to the floor. Kenny wastes no time in wrapping her up in the Freeman Special, and a few hand slaps against his shoulder later by Kohime causes Ashley Barlow to signal for the bell.
WHEN WILL THEY EVER LEARN?
With the crowd still buzzing from Kohime Mori’s return match against The Moscowverse’s Kenny Freeman, we switch to the backstage area where Arthur Pleasant sits in catering. Despite it being pretty early on in the night, multiple aluminum tubs of food have been emptied: a telltale sign that ‘Bobby Dean wuz here’. Pleasant, meanwhile, is not eating anything. Instead, he’s sitting in what looks to be an esoteric state of contemplation.
Before long, none other than Arliss Peters, ESQ., Pleasant’s personal attorney, all but materializes out of thin air. A surprising appearance, given Arliss’ distant nature from the nexus of Pleasant’s pro-wrestling ‘horse-trades’.
Arthur Pleasant: I’d say go get yourself some food but I think that fat fucking dreck of something barely qualifies as a human being Bobby Dean ate everything that was any good. Went for the broccoli cheddar casserole and found that someone chewed up and spit out broccoli back into the tin. Sans cheddar. What kind of a fuck wagon does that type of shit? Nevertheless, there’s still some kale in one of the tins if you’re so inclined to eat garnish like the rest of the goddamn rubes out there in DC.
Arliss Peters: I’m good, thanks.
Peters pauses after he picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Arliss Peters: Listen, I’ve looked into what you asked and… well, I think we have a case.
Arthur Pleasant: Do we, now?
Arliss Peters: Yes. I really think we do.
Arthur Pleasant: Interesting.
Arliss Peters: I’d say so. I can try and get a cease and desist for every username on Jabber but-
Arthur Pleasant: -forget it. Not worth the time and money.
Looking taken aback by Pleasant’s sudden non-interest, Arliss sits next to Arthur.
Arliss Peters: It’s entirely up to you. You’re the one paying me for my services. But if I could give you a tiny piece of legal advice? I think we should move forward with it. This could set a big precedent in the world of social media. Elon Musk will be serving you lunch on a ten-thousand-dollar Bloomingdale’s hand-carved diamond platter once all is said and done. Guaranteed.
Pleasant waves off Arliss with his hand.
Arthur Pleasant: To be honest with you, I could give fuck all about Jabber and all that bullshit. No matter what we do, outspoken white knighters like TAL, snarky ass wet blanket troll motherfuckers like Eddie Cross, and the existential void troll Miss Daniels and her army of eye-rolling “HEY I CAN BE MEAN AND TOUGH LISTEN TO MEEEEE” cucks will always pollute it. It’s a futile fight and I’m not about to waste any further energy on it. Not when there’s a real fight to be had.
Arliss nods and throws his hands up.
Arliss Peters: Welp, I get it. I do. Something like going after Jabber would certainly require a lot of energy out into the suit, and with your goings on as an athlete contracted to PRIME, I can see why it wouldn’t exactly be in your best interest to proceed. That said, what would you like to do?
All of a sudden, without hesitation, Pleasant blurts it out.
Arthur Pleasant: (laughing)I might just go to fucking prison.
Arliss Peters: Excuse me?!
Arthur Pleasant: You heard me.
Arliss Peters: Why?!
Pleasant feigns a laugh.
Arthur Pleasant: You know, for what I’m gonna do to this fucking Mortimer dickhead or whatever hilarious fucking nickname he’s calling himself for the summer. For that matter, what I do to his little GAS group as a whole. They’re all complicit and responsible for the actions of one of their feebleminded own. I mean, they’ve basically said as much from what I’ve watched it all back. Fucking glorified Trekkies.
Arliss Peters: Would that make Tony Gamble Captain Kirk? Or are we talking about Next Generation? Or even Deep Space Nine?
Pleasant stares a hole into Arliss and mouths, “What the fuck?”.
Arliss Peters: I may or may not have seen every episode of Star Trek. But don’t worry: I don’t attend the conventions!
Pleasant shakes his head and raps his fingers on the white plastic folding table that’s been set up.
Arthur Pleasant: Then when I’m done with them? Perhaps I march straight over to his girlfriend and kick the smile off her stupid fucking face again just for inconveniencing me and forcing my hand in dealing with her stalker boyfriend.
Arliss says nothing. He knows better than to interrupt The Provocateur when his mind is set on something and his lips are moving about.
Arthur Pleasant: Yeaaaah. So it’s like I said, I’m probably going to prison. I imagine the Toosie Roll Tootsie Pop Owl won’t take kindly to me shelving half of her roster because of one person. Might wanna get the bail money ready, Ar. That is if I’m not remanded, of course.
Pleasant’s hand quivers with immeasurable rage. The rest of his body keeps it in check, but his hand betrays him. As it often does when he’s trying to keep his emotions in check.
Arthur Pleasant: These fucking people. When will they ever learn?
Pleasant stands up from the steel chair he had been sitting in and places his hand on Arliss’ shoulder.
Arthur Pleasant: Get out of here, friend. Make whatever arrangements you need to in preparation for what happens next.
Arliss Peters: Arthur. I don’t like-
Arthur Pleasant: Just… get out of here. Go on. For both our sakes.
Patting his lawyer friend on the shoulder, Pleasant begins to make his way out of catering.
That’s when, out of nowhere, Yuri stops him.
Yuri: I have it.
The seven-foot Siberian Silencer hands Pleasant what looks like a cattle prod.
Pleasant’s mouth stretches out as far as the corners of it will allow.
Arthur Pleasant: I knew you’d come through.
Whirling the cattle prod in one hand like a twirling baton, Pleasant disappears into the rest of the backstage area while Arliss’ eyes follow him. Shaking his head, he looks at the gargantuan Yuri and throws his arms up in exasperation.
Arliss Peters: FUCK!
We then cut to elsewhere backstage.
NOT FATAL, NOT FINAL
It’s been two weeks; let’s check back in with our handsome heroes, shall we?
The mood in this corner of the locker room is quite a bit different since we last saw our beloved Toppy Troppy Turmy Bois. Back at Troppy Turmy…er, Tropical Turmoil, the mood was tense; the lads had a daunting task ahead of themselves.
But now that task is over…and they failed. The malaise of that failure hangs over all three of them.
For Hayes, there was no comeback. Instead, an early exit at Tropical Turmoil. A glimmer of hope after taking down Ivan was swiftly taken away by the stiff boot of Cancer Jiles. The result? A droopy mustache, and a quiet, hunched figure dressed in black. Flicking through his phone, and only here in Washington, DC due to contract obligations.
For Jared, this was another missed opportunity in a career that’s seen dozens of chances go to hell, though unlike the two men he shares this space with he no longer has the benefit of youth. The timeline shrinks; fewer days ahead then behind. It’s not something he’d vocalize, at least not in his present company, but the question of whether he’ll ever know what that success feels like again. Instead he occupies his time by fidgeting with the sling, the one his right arm is supposed to be in so that he doesn’t aggravate the shoulder again.
For Nate…honestly, who knows? He stares blankly into the open locker in front of him. He’s been like that for a few minutes now. You know how sometimes you’re hungry but you don’t know what you’re hungry for, so you open the fridge and just kinda stare and then eventually you get yelled at for trying to refrigerate the whole house?
It’s like that.
Jared Sykes: If you’re waiting for it to grow teeth and eat you then I have a feeling we’re gonna be here a while.
Nate’s head turns slightly, offering only a minor acknowledgement that someone was speaking to him. But it did push him into action at least, and he starts unloading his ring gear.
Jared’s eyes dart from Nate to Hayes and back.
Jared Sykes: Guys, I get it. We gave ourselves a mission, and we… well… you know, I’m just gonna go with “were less than completely successful.” It sucks, but it’s not like someone died here. Besides, if you believe the internet – and you shouldn’t – then crying is sorta my thing, and I would hate to have to bring y’all to court for gimmick infringement. Plus as wrestler lawyers go, my options are either Gavin Yum or Dr. Badguy, so really I’d just be burning money.
Nate Colton: I get it. The old…
He suddenly falls silent, and takes a moment.
Nate Colton: I’ve…heard people say, you can’t let failure define you.
Jared Sykes: Nope, but if you give it an opening then it’ll kick the fucking doors in and rub its feet all over your couch.
He rolls his right shoulder once, testing it, and contemplates putting the sling back on. He doesn’t do it of course, but the fact that he’s thinking about it at all is a big step.
Jared Sykes: There’s a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s called “Skybreaker.” Metal stuff. Loud guitars. Dunno if it would be your thing. Anyway, the chorus has kind of stuck with me. “Failure is not fatal. Success is not final.” There’s some other words in between there, but you get the idea.
Hayes replies with an indignant snort, his eyes remaining on his phone and drawing a little bit of side-eye from Sykes. Colton, however, nods at the notion. He stops unloading his bag for a moment, and swings around the bench to face the other two.
Nate Colton: Yeah, probably wouldn’t be my thing. But I like the idea. Hayes…you’re a baseball guy, right?
Hanlon, quiet and seeming uninterested in this conversation, lifts his eyes to Colton.
Hayes Hanlon: Uh, yeah. Once upon a time. Why?
Nate Colton: Back in college I had a gym buddy who was on the baseball team. He used to talk about different mindsets for the players, and the one that always stuck with me was what he said about relief pitchers. About how they learned to pretty much forget whatever happened the last time they played.
Hayes Hanlon: The old “be a goldfish” thing.
Nate Colton: That’s the one.
Hayes Hanlon: Well, unfortunately for me, I played first base.
The Event Horizon pushes himself to his feet, pocketing his phone.
Hayes Hanlon: And relief pitchers don’t get MVPs.
He heads for the door, leaving Sykes and Colton to share a concerned glance.
Jared Sykes: Hey, bud. Where you headed?
Hayes Hanlon: (shrugging while opening the door) I dunno. Wander around. Kill some time.
Jared Sykes: You good? You want some company?
Hayes Hanlon: Nope.
He steps into the hall without another word, closing it behind him.
Jared Sykes: I always forget that folks handle this shit differently. Well, on the upside, at least things seem to be going pretty good for you outside the ring if everything I’m hearing is true.
Jared’s question is answered with the heavy slam of a locker.
Which is odd, because half of Nate’s gear is still in his bag.
Nate Colton: Doesn’t matter.
Jared Sykes: Oh. Did something happen? Are you guys still…
His question is cut off, and the tone of voice warns to not ask again.
Nate Colton: Doesn’t. Matter.
He says it through gritted teeth, so you can tell he means it.
Nate Colton: Just gotta focus on what’s in front of us. For me, it’s beating the hell out of someone who deserves it.
Jared slowly stands and moves towards the door.
Jared Sykes: Alright, yeah. I’ll let you get to it, then.
The Next Diamond takes a deep breath, followed by a heavy sigh.
Nate Colton: Time to go be the good guy.
Colton starts peeling off his shirt, and you can practically hear Melvin Beauregard shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as the shot fades out.
JUST THE YOU OF US
Elsewhere in the Capital One Arena, there is respite for at least one man. He’s framed by the camera, in front of a door that conveniently has his name on it.
The people approve.
The Model Citizen is in his typical Southern California tuxedo of athleisure head to foot. He opens the door to his locker room.
Chandler Tsonda: Finally, some peace and fucking quiet.
Sure, there’s a camera over his shoulder, but that’s what passes for tranquility in the world of PRIME. He flicks the light on, and a pretty standard green room cum locker room is illuminated.
Tsonda tosses his bag down, and flops onto the couch.
Chandler Tsonda: (exhales) Home sweet h—FREEZE AND REACH FOR THE SKY, PERVERT!
He has not only bolted upright, but assumed a Jean Claude Van Damme style martial arts pose with both fists up. The camera pans right to show, lurking in the threshold of the locker room’s adjoined bathroom…
“Oh hey. Twinsies.”
It’s the same face, or damn close to it. Even a similar (although more budget-conscious) version of the head-to-toe athleisure. It’s like seeing…doppel.
Doppeltsonda: Damn, dude. You show up hella late for these shows. You know it started like forty-five minutes ago, right?
Chandler Tsonda: No, no, no, no. You’re not supposed to be here.
Doppeltsonda: You could thank me. I did my part to make people think Chandler Tsonda shows up in a timely fashion, instead of being a real Johnny come lately.
Chandler Tsonda: You are not Chand—I’M CHANDLER TSONDA, YOU DICK.
The body double flops onto the couch, in much the same way that the original version just tried to. He looks nice and comfortable.
Doppeltsonda: Ok, so bad news: I’m not getting paid to pretend to be you, ever since that Bobby Dean guy and I got found out as being in cahoots.
Chandler Tsonda: I know. I was the one paying you. I’m the one who found you both out.
Doppeltsonda: It’s too bad, too. I was really starting to inhabit the character. I could feel his motivations, you know? The lack of love from his father driving a maniacal drive to be the world’s greatest wrestler in order to leave a legacy so big that his father couldn’t ignore it like he ignored Chandler as a child, only to find that achieving this goal could only happen through becoming the same alienated, insular, and broken type of man who’s ironically destined to die alone just like, you guessed it: his father.
Chandler Tsonda: Does it count as self-harm if I strangle you to death?
The actor does a convincing Tsonda impression, holding up both hands as if to say he means no harm.
Doppeltsonda: Whoa, whoa. I haven’t gotten to the good news.
Chandler Tsonda: You got cast on NCIS: Guam and you fly out immediately?
Doppeltsonda: I wish. No, the good news is that I’m sticking around.
Chandler Tsonda: …what.
Doppeltsonda: Yeah, I found a, whadyacallit, a patron.
The Sultan of Style grabs his double by the ear.
Chandler Tsonda: Who?!
Doppeltsonda: (trying to fidget out of Tsonda’s grasp) I don’t get paid if I tell you.
Chandler Tsonda: (through gritted teeth) How about I pay you with the gift of your family not flying out here for a closed casket funeral?
Doppeltsonda: Dude, grim.
Chandler Tsonda: Tell me who your sugar daddy is, leech.
Chandler Tsonda: I can and will kick in the structural integrity of your face.
Doppeltsonda: Ok, so it’s kind of funny. The person who paid me also got me these temporary credentials for backstage. (he flashes an official-looking lanyard) And I checked, but those credentials make me, like, a sort-of non-combatant here. And I double checked, and it says none of the wrestlers are allowed to hurt me unless I hit them first.
Chandler Tsonda: You are truly my Frankenstein.
Doppeltsonda: Aren’t I more like your Frankenstein’s monster? Like, you the fanatical but wayward creator, and me the creation built from—hey wait, what are you doing?
The Viet Viper picks up his duffel bag.
Chandler Tsonda: I’m not booked, and you won’t tell me who’s bankroling you. So, I’m gonna enjoy myself in D.C. the old fashioned way: find Krysten Sinema’s apartment and fixing the glaring problem of it not having enough eggs thrown at the windows.
Doppeltsonda: What am I supposed to do?
Chandler Tsonda: Weren’t you paid to come annoy me?
Chandler Tsonda: Mission accomplished. Take the rest of the night off. Enjoy catering. Vandalize Tony Gamble’s car. Go crazy. And Jake?
The body double looks a bit sheepish at Chandler using his real name, and at the fiery look in the former champion’s eyes. Pleased to get the final word, Tsonda unleashes his finest Cheshire cat smile.
Chandler Tsonda: I don’t like people toying with me. You tell whoever paid you that if you show up at ReV 32, they should be willing to pay not just your day rate, but your hospital bills. Toodles!
And then there was only one (guy who can pass for Chandler Tsonda).
SAGE PONTIFF vs. EDDIE CROSS
As ReVival returns to the arena, fans are taking their seats and whisperingly excitedly about the next upcoming match of the evening, in this one, a curious affair of Eddie Cross and Sage Pontiff.
Nick Stuart: We had two brilliant nights at Tropical Turmoil, but for our upcoming competitors, they really put their bodies on the line in the name of victory. One was successful, one was cheated out of a rightful win…
Richard Parker: Hold on, hold on… you’re going to criticize a little tight tug? What about Eddie Cross’ actions after the match?
Nick Stuart: The passion was spilling out of him, Tony Gamble deserved everything that was coming to him, Eddie Cross was simply delivering it.
The announce team bickering is interrupted by a green screen.
Match Start in 10…
– Eliminate Other Players –
The opening guitar to Cross Off by Mark Morton (feat Chester Bennington) echoes, and the words repeat
“Cross Off the days gone…”
“Cross Off the days gone…”
As Mark Morton’s guitars sear through the arena, Eddie “n1ghtcraw1er” Cross steps out of the back and stops to survey the crowd before pumping a fist into the air. He adjusts his custom gaming glasses before walking down the ramp focused on the ring.
Nick Stuart: And here he is, I think it’s fair to say Eddie Cross is still seeking his own identity but as the young man explores the world, I’d say he has a strong sense of moral justice?
Richard Parker: Because he decided to assault Tony Gamble after his match? HE SHOULDN’T EVEN HAVE A MATCH! HE SHOULD BE SUSPENDED.
Nick Stuart: If we suspended every member of the roster who performed a post match attack, the show would be a two hour Melvin Beauregard one man show, is that what you want?
Richard Parker: I retract my prior comment.
EC pauses at the ring steps, taking off his backpack, unzipping the main compartment, and placing it in the corner of the ring. He waits for the transition between verses before psyching himself up. Vince Howard is waiting.
Vince Howard: From Charlotte, NC, standing six feet four inches and weighing in at 225 lbs, EDDIE “N1GHTCRAW1ER” CROSS!!!
Nick Stuart: You wonder if Eddie maybe feels a bit freer after opening up on Tony Gamble.
Richard Parker: If he wants to try that with Sage Pontiff, he’ll certainly find out very quickly if he’s a violent weirdo lad.
Nick Stuart: Eloquent as always.
He then runs up the ring steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and enters the ring as Chester Bennington screams into the microphone.
Making my way back from the madness
Shifting my thoughts from the blackness
And the sadness, but the fact is
I’m swinging through life like a clenched fist
Fuck sanity, I wanna bleed
Can’t kill the pain, it’s everything
It’s all I feel
It’s what I breathe
Turn the hate I breed into what I need
Heavy is the hand that points the finger (Finger)
Heavy is the heart that’s filled with anger (Anger)
Did you survey everything you laid to waste
And cross off the days?
Eddie rolls his neck and prepares for the match. As Eddie prepares himself for action inside of the ring, “Satori Part II” by Flower Travellin’ Band begins to play, signaling the arrival of Sage Pontiff.
Nick Stuart: People are looking at this man and pointing the finger at him for putting Rezin on the shelf…
Richard Parker: Point the finger? They should be singing his praises. Backstage smells are 1000% improved. Well… there’s still a matter of BO, but the shit smell has really decreased.
Nick Stuart: Our man in the field, Richard Parker.
As Pontiff has a look upon his face that could be called a smile but certainly belies a degree of menace, Eddie Cross glares at his opponent from the ring, clearly not overly impressed with the ways of the Boddhisattva, not that that bothers Pontiff for a single second.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, making his way to the ring at this point, he stands at six foot four inches and weighs in tonight at an even two hundred pounds, hailing from Joshua Tree, California… SAAAAAAGE PONNNNNTIIIIIIFFF!
Pontiff gets in the ring and referee Elvis Nixon conducts his last minute inspection of both competitors, quickly signaling for the bell.
The bell rings and the match begins. Eddie Cross charges at Sage Pontiff, but Pontiff ducks out of the way and hits Cross with a shoulder block. Cross gets up and charges at Pontiff again, but Pontiff hits him with a clothesline. Cross falls to the ground and Pontiff starts to stomp on him.
The referee tries to break it up, but Pontiff pushes him away. Cross gets up and hits Pontiff with a punch. Pontiff hits Cross with a punch of his own. The two men trade punches back and forth.
Cross hits Pontiff with a knee to the stomach. Pontiff doubles over in pain.
Nick Stuart: These two have wasted no time in going for it, I don’t know how much Elvis Nixon is going to be able to control these two, I think they may be spoiling for a fight more than trying to win a match.
Richard Parker: When tempers flare Nick, it can be a very dangerous game. With the adrenaline pumping through these two men, it’d be a wonder if both of them leave this match in one piece Cross hits Pontiff with a clothesline. Pontiff falls to the ground. Cross goes for the pin, but Pontiff kicks out at two.
Eddie Cross takes a few steps back and slams a kick straight into the thigh of Pontiff, who winces and smiles at the same time, perhaps in efforts to put Cross off. It doesn’t deter the young athlete though, as he follows up with two more forceful and solid punts right to the thigh, causing the leg of Pontiff to go rather red raw. Pontiff hobbles and takes a few steps back, with Cross trying to keep up the assault. Cross’ momentum is halted as he shoots in at Pontiff, only for Pontiff to reverse the momentum, leaving Cross to meet the top rope face first. Eddie Cross is quick to gasp for air and Pontiff is quick to follow with a snapmare DDT. He almost goes for a floatover pin, but stops himself and stomps in Eddie’s skull instead, much to the very loud disapproval of the crowd.
Nick Stuart: Quick acting from Pontiff got him out from Eddie Cross’ assault, he’s tall but he’s nimble.
Richard Parker: I almost asked him about his training routine once but then I realised I liked the red bits of my body to stay inside instead of outside of me.
A second attempt to cave Eddie Cross’ skull is less successful, as the young Cross quickly scrambles to his feet, nursing his head a little as he does so, glaring a hole directly through Pontiff. Pontiff nears Cross and gets an elbow smashed into his face as thanks for the proximity. Cross returns an elbow in kind and it quickly devolves into two men smashing elbows repeatedly into each other’s faces, much to the excitement of the crowd. After a series of elbows, Cross backs up, leaps, and smashes Pontiff on the face with a kick that cuts his cheek over a little. Pontiff feels his face and notices that Cross’ kick opened up his cheek a little. The bits of blood he can feel only strengthens his resolves as he rushes towards Cross and takes him to the mat with a slingblade.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff takes down Eddie Cross with what he calls the Cosmic Resonator.
Richard Parker: I was about to start asking questions but I’ve not realised that… I don’t need to know. That man’s business is his business.
Pontiff looks at the downed Eddie and decides he feels like trying something new. Looking over his shoulder, he sees Cross flat out on the flat, rushes towards the ropes, leaps into them and then brings his entire body weight onto Cross’ chest, back first. Cross gasps for air and Pontiff decides to go for a pin.
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross is able to power out.
Richard Parker: I don’t know how a man that size can twist his body in the air like that but I know I felt the collision. I’m surprised Eddie can still breathe right now.
Sage just smiles to himself as Cross kicks out and rolls off his opponent. He grabs Eddie’s hair and pulls him back up to an even base but Cross sees an opening and quickly sends a flurry of palm strikes into the chest of Pontiff, to create some distance between the two men. Pontiff lets go of Cross’ hair as Cross continues to jam palm after palm into Pontiff, his chest turning shades of red you wouldn’t think the human body could achieve. As a bit of distance is created between Pontiff and Cross, Cross once again takes measure of his opponent and takes a leap, this time landing a picture perfect knee strike across the chin of Pontiff, in a move that Eddie unfortunately decided to call “Trigger Warning”. Pontiff begins to look a little bit out of his feet and Cross knows this. He goes in for the kill, hoisting Pontiff in with wrist control and dropping him to the mat with a Regal Cutter.
Nick Stuart: I have to say, I’m a little bit surprised but Eddie Cross is more than standing his ground with Sage Pontiff right now. Maybe he feels freer after taking a measure of revenge against Tony Gamble.
Richard Parker: Or maybe he’s a horrible little goblin boy who should have been suspended without pay after Tropical Turmoil. Truly a thinker.
Cross decides not to go for the pin, instead electing to grab the legs of Pontiff, hooking him high and trying to turn him over into an elevated Texas Cloverleaf. The lighter Pontiff tries to use his lighter frame to wriggle free and Cross uses all his will to lift Pontiff and step over. The two struggle in the middle of the mat as referee Elvis Nixon looks on. To help give him a bit more control, Cross starts to use his free foot to stomp on the skull on Pontiff a few times, opening up the gash on his cheek over further. Even as Cross manages to turn Sage over and lock in the hold, there’s still a small smile on the face of Pontiff as he begins to struggle free of the hold.
Nick Stuart: The Fool’s Gallow! The lineage of that move… and he’s got it locked in tight.
Richard Parker: There’s something in Cross’ eyes tonight, he wants this win.
Cross leans back as far as he can to lock the hold in tight, but as he leans, his grip loosens ever so slightly and this is enough to catch a Sage Pontiff boot to the chin. Cross staggers but keeps the hold locked in as Elvis Nixon continues to check on Pontiff and whether he plans to tap. Pontiff more or less ignores Nixon as he tries to shift his weight, he manages to loosen Cross’ grip again, giving him a second boot to the jaw. This time, it’s enough for Eddie to lose control of the hold and Pontiff to break free.
Richard Parker: A few seconds and a snugger hold there and it’s over.
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross fought to keep it locked in but perhaps Sage’s experiences with pain gave him a clear enough head to strategise a way to break free.
Pontiff gets back to his feet, clutching his back as he does so and immediately launches his body at the dazed Cross. Cross sees the frame of Pontiff heading in his direction and manages to catch him mid-air, slamming him down to the mat and driving all of the air out of his body. He quickly flips over and jackknifes Pontiff for the pin.
Nick Stuart: Sage Pontiff breaks free of Eddie Cross’ clutches at the last possible second.
Richard Parker: I don’t know how you prepare for someone as unpredictable as Sage Pontiff, but tonight, Eddie Cross is doing it.
A mildly frustrated Cross looks over to Elvis Nixon, who holds up the two. Cross looks dejected for a few seconds before building up his resolve once more and bringing Pontiff back up to his feet. He leaves the dazed Pontiff trying to regain his bearings in the middle of the ring and starts to take a few steps back. He rushes towards Pontiff and leaps up, looking for a second “Trigger Warning” but Pontiff drops down and ducks the knee flying towards his skull. Cross has enough control of his body that he’s able to stop in place and spin back around to face Pontiff. Unfortunately for Cross, Pontiff returns the leap, grabbing Cross at waist level.
Nick Stuart: SHAMANIC DREAMWEAVER! WHAT A MOMENTUM SHIFT!
Richard Parker: I don’t know where he pulled it out from but he’s crushed Eddie Cross’ skull right into the mat.
Pontiff almost seems surprised at himself as he scrambles over and hooks Cross’ leg for the pin.
Elvis Nixon’s hand slaps the mat for the third time, with Cross’ shoulder rolling off the mat seconds later.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner of the match at a time of fifteen minutes and twelve seconds… SAGE PONTIFF!
Nick Stuart: He got there in the end, but I don’t think Sage Pontiff was expecting such an aggressive offensive to Eddie Cross here tonight.
Richard Parker: Eddie’s frustrations are starting to show themselves in the ring and it’s giving his offense a bigger snap. If he can channel this fully, I hate to say it but the roster might be on notice.
Nick Stuart: Be that as it may, the man who was victorious at Tropical Turmoil was also victorious here tonight. Sage Pontiff is once again etching himself as one of the top tier competitors in PRIME. We already saw just how close he got against Coral Avalon, I think it’s a matter of time before we see PRIME gold against this man’s waist.
Richard Parker: With our champions that is easier said than done, but Sage is a man who will not be concerned by such matters.
Just before the camera cuts away to our next beautiful scene, we are witness to two scenes, a victorious Sage Pontiff throwing both arms in the air in victory to the jeers of the crowd, and a frustrated Eddie Cross slamming both fists in the match, clearly thinking that he almost had Sage.
We then fade to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE 2023
A FUNERAL FOR FLAMBOrghini
We return from commercial to the backstage area, where Simon Tillier is standing in front of a pair of doors leading to a conference room, and he’s wincing. He doesn’t want to be here. Anywhere but here. He knows that when the men behind the double doors have specifically requested his presence, only chaos awaits.
But alas, Simon has a job to do, so he opens it up.
The scene is… well, where do we start?
First of all, there’s a small table in the center of the room where four championship belts are arranged thoughtfully. The 5-Star Championship of Cecilworth Farthington is placed on a high pedestal, and the Intense Championship of FLAMBERGE is placed on a slightly shorter pedestal that puts both belts front and center. The silver-colored Bang! With Your Partner Championships are placed at the base of the table, those belong to the erstwhile Winds of Change. Only, they’re called the Glue Man Group now.
The conference room has been rearranged with two dozen seats and a podium with a microphone in front of them. A small shrine is erected at a podium on one side of the room, with a large picture of a certain Lamborghini prominently displayed in the center of the shrine. An organ – yes, an organ – is being played in another corner of the room by a scruffy-looking man that no one recognizes.
Simon sighs as he walks in, and Joe Fontaine – dressed in a bedazzled black suit – smiles and claps for him.
Joe Fontaine: Ah, he’s here!
Several sets of eyes cast distracted glances at Simon Tillier as he walks in. Many of them are simply looking up from their cell phones. One is the 5-Star Champion, Farthington. Another is the Intense Champion, FLAMBERGE, who doesn’t so much sit as he does lie on a number of chairs as though he’s planking across all of them. Sid, also in a black suit, paces around with a cellphone in his hands.
Dirk Dickwood looks like he’d rather be anywhere but here right now. Hank sits stoically to one side, content to simply observe what’s going on. Gary Tongueman, for his part, sent a lovely card but is otherwise predisposed to handling the 5th arson inquiry at Farthington Manor in as many months. There is a mannequin seated with its legs crossed, almost front and center. A webcam and a tablet is mounted where the mannequin’s head should be. Simon appears to be especially puzzled by this.
There’s a very large casket in the room, so large that one wonders how it even got in the room. The casket lies open, revealing scattered pieces of a rusted, waterlogged piece of machinery that could feasibly be considered salvage from a drowned Lamborghini. The pieces are arranged in the vague shape of what a human man should look like, except that they have a tire for a head.
Simon walks in, taking in all of the sights.
Simon Tillier: Again?
Joe Fontaine: What do you mean, again?
Simon Tillier: You’re doing a whole funeral again?
Joe Fontaine: It’s different this time.
Simon Tillier: How!?
Joe Fontaine: Well, first of all, nobody from that last funeral returned my calls. Not a single one. Seriously, it’s like I did something to piss off Captain Justice, Mega Job, and the Bonafides!
Let’s not mince words, he did.
Joe Fontaine: I also tried to call the minotaur, just on the off chance that it might show up, but do you have any idea how hard it is to contact an unknowable entity that only exists in the depths of mazes or bodies of water? It’s not easy.
Cecilworth Farthington: He’s overseeing the hedge maze reconstruction… he’s very specific.
Joe turns to gawk at Cecilworth, who isn’t even looking up from his phone. Before he can start asking questions, Simon interrupts whatever train of thought he has.
Simon Tillier: How did you even get that coffin in here?
Joe Fontaine: Look, man, there’s some questions that don’t need answers, but all I have to say is that you should never underestimate the ingenuity and heroic spirit of the Glueminati!
It probably involves glue. Anyway, Joe wraps an arm over Simon’s shoulders and leads him further into the understated mayhem of the scene. Simon, naturally, shrugs him off very quickly with a curt “don’t touch me”, which Joe takes in stride.
It’s here that Simon recognizes the reason why there’s a mannequin with a tablet and a webcam on it. Joining us from across the pond is the scowling face of Phil Atken. His scowl is so permanent and all-encompassing that it’s entirely possible that this isn’t a live feed, but an animated GIF of the man’s face. Yet, the fact that his eyes follow Simon as he walks by gives him pause.
Simon Tillier: …Mr. Atken?
Phil Atken does not speak to Simon. But there’s a subtle change in his expression. The scowl gets scowlier. That’s a word, now. Either way, it’s enough of a change that Simon knows that Phil is here, and he’s not exactly thrilled about this development.
Sid takes his seat, and invites Simon to do the same.
Meanwhile, Joe walks up to the podium and taps the microphone. There’s mild feedback after the third tap, which annoys everyone in the room and also the one person technically not in the room. After an awkward pause, letting the feedback sort itself out, Joe proceeds.
Joe Fontaine: Friends, fellow wrestlers, glue buddies. As we all know, we kicked a whole lot of ass at Tropical Turmoil. Quite frankly, we kicked so much ass that we ran out of asses to kick and were left with a deficit of asses to be kicked.
Sid Phillips: Okay, but there’s no “we” here. It was just Cecilworth and FLAMBERGE doing the ass-kicking. In fact, I haven’t done a powerbomb in almost a month, and I’m getting antsy.
Joe Fontaine: Be that as it may, while many asses were kicked and left a quivering mass of ass-jelly that no janitor wants to clean up without a pay raise and some quality PTO afterwards… it didn’t come without cost. No. Few victories in this life rarely come without cost. And in this case, we all lost a dear friend, murdered by the cruel hands of a Time Lord. A Time Lord that, quite frankly, I suspect doesn’t actually have a driver’s license.
He pauses to scan the room. Most of the room couldn’t care less about what Joe is talking about. Phil Atken’s scowl might be becoming sentient.
Joe Fontaine: I’m, of course, talking about the FLAMBOrghini.
There’s a hefty silence in the air. It’s the silence that occurs when the fuck dispensary is closed and everyone has to hoard their fucks for the coming winter, unable to freely give any fucks.
Joe Fontaine: The FLAMBOrghini wasn’t just the cool-ass ride of a cool-ass dude that collects dic– I mean, necks. It was a symbol! Immutable, iconic, and prone to smelling vaguely of Abraham Lincoln.
Sid Phillips: You used that exact analogy when we talked about the mannequin at the last funeral.
Joe Fontaine: I did?
Sid Phillips: You even called it “immutable” and “iconic”.
Joe Fontaine: Well, shit. I’ve got nothing, then. Anyone else want to come up here and say a few words about our dear, deceased cool ride?
Cecilworth Farthington looks back over from his new position, throwing a fistful of assorted dollar bills (10? 100? 500? Maybe he’s got that trillion dollar coin they keep talking about) at the entrance to the room, where he’s just randomly tossing cash at a pillar. Most haven’t even turned to notice this action and it’s only from Joe’s position on the podium he sees this cash scramble before him.
Cecilworth Farthington: We’re almost done here, right? They said they needed the room in five, so I thought I should close the bar tab.
Dirk Dickwood: That is not at all how you pay for services, you have to know this right?
Cecilworth Farthington: If they want the money Dirk, they’ll take it. I know how the poors are, I’ve been something of a poor myself in the past.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, we’re not done yet. We still need more kind words for the funeral, my man!
Sid can be seen quietly sneaking a few of those bills into the inside of his suit, though the only person who can see this is Joe. And Joe’s not a narc.
Joe Fontaine: Hey Sid, what are you doing?
Oh. Nevermind. I guess I’m just a liar.
A lot of eyes now turn towards Sid, who has many bills in his hands and looks like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. Slowly, wordlessly, he starts putting those bills in his suit as well. The only set of eyes that hasn’t turned towards Sid is Phil’s. Phil is still staring daggers at Joe because it’s not like the mannequin can turn its head or anything, and because Phil very likely is considering transatlantic murders.
Cecilworth Farthington: Is Phil’s wifi connection broken or… no… right… good… got it. Joe, speed this up a little. Although I think that’s why this funeral is happening in the first place so… slow it down a lot? I can’t tell, the man is just glaring at me and I’m moving out of tablet range now.
Joe brings his voice to a whisper, presuming that Phil can’t hear him if he does this, and asks Farthington a question.
Joe Fontaine: Hey, Farthy, you’ve known him longer than me, but… Isn’t his face always like that?
Cecilworth Farthington: One time in 2015, he saw a small child burst into tears as his precious Minions balloon drifted off to the sky. I’m not sure if it was the child’s pain or he’s just one of those weird Minions guys but I think I saw a hint of a smile.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, well. Anyhoodle. This whole shindig could get done a lot quicker if you could say a few kind words about our dearly departed luxury ride, you know?
He whispers again.
Joe Fontaine: Just don’t look Philly A. in the eye while you do it, I guess.
Cecilworth rolls his eyes a little but willingly steps forth to the podium nonetheless. After a good twenty seconds of throat clearing, he begins the words deep from his heart.
Cecilworth Farthington: I did not know this car well.
Everyone awaits for the but, there is not but. Jared Sykes is not here.
Cecilworth Farthington: Thank you.
There’s a small smattering of clapping as Cecilworth takes his leave from the podium and out of sight from the original patriarch of glue’s piercing, disapproving gaze. Okay, the clapping is mainly from Joe. No one else cares.
Simon Tillier: How did you guys even get the FLAMBOrghini out of the San Diego Bay, anyway?
Joe Fontaine: Okay, so this is more like a simulacrum of the FLAMBOrghini than the actual FLAMBOrghini carefully arranged into a shape I think we all believe the FLAMBOrghini wished it could be in.
Only Joe believes it should be man-shaped.
Joe Fontaine: Which is to say that we don’t know if anyone actually got it out of the Diego or not. I had to make do with what I could, especially since this is on the other side of the country and all that. Look, I put a lot of work into this funeral, okay?
Sid Phillips: Actually, all you did was sit there and let production staff cater to your insane whims.
Joe Fontaine: I helped!
Sid Phillips: You poured water over the head of Jerry because you wanted someone to experience what the FLAMBOrghini went through in its last, terrible moments.
Joe Fontaine: I was getting him in the mood!
Sid Phillips: He ran screaming from the room and cursed you and your family for all time, which I should remind you now includes me.
Joe Fontaine: How was I supposed to know he was a severe hydrophobe?
Sid Phillips: Most people don’t pour water over someone’s head to simulate drowning.
Joe sighs and throws his hands up, and then turns his attention to the man who planks during a funeral – FLAMBERGE.
Joe Fontaine: Hey, FLAMBERGE, do you have any words you’d like to say about your cool, drowned ride?
It’s important to note that throughout the entire sequence of funeral events, FLAMBERGE has remained still, unmoving, and face down. Presumably he’s conserving energy in order to protect his eggs (the Intense Tlte) from predators (Morty).
FLAMBERGE (muffled): ……nffooo.
Joe Fontaine: Cool, cool, cool.
He turns to Sid.
Joe Fontaine: Sid?
Sid stands up, taking care to stuff some of Cecilworth’s money further inside his jacket. He walks up to the podium and places his hands on its sides as he contemplates what to say.
Sid Phillips: Friends, we stand here at the precipice of the unknown. What awaits this FLAMBOrghini is what awaits all of us in the end. What we do in life matters only as much as we believe it to. What we do here tonight will shake the very destiny of the Glueminati for decades to come. And that is why I have come to you as a humble representative of the one true faith to teach you all in the ways of the powerbomb.
Sid Phillips: Obviously, this is not an easy road to walk on. This is not a path one can take lightly. But I know a man. His name is Terry. Terry will help you achieve the enlightenment that I know all too well. I have never met a man so malleable and easily powerbombed as him. He was born in the powerbomb, just as I have, but only in the taking of powerbombs instead of the giving of powerbombs. With my incredible insight and Terry’s springy, resilient flesh… we can help you all achieve true enlightenment, for we are all powerbombs in the end.
Sid Phillips: Mind you, the path is not easy. You will have to surrender all of your other techniques, useless blasphemies that only take you further from enlightenment. There is only powerbombs. There can only be powerbombs. There will only be powerbombs. In powerbomb we trust, amen.
Sid walks away from the podium to stunned silence, excepting Hank, who was rubbing his chin in thoughtful contemplation. Phil Atken has stormed off, leaving only a view of the back of his office on his display. Dirk has his head in his hands, aghast. Simon is already standing up to leave with too much of his time wasted in this endeavor. FLAMBERGE has rolled off the seats onto the floor with a thud and now begins to worm-crawl towards the door, arching his hips and scooting on his chest.
Even Joe can only shake his head at what he just witnessed.
Joe Fontaine: …seriously, dude?
He watches despondently as FLAMBERGE continues to wiggle his way across the room. Wiggle wiggle.
Joe Fontaine: Guys! I had so much more material to work with for the funeral! Guys? …Guys?
Everyone has filtered out except three men. One is Hank, one is Dirk, and one is Cecilworth. Dirk is too busy being aghast, and Cecilworth is already back on his phone. Thus, the only one who is paying any attention to Joe is Hank, who seems to be waiting for Joe to call him up to the podium. Nevermind that Joe is aware of Hank’s… condition and thus hasn’t called him up. Hank just looks over to Sid and gives a reassuring thumbs up.
Joe shrugs his shoulders, and gives Hank his own thumbs up, evidently thinking that Hank is giving him the thumbs up.
Joe Fontaine: Welp. May the FLAMBOrghini rest in peace, amen… let’s go get some dinner. I’m thinking Arby’s. Apparently, they have the meats. Like, all of them. Crazy, I know.
Before anyone can object to Joe Fontaine’s reasoning, we mercifully move on from this… nonsense.
IT’S A BRILLIANT STRATEGY, THOUGH
The scene cuts to the atrium of the Capital One Arena where none other than Vickie Hall is seen standing on top of a soap box (literally, it’s a large Ivory Soap box, likely used for shipment purposes), megaphone in hand.
There’s a small crowd gathered around but most of this is due to the fact the fans are in their seats or roaming the concourse. However, if you ask Vickie, she would say it’s because the atrium in this arena isn’t very big to begin with.
On the right of Vickie, standing directly beside the soap box is Jonathan-Christopher Hall and to her left is Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy.
Vickie leans her entire face into the megaphone and speaks way too loudly.
Vickie Hall: HELLO WORLD!
The audio feedback is deafening to everyone other than her. Even Jonathan-Christopher looks like he wants to double over in the pain shooting through his eardrums. Luckily for those in attendance, Vickie calms down. A little bit, anyway.
Vickie Hall: I can’t believe someone like MY MAN who was a Pay-Per-View Champion two weeks ago was told he isn’t allowed to have an in-ring segment!
Vickie scoffs and sours her face. It takes a lot of consoling from Jonathan-Christopher for her to show any signs of wanting to continue.
Nick Stuart: Not everyone can get ring time, Vickie. Revival runs on a time limit, there’s only so much we can do each show.
Richard Parker: I can’t believe a Pay-Per-View Champion isn’t given a bigger moment to shine!
Nick Stuart: A Pay-Per-View Champion? What, exactly, did Jonathan-Christopher win? …Other than needing his entire group of friends to help him pull off the victory versus Rocky.
Finally, Vickie looks like she can speak again.
Then lets loose.
Vickie Hall: So I have THREE announcements!
Nick Stuart: We’re going to be here all night, aren’t we?
Vickie Hall: First: we are going to take over the front entrances of every single arena from here on! It’s time the LOVE CONVOY pushes itself as far as possible! We need our mission statement out there!
Vickie looks down at her Amazing Life Partner and then over to his cousin.
Vickie Hall: Gentlemen, if you will…
Jonathan-Christopher immediately races over to a storage bin in the corner of the hall. Once Tristan-Crispin arrives, the two pull out what looks to be a blow-up hot tub. The Nuzzle Lord finds an outlet, plugs in the cord and watches as the hot tub expands in front of their eyes.
Vickie laughs maniacally as the air pumped into the rubber structure echoes throughout the atrium.
…But her voice is still loud enough, amplified through the megaphone, that everyone can unfortunately hear her much too clearly.
Vickie Hall: I will REFUSE to leave the atrium of any PRIME complex until MY demands have been met!
Vickie rubs her hands together.
Vickie Hall: I want Jonathan-Christopher and myself to be identified as the major players in PRIME! Posterchildren for the company. WE ARE A BOX OFFICE DRAW AND DAMMIT IT’S TIME WE STARTED TO BE TREATED AS SUCH!
Jonathan-Christopher races back over beside the soap box and wraps his arms around Vickie’s waist.
Vickie Hall: Yes, my adorable little pra-porch-stick [Vickie’s attempt at saying praporshchik]. You are on the ascent!
Pretty Pink© takes a moment to scan the crowd.
Vickie Hall: Now, as for my second announcement…
Nick Stuart: Oh great.
Richard Parker: Quiet! We’re only 33% of the way through!
Vickie Hall: Recently on the social medias I made an announcement regarding the LOVE CONVOY attempt at expansion…
Nick Stuart: Dear god who in their right mind would join-
Richard Parker: When are applications due!?
Nick Stuart: There’s no way you enjoy them. I know you’re just patronizing me.
Once again, Vickie scans the atrium. It’s even more empty now than it was at the start of this segment.
Vickie Hall: We were looking to expand our ranks by many. Since I made the initial statement, we’ve had an overwhelming amount of interest!
Nick Stuart: I somehow doubt this.
Richard Parker: I need the application website!
Vickie Hall: However, I have decided we are going to limit our application process…
Lowering of head, narrowing of eyes, changing of tone.
Vickie Hall: To one lucky individual.
Vickie leans over to Jonathan-Christopher with a shit eating grin.
Vickie Hall: [off-megaphone] It’s a brilliant strategy, though.
Someone in the crowd ends up hearing Vickie’s comment.
Fan: You mean scam!
Vickie stops cold and hard in her tracks. FULL STOP. Almost robotically, her head turns from Jonathan-Christopher and immediately narrows into the exact spot, on the specific person, who said that comment.
Vickie is helped off the soap box by her man. She uses her peripherals to weave her way through the select few people before finding the person who said the comment, never taking her eyes off him. Vickie puts the megaphone to her face and even though she speaks normally, the sound obviously knocks the fan over in pain.
Vickie Hall: What did you say?
By now, Jonathan-Christopher and Tristan-Crispin stand behind Vickie. Neither of them look happy… well, as unhappy as a guy who likes to nuzzle himself and the other who has no backbone.
The fan stands upright. He looks a little rattled, mainly from Vickie.
Fan: Nothing. It was nothing.
Vickie nods and turns back to where she came from.
Vickie Hall: I would hope so.
Back on her soap box, Vickie acts like the last thirty seconds didn’t happen.
Vickie Hall: So ONE lucky PRIMATE is going to join the LOVE CONVOY before Soldier Field and UltraViolence. Tristan-Crispin has decided to take a break from the wrestling scene and will serve me, Vickie, in shaping my wonderful Amazing Life Partner to be the next World Champion!
Nick Stuart: Dream on.
Vickie Hall: In Gladhappy’s place we will find the BEST suited person for the position!
Vickie pauses. It looks like she’s done.
Until she isn’t.
Vickie Hall: AND MY FINAL POINT!
She screams so loudly into the microphone the feedback is extremely deafening. It clears out the rest of the fans who were standing there.
The Woman of Wonder suddenly looks pissed off. More than when the fan interrupted. Almost more than ever before.
She snaps her fingers. Tristan-Crispin instantly hands over a sheet of paper. Vickie looks the page over and scoffs before she flips it around.
It’s a mugshot of Nate Colton.
With one hand on the megaphone and one on the picture, Vickie goes back to address the crickets.
Vickie Hall: Nate Colton is TERRIBLE! He had the audacity to rub his victory in Jonathan-Christopher’s face after Nate won and my honey bunch of oats LOST!
Nick Stuart: I’m pretty sure they interacted after Nate Colton’s match but before Jonathan-Christopher’s. There’s no way Nate could “rub something in”.
Richard Parker: And how do you know this?
Vickie Hall: Nate Colton is a man who interrupted my last megaphone announcement, too. He said ‘THANKS’ when my ALP gave him a LOVE CONVOY pamphlet. It was a sarcastic ‘thanks’ and we do not enjoy sarcasm around here. The last thing I, Vickie Hall, ever wants to be… … … is passive aggressive!
She stops in an attempt to calm her emotions.
Vickie Hall: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!
Now that it’s out of her system, Vickie turns to Jonathan-Christopher with a wink. Then it’s a final address to the two or three fans left in the atrium.
Vickie Hall: Make no mistake whatsoever, Nate Colton is going to pay for disrespecting me. He’s dating a trashbag belly dancing floozie. Anybody who would be interested in him needs significant mental health counseling. But MOST IMPORTANTLY…
Drawn out pause for additional emphasis.
Vickie Hall: Nate and his side hustle ain’t welcome in the LOVE CONVOY. They cannot and will not sit with us!
Vickie hops off her soap box and brings her attention to TCG and JCH.
Vickie Hall: Let’s get water in that hot tub. I need a cool, refreshing dip.
Revival goes elsewhere.
As the camera zooms in on PRIME Wrestling’s backstage arena, Matt Mills stands in the center of the frame.
Matt Mills: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight I have the pleasure of speaking with two rising stars of PRIME Wrestling – Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear.
The camera pans to the right, revealing the young couple. Adam runs a hand through his long blonde hair.
Adam Ellis: Thanks for having us, Matt,”
He gently places a supportive hand on Ginny’s shoulder, who’s standing beside him with two PRIME security people standing behind her.
Ginny Van Lear: Hey there, Matt.
Mills turns to Ginny with her distinctive red hair and a fiery spirit to match. But tonight, Ginny seems subdued compared to her usual self. Her distinctive red hair contrasts against her pale skin as she looks chastened.
Matt Mills: Ginny, is everything okay?
Mills watches as Ginny fidgets with the hem of her shirt, clearly uncomfortable with the situation. With the two PRIME security men staring down at her, she shakes her head no.
Matt Mills: I notice there are two PRIME security people with you tonight. Is there something wrong?
Her eyes dart around the room, avoiding any lingering gazes.
Ginny Van Lear: Yeah.
Her eyes were cast down, an unfamiliar look of contriteness etched across her face.
Ginny Van Lear: Security didn’t take too kindly tuh me tryin’ tuh set off a bunch uh buck bombs in Vickie Hall’s dressin’ room.
Matt Mills: Ohhhh.
Unlike her usual feisty nature, it’s evident that she’s clearly trying to hold herself together, despite the visible cracks in her façade.
Ginny Van Lear: Almost did it . But Ah didn’ thank it through enuf an’ Ah got caught red-handed.
Security nods their head in agreement.
Matt Mills: I see.
Ginny Van Lear: So, Ah guess these security folks are goin’ tuh follow me aroun’ until Adam’s match.
Again, security nods their head in agreement.
Matt Mills: To keep you out of trouble.
Once again, security nods their head in agreement.
Ginny Van Lear: Yep.
Matt Mills: All right.
He turns to Adam.
Matt Mills: So Adam, you’ve got a big match coming up tonight. How are you feeling about it?
Adam Ellis: Feeling good, Matt. I’ve been training hard and I’m ready.
Matt adjusts his microphone as he prepared to ask his next question.
Matt Mills: Let’s talk about your match against Bobby Dean tonight,” Mills began, “How are you feeling going into this high-stakes confrontation?
Adam Ellis: Confident. I know I can beat Bobby. I just need to go out there and do it.
Matt Mills: Some people say Bobby’s size and unpredictability is one of his biggest strengths. How do you plan to counter that?”
Adam pauses, considering the question carefully.
Adam Ellis: I’ll say what I said earlier in the week. I just Bobby to bring his A-Game tonight because I’ll be bringing mine. and may the best man win.
Matt Mills: Thank you, Adam. Good luck tonight.
Adam and Ginny depart with the two PRIME security people following as the camera fades out and we head elsewhere.
THE BIGGEST MISTAKE YOU’VE EVER MADE
Argyle position. The production techs are in front of monitors with keyboards, keeping check on the show and everything going on. They have a visitor.
TAL: Come on, you drunk fuck. Where are you?
By now, his tie is completely off and draped around the back of his neck. His shirt has the top three buttons undone. He’s pacing. Finally he hears footsteps behind him and turns around to see Foster Nackedy stroll up, a small smile on his face.
Foster Nackedy: Hey buddy! Here I am, in the place you asked me to meet you. Why here? We going to go ringside for a nice chat?
TAL: Here because this is the last place a sneak attack from your feral mutant crocodile would happen.
Foster laughs, shaking his head,
Foster Nackedy: Buddy. We’re backstage at a wrestling event. Sneak attacks can happen anywhere.
The Bad Name Bomber shrugs.
Foster Nackedy: But don’t worry about that. I convinced Paxton not to come at you yet. Wanted to get a chance to talk about everything first.
TAL: Okay then, let’s talk. Let’s talk about boundaries. Let’s talk about accusations. Let’s talk about things that might be hard to take back. Or most importantly, let’s talk about a little girl who is tired of her life being in complete, chaotic upheaval.
The glare from the eyes behind the lucha mask could melt tungsten.
TAL: What do you think she thinks about being chased like an animal? And by whom? Any truth to the rumor you got Cthulhu Jules running your search party?
Foster rubs his goatee for a moment, blinks twice, then opens his mouth. Then he shuts it. After a moment, he opens it again.
Foster Nackedy: Oh. You’re…
He widens his eyes for a minute.
Foster Nackedy: You’re, uh…you’re doubling down. You didn’t call me over to apologize, or to make it right, or to maybe explain why you kidnapped a crazy man’s little girl. Just so you know, when I said I convinced Paxton not to come after you, it wasn’t some quick conversation. It wasn’t like this.
Foster holds up both hands in the universal shape of talking mouths. He opens one of his hands as he talks in a slightly higher voice.
Foster Nackedy: “Hey, Pax! Listen, the asshole who took your daughter is here tonight, but I want to talk to him, so why don’t you just relax and not try to kill him, okay?”
He then opens the other hand as he talks in a scarily accurate approximation of The Bayou Butcher’s voice.
Foster Nackedy: “Yeah, sure, I’ll let ya handle it. I’ll just sit here and throw rocks at the wall or read a famous person’s memoir.”
Foster raises both hands in the universal sign of “what the hell?”
Foster Nackedy: No, I had to fight for you. And I don’t even know why I did that, except to tell you what you probably already know. Whatever reason you think you have, whatever noble blood you think is beating in your heart right now, this was a grave mistake. Probably the biggest one you’ve ever made. And I am keeping him from attacking you right now, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do that much longer.
The Luchador stifles a laugh.
TAL: You’re a real humanitarian, Fost. You know that, right? Just consider this. You and that Paleolithic-era brute of yours seem to think people can be controlled or possessed. Nora is his daughter, but he doesn’t belong to her. And to be quite honest, and the State of Louisiana agrees, Melissa is better suited to be her primary caretaker. Her proxy came to me. I’m not doing this for me.
He throws his tie down on the floor and moves his face about three inches away from Foster’s.
TAL: I’m doing this because a little girl and her mother asked me to. They’re scared. Mistake or not, this is the right thing to do, and I’m tired of letting the wrong thing happen to innocent people like Jon. It ends here.
Foster Nackedy: Okay. Yeah. I mean, I knew you wouldn’t actually apologize, or ask me to spare you, or whatever. That’s not your style. And part of me would be pretty disappointed, like when you’re six years old at a birthday party and you go around the corner to find the Spiderman who just visited your party was actually some teenager smoking menthols. No that didn’t happen to me.
Yes it did.
Foster Nackedy: You’re going to be who you’re going to be. And that’s fine, because Paxton is going to be who he’s going to be. I guess we’ll find out how those two things mix.
Foster Nackedy: And you are right, Tom. It will absolutely end here. For you.
The Luchador rolls his neck.
TAL: Well, if that’s the case, so be it. Just don’t hurt the girl or her mother, Foster. I’ll haunt you two fuckfaces from Mictlan if you do.
The Luchador walks briskly past Foster, bumping into him on purpose before crossing the curtains back into the locker room area. Foster watches him go with a scowl, then looks over at one of the production techs.
Foster Nackedy: Hey, do you know if Mictlan is a suburb in Philadelphia?
The production tech looks at him like the moron he is, and we cut to the ring.
ADAM ELLIS vs. BOBBY DEAN
Nick Stuart: Coming up now is a match between a returning star with a so-far up-and-down debut and a wrestler who has been up and down since joining PRIME last year. Bobby Dean has won and lost since returning and now faces Adam Ellis, who is 4-4 in his time here.
Richard Parker: Maybe they’ll both lose!
Nick Stuart: We’ll certainly see.
Garrett Biggs’ “Mama Didn’t Raise No…” plays over the sound system and on the video screen, a video plays showing a series of wrestling trophies on a dresser next to an old high school football uniform that has ‘Ellis’ on the back.
An acoustic guitar plays and the vocals begin.
“Mama didn’t raise no… quitter- guaranteed to get the job done.”
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear walk out from the back hand in hand and stand on the stage.
“She didn’t raise no SOB who that can’t back himself up – been known to throw a good punch.”
The video screen shows a series of action shots of Ellis from his various matches
“And this ol’ boy gets going when the going gets tough- sundown to sun up.”
Dressed in a t-shirt, jeans, and her feet wrapped in tape the former MMA prodigy nods her head causing her bright red hair to flip, and raises her left hand…
“Need a man with a helping hand – he’s always got one to lend.”
…and then brings it down as the chorus and full instrumentation hits- complete with pyro.
“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.
Vince Howard: Making his way to the ring first, from Warrensburg, Missouri…he weighs in at 226 pounds…AAAADAAAMMMM EEEELLLIIIIIIIIISSSSSSS!
“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.
Suddenly, “You’re the Best Around” plays by Joe Esposito. Bobby Dean appears and immediately starts dancing.
Richard Parker: I think I’m going to be sick.
Nick Stuart: Be nice.
Richard Parker: I will not.
Bobby begins to make his way down, waving his arms and gyrating. It’s unpleasant.
Vince Howard: And his opponent! From Houston, Texas, and weighing in at 369 pounds…BOBBY! DEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!
Bobby enters the ring and raises his hands in the air before going to his corner and getting ready.
Nick Stuart: All right, here we go. This is an interesting matchup, pitting Adam Ellis’s mat wrestling prowess against Bobby Dean’s impressive size and strength.
Richard Parker: I love how generous you are with these descriptions. Just say he’s fat.
Nick Stuart: I will not.
True to their styles, Bobby charges in and Adam Ellis cautiously evades the larger man, rolling to the side while trying to grab at his legs. Bobby kicks away, then moves back before charging in again. Adam Ellis sweeps for his leg, getting his arms around it but unable to get Bobby to topple. Bobby once again kicks at Adam, who drops the leg and rolls. He finds himself behind Bobby, and he locks on a headlock. Bobby Dean backs towards the ropes and uses the leverage to break free of the headlock, sending Ellis onto the other side. Ellis comes back and hits Bobby, chest to chest. They both stumble backwards a few steps, but neither falls.
Nick Stuart: Both men trying to get an advantage, but it seems that neither is able to effectively use their own style to strike blood here early on.
Resetting his posture, Adam Ellis once again dives down deep at Bobby’s legs. You know the saying, if at first you don’t succeed, get grabbed by the waist and lifted up into a bear hug.
Wait, that’s not a saying where you’re from?
Nick Stuart: And here we go! Bobby Dean grabbed Ellis and is trying to squeeze the life out of him! Ellis is struggling but he’s got that hold locked in tight!
Richard Parker: Get the gun, Ginny! Your man is in trouble!
She does not grab her gun. Instead, she bangs her hands on the apron to motivate her man. Of course, it’s only a minute in the match, so it’s not like he needs that much motivation. He just needs the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis reaching over Bobby’s shoulder to grab the ropes. Here comes Ashley Barlow to break it up – woah!
Bobby Dean did not let go of Adam Ellis when asked to – in fact, he took two steps forward and slammed Ellis in the middle of the ring, then draped himself on top.
Adam kicks out.
Nick Stuart: You have to imagine that this the way Bobby Dean wants it – a slow, ground down pace where he can set the tone and weaken Adam Ellis.
Richard Parker: No, what he really wants is some food!
Nick Stuart: Come on.
Richard Parker: Because he’s fat.
Nick Stuart: I didn’t want to have to do this, Richard, but you’ve left me with no choice.
Richard Parker: What are you talking about?
There is a ruffling sound as Bobby Dean lifts Adam Ellis in the air and slams him in a body slam.
Richard Parker: Wait, what are you doing? What is this? Stop! What did this person put around my neck?
Nick Stuart: Doug here just put a shock collar on your neck. Ever since Bobby has come back, you have been unable to talk about his matches without talking about his weight. So every time you make a fat joke, Doug is going to push this button to give you an electric shock.
Richard Parker: No! You wouldn’t!
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) I would. I love pushing buttons.
Adam is trying to get his bearings, crawling towards the ropes. Bobby follows him, grabbing onto his leg. Adam uses the ropes to turn around, then shoves Bobby back with a kick. This gives Adam enough time to get to his feet and duck as a charging Bobby Dean sails over his head, going through the ropes and landing on the outside.
Nick Stuart: And Adam Ellis moves just in time! Bobby landed hard on his shoulder on the outside!
Richard Parker: Bobby just rushed at Adam Ellis like he was a…
Nick Stuart: Choose your words carefully, Richard.
Richard Parker: …like he was an opponent he wanted to attack. Ugh, this sucks.
Adam Ellis drops to the canvas and rolls out, stalking the big man. Bobby crawls to the ring, using the apron to stand up. But before he can, Ellis grabs his head and slams it into the apron, causing him to slump back down.
Bobby tries to turn around but ends up leaning against the steel steps and the corner of the ring. Ellis looks behind him, walks back about ten steps, then launches himself with a flying knee that crushes Bobby’s head against the steps.
Nick Stuart: Wow! Adam Ellis is taking advantage now, using the harsh environment outside to cause punishment to Bobby Dean!
Bobby falls forward. Ashley Barlow is a patient woman, an understanding woman, a fair woman – but she is done asking the two men politely to get back in the ring. She begins her count.
Ellis looks up at her and nods, then grabs Bobby and lifts him up. Or, should I say, tries to. His body is sort of dead weight at the moment, and Ellis uses his shoulder to drive him up against the apron.
Richard Parker: He’s going to need a forklift for this!
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) That counts, right?
Nick Stuart: It does.
Richard Parker: Wait! No! It was a Sykes jo–OW! OW!
As Richard screams, Bobby groggily sends a punch at Ellis, knocking him back. Barlow continues her count.
Bobby hoists himself up on the apron to a sitting position. He briefly looks up to grab the ropes, but when he looks back down he sees Adam Ellis running towards him, hitting him with a shoulder tackle. Both men spill inside the ring, and Ellis is up first to cover Bobby.
Nick Stuart: Kickout from Bobby Dean, and so far we’re getting a nice back and forth affair. A lot of action to sink our teeth into, don’t you think so, Richard?
Richard Parker: You’re trying to get me to make a fat joke, and I don’t appreciate it.
Nick Stuart: You’re right. I should be the bigger man here.
Richard Parker: Speaking of bigger men, Bobby is getting to his – OW OW OW! You set me up!
Bobby Dean gets to a knee, where Ellis meets him with a stiff kick. It gets Bobby to his feet, trapping him in the corner. Ellis runs towards him to splash in the corner, but Bobby gets a boot up, hitting Ellis in the face. Bobby grabs Ellis and forces him in the corner, then squashes him with his back to Ellis.
Nick Stuart: Bobby Dean is crushing Ellis in the corner, just using his mass to squash him!
Richard Parker: Ugh…
Nick Stuart: Ellis wants to escape but just can’t get beyond that large frame of Bobby Dean!
Richard Parker: You are a bad person.
Bobby sends one last butt bump into Ellis and he slumps onto the ground. Bobby climbs up to the first rope and then drops off of it, his butt landing squarely on Ellis’s chest. Barlow slides in for the count.
Nick Stuart: Adam Ellis barely gets a shoulder up! Again, this has been a great back and forth contest, both men really showing guts here. A lot of guts.
Richard Parker: It’s not the physical torture that gets me. It’s the mental torture.
Bobby Dean grabs Ellis’s arm and drags him towards the middle of the ring. He stomps on Ellis to make sure he isn’t moving, then slowly walks towards the ropes. Leaning against them, he lumbers towards Ellis’s body.
Richard Parker: Oh no, this is going to hurt!
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) Why?
Richard Parker: What?
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) Is it because he’s fat? Can I press the button?
Richard Parker: No, stop! I’d say that about anyone! Nick, save me!
Nick Stuart: I can let that one slide.
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) Ah beans.
Nick Stuart: Here comes Bobby with a big splash!
Nick Stuart: He connects! Now he’s going for the…wait, what?
Instead of covering Adam, Bobby stands over Ellis and starts dancing over him, grinding his hips.
Richard Parker: What the hell is he doing?
Nick Stuart: I don’t know.
Richard Parker: And why the hell are people enjoying it?
That’s a great question, Richard. But there are people at ringside who are cheering. Whether it’s ironically or not, that doesn’t really matter to Bobby. He hears cheers, and he is energized. He goes to the other ropes and comes back for another splash.
Nick Stuart: Another big splash! Adam Ellis looks out of it!
Richard Parker: Come on Bob! Pin him so I can get this damn collar off!
But Bobby does not. The fans near ringside start to chant “DANCE! DANCE! DANCE” at him. And once again, Bobby obliges, gyrating his body in the most grotesque way imaginable.
Richard Parker: This might be worse than the electric shocks.
Nick Parker: The more important thing is that he’s giving Ellis time to recover! I get wanting to have fun and giving the people what they want, but if you ignore your opponent and just dance, your chances of winning will be the opposite of Bobby Dean, which is to say slim.
Richard Parker: Wait did you make a fat joke?
Nick Stuart: I…I guess I did.
Richard Parker: Ha! Go ahead Doug! Push the button!
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) Gladly.
Richard Parker: Wait! No! OWWWWWW!!!
Bobby is still dancing. He’s really getting into it. The thrusts, the belly rubbing, the butt slaps. He’s so into it that he doesn’t realize that Adam Ellis is getting to his feet. Adam grabs Bobby from behind.
Nick Stuart: Adam has him! Trying to lift Bobby will be no easy task, but he’s trying!
Nick Stuart: He got him over! Big German suplex!
Bobby tries to get up and almost does, but he is met with Adam cocking back and leveling him with a Superman Punch!
Nick Stuart: Superman punch! Clark Kent’s in the building!
Richard Parker: So is the Blob! OWWWWWWWW!
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) They’re not even from the same comics company.
Richard Parker: OWWW I KNOW IT WAS STILL WORTH IT!
Nick Stuart: Bobby is in trouble! Adam is grabbing his legs! Elevated Boston Crab! It’s locked in! Bobby is fighting it! He’s fighting it! Adam wrenching the hold…it’s over! Bobby tapped out!
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: Your winner…ADAAAAMMMMMM ELLLLIIIIIISSSSSSSS!
Nick Stuart: Well it was a close match, but Adam Ellis was able to overcome the size difference to score a big win!
Richard Parker: Great. Can I take this collar off now?
Nick Stuart: Yes. Go ahead, Doug.
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) We can’t leave it on all night?
Nick Stuart: No.
Doug: (overheard on Nick’s mic) Ah beans.
We then cut to commercial.
FEATHERS NOT LEATHERS
Back from commercial, we see Vince Howard standing in the center of the ring.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our guest at this time. He resides in sunny Los Angeles, California and is your NEW Alias Champion…ABE LIPSCHIIIIIIIIITZ!
DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DO DO DO
DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DO DO
DO DO DO DO DOOO DO DO DO DO DO
(ting ting ting ting!)
Richard Parker: No, no, NO!
He might be a touch annoying and a little too vain, but the DC crowd still rumbles with cheers as “I Love Your Smile” blasts over the PA.
Nick Stuart: The PRIME faithful showing some love for our new Alias Champion!
Richard Parker: Of course they are. This is a city filled with slimy politicians and! They smell their own!
Out comes Abe Lipschitz. Tonight he is dressed as if he were a tennis star in the late 80s: Nike everything (tennies, ankle socks, sweatbands, Dri-FIT polo) but the center point of the outfit has to be the denim Nike tennis shorts that just barely cover his lower butt cheeks. He is sans the Alias title, but does carry a white Nike duffel bag over his shoulder.
Richard Parker: Why is he out here looking like Andre Aggasi tonight?
Stopping at the aisle, Abe points to a sign that reads “ALL THAT RACQUET COMING SOON TO NETFLICKS” and gives a thumbs up.
Nick Stuart: That answer your question?
The Scenery Boy soon arrives at the ring, stepping through the ropes and accepting the mic from Vince Howard. Crossing over to the other side of the ring, Abe puts his elbows on the turnbuckle in the “not that innocent” pose we all know and love. Shanice Wilson’s voice fades out as he moves back to the middle of the ring, and the Snuggle soft voice of Abe replaces it.
Abe Lipschitz: Ohmigod, I can’t lie, y’all. I had this whole big buildup planned before I brought the belt out, but I just can’t contain my excitement anymore. Check this out!
Reaching down to his feet, the Babe unzips his retro duffel bag and pulls out the Alias Championship for all the world to see, holding it triumphantly over his head with his free hand.
Richard Parker: What the hell did he do to it?
Abe Lipschitz: Never been much of a leather boy, but I sure as heck am a feather boy!
Yes, the Alias title had gone through a bit of a makeover to say the least. The outside around the plate was now lined in blue feathers all facing outwards, making the accessory appear much bigger. However, the main alteration was found in the back and highlighted once Abe strapped the belt around his waist.
It was an even larger display of blue feathers. Once he had pulled off the rubber band holding them in place, the back of the belt fanned out like a mating peacock. Abe gives a little shake of his new tail for the crowd to heighten the experience. Some within the Jewish community might view this as disrespectful, as a white Star of David had been curated within the feather spread. But it was more for the sake of pride.
Abe Lipschitz: I couldn’t be more honored that my first ever title is being held right here in PRIME. Because this is a place that embraces a break from the normal. It rewards individuality. And the first step to that for me was to put my own touch on the champion’s accessory!
Peacocking over to the ropes close to the ringside announce table, Abe leans and looks Richard Parker right in the eye.
Abe Lipschitz: Not everyone’s going to love it. A few are going to absolutely hate it. But everyone in the business is gonna recognize it, because it’s just like me…
Richard Parker: Completely ridiculous?
Abe Lipschitz: One of a kind. But let’s not let its appearance take away something very important about this title. Something that I know most everyone is going to agree with.
Turning on his heel, Lipschitz spins around and walks back toward center stage.
Abe Lipschitz: This right here around my waist will no longer be known as the Gamble Championship. It is time to christen it a name that is much more appropriate. One that will elevate its prestige beyond the status of Universal Championship. A name that means more to me than the Promised Land meant to the descendants of the original Abraham. A name to bring honor to a person who might just be second in command to Yahweh himself!
Unstrapping the belt, Abe lifts it up with his free hand above his head once again. Of course, this is a little more problematic than the first time when the rubber band held the feathers together. Now they are covering his face and getting in his mouth.
Abe Lipschitz: Thippppppsh ipppssh…ptttttshhh
Abe finally pushes his face through the feathers, allowing him to speak clearly.
Abe Lipschitz: Sorry about that! Please let me officially declare this championship…
Abe stops with a dramatic pause as if there were a drum roll somewhere in the arena.
Abe Lipschitz: Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration!
There is a smattering of laughter coupled with a good bit of cheering at the goofy declaration.
Nick Stuart: I can’t say I’m too surprised by this.
Richard Parker: Do we HAVE to keep hearing about how in love he is with our boss? Why won’t she just kiss him already so he can move on?
Nick Stuart: I don’t think he’ll be moving on until she lets him move in, Richard.
He’s right, sadly.
Abe Lipschitz: And as the boy who has Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration, I will choose to let the world know it by way of the special match stipulation. Just like me, I know everyone wants to see more of LT than the passing glances we get backstage. Therefore, when I defend Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration, Lindsay Troy herself will be donning the pinstripes as the special guest referee!
Again, another mixture of laughter and applause from the audience within the Capital One Arena. Abe seems to be enjoying the fanfare regardless, putting the belt back around his indigo-print tennis shorts.
Abe Lipschitz: I mean, what better way for her to really get to see all of my best qualities up close and personal? Oh, and also to ensure that the match is called fairly, too. That way nobody can whine about it on a radio show if they lose to me.
Richard Parker: What an idiot! She’ll probably pin him herself just so that she won’t have to be embarrassed by having him as a champion of her company.
Nick Stuart: Maybe that’s what he’s hoping for.
Again, Nick’s right.
Abe Lipschitz: I am accepting all challengers to try and take Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration away from me. I will fight like a rabid dog to keep this in my grasp. And unless I just happen to get distracted by her sexy referee attire, I will FOREVER have Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration resting on my lap!
DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DO DO DO
DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DOOO DO DO
“I Love Your Smile” kicks up once again, and Abe makes his way out of the ring. Of course, the tail feathers make him almost trip through the ropes and onto the floor. But he makes it through OK.
Richard Parker: We were so close to him breaking his neck and making today the happiest day of my life right there.
Nick Stuart: That’s a bit har…
Abe, who has now come up to the announce table, positions his face right next to Richard’s headset and yells into it.
Abe Lipschitz: LINDSAY TROY’S LOVE AND ADMIRATION IS MINE!
Richard Parker: Get out of here you annoying little sh…
We then cut backstage.
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER
The show feed picks up backstage, and with a plain dressed Coral Avalon walking down a lonely hallway inside of the Capital One Arena. He’s got his head down, and is doing his best to mind his own business. Absent from Coral’s possession is the 5-Star Championship, which The Crownless King parted ways with at Tropical Turmoil.
*The match took place on Night One of the PPV extravaganza so if you didn’t know about the title change that is probably why.
Nick Stuart: Tough break for Coral at Tropical Turmoil. He had worked so hard to get that championship. One has to wonder what is next for him.
Richard Parker: Whatever it may be, it looks like we’ll have to wait until ReVival 32 to find out. SHAME. I was so invested.
As Coral is about to turn the corner, and the show feed jump to whomever is next on the runsheet, he doesn’t. It doesn’t. Instead, there’s trouble uneggspectedly waiting for the former 5-Star Champion.
Trouble of a T-Shaded kind.
Cancer Jiles: WHOA! Watch where you’re walking! You might actually crack my mirror tint with that thing! Talk about your seven years of bad luck!
If it’s not obvious as to what Jiles was referring to when he said “that thing”, to clear up any confusion the hardest working man in PRIME jabs his index finger into the WMD sitting atop of Coral’s eyebrows Before Coral can quickly brush it away, the COOLYMPIAN reels back and winces in pain; as if the simple jab jammed his finger up nice and good.
Coral Avalon: Jiles.
Avalon pauses to close his eyes, already regretting being in the presence of the COOLYMPIAN for more than a couple of seconds.
Coral Avalon: You know, it’s not even that big.
The Crownless King palms his own forehead, double-checking its girth. Then, he catches his reflection in the mirror tint on Jiles’ shades. More importantly, he notices his reflection is all forehead, and it looks like he’s standing in front of a mirror that’s inside of a Fun House.
Coral Avalon: …Is it?
He shakes his head.
Coral Avalon: So, uh… you want to step aside, or should I? Not sure how the etiquette works here.
The disgust on Jiles’ clean kept face is palpable.
Cancer Jiles: Etiquette? Etiquette would have been you dropping down to a knee and apologizing for ever even looking at me, you crumb.
But no, Jiles is not done.
Cancer Jiles: Better yet, etiquette would have been you dropping down to a knee any saying, Mr. Jiles, it’s my life’s honor meeting you. Can you please sign my forehead? That’s what etiquette would have been, but we’re past that now.
A pause to see if there is going to be a fist fight or not.
It gets close.
But COOLER heads rule the day.
Coral Avalon: Oh, okay, so we’re going to be that way. Cool. Sorry, COOL. Almost forgot who I was talking to there. Sooo… this whole forehead thing we’ve got going on, you and me, is this whole obsession because Cecilworth used his to bust yours open back in the Murder Rumble or whatever we’re calling that mess? I mean, we probably have an accord on the whole “grievances against Cecilworth” thing, but you always seem to have grievances with everyone.
The COOLYMPIAN struggles to keep his reserve. The salt chips starting to form on his shoulders from his hair radiating pure NaCL say so. But, he does reign his dandruff in. It seems now is not the time for escalation. Probably because KING COOL has a match later on tonight, and even he knows he’ll have to be on top of his game if he wants to be victorious. So yeah, a backstage brawl is probably not in his best interest. Especially against a forehead like that. Still, it is Cancer Jiles we’re talking about.
Cancer Jiles: Do you want me to kick you in the face? It’s a big fucking target, pal, so I doubt I’ll miss.
Coral Avalon: Let’s not make any mistakes that we’ll both regret later, Jiles. Mostly you. You have a match later tonight, after all, and I wouldn’t dream of giving you any excuses if you lost tonight. So the way I see it, we both take a step to the side and then pass like two ships in the night, and we both go on our merry way and maybe never see each other again, ever. We, uh… are we COOL with that?
Being a man of his word, Coral smiles, and motions that it is okay for Jiles to pass by. Of course, the act of kindness does not sit well with the Greek God of COOL.
Cancer Jiles: No, you’re the one with the deformity. Far be it from me to stifle when I’ve got T-Shades, immaculate hair, and a normal sized forehead. You go first. I insist. Leave, and maybe visit a plastic surgeon. I heard Frank Stein is running a deal for returning patients.
Cancer Jiles: And I promise I won’t take your Night One spot while you’re away.
Coral’s gesture for Jiles to pass by becomes a little more insistent, despite the fact that he’s keeping his smile up.
Coral Avalon: Oh, no, I am the one who insists. You go first. I’d really hate for you to be late for a very important date with Nate Colton. You’ll probably need all of the salt in your shoes for that guy.
Coral maintains his smile even as he internally questions if having salt in one’s shoes makes them more effective.
*According to News and Notes if one has a fever blister it does.
Cancer Jiles: Fine. You’re right. That forehead is quite intimidating, and I do have yet another hot date later on. I’ll go, but since age before beauty is clearly out of the question, I’ll leave us by saying age before deformity and good day.
Of course there is a shoulder bump as Jiles passes Coral.
Coral Avalon: Good day to you, then!
His smile immediately drops the moment after Jiles walks past him, and he rubs his shoulder as though he’s trying to get the salt off of it.
Coral Avalon: (muttering) God, I hope I don’t EVER run into him again. EVER.
The show feed jumps elsewhere and to a place not nearly as COOL.
THE CANADIAN INQUISITION
We fade in to a shot of Nick and Richard, our intrepid announce duo, sitting at their usual stations. And while Nick is being quite professional and looking directly towards the camera, Richard’s eyes are wandering.
Nick Stuart: Fans, we’re just minutes away from what I’m sure will be an exciting match as Paxton Ray takes on the rising Rocky DeLeon…
Richard spins in his chair as a fan passes behind him in the crowd. Instinctively both hands go to his neck, but Doug and his shock collar are nowhere to be found. The movement startles Nick out of his monologue.
Nick Stuart: Everything okay?
Richard Parker: That depends. Are you going to unleash another electric ninja on me?
Nick Stuart: His name is Doug. If he was an actual ninja you wouldn’t know his name, because of all the shadows, smoke bombs, and secrecy.
Richard Parker: (sad grumbling noises)
Richard slumps back into his chair in a full-on pout. Nick, ever the professional (except when he’s conspiring to have shock collars attached to his partner), turns his attention back to the camera.
Nick Stuart: After Tropical Turmoil our own Angelica Brooks sat down one-on-one with Jared Sykes…
He casts a sideways glance to Richard in anticipation of some snark, but gets nothing.
Richard Parker: (hurty neck pouting sounds)
Nick Stuart: …we’re going to take you to that footage now.
The scene shifts to a room that’s been done-up to look comfortable, inviting. There are two arm chairs set across from each other at a distance that skirts the line between casual and professional. Someone even brought in a plant for occasion. It’s a ficus, if you’re curious. It’s the sort of thing you’d see on 60 Minutes or CNN. Or, in another universe, featuring a behatted BBQ man from Oklahoma and his guest.
And just like some of those other properties, we have two little words in the corner of the screen to let folks know this isn’t happening live:
Seated across from each other are Angelica Brooks, whose thoughts on BBQ are currently unknown, and Jared Sykes.
Angelica Brooks: Jared, thank you for your time.
He nods. If he looks nervous about being there, well, there’s a very good reason for that. Interviews are something he actively avoided during his years away from the business, and despite being back in the public eye for well over a year it’s only recently that he’s started to get used to the question-and-answer dynamic again. But this one isn’t like the others. There’s a level of intimacy that comes with two people sitting across from each other that doesn’t exist in a press conference full of miscreants, or a backstage chat while chaos unfolds in the background.
Angelica Brooks: There were some rumors floating around before Tropical Turmoil both about your status with the company and about a possible injury that you suffered on ReVival 29.
Jared Sykes: Yeah, I guess we weren’t very good at keeping a lid on all that.
He offers a faint smile, because he’s at least going to try and act like this isn’t all spiking his anxiety.
Angelica Brooks: How is the shoulder recovering?
Jared Sykes: I mean it would probably go a lot better if I didn’t stop taking this damn thing off.
He nods to the sling that’s currently holding his right arm in place.
Jared Sykes: I got lucky. I don’t think it’s any big secret that I’ve had issues with it over the course of my career, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared this would be the end. Fortunately I dodged a bullet and have just been dealing with a sprain. I’ve already been told they won’t clear me for Rev’ thirty-one, but I should be good by thirty-two.
Jared Sykes: Well, if I can behave myself.
Angelica Brooks: Based on what you just said I’m going to assume there was no truth to the contract rumors.
Jared Sykes: Oh, there was totally truth there. Deal that I had was originally for a year. It was supposed to end after Colossus. I guess I was “high risk” signing.
Angelica Brooks: High risk?
Jared shrugs, but it comes with a flinch as the sudden movement pulls at a still-sore shoulder.
Jared Sykes: I mean it makes sense, if you know the history. I’m not what you’d call a “company guy,” I guess. I’ve never really stayed in one place for very long, and I have a knack for getting myself into trouble.
Now it’s Angie’s turn to smile.
Angelica Brooks: Like with construction equipment.
Jared Sykes: Something like that, yeah. And I’m the guy who got a mannequin on the roster, so I get it. The short term deal was supposed to help mitigate some of that, but then Survivor happened and when Justine came on we renegotiated some things and everything got extended until this July.
He pauses for a moment.
Jared Sykes: The editors should probably cut this part out. It’s probably going to be crazy boring for anyone watching. “Oh, hey, Jared’s talking about business deals.”
No sooner do the words leave his lips does Jared reach for the glass of water on a nearby table. Anything to keep his mouth occupied with something other than talking.
Angelica Brooks: I want to go back to something you mentioned a minute ago, when you said that you never really stayed in one place for long. You were one of the wrestlers that came out to the ring at the end of Tropical Turmoil after Brandon Youngblood retained the Universal Championship.
Jared Sykes: I was, yeah.
Angelica Brooks: If you’re not a “company guy,” to use your words, why go out there at the end of the show?
Jared Sykes: That’s… That’s a complicated answer. If you had asked me if I’d do that when the night began, I probably would have said no. I mean, it’s the kind of moment I’ve thought about – daydreams and stuff, but usually when I’m thinking about it I’m the one that everyone is picking up.
He shrugs again, though this time much more carefully and only with his left shoulder.
Jared Sykes: Pretty childish I guess.
And then a sigh.
Jared Sykes: But to answer your question, sometimes you just get caught up in the moment. You see other people getting excited and it becomes infectious, almost like you’re being dragged along by the current.
Angelica Brooks: Do you ever see yourself having that moment?
He wants to say no; he wants it so desperately. The answer is right there on the tip of his tongue, ready to fly as easy as breathing. But he can’t admit that, not here.
Jared Sykes: I don’t know.
Brooks offers a slow nod, one that does little to hide the truth she suspects.
Angelica Brooks: Is that why you told Nate Colton and Hayes Hanlon that they should “make sure to invite you to the afterparty?”
Jared Sykes: That’s different.
Angelica Brooks: How so?
Jared Sykes: It… so…
Jared Sykes: Both of those guys are at the start of their careers. They’ve both had a taste of success. They’re the future of the company, right? Young, talented, and hungry. The type of guys you’d want on the marquee. Did I think that one of them was in position to take the number one contendership in the Turmoil match? Absolutely. You put me in that same situation right now and I’d say the same thing.
Angelica Brooks: And how do you feel about the outcome of that match? Some are saying it’s almost poetic that it came down to you and Ivan Stanislav, given everything that’s happened between you over the last few months.
Jared Sykes: I’m not thrilled with it, but I don’t think that’s a surprise. My goal that night wasn’t so much to win, as it was to try and even the score for everything that he’d done before that. I don’t know if I was successful. Probably not, if we’re being honest about it. But I know for absolute-goddamn-certain that he failed that night.
Given the outcome of the match it’s understandable why Angie furrows her brow.
Angelica Brooks: What makes you say that?
Jared Sykes: Simple. After all the threats… all the bullshit… After all of the violence and the promises to put me in the ground, the son of a bitch couldn’t do what he promised. I said he’d need every member of the Red Army, that he better hope they’d be enough. They weren’t. I told him that if he slipped… if he took his shot and missed… that I’d make sure he was reminded of that fact for the rest of his life. How did Ivan fail?
In contrast to the way he’s looked thus far, the expression on Jared’s face is one of absolute conviction.
Jared Sykes: Because I’m still here.
And with that, we fade back to ringside.
PAXTON RAY vs. ROCKY DE LEON
Nick Stuart: The action continues, ladies and gentlemen, as we move onto our next contest this evening! The fan favorite Rocky de Leon is set to face off with “the Lafayette Bruiser” himself, Paxton Ray!
Richard Parker: Honestly, Nick, I feel the pterodactyl kid is finally facing his own personal extinction event!
Nick Stuart: Both of these competitors are reeling off of shortcomings in the wake of the recent Pay Per View event! Ray fell short in the six-man Turmoil contest, and Rocky likewise suffered defeat at the hands of Jonathan-Christopher Hall! No doubt, tonight is an opportunity for either one of them to bounce back! Let’s see how it all unfolds as we go to our man in the ring, Vince Howard!
“They say it’s good to start a story with a tragedy.”
The chunky guitar riff of “Fistfight” by The Ballroom Thieves kicks in as Paxton Ray walks out under the PRIMEView with Foster Nackedy behind him wearing his disco concussion helmet. Paxton sneers as the fans boo, then slowly holds his hand up in the air.
The day I finally met you like I knew I would
You raised me from the wreck of my doubts
You were smiling to yourself as if we both understood
The silent language of the anguish of a heart that sings but doesn’t make a sound
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first, hailing from Lafayette, Louisiana and weighing in at two-hundred and forty-five pounds… the Bayou Butcher… PAAAXTOOONNN RAAAAAAAAAYYY!!
Foster gets ahead of Paxton, jeering at fans and shaking his head as if to show off his lovely helmet. Paxton slowly walks towards the ring, looking around as the crowd rains hate down upon him. He steps up to the apron and steps over the ring ropes, then leans back against them and closes his eyes.
The lights dim and “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” by Streetlight Manifesto begins blaring as green lasers flash around the Capital One Arena.
The mama pajama rolled out of bed
And she ran to the police station
When the papa found out he began to shout
And he started the investigation
Vince Howard: And introducing the opponent… weighing in at two-hundred and fifteen pounds, and hailing from Laredo, Texas… HERE IS… ROCKYYYY DEEE LEEEOOONNN!!!
Rocky de Leon steps through a curtain to a loud ovation. In a rare sighting, he’s come out tonight without mask or costume, instead strapped for a fight in an ensemble of jeans and a plain white T. Regardless, he elicits a proud and mighty SKREE~! from the PRIMEates before bounding down the ramp toward the ring.
Richard Parker: What gives? Did he just give up on the whole dino cosplay thing?
Nick Stuart: It’s definitely a rare sighting, to see the Lion of Laredo without the familiar pterodactyl get-up. But I have to imagine that the young Rocky de Leon is approaching this match with something of a streetfighter’s mindset.
Richard Parker: If that’s the case, then where’s his gi and headband? Only losers who use “Modern” controls wear the secondary outfit.
Nick Stuart: …I have no idea what you’re talking about.
FDP hits the ring and scales a turnbuckle to draw another SKREE~! pop from the crowd before dropping down the mat and taking to his corner where he readies himself for the scrap. Paxton Ray, meanwhile, paces impatiently in his own corner, waiting for the bell. He doesn’t have to wait long as presiding official Jimmy Turnbuckle makes his final checks and gives the signal.
Fists raised and face curled into a bestial, bloodthirsty snarl, Paxton Ray storms out of his corner and begins throwing punches without reprieve. Rocky throws up his arms and covers up while the Bayou Butcher swings away with his notoriously heavy and stiff rights and lefts.
Nick Stuart: No surprises here! The Lafayette Bruiser immediately goes into assault mode, forcing Rocky de Leon to take up a defensive position and hope for the best!
Richard Patrick: Send up a prayer to your Dinobot action figures, kid!
FDP backs himself into the ropes and weathers the storm. Ray’s hard jabs tag him in the forearms and shoulders, but only deal minimal damage. De Leon gravitates to the corner and entraps himself, but continues to turtle himself against the blows with the turnbuckles at his back.
Nick Stuart: Defensive positioning taken up by Rocky de Leon, protecting himself from that opening salvo of unforgiving strikes. Which is probably the smartest and most sensible move he can make, given the circumstances.
Richard Parker: Giving into that natural prey instinct is about all the kid can do at this point! Curl up into the fetal position, play dead, and hope for the best!
Jimmy Turnbull finally calls for some separation, drawing a glare from an increasingly irate Lafayette Bruiser. Nevertheless, Paxton backs into the center of the ring and readies himself. FDP’s face finally appears when he drops his guard and taps his protruding chin. Now fuming, Ray spits and charges forward.
Nick Stuart: Rocky provoking a HAYMAKER–which he BARELY ducks at the last second!
Richard Parker: Was he seriously trying to get Paxton to punch him in the face? Gotta say, that’s a ballsy move for the kid.
Nick Stuart: Risky, yet rewarding, as Rocky de Leon finds the window get in some hits of his own!
Ray’s whiff leaves his ribs open to a volley of swift, stinging strikes from FDP, leaving him wincing in pain and briefly staggered. He throws a wild left to counter, but the nimbler Rocky instead sidesteps and snags the arm before kicking off the near turnbuckle into a graceful somersault arm wringer than flips Paxton to the mat, earning an approving cheer from the crowd.
De Leon immediately attempts to transition into a standing armbar, but Paxton Ray is hardly a man to be held down without a fight. Before he can react, Rocky finds himself effortlessly flung through the air off of a furious armdrag by Ray to throw him off. FDP takes the bumps, rolls to his feet, and pops to his feet, quickly throwing the guard up again and backing into the ropes as Paxton pounces on him with another violent flurry of punches.
Nick Stuart: Rocky back into the guard and into the ropes! Almost seems as though he’s employing a rope-a-dope strategy in there!
Richard Parker: That so? Well then, would you say he came out here to float like a pterodactyl and sting like a SKREE?
Fed up with trying to break through FDP’s impervious shell, Ray pushes him off the ropes and sends him running the other way. But rather than bounce off the other set of ropes, Rocky slides beneath them to put himself on the apron. Paxton snarls as he rushes at him, inadvertently running himself into a quick shoulderblock to the midsection. As soon as he doubles over, FDP tugs back on the top rope for momentum and flips forward.
Nick Stuart: SUNSET FLIP by Rocky de Leon, rolling Paxton Ray onto his shoulders!
Kickout! This defensive strategy is paying off thus far, but it will take more than that to keep the Bayou Butcher down for the three!
Richard Parker: Meanwhile, Paxton is just getting angrier and ANGRIER! Look at how red his face is getting!
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure if that’s anger, or exhaustion, partner! FDP’s strategy appears to be paying off, as Paxton Ray appears to have lost much of his stamina from that opening assault!
Paxton’s face is indeed visibly red, and he is noticeably breathing heavily, which would likely explain why he’s a step slower on the rise compared to his opponent. For his part, FDP perks right up and hits the ropes for a springboard.
Nick Stuart: Rocky keeps the momentum going with a Springboard MISSILE DROP–NO!! Swatted down at the last second by Ray!
Richard Parker: Oof… well, kid, at least ya tried! Thanks for showing up!
Nick Stuart: And Paxton follows up with an elbow drop! Back up again, and there’s a SECOND! And… working his way back up to his feet… for the THIRD! Now the cover!
Rocky kicks out!
The fans cheer, but Paxton rolls Rocky onto his side, wraps an arm around his head, and constricts with all his might, squeezing the life out of the young high-flying pterodactyl enthusiast. FDP reaches for the ropes, but they might as well be a hundred feet away with the Lafayette Bruiser pressing down on him.
Richard Parker: Now Paxton has him right where he wants him! Lying down on the mat, where he can’t do more of his bouncing around.
Nick Stuart: Meanwhile, he’s giving himself a moment to catch his breath and find a second wind!
De Leon’s extended arms are nowhere near the ropes as Paxton continues to wrench away at his head. The action lulls, and the crowd is beginning to get antsy. A chant picks up, and grows in volume.
“ROC-KY! ROC-KY! ROC-KY! ROC-KY!!”
Digging deep, gets what traction he can off his legs to inch his way closer to the ropes. The fans cheer louder when they see him actually getting some movement. Feet slowly and steadily become inches as de Leon fights his way for the break. All the while, Paxton Ray shakes his head in incredulity.
Nick Stuart: Unbelievable! Look at the fight in this young man! Rocky de Leon, with the PRIMEates at his back, is slowly crawling his way to the ropes!
Richard Parker: He might make it!
Rocky is a hand’s grab away… when Ray suddenly breaks, bursts to his feet, and stomps away at his lower back to cut him off.
Nick Stuart: Bah! Only inches away, but Ray wouldn’t dream of giving him the satisfaction of a rope break!
Richard Parker: And now he’s in full KILL Mode!
Anger teeming over, Ray rolls FDP onto his back and goes into a mount, and immediately lays into Rocky with punishing rights and lefts that hammer him from above. Again, Rocky de Leon’s head disappears beneath his arms, and his forearms take the brunt of the damage. Uninterested in playing this game any longer, Paxton decides instead to rip him up off the canvas by the waist and flip him onto his back.
Nick Stuart: GUTWRENCH SUPLEX by Paxton Ray!
Richard Parker: Nothing the kid can do to block that!
Nick Stuart: And here’s the cover by the Bayou Butcher! Could this be it?
TH–NO, it will not! Rocky de Leon keeps his hopes alive for a bit longer!
The pain is evident on Carlos de Leon’s seldom seen unmasked face, but the grit nevertheless shines through as he crawls his way back toward the ropes before Ray can continue his assault. Paxton sneers down at him with contempt before grabbing him by the air (earning a harsh, albeit ignored, warning from Turnbull) and pulling FDP to his feet again.
Richard Parker: But for how much longer, Nick? Paxton Ray looks like he smells blood in the water!
Nick Stuart: I can’t help but agree! He’s got that look in his eye, and now with Rocky in his clutches, and hoists him up–wait, NO!! FDP drops down behind him! Rocky with the ROLL-UP!!
But the action keeps moving right along, as FDP scrambles up to his feet and attempts to tag the rising Paxton Ray with a kick to the midsection. Ray instinctively catches the leg, but leaves his head open to an enziguri that claps him right across the temple and drops him to the mat.
Nick Stuart: WHAT AN ENZIGURI!!
Richard Parker: The kid got all of that one!
Nick Stuart: Rocky with the cover now!
KICKOUT!! But he’s right back up! I think he’s got something on his mind!
Nick’s observations are on point, as Rocky scales up to the top rope and sets himself into position just as the winded Paxton pushes himself back to his feet. Ray looks up in time to see FDP diving straight onto his shoulders. Any attempt at a powerbomb counter is thwarted when the young pterodactyl enthusiastic pitches all of his wait backwards to take his opponent off his feet.
Nick Stuart: PTERICANRANNA!!
Fueled by the crowd and running purely off instinct, FDP springs back to his feet and vaults his way back up to the top turnbuckle. Ray remains stunned on the mat as Rocky again goes airborne with a Senton bomb!
…and NAILS IT!
Nick Stuart: THE DIVING DINO!! Rocky makes the COVER for the WIN!
THR–NO!! I don’t know how, but Paxton found the wherewithal to get his shoulder up!
Richard Parker: Rocky de Leon was a hair away from being the hero of PRIME! But where can he possibly go from here?
Rocky de Leon seems to know the answer, as he awaits the stunned and gassed Paxton Ray to rise back up to his feet. Once he’s finally up to a knee, Rocky puts himself into motion, parkouring off the ropes and vaulting himself backwards, straight into…
Nick Stuart: THE FLYING SQUIRREL–
One a dime, Paxton turns.
Nick Stuart: GOOD GOD, NO!!
The audience collectively winces upon viewing Paxton’s discus elbow meets its mark, slugging the young high flying sensation with enough force that it sends him collapsing to the mat in a heap.
Unwilling to go down without a fight, Rocky blindly throws dwindling, desperate punches up into the ribs of the Bayou Butcher as Ray begins to pull him up to finish things off.
Unwilling to indulge in the false hope of a fairytale ending, Paxton shuts that shit down with a clubbing forearm to the side of the kid’s head, and practically yanks him straight into the air.
Nick Stuart: LAFAYETTE LULLABY!! That has to be it! Paxton hooks the leg!
DING DING DING
The audience collectively jeers as “Fistfight” overtakes the PA. Ray rises back up to his feet, still breathing heavily, and looking down at de Leon with a senseless level of astonishment.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the match, by pinfall… PAAAAAAXTOOOOOONNN RRRAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!
Turnbull attempts to raise his arm in victory, but he tears it away. Rather than savor the victory, the Bayou Butcher quits the ring and promptly makes his way to the back, the elated Foster Nackedy hurrying after him.
Nick Stuart: While some may believe in miracles, it would certainly not be the case tonight, as Rocky de Leon falls just ever so short of earning what could have been a massive victory over Paxton Ray! He came into this match with a smart and planned-out strategy, and it paid off in spades!
Richard Parker: I’ll give the kid all the credit in the world for the fight he put up tonight… but the unfortunate truth is that all it takes is one good hit from the Lafayette Bruiser to overturn even the best laid plans. The kid was hoping for a redux of the Rumble in the Jungle. Instead, this one will be remembered as the K.O. in D.C.!
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray, meanwhile, regains a bit of momentum after his own shortcoming at Tropical Turmoil! He may have been shaken tonight by this young up-and-comer, but nevertheless reasserts his dominance among the PRIME ranks! And I’m sure if there’s anyone back there taking note, it’s the Anglo Luchador! But while we can speculate all night on the things to come, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got more matches to get to! But first, a quick word from our sponsor! Don’t go away!
As Paxton and Foster make their exit, Rocky de Leon has finally managed to get his way back to his feet. As he stands alone in the ring, the PRIMEates give him a hero’s ovation.
We then cut backstage.
DO YOU HAVE ANY GRAY POOP, JOHN?
We see the not-quite-quite Albino G.A.S. exclusive interviewer with the indecipherable East European accent, Johnnie Newsman. Standing, nay, towering over the much shorter man is Mortgomery Byrnes in his ring gear no doubt feeling naked without his Alias (aka Gamble) Championship.
Johnnie Newsman: Good evening, I am standing with greatest Alias Champion in PRIME history. First of all, losing Alias title was very much devastating and I know you don’t want to talk about that but after losing championship, you basically went badass Dirty Harry on the Arthur Pleasant. Many wonder, why?
Morty Byrnes: Tony’ll get pissed for me sayin’ but it was for Kohime. That Franksenstein fuck took liberties, liberties of which has caused Kohime to miss time in the ring and when you fuck with Kohime, you gotta deal with me and you don’t wanna have to deal with me.
Johnnie Newsman: Oh! Have you spoken with Kohime Mori? I ws under impression you two were not on the speaking terms
Morty Byrnes: No. But she’ll be back and when she comes back, she ain’t gonna hold a grudge forever, to give it that little, whaddya call it, nudge, I’m gonna give’er a little present. Arthur Pleasant’s fuckin’ tooth, gift wrapped. And it’ll be beautiful. I’m takin’ lessons.
Johnnie Newsman: That is super romantic. But are you worried he might decide to be seeking the oftooth for the tooth?
Morty Byrnes: Fuck’em. Let’em try, I’ll fuck’em up so bad, his great-great grandkids will feel it.
Johnnie Newsman: Chills, man. Very intense. Reminding me, tonight, you have huge match for Intense Championship against the Flamberge. Any worries?
Morty Byrnes: One door closes, another one opens, right? That’s the sayin’? Yeah, I lose the Alias Championship and, yeah, it’s a tragedy knowin’ that I lost to some little weasel who ain’t good enough wipe my diarrhetoric ass after extra spicty burrito night at the taco truck down the street. But tonight? I get a chance tonight to redeem myself in the eyes of Tony Gamble. While I kicked Arthur Pleasant’s ass in honor of Kohime Mori and tonight, I kick Flamber-Jay’s ass in the name of Tony Gamble and the Gamble Adoration Syndicate. Flambeau Field over there, thinks he’s Intense? He ain’t intense. He’s French. Not even French-Canadian. Just French. Unless he’s gonna make’ a hollandaise sauce or one of them thin pancakes—
Johnnie Newsman: Crepe?
Morty Byrnes: The way French food affects my digestic track, I’m sure I’ll be on the toilet bringin’ the Browns to the Super Bowl, you ain’t wrong. Point is, when it comes to that ring, he’s as intense as paint dryin’ on a wall. What I did to Arthur Pleasant is gonna be like watchin’ the Power Puff Girls compared to what I’m gonna do to Pepe Le Pew tonight. In other words, I may have left Tropic Thunder without the Alias Championship….but tonight? “Main Event Morty” is walkin’ out the Intense Champion. I guarantee it.
Morty Byrnes walk off leaving Johnnie to wonder should he just stand there or follow him. We never get the answer as the scene fades to…
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW
…the ringside area.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to ReVival 31.
Richard Parker: Now with more underwater vehicles!
Nick Stuart: Indeed, but besides all that, we have to go to the ring for a message from one of our second generation up and coming stars.
Richard Parker: Please. This kid’s opponents should be begging to get paired up with him in the ring. Did you know he faced Tyler Best, Coral Avalon, and Morty? That’s 3 title matches at Tropical Turmoil. One common denominator. They all beat Eddie Cross.
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure that you should use math on air, partner. Anyhow, let’s head to the ring.
The opening guitar to Cross Off by Mark Morton (feat Chester Bennington) echoes, and the words repeat
“Cross Off the days gone…”
“Cross Off the days gone…”
Eddie “n1ghtcraw1er” Cross and Anna Daniels walk out of the back. Eddie ramps up the fans with his arms before fist bumping Daniels. The two of them walk to the ring and slip in. After generously working the crowd for a bit on the ring posts, Eddie grabs a microphone and addresses the raucous crowd.
Eddie Cross: Ladies and gentlemen in the luxury boxes and front row… and everyone else not sitting on a pillow up in the nosebleeds!
Eddie Cross: I know that in the past I’ve said some things that didn’t go over so well about the places we’ve gone and the people we’ve met. But, I’d like to think that I’ve grown since then and I’ve come to realize a few things.
He paces around the ring, addressing the fans equally.
Eddie Cross: I’ve realized that you don’t go far in life without friends, and that’s why I asked Anna Daniels to come out here tonight to watch my back.
Nick Stuart: A nice reaction for The Muse!
Eddie Cross: I’ve also realized that they say cheaters never win, but at Tropical Turmoil as I was squeezing the life out of Tony Gamble, he blatantly cheated and managed to steal a victory.
Richard Parker: Why are they booing? That was a completely legitimate victory.
Eddie Cross: I could make excuses, but I don’t do excuses. Tony beat me and I accept that. I challenged him to bring back the Hall of Famer for one night and he did. Hat’s off to him. But…
Eddie turns and looks at Anna and then back to the fans.
Eddie Cross: Let’s face it, he got in a desperation shot and capitalized.
Nick Stuart: I mean, he’s not wrong and the fans are behind him.
Richard Parker: What do they know?
Eddie Cross: Gamble, you’ve played games the whole way through this and I should have known you’d never face me clean. I want a rematch! I’m challenging you to come out here, right here right now in the Capital of the free world, WASHINGTON D.C…
Hold for pop.
Eddie Cross: AND FACE ME 1v1!
After a tense twenty seconds, the crowd roars as the Gamble Adoration Syndicate walks out onto the ramp. Tony pulls a microphone up to his mouth.
Tony Gamble: Come on Eddie, we already did this dance at Tropical Turmoil and Les didn’t like your Cha Cha Cha.
They saunter down to the ring.
Tony Gamble: But here you are running your mouth like you always do. You had Dom and Frank banned from ringside during our match, and yet you still managed to lose. You lost that match, you lost Dave, and now it seems like you’ve lost your damn mind because you’re asking to have your ass handed to you again. This time though, when I’m done with you, you’re going to be on your knees begging me to acknowledge how much you adore me.
Eddie looks around the ring and smiles as he watches the members of G.A.S. surround the ring. He looks right at Tony as he says the next piece.
Eddie Cross: I knew you couldn’t resist bringing the whole squad with you. In fact, I was betting on it. But we’re through with the adoration stage of this whole whatever this is. There’s really only one thing left to say.
He pauses and looks at Anna.
Eddie Cross: GG, Gamble.
Anna rushes toward the ropes and baseball slides into Mort, knocking him into the ring barrier. He gets up and they fight outside the ring while Tony nods to Dom and Frank. They hop on the mat and try to attack Eddie, but he is ready for their games and drops Dom to the mat with a Trigger Warning knee strike before turning to Frank Pastore. He takes a wild swing, but Eddie ducks it and grabs an ankle pick trip.
As Eddie contorts Frank into a heel hook, Anna Daniels and Mort brawl their way back up the ramp to the delight of the fans. Tony looks at the situation in the ring and sneers before sliding in and stomping on Eddie. As the youth is forced to let go of the hook, he covers up and lunges at Gamble, only to get grabbed and held in place by Frank and Dom.
Tony paintbrushes Eddie across the face and insults him verbally as he is held in place by the two G.A.S. goons. Suddenly, the crowd erupts…
Nick Stuart: IT’S DAVE GIBSON! DAVE GIBSON IS BACK AND MAKING A BEELINE FOR THE RING!!!
Richard Parker: And there goes Tony Gamble! He wisely rolled out of the ring the second he caught sight of the charging Gibson! Live to fight another day, Tony!
Dave hits the ring with a full head of steam and spins around Frank Pastore. He blasts him with a series of left jabs followed by a looping right hand that drops the big man to the mat. Dom lets go of Eddie and reaches back for a punch, but Dave double legs him and takes him down to the mat hard.
As Dave is raining down punches and elbows with fury, Frank gets back to his feet and grabs him. He lifts Dave high in the air with a suplex, and drops him to the mat hard. The crowd gasps, perhaps remembering Dave has a surgically repaired neck, but their fears are assuaged as Eddie intercepts Pastore. This allows Dave to get back to his feet, spin around Frank and kick him square in the balls before pushing him back at Eddie who spins and CRACK! Drops Frank to the mat with OHKO!!!
Not done yet, Domingo Cruz charges at Dave with a lariat, but the wily veteran ducks and immediately takes Dom’s back to lock in The Silencer. Eddie steps into a surfboard and stretches Frank with GG!!!
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble is pounding the mat but now that the numbers aren’t on his side he doesn’t dare get in there!
Richard Parker: Can you blame him? This is unprovoked aggression from Dave Gibson! He is a manager and has no business in that ring!
Eddie and Dave release their holds and roll the fallen Dom and Frank out of the ring. Tony helps them both and stares daggers in both Dave and Eddie as G.A.S. slinks to the backstage area.
Nick Stuart: Dave Gibson back in action for the first time in more than 10 years! Dave and Eddie standing tall! And this crowd is loving it!
Eddie looks at Dave and smiles, shaking his head.
Richard Parker: I don’t think Eddie expected to see his mentor out here tonight. I know I certainly didn’t!!
Eddie turns to Dave and gives a small bow of respect. Grinning, Dave grabs Eddie’s wrist and holds his arm up in victory as the crowd roars.
And then pulls Eddie into a fierce embrace.
The reaction from the fans appears to double. Eddie blinks in surprise and then wraps his arms tightly around his mentor.
Even the announcers go silent at the moment.
The camera pulls back to a wide shot of the embrace between the teacher and the student. Dave leans in and is whispering something into Eddie’s ear. Eddie, eyes closed tight perhaps to stave off his emotions.
Nick Stuart: The last time we saw Dave he was put on the shelf by Gamble and G.A.S. It must feel great to get some measure of comeuppance!
Everyone in the arena, now that Tony and his goons have exited, is cheering and celebrating this moment! The two men part the hug and Eddie turns to play to the crowd once again…
But Dave maintains a grip on his left wrist, crossing the arm in front of Eddie’s body.
Eddie looks down and registers this, and a wolfish smile flashes across Dave’s face briefly as he spins his protege around into a WICKED ripcord lariat. Eddie is taken nearly out of his shoes by the shock of the impact!
The jubilant crowd gasps and goes dead silent.
Dave stands over his student, glaring down without blinking. Then he proceeds to start delivering a measured and violent series of stomps to the head and torso of Eddie. His former pupil takes a precise shot to the brow and splits his forehead. Blood begins to run down the young man’s face and he tries to wipe his eyes out.
The silence is now broken as boo’s cascade down from the shocked assembly.
Eddie, obviously rattled by the clothesline, is trying to cover up and protect himself but can barely defend against the stomps. Dave yanks Eddie to his feet and stares at his bloody mask. The young wrestler’s knees buckle and his eyes flutter, but Dave holds him up, placing one hand under his chin until their faces are mere inches apart. Dave looks at Eddie, completely devoid of emotion, and then turns him around and takes his back with the Silencer.
The boo’s continue to rain down as Dave applies the hold with maximum torque. A half-conscious Eddie is tapping lightly but Dave maintains the hold until the second-generation star sinks into unconsciousness.
Dave releases the hold, shoving Eddie’s carcass off him and leaving him facedown on the canvas. He stands over the young man, staring down at him and garbage starts to rain in the ring. An audience member throws a drink that hits Dave in the chest. He doesn’t flinch.
Gibson looks up at the crowd and cracks the slightest of smiles as the boo’s cascade down on him. And with that, Dave rolls out of the ring and walks quickly up the ramp without a second look. As he does, the medical team led by Dr. Astrid Fihlguud runs past him toward the ring to attend to Eddie, who still hasn’t moved.
Nick Stuart: Ladies and gentlemen, I am not sure what just happened, but this man, this fiend… he just betrayed Eddie Cross’ trust in a way nobody saw coming.
Richard Parker: Even I don’t think Eddie deserved what just happened. Praporshchik Stanislav was right about Dave all along.
Nick Stuart: Not now, Richard.
In the ring the medical team is wiping the blood from Eddie’s face and trying to stop the gash above his brow from leaking. His leg moves and he reaches out before one of the team tells him to stay down so they can attend to his injuries.
Meanwhile, Dave stops before walking into the back, turns, and soaks in the moment for a few seconds longer as the camera zooms in on his face and fades to a pre-taped segment.
SKREE WITH ME!
The camera pans out over the Milky Way Galaxy. Gentle orchestra music plays in the background. The video quality is reminiscent of the 1970s.
Carl Sagan: billions of stars. We are made of star stuff. Just like all the planets, moons, asteroids, and comets, everything in the universe was once a star.
The video speeds up and a record tear sound kills the audio. The camera stops on a view of a cross walk where an old lady waits to cross the street.
A kindly British professorial voice takes Carl Sagan’s place.
Professor: and for some of us, we can be stars again! A different kind of star. You see, a star can be a celestial body, or it can be a hot sexy body, like that of Carlos “Rocky” de Leon. Hello, Rocky!
Rocky walks into view and waves at the camera before leaning down to help the old lady cross the street.
Professor: Look how nice Rocky is. He wants to help that old bat cross the road! But oh… what’s this?
Rocky struggles to get the old lady to take his arm. Here eyes display abject horror.
Professor: oh, dear. It appears Agnes doesn’t know Rocky is trying to help. She thinks she’s being mugged by a masked man! This could all have been much easier if Agnes spoke Skree.
The old lady and the surrounding world are paused, but Rocky addresses the camera.
Rocky: wait, you can understand me?
Professor: certainly! And with a little practice, our classroom viewers can, too. Let’s go over the basics.
The camera displays an animated chalk board with a cartoon rocky with an empty word bubble.
Professor: now then, let’s go over a few common phrases so that you, too, can understand whether you’re being helped by, flirted with, or assaulted by a Fully Dicked Pterosaur. Listen closely. Rocky will speak in SKREE, and after allowing a brief pause for you to fill in your workbooks, I’ll provide the correct translation.
Professor: I want a taco.
The video fills in a word bubble over cartoon Rocky’s head with the translation.
Professor: preferably with lengua. Put that in your copy books now. Next phrase, Rocky?
Professor: Flying mouse.
Professor: oh, beg your pardon, Rocky. That last one was flying *squirrel*. My mistake.
Rocky: Skreeeeee SKREE SKREE.
Professor: Paxton Ray is a hooligan and a… what was that again? One more time?
Professor: ah, yes. Punk ass bitch and no good excuse for a father. As you can see, with just a little effort you, too, can speak Skree like a pro! So, the next time you watch PRIME, what do you say?
Chorus of Children: SKREEEEEE!
Professor: that’s right. Good bye, Rocky, and good luck with that grandma.
We then cut back to ringside.
NATE COLTON vs. CANCER JILES
The guitars of “Tryin’” by the Eagles hits the moment we come back to the arena. The crowd rises as Nate Colton passes through the curtains, heading for the ring all dressed in blue.
Vince Howard: This contest is scheduled for ONE FALL! Introducing first… from Evansville, Indiana! He weighs in at two-hundred and fifty-five pounds! NATE! COOOOOOLTOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNN!!!
Colton gets a large amount of cheers from the crowd, but there’s a very small minority who boo him because they happen to read Savannah Scandal’s salacious articles and boy howdy those are saucy, let me tell you. Colton himself seems to be distracted, and doesn’t even bother showing off his gear when he reaches the ring.
Nick Stuart: What’s going through the mind of Nate Colton tonight?
Richard Parker: Considering his opponent, I’m hoping for various forms of medieval torture. Like the in-ring equivalent of an iron maiden or something. Or that thing where you sit someone’s balls on top of a pyramid, forget the name.
Before Nick Stuart can correct him on medieval torture and why it’s bad and wrong to apply even to Cancer Jiles, the lights slowly draw to a dim.
An unnerving chill makes its way through the air.
Up on the Crumbotron a video plays featuring a few seconds from ALL of the matches Cancer Jiles has been in. It’s quite the video package, and plays for the better part of a minute.
Then, an electric guitar reverberates through both time and space.
Nick Stuart: Can you believe that after tonight NO ONE in the ReVival era will have wrestled in more matches than Cancer Jiles? We’re a year and a half in! We have six PPV’s and thirty ReVivals under our belt!
Richard Parker: People like to see him lose, so why deprive them?
Nick Stuart: Think of all the beatings this man has taken. The finishers he’s eaten. The amount of his blood that has been spilt. Yet, there he is, walking down to the ring.
Richard Parker: One word. Cryostasis.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is hitting his notes, and COOL Cancer Jiles is in fact on his way down to the ring. No pyro this go around– Nick and Dick talked all the way through it. As per the norm, the COOLYMPIAN enjoys his usual serenade from the PRIMEates in attendance, and even exchanges a few words with those fortunate enough to be sitting ringside.
Vince Howard: His opponent… from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! Weighing in at two hundred and eighteen pounds… CANCERRRRRRR! JIIIIIIIIIIIIIILES!!!!
Nick Stuart: Dare I say it, but a big match feeling here tonight between these two. First time they are meeting in singles competition, but that’s not to say they aren’t familiar with one another. They first crossed paths at the Battle Royal, and then recently mixed it up at Tropical Turmoil.
Richard Parker: Nate pinned him at Tropical Turmoil, and as much as I hate to say it, because you know, Jiles, it’s hard to pin a man on back to back shows. I mean, I hope he does it, but it won’t be easy.
A confident Maestro slides under the bottom rope, quickly springs to his feet, and does what he does better than anyone else alive. Not pose, or comb his hair. No, he begins to berate the ever living shit out of Timo Bolamba.
He eventually calms down and awaits the bell.
He doesn’t have to wait long.
Two men at different points of their careers step forward. One is the erstwhile Main Event, whose cockroach-like tenacity has ensured that he remains a threat to every opponent he ever meets. The other is the scion of the Colton family, but now the only one of his family without gold after the successes of his siblings. He should want to be back on track. He should want to put this crumb on the ground.
But his head is somewhere else, and that becomes clear when he goes for a collar-and-elbow tie-up against Cancer goddamn Jiles.
Jiles sneaks under his grab, gets behind Colton, and pulls his legs out from under him. Then, with a casual COOL, Jiles struts over Colton, stepping on him with his salt shoes every step of the way.
Richard Parker: Oh, come on!
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton needs to get his head in the game here, he’s literally letting Jiles walk all over him early in this match!
Colton shoots back up to his feet the moment Jiles is done with his strut, but Jiles conveniently places referee Timo Bolamba between himself and Colton to prevent an immediate retribution. He’s even ducking and weaving around Timo’s shoulders, as though daring Colton to hit him and risk hitting Timo and getting himself disqualified. Timo turns to admonish Jiles, but Jiles casually reaches past him to thumb Colton right in the eyes.
He acts so innocent when he wants to, doesn’t he? The crumb. He casually brushes past his least favorite referee and grabs a side headlock on Colton, which might be the most complex hold he knows. Nevertheless, he doesn’t get to crank it for very long before Colton pushes him into the ropes. Then, with a push, he sends Jiles into the opposite ropes. Colton drops down expecting Jiles to jump over him. Instead, the COOLYMPIAN stops short and proceeds to stop on Colton’s hand.
Nick Stuart: I know Jiles had that run-in with Avalon earlier tonight, but I don’t think it’s bothered him one bit given the way he’s taking advantage here.
Richard Parker: Well, I, for one, hate all of this right now. Jiles should have already been pretzel pressed by like sixteen suplexes. I’d have even taken fifteen.
Nick Stuart: Well, I’m not sure Colton’s quite grasped what kind of wrestler Cancer Jiles is.
Richard Parker: A shitheel who annoys you to death until he superkicks you in the face?
Nick Stuart: …Yes.
Colton, as you can imagine, is holding his hand in pain. He stands, only for Jiles to contemptuously stomp on his toes next. That gives Jiles all the room he needs to grab the side headlock again. He even executes a picture perfect side headlock takeover! Incredible! Jiles smirks like he’s a fucking technical wizard as he cranks on the hold, as though he attended some sort of wrestling wizardry school, and… oh wait, that’s a different dude’s shtick. My bad.
It doesn’t take long for the stronger Colton to get to his feet. Jiles continues to crank on the hold, but Colton lifts him up for a back suplex. That’s when Jiles, cagey veteran and professional cockroach that he is, thumbs him in the eye. Again.
Richard Parker: This is ridiculous!
Colton drops Jiles, who quickly rakes Colton’s back hard enough to leave lines along his back. Colton yelps, and swings wildly at Jiles with a back fist. Jiles ducks underneath it, and then kicks Colton directly in that unprotected gap between knee pad and boot as though he knows exactly where to kick a man in the shin where it’s least likely to be protected. Colton drops to the ground clutching his shin.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton has absolutely no idea how to deal with Jiles’ shenanigans right now!
Richard Parker: How can it be anything else but being distracted, though? His head’s not in the game! His head needs to be in the game because I want to see Jiles get that Colton Clutch Suplex and then watch it on an infinite loop!
Jiles drops an elbow on Colton’s chest and goes for a lackadaisical cover, but it only gets a one count after Colton pushes him off. Jiles proceeds to drop another elbow and make another cover, but it once again only gets one. Jiles drops a third and makes yet another cover, but after another one count, he goes over to Timo Bolamba to complain. Loudly.
Cancer Jiles: Do you even KNOW how to count!?
Timo calmly holds up one finger to remind him that this is as far as he’s gotten so far.
Nick Stuart: Here we go again.
Richard Parker: Find the inverse of a man in your life who hates you as much as Jiles hates Timo. The absolute inverse.
While Jiles is busy complaining to the referee, Colton gets to his feet. While his head still isn’t quite in the game, he recognizes the opportunity that Jiles is presenting him by leaving his back turned. He grabs Jiles in a waistlock and hurls him to the canvas with a German suplex!
Jiles bounces off of the canvas, somehow rolls to his feet from sheer momentum, and stands upright as though ready to attack Colton when he gets up. Instead, Jiles’ legs become jelly the moment Colton turns, and he falls through the second and bottom ropes and out of the ring entirely.
Colton is almost taken aback by this. He’s not sure what he should be doing right now, because whatever’s going on in his head is making him hesitant. He eventually slides under the bottom rope to meet Jiles, only to discover that Jiles isn’t there. He’s confused. He looks around, trying to find where Jiles had gone.
Well, Jiles would soon reveal himself once Colton thinks to check around the corner. In an instant, the man once known as the Main Event and now known as “the Opener” reveals himself by crawling out from underneath the ring apron behind Colton.
Nick Stuart: Jiles sends Colton into the stairs!
Richard Parker: Seriously! What the hell!? Who does that!? Who hides under the ring for an ambush like that!?
Nick Stuart: Lots of guys do, it’s just that it’s Jiles who did it.
Jiles does another cocky strut, but only briefly so he can roll back into the ring. He tells (nay, demands) that Timo begins counting out Nate Colton.
Fans cheer for Colton to get back in the ring, but he’s been knocked silly by getting rammed into the stairs and his disorientation means that it takes him until the count of eight before he finally rolls back in the ring.
Jiles helps him out by kicking him in the face. Then, while grabbing onto the top rope, he pushes Colton out of the ring again with both salt shoes firmly planted in his side.
Then he demands that Timo count Colton out again.
Nick Stuart: Jiles is trying to take the countout victory here, but I’m not so sure this is a smart play.
Richard Parker: Look, I hate Jiles in the same way I hate finding a scorpion nest in my house, but a win is a win.
Colton gets back in the ring again after another eight count, and Jiles is visibly not happy about it. He stomps away at Colton’s head and hands, then pulls him into the center of the ring for a cover. It’s barely a two count as Colton gets his shoulder up.
Jiles is frustrated at this point, and he pulls Colton to his feet and into a front facelock. A DDT follows, and Jiles sits there for a moment to make a gesture to Timo demanding that he counts quicker this time. Then he rolls Colton into the cover.
Jiles looks up at Timo, and mouths the words “the fuck did I just tell you?” at him. Timo responds by calmly holding up two fingers.
The COOLYMPIAN gets to his feet, and he waits for Colton to get up as well. No more fucking around. It’s time for a little eggsecution. Colton stands and Jiles lines up a prognosis of Terminal Cancer for his face.
Nick Stuart: TERMINAL CAN– NO!
It’s “NO!” because he misses. Colton ducks underneath the kick and catches Jiles with an Exploder suplex! The fans cheer as Colton gets to his feet, and charges on Jiles in the corner with a clothesline! Jiles is wobbly coming out of the corner, and pratfalls onto his face moments after taking a step out of the corner.
Colton’s not sure where he’s at. His awareness is at an all-time low because his head’s been in the clouds this whole time. But he sees Jiles on the ground and knows he has to follow up. He pulls Jiles to his feet, pushing him into the corner as he does. He goes to push Jiles up until the top turnbuckle, looking for the superplex. But Jiles fights back, hitting Colton several times with a few elbows. Colton backs away, and Jiles adjusts himself so that he could come flying off with a double axehandle.
Colton side steps it, though, and hits Jiles with a gut punch that causes Jiles to somersault onto his back.
Richard Parker: Yeah!
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton’s getting some momentum right now!
As Jiles scrambles to use the ropes to return to his feet, Colton is stalking him. Once Jiles is to his feet, Colton grabs his arm and wraps him up in the Colton Clutch!
Nick Stuart: COLTON CLUTCH! The family hold is locked in, and that’s a prelude to the Colton Clutch Suplex!
There’s a problem, though. Jiles still has one hand firmly latched onto the top rope. Technically speaking, Timo has to get Nate to break the hold. Colton ignores him, attempting to muscle Jiles out of the ropes, but this man is nearly as unkillable as a cockroach and he won’t get away from the ropes.
Timo gets closer to tell Colton to release the hold.
That’s when Jiles reveals that he’s not just a cockroach. He’s also a scorpion. A scorpion whose tail is a trick tail that aims only for testicles. So, not really a scorpion at all.
Nick Stuart: A LOW BLOW!
Richard Parker: OH, COME ON!
Before Timo can even question what just happened and why Colton let go of the hold and is on the ground, Jiles quickly flies into a cover in the hopes of stealing this one.
The match remains unstolen, and Jiles is displeased. He’s so displeased that he rolls to the outside, and kicks the steel steps that’d been disrupted earlier by Colton getting shoved into them earlier. But then he goes right to the next plan, which is to be as obvious as possible that he’s looking to cheat. He goes to the timekeeper and throws them off of their chair, before picking up the chair and taking it with him to the ring.
Nick Stuart: Jiles is bringing a chair into the ring, though, and you know Timo’s not gonna like that.
Richard Parker: About as much as I do, to be honest.
Timo sees it, though. Because Jiles couldn’t have been this more obvious if he tried. He intercepts the chair before Jiles can even get back in the ring, and yells at Jiles about bringing a chair into the ring.
Of course, using the chair outright isn’t the goal here. He wants Timo to get rid of it. That means Timo doesn’t see as Jiles loads up somma that good ‘ol Coolympian Yoljk.
Richard Parker: NO!
Nick Stuart: Jiles sprays the yoljk right in Colton’s eyes!
Colton drops to his knees, and in a moment that he’ll feel bad about later when he watches what happens afterwards, he flails at Jiles with a fist that he hopes to aim for Jiles’ gut. And it connects. Only, that ain’t a gut. Those’re some eggs. Two of them.
Richard Parker: WHAT!?
Nick Stuart: I… I have to believe that was inadvertent, but Jiles just caught a fist right in the groin!
Jiles falls over like a tree, clutching his eggs as a dragon would hoard them. Colton spends time trying to clear his vision, that yoljk ain’t exactly good for the eyes, but he eventually sees that Jiles is down and he quickly grabs the former Universal Champion.
Timo turns to ask himself several questions, like “Okay, why does Nate Colton have egg on his face?” and “Why is Jiles holding his groin?” but doesn’t have any answers before Colton has him in his finisher.
Nick Stuart: COLTON CLUTCH SUPLEX! WITH A BRIDGE!
DING DING DING
Colton falls to the canvas, holding one arm up in victory while trying to wipe away more of the yoljk with his other hand.
Nick Stuart: Nate Colton barely pulled that one out, it looked like Jiles was on his way to a very tainted victory before Colton, uh… unintentionally hit him low!
Richard Parker: I don’t really like Nate Colton’s goody two-shoes act that much, but I’m willing to overlook it because an infinite loop of Jiles getting punched in the fun zone is going to be my desktop background soon.
Nick Stuart: I’m… not even going to comment on that.
The scene cuts away as Nate Colton raises his arms in the air in victory, while Jiles rolls to the outside in sheer frustration.
We then cut to our final commercial.
COMMERCIAL: REVIVAL 32 MAIN EVENT
ALL I GOT FER YA
A long night from the sidelines.
The Event Horizon, Hayes Hanlon, meanders down the hall backstage, eyes absently flicking to his phone. Perhaps the young man needs a few moments to himself, with no match to pour out his frustrations. Or maybe he’s just waiting for the main event to finish up so he can go home. Maybe his conversation earlier with Sykes and Colton left him with more questions than answers.
And as he turns a corner, he’s met with a gravelly, frustrated voice growling into a cell phone.
“No, god-damnit! I said NO onions! An’ no cream cheese!”
Hayes has rounded the corner to find an exacerbated Wade Elliott, pacing back and forth, apparently having trouble with his post-show dinner order.
Wade Elliott: Look, I ain’t kiddin’ here. If that burrito has a damn thimble-full’ve sour cream on it then I ain’t eatin’ it! An’ no, I don’t want it on the damn side! Throw it in the trash! Thank ya kindly!
Wade finishes the call with a stubby thumb to the screen. Hayes hangs back, giving the Blue Collar Brawler a minute to collect himself. Wade catches Hammerin’ Hanlon out of the corners of his sharp blue eyes, and turns to face him, shoving his phone in the back pocket of his worn out jeans.
Wade Elliott; Oh, shit, sorry ‘bout that, kid. I just can’t stand the stuff. Ruins the whole damn experience fer me.
Hayes, completely unsure of what to say, shifts his feet.
Hayes Hanlon: I mean, I like sour cream…
Wade Elliott: Well, that’s yer problem.
The Southern Sparkplug turns to head off in the opposite direction. For a moment, Hayes opts to let him do just that. But with the twitch of his ‘stache and an uncertain shine in his dark brown eyes, he pipes up.
Hayes Hanlon: Hey…Wade?
The Bad Dog stops, and turns his head over shoulder.
Hayes Hanlon: Have…have you seen, or heard from Nova? I haven’t got anything since his match with Hoyt. I heard something about him escaping from his doctors…and a boulder…
Wade breathes in through his nose, pivoting his size 14’s.
Wade Elliott: Hmm…sounds pretty…Jesus-y.
Elliott contemplates for a moment, for painfully obvious comedic effect, then snaps to.
Wade Elliott: But no, kid. I’m sorry, ain’t heard from him. But that’s sort’ve his style. I wouldn’t stress too hard.
Hanlon offers a slightly disappointed nod, and turns to leave. Wade watches, fully intent on letting him mosey away, until the better of part of his conscience gets the better of him.
Wade Elliott: (reluctantly) Hey…kid.
Hayes stops, and turns his head back to PRIME’s Son of a Bitch.
Wade Elliott: Fer a while you were standin’ a lot taller’n when I first met ya.
Hayes lifts an eyebrow, and keeps his eyes trained on Wade.
Wade Elliott: And…at some point we all gotta learn t’stand tall on our own.
A gentle gleam flashes over Hanlon’s eyes. He turns to face Wade, to approach him, intent on what other sage advice he may have to offer.
Unfortunately, we’re talking about Wade Elliott, and such things are in short supply. Wade furls his brow at Hanlon’s eager curiosity.
Wade Elliott: And…and that’s it! That’s all I got fer ya!
Hanlon flinches a touch, and shuffles to move away. Wade, caught off-guard with his own “wise-janitor moment,” grunts through his nose and turns quickly, stomping away down the hall.
Wade Elliott: Just go figure it out on yer own!
The Event Horizon, with exactly none of his questions answered, sighs heavily before heading back the way he came as we cut to another area of the backstage area.
HE REALLY LIKES ME
With a water bottle in his hand, the personal interviewer of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate enters their locker room and finds Tony sitting alone on one of the benches. He takes a seat right next to him, and twists the top off.
Tony Gamble: Hey, how did it go?
Johnnie Newsman: Okay, I guess.
Tony Gamble: I hope you were careful.
Johnnie is about to take a drink, but stops short.
Johnnie Newsman: I just went to get water bottle.
Tony Gamble: Well, I don’t need you being threatened.
Johnnie shakes his head.
Johnnie Newsman: No one threatened me.
Tony Gamble: Well, let me know if you run into any problems.
Johnnie once again stops himself from enjoying the refreshing beverage in his hand.
Johnnie Newsman: Is there something I need to be worried about?
Tony shakes his head.
Tony Gamble: No, you don’t have to worry about anything.
Relieved, Johnnie once again brings the water bottle to his lips, finally allowing the filtered water to pass his lips and enter his mouth.
Tony Gamble: You work for me now, and I will make it my personal mission to destroy anyone that tries to hurt you.
A tear wells up in the corner of his eye, as Johnnie places the water bottle down on the bench and hugs Tony tightly.
Tony Gamble: What the hell are you doing?
Johnnie is beaming as he looks at Tony.
Tony Gamble: Hey, I’m going to have to call you back.
We then cut to the ring for our main event.
INTENSE TITLE MATCH: FLAMBERGE (c) vs. C. MORTGOMERY BYRNES
The familiar trill of the piano that signals the beginning of “You’re Nobody Unless Somebody Loves You” hits on that PA, which only means one thing.
Nick Stuart: C. Mortgomery Byrnes, fresh off losing the Alias Championship at Tropical Turmoil, will get another crack to get another title. He looks like he’s game for the task.
Richard Parker: Well, normally, I’d be rooting for him, but he is going up against a member of the Glueminati. It’s going to be tough. But I might believe in him. Or not. Depends on how I feel.
Nick Stuart: You never cease to amaze me.
Morty heads out, pointing in to the crowd in his own spotlight. It’s the biggest match of his career to date. He inhales deeply before walking to the ring like he has a job to do.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, the challenger, hailing from Horace, North Dakota, and weighing in at 248 pounds, representing the Gamble Adoration Syndicate, he is C! MORTGOMERY! BYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYRNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNES!
Morty slides under the ring, hops up on the middle turnbuckle, and raises his hands to the jeering crowd. Dean Martin fades off the PA. Run the Jewels begins shortly thereafter.
Nick Stuart: Think FLAMBERGE has first title defense jitters, Rich?
Richard Parker: I don’t think he has jitters. He’s much too confident. It’s one of my favorite things about him, especially now that the FLAMBORGHINI is resting with the fishes.
Nick Stuart: And to think that happened BEFORE he faced off against a mobster.
Richard Parker: Hey, japes are MY thing!
“Oh La La” hits into high gear as FLAMBERGE walks with glorious purpose towards the ring, Intense Championship belt affixed around his waist.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, he is the reigning and defending PRIME Intense Champion, weighing in at 206 pounds and hailing from Strasbourg, France, representing the Glueminati, FLAMMMMMMMMMMMMBERGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!
FLAMBERGE slides into the ring, removes his title belt, and hands it to Elvis Nixon who raises it high for the Capital One Arena to see. The arena is tense, neither wrestler one the crowd normally roots for. Still, everyone in attendance craves one thing.
The timekeeper’s bell signals the time for what they all wanted has arrived.
FLAMBERGE’s steely focus is fixed on the masked enforcer of the GAS. Byrnes shakes his head and begins to jab.
C. Mortgomery Byrnes: Hey, you tryna collect this neck? Ah madone, I’d like to see you try to put me in the Marie Callender’s. Hell, I like them pies.
FLAMBERGE: Cochon sale! PTOO!
C. Montgomery Byrnes: Coochie salad? What? You’se tryna be a freak or somethin’?
FLAMBO has had enough, charging at the former Mortimer Kjedelig, but he sidesteps like a matador at the bullfight. FLAMBO has enough wits about him to hold up before he crashes hard into the turnbuckle, but the gambit has been played. As soon as he turns around, Morty nails him with a snap suplex.
Nick Stuart: A little bit of youthful exuberance costing the Intense Champion there.
Richard Parker: Look, if I had to listen to Morty butcher my language, I’d be mad too. Hell, he butchers the ENGLISH language enough.
Nick Stuart: Don’t you usually root for Byrnes?
Richard Parker: Yeah, but you see, I roll with the Glueminati above anyone else except Hoyt. I’ve got charts, you wanna see them?
Nick Stuart: Rich, this is the main event for the Intense Championship.
Richard Parker: A simple “no” would’ve sufficed, thanks.
As FLAMBO gets up slowly, more out of shock than pain, Morty bails to the outside and looks under the ring skirt. The name of the game is Intense, after all. He pulls out a chair and holds it up to the audience, who RAAAAAAAAAAAHS in approval, less or him and more for the plunder. One problem though.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE with a hook kick to the chair, planting it in Morty’s face!
Richard Parker: Get hit in the face enough times with a chair and he won’t need a mask to remain hidden from the people out to get him.
Mort drops the chair, which FLAMBO picks up and immediately jams onto the prone former Alias Champ’s throat.
Nick Stuart: Sheer brutality from the Intense Champion here early on.
Richard Parker: It just goes to show how much of a submission expert he is! Unorthodox!
Morty struggles free, but the Champ stays on him, grabbing him as he rolls over, lifting him up to his feet, and in one fluid motion throwing him over his hip into the ring steps. The GAS Enforcer crashes in a heap, holding his side as FLAMBO approaches him looking to continue his assault and make this main event run short of television time.
Nick Stuart: The Champion smells blood.
Richard Parker: Wait up, wait up, I thought he was a lizard, not a shark?
Nick Stuart: It’s a metaphor, Rich.
Nick Stuart: Don’t mix metaphors on me! I have a hard enough time keeping up with things as it is.
FLAMBO lifts Mort up again and this time smashes him down, ribs first, on the steps with a swift gourdbuster. He beckons to the crowd, who boos him in response. As the first Alias Champ of the ReVival writhes, the current Intense Champ shouts what can only be assumed as profanity at him in his native tongue before whipping him HARD into the barricade. He follows over while jabbing at the crowd before hopping over the barricade, placing his knee on the barrier, and putting Morty in a chinlock.
Richard Parker: See, look at him! Only the finest lizard brain could think of submissions that creatively!
Nick Stuart: You have no idea what “lizard-brained” actually means, do you, Richard?
Richard Parker: Absolutely not.
Elvis Nixon asks Mort if he wants to submit, but he says something I can’t repeat about Nixon’s mother before saying no. FLAMBERGE breaks the hold voluntarily but not before grabbing Mort by the earholes in his mask and slamming him down back-first against the guardrail. He hops back over the rail, puts a few boots to Mort’s gut for good measure, and heads over to the ring, throwing up the ring skirt himself to look for a weapon. What he finds induces a Pavlovian RAAAAAHHHHH from the crowd.
Nick Stuart: FLAMBERGE’s got a kendo stick!
He flicks it around in his hands playfully for a second before stalking over to Morty with purpose.
Working over his body indiscriminately, FLAMBO looks to put his challenger down the old-fashioned way, with wanton aggregation of strikes all over. He drags Mort to his feet, puts the stick to his throat, and drags him towards the ring, choking him in the process. Handling him like a sack of potatoes, FLAMBO whips Mort onto the apron, straining his neck, and shoves him hard under the ropes. He follows in, popping to his feet and continuing his assault with the ersatz sword in his hands.
Nick Stuart: The Intense Champion showing no mercy here.
Richard Parker: Sad to say dear Mort will be reduced to glue in short order. I wonder what his variant will be called.
Nick Stuart: You’re way too blithe about this, Richard.
Richard Parker: ignoring Nick Maybe Gamble Adhesive Solution? That sounds like a good product name.
With the last crack, FLAMBERGE makes the first pin attempt of the match.
Emphatic kickout from the GAS enforcer.
Nick Stuart: Mort still has life left in him.
Richard Parker: still oblivious Or maybe Alias Paste? To commemorate his title win?
Nick Stuart: audible sigh
FLAMBO kicks him in the side before bailing out of the ring and returning with the chair Mort originally pulled from under the ring. He sets it up in the middle of the ring and leans Morty over it so that his high chest is leaning over the point on the back and the rest of his body is propped up the seat pressing against his midsection. He drops back, bounces off the ropes, charges forward, and…
Nick Stuart: AXE KICK TO MORTY ACROSS THE CHAIR! MY GOD!
Richard Parker: audible high-pitched whimper
FLAMBO covers again…
Mort’s kickout is much less emphatic this time.
FLAMBERGE gets up with fire behind his eyes, yelling at Elvis Nixon for a slow count.
Nick Stuart: Oh FLAMBERGE is losing his mind here, but I don’t think this is the right call.
Richard Parker: if you can’t call out a referee in the middle of the main event of biweekly television, Nick, when can you call him out?
Nick Stuart: I’m not getting into a semantic debate with you, Rich, but I will let you know that Morty has slipped out of the ring.
Nick is right, Mort has slipped out of the ring and has slidden another chair into the ring. He reaches under the ring again and pulls out a bucket, which he holds onto as he himself reenters the ring in one motion sliding under the bottom rope.
Nick Stuart: Again! FLAMBO’s inexperience and arrogance catching up with him because Mort is right behind him with that bucket.
Richard Parker: TURN AROUND, FLAMBO!
The Champ turns around just in time to get a bucket shot to his gut. Mort then puts the bucket on top of FLAMBO’s head, adjusting the handle to make as a chinstrap for an ersatz helmet. He scurries over to the other chair and sets it up back to back with the chair FLAMBO set up earlier, creating a peak.
Nick Stuart: I don’t like the looks of this.
FLAMBERGE finally wrests the bucket from the top of his head only to find Morty right in his face, whipping him into the ropes. FLAMBERGE comes charging in, and Mort lifts him up only to fall back, driving the young Frenchman, chest first, into the two chair-back peak with a vicious flapjack.
Nick Stuart: JESUS CHRIST! The Champion is in big trouble now!
Richard Parker: Okay, good, Morty can put this away soon.
Nick Stuart: I’m sorry, weren’t you rooting for FLAMBERGE?
Richard Parker: I take no joy in reporting that Julien Lavigne has lost the mandate of heaven.
Instead of covering, Mort takes one of the chairs, folds it back up, and uses the point to start choking the young Champion. He barks at Elvis.
C. Mortgomery Byrnes: ASK HIM! MADONE, ASK HIM!
Through spittle and obstructed airways, FLAMBO refuses to give up, Mort stops applying pressure and gives the Champion a whack across the chest for good measure before lifting him back up and forcibly sitting him in the chair. He takes the one he folded up, taps it on the mat, then calls his shot.
Richard Parker: He’s a regular Baby Ruth!
Nick Stuart: Don’t you mean Babe Ruth?
Richard Parker: I’m just saying it how Morty would. Have to remain true to my principles.
The facepalm Nick does is audible to the audience at home.
Morty winds up and…
FLAMBERGE falls back in the chair from the impact of the chairshot. Morty drops his chair and scampers over to get the pin attempt.
The GAS Enforcer slaps the mat and rolls quickly out of the ring. He goes to look under the ring, but he has second thoughts and grabs FLAMBERGE, dragging his torso to hang over the apron. He lands one, two, three elbows on FLAMBO before turning around to face the crowd. He yells something lewd and then…
Nick Stuart: And he’s showing the crowd how much he appreciates them.
Richard Parker: Look, if a man can’t grab his own crotch in front of a crowd in Washington, DC, then I don’t know where he can do it.
Mort turns back to FLAMBO, gives him another elbow to the crown of his skull for good measure, and then pulls the ring skirt away from the apron.
Nick Stuart: Mort has stuffed FLAMBERGE between the ring and the skirt! Headfirst!
Richard Parker: What veteran shrewdness! Once again, showing why I was right to hitch my cart behind the GAS Horse.
Nick Stuart: You’re incorrigible, Rich.
Morty starts stomping recklessly and wildly at the Champion as he tries to free himself from his trap. He finally jostles himself free and rolls under the ring. He crawls out away from Mort’s barrage and slides into the ring with something else in hand.
Richard Parker: Hey, I think FLAMBO has something here.
Nick Stuart: Looks like, a gas can?! Who left a gas can under the ring?
Richard Parker: Sorry, I meant to grab it earlier. But I brought it to light the bonfire at the Friends of Hoyt Club meeting in front of the Capitol later on.
Nick Stuart: I don’t even wanna know.
Morty gives chase into the ring, but FLAMBERGE intercepts him with several stomps to the back of the head. Morty powers through. He shoves FLAMBO out of the way, then charges at him, but FLAMBERGE hits him with a big counter harai goshi throw. Mort crashes into one of the chairs, holding his side, and FLAMBERGE pops up with his arms outstretched before taking three steps forward, tucking his arms tight to his side, and falling forward on his belly.
Nick Stuart: That’s an interesting celebration. Or is he just tired?
Richard Parker: Either way, he’s finally taken control of the match again! Go Glue!
Nick Stuart: I thought he lost the mandate of heaven, Rich.
Richard Parker: It can be regained.
FLAMBO gets up, plants a soccer-style kick in Morty’s gut for good measure, then grabs the gas can. He lifts it up to the crowd, who cheers reflexively for the implied violence before pouring it all over the kendo stick he pulled out earlier. He picks up the stick, and then pulls a lighter out of his pocket. A few clicks, and…
Nick Stuart: Oh my Lord!
Richard Parker: LIGHTBRINGER! FLAMBERGE IS THE PRINCE WHO WAS PROMISED!
FLAMBERGE waits for for Morty to get to his knees and…
Morty pops to his feet, screaming in agony as he holds his skin from the impact from the flaming kendo stick. He bails out of the ring and rolls underneath the skirt while FLAMBO raises the sword to the audience in a pose that will probably spawn 10,000 Instagram posts.
Meanwhile, without warning, Arthur Pleasant emerges from the back and slowly walks down the ramp. There is no Yuri with him. However, he is holding something in his hand.
Nick Stuart: Arthur Pleasant? He’s here? This can’t be good for Morty.
Richard Parker: And what the hell is that he’s carrying with him?!
Pleasant stops short, waiting for Morty to emerge from underneath the ring, which he does, with a fire extinguisher. He holds it up to the crowd, not noticing Pleasant has emerged from the back. He turns around and slides in the ring, pointing the safety implement at FLAMBERGE, still holding the burning stick. FLAMBO begs off, holding the flaming “sword” above his head while Morty points it menacingly.
Nick Stuart: We have the weirdest Mexican standoff in the history of Mexican standoffs.
Richard Parker: Shh, I wanna see how this goes so I know how to adjust my rooting interests accordingly. I might just say forget it and root for whatever that psychopath Pleasant has planned.
Finally, Morty breaks the uneasy tension, pulls the pin, and squeezes.
In the confusion, Pleasant advances. His emotionless face turns into a devilish grin as he holds up what looks like a cattle prod. The fans, bloodthirsty heathens that they are, seem to cheer this momentarily. Pleasant calmly slithers into the ring under the bottom rope and stays on the mat. He crawls to Mort,, who has not yet noticed Arthur’s arrival, with great insidiousness.
Nick Stuart: Oh this is gonna be b-
Richard Parker: WHAT THE HELL?!
That electrical sound comes from Pleasant sticking the cattle prod directly between Mort’s shoulder blades and neck area. Byrnesy drops to the mat and convulses from the 4,001 volts coursing through his body! Pleasant’s face turns into a crooked smile of euphoria as he slides out of the ring, giving a knowing nod to a freshly-powdered FLAMBERGE, who is not one to look a gift horse in the mouth especially after suffering that. He throws down his stick and covers.
Vince Howard: Your winner, and STILL Intense Champion, FLAMBERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGE!
FLAMBO wipes the powder off him more and rolls out of the ring, getting the hell out of dodge. Pleasant looks on with glee from the ringside area, holding up his cattle prod with a sick smile on his face. The implement looks as if it’s a homemade contraption, replete with smiley faces on it.
Nick Stuart: This is about to get REALLY bad!!
Richard Parker: I think it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, Arthur is giving back what he received from Mort at Tropical Turmoil. Tony Gamble DID warn him!
Sliding back into the ring, Pleasant unfolds the steel chair already in the ring and places it directly over Mort’s head, trapping him in case he comes to from the shock he just received. Taking a microphone out of his waistband, Pleasant speaks into it while looking down at Mort’s eyes rolling to the back of his head.
Arthur Pleasant: You took something of mine at Tropical Turmoil. Tonight? I take something of yours.
Reaching down, Pleasant grabs at the eyeholes of Mort’s mask… AND TEARS THE RIGHT HALF OF IT RIGHT OFF HIS FACE!
Nick Stuart: HE JUST HALF-UNMASKED MORTIMER!
Richard Parker: He has no one else to blame, honestly. That unprovoked attack on Arthur Pleasant at Tropical Turmoil
Holding a piece of Mort’s mask that he just destroyed and pulled off of Mort’s face, he clutches it in his fist like he’s Bane and just broke Batman’s cowl.
Arthur Pleasant: Oh, and I’d like to introduce you to a good friend of mine. We go back a ways, and he’s been wanting to make his PRIME debut. So, without any further ado… allow me to introduce you to…
Getting up off of the steel chair, he kicks it away and sticks the cattle prod directly into Mort’s gut.
Arthur Pleasant: … Mr. ZAPPENSTEIN!
Mort flops around like a fish as Pleasant holds Mr. Zappenstein high into the air! While half the crowd is booing, the other half who hate C. Mortgomery Byrnes are cheering. “Immigrant Song” by Voodoo Prophet hits the speakers as Pleasant stuffs the ripped-off piece of Mort’s mask between his teeth and fangs.
Nick Stuart: Statement. Made.
Richard Parker: These idiots are gonna psycho the shit out of each other. This should be fun!
The camera zooms in on Pleasant’s sick smile as the screen…