NO MORE IF
The camera is fixed on the entry to the Baltimore Arena in… Baltimore, MD. Where’d you think it’d be, Narnia? The shot is fixed on the steel doors for a few beats before one creaks open into a full swing. The crowd roars because it’s the challenger to the Universal Championship in tonight’s main event. He looks like a blast from the past, wearing a thick blue blazer and pants over a baby blue full turtleneck. The colors of his mask are blue and silver for now. Steal this look, from the iconic movie, El Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters. Completing his look is his duffel bag. A picture of calm before the most awesome storm he’d face in his career.
Universal Championship on the line.
A career-defining moment in the balance, threatened from behind with furious rage from the Bayou.
The Anglo Luchador is ready. He has things to say to his fans, his haters, to Youngblood, all before the bell rings and armageddon is upon him. He’s hoping he sees a reporter he trusts, one with red hair and a reputation for journalistic excellence.
He meets a woman with a microphone, alright. It’s just not the one he was looking for.
Woman: Well hello there, mysterious. Care to spend a minute, answer a few questions?
Brunette locks. Expert makeup. Form-fitting designer dress with pumps to match. To the untrained eye, she’s perhaps a new hire in PRIME. Those in the know, however, realize the Luchador should probably get out of there before she can open her mouth again.
Savannah Scandal has a lot of things on her mind. None of them the PRIME Universal Championship.
The Luchador pretends not to notice her, trying to move past briskly, hoping Angelica Brooks, Simon Tillier, Matt Mills, hell, even the fuckin’ Minotaur is around somewhere with a microphone. Unafraid of charging tecnicos, she stands her ground right in his path.
Savannah Scandal: You definitely have time for a few questions, silver daddy.
TAL: No, I don’t, I have the most imp…
Savannah Scandal: First thing’s first, hot stuff. How’s Melissa in the sack?
A shocked Luchador steps back.
Savannah Scandal: Don’t act shocked. We all know that’s why you so graciously took in another man’s daughter.
The challenger blinks his eyes hard and long while inhaling deeply through his nose.
Savannah Scandal: What, El Gato got…
TAL: Shut up.
Savannah Scandal: Excu…
TAL: No, you excuse me. Please get out of my way before I take my cellphone out, call Dametreyus, and have you forcibly removed from the arena.
Savannah Scandal: Go ahead and call him, sweetie. I’m sure he’ll love you wasting his time and harassing a member of the press.
The Luchador sighs.
Savannah Scandal: So are you gonna answer?
Savannah Scandal: Okay then, I’ll…
The challenger walks off, leaving Scandal with a look of disgust on her face. He walks a few more paces before finding the one he hoped he’d find upon entry.
TAL: There’s the interviewer I want to see.
Angelica Brooks: Big night, Tom. I’m sure you’ve got some last words.
TAL: You could say that.
Angelica Brooks: Any parting shots before you head off to the main event?
The Luchador puts his duffel bag down, inhales deeply, and then holds his hand out for a microphone, which Angie obliges (she always has that thang on her).
TAL: Yeah, I do. Brandon, you’re the standard around here for a reason. Pretenders try to think it’s easy to get by you so they can do their own pervert shit like taking the belt off to wherever they think is better than here. Truth is, nowhere is better than PRIME and it’s because of wrestlers like you and like me. If you win, I will shake your hand, but honestly, that’ll be the last time I use that word tonight.
The challenger closes his eyes for a beat before jolting them open again, pupils steely in focus.
TAL: “If” is a word people who don’t know they have it in them. Too long, I was like that. Mistaking timid for deferential. It took me injuries, conflicts, screaming matches, a too-long hiatus, and everything else that’s happened in the last 18 months to get here. But I am not coming to destroy the Diamond or use this title to glorify some vanity project or something greater than PRIME because there is absolutely no wrestling promotion greater than PRIME.
TAL: And it’s time I proved to you, to me, to Brandon, to everyone, from the Russians to the Cajuns to the people who couldn’t fucking cut it here, that I am worthy to carry this standard. That I am the one who will establish myself not only as the man here, but in this entire confederation of promotions.
He hands the microphone back to Angie.
Angelica Brooks: Wow, you heard it here. One last thing, any updates on Nora?
The Luchador shakes his head.
TAL: Sorry, Ange. I don’t mix those topics up. Just know she’s safe.
The challenger picks his duffel bag up and nods to the senior reporter before heading off to his locker room to prepare for the biggest match of his life.
Angelica Brooks: Alright, you heard it. Now let’s kick off ReVival 32!
Before the camera cuts to Nick and Richard at ringside, it pans over to Savannah Scandal, with an unimpressed look on her face, rolling her eyes.
Savannah Scandal: Pfft, amateurs.
JACK OWYNS VS. KENNADE STARR
We are LIVE in the Baltimore Arena! And it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the show.
READ! THAT! SIGN!
DANIELS VS SYKES: LEGS VS ASS
TEETH TEETH TEETH GAP TEETH
I HEAR VOICES IN MY SIGNS, THEY TELL ME THREE AND SIX MAKE NINE
HELLO FROM THE GAMBLE ADORATION SIGNDICATE
LOOK, SOMETIMES A MAN JUST NEEDS A COMMA TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES. IT’S HARD, YOU KNOW, COMING UP WITH SIGNS THAT ENTERTAIN PEOPLE, BUT YOU NEVER CONSIDER MY FEELINGS FOR COMMAS, FRANK!
CAN I HIRE CECILWORTH TO EULOGIZE MY GREAT AUNT GLADYS?
NATE COLTON DID NOTHING WRONG!! SHOW OF HANDS — WHO HERE HASN’T ALWAYS WANTED TO CLOCK JILES RIGHT IN THE JUEVOS?!
DOES PRIME SUPPLY DENTAL COVERAGE? ASKING FOR ARTHUR PLEASANT.
UNIVERSAL TITLE = BARBIE
5-STAR TITLE = OPPENHEIMER
IS ARTHUR PLEASANT ONLY MEAN AND NASTY BECAUSE HE’S TEETHING?
‘Sex Drive’ by Machine Gun Kelly starts. Wasting no time, Jack Owyns walks out from the wrestler tunnel and makes his way towards the square circle. Firing insults at all the fans close enough to hear his words but not stopping to hear any of their clap backs.
Nick Stuart: “The Villain” Jack Owyns is looking to pick up his first victory. He has an… interesting challenge ahead against Kennade Starr.
Richard Parker: I like this guy! He knows who he is, he’s not doing any of that kissing up crap! Plus, I don’t get the whole “e-girl” thing.
Nick Stuart: Starr’s from a different generation, Rich.
Richard Parker: A generation of vidiots.
The Villain continues firing insults as he walks around the ring to the opposite side of the entrance. Jack rolls under the bottom rope and finds a seat in the corner of the ring. Music cuts out.
Vince Howard: Ladies and gentlemen, this is our opening contest! In the ring to my right… From Seattle, Washington! Weighing in at 253 pounds… “The Villain” JACK OOOWWWYYYNSSSS!
“Caramelldansen” by the Caramella Girls pops over the PA system. Kennade Starr bounces out from the backstage area. She does a little spin before doing a cute dog ear flap with her hands. Potentially lost on those not paying attention, an absolute unit of a man stalks out behind her.
Richard Parker: Dear lord, what the hell is that thing?!
Nick Stuart: I’m being informed that’s Kennade’s butler, Mr. Bubbles.
Richard Parker: Mr. Bubbles?! Of course that’s his name…
Vince Howard: On her way to the ring… From “Your favorite stream”… Weighing in at “None of your business”…. KENNADE STAAAAAAAARR!
Kennade bops her way down the ramp to the ring, the ominous presence of Mr. Bubbles not far behind. Starr climbs into the squared circle, posing and preening for the crowd. She even pulls her phone out.
Nick Stuart: Is she streaming right now?!
Richard Parker: Probably? Her generation loves that crap.
Nick Stuart: Time is passing us by, Rich.
Richard Parker: Speak for yourself, old man! I’m still hip!
Referee Jimmy Turnbull steps in to check Kennade’s gear. Seeing his competition up close, Jack Owyns smirks before turning to jaw with the crowd. Kennade doesn’t submit to the gear check; instead, there’s a short conversation before she waves Jimmy off in Mr. Bubbles direction. The butler does submit to the hesitant referee’s application of the rules.
Richard Parker: Wait, what the hell is going on here?
Nick Stuart: I’m getting word that apparently, Mr. Bubbles will be wrestling on Kennade’s behalf?
Richard Parker: … That’s genius.
Jack Owyns turns around just in time to see Kennade exiting the ring, Mr. Bubbles standing in the opposite corner. He begins to vehemently complain.
Owyns continues to argue with Jimmy Turnbull, who is actively tuning out the complaints at this point.
Nick Stuart: While I understand the confusion and frustration from Jack Owyns, a decision has been rendered. He needs to respect that and not-
Richard Parker: Get his head knocked off!
Indeed. At this point, Mr. Bubbles has moved over and grabbed Owyns by the shoulder. He roughly spins The Villain around before dropping him with a nasty throat thrust uppercut! Though down, Owyns doesn’t get much room to breath as Mr. Bubbles yanks him to his feet by the head and neck. The man monster sends Owyns to the corner roughly, taking a few steps back before blasting him with a lariat! Owyns slowly crumples to the mat in response.
Mr. Bubbles drags Jack away from the corner by one foot, looking like a movie killer on their way to dispose of a body. He stops near the middle of the ring, letting go. Speaking of movie killers, Bubbles drops down to choke the life out of the barely moving Villain. Jimmy Turnbull counts for a break.
FI-Mr. Bubbles finally breaks the hold.
Nick Stuart: Mr. Bubbles was running a risk of being disqualified there, Nick.
Richard Parker: Yeah, but he had till five! Rule bent, not broken. I gotta say though, Kennade Starr is wrestling a hell of a match.
Nick Stuart: What?! Weren’t you complaining about her minutes ago?
Richard Parker: She’s growing on me! Look at her! She’s barely broken a sweat! I don’t know the last time I’ve seen a rookie control the pace this way!
Kennade is, in fact, sweating very little. No, instead, she seems to be live streaming the whole thing while providing running commentary! By this point, Owyns has again been forcefully dragged to his feet. Mr. Bubbles lifts him up for a back suplex, stalling for a moment. Instead of falling backwards, the butler moves forward, practically tossing the Villain in the air on the way to a vicious backbreaker! Owyns writhes in pain on the ground before Mr. Bubbles goes for the cover!
Mr. Bubbles stares daggers at Jimmy Turnbull, who nervously stands by his proclamation of a kickout.
Nick Stuart: Not much authority on that kickout, Rich.
Richard Parker: Yeah, Owyns just managed to slide a shoulder off the mat there. Real veteran move. But I’ll tell ya, Nick… If Owyns doesn’t get some kind of offense in soon, this one’s not gonna last much longer!
Bubbles takes a near limp Owyns and casts him near the ropes. Jimmy Turnbull steps in between the monster and his meat, trying to give Jack a chance to get out of the ropes. As Owyns leans his upper body over the bottom cable, Kennade moves in, capturing them both in the same frame of her stream.
Kennade Starr: See?! See?! I’m totally kicking this guy’s butt! I’m on my way to being the best wrestler ever, #StarrShines!
Richard Parker: Those are, uh, some big words.
Nick Stuart: Didn’t you just say she was doing great?
Richard Parker: Sure, but saying you’re gonna be the best ever? Kid needs to pump her brakes a little, even if she’s wrestling a very smart match in her debut.
Nick Stuart: That’s certainly an interesting way to rationalize this whole thing.
Mr. Bubbles has pulled Owyns off the ropes by this point. A big scoop slam sends the veteran to the mat, arching his back in pain after being driven down. He doesn’t have to suffer that pain for long as Bubbles drags him back up for another hard slam down to the mat. The massive man jumps up for a big elbow drop… But Owyns moves!
Nick Stuart: Might have telegraphed that one a bit. Jack Owyns needs to take advantage of this opening!
Richard Parker: No doubt. Owyns needs to- Er, nevermind.
Yes, though the elbow drop missed, Mr. Bubbles recovers almost instantly, showing no signs of pain or suffering. He goes back after Jack with surprising speed for a man his size, yanking him to his feet. Irish whip and the worse for wear Owyns is back down on the mat after a big boot. Another attempt at a big elbow drop. This time, it’s successful, leaving Owyns coughing and gasping desperately for air.
Mr. Bubbles stays on him, looking to pull the experienced grappler back to his feet. As he does so, Owyns finally shows signs of life by breaking the hulking butler’s grip! He fires off a punch to the face! Another! Another!… And Mr. Bubbles just stares at him, the kind of stare that sends chills down one’s spine. A counter throat thrust uppercut yet again plummets Owyns back to the mat.
Nick Stuart: I thought Owyns might have been starting to push back there.
Richard Parker: Yeah, that lasted about as long as my first marriage.
Nick Stuart: Need to talk, Rich?
Richard Parker: Nope.
By now, Kennade has her back to the ring, leaning against the apron. She streams the chaos behind her while keeping herself the focus of the stream.
Kennade Starr: Yes, #StarrShines, ya girl is totally owning this! I dunno if I’ve ever played a match where I’ve been winning this easily! Mash that like, slap that subscribe and share so you can see me keep the cutie combat going!
Nick Stuart: Does… Does she think this is a video game?
Richard Parker: Hey, you get enough peyote in you, you’ll think everywhere you go is a world of pure imagination!
Delusions aside, it’s obvious this match is near its end. Mr. Bubbles pulls Owyns to his feet. A stiff boot to the gut doubles the Villain over. Bubbles jerks his into a standing head scissors. Hooking both arms around Owyns’ waist, Bubbles lifts him up… and drops him down hard with a Jackknife Powerbomb! The man monster drops down to his knees, crawling over to the very likely unconscious Jack Owyns. He hooks one leg upward, using his other free arm to push down on the opposite shoulder.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: The winner of this bout, Mr. Bu-
Kennade slips into the ring, glaring at Vince Howard, head titled to the side, hands on her hips.
Vince Howard: Um, the winner of this bout… Kennade Starr?
Despite the rather befuddled proclamation of victory from Vince Howard, Kennade excitedly jumps up and down in celebration.
Nick Stuart: A strong win for…
Richard Parker: Kennade Starr.
Nick Stuart: You know what? Sure. A strong win for Kennade Starr in her debut. Or something like that.
We cut backstage to see…
YOU DON’T EVEN GO HERE
…Lindsay Troy’s office.
That’s right; we’ve barely started the show and the boss already has to deal with nonsense. That’s a bad sign.
Normally she’d be handling Boss Business right now. Stuff like looking over advertising contracts or ratings reports. Or even processing one of the resignation letters sent weekly by the Hollywood Bruvs, even though she fired them a year ago. Who knows.
Instead, she’s got on a PRIME referee kit and is lacing up a pair of sneakers, thanks to Abe Lipschitz’s stipulations for the Alias Title.
And no, she’s not calling it by that other name, thank you very much.
Wade Elliott is here too, because every so often the Queen needs to take a break and look at something pretty. He sits in the chair beside Lindsay’s desk, watching his lady get ready.
Wade Elliott: Y’gonna let me help’r what?
Lindsay Troy: (grimacing) I said I got it.
Oh, yeah. She’s also dealing with a rib injury thanks to a 300+ pound moonsaulting man who took her pretty title belt from her.
Wade Elliott: Fer Hoyt’s sake yer stubborn. C’mere.
He takes her foot off the edge of her chair, places it on his leg, and finishes tying the laces. He does the same for her other shoe, then gently pulls her chair closer.
Lindsay Troy: (softly) Thanks.
Wade Elliott: This still ain’t a bright idea.
Lindsay Troy: (smiling) You’d be going ahead with this if you were me, and don’t say you wouldn’t.
So that’s what they do while they wait for the trouble to start. Fortunately they don’t have to wait long, as there’s a sudden commotion outside.
“Careful with the dress! This is a Dior!”
“No, it’s not.”
“This is a…close approximation of a Dior!”
“Not that close. The stitching’s all wrong.”
The door flies open as two people enter the office. The first is Dametreyus, PRIME’s Head of Security. He’s got a hand clasped around the arm of the second person; a much smaller woman in a black-and-purple dress with a neckline that plunges almost as far as her morals. This is Savannah Scandal: wrestling “journalist,” tabloid reporter, gossip columnist, and a fourth thing that we can’t say on air.
Dam shoves her into the chair on the opposite side of the desk.
Dametreyus: Caught this one making trouble at Tom’s press conference. Says she’s got permission.
Lindsay Troy: Nobody gave her permission to be the absolute worst, nevermind permission to be here.
Savannah Scandal: First of all, I just want to say that your man here was very rough with me just now.
Lindsay Troy: First of all, I don’t buy that for a second. Dam’s an absolute teddy bear. Aren’t you, Dam?
Dam: That’s what everyone says, Boss.
Lindsay Troy: Second of all, don’t hold your breath expecting an apology because you don’t deserve one.
Savannah Scandal: I don’t want an apology, I want his phone number.
She winks at the Head of Security; he shudders in response. It’s not that Savannah isn’t attractive…it’s just that everything about her that looks good is just as fake as her “designer” dress.
Everything about her that looks bad? Very, very real.
The interloper turns back toward Lindsay, and plasters a new fake smile on top of her old one.
Savannah Scandal: Lindz! Babe!
Troy gives her a glare that could melt steel.
Savannah Scandal: Ms. Troy. Savannah Scandal, creator of the Scandal Sheet. The internet’s number one column!
She offers her hand to Troy, who looks at it as if it were a dead rat, or Angelo Deville.
Lindsay Troy: We’ve met already.
Wade Elliott: Pretty sure you asked if I was her “side piece,” or “main ho.” Never got an answer t’that, now that I think’ve it…
Lindsay Troy: Dam, would you mind putting this trash in the dumpster, please?
Savannah Scandal: Hold on just a minute! I’m here as an accredited journalist! Sweetie, could you return my bag?
Oh right, the bag. Dametreyus was still holding a black satchel, which he dumps in Savannah’s lap.
Savannah Scandal: Careful! That’s a Louis Vuitton!
Dametreyus: The tag says “Larry.”
Savannah Scandal: …it’s his brother.
Before she gets thrown out, Savannah starts rifling through the bag. Moments later, she produces a set of papers that may or may not be official documents.
Savannah Scandal: There we are. Official permission to be here as a journalist, signed by your office this morning. Press pass, backstage access, the works.
Scandal tosses the papers on LT’s desk. Lindsay looks them over with a skeptical eye, searching for the slightest excuse to deny Savannah’s application. Unfortunately, she finds none; everything is in order. All the t’s crossed, all the i’s dotted. Well…actually, there are little hearts instead of dots, but the Queen can’t really argue with that because Deb Warenstein did the same thing on her resume.
Lindsay Troy: Is there a reason you decided to screw with me today? We have enough staff, and nobody wants you here.
Savannah Scandal: That’s not quite true. The last page is a recommendation from one of your employees. Someone really wants me here…and it feels soooooooo nice to be wanted.
Troy flips to the final page. To her surprise, it’s exactly what Savannah said it was. She tosses it aside and snarls at the “journalist.”
Lindsay Troy: Fine. Stay out of the locker rooms and don’t touch anyone.
Savannah claps her hands in delight, then stands up and turns to leave. But first, she grabs a small recording device from her bag, and sticks it in Wade Elliott’s face.
Savannah Scandal: Wade, is it true that you two broke a hotel bed in San Diego after Tropical Turmoil?
The Bad Dog snorts, looking down at the device. He grins mischievously, then snags the device from Savannah’s hand, bending the plastic casing with a thumb before it snaps.
Wade Elliott: And a coupl’ve mirrors. Shoulda been there.
Lindsay Troy: Dam, get her out of here.
Dametreyus: Time to go, Savannah.
Scandal frowns about not getting an answer, but does as she’s told.
Savannah Scandal: You know, I’ve got an extra card for my hotel…
Dametreyus: Good for you.
The door closes, and peace is restored to the Boss’ office…at least for a moment.
Wade picks up the discarded sheet of paper, and reads the name of the idiot who put this fiasco in motion.
Wade Elliott: Huh. Didn’t think this kinda thing was up his alley.
Lindsay Troy: It usually isn’t. But he’s been making a lot of bad choices lately, so I can’t say I’m surprised.
On that very ominous note, ReVival heads elsewhere.
WHAT HEAVEN MUST BE LIKE
“Guess Bobby Dean isn’t here tonight.”
“There’s still ribs, so probably not.”
Pre Bobby Dean.
It truly is a sight to behold.
The ribs are positioned in a semicircle cradling a cornucopia of various fruits from rings of pineapple to cored and sliced apples shaped like a fan. The desserts are still intact, with just a few slices or portions neatly removed from the dish they are in. The vegetable trays – which are pretty much untouched even after Bobby’s visit – are circled around a bowl of ranch dip, while a fountain of chocolate cascades over a mountain of strawberries, bananas, and marshmallows.
Tony Gamble watches as Johnnie Newsman spears a marshmallow with a skewer, before dipping it into the chocolate in order to fully coat it in semi sweet bliss.
Johnnie Newsman: You should really try this. The chocolate has a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and –
Tony Gamble: Yeah, yeah, look…
Johnnie turns around, chocolate circling his lips, and just stares wide eyed at The Grin.
Tony Gamble: You look ridiculous.
Johnnie Newsman: You look ridonkulous.
Tony Gamble: You can’t go out there looking like that.
Johnnie runs his tongue around his mouth, his eyes closed to a slit as a slight smile stretches out toward his ears. Tony grabs a napkin and hands it to Johnnie, who hands the skewered marshmallow with chocolate running down the stick to Tony in return.
Tony Gamble: We need to go, my match is –
##I saw you and then all of my nights turned morning##
The muffled voice of Molly Sandén is heard.
##You turned ’round and I suddenly found my glory##
The singing continues as Tony tosses the marshmallow toward the tag can in the corner, but he doesn’t make it in. Instead, it slaps against the outside with a wet thud, before slowly sliding down – leaving behind a sticky white and brown trail.
##Sometimes I pinch myself ’cause I don’t know
Am I dreaming now?
I wanna stop the clocks and hold you close
But I don’t know how##
Tony wipes his hand with a napkin of his own before finally digging the phone out of his pocket as Will Ferrell’s voice begins to soothe your ears.
##Hey baby, when you loo…##
Tony Gamble: Hey, hold on real quick.
Tony pulls the phone away from his face and looks over at Johnnie.
Tony Gamble: I need to take this, but we need to go. Clean up on the way, let’s go.
Tony turns and starts toward the door.
Tony Gamble: I don’t have much time, what’s up?
Tony exits, leaving Johnnie there licking his fingers as he looks at the beauty that is catering.
Johnnie Newsman: I don’t know if you’ll be here when I get back, but if you are…it won’t be for long.
He rubs his fingers on his pants, as he hurries after Tony.
We then cut to ringside for the match with one of the two people who were just in this segment.
ALIAS TITLE: ABE LIPSCHITZ VS. TONY GAMBLE
Vince Howard: The following contest is schedule for one fall and is for…
He looks at the card in his hand, and then at the other person in the ring. The one in the referee stripes. The one who looks like she’d rather be anywhere else.
The one who pays his salary.
Vince Howard: Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration.
“Born for this” by Divide Music starts to play through the speakers as Tony Gamble and Johnnie Newsman step out from behind the curtain, soaking in the chorus of boos that rain down from the crowd.
##Where my heart is, rests my very soul
And the colors bleed from blue to gold
When the choice is mine and mine alone
I won’t give in even if you break my bones##
Vince Howard: Coming to the –
Johnnie Newsman: Hold please. I say again, hold please.
##I won’t give in ’till your sins have been atoned
All I see is the flickering lights below me
All I need is the power to change what I see
If I can give a little, not a second thought##
Johnnie Newsman: I am so sorry to be interrupting, mister Vince, but we cannot have you doing the mistake with Tony’s name again.
##If I’m stuck in the middle, I will take the shot, woah
All I wanna be, yeah##
Tony stretches his arms out wide, welcoming the crowd’s form of adoration as Johnnie continues to speak.
Johnnie Newsman: Coming to your ring, with a weight of one hundred and the eighty nine pounds of lean, healthy muscles on a man.
##Yeah, I was born for this
I will keep my secrets high above
In the hopes to protect the ones I love
But I wonder where in darkness lies the truth##
Tony makes his way down the ramp, ignoring the few smarks in the crowd that actually do like him. They reach their arms out, awaiting a slap of acknowledgement that will never come as Johnnie stays at the top of the ramp.
Johnnie Newsman: He is your Permascar Superstar.
##Of the one who took their lives, you can’t excuse
I don’t fear you, I won’t let you take my home
I will climb through to wherever you may roam
I won’t give in, you can even break my bones##
Tony climbs the steps, looking out at the fans that have not quieted down at all since he stepped out from behind the curtain. They love to hate him.
Johnnie Newsman: TOOOOOOOOOOOONYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!
##What is within is a strength you’ll never know
All I see is the flickering lights below me
All I need is the power to change what I see##
He steps in between the middle and top ropes to get into the ring, making his way to the center.
Johnnie Newsman: THE GRRRRRRIINNNNNNNN!!
##If I can give a little, not a second thought
If I’m stuck in the middle, I will take the shot, woah##
He drops down to one knee.
Johnnie Newsman: GAAAAAAAAMMBLLLLLLEEEEE!!
##All I wanna be, yeah##
He stretches his arms out once again, then throws back his head to stare straight up in the air.
##Yeah, I was born for this##
Nick Stuart: Vince Howard not having the best night, if the last few minutes are any indication.
Richard Parker: Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have the lean, healthy muscles of a man, Nick?
Nick Stuart: My doctor says I’m in great health.
I wonder if things are going to start trending upwards for Mister Howard.
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
That would be the opening barrage of doo-doo-doo’s from Shanice Wilson’s timeless classic “I Love Your Smile.”
Vince Howard: Hailing from Virginia Beach and weighing in at two-hundred and ten pounds…
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Abe Lipschitz and the many, many feathers of Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration step out onto the stage to take in the Baltimore crowd. Of course, Abe is not alone. He’s joined tonight by a small cadre of young, athletic, muscle-y men that flank him as he walks to the ring.
Behold the Troy Boys.
Vince Howard: He is the current champion of Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration…
An eye roll from tonight’s special guest referee.
Each member of the Troy Boys, those handsome devils, are dressed to honor the different stages of Lindsay Troy’s career. There’s “Avril Lavigne’s First Hit Single” Troy. “Business Casual Matron of Owls” Troy is there. There’s even a version whose silhouette appears slightly pixelated, as if he was ripped straight from a popular wrestling game. His name is Zephram, and he has an unhealthy obsession with the Koji Clutch. Fortunately “What The Fuck, Dean?” Troy is absent, because no one wanted to cosplay that.
Vince Howard: He is ABE… THE BABE… LIPSCHIIIIIIIIIITZ!!
Nick Stuart: I’m not sure if this is better or worse than I imagined tonight’s entrance to be.
Richard Parker: I saw the original draft, Nick. It could have been so, so much worse. We’re talking “drive to Massachusetts with a bat and a shovel” worse.
Each of Troy Boys is carrying an owl balloon, which are all released into the air as soon as Abe gets to ringside.
Nick Stuart: Someone’s going to have to get those down.
Richard Parker: Meh, there’s a roof, and they’ll fall eventually.
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
Doo-doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo
The Troy Boys hoist Abe onto the ring apron before Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration is removed and held aloft, and oh boy this sentence makes no goddamn sense if you don’t realize that’s the name for the Alias Title.
Tony Gamble walks to the center of the ring with one hand behind his back and the other extended out in front of him in a sign of friendship and good sportsmanship, so it’s obvious how this is going to go. He tried this same tactic during the ReVival 28 match to great success, using the distraction to quickly blind his opponent. This time Abe is ready, and oh so eager to defend the honor of Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration. The Scenery Boy bats Gamble’s gesture away and then starts throwing hands. So many hands. All the hands. One of those hands cracks the Grin in the corner of the mouth and draws a little blood. Probably not two stitches worth, but still.
Nick Stuart: It seems that wanting Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration is more than just lip service from Abe Lipschitz.
Richard Parker: Ugh!!
Nick Stuart: What?
Richard Parker: You’re one hundred percent getting an angry letter for that one.
Nick Stuart: What do you mean “angry letter”?
Richard Parker: You know… from that one guy? The one who hates puns?
Gamble recovers and fires back with a vengeance. A series of punches drive Lipschitz back into the corner, but the barrage doesn’t stop. He lands another half dozen blows before pausing, because something about this doesn’t feel right. There should be yelling. There should be a referee telling him to knock it off. But when he glances over his shoulder to find the referee all he sees is Lindsay Troy casually leaning against the ropes with her arms folded.
LIke any great scientist, Tony Gamble has a theory to test. He starts by poking The Babe in the eyes with his index and middle fingers. Then he glances back to where Troy is standing. Nothing. Not even the slightest hint of annoyance.
Nick Stuart: Timo Bolamba might want to have a chat with the boss about refereeing techniques when this is all over.
Richard Parker: Lemme know how that works out for him.
Well, no more than was already there for having to referee this debacle, but still.
Time to push his testing to the next level. He grabs Abe around the throat with both hands and leans all his body weight against him. Lipschitz reaches out, his arms and legs thrashing, but finds no aid from tonight’s special referee. After another moment with no repercussions, Gamble steps back. The grin blooms into a full-blown smile.
Lipschitz stumbles out of the corner, coughing and hacking and desperate to catch his breath. Gamble kicks him in the crotch. Just a straight-up boot to the dick. The ol’ yam scrambler, as they say in Tuscaloosa. Abe doubles over to clutch at his tender bits, and Gamble snaps him to the mat with a DDT.
Gamble slides out of the ring. He’s been able to get away with plenty so far, but it’s time to see what happens when things escalate. The timekeeper suddenly finds himself without a chair, and The Grin takes a moment to contemplate his new weapon before reentering the ring.
He raises the chair high above his head, but feels resistance when he tries to bring it down on the back of Abe Lipschitz.
Nick Stuart: Lindsay Troy has got the chair! I guess we know where her line is.
Richard Parker: I’m not surprised. I’ve seen Legend. I know you’re not supposed to let the unicorn die.
Nick Stuart: Ummm..
Richard Parker: Oh. Umm… I mean… shit. PLEASE EDIT THAT OUT OF THE BROADCAST!
Nick Stuart: Plenty of people in the production heard it, Richard.
Richard Parker: PLEASE EDIT THAT OUT OF YOUR BRAINS!
She pulls the chair out of his hands as Tony’s smile fades. But, instead of throwing the chair away, Troy brings it over to the corner of the ring, unfolds it, and takes a seat.
Nick Stuart: Oh. Well. This is a new development.
Richard Parker: She is a very busy woman and deserves to have some “me” time even if it’s in the middle of a match.
Nick Stuart: She’s still going to find out what you said about Abe being her unicorn.
RIchard Parker: GODDAMMIT!
Gamble, now slightly perturbed at the loss of his weapon, turns his attention back to Abe. He snaps off an elbow drop to the back of The Babe’s neck as he starts to rise, and then quickly goes for a cover.
Lindsay Troy does not get up.
Richard Parker: Did she…
Nick Stuart: She sure did.
Before Troy can stomp her foot for the third time, Abe gets his shoulder up.
Nick Stuart: Well, we do know that she’s currently suffering from a rib injury, so I guess it makes sense to not want to hit the canvas to count.
Richard Parker: I swear I’ve seen someone do this before.
Gamble pulls Abe back up to his feet, and armed with the knowledge that he’s going to do something very dastardly to get disqualified, goes right back to work. First with another poke to Abe’s eyeballs, and then with another shot to Abe’s balls-balls.
Meanwhile, the boss takes the phone from her pocket and starts tapping. That Vae Victis group chat isn’t going to read itself, you know.
Nick Stuart: This is the damndest thing.
A piledriver follows, and then Gamble moves for another cover, but not before turning Abe so that his shoulders are aimed away from Troy’s view. She puts down her phone, stands up from the chair, and quickly – and painfully – slides in to make the count. Just before her hand hits the mat for the first time, Tony Gamble stands up. The look he gets in return could burn down an Applebee’s with its intensity.
Richard Parker: Might have spoken too soon, Nick.
Nick Stuart: And now things could get really interesting.
Richard Parker: To be fair, that’s entirely within the rules. Not the eye stuff and pee-pee stuff, but everything else. Besides, this is exactly how you should treat a man who willingly hangs out with Jiles and company.
There are words exchanged in the ring between Gamble and Troy, but what they are is a mystery. They’re spoken in a tone of voice that requires the listener to pay absolute attention in order to hear the message.
Unbeknownst to the folks in the ring (but knownst to us), Abe has rolled onto the arena floor to recover, and a wall of Troy Boys has formed around him to give him some privacy. And as the conversation between Gamble and Troy ends, Abe is steadying himself on the ring apron.
Nick Stuart: Springboard clothesline by Abe Lipschitz, and Tony Gamble damn near gets his head taken off!
Richard Parker: That would be a great shame. It would be real weird to look at his smiling face if he was beheaded.
Nick Stuart: I don’t… what?
Despite the way the match started, there is a new fire in Abe Lipschitz. Tony Gamble committed the ultimate sin: he made Lindsay Troy look like a fool, and made him an unwitting pawn in his little prank. This will not stand. Being the champion of Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration demands it be avenged.
Retribution is swift. The Scenery Boy uses the momentum from his airborne attack and rolls through, then charges for the ropes to build up some speed. Gamble, now stumbling on his feet and dazed from the impact, is sent sprawling into the corner by a spinning heel kick that lands flush on his jaw.
Nick Stuart: Some new fire here out of the man they call The Scenery Boy. We may not always understand or agree with his methods, but there is no question that he is here for one purpose…
Richard Parker: To piss me, specifically, off.
Nick Stuart: To defend Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration.
Richard Parker: Sure, also that.
A flurry of kicks and stomps assails Gamble in the corner, and just as before there is no one to insist that the match be brought back into the ring proper. For all Troy is concerned, these two could kill each other here and now and she would be all the better for it (though there would probably be a mountain of paperwork to deal with).
Gamble manages to break free, crawling between Abe’s legs towards the center of the ring. Abe wastes no time in going to the high rent district again as he climbs the turnbuckles and leaps towards The Grin, catching him with a flying bulldog that earns a chorus of cheers from the mass of Troy Boys at ringside.
Richard Parker: You stop this, Abraham. You stop this right now! That’s a hall of famer you’re in there with.
Nick Stuart: A hall of famer who started this match by using every dirty tactic he could think of in order to try and win.
Richard Parker: It’s called the Hall of Fame, Nick. Not the Hall of Good Behavior.
Lipschitz is unrelenting, much to the delight of the Troy Boys. Well, all of them except for Zephram. He’s too busy trying to Koji Clutch the Spanish announce table. Not the broadcasters who sit there, mind you. The actual table. It’s not working out so well for him.
Nick Stuart: The champion pulling Gamble back up to his feet, and an Irish Whip…
Richard Parker: Racist!
Nick Stuart: …sends Gamble into the ropes.
A pop-up dropkick finds its target, blasting The Grin along the jawline and sending him sprawling once again. He catches his breath in the corner, turning just in time to see Abe charging at him with a head full of steam. At the last second Gamble moves, and crashes chest first into the corner.
Gamble manages to trap Lipschitz in a rear waistlock, looking for a way to re-establish his grip on this match, but the Scenery Boy has other things in mind. He stomps on Gamble’s foot. Then again. And a third time. When Gamble loosens his grip, Abe manages to get his arms around The Grin’s neck.
Nick Stuart: BAM! Snapmare driver!
Richard Parker: Since when does he use one of those?!
Nick Stuart: Nothing is off limits when Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration is on the line, Richard.
Richard Parker: It doesn’t have to be right now, but I want you to take some time and think about what you just said, and the context you said it in. And then I bet you’re going to feel silly.
Nick Stuart: That’s what he named the championship!
Richard Parker: Yeah, but still.
Lipschitz doesn’t give Gamble long to recover, and brings him to his feet almost immediately. He looks out into the crowd, and they can sense what’s coming next. He scoops Gamble up, looking to connect with the Hot Cross Stuns and finish this, but The Grin slides off of his shoulder and throws Abe forward. It’s all he can do to put on the brakes before crashing into Lindsay Troy.
Richard Parker: No, Tony! This is how you end up in the Forever Broom Closet!
Abe begins to apologize for almost crashing into the boss’ personal space, but before he can get many words out Gamble spins him around and pulls him to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Small package!
Richard Parker: It’s perfectly average, thank you very much.
Abe tries to fight it, but Gamble shifts his weight and locks his legs together.
DING DING DING
Richard Parker: JUSTICE!!
Nick Stuart: Tony Gamble has done it! Lindsay Troy’s Love and Admiration is once again the sole property of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate!
Richard Parker: And now I want you to think about how that sounds. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?
As soon as the bell sounds, Troy slides out of the ring. And though she tries to hide it, there’s a wince with every movement from the rib injury she’s been dealing with. Traditionally the championship presentation is the responsibility of the referee, but with Troy gone that honor has fallen to Vince Howard. It’s not every day a ring announcer has to struggle with getting a peacock belt into the ring, so there’ll be plenty of pictures of this on Reddit in the coming days.
Gamble takes the belt, plucks a feather from the strap, and lets it fall to the mat not far from where Abe is trying to make sense of what just happened.
She loves you not.
We then cut to commercial.
COMMERCIAL: 24 HOUR RULE
GO GET YOURS
Back from commercial.
With duffel bag still gripped in one hand, Hayes Hanlon squints his eyes at the scene in front of him with confusion.
The scene in front of him? It’s a one-man show.
Straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Jared Sykes does his best to flatten himself against a wall, peering around the corner and into a conference room.
After a moment, he tip-toes his way across the room. You can pretty much hear the twinkly sounds from his feet.
Another beat, and he drops to his stomach, army crawling to an opposing doorway, peeking into the attached hall.
Hayes, not yet noticed, clears his throat.
Hayes Hanlon: *ahhhhrrrmmm*
The Dragonslayer does not notice, essentially snaking his way to his feet along the door frame.
Hayes Hanlon: *AHHHRMMMMM*
And is Sykes not pulling a periscope out of his pants? No, let’s stop.
Hayes Hanlon: JARED.
Caught in the act, Sykes whirls toward Home Run Hayes, looking left and right out of instinct, but with nowhere to go. Hayes lifts his shoulders and one palm, shaking his head slightly.
Hayes Hanlon: …what’re you doing, man?
It’s hard to look cool when you’ve spent your evening trying to blend in with a hallway, the floor, two potted plants, a vending machine, and at least one table in catering. Fortunately, looking cool has never been something Sykes needs to worry about.
Because he doesn’t, is the joke.
Jared Sykes: Oh, this? I caught word that Savannah Scandal somehow managed to get backstage tonight, like officially backstage, and figured it would be better to not talk to her. I went looking for a cardboard box so I could “Metal Gear Solid” this, but couldn’t find anything.
This is not true. What actually happened is that he found a box, one big enough that he could pull it over his body and crouch-walk around the corridors, but was immediately told by Justine Calvin that, “this is maybe the dumbest idea you’ve ever had, and I’ve seen you dress up as another guy’s dick twice.”
His suggestion to find a wheeled production crate to zoom around in was met with a similar reaction, and a lot more eye-rolling.
Jared Sykes: If nothing else, I figured maybe she’d see me and think I was having a seizure or whatever and leave me alone so that she could make up a bunch of shit about what caused it.
Hayes Hanlon: Does even make any se…actually, yeah. That kinda tracks.
Hayes digs into his pocket, retrieving his phone, thumbing through absently.
Hayes Hanlon: Well, good luck with that. Shoot me a text if she catches you.
Hammerin’ Hayes continues off down the hall. Jared, visibly shifting back from actual cartoon character to a boy, a real boy, turns up an eyebrow, and follows.
Jared Sykes: Hey, you good?
He takes a few steps to follow, both because of his genuine curiosity and because if he stands in one place too long he’s bound to be caught. Unbeknownst to Jared, Hayes rolls his eyes, but stops his stride.
Jared Sykes: Seemed a little off these last few weeks. I know this business can be a lot sometimes. Just wanted to make sure that everything is okay.
Hayes Hanlon: (pinching the bridge of his nose) Dude…I’m fine.
Sykes, keenly aware that the young star is likely not fine, squints his eyes. Noticing this, Hayes takes some of the edge off his general demeanor.
Hayes Hanlon: There’s just…stuff. And I kinda just wanna focus on beating the breaks off of JC Hall. You should probably get focused up on Daniels before she punts you in the head repeatedly. Or disrupts the fabric of spacetime. Or sells more…t-shirts? I don’t know what her deal is.
Jared Sykes: I’m actually trying to not think about it, at least not yet. Don’t know if you heard what she said last week, but she’s basically staked her future in the company on this match. Like if she loses then she doesn’t think she should be able to challenge for championships, and…
Jared Sykes: I would rather not be the reason that someone else’s career has to suffer. But yeah. I’m well aware of the head kicking. Am I ever.
Hayes Hanlon: …I dunno, man. That sounds like her problem.
Jared Sykes: Maybe. Still not sure how I feel about it though.
Hayes Hanlon: Dude, if she’s gonna let a loss sink her multiversal career or whatever, that’s not on you. Seriously, bro. Go get yours.
Jared Sykes: I mean, that is still the plan.
Home Run Hayes nods, then turns his head toward the hallway.
Hayes Hanlon: Anyway, I’m good. I got this one handled. Go handle yours.
Jared watches, and listens, to the footsteps of the Event Horizon as he heads off. But…are they his footsteps? Or are they a pair of heels? Because it’s not the sound of shoes on tile that draws Jared’s attention, but rather the sound of nails on a chalkboard.
“Jarry! There you are.”
Until tonight the list of people who use that name for the Dragonslayer has been limited to one Deb Warrenstein, but she’s not here. Jared glances back over his shoulder to see an eldritch abomination worthy of MESSIAH’s worship.
Savannah Scandal: I’ve been looking for you all over. I have so many questions, so let’s get right into it, shall we?
Jared Sykes: I, uhh… I have a match to get ready for.
He points without looking, not realizing that it’s not in the direction of his locker room. And even if it was, there’s no way he’s getting through that wall without some help.
Savannah Scandal: Just what I wanted to ask you about. So, my readers are dying to know… Did you ever pay for it? You know, to have Anna Daniels knock you around a little?
Jared Sykes: Oh for fuck’s sake.
Scandal draws closer. In a few moments she’ll be dangerously close to invading his personal space.
If there’s a defining trait that Jared Sykes exemplifies, it’s a stubborn refusal to walk away when the odds are stacked against you. He stood against the Love Convoy and the horror of molten chocolate and rusted nails. He went toe-to-toe with Paxton Ray in a match with no rules, knowing full well the consequences of what might happen. He provoked Ivan Stanislav and was thrown through a ceiling as a result. This is just a small sample, collected over the last year and a half, but there’s an entire back catalog of risk.
But when confronted by Savannah Scandal, a long-dormant part of his brain roars itself awake and he does the smart thing, the thing he should have done countless times over the course of his career.
And we run to another backstage area.
ANOTHER CHANCE ENCOUNTER
We see Coral Avalon power walking into the building, his luggage clattering on the ground behind him. He isn’t dressed to compete yet, and there isn’t a whole lot of time to get dressed. Frustration colors his face as he’s talking on his cell phone.
Coral Avalon: I’m finally in the building, Annie.
A few production crew members scatter when they see Avalon approach, mainly because of the speed in which he’s walking. He’s a man with places he has to be, like the locker room. He’s certainly not changing out here.
Coral Avalon: Let me tell you, that’s the last time I take an Uber to the arena. Good grief, it’s like that guy didn’t speak any language that I did.
He listens to his wife for a few moments, and then responds.
Coral Avalon: Yes, I tried talking to him in Japanese just to see what would happen. Why do you ask?
He rounds a corner, and then has to stop abruptly before he runs into someone. After taking a moment to gather his bearings again, Coral went for the apology.
Coral Avalon: Oh! Sorry, I’m in a rush an– Aw, crap.
Cancer Jiles: Konnichiwa, Kaiju Forehead! How many buildings did you knock over on your rampage over here?
For the second time in as many shows Cancer and Coral just so happen to bump into each other.
What are the chances?
Coral Avalon: (to his phone) I’ll call you back, sweetie.
Coral slips the phone into his pocket while never taking his eyes off of Jiles for a second.
Coral Avalon: Jiles, I swear to… okay, I don’t have time for this. Just get out of my way. I’ll even say “please”, just for you. Please get out of my way.
The COOLYMPIAN makes it his exaggerated mission to loop his index finger around Coral’s melon.
Cancer Jiles: You do understand that is impossible to get out of your way? Like, when you walk into a room everyone else in it is now in your way.
Coral Avalon: Oh. Ha. Funny. Very funny, Jiles. Ha ha ha. Do you have anything else for me besides the cavalcade of forehead jokes, or… actually, you know what? I don’t care. One of us has to stand aside to let the other pass, right? So how about I be the bigger man, step to the side, and let you get on with your business today. Whatever it is, anyway. I’m not privy to Bandit business.
Coral takes one long step to his side, giving Jiles all of the room he needs to walk past Coral.
Cancer Jiles: You could be.
Coral blinks, clearly taken aback.
Coral Avalon: …I’m sorry, what? Run that by me again?
Cancer Jiles: Ya know. If you read Cracking News.
The Crownless King ponders.
For one, short, uninterested second.
Coral Avalon: Never heard of it. Now if you’d excuse me, I’ll be on my way.
There is no response from King COOL as a smug Coral Avalon walks past him. The former Universal Champion is too angry, too stifled, too red in the face to respond let alone think. To even further accentuate his frustration his T-Shades are salting over, and his hair is radiating pure NaCL.
To think a forehead like that could levy such a demonstrative insult.
The camera follows Coral as he continues to get as far away from Jiles as he can. He pulls his phone out again, and punches in a number.
Coral Avalon: Hey, Gavin, research project for you. What the hell is “Cracking News”?
We cut away as Coral walks past the camera and towards the locker rooms.
SO LONG, FAREWELL
As the camera changes shots to a different section of the arena, we find Eddie Cross stalking the hallways looking both nervous and ten kinds of pissed off. Given the nature of his recent struggles, that is understandable.
Mere minutes away from the literal biggest match of his life, one thing keeps running through his mind: Dave Gibson.
He searches high and low, asking catering, his AV friends, and he even tries to flag down Simon Tillier, but the interviewer pretends not to see him and scurries off, no doubt remembering their fateful segment.
Finally he finds a plush meeting room of some type out of the eyes of the crew, and decides to sit down in a chair to just prep for his match mentally. He puts in a pair of earbuds and closes his eyes, letting the world drift for a moment while he listens to Shordie Shordie.
After a short time, he opens his eyes and staring at him on a television is none other than his former mentor. Shades of Eddie pulling this exact trick on Mushigihara are not wasted on him as he pulls his earbuds out.
Dave is sitting under a shaded cabana on a beach. The rolling surf is in the background behind him.
Dave Gibson: Hey, kid. I bet you are just on a rampage tonight looking for me… Looking for answers… And looking to tear my head off. Sorry to disappoint. I would much rather be here in this complimentary cabana than in … Hell wherever the show is this week.
Eddie listens intently to Dave as he talks, his mind racing.
Dave Gibson: When are you going to learn, kid… What you want… In this world it’s irrelevant. It is all about what you can earn and what you can take. And on this losing streak… Well… Not been earning much have you? As for what you can take? From me?
Dave whips off his sunglasses.
Dave: Take a look at my eyes, son. Look into the face of a man who gave everything to wrestling and lost all of it except my life. Anything you think you can do to me? Any tortures you think you can inflict? I already did it to myself, my boy.
Dave chuckles a little before continuing.
Dave Gibson: I’ll be back around after my vacation and you’ll have your chance at answers. But not tonight. And on MY terms. That’s what we called veterans’ privilege back in my day.
The shades go back on.
Dave: Good luck against Ivan. You… Ohohoho boy are you gonna NEED it.
The stream cuts as Eddie screams and puts his head in his hands.
After a moment, a comforting voice comes through the door.
TAL: Hey kid, I saw that. I’m sorry. That’s some pretty tough stuff to be going through right now, but you have to pick yourself up and go face Ivan.
Eddie looks up, rage and confusion in his eyes. Tom’s seen the look before in his own son’s eyes. He knows this kid isn’t ready and he is about to walk out there to face one of the most dominant forces in the business within a few minutes.
Eddie Cross: How am I supposed to focus on this match? How am I supposed to focus on anything? He betrayed me, Tom. He left me. He promised he wouldn’t leave me!
TAL: I know, Eddie. I know. All I can tell you is that you have two choices. You can sit in the back and you can let this eat you alive, or you can do what I am going to do later tonight.
Eddie Cross: Yeah? What’s that?
Tom steps forward and kneels down to Eddie’s level. He puts a fist out and his eyes shine righteously through his mask.
TAL: You’re going to go out there knowing the odds are against you and show them what this opportunity means to you. Win or lose, you only lose if you don’t give it everything you got, kid.
Eddie looks up and takes a deep breath.
Eddie Cross: Why not? It’s only Ivan Stanislav.
TAL: That’s right, Eddie. It’s only Ivan Stanislav. He’s just a man like you and me, and all men can be taken down.
Eddie Cross: That’s what my Dad used to tell me when he told me stories of the gods at bedtime.
Tom stands up and claps Eddie on the shoulder before walking back to the door.
TAL: He’s a pretty smart guy, your dad. Helped me through some pretty tough times.
Eddie nods and steels himself for the task at hand.
Eddie Cross: I appreciate what you’re saying, but right now it’s going to have to wait. I have too much on my plate, and there are deep wounds.
Tom takes a deep breath. He took a shot for his friend and maybe it landed. It was a start anyhow.
TAL: I hear ya kid. Do everyone on Jabber a favor will you?
Eddie Cross: What’s that?
TAL: Give Alexei something to lie about tonight.
Eddie laughs and stands up to shake Tom’s hand. He flips the light switch off and the scene cuts to the ringside area.
IVAN STANISLAV VS. EDDIE CROSS
We fade from the the previous scene to…
Match Start in 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…
Nick Stuart: And here comes Eddie Cross.
Richard Parker: Can you imagine if Timo had to referee this match…
Nick Stuart: No Richard, No I can’t. Because he wouldn’t be refereeing an Eddie Cross match.
Richard Parker: Just imagine, Timo having to pick between Ivan and his little boy.
Nick Stuart: That’s disgusting to even think about.
– 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.
Richard Parker: But just imagine though, center of the ring, you’re feeling proud. Puffing your chest out.
Nick Stuart: Let it go Richard.
He adjusts his custom gaming glasses before walking down the ramp focused on the ring. 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!!!
He then runs up the ring steps, wipes his feet on the apron, and enters the ring as Chester Bennington screams into the microphone. There isn’t much time for Eddie Cross to prepare.
Vince Howard: And his opponent… hailing from Arkhangelsk, Russia… weighing in at 400 lbs and standing 7 feet 1 inches tall… He is the Russian Bear… IVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANISLAV!
“The Soviet National Anthem” by the Russian Red Army Choir erupts as Ivan Stanislav and Alexei Rulsan emerge from the backstage area. Stanislav and Ruslan raise their arms, side by side, roar at the crowd, and pointedly make their way towards the ring.
Richard Parker: And Nick, you have to watch your son try to fight that fucking monster…
Nick Stuart: Are you into the edibles again, Richard?
Richard Parker: Solid maybe.
Stanislav points and jaws at several fans along the way, while Ruslan points and hawks at the greatness of the Russian Bear. Stanislav steps over the top rope and thunders into the ring. He raises his arms over his head and bellows at the camera.
Richard Parker: But instead we have to watch Elvis, who is not an Elvis impersonator as a referee… Look, The Boss taught us something earlier in the night, we should really have guest referee’s more often.
Nick Stuart: Ok, ok, fine. Let’s get Cancer Jiles out here to referee every…
Richard Parker: Stop right there before people get ideas. I get your point. I’m wrong and I’m sorry.
Eddie Cross looks across the ring at Ivan Stanislav, the big russian brute glares back across the ring at Eddie Cross. He smiles at Eddie opening up his giant arms, he walks to the center of the ring and motions Eddie in. Cross steps forward and walks to the middle of the ring. The two men meet, Eddie staring up at Ivan. The two looked at each other, each one puffing their chests out.
Richard Parker: Are they going to do anything?
Nick Stuart: I think this is a little bigger than just ‘doing something’, Richard.
The crowd begins to grow anxious as the two men stare, Ivan downwards at Cross, Cross upwards at Ivan. Eddie flinches first and Ivan brings a right hand forward quicker than the Russian Bear has ever brought a right hand forward before. It crashes into Eddie’s chest, and he flies backwards like he was hit with a missile. Ivan shuffles across the ring after Eddie, Cross tries to hold himself up in the corner, but the big Russian is too fast and smashes him with another body shot to the ribs. Eddie doubles over, gasping for air. He stumbles his way out of the corner, down the ropes. He’s gasping for air.
Nick Stuart: Ivan is so powerful, absolutely taking it to Eddie Cross.
Stanislav lumburs behind Cross and clubs him across the shoulder blades and it briefly drops Eddie to one knee who works his way to the other corner. Eddie turns around just in time to be met by a 400 lbs backside crashing into him. Eddie clutches his midsection but the big Russian isn’t done. He wraps an enormous hand around the neck of Eddie, and slams him backward, pushing him precariously close to the top rope. Eddie punches at the big man’s forearm and kicks at him aimlessly as Stanislav squeezes. Elvis Nixon runs over and begins a count.
Ruslan smiles looking up at Ivan dismantling Cross.
Richard Parker: Right at four and a half.
Stanislav relinquishes the choke by dumping Eddie over the top rope to the apron. Eddie smashes off the apron and rolls his way to a kneeling position on the outside of the ring. Nixon makes sure Ivan is backing off of Eddie moving the big man to the corner. Ruslan, realizes Nixon’s back is turned and produces his baton in an instant. He brings it down once across Eddie Cross’ back, he looks up checking the referee, and then brings it down a second time.
Nick Stuart: Oh, c’mon! TURN AROUND!
Richard Parker: Timo wouldn’t have taken his eyes off of Ruslan. See Nick, special referee’s.
Nick Stuart: CAN—
Richard Parker: WE CAN EXCLUDE HIM! FORBIDDEN!
Ruslan collapses the baton and slides it back into his long brown coat’s pocket. He turns away from Eddie and walks away as Nixon finally comes over and is counting. Cross is rolling around on the ground holding his back, and Nixon turns towards Ruslan to admonish him. Alexei feigns ignorance as Ivan slides out of the ring behind the back of Nixon. Eddie slowly begins to get to his feet while Stanislav lurks, and just as Eddie is about to stand up straight Ivan rounds the corner and absolutely smashes Eddie Cross across the neck with a vicious lariat. Eddie flies and skids his way across the mat to Alexei’s feet.
Richard Parker: Ouch…
Nick Stuart: What a clothesline to the back of the head by Ivan Stanislav. The Russian Bear looks to be making quick work of Eddie Cross this evening.
Ivan looks to Ruslan who is all grins and smiles. Ivan looks down and grabs Eddie by the scruff of the neck, he picks him up into the air and hurls him into the ring. Eddie crashes down to the canvas as Ivan marches to the steel steps and begins to make his way up them. Eddie uses the valuable time to find his way as far from the Russian Bear as humanly possible, in the far corner.
Richard Parker: And here comes Ivan!
Eddie moves his way out of the corner and Ivan crashes all 400 lbs of himself into it. He looks mildly perturbed as he marches his way out of the corner angrily at Eddie Cross. Ivan loads up a right hand and Eddie slips a left jab into Ivan’s ribs. It’s enough to finally stun the Russian T-72 that’s been chasing Eddie. Cross pulls back and fires another left jab, then a right jab. Ivan takes a step back and finally steels himself to Cross’ jab based onslaught. Just as Ivan stands up straight, Cross reaches up, grabbing the big russian by the ears and slams his forehead directly into Ivan’s nose.
Nick Stuart: HERE COMES CROSS!
Richard Parker: DO SOMETHING ALEXEI!
Ivan staggers backwards, his massive hands pulled up to his nose. Cross winds up and smashes Ivan in the heart with his spinning back elbow. Ivan clutches his hands to his chest and drops down to one knee. Eddie loads up again and lets fly, this time smashing Stanislav across the orbital bone. Stanislav crumples to the mat and Eddie jumps down on top of him, he can only hook one of the big Russian’s massive legs as Nixon slides in.
Richard Parker: NO! IVAN KICKED OUT!
Nick Stuart: I believe so Richard, wow that was incredibly close.
Eddie is shocked as Nixon holds up two fingers. One hand goes around his midsection, the other holds his face inside of it. Cross takes a moment to gather himself, the giant still behind him, Eddie can feel Ivan’s chest heaving with every breath. Eddie steels his resolve and staggers his way to his feet.
Richard Parker: He’s gonna bring him back up.
Eddie reaches down and grabs Ivan by the back of the head, he pulls him up to his feet. He sends the big man crashing into the corner with an irish whip. Eddie backs up to the far corner and goes to take off out of the corner, except Alexei Ruslan has a hold of his foot.
Nick Stuart: OH COME ON! GET HIM OUT OF HERE!
Nixon storms across the ring shouting at Ruslan, finally giving him the ‘yer outta here’ motion. Ruslan is apocalyptic at ringside, he takes his hat off looking to spike it to the mat but thinks better of it. He crumples it into his hand before storming up the ramp. Eddie, finally free of distraction, resumes, and comes storming across the ring looking for the knee strike.
Richard Parker: HE’S PLAYING POSSUM!
Ivan plucks the 225 lbs man out of the air with ease. Ivan’s hand clenches around Cross’ throat as he raises him up into the air. Cross begins to kick his legs, but Stanislav turns to the middle of the ring and throws Cross at the center of the ring as hard as he can. Cross hits the canvas and bounces up off the mat like he was hit by a taser.
Nick Stuart: THUNDEROUS CHOKE SLAM!
Richard Parker: There might be an impact crater where Cross landed…
Ivan flips Eddie over off of his stomach with his boot, before dropping to his knees and placing his hands in the middle of Cross’ chest. Elvis drops to the mat and begins the count.
Richard Parker: SHOULDA STAYED DOWN KID!
Nick Stuart: Eddie Cross still has some fight in him yet!
Ivan snarls at Nixon, staring a hole into the referee as he presses himself up off of Cross’ chest. He bends down and grabs Cross by the back of the head and pulls him up to his feet. He drags Eddie in front of him, never taking his eyes away from Elvis. Ivan grabs Cross in a front face lock, still staring at Nixon. Cross throws a right hand into Ivan’s stomach that barely registers. He tries again, and again… before Ivan stands himself up and brings a looping right hand down across Eddie’s shoulder blades. Eddie drops to his knees, and Ivan resumes the front face lock. Stanislav gets low, and yanks Eddie Cross up into the air.
Richard Parker: Holy shit…
Eddie Cross flips through the air and comes crashing down onto his back from almost ten feet in the air.
Nick Stuart: Red Scare! That’s it!
Ivan drops to his knees, this time hooking both of Eddie’s legs and watching Nixon intently.
DING DING DING
Nixon calls for the bell and hightails out of there. Cross weakly kicks out as Ivan gets to his feet. He looks down at Eddie and nods as Alexei runs down the ramp. The Soviet National Anthem blares as Ivan Stanislav backs his way out of the ring and Eddie Cross rolls to the outside and over against the guard rail and the fans pat him on the shoulder and back.
Vince Howard: The winner of this match IVVVVVVAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN STAAAAAAAAAAAAAANISLAAAAAAAAAV!
Nick Stuart: It’s a tough one for Eddie Cross tonight Richard, but he took Ivan to the limit.
Richard Parker: Ivan won, that’s it. See you all at Turmoil. Get the old man some grease for the wheels, get him in tip top shape.
Nick Stuart: Oh, he won’t be out for that long. C’mon.
COMMERCIAL: STILL TO COME
THE BEATLES OF YAKUZA KICKS
We return from commerical to the locker room, where we see Coral Avalon hurriedly getting his gear together for his match tonight. Fortunately for him, we’ve joined him while he’s at least got his long tights on, and not one minute before that.
He’s also not that far removed from arriving at the arena and immediately running into Cancer Jiles, which is part of the reason why he’s muttering to himself as he laces his boots.
Coral Avalon: (muttering) Freaking Jiles…
He doesn’t look up from what he’s doing, but there’s a subtle change in his eyebrows as he realizes he’s not alone. Without looking up, Coral decides to greet him the only way he can.
Coral Avalon: You know, I hear it’s bad luck to see your opponent gearing up before a match. The Baba Yaga will curse you, or something.
“She wouldn’t do that to me. She’s a friend.”
The light illuminates the other side of the locker room. Leaning against the wall in a convenient patch of shadow, doing his best Bogart…
…is Chandler Tsonda. He steps forward and gives Coral a once-over. He’s bedecked in athleisure, though a few stray hairs seem out of place, which for Tsonda suggests DEFCON 2 or 3.
Chandler Tsonda: You’re certainly running late. You know how many Barbie recap podcasts I’ve listened to while waiting for you? A LOT. Not enough, but a lot.
Coral Avalon: I’m going to guess it’s a non-zero number.
Avalon finishes lacing one of his boots, and then goes to the other.
Coral Avalon: So, as I explained to my wife getting into the building but before I ran into Cancer Jiles, I’m not sure my Uber driver speaks either of my fluent languages. Or any of the languages I kinda know but kinda don’t, since being able to say “hello”, “where is the restroom”, and “where is my blackberry mask” in fifteen languages doesn’t make me fluent.
He sighs, and finally looks up at Chandler as his hands do the work.
Coral Avalon: Just gonna come to me right before the match, are we? I mean, we could start it here, I guess. Work up some energy, pull on each other’s hair, throw each other into the vending machines outside, have a laugh. I don’t imagine that’s what you’re here for, but you never know with this place.
The Model Citizen barks out a laugh, scoffing at the suggestion.
Chandler Tsonda: You and me? Brawling in the back like a bunch of ne’er-do-wells? C’mon, Top Gun: Averick, we’re chivalric as fuck! You hate cheating, I hate…well, I find cheating semi-distasteful, circumstances pending. So no, I didn’t come for blood.
The tension lessens somewhat in the room. Tsonda takes a step towards tonight’s foe.
Chandler Tsonda: You came in through Parking Lot A, right? You see any sign of that bleeding scab of a human being who’s walking around with my face? I know he’s here.
His laces done, Coral moves to putting on his wrist tape. His many scars along his left arm that are usually covered up by his sleeve are clearly visible as he does.
Coral Avalon: I didn’t see your weird doppelganger, no. Presuming you’re not the doppelganger yourself, anyway. Not unheard of. I wrestled a guy in Belgium named Dr. Dominick Doppelpopolis. You’ll never guess what his schtick was.
Chandler Tsonda: Wait, good point. I could be Fake Me. Ask me a question that only the real me would know. No, actually, text me a verification code. No, you know what, leave me a dead drop at ReV 33. I’ll give your weird snack lawyer the location. Until then…(Tsonda puts finger to his lips) don’t say anything to me that you wouldn’t want that nasty little parasite to know. Opsec may be compromised.
In his charmingly manic type of way, Tsonda conversationally pivots on a dime. He raises a finger.
Chandler Tsonda: So…uhh…we gotta punch and kick each other until somebody gets the ol’ uno-dos-tres tonight, huh?
Coral Avalon: There might be a suplex or two. Maybe a backbreaker. Maybe tonight’s the night I try out the sky twister press.
Chandler Tsonda: (excitedly raising his voice) Dude, are we doing WITTY REPARTEE RIGHT NOW? You old sailor, you!
The Sultan of Style appears positively giddy at what appears (at least to him) to be friendly rivalry with the Crownless King.
Chandler Tsonda: The whole reason I set up shop here, other than covert action against Doppeldick, is to say good luck, wish you good fortune in the wars to come, yadda yadda. And also let you know that if you need an affordable assassin to take care of Jiles…(returning Coral’s wink, very obvious) I definitely don’t know a guy, if you know what I mean. But mostly the good luck thing.
Coral Avalon: I was serious about the sky twister press… uh, I mean, what I mean to say is good luck out there!
For the record, Coral Avalon hasn’t done a sky twister press in his life. He is most certainly not informing Tsonda of this, though.
Coral Avalon: As for Jiles, that’s not really a problem I need dealt with yet. I’ll keep the whole not-knowing-an-assassin thing in the back of my mind, though. Maybe it’ll prove not-helpful in the not-future.
Chandler Tsonda: It’ll be an honor to have you try and sky twister press KO me, eventhoughI’lldefinitelydodgeandpinyou, but neither here nor there! Best of luck bashing my face in with your Ringomynomial or whatever.
The Model Citizen offers a handshake, willing to do battle shortly as honorable foes.
Coral stands up and returns the handshake, smiling.
Coral Avalon: Yeah, uh, it’s called Rhongomyniad. Ringomeowmeow is the drummer.
Chandler Tsonda: (tapping his forehead) Duh, you’re so right, brother man. Anyway, we gotta go plot each other’s corporeal destruction, but lemme get your digits.
He pulls up his phone, taps a few buttons, and then squints.
Chandler Tsonda: So weird. I’ve got you in here but it’s just four random digits? Big Twilight zone vibes. Anyway, put your stuff in there. You’re gonna go nuts for these Tony Gamble as Mitch McConnell memes I found.
Tsonda hands over his iPhone.
Coral winces as he taps in his phone number into the iPhone.
Coral Avalon: Done. I’ve been trying to get your number for months, by the way. This was way easier. But why do I feel like I just signed up for a 24-hour Tony Gamble dunking newsletter?
Chandler Tsonda: (pawing through his phone, half-listening) Ok, maybe, I’ll just send you the whole folder. (laughing to himself) God, these are classic. See you out there, compadre.
Chuckling while staring catatonically at his phone, The Model Citizen wanders out the door, and leaves Coral to the rest of his pre-match preparation.
He’s about to attend back to perfecting his wrist tape, when the sound of his phone buzzing interrupts the newly won peace and quiet. The sound buzzes over and over, once for each blessed meme. The Crownless King sighs. We go elsewhere.
RIGHTWAY, WRONG TIME
We see Johnnie Newsman standing next to Mortgomery Byrnes, his mask is no longer the smooth and distractingly cool two tone of black and teal as there is shoddily sewn in olive green fabric which clashes with the entire ensemble. Mortgomery stands in front of the official G.A.S. epicenter (i.e. Tony Gamble’s personal dressing room/office) flanked by Frank Pastore and Domingo Cruz.
Johnnie Newsman: Okay, so, here I am with super talented member of G.A.S. who was super screwed over by super shady Arthur Pleasant two weeks ago during the super competitive Intense Title match against the super French Flamberge. Mortgomery, I, for one, felt you had the match in the bags but—–
Voice (Off Camera): Mortgomery Byrnes?
Entering the frame is a young man, mid-to-late twenties wearing a designer suit (Hugo Boss, perhaps?) with a very large security officer looming next to him.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Who’s askin’?
Designer Suit Man: Myron Righway on behalf of the Law Offices of Arliss Peters. Are you Mortgomery Byrnes a.k.a. Rowan Scatino a.k.a. Mortimer Kjedelig a.k.a. Mortimer Knightingale?
Mortgomery Byrnes: Arliss….? Who the fuck….?
Myron Righway: Here you go.
Myron Rightway, the young and eager junior attorney hands Mortgomery Byrnes a manila envelope.
Myron Rightway: You’ve been served.
Mortgomery Byrnes: What the fuck is this?
Myron Rightway: Restraining order. You are prohibited from coming within one hundred feet of our client, Arthur Pleasant, for the next six weeks unless you are professionally sanctioned to do so by PRIME within the wrestling ring.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Is this a fuckin’ joke?
Myron Righway: I don’t joke.
Mortgomery’s opens the envelope and peruses the document (or pretends to) as Myron and his heavy start to leave. Morty holds up his hand.
Mortgomery Byrnes: OH! Hold up there! This ain’t in my name.
Myron lets out an exasperated sigh, stops and walks back towards Mortgomery Byrnes.
Myron Rightway: It is probably under one of your aliases.
Mortgomery Byrnes: I think that if you’re gonna fuck with people like this that it’s impervious that you get the fuckin’ name right.
Myron Rightway: Let me see this.
Mortgomery Byrnes: C’mon, you really need to do through this thing with a fuckin’ comb.
Myron grabs the documents and begins looking them over as Mortgomery opens the door to Tony Gamble’s Den of Business and leads Myron inside (who is too busy reading to notice where he is headed). As the door closes behind them, Mortgomery is seen grabbing a Louisville Slugger.
Mortgomery Byrnes: You like baseball?
The door closes behind him as Frank and Domingo stand in front of the door. The security guard takes a step to enter the room but Frank and Domingo stop him.
Security Guard: Hey!
Frank Pastore: Nah.
Domingo Cruz: You don’t wanna go in there.
Security Guard: I think I do.
Frank Pastore: Nah. You wanna walk away.
Security Guard: No, I don’t.
Domingo Cruz: Yeah, you do.
Security Guard: I got a job to do. Move.
Domingo Cruz puts a wad of cash in the Security Guard’s hands.
Domingo Cruz: You still wanna go in there?
The Security Guard looks at the pile of cash in his hands.
Security Guard: I’m thinking about it.
Frank Pastore pulls out some cash and a coupon for Subway and hands it to the Security Guard.
Frank Pastore: How about now?
Security Guard: Probably not.
The Security Guard begins counting the money as Johnnie Newsman who has been silently watching speaks up to no one in particular.
Johnnie Newsman: What is going on behind these closed doors here?
Domingo Cruz: Clarification.
Frank Pastore: Reading.
Domingo Cruz: Legal documents and such.
Frank Pastore: Weren’t you listening?
Johnnie Newsman: Wow! Well, I am very curious to get the reaction of Morty after these events that have been transpiring here. A restraining order? Are you kidding? That is real chicken shit right there.
Frank Pastore: Pretty messed up.
The door opens and Mortgomery Byrnes enters, there is blood spattered on his teal and white tracksuit.
Johnnie Newsman: What happened????
Mortgomery Byrnes: I don’t know, this Myron prick is a fuckin’ clutz. Slipped on the fuckin’ baseball bat.
Johnnie, Frank, Domingo, and the Security Guard look inside the room. Myron Rightway lying on the ground in a pool of blood, something protruding from his mouth.
Johnnie Newsman: What’s in his mouth?
Mortgomery Byrnes: The restrainin’ order.
Johnnie Newsman: The…how?
Mortgomery Byrnes: He landed on it. Flukiest thing.
Johnnie Newsman: I totally believe you but some peoples might not think that’s happened the way you say it happened.
Mortgomery Byrnes: And yet, that is what occurred. You wanna roll that fuck outta there?
Frank and Domingo roll their eyes as they proceed to roll Myron’s bloodied, crippled and possibly disfigured body towards the door.
Mortgomery Byrnes: Now, Johnnie, I believe you were about to ask a question maybe about Arthur Pleasant?
Johnnie Newsman: Yes, my—-
Mortgomery Byrnes: I don’t care if that prick’s got a million restrainin’ orders and two million sleazy attorneys. Nothin’ changes. Motherfucker thinks he can try to Green Mile me and get away with it?! I will burn his fuckin’ life to the fuckin’ ground.
Without saying another word, he attempts to adjust his ill fitting, patchwork mask as he walks off camera. Johnnie looks over just in time to see Domingo and Frank plop Myron Rightway in the middle of the corridor. The restraining order dislodges from his mouth and he emits a slight wheezing and gurgling sound as the scene ends and we cut to… someone who wouldn’t put up with this nonsense.
SOMEONE’S GOING TO DIE FOR THIS
Unlike her partner, Justine Calvin is not sneaking around the corridors of the Baltimore Arena, though she probably wishes she did. The expression she wears is one of thinly veiled rage, as if the slightest poke or prod is going to set her fury free in a torrent of white-hot murder. Wonder why.
Oh, hey. There’s the reason! Why, it’s Savannah Scandal, and she’s flanked by a few of the Enemigos. In reality, security could deploy the entire family of masked peacekeepers and it wouldn’t be enough to keep Calvin from punching a hole through Scandal if she decided that was the best course of action, especially not after some of the things that have appeared in her column over the last year. And punching is very much on the table.
Let’s be real, there’s no way a judge would call this anything other than a justifiable homicide.
Also Biff of the Jimmy Bonafide Dancers is there, doing his level best to stave off the pain brought on by what is most likely terminal arthritis. Not that arthritis can actually kill him, it’s just osteo after all, but there are days where he damn sure thinks it’s doing him in. Don’t ask about it; he’ll mumble at you for hours. He’s carrying a bougie coffee cup large enough to drown a small child and what might as well be a vat of designer water, because “show up and carry shit” is his lot in life. How did he get that role? Because he’s a legitimate fan of Ms. Scandal.
Yeah, I know.
Look, the man works for a dance troupe dedicated to Jimmy fucking Bonafide, for Christ’s sake. No one’s even really sure how or if he gets paid. Let’s not start acting like the man is a bastion of big thoughts and good decisions, alright?
But this isn’t about Biff, and we join Justine’s waking nightmare already in progress.
Savannah Scandal: …I saw them together earlier tonight, and I almost caught fire. There were so many sparks.
“And also because whatever you’re wearing is chemically closer to a flammable catalyst than perfume,” is what Justine thinks but does not say, because she’s still holding out hope that if she doesn’t engage then maybe Savannah will get bored and toddle off.
Savannah Scandal: Does it bother you that your fiance keeps finding time to wander off with Hayes? My readers have some very… inventive ideas about what they get up to… and get off to.
Justine’s face begins to turn a shade of red that’s not normally found in nature.
Savannah Scandal: Who do you think is pinning the other when they have their special time together? There’s a lot of padding to deal with between those two.
Justine picks up speed to try and break away, but the gathered mass keeps pace. All except Biff. You know exactly why.
Biff Bonafide: (uncomfortable arthritis noises)
Savannah Scandal: Anyway, how many times per day do you fantasize about Hayes Hanlon? Does it change depending on your mood? How hard does it make show nights knowing that all that separates you is a few feet of hallway and a few millimeters of spandex?
Justine’s eye starts twitching, but she still says nothing. It’s a battle of wills that she is determined to win.
Savannah Scandal: Okay, maybe Home Run Hayes isn’t your thing. That’s a shame, I hear he’s got a hell of a swing with that bat of his. Maybe Jonathan-Christopher Hall is more your speed? I don’t know if he’s into berries, but there are definitely some pineapples in that house of his. What’s it like dealing with his chocolate kink?
Justine just scoffs, and makes a show of rolling her wrists and flexing her fingers. It’s supposed to be a sign that she might be getting ready to throw hands.
Savannah Scandal: I don’t know why you’re being such a prude about this. I was told that I would have access to everyone backstage. Lindsay Troy herself agreed to it.
Scandal pauses and waves Biff over so she can get a sip out of whatever’s in that giant coffee cup. Justine casts a glance back over her shoulder, and while she doesn’t break into a full sprint – that would be just as big a concession as answering any of these questions – she does use the opportunity to pick up the pace.
The sound of heels on tile means she’s not fast enough, nor far enough away.
Savannah Scandal: Alright, so swingers night with the Halls isn’t your jam either.
Justine rounds the corner. Just a few yards away is the door to her locker room. Salvation.
But the questions just won’t stop.
Savannah Scandal: How often do you hear from Abe Lipschitz? I hear he has a thing for… women of a certain age.
Oh, you motherf…
Savannah Scandal: I’ve been wondering something… That was a lovely flower that Ivan Stanislav gave you a few months ago. I couldn’t stop thinking about how strong that stem must be. It’s got my readers wondering whether you two ever scurried off to play “Calvin Missile Crisis” in between matches.
Justine pivots. Her hands, already ball into fists, are now completely drained of any color. She takes a single step towards the gathered mass, but a wall of Enemigos forms in between here and Savannah. One of them raises a hand.
Enemigo XVI: (silent telepathic warning)
The two women lock eyes. Savannah bats her eyelashes innocently. Justine focuses very hard and tries to make the woman’s head explode using only her brain to do it. Naturally, it fails.
With her attempt to X-Men the hell out of Savannah Scandal a no-go, Justine turns on her heel and storms towards the door that will separate her from this menace.
Just a few feet now.
Savannah Scandal: So, a wrestler wedding, huh? I’m sure that will end well. Don’t they always?
A few more steps and this will all be over. What could possibly go wrong?
Savannah Scandal: I don’t suppose there are any wrestler babies coming?
Savannah Scandal: Do you have a father in mind? Maybe someone we’ve talked about?
Savannah Scandal: Because considering who your partner is…
Her voice is cut off because there is suddenly a very angry woman a few inches from her face, because when you move as fast as Justine just did she might as well be teleporting. It happens so quickly that the Enemigos, who are trained to deal with this sort of thing, aren’t able to react in time.
Justine Calvin: Shut. The fuck. Up. Right now. Right this goddamn second. I’ve listened to everything you’ve said, and I have been very, very patient with it all. If you need proof of that? You’re still standing. But now we’ve hit my limit, and if you press me any farther then I’m going to find a stack of bricks from storage and introduce to you every single one of them. You understand? I don’t know how yet, but I’m creative. We’ll figure it out. And when I figure out who it was that let you in here tonight… I’m going to have “words” with that person, too.
With that she storms the last few feet to her locker room door, slips inside, and slams it shut. There’s barely enough time to get a glimpse of Jared Sykes peeking out the doorway before his head is almost taken off.
Savannah Scandal: Oh, boo. You’re no fun.
She’s quick to compose herself. After all, there’s an image to maintain.
Savannah Scandal: Let’s go, Biffy. I’m sure we can find someone more interesting.
Good luck to that poor fucker, whoever they may be.
Now we return to the ringside area.
CHANDLER TSONDA VS. CORAL AVALON
“I said, ‘kiss me. You’re beautiful.’ These are truly the last days.”
Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s sparse vocal intro gives way to the familiar guitar riffs of Coheed and Cambria, “Welcome Home.” Acoustic gives way to electric.
After the pyro subsides, it’s him, the Model Citizen. Chandler Tsonda enters into his jog towards the ring, looking over his shoulder.
Nick Stuart: Chandler Tsonda looks like he’s trying to look forward and behind at the same time.
Richard Parker: Well, he did pay the guy to appear here. It seems what’s good for the goose is good for the… other goose.
Nick Stuart: Goddammit Richard.
Tsonda slides into the ring underneath the bottom rope and pops to his feet.
Vince Howard: Introducing first, from San Diego, California by way of Hanoi, Vietnam, he’s a former Universal Champion and the Model Citizen, Chandler… TSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNDAAAAAAAA!!
Darkness falls within the Baltimore Arena, and smoke begins to fill the stage.
It doesn’t take long for Monster Siren’s “Real Me” to hit the PA system. Light floods the stage from the back, casting a man and his heavy fur cloak (in this heat!?) in shadow. When the guitars kick up, he steps forward and marches his way to the ring through the smoke and the light.
The Crownless King, once again truly crownless, has arrived in Baltimore.
Vince Howard: And his opponent, hailing from Seattle, Washington, he is the Crownless King and a former Five Star Champion… CORAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLL AVALOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!
Coral Avalon marches down to the ring, carrying his battle standard with him. The standard, whose flag depicts the Crownless Kingdom’s logo of a skull with a broken crown on it, flutters in the air as Avalon makes his way down the aisle.
Nick Stuart: This is going to be a good one, folks. Coral Avalon against Chandler Tsonda. Maybe one of the best in the world today against arguably the best in the world in PRIME’s past.
Richard Parker: I don’t really care about this match, but I really want to know what Tsonda’s skin care routine is, because holy crap… that man is not almost fifty.
Nick Stuart: Why do you need to know these things?
Richard Parker: Look, maybe I want to make a new me. A newer, more improved Richard Parker! With 20% more firepower!
Nick Stuart: Why do you need firepower!?
As Nick asks this question, Avalon makes his way into the ring, setting his standard on a lean next to the ring post. He enters the ring and makes his handsign for the hard camera – both fists together, pinkies and rings out. With that done, Avalon moves to his corner to pull his cloak off and prepare for action.
DING DING DING
Coral and Tsonda circle each other, neither one really willing to make the first move. Avalon moves gingerly, his ribs still a bit tender, but his patience is paper thin given the events of the last year to date thus far. His annoyance level at Tsonda grows with each time he withdraws and circles.
Nick Stuart: The Model Citizen not really in the mood to get things started here. I’m thinking this might be strategy to get inside the head of Coral Avalon.
Richard Parker: Well, Nick, there’s a LOT of real estate up there. He’d be able to stretch his feet out and everything.
Nick Stuart: Do we need to get Doug back up here to keep you from making these cracks at Coral’s head?
Richard Parker: *gulp*
Coral snorts through his nose and makes a hard stab at a collar-and-elbow tie-up, but Chandler, on legs as spry as a man half his age, spins around the lunge and rolls Avalon up…
It’s a much deeper two count than anything that should happen to Coral Avalon in a match this early.
Nick Stuart: Avalon almost got caught there. And he’s getting up holding his torso and sides.
Richard Parker: He does too much! I mean, Japan, a wrestling school, wrestling here, and whatever other things he has going on in that head of his, which has to be a lot given the size…
Coral indeed is holding his midsection, gingerly rising and turning only to see Tsonda catch him with an inside cradle…
But the former Five Star Champion kicks out again. He’s still ginger upon getting up, but he’s wise to the former Universal Champion’s game. As Tsonda reaches in, Coral blocks whatever move it is he’s trying to wrangle him in, winds his head up, and…
Nick Stuart: OH MY GOD! Did you see that headbutt from Coral Avalon!?
Richard Parker: I’m calling the Baltimore Police. That’s assault with a deadly weapon.
Coral shakes off the cobwebs of his own recoil before moving in to follow up on his initial assault. Tsonda is freaking out because of damage to his moneymaker, but he has no time to take respite as Coral charges in with a huge European uppercut. Tsonda recoils back, but Avalon almost instinctively charges in with another, and then a third. Tsonda falls to the mat, which gives Avalon the opening to lock in a bulldog choke.
Nick Stuart: Coral Avalon grounding Chandler Tsonda. Smart to keep the faster man on his back and belly.
Richard Parker: Would you say that Coral is really… using his noggin here? Enh! Enh!
Nick Stuart: Honestly, Richard, I’m shocked that of the two of us, I’M the one who’s gotten physically accosted by a wrestler so far and not you.
Coral cranks back, causing Chandler to wriggle and struggle to find some kind of break, a counter or at least respite in the ropes. HIs lanky leg reaches the bottom rope, causing Ashley Barlow to call for the break. Coral lets go immediately and then waits for Chandler to get his wits about him. He lines up his shot and…
Nick Stuart: Knee to the head! Coral Avalon is making sure Chandler Tsonda doesn’t get his wits about him here so he can’t fly around the ring.
Richard Parker: For his sake, I hope Tsonda does get a comeback going. Can’t let this success get to Coral’s… head.
Nick Stuart: For the love of God, Richard.
Richard Parker: Hoyt, Nick. For the love of Hoyt.
Avalon follows up his knee trembler with a triangle choke. Tsonda flails to escape, but Avalon wrenches harder. With one last push, Tsonda gets his leg onto the rope. Avalon breaks again, this time with visible frustration. He beckons for the Model Citizen to get up, waiting until he staggers to his feet…
Nick Stuart: Rhongomyniad… NO! Avalon missed and he’s got his leg tangled up in the top rope!
Richard Parker: And just as Coral Avalon was getting a… head of steam.
Nick Stuart: *groans*
Tsonda follows up immediately with a lungblower and pops to his feet as Coral rolls in the canvas already clutching his midsection. The former Universal Champion wastes no time, bounding the ropes, springboarding, turning 180 degrees, and landing a leg drop right across Avalon’s gut. As the Crownless King curls up at the belly, Tsonda leaps around and wrangles him up with a jackknife pin…
Avalon kicks out barely, holding his ribs and writhing on the canvas. Tsonda pops up and rotates his fingers around an invisible axis. He hops up on the second rope, waiting for Avalon to stagger to his feet. Coral turns around and…
Nick Stuart: OH MY! Chandler Tsonda with the leg lariat off the second rope!
Richard Parker: Wait a second, if Tsonda is in the ring, who’s that out in the crowd?
Unbeknownst to either Tsonda or Avalon in the ring, Doppeltsonda is making his way through the crowd. Chandler follows up his big move off the ropes by dragging Avalon to his feet and whipping him off the ropes. Tsonda charges back off the opposite rope and on the rebound stops Avalon dead in his tracks with another leg lariat. He follows up with a cover…
Coral kicks out, again gasping for air. Tsonda slams the mat, thinking of how he can soften up Avalon’s midsection and keep him from kicking out due to radiating pain in his back, ribs, and abs. He drags the King to his feet and whips him into the corner before signaling to the crowd.
Nick Stuart: Tsonda setting up for the Runway Vault. I think he smells blood in the water.
Richard Parker: Well, as long as he doesn’t notice Doppeltsonda like that poor woman whose popcorn he just stole.
As Doppeltsonda chews LOUDLY on the popcorn, the genuine article hits the Runway Vault before popping back up to the top rope to go for the Model Citizen moonsault. However, as soon as he reaches the top, he notices him.
Nick Stuart: Uh oh, I think Tsonda just saw who was in the crowd.
Doppeltsonda stands up and hops the guard barrier. Security does not stop him because he technically is allowed to be there. Taking advantage of his diplomatic immunity, the fake Model Citizen moseys on over to the timekeeper’s table. The time spent eye-fighting his former hired ward gives Coral enough recovery that hits the top rope with the Rhongomyniad, causing Tsonda to topple to the canvas.
Nick Stuart: You can’t give a ring general like Coral Avalon that much time to recover, Richard.
Richard Parker: Especially not with all that computing power in his brain. Due to the large head.
Nick Stuart: The horse died five minutes ago, Rich. Now you’re in danger of turning him into dust.
Richard Parker: Don’t joke about that. My cousin got hooked on horse dust once.
Nick Stuart: What I… You know what, I don’t even wanna know.
The King alternates between wincing at his gut and steel focus at putting Tsonda away. He picks up a still reeling Tsonda and whips him off the ropes. On the rebound, he rotates the Model Citizen using his own momentum, and crashes him onto his knee with a sickening thud.
Nick Stuart: Tilt-a-whirl backbreaker! Avalon going back to his bread and butter.
Richard Parker: God, I wish I had some bread and butter right now. Bobby Dean got to me before I…
Nick Stuart: How did that happen? You’re not even wearing the shock collar this time!
Richard Parker: I… I don’t know.
Rather than going for a pin, Coral drops a couple of standing knees on Chand’s gut and then picks him up and throws him into the corner, face first. Coral gives the “touch em all” signal with his right hand before locking his arms around Tsonda’s waist. German suplex with a bridge.
But Tsonda kicks out quickly after two, as Coral’s bridge isn’t as strong thanks to the punishment Chand has put on his midsection so far. Coral gets up gingerly, carried by the momentum of his adrenaline, and gets back to work with an ankle lock.
Nick Stuart: Coral Avalon going to work on that ankle now. My guess is he’s trying to take away that Model Citizen moonsault.
Richard Parker: I would make a crack about brainpower or whatever, but I’m afraid after that zap.
Rather than reach for the ropes. Tsonda positions his body and in a sudden motion torques around, whipping Avalon over his head. Avalon goes flying, but has his wits about him enough to tumble forward and pop to his feet. He sees Tsonda charging towards him with a spinning heel kick, but…
Nick Stuart: Avalon caught him! He caught the Model Citizen! INVERTED CRADLE SUPLEX!
Richard Parker: Okay, I can’t even think of a snide comment about his bulbous head there, that was a snazzy counter.
Avalon gets up and picks up Tsonda, positioning his head underneath the Citizen’s chest. With a snap, he drives the former Champ down on his head.
Nick Stuart: CAMELOT’S TURNTABLE! Coral Avalon is looking to finish this match!
Richard Parker: Good, maybe he’ll be able to rest that massive head on his shoulders after having it upright all this time.
Nick Stuart: You know Rich, that one was just lazy.
Richard Parker: I am shame.
Avalon ascends to the top. It’s Carnwennan time as he leaps aiming the bottoms of his boots to Tsonda’s chest area.
Except the Model Citizen has enough juice left to roll out of the way, causing the Crownless King to stamp the mat, using his momentum to roll forward and defuse the impact on his knees. As Avalon gets up…
Nick Stuart: John Woo! Shotgun dropkick from Tsonda! Coral reeling into the corner!
Richard Parker: Why do they call it the John Woo anyway?
Nick Stuart: Do you know who John Woo is?
Richard Parker: Uh, does he wrestle for Bang!?
Tsonda positions Avalon on the turnbuckle facing the crowd and locks both arms behind him. He flips back…
Nick Stuart: GUERILLA PLEX ‘69!
Richard Parker: Nice.
Rather than go for the pin, Tsonda spies Avalon in the middle of the ring and makes his move.
Nick Stuart: Breathtaker! Chandler Tsonda is going to try to gas out the former Five Star Champion!
Richard Parker: I’m just impressed he can lock it in and get those arms around that giant head!
Nick Stuart: What am I going to do with you?
Tsonda has the hold locked in with the hooks in the middle of the ring, but as soon as he gets the hold cinched in, his doppelganger hops from the timekeeper’s table and starts pounding on the apron. Before Barlow can check Coral for consciousness the first time, Chandler breaks the hold.
Richard Parker: What’s Tsonda doing!?!?! He had that hold in the middle of the ring!
Nick Stuart: Richard, I think it has something to do with the guy harassing him on the outside of the ring?
Richard Parker: Need I remind you who brought him here in the first place?
Tsonda heads over to where Doppeltsonda is on the outside. The stunt double throws up his arms in faux-surrender, pretending like he’s done nothing wrong while the Model Citizen yells at Barlow to have him ejected. In the fracas, Coral has caught his breath and is sizing up Chandler from behind. He leaps in.
Nick Stuart: Roll-up! Coral Avalon has caught Chandler Tsonda napping again!
Tsonda kicks out and jumps to his feet. He charges in at Avalon wildly, but the King dips behind him and attempts another German suplex. Tsonda lands on his feet and jumps on Avalon’s back. Victory Roll!
But Avalon reverses it!
Tsonda kicks out and gets to his feet, sweeping out Avalon’s heel behind him before he can get up, then tries another jackknife…
Avalon, with all the rest of his core strength, tries to push up out of it to attempt the twist into a backslide, but he falters, collapsing to the mat. Tsonda takes the opportunity to hook in the mouse trap…
DING DING DING!
Vince Howard: Your winner, by pinfall, Chandler… TSOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNDAAAAAAAAAA!
Nick Stuart: HUGE win for Chandler Tsonda here. The former Universal Champion from the ReVolution era might finally be getting back on track.
Richard Parker: I think Coral just had too big of a head tonight.
Nick Stuart: You know what, Rich I… hey wait a second, Doppeltsonda is getting in the ring?!
The stunt double tries to climb through the ropes, but a spent Tsonda uses the last of his energy to lunge at him. It’s enough to get the double off the apron but he stands there defiantly. Tsonda says to himself, “ah fuck it,” and charges after his double on fumes. Doppeltsonda turns tail and escapes through the crowd.
Nick Stuart: So strange! What could this doppelganger want from Chandler Tsonda?
Richard Parker: I don’t know, but either way, Tsonda was able to overcome it.
As Doppeltsonda runs off, the real one turns back around at Coral Avalon, now to his feet and still holding his side. He offers a hand to Coral, who waits a beat before accepting it. As the crowd “RAAAHH”s its approval at the handshake, the scene cuts to a commercial.
COMMERCIAL: ULTRAVIOLENCE 2023
Revival is back on the air inside the Baltimore Arena atrium where, of course, the LOVE CONVOY has set up shop. The hot tub is blown up, full of water but only one random is inside it. This also might be due to the fact Revival is in the middle of its show and there aren’t a lot of fans nearby – they’re all spread throughout the concourse or in their seats. Additionally, only Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy and Jonathan-Christopher Hall idly stand beside the hot tub, CONVOY pamphlets in hand. On the front of each pretty pink© folded sheet of paper reads “ARE YOU THE LUCKY ONE?”, likely referring to Vickie’s speech two weeks ago where she explained TCG’s retirement as an active wrestler and how the LOVE CONVOY was actively trying to recruit a new lucky member.
But if a tumbleweed could roll by the screen right now, it most certainly would.
The usually upbeat Tristan-Crispin looks concerned as he glances over to his cousin, Jonathan-Christopher.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Ready for your big match?
The Nuzzle Lord says this while trying to change his concerned glance to an upbeat demeanor. Meanwhile Jonathan-Christopher nods.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: I think so.
At first, this is all JCH intends to say but then he looks down at the massive stack of leaflets in his hand, realizing he hasn’t offered one to… well, anybody. He tightens his grip.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: Recently I’ve felt something different inside me… I’m not so sure what it is.
Finally, Tristan-Crispin starts to lighten up.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: You mean happiness? Excitement!?
By the look on Jonathan-Christopher’s face, and how he’s nearly mangling the pamphlets in his hand, that’s definitely NOT the feeling. Nevertheless, Tristan-Crispin has fallen down his own nuzzle hole.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Cousin, I feel these emotions almost every minute. I feel…
Gladhappy stops to nestle his chin and jaw into the upper portions of his neck, giving himself a really solid nuzzle on live TV.
For a second there, it looks like Jonathan-Christopher wants to roll his eyes but instead he takes a deep breath, looks around the empty atrium and the one obese guy in the hot tub… and concludes he doesn’t want anything to do with this place. He turns toward his cousin.
Jonathan-Christopher Hall: My match is coming up soon. We should go back to our locker room and speak to Vickie.
It’s almost trance-like, the nuzzle that Gladhappy is giving himself. It’s only until Hall slaps his cousin on the chest where TC IMMEDIATELY bounces back from whatever the fuck he calls this shit and eyes Jonathan-Christopher.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Yes, we have to! Exactly what you said!
Gladhappy raises an eyebrow.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Ummm what did you say?
It doesn’t matter as Jonathan-Christopher begins walking out of the atrium, leading the way towards an exit door, bringing them down into the backstage area. Tristan-Crispin is feeling more chipper, prancing behind while trying to catch up.
Eventually, Hall and Gladhappy arrive at a locker room door titled ‘LOVE CONVOY’. Gladhappy pauses to take a step back for reflection.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: It’s amazing we have our own space from the majority of the roster.
He scratches his head.
Tristan-Crsipin Gladhappy: Say, have you seen Darin Zion recently?
Jonathan-Christopher simply shrugs in reply. He then proceeds to push the door back…
…Revealing the entire locker room, from floor to ceiling and then ON the ceiling too, has been covered with numerous pictures, posters and memorabilia relating to one man.
There are mugshots of his roster image from prime-wrestling.com. However, across the majority of these photos Nate’s eyes are X’ed out by angry, intense looking scribbles. There are live action captures of Nate performing various maneuvers inside the ring but most of the pictures are also vandalized. Either a devil’s tail sticks out from Colton’s behind or he has devil evils. In some photos he’s vomiting little tiny ALP hearts. There might even be a picture where he’s conveyed to have a smaller manhood than normal but the camera pans so fast you’d need to rewind in order to make sure. There’s a homemade voodoo doll of Nate Colton in the corner with pins sticking out of it. There’s a 4-foot Nate Colton cardboard cutout, likely used for past PRIME promotional material but it has a massive knife jammed into the side of its head and pretty pink© lines of blood spewing out. Additionally, there are banners hanging from different locations, written in what looks to be actual blood?
“DIE NATE DIE!”
“NO CONVOY 4 U”
Jonathan-Christopher and Tristan-Crispin are mesmerized by the locker room, completely covered from head-to-toe, as JCH now realizes there are pictures stuck TO the ground, too.
The boys eventually look over to the corner of the room and see Vickie sitting there, cell phone in hand. She looks up from her phone, giggles with delight, as if she can’t grasp why JCH and TCG are stunned.
Vickie Hall: Enjoy what I’ve done to the place?
Hall and Gladhappy don’t know how to respond even if they want to.
Otherwise, Vickie looks into her cell phone, replying with a loud cackle. It takes her a moment but she brings her attention back to her crew.
Vickie Hall: I can’t get enough of this Savannah Scandal shit. Haha, Savannah Scandal Shit. Ooh my god, absolutely love that. S3.
Vickie pauses to collect her initial thoughts.
Vickie Hall: Did you know that Luchador guy had sex with Paxton Ray’s ex-wife in the very next room beside him while he was eliciting illegal drugs to Jared Sykes and then Luchador Guy murdered Paxton’s ex in cold blood and Ray doesn’t even know about it?
The game Telephone is obviously something Vickie’s never played.
Or it’s exact living proof the game Telephone represents reality. Anyway, she continues.
Vickie Hall: I hope Savannah Scandal finds shit out on Nate Colton, too. I have really grown not to like him after our recent interactions.
Tristan-Crispin continues to scan his eyes around the room with a “ya think?” facial expression in response.
Vickie Hall: How is the LOVE CONVOY mission going, boys? We need to find a good, new member since you’re taking a step back TC…
It almost pains Vickie to get this next part out of her mouth so she says it quietly.
Vickie Hall: …and Darin Zion sucks.
Back on track she goes with her big girl voice as she quickly switches her train of thought.
Vickie Hall: No, nevermind. We can consider vetting a new member later. Jonathan-Christopher, you have a very important match tonight, (tilts her head to gaze right at him) no?
JCH agrees. He doesn’t seem as eager to please as one would typically witness. Instead, he looks much more focused than normal.
Vickie Hall: Well I will leave the locker room so you can change, Jonathan-Christopher.
She glances over to Gladhappy as she strolls her way out.
Vickie Halls: There’s a time and a place to view each other’s naked bodies but now is not that time.
And as quickly as she makes this rather off-putting and inappropriate comment to TCG, Vickie is RIGHT back into her phone, flipping through Savannah Scandal on twitter, laughing her head off.
Vickie Hall: OH. MY. GOD. Fucking love this chick!
Vickie exits as Jonathan-Christopher looks embarrassingly at his cousin.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: I’m going to leave, too.
Gladhappy walks over to Hall and pats him on the shoulder.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: Goodluck out there tonight.
He goes to exit the locker room, but stops upon looking at another twisted image of Nate Colton. This one is Colton performing his cobra clutch suplex but his legs have been “edited” aka severed and “The Next Diamond” print on the initial poster is crossed off to say “The Next Dumbass”, as if whomever did this thought a troll like that would be funny.
Gladhappy stops, chuckles, and looks back at his cousin.
Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy: By the way ‘cous, thanks for beating Rocky de Leon for me. (Laughs) Guess that’s why I’m stepping back as a wrestler. But you, you’ve got promise. Kick ass out there. Love ya!
Gladhappy nuzzles himself to ruin the potential heart-felt moment and then exits.
Jonathan-Christopher finds his belongings in a backpack and Revival goes elsewhere.
We immediately see Paxton Ray hunched over with someone. As the camera comes in closer, we see that the person is Doug, the PRIME backstage worker who put a shock collar on Richard Parker last week.
Richard Parker: What the hell is that monster doing back there?
Nick Stuart: Paxton Ray appears to be looking at something.
Richard Parker: Not him, the other monster!
Paxton looks over his shoulder and snarls at the camera.
Doug: Crud, it’s a camera.
Paxton Ray: Ya mind?
The cameraman doesn’t say anything, but he also doesn’t move the camera. After a moment Paxton turns to Doug.
Paxton Ray: Just take it somewhere else. Keep it away from pryin’ eyes.
Doug: Can do!
Doug gives a double thumbs up, then walks off with a package under his arm. Paxton looks at the camera again. Before he can send any threats, though, he is interrupted by several people walking up.
First is Foster Nackedy, sporting his Disco-ball concussion helmet. Behind him are three younger men, men who have never been on PRIME cameras before. The taller one with his hair fashioned into devil horns, appropriately named Satan Jones, has never been seen by any wrestling cameras before, but wrestling superfans who enjoy Lucha Especial and programs like The Madhouse will recognize El Cocodrilo and Quinn Fleetwood.
Whether or not the crowd recognizes them is unclear, but they do boo anyway, likely because Foster looks like such a prick in that helmet.
Foster Nackedy: What was that about?
Paxton looks back at the camera.
Paxton Ray: I’ll tell ya later.
Quinn Fleetwood: You can tell us now. It’s so sweet you’ve got a boyfriend, Pax.
Paxton looks from the short teenager to Foster.
Paxton Ray: Tell me why ya thought bringin’ the Travelin’ Douchecircus was a good idea.
Quinn Fleetwood: I got a big top for you right here.
We don’t need to tell you where Quinn grabbed when he said that.
Foster holds a hand up to Quinn, which symbolically means “stop,” or “Why is everything you say so sexual?”
Foster Nackedy: Simple. Remember that the winner of the tournament gets a wrestling contract. I want to show my students what the wrestling experience is like. Backstage, eating catering, trading insults with people, the full package.
Paxton Ray: Satan already lost, though. Why’s he here?
Satan Jones: Gonna steal Anna Daniels’ shoes.
Everyone looks at Satan.
Satan Jones: I’m a feet guy.
Foster Nackedy: Anyway. Let’s talk about what’s happening later. We…
We don’t get to hear about what’s happening later, because at that very moment the group is approached by a woman. We’ve already seen her tonight, but we really wish we hadn’t.
Savannah Scandal: Oh my. I didn’t think this was the way to catering, but here I am with all these fresh cuts of meat.
Yes, it’s Savannah goddamn Scandal again. She strides toward the group, putting a little extra wiggle in her hips as she approaches. Foster’s posture stiffens, as he knows enough about her to immediately be on the defensive. Quinn’s posture changes too, but in a different way.
Quinn Fleetwood: Holy shit you’re a hottie.
El Cocodrilo puts a hand on Quinn’s chest and moves him backward, silently admonishing him. Foster rolls his eyes.
Foster Nackedy: Ignore the boy, he’s young and stupid. What can we help you with, Ms. Scandal?
Savannah puts on her best seductive smile and flashes it at Quinn, before addressing Foster. She doesn’t look at him, though. She’s still looking at the youngest Fleetwood.
Savannah Scandal: I’m just here to dig around for the truth inside PRIME. Unlike a lot of so-called journalists, I’m not afraid to get a little dirty…in fact, there’s nothing I love more.
A wink. Quinn looks like he’s about to either faint, or…y’know what, better not talk about that on television.
Savannah Scandal: So…why did you bring this cadre of young studs with you tonight. Not complaining, just curious.
Foster and Paxton look at each other, and then the camera. Paxton scratches the back of his head as Foster opens his mouth to give some answer, but he never gets the chance.
Quinn Fleetwood frees himself from his El Cocodrilo problem and steps forward, grabbing Savannah’s hand.
Quinn Fleetwood: They’re my entourage. Hello, my angel. My name is Quinn Fleetwood, and I am the newest wrestler in PRIME. They signed me to an unprecedented contract, yes ma’am. Lindsay Troy backed the Brinks truck up just to have me.
Paxton shakes his head as Foster grins.
Quinn Fleetwood: And let me tell you something, if I had known that PRIME wrestlers had the pleasure of meeting such beautiful Hottie McStacks like yourself, I wouldn’t have started a bidding war between PRIME and SHOOT. I would’ve taken less money, even ten thousand dollars less, to be in a room with you.
Foster steps in, chuckling.
Foster Nackedy: All right, that’s enough. I don’t have to tell you that everything he said was varying degrees of bullshit, but unfortunately for you it’s the only answer you’re going to get. We’re here, we’re having a good time, and that’s where it ends. Thanks for stopping by!
Savannah Scandal: Oh, don’t poop the party. I haven’t even asked about the other kid’s foot thing yet.
Once again everyone turns to the young man with his hair fashioned into devil horns.
Satan Jones: Ask away. I’m an open book.
Foster Nackedy: If the book is titled “Foot Stuff,” maybe you should close that book a bit.
Foster puts his arm around Satan and turns to Savannah.
Foster Nackedy: It was lovely seeing you, Ms. Scandal, and I do hope you’ll continue to call my gym every day for information, because I sure do love having to screen those calls. Me and my students are going to talk about boundaries somewhere else.
Foster walks, and El Cocodrilo, Satan Jones, and Quinn Fleetwood all follow – but not before Quinn Fleetwood turns and blows a kiss at Savannah.
Then they are gone, leaving Savannah Scandal looking at The Bayou Butcher.
Paxton Ray: Uh…sup.
Savannah Scandal: Hello, Paxton. When was–
The rumor monger cuts herself off. As she previously said, she doesn’t mind getting dirty in pursuit of content.
Getting bloody is an entirely different matter.
Savannah Scandal: I think I smell a story brewing, somewhere…else. Bye, honeybear!
Scandal lightly brushes past the Bayou Butcher as she goes off in search of more lives to ruin.
After a moment, Doug walks back up.
Doug: All done.
Paxton Ray: Thanks pal.
Doug looks past Paxton and frowns.
Doug: Is that Savannah Scandal?
Paxton Ray: In the flesh.
The backstage assistant nods.
We go elsewhere.
COMING UP EMPTY
Backstage! Where a certain person who shouldn’t be here (generally) is trying to access someplace she really shouldn’t be (specifically.)
That person is, yet again, Savannah Scandal–wrestling “journalist,” rumor monger, and generally the goddamn worst–and that place is the mens’ locker room, because of course it is.
She’s got her ear pressed to the door, and is slowly pushing it open. She turns her head in order to peek through the crack, hoping to catch one of PRIME’s wrestlers walking around in a towel…or out of one.
Instead she gets an eyeful of a tall…handsome…and above all, annoyed Indiana native.
Nate Colton: Can I help you?
Savannah quickly straightens up and steps back. Nate Colton takes this opening to exit the locker room and stand in front of the door, blocking Savannah’s path.
Savannah Scandal: Yes, you can open the door. My readers need to know how Hayes Hanlon manscapes. I think he’s got another mustache, right over his Event Horizon. You’ve been in the showers with him, I bet. Can you confirm?
Nate Colton: I don’t look.
Savannah Scandal: Oh, poo.
She fake-pouts for a moment, before looking up at the Next Diamond with a playful smile.
Savannah Scandal: I guess I’ll just have to talk to you, then.
Oh, no. Looks like you didn’t think this one all the way through, Nate. He scowls, and Savannah can sense his hesitation.
Savannah Scandal: Don’t be like that, sugar pants. I’m sure my fans would love to know what you’ve been up to.
Nate Colton: I don’t give a–
He suddenly clamps down on his tongue. Maybe he’s succumbing to Savannah’s charms.
Nate Colton: You know what? Fine. Whatever keeps you from harassing everyone else.
Savannah Scandal: Loooooove it. So…who do you usually hook up with on the PRIME tour? Justine Calvin? Ashley Barlow? Enemigo XIV?
Nate Colton: I don’t date coworkers.
Savannah Scandal: Never said anything about dating, sweet cheeks.
Nate Colton: I don’t do that with coworkers either.
Savannah Scandal: You’re no fun. What if we talk about your dancer-slash-lover?
Nate Colton: What if we talked about wrestling instead of my private life?
Savannah Scandal: Booooooooooooooring. C’mon, you and Skye are SO cute together. How do you make it work when you’re both on the road?
Nate Colton: No comment.
Savannah Scandal: What’s the hottest nude she’s sent you? Or that you’ve sent her?
Nate Colton: No. Comment.
Savannah gives the Next Diamond a reproachful glare…but this quickly turns into a wicked smirk. She leans closer, and even stands on her tiptoes so she can half-whisper her words into Colton’s ear.
Savannah Scandal: C’mon, cutie. You gotta give me something here. My readers have insatiable appetites, and if you show them what you’ve got, I just know they’ll eat it right up.
She traces a finger across Nate’s right bicep, and he jerks his arm away from her.
Nate Colton: I’m not talking about my relationship on live television, Savannah.
Savannah Scandal: That’s too bad. But if you won’t talk about Skye Reeves, maybe you’ll talk about someone else? Maybe someone named J–
Colton’s eyes go wide, and he levels an irate glare at the tabloid reporter. He doesn’t even waste time saying “you wouldn’t dare,” because of course she would. She would 1000% dare.
Nate Colton: That’s not–
Suddenly remembering the presence of the camera, he turns around and mutters something to Scandal. We can’t be sure, but it sounds very much like “that’s not part of the deal.”
Savannah Scandal: It’s one or the other.
Nate Colton: Damn you.
Colton turns around, looking just about every kind of unhappy. Which of course only makes Savannah smile more.
Savannah Scandal: I know how scary the first time can be, sweetheart. So we’ll start off nice and gentle. Just give me a good…straight…answer. Okay?
Nate Colton: Let’s get this over with.
Savannah Scandal: That’s the spirit. So, you and Skye…how long has it been since you two shacked up?
Nate Colton: It–
He clams up again, but worry is starting to show on his face. It’s clear that he’s putting a lot of energy into self-restraint, and might not be able to hold out much longer.
Of course, Savannah notices this. She sees the crack in his resolve.
Time to bust it wide open.
Savannah Scandal: I’m sure you two can’t keep your hands off each other. She’s so beautiful…so flexible…
Nate inhales sharply, and holds his breath. A sense of danger creeps in…but with that feeling comes an idea.
This isn’t far off from what he feels in the ring sometimes, when the situation is dire and hope is lost. That’s when Nate, like many wrestlers, would tap into their inner reserve; that in-case-of-emergency boost that would allow them to turn the tide or pull off a miracle. A moment of strength, when his strength had long since run out. That’s what he needed right now.
But of course, Savannah won’t make it easy. Just as Nate steels himself for another hardball…she throws him a curve.
Savannah Scandal: Too forward? Okay. How about…when was the last time the two of you talked?
Colton reels a little; the question is better, but the answer is so, so much worse. He needs that strength right now.
So, like so many other times in his career, he reaches down deep within himself.
Nate Colton: …
And comes up empty.
Nate Colton: …about a month.
Scandal raises her eyebrows, but says nothing. Instead, she counts on Colton to fill the uncomfortable silence.
Nate Colton: She…left. Right when her tour started. And it’s…I mean, she should follow her dreams. I want her to be happy. It’s just…
He barely chokes out the last few words before trailing off, and letting out the breath he’d been holding. It sounds like defeat, more crushing than any he’d ever felt in the ring.
Nate Colton: …I don’t want to talk about it anymore.
Without another word, Nate opens the door of the locker room and retreats. Once the door is closed, Savannah claps her hands in delight.
Savannah Scandal: Thank you for my next article, Nate.
It is now time for our next match of the evening, let’s head ringside!
ANNA DANIELS VS. JARED SYKES
Nick Stuart: We have a good one coming up. Jared Sykes against Anna Daniels.
Richard Parker: I’m not so sure about this being “a good one”.
Nick Stuart: Well thankfully nobody cares about your opinion. Let’s go to ringside for the match. Also, when do you hate good wrestling?
The scene switches to ringside and Vince Howard in the center of it.
Vince Howard: This match is for ONE FALL!
The crowd loves to receive information deemed obvious, so they cheer nonetheless!
Vince Howard: Introducing first… from Mount Perdition, Gallifrey… weighing one-hundred-thirty-five pounds… she is THE MUSE… ANNA DANIELS!
The entire area fades to black, causing the PRIMEates in attendance to steadily come to a hush.
Richard Parker: You know, I’ve never been to Mount Perdition myself.
Nick Stuart: Great.
After a moment, the beginning guitar notes of Solid Space’s “A Darkness In My Soul” air. Nothing comes on the PRIME*view to note exactly who is coming out. Suddenly, a spotlight pierces through the dark pointed to the top on the entrance ramp. Anna Daniels stands there, her profile positioned towards the light. She lets it wash over her while allowing the fans to get a good look at the merchandise. Finally, she glances at the ring with a small smirk on her face.
Richard Parker: These entrances bore me.
Nick Stuart: Then don’t watch.
Richard Parker: Jared Sykes’ will be worse, though. I have no doubt.
As The Muse takes her time heading to the ring, she wistfully observes the goings on around her as if getting into a certain type of groove that only she can hear.
Richard Parker: Anna better start focusing on the match at hand, or it won’t last long. And that’s NOT me giving credit to Jared. Just a fact.
Anna’s strolling sways almost like she’s dancing from time to time. Her robe and headpiece–once more regal and dazzling artifacts from her homeplanet–are in various stages of disrepair and utter damage. Anna slaps a hand or two, nods a little to those in attendance. Once ringside, she motions for somebody to take the robe and headpiece.
She makes her way to the stairs and slinks along the apron, wiping her feet before entering the ring. Casually, she strolls to a corner with her head bopping before perching herself onto the top rope laid out in a pose.
Richard Parker: Thank god that’s over with.
The lights fade to nothing and then the first note hits. Deep, resonant, and with it comes a flood of white light that washes over the crowd. As the sound fades, so does the light.
I’ll never be ready to meet a memory
Vince Howard: Her opponent…
A steady rhythm follows, building to something. With each note comes a pulse of white, like a heartbeat slightly out of time.
Vince Howard: From Boston, Massachusetts…
The only thing louder than the thundering guitar coming through the speakers is the explosion of the crowd.
Vince Howard: Accompanied by Justine Calvin and weighing at two-hundred-one pound…
The guitar rips into frenetic tapping riff, and with it blue and purple lights begin pulsing over the crowd in time with the beat. Two figures appear at the entryway, and the cheering gets louder.
Vince Howard: JAREEEEEEEEEEEEEEED SYYYYYYYYKES!!!
When the dirt crushes my bones
And the worms call me their home
If I’m asked to start again
I can’t pretend I’m ready
I can’t pretend
I’ve had plenty
The pair make their way to the ring before Jared slides in under the bottom rope. He throws his hood back, tosses his sweatshirt over the rope to the floor and waits for the bell.
The crowd readies for a good, honorable match to be had between both of them as Sykes and Daniels nod in their respective corners, pumping themselves up.
Richard Parker: Let’s get this over and done with. I could also go without Justine Calvin’s interference this time.
Nick Stuart: When has Justine ever involved herself in Jared, or anyone else’s match for that matter when she wasn’t a participant?
Richard Parker: I’m sure I can think of one example.
The broadcast goes quiet as the bell sounds and the match is on!
Sykes walks to the center of the ring and extends his hand. Anna nods and slaps it, as the two circle and then work into a grapple.
Nick Stuart: Well? I’m waiting.
Richard Parker: Waiting for what? They’re already locked into a grapple Nick, jeesh!
Stuart simply sighs as Daniels works Sykes into an arm bar but then Sykes lowers his base, only to flip up and out of the arm bar and bounce into the ropes. Daniels leaps and looks for a knee but Jared ducks the knee, finds the ropes across the other side and upon return Sykes shoots forward for a pele kick. But this time it’s Anna who crashes to the mat without being hit and Sykes collects air. Daniels pops up from behind Sykes, connecting with a quick flash suplex.
Both wrestlers are on their feet and Daniels charges Sykes again. This time it’s Sykes with a fluid slide around Anna’s arm bar, flipping her into the air and then trying for a cutter when Daniels leans back and hooks her arms against the ropes instead. Sykes lands on the mat with nothing to show for!
The crowd cheers as Jared gets to his feet and the two begin to circle again. On the outside, Justine watches intently.
Richard Parker: Someone KILL someone already!
Nick Suart: Not happening.
There’s no grapple this time, however, as Anna is throwing jabs forward and shuffling with her feet as she does. However, Sykes is nimble on his feet so he dodges rather easily but he can’t get in close because Daniels has no quit in her game.
Richard Parker: You’d think she’d let her guard down soon enough. That form is terrible.
Nick Stuart: Says the guy who sits at the announcer’s table.
Finally, Daniels goes for a roundhouse kick but that’s the opening Jared needs. He slides underneath the boot and hooks onto Daniels’ waist.
Anna sucked him in! She takes Jared and crushes him under the jaw with one of those jabs, then she leaps up and connects with a hurricanrana. And even though both wrestlers are soon on their feet, Daniels connects with a tiger suplex!
The crowd cheers as The Muse shows she’s ready to go. She flips Sykes onto his feet and delivers a reverse suplex, planting Jared Sykes on the mat face and chest first!
Nick Stuart: Anna wasn’t able to hold on for ANOTHER tiger suplex but she definitely hit one of them and Jared is a little loopy.
The Dragonslayer is trying to find the ropes but instead Anna jumps over to them, on them and then punt kicks Sykes under the chin!
Sykes falls back and hits the mat. Daniels runs into the ropes and performs a beautiful looking lionsault and cover.
Daniels peels Sykes off the mat and connects with a falcon arrow suplex. She looks to make the cover but thinks otherwise as she pops to her feet-
And is met with an out-of-nowhere backdrop by Jared Sykes!
Nick Stuart: Jared can never be kept down for long.
Sykes hits the ropes and looks for a springboard missile dropkick, catching Daniels right between the eyes. However, The Time Lord isn’t on the mat. She is on ice skates waiting to be put out of her misery. Sykes hits the ropes, leaps off-
And he’s caught!
In one fluid motion, Anna Daniels catches Jared Sykes and ends up connecting with a brilliantly performed suplex!
Daniels is on her feet and into the ropes. She hops over Sykes who’s trying to get up and proceeds to the next set of ropes. She returns to find that, yes, Jared IS on his feet too. He connects with a hip toss.
But Anna lands on her feet!
The crowd gives a cheer as both wrestlers stand there in the center of the ring.
Daniels looks for a boxer jab but Jared moves out of the way. Sykes catches Anna’s arm and spins her around, into an elevated DDT!
Sykes holds on and hits a snap suplex.
He holds on again and connects with a sliding elbow strike.
Now looking to be firmly in control of this one, Jared lands a Regal cutter and proceeds to hook a leg.
Nick Stuart: Not sure Jared thought he’d get the W there but he’s going to tire Anna out by making that pin, anyway.
Sykes Irish whips Daniels into a corner and charges in after her. When Anna meets the buckle chest-first she immediately pushes her hands up on the top pad, ejecting herself forward, so Jared meets nothing but air when he gets there. Suddenly, Daniels is behind Sykes and looks for a suplex…
But Sykes RUNS up the turnbuckle padding, leaps off and then HE lands behind Anna!
Daniels shakes her head. She throws a roaring back elbow but it meets nothing because Jared dodges easily. All of a sudden The Muse laughs frantically and she leaps onto the top rope and then jumps off, landing right behind Jared.
Richard Parker: This is musical chairs. I HATE that game.
Now behind Sykes, Daniels hooks her arms around him and performs a release German suplex!
Jared Sykes FLIES halfway across the ring and lands in a heap on his crown.
Daniels stops for a moment and pretends to strike a “1” on the board.
Nick Stuart: Chalk up the W for Anna.
Justine Calvin looks concerned on the outside as inside the squared circle, Anna Daniels races towards Sykes but he’s ready with his feet as he throws them up and Daniels crashes into them, flipping her head-over-heels in the process. She lands beside him.
With both wrestlers on the mat, Jared applies a sleeper to Anna!
Nick Stuart: That’s one way to slow this match down!
And Sykes is slowing the match down! He has a solid sleeper hold locked on Daniels. Furthermore, Anna is dead to rights in the middle of the ring… it looks like she doesn’t have anywhere to go.
Nick Stuart: A solid base by Jared, he has all of his weight on Anna’s back right now. He’s also showing he can wrestle other styles when needed, too.
Richard Parker: This match is putting me TO sleep, Nick.
Nick Stuart: So you don’t like fast paced action? Got it.
Richard Parker: No. I just don’t like either of them.
Nick Stuart: Tell me something I don’t know.
The referee Jimmy Turnbull slides into position. Jimmy takes hold of Anna’s hand and dangles it as he holds it in the air. He lets go.
Jimmy takes the hand again. This time he taps Anna’s arm before he lets it go.
He takes Daniels’ hand for the third time. Same thing. Same measure. Same time he lets go.
No it does not!
The crowd comes alive with the sound of music to Anna Daniels’ ears as she starts to buzz on the mat and move into a better position. Jared Sykes can only attempt to apply the sleeper a little stronger… but somehow, someway… Anna has rolled onto a knee. Another knee. Now she’s on a foot.
Then both feet!
She leaps up and crashes to the mat, back-first with Jared Sykes still applying the sleeper hold FROM her back.
Sykes is crushed between Daniels and the canvas. The sleeper hold is broken! However, the damage may have been done as Anna is on wobbly feet stirring around the canvas floor. She knocks herself in the side of the head, and this knock takes her all the way into the ropes. Then she knocks herself on the other side of the head and this knock takes her all the way to the OTHER side of the ropes. Then she hammers her head from both directions, stands straight up and turns to see Jared Sykes coming at her.
She leaps up and connects with a spike hurricanrana!
Daniels drops to the mat and hooks a leg.
Now it’s Jared’s turn to get the crowd fired up. He pops to his feet first and rifles a superkick towards Daniels’ head… it narrowly misses but, perhaps, that was his plan all along because he suckers her in for a kick to the stomach and then a tilt-a-whirl DDT!
Daniels is planted HARD on the mat, it’s almost an implant DDT. The Muse sticks to the canvas as Sykes shoots to his feet and into the ropes.
Nick Stuart: Domino Effect!
The crowd RAAAAHH’s as Sykes looks to have the match under control. He’s reeling a little, so it takes him a little longer than normal. He finds where Anna Daniels is on the mat and lands a straightjacket neckbreaker!
Sykes looks like he’s ready to end it when he reaches down for Daniels… and is rolled into a pin.
Sykes hops to his feet. Daniels is up soon after…
Nick Stuart: OH my!
Sykes hooks Daniels into a storm cradle driver and a pin attempt follows.
Daniels wiggles out of the pinfall, tries to stand and then falls flat on her face. Sykes rolls into the ropes and uses them to help get on his feet. He doesn’t take his eyes off Anna as he charges. She ducks a lariat from Sykes, she spins him around and looks for a cutter but Jared pushes her into the ropes. Upon return, Daniels leaps-
Leaps right into Jared Sykes grasp.
Nick Stuart: Setting her up for the Omega 13!
Anna escapes at the last second. She hits a thrust kick on Sykes, then a jab to the chest, then she takes off into the ropes-
And is caught into the potential for Jared Sykes to hit the Omega 13 again.
Tries to lift her up.
Nick Stuart: It’s over!
The crowd counts along. So does Justine Calvin on the outside.
DING DING DING
Nick Stuart: Excellent contest! Jared pulls this off in fine fashion!
Vince Howard: The winner of this match… Jared Sykes!
Justine Calvin claps on the outside as she slides into the ring to check on Jared. Meanwhile Jimmy is ready to raise his hand.
Nick Stuart: See, Rich? She didn’t interfere at all.
Richard Parker: First time for everything.
Sykes’ theme music plays as Daniels rolls into a corner and holds the side of her head. Sykes gives a nod in her direction, as his hand is finally raised, once by the referee and then one after by Justine Calvin.
Revival goes elsewhere. Like backstage. With Matt Mills and a familiar face.
SHE DOESN’T EVEN GO HERE
Matt Mills comes rushing into frame, microphone in hand.
Nick Stuart: It looks like Matt has something big going on!
Richard Parker: I’m looking forward to seeing what he screws up this time!
The camera pans to the right to show Matt’s target. Ria Lockhart, dressed in a tight tank top showing her midriff, tight leather shorts, knee high boots with a chunky heel, sunglasses and a plush looking hoodie strolls down the hallway. Matt enthusiastically approaches her.
Matt Mills: Ria! Ria! Welcome back to PRIME. I was hoping-
Before Matt can carry on further, Ria dangles her keys while barely glancing Matt’s way.
Ria Lockhart: Oh neat, a valet! Don’t scratch the paint job or I’ll do more than scratch you! Also, why weren’t you at the motor pool?!
Matt raises an eyebrow while staring at Ria.
Matt Mills: You know who I am. You know I’m not a valet.
Ria Lockhart: Then why are you dressed like that?
Matt looks down at his attire, arms spread. A white button up shirt, blue sports jacket, black slacks… Mills looks every bit the professional. He looks back up at Ria in confusion.
Matt Mills: Valets don’t dress like this!
Ria recoils, her lip curling up in disgust.
Ria Lockhart: Ew, so you willingly dressed like that?! I thought it was a uniform!
Matt hangs his head, grumbling under his breath for a moment.
Ria Lockhart: So are you gonna park my car or not?
Matt Mills: Ria, you know who I am. We worked together for almost a year. We talked I don’t know how many times!
Ria shrugs, now staring down at her phone, holding it in between her hands while tapping away with her thumbs.
Ria Lockhart: Dunno, you must have one of those forgettable faces.
Matt closes his eyes, taking in a deep breath before calmly exhaling. He takes a step forward.
Matt Mills: Anyway, you’re back in PRIME now, Ria. What are your goals? Do you have your sights set on a specific championship or wrestler?
Ria doesn’t bother looking up from her phone as she answers.
Ria Lockhart: That’s a stupid question. I want gold. I want to hear how awesome I already know I am. The world should know. I have to show them. I consider it charity; I’m giving you all the gift of me, the sweetest dessert your eyes will ever appetize on. Just remember the golden rule of the Golden Hips Goddess; look, don’t touch.
Matt’s eyes shift left and right as Ria speaks.
Matt Mills: Physical contact is a pretty big part of wrestling…
Ria finally moves her gaze up from her phone.
Ria Lockhart: That’s different. I’m talking about the normie uggos out there, not the mutants I have to share the ring with. Those trash cans get the greatest pleasure one can have… Getting to touch me. It’s not free, though. Oh Lord, it’s not free.
No, they have to pay. They’ll pay with sweat. They’ll pay with blood. They’ll pay with pain. You don’t get to share space with a goddess without sacrifice. How much are people willing to sacrifice? How much can they take? Are they really ready to do this cosmic dance? I guess we’ll see. Now then…
Ria moves in close to Mills. Very close. Personal space violated close. She sensually runs a hand up his chest before letting it come to a rest on his cheek. Matt’s eyes go wide and his breath quickens as Ria gives him a flirty grin… Before jingling the keys in front of his face again.
Ria Lockhart: Be a sweetie and go park my car.
Ria drops the keys before strutting off, leaving a flustered Matt Mills to compose himself.
We then cut to the master of the PRIMEmporium herself.
A SMALL COMMERCIAL ABOUT KILLING OWLS
Somewhere in the whimsical woods, there is a war brewing.
The malicious owl army have taken over and have started watching over everything. They scrutinize every detail and assault those that displease them and their queen. You can hear the little bastards too. Those ever-droning hoooooots. Bucky Rex Daniels sniffs at the ground, his tail wagging in enjoyment for what’s to come. He leaps into his hiding spot in the brush. The owls see him. One of them hoot menacingly and take to the air, talons outstretched and ready to attack. Who will save the people from these foul (and fowl) creatures?
Suddenly from what could only be described as “beyond the fourth wall”, a laser bullet is fired!
It hits the winged abomination dead center. His comrades are shocked!
The would-be predator falls to the ground and is snatched from the dirt by our trusty hound. The other owls are getting angry. They are sharpening their claws…
BE THE HERO IN THIS NEW RETRO EXPERIENCE!
ANNA DANIELS’ OWL HUNT.
COMING IN AUGUST.
Anna Approved Zapper included with purchase.
An absent pair of dark eyes glances at the latest Anna Daniels shenanigannery via a backstage monitor.
Possessor of said dark eyes? The Event Horizon.
He reaches back, grabbing a foot to stretch his beefy quads, alternating back and forth. The ‘stache isn’t its usual, spritely self. It’s a bit more…menacing. Like Don Frye staring down Takayama. We’re not gonna link it, go find it on YouTube.
Whether or not our young former champion is excited for this match against Jonathan-Christopher Hall is anyone’s guess, but no one can say he isn’t ready. Perhaps looking forward to someone more clean. Less messy than his experience at Tropical Turmoil. Less likely to deal with shady characters looking to spoil the fun.
Ah, nevermind. Look who’s here.
Thankfully for Hanlon, the fun arrives immediately before his match. Well, fun for The Glueminati’s Cecilworth Farthington and FLAMBERGE, who seem to be in the middle of a “polished-belt-off” when they arrive in front of the focused and frustrated Event Horizon. Hanlon looks as both FLAMBERGE and Farthington quietly bicker at WHOMST have the shiniest title before they turn their eyes towards Hanlon himself. As Hanlon sees Cecilworth open his mouth, his eyes roll towards THE GODS before a syllable is uttered.
Cecilworth Farthington: Why, look at this FLAMBERGE, my dearest friend, it’s the man I think who once implied through video vignette he was going to murder us or some such. You know what they say, life is full, full of surprises. Hello Hayes! Love the facial hair and career trajectory, keep it up big guy!
FLAMBERGE: Do not change the subject, Cecilworth, you know as well as I that the INTENSE championship belt is the more visually powerful of the two…
FLAMBERGE finally registers a certain type of thought after turning his visual attention towards Hanlon. FLAMBO blinks for a moment, and you would be forgiven for wondering if he (as the conspiracy theory suggests) might be blinking multiple sets of eyelids as de facto lizard gills, but alas, he only has the single dumb human set. And these eyelids have wiped away any coherent argument he might have made about the merits of white metals versus yellow metals and diverted them to the understanding that he never truly visually “drunk in” Hayes Hanlon before now.
Hayes Hanlon: “Murder” is kind’ve a strong word. You’re thinking of Jared and his forklift. I just intend to beat the piss out of you…
Hayes emphasizes with a rigid finger pointed at the Five Star Champion, then turns it toward FLAMBERGE.
Hayes Hanlon: …and the rest of whatever this glue bullshit is. And hey, sorry to see Tyler go. What are you guys weighing-in at, now that he’s gone? Combined weight of like, 250?
Cecilworth Farthington: Oh cool, whoever that is, it all sounds great! Anyway, good luck with the Love Shack or whatever it is. Now, more importantly, who has the shinier belt. I really think I’ve nailed the polish this week but me and my good buddy and pal FLAMBERGE need an impartial judge.
FLAMBERGE: There is the polish and there is the over-polish, in my opinion, and this man, he disagrees!
Cecilworth Farthington: Over-polish isn’t a thing, stop making up things that aren’t things just to razzle dazzle this simple mustached fella.
FLAMBERGE sarcastically raises his hands to the sides and wiggles his wrists and fingers, mouthing “razzle dazzlllllllllllle”.
Hayes lifts an eyebrow at FLAMBO and his waggling hands.
Hayes Hanlon: You’re a weird dude, you know that?
FLAMBERGE: …no, you.
The frustration brewing, Home Run Hayes turns glaring eyes back to Farthington.
Hayes Hanlon: I haven’t forgotten ReV 27, buddy. I haven’t forgotten you putting your boots to me while Bitch-Boy Best and the Lizard King here were flexing their twenty-inch chests.
FLAMBERGE looks down towards his pecs and gives a little flex-flex. It’s no Terry Crews-level flex-flex, but it’ll do to amuse the Frenchman. Very much a “there are many pecs but these pecs are mine” sort of vibe. He’s clearly not paying much mind to the jabs and goes back to looking back and forth between his and Farthington’s respective championship belts. Noticing this, Hayes points to Farthington’s Five Star strap.
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, and the Five Star is shinier.
Farthington grins, turning to FLAMBO with a “told you so” smirk.
Hayes Hanlon: But it doesn’t matter. They’re not Universal. That’s more my speed.
FLAMBO’s eyes do the “BWOM” thing that you might hear if you were inside his head Inception-style, but all we can see is that something Hanlon just said crashed over him like a wave and the Frenchman is left speechless.
Hayes Hanlon: Watch close. You’re about to get a real good preview.
With that Hayes throws back the curtain and rolls deeper into Argyle, waiting for his entrance while Aerosmith rises on the speakers inside the arena. Farthington and FLAMBO continue their debate as we leave the scene.
PRIME GETS Q’D IN THE A
Nick Stuart: Fans, we’re being told about a…special presentation, which we’re about to air.
Richard Parker: You’d think they’d warn us.
Nick Stuart: Sounds like the team in production just put it together. It’s apparently a series of interviews, conducted by…oh, Christ.
Richard Parker: You mean Hoyt?
Nick Stuart: No, I mean our special guest “journalist” for the evening, Savannah Scandal.
Richard Parker: …oh, Christ.
The feed cuts to black, then fades in to a scene backstage, where Savannah Scandal stands next to the former Five Star Champion, Coral Avalon. A helpful “RECORDED PREVIOUSLY” bug pops up in the corner.
Savannah Scandal: Congratulations on your wife’s pregnancy. Do you know who the father is?
Coral Avalon: Yes.
Coral stares at her. He looks more menacing than usual.
A new scene with a new star…Kennade Starr, in fact.
Savannah Scandal: Why mess around with wrestling when OnlyFans exists?
Kennade Starr: A whole bunch of my StarrShines are fans of PRIME. They’ve been asking on my stream for a while if I’d consider joining. When my StarrShines shine, I shine too! And OnlyFans is trashy. KStarr is not trashy.
Now Savannah is with…Simon Tillier?
Savannah Scandal: Have you ever…
She whispers something in Simon’s ear. His face turns beet red, and he runs away.
Savannah Scandal: Those are some wild teeth. Have you ever eaten anyone? Not in a sex way…but, also in a sex way.”
Arthur Pleasant: I’ve never eaten anyone with these teeth. Listen, I fucking got these teeth because they looked fucking cool. My teeth were all shattered to shit from all my death matches in Japan and I felt like I needed something so I could chew bagels again. That’s it. Fuck FLAMBO and this bullshit Teeth Movement. Fans are so stupid!
Pleasant pauses and sighs.
Arthur Pleasant: Okay, listen. As for the second part of that question? There was one time when Muriel Puddings pulled me under the ring and made out with me while she ate a whole ham hock. I mean, I think that was her mouth. For all I know it could’ve been her pussy and she was simultaneously masturbating with a ham hock while feeding me some brown sugar and honey meat flavored muff. I don’t know. All I do know is that I felt violated in ways that would make Law and Order: Special Victims Unit blush. It’s… not my proudest moment. Probably should’ve gone to H.R., huh?
Arthur pauses again.
Arthur Pleasant: Wait, am I allowed to say pussy or is pussy a no-no word now? I can’t keep up wit my what’s P.C. and what’s acceptable. I feel like pussy is somewhere in between. Like it is on the human anatomy. Grrrr. I fucking hate these goddamn things.
Savannah Scandal: So, about those Hayes Hanlon fantasies…
Justine Calvin: Oh for… this shit again?! You asked me this earlier, you daffy hag. The answer hasn’t changed. It’s zero. Which is also the amount of patience I have left for this garbage. Now if you don’t find someone else to annoy I’m going to make good on what I said earlier about the bricks.
Chandler Tsonda. The real one. We think.
Savannah Scandal: We all know you hired that body double so you could finally find out what it’s like to sleep with Chandler Tsonda. Did you live up to the hype?
Chandler Tsonda: Sounds like the type of question that mangy little rat Jake or his patron would be feeding you. You got Doppeltsonda in your earpiece? You know where he is? Nah, you know what, it’s fine. I’m fine. I’ll find him. All in due time. Patience is my greatest virtue, tied with all the others. I’m in no rush. What was the question again?
The Sultan of Style readjusts his athleisure pullover, and regains something resembling composure.
Chandler Tsonda: Obviously, I didn’t hire him to fall in love with him. I read the myth of Narcissus every morning as a cautionary tale and as a way to limit my mirror time to no more than 45 minutes a day. I would NEVER be caught dead falling in love with my own reflection again. Not after the incident…
Only Tsonda knows what his thousand-yard stare after this response means, but surely it’s something normal and good. He snaps to it after a fraught five seconds.
Chandler Tsonda: Make sure to tag me when this story posts. Toodles!
Savannah Scandal: Foster, have you seen the sex tape with your ex-wife and Abe Lipschitz?
Foster Nackedy: No.
Savannah Scandal: Do you want to?
An icy glare.
Savannah Scandal: Does your revenue from the PRIMEporium go more toward funding international drug trade, or Sage Pontiff’s weird sex cult?
Anna Daniels: Neither. Our revenue goes to building an army of murderous screaming goats to counter attack Lady Troy’s sadistic owl brigade and rehabilitation for the poor souls who looked at your mother’s OnlyFans. Some of them are blind now. The people, not the goats.
The Muse’s answer is so laden with sarcasm that it outweighs the merchandise available at the PRIMEporium.
Three Enemigos, possibly chosen at random.
Savannah Scandal: Which one of your group pulls down the most tail?
The Enemigos say nothing, but V and XXIII surreptitiously point at IX.
Savannah Scandal: What are the best drugs to take before sex?
Sage Pontiff: The best drugs to take before sex? Communication. Proximity. Openness to the greater cosmic vibrational frequency. Weekend warriors like you see people like me and assume there’s a specific cocktail they can take–a hit of this, a puff of that, a line here and there–to experience the sacred geometry of a sexual partner. Or partners. When the truth is it is not the drugs we take, but the intention with which we take them. It’s not the intake, it’s the vibe. But people like you, so used to having perfunctory, meaningless experiences…to you, the act is just that. An act. You need to expand your mind as well as your understanding of what the soul dance truly means.
He turns to walk away, then stops short, raising a finger. He has remembered something. The Bodhisattva turns back, shaking his head.
Sage Pontiff: You know what? Molly. The answer is Molly. Namaste.
Rocky De Leon.
Savannah Scandal: We all know you love the…more experienced ladies. Who’s the oldest woman you’ve ever fully dicked?
Rocky De Leon: Ninety-seven.
Savannah Scandal: …
There’s a good chance Rocky is smirking underneath that mask.
Referee Jimmy Turnbull.
Savannah Scandal: How much does Ashley Barlow charge to let you watch her take a shower?
Jimmy Turnbull: I–what? No! I would never–look, she’s very–but I wouldn’t–she’s a respected coworker and I don’t–
Jimmy’s floundering is cut off by the booming voice and stomping feet of senior official Timo Bolamba.
“I THOUGHT IT TOLD YOU TO FUCK OFF!”
With a grin, Scandal backs away quickly; she’s halfway down the hall by the time Timo comes into view.
Timo Bolamba: AND FOR THE LAST GODDAMN TIME, I DO NOT HAVE MEGA-HERPES!
In a hallway deep within the belly of the Capital One Arena, we see FLAMBERGE…though that statement isn’t fully representative of the scene. More accurately, we see a foot, tracing up to a bent knee, both belonging to FLAMBERGE.
Panning up, he appears to have just completed a forward lunge of about 5 feet. He brings his back leg forward, balances himself, and then lunges forward another 5 feet or so. His pace is very methodical, and his gaze is unblinkingly forward as he continues slowly lunging down the hall, hands on hips.
Savannah Scandal: …what the hell are you doing?
The Neck Collector continues past Savannah, one steady lunge at a time, until he’s out of frame.
Adam Ellis and Ginny Van Lear.
Savannah Scandal: How long after your wedding did you start doing butt stuff?
Before Adam can even respond, Ginny Van Lear is measuring the distance. She suddenly spins, and lifts her leg in order to lash it out at Savannah’s head.
If the kick lands, it will no doubt be accompanied by a chorus of angels.
Unfortunately, a different angel intervenes, as Adam Ellis picks up his wife and backs away from Savannah.
Ginny Van Lear: ADAM YEW PUT ME DOWN RIGHT NOW SO AH KIN KICK THAT DEVIL WOMAN INNA FACE!
Adam Ellis: She ain’t worth it, baby. Let’s go.
A hulking brute of a man, very familiar to the PRIME faithful.
Savannah Scandal: Tell me, big boy…how wet do you like it?
Savannah Scandal: Do you and your son Cody take steroids together as a form of family bonding? I heard he won a championship, how much do you think the drugs helped?
Savannah is used to making people squirm. Used to having the leverage and control. What stands before her is another force entirely. There is no change in the intense expression of the Universal Champion’s face. His eyes burrow holes through her, and while she smirks, it slowly melts away in an uncomfortable tension.
Asking something like this, on a night where he’s defending the top prize in all of sports? It’s suicide.
After a further few moments, the nervousness creeps through the veneer of the rumor monger. The Tower of Babel turns, re-entering his locker room. She can’t help but yelp as he slams the door behind him. If The Anglo Luchador dies tonight, Savannah stands to be tried as an accessory.
And finally, our faithful announce team.
Savannah Scandal: Do you give each other handies under the table during commercials?
Nick Stuart/Richard Parker: No!!!
Oh hey, the bug disappeared. That means we’re actually live at the announce table, and Savannah Scandal just asked Nick and Richard that question.
Savannah Scandal: Thanks for all your help, boys!
Nick and Richard share a very awkward glance.
Very, very awkward.
Savannah Scandal: Before I go, I just want to give an extra special thank you to Nate Colton for inviting me to the show! Much love, baby cakes! Let’s do this again.
Nick Stuart: Let’s not. Let’s not do this again.
Richard Parker: Never. Never ever ever.
Now… let’s get back to wrestling.
HAYES HANLON VS. JONATHAN-CHRISTOPHER HALL
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith plays on the PA and the lights flicker like stars falling from the heavens as Jonathan-Christopher and Vickie Hall make their way out of the back.
The strings fade and Steven Tyler rasps the seminal love ballad of the late 90’s hit.
“I could stay awake, just to hear you breathing.”
The duo make their way to the ring and before entering, JCH timidly asks to kiss Vickie’s hand, which she playfully laughs off and tells him to get in the ring.
He rolls in and shoots her a look to suggest he will do this in her name.
Vince Howard: FROM FOLSOM, LOUISIANA! STANDING SIX FEET TWO INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY POUNDS…
JCH blows a kiss to Vickie on the outside. She catches it and winks.
Vince Howard: JOOOOONATHAAAAAAN-CHRIIIIIIIISTOOOOPHEEEEER HAAAAAAAALL!
Nick Stuart: Jonathan-Christopher is ready to face down his opponent, and what a big opportunity it is for him against a former two time Universal champion.
Richard Parker: I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes if he doesn’t get it done. Vickie doesn’t look like she is playing around.
Distorted guitar heralds a black hole emerging on the PRIME*View, dangerously close to the screen; hanging in the void among planets and nebulas.
Sirens accompany as the screen shakes, pulling us in violently, until the lyrics scream throughout the PA system.
“WHEN MY BACK’S TO THE WAAALLLL!!!”
And huge, white block letters fill the screen:
The speakers and amplifiers hold on for dear life as “Daggers” by We Came as Romans absolutely bludgeon the eardrums. And speaking of explosions, those planets and stars on the PRIME*View do just that, bursting into blinding eruptions of violent light. It carries into the arena, rumbling flashbulbs explode in various points throughout the building; in the ceiling, in the stands, one after another.
And then, from the ramp, the Event Horizon.
“I SEE THE MOUNTAIN AHEAD, I FEEL THE THUNDER ROAR!
I FEEL THE FURY WITHIN, BUT LOUDER THAN BEFORE!”
Hammerin’ Hanlon marches forward, those dark eyes focused, ‘stache on point, while the fans around are on the brink of a literal mosh pit.
Vince Howard: FROM WEST LINN, OREGON! STANDING SIX FEET, THREE INCHES AND WEIGHING IN AT TWO-HUNDRED AND SIXTY ONE POUNDS!!
Hayes climbs the apron, steps through the ropes, and b-lines for the turnbuckle.
Vince Howard: The Event Horizoonnnnnnn…HAAAAAYESSSS!! HAAANNNLLOOOONNNNN!!!
Up one rope, then the second, chest and jaw jutting out, and a thumb across his neck.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN! TO FIND THE POWER!”
He hops down, making way to the next post to repeat the process one more time.
“DRAW! THE! DAGGER!
CUT OUT THE PAIN!”
He remains on the ropes, and in unison with the crowd, beats his chest four times while roaring out the crescendo.
The Comeback Kid stays for a moment, eyes out to the roaring crowd, allowing the music to reach its breakdown. He hops to the mat and takes his place in his corner, ready to go.
Nick Stuart: Bang a gong, we are on here in Kitchen Stadium!
Richard Parker: What are you talking about?
Nick Stuart: Sorry, slipped into my voice acting from back in the day.
Richard Parker: You’re a weird man.
Elvis Nixon finishes checking over the competitors and signals for the bell.
Nick Stuart: Here we go folks, a matchup that might seem a little imbalanced, but Hall has been on a pretty good run lately.
Richard Parker: Hayes is still one of the top guys in the company though, and I think anyone with eyes thinks this is a mismatch.
Nick Stuart: That’s true, Richard. It does seem that way on paper. Lucky for JCH we wrestle on canvas.
Richard shakes his head at the lame attempt at a joke.
JCH and Hayes circle one another in the ring, eventually coming together with a collar and elbow. Hayes is able to power Johnathan-Christopher into the corner with ease and lay into him with a couple boots before grabbing his opponent and whipping him into the opposite corner.
He follows up by following JCH into the corner and stomping on him a few times for effect. Elvis Nixon warns Hanlon and the mustachioed warrior holds up his hands and steps back.
Nick Stuart: Early on it seems like Hanlon’s power is going to be an issue for JCH.
Richard Parker: There is that, but also there is a disparity in skill that is clearly on display.
It is clear, indeed, to anyone who watches these two on a regular basis. Jonathan-Christopher lolls his head, in over his depth. Hayes cracks a smile and winks at Vickie.
She screams and seems to pop JCH out of his daze. The Forever Man steps out of the way as Hayes charges the corner and The Event Horizon hits the turnbuckles hard.
Vickie screams like a tornado siren for JCH to capitalize, and he rushes to lock Hayes in a snap mare flip into a headlock while blowing a kiss at Vickie. She snatches it out of the air and stuffs it in her top for later.
Nick Stuart: Brilliant strategy here by Hall, slow the match down a little and don’t let Hayes build up a head of steam.
Richard Parker: I’m not entirely convinced he had anything to do with a strategy, I think he is just getting lucky that he has this move in his repertoire.
Nick Stuart: That may be true, but either way it’s working.
JCH wrenches on Hayes’ head, but the larger man slowly gets to his feet, first stopping at his knee and driving an elbow into Hall’s gut. JCH doubles over and that allows Hayes to sprint for the ropes and bounce off with a flying bulldog facebuster. He rolls Hall over and goes for a quick cover.
JCH kicks out and Hayes shoots up to his knees, looking around for the fans to interact. The crowd starts to fall in and cheer for him which only amplifies as he waves his hands in the air looking to get everyone hyped up.
As they reach a fervor, he runs to the ropes and bounces off. As he does, JCH gets to his feet wobbly and has almost no time to register the Hanlon express hit him with a monster spear that drives the both of them tumbling outside the ring.
Nick Stuart: Wow, I am not sure who took the worst of that shot!
Richard Parker: Well, considering that Jonathan-Christopher got folded in half before he went through the ropes, I would say he did!
Hayes is the first to his feet, albeit slowly. Elvis Nixon has already made a two count outside the ring by the time he makes it up. As he trudges toward JCH, Vickie appears out of nowhere and throws herself on top of her amazing life partner.
She begs Hayes not to keep up his attack and The Hammerin’ One stands with his hands on his hips not wanting to hurt Vickie, no matter how much he might dislike her. Elvis keeps counting.
Finally Hayes decides to roll into the ring and stop the count. He waits for JCH to get to his feet, and when his opponent finally does, he reaches over to “help” him back into the ring, only to recoil and claw at his eyes.
Nick Stuart: Vickie just sprayed him with something!
Richard Parker: I didn’t see anything!
Nick Stuart: Neither did Elvis Nixon! And now I smell it! It’s that damned Pretty Pink © perfume.
Richard Parker: Oh my god, that smells like a hobo’s nut sack.
Nick Stuart: That’s a very specific scent, Richard.
Richard Parker: But am I wrong? Like, in your mind’s eye, isn’t that believably what a hobo’s sack smells like?
Nick Stuart simply nods.
JCH leaps over the top rope with a cross body block and goes for a pin, which Hayes instinctually kicks out of before Elvis can even get into place for a count. Hall scrambles back on Hayes at the behest of the pink banshee at ringside. He starts laying into the former Universal Champion with rights and lefts.
Jonathan-Christopher starts to choke Hayes which draws the ire of the fans all over the arena.
That doesn’t stop him, but Hayes putting his foot on the bottom rope does. Elvis Nixon admonishes JCH with a hard count before threatening to disqualify Hall, which finally gets him to release the hold.
As Elvis verbally warms Jonathan-Christopher and backs him away from Hayes, Vickie loops a Pretty Pink © towel across his windpipe and leans back, choking Hayes while the referee isn’t looking.
Nick Stuart: The crowd is going berserk watching the Love Convoy members blatantly cheat!
JCH holds his hands up and tells Elvis Nixon he hears him, which is the cue for Vickie to release the hold. She pulls the towel down and dabs her forehead with it when Elvis turns around to see Hayes still gasping for air.
Jonathan-Christopher pushes the ref aside on his way to continue the assault. He stomps on Hayes several times before blowing a kiss to Vickie. This time she catches it and stuffs it in her waistband while making eyes at her beau.
He seems to be full of confidence and leaps into the air to splash the fallen ex-champion, but Hayes gets his knees up. The fans immediately react and start cheering which causes Hayes’ mustache to twitch and his heart to pump pure coca… err… adrenaline. Hanlon gets to a knee and his eyes burn like the penance stare of Ghost Rider at JCH.
Richard Parker: I’ve seen that look before! It’s the one the workers at the Chinese Buffet gave to me and Bobby Dean last week when he went up for a 13th plate of food!
Nick Stuart: Was it any good?
Richard Parker: I haven’t had the squirts that bad since I ate at El Temblor’s Gastrointestinal Nightmare.
Nick Stuart: Gross!
Richard Parker: Actually it was pretty tasty at the time. I recommend the Tamales.
Nick Stuart: Wait, I thought you hated Cancer Jiles and the Bandits?
Richard Parker: I uh… Holy cow, look at Hayes go!
Hayes has indeed stood up and seems to be drawing power from the cheers of the crowd. Vickie screams something about pleading for mercy and JCH drops to his knees, classically begging off the advancing Hanlon.
Hammerin’ Hayes holds up his arms playing for the crowd who seem to have gone clear to a fever pitch wanting him to punish Jonathan-Christopher Hall.
Finally, the snake-like Hall tries to strike Hayes, but the young man blocks it and trades back with one of his own to the delight of the fans in attendance.
He whips The Forever Man into the ropes and thunders across the ring into the other side, coming off with power, sending JCH tumbling with a mighty lariat. Hanlon picks his opponent up and whips him once again, and this time catches him with a prolonged showy powerslam.
Nick Stuart: The Comeback Kid might not need a comeback tonight, as it looks like he is handling his business in the ring.
Hayes stands JCH up and measures him for a big right hand jab. He pops him with another, and another, and another, and… well you get the point. Finally he grabs his opponent and winds up the big right once again.
He reaches all the way back to West Linn, Oregon and delivers a mighty haymaker that sends Hall crashing to the mat.
Nick Stuart: Hayes is just playing with Jonathan-Christopher now, and by the looks of things he might wrap this up pretty soon.
Richard Parker: That last series of punches looked like it took a toll on Hall’s jaw as well as Vickie’s vocal cords.
Vickie is indeed shrieking at Hanlon like she is hoping that the sound will cause Hayes’ symbiote to separate from his body. That does not happen, though, and before long Hayes has Hall whipped into the ropes again.
As The Event Horizon stampedes into the ropes to build momentum, Vickie takes matters into her own hands, leaps in the air and pulls down the middle rope, causing Hayes to break his stride and turn to see Vickie still holding the rope.
Nick Stuart: Hayes just cannot catch a break here! Every time he gets a head of steam Vickie is there to thwart him and interfere.
Richard Parker: Look, I’m not defending her, but that’s literally her job as a manager.
Nick Stuart: She shouldn’t be getting involved in the matches though, Richard.
Richard Parker: Still, hard to argue with the effectiveness right?
Hayes protests to Elvis Nixon, who issues a stern warning to Vickie. She denies her actions and flutters her eyes to feign innocence and during the whole performance successfully draws everyone’s attention away from JCH as he rolls up Hayes!
Elvis drops to the mat and counts.
Another mighty kick-out and Hayes pops to his feet keeping his eyes on both of the Halls.
At this time a commotion happens as Flamberge appears from the back flanked by Cecilworth Farthington. Hayes catches sight of them and puts his back to the Halls and The Glue boys as they slither down the ramp.
Nick Stuart: Now what are these two doing here!
Richard Parker: Come to enjoy the match, I would guess.
Nick Stuart: Oh, come on! Cecilworth Farthington and Flamberge have no business out here.
Richard Parker: I don’t know, partner, they sure seem like they have some business to attend to.
Hayes protests to Elvis Nixon, shouting and miming being sprayed in the face and choked already, and Elvis throws his hands in the air and tells him to keep wrestling.
Nick Stuart: Even without Sid and Joe who are in Japan, this situation just became a whole lot trickier for Hayes. Let me tell you, Richard, he better have eyes in the back of his head.
Richard Parker: And high explosives for fists.
Hayes tries to watch all parties involved in this situation, but as The Glue Factory finally makes their way down to the ring and stands outside looking shady and leering, the fans tell them what they think of them.
Hanlon jawjacks a little with the Glue Boyz and points to the back. Cecilworth yawns in response. Elvis Nixon is caught in between trying to keep his eyes on all parties involved as well and doesn’t see Vickie creeping around the ring toward Hayes, who has backed himself against the ropes with Cecilberge on one side and Jonathan-Christopher on the other so he can keep track of them both.
She picks her moment and strikes, hitting Hayes with a low blow that sends him stumbling and right into the loving arms of JCH who grabs the flailing Hayes and hits him with Stand By Me!
The crowd boos vehemently as Jonathan-Christopher looks stunned that he has Hayes Hanlon prostrate and vulnerable. Vickie begins to shriek like the giant carnivorous eels which inhabit the sea between Florin and Guilder. JCH hears his Amazing Life Partner and snaps out of it to make the pin.
Nick Stuart: Come on! Not like this!
Jonathan-Christopher hooks the leg and, reluctantly, Elvis Nixon does his job.
DING DING DING
Vince Howard: And your winner… JOOOOOONAAAAATHAAAAN-CHRIIIIIISTOPHEEER HAAAAAAAALL!
Nick Stuart: What a despicable show. Hayes Hanlon had all the cards stacked against him and sometimes you just cannot overcome numbers.
Richard Parker: I just want to know why Cecilworth and Flamberge were out here in the first place?
Nick Stuart: I think it is pretty clear why they were out here, and the results speak for themselves with The Love Convoy picking up the win.
The Glue Factory smirks and makes their way up the ramp, content that their presence has been felt. Outside the ring, Jonathan-Christopher tries to celebrate with a passionate kiss, but Vickie hard blocks him with her hand in his face and tells him he needs a shower before he even thinks about kissing her.
Of course he agrees and as they make their way to the back, Hayes sits up and looks around, wondering what just happened. Elvis Nixon claps him on the back and he rolls out of the ring to make his way up the ramp, slapping a few fans’ hands on the way.
Nick Stuart: Well, that will do it for this match. Let’s cut to the last commercial break of the night before our Main Event! I don’t know about you, but I am excited, Richard.
Richard Parker: Can The Anglo Luchador ascend to the top of the mountain? Will Brandon Youngblood Randalplex him to the moon? I guess we will find out.
Nick Stuart: Indeed!
We then cut to our final commercial of the evening… and it’s an important one.
COMMERCIAL: REVIVAL 33 MAIN EVENT
JUST HOW BIG IS THE SIZE OF IVAN STANISLAV’S PERSONAL “ARESENAL”?
Back from commercial, the scene opens with Alexei Ruslan in a private dressing room backstage at the Baltimore Arena. This isn’t to say that he should be there, but he’s there regardless. The Russians look like they’ve taken it upon themselves to move in, as a large Soviet flag is hung along the far wall, and at least one of the surrounding chairs is appropriately Stanislav-sized.
Ruslan is dressed in his typical attire, complete with his hat, and he stares at a monitor that sits on a stand in the corner, showing the view of a camera not used for the ReVival 32 telecast, that is pointed towards the ring. His arms are crossed and he purses his lips thoughtfully, before checking a watch on his right wrist.
The voice from off camera is unmistakable.
Ivan Stanislav: Where in Lenin’s name are they?
Ruslan sighs as Ivan approaches from behind, standing well over a head taller than his friend, The Russian Bear looks down at the monitor. He’s freshly showered and cleaned up following his match with Eddie Cross. Ruslan shrugs.
Alexei Ruslan: I have no idea, Praporshchik. I would have thought Schwartz and Freeman would have been here by now. Maybe they got lost?
Ivan grumbles and rolls his eyes.
Ivan Stanislav: Perhaps. Those damned PRIME interviewers still refuse to speak to us. Hmph. I thought maybe Kenny or Randall would suffice, but who knows where they are?!
Ivan cuts his eyes over to the door. You don’t expect many people to knock on your door, looking for you, when you’re Ivan Stanislav.
She enters the room one leg at a time. I mean, of course she does, that’s how you enter a room…unless you can fly, or you’re using a pogo stick. And as much as some of our fans might enjoy the visual of that last one, there’s no way she’s about to risk bruising the merchandise. Not after what she spent on plastic surgery.
Yes, Savannah Scandal is gracing your screens once more. The two Russians raise their eyebrows simultaneously.
Savannah Scandal: Hello there. I heard there were a couple of handsome men in here, looking for someone to talk to.
Stanislav looks down at Alexei.
Alexei looks up at Stanislav.
Ivan clears his throat.
Ivan Stanislav: Uh… yes well, we are two of best looking men in PRIME.
Ivan mutters to Alexei in their native tongue.
Ivan Stanislav: Ты заказал мнетанцовщицу, Алексей?! (Did you order me a dancer, Alexei?!)
Ruslan blanches and adjusts his tie.
Alexei Ruslan: Nyet, comrade…
Savannah stands before Ivan and Alexei, offering a small curtsy before sitting down.
Savannah Scandal: Praporshchik Stanislav, my name is Savannah Scandal. I’ve been invited here tonight as…an objective journalist. I’d love to get a word with a man who has risen…all the way…up the ranks to become the greatest wrestler in PRIME.
Stanislav’s smile spreads wide on his face and he chuckles to himself. He grips one of his suspenders and repositions it on his large shoulder, while simultaneously grabbing his own huge chair and dragging it across from Savannah. Ruslan sighs and turns his back on the duo and instead returns to the monitor. Ivan settles in the chair.
Ivan Stanislav: Are you not a breath of fresh air, Ms. Scandal! Yes of course, it is only natural one would want to get word with Praporshchik Stanislav. And good use of my title. So then, ask away!
She puts on a very satisfied smile, and leans forward to show off more of the aforementioned “merchandise.”
Savannah Scandal: Wonderful. Ivan, we all know that Russia has the strongest, most powerful military in the world. But what my readers really want to know is, how big is your own personal arsenal?
Stanislav leans back slightly in his chair. He clears his throat thoughtfully, oblivious to the proffered “merchandise” but, then again, he is a communist through and through, right?
Ivan Stanislav: Ah, yes I appreciate your respect for military of Russia. But as for myself? I stand seven feet one inch tall by U.S. measurements and I maintain a weight of four hundred pounds.
He offers a helpful smile.
Ivan Stanislav: That information is readily available on PRIME website.
Savannah Scandal: Wha–? That’s not…
Rare is the man who can actually fluster Savannah Scandal. But here is the moment, captured on our cameras for all to see. Still, she regroups quickly.
Savannah Scandal: No, I mean, your private armament. Are we talking an AK? A tank cannon? Certainly not a .22 caliber pistol.
While she speaks, Ruslan slowly turns halfway and looks back at her. His brows are furrowed curiously as he listens. Ivan, however, doesn’t seem confused at all by the question and responds with gusto.
Ivan Stanislav: Oh, my dear Savannah, I was infantry. Not part of tank crew! I could not fit even if I wished. I had customary sidearm during military service, of course, but I primarily use AK-74. Good, sturdy rifle in Afghanistan. I still have it in my office. Why, I could have gone with AKS-74, but the folding stock did not fit well with my frame, you see. However, I was large enough that it was easy for me to hold RPK-74 as well. That is light machine gun, you see? I could hold PKM as well, that is heavy machine gun perhaps, but that was not very conducive to infantry patrols. But yes, I am private gun owner, and have many other weapons. But for security reasons I…
He blinks as he looks down and finally sees… more… of Savannah. His train of thought is derailed for a moment. He clears his throat.
Ivan Stanislav: …ahem… I cannot speak in more detail.
Savannah is almost too dumbfounded by Ivan’s answer to react. She briefly looks at Alexei, as if asking without words if she’s being unclear. Ruslan blinks blankly at her.
On the other hand, she did notice Ivan’s sudden shift in attention, and she tries again.
Savannah Scandal: When you…stand at attention…how big is your salute?
Ruslan rolls his eyes and turns his back to them once more. Ivan blinks curiously and tilts his head to the side.
Ivan Stanislav: I cannot say, for various reasons, uh, how long my arm is when I salute. I would rather not give, uh, undue information to potential opponents.
That light is very, very slowly, starting to turn on, Ivan.
Ivan Stanislav: I… uh… why do you ask?
Savannah Scandal: It’s what my readers want to read about. They’re very patriotic.
Ivan clears his throat once more, a low, rumbling growl.
Ivan Stanislav: I would… suggest… they just… use… their… imagination.
Ruslan, with his back still to the car wreck behind him, places his hand over his eyes.
Scandal smirks, now that she’s finally gotten through to the enormous Russian. She leans in a little closer, and speaks barely above a whisper.
Savannah Scandal: Now, I’m just a decadent American, so I might not truly understand…but I wonder if you could describe for me a truly passionate Russian…experience.
It sounds like a whip crack, as Ivan’s right suspender suddenly snaps from the waist of his pants and flies over his shoulder.
Alexei Ruslan: Okay! I think we have all heard enough! Thank you, Ms. Scandal!
Stanislav surges to his feet as his state of minor undress indeed snaps him back to the present, and he turns and grabs the strap and starts to fix it to the waist of his work pants.
Ivan Stanislav: Uh, yes… yes Ms. Scandal I believe that will be enough. I tell you uh, story like that some other time, eh?
Savannah Scandal: Of course. Спасибо (Thank you) for your time, gentlemen.
She stands up and sashays toward the door. Is she putting a little bit of extra swing in her step? Of course she is.
Savannah Scandal: I hope the next time we meet is just as…fulfilling.
As the door shuts behind her, Ruslan stares daggers up at Ivan.
Ivan Stanislav: What?
Ruslan shakes his head.
Alexei Ruslan: Gun talk, Praporshchik? You think she wanted to talk gun talk?!
Ivan shakes his head.
Ivan Stanislav: Enough of that!
He looks at the monitor thoughtfully.
Ivan Stanislav: I have to go take walk, you stay here in case Freeman and Schwartz show.
Ruslan nods, while Ivan walks to the door, opens it, and pauses.
Ivan Stanislav: And why not send her my card. You know, just in case?
And with that, Stanislav thunders out of the office. Ruslan sighs and goes back to the monitor.
We then cut to a man not quite as scary as Ivan Stanislav, but with teeth that definitely scare people.
WASTE OF A MOVE, LORD MORTEMORT
We swing back around to a private area inside the CFG Bank Arena–which is what the former Baltimore Arena is actually called as of 2023–where Arthur Pleasant is casually sipping on an unidentified cocktail. He holds open an American print version of Leon Trotsky’s Stalin: An Appraisal of the Man and His Influence.
As Pleasant holds the book tightly in his hands, everyone’s phones in the building start sounding an alarm as there is Breaking News of pigs flying. (Not really, but if pigs started flying, one might conclude that our cell phones are all set up with a special alert for something as monumental as that!)
With Arthur’s head buried in the hardcover, he doesn’t even notice the Seven-Foot Siberian Silencer, Yuri Reznikov, making his way to his table.
Yuri: We have an issue.
Pleasant peers up from his book slowly as if his eyes could not avert themselves to what they were reading. Holding up a finger as if to say “Almost done…”, his eyes remain on the page until they read the last sentence of a particularly engaging paragraph.
Arthur Pleasant: You know, these fucking Trotskyists called him a visionary. But you know what? I don’t think Trotsky’s vision saw past his own narrow-minded views on anti-Stalinism. Such a troglodyte. Also, it’s quite remarkable how the bag of dicks wasn’t whacked sooner before publishing his other works. Especially that History of the Russian Revolution tripe. Fucking garbage. ANYWAY!
Upon delivering his Arthurian take on Russian literature, his eyes finally meet Yuri’s.
Arthur Pleasant: You were saying?
Yuri: Da. We have an issue. A big one.
Pleasant sighs and takes a sip of the cocktail that, after some inspecting, seems to be a Campfire Cocktail. Made with the ever-versatile Fireball whiskey with an amalgam of spices and fruits for those immediately duck-duck-go’ing the recipe. After the clickety mouth sounds of the drink sliding down his throat, Arthur exhales mightily– possibly from the strong vapors of the spices colliding with each other inside his wartorn body. “Fuckin’ EH.”, he thinks to himself as the cinnamon fumes burn a hole into his soul like those scented decorative brooms we all see en masse in the fall/July 5th.
Arthur Pleasant: Why do I feel this involves our favorite fuckface of the hour, Lord Mortemort?
Yuri: Because it does.
Arthur Pleasant: Of course, it does. I would’ve been disappointed had it been otherwise! I told Arliss we should’ve hired a heavy to serve him and not Myron.
Arliss Peters: Told me what?! What’s this about Myron?! Oh GOD… is he okay? I only hired him as a favor to one of my partners at the firm!
It’s The Provocateur’s own personal attorney and “friend”, Arliss Peters, who was slightly out of view but clearly within earshot as soon as Arthur made this statement about Myron Rightway. It was here, at the bar inside the CFG Bank Arena, two hours ago, where and when it was decided to litigate Mortimer for his actions. The masked brute clearly needed a reality check that resonated with Mort and the rest of the Gamble Amateur Society in a non-violent manner.
After all, if you want to tame the beast, it’s not always a physical game.
Yuri: Myron was just assaulted. He was carted out on a stretcher from Tony Gamble’s locker room. Bleeding pretty badly. Looked like blunt-force trauma.
Arliss Peters: Why would Tony Gamble attack Myron?
Arthur Pleasant: It wasn’t Tony. Fuckwit though he is, too, he is not quite the wit of fucks Morty is.
Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare thinks about it for a moment before continuing.
Arthur Pleasant: This was definitely Morty. Such an impetuous imbecile, that one.
Pleasant drinks the rest of his cocktail, wiping sweat from his brow created from the fireball whiskey. Grabbing the Trotsky piece he had been reading for most of the show, Pleasant looked at Mr. Zappenstein resting on his lap under the circular table. Arthur smirked, smacking the end of his favorite weapon in his hand as if he planned on using it imminently.
Arthur Pleasant: Can’t say I didn’t expect this. I think it’s time we took this to the next level, gentlemen. ARLISS!
Startled, Arliss looks as if he’s going to hyperventilate, knowing he might be next on Mortimer’s Kill List.
Arliss Peters: Y-Yes?
Arthur Pleasant: Yuri here will take you someplace safe. I wouldn’t put it past this guy to go after you next. He thinks it’ll scare me if he beats up my known associates and friends.
Yuri laughs heartily. Arliss gulps hopelessly.
Arthur Pleasant: I’ll meet you guys in a few days. I’ll let you know the time and place.
Arliss Peters: W-where are YOU going?!
Arthur Pleasant: I’m going to the hospital to see Myron. I can only assume he was taken to MedStar Union Memorial. I have some… questions. And if Mort happens to stop by? Hehe. All the better!
Yuri: Da. Poshli, Mr. Peters.
Suggesting they leave ASAFP, Yuri grabs the much smaller Arliss by his shoulder blade and forces him in a direction away from the bar. Most likely towards the exit from the arena.
Standing all by his lonesome, Pleasant looks up at the TV feed capturing everything going on fifty feet from him inside the arena. ReVival 32, as everyone else in the world sees it, is showing the replay of Jonathan-Christopher Hall scoring the impressive victory over Hayes Hanlon. Arthur stands from the table with Zappz firmly in his grip.
Throwing a “Grant” down on the table, Pleasant shakes his head, laughing at the thought of Myron taking a beating by someone much, much bigger than him.
Arthur Pleasant(Quietly, under his breath, to no one in particular): Bush league, Morty. Such a waste of a move, too. Now it’s my turn.
Humming something familiar as he walks away from the table, Pleasant twirls Mr. Zappenstein as we transition elsewhere.
Now? It’s Main Event Time!
THE PINNACLE OF ALL SPORTS
We return from backstage to CFG Bank Arena.
Nick Stuart: And now…all that’s left…
Richard Parker: The big one for the biggest prize of all.
Nick Stuart: But first…before the collision, the pageantry, and all that this coming bout represents.
The fans are buzzing in anticipation, knowing what is next. Suddenly, the stadium lights dim, a loud cheer erupting from the crowd. Out of the blackness, the PRIMEview comes alive, the PRIME logo displayed prominently. It fades, the opening tones of Rivalry by Colin O’Malley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrZwY0MOjx4 beginning to play. With a lashing strike of blue, words fill the screen.
THE PRIME UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP
THE PINNACLE OF ALL SPORTS
Descending, a lone spotlight shines upon a table of velvet. Stood up for prominence is the PRIME Universal Championship belt, polished and shined. As the music continues, its contours and plates are scanned with care. Every detail is magnificent. The tension of sound rises, and with it, the camera pulls away from the majestic championship. The scene abruptly cuts to black.
And with the rising dramatic percussion, the still shots. Subtle movements slowly focusing upon the figures as they appear for a few moments, their achievement marked in text in convenient spaces.
The inaugural Universal Champion and final Global Champion. The bridge between the eras, cemented at King of Kings 2. He stands an enigma, a seeming average man in build, but what he lacks in impressive physique he makes up for in mystery. One championship belt for each trench coated shoulder. His eyes are focused and evident through the white mask absconding his identity.
A titan of muscle, massive in stature not just physically, but for his time in the sport. A once hero, now, he is a betrayer, joining the Dark Age. There is no sense of shame with his smirking expression.
A whirlwind of color, a form of taut muscle and artistic expression. She stands stoic, the championship belt over her shoulder. Does she care? Only she knows. Her moment has arrived, seemingly unstoppable, one of the greatest beginnings to a PRIME career of anyone. The Vanguard of the Golden Age. A trendsetter.
Behind crimson glasses protecting his eyes, a seminal figure. Chiseled from granite, his tattoos prominent, if ever a man stood as The Supreme Machine, it is he. The ender of the K-Wolf’s era before it even started. Later, the hand chosen by Tyler Nelson to put an end to a Universal charade. When one speaks of PRIME, his name is one of the first to come.
4th, 8th Champion
The winds behind him sweep about, blowing his majestic hair with perfect photogenic bravado. The only true Son of God. His appearance has not changed, even today, proving his parentage. The Last Judgment features prominently on his tights. Under his hand, you shall be crucified and saved.
Before him were titans in stature, but in their place comes one in sheer brutality. His fists and forearms are taped for battle, his muscle built for performance and savagery. Inhuman. A wrecking ball in human form. From nowhere, he arrives at this pinnacle, only to be knocked from it in the greatest upset in the history of PRIME. He will regain it from one of his greatest rivals, The Supreme Machine on the biggest stage. Years later, he returns from the sidelines, managing to defy expectations to put a temporary halt to The Murder Show. Rushmore features him prominently. He stands as one of the truest of greats.
6th, 9th, 21st Champion
A goofy wire of man. The most unassuming of all. So long of a shot, his chance comes in the middle of Revolution, a clear expectation of how easy he shall be steamrolled. A Christmas Miracle. Perpetually silly, the joke is not only the Inhuman Being, but also, all those who thought so little of him.
Born from the stars, beloved by all, charismatic, amongst the most skilled the sport has ever seen. He has returned from injury to claim his rightful place, but failure is all that meets him. In this moment, the drums of war sound, the very foundation of PRIME under threat from Machavallian forces. The star rises and turns his back on the fans and people who believed in him, joining the ranks of the devils who claim him to be their friend. Clean shaven, burned by the light. He fights off a record number of challengers. He is where the balance of PRIME rests.
The balance of power shifts. Her face, her essence, are intrinsically linked with PRIME, but in this moment, she is an assumed outsider. This moment changes not only her place in the company, but in her life. Home. The ultimate trendsetter. The Queen of the Ring becomes The Final Boss twice over. Her spot amongst the very greats is without question. Without her, where we stand today isn’t possible.
11th, 13th Champion
The rival to the Queen. Scum looks down upon him. A betrayer of friendship, of allegiance, all for self service. So many times, he fell, unable to answer the challenge, and in doing so, all rejoiced. Driven mad, Ahab manages to rise in his final stand, capturing his illustrious white whale.
Mismatched eyes, lacerating fingernails, and diminutive stature. In one night, she nearly conquers the Halo. In her next match, she manages to usurp the Queen. Scary and unknowable, a chameleon who can assume the identity of any she chooses. She lacks her own agency and identity, yet here, for a time, she can claim the Universal Championship as her own.
The Man in Black hides his pieces and scars under a dress shirt and slacks. A mess of black hair falls along the sides of his face. Many claim him to be emo, but they will come to know him as the ruiner, death incarnate. His war against PRIME will eventually lead to its closure. Even here, with a painted black middle finger, his detestment of PRIME is evident.
Charisma personified. In truth, his arrival to this pinnacle has been foreseen for ages. His potential is limitless, yet in critical moments, he falters. Until here. Until now. Until he realizes the promise after years of toil made to look like a designer accessory. His presence is legendary. His reign, to this point, lasts longer than all others before.
The Unbeatable. The Unconquerable. Awoken from dream, The Original Villain stops fighting with mere bits of his truth skill and strength. The path he cuts lasts over a year, and in its wake, promising careers, legendary challenges, and destinies all fall under his heel. Gone, but never forgotten. Though some draw close, he walks away into the annals of history never having lost the most prestigious prize in the sport.
From the distance, from the ether, his face painted with black, the oddest of sorts, his skin pale, he returns. The Intense Championship is marked as his in all of lore, but after conquering the Halo, he soon after fulfills an impossible destiny, capping off a Hall of Fame career with the final piece it lacked.
Hollywood beckons. A silver screen savant, he brings with him pomp, circumstance, and a director’s vision. An outsider who rises.
CASTOR V. STRIFE
The monster incarnate. The Murder Show. Burly, powerful, a viking from a long forgotten age who has spent an age in PRIME without realizing the fullness of his potential. It is remembering what it is to be dominant that he ascends to his throne, leaving behind a wake of broken bodies and dreams. For a time, the lineage ends with brutality under his knuckles. The oppressive, uncompromising final champion of the Revolution.
20th, 22nd Champion
The spear of the ReVival comes from the Revolution. Before this moment, he is considered the greatest to never win ‘the big one’. After over a decade away, the Tower of Babel rises, removing all doubt, finally taking his place amongst the true greats. The beginning. And after an odyssey of pain, the present. For others in this era, this prize is transient. For him? They are one.
23rd, 29th Champion
A life’s work. Destroy the past and present and burn it all away so the future can rise. The Humble Proprietor has spent his life as an afterthought, cast aside, treated less than human despite his love of the sport he has dedicated his life to. Their cackles and machinations forge an intensity fitting for a monster. The threat. The killer. Robbed of the result of it all. Even in the distance, his name brings chills to the air.
Lights, camera, pucker and kiss. The Anti-Christ. Under t-shades and salt shoes, he brings with him an apocalypse in tracksuit and baby blue. Despised and thought little of, the ultimate cockroach doesn’t just survive but thrive. His threats carry weight because he makes good on his promise. Nobody on this list has a hope of ever being this COOL.
The Event Horizon, the future, all of the ReVival’s promise and dreams comes in his chiseled form. His reverence to PRIME’s past is known, but he makes his own history, taking the Universal Championship for his own and under the most dire of circumstances. He stumbles, but in Hell, he overcomes not only the yang to his ying, but the oppressive boot of the Soviet state.
26th, 28th Champion
Punk rock in all forms, a fighter through and through. He doesn’t care about the championship, just what it brings to him in the ring. The greater fights. The ability to test his penchant for destruction. He snuffed out the promise of the horizon in his void. A goat kick to the head. A free spirit for rebellion against the norms.
With the final image fading away and the song having reached its crescendo, a final shot of the Universal Championship upon its velvet table is shown. And then, we cut to black.
A rich history of greatness.
Will the Son Of The Shogun rise to his moment?
UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH: BRANDON YOUNGBLOOD VS. THE ANGLO LUCHADOR
Vince Howard: The following match is for the Universal Championship and is our MAIN EVENT!
The PRIMEview shifts from the ring to the locker rooms, the percussive beat of Trust Me by Brad Fiedel powering through the CFG Bank Arena sound system. The Baltimore crowd rises to their feet as a door explodes open, roaring when they see the PRIME Universal Champion, Brandon Youngblood, step through to the other side.
The mood and tenor changes, as inside the arena, the stadium lights have dimmed. All attention is paid to the screen, the stride of the Tower of Babel resolute, his expression focused and intense. The vaunted Universal Championship belt is fastened around his waist.
Nick Stuart: Folks…the mood here has officially changed.
Richard Parker: You say that every time he starts to make his entrance during a title defense.
Nick Stuart: After coming out victorious at Tropical Turmoil, many wondered who would be next in line to receive a shot at the Universal Championship. So many top talents could have been given the opportunity. Tonight…it’s deemed to be The Anglo Luchador. Some wonder if the Universal Champion is looking ahead of his opponent tonight…his eyes cast at a potential showdown with Ivan Stanislav.
Richard Parker: And why wouldn’t he? The Russian Bear has proven to be perhaps the most imposing force in PRIME since returning to the sport.
He moves, undaunted, through the hallway as it transitions from locker room doors to the backstage, to the metal supports and the black drapery making up the lead to the entrance ramp. The Universal Champion never wavers, always looking forward on the path he is on.
Nick Stuart: Because of a little bit of history. We are just short of the one year anniversary of ReVival 13. On that night, Brandon Youngblood walked into a Universal Title defense seemingly invincible. Unstoppable. But his challenger…Phil Atken…changed all that. That night created a seismic power shift within PRIME. And while it isn’t the same opponent…some wonder if the road to UltraViolence will have a similar moment.
Richard Parker: Would be quite the upset if that were to happen..
As he neared the steps leading to the Argyle Position, the camera stops, now shooting his back as he ascends and turns, his hand throwing back the curtain. He disappears, the cameraman lingering, the soundtrack having reached its final beats. The fans are ready. And as the show goes back to the arena, we can see the fever pitch is about to reach another level in a few short moments.
The chance of a lifetime.
From the depth of the fall, an impossible dream turning to potential reality.
All that stands in the way is the unflinching, uncompromising standard bearer.
BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD
SKULLS FOR THE SKULL THRONE
LET THE GALAXY BURN
Bloodsport (World Domination) by HEALTH. A wall of dominant noise surges through the stadium, an absolutely raucous ovation erupting within CFG Bank Arena as Brandon Youngblood appears on the entrance ramp, bathed in flickering blue and white lights.
Nick Stuart: A raucous ovation for the Universal Champion!
There is no pause from the Universal Champion to soak in his cheers, instead, with purpose, The Last Diamond marches to the ring, his eyes toward The Anglo Luchador. His oppressive scowl of intensity says it all.
Vince Howard: His opponent…hailing from Bandera, Texas by way of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada… weighing in at 265 pounds… he is…the PRIME…UNIVERSAL! CHAMPION! THE TOOOOOOWER! OF BAAAAAAAABEL! BRAAAAAAAANDON! YOUNGBLOOOOOOOOOD!
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 stadium floor, to the ring steps. There is no slowdown as his feet pound the steel, stepping between the ropes and exploding upright. Once inside, he begins pacing around the outside perimeter of the ring, his eyes locking on TAL, ripping the Universal Championship from his waist and pumping it skyward before extending toward his challenger.
The lights return, and as they do, the Suplex Daddy readies himself in an amateur stance, one hand on a thigh, the other still holding the Universal Championship, a snarl curling his lips. If looks could kill, head official Timo Bolamba might be dead, as he asks for the championship belt.
Nick Stuart: These two men are veterans of this sport, who have battled all around the world, and will have an opportunity to put on a spectacle for the thousands of fans gathered here in Baltimore.
Richard Parker: You want to get some crab cakes after this?
Nick Stuart: …no.
Like the previous show, the screen cuts to black before the sound of a VHS tape being inserted into an old player can be heard.
Fuzzy images of various doctors standing over a large metal tube can be seen with the Farthington Family crest emblazoned upon it. In fact it appears to be an extremely large version of the Farthington Jizz Canister, in fact it’s more like a Largington Cum Capsule. A small window set into the iron hide of the tube flashes with bright reds and blues. When they cease the doctors seem to nod knowingly to each other.
More shaky, found footage shows the same scientist at an undisclosed period of time later. They appear to be removing bolts from the large, suspiciously jizz canister shaped metal tube the lights had been emanating from. As soon as it is cracked open there is a loud hiss and a cloud of white smoke pours out of the broken seal.
Mysterious Woman: I’m sure you have a lot of questions right now.
A woman’s voice breaks over the poorly filmed footage. Long, spider-like fingers can be seen creeping out of the smoky innards of the tube. Just as a dark figure shifts from inside the metal tube and begins to slide into the light the footage freezes.
Mysterious Woman: Lots of spooky things can be inferred from this video. Probably a whole bunch of questions like.. Why the Farthington Sperm Box? Probably some others, I’m not a creative person. Just put all those questions you probably have out of your minds, kiddos.
The scene suddenly shifts to a stern looking, portly woman in her mid fifties with black and gray Karen hair. A pair of black horn-rimmed glasses sit on a short, stubby nose with a pair of overly large, judgemental eyes peer through them. She looks, to say the least, like a middle manager’s worst nightmare.
Mysterious Woman: My name is Ulsa N. Couth, head of U.N. Couth Talent Representatives Agency.
She flashes an insincere smile at the camera, a poorly practiced stretch of the lips that looked more like a sneer.
U.N. Couth: The footage you have seen is the first steps of my newest client entering a new phase of his life. He’s refreshed, refurbished and reborn. He’s ready to make his first ever PRIM3 on August 11th, at the PPG Paints Arena on ReVival 33. My client is ready to shake the foundation of this company and bring decades.. DECADES worth of experience.. All in the body of a 24 year old wrestling PRODIGY. A Legend and a Hall of Famer and technically he’s never even stopped into a professional wrestling ring before..
She is practically drooling as she builds up her mysterious client with a hungry, greedy gleam in her eyes.
U.N. Couth: So before you ask yourself anything.. You need to ask yourself one question. The first question I asked myself when I met my client. The ONLY question you need to ask yourself before ReVival 33. And that question, sweeties?
A low, throating laugh burples up Couth’s throat. Before she can answer she simply winks at the screen before it goes black.
Then we see the question.
The first question.
The only question.